Monday, September 01, 2003

September 2003 Posts Recovered from The Internet Archives

These are my September 2003 posts from the dead Yahoo!Geocities site taken from The Internet Archive.

"New Iraqi Army" (Posted September 30, 2003)
I'm not sure what to make of this. We are planning to build the new Iraqi army up to 40,000 strength in one year instead of two as originally planned:
The most controversial aspect of the new plan, in Washington if not Iraq, is likely to be its reliance on officers from the old Iraqi army. That marks a sharp break with the strategy of wholesale "de-Baathification" that has been pressed by Ahmed Chalabi, a member of the interim Governing Council who until recently was the Pentagon's favorite Iraqi.
Are we abandoning de-Baathification in the new Iraqi army?
I hope not. I felt that it would be possible to use lower ranking Iraqis from the former military and that a general rule of getting rid of colonels and above would be enough to de-Baathify the Iraqi military. Lower ranking Baathists could be cashiered on an individual basis as required, of course, but the higher ranks should go. This article doesn't say what ranks we will rely on. Nor does it explain if wholesale de-Baathification meant total or just deep.
This article says our de-Baathification was top-level only:
During the party's 34-year-rule, as many as 1.5 million of Iraq's 24 million people were members. But only about 25,000 to 50,000 had full-fledged party positions — the elite targeted by U.S. officials.
Man, I hope we aren't relaxing this depth of purging to allow higher ranking Baathists in. We shouldn't risk letting Baathists corrupt the new army. But lower ranking Baathists need a reason to join the government (and coalition's) side. (And note too, how our purges work: the purged Baathists are allowed to apply for early retirement benefits.)
And while I'm at it, how was "disbanding" the Iraqi military in May a mistake? I could have sworn the Iraqi army collapsed and went home en masse during the campaign. Wasn't "disbanding" it a mere formality at that point? Just how many formed Iraqi units were sitting around the barracks waiting to work for us?
I hope the administration isn't letting the panic mongers push them into an unwise decision.
"Pakistani Tribal Areas" (Posted September 30, 2003)
We are working on the Pakistani "tribal areas" adjacent to Afghanistan to hunt Taliban and al Qaeda thugs, but the locals are not hospitable to our efforts.
The Pakistani government reached an agreement with tribal elders in Waziristan about 10 months ago to allow army checkpoints and patrols in their territory in return for building schools and hospitals and improving irrigation.
The tribal area Pakistanis are not happy with the civic improvements delivered and are sympathetic to the Taliban and al Qaeda.
This region is not quite a sanctuary but the local support and inability of the US and Pakistani forces to have a persistent presence in the area means small groups can operate there and get into Afghanistan to make mischief. It certainly means that one man-if Osama really is alive, although I tend to think he is with Jimmy Hoffa now-can elude capture for a while.
A hostile Pakistan would make this situation a heck of a lot worse. We balance so many competing forces to fight the terrorists and terrorist-supporting states. It is a wonder we do so well.
"Still Defending the Baathists" (Posted September 29, 2003)
Jessica Mathews of the Carnegie Endowment for American Defeat (oops, that's "International Peace" at the end) is at it again. After her earnest pre-war attempts to keep Saddam in power with armed inspection regimes and threats of nuclear annihilation if they ever used WMD, Mathews is trying to get the Baathists into the government of Iraq and turn over the reins of power as fast as possible:
Beginning with the decision to send the Iraqi army home without pay, and reinforced by "de-Baathification" and other decisions, the message has been inadvertently sent that the United States considers Sunnis, Baathists and Saddam Hussein loyalists to be one and the same. They are not. With no political party and what many feel to be no voice in the present government, Sunnis feel disenfranchised. It is no coincidence that the worst violence is in Sunni regions. This is not an issue that can wait.
The poor former torturers and killers feel disenfranchised. The poor babies can't get a dangling chad counted if their lives depended on it, I guess. Is this woman serious? Just what does it take to become the president of her organization?
I'm seriously impressed with her ability to examine the facts and draw conclusions. (And let's just ignore her misinterpretation of Powell' six-month "deadline" for writing a constitution. First, he explained it was not a deadline. Second, he made it clear that it was a timeline after a drafting convention is formed. Two big factors, I'd say). Is she really saying that ruling out the senior elements of the Baath party's terror apparatus is wrong? What would this say to the people who had their ears lopped off and their tongues ripped out by those formerly enfranchised Sunni Baathists? What kind of sick puppy is she that she thinks the victims should just forget two decades and more of oppression and death? Sunnis can play a role in Iraqi society-once they stop shielding the Baathists and accept that they cannot control 100% of the pie with 15% of the population. They must accept that killing Shias and Kurds in mass numbers for fun and profit is not a civil right of the Baathist Sunnis.
But this sums up her attitude, I guess:
It is, after all, their country. The sooner we can convince Iraqis and the rest of the world that we understand this, and the sooner we can add the legitimacy conferred by a U.N. political role, the greater our still slim chances of success. We will need all the help we can get.
The Iraqis seem to understand they are better off now. And I don't give a rip about a world that sees Iraqis with a boot on their neck as superior to allowing the United States to lead the effort to remove the boot. The UN's legitimacy role is small and we should give up little to get it. And with success adding up, that she still sees our chances of success as slim is amazing. Can we fail? You bet. But our chances of success are immeasurably better without the sad advice of Mathews. Mostly, I'm unhappy she uses the pronoun "their" when she says it is after all, "their country." I may be unfair but she seems to think "their" refers to the Sunni Baathists who used to provide the deadly stability she supported so warmly.
"The UN Should Have No Significant Role in Iraq" (Posted September 29, 2003)
I continue to believe that only cosmetic or secondary roles should be given to the UN in regard to Iraq. Too much rides on our success to trust the UN to do the right thing. As this article notes:
If the U.N.'s position is that neither it nor its personnel can take the risks that United States personnel are taking routinely, then it is hard to see how it can fulfill any role in Iraq. Indeed, turning over civil authority, or any authority, to an organization that is afraid to enter the country it is supposed to administer is self-evidently absurd.
Truly, the way the UN has turned tail and run away after naively thinking they were "different" than the US (read that "better") and so immune to enemy attack, should show us how they would do. Bosnia should show us what a full blown UN commitment would result in: UN forces only concerned about force protection and counting the number of times the enemy commits atrocities. At some point, the UN will be embarrassed enough to issue tough talk but then will not follow through. I shudder to think of what would happen within any UN "safe havens" in the Sunni triangle.
So enough talk of turning over Iraq to the UN. That is only a (short) step to turning Iraq over to the Baathists.
We're doing just fine, thank you. Iraq is demonstrably better and we don't need to be rescued.
Exit strategy, indeed. We work for victory.
"The Press and Iraq" (Posted September 26, 2003)
Given the complaints in the blogosphere about overly negative press coverage on Iraq, an exchange on MSNBC's "Countdown with Keith Oberman" (or whatever his names is—I rarely watch it and only did because a story on Alanis Morissette was mentioned—I like her, live with it) was amusing and heartening.
Keith introduced the story on the bombing of the NBC headquarters in Baghdad, asserting it is one more in a long line of bad things happening in Iraq. But when he went to Bob Arnott in the field, Arnott directly contradicted Keith by noting all the good things that are happening and that the bombing actually masked this news!
It was a pleasure to hear. I don't expect or want feel-good news since we need information to determine how we are doing. But I think maybe the overly negative tone may subside in favor of some balance. Maybe I'm too hopeful but this exchange was a pleasure to behold. Kudos to Arnott.
"Pakistani Cooperation" (Posted September 26, 2003)
Given the problems we are having with shutting down the Taliban and al Qaeda in Pakistan, the topics of this meeting by the Pakistan Defense Consultative Group are interesting. I hope the upbeat assessment by the US in the statement will be felt on the ground real fast.
"The Saddam-al Qaeda Links" (Posted September 25, 2003)
Will the yahoos who still deny any al Qaeda-Saddam link read this and explain to me just who is lying about this connection? God, they can see connections between the war and somebody who knows a guy who knows Cheney who owns some Haliburton stock, but this they can't see...
I am seriously getting peeved about the repeated denials by the anti-war side that Saddam had any links to terrorism. And for the last time, nobody on the pro-war side said that Saddam directed or planned 9-11.
"The Anti-War Side Misleads (Again)" (Posted September 25, 2003)
The anti-war side has been debating with itself over whether Iraq posed an "imminent" threat to us. The pro-war side never said it. The anti-war side has been feverish in its repeated arguments that there is no link between Saddam and 9-11 despite the fact that the pro-war side has not argued such a link.
Now there is a new lie for the anti-war side to promote. The idea that it is an outrage that the President wants to spend $87 billion on rebuilding Iraq. The anti-war side is outraged that we would spend so much when they have domestic programs they'd love to fund. The only problem is that this figure too is a lie. $65 billion is for military operations while $22 billion is for reconstruction work. I'm not saying this is chump change, but the members of Congress claiming we are seeking the full amount for Iraq are just willingly spreading a lie. It is all the more shocking that they are upset since they are the "nation building" party that complained the administration wasn't serious about the post-war. This is another lie, of course. We underestimated how bad Iraq was even without any bombing at all (and we did avoid hitting the infrastructure) and we thought we'd get oil flowing faster after we prevented the destruction of the oil wells. Now, we need our money to jump start this.
I would love it if the opposition would debate instead of seeking to score debating points.
I'd be ecstatic if I thought they wanted to debate means to achieving victory.
"Baghdad Residents Not in Revolt" (Posted September 24, 2003)
A new Gallup poll surveying the opinions of Baghdad residents is out. Sixty-two percent think ousting Saddam was worth the hardships they have endured since the invasion. Also, 47 percent said the country is worse off than before the invasion and 33 percent said it is better off. Clearly, the residents are weighing the freedom and elimination of torture against the short-term difficulties with electricity and other utilities. Consider too that part of this decline in electricity is because we ended the Saddam policy of siphoning energy from the rest of Iraq to supply Baghdad's Sunnis. Also consider that a lot of those Sunnis may still be nostalgic for Saddam.
It is also comforting to see that people think Iraq will be better off in five years than before the invasion by a 67-8 percent margin. Sixty percent think the Iraqi governing council is doing a good job and half think the US authorities are doing a better job than two months ago. These are all good signs of support in the Sunni triangle to rebuke the Rallean view that the Iraqis are itching to kill us, drive us out, and restore Saddam.
Of course, some of those 67% who think Iraq will be better in 5 years may be Sunnis who think this way because they believe Saddam will return them to their glory days of privilege and stomping on throats.
We will stay to make sure a stable Iraq based on rule of law prevails.
"Pakistan Safe Havens" (Posted September 24, 2003)
More evidence that the Pakistanis are not working hard enough to prevent the Taliban from using Pakistani territory as a base for attacks in Afghanistan.
We simply have to shut down this base area. I assume our intel and special forces people are working the ground, but if Pakistani elements are shielding the Taliban or letting sympathizers in the border area shield them, we are operating at a severe handicap.
"Hot Line" (Posted September 23, 2003)
From, again:
September 21, 2003: Taiwan and the US have set up a "hot line" (a secure and robust communications system between government officials in both countries.) The existence of this communications system was kept quiet until recently. The system implies that America would quickly come to the aid of Taiwan if China attacked, because such "hotlines" are only created to deal with crises situations.. 
Well, it sort of shows we are planning for war. But we've always prepared for war over Taiwan. What it really says is that we did not like the situation we found ourselves in during the 1996 crisis when we deployed two carrier battle groups east of Taiwan as a show of support to Taiwan in the face of Chinese provocations. We really didn't like that we had no idea what the Taiwanese were doing or planning to do. They could have started shooting and there we'd be.
What this story really says is that we are not writing Taiwan a blank check to get us into a shooting war with the PRC. It is more useful to diffuse a crisis, not fight a war. If something happens out there, we will have more information to decide what to do—and to influence Taiwan decisions.
"More on Stryker Brigades" (Posted September 23, 2003)
Once again, from, more on Strykers:
September 23, 2003: The Stryker brigades were created to get mobile American combat units to far off places in a hurry. Each Stryker brigade contains 3494 troops and over 300 Stryker LAVs (of various types.) The total weight of the brigade is about 13,000 tons. In addition, you need a steady flow of supplies (about 600 pounds per man per day) to keep the brigade in action. That adds another 1,000 tons (or more) a day. You want to have the Stryker brigade go in with a least three days of supplies, and have another 30 days worth stockpiled nearby. No problem moving a Stryker brigade by ship. It takes about 40 hours to load, or unload, the brigade from typical ships. Getting a Stryker brigade to Korea (the port of Pusan), from Washington State, would thus take about 11 days (loading, sea travel, unloading). The original concept was to airlift the Stryker brigades to distant combat zones. But this has never been practical because of a shortage of transports, higher priority users (like the air force supporting their warplanes overseas) and the difficulty of getting all that stuff on and off the transports. One recent RAND study calculated that a Stryker brigade could get to Seoul, Korea (from Seattle, Washington) faster by ship (by a couple of hours) than the same brigade could do by air (from Washington State to Osan, Korea), mainly because of the operational difficulties of moving a ready-for-combat ground unit. It takes a lot of time, and precious airbase space, to load a Stryker brigade onto transports, and then unload them at the other end. The basic problem is that the air force has never seen it's transports as practical transportation for any ground combat units except paratroopers and small numbers of armored vehicles. Sure, the specs for air transports always list what kinds of armored vehicles they can carry, but that's mainly for show. The air transports are much more useful, and valuable, moving spare parts for armored vehicles, crews for armored vehicles and just about anything but the armored vehicles themselves. But sometimes fantasies come to life, and that's what seems to have happened with the concept of moving Stryker brigades by air.
