Category Archives: iraq

The Encyclodpedia of

Check out a thorough collection of articles about 9/11 via NYMAG‘s Encyclopedia of 9/11.

What Dinh didn’t anticipate was a profound shift in liberalism and, therefore, in the politics of the country. Even with a Democrat now in the White House, the liberalism that protects the right of the individual against the majority—the politics of civil rights and abortion and gay marriage—has diminished, in favor of one that aims to improve the lot of the median man. Obama’s liberalism is for the majority, not against it. This spirit, and the unlikely endurance of the Patriot Act, owes something to the central psychological events of the decade: the vitality and threat of new economic competitors, the social violence initiated by the authors of obscure financial instruments, but first and most of all September 11—each of which evoked a particular feeling, that we were all together, under attack. .::Patriot Act

Al Qaeda Claims Cucumbers Un-Ladylike

Besides the terrible killings inflicted by the fanatics on those who refuse to pledge allegiance to them, Al-Qa’eda has lost credibility for enforcing a series of rules imposing their way of thought on the most mundane aspects of everyday life.

They include a ban on women buying suggestively-shaped vegetables, according to one tribal leader in the western province of Anbar.

Sheikh Hameed al-Hayyes, a Sunni elder, told Reuters: “They even killed female goats because their private parts were not covered and their tails were pointed upward, which they said was haram.

.::Read the rest at –> telegraph.co.uk

I kinda feel them, though. I mean… I’ve seen a few of the wrong girls pick up a few of the wrong vegetables and thought about implementing my own fundamentalist beliefs. Seriously though, I’m not sure how to take this report. If it’s serious then it ranks among the top ten goofiest reasons why the global Jihad will fail. If it’s not serious… then it’s in extremely poor taste… and puts a whole new spin on gazpacho.

What A Guy …

This is the new John McCain commercial set to air on national television:

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bpyOSLZw8qo[/youtube]

There is one line in there that’s more nauseating than most. Something like, “In a dangerous world with a broken economy,” … what? John McCain will make it more dangerous and put us further in debt? Two days ago, John McCain said that he would balance the national budget in his first term, should he be elected. This ninja here wants to know how he plans to do that. But that’s one of McCain’s secrets. In the past, candidates have offered some numbers to support their claims. But McCain’s got that one covered: if you don’t give any numbers, there’s no way people can do the calculations to shoot you down. Genius. Considering his plans to potentially lower taxes and maintain our current foreign policy that would leave him with only two more miracles before he would be canonized, right?

As far as the world being more dangerous … my ninja, please. I’m not sure I can get a ninja to tell me that this place is any more insecure (security-wise) than it was 12 years ago. Don’t buy it, folks.

Mehdi Militia Cease-fire Over?

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In Iraq’s southern city of Basra, a critically important location because of it’s proximity to valuable oil and it’s trafficking, it is being reported that “thousands of Iraqi troops [are battling] Shia militias.” This is bad news for everyone. The BBC is reporting that at least 30 people have died, we can assume many more. Apparently, the situation in Basra has instigated altercations throughout the occupied nation, including Sadr City, a neighborhood of Baghdad. There, the militia has ordered the Iraqi army to vacate the vicinity.
Now, I’m trying to make as much sense of this situation as possible with the sources I have available to me, and it appears to be pretty complicated. As I understand it, the Mehdi militia, loyal to Moqtada al-Sadr, has been subject to a government crack-down. As a result, the movement has threatened then acted upon a national campaign of civil disobedience in the form of demonstrations and protests. The latest fighting is clearly an escalation of these actions. Ninjas will remember that Sadr’s supporters are currently heeding a call for a six-month cease-fire ordered by al-Sadr.
Different Shia groups are fighting against each other in Basra, as are they fighting government and international forces (though it hasn’t directly been reported that international forces have been involved, air-strikes have been, so that’s got to be either the US or the Brits). The Brits had control of the city until December of ’07, when they turned it over to the local authorities. Now, apparently, these authorities tried to disarm the Mehdi army. Poor decision. The Iraqi government and the U.S. accuse the Mehdi movement of receiving munitions, training, and funds from Iran.
We at the dojo will be keeping a close eye on this situation.

