Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Trends in Global Terrorism: Implications for the United States

Click HERE to read the recently declassified National Intelligence Estimate "Trends in Global Terrorism: Implications for the United States

(pdf) Format available courtesy the Washington Post

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Terrorists are at war with democracy

By Cliff Knizley

Coimbatore Iswaran's Sept. 9 Speaking Out, titled "Bush's actions ensure danger" is a dumbfounding take on the worldwide threat of Islamic terrorism. He ignores history and the terrorist's own words and makes arguments unrivaled in their naivete.

Iswaran's Indian heritage doesn't prevent his descent into the pseudo intellectual drivel of the Western leftist. He quotes obscure poets, cites historical anecdotes and throws around SAT words like nobody's business. None of this saves him from sounding completely detached from reality.

The basic premise is an old one, President Bush's policies have created a proliferation of Islamic terrorism. In Iswaran's world, "Bush's war on terror" has "awakened the enemy and assured the possibility of a dastardly act." One week away from Sept. 11 strikes me as an unusual time to make such a statement.

Iswaran contends that prior to Bush's policies, terrorists "attacked haphazardly." Two rather large craters in downtown Manhattan provide a potent rebuttal to this asinine idea. Those craters were the result of years of planning, not exactly a haphazard attack. The fact that these same terrorists attempted to create those craters in 1993 is lost on Iswaran, who describes the terrorists' strategy as "do not resist the conquerer overtly." He should float that theory by the survivors of the attacks on the Khobar Towers and the U.S.S. Cole. Those attacks occurred years before Bush was president and define the term overt.

Iswaran claims that contrary to Bush's statements, terrorists "love freedom and democracy." No doubt it was this great love that motivated al-Qaeda's decision to set up shop in that bastion of freedom known as Taliban-controlled Afghanistan. Perhaps he should read the words of the late terrorist Zarqawi who said, "We are at war with democracy, which allows one to chose their religion and is an affront to God." Iswaran then states, "Terrorism flourishes in lawless societies with weak governments."

This is not a Webster's definition of the terrorist's beloved democracy.

Iswaran takes a typical shot at the Patriot Act claiming that Bush is "curtailing our freedom." He conveniently fails to provide any part of the act or its usage that would support this claim and I doubt it has affected him personally.

He then states that Bush has "deliberately weakened the Iraqi government and refused to strengthen the Afghanistan government." Removing totalitarian regimes and attempting to support constitutional democracies seems like a strange way to "weaken" a country, but then again, I may not have Iswaran's sources.

According to Iswaran, Bush has "managed to polarize America." Maybe he was still in India during the polarizing 2000 election. He also blames Bush for his contention that "as a Middle Eastern looking individual," suspicious looks are often cast his way. Perhaps those democracy loving terrorists who created those craters might have some responsibility as well!

He then blames Tony Blair's position as a "Bush lackey" for the terrorism which continues to threaten Britain. I read further hoping to learn why Iswaran's homeland of India was recently attacked, but was disappointed.

Finally Iswaran claims that "fear is the biggest enemy of civilized society." I'd suggest that terrorists with nukes is a greater enemy, but I've probably fallen victim to Bush's "fear mongering."

Iswaran will not fall victim to fear. So fearless is he, that he refuses to lock his car at the mall. He's concerned he might lock his keys inside.

The fact that he has replaced one fear with another escapes our intrepid hero. But it does yield an interesting analogy.

The car could represent our national security. Israwan's policy to leave his unlocked ignores the reality of evil men with nefarious plans. My policy is to lock the car and hope law enforcement removes criminals from the streets. My car may not be completely safe, but it's certainly more safe than Israwan's. And in the event my car is stolen, would it be due to the fact that it was locked?

Cliff is a good friend and creator of Letters to Baghdad: A Tribute to Our Troops. He's a squared away American.

Monday, September 11, 2006

The Free World Speaks

Tonight, the President of the United States told America and the world what our United States are doing and must continue to do to preserve our way of life. I only hope America was listening... I know our enemies were.

