« May 2006 | Main | July 2006 »

June 28, 2006

Need a Moveable Type Developer / Web Expert

I am currently experiencing trouble with this blog, and get all sorts of errors when attempting to post or do much of anything in the management tool.

I'm not sure whether the problem is at hosting company or the MT software, or some combination. I have put in tickets with both and they have been providing suggestions. Unfortunately it is all over my head, and so I am at the point where I will pay someone who has expertise in these matters, to help resolve the issue.

If you know Moveable Type, or can recommend someone (or a web development company) who does, please leave a comment or send me an email. In the meantime I'll be shopping companies myself to see what I can come up with.

All this means that I will not be posting here for awhile. However, I will be posting at Conserva-Puppies and Love America First. Links to those sites are at right.

Posted by Tom at 9:14 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

June 24, 2006

Iraq War Progress Report

The bottom line is that it's a mixed bag, as always.

However, it's more complicated than the impression you have if all you do is tune into the top-of-the-hour news broadcasts.

Let's start with a briefing given by by General George Casey, commander of Multinational Force Iraq, and Donald Rumsfeld, Secretary of Defense, that took place at the Pentagon on June 22. Here's the money quotes from General Casey:

Al Qaeda is hurt in the aftermath of Zarqawi's death, both because of his -- it's a loss of leadership, and two, because of the numerous operations that have been conducted in -- as a result of information found in the course of raids that led to the killing of Zarqawi. They're hurt, but they're not finished. And they won't be finished for some time. But as you saw in the documents that the secretary quoted to you, they are -- they're feeling the pain right now. ...

The second big security challenge that adds to the complexity of the environment are these illegal armed groups. And I say illegal armed groups rather than militias because militias take people in too many different directions. These illegal armed groups are operating outside the rule of law. They are not the nine groups of militia that are mentioned in the CPA law that fought Saddam. These are criminals. And they need to be dealt with through a combination of political influence and security forces, and they will be.
...

And the fourth element that I'd suggest to you that adds complexity to the security environment is Iran. And we are quite confident that the Iranians, through their covert special operations forces, are providing weapons, IED technology and training to Shi'a extremist groups in Iraq, the training being conducted in Iran and in some cases probably in Lebanon through their surrogates. They are conducting -- using surrogates to conduct terrorist operations in Iraq, both against us and against the Iraqi people. It's decidedly unhelpful.
...

People say the insurgency's growing because attacks are up. Now, what I'd tell you it's more complex. It's more complex than the insurgency is growing. The insurgency hasn't expanded. Fourteen of the 18 provinces still have about nine attacks a day or less. And if you look at where the sectarian violence is occurring, it's occurring within about a 30-mile -- 90 percent of it is occurring in about a 30- mile radius around Baghdad; some down in Basra, some in Diyala Province, the majority right there in the center of the country. So, much more complex environment, not necessarily a worse security environment.

(emphasis added)

Richard Fernandez summarizes:

* The internally organized insurgency (al-Qaeda in Iraq, the Sunni insurgency) is decline. Al-Qaeda in Iraq is hurt and perhaps dying; the Sunnis are looking to throw in the towel.

* Criminal gangs and ethnic militias are the rising threat. But Casey does not appear all that worried. "And if you look at where the sectarian violence is occurring, it's occurring within about a 30-mile -- 90 percent of it is occurring in about a 30- mile radius around Baghdad"

* Something happened "since the December elections and in the aftermath of the Samarra bombing" that made the security situation "more complex". And that something appears to be the increasing role of Iran using the Lebanese Hezbollah and Qods to direct and support "a wide variety of groups across southern Iraq".
...

If I were to guess, and I emphasize guess, it means that the US is now in the process of shifting its strategic focus from al-Qaeda and Sunni threats to Iran.

I now look back at last month's "Now Entering Phase IV of the War in Iraq", and I think I got some of it right, and some of it wrong. I was right when I said that the Sunni/al-Qaeda insurgency was finished, or at least on it's last legs. I got it partially right when I said that our next move would be against the militias. And I entirely missed the new focus on Iran.

Maybe I should have paid more attention to this comment by Secretary Rumsfeld at a March 7, 2006 briefing at the Pentagon

I will say this about Iran. They are currently putting people into Iraq to do things that are harmful to the future of Iraq. And we know it, and it is something that they, I think, will look back on as having been an error in judgment.

Q Why is that?

SEC. RUMSFELD: I've said all I have to say.

Interesting.

Turning to the always valuable StrategyPage, we see this from Patterns in Iraq, posted on June 22.

The bloodshed in Iraq is getting worse, and involving U.S. troops less and less. In the last year, over 10,000 Iraqi civilians died from terrorist and internecine violence. That's about twice as many deaths as the year before. ...

The government is trying to rein in the death squads formed within the police (for the most part) and army (much more rare). But this is hard. The government has not been able to shut down the Sunni Arab terrorists and criminal gangs either.
...

The government is willing to go after al Qaeda leaders (most of whom are Iraqis these days, at least in Iraq), but the Sunni Arab terror groups are basically tribal issues. If you want to shut these guys down, you have to cut a deal with the tribal overlords. That's taking time, and in the meantime the killing gets worse. The Sunni Arabs try to return the favor when their own are murdered. But that's becoming harder to do as the Kurds and Shia Arabs get better at doing what was, for so long, a Sunni Arab monopoly.

And from Memories are Long, Factions are Many and Tempers are Short, posted the next day

Iraq isn't slipping into Civil War, it's never emerged from the civil disorder that arose when Saddam's police state was taken apart three years ago. Five decades of Sunni Arab dictatorship, and three decades of Saddam's increasingly murderous police state, had changed Iraqi society. The change was similar to what was discovered when the communist governments of Eastern Europe were overthrown in 1989-91. People were glad to be free, but still cursed with many bad habits acquired during decades of despotic rule. One of the worst habits was an unfamiliarity with how law and order works, and why it's so important. ...

So what is the Iraqi government to do with this mess? Actually, the situation is typical of the region, where memories are long, factions are many and tempers are short. You make deals with as many factions as you can, and kill or imprison those who refuse to negotiate.
...

There are already some 250,000 Iraqi security personnel armed and at work. Another 60,000 or so will be in action by the end of the year.

Normally I find the best information available from pure Internet sources, but occasionally something from the msm strikes my interest. This article from the Washington Post is a case in point. Titled "Analysis: Iraq Insurgency Fights On", Steven Hurst of the Associated Press writes that


Bruce Hoffman, a counterterrorism expert at Rand Corp., said the good news side of the balance sheet, when seen as a whole, is a "significant step forward, at least in the immediate sense."

"But the facts on the ground have not really changed one iota. It was just one brick in the wall. It (the al-Zarqawi killing) was decisive, but the rest of the machine (al-Qaida in Iraq) remains intact," he said in telephone interview.

In recent months, the Bush administration increasingly has acknowledged that it will be years before Iraq is a truly stable and democratic nation. But that goal, at present, appears to be receding even as progress is made against the Sunni-dominated insurgency that has killed hundreds of U.S. soldiers and thousands of Iraqis.

Criminal gangs and sectarian militias are rapidly filling a security vacuum created by the lack of a trustworthy police force. The Interior Ministry, a Shiite-run agency that controls police forces, is rife with militiamen bent on revenge killings, shakedowns and kidnapping for ransom.

"Sectarian and ethnic violence has come to rival the insurgency in terms of casualties and the threat it poses to political, social and economic progress in Iraq," security analyst Anthony H. Cordesman writes in an advance copy of a book he is writing at the Center for Strategic and International Studies.

The article goes on to paint a pretty bleak picture. Predictable, I suppose, but somewhat out of sync with my other sources. Who is right? I think that the Post article is overly pessimistic, but one can accuse StrategyPage of being overoptimistic. The Post article is a bit simplistic, but Hurst does raise some very good points. I suppose it is trite to say that "only time will tell", but

Posted by Tom at 9:30 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

That WMD Story II

A few more thoughts are in order on the 500 chemical weapons that Senator Rick Santorum (R-PA) and Congressman Peter Hoekstra, (R-MI-2) announced that we'd found in Iraq since the March 2003 invasion.

I checked CNN, Reuters, the BBC, The Washington Post, The Washington Times, and MSNBC this morning, and from what I can tell none of them are running any stories about it. It's been moved to the status of "old news".

When they did cover it, they dismissed it as "no news". A Washington Post story last week which declarered that "intelligence officials reaffirmed that the shells were old and were not the suspected weapons of mass destruction sought in Iraq after the 2003 invasion."

An AP story posted on Yahoo yesterday also downplayed the announcement:

Intelligence officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity because of the subject's sensitive nature, said the weapons were produced before the 1991 Gulf War and there is no evidence to date of chemical munitions manufactured since then. They said an assessment of the weapons concluded they are so degraded that they couldn't now be used as designed.

They probably would have been intended for chemical attacks during the
Iran-Iraq War, said David Kay, who headed the U.S. weapons-hunting team in Iraq from 2003 until early 2004.

He said experts on Iraq's chemical weapons are in "almost 100 percent agreement" that sarin nerve agent produced from the 1980s would no longer be dangerous.

"It is less toxic than most things that Americans have under their kitchen sink at this point," Kay said.

And any of Iraq's 1980s-era mustard would produce burns, but it is unlikely to be lethal, Kay said.

Well, maybe. David Kay certainly is an expert. But Jim Geraghty asks the obvious question: "Okay, if it's so harmless, why don't you open the canister?"

Funny, but I suspect that those who so casually dismiss the weapons we found as harmless would find some excuse to be out of the room when the canister was opened.

Toxicity Time

So how long does the stuff last? For how long is it lethel?

Here's a letter from two United Nations weapons inspectors to the President of the Security Council from 1999 (hat tip Jim Gheraghty) . Money quote

550 Artillery shells filled with Mustard 33. Iraq declared that 550 shells filled with mustard had been "lost" shortly after the Gulf War. To date, no evidence of the missing munitions has been found. Iraq claimed that the chemical warfare agents filled into these weapons would be degraded a long time ago and, therefore, there would be no need for their accounting. However, a dozen mustard-filled shells were recovered at a former CW storage facility in the period 1997-1998. The chemical sampling of these munitions, in April 1998, revealed that the mustard was still of the highest quality. After seven years, the purity of mustard ranged between 94 and 97%. Thus, Iraq has to account for these munitions which would be ready for combat use. The resolution of this specific issue would also increase confidence in accepting Iraq’s other declarations on losses of chemical weapons which it has not been possible to verify.

At 94% purity I'm not going to be in that room when the canister is opened, I'll tell you that much.

While searching myself, I found this story from 2001:

VIMY, France - Some 13,000 villagers were hastily evacuated Friday in northern France where explosives and lethal chemical weapons stockpiled in a weapons dump from World War I were suddenly found to be dangerous.

"There's a real and serious risk of a leak causing toxic gas to escape," said Remy Pautrat, the chief local government officer: "The gases ... are lethal."
...

The dump contains 173 tonnes of munitions, among them some 16,000 British, German and French shells, nearly all containing highly toxic mustard gas or phosgene, the two chemicals most widely used in the war, local officials said.

So the French take old chemical weapons seriously, and they ought to know, because almost all of the World War I battles in which it was used was in their country. They've been finding stockpiles of it every since.

Moving the Goalposts

For the past three years we've endured critics say that "there were no weapons of mass desctruction in Iraq".

Now it's going to be "there weren't that many, and they were old and probably not in a condition to be lethel."

But how many is "not many"? Today we know about 500 shells. Jim Geraghty on NRO asks if 500 shells isn't enough for the critics, what amount is enough?

500 shells? Because that's what we're learning today. 700 shells? 1000?

How many of these shells are required before a war opponent rethinks the conclusion that Iraq posed no threat? (Recall that about 15 were used in the massacre of the Kurds in Halabja in 1988.)

How many have to be found before the talking point "there were no WMDs in Iraq" gets retired? (I know, never. That will be repeated, and repeated, no matter how many shells get found.)

How much has to be found before a war opponent will say, "Okay, this clearly was a potential threat to the United States and its allies, and we did have to take some action"? I can see how some would say that 500 shells isn't enough. But some amount is enough, and I'd like the anti-war folks to give us a sense of how much is enough by their criteria. If they say that no amount of WMDs could justify the invasion, then we know where they stand.

Threat Analysis

Chemical weapons may be used in one of maybe three circumstances, by a regular military force on the battlefield, by insurgents against a regular military force, and by terrorists against civilian populations.

