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Posts Tagged ‘afghanistan’

The award for best Bergdahl commentary goes to…

Posted by Richard on June 5, 2014

MAD Magazine for “Barack Obama’s Unfortunate New Movie”! Priceless:

What, Me Worry?

HT: Reason Hit & Run Blog

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Marines saving kittens

Posted by Richard on July 17, 2010

If you like cats and admire soldiers and Marines, have I got a story for you! Usually, I Can Has Cheezburger is where you go for a dose of "lolcats" — pictures of cats with amusing captions. It's for laughs. But this post isn't about laughs, although it should put a smile on your face:

Kittehs Kiki and Keykey have found a home in the midst of war. And it’s all thanks to three US Marines, Brian Chambers, Chris Berry and Aaron Shaw. They started a mission to help find homes for stray cats that they found while serving in Afghanistan. After finding Keykey injured by a c-wire, Berry took care of his wounds and nursed him back to health and the two of them have been best friends every since.

And now Keykey is living with Berry’s parents in Michigan while Kiki is living with Chambers’ parents in Texas and both are enjoying their new loving homes! Those Marines are definitely heroes in our book as is also the group of Royal Marines that started the organization called Nowzad in 2007. This organization rescues stray and abandoned animals in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Kiki and US Marine Brian Chambers
Kiki and US Marine Brian Chambers


I Can Has Cheezburger got the story from Unique Scoop, which has additional information, along with lots and lots more adorable pictures. You've got to check it out.

After what seems like endless weeks of reading disappointing, depressing, frustrating, and angering news on the web, this was most welcome. Best story I've seen in forever. Made my week. Thank you, Jan!

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Liar and Bush puppet becomes “brilliant” choice

Posted by Richard on June 25, 2010

So, President Obama has accepted the resignation of (that's Washington-speak for fired) Gen. Stanley McChrystal. As a bazillion others have noted, that's interesting.

McChrystal is the man Obama hand-picked to replace the fired Gen. David McKiernan (do you have to have a Scottish surname to run the Afghan campaign?). McChrystal is that rarest of birds, a genuinely liberal military officer. He voted for Obama. He's implemented a "wage war without killing people, except by drone or CIA assassination" policy (it's unclear if that was his idea or the Commander in Chief's). It's characterized by rules of (mis)engagement guaranteed to increase Allied casualties and hinder the ability to engage the enemy. 

Sure, he had an unfortunate propensity for drinking with his staff and blowing off steam, even when a reporter was present. But otherwise, he sounds like the ideal Obama Era general.

Now, he's being replaced by Gen. David Petraeus. Pending Senate approval. This is the same Gen. Petraeus that, just 2-3 years ago, then-Sen. Biden, then-Sen. Clinton, then-Sen. Obama, Sen. Schumer, Sen. Kennedy, and countless other members of the Democratic Party and their shills in the MSM called a liar, a Bush puppet, and the architect of a misguided Iraq "surge" policy that couldn't possibly succeed.

Now, many of the very same people, along with their media sycophants, are calling the Petraeus nomination a "brilliant" choice. After all, the choice was made by one of the very same people.

So, the author of the much-reviled surge plan in Iraq has been chosen by one of the leading critics of that plan to carry out the surprisingly similar surge plan in Afghanistan.

Sure, that makes sense.

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Rules of (mis)engagement

Posted by Richard on June 22, 2010

A short time ago, the U.S. death toll in Afghanistan passed 1000, and the Brits just lost their 300th. Today was an especially deadly day for coalition troops, and this month is turning into one of the deadliest of the war. This is not unexpected. When the surge began, everyone predicted a rise in casualties. More troops engaging in more operations equals more casualties. 

But that alone may not be the full explanation. On Sunday, George Will reported on a troubling email from a non-commissioned officer in Afghanistan. The NCO cited several examples from his own battlefield experiences illustrating that the rules of engagement under which troops are operating are, in his words, "too prohibitive for coalition forces to achieve sustained tactical successes." Here's one of them: 

Receiving mortar fire during an overnight mission, his unit called for a 155mm howitzer illumination round to be fired to reveal the enemy's location. The request was rejected "on the grounds that it may cause collateral damage." The NCO says that the only thing that comes down from an illumination round is a canister, and the likelihood of it hitting someone or something was akin to that of being struck by lightning. 

The others are no less nonsensical and dangerous to the troops. In a counter-insurgency operation, it's both morally and practically important to minimize unnecessary civilian casualties. But there's such a thing as being stupid about it. When a group of villagers is, as in another of the NCO's examples, openly cheering for the enemy and harboring insurgents in their homes, being solicitous of their feelings is unlikely to win their hearts and minds — only to win their greater contempt. 

