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RAPID RESPONSE (Archives)...Daily Commentary on News of the Day
This is a new section.  It will offer fresh, quick reactions by myself to news and events of the day, day by day, in this rapid-fire world of ours.  Of course, as in military campaigns, a rapid response in one direction may occasionally have to be followed by a "strategic withdrawal" in another direction.  Charge that to "the fog of war", and to the necessary flexibility any mental or military campaign must maintain to be effective.  But the mission will always be the same: common sense, based upon facts and "real politick", supported by a visceral sense of Justice and a commitment to be pro-active.  That's all I promise.

Click here to return to the current Rapid Response list

MONDAY, April 30, 2007

This is a very good letter to the editor.  This woman made some good points.  For some reason, people have difficulty structuring their arguments when arguing against supporting the currently proposed immigration revisions.  This lady made the argument pretty simple. 

NOT printed in the Orange County Paper...................  

Newspapers simply won't publish letters to the editor which they either deem politically incorrect (read below) or which does not agree with the philosophy they're pushing on the public. This woman wrote a great letter to the editor that should have been published; but, with your help it will get published via cyberspace! 

New Immigrants
From: "David LaBonte" 

My wife, Rosemary, wrote a wonderful letter to the editor of the OC Register which, of course, was not printed. So, I decided to "print" it myself by sending it out on the Internet.
Pass it along if you feel so inclined.
Dave LaBonte (signed)

Written in response to a series of letters to the editor in the Orange County Register:

Dear Editor: 

So many letter writers have based their arguments on how this land is made up of immigrants. Ernie Lujan for one, suggests we should tear down the Statue of Liberty because the people now in question aren't being treated the same as those who passed through Ellis Island and other ports of entry. 

Maybe we should turn to our history books and point out to people like Mr. Lujan why today's American is not willing to accept this new kind of immigrant any longer. Back in 1900 when there was a rush from all areas of Europe to come to the United States, people had to get off a ship and stand in a long line in New York and be documented. Some would even get down on their hands and knees and kiss the ground. They made a pledge to uphold the laws and support their new country in good and bad times. They made learning English a primary rule in their new American households and some even changed their names to blend in with their new home. 

They had waved good bye to their birth place to give their children a new life and did everything in their power to help their children assimilate into one culture. 

Nothing was handed to them. No free lunches, no welfare, no labor laws to protect them. All they had were the skills and craftsmanship they had brought with them to trade for a future of prosperity. Most of their children came of age when World War II broke out. My father fought along side men whose parents had come straight over from Germany , Italy , France and Japan . None of these 1st generation Americans ever gave any thought about what country their parents had come from. They were Americans fighting Hitler, Mussolini and the Emperor of Japan . They were defending the United States of America as one people. When we liberated France , no one in those villages were looking for the French-American or the German American or the Irish American. The people of France saw only Americans. And we carried one flag that represented one country. Not one of those immigrant sons would have thought about picking up another country's flag and waving it to represent who they were. It would have been a disgrace to their parents who had sacrificed so much to be here. These immigrants truly knew what it meant to be an American. They stirred the melting pot into one red, white and blue bowl. 

And here we are in 2006 with a new kind of immigrant who wants the same rights and privileges. Only they want to achieve it by playing with a different set of rules, one that includes the entitlement card and a guarantee of being faithful to their mother country. I'm sorry, that's not what being an American is all about. I believe that the immigrants who landed on Ellis Island in the early 1900's deserve better than that for all the toil, hard work and sacrifice in raising future generations to create a land that has become a beacon for those legally searching for a better life. I think they would be appalled that they are being used as an example by those waving foreign country flags. 

And for that suggestion about taking down the Statue of Liberty , it happens to mean a lot to the citizens who are voting on the immigration bill. I wouldn't start talking about dismantling the United States just yet.
(signed) Rosemary LaBonte

SATURDAY and SUNDAY, April 28 and 29, 2007

FRIDAY, April 27, 2007

THURSDAY, April 26, 2007

WEDNESDAY, April 25, 2007

The following is offered in the interests of "fair and balanced" reporting.  It does lend support to my contention, expressed several months ago in this section, that this matter must be decided by the Iraqi people...Shia, Sunni and political and/or military means, while our forces work to prevent intervention by any of several elements opposed to a reconciled and democratic Iraq with a Shia majority: Iran, Turkey, Syria, Saudi Arabia, even Russia and China and maybe even "allies" like France.  I recommended substantial expansion of our forces and withdrawal to the borders of Iraq to seal those borders.  Whether the current strategy will work still remains to be seen - but must be given a chance.  In addition to humanitarian and democratic concerns, our self-interest demands it.  GS


  I just wanted to let you know what is happening where I am in Iraq. I
don't want to say this is in response to Harry Reid, but his comments
the other day are not in line with what we're seeing.
  We are winning over here in Al Anbar province. I don't know about
Baghdad, but Ramadi was considered THE hotspot in Al Anbar, the worse
province, and it has been very quiet. The city is calm, the kids are
playing in the streets, the local shops are open, the power is on at
night, and daily commerce is the norm rather than the exception. There
have been no complex attacks since March. That is HUGE progress. This
quiet time is allowing the Iraqi Army and Iraqi Police to establish
themselves in the eyes of the people. The Iraqi people also want IA's
and IP's in their areas. The Sunni Sheiks are behind us and giving us
full support. This means that lmost all Sunni's in Al Anbar are now
committed to supporting the US and Iraqi forces. It also means that
almost all insurgents left out here are AQ. FYI, the surge is just
beginning. Gen Petraeus' strategy is just getting started and we're
seeing huge gains here.
   However, you don't see Harry Reid talking about this. When I saw what
he said, it really pissed me off. That guy does not know what is going
on over here because he hasn't bothered to come and find out. The truth
on the ground in Al Anbar is not politically convenient for him, so he
completely ignored it.
  This war can be won. We just need the time to get the IA and IP
operating on their own. Gen Petraeus is treating the war like a
counter-insurgency rather and a stability operation. For non-military
personnel, there is a HUGE difference between the two. What we've been
doing in Iraq since Petraus took over is completely different than what
we were doing under Gen Casey. However, you don't hear the press or the
democrats say that. Most of them are too committed to saying we've lost
to further their own political agendas that they cannot acknowledge
we're doing something totally different and it is working.


Capt William M Brewster
Firepower Control Team Leader
Ar Ramadi

MONDAY and TUESDAY, April 23 and 24, 2007

Time to catch up on subjects temporarily side-lined by more pressing news. 

SATURDAY and SUNDAY, April 21 and 22, 2007

The following article is the best expose' of how America got to this point in Iraq, how our leaders did not know or benefit from the lessons of history, and why we must persevere: primarily for self-interest, and also to make amends to the people of Iraq for screwing up the effort so badly.  (Another chronicle is found in the offerings in this section spanning the last four years on a nearly daily basis).  As always, "Past Is Prologue".  GS

Adventures in State-Building
Bremer’s Iraq and Cromer’s Egypt
Harvey Sicherman
The American Interest May/June 2007

Colin Powell offered the same observation on Iraq to Bush the father and Bush the son, first in 1990 and again in 2002: “If you break it, you own it.” Powell’s so-called Pottery Barn rule, however, had its Humpty Dumpty corollary, as in “All the King’s horses, and all the King’s Men, couldn’t put Humpty together again!” This corollary suggests a deep pessimism about what “ownership” implies—namely, the inability of American presidents to assemble the necessary political and material resources, including time, to remake what they break.

As we bear witness to the Iraq endgame, it is tempting to conclude that a new American aversion to any policy of “breaking” states—more conventionally known as regime change—could be a healthy thing. “No More Iraqs” might join “No More Vietnams” in the pantheon of difficult or impossible obligations the United States must avoid at all costs. Such abstinence, however, grants almost automatic sanctuary to threatening regimes and, in an era of spreading nuclear technology, abandons failed states to their fate. Moreover, difficult, even very difficult, obligations are not the same as impossible ones. Against the prevailing pessimism stand the sterling examples of Germany and Japan, as well as the “pretty good” examples of the Philippines and South Korea. Today, we and they are justifiably satisfied with their American-directed or influenced reconstruction.

The suddenly vast academic literature on state-building (often misnamed nation-building) is not always enlightening in dealing with this challenge. Against the occasional touch of humility, one finds more often voluminous checklists that remind me of an automotive repair magazine that once offered a four-step process for replacing a worn-out engine: step one, open the hood; step two, remove the old engine; step three, replace it with a new one; step four, close the hood. Nation-building advice these days too often offers the same: step one, enter the afflicted country, by force or invitation; step two, replace by coercion or persuasion the worn-out government; step three, install a new democratic, free market replacement; step four, leave the country!

This kind of advice will not do for either mechanics or statesmen, so we might turn instead to those who have actually tried to remake states. But whose experience and advice should we seek? General Lucius Clay (and General Douglas MacArthur) offer pointers, but they worked on developed, not developing, countries. The usual analogy—Britain’s Iraq experience in the 1920s—misleads because London was inventing a state where none had previously existed. Perhaps more can be learned from two Middle Eastern opposites: Ambassador L. Paul Bremer’s year-long attempt to reorder 21st-century Iraq and Lord Cromer’s far more protracted attempt to reorder 19th-century Egypt. And while the contrasts seem to defy comparison—Bremer’s uneasy 12-month effort to remake what his country had broken on the quick and cheap; Cromer’s 24-year imperial proconsulate to endow a broken Muslim state with modernity—surprising similarities emerge, particularly at their respective beginnings. Set alongside each other, they tell us much about the do’s and don’ts of state-building.

Bremer’s Iraq
On May 9, 2003, Ambassador L. Paul Bremer III, known to associates as “Jerry”, lunched with President George W. Bush at the White House, just before a National Security Council meeting on his new mission to Iraq. An athletic man with a youthful appearance and quick grin, Bremer shared with Bush an enthusiasm for running, which excused their modest meal of pears and greens. He told the President that Iraq was “a marathon, not a sprint.”1 Bush agreed, but as Bremer soon discovered, that was not the policy.

Who was Jerry Bremer and how did he come to this job? Born in Hartford, Connecticut, his blue-blooded education included Phillips Academy, Yale and Harvard (MBA), rounded out by a Certificate of Political Studies from Sciences Po in Paris. Bremer made a Foreign Service career, eventually becoming Ambassador to the Netherlands and Ambassador-at-Large for Counterterrorism. He had been in bureaucratic harm’s way at the Secretarial level, serving as Deputy Executive Secretary to Henry Kissinger and Executive Secretary to both Alexander M. Haig, Jr., and George Shultz. The job required tracking the Secretary’s schedule, recording and conveying decisions, ordering tasks and reporting results. To do this, Bremer used the “Secretary’s Book”, a volume listing daily meetings, replete with the necessary papers for the day and a presage of activities to come.

I came to know Jerry when I ran afoul of the “Book” during my service as Special Assistant and speechwriter to Haig. Bremer let me know that he expected a draft speech a full fortnight ahead of the occasion, a serious violation of my work ethic, which counts premature effort a cardinal vice. I had Haig’s confidence in the product, so Jerry and I soon reached a friendly modus vivendi: three days ahead of time, no more.

