Saturday, November 01, 2003

November 2003 Posts Recovered from The Internet Archives

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

"Samarra" (Posted November 30, 2003)
So why the large Baathist fedayeen force in Samarra? Since we were pushing a convoy of new Iraqi money through the town, the speculation is that the Baathists were on a bank hit. Possibly. And if so, are the Baathists running out of money? I mean, they took a lot but we found a lot, and some might have disappeared to Swiss bank accounts or something.
But what if it wasn't an attempted robbery. If not, what was the reason for uniformed fedayeen fighting so fiercely? In such numbers? Could Saddam have been nearby?
Just wondering.
“Lessons” (Posted November 30, 2003)
It has been said that Baathist and jihadist attacks are discouraging our public and our allies from winning in Iraq.
This battle should discourage our enemies in Iraq:
U.S. troops repelled simultaneous attacks Sunday afternoon in the northern city of Samarra, killing 46 Iraqis, wounding at least 18 and capturing eight, the U.S. military said. Five American soldiers and a civilian were wounded.
This is, as I understand it, just a big example of how we defeat direct attacks on our convoys on a regular basis.
Unfortunately, since we don’t advertise these victories, we don’t get the advantage of beating them regularly.
Capturing some will provide some good information, too.
I will give the Baathists some credit since they apparently wore uniforms. So this was a military operation and not a terrorist operation. They are still the enemy and awful ones at that, but it isn’t correct to call them terrorists.
It is disturbing that these two attacks were apparently carried out in large platoon strength. I haven’t seen attacks this large up until now.
But good news to beat back an ambush of this size.
One question, though. Will we be able to replicate such battles when we replace those "too heavy" Abrams tanks and Bradley Fighting Vehicles with "more mobile" Humvees?
“I’m From the Left, and I’m Here to Help” (Posted November 30, 2003)
Friedman is clearly pro-war when it comes to Iraq, but his liberal tendencies make it difficult for him to just be pro-war. It leads him to interesting and incorrect analysis.
Basically, he thinks that the conservative pro-war side doesn’t understand the complexities of Iraq, and so the anti-war left must exercise its amazing big-brained analytical powers to finish what the fool in the White House started:
For my money, the right liberal approach to Iraq is to say: We can do it better. Which is why the sign I most hungered to see in London was, "Thanks, Mr. Bush. We'll take it from here."
He rightly notes that the anti-war side is quite stark raving mad, ignoring the evils of our enemies in their rush to condemn Bush and Blair as new Nazis. Ah, the fruits of the complex mind.
From this failure to see the reality of his side’s analytical abilities, Friedman starts the train of errors. This is the heart of Friedman’s problem in finally jettisoning his leftist baggage in analyzing the war and supporting the President:
Believe me, being a liberal on every issue other than this war, I have great sympathy for where the left is coming from. And if I didn't, my wife would remind me. It would be a lot easier for the left to engage in a little postwar reconsideration if it saw even an ounce of reflection, contrition or self-criticism coming from the conservatives, such as Dick Cheney and Don Rumsfeld, who drove this war, yet so bungled its aftermath and so misjudged the complexity of postwar Iraq. Moreover, the Bush team is such a partisan, ideological, nonhealing administration that many liberals just want to punch its lights out — which is what the Howard Dean phenomenon is all about.
Let’s recall as prelude that the President said, on May 1 when announcing the end of major combat operations, that the post-war struggle would be long and difficult.
Let’s further recall the famous Rumsfeld memo which showed so much reflection and self-criticism that the anti-war side decided to assault the memo as proof that the administration thought we were losing the war.
As for contrition, I don’t want the administration to apologize for anything in deciding—against enlightened world opinion—to overthrow Saddam. It is an outrageous demand when you consider that the anti-war side still “supposes” that it is a good thing that Saddam is gone and fails to reflect when it sees mass graves, polls of happy Iraqis, torture chambers now unused, and the widespread preparations by Saddam, in violation of repeated UN resolutions, to create WMD once we were looking elsewhere.
Let’s recall all the horrible post-war problems that we anticipated and prevented.
Let us remember the change in post-war administration in Iraq to Bremer to correct early missteps.
Let us keep in mind the progress we have made in rebuilding Iraq so quickly.
Let us remember the change in plans to put security and governmental powers in the hands of Iraqis as the liberating country we are.
And as we work to repair a country in a complex environment, let us recall the complexity of thought that leads the anti-war left to call for immediate withdrawal of American troops and their silly faith in the UN as the solution to all that ails us in Iraq.
And though I don’t comment on domestic policies, since Friedman is tossing in Bush’s “partisan, ideological, nonhealing” style, let me just note that Bush is expanding non-defense spending at a tremendous rate with massive new health and education plans that would have been applauded by the left if Clinton had proposed them. President Bush is even expanding the Clinton AmeriCorps. Partisan and ideological, indeed. I won’t even pretend to understand what “nonhealing” means. I guess it is promoted by “Bush=Hitler” signs or photo-shopped pictures of Cheney in Nazi regalia.
And on top of all this, since Friedman complains about the left’s refusal to support the Iraq War under the following circumstances, how sophisticated is the left?
First, even though the Bush team came to this theme late in the day, this war is the most important liberal, revolutionary U.S. democracy-building project since the Marshall Plan. The primary focus of U.S. forces in Iraq today is erecting a decent, legitimate, tolerant, pluralistic representative government from the ground up. I don't know if we can pull this off. We got off to an unnecessarily bad start. But it is one of the noblest things this country has ever attempted abroad and it is a moral and strategic imperative that we give it our best shot.
The left can’t see this endeavor as democracy-building? They see it as a Halliburton bailout, or empire-building, or whatever? Hey, at least they no longer say that fighting an easy war against Iraq was part of a cynical ploy to guarantee re-election. Of course, that was the April-May talking point. What does it say for the anti-war side’s appreciation of the complexity of Iraq that before the war and in the first two weeks of fighting they expected Vietnam; and once the statues of Saddam came down they thought it was all a Karl Rove campaign commercial? Now we’re back to Vietnam.
But I digress.
If Friedman thinks Bush came to this view of promoting democracy late, what does it say about the previous administration or about the current crop of candidates challenging Bush who still don’t understand this theme, more than two years after 9-11?
And what about Friedman himself? Says Friedman in explaining how the left needs to approach Iraq, “The left needs to get beyond its opposition to the war and start pitching in with its own ideas and moral support to try to make lemons into lemonade in Baghdad.” Ending the Baathist WMD programs, torture chambers, official rapists, plastic shredders for people, mass murder, and pervasive fear, is a “lemon.” My incomprehension is multiplied by the fact that they can’t see all this was done with few American casualties and unprecedented care in sparing innocent Iraqis or their country’s infrastructure. All this still constitutes a “lemon” even at this late date. If Friedman can say this, what hope do we have for the mindless throngs that cheer Dean as the embodiment of surrendering to Saddam, who even now is hiding in a burqua, running from our forces?
Friedman needs to stop worrying about what his wife and social circle think of him for supporting the Iraq War. It was the right thing to do. And completing the mission is the right—and necessary—thing to do. Criticizing and suggesting changes is fine, but it is blind for Friedman to comfort himself with the idea that only his side can navigate the complexities of post-Saddam Iraq.
Friedman needs to use his big, complex, liberal brain to understand that his ideological friends are incapable of putting away their bongos and puppets and getting down to the serious work of protecting our country from foreign enemies. Sometimes we have to punch the lights out of our real enemies and not just our domestic opponents. That’s part of the 9-11 phenomena.
It really is simple after all.
“Casualties” (Posted November 29, 2003)
November is the deadliest month in Iraq is the headline and lead:
With November nearly over, the official death count yesterday stood at 79, surpassing March (65) and April (73), when the invasion was underway and fighting was most intense and widespread.
Now, I’m not dismissing our dead as meaningless. It is important to reverse the surge and stamp out the attacks. The main goal, however, is to get Iraqi security forces on line so they carry out the bulk of the routine security missions. As we reduce our combat forces, we’ll need fewer convoys to supply them and so will suffer fewer ambushes. Our support troops are facing a higher proportion of losses than is normal since our combat troops are very effective and the Baathists know it. They avoid our combat troops when they can, preferring to hit vulnerable convoys run by supply clerks and the like. Even with MP or infantry escorts, these are easier targets. So our casualties will go down with fewer troops as long as Iraqi forces increase. I worry that focus on attacks per day will become the false metric of success. We don’t need to reduce it to zero to call our invasion a success. As long as Iraqi forces can take on the task, with our help, we can scale back. Like I’ve said before, allies of ours around the world fight insurgents or terrorists without 130,000 Americans on the ground helping them.
One other thing about the article bothers me. It is deliberately misleading in part. It is just like the coverage noting we’ve had more casualties in the long post-war phase than in the major combat operations of the war. That is misleading because it misses the point that we had remarkably few war casualties. Now, in this article, this reporter says that it is significant that we’ve had more casualties in November (79) than in either month of the invasion (65 and 73) when “fighting was most intense and widespread.” This deliberately ignores the fact that we didn’t invade until near the end of March and that Baghdad fell at the beginning of April. The author compares a full month to two approximately ten-day periods in order to get a headline.
And since 39 of the November casualties are from helicopter losses, we are still talking a little over one per day if we exclude what are essentially anomalous deaths from the pattern of casualties from daily attacks. If we regularly lost helicopters in Iraq (how many did we lose in Vietnam? Tens of thousands, I believe), it would be wrong to look at the monthly deaths without them. But as long as they are rare, it adds to our perception to look at the “core” rate (much as economists talk of “core” inflation rate per month excluding volatile energy and food prices) per month. Perhaps it will be statistically meaningful to include all at 6-month or annual snapshots as we look back from a future when Iraq is a stable ally and we spot trends in defeating the Baathists. (Or losing, I suppose, should we lose our nerve)
Just keep some perspective. Cheap headlines notwithstanding.
“Intelligence” (Posted November 28, 2003)
One article in WP about the validity of our intelligence on WMD before the Iraq War. It defends the October 2002 National Intelligence Estimate. This convinces me but I needed none on this subject. I think the charge that evidence was hyped is absurd. I did not expect a nuclear weapon but feared we could have missed a nuclear program as we did before. I thought it was possible that there were weaponized bio weapons but probably not. I expected chemical weapons since this is the one WMD Iraq had and used often in the past. Bio raw materials and chemicals in the quantities we expected are easy to hide and we may yet dig them up.
Another WP article on the validity of the al Qaeda-Iraq links. This says that the reports of contacts overstate the situation and that the information in the leaked DOD memo to the Senate was routine stuff and not evidence of real cooperation. Still, dismissing the establishment of an al Qaeda base in nominally Kurdish areas in 1999 seems rash. That seems all too credible to me.
I’m no expert on intelligence but since I never felt that there was solid direct linkage, I certainly can’t rule this article’s point out. Nonetheless, the links deserve attention.
“The Price of Delay” (Posted November 28, 2003)
Mark Steyn pegs my fears of the price of delay in the Iraq War. Before I started my blog, I thought we’d invade by September 2002, after the heat of summer and after we replenished our JDAMs. By the time I started my blog, I began to think by the end of the year or so. In the end we delayed until March. Said Steyn:
One or two readers may recall that a year and a half ago I was arguing that the invasion of Iraq needed to take place in the summer of 2002, before the first anniversary of 9/11. Unfortunately, President Bush listened to Mr Blair and not to me, and Mr Blair wanted to go ‘the extra mile’ with the UN, the French, the Guinean foreign minister and the rest of the gang. The extra mile took an extra six or eight months, and at the end of it America went to war with exactly the same allies as she would have done in June 2002. The only difference was that the interminable diplomatic dance emboldened M. Chirac and the other obstructionists, and permitted a relatively small anti-war fringe to blossom into a worldwide mass ‘peace’ movement. It certainly didn’t do anything for the war’s ‘legitimacy’ in the eyes of the world: indeed, insofar as every passing month severed the Iraqi action from the dynamic of 9/11, it diminished it. Taking a year to amass overwhelming force on the borders of Iraq may have made the war shorter and simpler, but it also made the postwar period messier and costlier. With the world’s biggest army twiddling its thumbs in Kuwait for months on end, the regime had time to move stuff around, hide it, ship it over the border to Syria, and allow interested parties to mull over tactics for a post-liberation insurgency.
The blowback of dragging out the pre-war for purely political reasons and not military reasons are still haunting us. Far from being “a rush to war” and before “all peaceful means were exhausted,” as the anti-war side still asserts, we delayed to our disadvantage.
As I’ve said, give an enemy time and they’re liable to use it.
The rest of the article is good, too.
“Sunni Triangle” (Posted November 28, 2003)
On a related note, I once wrote that if the Iraqi Sunnis don’t take the opportunity we are giving them for a better life that we could split the country and leave central Iraq to their Baathist misery.
On reflection, I was gravely mistaken.
If we can’t pacify the Sunni area and withdraw, we will have given the Baathists a sanctuary to organize and plan in peace. Whatever is buried in there would come out for use against us. We would have some peace for a bit, but that would only be a “September 10” peace. After a while, the Baathists would come after the Shias and Kurds. And our forces helping them.
No, we must win in the Sunni triangle. To borrow a familiar slogan, it’s better to fight the Baathists in the Sunni triangle than to fight them in the Kurd and Shia regions.
Iraq Tactics” (Posted November 28, 2003)
Lost where I read this, but when I saw our troops blowing up building used by Baathists for attacks, I cringed. Looked too “Israeli.” And sure enough, the report I saw said we are consulting with Israelis on tactics they’ve used. While their urban warfare techniques certainly worked, so did ours in the war. And since Israelis are fighting people who will not ever like them, alienating the population isn’t too much of a worry. We have good will among many in Iraq, however, and I don’t want to risk using Israeli tactics. Nor do I want it felt by the Iraqis that we are using Israeli tactics.
If buildings are being used to attack us, plant sensors in the buildings to detect their presence and then attack the building to kill the attackers. Geez, if we know they’ll go back, take advantage of it!
I didn’t mind the use of aerial bombs for a bit to make a point, and in more remote areas against identified targets I’m not upset, but I’m glad this tactic seems to be dwindling if press impressions are a guide. Remember, this is a policing problem. It is not major combat operations. That’s why we accurately announced the end of them, remember?
“Taiwan Tension” (Posted November 28, 2003)
One more from Jane’s, noting the worries that Taiwan is stoking on China’s primary pressure point: Taiwanese independence:
ONCE again the Taiwan Strait is entering a period of tension and once again the immediate cause is the Taiwanese President, Chen Shui-bian. He has launched a strategy based on brinkmanship over the issue of Taiwan's independence. The result? A sleeping giant is showing signs of restiveness.
We do need to pull Chen back. China will invade if pushed too far. We will intervene for all the reasons I noted yesterday. And as the McCready paper argues, the best we can do is put off war to buy time in the hope that China changes enough over decades to hopefully not want Taiwan.
From Strategypage, China’s banking crisis will absorb lots of their cash to put right:
The cash crunch created by this expenditure will also limit options in dealing with Taiwan. Fighting a war costs money, and that will be in shorter supply because of the massive amounts of money needed. The Chinese will also have to try to take Taiwan without doing too much damage.
Interesting. I disagree with the idea that China must take Taiwan without doing too much damage. The skill of the people is most important, not the physical infrastructure. With a highly educated population, in a generation the economic level can be back to where it would have been had nothing happened (the Phoenix effect we saw in Germany after World War II).
It’s a tough road. We can’t let China conquer Taiwan. We don’t even want China to peacefully absorb Taiwan. Yet we would clearly like to avoid war over this issue. One more tough balancing act to add to Arab-Israeli and India-Pakistan.
“Bad Trend Line in Iraq?” (Posted November 28, 2003)
Again from Jane’s, this time on Iraq:
THE USA is grappling with a worsening security crisis in Iraq, but its intelligence seems to be so woefully inadequate that it does not appear to have any clear idea of exactly what it is up against. President George W Bush and senior officials of his administration have characterised those behind this stubborn and escalating insurgency against US-led occupation forces as terrorists. The reality is much more complex, embracing a broad spectrum of political, religious and ideological forces, which, if they ever come together on a nationwide scale, could leave the USA little choice but to withdraw from Iraq.
I think this is way too pessimistic. I respect Jane’s a lot but they may be infected with European pessimism too much. For example, I don’t recall the administration simply characterizing the resistance as made up of just “terrorists.” It seems like “former regime loyalists” is the main term used to describe the overwhelming majority, with a small number of definition-true “terrorists” in the form of foreign jihadists, too. Also, they clearly engage in terrorism. Still, I can hardly ignore this.
“WMD Patrol” (Posted November 28, 2003)
According to my email alert from Jane’s:
A COALITION, led by the USA, is about to challenge the right of innocent passage by preparing to seize and search ships and aircraft on suspicion of involvement in the illicit trade in weapons of mass destruction (WMD). The coalition comprising Australia, the UK, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the Netherlands, Poland, Portugal and Spain, as well as the USA, is approaching the implementation stage.
Multi-national talks on North Korean nukes. Pulling 2nd ID off the firing line. And this naval effort. Makes it look like we are going to squeeze and contain North Korea until it breaks. And I suppose it will be tough for some to argue that this coalition is “fraudulent.”
“The Taiwan Showdown—Part I (Intentions)” (Posted November 27, 2003)
The Chinese are psyching themselves up for the showdown with us over Taiwan. A recently passed Taiwanese bill that at one time seemed to threaten a public referendum on a formal declaration of independence upsets China:
Pro-independence activists have campaigned for 10 years for a referendum law. The movement has gained wide public support ahead of presidential elections on March 20, 2004, when the question of Taiwan's sovereignty is expected to take center stage.

