“Hope, Obama Style?”

Last Monday, FOX News contributor Fr. Jonathan Morris editorialized on Barack Obama’s May 18 appearance at Tom McCall Waterfront Park in Portland.

In “Hope, Obama Style?” Fr. Morris explains just what is wrong with seeking political “saviors,” of any party, in any country: “real progress always entails hard work, personal responsibility, and sacrifice.”

As in Biblical times, yesterday just off the shore of the Willamette River, boats dropped anchors to listen to a stirring message of hope from an unlikely source.

Have you seen the pictures? 65,000 people “” mostly white “” spent their Sunday afternoon in a park in Oregon, on land and water, to be part of the Obama Revolution”¦.

Ever since seeing the images of the doting crowds in Oregon, I’ve been thinking about hope “” what generates it and what makes it true”¦.

“¦[W]hat happens when old actions don’t produce the good results they used to?

What do we do when we can’t keep local gas prices from looking like Europe’s; when there is no easy solution to a war we dislike; when after all these months “” years “” nobody wants to buy our beautiful house; when our kids ignore the faith we hold dear, when the political party of our youth loses its identity?

It is in moments of despair, like these, when we are tempted by soft voices and quick fixes.

We would like to believe in a political savior who can liberate us, painlessly.

Here’s news, that’s not going to happen. In fact, pain-free progress didn’t even happen when the prophet preaching from the shore was divine, and when the message was spiritual redemption: “Pick up your cross and follow me.” Remember?

In every face of this imperfect world “” and especially in politics “” real progress always entails hard work, personal responsibility, and sacrifice.

When a candidate tells us HE will change things and that WE should hope in him, then we can know for sure his promises of hope are empty. If he tells us HE will take away from the rich and give to the poor “” instead of creating incentives for the poor to better themselves and motivations for the fortunate to be better neighbors “” then his promises for justice are empty.

Read Fr. Morris’s conclusion to “Hope, Obama Style?” here.

Kathryn Hickok is Publications Director, Development Coordinator, and Director of the Children’s Scholarship Fund-Portland at Cascade Policy Institute, Oregon’s premier free market think tank.

  • Jerry

    This Obama guy is empty. He is shallow. He can not speak without a teleprompter. If people think he is going to do anything to help them they are sadly mistaken.

    We don’t want a president who feels our pain or one who helps us. We want a president who sticks to the constitution, reduces the size and spending of the government, and ensures our safety.
    Sadly, not one of the candidates seems even remotely capable of doing any of these things.

    It is a sad, sad time for American politics.

  • Rupert in Springfield

    Look, when you watch Obama speak four things are abundantly clear:

    1) He is a fairly energetic speaker, he makes you feel good.

    2) Two is he is reasonably intelligent, however not more so than anybody else really.

    3) Three he is about as fast on his feet as Bush 2. Sorry, this guy has made just a few too many gaffs. The 57 states thing was really the last straw. I’m not sure why everyone leapt on the 57 Islamic states thing, the first thing that went through my mind was “doesn’t Heinz make 57 varieties of something or other?”

    4) You begin to wonder why everyone, including yourself, has to constantly point out item 2 above. Why is that? What is it about this man that makes everyone, no matter what comment they are making about him, have to constantly include some sort of acknowledgment of the intelligence of what is quite clearly a rather average and unremarkable mind?

  • Anonymous

    All I hear Obama say is that he wants change, Change what?, he wants hope, Hope for what?

    He soundes like a typical politician. I don’t think he knows what to change and he certainly isn’t giving me any hope. What shallow and empty statements.

    How can he change things when he has no idea what to change. How can he give me hope when he doesn’t even know what I hope for?

    this man terrifies me.

  • Crawdude

    He has no ideas, just rhetoric from what I’ve heard so far. Anyone can say we need change, come out with your plans for change so we can see the real substance of your message.

    • dean

      Rupert…the evidence for Obama being at least above average intelligence is that he made it into and through 2 highly rated universities, was appointed editor of the Harvard Law Review, taught constitutional law at University of Chicago (they don’t hire mediocre minds there,) wrote 2 thoughtful, well written books (by himself, no ghost writer or teleprompter) and was politically shrewed enough to go from state Senator to US senator to being on the verge of the Democratic nominee for president in only a decade in spite of having a strange, Muslim sounding name that reminds us of the master terrorist we are still presumably hunting for in Pakistan, and the dictator who used to run Iraq. He is definitely unconventional, but he is not “average intelligence”.

