Bush didn’t Lie but President Obama Did

Posted by PITHOCRATES - October 31st, 2013

 Politics 101

Bill Clinton said in a 2005 Interview that the 1981 Israeli Bombing of an Iraqi Nuke Plant was a Good Thing

“Bush lied people died.”  You heard that a lot all during President Bush’s presidency.  The left was shouting it from the mountain top.  “Bush lied people died!”  Saying that the dumbest man ever to occupy the White House fooled the most brilliant people in the world—liberal Democrats—into voting for the invasion of Iraq.  Because Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction (WMD).

Saddam Hussein used WMDs on March 16, 1988.  It was the closing days of the Iran-Iraq War.  In the Kurdish town of Halabja in Northern Iraq.  Hussein was no friend of the Kurds.  And the Kurds had no love for Hussein.  Which is why Kurdish guerillas fought with the Iranians against Saddam Hussein.  And after the Iranians took this Kurdish town in northern Iraq Hussein had no problem with committing an act of genocide in Halabja.  Which he did on March 16, 1988.  The largest chemical attack against a civilian population in history.

On June 7, 1981, Israel carried out a surprise bombing of an Iraqi nuclear reactor under construction.  For they feared a Saddam Hussein with nuclear weapons.  During the Persian Gulf War the Americans bombed what was left of that nuclear reactor.  For they, too, feared a Saddam Hussein with nuclear weapons.  Though publicly condemned by pretty much everyone at the time of the bombing most were probably happy the Israelis did that unpleasant task for them.  Even Bill Clinton said in a 2005 interview that the bombing was a good thing.

Saddam Hussein violated the Terms of the Gulf War Cease Fire by not Documenting the Destruction of his WMDs

The Congress saw the same intelligence the Bush administration saw in the run-up to the Iraq War.  It was so convincing that Joe Biden, Hillary Clinton, John Kerry and Harry Reid voted to give George W. Bush the authority to invade Iraq.  Who all feared a Saddam Hussein with WMDs.  For as bad as 9/11 was it could have been worse if the terrorists had WMDs.  Hussein had WMDs.  And he had no moral compunction against using them.  As proven by Halabja.  Making him a very dangerous man in a world where terrorists who hate America are in the market for WMDs.

So there was a very strong case against Saddam Hussein.  Especially when you throw in his violation of the terms of the Gulf War cease fire agreement.  In particular the documentation of his destruction of his WMDs that he agreed to do.  Which was a tantamount admission of having them.  WMDs.  But he didn’t document the destruction of his WMD stockpiles.  Because he did not destroy them.  Which meant one thing.  He still had weapons of mass destruction.  Which is probably why Joe Biden, Hillary Clinton, John Kerry and Harry Reid voted to give George W. Bush the authority to invade Iraq.  For they were terrified…of being on the wrong side of history when those WMDs they knew he had were found.

Well, we found no WMDs in Iraq.  Probably because Hussein shipped them off to Syria for safekeeping.  Assuming he would remain in power after the Iraq War.  Just as he remained in power after the Gulf War.  After the invasion nonsense was done he could go to Syria and take his WMDs back.  And perhaps get them into the hands of a terrorist for use against an American city.  To retaliate for the big headache George W. Bush gave him.  Of course his subsequent capture and execution put a wrench into all future plans he may have had.

Liberals play Fast and Loose with the Truth as Telling the Truth rarely helps the Liberal Agenda

President Obama made some promises about Obamacare during the Affordable Care Act debate.  Because the people were against it.  They didn’t want anything near quasi national health care.  So he kept saying that Obamacare wasn’t a government takeover of our health care system.  And that it would actually make the private health insurance industry better.  It would cover more.  While costing less.  And the best thing about the Affordable Care Act was this (see Obama’s pledge that ‘no one will take away’ your health plan by Glenn Kessler posted 10/30/2013 on The Washington Post).

“That means that no matter how we reform health care, we will keep this promise to the American people: If you like your doctor, you will be able to keep your doctor, period. If you like your health-care plan, you’ll be able to keep your health-care plan, period. No one will take it away, no matter what.”

The Fact Checker on The Washington Post gave this statement Four Pinocchios.  Their highest level of dishonesty.   Or ‘whoppers’.  As About The Fact Checker calls Four Pinocchios.  Basically saying the president lied about Obamacare to get the Affordable Care Act passed into law.  And lied again to win reelection.  For the election results may have been different if he had told the truth.  If he had said that some will lose their doctors and some will lose their health-care plan.  If he had said that premiums and deductibles would rise.  If he had would the people who had insurance and doctors they liked vote for him?  No.  Probably not. 

So President Obama and the Democrats told lies that deceived a great many people to get what he couldn’t get by telling the truth.  Obamacare.  One of the most divisive pieces of legislation ever passed in Congress.  Passed on purely partisan lines.  No Republicans voted for the Affordable Care Act.  Unlike the legislation that gave George W. Bush the authority to invade Iraq.  Which had bipartisan support.  With both Republicans and Democrats voting for it.  Yet the left said, “Bush lied people died.”  But when it comes to President Obama’s flagrant lies about the Affordable Care Act all you hear are crickets from the left.  Because for them the truth is whatever they say it is.  And a lie is whatever they say it is.  For the only way to pass their liberal agenda is to play fast and loose with the truth.  As telling the truth rarely helps the liberal agenda.

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Human Rights Violations are Worse in North Korea but Liberals would rather punish Syria for Theirs

Posted by PITHOCRATES - September 7th, 2013

Week in Review

The Syrian civil war began in March of 2011.  And is still ongoing.  Some two and a half years later.  And over 100,000 killed.  While displacing close to 3 million refugees.  It is a devastating conflict.  But President Obama made no attempt to help the opposition topple the Assad government.  Despite it being a close ally of Iran.  No, President Obama did nothing to intervene just as he chose to sit out Iran’s Green Revolution.  Another regime that can be pretty cruel to its people.  Yet President Obama told Hosni Mubarak that he had to leave Egypt.  And he used U.S. airpower to help topple Colonel Gaddafi from power in Libya.  Both men were U.S. allies at the time when President Obama helped unseat them from power.  Yet two countries that can’t be considered friends of the United States in any way (Iran and Syria) he does nothing.  Odd.

The Syrian civil war has been going on for so long that al Qaeda joined in.  Looking to fill that power vacuum should the Assad regime fall.  As the civil war intensified and the opposition begged for foreign aid President Obama stood firm.  Not wishing to get involved.  Unless the Syrians crossed the red line.  And used chemical weapons.  Well, someone used chemical weapons.  We’re not sure who did.  It may well have been the opposition to get the U.S. to bomb a stubborn Assad government out of power.  But people died from the use of chemical weapons.  Perhaps as many as 1,500.  Of which about 500 have been children.  A tragedy too great to even contemplate.  And one that made President Obama go to Congress to get permission to wage war on those responsible.  With many on the left supporting his call for a military response.  Which is highly unusual to say the least.

Now chemical weapons are horrible and frightening.  But an additional 1,500 dead after 100,000 already lost their lives?  Those chemical deaths are only about 1.5% of the total dead.  When Saddam Hussein killed 3,200-5,000 Kurds and Iranians in a Chemical attack on the town of Halabja there wasn’t quite the same response from the left.  In fact, when Saddam Hussein failed to document the destruction of his chemical stock piles per the treaty that ended the Gulf War they still showed little concern.  Though they did vote to give George W. Bush permission to wage war against Iraq as the polls showed they were on the wrong side of the issue when they at first opposed the measure.  Even calling for a second vote to get their vote on the record.  But when no weapons of mass destruction were found they were both embarrassed and elated.  Saying that Bush lied to get the country into war.  Due to flawed intelligence reports.  And a strong desire to go to war.  To finish what his dad started in the Gulf War.  They have attacked Bush mercilessly ever since.  But now the shoe is on the other foot.  And here they are wanting to go to war because of weapons of mass destruction.  Many of which could be from Iraq.  Delivered on trucks seen leaving Iraqi weapons dumps on the eve of war.  Or flown to Syria (see Syria’s Chemical Weapons Came From Saddam’s Iraq posted 7/19/2013 on IBD).