President Chen has enraged China by aggressively asserting his island is a separate country -- making that and a referendum on a new constitution the key pillars of his campaign for re-election on March 20, 2004.
The Strategic Studies Institute of the Army War College has an excellent paper on deterring a war over Taiwan (“Crisis Deterrence in the Taiwan Strait” Douglas McCready, November 2003). I’ll not cite specific points, but much of this post will draw on this paper. Much of it reinforces information I’ve read elsewhere or opinions I have formed already. In some cases, I disagree with the conclusions reached on specific points. It is an excellent one-stop shopping point for this post.
I believe America will fight to stop China from taking over Taiwan. The US has a legal commitment to defending Taiwan; a moral obligation to defend a democracy against a dictatorship; and a strategic goal of preventing allies from peeling away if they see us retreat in the face of Chinese power, and thus losing influence in the area. Plus, we have a general interest in keeping the area quiet for trade and prosperity reasons. Indeed although we say that we want this resolved without use of force, McCready notes that even a peaceful union of Taiwan under Chinese rule would be unacceptable to America,
One problem is that the Chinese don’t think we will fight for Taiwan. They think their interests are so much greater than ours that they will out-suffer us if necessary to win.
A related problem with our perceptions is that we try to impress upon our enemies our power by letting them see our military up close in training. The idea is that potential foes will come away with a “holy freaking crap” moment and impress upon their countrymen that there is no way they can beat America. This is a major error on our part, especially with the Chinese. Why? Because the Chinese are already terribly impressed with our technology and military skills after seeing the Persian Gulf War, Kosovo War, and Iraq War from a distance. We know this. So there is no reason to let them see us up close and see our weaknesses. We don’t want them to see our weaknesses because the Chinese know they are inferior, yet are absolutely convinced that we will not accept even light casualties in a war. The Chinese believe this is our crucial weakness. They are wrong, but they will act on this belief. Their belief that they can create niche capabilities that will nullify our overall superiority is strengthened by our policy of showing them our stuff. Shut this down! Now.
Perhaps most important, I don’t think we appreciate that China regards taking over Taiwan as the only thing that matters to them. It is central to their very legitimacy as a government. Indeed, the Chinese think the fact that we don’t appreciate this is our most dangerous misperception. We are too numbed to the threat after numerous saber rattling by China and 50 years of stability despite the saber rattling. Also, the Chinese know that taking Taiwan will push us out of the Western Pacific and East Asia as an effective power able to counter China. Indeed, even if showing China our military power up close could tell them anything useful to us that they can’t see from afar, this would not be enough. McCready notes that Chinese leaders have repeatedly stated that they would go to war rather than allow Taiwan become independent. And they’d go to war whether they thought they’d lose or not. The belief by some over here that “everyone” would lose in a war over Taiwan is just silly. We have no idea what China considers losing on this issue.
And the crisis in 1996 when China fired missiles around Taiwan and we sent two carrier battle groups to the area showed China that we would respond to intimidation tactics. Have the Chinese learned that only a preemptive offensive that quickly conquers China will give them Taiwan? Will they try to win clearly before America can effectively respond?
One problem we have with our assessments of what China could do militarily is that we mirror image them. McCready notes this but does not draw the right conclusion in my mind. He says, “Because different viewers evaluate capabilities differently, what we see as capabilities do not necessarily limit our adversary’s intentions.” He then says, “Thus, having decided not to pursue the cross-Strait amphibious invasion option, the PRC is not investing heavily in amphibious assault craft or associated weapons. Instead, China has chosen to concentrate resources on weapons that will permit it to intimidate Taiwan and deter U. S. intervention.” We look at the geography and add China’s deficiencies in air power and sea lift and say the Chinese wouldn’t dare try it. You think we’d know better, since in 1950, we concluded that China was incapable of intervening in Korea with enough power to be successful. We thought that it was obviously irrational to fight us and so assumed China would not.
As I’ve written repeatedly, the Chinese desire for Taiwan trumps all other considerations. We are in a very dangerous period and I think the period right before the Olympics in ’08 will be a window for a Chinese invasion. Some cite what McCready correctly calls the cliché of Asian patience to support their belief that China will never invade Taiwan. Patience does not mean you never act. It means you act at a time and place and methods of your choosing, timed to give you maximum chances for victory.
And remember, as McCready noted, “China has said that if using force becomes necessary, it intends to defeat Taiwan before the United States can intervene effectively.” Just as ominously, he cites the fact that “Chinese military history demonstrates readiness to use preemptive strikes, especially against more powerful foes.”
Next time, a template for Chinese action?
UPDATE: See Part II.
Permalink to this post:
“Huzzah!” (Posted November 27, 2003)
President Bush was just in Iraq to visit our troops and thank them for protecting us:
Air Force One landed in darkness at Baghdad International Airport. Security fears were heightened by an attack last Saturday in which a missile struck a DHL cargo plane, forcing it to make an emergency landing at the airport with its wing aflame.

Bush was to spend only two hours on the ground, limiting his visit to a dinner at the airport with U.S. forces. The troops had been told that the VIP guests would be L. Paul Bremer, the U.S. administrator in Iraq, and Lt. Gen. Ricardo Sanchez, commander of coalition forces in Iraq.

Bush's trip — on the large plane he most frequently uses — was a well-guarded secret — announced only after he landed in Baghdad.

In a ruse staged in the name of security, the White House had put out word that Bush would be spending Thanksgiving at his ranch in Crawford, Texas, with his wife, Laura, his parents and other family members. Even the dinner menu was announced.

Instead, Bush slipped away from his home without notice Wednesday evening and flew to Washington to pick up aides and a handful of reporters sworn to secrecy. Plans called for the trip to be abandoned if word had leaked out in advance.
It shows our troops that he is behind them and that he thinks their mission is important enough to risk his life. Yes, it was a brief visit but he was an irresistible target had our enemies figured this out. He landed in Baghdad International Airport where Baathists had recently used a SAM against a transport aircraft and hit it.
It also showed confidence in our troops as they are on a recent offensive to turn back the small but still rising number of attacks.
And it is pretty good that Iraqis will know that President Bush has been seen in Iraq more reliably than Saddam Hussein. You can bet that pictures of Air Force One on the ground in Iraq and pictures of the President in Iraq will be widely distributed in Iraq.
And after going to Britain when the pro-Saddamites threatened to make it a most unpleasant trip, this trip shows that our President will follow through with his commitments.
Really good.
"Thanksgiving 2003" (Posted November 26, 2003)
Tomorrow is Thanksgiving. On top of the usual things to be thankful for, my son, my family, & my work and friends, I must add my deepest thanks to those who are defending me. It is difficult to think of soldiers, Marines, sailors, and airmen in far away lands fighting and dying to protect all of us at home from vicious killers who pray for the chance to kill us. Every email from DOD that announces a death is hard to read. But I do. It is but a tiny gesture to make sure I never forget their sacrifice. And it is tougher because I was a soldier once. A reservist (for some reason I don't like "citizen-soldier" since the active duty troops are just as much citizens) as many who are going to Iraq are. Yet I never had to go overseas and risk my life. Came darn close, but close doesn't count--not by a long shot.
I have a lot to be thankful for. And many to thank for my life.
“Soviet Evils” (Posted November 25, 2003)
One of the reasons I quit the American Historical Association a decade ago (from Despite having the archives of the Soviet gulag-masters opened, the left here sees nothing. They now insist that containment was a bipartisan endeavor, neglecting the hard fight one side had in maintaining it against the other side that resisted it as much as they could. They forget—or worse, still believe-in the moral equivalence of the United States and the Soviet Union. They mock the very idea of an “Evil Empire” and believe Gorbachev ended the Cold War. From the interview regarding Professors John Earl Haynes’ and Harvey Klehr’s "new book, In Denial: Historians, Communism, and Espionage, which demonstrates how the leftist academic establishment has ignored, denied and distorted the evidence that has come out of the former Soviet archives about the Cold War and American communism." In response to why historians are unwilling to re-examine their pretty picture of communist Russia in light of the open archives that verify the murders, torture, and baseless imprisonment:
Jamie, you look at Soviet history and see the Gulag, the executions of the Terror, the pervasive oppression, and the economic failure. Psychologically, the leftists you speak of see little of that. They see a Communist state that articulated their vision of the future and which sought to destroy the societies and institutions they hated. They cannot see the horror that communism actually created. They look on that horror and see something else because they cannot admit to themselves that their vision is beyond human grasp. The German Communist playwright Bertolt Brecht, when challenged that thousands of innocents had been sent to the Gulag by Stalin, replied, "the more innocent they are, the more they deserve to die." To you or I this remark is disgusting, but to the hard left it reflects their eager willingness to kill any number of persons without concern for innocence or guilt if it might assist in bringing about the socialist future.
The idealized future that has not happened is more real and more important to them than the past that really did happen. Because the imagined future is more real and important to them, they seek to remold history (human understanding of the real past) to the service of the future. In his distopia 1984, George Orwell gives the Ministry of Truth of his totalitarian state the task of rewriting history. Orwell's point was that those who control the politics of the past (history) also control the politics of the present and thereby the future. The academic left, like the Orwell's Engsoc ideologists, believe that history is malleable and can assist in legitimating current politics and bringing about the utopian future.
You will get few mea culpas from hard left academics because they feel no guilt. You think they should regret getting the facts of history wrong. They care not at all about the facts of history, only about the politics of the future. They feel they got the politics right and so no mea culpa is due.
The facts of history that they got wrong can be, in their view, rationalized, redefined, minimized, or otherwise set aside in service to the idealized future they seek. Many have learned no lessons from the failure of communism; they will ardently pursue the same goals by the same means, albeit under new names.
You note the incongruity of hearing historians who are supposed to care about the past dismiss new information from Soviet archives as useless concern for "old ghosts" and "engaging in necrophilia." But those who say such thinks are not really historians, they are propagandists for the future left utopia who camouflage themselves as historians. They are interested in the past only when it can be put to the service of the future they seek. The flood of information out of Communist archives does not serve their goals, thus they define those matters as, as you noted, "ancient" and of no interest.
As “they” say, read the whole thing.
Oh, and one little tidbit of mass murder against Americans I never heard of:
Or, take a case that we discuss in our book-the murder of at least a thousand American Finns in Soviet Karelia in the late 1930s. These were American citizens, falsely accused of espionage and shot. We have the list of names- a list that includes men, women and children. Why has the American government never demanded that some effort be made to find out who was responsible for these crimes? Is this any different from the murder of American citizens by the government of Libya? Or Nazi war crimes?
Bastards. And no, I’m not sure who I’m talking about here.
“Making Them Worry About Us” (Posted November 25, 2003)
Going after the opposition, primarily the Baathists, is cutting down on their attacks on us:
[U. S. General] Abizaid said that the number of daily attacks on coalition forces were down by about half over the last two weeks. He gave no figures but U.S. officials have said U.S. forces were being attacked on average of 30-35 times a day.

"In the past two weeks, these attacks have gone down, attacks against coalition forces, but unfortunately we find that attacks against Iraqis have increased," Abizaid said. He said the attacks had increased not only in number but in severity.
Keeping the initiative against the Baathists is good.
That the Baathists are striking civilians instead of our soldiers also shows that the Baathists don’t think it is a winning strategy to keep going after our troops and/or can’t go after us at the same pace. They lose too many men and we haven’t cut and run as they expected.
It is also good that we see the face of the resistance. That vile Ted Rall may think the Baathists are brave nationalists resisting occupation but this shift to striking civilians demonstrates what they are. They killed and raped and tortured to stay in power; and they are willing to terrorize people so that they will welcome Baathist rule again. This is their bargain: we’ll stop bombing, disrupting your lives, if we can quietly disappear people in the middle of the night while you pretend to have a life.
Drive on. Victory is our exit strategy.
“Lads for Steadying” (Posted November 24, 2003)
The Pentagon is considering how to reorganize our forces to better cope with post-war stabilization missions in the absence of willing allies:
A September study by the Pentagon's Office of Stability Operations outlined how a brigade-size force of about 5,000 troops could be organized. Another study, sponsored by Cebrowski and completed earlier this month by a National Defense University team, called for a larger force of two division-size elements -- one active-duty, one reserve -- totaling about 30,000 troops.
I’ve long said that our Army should focus on warfighting and not divert forces to peacekeeping priorities. We have too few troops to create pseudo-soldiers. Indeed, we need to make sure our combat support and combat service support troops have local defense capabilities.
But we have Iraq to win.
And the focus in the article undermines the contention in the article that the Army is resistant to focus on stability operations because it does not want to divert scarce combat troops:
The idea is to forge deployable brigades or whole divisions out of units of engineers, military police, civil affairs officers and other specialists critical to postwar operations.
I’ve long said I want more MPs for security and policing. When you add the other CS and CSS units envisioned, the plan does not divert forces from a warfighting focus. Near the end of the article, we get the key piece on this:
That 122-page study argued that the proposed two new divisions could be created without adding to the total size of the Army or siphoning troops from the Army's existing 10 active-duty combat divisions. Many of the soldiers called for in the plan, including those expert in engineering, policing, civil affairs, psychological operations and medical care, can be found in reserve units and are attached to Corps headquarters or other commands above the division level, the study concluded.

