The ‘Benchmark’ Excuse
Crocker and Petraeus speak some truths, if Senators are listening.
Thursday, July 12, 2007 12:01 a.m. EDT
Ryan Crocker, the U.S. Ambassador in Iraq, is a 36-year career diplomat who has served under seven administrations in Iran, Syria, Kuwait, Afghanistan, Lebanon and Pakistan. He’s no partisan gunslinger. So it’s worth listening to his views as Congressional Democrats and a growing number of Republicans press for a precipitous withdrawal from Iraq on the excuse that the Iraqi government hasn’t met a set of political “benchmarks.”
“The longer I’m here, the more I’m persuaded that Iraq cannot be analyzed by these kinds of discrete benchmarks,” Mr. Crocker told the New York Times’s John Burns in an interview on Saturday, referring to pending Iraqi legislation on an oil-sharing agreement and a relaxation of de-Baathification laws. “You could not achieve any of them, and still have a situation where arguably the country is moving in the right direction. And conversely, I think you could achieve them all and still not be heading towards stability, security and overall success in Iraq.”
Mr. Crocker’s comments are a useful reminder of the irrelevance–and disingenuousness–of much Washington commentary on Iraq. For proponents of early withdrawal, the “benchmarking” issue has provided a handy excuse to make the Iraqi government rather than al Qaeda the main culprit in the violence engulfing their country. A forthcoming Administration report indicating lagging political progress is certain to be seized on by Congress as it takes up a defense spending bill and debates an amendment ordering troop withdrawals by the fall. A proposal to mandate extended times between deployments (and thus force withdrawal) failed narrowly in the Senate yesterday, though not before winning the support of seven Republicans.
Nobody claims the Iraqi government is a model of democratic perfection, or that Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki is the second coming of Lincoln. We advised the White House not to lobby against his predecessor. But Mr. Maliki’s government is democratic and more inclusive than most reporting suggests, and it is fighting for its life against an enemy that uses car bombs and suicide bombers as its policy instruments. In an interview this week in the New York Post, General David Petraeus noted that while the performance of the Iraqi Army has been mixed, “their losses in June were three times ours.” To suggest that Iraqis aren’t willing to fight for their freedom is an insult to their families.
General Petraeus also noted that “the level of sectarian deaths in Baghdad in June was the lowest in about a year,” evidence that in this key battlefield the surge is making progress. As a result, al Qaeda is being forced to pick its targets in more remote areas, as it did last week in the village of Amirli near Kirkuk, where more than 100 civilians were murdered. More U.S. troops and the revolt of Sunni tribal leaders against al Qaeda are the most hopeful indicators in many months that the insurgency can be defeated.
But that isn’t going to happen under the timetable now contemplated by Congress. “I can think of few commanders in history who wouldn’t have wanted more troops, more time or more unity among their partners,” General Petraeus told the Post. “However, if I could only have one at this point in Iraq, it would be more time.”
It’s also not going to happen if Congress insists on using troop withdrawals to punish Iraqis for their supposed political delinquency. The central issue is whether the Iraqis can make those decisions without having to fear assassination as the consequence of political compromise. The more insistent Congress becomes about troop withdrawals, the more unlikely political reconciliation in Iraq becomes.
That said, it’s becoming increasingly clear that the issue of reconciliation has become a smokescreen for American politicians who care for their own political fortunes far more than they do about the future of Iraq or the consequences of Iraq’s collapse for U.S. interests in the Middle East. Here again, they could stand to listen to Mr. Crocker.
“You can’t build a whole policy on a fear of a negative, but, boy, you’ve really got to account for it,” he said. “In the States, it’s like we’re in the last half of the third reel of a three-reel movie, and all we have to do is decide we’re done here . . . and we leave the theater and go on to something else. Whereas out here, you’re just getting into the first reel of five reels, and ugly as the first reel has been, the other four and a half are going to be way, way worse.”
Mr. Crocker is referring, of course, to the possibility of far nastier violence if the U.S. departs before Iraqi security forces can maintain order. Some will denounce this as a parade of horribles designed to intimidate Congress, but we also recall some of the same people who predicted that a Communist triumph in Southeast Asia would yield only peace, not the “boat people” and genocide. Those Americans demanding a U.S. retreat in Iraq will be directly responsible for whatever happens next.
THE PRESIDENT: Good morning. Thank you. Yesterday, America lost an extraordinary First Lady and a fine Texan, Lady Bird Johnson. She brought grace to the White House and beauty to our country. On behalf of the American people, Laura and I send our condolences to her daughters, Lynda and Luci, and we offer our prayers to the Johnson family.
Before I answer some of your questions, today I’d like to provide the American people with an update on the situation in Iraq. Since America began military operations in Iraq, the conflict there has gone through four major phases. The first phase was the liberation of Iraq from Saddam Hussein. The second phase was the return of sovereignty to the Iraqi people and the holding of free elections. The third phase was the tragic escalation of sectarian violence sparked by the bombing of the Golden Mosque in Samarra.
We’ve entered a fourth phase: deploying reinforcements and launching new operations to help Iraqis bring security to their people. I’m going to explain why the success of this new strategy is vital for protecting our people and bringing our troops home, which is a goal shared by all Americans. I’ll brief you on the report we are sending to Congress. I’ll discuss why a drawdown of forces that is not linked to the success of our operations would be a disaster.
As President, my most solemn responsibility is to keep the American people safe. So on my orders, good men and women are now fighting the terrorists on the front lines in Iraq. I’ve given our troops in Iraq clear objectives. And as they risk their lives to achieve these objectives, they need to know they have the unwavering support from the Commander-in-Chief, and they do. And they need the enemy to know that America is not going to back down. So when I speak to the American people about Iraq, I often emphasize the importance of maintaining our resolve and meeting our objectives.
