Wednesday, August 31, 2005

A Look at the Nineties: Blaming America's Policies for Terrorist Attacks

I cannot tell you how many times I have heard the Blame America First, the America Is the Biggest Terrorist, crowd point to American policies as a cause of terrorism against us. Well, I have a few questions. For example, exactly what policies are they talking about? Lets review our policies of the nineties, which was the festering and recruitment period for Muslim extremist groups like Al-Qaeda. The terrorists that struck the U.S. on September 11, 2001 really began to come of age in the late nineties. If our policies are to blame, then it must be the policies of the nineties that caused such hatred. After all, according to a recent Pew poll of six Muslim countries found monumental drops in the number of Muslims who support the use of terrorism in defense of Islam and an increase in the number of Muslims who thought democracy could be successful in their respective countries. It sounds to me like the policies of the current decade may be reducing the enthusiasm for using terror as a tool but I digress; back to the nineties.
So what was it we did that was so awful in the nineties? First lets take a look at military actions taken by the US in the nineties. First on the list would be the Gulf War. What was that all about? Well, we fought a war to liberate a Muslim country, Kuwait, which had been brutally overrun by Saddam Hussein’s Iraq; we also secured another Muslim country, Saudi Arabia to prevent it from being overrun by Iraq. And guess what; we did it for free. Actually that is not true, it cost the US money and lives and somehow we owed the Saudis money at the wars end. Some said then as they say now that it was all about protecting our oil interests. This is true but these countries along with many other oil producing countries would be poverty-stricken sandboxes if it were not for the Western world’s dependence on their oil. After the Gulf War we did not bring in our oil tankers and have a free for all with Saudi and Kuwaiti crude. We rebuilt their oil infrastructures, in Kuwait’s case, and we paid for the oil as always. We not only rescued and protected them but continue provide a market for their only resource.
In February of 1993 foreign terrorists attacked the World Trade Center in New York City with a car bomb in the basement. This was the act of Al-Qaeda, a Muslim extremist group led by Osama Bin Laden. The U.S. reaction was that of a criminal investigation and in 1997 and 1998 six conspirators were sentenced to a total of 240 years in prison. Neither their sources of money and training nor their extremist brethren back in Afghanistan and elsewhere were subject to military action.
Also in 1993 was the Signing of the Oslo Accords, which reflected the U.S.’s unrelenting attempts to broker a peace agreement between the Israelis and the Palestinians. Unfortunately, Arafat, the man who had encouraged so many Palestinian youth to blow themselves up for his cause would not get on board with the agreement for fear he would be killedby his own terrorist followers.
Next stop on the nineties timeline would be Somalia where the U.S. military was used to help distribute humanitarian aid to starving Somalis whose clan leaders were using hunger as a weapon. One must note that many U.S. troops were involved in Somalia over a period from December 1992 until May 1993 in operation Restore Hope. It was a UN sanctioned coalition, of course led by the U.S. When things heated up they were authorized to use whatever force necessary to see to it that food was distributed. This included the acts of heroism on the part of Task Force Ranger, made famous by Mark Bowden’s book and subsequent movie Blackhawk Down. Unfortunately, this story included the loss of 18 of Americans finest, largely because of lack of adequate air support and armor assets combined with poor planning. The U.S. responded to this loss of life by quickly withdrawing Task Force Ranger and later all troops in response to these deaths. None-the-less, Operation Restore Hope was considered a success and hundreds of thousands of Muslims got to eat, thanks to the U.S. led efforts.
One will likely recall the events of 1998 in which 2 of our embassies were bombed in Africa by Al-Qaeda. One was in Nairobi, Kenya and one was in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. Our primary response was not large scale military action on known terrorists hideouts and training camps; it was a law enforcement investigation.