"Most of the necessary capabilities already exist," said Binnendijk, who during the Clinton administration served on the National Security Council as director of defense policy. "They just aren't organized effectively. This is more about refocusing, reorganizing and rebalancing forces than it is about buying a lot of new stuff."
This seems a prudent course of action for now. We are reconfiguring existing troops for a need we face right now.
I do, however, take exception to the following segment:
No longer do U.S. war plans envision slow buildups and prolonged fighting. Instead, as the invasion of Iraq demonstrated, the Pentagon is counting on rapid preparation and swift victory, with fewer combat troops needed as a result of advances in technology and improved coordination among the military services. The slimmed-down combat contingent means fewer troops available to deal with the aftermath.
The invasion of Iraq took place after a build-up that took longer than the one in 1990-1991! Nor do I think most scenarios will require us to board the C-17s and begin fighting 5 days later. Our system requires a little more debate (endless debate in some cases) before we send sizable combat forces to war. Defending South Korea or Taiwan are the only bolt-from-the-blue scenarios I see.
As for swift victory, sure, it’s nice work if you can get it. But what if we face troops with tougher mettle than the Iraqis?
Plus, I still say that in the Iraq War we had 60 US combat battalions plus 12 British line battalions—the equivalent of seven strong divisions. We lacked the support troops of 1991 because technology and coordination allowed us to have fewer supporting forces. The force was smaller than in 1991 but our enemy was reduced considerably, too. I just don’t want people to think a tiny force of American super-troopers can take on any enemy no matter how large and no matter how resolute.
But two stabilization divisions could be useful without harming our combat power under this idea.
“Unsteady Lads” (Posted November 24, 2003)
Listening to the men and women who are seeking the presidency comment on foreign policy in the debate Monday night is frightening.
They have no clue. Their foreign policy is to retreat and wish for the best. They have no decency. They repeat the lies and distortions that they have used for two years.
They are just awful. It is truly disheartening to me.
Not one is a leader. I do not trust any one of them to defend us.
“Steady, Lads” (Posted November 24, 2003)
This infuriates me:
Assailants killed two U.S. soldiers riding in a civilian car Sunday in the northern city of Mosul and, in a bloody scene, crowds then reportedly mutilated their bodies, trashed the vehicles and made off with the soldiers' belongings.
But we must keep perspective. Mosul is a Sunni city. Its people are disposed to be against us. Plus the incident is unclear. Some of the details may be quite exaggerated. Most important, even if true, this cannot taint our view. Most Iraqis want us there. Our security requires us to build up a secure and stable Iraqi government that can take over the counter-insurgency mission.
Our enemies would love it if we looked at this incident and concluded that every damn Iraqi can go to Hell.
Don’t go there. The Iraqis want us there. They are grateful we overthrew Saddam. The Baathists and jihadists are the ones who want us to leave.
Steady, lads. Focus on the objective.
“Truly Dumb Arguments” (Posted November 23, 2003)
One argument that the anti-war side continues to use regarding the Iraq War is the idea that we are creating more enemies that would not have existed had we just stayed home.
I guess that waging a war against the British was an error in 1775. How many Americans died in that Boston “Massacre” anyway? And before we sent militia to besiege the British troops in Boston, how many British were in America? Just a handful here to protect us, right? Our foolishness just led to the British sending tens of thousands of troops to our land, including mercenaries who weren’t even our religion! The whole thing just provided an opportunity for Indians to rise up and attack us, too. And then we faced British troops marching all over the American colonies in a war that lasted eight years from 1775 to 1783!
And let’s not even talk about the War of 1812. So what if American sailors were being kidnapped by the Royal Navy? So what if the British were attacking our trade and harming our economy? Good God, how much stronger were the British that we should start a war?! What did we get? Detroit occupied for awhile. Our capital burned. Our trade ruined in a blockade we could not break.
The Civil War was truly folly. A people wanted to just live their own lives apart from us. So what if they had slaves? Were our soldiers any less racist? How well were our immigrants treated? Really, we should have cleaned up our act before telling Southerners to stay in the Union and give up slavery. Hundreds of thousands died, with tens of thousands falling in single battles. Our troops remained in the South for a decade trying to de-Confederify the region. And so what if we freed the slaves? They remained second-class citizens for another century! We clearly should have minded our own business.
And can you believe the Spanish-American War? So what if Cubans were dying in concentration camps. A splendid little war, indeed. Sure, the war was over in three months. Sure, we suffered remarkably few casualties to win. But then we faced a three-year insurgency in the Philippines before we subdued it. Even then, rebels persisted long after we granted the Philippines independence in 1946. Separatists still fight there against the central government more than a century after that victory!
And what were we thinking intervening in the Great War? Why should we care if a militarist Germany controlled the continent? Who cares if the democracies of the West were defeated? They owned colonies, didn’t they? Sure, the German navy had plans to capture New York City in case of war with us but it was just one of those contingency plans. If we stayed away surely the Germans would have left us alone. Sure, we had a little standoff with the Germans over Venezuela early in the century but who were we to interfere? And then we lose heavily in the static and bloody trench warfare of the Western Front. And what happened after? Our allies just brutalized the Germans and paved the way for Hitler. The Russians lost so much that Marxists took over. Talk about blowback.
The biggest folly by far was World War II. How many Americans were being killed by Nazis and Japanese before December 7, 1941? They were hardly an imminent threat. If we hadn’t expressed our displeasure at Japanese adventures in China and Southeast Asia, the Japanese would never have felt compelled to strike us. Weren’t they just seeking their proper role in the region after decades of Western dominance? And what were we doing helping the British? We sent arms and our Navy actually helped the Royal Navy in the Atlantic, violating American neutrality laws and international law. Weren’t the Germans just trying to reverse the horrible provisions of the World War I “peace?” And what of our primary allies? A colonial power that we helped without demanding any end to their colonial practices and a communist dictatorship that we prettied up by calling Stalin “Uncle Joe.” How could we sully our democracy by siding with less than perfect folks? Look at how many Americans died after we declared war on them! And then we were sucked into Japan and Germany for sixty years after the war ended with “victory!” Shoot, Poland was occupied in the end and that country’s fate was the reason the war started in Europe in the first place! And more blowback with the Russians advancing further into Europe than they ever did before! All the way to the Elbe River! And we racistly used atomic bombs on the Japanese!
And even as we struggled without a plan in Germany and Japan, we embarked on an adventure in defense of South Korea? In the end what business did we have when the South was autocratic. How much better were they than the North? It took a good forty years before the South was a democracy and our troops still stand on the DMZ! Sure, now South Korea is a prosperous democracy and North Korea is a despotic, poverty-stricken dictatorship with nukes but couldn’t we have avoided all this by just staying out?
Clearly, fighting was a mistake in these cases, eh?
Let’s get real, here. Is there any doubt that our enemies would commit a 9-11 atrocity again and again? With VX? With Anthrax? With dirty bombs? With nukes?
Can those arguing that we are making enemies by waging war against terrorists and their state sponsors not understand that we were under attack before 9-11 and that our decision to join the battle automatically means that our casualties mount as the battle is joined?
In all these examples from 1775 to 2001, we could have just accepted the actions of our enemies and surrendered. Or we could have let events go on until we could no longer avert our eyes from our losses. Until our enemies were in our faces with nobody left to fight but us.
I thought our enemies got in our faces on 9-11. I thought this reality check happened, but it did not. Some here manage to close their eyes with the still smoldering ruins of the World Trade Center in our faces. Somehow, they still don’t think we are under attack. They don’t understand that refusing to fight only guarantees that a more horrific 9-11 will take place in time. And simply focusing on a law enforcement defense of our borders (but without the “Nazi-like” Patriot Act as the same anti-war types argue and without “racist” notions of border control, of course) just guarantees another 9-11, too. And can we really change our foreign policy to appease the terrorists when al Qaeda and their scum ilk strike freely at Moslems and Arabs in Iraq, Indonesia, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, and elsewhere? Do they really think any change at all in our policies could placate our enemies?
Do they really?
Our enemies, who were fighting us all along, are still fighting us. There are two differences. One, we are stretching our power around the globe and killing them now, too, going after them seriously and persistently. Two, we are showing the wider Islamic world that we are serious about defeating the terrorists and ending the dictatorships that have spawned the fanatics. The first will destroy our enemies and put them off balance until we kill them. Our biggest successes were in tearing into al Qaeda and destroying two terrorist states with remarkably low casualties. The second will dry up the recruiting pool. Afghanistan and Iraq are on the path to freedom and other Moslem states are feeling the pressure.
I guess those arguing we are making more enemies are too caught up in the logic of their foolish slogan that it “takes two to make war.” In reality, it only takes one side as we could see throughout the 1990s. Fighting back is better. Even when the victory is not perfect.
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“Are They Stupid or What?” (Posted November 22, 2003)
Critics of the Patriot Act hyperventilate over imagined civil rights abuses and create worry when the act is needed to prevent another 9-11. But the government has a duty to use the act prudently or Congress will restrict it to the detriment of prevention. What am I to make of this short-sighted and stupid move?
FBI agents investigating two strip club owners in Las Vegas on bribery charges bypassed a grand jury and instead used the Patriot Act to subpoena the financial records of the bar owners as well as several prominent city and county officials.
This just adds a factoid to the ravings of those who don’t even think we are at war. The government should slap down this silly use of a law designed to nab terrorists. I am torn between wondering whether the agents are just stupid or are against the Patriot Act and working to undermine it by using it inappropriately.
In time, the act must be pulled back and eventually even repealed. We’re not there yet.
“SAM Hit” (Posted November 22, 2003)
A civilian transport plane was hit in Iraq:
Military officials said there had been at least 12 other attempted attacks on the few civilian flights that operate in Iraq, and this first successful hit of a civilian aircraft might further delay opening the airport to civilian traffic and thus postpone one major marker for stability in Iraq.
As I’ve noted, those little hand-held missiles aren’t usually that dangerous to large aircraft. The very tiny warheads just don’t pack a lot of punch. Disturbing, true, and it puts off the day when civilian planes can use the airport. But using them against helicopters would be far more dangerous.
“Al Qaeda Still Out There Plotting” (Posted November 22, 2003)
Our terrorist enemies in bin Laden’s thugdom are still plotting against us. We’ve done great so far to thwart them. While we go after them ruthlessly with our allies, we force the terrorists to spend more effort avoiding us.
One day we’ll miss. That is inevitable.
This is a long war and I just don’t get those in our country who believe the war is some type of Karl Rove reelection plot.
“Our Smaller Brigades” (Posted November 22, 2003)
I already noted our plans to reduce most of our brigades to two line battalions instead of three as they are now and increasing the number of brigades. I had argued for basing our force on more divisions that would have two brigades instead of three. I argued we could round out with National Guard brigades if we faced a tougher opponent.
I wonder if we will use our enhanced separate brigades to fill out our new, smaller brigades in case of a tougher opponent. I speculate since we have discovered that even though our National Guard is probably equal to most active component armies around the world, it is inferior to our excellent active Army. We know that it takes a year or more to get a Guard division up to par and months to get even our enhanced brigades up to speed. However, we had excellent results from mobilizing our enhanced separate brigade subordinate battalions (15 out of 45) and apparently using them in combat in Iraq.
One advantage of this method is that it keeps supporting arms at a higher level by supporting three smaller brigades in a division instead of two larger brigades. Usually, supporting artillery is based on one battalion per brigade so a two-brigade division with the same number of troops as a three-brigade division would have 67% of the firepower in the artillery arm. This is one reason why German three-regiment infantry divisions (with two battalions each) were more effective than Luftwaffe infantry divisions that had two regiments with three battalions each.
If we do something like this, it will ease my worries about creating smaller brigades should we face a resilient and smart opponent who doesn’t go along with our hyper war concepts. National Guard battalions can plug in and provide the depth to slug it out and win.
“President’s Trip to Britain” (Posted November 22, 2003)
It looks like the President’s trip to Britain went quite well. Protesters didn’t come out in the numbers predicted. Still a lot, but we also know from polls that it is not representative of the British. I dare say President Bush reassured a lot of people who had absorbed the BBC and print caricature of him.
His Three Pillars speech has also further cemented our global offensive to replace dictatorial Moslem states with democratic Moslem states. Victory is our “exit strategy.”
And at home, the reassurance of our primary ally standing with us will undercut those here who argued that the President had undermined our most important alliance.
One thing that mystifies me about the socialist and communist relics who paraded in London is why their colonial guilt mentality doesn’t give us some credit? I mean after all, the British were our colonial masters. Didn’t that excuse anything we do in their logic? Shoot, the Dutch, Swedes, Spanish, and horrifyingly enough the French, were our colonial overlords at one time. The Russians owned Alaska, too. Don’t we have plenty of reasons to get a pass?
And if we don’t, can we please stop excusing the brutality of the Third World’s Mugabes?
“Nice Work if You Can Get It” (Posted November 22, 2003)
I don’t know how I missed this article the first time.
The lead paragraph says we are planning potential wars based on the assumptions that we can win them more quickly and that we’ll need fewer American troops. Precision, jointness, communications, and Special Forces are the new factors that have led to this new look. I’m hoping that we aren’t assuming that all our future enemies will fight as stupidly as the Iraqis have in our last two wars. This is not a constant. As one officer in the Persian Gulf War noted, after seeing a bunker complex abandoned by the Iraqis, “Thank God they weren’t North Vietnamese.”
General Pace noted that we won the Iraq War with 160,000 troops rather than the 500,000 initially planned. I’m worried this will be misinterpreted.
Note that the example given is that in case North Korea attacks, we will act before artillery units arrive by substituting air power. Remember that our invasion was not actually a third the size of the expected force. I counted the battalions prior to the Iraq War in the region and it added up to 70 or 72 Army, Marine, and British line battalions (infantry of all types, armor, and recon). This is the equivalent of 6 American and 1 British divisions. This is in line with our decade-old plan for smashing small enemies in major theater wars: 5 divisions of Army troops and 1-2 Marine divisions. It took a British division to get us to the high end, but we did it.
What were lacking, I think, were all the logistics people and the extra artillery brigades we’d usually have with an invading force. I bet lots of air defense stuff was missing, too. Also, with satellites, we can reach back with a lot of support functions normally brought to the theater. With precision, we didn’t need tons of ammo brought in. I think the stats I saw showed that we used about the same number of precision weapons this time than in 1991 (and the current crop is more accurate). The difference was that we used lots of dumb bombs in 1991 and relatively few in 2003. Air power (also in smaller numbers), with regulars and special forces able to coordinate this tremendous firepower in combat, was able to substitute for extra artillery in the war.
So, we had the line units up front in the strength anticipated, but behind it we had a more hollow army, thinned out to factor in our total air superiority, much smaller logistics needs since we won quickly, and effective air support with good weather to exploit it.
Much of this thinking is accurate in the context of an Iraq-like opponent. It is also useful since we may have to fight anywhere on the globe and not just the Gulf and Korean peninsula.
But what if we need to fight a tough enemy? One that doesn’t break early on? That has an air force it is willing to use even if it is destroyed in the process? In rough terrain where the enemy can hide better? In bad weather that degrades our air power? What if our enemy can attack our satellites or break our links to them?
Then, we’ll need artillery and lots of ammo. We’ll need more supplies and air defenses. We’ll need to replace line units that suffer attrition or just need a rest. Reach-back won’t be reliable. In short, that hollow rear will need to fill out. Oh sure, not nearly as much as the old ways, but despite all the complaints of our large logistical “tail,” it is this support that allows our frontline “teeth” to be so effective. We minimized it against an enemy that had no freaking idea how to fight us—despite having been pasted by us once. It is often said that the side that loses often learns more than the side that won. Not this time. Saddam learned little from 1991, and what little he did learn was wrong. I’m not sure we learned from 1991, but we certainly changed and fought differently than we did in 1991. And it worked spectacularly. No doubt.
Our desire and willingness to change in order to leap ahead of our enemies is admirable. Much of what we are doing is great. I just fear we are learning based on a dangerously misguided template. One day we’ll fight a tough enemy. Will the solutions we are crafting based on fighting the Iraqis work on somebody else?
"Friendly Shias" (Posted November 20, 2003)
I never bought the idea that Iraq's Shias were automatically loyal to Tehran. During the Iran-Iraq War (the real First Gulf War), Shia soldiers died for Saddam in large numbers. Saddam feared that they would not fight for Iraq but they did. We clearly had the same worries that Saddam did from 1980-1988. And just as needlessly.
The realization that Shias in Iraq were not going to take orders from Iran's mullahs apparently had a role in justifying the accelerated transfer of power to the Iraqis.
"Reality Check" (Posted November 20, 2003)
Peters article articulates some of the things I've been writing.
First, it is silly to assert that Saddam planned to get his ass waxed in conventional war in order to fight an irregular campaign today. We should be so lucky that Saddam planned to have his military destroyed, his country occupied, and a US-friendly government established. Would that all our enemies were so brilliant. For those peddling this line, it really is a symptom of their total inability to live in the real world and their absolute unsuitability to direct our foreign policy.
Second, the only reason our casualties seem high in the post-war stabilization mission is because we rolled over Saddam's military in a cakewalk during the major combat operations of the invasion. We should be relieved that the pre-war predictions of disasters were not realized. Would it really be better if we were several thousand dead American soldiers shy of being able to write that post-war casualties have exceeded the war losses? Face it, if the administration had written that eight months after our forces crossed the border into Iraq that we'd have suffered fewer than 500 dead, it would have been accused of predicting a cakewalk.
Third, we are wise not to announce body counts of the enemy even if it makes it look like only we are losing troops. Body counts are not the measure of success and if we start releasing them, body counts will become the measure we judge success by—to our detriment. His best point on this? "If the body counts are high, we're murderers. If the body counts are low, we're losing."
We are winning. Have patience.
“If They Keep Pushing Us Away, Eventually We’ll Go” (Posted November 19, 2003)
I do have faith that the Brits will stay with us. Still, the sentiment that the protesters in Britain hold has a lesson for Europeans who think similar thoughts of us. And the consequences?
America reads daily about this growing anti-American sentiment and I wonder whether those abroad stop to ponder the effect of all this easy invective on those of us who live here. Americans as never before are re-examining all the old alliances and friendships, from troops in Europe and bases in the Mediterranean to peacekeepers in the Balkans and ships in the Gulf. If privileged Western protesters cannot tell the difference between what Saddam did and what America is trying to do in Iraq, if they think that tomorrow's Saddams, Milosevics and Kim Jong Ils will be awed by Nobel Prize awards, barristers in The Hague and EU resolutions rather than aircraft carriers, or if they assume in their end-of-history world that their worship of reason is equally shared by all those outside the West, we may be soon entering a far scarier world, when America in exasperation — as it did for most of its history before the European wars — will simply shrug and say: "Good luck to you all."
Do the Europpeasers really want to go it alone? It’s an ugly, dangerous world out there.
“Well That’s a Bloody Give-Away” (Posted November 19, 2003)
The Chinese have been charming neighbors lately.
Then the Taiwanese had the nerve to be all prosperous and stuff. The ingrates don’t want to be ruled by a brutal, bloodthirsty, soul-crushing Communist dictatorship. Imagine!
So the Chinese in Peking reminded the little upstarts what it means when Peking says that taking over Taiwan is their primary goal:
"If the Taiwan authorities collude with all splittist forces to openly engage in pro-independence activities and challenge the mainland and the one-China principle, the use of force may become unavoidable," said Wang, vice minister of the Chinese Cabinet's Taiwan Affairs Office.
Like I’ve said, take their words seriously. Peking wants Taiwan and the Taiwanese are in a window of vulnerability while Chinese power waxes and Taiwanese power is on a slower rise that we are urgently trying to correct.
The Chinese know that in time, Taiwan will have more formidable defenses or, more frighteningly, nuclear weapons.
“A Stinging Setback for a Sense of Reality” (Posted November 19, 2003)
Iran has violated its commitment to refrain from nuclear weapons development and has admitted to 18 years of deceit.
So, you’re a European diplomat charged with crafting an appropriate response. Do you, A, carpet bomb them; B, ignore them and hope they go away; C, warn them—again—of serious consequences if they don’t stop; or D, reward them?
Collect your prize if you said D:
In a stinging setback for Washington, the U.N. atomic agency is ready to support a European initiative to reward Iran's sudden openness about its nuclear program instead of censuring it for past cover-ups, diplomats said Wednesday.
Oh thank you for admitting your secret nuclear ambitions!! We are not worthy of your candor! Please, Gunter, bring me my purse!
It must sound more sophisticated in French.
"Sanctuary" (Posted November 18, 2003)
While Afghanistan continues to complain about Pakistan's inability to shut down Taliban and al Qaeda camps along Pakistan's border, the US is satisfied with Pakistan's efforts in the border zone. This is probably because the US has CIA, FBI and Special Forces agents operating with the Pakistani troops in the area. The Taliban and al Qaeda support in the area won't be eliminated overnight, nor will the camps. Pakistan is also shutting down Islamic schools run by radicals and cracking down on fund raising for Islamic radicals. 
Good news indeed, quietly being carried out.
"Not Clear Who They Work For" (Posted November 18, 2003)
Why do we not hear of Iraqi protests against the Baathist and jihadist terrorism in Iraq like these?
::Huge anti-terrorism demonstrations were held in Nassiriyah yesterday by students association condemning the attacks on the Italian force carrying signs such as 'No to terrorism. Yes to freedom and peace', and 'This cowardly act will unify us'. I have to add that there were similar demonstrations in Baghdad more than a week ago also by students against the bombings of police stations early this Ramadan. I hope the demonstrations advocates that bugged me are satisfied now. There are also preparations for anti-terror demonstrations before Id (end of Ramadan holidays)
I mean, anytime some Baathist wants to spout off they get their mug on TV. Could it be because the Western press still uses "former" Baathist translators:
At the Palestine Hotel, where I was taunted in the last weeks of Mr. Hussein's terror by officials of his information ministry as "the most dangerous man in Iraq" because of my articles about the regime's brutality, some of the same Iraqis, who now work as interpreters for Western news bureaus, caution me against staying in the 16th-floor room I used to inhabit. [emphasis added]
Surely, it can't be that they want us to fail?
The whole Burns article is good.
"CALL" (Posted November 18, 2003)
The Center for Army Lessons Learned is now CALL—But Not Taught.
Damn shame it is shut down from the public and even many soldiers. Just because idiot journalists scoured it for "gotcha" failures to write about shouldn't mean the whole damn thing is cut off from the users and the public. Heck, just shut down NYT on the Web if that is the reasoning.
Bring back CALL.
“Somebody is Forgetting What Happened in Kosovo” (Posted November 17, 2003)
Via NRO, this article by Fred Kaplan on Slate is mostly about Clark and defending him against an article by a guy named Boyer. I have little to say about Clark since I don’t want this blog to be a general politics blog. I will say that Clark fought the Kosovo War with what he was told he could use; and having won the war under those circumstances, was given a raw deal by losing his job early. Nor do I think he almost started World War III there. I have nothing to say about him as a presidential candidate. But Clark is hated because he was right about the war?
This article relates lessons of a Kosovo War that I don’t recognize.
The author dismisses Boyer’s contention that going to war in Kosovo and Iraq both lacked UN authorization:
In fact, the two wars—both their beginnings and their conduct—were extremely dissimilar. True, when Clinton realized Russia and China would veto a resolution calling for intervention, he backed away from the Security Council. However, he did not subsequently piece together a paltry, handpicked caricature of a coalition, as Bush did for the war in Iraq. Instead, he went through another established international organization—NATO.
He later notes that some called NATO’s war-by-committee a lesson in how not to wage a war. In defense the author writes:
Maybe. But is there much doubt today that Clark was correct in this choice? Does anyone care to argue that intervening in Kosovo was a bad idea, that the Western alliance wasn't (at least for a brief spell) strengthened as a result, or that the war was unsuccessful? Milosevic surrendered, was captured, and is standing trial for war crimes in a court of international law—which is more than can be said of Saddam Hussein. The Serbian defeat was total, unchallenged, and internationally imposed, which may explain why the (truly multinational) postwar peacekeeping forces have suffered minimal casualties in the intervening years.
I can’t let this stand.
First of all, I thought the UN was the only international body capable of legitimizing force. This is what the anti-war’s argument says. So what if NATO approved? When only one body can authorize a war, what does it matter if some alliance approves? I don’t happen to agree with that sentiment, but if you do, why is NATO authorization superior to Congressional authorization?
And NATO was strengthened? Get real. Kosovo had to be won, it was said at the time, or NATO would collapse. How strong was the alliance in 1999 if a third-rate state could undermine it? NATO has a role and Kosovo was irrelevant. Or does Kaplan think NATO would not have dispatched AWACS to help us after 9-11 or sent troops to Afghanistan if it hadn’t been for the Kosovo War?
Oh, and this is good. Iraq had a “paltry, handpicked caricature of a coalition?” Britain committed troops in large numbers on the ground and Australia committed its special forces, too. Plus allies helped with air power and other small contingents. And what was NATO’s mighty contribution in Kosovo? Some British strike aircraft. Some French aircraft, against which must be balanced their leaking of strike details to the Serbs. And a few other small contingents. NATO provided some bases but so did Kuwait and other bilateral allies of ours in the region. Let’s get real, here. We had a far more effective and substantial coalition helping us in the Iraq War than in the Kosovo War.
The junk in the second paragraph I quote is amazing. First of all, who on Earth ever said that deposing Milosevic was immoral or a bad idea? Or that the Kosovars are better off under Serb rule and oppression? Nobody. Such foolishness is reserved for the anti-war side today which can’t seem to concede that overthrowing Saddam was definitely a good thing.
Kaplan takes a cheap shot that Milosevic surrendered and is now on trial unlike Saddam. Can Kaplan not admit we got lucky? The Serbs themselves dumped Milosevic after the war was over. There was no NATO unit standing outside Milosevic’s palace demanding his surrender. And Milosevic is unpunished more than four years after the war. I wouldn’t bet that Saddam won’t go meet his 92 raisins or whatever he gets when our troops ice his sorry ass as he tries to sneak through Coalition lines dressed in a burqua. We got freaking lucky.
And why do I say this? Because NATO’s victory was not as Kaplan described it, “total, unchallenged, and internationally imposed.” Our 2-1/2 months of air strikes barely dented the Serb military in Kosovo and it marched out in good order. Oh sure, Milosevic probably feared he would get pasted once we gathered ourselves for a ground invasion, but fear of future crushing defeat is not the same as actual total defeat. And I believe the Russians did rather challenge our victory with their sprint to the Kosovo airport in order to physically place themselves as the Serb’s protectors. And since the war was not sanctioned by the UN, how could it possible have been internationally sanctioned? Heck, even the UN approved our occupation of Iraq after the war. Isn’t that international recognition?
Kaplan’s cheap shot that we have suffered few casualties after the Kosovo War is silly. First of all, the numbers may be small but way more have died post-war than in that war. I’ll have to look it up but we may not have lost anybody or at most a few in combat. I dare say that if we occupied the “Serb triangle” by going all the way to Belgrade, we might be faring differently. And in Iraq, if we contented ourselves with only going to liberate the Shia and Kurd areas, we’d have few casualties.
Honest to God, Kaplan’s description and analysis of the Kosovo War is so bad it is hard to believe it got published. It’s hard to believe we witnessed the same war.
Oh, and there is one more difference. In Kosovo, when Europeans begged us to help them with a European problem, we came--as we always have--to help. When we asked Europe for help in Iraq, the called us baby killers--as they always have. Thank God for the strong NATO alliance.
"On the Saddam-Osama Connection" (Posted November 17, 2003)
From Instapundit (who got it elsewhere), a United States Information Agency release:
Bin Laden's "al Qaeda" organization functioned both on its own and through other terrorist organizations, including the Al Jihad group based in Egypt, the Islamic Group also known as el Gamaa Islamia led at one time by Sheik Omar Abdel Rahman, and a number of other jihad groups in countries such as Sudan, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Yemen and Somalia.

