Category Archive 'George W. Bush'
17 Aug 2016

Louisiana Flooding Again

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LouisianaFlooding

20 Apr 2015

“Osama Won”

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BinLadin

David Samuels, in an important essay, argues that Osama bin Laden out-strategized a series of dimbulb American administrations, astutely predicting precisely how they would respond.

judging from his last known private letter, dated April 25, 2011, Bin Laden died a happy man. “What we are witnessing these days of consecutive revolutions is a great and glorious event,” he mused, after watching the fall of the secular, Western-backed regimes in Tunisia and Egypt, which he watched on CNN, before the daring Navy SEAL raid on his compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan. “[T]hanks to Allah things are strongly heading toward the exit of Muslims from being under the control of America.”

Even at this late date, it seems difficult for American policymakers to grasp exactly how Bin Laden’s mastery of the inherently paradoxical logic of warfare—a logic very different than the linear cause-and-effect style of reasoning that governs normal life and electoral politics alike—allowed a man without a country, heavy weapons, or even broadband Internet access to reshape the world to his advantage. The clarity of Bin Laden’s strategic insight, which now seems obvious, also suggests that the dynamic that he deliberately set in motion is still unfolding, in ways that he foresaw before his death—ways that continue to roil the Middle East and will continue to pose a threat to the safety of Americans at home. …

Bin Laden was never shy about explaining what he was doing and why. His public statements about his strategic logic and goals in targeting “the far enemy” remained remarkably consistent, from his first fatwa against America until the last letter he wrote before his death. In his 1996 “Declaration of War Against the Americans Occupying the Land of the Two Holy Places,” published soon after the Khobar Towers bombings in Saudi Arabia, he explained that “it is essential to hit the main enemy who divided the Ummah”—the Muslim world—“into small and little countries and pushed it, for the last few decades, into a state of confusion.”

America’s response to an attack would be to get sucked into a war, he predicted—and when the going got tough, the United States would cut and run. Responding to then-U.S. Defense Sec. William Perry, who had called the Khobar bombers cowards and had sworn not to give in, Bin Laden asked, “Where was this false courage of yours when the explosion in Beirut took place on 1983 AD (1403 A.H). You were turned into scattered pits and pieces at that time; 241 Marine soldiers were killed.” …

In public and private following the Sept. 11 attacks, he returned to the same themes, over and over again, in at least three-quarters of his public statements and in private letters to other jihadists that were seized from his compound in Abbotabad and later made public. “The goal is to weaken America until it can no longer interfere in Muslims affairs,” he explained, in a letter whose contents were entirely typical of his communications. “Once the American enemy has been defeated, our next step would be targeting the region’s leaders who had been the pillars of support for that American hegemony.”

It is proof of Bin Laden’s mastery of the unexpected logic that animates strategic thought, and of the glaring inability of America’s political leaders to think strategically, that not one but two American presidents have faithfully acted their roles in his geo-political script: George W. Bush, the hawk, with his open-ended and heavy-handed occupation of Iraq; and Barack Obama, the dove, with his precipitous and wholesale withdrawal of American military forces and influence from the Middle East. Both men—and their many advisers—should have known better.

Read the whole thing. It’s depressing reading and hard to argue with.

Hat tip to Claire Berlinski.

16 Jun 2014

The Tragedy Wasn’t Invading Iraq, It Was Not Finishing the Job

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Omdurman
Battle of Omdurman, 2 September 1898.

I had words on Facebook with James Delingpole this morning, consisting of my dissenting from his agreement with Boris Johnson’s Telegraph editorial echoing the left-wing perspective that it was the removal of Saddam Hussein from power by a coalition of 49 countries led by the United States in 2003 which, eleven years later, is the cause of the latest outbreak of barbarians in that part of the world.

Boris the blonde (who obviously devoted his time at Oxford to partying and up-sucking, rather than critical reflection) faithfully parrots the international community of fashion’s articles of faith.

The truth is that we destroyed the institutions of authority in Iraq without having the foggiest idea what would come next. As one senior British general has put it to me, “we snipped the spinal cord” without any plan to replace it. There are more than 100,000 dead Iraqis who would be alive today if we had not gone in and created the conditions for such a conflict, to say nothing of the troops from America, Britain and other countries who have lost their lives in the shambles.