I may be too suspicious, but I suspect the calculations for getting a Stryker brigade from Washington State to Korea is a proxy for getting them from Washington State to the equally distant Taiwan. I wouldn't want light Strykers in combat against the North Koreans. I'd want big ol' Abrams and Bradleys.
Plus, I do have some doubts about the airlifting of whole brigades. The one admitted scenario where it made some sense is the Gulf to protect Kuwait from a sudden Iraqi invasion and we need to rush armor to the front—and we took care of that scenario. For peacekeeping, another useful scenario, we will never need to speedily airlift a Stryker brigade for this mission.
Still, being able to airlift even a task force or a team of Strykers for tactical missions or to reinforce a paratrooper or airmobile airhead could be really useful. We sent in a small amount of heavy armor for the 173rd AB brigade in northern Iraq and a larger Stryker contingent may have been better.
I still think the Taiwan mission is most likely combat mission for the Stryker brigade. They seem to be getting set up in the Pacific region and they would be good in a fight against Chinese paratroopers or light infantry/marines trying to invade Taiwan. In this scenario, sure, a boat ride might be just as fast, but what if the Chinese are attacking Taiwan and going full tilt with a submarine blockade of Taiwan? It would take time to clear sea lanes and we might not have that luxury. In that case, airlifting Strykers in might be the only option to save Taiwan and show concrete and effective support.
"More Troops for Iraq?" (Posted September 23, 2003)
A resounding "no" as I've been saying, too. We don't need Americans on static guard duty and presence patrols. That's an Iraqi job. We must give the Iraqis a stake in security and not just encourage an attitude of "let the Americans do it." For the real combat jobs, we have enough and in the months to come, the rotation plan will significantly reduce the number of our combat brigades in Iraq. The article notes we've gone from 25 engagements per day in July to about 15 today. They usually last a few minutes and so are not terribly significant. I also agree that using Saddam's former security people is a mistake. De-Baathification must be thorough or we will undermine the new security institutions that we are building right from the start.
"Law of the Jungle" (Posted September 23, 2003)
The President spoke to the UN today and this is what Kofi Annan had to say about our invasion of Iraq:
In a speech to be delivered minutes before Bush was due to speak, Annan took an unusually blunt swipe at the world's only superpower, saying that unilateral military action without U.N. authority risked returning the world to the law of the jungle.

"My concern is that, if it were to be adopted, it could set precedents that resulted in a proliferation of the unilateral and lawless use of force, with or without credible justification," Annan warned in his prepared text.
My word, what idiocy. It is so good I don't even need to comment on Chirac's statements.
What was going on inside Iraq before April of this year if not the law of the jungle? What was going on when Saddam invaded Kuwait in 1990 if not the law of the jungle? What would you call Saddam's invasion of Iran (admittedly a nutso regime, too, but where was the UN then?) if not the law of the jungle? What was the use of poison gas on soldiers and unarmed civilians? What was the firing of missiles at civilians in Israel if not the law of the jungle? In short, just what the Hell is Annan even talking about? Is it really so hard to recognize that we did more for the Iraqi people with our invasion than the UN did with nearly a score of resolutions over a decade?
And given Iraq's own record of unilateral and lawless use of force, is Annan seriously saying we are establishing precedent? God, the idiocy of those saying that only now will there be a proliferation of naked aggression because we attacked and liberated Iraq is truly stunning.
I like the precedent we set: mess with us and you die.
"Central Front in the War on Terror?" (Posted September 23, 2003)
I am uncomfortable with the idea that Iraq is the central front in the war on terror. Oh sure, Islamists are rushing to their jihad by going to Iraq to fight us, but we did not invade Iraq to attract them in a "flypaper" strategy.
Yes, one reason we invaded Iraq was the fear that Saddam would funnel WMD to terrorists. Yes, Saddam did support terrorism. Yes, Saddam had ties to al Qaeda. So, I do concede that destorying Saddam's regime has a positive impact on the war on terror. But Saddam did not order 9-11 and the major benefits of destroying Saddam are not directly linked to the war on terror. The Iraq War was the elimination of a state pursuing nuclear weapons that threatened vital interests in the Middle East (yes, that includes oil you silly conspiracy mongers) whether they had nukes or not. This is why North Korea was not first on the list. Ending Saddam's sheer evilness was a bonus rather than a basic security reason for toppling his regime.
Iraq is only the central front in the war on terror in the sense that it is the most prominent place we are currently fighting terrorists. Even here, it is the Baathist resistance that is most important to defeat. Once those lovelies are gone, Islamofascists who flock to their Disney-like notion of Jihadworld are a local threat for Iraqis to hunt down.
Even Afghanistan can't be counted as the central front anymore. At one time, Afghanistan was the most prominent place and the central front since it shielded al Qaeda and provided their training, planning, and a logistics base. With the Taliban out, Afghanistan is just another place where Islamofascists die on a regular basis. It is a localized problem for the new Afghan government to solve (with our help).
Since the fall of the Taliban, the "centra"l front of the war on terror is global as law enforcement and intelligence agencies from friendly countries ferret out diffused and scattered al Qaeda thugs and their sympathizers. I have long said that the war on terror is not primarily a military war. Calling Iraq the central front of the war on terror is misleading and may make us think the war on terror is a series of military campaigns.
The Axis of Evil states represent threats above and beyond terrorism by al Qaeda scum. The war on Iraq was, in part, a preemptive war against nuclear rogue states threatening us in the future. Yes, the possibility of terrorists getting nukes is one supporting reason to end these states, but they would be dangerous states even if Islamist terrorism did not exist. Just as true, al Qaeda is still dangerous even if they never get their hands on WMD.
I concede that each is less dangerous if the other element is destroyed, but the Axis of Evil and al Qaeda (and their fellow terrorists) are separate although sometimes overlapping threats that must be dealt with on their own terms. I strongly believe nailing Saddam was unquestionably in our interests and will improve our safety. I just don't buy the idea that going after Iraq was an integral part of the war on terror or that the present fighting there is the central front. We get too confused when we conflate the terror and nuclear threats. It also allows opponents of the war to make the ridiculous claim that we created this new central front.
Actually, the terrorists themselves make an error when they conflate the two. Instead of running off to Iraq where they face our battle-tested troops, they should be attacking the West in our homes. Maybe there is something to that flypaper strategy after all.
"Motive" (Posted September 22, 2003)
Interesting, if this terrorist is believable (and if his assertions are checkable), but the 9-11 planning is supposed to have began in 1996.
For the last two years, some even in this country have been saying that we deserved this attack. That Bush was too aggressive and unilateral. That we failed to get the Palestinians a state and were too tight with Sharon's Israel.
Yet planning apparently began in 1996, in the age of lip-biting, sophisticated Euro-friendly American foreign policy. The al Qaeda planning began before a cowboy entered the White House. Before we expressed support for Sharon. Before Clinton's failed last-ditch effort to get an Israeli-Palestinian deal. And certainly before we hit Sudan, Afghanistan, and Iraq in 1998.
What, pray tell, did we do to deserve this? What policies are we supposed to embrace to end the hatred?
And remember, too, all that silly talk about judging the "imminence" of Saddam's threats that opponents of the war with Iraq insisted we engage in last year and which they are reviving today. I guess al Qaeda wasn't an imminent threat in 1996. Or 1997. Or 1998 when we launched a few cruise missiles at Osama and a pharmaceutical plant. Certainly not in 1999. Or 2000. Yet September 11, 2001 arrived anyway.
"Well This Should Get Their Attention" (Posted September 22, 2003)
The President's speech to the UN will apparently include this bit:
President Bush will tell the United Nations on Tuesday that he was right to order the invasion of Iraq even without the organization's explicit approval, and he will urge a new focus on countering nuclear proliferation, arguing that it is the only way to avoid similar confrontations.
Translation: I told you last year that you yahoos needed to get serious about keeping nukes out of the hands of madmen. I said I'd do something about it if you didn't. You didn't so I did. Now, with the example of what America did this year, I repeat to you: do something constructive or we will act—again. And, no, Mr. de Villepin, don't wait for the translation before you answer.
Good. I would correct the point that we just didn't have the UN's recent approval rather than explicit approval as the article says, given the status of all the prior resolutions and the ceasefire that was based on Saddam obeying those resolutions.
"Power Outage Sparks Justified Anger" (Posted September 22, 2003)
The vice mayor had this to say about the power outages in the D.C. area:
"It is true we're spoiled. We're used to the creature comforts," Hudnut said. "But at this point, the power has been out for 72 hours. . . . I think we've crossed that threshold where we're justified in being angry."
Explain to me again how the Iraqi reaction to power shortages this summer means the Iraqis want us out of their country and are positively pining for the days when there was power enough for Baghdad air conditioners and wiring up the testicles of Shiites. Ah, those were the days!
I'd say the Iraqis have been pretty understanding of the time it is taking to get power back on.
Of course, D.C. area residents don't have to weigh the benefits of living in a torture-free, prosperous, democracy against power shortages. We did give the Iraqis the chance to make that calculation now didn't we? As some might say, I suppose it is a good thing that Saddam is gone.
"Excess to the Needs of the Army in Europe for Military Operational Reasons" (Posted September 20)
The US Army is closing two sites in the Netherlands where I believe we stored a set of equipment for a heavy brigade at each site:
The Department of Defense today announced that on Feb. 29, 2004, the U.S. Army, Europe (USAREUR) will cease operations at two military sites in the Netherlands. These facilities are the Combat Equipment Base Brunssum at Brunssum and Combat Equipment Base Vriezenveen in Almelo. Both of these sites had been used to store and maintain the Army's prepositioned stocks.
The closures will be completed incrementally as the Army Material Command consolidates the Army prepositioned stocks mission in Europe. These facilities in the Netherlands were identified as excess to the needs of the Army in Europe for military operational reasons.
What a blast from the past and a sign of how far we've come since the Berlin Wall fell and the Soviet Union disintegrated. At one time, based on the position of troops at the end of World War II, American troops were based in southern German to defend the NATO front. A hodgepodge of nationalities defended on the North German Plain where the major Soviet offensive would try to reach the Rhine. To make up for this imbalance, we started to place equipment in the north so that we could airlift troops to the north to man the brigades and strengthen the northern front. (In addition to the equipment sets with the two American corps in the Fulda Gap and Hof Corridor.)
Now that equipment is excess to our needs. Outstanding. After so many years of struggling worldwide against Soviet advances, facing the Soviets in Europe, and turning back those in this country who thought we and the Soviet gulag state were morally equivalent, we won it all.
It is good to remember that tough struggles can be won. Even in the face of those who think we cannot win.
"Iraq Casualties" (Posted September 19, 2003)
The report on our wounded in action in Iraq during the month of August indicated a much higher rate of action than previous post-Saddam fall combat. I think half of our WIA up that point occurred in August. I looked at some killed in action figures when the numbers didn't seem to add up. This is all by checking out press reports and so is not a rigorous check.
First of all, through most of June, casualties were still low enough that precise figures for American KIA were not given. They'd say "about a dozen" or some such thing. On June 20, we'd lost 16 KIA (16 in 50 days from May 1): about one every third day. On July 1, we'd lost 22 (6 in 11 days from June 20): about one every other day. The overall from May 1 still stood at about one KIA every third day 22 in 61 days). By July 9 we'd lost 29 and by July 10 we'd lost 31. By July 24 we'd lost 41 and by August 1, when we started to see almost a week's lull, we'd lost 52 KIA. From July 1 to August 1 we therefore lost 28 in 31 days, or almost one per day. On August 8 we lost 55 up to that point, on August 19 we had lost 61, on August 24 we'd lost 64, and on September 2, right at another lull, we'd lost 67 KIA since May 1. This works out to 15 lost in the 32 days from August 1 to September 2. This is about one every other day. From September 2 to September 19, we lost 9 more bringing the total KIA since May 1 to 76. Those last 9 KIA took place over 17 days, again at a rate of one every other day.
So from May 1 to July 1 we lost one soldier every third day. From July 1 to August 1 we lost nearly one per day. From August 1 to September 2 we lost one every other day. That every other day trend has continued through September.
