November 30, 2005
Shaking Them Up at the UN
John Bolton seems to be doing good work over at the United Nations.
A senior U.N. administrator warned yesterday evening that a U.S. proposal to pass an interim three-month budget while delegates continue to debate reform could have a disastrous effect on the United Nations.
Good. If it's bad for the UN, it's good for us and freedom seeking people everywhere.
The Bush administration has refused to pass the proposed $3.6 billion biennial budget unless it includes a variety of administrative and management reforms to make the organization more efficient and effective.
To avoid a budget crisis, U.S. officials have suggested passing a sort of continuing resolution, which is common in Washington and other capitals but unprecedented at the United Nations.
"We do not want to be in a position where we adopt a budget next month and we get no more reform for the two-year life of the budget," U.S. Ambassador John R. Bolton told reporters on Monday.
But U.N. Comptroller Warren Sach said the interim budget would leave the organization in a cash crunch, forcing it to borrow from closed peacekeeping missions and dwindling management accounts.
The UN is such a corrupt organization, and so in the pocket of dictators, that it needs to be hit over the head with a two by four. If this is what it takes to force reform, then so be it.
But wait, there's more. Here's one reason, among so many, why it's so important to shake that organization to its roots.
The UN Plan to Control the Internet
The UN denies it, and I've read editorials in techie magazines at work whereby they minimize it, but the fact of the matter is that some at the UN want to assume control of the most important part of what makes up the Internet, the name servers. From StrategyPage:
The United Nations (UN) is campaigning to take over the one aspect of the Internet that can be controlled centrally, the DNS (Domain Name Server) system. This was one of the key ideas that make the Internet work. DNS is a system of server computers that contain the list of web site names, and the twelve digit long IDs that computers actually use to find sites on the net. Since DNS was invented in the United States, the organization ICANN, that supervises the assignment of web site names, is in the U.S. (as an organization independent of any government and staffed by an international crew.) But the UN believes that its American origins makes ICANN the creature of the U.S. government, and believes an international organization should control the DNS system.
Why is control of DNS so important?
Major members, or groups of smaller members, of the UN, can exercise considerable control over UN organizations. For example, uf DNS were controlled by the UN, China could insure that any site names China did not approve of, never appeared.
Now do you see?
The planners at the UN, of course, doesn't see it this way. Their stated goals, are, as you may predict, quite laudable. They "...include expanding Internet access in developing countries and fighting spam."
But given the UN's history, it is not the organization to take on these objectives. All it would likely create is a huge bureaucracy and lots of red tape. In other words, it would be hugely expensive and accomplish little.
The real danger comes from dictators who don't like to be criticized. Carlos Ramos-Mrosovsky & Joseph Barillari, in an article posted on NRO in September, explain:
Only dictators, and, perhaps, the doctrinaire internationalists who so often abet them, stand to gain from placing the Internet under "international" control. If, for example, the U.N. were to control domain names, its component tyrannies would find it much easier to censor and repress. After all, "internet public policy" is subject to interpretation, and it is hard to imagine international bureaucrats resisting — as ICANN and the U.S. largely have — the temptation to politicize their task. At first, this could even seem reasonable: E.U. officials might seek to eliminate neo-Nazi domains. Inevitably, however, dictatorships would seek to extinguish undesirable foreign web content at the source. Given the U.N.'s penchant for condemning good causes, it is easy to imagine Tehran pushing to suppress "racist" (i.e. "Zionist") websites, or steady pressure from Beijing to eliminate Taiwan's ".tw" domain. (One China, one top-level domain.)
China, a major proponent of a U.N.-administered Internet, already operates the world's largest and most advanced system of online censorship. Thousands of government agents, including some from ITU Director Zhao's former Department of Telecommunications, make sure that websites, e-mails, and even search-engine results deemed threatening to the regime remain inaccessible to a fifth of the world's population. U.S. companies have shamefully participated in this system, as shown by China's recent jailing of dissident journalist Shi Tao based on information revealed by Yahoo!, Inc. Chinese Internet users are unable to access the websites of the Voice of America or, even, the BBC. The regime's filtering is so sophisticated that many sites, such as cnn.com, time.com, and, curiously, yale.edu, are filtered page-by-page, thus maintaining the illusion of openness. Other WGIG participants have similar policies. Like China, Iran, and Saudi Arabia also recognize that control over the Internet brings them closer to control over minds. It is unsurprising, then, that Mr. Zhao and his ilk support the U.N.'s drive to give them more of it.
Gotta keep an eye on 'em. For now, Bolton seems to be right for the job. But he is a recess appointment, who's term will be up in January 2007. The Democrats will likely object to him if he is renominated.
I've written about these UN plans before, but it seems a good idea to keep them in the spotlight. They'll sneak them in under the radar unless we keep a watch on them.
November 29, 2005
Lieberman Gets it Right
If you haven't read Senator Joe Liebermans' editorial in the Wall Street Journal, do so now. He just got back from Iraq, and has a lot to say. Here's the critical part:
Does America have a good plan for doing this, a strategy for victory in Iraq? Yes we do. And it is important to make it clear to the American people that the plan has not remained stubbornly still but has changed over the years. Mistakes, some of them big, were made after Saddam was removed, and no one who supports the war should hesitate to admit that; but we have learned from those mistakes and, in characteristic American fashion, from what has worked and not worked on the ground. The administration's recent use of the banner "clear, hold and build" accurately describes the strategy as I saw it being implemented last week.
We are now embedding a core of coalition forces in every Iraqi fighting unit, which makes each unit more effective and acts as a multiplier of our forces. Progress in "clearing" and "holding" is being made. The Sixth Infantry Division of the Iraqi Security Forces now controls and polices more than one-third of Baghdad on its own. Coalition and Iraqi forces have together cleared the previously terrorist-controlled cities of Fallujah, Mosul and Tal Afar, and most of the border with Syria. Those areas are now being "held" secure by the Iraqi military themselves. Iraqi and coalition forces are jointly carrying out a mission to clear Ramadi, now the most dangerous city in Al-Anbar province at the west end of the Sunni Triangle.
Nationwide, American military leaders estimate that about one-third of the approximately 100,000 members of the Iraqi military are able to "lead the fight" themselves with logistical support from the U.S., and that that number should double by next year. If that happens, American military forces could begin a drawdown in numbers proportional to the increasing self-sufficiency of the Iraqi forces in 2006. If all goes well, I believe we can have a much smaller American military presence there by the end of 2006 or in 2007, but it is also likely that our presence will need to be significant in Iraq or nearby for years to come.
The economic reconstruction of Iraq has gone slower than it should have, and too much money has been wasted or stolen. Ambassador Khalilzad is now implementing reform that has worked in Afghanistan--Provincial Reconstruction Teams, composed of American economic and political experts, working in partnership in each of Iraq's 18 provinces with its elected leadership, civil service and the private sector. That is the "build" part of the "clear, hold and build" strategy, and so is the work American and international teams are doing to professionalize national and provincial governmental agencies in Iraq.
These are new ideas that are working and changing the reality on the ground, which is undoubtedly why the Iraqi people are optimistic about their future--and why the American people should be, too.
Either one of two things will happen. Either this will encourage other reasonable Democrats to come out of hiding, and they can begin the process of taking back their party from the extremists who have seized control, or Lieberman will be ostracized in the manner of Zell Miller.
November 26, 2005
One of the things that is often heard is that we should have committed more troops to Iraq. The criticism of "more troops" comes from all sides, and for a variety of reasons. When we hear it from John McCain, we can be sure it is honestly made, with the best of intentions in mind. When we hear it from leftist war critics, their motivations may not always be so kind.
Nevertheless, it is one I will consider in my series on "Iraq War Fallacies. I take it up because we hear it so often, and because those who make it are so vague when they say it.
This post is not so much military analysis as it is an attempt to define how we should think about the matter.
Lastly, please understand that because this is a blog post and not a book or academic treatise, I am not going to set things up by quoting those who have said we need or have needed more troops. Anyone who has listened to the news these past few years knows who they are.
When do the critics say we should have had more troops? We need to remember that broadly speaking the war in Iraq has consisted of two phases; the initial invasion, and the insurgency.
Unfortunatly, it has been my observation that most of those who say that we need "more troops" are either not specific on this point or they get it wrong. Most who say that we need "more troops" seem to be saying that we should have had them there from the beginning.
If they say that we should have had them there from the beginning, it is my contention that they have it exactly backwards. From everything I saw the initial invasion was brilliantly planned and executed, and the forces used were almost exactly right.
And indeed the success of that initial invasion is too often forgotten. Those who never supported the war from the beginning crow all too often that "we have been proven correct." Nothing, of course, is further from the truth. The critics predicted thousands of American casualties in the initial invasion, as well as the famed "Battle of Baghdad", neither of which took place. But my intentions here are not to make the critics eat their words.
It was only later, once the insurgency started, that we should have sent in more troops. One problem we have faced is that after we have cleared an area of insurgents (or "terrorists" if you prefer. I prefer not to quibble over terms), and our forces have moved on, the terrorists move back in. In other words, we can clear but not hold. Another problem is that the insurgency is supplied with men, material, and intelligence from Iran and Syria. We do not have enough troops to secure the border against their infiltration.
These problems are slowly but surely being alleviated with the emergence of the new Iraqi army. Unfortunately this is a slow process, burdened by a tradition of incompetence among Arabs in general and Iraqis in particular in military affairs. In another post I will tackle the fallacy that "we should have kept the Iraqi army(Saddam's army)" after the initial invasion. For now suffice it to say that we should have had more troops in the country to secure the areas we have cleared of insurgents.
But it's not that simple.
Where Would they Come From?
The most absolutely frustrating thing in listening to the critics is that I have never heard a one of them say exactly where the additional troops are supposed to come from.
There are two choices for obtaining more troops; bringing them from another theater, and raising new units. Each has advantages and disavantages.
The main advantage of bringing in troops from another theater is that it could be done quickly. It would also be cheaper than raising new units.
The disadvantage is that we have those troops in various places around the world for a reason; we need them there. We face threats around the world, and these days troops are likely to be used for anything from humanitarian relief during a natural disaster, to peacekeeping missions, to what the military calls high-intensity warfare.
So where are they to be taken from? The critics rarely say. We have troops in South Korea, so maybe we can take them from there. "Can't they defend themselves?" is something we often hear. The answer is that yes, they could, but this misses the point. We have our troops there not because the South Koreans coulnd't defend themselves (they could), but to prevent a war from breaking out in the first place. Kim Jong Il might mistakenly calculate that he can take the south, but the risks grow immesurably when American forces are involved.
