Friday, November 30, 2007

China Flips the Bird to USS Kittyhawk on Thanksgiving Day

Sailors on board the aircraft carrier Kittyhawk looking forward to off shore liberty in Hong Kong were crushed to learn that the Chinese government decided use their request to show Sino disapproval of our Yankee government actions by telling the U.S. sailors to take a hike. Needless to say, the Chinese club-footed response did not sit well with anyone this side of the Pacific Ocean. Apparently, surprised by the outrage the Chinese government officials reversed their decision based on face-saving "humanitarian" reasons and invited the Kittyhawk back. Too late, the Kittyhawk and the strike group had committed to return to Japan.

Today, the Financial Times reports:

Japan has refused a Chinese request to tour an advanced combat ship as the US-China spat over Beijing’s refusal to allow a US aircraft carrier to dock in Hong Kong last week spilled over into Sino-Japanese military relations.

The Pentagon is now furiously back pedaling any thoughts of tits for tats-- Pentagon spokesman Bryan Whitman, said: ”this was an unfortunate incident...we’re going to move past it”.

After all, its not like we aren't Barney Rubble and Fred Flintstone, bosom buddies and life long friends with nothing but thoughts of the greater good for each other.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Finally, Someone with Grit Who Understands The Threat From Islam:Rep. Sue Myrick, R-N.C.

Rep. Sue Myrick, R-N.C., who has founded the House Anti-Terrorism/Jihad Caucus to educate fellow lawmakers and Americans about militant Islam's long-term threat.

The diminutive yet feisty Myrick, a former Charlotte mayor and now deputy Republican whip, sat down with IBD to discuss the zeitgeist inside official Washington concerning the war on Islamic terror.

IBD: What persuaded you to start the Anti-Terrorism/Jihad Caucus, and what do you hope to accomplish?

Rep. Sue Myrick: Uniting the parties to educate Americans about our terrorist enemy.

Rep. Sue Myrick: Uniting the parties to educate Americans about our terrorist enemy.

Myrick: I decided to start the caucus out of a deep frustration, because President Bush does not talk to the American people about the long-term threat of radical Islamofascism infiltration in America. Since 9/11, I've tried to get the president and several members of his administration to talk to the American people about the dangerous enemy that we're facing. I took them all the materials I could find about what we did during World War II that were used to unite the American people.

Everyone I spoke to said, "We do not want to frighten the American people."

I waited for someone else to start to educate the people, however, it did not seem to be happening. At that point, I sought to become educated on the matter. What I have learned is quite disturbing. I decided that if members of Congress were informed, they would have an opportunity to educate people in their districts. So I started the caucus and brought in three other co-chairs — Bud Cramer (D-Ala.), Kay Granger (R-Texas) and Jane Harman (D-Calif.).

We hope to start a dialogue with America. Until, and unless, we understand what we are fighting, we have no chance. We must inform the people, since it is evident they will have to protect their national sovereignty, because the government is not doing it.

IBD: How many members are in the caucus?

Myrick: We have 118 members — both Democrats and Republicans. The threat we face from radical Islamofascists is not a partisan issue. This is a matter that affects all Americans, regardless of political, social, economic or any other affiliations.

IBD: Should Americans be concerned about recently declassified documents detailing a secret plot by Islamist groups in this country, tied to the dangerous Muslim Brotherhood, to take over America from within, to Islamize our society?

Myrick: Americans must be concerned — alarmed. That is what I am referring to when I say that the administration has not explained who we are fighting and (where we are fighting them). "We're fighting them over there so we don't have to fight them over here" is not the whole story. It is amazing that we actually have the enemy's playbook, yet for some reason we don't want to seriously confront the threat we are facing.

The radical Islamofascists have told us how they intend to infiltrate all areas of our society and use the freedoms that are guaranteed under our Constitution to eventually Islamize our country, eliminate our Constitution and enact Shariah law. I know that it sounds a bit fanatical, but it's true.

In 1998, Osama bin Laden declared war on the U.S. What did we do? Nothing. Then he attacked again and again around the world before finally striking inside the U.S. Yet, rather than confront the threat head on and declare war on radical Islamofascists, we seek to placate the threat at home by saying radicals have hijacked Islam.

IBD: Are there any Muslim groups with which federal or other government officials — as well as businesses and nonprofits — should think twice about doing outreach or interfaith activities?

Myrick: I know of some Muslim nongovernmental organizations that are doing good things, such as the Islamic Supreme Council of America, the American Islamic Congress and the American Islamic Forum for Democracy.

However, groups such as Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA) and others have a proven record of senior officials being indicted and either imprisoned or deported from the U.S. Just to name a few: Ghassan Elashi, a founding board member of CAIR, is serving 80 months in prison; Randall "Ismail" Royer, the communications director for CAIR, is serving 20 years in prison; and Bassam Khafagi, the director of CAIR's community relations, has been arrested and deported.

There was a lot of evidence presented at the recent Holy Land Foundation trial, which exposed CAIR, ISNA and others as front groups for the Muslim Brotherhood.

IBD: What about Congress — does it have a formal vetting process for screening radical Muslims? Those invited to pray or speak at the Capitol, or who may try to otherwise visit or use Capitol facilities?

Myrick: To my knowledge, there is not a formal vetting process. Members of Congress invite religious leaders to pray. Back in the 1990s, Siraj Wahhaj became the first Muslim chaplain to give the opening prayer to Congress. Siraj Wahhaj was also an unindicted co-conspirator in the first World Trade Center bombing in 1993.

There is a policy that members of Congress can reserve rooms for speakers, events, etc., within the Capitol complex, and there is not much oversight as to who can be present at such events. Remember, these are public buildings, paid for by American taxpayers. It is the people's house.

IBD: During WWII, Uncle Sam plastered public places with propaganda posters of the enemy, commissioning artists to paint frightening impressions. The campaign rallied the American people against a common enemy. Yet in this war, the U.S. government hasn't even issued a wanted poster of Osama bin Laden. Why do you think that is?

Myrick: For one, we are too politically correct today. "We don't want to frighten the American people."

IBD: We often hear that Islam is a "religion of peace" and "tolerance," and that jihadists have "hijacked" or "perverted" a "great religion." Is this accurate, that nothing in Islam promotes or condones violent jihad against infidels? Or does such rhetoric simply play into the Islamists' hands in their attempts to sugarcoat the threat, and confuse Americans?

Myrick: There are definitely passages in the Quran that promote or condone violent jihad. However, you can also find passages in the Bible which promote violence. I think that the president is failing the American people by sugarcoating the problem we are facing and only making things worse for the future.

We should explore every means of encouraging moderate Muslims to speak out against the radicals. There are many who want to, and do — such as Sheikh (Muhammad Hisham) Kabbani (of the Islamic Supreme Council of America) and Zainab al-Suwaij (of the American Islamic Congress) and Dr. Zuhdi Jasser (of the American Islamic Forum for Democracy). But they do not get the media attention.

IBD: Many Islamists are well-spoken, and seem skilled at manipulating not only our media but our laws. If they can use our constitutional freedoms against us to block due scrutiny, what chance do we have of marginalizing them?