Bin Laden, White charged, engaged in business transactions on behalf of Al Qaeda, including purchasing warehouses for storage of explosives, transporting weapons, and establishing a series of companies in Sudan to provide income to al Qaeda and as a cover for the procurement of explosives, weapons, and chemicals, and for the travel of operatives.
Of course, that was 1998. Back then it wasn't a terrible "misconception" of the pro-war side to believe this.
"On Fighting Modern War" (Posted November 17, 2003)
V. D. Hanson comes through again with a good piece. Including this gem:
Thus it is critical for our military to find ways in the chaotic climate of Iraq to reassure Americans that we are on the offensive, always moving, and always finding new ways to target our enemies.
"The French Come Through Again" (Posted November 17, 2003)
French Foreign Minisworm De Villepin thinks our plan to transfer initial sovereignty over to Iraqis by June 2004 is too long. He wants the end of 2003 to be the deadline.
Thank God for the French!
No, really.
Much like they helped us by convincing Saddam that France could indeed save Saddam's hide by stopping our invasion short of his presidential palace, the French bitching about our timetable helps us not look like we are turning tail.
And in truth, we are not. Unfortunately, our continuing convoy ambushes make it seem so. Our continuing casualties are a worry and a tragedy, but don't make the mistake of thinking we must crush all opposition to call this war a success. This is a political and economic problem—not a military problem. The military can only provide a shield for the real metrics of success. This war has always been about creating an Iraq fit for the international community (and its own citizens) and not a threat to us. To that end, we must turn over power to a stable government able to govern and contain or defeat Baathist insurgents. We run those convoys in support of a large American presence until a friendly Iraqi government can successfully rule. Our presence has never been about making Iraq safe for American supply convoys.
Remember the objective.
“And it Works Both Ways” (Posted November 16, 2003)
This article notes rightly that the American public will accept casualties if it thinks we will win. I think this is correct but incomplete. The public also needs to believe the cause is worth the loss of life. Certainly, the public will support a brief incursion if it is victorious even if prior to the fight the public never heard of it (like Grenada). But our public also wants to fight for a real reason. During the 1990s our military got involved in numerous “optional” missions like Somalia, Haiti, Bosnia, and Kosovo, where no real national interest was involved or where allies with more interest should have taken the lead. In those cases, naturally the public will turn on the mission when casualties mount.
But remember the article’s main argument that support for fighting requires confidence in winning. As I’ve noted before, our enemies will gladly sacrifice themselves and flock to jihad when they think they will win. When they think America is weak and will retreat after 18 dead, or a barracks of Marines, then the belief that a city of dead will cause us to collapse is not hard to cultivate. When we reach around the globe and come after them, it changes the calculus. It is a different thing altogether to pack your bags and fight us if you think you will die and it will be for nothing.
This calculation one reason why our enemies picked up their activities after initial decisive victories in both Afghanistan and Iraq. At first they were stunned into submission. But after a while they recovered and started the battle again. This is why I warned that the failure of the Taliban government to completely destroy the Northern Alliance should be a lesson to us. Although pushed into a corner of Afghanistan, they remained alive to win once they got our full support. The Pakistan sanctuary for the Taliban and al Qaeda cannot stand. Nor can the Iranian and Syrian sanctuaries (in a lesser degree) for the Baathist-allied jihadists stand. Letting enemies escape to fight another day probably means they will fight again when that day arrives. Killing our enemies is still a major objective even in the age of computers and satellites.
So one of our problems in the war on terror is the pauses in fighting the major sponsors of terror. Our enemies think they survived our worst and then they come out, dust themselves off, and look to hit us again. We have to find ways of keeping the pressure on our enemies without exhausting ourselves in the process. Likewise, staying involved in the war in a high profile way ensures that our public doesn’t forget that we are at war. Remember in World War II that we invaded Vichy-controlled North Africa in 1942 because it seemed to our government that we had to be seen fighting the Germans rather than just build up for the invasion of France at some point in the future.
I know I said that our military needs to rest and our public needs to regain its composure after two wars in two years, but we must create the image of forward progress in a very public way. Quiet advances against terrorists aren’t enough. Quietly squeezing North Korea isn’t enough. Suppressing insurgents in Iraq and Afghanistan isn’t enough. We must do these, but also more.
We don’t want a mission that breaks our already stressed military, of course, but we need to do something visible that advances our final victory. This will strengthen our public’s resolve and demoralize our enemies. It is not enough to be winning, we must project the image that we are winning.
Since I think Iran is the target for 2005—to press for revolution or to bomb the nuclear facilities—what do we do in 2004? I’m thinking Somalia. We think al Qaeda has plotted out of there and we could carry out some high profile raids with special forces and air power.
“I’m Not Sure What Defense is Denying” (Posted November 15, 2003)
DOD issued a statement on the purported leaked memo. Seems like it is authentic since DOD confirms the memo, but DOD seems to be denying—sort of—that it confirms links. The statement says no analysis has confirmed links, yet it confirms the specifics although noting they are raw or other organizations’ reports:
The items listed in the classified annex were either raw reports or products of the CIA, the NSA, or, in one case, the DIA. 
Be interesting to see the news on Sunday.
“Our Wounded” (Posted November 15, 2003)
One thing that we need to attend to is our ability to help our wounded soldiers who survive with grievous injuries. In past wars, they would have died. Now we owe it to them to rebuild their lives as much as possible and allow them to create their own life.
Perhaps we need to work harder to keep even wounded soldiers in service in desk jobs here at home if they want to serve still. With the Department of Defense working to divert manpower to combat and away from a lot of the support jobs, this seems like a win-win to stay within personnel caps and help our wounded.
“Strategic Competitor” (Posted November 15, 2003)
China, as long as it keeps its military sheathed, will increasingly rival us for influence in the Far East:
Though many in Asia remain wary of rising Chinese power, perceptions of China are shifting across the region. In Southeast Asia, China has played down territorial disputes and promised to share its growing prosperity through investments and trade benefits. In South Korea, it has replaced the United States as the top trading partner and won praise for trying to resolve the nuclear standoff with North Korea. And in Australia, Chinese President Hu Jintao last month became the first Asian leader to address parliament.
Our move to alter our military posture in the Western Pacific is clearly a timely change. We need forces flexible enough to react to threats from a region stretching from North Korea to Australia. Being fixed in the face of a collapsing but still dangerous North Korean threat keeps us from being able to react to China with full effect.
And unless Taiwan decides it wants to unite with China on the mainland’s terms (or if Taiwan thinks we will abandon them to their fate and so surrender on terms), I imagine that Chinese dreams of ruling Taiwan will eventually manifest themselves and give a reality check to the Far Eastern states who now see China with some respect.
And remember, though we work to cooperate, China is a dictatorship:
Perhaps the Bush administration believes that other interests are served by subordinating democracy to concerns such as cooperation on Iraq, terrorism and North Korea. But that cooperation is usually exaggerated, and in fact China serves its own interests in every case. A real friend would give sanctuary to North Korean refugees and use economic leverage to pressure Pyongyang, the most repressive regime in existence. Let's see how cooperative China is in creating a unified and democratic Korean Peninsula.
Or who knows, maybe economic success will make China a satisfied power.
“Case Closed” (Posted November 15, 2003)
Weekly Standard is up. Read it closely:
According to the memo--which lays out the intelligence in 50 numbered points--Iraq-al Qaeda contacts began in 1990 and continued through mid-March 2003, days before the Iraq War began. Most of the numbered passages contain straight, fact-based intelligence reporting, which in some cases includes an evaluation of the credibility of the source. This reporting is often followed by commentary and analysis.
Interestingly enough, Feith, who wrote the memo in question, said this in response to a question of why Iraq and not North Korea or Iran at remarks to the Council on Foreign Relations:
First of all, on the issues of Saddam's intentions. We knew that he had these programs - these weapons of mass destruction, we knew that he had used it.  We knew that he had relationships with various terrorist organizations and supported them in various ways, including by the way, in some cases in connection with training and exercising regarding chemical weapons, we had information about that in exchanges between the Saddam Hussein regime and terrorist organizations in that area.  But our information is, as everybody knows, never complete about a subject like that - never perfect, and the idea that we didn't have, you know specific proof that he was planning to give a biological agent to a terrorist group doesn't really lead you to anything because you wouldn't expect to have that information even if it were true. I mean our intelligence is just not – it’s just not at the point where if Saddam had that intention that we would necessarily know it. What we knew were the things I said from which one could infer he had these connections, he supported the terrorist groups, the danger was there. So I think it was, as I said, reasonable to take that threat seriously.
Statements disparaging Iraq-al Qaeda links by some administration critics who should know better is shameful. Unless this turns out to be a fake leak, I think we can end the accusations being thrown about on this front. Indeed, the linkage is far greater than I imagined it might be. Indeed, I may need to rethink my reluctance to call Iraq the central front in the war on terror. Clearly, destroying Saddam’s regime was important to denying al Qaeda the ability to hit us with WMD.
And make no mistake, our terrorist enemies dream of using chemical and bugs:
The al-Qaida terror network is determined to use chemical and biological weapons and is restrained only by the technical difficulties of doing so, a U.N. expert panel said in a confidential report.
I assume they are not averse to killing us with dirty bombs, and nukes. Or just large conventional bombings.
And the question of whether Saddam managed to get some WMD out of the country before we invaded is an urgent question to answer.
This war is far from over.
“Will Wonders Never Cease?” (Posted November 15, 2003)
NRO mentioned this last night and today I read about it on Instapundit. From the NY Post:
Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein gave terror lord Osama bin Laden's thugs financial and logistical support, offering al Qaeda money, training and haven for more than a decade, it was reported yesterday.
The Weekly Standard website, which had the memo (a 16-page memo to the Senate Intelligence Committee) describing the links, has been down since last night.
If true, important arguments made by the anti-war side fall away. Iraq is only a target if they are supporting terrorism against us. Check (or rather double check, since it was always clear that Saddam supported terrorism). Attacking Iraq is a distraction against the war on terror? Nope.
Of course, they deny that we are at war against terrorism and their supporters, so I never understood how these arguments squared with the basic position, but that is another point altogether.
This also answers the question of some as to why Iraq and not Iran or North Korea first. Iran and North Korea may be further along on the nuclear track than Iraq, but Iraq was neck-deep in the muck with al Qaeda.
“Reason for Optimism” (Posted November 15, 2003)
This is one of the reasons (thanks to Instapundit) our change of course on Iraqi governance worries me:
U.S. TV network news about Iraq as distorted as al-Jazeera? Checking in from Iraq on Wednesday’s Hardball with Chris Matthews as part of that show’s look this week at “Iraq: The Real Story,” Bob Arnot highlighted a Muslim ayatollah in Iraq who “is furious at the press coverage. He says not only American television, but Arabic satellite TV, such as Al-Jazeera and the Abu Dhabi station, have mis-portrayed the great success that is Iraq after the fall of Saddam Hussein.”
Kudos to Chris Matthews and Bob Arnot. Matthews sometimes makes me uneasy with his populism and attitude. Sometimes he is good, too. Here, his willingness to be the contrarian helps with reporting. Arnot has been consistently good at telling about what is going right even as he acknowledges the problems.
This report is exactly why I am uneasy at our change of direction regarding setting up a national Iraqi government. I think most of the metrics are going well. Even the military trends, though bad right now, cannot defeat our military and are still militarily insignificant in the big picture. We need to counter this trend and gain the initiative to defeat the Baathists and Islamists, but this doesn’t mean the political front needs to change.
So why are we changing? Is intelligence on Iraq really pessimistic? Does the administration truly fear defeat in Iraq or defeat at home that would lead to defeat in Iraq? This is possible, but I hoped that the administration is made of sterner stuff.
Or are we apparently taking a risk in order to make sure this President can take care of the Axis of Evil by the end of his second term? I do worry that whoever takes over in 2009 will not be as committed to winning this war (until another 9-11 that is). If President Bush wants to finish the hard tasks before he leaves office, it makes sense that we take action against Iran in 2005 and spend his second term seriously squeezing North Korea to cause collapse by 2009.
I concede that I don’t know a lot about what is going on. My judgment is thus based on incomplete information. But who knows, maybe this move is actually based on optimistic intelligence about what will happen in the next ten months or so.
Last minute addition: the timetable for Iraqi self-governance doesn’t look so bad from this article. Perhaps much like the reporting on the situation in Iraq, the reporting on this development is needlessly infecting me with worry. We’ll see.
“Mid-Course Adjustment?” (Posted November 14, 2003)
The plans to put power into the hands of a national provisional government early next year in Iraq worry me. Although Baathist attacks and our casualties have gone up in the last month, other measures of progress are trending our way. Given that I think that the troop strength in Iraq is more than adequate, the combat trends shouldn’t necessarily mean we need to change course. Suppressing insurgents takes time.
Of course, the willingness to change when confronted with difficulties is needed to win; but a panicky change that undermines our progress when resolute commitment to the existing plan would work is wrong.
I just don’t know what our change of plans means.
I am worried that the crawl-walk-run sequence of Iraqi governance is being undermined. Local governments are working. Why rush straight to national elections? Step up to provincial government and constitution-writing first. The French and Germans won’t be sending any troops whether we stand up a national government next year or the year after.
And our shortened timetable for getting Iraqis on the line is a bit worrisome, but this has also been misconstrued to make it seem more hasty than it is. As I understand it, part of the acceleration is made by emphasizing infrastructure security troops who need little training over priority training of Iraqi army forces, which need extensive training. And these men we are recruiting do have army experience. Some complain that we can’t properly screen for Baathists with these short training periods, but is this really inferior to simply taking old Iraqi army units into service as some have called for? And this is leaving aside the fact that the old army disbanded itself during our invasion so we couldn’t do this even if wise to do so.
And I’m wary of bringing in air power. We can demolish buildings from the ground. We already control the ground, remember? Why air strikes? We don’t want to give the impression that we are facing tougher opposition than we are. Sure, we want Iraq standing on its feet for the most part and our troop strength in Iraq reduced if we want to confront Iran in 2005. But try to keep this a policing problem and not a military problem. This isn’t to say that we don’t fight them and kill them. My point is that we need to accomplish this at the lowest level of violence possible since we are fighting amidst people we want on our side. This is the opposite of the rapid, overwhelming, and brutal violence we inflicted on Iraqi forces during the invasion. We’re already putting British special forces into Baghdad. We need more of these types of soldiers on the ground striking fear into the Baathists. Of course, air power is fine out in the boonies away from civilians.
But I’m uncomfortable with these changes. They don’t sit right for some reason. We’ll see.
"Noncompliance" (Posted November 14, 2003)
What to do about Iran? We know they've hid nuclear programs for up to 18 years in violation of their treaty obligations. We think reasonably enough that this is because they are related to nuclear weapons research. The Iranians deny any programs to build a bomb. The Europeans and others don't want to refer the matter to the UN Security Council where sanctions would be the logical next step to punish Iran.
One would think Iran's reaction to the threat of referral to the UNSC would be instructive:
Tehran warned Thursday the crisis surrounding Iran's nuclear program could escalate if the IAEA finds it in breach of its NPT obligations and reports it to the Security Council.