No, Boris, your “more than 100,000 dead Iraqis” figure is only a supposititious estimate cooked up for propagandistic purposes, and whatever quantity of Iraqis wound up as casualties in the course of opposing Coalition military operations or as incidental collateral damage was obviously not the fault of George W. Bush (or Tony Blair), but their own fault and the fault of Saddam Hussein and the rest of the Nationalist-Socialist leadership of that country which chose to adopt an extraordinarily belligerent and anti-Western posture and which defiantly undertook to violate an existing armistice agreement.

It is, moreover, obviously totally impossible to tell today just which and how many Iraqis might still be alive, absent the 2003 and invasion and the removal of that regime from power. Possibly some even greater number of Iraqis might have died at the hands of their own regime, in another major war instigated by Saddam, or via American retaliatory strikes after WMDs provided by Saddam’s regime to non-state jihadi actors were used to kill massive numbers of innocent Western civilians.

Many of the same countries participating in the 2003 invasion of Iraq previously participated in the 1944 invasion of Normandy aimed that the “destruction of institutions of authority” and “snip[ping] the spinal cord” of a highly similar regime to that of Saddam’s, erected in point of fact on the same foundation principles of (aggrieved) Nationalism and (militarist and despotic) Socialism. No one sheds a tear for the far more than 100,000 Germans, Austrians, Hungarians, and other Europeans slain in the course of opposing that coalition, nor for the many hundreds of thousands of civilians at that time intentionally targeted as the objects of strategic bombing.

The real differences, of course, reside in the much larger scale of WWII casualties and destruction, and in the thorough and completely ruthless post-war de-Nazification of the enemy.

The real tragedy in Iraq is that coalition efforts at regime change were too limited and piecemeal, too half-hearted and too confused in purpose. The WWII allies reduced their opponents to prostration and unconditional surrender, then occupied and ruled them for years, completely and fundamentally liberalizing, democratizing, and remodeling their cultures along our own lines. We attempted no such thing in Iraq, instead deluding ourselves with fantasies of being welcomed as liberators by friendly natives and trusting that the gift of democracy would in itself suffice to convert murderous and bigoted Mussulmen into bourgeois liberals.

It only required the setback of an unexpected Insurgency to unleash the hounds of treason and pacifism throughout Western intelligentsia circles. George W. Bush and his coalition allies found themselves far more effectively under attack from behind in the Times, the Post, and the Guardian than they ever were in Fallujah or Ramadi.

Boris Johnson would be right if he had attacked George W. Bush and Tony Blair for failing to put domestic traitors behind barbed wire and for not finishing the job, but when he accuses them of destroying some kind of legitimate authority or when he implies that Iraq would be better off under Saddam, he is just being a conformist tool and a complete ass.

20 Jan 2014

One Picture Is Worth a Thousand Words

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15 Nov 2012

Friedersdorf Assesses the Conservative Movement Nine Days After

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Liberal Californian Conor Friedersdorf takes the occasion of Barack Obama’s totally unexpected reelection to throw a spitball of a column at conservatives, wondering aloud: What Has Movement Conservatism Accomplished in the Last 15 Years?

Perhaps we’ll see future triumphs from the conservative movement despite its present troubles. But have we seen any evidence of success since 1997 or so? George W. Bush created a new bureaucracy, expanded the federal role in education, approved a massive new entitlement, exploded the deficit, abandoned any pretense of a “humble foreign policy” that eschewed nation building, and left office having approved a massive government bailout of the financial sector. Then President Obama took office, presided over more bailouts and growing deficits, passed a health care reform bill that conservatives hate, and got reelected. Over this same period, the country has gotten more socially liberal. Gays can serve openly in the military and marry.

A majority now supports legalizing marijuana.

Circa 1997, if you’d told the average conservative that all those things would happen in the next 15 years, would they have declared the conservative movement finished? I suspect as much.

In the first place, noting George W. Bush’s sometimes failure to govern as a conservative (more government agencies, another entitlement, bailouts) is a fundamentally dishonest argument.

