June 30, 2005
All the Right Enemies II
Well, well, so the liberals are all in a huff over President Bush' mention of 9/11 in his speech Tuesday night.
Fine. What's important is who is upset, and who is happy. The invaluable Victor Davis Hanson pointed this out some time ago in a must-read article.
And it appears that all the right people are upset. All those who I never agree with anyway didn't like it.
Such as David Gergen, the man who will serve in any administration as long as they stroke his ego.
Like the Washington Post, who is still off on the bogus he "missed an opportunity to fully level with Americans" line that I dealt with a post or so ago.
Like the New York Times, which makes the Post look positively reactionary by comparison. Their editorial is beyond pathetic.
Like the Democrat's response to the speech. That they don't get it has been obvious for a long time.
The editors of National Review, typically, do:
The September 11 attacks were so important and so horrific that they never should be mentioned again. That at least seems to be the position of the Left and establishment media. Images of the planes hitting the towers on that day have been all but banned from the public airwaves. And the president of the United States cannot mention 9/11 when explaining the stakes in a fight against jihadists supported by Osama bin Laden in Iraq without prompting howls of outrage. Bush was absolutely justified in invoking repeatedly Sept. 11 and the fight against terrorism in his speech from Fort Bragg Tuesday night. Let's count the ways:
There never would have been an Iraq war without 9/11, which drastically reduced the country's tolerance for a hostile Arab who had sought weapons of mass destruction before and was likely to do so again.
Saddam's regime had a web of connections to Islamic extremists and terrorists, as explained by Andy McCarthy elsewhere on NRO.
Foreign jihadists are now pouring into Iraq to fight on behalf of Abu Zarqawi, who has explicitly allied himself with Osama bin Laden, the mastermind of the Sept. 11 attacks. The case for a connection between the Iraq war and the sort of terrorists who perpetrated 9/11 is — sadly — stronger than ever.
Bin Laden himself has, as Bush noted Tuesday night, called the Iraq war a crucial front in the war on terror. He has said that the war will end in “victory and glory or misery and humiliation.”
If we lose in Iraq, a Sunni rump state could emerge that would provide a haven for terrorists, the same way Afghanistan provided a haven for the 9/11 terrorists.
If we fail in Iraq, it will be a blow to America's prestige. One reason the terrorists struck on 9/11 is that they thought America was weak and making it bleed would prompt it to abandon its allies in the Middle East. The signal of weakness sent by a loss in Iraq wouldn't placate our enemies, but invite more attacks.
Supporters of a radical Islamic ideology struck American on 9/11. The war on terror is not a fight against a tactic (as the name falsely suggests), but against that ideology. The appeal of an ideology ebbs and flows with perceptions of its success. Communism advanced in the third world after its victory in Vietnam. The Islamists would get a similar boost if they were to prevail in Iraq.
Competing interpretations of Islam are at war in Iraq — that of Aytollah Sistani, who says Islam is compatible with democracy, and that of Zarqawi, who believes like bin Laden and the 9/11 hijackers that Islam is a religion of violence. It is imperative that Sistani win out.
Islamic extremists justifiably fear a Middle East that turns away from radicalism and anti-Americanism. Victory in Iraq will be a step toward that goal.
In short, not only was it defensible for Bush to talk of 9/11 Tuesday night, it would be impossible for him to make the case for the Iraq war without reference to it. The war on terror began in earnest on that day, and Iraq is properly understood as a front in that larger, necessary war.
As mentioned by the NR editors, Andrew McCarthy outlined the links between Saddam and terrorism (for the umpteenth time, one might add):
It is not the war for democratization. It is not the war for stability. Democratization and stability are not unimportant. They are among a host of developments that could help defeat the enemy.
But they are not the primary goal of this war, which is to destroy the network of Islamic militants who declared war against the United States when they bombed the World Trade Center on February 26, 1993, and finally jarred us into an appropriate response when they demolished that complex, struck the Pentagon, and killed 3000 of us on September 11, 2001.
That is why we are in Iraq.
On September 12, 2001, no one in America cared about whether there would be enough Sunni participation in a fledgling Iraqi democracy if Saddam were ever toppled. No one in lower Manhattan cared whether the electricity would work in Baghdad, or whether Muqtada al-Sadr’s Shiite militia could be coaxed into a political process. They cared about smashing terrorists and the states that supported them for the purpose of promoting American national security.
Saddam Hussein’s regime was a crucial part of that response because it was a safety net for al Qaeda. A place where terror attacks against the United States and the West were planned. A place where Saddam’s intelligence service aided and abetted al Qaeda terrorists planning operations. A place where terrorists could hide safely between attacks. A place where terrorists could lick their wounds. A place where committed terrorists could receive vital training in weapons construction and paramilitary tactics. In short, a platform of precisely the type without which an international terror network cannot succeed.
On that score, nobody should worry about anything the Times or David Gergen or Senator Reid has to say about all this until they have some straight answers on questions like these. What does the “nothing whatsoever” crowd have to say about:
Ahmed Hikmat Shakir — the Iraqi Intelligence operative who facilitated a 9/11 hijacker into Malaysia and was in attendance at the Kuala Lampur meeting with two of the hijackers, and other conspirators, at what is roundly acknowledged to be the initial 9/11 planning session in January 2000? Who was arrested after the 9/11 attacks in possession of contact information for several known terrorists? Who managed to make his way out of Jordanian custody over our objections after the 9/11 attacks because of special pleading by Saddam’s regime?
Saddam's intelligence agency's efforts to recruit jihadists to bomb Radio Free Europe in Prague in the late 1990's?
Mohammed Atta's unexplained visits to Prague in 2000, and his alleged visit there in April 2001 which — notwithstanding the 9/11 Commission's dismissal of it (based on interviewing exactly zero relevant witnesses) — the Czechs have not retracted?
The Clinton Justice Department's allegation in a 1998 indictment (two months before the embassy bombings) against bin Laden, to wit: In addition, al Qaeda reached an understanding with the government of Iraq that al Qaeda would not work against that government and that on particular projects, specifically including weapons development, al Qaeda would work cooperatively with the Government of Iraq.
Seized Iraq Intelligence Service records indicating that Saddam's henchmen regarded bin Laden as an asset as early as 1992?
Saddam's hosting of al Qaeda No. 2, Ayman Zawahiri beginning in the early 1990’s, and reports of a large payment of money to Zawahiri in 1998?
Saddam’s ten years of harboring of 1993 World Trade Center bomber Abdul Rahman Yasin?
Iraqi Intelligence Service operatives being dispatched to meet with bin Laden in Afghanistan in 1998 (the year of bin Laden’s fatwa demanding the killing of all Americans, as well as the embassy bombings)?
Saddam’s official press lionizing bin Laden as “an Arab and Islamic hero” following the 1998 embassy bombing attacks?
The continued insistence of high-ranking Clinton administration officials to the 9/11 Commission that the 1998 retaliatory strikes (after the embassy bombings) against a Sudanese pharmaceutical factory were justified because the factory was a chemical weapons hub tied to Iraq and bin Laden?
Top Clinton administration counterterrorism official Richard Clarke’s assertions, based on intelligence reports in 1999, that Saddam had offered bin Laden asylum after the embassy bombings, and Clarke’s memo to then-National Security Adviser Sandy Berger, advising him not to fly U-2 missions against bin Laden in Afghanistan because he might be tipped off by Pakistani Intelligence, and “[a]rmed with that knowledge, old wily Usama will likely boogie to Baghdad”? (See 9/11 Commission Final Report, p. 134 & n.135.)
Terror master Abu Musab Zarqawi's choice to boogie to Baghdad of all places when he needed surgery after fighting American forces in Afghanistan in 2001?
Saddam's Intelligence Service running a training camp at Salman Pak, were terrorists were instructed in tactics for assassination, kidnapping and hijacking?
Former CIA Director George Tenet’s October 7, 2002 letter to Congress, which asserted: Our understanding of the relationship between Iraq and Al Qaeda is evolving and is based on sources of varying reliability. Some of the information we have received comes from detainees, including some of high rank.
We have solid reporting of senior level contacts between Iraq and Al Qaeda going back a decade.
Credible information indicates that Iraq and Al Qaeda have discussed safe haven and reciprocal nonaggression.
Since Operation Enduring Freedom, we have solid evidence of the presence in Iraq of Al Qaeda members, including some that have been in Baghdad.
We have credible reporting that Al Qaeda leaders sought contacts in Iraq who could help them acquire WMD capabilities. The reporting also stated that Iraq has provided training to Al Qaeda members in the areas of poisons and gases and making conventional bombs.
Iraq's increasing support to extremist Palestinians coupled with growing indications of relationship with Al Qaeda suggest that Baghdad's links to terrorists will increase, even absent U.S. military action.
There's more. Stephen Hayes’s book, The Connection, remains required reading. But these are just the questions; the answers — if someone will just investigate the questions rather than pretending there’s “nothing whatsoever” there — will provide more still.
So Gergen, Reid, the Times, and the rest are “offended” at the president's reminding us of 9/11? The rest of us should be offended, too. Offended at the “nothing whatsoever” crowd’s inexplicable lack of curiosity about these ties, and about the answers to these questions.
Just tell us one thing: Do you have any good answer to what Ahmed Hikmat Shakir was doing with the 9/11 hijackers in Kuala Lampur? Can you explain it?
If not, why aren't you moving heaven and earth to find out the answer?
I was doing a google search for some other information and look at what I found. The article, by CNS, is about a year old, so is not exactly news. But as with the information above, it is useful to throw at people who still insist that there were few ties between Saddam and terrorism:
Iraqi intelligence documents, confiscated by U.S. forces and obtained by CNSNews.com, show numerous efforts by Saddam Hussein's regime to work with some of the world's most notorious terror organizations, including al Qaeda, to target Americans. They demonstrate that Saddam's government possessed mustard gas and anthrax, both considered weapons of mass destruction, in the summer of 2000, during the period in which United Nations weapons inspectors were not present in Iraq. And the papers show that Iraq trained dozens of terrorists inside its borders.
One of the Iraqi memos contains an order from Saddam for his intelligence service to support terrorist attacks against Americans in Somalia. The memo was written nine months before U.S. Army Rangers were ambushed in Mogadishu by forces loyal to a warlord with alleged ties to al Qaeda.
Other memos provide a list of terrorist groups with whom Iraq had relationships and considered available for terror operations against the United States.
Among the organizations mentioned are those affiliated with Abu Musab al-Zarqawi and Ayman al-Zawahiri, two of the world's most wanted terrorists.
As always, read the whole thing.
June 28, 2005
The Speech Kerry wanted Bush to Give
And here, in the New York Times, is the speech that John Kerry says the president should have given:
The reality is that the Bush administration's choices have made Iraq into what it wasn't before the war - a breeding ground for jihadists. Today there are 16,000 to 20,000 jihadists and the number is growing. The administration has put itself - and, tragically, our troops, who pay the price every day - in a box of its own making. Getting out of this box won't be easy, but we owe it to our soldiers to make our best effort.
So getting out is the objective? No, fool, winning is the objective.
So what should the president say tonight? The first thing he should do is tell the truth to the American people. Happy talk about the insurgency being in "the last throes" leads to frustrated expectations at home.
I covered this lie in the post below. What he really wants is the president to say that we're losing, so that he can have his Vietnam II.
The president must also announce immediately that the United States will not have a permanent military presence in Iraq. Erasing suspicions that the occupation is indefinite is critical to eroding support for the insurgency.
The president has only said this about a million times.
And the insurgent terrorists hate us and the new Iraqi government because it represents democracy, an idea that is antithetical to their Jihadist fanatacism.
He should also say that the United States will insist that the Iraqis establish a truly inclusive political process and meet the deadlines for finishing the Constitution and holding elections in December.
Someone get this guy a newspaper subscription.
He also needs to put the training of Iraqi troops on a true six-month wartime footing and ensure that the Iraqi government has the budget needed to deploy them.
Ditto my last comment.
The administration must immediately draw up a detailed plan with clear milestones and deadlines for the transfer of military and police responsibilities to Iraqis after the December elections. The plan should be shared with Congress.
Why, so your pals can compare it to concentration camps and gulags?
Iraq's Sunni neighbors, who complain they are left out, could do more to help.
Uh, like the Saudis? Oh yeah, that'll help. The Saudis are well-known promoters of democracy. None of their people ever commit terrorist acts.
Further, does he not realize that Sunni troops would inflame the Shi'ites? Sure "Sunni" Arab countries want to send in troops. They want to "protect" their co-religionists. These Sunni nations; Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Kuwait, Syria, are not exactly known for promoting democracy. Far from helping the situation, they would make it worse.
The next months are critical to Iraq's future and our security.
Yes they are. And thank heaven that since you weren't elected president Iraq stands a chance.
The President's Speech
The short version is simple - the president hit a home run.
The longer take is to ask why he doesn't do this more often. When he wants to be on he's on. There are other times, like during the first two debates with John Kerry, that he looked positively aweful. Ok, he only looked aweful in the first debate. Bad enough.
The most telling aspect is how members of the military feel. After the speech Carl Cameron, of Fox News, talked about the audience. It was made up of members of the 82nd airborne, as well as some special ops forces at Fort Bragg, where the president spoke.
Cameron told of how they had been admonished beforehand by their officers not to clap or cheer during the speech, as it wasn't appropriate for this type of speech. It was obvious, however, he said, that they were full of approval and about ready to burst from holding back. At one point, some GOP staffers at the back of the room clapped after Bush made a point, and they took this as a signal to let loose.
The point is obvious; if we're in such an unwinnable quagmire in Iraq, don't you think that members of the military would be the first to know? The enlisted and junior officers, I mean, not the generals.
Let's go into what Bush actually said tonight.
You can find the entire text here.
At this point let me say that I'm not going to rehash the history of our involvement in Iraq, as I've done that so many times on this blog interested parties can do the research themselves.
The bottom line is that Bush didn't pull any punches tonight. He didn't sugarcoat the situation, but neither did he (nor should he) apologize for mistakes. He didn't give an inch, nor should he have
What the Liberals Wanted
The latest lie from the left is that "the president needs to come clean with the American people".
Let me translate this into English: "We want the president to apologize and say he's sorry for invading Iraq. We also want him to say that we're losing the war and that we should pull out our troops."
Our president's not stupid enough to give the libs what they want. Instead, tonight he basically threw it in their faces. Good for him.
And good for us. Because like all people, Americans don't want some wishy-washy "maybe we'll be able to do this maybe not, and gee I'm sorry won't you please forgive me" weakness. We had our fill of that with Jimmy Carter. Americans like strength and resolve, just like the Brits did some sixty-five years ago.