Ok perhaps we take the risk and move those troops to Iraq (to continue our example). The point is that those who say we need more troops in Iraq, and want to use existing forces, have an obligation to tell us 1) where they would come from and 2) why the risk is acceptable. That they almost never do so is simply irresponsible.
The next option is to increase the size of our military. After all, we are told, we need "more troops" both at home and abroad.
The advantage to this is that given the level of threats around the world, and the use to which our forces are put, we do need more troops. We constantly hear that our forces are "stretched thin", and in this the critics are right.
One disadvantage is that the process of reactivating units takes time. Most sources that I've read put the time at about two years. That new units would not be ready for action for some time raises two issues; one that in the meantime they are not where they are needed, and two that when they are ready they might not be needed.
"Not needed!?!" you say. Yes, "not needed". Far too many critics seem to think that they have a perfect crystal ball and can predict with absolute certainty what the future will hold. They act like they predicted the insurgency, when few of them did. They act like they know how long it will last, which none of them do.
The other problem is one of money. We already face a mounting federal deficit. Where are we to get the money from? There are two options; raise taxes or increase the deficit. Either would hurt the economy. Again, my problem is not that we should not do one or the other, but rather that those who are on the "more troops!" bandwagon have an obligation to tell us where we will get the money and why the negative effect on the economy is worth it. But they almost never do.
It's the Logistics, Stupid
The old aphorism "amateurs talk strategy, pros talk logistics" is true. Modern armies consume vast amounts of food, ammunition, fuel, and a million other things without which they would deteriorate rapidly.
During the Gulf War of 1990-91 we had access to the excellent port facilities of Saudi Arabia, and also to bases thoughout the country. Ever since the 1970s we had contingency plans for putting troops in that country, and years of building facilities paid off.
Saudi Arabia did not want lots of additional American troops coming to their country for an invasion of Iraq. As such, their help was limited to what we already had in the country, and the use of some clandestine bases for special ops work.
American troops, therefore, were limited to Kuwait as their staging area for Operation Iraqi Freedom(OIF). Kuwait's port facilities are smaller than that of Saudi Arabia, and the country itself is much smaller. The first meant that the amount of material that we could off-load into the country every day/week/month was limited and could't support a Desert Storm size force. The second meant that it would be harder to keep a large army dispersed enough to prevent preemptive attack by Saddam.
Dynamic vs Static Thinking
A static thinking model assumes that if you change one thing in history, everything else would have turned out just the same.
A dynamic thinking model understands that if you change one thing, everything else may change too, and not necessarily for the better.
Consider for a minute that you had married a different person. Today you wouldn't just have a different person in the house, everything else about your life would probably be different too. You would probably have a different job, be living in a different house in a different city, and so on.
The Fallacy of only Assuming the Good
Suppose you conclude that you should have gone to a better college. With a degree from a better institution you would have a higher-paying job. This is good. But while daydreaming you forget that you met your spouse at your current job, and you have a wonderful marriage. If you had a different job you would not have met him or her, and indeed might be in a bad marriage.
The point of course is that people who say that we should have done this or that tend to only assume the good results that would have come from such a decision.
People who say that we “need(ed) more troops” or that we should have “kept the Iraqi Army together” assume that only positive results would come from such a decision. They seem not to realize that there were potential negative consequences from taking a decision other than what we did.
For example, we are often told by war critics that the mere presence of American troops upsets the region. Ok...so wouldn't more troops make things worse?
Suppose we took troops from the western pacific, and China took that opportunity to make a move against Taiwan? Or, to return to our previous example, we took them from South Korea and Kim Jong Il decided that the time was ripe for an attack? What would the critics say then?
The Advantages of a Small Force
As Rich Lowry of National Review pointed out last year in "What Went Wrong" (subscription required), there were significant disadvantages to having put more troops in the field of battle:
If more troops would have enhanced security in the aftermath of thw war (a debateable proposition, as we shall see), the lighter and more mobile force had significant advantages in the prosecution of it. "The decision was made to collapse the regime as quickly and violently as possible," says a senior administration official. the most kimportant advantage of this approach, he sways, was simple: "A quick collapse saves American lives and Iraqi lives."
It served other objectives as well. It made it possible to take the oilfields - crucial to Iraq's rebuilding - mostly intact before Saddam had time to destroy them. And there was the political consideration. It was thought important to avoid a drawn-out war, and the destabilizing effect it might have on the region. "You don't want an American army slogging it's way to an Arab capital," is how one official puts it.
The Most Wrongheaded Criticism
"We shouldn't have invaded if we didn't have enough troops"
This is actually something I heard from a caller to a radio talk-show last week, and figured I may as well use it in this post.
First, we needed to take down Saddam. OIF was right for many reasons, but that is not the subject of this post.
Second, we did have enough troops for the invasion, as events proved correct. That we did not anticipate the insurgency was a failure, but one that was largely unforseen by anyone at the time. And that includes war critics, who spent their time telling us about the tens of thousands of American casualties that would result from battle with the regular Iraqi army, especially in the "Battle of Baghdad" that would resemble Stalingrad of WWII fame.
Simply put, we had the right number of troops for the invasion but should have sent more in later. We should have taken them from Europe, especially the former Yugoslav republics and demanded the Europeans pick up the slack. We should have increased the size of the Army and Marines (and let the Navy and Air Force remain at current levels). Taxes should not have been increased, and painful as it is for me to say this, it should have been done through deficit spending. The economy is doing relatively well, and the worse option would be to increase taxes.
While the President is partially at fault, both parties in Congress must also shoulder much of the blame. The Republicans because they lack the courage of their convictions, and the Democrats because they seem intent on reverting to Jimmy Carterism.
So there you have it.
November 24, 2005
There is much to be thankful for this holiday, on both a personal and national level. Everyone has their own list, but in the end we are all blessed in many ways. Perhaps one reason why Thanksgiving is so popular is that much of the time we tend to dwell on things that are not going so well for us. We see this holiday as a time to remind ourselves that in fact we are quite fortunate after all.
And, lest we start to feel too sorry for ourselves during other times, the Washington Times has done us the favor of reprinting for us part of the diary kept by William Bradford, governor of Plymouth Plantation for most of the time between 1621 and 1656. Bradford also served as the unofficial historial of the colony.
The first portion describes the hardships that confronted settlers during the winter of 1620-21, their first winter on American soil:
"But that which was most sad and lamentable was that in two or three months time half of their [the settlers'] company died, especially in January and February, being depth of winter, and wanting houses and other comforts; being infected with the scurvy and other diseases which this long voyage and their inaccomodate condition had brought them.
"So as there died sometimes two or three a day in the aforesaid time, that of one hundred and odd persons, scarce fifty remained. And of these, in the time of most distress, there were but six or seven sound persons who to their great commendations, be it spoken, spared no pains night or day, but with abundance of toil and hazard of their own health fetched them wood, made them fires, dressed them meat, made their beds, washed their loathsome clothes, clothed and unclothed them. In a word, did all the homely and necessary offices for them which dainty and queasy stomachs cannot endure to hear named; and all this willingly and cheerfully, without any grudging in the least, showing herein their true love unto their friends and brethren; a rare example and worthy to be remembered."
Gov. Bradford's diary from the following spring records the first planting, assisted by Wampanoag Indians who had befriended the colonists:
"Afterward they (as many as were able) began to plant their corn, in which service Squanto [the first Indian to present himself to the colonists] stood them in great stead, showing them both the manner how to set it and after how to dress and tend it: also he told them, except they got fish and set it with it in these old grounds, it would come to nothing. And he showed them that in the middle of April they should have store enough come up the brook by to take it, and where to get other provisions necessary for them. All which they found true by trial and experience. Some English seed they sowed, as wheat and peas, but it came not to good, either by badness of the seed or lateness of the season or both, or some other defect."
Gov. Bradford's account of the first Thanksgiving, which he had called to bless the first harvest, only hints at the celebration described in other colonial accounts. Tradition has it that the meal consisted of venison stew, wild turkeys stuffed with corn bread, baked oysters, sweet corn, pumpkin baked in a bag and flavored with maple syrup, and ended with a specialty produced by the Indians who had shared in the feast -- popcorn.
"They began now to gather in the small harvest they had, and to fit up their houses and dwellings against winter, being all well recovered in health and strength and had all things in good plenty. For as some were thus employed in affairs abroad, others were exercises in fishing, about cod and bass and other fish, of which they took good store, of which every family had their portion. All the summer there was no want; and now began to come in store of fowl, as winter approached, of which this place did abound when they came first (but afterward decreased by degrees). And besides waterfowl there was great store of wild turkeys, of which they took many, besides venison, etc. Besides they had about a peck of meal a week to a person, or now since harvest, Indian corn to that proposition. Which made many afterward write so largely of their plenty here to their friends in England, which were not feigned but true reports."
November 22, 2005
A Marine Reports - We're Winning
In today's Washington Times there is a very long report from a Marine in Iraq. Here's the introduction:
Editor's note: There's nothing like word from the field to know what works, what doesn't and how the enemy's tactics are affecting our soldiers in battle. Below is one U.S. Marine's take on those questions, verified and relayed to us through his father, a retired Marine. We've withheld the Marine's name and his father's to spare them the inevitable political or institutional flap. Among the most interesting tidbits: Our Marine reports that servicemen are shocked at negative press coverage of the war, and they believe the United States is winning decisively -- but that the number of troops in the field should be bolstered. On equipment, our Marine thinks the older, battle-tested parts of the U.S. arsenal are the most useful equipment in the fight against insurgents. M-16s aren't much good, but "Ma Deuce" is, and the .45 pistol is highly coveted. Body armor has plusses and minuses
The report itself was written by the father, who is relating what his son told him while on leave recently.
I'm not going to comment much on the report, because it speaks for itself. As the Times notes, much of it concerns weaponry, both ours and theirs. He also discusses the "bad guy's" tactics, which is also interesting.
But it's the last few paragraphs that everyone should read:
The Iraqis(on our side) are a mixed bag. Some fight well, others aren't worth a s***.
Most do okay with American support. Finding leaders is hard, but they are getting better. It is widely viewed that Zarqawi's use of suicide bombers, en masse, against the civilian population was a serious tactical mistake.
Many Iraqis were galvanized and the caliber of recruits in the Army and the police forces went up, along with their motivation. It also led to an exponential increase in good intelligence because the Iraqis are sick of the insurgent attacks against civilians. The Kurds are solidly pro-American and fearless fighters.
According to [name redacted], morale among our guys is very high. They not only believe they are winning, but that they are winning decisively. They are stunned and dismayed by what they see in the American press, whom they almost universally view as against them. The embedded reporters are despised and distrusted. They are inflicting casualties at a rate of 20-1 and then see s*** like "Are we losing in Iraq?" on television and the print media.