      Jerry…what YOU want is the sort of president you describe, and Obama is certainly not it. But you have to accept you have a minority opinion. Most Americans want an activist President and an activist government, tehy just don’t want to have to pay for it. The evidence for that is the 12 years of Republican Congressional rule from 94-06, half of which with a Republican president. They ran on shrinking government and ended up making it even MORE large and active in our affairs while running up the debt to astronomical levels. There is only a very small constituency for a truly small, non-interventionist government, and it is called the Libertarian Party.

      Obama has concrete proposals that are not hard to hunt down. Increase health insurance access, back out of Iraq, negotiate directly with our “enemies,” ramp up the effort in Afganistan, increase veteran’s benefits, finance alternative energy development, cap and trade CO2, repeal the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy, raise the cap on SSI taxes, appoint Supreme Court justices more like Souter and Ginsberg than like Scalia and Thomas, and so forth. His platform is not a mystery. His capability to get his platform enacted is an open question that won’t be answered unless and until he wins.

      As for “hope.” Yes…its a nebulous theme. But it keeps people going when times get dark, and times are geting dark of late. Remember Reagan’s sunny and equally nebulous “morning in America’ campaign? It worked because people were scared and worried after the Carter years and he gave them hope for a resurgence. Sometimes that is important, because people can’t accomplish much of anything if they are down doobie doobie down. Comma comma.

      If you listen to or read the text of Obama’s speeches, he most definitely is NOT promising to do the work FOR us. He is promising to do the work WITH us. Like he did in his comunity organizing career.

      • Rupert in Springfield

        >Obama being at least above average intelligence is that he made it into and through 2 highly rated universities, was appointed editor of the Harvard Law Review, taught constitutional law at University of Chicago (they don’t hire mediocre minds there,) wrote 2 thoughtful, well written books

        Huh, weird, kind of sounds like one of the Kennedys. I think John John did most of that stuff, and in the end, he proved to be of average intelligence at best.

        Oh well, doesn’t matter much, you guys would be saying Obama was an idiot the second after the 57 states remark if he was a republican, that much is undeniable and you know it.

        The fact is, Obama, at least up until this point isn’t exactly fast on his feet rhetorically. He’s simply just flat out flubbed way too many issues. But that’s just the opinion of of a “typical white person”.

        >and was politically shrewed enough to go from state Senator to US senator

        Shrewed? Oh my God, who shrewed him? Michelle? Damn, so if this guy wins we have another Hillary in waiting? Yuck.

        >to being on the verge of the Democratic nominee for president

        Nah, the Democrats have always tended to go with newcomers, relatively speaking, for candidates. Within that party, the fast rising star thing is hardly singular. In fact, I can think of few Democratic presidential candidates who didn’t fit this profile. Bill Clinton being the primary example. Republicans, on the other hand, tend to go with more long standing members.

        >He is definitely unconventional, but he is not “average intelligence”.

        Unfortunately he is quite conventional. He is a liberal democrat in every sense of the term and one would be hard pressed to find any area where he is at odds with the left of center area of the Democratic party. If you can name me one part of his platform, that is at odds with his party, rather than going with its conventional form, I would be very interested to hear it.

        He is also quite conventional in his handling of political hot potato-es. What happened when the Wright issue finally was brought up by MSM? Did he do something unconventional, and thus notable, like Clinton did with his “sister Souljah moment”? Of course not. When confronted with the problem, Obama took the conventional root, blame whitey, as he did with his grandmother. He took the “we are all to blame” root. He then got raked over the coals for it, more evidence of not exactly the sharpest box cutter on the plane. True, he finally did condemn Wright, but wow did he handle that issue badly.

        He is incredibly conventional in his rise within the Democratic party. Had he risen through private industry, rather than government office, that would have been unconventional, but, nope, pretty straight forward there.

        He’s very well off financially, so, not a lot of defying of traditional convention there, Kerry was well off, so was Kennedy, as was Carter. Clinton wasn’t, but he was unconventional unlike Obama.

        The problem is, you guys in the Democratic party believe your own press too much. Not a lot of introspection there. Every single Democratic candidate is constantly portrayed as some sort of genius, every Republican a dolt.

      • John in Oregon

        Dean I have a question which I can’t answer from my prospective. I think you can from your prospective.

        To lay some groundwork, if we define a “win” in Iraq as;

        1) The wide scale rejection by Suni, Sheia, and Kurdish Iraqis of the blood thirsty atrocities, brutality and violence against fellow Iraqis by both al-Qaeda *AND* Madi militias. And

        2) The Iraqi Central Government and the Iraq Army with support of the “Iraqi Suni, Sheia, and Kurdish street” stepping up to the task of dealing with al-Qaeda and the Madi militias.

