>Many foreign policy analysts, mostly on the left but also a few on the right, see the Iraq war as the worst US foreign policy mistake since at least World War Two.
Don Surber provides anice analysis.
Now that the war in Iraq is won – it was in pretty good shape when President Bush left office – and a new era dawns over Baghdad, it is worth reviewing the claims by liberals that this was an unnecessary war.
Suppose there had been no war in Iraq.
Saddam Hussein would still be in charge. Abu Ghraib would still exist. Instead of placing hoods on inmates and making them stand on chairs and otherwise humiliating them, as a few disgraced troops did, inmates would be tortured, bodies mutilated and people executed by Hussein’s henchmen.
Headless torsos would still be thrown on lawns in the dead of night, the Hussein equivalent of burning a cross.
And families would still be billed for the bullets that killed their loved ones
Hussein’s insane sons, Oday and Qusay, would still be alive. Women would still be raped on their wedding days. Olympic teams would still be physically punished for losing a game.
Maybe Hussein would have invaded another country or two. He tried Iran and then Kuwait. Would Saudi Arabia have been next on his list?
Crooks would still be trading oil for bribes under the Oil for Food program operated by the United Nations. Billions would still be going into the wrong hands. And those German contractors would still be building bunkers for Hussein.
When it comes to bunkers, no one builds them better than the Germans.
And of course, Israel would continue to be terrorized by suicide-bombers financed by Saddam Hussein.
CNN’s bureau in Baghdad would still be ignoring all this for fear of losing its bragging rights to having the only bureau in Baghdad. It was only after America liberated Iraq that Eason Jordan, then president of CNN, admitted to CNN’s complicity.
The average Iraqi would still be living in fear and poverty.
But liberals would call this peace. They would still be standing up for Hussein because, after all, he is an enemy of George W. Bush, and liberals figure the enemy of mine enemy is my friend.
Look at the support Joe Stalin got from the left
I doubted all along (and my columns in 2002 reflect this) the existence of weapons of mass destruction. I had two reasons.
The first was when Sen. Robert C. Byrd said Hussein had WMD and they were supplied by American companies.
The second reason is that if Hussein had them, he would have used them.
I sided with the invasion simply because Iraqis deserved better than Saddam Hussein, a known sponsor of terrorism.
I believe in a free people.
When Thomas Jefferson wrote that all men are created equal, he did not limit his definition to all the white male property owners in a skinny sliver of land along the Atlantic.
He meant all men. Everywhere.
The hanging of Saddam Hussein ended a reign of terror in one small nation, because his sons Oday and Qusay were sent packing long before that. Unlike Kim Jong-Il in North Korea, he had no heir.
To insist today that we should never have gone to Iraq is to say that Iraq should be like North Korea. That is stubborn, that is ignorant, and that is not liberal.
I leave readers with this thought from the Dalai Lama, as reported by the Times of India on Sunday: “I love George W. Bush.”
So do I.
So should all freedom-loving people.
>Iraqi journalist Muntazer al-Zaidi from Al-Baghdadia television network achieved glory throughout the Ummah and from their left wing soulmates in the rest of the world when he undertook the time honoured Arab tradition of throwing one’s shoes at an opponent.
Check out Dailykos, Firedoglake, HuffPo etc etc and you’ll see many posts supporting al-Zaidi and sliming President Bush.
Parenthetically, when has a mainstream right wing blog or news outlet been anything other than outraged when a Democratic president is treated so shabbily?
By working for an organisation that didn’t exist under Saddam and attending a press conference that would never take place under Saddam hosted by a democratically elected leader that didn’t exist under Saddam and enjoying the newly minted freedom that didn’t exist under Saddam and shouting “It is the farewell kiss, you dog” showing he did not feel the threat to his personal safety that existed under Saddam and throwing his shoes at a world leader that under Saddam would have seen him fed feet first into a tree shredder, Muntazer al-Zaidi – journalist, nascent pin up boy of the Muslim world and hero of the world’s left – confirmed Bush’s greatness.
That is the irony that the left has missed in its pathological hatred of George W Bush.
Freedom reigns in Iraq.
Bush made it happen.
It would never have happened under a President Gore.
The old feller has pretty good reflexes, too, don’t you think?
That’s impressive stuff.
The fact that he kept his composure and gave his response within the framework of the legitimacy of dissent in a free society probably taught the Iraqis a valuable lesson.