The Conservative Movement has never pretended to enjoy a national majority, nor does it claim to possess unchallenged dominion over the Republican Party. In the election of 2000, as in the elections of 2008 and 2012, the Conservative Movement contended against, and wound up compromising with, the professional politicians and Republican pragmatists. That is how American politics operates. The Conservative Movement had a lot of influence and, by an interesting kind of non-coincidence, was in every presidential election from 2000 to 2012 conceded the second place on the ticket, but it did not name the nominee.

Electing George W. Bush was certainly no unalloyed triumph for Conservatism. George W. Bush ran on a commitment to compromise with liberals and democrats and promised to govern as a “compassionate” (i.e. moderate Welfare State) Republican. There was never any reason to believe that George W. Bush was a sophisticated opponent of statism.

The Bush Presidency was radically transformed in the directions of domestic statism and foreign military operations by 9/11, which event, by any fair reading, must be looked upon as a legacy of Clintonian left-wing policy passivity.

Conservatives like myself are far from uncritical of Bush’s Wilsonianism. Some of us actively deplore the creation of the Department of Heimat Sekuritat and would abolish it and the TSA in a New York minute if we could work our will. We nonetheless wound up forced to defend George W. Bush, his Administration, and his foreign policy from essentially treasonous, dishonest, and opportunistic attack by the democrat party left. One wound up feeling like a Union conscript in the Civil War obliged to defend the leadership of General George McClellan.

We, in the Conservative Movement, can at least congratulate ourselves that our movement was able to elect George W. Bush, who was, however wrong and limited, nonetheless an honest and a decent man, over the despicable charlatan and junk science demigod Albert Gore and that we were able to spare the United States the dishonor of seeing the Vietnam War traitor John Kerry promoted to commander-in-chief.

8 years of George W. Bush, alas! failed, due to determined democrat resistance, to reform the American welfare state and put Social Security on a sound and reliable footing. Bush also failed to fully foresee and avert the real estate crisis, whose roots lay as far back as the New Deal. He did try to reform Fannie Mae, but Barney Frank and Chris Dodd successfully stood, like Horatius at the Bridge, in the way.

Bush, at least, did overthrow one of the principal outlaw regimes and sponsors of international terrorism, and he successfully averted al Qaida’s intended Second Wave attack. He built up the US military, put terrorism on the run, and delivered to Barry Soetero an ongoing intelligence operation and information obtained from captured illegal combatants which made possible his administration’s greatest triumph, the killing of Osama bin Laden.

In the same period, Conservatism’s intellectual domination of legal debates continued, and we won a decisive landmark Supreme Court decision affirming the Second Amendment and essentially recalling a cornerstone provision of the Bill of Rights from exile. We also won another crucial Supreme Court decision reversing liberal efforts to control political campaign speech. Not bad.

Mr. Fiedersdorf is a very young man lacking adequate experience of life to enable him to take the long view.

It’s easy to derogate the influence and achievements of the Conservative Movement a little over a week after it experienced a disastrous defeat. One can imagine the Friedersdorf column assessing US Naval Strength published on December 16, 1941.

It is sad, and not yet even entirely understandable yet why, that we lost this one, but frankly, Conor, old boy, I think you have a lot more to fear from the political future than we do. You put the radical Obama back into power, while the economy continues to sink, Obamacare increasingly comes into actual force and applies its terrible negative effects, and the federal budget approaches a fiscal cliff created deliberately by your party. You bozos own the disastrous US economy, and the chances that your demented ideology, your corrupt politics, and your basic bovine stupidity will do it still greater harm asymptotically approach 100%.

You are, I will grant you freely, the professionals at political manipulation, voter turnout, agitprop, and spin. You got all the weak-minded females in suburbia across the country in a tizzy over their supposed rights and they voted for Caliban out of fear that Romney would somehow personally confiscate their contraceptives and slap around their hairdressers.

What you overlook are the key considerations that your economics are fallacious, your policies are inevitably disastrous, your president is a narcissistic incompetent, and you are still, in the long-run, losing the war of ideas. Let me offer you a reciprocal challenge. Write this same column again nine days after the election of 2016, and let’s see how it reads then.