Building up the Iraqi Forces
Today Iraq has more than 160,000 security forces trained and equipped for a variety of missions. Iraqi forces have fought bravely — helping to capture terrorists and insurgents in Najaf, Samarra, Fallujah, and Mosul. And in the past month, Iraqi forces have led a major anti-terrorist campaign in Baghdad called Operation Lightning — which has led to the capture of hundreds of suspected insurgents. Like free people everywhere, Iraqis want to be defended by their own countrymen — and we are helping Iraqis assume those duties.
No doubt that the naysayers will dispute the figure cited above. And they'll be partially correct.
But am I the only one to notice that the left has totally ignored the sacrifice of the Iraqis? This first hit me during the vice-presidential debate, when Cheney rightfully admonished Senator Edwards over this issue. And they still haven't learned.
Why We are There
Iraq is the latest battlefield in this war. Many terrorists who kill innocent men, women, and children on the streets of Baghdad are followers of the same murderous ideology that took the lives of our citizens in New York, Washington, and Pennsylvania. There is only one course of action against them: to defeat them abroad before they attack us at home. The commander in charge of Coalition operations in Iraq — who is also senior commander at this base — General John Vines, put it well the other day. He said: “We either deal with terrorism and this extremism abroad, or we deal with it when it comes to us.”
Yes yes, we all know that we didn't find any of the WMD that we expected that we would. But I've dealt with the idiotic Bush Lied! nonsense extensively in other posts.
The fact is that without the invasion of Iraq a huge cancer would still be festering in the Middle East, one that stymied pluralistic government and supported terrorism (again, I've covered this).
The Idiocy of a Deadline
Some contend that we should set a deadline for withdrawing U.S. forces. Let me explain why that would be a serious mistake. Setting an artificial timetable would send the wrong message to the Iraqis — who need to know that America will not leave before the job is done. It would send the wrong message to our troops — who need to know that we are serious about completing the mission they are risking their lives to achieve. And it would send the wrong message to the enemy — who would know that all they have to do is to wait us out. We will stay in Iraq as long as we are needed — and not a day longer.
Well of course. To anyone who wants to win the war this is obvious. Hmmm. That would mean that anyone who does not see this...wants us to lose. Or just doesn't care.
After two long years, the Iraqis more and more are standing with us, or at least against the terrorists (two different things, I know, but for purposes of winning the war the same thing). As one commenter on lgf said, "They want an exit strategy? That's it, when the Iraqis are ready to stand alone we leave."
or, in a slightly more colorful comment:
Dec 7 1942. White House press conference.
A CNN reporter askes: President Rosevelt, we have been fighting Germany and Japan for a year now. This is clearly a quagmire. What is you exit strategy for bringing the troops home?
FDR replies: Whats my exit strategy? Win you stupid f**k, by any means necessary!
I swear I laughed so hard I almost dropped the laptop when I read that one. BTW, you've got to follow lgf during these events.
FINALLY; the "I" Word
After two years of using the somewhat nonsensical "War on Terror", the president told it like it is:
Some of the violence you see in Iraq is being carried out by ruthless killers who are converging on Iraq to fight the advance of peace and freedom. Our military reports that we have killed or captured hundreds of foreign fighters in Iraq who have come from Saudi Arabia, Syria, Iran, Egypt, Sudan, Yemen, Libya and other nations. They are making common cause with criminal elements, Iraqi insurgents, and remnants of Saddam Hussein’s regime who want to restore the old order. They fight because they know that the survival of their hateful ideology is at stake. They know that as freedom takes root in Iraq, it will inspire millions across the Middle East to claim their liberty as well. And when the Middle East grows in democracy, prosperity, and hope, the terrorists will lose their sponsors, lose their recruits, and lose their hopes for turning that region into a base for attacks on America and our allies around the world.
Some wonder whether Iraq is a central front in the war on terror. Among the terrorists, there is no debate. Hear the words of Osama Bin Laden: “This Third World War … is raging” in Iraq. “The whole world is watching this war.” He says it will end in “victory and glory or misery and humiliation.”
The terrorists know that the outcome will leave them emboldened, or defeated. So, they are waging a campaign of murder and destruction. And there is no limit to the innocent lives they are willing to take.
Wars are often begun for one reason, and then later justified or remembered by another. Lincoln did not fight the Civil War to free the slaves, and we didn't fight World War II to liberate concentration camps. Yet that is how we remember them now. It will be the legacy of this war that it was begun mostly over WMD, yet it's benefit was to begin a process of liberation throughout the region. How ironic that those in this country who always tell us that they are the most concerned with freedome cannot or will not see this.
Democracy, or at least a version of it, has come to Iraq. The Purple Revolution was a watershed event. The president mentioned Libya giving up it's WMD program, liberaliztions in Saudi Arabia and the Palestinian elections. Egypt and Lebanon have seen progress. Small steps, to be sure, but real ones. Our own country was hardly perfect in 1793, and isn't now.
After September 11, 2001, I told the American people that the road ahead would be difficult — and that we would prevail. Well, it has been difficult. And we are prevailing.
Well yes you did. And some people weren't listening when they should have. Here and overseas.
Sixty four years ago someone listened, heard, and understood us.
"I fear that all we have done is to awaken a sleeping giant and fill him with a terrible resolve"
Those words were spoken by Admiral Isokoru Yamamoto, Commander-in-Chief of the Imperial Japanese Navy, to his aides following the attack on Pearl Harbor.
June 27, 2005
Berlin Wall Memorial to be Razed
A privately built memorial to the victims of the Berlin Wall is to be bulldozed on July 4, when a lease on the property near the former Checkpoint Charlie runs out, angering backers of the project and conservative politicians.
But the Socialist-led city government in Berlin has said that it is content to see the memorial taken down and there has been no move to prevent it from the government of Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder, who is in Washington today seeking support for a permanent German seat on the U.N. Security Council.
The monument, privately financed by the Checkpoint Charlie Museum on an adjacent site, has proven extremely popular with visitors to the city, attracting thousands of people per week. But it has never been popular with the city's political establishment, which is dominated by a coalition of the former Communist Party (PDS) and the Social Democratic Party.
The article does not make clear whether this is a case of leftist sympathy for the Soviets, or it's twin, anti-anti-communism. I'll try to investigate this later when I have time and post more on it.
Quid Nimis has the scoop:
It's (the memorial) sort of an urban art project (a very nice one) but the artist leased the space and the lease is up. The City of Berlin, in its infinite wisdom thought that July 4th was the perfect day to BULLDOZE A BUNCH OF CROSSES. Those Socialists, such comedians!
There is actually an official memorial/museum for Checkpoint Charlie elsewhere. This seems like a very nice commemoration, very heartfelt on the part of the artist, and God knows that there are few enough artists wanting to commemorate freedom. Usually when artists and cities collaborate for art in public spaces, arrangements are made for dismantling the artwork, if it's to be displayed for a limited period of time. That kind of planning would have been especially appropriate in a case like this. As it is, a bank owns the lot and leased it to the artist for six months. When the lease was up, the bank asked her to clear the land and she sued to keep the memorial there. The courts upheld the bank's position, as they should have apparently. To use the sentimental appeal of the memorial to try to take property away from the rightful owner is rather sleazy.
Part II: "Thefts of U.S. technology boost China's weaponry"
Today the second part of Bill Gertz' series was published in the Washington Times, "Thefts of U.S. technology boost China's weaponry"
As with Part I, it is Gertz at his best:
China is stepping up its overt and covert efforts to gather intelligence and technology in the United States, and the activities have boosted Beijing's plans to rapidly produce advanced-weapons systems. "I think you see it where something that would normally take 10 years to develop takes them two or three," said David Szady, chief of FBI counterintelligence operations.
Again, the good news is that the FBI is aware of China's efforts. The bad news is that their efforts are massive:
To counter such incidents, the FBI has been beefing up its counterintelligence operations in the past three years and has special sections in all 56 field offices across the country for counterspying.
But the problem of Chinese spying is daunting.
"It's pervasive," Mr. Szady said. "It's a massive presence, 150,000 students, 300,000 delegations in the New York area. That's not counting the rest of the United States, probably 700,000 visitors a year. They're very good at exchanges and business deals, and they're persistent."
Read the whole thing.
The "Chinese Dragon Awakens"
Yesterday was the first part of Bill Gertz' three part series on China, "Chinese Dragon Awakens", published in the Washington Times.
The gist of the series can be found in the opening paragraphs:
China is building its military forces faster than U.S. intelligence and military analysts expected, prompting fears that Beijing will attack Taiwan in the next two years, according to Pentagon officials.
U.S. defense and intelligence officials say all the signs point in one troubling direction: Beijing then will be forced to go to war with the United States, which has vowed to defend Taiwan against a Chinese attack.
China's military buildup includes an array of new high-technology weapons, such as warships, submarines, missiles and a maneuverable warhead designed to defeat U.S. missile defenses. Recent intelligence reports also show that China has stepped up military exercises involving amphibious assaults, viewed as another sign that it is preparing for an attack on Taiwan.
Gertz is the National Security reporter for the Times and over the years has written of number of highly informative books on military and foreign policy matters. He regularly appears on Fox News also, in addition to his articles in the Times. His ability to get detailed information up-to-date about security threats is second-to-none, and it is obvious he has some very good contacts in the defense establishment.
How dangerous is China?
"We may be seeing in China the first true fascist society on the model of Nazi Germany, where you have this incredible resource base in a commercial economy with strong nationalism, which the military was able to reach into and ramp up incredible production," a senior defense official said.
Fortunately, the US military is well aware of the problem. Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld has spoken recently about the Chinese threat, and wondered aloud, obviously in a rhetorical question, why China would build up it's military when it faces no military threat to itself.
The two-year timeframe Gertz mentions is in line with what I've seen elsewhere. In a longish post last April, "War with China: 2008 - 2010?" I examined some open-source literature and came to a similar conclusion. However, given that the 2008 Olympics would be held in Bejing, my theory is that China will wait until after the games are over to make their move. They will not want to suffer the fate of the Soviets, who's Moscow games in 1980 were boycotted by many nations in reponse to their invasion of Afghanistan.
Gertz has much more to say in his article, so you'll want to read the whole thing.
June 25, 2005
"Support for the Troops Never Stronger"
It is hard sometimes in the face of so much left-wing attacks on our military - ahem, Senator Durbin - to maintain a positive view. But we should and we must.
Stories like this one help do that. Capt. Steve Alvarez, U.S. Army, recently came home after a long deployment in Iraq. He writes about his experience there, and the support he received from people back home.
When I came home from Iraq a couple of months ago, I kept the promise I made while I was still there: I wouldn't watch the news, and I'd step away from the war, ignoring the events that had consumed my life 24 hours a day, seven days a week. It was time to catch up with my family and make them the focus of my life 24/7. ... What I saw in Iraq was the boundless bravery of a seemingly endless line of Iraqi recruits gathered to join the Iraqi army, the smiles and waves of Iraqis as we convoyed through the city of Sulaymaniyah, the first flight of the Iraqi air force, and the sound of Iraqi tank guns as they thundered for the first time in years in support of liberty, not tyranny.
I remember the jubilation of my Iraqi friends as they showed off their ink-stained fingers, a badge of honor on their fingertips, indicating they had voted in their country's first democratic election in decades. I remember the Iraqi female military police soldiers who became pioneers for women in that region by joining the Iraqi military, clearing not just personal hurdles, but cultural ones.
Mostly, I remember the thousands of Iraqi and coalition troops that each day hunted the enemy and kept me safe. I remember the drivers and gunners on convoy, the pilots and crew chiefs in the sky, the sentries and tankers at the gates, and all of the warriors who were out there trying to make Iraq a better and safer place.
While I was in Iraq, I received hundreds of Christmas cards from students at an elementary school and from members of a church in Florida. A sorority from Indiana sent dozens of letters and cards of support, and Americans from all over the country sent me e-mails from places like Chicago, Sacramento, and Texas just to name a few.
Read the whole thing.
This story was sent to me by a friend and reader of this blog. Thank you.
June 24, 2005
Adopt A Platoon
Please consider helping out.
There are dozens of such organizations, so pick any one you like. I chose Adopt-a-Platoon about a year ago.
The Troops in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Bosnia need your support.
No you don't actually have to adopt a whole platoon. They have several levels of support that you can choose from. You can, if you wish, support an entire platoon of about forty people. Or you can choose a simple pen-pal program with one soldier. You can even just make a one-time donation.
I do the "pen-pal" level, and evey week I send "my soldier" a letter. Every other month or so I send a care package of goodies.
I say these things not to make you think good of me, for my efforts are nothing compared to actually being there, but to encourage you to do something also.
Of course, maybe you already are actively supporting the troops. In which case I salute you.
So please take a moment to check out Adopt-a-Platoon or some such similar organization. .
Inconvenient Quotes II
Why stop when you're having fun?
Not satisfied with making fools out of themselves by going on record as saying that Saddam Hussein had WMD and then becoming part of the Bush Lied! chorus, liberals have said some pretty amazingly anti-American things. Consider our second selection of inconvenient quotes:
Rep. Neil Abercrombie (D-HI), 10/1/01, Roll Call: "I truly believe if we had a Department of Peace, we could have seen [9/11] coming."
Al Sharpton, 12/1/02, New York Times, on the 9/11 attacks: "America is beginning to reap what it has sown."
Rep. Marcy Kaptur, 3/1/2003, Toledo Blade: "One could say that Osama bin Laden and these non-nation-state fighters with religious purpose are very similar to those kind of atypical revolutionaries that helped cast off the British crown."
(hat tip Captain's Quarters)
Then there's Howard Dean:
The most interesting theory that I've heard so far--which is nothing more than a theory, I can’t think – it can’t be proved – is that he was warned ahead of time by the Saudis.
Oh but it's just something that he heard. That makes it ok.
Bill Clinton, in typically wordy fashion, used the "context" argument, dragging out what every wallowing-in-victimhood Muslim wants to hear, that all their problems are the fault of the crusaders of a thousand years ago (hat tip anklebitingpundits)
Those of us who come from various European lineages are not blameless. Indeed, in the first Crusade, when the Christian soldiers took Jerusalem, they first burned a synagogue with 300 Jews in it, and proceeded to kill every woman and child who was Muslim on the Temple mound. The contemporaneous descriptions of the event describe soldiers walking on the Temple mound, a holy place to Christians, with blood running up to their knees. I can tell you that that story is still being told to today in the Middle East and we are still paying for it. Here in the United States, we were founded as a nation that practiced slavery and slaves were, quite frequently, killed even though they were innocent. This country once looked the other way when significant numbers of Native Americans were dispossessed and killed to get their land or their mineral rights or because they were thought of as less than fully human and we are still paying the price today. Even in the 20th century in America people were terrorized or killed because of their race. And even today, though we have continued to walk, sometimes to stumble, in the right direction, we still have the occasional hate crime rooted in race, religion, or sexual orientation. So terror has a long history.
