Monday, July 24, 2006

The Belmont Club: A Garden Without Fences

The Belmont Club: A Garden Without Fences

Wretchard has revealed Lebanon as a country not only infested with rats, but one whose citizens have come to love the rats, and efforts to exterminate them only create greater love. He describes a love that is one-way, the rats do not love the Lebanese; they love only their own ideology. Theirs is a culture of oppression described by Eric Hoffer, Dr. Sanity and Shrinkwrapped

What happened to the Lebanon that loves Democracy and kicked out the Syrians? I hope and believe that that the rat-lovers are out-numbered by the Cedar-Revolutionaries and that events will unfold as I describe below. Lebanon can again blossom, but not with Hezballah.

Sunday, July 23, 2006


Lebanon is getting all the attention; 24/7 coverage, unlimited experts and opinions. But is there any question as to the final outcome? Is there any more tragedy than that still occuring Iraq and Aghanistan?

Events in Lebanon are occuring to script; not to say easy/smooth, but much like a mystery in which the outcome can be predicted. And often the mystery is ruined by someone who must speak the obvious, prematurely revealing the final chapter, as I will now do.

The Final Solution
Warning: The following may cause
Lebanon Attention Deficit

  • Israel will clear a buffer zone of about twenty miles; to the Litani River

  • The UN will establish a protectorate consisting of the buffer zone

  • NATO will provide protection forces for the new protectorate

Iraq, although not getting attention, has an outcome far more critical and less predictable. Anthony Cordesman in a July 19 CSIS article has this to say:

Losing the War in Iraq?

The Iraq War has increasingly become a race between the effort to create a new political compromise that can persuade Arab Shi'ite, Arab Sunni, and Kurd to cooperate in some new approach to governance and escalating civil violence. Bad weeks or months do not mean that the Iraqi government and the United States have yet lost that race, but the last few weeks are anything but reassuring. Read More

Personally, I am optimistic. Events in Iraq are occuring covertly in a manner that allow for optimism; reflecting accomplishment in one significant area. It is my belief that the Iraqi government has essentially brought the Shiite militia under control, which became apparent from a key paragraph in Strategy Page:

The Fire That Won't Go Out

The government knows that there are only a few dozen, at most, gangs involved in all this killing. The current deal is for the Sunni Arab community to shut down their thugs, while the government takes out the Shia militias. The government has started carrying out their end of the deal, but the Sunni Arabs have moved more slowly. This is because the Sunni Arab thugs are paranoid, quick on the trigger, and willing to murder prominent Sunni Arabs. The Sunni Arabs fear trapped, caught between their own radicals, and the majority of Iraqis (Kurds and Shia Arabs), who would just as soon see Iraq free of Sunni Arabs. The hatreds go deep, Saddam's decades of brutality against Kurds and Shia Arabs saw to that. While pundits go on about Iranian desires to dominate Iraq, the reality is more about vengeance against Sunni Arabs for past sins. Nothing too complicated, but it's a fire that's very difficult to put out. Read More

HAT TIP: Wretchard

In looking over the incidents since July 10th, all look to have been perpetrated by Sunni Terrorists/Insurgents. So, as it stands now, we have one enemy, a few gangs of Sunni; some of which will join the government and the others who are already being defeatd militarily.

Sunday, July 16, 2006


Could this be a trend?

Maybe, maybe not, I'll keep it updated.

And then, it could be a Bush Political Trick:
  • A Democratic Unity Government
  • Defeat of al-Qaeda in Iraq
  • Disbandment of the militias
  • Reduction of casualties
Peace in Iraq only a few months before the 2006 elections, Definately a BUSH TRICK!

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Where is "The Shia Zarqawi" ?

We some strong clues on what really happened this past weekend in Baghdad. Take a read:

Austin Bay has a heads up on The Next Crucial Battle of the War from Strategypage.

The Shia Zarqawi

July 10, 2006: The Shia terror against Sunni Arabs has a name, Abu Deraa. He's being called the "Shia Zarqawi" for organizing death squads to take revenge after Sunni Arab suicide bombs kill Shia. But Abu Deraa isn't the only Shia death squad leader. There are several, plus smaller ones from family or tribal groups organized to take vengeance for kin lost to Saddam's thugs. This desire for vengeance, and the unwillingness of Shia to fight Shia, has, until recently, allowed a low level civil war to go on unchecked. But now the Shia are ready to fight their own, and in the last week, Shia and Kurdish police and soldiers fought Shia radicals, led by men like Abu Deraa. The Sunni Arab community know Abu Deraa by name, and have even posted pictures of him. That hasn't changed anything, because Abu Deraa's death squads still roam central Iraq, killing Sunni Arabs. Several dozen died in Baghdad yesterday, pulled from their cars, identified as Sunni Arabs, and killed on the spot. But now, with Zarqawi dead, and most of the country at peace, more and more Sunni Arab tribal chiefs, politicians, business leaders and clerics are resigned to Shia domination. That means giving up the Sunni Arab warlords, gang leaders and terrorist chiefs, the people that make most of the violence happen. It's not like the Sunni Arab leadership can just push a button, and make their bad guys go away. In Arab culture, the process moves a lot more slowly, and involves lots of talking, coffee, promises, deceit and drama. Apparently the drama has been convincing, because the Shia politicians running the country have persuaded Shia military and police units to go after Shia death squads. All of this is going to take months to play out. There will be cries of "Betrayal!" from the Shia community. Some Shia cops and soldiers will balk at busting fellow Shia, even if the perps are stone killers with dozens of bodies on them. However, the national leadership has agreed that peace with the Sunni Arabs, and an end to the vengeance killings, is necessary. Making this happen is the next crucial battle in the war.