>The saddest aspect of last week’s Mumbai terrorist attacks, apart from the appalling loss of life, was the predictability that the mainstream media and political elites would find some way of blaming the United States.
Deepak Chopra found himself on CNN and had this to say:
What happened in Mumbai, he told the interviewer, was a product of the U.S. war on terrorism, that “our policies, our foreign policies” had alienated the Muslim population, that we had “gone after the wrong people” and inflamed moderates. And “that inflammation then gets organized and appears as this disaster in Bombay.”
Chopra has clearly eaten too little meat, which has had a negative effect on his brain development and ability to think. And what the heck are CNN and others doing featuring a whackjob like him anyway?
But he has many friends.
Waleed Aly, lecturer in the Global Terrorism Research Centre at Monash University, Mumbai was another to use the blame US first defence:
Much Islamist terrorism in recent years has been part of a cycle of violence with Hindu nationalist militants. The Mumbai bombings of 1993, for example, followed swiftly after the demolition of the Babri Mosque and anti-Muslim violence by Hindu militants. But hanging over every Islamist act of violence has been one loaded word: Kashmir…. As a Muslim majority territory, it most logically belongs to Pakistan…
Precisely what Israel has to do with Kashmir is not abundantly clear… And it is here (in the singling out of Jews and Westerners), rather than in the particular methods of violence, that we may discern the impact of al-Qaeda, not as an organisation, but as a symbolic ideological force. Its most significant contribution has not been mass death, but a new way of formulating militant politics that transcends the local and parochial, and imbues it with a global resonance. So, to take an example, the brutalising of Muslims in Kashmir may no longer be understood as a problem that begins and ends with India. It may now be constructed as part of a broader, more global conspiracy, spearheaded by the US.
Then, of course, there are those who blame India’s ‘closeness’ to the United States for bringing the attacks on itself.
So how close is India to the United States?
You’d think that if a country really was close then they’d have a significant part of their military arsenal of US origin, wouldn’t you?
And what part of a nation’s military is most important?
Their air force.
So let’s have a look at what the Indian Air Force is made up of with the help of Wikipedia (which, by the way, is a really good source of aircraft info):
The Sukhoi Su-30MKI (MKI: ‘Multifunctional Commercial – Indian’) is the IAF’s prime air superiority fighter. The Su-30K variant was first acquired in 1996. In October 2004, the IAF signed a multi-billion US$ contract with Sukhoi according to which Hindustan Aeronautics Limited was given the licence to manufacture 140+ Su-30MKI’s with full technology transfer. HAL plans to manufacture about 15 of these aircraft annually. The twin seater, multi-role fighter has a maximum speed of 2500 km/h (Mach 2.35) and has a service ceiling of 20,000 metres. The aircraft, with one mid-air refueling, can travel as far as 8000 km, making it an effective platform to deliver nuclear weapons. In February, 2007 India ordered 40 additional Su-30MKI combat aircraft.
Number of US made aircraft: 0
Strike, attack and offensive support aircraft
Number of US made aircraft: 0
Reconnaissance and Airborne Early Warning aircraft
Various unmanned aircraft are used for reconnaissance. In 2004, the IAF ordered 3 IAI Phalcon Airborne Early Warning radar system from Israel Aerospace Industries, which is considered to be the most advanced AEW&C system in the world, before the introduction of American-made Wedgetail. The air force will use 3 newly-acquired Ilyushin Il-76 Phalcon as a platform for these radar.
The IAF used to operate a fleet of MiG-25 (Foxbat) R, U reconnaissance aircraft until 2006. The high-speed interceptor aircraft carried four R-40 (AA-6 ‘Acrid’) air-to-air missiles, two R-23 (AA-7 ‘Apex’) and four R-60 (AA-8 ‘Aphid’) or R-73 (AA-11 ‘Archer’). The MiG-25, in service since the late 1980s, were decommissioned from service in 2006. The IAF also used the English Electric Canberra aircraft for reconnaissance and photoreconnaissance missions during the Kargil war. The Canberras were originally used as Bombers, and served in that role in the 1965 and 1971 wars.
Number of US made aircraft: 0
An important objective of the IAF is to support ground troops by providing air-cover and by transporting men and essential commodities across the battlefield. Helicopters in service with the IAF are:
Mi-17 1V (Hip-H)
On 15 October 2006 India agreed to acquire 80 Mi-17 helicopters from the Russian Federation in a deal worth approximately US$662 million. The new and improved HAL Dhruv, complete with the more powerful Shakti engine and glass cockpit, came on stream in 2007.