On the Battlefield

Now that Saddam Hussein's regime is no more, we do not have to worry much about our forces being exposed to chemical attack from other major army units. Even if we had to move against Syria, who has many such weapons, it is difficult to imagine them using them.

I don't have the links to prove it, but as I recall reading, World War I battlefield experience shows that once defenders know that an agressor will use chem/gas, they suit up and casualties are reduced to near 0. However, these suits also reduce effectiveness to a large degree. So, if American troops faced even probable attack by even possibly active chemical agents, whether from terrorists or regular army units, they would probably be forced to suit up. Imagine if our commanders said "oh the stuff is old and won't work", and then one soldier died? Or claimed later that exposure caused his cancer/headaches/etc? You know the result. So, ever-safety consious US commanders would be forced to order troops to suit up if faced with probable attack by even possibly active chem/gas agents. Thus our effectiveness is reduced, which evens the odds somewhat.

Use By Terrorists

Let's remind ourselves of something fundamental; that the purpose of terrorism is to terrorize.

Yes, this sounds obvious, but those who casually dismiss the weapons that we have found need to consider the implications if the terrorists find and bring any of this stuff to a western nation and attempt to release it. Why this has not happened yet I do not know, but it would undoubtably sow panic if it did. Attempts to reassure the public that it was old and " less toxic than most things that Americans have under their kitchen sink" would most likely bring angry responses.

We live in a day when people fret over sacarrine and aspartame in soft drinks, imagine the reaction to news that terrorists had released mustard or sarin.

Unpleasant, but they are things to think about.

Posted by Tom at 8:00 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

June 23, 2006

That WMD Story

Two days ago Senator Rick Santorum (R-PA) and Congressman Peter Hoekstra, (R-MI-2) announced that since the start of OIF three years ago US and Coalition forces have found not-insignificant amounts of chemical weapons in Iraq. Prior to their announcement the only information available to the public were public news stories in 2004 that two old artillery shells had been found.

It is important to note, I think, that only a small part of a much larger document was declassified.

Santorum and Hoeksrta's announcement told of 500 weapons, mainly artillery shells, filled with either mustard gas or the sarin nerve agent. The weapons were produced prior to the 1991 Gulf War, and are in a "degraded" state, so it is not clear if they would work if used if, say, fired from an artillery piece. Neither is it clear how much of the gas or nerve agents remain in "useable" form.

What Does It Mean?

In no particular order, here are some of my thoughts on the matter.

First, this is not the "holy grail" of WMD. Let's face it; when we invaded in March of 2003 we expected to find a lot more, including stuff made after 1991. Those of us who supported OIF and continue to do so should not overemphasize this find.

Further, it does not necessarily prove that Saddam hid WMD. I saw a story yesterday whereby some US chemical weapons were found in a depot in Maryland that the US Army had forgotten about or lost track of. I don't have details handy, and later today or this weekend will try and find the link. The Iraqis produced so much of this stuff that they could have lost track of some of it.

But it also doesn't mean that the 500 shells is all we'll find. If nothing else has become clear about Saddam's Iraq, it is that he armed that country to the teeth. We have found warehouse upon warehouse with small arms, ammunition, mortars and mortar shells, RPGs, and raw explosives piled to the ceiling. They also hid a lot of it underground, even going so far as to bury fighter jets themselves.

Further, I recall reading (can't find the link) that the Iraqis were not good about putting special marks on their WMD shells, so that when mixed in with high-explosive types they were indistinguishable. The point is that the 500 shells may just be the tip of the iceberg.

It is also possible that Saddam did keep some WMD "just in case." To this day we don't know what happened to much of it. Tim Robbins, writing on NRO's The Corner Blog, noted that the Blix report stated that

"The [Iraqi weapons report] document indicates that 13,000 chemical bombs were dropped by the Iraqi air force between 1983 and 1998, while Iraq has declared that 19,500 bombs were consumed during this period. Thus, there is a discrepancy of 6,500 bombs. The amount of chemical agent in these bombs would be in the order of about 1,000 tons. In the absence of evidence to the contrary, we must assume that these quantities are now unaccounted for."

Under the terms of the 1991 cease-fire, and subsequent Security Council resolutions, Saddam was required to provide proof that he destroyed all of his WMD. He never did so. What happened to the 6,500 weapons cited above is a mystery to this day. Therefore, while it is possible that the Iraqis simply misplaced some weapons, the legal onus was on them to account for it.

The entire story also illustrates the Bush Administation's failure to make it's case about Iraq. Why it took Senator Santorum and Represenative Hoekstra to make this public is frustrating to those of us who support OIF. No these weapons are not all of what we expected to find. But neither are they insignificant. Between this and the Administration's failure to tell the story of Saddam's links to terrorist groups such as al-Qaeda, they have done a terrible job at justifying the invasion.

It isn't clear whether the insurgent terrorists know about or have found any of Saddam's WMD too, but of course they could sell it on the black market, or secret it into a Western country. It doesnt matter if the stuff is so degraded that if used it doesn't have much or any effect, because the purpose of terrorism is to terrorize. And no doubt if there are any incidents in which these weapons make it to a Western nation nad are used, we will all freak out for a long period of time.

More later, but for now see Richard Fernandez' post at The Belmont Club. Glenn Reynolds also has a good round-up at Instupundit.

Posted by Tom at 8:25 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

June 22, 2006

The Consequences of Failure II

Once again I find myself linking to a post at The Neo Con Blogger. I'm going to make this site one of my regular stops and suggest that you do likewise.

A letter is posted there, allegedly from a Major General in the Air Force. I'm not sure about the authenticity, but didn't see anything on snopes or other urban legends websites. It doesn't really matter, though, because regardless of who wrote it, the sentiments expressed are accurate.

The letter is titled This War is Real!, and following are some excerpts.

2.. Why were we attacked?
Envy of our position, our success, and our freedoms. The attacks happened during the administrations of Presidents Carter, Reagan, Bush 1, Clinton and Bush 2. We cannot fault either the Republicans or Democrats as there were no provocations by any of the presidents or their immediate predecessors, Presidents Ford or Carter.

3. Who were the attackers?
In each case, the attacks on the US were carried out by Muslims.

4. What is the Muslim population of the World?
25%.

5. Isn't the Muslim Religion peaceful?
Hopefully, but that is really not material. There is no doubt that the predominately Christian population of Germany was peaceful, but under the dictatorial leadership of Hitler (who was also Christian), that made no difference. You either went along with the administration or you were eliminated. There were 5 to 6 million Christians killed by the Nazis for political reasons (including 7,000 Polish priests). (see http://www.nazis.testimony.co.uk/7-a.htm)
...

6. So who are we at war with? There is no way we can honestly respond that it is anyone other than the Muslim terrorists. Trying to be politically correct and avoid verbalizing this conclusion can well be fatal. There is no way to win if you don't clearly recognize and articulate who you are fighting.

So with that background, now to the two major questions:

1. Can we lose this war?
2. What does losing really mean?

t would appear that a great many of us think that losing the war means hanging our heads, bringing the troops home and going on about our business, like post-Vietnam. This is as far from the truth as one can get.

What losing really means is:

We would no longer be the premier country in the world. The attacks will not subside, but rather will steadily increase. Remember, they want us dead, not just quiet. If they had just wanted us quiet, they would not have produced an increasing series of attacks against us, over the past 18 years. The plan was, clearly, for terrorists to attack us until we were neutered and submissive to them.

We would, of course, have no future support from other nations, for fear of reprisals and for the reason that they would see; we are impotent and cannot help them.

They will pick off the other non-Muslim nations, one at a time. It will be increasingly easier for them. They already hold Spain hostage. It doesn't matter whether it was right or wrong for Spain to withdraw its troops from Iraq. Spain did it because the Muslim terrorists bombed their train and told them to withdraw the troops. Anything else they want Spain to do will be done. Spain is finished.
...

So, how can we lose the war?

Again, the answer is simple. We can lose the war by "imploding." That is, defeating ourselves by refusing to recognize the enemy and their purpose, and really digging in and lending full support to the war effort. If we are united, there is no way that we can lose. If we continue to be divided, there is no way that we can win!

Read the whole thing.

Previous: The Consequences of Failure

Posted by Tom at 9:37 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Outrage

I have't written anything about Pfc. Kristian Menchaca, 23, of Houston, or Pfc. Thomas L. Tucker, 25, Madras, Oregon, the two solders who were captured, tortured, and killed by the terrorists in Iraq because no words seemed adequate. The whole thing was so horrible that words cannot really express what I think or feel about it. Here, then, for what it's worth, are a few thoughts about the situation.

My first reaction was probably the wrong one, that we should "take the gloves off" and do what it takes to defeat the terrorists. Yes we should redouble our efforts. Perhaps we should even revisit our rules of engagement. But to submit to a fit of rage and issue orders to "do what it takes" would be the wrong response, I think.

What's amazing, I think, is that this has not happened before, or does not happen more often. Think about it. We've been there over 3 years and this is the first incident of it's type that I can think of. All similar cases involved civilians. It is a tribute, I think, to our military that they're procedures have proteceted our troops so well so far against this sort of thing.

The behavior of self-proclaimed human rights groups has been predictably abysimal. Most of them took their good sweet time before issuing any sort of statement condemning what was done to the soldiers, and when they did, such as Amnesty International, they seemed more pro-forma than anything else. "Thanks for nothing", as Richard Hernandez put it. Michelle Malkin, as usual, has the full story. Human Rights Watch had nothing on their home page about it as of this writing, but does have a decent report on abuses by the insurgents on their site. Check it out.

The Democrats, except for the lonely Joe Lieberman, have gone completely insane.

Murtha is a disgrace. He is absolutely out of control. I go to Walter Reed to visit the soldiers too so don't try that one on me.

Their are said to be "fissures" in the Democrat Party over Iraq; one group wants to set a hard and fast deadline of July 1 2007 for US troops to be out of Iraq, the other a "phased redeployment of U.S. forces this year." Neither is a war-winning strategy, and both are completely irresponsible.

John Kerry spun his cut-and-run strategy as "empowering" the new Iraqi government. Uh, no.

In Vietnam we decided to "declare victory and go home". Today's Democrats want to declare defeat and go home. Or just go home regardless of consequences.

They act as if we've not no successes at all. But just the other day we killed another terrorist leader, one "described as the group's "religious emir" ".

They insist that we give these terrorist Geneva Convention protections. I've no time for detail now, but I've written before how ridiculous that would be. Andrew McCarthy agrees in a must-read piece on NRO yesterday. The bottom line to this issue, if you read what we wrote, is that to give the terrorists Geneva Convention protections would be to undermine the conventions themselves by rewarding the very behaviour that they were drafted to prevent.

Further, there will be those who draw parallels between Abu Ghraib, Haditha, and this incident. John Podhortz has examples of them doing just this in an NYP editorial. I guess if you're so morally confused that you can't see the difference between the US, who prosecuted those who committed the abuses at Abu Ghraib, and is investigating the Marines who may have committed war crimes at Haditha, and the terrorists who do this as a matter of policy, there's probably nothing I can do for you.

But we can debate our policies on interrogation another day. What we are doing does not bring us to the level of the terrorists, no matter what the lefties say.

And on the other side, no this is not the time to go on a rampage or issue orders to "do what it takes".

By The Way

Did you know that we've found chemical weapons in Iraq? Yes, it's true. Not a small amount, either, although they appear to be pre-1991 weapons. Check it out. Yes I know it's not exactly what we'd expected to find when we invaded. But neither is it unsubstantial. Richard Fernandez offers his thoughts at The Belmont Club, and Glenn Reynolds has a round-up of news and commentary.

No doubt the lefties are busy telling everyone that this doesn't mean anything, that Saddam can't be blamed, and that anyway it's all our fault.

Posted by Tom at 7:47 AM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

June 19, 2006

The Consequences of Failure

So the Democrats, led by Rep John Murtha, are constantly clamoring for us to pull out of Iraq immediately. What strikes me about their rhetoric is that it is utterly devoid of speculation as to what might happen in Iraq and around the world if we did so.

Cliff May pointed out the other day on NRO's The Corner blog what would most likely occur

Much as I hope to see a free and democratic Iraq, I don’t think democratization is the key distinction – or the key issue.

We lost in Vietnam because we didn’t have the will and the skills to prevail. Hundreds of thousands of Vietnamese boat people and millions of Cambodian victims of the Khmer Rouge paid the stiffest price.