And last but not least, no list of quotes by left-wing whackos would be complete without something from George Soros (ok, so Clinton's not quite a leftie, but that's beside the point). Courtesy of Hugh Hewitt we have the following:
“War is a false and misleading metaphor in the context of combating terrorism. Treating the attacks of September 11 as crimes against humanity would have been more appropriate. Crimes require police work, not military action. To protect against terrorism, you need precautionary measures, awareness, and intelligence gathering – all of which ultimately depend on the support of the populations among which terrorists operate. Imagine for a moment that September 11 had been treated as a crime. We would have pursued Bin Laden in Afghanistan, but we would not have invaded Iraq. Nor would we have our military struggling to perform police work in full combat gear and getting killed in the process.” (George Soros, The Bubble Of American Supremacy, 2004, p. 18)
• Soros Said The Execution Of 9/11 Attacks “Could Not Have Been More Spectacular.” “Admittedly, the terrorist attack was a historic event in its own right. Hijacking fully loaded airplanes and using them as suicide bombs was an audacious idea, and the execution could not have been more spectacular.” (George Soros, The Bubble Of American Supremacy, 2004, p. 2)
• Soros Said War On Terror Had Claimed More Innocent Victims Than 9/11 Attack Itself. “This is a very tough thing to say, but the fact is, that the war on terror as conducted by this administration, has claimed more innocent victims that the original attack itself.” (George Soros, Remarks At Take Back America Conference, Washington, DC, 6/3/04)
Actually they're quite convenient to me. But if you're a liberal who runs around crying Bush Lied! they're quite inconvenient.
Best of all, the quotes are impeccably sourced. They come courtesy of one of my favorite talk show hosts, Glenn Beck. Visit his page to see if he is on a station in your area.
"Without question, we need to disarm Saddam Hussein. He is a brutal, murderous dictator, leading an oppressive regime ... He presents a particularly grievous threat because he is so consistently prone to miscalculation ... And now he is miscalculating America's response to his continued deceit and his consistent grasp for weapons of mass destruction ... So the threat of Saddam Hussein with weapons of mass destruction is real..."
- Sen. John F. Kerry (D, MA), Jan. 23. 2003 | Source
"I will be voting to give the President of the United States the authority to use force -- if necessary -- to disarm Saddam Hussein because I believe that a deadly arsenal of weapons of mass destruction in his hands is a real and grave threat to our security."
- Sen. John F. Kerry (D, MA), Oct. 9, 2002 | Source
"One way or the other, we are determined to deny Iraq the capacity to develop weapons of mass destruction and the missiles to deliver them. That is our bottom line."
- President Clinton, Feb. 4, 1998 | Source
"If Saddam rejects peace and we have to use force, our purpose is clear. We want to seriously diminish the threat posed by Iraq's weapons of mass destruction program."
- President Bill Clinton, Feb. 17, 1998 | Source
"We must stop Saddam from ever again jeopardizing the stability and security of his neighbors with weapons of mass destruction."
- Madeline Albright, Feb 1, 1998 | Source
"He will use those weapons of mass destruction again, as he has ten times since 1983."
- Sandy Berger, Clinton National Security Adviser, Feb, 18, 1998 | Source
"[W]e urge you, after consulting with Congress, and consistent with the U.S. Constitution and laws, to take necessary actions (including, if appropriate, air and missile strikes on suspect Iraqi sites) to respond effectively to the threat posed by Iraq's refusal to end its weapons of mass destruction programs."
Letter to President Clinton.
- (D) Senators Carl Levin, Tom Daschle, John Kerry, others, Oct. 9, 1998 | Source
"Saddam Hussein has been engaged in the development of weapons of mass destruction technology which is a threat to countries in the region and he has made a mockery of the weapons inspection process."
- Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D, CA), Dec. 16, 1998 | Source
"Hussein has ... chosen to spend his money on building weapons of mass destruction and palaces for his cronies."
- Madeline Albright, Clinton Secretary of State, Nov. 10, 1999 | Source
"We begin with the common belief that Saddam Hussein is a tyrant and a threat to the peace and stability of the region. He has ignored the mandate of the United Nations and is building weapons of mass destruction and th! e means of delivering them."
- Sen. Carl Levin (D, MI), Sept. 19, 2002 | Source
"We know that he has stored secret supplies of biological and chemical weapons throughout his country."
- Al Gore, Sept. 23, 2002 | Source
"Iraq's search for weapons of mass destruction has proven impossible to deter and we should assume that it will continue for as long as Saddam is in power."
- Al Gore, Sept. 23, 2002 | Source
"We have known for many years that Saddam Hussein is seeking and developing weapons of mass destruction."
- Sen. Ted Kennedy (D, MA), Sept. 27, 2002 | Source
"The last UN weapons inspectors left Iraq in October of 1998. We are confident that Saddam Hussein retains some stockpiles of chemical and biological weapons, and that he has since embarked on a crash course to build up his chemical and biological warfare capabilities. Intelligence reports indicate that he is seeking nuclear weapons..."
- Sen. Robert Byrd (D, WV), Oct. 3, 2002 | Source
"There is unmistakable evidence that Saddam Hussein is working aggressively to develop nuclear weapons and will likely have nuclear weapons within the next five years ... We also should remember we have always underestimated the progress Saddam has made in development of weapons of mass destruction."
- Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D, WV), Oct 10, 2002 | Source
"In the four years since the inspectors left, intelligence reports show that Saddam Hussein has worked to rebuild his chemical and biological weapons stock, his missile delivery capability, and his nuclear program. He has also given aid, comfort, and sanctuary to terrorists, including al Qaeda members ... It is clear, however, that if left unchecked, Saddam Hussein will continue to increase his capacity to wage biological and chemical warfare, and will keep trying to develop nuclear weapons."
- Sen. Hillary Clinton (D, NY), Oct 10, 2002 | Source
"We are in possession of what I think to be compelling evidence that Saddam Hussein has, and has had for a number of years, a developing capacity for the production and storage of weapons of mass destruction."
- Sen. Bob Graham (D, FL), Dec. 8, 2002 | Source
There are some liberals who will object to my using these quotes. Here's why they're full of it:
So in order to still believe that Bush Lied! you need to believe that Bush and co fooled the Democrats with fake intel. This would make the Democrats are incredibly stupid and easily fooled people. Oops.
Of course, the Robb-Silberman Commission cleared Bush of this charge, but since when has the left let facts stand in the way?
You also have to ignore the fact that even Hans Blix and Jacques Chirac thought that Saddam had WMD. They just didn't think we needed to invade Iraq.
So if you want to believe that the invasion was a mistake, fine. Reasonable people can disagree. But only left-wing whackos think that Bush Lied!
The Gitmo Investigation Fraud
So now the Democrats have decided that the most important thing to do in the War on Terror is to provide Al-Jazeera with more anti-American propaganda. As such, they've demanded an independent investigation to look into alleged abuses at Camp Delta at Guantanamo Bay, where we are holding several hundred terrorists.
Of course, as it is Al-Jazzera covers in detail the attempt by far-left Congressman John Conyers' and other Democrats to impeach President Bush. That network is full of stories about our supposedly regular torture of prisoners at the camp. Don't think they don't follow what goes on over here.
The Democrats aren't the only ones in the business of trying to make us look bad, as the UN is trying to get in the game too, demanding access to the prison "to check out conditions there." That's rich. This from the same organization that has Cuba, Egypt, Nepal, Nigeria, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Sudan and Zimbabwe as members on it's Commission on Human Rights.
I've gone over many times the fallacy of treating the prisoners there as if they were criminals, and interested readers need only select "Guantanamo Bay and the Geneva Convention" at right for the full story.
Right now I'm going to deal with this latest Democrat diversion.
And let us have no doubt, for it is indeed a diversion from the War on Terror. Let me stop right here and point out the obvious; about half of the Democrats are sincere in wanting to win the War on Terror. We and they may disagree on this or that, but it's all an argument within the family.
But Ted Kennedy, Maxine Waters, Nancy Pelosi, John Conyers, Jim McDermott and crowd, they do not seem to care at all if we win. To them it's all a diversion from their plan to put us all under the rule of the EPA (this is HUMOR, trolls).
I've got other posts to write, and since the editors of National Review say it best, I'll just quote them:
It is argued that a commission will help clear the country’s good name. Put aside that the portion of the foreign audience that hates us won’t be swayed by a commission’s findings one way or another. A commission will, in political terms, never clear the Bush administration of anything. The Robb-Silberman Commission cleared Bush officials of the charge that they pressured intelligence officials to hype intelligence about Iraq’s WMD. Democrats and swaths of the media dismissed the report for exactly that reason.
The Pentagon has investigated its detainee practices repeatedly. Air Force Lt. General Randall Schmidt’s investigation into Gitmo — it is his forthcoming report that Newsweek falsely said would contain the toilet-flushing incident — will just be the latest. There is no reason to believe that violations of the rules at the facility, including of the minute procedures for handling the Koran, haven’t resulted in discipline for the violators. And numerous congressional hearings have been held about the detentions there.
An independent commission is not just unnecessary, it’s a cop out. Democrats should simply say what they would do with the detainees, and offer a congressional resolution to that effect and vote on it. Do they oppose tough interrogation techniques for the 20th hijacker? Then they should put themselves on record against them, even if it’s only in a symbolic resolution. Do they think terrorists deserve Geneva Convention protections? That we should attempt (futilely) to try the detainees in the American courts and — failing that — release them? If they are such fans of “accountability,” Democrats shouldn’t blanch at putting such positions in black and white and voting on them.
Of course, they will do no such thing. They instead want to hide behind a commission that at best will duplicate investigative work that has already been done and at worst replicate the 9/11 Commission at its lowest, most politicized moments. The response to calls for such a commission should be simple: “Hell, no.”
June 23, 2005
Back to Bagdad
Austin Bay has gone back to Baghdad. A former soldier in Iraq turned writer, he offers a unique perspective:
"Metrics" is the military buzzword -- how do we measure progress or regress in Iraq? The piles of bricks around Iraqi homes is a positive. Downtown cranes sprout over city-block-sized construction projects. The negatives are all too familiar -- terror bombs and the slaughter of Iraqi citizens.
Last year -- on July 2, I recall -- I saw six Iraqi National Guardsmen manning a position beneath a freeway overpass. It was the first time I saw independently deployed Iraqi forces. Now, I see senior Iraqi officers in the Al Faw Palace hallways conducting operational liaison with U.S. and coalition forces. I hear reports of the Iraqi Army conducting independent street-clearing and neighborhood search operations. Brig. Gen. Karl Horst of U.S. 3rd Infantry Division told me about an Iraqi battalion's success on the perennially challenging Haifa Street.
In February, under the direction of an Iraqi colonel rapidly earning a reputation as Iraq's Rudy Giuliani, the battalion drove terrorists from this key Baghdad drag. Last year, Haifa Street was a combat zone where U.S. and Iraqi security forces came in Robo-Cop garb -- helmets, armor, Bradleys, armored Humvees. Gen. Horst told me he and his Iraqi counterpart now have tea in a sidewalk cafe along the once notorious boulevard. Of course, Abu Musab Al Zarqawi's suicide bombers haunt this fragile calm.
If you're getting your news from the TV you'd never know about this type of stuff. Perhaps by its nature, they just concentrate on the "bomb of the day"
Bay continues, and this part is not so positive. Not about Iraq, but about us:
This return visit to Iraq, however, spurs thoughts of America -- to be specific, thoughts about America's will to pursue victory. I don't mean the will of U.S. forces in the field. Wander around with a bunch of Marines for a half-hour, spend 15 minutes with National Guardsmen from Idaho, and you will have no doubts about American military capabilities or the troops' will to win.
But our weakness is back home, in front of the TV, on the cable squawk shows, on the editorial page of the New York Times, in the political gotcha games of Washington, D.C.
It seems America wants to get on with its Electra-Glide life, that Sept. 10 sense of freedom and security, without finishing the job. The military is fighting, the Iraqi people are fighting, but where is the U.S. political class?
The Bush administration has yet to ask the American people -- correction, has yet to demand of the American people -- the sustained, shared sacrifice it takes to win this long, intricate war of bullets, ballots and bricks.
Bullets go bang, and even CBS understands bullets. Ballots make an impression -- in terms of this war's battlespace, the January Iraqi elections were World War II's D-Day and Battle of the Bulge combined. But the bricks -- the building of Iraq, Afghanistan and the other hard corners where this war is and will be fought -- that's a delicate and decades-long challenge.
Given the vicious enemy we face, five years, perhaps 15 years from now, occasional bullets and bombs will disrupt the political and economic building. This is the Bush administration's biggest strategic mistake: failure to tap the American willingness produced by the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001.
This was the criticism that Col Harry Summers made of LBJ in his seminal work "On Strategy: A Critical Analysis of the Vietnam War". Johnson, he said, tried to fight the war "in cold blood." He made a consious decision not to make a big case before the public and ask for their committment, the reason being that he was afraid that this would divert attention from his Great Society programs.
It's a bit overstated to compare Bush to Johnson, and Bay is not going that far. Bush did make a big effort to gain our committment before the invasion. Yes yes, he could have "done more". But as a theoretical one can always "do more." However, Bay is right in that the effort has slacked of late. Bush et al need to pick up the pace and develop a plan to make the case before the public.
"Right On" on Gitmo
"What we are seeing today," said William Barr last week before the Senate Judiciary Committee, "is an extreme ... effort to take the judicial rules and standards applicable in the domestic law enforcement context and extend them to the fighting of wars." Mr. Barr is referring to the current effort to treat Guantanamo detainees like American criminals, with full access to our courts. We agree with the former attorney general that "nothing could be more farcical, or more dangerous."
If the critics are right, and detained terrorists have an inalienable right to access U.S. courts, then they have created a new standard -- one which has no precedent in the Geneva Conventions, the Constitution or U.S. history. Even worse, as Mr. Barr suggested, it is a standard that would effectively make victory in the war on terror impossible.
This history conforms with the Geneva Conventions, as long as the detainee qualified as a legal combatant. If not, a detainee's rights as defined in the Geneva Conventions are considerably less. The reasons for this are simple. Article 4 of the convention on treatment of prisoners of war identifies a legal combatant as someone who fights under a recognized state which adheres to the Geneva Conventions; wears a fixed insignia or uniform; carries his arms openly; and conducts operations in accordance with the laws of war -- which rules out terrorists.
As the administration rightly determined after the invasion of Afghanistan, Taliban and al Qaeda terrorists fail to meet any of these standards. Therefore, they are illegal combatants and not protected as prisoners of war in the Geneva Conventions. A soldier is different from a terrorist because a soldier is supposed to follow certain rules; terrorists are not -- and the Geneva Conventions acknowledge this difference. If they did not, then there would be no incentive for soldiers to adhere to Article 4.