Number of US made helicopters: 0
In fact, the entire extent of India’s aircraft purchases from the US is a few trainers and a recent order for six of the new C130J Hercules.
India chose to be part of the so-called Non-Aligned Movement – those countries that did not choose sides in the Cold War.
However, far from being non-aligned India became very close to the Soviet Union and is clearly close to Russia today, as the composition of its air force demonstrates.
Thus, the argument that the Mumbai attacks are due to India being ‘too close’ to America are shown to be as false as the intellectually bankrupt claim that the US war on terror is to blame.
>It’s almost axiomatic that the New York Times would never publish a piece defending the left wing meme that “Bush lied, people died” so it’s to the credit of the left-leaning Washington Post that they do.
The Washington Post must understand that it is the one that will become America’s leading paper if the ‘paper of record’, the NYT, continues is parlous spiral into irrelevance. The NYT blames its decline on the ‘new media’ but it’s much more likely that readers are getting sick of the massive pro-Democratic Party stance the paper takes. Thus, the editorial pages of the Washington Post are generally quite reasonable and balanced.
Search the Internet for “Bush Lied” products, and you will find sites that offer more than a thousand designs. The basic “Bush Lied, People Died” bumper sticker is only the beginning.
Sen. John D. Rockefeller IV (D-W.Va.), chairman of the Select Committee on Intelligence, set out to provide the official foundation for what has become not only a thriving business but, more important, an article of faith among millions of Americans. And in releasing a committee report Thursday, he claimed to have accomplished his mission, though he did not use the L-word.
“In making the case for war, the administration repeatedly presented intelligence as fact when it was unsubstantiated, contradicted or even nonexistent,” he said.
There’s no question that the administration, and particularly Vice President Cheney, spoke with too much certainty at times and failed to anticipate or prepare the American people for the enormous undertaking in Iraq.
But dive into Rockefeller’s report, in search of where exactly President Bush lied about what his intelligence agencies were telling him about the threat posed by Saddam Hussein, and you may be surprised by what you find.
On Iraq’s nuclear weapons program? The president’s statements “were generally substantiated by intelligence community estimates.”
On biological weapons, production capability and those infamous mobile laboratories? The president’s statements “were substantiated by intelligence information.”
On chemical weapons, then? “Substantiated by intelligence information.”
On weapons of mass destruction overall (a separate section of the intelligence committee report)? “Generally substantiated by intelligence information.” Delivery vehicles such as ballistic missiles? “Generally substantiated by available intelligence.” Unmanned aerial vehicles that could be used to deliver WMDs? “Generally substantiated by intelligence information.”
As you read through the report, you begin to think maybe you’ve mistakenly picked up the minority dissent. But, no, this is the Rockefeller indictment. So, you think, the smoking gun must appear in the section on Bush’s claims about Saddam Hussein’s alleged ties to terrorism.
But statements regarding Iraq’s support for terrorist groups other than al-Qaeda “were substantiated by intelligence information.” Statements that Iraq provided safe haven for Abu Musab al-Zarqawi and other terrorists with ties to al-Qaeda “were substantiated by the intelligence assessments,” and statements regarding Iraq’s contacts with al-Qaeda “were substantiated by intelligence information.” The report is left to complain about “implications” and statements that “left the impression” that those contacts led to substantive Iraqi cooperation.
In the report’s final section, the committee takes issue with Bush’s statements about Saddam Hussein’s intentions and what the future might have held. But was that really a question of misrepresenting intelligence, or was it a question of judgment that politicians are expected to make?
After all, it was not Bush, but Rockefeller, who said in October 2002: “There has been some debate over how ‘imminent’ a threat Iraq poses. I do believe Iraq poses an imminent threat. I also believe after September 11, that question is increasingly outdated. . . . To insist on further evidence could put some of our fellow Americans at risk. Can we afford to take that chance? I do not think we can.”
Rockefeller was reminded of that statement by the committee’s vice chairman, Sen. Christopher S. Bond (R-Mo.), who with three other Republican senators filed a minority dissent that includes many other such statements from Democratic senators who had access to the intelligence reports that Bush read. The dissenters assert that they were cut out of the report’s preparation, allowing for a great deal of skewing and partisanship, but that even so, “the reports essentially validate what we have been saying all along: that policymakers’ statements were substantiated by the intelligence.”