Right or left, hawk or dove, surely we can all agree that it's wrong to send soldiers to fight under rules that make it impossible for them to succeed and that greatly increase their chances of dying.

(HT: Vodkapundit)

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Targeted killings

Posted by Richard on February 24, 2010

They told me that if I voted Republican, the U.S. government would escalate its use of CIA hit teams and Predator UAVs to conduct assassinations without regard for collateral damage or international humanitarian law, and they were right:

The Obama administration has stepped up these kinds of remote-control bombardments, launching at least 64 drone strikes within Pakistan in its first 13 months; in its last three years, the Bush administration unleashed 41, according to an analysis by the New America Foundation.

The U.S. doesn’t like to think of itself as being in the assassination business, which is why the preferred term is “targeted killings.” Either way, this growing practice involves large legal and moral questions that should loom large, but don’t — not compared with the outcry over coercive interrogation or extraordinary renditions.

In fact, the Obama administration has gone well beyond the Bush administration not just in the number of targeted killings, but in their scope. Today, many such hits take place deep inside Pakistan, far from the theater of war. Richard Fernandez, quoting extensively from a paper by Professor Kenneth Anderson and a post at Anderson's Law of War blog, discussed the thorny problems the Obama administration is creating for itself by trying to have it both ways (emphasis added): 

Professor Kenneth Anderson says that President Obama has failed to lay the legal groundwork for acts of targeted killing of “non-state enemies of the United States” and thereby risks impaling itself on the horns of a dilemma of his own making. By relying on “international humanitarian law” instead of asserting its own legal doctrine, the Obama administration will eventually find that it cannot defend the United States without condemning itself by the legal standard it has embraced.

The really interesting thing about the administration’s increase in the use of targeted hits, its unwillingness to take custody of prisoners and indeed to hand them over to people like the Pakistani military; and indeed its declining ability to take any enemy combatant alive at all is that it is rooted not in what Anderson called Dick Cheney’s “brutish, simplistic” determination to defend America, but in President Obama’s desire to live up to the highest standards of International Humanitarian Law (IHL). And although Anderson has no fondness for Cheney’s approach he correctly appreciates that sooner or later the public is going to discover the rank hypocrisy of Obama’s approach. “But journalistic sentiment will swing back again, particularly as the NGO community seeks to peel the CIA from the uniformed military in its use of drones and targeted killing.” An Obama deprived of his Teflon may find himself unable to simultaneously justify the actions needed to suppress the enemy (which he must do to avoid an electoral backlash) and maintain his purity in the eyes of his ideological supporters. He has to square the circle. Faced with the prospect of following the urgings of the Left which don’t work, and following the urgings of his political enemies which do work, his plan is apparently to graft the two halves together. But sooner or later, as Anderson notes, someone will notice.

Some elements of the left have already noticed. See, for instance, here, here, here, and here.

I have no problem with targeting al Qaeda and Taliban leaders. They're monstrous barbarians — "enemies of humanity" under the principle of international law applied to pirates, and fair game for anyone. I worry a bit about the "collateral damage," especially when the enterprise is shrouded in secrecy and the targeting information allegedly often comes from the Pakistanis — perhaps not the most reliable or fastidious source. But it's likely that many of the "civilian casualties" reported by Pakistani villagers are in fact the friends, family, and comrades of the terrorist targets — as are the villagers doing the reporting. 

Frankly, I confess to finding it all somewhat amusing, in a dark-humor sort of way. The Obama administration still hasn't closed Gitmo, has established a "High Value Interrogation Group," has decided military tribunals might be a good idea after all, and has dramatically escalated the CIA's campaign of targeted killings, things that 98.3% of the members of that administration once denounced as contrary to U.S. and/or international law.

Yet the mainstream media and liberal establishment (but I repeat myself), when they do criticize these things, do so mildly and cautiously. Everyone knows that this administration has good intentions, so when it does these things, it's a mistake or unfortunate lapse in judgment. Whereas the Bush-Cheney-Rumsfeld-Halliburton cabal was evil, and they did these things because they wanted to make people suffer and die.

Meet the new boss, same as the old boss.