"Things could very easily get out of control," Iran's ambassador to the IAEA, Ali Akbar Salehi, told Reuters, adding that "it could lead to unpredictable consequences."
Hmm. The Iranians deny any intent to build nuclear bombs, yet declare that any move to punish them for violations could get "out of control" and lead to "unpredictable consequences."
Like reversing their long-held aversion to nukes and building them just to get even?
Let's get serious here, people. Iran wants the bomb. Our acting to stop them will not provoke nuclear armament. A European-led tongue-lashing will do nothing.
Rule number two in international relations: Mullahs with nuclear weapons is a bad thing.
A recent press briefing had some useful numbers for looking at counter-insurgency. I earlier posted about an article that discussed counter-insurgency in terms of numbers of security personnel per 1,000 population, and this briefing provided them by region.
It showed 101st AB in the Kurdish areas, The Polish and British divisions in the Shia areas, and 82nd AB, 4th ID, and 1st AD in the Sunni center. With 130,000 American troops in fifteen brigades, lets round it down and call it 8,000 troops per brigade “Slice.” This slide breaks down the Iraqi security forces by area.
There is overlap of course in the population, so it isn’t quite accurate to do this, but its close enough for blogging. Let’s say 5,000,000 people in the Kurdish areas, 5,000,000 Sunnis in the center, and 15,000,000 Shias in the south.
In the south, call it 22,000 British- and Polish-led allied forces. Add in 39,000 Iraqi security forces. The 15,000,000 Shias in the south thus have about 4.1 security personnel per 1,000 people.
In the Kurdish areas call it 24,000 Americans plus 24,000 Iraqi security forces. The 5,000,000 Kurds have 9.6 security personnel per 1,000 people.
In the critical Sunni triangle, we have 96,000 US troops plus 37,000 Iraqi security forces. The 5,000,000 Sunnis, where I imagine most of the 5,000 maximum Baathists are fighting, have 26.6 security personnel per 1,000 people.
The Shia ratio looks good, just above normal US police levels. The Kurdish areas are pretty high for policing and little resistance but with Turkish-Kurd complications, having triple US police levels is probably prudent.
The crucial center has well over the 20 per 1,000 ratio that existed in Malaya. The Baathists are able to make their small presence felt with the vast amounts of money, plentiful ammo, and released criminals willing to attack for money. And of course, the press coverage magnifies their successes.
I don’t think we need more foreign troops, US or allied. Getting more Iraqis and deploying existing forces to guard ammo dumps until they can be destroyed are necessary, but the numbers look good for defeating the insurgents. It just takes time, though. Remember, we have to do it with minimum firepower as we fight among civilians. Our firepower and high tech advantages are minimized in police operations and we just can’t replicate our conventional speed of operations.
Patience. My amateur number crunching looks good.
“The Enemy” (Posted November 13, 2003)
Numbers no more than 5,000 in Iraq. That isn’t a whole lot. They don’t seem to operate in more than fire team to squad strength. This makes it possible to spread out our Coalition forces without creating opportunities for Baathists to overrun security posts or patrols.
Our military operations, as important as they are, can only buy time for the real metrics of success. General Abizaid understands this:
"It is very important that as we progress militarily, we also progress politically and economically, so as to get these angry young men off the streets," Abizaid said.
Cut off the money. Cut off the arms. Cut off the foreign jihadists. Isolate the battlefield and emphasize special forces on offensive missions. And kill Saddam.
“Ted Rall is a Vile Piece of Living Garbage” (Posted November 13, 2003)
In his mind, Iraqis only genuinely display patriotism by supporting Saddam. Helping us is by definition treason to Rall’s mind. The anti-war side is welcome to have this Baathist wannabe. (“Thanks” to Andrew Sullivan for this heads up. Like Krugman, Rall is someone I avoid reading just to keep my blood pressure down)
I’m amazed, saddened, and disgusted.
And this was Teddy’s Veterans Day column.
“Iron Hammer” (Posted November 13, 2003)
We are ramping up the force used against the jihadists and Baathists in Iraq:
American forces carried out two ferocious airstrikes Wednesday evening against suspected loyalists of Saddam Hussein's regime, signaling a new and more aggressive strategy to regain the initiative in the guerrilla war now raging across the country's Sunni Muslim heartland.
This is good if it is precisely used. If we get proper intelligence and show restraint along with force, we can hurt the resistance:
Wednesday evening, Captain Gercken suggested that that was changing. American commanders, he said, had been deluged in recent days by Iraqis coming forward with information about the insurgents.
A stability operation like this is not a traditional military operation but more like a police problem. We can’t afford to strike hard and kill innocent civilians in the process. In our own country, remember the Philadelphia MOVE incident many years ago. Whackos looked like they were preparing for war and the Philadelphia police responded by dropping a bomb on the roof of their house to destroy what the police thought was a fortified position. The resulting fire burned down the block and caused an uproar. And rightly so. It was a stupid freaking decision. It was also morally indefensible.
Keep this in mind when we fight in Iraq. Frustration that a small number of people are fighting us cannot lead us to forget that far more are friendly and even more just want to be left alone.We must stay highly focused so that the fence-sitters see us as protecting their new lives and not killing their family and friends.
“Preparing for the Future” (Posted November 13, 2003)
We are transforming our global deployment to end the Cold War traditional deployment and create a force agile enough for the war on terrorists and their sponsors and for preempting nuclear threats. Right now the focus is Asia:
The changes will be part of a worldwide adjustment of U.S. forces to reflect Rumsfeld's view that the static defensive positions adopted by the United States and its traditional allies during the Cold War are not well suited to meet the evolving security threats of the 21st century.
We may also deploy a carrier battle group to Guam, according to the article, or perhaps Hawaii, to be closer than our West Coast bases.
“Iraqi Government” (Posted November 13, 2003)
We are trying to move authority to Iraqis. Since different departments and agencies in the US government have advocated different methods and timetables, I’m not sure what to make of this. We of course need to adjust plans in response to reality, but I hope we are not panicking. Recent blog postings about the apparent quagmire in Germany and in Japan after the war should remind us that we’ve faced bad situations before. But Iraq in 2003 is not Germany in 1946, nor is this a reason to make no changes. It sure beats turning over Iraq to the international community.
Still, as I’ve repeatedly said, we don’t need to turn over a Vermont-like Iraq to the Iraqis to call this war a success. Countries all around the world fight domestic insurgents and terrorists and even freedom fighters without America lifting a finger. We need enough Iraqis to take on the bulk of the security jobs and we can focus on offensive missions until the Iraqis can take on these, too.
Eventually, we will base troops in Iraq with Iraqi consent without being involved in the day-to-day policing.
We’d do a lot getting Saddam, too. Unfortunately, failure to get him leads many Iraqis to worry that the constant noise of “bring the troops” home over here will lead us to cut and run, paving the way for Saddam to return. According to the unacknowledged CIA report on these worries:
"It says that this is an insurgency, and that it is gaining strength because Iraqis have no confidence that there is anyone on the horizon who is going to stick around in Iraq as a real alternative to the former regime," one American official said.
I’ve worried from the beginning that to run down the Saddamites, Iraqis must believe we’ve put a stake through the heart of the monster Saddam. His shadow is too large and his rule too brutal for Iraqis to assume we are there to win. Sadly, since the anti-war side here and abroad gives the impression that they’d be just fine with leaving Iraq now, we need to get more Iraqis pulling triggers against the Baathists. We need to get Iraqis to have the means and motives to win by making losing too awful to contemplate.
I wonder what new excuse the Europeans will come up with to avoid shouldering responsibilities once an Iraqi government is in place?
“Kill Saddam—But Get a Grip on Reality, Too” (Posted November 13, 2003)
It sounds like Saddam really is central to inspiring and maybe organizing the resistance. After being shocked and awed, the Baathists learned that American troops are human rather than the superhuman killing machines they were in the war. But this is the lead paragraph of the story:
The recent string of high-profile attacks on U.S. and allied forces in Iraq has appeared to be so methodical and well crafted that some top U.S. commanders now fear this may be the war Saddam Hussein and his generals planned all along.
I think the idea that he planned to get pasted to fight us now is highly silly. It is a symptom of the ability of some to assume any development must mean we are being out-fought or out-thought. We waxed Saddam’s regime and we are succeeding in creating a free Iraq so far. We have not fallen into his diabolically clever plan for our ultimate destruction.
Also note that what the American general said is different from the lead: “I believe Saddam Hussein always intended to fight an insurgency should Iraq fall”. The general actually said that Saddam was prepared to fight irregular should he be defeated. That is just common sense and not a planned conventional defeat as the story is being told by the media.
“Then It’s Just Us Then” (Posted November 13, 2003)
Our allies are rethinking plans to send troops to Iraq in the wake of the Italian base bombing.
Is this the kind of resolve we want in Iraq? Before the war, I wanted allies to help us in the post-war so that our troops wouldn’t be tied down in stability operations. Our excellent troops are best in combat and lose their wide advantage over enemies when doing foot patrols. Allied troops can substitute in this case and be effective but not in combat. We have few troops to go around after all.
But after we tried mightily to gain the help of our allies, they walked away from us. So we had to do the job. Britain and Australia and small numbers from other countries helped us.
But we already see that the silly notion that allied forces would not be attacked as Americans are is false. Now we can see what would have happened if we had pulled out and turned over policing duties to allies—they’d lose their nerve and look for a way out.
According to news report on TV, we face perhaps a couple thousand dead-enders. We may also face a couple hundred jihadists. With more and more Iraqis standing up to fight for their new Iraq, it looks like it will be up to Americans and Iraqis to beat the murdering, rapist bastards who destroyed Iraq these last three decades. We’ll see how long the Brits stand with us. And we must temporarily turn two of our heavy divisions into medium motorized infantry outfits.
Drive on. Kill the SOBs. Kill or capture Saddam.
And reorient our Army to fight largely alone. For too long we’ve assumed allied help. When Europe needed help in the Balkans, we were there shouldering the burden. Just like we have been in their other conflicts (excepting the Suez fiasco in 1956). Now when we need them, they are AWOL.
As I believe V. D. Hanson noted, we need to redefine a number of traditional allies into friends or competitors. New alliances for a new world are in order.
And the next crisis in the Balkans? None of our business, eh?
“Funny Tolerance” (Posted November 13, 2003)
The Brits (and if many Brits are feeling this way, it is worse on the continent) are displaying some anti-Americanism, blaming it on Bush:
"People repeatedly say it isn't Americans we don't like, it is just Bush. He pushes hot buttons. Bush has so much to do with this rather stupendous fall-off in American popularity. It is quite amazing to think where we were the day after September 11 and how much of that goodwill has been squandered."
It is amazing that a continent that shows stupid tolerance of unassimilated Moslems who like their honor killings and violence so much that they can’t bear to part with them when living in Europe can’t apparently keep a civil tongue around Americans.
If gaining their sympathy means being a perpetual victim, then tough.
I am disappointed in the British. I don’t know how much of this is the press wanting to see anti-Bushism and how much it is real, but it is still disappointing.
"International Resolve" (Posted November 12, 2003)
The international community failed to unite to impress upon Saddam the need to comply with UN resolutions and verifiably disarm his WMD and WMD programs. Then complained bitterly and obstructed us when we decided not to trust the intentions of Saddam.
Now, we have Iran admitting to violations of its obligations regarding nuclear technology. The IAEA's report verifies our suspicions of a secret nuclear program:
"The report is a stunning revelation of how far a country can get in making The Bomb, while pretending to comply with international inspections," said Gary Milhollin of the Wisconsin Project on Nuclear Arms Control, a Washington-based think-tank. "This is a classic case of a bomb in the basement."