But none of that matters now.  What does is that someone in Syria crossed the red line.  And because innocent men, women and children died from poison gas we have to do something.  Even though we haven’t done a damn thing to help people suffering under worse tyrants for about half a century in North Korea (see Up to 20,000 North Korean prison camp inmates have ‘disappeared’ says human rights group by Julian Ryall posted 9/5/2013 on The Telegraph).

There are fears that up to 20,000 may have been allowed to die of disease or starvation in the run-up to the closure of the camp at the end of last year…

The report, North Korea’s Hidden Gulag: Interpreting Reports of Changes in the Prison Camps, reveals that two camps have been shut down in the last year but that 130,000 individuals are still being held in penal labour colonies across the country.

“Through this vast system of unlawful imprisonment, the North Korean regime isolates, banishes, punishes and executes those suspected of being disloyal to the regime,” the report states.

“They are deemed ‘wrong-thinkers’, ‘wrong-doers’, or those who have acquired ‘wrong-knowledge’ or have engaged in ‘wrong-associations’…”

Reports suggest that a severe food shortage meant that little was passed on to inmates and that numbers dwindled rapidly from 30,000 to 3,000…

“North Korea’s 2009 currency devaluation (whereby camp authorities were reportedly unable to purchase food in markets to supplement the crops grown in the camps), combined with bad harvests, resulted in the death of large numbers of prisoners after 2010,” the report states…

Inmates – who can be imprisoned for life, along with three generations of their families, for anything deemed to be critical of the regime – are forced to survive by eating frogs, rats and picking corn kernels out of animal waste.

Activists say that as many as 40 percent of inmates die of malnutrition, while others succumb to disease, sexual violence, torture, abuse by the guards or are worked to death. Men, women and children are required to work for up to 16 hours a day in dangerous conditions, often in mines or logging camps.

Things are bad in Syria.  But North Korea has just about the poorest record on humans rights in the world.  And this has been going on for decades.  You almost have to go back to Nazi Germany to see oppression on this scale.  But do we attack North Korea?  More women and children have suffered and died in North Korea than they have in Syria.  So why Syria and not North Korea?

North Korea does have nuclear weapons.  And a border with China.  Are these the things that eliminate principles?  Killing women and children is wrong in Syria but it’s okay in North Korea?  Is this all it takes to devalue the lives of women and children?  If so God help the women and children of the Middle East when Iran gets their nuclear weapons.

A lot of liberals hate the military.  And jocks.  As these people bullied a lot of liberals back in high school.  Which is why a lot of them go into government.  To have power over other people that they never had before.  But they’re still that kid in high school.  They’ll push around Egypt and Libya when it seems everyone in the area is against them.  Nations they feel they can bully without any repercussions.  But an Iran or a North Korea?  That’s like walking up to and punching the big bully in high school.  Something they were too frightened to do in High School.  And are still too frightened to do now.

Except in Syria.  Which is now more of a religious conflict along the great Sunni-Shia divide of Islam.  With the extreme elements of both sides fighting it out in Syria.  Perhaps this is why the president and the left are willing to intervene now.  Because whoever wins now in Syria will likely be anti-American.  Just like Libya turned out with four dead Americans in Benghazi.  And just like Egypt fell to the Muslim Brotherhood after President Obama told Hosni Mubarak he had to go.  Perhaps they’ll feel safer because they helped our enemies a little.  And because of that our enemies will now like us.  And they will stop giving us wedgies and noogies.  Figuratively, of course.

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The Enemy of my Enemy is my Friend in Egypt

Posted by PITHOCRATES - August 15th, 2013

Politics 101

The US supported Saddam Hussein because of the Iranian Revolution and the Iran Hostage Crisis

Remember Saddam Hussein?  He was the dictator of Iraq that the US toppled from power.  Because of intelligence reports that he had weapons of mass destruction (WMDs).  In particular chemical weapons.  And the reason this intelligence was so believable is that Hussein had used chemical weapons.  Against the Kurdish people in Halabja.  In southern Kurdistan.  An act of genocide.  And the greatest chemical attack against a civilian population.  As well as against the Iranians in the Iran-Iraq War (1980-1988).

One of the requirements of the armistice that ended the Gulf War (1990-1991) was for Hussein to destroy his chemical weapons stockpile.  And document that.  With UN inspectors.  Which never happened.  So technically a state of war still existed when George W. Bush launched the Iraq War (2003-2011).  Giving all the legal authorization he needed.  But he still went to the UN.  And asked the US Congress for permission to invade.  Which they gave.  And the US-led coalition went through the Iraqi defenses like a hot knife through butter.  But never found those WMDs.  Which was pretty unbelievable.  But there was something that was even more unbelievable.  Saddam Hussein, the brutal dictator the US toppled from power, used to be a US ally.

How can this be, you ask?  How could the US ally themselves with such a bad, bad man?  Because of Iran.  Iran used to be an ally of the US.  Then came the Iranian Revolution in 1979.  And the Iran hostage crisis (November 1979-January 1981).  This marked the time Iran began calling America the great Satan.  And began their war against the West.  Especially against the US.  Hostile rhetoric.  Some state-sponsored terrorism.  And leading the anti-American sentiment throughout the Muslim world.  So when Saddam Hussein invaded Iran the US threw in with him.  Because the enemy of my enemy is my friend.

The Muslim Brotherhood had a Problem with Anwar Sadat and Hosni Mubarak keeping the Peace with Israel

Now is this just petty?  Or good foreign policy?  The whole enemy of my enemy is my friend thing?  Well, it turns out that it is good foreign policy.  For the goal of foreign policy is to make things better for your country.  And in the case of Iran and Iraq the choice was clear.  To make things better for the US you allied with Iraq.  Because Iran was going full Islamist against the US.   So by helping Iraq wage war against Iran the less time and resources Iran had to further anti-American sentiment throughout the Muslim world.  And should Iraq win the war it would bring Iran’s oppressive theocracy to an end.  Making life better for the average Iranian.  Especially for Iranian women.

But the Iran-Iraq war ended in a stalemate.  After 8 years of bitter fighting.  But when the war was over nothing changed.  The border was right where it was before the war.  But it wasn’t all for nothing.  With the stalemate Iraq kept its Shia minority population from catching the Iranian bug.  Leaving the Sunni majority safely in the majority.  Something a lot of the Arab strongmen had in common.  Including Egypt under Gamal Abdel Nasser.  Who had chosen to align Egypt with the Soviet Union during the Cold War.  But when Nasser died and Anwar Sadat took over he switched sides in the Cold War.  Aligning Egypt with the United States.  Even signing a peace treaty with Israel.  Something the Shia minority population did not like in the least.

The U.S. poured money into Egypt.  And made the Egyptian military a force to be reckoned with.  Making Egypt the most modern Arab state.  The most powerful.  And the most secular/Western.  Women could go to college and wear Western clothes.  Like they could in Iran before the Iranian Revolution.  Something the Shia minority population did not like.  Nor their growing political party.  The Muslim Brotherhood.  Who really had a problem with Anwar Sadat making peace with Israel.  As did the Egyptian Islamic Jihad movement.  Who assassinated Sadat (1981).  As they wanted to replace the Egyptian government with an Islamic state.  Just like the Muslim Brotherhood wanted to do.  Which is why when Hosni Mubarak succeeded Sadat one of the things he did was to continue the ban on the Muslim Brotherhood.  And oppressed and jailed its members.

The Nations interested in World Peace favor the Egyptian Military over the Muslim Brotherhood

During the height of the Roman Empire there was great world peace.  The Pax Romana (27 BC to 180 AD).  Made possible by Rome’s massive military might.  During the height of the British Empire there was great world peace.  The Pax Britannica (1815–1914).  Made possible by Britain’s massive military might.  And their unchallenged sea power.  Which let them maintain a balance of power.  For any powerful nation that threatened the peace with thoughts of attacking a weaker neighbor could not attack that neighbor without taking on the mighty British Empire.  For to maintain the Pax Britannica the British would intervene on the behalf of the weaker power.  Allowing weaker nations to live next to more powerful nations without threat of invasion.