        So if in October we are “winning” in Iraq, would you think that Obamas’ position of unconditional withdrawal from Iraq would be a political asset, neutral, or a political liability in a November election?

        This is a serious question and I ask partly after Clinton’s typical political answers which let her stake out territory on both sides of the question.

        • dean

          John…I think that is the question the whole election hinges on, don”t you? My view is that a substantial majority of Americans have given up on the Iraq war in the sense that they (we?) don’t see how staying in is worth the price in continued lives lost and treasure spent. That Iraq is now destimed to fight a long term civil war that may flare up and down (like Lebanon) but is not going to be “settled” in our lifetimes. But there is a clear curve where Democrats have given up to a great er degree than Independents, and there is still a small majority of Republicans who appear to be in it to the bitter end, come what may. (Too much has been gambled away already to walk away from the table with the few chips left).

          If the recent progress towards some the sort of peace you describe continues through to the election then McCain has something to run on and Obama is in a pickle, because if the battle is over Independents (as I think it will be) they might gravitate back to McCain on the assumption that the war is going to end anyway, and would be more likely to end on more favorable terms than under Obama, especially if he sticks with withdrawal no matter what.

          As Ollie used to say to Stanley, “Its a fine mess you’ve gotten us into.”

          • dean

            John…to add a point. The outcome depends on events on the ground, not on simply redefining teh end game. In other words, come late October, if Iraqis are singing Kumbaya then McCain wins. If they are still shooting and bombing at a moderate to high level then he loses. The rest (of the issues) will take a 2nd seat.

          • John in Oregon

            Thanks Dean. As I read through your comments I got the feeling you see the possibility that a position of unconditional withdrawal could be a detrimental political position.

            I agree that Iraq is an issue. I wouldn’t say it’s the only issue with the “war” off the news pages and the media off on the latest tangent, other issues rise to the top as well.

            Here is why I asked. I wasn’t surprised to see Anbar province and then all of Iraq turn against al-Qaeda during 2007, the signs were there as far back as August 06. The bottom line is when al-Qaeda blood lust was turned against Anbar and Iraq, the days of al-Qaeda were numbered.

            During 07 the legacy media kept up the drumbeat of failure until there was nothing to report. The word win shall not pass the legacy media lips. A lot of us who bypassed the media filter saw the Iraqis turn on al-Qaeda, a very good step, but only a step.

            Some “hawks” started using the word WIN in late 07. I didn’t yet because the other terrorist hiding in the cave, Moqtada al-Sadr’s and his Mahdi militias. In the past Maliki and the Iraqi national government had several chances to take on Sadr and backed away each time.

            Then without much consultation with the Collation army Maliki and the Iraqi army moved into Basra. Iraqi forces are now leading operations in, Mosul and Sadr City. In each case, the Iraqis have made progress with relatively little American support. This is unprecedented. Three major Iraqi-led operations in three different parts of the country.

            By confronting Sadr, Maliki and the Iraqi Army took a risk. One that paid off. Leading Sunni factions have returned to the fold backing Maliki. Joining the Sunni are the Kurds, who have their own problems with Sadr, and finally the Shiites throughout Iraq are behind Maliki. The end for Sadr came when the Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, who has been reluctant to make political interventions in recent years, pointedly condemned Sadr for refusing to disarm.

            This is the “dream” that not even the “Neo-Cons” dared hope. The Iraqi people rejecting both Mahdi and al-Qaeda extremists and choosing the rule of law.

            I said the above as background for the original question.

            On “the war” that is the message McCain has to articulate and that when holding a Jack-high straight flush one does not fold.

            The big questions is can and will McCain articulate that message.

          • dean

            John…under McCain’s present scenario, if we “win” we can withdraw. Under Obama’s scenario if we withdraw, we may not “win,” but the same conditions (Iraqi reconciliation, either temporary or long term) could result. Logically McCain’s position is more likely to achieve the sort of peace you describe, but can he muster 50% plus one to agree with him? Maybe.

            My view over the past few years has been that the US lacks the military, diplomatic, and political staying power to establish or enforce peace in Iraq. That peace will come only when the Iraqis decide to get along, or when one side is strong enough to impose its will on everyone else, or if they choose to go their separate ways (Biden’s 3 state solution).