Why does it matter, at this late date? The Rockefeller report will not cause a spike in “Bush Lied” mug sales, and the Bond dissent will not lead anyone to scrape the “Bush Lied” bumper sticker off his or her car.
But the phony “Bush lied” story line distracts from the biggest prewar failure: the fact that so much of the intelligence upon which Bush and Rockefeller and everyone else relied turned out to be tragically, catastrophically wrong.
And it trivializes a double dilemma that President Bill Clinton faced before Bush and that President Obama or McCain may well face after: when to act on a threat in the inevitable absence of perfect intelligence and how to mobilize popular support for such action, if deemed essential for national security, in a democracy that will always, and rightly, be reluctant.
For the next president, it may be Iran’s nuclear program, or al-Qaeda sanctuaries in Pakistan, or, more likely, some potential horror that today no one even imagines. When that time comes, there will be plenty of warnings to heed from the Iraq experience, without the need to fictionalize more.
Now that is a pretty damning assessment of not only Rockefeller himself but also the lunatics who think that Bush did lie or that the war was all about oil. Current oil prices make that last idea somewhat preposterous don’t they?
However, the real key is in the last three paragraphs. In the same way that billions of dollars are being diverted into the bogus area of climate change remediation meaning that they are not available to be put to better use on water projects etc in developing nations, the passing off of the shocking failure of Western intelligence agencies about the true extent of Saddam’s WMD program as a ‘lie’ will mean that those agencies do not suffer the intense scrutiny that they should. The fact that Saddam had his own senior advisers and military leaders duped about his WMD program is no excuse.
What’s also notable is that while the left runs around bleating about the President lying the country into a war that cost tens of thousands of people their lives they completely ignore the millions of people that die each year due to the left’s own campaign against the use of DDT.
What about this? “The left lied, millions died.”
Or this? “Mao didn’t lie, 60 million died.”
Or this? “Che lived, hundreds died.”
More people died at the hands of the left in the 20th century than have been killed in all religious wars through history. In fact, Stalin topped that number by himself without having to add in the massive number of dead in Mao’s China. As I’ve said before, I reckon that the left will cause the death of more people in the 21st century with their radical environmentalism than they pushed into early graves in the 20th.
The left likes labels and slogans and “Bush lied, people died” is just the current fashion. No doubt once Bush is gone from office they will come up with a new one.
>Der Spiegel has a shocking article about German special forces soldiers not being authorised to use lethal force to take out one of the most brutal of Taliban commanders in Afghanistan.
Why is it that it’s only the English speaking world that does the heavy lifting in Afghanistan?
For all its economic might, what use are European Union nations not only in dealing with scum like this one that got away but also providing relief to regions of the world that are affected by natural disasters. Compare the EU’s response to the Indonesian tsunami with what the US did. If you have a natural disaster and need help then who do you call? The UN? Germany? France? Italy? Give me a break…
German society has become very pacifistic since WW2, which is at odds with the country’s military tradition and general militaristic attitude to the way they go about things. At some point the place will rebound and the consequences will be dire. It only needs a trigger, which as I’ve predicted before will be the consequences of the collapse of the nanny state economy coupled with out of control immigration.
German special forces had an important Taliban commander in their sights in Afghanistan. But he escaped — because the Germans were not authorized to use lethal force. The German government’s hands-tied approach to the war is causing friction with its NATO allies.
The wheat is lush and green in the fields of northern Afghanistan this spring. A river winding its way through the broad valley dotted with walled houses completes the picturesque scene. Behind one of these walls, not far from the town of Pol-e-Khomri, sits a man whose enemies, having named him a “target,” would like to see dead. He is the Baghlan bomber.
The Taliban commander is regarded as a brutal extremist with excellent connections to terror cells across the border in Pakistan. Security officials consider him to be one of the most dangerous players in the region, which is under German command as part of NATO’s International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) mission in Afghanistan. The military accuses him of laying roadside bombs and of sheltering suicide attackers prior to their bloody missions.
He is also thought to be behind one of the deadliest attacks in Afghanistan’s history, the Nov. 6, 2007 attack on a sugar factory in the northwest province of Baghlan. The attack killed 79 people, including dozens of children and many parliamentarians and other politicians, as they celebrated the factory’s reopening.
