Thursday, June 08, 2006

Ding Dong! The Witch Is Dead! - Some Thoughts on the Death of Zarqawi

He's dead.

Awesome. This is a fantastic day. Everyone who wants to see America and Iraq succeed together is rejoicing. Some thoughts:

Our Warriors: This will be a huge moral booster for our troops, who must surely be frustrated by the constant second guessing and harping from the news media back home about the job they're doing and how they do it. This is a great victory for them.

Iraq's Heroes: I think the happiest people on the planet today are the Iraqi police who have been dancing in the street. They've risked more than anyone else for the freedom of Iraq, and for their courage, were poorly paid and were THE target of choice for the fascists. God bless them. They are heroes of a kind I can barely imagine. Their courage is beyond description.

The Bad Guys: This will be a huge morale killer for the insurgency. And not just because their leader was killed (although that matters, too), but because he was betrayed by people he associated with. The fascists will begin a self-destructive purge and the accusations of who is helping the infidels will help further tear them apart.

The Iraqi Street: Iraqis are growing more and more bold about ratting out insurgents, and this is a huge sign. It means they're betting their lives that we will succeed. The least we can do is have a little patience and NOT betray that faith by declaring defeat and leaving. This is a victory for Joe Iraqi who just wants to build his country and truly give democracy and freedom a chance.

Bush's Polls: It cannot go without saying that this is a victory for President Bush politically. The post-Zarqawi polls are being commissioned now, and I predict in a couple days we'll see a major boost in Bush's approval ratings.

Iraqi Democracy: One can scarcely imagine a better day for the Iraqi government. They have completed their unity government, and a Sunni is the Defense Minister, which the nay-sayers said was an impossibility. They also took part in this attack, and will gain a tremendous amount of credibility as an organ capable of securing the country - especially now that their Defense and Interior Ministries now have heads.

The Media: The MSM reaction has been interesting. It reminds me of the reaction after the first Iraqi election, when all the liberal papers were asking, "What if Bush was right?" Jon Stewart famously said he thought his head might explode at the success of Bush's Iraq policies. They of course then did their level best to ignore the next two elections, and to run stories right before they happened they hoped would eclipse the good news of the purple fingers. But once again, they have been caught off guard. Good. It's harder to shape the news to fit your political notions when you don't have time to think about how to filter and spin it.

Speaking of, three news channels this morning provided interesting contrast. Fox News was unapologetically gleeful. They reported the news, talked about what it meant and didn't mean, noted the grains of salt with which it should be taken, but you could see they were Americans first, knew who the good guys were, and weren't afraid to enjoy the moment. I love Fox News because to them, American soldiers are "our troops." Their bias is pro-American, and I'm perfectly OK with it. CNN's anchors looked like they were happy, but embarrassed about it, and so tried to hide it. But a woman on MSNBC looked downright sour, as if she was reporting on the second Bush inauguration. I wonder if Katie Couric will wear black tonight on CBS News?

Help from Middle Eastern Allies: Jordan provided invaluable information to help us kill this thug. So much for "alienating moderate Muslims." This kind of high profile cooperation is further proof of how wrong the left is when they talk about our "unilateralism."

Haditha and The Responsibility of Command: This has knocked Haditha from the headlines, and that's a good thing. It also puts it in perspective, reminding us that the people we fight commit dozens of Haditha's every day, and do it as a matter of policy. It makes me wonder, too: The left holds Bush responsible for Haditha and Abu Ghraib, and think the troops involved in those things are mere victims. This is in spite of the fact that AB and Haditha were NOT official policy, and there is no evidence that any high level sanction was given to those activities. But still, it's Bush's fault. So by the same logic, will they give Bush credit for Zarqawi's death, and dismiss the troops' participation in it? Or will following Bush's official policy be seen as "troops doing their best despite Bush?" Wesley Clark made that insinuation this morning, right after he lied about "never supporting the invasion of Iraq."