Now let's check out excerpts from an article in last Friday's NYT
BAGHDAD, July 7 — Iraqi soldiers backed by American troops and military aircraft stormed a building in a Shiite slum here early today, killing or wounding between 30 and 40 gunmen and capturing a high-level Shiite militia commander who is accused of attacking Iraqi and American troops, the American military command said.

American and Iraqi authorities did not disclose the name of the captured man they said was a militia commander. But residents of the neighborhood said the building that came under attack was a base of operations for a man known as Abu Deraa, a top commander of the Mahdi Army, the restless and potent Shiite militia that answers to the Shiite cleric Moktada al-Sadr....

....The American military command said they captured the intended target of their operation, as well as four other suspects. The main suspect, according to a press release, was the head of "multiple insurgent cells in Baghad," and is accused of attacking Iraqi and American government forces, kidnapping, torturing and killing Iraqi citizens, and smuggling weapons from Syria into Iraq "to reportedly facilitate his efforts to splinter away from his current insurgent organization."

....In an interview in Sadr City today, Wusam al-Bahadali, 28, a mid-level member of the Mahdi Army, denied that Abu Deraa had been detained during the raid, and said he remained at large.
These two articles tell us:
  • One of the main bad guys in Baghdad is Abu Deraa; The Shia Zarqawi
  • American and Iraqi forces attacked Deraa's base of operations
  • The intended target was captured
  • The main suspect was the head of "multiple insurgent cells"
  • A Mahdi member said Deraa had not been detained
  • The American and Iraqi authorities were not disclosing the name of the captured man
Ignoring the statement from the Mahdi spokesman (which is easy), my brain tells me that
We have captured Abu Deraa, THE SHIA ZARQAWI

Why are the American and Iraqi authorities are not disclosing who they caught? There is no obvious answer to this, but my best guess is that Abu Deraa is an alias name, and that the person is a close relative of a major figure in the Iraqi leadership.

Sunday, June 25, 2006

A Read on Maliki's Amnesty Plan

The Associated Press reports that Iraqi PM al-Maliki has offered a 24 point reconciliation plan to his Parliament. In his speech to that body he said:
"To those who want to rebuild our country, we present an olive branch ... And to those who insist on killing and terrorism, we present a fist with the power of law to protect our country and people", also

"The launch of this national reconciliation initiative should not be read as a reward for the killers and criminals or acceptance of their actions... There can be no agreement with them unless they face the justice."
According to the AP Al-Maliki also said the general amnesty would exclude "those who committed crimes against the Iraqi people."

I think, by looking at statements on June 14th and 15th, and the statements made today, we can see who the amnesty will involve, and come to some early conclusions as to the impact in the U.S. Looking back to WaPo articles on the 14th and 15th we can glean the following Iraqi descriptions of amnesty recipients (italics indicates descriptions made by or attributed to Maliki):
  • Those who had attacked only U.S. troops
  • The resistance, provided they have not been involved in killing Iraqis
  • Those whose hands weren't stained with Iraqi blood
  • Iraqi youth who believe the attacks as legitimate acts; resistance/defense of homeland
  • Not those who committed crimes against the Iraqi people
These descriptions can be explained, and all but the first are compatible, provided some of the terms are defined.
Iraqis/Iraqi blood/Iraqi people:

First, notice that these terms are all from statements attributed to Maliki himself. Second, it is important in this exercise to note that the first description above "Amnesty to those who had attacked only US troops" was roundly denounced by Maliki, resulting in the resignation of the aid who make the statement.

What definition would then, contradict the first description but apply to all the other descriptions? I propose that when Maliki refers to "Iraqis/Iraqi blood/Iraqi people" he is including all Iraqis except those in the Iraqi Security Forces (ISF); The Military of Iraq and The Police of Iraq.


As difficult as it is for Americans to accept, we have to consider that some of the enemy in Iraq were legitimate opposition forces. Those Iraqi military that fought us during the initial three weeks of the war were as legitimate as German and Japanese soldiers of WWII, and the Iraqis that only participated during that phase should be free from reprisal, as were Germans and Japanese who fought us. In fact I doubt the term amnesty would even apply since they did nothing considered illegal.

Now lets look at the enemy that our military has been facing since about the summer of 2003. The May 2006 Report to Congress: Measuring Stability and Security in Iraq describes the enemy in Iraq as a composite of three elements:

  • Rejectionists. Sunni and Shi’a Rejectionists use violence or coercion in an attempt to rid Iraq of Coalition forces. This element includes former regime members who continue to reject the Coalition and the Iraqi government.

