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Showing posts from December, 2003
Dems help Bush with his wish list

George Will:

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"Every president seeking a second term wants to have at his back the wind from three things -- a strong foreign policy, a strong economy and a weak opponent. The new year dawns with Democrats apparently determined to complete the wish-list trifecta of the president they dislike more than any president since Richard Nixon. In 1972 they did Nixon the favor of nominating the opponent he would have chosen, George McGovern."
Dean covers gaffes with more gaffes

Robert Novak:

"Steve Murphy, Rep. Richard Gephardt's campaign manager, this week professed to being baffled. How is it possible, he wondered, that Howard Dean's bizarre comments about Osama bin Laden attracted so little news media attention? The answer is that apart from being obscured by the holiday season, the Democratic presidential front-runner's words got lost in his own stream of unusual remarks.

"Dean's post-Christmas comments that he could not suggest a penalty for the terrorist leader and author of the 9/11 catastrophe until he was judged guilty had no time to sink in before he began saying things that stunned his party's faithful. He sniped at Democratic National Chairman Terry McAuliffe for not protecting him from the party's other candidates, and warned of his 1.5 million supporters defecting if any other Democrat is nominated for president.

"Dean's holiday performance reflects the yearlong patter…
Finding al Qaeda in the Caucus Mountains

Peter Baker, Washington Post:

"They hunted Abu Ayat for more than a year, and while it might not seem that hard to catch up with a one-legged man, he eluded all pursuers.

"U.S. intelligence agencies and their allies in the Caucasus region tracked him from Georgia's Pankisi Gorge, where he and other Arab militants had taken refuge alongside Chechen guerrillas for years, according to Georgian and U.S. officials. They followed the trail across the rugged Caucasus Mountains. Finally, in September 2003, they cornered him and two dozen guards in Baku, the capital of Azerbaijan.

"The unheralded capture of Abu Ayat, who intelligence agencies say was an al Qaeda commander, was a small chapter in the United States' war against groups it designates as terrorist, a conflict played out not just in the Middle East, Afghanistan and Southeast Asia but, with little publicity, across the former Soviet Union.

"U.S. authorities have qui…
Surrendering weapons

Michael Gordon, NY Times:

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"Libya's important and welcome decision to abandon its unconventional weapons programs is all the more interesting since the same government that got Libya into the business of developing forbidden weapons has now ordered the change of course.

"But the larger issue is whether North Korea and Iran can be similarly disarmed and, if so, how best to go about it.

"Libya never got very far down the nuclear road and its weapons programs were not enough of a worry to rate inclusion in the "axis of evil" proclaimed by President Bush in his State of the Union speech in 2002. (Iraq, Iran and North Korea made the cut).

"While Libya had acquired centrifuges on the black market, it had not assembled them into a large-scale cascade for producing highly enriched uranium. When it came to a nuclear arsenal, Libya was abandoning a distant — but still dangerous — dream, not a real ability.

"North Korea and Iran are mu…
The Palestinian enemy

Instapundit:

"THE UNITED STATES SHOULD NOT TRY to play a 'neutral arbiter' in the Israeli/Palestinian dispute. We should, in fact, be doing our best to make the Palestinians suffer, because, to put it bluntly, they are our enemies. Just read this post and follow the links to see how they feel about America.

"And read this piece by Amir Taheri on the Iraqi 'resistance,' which notes Palestinian terror connections by the Iraqi insurgents, and features a Palestinian 'journalist' egging them on.

"These folks are our enemies, and deserve to be treated as such. They don't deserve a state of their own. It's not clear that they even deserve to keep what they've got. I don't think this means that the Bush Administration should be taking direction action against them -- closing off their funding via shutting down Saddam is a good start, and a policy of slow strangulation directed at Arafat and his fellow terrorists is pro…
Media has a cow

David Ropeik:

"The coverage of mad cow disease is demonstrating the tendency for reporters and editors to play up the dramatic, the frightening and the controversial aspects of risk stories, and to play down or omit altogether information that puts the risk in perspective. This fans public fears and drives demands that the government spend time and money protecting us from risks that aren't as big as such coverage leads us to believe.

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"Finally, consider that in 2001 a study by our center at Harvard found that if mad cow disease occurred in the American cattle herd, the chance that it would spread to other animals or pose a threat to human health is extraordinarily low. This is because of the feed ban. Even with incomplete compliance, this ban keeps the disease from expanding through the herd, all but eliminating the chance that infected material will reach our tables. An isolated case, or several, is possible. But a large-scale threat to animals or huma…
Mooing candidates

Washington Post Editorial:

"DEMOCRATIC presidential candidates lost no time tagging the Bush administration as soft on mad cow disease. Democratic front-runner Howard Dean announced that the discovery of an infected cow in Washington state 'raises serious concerns about the ability of this administration to protect the safety of our nation's food supply.' Sen. John F. Kerry (D-Mass.) helpfully urged President Bush 'for once not to listen to the demands of corporate America and act on behalf of the health and economic needs of all Americans.' All of this may be good politics for candidates who have to campaign in farm states such as Iowa. The trouble is that, at least at this stage, there is no particular reason to think that the regulatory systems designed to prevent an outbreak of bovine spongiform encephalopathy in this country didn't function as intended.

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"...Treating the issue as a partisan one can actually contribute to consum…
Peace not an option for Palestinians

Arnold Beichman:

"I wonder why the thesis is rarely examined publicly that the Palestinians will never never never never never never never be allowed to make peace with Israel even if the Palestinians wanted to. Yasser Arafat, Hamas, Hezbollah and free-lance terrorists won't allow it to happen because they believe victory is at hand. The reason this thesis is not on anybody's public agenda is that were it considered a reality it would mean recognizing the futility of Oslo-Camp David-shuttle diplomacy.

