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The Asylum

Welcome to the Asylum. This is a site devoted to politics and current events in America, and around the globe. The THREE lunatics posting here are unabashed conservatives that go after the liberal lies and deceit prevalent in the debate of the day. We'd like to add that the views expressed here do not reflect the views of other inmates, nor were any inmates harmed in the creation of this site.

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Thursday, December 14, 2006

Jed Babbin On Iran And Syria, And The ISG Idiocy

Jed Babbin--the "Sith Lord" of the radio--frequently fills in for Hugh Hewitt when Hugh's away on "assignment." Yesterday was no exception as Hugh was invited to the annual White House get together with the media. So, Jed was right there behind the microphone, railing agianst the Left. We do so love it when he does that.

Today, Jed took on the ISG idiotic assertion that Syria and Iran actually care what happens in Iraq in this RCP editorial:

In the midst of about three hours of Pentagon briefings Tuesday a few seemingly disjointed facts emerged. Each is a major data point that exposes the vacuity of the Baker-Hamilton ISG's recommendation to negotiate with Syria and Iran.

There is simply no evidence to support the ISG's assertion that both Iran and Syria have an interest in a stable and peaceful Iraq that is not torn apart by sectarian violence.
As I wrote earlier this week, each of those nations - Syria, by running a jihadi welcome wagon to help terrorists coming from all over the world to transit through Syria into Iraq and Iran by funding, arming and providing every other support of Shia terrorist organizations in Iraq - have demonstrated convincingly that they want an unstable Iraq to fall prey to their proxy forces. In the briefings Tuesday, a few interesting facts emerged.

In Iraq last December, I learned that the deadliest type of "IED" (improvised explosive device) that is the insurgents' most effective weapon against our troops is a very sophisticated bomb. It compares to the 2002-vintage crude roadside bomb in the same way a Porsche compares to a Model-A Ford. It's called the "explosively-formed penetrator" ("EFP" in the inevitable Pentagon acronym.) A shaped explosive charge compresses a projectile and launches it with enough force to penetrate the armor of any vehicle, even a tank. It's made in only one place: Iran.

In one of the Tuesday briefings, I asked one of the senior military leaders presenting it whether there had been a measurable change in the numbers of EFPs coming into Iraq in 2006. He said there had been a "significant increase" in the number. Iran is clearly raising the pressure on us to leave Iraq by doing its best to increase American casualties.

How are these EFPs coming into Iraq? Again, to quote the briefer: "Iran's Revolutionary Guard Corps has established smuggling routes to transport men and supplies into Iraq." Who is using them to kill and wound Americans and other coalition troops? "Iran's Revolutionary Guard has a network in Iraq headed by Abu Mustapha al-Sheibani to commit violence against Coalition forces." That doesn't sound like a nation that has any interest in democracy and stability in Iraq.

Syria is just as bad. For about three years, the Pentagon leaders - and their subordinates - have been using the term "actively unhelpful" as a euphemism for Syrian intervention in Iraq. This time, the military briefers were much more blunt. They said that Syria's opposition to resolving the Israel-Palestinian conflict was both clear and strong. Syria's interference in Lebanon, its refusal to do anything to stop the flow of insurgents, money and weapons into Iraq through its territory and Syria's intentions to dominate its neighbors were all major problems. These facts were all known to the Baker-Hamilton ISG. How they could determine that Syria and Iran had an interest in a stable, peaceful and self-governing Iraq is mind-boggling.

Another part of the briefings focused on al-Queda, and its own coalition of allied groups that is spread throughout the Middle East and parts of Africa. The briefing talked in terms of "leadership nodes," "operational cells" and "support nodes", dotting them all over a densely-packed map that ran from Waziristan to Mogadishu to Algiers. It bears translation from Pentagonese.

Al-Queda has evolved greatly from its early days of personalization in Usama bin Laden, Ayman al-Zawahiri and a few others. Our military leaders now characterize it as a "franchise" that shares communications, some funding and sometimes coordinates actions. Some terrorism experts now say that al-Queda is less than that, a loosely-knit network of terrorist groups that coordinate only in giving credit to bin Laden for propaganda purposes. It's impossible to define it with precision, but the map showed al-Queda leaders headquartered in nine places including Jiddah, Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Waziristan (eastern Pakistan), two places in Iraq (Baghdad and northeastern Iraq), northern Uzbekistan and (and here the map is a bit imprecise) two places in Somalia. Al-Queda's objective, we must remember, is the same as that of Iran, but in a much different form.

Al-Queda wants to create a new Islamic caliphate dominated by Sunni Muslims. Iran wants a new caliphate, but under a Shia caliph. Though both want to remove our influence from the Middle East and the world and both want to destroy Israel, they cannot both succeed: there can be only one caliph. There is an opportunity to split this enemy, but that opportunity hasn't ripened. Opportunities present themselves for, as Churchill would have said, "action this day."

The Baker-Hamilton ISG recommended a regional diplomatic offensive to restore stability in Iraq and in our relations with Iraq's neighbors. We do need a regional diplomatic offensive - indeed a global one - but with the opposite goal. One goal should be to destabilize Iran, to enable its oppressed populace to overthrow the mullacracy. (Students' demonstrations against the Ahmadinejad government show how this government is fragile). And to diplomacy, we should be using every covert means we can think of to support the rebellious elements of Iran's society. The global offensive should include support for Lebanon's attempt - mostly unconnected from the Siniora government - to restore democracy there and overthrow the Syrian influence (including Syria's and Iran's proxy there, Hizballah). Those things cannot be accomplished in one day or one month. But huge strides can be made in the next year, perhaps in time to prevent a regional war centered in Lebanon and to prevent Tehran from achieving its nuclear weapons ambitions.