  • Regime Loyalists. Saddam loyalists are no longer considered a significant threat to the MNF-I endstate and the Iraqi government. However, former regime members remain an important element involved in sustaining and enabling the violence in Iraq, using their former internal and external networks and military and intelligence expertise involving weapons and tactics. Saddamists are no longer relevant as a cohesive threat, having mostly splintered into Rejectionists or terrorist and foreign fighters.

  • Terrorists and Foreign Fighters. Terrorists and foreign fighters, although far fewer in number than the Rejectionists or former regime loyalists, conduct most of the high profile, high-casualty attacks and kidnappings. Many foreign fighters continue to arrive in Iraq via Syria, a flow that began with Syrian government assistance before and during Operation Iraqi Freedom. Al-Qaida in Iraq (AQI) is currently the dominant terrorist group in Iraq. They continue efforts to spark a self-sustaining cycle of ethno-sectarian violence in Iraq, but have so far failed in their endeavors. AQI pursues four broad lines of operation: anti-MNF-I, antigovernment, anti-Shi’a, and external operations. Ansar al Sunna (AS) is another significant, mostly indigenous, terrorist group that shares some goals with AQI. Because of similar agendas, AQI and AS tend to cooperate on the tactical and operational levels. Most recently, there have been indications of cooperation between AQI and Rejectionists as well. It is estimated that 90% of suicide attacks are carried out by AQI.

Of the three groups, terrorists and foreign fighters pose the most serious and immediate threat. And I suspect the final Iraqi definition of criminal will be limited to this element.

The definition of criminal will be an Iraqi decision, but according to the WaPo articles linked above, they are making the decision in consultation with the USA, and so far there has been agreement.
So there you have it. In my opinion the amnesty will be for the rejectionists and saddam loyalists who have not killed or maimed Iraqi civilians; ISF casualties and Coalition casualties are fair game.

This amnesty will be backed by our military and the Bush administration, but not the Democrats in Congress. Last week, when it was reported that the Iraqis would give amnesty to those who had only attacked US troops, the Democrats in Congress saw an opening to attack Bush and introduced a resolution attacking the idea. And I suspect it will do so again if the amnesty is as I opined.

I hope though, that everybody will back the Iraqis and Bush on this. The Sunni Insurgents, as part of the deal, will have to formally surrender; give up their arms and pledge an end to acts of violence. It will bring a clear end to the conflict, and an earlier trip home and fewer casualties for our troops.

This process may be hard to swallow for some Americans, but it has worked successfully in past wars. It may be a capitulation to some values, but there are times when the end is worth the means; an example being the atomic bombing of Hiroshima, which was done to save lives.

Update: According to the BBC the published plan presented by Maliki to the Assembly of Representatives on Sunday describes amnesty as follows:
Amnesty for detainees not involved in terrorist acts, war crimes or crimes against humanity, as long as they condemn violence and pledge to respect the law

The exclusion of those who have committed war crimes and crimes against humanity has been added. And also, why is the word "detainee" used? What would be the status of people who have been charged but not caught? Or those who have attacked the military or even civilians but not yet charged or caught. The outcome for thse people is not addressed anywhere in the plan and the logical conclusion is that they will be ignored; they will remain free provided they comply with the plan after it is signed.

My final definition of Maliki's amnesty is:

Amnesty will be for detained rejectionists and saddam loyalists who have not intentially killed or maimed Iraqi civilians. Attacks resulting in ISF and Coalition casualties are fair game provided war crimes or crimes against humanity were not committed. And those who are not already in prison will not be pursued, regardless of their past crimes.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Upset Looming in the Midwest

Michigan Democratic Senator Debbie Stabenow is considered by the press and pundits to be a shoe-in for re-election to the US Senate; she had been leading all contenders by 13-25 %, depending on which Republican candidate she is matched against and which poll your looking at, but her lead is now 8.1% in the latest Zogby poll. And her lead will not last; the press/pundits are missing the following clues to what lies ahead:
  • Union households in Michigan, which usually vote Democrat, will now vote for the Republican candidate for governor according to a recent Detroit News/WXYZ-TV poll.
  • This turn is reminiscent of the Reagan Democrats, typified by the blue collar community of Macomb County, which is next-door to Oakland County, which has a wildly popular sheriff by the name of Michael Bouchard.
  • Bouchard is currently in the Republican primary for U.S. senator and is leading in the polls despite a late decision in November 05 to run. His credentials include leadership positions in the Michgan Senate and now, as sheriff of Oakland County, a leading role in homeland security and the war on terror. He has a history of being tough on criminals.
  • If he wins the GOP primary as expected, he will start getting more attention and will be seen as being allied with the interests of the Reagan Democrats. He will team with the popular Republican candidate for governor, Dick DeVos and together they will be able to conduct a strong campaign.
  • Bouchard will be running against a vulnerable Democrat (Stabenow) in the areas of homeland security, taxes, spending, family values, and immigration.