How can the German special forces not kill such a person? They’re obviously acting on orders from higher up but if I was one of the Germans there then I might well have shot the guy and lived with the consequences.
Germany’s KSK special forces have been charged with capturing the terrorist, in cooperation with the Afghan secret service organization NDS and the Afghan army. The German elite soldiers were able to uncover the Taliban commander’s location. They spent weeks studying his behavior and habits: when he left his house and with whom, how many men he had around him and what weapons they carried, the color of his turban and what vehicles he drove.
At the end of March, they decided to act to seize the commander. Under the protection of darkness, the KSK, together with Afghan forces, advanced toward their target. Wearing black and equipped with night-vision goggles, the team came within just a few hundred meters of their target before they were discovered by Taliban forces.
See what the problem is? They wanted to ‘seize’ the commander. They weren’t allowed to shoot him so they spent weeks and weeks working out how to capture him, which must have exposed the special forces to a much higher level of danger.
The dangerous terrorist escaped. It would, however, have been possible for the Germans to kill him — but the KSK were not authorized to do so.
The threat to the international relief workers and the ISAF soldiers stationed in the north may now be even greater than it was before. Warned of ISAF’s activities and intent on taking revenge, the man and his network are active once again. Over 2,500 Germans are stationed between Faryab and Badakhshan, along with Hungarian, Norwegian and Swedish troops.
Bravo, Germany, Bravo! Now he’s going to target relief workers again. This story gets worse as it goes along.
The case has caused disquiet at the headquarters of the ISAF peacekeeping force in Kabul. The current strategy for fighting the enemy is to buy as many Taliban sympathizers as possible, to at least win them over for a while — and to “eliminate” the hardliners through targeted assassinations.
From a military point of view, the so-called targeting has been a success. Close to one-third of the Taliban leaders, about 150 commanders, have since been “neutralized,” meaning they are either dead or captured. Most of the capture-or-kill missions, as the operations are called in military jargon, are undertaken by British or American special forces.
It’s good to speak English. We lead the world.
But so far the Germans haven’t wanted to take part. And that causes problems, because the insurgents are increasingly gaining influence (more…) in the nine provinces under German command.
What a surprise…
And the extremists appear to be confident of victory. Maulawi Bashir Haqqani, 40, the Taliban’s military commander in Kunduz, told SPIEGEL: “The Germans are the most important enemy in the north. If they leave their base, they will find booby traps and bombs waiting for them on every road. They will have to carry many more bodies in coffins on their shoulders if they don’t come to the realistic conclusion that their forces must withdraw from our country.”
Why is Der Spiegel printing enemy propaganda???
Nonetheless, even in a time of growing threats in Afghanistan, Berlin is sticking to its “principle of proportionality,” stressed one high-ranking official in the Defense Ministry. A fugitive like the Baghlan bomber is not an aggressor and should not be shot unless necessary, the official explains.
What the hell does “principle of proportionality” mean? If the Taliban shoots a German soldier then does that mean the Germans can only shoot one back? Do they have to use an AK-47, as well? These people have lost it.
Soldiers from Britain’s British Special Air Service or the US’s Delta Force are less bothered about such hair-splitting. For them, this is a war in which it comes down to “kill or be killed,” say sources in military circles in Kabul. The “targets” are identified, tracked down and — often with the help of laser-guided weapons systems — “eliminated.”
The Germans have considerable misgivings about such an approach. They have secretly given “clarification notes” to NATO with far-ranging instructions for their soldiers which expressly contradict the usual procedures: “The use of lethal force is prohibited unless an attack is taking place or is imminent.” Sources in NATO circles regard the confidential document as a “national exception,” a caveat which places restrictions on operational capability. The Germans, for their part, always avoid using the word caveat, out of diplomatic considerations vis-à-vis their allies.
The most remarkable thing about the secret document is its stated justification. The German government considers its allies’ approach as “not being in conformity with international law.” Little wonder that NATO’s mission in Afghanistan is marked by tension and friction.
How do you fight an enemy that does not follow the ‘rules’ of international law?
Critics accuse the Germans of achieving precisely the opposite effect of what they claim to be aiming for. “The Krauts are allowing the most dangerous people to get away and are in the process increasing the danger for the Afghans and for all foreign forces here,” says an incredulous British officer at ISAF headquarters on Great Massoud Road in Kabul.
Ha! “Krauts”…good on him…!