Bremer boasted a wall full of awards for his service. He had other attractive qualities, including a strong sense of duty, family and faith. Moreover, Bremer had sounded the public alarm on terrorism long before 9/11. On the awful day itself, his offices in the New York firm of Marsh & McLennan had been destroyed in the collapse of the south tower, killing several hundred of his colleagues. Finally, Bremer worked well with Republicans and was one himself, although not of the neoconservative persuasion. Bremer’s skills were therefore preeminently those of the Washington insider, and his selection as Special Presidential Envoy to Iraq by an Administration already shaken by internal quarrel suggested that some adult supervision was now at hand.

Unfortunately, Bremer knew damned little about Iraq. He had never served in the Middle East, spoke no Arabic, and his repertoire of political analogies was entirely European. Bremer therefore quickly tapped his network of “formers”, some of whom knew the region well, notably the late Ambassador Hume Horan. These men in their sixties, like Bremer, proved astonishingly resilient as they plunged themselves into 18- to 20-hour workdays amid considerable physical danger and away from their families.

Another thing Bremer did not know was counterinsurgency. Here too he had expert friends. One who declined to join the team was Ambassador James Dobbins, a veteran of the Bosnia and Kosovo projects. Shortly before Bremer met Bush, Dobbins handed him a RAND research report on counterinsurgency. The study found that all recorded successful strategies employed troop-to-population ratios that dictated 400,000–500,000 troops for a country the size of Iraq. Those who tried to make do with less not only failed; they failed with higher casualties. Bremer handed the RAND report to Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and told Bush about it.

Contrary to the critics, there was a strategy for Iraq. As Secretary Rumsfeld explained in a February 14, 2003 speech called “Beyond Nation Building”, the United States could do more with less, thanks to the new technology of war and a revised notion of how to reconstruct states. If the technological revolution demanded the “transformation” of U.S. forces from their Cold War model to lighter, quicker and more lethal ones, then “nation-building” American style required a “light footprint.” Rumsfeld compared Bosnia and Kosovo, where U.S. and NATO forces had created a “culture of dependency”, to Afghanistan, where the United States had quickly transferred responsibility to an Afghan government. The result was a nearly functioning democracy without a large residual American presence. The new “light footprint” approach also intended to resolve a strategic conundrum: The post-9/11 era found the United States burdened by the commitments of the 1990s and new ones as well, yet with a military force half the size. George W. Bush had ten army divisions, his father 19. Rumsfeld was bent on proving that ten would be enough.

The President and his closest counselors calculated that Iraq was even more fertile ground to execute the “light footprint” plan than Afghanistan. Unlike Afghanistan, Iraq’s bureaucracies appeared to function, its infrastructure seemed to work, and its oil reserves promised resources for any necessary reconstruction. There was an educated middle class thirsty for democracy, if only Saddam could be removed (all the Iraqi political exiles said so). Hence, a quick “shock and awe” operation that cut off the Saddamite head with minimal damage to the rest of the Iraqi body would facilitate a safe political transplant. Rumsfeld had therefore bullied the Pentagon’s original war plan, requiring 500,000 troops, down to a number that fit transformation and the “light footprint.” Cobra II would be a four-division coup d’étât, leaving the state intact. It would be liberation, not occupation.

It was a brilliant concept that did not survive contact with reality. Off went the head in the Coalition’s march to Baghdad, but down also came the body. The head, moreover, did not exactly die, for Saddam and his two deranged sons escaped. As for the body, looting destroyed the infrastructure, violence marred the streets, and Iraq’s functional ministries vanished. The new head, moreover, was a hydra of competing exiles bereft of consensus, ignorant of government and lacking popular support. The light footprint threatened to morph into the Frankenstein option.

American officials, thinking of Germany and Japan, had vastly overestimated the underlying solidity of the Iraqi state. In the transition from General Jay Garner and ORHA to Jerry Bremer and the CPA there seemed to be at least an inkling of this. Still, most Bush Administration principals back in Washington believed that the original strategy might still work if only it had more time, more money and a strong local hand. That hand was to be Jerry Bremer’s, and he used it.

Bremer’s effort to revive the body and ready the head transplant can be divided conveniently into two acts: in the first, May to October 2003, Bremer’s encounter with Iraqi reality disabused him of his Washington instructions, leading to the collapse of his political support in the Defense Department; the second act, beginning with a key series of meetings in Washington, witnessed an heroic effort to establish a political structure even amid a growing military crisis and ended on June 28, 2004.

Act I: Breaking the State
As Bremer flew into a chaotic Baghdad on May 12, 2003, he determined immediately upon a dramatic show of authority. The day after his arrival he suggested at a staff meeting that looters should be shot. This remark, leaked to the press, provoked hysterical publicity. The generals disavowed him and Bremer could not overrule them because his “unity of command” covered only civilians. Bremer rebounded from this unhappy start in Baghdad through two decrees aimed at convincing Iraqis that Saddam, and Saddamism, were over: The first outlawed the Ba‘ath Party and the second dissolved the army and other security organizations.

Unlike the “shoot the looters” idea, both of these proposals had originated in Washington, specifically in Rumsfeld’s staff. They were not only the administrative vehicle for breaking the Saddam state, but also for assuring the Shi‘a and Kurdish communities that Saddamism would never return. Although never intended to break the Iraqi state itself, they finished what was left of it.

The May 16, 2003 decree outlawing the Ba‘ath Party was hardly objectionable. In Saddam’s clan-party-state, however, the impact depended on how far down the line the decree was enforced, because nearly everyone dependent on the Iraqi state had been forced into party membership. The process was turned over to the controversial exile Ahmad Chalabi, the Pentagon’s favorite Iraqi son, who ran the line down as far as he could, the better to make all those who wanted work dependent on him. The “de-Ba‘ath” decree therefore effectively crippled attempts to revive the pre-war Iraqi bureaucracy. As the Iraqi middle class consisted largely of government employees, the very group the Americans expected to have the greatest stake in the new Iraq found itself financially bereft and fearful of the future.

The second decree, on May 23, 2003, dissolved Saddam’s numerous security organizations and the Iraqi army. No one contested that Iraq’s huge, over-officered and under-trained force had to be reformed, but U.S. generals (and Undersecretary of Defense for Policy Douglas Feith, who briefed Bush himself on this point before the war) had counted on the Iraqi military to supply the “missing link”: the forces necessary to stabilize the country and guard its borders in the absence of sufficient Coalition troops. Senior Iraqi officers who might pass the Ba‘ath purity test had already been contacted and were in extended conversation with ranking American commanders.

Feith, Bremer and his security expert, the veteran analyst Walter Slocombe, however, decided on abolition instead. Their reasoning was simple: The pre-war plan had been overtaken by events. There was no Iraqi army; it had “self-demobilized.” Abolishing what no longer existed anyway also had symbolic value to the Shi‘a and the Kurds. This act, however, outraged all the former soldiers and took U.S. generals by surprise. The blunder here was to assume that an Iraqi army gone on collective home leave could not be recalled and reconstituted into divisions that could pass the professional and political purity tests. (For his part, Bremer later boasted that three-quarters of the officers and all the NCOs of the new Iraqi army were veterans from the old one, proving, if inadvertently, that the Iraqi army had in fact not permanently “self-demobilized.”) Now, between Rumsfeld and Bremer, U.S. commanders could not expect either American or Iraqi reinforcements anytime soon. Moreover, a large pool of the disaffected had been created. So between his “shoot looters” proposal and his army-banning decree, Bremer and the military were already operating at dangerous cross-purposes.

The German analogy—de-Nazification and dissolution of the Wehrmacht after World War II—clearly preoccupied Bremer and his superiors. They seemed to forget, however, that unlike Iraq, Germany benefited from a meticulously planned American postwar administration, good local intelligence and a very large occupation army ruling a thoroughly defeated nation. The Bush Administration, in effect, was operating only half of the analogy, and the effort quickly foundered on reality.

Over the summer, Bremer concluded that there was no body on which to graft a new political head. Instead, a new state would have to be erected and, simultaneously, a new political order created. He saw also that such a feat of social and constitutional engineering would be increasingly constrained by time, money and military resources, for the simple reason that the “light footprint” strategy sought to avoid such an effort, and hence no part of the U.S. government was committed to it.

Despite early progress, such as the establishment of an advisory Iraq Governing Council for the disappointed exiles, the injection of literally tons of dollars and new dinars into the Iraqi economy, and the promise of much more from the October 2003 Madrid Donors Conference and the U.S. Congress, Bremer became increasingly aware that his instructions were impossible in the absence of basic security. He and his CPA colleagues worked a furious pace largely sequestered in the Green Zone, Saddam’s former palace complex. Outside the Green Zone, Baghdad and a few major cities, the CPA hardly existed. Volunteers soon despaired that it was too dangerous to move around. Some of his CPA charges, pressed on him by the White House personnel office, were not expert enough at anything to justify their assignments. Meanwhile, the Pentagon’s micromanagement, known as the “8,000 mile screwdriver”, frustrated requests.

Worst of all, Bremer sensed the growing insurgency. On August 19, 2003, a suicide bomber attacked the UN Mission, headed by the experienced diplomat Sergio de Mello, killing him and ending the UN presence. Insurgents then systematically targeted recently repaired infrastructure, hobbling electricity and oil production. The CIA failed to find weapons of mass destruction, and failed at much else besides in “reading” postwar Iraq. Yet despite all this, Rumsfeld and the local commanders were adamant on troop reductions. When Bremer detected the incipient danger of a second insurgency—a Shi‘a one led by the young demagogic cleric, Muqtada al-Sadr—the American military refused to suppress him, even though the Shi‘a parties supported Bremer’s request. Meanwhile, the quarrelsome Governing Council proved of little value.

Act II: Exit Strategy
By late October 2003, Bremer had come to oppose the very plan he had been sent to execute. He wanted much more time, at least two years to build self-sustaining Iraqi political institutions, and many more troops to conduct counterinsurgency. But these ideas ran contrary to those of his superiors, notably Rumsfeld, who advocated a quick assignment of sovereignty to the Governing Council (the Wolfowitz-Feith scheme) coupled with an accelerated turnover of security responsibilities to newly recruited Iraqi forces. During late October meetings in Washington, Bremer found that he was no longer the Pentagon’s man. Andrew Card, the President’s Chief of Staff, suggested he was being “set up” for blame if Rumsfeld should have to go through a full rotation of forces in spring 2004, mobilizing Reserve units in an election year. So Bremer played his best card to Card, telling him he would like to leave his post in May 2004. The marathon man had become a sprinter after all.

After an indecisive NSC meeting on October 29, Bush joined Bremer in another exercise séance, where Bremer quoted a CIA estimate that “the enemy believes American leadership is more focused on an exit strategy than prosecuting the war.” Bush assured him that the United States was still prepared for a marathon, but he did not try to dissuade Bremer from leaving. Clearly, the jig was up, and Bremer returned to Baghdad, a man in a big hurry. He was therefore not surprised when Vice President Cheney told him that the Pentagon was hell-bent on an exit, and not surprised either when Bush decided in mid-November to press for early sovereignty, a March 1, 2004 target date for a constitution, and elections to be held soon thereafter. As Bremer immediately recognized, this schedule was either impossible or, if pushed hard anyway, a formula for a communal train wreck. The de facto Shi‘a leader, Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, demanded elections before writing a constitution in order to ensure Shi‘a majority power, but both the Kurds and the Sunnis demanded constitutionally grounded minority protection before an election.