Predictions about the leftist reaction: They will say that his death will only recruit more terrorists. They will say that showing his dead face on TV violates the Geneva conventions, ignoring that Zarqawi renounced those protections when he started targeting civilians and not wearing a uniform. They will say he was only a bit player in al Qaeda, and that the bomb that killed him should have been spent on bin Laden. They will say that he will be easily replaced. They will say that this was an internal coup which used the US as unwilling dupes to knock off an unpopular leader, thus consolidating their strength. They will lie about Bush's reaction, and every bad thing that every happens in the GWOT will be proof positive that Zarqawi's death was without impact. Their commentary will be filled with countless "but"s. Nick Berg's dad is already running around talking about how Zarqawi only sawed his son's head off because he was forced to do it by Bush, and that he grieves for the fact that Zarqawi is dead. They will say this would have happened sooner had Kerry been in charge. They will say that this does not excuse the widespread atrocities our troops routinely commit, of which Haditha is only symbolic. They will say that killing him will only continue the cycle of violence, and that there will be counter attacks (which there surely will, but that doesn't mean that it isn't a blow to the fascist enemy). They will say that it is wrong to celebrate any death, even the death of one such as Zarqawi. They will demand that we leave Iraq immediately, instead of pressing our advantage.

Our Intel: This was a badly needed boost for our intelligence services. They have a long way to go to fix themselves, but they deserve praise for this.

Ahmadinejad on Notice: Today the Iranian president announced he's ready to talk. Reminds me of how Qadaffi gave up his WMD programs after we pulled Saddam out of his hole. I don't know what news happened first, but it seems unlikely that it would be coincidental. What we do in Iraq impacts evil men world wide, and makes the world safer. This isn't to say that all is sunny in Persia, or that we should take him up on his offer until he's willing to stop enriching uranium, but it we need to understand that these people respect our aggressiveness, not appeasement.

Israel Kills Hamas Terror Mastermind: I don't know if it's in any way related, but this day has seen a lot of dead and evil men. And that just makes me happy.

The USS Cole: The Cole got underway today for their first Middle Eastern deployment since al Qaeda tried to sink them in Yemen. Delicious. What a perfect way to start a deployment. What a way to kick the enemy when they're down. What a way to say, "You can't keep us out, fascists." What an inspiring feeling to get underway with. Leaving for deployment is tough, as you leave your friends and family for dangers unknown. It helps to know you're headed to support a winning fight.


Retired LTC said...

Wes Clark wasn't lying. He never supported the invasion. Read his entire testimony to the HASC, not Drudge's cherry-picked and misleading exerpts. Or read what Richard Perle had to say after Clark had left the room:

"[General Clark] seems to be preoccupied, and I'm quoting now, with building legitimacy, with exhausting all diplomatic remedies as though we hadn't been through diplomacy for the last decade, and relegating the use of force to a last resort, to building the broadest possible coalition, in short a variety of very amorphous, ephemeral concerns alongside which there's a stark reality and that is that every day that goes by, Saddam Hussein is busy perfecting those weapons of mass destruction that he already has, improving their capabilities, improving the means with which to deliver them and readying himself for a future conflict.

"So I don't believe that time is on our side and I don't believe that this fuzzy notion that the most important thing is building legitimacy, as if we lack legitimacy now, after all the U.N. resolutions that he's in blatant violation of, I don't believe that that should be the decisive consideration. So I think General Clark simply doesn't want to see us use military force and he has thrown out as many reasons as he can develop to that but the bottom line is he just doesn't want to take action. He wants to wait.

It amazes me how so many people take what Drudge says as gospel when he gets it wrong so much of the time. Please look up legitimate sources before you start calling a retired general and decorated war hero a liar.

Orrin Johnson said...

When the statue of Saddam fell, Clark fell all over himself with praise for Iraq war, floating with the political winds: "As for the political leaders themselves, President Bush and Tony Blair should be proud of their resolve in the face of so much doubt."

That was the piece I was actually looking for - I remember it being one of the biggest hoo-rah pro-Iraq invasion statements I'd ever seen. I read it at the time. I remember it. It was his own words. I don't have to rely on Drudge, Perle, or anyone else. I did notice that Gen. Clark definitely doesn't have it up on his campaign site. The Drudge snipet was convenient, and I had a lot I wanted to write. I didn't "take what Drudge [said] as gospel," no matter how inconvenient that might be to the General.

Of course, before that, he wanted to wait. But he would have voted for the war.

Here's more from MSNBC (hardly pro-Bush) on his early and unformed opinion about Iraq - the one political issue he SHOULD have had a grasp of before he stepped up for public consideration - and his flat out contradictory statements.