Our little journey through time takes us now to Kosovo in 1999. From March through June of this year the U.S. led a coalition of NATO forces (minus France) to stop then Yugoslav President Milosevic from slaughtering the majority population in Kosovo who were ethnic Albanians. The Albanians were Muslims. The U.S. committed 31,600 personnel to this mission that successfully kept Milosevic in check and stopped the genocide of Muslim Albanians. To this day the US keeps a security force in Kosovo as well as Bosnia. One will recall Bosnia was the location of the slaughter of Muslims under the noses of UN peacekeepers in 1994.
Ushering in the next decade was the suicide attack on the USS Cole by six Yemeni extremists, Al-Qaeda. Seventeen American sailors died, thirty-nine were wounded. The U.S. response was another law enforcement investigation and changes in security policy and procedures for navy ships. It was not until 2004 when the first justice was dished out to those responsible by a CIA drone. It sent a hellfire missile into a bomber's car in Yemen. By then U.S. policies had changed. Subsequently the Yemeni court has sentenced two participants to death and others were sentenced from five to ten years in prison.
Our policies of the nineties also included foreign aid to Muslim countries. For example in 1995 the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) spent eight and a half million on improving Yemenis’ health. In 1998 USAID dropped $815,000,000 in Egypt. Assistance to Pakistan by USAID between 1985 and 1995 totaled $237,000,000 it was earmarked for child health and general welfare. These are the contributions of one US government agency, there are others. Also, there are numerous U.S. NGOs (non-governmental organizations) that dump money, material and personnel into Muslim countries in the form of humanitarian aid. Add to that the foreign aid by other western nations and Japan, also targeted by Islamic terrorists and I think you’ll get the picture. For example, Oman got close to $75,000,000 in aid from around the world in 1995. Arab countries such as Kuwait and Qatar do not get any foreign aid because they are simply very wealthy because of the oil western industrial countries buy from them.
Now lets summarize the awful policies of the U.S. in the nineties. Militarily we spent our time, money and American lives preventing genocide of Muslims, the starvation of Muslims and we liberated Muslims and rebuilt their means of drilling and pumping oil. Muslim terrorists attacked us and we did not respond militarily with a heavy hand. We handled these cases as law enforcement issues, wearing kid gloves.
So if these are the policies of which the anti-Americans among us speak, they seem to me to be Muslim friendly. I would say that that we bent over backward to help Muslims in the nineties. In short this was a policy of appeasement. It did not work. Which is no surprise, you cannot appease radical Islamists who, as Bin Laden stated, will not rest until the U.S. is a Muslim state. But did these policies cause the hatred of the Muslim world? No, America is not to be blamed for provoking attacks due to our so-called evil policies. First of all, all of the Muslims in the world don’t hate us but that is beside the point. The extremists hate us regardless of what we do for them or their people. I would, however, argue that our policies of minimal response to the terrorist acts in the nineties certainly emboldened and motivated them. Appeasement did not prevent attacks and sadly yesterday's headlines of a suicide bomber lighting himself up in a bus station in Israel demonstrate that appeasement is not a tool for use against terrorists of any kind. It marked the first attack on Israel by the Palestinians sine Israel withdrew it citizens with force from the Gaza strip to appease the Palestinians.
So before Americans and others start with their America the Bad Guy mantras maybe they should take the time to educate themselves on the facts of the matter and evaluate them objectively. Emotion is not a good filter of reality. The U.S. has made and still makes policies that help Muslims. The few radicals that want us all killed will not relent regardless of our policies in the Middle East or anywhere else in the world.

A Cold War Anniversary

Today marks the 25th anniversary of Polands Solidarity movement.

The AP story that is linked above is relatively short but gives credit to the Solidarity movement in Poland for helping defeat communism and bringing about a unified Europe. During the ceremonies there was a mass held honoring Polish Pope John Paul II for his work in aiding the movement's resistance to communism.

In this article there is not one word mentioning Ronald Reagan. Reagan was instrumental in aiding the Polish Solidarity movement. According to Reagan's National Security Advisor Judge William P. Clark the Reagan administration warned Moscow against an invasion of Poland similar to those in Hungary in 1956 and in Czechoslovakia in 1968. President Reagan made it very clear to the governments of Poland and the Soviet Union that the United States would not stand idle if the communists attempted to crush the movement.

Read the full story here.

Maybe there will be more stories today and maybe one of those stories will give some credit to Reagan, but I doubt it very seriously. If he is mentioned his importance to the success of the movement will certainly not be stressed. Despite the importance of this historic Cold War event the left-wing media with their incessant scrutiny of the anti-war movement and Bush's spiraling poll numbers will certainly not take the time to heap praise on such an iconic figure of conservatism. The AP story today is correct in asserting that the movement "paved the way for revolutionary change in Eastern Europe" but it is a fact that the Solidarity movement would not have succeeded if not for President Ronald Reagan and the Poles know this. A public square in the city of Krakow, a place that was the scene of several protests by members of the Solidarity movement, was renamed Ronald Reagan Square last year. While the mainstream media and the left-wing loonies may not appreciate the fall of Communism there are 38 million Poles who do.

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

A Lesson to Israel

While reading the news today I came across a particularly interesting article on Yahoo News. This article and the possible implications it presents will probably go largely unnoticed because of the news coverage of hurricane Katrina. The title of the article, Egypt vows to work for full Palestinian liberation, should send chills down the spine of Israelis that remember 1967 and to those who thought the recent Gaza and West Bank pullouts were going to bring respite from terrorist attacks by Palestinian militants.

Egyptian intelligence chief Omar Suleiman offered congratulations to the Palestinian parliament on behalf of Egypt's President Mubarak as well as a "commitment that we stay hand in hand with you until all Palestinian territory, in the West Bank and as well as Gaza, is liberated." He went on to state that "Egypt supported Palestinian efforts towards the complete and total freedom of land occupied in 1967 to pave the way to the creation of a Palestinian state that will take its place in the Arab nation."

These statements are reminiscent of the Pan-Arabism and the rallying of the "streets" of the nineteen sixties led by then Egyptian leader Abdel Nassar. Leaders of Arab nations during this time routinely used the Palestinian plight and the very existence of a Zionist state in their midst to boost their own standing with their citizens. Maybe this is Mubarak's way of rallying the "street" in support of him in light of the upcoming election that is to take place on September 7th or maybe it is an attempt to take Egypt off the proverbial terrorist target list by showing renewed support for the Palestinians as they are often used as an excuse for terrorism. In either case Israel should be worried.

I understand that the withdrawal was as much an economic and defensive strategy for Israel as it was an attempt to show good faith to the Palestinian truce and their quest for statehood. But with Palestinian militants claiming victory over Israel and touting their terrorist tactics as the primary cause of that victory in addition to now being emboldened by the powerful statements coming from Egypt, Israel can now expect more and not less, as was hoped, terrorist attacks. These recent events should also be a lesson to the world that terrorists cannot be appeased and any attempt at appeasement is going to be seen as a validation for terrorist attacks.

Monday, August 22, 2005

A Liberal in Sheep's Clothing

Senator Chuck Hagel (R-Neb) made international headlines today after his appearance on ABC's "This Week" on Sunday. Hagel stated that the war in Iraq was becoming more and more reminiscent of the Vietnam War and that our presence in Iraq has caused a destabilization of the Middle East. He also said that "stay the course" is not a policy and that the Bush administration needs to develop a plan to leave Iraq.

Earlier in the summer Hagel said that "the White House is completely disconnected from reality". He told U.S. News that "its like they're making it up as they go along. The reality is that we're losing in Iraq." Hagel's attacks on Bush go all the way back to just before the election basically blaming the Bush Administration for 9/11 for "not picking up what the Clinton Administration was trying to convey not just in policy terms, but in the reality of facing this and without bringing this to the highest level of government". He even defended Senator John Kerry after Bush called him "soft on defense".

Hagel has made it known that he is going to be a Presidential candidate in 2008. My question is for which party's nomination is he going to run? I hope he is not serious about running for the Republican nomination. Senator Hagel is about as much a Republican as Ted Kennedy is a Capitalist. Hagel might as well join hands with Senator Dick Durbin (D-Ill) and walk to Crawford Texas to join Cindy Sheehan and Joan Baez in singing kumbayaa.

Somebody send Hagel an application to switch parties now. He certainly has the Democrat rhetoric down pat. He blasts Bush on Iraq as having no plan or strategy but he brings no alternate plan or strategy of his own to the table.