30 Jun 2012

True

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Hat tip to Norman Gregas.

24 May 2011

The Truth At Last

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Hat tip to Bruce Kessler.

07 May 2011

Condoleezza Rice Stands up to Lawrence O’Donnell’s Attempted Bullying

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Condi Rice did a good job of standing up to him, and it is very interesting to observe how much O’Donnell relies on
fundamentally dishonest interviewing techniques. He continually interrupts his role as interviewer/debator to assume the role of judge and then tries to rule in his own favor. He relies constantly on leftwing talking points which he asserts dogmatically as the supposed fundamental facts entirely on the basis of his own native consensus on the left.

06 May 2011

Waterboarding Terrorists Led Directly to Osama

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Former CIA Director Michael B. Mukasey testifies to the crucial role played by mildly coercive interrogation techniques in establishing the trail that ultimately led to Osama bin Laden.

The cosmic irony is that the single greatest success of the Obama Administration resulted specifically from the policies and tactics used by the previous administration which he ran against and has since eliminated.

[T]he intelligence that led to bin Laden came… began with a disclosure from Khalid Sheikh Mohammed (KSM), who broke like a dam under the pressure of harsh interrogation techniques that included waterboarding. He loosed a torrent of information—including eventually the nickname of a trusted courier of bin Laden.

That regimen of harsh interrogation was used on KSM after another detainee, Abu Zubaydeh, was subjected to the same techniques. When he broke, he said that he and other members of al Qaeda were obligated to resist only until they could no longer do so, at which point it became permissible for them to yield. “Do this for all the brothers,” he advised his interrogators.

Abu Zubaydeh was coerced into disclosing information that led to the capture of Ramzi bin al Shibh, another of the planners of 9/11. Bin al Shibh disclosed information that, when combined with what was learned from Abu Zubaydeh, helped lead to the capture of KSM and other senior terrorists and the disruption of follow-on plots aimed at both Europe and the United States.

Another of those gathered up later in this harvest, Abu Faraj al-Libi, also was subjected to certain of these harsh techniques and disclosed further details about bin Laden’s couriers that helped in last weekend’s achievement.

The harsh techniques themselves were used selectively against only a small number of hard-core prisoners who successfully resisted other forms of interrogation, and then only with the explicit authorization of the director of the CIA. Of the thousands of unlawful combatants captured by the U.S., fewer than 100 were detained and questioned in the CIA program. Of those, fewer than one-third were subjected to any of these techniques.

Former CIA Director Michael Hayden has said that, as late as 2006, even with the growing success of other intelligence tools, fully half of the government’s knowledge about the structure and activities of al Qaeda came from those interrogations. The Bush administration put these techniques in place only after rigorous analysis by the Justice Department, which concluded that they were lawful.

The current president ran for election on the promise to do away with them even before he became aware, if he ever did, of what they were. Days after taking office he directed that the CIA interrogation program be done away with entirely, and that interrogation be limited to the techniques set forth in the Army Field Manual, a document designed for use by even the least experienced troops. It’s available on the Internet and used by terrorists as a training manual for resisting interrogation.

In April 2009, the administration made public the previously classified Justice Department memoranda analyzing the harsh techniques, thereby disclosing them to our enemies and assuring that they could never be used effectively again. …

Immediately following the killing of bin Laden, the issue of interrogation techniques became in some quarters the “dirty little secret” of the event. But as disclosed in the declassified memos in 2009, the techniques are neither dirty nor, as noted by Director Hayden and others, were their results little. As the memoranda concluded—and as I concluded reading them at the beginning of my tenure as attorney general in 2007—the techniques were entirely lawful as the law stood at the time the memos were written, and the disclosures they elicited were enormously important. That they are no longer secret is deeply regrettable. …

We… need to put an end to the ongoing investigations of CIA operatives that continue to undermine intelligence community morale.

Acknowledging and meeting the need for an effective and lawful interrogation program, which we once had, and freeing CIA operatives and others to administer it under congressional oversight, would be a fitting way to mark the demise of Osama bin Laden.