As a result, sometimes the debate over Iraq is cast as a disagreement between those who want to keep our troops in Iraq and those who want to bring our troops home. And this is not the real debate. I don’t know anyone who doesn’t want to see the day when our brave servicemen and women can start coming home.
In my address to the nation in January, I put it this way: If we increase our support at this crucial moment we can hasten the day our troops begin coming home. The real debate over Iraq is between those who think the fight is lost or not worth the cost, and those that believe the fight can be won and that, as difficult as the fight is, the cost of defeat would be far higher.
I believe we can succeed in Iraq, and I know we must. So we’re working to defeat al Qaeda and other extremists, and aid the rise of an Iraqi government that can protect its people, deliver basic services, and be an ally in the war against these extremists and radicals. By doing this, we’ll create the conditions that would allow our troops to begin coming home, while securing our long-term national interest in Iraq and in the region.
When we start drawing down our forces in Iraq it will be because our military commanders say the conditions on the ground are right, not because pollsters say it will be good politics. The strategy I announced in January is designed to seize the initiative and create those conditions. It’s aimed at helping the Iraqis strengthen their government so that it can function even amid violence. It seeks to open space for Iraq’s political leaders to advance the difficult process of national reconciliation, which is essential to lasting security and stability. It is focused on applying sustained military pressure to rout out terrorist networks in Baghdad and surrounding areas. It is committed to using diplomacy to strengthen regional and international support for Iraq’s democratic government.
Doing all these things is intended to make possible a more limited role in Iraq for the United States. It’s the goal outlined by the bipartisan Iraq Study Group. It’s the goal shared by the Iraqis and our coalition partners. It is the goal that Ambassador Crocker and General Petraeus and our troops are working hard to make a reality.
Our top priority is to help the Iraqis protect their population. So we have launched an offensive in and around Baghdad to go after extremists, to buy more time for Iraqi forces to develop, and to help normal life and civil society take root in communities and neighborhoods throughout the country. We’re helping enhance the size, capabilities and effectiveness of the Iraqi security forces so the Iraqis can take over the defense of their own country. We’re helping the Iraqis take back their neighborhoods from the extremists. In Anbar province, Sunni tribes that were once fighting alongside al Qaeda against our coalition are now fighting alongside our coalition against al Qaeda. We’re working to replicate the success in Anbar and other parts of the country.
Two months ago, in the supplemental appropriations bill funding our troops, Congress established 18 benchmarks to gauge the progress of the Iraqi government. They required we submit a full report to Congress by September the 15th. Today my administration has submitted to Congress an interim report that requires us to assess — and I quote the bill — “whether satisfactory progress toward meeting these benchmarks is or is not being achieved.”
Of the 18 benchmarks Congress asked us to measure, we can report that satisfactory progress is being made in eight areas. For example, Iraqis provided the three brigades they promised for operations in and around Baghdad. And the Iraqi government is spending nearly $7.3 billion from its own funds this year to train, equip and modernize its forces. In eight other areas, the Iraqis have much more work to do. For example, they have not done enough to prepare for local elections or pass a law to share oil revenues. And in two remaining areas, progress was too mixed to be characterized one way or the other.
Those who believe that the battle in Iraq is lost will likely point to the unsatisfactory performance on some of the political benchmarks. Those of us who believe the battle in Iraq can and must be won see the satisfactory performance on several of the security benchmarks as a cause for optimism. Our strategy is built on a premise that progress on security will pave the way for political progress. So it’s not surprising that political progress is lagging behind the security gains we are seeing. Economic development funds are critical to helping Iraq make this political progress. Today, I’m exercising the waiver authority granted me by Congress to release a substantial portion of those funds.
The bottom line is that this is a preliminary report and it comes less than a month after the final reinforcements arrived in Iraq. This September, as Congress has required, General Petraeus and Ambassador Crocker will return to Washington to provide a more comprehensive assessment. By that time, we hope to see further improvement in the positive areas, the beginning of improvement in the negative areas. We’ll also have a clearer picture of how the new strategy is unfolding, and be in a better position to judge where we need to make any adjustments.
I will rely on General Petraeus to give me his recommendations for the appropriate troop levels in Iraq. I will discuss the recommendation with the Secretary of Defense and the Joint Chiefs of Staff. I will continue consultations with members of the United States Congress from both sides of the aisle, and then I’ll make a decision.
I know some in Washington would like us to start leaving Iraq now. To begin withdrawing before our commanders tell us we are ready would be dangerous for Iraq, for the region, and for the United States. It would mean surrendering the future of Iraq to al Qaeda. It would mean that we’d be risking mass killings on a horrific scale. It would mean we’d allow the terrorists to establish a safe haven in Iraq to replace the one they lost in Afghanistan. It would mean increasing the probability that American troops would have to return at some later date to confront an enemy that is even more dangerous.
The fight in Iraq is part of a broader struggle that’s unfolding across the region. The same region in Iran — the same regime in Iran that is pursuing nuclear weapons and threatening to wipe Israel off the map is also providing sophisticated IEDs to extremists in Iraq who are using them to kill American soldiers. The same Hezbollah terrorists who are waging war against the forces of democracy in Lebanon are training extremists to do the same against coalition forces in Iraq. The same Syrian regime that provides support and sanctuary for Islamic jihad and Hamas has refused to close its airport in Damascus to suicide bombers headed to Iraq. All these extremist groups would be emboldened by a precipitous American withdrawal, which would confuse and frighten friends and allies in the region.
Nations throughout the Middle East have a stake in a stable Iraq. To protect our interests and to show our commitment to our friends in the region, we are enhancing our military presence, improving our bilateral security ties, and supporting those fighting the extremists across the Middle East. We’re also using the tools of diplomacy to strengthen regional and international support for Iraq’s democratic government.
So I’m sending Secretary Gates and Secretary Rice to the region in early August. They will meet with our allies, reemphasize our commitment to the International Compact of Sharm el Sheikh, reassure our friends that the Middle East remains a vital strategic priority for the United States.