Even if, for the sake of argument, we accepted that terrorists are POWs, they would still not be entitled to adjudicate their case before a U.S. court. There is nothing in the Geneva Conventions that requires or even considers such an option. The conventions do say that a POW is subject to the laws of the "Detaining Power" -- yet the Constitution does not say anything about allowing combatants access to U.S. courts.
Last year the Supreme Court acknowledged that this war is different, and that determining a combatant, legal or otherwise, is not as simple as it used to be. Lower courts are divided on how to interpret this decision, but the fact is that every Guantanamo detainee has had a chance to contest his detention as a combatant before a military tribunal. It's enough for now just to note that this is beyond what the Geneva Conventions require for a POW.
"Not good enough," insist the critics, who want nothing less than full constitutional rights bestowed on foreign enemies of the United States. The Geneva Conventions do not acknowledge such a right, the Constitution does not acknowledge such a right, so why would this administration acknowledge such a right?
No reason that I can think of.
June 22, 2005
Here are some things that have come to my attention recently regarding the War on Teror that I thought I'd share with you.
Here's a story in USA today that is must-read. It's about how a group of Vietnam vets in Iraq see an "Entirely Different War":
"In Vietnam, I don't think the local population ever understood that we were just there to help them," says Chief Warrant Officer James Miles, 57, of Sioux Falls, S.D., who flew UH-1H Hueys in Vietnam from February 1969 to February 1970. And the Vietcong and North Vietnamese were a tougher, more tenacious enemy, he says. Instead of setting off bombs outside the base, they'd be inside.
"I knew we were going to lose Vietnam the day I walked off the plane," says Miles, who returned home this month after nearly a year in Iraq. Not this time. "There's no doubt in my mind that this was the right thing to do," he says.
Miles says the biggest difference he saw was that, over time, Iraqi civilians grew more positive toward U.S. forces. He says he saw more people smiling and waving near his base here than there were 10 months ago when he arrived.
1st Sgt. Patrick Olechny, 52, of Marydel, Del., an attack helicopter crew chief and door gunner in Vietnam from March 1971 to February 1972, says the most important difference to him is the attitude of the American public.
"Vietnam was an entirely different war than this one," he says. The basic job of flying helicopters is the same, but the overall mission now is clear when it wasn't then. "We thought in Vietnam we were doing the right thing, and in the end it didn't seem that way," he says.
Now, "the people in the United States respect what the soldiers are doing," says Olechny, who still fills in at the door gunner position when he can get away from his administrative duties.
This next article is about how the insurgents are turning on each other.
Marines patrolling this desert region near the Syrian border have for months been seeing a strange new trend in the already complex Iraqi insurgency. Insurgents, they say, have been fighting each other in towns along the Euphrates from Husayba, on the border, to Qaim, farther west. The observations offer a new clue in the hidden world of the insurgency and suggest that there may have been, as American commanders suggest, a split between Islamic militants and local rebels..
A United Nations official who served in Iraq last year and who consulted widely with militant groups said in a telephone interview that there has been a split for some time.
"There is a rift," said the official, who requested anonymity, citing the sensitivity of the talks he had held. "I'm certain that the nationalist Iraqi part of the insurgency is very much fed up with the Jihadists grabbing the headlines and carrying out the sort of violence that they don't want against innocent civilians."
The nationalist insurgent groups, "are giving a lot of signals implying that there should be a settlement with the Americans," while the Jihadists have a purely ideological agenda, he added
As we said above, folks, this isn't another Vietnam. The NVA, and VC before them, were far too disciplined to let disagreements come to blows.
Meanwhile, Karl Zinmeister of the American Enterprise Institute just got back from Iraq and says that "The War is Over, and We Won":
What the establishment media covering Iraq have utterly failed to make clear today is this central reality: With the exception of periodic flare-ups in isolated corners, our struggle in Iraq as warfare is over. Egregious acts of terror will continue—in Iraq as in many other parts of the world. But there is now no chance whatever of the U.S. losing this critical guerilla war.
Contrary to the impression given by most newspaper headlines, the United States has won the day in Iraq. In 2004, our military fought fierce battles in Najaf, Fallujah, and Sadr City. Many thousands of terrorists were killed, with comparatively little collateral damage. As examples of the very hardest sorts of urban combat, these will go down in history as smashing U.S. victories.
And our successes at urban combat (which, scandalously, are mostly untold stories in the U.S.) made it crystal clear to both the terrorists and the millions of moderate Iraqis that the insurgents simply cannot win against today’s U.S. Army and Marines. That’s why everyday citizens have surged into politics instead.
Oh, and anyone who says "but but but casualties are up! huh, huh, what about that?" - just please read some history. Anything but your favorite, Vietnam.
And last but not least is the where abouts that favorite hide-and-go-seek participant, Osama bin Laden.
Porter Goss, Director of Central Intelligence (that's CIA), was interviewed by Time Magazine, and this very interesting exchange occured:
Q: WHEN WILL WE GET OSAMA BIN LADEN?
Goss: That is a question that goes far deeper than you know. In the chain that you need to successfully wrap up the war on terror, we have some weak links. And I find that until we strengthen all the links, we're probably not going to be able to bring Mr. bin Laden to justice. We are making very good progress on it. But when you go to the very difficult question of dealing with sanctuaries in sovereign states, you're dealing with a problem of our sense of international obligation, fair play. We have to find a way to work in a conventional world in unconventional ways that are acceptable to the international community.
Q:IT SOUNDS LIKE YOU HAVE A PRETTY GOOD IDEA OF WHERE HE IS. WHERE?
Goss: I have an excellent idea of where he is. What's the next question?
In other words, he's in Iran. Which is just where Richard Miniter, author of "Shadow War", thought he was. As Clausewitz would have said, it's all part of the friction of war.
Wretchard provides the analysis and context. He talks about guerilla forces, and the difference for them between prospects for victory and merely continuing to exist. In other words, just because they are able to continue their existance and even do damage, does not mean that they stand a realistic prospect for success:
Political influence, combat capability and territorial control are the real metrics of a successful guerilla campaign. The argument that mere existence or avoidance of defeat constitutes victory is hogwash: both the IRA and the Red Hand Commandos exist, but clearly the IRA is the more successful guerilla organization because it has a national united front, some combat capability and hard and diverse leadership core where the Red Hand Commandos do not. Even Al Qaeda, which some claim to be a creature of pure thought has sought to control territory in Afghanistan and spread its influence through Islamic "charities" while under the control of a central group of militants. It was, in other words, no different from any other classic guerilla organization.
While the Iraqi insurgents still retain the capability to kill significant numbers of people they are almost total losers by the traditional metric of guerilla warfare. First of all, by attacking civilians of every ethnic group and vowing to resubjugate the majority ethnic groups in the country they have at a stroke made creating a national united front against the United States a near impossibility. Second, there is a battle for supremacy among the insurgent leaders.
Which is why anyone who depends on the TV, newspapers, or magazines for analysis will never understand what is going on.
"Are We There Yet?"
huh mom? Are we there yet? Where's the hotel? Tell Jimmy to keep his hands off me! He keeps putting his stuff on my half of the seat!
At this point dad turns to mom and says "do something", whereby she turns around and says "do not make us stop this car! I told you it would be several hours before we get there!
Who hasn't experienced something like this? Either as a kid, parent, or both.
This is how Tony Snow characterized liberal criticism of the war in Iraq the other day, and I laughed all the way in the car driving to work because it is so true.
Liberals (ok, not all but many) sound like the little kids in the back seat. From day one the Bush administration told everyone that the war on terror would take a long time to win. But no one wants to hear that.
Wars are also unpredictable. Yes, I know, no great insight in that comment. But it's true, and needs to be resaid.
Briefly, here's why; it has to do with what I call "The Myth of the Glorious Crusade"
Let's just get this out of the way up front; many of us who advocated invading Iraq got it wrong. We expected a harder conventional fight and not an insurgency that would last so long. We were burned why what Clausewitz called "the friction of war"
Liberals and leftists have no reason to gloat, however, as they've gotten even more wrong. They told us that there would be thousands of American casualties (just as they did before the Gulf War), and there would surely be a massive "battle of Baghdad" that would drag on for months. They also predicted massive a massive humanitarian disaster and civil war, neither of which happened. They also told us that the entire Mideast would erupt - the "Arab street" routine - which did't happen either. And about a million other horrors, none of which occured.
Between us and the liberals, I'll take our mistakes. Any day.
Like most events, there is no exact parallel in history. The simple fact is that most wars do not turn out like "everyone" thought they would. Obviously the defeated side did not predict things right. But usually the victor didn't either.
The Myth of the Glorious Crusade
There is a tendancy, I think, to view all the wars in which we have been victorious as great crusades in which we all link arms and march off to defeat an enemy. This is borne, I believe, of World War II, in which we pretty much did just that. But most of our other wars were different.
In the Revolutionary War only one-third of the colonists were patriots. Another third were British loyalists, and the remainder didn't care. The patriots spend so much time bickering among themselves it's a wonder we won.
The Civil War went badly for the North for the first several years. The war became unpopular, and the Federal Army did not meet it's recruiting goals. The government resorted to a draft, which was resisted so fiercely that in 1863 it led to bloody riots in New York City. Lincoln thought he was going to lose the 1864 election to ex-union general George McClellan, and the public only came around to supporting Lincoln after several Union victories, including the capture of Atlanta.
In World War II we were certainly united, but our conduct of the war was as often as not inept. I've gone of this in in another post so please go there for details.
Today is June 22, 2005, and no we are not there yet, so stop your whining and stop hitting your brother.
June 18, 2005
The Democrat's New Strategy
Check out my post over at Conserva-Puppies on the Democrats brilliant new strategy:
June 17, 2005
Back to Basics
With all this talk about Guantanamo Bay and Dick Durbin dominating the news, we need to get back to the basics of why we are fighting this war. I've heard several complaints from the left recently, and in this post I'm going to take them on.
"More Iraqis are in poverty now than before the war"
Sometimes you hear this phrased slightly differently, as in "there's less electricity/public services/safety/ etc"
"Michael Jackson/Scott Peterson/whomever dominates the news when we should be talking about Iraq"
Our soldiers are dying in Iraq for nothing" or "We should never have invaded Iraq, only Afghanistan"
"We told you that we'd never win in Iraq"
"Because of Iraq all the Arabs/Muslims hate us"
"By invading Iraq we squandered the World's Sympathy"
"We Created Saddam"
And everybody's favorite: "Bush Lied!"
These are some of the major ones, which will suffice for now. Sometimes you'll hear them phrased slightly differently, but they're essentially the same objection. Ok, now let's take them on one at a time.
Iraq will produce no Tet, we are on the strategic offensive, and we are winning
"More Iraqis are in poverty now than before the war"
Some are and some are not. Arthur Chrenkoff, as always, provides needed perspective with his "good news from Iraq" series, check out his latest, part 25, here, provides needed perspective. Anyone who thinks that what's happening in Iraq is all bad is simply not informed.
But I'm not going to quibble over this or that economic figure. Whether Iraqis are receiving more or less electricity now is important in a sense, but in another it's not.
Most southerners were worse off for years after the Civil War than before it. Japanese and Germans both suffered for years after the war. Indeed, the Germans recall the winters of 1946 and 1947 as among the worst ever, with starvation occuring in a "modern" European nation. In the words of one US Navy medical officer, "From 1945 to the middle of 1948, one saw the probable collapse, disintegration and destruction of a whole nation."
The Marshall Plan, which eventually rescued Germany, was not even announced for a year and a half after the war ended.
And let's not be under the illusion that everyone thought that the occupation of Germany was a success at the time. Newspaper headlines routinely told of a "failed occupation". Oh, and we were told that the Germans all hated us, too. Sound familiar?
Was the Civil War not worth it? World War II? How about our revolution? Although it did not wreck as much devastation as the Civil War, much of or most of the country was worse off after than before.
More to the point, there is the unstated, barely below the surface, insinuation that the Iraqi people would have been better off under Saddam. Those who make this argument need to come clean and answer the question; "do you think the Iraqi people whould have been better off if Saddam was still in power?"
These things take time. Yes it turned out harder than we on the right thought it would. What war hasn't?
"Michael Jackson/Scott Peterson/whomever dominates the news when we should be talking about Iraq"
Well gee, I'm sorry that the people don't share your idea of what is important. And what is your real objection, is it simply that we're not paying enough attention to Iraq, or that we're not paying the "right" kind of attention; ie, the papers are not screaming daily about how "we're losing"?
Sure, I get exasperated with the focus on crime dramas too. And all of the missing persons cases always seem to involve white females.
But I accept this for what it is. I may not always like it but I try and understand it, try and understand why not everyone shares my view of what is important.
Cutting the the heart of the matter, the fact is that people who attack "the people" in this manner are elitist and snobbish. No "the people" are not all "stupid", with you so smart. Me? I take the William F Buckley Jr attitude that I'd rather be governed by the first two hundred people in the phone book than by the faculties of Harvard and Yale combined.
"Our soldiers are dying in Iraq for nothing" or "Iraq is a diversion from the War on Terror"
Oh heavens. No there was not a formal alliance between Iraq and Al-Qaeda that was signed in a big formal ceremony. But anyone who thinks that Saddam was not involved in terrorism doesn't know what they are talking about.
The root cause of the problems in the Middle East is a lack of pluralistic forms of government. Natan Sharansky got it right in his book "The Case for Democracy".
We're not there out of the goodness of our hearts, or perhaps I should say, purely out of the goodness of our hearts. We're there because the United States is most secure when more nations are free and democratic.
No we're not. A year or so ago the situation was dicey, yes. We backed off from cleaning out Fallujah and let Mullah Sadr run wild for a bit. We seemed hesitant, and unsure of ourselves. The interim Iraqi governing council was not working out, and the people did not accept it as legitimate.
All that has changed. I'm not going to provide a full analysis here, as I've done that before, see here, here, and here for examples. Or just click "Iraq" at right (however, since I moved to the new blog I haven't classified all of my old posts yet).
The insurgency has not been defeated, and will be with us for awhile. Much fighting continues. It is important to remember, however, that they have not succeeded in their goals. There has been no "Tet Offensive", despite their ardent attempts to create one, and for reasons explained here will likely not occur. Far from creating a civil war, Sunnis, Shi'is, and Kurds are coming together. And their brilliant strategy of attacking the Iraqi people is turning them against the insurgents, however they may feel about us.
"We told you that we'd never win in Iraq"
Well, sort of. What were told was that this time the Iraqi army would fight us tooth and nail every step of the way. And there would certainly be a huge "battle of Baghdad" that would last weeks or months. The Iraqis would dig in, Leningrad-style, and could hold us off for months, forcing us to fight street-to-street for every inch of territory.