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“They’re not there anymore”

Posted by Richard on January 13, 2010

Shortly after midnight last night, I posted a clip of Republican Scott Brown from last night's Massachusetts Senate race debate. I'm all about fairness, balance, and equal time, so here's another clip from the debate featuring Democrat Martha Coakley:

[YouTube link]

At Gateway Pundit, Jim Hoft put her remarks into perspective and provided a transcript (emphasis in original: 

There are no terrorists in Afghanistan?

On Wednesday December 30 Jordanian doctor and Al-Qaeda blogger Humam Khalil Abu-Mulal al-Balawi killed 7 CIA officers in a suicide bomb attack at an outpost in southeastern Afghanistan. Before he murdered the Americans in Afghanistan he recorded a tape with the local Taliban leader. The Taliban released the tape after his death.

On Monday Senate Candidate Martha Coakley told Massachusetts voters that it was time to pull out of Afghanistan. Coakley said she was not sure there was a way to succeed.

“I think we have done what we are going to be able to do in Afghanistan. I think that we should plan an exit strategy. Yes. I’m not sure there is a way to succeed. If the goal was and the mission in Afghanistan was to go in because we believed that the Taliban was giving harbor to terrorists. We supported that. I supported that. They’re gone. They’re not there anymore.”

She’s not just wrong- She’s dangerous.

But good for a laugh.

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Posted by Richard on December 6, 2009

Was Obama channeling Bush at West Point? Jon Stewart compares surges then and now, and presidents then and now. Enjoy:

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Such men

Posted by Richard on October 5, 2009

This past weekend, eight American soldiers were killed and 24 wounded at Camp Keating, a remote outpost in Afghanistan. The Taliban forces used a mosque and a village as cover, and set a wildfire to force U.S. forces to retreat from their perimeter. 

Karen Russo of ABC News, on a MEDEVAC helicopter flying into the camp, was the only journalist on the scene. She reported (emphasis added):

Flying into the besieged Afghan base during a nighttime firefight this weekend was a harrowing mix of overwhelming noise, stomach dropping maneuvers and shadows hurrying through the gloom.

When the chopper lifted off moments later with three wounded soldiers, it left behind others who were wounded but refused to be MEDEVACED out of the combat zone so they could return to fight with their buddies.

That moved me. And it reminded me of a Ronald Reagan quote. This is from 1974, when he was governor of California: 

Where did we find such men? They are typical of this land as the Founding Fathers were typical. We found them in our streets, in the offices, the shops and the working places of our country and on the farms.

Indeed we did. And, I sincerely hope, we always will. RTWT.

I only wish we had a commander in chief with the same courage, fortitude, and commitment to victory as those brave soldiers at Camp Keating.

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Another Guantanamo alumnus has moved up in the world

Posted by Richard on July 11, 2009

Here's a "dog bites man" story I almost missed. U.S. and Allied forces are facing a tough fight in the Helmand province of Afghanistan, and a former Gitmo inmate is commanding the Taliban forces against them:

Mullah Zakir, also known as Abdullah Ghulam Rasoul, surrendered in Mazar-e-Sharif in Northern Afghanistan in 2001, and was transferred to Gitmo in 2006. He was released in late 2007 to Afghan custody.

Now as the United States is pushing ahead with the massive Operation Khanjar in the southern province of Afghanistan, Zakir is coordinating the Taliban fighters. Some 4,000 U.S. Marines and hundreds of Afghan forces have faced some resistance as they sweep across the province, reclaiming control of districts where Zakir and his comrades were running a shadow government.

Zakir was released from Afghan custody around 2008, according to the New York Post. He re-established connections with high-level Taliban leaders in Afghanistan and Pakistan after his second release. 

Taliban chief Mullah Omar appointed Zakir in mid-2008 as senior military commander, according to the newspaper.

Zakir quickly became a charismatic leader, helping establish an "accountability commission" to track spending and monitor activities of Taliban leaders in the districts where they held power and were running a shadow government, according to the Post.

Explaining why Zakir was released from Gitmo, the defense official said, "We were under incredible pressure from the world to release detainees at Gitmo. You just don't know what people are going to do.

"He was no worse than anyone else being held at Gunatanamo Bay," the official added. "He was not going to be tried for war crimes so we decided to release him. Either he was not thought to have committed a crime or we didn't have enough evidence to prosecute him."