This is what a powerful military can give you.  Peace.  If that military power is controlled by a nation interested in keeping the peace.  Which is what the Egyptian military gave Hosni Mubarak.  Under his presidency there was peace in the Middle East.  The Suez Canal was open to world trade.  Egyptian tourism thrived.  Egypt was a modern and secular nation.  Women and Christians lived with the greatest liberty and safety during the Mubarak presidency.  Because Mubarak kept the peace.  Sometimes with brutality.  Especially when it came to the Muslim Brotherhood.  Which is why there was peace in the Middle East.  And women and Christians in Egypt enjoyed liberty and safety.  Because the people who wanted to take all of that away were prevented from doing just that.  But then came the Arab Spring.  And President Obama told Hosni Mubarak that he had to go.  Instead of working with him to implement reforms to ease the tensions in Egypt.

In Egypt there are basically two political forces.  The military.  Which kept peace with Israel.  And in the Middle East.  Then there’s the Muslim Brotherhood.  Who wants to remove Israel from the map.  And install a theocracy in Egypt like they have in Iran.  When Mubarak faced open rebellion he did not turn the military onto his people.  He stepped down from power.  And the Muslim Brotherhood rushed in to fill the political vacuum.  Assuring the world that they wouldn’t do pretty much everything they did.  And one of the last things the democratically-elected Mohamed Morsi did was to give himself dictatorial powers.  Just as bad if not worse than Mubarak exercised.  Only without the peace, liberty and prosperity enjoyed under Mubarak.  Democratically elected or not a Morsi presidency did not foster democracy.  Or peace.  Just as the Muslim Brotherhood does not foster democracy or peace.  Which leaves the other political power in Egypt.  The military.  Which is why Western nations and those nations interested in world peace favor the military over the Muslim Brotherhood.  While the enemies of the West (i.e., Iran) support the Brotherhood.  Because the enemy of my enemy is my friend.

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Obama’s ‘help’ may Lose the Middle East to Radical Islam

Posted by PITHOCRATES - March 25th, 2011

Libya no Worse than other Humanitarian Crises

Everyone is still asking that question.  Why Libya?  The Middle East and Africa are full of humanitarian crises.  Yet we’re not bombing them.  Is their suffering not as bad as the Libyan suffering?  Or are their people simply not worth saving?  People want to know.  Because people are suffering everywhere. 

[Syria]  Violence erupted around Syria on Friday as troops opened fire on protesters in several cities and pro- and anti-government crowds clashed on the tense streets of the capital in the most widespread unrest in years, witnesses said.  -By Associated Press, The Washington Post, 3/25/2011 

[Bahrain]  Clashes erupted in Shiite villages across Bahrain on Friday as antigovernment protesters defied a government ban on public gatherings, despite a beefed-up presence by the military and security forces.  -By Joe Parkinson, The Wall Street Journal, 3/25/2011 

[Ivory Coast]  Up to one million Ivorians have now fled fighting in the main city Abidjan alone, with others uprooted across the country, the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) said on Friday as violence escalated in a 4-month power struggle.  – Stephany Nebehay, Reuters, 3/25/2011 

[Yemen]  With hundreds of thousands of rival demonstrators on Sanaa’s streets, soldiers fired warning shots to prevent loyalists whipped up by Mr Saleh’s speech attacking anti-regime protesters on Friday, the Muslim day of prayers and rest… The rallies came one week after a bloodbath in which 52 protesters were gunned down by Saleh loyalists, drawing widespread international condemnation and a spate of defections from within his ruling circle.  -By AFP, ABC News, 3/25/2011 

And there’s more.  Iran.  North Korea.  And others.  It’s everywhere.  Suffering.  But you know why we’re not helping any of these nations?  Because it’s too much for anyone to do.  Suffering is bad but it is NOT the United States’ duty to end it all.  And yet we’re trying to do just that in Libya.  Was the Qaddafi regime a great threat to American security interests?  No.  He’s been pretty quiet since the Iraq War.  He seemed content to oppress his people and leave others alone.  Perhaps the others noted above were even less dangerous than Qaddafi.  Perhaps in comparison they’re just docile pussy cats.

If any Nation Deserves Regime Change it’s Syria

Let’s look at Syria.  They make no secret of the fact that they don’t like America.  Or Israel.  They are behind a lot of unrest in the Middle East.  They want to see the whole region under Sharia Law.  And be less friendly with the West.  As bad as Qaddafi was, he did sell a lot of his oil to the West.  So that would make Syria more of a national security concern than Libya.  But we’re not bombing Syria.  Perhaps the Syrian violence just isn’t that bad (see Resident says troops open fire on protesters in Daraa, other Syrian cities by Associated Press posted 3/25/2011 on The Washington Post).

The violence erupted after tens of thousands of Syrians took to the streets across the country, shouting calls for greater freedoms in support of a more than week-long uprising in Daraa, according to witnesses, activists and footage posted online…

An activist in Damascus in touch with eyewitnesses in the southern village of Sanamein said troops there opened fire on demonstrators trying to march to Daraa, a short distance away. He said there had been witness reports of fatalities, some claiming as many as 20 slain, but those could not be independently confirmed…

About 200 people demonstrated after the Friday prayers at the Thawra Bridge, near the central Marjeh Square, chanting “our souls, our blood we sacrifice for you Daraa!” and “freedom! freedom!” They were chased by security forces who beat them some of them with batons and detained others, an activist said on condition of anonymity for fear of government reprisals.

No.  That isn’t it.  That’s some pretty bad violence.  That’s Qaddafi bad.  Killing your own people.  And it is far worse than what Mubarak was doing in Egypt.  He didn’t turn the army against his people.  And yet Obama said he had to go. But we’re not attacking Syria.  With bombs.  Or words.  Perhaps Syria is a strategic force for stability in the Middle East.  Like how Iraq balanced Iran once upon a time.  We supported Iraq then.  Because Iraq balanced the greater risk in Iran.  Like that old saying.  The enemy of my enemy is my friend.  So maybe Syria offsets the ‘big bad’ in the Middle East.

Assad, a close ally of Iran and its regional proxies, Hezbollah and Hamas, has promised increased freedoms for discontented citizens and increased pay and benefits for state workers — a familiar package of incentives offered by other nervous Arab regimes in recent weeks.

No.  That ain’t it either.  Syria is cozy with all the ‘big bads’ in the Middle East.  The powers that want to kill Jews, Americans and all other infidels.  But wait.  It gets worse.

Shaaban, the presidential adviser, also said the Baath party would study ending a state of emergency that it put in place after taking power in 1963.

The emergency laws, which have been a feature of many Arab countries, allow people to be arrested without warrants and imprisoned without trial. Human rights groups say violations of other basic liberties are rife in Syria, with torture and abuse common in police stations, detention centers and prisons, and dissenters regularly imprisoned for years without due process.

The Baath party?  Sound familiar?  That was the party of Saddam Hussein.  Emergency laws since 1963?  Arrests without warrants?  Imprisoned without trial?  Torture and abuse?  No due process?  This is bad stuff.  What some would call a humanitarian crisis.  Like the one in Libya.  But as bad as that all sounds, it’s the Iraq connection that is most troubling.

Before the Iraq War, Iraq and Syria were close.  So close that many think those weapons of mass destruction we were looking for in Iraq were hidden in Syria during the run-up to war.  We know Saddam had them.  He used them on the Iranians.  And the Kurds.  But he never documented their destruction.  So if he hid them in Syria they may still be there.  They may have been hesitant to use them thus far because we could probably trace them back to them.  Especially if they had Iraqi markings on them.  But if all these ‘democracy’ movements in the Middle East and North Africa gather steam, they could become a problem.  If the region goes Muslim Brotherhood and is closer to Iran and/or al Qaeda, Syria won’t be the only country to see the world the way they do.  And they may feel safe enough to use these weapons.  Should they have them.  Oh, and Israel would be surrounded by countries that have the destruction of Israel at the top of their top-10 list.  And that is very bad.  Because that could start a world war.  Shut off the oil supply to the Western economies.  And plunge the world into a depression.

The Muslim Brotherhood Establishing an Islamic State in Egypt?

So let’s back up a bit.  Let’s take a closer look at these ‘democracy’ movements.  Are they really democracy movements?  Or are they more theocracy movements?  Well, in Egypt, things aren’t looking good for democracy (see Islamist Group Is Rising Force in a New Egypt by Michael Slackman posted 3/24/2011 on The New York Times).