"Iran has secretly enriched uranium, made plutonium, and hidden the evidence of it from the world," he told Reuters. "There's only one reason why anybody would do that -- because they want to make the bomb."
Hans Blix is of course unconcerned, the IAEA is unwilling to admit that a secret peaceful nuclear program is highly unlikely to say the least, and the Europeans are unwilling to confront Iran:
When it comes to reporting Iran to the Security Council for sanctions, Washington has few allies on the IAEA board, diplomats said, with most members supporting France, Germany and Britain, who would rather encourage cooperation with the U.N. watchdog than punish past failures.
The Europeans encourage the Iranians alright. The same way they encouraged Saddam to believe he could get away with keeping as much of his WMD programs as he could until the Europeans could get us to leave him alone.
Will the Europeans never learn that talking with madmen determined to have atomic bombs is folly?
"I gave Lynch a Bum Rap" (Posted November 12, 2003)
It is a relief to report that Lynch did not badmouth the Army, as I thought:
CNN’s Paula Zahn attempted and failed to put anti-Pentagon talking points in former POW Jessica Lynch’s mouth. During the Monday night edition of Paula Zahn Now, she proposed to Time magazine’s Nancy Gibbs, who was on to discuss her interview with Lynch featured in the November 17 issue of the magazine: “She feels quite used by the U.S. government, does she not?" When Gibbs rejected the characterization, Zahn remained undeterred and issued another claim which Gibbs undermined. Zahn maintained that Lynch “has also made it quite clear she's resentful” of how imagery of her rescue was used “to support the war effort."
"Troop Strength Debate" (Posted November 12, 2003)
I have not been too receptive to the idea that we need more troops for Iraq. I'm still not, but I must look for more information on this since the 10:1 rule I noted earlier may not be all it's cracked up to be. I assumed that 250,000 security forces could handle at least 25,000 dead enders. I don't think anywhere near that many are running loose in Iraq. But this confidence may be misguided. Indeed, the article quotes, " Much nonsense is heard on the subject of tie-down ratios in guerrilla warfare--that 10 to 12 government troops are needed to tie down a single guerrilla, for instance. This is a dangerous illusion, arising from a disregard of the facts." I will consider whether I have been dangerously deluded.
Force per 1,000 population may be a better guide:
Force ratios above ten per thousand have been mounted in stability operations. In 1952 the British forces in the Malayan Emergency deployed close to 40,000 regular troops from Britain and the Commonwealth as well as the regulars of the Malay Regiment itself.[10] At the same time, the police force had 29,800 regular police together with 41,300 special constables,[11] for a total full-time security force of more than 111,000. With a population at the time of 5,506,000, the British generated a force ratio of about 20 per thousand of population. If the Home Guard force of 210,000 (1953 strength, not all of whom were either armed or active at any given time) were added to the previous figure, the force ratio would be even higher.
In Northern Ireland the British government deployed for more than 25 years a security force of around 32,000 (including both British military forces and the Royal Ulster Constabulary) to secure a total population of just over 1.6 million, giving a force ratio of about 20 per thousand. The British have recently reduced their military forces as part of an ongoing peace process.
Looking at Iraq, we have 130,000 US troops, 20,000 allied troops, and say 100,000 Iraqi security forces. This totals 250,000 troops to police 25,000,000. This puts us at a 10 per thousand ratio. The Malay Emergency was at the high end of the ratios noted but may be instructive. We could, if this line of reasoning is right, need closer to 500,000 security people. We don't need to worry about the Northern Ireland example since we are not policing with the goal of remaining in political control. Thank God.
Also note that British or Commonwealth troops in Malaya were but a fraction of the total. This shows that the burden of providing numbers doesn't need to lie on US shoulders and that putting Iraqis up against the Baathists will do just fine for the bulk numbers. This bolsters the common sense notion that it is silly to demand that every street corner needing a guard presence must use highly trained American soldiers rather than local police.
In addition, when calculating the ratio, the base of 25,000,000 is most assuredly too high. Why should we treat Iraq as a unit when it is really a three-part state with populations having widely varying degrees of hostility or friendship? The 5,000,000 Kurds seem to be doing fine policing their own. For the Shias, the 15,000,000 of this group certainly will call on a far lower ratio of security personnel. Both Shias and Kurds need to be protected from Baathists and not policed to keep them from fighting us, and will need far lower ratios. In the US, we're talking police strength of say 3 per thousand people. In the US zone of occupation in Germany in the fall of 1945, when we went over to constabulary units, the raio went down to 2.2 US troops per thousand to handle policing (and how many murders do we accept as normal per year?).
If we assume the Shias and Kurds will call for a ratio of 3 per thousand in a protective mode, the 20,000,000 Shias and Kurds will need 60,000 security personnel for protection. This leaves 190,000 security personnel for the 5,000,000 Sunnis. This puts us at 38 security personnel per one thousand.
The ample supplies of money and weapons make the resisting Baathists in the Sunni areas a potent threat, but under this analysis, we still don't need more troops.
Still, this is based on one article and I shall keep on the lookout for more information on this subject. Wouldn't want to dangerously disregard the facts, God forbid.
Even worse would be pouring American troops into Iraq when we don't need them, can't use them, and can't sustain them without breaking the Army.
"Somebody Thinks Syria Should Be Targeted" (Posted November 12, 2003)
It's hard not to argue against a hard line on Syria:
Regime change must be our goal, because nothing else will work. The Syrian Baathists will do what their Iraqi brethren did. Stall, talk, whine to the U.N., and continue their business of supporting terrorism. Before we decide to remove Assad militarily, we should yank the diplomatic levers with all the force we can muster. Just because Foggy Bottom doesn't think we have any way to change Syria's conduct diplomatically don't mean it's so. In fact, there are a lot of ways we should be turning up the heat on Bashar Assad, and some may reduce his ability to provide financial support for terrorists.
We have had the patience of a corpse as we've waited for the Syrian government to mend its ways. When Israel stood on the frontline and was the final guarantor (along with Turkey) that Syria could be checked from harming our interests, patience was understandable. We had other problems to deal with and nobody to deal with them.
Now, we are on the frontline. With the future of Iraq in the balance and Syria assisting our enemies within Iraq, it is time to play hard ball. This doesn't mean we must invade. But the cash flow into and out of Syria must be crippled. The border must be shut down. If necessary, CIA para-militaries must make things go boom in eastern Syria.
I've said it before, I'd settle for Syria seeing the light and halting its patterns of supporting terrorists. But we must be prepared to do what we must if the Syrian government is truly determined to fight us.
"The Armor of Internationalism" (Posted November 12, 2003)
It is with deep regret that I note that our allies the Italians have suffered terribly in a terror bombing in Iraq:
Among the dead, a spokesman for the Carabinieri (police) force in Rome told the Reuters news service, were 11 Italian police officers, three Italian soldiers, an Italian civilian and eight Iraqis.
As with the bombings of the UN and Red Cross, I simply ask why "internationalizing" the occupation force makes it somehow less awful to the Baathists and jihadists who still kill in Iraq? Aren't the Iraqi thugs supposed to get all warm and fuzzy over the multicultural display of international concern for the plight of Iraqis?
It was and is a silly complaint. Whether the troops are US or foreign, those who do not want a free and democratic Iraq will attack them. Indeed, if the troops are Iraqi, the thugs will attack them. The key is that thugs resist, not that good soldiers fight them.
In time, we will have Iraqis in larger numbers fighting the thugs. When routine presence patrols are carried out by Iraqis, we will be in better shape to carry out purely offensive operations.
“I’m Shocked There Is Gambling Going On Upstairs” (Posted November 11, 2003)
Iran manufactured small amounts of enriched uranium and plutonium as part of a nuclear program that operated in secret for 18 years, according to a confidential report by a U.N. agency. The report harshly criticizes Iran for deliberately hiding evidence of its nuclear program from international inspectors and for numerous "breaches" in its nuclear treaty obligations.
“Fine—Stay In Canada” (Posted November 11, 2003)
If this guy thinks that our looking closely at somebody entering our country who has a travel record like his is “ugly” then I don’t trust the kind of Christian-Muslim “understanding” he was coming here to set up.
It’s all about understanding the Islamofascists, isn’t it? One would think a scholar could understand why we guard our borders just a tad more closely in the last two years.
You’d think.
“Keep Them Broken Up” (Posted November 11, 2003)
We continue to mount operations against Taliban and their allies in Afghanistan. No big battles, but this is good. We need to keep them broken up so they are incapable of mounting operations that overrun police posts. Little hit jobs can be handled as the government is built up to handle a police problem.
Our small numbers of highly trained combat troops are good as a fire brigade to toss in whenever the Taliban clump too much. Yet we have a footprint small enough to avoid looking like an occupation.
“Give Them Credit” (Posted November 11, 2003)
They are bombed—again. Amazingly, they aren’t whining about why al Qaeda hates them. No denunciation of their own foreign policy for provoking the attacks. No calls for UN intervention and international justice. Just this:
Saudi Arabia went on the offensive, warning Islamist militants they will be crushed with an "iron fist" after deploying thousands of troops to the holy cities of Mecca and Medina to protect Ramadan pilgrims.
Saudi Arabia certainly bears a lot of responsibility for creating the threat we fight, but I’m happy that they may finally be on board this fight. I know that moral consistency demands that I support an immediate invasion and overthrow of the House of Saud—even at the risk of their museum holdings—but I’ll settle for their support alongside us as long as they are effective.
“507 Maintenance” (Posted November 11, 2003)
The actions attributed to Lynch by the press were probably true—just accomplished by an American soldier who was killed in the ambush. As the initial reports gave way to complaints and then study, it looks like the unit as a whole did ok to get some troops out of the ambush. Individual soldiers fought bravely and hard with what they had; yet the unit as whole was not prepared to defend itself. Weapons should not jam. Everybody should know what to do. From Strategypage again:
November 10, 2003: The controversy over PFC Jessica Lynch is an excellent example of how intelligence can be misinterpreted and twisted all out of proportion. An April 3rd Washington Post article said that "PFC Jessica Lynch... fought fiercely and shot several enemy soldiers after Iraqi forces ambushed the Army's 507th Ordnance Maintenance Company, firing her weapon until she ran out of ammunition". The article also went on to detail how Lynch was shot and stabbed.

The article cited unnamed US officials and noted that they were referencing battlefield intelligence, which comes from monitored communications and from Iraqi sources in Nasiriyah (whose reliability had, at that time, yet to be assessed). On June 17 the Washington Post published a lengthy investigation discrediting some of those initial reports, including it's own exclusive report that she fired back at her attackers. Lynch later admitted that after the accident and with her rifle jammed, she put her head between her hands and prayed.

For 60 to 90 minutes on the morning of March 23rd, 33 soldiers from the 507th Maintenance Company tried make up for a wrong turn while breaking contact with hostile forces. The 1st Battalion, 2nd Marine Regiment, 2nd Marine Expeditionary Brigade attempted to mount a rescue attempt. By the time the shooting stopped, the 507th had lost 11 dead and six captured. The Marines had lost nine men killed.

As reticent as Lynch is now, there were true heroes in that column. 1SG Robert Dowdy was doing a damned good job pulling the pieces of his company out of the ambush, right up until he was killed in a Humvee wreck. PFC Patrick Miller slowed his own vehicle enough to rescue stranded comrades and when finally dismounted, tried to steal a dump truck to get them moving again. Miller took out an Iraqi mortar crew, one by one with a rifle that'd only fire single shots and when his M-16 finally jammed, picked up other's weapon to try to keep fighting and when captured, sang just to annoy the piss out of his captors.

But one of those dead 507th soldiers may have actually performed the deeds attributed to PFC Lynch, to the point where he had the Iraqis talking about him. Donald Walters was a cook with the 507th Maintenance Company, had fought in Operation Desert Storm, before retiring from the Army in 1992. He served in an Army Reserve unit in Independence from May 1996 until July 2002, then reenlisted in 2002 with the 507th to give his family greater stability.

That morning, SGT Walters and PVT Brandon Sloan were in a five-ton tractor-trailer that became disabled. Miller, riding in the 5-ton wrecker behind, picked up Sloan on the fly but no one is sure what happened to Walters. Walters' mother told one reporter that a 507th member who was there that if she should "read a report about a female solder, it was referring to Don". The source said that in translating from the Arabic to the English, genders can get mixed up. Walters noted that both her son and Lynch had blond hair and were very thin, but that the Iraqis may not have noticed that her son was about a foot taller than Lynch.

The Army had provided Water's widow with an autopsy report, which showed that he had been stabbed twice in the stomach and shot in the leg and twice in the back. Both bullets in the back had punctured Water's heart.

Does any of this sound familiar? Like the stab wounds and gunshots that Lynch supposedly suffered?

The Army's report suggests SGT Donald Walters might have been left alone to fight against hostile Iraqi troops, but states "the circumstances of his death cannot be conclusively determined by available information." There's no one left alive who can tell what happened, save for the Iraqis who participated in the attack and it's unlikely they'll ever be willingly found. - Adam Geibel

SGT Donald Walters wrote a children's story about his first fishing trip with his father. His family and an independent illustrator are trying to get the story published.

Visit the SGT Walters Book Project:
On Veterans Day, thank you Sergeant Walters. Thank you Private First Class Miller. Thank you to all of the 507th and the 1-2 Marine battalion of the 2nd Marine Expeditionary Brigade. And thank you Private First Class Lynch. You endured rather than serve as a poster girl for women in combat, but you endured nonetheless. I would, however, appreciate it if you did not belittle the Army for the events since your rescue.
“The Stick In Action” (Posted November 11, 2003)
From, which you really should read every day:
Since the "war" ended on April 30th, and the "pacification" began on May 1st, 148 U.S. troops have been killed in combat. Because of the high casualties from a shot down CH-47D on November 2nd, there were 30 American military deaths in one week. This sent the American senior commanders in Iraq a message, and that was about the inability of the Sunni Arab tribal leaders to control the Baath Party strongmen and al Qaeda radicals hiding among the Sunni population. So now the policy has changed from "carrot" (reconstruction aid and negotiation) to "stick." Aid (except for the bare minimum food and medical assistance) will be withheld from areas where are attacks are made and the locals refuse to provide any information. There will be far more raids and "combat patrols" (that are looking for a fight). Movements of Sunni Arabs outside their towns and neighborhoods will be restricted. But perhaps most scary for Sunni Arabs is the threat of bringing in Kurdish or Shia police and paramilitary units to help with security. The Shia and Kurds hate the Sunni, especially those who actively supported Saddam. These new tactics are already working, as some Sunni tribal chiefs who had been uncooperative have changed their attitude. Chiefs who are defiant, or are caught aiding the attackers, will be jailed, so it can be expected that chiefs will at least appear more cooperative. But the chiefs have another incentive, and that is the presence of many anti-Saddam Sunni Arabs. These have been providing some information to the coalition, which is how the coalition knew anything at all about the Baath Party and al Qaeda networks operating in Sunni areas. But the more aggressive patrolling and stricter movement security makes it easier to follow up on any tips from informants, and harder for Sunni fighters to move around and mount attacks. These new policies will make Sunnis angrier, but the decision has been made that increased anger is not as much a problem as wiping out the Baath and al Qaeda networks in Sunni areas is.
We want to help our friends in Iraq; kill our enemies; and make sure those in the middle know there is a difference in how they will be treated depending on their choice.
"We Tried the Carrot" (Posted November 10, 2003)
Now we will try the stick in Fallujah and Ramadi:
FALLUJAH, Iraq - America's top general in the Middle East has warned community leaders the U.S. military will use stern measures unless they curb attacks against coalition forces, an Iraqi who attended the meeting said Monday.
After working hard to get electricity and other utilities going, to create law and order, and to create democracy, the Sunnis have decided they'd still rather be in charge. Time to reimpose the wisdom that came from the fear of being on the receiving end of shock, awe, and 3rd ID's Abrams tanks.
Carrots and sticks, where appropriate.
More broadly speaking, I wonder if Islamofascists generally are mistaking our strategic pause for weakness. Perhaps we can't embark on major military missions yet and the Iran showdown must wait for early 2005, but we probably should be on the offensive somewhere overtly and very soon. The quiet work of rolling up al Qaeda and their friends is not visible enough.
With news that al Qaeda has used Somalia as a training and staging ground—in particluar the 1998 embassy bombings—perhaps Somalia (with the cooperation of some Somalis in the area attacked) should get some attention from Special Forces soldiers and AC-130 gunships in a very sharp reminder that we have teeth.
It would also help erase the image of the Battle of Mogadishu as a US defeat.
“Saudi Arabian Bombing” (Posted November 9, 2003)
So what does this latest al Qaeda bombing tell us?
One, of course, they are scum who target the innocent. If they can’t get to us, they’ll attack who they can reach.
More important, by striking a country that has and still does fund them and support them ideologically, al Qaeda shows that we cannot placate them. Just what American policy is to be changed to appease al Qaeda terrorists who strike Saudis when in the past the Saudis only insisted that the terrorists not strike Saudi Arabia? Oh, they don’t like our policy on the Palestinian question. They don’t want our troops in Saudi Arabia. What bunk. So mass murder is the proper response to any disagreement? Why do we waste money on precision if that is the case? How can the sophisticated insist that terrorism is a logical response to our grave offense of being successful and unveiled while we must not over-react to terror by using force?
Keep in mind, the Saudis had telethons for suicide bombers and preach extremist Islamism, and generally pose as more Muslim than thou. Still they are attacked by al Qaeda. Clearly, the only way to stop al Qaeda is to kill them.
It should also tell us that all the talk about Iraq distracting us, either America or the West generally, from the war on terror is hogwash. Amazingly, we’ve been free from attack on our shores. I certainly didn’t expect to go more than two years without a repeat big attack. A war did not distract us from an intelligence, financial, educational, and diplomatic problem (with relatively small military involvement, to be sure). And attacks like this focus the minds of people. Even the French must know that they are not secure from attack from thugs such as this. De Villepin could change his name to Al Villepin and veil his mistress, and still the Eiffel Tower would beckon terrorists. The world’s governments have been cooperating with us and they will continue to do so.
Even the Saudis will know that they must fight harder. Their 9-11 was in May and they just got hit again. I think this shows that it would have been a mistake to directly attack the Saudis because of their links to al Qaeda and Islamofascism. Though some argued that purity of purpose required it, the Saudi royal family was never uniformly Islamist. They supported al Qaeda to try and ride the Tiger and direct Islamist wrath elsewhere. Had we directly attacked the Saudi royal family, the royals would have made common cause with the Islamists. I always believed that direct action to overthrow the Saudis was a last resort given the complications that would have resulted (yes, oil). We had other more pressing targets anyway, and gaining Saudi cooperation quietly was the best policy. Now we see the Islamists targeting the Saudi government and people, and other Arabs and Moslems.
Maybe I’m an optimist, but will we see more Saudi telethons for suicide bombers? When the bombers see Saudis and Arabs as targets, too?
The goal is to end terrorism and kill the terrorists, not necessarily punish immediately all who sympathized with the terrorists.
“OIF-2” (Posted November 8, 2003)
The Weekly Standard is pressing for more troops for Iraq but I am not convinced that the numbers of troops we have are insufficient. I strongly disagree with the idea that it is wrong to rely on Iraqis to fight, belittling the idea as “Iraqification” to malign it with a Vietnam comparison.
The problem is, the article is just wrong about some things.
In noting that 1st CAV and 1st ID are going to Iraq, the article incorrectly states, “This will result in only a slight reduction in heavy forces, probably a good idea in itself. There's little need for heavy force, though the armor protection provided by M1 tanks and Bradley fighting vehicles remains quite useful.” This is just a matter of information timing since I didn’t know until today (see “Medium Divisions” below) that the Army is modifying those two divisions to be medium motorized infantry divisions for Iraq. Nonetheless, it is a complaint that is now wrong.
The authors complaints about the Stryker brigade and the Stryker vehicles are hit and miss. Yes it is light. It will be as vulnerable as armored Humvees. The vehicle does not have the 25mm chain gun of the Marine LAV, but the LAV is intended as a recon vehicle. Though the Stryker is superficially similar, the Stryker is intended to be a taxi and not a fighting vehicle. Stryker brigade infantry is to fight on foot with the Stryker simply providing a safe transport vehicle that protects against small arms and shrapnel. Thus, the complaints are right but do not address the different missions. Heck, the LAV is certainly more vulnerable to enemy fire than the heavier Stryker.
The author complains that 82nd AB troops are being replaced by 25th Light troops. He notes that the 25th won’t have the 82nd’s helicopters. I dare say 25th ID (Light) will, since 82nd AB is a parachute unit and those helicopters it is using aren’t organic. 101st AB is a helicopter unit so the loss of this unit loses a major mobility advantage, but I dare say we can scrape up some helicopters for any replacement unit.
Also complained about is the Marine 6-month deployment. Actually it will be 7 months but since Marines usually deploy for 6-7 month tours, this will actually help the Marines maintain their force rotations schedule where they train and then deploy and then recover. If Marine forces need to be used long term, then we can look at reworking Marine scheduling.
The author wants to complain about using reservists but ends up grudgingly complimenting the use of reservists in contrast to Vietnam. I say, be brave! Keeping the country involved in the debate over Iraq by using citizen-soldiers is good. I don’t want the reserves to be overburdened but our reserve combat outfits are not stressed out yet. Eight divisions, 15 enhanced separate brigades, and 3 other brigades, plus lots of artillery brigades and other smaller combat units are available. I don’t know how the author expects us to put more troops into Iraq as he wants to add forces to Iraq but without the Guard.
The author complains about the rotation saying lots of troops will be moving and vulnerable. He also complains that experience will be lost with departing units. I say bull. Troops get tired under long stress. It is good to replace tired men. And we are doing it smart, as entire units so unit cohesion is maximized rather than allowing individuals to rotate in and out as in Vietnam. It is doubly puzzling that the author wants units kept in Iraq indefinitely, not worried about their battle worthiness, yet complains that units rotating out of Iraq will be useless if another crisis develops. Huh? Are units after a year in Iraq effective or ineffective? Pick one and then make your argument.
The author wants more troops sent to Iraq. I disagree. We will be talking maybe 300,000 combined forces. That force could eventually beat 30,000 insurgents. Since our quality is very high, I bet the ratio to win is actually less than the standard 10:1 rule of thumb. With lots of Iraqis, even hastily trained, on simple guard duty, we can save American and the better Iraqi units for offensive missions. Special forces will handle the really quiet work on offense.
Saying that this is Iraq’s fight is not the same as seeking an exit strategy, regardless of victory. The Army needs more troops, but we needed a couple more divisions even before the Iraq War. I don’t think we need to make a bogus argument regarding Iraq troop levels to justify more Army troops generally.
“UN Shows Its Mettle” (Posted November 8, 2003)
By pulling out non-Iraqis temporarily, the UN shows why it should not have primary responsibility for rebuilding Iraq. Pampered bureaucrats do not have the stomach to fight hardened Baathist and jihadist killers.
“Casualties” (Posted November 8, 2003)
We’ve lost 34 soldiers in combat in 8 days of fighting in Iraq. This was a very bad week for Iraq. Stripping out the 22 dead in two helicopter downings, which are likely to be exceptional attacks, we lost 12 in combat. This is about double the previous average and still represents an increase. The daily average has gone up and down and we shall see if the enemy is burning itself out in their Ramadan offensive or if this is being sustained. I read that Iraqis are coming to us more as Iraqis are killed in these attacks. If true—and if good information is being passed on and we can use it—then we can start to snuff this out
Remember, we don’t need to make Iraq perfectly Vermont-like before we leave. We need to create an effective Iraqi government with security, governmental, and court organizations that can build a free Iraq and pursue insurgents. We will help, of course, but we only need to fight this until Iraqis can. Basque separatists still fight in Spain without making Spain less of a democracy. Nor do we dispatch troops there.
“Medium Divisions” (Posted November 8, 2003)
I wrote that two divisions of our heavy stuff should be made into medium divisions. According to a press briefing:
As Norty [Lt. Gen. Schwartz] talked about, the divisions going in for OIF 2 are, in name only, tank divisions and mechanized infantry divisions.  They're actually going in as motorized infantry divisions, as well as the enhanced separate brigades.
These divisions, 1st Cavalry (a tank division) and 1st Infantry (a mechanized infantry division), will go in as “medium” infantry divisions. Armored Humvees and more infantry. I assume at least some heavy armor will go with them just in case. A battalion of each, maybe? I’m guessing. Otherwise it also makes sense that the support units that are focused on high-intensity warfare will be stripped and instead more infantry or military police will be attached. I bet these units will have more boots on the streets than the heavy divisions in Iraq now. The three National Guard enhanced Separate brigades being sent will be similarly reconfigured. The Marines are already basically light infantry, of course. I assume they’ll have LAVs and armor attached, too.
“Cultural Imperialism” (Posted November 7, 2003)
On the way home tonight, somebody on the radio mentioned that President Bush’s pledge to promote democracy in the Middle East was just another form of Western cultural imperialism that the people of the region should presumably resist. I’ve heard this line several times quite recently. I’ve lived in Ann Arbor for 25 years so this type of thinking shouldn’t be a total shock to me, but still, I had to just shake my head in disbelief.
It isn’t new, I guess, as a quick search found this reference about the post-September 11 reaction of the Middle East experts:
Besides, what right did the West have to make judgments about the Arab world? Efforts to promote democracy represented "a world hegemonic discourse of Western cultural imperialism," as another prominent professor of Middle East studies complained
Efforts to promote democracy are imperialism.
They adopt our technology to fight us. But that isn’t the result of imperialism.
They adopt fascism to organize political parties. But that isn’t the result of imperialism.
They adopt socialism for their economies. But that isn’t the result of imperialism.
Some adopted communism. But that isn’t the result of imperialism.
They adopt Nazi anti-Semitism. But that isn’t the result of imperialism.
Funny how the mutliculturalistas think that all these foreign, Western imports are just fine and representative of the locals but democracy is not appropriate for them. Gotta govern the unruly wogs with a heavy hand, eh?
More and more, I shudder at what these charlatans “care” about.
Kudos to the President for standing for democracy for the Moslem Arab world.
“International Justice” (Posted November 7, 2003)
Example number 538 for why we cannot trust international “justice.”
The World Court decided that the United States was wrong to retaliate in 1987 and 1988 against Iran after an American-flagged ship and a warship were targeted by Iranian actions. We in turn destroyed three oil platforms used as military bases in the Gulf after each incident.
And how did the court get jurisdiction?
Despite U.S. opposition, the court ruled in 1996 that it had jurisdiction in the Iran-U.S. case under a friendship treaty signed between the United States and Iran in 1955.