Over the last 25 years, there has been a concerted effort on the part of radical Islamists to infiltrate our major institutions in America. They have done that by funding professors' projects in our colleges and universities. Then, they influence what is taught by making the program dependent on their yearly donations. Several classes have graduated and are now in the media, the judicial system, teaching in our schools and colleges, various branches of our government, even in our military. They are masterful at manipulating minds to fit their purposes.

IBD: How can they be exposed?


We need to shed the veil of political correctness that shields government officials from speaking out against them. Until we do that, we do not have a chance of marginalizing them. As soon as someone broaches the idea that the Quran has violent passages, they get shot down as Islamophobes and racists.

Rather than debate these points, groups like CAIR seek to silence the debate. The American people deserve to see and hear the debate, but most people in positions of influence are afraid to say anything.

IBD: Jihad watchers have warned about "Shariah creep" in schools and local governments. We see Shariah being practiced in some parts of Europe; could it happen here?

Myrick: I believe Shariah could easily be practiced here. If a local community becomes infiltrated by extremists who run the town or village operations, then it could easily be implemented in this country. Unchallenged, it will happen.

IBD: The FBI director says the bureau can find no evidence of sleeper cells inside the U.S. How confident are you that the 9/11 cells were the last?

Myrick: From the information that I have heard reported publicly, there are sleeper cells inside the U.S. . . . Hezbollah sleeper cells, al-Qaida sleeper cells, maybe others.

IBD: How worried are you about "virtual jihad" — the use of al Qaida-inspired Web sites to motivate homegrown terrorists?

Myrick: I'm very worried about it, but again, we have certain freedoms in this country. We have a lot of freedom to express ourselves, more than in any other country in the world. People go pretty far in the statements they use to criticize the U.S. That's legal, as well it should be.

But the risk of motivating Americans to engage in jihad through the Web is a very serious problem that our Congress and administration should address immediately. We face an ironic dilemma in that our freedom could very well cost us our freedoms.

IBD: Christian prison chaplains warn that Muslim chaplains are converting inmates to Islam by the cellblock. Are the Justice Department and the Federal Bureau of Prisons doing enough to monitor this situation?

Myrick: They are aware of it and are supposedly monitoring it. Also, I have read that Abdurahman Alamoudi, founder of the American Muslim Council, placed Muslim chaplains throughout our military. He is now in jail on charges of terrorism. The chaplains, to my knowledge, are still in their current positions. Go figure.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Iraqi's Vote of Confidence with their Feet--

The issue of whether the military surge led by Gen. David Petraeus has succeeded or not is only an issue among the surrendercrats and in-denial members of the dead tree media. The issue is totally irrelevant to the four million Iraqi's who are lining up at the border for their return trip home.

IBD Editorial:

Brig. Gen. Qassim al-Moussawi, spokesman for the U.S.-Iraqi efforts to pacify Baghdad, said border crossings by returning refugees numbered 46,030 in October alone. He attributed the large numbers to the "improving security situation" resulting from the successful military surge orchestrated by Gen. David Petraeus.

"We are receiving tremendous numbers of displaced families at the borders of Syria and Jordan," says Maj. Gen. Mohsen Abdul Hassan, head of Iraq's department of border enforcement. "We have difficulties dealing with the large numbers. There are long lines of vehicles."

Convoys of Iraqis wanting to return and willing to drive themselves from Damascus to Baghdad are being organized by the Iraqi embassy in Damascus.

Syria has absorbed the lion's share of Iraqi refugees during the war. But the Times of London reports that as a result of the Iraqi return, "Saida Zaynab, the Damascus neighborhoods once dominated by many of the 1.5 million Iraqi refugees, is almost deserted. Apartment prices are plummeting and once-crowded shops and buses are half empty."

Hussein Ali Saleh, director of the National Theatre in Baghdad, stages plays for refugees in Damascus. He reports that the al-Najum theatre was filled with 400 Iraqis on an average night. Lately, barely 50 show up.

"In the last month, 60% of the Iraqis I know have returned," he told the Times. "The situation has changed completely. They all want to go back. Even my own family back in Baghdad is telling me the situation is much better."

"There is a large movement of people going back to Iraq. We are doing rapid research on this," added a spokesman for the United Nations High Commission on Refugees.

But no research is needed to confirm that the surge has worked. The Iraqi people feel safer than ever as al-Qaida is pushed out of Baghdad and outlying provinces, and the number of car bombings and civilian casualties has dropped sharply.

Even the New York Times, which like Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid had editorially proclaimed the war to be lost, reported Tuesday that people in Baghdad now move freely without fear, even at night. People feel free to move between Shiite and Sunni areas for everyday routines such as work, shopping and school.

Just six short months ago, the mostly Sunni neighborhood of Amariyah in western Baghdad was one of the centers of al-Qaida in Iraq operations. Some days there were as many as a dozen car bombings and shootings. Few walked the streets.

Today, as the Associated Press reports: "Twilight brings traffic jams to the main shopping district of this once-affluent corner of Baghdad, and hundreds of people stroll past well-stocked vegetable stands, bakeries and butcher shops." Women shop in its reopened stores, and men drink tea in sidewalk cafes.

Because we refused to leave, the Iraqi people are choosing to come home.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

“Come do the great work that lies ready to the hand of your generation.” Secretary of Defense Robert M. Gates