The president is developing his change to policy in Iraq and, from indications yesterday, it appears the changes won't be announced before January. Whatever he decides to do in Iraq, however, cannot succeed unless he includes in his decision the ways to really win this war.

Islamofascism cannot threaten America without state sponsorship. Since 9-11, the State Department's list of state sponsors of terrorism has been reduced by only one nation: Iraq. The biggest mistake we can make in this war is to fail to follow up one victory (and Iraq remains one until we give up on it) by pressing the advantage against the enemy. Syria, Iran, North Korea, Cuba and Sudan remain almost undisturbed. "Winning in Iraq" is not, and has never been, the definition of victory against global terrorism. Establishing democracy in the Middle East is a noble goal, but it is not worth spending American lives to achieve.

We went into Iraq to begin draining the Middle Eastern swamp of terrorism. The president needs to reset the goal. Drain the swamp, Mr. President. Then we can come home.

Going above and beyond our number one criticism of the commission--that being that they're so-called "experts" were anything but experts on terrorism or the Middle East--this is the second biggest complaint we have with the Baker Commission. As Jed points out, Iran and Syria are the major sponsors of terrorism in the Middle East. They have formented it, financed it, and trained it. Their goals in Iraq don't match ours, or the Iraqis fighting to get a handle on their country. It is exactly contrary to our goals.

We want a free, democratioc, independent Iraq. One that won't be a threat to us or the West again. The Left constantly throws it in our faces that Iraq didn't participate in 11 September (duh), and that they didn't attack us. If we are to believe that they never attacked us in the 1990s, after the first Gulf War, then we must ignore the fact that the cease-fire imposed on Saddam Hussein was null and void; that, in effect, it wasn't to be enforced. Yet Great Britain and the United States took it very seriously.

The no-fly zones were imposed in the cease-fire, and they were enforced by us and the Brits. Saddam Hussein repeatedly locked onto to our jets, and frequently fired on them. That was a violation of the cease-fire, and could legally be construed as an act of war. In 1993, a mukhbarat assassination squad tried to kill then-former Pres. Bush (41). They had ties with Middle Eastern terrorists in the region, and regularly financed and trained them for attacks across the region and around the globe. They targeted USA and Western interests, in addition to assisting Hamas and Islamic Jihad in Israel. So, I fail to grasp the idea that Saddam Hussein was abiding by the cease-fire, and minding his manners.

We had been attacked by him, and we had an adminsitration that didn't feel it necessary to address those attacks until it became politically expedient. Furthermore, it was the Congress in 1998 that passed the Iraqi regime change legislation, and Pres. Clinton did sign it. However, we did little to push that decree forward other than lob cruise missiles at Iraq. Iraq, for Bill Clinton, became the beating post of the United States; a dangerous game to be playing with a man that, at the time, intelligence told us that he was working to reconstitute his WMD programs.

Iran and Syria were sure happy to see Saddam removed. It gave them some breathing room when it came to the struggle for dominance in the Middle East. And it has become quite apparent that Iran is now the big kahuna there. And the threats they pose to the region, and the world, are evident. Jed brings up the weapons they have made that are being smuggled into Iraq. That's a bad thing; they're beuing used against us, coalition forces, and the Iraqi populace in a blatant effort to destabilize a nation that is still trying to stand up.

And they want Iraq to fail for the simple reason that if they succeed, Iraq becomes a threat to them. Neither regime is free or democratic. They are repressive and tyrannical. Look at what Syria is trying to do with Lebanon. It's just like what Iran is trying to do to Iraq, only on a broader scale. Whereas Iran wants Iraq to fail and fall into a sectarian civil war--a prospect that would tear the country apart--Syria already has its players on the chessboard in Lebanon, and they are very close to a checkmate. One more minister goes, and the government is unconstitutional. It will fall. In addition, Hezbollah and pro-Syrian elements in Lebanon hjave been protesting and demanding the resignation of Fouad Siniora--the current prime minister of Lebanon. He is one of the staunchest opponents of Syria. He stands in Bashir Assad's way of returning an occupation force to Lebanon.

So I have to seriously question where the Baker Commission came up with the idea that either of these nations give a rat's ass about what happens in Iraq, and that they support a democratic Iraq. They don't. They want to watch the nation fall, and they're licking their lips at the prospect of it. The Baker Commission also does itself no justice in advising a timetable for withdrawal, and emphasizing the fact that it needs to be a "hard timetable" with no ambiguity or room for interpretation. Sixteen months; that's all the time we have. If they had actually spoken to real experts on the Middle East they would have bveen told that such an idea is farcical, at best.

The enemies of Iraq, and our enemies there, will simply wait us out. Violence would level out, or drop significantly over those sixteen months. We would leave, assuming that the terrorists had either moved on, or been defeated. And within a very short time, they would reemerge, and unleash a living Hell on Iraq.

For those on the Left, we can't accept the ISG report. It has more holes of logic in it than a block of Swiss cheese. It's a pipe-dream concocted by people who have no clue what's really going on over there, and they showed the nation they don't really care to know the truth. Forty-three "experts" were consulted, and if they're lucky, maybe one or two of those people had a clue. Jed's right. The swamp in the Middle East has to be drained, and we're the only ones with the will to do it. (At least, I'd like to believe that, but some things that have happened force me to question even that.) If we're going to complete this mission, then we need to finish it not only in Iraq, but extend it to Iran and Syria. That region will have no peace if neither of those nations are engaged by the lone stronghold of freedom in the world.

Publius II


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