Thursday, November 30, 2023

"If Iraq is to teach us anything, it must be that a new idea cannot be beat into a society."

Maj. Walt Cooper, Baghdad, 2006 via today's Washington Post.

"General Petraeus, winning the hearts and minds of the Afghans is not the job of a soldier. That's the job of an Afghan."

Mohammad Umer Daudzai, chief of staff to Afghanistan President Hamid Karzai, recounting a meeting last week with Gen. Petraeus in Sunday's Washington Post.

Photo by Paul Avallone


As readers of this site may recall, Paul Avallone served in Afghanistan in 2002 and 2003 on a special forces team -- "the lone US military presence in the entire eastern province of Nangarhar" --  and returned to Afghanistan as a journalist in 2006 and 2008. Paul drew my attention to yesterday's posted story on pederasty in Afghanistan by Joel Brinkley and kindly supplied the all too relevant photograph (see post). He also sent in the above photo, which he took of an Afghanistan National Army sergeant, noting:

The ANA sergeant did not know...

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Photo by Paul Avallone

Joel Brinkley, writing in the San Francisco Chronicle, lifts a rock and finds Afghan culture -- predatory and abusive, twisted out of human shape by a fusion of Pashtun and Koranic influences.

Western forces fighting in southern Afghanistan had a problem. Too often, soldiers on patrol passed an older man walking hand-in-hand with a pretty young boy. Their behavior suggested he was not the boy's father. Then, British soldiers found that young Afghan men were actually trying to "touch and fondle them," military investigator AnnaMaria Cardinalli told me. "The soldiers didn't understand."

All of this was so disconcerting that the Defense Department hired Cardinalli, a social scientist, to examine this...

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A platoon leader named Blake Hall has written a moving tribute in the Washington Post to a young Iraqi interpreter named Roy killed in a 2008 blast. The story includes the following anecdote, emblematic of the stunted mindset responsible for what should be recognized someday as America's wars of terrible waste in Iraq and Afghanistan. Hall, recalling events of the "surge" year of 2007, writes:

My platoon was patrolling Dora 12 hours a day, taking turns with another, and we were always tired. I had lost 20 pounds in two months because I usually chose sleeping over eating when we returned to the base. On the roof, the scouts and I were looking at one another with half-closed, bloodshot eyes when the muezzin in the mosque began chanting in Arabic. His voice streamed from the speakers strapped to the top of the minaret and reverberated off the concrete buildings.


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This week's syndicated column:

"We are Americans, each with an equal right to worship and pray where we choose," New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg said this week. "There is nowhere in the five boroughs of New York City that is off limits to any religion."

Our founding documents guarantee that -- and not just in the five boroughs.

But the unprecedented furor over plans for a mosque complex at Ground Zero tells us there is a coalescing sense that Islam is more than a "mere" religion as non-Muslims conceive of "religion." It is becoming clear to people, despite the gag of political correctness, that there's a reason "Islam" means "submission." Islam not only seeks to order the spiritual realm inhabited by a Muslim and Allah, it lays out a doctrine to control every believer's behavior (down to the...

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Florida's District 22 -- Broward and Howard Counties -- is where it's at this election season with the splendid Col. Allen West (USA ret.) handily winning his GOP primary.

Said West:

"This evening, after nearly 2 years of hard work, our campaign to restore honor, integrity and character to Washington reached an important milestone. With a vast majority of the precincts having reported their results, we will have defeated David Brady by a margin of nearly 4 to 1. With GOP turnout significantly higher than democratic turnout throughout District 22, our victory tonight is proof that South Floridians are sick and tired of the status-quo in Washington, and are looking for leaders instead of politicians."

More here about the race for the House seat currently -- and temporarily! -- held by Democrat Rep. Ron Klein.

And more about Allen West in next week's column.


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Brand new Yale teacher Stanley McChrystal will be hitting the lecture circuit and bringing in between $30,000 and $60,000 a pop, says CNN, when he isn't lecturing not exactly for free in a seminar called "Leadership," says the YDN blog Cross Campus. The course for 20 mainly grad students  "will examine the way modern technologies and media and global politics present new challenges for leaders, with a focus on military leadership from 9/11 to the present day."