“At the time, I probably would have voted for it, but I think that’s too simple a question,” The New York Times quoted Clark as saying Thursday.

And then?

“Let’s make one thing real clear, I would never have voted for this war, never,” Clark said in an interview with The Associated Press. “I’ve gotten a very consistent record on this."

We later learned that what he was really up to was bucking for a job in the Bush White House:

“After all, he'd been NATO commander … and the investment firm he now worked for had strong Bush ties. But when GOP friends inquired, they were told: forget it. Word was that Karl Rove, the president's political mastermind, had blocked the idea. Clark was furious. [Clark] happened to chat with two prominent Republicans, Colorado Gov. Bill Owens and Marc Holtzman. . . . "I would have been a Republican," Clark told them, "if Karl Rove had returned my phone calls." Soon thereafter, in fact, Clark quit his day job and began seriously planning to enter the presidential race -- as a Democrat. Clark late last week insisted the remark was a "humorous tweak." The two others said it was anything but. "He went into detail about his grievances," Holtzman said. "Clark wasn't joking. We were really shocked.” (Newsweek, September 29, 2003)

And before all of that, Clark in his own words, praising the Bush/Rice/Rumsfeld/Powell team at a Republican fundraiser.

LTC, with all due respect, once a military officer enters the political fray, his statements are fair game. Neither his rank or his having been wounded give him free rein, nor should those facts insulate him from criticism - in fact, I frankly expect more from a general officer.

Look - I'm a disabled American veteran. No matter what the Democrats say at their conventions, that fact in and of itself doesn't qualify me for public office, or magically make my ideas any better. George McGovern was a war hero, but he would have been a terrible President, just like Carter was, who also served. And if I say something that's untrue about a position I once held during a presidential campaign, my bad knee doesn't give me a free pass when people call me on it. Sorry.

It would have been fine if he'd said that he had his doubts, and still thinks the war is being run poorly. Wholly legitimate. But that's NOT what he did. So when he says unequivocally that he "never supported the invasion" as he did this morning, he's either excessively and selectively stupid, has amnesia, or is lying. You don't graduate first in your class at West Point and become a Rhodes Scholar being the first two.

You can, however, become a General (especially in the Clinton Admin., although they later fired him for his bombast) by being politically shrewd and opportunistic. (Don't tell me you put in 20 years and never met any of those!!!) So please, spare me the "retired general and war hero." I've served with plenty of people who are "decorated," but who I wouldn't trust to feed my cat. And I've met enough O-7s and above to not be immediately star-struck (quite the opposite, in fact). The fact that Clark and his supporters retreat immediately behind that meme whenever he comes under attack substantively reinforces my view of the good General - it doesn't diminish it. Besides - Gen. Clark himself isn't above snarkery about decorated veterans.

Retired LTC said...

All you're giving are more quotes out of context, and one outright lie.

For example, the London Times article (at the first link in your reply) starts out praising Bush and Blair (and rightly so, since they had won an astounding military victory--one which ALL of us, Clark as much as any, were happy to see. But his main point, quite clear by the end of the article, was that the war was far from over, and of course events have proven him correct.

I could go thru the list, but what would be the point?

It's telling enough that when I correct your original assertion, you say, well, I really didn't mean that, I meant this other one.

I'm not saying that Clark is immune to criticism because he is a veteran. I'm saying that he should be afforded enough respect to have his statements portrayed accurately, and without resorting to name-calling. As should we all, military, veteran or civilian.

For the record, Clark didn't make general under Clinton. He was already a two-star, and on the fast track up, in 1992. And I have served with him and know him to be a leader of unimpeachable integrity and dedication to both the country and the troops. I've never met or heard anyone who said otherwise who wasn't motivated by partisan politics.

Orrin Johnson said...

I'm sorry, LTC - the L/T article cannot be reasonably read as anything other than supportive of the war. His statements about Bush and Blair are unequivocally "These guys were absolutely right to do what they did - good for them for ignoring the critics." He talked about "the scent of victory is in the air." Of course he said the job wasn't done yet. Bush said that, too - over and over again. What he DIDN'T say was, "I never supported this, and still think it's a bad idea, even if things are looking up now - mark my words, it will fail."