Landon Lecture series Manhattan, Kansas, Monday, November 26, 2007

In1968, the first full year I lived in Washington, was the same year as the Tet offensive in Vietnam, where American troop levels and casualties were at their height. Across the nation, protests and violence over Vietnam engulfed America’s cities and campuses. On my second day of work as a CIA analyst, the Soviet Union invaded Czechoslovakia. And then came the 1970s – when it seemed that everything that could go wrong for America did.
Yet, through it all, there was another storyline, one not then apparent. During those same years, the elements were in place and forces were at work that would eventually lead to victory in the Cold War – a victory achieved not by any one party or any single president, but by a series of decisions, choices, and institutions that bridged decades, generations, and administrations. From:
· The first brave stand taken by Harry Truman with the doctrine of containment; to
· The Helsinki Accords under Gerald Ford; to
· The elevation of human rights under Jimmy Carter; to
· The muscular words and deeds of Ronald Reagan; and to
· The masterful endgame diplomacy of George H. W. Bush.
All contributed to bring an Evil Empire crashing down not with a bang but with a whimper. And virtually without a shot being fired.
In this great effort, institutions, as much as people and policies, played a key role. Many of those key organizations were created 60 years ago this year with the National Security Act of 1947 – a single act of legislation which established the Central Intelligence Agency, the National Security Council, the United States Air Force, and what is now known as the Department of Defense. I mention all this because that legislation and those instruments of national power were designed at the dawn of a new era in international relations for the United States – an era dominated by the Cold War.
The end of the Cold War, and the attacks of September 11, marked the dawn of another new era in international relations – an era whose challenges may be unprecedented in complexity and scope.
In important respects, the great struggles of the 20th century – World War I and World War II and the Cold War – covered over conflicts that had boiled and seethed and provoked war and instability for centuries before 1914: ethnic strife, religious wars, independence movements, and, especially in the last quarter of the 19th century, terrorism. The First World War was, itself, sparked by a terrorist assassination motivated by an ethnic group seeking independence.
These old hatreds and conflicts were buried alive during and after the Great War. But, like monsters in science fiction, they have returned from the grave to threaten peace and stability around the world. Think of the slaughter in the Balkans as Yugoslavia broke up in the 1990s. Even now, we worry about the implications of Kosovo’s independence in the next few weeks for Europe, Serbia, and Russia. That cast of characters sounds disturbingly familiar even at a century’s remove.
The long years of religious warfare in Europe between Protestant and Catholic Christians find eerie contemporary echoes in the growing Sunni versus Shia contest for Islamic hearts and minds in the Middle East, the Persian Gulf, and Southwest Asia.
We also have forgotten that between Abraham Lincoln and John F. Kennedy, two American presidents and one presidential candidate were assassinated or attacked by terrorists – as were various tsars, empresses, princes, and, on a fateful day in June 1914, an archduke. Other acts of terrorism were commonplace in Europe and Russia in the latter part of the 19th century.
So, history was not dead at the end of the Cold War. Instead, it was reawakening with a vengeance. And, the revived monsters of the past have returned far stronger and more dangerous than before because of modern technology – both for communication and for destruction – and to a world that is far more closely connected and interdependent than the world of 1914.
Unfortunately, the dangers and challenges of old have been joined by new forces of instability and conflict, among them:
· A new and more malignant form of global terrorism rooted in extremist and violent jihadism;
· New manifestations of ethnic, tribal, and sectarian conflict all over the world;
· The proliferation of weapons of mass destruction;
· Failed and failing states;
· States enriched with oil profits and discontented with the current international order; and
· Centrifugal forces in other countries that threaten national unity, stability, and internal peace – but also with implications for regional and global security.
Worldwide, there are authoritarian regimes facing increasingly restive populations seeking political freedom as well as a better standard of living. And finally, we see both emergent and resurgent great powers whose future path is still unclear.
One of my favorite lines is that experience is the ability to recognize a mistake when you make it again. Four times in the last century the United States has come to the end of a war, concluded that the nature of man and the world had changed for the better, and turned inward, unilaterally disarming and dismantling institutions important to our national security – in the process, giving ourselves a so-called “peace” dividend. Four times we chose to forget history.
Isaac Barrow once wrote, “How like a paradise the world would be, flourishing in joy and rest, if men would cheerfully conspire in affection and helpfully contribute to each other’s content: and how like a savage wilderness now it is, when, like wild beasts, they vex and persecute, worry and devour each other.” He wrote that in the late 1600s. Or, listen to the words of Sir William Stephenson, author of "A Man Called Intrepid" and a key figure in the Allied victory in World War II. He wrote, “Perhaps a day will dawn when tyrants can no longer threaten the liberty of any people, when the function of all nations, however varied their ideologies, will be to enhance life, not to control it. If such a condition is possible it is in a future too far distant to foresee.”
After September 11th, the United States re-armed and again strengthened our intelligence capabilities. It will be critically important to sustain those capabilities in the future – it will be important not to make the same mistake a fifth time.
But, my message today is not about the defense budget or military power. My message is that if we are to meet the myriad challenges around the world in the coming decades, this country must strengthen other important elements of national power both institutionally and financially, and create the capability to integrate and apply all of the elements of national power to problems and challenges abroad. In short, based on my experience serving seven presidents, as a former Director of CIA and now as Secretary of Defense, I am here to make the case for strengthening our capacity to use “soft” power and for better integrating it with “hard” power.
One of the most important lessons of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan is that military success is not sufficient to win: economic development, institution-building and the rule of law, promoting internal reconciliation, good governance, providing basic services to the people, training and equipping indigenous military and police forces, strategic communications, and more – these, along with security, are essential ingredients for long-term success.
Accomplishing all of these tasks will be necessary to meet the diverse challenges I have described.
So, we must urgently devote time, energy, and thought to how we better organize ourselves to meet the international challenges of the present and the future – the world you students will inherit and lead.
I spoke a few moments ago about the landmark National Security Act of 1947 and the institutions created to fight the Cold War. In light of the challenges I have just discussed, I would like to pose a question: if there were to be a
“National Security Act of 2007,” looking beyond the crush of day-to-day headlines, what problems must it address, what capabilities ought it create or improve, where should it lead our government as we look to the future? What new institutions do we need for this post Cold War world?
As an old Cold Warrior with a doctorate in history, I hope you’ll indulge me as I take a step back in time. Because context is important, as many of the goals, successes, and failures from the Cold War are instructive in considering how we might better focus energies and resources – especially the ways in which our nation can influence the rest of the world to help protect our security and advance our interests and values.
What we consider today to be the key elements and instruments of national power trace their beginnings to the mid-1940s, to a time when the government was digesting lessons learned during World War II. Looking back, people often forget that the war effort – though victorious – was hampered and hamstrung by divisions and dysfunction. Franklin Roosevelt quipped that trying to get the Navy, which was its own cabinet department at the time, to change was akin to hitting a featherbed: “You punch it with your right and you punch it with your left until you are finally exhausted,” he said, “and then you find the damn bed just as it was before.” And Harry Truman noted that if the Navy and Army had fought as hard against the Germans as they had fought against each other, the war would have been over much sooner.
This record drove the thinking behind the 1947 National Security Act, which attempted to fix the systemic failures that had plagued the government and military during World War II – while reviving capabilities and setting the stage for a struggle against the Soviet Union that seemed more inevitable each passing day.
The 1947 Act acknowledged that we had been over-zealous in our desire to shut down capabilities that had been so valuable during the war – most of America’s intelligence and information assets disappeared as soon as the guns fell silent. The Office of Strategic Services – the war intelligence agency – was axed, as was the Office of War Information. In 1947, OSS returned as CIA, but it would be years before we restored our communications capabilities by creating the United States Information Agency.
There is in many quarters the tendency to see that period as the pinnacle of wise governance and savvy statecraft. As I wrote a number of years ago, “Looking back, it all seem[ed] so easy, so painless, so inevitable.” It was anything but.
Consider that the creation of the National Military Establishment in 1947 – the Department of Defense – was meant to improve unity among the military services. It didn’t. A mere two years later the Congress had to pass another law because the Joint Chiefs of Staff were anything but joint. And there was no chairman to referee the constant disputes.
At the beginning, the Secretary of Defense had little real power – despite an exalted title. The law forbad him from having a military staff and limited him to three civilian assistants. These days, it takes that many to sort my mail.