04 Apr 2011

Comparing Libya & Iraq

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detail

At Red State, Jeff Emmanuel has a large graphic illustrating a number of informative comparisons between President Bush’s unilateral, war-of-choice in Iraq and President Obama’s kinectic action in Libya which illustrates a number of difficulties in the conventional wisdom of the establishment commentariat. Be sure to look at the larger original.

26 Mar 2011

Libya versus Iraq

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Hat tip to Richard Fernandez who reflects on history, while contemplating the unhappy spectacle of escalating regime violence in response to protests in Syria:

Deraa, the site of one of the many protests, was where the fledgling Royal Air Force won its first ground-air battle in 1918 in support of Colonel T. E. Lawrence’s Arab Revolt. He was cutting the lifeline of the Ottoman empire. Viewed from the 21st century, the battle seems almost quaint: biplanes dropping a few pounds of bombs from low altitude and landing to rendezvous with riders in flowing robes on steaming horses. But those riders, all encased in cotton, creaky leather and sweat, had the virtue of knowing which end was up. Today we are even luckier to be led, not simply by the competent and daring, but by leaders who are truly awesome.

19 Jan 2011

Stuxnet Was a Joint US-Israeli Project

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Anonymous official sources have spilled enough to the New York Times to allow it to put the pieces together (and to give an opportunity to US and Israeli Intelligence to take a few public bows and indulge in a bit of gloating at Iran’s expense). And, what do you know! it was another of those George W. Bush policies that Barack Obama decided to continue, just like detentions at Guantanamo.

The Dimona complex in the Negev desert is famous as the heavily guarded heart of Israel’s never-acknowledged nuclear arms program, where neat rows of factories make atomic fuel for the arsenal.

Over the past two years, according to intelligence and military experts familiar with its operations, Dimona has taken on a new, equally secret role — as a critical testing ground in a joint American and Israeli effort to undermine Iran’s efforts to make a bomb of its own.

Behind Dimona’s barbed wire, the experts say, Israel has spun nuclear centrifuges virtually identical to Iran’s at Natanz, where Iranian scientists are struggling to enrich uranium. They say Dimona tested the effectiveness of the Stuxnet computer worm, a destructive program that appears to have wiped out roughly a fifth of Iran’s nuclear centrifuges and helped delay, though not destroy, Tehran’s ability to make its first nuclear arms.

“To check out the worm, you have to know the machines,” said an American expert on nuclear intelligence. “The reason the worm has been effective is that the Israelis tried it out.”

Though American and Israeli officials refuse to talk publicly about what goes on at Dimona, the operations there, as well as related efforts in the United States, are among the newest and strongest clues suggesting that the virus was designed as an American-Israeli project to sabotage the Iranian program. …

Many mysteries remain, chief among them, exactly who constructed a computer worm that appears to have several authors on several continents. But the digital trail is littered with intriguing bits of evidence.

In early 2008 the German company Siemens cooperated with one of the United States’ premier national laboratories, in Idaho, to identify the vulnerabilities of computer controllers that the company sells to operate industrial machinery around the world — and that American intelligence agencies have identified as key equipment in Iran’s enrichment facilities.

Siemens says that program was part of routine efforts to secure its products against cyberattacks. Nonetheless, it gave the Idaho National Laboratory — which is part of the Energy Department, responsible for America’s nuclear arms — the chance to identify well-hidden holes in the Siemens systems that were exploited the next year by Stuxnet.

The worm itself now appears to have included two major components. One was designed to send Iran’s nuclear centrifuges spinning wildly out of control. Another seems right out of the movies: The computer program also secretly recorded what normal operations at the nuclear plant looked like, then played those readings back to plant operators, like a pre-recorded security tape in a bank heist, so that it would appear that everything was operating normally while the centrifuges were actually tearing themselves apart.

The attacks were not fully successful: Some parts of Iran’s operations ground to a halt, while others survived, according to the reports of international nuclear inspectors. Nor is it clear the attacks are over: Some experts who have examined the code believe it contains the seeds for yet more versions and assaults. …

Israeli officials grin widely when asked about its effects. Mr. Obama’s chief strategist for combating weapons of mass destruction, Gary Samore, sidestepped a Stuxnet question at a recent conference about Iran, but added with a smile: “I’m glad to hear they are having troubles with their centrifuge machines, and the U.S. and its allies are doing everything we can to make it more complicated.”