I bet it won't take me long to find an anti-war liberal (or libertarian) arguing that Zakir was just a simple goat-herder, a peaceful peasant, until those brutes at Gitmo radicalized him. … OK, here you go — this one will do: 

Well, if you were thrown into a foreign prison and tortured there for years on end, wouldn't you want revenge?
Real American | 07.07.09 – 8:32 pm | #


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The indomitable human spirit, part 1

Posted by Richard on March 11, 2007

There are people in this world whose courage and character and strength are so remarkable and profound that it moves me to tears. One of them is an Afghan nicknamed Rambo (HT: Michelle Malkin) who guards Camp Phoenix near Kabul:

In fairness, his story is not just about the day he stopped a suicide bomber, when the steel of his resolve to protect American troops became so apparent to all who did not know him. To those who do, who gave him the "Rambo" nickname, the name tag, and the stick, his devotion was already evident.

At every corner of Camp Phoenix, Rambo stops to salute American officers. Soldiers heading out on patrol call out his name as if he were a fraternity brother. He is unquestionably one of them, because he is so willing to make the same sacrifice that they, too, have been called upon to make.

Yet he is also unquestionably Afghan, and never more so than when he smothered his countryman and would-be martyr at the front gate. To Rambo, whose name has been withheld for his protection, what happened that day was a matter of pride – a personal pride that burns deeper than love of country, or family, or faith.

"I made a promise to every American soldier," he says in grave tones. "Even if there is only one American soldier, I will be here to protect him."

Amid Camp Phoenix's soil-filled blast walls and bristling guard towers, designed to keep soldiers separate from the unsettled Afghanistan beyond, Rambo is a living lesson in the character of his country, where friends pledge their lives to defend you and enemies never rest until you have been destroyed.

Read. The. Whole. Thing. And join me in celebrating that such men exist.

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The indomitable human spirit, part 3

Posted by Richard on March 11, 2007

There are people in this world whose courage and character and strength are so remarkable and profound that it moves me to tears. Some of them are young Afghan girls who are glad to be free of the Taliban and just want to make music:

Nargiz started the Burka Band when she met a German music producer in Kabul in late 2002. The producer was teaching Afghans to play modern music, and Nargiz learned to play the drums. One day she wondered why all the burkas in Kabul were blue, and together with two friends she wrote the song "Burka Blue" which is about burkas and the way you feel when you wear them. The song was recorded in Kabul with help from the German producers. The band would rehearse behind locked doors, so nobody would find out that the women were playing music. The burka also helped hide who the band members really were.


The Burka Band has never performed in Afghanistan and at the moment the band is not active. During the Taliban regime music was totally forbidden, and women were not allowed to work. To sing in public could carry a death sentence. Today the country is still very conservative, and there is no market in Afghanistan for the Burka Band's music. The band members have to wait for a European or American record label to help them if they are to make a whole album one day.

These young girls epitomize the indomitable human spirit and its unquenchable thirst for freedom and self-expression. Here's their video:



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A milestone worth reporting

Posted by Richard on February 26, 2007

I’ve been pretty disgusted in the past with the hyping of various casualty "milestones" in Iraq, such as when the number of U.S. military deaths hit 2,000, 3,000, or most contemptibly of all, when the toll in Iraq surpassed the 2,973 killed on 9/11. But on Sunday, Gateway Pundit posted some stunning information about an upcoming milestone that I’d like to see widely reported (emphasis in original):

US losses in Iraq and Afghanistan today (3525) are approaching the half way mark (3750) of the military losses during the Clinton years.

During the Clinton years, the US military lost an average of 939 soldiers each year and a total of 7500 military personnel. During the War in Iraq the US has lost an average of 800 soldiers each year- down each of the last two years and a total of 3525 military personnel in the fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan.

This grim milestone is nearly half of the total military losses as during the Clinton years.

I won’t be holding my breath waiting for that comparison to be made on the evening news.

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A gift from a grateful Afghani

Posted by Richard on July 18, 2006

Lt. Col. Grayson Gile completed a tour in Afghanistan recently. Now that he’s back in Illinois, however, he still has one more mission to complete — delivering a special gift from a grateful elderly Afghani to President Bush. Thanks to The Anchoress for pointing out this wonderful, heartwarming, feel-good story in The Southern Illinoisan — you just know it’ll never be covered in the MSM:

One of those friendships involved a Kabul rug merchant who pulled Gile aside before he left the country. The merchant told Gile the story of an elderly man, so overwhelmed with gratitude to the United States for its intervention in the conflict that he made a gift for President Bush – a gift that was a year in the making and made, given the conditions of the country, under penalty of death.

Gile was astonished when he saw the hand-knotted rug, a portrait of Bush, filled with Christian and Catholic symbolism. Filling the center of the rug is an incredible likeness of Bush, dressed in religious vestments, standing at a podium decorated with the official seal of the country and flanked by two waving American flags.

