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Michael Ubaldi, November 5, 2004.

Iraq reforms as a democracy:

A $1 million dollar-plus multinational force project to stand up a vehicle maintenance facility for Iraqi Police Service vehicles in Baghdad is fully operational and in the coming weeks will add a fuel point capability. The Baghdad Central Maintenance Facility project, initially undertaken in Dec. 2003 by the U.S. Armyís 18th Military Police Brigade, is now operating completely under IPS control in the city, employing some 260 Iraqis in the cityís southern Jihad District.

The site was an intelligence compound under the Hussein regime, but later identified as an ideal location to address one of the gaping holes in the Baghdad IPSís security mission Ė an ability to maintain the growing fleet of up to 2,800 police vehicles in the city.

Meanwhile, Allied obliteration of terrorists in Fallujah looms. Over the past twenty-four hours, six focused attacks have taken place, knocking out enemy positions, fortifications and supply points. (In Ramadi, our forces prevented Islamofascist murderers from killing dozens of children.) Chester watches the steady procession and declares it prelude to the storm:

Phase I: Shaping Actions: We're seeing this now, as described above.

Phase II: Ground Assault. The mission will be to remove anti-Iraq forces (AIF) from power within Fallujah and other cities. The beginning of this phase may be event-driven. When this starts, watch the press releases very closely. "Defeat" means we will try to break their will to fight. "Destroy" means we will physically destroy the enemy forces. Both of course involve combat, but to differing degrees and with different objectives.

Phase III: Exploitation and Reconstruction: I expect that our victory will be followed swiftly with very aggressive moves to pursue any fleeing enemy forces, and to immediately move in to reconstruct the city, flooding it with Civil Affairs teams, probably interacting with Iraqi National forces. Our victory will be advertised a great deal in the Iraqi national and Arab regional media (more than just the token headlines we'll get in the US and Europe). Intelligence exploitation teams will be sifting through everything (and everyone) they can get their hands on too.

The stateside Marine has noticed other valuable aspects of the operation, including the introduction of Iraqi media embeds as a way to encourage trust between suspicious Iraqi Arabs and their soldier-protectors, and deflect disinformation from leftist and despot propaganda mills. Chester also takes a moment to contemplate the Ba'athist-terrorist force's reasons for having stood its ground; it could be pride, it could be overconfidence. Whatever the local motivation, strategic insight is not a talent of our enemies', and we're rich for it.

INTO THE MIND OF MADNESS: This in-country Marine believes it's a sick, lunatic pride — and, command willing, a fatal one. He and his brothers-in-arms may get their chance to finish what they began in April, as Iraqi Interim Prime Minister Iyad Allawi has issued an ultimatum; only after he dismissed out of hand Kofi Annan's disgusting, grandiloquent abetting of terrorists.

Michael Ubaldi, October 31, 2004.

My mind is the amateur sociologist's or psychologist's; not the military strategist's. But two weeks ago I couldn't help guessing that what many described as an April "victory" for Fallujah's Islamofascists was in fact Pyrrhic:

I've wondered aloud what losses might be inflicted in a thorough offensive not only to the terrorists inside Iraq but, depending on the number and sophistication drawn into Fallujah and surrounding areas, terrorists from throughout the entire region. If the "flypaper theory" is in operation, could it in fact be on the verge of permanently weakening the field capability of Islamofascism?

Chester, a Marine formerly in Iraq and man who must be worth his salt for having won Belmont Club's recommendation, sees the same opportunity in an imminent Allied offensive:

Destroying the insurgency in Fallujah will be the second decisive battle of the entire Iraqi campaign. The first was in Baghdad in April of 2003. That signalled the end of Saddam's regime and the beginning of something completely new and different. Fallujah is not only the center of gravity of the entire insurgency, offering a source of refuge, capital, psychological motivation, munitions, and command and control to the anti-Iraqi insurgents, but it is also a psychological strong point in the Arab mind throughout the region. Check out the references to Fallujah in popular music, as mentioned in this Marine Corps Times article. Cleaning the place out will strike a very powerful blow that will reverberate throughout the region.

We should remember the self-indulgent surprise and disillusionment that rang around the capitals of the despot Near East when the bastard Nebuchadnezzar's statue was yanked down and smashed by his former subjects on April 9, 2003. The fall of Saddam Hussein marked the end of Pan-Arabism's mythos, proving that terrorism's suppuration described not the region's societal redemption but its contagion. A challenge from up-and-coming authoritarians, the Islamists, provided a wheezing breath for the faithful minority to follow, gasp for gasp, while they continued to rationalize the murder of Iraqis, their friends and the destruction of their rightful property for the good of fascism. Allied victory in al Anbar Province will put an end to that delusion, too, and the scarved cowards who perpetuated it. The Battle of Baghdad will finally be remembered as an unqualified defeat for tyranny, the Battle of Fallujah as the price to pay for trying to cheat Providence and free men.

Michael Ubaldi, October 29, 2004.