There is a conversion of visions between what Iraqi leaders want, what our partners want and what our friends in the region want, and the vision articulated by my administration, the Iraq Study Group and others here at home. The Iraqis do not want U.S. troops patrolling their cities forever, any more than the American people do. But we need to ensure that when U.S. forces do pull back that terrorists and extremists cannot take control.
The strategy that General Petraeus and the troops he commands are now carrying out is the best opportunity to bring us to this point. So I ask Congress to provide them with the time and resources they need. The men and women of the United States military have made enormous sacrifices in Iraq. They have achieved great things, and the best way to begin bringing them home is to make sure our new strategy succeeds.
And Reid The Pompous Ass says “we are losing”. What a moron.
From Bill Roggio
As Operations Phantom Thunder pushes forward in Baghdad and the Belts, U.S. and Iraqi forces attacked and killed an al Qaeda team attempting to take control of a rural Kurdish village in Diyala. Meanwhile, as critics claim the U.S. is al Qaeda focused in operations, Iraqi and U.S. forces put a significant dent in the Mahdi Army over the past several days.
As Operations Arrowhead Ripper proceeds in the provincial capital of Baqubah and the surrounding areas, al Qaeda in Iraq has intensified in the farmlands north of the city. Last weekend, al Qaeda struck with suicide attacks at Kurdish cities along the Iranian border, and in a Kurdish village in neighboring Salahadin province, with devastating effects. Almost 200 civilians were killed and hundreds more wounded.
Al Qaeda is pushing into villages where it did not have a presence in the recent past. Yesterday, reports of an al Qaeda assaulton the small Shiite village of Sherween slashed across the wires. The AP reported al Qaeda in Iraq moved on Sherween and no security forces were present to stop them. Residents of the town fought back; “25 militants and 18 residents were killed and 40 people wounded in the fighting,” a resident of a neighboring town reported, and stated al Qaeda was winning.
While the AP report lamented the failure of the Iraqi and U.S. security forces to respond, a joint U.S. and Iraqi task force was quickly assembled, and moved in on Sherween early today. “The operation began early Tuesday morning with close air support engaging three river crossings and one bridge with eight 2,000 pound bombs and 14-500 pound bombs. The locations are used by al-Qaida to conduct their attacks and were engaged to prevent their escape,” Multinational Forces Iraq reported. “The people of Sherween played a vital role in this operation as they fought side-by-side the ISF to help them capture and kill known terrorists.” The attack resulted in “20 al-Qaida terrorists killed, 20 detained, and two weapons caches and 12 improvised explosive devices discovered.”
Also north of Baqubah, U.S. and Iraqi security forces found an al Qaeda safe house, which contained a possible torture room. “Inside, the patrol found medical supplies, medical equipment and al-Qaida related propaganda,” Multinational Forces Iraq reported. “Also inside the building was a room with indicators that it had been used as a place of torture, such as blood on the walls and blacked out windows.”
As U.S. and Iraq forces move forward with securing Baqubah and the outlying regions, the attacks such at those in Sherween are expected to increase. Al Qaeda is working the seams in Diyala, and the rural farmlands and the Hamrin mountain chain are ideal locations for al Qaeda and allied insurgent groups to fall back upon.
Operations Marne Torch in the Arab Jabour region and Commando Eagle in the Mahmudiyah region continue largely under the radar of reporting. A tip for an Iraqi led to the capture of south Baghdad’s most wanted terrorist, along with seven associates. The most waned suspected led an al Qaeda terror and intimidation network, and was responsible for “responsible for shooting down an AH-64 helicopter in April 2006, the abductions of two Soldiers in June 2006, and complex attacks on patrol bases and terrorist acts against both Coalition Forces and Iraqi civilians.”
In Arab Jabour, 13 insurgents were detained and several caches were found. In Jisr Diyala, three insurgents were killed after attempting to attack U.S. forces attempting to provide medical assistance to Iraqi citizens.
The Green Zone, or International Zone, came under a relatively heavy mortar attack on Tuesday. Upwards of 20 mortars hit inside the Green zone, killing three and wounding 18. Mortars have been launched from inside Sadr City by “rogue” elements of the Mahdi Army. While attacks on the Green Zone have been relatively inefective militarily, they provide for breathless news reporting.
U.S. forces continue to establish a presence inside Baghdad’s worst neighborhood. The Army built a combat outpost in the Ameriya neighborhood in western Baghdad. Ameriya has been the scene of a local uprising against al Qaeda in Iraq by residents and Sunni insurgent groups. Clearing operations in the Rashid district resulted in the discovery of two small caches which contained mortars and rockets.
Al Qaeda and allied insurgent groups are pressing hard in Salahadin and Ninewa province as operations are underway in Baghdad, the Belts and Diyala. The mayor of Samarra was reported to have been assassinated in his home on Tuesday, according to Voices of Iraq. He took office in May and was tasked with working to rebuild the al Askaria mosque, which was destroyed by al Qaeda in 2006 and against attacked this June. Iraqi police captured a cell leader of a mortar and sniper network in the city on July 9. In Mosul, the Iraqi Army found a roadside bomb factory which produced IEDs that looked like sections of curb.
Coalition and Iraqi commandos continue to strike at al Qaeda’s command network and senior operatives nationwide. In Tuesday’s raids, 17 operatives were captured in Mosul, Baghdad, Taji and northern Babil province. Wednesday’s raids resulted in two al Qaeda operatives killed and 20 captured in Mosul, Baghdad, Samarra and Taji.
Mahdi Army and the Iranian Special Groups
While some commentators are claiming military leaders are only focused on the al Qaeda threat at the exclusion of all other insurgent groups, U.S. and Iraqi security forces continue to devote resources towards dismantling the Mahdi Army and the Iranian-backed “Special Groups.”