In post-revolutionary Egypt, where hope and confusion collide in the daily struggle to build a new nation, religion has emerged as a powerful political force, following an uprising that was based on secular ideals. The Muslim Brotherhood, an Islamist group once banned by the state, is at the forefront, transformed into a tacit partner with the military government that many fear will thwart fundamental changes.

It is also clear that the young, educated secular activists who initially propelled the nonideological revolution are no longer the driving political force — at least not at the moment.

Sound familiar?  This is what happened in Iran.  The young people who started the revolution didn’t end the revolution.  Ayatollah Khomeini ended it.  With one of the most oppressive theocracies in the Middle East.  And those young women in the Iranian Revolution?  They don’t protest anymore.  They live good Muslim lives under Sharia Law.  Whether they like it or not.

“There is evidence the Brotherhood struck some kind of a deal with the military early on,” said Elijah Zarwan, a senior analyst with the International Crisis Group…

 “We are all worried,” said Amr Koura, 55, a television producer, reflecting the opinions of the secular minority. “The young people have no control of the revolution anymore. It was evident in the last few weeks when you saw a lot of bearded people taking charge. The youth are gone…”

When the new prime minister, Essam Sharaf, addressed the crowd in Tahrir Square this month, Mohamed el-Beltagi, a prominent Brotherhood member, stood by his side. A Brotherhood member was also appointed to the committee that drafted amendments to the Constitution.

The big question was would Mubarak turn the army on the people.  Or, should he, if the army would follow that order.  You see, the people respected the army.  Most had family that had or were serving in the army.  The army was good.  It was the security forces the people hated.  Not the army.  It was the army the people thought they could trust.  And now we’re hearing that they struck a deal with the Muslim Brotherhood?  That’s very ominous.  As are the beards.  That’s hardcore, conservative Islam.  Like they have in Iran.  And that sure ain’t what the protestors wanted in Egypt.  I mean, there were women in those crowds.  If Egypt goes the way of the bearded men, these women will never protest anything ever again.  Just like in Iran.

And the lying has begun.  Egypt was a secular country.  But they still had their religion.  It was still a Muslim country.  Like Turkey.  There’s the state.  And the religion.  Both very important parts of life in these countries.  But separate parts.  Now it appears secular means state atheism.  Like in the former Soviet Union.  Or in parts of America where anything goes.  According to the more radical elements in Egypt, at least.

“The problem is that our country will be without a religion,” read a flier distributed in Cairo by a group calling itself the Egyptian Revolution Society. “This means that the call to the prayer will not be heard anymore like in the case of Switzerland, women will be banned from wearing the hijab like in the case of France,” it said, referring to the Muslim head scarf. “And there will be laws that allow men to get married to men and women to get married to women like in the case of America.”

Talk about scare tactics.  If you don’t vote for a more conservative Islam there will be no Islam.  People will be free.  Women will be free.  And gay, I guess.  All horrible thoughts to the conservative Muslim.  And a lot of Muslim men who are just not fans of feminism.

This is not to say that the Brotherhood is intent on establishing an Islamic state…

None of that has changed, Mr. Erian, the spokesman, said in an interview. “We are keen to spread our ideas and our values,” he said. “We are not keen for power.”

He would not comment on whether the Brotherhood had an arrangement with the military, but he said the will of the people to shift toward Islam spoke for itself and was a sign of Egypt’s emerging democratic values. “Don’t trust the intellectuals, liberals and secularists,” Mr. Erian said. “They are a minor group crying all the time. If they don’t work hard, they have no future.”

Warning Klaxons should be going off.  These are things that dictators say before they oppress their people.  Why, you can almost see the reassuring eyes and the soothing voice of Ayatollah Khomeini as he calmed the anxious Iranian people shortly after 1979.  Before those eyes became scary.  And we all saw how that turned out.  Oppressive theocratic rule.  And the odds just got better for the same in Egypt.

Virginity Tests in Egypt

And it’s already started (see Egypt women protesters forced to take ‘virginity tests’ posted 3/24/2011 on the BBC).

A leading rights group says the Egyptian army arrested, tortured and forced women to take “virginity tests” during protests earlier this month.

Amnesty International is calling on the authorities in Cairo to investigate.

It says at least 18 female protesters were arrested after army officers cleared Tahrir Square on 9 March.

It says they were then beaten, given electric shocks and strip searched.

The army denies the allegations.

This isn’t what the women in the crowds were protesting for.  And the reason these women were protesting?  Because they could.  Egypt was one of the most progressive countries in the Middle East.  Women had some of the greatest freedoms enjoyed in a Muslim country.  Not anymore.

A 20-year-old woman, Salwa Hosseini, told Amnesty she was forced to take off all her clothes by a female prison guard in a room with open doors and a window.

She said that male soldiers looked in and took photographs of her while she was naked.

The demonstrator said a man in a white coat later carried out a ‘virginity check’ on her and she was threatened with prostitution charges.

“Forcing women to have ‘virginity tests’ is utterly unacceptable. Its purpose is to degrade women because they are women,” a spokesperson for Amnesty International said in a statement.

Mubarak may have been bad.  But he wasn’t that bad.  The painful moral of this story is to be careful what you ask for.  The enemy you know is often better than the enemy you don’t know.  Unfortunately we sometimes learn this lesson too late.  Including presidents.  For it was a mistake to throw Mubarak under the bus.  Middle East scholars knew it then.  And the rest of us are learning it now.  And now we’re helping to destabilize Libya.  That, too, could turn out to be a mistake.  Because we don’t know who the rebels are.  Just like we didn’t know who they were in Egypt.  So the chances are good that what happens in Egypt could very well happen in Libya.  A “shift towards Islam.”

Of course, there are a couple of countries in the Middle East that probably warrant our involvement.  Two come to mind.  Iran.  And Syria.  Things could only get better in these countries.  Yet we don’t help the protesters in these sovereign countries.  So when President Obama finally tells us why Libya, perhaps he can tell us why not in countries that already hate us.  And while he’s explaining these great mysteries perhaps he can tell us why he’s undermining our allies in the Middle East.  Is there a method to this madness?  Or is it just madness?

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Obama Going all George W. Bush in the Middle East?

Posted by PITHOCRATES - March 19th, 2011

Fighting Wars on the other Side of the World

In 1775, the shooting in the American Revolutionary War began.  The world’s superpower, the British Empire, had planned on taking some arms away from local rebels.  Some shots were exchanged at Lexington and Concord.  And the small British force retreated to Boston.  The rebels harassed the British column the entire way.  The war did not begin well for the British.  And it would end like it began.  Not well.  The British formally recognized the United States of America 8 years later with the signing of the Treaty of Paris in 1783.

The British outclassed the Americans in every way but one.  Lines of communications.  The British lines were some 3,000 miles back to Great Britain.  About a 6 hour flight today.  Then, a couple of months by ship.  By contrast the Americans held the advantage of short, interior lines.  We could ‘hit and run’ and melt back into the surrounding country.  Like we did in 1775 during that British retreat.  As we did throughout the war.  Though General Washington wanted to defeat the British in a decisive battle, he would not get the chance to meet the British in such a battle until 6 long years later at Yorktown.  Unable to win a decisive battle, he did the only thing he could.  Not lose a decisive battle.  The American Revolutionary War was a war of attrition.  The British sued for peace when the cost of continuing the war was greater than the British people were willing to pay.  As wars are wont to be with such long lines of communications.

Military planners have learned this lesson.  You are probably familiar with a more recent war that was similar.  Where a world superpower was involved in a war of attrition half way across the world.  In South Vietnam.  The Americans came into the conflict to support South Vietnam from Communist North Vietnam.  There is no South Vietnam today.  Like the British some 200 years earlier, we won the military engagements but just couldn’t win the war.  When the cost in blood and treasure became too great, we met in Paris, too, to end the war.  We signed the Paris Peace Accords in 1973.  And we learned the British lesson of 1783.

Winning the War is Easier than Winning the Peace

When Saddam Hussein invaded Kuwait, George H. W. Bush assembled an international coalition and threw the Iraqis out of Kuwait.  Operation Desert Storm was an overwhelming victory.  However, Bush was heavily criticized for ‘not finishing the job’ in the Gulf War.  His critics said we should have gone on to Baghdad to remove Hussein from power.  We didn’t.  For a couple of good reasons.  First of all, the coalition included Arab nations.  They only joined to repel Hussein from Kuwait.  Not to remove him from power.  The other reason was that if we toppled Hussein we would own Iraq.  And we would probably end up there for years trying to ‘win the peace’.