            Maybe the stars have finally lined up. Maybe a combination of war weariness, General Petraeus’ strategy, the temporary surge of troops, the buying off of the Sunnis, the rejection and supression of Sadir, and the growing capability of the Iraqi army have all merged and some sort of reconciliation is ahead. Personally I hope so, even if it costs Obama the election.

            If McCain tries to use your Jack high flush analogy it won’t sell. Too many have already died and been maimed, too much money spent, too many false hopes already dashed. The bottom line will be the bottom line. If “peace breaks out” before the election, then voters will cut him slack. If peace is “just around yet one more corner” then probably not.

            Lastly…I don’t agree with your characterization of the media. The NY Times, NPR, & Washington Post (my main sources) have all reported the ups and downs. They rightly have questioned the term “win,” particularly since the goal posts have been shifting south since a few months post invasion. Their skepticism, which the news media should always have towards what the government tells them, has if anything followed, rather than led public opinion.

          • John in Oregon

            Dean, Perhaps a wider information resource base might be in order. Consider the following from AP and the response from two primary sources.

            Associated Press Writers May 22, 2008

            BAGHDAD – Iraq’s most influential Shiite cleric has been quietly issuing religious edicts declaring that armed resistance against U.S.-led foreign troops is permissible — a potentially significant shift by a key supporter of the Washington-backed government in Baghdad.

            Primary source

            Uzmatik / Najaf [translated from the Arabic]

            This is from a source close to the Office of the religious authority, Mr. Ali al-Sistani in Najaf today, Friday, blasted some news sites and denied that op-Sistani “is preparing to issue a fatwa calling for armed resistance against occupation”.

            The source, who asked to remain anonymous, in an interview with “Newsmatik”, “There is no truth to this irresponsible rumors in whole or even in part.”

            Source added that from the beginning of religious authority from the outset is that “Iraq is not ready for jihad or a military confrontation for the time being, after the devastation left by the great wars of the former regime.”

            Primary source

            Aswat Al-Iraq:

            A close source to grand ayatollah Ali Sistani’s office on Friday denied news agencies’ reports the Shiite cleric issued a fatwa permiting taking up weapons to drive the foreign occupation forces out of Iraq.

            “The reports of issuing fatwa by the Shiite cleric Sistani permiting taking up arms to drive foreign troops out of Iraq were baseless”.

            Internationa news agencies reported Sistani issued a fatwa, an edict, legalizing Iraqis to hold up arms to drive US troops out of Iraq.

            The source, a cleric from Karbala associated with Sistani office,pointed out “Sistani’s stance is clear since toppling the former regime(of Saddam Hussein) by calling for sticking to civil resistence to drive foreign troops out of Iraq”.
            Ali Sistani, living in Najaf, is the top cleric and hold a strong sway over Shiites in Iraq and a number muslim countries.

            Secondary Iraqi source

            Today, Iraqi Nibras Kazimi countered the AP report. He included this observation:

            If we’ve learned anything from the recent events in Basra, Sadr City and Mosul—by the way, these are Iraq’s three largest population reservoirs—it should be that the reporters and commentators who are tasked to describe Iraq to American and western audiences are at worst dishonest and duplicious, at best some string puller’s chorus of useful idiots.

            It is in this vein that this AP story is released; to distract from other things that could be reported in Iraq, such as how things are dramatically improving and how this war has been decisively won.

          • dean

            John…since the war broke out in 2003, over 130 journalists, those trying to bring us the story, have been killed. 105 were Iraqis, 13 Europeans, and 2 Americans. 83 were murdered, and over 40 died while covering combat operations. Maybe they were all dishonest, duplicitous, whatever. Now they are all dead, while we get to call them names.

            You really lost me on your last point. “The war has been decisively won.” This event has definitely been undereported, including by General Petraeus himself. But if it is true, then let’s bring the troops home and demobe the Guard.

          • John in Oregon

            As I said I am not convinced that McCain articulate what is happening in Iraq. In fact coming from the superior force school I can’t say I know he understands. For the difference between superior force tactics and Fingerspitzengefuhl take a look at the 2 part treatise on 40 second Boyd at: https://www.ejectejecteject.com/archives/000172.html. I know you will find it interesting..

            I can see why you would be confused by Nibras Kazimi comments. He was polite but as I read what he said, he flat out accused AP of intentionally distracting from what he considers a win.

            As for buying off of the Sunnis, I suspect that for the Sunis of Anbar wives and daughters being raped and fathers and sons beheaded was a far stronger motivation.

            Some news clips from a year ago.