On July 9, U.S. forces killed 8 members of a “criminal militia” inside Sadr City. Iraqi Special Operations Forces captured “twelve insurgents linked to a rogue Jaysh al-Mahdi militia [Mahdi Army]” during two operations in Baghdad on July 8. One of the Mahdi cells was responsible for conducting explosively formed penetrator attacks on U.S. forces. Today, Coalition forces captured a “Secret Cell terrorist … affiliated with the Jaysh al-Mahdi affiliated Special Groups.” Multinational Forces Iraq has been increasingly linking the Mahdi Army and the Iranian Special Groups in its press releases.
WARNING! Very graphic photos here!
And this is just one of many reasons why we are where we are and the urgency there is to utterly destroy the murderers of Islam.
Keep up the good work, Yon and may God be with you.
Why are we there? You decide!
On 29 June, American and Iraqi soldiers were again fighting side-by-side as soldiers from Charley Company 1-12 CAV, led by Captain Clayton Combs, and Iraqi soldiers from the 5th IA, closed in on a village on the outskirts of Baqubah. The village had the apparent misfortune of being located near a main road—about 3.5 miles from FOB Warhorse—that al Qaeda liked to bomb. Al Qaeda had taken over the village. As Iraqi and American soldiers moved in, they came under light contact; but the bombs planted in the roads, and maybe in the houses, were the real threat.
The firefight progressed. American missiles were fired. The enemy might have been trying to bait Iraqi and American soldiers into ambush, but it did not work. The village was riddled with bombs, some of them large enough to destroy a tank. One by one, experts destroyed the bombs, leaving small and large craters in the unpaved roads.
The village was abandoned. All the people were gone. But where?
On 30 June, Soldiers from 1-12 Cav allowed me to go to the village in one of their M-1 tanks.
LT Baxter, Tank Commander.
As often happens in Iraq, the first time I meet American combat soldiers, we are going off to do something serious. Although the soldiers usually do not know me, they are courteous and professional, and always watching out for me. And so it was with LT Baxter, who was commanding the M-1 tank that I’d be riding along in, and who made sure I didn’t break my neck getting into the tank. I nearly pulled him off the tank while climbing aboard.
The tankers drove off FOB Warhorse, and only a few miles later, we arrived at the outskirts of the abandoned village.
American soldiers began unloading dozens of body bags, which the Iraqi soldiers, with grim looks, carried into the village.
Remarks at the rededication of the Islamic Center of Washington.
THE PRESIDENT: Imam, thank you very much. Thank you for inviting me. I bring my personal respect to you, sir. And I appreciate your friendship. I do want to thank the governors of the Islamic Center. I welcome the Ambassadors. Thank you all for coming. I appreciate other distinguished guests who are here. It is an honor to join you at this re dedication ceremony.
As the Imam mentioned, half a century has passed since one of our great leaders welcomed the Islamic Center into our nation’s family of faith. Dedicating this site, President Dwight D. Eisenhower offered America’s hand in friendship to Muslims around the world. He asked that together we commit ourselves “to peaceful progress of all men under one God.”
Today we gather, with friendship and respect, to reaffirm that pledge — and to renew our determination to stand together in the pursuit of freedom and peace.1 We come to express our appreciation for a faith that has enriched civilization for centuries.2 We come in celebration of America’s diversity of faith3 and our unity as free people4. And we hold in our hearts the ancient wisdom of the great Muslim poet, Rumi: “The lamps are different, but the light is the same.”5
Moments like this dedication help clarify who Americans are as a people, and what we wish for the world. We live in a time when there are questions about America and her intentions. For those who seek a true understanding of our country, they need to look no farther than here. This Muslim center sits quietly down the road from a synagogue, a Lutheran church, a Catholic parish, a Greek Orthodox chapel, a Buddhist temple — each with faithful followers who practice their deeply held beliefs and live side by side in peace.6
This is what freedom offers: societies where people can live and worship as they choose without intimidation, without suspicion, without a knock on the door from the secret police. The freedom of religion is the very first protection offered in America’s Bill of Rights. It is a precious freedom. It is a basic compact under which people of faith agree not to impose their spiritual vision on others, and in return to practice their own beliefs as they see fit. This is the promise of our Constitution, and the calling of our conscience, and a source of our strength.7
The freedom to worship is so central to America’s character that we tend to take it personally when that freedom is denied to others. Our country was a leading voice on behalf of the Jewish refusniks in the Soviet Union. Americans joined in common cause with Catholics and Protestants who prayed in secret behind an Iron Curtain. America has stood with Muslims seeking to freely practice their beliefs in places such as Burma and China.8
To underscore America’s respect for the Muslim faith here at home,9 I came to this Center six days after the 9/11 attacks to denounce incidents of prejudice against Muslim Americans. (Applause.) Today I am announcing a new initiative that will improve mutual understanding and cooperation between America and people in predominately Muslim countries.
I will appoint a special envoy to the Organization of the Islamic Conference. This is the first time a President has made such an appointment to the OIC. (Applause.) Our special envoy will listen to and learn from representatives from Muslim states and will share with them America’s views and values. This is an opportunity for Americans to demonstrate to Muslim communities our interest in respectful dialogue and continued friendship.10
We have seen that friendship reflected in the outpouring of support Americans have extended to Muslim communities across the globe during times of war and natural disaster. Americans came to the aid of the victims of devastating earthquakes in Pakistan and Iran, and responded with urgency and compassion to the wreckage of the tsunami in Indonesia and Malaysia. Our country defended Muslims in Bosnia and Kosovo after the breakup of Yugoslavia. (Applause.)11 Today we are rallying the world to confront genocide in Sudan.12 Americans of all beliefs have undertaken these efforts out of compassion, conviction, and conscience.