Throughout the long, twilight struggle of the Cold War, the various parts of the government did not communicate or coordinate very well with each other. There were military, intelligence, and diplomatic failures in Korea, Vietnam, Iran, Grenada, and many other places. Getting the military services to work together was a recurring battle that had to be addressed time and again, and was only really resolved by legislation in 1986.
But despite the problems, we realized, as we had during World War II, that the nature of the conflict required us to develop key capabilities and institutions – many of them non-military. The Marshall Plan and later the United States Agency for International Development acknowledged the role of economics in the world; the CIA the role of intelligence; and the United States Information Agency the fact that the conflict would play out as much in hearts and minds as it would on any battlefield.
The key, over time, was to devote the necessary resources – people and money – and get enough things right while maintaining the ability to recover from mistakes along the way. Ultimately, our endurance paid off and the Soviet Union crumbled, and the decades-long Cold War ended.
However, during the 1990s, with the complicity of both the Congress and the White House, key instruments of America’s national power once again were allowed to wither or were abandoned. Most people are familiar with cutbacks in the military and intelligence – including sweeping reductions in manpower, nearly 40 percent in the active army, 30 percent in CIA’s clandestine service and spies.
What is not as well-known, and arguably even more shortsighted, was the gutting of America’s ability to engage, assist, and communicate with other parts of the world – the “soft power,” which had been so important throughout the Cold War. The State Department froze the hiring of new Foreign Service officers for a period of time. The United States Agency for International Development saw deep staff cuts – its permanent staff dropping from a high of 15,000 during Vietnam to about 3,000 in the 1990s. And the U.S. Information Agency was abolished as an independent entity, split into pieces, and many of its capabilities folded into a small corner of the State Department.
Even as we throttled back, the world became more unstable, turbulent, and unpredictable than during the Cold War years. And then came the attacks of September 11, 2001, one of those rare life-changing dates, a shock so great that it appears to have shifted the tectonic plates of history. That day abruptly ended the false peace of the 1990s as well as our “holiday from history.”
As is often the case after such momentous events, it has taken some years for the contour lines of the international arena to become clear. What we do know is that the threats and challenges we will face abroad in the first decades of the 21st century will extend well beyond the traditional domain of any single government agency.
The real challenges we have seen emerge since the end of the Cold War – from Somalia to the Balkans, Iraq, Afghanistan, and elsewhere – make clear we in defense need to change our priorities to be better able to deal with the prevalence of what is called “asymmetric warfare.” As I told an Army gathering last month, it is hard to conceive of any country challenging the United States directly in conventional military terms – at least for some years to come. Indeed, history shows us that smaller, irregular forces – insurgents, guerrillas, terrorists – have for centuries found ways to harass and frustrate larger, regular armies and sow chaos.
We can expect that asymmetric warfare will be the mainstay of the contemporary battlefield for some time. These conflicts will be fundamentally political in nature, and require the application of all elements of national power. Success will be less a matter of imposing one’s will and more a function of shaping behavior – of friends, adversaries, and most importantly, the people in between.
Arguably the most important military component in the War on Terror is not the fighting we do ourselves, but how well we enable and empower our partners to defend and govern themselves. The standing up and mentoring of indigenous army and police – once the province of Special Forces – is now a key mission for the military as a whole.
But these new threats also require our government to operate as a whole differently – to act with unity, agility, and creativity. And they will require considerably more resources devoted to America’s non-military instruments of power.
So, what are the capabilities, institutions, and priorities our nation must collectively address – through both the executive and legislative branches, as well as the people they serve?
I would like to start with an observation. Governments of all stripes seem to have great difficulty summoning the will – and the resources – to deal even with threats that are obvious and likely inevitable, much less threats that are more complex or over the horizon. There is, however, no inherent flaw in human nature or democratic government that keeps us from preparing for potential challenges and dangers by taking far-sighted actions with long-term benefits. As individuals, we do it all the time. The Congress did it in 1947. As a nation, today, as in 1947, the key is wise and focused bipartisan leadership – and political will.
I mentioned a moment ago that one of the most important lessons from our experience in Iraq, Afghanistan, and elsewhere has been the decisive role reconstruction, development, and governance plays in any meaningful, long-term success.
The Department of Defense has taken on many of these burdens that might have been assumed by civilian agencies in the past, although new resources have permitted the State Department to begin taking on a larger role in recent months. Still, forced by circumstances, our brave men and women in uniform have stepped up to the task, with field artillerymen and tankers building schools and mentoring city councils – usually in a language they don’t speak. They have done an admirable job. And as I’ve said before, the Armed Forces will need to institutionalize and retain these non-traditional capabilities – something the ROTC cadets in this audience can anticipate.
But it is no replacement for the real thing – civilian involvement and expertise.
A few examples are useful here, as microcosms of what our overall government effort should look like – one historical and a few contemporary ones.
However uncomfortable it may be to raise Vietnam all these years later, the history of that conflict is instructive. After first pursuing a strategy based on conventional military firepower, the United States shifted course and began a comprehensive, integrated program of pacification, civic action, and economic development. The CORDS program
[acronym for Civil Operations and Revolutionary (or Rural) Development Support. a program developed during the Vietnam War that integrated military and civilian efforts to destroy the Vietcong infrastructure and at the same time build stronger support for the South Vietnamese government in the countryside.]
, as it was known, involved more than a thousand civilian employees from USAID and other organizations, and brought the multiple agencies into a joint effort. It had the effect of, in the words of General Creighton Abrams, putting “all of us on one side and the enemy on the other.” By the time U.S. troops were pulled out, the CORDS program had helped pacify most of the hamlets in South Vietnam.
The importance of deploying civilian expertise has been relearned – the hard way – through the effort to staff Provincial Reconstruction Teams, first in Afghanistan and more recently in Iraq. The PRTs were designed to bring in civilians experienced in agriculture, governance, and other aspects of development – to work with and alongside the military to improve the lives of the local population, a key tenet of any counterinsurgency effort. Where they are on the ground – even in small numbers – we have seen tangible and often dramatic changes. An Army brigade commander in Baghdad recently said that an embedded PRT was “pivotal” in getting Iraqis in his sector to better manage their affairs.
We also have increased our effectiveness by joining with organizations and people outside the government – untapped resources with tremendous potential.
For example, in Afghanistan the military has recently brought in professional anthropologists as advisors. The New York Times reported on the work of one of them, who said, “I’m frequently accused of militarizing anthropology. But we’re really anthropologizing the military.”
And it is having a very real impact. The same story told of a village that had just been cleared of the Taliban. The anthropologist pointed out to the military officers that there were more widows than usual, and that the sons would feel compelled to take care of them – possibly by joining the insurgency, where many of the fighters are paid. So American officers began a job training program for the widows.
Similarly, our land-grant universities have provided valuable expertise on agricultural and other issues. Texas A&M has had faculty on the ground in Afghanistan and Iraq since 2003. And Kansas State is lending its expertise to help revitalize universities in Kabul and Mazar-e-Sharif, and working to improve the agricultural sector and veterinary care across Afghanistan. These efforts do not go unnoticed by either Afghan citizens or our men and women in uniform.
I have been heartened by the works of individuals and groups like these. But I am concerned that we need even more civilians involved in the effort and that our efforts must be better integrated.
And I remain concerned that we have yet to create any permanent capability or institutions to rapidly create and deploy these kinds of skills in the future. The examples I mentioned have, by and large, been created ad hoc – on the fly in a climate of crisis. As a nation, we need to figure out how to institutionalize programs and relationships such as these. And we need to find more untapped resources – places where it’s not necessarily how much you spend, but how you spend it.
The way to institutionalize these capabilities is probably not to recreate or repopulate institutions of the past such as AID or USIA. On the other hand, just adding more people to existing government departments such as Agriculture, Treasury, Commerce, Justice and so on is not a sufficient answer either – even if they were to be more deployable overseas.
New institutions are needed for the 21st century, new organizations with a 21st century mind-set.
For example, public relations was invented in the United States, yet we are miserable at communicating to the rest of the world what we are about as a society and a culture, about freedom and democracy, about our policies and our goals.
It is just plain embarrassing that al-Qaeda is better at communicating its message on the internet than America.
As one foreign diplomat asked a couple of years ago, “How has one man in a cave managed to out-communicate the world’s greatest communication society?” Speed, agility, and cultural relevance are not terms that come readily to mind when discussing U.S. strategic communications.