"To operate from such an approach would mean accepting that peace and stability in the area is inconceivable. I believe that Israel could close down all the settlements, home to 220,000 Jews, in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, and still the three-year Palestinian uprising would continue and intensify. Why? Because the PLO regards Israel as the Settlement, which has to be 'relocated,' as the PLO constitution has it, right into th…
Shaking the ground under their feet

Islamic clerics have always asked Allah to shake the ground under the feet of their enemies. What can you say about skaing the ground under the feet if the fidels.

"The Iranian spiritual leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei yesterday managed to get to Bam, three days after the earthquake which may have killed 30,000 of his fellow Iranians. The president, Mohammad Khatami, followed soon afterwards. Khamenei had words of dubious comfort for survivors when he told them that "we will rebuild Bam stronger than before". Given the collapse of 80% of the buildings, from the old fortress to the new hospitals, the Iranian government could hardly make the new Bam as weak as the old one.

"Some will see this as simply a natural disaster of the kind to which Iran, according to Khatami, is 'prone.' Four days earlier, however, there had been another earthquake of about the same intensity, this time in California. In which about 0.000001% of th…
Hating Bush

Robert Samuelson:

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"...If he succeeded less, he'd be hated less. His fiercest detractors don't loathe him merely because they think he's mediocre, hypocritical and simplistic. What they truly resent is that his popularity suggests that the country might be more like him than it is like them. They fear he's exiling them politically. On one level, their embrace of hatred aims to make others share their outrage; but on another level, it's a self-indulgent declaration of moral superiority -- something that makes them feel better about themselves. Either way, it represents another dreary chapter in the continuing coarsening of public discourse."
The war continues

Telegraph opinion:

"Following September 11, 2001, George W Bush warned that the war on terrorists and their sponsors would be long and of global reach. Persistent pursuit of such a goal was always going to be hard to maintain, whether because of the softer options offered the electorate by the political opposition or through bureaucratic inertia. Sensing this, two neo-conservatives, David Frum and Richard Perle, have issued a renewed wake-up call in a book to be published tomorrow.

" 'We can feel the will to win ebbing in Washington,' they write in An End to Evil. 'We sense the reversion to the bad old habits of complacency and denial.' They remind their readers that the likes of Osama bin Laden require another spectacular act of mass murder to justify their propaganda, and conclude that there is no middle way between victory and holocaust.

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"It is, perhaps, best to see the Frum and Perle book as the opening shot in a bid to set the ag…
Perle and Frum present their case

The Telegraph:

"President George W Bush was sent a public manifesto yesterday by Washington's hawks, demanding regime change in Syria and Iran and a Cuba-style military blockade of North Korea backed by planning for a pre-emptive strike on its nuclear sites.

"The manifesto, presented as a 'manual for victory' in the war on terror, also calls for Saudi Arabia and France to be treated not as allies but as rivals and possibly enemies.

"The manifesto is contained in a new book by Richard Perle, a Pentagon adviser and 'intellectual guru' of the hardline neo-conservative movement, and David Frum, a former Bush speechwriter. They give warning of a faltering of the 'will to win' in Washington."
Saturday Night Live takes on Gore and Dean

The script:

Al Gore: Oh no, that's accurate. It's from Tuesday's column. [ back to his sales pitch ] Like you, Howard Dean knows.. the wreckless.. foreign policy of the current administration has alienated our allies.. and left us in a hopeless quagmire in Iraq, where, quite frankly, our military's looking like a bunch of incompetent.. cowardly.. losers!

Howard Dean: Let me just say that I, uh.. I have nothing but.. respect for our troops.

Al Gore: As President, only a Howard Dean.. could end this insanity. Only a Howard Dean.. could go to Saddam Hussein and say, "Look! Why are we fighting each other? Our real enemy.. is George.. W. Bush."

Howard Dean: For the record, that is, uh.. not actually my position on Iraq, I.. don't know where you got that..

Al Gore: In domestic policy, Howard Dean will show the same kind of leadership.. by calling for massive across-the-board tax increases.

Howard Dean: No.. [ chuckl…
Germans police react to threat of suicide car bomb attack on US military hospital

BBC:

"Police in Germany have increased security at a military hospital in the city of Hamburg after a bomb warning.

"City police said they had received a tip suggesting that extremists were planning a suicide car bomb attack.

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"German intelligence services said the warning came from a US intelligence agency.

"The threat is thought to come from the militant group Ansar al-Islam, based in northern Iraq.

"More than 100 police officers armed with sub-machine guns, soldiers and explosives experts have been sent to the scene.

"Police using sniffer dogs are also checking cars entering the area."

Defeating Iraq's army in 23 days

Strategy Page:

"The 23 day campaign to defeat Iraq in 2003 is now being examined by all the participants to determine what was most responsible for making such a striking victory possible. Researchers at the Army War College did a study, interviewing 176 participants (including Iraqis) and concluded that the major factors were the new technologies (GPS smart bombs and satellite communications systems like Blue Force tracker) and the much higher skill levels of coalition troops. The Iraqis had expected smart bombs, but they were unable to cope with the sheer speed of the advance and combat tactics of the Americans. And when the Iraqis fought, and they often did, and quite steadfastly, the better trained American troops just blew them away. The Iraqis were in shock from all this, and after about 20 days, resistance collapsed. The word got around that to fight the Americans was to die quickly. Nothing worked against them, and they would keep coming…
Syrian company with ties to government helped Iraq evade weapons ban

LA Times:

"A Syrian trading company with close ties to the ruling regime smuggled weapons and military hardware to Saddam Hussein between 2000 and 2003, helping Syria become the main channel for illicit arms transfers to Iraq despite a stringent U.N. embargo, documents recovered in Iraq show.

"The private company, called SES International Corp., is headed by a cousin of Syria's autocratic leader, Bashar Assad, and is controlled by other members of Assad's Baath Party and Alawite clan. Syria's government assisted SES in importing at least one shipment destined for Iraq's military, the Iraqi documents indicate, and Western intelligence reports allege that senior Syrian officials were involved in other illicit transfers.