Does that mean like what happens when a commander talks trash in front of a reporter on one continent and it gets published on another?

From left to right: Kingdom Foundation director Muna Abu Sulayman, a happy Harvard official, Talal and wife Ameerah celebrating in 2008 Talal's $20 million purchase of -- I mean, donation to build -- an Islamic studies program at Harvard.

From a report by Paul Sperry at

The Saudi prince whose post-9/11 relief check was rejected by former New York Mayor Rudy Guiliani has found a more willing recipient in the city for his millions: the head of the Ground Zero mosque project.

The same Saudi potentate, Saudi Prince Alwaleed bin Talal, owns the biggest chunk of the parent company of the Fox News Channel outside of the Murdoch family.

Dear Talal.

Former Bush advisers have similar ties to the prince and the proposed...

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Winning hearts and minds means losing your own. It involves teaching defenders of the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution and the Bill of Rights to "respect" an Islamic tribal culture (as advocated by Admiral Mullen and other leaders) that subjugates women, girls,  boys and non-Muslims (assuming there are any of the last left in the country ), while increasingly assuming its customs -- from troops adopting native dress to a US admiral involving himself in the ritual slaughter of sheep, to redefining our very perceptions of reality.

Now, it's part of basic training.


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The title of the excerped AP report below is "War doesn't rest for Islam holy month." But maybe the title should have been "Islam doesn't rest for war" -- as in doesn't let the war stop its dawa (proselytizing), only now that proselytizing  is starting to a bit like Dawa, Uncle Sam-Style.

FORWARD OPERATING BASE WILSON, Afghanistan — “May you have a blessed Ramadan,” reads a poster greeting U.S. troops outside a base mess tent. It refers to Islam’s holiest month, a time of good deeds, prayer and purification of the spirit through sunrise-to-sunset fasting. ...

That would be a Happy Ramadan poster on a US base mess hall tent. Just curious: Does the military post Happy Hannukah, Merry X-mas and Yay Diwali (Hindu holiday) posters on mess hall tents as well?

The story goes on to note that jihad-joyous violence by-now traditionally spikes for US troops fighting wars during Ramadan in Dar al-Islam, although so far this season that has not been the case. But there are other Ramadan issues:


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Tariq Ramadan holds an MA in Philosophy and French literature and PhD in Arabic and Islamic Studies from the University of Geneva. In Cairo, Egypt he received one-on-one intensive training in classic Islamic scholarship from Al-Azhar University scholars. He is currently Professor of Islamic Studies at Oxford University while also teaching at the Faculty of Theology at Oxford. He is at the same time Senior Research Fellow at Doshisha Universoty in Japan and president of the European think tank European Muslim Network. He has called for a moratorium on the shariah-sanctioned practice of stoning.


This week's column:

Stonings at Ground Zero -- that'll be the day, right? The concept has no manifestation beyond the cold sweat of a dark-hours nightmare. Still, there's something worth gleaning from the not-so-free association process that inspired it.


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Word about COIN seems to be getting around:

某些行动确实采取了。拉姆斯菲尔德让布什总统解除了职务。拉姆斯菲尔德最强大的辩护人副总统切尼,其影响力输给了国务卿康多莉扎·赖斯和拉姆斯菲尔 德的继任罗伯特·盖茨,后者倡导更“温和”的观点,强调运用外交手段。新军事战略突然之间获得了支持,即反叛乱[counter- insurgency](用缩 COIN表示)。它是由先前不知名的军官戴维·彼得雷乌斯[David Petraeus]提出来的。



极右派,切尼和拉姆斯菲尔德的朋友们,没有上当。他们的一个所谓权威人士戴安娜·韦斯 Diana West说:“COIN噩梦仍在继续。”对她而言,COIN意味着命令军队“操练文化相对主义的幻想,这在一个讲究政治正确的教室里有左倾的意味,但在 前线却是极端愚蠢的。”一个多少不那么刻薄的观点是退休上校道格拉斯·麦格雷戈[Col. Douglas Macgregor]提出的:“以为我们会花费上千亿美元重新塑造伊斯兰世界的文化,这种看法完全是胡扯。”




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From the late king's mouth via Gates of Vienna (subtitles by Vlad Tepes).