Following the Gulf War there were uprisings throughout Iraq.  The world watched hopeful that he would be overthrown by his own people and democracy would break out.  It didn’t.  He suppressed the rebellions brutally.  So brutally that no-fly zones were established in the north over the Kurds and in the south over the Shiite population.  But we didn’t invade.  And he remained a thorn in our side.  And his people suffered.

After 9/11, the US invaded Afghanistan.  Then Iraq.  The official reason was his weapons of mass destruction that he never documented destroyed.  He had used chemical weapons against the Iranians.  And the Kurds.  Being a ‘supporter’ of terrorism there was worry he might provide these weapons to a terrorist.  So there was that reason.  The other reason was a little more convoluted.  Osama bin Laden was a Wahhabi Sunni.  He had ties in Saudi Arabia.  And there was a large Wahhabi population in Saudi Arabia providing funding to al Qaeda.  The Saudis were reluctant to shut down this funding for fear of a rebellion by the Wahhabis against the House of Saud.  But there was one thing that worried them more than the Wahhabis.  Shiite Iran.  By invading Iraq we forced their hand.  They had a vested interest in seeing us succeed in Iraq.  And in our war against al Qaeda.  We made progress against al Qaeda and their Taliban hosts in Afghanistan.  And the Saudi started to shut down their funding.  The Iraq War was a success.  But the one drawback was that we now owned Iraq.  And winning the peace was nowhere as easy as winning the war.  As George W. Bush learned.

Obama Commits Military Force in Libya

The US has some very important friends in the Middle East and North Africa.  Among these are Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Bahrain.  To name a few.  These are nations with Sunni populations and/or Sunni governments unfriendly to Iran.  Egypt made peace with Israel and kept the Suez Canal open for international trade for decades.  Saudi Arabia peacefully coexists with its neighbors and is the largest oil exporter in the world.  Except for the oil embargo of 1973, they have maintained the flow of that oil at market prices to Western economies.  The US Navy’s 5th Fleet is headquartered in Bahrain.

These nations aren’t perfect.  Saudi women can’t drive a car, for example.  But they’re stalwart US allies.  One of these nations was pretty progressive as well as being a staunch US friend.  Egypt.  Egyptian women were about the freest in the Middle East, second only to Tunisia.  Egypt and Tunisia, though, were suffering economically.  Had high unemployment.  And a Muslim opposition unhappy with their ‘Western’ ways.  The largest organized opposition group is the Muslim Brotherhood.  And they can be best described as being more simpatico with Iran.  When Egypt had their uprising, the Obama administration called it a democracy uprising and called for Hosni Mubarak to give up power.  Without considering who would step into that power void.  Which did not go over well with Mubarak.  Or the Saudis.

Now Libya is burning.  Qaddafi is attacking his own people.  The US dithered for weeks.  While the Libyans cried for help.  Even other Arab nations cried for our help.  But we did nothing.  Even though Qaddafi is not a US friend.  And was a sponsor of terrorism.  As the carnage mounted, though, someone took action.  The French of all people (see U.S. Missiles Strike Libyan Air-Defense Targets by David Kirkpatrick, Steven Erlanger and Elisabeth Bumiller posted 3/19/2011 The New York Times).

American and European forces began a broad campaign of strikes against the government of Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi on Saturday, unleashing warplanes and missiles in a military intervention on a scale not seen in the Arab world since the Iraq war…

The campaign began with French warplane missions even before the end of an emergency summit meeting in Paris, where leaders, reacting to news that Colonel Qaddafi’s forces were attacking the rebel capital city of Benghazi on Saturday morning despite international demands for a cease-fire, said they had no choice but to act to defend Libyan civilians and opposition forces.

France has a Muslim problem.  They had some riots a few years back in some Paris Muslim suburbs.  Where young Muslims were unemployed.  Unhappy.  And not all that willing to assimilate into French culture.  Though they want to live in France.  So there’s been tensions between the French and their Muslim population.  So it says a lot that France was on point in this attack on a Muslim country.  Yes, at this time the international community, including some Arab states, approve of this action.  But you play with fire whenever you attack a Muslim country.  Especially if they have oil.  And Libya has oil.  In fact, it’s some of the finest oil in the Middle East.  A low-sulfur sweet crude.

When the international community was coming together against him, Qaddafi was defiant.  Warned us to stay out of their internal affairs.

“Libya is not yours. Libya is for all Libyans,” he wrote in one letter, read to the news media by a spokesman. “This is injustice, it is clear aggression, and it is uncalculated risk for its consequences on the Mediterranean and Europe.

“You will regret it if you take a step toward intervening in our internal affairs.”

Colonel Qaddafi addressed President Obama as “our son,” in a letter jarring for its familiarity. “I have said to you before that even if Libya and the United States enter into war, God forbid, you will always remain my son and I have all the love for you as a son, and I do not want your image to change with me,” he wrote. “We are confronting Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, nothing more. What would you do if you found them controlling American cities with the power of weapons? Tell me how would you behave so that I could follow your example?”

Could this be why the Obama administration was so reluctant to act?  Because of a father-son relationship between Obama and Qaddafi?  You gotta admit this is a strange thing for Qaddafi to say.  Makes you wonder just what was the extent of Obama’s apology tour in the Middle East.  One thing for sure, it will give fuel to those who think Obama is a Muslim.  I mean, it just doesn’t help when the bad guy calls you a son.

Regret?  We should take that threat seriously.  After some military encounters with Libyan losses in the Gulf of Sidra Qaddafi retaliated with the bombing of a German disco frequented by US troops.  When we discovered his connection to that bombing we bombed Tripoli.  In retaliation for that bombing he had a bomb smuggled aboard a 747.  Pan Am Flight 103.  Brought down on Lockerbie, Scotland.  So he has a history of getting even.  Which we need to be on guard for.

Obama now Owns Libya

So it’s war.  Missiles are flying.  People are dying (see Libya: British forces launch missile attacks on Gaddafi by Colin Freeman, in Benghazi and Sean Rayment posted 3/20/2011 on the UK’s Telegraph).

Explosions were reported at an airport east of Tripoli as a British Trafalgar Class submarine and US Navy ships and submarines stationed off Libya fired 110 Tomahawk missiles at 20 targets in what one source described as a “night of carnage”.

The missiles targeted Libyan command and control centres, radar installations and surface-to-air missile sites. Libyan officials said the attacks were “barbaric” and causing civilian casualties…

British sources and Pentagon officials said Nato would undertake a “battle damage assessment” of Libya’s military during daylight hours and would decide whether to continue with further attacks.

Sources at the Elysée Palace said Britain, France and the United States had assumed the “leadership” of the coalition in early talks between the Prime Minister, Mr Sarkozy and Hillary Clinton, the US Secretary of State. The “extremely purposeful conclusion” of the early talks was endorsed by the full meeting, where speakers included Ban Ki-Moon, the United Nations secretary general.

Well, President Obama has his third war.  Pretty impressive for a guy that said he would get us out of Iraq (he didn’t).  That he would fully prosecute the Afghanistan War to victory (he hasn’t).  And he wouldn’t nation-build like his predecessor.  George W. Bush.  He now may.  There’s no way Qaddafi can withstand the military force now aligned against him.  So he will lose.  But what then?  Who will fill that power vacuum?  In an already unstable and changing Middle East?  He can say what he wants about Iraq and Afghanistan, but it’s different with Libya.  This happened on his watch.  And he now owns it.  It will be up to him to win the peace.  Or lose it.

Those naval operations against Libya will be based out of Bahrain.  I sure hope he doesn’t encourage any more ‘democracy’ uprisings while we’re using that base for combat operations.  It would be a shame to lose that base during the middle of these operations.  And by a shame I mean a complete and utter disaster.  Because that would greatly extend our lines of communications.  And history has shown what that can do in war.