For the most part, they are satisfied with their equipment, food and leadership. Bottom line, though, and they all say this: There are not enough guys there to drive the final stake through the heart of the insurgency, primarily because there aren't enough troops in-theater to shut down the borders with Iran and Syria. The Iranians and the Syrians just cannot stand the thought of Iraq being an American ally -- with, of course, permanent U.S. bases there.
I can't say how many articles I've read about returning soldiers who comment "I thought we were winning until I came home and saw the news". I know my readers have also.
I'm going to address the issue of "more troops" in another post, because it's fairly complicated.
A Pinko Speaks
I've had numberous encounters with Code Pink and other leftist groups, and if you'd like to about them go to the sidebar and select "Rallies and Protests"
Laura is one of my favorite talk-show hosts, and as usual she was at her best. She exposed Jodi Evens and her group for the "useful idiots" they are.
I tried to write down some of what I heard. The exact wording is not going to be correct, and much is left out, but I did get the meaning of the conversation, or inverview. Here are a few snipets:
Laura: How should we fight terrorism? What is your plan?
Jodie: We need to get out of Iraq.
Laura: Why do you think we should leave Iraq?
Jodie: To end terrorism there.
Laura: What were you doing in the 1990s, when Saddam was killing his own people?
Jodie: We were against the sanctions. The sanctions gave Saddam power. Terrorism will not end until we leave Iraq.
Laura: What about Afghanistan?
Jodie: We trained bin Laden and created the Taliban
Laura: Why won't you condemn the terrorists? I've asked you several times about this and you keep evading me(as I said, I tuned in part way through the interview)!
Jodie: What the terrorists are doing is terrible
Again, this is not at all meant to be an exact transcript, but does catch the flavor of the interview. Every time Laura would ask Jodie about terrorism or the situation in Iraq, or for matter just anything having to do with the global WOT, all Jodie would say was "We need to get out of Iraq". What a broken record.
Last year the invaluable Christopher Hitchens had something to say about people who were against the sanctions, and then opposed our invasion of Iraq:
A few years ago, many of the same liberals and leftists were quoting improbable if not impossible numbers of dead Iraqi children, murdered by the international sanctions imposed on Saddam Hussein. Even at its most propagandistic, this contained an important moral point: Iraqi civilians were suffering for the sins of their dictatorship (and from the lavish corruption of the U.N. supervision of the "oil-for-food" program). OK, then, we'll remove the regime and lift the sanctions. Happy now? Not at all! It turns out that 1) the Saddam regime was only a threat invented by neo-cons and that 2) we don't owe the Iraqi people a thing. Also, we could use the money ourselves.
This would mean that all the protest about dead and malnourished Iraqi infants was all for show. Surely that can't be right?
Afraid so, Hitch.
November 21, 2005
The left compares Iraq to Vietnam incessantly. Of course, they did that with our involvment in Central America in the '80s, the Gulf War, and Afghanistan, too. Bill Clinton got a pass, but one feels sure that if a Republican had sent troops to Kosovo it, too, would be "another Vietnam".
Iraq is not, and never was, "another Vietnam". The differences are many, and have been commented upon extensively elsewhere.
But now we have the incredible situation in which if Iraq isn't "another Vietnam", the Democrats, or some of them, anyway, are determined to make it one.
Mackubin Thomas Owens, in today's National Review Online, reminds us of just what did happen in Vietnam:
After 1968, the situation in Vietnam was very similar to the one that prevails in Iraq today. Trends were moving in the right direction for the Americans and South Vietnamese. The United States had changed its strategy after Tet 1968, scoring significant military successes against the North Vietnamese while advancing "Vietnamization." These successes helped stabilize the political and economic situation in South Vietnam, solidifying the attachment of the rural population to the South Vietnamese government and resulting in the establishment of the conditions necessary for South Vietnam's survival as a viable political entity.
The new strategy was vindicated during the 1972 Easter Offensive. This was the biggest offensive push of the war, greater in magnitude than either the 1968 Tet offensive or the final assault of 1975. While the U.S. provided massive air and naval support and while there were inevitable failures on the part of some South Vietnamese units, all in all, the South Vietnamese fought well. Then, having blunted the communist thrust, they recaptured territory that had been lost to Hanoi. So effective was the combination of the South Vietnamese army's performance during the Easter Offensive, an enhanced counterinsurgency effort, and LINEBACKER II — the so-called Christmas bombing of 1972 later that year — that the British counterinsurgency expert, Sir Robert Thompson concluded US-ARVN forces "had won the war. It was over."
But as Bob Sorley has observed, while the war in Vietnam "was being won on the ground... it was being lost at the peace table and in the U.S. Congress." First, the same sort of domestic defeatism that is endangering our effort in Iraq today impelled President Nixon to rush to extricate the country from Vietnam, forcing South Vietnam to accept a cease fire that permitted North Vietnamese Army forces to remain in South Vietnam.
Second, the Watergate scandal changed the makeup of Congress, which, in an act that still shames the United States to this day, then cut off military and economic assistance to South Vietnam. Finally, President Nixon resigned over Watergate and his successor, constrained by congressional action, defaulted on promises to respond with force to North Vietnamese violations of the peace terms. Only three years after blunting the communist Easter Offensive, and despite the heroic performance of some South Vietnamese units, South Vietnam collapsed against a much weaker, cobbled-together communist offensive. And South Vietnam ceased to exist, consigning millions of souls to communist tyranny and weakening the United States for a decade.
How did the North Vietnamese Communists pull this off? In 1990, North Vietnamese General Vo Nguyen Giap, confirming what he has written in his own memoirs, told Stanley Karnow that "We were not strong enough to drive out a half-million American troops, but that wasn't our aim. Our intention was to break the will of the American government to continue the war."
Exactly. Many people seem to think that the South collapsed as soon as we pulled out. As Owens writes, this is not true.
It is just possible that if we pulled out of Iraq, and still committed substantial funding, continued training their army, and provided close air support, the current Iraqi government would survive.
But it is much more likely that Congress would cut off funding, forbid any but a few trainers (remember the restrictions on our trainers in El Salvador?), and through control of the pursestrings, eliminate the funds necessary to maintain air strikes. After all, prescription drug benefits and fiber to the desktop at your local public school are much more important than the lives of millions of Iraqis. And, bty, you can be sure I'm including Republicans as greedy in spending public money in order to get themselves reelected.
The result would be a massacre in Iraq well beyond anything we have currently seen. A four-way civil war would likely break out between the Sunnis, Shi'is, Kurds, and insurgents. Syria and Iran would certainly step up their involvement, even to the point of actual ground troops. We left Vietnam, cut off funding to the South Vietnamese government and failed to support them during the North's 1975 invasion, and the result was a bloodbath. Tens of thousands became known as the "boat people" as they fled in "the largest mass departure of asylum seekers by sea in modern history." Is this what the Democrats want? If not, why did they give a standing ovation to Rep John Murtha, who has not backed down from his call to withdraw troops?
Even if we continued the funding, training, and air support, it is highly likely that the government would devolve into a dictatorship, seeing democracy as an "unnecessary hassle" in the midst of a war.
In other News, the GOP Senators aren't Much Better
Mark Steyn reminded me this morning that
Last week, the Republican majority, to their disgrace and with 13 honorable exceptions, passed an amendment calling on the administration to lay out its "plan" for "ending" the war and withdrawing U.S. troops. They effectively signed on to the Democrat framing of the debate -- all that matters is the so-called "exit strategy." The only difference between Bill Frist's mushy Republicans and Harry Reid's shameless Democrats is that the latter want a firm date for withdrawal, so Zarqawi's insurgents can schedule an especially big car bomb to coincide with the formal handover of the Great Satan's guts.
The Marines are Still Doing What Marines Do Best
In other words, they're kicking butt. W Thomas Smith, Jr, describes in NRO what the Marines have been doing in Operation Steel Curtain. As for how the insurgents are doing:
In more than one instance — and to the delight of American and Iraqi troops — insurgents have been caught attempting to flee the battlefield dressed as women: Considered a particularly disgraceful act among Iraqis.
"They've proven to be cowards," says Kerr. "We found a number of them skulking among a flock of sheep trying to escape in Ubaydi, and there have been several instances of insurgents dressing up as women trying to escape."
I guess if I had the US Marines coming after me, I'd resort to desperate measures also.
The Larger View
I think this view of the situation in Iraq is a bit too optimistic, but then again James Dunnigan and Austin Bay of StrategyPage are pretty experienced analysts. You'll want to read the whole thing, but here's a taste:
If it weren't for Internet access to troops, expatriates and Iraqis in Iraq, you would think that coalition military operations in Iraq were a major disaster, and that prompt withdrawal was the only reasonable course of action. But the mass media view of the situation is largely fiction, conjured up in editorial offices outside Iraq, with foreign reporters in Iraq (most of them rarely leaving their heavily guarded hotels) providing color commentary, and not much else.
November 19, 2005
This is Nuts
Although the House rejected a pullout from Iraq by a vote of 403 - 3, it seems obvious that many on the left want just this. As the world knows, and Al Jazeera is playing up, Congressman John Murtha said that we need to withdraw from Iraq regardless of the consequences:
My plan calls:
To immediately redeploy U.S. troops consistent with the safety of U.S. forces.
To create a quick reaction force in the region.
To create an over- the- horizon presence of Marines.
To diplomatically pursue security and stability in Iraq
This war needs to be personalized. As I said before I have visited with the severely wounded of this war. They are suffering.
Because we in Congress are charged with sending our sons and daughters into battle, it is our responsibility, our OBLIGATION to speak out for them. That’s why I am speaking out.
Our military has done everything that has been asked of them, the U.S. can not accomplish anything further in Iraq militarily. IT IS TIME TO BRING THEM HOME.
Murtha is a former Marine, which means that his words will be taken seriously by those who ought to know better. I honor his service. I also say that his recommendation is completely irresponsible. There is no contradiction here.
Robert Kagan & William Kristol ask the obvious questions
Rep. Jack Murtha has had a distinguished congressional career. But his outburst last Thursday was breathtakingly irresponsible. Nowhere in his angry and emotional call for the immediate withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq did the Pennsylvania Democrat bother to ask, much less answer, the most serious questions his proposal raises. What would be the likely outcome in Iraq if the United States pulled out? Does Murtha actually believe the Iraqi people could fight the al Qaeda terrorists and Saddam Hussein loyalists by themselves once American forces left? He does not say. In fact, he knows perfectly well that the Iraqi people are not yet capable of defending themselves against the monsters in their midst and that, therefore, a U.S. withdrawal would likely lead to carnage on a scale that would dwarf what is now occurring in Iraq.