"Iraqi records show that SES signed more than 50 contracts to supply tens of millions of dollars' worth of arms and equipment to Iraq's military shortly before the U…
Khadafi comes to senses

James Robbins:

"...Those who view international relations in these either-or terms miss the important role that coercive measures play in negotiations, and vice-versa. As Frederick the Great observed, 'diplomacy without arms is like music without instruments.' These talks did not come out of the blue. Muammar Khaddafi could well have seen himself suffering the same fate as Saddam Hussein in the near future; like Saddam, he sought to obtain weapons of mass destruction, and was a major sponsor of international terrorism....

"The significance of the new Libyan policy is not so much how it came about as the philosophy it apparently represents. It is a frank recognition that the rules of the game have changed. Khaddafi has come to understand that in the post-9/11 international climate, WMDs do not bring strength. In fact, they are a decided liability, and countries like Libya are more secure without them than with them. Libyan Foreign Minister Abd-al…
What is wrong with these people?

Victor Davis Hanson:

"...by any comparative standard of military history, the last two difficult years, despite setbacks and disappointments, represent a remarkable military achievement .Yet no one would ever gather even the slightest acknowledgment of such success from our Democratic grandees. Al Gore dubbed the Iraqi liberation a quagmire and, absurdly, the worst mistake in the history of American foreign policy. Howard Dean, more absurdly, suggested that the president of the United States might have had foreknowledge of September 11. Most Americans now shudder at the thought that the former might have been president in this time of crisis — and that the latter still could be.

"Often American and European writers echo the fury of Gore and Dean. For example, on the day before Saddam Hussein was captured, one could reread in the International Herald Tribune a long reprinted rant by Paul Krugman, the Princeton professor. He exclaimed, 'In th…
Dean's choice on the war on terror

Dean's comments on bin Ladens suggest he believes the war on terror should be fought by the Justice Department rather than the Department of Defense.
Hating Israel more than they love life

Dennis Prager:

"If you want to understand the Middle East conflict, Iran has just provided all you need to know.

"A massive earthquake kills between 20,000 and 40,000 Iranians, and the government of Iran announces that help is welcome from every country in the world . . . except Israel.

"This little-reported news item is of great significance. It begs commentary.

"Israel not only has the world's most experienced crews in quickly finding survivors in bombed out buildings, it is also a mere two-hour flight from Iran. In other words, no country in the world would come close to Israel in its ability to save Iranian lives quickly.

"But none of this means anything to the rulers of Iran. The Islamic government of Iran has announced to the world that it is better for fellow countrymen and fellow Muslims -- men, women and children -- to die buried under rubble than to be saved by a Jew from Israel."
Doomed Dems

David Limbaugh:

"Governor Dean says the Democrats' 2004 presidential aspirations are doomed if he doesn't get the nomination. Dean's Democratic opponents say the Democrats are doomed if Dean does get the nomination. I think they're both right."
Dean makes more reckless charges against Bush

Washington Post:

"From Iraq to homeland security to public health, President Bush's 'reckless' habit of placing 'ideology over facts' has resulted in 'the most dangerous administration in my lifetime,' Democrat Howard Dean charged over the past two days.

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" 'If we are safer, how come we lost 10 more troops and raised the safety alert' to the orange level, Dean said Sunday night in Ankeny, Iowa."

Actually Howard the answer to these questions is pretty easy. The US is safer because our intelligence is able to detect al Qaeda threats and notify law enforcement and themilitary when attacks are anticipated. Prior to 9-11 we were not able to do that. As for the unfortunate deaths of troops in Iraq, they were killed defending US interest there rather than haaving to derfend them in this country.

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"Dean accused Bush of taking 'enormous risks' by refusing to negotiate with North…
Questions for Howard Dean

Rich Lowry:

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"-- The U.N. Security Council in November 2002 unanimously passed Resolution 1441, giving Saddam Hussein 'a final opportunity to comply.' How do you interpret the phrase 'final opportunity'?

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"-- You say the United States shouldn't have fought the Iraq War because Saddam did not present 'an imminent threat' to the United States. Yet you supported wars in the 1990s in Bosnia and Kosovo. How exactly did Slobodan Milosevic pose an imminent threat to the United States?

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"-- You quit the Episcopal Church because you thought its position on a Burlington, Vt., bike path was 'not very Godlike.' What is God's position on bike paths? Scriptural references would be helpful.

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"-- You say that Republicans want to end public education. Education spending under Bush has increased 65 percent. How is that consistent with the alleged goal of ending public education?

"-- Did you have any fav…
Al Qaeda assination strategy moves to Saudi Arabia

NY Times:

"Islamic militants in Saudi Arabia with links to Al Qaeda appear to be making a concerted new effort to destabilize the Saudi government by assassinating top security officials, according to senior American officials.

"A series of assassination attempts in the last month, including a failed car bombing in the Saudi capital on Monday, have also included a previously undisclosed shooting in early December of Maj. Gen. Abdelaziz al-Huweirini. As the No. 3 official in Saudi Arabia's Interior Ministry, he is the kingdom's top counterterrorism official."

In the past few days two attempts have also been made on the life of Pakistan's president. In this case it appears that al Qaeda is targeting those who are responsible for fighting them. Tacticly the attacks make more sense than the random attacks on foreign compounds. So far they have not been successful. It is likely that such attacks will make those…
Antiwar cowboyphobics

Mark Steyn:

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"...I could as easily have cited Sir Malcolm Rifkind or Sir Max Hastings, both broadly conservative types driven bonkers by their cowboyphobia.

