Monday, September 13, 2004

One Iraqi's Plea

This piece by Ali at Iraq The Model should be read by everyone who thinks that all we're accomplishing by our presence in Iraq is spawning more terrorists. He starts off by discussing his theory as to why suicide bombings in Iraq decline while al Sadr is fighting and pick up when he's not, and then predicts that attacks against Americans in Iraq will increase as we get closer to our election but that attacks against American civilians will diminish as the elections approach. His reason is that mounting losses of troops will help Kerry, but terrorist attacks against civilians will help Bush. The insurgents and their allies want Kerry to win and so will not do anything that might unite the nation behind Bush.

Then in his last three paragraphs Ali makes a poignant plea in less than perfect English for America to remain steadfast and reminds us of what is at stake:

Most people supporting the resistance think that if Kerry wins he will pull the troops out of Iraq, or that's what they wish. They know that the decisive factor in this is the American's casualty, and that shifts their priorities now. They are betting that if they can inflict more losses among American soldiers, American public opinion will favor getting out of Iraq soon and will vote for John Kerry because they (Americans) probably think that too, and that with such public pressure he would find himself more committed to promises he never even made, but gave some impression that he's at least considering it. The assumption that Americans would pull out of Iraq if they receive heavy casualties is an old one that had stopped looking possible for quite a time, but now with the strong coverage by the media for the losses in Iraq and with the figure 1000 coming up every now and then together with unclear messages from the Kerry camp, the theory has been revived. The bottom line is that with Kerry they think they have a chance but with Bush there is none.

I don't want to predict anything here but I want to say that if America decided to get out of Iraq before the job is finished, that will be not only disastrous but will be (in my opinion) the worst thing America ever did. Freeing Iraq (again in my opinion) was the best thing America ever did. It gave oppressed people everywhere a hope and a belief that the mightiest power on earth, the symbols of freedom is on their side and that it will help them in one way or another to get their freedom. Their misery has stopped looking eternal. Retreating now will prove some people's theory that America is an imperialistic power that only care for its interests, and although there's nothing wrong with caring about one's own interests, most Iraqis and millions of oppressed people in Darfur, Iran, Syria...etc. like to think more than that of America. Keeping the course will turn this thought into a firm belief.

We understand perfectly that sacrificing lives and hard earned money for the sake of others (although there IS a personal interest here but it maybe not so clear) is a very difficult thing to do, and we know that it's too much to ask, but tens of Millions of oppressed people around the world with brutal sadistic regimes laying their heave boots on their chests preventing them from even breathing freely, not to mention speaking out or doing something about it, all these people have no one else but you, Americans, to turn to. You are our/their only hope.

God help us if we let them down.

Pride Goeth Before a Fall

This essay at Power Line on the fallout from the apparent attempt by CBS to discredit President Bush by proffering amateurish forgeries as legitimate documents indicting his National Guard service is worth reproducing here in full:

Before September 11, important aspects of our security arrangements were based on the assumption that people, even terrorists, want to live. For example, airlines followed the rule that if a passenger's bags were checked but the person failed to appear for the flight, his bags would be removed from the airplane. The idea was that a bomb could have been planted in the luggage. But as long as the passenger was on the airplane, it was assumed that his bags were safe, since no one -- it was thought -- would blow up an airplane with himself on it. After September 11, security arrangements were changed to take into account the new reality (or newly recognized reality) of the suicide bomber.

When he defended CBS's publication of forged documents, Dan Rather spoke of the "checks and balances" that ensure the reliability of news coming from CBS, as opposed to news and commentary from the blogosphere. What are those checks and balances? Ultimately, the main check on the danger that a powerful media giant like CBS might abuse its position of trust by deliberately propagating falsehoods is the assumption that the network values its reputation for accuracy and trustworthiness. In the past, most people have assumed that while broadcast networks, wire services like the Associated Press, and newspapers will occasionally make mistakes, and will certainly spin the news consistent with their political biases, concern for their reputation in the marketplace, and even more among their peers, would prevent them from spreading outright falsehoods.