Iran sued the United States for what it said was a "fundamental breach" of that treaty after the United States sided with Iraq and fired on the platforms
I would have thought the Embassy seizure and the holding of American hostages for a year and a half kind of negated the “friendship” stuff. That wasn't a "fundamental breach" of the treaty. Now I feel silly. Who knew we were friends all these years? But international justice is wiser than mere facts, I guess.
"Somebody Did Pick This Up" (Posted November 7, 2003)
I wondered who would run with the silly notion that the obscure efforts on the eve of war by some guy who says that Saddam wanted a deal represents some "gotcha" moment in the rush-to-war school.
The NYT in an editorial did not let me down, though I concede I expected Chirac to be first out of the blocks (to be fair, maybe translations take time):
With American forces massed and ready to invade, the Iraqis suddenly expressed interest in meeting their obligations. Yet the article also shows that the administration seems not to have been serious about the idea of a coerced but peaceful solution at the very moment it may have been a realistic possibility.
A "realistic possibility."
This is why the anti-war side's constant refrain that military force must be a last resort rings so false to me. When you believe that any path, no matter how unlikely to bear fruit, keeps you from that "last" resort, then military force is practically speaking never an option.
"Just What Do They Want?" (Posted November 7, 2003)
To sum up, the North Koreans say they want a treaty or some sort of guarantee by the United States that we won't attack them. Yet the Noth Koreans also boast that they have nuclear weapons to deter us from attacking them.
So why do they need the guarantee? I mean, if they can deter us, what use is a guarantee? I suppose some will say that if they get the guarantee they will stop their nuke programs, but since we obviously have no plan to invade them (and haven't over the last 50 years during those dark ages when North Korea had no nukes to deter us) and they still think we want to invade, will a guarantee by us really convince them they are safe?
Of course, the real puzzler is if we have totally misconstrued what North Korea thinks of the concept of "deterrence." If they don't think that our nukes deter their threats and if they don't think their nukes deter our threats, what exactly are we trying to discuss?
Any regime that puzzling should go on principle.
"Well Just Darn It All" (Posted November 6, 2003)
Saddam may have sent out peace feelers on the eve of war.
Well, gosh, if only Saddam had known he had to verifiably disarm at the end of Desert Storm in 1991. If only the international community had passed a single resolution letting Saddam know what we wanted. If only we had placed sanctions on his regime to express our seriousness. If only the world had paid attention to him so he didn't have to go through some convoluted back channel to somehow contact somebody in the White House or UN.
As the saying goes, for want of a nail, I guess.
Of course, since the French and Russians assured Saddam they could avoid war and Tariq Aziz said Saddam did not believe we were serious, was this really a genuine offer? Please. It was another effort to stall action against him to wait for resolve to deal with him to dissipate—as it has every time before. At best, Saddam sincerely wanted a quiet deal so he could emerge from the crisis as he had after his pounding in 1991—portraying his survival as yet another victory over the powerful America. Can't have plastic shredder dippees thinking Saddam is going soft, now could he?
If this story has legs, it will be because some view Saddam as more trustworthy than our administration. Wonder who buys it? Is that Chirac I hear?
"The Right Question" (Posted November 6, 2003)
You know, in all the smoke generated by the question of whether the media is portraying Iraq with the correct blend of "if it bleeds it leads" negativism and dull civic progress, I realize I've forgotten something that I once knew when we debated whether we needed international approval before invading.
Remember when so many said (and still do) that we needed the approval of France and Cameroon to invade Iraq? Lost in the discussion by the anti-war side was any concept of whether overthrowing Saddam was right or wrong. Somehow, only the vote of the Security Council mattered. It was all process oriented and no real thought was given to the rightness of the cause either morally or in regard to our security.
The war was always right regardless of the Security Council's actions based on the threat of Saddam to his neighbors and us via conventional arms and terrorism; his brutality; and the threat he posed should he get nuclear weapons.
Today's fixation on the news out of Iraq and the metrics of success is more of a process question and misses the obvious point: whether the metrics are good or bad; whether the media is accurately portraying our efforts or not, our cause is good. The reasons we fought to overthrow Saddam were just and the reasons we fight to destroy the Baathists and jihadists are just. Even if the news out of Iraq was all bad, we should be fighting there. The real question would then be how do we change to win. Any other questions miss the point and refute the basic justness of our fight.
Or do we reinstitute oil for food so the Baathists can order more plastic shredders?
"The Right Army for Iraq" (Posted November 6, 2003)
I suppose people are at least vaguely aware of the quote from some Army officer in Vietnam who supposedly said, “I’m not going to destroy the traditions and doctrine of the United States Army just to win this lousy war.” This is proof of the idiocy of the war on par with "I had to destroy the village in order to save it," right?
Not quite. In the Cold War era Vietnam War, destroying the ability of the Army to fight and win a conventional clash in Germany in order to win in Vietnam would have been a terrible mistake. This, of course, requires an assumption that a newly oriented Army was necessary to win, but I won't digress. Just note that when the Iraqis optimized their army and tactics to fight the Iranians in the 1980s, they created an army ill-suited to fighting our fast mechanized juggernaut well supported by air power. In the end, they needed to build the Republican Guards to be the real army able to fight a mobile action. The rest was dog meat at our hands.
I have been stalwart in my belief that the Army's main function is to fight and win our nation's wars. I strongly opposed peace operations that lessened the ability of the Army to fight.
We are fighting a low intensity war in Iraq that we must win, and unlike the Cold War-era, we face no short term threat that requires the bulk of our Army to be a force-on-force outfit. I love the power of our armor and wouldn't have wanted to take on Iraq without it, but that war is won. North Korea may still qualify but I increasingly grow suspicious that the North Korean army is brittle. Still, unlike Iraq in the 1980s, we don't need to totally revamp our military to win this war. Iraqi insurgents are relatively few and lack wide support. If we need to at least temporarily convert a couple heavy divisions to medium-weight motorized infantry divisions in order to win this war, I say do it. We are already planning to do this in the National Guard. In addition, the Army and Navy are gearing up for more military police-type forces, converting existing forces and building new ones. These units will be useful in policing Iraq until Iraqis can do the job. We are also expanding special forces units.
Nor is reorienting portions of the Army to fight in Iraq the same as reorienting for peacekeeping, or peace enforcement, or nation-building, or whatever euphemism for being expensive police you want to use. Low-intensity warfare is war.
Losing a war can harm the Army just as much as focusing it on the wrong enemy.
And even though some of these fixes cannot be completed until after the Baathist War is won, I wouldn't assume this is the last time we'll need to do this.
"Somebody Is Properly Fed Up" (Posted November 6, 2003)
Mac Owens starts out extremely well:
I am officially sick of the constant claims of reporters and politicians that Iraq is becoming a rerun of the Vietnam "quagmire." These people don't know what they are talking about. They remind me of the old adage that it is better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak and remove all doubt. The fact is that there is little similarity between Iraq and Vietnam. Indeed, there is little comparison between the real Vietnam War and the facile description of it that we get from critics of the Iraq operation.
And then he gets better.
He has a good point that the combat service support troops we have in Iraq pressed into patrolling and guard duty should be replaced by infantry or military police. Owens almost suggests but doesn't say we need more troops in Iraq; and I would still like to assert that I do not think we need more soldiers. In time, the static and routine patrols can be allied-Iraqis and foreign allied troops while the offensive missions are done by US and allied troops trained for counter-insurgency (and assisted by Iraqi auxiliaries where possible).
“Counter-Insurgency” (Posted November 5, 2003)
A good article on 1st Armored Division’s efforts. It is good both as a description of how troops cultivate local information sources and as an example of how troops untrained for their work do their work. That is, tankers leave their Abrams tanks in the motor pool and head out on patrol. You may recall the stories a little while back where troops complained they were not trained for the jobs they are doing in Iraq. The story seemed to imply ill-trained troops out of their league. This is not exactly the case. Not ideal, of course, but well-trained and disciplined American troops can do it. Of course, they’re no longer crack tankers now…
North Korea Brittle?” (Posted November 5, 2003)
I’m telling you, I really get the feeling that North Korea is a Potemkin Village and ripe for collapse. From
November 5, 2003: Economists are finding out more about the extent of damage the half century of communist rule have done to the North Korean economy. The conclusion is that the collapse is very close without continued massive food and fuel aid to the north. The factories and infrastructure are rotting, as maintenance has dried up over the last few years. The electricity system is falling apart and most parts of the country do not have 24/7 electricity. The north has tried to implement some reforms, but these have only legalized the black market and made things worse.
Defectors believe it is possible that there may be a spontaneous uprising, quite possibly from the lower ranks of the army. The last few years worth of conscripts grew up hungry, and are not happy with the way things are. Moreover, more news of the outside world is reaching to north, adding to the unrest. Since 1995, some eight million tons of food has been donated to North Korea, but a quarter of the population is still hungry and over a million people have died.
Economists, and credit rating agencies, are also worried about the impact of collapse in the north on the south. South Korea would have to pay most of the bill for rehabilitating the north, and saving its population from starvation. The cost is now estimated at some three times South Koreas current GDP, which would come to a total of over two trillion dollars.
If our ability to take out North Korea’s artillery is really good enough to end that threat, one threat is fizzled out. If their military is as shaky as it seems, that threat may be going, too. And after the march on Baghdad, the North Koreans may know it as well. Indeed, the North Koreans may be losing all reason to give up nukes if that route is their only hope of threatening us. Which calls into question our hopes that just maybe we can persuade Pyongyang to give up nukes.
Squeeze the North Koreans—gently—but don’t save them.
Libya” (Posted November 5, 2003)
I’ve written before that perhaps Libya should be allowed—if it shows itself worthy—to rejoin the world as a sign to the wider Islamic world that they can safely defect to our side. My point is that we must drain the swamp of support for terrorism and that defection must be one route. We can’t regime change everyone.
This article makes it clear why it may not be possible for Khaddafi and why I hold my nose even as I continue to hold the general argument as true.
Fallujah’s Fate” (Posted November 5, 2003)
Ralph Peters has a good article (via NRO) on Sunni resistance. I earlier noted that Fallujah was probably lost to us in the short run. Peters calls for the stick since the carrot won’t work:
First, we need to stop pandering to the Sunni-Arab minority that spawns terror and revels in atrocity. Aspects of our occupation policy have been naively one-sided - all carrot, no stick.

We need to have the guts to give at least one terrorist haven a stern lesson as an example to the others. Fallujah is the obvious choice.

If the populace continues to harbor our enemies and the enemies of a healthy Iraqi state, we need to impose strict martial law. Instead of lavishing more development funds on the city - bribes that aren't working - we need to cut back on electricity, ration water, restrict access to the city and organize food distribution through a ration card system. And we need to occupy the city so thickly that the inhabitants can't step out of their front doors without bumping into an American soldier.

Don't worry about alienating the already alienated. Make an example of them. Then see how the other cities respond. Such an experiment would be expensive. But strategic victories don't come cheap.

Iraq's Sunni Arabs need to master a simple equation: If you support those who kill Americans, there are penalties. If you cooperate to build a better Iraq, there are rewards. We need contrasts in Iraq between how we treat the deserving and the murderous.
Hear, hear. The residents of Fallujah like Saddam? Fine. Bring out any we think our friends. Then seal off the city. Surround it with Turks. (I know Peters doesn’t like Turks but neither do the Sunnis) Build a road around it. Implement oil for food and let them live in blissful Saddamite Hell. Keep recon and Predators and gunships over the city and kill any armed Iraqi we see. Make them an example even as we continue the carrots elsewhere. The Fallujah Baathists want to win. Show them we will win.
Seriously, do we think we can win their black hearts and twisted minds?
In the end, if the Sunnis don’t give up support for Saddam, we can always partition Iraq and leave the Sunni Baathists in a poor desert wasteland in the center, reliant on neighbor for access to the wider world.
Peters also notes what I’ve said earlier, that destroying Saddam was a success even without making Iraq a democracy:
We're overdue to take a lesson from the Romans and the British before us and recognize the value of punitive expeditions. Should the Iraqis fail themselves in the end, our current endeavor may prove to have been simply a very expensive - but still worthwhile - punitive expedition. Such an outcome wouldn't mean that we failed, but that the Iraqis had failed themselves.

One key lesson we should draw about expeditionary warfare in the Age of Terror is that we need not feel obliged to rebuild every government we are forced to destroy. Sometimes the wise approach will be to employ our military power to topple a regime, then to withdraw promptly and let the local population sort themselves out. We should always seek to be as humane as possible - but the key word is "possible."
It isn’t pretty, but there it is. Not every failed state is a threat to us.
“The Fruits of Our Telegraphed War” (Posted November 5, 2003)
Before the Iraq War, I worried that we were giving our enemies time to thwart us.
In the end, our long march to war did not provide Saddam with the time to halt or defeat our invasion. No chemical weapons deployed. No mines. No blown bridges or dams. No burning oil fields. No effective deployment of his military. Nothing that stopped us from winning a war that still will be the defining image of “cake walk” that we will likely ever see. Nor did the time give external actors a chance to derail our invasion. France and Russia were powerless to stop us. China didn’t invade Taiwan nor did North Korea invade South Korea to take advantage of our focus on Iraq. No hurricane wiped out New Orleans (although the Columbia shuttle disaster did lead some to say don’t invade). The Democrats didn’t retake Congress and thus give the anti-war side a chance to say that was a referendum on war. War was delayed beyond the time we needed to deploy an invasion force but not stopped.
But all that time gave Saddam a chance to import jihadists who fought us fiercely (if ineffectively) on the road to Baghdad. One wonders how the post-war stabilization could have gone if we had invaded before Saddam could bring in the fanatics. One wonders what the Kay report would have found if presented a year earlier.
“Fears Part II” (Posted November 5, 2003)
After I wrote the post below a bit, a saw Andrew Sullivan regarding the despicable Democratic Underground web site:
I Hope the Bloodshed Continues in Iraq

Well, that should bring the bats out of the attic with fangs dripping. I won't be hypocritcal. It is politically correct, particularly in any Dem discussion to hope and pray and feel for our troops and scream "bring them back now". I'm fighting something bigger.

I'm a 58 year old broad and I can tell you that what is going on in our country isn't the usual ebb and flow of politics where one party is in power and then another; where the economy goes through ups and downs.......yawn, yawn--just wait a bit and things will turn out peachy keen. That stupid la-la land is over.

I realize that not every GI Joe was 100peeercent behind Prseeedent Booosh going into this war; but I do know that that is what an overwhelming number of them and their famlies screamed in the face of protesters who were trying to protect these kids. Well, there is more than one way to be "dead" for your country. They are not only not accompishing squat in Iraq, they are doing crap nothing for the safety, defense of the US of A over there directly. But "indirectly" they are doing a lot.