Murtha seems to think that his "quick reaction force" coupled with diplomacy will being stability to Iraq. If so, he's either delusional or really just doesn't care.
There are other problems with Murtha's analysis. Kagan and Kristol again:
Murtha, of course, claims that the U.S. occupation is the primary problem in Iraq and that "our troops have become the primary target of the insurgency. They are united against U.S. forces, and we have become a catalyst for violence." This is nonsense. For many months now, the insurgents have been shifting their attacks away from U.S. and coalition forces and directing them at Iraqis instead. Iraqis now make up the overwhelming majority of casualties resulting from insurgent attacks. This shift is evidence not only of the effectiveness of our protective measures, but also of the growing vitality of the Iraqi political process, which the insurgents, according to their own statements, fear and hate more than the U.S. military presence.
Some worried that the GOP was doing the wrong thing by demanding an up or down vote on whether to withdraw immediately from Iraq. K-Lo at NRO was concerned that the Democrats could "easily frame the whole exercise as Republicans caricaturing sensible concerns about Iraq--and more specifically a mocking of Vietnam vet Marine Jack Murtha." and pointed to an email John Kerry sent to his followers that took that position. Perhaps.
Others, such as Stephen Spruiell thought that "Pushing for a vote on troop withdrawal now is just the right counter to Murtha, that "hawkish Democrat" who has become the media's latest star performer."
As you may suspect, in this case I think Spruiell is closer to the mark.
As it was, I missed it all because once againI was at Walter Reed countering the Pinkos (a few past nights here). After they left several of us went to Monroe House(I think it was called), kind of an outpatient "hotel" on the base/hospital and delivereda variety of things to the troops there, from books/novels, to Christmas cards and candy bars. Anyway, my good deed for the week.
Anyway, it was apparently quite a circus last night:
At one point in the emotional debate, Rep. Jean Schmidt, R-Ohio, told of a phone call she received from a Marine colonel.
"He asked me to send Congress a message _ stay the course. He also asked me to send Congressman Murtha a message _ that cowards cut and run, Marines never do," Schmidt said. Murtha is a 37-year Marine veteran and ranking Democrat on the defense appropriations subcommittee.
Democrats booed and shouted her down _ causing the House to come to a standstill.
Rep. Harold Ford, D-Tenn., charged across the chamber's center aisle screaming that Republicans were making uncalled-for personal attacks. "You guys are pathetic! Pathetic!" yelled Rep. Marty Meehan, D-Mass.
Democrats gave Murtha a standing ovation as he entered the chamber and took his customary corner seat.
Schmidt shouldn't have read the letter. Murtha is not a personally a coward, he's just completely wrong. The Marine is right in that cutting and running would be cowardly.
By the same token for the Democrats to have given Murtha a standing ovatation shows just where they are regardless of how they voted.
How Has It Come to This?
It was one thing when Michael Moore and International ANSWER were accusing the president of lying about Iraqi WMD. When mainstream Democrats began to pick up the charge, it became clear that Byron York was right, these guys really were in hock to the far left of their party.
But now we are hearing "bring the troops home now" from people like Murtha, who is being lionized by the press, who have tended to ignore his long opposition to the war.
But again, how has it come to this? Some will say that we are at this juncture because Bush et al screwed up the invasion and occupation. No doubt many mistakes were made, especially not immediately holding elections and stopping our first attempt to take Fallujah. But the anti-war crowd's predictions and recommendations have been off-base too(thousands of casualties in the initial invasion, the much-touted "Battle of Baghdad", civil war, mass humanitarian crisis, etc). This criticism is also ahistorical. Even a quick read of the Revolution and Civil War, to say nothing of World War II, show mistake after mistake being made by the eventual victors. Just as the Democrats ran as the "end the war now" party (if you don't believe me read their party platform). They were wrong then and they're wrong now.
Back to the question.
We are at this juncture for a few reasons.
First, President Bush has failed to remake the case for Iraq. He got off track after the election and seemed to think that he didn't need to talk about it anymore. This was a huge mistake. We do have a very positive story to tell about Iraq, as this group of Marines on a media panel said. Despite what some will say, our current strategy seems to be working, slowly but surely.
Second, the president has moved too far away from his conservative base. On issues ranging from out-of-control spending, complete lack of enforcement of our immigration laws, signing of McCain-Feingold (after calling it unconstitutional), to the recent appointment of Harriet Myers, we conservatives have grown more and more upset with the president. We have stuck with him because of foreign policy and the war. It was the appointment of Meiers that brought the discord into the open.
The effects of #2 are twofold. One conservatives are less likely to fight for the president when it matters. Two, the president has no domestic agenda anymore. Reforming social security was admirable, but didn't go through. Ok, so he should have regrouped and made his move elsewhere. But he didn't, and now we are paying the price.
Third, the Democrats in this country seem to have completely lost their minds. Rather than act responsibly, they have embraced the kookiest conspiracy theories and want us to repeat the disaster of Vietnam by pulling out the troops. Oh sure, officially they voted against pullout, but only after the GOP forced their hand. And as Victor Davis Hanson says, it is "intellectually dishonest and morally reprehensible" to try and claim, like Senator Jay Rockefeller did the other day, that ""If I knew then what I know now, I would never have supported the war." Where, oh where, is a Harry Truman or "Scoop" Jackson when you really need them?
As Peter Fleming says at my other blog site, Warm 'N Fuzzy Conserva-Puppies, the idea that some would press for a timetable for withdrawal of US forces from Iraq is an absolute disgrace.
We can win this thing people, but only if the president gets his act together, and if the Democrats start acting responsibly. Let's encourage them both to do so.
November 16, 2005
Undermining the War Effort
(Updated Thursday, see bottom of post)
Bill Clinton just can't keep his mouth shut. The Washington Post reports on his remarks at a forum at the American University of Dubai:
Saddam is gone. It's a good thing, but I don't agree with what was done.
It was a big mistake. The American government made several errors ... one of which is how easy it would be to get rid of Saddam and how hard it would be to unite the country.
In case you're hoping this was just a throw-away line, the Post says that the "response drew cheers and a standing ovation at the end of the hour-long session."
Yes, this is just what we need in the middle of a war, an ex-president telling a foreign audience that the biggest and most controversial part of the War on Terror was a mistake.
I was listening to a radio show driving home from work and the host related that the speech was being broadcast all around the Arab world. I've no doubt that if it isn't already it will be soon.
Why was it Wrong?
It was wrong because we have a tradition in this country whereby once a president is out of office he refrains from commenting on his successors. We have this tradition because the words of an ex-president carry a lot of weight. The current president should be free from second-guessing by ex-presidents. It is distracting and unwarranted.
Most ex-presidents have honored this tradition. Jimmy Carter sometimes violates it, but for years he stayed silent, and I give him credit for that.
Why Bill Clinton?
Because he's in love with himself, that's why. He loves the adoration that he gets from cheering crowds. He lives for attention.
Dick Morris has a different theory. I was listening to him on the radio this afternoon (Sean Hannity show), and he said that it was part of the Clinton's strategy to get Hillary elected. Bill would speak from the left, pandering to the anti-war crowd, while Hillary would continue to support the war but say that Bush had made a mess of it. Well, maybe. It sounds a bit Byzantine, but the Clintons are a pretty calculating pair.
Either way, don't look for liberals to denounce Clinton, though this is one think on which I would dearly like to be wrong. If anyone sees comments by prominent Democrats or liberals criticizing Clinton please post them in the comments.
Look, if he'd made these comments to a small audience here at home, then no big deal. But it is simply inappropriate to say such things to a large audience, at home or abroad.
Now, for a real bit of fun, go to Google and type in "clinton iraq 1998" and see what you get (hat tip Bryan Preston, guest blogging for Michelle Malkin).
The New York Post chastises Clinton:
It has long been accepted that former presidents do not publicly criticize their successors, particularly when it comes to foreign policy; certainly the first President Bush held his tongue when it came to judging Clinton's dubious foreign-policy performance.
To be sure, Jimmy Carter violated that pact long ago — but then, he'd been hungrily campaigning for a Nobel Peace Prize, the first requirement of which is a solid record of America-bashing.
(A failed president himself, he was uniquely qualified for that task. Now that he's been given the award, he has a new book to flog.)
As for Clinton — well, his wife is pretty clearly running for president, an unprecedented situation. She's been talking particularly tough on terrorism — but what does it mean?
Look for Bill and Hillary to put together a political tag-team act in the months and years ahead, with Bill playing bad cop in sticking it to the current president while the New York senator adopts a more "statesmanlike" — that is, presidential — approach.
November 14, 2005
(Updated Thursday, see bottom of post)
The Democrats latest attempt to seize the political high ground is a work of genius: "Let's say that President Bush lied about WMD, and when people ask why we then voted for the war, we'll say that he misled us!"
Except that it's not proving so easy.
Senator Jay Rockefeller tried that with Chris Wallace on Fox News Sunday, and look at what happened. It's unbelieveable:
WALLACE: OK. Senator Rockefeller, the president says that Democratic critics, like you, looked at pre-war intelligence and came to the same conclusion that he did.
In fact, looking back at the speech that you gave in October of 2002 in which you authorized the use of force, you went further than the president ever did. Let's watch:
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ROCKEFELLER: I do believe that Iraq poses an imminent threat, but I also believe that after September 11th that question is increasingly outdated.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WALLACE: Now, the president never said that Saddam Hussein was an imminent threat. As you saw, you did say that. If anyone hyped the intelligence, isn't it Jay Rockefeller?
"imminent threat", eh, Senator?
During the next few questions Rockefeller tried to weasel out of it, saying that because he didn't get to see the Daily Intelligence Briefings, he didn't have all the information. (I'll let you read the entire interview on the Fox site and determine if I've taken this out of context. I read the whole thing and Rockefeller just squirms the entire time.)
Which raises the question: "Well, Senator, if you didn't have all the information why did you vote for the war?!?!?!?"
As Kat points out on her blog The Middle Ground, if we take their statements at face value, the Democrats were either stupid or lazy.
The fact is that the Democrats in Congress received quite enough intelligence for them to conclude that Saddam had WMD.
And noone has shown that the intelligence was manipulated.
But we have more from the good Senator.
WALLACE: Senator Rockefeller, I want to play another clip from your 2002 speech authorizing the use of force, this time specifically on the question of Saddam's nuclear program. Here it is.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ROCKEFELLER: 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, and he could have it earlier.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WALLACE: Now, by that point, Senator, you had read the National Intelligence Estimate, correct?