" 'It is hard not to hate George Bush,' wrote Hastings the other day. 'His ignorance and conceit, his professed special relationship with God, invite revulsion. A few weeks ago, I heard a British diplomat observe sagely: `We must not demonise Rumsfeld and Wolfowitz.' Why not? The US defence secretary and his assistant have implemented coalition policy in Iraq in a fashion that makes Soviet behaviour in Afghanistan in the 1970s appear dextrous.'

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"The real story of this past year is not Saddam, but something deeper, symbolised by the bizarre persistence of the 'anti-war' movement even after the war was over. For a significant chunk of the British establishment and for most of the governing class on the Continent, if it's a choice between an America-led West o…
In France journalist are fired for telling the truth

International Herald Tribune:

"Alain Hertoghe believes that in covering the Iraq conflict, French newspapers recreated 'the war they would have liked to have seen.' That meant concentration on the Vietnams and Stalingrads that didn't take place, he said, and so many more accounts of U.S. difficulties rather than advances that it was 'impossible to understand how the Americans won.'

"For making assertions like these in a book called 'La Guerre à Outrances,' subtitled 'How the press disinformed us on Iraq' and published by Calmann Lévy, Hertoghe was fired this month from his post as deputy editor at the Web site of La Croix, a respected Roman Catholic daily newspaper.

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"Hertoghe's book covers the performance of four national newspapers and France's largest regional daily over a three-week period in March and April. It contends that the coverage was ideological, in line with t…
The right side of history, the wrong side of the border

A Canadian trapped in an American body:

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"Well, I am a recovering liberal, and Sept. 11 is my dry date.

"That morning, my leftist life flashed before my eyes. I remembered to my shame all of those 'Yankee, go homes' I had chanted as a Reagan-era peacenik. And rolling my eyes at the tacky teddy bear memorials at the Oklahoma City bombing and muttering, 'You would think a building never had blown up before.'

"How sophisticated I was. And how sick.

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"I have taken to wearing a Stars and Stripes scarf. When asked about it, I explain that I use it to strangle old draft dodgers."
Mad Dem disease

Howard Dean critized the president for not being an effective beef inspector and not having an instant tracing system.

Is there any death Dems will not exploit for political purpose. Already Democrats have tried to use the death of US soldiers in Iraq for political purposes and to oppose the very mission the soldiers are working on. Now they exploit the death of one cow to attack the Bush administration.

This action is unworthy of a national political party.
The al Qaeda offensive

The Belmont Club:

"The ending threads of 2003 are the frustrated Al Qaeda attack on America, the dual failed assassination attempts on Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf, the Libyan undertaking to dismantle its WMD programs and the capture of Saddam Hussein.

"The first two are significant because they didn't happen and the last two because they did. By far the most important was the proof by contradiction that the AQ has failed to keep pace with the United States since September 11....

"Despite analysis to contrary, the AQ was never going to seize power in Pakistan, which belongs to factions in the local power elite, especially the army. No Arab will ever be suffered to lead that nation, so AQ participation in the assassination attempts were more an assertion of their king-making abilities rather than in any real expectation of being kings themselves. And there they failed again.

"The planned AQ attacks were clearly the culmination of lon…
The Dems problem with white men

Ronald Brownstein:

"President Bush's overwhelming strength among white men looms as a central obstacle between Democrats and the White House as 2004 approaches.

"In an election season heavily shaped by terrorism and national security, several recent polls suggest that Bush could dominate white male voters as thoroughly as Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush did during their three successive presidential victories in the 1980s.

" 'Clearly, it is where the Democrats are going to have their biggest difficulty,' said Ruy Teixeira, a public-opinion analyst at the Century Foundation, a liberal think tank.

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"White men have given Democrats problems in presidential elections for decades, and 'are trending more Republican over time,' said Stanley B. Greenberg, the pollster for Al Gore in 2000 and Bill Clinton in 1992.

" 'Younger, married white men are disastrously, overwhelmingly Republican,' he said. 'Ever…
Saddam admits to theft of funds

Newsday:

"Saddam Hussein has acknowledged depositing billions of dollars abroad before his ouster and has given interrogators the names of people who know where the money is, a member of the Iraqi Governing Council said in remarks published Monday.

"The U.S.-appointed council estimates that the Iraqi dictator seized $40 billion while in power and is now searching for that amount deposited in Switzerland, Japan, Germany and other countries, Iyad Allawi told the London-based Arab newspapers Al-Hayat and Asharq al-Awsat.

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"Allawi said Saddam, who has been questioned by American interrogators since his capture this month, gave names of people who know where the money is deposited and also know the location of arms and ammunition depots used by insurgents in attacks against the coalition forces and the Governing Council.

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"In Baghdad, Ahmed al-Bayak, anouther member of the U.S.-appointed Iraqi Governing Council, said he was informed …
The Bush peace dividend

Strategy Page:

"The War on Terror has had an unintended, and welcome, side effect; world peace. Since September 11, 2001, and the aggressive American operations against terrorist organizations, several long time wars have ended, or moved sharply in that direction. Many of these wars get little attention in American media, but have killed hundreds of thousands of people over the last decade. These include conflicts in Nepal, Sri Lanka, Colombia, Chad, Congo, Kashmir, Israel, Kurdistan, Philippines, Burundi, Somalia and Sudan. Some of these conflicts diminished because they had been going on for a while and, as is usually the case with wars, eventually the participants are worn down and make peace. But in all these sudden outbreaks of peace there was another factor; an American crackdown on terrorist activities around the world. The rebels in most of these wars depended on money raised outside their country to keep the fighting going, and on gun runners able t…
Breaking and entering

Ralph Peters:

"Iraq has long been known for its archaeological sites, from Ur to Babylon. But the instant archaeology of Saddam's regime lies in the mass graves strewn throughout the country. The men our troops are rounding up filled those graves to the brim. They're also behind the current attacks our soldiers.

"* Nor do the journalists, so many of whom still long for our defeat, explain why our troops employ the tactics shown in the clips. These raids are like police operations against armed-and-dangerous drug cartels. You go in swift and strong to stay alive. You don't knock on the door and call, 'Yoo-hoo? Anybody home? Would you like to shoot first?'