At this dark hour, Bremer was buoyed temporarily when Bush managed a surprise trip to Baghdad for Thanksgiving and, on December 14, 2003, American soldiers captured Saddam. This marked the high point of Bremer’s personal prestige, but he knew that personal prestige was not enough. Besides, Bremer had a first rule for Iraq that kept his enthusiasm in check: “If you get what appears to be good news, it usually means you’re not fully informed.”

Squeezed between a quick-step schedule demanded by Washington and a recalcitrant Iraqi political reality, Bremer did his best to persuade the local parties that their maximum objectives could not be obtained: There could be no Sunni dictatorship, no independent Kurdistan, no Shi‘a Islamic Republic. He thought the parties could be brought to agreement if a written constitution more or less matched this natural balance. After several false starts, on March 8, 2004, the three major Iraqi communities finally initialed a deal. The winning formula turned out to be a custodial government to prepare a constitution, its bona fides based on a “pre-constitution” called the “Transitional Authority Law” that guaranteed Kurdish and Sunni rights. Sovereignty would be turned over on June 30, 2004, with elections scheduled for early 2005.

This political triumph, however, was promptly threatened by two rebellions. On March 31, 2004, four American security contractors were murdered, and their bodies mutilated, in Fallujah, a town already infamous as a haven for Sunni insurgents, including Abu Musab al-Zarqawi’s suicide bombers. Almost simultaneously, Sadr’s Shi‘a gang revolted. These eruptions ended the Pentagon’s plans for a quick exit, and, in Bremer’s initial view, offered a last best chance for the United States to assert a decisive military authority that would ease the task of the new Iraqi government in formation.

At the moment of truth, however, Bremer (and Lakhdar Brahimi, the UN envoy helping the constitutional negotiations) feared that crushing al-Sadr and Fallujah would collapse the Governing Council. The Shi‘a and Sunni parties simply could not be seen making deals with the CPA while large-scale American military action played out amid suffering civilian populations. What to do? On Good Friday, an emergency NSC meeting ended with Bush deciding that the June 30 sovereignty transition date had to be met, hence the use of U.S. military force would be restrained. On the ground, the American counterattack became a slow squeeze of al-Sadr and an inconclusive siege of Fallujah. Washington had flinched. Compounding Bremer’s plight at the height of the military crises, photos of the Abu Ghraib prison abuses were published on April 28.

Bremer redoubled his efforts. On May 31, the new interim government, under the premiership of the secular Shi‘a Iyad Allawi, had finally taken shape, complete with the Transitional Authority Law. This paved the way for the UN Security Council to recognize it on June 8 and to guarantee legal authority for the Coalition Multinational Force to continue its supporting role until Iraq’s new government held elections under a new constitution no later than January 31, 2005. Bremer had not saved American policy in Iraq, but he believed he bought it more time. If Washington continued to will the end without willing the means, however, there was little more he could do about it.

Despite congratulatory leave-taking, Bremer departed from Iraq on a sour note. In December 2004, his van had been attacked; he had escaped assassination primarily because a traffic jam delayed the suicide bombers. His security guards argued that the June 30 turnover date was a big bullseye. So abruptly on the morning of June 28, Bremer conducted a hastily assembled turnover to a surprised Iraqi Chief Justice in Iyad Allawi’s office. At the airport, he pretended to leave on one aircraft then jetted out on another.

Bremer’s Iraq exit: June 28, 2004 [credit: AFP/Getty Images]

Upon his return to Washington, Jerry Bremer received the Medal of Freedom from President Bush and numerous accolades from Congress. He told reporters he was going to fish for a while, and write a book. The book, My Year in Iraq, achieved mixed acclaim and good sales, but in 2006 the war was going badly because, as Bremer had feared, the Administration had never brought to bear sufficient power and determination. Conditions within Iraq continued to deteriorate.

For that reason, if not for others, antiwar Democrats gained control of Congress in November 2006. On February 6, 2007, Rep. Henry Waxman (D-CA), the new Chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, summoned Bremer, clad in his familiar pin stripes but without the hiking boots he wore in Baghdad, to a Capitol Hill hearing. To the amusement of all those who knew the desperate Baghdad summer of 2003, Waxman fixated on denouncing Bremer’s distribution of Iraqi cash to an impoverished population without—horror of horrors—proper accounting. The tragic aftermath of Saddam’s fall had become congressional farce.

Waxman’s political pantomime aside, Bremer knew the real issues. He foresaw that “constitutionalism” in itself would not end the violence. What was not done in spring 2004 would have to be done later. In 2005, U.S. forces destroyed Fallujah. Al-Sadr, however, was allowed into the election process, becoming a key supporter of Prime Minister Ibrahim Jaaferi and then Nouri al-Maliki, both of whom provided political protection for his increasingly murderous militia. Long before, however, Bremer had lost any illusions about the Iraqis themselves, or, more specifically, their would-be political leaders. He respected Iraqi culture and Muslim mores—what he knew of them. He learned some Arabic and practiced a professional diplomat’s tact. Nevertheless, Bremer grew weary of what he called “Persian” negotiating methods (roughly equivalent to “moving the goalposts”), and he found few leaders able to rise above tribe and sect. He also got a full, bitter taste of what British Prime Minister Tony Blair called the Arab “grievance culture”, whereby all misfortunes were attributed to Americans, Britons or the Zionists, amplified in the Shi‘a case to cover a thousand years of Sunni misdeeds. His parting words to the Iraqis—“You have your country now. . . . Take good care of it”—expressed a hope. Hope was many things, but a policy it was not. And remaking an Iraqi state recently broken was simply not Rumsfeld’s policy. President Bush, meanwhile, still nourished the ambitions of a marathon man with the resources of a sprinter.

Cromer’s Egypt
I turned with relief from the tale of a botched U.S. venture in Iraq to Lord Cromer’s masterful command in Egypt. Here was a story, so I thought, not of the unwilling and the unprepared but of a highly prepared proconsul, willingly supported. That proved true eventually, but it was not so at first. Indeed, Cromer’s first year bore an uncanny resemblance to Bremer’s.2

When Evelyn Baring, later Lord Cromer, arrived in Cairo on September 11, 1883, he had already distinguished himself as a soldier and administrator. Born in 1841 to a prosperous banking family, Baring had a Churchillian upbringing: neglectful parents, poor schooling and, on his own part, rebellious behavior. He was then sent to the British army, the Victorian destination for the well-born but dimwitted. There, like Churchill, Baring acquired discipline, and when his mind awakened he worked hard to educate himself, learning among other things the Latin and Greek he had earlier avoided.

An artilleryman, Baring soon excelled as observer and analyst. He witnessed part of General Grant’s Wilderness Campaign near the end of the Civil War, losing a cap to a Confederate sharpshooter. Thereafter, he entered the new Staff College, joined the Intelligence Branch and became an expert on the French and German armies. Baring predicted not only that France would lose the Franco-Prussian War but even the location of the decisive battle. In 1872, his cousin Lord Northbrook took him to India following the assassination of the previous Viceroy. There, Baring learned administration, security and intelligence, including the cultivation of the lively local press. He also manifested a gift for public finance.

Baring emerged fully formed from his Indian experience. Low taxes, local knowledge and aiding the peasants were keys to success. A paragon of integrity, Baring exuded a distant dignity that reflected his reserved personality. His intolerance of fools made him formidable—an impression reinforced by his six-foot stature. Baring also exhibited the usual prejudices, disliking Catholics (though he married one) and Jews (the Baring Brothers’ rivals were the Rothschilds). More significantly, Baring thought Islam a real obstacle to progress. A Whig-Liberal he joined Gladstone in denouncing Disraeli’s pro-Ottoman policy. Nonetheless, he accepted Lord Salisbury’s offer to join the Anglo-French mission to Egypt in 1877, technically as an employee of the Khedive Ismail, to repair that country’s woeful finances. The Khedive so disliked Baring’s report that he fired him, but Ismail was forced to abdicate under international pressure. The report’s findings were applied, and Baring returned to India.

“The Most Incapable Ministry”
In 1882, Colonel Ahmad Urabi of the Egyptian army revolted against the Powers and the Khedive on the grounds that the 1877 financial agreements deprived Egypt of its independence. European lives and, ultimately, control of the Suez Canal were at stake, and Prime Minister Gladstone dispatched a British army to crush the revolt. This done, Britain faced mounting international opposition and the cost of a large garrison. Gladstone did not want to “own” Egypt and he needed a Liberal who knew the country to evacuate the 20,000 plus British forces within a year. And thus it was that Evelyn Baring became Consul General in Cairo, with instructions to establish a Khedival government that would satisfy international creditors and Britain’s interests, in effect remaking Egypt even as the British army departed.

Egypt had been broken and remade once before, when Napoleon’s invasion in 1799 led to the overthrow of the Mameluk dynasty by the soldier Muhammad Ali. He refashioned Egypt on French lines and, indeed, until his ambitions were thwarted by a British-led international coalition, the country was considered an astonishing success. But Egypt was now living well beyond its means. After a short time in the country, Baring concluded that the Khedive was a tyrant, the accounts impenetrable, the Egyptian army too large and the people incapable of self-government. By July 1884, he was back in London, arguing against evacuation and for reform, new institutions and eventually the independence of Egypt (and Sudan, then controlled by Egypt) from the Ottoman Empire.

This argument was overtaken by dramatic events in the Sudan. Back in November 1883, an Egyptian expeditionary force, officered by Colonel William Hicks of the British army, had been massacred by the forces of the Mahdi, a Sudanese rebel who intended to purify Sudan en route to renewing the Caliphate, in his opinion laid low by infidels and traitors. The evacuation of Egyptians and Europeans from Sudan was added to Cromer’s mission, but the Egyptian government resigned rather than carry out the order, to be replaced by the efficient but unpopular Nubar Pasha, a Coptic Christian. In a strange little dance, Baring and Nubar played off each other, explaining to their respective masters that it was unsafe for the British to leave until Sudan was settled, and that the British should suppress the Mahdi. Instead, Gladstone ordered the celebrated General Charles “Chinese” Gordon to evacuate the Sudan. Baring thought Gordon a violent drunk; still, he approved the choice, so long as Gordon was under his command. In a prophetic second thought, however, Baring wrote: “A man who habitually consults with the Prophet Isaiah when he is in difficulty, is not apt to obey the orders of anyone.”

Gordon entered the Sudan by announcing that he had come to leave, a signal that instantly eliminated any cooperation he might have gotten from the Mahdi’s opposition. He was soon besieged in Khartoum. Gladstone dallied and Gordon perished, his rescuers arriving two days too late on January 30, 1885. Reeling from the disaster, which was soon amplified by the publication of Gordon’s private journals, Gladstone reversed course, suggesting that Britain might have to stay in Egypt for five years. This, however, wrecked Baring’s carefully contrived international financial conference in July 1885, which fell prey to the suspicions of the French and others that England intended to annex Egypt. Small wonder that he confided to his diary that Gladstone had run “the most incapable ministry—as regards foreign affairs—that I believe ever ruled England.” Cromer’s first year and a half had been disastrous.