As for WMD, well, it was indeed used as a reason why we should not invade, but it was used because many of you thought he had it and would use it against us.
You've also told us some other things that it seems you'd like us to forget.
In 1990/91, in the run-up to the Gulf War, we were told that American forces would surely suffer thousands of casualties if we attacked. It was not uncommon to hear that "5,000 - 10,000 American dead". Oh yes, the "battle hardened" Iraqi army would surely fight us tooth and nail for every square inch.
After no more than, what, one week? in Afghanistan we heard that it was turning into another Vietnam. "It's a quagmire!" "The Northern Alliance can't do it!" "We need more troops!" on and on.
In short, your track record stinks.
"Because of Iraq all the Arabs/Muslims hate us"
Those who were going to hate us already hated us. As Victor Davis Hanson illustrates in the story of a captured Syrian smuggler of Jihadists, "...there was always radical Islamic anti-American hatred that preceded Iraq."
Many of them hate us because we are successful and they are not. They look back at the past glories of the Caliphate and see how far they have fallen. Everything around them was invented or developed in the west, even (or especially) the very weapons they use against us. Their governments are corrupt despotisms, their society disfunctional. Tiny Israel, with no oil, outperforms them, and it's armies defeat them every time. How can it be that the infidels have overtaken us? All of this breeds resentment. They know that they should have taken out Saddam, for they will admit that he was a butcher (and not a real Muslim), but it took the Americans to do it. It's sort of like the French, they're glad that we saved them, but bitter about it also. It wounds their pride.
"By invading Iraq we squandered the World's Sympathy"
The sympathy was appreciated. Yes I was happy, indeed touched, when we received condolences from so much of the world. The story of the German destroyer who pulled alonside the US Navy ship to pay tribute was especially poignant.
"Keeping the world's sympathy" is not a legitimate foreign policy goal. If we think we need to do something, "keeping their sympathy" is not a good reason to keep from doing it. As if winning the War on Terror was a high school student government election.
Yes it would have been nice if we had had a nice big coalition with which to invade Iraq. And maybe we could have done a better sales job. But we didn't and they didn't want to come along. Even John Kerry, when cornered, had to admit that he would not allow the rest of the world to veto US action.
"We Created Saddam"
This claim is vastly overstated, and such a statement is ignorant of history.
In "History Backwards" I wrote that our support of Iraq in the 1980s was due to our legitimate fear of the Iranian revolution spreading throughout the region. Our "leaning" towards Iraq was analogous to our support of Stalin during World War II. Because we helped Stalin fend off the Nazis, were were wrong to oppose him later?
(exclamation point required)
No he didn't, and you have no evidence that he did. Almost every intelligence agency on the planet thought that Saddam had WMD, and don't pretend otherwise. Bill Clinton thought he had them, as did most Democrats.
Almost a year ago I posted fifteen reasons why invading Iraq was the right thing to do, even knowing the aftermath. They were true then, and they're true now.
June 15, 2005
Screaming at the Windshield
Which is what I was doing while driving into work today. I was listening to the Laura Ingraham show and she played Sen. Dick Durbin's (D-Ill) tirade about how our holding prisoners at Guantanamo was the same as what the Nazis and Soviets did:
If I read this to you and did not tell you that it was an FBI agent describing what Americans had done to prisoners in their control, you would most certainly believe this must have been done by Nazis, Soviets in their gulags, or some mad regime—Pol Pot or others—that had no concern for human beings. Sadly, that is not the case. This was the action of Americans in the treatment of their prisoners.
Now you can see why I was so furious that I was screaming at the windshield. Laura was beside herself, and so were the callers to her show.
According to lgf, Durbin launched into this rant during a debate on an energy bill. Talk about inappropriate. But what do we expect from someone who will stoop to the level of comparing what we do to concentration camps or the Gulag?
Ok, so just what was it that had the good senator so upset?
When you read some of the graphic descriptions of what has occurred here—I almost hesitate to put them in the RECORD, and yet they have to be added to this debate. Let me read to you what one FBI agent saw. And I quote from his report:
"One a couple of occasions, i entered interview rooms to find a detainee chained hand and foot in a fetal position to the floor, with no chair, food, or water. Most times they urinated or defecated on themselves, and had been left there for 18-24 hours or more.
On another occasion, the air conditioning had been turned down so far and the temperature was so cold in the room, that the barefooted detainee was shaking with cold. ..... On another occasion, the [air conditioner] had been turned off, making the temperature in the unventilated room well over 100 degrees. The detainee was almost unconscious on the floor, with a pile of hair next to him. He had apparently been literally pulling his hair out throughout the night. On another occasion, not only was the temperature unbearably hot, but extremely loud rap music was being played in the room, and had been since the day before, with the detainee chained hand and foot in the fetal position on the tile floor."
It was at this point that Senator Durbin compared what our interrogators did to worst of the twentieth century:
If I read this to you and did not tell you that it was an FBI agent describing what Americans had done to prisoners in their control, you would most certainly believe this must have been done by Nazis, Soviets in their gulags, or some mad regime—Pol Pot or others—that had no concern for human beings. Sadly, that is not the case. This was the action of Americans in the treatment of their prisoners.
Tough stuff, to be sure, what we do to them. Reasonable people may even argue as to whether the techniques we employ are appropriate.
But to compare what we do to the Nazis or communists did is beyond inappropriate, it is madness and insanity. No, it is more than that.
Why Durbin and the others go off the deep end is because of one of three things, or maybe a combination of them.
Rush Limbaugh today said that Durbin was just desperate to be heard. No one has been listening to these liberals, so the rachet up the rhetoric. This is possible.
More likely he just doesn't care enough about the War on Terror to think through what he is saying. I've heard just about all of the usual suspects recently tell us that we need to close Gitmo. None of them, however, offer any alternatives. Joe Biden casually suggests letting some of the prisoners go. But it's clear from his comments that he hasn't thought the issue through either, and he's supposed to be such a great intellectual. So many of these people just don't stop and think, "ok, so how would I get the information we need? How would I win the WOT?" etc.
Do they even Care?
There is still another explanation, and that is that they just do not care whether we win or not. I've said this before and I'll say it again; there is a certain type of liberal to whom the WOT is a giant distraction from the important work of putting us all under the rule of the EPA.
This is why I think some of them, like John Kerry, so favor turning the WOT into a police action, and why they opposed the invasion of Iraq. Without Iraq, they could keep the issue on the back burners, out of the daily news coverage.
Now they're mad because they realize that the average American trusts the GOP a lot more than then when it comes to national security matters. So rather than contribute to the debate, they seek refuge in what they're comfortable with; "civil rights" type arguments. They've been trying to turn the WOT into a civil rights argument, when it should be about national security. No one (in the US, anyway) has been listening to them, and now some, like Senator Durbin, has gone off the deep end.
We will watch with a combination of sadness and amazement as it continues.
And then we'll get back to the business of winning this war.
Check out the chart that Dr. Sanity put together which compares"...what the media is Obsessed by (on the LEFT) , compared to what they appear Indifferent to (on the Right)"
June 14, 2005
Trouble in Syria?
Is Bashar al-Assad on the Rocks? StrategyPage thinks so:
There has been rising dissatisfaction with his rule in Syria. Because of economic mismanagement, and the collapse of the Baath Party in Iraq, the Syrian Baath Party has lost any credibility as a revolutionary, pan-Arab movement, and is largely controlled by corrupt, aging bureaucrats who have blocked any attempts at reform. The party is also very narrowly-based, drawing most of its strength from the Alawite minority, a Moslem religious sect that includes only about 15 percent of the population. This has led to an increase in sympathy for Islamic radical movements, which tend to consider any Moslem not Sunni to be heretics. ...
Assad seems to believe that reforms are needed to permit the Baath Party to remain in power, including abandonment of the party's pan-Arab pretensions to focus on Syria's needs, broadening the party's base, and liberalizing economic and social controls. Since the extreme Baathists view his withdrawal from Lebanon as a sign of weakness, Assad may take advantage of an impending party congress to attempt a purge the dead wood. The resulting power struggle may prove interesting.
Things could heat up very quicky. As Natan Sharansky is fond of pointing out, dictatorships look strong to outsiders but in fact are fragile. His father, Hafez al-Assad, maintained an iron-tight grip on the country. The son does not seem as politically adept.
The United States should keep a full-court press on Syria. This regime could be on its last legs. True, there is no guarantee that a reformists would come to power should the current one fall. But "stability uber alles" is always a bad policy. Sometimes shaking the tree is worth the effort, and Syria is one of them.
Put the Democrats on the Defensive
I wrote a post this morning on the controversy over Guantanamo Bay.
Given what I saw today on the news, it would seem that another is in order.
We've heard from the usual suspects that we need to close the facility; Joe Biden, Nancy Pelosi, and Jimmy Carter prominent among them. Unfortunately, a few Republicans have joined them, Mel Martinez prominent among them. Chucl Hagel has also made some predictably stupid comments also.
But perhaps the most stupid comment goes to Nancy Pelosi, who told reporters that “I think that we need a fresh start, ... a clean slate for America in the Muslim world.”
The Washington Times' take on Pelosi's latest idiocy:
That would be quite a trick. Radical Muslims hated us before September 11. There was no prison camp at Guantanamo when the ayatollah's seized American hostages in Iran. Islamist hatred of the West didn't begin with Guantanamo and it won't end at Guantanamo. Closing it down would do nothing to stem the grievances Islamist terrorists hold against the West.
As Mark Steyn pointed out in a recently, Robert Mugabe's thugs destroyed a Mosque, razed it to the ground in fact, and nary a peep from the Muslim world.
But enough of this. We are on the defensive, and this is not a good thing. And that is what I really want to talk about
If you're going to win anything, be it a war or a football game, you aren't going to win it playing defense. This holds true in politics as well. Maybe especially true in politics.
And let us not doubt that in order to win this war on terror we need to win it on the political front as well as the battlefield. Those who talk about "keeping politics out of military decision-making" simply do not know what they are talking about.
I'm not going to make the full presentation about war and politics here, for I've done that before and interested readers can go here.
Suffice it to say here that you can win on the battlefield, yet if you lose the political battle you lose the war. Anyone who doubts this need only consider the Tet Offensive.
In 1968 the Viet Cong staged a series of attacks on US and ARVN forces during the Vietnamese holiday of Tet. Although we were taken by surprise, and suffered some early setbacks, in the end we virtually annihilated them as a fighting force. However the battle was portrayed as a defeat back home in the press. It would have been understandable had the press simply criticized the administration and military for having had assured the public that such an attack was not even possible. However, the press (I of course speak in general terms) went farther, and presented it as a US defeat. US public opinion turned started to turn against the war at this point. Thus, the Tet Offensive is generally considered the turning point of the war.
The Political Offensive
The reason why it is important to stay on the offensive is that the person or group who is on the offensive gets to determine the agenda. They determine what gets discussed and what does not.
For example, right now we are in a position of defending our treatment of prisoners at Guantanamo Bay. This is fine up to an extent, but what we ought to do is flip it around and demand of our oppenents answers on how they would fight the war.
So how exactly would you go about getting information from these prisoners? How, indeed, would you get information at all? Where would you keep them, and what of the difficulties at all alternatives to Gitmo?
Rich Lowry gets it exactly right:
The administration should defend the facility there unabashedly. It should force Democrats to argue that the 9/11 hijackers shouldn’t have women stand too close to them and that rice pilaf isn’t good enough fare. It should make Democrats explain how to fight a war on terror without detaining enemy fighters, and work to stem the panic, rather than surrendering to it.
Bill Clinton won in 1992 because he stayed on the offensive. His staff set up their famous "war room" and countered every Republican attack immediately, then turned it around and went on the attack themselves. It worked brilliantly and put him in the white house. We should take a page from that book and do the same.
Over the Top
This is unbelieveable. He is sick, truely sick.
Should we Close Camp Delta?
You don't have to go very far in the news to come up with a story about Camp Delta, the U.S. detention facility at Guantanamo Bay. Several prominent senators have called for the prison camp to be closed. Many in the Muslim world are all atwitter. Vice-President Cheney has launched a staunch defense. It has achieved the status of "embattled" in the media. We are told that the camp has become a public relations liability, and that the best solution is to close it down.
The arguments in favor of closing are not totally without merit. The camp has become something of a lightening rod for those who oppose our efforts. "Human Rights" groups (given the behavior of some of them recently, quotation marks are required) focus on it, and the media dutifully report their findings. Closing the base, it is argued, would deprive those who oppose us of a propaganda tool.
What is interesting is that in not one of the stories is an alternative proposed. This is either bad reporting or poor thinking on the part of those who want the prison closed. I'm inclined to think the latter. They appear to be talking first, thinking later.
Here are my reasons why we should keep Camp Delta open for business:
Since none of the people who want the base closed that I read about saw fit to offer alternatives, I'll go through them.
Move it to the continental United States. I can see the left salivating over this possibility. They would all converge on the base, set up camp outside, wave their protest signs for the media (who would dutifully cover them), and all sing kum-bay-ah. The place would become a magnet for every leftie group with a gripe, which is to say, all of them. We'd even have the "free Mumia" people there before long.
In addition, this would give the left a greater opportunity to use their favorite weapon; the lawsuit. I'm no lawyer, but you don't have to be one to see that a base in the U.S. proper would give a laywer more tools to work with.
Move it to a foreign country. Yeah. Know any that would be willing to take the political heat? I don't either.
Move it to Iraq. This would certainly keep the media and human rights types away, but I doubt that the Iraqis would like this. It would give the insurgency a propaganda tool and we don't need this. So this option is out also.
Disband it entirely and disperse the prisoners. I don't see how this solves anything. It would make it harder on our interrogators. The world would figure out where we'd sent them, and we'd have the same problems as in the first two options presented above.
Propaganda and Storms
Those who oppose our efforts will find something to complain about no matter what we do. If not Guantanamo Bay, then it will be something else.
Further, if we close the base now our opponents will simply smell blood and will go after bigger fish. They will not be satisfied. They will redouble their efforts on other fronts, mostly to try and get "fair trials" for the illegal combatants we are keeping prisoner. A few posts ago I went through how the prisoners should not and must not be treated as criminals, but as prisoners-of-war (albeit illegal ones).
Lastly, as I indicated above, I'm not sure that closing the base will put the issue to rest. Consider Abu Ghraib; this is still used by those who oppose us, even though the United States dealt firmly and swiftly with the abuses there. This CBS story about Guantanamo saw fit to mention Abu Ghraib in it's opening paragraph, for example. I suppose one could make the argument that keeping Guantanamo Bay open will also keep Abu Ghraib in the news, but my guess is that they'll be there anyway. They will never forgive us for Aby Ghraib, why should they forgive us for Guantanamo Bay? We may as well accept that the issue will always be with us, and fight back as best we can.