Similarly, we need to develop a permanent, sizeable cadre of immediately deployable experts with disparate skills, a need which president bush called for in his 2007 state of the union address, and which the State Department is now working on with its initiative to build a civilian response corps. Both the President and Secretary of State have asked for full funding for this initiative. But we also need new thinking about how to integrate our government’s capabilities in these areas, and then how to integrate government capabilities with those in the private sector, in universities, in other non-governmental organizations, with the capabilities of our allies and friends – and with the nascent capabilities of those we are trying to help.

Which brings me to a fundamental point. Despite the improvements of recent years, despite the potential innovative ideas hold for the future, sometimes there is no substitute for resources – for money.

Funding for non-military foreign-affairs programs has increased since 2001, but it remains disproportionately small relative to what we spend on the military and to the importance of such capabilities. Consider that this year’s budget for the Department of Defense – not counting operations in Iraq and Afghanistan – is nearly half a trillion dollars. The total foreign affairs budget request for the State Department is $36 billion – less than what the Pentagon spends on health care alone. Secretary Rice has asked for a budget increase for the State Department and an expansion of the Foreign Service. The need is real.

Despite new hires, there are only about 6,600 professional Foreign Service officers – less than the manning for one aircraft carrier strike group. And personnel challenges loom on the horizon. By one estimate, 30 percent of USAID’s Foreign Service officers are eligible for retirement this year – valuable experience that cannot be contracted out.

Overall, our current military spending amounts to about 4 percent of GDP, below the historic norm and well below previous wartime periods. Nonetheless, we use this benchmark as a rough floor of how much we should spend on defense. We lack a similar benchmark for other departments and institutions.
What is clear to me is that there is a need for a dramatic increase in spending on the civilian instruments of national security – diplomacy, strategic communications, foreign assistance, civic action, and economic reconstruction and development.
Secretary Rice addressed this need in a speech at Georgetown University nearly two years ago. We must focus our energies beyond the guns and steel of the military, beyond just our brave soldiers, sailors, Marines, and airmen. We must also focus our energies on the other elements of national power that will be so crucial in the coming years.

Now, I am well aware that having a sitting Secretary of Defense travel halfway across the country to make a pitch to increase the budget of other agencies might fit into the category of “man bites dog” – or for some back in the Pentagon, “blasphemy.” It is certainly not an easy sell politically. And don’t get me wrong, I’ll be asking for yet more money for Defense next year.
Still, I hear all the time from the senior leadership of our Armed Forces about how important these civilian capabilities are. In fact, when Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral Mike Mullen was Chief of Naval Operations, he once said he’d hand a part of his budget to the State Department “in a heartbeat,” assuming it was spent in the right place.
After all, civilian participation is both necessary to making military operations successful and to relieving stress on the men and women of our armed services who have endured so much these last few years, and done so with such unflagging bravery and devotion. Indeed, having robust civilian capabilities available could make it less likely that military force will have to be used in the first place, as local problems might be dealt with before they become crises.

A last point. Repeatedly over the last century Americans averted their eyes in the belief that remote events elsewhere in the world need not engage this country. How could an assassination of an Austrian archduke in unknown Bosnia-Herzegovina effect us? Or the annexation of a little patch of ground called Sudetenland? Or a French defeat at a place called Dien Bien Phu? Or the return of an obscure cleric to Tehran? Or the radicalization of an Arab construction tycoon’s son?

What seems to work best in world affairs, historian Donald Kagan wrote in his book On the Origins of War, “Is the possession by those states who wish to preserve the peace of the preponderant power and of the will to accept the burdens and responsibilities required to achieve that purpose.”

In an address at Harvard in 1943, Winston Churchill said,
“The price of greatness is responsibility . . . The people of the United States cannot escape world responsibility.” And, in a speech at Princeton in 1947, Secretary of State and retired Army general George Marshall told the students: “The development of a sense of responsibility for world order and security, the development of a sense of overwhelming importance of this country’s acts, and failures to act, in relation to world order and security – these, in my opinion, are great musts for your generation.”
Our country has now for many decades taken upon itself great burdens and great responsibilities – all in an effort to defeat despotism in its many forms or to preserve the peace so that other nations, and other peoples, could pursue their dreams. For many decades, the tender shoots of freedom all around the world have been nourished with American blood. Today, across the globe, there are more people than ever seeking economic and political freedom – seeking hope even as oppressive regimes and mass murderers sow chaos in their midst – seeking always to shake free from the bonds of tyranny.

For all of those brave men and women struggling for a better life, there is – and must be – no stronger ally or advocate than the United States of America. Let us never forget that our nation remains a beacon of light for those in dark places. And that our responsibilities to the world – to freedom, to liberty, to the oppressed everywhere – are not a burden on the people or the soul of this nation. They are, rather, a blessing.

I will close with a message for students in the audience. The message is from Theodore Roosevelt, whose words ring as true today as when he delivered them in 1901. He said, “
…as, keen-eyed, we gaze into the coming years, duties, new and old, rise thick and fast to confront us from within and from without…[The United States] should face these duties with a sober appreciation alike of their importance and of their difficulty. But there is also every reason for facing them with high-hearted resolution and eager and confident faith in our capacity to do them aright.” He continued, “A great work lies ready to the hand of this generation; it should count itself happy indeed that to it is given the privilege of doing such a work.”
To the young future leaders of America here today, I say,
“Come do the great work that lies ready to the hand of your generation.”

Monday, November 26, 2007

Hollywood-these are your brains stuck on stupid:"Outside the Wire Beats Redacted"

Once upon a time, JD Johannes, USMC 1999, went to Iraq, solo, self financed, made a film that to date is beating the crap out of Hollywood war movie, Redacted, in sales. Hollywood can stay stuck on stupid and go the way of the dead tree media and the dinosaurs and the dodo and morph into compost.

J.D. Johannes:

"Brian DePalma's award winning anti-war movie earned $25,628.

It was made for $5,000,000.

That is .5% return of the initial investment.

My first documentary cost $35,000 to make, and thanks to the supporters of the Outside the Wire project, has made $23,464 or 67% return of the initial investment.

When one guy with a camera is beating Hollywood in rate of return and almost beating Hollywood in gross receipts--Hollywood has a problem."

Outside the Wire Buy the Movie here.

Late for Their Wedding-Won't Be Getting to the Church on Time


Abbas al-Dobbi, left, and al-Bahadli arrested for terrorism were part of a wedding convoy that didn't include any women or happy children. Suspicious soldiers ordered everyone out of the cars and discovered the unhappy bride with stubby cheeks at a Taji check point north of Baghdad.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Eng.Develops Formula to Improve Detection of IEDs

By Stephen Barr WASHPO

Joshua R. Fairley, an electrical engineer at the Army's Engineer Research and Development Center, developed a method for improving the detection of improvised explosive devices, or IEDs, improving the accuracy of sensor systems by 75 percent.