Baring thought he was finished, but then Gladstone’s government fell, rose, then finally fell again to Lord Salisbury’s Tories in July 1886. That November, Baring wrote a colleague, “If a civilised Power takes a semi-barbarous country it must make up its mind quickly whether to go or to stay.” By July 1887, the Sudan, the Canal, the other powers, the debt and the Khedive had made up Salisbury’s mind. He decided to stay.

Baring and Salisbury got along famously. The arch-Liberal and arch-Tory, however, did have one major difference: In Baring’s words, Salisbury believed that “the political regeneration of Mohammedism was possible”, but “I don’t agree.” The Tory statesman hoped the Ottoman Empire could be regenerated; the Liberal proconsul wanted it reformed beyond recognition or dismembered. This reflected a deeper division over Empire: Could rule over others be justified by self-interest alone, or must the ruled also benefit? Baring answered by skillfully pitching the Canal and India to the imperial-minded Tories, and a civilizing mission to the Liberals, thereby satisfying both Queen and conscience.

The Long Haul
By the summer of 1887, at age 46, the proconsul was set for his life’s work. Lytton Strachey wrote of Baring in The Eminent Victorians (1918) that “his views were long, and his patience even longer.” Creating what we would call today a “virtual state”, Baring retained the façade of Egypt’s government, complete with Khedive and ministries, while running them from behind and inside through handpicked British experts. Nubar Pasha characterized the relationship: “The British are easy to deceive. But when you think you have deceived them, you get a tremendous kick in the backside.” When Nubar challenged Baring over the appointment of the Police Inspector General after the British appointee died in 1888, claiming it was time for an Egyptian, Nubar himself felt Baring’s foot against his backside: He was forcibly retired from public office by the Khedive. A more pliable Riaz Pasha fell in 1891 when he contested Baring on judicial reform. A yet more pliable Mustafa Fahim occupied the post for most of the next 16 years.

Baring also made sure to dominate the administration, the intelligence services and the military. He started small with 366 Britons and a garrison reduced to 5,000 troops, but the number of Britons in the Egyptian civil service grew steadily and the troops could be readily reinforced by British units rotating to India through the Canal. So did the subventions to journalists and the press.

Last and not least came the reforms themselves. After assuring fiscal stability through debt retirement and other economic stringencies, Baring eliminated the corvée (forced labor) and flogging for taxes. He built canals and dams, notably the original Aswan Dam, which greatly increased cotton production. Baring was not much interested in education beyond technical training, but he insisted throughout on an honest public service and judiciary. He also insisted on his own hard work. Baring spent most of his time in the office, venturing infrequently up the Nile on tour and into Cairo—already a big city of several hundred thousand residents, including thirty to forty thousand Europeans. When he did travel the short distance between his office and the Khedive’s palace, his carriage was attended by fifty cavalry. To the dismay of British units posted in Egypt, Baring often insisted on marches in full regalia through different parts of Cairo, the better to impress the residents.

After some years of slow but steady improvement in Egypt, Baring was ennobled in March 1892 as the first Lord Cromer, taking the name from the family home in the midlands. This gratification, however, soon dissipated. Khedive Taufig had died suddenly in January 1892 at age forty and his son Abbas II, 17 years of age, European educated and ambitious, became the new ruler. Then in July, a Liberal government replaced Salisbury. Thus, when Abbas challenged Cromer frontally by dismissing his favorite Prime Minister on January 14, 1893, he could not be sure of his backing. So Cromer decided to impose his way on both London and Cairo. He wrote to Lord Rosebery, the new Foreign Secretary, of his fear of a plot backed by the French and the Ottomans through Abbas to dislodge England. Why not simply seize Egypt’s government and be done with the meddlers?

The Liberals were taken aback. Rosebery explained to Queen Victoria that Cromer’s recent gout might have affected his judgment. When Cromer demanded military reinforcements, however, the Liberals, like the Tories, remembered the Gordon disaster. The Black Watch Regiment, bound for India, was diverted. Cromer then chose, unwisely, to humiliate Abbas by forcing the dismissal of both the Prime Minister and the newly selected commander of the Egyptian army. In the wake of this affair, pro-British Egyptian politicians were discredited, Nubar Pasha declaring, “There is no longer an Egyptian government!” The Khedive became a permanent enemy.

In 1896, Lord Salisbury once more led the British government. On the rebound from the mess with the Khedive, Cromer wanted to recover the Sudan, a highly popular idea among the Egyptians. The Mahdi was dead of natural causes, but his Khalifal successor was raiding the border. Cromer needed a general, an army, and someone else’s money to build the railroad needed to transport a modern force into Sudan. Lord Kitchener was the general, England would provide the army, and Cromer would command it all or he would resign. Salisbury agreed.

Then came the money. London would not finance a war in the Sudan and the building of a dam at Aswan simultaneously, so Cromer persuaded Sir Ernest Cassel (Jewish but not a Rothschild) to fund it, giving him an option to buy remaining public (once Khedival) lands in lieu of a British government guarantee. Kitchener then headed south slowly with a mixed force of 25,800, one-third of them British, building the railroad as he went. Salisbury urged haste as the French were engaged further south in what would become the Fashoda Incident. On September 2, 1898, the battle of Omdurman sealed the Khalif’s defeat. Cromer thought less well of Kitchener, however, after the general allowed the desecration of the Mahdi’s tomb and the dismemberment of his body in revenge for Gordon. This raised a storm of protest in London, angered the Queen, and greatly encouraged Cromer’s enemies, largely Liberal anti-imperialists who were busily publicizing his “misrule” of Egypt. Another group of critics was outraged when he announced that Sudan’s way of life would continue: slavery yes; Christian missionaries no!

Amid these storms, Cromer suffered the worst blow of his life. His beloved wife, Ethel, suffering from Bright’s disease, died on October 16, 1898. They had been married 22 years, in love for 35. He was now bereft of the emotional light of his life.

Dispensing with the Indespensable
As the century turned, England had been in Egypt for 17 years. Longevity gave Britain and Cromer increasing authority to change the complex arrangements of the debt and the international claims. Debt retirement freed cash reserves for public works in Egypt and the economy boomed on cotton and foreign investment. Cromer believed England indispensable to Egypt, and himself indispensable to them both. But then his health failed. After a bad bout of gout and intestinal troubles, he decided to take a four-month rather than three-month leave annually. He felt so poorly that he turned down the new Liberal government’s offer of Foreign Secretary in December 1905.

Two crises then became his undoing. Cromer got a British battle fleet to intimidate the Ottomans over the poorly delineated provinces to the north. (It was called the Taba Incident, and indeed it was about the same issue that plagued Egyptian-Israeli relations into the 1990s.) London thought Cromer had grossly overreacted to a German-sponsored railroad being built near the area. Then came the Dinshawai Incident on June 13, 1906. A small British army party hunting pigeons got into a brawl with some villagers, and one British captain died of his injuries. Cromer resolved on swift justice, using a special mixed court he had appointed in 1895 to try military cases (Butros Butros-Ghali, then acting Minister of Justice and ancestor of the future Foreign Minister and UN Secretary General of the same name, presided.) Four of the villagers were sentenced to hang and eight to be flogged publicly.

Cromer left Egypt before the trial, but his second wife’s illness en route delayed his arrival in London until June 30. Meanwhile, Cairo and London both were agog with protests against the sentences and Cromer’s regime. The government’s defense in Parliament was discredited by inaccurate information. In Egypt, the nationalist cause revived. Between the two events, Cromer was badly undermined, for he relied upon a consensus in Britain that the occupation was uplifting the native people, even as it served imperial interests. Taba seemed out of scale to imperial interests, and Dinshawi suggested that “Cromerism” itself was arbitrary and cruel. His health broken, Cromer resigned in March 2007.

Cromer’s departure after 24 years of swagger and hard work was welcomed by most Egyptians. All faulted him for failing to restore self-rule; a few respected his economic and social improvements. Back in England, a grateful Parliament awarded Cromer £50,000. He was frequently honored and consulted but did not rest, writing Modern Egypt, two volumes sometimes indiscreet. Everywhere he repeated his familiar message: Islam was a spent and wrongheaded force; only Europeans could train the Muslims to modernity. As for Egypt, he summed up the alternatives: In the absence of England or some new cohesive civilized class, Egypt would be “easy prey to either the nationalist demagogue . . . or that of some religious fanatic.”

Cromer died on January 29, 1917. He is hardly remembered in Britain, but generations of Egyptians have been taught to revile him as the archenemy. (Sadat recalled being taught ballads about Dinshawai as a child in the 1920s.) Despite the 1952 Revolution, however, one can still see Cromer’s Modern Egypt on display. It is still virtual, with a parliamentary façade but real rule by the coterie around Mubarak backstopped by the army and the secret police. And the real choice he had predicted in 1906 was manifest. Egypt, “his” Egypt, is now in the hands of the “demagogue nationalists.” The alternative is still the religious fanatic.

Bremer and Cromer
Bremer and Cromer are very different people. The American, diplomat and coordinator, affable and approachable; the Englishman, soldier and administrator, imperious and distant. They also lived in very different times. Although each represented the dominant power of their eras, imperial Britain at its zenith did not have anywhere near the resources of 21st-century America.

Cromer, however, could call upon a national flexibility that Bremer lacked. While the Empire had strong opponents in Britain, Victorian England was prepared to rule over others in the national interest (Tory) or the civilizing mission (Liberal). The breaking and making of states, either incorporated into the empire or “protected” with a façade of self-government, was therefore the way one did business. Americans, by contrast, oppose “rule over others” in principle. In practice they have occasionally done it, but deemed it mostly a sin. The casus belli has also changed. In the 19th century, default on debts begat an invasion. In the 21st century, it begets an IMF rescue.

Bremer and Cromer also differed sharply about the people they governed. The American respected the locals and their Muslim traditions. The Englishman denigrated Islam and instead measured local leaders against Roman, Greek and Protestant Christian ideas. At bottom, Bremer wanted out and Cromer wanted in.

The countries were different, too. Iraq was a heterogeneous and recent creation unsure of itself and its past. Egypt was and is a universe unto itself, proud and eternal. Moreover, British intelligence proved proficient and competent, America’s the very opposite. Finally, of course, there was time itself. Bremer had but a year; Cromer nearly a quarter century. The American was constantly forced to act in haste; the Englishman could take the long view.

Despite these differences, there are surprising similarities. While unlike in personality, both Bremer and Cromer were profoundly patriotic, serving despite great personal risk. Both represented governments that had decided to break a key Muslim state: in Bush’s case, because of faulty intelligence about weapons of mass destruction and the War on Terror; in Gladstone’s case, because of the Canal and India. Both governments wanted to do their breaking on the cheap. Bremer and Cromer were therefore assigned “missions impossible”, their timetables set by distant politicians interested primarily in swift military withdrawal. And both faced strong international opposition.

Nor could the Ambassador or the Consul be sure of home support. Bremer lost his early when he opposed Rumsfeld’s plans and ran afoul of his generals. Gladstone changed instructions twice, and Salisbury contradicted Gladstone. And both Bremer and Cromer compounded their own trouble: Bremer thought to break Saddam’s regime and instead broke the remnants of the Iraqi state; Cromer supported the Gordon mission but then could not alter its tragic outcome.