While the Nervous Nellies at the Corner bite their nails, Dick Morris stands firm:

Here's a two-part test to determine who will win on Tuesday:

a) Ask yourself: What is the issue we are talking about these days? Are we focused on terrorism and Iraq, or on health care and jobs? The answer is obvious: terrorism and Iraq.

b) Now look at the polls. Not the page that shows who they're voting for. That changes every hour. Look at the page that asks, "Which candidate do you think would do the best job of handling the war in Iraq?"

The answer is always President Bush, usually by 10 points. And right below that, on "Which candidate do you think would do the best job of handling the War on Terror?" Bush leads again, usually by 20 points. If the issue is terrorism and Iraq, and Bush wins those issues by double digits, then the winner will be . . . voila, Bush!

As I noted in a recent letter, the only real indicator of Kerry competitiveness is national polling, where he consistently trails. Nothing else. No anecdotal evidence, no advantage in the most important issues of the day, no bellwethers like the Weekly Reader mock election that's been spot-on since 1956, no economic predictors, no surprise gains in his opponent's safe states. Nothing.

Hypothetically, the election could be close. But as I've maintained, I expect a Bush win. And in that event, I expect a poll bubble to burst over a flabbergasted polling community.

GASTING THAT FLABBER: Jim Geraghty has been an invaluable source of hints from the GOP. Reports indicate that Bush is well ahead in early and absentee voting; in a message yesterday, 15 points ahead nationwide, which corresponds to his apparent Colorado showing of 64%. If a report that one-fifth of all ballots are being cast now is true, the argument made here again and again about supporters' enthusiasm, turnout and election results stands to reason.

Michael Ubaldi, October 28, 2004.

A rightist 527 group called Let Freedom Ring has been airing radio ads on Cleveland AM radio stations over the last few days. I heard "My Soldier Brother" on the way back from lunch today. It's magnificent. An excerpt:

My soldier brother told me that 25 million people are free in Iraq today because President Bush took a stand against dictatorship, oppression and terrorism. Imagine that: 25 million people in Iraq have been given the gift of liberty. How many sisters can say their brother helped free 25 million people? Sure, things are tough; but soon, those who hate freedom will be defeated because freedom always wins.

With the left actively attacking the act and purpose of democratic liberation, practically conjoined rhetorically to terrorists, accomplishments in the war on terror can't be allowed to be forgotten. Not now, nor ever.

Michael Ubaldi, October 28, 2004.

A little victory, yes, but a powerful illustration of the common good that obliterates tyranny:

A Mosul citizen prevented a car bomb attack after the anonymous individual informed Multi-National Forces of the suspected explosive device in the Mosul neighborhood of Al Wahda on Oct. 27.

Soldiers from 3rd Battalion, 21st Infantry Regiment, 1st Brigade, 25th Infantry Division (Stryker Brigade Combat Team) responded based on the citizenís information, and confirmed anti-Iraqi forces rigged the car with explosives. An Explosive Ordnance Disposal team destroyed the car bomb.

The citizenís ability to identify the car bomb and courageously inform the appropriate authorities potentially saved the lives of Iraqi Security Forces, Multi-National Forces and Iraqi citizens.

Terrorists' hideous slaughter of innocents was intended to subdue the Iraqi people; to divide them, cow them, force them in naked fear and confusion to turn against their closest friends. None of this happened. Instead, we are witnessing the slow creation of what may be one of the strongest, most unapologetic democratic nations. Islamofascists will live to regret attacking the Iraqi people — not long before dying.

Michael Ubaldi, October 27, 2004.

Yesterday I wrote of the unintended domestic consequences of the New York Times delivering the United Nations' packaging an old, unclear event into politically damaging news for the Democratic Party to use against President Bush. What I couldn't possibly imagine being unearthed was this:

Russian special forces troops moved many of Saddam Hussein's weapons and related goods out of Iraq and into Syria in the weeks before the March 2003 U.S. military operation, The Washington Times has learned. John A. Shaw, the deputy undersecretary of defense for international technology security, said in an interview that he believes the Russian troops, working with Iraqi intelligence, "almost certainly" removed the high-explosive material that went missing from the Al-Qaqaa facility, south of Baghdad.

Is it true?

Et tu, Vladimir?

AND: Could this be the trap?

Michael Ubaldi, October 25, 2004.

Arthur Chrenkoff defines two Iraqs, the country that is prospering and the tiny slivers still claimed by strongmen, making a similar point I did during the Ba'athist-Khomeinist uprisings earlier this year.

Michael Ubaldi, October 24, 2004.