ROCKEFELLER: In fact, there were only six people in the Senate who did, and I was one of them. I'm sure Pat was another.
WALLACE: OK. But you had read that, and now we've read a declassified...
ROCKEFELLER: But, Chris, let's...
WALLACE: Can I just ask my question, sir?
WALLACE: And then you can answer as you choose. That report indicated there was a disagreement among analysts about the nuclear program. The State Department had a lot more doubts than the CIA did about whether he was pursuing the nuclear program. You never mentioned those doubts. You came to the same conclusion the president did.
ROCKEFELLER: Because that — first of all, that National Intelligence Estimate was not called for by the administration. It was called for by former Senator Bob Graham, who was chairman of the Intelligence Committee, and Dick Durbin.
We didn't receive it until just a couple of days before we voted. Then we had to go read it and compare it to everything else that we thought we'd learned about intelligence, and I did make that statement. And I did make that vote.
But, Chris, the important thing is that when I started looking at the weapons of mass destruction intelligence along with Pat Roberts, I went down to the floor, and I said I made a mistake. I would have never voted yes if I knew what I know today.
You shouldn't have voted at all if you didn't have time to understand what you were voting on!
And - must I really point this out? - you can only take decisions based on information you have at the time. Is the Senator looking for a time machine?
No, he's looking to avoid responsibility:
WALLACE: But you voted, sir, and aren't you responsible for your vote?
ROCKEFELLER: No. I'm...
WALLACE: You're not?
Meanwhile, Back at the Ranch
On CBS Senator McCain goes after the Democrats (via Instapundit)
SCHIEFFER: President Bush accused his critics of rewriting history last week.
Sen. McCAIN: Yeah.
SCHIEFFER: And in--he said in doing so, the criticisms they were making of his war policy was endangering our troops in Iraq. Do you believe it is unpatriotic to criticize the Iraq policy?
Sen. McCAIN: No, I think it's a very legitimate aspect of American life to criticize and to disagree and to debate. But I want to say I think it's a lie to say that the president lied to the American people. I sat on the Robb-Silverman Commission. I saw many, many analysts that came before that committee. I asked every one of them--I said, `Did--were you ever pressured politically or any other way to change your analysis of the situation as you saw?' Every one of them said no.
As Glenn Reynolds points out, Schieffer's question on whether "it is unpatriotic to criticize the Iraq policy" is a strawman.
Inconvenient Quotes from Democrats
Inconvenient to Democrats, that is. They're quite convenient for me.
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
As Kat said, if we take the Democrats at their word today, then when evaluating the intelligence before voting in favor of war with Iraq they were either lazy or stupid. Lazy at not insisting on more, or stupid to have let Bush misled them.
Because as every good liberal knows, Bush is a moron. So if he misled them, that makes them... supermorons?
John McCain has some more tough words for Senators, and anyone, who is calling for an immediate withdrawal of troops from Iraq, or who even want to set a timetable. In and editorial in the New York Post titled "Aiding and Abetting", McCain says that
A date is not an exit strategy. To suggest that it is only encourages our enemies, by indicating that the end to American intervention is near. It alienates our friends, who fear an insurgent victory, and tempts undecideds to join the anti-government ranks.And to those who disagree,
The sponsors may disagree with my interpretation of their words, saying that 2006 is merely a target, that their legislation is not binding and that it included caveats. But look at the initial response to the Senate's words: a front page Washington Post story titled "Senate Presses for Concrete Steps Toward Drawdown of Troops in Iraq."So what should our goal be?
Think about this for a moment. Imagine Iraqis, working for the new government, considering whether to join the police force, or debating whether or not to take up arms. What will they think when they read that the Senate is pressing for steps toward draw-down?
Are they more or less likely to side with a government whose No. 1 partner hints at leaving?
The Senate has responded to the millions who braved bombs and threats to vote, who put their faith and trust in America and their government, by suggesting that our No. 1 priority is to bring our people home.
We have told insurgents that their violence does grind us down, that their horrific acts might be successful. But these are precisely the wrong messages. Our exit strategy in Iraq is not the withdrawal of our troops, it is victory.Amen
Now, I've never made it a secret that I disagree with McCain quite a bit. I think his fixation on "soft money" is absurd. And I think many of his criticisms of the war unfounded. But he is on the right side, and let me say that I acknowledge fully that his criticisms are in good faith.
Christopher Hitchens has a much sharper tongue than John McCain, but as a non-politician this is a luxury he can afford. He goes after those who persist with the "Bush Lied!" or "Bush misled us" mantra:
But then there is the really superb pedantry and literal-mindedness on which the remainder of the case depends. This achieved something close to an apotheosis on the front page of the Washington Post on Nov. 12, where Dana Milbank and Walter Pincus brought complete gravity to bear. Is it true, as the president claimed in his Veterans Day speech, that Congress saw the same intelligence sources before the war, and is it true that independent commissions have concluded that there was no willful misrepresentation? Top form was reached on the inside page:I've never "double Amened" before, but there's a first time for everything.
But in trying to set the record straight, [Bush] asserted: "When I made the decision to remove Saddam Hussein from power, Congress approved it with strong bipartisan support."A prize, then, for investigative courage, to Milbank and Pincus. They have identified the same problem, though this time upside down, as that which arose from the passage of the Iraq Liberation Act, during the Clinton-Gore administration, in 1998. That legislation—which passed the Senate without a dissenting vote—did expressly call for the removal of Saddam Hussein but did not actually mention the use of direct U.S. military force.
The October 2002 joint resolution authorized the use of force in Iraq, but it did not directly mention the removal of Hussein from power.
Let us suppose, then, that we can find a senator who voted for the 1998 act to remove Saddam Hussein yet did not anticipate that it might entail the use of force, and who later voted for the 2002 resolution and did not appreciate that the authorization of force would entail the removal of Saddam Hussein! Would this senator kindly stand up and take a bow? He or she embodies all the moral and intellectual force of the anti-war movement. And don't be bashful, ladies and gentlemen of the "shocked, shocked" faction, we already know who you are.
November 13, 2005
Pinkos Update: Two More Nights at Walter Reed
Last Friday night marked 30 straight Fridays of counter-protest and pro-troops demonstrating by true American patriots outside of Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington DC.
If you haven't been following my posts on this, Walter Reed Army Medical Center is the main hospital in the US where soldiers are sent for rehabilitation. A radical leftist group called Code Pink Women for Peace started staging anti-war protests outside the main entrance to the hospital every Friday night in March of 2005. They chose that day because every Friday a busload of wounded troops leaves the hospital for an upscale Washington DC restaurant, and arrives back at the hospital at 9:15-30. This, of course, is a huge treat for them. When pulling into the hospital, the bus drives right by Code Pink and sees them and their signs. When they first started doing this they had several quite terrible one, including one that said "Maimed for a Lie". Word got out, and the good people at FreeRepublic.com ("Freepers") started staging counter-protests/Pro-Troop rallies on the two corners opposite the hospital entrance. From then on, every Friday night, the two sides face off. And every night that I've been there, we outnumber the Pinkos.
You can read all about the Pinkos early antics in this CNS news story. Due to media exposure, and the efforts of FreeRepublic and other blogger to expose them, Code Pink has since "toned down" their signs. No matter. We know who they really are.
I've only been attending since August 27, the week the story hit the national news. Since then I've beem able to make it most, but not all, Fridays.
You can read all of my posts on Walter Reed as well as other rallys and demonstrations by clicking on "Rallys and Protests" at left.
In this post are photos of the "Freeps" on October 29 and November 11.
Am Amazing Story
But before I get to photos, I want to relate an amazing story that I heard from an Iraqi Kurd at the demonstration November 11. I may not have quite all of the details right, but the outline is clear.
I'd first saw him amongst us at our counter to the anti-war protests in Washington DC this past Sept 24. We didn't have much of a conversation then, so when I met him Friday night I decided to ask him about his story, about how he came to be here in America. He looked about college age, which turned out to be exactly right.
He told me that he was rescued by American forces in 1988 during Saddam's brutal "Anfal" campaign in northern Iraq against the Kurds. He was 4 years old, and his family lived on a farm just outside of one of the villages Saddam attacked with chemical weapons. I think he said he became separated from his family (I'm not clear on this point), and that some American forces (Special Ops, I'm sure) came upon him and a young girl, all alone in this horror. He said they realized they just couldn't leave such young children, so they put them on their helicopter and took them to their base in Turkey. Eventually they got him and the girl to the US, where for awhile they lived on American bases. Eventually the paperwork got worked out, and they were adopted (separately, I think, although I didn't get details). Obviously our guys have been "checking things out" in Iraq long before the Gulf War. You gotta love that.
He is now going to school at (I believe) George Washington University. He said that a few months(?) ago he was reunited with the soldiers who saved him, they had some sort of get-together. He had made contact with relatives back in Iraq, and had plans to visit them next year. However, he stressed that "I'm an American now" so this was his new homeland.
Walter Reed October 29
Mother Sheehan herself showed up for a few brief moments. She didn't stay long, maybe because there were no TV cameras. In fact, she came and went before I could even get any photos of here. No biggie, though, because she had her coat collar turned up and hat on, and was across the street. My 3x telephoto wound't have gotten much of a photo. Go to the FreeRepublic post to see their much better photos.
Although I didn't get a photo of her, I did get some of her stupid bus. It kept driving up and down the street, mainly to annoy us on the partiotic side, I think.
(Warning - lots of pictures below, so you'll either need broadband lots of time before viewing the rest of the post!)
The big excitement that night came when they parked their bus illegally on the street and we called the cops. The police didn't come, and eventally one of leaders, kristinn, decided to go sit in front of it to block it in until they arrived.
This created a big fracas, as "the benches emptied", with both Freepers and Pinkos converging on the spot in front of the bus where Kristin was sitting (My apologies for the blurry photo. I had turned off the flash for a long-range night shot and forgot to turn it back on)
I took this opportunity to ask various anti-war types some questions about Code Pink's upcoming trip to Cuba:
- Are you going with Code Pink to Cuba for New Years?
- It's on their website, so I'm not making it up
- Will you be stopping at any of Fidel's prisons?
- You know Fidel imprisons gays just because they're gay, right?
None of them responded to me directly, but the Pinko organizers were obviously very unhappy with me.
Sorry, this photo's better. I had the flash back on.
The police showed up not long after all this, and with that each side hurried back to their respective positions. This was just what we wanted, as our objective the whole time had been to get the police out there to make them move their bus. The cops spoke to us and the Pinkos, and although I couldn't hear the conversations from my vantage point, it was clear that they were saying "we're not going to do anything this time, but let's not have that again, ok?"