So despite the upsurge in WIA during August, that month was actually half as deadly for KIA than July. We apparently stopped offensive action in August, perhaps letting our troops get hit first more often rather than going after the enemy and therefore suffering more WIA—but fewer KIA as we seem to have focused on force protection more (more generously, we mistakenly thought the dead-enders were beaten). We've gone back on the offensive, though more focused, in September and KIA rates have not increased. Hopefully the WIA have dropped as we regain the initiative.
It just isn't as dramatic as I thought it would be—pretty steady in fact despite the increased infiltration from neighboring states that has been reported. We must be getting them at a pretty hefty clip.
Still, these are American lives to be mourned and not counted as a metric of failure or success. It is pretty low level and does not impact our ability to carry on operations. Enemy casualties are nice but not a metric of success, either.
This is a better measure of success.
"Iraq and al Qaeda" (Posted September 19, 2003)
Never thought Iraq directly sponsored or directed 9-11 attacks. I don't recall the administration saying there was a direct command link—just that "in light of" 9-11 we must look at Iraq under Saddam with a new perspective. So the fact that the President explicitly said there is no 9-11-Saddam link should stand alone. But anti-war critics are doing what they did for the last two years—refuted the Saddam-9-11 link that was not made and then concluded that Saddam had no ties to al Qaeda or terrorism generally.
Let us repeat this together—Saddam sponsored, had ties to, and carried out terrorist acts. We took down Saddam's government for the general terrorism sponsorship (among other reasons) and to prevent a more lethal 9-11—not to avenge 9-11.
"Oh, Go Read Lileks" (Posted September 18, 2003)
"Whither France?" (Posted September 18, 2003)
I think I've been going easy on France lately. We had an intern from France start in my office this fall. Although I suspected colleagues were colluding in creating a hostile work environment for an entire year, she seems perfectly nice. She is also about as far away from Paris without being Corsican or Italian, so my Parisian-centered French bias continues unthreatened. Anyway, I can't keep this bottle up forever.
So, this is how Friedman's column starts today:
It's time we Americans came to terms with something: France is not just our annoying ally. It is not just our jealous rival. France is becoming our enemy.
He recounts France's actions in the Iraq War question, is astounded that France is posing as the champion of democracy in Iraq today, and is perplexed that France thinks it is in its national interest to see America fail in Iraq:
What is so amazing to me about the French campaign — "Operation America Must Fail" — is that France seems to have given no thought as to how this would affect France. Let me spell it out in simple English: if America is defeated in Iraq by a coalition of Saddamists and Islamists, radical Muslim groups — from Baghdad to the Muslim slums of Paris — will all be energized, and the forces of modernism and tolerance within these Muslim communities will be on the run. To think that France, with its large Muslim minority, where radicals are already gaining strength, would not see its own social fabric affected by this is fanciful.
Friedman has to blame Bush arrogance for failing to reach out after the fall of Baghdad to soften France's attitude but this ignores the whole decade of the 90s when France opposed us in Iraq and worked to protect Saddam. And this was during the humble Clinton administration. Friedman would have us believe that France would have changed its calculation of its interest if only we'd been less "arrogant." Hogwash. Unless Friedman is peddling the French "moderate" faction theory, I don't think Paris was about to throw away its view of its national interests in favor of a warm and fuzzy moment with Rumsfeld. In the end, even Friedman admits he has doubts that this would have worked (so why say it other than to snipe at the administration?)
Yet this is what is happening:
Clearly, not all E.U. countries are comfortable with this French mischief, yet many are going along for the ride. It's stunning to me that the E.U., misled by France, could let itself be written out of the most important political development project in modern Middle East history. The whole tone and direction of the Arab-Muslim world, which is right on Europe's doorstep, will be affected by the outcome in Iraq. It would be as if America said it did not care what happened in Mexico because it was mad at Spain.
I suppose I am too simplisme to understand the subtleties of de Villepin's geostrategic genius.
What really gets me is that we are blamed for this possible breach. France has been screwing us over for a long time and we ignore them, recalling Yorktown and the Statue of Liberty, and maybe getting all wistful over the Left Bank. I wonder when the French elite start debating "who lost America?"
Time to read up on the Quasi War again.
"Strategic Cooperation?" (Posted September 18, 2003)
The Chinese like to say they are our friend in the war on terror. One part of our September 10 world we should not forget is the crisis China provoked early in the Bush administration by ramming one of our planes over international waters. The EP-3 incident gave China information:
The F-8 pilot's death nevertheless appears to have brought Beijing unforeseen benefits in terms of access to highly sensitive US equipment and information. "VQ-1 crews carry classified materiel as a matter of routine. Classified materiel is necessary in executing the flight mission," the JAGMAN report states, although subsequent detail is masked out in the version provided to JDW.

"Destruction of classified materiel in flight included jettisoning classified materiel out of the starboard overwing hatch (after PR-32 recovered from its uncontrolled and rapid descent following the collision); smashing equipment with the onboard axe and other hard objects and, upon landing, hand-shredding classified papers."

However, the investigation concludes, the effects of shock combined with a lack of sufficient time before the emergency landing at Hainan's Lingshui airfield failed to produce the desired result. "Compromise by the People's Republic of China of undestroyed classified materiel on PR-32 is highly probable and cannot be ruled out," the report determines.
They may not be an enemy yet (and may never be if we are lucky) but the Chinese are no friends yet either. Work with them where our interests coincide but watch them carefully.
"Don't Count Europe as Lost" (Posted September 17, 2003)
As much as the governments of France, Germany and Belgium along with the official EU bureaucracy tick me off, we should not let our frustration rule out efforts to win the hearts and minds of Europeans. Some of them like us and others at least share common goals. Do not just accept the EU as an inevitable superpower. We should not promote European political unity and we should not shrug our shoulders and say we might as well accept it.
Just get our State Department on board this idea and we may yet win over those who are winnable. Letting the EU run Europe is no way to promote our interests. Check out Applebaum's article on this.
"And Another One" (Posted September 17, 2003)
I really wonder what O'Hanlon is smoking. I seriously question his judgment based on his recent writings. I used to not dismiss him out of hand, but did his PhD elevate him to echelon above reality? His latest column builds on earlier suggestion that he most certainly insists is neither appeasement nor giving in to blackmail or otherwise being a tweed-jacket-wearing surrender monkey.
North Korea promised not to build nukes and we agreed to pay them. We paid and North Korea either has or soon will have nukes. O'Hanlon's strategy in response?
Faced with this dilemma, we need to think bigger. We must offer much more to North Korea but demand far more in return.
Wow. They took what we gave and ignored their promises. So in his mind we should offer more but—here's the reality-denying part—demand more. If Kim Jong Il was unwilling to give up his nukes, why not demand he give up all WMD and toss in huge reductions in his conventional forces too! And give up drug running, and kidnapping, and terrorism, and counterfeiting, and everything else that earned him the Bronze in the Axis of Evil competition!
What imagination! What "thinking outside the box!" And just look at all those footnotes backing him up (I'm just guessing here).
What a crock.
Think bigger, indeed. I can just imagine the North Korean meeting after this offer is made! They won't be able to believe their good luck. Why the Hell shouldn’t the Pillspsycho Doughboy not agree to accept more stuff in exchange for bigger promises? Heck, he'll want to negotiate every few years after being caught lying by a shocked West. He'll be rolling in DVDs and well-fed joy brigade chicks at this rate.
O'Hanlon does let his PhD credential show when he adds this caveat, "Of course, this approach might well fail." Gee, ya think?
Gently and slowly squeeze the nutjobs in Pyongyang so they don't get all agitated and they will break without lashing out. We have time yet. Not much but we have time.
In the meantime, Iran beckons. How close are they to getting nukes? I still say stopping the rogue without nukes (and with Islamofascist terrorist links) from getting its first nuke trumps stopping the isolated state with a couple nukes from getting a dozen.
"Dunderhead" (Posted September 17, 2003)
Blix says that Saddam "probably" destroyed most of his WMD ten years ago.
Yet in the mid-90s we discovered his hitherto undiscovered biological warfare program and on the eve of war this year the Iraqis agreed to destroy prohibited missiles. Is Blix really arguing that Saddam would not have had all the WMD he wanted within 6 months of the UN signing off on Saddam's disarmament? (Ok, longer for nukes I admit)
Ok, to be fair, Blix is only probably a dunderhead. That we should have entrusted our security and our lives to this man's judgment is a truly amazing proposition.
I will repeat my position in brief on WMD and reasons for war. We went to war over his conventional and terrorist threat to us and his neighbors; we went to war over his brutality to his own people; and we went to war to deprive him of WMD. On WMD, I expected that he did not have nukes but had the know-how, that he may have had biological weapons but probably not, and that he did have chemical weapons since he had them and used them repeatedly. I expected that if we left Saddam in power (or his sons) that one day he would have all the WMD he wanted and he would then pursue his Hellish nightmare of glory and probably use those weapons again.
I still want to know what happened to the chemical weapons and understand why everybody thought Saddam had chemical weapons ready to use. Although Saddam's intentions were always the most important thing about Iraqi WMD, this is still a crucial question to understand.
"Pakistan Pisses Off al Qaeda" (Posted September 17, 2003)
Ok, I've worried that we won't really nail al Qaeda and the Taliban in Afghanistan until we get the Pakistani border areas under control. I've worried that Pakistan isn't doing enough and that maybe we need to get tougher.
The problem for anyone commenting on the war on terror is that we basically don't know jack. I've repeatedly noted that the vast majority of what is going on in the war on terror is unseen or ill-publicized (either from design or reporters finding it easier to report elsewhere). Yet I and others must (ok, it isn't "must" but we do) comment on the basis of what we read and hear—a fraction of the truth.
From the always informative, I find that the Pakistanis are doing more:
September 15, 2003: Pakistan is trying to mend faces with local Islamic radicals in the face of al Qaeda calling for the overthrow of the Pakistani government. Al Qaeda is understandably upset because Pakistan has arrested, and turned over to the US, some 500 real or suspected al Qaeda members in the last two years. And recently, army troops and police have started moving into tribal areas that have never been entered that way in the past. Al Qaeda had considered the tribal areas a sanctuary. However, the Pakistani move does not cover all the tribal areas, but does make it more likely that government forces would enter a tribal area where American and Pakistani intelligence believes key al Qaeda members (like Osama bin Laden) are hiding. Pakistan has also been allowing numerous Americans in civilian clothes to operate with Pakistani troops in tribal areas. These Americans have been seen regularly by tribesmen and are probably CIA, FBI or Special Forces (who will often wear civilian clothes when working for the CIA.)

The US has agreed to provide spare parts and upgrades for Pakistanis two decade old F-16 fighters.
It is good that al Qaeda is angry since a serious threat against the Pakistanis will lead them to seriously crack down on Islamists rather than try to manage their anger away from Islamabad.
I'm not happy to hear that the Pakistanis are trying to "mend fences" with the nutballs, though. Our job is to make sure they view each other as enemies.
"Our Friends the French—Again" (Posted September 16, 2003)
The French government's Transport Ministry pulled the plug on a charter airline's contract to carry British troops to Iraq:
Transport ministry officials were reported yesterday as saying the move had nothing to do with safety but was a result of the intervention of the foreign ministry.

The foreign ministry denied the report, saying there was "no political motive". But British defence officials appeared to confirm that the ban was political and not technical.
Ah yes. What is it about the French and their precious air space? In 1986, we had to fly our F-111s around France to strike Libya. Did we and the British exceed our flight hours over France in 1944?
Perhaps an inquiry to the French Ministry of Being a Total Pain to 'Allies' is in order.
[Note: I wrote this before I read the Instapundit comment on this—with the above passages quoted. One of the frustrations of blogging is having someone beat me to the punch when I know I discovered it! One of the pleasures is beating the big boys to a point. Alas, I posted too late for this to be in the latter category…]
"Our Press is Free—And They Were Free to Ignore the Truth" (Posted September 16, 2003)
John Burns has a sobering account of how the Western press looked the other way in Iraq. For all the complaints about the loss of objectivity for being embedded with American units in the war, as yet nobody has even begun to address how news organizations embed themselves in totalitarian governments—sucking up to maintain access. Reporting politely so they can talk live from the scene. Never saying they are told what not to say and led to say other things friendly to the regime. This they call 'news.'
Now, of course, the reporters are reporting problems in Iraq—or at least the problems within a days drive from Baghdad. You think they're still looking away? Refusing to report the truth? Or have they all suddenly decided that they will report what is actually going on?
I'm betting on still misreporting the truth. They're so embedded in their Vietnam analogy that no good news is possible for the most part.
"Who Owns the Flag?" (Posted September 15, 2003)
So who owns the flag? The pro-Iraq War side or the anti-war side? An interesting article on the "peace" protesters the last two years is illuminating. The part at the end about the US flag really got me.
Peace demonstrators in 2003 took pains to shun overt displays of anti-American sentiment and made a point of displaying American flags, but most Americans were still put off by their message.