We've been hearing more talk, buzz and chatter about Shariah lately than I imagined was possible. Unfortunately, much of it is still uninformed and reliant only on the emotional bouyance of 9/11, as though the battleground of Lower Manhattan is the only place a Shariah-advancing imam should be barred from building an anti-Constitutional outpost of Islam. Defenders of the mosque project, meanwhile, exhale testaments to religious freedom and tolerance that crest and crash over the apparently unimagined, unknown, ungrasped perils to liberty, equality and freedom of conscience that are actually advertised in Islam's mainstream tenets. We must support this mosque, we are told, lest we become, as MSNBC's Norah O'Donnell actually said on the air (without blushing, fainting or otherwise convulsing), like the 9/11 jihadists. But this is a kind of tolerance without limits.

And how virtuous is that? The British...

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Here's something bouncing around the Internet that just might explain that special gleam in Mayor Bloomberg's eye when he $aid, in the name of tolerance (sniff), that the Ground Zero Mosque was welcome in NYC.

Khaleej Times headline from October 2009:

"Bloomberg Set for Dubai Hub Expansion in Bid to Double Revenues by 2014"

Sigh. A  beautiful thought.

(Better be careful though.)

My most recent column:

It's never been clear what really happened on that foggy morning of April 10 when a Polish airplane crashed on a Russian runway, killing all 96 people aboard including Polish President Lech Kaczynski, cabinet ministers, military service chiefs, intelligence officials, the central bank president, parliamentarians, historians, decapitating the conservative government and gutting the country's elite.

Given the occasion -- the 70th anniversary of the Soviet Union's long-denied massacre of 22,000 Poles at Katyn Forest -- and given many of the crash victims' dedication to exposing Soviet-era treachery and opposing Putin-era Russian expansionism, was the crash, as reported, an epically tragic accident? Even as the Russians immediately cited "pilot error" (they did wait, as former CIA officer Eugene Poteat has noted, until after the plane had gone down), they also pledged to Poland a joint, transparent investigation. But four months later, Russian obfuscation casts...

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US Navy Photo: Iraqi police recruits at Karbala Police Academy, March 2009


From the Washington Post:

As the last U.S. combat troops prepare to leave Iraq this month, the State Department is struggling to implement an expanded mission that it has belatedly realized it might not be able to afford.

Money isn't the only problem. The "expanded mission" comes down to the surreal exercise of (still) training (demonstrably untrainable) Iraqi police.

Beginning in September, the State Department will take over all police training in Iraq from coalition military forces, and it has proposed replacing its current 16 provincial reconstruction teams spread across the country with five consular offices outside Baghdad.

But since planning for the transition began more than two years ago, costs have skyrocketed and the money to pay for them has become increasingly tight. Congress cut the State Department's Iraq request in the 2010 supplemental appropriation that President Obama signed late last month; the Senate Appropriations Committee and a House subcommittee have already slashed the administration's $1.8 billion request for fiscal 2011 operations in Iraq.


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This week's column:

"Live our values," Gen. David Petraeus wrote recently to troops in Afghanistan. "This is what distinguishes us from our enemies."

Unfortunately, this is also what distinguishes us from many of our "friends." This culture-chasm is what makes the infidel struggle for hearts and minds across Islamic lands so recklessly, wastefully futile, something I was once again reminded of on reading Time magazine's cover story featuring 18-year-old Aisha. Aisha is a lovely Afghan girl whose husband and brother-in-law, on instructions from a local judge and Taliban commander, sliced off her ears and nose and left her dying to set an example for other wives thinking of running away from abusive in-laws. Only her discovery by U.S. troops saved Aisha's life.

But where was Aisha's father? Where was her family? Where were her town's elders? Where was Hamid Karzai? Turns out her family did nothing to protect her from the Taliban, Time writes. Why? The magazine describes a mixture...

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Michelle Obama and I are both on vacation this week -- just not together. She, along with 40 of her "closest friends" (and 70 Secret Service agents), is celebrifying it up on Spain's Costa del Sol; I'm freeloading at my mom's in New England (with the family dogs).