"When you launch a raid of the type we're staging in Baghdad and the Sunni Triangle, you strive for overwhelming physical force and stunning psychological impact. The inhabitants must feel powerless and disoriented - and hopelessly outnumbered.

"This keeps our troops al…
The reductio ad Hitlerum

Jeff Jacoby:

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"...Why meet a conservative with facts or logic when you can simply tar him with the Nazi brush? Thus we had Nancy Giles on the 'CBS Sunday Morning show' sourly tying Rush Limbaugh's 'edgy' radio manner to you-know-who's. 'Hitler would have killed in talk radio,' Giles declared. 'He was edgy, too.' Ellen Gray of the Philadelphia Daily News struck a similar note in commenting on 'The Reagans,' the cancelled miniseries. 'If Hitler had more friends,' she told The Washington Post, 'CBS wouldn't have aired [its Hitler mini-series] either.'

"But of course no one came in for more Hitler comparisons this year than George W. Bush. Third Reich references were practically a staple of antiwar rhetoric.

"The president 'is not the orator that Hitler was,' acknowledged leftist commentator Dave Lindorff at Counterpunch.org. 'But comparisons of the Bush administrat…
Brookings doubts

Donald Lambro:

"Many of Howard Dean's top foreign policy advisers are from the Brookings Institution, an ultraliberal think tank that has served and staffed numerous Democratic administrations.

"Some senior scholars there have doubts about Mr. Dean's inexperience in foreign affairs and his positions on national security issues and the war against terrorism.

" 'His lack of commitment on Iraq, given where we now find ourselves, is unacceptable and also politically suicidal next year if he is the Democratic nominee,' says Michael E. O'Hanlon, Brookings' senior fellow in foreign policy.

" 'At different times, Dean has called for reduced funding in Iraq,' Mr. O'Hanlon told me. 'Other times, he said our troops should be brought home and that Arab troops should be sent there. More recently, he said the world is no safer after Saddam's capture. I think all these points are simply indefensible.'

...

"...…
Dean and the South

New York Daily News columnist Zev Chafets writes:

"...Dean imagines that they're too stupid to think. ... 'This assumption runs especially strong in what Dean likes to call 'the Democratic wing of the Democratic Party.'

"These people don't believe in much, but they are fervent on the subject of their own superiority. To them, America's red states (as identified in TV maps on Election Night 2000) are populated by ignorant cowboys, unwashed swampies, hellfire preachers, beauty parlor bimbos, redneck sheriffs, Confederate flag wavers and retarded hillbilly kids sitting in trees playing the banjo.

"This picture of Southern inferiority, like all articles of faith, is immune to both empirical observation and personal experience. To guys like Dean, Dixie is and will forever remain a vast county fair where a slick Yaleman can sell 5-gallon jugs of snake oil in return for votes."
Osama the drug smuggler

Rowan Scarborough:

"Osama bin Laden's al Qaeda network has become deeply involved in international drug trafficking, using the money to buy arms and, possibly, radioactive material for use in a so-called 'dirty' nuclear bomb, senior U.S. officials say.

"The seizure earlier this month of boats carrying heroin and hashish, and operated by al Qaeda-linked persons, has brought to light an al Qaeda drug operation that has grown tremendously since the September 11 attacks, the sources say.

" 'Bin Laden does not mind trafficking in drugs, even though it's against the teaching of Islam, because it's being used to kill Westerners,' said a defense official who asked not to be named. 'He has allies and associates who are not members per se, but who move products for him and take drugs and buy arms and give the arms to al Qaeda.' "
Dean's secret energy task force

John Soloman:

"Democratic presidential contender Howard Dean has demanded the release of the deliberations of Vice President Dick Cheney's energy task force. But as Vermont governor, Mr. Dean had an energy task force that met in secret and angered state lawmakers."
Tightening the noose in Iraq

AP:

"U.S. forces hunting top and midlevel leaders of the Iraqi insurgency are close to unraveling a network of five powerful clans that have funneled money, weapons and instructions to street gunmen and bomb makers, according to a U.S. Army commander.

"A decline in the number, though not necessarily the severity, of attacks on U.S. forces in recent weeks has allowed troops time to track the top level of the insurgency and the former regime -- an effort capped by the arrest of Saddam Hussein earlier this month.

"Over months of intelligence gathering that began with the arrests of an outer circle of Saddam's bodyguards, U.S. forces say they have reduced the ranks of rebel leaders coming from five powerful families.

"Those clans have largely directed the insurgency around Tikrit, Saddam's hometown and the hub of a volatile zone to the north and west of Baghdad where most of the attacks on coalition forces have been launched, said …
Help me Jeebus

Julian Sanchez:

"In the wake of The New Republic's cover story on the electoral problems posed by Howard Dean's secularism, the candidate has announced his intention to begin spreading the gospel... in the South. This strikes me as bizarre. It'd be one thing to have just done it. But it seems potentially counterproductive for someone who's already on record as saying he doesn't go to church much and doesn't let his religion influence his politics to, in essence, announce that he's made a strategic decision to pull out the God-talk for the rubes below the Mason-Dixon (while, presumably, abstaining up North). If his secularism is offputting to religious voters, isn't this kind of calculated, condescending pandering likely to be even more so?"
The importance of Pakistan

The Guardain:

"Here is one terrorist threat even Tony Blair doesn't need to vamp up. It is self-evidently real and ominously recurrent. If, one day soon, it claims its target, then the world of Bush and Blair - plus their so-called war against Osama and chums - will be rocked to its core. The peril couldn't be greater, the edifice more ripe for toppling. Yet somehow, when these bombs go off, we shrug and look away. Somehow we don't make the connections.