            *Weekly Standard*
            Tuesday, April 10, 2007
            Kimberly Kagan
            For Americans, the war’s most important events from August to December 2006 occurred in Baghdad. For al Qaeda and other Sunni Islamic extremist enemies in Iraq, equally important events in that same period occurred in Ramadi, the capital city of Anbar Province. Al Qaeda terrorism provoked many of Anbar’s sheiks actively to cooperate with U.S. Forces, oppose all terrorists in the province, support the Iraqi Police and Army, form an effective city government and strengthen the provincial council. The sheiks called their movement “The Awakening.” The hostility of the local population changed Ramadi from an al Qaeda stronghold into an area effectively contested by U.S. and Iraqi forces.

            The presence of U.S. forces conducting counterinsurgency missions to secure the population made the local rejection of al Qaeda possible and effective. The leadership and example of the sheiks of Ramadi inspired other sheiks in neighboring cities to cooperate with U.S. and Iraqi forces. As a result of their efforts, especially in late 2006 and early 2007, al Qaeda no longer controlled Ramadi or Fallujah. By February 2007, U.S. and Iraqi forces were pushing the enemy from the other cities in the province.

            *International Harold Tribune April 13, 2007*
            In August, according to American commanders, *al-Qaida operatives beheaded another sheik* who refused support and safe passage through his territory in northwest Ramadi. Tribal leaders became infuriated when the militants refused to hand over the sheik’s corpse for four days. According to Islamic custom, a body must be buried within 24 hours.

            Turning toward an alliance with the Americans, the sheiks then banded together under an umbrella movement called “The Awakening,” and called on their supporters to join the police.

            *Alternet, September 06*
            Sunni tribal leaders who have vowed to drive al Qaeda out of Iraq’s most restive province met the Shi’ite premier on Wednesday, marking what Washington hopes will be a breakthrough alliance against militants.

            Sattar al-Buzayi, a Sunni sheikh from Anbar province who has emerged in recent weeks as a leader of a tribal alliance against Osama bin Laden’s followers, said he and about 15 other sheikhs had offered their cooperation to Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki.

            *Times Co. UK*
            November 20 2006
            A power struggle is taking place in the Sunni triangle, with tribal leaders and coalition forces aligning against a common enemy…

            While the world’s attention has been focused on Baghdad’s slide into sectarian warfare, something remarkable has been happening in Ramadi, a city of 400,000 inhabitants that al-Qaeda and its Iraqi allies have controlled since mid-2004 and would like to make the capital of their cherished Islamic caliphate.

            A power struggle has erupted: *al-Qaeda’s reign of terror* is being challenged. Sheikh Sittar and many of his fellow tribal leaders have cast their lot with the once-reviled US military. They are persuading hundreds of their followers to sign up for the previously defunct Iraqi police. American troops are moving into a city that was, until recently, a virtual no-go area. A battle is raging for the allegiance of Ramadi’s battered and terrified citizens and the outcome could have far-reaching consequences.

            *Times of India*
            26 Nov 2006
            *Al-Qaida burned homes and killed members of the tribe using small arms fire and mortars,* the military said in a statement. It gave no casualty figures.

            Sattar al-Buzayi, head of the Anbar Salvation Council, an umbrella group of tribes in Anbar, a vast Sunni province in the west of Iraq, said tribal fighters had raided an Al-Qaida stronghold and killed 55 militants and arrested 25. He said nine tribal fighters were killed in the clash.

          • dean

            John…all the stories you cite on Anbar were also reported along the same lines in the “legacy” media. John Burns of the NY Times was among the first to file reports that used the term “Anbar Awakening.” I just don’t see that the media has buried, ignored, or downplayed this event. I’m certainly well aware of it and I get my news from legacy sources, not the Weekly Standard.

            Whatever the Sunni motivation, I don’t care. I’m glad they turned on al Queda. Its a clear case of where “negotiating with terrorists” (i.e. those who planted i.e.d.s and killed hundreds of Americans) has had some success.

            McCain may not be the best sales person in part because he blew his credibility whle strolling through that market surrounded by US troops, remarking how normal everything was. But in the end….the proof will be in the eating of the pudding. If it keeps quieting down between now and October, he can and should run on that, and Obama should be willing to adjust his strategy. Let’s both hope for the best.

          • John in Oregon

            I have my own problems with McCain as a candidate for reasons other than this, however.

            > *I’m certainly well aware of it and I get my news from legacy sources, not the Weekly Standard.*

            I take your point, the Weekly Standard is a conservative publication, to be disregarded, move along folks, nothing to see here.