Here is our largest banner, which we call the "MOAB" - Mother Of All Banners, and is about 10 times larger than anything the Pinkos have ever displayed. Kristinn and his wife bring it every Friday night. I've shown it before, but it's worth posting every time because it tells it like it is.
It serves several purposes. One, an "in your face" to the Pinkos, two, the troops in the hospital can see it from their windows, and three, when the busload of soldiers drives by at 9:15-30, they can certainly see it (more on them below).
Here are a few photographs of personal signs that we have on our side. The signs shown below are typical of the many that we have every Friday night:
The Pinkos, on the other hand, have pretty pathetic signs. I thought lefties were supposed to be good at protesting, but this one sorry bunch. We outdo them every time in signage and in spirit. This one was absolutey unreadable
Well, that's what you get when you try to be artsy.
In this photo, the sign at left reads "WHY ISN'T A WAR CRIME", which of course makes no grammatical sense.
What It's All About
As I've mentioned, the bus carrying the wounded heros arrives back at Walter Reed at sometime between 9:15 and 9:30.
And every single night, the Pinkos pack up and leave at 9:00 sharp.
Why? They claim they're there for a "vigil", on behalf of the wounded troops.
Our best guess is that the Code Pink organizers know that the troops on the bus will flip them off, and they do not want their useful idiot followers to see this.
But no matter what their reason, it's fine by me that they leave. I want the troops to see us, not them. So immediately after the Pinkos abandon a corner, a bunch of us rush over to seize it. Oddly, it almost feels like we've capturued enemy territory, which in a way I suppose we have.
Anyway, when the busload of wounded heros shows up they get to see four corners of pro-America, pro-troop people, holding up partiotic signs.
And there it is, another Friday night outside of Walter Reed.
God Bless America
Free Republic Posts
November 12, 2005
Stupid or Lazy?
Kat, writing on her blog The Middle Ground, asks whether the Democrats who have joined the "Bush Lied" bandwagon were being stupid or lazy when they viewed pre-war intelligence:
Maybe they were so stupid that, not only could the President give them a speech and a presentation that would convince them to go to war without asking any questions. Maybe they were also too lazy to read intelligence briefings, ask for and get intelligence information or briefings, talk to the members of the intelligence committees to get their input.
Many prominent Democrats have now taken to claiming that they were "duped" by the Bush administration, that either the intelligence was manipulated or they didn't receive all of it. As Kat says, the only logical conclusion one can reach from this is that the Democrats were either stupid or lazy.
The other conclusion is that they are just liars seeking political advantage. But of course, that would be to question their motives, and we all know that liberals are as pure as the wind driven snow.
So let's take a little poll here; do you think that Democrats were stupid or lazy?
Leftist Whacko Update
The folks at Code Pink at least know the origin of Veterans Day.
This was the biggest sign that the Pinkos had as they held their anti-war protest (er, "vigil") outside of Walter Reed Army Medical center yesterday evening. They've been doing this every Friday night for over 30 weeks now. Across the street, countering and out-numbering them, are real pro-troop, pro-Iraq, and pro-democracy people. For complete background, including many photos, on these events go here.
"Armistice", of course, is just another way of saying, "We want to cut-and-run" in Iraq. You'd have to be either hopelessly naive or very evil to believe that the terrorists would honor any armistice we signed with them (assuming they even agreed to one). But we see this attitude thoughout the leftist media.
The Nation magazine, the liberal equivalent to National Review, wants us to pull out immediately:
We will not support any candidate for national office who does not make a speedy end to the war in Iraq a major issue of his or her campaign. We urge all voters to join us in adopting this position. Many worry that the aftermath of withdrawal will be ugly, but we can now see that the consequences of staying will be uglier still. Fear of facing the consequences of Bush's disaster should not be permitted to excuse the creation of a worse disaster by continuing the occupation
That anyone can actually believe that Iraq under the rule of Al Qaeda and/or a resurgent Ba'athist regime could be no worse than the current situation is truely amazing. Reasoning with such people is simply not possible. To justify themselves, they dredge out the same old "Bush lied" nonsense that we are starting to see from mainstream Democrats.
On the Nation's site today we also find Medea Benjamin & Gayle Brandeis. Benjamin is a founder of Code Pink. I'm not familiar with Brandeis. They offer their suggestions for supporting the troops:
Send care packages to Iraq: books and snacks and toiletries to mitigate some of the harshness of the desert war zone. Donate to organizations, like the National Coalition for Homeless Veterans, that provide help for returning soldiers struggling to put their lives together after war. Stand on street corners with candles and signs that spotlight the injustices our troops face. Support groups like Iraq Veterans Against the War, made up of courageous soldiers speaking out against the war. Urge elected officials to end this misbegotten military adventure. Support clean, green energy programs and lifestyles that move us off our dependence on other countries' oil.
I'll certainly agree with sending care packages. I send weekly letters (with half the sports section of the paper detailing the Sunday football games stuffed inside), and bi-monthly packages through Adopt-a-Platoon. But the rest of what they suggest is just the usual leftist tripe.
They're also sending "Friendship Delegation" to Cuba December 27-January 2, 2006. This, too, is on their website.
One anti-American latin dictator not being enough, on January 23- Feburary 4th they'll be in Venezuela attending the World Socialist Forum. You guessed it, this is on their website too.
The President Strikes Back
Yesterday, during a Veteran's Day speech, President Bush stuck back at his antagonists:
While it's perfectly legitimate to criticize my decision or the conduct of the war, it is deeply irresponsible to rewrite the history of how that war began. (Applause.) Some Democrats and anti-war critics are now claiming we manipulated the intelligence and misled the American people about why we went to war. These critics are fully aware that a bipartisan Senate investigation found no evidence of political pressure to change the intelligence community's judgments related to Iraq's weapons programs.
They also know that intelligence agencies from around the world agreed with our assessment of Saddam Hussein. They know the United Nations passed more than a dozen resolutions citing his development and possession of weapons of mass destruction. And many of these critics supported my opponent during the last election, who explained his position to support the resolution in the Congress this way: "When I vote to give the President of the United States the authority to use force, if necessary, to disarm Saddam Hussein, it is because I believe that a deadly arsenal of weapons of mass destruction in his hands is a threat, and a grave threat, to our security." That's why more than a hundred Democrats in the House and the Senate — who had access to the same intelligence — voted to support removing Saddam Hussein from power.
The stakes in the global war on terror are too high, and the national interest is too important, for politicians to throw out false charges. These baseless attacks send the wrong signal to our troops and to an enemy that is questioning America's will. As our troops fight a ruthless enemy determined to destroy our way of life, they deserve to know that their elected leaders who voted to send them to war continue to stand behind them. Our troops deserve to know that this support will remain firm when the going gets tough. And our troops deserve to know that whatever our differences in Washington, our will is strong, our nation is united, and we will settle for nothing less than victory.
Peter Fleming, writing on my other blog site, says "About Time!", to which I say, "Amen!"
Meanwhile, Norman Podhoretz has a devastaging critique of those who persist in "Bush lied!" nonsense. His conclusion is that
...so long as we are hunting for liars in this area, let me suggest that we begin with the Democrats now proclaiming that they were duped, and that we then broaden out to all those who in their desperation to delegitimize the larger policy being tested in Iraq—the policy of making the Middle East safe for America by making it safe for democracy—have consistently used distortion, misrepresentation, and selective perception to vilify as immoral a bold and noble enterprise and to brand as an ignominious defeat what is proving itself more and more every day to be a victory of American arms and a vindication of American ideals.
Veterans Day 2005
If I had planned ahead this post would have been up yesterday. As it is, once the day started I never had time.
Yesterday is the day we set aside to honor our veterans. As Stars and Stripes noted, "Maybe it takes a war for many Americans to see the meaning of Veterans Day." Perhaps. No doubt the meaning of Memorial Day is mostly lost in organizing the family picnic. It's also no doubt true that we think about these things more in wartime than in peace. But by the same token I generally see most American's as honoring veterans, whether they take part in a ceremony specifically for that purpose or not.
Although it is entirely appropriate to have such a day, we shouldn't restrict honoring veterans to one day. Attitues are not just for one day. I recall that years ago, I saw a "Hagar the Horrible" comic strip that made this point about Christmas. In the strip Hagar saw the star of Bethlehem in the east and made a comment to a priest, standing nearby, about the Christmas spirit brought forth by his seeing the star. After Hagar walked away, the priest sighed and commented "Actually, it's there all year round. But people only seem to notice it this time of year." Ouch.
November 9, 2005
Bloggers in the Senate
In addition, Senator Rick Santorum hosted four bloggers in a press conference this morning, one of them Bill Roggio:
Senator Rick Santorum (R-PA), Chairman of the Senate Republican Conference, will hold a press conference to highlight the individual efforts of our men and women in uniform serving in Iraq. Four independent civilian military bloggers will share firsthand accounts of the efforts of our Armed Forces in fighting the Global War on Terror and protecting the homeland.
Senator Santorum will also give a brief presentation of unique Senate features available on the Senate Republican Conference’s website http://src.senate.gov that will highlight stories and narratives of our men and women in uniform serving in Iraq.
WHO: Senator Rick Santorum (R-PA)
Michael Yon, independent civilian military blogger,
Bill Roggio, independent civilian military blogger,
Steve Schippert, independent civilian military blogger,
Andi Carol, independent civilian military blogger,
WHAT: Press Conference
WHERE: SC-4, U.S. Capitol
WHEN: TOMORROW – Wednesday, November 9, 2005 -- 9:45 a.m.
Congratulations, all! BTY, Andi is a regular at our weekly pro-troops rally outside Walter Reed. Her husband is in the military on deployment, so you can believe she's not thrilled with the antics of Code Pink.
I'm familiar with all of the bloggers except for Steve Schippert. Either way, I'm sure all of them will have accounts of the press conference on their sites.
Twelve Days and Counting in France
Rioting has continued for twelve straight days in France and one wonders what to make of it. From my news survey, many liberals take the view that religion has nothing to do with it and that it is all because of poverty and racism.
Retired Lt. Gen. Thomas McInerney, one of the few analysists who predicted how the invasion of Iraq would proceed accurately, says that this is not the case
"It is not a directed part of the global extremist network, but it is an offshoot that is well-organized and has similar objectives in intimidating the French government, which they have done," Gen. McInerney said.
The riots will expand unless the French government moves quickly to quell the disturbances, he said.
"It is an assimilation problem that Muslims have, and it will only eventually be resolved through an Islamic reformation," he said.
