Hans' News and Politics Blog

A Blog of Conservative News, Politics, and Foreign Affairs

Wednesday, November 30, 2005

White House releases Strategic Plan for Iraq.

Here is the PDF, via National Review.

It is written in clear and concise language and will be the basis of President Bush's speech this morning.

Sunday, November 27, 2005

Logic Times has a pretty good analysis of civilian casualties in Iraq:

There is indeed a mind-blowing story about collateral damage that needs to be told, but that story is one in which we honor the extraordinary achievement of the United States military: two years of combat since the fall of Baghdad, much of it urban warfare, with less than 1,000 civilians killed as a result of U.S. action:

Read the whole thing.

Some news out of Fallujah:

Dump trucks ply the roads, hauling away debris from wrecked homes. Backhoes churn the earth, laying new service lines. And mountains of bricks and buckets of paint are slowly turning war-ravaged Fallujah into a functional city again.
For US forces in Iraq, few challenges are as daunting - or perhaps as important - as the attempt to transform this bitter Sunni city into a model for counter-insurgency success.

But while Fallujah has become the modern example of the Vietnam-era dictum of having to "destroy a village to save it" - virtually all of its 50,000 structures were damaged in last November's offensive - today it is Iraq's largest construction site.

And it's not just repairing the physical damage. US Marines are taking a far more radical approach by trying to rebuild the economy, attract investment, and create jobs.

Read the whole thing.

President Bush to tackle immigration reform.

As recently as January 2004, Bush used his first policy announcement of that re-election year to unveil a guest-worker program that would allow illegal immigrants to obtain legal status for at least six years if they have a job and their employer vouches for them. The plan incensed conservatives. Talk-radio hosts and bloggers fanned resentment over "Press 1 for English" phone menus and borders porous to drugs and terrorists. In June, two months after a citizens' group called the Minuteman Project began vigilante patrols of the Mexican border, Bush told lawmakers he had not understood how important border security was to his base. That's why Bush is calling this week for a series of border-security measures that will make his guest-worker plan look like an afterthought in his immigration policy. Bush will call for the hiring of more border guards and the use of more technology like unmanned aircraft and ground sensors to better police the borders. He will also push for increased holding facilities for illegal immigrants who are picked up. Roughly 100,000 a year benefit from a de facto "catch and release" policy, since there aren't enough beds for them.

The President is expected to equate border security with national security, connecting the issue to that part of his image that until recently had been robust. He will also be setting up a potentially favorable issue for Republicans in '06. "This is the kind of issue that the Silent Majority talks about in private but doesn't mention to pollsters," says Frank Luntz, the political strategist who is advising g.o.p. lawmakers on immigration. "It has the same kind of feel that affirmative action had in the late '60s and early '70s. There is a deep-seated anger toward the government for not stopping this."

Tough new immigration reform is one of the issues that could revive Bush's presidency. However, the Time article points out several pitfalls that could backfire if he fails. Expect a big push in 2006 on this issue.

I pointed out 10 days ago that President Bush should make immigration reform his number one issue.

Will the US turn Isolationist?

The Chinese strategist, Sun Tzu, wrote 2,500 years ago: "Maintaining an army at a distance causes the people to be impoverished."

The rising cost in blood and treasure of President Bush's incursion into Iraq has generated among Americans a question rooted in Sun Tzu: Is the cost worth it? Increasing numbers of Americans, including scores of military leaders, seem to think not.

This billowing skepticism suggests a more profound question: Beyond Iraq, have Americans wearied of the burden of worldwide security commitments and deployment of forces that are more extensive than any since the Roman Empire? Are Americans ready to retract them?

In a word, are the Yankees on the verge of going home?

If so, the consequences for Asia alone can hardly be imagined. Would China revive the Middle Kingdom that once dominated East Asia? Would Japan return to the militarism of the 1940s? Would India seek to control South Asia? How would the middle powers — South Korea, Vietnam, Indonesia, Pakistan — ward off the big boys?


A new study by the nonpartisan Pew Research Center, which is respected for accuracy and balance, suggests the Iraq war has "led to a revival of isolationist sentiment among the general public."

Pew researchers reported that 42 percent of Americans, the highest percentage in 45 years, say the United States should "mind its own business internationally and let other countries get along the best they can."

Read the whole thing.

If we fail in Iraq there is a high probability that the US will turn Isolationist and walk away from the rest of the world. This would be neither in the US, nor the world's best interest and could have calamitous repercussions around the world.

Will Azerbaijan be the next country to have a democratic revolution?

Truncheon-wielding police in riot gear beat opposition protesters who gathered in Azerbaijan's capital shouting "Freedom!" and demanding a redo of disputed parliamentary elections.

Some 15,000 opposition activists rallied in Baku to protest the outcome of the Nov. 6 parliamentary elections, which they claimed were rigged. The rally was the latest in a series of opposition protests.