Excerpts from the text of President Bush's address to the nation on the fifth anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks, as provided by the White House:

On the heroism of Americans: "On 9/11, our nation saw the face of evil. Yet on that awful day, we also witnessed something distinctly American: ordinary citizens rising to the occasion, and responding with extraordinary acts of courage."

On the ongoing terrorist threat:
"We face an enemy determined to bring death and suffering into our homes. America did not ask for this war, and every American wishes it were over. So do I. But the war is not over, and it will not be over until either we or the extremists emerge victorious. If we do not defeat these enemies now, we will leave our children to face a Middle East overrun by terrorist states and radical dictators armed with nuclear weapons. We are in a war that will set the course for this new century and determine the destiny of millions across the world."

On what is at stake:
"This struggle has been called a clash of civilizations. In truth, it is a struggle for civilization. We are fighting to maintain the way of life enjoyed by free nations. And we are fighting for the possibility that good and decent people across the Middle East can raise up societies based on freedom, and tolerance, and personal dignity."

On democratic reform in the Middle East:
"By standing with democratic leaders and reformers, by giving voice to the hopes of decent men and women, we are offering a path away from radicalism. And we are enlisting the most powerful force for peace and moderation in the Middle East: The desire of millions to be free."

On working together to win the war on terror:
"Our nation has endured trials, and we face a difficult road ahead. Winning this war will require the determined efforts of a unified country. So we must put aside our differences, and work together to meet the test that history has given us. We will defeat our enemies, we will protect our people, and we will lead the 21st century into a shining age of human liberty."

Source: The Associated Press

Our Nation has made great sacrifices in the last few years, but it hasn't been without great successes. I appreciated the President's reference to the generations that have come before us and met victory despite extraordinary obstacles. We now stand at the brink of American survival or suffocation. Our preservation is ours to lose. If America is fragile it is not because of our enemies, but because of the apathetic and complacent among us. We must stay the course. We must persevere. The life of the free world depends on it.

More than 5000 terrorists killed or captured!

"In five years, more than 5,000 terrorists have been captured or killed." - Statement to Employees by Central Intelligence Agency Director Gen. Michael V. Hayden on the
Fifth Anniversary of 9/11, 11 September 2006.

Message from CIA Director

Let's make sure that number continues to grow... and grow and grow and grow!

Saturday, September 09, 2006

Staying the Course in Iraq

Since its invasion of Iraq over three years ago, the United States has ridden a public opinion roller coaster. Pundits and armchair generals alike are quick to presume complete failure if even one aspect of an extremely intricate mission seems challenging. However, it is important to acknowledge that the task of altering the course of a nation is an extremely complex and in-depth objective. America has rebuilt Iraq’s schools, hospitals, infrastructure, economy and government in only three years and cannot stop now.

Some of the most substantial and recognizable improvements have been to Iraq’s infrastructure. Since America’s invasion over 2300 schools have been rehabilitated and constructed and are being fitted with over 8.7 million new textbooks (USAID, 2006). The U.S. believes that the children of Iraq are the future of the Middle East. It is important that all Iraqi children are given the opportunity to receive a well balanced and unbiased education, covering the core subjects as well as technological familiarization, hygiene and individual rights.

Only a few years ago Iraq’s health care was nearly the worst in the region. Since the invasion, the U.S. has spent over $600 million to assist Iraq’s Ministry of Health (USAID, 2006). Better nutrition as well as open access to healthcare for the first time in decades has made substantial improvements. Over 3.2 million children under the age of five have received vaccinations (USAID, 2006). These vaccinations are expected to reduce the child mortality rate. Instilling proper health habits with Iraq’s youth and educating mothers on proper nutrition habits will continue to have positive effects on Iraq’s health over all.

