George Bush won the war on Radical Islam – deal with it!

In case you missed it, there was just a huge election in Iraq. 61% turn out is a nearly impossible feat in the US, where the recent Illinois primary saw a whopping 72% of the electorate stay home. It wouldn’t surprise me if the Iraqi elections where more honest as well.

We now have a functioning democracy in the heart of the Middle East. This is a phenomenon that will slowly, but surely eat away at the regimes like Saudi Arabia (already moderating) and Iran (in the process of another ‘revolution’).

Bush was right.

Mission Accomplished, Indeed

RONALD REAGAN liked to say that there was no limit to what a man could accomplish if he didn’t mind who got the credit. The transformation of Iraq from a hellish tyranny into a functioning democracy will be recorded as a signal accomplishment of George W. Bush’s presidency, and he probably doesn’t mind in the least that the Obama administration would like to take the credit.

This week’s parliamentary elections in Iraq brought 12 million voters to the polls – a remarkable 62 percent turnout, notwithstanding a wave of Election Day bombings that killed 38 people.

“Iraqis are not afraid of bombs anymore,’’ a middle-aged voter named Maliq Bedawi told a New York Times reporter as they stood amid the rubble of a Baghdad apartment building destroyed by a Katyusha rocket. If anything, the jihadists’ violence only intensified the refusal of ordinary Iraqis to be intimidated. “Everyone went’’ to vote, Bedawi said. “Even people who didn’t want to vote before, they went after this rocket.’’

How Bush won the War on Radical Islam

Absent the opportunity to see what a Democratic Government might look like (Iraq / Afghanistan), the article below never happens. The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan will go down in history as the beginning of the “reformation” of Islam.

Only Bush would have seen this through. Reagan punted in 1983, and Clinton, Gore, Kerry and Obama would never have even started. Realpolitik isn’t real, and it isn’t politik. It’s status quo, and only an idealist can drive real improvement.

Islamic Scholar Issues Anti-Terrorism Fatwa

A prominent Islamic scholar will use a speech in London to issue a 600-page religious edict, denouncing terrorists and suicide bombers as “unbelievers”.

Muhammad Tahir ul Qadri is a leading figure who has promoted peace and interfaith dialogue for 30 years.

He said he felt compelled to issue the fatwa because of concerns about the radicalisation of British Muslims at university campuses and because there had been a lack of condemnation of extremism by Muslim clerics and scholars.

Ul Qadri says his fatwa, which is aimed at persuading young Muslims to turn their backs on extremism, goes further than any previous denunciation.

“This is the first, most comprehensive fatwa on the subject of terrorism ever written,” said ul Qadri, who has written about 350 books on Islamic scholarship.

He is a scholar of Sufism, a long tradition within Islam which is widely seen as focusing on peace, tolerance and moderation.

Rating the Investments – “War vs. Education”

The article linked below is longer than most people have time to read, but it’s an important article nonetheless. I generally agree with its take, but challenge at least one point made.

Death Cometh for the Greenback

America’s debt-to-GDP ratio is slated to increase from 40.8 percent in 2008 to 70 percent or more by 2019, and if interest rates return to more normal levels of say 5 to 6 percent from their current range of 0.0 to 0.25 percent, it will mean the cost of paying interest on the debt will eat up a substantial fraction of tax revenue (20 percent or more)—unless taxes are raised. The costs of funding programs for the aging baby boomers will only put further strains on the budget.

Granted, deficits by themselves need not present a problem. Deficits are of course only one side of a country’s balance sheet. On the other side are assets. If a company borrows money to make high-return investments, no one is worried—so long as those investments do in fact yield returns.1 Our soaring deficit is not a concern if the money is spent on education, technology, infrastructure—all investments that historically have yielded very high returns, far higher than the interest rate the government has to pay—because then the returns to our society are far greater than the costs.

    But, if the money is spent on wars in Afghanistan or Iraq

, poorly designed bailouts for banks or tax cuts for upper-income Americans, then there will be no asset corresponding to the increased liabilities, and then there is cause for concern. This seems to be the road we have been heading down for the last eight years and, disappointingly, are to too-large an extent continuing to travel.

No one would argue with the overall point, but the attack on “money spent on wars” should be taken to task. It would be so easy to compare investment in a good education system to an investment in ‘war’, and pretend that the better choice is obvious.

It isn’t.

First, America takes a backseat to no nation in investing scads of money in bloated and unnecessary institutions call “school districts” and then loading those districts with needless overpaid and over-pensioned staff (both Admin and teachers). This is hardly a wise investment.

Next, while it may appear obvious that investing in “war” is less rewarding than even bloated education, please take the following fact into account. The 9/11 attacks destroyed billions of value in minutes, and that loss cascaded into greater billions in lost value and hastily enacted “investments” in security.

Saddam with a bomb (spare me the idiocy that he wasn’t a threat) is an extreme risk that no rational world would countenance. Getting rid of him could be viewed as a prudent investment in risk reduction. Furthermore, while the project is far from finished, 50 million free Iraqis and Afghans is an “investment” huge potential, as is creating a more democratic Muslim region. Lastly, while somewhat crass, we haven’t even begun to discuss the “investment” in the free flow of oil.

Of course, it is arguable that these investments could have been better allocated and deployed, just as I’ve argued we could deploy education dollars far more effectively than pouring money into the greedy maw of corrupt education bureaucracies and lying about how it’s “for the children.” Both of those are debates worth having.

Pretending the answer is “obvious” is just plain silly.

You mean Bush was right?