"Consider the chill facts, though. Twice, during the 10 days before Christmas, General Pervez Musharraf, Pakistan's president, has narrowly survived highly professional assassination attempts. First, the bridge he was travelling over near Islamabad was destroyed by five separate charges only seconds after his car made it to the other side. (An electronic blocking device in his limo bought him the fraction of time that saved his life.)

"Then, as if to signal al-Qaida's return…
Brits put armed sky marshalls on overseas flights

The Telegraph:

"The immediate deployment of armed sky marshals on British transatlantic airliners was sanctioned by the Government last night because of a heightened threat of terrorist attacks. More screening at British airports and protection of aircraft while on the ground have also been ordered."

Democracy and its enemies in the middle-east

Bernard Lewis:

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"The attempt to bring freedom to the Middle East evokes two fears: one in the U.S. and still more in Europe, that it will fail; and the other, among many of the present rulers of the region, that it will succeed.

...

"If freedom fails and terror triumphs, the peoples of Islam will be the first and greatest victims. They will not be alone, and many others will suffer with them."
Kerry attacks Dean

From AP report:

"What kind of muddled thinking is it if you can't instantly say that in your heart you know that bin Laden is guilty?" Kerry asked. "After every episode comes a statement trying to explain it away. Will Americans really vote for a foreign policy by clarifying press release?"
Saudis seize light planes packed with exposives

"Saudi security forces have seized light planes packed with explosives near Riyadh's King Khalid airport, foiling a plot by suicide pilots to blow up a Western airliner on the runway, a British newspaper said on Sunday.

"Two pilots apparently intended to crash their light planes into a Western jet as it taxied slowly on the tarmac, the Mail on Sunday quoted Patrick Mercer, homeland security policy chief for Britain's opposition Conservative Party as saying."
Where they like the US

Tom Friedman:

"Poland is the most pro-American country in the world — including the United States."
The strategy of the weak

Thom Shanker:

"The American military has now fought two wars in two years, earning two dramatically swift battlefield victories that are already changing the face of future warfare.

"It seems clear that the American military will have few worries any time soon about rivals in technical proficiency and the reach of its power. So the next thing to expect is for the weak to change the way they struggle against it.

...

"While war itself remains an unpredictable enterprise, the American military this year proved it needs far smaller forces than ever before when it wants to reach around the globe and grab the throat of an adversary. In Iraq, as in Afghanistan the year before, it marched to the enemy's capital with a loss of life far below Pentagon projections.

...

"The American advantage was not solely a matter of smart bombs, but also of smarter troops with better training and a higher level of commitment.

"Even so, adversaries committed …
A Pak mole

Massoud Ansari in Karachi:

"One of two suicide bombers involved in Thursday's assassination attempt on General Pervez Musharraf was tipped off in a mobile telephone call that the Pakistani president was about to pass by, security officials believe.

"Witnesses have revealed that the man drove off at speed from a service station after receiving two calls in quick succession, raising suspicions that a mole close to Gen Musharraf is passing information to terrorists.

"Less than 10 minutes after receiving the call, he and another attacker drove two vehicles, each packed with 65lbs of explosive, into police vehicles escorting Gen Musharraf, killing 15 people and injuring 46. The blasts littered the area with human remains and smashed the windscreen of Musharraf's black Mercedes-Benz.

"Last week's attackers were lying in wait at two service stations. One suspect sped away after the telephone calls...."
The terrorist are losing

Con Coughlin:

"We are winning the war on terror. To some this statement might appear somewhat rash in view of how 2003 is drawing to a close. French flights to America cancelled because of a potential threat by al-Qaeda; a failed assassination attempt (the second this month) against President Pervez Musharraf of Pakistan; and yet more US troops killed by a roadside bomb in Iraq.

...

"The most significant policy shift to emerge in Washington and, to a lesser extent, in London following the September 11 attacks was the introduction of the policy of pre-emption - hitting your enemy hard before they have the chance to hit you.

...

"When assessed on the basis of these criteria, then, the war on terror does not appear to be quite the calamity that some of its critics would have us believe. The Taliban regime in Afghanistan, which for many years provided a safe haven for bin Laden and his followers, has been decisively defeated, and bin Laden's opera…
Dean is bad medicine for Dems

George Will:

"Arthur Goldberg was a fine public servant -- secretary of labor, Supreme Court justice, ambassador to the United Nations -- but a dreadful candidate for governor of New York in 1970, when it was said that if he gave one more speech he would lose Canada, too. Howard Dean is becoming Goldbergean.

"Regarding foreign policy, Dean recently said not only that America is no safer because Saddam Hussein was captured but that America is 'no safer today than the day the planes struck the World Trade Center.' Well. He says he supported the war to remove the Taliban in Afghanistan, although he thinks it made us no safer. And even though he says the war in Iraq made us no safer, he says he would 'not have hesitated' to attack Iraq if the United Nations had given us 'permission.'

"Because Dean's foreign policy pronouncements have been curiouser and curiouser, his recent speech on domestic policy did not get the at…
French may have tipped of terrorist

Washington Times:

"One or more terror suspects may have escaped due to a premature disclosure in France of the security concerns behind the cancellation of Christmas flights to Los Angeles, U.S. officials said yesterday.

"One official said 'a chorus of groans' from the Department of Homeland Security to the White House went out when the French made clear at the time the cancellations had been ordered for security reasons.

"Washington believed that the longer publicity could have been avoided, 'the greater the chance to catch anybody else who was suspected of being involved,' he said. 'The French announcement caught everyone off guard.'

"U.S. law enforcement and intelligence officials had hoped all the suspects could be detained as they showed up for the flights, said a senior U.S. official familiar with the situation who did not want to be identified."
Another attempt to kill Musharraf

NY Times:

"Government officials said Friday that they had found part of the remains of one of the two suicide bombers who on Thursday attacked the convoy of the Pakistani president, Gen. Pervez Musharraf. The officials said they were in the process of identifying the remains.