Krauthammer Makes Me Puke

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Today’s Op-Ed piece from Charles Krauthammer in the Washington Post very well may be satire. I can’t tell. But based on his track record, I think he wants us to take him seriously. Considering everything that has come to light regarding McCain’s recent relationship with the FEC over his public financing any reference to McCain-Feingold should be laughed at. Yet, Krauthammer writes with conviction:

On the difficult compromises that required the political courage to challenge one’s own political constituency, Obama flinched: the “Gang of 14″ compromise on judicial appointments, the immigration compromise to which Obama tried to append union-backed killer amendments and, just last month, the compromise on warrantless eavesdropping that garnered 68 votes in the Senate. But not Obama’s.

Who, in fact, supported all of these bipartisan deals, was a central player in two of them and brokered the even more notorious McCain-Feingold campaign finance reform? John McCain, of course.

Yes, John McCain — intemperate and rough-edged, of sharp elbows and even sharper tongue. Turns out that uniting is not a matter of rhetoric or manner, but of character and courage.

Yes, what we really need is a President with enough courage to bring hypocrasy to new levels, and who has a track record of putting himself at arms length of the rules. A President who used to be able to cross party lines but now all of a sudden has pledged himself to the Bush agenda. A President whose campaign rhetoric has turned out to be a message for a dedicated Iraq war “victory.” WE ARE NOT AT WAR WITH IRAQ!!! We are occupying Iraq, and in the process making an attempt to supress al-Qaeda (which is only one piece of the transnational jihadist movement in the Middle East). Isn’t it working splendidly? It’s driven our economy to the gutter, it’s taken as many as 160,000 people away from their families in our own country, forced millions of Iraqis from their homes, and it’s creating incentive for generations of good Muslims to resent America. Bravo, let’s keep it up? 

Krauthammer has also come to the conclusion that Barack Obama’s uniter image is really only believeable because of his heritage crosses racial lines. His logic goes like this:

Because Obama transcends race, it is therefore assumed that he will transcend everything else — divisions of region, class, party, generation and ideology.

If you ninjas know a single person who thinks of Obama’s candidacy in this light, I’d love to meet them. Obama is a black man and race has been an infinately less significant talking point this primary season than what Clinton has tried to do with the gender-card. Rediculous.

Debate Discussion 2/26

Not as much blood splattering as one would have expected last night. Both candidates remained cool, calm and collected. And they were both very much on top of their game.

Is it just me or were these “mediators” very antagonizing? Russert was asking stupid questions and the candidates handled him well. He tried to draw parralels to the life and times of Farrakhan to Obama, trying to bring about some guilt by association. He also tried to put over crazy hypotheticals and expected the candidates to have policy issues for rediculous situations (such as re-invading Iraq, or Iraq telling us to immediatly withdraw from their country). He’s a moron.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nJkU1e-_r3w[/youtube]

Thanks, TPM

Hillary was stupid for complaining about receiving the first quesetion all the time and referencing an SNL skit. I don’t know what she was trying to do, but she got booed. It was also poor decision making to try and say “Well I think we need to be stronger and say reject and not denounce,” in referencing Barack’s position on Farrakhan. And Barack said, “Sorry, waht’s the difference? Okay, I denounce and reject Farrakhan.” 

My favorite moment of the debate was after the clip of Clinton making fun of Obama for being a dreamer and creating a painting of a world uniting and problems being solved (“and the clouds will open up and the sun will shine” … etc etc.), the clip ended Obama said “Sounds good” then credited her with a great performance and solid delivery.

To end the night it was Obama to start in with the feel-good moment which I thought was a great way of saying, it’s been good Hillary, it’s been real … but it hasn’t been real good, but now I have to go win the general election.

Debate Tonight

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Just so you ninjas know. There will be another debate tonight between Sens. Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama. It will go from 9 – 10:30 and will air on NBC. Be sure to check back here for a run-down of the important aspects of what should be a bare-knuckle assault on Obama from Clinton.

The impending doomsday for team Hillary is one week from today when Texas and Ohio will have their primary elections.

I love that picture.

al-Sadr’s Militia to Continue Ceasefire

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A very powerful Shia cleric in Iraq, Maqtada al-Sadr, with a very powerful following has proclaimed that his militia’s ceasefire against rivals and the US will be extended for another six months. He will be a crucial figure in the future of Iraq.

Moqtada’s father was a very powerful and respected Shia cleric throughout the Muslim world. He was murdered along with Moqtada’s two brothers, supposedly on the orders of Saddam Hussein. In 2003 Sadr’s creation of the Mahdi army gained much support in Sadr City, a neighborhood of Baghdad, and beyond. It has a reported following of thousands of Iraqis. This is the force that recognizes the ceasefire.