            > *I just don’t see that the media has buried, ignored, or downplayed this event. I’m certainly well aware of it and I get my news from legacy sources, not the Weekly Standard.*

            Please note the sample I gave you was from Uzmatik, Aswat Al-Iraq, International Harold Tribune, Alternet, Times Co. UK, and Times of India. Not just the Weekly Standard.

            > *John Burns of the NY Times was among the first to file reports that used the term “Anbar Awakening”.*

            I have a fair bit of respect for John Burns especially when interviewed live without an editor reworking his copy.

            > *[A]ll the stories you cite on Anbar were also reported along the same lines in the “legacy” media. … (T)he NY Times was among the first to file reports that used the term “Anbar Awakening”.*

            For nytimes.com Google reports the following:

            First news page usage of the term “Anbar Awakening” August 2007.

            First usage of any kind of the term “Anbar Awakening” was in The New York Times Blog June 2007.

            NOTE, the samples I gave you are from; November 20 2006, 26 Nov 2006, September 2006, April 10 2007, and April 13 2007. Significantly earlier than June 2007.

            > Regarding the Anbar Awaking you comment > *Its a clear case of where “negotiating with terrorists” … has had some success.*

            So lets see. A group of Iraqis, some who had assisted al Queda, and others who had not, band together to resist al Queda blood lust. In response, al Queda beheaded their leaders, raped their wives and daughters, and castrated and murdered their sons.

            When these men, after opposing al Queda, ask for assistance from the Iraqi central government and the coalition. When they choose of their own volition, is that a negotiation? Did we need to entice them to reject extremism?

            When these same men resist al Queda and Iranian weapons with their lives, are they any longer terrorists?

            Is talking to these men the morale equivalent of meeting without precondition with al Queda or Ahmadinejad?

          • John in Oregon

            Now about the legacy media
            During WW2 there was no Armed Forces Radio to keep our fighting forces informed. Intelligence information was closely held. And yet the Boots on the boats closely followed the progress of the war. How did they do that you might ask.

            Tokyo Rose. With each glorious victory by Imperial forces. With each disastrous defeat of Canadian, Australian, and American forces. As glorious Imperial victories drew closer, ever closer to the Imperial homeland, as Allied defeats grew closer still, our Gis knew the progress of the war.

            How did the legacy media cover the Iraqi Central Government challenge of Muqtada al-Sadr?

            *raqi Army’s Assault on Militias in Basra Stalls:*
            New York Times March 27th, 2008
            An assault by thousands of Iraqi soldiers and police officers to regain control of … Basra stalled Wednesday as Shiite militiamen in the Mahdi Army … refused to withdraw from the neighborhoods that form their base of power there.

            *Shiite Militias Cling to Swaths of Basra and Stage Raids:*
            New York Times March 31, 2008
            Shiite militiamen in Basra openly controlled wide swaths of the city on Saturday and staged increasingly bold raids on Iraqi government forces sent five days ago to wrest control from the gunmen… Iraqi political leaders grew increasingly critical of the stalled assault.

            *Firsthand Look at Basra Shows Value of White Flag:*
            World Politics Review from April 3, 2008
            The result in Basra clearly did not reflect well on the Iraqi Security Forces. But American officials and other prominent advocates of the idea that victory is within reach — or at least possible — in Iraq are saying in the wake of the Basra fighting that the Iraqi Security Forces’ poor performance was more a consequence of the poor planning of ISF commanders and Iraqi governemnt officials — all the way up to Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki — than of ground-level combat unreadiness.

            *U.S. Cites Planning Gaps in Iraqi Assault on Basra*
            New York Times April 3 2008
            “… Mr. Maliki overestimated his military’s abilities and underestimated the scale of the resistance. The Iraqi prime minister also displayed an impulsive leadership style that did not give his forces or that of his most powerful allies, the American and British military, time to prepare.

            “‘He went in with a stick and he poked a hornet’s nest, and the resistance he got was a little bit more than he bargained for,’ said one official in the multinational force in Baghdad who requested anonymity. ‘They went in with 70% of a plan. Sometimes that’s enough. This time it wasn’t.'”

            *More Than 1,000 in Iraq’s Forces Quit Basra Fight:*
            New York Times April 4, 2008 —
            More than 1,000 Iraqi soldiers and policemen either refused to fight or simply abandoned their posts during the inconclusive assault against Shiite militias in Basra last week. The desertions in the heat of a major battle cast fresh doubt on the effectiveness of the American-trained Iraqi security forces. The White House has conditioned further withdrawals of American troops on the readiness of the Iraqi military and police.