Waking from its sleep

A quiet revolution has begun in the Arab world; it will be complete only when the last failed dictatorship is voted out

WHAT ails the Arabs? The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) this week published the fifth in a series of hard-hitting reports on the state of the Arab world. It makes depressing reading. The Arabs are a dynamic and inventive people whose long and proud history includes fabulous contributions to art, culture, science and, of course, religion. The score of modern Arab states, on the other hand, have been impressive mainly for their consistent record of failure.

They have, for a start, failed to make their people free: six Arab countries have an outright ban on political parties and the rest restrict them slyly. They have failed to make their people rich: despite their oil, the UN reports that about two out of five people in the Arab world live on $2 or less a day. They have failed to keep their people safe: the report argues that overpowerful internal security forces often turn the Arab state into a menace to its own people. And they are about to fail their young people. The UNDP reckons the Arab world must create 50m new jobs by 2020 to accommodate a growing, youthful workforce—virtually impossible on present trends.

Arab governments are used to shrugging off criticism. They had to endure a lot of it when George Bush was president… […]

In almost every Arab country, fertility is in decline, more people, especially women, are becoming educated, and businessmen want a bigger say in economies dominated by the state. Above all, a revolution in satellite television has broken the spell of the state-run media and created a public that wants the rulers to explain and justify themselves as never before. On their own, none of these changes seems big enough to prompt a revolution. But taken together they are creating a great agitation under the surface. The old pattern of Arab government—corrupt, opaque and authoritarian—has failed on every level and does not deserve to survive. At some point it will almost certainly collapse. The great unknown is when.

We beat communism, we are in the process of beating Islamic fascism, and maybe someday we will beat teacher’s unions.

Hold a mirror to their faces, and or rub their noses in their poop. Eventually, they will relent.

More evidence that Bush won the War against radical Islam

For those new to this site, let me clue you into my general opinion on the Iraq invasion. As a standalone invasion against a nation perceived as a threat, it made little sense. As a bold destabilization of both Saudi Arabia and Iran, it was the obvious choice, as it would be the easiest Middle East nation to democratize, and if successful, a permanent and fatal threat to Saudi and Iranian radicalism.

Once you realize this, the bungling of the “occupation” is a side issue weighed against the over all objective.

The first bit of evidence that a form of ‘normalization’ is taking place is the recent elections, and how smooth they went. I’ve also posted numerous articles like the ones below. The “threat” of Democracy is working its effect, just as expected. If you think about it, we could have avoided all this if Bush 1, poorly advised by Cheney and Powell, had ignored the Turks and Saudis, and let Saddam fall in 1991.

Let President Obama carp about the “failed policy of the past all he wants.” At the end of the day, he may be lucky enough to spend the “peace dividend” handed to him by Bush. Forward this post to all your Democratic/Liberal friends suffering from BDS (Bush Derangement Syndrome).

Saudi Arabia appoints first female minister (Julian Borger, 2/16/09, The Guardian)

In his first reshuffle since assuming the throne in 2005, King Abdullah also replaced two powerful enemies of reform, the chief of the Saudi religious police, Sheikh Ibrahim al-Ghaith, and the country’s most senior judge, Sheikh Salih Ibn al-Luhaydan. Ghaith, who runs the commission for the promotion of virtue and the prevention of vice, known as the mutawa, which enforces bans on alcohol and drugs, has gained a reputation for brutality. Luhaydan ruled last year that it was permissible to kill owners of satellite television channels broadcasting “immoral” programmes. Several other hardline judges were sacked as part of a challenge against the kingdom’s hardline religious establishment.

The grand Ulema commission, an influential grouping of religious scholars, will be reconfigured and opened to moderate clerics, breaking the grip of the ultra-conservatives.

King Abdullah also appointed a new head of a 150-seat consultative body, the Shura council, and replaced his ministers of education, health, justice and information.


Step by step for Middle East women

Steady but small steps toward women’s rights and freedoms are necessary in a culture with a strong history of laws and Islamic practices that are patriarchal and define social roles. Sadly, women may still require a male’s permission to marry, divorce, or work; domestic violence is a serious problem.

But the Middle East is not the same place for women that it was even five years ago.

That at least is the conclusion of a study released last week by Freedom House, a Washington-based group which tracks liberty’s advance (or retreat) around the globe. From 2004 through last year, all six countries in the study advanced women’s rights, making “small but notable gains” in political, economic, and legal rights.

Of the countries (Bahrain, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Oman, Qatar, and the United Arab Emirates), Kuwait and the UAE made the most progress. In Kuwait, for instance, women voted and ran for the first time in local and national elections in 2006. (Recent regional elections in next-door Iraq required 30 percent of candidates be women.)

Meanwhile, al Qaeda is stuck in the mountains of ungovernable Pakistan/Afghanistan, waiting to be picked of by missiles fired from Predators and attacked by Allied forces led by US Marines.

[Note: My fine young son, a recent graduate from USMC boot camp, is currently training in Camp Pendleton, and may soon be there, giving me a great deal of pride coupled with no small amount of fear.]

While still quite dangerous, the rest of the WOT is basically a ‘mop up’ operation, which is a far cry from the mess it would be if handled as a “law enforcement issue,” as the endearingly naive, but mostly silly left, would have foisted up on us.

Bush won. Deal with it.

Iraqi Election a Clinton-Bush Legacy

I was just surfing around, and I found this little tidbit on Wikipedia…

Iraq Liberation Act – 1998

As I’ve often reminded my many liberal friends, “Regime Change” in Iraq has been US policy since 1998.

This reminded me of the quiet news item on Iraq’s recent (like Yesterday!) elections.

Bush won, no matter how much you all hate him.

Deal with it.