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WHY IS MOOKIE STILL ALIVE?

Why is the Moqtada al Sadr - nicknamed "Mookie" by our troops - still alive? That this question can still be asked illustrates why things are going south for the U.S. in Iraq. The Moqtada al Sadr is a creature of Iran, which funds his militia.  Twice before (in April and August of 2004) he ordered uprisings against U.S. troops.  At the time, there was a warrant out for his arrest for the murder of (the genuinely moderate) Shia cleric Ayatollah Abdul Majid al Khoei, who was gunned down by Mahdi army members in April, 2003. "Mookie" al Sadr has the blood of dozens of Americans, and thousands of Iraqis, on his hands.  There is evidence he has been coordinating with al Qaeda.  Yet al Sadr is not dead.  He is not in prison.  He is in the government.  And people wonder why U.S. policy in Iraq is failing.

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WHY IS NORTH KOREA OUR PROBLEM?

As the U.S. takes the lead in formulating the international response to North Korea's (apparently fizzled) nuclear test, there is a question which ought to be asked: Why is this our problem? In 1950, this was easy to answer.  The fledgling democracy in South Korea was too weak to protect itself.  North Korea was then an agent of an international Communist conspiracy.  But that was more than half a century ago.  The Soviet Union has collapsed.  North Korea remains Stalinist, has a formidable military, and still dreams of conquering the South.  But its objectives are peninsular, not global, and it has little likelihood of obtaining them, even without American intervention. That's because South Korea now  has a formidable military, which could be made much more formidable if the South Koreans chose to do so.  South Korea today has more than twice the population of North Korea, 24 times the national wealth. So why can't the South Koreans take care of the problem themselves?

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IF ONLY DEMOCRATS HATED KIM JONG IL AS MUCH AS GEORGE BUSH

If Democrats went after America's enemies with the relentless ruthlessness with which they attack Republicans, the Axis of Evil would be toast. No sooner had North Korea made its (either botched or faked) nuclear bomb test last weekend than Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid and Sen. Hillary Clinton were blaming it on "the failed policies of the Bush administration." Democrats tend to view foreign policy crises through the narrow prism of their impact on domestic politics.  But the villain here isn't Bill Clinton or George Bush.  It's Kim Jong Il.  And what's important here is not which party controls the House of Representatives.  It's whether we can prevent a second Korean War. The Democrats are behaving as if the cost of another Korean War with thousands of American soldiers dead is the price they'd willingly pay to gain control of the House.

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THE NEW YORK TIMES DESERVES A HORSEWHIPPING

The New York Times who, along with the Washington Post did stories last Sunday on a National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) issued in April deserves a horsewhipping. The NIE represents the collective judgment of the 16 U.S. intelligence agencies.  The stories insinuated the intelligence chiefs had concluded the war in Iraq was a mistake.  "Spy Agencies Say Iraq War Worsens Terrorism Threat," said the headline in the New York Times.  "Spy Agencies Say Iraq War Hurting U.S. Terror Fight," said the headline in the Washington Post. "We assess that the Iraq jihad is shaping a new generation of terrorist leaders and operatives; perceived jihadist success there would inspire more fighters to continue the struggle elsewhere," the NIE said. The Times and the Post reported only the first half of that sentence.

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THE BLOOD ON JOHN MCCAIN’S HANDS

Do you think Al Qaeda terrorists are planning another attack on the United States? You'd have to have a two-digit IQ to believe they aren't.  Yet if Senate Democrats and a handful of renegade Republicans have their way, we will never learn the details of what is being planned through interrogating captured al Qaeda suspects. Thanks to the Supreme Court's breathtaking overreach in the Hamdan case this summer, which extended Geneva Convention protections to terrorists (who clearly are not entitled to them), our ability to obtain information from captured terrorists is in jeopardy. John McCain and the other senators who are blocking efforts to clarify the law argue that permitting the CIA to use the coercive techniques described above would open the door to other countries torturing U.S. prisoners.  They argue further that any attempt to "amend" Article 3 would bring worldwide condemnation of the U.S. The first argument is ludicrous; the second irrelevant.

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THE FRAUD OF THE RED CROSS AMBULANCE

His face swathed in bandages, Kassem Shalan had a chilling tale to tell the journalists who gathered around his bedside in the Jebel Amil hospital, where he was being treated for minor shrapnel wounds. As he was loading patients into his ambulance from another in the village of Qana, Lebanon, on July 23, both were attacked by an Israeli Apache helicopter:  "There was a boom, a big fire, and I was thrown backwards," Mr. Shalan told Time magazine. Curiously, he then told Martin Chulov, Middle East correspondent for the Australian newspaper, a very different story.  Mr. Shalan said he was driving the ambulance when it was struck by the Israeli missile, and was "spared more serious injuries by the armored vest he was wearing and the driver's canopy that protected him from a direct hit." "He remembers nothing after the flash and bang of the missile then the crunch of the crash as his ambulance veered off the road," Mr. Chulov said then.

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THE WORST EX-PRESIDENT

The State Department has granted a visa to Mohammad Khatami, the former president of Iran, to visit the United States.  Mr. Khatami is coming this week chiefly to attend meetings at the United Nations.  He also will speak at the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard; at a function sponsored by the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) in Arlington, Virginia, and at the National Cathedral in Washington, D.C.  And he will meet with former president Jimmy Carter.  Mr. Khatami requested the meeting with Mr. Carter. Perhaps to say "thank you." Thanks to James Buchanan (1791-1868), Pennsylvania's unfortunate contribution to the presidency (1857-1861), Jimmy Carter can claim not to have been the worst president in U.S. history. But he is unquestionably the worst ex-president, snuggling up to every tyrant who will allow his buttocks to be smooched.  

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THE DEMOCRAT DANGER TO AMERICA

Judge Anna Diggs Taylor illustrates why Democrats cannot be trusted with political power in time of war. Ms. Taylor, who is the chief judge of the federal district court in Detroit, ruled Aug. 17 that it is unconstitutional for the National Security Agency to listen in, without warrants, on telephone conversations between terror suspects abroad and people in the United States. Her ruling was praised by Senate Democratic leader Harry Reid, House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi, and other prominent Democrats.   Then it was discovered that Judge Taylor served on the board of a foundation which gave $125,000 to the Michigan ACLU, the lead plaintiff in the case, and did not disclose this apparent conflict of interest.

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ISRAEL IN ‘NAM

Finally, a war like Vietnam. If the cease fire in Lebanon actually goes into effect, Israel will have lost despite having won every battle, because political dithering prevented decisive victory. Hezbollah will have won through a propaganda campaign what it could not obtain on the battlefield. Hezbollah won by surviving.  Israel's reputation for military invincibility is shattered.  The vultures are circling: "Today Arab and Muslim society is reasonably certain that the defeat of Israel is possible and that the countdown to the disappearance of the Zionist entity in the region has begun," Ahmed Barakat, a member of Hezbollah's central council, told a Qatari newspaper. As in Vietnam, the overwhelming failure was in political leadership. 

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2006 FOR THE DEMS: 1972 OR 1974?

My dish of crow went down easier after I read the hilarious editorial in the New York Times Wednesday celebrating zillionaire businessman Ned Lamont's victory over Sen. Joseph Lieberman in Connecticut's Democratic primary. (I'd predicted a Lieberman win in a July 16 column.) "The rebellion against Sen. Lieberman was actually an uprising by that rare phenomenon, irate moderates," the Times declared. Flanking Mr. Lamont when he gave his victory speech were those famous moderates, Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton.  Just the faces, I'm sure, Democrats in swing districts want representing their party in the fall.

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