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America’s War with Iran in Iraq

Posted by PITHOCRATES - October 25th, 2010

Apology Tour Diplomacy to Get Ahmadinejad to Like Us

Most everyone was for going to war in Iraq.  They, Republican and Democrat alike, read the same intelligence.  Saddam Hussein was a bad man.  He had some nasty weapons he didn’t document destroyed.  He expelled UN inspectors.  He was brutally suppressing the Kurds.  Torturing and killing dissidents.  And, of course, he had a record of using chemical weapons against the Iranians and the Kurds. 

So there was pretty much a united front at the beginning.  But elections come every 2 years.  The Democrats would eventually have to get their hate on.  And, boy, did they.  They all started to dump on the Iraq War.  Never mind that it got Saudi Arabia to crack down on Wahhabi funding of Al Qaeda.  Bush lied.  People died.  Iraq was nothing more than a breeding ground for Al Qaeda.  It created anti-American sentiment.  And plunged Iraq into a civil war.  The Bush administration pointed to the foreign influence.  Especially that of Iran.  But the Left said that the liar George W. Bush just wanted to expand the war into Iran.

We were just bullies.  That’s why the world hated us.  Well, one presidential candidate said he would change that.  He would talk to the people that hated us.  He would meet Iranian president Ahmadinejad.  Without preconditions.  To say, hey, you’re okay.  We’re okay.  What do you say?  Friends?  This candidate would go on to win the election.  He became president.  And President Obama went on a world wind apology tour.  He denigrated the United States.  Bowed to Muslim royalty.  And praised Islam.  And how did all that work?

Ahmadinejad Making Iran the New Evil Empire?

Not good.  For Iran was fueling the Iraqi insurgency.  And Ahmadinejad rebuffed the love of the Obama administration and kept killing Americans.  That fact is made very clear in another dump of classified documents by WikiLeaks.  The New York Times reviewed those documents and Michael R. Gordon and Andrew W. Lehren wrote on 10/22/2010 (see Leaked Reports Detail Iran’s Aid for Iraqi Militias):

Citing the testimony of detainees, a captured militant’s diary and numerous uncovered weapons caches, among other intelligence, the field reports recount Iran’s role in providing Iraqi militia fighters with rockets, magnetic bombs that can be attached to the underside of cars, “explosively formed penetrators,” or E.F.P.’s, which are the most lethal type of roadside bomb in Iraq, and other weapons. Those include powerful .50-caliber rifles and the Misagh-1, an Iranian replica of a portable Chinese surface-to-air missile, which, according to the reports, was fired at American helicopters and downed one in east Baghdad in July 2007.

Iraqi militants went to Iran to be trained as snipers and in the use of explosives, the field reports assert, and Iran’s Quds Force collaborated with Iraqi extremists to encourage the assassination of Iraqi officials.

The reports make it clear that the lethal contest between Iranian-backed militias and American forces continued after President Obama sought to open a diplomatic dialogue with Iran’s leaders and reaffirmed the agreement between the United States and Iraq to withdraw American troops from Iraq by the end of 2011.

Improvised explosive devices (IEDs) have killed or maimed most American troops.  And most of those devices were no doubt the result of Iranian material and/or training.  But why would they help their archenemy?  They hate Saddam.  They hate Iraq.  They fought a bloody 8-year war with Iraq.  So why would they help the Iraqis fight the Americans?

The political struggle between the United States and Iran to influence events in Iraq still continues as Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki has sought to assemble a coalition — that would include the anti-American cleric Moktada al-Sadr — that will allow him to remain in power. But much of the American’s military concern has revolved around Iran’s role in arming and assisting Shiite militias.

Shiite Iran is helping the Shiite militias in Sunni Iraq.  Unable to beat Iraq in war, they’re now trying it through subterfuge.  But it doesn’t end there.

Established by Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini after the 1979 Iranian revolution, the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps has expanded its influence at home under President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, a former member of the corps, and it plays an important role in Iran’s economy, politics and internal security. The corps’s Quds Force, under the command of Brig. Gen. Qassem Soleimani, has responsibility for foreign operations and has often sought to work though surrogates, like Hezbollah.

And where has Ahmadinejad been lately?  Lebanon.  And what does he want to do?  Incinerate Israel.  And what are they bringing on line?  Nuclear reactors.  They’re destabilizing Iraq.  Destabilizing the Middle East.  Allied with Hezbollah.  Helping them with their fight against Israel.  Ahmadinejad is pushing a lot of nations towards war.  You know, he’s a lot like Osama bin Laden.  Only more dangerous.  The new Evil Empire?  Well, they are on the axis of evil.  They’ve been killing Americans.  Evil, yes.  And yet our president is trying to make nice with him.

Mr. Gorbachev, Tear Down this Wall

Ronald Reagan recognized an enemy.  He stood up to them, the Evil Empire.  Didn’t apologize.  Didn’t make nice.  He talked with them but with preconditions.  He didn’t practice Carter’s detente.  Gorbachev was a nice guy.  But the Berlin Wall still stood.  It isn’t standing any more.  Because Reagan won the Cold War.

We don’t need a man like Jimmy Carter in the face of such an implacable enemy.  We need another Ronald Reagan.  But we have Barack Obama.  Who’s a lot more Jimmy Carter than Ronald Reagan.  And we all know how well things turned out for Jimmy Carter in Iran.

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FUNDAMENTAL TRUTH #31: “Islam and guns are a lot alike. And yet when something bad happens, we try to ban one and forgive the other.” -Old Pithy

Posted by PITHOCRATES - September 14th, 2010

INSTRUMENTS OF PEACE

Yes, people with guns do kill people.  And, yes, extreme Islamic fundamentalist fanatics do kill people.  But guns keep the peace.  As does less fanatical Islam.

Societies have formed militias (armed with guns) to protect themselves from aggressors who did not wish to cohabitate in peace.   Thomas Jefferson used guns to stop the piracy along the Barbary Coast.  The Allies used guns to stop Adolf Hitler.  The NATO nations used guns to balance the Soviet threat in Eastern Europe.  An American led coalition used guns to first prevent Saddam Hussein from invading Saudi Arabia.  They then used guns to force him out of Kuwait.

Islam, and religion in general, provides a code of morality.  Religion can unite an otherwise diverse people.  It is this common faith that lets a diverse people to live together in peace and harmony.

GUNS DON’T KILL; PEOPLE DO

Guns don’t kill people.  And it’s not the bullets, either.  You can place a loaded handgun on a table with the safety off and it won’t do anything.  You can call it a name, sleep with its wife or impregnate its daughter (figuratively, of course) and it will just lay there.  For that gun to do something, a person has to pick it up.  Place their finger on the trigger.  Aim.  And shoot.  Until a person does, a gun will never harm a soul.

ISLAM DOESN’T KILL; PEOPLE DO

You can read about Islam in a book.  You can put that book on a table and it won’t do anything.  You can insult it, profane it and denounce it and it will just lay there.  For this religion to do something, someone has to read the book.  If they cannot read, a person who has read the book has to explain it to the illiterate one.  And then act.  Only when a person makes a conscious choice to commit some action can a religion harm anyone.  And if these people choose peace there will be peace.  If they choose violence there will be violence. 

ZYKLON B DOESN’T KILL; PEOPLE DO

The Nazis used to shoot undesirables (Jews, gypsies, Slavs, etc.).  They’d make a mother hold a child so one bullet could kill two.  But as the killing increased, bullets just proved to be inefficient.  And costly.  So they developed the extermination camps.  The death chamber.  And Zyklon B.  This poison could be stored and handled safely.  When it was time, a person would open a canister and pour the chemical into the gas chamber.  If left undisturbed in the canisters, Zyklon B never would have harmed a soul.  It only killed when a person placed it in into an environment where it could.

WEAPONS OF MASS DESTRUCTION DON’T KILL; PEOPLE DO

The Kurds are a lot like the Palestinians, only without Jewish neighbors.  After the breakup of the Ottoman Empire, everyone in Mesopotamia got a nation-state except the Kurds.  With the new national borders, the nomadic Kurds could no longer move freely through the lands they once did.   And, well, this caused problems.  Conflicts.  And bitter feelings.  The Kurds supported the Iranians in the Iran-Iraq war.  Saddam Hussein was not amused.  The Iraqis had stockpiles of chemical weapons.  Hussein decided to use them.  On the Kurdish town of Halabja.  He killed some 5,000 Kurds.  Injured about 10,000 more.  Mostly civilians.  If these weapons were not loaded on aircraft, then flown over and dropped on Halabja, they would not have harmed a soul.  But when orders were given, and carried out, by people, they did.