When the demonstrators tried to set up a permanent protest on a square in downtown Baku, police rushed in to disperse them. Some protesters, including women, were beaten while lying on the floor. Others threw stones at police, who protected themselves with shields.

Authorities rushed in after demonstrators said they were going to hold a permanent protest in a downtown square. Hundreds of soldiers, police and plainclothes police agents pushed protesters away from the square, shattered a stand used by opposition leaders and broke the opposition's orange banners - a color borrowed from Ukraine's Orange Revolution.

So far the protests haven't been large enough in size to have a significant impact, but that can change rather quickly - particularly if western media would decide to cover it.

Iran Watch: Iran secretly training Chechen terrorists.

Iran is secretly training Chechen rebels in sophisticated terror techniques to enable them to carry out more effective attacks against Russian forces, the Sunday Telegraph can reveal.

Teams of Chechen fighters are being trained at the Revolutionary Guards' Imam Ali training camp, located close to Tajrish Square in Teheran, according to Western intelligence reports.

In addition to receiving training in the latest terror techniques, the Chechen volunteers undergo ideological and political instruction by hardline Iranian mullahs at Qom.

The disclosure that Iran is training Chechen rebels will not go down well in Moscow, which regards itself as a close ally of the Iranian regime.

Russia has sided with Iran in the diplomatic stand-off over Teheran's controversial nuclear programme.

If this can be substantiated it could help us to politically isolate Iran by cutting off a key base of support of the Ayatollahs. Russia has been arguably Iran's most important partner in recent years.

Bruce Willis to make a movie about Deuce Four:

ANGERED by negative portrayals of the conflict in Iraq, Bruce Willis, the Hollywood star, is to make a pro-war film in which American soldiers will be depicted as brave fighters for freedom and democracy.
It will be based on the exploits of the heavily decorated members of Deuce Four, the 1st Battalion, 24th Infantry, which has spent the past year battling insurgents in the northern Iraqi town of Mosul.

Willis attended Deuce Four’s homecoming ball this month in Seattle, Washington, where the soldiers are on leave, along with Stephen Eads, the producer of Armageddon and The Sixth Sense.

The 50-year-old actor said that he was in talks about a film of “these guys who do what they are asked to for very little money to defend and fight for what they consider to be freedom”.

Unlike many Hollywood stars Willis supports the war and recently offered a $1m (about £583,000) bounty for the capture of any of Al-Qaeda’s most wanted leaders such as Osama Bin Laden, Ayman Al-Zawahiri or Abu Musab al- Zarqawi, its commander in Iraq. Willis visited the war zone with his rock and blues band, the Accelerators, in 2003.

“I am baffled to understand why the things I saw happening in Iraq are not being reported,” he told MSNBC, the American news channel.

He is expected to base the film on the writings of the independent blogger Michael Yon, a former special forces green beret who was embedded with Deuce Four and sent regular dispatches about their heroics.

Add to that the movie based on the battle of Fallujah and we might have two movies coming out soon dealing positively with our servicemen in Iraq.

Harrison Ford is to star in what will be Hollywood's first feature about the current Iraq war. Producers Michael Shamberg and Stacey Sher have bought the option for No True Glory: The Battle for Fallujah, a non-fiction written by Slate reporter Bing West. The book is due to be published in May and tells the story of an assault on Iraqi insurgents in Falluja, from the perspective of US marines. Variety reports that Ford is already attached to play General Jim Mattis, in charge of the attack.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Very cool flash video on military operations in western Iraq this year.

US Allies in Asia don't believe the US could defeat China.

The overwhelming assessment by Asian officials, diplomats and analysts is that the U.S. military simply cannot defeat China. It has been an assessment relayed to U.S. government officials over the past few months by countries such as Australia, Japan and South Korea.

Quite frankly, it is unimaginable that we could be defeated by the Chinese.

Sunday, November 20, 2005

Iran Watch: Iran Votes to Block Nuclear Inspections

Parliament approved a bill Sunday requiring the government to block international inspections of its atomic facilities if the U.N. nuclear monitoring agency refers Iran to the Security Council for possible sanctions.

Well, this will force the UNSC to act. If not, it will further discredit the ability of the UN to stop nuclear proliferation and will force a military confrontation between the US or Israel and Iran.

Saturday, November 19, 2005

Iran Watch: Iran Received Black Market Nuclear Designs

The U.N. atomic watchdog agency revealed Friday that Iran received black market nuclear designs that diplomats say appear to be blueprints for the core of a nuclear warhead — a finding expected to used by Washington and its allies in their push to have Tehran referred to the U.N. Security Council.


The revelations also came as Iran said it had begun converting a second batch of uranium into gas, a step that brings it closer to producing the enriched uranium used to either generate electricity or build bombs.