Other similarities may arise, as well. Is Bush’s surge and General David Petraeus’ remarks about prolonging it well into 2008 a harbinger of a Salisbury-like reversal to “stay”? If Nubar gave way to Riaz Pasha and Riaz Pasha then to Mustafa Fahim, does that mean that Ibrahim Jaaferi’s giving way to Nouri al-Maliki predicts Maliki’s giving way to a more pliant successor, as well? Are the information operations of the U.S. Army in Baghdad comparable to Cromer’s suborning of the Egyptian press? Were Kitchener’s desecration of the Mahdi’s tomb and Cromer’s own Dinshawai Incident comparable to Abu Ghraib and the murderous behavior of soldiers like Stephen Green? Can we compare the effects of Cromer’s parades through Cairo with Bremer’s proconsular posturings in Baghdad?

These are interesting questions, but as the late Robert Strausz-Hupé liked to say, not half as interesting as the answers. Meanwhile, these sagas offer us three secrets, mostly hiding in plain sight, that could instruct American statesmen confronted by similar challenges tomorrow.

No Will, No Way: Presidents who break states but are unwilling to provide the plan and resources to remake them, including the suppression of insurgencies, eventually pay with their own reputations, not to speak of lives, treasure and national interests. Moreover, insurgencies—civil wars by definition—are a predictable outcome of state-breaking and they are best quashed early. This is a labor intensive exercise that involves the three “Ps” and the three “Cs”: pursuit of insurgents, protection of vital facilities and promotion of reconstruction, combined with cooption, corruption and coercion of opponents.

No Magic Bullets, Please: British forces in 1882 shared with American forces in 2003 a huge technological advantage that gave relatively small units enormous lethality. But the British never thought that was enough to prevail. So Cromer applied intelligence and all the rest of what is today called counterinsurgency doctrine. He skillfully co-opted and corrupted, leaving the smallest number to be coerced, although plagued by a “banditry” problem with occasional nationalist overtones. When late in his career Cromer exercised too much coercion, he badly hurt the British position. There are simply no technological fixes for wars of occupation when national or tribal energies are engaged. Too few troops using too much firepower is a sure recipe for failure.

One Man, One Command: Unity of command over civilian and military resources vested in the man on the spot is vital to success. Cromer insisted on it and got it. Unity of command also has a “home” dimension. Cromer’s experience, reputation and arguments appealed to both parties, giving him resiliency and winning him time. Bremer, through no fault of his own, possessed neither unity of command nor a convivial home front.

So does the Humpty Dumpty corollary to the Pottery Barn rule mean that the “breaking and making” of states exceeds American competence? Can any foreign power endow a broken state with a political system not of its own people’s making?

Bremer tells us that it cannot be done on the quick and cheap. Cromer tells us that such experiments take a long time and considerable expense, and may still fail in the absence of a local “center” that can avoid extremes. The “foreigner’s gift” of a new political system (Fouad Ajami’s phrase) is therefore likely to be “degifted” (Jerry Seinfeld’s phrase) when the foreigner leaves.

If our main justification for breaking a state is the export of our ideals, then the record suggests that we not try it at all. If it be to safeguard our interests, then we will find a more compelling source of action. While in the end the British parliamentary gift was degifted, Britain’s position in Egypt proved vital to its survival in two World Wars. Ultimately, the American attempt to remake the politics of Iraq—and the broader Middle East—must pivot on the value of our interest in keeping that tortured region from an even worse fate than has already befallen it, and us.

1. Subsequent quotations derive from Bremer, with Malcolm McConnell, My Year In Iraq (Simon & Schuster, 2006), unless otherwise noted. 2. This section’s source is Roger Owen, Lord Cromer (Oxford, 2004), unless otherwise noted.

FRIDAY, April 20, 2007

April 19, 2007 GS

MONDAY through WEDNESDAY, April 16 through 18, 2007

SATURDAY and SUNDAY, April 14 and 15, 2007

Is it the Nor'easter we are having at this moment, or is it the news of the week?
This is not the Armageddon.  But I believe that America is in for a prolonged period of hard times, unless all citizens start paying attention and start voting.


THURSDAY and FRIDAY, April 12 and 13, 2007

Don Imus.  The only reason that this warrants a comment here is because of the larger story.  Imus should have been fired 30 years ago, and at any time in the intervening period.  His ilk began the race to the bottom in civility,  But what's important is the hypocracy of liberals and their media, the gall of "leaders of the Black Community" oxymoron if there ever was one...and the on-going stupidity of their followers.  No race, creed or color has ever succeeded in escaping being permanently marginalized in this melting pot country without integrating into its society.  This never means forsaking their own culture.  It also does not support dwelling on (or wallowing in) differences to the exclusion of commonality.  I can make this point no better than as appears in the article by Cal Thomas ("Free Speech Amid A Culture Of Hypocrisy", in The Day (, Friday, April 13, 2007, Commentary, pA7.  To use an old but appropriate word, Don Imus has always been a JERK.  But what many members of Black Community are allowing to be done in their name by their "leaders" is a total abrogation of responsibility to themselves and their children.


WEDNESDAY, April 11, 2007

Having already expressed an opinion on the recent comments by Japan's Prime Minister Abe, I offer the following facts and opinion.  GS

Tokyo Drift?
Why the "history issue" shouldn't discredit Japan's new foreign policy.
by Duncan Currie
Daily Standard
04/09/2007 12:00:00 AM

THIS PAST JANUARY, speaking to the North Atlantic Council, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe laid out an admirable vision for Japanese foreign policy. "We have to elevate democracy in places where it is emerging; consolidate respect for human rights where it is suppressed; and offer hope for a brighter future in situations where people are yielding to despair," Abe said. "Our aim is to create a safer world where every individual can live with pride. To make this goal a reality, we need to be dynamic, and never fear casting off the shackles of dogma that we have long taken for granted. My country is ready to meet the world's rising expectations for our enhanced role in the international community." Unfortunately for Abe and other Japanese conservatives, playing that "enhanced role" in the future may require a deeper and more forthright scrutiny of the past.

Thanks in part to its foreign aid policies and burgeoning internationalism, Japan now commands remarkable global goodwill, especially in Southeast Asia. Abe hopes to spearhead a Japanese freedom agenda in that part of the world, while bolstering strategic ties with countries (principally the U.S., India, and Australia) that share "such fundamental values as freedom, democracy, human rights, and the rule of law." In order to facilitate a more robust security program, and better address the challenges posed by China and North Korea, he wants to revise the pacifist Article 9 of Japan's MacArthur-era constitution.

Critics suggest this will lead to "remilitarization." But Japan already has a military, known as the Self-Defense Forces (SDF), which has been deployed overseas for peacekeeping missions several times since the early 1990s. After 9/11, Japan sent SDF naval ships to the war in Afghanistan and SDF ground troops to the war in Iraq, both in noncombat roles. Long criticized for not making its fair share of global contributions, Japan demonstrated a willingness to do more. As former Economist editor and Japan expert Bill Emmott wrote in April 2004, the Iraq mission seemed to indicate that Japan would "play a fuller role internationally" and "truly be part of an international community."

Abe's proposed constitutional tinkering is relatively modest and incremental: He would keep the "No War" pledge, but would also make it easier for Japan to pursue collective self-defense and integrate the SDF into multilateral frameworks. Overall Japanese defense spending is still capped at an artificially low level. "The claims of Japanese 'remilitarization' are both inaccurate and overblown," says Michael Auslin, director of the Project on Japan-U.S. Relations at Yale. "It's a very prudent and responsible buildup that is still defensively oriented."

In short, Abe's basic agenda, building on the legacy of former Japanese prime minister Junichiro Koizumi, is healthy for Asia and healthy for global security. It is certainly healthy for the U.S.-Japan alliance. But Abe also gives credence to Japan's World War II revisionists. He regards the postwar Tokyo Trials with suspicion, and has unapologetically visited the Yasukuni Shrine, a private Shinto religious memorial that honors roughly 2.5 million Japanese war dead, including several war criminals from the Pacific theater such as Hideki Tojo. Many have observed that Abe, 52, is the first Japanese premier born after Hiroshima. We should also remember that his grandfather, Nobusuke Kishi, served as minister of commerce and industry during the war, and later became prime minister from 1957 to 1960.

So when, a few weeks ago, Abe whitewashed a terrible blight on Japan's war record, he needlessly raised red flags about his intentions and gave detractors fresh ammunition to cast him as a dangerous nationalist. Inside the Bush administration, the ensuing diplomatic row has placed pro-Japan officials on the defensive.
Speaking to reporters in Tokyo on March 1st, Abe appeared to deny that Japanese soldiers had directly "coerced" tens of thousands of Asian women into sexual slavery during World War II. Though Abe pledged to honor the Kono Statement, Japan's 1993 apology for the wartime brothels, and later personally apologized for the suffering of the "comfort women" (as they are euphemistically known in Japan), the damage was done. His groundbreaking trips to Beijing and Seoul last October suddenly lost their potency. Abe had given Japan a black eye. He earned scathing editorial rebukes from the New York Times, the Washington Post, and the Boston Globe.

"It's extremely bad politics internationally," says a former Bush administration official. "They're aiding and abetting their own enemies." According to this official, who is very pro-Japan, some senior Asia hands at the State Department now believe that Japan is "isolated" and "radioactive," and that Tokyo's role in the freedom agenda has been tarnished.

SO WHY WOULD Abe commit such a blunder? There are many possible explanations. His poll numbers are sagging and he wanted to fortify his conservative base prior to Upper House elections this July.

He is tired of being bullied over Japan's history by China and South Korea. He takes a somewhat revisionist view of World War II. He was responding to a caucus of over 100 members of parliament who have urged him to reconsider the apology delivered by then-Chief Cabinet Secretary Yohei Kono. He was mindful of a resolution introduced in the U.S. Congress by California Democrat Mike Honda, which calls on Tokyo to apologize frankly for the abuse of wartime sex slaves. He hopes to imbue the Japanese people with a sense of patriotism. He wants to make Japan "a beautiful country" and is uncomfortable with its dark past. He recognizes that many Japanese suffer from apology fatigue. He is leery of any apology that might compel Tokyo to pay financial reparations.

Whatever Abe's motivation, his comments were embarrassing and indefensible. They have also distracted attention from his foreign policy. Abe may be a nationalist, but he is hardly a revanchist militarist bent on repeating the 1930s. He has always been a staunchly pro-American nationalist--and the best guarantor against a genuine revival of Japanese militarism is a firm U.S. alliance. Abe has boosted bilateral security integration and, in particular, intensified cooperation on missile defense. "It is essential that Japan strengthen its alliance with the United States," he said in a recent speech at Japan's National Defense Academy. He has called the U.S.-Japan relationship "invaluable and irreplaceable," and has endorsed the late Mike Mansfield's argument that it represents "the most important bilateral relationship in the world, bar none."