PEOPLE DON’T KILL; IDEOLOGY DOES

Yeah, so it’s pretty clear that guns, religion and chemicals are pretty benign when left alone.  Unless a person gets involved, these things just won’t hurt anyone.  It’s the people.  They’re the problem.

There are a lot of gun owners in the United States.  Few use their guns to hurt others, though.  And Muslims tell us their religion is a religion of peace.  Only a small minority perverts it to harm others.  And there’re many national leaders.  Few have committed chemical genocide.  So it’s not all people.  Just some.  That are the problem.

So what, then, makes some people do these things while others do not?  Ideology.  Some people are passionate about their ideology.  And some are so passionate that they do not permit an alternative ideology.  This is when things get dangerous.  Because they kill for their ideology.

WE KEEP GUNS OFF OF AIRPLANES AND LOOK WHAT HAPPENED

The Left wants to take away our guns.  They point to gun violence and say, “See?”  But law-abiding gun owners don’t commit these crimes.  Criminals commit these crimes.  Using guns obtained on the black market.  And denying law-abiding citizens from owning guns won’t shut down the black market.  Just as illegalizing drugs hasn’t made drugs unavailable.  Make something illegal and a thriving black market will develop.  Which will be lucrative for criminals.  So much so that they will use extreme violence to maintain their market share.

Let’s imagine a fictional world where we ban all guns.  Would it be a better, more peaceful world?

On September 11, 2001, Islamic fundamentalists armed with box cutters hijacked 4 commercial jetliners.  Two of these planes crashed into the Twin Towers.  One crashed into the Pentagon.  The passengers on one plane fought back with what weapons they could find.  The plane crashed.  They died.  But they prevented the terrorists from successfully completing their mission.

Since 9/11, some people carry guns on airplanes.  You know why?  Because a gun can stop a passionate ideologue with a box cutter.

DON’T IMPOSE YOUR VALUES ON ME

Ideology is far more dangerous than guns.  And yet, when something bad happens with a gun the Left wants to enact another level of gun control.  But when a militant Islamic fundamentalist kills Americans, the Left cautions us not to rush to judgment.  Because we may anger the Muslim world.  Who appear only to get angrier however we may try to appease them.  And yet we continue to try.  Even if it compromises our national security.  There comes a point where you have to ask yourself, why?  Why do we adhere to a lose-lose policy?

They don’t like us.  They never will like us.  Trying to make them like us only portrays us as weak.  Which makes them feel more contempt for us.  And emboldens them.  For they respect strength.  And only strength.  Which is something the Left does not understand.  Nor will they ever.  For they think that if you just apologize enough people will like you.

Of course, the Left has no compunction about attacking Christianity.  They have no problem with pornographic films with priests and nuns.  A movie where Jesus Christ has an affair with Mary Magdalene.  Or placing a crucifix in a jar of urine and calling it art.  But they would never, ever, show such disrespect to Islam.  Why?

The Left does not like the Christian Right imposing their values on them.  So they attack Christianity.  And support Islam.  In the name of religious freedom.  Christianity must accommodate Islam.  And we must forgive every transgression of Islam.  Anyone who disagrees is a right-wing extremist.  Intolerant.  And un-American.  The Left couldn’t ask for a better group of people to exploit.

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LESSONS LEARNED #25: “War is costly. Peace, too.” -Old Pithy

Posted by PITHOCRATES - August 5th, 2010

AT THE HEIGHT of the Roman Empire, the empire reached from North Africa to Britannia (England), from Hispania (Spain) to Mesopotamia (approximately modern day Iraq).  When Roman power ruled the civilized world, there was peace.  The Pax Romana (Roman Peace).  The Romans built empire through conquest.  And Rome grew rich with the spoils of conquest.  For awhile, peace was only those quiet intervals between growth and conquest.  But with secure borders, a uniform government, a rule of law, a stable currency, bustling trade & markets and a military to be the world’s policeman, peace broke out.  For some 200 years.

Life was good for the Roman citizen.  As well as for those living in the empire.  The Romans modernized the provinces they conquered.  Made life better.  Even for the conquered people.  Although there were those who hated being subjugated by a foreign power.

Reg: They bled us white, the bastards. They’ve taken everything we had. And not just from us! From our fathers, and from our father’s fathers.

Loretta: And from our father’s father’s fathers.

Reg: Yeah.

Loretta: And from our father’s father’s father’s fathers.

Reg: Yeah, all right Stan, don’t belabor the point. And what have they ever given us in return?

Revolutionary I: The aqueduct?

Reg: What?

Revolutionary I: The aqueduct.

Reg: Oh. Yeah, yeah, they did give us that, ah, that’s true, yeah.

Revolutionary II: And the sanitation.

Loretta: Oh, yeah, the sanitation, Reg. Remember what the city used to be like.

Reg: Yeah, all right, I’ll grant you the aqueduct and sanitation, the two things the Romans have done.

Matthias: And the roads.

Reg: Oh, yeah, obviously the roads. I mean the roads go without saying, don’t they? But apart from the sanitation, the aqueduct, and the roads…

Revolutionary III: Irrigation.

Revolutionary I: Medicine.

Revolutionary IV: Education.

Reg: Yeah, yeah, all right, fair enough.

Revolutionary V: And the wine.

All revolutionaries except Reg: Oh, yeah! Right!

Rogers: Yeah! Yeah, that’s something we’d really miss Reg, if the Romans left. Huh.

Revolutionary VI: Public bathes.

Loretta: And it’s safe to walk in the streets at night now, Reg.

Rogers: Yeah, they certainly know how to keep order. Let’s face it; they’re the only ones who could in a place like this.

All revolutionaries except Reg: Hahaha…all right…

Reg: All right, but apart from the sanitation, the medicine, education, wine, public order, irrigation, roads, the fresh-water system and public health, what have the Romans ever done for us?

Revolutionary I: Brought peace?

Reg: Oh, peace! Shut up!

(From Monty Python’s The Life of Brian, 1979.)

Maintaining a peaceful empire is costly.  As people got more accustomed to peace and plenty, they began to complain about taxes.  Citizens refused to volunteer to serve in the Roman Legions maintaining that peace.  Barbarians began to serve in the Legions.  Some rose to command them.  Some Roman commanders came from the very people they were fighting in the border regions.  Soon Rome would rely on mercenaries (hired soldiers) to defend their borders.  All of this cost the empire.  It had to pay more and more to maintain the loyalty of the military.  Ditto for the huge bureaucracy administrating the empire.  And they lost control.  Trouble on the borders and economic collapse ended the peace.  And, ultimately, the empire.  The civilized world broke down and collapsed.  And barbarian leaders on the borders, hungry for conquest, attacked.  Plunging the former Roman provinces into war and instability.

RISING FROM THE ashes of the Roman Empire were the seeds of new empires.  And the ground that proved most fertile was the northern limit of the old empire.  England.

England started to assert herself with the growth of her navy.  With her borders secured, a uniform government, a rule of law, a stable currency, bustling trade & markets and a military to be the world’s policeman, peace broke out.  Again.  For about a hundred years.  During the Industrial Revolution.  After the defeat of Napoleon. 

Imperial Britain stretched across the globe.  The sun never set on the British Empire.  And wherever she went, she brought the rule of law, modernity, a sound economy and political stability.  Her old colonial possessions went on to be some of the richest, most prosperous and peaceful nations in the world.  India.  Australia.  New Zealand.  South Africa.  Canada.  And, of course, the United States of America.  She achieved her century of peace (Pax Britannia) by a balance of power.  She maintained peace by intervening in disputes, often on the side of the weaker nation.  She prevented stronger, aggressive nations from threatening her weaker neighbors.   And she provided a safe environment for the weaker nation to live peacefully in the shadows of stronger, more aggressive neighbors.