I "really meant" my original assertion. I stand by the Drudge link, since it merely excerpted the London Times piece I was looking for originally. Now people have the whole article. I didn't "say one thing and mean another," I just couldn't find the original piece. And the only thing I learned from his HASC testimony is just how stridently Clark believed Saddam had WMDs, ties to al Qaeda, and that he was a real threat to us. Since he now is on the "false pretenses" bandwagon, his complete testimony does not boost the case for his consistency. But if he was right originally, he would have been irresponisble for not supporting action. Either way, he's lost me.

And the "I would've voted for the war but I never would have voted for it" stuff is well documented. How they're "taken out of context" is beyond me - there's a reason I linked to the whole articles. If they can be reconciled, I'd really like to know. But so far his own explainations have been thoroughly unconvincing. I've never heard anyone who wasn't politically motivated defend those comments, or seriously try to claim they weren't (to put it nicely) inconsistent.

Then, since you invited the pile-on, he went on a paranoid rant about a Pentagon "five-year plan" to attack seven middle eastern countries, dutifly reported to the Arab street by al Jazeera.

I respect that you served with the man, but it doesn't alter my perspective of him. (Can I assume you're also a political supporter, who just maybe might be politically motivated?) Americans sense insincerity - that's why his candidacy never gained traction. And your opinion is not shared by Gen. Shelton ("I've known Wes for a long time. I will tell you the reason he came out of Europe early had to do with integrity and character issues."), Sec. Cohen, or other people with whom he's served. I've heard your opinion among some of his compatriots before, but I've also talked to people who have served under him who were not so impressed.

My own sense from hearing him campaign, Clark's inconsistent prior statments, and the fact that Bill Clinton is his political mentor and patron, is that he is opportunistic and insincere. I think he's a Kerry/Clinton politician - he will say anything to any group if he thinks it will maximize his votes. Moreover, I think he's dead wrong as a strategist, and in his wider understanding of the broader world military situation. When he runs in '08, I have absolutely no doubt voters will (once again) agree with that assessment.

If General Clark wants my respect, he's got to earn it. So far he's badly failing.

Retired LTC said...

Well who's the liar now? Clark says nowhere in the London Times article, "These guys were absolutely right to do what they did - good for them for ignoring the critics." Yet you put it in quotes.

Guess you're one of those bloggers who knows that most readers don't both to follow links and read original sources. So you're taking advantage of the fact that most will take your word for what's there.

But then, since you quote Hugh Shelton but neglect to mention that Shelton was working for John Edwards at the time, I'm really not surprised. You probably also know Shelton was asked to testify at the Milosevic trial, because of that statement, and declined, saying "it was just politics," but neglect to mention that as well.

You say, "I've never heard anyone who wasn't politically motivated defend those comments, or seriously try to claim they weren't (to put it nicely) inconsistent." I would submit you've never heard anyone cite those comments as being inconsistent who wasn't politically motivated.

Well, there's nothing wrong with being politically motivated. But the fact is, there is no one, absolutely no one, who has ever said anything much of substance and complexity, who couldn't have his statements taken apart and put back together to make them sound completely different from the way they were intended.

So don't give me the Kerry echo, "I would've voted for the war but I never would have voted for it," and claim that it is well documented. You'll only find inconsistency from Clark in documents manufactured by those who oppose him.

Orrin Johnson said...


The quotes were meant to set off a paraphrase for emphasis. Sorry if I wasn't 100% clear. Note to all - I never intended to attribute them to Clark. His statements are quite enough to show him for what he is without people making stuff up.

Gen. Shelton wasn't working for Edwards when he & Cohen fired Clark. So are you saying Gen. Shelton isn't being truthful? Well, LTC, you'd better (how did you put it) "be careful before you start calling a retired general and decorated war hero a liar." ;) Frankly, I think most generals and admirals have a bit too much of the politician in them.

So MSNBC, that bastion of virulent conservatism, is manufacturing Clark's inconsistencies? What? Are you serious?

LTC, I understand that you have a job to do, and that job is to troll blogs for disparaging comments about the candidate you work for. But everyone is more than welcome to read Clark's own words and decide for themselves what he meant. And we'll leave it to the people to decide. They've already rejected him once, and I have no doubt they'll do so again.