He's one of the young stars in the Defense Department's effort to harness computers and airborne sensors to find bombs and mines on and off the roads of Iraq.

"What we are trying to do in our work is to inform our commanders on what are the most optimal sensors to use, given the environment, weather conditions and time of day, that would lend itself to the best opportunity to detect that kind of threat," he said.

Fairley, 34, was honored this month with the Pentagon's David O. Cooke Excellence in Public Administration Award, given annually to an up-and-coming civil service employee who is dedicated to improving programs in the Defense Department.

The award is named after the legendary "mayor of the Pentagon," as Cooke was known, who died in 2002 after being injured in an automobile accident. Until he was selected, Fairley did not know that he had been nominated for the award, which was presented Nov. 7 by Gordon England, the deputy secretary of defense.

The research conducted by Fairley and his colleagues at the Army center illustrates the increasing importance of technology to battlefield personnel. In Vicksburg, Fairley has access to the Defense Department's largest high-performance computing center, which has a Cray XT3 supercomputer, capable of performing 40 trillion calculations per second.

In his work, Fairley used computers to develop a virtual environment similar to what pilots see when they are in flight simulators. Fairley's virtual world recreated rural and urban scenes in three dimensions, featuring highly detailed images of walls, buildings, vehicles and other objects, and accurately rendered soil, asphalt and concrete.

He then took the characteristics of sensors, which are deployed on aircraft and in space, to scan terrain for explosive devices and put them into his virtual world, collecting data on how they worked under different weather conditions and even the time of day.

That allowed him to develop a formula that gauged the accuracy of those airborne sensors. The process essentially reduces the number of times that the sensors trigger a false alarm, helping troops on the ground be more effective in finding or avoiding IEDs.

With Fairley's breakthrough, the sensors are successful 75 percent of the time and Fairley said he believes technology will improve the detection rate to 90 percent. His formula also has given a boost to companies that make detection equipment, "helping them develop sensors that are more focused to identify these kinds of threats," Fairley said.

Fairley also was honored for developing software that has contributed to the safety of Defense personnel. As part of the effort to protect military installations from terrorist attack, Fairley created a method for testing a newly designed barrier system that can withstand high-impact crashes. The new design helps the barrier system blend into its surroundings, a goal of the project.

Friday, November 23, 2007

Stuck on Stupid, Again

Once more to the peace tables, again. Once more Dubya and Rice plead with the adolescents of perpetual petulance-those out of touch anachronisms from the 7th century to behave by forcing Israel to surrender. It's all for naught. Israel will not submit to being bulldozed into the sea.

Column One: American folly

The mood is dark in the IDF's General Staff ahead of next week's "peace" conference in Annapolis. As one senior officer directly involved in the negotiations with the Palestinians and the Americans said, "As bad as it might look from the outside, the truth is 10 times worse. This is a nightmare. The Americans have never been so hostile."

On Thursday a draft of the joint statement that Israeli and Palestinian negotiators are discussing ahead of the conference was leaked to the media. A reading of the document bears out the IDF's concerns.

The draft document shows that the Palestinians and the Israelis differ not only on every issue, but differ on the purpose of the document. It also shows that the US firmly backs the Palestinians against Israel.

As the draft document makes clear, Israel is trying to avoid committing itself to anything at Annapolis. For their part, the Palestinians are trying to force Israel's hand by tying it to diplomatic formulas that presuppose an Israeli withdrawal to the 1949 armistice lines and an Israeli acceptance of the so-called "right of return" or free immigration of foreign Arabs to Israel.

The Palestinians are also trying to take away Israel's right to determine for itself whether to trust the Palestinians and continue making diplomatic and security concessions or not by making it the responsibility of outside parties to decide the pace of the concessions and whether or not the Palestinians should be trusted.

As the leaked draft document shows, the Americans have sided with the Palestinians against Israel. Specifically, the Americans have taken for themselves the sole right to judge whether or not the Palestinians and the Israelis are abiding by their commitments and whether and at what pace the negotiations will proceed.

But the Americans have shown themselves to be unworthy of Israel's trust. By refusing to acknowledge Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas's Fatah party's direct involvement in terrorism and indeed the direct involvement of his official Fatah "security forces" in terrorism, the Americans have shown that their benchmarks for Palestinian compliance with their commitments to Israel are not necessarily based on the reality on the ground. Then too, the US demands for wide-ranging Israeli security concessions to the Palestinians even before the "peace" conference at Annapolis have shown that Israel's security is of little concern to the State Department.

IDF sources blame the shooting murder of Ido Zoldan on Monday night by Fatah terrorists on Israel's decision to bow to Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice's demand to take down 24 security roadblocks in Judea and Samaria. If it hadn't been for US pressure, they say, it is quite possible that the 29-year-old father of two small children would be alive today.

But this is of no concern for Washington. As Rice has made clear repeatedly, the US wants to see "signs of progress." Since the Palestinians are taking no action against terror and doing nothing to lessen their society's jihadist fervor, the only way to achieve "signs of progress" is by forcing Israel to make concessions to the Palestinians. And so that is exactly what Rice and her associates are doing.

Rice is able to force Israel to accept her demands because she faces the weakest Israeli leaders the country has ever produced. Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni and Defense Minister Ehud Barak are all incapable of standing up to the Americans or even arguing with them. Olmert's and Livni's weakness has been apparent since their mishandling of the war with Hizbullah last summer and their negotiations over the cease-ire agreement with Rice. For his part, throughout his brief and disastrous tenure as prime minister, Barak behaved as though he were then president Bill Clinton's employee.

BUT IF Olmert's, Livni's and Barak's willingness to compromise their nation's security is a function of their weakness, what explains Rice's and Bush's behavior? Why are they weakening Israel and pushing for the establishment of yet another Middle Eastern terror state? What US interest do they think they are advancing by acting as they are? Over the past several weeks, a number of theories have been raised to explain their behavior. The most frequent explanation is that Rice and Bush are championing Palestinian statehood at Israel's expense in a bid to mobilize a coalition of Sunni Arab states to cooperate with the US against Iran.

According to this theory, if Annapolis is seen as a success, then the Arab states will be convinced that the US is worth supporting on Iran. This theory has several flaws. First, as the US's treatment of Israel makes clear, success in Annapolis involves weakening Israel whose destruction Iran seeks and empowering the Palestinians whom Iran supports. This means that far from weakening Iran, success at Annapolis advances Iran's interests.

But beyond that, whether wittingly or unwittingly, by convening the conference next week, the Bush administration has directly empowered Iran. Today the determination of whether the administration emerges unscathed or humiliated from Annapolis is entirely in Iran's hands. Iran will decide whether the conference opens and closes peacefully or whether it is convened as Lebanon is submerged in civil war by Iran's proxies Syria and Hizbullah.