Americans went home and got on with their lives. But notice was taken of America’s failure.

That led to the seizure of our embassy in Tehran in 1979. When we responded fecklessly to that act of war, the Ayatollahs let loose Hezbollah to slaughter U.S. Marines, diplomats and intelligence agents in Beirut. We retreated again.

And we were tested again – in Mogadishu in 1993. We did not pass that test either.

So Osama bin Laden was inspired to train thousands of terrorists in Afghanistan. We knew what he was doing. We did nothing serious in response. Before long, they came after us – in Kenya and Tanzania, off the coast of Yemen and then in New York and Washington.

Eliminating Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, al-Qaeda’s commander in Iraq, was a great victory. But it’s important to continue to pursue the enemy – not stop fighting prematurely as we did in both 1991 and 2003.

If we fail to prevail against al-Qaeda and the remnants of Saddam Hussein’s regime in Iraq, why would we not falter also in Afghanistan? And why wouldn’t the same strategy and tactics lead to victory for the Islamo-fascists in Jordan, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Malaysia, Indonesia and elsewhere?

We either develop the will – and the military and intelligence skills — to defeat the enemy we now face on the battlefield in Iraq, or we retreat not just from Iraq but from anyplace our enemies don’t want us.

We either overcome our enemies or we resign ourselves to cowering behind concrete barriers for the remainder of this century.

(emphasis added)

He's right, of course.

Anti-war types will deride this, claiming that May's thinking represents the "failed domino theory" of the 1950s and 60s. But they would be incorrect.

But plenty of dominos did fall, and others were only propped up at the last minute. The communists seized power in Czechoslovakia in 1948, taking the West by surprise. The northern part of Korea went communist in 1948, and in China the communists won their civil war in 1949.

Greece and Turkey escaped communist control by virtue of the Truman Doctrine, in which the United States pledged aid and security guarantees to the two countries.

Fidel Castro and his band of communist revolutionaries took control of Havana, and thus Cuba, on New Years Day in 1959. His associate Che Guevaro attempted to spread their revolution throughout Central and South America, but fortunately were stopped.

It may well be that our presence in Vietnam for so long prevented other countries in the region, such as Thailand and Burma, from falling to communist expansion.

The Sandinistas (read communists) won their war against the Somoza regime in Nicaragua 1979. While they are fortunately no longer in power, they do still retain much influence in and may come back into power. In El Salvador, US aid during the 1980s finally beat off communist insurgents.

I could go on but you get the point. The communists spread their revolution to wherever they could when they could. The Islamofascists would do the same. If we allow them to win in Iraq they will redouble their efforts in Afghanistan and other Middle Eastern countries. So if you think we've got trouble now, wait until we're fighting them across half the globe. .

Posted by Tom at 9:23 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Is the Bush Administraion Guilty of "Mission Creep"?

The Bush Administration is constantly accused of expanding the mission in Iraq. First it was getting rid of WMD, they say, now it is turning Iraq into a democracy. Why didn't we pull out immediately once we discovered that Iraq did not have the stockpiles almost everyone in the world thought they had?

The following response to this charge was on NRO's The Corner blog the other day, and I've been meaning to copy here but haven't had time. John Podhoretz posted an email from Mark Conversino, an associate professor at the Air War College. Podhoretz makes the standard disclaimer that Conversino is "expressing a view that is, of course, his own and not that of the government or the military).

What has occurred in the Iraq war has occurred in countless wars—the enemy gets a vote and events do not transpire according to some neat plan. Stubborn resistance and the need for greater exertions are not the same as mission creep. Our mission in Iraq has never changed; the nature of the enemy and therefore of the war on the ground has—that is not mission creep. President Lincoln requested 75,000 90-day volunteers to subdue the rebellion of Southern states in one or two Napoleonic battles. What we got was a grinding four year struggle to restore the Union and end slavery that cost hundreds of thousands of lives. That was not mission creep, even with the added goal of full emancipation since both restoration of the Union and freeing the slaves required the same outcome—a Northern victory. One could also say that, to paraphrase Mr. Derbyshire, no one on December 8, 1941, expected to bring the Axis powers to unconditional surrender (an "end state" announced more than a year after Pearl Harbor) only to embark on that other "long war," the Cold War, following VE and VJ day. Was it therefore purely "mission creep" to remain in Europe and Asia as occupiers simply because we didn't envision that in the days following Pearl Harbor? Did we expend all that blood and treasure merely to see Soviet dominance established over half of Europe? Did the American people sign on to the Berlin Airlift or to halting the North Koreans in 1945? Was the formation of NATO and other Cold War-era alliances (entangling alliances, one might say) a form of mission creep that Americans need not support? I could go on, but you get my point. Moreover, if we alter the "mission" in order to defend our principles, freedoms and way of life because the nature of the enemy has changed, does that reduce the legitimacy of that mission? The evolution of the Cold War fits the definition of mission creep far better than the war in Iraq does but that didn't mean the Cold War was not worth fighting.

There's a larger point here, though, one beyond the notion of mission creep. When things got rough and the sacrifices exceeded our pre-war expectations, we could have cut deals and declared "victory" in 1863, 1943 or 1963. Even though, again to paraphrase Mr. Derbyshire, during these earlier conflicts our leaders got us into situations we never wished to be in and were never asked whether we would wish to be in, we recognized our moral obligation, "as citizens of a democratic polity," was to fight and win, not cut and run.

Ditto that.

Posted by Tom at 9:13 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

June 18, 2006

Saddam's Links to Terrorists, Part 4 Million

Unless you you are posessed by Bush Derangement Syndrome, you know that Saddam had many links to terrorist groups, including al-Qaeda. A partial list of articles that I have collected on this subject include

Saddam’s Terror Ties
Bin Laden uses Iraq to plot new attacks
Case Closed
Iraqi funds, training fuel Islamic terror group
Second 9/11 Hijacker Tied to Abu Nidal, Iraq
Gunning for Saddam
The Saddam-Osama Memo
Saddam Hussein's Philanthropy of Terror
It’s All About 9/11: The president links Iraq and al Qaeda - and the usual suspects moan
Saddam Possessed WMD, Had Extensive Terror Ties
The Mother of All Connections
Iraq & Militant Islam
Saddam's Terror Training Camps

If all that's not enough for you, last week a Fox News series reported on Ray Robison, who's team translated and analyzed a series of articles which once again document Saddam's link to terrorism.

Liberals sometimes dismiss Fox as a right-wing propaganda machine. This is a mistake, as one should never completely dismiss a news outlet. Readers of this site know that I peruse all sorts of media outlets, from Fox News and the Washington Times to CNN and the Washington Post. Foreign sources from the UK Telegraph and Guardian to Reuters and the BBC have all been quoted on this site. Even the most biased outlet gets it right occasionally.

Part I, "Documenting Saddam's Link to Terror" , sets the stage.

"The U.S. government seized thousands of classified Iraqi government papers when Saddam's regime was toppled, and Washington recently released a trove of these documents on the Pentagon's Foreign Military Studies Office Web site."

The documents, many in Arabic and with no accompanying translation, provide multiple insights into events inside pre-war Iraq. The dossier, however, is huge and disorganized. Digging out its secrets is a laborious task — one that the U.S. government decided to leave to others.

One problem with the FMSO site is that the documents appear to all have two numbers, a document number and a .pdf number, making the tracking process more difficult. I've read about this issue elsewhere (I forget where exactly).

Robison is a former infantry officer with the 101st Airborne, he is now a military operations research analyst specializing in aviation and missile research. He gathered a team of linguists to translate, organize, and analyze the documents.

In Part II, "Terror Links to Saddam's Inner Circle", we get to the nitty gritty.

In this part Robison looks at Document ISGP-2003-0001412 (listed at the FMSO site as ISGP-2003-00014127.pdf)


The document "appears to be a notebook kept by an Iraqi Intelligence Service (IIS) agent, one Khaled Abd El Majid, about which little is known. It was "apparently captured in 2003", and is 76 pages long. It covers events taking place in 1999.

It's all rather complicated, but the document tells of two meetiings. The first one, translated and analyzed in this part of the Fox News report, tells of a meeting between a former vice president of Iraq, and one of Saddam's "enforcers", one Taha Yassin Ramadan, and Maulana Fazlur Rahman, described as an " Al Qaeda/Taliban supporter" from Pakistan and a contender for the office of prime minister.
Here are some excerpts of the analysis provided by Robison and his team. This first meeting took place sometime in 1999.

This document appears to provide evidence that in 1999 the Taliban welcomed "Islamic relations with Iraq" to mediate between the Taliban, the Northern Alliance and Russia. It seems to provide evidence that the Taliban invited Iraqi officials to Afghanistan. According to this notebook, the Taliban did this via Maulana Fazlur Rahman. The notebook later mentions that another man, Fazlur Rahman Khalil, was visiting Iraq as well, although no transcript of that meeting is provided. ...

What is the relationship between Maulana Fazlur Rahman and the Taliban and Al Qaeda? Rahman often is described in news articles as the father or godfather of the Taliban. It seems clear that Rahman was close to Al Qaeda through his friend Mullah Omar, who sheltered Usama bin Laden prior to the allied invasion of Afghanistan. A leading news Web site in India has a 2003 article entitled Beware the Maulana! . It gives an extensive history of Rahman and explains how he helped to organize the men that would later become the Taliban under his friend Mullah Omar. It also describes links to Al Qaeda

And their conclusion:

The strong ties between Al Qaeda and the Taliban, and their joint responsibility for terrorism, are clear and well documented. This translated notebook segment provides possible evidence that the Saddam regime and the Taliban were planning diplomatic and possibly operational ties with each other. Independent research indicates Maulana Fazlur Rahman and Fazlur Rahman Khalil were both close to the Taliban and Al Qaeda. The Maulana asked the Saddam regime to mediate with the Taliban's enemies to take off some of the pressure. A fair question is what would Saddam have wanted in return? One possible answer is the only thing the Taliban had left to offer: Islamic Jihad and extremists operating for his interests from outside Iraq. Other translations from this notebook appear to expose a commitment between the Saddam regime and the Taliban that goes beyond mediation in order to increase support among Islamic Jihad groups for Iraq via a secret intelligence relationship with the Taliban.

(emphasis added)

In Part III, "Documents Support Saddam-Taliban Connection", Robison and his team, using the same document linked to above, further explore whether the Taliban and Saddam and his inner circle actively courted each other, the purpose of which would be to establish an anti-American alliance.

Here they look at the second meeting described in the document. It took place on Nov. 28, 1999, with the same participants. For a full translation follow the link to the Fox News site.

Here again are excerpts from the analysis provided by Robison and his team:

Note the Iraqi official says, “We hope that they will win and control,” referring to the Taliban. According to this notebook, Iraq has clearly thrown its support to the Taliban, the epicenter of Islamic Jihad. This is a clear indication that Saddam had no problem working with Jihadists outside of Iraq. ...

This excerpt from the notebook indicates that both the Taliban and Saddam Regime agreed to a secret relationship involving intelligence services. We do not know the scope or extent of that operational relationship, but this notebook and other documents give us further clues. It might well be noted that if Saddam Hussein was merely looking for an Islamic voice to take up his cause, there are plenty of Arab and Muslim organizations that do not depend on violence and terrorism directed at the United States.

(emphais added)

The Taliban, of course, harbored Osama bin Laden and his al-Qaeda network. Saddam was seeking a relationship with the Taliban. Therefore.... oh but no amount of evidence will convince some people. You either get it or you don't

Posted by Tom at 8:46 PM | Comments (5) | TrackBack

June 17, 2006

Flag Officers Conference on Iraq at Ft Carson CO

C R Mountjoy, author of the The Neo Con Blogger, has a fascinating post about a Rear Admiral (unnamed) who attended a flag officer conference at Fort Carson, Colorado. Mountjoy received his report via email from a retired US Army Colonel.

The conference took place last Saturday, June 10. . The conference was hosted by Major General Bob Mixon, Commanding General of Seventh Infantry Division, and " featured a panel of officers who had either very recently returned from commands in the combat zone or were about to deploy there in the next two months. Three of the recent returnees (and panelists) were Colonel H.R. McMaster, Colonel Rick S., and Captain Walter Szpak.." Some 54 generals and admirals were in the audience.