"Abe is deeply conservative," says Thomas Berger, a Japan expert at Boston University. But "his basic agenda is quite reasonable." No question, Abe has accelerated Japan's evolution into a more muscular, assertive nation, which has meant loosening its pacifist straitjacket. In January Tokyo upgraded the Japan Defense Agency to formal ministry status. Abe's ultimate goal, long prized by Japanese conservatives, is to amend the pacifist Article 9. He hopes to drag Japan away from a guilt-driven foreign policy and toward "proactive diplomacy" based around democratic interests. Apologizing for World War II, which the Japanese have already done many times, is not his top priority, to put it mildly.

But Abe also speaks frequently of Japan's "new values"--"freedom, democracy, human rights, and the rule of law"--and the importance of what Foreign Minister Taro Aso calls "value-oriented diplomacy." Citing their "common values," Abe has pushed for a quadrilateral strategic dialogue among the U.S., Japan, India, and Australia. On March 13th he signed a defense pact with Australian prime minister John Howard, the first formal Japanese security agreement with a country other than the U.S. "Australia has no better friend or more reliable partner within the Asia-Pacific region than Japan," said Howard. Abe is also keen on embracing India, the world's largest democracy. Later this month, the U.S., Japan, and India will reportedly stage their first joint military exercise.

The hope is that greater cooperation among these four nations--America, Japan, Australia, and India--will check the rise of Chinese power and preserve a regional order favorable to democracy. It is a bold and provocative strategy, especially to Beijing, which is why, according to the former Bush official, Foggy Bottom has been reluctant to pursue the quadrilateral dialogue championed by Abe.

This highlights the same intra-administration split that has muddled U.S. policy on North Korea. "For the most part, the hawks are close to Japan," says the former Bush official, including J.D. Crouch, the number-two man at the National Security Council, and Vice President Dick Cheney. (Scooter Libby, incidentally, was very pro-Japan.) The doves, chiefly those at State, are said to be more wary of angering China and less thrilled with Japan's hard line on North Korea.

The pro-Japan Cheney wing has reportedly lost influence in recent months. Hence the North Korea nuclear agreement, which left many Japanese feeling cold. In a March 16th editorial, the centrist, pro-American Nikkei Shimbun, a Japanese financial newspaper, criticized the deal as a "risky departure" from Bush's "original strategy," which symbolized "the erosion of Washington's basic principles." The paper was specifically vexed about the easing of financial sanctions against Pyongyang. "The Bush administration's soft approach could derail international efforts to denuclearize the dangerous regime," it said, worrying that the United States might "settle for easy cosmetic solutions to extricate itself from problems concerning North Korea."

Tokyo also fears that U.S. diplomats may have marginalized the issue of those Japanese citizens who were kidnapped by North Korean agents during the 1970s and 1980s. "The overall impression is that we went wobbly," says the former Bush official (who recently traveled to Japan). The Japanese are "not happy," affirms a second former administration official. "They're worried about what [the deal] means." In an earlier editorial, on March 8th, the Nikkei warned that bilateral ties could "fall into a real crisis" unless U.S. diplomats assuaged Japanese anxiety. Should Japan feel entrapped or undermined, it might begin hedging on the alliance.

Still, strengthening the U.S.-Japan relationship remains a linchpin of mainstream Japanese foreign policy thought. "This is a very deep alliance," says David Kang, a Japan expert at Dartmouth's Tuck School of Business. "The U.S. and Japan clearly have so many interests in common." Kang is hopeful that the recent surge in business links may limit the amount of Sino-Japanese political tension that can emerge. (China, including Hong Kong, is now Japan's biggest trading partner.) But to resolve lingering East Asian historical spats, "The Chinese Communist Party has to change."

WHAT ABOUT TOKYO? It's true that demonizing Japan works well for Chinese and Korean populists. The Communist rulers in Beijing, who excel at whitewashing their own history, object to the security posture promoted by Koizumi and Abe, and therefore use the World War II card to poison Japan's image and raise the specter of resurgent militarism, all the while reaping large dollops of Japanese development aid. In Seoul, the left-wing government of President Roh Moo Hyun is also suspicious of Japanese defense policies, particularly on North Korea. After a brief thaw in the late 1990s and early 2000s, Japan-bashing is once again a widespread element of South Korean domestic politics, stoked by lingering animosity, the rise of pan-Korean nationalism, and the investigation of those Koreans who collaborated with the Japanese colonial regime between 1910 and 1945 (the years of the occupation).

Yet blaming China and South Korea for turning the "history issue" into a diplomatic bludgeon doesn't excuse Tokyo from its own failure to grapple honestly with the past. Japanese conservatives have a troubling tendency to downplay or sugarcoat various atrocities, such as the sex slaves and the Nanking massacre. This just hardens the impression that Japan has been less than forthright about historical culpability.

In his 2004 book, Japan's Quiet Transformation, historian Jeff Kingston, a professor at Temple University Japan, discusses why different generations might be sensitive about acknowledging the horrors of World War II. "For younger Japanese people, the burdens of history seem unfair and irrelevant: grandfather did those things and that is his problem," writes Kingston. "For many older Japanese, the exoneration of Emperor Showa provides a convenient cover: if the man in whose name a sacred war was waged was able to avoid responsibility, why should anyone else be held accountable? For pragmatic government officials, there is no pressing need to take official responsibility and the tab for compensation could prove very expensive."

In his new book, Japan Rising, National Bureau of Asian Research president Kenneth Pyle notes that younger Japanese of the postwar "Heisei" generation "have no living memory of the war," and thus "do not feel guilt or remorse for Japan's imperial past." Nor do they appreciate the swell of anti-Japanese nationalism in China and South Korea. There is also the matter of Japanese honor. A "recurrent characteristic of the Japanese response to the international system is a persistent obsession with status and prestige," writes Pyle. "Honor, as such, may be attributed to an individual, but it can also be attributed to groups and to nations." Probing Japan's imperial atrocities may conjure up acute feelings of dishonor.

At the same time, Japan's "historical amnesia" has been overstated, as have fears of rising Japanese nationalism. According to a poll conducted by the Asahi Shimbun newspaper last December, 85 percent of Japanese feel they should "reflect," at least to some degree, on their country's past aggression. When conservative media tycoon Tsuneo Watanabe used his Yomiuri Shimbun newspaper to run a series of articles examining Japan's war record, including the atrocities, he found that the public response was mostly positive. As Berger testified before a House panel in April 2005, "The large majority of Japanese high school--and even middle school--textbooks carry references to the history of Japanese atrocities and aggression in Asia."

Japan does seem to be wrestling with an identity crisis, prompted by such factors as its "Lost Decade" of economic misery, the ascendance of China, the North Korean threat, political scandals, a shrinking population, social alienation, a looming welfare crisis, rising inequality, and disputes over national purpose. Though Berger says Japan has become less parochial in recent years, and more amenable to outside cultural influences, the Japanese remain largely hostile to immigration. Kingston calls the new public mood "nationalism lite."

But he places it in context: "Japanese assertion of nationalism is a normal, and some might say healthy, reaction against Japan's prolonged subordination." There are nationalists "of different stripes and hues," including left-wing nationalists. (Domestic reaction to Abe's "comfort women" comments generally broke down along ideological lines, with Japanese progressives and liberals most upset.) "It would be a mistake," writes Kingston, "to assume that the mass of Japanese, or even their conservative leaders, actually identify with, much less support, extreme nationalism." Indeed, "Japanese scholars, educators, politicians, and journalists have robustly challenged efforts to whitewash the past."

To his credit, Abe has shown some flexibility on the history issue. On March 26th he once again expressed remorse for the wartime brothels and confirmed his support for the Kono Statement. This past October, during his visit to Beijing, Abe agreed to launch a joint Sino-Japanese history project in hopes of reaching a shared understanding of the past. Wen Jiabao is scheduled to visit Japan this week, the first such trip by a Chinese premier since 2000.

HOWEVER AWKWARD the history debate, those who consider Tokyo "radioactive" should note the results of a new BBC World Service poll, which found that Japan is one of the most popular countries on Earth. In a survey of some 28,000 people in 27 countries, 54 percent of respondents said Japan was a "mainly positive" influence in the world, tying it with Canada for first place in that category. "Out of 27 countries polled," said the survey authors, "24 gave Japan a positive rating, with just two giving it a negative and one divided." (The two negatives came, not surprisingly, from China and South Korea.) A stunning 84 percent of Indonesians and 70 percent of Filipinos consider Japanese influence "mainly positive," in addition to 74 percent of Canadians, 66 percent of Americans, and 55 percent of Australians.

India, Australia, Singapore, Vietnam, Thailand: All these countries (and others) are seeking to upgrade strategic cooperation with the Japanese. Tokyo is now working with the Southeast Asian nations of ASEAN on anti-terrorism operations. Without much fanfare, government officials have also embraced democracy promotion. "This is really a new idea," says a Japanese diplomat. "While not so openly assertive and high profile in [their] defense of human rights as the Americans or Europeans," writes Pyle, "the Japanese nevertheless have quietly made these values an important principle in their recent diplomacy with other Asian nations."

Looking back, it's striking how fast Japanese security policy has changed since the first Gulf War. "Japan has come a long, long way in a relatively short period of time," says a former Bush administration official. "It's really an extraordinary transformation." In Iraq and elsewhere, Japan has proved its mettle as a responsible international actor. "I think people should applaud Japan," says Auslin. True enough. But it would be easier if Abe and other leading conservatives came to proper terms with Japanese history. As Jeannie Suk and Noah Feldman wrote in the Wall Street Journal, "The denial of responsibility is an ongoing harm."

Duncan Currie is a reporter at THE WEEKLY STANDARD.

MONDAY and TUESDAY, April 9 and 10, 2007

The following article, which appears on the web site, , is a good subject for Easter Week...and a good blueprint for a life well-lived.  GS

By Judith Groch, Senior Writer, MedPage Today
Reviewed by Robert Jasmer, MD; Associate Clinical Professor of Medicine, University of California, San Francisco
April 10, 2007CHICAGO, April 10 -- A majority of physicians in a large survey declared that religion and spirituality, including divine intervention, affect their patients' health.

The survey of more than a thousand practicing physicians found that 56% believe religion and spirituality have a significant effect on health, researchers reported in the April 9 issue of the Archives of Internal Medicine.
Action Points

Nearly as many said that on occasion the influence is attributable to divine intervention, said Farr A. Curlin, M.D., of the University of Chicago, and colleagues. Yet only a few said that these beliefs change "hard" medical outcomes.

"We find it notable, particularly in light of perennial discussions about the relationship between science and faith, that most physicians apply medical science while maintaining a belief that God intervenes in patients' health," said Dr. Curlin and colleagues.

The survey also found that the physicians' perceptions were strongly influenced by their own religious convictions. "Patients are likely to encounter quite different opinions about the relationship between their religion and spirituality and their health, depending on the religious characteristics of their physicians," the authors wrote.

Although many patients draw on prayer and other religious resources to manage the spiritual challenges that arise from illness, controversy has remained about whether, and to what extent, religion and spirituality help or harm patients, Dr. Curlin and colleagues said.

To study this relationship, the researchers mailed a cross-sectional survey in 2003 to a stratified, random potential sample of 2,000 practicing U.S. physicians, 65 or younger, representing all specialties.