Of course, what American could afford more after paying for Michelle's $2,500 a night hotel room -- or at least whatever the 70 Secret Service agents' room-and-board cost?

The New Daily News' Andrea Tantaros gets it right in her report: 

Material girl Michelle Obama is a modern-day Marie Antoinette on a glitzy Spanish vacation Tantaros asks:

...why not select a more appropriate destination like the California coast? The scenery is just as gorgeous as that of Spain, and instead of patronizing a foreign country they would be pumping money into an American economy that desperately needs it. Camp David wouldn't...

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This week's column:

The battle over whether to admit Turkey into the European Union seems eternal, at least among the EU's rulers. Among the peoples of Europe, when granted the rare chance to go to the ballot box -- increasingly window-dressing as far as the EU's soft totalitarians are concerned -- there is little argument. In fact, there is bona fide consensus: NO to Turkey becoming a part of Europe. Why? Because, culturally and historically, it is not.

Tell that to British Prime Minister David Cameron, who just visited Ankara to present himself as Europe's leading booster for Turkish EU membership (a move the United States has meddlesomely supported), pandering so low a prayer rug could give him cover.

Dubbing himself Turkey's "strongest possible advocate for EU membership and for greater influence...

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The Colorado GOP's Scott McInnis: Giving new meaning to responsibility


I don't pretend to have mastered the ins and outs of a hot and hotly contested race for the governor's mansion in Colorado where US borders angel, former presidential candidate and former GOP Rep. Tom Tancredo is now making good on his threat to enter the primary race as a third-party candidate if lame-o GOP candidates didn't drop out and the state party didn't put up credible candidates.

One of the non-credibles staying in the race is the ethically challenged Republican Scott McInnis, who, as puts it, is plagued by "the controversy surrounding the plagiarized water writings he produced as part of a two-year, $300,000 agreement with the Hasan Family Foundation after he left Congress in 2005."

What's up with that? McInnis seems to bristle at the question. At a recent appearance, the Coloradoan reports:

McInnis did not discuss the controversy surrounding the plagiarized...

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Some people just know how to live. Take those Yalies lucky enough to summer on "the Vineyard" -- Martha's natch. They all look forward to:    

Yale Day in the Sun!

From Yale Vineyard Alumni:

Please join the Yale family for our “Yale Day in the Sun on Martha’s Vineyard.”

GnT's? Boating? Croquet maybe? Not exactly.

Enjoy an afternoon of intellectual stimulation, reconnecting with old friends and meeting new ones.


The afternoon begins with lectures from two of our esteemed Yale colleagues, Master Jonathan Holloway, Professor of History, African American Studies and American Studies presenting, “The Right Kind of People: The Silences in a Civil Rights Narrative.” And Omer Bajwa, Coordinator of Muslim Life at Yale presenting, “Muslim Life at Yale and Beyond: Engaging the Sacred & the Secular.”  

Then have fun in the sun with a cocktail reception.

I don't know Master Holloway, but what could be more fun  -- in or out of the sun -- than a lecture...

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From Spiegel Online:

A local Berlin politician ... is under fire for inviting Dutch populist Geert Wilders to a meeting on Islam on October 2. Rene Stadtkewitz, who is known for his anti-Islamic views, has refused to cancel the invitation, and now faces eviction from his party's parliamentary group in the city assembly ....

Rene Stadtkewitz, 45, a member of Chancellor Angela Merkel's conservative Christian Democrats (CDU), looks set to be excluded from the CDU's parliamentary group in the Berlin city assembly after inviting Wilders to Berlin on October 2 to discuss integration and Islam. He had also discussed founding a branch of Wilders' Freedom Party in Germany.

Frank Henkel, the CDU's regional parliamentary group leader, gave Stadtkewitz an ultimatum:...

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Cameron-Erdogan: The start of a beautiful friendship

Things are moving faster than it appeared, the rails greased by the unctuous British PM Cameron. Indeed, Turkish PM Erdogan is already declaring a "golden age" of Turkey-UK relations.

You've heard of the Full Monty? Behold the Full Dhimmi.

From the BBC:

UK Prime Minister David Cameron has condemned the blockade of the Gaza Strip, describing the territory as a "prison camp."