Col McMaster is famous for retaking Tal Afar back from the insurgents last September. At a press conference after the operation, when a reporter accused him of painting too rosy a picture, he responded that "Nothing's rosy in Iraq, okay?" but that "the enemy's on the run." That the operation was a success was attested to by the Mayor of Tal Afar who wrote an amazing letter that he addressed "to the Courageous Men and Women of the 3d Armored Cavalry Regiment, who have changed the city of Tall’ Afar from a ghost town, in which terrorists spread death and destruction, to a secure city flourishing with life."

"Colonel S" was with the Special Forces, this his anonimity. He is described as having "headed up all of the 31 special forces A-teams that are integrated with the populace and the Iraqi Army and national police."

Captain Szpak was the head of all the Army explosive ordnance teams in Iraq. His team studied the IEDs the enemy planted, and devised ways to disarm them before they went off. They also trained combat teams in recognizing and avoiding IEDs.

Although the obective of the conference was to discuss the modular brigade concept, it turned into a discussion on Iraq. The panelists held a Q & A with the audience members, and according to the Rear Admiral who sent the email, a summary of the discussion is as follows

· All returnees agreed that “we are clearly winning the fight against the insurgents but we are losing the public relations battle both in the war zone and in the States”. (I’ll go into more detail on each topic below.)

· All agreed that it will be necessary for us to have forces in Iraq for at least ten more years, though by no means in the numbers that are there now.

· They opined that 80% to 90% of the Iraqi people want to have us there and do not want us to leave before “the job is done”.

· The morale and combat capability of the troops is the highest that the senior officers have ever seen in the 20-30 years that each has served.

· The Iraqi armed forces and police are probably better trained right now than they were under Saddam, but our standards are much higher and they lack officer leadership.

· They don’t need more troops in the combat zone but they need considerably more Arab linguists and civil affairs experts.

· The IEDs and EFPs continue to be the principal problem that they face and they are becoming more sophisticated as time passes.

You'll want to go to the Neo Con Blogger and read the whole thing, but here is an important excerpt on the issue of Public Affairs:

We are losing the public affairs battle for a variety of reasons. First, in Iraq, the terrorists provide Al Jazeera with footage of their more spectacular attacks and they are on TV to the whole Arab world within minutes of the event. By contrast it takes four to six days for a story generated by Army Public Affairs to gain clearance by Combined Forces Command, two or three more days to get Pentagon clearance, and after all that, the public media may or may not run the story.

Second, the U.S. mainstream media (MSM) who send reporters to the combat zone do not like to have their people embedded with our troops. They claim that the reporters get “less objective” when they live with the soldiers and marines – they come to see the world through the eyes of the troops. As a consequence, a majority of the reporters stay in hotels in the “Green Zone” and send out native stringers to call in stories to them by cell phone which they later write up and file. No effort is made to verify any of these stories or the credibility of the stringers. The recent serious injuries to Bob Woodruff of ABC and Kimberly Dozier of CBS makes the likelihood of the use of local stringers even higher.

Third, the stories that are filed by reporters in the field very seldom reach the American public as written. An anecdote from Col. McMaster illustrates this dramatically. TIME magazine recently sent a reporter to spend six weeks with the 3rd ACR as they were in the battle of Tal Afar. When the battle was over, the reporter filed his story and also included close to 100 pictures that the accompanying photographer took. TIME published a cover story on the battle a week later, allegedly using the story sent in by their reporter. When the issue came out, the guts had been edited out of their reporter’s story and none of the pictures he submitted were used. Instead they showed a weeping child on the cover, taken from stock photos. When the reporter questioned why his story was eviscerated, his editors in New York responded that the story and pi ctures were “too heroic”. McMaster had read both and told me that the editors had completely changed the thrust and context of the material their reporter had submitted.

Two conclusions from this. First, while it is tempting to blame the whole thing on the liberal msm, we can't do that. Part of the problem is on our side. Second, if true it is disgraceful that stories are being changed because they are "too heroic".

The question now is one of time. The point that Col Nagl made in his 2005 book Counterinsurgency Lessons from Malaya and Vietnam: Learning to Eat Soup with a Knife, we screwed up in our first two years in Iraq but we've got it right now. Whether the troops will be allowed to complete their mission before political circumstances force a pullout remains to be seen.

Posted by Tom at 12:19 PM | Comments (5) | TrackBack

June 15, 2006

"A Treasure Trove of Documents"

Liberals told us that the death of al-Zarqawi didn't mean anything, that Iraq was still a failure, that we need to get the troops out ASAP regardless of consequences, it's all our fault, blah blah blah.

While the long term results obviously aren't known, what is becoming clear is that his death has proved a bonanza for Coalition forces seeking to destroy the terrorist insurgents.

We recovered a "treasure trove" of documents from the house where Zarqawi was killed. Some of these were described as a "computer asset" in which the al-Qaeda leadership discusses the status of their war with the US. This "computer asset" could be anything from a laptop to a thumb drive to a simple disk. Obviously the Coalition leadership does not want to give away too much.

The text of the document is reprinted in it's entirety at the bottom of this post. The short version is that they see themselves as losing the war.

No doubt some on the left will call it a forgery. But while we are, of course, engaged in propaganda operations against the insurgents, it is one thing to plant, buy, or simply encourage the use of positive stories in the Iraqi press, and quite another to put out a totally forged document. While it is true that such a forgery would be useful, the consequnces of being caught would be devastating. Contrary to what the left will tell you, our nation and military are not run by incompetents.

And it's hardly the first time we've intercepted communications between the terrorists and chosen to make them public, either. Last October CENTCOM published a letter from OBL's top lieutenant Ayman al-Zawahiri to Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, which we had captured earlier that year, in which the former expressed grave concerns about how Zarqawi was running his operaitons in Iraq.

452 Raids and Counting

From the Fox News story linked to above

Coalition forces have carried out 452 raids across Iraq using information gained from the attack that killed terrorist leader Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, and 104 insurgents were killed during those actions, the U.S. military said Thursday. ...

Maj. Gen. William Caldwell, a U.S. military spokesman in Baghdad said the raids led to the discovery of 28 significant arms caches.

He said 255 of the raids were joint operations, while 143 were carried out by Iraqi forces alone. The raids also resulted in the captures of 759 "anti-Iraqi elements."

It's called Operation Together Forward, and from what I can see it looks like it's getting off to a good start. More to the point, we're quicky exploiting intelligence, which is the name of the game when it comes to defeating an insurgency.

StrategyPage calls it "The Zarqawi Effect" and makes the point that

When al Qaeda leader Abu Musab al Zarqawi was killed in Iraq on June 7th, some were surprised at the rapidity with which American raids began against Zarqawi associates, safe houses, etc. (reportedly 36 within a day or so and over 450 within a week). Over a hundred terrorists were killed during those raids, and over 700 arrested. Much additional material (documents, computers, cell phones) has been captured. There were so many new targets, that about a third of the raids were carried out by Iraqi forces alone. This suggests that there's something more going on than a careful perusal of the documents and laptops captured with him. It takes time to sift the docs and bytes, and time to coordinate that many raids. Even by American standards, that's very quick response to recently captured information, unless they already knew enough so that they could have the ops ready to go as soon as Zarqawi was popped.

The editors of StrategyPage take two things from this; one, that there is or was a traitor in the al-Qaeda leadership circle who is or was feeding us information, and two that "bumping off Zarqawi has probably seriously destabilized al Qaeda in Iraq." Don't be fooled by the recent uptick in terrorist bombings, they say, because these are just revenge attacks by enraged followers. In the months to come we'll see how much success all this brings us - and the Iraqi people.

Further, there could be a power struggle going on inside al-Qaeda in Iraq. It's all speculation as of now, but noone is really sure who, if anyone, has taken the leadership reigns of the organization. But even the fact that there is press speculation is beneficial to the Coalition, because it sows doubt in the minds of al-Qaeda followers and sympathizers.

Before we get to the captured al-Qaeda document, let's remember one thing

Wars are not won by the side that makes no mistakes. They are won by the side that makes the fewest mistakes.

Ok, I know this sounds blindingly obvious. But if it does, that's because you don't work for a media outlet like CNN, the New York Times, the BBC, or Reuters. You're also not a Democrat politician (except for Joe Lieberman, see here), nor are you a liberal Republican one.

So why is it that so many focus on our mistakes and ignore those of the enemy? Sure, I suppose it's a natural tendancy to do this. But it's also a press that is obsessed with Vietnam, seeing everything through the lens of that war. Don't think that it's just conservatives in the US who think this way, because Iraq's new Defense Minister, Abdul Qader Mohammed Jassin, says that he hates CNN too.

But we need to realize that the enemy has problems too, and as I think this document shows, theirs are a whole lot worse than ours:

Security Adviser Mouwafak al-Rubaie:

___

The situation and conditions of the resistance in Iraq have reached a point that requires a review of the events and of the work being done inside Iraq. Such a study is needed in order to show the best means to accomplish the required goals, especially that the forces of the National Guard have succeeded in forming an enormous shield protecting the American forces and have reduced substantially the losses that were solely suffered by the American forces. This is in addition to the role, played by the Shi'a (the leadership and masses) by supporting the occupation, working to defeat the resistance and by informing on its elements.

As an overall picture, time has been an element in affecting negatively the forces of the occupying countries, due to the losses they sustain economically in human lives, which are increasing with time. However, here in Iraq, time is now beginning to be of service to the American forces and harmful to the resistance for the following reasons:

1. By allowing the American forces to form the forces of the National Guard, to reinforce them and enable them to undertake military operations against the resistance.

2. By undertaking massive arrest operations, invading regions that have an impact on the resistance, and hence causing the resistance to lose many of its elements.

3. By undertaking a media campaign against the resistance resulting in weakening its influence inside the country and presenting its work as harmful to the population rather than being beneficial to the population.

4. By tightening the resistance's financial outlets, restricting its moral options and by confiscating its ammunition and weapons.

5. By creating a big division among the ranks of the resistance and jeopardizing its attack operations, it has weakened its influence and internal support of its elements, thus resulting in a decline of the resistance's assaults.

6. By allowing an increase in the number of countries and elements supporting the occupation or at least allowing to become neutral in their stand toward us in contrast to their previous stand or refusal of the occupation.

7. By taking advantage of the resistance's mistakes and magnifying them in order to misinform.

Based on the above points, it became necessary that these matters should be treated one by one:

1. To improve the image of the resistance in society, increase the number of supporters who are refusing occupation and show the clash of interest between society and the occupation and its collaborators. To use the media for spreading an effective and creative image of the resistance.

2. To assist some of the people of the resistance to infiltrate the ranks of the National Guard in order to spy on them for the purpose of weakening the ranks of the National Guard when necessary, and to be able to use their modern weapons.

3. To reorganize for recruiting new elements for the resistance.

4. To establish centers and factories to produce and manufacture and improve on weapons and to produce new ones.

5. To unify the ranks of the resistance, to prevent controversies and prejudice and to adhere to piety and follow the leadership.

6. To create division and strife between American and other countries and among the elements disagreeing with it.

7. To avoid mistakes that will blemish the image of the resistance and show it as the enemy of the nation.

In general and despite the current bleak situation, we think that the best suggestions in order to get out of this crisis is to entangle the American forces into another war against another country or with another of our enemy force, that is to try and inflame the situation between American and Iraq or between America and the Shi'a in general.

Specifically the Sistani Shi'a, since most of the support that the Americans are getting is from the Sistani Shi'a, then, there is a possibility to instill differences between them and to weaken the support line between them; in addition to the losses we can inflict on both parties. Consequently, to embroil America in another war against another enemy is the answer that we find to be the most appropriate, and to have a war through a delegate has the following benefits:

1. To occupy the Americans by another front will allow the resistance freedom of movement and alleviate the pressure imposed on it.