...

"Two suicide bombers driving vans, each thought to contain about 50 to 60 pounds of explosives, rammed into General Musharraf's motorcade in Rawalpindi.

"According to government officials, 15 people, including the bombers, were killed in the attack, which came close enough to the president to damage the windshield of his limousine.

"It was the second attempt in 11 days to kill General Musharraf, who escaped unhurt both times."

The desperation of the attacks on Musharraf suggest al Qaeda is very afraaid of Pakistan's cooperation witht he US. The attacks also coincide witht he discovery that elements of Pakistan's nuclrear program provided as…
French "diplomacy"

Amir Taheri:

...

"France’s passionate campaign to keep Saddam in power won no plaudits from the Arabs.

"Many Arab leaders regard France as a maverick power that could get them involved in an unnecessary, and ultimately self-defeating, conflict with the United States.

“ 'I cannot imagine what Chirac was thinking,' says a senior Saudi official on condition of anonymity. 'How could he expect us to join him in preventing the Americans from solving our biggest problem which was the presence of Saddam Hussein in power in Baghdad?'

"Another senior Arab diplomat, from Egypt, echoes the sentiment.

“ 'The French did not understand that the Arabs desired the end of Saddam, although they had to pretend that this was not the case,' he says."
Aftershocks of war

Charles Krauthammer:

"Yeah, sure. After 18 years of American sanctions, Gaddafi randomly picks Dec. 19, 2003, as the day for his surrender. By amazing coincidence, Gaddafi's first message to Britain -- principal U.S. war ally and conduit to White House war councils -- occurs just days before the invasion of Iraq. And his final capitulation to U.S.-British terms occurs just five days after Saddam is fished out of a rat hole.

...

"What kind of naif thinks that this is a triumph for 'diplomacy,' as if, say, Bill Clinton had sent Warren Christopher to Tripoli and he chatted Gaddafi into surrendering his WMDs?

"The Democrats seem congenitally incapable of understanding that force has not just the effect of disarming the immediate enemy, but has a deterrent effect on others similarly situated. Iraq was not attacked randomly. It was attacked as part of a clearly enunciated policy -- now known as the Bush Doctrine -- of targeting, by pre-emptive wa…
Terror flights from France

Steven den Beste:

"OK, let me get this straight. Seven men on an American terrorist watch list were all found to have purchased tickets on the same Air France flight from Paris to Los Angeles. Our people alerted the French, who cancelled the flight, took them all into custody, and after briefly questioning them released them all. French action was big and showy and will have the effect of convincing those men and their friends to make their next attempt against us from somewhere else.

"France is safe. We are not.

"French Prime Minister Raffarin described this as being part of the framework of Franco-American cooperation in the fight against terrorism. It's certainly consistent with all the rest of France's 'cooperation' in the fight against terrorism, I'll give him that much."
The Iraqi mafia

Washington Post:

"As U.S. forces tracked Saddam Hussein to his subterranean hiding place, they unearthed a trove of intelligence about five families running the Iraqi insurgency, according to U.S. military commanders, who said the information is being used to uproot remaining resistance forces.

"Senior U.S. officers said they were surprised to discover -- clue by clue over six months -- that the upper and middle ranks of the resistance were filled by members of five extended families from a few villages within a 12-mile radius of the volatile city of Tikrit along the Tigris River. Top operatives drawn from these families organized the resistance network, dispatching information to individual cells and supervising financial channels, the officers said. They also protected Hussein and passed information to and from the former president while he was on the run.

"At the heart of this tightly woven network is Auja, Hussein's birthplace, which U.S. commande…
Who is a liberal today

Melanie Phillips:

...

"...some years ago I started to change my view about the left, who confusingly often call themselves liberals. I began to realise they were not liberal at all, but profoundly illiberal. And I began to grasp that far from acting -- as they trumpeted at every opportunity -- in the interests of the poor and oppressed, just about everything they did trapped them in that condition.

"On every issue where there were true victims – education failure, family breakdown, drug abuse -- they denied the truth and substituted instead lies, ideology and propaganda. They were against western culture, external moral rules and self-discipline. They were for nihilism, the worship of the self and gross personal irresponsibility.

"And any deviation from this they labelled ‘right-wing’. Emptied of meaning, this has become a catch-all smear – code for ‘cruel and heartless’, deployed to intimidate and to shut down any challenge to the left. So saying …
Defeating the quagmirist

Since the Vietnam war Democrat foreign policy has been based on the premise that any military conflict was a potential quagmire. This premise was refined after a decesive victory by US forces in 91 against Iraq. Before the war, most of the Democrats who voted against aauthorizing the US of force did so out of fear of a new quagmire. Once victory was achieved, the Dems became eager to use force in certain circustances under Bull Clinton, but were wary of any use of force by Republican administrations. Thus in a matter of weeks intot he liberationof Afghanistan the NY Times and otehrs were fretting over a qquagmire. Similar concerns were raised in the first weeks of the liberation of Iraq.

Those concerns became full throated and were clutched to the bosom of Howard Dean once the Baathist remnants start of a rather weak guerrilla campaign after Iraq's army had been defeated. With the capture of Saddam and the rollup of his "resistance" thugs th…
More dividends from bagging Saddam

Rowan Scarborough:

"Saddam Hussein's capture 11 days ago is still paying dividends, the nation's highest-ranking military officer said yesterday, with informants readily offering the names of Iraqis leading the insurgency.

" 'It's enabled us to pick up lots of former regime elements,' said Gen. Richard B. Myers, Joint Chiefs chairman, who appeared with Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld at a Pentagon press conference. 'Just yesterday, we picked up 50. Twenty-nine were actually targeted, [were] individuals we wanted. We went after them. Got them. That's just one day. So we've been pretty successful at that.'

...