He also criticised Israel for launching an attack...

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The argument over whether to admit Turkey to the European Union seems eternal, at least among EU elites. Among the peoples of of Europe, when give the rare chance to make their will known at the ballot box -- increasingly window-dressing as far as the soft totalitarians of the EU are concerned -- there is little argument. There is bona fide consensus: NO to Turkey becoming a part of Europe. Why? For one thing, because it is not.

Tell that to British Prime Minister David Cameron, currently in Ankara selling the inclusiveness-for-Turkey-line (something the US has quite meddlesomely clamored for), pushing Tukish membership in the EU as an antidote to -- updated...

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That July 2011 "exit date" from Afghanistan has always had the phony feel of window-dressing, as confirmed here, which has failed to cloak the massive American build-up of infrastructure in the area that seems less short-term and makeshift than reorienting and permanent.

More proof of the exit fantasy was confirmed yesterday at the State Department. It subsequently showed up in the Indian press but, as far as I can tell, clear missed the US media.

From the Hindustan Times:


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This week's syndicated column:

A clarifying bomblet drops in the final paragraph of the opening installment of the big Washington Post series on what is best described as National Intelligence Sprawl:

"Soon, on the grounds of the former St. Elizabeth's mental hospital in Anacostia, a $3.4 billion showcase of security will rise from the crumbling brick wards. The new headquarters will be the largest government complex built since the Pentagon ..."

National security meets mental hospital: How tragically appropriate. And yes, these inmates will definitely be running the asylum -- some of the Post-estimated 854,000 Americans with top secret clearance now filling massive new government complexes all over the country -- another unwanted legacy of 9/11. Some of my conservative brethren worry that the Post series reveals national security secrets. The question is, with nearly a million people possessing top secret clearance, how many secrets are left to reveal? Is it possible that our...

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I just taped a segment with Frank Gaffney for Secure Freedom Radio and he alerted me to this rousing ad against the mosque at Ground Zero.

From the Wall Street Journal:

"Petraeus Sharpens Afghan Strategy"

WASHINGTON—Gen. David Petraeus plans to ramp up the U.S. military's troop-intensive strategy in Afghanistan, according to some senior military officials, who have concluded that setbacks in the war effort this year weren't the result of the strategy, but of flaws in how it has been implemented.

So predictable. Of course, the lead author of counterinsurgency strategy (COIN) is going to see flaws in its implementation, not the strategy itself.

The officials said Gen. Petraeus, who took over as allied commander in Afghanistan this month and is conducting a review of the war, intends to draw on many of the same tactics he implemented to turn around the war in Iraq—and which his predecessor, Gen. Stanley McChrystal, introduced in Afghanistan.

But the officials said Gen. McChrystal put too much attention on hunting down Taliban leaders, at the expense of the U.S. counterinsurgency strategy which focuses...

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This is a picture of Northern Ireland Lieutenant Neal Turkington, 26, who was one of three British soldiers killed by a "renegade" Afghan Army soldier at a British base last week. Afghan authorities say the attacker, who remains at large, "was Sergeant Talib Hussein, who was sent to the unit, part of 215 Maiwand Corps, eight months ago. They say he was probably already involved with the Taliban."

Fast thinking, Poindexter.

But guess what? Questions remain. The LA Times reports "the motive for Tuesday's attack in the Nahr-e-Sarraj district remained unclear."

Maybe the Times...

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From the AP (via Andrew Bostom):

BAGHDAD – Anti-American Iraqi cleric Muqtada al-Sadr took a rare, public step into the political arena Monday, meeting in neighboring Syria with the man directly challenging Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki for his office.

That man would be Our Guy Allawi.

The talks between al-Sadr, who is nominally allied with al-Maliki, and former premier Iyad Allawi, who heads the heavily Sunni-backed Iraqiya coalition, appeared to be as much about showing al-Maliki that al-Sadr is keeping his options open as it was about any firm political agreement between the two men in the offing.

Al-Sadr rarely travels outside of his home base in Iran where he lives in self-imposed exile. His followers won 39 seats in the 325-seat parliament in Iraq's national election in March, giving him considerable sway over who becomes the next prime minister.

Iran, Iran: Does Iran have anything to do with any of this?