Exactly. Here in the United States we have a tradition of give-and-take with our immigrants. They adopt traditional American ways, and those already here pick up some of their traditions and customs. This is not occuring in Europe. Europeans only seem to want the immigrants for their labor, and are not interested in assimilating them. On their side, the current generation of Muslim immigrants want no part of European society, which they see as decadent. Rather, many of them want to impose their beliefs on Europe.
According to an article in StrategyPage, France is starting to question the loyalty of Muslims serving in their army:
France has been detecting, or at least fearing, loyalty problems among the fifteen percent of its soldiers who are Moslem. The military insists that these second and third generation soldiers of, for the most part, Arab descent, are loyal. But many Christian soldiers, NCOs and officers are not so sure. Harassment of Moslem troops by Christian soldiers is common. There have been no major incidents of soldiers turned terrorists, but the abuse from paranoid soldiers, NCOs and officers might push Moslem soldiers to go bad. This is believed more likely because there are no Moslem chaplains. Thus Moslem soldiers seek spiritual advice from clerics with no military experience, and possible a radical agenda. More worrisome is that radicalized soldiers will leave the army equipped with skills they can use for terrorist attacks.
Daniel Pipes has a typically insightful article on the riots. He asks why, if the rioters are motivated by bad economic conditions and racism, they cry "Allahu Akbar". Rather, he sees the riots as part of "a new form of jihad"
Indigenous Muslims of northwestern Europe have in the past year deployed three distinct forms of jihad: the crude variety deployed in Britain, killing random passengers moving around London; the targeted variety in the Netherlands, where individual political and cultural leaders are singled out, threatened, and in some cases attacked; and now the more diffuse violence in France, less specifically murderous but also politically less dismissible. Which of these or other methods will prove most efficacious is yet unclear, but the British variant is clearly counterproductive, so the Dutch and French strategies probably will recur.
Read the whole thing.
Wretchard of Belmont Club fears that the French will react precisely in the wrong way:
What I am afraid will happen is that the French authorities will apply the worst possible combination: a short-term crackdown based on profiling together with an agreement to cede the governance of these ghettos to some kind of Islamic councils. That will make the banlieus more opaque while at the same time making them more alien. Yet the attraction of this policy mix is obvious. It throws a bone to the extreme right and left wings of French policy and may quell the disturbances for a moment. It kicks the can down the road into a minefield. It's a soothing gargle of antiseptic mouthwash prior to flossing with a razor blade.
Indeed. Czar Nicholas II combined both personal weakness and a determination to maintain absolute power for himself. This proved a fatal combination. While it would be premature at this point to predict that we are seeing the "end of Europe", these riots, combined with ominous demographic trends, can only make one fear for the future of that continent.
StrategyPage says that ethnicity and economics are the main factors driving the rioters. They point out that Islmac clerics have issued a fatwa condemning the violence, but that the rioters are not very religious so don't listen. They also point to 10%+ unemployment, and laws that make it hard to fire, and thus hire, employees. Add to this a lax attitude towards property crimes and a existing Muslim-run criminal gangs, and you have trouble.
There are some Islamic radicals running around in all this, but they are a minority. The Moslem kids like to talk about respect and payback, but very few see this as a religious war. It’s become a sport, with various groups competing to cause the most destruction. Text messaging, Internet bulletin boards and email made it possible for the rioters to stay in touch and compare notes. The media coverage also encouraged the violence, giving the kids some positive (for them) feedback.
My guess is that there is a little of everything going on. And we cannot forget that there is a tendancy to see what you want to see. Thus conservatives look for Muslim extremism, and liberals look for criminal and ethnic alienation. StrategyPage shoots straight, and although in this case I think they underplay the religious angle, I do admit that economic and ethnic factors play more of a role than I had initially considered.
De Villepin's call for increased spending on training programs comes amid rising unemployment among immigrants. Last year, 17.4 percent of immigrants were unemployed, compared with 9.2 percent for non-immigrants, says Insee, the Paris-based government statistics office. For the same education level, immigrants are more likely to be unemployed, it said.
``Youth unemployment reaches almost 40 percent in some areas,'' de Villepin said. He added that the goal of the government will be to give unemployed youth living in France's ``sensitive urban areas'' a work contract, an internship or training in coming months.
De Villepin also said he will restore government subsidies to local associations scrapped by his predecessor and aims to triple scholarships and improve links between universities and students living in poor areas.
The prime minister said in the interview that students must be able to join vocational training programs at the age of 14 instead of 16. Almost 150,000 students drop out of school without a diploma or a skill each year, according to the prime minister.
De Villepin also called for businesses and the population as a whole to fight ethnic discrimination. The government wants to make sure that the riots aren't used by ``radical Islam,'' which is not the ``main'' concern at the moment, he said.
Some people just never learn.
November 8, 2005
More Progress in Iraq
Yesterday I reported on progress in Iraq, citing two articles posted on StrategyPage. Looks like Bill Roggio saw them also and agrees with me.
The political war against the Sunni-led insurgency proceeds in conjunction with military operations. Strategy Page details how successful military operations help feed the success on the political front. Intelligence on the Sunni leadership is gained via the death or capture of terrorists and insurgents, or suspected insurgents, which in turn is used to identify the players in the insurgency. A picture of the insurgency develops over time, and the Coalition acts by either enticing the leaders to join the political process, or kill them if required.
See, I told you so.
Roggio, one of the most prolific and comprehensive war bloggers, is traveling to Iraq shortly, and will "imbed" with the Marines of Regimental Combat Team – 2 in the Anbar Province. Roggio is perhaps best known for his day-to-day coverage of military operations in Iraq, always with an eye to the larger picture. Because this is a private project that requires much funding, if you can spare a few dollars, please go to his website and contribute.
There is much other good news to report about Iraq also.
Marc at USS Neverdock cites several articles that tell of vast improvements in security on the road from Baghdad to the city airport. You'll also want to check out the comments. Predictably, the trolls on his side can't stand the idea that we might be making progress.
National Review, also perhaps fed up with the coverage of the war by the MSM, has a new "good news" section on their website. Here are a few of the articles that have appreared there recently:
There Is Progress: Where the success is in Iraq Professor Mackubin Owens points out a number of areas where we're making progress, from the new constitution to the Iraqi army.
Soccer Victories: This is what we’re about If you've ever wondered about whether sending something as simple as a soccer ball to our troops can make a difference, wonder no more. The generosity of Americans is helping us win. We all have a part to play in this war.
Winning, One Student at a Time: American and Iraqi patriots at work in Iraq A moving story about Iraqis and Americans are working to rebuild the country despite threats, some of which do result in patriots being killed.
“The Right Place at the Right Time” A Navy lieutenant on serving in Iraq Michael Fumento, imbedded with the Marines in Falujah last May, writes about progress in that city.
November 7, 2005
Progress In Iraq
Several times now I've said that we're winning in Iraq.
And there are probalby more that I just can't find but you get the point.
Everyone knows that the Sunnis are behind the insurgency. If not for their support it would have withered long ago. The invaluable StrategyPage believes that this support will not last much longer:
For the last two years, the big mystery in Iraq, at least among Iraqis and American intelligence officer, was how long will the Sunni Arabs continue to fund and support attacks on the Iraqi government. The Sunni Arabs could have cut a deal with the Kurds and Shia Arabs in 2003, but instead, most decided to stick with the Baath Party and Saddam Hussein, and try to regain control of the country via terrorism and force. There was plenty of money for this effort. Saddam and his Sunni Arab cronies had stolen billions, and a lot of it was gotten out of the country before the invasion, and after that, there were still millions hidden away in Sunni Arab communities. With that money, you could hire lots of Sunni Arabs, including former secret policemen, Republican Guard soldiers, and assorted bad guys, to go after the Americans, and any new Iraqi government officials, or Iraqis that supported the new government.
How will this this cycle of money be stopped? Simple, in a way; you don't go after the money, but the money handlers:
It’s not that the bad guys are running out of money, or people willing to die for a few hundred bucks. What the terrorists are running out of is Sunni Arab leaders willing to continue tolerating the violence. Each month, a few more neighborhoods shift sides, becoming an unwelcome place for terrorists, and more tolerant of Iraqi soldiers and police. American intelligence and the Iraqi government each have lists of the key Sunni Arab tribal, religious and business leaders they need to convert or, in a few cases, kill, in order to end the Sunni Arab violence. Each month, especially since the January elections (that elected the interim government), one percent, or a few percent, of the people on that list, move over to the government side. Another few percent become potential converts. By the end of the year, over half these Sunni Arab big shots will be out of the terrorism business.
More American Casualties
"But aren't we losing more Americans?" You will hear this from the naysayers. One obvious response is to point out the fallacy of linear modes of thinking when it comes to warfare. Wherever did we get the notion that casualties are supposed to decrease as the war progresses? Must we remind them that the two battles that cost the most American lives in World War II, the Battle of the Bulge and Okinawa, came only months before the end of the war (in their respective theaters)?
All this is true. But again we turn to StrategyPage for details on our current conflict:
The fighting in Iraq is changing, as the Sunni Arab homeland (central and western Iraq) are more aggressively patrolled by American and Iraqi forces. This has put more small U.S. bases in Sunni Arab neighborhoods, and made it more dangerous for the 75,000 civilian contractors working for the American military.
More agressive patrolling means more casualties. We could "hunker down", but then we'd lose. A terrible thing to contemplate, really, that one must be agressive and lose good people to win. But there it is.
Why don't we know all this? Well, some of it is due to incompetent reporting, but that's too easy an answer. StrategyPage again throws some light upon the matter:
First, the military prefers discussions of their strategy and tactics stay out of the news (where the enemy can see it.) The enemy in Iraq often makes mistakes, employing ineffective tactics and the like. Because the communications between the various anti-government groups in Iraq is improvised, it takes a while for everyone to find out that some great new roadside bomb design, or other combat tactic no longer works. The reason is usually that the American and Iraqi troops have come up with a new gadget or tactic. The American and Iraqi troops have excellent communications, and can distribute information much more rapidly and completely than the terrorist and anti-government groups can. The good guys want to work their advantage as long as possible.
Another reason for not reporting military news is that it is often complex news, and it is often positive (for the Americans and Iraqis) news. These are two no-nos in the news business. Keep it simple, keep it negative, and you will grab the most eyeballs. The news business is a business, and what's best for business is bad news, the more negative, simple and sensational the better. That's why spectacular disasters always make the news. On a slow news day, you can keep people interested by reporting automobile accidents. There are many of them, most people can relate to such incidents, and some of them, each day, are spectacular.