The United States has also helped Iraq hold some of their first legitimate democratic elections. Despite the security concerns, over 70% of eligible voters turned out in the December 2006 election (Saban Center Iraq Index, 2006). This strong turnout proves the people of Iraq are ready for change. Coalition forces put forth astounding efforts to educate the public on the democratic process. Over 1.5 million election publications were distributed throughout the country (USAID, 2006). On Election Day, the Iraqi people waved their purple stained fingers in the air with pride to show they had voted. They are presently being led by a government they elected to represent them.

Throughout Saddam’s reign and with the Coalition invasion many of Iraq’s roads and bridges were disabled. One of the first initiatives after the invasion was to rebuild Iraq’s busiest bridges and interstates in some of Iraq’s largest cities. Doing so has increased the flow of traffic and substantially reduced traffic accidents. The reduced traffic congestion has also helped Iraq’s new first responders and Iraqi police arrive at emergencies much faster.

Iraq’s economic policy in early 2003 was in a devastating state. There was corruption and lack of education widespread in both the private sector as well as within Iraq’s ministries. The U.S. has assisted in training government leaders in economic policy and helped create a national economic strategy. In 2003 Iraq’s Ministry of Finance introduced the new Iraqi dinar which now has over 4.62 trillion in circulation (USAID, 2006). Oil revenues have gone up astronomically, from $2 million in June 2003 to $62.6 billion in July 2006 (Saban Center Iraq Index, 2006). More and more Iraqis are able to open businesses. Unemployment decreased from 60% in June 2003 down to 25% a year later, and continues to drop substantially helping the security situation (Saban Center Iraq Index, 2006).

Iraq has also seen substantial increases in the quality and numbers of their security forces. Both the Iraqi police and the Iraqi Army are making continuous strides in their tactical abilities and their discipline. The U.S. has installed very thorough training programs for the varying types of military and police forces in Iraq. The Coalition Military Assistance Training Team has been instrumental in training the Iraqi Ministry of Defense at all levels. The Civilian Police Assistance Training Team provides a similar role and is made up of American Military Police personnel. Coalition Military Assistance Training Team and Civilian Police Assistance Training Team provide training throughout the entire development of the organization, turning recruits off of the street into a combat force ready for security responsibilities on some of Iraq’s most dangerous streets (Multi National Forces Iraq, 2006).

The Iraqi Army and Police forces are having continuing success with their recruiting and retention. There is always an abundance of passionate and willing volunteers to join the forces. In Baghdad alone there are over 42,000 Iraqi security forces with thousands volunteering daily throughout the country (Multi National Forces Iraq, 2006). The U.S. is currently working to make these forces more self-sustaining. While Iraqi forces are taking on more and more roles in combat operations, they are still working on being able to provide their own essential support functions.

In less time than it takes the United States to make one military officer, a nation has been liberated and is making enormous strides towards independence. Now more than ever the American-led coalition needs unilateral support for its efforts in Iraq.

A premature pull-out would have devastating effects. A lack of substantial security presence would trigger a series of tragic events as has been seen in Rwanda, Somalia and Afghanistan. Initially the crime rates would begin to rise. Not necessarily organized crime, but every day theft, homicide and assaults. As crime began to spin out of control, the varying sects of Islam in the region would begin to fight for control of the country. Funding and influence from Iran, Syria, Jordan and varying organizations such as Al Qaeda and Hezbollah would certainly contribute. The opportunity to have a geographic region to base international operations out of is very enticing to many up and coming terrorist organizations, such as Afghanistan was to the Taliban.

The Iraqi people would be caught in the middle of this chaos. The economy would probably crumble first, initiating a domino effect leading to teachers and health care professionals slowly dwindling away for fear of their safety. Businesses would begin to either close or be forced to pay for their protection to an insurgency group. Eventually, the threat of this region to the west would be greater than it is now or ever was. Thousands upon thousands of Iraqi people would be slaughtered in civil war.

The United States is certainly on the right track. No mission of this size ever gets accomplished problem free. The American people need to realize that a country cannot be liberated over night. America must stay the course. Too much has already been sacrificed and accomplished to disregard the successes made up until this point. The future of Iraq is promising... if the American people want it to be.