Since the new Irarqi governmnet has been formed al-Sadr has not lent to its credibility, denouncing it’s legitimacy and refusing to get involved. He invisions a cleric run state (a la Iran). He says the purpose of this new ceasefire is so that his group might further an ideological stance within the Iraqi system. 

One thing that both candidates left out of the debate last night when talking about the sucess of teh US military surge in Iraq is that it has coincided with this ceasefire. This has been a huge reason why there has been such successful surge results. al-Sadr knows that the longer he holds out of taking his own action, the more he can contribute to temporary stability and, hopefully, the withdrawl of foreign troops. 

Iran, what?

Remember Iran? That country next to Iraq that is enriching uranium and is supposed to be the “Pest to the West” (term hereby copyrighted by MNP)?  It seems that the last major news we’ve seen concerning the clericly run state was back when an NIE (an intelligence report) was released siting that Iran had halted their nuclear weapons development as far back as 2003. Well, they’re back this month, making the front page of the Economist, and American Conservatives are shaking. Stanley Kurtz’s piece from the National Review claims:

Yet, as the truth about the NIE report emerges from decidedly non-neocon sources like The Economist, it’s increasingly clear that the real NIE story is actually a Republican warning come true. Dovish intelligence analysts eager to discredit the administration and tie its hands have not only distorted and betrayed the truth about Iran, they have undercut and infuriated the very European diplomats America’s doves look to for approval and assistance. The NIE lied. Europe’s peacemakers cried. Seizing on this story could bring national security back into the heart of this election campaign — and for all the right reasons.

First and foremost: “the truth” about the report isn’t coming from souces like the Economist being able to analyze it. Now, I’m not going to say that Iran definitely isn’t trying to build nukes-I mean, as recent as yesterday Iran was making international news after the launch of a rocket/long range missle apparatus which would greatly assist their efforts to drop a nuke if they should ever procure one-however, do I think that even if Iran did, somehow, get their hands on a nuke they would turn around and blow us up immediately because they’re just those type of people? My ninjas, please! Of course not. They may be a proud people, but not so much that they’d ensure their destruction to stick it to us. Would it be a security threat, yeah. Would the proper way to deal with that situation be to antagonize them and push them closer to a forging a strong relationship with someone like China (I say this because in the future they might benefit from one another’s relationship with the US)? My ninjas please! Of course not.

So, why is Kurtz arguing for Iran’s importance as an election issue? He doesn’t look like a tough-guy…:

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Because he believes that Iran can get their hands on a nuke in the next four years, and if the military option to engage Iran is off the table for now than he fears the international community has given Iran the green light to take this initiative.  Listen, just becuase we are not eagerly awaiting a time when we can strike Iran for being a punk doesn’t mean we’re playing nice. It’s their move now, and you bet your bottom dollar they understand the international community will not at all tolerate their being a nuclear power. And should that even come to fruition, it won’t be a secret, we’ll know. Right? Neither Obama nor Hillary is willing to comprimise American security for a shot at diplomacy with Iran.

$ Cash Money $

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President Bush released his plans for the ’08 – ’09 national budget today (the fiscal year begins October 1). Naturally, Bush is confused about what ‘spending’ actually means. For the first time in our nation’s history the budget will exceed 3 trillion dollars.

And, true to form, Bush left people in favor of social programs wanting with cuts in education, Medicare and Medicaid, among others.

Mr. Bush said he would cut or terminate 151 programs, saving $18 billion in 2009. One agency, the Education Department, accounts for 47 of the terminated programs and three of the programs to be cut. But he would increase spending in areas that fall under the umbrella of “national security.”

Bush is also suggesting the Pentagon receive a 7.5% increase in their budget, which brings it to $515.7 billion dollars. For those of you ninjas who don’t do that math stuff that means they account for 17% of our total budget (this does not include the ‘Raq).

David Broder is the man.

David Broder

Note: from now on I am going to try and post after every David Broder opinion column from the Washington Post. You should all read it anyways because the man is good.

Case and point: Today’s article (12/5) highlights the most important events of the international community according to how they might affect the U.S. Broder tells us that things are different than they were two weeks ago. Now, his near perky article must have been a result from this weeks BIG STORY: the NIE report on Iran’s nuclear capabilities.

