Monday, March 23, 2009

No Place to Hide

According to the LA Times the Obama administration is continuing the Bush policy of attacking al Qaeda leadership in Pakistan. The Bush policy underwent an important revision last summer and since then has been very successful in severely weakening al Qaeda.

Here are some excerpts from the Times' article:

An intense, six-month campaign of Predator strikes in Pakistan has taken such a toll on Al Qaeda that militants have begun turning violently on one another out of confusion and distrust, U.S. intelligence and counter-terrorism officials say.

The pace of the Predator attacks has accelerated dramatically since August, when the Bush administration made a previously undisclosed decision to abandon the practice of obtaining permission from the Pakistani government before launching missiles from the unmanned aircraft.

Because of its success, the Obama administration is set to continue the accelerated campaign despite civilian casualties that have fueled anti-U.S. sentiment and prompted protests from the Pakistani government.

"This last year has been a very hard year for them," a senior U.S. counter-terrorism official said of al Qaeda militants, whose operations he tracks in northwest Pakistan. "They're losing a bunch of their better leaders. But more importantly, at this point they're wondering who's next."

U.S. intelligence officials said they see clear signs that the Predator strikes are sowing distrust within Al Qaeda. "They have started hunting down people who they think are responsible" for security breaches, the senior U.S. counter-terrorism official said, discussing intelligence assessments on condition of anonymity. "People are showing up dead or disappearing."

But the Predator campaign has depleted the organization's operational tier. Many of the dead are longtime loyalists who had worked alongside Bin Laden and were part of the network's hasty migration into Pakistan in 2001 after U.S.-led forces invaded neighboring Afghanistan. They are being replaced by less experienced recruits who have had little, if any, history with Bin Laden and Zawahiri.

The offensive has been aided by technological advances and an expansion of the CIA's Predator fleet. The drones take off and land at military airstrips in Pakistan, but are operated by CIA pilots in the United States. Some of the pilots -- who also pull the triggers on missiles -- are contractors hired by the agency, former officials said.

The Bush administration had been constrained by its close ties with Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf, who argued against aggressive U.S. action. But by last summer, after a series of disrupted terrorist plots in Europe had been traced to Pakistan, there were calls for a new approach.

The breaking point came when Musharraf was forced to resign mid-August, officials said. Within days, President Bush had approved the new rules: Rather than requiring Pakistan's permission to order a Predator strike, the agency was allowed to shoot first.

The success of the Predator campaign has prompted some counter-terrorism officials to speak of a post-Al Qaeda era in which its regional affiliates -- in North Africa and elsewhere -- are all that remain after the center collapses.

"You can imagine a horizon in which Al Qaeda proper no longer exists," said Juan Zarate, former counter-terrorism advisor to Bush. "If you were to continue on this pace, and get No. 1 and No. 2, Al Qaeda is dead. You can't resuscitate that organization as we know it without its senior leadership."

There are more details at the link. I believe President Obama is doing the right thing by pursuing this course of action, but I have to wonder - is this what the pacifist left had in mind when they cast their troth with the young Senator from Chicago?


Bailing Out the Rich

Thomas Sowell notes that the administration's mortgage bailout plan would rescue people defaulting on mortgages valued upwards of $729,000. Think about that.

Compassion is helping those less fortunate, but for the President compassion means you helping those much more fortunate, or irresponsible, than you. How many of us would even think of buying a house for three quarters of a million dollars?

Maybe you live in a modest home or in an apartment because you can't afford a home. No matter. You're required to help those who purchased a $730 thousand dollar house, but who defaulted on their payments, stay in their home. This is evidently the current administration's idea of sharing the burden.

Bush was severely criticized for giving tax cuts to people who pay taxes, i.e. the top 60% or so of wage earners. We were told that this amounted to a transfer of wealth from the lower classes to the rich. This was, of course, false. No wealth was transferred. People were simply allowed to keep more of what they earned.

To see a real transfer of wealth from the middle class to the upper class one should look at Obama's mortgage bailout plan.


Atheism and the French Terror

We've sometimes argued here that a nation that spurns the Judeo-Christian God leaves itself no ground upon which to stand when making moral judgments. There may be the odd exception, of course, but a state whose moral pilings are not sunk into Divine law will sooner or later subside into dissolution and avarice and perhaps into violence and bloodthirstiness. Moreover, the more self-consciously secular or atheistic a nation becomes the deeper it will descend into this amoral mire. At least this has been the history of the twentieth century, but it's not just a phenomenon of the twentieth century.

Perhaps the paradigmatic example of the slide into degeneracy that results from a conscious rejection of a theistic foundation for morality is the terror that followed the French Revolution of 1789.

The revolutionaries were uncompromising atheists intent on fulfilling the hope attributed to the French philosopher Denis Diderot who was said to have exclaimed that he longed to see the day when the last king would be strangled with the entrails of the last priest.

Inspired by men like Diderot and Rousseau the French set about trying to establish a state in which the influence of the Church was expunged and priests were executed. The horror that followed the Revolution of 1789 is hard to imagine. Lacking any transcendent constraint upon their hatreds and passions the French authorities wallowed in an orgy of horrific bloodshed.

In the course of nine months some 16,000 men, women, children, and even infants were sent to the guillotine. Some 40,000 more died as a result of being whipped, branded, broken on the wheel, mutilated, or otherwise abused. On one day 800 people were hacked to death, and on another 500 children were taken to a meadow where they were systematically clubbed to death. River barges were laden with people and pushed out into the river where they were sunk, drowning all on board.

The 20th century witnessed similar horrors perpetrated by communists who, in the name of state atheism, murdered over 100 million people, and atheistic or pantheistic Nazis who in the name of socialism and racial purity murdered another 6 million. The fruit of a consistent secularism is a "might-makes-right" ethic, which leads to the dehumanization of the other, which, in turn, leads to the guillotine and the abattoir.

Those who despise theism and the Church and wish to be rid of them need to give serious thought to exactly what would likely take their place.