Yes, the pro-war side does not "own" the American flag. But I'd be a little more sympathetic if those who do not want the public to disassociate them with patriotism didn't simultaneously complain about those who "wrap themselves in the flag," argue that we deliberately target civilians, sneer at "flag waving," assert that patriotism is the "last refuge of a scoundrel," and otherwise complain that displaying the flag creates a "hostile environment" and is jingoistic and exclusive. Then they throw in a cheap shot that the pro-war types only want to wrap granny in the flag prior to shoving her off on an ice flow without social security benefits!
Those anti-war types complaining about the public saying they are not patriotic really shouldn't get so uncomfortable around the American flag in the absence of lighter fluid and matches.
The broader issue of the article of who was in the anti-war side is interesting too given that the complaints we hear now are that the war should not have been fought without the UN's approval or without concrete evidence of actual WMD ready to use in 2003. The anti-war side could not be convinced and arguments that we should have addressed their concerns are misplaced:
Those who were strongly opposed to our invasion of Iraq were indifferent to the role of the United Nations. About one-fifth opposed our military activity regardless of whether the United States had U.N. support or Iraq had weapons of mass destruction. A Gallup poll taken in early April 2003 showed that 15 percent of the respondents opposed the war "even if the U.S. finds conclusive evidence that Iraq has weapons of mass destruction." One-tenth of all voters said that we should "never" have attacked Iraq. In another poll, about one-tenth of all Americans said that they are "antiwar in general." And in yet another public-opinion survey conducted in March 2003, almost one-fifth said that war is "never morally justified."
Face it, they wouldn't be convinced of the need to fight if—oh, I don't know—let's say if we lost 3,000 innocents in a single day to fanatics who seized our airplanes. Truly, if the fourth plane brought down in Pennsylvania on 9-11 had been headed for the Women's Studies Department at Berkeley, the anti-war side still would have opposed the war to destroy terrorists and terrorist-supporting states (contrary to my earlier assertions). I really would like to know if they fight for anything. What sad lives that they have nothing they hold dear.
Yes, we all own the flag. It's just not my fault that some run from it so hard.
Oh, and to be clear, since everyone owns the flag and you can't judge motives by this little thing, when I display mine it means I want our military and intelligence services to kill every damn bastard that has killed or is even thinking about killing one of us. And although I put out my flag at half staff on 9-11 because the president requested we do so, it stuck in my throat. I wanted it to fly high in angry and determined defiance not lowered in victimhood and sadness. Mourn the dead on 9-10, their last full day of life. On September 11, let's commemorate what we are doing to our enemies. We can all fly the flag, right?
"Post-War Reconstruction" (Posted September 15, 2003)
From the The Globe and Mail, no less, a little perspective on how well we are doing in Iraq compared to Germany (via Instapundit):
Six months after V-E Day, The New York Times reported that Germany was awash in "unrest and lawlessness." More than a million "displaced persons" roamed the country, many of them subsisting on criminal activities. The heavy-handed presence of American soldiers was deeply resented by many Germans, especially young men, who had come to believe that the G.I.s were stealing their women.
There were still a lot of rogue Nazis causing trouble. It took months for British investigators to determine that Adolf Hitler had killed himself, and many thought his hand could be detected behind the crime and violence. Worse, the attacks on soldiers, General Dwight D. Eisenhower warned, revealed a deeper resentment of the occupation: "The sentiments below them may provide popular rallying points for activities which might grow into organized resistance directed against the occupation forces."
Nobody in the army had expected to be thrust into the position of running a country, certainly not for months after the war ended. The army is "ill-fitted by training, experience and organization for civil government," wrote The New York Times, describing "confusion and chaos" in the leadership. Berlin still didn't have even its most rudimentary infrastructure running in its American-occupied quarter. "It is impossible to plan for the future and a little less difficult to act in the present," one senior U.S. officer complained.
The army wanted out, and the Germans wanted the American army out. But the White House was not prepared to let Germans run their own country, lest the terrorists take charge. "It is apparent that a long period of political organization and political education will be necessary before the German people can safely be entrusted with the complete control of their own government," Gen. Eisenhower said. It would be almost a year before any governing structure was established.
The Americans, desperate, asked allies to help. The French refused to get involved. The British, barely able to feed their own people, angrily accused Washington of being stingy, of enriching its own people while Germans starved.
Meanwhile, the world was outraged by the scenes of suffering and disorder coming from Germany. The people were going hungry: A report conducted in November,1945, indicated that 60 per cent of them weren't getting the bare ration of 1,550 calories per day (2,000 calories is generally considered a healthy minimum). The world waited for the president of the United States to announce a plan.
Could we all just put away the white surrender flags please? I swear the anti-war side is eager to just surrender to the thugs blowing up buildings in Iraq. War is sometimes difficult and defeats set us back. I might be a little more understanding of the critics if we faced real difficulties or if we had suffered any real defeats. The willingness to throw away the fruits of victory in a real war to protect ourselves just because we haven't completely pacified the country yet is disheartening.
We're doing fine. We're not in Vermont yet, but sheesh, have some patience.
"Strykers to Iraq" (Posted September 15, 2003)
A lot is riding on the Stryker Brigade's first tour in Iraq:
"The Stryker is ... uniquely controversial it's such a different idea," said Patrick Garrett, an analyst at Virginia-based "You've got people jumping up and down and screaming bloody murder over this, and you have people who are willing to let the Army try it and see what happens. And everyone will be watching to see how effective they are in Iraq."

The Stryker vehicles are intended to support a nimble, high-tech fighting force that can offer more firepower, battlefield intelligence and troop protection than a traditional light-infantry brigade equipped with thin-skinned Humvees.

And the Stryker vehicles, unlike cumbersome tank brigades, can be flown rather than shipped to hot spots around the world.
September 11, 2003: Although the U.S. Marines were quite pleased with the performance of their LAVs (wheeled armored vehicles) in Iraq, there is some doubt if the U.S. Army's new Stryker LAVs will do as well. The marines used their LAV battalions to move quickly to seize key objectives and provide rapid scouting and guarding of flanks. But the Stryker is over seven tons heavier than the marine LAV, and considered somewhat top heavy and more prone to breakdowns. There is also some concern about the way the Strykers are armored. For example, an area behind the wheel wells is unarmored, and vulnerable to bullets or shell fragments. The army is aware of these differences, and this may be one reason why they are eager to get at least one Stryker brigade to Iraq. There's nothing like a battlefield test to find out which problems are hypothetical and which are real. It's always been that way with new weapons, and this may be one reason why a Stryker brigade was not sent to Iraq for the heavy fighting. The current skirmishing with terrorists and irregulars will get far fewer Stryker troops killed if the dire predictions about Stryker performance turn out to be true.
Yes, a lot will be riding on the performance of the Stryker Brigade in Iraq when it deploys in October. It is supposed to test concepts for the Future Combat system while critics say it is just an expensive hunk of junk that doesn't fit on a C-130, can't travel off roads, and is too vulnerable to enemy fire.
I suspect we would have been better off using M-113 variants for the tracks and expense, but I think some of the complaints are off base. The Stryker can be destroyed? Well what armored fighting vehicle other than an M-1 (assuming it does not face top-attack rounds) isn't? Are the critics really saying M-113s can't be dispatched just as easily? The Stryker needs 15 minutes on the ground after it squeezes out of a C-130 in order to reattach protruding equipment that must be removed to put it inside? So what? If the situation at the airhead is so dire that Strykers need to fight their way down the ramp and out of the plane with guns blazing—well, we're screwed right there. Planes should not be landing if the airhead is that hot. I know the Army said this is a requirement, but seriously.
The concept of a medium brigade is fine with me. It can bridge the gap between paratroopers and heavy brigades. Whether the Stryker Brigade Combat Teams as currently established fit this bill, I don't know. If it is for peacekeeping, yeah, it might be good. Lots of mobile, protected infantry. But I am skeptical we need that much infantry with it otherwise. I'd rather see more Stryker gun systems and missile units for anti-tank work at the expense of mechanized infantry. As I've said, I've recently concluded that the Stryker Brigades make the most sense for a Taiwan scenario where we must rush help to stop a surprise Chinese parachute, amphibious, and missile assault on Taiwan designed to rapidly conquer the country. A small country with a good road net means they could fire brigade around trying to stomp Chinese light infantry holding air- and beachheads.
Remember too, when we assess the brigade in Iraq, that the Stryker is also supposed to simultaneously test concepts for the Future Combat System. Some of the expense of the vehicle is for preparing the Army to fight in a networked environment. So just buying LAVs that the Marines use wasn't in the cards. It would have been expensive to wire up those or M-113s too, although probably not nearly as expensive, as I understand it. On the experimentation issue, I am quite skeptical, as I say in a Military Review article from last year. I suspect we will find we really can't get power and lightness all at once.
Those Stryker lads are going to carry an awful lot on their shoulders—even aside from that little thing of stomping Baathist dead-enders and jihadists.
And keep in mind what we are doing here. We are taking a unit that has been made light in order to be able to rush it to an active battlefield when we do not have the luxury of time to ship in heavy armor. It is, as I noted above, a bridge between the paratroopers and heavy armor. So why are we even sending it to Iraq in a pre-planned rotation? We gave it the advantage of strategic mobility at the price of protection. This isn't a rush, people, and so it will suffer for its lightness while gaining us nothing for its strategic mobility.
My guess? The soldiers themselves will do just fine but the Stryker vehicles will be knocked out just like our armored Humvees are now. This is not a fair test of its capabilities for the scenarios for which it is intended.
"Pakistan" (Posted September 13)
Pakistan is a problem.
We needed Pakistan's help to nail the Taliban.
We nailed the Taliban.
Iraq is neutralized as a military threat.
Pakistan is continuing to destabilize India in Kashmir and is not-to say the least-helpful in Afghanistan. Until we can work freely in the Pakistan border areas we will be at a severe disadvantage in finishing off bin Laden.
Pakistan is not helpful in missile in nuclear proliferation.
Pakistan is not yet in the grips of the fundamentalists but important levers of power (the intelligence services in particular and the border wild west lands) are up to their eyeballs in Islamofascists. The dictatorship is not helping since it lets the Islamists pose as democrats.
We need a reckoning with Pakistan at some point soon. India will probably be helpful.
First Iran. Then Pakistan? I know North Korea is on the Axis of Evil but the threats in the Islamofascist realm are more important to deal with than the psycho regime in North Korea.
And keep Pakistani forces out of Iraq. Seriously. I would like to trust the Pakistanis since they were allies for a long time. But they have let the Islamist nutballs run loose in Pakistan and we can't trust them. I can't believe they have nukes.
What kind of contingency plan do we work up for this threat?
Did I mention this decade sucks?
"Combat Training for Non-combat Troops" (Posted September 13, 2003)
Recently, I wrote about my experience of minimal combat training as a signal soldier and the need to provide such soldiers with combat training that will cover likely combat situations. goes into this in an article on the inadequacy of any training for fighting by rear echelon types.. I have to say that I think the author's assertion that Army basic training has been co-ed since 1978 is off by at least a decade since I went to basic training in 1988 and it was not co-ed. And things are apparently much worse since we did focus on basic soldier skills. Lots of M-16 firing and cleaning. Lots of marching. Lots of chemical drills and Claymore mines and LAW firing (dry runs of course) and first aid and bayonet drills. We weren't infantry but at the end of basic we all felt like it. (Wrongly of course, but apparently a lot closer than current training provides.) It was appropriately tough.
Every MOS should have as part of it the basics of organizing self-defense, ambushes, overcoming roadblocks (as strategypage noted), and other likely combat scenarios. If we don't, we might as well hire civilian contractors for this stuff.
"Pending Dictatorship?" (Posted September 12, 2003)
I had reason to go to some left-wing web site and a brief review led me shocked that people intelligent enough to connect their PCs to the web and type actually believe that Bush is pushing us toward a dictatorship like Nazi Germany. I won't go into much but one "fact" that the dunderheads thought was proof positive that Bush is making the military loyal to him personally was the year-old directive that Bush is the only "commander-in-chief." I remember this, and it was only a clarification since at the time, American regional commanders were known as CINCs--commanders-in-chief. Rumsfeld thought it inappropriate and confusing when all lawful orders come from the commander-in-chief ultimately. A mundane thing taken as a link in the steady goose step to dictatorship. unfreakingbelievable.
"Tough on Iranian Nuclear Ambitions" (Posted September 12, 2003)
The IAEA gave Iran a deadline of October 31 to come clean on its nuclear programs. The Iranians are not happy. By God, I do believe we are dragging our allies along in finally isolating Iran. We're not there yet but if we can cut Iran off from the world, maybe we can tip them over the edge. Maybe the opposition will gain the courage to knock off the mullahs with the knowledge that the West will not let the mullahs get their bomb.
Iran has to be next to go. With an internal opposition that wants Iran to be free, we have an opportunity to put one in the win column without using our own troops. Promoting success in Iraq would be enhanced by knocking off this charter member of the Axis of Evil, too.