Following the ballot, al-Sadr...

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Ann Marlowe of the Hudson Institute considers "the war over the war" among Republicans sparked by Michael Steele, arguing we're due for a belated "reckoning" on controversial if prevailing counterinsurgency policy. She also cites recent comments by Newt Gingrich on the cultural disjunction between us and Afghans that is at the flawed heart of the matter.

Writing at the Daily Beast, Marlowe, who recently completed her sixth "embed" with American troops in Afghanistan, writes:

The former House Speaker cautioned that it wasn't quite so simple, saying that "counterinsurgency doctrine doesn't go deep enough for some place like Afghanistan. You're dealing with Afghan culture that is fundamentally different than us, in ways we don't...

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For actual years now, I've been writing that the foundational fallacy of COIN, whether in Iraq or Afghanistan, is that success depends not on what American forces do, but on how alien peoples react to what American forces have done.

In Iraq, that translated into "surge till they merge," a two-step process in which US forces would amass to provide security, and Iraqis would then, the theory went, automatically react to that American-produced security by forming a more perfect union or something. We're still waiting.

In Afghanistan, American forces are supposed "to secure and serve" the Afghan population, as Gen. Petraeus put it recently. The secured and served Afghan population is then supposed to react by supporting the US-propped Karzai government. We're still waiting for that, too, in the process, ordering our troops, as noted many times here, to participate in a dangerous and degrading popularity contest with the ... Taliban.

Or is it a trial?

The Washington Post recently reported...

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Talk about burying the lede. The last 'graph of the widely anticipated Wash Post takeout on National Intelligence Sprawl says it all, or at least  quite a lot: 

Soon, on the grounds of the former St. Elizabeths mental hospital in Anacostia, a $3.4 billion showcase of security will rise from the crumbling brick wards. The new headquarters will be the largest government complex built since the Pentagon ....

National security meets St. E's: How tragically appropriate. And yes, the inmates will definitely be running this asylum -- some of the estimated 854,000 Americans with top secret clearance currently and clandestinely spilling out of massive new government complexes all over the country. My conservative brethren seem concerned that the Post report reveals a slew of largely post-9/11 national security secrets. The  question is, with nearly...

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This week's syndicated column: Just how entertaining was that Russian spy ring story that came in with a flurry of late-June arrests and went out with a Russo-American agent swap last weekend?

Two thumbs up, judging by the reviews, or was that news coverage? Sometimes it was hard to tell. In fact, something about the way the startling fact that allegedly post-Cold War Russia was running a ring of deep-cover agents in this "reset" era was put over made it seem as though there was little distinction between spy fact and spy fiction. Or, rather, that the main significance to spy fact was its place in our pop-culture attic of spy fiction.

"Details of the Russian spy network, outlined in two FBI complaints and a government press release, tell a spy story that is part John le Carre and part Austin Powers," reported Newsweek. "Russian spy case 'right out of a John le Carre novel'" headlined the Christian Science Monitor. "A sensational summer spy tale that already seemed ripped from the pages of Le Carre...

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Photo: Saudi Prince Alwaleed bin Talal and Jamal Khashoggi in Alwaleed's Riyadh office.

No, it's not a new pub serving non-alchololic beer, it's a new media venture between Rupert Murchoch and Prince Alwaleed bin Talal, whose business relationship grows ever cosier (see here and here, for example, to catch up on the whole affair).

From Canada's CBC News, with thanks to Fjordman:

Saudi Prince Alwaleed bin Talal has announced plans to launch a 24-hour Arabic-language news channel in partnership with Rupert Murdoch's Fox network.


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This week's syndicated column:

I've sworn off predictions, having guessed wrong that a deeply apologetic Gen. Stanley McChrystal would keep his Afghanistan command. But what about GOP chairman Michael Steele? So far, at least as I write, he is weathering his own Afghan storm after dubbing the protracted counterinsurgency, President Obama's war -- as though the Obama policy were not in fact an extension and intensification of the Bush administration plan -- and then noting that history tells us war in Afghanistan is unwinnable.