2. To dissolve the cohesion between the Americans and the Shi'a will weaken and close this front.

3. To have a loss of trust between the Americans and the Shi'a will cause the Americans to lose many of their spies.

4. To involve both parties, the Americans and the Shi'a, in a war that will result in both parties being losers.

5. Thus, the Americans will be forced to ask the Sunni for help.

6. To take advantage of some of the Shia elements that will allow the resistance to move among them.

7. To weaken the media's side which is presenting a tarnished image of the resistance, mainly conveyed by the Shi'a.

8. To enlarge the geographical area of the resistance movement.

9. To provide popular support and cooperation by the people.

The resistance fighters have learned from the result and the great benefits they reaped, when a struggle ensued between the Americans and the Army of Al-Mahdi. However, we have to notice that this trouble or this delegated war that must be ignited can be accomplished through:

1. A war between the Shi'a and the Americans.

2. A war between the Shi'a and the secular population (such as Ayad 'Alawi and al-Jalabi.)

3. A war between the Shi'a and the Kurds.

4. A war between Ahmad al-Halabi and his people and Ayad 'Alawi and his people.

5. A war between the group of al-Hakim and the group of al-Sadr.

6. A war between the Shi'a of Iraq and the Sunni of the Arab countries in the gulf.

7. A war between the Americans and Iraq. We have noticed that the best of these wars to be ignited is the one between the Americans and Iran, because it will have many benefits in favor of the Sunni and the resistance, such as:

1. Freeing the Sunni people in Iraq, who are (30 percent) of the population and under the Shi'a Rule.

2. Drowning the Americans in another war that will engage many of their forces.

3. The possibility of acquiring new weapons from the Iranian side, either after the fall of Iran or during the battles.

4. To entice Iran towards helping the resistance because of its need for its help.

5. Weakening the Shi'a supply line.

The question remains, how to draw the Americans into fighting a war against Iran? It is not known whether American is serious in its animosity towards Iraq, because of the big support Iran is offering to America in its war in Afghanistan and in Iraq. Hence, it is necessary first to exaggerate the Iranian danger and to convince America and the west in general, of the real danger coming from Iran, and this would be done by the following:

1. By disseminating threatening messages against American interests and the American people and attribute them to a Shi'a Iranian side.

2. By executing operations of kidnapping hostages and implicating the Shi'a Iranian side.

3. By advertising that Iran has chemical and nuclear weapons and is threatening the west with these weapons.

4. By executing exploding operations in the west and accusing Iran by planting Iranian Shi'a fingerprints and evidence.

5. By declaring the existence of a relationship between Iran and terrorist groups (as termed by the Americans).

6. By disseminating bogus messages about confessions showing that Iran is in possession of weapons of mass destruction or that there are attempts by the Iranian intelligence to undertake terrorist operations in America and the west and against western interests.

Let us hope for success and for God's help.

Dream on, guys.

Posted by Tom at 9:28 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

June 14, 2006

Inconvenient Quotes IV: Pelosi Then, Pelosi Now

We've all come to accept the fact that most Democrats are completely inconsistent with regard to the war in Iraq; they were for it when it looked good for them polically, now they're against it when they see that it doesn't poll so well.

I've even gathered a few collections of "inconvenient quotes" from prominent Democrats swearing up and down before our March 2003 invasion that they believed that Saddam had stockpiles of WMD, see here, here, here and here.

Now it's time for a new installment. From House Majority Leader John Boehner's office (via NRO)

Pelosi on Iraq: Then vs. Now

June 14, 2006

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) has called Operation Iraqi Freedom a "war of choice" and a distraction from "the real war on terror." At a "Take Back America" rally yesterday, Pelosi elaborated on her rationale:

PELOSI NOW

"During the debate on the war, I was the senior Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee. I saw all the information, all the intelligence. And my statement was that I will not vote for this war because the intelligence does not support the threat being claimed by the administration."

But in fact, during the long debate on whether to authorize the use of military force against Iraq, Pelosi indicated that the intelligence she saw DID support the administration's claim of Saddam Hussein as a "gathering" threat:

PELOSI THEN

"As a member of the House Intelligence Committee, I am keenly aware that the proliferation of chemical and biological weapons is an issue of grave importance to all nations. 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."

During debate to Authorize the Use of United States Armed Forces Against Iraq, Pelosi said:

PELOSI THEN "Yes, he has chemical weapons, he has biological weapons, he is trying to get nuclear weapons." And she told Tim Russert on a November 17, 2002 appearance NBC's Meet the Press, "Saddam Hussein certainly has chemical and biological weapons. There's no question about that."

But flash forward to the "Take Back America" rally where Pelosi insisted:

PELOSI NOW

"[T]here was never anything in the intelligence that said Iraq posed an imminent threat to the United States, never."

So which is it? As the House prepares to debate the war in Iraq and the Global War on Terror, these brazen flip-flops only further underscore Capitol Hill Democrats' lack of seriousness in combating terrorism. When it comes to strengthening national security, the American people have a clear choice between Republicans who want to meet the challenge and Democrats who want to relent and retreat.

The Democrats, of course, claim that they were "misled"

But the reality is that they saw the same intelligence that the President did. Further, what does it say about them that they could be misled by someone that liberals think is as dumb as a stone? And they want us to put them in charge of negotiating with the Iranians?

I don't think so.

Posted by Tom at 9:40 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

June 13, 2006

The Pursuit of Justice Against Saudi Arabia

Long time readers of this blog may recall that over two years ago I first wrote about the case of the Europeans, mostly Britons, with one Canadian, who were unjustly arrested and imprisoned by the government of Saudi Arabia in 2001 on trumpted up charges of planting bombs in the capital city of Riyadh and other Saudi Arabian cities. They were tortured and eventually forced to "confess" on live TV. During their ordeal their loved ones pleaded with their governments do help, but to little avail.

The men had been working in Saudi Arabia for various firms when they were arrested.

While all were eventually released, they suffered various traumas and long-term physical ailments because of the torture and abuse that they endured.

The names of the men who were unjustly arrested and accused are James Cottle, Dr William Sampson(Canadian), Ron Jones, Sandy Mitchell, James Patrick Lee, Christopher Kottel, and Leslie Walker.

I became aware of all this through communication with Mary Martini, ex-wife of James Cottle.

You can read all of my posts on this case here.

Suing Saudi Arabia

Several of the men, including James Cottle and Ron Jones, have suits underway against the government of Saudi Arabia. Ron and Mary were kind enough to send me an update a few days ago.

Mary tells me that

Last year when Ron appealed in his landmark case (Ron leads because he started proceedings when the others were still locked up) they ruled he could sue the individuals, ie: the torturers not the heads of any state, then the saudis appealed against that and so this will be the result of the saudi appeal, this means things will proceed to London High Court if the saudis lose this, if they win we take it all to Starsburg and apply to use the European Court of Human Rights, that is something you cannot do in US.

The legal brief in the case of Ronald Grant JONES v The Ministry of the Interior Al-Mamlaka Al-Arabiya as Saudiya (The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia) & Anor. and Secretary of State for Constitutional Affairs can be found here.

Sandy Mitchell is also an appellant, one of those listed as suing the KSA.

Following are some excerpts from the legal brief. There are two claims, or allegations of torture in this case

1. The first claim (No. HQ020X01805) is made by Mr Ronald Grant Jones against "The Ministry of the Interior Al-Mamlaka Al-Arabiya as Saudiya (The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia)" as first defendant and against Lieutenant Colonel Abdul Aziz, described as "a servant or agent" of The Kingdom, as second defendant. It is common ground that the first defendant is a department of and to be equated with The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (which I will call "The Kingdom"). The claim against both defendants is for "damages including aggravated and exemplary damages for assault and battery, trespass to the person, torture and unlawful imprisonment". But its central element for present purposes consists in allegations of systematic torture during a period of 67 days? imprisonment in solitary confinement between 16th March to 21st May 2001. This is said to have occurred after the claimant, Mr Jones, was mildly injured in a bomb blast outside a Riyadh book store on 15th March 2001 and hospitalised for a day. Mr Jones alleges that, following his release and return to England, he has suffered damage in England, in the form of post traumatic stress disorder and depression necessitating treatment, and is unable to work.

2. The second claim (No. HQ04X00431) is made by three claimants, Sandy Mitchell and Leslie Walker (both Britons) and William Sampson (a Canadian citizen), against four Saudi Arabian individuals, Ibrahim Al-Dali and Khalid Al-Saleh, Colonel Mohamed al Said and Prince Naif. The claim is expressed to be for assault and also (in the case of the third and fourth named defendants) negligence.
...

3. All three claimants in this claim allege that they were the victims of broadly similar patterns of systematic torture in prison. They allege that the torture was inflicted by the first and second defendants to elicit confessions which were eventually made, but which were, it is said, entirely false (though they led, it appears, at one point to sentences of death being passed on Messrs. Mitchell and Sampson).
...

All three claimants allege that, following their release and return to England, they have suffered ongoing psychological damage in England as a result of being tortured

9. The appeals now before us in relation to these two claims raise two central points. First, is The Kingdom entitled to immunity in respect of Mr Jones�s claim, which it accepts has been served on it? Second, is The Kingdom entitled to claim immunity on behalf of its officials in respect of the claims made against those officials in both Mr Jones�s and Messrs Mitchell�s, Sampson�s and Walker�s claims?

There is much else in the brief but this provides the essential facts and issues of the case.

I wish Mr Jones and other others well in their lawsuit, and will provide updates as I receive them.

Wednesday Evening Update

Ron Jones has let me know that they lost their case in the House of Lords, who overturned the decision of the court of appeal. This means that they will have to take their case to the European Court of Human Rights.

Posted by Tom at 8:28 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Following in the Footsteps of Rome?

Western Civilization has woken up to the danger of Islamic terrorists coming to our shores to carry out their nefarious deeds. Obviously we do not catch every one, but we are are at least aware of t he idea that Muslims with evil intentions want to try and make their way into our countries do do us harm.

Most of us are even aware of the fact that many Muslim immigrants are radicallized after they have been in our countries for a time. Most of the 9-11 hijackers, and the recently arrested terrorist suspects in Canada, were turned into terrorists while in the west. The reason is simple, yet seemingly impossible for the left to understand; they are offended by our societies.

The question of assimilation is, or should be, forefront on our minds. We in the United States are having enough trouble absorbing large numbers of Hispanic immigrants. Hispanics, however, at least come from a Western tradition, the societies that they come from have been shaped by the Renaissance, Reformation, and Enlightenment. Muslims have gone though none of this. Whether a significant number of them will accept our norms is an open question.

I suppose I should add the usual qualifier that yes I understand that there are individual differences among peoples, and no I am not lumping all Hispanics or Muslims together. The point, however, is that all it takes is a violent radical minority to cow a larger population into silence or acquiescence.

The danger that large numbers of Muslim immigrants may pose was compared recently by British Rear Admiral Chris Parry to the way the barbarians destroyed Rome; not so much by military conquest as by mass migration. In an article in The Sunday Times of London, Admiral Parry warned that

Europe, including Britain, could be undermined by large immigrant groups with little allegiance to their host countries — a "reverse colonisation" as Parry described it. These groups would stay connected to their homelands by the internet and cheap flights. The idea of assimilation was becoming redundant, he said.

Following are additional excerpts from the article

If a security breakdown occurred, he said, it was likely to be brought on by environmental destruction and a population boom, coupled with technology and radical Islam. The result for Britain and Europe, Parry warned, could be "like the 5th century Roman empire facing the Goths and the Vandals".

Parry pointed to the mass migration which disaster in the Third World could unleash. "The diaspora issue is one of my biggest current concerns," he said. "Globalisation makes assimilation seem redundant and old-fashioned . . . [the process] acts as a sort of reverse colonisation, where groups of people are self-contained, going back and forth between their countries, exploiting sophisticated networks and using instant communication on phones and the internet."

Third World instability would lick at the edges of the West as pirates attacked holidaymakers from fast boats. "At some time in the next 10 years it may not be safe to sail a yacht between Gibraltar and Malta," said the admiral.
...

Parry predicts that as flood or starvation strikes, the most dangerous zones will be Africa, particularly the northern half; most of the Middle East and central Asia as far as northern China; a strip from Nepal to Indonesia; and perhaps eastern China.

He pinpoints 2012 to 2018 as the time when the current global power structure is likely to crumble. Rising nations such as China, India, Brazil and Iran will challenge America’s sole superpower status.

This will come as "irregular activity" such as terrorism, organised crime and "white companies" of mercenaries burgeon in lawless areas.

Not a pretty picture, but hardly an implausible one.

Posted by Tom at 8:32 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

June 10, 2006

Brave New World, Here We Come

While our troops are trying their best to win the War on Terror abroad, some on the West seem determined to wreck our societies beyond all recognition.

Sherlock Holmes once commented to his companion Dr Watson that while rural areas seem tranquil and uneventful to the observer, great crimes and horrors were committed in isolated homes. Crime went unreported because of the isolation of such residences.

Switzerland is one of those idyllic little countries in Europe that everyone would like to visit. Tranquil and beautiful, it offers the tourist a respite from the busyness of everday life. Who could think ill of such a country, or imagine that anything bad happens there?