Directly above Bush is Jesus with a sacred heart and stigmata carefully knotted into the rug’s pattern. The rug also shows cherubs and, apparently in an homage to both Bush and a fallen Northern Alliance leader, two lions.

"(Ahmed Shah) Masood was often called ‘the Lion of Panjshir.’ As one of the country’s military leaders, he put some very, very heavy licks to the Soviets and then turned around and delivered the same to the Taliban," Gile said. "He was assassinated two days before 9/11."

One corner of the rug reads, "President George W. Bush," while the opposing corner has the words, "Number one champion."

Gile said he was impressed by the man’s efforts.

"For this man to sequester himself away for a year to hand knot this rug speaks highly of his gratitude," he said. "And for an extraordinarily devout Muslim to have taken very strong Christian and Catholic symbology and incorporate them into the rug is amazing. He may come from a different religious culture, but he was respectful enough to do that, and that is very interesting and humbling."

Here’s Lt. Col. Gile showing off the Afghani rug (photo by Steve Jahnke / The Southern):

Afghani rug honoring Bush

As The Anchoress said:

Do yourself a favor and read the whole thing.

Someday, when the current fever of hate and the trend to mendacity has faded…in a saner world…right-thinking people will look back and realize that this president – THIS president – has not been an evil, moronic, malevolent and war-mongering dictator but one of the greatest humanitarian presidents in the history of our nation. It may not happen in Bush’s lifetime, but Dr. Martin Luther King said, "a lie can’t last."

This is one of those stories that so marvellously illustrates the decency, goodness, and humanity of which people are capable — and the empathy that one human being of good will can feel toward another, no matter how different they are — it just stirs me to the quick.

I remember hearing about Ahmed Masood from the late David Segal of Denver, a former IDF officer whose knowledge of military history, the Middle East, and Afghanistan never ceased to amaze me, and whom I thought about — and mourned — just the other day when the current fighting between Israel and Hezbollah began.

Segal, too, admired Masood and thought that his assassination was a real shame for the future of Afghanistan — and he believed it was no coincidence that Masood was eliminated just before al Qaeda struck us.

Given some of the negative news from Afghanistan lately, it cheers me to hear that there are Afghanis who still admire and honor Masood. And Bush.

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Agenda journalism

Posted by Richard on May 19, 2006

For those of you who still doubt that the mainstream media’s war reporting consists largely of agenda-driven, biased, anti-American propaganda, today’s front page of The Washington Post presented what I’d like the bailiff to tag as Exhibit #17,693. The story in question (log in with BugMeNot), by Pamela Constable of the "Washington Post Foreign Service," has the following headline and subhead:

Afghanistan Rocked As 105 Die in Violence

Toll Is Among Worst Since 2001 Invasion

If you just glanced at the paper (or one of the hundreds of other papers and web pages that picked up the WaPo story), you no doubt concluded that we’re in deep trouble in Afghanistan now, too — just like Iraq. If you began reading the story, the first paragraph confirmed the grim news conveyed by the headlines:

ASADABAD, Afghanistan, May 18 — Afghanistan has been rocked over the past two days by some of the deadliest violence since the Taliban was driven from power in late 2001. As many as 105 people were reported killed in four provinces as insurgents torched a district government compound, set off suicide bombs and clashed fiercely with Afghan and foreign troops.

If you stopped there (as many casual newspaper readers do), you probably thought that it’s all going to hell, that this incompetent administration has screwed up another country, and that maybe we should just withdraw from Afghanistan, too.

If you kept reading, however, you discovered that the overwhelming majority of the deaths were among the enemy, and that some of them were killed by U.S. air strikes:

Between 80 and 90 Taliban fighters were killed in Kandahar and Helmand provinces, according to Afghan, U.S. and NATO officials. Two sites in Kandahar were struck by U.S. warplanes, including a long-range B-1 bomber, which U.S. military officials said destroyed a compound that Taliban guerrillas were using to stage an attack.

So, "as many as" 90 of 105 were enemy combatants. That’s almost a 9-1 ratio, which means the phrase "Toll Is Among Worst" is accurate only from the perspective of the Taliban.

From the perspective of those of us who are on the side of the United States and Western Civilization, and who cheer the death, destruction, and defeat of the Islamofascists, these two days of fighting represent not a terrible toll, but a tremendous success. If we keep killing 9 of them for every Afghan and allied soldier we lose, things will go very well indeed!

Pamela Constable, Leonard Downie, Jr., Ben Bradlee, et al., are apparently cheering for the other side.