The greatest challenge facing people of conscience is to help the forces of moderation win the great struggle against extremism that is now playing out across the broader Middle East. We’ve seen the expansion of the concept of religious freedom and individual rights in every region of the world — except one. In the Middle East, we have seen instead the rise of a group of extremists who seek to use religion as a path to power and a means of domination.13
These self-appointed vanguard — this self-appointed vanguard presumes to speak for Muslims. They do not. They call all Muslims who do not believe in their harsh and hateful ideology “infidels” and “betrayers” of the true Muslim faith. This enemy falsely claims that America is at war with Muslims and the Muslim faith, when in fact it is these radicals who are Islam’s true enemy. (Applause.)14
They have staged spectacular attacks on Muslim holy sites to divide Muslims and make them fight one another. The majority of the victims of their acts of terror are Muslims. In Afghanistan, they have targeted teachers for beatings and murder. In Iraq, they killed a young boy, and then booby-trapped his body so it would explode when his family came to retrieve him. They put children in the backseat of a car so they could pass a security checkpoint, and then blew up the car with the children still inside. These enemies bombed a wedding reception in Amman, Jordan, a housing complex in Saudi Arabia, a hotel in Jakarta. They claim to undertake these acts of butchery and mayhem in the name of Allah. Yet this enemy is not the true face of Islam, this enemy is the face of hatred.15
Men and women of conscience have a duty to speak out and condemn this murderous movement before it finds its path to power.16 We must help millions of Muslims as they rescue a proud and historic religion from murderers and beheaders who seek to soil the name of Islam.17 And in this effort, moderate Muslim leaders have the most powerful and influential voice. We admire and thank those Muslims who have denounced what the Secretary General of the OIC called “radical fringe elements who pretend that they act in the name of Islam.” We must encourage more Muslim leaders to add their voices, to speak out against radical extremists who infiltrate mosques, to denounce organizations that use the veneer of Islamic belief to support and fund acts of violence, and to reach out to young Muslims — even in our country and elsewhere in the free world — who believe suicide bombing may some day be justified.18
We need to rally the voices of Muslims who can speak most directly to millions in the Arab world left behind in the global movement toward prosperity and freedom. For decades the free world abandoned Muslims in the Middle East to tyrants, and terrorists, and hopelessness. This was done in the interests of stability and peace, but instead the approach brought neither. The Middle East became an incubator for terrorism and despair, and the result was an increase in Muslims’ hostility to the West. I have invested the heart of my presidency in helping Muslims fight terrorism, and claim their liberty, and find their own unique paths to prosperity and peace.19
The efforts underway in Afghanistan and Iraq are central in this struggle, but that struggle is not going to end the threats; it’s not going to end there.20 We believe the ultimate success of Afghans and Iraqis will inspire others who want to live in freedom, as well.21 We will work toward a day when a democratic Palestine lives side by side with Israel in peace.22 (Applause.) We have already seen stirrings of a democratic future in other parts of the Middle East, though it will take time for liberty to flower. A democratic future is not a plan imposed by Western nations, it is a future that the people of the region will seize for themselves.23 A future of freedom is the dream and the desire of every loving heart.24
We know this because of the 8 million people who braved threats and intimidation to vote in Afghanistan. We know this because of the nearly 12 million people who cast ballots in free elections in Iraq. And we know this because the world watched as the citizens of Lebanon raised the banner of the Cedar Revolution, drove out their Syrian occupiers, and chose new leaders under free elections. Even now the hope for freedom is felt in some dark corners in the Middle East — whispering in living rooms, and coffee houses, and in classrooms. Millions seek a path to the future where they can say what they think, travel where they wish, and worship as they choose. They plead in silence for their liberty — and they hope someone, somewhere will answer.25
So today, in this place of free worship, in the heart of a free nation, we say to those who yearn for freedom from Damascus to Tehran: You are not bound forever by your misery. You plead in silence no longer. The free world hears you. You are not alone. America offers you its hand in friendship. We work for the day when we can welcome you into the family of free nations. We pray that you and your children may one day know freedom in all things, including the freedom to love and to worship the Almighty God.26
May God bless you.
- Islam does not pursue peace; it pursues world domination through Jihad. Read this; print & distribute it: Is Islam Peaceful?
- The only enriching Islam did was of Muhammad & his Caliphs with booty and the soil with blood & bodies! See Bukhari3.37.495 and 4.52.220.
- Islam does not celebrate diversity; it is intolerant. It imposes a sub human state of subjugation upon conquered Jews & Christians.
- Muslims in Dar Ul-Harb self-segregate. Thats why they collect in European cities such as Malmo, where police dare not enter. They are creating and taking over enclaves as a progression toward total conquest.
- How do you square the Golden Rule with “kill them wherever you find them” & “fight them until” they pay extortion in a state of subjection?
- Side by side in peace … only until the number of Muslims is sufficient to support attacks against their neighbors, as in Aceh and the suburbs of Paris.
- Freedom of religion is not a part of Islam. Islam demands that only Allah be worshiped in the entire world. Islam must be made dominant.
- Practicing Islamic beliefs means waging war against all who refuse to submit to Islam. Only a damn fool traitor stands with Islam!!!
- None but an ignoramus or a damn fool respects Islam! Islam is a predatory institution designed to enrich and empower Muhammad through the professional practice of piracy. Read and distribute this: The Roots of Islamic terrorism.
- Sheer idiocy!!! The OIC supports HAMAS & Hizbollah. It seeks global world conquest as prescribed in the Qur’an. Respectful dialogue with Islam is an impossibility; Islam has no respect. It is supremacist, racist intolerant and aggressively violent.
- President Clinton supported Islamic aggressors against Christian defenders. He is a traitor to western civilization!
- The ongoing genocide in Darfur is Islamic. in compliance with Muhammad’s preaching and practice.
- Islam was created as a means to acquire power and domination. It is a war machine, not a religion. There are no extremists; only believing, faithful Muslims obeying Allah and emulating Muhammad.