But not always, as I learned after consulting Andrew Bostom's invaluable compendium, "The Legacy of Jihad." Turns out Islamized Turkic nomads came out on top, conquering the Hindu Kingdom of Kabul in the late 9th century, ending Hindu rule in Afghanistan with a victory that was, as a 13th-century-Indian-chronicler put it, "the result of treachery and deception, such as no one had ever committed."

That's one way to win. I have long argued that counterinsurgency's...

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The Politico headline on this story -- "Petraeus' emails on Israel leaked" -- is misleading. The story here is "Leaked E-mails Show CENTCOM General and Journalist (Max Boot) Work Damage Control on  Petraeus' Israel Problem."

Background -- lots -- here and here.

Secondary highlights: 1) Petraeus is a butterfingers (he inadvertently sent out the Boot emails, which were leaked to The Nation's Philip Weiss; and 2) he uses an emoticon to sign off. (-:


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Ruth King of Ruthfully Yours sent around this Washington Times piece by Rowan Scarborough that notes the apparent irony that "in less than three years, Army Gen. David H. Petraeus has risen from the brunt of ridicule by Democrats to President Obama's most valuable field general."

Rather than indicating heightened powers of perception on the part of Democrats, I would argue that the hosannas Gen. Petraeus is greeted with everywhere now are inspired by an overall numbness to what his "victory" in Iraq actually means, which is not a lot, at least not for the US.

The piece goes on to document this sea change in attitudes and quotes Petraeus' ex-public affairs officer:

Col. Steven Boylan, who was Gen. Petraeus' spokesman in Iraq and now teaches at Fort Leavenworth's Command and General Staff College in Kansas, recalls a tense, politically charged Washington.

"I don't think it would be unfair to say the issues of '07 were very divisive, and there was a lot of controversy...

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Catchy cover story by Mehdi Hasan in the British weekly the New Statesman.

Opening question:

David Petraeus, George Bush’s “main man” in Iraq and an American military icon, is now expected to win what many consider to be the unwinnable Afghan war. Is the US once again succumbing to the cult of the generals?


On 23 June, the president of the United States, Barack Obama, sacked his top commander in Afghanistan, General Stanley McChrystal. The general and his aides were quoted making disparaging remarks about their commander-in-chief, and other senior colleagues, in a now famous article in Rolling Stone magazine.

In announcing the dismissal of McChrystal, the president said he had made his decision not on the basis of "any difference in policy" nor out of "any sense of personal insult", but because the article had eroded...

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RNC Chairman Michael Steele's comments on Afghanistan -- Afghanistan is a war of Obama's choosing, and if Obama is a student of histroy (who said?), he should know that you don't engage in a land war in Afghanistan -- have triggered calls for his resignation from Bill Kristol, Liz Cheney, Charles Krauthammer and no doubt others by now. Aside from the fact that Afghanistan is not a war of Obama's choosing  -- he has merely chosen to intensify and prolong the nation-building policy (agony) begun by George W. Bush -- the main point of neocon/con concern here is Steele's disavowal of the war effort. Kristol writes:

It’s an affront, both to the honor of the Republican party and to the commitment of the soldiers fighting to accomplish the mission they’ve been asked to take on by our elected leaders.

There are, of course, those who think we should pull out of Afghanistan, and they’re certainly entitled to make their case. [Thanks, Bill.] But one of them shouldn't be the chairman of the Republican...

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This "non-vetted" CNN iReport of a couple of weeks ago is still  making the rounds. I don't know if it's true, but it's truly frightening. Links from the original.

More cheery Gulf news and video here.

A dire report circulating in the Kremlin today that was prepared for Prime Minister Putin by Anatoly Sagalevich of Russia's Shirshov Institute of Oceanology warns that the Gulf of Mexico sea floor has been fractured “beyond all repair” and our World should begin preparing for an ecological disaster “beyond comprehension” unless “extraordinary measures” are undertaken to stop the massive flow of oil into our Planet’s eleventh largest body of water.

Most important to note about Sagalevich’s warning is that he and his fellow scientists from theRussian Academy of Sciences...

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I'm not sure how National Review continues to fly the conservative banner after endorsing the non-conservative John McCain (and that's the nicest word for him) over the conservative J.D. Hayworth in the Arizona GOP primary -- an exercise, as Andy McCarthy gamely observes in his compelling dissent from NR's endorsement, the magazine tends to avoid.  