Speaking of Iraq, I read on some speculation that the so-called open borders with Syria and Saudi Arabia are not actually a weakness. I realize that the simplest explanation for the apparent infiltration of foreign jihadists is that we have failed to control the borders, but this is such a basic failure that the alternative explanation is attractive. Namely, that we are using our superb aerial surveillance tools to track just about every jihadist coming over the border and we are killing them. Advertising this would leave the jihadists in their home countries safe from our troops. Instead, we are letting them in to kill them. I must say, this possibility did not occur to me. It should have given that my first response to a report that we can't infiltrate al Qaeda was that we have in fact done so. And as I think about it, special forces are in charge of the areas in the southwest of Iraq facing Saudi Arabia. Hopefully, the silent warriors are doing lots away from the press.
I still believe lots is going on that we don't see. I've always believed that the war on terror would be mostly out of sight. It takes a lot of guts to take the public criticism for "doing nothing" while knowing that we are actually doing a lot.
Hope so.
Ugly accident in Iraq when US forces, with an assist by Jordanian security people, killed eight Iraqi security/police officers (their status is not clear). Of course, this type of incident is one reason I am wary of foreign troops replacing American and British troops. Even our well trained forces make mistakes. Other countries may not be as disciplined and ugly incidents could proliferate. I still think it is worth it to get some allied forces in Iraq so we are not manning so many checkpoints but we must be careful where we put them. And it is a risk-not the joyous symbol of internationalism that so many make foreign troops out to be. It is just a risk I think we must be willing to run under the circumstances. If we really are doing a lot in the shadows, I'll feel better about the risk.
"Another Good One" (Posted September 11, 2003)
James Lileks. He knows we are at war. His server was down so he didn't make it in earlier.
"Another Good Essay" (Posted September 11, 2003)
Lee Harris. On why it is impossible to say how we can prevent another 9-11 and why it is futile to play the blame game. As administration opponents scream that the President's course of action makes us less safe, it is tempting to retort "What did Clinton do?" That is a mistake. Yes, he—and the rest of us—made mistakes in our holiday from reality in the 1990s. But 9-11 was the fault of bin Laden and his enablers. Not America's wealth. Or President Clinton. Or anybody but the terrorists. The next attack—and it will come one day, whether in this administration or the Dean administration or the Kerry administration—will also be the fault of the terrorists. We just don't know what we need to do to stop another 9-11. Even the best strategy can let one 9-11 through just as the wrong strategy (or no strategy at all) could "succeed" for a few years or even decades. And a little less hatred among ourselves would surely help.
"Commentary on the War" (Posted September 11, 2003)
The best and worst I read today. In no particular order.
The best:
Victor Hanson. On what we've achieved in the last two years. We're doing great. Incredibly great as a matter of fact.
Ralph Peters. On how we—and not our enemies—can beat us. This does worry me. Too many of us do not think we are at war with an enemy that seeks our death.
Jim Hoagland. On what good diplomacy can do for us. As I've said, the military is only one small component of the larger war.
Mark Steyn. On the amazing success we have achieved and the equally amazing ability of the administration's foes to deny that success.
The worst:
Gwynne Dyer. On how the fact that we are winning against terror means we should stop fighting. Huh?
Jonathan Schell. On why it would be a good thing for America to pull out of Iraq in defeat. Is this what all the anti-war people really think? This shows why I distrust the criticism coming from the anti-war side.
Ted Rall. On why Bush is bad. Everything that happens is apparently a reason for a column on the badness of Bush. Actually, Ted Rall would have to be in a listing of the worst on any subject so I'm just being lazy here.
"Remember Why We Fight" (Posted September 11, 2003)
No nukes were used.
No bio weapons.
No dirty bomb.
No nerve gas.
Just box cutters.
And a hatred for us, our freedoms, and our prosperity.
And they did this to us. Three thousand of us were murdered. As far as the Islamofascist terrorists are concerned, this was just the beginning. They hoped to kill 50,000 if the World Trade Center came down quickly enough. God help us if we let them live long enough to get a nuclear device or one of the lesser weapons of mass destruction.
Remember why we are fighting terrorists and terrorist states.
But mostly, remember that even on that black day in 2001, we fought back. The passengers of the fourth plane did not let the terrorists complete their portion of the plan. The terrorists like to pretend that they are braver and think that we fight and win only because of our technology and wealth. But the passengers on that plane had no weapons, and no technology other than cell phones that let them know we were at war. Yet the Americans on that plane struck back and won our first victory with only their courage to sustain them. This was an important lesson for our enemies to see.
I want this day to be a yearly reminder that we are seeking out those who did this to us and those who cheered it and would inflict worse on us.
If you are interested, this is my original essay, written a few days after the assault, on the war that we started to wage on September 11, 2001. I think it still holds up pretty well.
Remember 9-11.
"The Western Front" (Posted September 10, 2003)
One of my biggest errors in predicting what would happen in the Iraq War was my belief that something big was going on in Jordan. I thought that the main armored effort would go west of the Euphrates and that a drive out of Jordan made more sense than an attack out of Kuwait where we had to commit the 101st AB Division to clearing cities along the supply line. We did not, of course, have a big armored force come out of Jordan.
But we did have a big special forces-led effort. From the invaluable (again) about the effort that began at the Jordanian airfield called H-5:
H-5's population quickly grew to some 6,000 troops, including pilots and ground crews for helicopters from SOCOMs 160th Aviation Regiment and an U.S. Air Force detachment, including several A-10 warplanes. There were also British and Australian commandoes and people from CIA, DIA (Defense Intelligence Agency) and NSA (National Security Agency). Jordan declared that foreign troops were not in the country. Jordan had backed Iraq during the 1991, and suffered greatly as a result. They were not going to make the same mistake twice, but they weren't going to antagonize Saddam's many fans in the Arab world by admitting they were allowing non-Moslem troops to operate against Iraq from bases in Jordan.
It quickly became apparent that Charlie Company was there to provide backup for the commando operations, and to guard base areas to be captured inside Iraq. And before the war officially began, Charlie Company rolled into Iraq in the middle of the night, along with Special Forces A Teams, commandos and assorted groups who preferred to remain unidentified. Working, usually at night, with aircraft, helicopters, satellites and UAVs overhead, the troops scoured western Iraq for missile launchers. On April 5th, Charlie Company came into possession of an Iraqi airbase, recently captured by U.S. Army Rangers, and turned it into a commando base. Called "H-1", the base was also a holding area for prisoners. Some of these were Iraqi, but many were not. Apparently these were al Qaeda. Charlie Company stood guard while the prisoners were questioned, and then flown to Saudi Arabia and, for some of the prisoners, Guantanamo, Cuba. Special Forces and commandos drove, or flew, in and out of H-1 as they eliminated all resistance in the desert that comprised the western third of Iraq. This operation was largely unknown, until foreign journalists, driving from Baghdad to Jordan in April, found that they had to get past Australian commandos manning roadblocks on the main highway. By May 5th, H-1 was closed and Charlie Company moved back to H-5 in Jordan, picked up their gear and were sent to Baghdad, where they provide security for key government buildings.
I've read bits on this but this was a nice summary in a piece otherwise focusing on one ARNG unit. And I did pick up well before the war that something was up in Jordan, so I've got that going for me.
Oh, and note the bit about al Qaeda prisoners. Guess our invasion didn't cause the scum to run to Iraq after all.
"North Korean Military Parade" (Posted September 10, 2003)
You know, I did wonder why the North Koreans didn't parade their armor and missiles. I wondered if they were keeping as much as they can forward deployed just in case. From
September 9, 2003: North Korea held it's annual parade to celebrate the establishment of the communist government. What was unusual about it this year was that there was no display of military equipment, just civilians and soldiers marching past the reviewing stand for 90 minutes. Some interpret this as a gesture to peace, others feel that the North Koreans are so short of fuel that they decided to save thousands of gallons by leaving out the drive by of tanks and missile launchers.
Yikes, some thought it a gesture of peace? Unbelievable. But the gasoline thing? That would put a crimp in their ability to threaten us, now wouldn't it?
"Mistakes" (Posted September 10, 2003)
As I alluded to below and as I have written before, criticism of the war effort is not treason or defeatism. Blind rah-rahing does our troops no good if it masks real problems that need to be fixed. But the criticism that Kennedy and others heap upon our war effort does not seem honest to me. I never get the sense that it is a debate over means to a good end that they engage in. They did not and do not think it was a good idea to invade Iraq and they are simply ignoring progress and in most cases sexing up ordinary problems into lies and defeat.
We have faced four main problems in Iraq that were not anticipated as the war ended. Given the many errors the anti-war side made in their predictions of doom, this isn't so bad.
One, we didn't expect the Islamists (unless you accept the flypaper strategy was intended and I do not believe it was deliberate) to bring fresh energy to resisting the post-war pacification. Baathists are sick bastards but their failure to fight to the end in the cities shows that self preservation means a lot to them. The Islamofascists are true dead-enders who will gladly die to fight us. Our problem is packing them off to the afterlife fast enough.
Two, we spent a lot of effort to get Iraqi army units to surrender or capitulate as units so we could use them for security under our watch. Instead, they discarded their weapons and uniforms and went home. Related, we did not expect the Iraqi civilian police to disintegrate. Without these forces immediately available, we had to press our troops into static and routine security duties that Iraqis should do. On this duty they are targets. We are putting Iraqis back in uniform and for the short term would like another division of foreign troops to relieve us. Plus, we always want to pull out our well-trained, high tech combat troops once the fighting ends and replace them with allied infantry and police. That's how we do it and Iraq is no exception.
Three, after assuming the oil fields could be torched and preparing to rush in to put out the flames over maybe two years, I think we thought we were lucky when only ten wells were torched. I get the feeling that we thought we could now get away with not priming the pump with our money and instead very quickly rely on oil revenue for reconstruction of Iraq. We are probably back to our original assumption that we will need time to rebuild the Iraqi oil infrastructure. Except now it is from neglect and not sabotage and we waited four months to start.
Fourth, in a related problem we actually aren't "reconstructing" Iraq as much as we are "constructing" it. We avoided attacking the civilian infrastructure in Iraq because we were looking to the post-war. Unfortunately, just refraining from destroying the infrastructure was not enough. It was run down and kept going with baling wire and duct tape and now we have to fix it all.
In my view, these were all reasonable errors. We have to change course to correct them but to portray them as defeat or lies is dishonest on the part of the critics. And we will face future problems. If we stand firm, we can solve them and win.
The war on terror will be long and I fear for our resolve when critics counsel surrender after so little time and when we are in fact winning.
"Winning in Iraq" (Posted September 10, 2003)
The President's request for $87 billion to support the troops in Iraq and to jump start the Iraqi economy and government has been met with a flurry of criticism by opponents of the war and those who want more troops. Ted Kennedy really takes the cake (and here I leave out the bilious rantings of Senator Byrd):
Sen. Edward M. Kennedy (D-Mass.) said he plans to introduce an amendment that would hold up future relief and reconstruction funds until Bush provides Congress with a report that includes a schedule for the withdrawal of foreign and U.S. troops and a definition of success.
Given the tremendous progress we have made already and the building wet dream that opponents like Kennedy are experiencing just yearning to relive their Vietnam protest days, I'd personally like to know just how Kennedy defines success. And since he thinks more troops are necessary, I'd kind of like to know when he would pull those additional troops out of Iraq.
The sheer silliness of such "demands" is hard to overstate.
As for "victory," since Kennedy doesn't recognize that we won the Iraq War and he can't distinguish between the obvious end of major combat against organized Iraqi military/paramilitary units and the post-conflict stabilization mission we are in now, how would he recognize victory?
As for withdrawing out troops, I see here the stirrings for an "exit strategy," that misbegotten term that substitutes for "victory" in the minds of so many. I do not want an exit strategy. I want to win. Let the foreign Islamists worry about an exit strategy. We should focus on killing them and keeping them out in the first place. We will be able to gradually withdraw troops and/or place them in garrison roles as the already low level of violence subsides. It was only in August after we abandoned the offensive against the insurgents that we suffered a spike in casualties in the Sunni triangle. So far this month, we went a week with no KIA. The opposition refuses to recognize the threat to our lives or admit the success we have achieved, and so in my mind forfeit any claim that they are criticizing to help us correct errors to win:
Sitting alongside Wolfowitz, Air Force Gen. Richard B. Myers, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, engaged in an unusual bit of rhetorical escalation about the stakes in Iraq and in the war on terrorism. "You may have to go back to the Civil War to find a time when the values that we hold dear have been threatened like they've been threatened today," Myers said.

At one point, Myers appeared to lecture the committee on the need for patience, commitment and willpower. "We've got to have the will to win," he said. "This is a battle of wills."

That statement drew a tart rebuke from Kennedy, among others. "General Myers, no one questions whether our troops possess the patience and the commitment and the will to win," Kennedy said. "We all assume that. The only question is whether the administration has a policy to stabilize Iraq. That's the issue."