- Islam is the enemy of all mankind; has declared war and is prosecuting it. Most Muslims are descendants of people who were conquered and converted at sword point.
- The true face of Islam is what Allah commanded and Muhammad exemplified: perpetual war on all mankind!!! Wake up!!! Wise up!!! Inform yourself!!! Quit believing the lies told by damn fools and traitors!!!!! Begin by reading the Know Thine Enemy series. Be sure to follow and carefully read the links therein contained.
- The murderous movement is Islam, Muhammad’s path to power. The dichotomy : moderate || extreme Islam is false and malicious. Islam is violent and genocidal; was so from its foundation and will always remain so.
- Islam has not been hijacked!!! Read and distribute this: Has Islam Been Hijacked? Muhammad ordered the murder of poets who criticized him. See Sahih Muslim Book 019, Number 4435.
- What in Hell is moderate about this??:
9:29 USC Fahd Declaration of perpetual war against “people of the book”. Fight against those who (1) believe not in Allâh, (2) nor in the Last Day, (3) nor forbid that which has been forbidden by Allâh and His Messenger (4) and those who acknowledge not the religion of truth (i.e. Islâm) among the people of the Scripture (Jews and Christians), until they pay the Jizyah with willing submission, and feel themselves subdued.
Genocide is prerequisite to ransoming POW. It is not for a Prophet that he should have prisoners of war (and free them with ransom) until he had made a great slaughter (among his enemies) in the land. You desire the good of this world (i.e. the money of ransom for freeing the captives), but Allâh desires (for you) the Hereafter. And Allâh is All-Mighty, All-Wise.
Order to fight: confirms 9:28 & 8:39; denies dignity & equality of Kuffar/Dhimmis. Sahih Bukhari Volume 1, Book 8, Number 387:
Narrated Anas bin Malik:
Allah’s Apostle said, “I have been ordered to fight the people till they say: ‘None has the right to be worshipped but Allah.’ And if they say so, pray like our prayers, face our Qibla and slaughter as we slaughter, then their blood and property will be sacred to us and we will not interfere with them except legally and their reckoning will be with Allah.” Narrated Maimun ibn Siyah that he asked Anas bin Malik, “O Abu Hamza! What makes the life and property of a person sacred?” He replied, “Whoever says, ‘None has the right to be worshipped but Allah’, faces our Qibla during the prayers, prays like us and eats our slaughtered animal, then he is a Muslim, and has got the same rights and obligations as other Muslims have.”
- Muslims can only fight terrorism and claim their liberty by mass apostasy: casting off Allah’s yoke of slavery. Islam and liberty can not coexist because Islam is slavery.
- If we were victorious in Afghanistan & Iraq– if liberal democratic governments were established, they could not be maintained because Islam does not allow democracy. Allah rules. His rule may not be questioned. Only the complete extinction of Islam can achieve the goal of liberating the region and rendering it peaceful.
- Only a damn fool would believe that. First, democracy will never be successful in the presence of Islam. We lost the battle when we allowed Sharia to be the source of law in their constitutions! We succeeded in Germany & Japan because we imposed new constitutions on them. Allowing Afghanistan & Iraq to retain Islam was a fatal blunder, guaranteeing failure. Muslims are Allah’s slaves. They can only obtain freedom by removing Allah’s yoke.
- Only an ignorant damn fool expects Islam to coexist with Israel! Israel, by existing on land once conquered by Islam, proves Allah to be an impotent idol. In 8:65, he promised a 10:1 kill ratio. In 1948, the Muslims lost in spite of overwhelming superiority in manpower and hardware. There is absolutely no possibility of Islam ever tolerating Israel’s existence. Israel will never obtain peace and security while Islam exists. Neither will we.
- Not while they are Muslims! It will never happen.
- Muslims have sold their lives and property to Allah in return for admission to Paradise. Allah’s part of the bargain: Muslims fight and kill for him. This is expressly stated in 9:111. Read it and curse Islam, if you have a soul.
- The only answer is to show them, dramatically, the true nature of Allah, Islam & Muhammad: a demon, a murder cult and a murdering, pedophile, lecher and pirate respectively. Document the Qur’an & Sunnah on film and give it global distribution. Let them see the rape of Safia, the murder of her husband, the genocide of the Banu Qurayzah, the marriage to Aisha at age 6 and the marriage to his daughter in law. Sign and promote this on line petition which urges Mel Gibson to make and distribute the film: Expose Islam On Film.
- They can only know that freedom as ex-Muslims. If they don’t attain it, we will lose our lives and liberties.
Scott Nelson/World Picture Network, for The New York Times
An American soldier carrying shoulder-fired grenades paused to wait for orders during an operation on Saturday in Baquba, Iraq.
A detailed report follows.
Don’t forget to send the Democrat Leadership(?) their condolences cards.
BAGHDAD, June 24 — As the judge pronounced five death sentences on the man Iraqis know as Chemical Ali, the defendant seemed on Sunday to be a shadow of the merciless enforcer who oversaw poison gas attacks that killed thousands of Kurdish villagers in Iraq’s northern uplands nearly 20 years ago.
At the age of 61, severely weakened by diabetes, the defendant, Ali Hassan al-Majid, leaned heavily on a walking stick for the 18 minutes it took the judge to read guilty verdicts on counts of genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity. Unlike his cousin Saddam Hussein, whose shouted defiance nearly drowned out the judge who sent him to the gallows last year, Mr. Majid offered no protest until the judge ordered bailiffs to lead him from the iron-ribbed cage that serves as a dock.
“Thanks be to God, now I’m leaving,” he said gruffly, as he turned to limp from the courtroom in the old Baath Party headquarters, a place where his reputation as a man who relished handing out summary sentences to Kurds, Shiites and other supposed enemies of the old government — and overseeing the executions himself, with a ghoulish pleasure evident in official videos — made him almost as feared as Mr. Hussein.