Anywho, he got me thinking about how much I want a Democrat in the White House, AND a Democrat controlled Congress. This would be the ill na na, ninjas. Actually … f*ck that, I just don’t want Giulliani or Romney-Bushified chuckle heads. If the Reps cared about themselves they would rally around McCain with Huckabee as the VP. Huckabee is ill because he’s the Republican I could see stabbing the neo-cons right in the heart and letting the blood drip all over him. Interesting guy.

The point is, ninjas, change is on the horizon. If you live in a swing-State, I plead with you: don’t vote for an asshole. Take the time to listen to how these candidates talk, what they talk about, their demeanor, their grace or lack their off … In all sincerity, I think Hillary Clinton should get the nod.

Ninjas, the war on terror needs to end. Because it’s not really a war on terror, this government seems to be all too pleased to feed this fire.

Another Weekend, Another Defeat

Before I get started on today’s post, I shall take a moment to note just how right I was about the “how do we beat the bitch” bit: here’s the New York Times (seriously, the “bastion of old liberalism” the right is always railing about) on how the incident not only won’t hurt McCain, it’ll hurt Clinton. Sometimes knowing how the process really works can suck.

Anyway, I think enough time has now passed that I can begin to talk rationally about the pathetic collapse of the Democrats on the Mukasey nomination last week. Whether I will remain rational as I type is up for debate, but let’s give it a shot anyway.

capitol

So to begin, what the hell happened? The Senate theoretically has a 60-vote threshold in order to do anything, yes? After all, every time a war funding bill comes to the upper chamber, every Democrat in sight will begin to gnash their teeth and rend their garments over the awful burden of needing 60 votes to overcome Republican filibuster threats. Yet there were, if I recall, 40 votes actually cast against Mukasey, not to mention that Biden, Clinton, Dodd, and Obama had all declared their opposition to his nomination, and could easily have gotten back to Washington in time for a vote if given word that it was imminent. That, by my count, is 44. Now, I’m a history/poli-sci major, so math’s not my strong suit, but I’m pretty sure that 44 is more than the 40 votes which are required to sustain a filibuster well into 2009.
So if the Senate Democratic leadership really opposed the nomination, and had a tool at their disposal which would have prevented the nomination from succeeding, then why didn’t they use it? Glenn Greenwald’s got one theory, which I’m inclined to buy, but I’m also really blown away by the story I found on TPM about another possible explanation: that Reid struck a deal in which he would hold the vote and pledge not to stage a filibuster, in exchange for which several Senate Republicans would support a move to split the latest defense appropriations bill into one general funding bill (for troop pay, weapons development, base maintenance, etc) and one bill specifically doling out funds for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
The theory here was basically “we keep getting rolled on Iraq because the President accuses us of threatening national defense by cutting the DoD’s budget. So if we separate that from war funding, he can’t use that weapon anymore.” So they’d take the hit of an executive-worshipping, torture-sanctioning Attorney General in order to bring a swifter conclusion to the war. Decent deal, right?

Well, let’s fast-forward to this week, when it actually happened. The Senate passed an appropriations bill, with no funding for the war attached. The House swiftly followed with a bill which would grant enough funds for the next several months, provided that the President started a withdrawal, with a goal of complete withdrawal by the end of 2008. And so it went to the Senate, where… well, what do you think happened?

Ah well, at least they’ve managed to defuse that whole “you’re risking America’s defense and not supporting the troops” thing, right? In fact, here’s Tony Fratto, White House spokesman, who I’m sure will have nothing but respect for the Democrats’ principled stand:

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gwWHJv7qhQY[/youtube]

So the war keeps going, the Republicans continue to use their “support the troops” mantra, and Mukasey is Attorney General. To quote Casey Stengel as he addressed the 1962 Mets: “Can’t anyone here play this game?”

Enjoying the bipartisan tone

On Cal Thomas’s column page at the Jewish World Review, he’s listed as the author of a book entitled Common Ground: How to Stop the Partisan War That Is Destroying America. So clearly he’s an individual committed to restoring a civil tone to our political discourse, forging a more respectful debate in which everyone remembers that whatever our differences, we have the good of the nation at heart. So let’s hear what he’s got to say about the ill-timed but well-intentioned Armenian genocide resolution that recently came up in the House. I’m sure it’s gracious, polite, and even-keeled, a shining example of the bipartisan comity he so cherishes.

