UN Security Council Caves

There is no other way to describe this but as a diplomatic victory for the Bush administration:

France, Russia and Germany on Tuesday dropped their demands that the United States grant the United Nations a central role in Iraq’s reconstruction and yield power to a provisional Iraqi government in the coming months.
The move constituted a major retreat by the Security Council’s chief antiwar advocates, and signaled their renewed willingness to consider the merits of a U.S. resolution aimed at conferring greater international legitimacy on its military occupation of Iraq.

If passed, the new Security Council resolution would effectively reject the obstructionism of Kofi Annan and the French. Jacques Chirac seems to have gotten the message that France, if the US ceased negotiating, would be revealed as a pretender to real power.

The Bush administration refused to incorporate the French, Russian and German demands for a timetable for the transfer of power in a revised text presented to the council last night — and indicated the United States would soon call their bluff … The administration arrived at this point with an intensive diplomatic campaign. It was designed, in the words of a senior U.S. official, to neutralize the resolution’s chief critic, France, by accommodating suggestions from Russia and Germany that were “more practical, more realistic and easier to take into account.”

By signing onto the new but substantially identical resolution, France gets to pretend it still matters, and Bush gets to pretend that’s important. The Bush administration finally started playing hardball by threatening to bypass the UN on all future issues regarding Iraq. If we hadn’t had to give some domestic cover to Tony Blair, we would have been better off doing just that from the very start.

Gaza blast kills 3 Americans

Breaking news: a bomb attack in the Gaza Strip has killed at least 3 American officials who were apparently touring to monitor progress on the peace process.

[Saeb] Erakat offered his condolences and condemned the attack.
“These people were here to help us,” Erakat insisted, saying an attack on what he described as U.S. monitors was not in the interest of the Palestinian people. “I don’t think this was a deliberate attack against the Americans.”

Obviously, some of the “Palestinian people” felt it was in their interest to attack Americans. Would that be the Hamas-led “Palestinian people”? The Islamic Jihad “Palestinian people”? Or the al-Fatah “Palestinian people” who report to Yasser Arafat and blow people up as a sideline?

“We offer to have an immediate, joint Palestinian-American investigation committee to investigate the matter,” Erakat said.

Perhaps we should have a US delegation meet up with Erekat and Arafat. I nominate the 4th Infantry Division, with an introduction by a contingent of F-18s.

We’re Winning, part 37b

The AP reports that the coalition has captured another senior terrorist in Iraq, this time from Ansar al-Islam, which is tied to al-Qaeda:

The arrest of Aso Hawleri, also known as Asad Muhammad Hasan, late last week in the northern city of Mosul has not been announced. Larry Di Rita, chief spokesman for Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld, told reporters, “I’m not in a position to confirm” Hawleri’s capture.
Hawleri was taken by soldiers of the 101st Airborne Division, said a defense official, who discussed the matter on condition of anonymity.
The officials said Hawleri is thought to be the third-ranking official in Ansar al-Islam, most of whose fighters were believed to have fled their stronghold in northern Iraq before U.S. forces invaded in March. U.S. and Kurdish forces destroyed the group’s main base in the early weeks of the war.

Ansar al-Islam claimed responsibility for the car bombing in Mosul that killed several reporters in Mosul during the war, and has been suspected of participating in the attacks in and around Baghdad since the end of the invasion, if not outright leading them. This is a major coup for the 101st Airborne.

Someone finally bothered to ask the Iraqis

With all of the debate about how long we should be staying in Iraq, and the UN demanding that we leave so that the Iraqis can take care of themselves, Gallup cut out the middlemen and just asked the Iraqis what they want. A novel approach, to be sure, but one that the UN apparently never bothered to try.

The Gallup poll found that 71 percent of the capital city’s residents felt U.S. troops should not leave in the next few months. Just 26 percent felt the troops should leave that soon.