            *Al-Sadr Wins Another Round*
            Time May 11, 2008
            Word of the pact emerged Saturday night, when an aide to Mahdi Army leader Muqtada al-Sadr said a deal had been reached to end roughly two months of street fighting in eastern Baghdad.

            In announcing the deal, al-Sadr aide Sheik Salah al-Obeidi said the agreement, “stipulates that the Mahdi Army will stop fighting in Sadr City… In return, the government will stop random raids against al-Sadr followers and open all closed roads that lead to Sadr City.”

            The fact that a leading figure in al-Sadr’s ranks announced the deal … suggests that the cleric is still controlling the agenda … politically despite the most serious challenge his power the Iraqi government could muster. … The Mahdi Army fought Iraqi forces to a standstill … that left al-Maliki’s government effectively the ones under siege. And when U.S. and Iraqi troops tried to press into Sadr City … they barely managed to establish a foothold on the southern edge of the neighborhood…

            And then this article on the airplane pages (A1) as Basra was no longer news worthy.

            *Drive in Basra by Iraqi Army Makes Gains*
            New York Times May 12, 2008
            In a rare success, forces loyal to Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki have largely quieted the city, to the initial surprise and growing delight of many inhabitants who only a month ago shuddered under deadly clashes between Iraqi troops and Shiite militias.

            Among the many uncertainties are whether the government, criticized for incompetence at the start of the operation, can maintain the high level of troops here. But in interviews across Basra, residents overwhelmingly reported a substantial improvement in their everyday lives.

            “The circle of fear is broken,” said Shaker, owner of a floating restaurant on Basra’s famed Corniche promenade, who, although optimistic, was still afraid to give his full name, as were many of those interviewed.

            How did the legacy media narrative work out? Maliki suffered defeat after defeat? Sadr’s truce and the later Iranian cease-fire were from strength? Muqtada al-Sadr rumored to be under house arrest in Iran was victorious?

          • dean

            John…all the posts you cite on Basra were accurate reports of what was happening by reporters on the ground. The Iranians stepped in and brokered a truce. What we seem to have now is a jockying for position among the various Shiite groups. How it all comes out in the end remains to be seen. Maybe al Sader is finished. Maybe not. Its a Byzantine place we can’t hope to puzzle out from here.

            I don’t disregard the Weekly Standard. But lets face it. How many times have they editorialized that we are “winning” in Iraq over the past 5 years? They have limited credibility on this topic is my point.

            Glad you like John Burns. He is a stud. But your “Tokyo Rose” analogy. Are you equating the free, private sector media of the United States to a propaganda voice for a dictatorship? If so, that is a bit extreme no?

      • Martha

        “Jerry…what YOU want is the sort of president you describe, and Obama is certainly not it. But you have to accept you have a minority opinion. Most Americans want an activist President and an activist government, tehy just don’t want to have to pay for it. The evidence for that is the 12 years of Republican Congressional rule from 94-06, half of which with a Republican president. They ran on shrinking government and ended up making it even MORE large and active in our affairs while running up the debt to astronomical levels. There is only a very small constituency for a truly small, non-interventionist government, and it is called the Libertarian Party.”

        I can sympathize with the libertarian point of view. The highest law of our land was designed to protect minorities (whoever they may be in whatever time period) from the activism of the majority of temporarily like minded mobs who may take power in washington. It is incredibly aggravating to watch both parties legislate stealing more and more of what i have worked for to spend on things I would NEVER choose to give my money to. Money is power. And the activist majority that has been working in a very socialist/fascist kind of way for the last hundred years or so has been slowly picking away at peoples power over their own lives and redistributing it to an elite few. Call me crazy but I just don’t see how this can work out favorably for me in the long run.

        I am left with the small comfort of the certainty that collectivism is the best means to its own end. It always ends miserably because it is inherently flawed unmanageable method of governance.

        Geesh, I can’t believe I’m the only one who feels violated when my image and personal information and health records goes into a national database so I can be kept track of more easily if I do anything ‘suspicious’. < --not a wacko conspiracy theory. A bill was just passed recently that nationalizes all infant DNA testing and centralizes all that information and the left over samples so that government agencies, including homeland security, can track any disorders they are interested in throughout the child's life. This tracking extends to the family members of these children. It is not required to notify the parents when the child's samples will be used in experiments. https://www.cchconline.org/pdf/S_1858_NBS-DNAWarehouseFINAL.pdf
        And we know how important our basic rights, even our right to life now stands under the Patriot act and Military commissions act.