Once again, Kennedy refused to see that it is his patience, commitment, and will to win that are in question—not our troops—as he pretends to have confidence in them. That is the issue.
When will we win? I wish the good senator from Massachusetts was as firm about defining when a government spending program "succeeds" and when we can end—or at least reduce—spending on that program. I wish we knew when we could stop naming West Virginia rest stops and outhouses after Senator Byrd. On a more serious note, I wish we knew when we could finish the one-year troop commitment in Bosnia that President Clinton assured us was all we needed when our troops rolled in at the end of 1995.
I don't know when we will finally defeat the Islamists and Baathists in Iraq for sure. Nobody can know. But we'll lose it for sure (and I did say we could still lose this post-war phase back after we won the war) if our so-called leaders in Congress insist we are losing when we are not, and if they get their "exit strategy."
We leave when we win. Period.
"Turks to the West" (Posted September 9, 2003)
The issue of Turkish troops in Iraq is possible despite Kurdish worries:
BAGHDAD, Iraq - Iraq (news - web sites)'s acting president would welcome up to 10,000 Turkish peacekeepers if they are sent under a U.N. resolution and deploy in the far west of the country away from Kurdish territory, his spokesman said Tuesday.
As I noted, it just depends on where they are sent and the Iraqis (at least the acting Iraqi president) could live with Turkish troops in the west away from Kurdish areas.
Add in an Indian-led division in the more populated areas and we may have more foreign troops than we've said we want. Maybe we're low-balling to enhance the whole international flavor once the troops are committed.
Of course, this all depends on facing down any Euro blackmail on the authorizing resolution that would deprive the Coalition of effective control in Iraq.
"Remembering 9-11" (Posted September 9, 2003)
The second anniversary of September 11 is almost here. Almost two years have passed without another 9-11 and with two hideous regimes pulled down and the vicious terrorists running—desperate to strike at us (or anyone for that matter).
I am still angry.
I have to work at it sometimes as our life has apparently gotten back to normal. But I never forget we are at war and that our troops still fight and die to protect us. I do not forget that we are still all at risk. When I think hard I can still vividly recall the disbelief and shock at the first news of the impacts on the Twin Towers. The hopeful belief that surely those towers can't come down even under such a terrible assault, right? The stunned feeling of hearing the Pentagon was struck and the worry over the missing plane (or did they say two?)and where it might be going. I can still hear the horrific thuds of bodies slamming into the ground as desperate people gained a minute or two more of life by flinging themselves from their trapped and burning offices above the impact points. (or I think I remember this, anyway. Did the news record this?) I remember the shock of the towers coming down and the worry that our President might be a target too. I remember the disgust at reports of joy in some Moslem communities. I remember all this rapidly turning to rage and a determination that our enemies must die and pay for this outrageous act of war on our people. There was no doubt that we were at war from that moment on. Even now, the tears of sorrow and anger can be called up. Even now I cannot understand those who do not see that we are at war with an enemy that would kill every one of us if it were within their power.
Christopher Hitchens (via NRO) says he does not want the weepy commemoration or flag waving on this day:
What is required is a steady, unostentatious stoicism, made up out of absolute, cold hatred and contempt for the aggressors, and complete determination that their defeat will be utter and shameful. This doesn't require drum rolls or bagpipes or banners. The French had a saying during the period when the provinces of Alsace and Lorraine were lost to them: "Always think of it. Never speak of it." (Yes, Virginia, we can learn things from the French, even if not from Monsieur Chirac.)
Far be it from me to criticize a French saying, but what exactly did this get the French? The French lost the two provinces in the Franco-Prussian War and for nearly fifty years the Germans ruled them. France regained them only after the Germans foolishly attacked in 1914 and even more foolishly lost in 1918. The French offensive in 1914 to regain the provinces was an expensive failure and nearly cost the French the war as they focused almost exclusively eastward while the Germans swept through Belgium and northern France almost to the gates of Paris itself.
For fifty years, thinking always but not speaking of their loss got them nothing. The thinking kept the loss alive but failing to speak let the French government do nothing to reclaim the land. To be fair, there was probably nothing the French government could have done, but we can—and are—doing something about our loss of 9-11.
This should not be a day of mourning, with a Dianneified weepiness. Yes, on this day remember our dead of 9-11, but mostly it should be day for remembering our troops who carry our flag to distant corners of the globe to crush our enemies. We cannot focus too narrowly on just the perpetrators of 9-11 while other enemies seek to kill us. This is why we overthrew Saddam and this is why we have more enemies to deal with before we can say we have won.
September 11, 2003 should be a day to anticipate the recovery of our peaceful 9-10 world. So I say wave flags. Remember the 3,000 dead we lost that day and the hundreds we lost in Afghanistan and Iraq and elsewhere in our war. And by all means speak loudly about making sure we do not face a nuclear or biological 9-11. I'm sure as Hell not willing to wait fifty years for the day that we can live in security again. Kill the bastards who did this to us. Make sure no new ones arise.
"Iraq Calm" (Posted September 8, 2003)
So what gives? The report says, "For the seventh day in a row, the U.S. military reported no combat deaths Monday — a rare period of calm."
After we changed strategy in Iraq in early August and stopped our offensives in the Sunni triangle, our casualties mounted. Not Army-breaking levels, but noticeable. Now, after we changed again to go back on the offensive (but with more focused strikes in the Sunni triangle) our casualties dry up? Are we back to rocking them on their heels? Did the attackers burn themselves up in their August attacks that inflicted a good chunk of casualties? <sarcasm>Did we double our troop strength while I wasn't looking? Because that's the only way to end the attacks, right?</sarcasm>
Of course, body counts are not the measure of whether we are winning. If they were, we'd have won Vietnam and the Battle of Mogadishu. (and lost the Civil War for that matter) I swear to God this will send me over the edge, but opponents of the war are demanding an "exit strategy." Lord help us. If they wanted us to win, they'd ask "how are we going to win." No, they want an exit strategy. A strategy that in essence assumes our defeat and only asks that we plan it properly so we don't have to evacuate US dependents from the roof of the Baghdad embassy at the last moment. Exit strategy, indeed. We need to win this and the body count mentality won't help us. Nonetheless, a lull gives us time to win where it counts—setting up a secure and free Iraq—without the near-daily press pronouncements on our battle deaths and the development of the dearly hoped for "quagmire." I'd rather have a press capable of perspective and patience but that's not going to happen.
Too early for a trend but after three weeks of heavier losses, I'll be happy for the moment. I will eagerly watch the news for explanations.
"WIA" (Posted September 8, 2003) put our KIA in the Iraq War at 14%. I had figured 10% so my 9 wounded for every one death assumption was off by a good mark. Say 6:1. Oh, and the 260 KIA I cited should be lower: I believe that number includes non-combat deaths. Still, our post-major combat operations WIA numbers should not be a shock to anybody.
"Foreign Troops in Iraq" (Posted September 8, 2003)
Certainly, Moslem troops do not guarantee success in Iraq:
Shiite Iraqis in particular are acutely conscious that their Arab and Muslim brethren didn't support the war against Saddam. Indeed, Iraqis watched on Arab satellite television with bitter enmity and black humor the antiwar demonstrations throughout the Middle East (and in Europe).
But I do want Americans off of static guard posts and routine presence patrols. Until we can stand up enough Iraqis to do the job, I welcome foreign Moslem troops as long as we consider local feelings and recognize that Moslems are not interchangeable. Turks, for example, should not be in the Kurdish zones or the Shia zones. The Turks are former colonial masters and this would look like pre-World War I all over. But, placing Turks to patrol the border with Syria in largely Sunni areas would be pretty nice. The Sunnis are hostile to us anyway and as the author notes, would fear them more. Plus, the Syrians might take controlling their border a little more seriously if the Turks were facing Syria on two fronts. Pakistanis may do more harm than good—they once guarded the Saudis who are not exactly kissing cousins of the Iraqis and they may be too infected with radical ideas from the Afghanistan frontier.
And for all the hand wringing about going to the UN, we aren't talking about a lot of people here. Maybe another 20,000 foreign soldiers, thus keeping this an American operation. If we incorporate foreign elements wisely into our plan rather than abdicating to the UN, this will work out just fine. We've always needed to get low-tech allies to take over routine security functions after we win the war. We went in heavy in Bosnia and Kosovo only to scale back in favor of allies for numbers. We must do the same in Iraq. With American troops on the offensive against the Sunni resistance, we will eventually be able to scale back our troops as the resistance fades.
So we can focus on that mission and get our guys off the ramparts, we need low-tech allied infantry for security operations. The complete collapse of Iraqi security forces when we hoped that we could keep them in place and weed out Baathists has caused a short-term problem. This has been exacerbated by the release of tens of thousands of common criminals by Saddam prior to the war. Even in dictatorial Iraq, murders, thieves, kidnappers, and rapists were imprisoned and deserved to be jailed. I dare say if we emptied our prisons while dismissing all the local police, our security situation would look pretty bad too.
It is not defeat to get cover from the UN for foreign help. As long as we are prepared to walk away from a bad deal, there is no harm. At worst, the negotiations may get us over the bad part until stability becomes more apparent and the people who want more US troops settle down from their panic.
We don't need more US troops and an increase in foreign troops is not a suicide pact if they fit in to our plans. And we do have a plan. It involves security, building utilities infrastructures, creating an economy, and building democracy and rule of law in Iraq. This will take time—and money. It does not take more US troops. It also takes some patience to see this through to final victory. As the President said Sunday night:
Two years ago, I told the Congress and the country that the war on terror would be a lengthy war, a different kind of war, fought on many fronts in many places. Iraq is now the central front. Enemies of freedom are making a desperate stand there -- and there they must be defeated. This will take time and require sacrifice. Yet we will do what is necessary, we will spend what is necessary, to achieve this essential victory in the war on terror, to promote freedom and to make our own nation more secure.
The President and the rest of the administration need to speak to this more often.
"Excuse Me? They Want What?" (Posted September 7, 2003)
The French and Germans are upset about our draft UN resolution because it fails to specify a timetable for the Iraqi people to assume control of their government?
France and Germany, which opposed the war on Iraq, are conditioning their approval of the resolution on a more rapid transition of power from the Governing Council to a new government elected by Iraqis.
Given that the Axis of Weasels were perfectly content to see Saddam Hussein stay in power indefinitely until he died a peaceful death in his own bed and passed on power to his sons, how dare they pretend they care when the Iraqi people are in charge? Are they seriously arguing that our rule in the short run is worse than the Ba'ath party's long reign of terror?
Now, I know that the Germans and French continue to help us in Afghanistan and Africa and in many other ways in the war on terror. I do appreciate that help. If they do not want to help in Iraq that is their right. What I did not and do not forgive is their decision to work against us on the Iraq question. They went far beyond simply opting out and actively opposed a move we deemed vital to our national interest. So while I thank them for the help they do give, I do not forgive them for the opposition they still exert. And they still are opposing us on Iraq. That is unforgivable. And quite hypocritical.
It is also interesting that Kofi Annan wants to meet with the UNSC permanent members to resolve the Iraq resolution questions. I think this shows we went to Liberia in order to get a UN resolution on Iraq.
"Iraqi WMD Evidence?" (Posted September 5, 2003)
I have never doubted that preventing Saddam from getting WMD was a good reason to invade Iraq. I have wondered why our intelligence thought Saddam had chemical weapons in firing condition on the eve of invasion. I want to know what happened. But Saddam was determined to have bugs, chemicals , and nukes and it is a relief that he is in some safehouse in Texas-I mean Tikrit. (Saddam really doesn't like the American redistricting plan for Iraq)
I hear that we will have a WMD report soon. I imagine it will be good. I say this because as I think about it, ever since Kay briefed American Congressional leaders back in July (?), Congressional opponents to the war have stopped complaining about the lack of WMD evidence. They still complain, mind you, but it is as if they were briefed, said, "well this line won't go well when this evidence is presented," and then went on to other imagined sins and omissions.
Sure hope so.
"We Go to the UN-Again" (Posted September 5, 2003)
I keep hearing that our going to the UN for a resolution in order to give countries some cover to send troops to Iraq or otherwise help us is supposed to be a surrender, or groveling, or an admission of our "failed" strategy. Why?
All along, I have premised American conventional wars in the war on terror as those that we largely wage, with some help from allies, and then we turn over most of the peacekeeping duties to friends. This recognizes that few allies can stand next to us on the battlefield and not just get in the way. We must carry the burden in conventional war (other than Korea). But peacekeeping can be done by any well-trained soldier. And if the environment is benign enough, even not-so-well-trained soldiers won't screw up badly enough to harm us. I wanted this pattern for the Iraq War.