Bear in mind that Baghdad is part of the Sunni Triangle, where you could expect to find significant hostility to the US presence that eliminated the Sunni minority’s hold on power (to the extent it was Sunni-based, anyway). Gallup’s polling did not include areas outside the Sunni Triangle, where you would expect approval for the US occupation to be higher, because it’s keeping the Baathists from reclaiming power.
These numbers indicate what the Bush administration has been saying all along — that the rebuilding of Iraq, while dangerous and slow, is succeeding, and if we stay the course, we can expect an independent and democratic Iraq to be an enthusiastic ally of the United States. The worst possible move to make at this point is to hand over the whole thing to the cut-and-run UN, who brought us such debacles as Rwanda and the Congo.

Unofficial diplomacy reaches agreement — but who will implement it?

Negotiators from outside the governments of both Israel and the Palestinian Authority reached a peace agreement, but one with no weight whatsoever as Israel strongly denounced the effort:

Coming at a time when Middle East peace prospects are at a low ebb, the 50-page draft agreement was reached during the weekend in Jordan by the two delegations, which include current Parliament members and former cabinet members from both sides.
But the proposal has no official blessing, and the Israeli government immediately denounced it, calling it irresponsible freelance diplomacy.
“The public rejected these same political figures,” Limor Livnat, Israel’s education minister, said of the Israeli delegation, led by left-wing politicians. “In no democratic country would this be acceptable.” The Palestinian Authority did not immediately comment, though the Palestinian team included senior political figures with close ties to Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat.

Put into terms that we might relate to, it would be the equivalent George McGovern and Hubert Humphrey going to Hanoi in December 1972 and negotiating a peace agreement with the Viet Cong. Not that either of those men would have done that, mind you; they knew better than to interfere with American foreign policy in that manner. (Too bad Jimmy Carter never figured it out.) This may or may not be a starting point for future official negotiations, but the fact is that the democratically elected leadership of Israel should represent Israel exclusively. The Swiss Foreign Ministry should know better than to sponsor events such as these. Would the Swiss find it amusing if we negotiated on Swiss issues with a bunch of politicians they had voted out of office?

Like Father, Like Son

Osama’s son plays an increasignly important role in al-Qaeda, according to today’s Washington Post, and is being protected by Iran:

Saad bin Laden, one of Osama bin Laden’s oldest sons, has emerged in recent months as part of the upper echelon of the al Qaeda network, a small group of leaders that is managing the terrorist organization from Iran, according to U.S., European and Arab officials.

The younger bin Laden speaks English and is computer literate, two rare qualities among al-Qaeda, and so his influence is even more pervasive than his family name would indicate. Saudi Arabia wants him extradited from Iran, but negotiations have gone nowhere:

Similarly, Saudi Arabia, which in recent years has tried to thaw relations with its larger and more powerful neighbor across the Persian Gulf, is trying, unsuccessfully, to persuade Iran to extradite Saad bin Laden and others suspected in the Riyadh bombing. Saudi officials estimate there are as many as 400 al Qaeda members there.
“Those people are in Iran and somebody must be helping them. The question is who?” Prince Bandar bin Sultan, the Saudi ambassador, told the San Francisco Chronicle last month. “This is the problem with Iran. The people who we can deal with can’t deliver, they can’t lead eight ducks across the street. And the guys who can deliver, they’re not interested.”

Fisking the Whistleblower

Colleen Rowley, the FBI agent who blew the whistle on the bureau’s lack of follow-up before 9/11 — mostly due to political correctness concerns — wrote a tedious and silly op-ed in Sunday’s Star Tribune. James Lileks, who has a regular column and feature in the Strib (the Back Fence), fisks the hell out of Rowley. Rowley’s article is another of those vague, unsupported complaints about how dissent is being stifled in John Ashcroft’s America that seem to find themselves on the pages of major newspapers on almost a weekly basis. It would be delicious satire if these idiots actually had a sense of humor. (via Instapundit)

The Post gets it

The Washington Post proves that it is the leading voice in American politics in a well-written, thoughtful analysis of the Iraq front of the war on terror.

The debate over intervention was fraught precisely because many people understood that Saddam Hussein was not an imminent danger. We argued nonetheless that the real risk lay in allowing him to defy repeated U.N. disarmament orders, including Resolution 1441, the “final opportunity” approved by unanimous Security Council vote.