It is at good to see the Vice-President defend the camp to staunchly. Those of us who agree with him should help him as best we can.
June 13, 2005
Winds of War: Progressing in Iraq
Bill Roggio's Winds of War Iraq update is up, and as usual is a must-read. Actually it's been up for a few days, I'm just a bit late in getting to it.
Anyway, here are some of the points he makes:
The Insurgency has moved North as in response to Operation Thunder, which resulted in the arrests of over a thousand insurbents.
Car Bombings have Increased, but the new Targets are Iraqi Police. Bill says that although this will likely backfire on the insurgents as it will only increase the determination of the police.
Iraqi Police now patrol neighborhoods that they have no family or ethnic ties to. This is exactly the opposite of our initial strategy. The problem we found was that by Iraqi police patrolled their own neighborhoods they were more susceptiple to corruption and intimidation.
As a result, the insurgents have largely stopped trying to infiltrate the police.
Democracy is making slow but steady progress in Iraq. It is easy to get caught up in the daily headlines and miss the overall picture. Imagine if one tried to analyse World War II by looking at the daily casualty counts.
June 12, 2005
Iraq: How the Cops Took Back the Streets
The latest from StrategyPage is about the divisions within the remnants of the Ba'athist party. The insurgency consists of several parts; Islamists, Ba'athists, and common criminals. From my understanding, their numberical strength is pretty much in that order, too.
According to the article, the Ba'athist faction of the insurgency is splitting between "Accomodationists" and "Rejectionists". The former are willing to consider cooperation with the new government, the former not at all. There have been an increasing number of instances of Rejectionists targeting the Accomodationists. StrategyPage goes so far as to say that "the possibility of a serious violent confrontation between the two wings of the Baath movement is increasing."
Let us hope that it occurs. Nothing could serve our cause so well as if the terrorists fight each other. Last month during Operation Matador, we had several reports of (presumably) Al-Qaeda groups fighting each other.
Here's what the article says are the reasons for the resurgence of the Iraqi Police:
One reason for the despair within the Baath Party is the improved performance of the Iraqi police. This is no accident. Late last year, two changes were made to how the United States recruited and deployed the Iraqi police. First, standards for recruitment were increased, and training made longer and more intense. As expected, this did not reduce the number of new recruits coming in, because being a cop was still one of the better paying, and available, jobs in the other country. But firing poorly performing cops and police commanders did wonders for the morale and performance of the good cops. The other change was to deploy trained police battalions to areas the cops were not native to. This was a technique even Saddam had to use. If you recruit all the cops from the area they will be working in, too many of those policemen will be corrupted by local criminals and bureaucrats. The corruption wasn’t always in the from of cash or favors. Threats against a cops family would work as well. This was what was happening to so many of the police recruited from areas where they were working, particularly in Sunni Arab areas. So the U.S. formed special police battalions, trained them a bit more, screened their commanders more thoroughly, and paid them a bonus to work away from home. These were mainly Kurdish and Shia Arab cops being sent to work in Sunni Arab areas.
Now go and read the whole thing, which you should be doing on a daily basis anyway.
June 11, 2005
Iraq War Update
Assuming that current trend lines continue, we are on the way towards winning the war in Iraq. This may be difficult to see if all one does is look at the daily headlines. They tell of bombings, assassinations, and the deaths of American soldiers and marines.
Perhaps the most difficult thing in analyzing this war is the lack of traditional front lines. Up through the Korean War all one had to do is get a map, a supply of pins, and follow the daily news. Vietnam was more difficult, and the public and news media is wary of non-traditional wars.
Nevertheless, it should be apparent that while fighting and terrorism will continue for some time, perhaps years, we are well on the way toward winning this war.
I first wrote about this last April, when I summarized and commented on Rich Lowry's piece in National Review, "We're Winning" (digital subscription required). In "See I Told You So" I reprinted a Jack Kelly editorial in which he outlined his reasons why the war was all but won.
Today I'll give you some additional reasons from my own observations.
Why We're Winning
I first posted these reasons as a comment on Kats blog a few weeks ago. I'd wanted to turn it into a post of my own and am now finally getting around to it. For this post they have been expanded and the verbiage cleaned up
Committment: With the reelection of George Bush, the people of the United States decided that we are not going to cut and run. What's more important, the people of Iraq know it. Before our election many of them were "hanging back", unwilling to commit themselves for fear or retribution if we pulled out. I can't blame them either. But now we have seen an upsurge in Iraqis willing to fight the insurgency either by providing intelligence or joining their armed forces or police themselves.
Lack of an Opposing Ideology: The insurgent terrorists have no ideology that attracts the people of Iraq. This is quite unlike the Vietnam War, where the Viet Cong and North had a coherent well thought out ideology and effective propaganda machine. This is also an aspect of this war that many in the mainstream media seem determined to ignore.
The Insurgent Terrorists are Alienating the Iraqi People: The insurgent terrorists are mostly targeting the people of Iraq, which is hardly going to win them over. The terrorists are caught in a devils choice; if they target American forces they are massacred, if they target the people they lose their support.
The Iraqi Elections: Just as important as our own elections were thos in Iraq. These elections were successful (or successful enough) and now the people of Iraq have a government they can look to as being genuinely their own. There is still much negotiation that needs to be completed before the final shape of their government is determined, with much bickering and arguing. This will be reported in the press in apocalyptic terms. We should remember that our own founding was marked by much bickering and arguing as well.
The Sunnis have Come Round: Sunni leaders, who urged a boycott of the elections, seem to have recognized their mistake and are looking to correct that by participating in the government. StrategyPage (June 9 post) relates how Sunni leaders "...are being told, by their followers, that all this violence is not worth it" and that they should end their should cooperate with the Americans and the new government
Foreigners make up most of the Insurgency: More and more the insugency is made up of "foreigners" as they are unable to recruit as many Iraqis as they need to fill their ranks. Iraqis in their armed forces and police will kill foreigners much more readily than they will their own.
The Iraqi Police and Army: One of the most inspiring things about the new Iraq is that despite constant bombing of recruitment centers, Iraqis are still joining their armed forces and police. These forces also suffer high casualty rates compared to our military. That so many are joining cannot simply be explained by economics, that they join simply to get a job.
Other than the aforementioned articles in National Review, here are some other posts and sites that I recommend that you read:
Kat has an excellent series on the war that she's posted recently on her blog, The Middle Ground.
If you're not reading StrategyPage, especially the Iraq Daily Coverage section, you're missing out.
Wretchard has moved his Belmont Club to a new "fallback site". Keep it handy.
The Fourth Rail is must-read.
And don't forget my latest project, Threats Watch, a joint venture with Marvin Hutchins of Little Red Blog and Bill Rice of By Dawn's Early Light. Although it's still in beta you'll find it a great resource for the latest articles and information on the threats around the world that our country faces. We'll announce an official start-date soon, so stay tuned.
Past Wars Were Difficult Too
Yes, I know, this sounds like one of those "tell me something I don't already know" titles. But it's true.
Actually, it's not so much that past wars were difficult, it's rather that we won them despite the fact that we screwed so much up. We made so many mistakes in the Revolutionary War, Civil War (north's perspective), and World War II that when you read about them you quickly begin to wonder how we won at all.
I summarized this in a piece last February called "Right Analysis" in which I quoted Victor Davis Hanson on mistakes we made duriing World War II
Most of our armored vehicles were deathtraps, improved only days before the surrender. American torpedoes in the Pacific were often duds. Unescorted daylight bombing proved a disaster, but continued unabated. Amphibious assaults like Anzio and Tarawa were bloodbaths, plagued by terrible planning and command. The recapture of Manila was clumsy and far too costly. Okinawa was the worst of all operations, and yet was begun just over four months before the surrender — without careful planning for kamikazes, who were shortly to kill nearly 5,000 American sailors. Patton, the one general who could have ended the western war in 1944, was earlier relieved and then subordinated to an auxiliary position with near-fatal results for the drive from Normandy. Mediocrities like Mark Clark flourished and were promoted. Admiral King for far too long resisted the life-saving convoy system and thus unnecessarily sacrificed merchant ships; Admiral Bull Halsey almost lost his unprepared fleet to a storm.
But we mainly remember the P-51 Mustang that blew German fighters out of the sky and the victory at Midway against overwhelming odds. We know that our ships survived incredible damage because our sailors were the world's best at damage control. And this is not a bad thing.
The reality of history is that victory does not go to the side that fights the perfect war. Victory goes to the side that makes the fewest mistakes. And we are making a lot fewer of them than are our enemies.
Micheal Fumento is back from Iraq and is quite upbeat. His assessment is that "the war is ours to lose".
I observed that troop morale in even the most hostile areas was better than I would have believed. Unless I identified myself, nobody knew I was a reporter. Troops didn’t hold back antiwar feelings on my account. Yet I heard none. I also carefully fastidiously read the ubiquitous graffiti in the portable toilets and only once found a negative scrawling – a Bush bash. But three other scrawlings ambushed that first one.
Read the whole thing.
June 10, 2005
Here we go again on Prisoners of War
Here we go again, Guantanamo Bay is in the news. This time we are being instructed by no less than Jimmy Carter that we need to close down the prison there.
Yeah. There's a guy I'll take foreign policy advice from.
So here's the deal; we're being accused of two or three things, depending on which leftie you listen to. One; that the prisoners there should be given rights as accords prisoners of war under the Geneva Convention. Two, that some are "not guilty" of anything and should be released immediately. Three, that we have abused the dears and so Rumsfeld and Bush should be tried as war criminals....blah blah blah.
What utter nonsense, and for these reasons:
One, they do not and should not qualify as prisoners of war under the Geneva Convention.
Yes I said "should not", and for very good reasons that will become clear very shortly.
First, let's revisit the Geneva Convention. I wrote about this some time ago, but here goes again.
The full title is "Geneva Convention relative to the Treatment of Prisoners of War". It was adopted in 1949 and entered into force in 1950. Some lefties have tried to amend it in a blatant attempt to tie the hands of the United States, but thankfully they didn't succeed.
Anyway, the convention very specifically details exactly who may be considered a prisoner of war. Let's take a minute and go through Article 4, which is the section that defines who is a prisoner of war:
A. Prisoners of war, in the sense of the present Convention, are persons belonging to one of the following categories, who have fallen into the power of the enemy:
1. Members of the armed forces of a Party to the conflict as well as members of militias or volunteer corps forming part of such armed forces.
2. Members of other militias and members of other volunteer corps, including those of organized resistance movements, belonging to a Party to the conflict and operating in or outside their own territory, even if this territory is occupied, provided that such militias or volunteer corps, including such organized resistance movements, fulfil the following conditions:
(a) That of being commanded by a person responsible for his subordinates;
(b) That of having a fixed distinctive sign recognizable at a distance;
(c) That of carrying arms openly;
(d) That of conducting their operations in accordance with the laws and customs of war.
3. Members of regular armed forces who profess allegiance to a government or an authority not recognized by the Detaining Power.
4. Persons who accompany the armed forces without actually being members thereof, such as civilian members of military aircraft crews, war correspondents, supply contractors, members of labour units or of services responsible for the welfare of the armed forces, provided that they have received authorization from the armed forces which they accompany, who shall provide them for that purpose with an identity card similar to the annexed model.
5. Members of crews, including masters, pilots and apprentices, of the merchant marine and the crews of civil aircraft of the Parties to the conflict, who do not benefit by more favourable treatment under any other provisions of international law.
6. Inhabitants of a non-occupied territory, who on the approach of the enemy spontaneously take up arms to resist the invading forces, without having had time to form themselves into regular armed units, provided they carry arms openly and respect the laws and customs of war.
B. The following shall likewise be treated as prisoners of war under the present Convention:
1. Persons belonging, or having belonged, to the armed forces of the occupied country, if the occupying Power considers it necessary by reason of such allegiance to intern them, even though it has originally liberated them while hostilities were going on outside the territory it occupies, in particular where such persons have made an unsuccessful attempt to rejoin the armed forces to which they belong and which are engaged in combat, or where they fail to comply with a summons made to them with a view to internment.
2. The persons belonging to one of the categories enumerated in the present Article, who have been received by neutral or non-belligerent Powers on their territory and whom these Powers are required to intern under international law, without prejudice to any more favourable treatment which these Powers may choose to give and with the exception of Articles 8, 10, 15, 30, fifth paragraph, 58-67, 92, 126 and, where diplomatic relations exist between the Parties to the conflict and the neutral or non-belligerent Power concerned, those Articles concerning the Protecting Power. Where such diplomatic relations exist, the Parties to a conflict on whom these persons depend shall be allowed to perform towards them the functions of a Protecting Power as provided in the present Convention, without prejudice to the functions which these Parties normally exercise in conformity with diplomatic and consular usage and treaties.
C. This Article shall in no way affect the status of medical personnel and chaplains as provided for in Article 33 of the present Convention.
Now, anyone should be able to clearly see that the terrorists that we have captured do not fall into any of the above categories. Regarding section 2, a person must meet all four requirements, not one or two. Thus while a terrorist may be part of a heirarchy, they do not wear a uniform or " fixed distinctive sign"(our soldiers wear the US flag on their shoulder which the lawyers say counts), they do not carry arms openly and certainly are not part of an army from any recognized government. Heaven knows that hiding behind women and children, using Mosques as forts and ammunition depots, and sending forth human suicide bombers violate just about every law of war their is.
Want more? Here goes; in past wars, people caught out of uniform but armed were shot as spies on the spot.
They were lined up against the nearest wall and shot. This was done as a matter of course by all armies, including ours. I have read where German soldiers attempted to hide from our advancing troops by taking off their uniforms. When caught they were shot. You can be sure that the British and Russians did the same, as, for that matter, did the Germans sometimes when they caught partisans.
We would have been perfectly within our rights to have just lined them up on the nearest wall in Afghanistan or Iraq or wherever and shot them right then and there.
But Why Does It Matter?
It matters because the purpose of the Geneva Convention was to protect the civilians. That's right, the civilians, and to protect them from the ravages of guerilla war fought by irregular forces. Rich Lowry explains:
The convention was designed to disadvantage combatants who don't obey the laws of war by fighting out of uniform, lacking a discernable chain of command or targeting civilians. The distinction is meant to encourage combatants to honor relatively civilized standards of conduct in combat and foreswear such dangerous tactics as hiding among civilians.
Gore's absurd reinterpretation of the Geneva Convention to protect terrorists makes a huge intellectual concession to al Qaeda, former Baathist fighters, and other criminal groups — that their men are indistinguishable under international law from American GIs.
Lowry was in part responding to one of Al Gore's famous outbursts. Howard Dean fills the role of ranting lunatic these days, but that's for another post.