The problem is, we counted on having Iraqis for the peacekeeping. We spent a lot of effort wooing Iraqi regular army commanders prior to the war in the hope that they would defect with their units. Had this worked out, we would have had several divisions of Iraqi regulars to reform into light infantry battalions for security work. As it turns out, the regulars mostly evaporated and went home. Although we are training up Iraqis in security units, border units, police, civil defense, and a new army, we don't have enough yet. So, as a result, American units are being used as guards and getting shot up. Not a lot. But more than we want. We'd rather have our troops on the offensive (and thankfully we are going back on the offensive after calling it quits in early August when we thought we'd won after two months of ripping up the opposition in the Sunni triangle).
As long as we do not give up any meaningful control over military, economic, or political matters I see no harm in pushing for a new UN resolution. I imagine Kofi Anan will help since we probably paid for his backing by spearheading the Liberia intervention with a Marine Expeditionary Unit.
As long as we are willing to walk away if the French and Germans try to make the price too high. There are things worse than not getting UN backing and more help from other countries.
"Patriotic Iraqis?" (Posted September 4, 2003)
When Americans display patriotism, the anti-war left likes to say that patriotism is the last refuge of a scoundrel. When some Iraqis resist our troops and kill them and Jordanians and UN workers and other Iraqis, the lunatics like Ted Rall and his ilk proclaim the Iraqis as proud patriots resisting a foreign invasion.
Well here's the face of that Iraqi resistance, a bomb-maker who died while building a bomb:
Dayikh's life and, perhaps more telling, his death provide a glimpse into the obscure world of the campaign against U.S. troops occupying Iraq -- of the interplay between crime and resistance, of the fear that still prevails in the parts of Baghdad where the U.S. presence and police are rarely seen, and of the anger that the lawlessness breeds.

A known criminal, suspected guerrilla and most likely both, Dayikh lived on the fringes of Baghdad's underworld, where residents say U.S. officials and their Iraqi allies are unprepared and ill-equipped to face resistance that has persisted for months.
Remember all those prisoners Saddam released before the war? They're still there. Getting Iraqi police, security, and courts up and running is another measure needed to end the unrest in the Sunni triangle.
Don't hold your breath waiting for Johnny Depp to call them scoundrels.
"Casualty Aversion and Casualties" (Posted September 4, 2003)
Ok, I wrote that August was a bad month for us—here's why, via Instapundit:
On August 6, Lt. Gen. Ricardo Sanchez announced that the military would dramatically cut back its aggressive operations because of a perception that the rate of return had peaked; militant attacks were declining. Further raids, one newspaper warned, "could unintentionally be creating a reservoir of support for the insurgents or even spurring revenge attacks by ordinary citizens."
I thought we were continuing with our offensive actions but apparently not. We screwed up. We had been knocking the bastards back on their heels and we decided to stop:
June and July were very good months for US forces in Iraq. Over just six weeks of aggressive fighting the US detained thousands of suspected Iraqi militants in hundreds of military raids. The Sunni triangle was shrinking. At the height of the new offensive militant attacks against US forces had been cut in half. By early August several days in a row passed without the loss of single US soldier in combat -- a seemingly inconsequential but notable feat.
I'll be generous and say our generals thought we had beaten them and didn't want to alienate the winnable public by bouncing rubble for no good effect. I hope the story I linked to earlier about smaller and more targeted raids is a recognition that we need to get back on the offensive and yet still avoid the large dragnets that—to be fair—could alienate people who could be won over. Although the article notes that Ralph Peters rightly said that we should not worry about alienating people who are already actively hostile to us, we need better intelligence to show us who wants to get on with their live in a new Iraq even in the Sunni triangle of resistance. If we can map this, we can be massive in resistance areas and focused in wavering areas.
But the key is never letting up until we are sure we won. Were we going into a casualty avoidance mode? Sure looks like it. And see what we got? More casualties. We were winning without the extra US troops that so many say we need now. If we add more and keep the same defensive strategy, we will simply provide more targets.
Bottom line: we don't need more troops, just the proper strategy again. The way to end casualties is to win the war. Focus on the objective here and casualties will go down.
"UN Mandate" (Posted September 3, 2003)
The US will seek a UN mandate to provide cover for other countries to contribute troops to Iraq. As long as the US remains in charge of security and largely in control of the economic and political side as well, no problem. I've always wanted us to get our troops disentangled from peacekeeping duties as soon as possible. Plus it is good to have other countries with an interest in success instead of sniping at us.
US troops will need to remain in Iraq for years to come, but by early 2005 they could well be garrison troops available for use as our Germany-based troops are and not actively engaged in operations.
"Our Enemies and Our Friends" (Posted September 3, 2003)
Via Instapundit, a review of a book by an Algerian who infiltrated the Islamists in France:
By their very nature [the Islamists, not the French], their grievances against the world can never be removed, and they are capable of pretty well anything.
He also says that Britain is the real home of the brains of the Islamists and not France, so this isn't an exercise in French bashing. Still, will the French, British, and Europeans (and what the heck, the Blue state people over here) wake up to what we are fighting? That we are fighting?
Sifaoui's book has sold 60,000 copies in France. It is to be hoped that its readers include President Chirac and his Foreign Minister, Dominique de Villepin, and that the book will have had an educative effect on French thinking, though I wouldn't bet on it. The French book L'Effoyable Imposture (The Dreadful Fraud), which claimed that the 11 September attack was the work of the Jews and the CIA, sold over 100,000.
The sad thing is that those who keep seeking the "root cause" of terror always point to America as the guilty party. The truth is, we must kill them because their grievances are with who we are and not what we do. Worse, the source of their grievances lies within their twisted minds.
As for those who say we failed to engage our allies in the war on terror by going after Saddam and losing our focus and allies, what in the European outlook—as represented by France in this book review—provides us with any hope that they could see this as a fight for civilization even if we were UN-worshipping multilateralists?
I hope it isn't just America and a few others in a band of brothers facing our foes. But even if is our fight alone, we must still fight.
"Saudis Quietly Fighting" (Posted September 3, 2003)
The Saudis, since May 12 when they experienced their own serious terror attacks, have been vigorously but quietly going after the Islamists in their own country. From
Meanwhile, there are raids and gun battles nearly every day in Saudi Arabia. Most of these incidents never make the press. Unless you are plugged into the SINN (Saudi Informal News Network), you'd never know that one of the most active theaters of the War on Terror is Saudi Arabia.
This doesn't mean that we and the Saudis are on the same page here. But for now, let the Saudis fight since it serves our interests. In time, when the Saudi security forces beat down the Islamists, we can decide what we need to do about Saudi Arabia if they are still a force for radical Islam.
Of course, Congress and the press can still whack at the Saudi government. I'm always of two minds on this. The Senators know that the Saudis are doing more yet criticize them for doing "nothing." This seems completely self serving and dishonest. On the other hand, it has always been a useful bargaining tool for a president to be able to say to a foreign government, "Look, you have to do something—you know I wouldn't press you on this since I know your good intentions—but if you don't cough up results I don't know if I can restrain Congress from passing a law that will really tie my hands."
Bottom line: I won't complain about Saudi Arabia for now or the President's handling of this. The Saudi government as it presently is constituted is a long-term problem for us. In the short term, they are acting in our interests on the terror front in the Gulf.
Meanwhile, the mullahs of Iran must go.
"What's Next?" (Posted September 3, 2003)
There seems to be a general unease that we are failing to maintain the initiative in the war on terror and that we must strike anew. Even supporters of the war are arguing that we are spinning our wheels in Iraq and should devote more troops to the fight.
There seems to be three components: 1) We have failed to maintain momentum and need to resume the offensive; 2) Who do we target to regain the momentum?; and 3) What do we do to that target?
First of all, questioning the conduct of the war is not treason. We want to fight this right and so must offer criticisms. Yet we don't want to undermine troop morale, too. This is always a difficult balancing act that is easier when you trust the motives of the person doing the criticizing. I freely admit that I do not trust many who offer criticism—and who have since September 12, 2001 criticized every action we've taken in our defense.
But back to the questions at hand.
In regard to the first question, after two wars in two years I do not think we have the freedom to jump to new wars quickly. This is not World War II where the soldiers are in for the duration and you can jump troops, after resting and regrouping, on to the next campaign as strategy dictates. Our troops are volunteers and can leave if over-committed. Plus, our base active duty strength is still at peacetime levels with reserves mobilized for a year or two only. Sure, we can keep mobilizing different reservists but our basic military is still sized for a time before 9-11 that too many thought would have little to challenge our troops other than peacekeeping until China became a peer competitor. And mobilizing reservists too often will cause these volunteers to leave also.
Plus, we are a democracy and we just cannot embark on endless wars as if conducting a war college exercise. Unless bombs start going off on our buses and malls, we need reasons that convince the people to go to war. As much as I think the war on terror is critical to preserving our security, in one important way these campaigns are "luxury" wars. That is, we have the power to reach out and try to forestall threats before they reach our shores. We have chosen to do so. This military capability weakens the ability to make the case for war, as the time passing since 9-11 shows. And given the difficulties of persuading majorities that even the Afghanistan and Iraq campaigns were justified, this is a real problem.
Nor is the sheer wear and tear on a peacetime military's equipment and ammunition stocks irrelevant. Part of the pause is caused by having a military that will be strained to fight one war at the moment and we have no idea if we have the luxury of choosing who the enemy will be. If we choose wrong and find ourselves with two wars on top of ongoing duties in Iraq, Afghanistan, the Balkans, and Sinai, we are screwed.
The second question of who to target is complicated by the motives of those who make the suggestion. Some, who insist that the Israel-Palestinian conflict is paramount, would probably do nothing anywhere else until this problem is solved. Good luck. Others argue that North Korea is the priority although few of those who argued for North Korea first prior to the Iraq War still seem to be in this camp. Others argue that we must completely pacify Iraq. But many of these argued we had to pacify and rebuild Afghanistan first before even thinking about attacking Iraq. Some who argue for more troops and money for Iraq supported the war and are uncomfortable about the failure to quickly pacify Iraq. Others opposed the war to begin with and so I'm not sure what the motivation is. Others say Iran must go. Others say Syria. Others, Saudi Arabia. Some think that the war on al Qaeda trumps all else and we should do nothing until this is finished.
The "what do we do to whatever target we choose" third question is quite varied depending on the target chosen. Suggestions? Getting "tough" with Saudi Arabia. Making Pakistan shut down their border areas. Invading North Korea. Bombing North Korea. Threatening Syria. Squeezing North Korea. Appeasing North Korea. Supporting government "moderates" in Iran. Supporting democrats in Iran. Revitalizing our alliances to go after bin Laden thoroughly. Pouring money into Afghanistan or Iraq for rebuilding. Turning to the UN to take over Afghanistan or Iraq. Sending in more US and/or UN troops to Afghanistan or Iraq.
So many questions.
I've been thinking about the questions and I conclude there is no "next." All of the "nexts" that one group or another supports as problem number one must be dealt with. The biggest problem is our stretched military, the Army especially. It is in our interest to avoid another war in the next two years in order to maximize the fear that we will choose a target. Once we commit to a new war, we are toothless short of nukes (Or punishing aerial bombardments that leave our enemies to choose when they've endured enough—or not. And then what do we do?) until the war is won.
So, as a result, we simply cannot afford go to war preemptively against North Korea to solve this problem. And lesser military options are pointless. Air and missile strikes cannot disarm Pyongyang and practically speaking we can't mass enough troops to invade without provoking a North Korean invasion of the South before we get set. This sets aside getting South Korean and Japanese cooperation to invade—no small matters. If we do start to deploy and North Korea attacks, how will South Korea's morale hold up if they believe we "provoked" the war? The O'Hanlon strategy of buying them off should be out of bounds, too, I should hope. We should probably pass some word to the North Koreans that we will not invade—as the UN charter provides—as long as they keep their nukes to themselves. We should intercept their ships at sea and send spooks and special forces to fight in the shadows against proliferation.
We should go to full containment mode. If our allies want to send some aid to the North out of fear of being targeted, so be it. I doubt it will be enough to save the regime. If the Soviet Union could be brought down, so too can North Korea. Missile defense will protect us, and our allies will face the greatest danger of living with a psycho state in their midst. Do I like containing a nutjob North Korea with scores of nukes? Hell no. Yes, North Korea is a charter member of the Axis of Evil, but they are not Islamofascists. The idea of fighting a war that will be very expensive in lives, money, and time when North Korea is "only" the potential atomic armer of Islamic terrorism seems folly. Such a war will damage our military even as we win it to the point where we will be years away from rebuilding our military for any other threats. Plus, I do believe that North Korea is brittle and could collapse at any time under some careful pressure from us. Heck, it might not take any pressure at all.
Remember what we want—no North Korean arms to terrorists or terrorist states. If our allies in the region don't mind a nuclear-armed North Korea enough to do something about it, who are we to make them care? Maybe our allies will stiffen if they see we are not too worried about them getting nuked if they don't care about our security needs. In addition, unlike the Gulf region where we can only count on the British and Australians to pitch in (and total maybe 10% of ground forces), in Northeast Asia, we have powerful allies who would fight alongside us there in case of war and provide the bulk of ground forces. I'd rather run the risk of letting our enemy strike first there than elsewhere where we are mostly alone.