There's another factor; the Three Year Rule. In all of America's wars, popular support for the war effort sharply declined after three years. Even though the government said, from late September, 2001 on, that the war on terror would be a long one, this has not changed the impact of the Three Year War. If you can't get it over with within three years, you are going to face more and more voter opposition to the war effort. Go back and look at the history of all of America's long (over three years) wars and you will see this play out.
Almost all Americans today believe that the Revolution, Civil War(from the North's standpoint) and World War II were worth fighting. And we have this vision of everyone linking arms and marching off to fight some enemy that everyone agreed was evil.
Were that it was the case in reality.
As just about any history book will tell you, only 1/3 of the colonists wanted independence from Great Britain. A full third were loyalysts, and the last third didn't care. Glad we didn't take a poll then, huh?
Today everyone thinks that it was right to fight the Civil War (again, from the North's perspective) in order to end slavery. I do. What we forget is that the Lincoln didn't fight it to end slavery (at least not at first) but to keep the Union together. And many or most Union soldiers certainly weren't fighting to end slavery.
And the war certainly became unpopular quickly, once everyone saw that it wasn't going to be the quick victory they had anticipated. In fact it became so unpopular that neither army could fill it's ranks and had to resort to conscription. Anti-war sentiment in the North became so fierce that in the presidential election of 1864 the Democrats ran on an "end the war" platform. Lincoln was convinced he was going to lose the election until a few timely victories turned the tide of public opinion.
And World War II? Well, it was popular once we got involved. But before December 7 we wanted nothing to do with it. We had come to believe that our involvement in WWI was a mistake, and we blamed our entry on arms manufacturers (google for Nye Commission). Polls showed that 80-90% of Americans didn't want to aid Britain in her fight against Nazism. Fortunately FDR had the foresight to ignore the polls and help Britain through Lend-Lease and fighting what amounted to a secret war in the Atlantic against German U-Boats (check this out if you don't believe me). Even after Pearl Harbor, Americans wanted to go after Japan, not Germany. The people were dismayed and resistant to Roosevent's "Germany First" strategy. All this is just about unbelievable today, but there it is.
So we just have to hang in there and eventually we'll have this thing one. Fifty years from now they'll wonder what all the fuss was about.
Who'd a Thunk It?
Another great story in today's Washington Times. Here's the headline:
Recruits join armed forces seeking war
Well who'd a thunk it?
Not from reading most of the news you wouldn't. I can't even take most of Fox News these days. Most of the time they're off chasing whatever young white girl has gone missing recently.
Back to the story:
Going to war, more than job opportunities and money for college, is the post-September 11 allure for joining the armed services, military officials say. And, in a trend that bewilders and dismays those opposed to the war in Iraq, enlistment numbers are up and recruiting goals are mostly being met or exceeded.
"There is a sort of vendetta because of 9/11," says Staff Sgt. Jose Guerreiro, a senior drill instructor at Parris Island.
"Some recruits have even had family members killed in Iraq. We tell them chances are they'll be going," the sergeant said. "We explain to them that not everybody's going to be kicking down doors up front, but they know combat is likely for all Marines."
My heavens you have to love 'em.
If I wasn't so old I'd join up myself. When I was young enough to sign up, I was too stupid and off doing things I oughtn't to have been doing. But if I lived life regretting things I didn't do when I should have I'd go nuts. But I've gotten off topic, and it's time to go back to the story.
What strikes me is the statement by the sergeant about a "vendetta because of 9/11". One, we are so often told by the msm that because there is no proof that Saddam was involved in 9/11(and he probably wasn't), the war in Iraq has nothing to do with the War on Terror. Further, liberals often trot out some survey which purportedly shows that some high percentage of Americans believe that Saddam was involved in 9/11, then we are instructed that this is due to the lies of the Bush administration... and it's here we go again with the same old tired mantra.
Second, many of the young men and women signing up must be in the 18-20 year age bracket. That means that they were 14-16 when 9/11 occured. And this in turn tells me that we have an awefully bunch of astute and smart young people in this country.
But if I may toot my own horn I knew this already. For anyone who is exasperated with the stories of young people doing wrong, I'd say you simply don't know where to look. Some years ago I discovered just where to look, and that place is as close as your local church.
I told you about my latest experience working with young people when I went on the mission trip to Scotland a few months ago. What I don't think I told you is that over the past 5 or 6 years I've been on other such trips and everytime I am impressed. (P.S. yes I know kids are on their best behavior around adults and all that but nevertheless I saw some amazing things)
I'll leave you with another quote from the article, about how recruitment goals are being met:
The military's numbers seem to back him up for the active-duty services, although the Reserves and National Guard units are having more trouble attracting new recruits.
For four out of the past five years, the Army has exceeded its goal for active-duty recruits, while regularly increasing the number desired. Fiscal 2005, which ended Sept. 30, was the first year it fell short, getting 92 percent of its 80,000 goal.
The Air Force, Navy, and Marine Corps have all met or exceeded their annual recruiting goals for every year since September 11, although some monthly and quarterly shortfalls have occurred.
For 2005, for example, the Air Force exceeded its active recruiting goal of 18,900 new airmen by 322; the Navy topped its goal of 37,635 recruits by 68; and the Marines exceeded their 32,917 target by 44.
November 6, 2005
The Cold War Museum
Nine years ago, Francis Gary Powers Jr dedicated himself to building a museum about the Cold War. The son of famed U-2 pilot Francis Gary Powers(since deceased), he has an obvious personal interest in seeing that people do not forget the sacrifices and heroism of the Americans who fought it.
The museum is still in the planning stages. Powers is in the finalizing with local government authorities a site, on an old Nike missile base in Lorton Virginia, just a few miles south of Washington DC. Many artifacts have been acquired and are in storage awaiting construction of the museum building. However, Powers has put together an exibit on his father's U-2 as a kind of "traveling museum", which today can be seen at the Wings Over the Rockies Museum in Denver, Colorado, through November 2005. It has been on display on other museums across the United States as well.
Recently, the Commonwealth of Virginia allocated a $125,000 matching grant to the Cold War Museum. "Matching", of course, means that in order to receive the money they need to match it with money of their own. To donate you can go here or here. Federal and Military personnel can donate though Combined Federal Campaign number 7475.
On a personal note, I had the pleasure of meeting Francis Gary Powers Jr some years ago. We live in the same general suburban area of our nation's capitol, and I attended some events to to help him promote his cause.
Every month, from spring through fall, Mr Powers hosts the Spies of Washington Tour, which I went on a few years ago. The tour starts at the Pentagon City Mall, where everyone boards a charter bus. The bus drives around the northern Virginia and Washington DC area while Mr Powers and another guide point out places of interest relating to espionage activities. The tour includes a stop at the International Spy Museum, which I would encourage everyone to visit if you are in the area.
While there is of now no physical museum, they do have a website where you can find many articles, personal stories, and on-line "exibits" about the Cold War.
In addition, Powers publishes an on-line magazine about the Cold War, titled, appropriately enough, The Cold War Times.
From the Cold War Museum website:
Mission Statement and Goals
The Cold War Museum is a 501(c)(3) charitable organization dedicated to education, preservation, and research on the global, ideological, and political confrontations between East and West from the end of World War II to the dissolution of the Soviet Union.
The three main goals of the Museum are to:
* Develop permanent Cold War Museums to preserve local and regional Cold War history with the headquarters and National Museum facility located in the Washington, DC metropolitan area.
* Erect Cold War Memorials with the National Cold War Memorial located near Arlington National Cemetery to honor the men and women who were killed as part of Cold War events and activities.
* Establish a reference library and research center to help maintain the historical accuracy of the Cold
From Powers' most recent email to subscribers:
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November 2, 2005
Racism is OK if You're a Maryland Democrat
This story from the Washington Times is just about unbelieveable. Liberals in Maryland have sunk to a new low:
Black Democratic leaders in Maryland say that racially tinged attacks against Lt. Gov. Michael S. Steele in his bid for the U.S. Senate are fair because he is a conservative Republican.
Such attacks against the first black man to win a statewide election in Maryland include pelting him with Oreo cookies during a campaign appearance, calling him an "Uncle Tom" and depicting him as a black-faced minstrel on a liberal Web log.
Operatives for the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee (DSCC) also obtained a copy of his credit report -- the only Republican candidate so targeted.
But black Democrats say there is nothing wrong with "pointing out the obvious."
"There is a difference between pointing out the obvious and calling someone names," said a campaign spokesman for Kweisi Mfume, a Democratic candidate for U.S. Senate and former president of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People.
State Sen. Lisa A. Gladden, a black Baltimore Democrat, said she does not expect her party to pull any punches, including racial jabs at Mr. Steele, in the race to replace retiring Democratic U.S. Sen. Paul S. Sarbanes.
"Party trumps race, especially on the national level," she said. "If you are bold enough to run, you have to take whatever the voters are going to give you. It's democracy, perhaps at its worse, but it is democracy."
Delegate Salima Siler Marriott, a black Baltimore Democrat, said Mr. Steele invites comparisons to a slave who loves his cruel master or a cookie that is black on the outside and white inside because his conservative political philosophy is, in her view, anti-black.
"Because he is a conservative, he is different than most public blacks, and he is different than most people in our community," she said. "His politics are not in the best interest of the masses of black people."
I don't think that any comment is really necessary.
Today's Washington Times reports that the Democrat candidate for governor, Benjamin L. Cardin, says that he will not personally use racial epithets against Republican Michael S. Steele in their race for governor, but he will not repudiate fellow Democrats who do.
However, other black Democrats in Maryland say that they will try to put a stop to such tactics.
"I have never in my entire life brought race into what I do in life, and it is not going to come in now, at this stage," said Mr. Cardin, a 10-term congressman who could face Mr. Steele in the contest to replace retiring Sen. Paul S. Sarbanes. "I don't think race has any place in this campaign."
Even as Mr. Cardin declined to criticize fellow Democrats, members of the Congressional Black Caucus said Baltimore lawmakers in the General Assembly should "cease and desist" from making racial comments about Mr. Steele -- the first black man to win a statewide election in Maryland.
"My plan is to meet with them and ask them to stop this at once," said U.S. Rep. Elijah E. Cummings, Baltimore Democrat and former Black Caucus chairman.
Rep. Albert R. Wynn, a black Prince George's County Democrat, admonished Baltimore lawmakers and even described Mr. Steele as "a likable guy."
"I think the comments and the attacks were outrageous and reprehensible. It does a disservice to the African-American community, and it creates a herd mentality that whatever the Democrats say we should repeat," Mr. Wynn said.
My hat is off to Representatives Cummings and Wynn for doing the right thing.