But as Holmes pointed out, horrors can occur under our very noses without our being aware of them. The residents of an apartment complex in Zurich have been living with a "house of horrors" in their very midst

Residents who share an apartment building with Dignitys, an assisted-suicide charity, have begun a campaign to evict the organization from the building.

In the eight years that Dignitys has been in the building, more than 450 people have killed themselves with barbiturates in the fourth-floor apartment owned by the Swiss charity. The bodies are put into a zipper bag and transported in the three-person elevator or carried downstairs.

Traumatized by the experience of passing living people going up in the elevator only to come across them hours later descending in a body bag, some residents want to move out of the block.

Unbeknownst, I think, to most people, Switzerland "has gained a reputation for "death tourism"." The residents in the apartment who seek to evict Dignitys do not necessarily object to assisted suicide as such, but just don't want it going on near them. As Miss Sonny, the person leading the effort so evict Dignitys says, "Some people admire the charity but are horrified that they use communal areas." Out of sight, out of mind.

I guess none of this should be surprising. After all, abortion is legal in most Western countries. Once we got used to killing our babies, it was a small step to killing the living, as long as we could be assured that they were terminally ill. Or at least upset with their lives. Or whatever, as long as we could assure ourselves that we were protecting "choice."

You Speciesist!

Not to be outdone in their attempt to destroy our society, the socialists in Spain have introduced a measure in their parliament which will give human rights to apes. Really.

Spain could soon become the first country in the world to give chimpanzees, gorillas, orangutans and other great apes some of the fundamental rights granted to human beings under a law being proposed by members of the ruling Socialist coalition.

The law would eliminate the concept of "ownership" for great apes, instead placing them under the "moral guardianship" of the state, much as is the case for children in care, the severely handicapped and those in comas, said the MP behind the project, Francisco Garrido

Garrido and his fellow socialists get their inspiration from the Great Ape Project, a Seattle-based organization who's mission statement declares that

We demand the extension of the community of equals to include all great apes: human beings, chimpanzees, bonobos, gorillas and orang-utans.

The community of equals is the moral community within which we accept certain basic moral principles or rights as governing our relations with each other and enforceable at law.

Among the "principles or rights" that they demand be extended to the great apes are "the right to life", the "protection of individual liberty", and "the prohibition of torture".

All this is part of the "animal rights" movement.
According to Wikipedia, he infamous Peter Singer, in his 1975 book Animal Liberation,

Argues against what he calls speciesism: discrimination on the grounds that a being belongs to a certain species. He holds the interests of all beings capable of suffering to be worthy of equal consideration, and that giving lesser consideration to beings based on their having wings or fur is no more justified than discrimination based on skin color. In particular, he argues that while animals show lower intelligence than the average human, many severely retarded humans show equally diminished mental capacity, and intelligence therefore does not provide a basis for providing nonhuman animals any less consideration than such retarded humans. He concludes that the use of animals for food is unjustifiable because it creates unnecessary suffering, and considers veganism the most fully justifiable diet.

Once we have degraded our unborn and aged to the point where they can be killed, it is but a small step toward seeing animals as our constutional equals. Today it is the great apes and chimpanzees, tomorrow the rest of the animal kingdom. Don't you doubt it.

The Family No More

Not satisfied with killing our unborn and ill and with reducing humanity to but one more species among many, the family is now under attack like never before. The prospect of "gay marriage" looms large on the horizon. It's all done, of course, under the banner of "equality". Don't think that you can object on the basis of your religion, either,

New Government proposals on equality could require clergy to bless homosexual "weddings" or face prosecution, the Church of England said yesterday.

It said the proposed regulations could undermine official teaching and require Christians to act against their religious convictions.
...

Unless exemptions were strengthened, Christian centres that disapproved of homosexual behaviour could be forced to hire out rooms to gay groups and Christian charities could have their public funding cut if they did not agree to the regulations.

Liberals in the US Senate recently defeated a proposed constitutional measure that would have preserved traditional marriage. The text of the proposed amendment

Marriage in the United States shall consist solely of the union of a man and a woman. Neither this Constitution, nor the constitution of any State, shall be construed to require that marriage or the legal incidents thereof be conferred upon any union other than the union of a man and a woman.

The reason, of course, for an amendment is that we have activist judges in this country who have decided that they want to play legislator. They know no boundaries in their rulings, and will pronounce on just about anything. They relieve Democrats from having to push controversial issues in legislators, where they can be publicly debated. Democrats are caught between two constitutencies; blacks, hispanics, and labor-union types who oppose gay marriage, and gay groups, who want it. They way out is to let the courts do their dirty work for them. That way they can say to the former "don't blame us!", while "wink wink" to the latter.

The claim by opponents of the amendment that the issue ought to be left to the states is therefore disingenuous. As if state legislatures will be deciding the matter. We all know that liberal activist judges will impose it on us sooner or later if we do nothing to stop it.

Matthew Spalding, in a paper on The Heritage Foundation's website, points out what is at stake

The basic building block of society is the family, which is the primary institution through which children are raised, nurtured, and educated, and develop into adults. Marriage is the cornerstone of the family: It produces children, provides them with mothers and fathers, and is the framework through which relationships among mothers, fathers, and children are established and maintained. Only in the context of family built on the foundation of marriage can the sometimes competing needs and interests of men, women, and children be harmonized.

People who think that allowing gays to marry will not have ramifications throughout our society are kidding themselves.

Brave New World, here we come.

Posted by Tom at 11:43 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

June 8, 2006

al-Zarqawi Dead!

News outlets are reporting that the must wanted terrorist in Iraq, Abu Musabal-Zarqawi, leader of al-Qaeda in Iraq, has been killled. From an AP story posted on MSNBC

Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, al-Qaida’s leader in Iraq who led a bloody campaign of suicide bombings and kidnappings, has been killed in an air strike, U.S. and Iraqi officials said Thursday, adding that his identity was confirmed by fingerprints and a look at his face. It was a major victory in the U.S.-led war in Iraq and the broader war on terror.

Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki said al-Zarqawi was killed along with seven aides Wednesday evening in a remote area 30 miles northeast of Baghdad in the volatile province of Diyala, just east of the provincial capital of Baqouba, al-Maliki said.

Loud applause broke out among the reporters and soldiers as al-Maliki, flanked by U.S. Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad and U.S. Gen. George Casey, the top U.S. commander in Iraq, told a news conference that “al-Zarqawi was eliminated.”

That's what I call good news to wake up to.

What I found most interesting was that we discovered his whereabouts through tips provided by Iraqi citizens

Al-Maliki said the airstrike was the result of intelligence reports provided to Iraqi security forces by residents in the area, and U.S. forces acted on the information. Casey said the hunt for al-Zarqawi began two weeks ago, and his body was identified by fingerprints and facial recognition.

CNN adds that jihadist websites have confirmed his death

A Web site used by Al Qaeda in Iraq confirmed al-Zarqawi's death and urged its followers to continue the insurgent fight.

Another Web site used by the group issued a statement: "People of Islam, God will not let our enemies celebrate and spread corruption in the ground. Expect the right that was stolen to come back to us and destroy the Crusaders" -- an apparent reference to U.S. troops in Iraq.

Here's a quick roundup from the sources I think provide the best analysis

Iraq the Model has some additional information (hat tip Belmont Club)

Bill Roggio, writing on The Counterterrism Blog, attributes his death to Task Force 145

Task Force 145 was very likely the linchpin in the success in killing Zarqawi, Sheik Abd-Al-Rahman, his spiritual adviser, and seven other lieutenants during a high-level meeting. Over the past two months, TF-145 has conducted numerous raids and killed or captured numerous high-level members of Zarqawi's organization in the area directly north and west of Baghdad. ...

The tightening of al-Qaeda's network in and around Baghdad provided Task Force 145 an opportunity to focus on Zarqawi's organization. Task Force 145 systematically began to dismantle al-Qaeda's organization from the bottom up. Cell leaders, financiers, facilitators and military commanders were rolled up in a series of target raids, slowly degrading al-Qaeda's capabilities while opening a window to al-Qaeda's organization and operations. The raids provided intelligence for follow-up strikes, which ultimately led to the attack of Zarqawi's safe house.

I don't need to tell you to read the whole thing.

We get these details of who makes up Task Force 145 from StrategyPage

Currently, TF 145 is divided into four sub units. Task Force West has several dozen commandoes from the U.S. Navy SEAL DevGroup, and a company of U.S. Army Rangers. Task Force Central has several dozen men from U.S. Army Delta Force and a company of Rangers. Task Force North has a about a dozen men from Delta Force, and a company of Rangers. Task Force Black has a few dozen SAS commandoes, with a company of British "Rangers" (the new Special Forces Support Group). TF 145 has a small headquarters element, plus a large intelligence operation, most of which is back in the United States, and connected in real time via satellite. There are also SOCOM helicopters and aircraft present.

Today marks a great victory in the War on Terror, or the War on Islamic Radicalism, if you prefer. No it does not mean that the insurgency is over, or even that final victory in Iraq is assured. No doubt the naysayers, anti-war left, and other assorted cynics will sniff that it "doesn't change anything" or "about time" or whatever. We need not listen to them. This is not a war that will not be one World War II style, as we learned shortly after marching into Baghdad in April of 2003. Defeating an insurgency is more like eating soup with a knife; it's messy and takes a long time, but if you persever you can achieve victory.

Posted by Tom at 7:49 AM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

June 7, 2006

Barry McCaffrey on Afghanistan

Last month I reported on Gen Barry McCaffrey's(ret) visit to and report on Iraq. It was a very positive, with a few caveats.

Accoding to this post on the National Review blog, he just got back from Afghanistan, and once again give an upbeat assessment. I cannot find this anywhere else on the Internet, so if any readers have McCaffrey's actual report, or a news report on it, please put the link in a comment if you would.

According to Rich Lowry, here are McCaffrey's main observations from his trip:

• Afghanistan has in the short space of five years moved from a situation of mindless violence, cruelty, poverty, massive production of drugs, the absence of government, and isolation - to a nation with a struggling democratic government; an exploding economy; a rapidly growing, disciplined Army; a vibrant free press, and active diplomatic and economic ties with its neighbors and the world. The 30 million people have showed almost unbelievable gratitude for the actions of the international community and have welcomed a significant foreign presence with great hospitality and trust.

• Opium production has been dramatically slashed by 48% just in the past year. In less than three years, 4.4 million refugees have flooded back into the nation. 95% of the refugee camps in Pakistan have been closed. A Constitution has been adopted.

•A President has been elected who is a Statesman of enormous integrity, vision, and courage. A Parliament has been elected with representation from every walk of political life - and a greater percentage of women than any other democracy in the world. The road network and transportation infrastructure have gone from absolutely nonfunctional to a rapidly growing network that is beginning re-vitalize the economy and trade with its neighbors.

• Massive amounts of international and private foreign aid are pouring into the country. The totally destroyed educational system is beginning to function. The agricultural and livestock system has grown enormously. The irrigation system destroyed by the Soviets is coming back.

•The security situation is so dramatically changed for the better that no platoon-sized unit has ever been defeated in battle. U.S. Forces routinely operate in squad sized units.

• As one US Army Aviation Brigade Commander told me - “I have been flying over this country for three combat tours since 2001- the change for the better is almost unbelievable - I can see it with my own eyes from 500 feet.”

As with Iraq, a positive assessment from someone with the background to know. Another post on NRO does caution that we should "take his figures(on opium) with a grain of salt". Maybe so, but even so that does not change his conclusion that we are succeeding.

If I can find his actual report I'll post the link and excerpts.

Meanwhile, StrategyPage offers a similarly positive view


There are now about 23,000 U.S. troops in Afghanistan, an increase of about 3,000 from last Fall. So far this year, 13 have died in combat (plus twelve from other causes). More NATO troops continue to enter southern Afghanistan, where the Taliban are trying to carry out a Spring Offensive. But the police and foreign troops have kept the Taliban on the defensive. Meanwhile, increased coordination with Pakistani troops just across the border has resulted in more Taliban raiding parties, based in Pakistan, getting hit on both sides of the border.

Some will counter with the observation that "warlords"(a media-invented term) still run parts of the country, and will ask why the Taliban are active at all. StrategyPage points out that

As it has always been, the reach of the government is weak in most of the rural areas. This is what makes it possible for the Taliban to still operate. Afghanistan has always been a place where the tribes, clans and villages were pretty much little worlds all to themselves. Outsiders, especially armed ones, are not welcome. If the government comes in with goodies or other help, that is accepted appreciatively. But most of Afghanistan doesn't know from central government, and never has.