"Why Endorse McCain?" the title asks. Why, indeed!  For the record, I came out for Hayworth some months ago when another "conservative" force weirdly came out for McCain as well -- Sarah Palin....

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Photo by Paul Avallone


This week's syndicated column:

Anyone who believes that Gen. David H. Petraeus plans to overhaul the rules of engagement (ROEs) in Afghanistan due to the critical mass of ROE-caused casualties finally catching American's attention just wasn't listening to the general at his Senate confirmation hearing this week. But judging by both senatorial deference on the topic (Petraeus was confirmed 99-0) and a practically MIA media, that describes a lot of people.

Here's the first ROE question, submitted to the general prior to the hearing: "If confirmed, what general changes, if any, would you make to the current ROEs?" In response, Petraeus wrote: "One of my highest priorities, should...

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I'm not kidding with that headline up there, although I can't say I've read one like it anywhere else. But here's what Gen. Petraeus told the Senate Armed Services Committee to earn it yesterday during his confirmation hearing (99-0) when fatal ROEs came up:

It's really  about the implementation of the rules of engagement and the tactical directive, both of which I think about fundamentally sound. I don't see any reason to change them in significant ways. Rather. what we need to do is make sure that the intent behind those, the intent being to reduce the loss of innocent civilian life in the course of military operations to an absolute minimum -- that's an imperative for any [counterinsurgency]. We must achieve that. I have pledged to continue to do that, to continue the great work that General McChrystal did in that regard.

Senate testimony video here.


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This week's syndicated column:

So Gen. Stanley McChrystal lost his job. Does it matter?

Aside from the fact that with Wednesday's announcement the nation's capital could finally exhale for the first time since news broke about the profanity-laced Rolling Stone profile in which the now-former Afghanistan commander made disparaging comments about members of President Obama's Afghanistan team (including Obama himself), absolutely nothing of consequence resulted from the whole breathless melodrama.

Why not? Half the world by now has read the magazine article describing senior staff behavior more Animal House than conduct becoming the average adult, let alone officers and gentlemen. But despite the scandalous headlines, what we mainly gleaned was: most of the f-words salting the copy came from the reporter; the general's actual antics weren't so much disparaging as childishly indiscreet ("'Oh, not another e-mail from Holbrooke,' he groans ..."); and crude ("McChrystal gives him the...

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Just for grins -- grim grins, because none of this is fun -- here's my prediction: McChrystal stays.

Point is, it doesn't much matter one way or the other because the counterinsurgency (COIN) strategy stays.

2:15 pm: I was wrong. McChrystal goes, and word is, Gen. David Petraeus is his replacement.

The point still is, it doesn't much matter one way or the other because the counterinsurgency (COIN) strategy stays.

Best line to come out of the Rolling Stone's McChrystal profile that has the general winging homeward, "summoned" from Kabul for a face-to-face with Obama in DC tomorrow over puerile comments and mouthing off (about nothing very substantive) by McChrystal and his staff in Rolling Stone magazine:

"The entire COIN strategy is a fraud perpetuated on the American people," says Douglas Macgregor, a retired colonel and leading critic of counterinsurgency who attended West Point with McChrystal. "The idea that we are going to spend a trillion dollars to reshape the culture of the Islamic world is utter nonsense.

That's all you need to know.

Politico reports that Gen. Stanley McChrystal has been "summoned" to Washington from Kabul over "biting and unflattering remarks" he and his staff made to Rolling Stone magazine about members of the Obama administration, including Obama himself. The general is now winging homeward for a meeting with the president tomorrow. "The face-to-face comes as pundits are already calling for McChrystal to resign for insubordination."

"Insubordination" in this case sounds like a bunch of cracks ranging from indiscreet to sophomorically unseemly. Examples:

McChrystal described his first meeting with Obama as disappointing and said that Obama was unprepared for the meeting. National Security Advisor Jim Jones is described by a McChrystal aide as a “clown” stuck in 1985. Others aides joked about Biden’s last name as sounding like “Bite me” since Biden opposed the surge. McChrystal issued...

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