Are Democrats so cynical that they would stir an already boiling pot in hopes that it would negate whatever success America may finally be having in quelling terrorist acts in Iraq? One would hope that is not the case, but given their leadership’s rhetoric about the war already being lost and their refusal to acknowledge even the slightest progress in Iraq as positive lest it reflect well on the Bush administration, cynicism about their cynical actions might be justified.

Hmm. That wasn’t so much polite and bipartisan as it was an accusation that the Speaker of the House is so eager to make the President look bad that she was willing to start a war between Turkey and the Kurds, with our troops in the middle. Maybe he’s being funny. Yes, that must be it. By “opining” that the Democrats are “traitors,” he’s making an incisive commentary on our political discourse. Let’s see the clever way he defies our expectations and ends with a knowing wink.

Apparently there are limits beyond which even Democrats are not willing to go in their pursuit of political gain. There are some issues that ought to transcend partisanship and this is one of them.

Ah. That wasn’t so much a knowing wink as a backhanded compliment (and by “compliment,” I mean “slap across the face”) to Democrats, who despite their all-consuming thirst for victory at any cost, do have some limits. That seems fair. The Democrats are well-known for their bareknuckle tactics and ruthless smear campaigns. Thank goodness the Republicans would never stoop so low as to exploit a war for political gain.

Anyway, the real reason I bring up this article is to comment on something I’ve been considering a lot lately: the resurgence of the dolchstosslegende. Translating roughly as “dagger-thrust legend,” the term became historically significant in the aftermath of the First World War, as Germans searched for an explanation for their defeat in a war in which their leaders had guaranteed victory. The conclusion reached by many was that they had been somehow betrayed, that malevolent forces within Germany had stabbed their brave fighting men in the back. This belief contributed greatly to the rise of the Nazis, who successfully turned the “backstab” accusation against the Communists, the Social Democrats, and other political adversaries, and ultimately against the Jews.

Kevin Baker wrote a fascinating article for Harper’s last year about the use of similar rhetoric (of the “we were betrayed” sort, not the “let’s kill all non-Aryans and conquer the world” sort) by the American right over the last half-century. The article’s well worth the read, and required reading for anyone interested in understanding modern politics. The idea that America’s problems are due to internal subversion rather than dumb policy has gotten the Republicans a lot of points over the years, they seem unlikely to abandon it anytime soon. Unfortunately, the day we finally decide to leave Iraq may well just be the beginning of the fight over whose fault it was that we left.

A few quick hits

The Federal Communications Commission is considering rewriting the rules on media ownership. Current rules state that a single company can’t own a TV or radio station and a newspaper within the same media market. The chairman of the FCC, not wanting to unduly burden billionaire media moguls in their ongoing quest for world domination, wants to get rid of this rule. And it makes sense, really. Without all that pesky regulatory work taking up their time, the FCC can get back to its real job: making sure no one can say “fuck” on television.

Fun new controversy on the Iraq front… Remember this guy?

sanchez

Gen. Ricardo Sanchez, US Army (ret.) was commander of U.S. forces in Iraq from mid-2003 to mid-2004. He’s recently emerged from his retirement to level a bit of criticism at the Administration’s policies in that particular quagmire. Now, the irony of that I could comment upon, but I’ll let Jon Stewart cover that (go watch it, Daily Show’s always worth the trip, especially when they don’t even try to resist the filthy play on a political figure’s name).

What is really interesting is the dilemma it brings to light (which Fred Kaplan covers brilliantly here): when is it acceptable, in a constitutional republic, for generals to question civilian leaders? On the one hand, I really do hope that if Bush orders a strike on Iran, that the Joint Chiefs do everything they possibly can to dissuade him. On the other, I don’t much care for the precedent of military commanders overruling civilian authority. Admittedly, this is the sort of thing that’s less of a problem when the civilian leadership isn’t delusional.

Speaking of which, the only President we’ve got is actively discussing World War III, which is always reassuring. The thing that’s most frightening about the quote is that he wasn’t addressing his comment to Iran, but to Russia, the other country on Earth with several thousand nuclear weapons. I don’t really think he’s envisioning a war against Russia over Iran, but still, this sort of belligerent commentary seems… oh, I don’t know, foolish? Anyone with a better adjective, go ahead and suggest it.