The chief U.S. delegate to the IAEA, Gregory L. Schulte, said Washington was "very concerned" about the design, along with the "large cache of documents uncovered by the agency" showing detailed instructions on how to set up uranium enrichment facilities.

"This opens new concerns about weaponization that Iran has failed to address," he said.

Former nuclear inspector David Albright said the design is "part of what you need ... to build a nuclear weapon."

It's pretty delusional to believe that negotiations could ever successfully disarm Iran.

Friday, November 18, 2005

On the new meme by the mediacrats that Bush lied about the intelligence on Iraq's WMD I'll only post this:

Hat tip: Michelle Malkin.

Iran watch: More purges of government institutions.

Iran is facing political paralysis as its newly elected president purges government institutions, bringing accusations that he is undertaking a coup d'état.
Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's clearout of his opponents began last month but is more sweeping than previously understood and has reached almost every branch of government, the Guardian has learned. Dozens of deputy ministers have been sacked this month in several government departments, as well the heads of the state insurance and privatisation organisations. Last week, seven state bank presidents were dismissed in what an Iranian source described as "a coup d'état".

An informed Iranian source with first-hand knowledge of all the main political and clerical figures in the country said: "Ahmadinejad is defying everybody. He does whatever he wants and considers it to be right. This is not how things are done in Iran."
The upheaval at the highest government levels in Tehran follows the dismissal of four senior ambassadors and has raised questions about Iran's ability to conclude negotiations on its nuclear programme which are due to come to a head at a UN meeting in Vienna next week.

It looks like Ahmadinejad is taking Iran over a cliff. Apparently, even the Ayatollahs are starting to feel uncomfortable.

In a sign of divisions at the top of the clerical establishment, the supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who has until now supported Mr Ahmadinejad, said "irregularities" in the government's behaviour would not be tolerated.

Thursday, November 17, 2005

What President Bush needs to do to regain momentum.

Ever since the defeat of his Social Security reform President Bush's administration seems to have fallen into a deep funk and given up all initiative. Only in the last week has the White House begun to fight back by pointing out the false narrative created by the MSM, and the attempts to rewrite history by the Democrats (check out this video). It seems there is finally a concerted effort underway by this administration to defend itself. Now if the White House could only get an assertive press secretary ...

However, this is only the first step on the path back. The administration and the GOP needs to regain the initiative on policy. To do that they have to realize first why Social Security reform failed: The administration relied on a bipartisan outside panel of former politicians to come up with a compromise solution which was complicated and difficulty to understand. The White House further compromised to liberal criticism in the final proposal it delivered to Congress. The plan was coolly received by the GOP, and Democrats who had taken a completely obstructionist position towards everything coming out of the White House weren't swayed by the concessions granted to them. The plan also created a lot more uncertainty within the population as to their benefits. In the end, the plan had no natural constituency, since the private accounts were too limited to gain any public support. Nobody would've been left better off, while plenty of uncertainty was created.

President Bush has wandered too far off his base and failed to inspire the GOP base and rally the country as a whole to his side. Besides, most of his original agenda, except the failed Social Security reform, has already been enacted, leaving little to do for the future. Thus, after successfully defending himself against the slanderous charges by the mediacrats he has to lay out a new agenda at the next State of the Union address. This is what he should propose:

1. Immigration reform: Although politicians don't like to talk about it there is a real public clamor for fixing the dysfunctional immigration system. The President needs to lay out a specific proposal to reform or replace a system that has resulted in over 10 million illegal immigrants. In the past he has talked about the need to reform in vague terms and let the Senate take the lead on it. He needs to take full ownership of the issue and actually lead the reform movement.

2. Tax reform: On this issue the President has so far followed the same defective path that brought him his failure on Social Security reform. He should ditch the bipartisan panel because their proposals would be DOA anyway. The only way to get serious tax reform passed is by creating popular support for the reform. Only a really serious simplification, such as a flat tax, could capture the public imagination. It is easy to understand, appeals to the public's sense of fairness, and economically stimulating.

3. Health care reform: Our current health care system is dysfunctional and heading for a breakdown. If the GOP doesn't get a handle on this we might end up with a socialist health care system, long sought by the democrats. Expand the current Health Savings Accounts thru the use of refundable tax credits, and make health insurance mandatory. Over time, this individual-based health care system will replace the patch work of inefficient semi-socialist third party systems. Market mechanisms will be allowed to do their work, resulting in large gains in efficiency, while giving consumers more choice and control over their healthcare. Instead of limping along with our current system until it collapses under its own weight (as it already happened in the airline and steel industry, with the car industry not far behind) the public will slowly shift over to the new system due to its inherent superiority. One great source of public fear, the potential loss of healthcare coverage, would be addressed, while also resolving a long-term crisis to the federal budget.

With these three measures the administration could regain the initiative, seize control of the public debate, and substantially reform the public sector.

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