In the wake of the CBS scandal, that assumption must be reevaluated.

I don't know how the forged document scandal will ultimately play out. I don't know whether CBS will be forced to acknowledge that the documents are fakes, or whether Dan Rather will resign in disgrace. But I do know this: everyone who cares already knows that the "Killian memos" are low-quality forgeries.

Very few Americans are news junkies. Most people will probably never know about the CBS scandal, or will never have enough information to form a judgment about it. For that matter, most don't care. But within the news business, and inside the relatively small slice of the American population where sophisticated consumers of the news dwell, everyone knows, already, that Dan Rather and CBS News tried to influence the November election by telling lies and publishing forged documents. CBS has been disgraced among its peers.

The fact that CBS was willing to barter away what remained of its reputation in exchange for an opportunity to help the John Kerry campaign requires us to re-examine our assumptions about the mainstream media, just as the emergence of the suicide bomber required us to re-examine certain assumptions about security. We never thought that a vast, powerful broadcast network would destroy its own reputation for political gain. Now we know that it can happen.

And it isn't just CBS News. The Associated Press has, for most of its history, been regarded as a neutral, factual reporting service whose dispatches--reporting, not commentary--could be trusted, and were trusted, by thousands of newspapers. That, too, has changed. We have chronicled the astonishing story of the West Allis, Wisconsin Bush rally, where President Bush announced that he had just received word of President Clinton's hospitalization. President Bush said that his thoughts and prayers were with the Clinton family, and the audience of Republicans cheered enthusiastically.

But that isn't what the Associated Press reported. AP reporter Scott Lindlaw, in an article carrying the by-line of Tom Hays, fabricated a lie. The AP reported that Bush's "audience of thousands booed. Bush did nothing to stop them." That lie was disseminated to thousands of newspapers and television stations, and while a revised version of the story was later issued, the AP has never apologized, explained what happened, or disciplined either Lindlaw or Hays. What is remarkable, under pre-2004 assumptions, is that the lie was so easily uncovered and proved. Thousands of people were present at the rally, including many reporters. Audiotapes and videotapes of the rally were easily available. They showed, beyond a doubt, that the AP's story was a lie. No one booed. Yet Lindlaw, Hays and the AP retailed the lie because they thought it would help John Kerry. Scott Lindlaw has been quoted as saying, "My mission is to see that Bush is not re-elected." He and his employer gladly sacrificed their reputation for accuracy to achieve that goal.

So we have entered a new era. We now know that our richest and most powerful news organizations are willing to blow themselves up - to destroy their own credibility, once considered a news organization's most precious possession - to achieve a political goal. The landscape will never look quite the same again. Those of us who still value truth must look at the mainstream media in a new, more skeptical and critical way, taking nothing for granted. Because, like suicide bombers, the mainstream news organs will go farther to achieve their political goals than we ever imagined.

CBS wanted so desperately for those documents to be genuine that they suppressed their doubts and ran with them. Now it has all blown up in their faces, torn away the pretense of journalistic "standards", and has ruined reputations that took decades to build. It's ironic that President Nixon's nemesis, Dan Rather, is perhaps the biggest casualty. The irony resides in the fact that Nixon was disgraced mostly because he would not come clean to the American public over Watergate. In his hubris he stone-walled investigations until finally his credibility lay in tatters on the Oval Office floor, cut to ribbons by, among others, Dan Rather. Now Mr. Rather, no stranger to hubris himself, seems to have stumbled into the same deadly pit and may, perhaps, suffer a similar fate. Pride indeed goeth before a fall.