But again, the point of the Geneva Conventions was to provide a reward for combatants who obeyed the rules; good treatment if captured. And we don't just mean 3 squares a day, we mean good treatment. Very concerned about German treatment of our boys during WWII, our government went to great lengths to provide German POWs with a nice standard of living that was usually greater than that of American civilians, who scraped by on ration books (I saw a whole Discovery or History program on this once. It was amazing). We gave the Germans so much food they couldn't eat it all. We captured very few Japanese, as they prefered to fight to the death.
So in case someone needs it spelled out, if we were to give these terrorists Geneva Convention protections it would be reckless endangerment of civilians. Rather, they are propertly classified as "illegal combatants". So the next time some leftie demands that we give them Geneva Convention protection, ask them why they want to endanger civilians.
But Some of Them Are Not Guilty!
This is one that we hear almost every day; that x number of people that we are keeping in Guantanamo Bay have not been charged with anything and have (gasp) not even had a hearing! Oh horrors.
The response is simple: We are in a war, fool, not a police action. In a war you take prisoners, you do not arrest suspects. Just because they are illegal combatants does not change anything, either. There is no contradiction here. Illegal combatants can be detained throughout the course of the war and need not be charged with a crime. How long will the war last? How should I know?
You Are Abusing Them!
First, they're lucky that when we captured them we didn't line them up against the nearest wall and shoot them.
But that said, we shouldn't abuse them either. And we don't, not as a matter of policy. The people who perpetrated Abu Ghraib have or will be tried and punished. Others who abuse prisoners will face charges as well.
On one level, the left is just unhappy that they weren't able to get their Watergate; they wanted to "prove" that Rumsfeld and Bush personally ordered the abuses of Abu Ghraib.
But on another, there is a fundamenal disagreement over just what constitutes "abuse." It is good to have such debate and discussion, as long as it stays within certain bounds. One has to wonder, however, when we read about the lengths to which our military goes to "respect the dignity of the Koran". Perhaps such things are just to be expected in our modern age.
I said at the start of this war that it was really about willpower, and so it is. We must have the strength to do what we have to do in the face of pressure from the usual suspects. But whatever we do, let's not take our policy advice from Jimmy Carter.
A New Plan for Funding
I think that we should spend more on national defense. To pick one example, we need at least two more aircraft carrier battle groups. We are dangerously low now at 12.
Traditionally, we would petititon our elected representatives and request that they increase funding. But that is so old fashioned.
Here's a better idea; let's go to the Supreme Court and see if we can get them order Congress to increase funding. All we need to do is hire some fancy lawyers to make our case. We can avoid all that messy stuff about making our case in the court of public opinion, and simply go to the Supreme Court. Why hire expensive lobbyists and media consultants when all we need are a few attorneys?
Think it can't happen? Think again. And look to see what the Kansas Supreme Court just did.
The justices ordered the Kansas legislature to spend more money on the public schools. Yup. Ordered them. As in no choice, you have to vote the way we tell you to. And we're telling you that it takes $853 million to make public education "adequate" in the State of Kansas.
In January, the Kansas Supreme Court determined that the legislature had failed to adequately fund public schools. The court further reasoned that Kansas "failed to provide suitable finance for students in middle-sized and large districts with a high proportion of minority and/or at-risk and special-education students," and ordered the legislature to remedy the situation. Last week's ruling puts a dollar figure on the remedy. The state education association, of course, is "encouraged" and thinks this "will help get the state on the road to full funding." That's hardly surprising in a ruling that reads like an activist's brief. "We cannot continue to ask current Kansas students to 'be patient,' " it states. "The time for their education is now."
I'll ignore for now the B.S. statements by the state teachers union, er, "education association."
Watch for the left to instruct us that any criticism of the judiciary is "interference in their duties" or some other such hogwash.
Do we need any more reason to work hard to get strict constitutionalists on the bench?
June 8, 2005
Lefties Lose It
Today on the drive home from work I was listening to Sean Hannity. He kept playing a clip of himself on the Rosie O'Donnell show debating her and some other leftie women. It was absolutely hilarious. I hear that he showed it on his TV show also, but I'm not much of a TV watcher and was too busy to check.
Anyway, Rosie and/or the other leftie women were absolutely shouting at Sean over how terrible they thought it was that we had invaded Iraq. "Iraq was a sovereign country and we attacked in violation of the UN! Abu Ghriab! Abu Ghriab!" The women were absolutely screaming at the top of their lungs at him. It was all so confused that it was hard to make out how many women there were and who was doing the shouting.
Throughout the clip that he played, Sean kept his cool. He may have raised his voice a bit, but that was about it. He goaded them into losing their cool. And made complete fools of them (or her).
So what of this Sovereignty Business?
But what of it? Did Rosie (or whomever was screaming at Sean) have a point in arguing that our invasion was illegal?
Of course not.
We are a democratic, sovereign, nation, and may act on our own with or without United Nations approval. In all the wars we have fought since the UN was founded, we never said that UN approval was required, only tha it would be nice to have. Big difference.
Further, governments that are not based on some form of popular representation are in and of themselves illigitimate, as far as I am concerned. I will not have authoritarian or totalitarian nations telling us what we can or cannot do.
We, along with the UK and Australia, were going to assume all of the risks of invading Iraq. There is no reason why a country that is not willing to share in those risks should be able to tell us that we cannot invade.
What about Sovereignty?
Well, what about it? Haiti and the former Yugoslav republics were sovereign nations, right? Wasn't Somalia, too? Yet Bill Clinton attacked all three, and didn't have a UN resolution for any of it. Where was the left's outrage then?
For the record I think that President Clinton did the right thing in all three cases. There, now no one can say I haven't ever said anything nice about him.
For the cruise missile attack on the pharmaceutical plant in Somalia we thought we had good intelligence that it was producing chemical weapons. President Clinton ordered the strike, which in my opinion was the right thing to do. That the intel was bad was not his fault.
Clinton and the Europeans justified intervention in the former Yugoslav republics under the aegis of NATO. But NATO is a defensive treaty, its operative phrase being "an attack on one is an attack on all." Nowhere in its charter is there anything that might be used to justify what we did.
Likewise with Haiti. Haiti was a sovereign nation that had done us no harm. Clinton ordered the troops in on purely humanitarian grounds. This was also the right thing to do.
Ah, but is was quite something to see a bunch of leftist lose their cool at Sean. He is a national treasure. And it provided me with something to write about tonight.
June 7, 2005
John Thune Update
Last week I reported that freshman South Dakota Senator John Thune (the guy who beat Tom Daschle, if you're not sure) decided to vote against John Bolton not for anything Bolton may have done, but to protest plans to close Ellsworth Air Force Base base in his state.
At the time I derided Thune for what I believed to be atrocious reasoning. Whatever the situation may be with the air base, to vote against the president and his own party on such an important issue as the Bolton nomination shows at best bad politics and at worst a willingness to sacrifice national security for political gain (votes back home).
R Andrew Newman of National Review provides some additional information
Although it is natural for a state to want to hang on to a military installation with an estimated economic impact of $278 million and an annual payroll of $161 million, local politics cannot stand in the way if national security dictates that the base must close. But, in this case, the Base Realignment and Closure Commission has some legitimate reasons to consider a reprieve for Ellsworth.
The Department of Defense scored bases on a set of criteria that included current and future mission capabilities, geography, cost of operation, environmental impact, and economic impact on surrounding communities. According to the Pentagon report, Dyess Air Force Base in Texas nudged out Ellsworth 56.7 to 50.8 in the scoring.
Thankfully, for Ellsworth supporters, this doesn't appear to be a clear-cut victory for Dyess. Are there really sufficient "operational efficiencies" to warrant moving the 24 B-1Bs south? Cost should be an issue, but not at the sake of national security. The B-1B fleet is currently split between the South Dakota and Texas bases. Do we really want to have the B1-B's at one base? Thune has also questioned why the domestic list of base closures was made before the Quadrennial Defense Review and the restructuring of overseas bases were completed.
Whatever the legitimacy of his cause, Thune should be able to make it without voting against Bolton. If he must send a signal, for heavens sake, pick something less important to the nation and to your party.
We've Lost a Fellow Blogger
Bunker Mulligan passed away suddenly last Friday from a heart attack.
Michael James Reed, 1953-2005
Mike and the Reed family are in my prayers. You will be sorely missed.
June 6, 2005
The Fallacy of the ABM Mentality
This past Sunday I was watchiing the 11:00am show on Fox News while at my part-time job at an electronic retail store. The guest was John Loftus. From his website, "As a former Justice Department prosecutor, John Loftus once held some of the highest security clearances in the world, with special access to NATO Cosmic, CIA codeword, and Top Secret Nuclear files."
He told of a new Russian supersonic cruise missile which would be a threat to the US Navy or indeed the continental United States.
Although I didn't get the name of the missile at the time, from subsequent research I believe it to be the PJ-10 BrahMos.
The weapon is the result of a joint venture between India's Defence Research and Development Organisation and Russia's NPO Mashinostroyenia. From Global Security:
The BrahMos missile is a two-stage vehicle that has a solid propellant booster and a liquid (propellant) ram jet system.
The jointly developed Indo-Russian anti-ship cruise missile, which was successfully test-fired from Chandipur interim test range in Orissa, is a crucial step forward in India's defence efforts. This technological achievement places India among a small group of countries to acquire the capacity of producing cruise missiles. What, however, makes the jointly produced cruise missile distinguishable from others is that it travels at a supersonic speed i.e. more than twice the speed of sound. Almost all other contemporary anti-ship missiles fly at subsonic speed. Its other distinguishing feature is that the Indo-Russian cruise missile is a state-of-the-art product.
Its unmatchable speed is its high point, making it invincible. The supersonic speed imparts it a greater strike-power as well. Possessing stealth characteristics, the 6.9-meter cruise missile weighing three tons has a range of 280 km. Its another outstanding feature is that it is highly accurate and can be guided to its target mainly with the help of an onboard computer. This has been established by the test-flight. The computer and the guidance system have been designed by India whereas Russia has provided the propulsion system.
Loftus' point was that this and similar weapons invalidated our missile defense program, because they are an "end around". The idea is that countries can "simply" get around our missile defenses by developing our buying long-range cruize missiles.
Loftus wanted us to take from this that pulling out of the ABM was a huge mistake. Indeed, according to Loftus the "the Russians warned us" that they'd develop this weapon when we pulled out.
Even if I do not have the technical specifics correct as to what weapon Loftus was referring to, it doesn't really matter. We've all heard these arguments before.
The Fallacy of the ABM Mentality
There are a whole host of reasons why I believe Missile Defense is needed and why the opponents are wrong. Here we go, in no particular order:
First, let's get the Russians out of the way.
By this I mean an enemy who has the capability to fire serious amounts of nuclear weaponry our way. It was often said during the Cold War that missile defense was pointless because we couldn't stop every one they fired at us. Plenty would get though, and the devastation would be terrible. Better to rely on treaties and Mutual Assured Destruction.
There are several things wrong with these arguments. One, MAD is of dubious morality, especially when the targeting is countervalue (population centers) rather than counterforce (military targets). Second, treaties would never do much good anyway. Third, worst case, by reducing even a percentage of incoming missiles we would avoid at least some damage. I never did buy the "I'd rather be dead than live in a post-nuclear world" stuff. I'll take my chances alive, thank you. I at least want a chance to live. And you have no business telling Americans that they'd be better of dead anyway.
The Alternate Delivery Argument
Some say that if we build defenses against missiles "all our enemies have to do is to find another way to deliver them." Loftus was making just such an argument. If we build a defense against missiles, our enemy will build low-to-the-ground cruise missiles. Or they'll smuggle them into our cities. It's sort of an updated Maginot Line argument.
But by this logic we may as well not defend against anything. Airport security? They'll just hijack trains. Harbor security? They'll just come across the border. Firewalls on our computer systems? They'll just get work to get jobs with clearances and subvert systems from within. For that matter, why build defenses against anything?
But a Missile Attack is not Probable
This is another version of the argument made above. The problem with it is that all you have to do is look around the world and see the types and numbers of missiles our enemies have. All too many pose a serious threat to our country.
But it would be Suicide for them to Attack Us
Al-Qaeda crazies are one thing, this line of argument goes, but leaders of nation-states have too much to lose.
Sometimes this argument holds water. For example, once Breshnev came into power, the Soviet Union was not going to up and launch nuclear strikes on us. They were evil, but not crazy. Same with the Chinese in the post-Mao Tse-Tung era.
But even this starts to fall apart, and I haven't even gotten to the main part of my counter-argument. Note what I said above; "in the post...era" Khrushchev and Mao were dangerous and unpredictable, the former a ranting warmonger, and the latter completely uncaring about the possible deaths of millions of his countrymen in a nuclear war with the United States (Mao even scared the Russians, who came away shaken after conversations with him on this subject).
But the main problem with this anti-missile defense argument is that it assumes that foreign leaders will behave according to our definition of what is rational. It is "mirror image" thinking; "they would do such-and-such because if I were in their shoes it is what I would do." Now is not the time or place for a hundred examples from history, but a quick review of the Second World War should disbuse anyone of the notion that totalitarians act rationally.
It Won't Work
This argument is stated in various forms. Another version is "they'll always be one step ahead of us". No matter how it is stated, what it comes down to is a technical argument that our technology won't be up the task.
I don't have the time to do a full-scale dissertation, but suffice it to make a few points. One, development of an ABM system will take time. Because of constant opposition from Democrats, we are behind we should be. We lost much time during the 1990s. Second, we put a man on the moon thirty-five years ago, folks. Come on, of course we can do it if we set our minds (and money) to the task. Yes there will be failures along the way. Many, probably. But all test programs are full of failures (and if aircraft, crashes).
Ok, enough for now. Not a terribly topical post, I realize, but one I wanted to write about.
Who is The Redhunter?
"Who is the Redhunter?" first appeared on Warm n'Fuzzy Conserva-Puppies, which is my other blog site. As I've moved to a new website, it seemed appropriate to repost it.
A Cold Warrior
I remember the exact moment it happened. I believe I was a junior in high school, which would place the event in the 1976/77 school year. Our English classes were set up so that just as in college, students had a series of classes to choose from each quarter. As I recall, most of the classes were literature. The class I chose for that fateful class was centered on totalitarianism. We read two or three books that quarter, but there was one that made a profound impact on me.
That book was "1984" by George Orwell. To this day I remember how profoundly I was struck by this work. Like everyone else who reads it, I was rooting for Winston Smith throughout the book. When he was utterly defeated by the overpowering might of the totalitarian state, I was devastated. It was not just that they had imprisoned him, or tortured him, that hit me. It was the success of their effort at mind control. By the end, Smith is not merely forced to cooperate, he willingly converts to the belief that Big Brother is good. He becomes a total convert to Ingsoc, the state ideology. It was this, then, that hit me the hardest.