According to the Lebanese constitution, Saturday is the last day on which a new Lebanese president can be elected. Lebanon's president must be elected by two-thirds of the members of Lebanon's parliament. Through their campaign of assassination, Syria and Hizbullah have taken away the two-thirds majority that anti-Syrian forces won in the 2005 elections. As a result, Hizbullah has veto power over the election. And so far, Iran and Syria have refused to allow Hizbullah to back any candidate. This is the case despite the anti-Syrian majority's willingness to support a pro-Syrian presidential candidate.

Due to the Iranian-Syrian induced impasse, today there are two possible scenarios for what may happen in the next few days in Lebanon. Either Iran and Syria will allow elections to take place and an agent of their regimes and Hizbullah will take over the presidency, or elections will not take place and two governments - one anti-Syrian under Prime Minister Fuad Siniora and one pro-Syrian - will be formed. The pro-Syrian government will be supported by Hizbullah and the Lebanese army. The anti-Syrian government will be supported by Christian, Sunni and Druse militias. A civil war will ensue. Syria, Hizbullah and Iran will win.

In a bid to induce the first scenario, Bush has been lobbying every leader he can think of to appeal to Teheran and Damascus to relent and allow elections to go through. To this end, he even asked their primary arms supplier Russian President Vladimir Putin to intervene. Olmert's decision to allow Fatah security forces to receive 25 advanced Russian armored personnel carriers in spite of IDF objections was no doubt a consequence of Bush's appeal to Putin for help.

If the Americans believe the key to countering Iran is to build an anti-Iranian Arab coalition, the crisis in Lebanon shows just how futile their efforts are. Just as the Sunni Arab states oppose Iran acquiring nuclear weapons, so they oppose Iranian control over Lebanon. Yet in spite of this, they have done nothing to prevent Iran and its proxies from taking control of the country. To the contrary, the Saudis have encouraged the Siniora government to support pro-Syrian candidates for the presidency.

So if the administration has decided to embrace the Palestinians as a means of weakening Iran, its decision is wrong on three counts. First, given Iran's support for the Palestinians, empowering them against Israel simply advances Iran's interest. Second, the Annapolis conference has become a hostage of Iranian goodwill which is non-existent. And finally, even if it were formed, an anti-Iranian Arab coalition would be powerless to check Iran's power.

EVEN THOUGH the summit at Annapolis weakens the US's position vis-à-vis Iran, it might still make sense for Bush and Rice to support Palestinian statehood if doing so enhanced public support for the administration. But the opposite is occurring. Bush's and Rice's seeming obsession with Palestinian statehood is being criticized from all sides of the aisle.

Critics on the left like New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman and former Clinton negotiator and Palestinian apologist Robert Malley have expressed mystification at the administration's insistent advance of negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians when there is no chance that those negotiations will bring peace. So too, over the past few weeks, four Republican presidential candidates - Rudy Giuliani, Mitt Romney, John McCain and Fred Thompson - have criticized Bush's and Rice's Palestinian policies generally and the convening of the conference at Annapolis in particular.

There is also the theory that the pair's primary concern in pushing for Palestinian statehood is their legacies. Rice's stated intention of seeing a Palestinian state declared before Bush leaves office lends weight to this view. But of course, given that the maximum that Israel is willing to concede to the Palestinians is less than the minimum that the Palestinians are willing to accept, and given that the Olmert government will be brought down if Olmert agrees to any major concessions, it is clear that there is no chance that Rice will succeed.

Finally there is the thought that Rice and Bush understand that there is no chance of achieving peace, but that they think that their legacies will be strengthened just for having tried. After all, Bill Clinton is remembered well for his attempts to achieve peace between Israel and the Palestinians in spite of the fact that his attempts brought war rather than peace. But Clinton's example is no longer applicable because the conditions under which Clinton pursued peace were far different than those that exist today.

Clinton's peace policies caused a war that began only at the end of his presidency. Until then, they seemed like relatively safe and cost-free moves. On the other hand, Bush's presidency has occurred in its entirety against the backdrop of the Palestinian jihad. Every attempt he has made at peacemaking, from the Tenet Plan through the road map and Sharm e-Sheikh and onto Annapolis, has been blown apart through violence before it could get off the ground.

So then there is no good excuse for the Bush administration's decision to embrace the Palestinians at Israel's expense. It all comes down to Bush and Rice not thinking through the consequences of their moves.

It is a singular tragedy that Israel's elected leaders are too weak to make them understand that by harming Israel, they are harming the United States and making fools of themselves.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

POTUS Thanksgiving Day Msg 2007 To All Our Troops All Over the World fighting the godless orcs

THE PRESIDENT: Thank you all. Thanks very much. Thanks for the warm welcome. I am proud to be back in the great state of Virginia. I particularly appreciate the chance to visit Berkeley Plantation. I thank the good people who care for this historic treasure. Over the years, Presidents have visited Berkeley. President William Henry Harrison called it home. As a matter of fact, it was here where he composed the longest inauguration speech in history. (Laughter.) He went on for nearly two hours. You don't need to worry; I'm not going to try to one-up him today. (Laughter.)

President George W. Bush talks with 85-year-old Doris Lewis Monday, Nov. 19, 2007, during a stop at the Central Virginia Community Food Bank in Richmond, Va. "You have a sweet heart," the President told the volunteer, who was celebrating her birthday at the warehouse. White House photo by Chris Greenberg Berkeley also claims to be the site of America's first official Thanksgiving. (Applause.) The good folks here say that the founders of Berkeley held their celebration before the Pilgrims had even left port. (Applause.) As you can imagine, this version of events is not very popular up north. (Laughter.) But even the administration of President Kennedy -- a son of Massachusetts -- recognized Berkeley's role in this important holiday. And so this afternoon, I've come to honor Berkeley's history -- and to continue the great American tradition of giving thanks. (Applause.)

Laura sends her best. Most people say, I wish she'd have come and not you. (Laughter.) She's doing just fine and I know she is going to be envious when I describe how beautiful this part of the country is. And I thank you for giving me a chance to come.

I want to thank my friend, Tom Saunders, who is the founder of the Saunders Trust for American History at the New York Historical Society -- that means he and his and wife, Jordan, are raising money to make sure this site is as beautiful as it is and stays an important part of our history and legacy. (Applause.)

I thank Judy and Jamie Jamieson, who happen to be the owners of this beautiful site. And I appreciate your hospitality. (Applause.) I can't help but recognize my daughter's future father-in-law -- (laughter) -- I appreciate you coming. (Applause.) A lot of people think she's showed some pretty good common sense to marry somebody from Virginia. (Applause.) He's doing all right, himself.

I appreciate the fact that the Congressman from this district, Congressman Bobby Scott is with us. Thanks for coming, Bobby. (Applause.) Congressman Eric Cantor from Richmond is with us. (Applause.) And Congressman Randy Forbes; appreciate you coming, Randy. (Applause.) I want to thank the Lieutenant Governor, Bill Bolling, for joining us. Thank you for coming, Governor. (Applause.) Bob McDonnell, the Attorney General; General, I appreciate you being here. (Applause.) I had the honor of meeting the High Sheriff. Sheriff, thank you and your law enforcement officials. I'm proud to be with you. I want to thank all the local officeholders and state officeholders. And most of all, thank you for letting me come by and I appreciate you coming. (Applause.)