For a hundred years Britannia kept the peace.  In large part due to her Royal Navy, the most powerful and potent navy at the time.  If you ate any imported food or used any imported goods, it was thanks to the Royal Navy that kept the world’s sea lanes safe.  But this peace came with a price.  The rise of nationalism, the quest of new empires to establish their own overseas colonies and a change in the balance of power in Europe with the rise of Germany added to that price.  And then a shot fired in Sarajevo by a Serbian terrorist ignited a tinderbox.  The assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand by Gavrilo Princip started World War I.  The most bloody and expensive war at the time, it bankrupted Great Britain and ended her empire.  And left the world a less safe place. 

From the ashes of World War I rose new leaders with aspirations of world conquest.  Fascist Italy led by Benito Mussolini.  Nazi Germany led by Adolf Hitler.  Communist Russia led by Joseph Stalin.  Imperial Japan led by Hideki Tojo.  And the nation that led the victors in World War II would, by default, become the new world power.  The new world policeman.  The United States of America.

SO WHAT HAPPENED during the inter-war years that led to World War II?  War exhausted Britain and France.  Neither had the stomach for another war.  Britain continued to rely on the Royal Navy for protection (as an island nation, sea power is indispensable).  France built fixed fortifications (the Maginot Line).  Both were primarily defensive strategies. 

In America, General Billy Mitchell demonstrated the vulnerability of battleships to air power by sinking a battleship with an airplane (greatly flustering the naval high command).  Colonel George S. Patton developed an armored doctrine for an unenthused army and eventually transferred back to the horse cavalry.  Meanwhile, Imperial Japan was building aircraft carriers.  And Nazi Germany, Fascist Italy and Communist Russia developed air and armored doctrine while fighting in the Spanish Civil War.

Fascist Italy attacked Ethiopia in 1935 to rebuild the Roman Empire and make the Mediterranean Sea a Roman lake once again.  Nazi Germany launched World War II in 1939 by an armored assault on Poland with tactical air support.  Poland resisted with horse cavalry.  And lost.  Imperial Japan attacked Pearl Harbor in 1941 to destroy American naval power in the Pacific.  They did a lot of damage.  But the American carriers, their prime objective, were at sea.  They would eventually meet those carriers later at the Battle of Midway.  Where they would lose four of their best carriers and many of their best aviators.  This tipped the balance of power in the Pacific to the Americans.

America was ill-prepared for war.  But American industry, the Arsenal of Democracy, ramped up and built the planes, tanks, guns, rifles and ships that would win the war.   It would come with a heavy price tag.  Global wars typically do.  Had there been a balance of power that would have checked the territorial ambitions of the aggressor nations, it would have been a different story.  Of course, having the power is one thing.  How you use it is another. 

France had more tanks than Germany before the outbreak of hostilities.  But the Nazis quickly overran France.  Why?  Doctrine.  France’s doctrine was to hide behind the security of the Maginot Line.  It was a defensive-only strategy.  She developed no armored doctrine.  The lesson they learned from World War I was that armies killed themselves attacking fixed defenses.  Germany, too, learned that lesson.  So their doctrine called for going around fixed defenses with fast-moving armor spearheads with tactical air support (i.e., blitzkrieg).  Formidable though the Maginot Line was, it could not attack.  And if the Nazis didn’t attack it, it did nothing but concentrate men and firepower away from the battle.

WHEN WE PULLED out of South Vietnam, we agreed to use American air power if North Vietnam violated the terms of the treaty ending that war.  Watergate changed all of that.  Even though JFK got us into Vietnam, it became Nixon’s war.  And a vindictive Congress wouldn’t have anything more to do with it.  The North tested the American will.  Saw that there was none.   Attacked.  And overran South Vietnam.  The message was clear to tyrants.  America will quit in the long run.  Especially after a large loss of life.

Other ‘retreats’ would reinforce this perception.  Especially in the Arab world.  The withdrawal from Lebanon after the bombing of the Marines’ barracks.  The withdrawal from Somalia after the Somalis dragged dead American troops through the streets of Mogadishu.  The Arab world even saw the victory in Desert Storm as a retreat.  The anti-American Arab world said that our invasion was about oil.  That what we really wanted was to topple Saddam Hussein and take his oil.  It was just another Christian Crusade into holy Islamic lands.  When we didn’t do that, the Arab world saw it as another American retreat.  That America didn’t have the will to endure a bloody battle to conquer Iraq. 

So some in the Arab world would test America.  Al Qaeda.  Headed by Osama bin Laden.  They started small and became more daring.  World Trade Center bombing.  Tanzanian Embassy bombing.  Kenyan Embassy bombing.  Khobar Towers bombing.  The USS Cole attack.  And they paid little for these attacks.  America didn’t fight back.  But their luck ran out on September 11, 2001.  Because America finally fought back.

PUBLIC ENEMY NUMBER one, Osama bin Laden, belonged to the conservative Sunni sect of Islam called Wahhabi.  They have a large following in Saudi Arabia.  The Wahhabi have a delicate relationship with the Saudi Royal family.  They disapprove of the Western displays of wealth in the House of Saud. 

Al-Qaeda was a shadowy enemy.  We confronted them in the mountains of Afghanistan where the Taliban gave them a safe sanctuary.  We attacked.  Knocked the Taliban from power.  Drove al-Qaeda underground.  But we could not stop their funding.

Wahhabi money from Saudi Arabia financed 9/11.  And the money continued to flow.  The Saudis would not intervene on behalf of America.  They feared any crackdown on the Wahhabi could unleash a civil war.  So America needed leverage to get Saudi cooperation.  And they found it in an old nemesis, Saddam Hussein. 

A Sunni minority ruled Iraq.  The Saudis did not like Saddam Hussein.  However, they liked the balance of power he offered to Iran.  Iran was Shiite.  As much as the Saudis did not like Saddam, they disliked Shiite Iran more.  This was the American lever.

After some diplomatic gymnastics, the invasion of Iraq was set.  The Saudis thought we were bluffing.  They didn’t believe we would invade Iraq.  Never in a million years.  If we didn’t do it in Desert Storm when we had the force in place to do it and didn’t, there was no way the Americans would amass another coalition and redeploy forces to the region again.  Especially because America doesn’t like long, drawn out, bloody wars.  Which an invasion of Iraq would surely be.

They asked us to remove our forces from the Saudi bases.  We did.  Now they were getting nervous.  That was the political game.  Make some noise to show the Arab world you weren’t an American toady.  But, secretly, you want those American forces to remain.  That American presence did provide security.  And stability.  After the invasion of Kuwait, it sure looked like Saudi Arabia would be next.  It was only that large American force in the desert that changed that inevitability. 

The Americans invaded.  And conquered.  Now the Saudis had a vested interest in helping the Americans.  They needed them to be successful in Iraq.  To contain Iran.  The lever worked.  The Saudis stemmed the flow of Wahhabi money to al-Qaeda.  The invasion of Iraq proved to be one of the most effective battles in the war on terrorism.  

HISTORY HAS SHOWN that a balance of power can lead to peace.  It has also shown that a superpower can enforce a larger peace.  But it also has shown that there is good and bad when it comes to power.  The Romans could be cruel, but so were most in that time.  The road to empire, after all, started out simply as a quest to provide a buffer between Rome and the hostile barbarians on her borders.  Rome, then, expanded in pursuit of peace.  (Initially, at least.)  And then used her power to maintain peace.

Many view Great Britain as the successor to the Roman Empire.  And many view America as the successor to the British Empire.  These powers share many things (rule of law, an advanced civilization, political stability, etc.).  Perhaps the greatest, though, is a powerful military.  And how it was/is used.  As a powerful deterrent to an aggressor nation.  To protect trade routes.  To maintain peace.  Malign these empires/nations all you will, but the greatest periods of world peace were due to their military power.  And their will to use that military power.  Expensive as that was.  Is.

So, yes, wars are costly.  Peace, too.  Sometimes, though, we must fight wars.  But we can avoid a lot of them.  By a peace-time military force that acts as a deterrent.  Because there are bad guys out there.  Who only respect one thing.  And it isn’t diplomacy.  Often the only thing preventing them from waging a cruel war of conquest is a potent military and a willing leader to use it.  If a tyrant knows he will face a military consequence for acting, he may not act.  When he knows that consequence will be devastating, he will not act.  But if he knows a nation hasn’t the military power or the will to use military power, he will act.  Just as Hitler did.  As Mussolini did.  As Tojo did.  And as Osama bin Laden did.

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