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Blair on the battle of ideas

Posted by Richard on March 24, 2006

Tony Blair and his Labor government have many faults, but I’ll give the man his due — he understands the nature of the current global conflict and articulates it better than anyone. Mary at Deane’s World and Harry at Harry’s Place (whose observations and comments you should go read) quote approvingly from Blair’s March 21 foreign policy speech, and with good reason. It was the first of three planned foreign policy speeches, and in it, Blair discussed global terrorism and the importance of democracy in Iraq and Afghanistan. He was on fire:

This terrorism will not be defeated until its ideas, the poison that warps the minds of its adherents, are confronted, head-on, in their essence, at their core. By this I don’t mean telling them terrorism is wrong. I mean telling them their attitude to America is absurd; their concept of governance pre-feudal; their positions on women and other faiths, reactionary and regressive; and then since only by Muslims can this be done: standing up for and supporting those within Islam who will tell them all of this but more, namely that the extremist view of Islam is not just theologically backward but completely contrary to the spirit and teaching of the Koran.

I don’t know if Blair’s right about the Koran, but he sure nailed it on the backwardness and the need to confront those backward ideas directly. Blair went on to reject the notion that we should ask ourselves why they hate us and the idea that this conflict is one we can choose to avoid:

This is not a clash between civilisations. It is a clash about civilisation. It is the age-old battle between progress and reaction, between those who embrace and see opportunity in the modern world and those who reject its existence; between optimism and hope on the one hand; and pessimism and fear on the other. And in the era of globalisation where nations depend on each other and where our security is held in common or not at all, the outcome of this clash between extremism and progress is utterly determinative of our future here in Britain. We can no more opt out of this struggle than we can opt out of the climate changing around us. Inaction, pushing the responsibility on to America, deluding ourselves that this terrorism is an isolated series of individual incidents rather than a global movement and would go away if only we were more sensitive to its pretensions; this too is a policy. It is just that it is a policy that is profoundly, fundamentally wrong.

Blair touched on an important point regarding the elections in Iraq and Afghanistan:

The fact is: given the chance, the people wanted democracy. OK so they voted on religious or regional lines. That’s not surprising, given the history. But there’s not much doubt what all the main parties in both countries would prefer and it is neither theocratic nor secular dictatorship. The people – despite violence, intimidation, inexperience and often logistical nightmares – voted. Not a few. But in numbers large enough to shame many western democracies. They want Government decided by the people.

Blair touched on something very important above, but didn’t fully pursue the thought. It’s a crucial idea that the Islamofascists seem to understand clearly, but the critics and pessimists just don’t get: once the vast majority of the people buy into the concept of democratic government — even a Sharia-based or Shia-dominated democratic government — the reactionary theology of the Islamofascists has already lost. Their version of Islam can’t tolerate people choosing, period — even if you make the "right" choice, the very idea that it’s up to you to decide between competing ideas undermines their entire belief system and will eventually destroy it.

Eventually. But we may have to be patient, and we’re not very good at that. Granted, it’s not easy to be patient with a new, democratic government that threatens to execute someone for changing his religion.

Blair expressed his frustration with the critics, nay-sayers, and defeatists, and called on us to have patience and courage:

That to me is the painful irony of what is happening. They have so much clearer a sense of what is at stake. They play our own media with a shrewdness that would be the envy of many a political party. Every act of carnage adds to the death toll. But somehow it serves to indicate our responsibility for disorder, rather than the act of wickedness that causes it. For us, so much of our opinion believes that what was done in Iraq in 2003 was so wrong, that it is reluctant to accept what is plainly right now.

What happens in Iraq or Afghanistan today is not just crucial for the people in those countries or even in those regions; but for our security here and round the world. It is a cause that has none of the debatable nature of the decisions to go for regime change; it is an entirely noble one – to help people in need of our help in pursuit of liberty; and a self-interested one, since in their salvation lies our own security.

Across the Arab and Muslim world such a struggle for democracy and liberty continues. One reason I am so passionate about Turkey’s membership of the EU is precisely because it enhances the possibility of a good outcome to such a struggle. It should be our task to empower and support those in favour of uniting Islam and democracy, everywhere.

To do this, we must fight the ideas of the extremists, not just their actions; and stand up for and not walk away from those engaged in a life or death battle for freedom. The fact of their courage in doing so should give us courage; their determination should lend us strength; their embrace of democratic values, which do not belong to any race, religion or nation, but are universal, should reinforce our own confidence in those values.

Read, as they say, the whole thing.

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