As noted endlessly in the blogosphere, and acknowledged in the Post’s editorial in a more passive way, the Bush administration never argued that Saddam represented an “imminent” threat. In fact, in Bush’s State of the Union speech earlier this year, and in the speech he delivered to the UN, he argued that the United States and the civilized world could not afford to wait until the threat was imminent. That was the whole “preemption” controversy. Preemption doesn’t apply to imminent threats. Preemption is the policy to remove threats before they become imminent.

Though it pokes holes in U.S. intelligence and our assumptions, Mr. Kay’s report contains much to substantiate this reasoning. Saddam Hussein, the report claims, never abandoned his intention to produce biological, chemical and nuclear arms — and he was aggressively defying Resolution 1441. He also was successfully deceiving U.N. inspectors. They failed to discover multiple programs for developing illegal long-range missiles as well as a clandestine network of biological laboratories, among other things. From a legal standpoint, the report shows that Iraq should have been subject to the “serious consequences” specified by Resolution 1441 in the event of noncompliance. More important, it strongly suggests that in the absence of intervention Iraq eventually would have shaken off the U.N. inspectors and sanctions, allowing Saddam Hussein to follow through on his intentions. He would have been able to renew his attempt to dominate the region and its oil supplies, while deterring the United States with the threat of missiles topped with biological warheads. In acting to enforce the U.N. resolution, the United States eliminated a real, if not “imminent,” threat, while ensuring that future Security Council ultimatums carry some weight.

In the 1930s, before we had a United Nations, the League of Nations attempted to fill the same role, which was to discourage the use of force and to resolve international disputes through diplomacy. However, it refused to enforce any of its resolutions. When Italy invaded Ethiopia, and later when Japan invaded China, the League passed resolution after resolution demanding the withdrawal of invading forces, but refused to act on any of these resolutions. Because the League consisted mainly of Western democracies, Mussolini and Hitler became convinced that the Western democratic model was decadent and would not survive against Fascism or Communism, and certainly would not fight to save themselves. Franco’s coup in Spain, assisted by both Mussolini and Hitler, assured them of this.
The danger of the UN is that a lack of action is worse than not having the organization at all. Had we allowed Saddam to outlast the now-discredited “inspection” process and re-arm, it would have encouraged other despots in the region and elsewhere to do the exact same thing. Worse, it would have underscored the notion that Western democracies can be bullied into submission, which would have exponentially increased our risk of terrorist attack for any number of crackpot causes. History teaches us that peace can only be achieved through strength and vigilance, not appeasement and retreat. We’ve tried that and it cost the world almost 50 million dead in the middle of the last century.
Read the rest of the editorial; it’s balanced, contains very fair criticisms of the Bush administration, and some good suggestions for moving forward.

This boosts my confidence in air travel

I’m sure this all started with a directive that a certain percentage of all screeners had to pass their tests. From there, it’s easy to get to this point. I mean, even if they weren’t given most of the answers, how hard is it to answer questions like these:

One question asked “How do threats get aboard an aircraft?” The possible answers were (a) In carry-on bags; (b) In checked-in bags; (c) In another person’s bag; and (d) All of the above. The correct answer is (d).
A second question asked why it is important to screen bags for improvised explosive devices (IEDs). A possible answer: “The ticking timer could worry other passengers.” The right answer: “IEDs can cause loss of lives, property and aircraft.”

Chuck Schumer said that the questions “appear as if they were written by Jay Leno’s gag writer,” but that seems unduly harsh … to Jay Leno.

Chocolate HQ No More

The “chocolate makers” have dropped their plans to create a military organization outside of NATO. Apparently, France, Germany, Beligium, and that military powerhouse Luxembourg decided that their combined might would only challenge the Junior ROTC in Berkeley. Instead, they plan to create a military “planning” cell. Do these guys have any clue about how that sounds during a war on Al Qaeda? No, apparently not. (Via Merde in France)