Pool photo by Joseph Eid
The Kurds, who make up 20 percent of Iraq’s population, have long sought justice for the Anfal, or Spoils of War, campaign that scarred their mountainous region.
Chemical Ali and company claimed they were merely attacking Kurdish guerrillas who had sided with Iran in the last stage of the 1980-88 Iraq-Iran war. Historians say Saddam wanted to make an example of the rebellious Kurds to show what happened to those who defied his authority.
Majid – Saddam’s main enforcer whom he used to crush dissent – declared thousand of villages “prohibited areas.”
The villages were bombed and razed, and tens of thousands of villagers – including women and children – were slain.
Majid used mustard gas and nerve agents to do the killing, thus earning his grim nickname.
America had its civil war. Why expect freedom to come easy to Iraq?
BAGHDAD, Iraq–Americans keen to understand the ongoing struggle for a new Iraq can be guided by the example of their own history. In the 1860s, your country fought a great struggle of its own, a civil war that took hundreds of thousands of lives but ended in the triumph of freedom and the birth of a great power. Abraham Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation signaled the destruction of the terrible institution of slavery, and the rise of a country dedicated, more than any other in the world of nation-states then and hence, to the principle of human liberty.
Our struggle in Iraq is similar to the great American quest, and is perhaps even more complicated. As your country was fighting that great contest over its unity and future, Iraq was a province of an Ottoman empire steeped in backwardness and ignorance. A half a century later, the British began an occupation of Iraq and drew the borders of contemporary Iraq as we know them today. Independence brought no relief to the people of our land. They were not given the means of political expression, nor were they to know political arrangements that respected their varied communities.
Under the Baath tyranny, Iraqis were to endure a brutal regime the likes of which they had never known before. Countless people were put to death on the smallest measure of suspicion. Wars were waged by that regime and our national treasure was squandered without the consent of a population that was herded into costly and brutal military campaigns. Today when I hear the continuous American debate about the struggle raging in Iraq, I can only recall with great sorrow the silence which attended the former dictator’s wars.
It is perhaps true that only people who are denied the gift of liberty can truly appreciate its full meaning and bounty. I look with admiration at the American debate surrounding the Iraq war, and I admire even those opinions that differ from my own. As prime minister of Iraq I have been subjected to my share of criticism in that American debate, but I harbor no resentment and fully understand that the basic concerns of Americans are the safety of their young people fighting in our country and the national interests of their society. As this American debate goes on, I am guided and consoled by the sacred place of freedom and liberty in the American creed and in America’s notion of itself.
War being what it is, the images of Iraq that come America’s way are of car bombs and daily explosions. Missing from the coverage are the great, subtle changes our country is undergoing, the birth of new national ideas and values which will in the end impose themselves despite the death and destruction that the terrorists have been hell-bent on inflicting on us. Those who endured the brutality of the former regime, those who saw the outside world avert its gaze from their troubles, know the magnitude of the change that has come to Iraq. A fundamental struggle is being fought on Iraqi soil between those who believe that Iraqis, after a long nightmare, can retrieve their dignity and freedom, and others who think that oppression is the order of things and that Iraqis are doomed to a political culture of terror, prisons and mass graves. Some of our neighbors have made this struggle more lethal still, they have placed their bets on the forces of terror in pursuit of their own interests.
When I became prime minister a year and a half ago, my appointment emerged out of a political process unique in our neighborhood: Some 12 million voters took part in our parliamentary elections. They gave voice to their belief in freedom and open politics and their trust imposed heavy burdens on all of us in political life. Our enemies grew determined to drown that political process in indiscriminate violence, to divert attention from the spectacle of old men and women casting their vote, for the first time, to choose those who would govern in their name. You may take this right for granted in America, but for us this was a tantalizing dream during the decades of dictatorship and repression.
Before us lies a difficult road–the imperative of national reconciliation, the drafting of a new social contract that acknowledges the diversity of our country. It was in that spirit that those who drafted our constitution made provisions for amending it. The opponents of the constitution were a minority, but we sought for our new political life the widest possible measure of consensus. From the outset, I committed myself to the principle of reconciliation, pledged myself to its success. I was determined to review and amend many provisions and laws passed in the aftermath of the fall of the old regime, among them the law governing de-Baathification. I aimed to find the proper balance between those who opposed the decrees on de-Baathification and others who had been victims of the Baath Party. This has not been easy, but we have stuck to that difficult task.
Iraq is well on its way to passing a new oil law that would divide the national treasure among our provinces and cities, based on their share of the population. This was intended to reassure those provinces without oil that they will not be left behind and consigned to poverty. The goal is to repair our oil sector, open the door for new investments and raise the standard of living of Iraqi families. Our national budget this year is the largest in Iraq’s history, its bulk dedicated to our most neglected provinces and to improving the service sector in the country as a whole. Our path has been made difficult by the saboteurs and the terrorists who target our infrastructure and our people, but we have persevered, even though our progress has been obscured by the scenes of death and destruction.
Daily we still fight the battle for our security. We lose policemen and soldiers to the violence, as do the multinational forces fighting along our side. We are training and equipping a modern force, a truly national and neutral force, aided by our allies. This is against the stream of history here, where the armed forces have traditionally been drawn into political conflicts and struggles. What gives us sustenance and hope is an increase in the numbers of those who volunteer for our armed forces, which we see as proof of the devotion of our people to the stability and success of our national government.
We have entered into a war, I want it known, against militias that had preyed upon the weakness of the national government and in the absence of law and order in some of our cities, even in some of the districts in Baghdad, imposed their own private laws–laws usually driven by extremism and a spirit of vengeance. Some of these militias presented themselves as defenders of their own respective communities against other militias. We believe that the best way to defeat these militias is to build and enhance the capabilities of our government as a defender of the rights of our citizens. A stable government cannot coexist with these militias.