This basic choice for strong containment frees our military (barring a North Korean decision to attack the Republic of Korea, of course) to focus on the arc of crisis from West Africa to Central Asia and down to Indonesia. This is where the war on terror must be won. There are a number of targets here.
Saudi responsibility for funding the rise of Wahabbi (you know, it might be "Wahhabi" but I don't care enough to look it up—never have) fanaticism and their complicity in its support today is undeniable. Still, they feel under attack by the fanatics more today than they did two years ago. Sadly, their position atop the largest single oil spigot on the planet argues for extreme caution in the short run. With the Iraq War won, we can afford to squeeze the Saudis for cooperation more and their survival instincts will probably not lead them to cut back on oil production too much since they need the cash to survive. Personally, I'd sink oil wells right through Alaska Caribou to add to the total supply. If you feel like requiring SUV mileage targets, fine. Supply and demand as they say. Just lessen Saudi leverage. In the long run maybe a Shia revolt will be to our advantage if it strips the oil producing east coast away from the Wahabbis in the interior Islamic holy places. Or we do what we at least thought about in the late 1970s—invade Saudi Arabia and take over the oil fields and put the Shias in charge. All this assumes we manage to get Shias friendly to us by our success in Iraq and Iran, of course.
Iran needs to be the focus of our efforts with the military held in reserve as the hammer should it be needed. I fall back on my gut feeling that it is better to stop a state without nukes from getting their first than to stop a state with 3 nukes from getting their 4th—or even fiftieth. We need a full court press on the mullahs with support for the dissidents in Iran. I had hoped that the Iraq War would inspire the people of Iran but the mullahs were thorough in suppressing dissent with terror and intimidation. We are not about to get lucky, here. Screw the State Department. There are no moderates in the Iranian government who might help. Our support should be open as well as covert. And it should begin yesterday. We need time to successfully carry out a Poland Solidarity strategy and we need to see if it can work before Tehran gets nukes. If the regime change strategy fails, we will need to go military.
Syria is a problem that is probably vulnerable to serious economic warfare. Without Iraqi money, they have nothing but drugs from Lebanon to earn cash. The government rests on a tiny Alawite base of support that most Moslems consider heretical and not really Moslem. We need Turkey and Israel on board to squeeze them. The Syrian people could use some relief from dictatorship, God knows.
Afghanistan must be pacified and the economy improved. As I've written, I am worried that the Taliban have massed to attack recently. Break them up. I still don't think we should add more troops as this will make it seem like a foreign occupation and strengthen Taliban arguments. This will be slow as we build up an effective Afghan government that is a confederation rather than a unitary state ruled from the center—which the periphery would oppose in any case.
Iraq should be transitioned to Iraqi and foreign troops for routine security while we focus our special forces and troops, in smaller numbers over time, on targeted operations designed to kill and capture the terrorists. Iraqis (properly de-Baathified) need to take over running their country as soon as possible. No influx of US troops but more money to fix the infrastructure would be welcome.
Pakistan needs to be nudged toward democracy before the Islamofascist whackjobs there get to portray themselves as true democrats out to overthrow the corrupt dictatorship. In the short term it may have been necessary to keep things quiet there while we took down Saddam, but support for Musharraf hasn't bought us an end to the Pakistan sanctuary for the Taliban and al Qaeda. If Pakistan goes nutso, India will probably have something to say about it. We wouldn't be alone. I'd rather have Pakistan friendly but I don't see what that friendship is buying us in Afghanistan. I could easily be wrong, I concede.
The Palestinian question? Don't know. I don't blog on this since it is a subject one could exclusively write about. I am not optimistic about solving this problem. And everyone gets upset no matter what you write. It has been a problem for so long that opinions are set in stone. I don't need that headache. Israel is our friend and a democracy. Palestinians surely have the right to their own viable state. Yet Palestinian terror tactics have ripped away sympathy I had for them in the short run. Israel may torque me off sometimes but there is no comparison in my mind here. Whatever else one might say, requiring this problem be solved first before anything else is a recipe for failure. I'm not convinced there is any way to slice the Gordian knot on this one—muddling through may be all we can do. Besides, we'll be blamed for whatever we decide is the "solution" anyway.
The war against al Qaeda is a police and intelligence fight now, for the most part. The idea that we have to put our military machine on hold when their role is fairly small in this fight (just about 10,000 troops in Afghanistan) is just silly to me. And our allies are cooperating just fine on this manner. Charges that we have lost focus by going after Iraq are silly.
So for what it is worth, this is what I have settled on as the course for the major actors in this. I'll have to mull these conclusions in the months ahead as events unfold.
Did I mention this decade sucks? (not to sound pessimistic—I think we are winning)
"Casualties" (Posted September 2, 2003)
In addition to the deaths in combat that we are suffering at a rate of one every other day, or so, we are suffering wounded. The Washington Post article says:
But alongside those Americans killed in action, an even greater toll of battlefield wounded continues unabated, with an increasing number being injured through small-arms fire, rocket-propelled grenades, remote-controlled mines and what the Pentagon refers to as "improvised explosive devices."
Given our medical and protective technology, I assumed a number of wounded even without reports. I'd have been shocked to find few wounded. Especially since other reports say we are hammering the resistance and inflicting heavy losses. The article says we suffered an average of ten a day in August and says that last week, 55 were wounded. That's eight a day so I'm not sure what the trend lines are recently. Overall, since May 1, we lost 574 WIA. Since August 1, we've suffered 297 WIA (during major combat operations we suffered 550 WIA). August has clearly been a bad month.
Still, I am torn between viewing this news as just what one would expect and is only disheartening to see it in print or is it a real problem that we are not addressing. I tend to the former. Building up Iraqi police, a reformed army, local militias, economic opportunities, more secure utilities, and local government will all make things better as we press forward.
I do not want to see something like this used to argue for more US troops sent to Iraq to drive around on patrols or stand guard for no purpose just to become targets. More troops also mean more supply convoys and hence more targets. RPGs, IEDs, and remote-controlled mines are all best used against road-bound forces. Keep the special forces and regulars going after the guerrillas and terrorists at our initiative and get Iraqis and foreign troops on guard duty and patrols. And we are getting better at the offensives. I never liked the big operations that swept up innocents in a dragnet:
The new approach reflects the views of senior commanders that the American military's large sweeps that sometimes rounded up several hundred ordinary Iraqis were alienating the public. At the same time, officials said, Iraqis are providing more and better information about suspected supporters of Mr. Hussein that has enabled the military to plan raids that are better focused on specific targets.
As to American WIA, I'm not upset that such numbers are not announced. As I said, if you have half a brain, you know that when we lose one dead, there are probably up to 9 wounded too. Actually, if I'd stopped to calculate what I would have expected, our actual WIA are lower. With about 260 KIA, I'd have expected perhaps 2,340 WIA—twice our actual count. Apparently, with less exposure to artillery shrapnel and small arms relatively speaking, and bigger explosions, we're losing more KIA.
When asked, the military told the WIA totals, so it is no secret. However, we do not want a body count mentality to develop to show who is "winning." Advertise ours and the tendency will be to advertise their losses too. Then, we will either emphasize enemy bodies to up their side of the equation or emphasize combat avoidance to lower our losses. That is no way to win.
Upsetting to read? You bet. But since I thought we were winning when I only knew that theoretically we were suffering WIA, knowing we are suffering X number of WIA does not change my assessment. We are slowly winning. We must win.
"China 'Reduces' Its Military" (Posted September 1, 2003)
China is cutting 200,000 soldiers, but will likely transfer them to the People's Armed Police. This PAP has absorbed all the simple leg infantry units that have been 'cut' from the PLA. Now 1 million strong, the PAP has all those old infantry units that can now be focused on defeating the people of China should they decide the corrupt elite in Peking should go.
On top of Desert Storm, and the Kosovo air war, the recent Iraq War has deeply impressed the Chinese military that high technology is indeed key to warfare. Shunting infantry to the PAP should allow the military budget to focus on modernization. Rest assured however that Taiwan has not strayed from the communist dictatorship's minds:
Western military analysts said the PLA would still be designed and able to reclaim Taiwan, or at least be daunting enough to prevent the self-ruled island, which Beijing considers a renegade province, declaring independence.

Everything is focused on Taiwan," said a Western diplomat.
Power projection forces to envelop and capture Taiwan and simultaneously ward off American forces-primarily our carrier battle groups-from intervening.
And remember that everything is focused on Taiwan when you think that the Chinese in Peking are reasonable and unwilling to risk their positions on war. Au contraire, they stake their rule on reclaiming Taiwan.
"We Do the Impossible" (Posted September 1, 2003)
We should all be very impressed. According to critics of the war who continue to seek ways to restart the "should we go to war" debate, we created the Islamic fundamentalist-Baathist alliance that appears to be working in Iraq. "Alliance" is of course too strong a word, but you get the idea. How we did this when the anti-war side constantly belittled the very idea that secular Baathists could cooperate at all with Islamic terrorists is amazing.
Apparently, such cooperation against a common enemy isn't so amazing after all. The good part of this new realization of a very old concept that should have been apparent all along is that when the story of pre-war al Qaeda-Saddam links is more publicized, the anti-war side will concede this point. Let me add that I am not asserting a link between Saddam and 9-11. I don't understand why any discussion of links between the groups is automatically escalated by the anti-war side into a faux debate over 9-11 links. Never said it. Still not saying it. Don't know of anybody in the administration who ever said it.
As I said, "alliance" is too strong a word. Whoever did the Najaf bombing, Saddam's side is denying any involvement. Who did it? Al Qaeda? Rival Shias? Iranians? Saudi Wahhabis? Baathists despite the denial? Don't know.
Adding another division as McCain wants is not the solution. I continue to believe we have the troops strength needed to win. And we are winning. But we do need more Iraqi guards and light infantry. We need a more robust electricity, oil, and water infrastructure so that one bombing doesn't shut down the network for very long. We need to make sure that government functions are transferred to Iraqis on the road to democracy and rule of law. These things will speed up the process of winning.
Robert Kagan thinks we need more American troops in Iraq. I respect him and so quote here:
One thing is certain: There are not sufficient forces in Iraq today to create the secure environment within which essential political and economic development can proceed. The Bush administration knows this better than anyone. That's why it has suddenly launched an all-out drive to get a new U.N. resolution, and is contemplating negotiations and compromises with the French that would have been unimaginable even a month ago. Whence comes this unprecedented bout of multilateralist spirit? It derives exclusively from the need to get more foreign forces on the ground in Iraq so that American forces now holding static positions can get to the vital task of hunting proliferating numbers of Iraqi and non-Iraqi terrorists and saboteurs. Or, to put it another way: To make up for the fact that we don't have enough troops.
Yes, more foreign troops will free up Americans guarding static positions and patrolling. But many of these troops aren't line combat troops. They are tank crews, artillery troops, and air defense soldiers, and others who are using their generic soldier skills rather than their specific combat skills. We can use foreign troops to get these troops out of Iraq and back to their home bases where they can regain their combat skills as tankers, gunners, and air defense shooters.
And yes, we do need to bite the bullet and increase the Army just for rotation purposes. More Military Police battalions and brigades for the medium term. Another two divisions for the long term. Sure, some of the combat infantry can be focused on offensive missions but this should be seen as a pure short-term boost prior to their rotation out. I won't turn away in-country troops freed for taking the fight to the enemy, but this is not the solution for the long term.
But in the short term, the focus should be on more Iraqis and foreign troops for police functions. And better intelligence to focus the efforts of our special forces and combat forces as they seek out the Baathists and Islamists who have flocked to Iraq (since before the war I might add).With all due respect to Mr. Kagan, I disagree.
One good thing that comes out of the Najaf tragedy might be a stronger willingness by Iraqis to finger the foreign jihadists in their midst even in the Sunni areas. Attacks against the UN may have been done to frighten the UN aid workers out but it may just show Iraqis that the guerrillas and terrorists are hurting the Iraqi people. Likewise, the Najaf bombing may convince Iraqi holdouts that the terrorists are directly attacking the Iraqi people rather than being a national resistance that they claim to be.
We are winning. Let's not panic when the enemy gets desperate.
Najaf Bombing" (Posted September 1, 2003)
The terrorist bombing in Najaf does not mean we need to blanket Iraq with US troops. Terror bombings took place during Saddam's reign and I dare say he had Iraq blanketed with troops and was ruthless against enemies. But those bombings didn't get the same publicity. And sadly, nobody in the West suggested they meant Saddam should leave Iraq.
The Iraqis arrested people pretty fast. Did they already know them? Did the local authorities leave them alone from some misguided notions of keeping anti-American types in reserve? If so, this shows that the Shias must toss in their lot with us.
Remember, just because our enemies manage to successfully do something doesn't mean we are failing. War is action and reaction--not a flawless execution of our plan that inevitably reaches victory. The enemy reacted and scores of Iraqis died. Keep doing what we are doing and we will win this.