As I said, I remember the exact moment that I finished the book. Before this event, politics, and especially the Cold War struggle against the Soviet Union, were abstractions. No more. "The Soviet Union must be destroyed" went through my mind again and again.
I was never taken in by those leftists who insist on seeing Orwell's work as an attack on the west, and in particular the United States. To be sure, we can see "Orwellian" speech in our daily lives, and we sometimes say that "Big Brother" is doing this or that in our country. But there was never any doubt in my mind that Orwell's masterpiece was primarily an attack on the totalitarian mind-control ideologies of his day; Soviet communism and German Nazism. We had defeated the latter, but the former remained a significant threat.
This began a life-long study of the world around me. Over the past twenty-five or so years I have read dozens if not hundreds of books on a variety of subjects. Initially my primary reading centered around military history and totalitarian ideologies, and indeed books on these subjects still make up the majority of my library.
It always seemed natural for me to be a political conservative. My parents were Republicans, and not being a rebellious type it was natural for me to follow in their footsteps. This, coupled with my anti-Soviet crusade, led me to the right.
I suppose if I had been born twenty years earlier the chances of my going to either party were about equal. Up until the late '60s the Democrats were as anti-Soviet as the Republicans. The sea change that occurred at the end of the Vietnam war squelched any chance of my becoming a Democrat.
My beliefs have not changed that much over the years. If anything, perhaps I have become more libertarian. As I have grown more as a Christian, I have been less impressed by the "religious right"; something of a paradox, perhaps.
I then grew up as a dedicated Cold Warrior. If you check out my personal blog, you'll see that it's got a Cold War name. The story there is simple; when thinking of a title, I started looking at my book collection for inspiration. I came across William F Buckley's The Redhunter. This book tells the story of Senator Joe McCarthy in novel form. Buckley's theme is that while McCarthy and his minon Roy Cohn were scoundrels, the cause of anti-communism is noble and just. It is a theme with which I agree wholeheartedly. I therefore chose it as the title of my blog.
I therefore see our current war against the Islamofascists as in the same mold as the great twentieth-century struggles against Nazism and Communism. Different in many ways, but also quite similar. Whether we win or seek accommodation depends on our willpower. Despite occasional missteps, we prevailed against the old totalitarians. We can do so again.
June 5, 2005
The Consequences of Failure
This morning in the Washington Times the lead editorial was so "right on" that I thought I'd share it with you. Now, I'm sure that most of my readers will also say "right on!" after you read it, so in that sense it's nothing new.
But that's ok, because that's one thing that makes Internet blogging so grea; the ability to spread good ideas. Well, that and the ability to spread the absolutely whacko stuff spoken by the likes of Eason Jordan, Linda Foley, and our newest corporate bigwig whacko; Indra Nooyi. But I don't want to get too far off on a tangent so I'll get back to what I was talking about.
The editorial is by Clifford May, and unfortunately for some reason the Times doesn't have it on their website, so I went to townhall.com to get it. Which is fine, but the Times can be frustrating like that sometimes.
May asks what the result would be if we simply gave up and pulled out of Iraq. What might happen if we up and agreed with the liberals in the Democrat Party and the mainstream media that Iraq was a hopeless quagmire and that the only thing to do was to pull out?
It surely would mean a blood bath as the Ba'athist insurgents and al-Qaeda terrorists settled scores and demonstrated – as an object lesson for others -- the price that must be paid for collaborating with American infidels.
Iraqi terrorist training camps would no doubt be re-opened. Refurbishing Salman Pak, for example, not only would humiliate America but, more practically, could turn out skilled replacements for those combatants lost during the Iraq and Afghanistan campaigns.
On a conceptual level, it would now be apparent that America's flight from Beirut after the slaughter of its Marines in 1983, its hasty withdrawal from Somalia ten years later, its refusal to hold any terrorist nation, dictator or group responsible for the first World Trade Center bombing – these were not flukes or mistakes but points in a trend line. It would confirm the belief that the West is in decline and that a superior force is destined to prevail – exactly what both Osama bin Laden and Saddam Hussein have long predicted.
Al-Qaeda, Saddam loyalists, agents of the Iranian mullahs – whichever group or alliance of groups emerged on top in Iraq would build on their success. Before long we could expect an “insurgency” in Kuwait: the assassination of a few key figures, some beheadings and suicide bombings. The wave would continue into Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Pakistan and beyond. Who would stop it? How would they stop it?
With expanding territory, population and resources, including vast oil wealth, the leaders of the new totalitarian confederation or empire – or caliphate -- could manipulate the world's economy to its benefit and to the detriment of those few nations who might dare obstruct their ascendance. Nuclear, biological and chemical weapons would soon be theirs. They'd want them only for peaceful purposes, of course; and for deterrence.
Before long, the dream of both Saddam and bin Laden would be realized. There would be an oil-rich, nuclear-armed new superpower, a true rival to the decadent and divided West. Quietly, it would empower “non-state actors,” AKA, terrorist groups.
In Europe, radical Islamists would become increasingly demanding. They'd find European leaders surprisingly accommodating. Americans, by contrast, would be obstreperous and try to better seal their borders. Such efforts would only delay the inevitable. Chances are that, eventually, a nuclear weapon or germ bomb would be detonated in some American population center. World leaders would express sympathy. But what could be done? Investigate who had supplied it to whom? Ask the United Nations to impose sanctions? Retaliate against the civilian populations of Baghdad and Tehran?
So let's break down what he is saying and go over each part a bit:
One, Iraq will experience a bloodbath that will rival Saddam's murders. And they think things are bad now. This happened, recall, when we pulled out of Vietnam. More people were killed by the communists in South Vietnam and Cambodia (mainly the latteer) after the war than during it. We'll have another episode of "boat people", just don't count on the liberals to be there to pick them up.
Two, terrorists newly trained in Iraq will come forth to wreck havoc on the rest of the world. Ok, I can just hear it, some pointy-head anti-war type is saying "see! see! if you'd never invaded we wouldn't have this problem!" Uh, you miss the point. If we hadn't taken down Saddam we'd eventually have had a Iraq free of sanctions and armed with WMD. The sanctions were falling apart by 2003, but I don't have time to go into that now.
Three, Al-Quada would establish their Caliphate and institute fundamendalist Islam throughout as much of the world as they can. They would create a regular army and send it forth to wreck havoc on the world. And you thought terrorists were trouble? Hmm, there's a historical analogy here somewhere, let me think. Oh yes, there it is; can you say "Third Reich"? Remember that Hitler wanted to recreate what he saw as past German glories. Hard as it is for the modern western mind to grasp, the crazies in Al-Qaeda want to to the same for Islam.
The horror of the post-war in Vietnam would be tame compared to Iraq. May knows that some will say that defeat in Vietnam wasn't so bad, because
...after the U.S. defeat in Vietnam life returned to normal for most Americans. But Ho Chi Min had modest ambitions. He never sought to topple the American colossus; the Viet Cong never attempted to massacre Americans on American soil.
Fortunately for the other countries in the region such as Thailand, they were able to use the time we fought the communists in Vietnam to arm themselves. And the North Vietnamese were so exhausted by the war that they didn't have the strengh to spread their ideology to neighboring countries.
This time is different. As Clifford May says, "Failure is Not an Option" No indeed.
June 4, 2005
Good News Bad News
These past few weeks I've been spending time working on bringing up this site and helping to get Threats Watch ready for launch.
There's been a ton in the news that has riled me up one way or the other, I just haven't had time to write much on it.
Are we ever going to get John Bolton confirmed? I swear I do not know why we are allowing the Democrats to stall this forever. Their claim that they need more documents is ridiculous. They're on a fishing expedition and everyone knows it.
The president could do a recess appointment, but that would be a de facto admission that he couldn't get confirmed. The Democrats would have a twofold victory; first they'd scream foul and get a lot of good press out of that, second they'd crow about how they'd been "proven" right about Bolton. It would be very demoralizing to conservatives.
Once again the other day I got a letter from the GOP wanting money. This one was from the state party. And once again I sent the envelope back with a letter saying that I wouldn't be sending any more money to a general GOP fund until we ended the Democrat filibusters. I will and have given money to individual Republicans like Senator Geore Allen and Representative Frank Wolf, but not to the party as a whole, until this is resolved.
If enough of us do this believe you me they'll get the message.
So much happening there; Operations Matodor, Lightning, and Thunder have, from what I read at Belmont Club and StrategyPage, met with success. As I've said before in longer posts, we're winning this thing.
Yes there is much more fighting to come. And there will be setbacks. But as I heard Mark Levin say to some liberal callerLook on the Sean Hannity show a few months ago (from memory):
Look, this is a war. It's hard. If it was easy, Clinton would have done it!
When I heard that I swear I almost drove off the road I laughed so hard.
As for the war, the terrorists in Iraq are losing because they are alienating the Iraqi people. Here's StrategyPage:
The terrorists have followed the path of least resistance. Thus they avoid attacking American troops, and concentrate more on easier targets, like Iraqi police and civilians. Attacking mosques has become a favorite tactic, although this enrages the more religious Iraqis, who are the very people the al Qaeda terrorists are doing all this for. While the mosque is usually, but not always, a Shia one, that makes little difference to most Iraqis. The mosque attacks, more than anything else, have turned Iraqis against the terrorists.
Gitmo and the Koran
Of all the stories this one made my blood boil the most. Here we are, in the middle of a war with people who are evil almost beyond belief, and Amnesty International and all sorts of other liberals are all up in arms because our interrogators may have done something disrespectful to the Koran.
These prisoners at Gitmo are the modern-day equivalent to the Nazi SS Einsatzgruppen ("Extermiation squads"). No that does not mean that anything goes with regard to how we treat them. There are still limits and we should not torture them. But neither do they deserve ACLU lawyers. As I've written before (but don't have time to find the link) they are "illegal combatants" and for a variety of reasons do not deserve nor should be given Geneva Convention protection.
As for the Koran, oh heaven help me. Muslims wherever have no business rioting over an allegation, true or no, that the Koran has been treated disrespectfully. That they did so in Afghanistan points to the diffuculties we face there.
In my opinion if we defaced the Koran so what. It's a legit interrogation technique. And as the invaluable Michelle Malkin documents, the prisoners at Gitmo have defaced it themselves. Yes you read that right.
Our media of course aren't helping us much. And this brings up...
I haven't completely made up my mind on this one. My comments here won't be about whether Mark Felt did the right or wrong thing, but about the press in general.
Vietnam and Watergate have become the twin holy grails of liberal reporters (almost redundant, I know). There entire career seems to be pursuing the dream of the crusading reporter who proves that the US military is lying, that all American wars will immediately become another Vietnam, that the president (especially if a Republican) is lying and can be brought to his knees with the right scandal.
Yes I know some conservatives got carried away during the Clinton years. There is a tendancy to believe every bad thing you hear about your political opponents. But while all the Clinton scandals may not have been true, he did deserve his impeachment.
Anyway, these past few weeks have certainly been interesting.
Stay tuned for more.
What Has She Been Drinking?
First Eason Jordan, then Linda Foley, now the President and CEO of PepsiCo?
In her commencement address to the graduates of Columbia Business School this past May 15, Indra Nooyi accused the United States of giving the finger to the rest of the world.
Here's what she said:
This analogy of the five fingers as the five major continents leaves the long, middle finger for North America, and, in particular, The United States. As the longest of the fingers, it really stands out. The middle finger anchors every function that the hand performs and is the key to all of the fingers working together efficiently and effectively. This is a really good thing, and has given the U.S. a leg-up in global business since the end of World War I.
However, if used inappropriately – just like the U.S. itself - the middle finger can convey a negative message and get us in trouble. You know what I’m talking about. In fact, I suspect you’re hoping that I’ll demonstrate what I mean. And trust me, I’m not looking for volunteers to model.
Discretion being the better part of valor...I think I’ll pass.
What is most crucial to my analogy of the five fingers as the five major continents, is that each of us in the U.S. – the long middle finger – must be careful that when we extend our arm in either a business or political sense, we take pains to assure we are giving a hand...not the finger. Sometimes this is very difficult. Because the U.S. – the middle finger – sticks out so much, we can send the wrong message unintentionally.
Unfortunately, I think this is how the rest of the world looks at the U.S. right now. Not as part of the hand – giving strength and purpose to the rest of the fingers – but, instead, scratching our nose and sending a far different signal.
Yeah? Well, the way I look at you, Ms Nooyi, is that you're nuts. This is your idea of a commencement address?
More to the point, how do people like this rise to the top? Does no one ever stop and say, "so-in-so is really nuts!" There is no way that this the whacko statements we have heard from Nooyi, Eason Jordan, and Linda Foley came out of the blue. They've said this stuff before.
Scott Johnson of Powerline posted PepsiCo's response, which you can read on his Weekly Standard article. Hint; it's not convincing.
Ms Nooyi has also issued one of those "I'm sorry but my remarks were misconstrued" psuedoapologies. You can also read it in the Weekly Standard piece. She says that she is "deeply sorry for offending anyone", but doesn't really take back what she said. At least that's how I read it.
Apparently I'm a bit behind on this one because as I check around I see a lot of other folks have been blogging on it also, including Michelle Malkin, Powerline, and Hugh Hewitt. Well that's what happens when you spend your time setting up a few new blogs. But then again, that's the purpose of blogs, to keep the stories alive that the msm despirately want to ignore.
Am I going to have to give up on Pepsi now?
June 3, 2005
If you're reading this then you've found my new website. Thank you very much for visiting. I know I've been talking about this for a few weeks, and it took longer than expected to set this up and migrate from blogger.
Thank you to Marvin Hutchins of Little Red Blog, for his invaluable assistance in explaining the mysteries of Moveable Type to me. Please also take a minute and visit his site. He did most of the work in getting this site set up and migrating the old blogger files, so my hat's off to him. I've always been a hardware guy so software doesn't come naturally. But I'm actually catching on to this.
I've been rather busy of late, and between this and working on getting Threats Watch ready for launch, posts have been light recently. Oh, and that day job thing keeps getting in the way too. Not to mention my part-time job, but I'll be cutting back on that after next week.
I'm going to keep the blogger site as an emergency backup, so if in future this site doesn't seem to work go there for an explanation.
In short, I apologize for the lack of posts these past few weeks. But that will change shortly, so stay tuned.
You'll also want to check back periodically because shortly I'll post a launch date for Threats Watch. I think you'll rather like it. You can go there now to view the beta site, and as it is it's full of information and links that I think will be very helpful to anyone doing research on countries such as China, Sudan, Afghanistan, etc. Three of us are editors, and every day we go through news sites and find articles about the threats our country faces. We link to them in the relevant sections of Threats Watch. We've also got links to other informational sites. Go take a look and let me know what you think.