Physicians were asked to estimate how often patients mentioned religion and spiritual issues, how much these issues influenced health, and in what ways the influence manifested itself.

The survey also included questions to determine the physicians' own religious characteristics, general observations, and interpretations of religion.

Among eligible physicians, the response rate was 63% (1,144 of 1,820), and the average age of the physicians was 49. Most physicians (56%) believed that spiritual issues had much or very much influence on health, while 54% believed that at times a supernatural being intervenes, the researchers reported.

However, although 85% of the physicians believed that the influence of spirituality is generally positive, only 6% perceived that these beliefs often changed "hard" medical outcomes.

Rather, the study found that 76% of the physicians believed that spirituality helps patients cope, 74% said that it gives patients a positive state of mind, while 55% reported that spirituality and religion provide emotional and practical support via the religious community.

Only 7% of the physicians said that spirituality often causes guilt, anxiety, or other negative emotions, while 2% said it leads patients to decline medically indicated therapy, and 4% reported that patients use it to avoid responsibility for their own health. Finally, about one-third said it can have these harmful influences sometimes.

The physicians' observations and interpretations were strongly influenced by their own religious beliefs, the researchers said.

Compared with those with low religiosity, highly religious physicians were substantially more likely to report that patients often mention spiritual issues (36% versus 11%; P<0.001).

They were also more likely to believe that religion and spirituality strongly influence health (82% versus 16%; P<0.001), and to interpret the influence of religion and spirituality in positive rather than negative ways, the researchers found.

These associations persisted in multivariate analyses that controlled for religious affiliation, region of practice, age, sex, ethnicity, and specialty.

In further analyses, comparing physicians with religious affiliations with those with no religious affiliation, Protestant physicians were more likely to report that their patients bring up spiritual issues and are more likely to believe that God intervenes, that spirituality helps patients cope, and sometimes prevents hard medical outcomes.

Catholic physicians put their faith in God's intervention first and also agreed that belief helps patients cope. They were less likely to say that belief causes negative emotions.

Physicians of other religious affiliations were more likely to report that their patients bring up spiritual issues, that God intervenes, and that spirituality strongly influences health and sometimes prevents hard medical outcomes.

Finally, physicians who practiced in the South, followed by the Midwest, were more likely to report that their patients often mention religious beliefs, with those in the West and Northeast not as likely to do so.

This survey indicated, said Dr. Curlin and colleagues, that religious issues may influence end-of-life care in which some patients and families express hopes for miracles. Because religious physicians may be more likely to share such hopes, further study is needed to explore how these differences may affect the care patients receive.

As a cross-sectional survey, this study was not able to explain why religious and non-religious physicians differed so markedly in their observations and interpretations, the researchers said.

Yet it is possible, they said, that other factors being equal, physicians with different religious or secular commitments may interpret the same evidence in different ways. What the secular physician may not notice or ignore, the religious physician may emphasize or exaggerate.

The study had important limitations, the investigators wrote. Although the study had a better-than-average response rate and there was no substantial evidence to suggest response bias, religious and other characteristics may have affected physicians' willingness to respond in unmeasured ways.

There may also have been other ways to define physicians' religiosity. However, the analyses found similar relationships for frequency of attendance at religious services and self-reported religiousness, the investigators said.

Limitations, notwithstanding, the investigators said, these findings challenge any attempt to create a single interpretation of the relationship between religion and health. The study lends support to recommendations by the Association of American Medical Colleges that physicians recognize how their own beliefs affect the way they provide care for their patients.

"Future studies should examine the ways physicians' religion (and secular) commitments shape their clinical engagements in these and other domains," Dr. Curlin concluded.

No financial disclosures were reported. The study was funded by the Greenwall Foundation of New York, the Robert Wood Johnson Clinical Scholars Program, and the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine.

SUNDAY, April 8, 2007

Easter Sunday.  For everyone who believes or can entertain a belief in the meaning of this day, it reminds us of our own coming resurrection after our deaths to a much better place...or not.  All others will have to take the following as just another day in this vale of tears. 
Illegal Diplomacy
Did Nancy Pelosi commit a felony when she went to Syria?
Wall Street Journal
Friday, April 6, 2007 11:30 a.m. EDT

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi may well have committed a felony in traveling to Damascus this week, against the wishes of the president, to communicate on foreign-policy issues with Syrian President Bashar Assad. The administration isn't going to want to touch this political hot potato, nor should it become a partisan issue. Maybe special counsel Patrick Fitzgerald, whose aggressive prosecution of Lewis Libby establishes his independence from White House influence, should be called back.

The Logan Act makes it a felony and provides for a prison sentence of up to three years for any American, "without authority of the United States," to communicate with a foreign government in an effort to influence that government's behavior on any "disputes or controversies with the United States." Some background on this statute helps to understand why Ms. Pelosi may be in serious trouble.

President John Adams requested the statute after a Pennsylvania pacifist named George Logan traveled to France in 1798 to assure the French government that the American people favored peace in the undeclared "Quasi War" being fought on the high seas between the two countries. In proposing the law, Rep. Roger Griswold of Connecticut explained that the object was, as recorded in the Annals of Congress, "to punish a crime which goes to the destruction of the executive power of the government. He meant that description of crime which arises from an interference of individual citizens in the negotiations of our executive with foreign governments."

The debate on this bill ran nearly 150 pages in the Annals. On Jan. 16, 1799, Rep. Isaac Parker of Massachusetts explained, "the people of the United States have given to the executive department the power to negotiate with foreign governments, and to carry on all foreign relations, and that it is therefore an usurpation of that power for an individual to undertake to correspond with any foreign power on any dispute between the two governments, or for any state government, or any other department of the general government, to do it."

Griswold and Parker were Federalists who believed in strong executive power. But consider this statement by Albert Gallatin, the future Secretary of the Treasury under President Thomas Jefferson, who was wary of centralized government: "it would be extremely improper for a member of this House to enter into any correspondence with the French Republic . . . As we are not at war with France, an offence of this kind would not be high treason, yet it would be as criminal an act, as if we were at war." Indeed, the offense is greater when the usurpation of the president's constitutional authority is done by a member of the legislature--all the more so by a Speaker of the House--because it violates not just statutory law but constitutes a usurpation of the powers of a separate branch and a breach of the oath of office Ms. Pelosi took to support the Constitution.

The Supreme Court has spoken clearly on this aspect of the separation of powers. In Marbury v. Madison, Chief Justice John Marshall used the president's authority over the Department of State as an illustration of those "important political powers" that, "being entrusted to the executive, the decision of the executive is conclusive." And in the landmark 1936 Curtiss-Wright case, the Supreme Court reaffirmed: "Into the field of negotiation the Senate cannot intrude, and Congress itself is powerless to invade it."
Ms. Pelosi and her Congressional entourage spoke to President Assad on various issues, among other things saying, "We came in friendship, hope, and determined that the road to Damascus is a road to peace." She is certainly not the first member of Congress--of either party--to engage in this sort of behavior, but her position as a national leader, the wartime circumstances, the opposition to the trip from the White House, and the character of the regime she has chosen to approach make her behavior particularly inappropriate.

Of course, not all congressional travel to, or communications with representatives of, foreign nations is unlawful. A purely fact-finding trip that involves looking around, visiting American military bases or talking with U.S. diplomats is not a problem. Nor is formal negotiation with foreign representatives if authorized by the president. (FDR appointed Sens. Tom Connally and Arthur Vandenberg to the U.S. delegation that negotiated the U.N. Charter.) Ms. Pelosi's trip was not authorized, and Syria is one of the world's leading sponsors of international terrorism. It has almost certainly been involved in numerous attacks that have claimed the lives of American military personnel from Beirut to Baghdad.

The U.S. is in the midst of two wars authorized by Congress. For Ms. Pelosi to flout the Constitution in these circumstances is not only shortsighted; it may well be a felony, as the Logan Act has been part of our criminal law for more than two centuries. Perhaps it is time to enforce the law.

Mr. Turner was acting assistant secretary of state for legislative affairs in 1984-85 and is a former chairman of the ABA standing committee on law and national security.
The War You're Not Reading About
By John McCain
Washington Post
Sunday, April 8, 2007; Page B07

I just returned from my fifth visit to Iraq since 2003 -- and my first since Gen. David Petraeus's new strategy has started taking effect. For the first time, our delegation was able to drive, not use helicopters, from the airport to downtown Baghdad. For the first time, we met with Sunni tribal leaders in Anbar province who are working with American and Iraqi forces to combat al-Qaeda. For the first time, we visited Iraqi and American forces deployed in a joint security station in Baghdad -- an integral part of the new strategy. We held a news conference to discuss what we saw: positive signs, underreported in the United States, that are reason for cautious optimism.

I observed that our delegation "stopped at a local market, where we spent well over an hour, shopping and talking with the local people, getting their views and ideas about different issues of the day." Markets in Baghdad have faced devastating terrorist attacks. A car bombing at Shorja in February, for example, killed 137 people. Today the market still faces occasional sniper attacks, but it is safer than it used to be. One innovation of the new strategy is closing markets to vehicles, thereby precluding car bombs that kill so many and garner so much media attention. Petraeus understandably wanted us to see this development.

I went to Iraq to gain a firsthand view of the progress in this difficult war, not to celebrate any victories. No one has been more critical of sunny progress reports that defied realities in Iraq. In 2003, after my first visit, I argued for more troops to provide the security necessary for political development. I disagreed with statements characterizing the insurgency as a "few dead-enders" or being in its "last throes." I repeatedly criticized the previous search-and-destroy strategy and argued for a counterinsurgency approach: separating the reconcilable population from the irreconcilable and creating enough security to facilitate the political and economic solutions that are the only way to defeat insurgents. This is exactly the course that Petraeus and the brave men and women of the American military are pursuing.

The new political-military strategy is beginning to show results. But most Americans are not aware because much of the media are not reporting it or devote far more attention to car bombs and mortar attacks that reveal little about the strategic direction of the war. I am not saying that bad news should not be reported or that horrific terrorist attacks are not newsworthy. But news coverage should also include evidence of progress. Whether Americans choose to support or oppose our efforts in Iraq, I hope they could make their decision based on as complete a picture of the situation in Iraq as is possible to report. A few examples:

· Sunni sheikhs in Anbar are now fighting al-Qaeda. Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki visited Anbar's capital, Ramadi, to meet with Sunni tribal leaders. The newly proposed de-Baathification legislation grew out of that meeting. Police recruitment in Ramadi has increased dramatically over the past four months.

· More than 50 joint U.S.-Iraqi stations have been established in Baghdad. Regular patrols establish connections with the surrounding neighborhood, resulting in a significant increase in security and actionable intelligence.

· Extremist Shiite militia leader Moqtada al-Sadr is in hiding, his followers are not contesting American forces, sectarian violence has dropped in Baghdad and we are working with the Shiite mayor of Sadr City.

· Iraqi army and police forces are increasingly fighting on their own and with American forces, and their size and capability are growing. Iraqi army and police casualties have increased because they are fighting more.

Despite these welcome developments, we should have no illusions. This progress is not determinative. It is simply encouraging. We have a long, tough road ahead in Iraq. But for the first time since 2003, we have the right strategy. In Petraeus, we have a military professional who literally wrote the book on fighting this kind of war. And we will have the right mix and number of forces.