In recent days, American officials who spoke on the condition of anonymity have said in interviews that they believe Iran’s setbacks have been underreported. That may explain why Mrs. Clinton provided her public assessment while traveling in the Middle East last week.

By the accounts of a number of computer scientists, nuclear enrichment experts and former officials, the covert race to create Stuxnet was a joint project between the Americans and the Israelis, with some help, knowing or unknowing, from the Germans and the British.

The project’s political origins can be found in the last months of the Bush administration. In January 2009, The New York Times reported that Mr. Bush authorized a covert program to undermine the electrical and computer systems around Natanz, Iran’s major enrichment center. President Obama, first briefed on the program even before taking office, sped it up, according to officials familiar with the administration’s Iran strategy. So did the Israelis, other officials said.

You can hear the champagne corks popping at Langley all the way out here in Fauquier County.

Read the whole thing.

17 Nov 2010

Who Put Government’s Hand in America’s Crotch?

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Taiwan’s animated news service pokes fun at America’s resort to electronic strip searches and crotch fondling.

The Washington Times is right that the recent move to humiliating invasions of personal privacy represents a deliberate policy choosing universal indignity over profiling, but I think they are wrong to identify the TSA’s practices and politically correct ideology as the invention of the Obama Administration. That infernal organization was created by the Bush Administration, and it was the Bush Administration that appointed the original officials who established its keynote policies of security theater and political correctness.

09 Mar 2010

Stanley Fish Told You So

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Stanley Fish gleefully watches the former president’s public estimation reascend, as Obama’s precipitously sinks. Bush derangement is evolving into Bush nostalgia.

I know you’re not supposed to, but I just love to say I told you so. ..”

Well it’s a bit more than a year now and signs of Bush’s rehabilitation are beginning to pop up. One is literally a sign, a billboard that appeared recently on I-35 in Minnesota. Occupying the right side (from the viewer’s viewpoint) is a picture of Bush smiling genially and waving his hand in a friendly gesture. Occupying the left side is a simple and direct question: “Miss me yet?” The image is all over the Internet, hundreds of millions of hits, and unscientific Web-based polls indicate that more do miss him than don’t.

A perhaps more substantial sign incorporates a sign famous (or infamous) in the Bush presidency. The March 8 cover of Newsweek reproduces the famous 2003 photograph of Bush on the flight deck of the U.S.S. Lincoln. The president is in the left of the picture, striding away from the famous banner proclaiming “Mission Accomplished.”

Those words haunted Bush for the next five years, but now, Newsweek reports, they may play differently because — and this is emblazoned on the cover — we may have “Victory At Last.” It has to be said, declare the cover-story’s writers, that “now almost seven hellish years later . . . something that looks mighty like democracy is emerging in Iraq”; and, they add (eerily echoing Bush’s words in 2003), this development “most certainly is a watershed event that could come to represent a whole new era in the history of the massively undemocratic Middle East.”

Of course, one might disagree with that assessment, but the fact that it is made in the lead article of a major mainstream magazine tells its own story. It is a story that intersects with another, the story of the precipitous decline in Barack Obama’s support and of a growing suspicion, found on the left as well as on the right, where it is much more than a suspicion, that the politics of change may have been a slogan with less promise in its future than “Mission Accomplished.” (The imminent passage of a health care bill keeps being predicted, but so far no “victory at last.”)

Meanwhile, Bush’s policies came to seem less obviously reprehensible as the Obama administration drifted into embracing watered-down versions of many of them. Guantanamo hasn’t been closed. No Child Left Behind is being revised and perhaps improved, but not repealed. The banks are still engaging in their bad practices. Partisanship is worse than ever. Obama seems about to back away from the decision to try 9/11 defendants in civilian courts, a prospect that led the ACLU to run an ad in Sunday’s Times with the subheading “Change or more of the same?” Above that question is a series of photographs that shows Obama morphing into guess who — yes, that’s right, George W. Bush.

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