The case of the Baghlan bomber is not the end of the story. More trouble has been brewing for the Germans in Afghanistan. They are actually supposed to be currently participating in Operation Karez in northern Afghanistan in conjunction with the Afghan army and the Norwegian Quick Reaction Force. The operation, like a mission in autumn 2007, is aimed at fighting Taliban who have a stronghold in the northwestern province of Badghis. The Taliban forces there currently include about 150 hardliners and some 500 irregular fighters.
But because the area of operation, which is in Ghormach district, lies exactly on the border with the area under Italian command, the German government hesitated to deploy the reconnaissance, logistics and KSK forces which were originally promised by the German regional commander. It was only at the end of last week that German Defense Minister Franz Josef Jung decided to approve the mission after all. At that point, Germany’s allies had already been taking part in bloody fighting for a week.
But the Germans’ finger nails will be nicely groomed and their hair will be in just the right place. What an embarrassment; the Italians are involved and the Germans quake like children at the thought of having a fight. How things have changed in 50 years.
Last Friday, an armored infantry battalion from Augustdorf in the German state of North Rhine-Westphalia put on an impressive military display on a training ground for the benefit of the German Chief of Army Staff Hans-Otto Budde — demonstrating, ironically, an operation to seize enemy combatants.
The battalion will be relieving the Norwegian Quick Reaction Force in northern Afghanistan as of July 1. Then, at the latest, the Germans will be on the frontline.
No doubt the Taliban is looking forward to that…
>It should come as no surprise that yet another entertainment industry figure has taken a swipe at the current US administration. It seems to be how they earn their credibility points in the Hollywood social set.
The fact that it’s an Australian is upsetting insofar as few of us – even those who disagree with the war in Iraq – would describe President Bush as a war criminal.
Oscar winner Eva Orner has described the US government as a “bunch of war criminals”.
The Australian filmmaker won the Academy Award for best feature documentary as co-producer of Taxi to the Dark Side, a film about the US government’s use of torture in its war against terror.
The documentary features interviews with US soldiers who participated in the torture of suspects in Iraq, Afghanistan and Guantanamo Bay.
Ms Orner said she did not blame low-ranking soldiers for such behaviour.
“Obviously, everyone’s responsible for their own actions, but you put people in bad situations who are ill-equipped, not trained, under enormous pressure and getting orders from above to do bad things,” she told ABC Radio from Los Angeles today.
“I don’t really believe it is terribly much their fault, it comes from much higher sources.
“The current administration are a bunch of war criminals and they need to be stopped. People need to know what’s going on.”
Ms Orner said she was surprised such a dark film – directed by Alex Gibney – had won the Oscar.
Why would she be surprised when such rubbish as An Inconvenient Truth and Farenheit 9/11 won awards?
“This is one of the toughest films I think either of us has made,” she said.“It wasn’t a lot of fun.”
Resting on the desk in her hotel room was the shiny Oscar Tom Hanks presented to the 38-year-old at the 80th Annual Academy Awards ceremony at Hollywood’s Kodak Theatre.
It wasn’t a dream, she thought, looking over at the statuette.
New York-based Orner and her American filmmaking partner, Alex Gibney, won the documentary feature Oscar for Taxi to the Dark Side, an expose on the US government’s use of torture in its war on terrorism.
Orner is both a Moral Idiot and Cowardly Piece of Crap.
It’s not brave to attack the US administration or the military.
If she wants to really support truly moral positions and be brave then why doesn’t she do a documentary on:
– Saddam Hussein’s torture regime, which included feeding people into tree shredders;
– Fidel Castro’s regime of suppression, torture and murder;
– The concentration camp disguised as a country – North Korea;
– The human rights abuses, especially against women, occurring all over the Middle East; or
– The 10,000+ acts of terror carried out in the name of Islam since 9/11?
No. That would take real courage. That would require a real understanding of the world. That would require an ability to understand evil.
And those are traits that she lacks.
It seems that when people become part of the Hollywood set they don’t mature and grow up, they grow down. Listening to their rantings is like listening to a bunch of rich, narcisstic school kids.
Looking for bravery? Avoid Hollywood.
>According to one of my favourite Turkish opinion writers from the Turkish Daily News, Mustafa Akyol, “Iraq is not doing really badly these days”.
Like those who blather on about an immediate troop withdrawal being the right ‘strategy’, Akyol did not agree with the US decision to go into Iraq. Unlike those people, who care little about the slaughter that would follow, Akyol believes that the US should stay until the job is done and that the surge has played a significant role in improving things on the ground in Iraq.
