Saturday, November 4, 2006

The Bush Plan

Bob Casey, Democratic candidate for U.S. Senate in Pennsylvania, was asked recently what he would do differently than Rick Santorum to promote success in Iraq. He replied that the first thing would be to get rid of Don Rumsfeld. Firing a cabinet secretary, of course, is not within the power of a senator so it's not something that distinguishes Mr. Casey from Mr. Santorum. Even so, it appears that Mr. Casey has no recommendations for Iraq that differ substantially from what the Bush administration is already doing there, unless he believes we should withdraw from Iraq immediately. This, however, he does not say, so his plan appears to be essentially to do what Bush is already doing, except do it better, whatever that means.

What is the Bush policy for Iraq? Do the Bush people really have a strategy? I think they do, but for whatever reason they're not very interested in articulating it. Their plan, as best as I can tell, involves the following four elements:

1. Hold the lid on in Baghdad for the time being. Most of the violence that is occurring in Iraq is occurring in and around Baghdad. There are two reasons for this. The coalition has been effective in suppressing the insurgency in much of the rest of the country, and second, the insurgency knows that if they're going to break the will of the American people they have to strike where the American media are.

2. Gradually secure the border (would that that were part of their domestic plan as well). As long as the insurgents are able to be resupplied across the Iranian and Syrian borders destabilization efforts by those neighbors will continue. The infiltration of men and material has to be stopped, but this takes time. Once the border is secured the insurgency in Baghdad will begin to suffocate.

3. Continue to build and protect the infrastructure of the country so that the people have a sense of being better off than they were under Saddam. This means, in addition to building schools, hospitals, electrical grids, etc., supporting the government of Iraq until it is strong enough to withstand the sundry threats to its existence.

4. In the long-term Syria and Iran must be dealt with. Until they are they will continue to make the lives of the Iraqis as hellish as they possibly can.

That's what I surmise the Bush plan to be, and I think that's what they're doing. Indeed, what else could they do short of nuking the entire country? Certainly none of the Democrats have offered an alternative course of action that makes any sense. I just wish the administration had a better PR program to explain their goals to the American people, and I wish they had more troops there to help expedite #1 and #2.

If the Democrats win the House and/or Senate on Tuesday it will, of course, be very much more difficult, if not impossible, to achieve these objectives, and, if they're rendered unattainable, the only recourse will be to withdraw. Withdrawal, however, would precipitate an unmitigated human disaster. The reasons why this would be so are explained here.

Israel Will Go To War Again. Soon.

John Keegan predicts in The Telegraph U.K. that before the year is out Israel will again be at war with Hezbollah, and this time it will be for keeps.

There will soon be another war in the Middle East, this time a renewal of the conflict between the Israel Defence Force (IDF) and Hizbollah. The conflict is inevitable and unavoidable. It will come about because Israel cannot tolerate the rebuilding of Hizbollah's fortified zone in south Lebanon, from which last year it launched its missile bombardment of northern Israel.

Hizbollah has now reconstructed the fortified zone and is replenishing its stocks of missiles there. Hamas is also creating a fortified zone in the Gaza Strip and building up its stocks of missiles. Israel, therefore, faces missile attack on two fronts. When the Israel general staff decides the threat has become intolerable, it will strike.

What happened in south Lebanon earlier this year has been widely misunderstood, largely because the anti-Israel bias in the international media led to the situation being misreported as an Israeli defeat.

It was no such thing. It was certainly an Israeli setback, but the idea that the IDF had suddenly lost its historic superiority over its Arab enemies and that they had acquired military qualities that had hitherto eluded them was quite false. Hizbollah suffered heavy losses in the fighting, perhaps as many as 1,000 killed out of its strength of up to 5,000 and it is only just now recovering.

Read why Keegan thinks a return to fighting is inevitable and imminent at the link.

It Must Stop Now

Everyone has by now heard of the allegations against Ted Haggard, pastor of New Life Church and president of the National Association of Evangelicals. It appears that the charges are true although the person who made them has nevertheless failed a polygraph test.

Whatever the case, if they are found to be factually correct then Mr. Haggard has done immeasurable harm to his family, his church, and to Christians everywhere. By maintaining a secret lifestyle steeped in sleaze, perversion, and illegal behavior he has brought discredit to everyone who calls him or herself a Christian and has done irreparable harm to the cause of keeping marriage a union of one man and one woman.

Much will be written about Mr. Haggard's hypocrisy in the days ahead but at this point the most important thing to be said, in my view, is that Christian leaders need to understand that if they are living lives that are a reproach to the principles they claim to cherish they must step down from their position of authority immediately. This goes for pastors and priests, parachurch ministry leaders, anyone, in fact, whose life is disgracing the name and body of Christ.

None of us is perfect. All of us have faults, but when our faults are such as to bring derision upon the Church we claim to love and serve, when our appetites are so undisciplined that we give the gospel of Christ a kick to the solar plexus, or worse, when we are found out, we have a moral obligation to step down from our pedestals until we get ourselves straightened out whether our derelictions have been discovered or not.

The image of the Church has suffered severely from the adulteries of the Jimmy Swaggarts and Jim Bakkers, and the pederastic abuses of dozens of priests over the last couple of decades. It has to stop, there has to be zero tolerance of such behavior among our putative leaders, and those who compromise the witness of the Church by living lives of debauchery while maintaining a facade of piety need to recognize the serious harm they are doing and need to withdraw themselves as models of Christian man and womanhood. Now.