The nature of the threat Saddam Hussein posed to Iraqis, geographical neighbors, America and the world is so highly politicized in these last days of the election season that I take news of the fallen dictator's murderous aims quietly. I'm either preaching to the choir or a brick wall: for those who, like me, accept what is, I have nothing to add; for those who, in their support of the Democratic Party, qualify reality, I have nothing to gain. But as we continually learn of the lengths to which a Stalinist butcher would go to grow and consolidate his own power — as the facts accumulate — there is an obligation to the truth. From the Wall Street Journal's George Melloan this past Tuesday (emphasis mine):

[N]on-news in the Duelfer report got most of the press coverage, but a member of the study wondered on these pages last week if anybody had bothered to read anything else the report had to say. Richard Spertzel, a former UN biological weapons specialist, had just returned from Iraq. He wrote:
While no facilities were found producing chemical or biological agents on a large scale, many clandestine laboratories operating under the Iraqi Intelligence Services were found to be engaged in small-scale production of chemical nerve agents, sulfur mustard, nitrogen mustard, ricin aflatoxin, and other unspecified biological agents.

He noted the report's disclosure of plans to produce and weaponize nitrogen mustand in rifle grenades and to bottle sarin and sulfur mustard in perfume sprayers and medicine bottles for shipment to the US and Europe:

Are we to believe this plan existed because they liked us? Or did they wish to do us harm? The major threat posed by Iraq, in my opinion, was the support it gave to terrorists in general, and its own terrorist activity.

A friend of mine, a screenwriter, was recently tapped by the Pentagon to participate in a focus group. He's to brainstorm the unimaginable in an attempt to anticipate which aspects of democratic modern life a violent fanatic would try to exploit. The answer, of course, is simple: all of them. Certainly, some methods are more popular, easier or otherwise preferable, and therefore require immediate counterterrorist attention. But the allure of a mystery comes from the intrigue, complexity and obfuscation built up by the perpetrator's cherished sense of self-preservation. There is no such love of life with the terrorist; and when killing does not involve one's own survival, it becomes very, very easy. The lesson beneath all this, indeed one of the three justifications for removing Saddam Hussein forthwith after defeating the Taliban (tyranny, weapons and the terrorist nexus), is that a free society is forever vulnerable to an active enemy who enjoys the support of cultures and nations. Was Saddam engaging terrorists and their conduct? Probably, and yet in the finest technical terms — given the nature of intelligence and the regrettable public division on the subject — only "probably." But the debate is now confined to what Saddam and his probable terrorist allies probably would have done and, now that a democratic society awakens in the old regime's place, will never do together.


Michael Ubaldi, October 24, 2004.

Representatives from the United Nations, for a change, have bet their reputations on the success of January elections in Iraq:

Preparations for the crucial January election are "on track" and the absence of international observers due to the country's tenuous security should not detract from the vote's credibility, the top U.N. electoral expert here said.

Terrorists should take this as a major defeat; after all, if you can't frighten the United Nations, who's left? (Hat tip to IP.) Meanwhile, Mohammed Fadhil reports a nearly unanimous pledge of support from Iraq's religious groups, from the influential to the batty to the subversive:

The elections fever is obviously rising up in Iraq and the belief in the necessity of the elections for the future of Iraq and in the importance of participating in this process is entering the hearts and minds of more Iraqis day by day as the time for elections is getting nearer.

...[T]he majority of political and religious trends in Iraq share the conviction that elections are a must and this is good sign for the future of this country and will erase many of the doubts about the prospects of the elections. We can't let a small group that's still living the illusions of the past influence our strategies; the terrorists and their allies thought that they can stop the wild tides of freedom but day by day they're getting more isolated and I can feel that they are beginning to realize that their end is approaching.

They had missed the train and their call for negotiations strongly indicates that they're feeling defeated because this is a characteristic feature of the Ba'athists; they never sit down for negotiations until they know they're losing and until it's too late.

As recently illustrated, no volume of gruesome murders seems capable of intimidating Iraqis.

Meanwhile, Hamed Karzai has won a majority of votes cast in Afghanistan's historic free election, with only a panel decision on the opposition candidates' rather silly accusations of election fraud left before Karzai is named President of Afghanistan.

Only one American presidential candidate is campaigning with his party for the celebration and defense of these victories against tyranny, and he's not from Massachusetts.

Michael Ubaldi, October 20, 2004.

An Iraqi in Amman:

I shouldíve written about this some days ago but I had to spend a week in Basra...Anyway, I feel itís still worth writing about (at least from my point of view): last week, I crossed the borders for the first time in my life; something may sound less than regular for most of you but for an Iraqi dentist or doctor it was a beautiful dream becoming a reality. Countless numbers of Iraqi doctors, dentists, officers and professionals carrying Msc or Phd ended up in prison or even lost their lives for trying to get passports (faked ones of course and at a very high cost) to get out of Saddamís hell.

This time, it wasnít hard for me at all to get my passport (a real one) and it cost me practically nothing; just two personal photographs and after five days I had my passport in my hand. No Mukhabarat asking why, where to and for how long, no 400 000 Dinars exit tax, no bribes to border guards...etc.

This may sound silly but Itís really something nice to be able to move freely, leave your country whenever you want and come back whenever you like and I canít describe to you what I felt when I saw the word ďEXITĒ printed on one of the passportís pages; I was sad for what we missed and at the same time optimistic and happy for whatís waiting for us in the future.

Read it for yourself. A man with only free will separating him from Providence is truly living; to preserve this in any and all capacity is the essence of being American.