        It’s humiliating and demoralizing. And I’m sure this suits many people in these activist governments just fine. But no matter how good it feels to be able to ‘appropriate money’ through force of the government for whatever the whim of the majority has decided is ‘good for everyone’ in that moment, it still makes it wrong. It has always been wrong, always will be wrong no matter how good the excuses given to do it. That is not living in a free country.

  • Bob Clark

    I’m voting against Obama, and not so much for McCain. Obama will stick most of us with relatively more taxes and costs, and his wife will continue to preach down to us about all her perceived injustices. While Obama’s election to presidency would be a triumph for the melting pot cabilities of America, his wife’s speeches on injustices would drag us right back into the mire of yester years/centuries.

  • Alan

    Let su not be too quick to dismiss Obama, he is tapping into a legitimate mood in America.

    • dean

      Rupert…your cleverness will forever get in the way of your enlightenment.

      Kennedy had wealth behind him, so he could have gone to the best schools with or without superior inteligence, which by all accounts but yours he did have by the way. Either way…Kennedy’s intelligence does not bear on Obama’s, one way or the other.

      Oh my God. Obama thinks there are 57 states? And he was a constitutional law professor? What sort of idiots do they hire at U Chicago anyway? McCain apparently thinks al Queda are Shia. Do I think he is stupid? No. Maybe inattentive to some important details. Maybe careless. Maybe getting a bit long in the tooth. But not stupid.

      I’ll skip commenting on your misogynyst statement about his wife.

      The Dems always go with newcomers? So all we have to do is find someone we never heard of like Kerry or Gore? And Republicans go with seasoned, proven people like Reagan (actor and 2 term governor) and Bush (actor and 2 term governor). Whatever Rupert.

      His politics are left of center Democratic. Guilty as charged. If you think his speech on race, written by himself, was a ‘standard” response to the Wright challenge, instead of pretending like he never heard of the guy, fine. I would say McCain’s belated dumping of Hagee was much more the norm.

      Let’s see…first mixed race/ African-American to have a serious chance to be president, raised by a single mom, lived several years in Indonesia, a Kenyan father, living relatives in something like 7 nations, turned down a 6 figure job offer for a community organizing gig, very odd name that he did not choose to “Anglicize” to make himself easier to swallow, and 75,000 people in Portland come out to hear what he has to say. Very conventional. Sure…whatever.

      “Had he risen thorugh private industry”? Like George Bush for example? Like Nixon? Ford? Reagan? What are you smoking Rupert? Politicians rise through politics. We are not hiring a CEO. (See Ross Perot: campaign for president.)

      He is “well off financially.” Yes…recently he has earned good money from the sale of the 2 books he wrote himself. You have a point? Kerry married into money late in life, as did McCain. Kennedy inherited a pile. Clinton has made a big pile post presidency. Obama was raised in about as modest of circumstances as any politician could have been. You prefer he was a street orphan?

      I don’t speak for every other Democrat. There are smart people and dolts on both sides fo the aisle. But your side has had a greater tendency to nominate and elect phony “men of the people” than mine does. And your side is the one that has trouble accepting findings of science, only grudgingly funds education, and makes sport of teachers, professors and universities.

  • sybella

    Wow I just read the complete article by Fr Morris. That was so impressive. He is absolutely correct, Obama will not give it to us, Hilliary will not give it to us, neither will McCain. We can but we must get off our duffs and quit waiting for the government to get us out. I guess that is why I disagree so much with deans comments on government. That was not said to enter into a discussion but to verbalize why I disagree with his arguments.

    Like it or not our only and best help is on the end of our arm.

    • dean

      It can’t be either/or Syb…its how much of each. How much from ourselves, and how much from the political structure. we need both.

  • Anonymous

    so I can be kept track of if I do anything ‘suspicious’.

    Which is not a wacko conspiracy theory. A bill was just passes recently that nationalizes all infant DNA testing and centralizes all that information and the left over samples so that government agencies, including homeland security, can track any disorders they are interested in throughout the child’s life. This tracking extends to the family members of these children. It is not required to notify the parents when the child’s samples will be experimented with. And bills like the Patriot act and military commissions act, and others, give the president dictatorial powers. Oh but i supposed all these ‘activists’ didn’t realize that collectivism always does this sort of thing. It is now as it always has been the best means to its own end.


    It’s humiliating. And I’m sure this suits many people in these activist governments just fine. No matter how cute or pretty or compassionate any party makes socialism sound it is not. It has turned America into a tyrannical monster.

    • Martha

      Sorry my posts became all messed up. The point is clear I hope.

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