Read the whole thing.

Posted by Tom at 8:40 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

June 6, 2006

Exercise Tiger: the Disaster Before D-Day

You're familiar with Operation Overlord, the official name of what has become known as D-Day.

If not, and even if you are, Blackfive has an excellent tribute that is well worth reading.

The Donovan has a great photo essay you ought to check out while you're at it.

Total Allied casualties that day were around 10,000, which includes approximately 2500 dead (there is no official casualty figure for D-Day alone). During the Battle of Normandy, which lasted another month or so, the Allies suffered 209,000 including nearly 37,000 dead for ground forces and a further 16,714 deaths for Allied air forces. The battle cost Germany 200,000 casualties and another 200,000 taken prisoner.

Not to be forgotten, between 15,000 and 20,000 French civilians were killed, mostly due to Allied air bombing.

Exercise Tiger

Obviously, you don't just send 165,000 men ashore and subject them to withering fire from a highly trained and disciplined enemy without practicing doing it a few times. We spend the months before June 6 doing just that.

Just as obviously, whenever you've got hundreds of thousands of men doing anything that involves water, ships, airplanes and landing craft, there will be training accidents. I don't have the figures, but I'm sure there were many losses.

By the spring of 1944 everyone knew that we were going to land somewhere in northern France. It was only a question of when and where.

The Germans, not being stupid, knew that we had large numbers of men in Britain and were practicing landing on British beaches. And they knew that these training exercises would involve large numbers of slow, unarmored, unprotected, transport ships and assorted landing craft. In other words, big fat targets.

The Germans saw an opportunity to strike, and they took it.

Exercise Tiger, which would take place April 27 1944, involved 23,000 US soldiers, and was one of the largest such practices to date. The American forces involved would be the ones who would land on Utah beach 3 months later.

We get the story from the Exercise Tiger website

At 0135 on the morning of April 28th, 1944, eight Tank Landing Ships (LST's) and thier lone escort, the British corvette HMS AZALEA, were en route to the landing area. Slapton Sands was selected because its beach looked every bit like the beaches at Normandy that would be code named Utah and Omaha by the allies.

The eight LST's of LST Group 32, formed convoy T-4. they were the support group for elements of the 4th & 29th Infantry, 82nd Airborne and 188th Field Artillery Group already ashore at Slapton Sands.

The LST's were carrying the 1st Engineer Special Brigade, the 3206th Quartermaster Company from Missouri, the 3207th Company and 462nd and 478th combat truck support companies as well as other elements of the US Army's engineer, signal, medical and chemical corps along with some infantry.

Miles south in the mouth of Lyme bay, lay the bulk of the Tiger naval force. Protected by the cruiser USS AGUSTA and the new British "O" class destroyers HMS ONSLOW and HMS OBEDIENT as well as the Tribal Class destroyer HMS ASHANTI and a covering force of motor torpedo boats. Anchored along with LST's 55 and 382 they would be of no help to the ambushed LST force of T-4.

Attacking in the pitch black night, 9 German Navy "E" boats (torpedo) struck quickly and decisively. Without warning LST 507 was torpedoed first. Explosions and flame lit the night. At 0217 LST 531 is torpedoed. It sinks in six minutes. Of the 496 soldiers and sailors on her, 424 of them died. It would be on this ship that the state of Missouri would lose some 201 of its boys of the 3206th.

LST 289 tried to evade the fast German "E" boats but was hit in the stern. LST's 496, 515, and 511 all began firing at their attackers, LST 289 joined in returning fire while lowering landing craft to pull it out of harms way.

At 0225 the LST 499 radioed for help.Minutes later the lead ship ,LST 515 sent out an urgent and chilling message. " 'E' boat attack". Radio stations along the coast pick up the dramatic calls for help. Unaware of the top secret operation underway, the calls go unanswered. Only after an alert radio operator heard the words "T-4", did the Naval Command realize the calls were from "Tiger" and send help.

By 0240 the horror was slowly realized. Two LST's sunk, a third lay crippled. Of the 4000 man force nearly a fourth were missing or killed . Official Dept. of Defense records confirm 749 dead , 551 US Army and 198 US Navy. The death toll makes "Tiger" the costliest battle to U.S. forces at that point in the war after Pearl Harbor.

749 dead Americans.

In a training exercise.

Kept Secret

The extent of the disaster was kept a secret for at the time. Supreme Allied Commander Dwight D. Eisenhower issued the order for secrecy, fearing that a full release would demoralize his forces, not to mention the public.

I think we all know how some among us would react if such a thing occured today. First they'd demand the president's head for keeping it secret, and then they'd insist that we call off the invasion. Finally, calls for a negotiated peace would reach a crescendo.

But that was then, and this is now. They won their war, and we've still to win ours. We should take inspiration from the bravery and fortitude of that greatest generation.

Posted by Tom at 8:42 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Winning the War on Terror

Jim Geraghty says that "the mainstream media has lost interest in the war on terror". Glenn Reynolds comments "that must mean that we're winning."

Geraghty

al-Qaeda has failed, for four years and counting, to pull off anything approaching the death toll of 9/11. I’m looking through recent attacks - Bali killed 202; the Moscow theater attack killed 120 (er, a significant number of those were from the Russian authorities’ knockout gas); the Beslan school attack left 330 dead. The Istanbul bombings killed 57, but wounded 700. The Madrid attacks killed 191 people and injured more than 1,500. The London attacks killed 56 people and injured more than 700. The Amman suicide bombings left at least 60 dead and 120 wounded. The goal is to disrupt, intercept, and stop all terrorist attacks, of course. But a world in which al-Qaeda’s efforts kill dozens per attack, and we witness one or two major attacks per year, is exponentially better than one in which they kill thousands in each attack and can organize and execute many attacks.

We know how this is spun by the left; if there are no terrorist attacks, then BushCo exaggerated the threat from the start so as to scare the American people into voting for him again and enriching Halliburton et al, but if there had been another 9-11 style attack then Bush is incompetent and isn't doing enough to protect us.

The reality is that al-Qaeda would have if they could have executed large-scale attacks on the US. The reason none of these have come to fruition is that we've been busy frustrating their efforts. Unlike traditional wars, however, this one is mostly conducted behind-the-scenes. For an excellent book which describes some of these operations, see Richard Miniter's Shadow War: The Untold Story of How Bush is Winning the War on Terror

Geraghty uses the recent arrests of 17 terrorist subjects in Canada to bolster his case that al-Qaeda "is a nearly impotent operation, a shadow of its former self." The lessons he takes from the arrests are

* The view that al-Qaeda and its like-minded adherents are not motivated by any political cause that a Westerner could understand - gripes about Israel, or "economic exploitation", or foreign troops on Saudi soil, or Iraq. They just want to kill people who are different from them.

* It reinforces the worldview that a lenient asylum program for foreigners is a massive security risk. That minorities need to be assimilated into the society as a whole.

* The list of names reaffirms the argument that the threat of Islamist terrorism comes primarily from one group of people.

* The use of electronic and e-mail monitoring by Canadian authorities reinforces the argument that extensive electronic eavesdropping programs are necessary to intercept threats.

The suspects in Canada are, I believe, said to be "inspired" by al-Qaeda, but not directly affiliated with them. This is important because it shows that 1) al-Qaeda is not as strong as it once was, but that 2) the globalist jihad movement is alive and well.

As Geraghty points out,

The names of the suspects that have been released: Fahim Ahmad, Zakaria Amara, Asad Ansari, Shareef Abdelhaleen, Qayyum Abdul Jamal, Mohammed Dirie, Yasim Abdi Mohamed, Amin Mohamed Durrani, Steven Vikash Chand alias Abdul Shakur, Ahmad Mustafa Ghany and Saad Khalid.

The people on that list all have something in common, and it isn't that they're all stamp collectors. Many in the press, however, couldn't bring themselves to point this out.

When the press insists upon saying that the suspects represent a “broad strata” when 4 out of the 11 of the released names have “abdul/abdel/abdi” in them, 2 Ahmads, 2 Saads, and 3 Mohammeds, it sends one of two messages to readers. The first is “we think you’re stupid and can’t figure out the common thread these suspects have in common”; the second is that “we in the media are stupid and can’t figure out the common thread these suspects have in common."

Well, it's not that they think we're stupid, it's that they're so caught up in the ideology of political correctness that they can't bring themselves to point out the obvious. Heaven forbid that CAIR should object.

Another point to be taken from the arrest of the suspects in Canada is the disparate nature of these jihadist terrorist cells. They're not all going to be directly tied to al-Qaeda, but will rather be inspired by it to take action on their own. A recent Washington Post story profiled one Mustafa Setmariam Nasar, a "Spanish-Syrian citizen tied to al-Qaeda", who is described as being the "Architect of New War on the West", and that his "Writings Lay Out Post-9/11 Strategy of Isolated Cells Joined in Jihad". Read the whole thing.

So we're not winning the War on Terror yet, we're certainly winning the war against al-Qaeda. Yes it is unfortunate that we haven't captured Osama bin Laden yet, but no that war in Iraq isn't what has prevented us from doing so. This does not mean, however, that the danger is past.

Posted by Tom at 8:30 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

June 5, 2006

Paul Ray Smith and the Shame of Hollywood

Does the name "Paul Smith" ring any bells with you?

How about "Sergeant First Class Paul Ray Smith"?

He should be a household name, but of course isn't.

The shame is on Hollywood and our mass media.

If you want to know why, go here.

If you didn't already, now you know that Sergeant First Class Paul Ray Smith was awarded the Medal of Honor for valor in Iraq.

They don't hand out Congressional Medals of Honor to anyone. As the US Army website explains, "Medals of Honor are awarded sparingly and are bestowed only to the bravest of the brave; and that valor must be well documented." Since Vietnam, only two have been awarded, those to Army Master Sgt. Gary I. Gordon and Army Sgt. 1st Class Randall D. Shughart for valor in Somalia in 1993. Most, like those to Sgt's Gordon and Shughard, are awarded posthumously.

Sgt Paul Smith is no exception; he gave his life in defense of his country while fighting in Iraq. He rests at Arlington National Cemetary.

Go and read the citation for his actions.

And make sure you view the interactive feature which details his valor.

Of course, Sgt Smith isn't the only one who has received honors for valor in the War on Terror. The Centcom website has entire section devoted to all of them. There are other websites as well dedicated to telling their stories.

And in a larger sense every single one of our troops fighting the War on Terror, whether in Afghanistan, Iraq, the Horn of Africa or elsewher is a hero.

The Shame of Hollywood

There should have been at least a few movies about Sgt Paul Smith by now. A few of those "made for TV" insta-movies should have come out in late 2003. And a full-length feature movie could have been in the theaters by 2004 or 2005 at the latest.

But unless I am severly mistaken, Hollywood has produced nothing about Sgt Smith.

Yet they claim that they "support the troops".

I don't think so.

Posted by Tom at 8:32 AM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

The Question of War with Iran

With the Bush Administration's recent offer to negotiate directly with Iran, the question of military force is once again in the news. And once again some people do not seem to understand the issues at stake.

From today's Washington Times

Sen. Joseph R. Biden Jr. of Delaware, the top Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, called the U.S. diplomatic offer to Iran "a very positive step."

Asked what would happen if Iran rejects the offer, Mr. Biden, said, "I think at a minimum, it will keep the world united and move toward a Security Council resolution that maybe holds everybody together and adds additional sanctions from other countries. That may have an impact."

Mr. Biden said he thinks war with Iran would be a mistake. "The one way to unite the 71 million Iranians with a government they do not like would be to attack them."

What is the problem here?

As I wrote in The Big Question with Regard to Iran, " Is it acceptable for us to allow Iran to acquire nuclear weapons?" It's not an idle question, because as Senator Biden indicates, "all hell is going to break lose in the world, and especially in the Middle East, if we have to bomb Iran".

The answer to the question depends on what you think the Iranian regime will do when or if they acquire nuclear weapons. If, like me, you think they'll use them to wipe Israel off the face of the earth, then the answer to the question is an emphatic "no".

No serious person is saying that we should attack Iran now. By the same token, no serious person should say that we should take the military option off the table.

Senator Biden is generally a serious person on foreign affairs, and is a Democrat worth listening to. His press release on our overture to Iran is worh reading. He's no wild-eyed peacenik, and does not have a habit of making completely irresponsible statements such as those we hear regularly from the likes of Rep John Murtha.