President George W. Bush talks with Linda Barnes, a volunteer, during his visit Monday, Nov. 19, 2007, to the Central Virginia Community Food Bank in Richmond, Va. With him, at right, are: Fay Lohr, Chief Executive Officer for the food bank, and Freedom Corps volunteer Paul Anderson. White House photo by Chris Greenberg Every November, we celebrate the traditions of Thanksgiving; we're fixing to do so again. We remember that the Pilgrims gave thanks after their first harvest in New England. We remember that George Washington led his men in thanksgiving during the American Revolution. And we remember that Abraham Lincoln revived the Thanksgiving tradition in the midst of a bloody civil war.

Yet few Americans remember much about Berkeley. They don't know the story of the Berkeley Thanksgiving. This story has its beginnings in the founding of the colony of Virginia four centuries ago. As the colony grew, settlers ventured beyond the walls of Jamestown, and into the surrounding countryside. The Berkeley Company of England acquired 8,000 acres of nearby land, and commissioned an expedition to settle it.

In 1619, a band of 38 settlers departed Bristol, England for Berkeley aboard a ship like the one behind me. At the end of their long voyage, the men reviewed their orders from home. And here's what the orders said: "The day of our ship's arrival h shall be yearly and perpetually kept holy as a day of Thanksgiving to Almighty God." (Applause.) Upon hearing those orders, the men fell to their knees in prayer. And with this humble act of faith, the settlers celebrated their first Thanksgiving in the New World.

In the years that followed, the settlers at Berkeley faced many hardships. And in 1622, the settlement was destroyed. Berkeley became a successful plantation after it was rebuilt, when people returned to this site. And it is an important part of our history. And as we look back on the story of Berkeley, we remember that we live in a land of many blessings.

The story of Berkeley reminds us that we live in a land of opportunity. We remember that the settlers at Berkeley came to America with the hope of building a better life. And we remember that immigrants in every generation have followed in their footsteps. Their dreams have helped transform 13 small colonies into a large and growing nation of more than 300 million people.

Today, America we're blessed with great prosperity. We're blessed with farmers and ranchers who provide us with abundant food. We're blessed with the world's finest workers; with entrepreneurs who create new jobs. We're blessed with devoted teachers who prepare our children for the opportunities of tomorrow. We're blessed with a system of free enterprise that makes it possible for people of all backgrounds to rise in society and realize their dreams. These blessings have helped us build a strong and growing economy -- and these blessings have filled our lives with hope.

President George W. Bush speaks with actors Jim Curtis and Mattie Jones during his visit Monday, Nov. 19, 2007, to the Thanksgiving Shrine at Berkeley Plantation in Charles City, Virginia. The President made his Thanksgiving remarks at the landmark first settled in 1619 by Englishman and Capt. John Woodlief. White House photo by Chris Greenberg The story of Berkeley reminds us that we live in a nation dedicated to liberty. In 1776, Berkeley's owner, Benjamin Harrison, became one of the 56 signers of the Declaration of Independence. In the Declaration, we see the founders' great hope for our country, their conviction that we're all created equal, with the God-given right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

At times, America has fallen short of these ideals. We remember that the expansion of our country came at a terrible cost to Native American tribes. We remember that many people came to the New World in chains rather than by choice. For many years, slaves were held against their will here at Berkeley and other plantations -- and their bondage is a shameful chapter in our nation's history.

Today, we're grateful to live in a more perfect union. Yet our society still faces divisions that hold us back. These divisions have roots in the bitter experiences of our past -- and have no place in America's future. (Applause.) The work of realizing the ideals of our founding continues. And we must not rest until the promise of America is real for all our citizens.

We're also grateful to live in a time when freedom is taking hold in places where liberty was once unimaginable. Since the beginning of the 1980s, the number of democracies in the world has more than doubled. From our own history, we know these young democracies will face challenges and setbacks in the journey ahead. Yet as they travel the road to freedom, they must know that they will have a constant and reliable friend in the United States of America. (Applause.)

The story of Berkeley reminds us to honor those who have sacrificed in the cause of freedom. During the Civil War, Union forces at Berkeley adopted a nightly bugle call that has echoed throughout the ages. The bugle call has become known as "Taps." And when we hear it play, we remember that the freedoms we enjoyed have come at a heavy price.

Today, the men and women of the United States Armed Forces are taking risks for our freedom. They're fighting on the front lines of the war on terror, the war against extremists and radicals who would do us more harm. Many of them will spend Thanksgiving far from the comforts of home. And so we thank them for their service and sacrifice. We keep their families and loved ones in our prayers. We pray for the families who lost a loved one in this fight against the extremists and radicals, and we vow that their sacrifice will not be in vain.

This Thanksgiving, we pay tribute to all Americans who serve a cause larger than themselves. We are thankful for the police officers who patrol our streets. We're thankful for the firefighters who protect our homes and property. We're thankful for the leaders of our churches and synagogues and all faith-based organizations that call us to live lives of charity. We're thankful of the ordinary citizens who become good Samaritans in times of distress.

This Thanksgiving, we remember the many examples of the good heart of the American people that we have seen this past year: We remember the Virginia Tech professor who died blocking a gunman from entering his classroom. (Applause.) As a survivor of the Holocaust, Professor Liviu Librescu had seen the worst of humanity -- yet through his sacrifice, he showed us the best. (Applause.)

We remember the Minneapolis man who was escorting a busload of children when the bridge underneath them collapsed. Jeremy Hernandez responded to this emergency with courage. He broke open the backdoor of the bus and he helped lead every child on board to safety.

We remember the people in New Orleans who are rebuilding a great American city. One of them is Principal Doris Hicks. After Katrina, many said that her school could never return to its building in the Lower Ninth Ward. But Principal Hicks had a different point of view; she had a different attitude. As a matter of fact, she had a uniquely American attitude. She had a vision for a resurgent community with a vibrant school at its heart. This summer the Dr. Martin Luther King, Junior Charter School for Science and Technology became the first public school to reopen in the Lower Ninth Ward. (Applause.)

These stories remind us that our nation's greatest strength is the decency and compassion of our people. As we count our many blessings, I encourage all Americans to show their thanks by giving back. You know, I just visited the Central Virginia Foodbank. If you're living in Richmond and you want to give back, help the Central Virginia Foodbank. The volunteers there help prepare thousands of meals for the poor each day. And in so doing, they make the Richmond community and our nation a more hopeful place. And there are many ways to spread hope this holiday -- volunteer in a shelter, mentor a child, help an elderly neighbor, say thanks to one who wears our nation's uniform. (Applause.)

In the four centuries since the founders of Berkeley first knelt on these grounds, our nation has changed in many ways. Our people have prospered, our nation has grown, our Thanksgiving traditions have evolved -- after all, they didn't have football back then. (Laughter.) Yet the source of all our blessings remains the same: We give thanks to the Author of Life who granted our forefathers safe passage to this land, who gives every man, woman, and child on the face of the Earth the gift of freedom, and who watches over our nation every day. (Applause.)

I wish you all a safe and happy Thanksgiving. I offer Thanksgiving greetings to every American citizen. May God bless you, and may God continue to bless the United States of America.