Straining Gnats

Nina Shea adds some perspective to the American response to the Dharfur genocide in a fine piece at National Review Online. Here is a portion of her essay:

On Thursday, the United States made human-rights history. Secretary of State Colin Powell, testifying to a packed Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing room on Thursday morning, reported that in July the United States had launched an investigation into charges that the Arab Islamist government of Sudan and its proxy militia of Arab tribesmen, known as the Janjaweed, were responsible for carrying out atrocities against the three African tribes of Sudan's western province of Darfur. He said that despite denials and attempts to obfuscate by Khartoum, the investigative team found "a consistent and widespread pattern of atrocities (killings, rapes and burning of villages)" against the non-Arab villagers and that 74 percent of those victims interviewed reported that the Sudanese military forces were involved in the attacks. Powell's next statement was breathtaking: "[T]he evidence leads us to the conclusion that genocide has occurred and may still be occurring in Darfur. We believe the evidence corroborates the specific intent of the perpetrators to destroy 'a group in whole or in part'. This intent may be inferred from their deliberate conduct. We believe the other elements of the convention have been met as well."

The significance of the administration's action cannot be overstated. This marks the first instance that a party to the 1948 Genocide Convention, the most fundamental of all human-rights treaties, has formally charged another party with "genocide" and invoked the convention's provisions while genocide has been in progress. In the past, the convention and the term "genocide" have been applied only retroactively by state parties, long after the violence ended. Former President Bill Clinton underscored this recently when he apologized for his administration's inaction to stop the 1994 genocidal massacres of the Tutsis in Rwanda.

Moreover, in taking efforts to stop the genocide, the administration is going well beyond what is required under international law. The convention does not require parties to take any specific action other than to end their own responsibility for the human destruction. Nevertheless, the United States is taking the lead in trying to rally the international community to exert pressure on Khartoum, all the while continuing America's unilateral economic sanctions.

The United States is also providing some 80 percent of the humanitarian aid and other support to keep Darfur's 1.5 million refugees alive. While many other nations have so far failed to make good on their pledges, the U.S. is exceeding its aid commitment.

The entire article bears careful reading. As I read through it one question that came to mind was, Where are all the millions of protestors who were so concerned about the welfare of Iraqis prior to Operation Iraqi Freedom? Why are they not overflowing the streets of European and American cities demanding an immediate end to the genocide? Is it because the victims are black? Is it because they're Christians? Or is it because the left doesn't really care about oppressed people at all unless they can be used as a cudgel to beat the United States over the head with? Take your pick.

Then a second question occured to me as I reflected upon this awful situation. If it should require that we insert military forces into Sudan to bring about an end to the slaughter being perpetrated by the Islamic government in Khartoum, would the left object? Or would they argue, like they did before, during, and since OIF, that we have no business jeopardizing the lives of innocent civilians in order to save them from being murdered by their oppressors? Elie Wiesel, in giving his acceptance speech for the 1986 Nobel Peace Prize, said this:

"Sometimes we must interfere. When human lives are endangered, when human dignity is in jeopardy, national borders and sensitivities become irrelevant. Whenever men or women are persecuted because of their race, religion or political views, that place must - at that moment - become the center of the universe."

If only the New York Times and the Washington Post read Wiesel.

A final question: Will Bush get credit for this historic demarche from his leftist critics in the MSM? The answer here is easy: Probably not. The liberal elite media is following their marching orders from the DNC and has become riveted, like a cat fixated on a moth fluttering around the ceiling, on Bush's National Guard service of thirty three years ago. They can't allow themselves to be distracted by the extraordinary events taking place in the world today as long as there's a chance that they'll be able to discredit Bush with his supposed National Guard derelictions. These are the sort of people Christ referred to when he spoke of straining out gnats while swallowing camels.

Confronted with a man who has accomplished the extraordinary feat of liberating 50 million people while simultaneously waging a global war on terror and pulling us through an inherited recession that was pushed even deeper by the devastating blows of 9/11, the media carps not about his current deficiencies, whatever they may be, but instead they obsess over whether he showed up for every one of his weekend Guard meetings more than three decades ago. These are not serious people, some of them may even be teetering on the brink of psychological pathology, but in any event they are certainly not the sort we want advising us on matters of great moment in the years ahead.