There is no guarantee that we will succeed, but we must try. As every sensible observer has concluded, the consequences of failure in Iraq are so grave and so threatening for the region, and to the security of the United States, that to refuse to give Petraeus's plan a chance to succeed would constitute a tragic failure of American resolve. I hope those who cite the Iraq Study Group's conclusions note that James Baker wrote on this page last week that we must have bipartisan support for giving the new strategy time to succeed. This is not a moment for partisan gamesmanship or for one-sided reporting. The stakes are just too high.

The writer is a Republican senator from Arizona and a candidate for president.

FRIDAY and SATURDAY, April 6 and 7, 2007

THURSDAY, April 5, 2007
Cold War II
What Islamist Iran has in common with the Soviet Union.
Wednesday, April 4, 2007 12:01 a.m. EDT

A new Cold War is upon us. Though there is no Soviet Union today, the enemies of Western democracy, supported by a conglomerate of Islamic states, terror groups and insurgents, have begun to work together with a unity of purpose reminiscent of the Soviet menace: not only in funding, training and arming those who seek democracy's demise; not only in mounting attacks against Israel, America and their allies around the world; not only in seeking technological advances that will enable them to threaten the life of every Western citizen; but also in advancing a clear vision of a permanent, intractable and ultimately victorious struggle against the West--an idea they convey articulately, consistently and with brutal efficiency.

It is this conceptual strategic clarity that gives the West's enemies a leg up, even if they are far inferior in number, wealth, and weaponry. From Tehran to Tyre, from Chechnya to the Philippines, from southern Iraq to the Afghan mountains to the madrassas of London and Paris and Cairo, these forces are unified in their aim to defeat the West, its way of life, its political forms and its cause of freedom. And every day, because of this clarity, their power and resources grow, as they attract allies outside the Islamic world: In Venezuela, in South Africa, in North Korea.

At the center of all this, of course, is Iran. A once-friendly state has embarked on an unflinching campaign, at considerable cost to its own economy, to attain the status of a global power: through the massive infusion of money, matériel, training and personnel to the anti-Western forces in Lebanon (Hezbollah), the Palestinian Authority (Hamas and Islamic Jihad), and the Sunni and Shi'ite insurgencies of Iraq; through its relentless pursuit of nuclear arms, long-range missiles and a space program; through its outsized armed forces and huge stockpiles of chemical and biological weapons; through its diplomatic initiatives around the world; and through its ideological battle against democracy, Zionism and the memory of the Holocaust. For the forces of Islamic extremism and political jihad, Iran has become the cutting edge of clarity.

The West, on the other hand, enjoys no such clarity. In America, Iraq has become the overriding concern, widely seen as a Vietnam-style "quagmire" claiming thousands of American lives with no clear way either to win or to lose. (As the bells of the 2006 congressional elections continue tolling in American ears, it is hard to hear the muezzins of the Middle East calling upon the faithful to capitalize on Western malaise.) Europeans continue to seek "diplomatic solutions" even as they contend with powerful and well-funded Islamists in their midst and their friends among the media and intellectual elites--forces that stir public opinion not against Iran and Syria, who seek their destruction, but against their natural allies, America and Israel.

Throughout the West we now hear increasingly that a nuclear Iran is something one has to "learn to live with," that Iraq needs an "exit strategy," and that the real key to peace lies not in victory but in brokering agreements between Israel and the Palestinians and "engaging" Syria and Iran. The Israelis, too, suffer from a lack of clarity: By separating the Palestinian question from the struggle with Hezbollah and Iran, and by shifting the debate back to territorial concession and prisoner exchange, Israelis incentivize aggression and terror, ignore the role Hamas plays in the broader conflict, and send conciliatory signals to the Syrians. Like the Americans with Iraq, Israelis have allowed themselves to lose sight of who their enemies are, how determined they are, and what will be required to defeat them.

The greatest dangers to the West and Israel, therefore, lie not in armaments or battle plans, but in our thinking. Like World War II and the Cold War, this conflict cannot be won without first achieving clarity of purpose. Even the most urgently needed actions, such as stopping the Iranian nuclear effort, require leaders who understand the nature of the threat and have sufficient public support to enable them to act decisively. To achieve this, however, requires a major, immediate investment in the realm of ideas--a battle for understanding that must be won before the battle for freedom can be effectively engaged.

Israel, in particular, has a pivotal role to play. As the frontline state in the conflict, and the lightning rod of Islamist aggression, it is to Israel that the world looks to see how it will respond. From its birth, Israel has served as a model to the West: in deepening its democratic character while fighting a series of wars; in fighting terror effectively, from the defeat of the PLO in the early 1970s in Gaza, to the Entebbe raid in 1976, through Operation Defensive Shield in 2002; and striking pre-emptively against enemies who combined genocidal rhetoric with the acquisition of sophisticated weapons, as with Egypt and Syria in 1967, and Iraq in 1981.

Israel can again serve as a model of a state proud of its heritage, a democracy that knows how to fight against its tyrannical foes without sacrificing its own character. But to do this will require that Israel, too, disperse the conceptual fog in which it has been operating, recognize the strategic costs of ambiguous outcomes such as with the Lebanon war last summer, and adopt a clear and coherent vision and plan of action. If the West is to act decisively and with clarity, it may need Israel to show the way.

What would such a struggle look like? We should not fear to call this conflict by its name: It is the Second Cold War, with Iran as the approximate counterpart of the Soviet Union. Like the U.S.S.R., Iran is an enemy that even the mighty United States will probably never meet in full force on the battlefield and instead must fight via its proxies, wherever they are found. Like the Soviet Union, the ayatollahs' regime is based on an ideological revolution that repudiates human liberty and subjects its political opponents to imprisonment and death, a regime which, in order to maintain its popular support, must continue to foment similar revolutions everywhere it can, to show that it is on the winning side of history. And like the Soviet Union in the 1980s, the Iranian regime today has two clear weaknesses, which could ultimately spell its downfall: economic stagnation and ideological disaffection.
With unemployment and inflation both deep in double digits, an increasing structural dependence on oil revenue, a negligible amount of direct foreign investment, and a stock market that has declined over 30% since the election of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Iran's heavy investment in other people's wars and its own weapons and terrorist groups must in the end exact a price in terms of support for the regime. Today, moreover, the great majority of Iranians do not identify with the government's Islamist ideology, and among young people the regime is widely derided.

Is it possible to bring about the fall of revolutionary Iran? Despite the obvious differences, there is a great deal the West can learn from the way victory was found in the first Cold War. Led by the United States, Western countries in the 1980s mounted a campaign on a wide range of fronts--military, technological, diplomatic, public relations and covert operations--to convince the Soviet elites that their regime was failing at every turn, and was headed for collapse. By deliberately escalating the arms race and through trade sanctions on the Soviets, America increased the pressure on the Soviet economy. By supporting dissident groups, sending radio transmissions into the Soviet Empire, and making dramatic pronouncements such as Ronald Reagan's famous Berlin Wall speech in 1987, the West emboldened the regime's internal opponents. And by supporting anticommunist forces around the world, from Latin America to Africa to Western Europe to Afghanistan, the West halted the expansion of the communist bloc and even began to roll it back. In all cases the goal was the same: to make it clear to the ranks of Soviet elites, upon whom the regime's legitimacy continued to depend, that they were on the wrong side of history.

When taken in combination with the Soviet Union's failing economy and widespread ideological disaffection among the populace--much as we see in Iran today--it was possible for the West's multifront strategy to bring about the downfall of what was, during the time of Jimmy Carter, believed to be an unstoppable, expanding historical juggernaut for whom the best the West could hope was "containment" and "détente." Its vast nuclear arsenals, its pretensions to global dominance, its coherent world-historical ideology--none of these could protect it against the determined, united efforts of the free world. But it required, above all, a spiritual shift of momentum which began at home: A belief that victory was possible, that the Soviet Union was impermanent, and that concerted effort could change history. It required a new clarity of purpose.

By most measures, Iran is an easier mark than the Soviet Union. It does not yet have nuclear weapons or ICBMs; its Islamist ideology has less of a universal appeal; its tools of thought control are vastly inferior to the gulag and the KGB; and its revolution is not old enough to have obliterated the memory of better days for much of its population. In theory at least, it should be much easier for the West to mount a similar campaign of relentless pressure on the regime--from fomenting dissent online, to destabilizing the regime through insurgent groups inside Iran, to destroying the Iranian nuclear project, to ever-deeper economic sanctions, to fighting and winning the proxy wars that Iran has continued to wage--in order to effect the kind of change of momentum needed to enable the Iranian people to bring their own regime down the way the peoples under communism did in the 1980s and 1990s.
Yet it is precisely because of the ayatollahs' apparent frailty that the West has failed to notice the similarities between this menace and the Soviet one a generation ago. For despite their weakness on paper, the forces of jihad are arrayed in full battle armor, and are prepared to fight to the end. What they lack in technological and industrial sophistication, they more than make up for in charisma, public-relations acumen, determination, ideological coherence and suicidal spirit. Above all, they possess a certainty, a clarity and a will to sacrifice that will greatly increase their chances of victory, and of continued expansion, until they are met with an equally determined enemy.

The fall of the Iranian regime will not end the global jihad. Beyond the messianic Shiite movement, there is still a world of Sunni and Wahhabi revolutionaries, from al Qaeda to Hamas, determined to make war on the West even without Iran's help--just as anti-American communism did not end with the fall of the Soviet Union. Yet there can be no question that today, it is Iran that has earned the greatest admiration, given the global jihad its greatest source of hope and funds, and racked up the most impressive victories, taking on the West and its allies throughout the Middle East--and especially in Iraq, where its proxy insurgencies have frustrated American efforts and even brought about a shift in the internal politics of the United States. Iran is not the only foe, but it is the leader among them. It is only through Iran's defeat that the tide of the Second Cold War will be turned.

Mr. Hazony is editor in chief of Azure, in whose Spring issue this article appears.

TUESDAY and WEDNESDAY, April 3 and 4, 2007

, April 2, 2007

It has been a long time since a person of great eminence in one field embarrassed himself by venturing into another field with grandiose pronouncements.
  Linus Pauling, of Nobel fame and of Vitamin C infamy, comes to mind.  Now comes Zbigniew Brzezinski, he of the enlightened counsel regarding the Soviet Union in the Cold War, whose commentary article in The Day on Sunday, April 1 begins with the statement: "The 'War On Terror' has created a culture of fear in America" (Perspective, pE1).  Whereupon his comments regarding the years since 9/11 involve progressively more hysterically purple prose against the Bush administration and its "war of choice in Iraq".  His thesis is that "We are now divided, uncertain and potentially very susceptible to panic in the event of another terrorist act in the United States itself".  How do you say "HOGWASH" in Polish?  This Cold War specialist is clearly out of his element in the current 21st century World War against global terrorism.  Maybe it's age.  Or maybe this former National Security Adviser has been spending too much time with his former boss, Jimmy Carter.  If struck again, this country would be as fearless and effective as it was beginning on December 8, 1941.  In fact, that may be the reason that we haven't been struck again by the terrorists.  The Democrats are doing just fine keeping the country divided...for now.


DAY, April 1, 2007

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