So what is Senator Biden saying? We do not have his full remarks, so it's hard to say. If he is saying that we should not ever attack Iran because it would "unite the 71 million Iranians with a government they do not like", then my question to him would be:

"If Iran secretly acquires nuclear weapons, and uses them to attack Israel, will you still be happy that we hadn't attacked Iran and united those 71 million people?"

Because that's what it comes down to. There are a hundred reasons why we shouldn't attack Iran now. But if we cannot stop Iran diplomatically, there will come a point where we cannot be sure if Iran does or does not have nuclear weapons. In other words, we know they do not have them today, but as time goes on our level of certainty will decrease. There will come a point, like that with North Korea, where we simply will not be sure.

Further, we should remember that the history of our predictions as to when a nation is on the brink of acquiring nuclear weapons is not a good one. We were taken by surprise when the Soviet Union tested their first weapon in 1949, China in 1965, India in 1976, and probably Pakistan in 1998.

To simply say "we should not attack Iran" is too vague to be useful. To take the military option off the table entirely would be to give Iran the green light to develop nuclear weapons. We should not use it now, but should hold it in reserve for that time when our level of uncertainty rises to an unacceptable level. Because all of the objections to attacking Iran will be nothing in the face of 7 million dead Israelies.

Posted by Tom at 7:34 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

June 2, 2006

The Holy Grail of Haditha

Finally, they think they've found it. The anti-war left has hoped and prayed for this moment for a long time.

At first they thought they'd found it when we failed to find WMD in Iraq. Surely, they thought, the American people would turn against their president, apologize to the world, and bring our troops home.

Two years ago they thought that they'd found it in Abu Ghraib. But, despite the best efforts of much of the msm, it was not to be.

But now they're convinced that the Holy Grail is within their grasp, and they are determined not to be denied. Finally, we've got something that we can use to bring down President Bush and get the troops out of Iraq!

Calling All Civil Libertarians

The investigation into the the Haditha incident is ongoing. All of the facts are not known. Nothing against the press (here, anyway), but initial reports are notoriously unreliable.

Yet this has not kept many, like the editors of The Nation magazine, a "mainstream" left-liberal publication, not only from pronouncing the Marines guilty, but claiming that " the Marines institutionally covered up Haditha."

The Nation wants us to believe that the Marine Corps was going to sweep the whole thing under the rug "until Time magazine raised questions with the Corps suggests that the moral damage from the Iraq War is broader than a single debased unit. "

Please.

There are at least two problems here. One, this idea that we must immediately make all of our - even potentially - dirty laundry as public as possible as soon as possible. Now, if I though that liberals were making the honest argument that our government should be transparent, I would have no problem. But as so often with the left, the transparency argument is really just a smokescreen.

The left is embarassed by our nation and our history. They want us to engage in constant acts of self-flagellation. Further, they want to exploit this to further their political goals of getting us out of Iraq regardless of consequences. And the worse our country and our military look the better.

We Support the Troops, But

"Oh but we support the troops! We just oppose the war."

Uh huh. Their reaction to Haditha puts the lie to that line. It's more like this

We support the troops, but we say they work, bleed, and die for nothing (or for Big-Oil).

We support the troops, but they terrorize women and children in the dark of the night.

We support the troops, but we only rally around a mother who attacks the troops and the mission (Mother Syndy).

We support the troops, but an anti-war based, misquoting-troops filled, film producer gets a prominent seat at out convention.

We support the troops, but we jump to judgment when a prison scandal is on the horizon.

We support the troops, but we accept a false Newsweek story (Koran flushing…).

We support the troops, but we do not wait for a military trial to determine the facts surrounding the killings of 24 innocent Iraqis.

We support the troops, but we smear all of them for the actions of merely a dozen people (in the prison scandal).

Where are our great supporters of the troops when you really need them?

They're out claiming that this is "endemic" to the troops.

Where are our great civil libertarians when you actually need them for something?

They're out looking for Christmas creches on public property.

The New My Lai

Jed Babbin , writing at at RealClearPolitics, nails it

The accelerating media feeding frenzy over the alleged killings of twenty-four Iraqi civilians in Haditha by US Marines last November is about to overwhelm American politics. Propelled by their most irresponsible war critics, the left will try use Haditha as it used My Lai thirty years ago: as a political tool to take apart America's support for the war and to shatter the legitimacy of our cause and the morale of our troops.
...

No matter how quickly military investigators work, and no matter how firmly any crimes are punished, the anti-war left won't be satisfied unless Haditha becomes the lever that pushes President Bush to admit the war was wrong and set a time to withdraw from Iraq.
...

The left will use every tool at their disposal to ensure that the Haditha incident becomes synonymous with the entire Iraq war. Abu Ghraib proved a propaganda bonanza for the terrorists and nations such as Iran, Syria and Saudi Arabia that want us to withdraw from Iraq in defeat. Haditha - regardless of what the facts may turn out to be - will be used ceaselessly and purposefully to eliminate American support for the Iraq war and to demonize anyone who still supports it.
...

Be sure to read the whole thing.

An Iraq Syndrome?

Daniel Henninger, in an OpinionJournal piece, points out that this may be the beginning of an "Iraq Syndrome", and that while this may be welcomed by the left, it is something that should worry serious people.

The Vietnam Syndrome, a loss of confidence in the efficacy of American military engagement, was mainly a failure of U.S. elites. But it's different this time. This presidency has been steadfast in war. No matter. In a piece this week on the White House's efforts to rally the nation to the idea of defeating terrorism abroad to thwart another attack on the U.S., the AP's Nedra Pickler wrote: "But that hasn't kept the violence and unrest out of the headlines every day." This time the despondency looks to be penetrating the general population. And the issue isn't just body counts; it's more than that.

The missions in Iraq and Afghanistan grew from the moral outrage of September 11. U.S. troops, the best this country has yet produced, went overseas to defend us against repeating that day. Now it isn't just that the war on terror has proven hard; the men and women fighting for us, the magnificent 99%, are being soiled in a repetitive, public way that is unbearable.

The greatest danger at this moment is that the American public will decide it wants to pull back because it has concluded that when the U.S. goes in, it always gets hung out to dry.



In other words, we might lack the willpower to stick it out. Strategy, technology, politics, propaganda, they all have their role, and we have to get all of them right. Not to pat myself on the back, but it's true that in the days after 9-11, once the shock had worn off, I realized that the core of this war was WILLPOWER. We were in for the long slog and it wasn't going to end in Afghanistan.

I'm thinking now that my piece on Lt. Col. John Nagl's book, Counterinsurgency Lessons from Malaya and Vietnam: Learning to Eat Soup with a Knife, which I called Eating Soup with a Knife and the Question of Time , was more prescient than I realized.

It's all so depressing.

Not to worry about me, though, because I'll keep up my visits to the troops at Walter Reed, and my letter-writing campaign will continue unabaited.

And God help the person who slanders our troops within earshot of me.

Posted by Tom at 9:22 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

June 1, 2006

Stories from Walter Reed

For security reasons this post was not published until October of 2012. At the time we were concerned that leftist groups like Code Pink would infiltrate into Mologne House at Walter Reed and cause trouble if they knew about our activities there.

Something I haven't really shared with my readers is that I and some others visit the troops recovering at Walter Reed Army Medical Center on a regular basis. The group goes once a week, and while I did this for a few months, time, distance, and gas prices have conspired to cut back my participation to every other week. We bring them things, from cookies and candy to books and videos, to toys and stuffed animals for their children.

Walter Reed, located in Washington DC, is a rehabilitation center, so the troops can be there for many months. Their families often come and stay with them during their recovery, some staying a few days, some longer. Often there are children, who, like kids everywhere, get bored. We do what we can can to make their stay easier.

What I wanted to do is to share with you some of their stories. I have heard many, but these are the ones that stand out.

Rarely are they shy about talking about their experiences in Iraq or Afghanistan, and everyone has a different story. They are all unique.

None of the names below are the real names of the troops involved. I am terrible at remembering names, and wouldn't print them anyway.

Tony - lost part of his leg at Tal Afar last year. "There were some real tough terrorists/insurgents(I forget the word he used) there. A few tried to escape, even dressing as women. It was a hard battle", he told me. "We killed thousands of them." We were sitting down when he was telling me his story, and a wife of another solder walked by. She stepped on his artificial foot and he pretended that it hurt....

John - he had both his legs, but the lower half of one was terribly swolen and was surrounded by one of those cage contraptions. It all looked like something out of a movie. "Shrapnel from an IED", he explained. "But you know, they(the press) don't publish the good things that we're doing."

Larry - is missing both of his arms above the elbows. He has a prosthetic for each, and is pretty adept at using them. I haven't spoken with him yet, my excuse is that there hasn't been an opportunity but in reality I've been stalling. You see, he looks so terribly young, and he has a wife and child.

Doug - looked fine, but was obviously a patient there. He explained that he had a back injury, two ruptured disks. I don't remember the full story, but he and some other soldiers were in a crowd situation, and an Iraqi who he described as "a terrorist" came up behind him. He twisted his body and hit the guy with his rifle butt. With all that momentum, his body armor and gear kept twisting after he had stopped, and the effect he said was to damage his back. He said it didn't bother him much at the time, but after awhile he realized something was seriously wrong with his back. The last time I saw him his leg was shaking uncontrolbly, something about nerve damage, he explained.

Kahn - is an Afghan national. He looks 55, but is probably 40. He is an interpreter for the US Army. He told us a wild story about how he was in some Afghan city with some of our Special Forces guys, and they were attacked by terrorists. Some of our guys were wounded, as was Kahn. Nevertheless, he threw our soldiers into his vehicle and sped them back to base so they could all be treated. We couldn't win without guys like him.

Bill - had no obvious wounds. Big strapping guy, the type you want on your side when things get rough. "Heart attack", he explained. "Can you believe it? I'm only 35. They say it was stress."

Mary - he son might lose his leg. "He was hit with one of our own guns" she explained. "One of the big ones, bigger than the M-60." "A .50 cal?" I suggested. "Yes, that's it", she said. I cringed inwardly. She didn't express any bitterness or resentment about it, and in fact offered to take me on a tour of the facility, to some places I hadn't seen yet. I took her up on it.

Misha - didn't speak much English. He is from Ukraine (or some similar country). Wheelchair bound, he had both his legs but they're pretty bashed up. From what we can tell, he was in a convoy when it was ambushed. We're not sure, but he may have been the only survivor.

Hank - is from Illinois, and comes ever few weeks to see his son, who is a soldier in the hospital. "Damn Army review boards! They should have had him out of here months ago. We wouldn't have to put up with this back home." Every now and then I hear similar gripes from a parent. Like anything else, it's impossible to know the truth of the matter unless you hear both sides. All I can do is nod sympathetically.

Dave - is lively and likes the stuffed animals that we bring for the kids. He always makes jokes and livens things up. He was there for blood clots in his legs. Not directly related to combat, he said, but it laid him up nonetheless.

Joe - was in a wheelchair, missing both his legs above the knee. But something was wrong; he was at least 55 years old and had hair longer than any soldier. We asked how he came to be there. "Vietnam vet", he explained. "I'm in go get new legs. They're making them much better now than they used to." He told us all about how he was wounded in Vietnam. He also told us that he tried to be a mentor to the soldiers at the hospital. "I take them out on kayaking trips, we play basketball, things like that. I show them that just because you've lost something doesn't mean you can't lead a full life." Wow. We asked if he'd run into any war protesters when he got back from 'Nam. "No", he said, "When I got back I enrolled at the University of Arizona and I guess there weren't many of them down there. But if I had I would have given them a piece of my mind."

I tell you all these things not to tout my experiences, or what I do, but because I think their stories need to be told. I also hope that this encourages you to take action to help them out yourself. There may not be a VA hospital where you live, but though the magic of the Internet there are many organizations dedicated to helping our brave men and women.

Maybe you are already taking action, so this does not apply to you. But if not, read on.

There are dozens, hundreds, I suppose, of organizations dedicated to helping the troops. One in which I participate is Adopt-a-Platoon. Despite the name, no you don't have to adopt an entire platoon of soldiers or marines. They have many different levels of participation, so you can choose the one that suits you. I chose the individual soldier support level, so once a week I write a letter, and into the envelope I stuff the comics, sports section, or some editorial for them to read. Occasionally I hear back, but not often.

So do what you can, but I encourage everyone to do something.

Posted by Tom at 9:45 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack