Osama bin Laden apparently has a different take on the global war on terror than many in Congress. While we have heard arguments about how Iraq provided nothing more than a diversion, the gaining strength of the new representative Iraqi government has convinced Osama of the critical need to stop it. In his Internet address to the faithful jihadis, Osama urges them to put all of their efforts to pull down the new democracy in Southwest Asia lest his entire life’s work collapse:
Al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden urged Iraqi militants in an Internet message Saturday to continue fighting the U.S.-led coalition in Baghdad, or else “all the capitals in the region will fall to the crusaders.” …
The message urged militants in Iraq to continue their fight.
“Stay steadfast and don’t leave Baghdad, otherwise all the capitals in the region will fall to the crusaders,” said the message.
“Your Muslim nation is looking for you and praying for your victory. You are their hope after God. You are God’s trusted soldiers who will liberate the ummah (the nation) from the serfdom of the crusaders in our countries,” bin Laden said in the posting.
Osama also endorsed the selection of Abu Hamza al-Muhajer as the replacement target for Iraqi and American forces in Iraq now that Abu Musab al-Zarqawi continues in his long struggle to remain dead. His exhortation to Islamic lunatics everywhere reveals the desperation of his enterprise. Not only has the new democracy shown that Muslims can rule themselves without a strongman, it also appears to have built enough domestic support to resist the brutal charms of radical Islam. The Iraqis have shown their belief in liberty by voting in the millions on three separate occasions, walking for miles while the terrorists and insurgents have done their best to frighten them into obedience to Osama’s oppressive vision.
The center of the Islamist project has definitely become Baghdad, and they are losing … badly. Osama knows it, the foreign terrorists in Iraq know it, the native insurgents welcome it, and the Iraqis increasingly drive that point home on their own. In his last moments on that stretcher, Zarqawi knew it, too. Mujaher knows it, and Osama has given him the impossible task of attempting to terrorize the Iraqis into submission. Saddam managed it only by seizing control of the government and military. Mujaher will not get any chance at all at that path to power, not while the newly-freed Iraqis have anything to say about it.
Osama also praised the installation of the Islamist regime in Somalia, reminding everyone that our retreat from there in late 1993 showed us to have no tenacity in fighting Islamofascism. Even Osama can’t pretend that the situation hasn’t changed in the thirteen years since that ignominious “redeployment”, the one John Murtha hails as a military victory. The only people still able to pretend that 1993 still exists is a rapidly diminishing group of Democratic politicians led by Murtha, John Kerry, and Russ Feingold.
Baghdad is the crucible for the Islamists and for the West. A victory for one will cripple the other. Osama sees which way this battle is going and has fewer and fewer nutcases willing to die for a lost cause there.
A new poll by Fox News shows Bush gaining support, especially from his base, in the wake of the Democrats’ attempts to force a withdrawal from Iraq. His overall job approval has held steady at 41%, up from the low 30s before the retreat/withdrawal/redeployment strategies of the Democrats took center stage. The good news for the White House does not end there:
President Bush’s job rating is holding ground as 41 percent of Americans say they approve of his performance and 50 percent disapprove. Earlier this month, soon after terrorist leader Abu Musab Al-Zarqawi was killed by a U.S. airstrike, Bush hit 40 percent for the first time in months. His current approval rating is 8 percentage points higher than his record low of 33 percent earlier this year (April 18-19).
The partisan divide is evident throughout many of the poll results, including the president’s job rating: most Republicans (79 percent) approve of Bush’s performance and most Democrats disapprove (83 percent).
“While Bush has gained a little support across the board, most of his gain from the low point has come by reinforcing his base,” comments Opinion Dynamics Chairman John Gorman. “His political advisers have always been most concerned with the Republican/conservative base and you see a wide range of initiatives both substantive and symbolic designed to rally and motivate that base.”
The base still has major issues with the administration, especially on immigration. They want a borders-first approach that Bush has declined to substantively support to this point. They want him to get serious about filling the judicial openings, especially the two on the DC appellate court that still remain open. Spending issues cause even more friction. However, the Democrats did Bush a huge favor this year, spearheaded by Russ Feingold, John Murtha, and John Kerry, by trying to undercut the war on terror. That effort reminded the base exactly what they risked with a total disaffection from Bush this November.
The poll holds other good news, as noted by Hot Air. The public in general supported the Swift program of tracking terrorist money by a similar level as that of the NSA programs also revealed by the New York Times. It received an overall level of support of 70%, with majorities of Republicans, Democrats, and independents all believing to be beneficial to our national security.
The media may not like these results very much. While a majority of Americans rightly blamed the leakers for exposing the program (51%), 43% called the media’s actions “treason” and two-thirds believe they should be indicted for their efforts to publish the information. By a wide margin, Americans believe that the media damaged the nation rather than strengthened it with its reporting on covert tactics (60%-27%). Not too many believed Bill Keller’s explanation that the Times published it with its civic obligations in mind; only 37% bought that argument.
The gap between Democrats and Republicans in a generic run for Congress dropped significantly from earlier this year. That had registered in double digits at one point, fueling Democratic hopes for a takeover in the House. Now that gap has narrowed to six points, just over the margin of error and too close to hope for any significant gains. The Republicans have reasserted their advantage on national security, with an 11-point gap. The Democrats have the advantage on the economy by eight points — but with the Bush economy continuing its strong run, expect the GOP to start hammering on their record of success to narrow that advantage.
These numbers bode ill for Democrats, only five months away from the election. If these trends continue, they will face their fourth straight humiliation — and they will only have themselves to blame.
A federal judge issued a little-noticed ruling that spells trouble for Travis County DA Ronnie Earle and his obsession with Tom DeLay. Dryly calling Earle’s efforts “innovative”, Judge Mike Lynch ruled that political groups broke no state laws against political coordination, one of the keystones of Earle’s efforts to indict DeLay (h/t: CQ reader Gregg G):
A state district judge dealt a crippling blow Thursday to the nearly four-year prosecution of the Texas Association of Business, throwing out a felony indictment against the state’s largest business organization.
District Judge Mike Lynch ruled that 2002 pre-election ads produced by the group did not expressly advocate the election or defeat of Texas legislative candidates. Travis County prosecutors had said the group broke state election law by using corporate money to support candidates.
Lynch’s ruling put in doubt two other similar indictments pending against the organization by also discounting prosecutors’ alternative theory that the ads became illegal when the association coordinated them with other political groups. Lynch called the prosecutors’ argument “innovative” but concluded that state law does not cover it.
Austin lawyer Roy Minton, who represents the business association, predicted that Lynch’s decision ultimately would be the end of the lengthy prosecution: “I believe the basic position the court has taken is going to make it very difficult, if not impossible, for the state to prosecute TAB.”
Even as critics warned that the ruling would open the floodgates to more secret money in state politics, District Attorney Ronnie Earle said he would pursue prosecution of a fourth indictment accusing the association of making an illegal contribution to its own political action committee. He also will probably appeal Lynch’s ruling.
Illegal coordination goes to the heart of Earle’s case against DeLay as well, and relies on the same legal interpretations. Lynch called Earle’s arguments a “convoluted maze” that kept defendants in the dark about what laws they had supposedly violated. “You cannot make a silk purse out of this sow’s ear,” Lynch scolded Earle as he dismissed the charges. Even attorneys representing Democrats noted that the criminal application of these laws overreached.
DeLay and his legal team have to take some grim satisfaction from Lynch’s ruling. He revealed Earle as an “innovator”, which in less polite terms means someone who makes up law for his own purposes. His years-long political vendetta against DeLay and the Republican Party appears to have finally come up against a clear application of the law.
The new Human Rights Council has already shown that it fits right into the political and cultural viewpoint of the General Assembly. It voted yesterday to dedicate itself to the deliberate targeting of the one nation it sees as the largest human-rights problem in the world — Israel:
The new UN Human Rights Council voted Friday to make a review of alleged human rights abuses by Israel a permanent feature of every council session.
The resolution, which was sponsored by Islamic countries, was passed by a vote of 29-12, with five abstentions. It effectively revives a practice of the UN’s dissolved Human Rights Commission, which also reviewed alleged Israeli abuses every time it met.
Israel protested Friday’s vote, calling it a perpetuation of “the old infamous habits” of the widely discredited commission.
The resolution requires UN investigators to report at each council session “on the Israeli human rights violations in occupied Palestine.”
The resolution also said the council “decides to undertake substantive consideration of the human rights violations and implications of the Israeli occupation of Palestine and other occupied Arab territories at its next session and to incorporate that issue in its following sessions.”
Once again, we see that the UN has become corrupted by the anti-semitism and the dictatorships of its membership. This goes down the same corrupt path as the panel it replaced, avoiding consideration of real human-rights abusers such as Iran, Cuba, Myanmar, Saudi Arabia. Instead they attack Western democracies by attempting to paint them as evil oppressors when nothing could be further from the truth.
Let’s look at Israel as an example, since they have made that their issue. Israel allows full suffrage for its citizens, even the Israeli Arabs. A handful sit in the Knesset, and they have their own political party. Most of the nations on the HRC don’t even allow for multiparty democracy, let alone minority rights and freedom of expression. In terms of Israeli actions in the occupied West Bank, certainly some criticism is legitimate, but the overall context of the struggle they face there overwhelmingly shows them as sinned against much more than sinner. The HRC, in either incarnation, has never made an issue of Palestinian terrorism against explicitly civilian targets, making their approach to the conflict completely dishonest.
More than ever, it appears that real reform at the United Nations is impossible. The United States needs to cut funding for the kleptocrats at Turtle Bay and encourage as many of our allies to follow suit — especially Japan, whose experience in the North Korea standoff might make them open to such a suggestion. When the money stops flowing into their accounts, the UN will get the message much more quickly than they have up to now. Defunding this mess also gives us the moral standing that refusing to enable corruption brings.
Israel’s threat to assassinate Hamas PM Ismail Haniyeh if the terrorist group does not return Gilad Shalit unharmed has created an international uproar. Many pundits and diplomats have scolded Israel for escalating a conflict unnecessarily and issuing a threat they see as illegitimate. However, just as with some Americans almost five years after 9/11, people seem almost deliberately taking the warning out of its larger context.
First, the facts as reported by The Australian (via Hot Air):
ISRAEL last night threatened to assassinate Palestinian Prime Minister Ismael Haniyeh if Hamas militants did not release a captured Israeli soldier unharmed.
The unprecedented warning was delivered to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in a letter as Israel debated a deal offered by Hamas to free Corporal Gilad Shalit.
It came as Israeli military officials readied a second invasion force for a huge offensive into Gaza.
Not much in the way of confirmation has come through since this initial report. The Jerusalem Post does not have a story on its site this morning confirming this threat, nor does the BBC or other wire services have any other independent reporting on this. It may have been a false leak, intended to either make Israel look bad or appear out of patience with the situation.
However, if true, this threat has to be viewed in the larger context of both the immediate situation and the larger history of the conflict. The central fact of this incident is that Palestinians crossed over from unoccupied Gaza into Israel, and that the Palestinian government did not take action to either stop them or to return Gilad Shalit. In fact, Hamas gave the act its endorsement, and evidence exists that Hamas planned and executed the invasion. That makes it an act of war — as if the daily shower of Kassam rockets from Gaza into Israel didn’t already qualify for that status.
That means that the entire political structure as well as the military/security command becomes a fair target. The detention of Hamas ministers does not constitute any breach of the rules of war; as members of the opposing government, the IDF can target them for attack or capture. They should have POW status under those conditions, but they still are legitimate targets.
So too is Ismail Haniyeh. As Prime Minister, he runs the executive and again shares responsiblity for any acts of war committed by the Hamas terrorists. As the leader of Hamas, the terrorist actions of his group qualifies him for terrorist status as well. Besides, Palestinian threats to kill Israeli government officials hardly gives them any moral standing to complain about this particular threat.
Is the targeting of Haniyeh a wise move? Military strategy usually reserves attacks on political leadership as a last resort, as one needs a legitimate voice for the opponents to negotiate truces and/or surrenders when possible. However, one can easily argue that Haniyeh’s role in terrorism strips him of that legitimacy. The Israelis can also argue with substantial cause that they need to make the so-called political wing of Hamas personally responsible for its terrorism, and that the IDF has tried just about everything else to make their point. That got underscored by Haniyeh himself when he declared that Hamas would never recognize Israel, implicitly or explicitly, and that the much-ballyhooed NCD did nothing towards resolving that point.
A nation at war with another state or protostate can legitimately target the political leadership of its opponents under the rules of war. Those who object to Israel’s right to target Ismail Haniyeh either do not recognize the Israeli-Palestinian conflict as a war or are determined to oppose Israel under any and all conditions. The fact is that the Palestinians have conducted a low-level war against Israel ever since they pulled out of Gaza, and that the Israelis have finally responded in kind to this latest provocation.