Our conflict, it should be emphasized time and again, has been fueled by regional powers that have reached into our affairs. Iraq itself is eager to build decent relations with its neighbors. We don’t wish to enter into regional entanglements. Our principle concern is to heal our country. We have reached out to those among our neighbors who are worried about the success and example of our democratic experiment, and to others who seem interested in enhancing their regional influence.
Our message has been the same to one and all: We will not permit Iraq to be a battleground for other powers. In the contests and ambitions swirling around Iraq, we are neutral and dedicated to our country’s right to prosperity and a new life, inspired by a memory of a time when Baghdad was–as Washington is today–a beacon of enlightenment on which others gazed with admiration. We have come to believe, as Americans who founded your country once believed, that freedom is a precious inheritance. It is never cheap but the price is worth paying if we are to rescue our country.
Mr. Maliki is prime minister of Iraq.
I will post here on this particular entry all there is and will be on this operation.
Let us begin.
From Black Five.
The pursuit of AQI meant that Diyala was the logical next step. Its sectarian mix not only allowed AQI to move into Baquba and its environs, it also gave them opportunities to inflame sectarian tensions. While the US has worked hard to turn the corner in Anbar, AQI fled to fight another day, and that day is today.
The Battle of the Belts have begun and as Michael Yon stated in his latest dispatch, this is the largest operation since the end of major combat four years ago:
After weeks of maneuvering in and around Baghdad, U.S. and Iraqi forces have isolated and cornered large numbers of terrorists in Diyala province (northeast of Baghdad), and especially in the provincial capital, Baqouba. This is a major operation, with 9,000 Americans and a thousand Iraqi troops (and police) involved. In addition, there are several hundred local irregulars, who have switched sides. This is a big change in the Baghdad suburbs. While tribal leaders and warlords in the west (Anbar province) have been turning on terrorist groups, especially al Qaeda, for several years, the gangs of Baghdad were more resistant to changing sides.
A look at the largest offensive operation in Iraq since 2003
Four days after the announcement of major offensive combat operations against al Qaeda in Iraq and its allies, the picture becomes clearer on the size and scope of the operation. In today’s press briefing, Rear Admiral Mark noted that the ongoing operation is a corps directed and coordinated offensive operation. This is the largest offensive operation since the first phase of Operation Iraqi Freedom ended in the spring of 2003.
BAQOUBA, Iraq – Task Force Lightning continued its offensive operation in and around the capital of Diyala province, Iraq, today as part of a powerful crack down on al-Qaida terrorists operating in the area.
U.S. and Iraqi combined forces engaged and killed at least 30 al-Qaida operatives, and discovered four IEDs emplaced in houses, and 10 buried IEDs during the first full day of Operation Arrowhead Ripper.
“These criminals will know no safe place to hide in Diyala,” said Brig. Gen. Mick Bednarek, Deputy Command General for Operations, Task Force Lightning and Multinational Division North. “The people of Diyala are tired of the terror and violence these al-Qaida thugs have brought to their province and are cooperating with us in order to root them out.”
As the Soldiers moved through Baqouba and the surrounding areas, they discovered at least two weapons caches containing assault weapons, grenades, rocket launchers, large and small caliber ammunition and explosives. Ground forces also coordinated a precisions guided munitions strike to destroy a known al-Qaida weapons cache located inside a safe house, and reported a large secondary explosion due to the munitions the terrorists stored inside.
In another incident, Soldiers from Alpha Troop, 5th Squadron, 73rd Cavalry Regiment observed and engaged armed individuals emplacing an IED near Zaganiyah village, along the Diyala river valley.
The gunmen returned fire but the Soldiers, using direct and indirect fires, killed both of the armed IED emplacers.
“This operation is just beginning and we will continue to strike al-Qaida no matter where they hide and we won’t rest until the job is done,” said Bednarek.
Approximately 10,000 Soldiers throughout Diyala Province are participating in and supporting Operation Arrowhead Ripper, which was launched by Task Force Lightning to eliminate al-Qaida in Iraq terrorists. Included in this operation are over 1000 Iraqi Army soldiers and a comparable number of Iraqi Police.
In the short time since Petraeus took charge here, Anbar Province – “Anbar the Impossible” – seems to have made a remarkable turnaround. I just spent about a month out there and saw no combat. I have never gone that long in Iraq without seeing combat. Clearly, some areas of Anbar remain dangerous—there is fighting in Fallujah today—but there is also something in Anbar today that hasn’t been seen in recent memory: possibilities. There are also larger realities lurking up on the Turkish borders, but the reality today is that the patient called Iraq will die and become a home for Al Qaeda if we leave now.But now the AQ cancer is spreading into Diyala Province, straight along the Diyala River into Baghdad and other places. “Al Qaeda in Mesopotamia” (AQM) apparently now a subgroup of ISI (the Islamic State of Iraq), has staked Baquba as the capital of their Caliphate. Whatever the nom de jour of their nom de guerre, Baquba has been claimed for their capital. I was in Diyala again this year, where there is a serious state of Civil War, making Baquba an unpopular destination for writers or reporters. (A writer was killed in the area about a month ago, in fact.) News coming from the city and surrounds most often would say things like, “near Baghdad,” or “Northeast of Baghdad,” and so many people have never even heard of Baquba.
Michael Yon, who I have come to admire for his “good, bad and ugly” analysis of the situation in Iraq, is now in the thick of the fighting in the new operation just kicked off there. He says it is the biggest operation since the invasion and its going to be tough and bloody.
Yon does a review, a sort of how we got where we are today in the piece which is brutally honest. It is also not very flattering to those who have lead us up to this point. But, as he mentioned in the interview I was able to participate in on Pundit Review radio, he’s now changed his mind and feels we have a chance to win this thing since Gen. David “Harry Reid thinks you’re incompetent” Petraeus has taken over.
CBS News Embed: video only~2 minutes
CBS Gloating…first casualties…no details…just a “check in later…morbid MFs.