At first I thought Hagel was just putting distance between himself and President Bush in hopes that Iraq would be a colossal failure. This way he could be the anti-Bush Republican that would be able to draw support from Independents and moderate Republicans. Now, I just think he checked the wrong box when he was filling out his party affiliation card.

All of this would be quite humorous if not for the fact that terrorists all over the world just got a big boost to their morale. Thanks Chuck!

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

News Not In The News

August is a traditionally slow news month here in America. Eager for news stories the left-wing media has been all too happy to latch on to the Michael Moore sponsored protests of Cindy Sheehan. Sad as it is that her son was killed in Iraq the left-wing has been using this mother’s grief and her anti-war feelings to try and jump start the anti-war effort that so far has been unable to gain a foothold here in America. Backed up against the Sheehan story are the media driven low approval ratings of the President and the nightly body counts of Coalition and Iraqi forces giving the impression of defeat with no end in sight.

With nothing but this dreary news on night after night it is no wonder poll numbers for both the President and the war are so low. It is also a wonder that anyone even tunes in to the news or picks up a newspaper. So I thought I would bring you some news in this column about both Iraq and Afghanistan that you will not see on the nightly news or read in tomorrows newspaper and as you might of guessed it is not so dreary.

First from the front in Afghanistan:

On the 14th of August officials from the Afghan government reported that since this spring more than 45 commanders that have often clashed with security forces have now renounced violence, turned over their weapons, and are now using their influence to aid the Afghan government.

Also on the 14th Afghan security forces stopped an operation by terrorists to destroy the Kajaki dam and in the process uncovered a large cache of weapons.

A women affairs department was also opened in the Laghman Province on the 14th to promote women’s rights throughout the region.

On the 15th with the aid of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) a food processing plant has been established in the Parwan province. This factory has produced 1,000 jobs, 400 of which have gone to women, and now allows for the export of fresh vegetables to other countries.

On the 15th it was reported that a new institute to promote investigative journalism will be established.

On the Iraqi front:

It was reported on the 16th of August that working on a tip from Iraqi citizens multi-national ground forces destroyed a large cache of artillery shells that were apparently going to be used for Improvised Explosive Devices.

On the 13th of August Task Force Baghdad stopped three car bomb attempts within five hours in South Baghdad. This same force found and destroyed two large IED’s on the side of a major highway.

On August 12th Al-Qaeda Lieutenant Abu Zubair was killed in an ambush carried out by Iraqi Security Forces. Zubair was wanted for helping facilitate several suicide bombings.

From August 6th through the 12th Coalition and Iraqi forces captured three bomb makers, six foreign fighters, and found and destroyed 101 IED’s. With the help of Iraqi citizens Coalition soldiers stopped seven bomb attacks and captured eight terrorists. Also during this same time period Iraqi soldiers discovered five IED’s around a building in Rawah, a coalition EOD team destroyed the IED’s. Iraqi Security Forces EOD teams destroyed three IED’s in three separate cities on the same day. These IED’s were discovered by Iraqi police officers.

Approximately 18,000 Iraqi schoolchildren will have freshly refurbished schools this year. Over the last three weeks in Mosul over 1,000 Iraqi children have received medical screenings along with gifts of soccer balls and hygiene products.

The US Army Corps of Engineers project a finish date of December 25th for renovations to the Najaf Maternity Hospital. This 266 bed hospital is now operational even while renovations continue. 250 pediatric and 125 maternity outpatients are seen here on a daily basis.

Ninety-seven railway stations have been renovated. This was done through a joint effort between the Project and Contracting Office, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the Iraqi Republic of Railroads, and local Iraqi workers.

These are just some of the good news stories you can find on the Pajwok Afghan News website, almendhar.com, mnf-iraq.com and many others. These are not propaganda sites they report the bad news right along with the good, but without them you would probably never know that anything good was happening in Afghanistan or Iraq. Sure there is a lot of tragic news coming from these war fronts and it is all newsworthy as are anti-war demonstrators here and abroad. Are any of the brief news accounts you read in this column any less newsworthy? I certainly do not think so. The left-wing media bias is hard at work and as in a previous column I encourage you all to do a little research and find both sides of the story.