" 'I think we've gotten more insight into a little bit about structure, how the former regime elements are structured,' Gen. Myers said, just back from a trip to the region. 'And we've had an increase in Iraqis willing to come forward and provide information to coalition …
Affirmative action loan officer commission fees found illegal

"Flagstar Bank will pay $1.2 million in a class-action settlement, after a judge ruled the lender charged white customers higher fees than minorities.

"Flagstar, a mortgage company based in Troy, Mich., charged minority customers up to 3 percent in loan officer commission fees while charging whites a maximum of 4 percent."
Ghadifi says other rogue states should surrender weapons

The Telegraph:

"Col Muammar Gaddafi, the Libyan leader, called yesterday on other "rogue states" to follow his dramatic example, by admitting involvement in banned weapons programmes, if they were to prevent 'tragedy' from striking their nations.

"He sidestepped direct questions about whether the war in Iraq had influenced his decision to scrap nuclear, biological and chemical research, saying his motives were 'not important.'

"But his stark warning to other 'rogue' states appeared to offer endorsement of Washington's and London's policy of diplomacy backed by pre-emptive strikes.
Iraqi cooperation increases

Gen. Meyers says that Iraqis are providing more information about the "resistance" sicne the capture of Saddam.

'' 'I think we've gotten more insight into a little bit about structure, how the former regime elements are structured,'' he said, noting the arrest of 50 former members of Saddam's regime on Monday."
Detailed intelligence on Osama's latest plot

MSNBC:

"New intelligence information indicates that al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden and his top deputy personally approved the suspected terrorist attack plan that led the government to raise the nation's terror threat assessment this week, U.S. officials told NBC News on Tuesday.

"The officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said U.S. intelligence agencies had gathered detailed information about the plan, in which they said al-Qaida operatives would hijack foreign airliners and fly them into targets in the United States. In some instances, the intelligence is so detailed as to include specific flight numbers, they said.

"The Defense Department said Tuesday that it was broadening air patrols throughout the country. Security forces have put several U.S. airports under intense scrutiny, the U.S. officials told NBC's Jim Miklaszewski, specifically naming Newark International Airport in New Jersey.

"Federal…
The "Holiday" controversy as seen by the

BBC:

"For an overwhelmingly Christian country which prides itself on freedom of expression, removing 'offensive' Christmas trees and censoring school Santas may seem curious.

"But as far as American public institutions are concerned, it is not Christmas but the 'holiday season.'

"Any school, public library, university or government building which at this time of year crosses the constitutional boundary between church and state - be it simply through singing Silent Night or erecting a nativity scene on the lawn - risks being the target of a lawsuit.

"The supporters of such campaigns believe they are necessary to ensure the US, founded by those fleeing political persecution, does not exclude anyone on the basis of their faith - particularly amid post-9/11 religious tensions.

"But for others, both within the religious right and beyond it, the joy of Christmas is being eroded by a group of politi…
Not finding WMD may have pushed Lybia and Iran to agree

Christopher Hitchins:

...

"The hawks are quite plainly right to say that this sudden tribute by vice to virtue is a direct consequence of Operation Iraqi Freedom. So is the new readiness by the mullahs of Iran to accept international inspections. It might even be true to say that the supposed failure to find WMDs in Iraq is a factor in this welcome surrender. I know I am having it both ways here because I actually believe that Saddam Hussein was concealing illegal weapons and was trying to buy them off the shelf from Kim Jong-il, but look at it from the point of view of a rattled and ramshackle despotism like the Libyan or Iranian one. (Wowâ€â€�look what happened to Saddam when he was accused of fooling around with weapons and inspections and U.N. resolutions. And we know that we do have undeclared stocks. Is it worth the risk?) One can only be impressed at this triumph of reasoning over ideology. If riff-raff like this can…
Email to Andrew Sullivan:

"While having a beer at a neighborhood bar/restaurant in NYC's West Village last weekend, I was party to a situation that I think you'll find directly on point.
Three mid-50's liberals were going on about the capture of Saddam; how it was a conspiracy, that the president knew where he was at all times and picked a politically opportune moment to capture him, it was all about the oil, etc.

"The mid-20's girl sitting next to them broke from her conversation to chime in with the following, 'I wish 60's sensibilities had stayed there. Someone points a gun in your face and you think 'My Fault', when you should be thinking 'You just picked the wrong fight'. Get your heads out of your asses.'

"They responded with dismissive claims about Republicans and tourists from the midwest.

"She replied with, 'One, I've grew up in Brooklyn. Two, I voted for Gore -- but I'll sure as hell take W. over some…
Wolfowitz responds

Washington Post:

...

"...Appearing at Georgetown University in October, he stood on a stage and listened as a student denounced him. 'I think I speak for many of us here when I say that your policies are deplorable,' she said, standing at a floor microphone. 'They're responsible for the deaths of innocents' -- here a wave of applause -- 'and the disintegration of civil liberties.'

"When she finished, Wolfowitz calmly responded: 'I have to infer from that you would be happier if Saddam Hussein were still in power.' Here others in the audience cheered and clapped even louder. It was like watching a Parris Island drill instructor drop a recruit with a flick of his wrist.
Dean left speechless by Lybia agreement

Bill Sammon:

"Libya's decision to give up its weapons of mass destruction is making it harder for Democrats such as Howard Dean to disparage President Bush's war against Iraq, which prompted Libya's move.

"Mr. Dean, the front-runner for the Democratic presidential nomination, has been uncharacteristically silent about Mr. Bush's bombshell announcement on Friday that Libya has agreed unconditionally to relinquish its chemical-, biological- and nuclear-weapons programs.

...

"Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi made it clear that his decision to disarm was prompted by Operation Iraqi Freedom.

" 'I will do whatever the Americans want because I saw what happened in Iraq, and I was afraid,' Mr. Gadhafi told Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, according to a Berlusconi spokesman who was quoted in yesterday's Telegraph of London."