When U.S. President George W. Bush announced his surge strategy in Iraq, which was based on an increase in the number of American troops deployed in Baghdad and Anbar provinces, on January 10, 2007, very few people were optimistic about its success. Well, I was among that minority. I had never been a supporter of the war, but had also believed that, once it started, the United States should not go home without leaving behind a stable Iraq. In my piece dated January 13, 2007, published in the Turkish daily Referans, I wrote that the surge could well be helpful to stabilize Iraq and thus it should not be dismissed out of hand. The best thing for Turkey right now, I concluded, is to pray that Bush’s new strategy works, and helps bridging the bitter division between Sunnis and Shiites.
I don’t think that the Turkish Foreign Ministry gets, or even needs, advice from me, but apparently, as the Turkish saying goes, the way of reason is one. Ankara indeed has worked for the reconciliation of Iraq’s rival groups, and has seen that its prayers came true: Iraq is not doing really badly these days.
Davutoğlu on Iraq:
The other day, I had the chance to get comments on this from the two key architects of Ankara’s Iraq policy: Professor Ahmet Davutoğlu, the chief foreign policy advisor to Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, and Ambassador Oğuz Çelikkol, Turkey’s special envoy to Iraq. They both noted that Iraq is in a much more hopeful situation then it was two years ago. Then, we used to worry that the country was on the brink of a civil war and dismemberment, reminded Ambassador Çelikkol. Today, although there are still problems, the violence decreased dramatically and the belief that Iraq will remain united is strong.
Prof. Davutoğlu added to those comments, but first me remind who he is. Until 2002, he used to be an erudite scholar of foreign policy, and perhaps the most respected one in the conservative camp. When the AKP (Justice and Development Party) came to power in that year, he was appointed as the top policy advisor to the prime minister, a post which gave him the chance to implement his academic vision to actual policy. He believes in a Turkey which has a strategic depth, a one that will be a regional power, with zero problem with neighbors, and through economic inter-dependency in the former Ottoman lands. And since 2002, that is Turkish foreign policy in a nutshell.
Some have accused Prof. Davutoğlu to be an Islamist and to try to turn Turkey’s orientation toward the Middle East, rather the West. The Hamas meeting he organized right after the Islamic group’s winning of Palestinian elections was shown as the evidence. But as Dr. Davutoğlu told to the Economist, which described him the visionary behind Turkey’s newly assertive foreign policy, Turkey’s aim was to persuade Hamas to recognize Israel. It apparently didn’t work, but intentions are as important as results.
Since Prof. Davutoğlu is labeled by some as an Islamist, I was careful to see what he would say about Iraq and its insurgents. And I found a very anti-Al Qaeda stance. The Al Qaeda is the major source of violence in Iraq, said Dr. Davutoğlu, and emphasized the terrorist group’s Wahhabi and Salafi base, which he carefully distinguished from the peaceful Sunni tradition of the country. He also noted that the stance taken by Iraq’s Sunni tribes against Al Qaeda terrorists has been a very positive step toward minimizing this foreign intrusion. Ambassador Çelikkol added that Turkey has played a role in the settling of the Shiites and Sunnis of Iraq. Both sides trust us, he said, and we have done our best.
What about Turkey’s biggest question vis-à-vis Iraq, i.e., the Kurds? On this matter, the two Turkish policy makers sounded optimistic, too. The Kurdish authority in Iraq is more realistic today than it was two years ago, said Ambassador Çelikkol. They realize that their future is in Iraq, and that have to give up some of their maximalist demands. Both him and Dr. Davutoğlu also noted that there are steps taken toward reconciliation between Kurds or Turkmens over Kirkuk, which Turkey is pleased to support. If Iraqi President Jalal Talabani comes to Turkey soon, as news suggest, the Turko-Kurdish rapprochement will be vindicated.
All this suggests that the critically low point in Turkey’s relationship with its southern neighbor, and the United States which still has a role in the latter’s destiny, has passed. Since the surge Iraq is doing better, and Turkey is happy about it — something that the next U.S. president, whomever he or she will be, must be aware of.
Turkey has a huge vested interest, obviously, in the success of Iraq. Therefore, their analysis is much more fact-based than the opinion-based drivel posted at DailyKos, HuffPo and in comments at The Guardian and BBC.