The only way to get rid of this slime bag WASP-Mafia, oil barron ridden cartel of a government, this assault on Americans and anything one could laughingly call "a democracy", relies heavily on what a shit hole Iraq turns into. They need to die so that we can be free. Soldiers usually did that directly--i.e., fight those invading and harming a country. This time they need to die in defense of a lie from a lying adminstration to show these ignorant, dumb Americans that Bush is incompetent. They need to die so that Americans get rid of this deadly scum. It is obscene, Barbie Bush, how other sons (of much nobler blood) have to die to save us from your Rosemary's Baby spawn and his ungodly cohorts.
Posters who want American soldiers to die in order to beat Bush.
Do all the readers feel this way? Certainly not.
Do the posters feel comfortable posting this way? They apparently do.
The readers of DU sure don’t seem offended by such posts and threads. They may not agree strictly speaking with the views, but the views are clearly well within their comfort zone.
And it sadly recalls the outrage of some that al Qaeda on 9-11 targeted New Yorkers, people who didn’t vote for Bush, instead of Bush backers.
“The Central Front” (Posted November 5, 2003)
I while back I wrote that I was uncomfortable with the idea that Iraq is the “central front” in the war on terror. It is certainly related but it is important in its own right even if Islamofascist terrorism did not exist.
Apparently, the public does not feel Iraq is the central front.
I don’t think that this means the public doesn’t want us to win in Iraq. I certainly am no less committed to victory than I would be if I thought Iraq was the central front in the war on terror.
Crushing Saddam’s regime helped in the war on terror by eliminating one state sponsor of terror who could have passed (and may have) chemical and biological weapons or knowledge to terrorists. In the long run, establishing a democratic, friendly Iraq will help us undermine the misguided and deadly conspiracy theories that propel young men to become terrorists. In the medium term, we will be fighting al Qaeda regardless of how we do in Iraq.
Maybe I’m engaged in semantic extremism by rejecting the “central front” label but it sure doesn’t undermine my support for winning in Iraq. Hopefully, the public will continue to feel that way, too.
Still, rejecting the central front notion may get us to look beyond securing Iraq’s borders to taking on the rest of the terror sponsors. Maintaining the initiative does not mean gearing up for another conventional war. I know I said I think we plan for confrontation with Iran in 2005, but I sometimes doubt whether that delay is wise even as I recognize the many valid reasons for a pause. I hope we are laying the groundwork now, with the option of taking action sooner if opportunities present themselves. We shouldn’t build a Maginot Line and think that sitting on our butts can win a war:
If we persist in narrowing our vision and our actions to Iraq, the attacks will get more lethal, killing larger numbers of Americans. And they will not be limited to Iraq. Significant numbers of terrorists have been rounded up of late, from the Middle East to Europe and inside this country. They are coming after us, just as we should have expected, and there is a limit to how long we can forestall catastrophes by playing defense.
Keep rolling.
“The Mythical Iraqi Army” (Posted November 5, 2003)
A good article on the silly notion that our disbanding of the Iraqi army after Baghdad fell was a major error. Keeping the Iraqi army intact was neither wise nor possible:
All this does not mean we should spurn the many individual Iraqi veterans willing to serve the new Iraq. On the contrary, they have been welcomed and even actively recruited. About 60 percent of the privates in the New Iraqi Army, and virtually all the officers and NCOs, have military experience. Other new security forces, such as the Iraqi Civil Defense Corps and the Facilities Protection Service, have taken in many thousands of former soldiers. Only those who served in Hussein's inner circles of security and control forces, or who reached the top four ranks of the Baath Party (about 8,000 out of nearly a quarter-million officers and NCOs in the old army) are ineligible to join the New Iraqi Army and other security forces. Although we have not so far recruited officers whose former rank was above lieutenant colonel, that is because we have not yet needed more senior ranks. As the army (and other security forces) grow, higher-ranking officers with clean records will be considered, along with potential promotions from the new organizations.
Repeat after me, the Iraqi army dissolved and no amount of fake complaining about an administration “error” erases this. The question of whether it would have been wise to do so is moot. Prior to the war, I thought it would have been possible to take the services of separate Iraqi light infantry battalions if they defected and if they were led by our special forces people. Anything larger would have called into question the loyalty of the officers. The higher you go, the more likely the officers would be Saddamite stooges.
Please, bring on the next “mistake.” This one is tiring me out.
“This Is What I Have Feared” (Posted November 5, 2003)
The anti-war side has continuously engaged in their right to dissent; even as they argue that there is no debate and that they are being suppressed from speaking their views.
Dissent is certainly not treason.
But this memo (thanks to Instapundit) is what I’m talking about when I write that anti-war critiques of the war effort and the post-war stabilization mission in Iraq smack of dishonesty. Barely concealed glee at any setback and scary determination to ignore the good appear in virtually every statement they make. I simply don’t trust them with our national security.
The anti-war side fundamentally does not think we are at war. Since they do not think we are at war, they can earnestly believe that talk of “war” is just a means for the White House to win reelection. The anti-war side views foreign affairs as just talking points in their quest to regain the White House. Are we doing well? That’s bad. Are we doing poorly or can it be portrayed as poor? Good to go. The concept of victory is meaningless to them outside of Pennsylvania Avenue. And on that street, shock and awe is the rule of the day.
Maybe I’m asking the wrong question. Just what question does the anti-war side want to debate, anyway?
One question comes to mind: how is it progressive to wish for failure on the majority of Iraqis who want a free, democratic, non-Baathists, and non-Islamist country?
"Outrageous" (Posted November 4, 2003)
In a US News & World Report article about Chinese espionage in the US (focused on one temptress triple? agent), is this photo caption: "Chinese police stand guard outside the U.S. Embassy in Beijing. China refuses to allow U.S. marines to protect the outside of the compound, as they do at other U.S. embassies."
Excuse me?
The Chinese don't have the decency to let us use Marines as external guards in exchange for the intelligence windfall of having a U.S. embassy there?
Screw 'em, I say. Let the Swiss host our interest section until the Chinese let our Marines guard our embassy grounds. Or insist that our Marines guard their embassy in DC until they comply.
We are their main enemy. We should not forget that.
“Cannon Fodder” (Posted November 4, 2003)
Secretary Rumsfeld confirmed that in Iraq we are killing or capturing lots more than we are losing. I’m glad we aren’t score-boarding this since it is not the metric of success or failure. Still, it is good to know as a general fact:
Snow: Within Iraq, what is the situation in terms of terrorists? Are we taking out or imprisoning more of them than they are killing of our people?

Rumsfeld: Oh, my goodness, yes. We are capturing or killed vastly more than are being killed of ours.

Snow: It's an interesting thing, because I get e-mails all the time, and people say we hear about our death counts; we never hear about theirs. Why?

Rumsfeld: Well, we don't do body counts on other people, and we have certain rules on people we capture in terms of exposing them to the public -- Geneva Conventions, and the like. On any given day, the dozens of terrorists or criminals or Baathists, remnants of the Saddam Hussein regime, are being captured or killed all across that country.
Yet since attacks against us are up in the last month, killing and capturing the guys doing the attacks is not the key to stamping out the resistance. Reports are that the Baathists pay people to attack us. So we need to get the paymasters and their cash; and we need to get the country moving forward enough that the ones taking the money think their chances are better in the legitimate civilian economy. Congressional action to pass the supplemental spending bill (while some who vote for it cover their political backside by bitterly attacking the administration thus undermining the entire goal of the money) will help.
Truly, in the face of so many who say we must increase US forces in Iraq, it is frustrating to have to remind the anti-war left that resistance such as we are facing is not primarily a military problem. They once knew this. Indeed, they accuse the President of being too reliant on military force even as they call for more troops in Iraq and amazingly enough say that diversion of military resource to Iraq detracts from the decidedly non-military problem of defeating al Qaeda! Our military can only buy time to implement political and economic measures that undermine the base of Sunni support for the resistance. We seek to make this a police problem for Iraqi security forces and an Iraqi court system.
But the impression that our troops are just sitting ducks, taking it on the chin on a daily basis without getting any of the enemy is false. Somehow the administration needs to convey this without doing daily enemy body counts.
[Been sick lately. Amazing how much one can blog when one is sitting at home recuperating…]
“I Believe I Predicted This One” (Posted November 4, 2003)
I recent email to me:

I am Major Frank S. Williams, a senior security officer under Charles Taylor, former Liberian President.
Having got great affection and absolute appreciation for your human and personality, I wish to contact you for absolute help to safeguard and bank this sum of $157m (One Hundred and Fifty Seven Million Dollars) into your account for me, preferably we can split the sum into three bank accounts if your account will not accommodate all the sum. Presently this money is in the Barclays bank Vault. I am a senior security officer in charge of arms and ammunition of Charles Taylor troops. I and two officers were assigned to purchase arms and ammunition in France, on getting to Ghana, we heard a news that U.S.A. government had giving an ultimatum for our president Charles Taylor to leave the country to Nigeria for a political asylum with immediate effect. Perhaps, we saw this as a golden opportunities to divert the funds $500m for our personal usage, then the funds were shared among us $157m each.

The arrangement of sharing this money with my groups is as a result of helping ourselves and family since our president has been sent out by U.S government on political asylum in Nigeria. The future of my family depends on this fund and as such I will be very grateful if you can assist me to bank this fund.

Note: I don't want the leadership of President Charles Taylor to have idea of where I am and the fund. When this fund is cleared and banked in your nominated account, my confident will meet with you to establish an investment with your assistance on my family behalf, until I am out of my travail.

For your reward and expected services, 25% will be for you, while 75% will
be for my family investment.

For now, communicate with me through my email addresses;

[Email address deleted]

May happy days & a fair future awaits you as you deserve.


Major Frank S. Williams
Do people really fall for this stuff? Though after that whole 61% evil website crisis, an affirmation of my “human and personality” is certainly uplifting. Thanks Major.
“Good” (Posted November 4, 2003)
Putin won’t send troops to “help” us in Iraq.
The Russians did so well to win the hearts and minds of Moslems in Afghanistan and Chechnya, it’s hard to believe that Putin is responding to a real request from us.
“Victory Is Ours To Lose” (Posted November 4, 2003)
This AP article by Pauline Jelinek is outstanding. I can’t recommend it enough. Some excerpts:
Military commanders have said for months, and still maintain after Sunday's worst one-day combat toll since March, that the attacks now skyrocketing to some three dozen daily are militarily insignificant, noted Pentagon spokesman Lt. Col. Jim Cassella.

That means they have not stopped the U.S.-led occupation force from continuing its work toward stabilizing the country, rebuilding the economy, creating a new government.
As I’ve note with the 10:1 counter-insurgency ratio needed to win:
It's hard to find anyone inside or outside the Defense Department who thinks several thousand poorly organized Saddam loyalists and several hundred foreign fighters can militarily defeat the almost 250,000-member coalition and Iraqi forces now under arms in Iraq.
The key part:
If recent attacks and other failings cause Iraqis and Americans to lose faith in the campaign, "The bad guys will win," said James Lindsay of the Council on Foreign Relations.
This article hits on a number of points that I think are critical to remembering.
I do take exception to the idea that the administration is painting a rosy picture of Iraq that casualty reports make seem a lie. I’ve never been misled. Successes coexist with setbacks. Clearly, the broad picture is advancing even as resistance by Baathists and jihadists cause localized setbacks. Unfortunately, these localized setbacks can affect the broad picture by demoralizing Iraqis or Americans as to the ultimate chance of success.
One of the problems is that the anti-war side has the belief in the power of being committed to a cause. Remember in the spring prior to the war how the press portrayed confused protesters who couldn’t believe that the administration would ignore 100,000 committed anti-war protesters and their 10,000 hand puppets and bongos? Even when the protesters had to know that public opinion polls showed support for invading Iraq? So now, when committed Sunnis and their jihadist allies launch attacks in Iraq, the anti-war side listens to them and not the majority of Iraqis who want peace, who want the Baathists and jihadists defeated, and who of course want us to leave when those jobs are done. Those who want us out of Iraq would leave the majority to their fate at the hands of committed thugs who are more than willing to kill and torture their enemies.
It is shameful but true that only we can beat ourselves.
Jihadists” (Posted November 4, 2003)
This article says that Syrians are no longer heading to Iraq in large numbers. Most interesting, it highlights what I suspected would happen when Saddam’s regime fell. That is, Iraqis turned on the foreign fighters:
Yarmouk, on the outskirts of Damascus, was the source of an estimated 300 Arab volunteers who went to Iraq to fight during the war, in the spring.

Now, residents say it's been months since they've heard of volunteers going to fight, bodies returning home or memorials held for slain men.

"Nobody has gone to Iraq since the occupation and no one is thinking of going," Salim Rashid, a 55-year-old Palestinian, said as he read a newspaper in his stationery store in Yarmouk. He recalled the disillusionment of Arab volunteers during the dying days of Saddam Hussein's regime, after many Iraqis turned against the volunteers, accusing them of supporting the dictator.

Faisal Younes said no more fighters had gone to Iraq since the fall of Baghdad in April. The volunteers were betrayed by Iraqis, the 36-year-old Palestinian said. Fighting for Iraq and Saddam was "a big lie."
Here, certainly, is an indication that the crushing American victory discouraged jihadist recruitment.
As I’ve noted, volunteers will head out in sizable numbers when they have hope for victory. Sure, some will always be willing to die for a losing cause, but for the vast majority, the hope of winning counts for a lot. If jihadists are coming to Iraq, it is not because we invaded and overthrew a secular and brutal dictatorship, for why should religion inspire love of Saddam? It is because the jihadists think we will lose. And they want to win. They want to kill us and defeat us and put Britney Spears in a burqua (or stone her death). The jihadists know our military and technology are vastly superior so they can only think their will to win is greater.
Those in this country who opposed the invasion must be careful how they oppose the President. Yes, dissent is not treason. But dissent that simply seeks to score points on a single-minded drive to regain the White House rather than to foster a debate on how to win does leave the impression with foreigners that they can break our will.
“You Think?” (Posted November 4, 2003)
North Korean leader Kim Jong-il's biggest ambition is to rule over a unified, Communist Korea, the North's highest-ranking defector said in an interview published on Tuesday.
I can’t say I spilled my coffee in shock when I read this.
This is Disturbing” (Posted November 3, 2003)
Simple commonsense and an elementary concern for American lives would dictate that we actively support the Iranian people in their desperate struggle for freedom, but instead, the next round of schmoozing with the mullahs has already been set, in Geneva, within the next couple of weeks. This sort of activity chills the blood of the Iranian democrats, and plays right into the hands of the turbaned tyrants of Tehran.
Rein in State. They apparently don’t understand “Axis of Evil” at all. Could I be wrong that Iran is the target for 2005?
“I’ve Been Waiting For This” (Posted November 3, 2003)
From the WaPo:
The CIA has seized an extensive cache of files from the former Iraqi Intelligence Service that is spurring U.S. investigations of weapons procurement networks and agents of influence who took money from the government of Saddam Hussein, according to U.S. officials familiar with the records.
In addition to the information we will get on WMD and missile programs, I look forward to the results of this line of inquiry:
The recipients of the Iraqi funds were described by U.S. officials not as formal intelligence agents, but as prominent personalities and political figures who accepted money from Iraq as they defended Hussein publicly or pressed his causes.
It will be interesting to see who defended Saddam’s vile regime based on money and who defended Saddam out of so-called idealism. The latter are worse in my opinion.
“The French and Saddam” (Posted November 3, 2003)
I may not have been writing about the French lately doesn’t mean I’ve gone all warm and fuzzy on them.
In the run-up to the war, I speculated that the French were actually doing us a favor—unintentionally, of course—by convincing Saddam that they could help him avoid or ride out a US attack, thus preventing Saddam from making some meaningless concession that would be touted as a victory and thus keep Saddam in power. I was still worried that the French and Russians could stall the invasion long enough by getting just a few more months of inspections and that eventually we’d lose our nerve or some external event would make it impossible to invade. Tariq Aziz reports:
Aziz has told interrogators that French and Russian intermediaries repeatedly assured Hussein during late 2002 and early this year that they would block a U.S.-led war through delays and vetoes at the U.N. Security Council. Later, according to Aziz, Hussein concluded after private talks with French and Russian contacts that the United States would probably wage a long air war first, as it had done in previous conflicts. By hunkering down and putting up a stiff defense, he might buy enough time to win a cease-fire brokered by Paris and Moscow.
The article also suggests that preserving the base to reconstitute his chemical arms as I’ve suggested was on the money. Why risk discovery when he could quickly ramp up production once sanctions were lifted?
The substantial evidence of Iraq's secret long-range missile programs, combined with more fragmentary testimony in which Hussein reportedly asked scientists how long it might take to reconstitute chemical arms, has led some investigators to conclude that Hussein saw missiles as his most difficult challenge. In this hypothesis, Hussein wanted to build or buy long-range missiles before he took on the risks of secretly restarting banned programs to make weapons of mass destruction.

"The pattern I think we're seeing is, they were working on the long pole in the tent," the missile program, said the senior U.S. official involved in the weapons search. When Hussein asked scientists how long it would take to restart sarin and mustard gas production, he learned the timelines "were all so sufficiently short" that he could afford to hold off until the missile program was further along, the official said.
The article also explains the incompetence that recently led me to write that I hope Saddam is directing Iraqi resistance and which also addresses my immense confusion over the failure of the Iraqis to embark on Military 101 steps to defend Baghdad:
In discussing Hussein's failure to use chemical weapons in the defense of Baghdad, officials said, the generals often rant sarcastically that Hussein's government did not even prepare land mines and other basic military defenses to block or slow the U.S. advance. Why, they ask, should chemical weapons be any different?
I was convinced we were going to see American heavy armor in Baghdad when President Bush spoke to the UN in the fall of 2002. Saddam knew better. (And will those who are saying that Saddam “planned” his crushing defeat in order to fight us now please stop this asinine line of thought? Some people think any victory of ours can be explained as a diabolically clever plan by our enemy to outsmart us. What does it say about them?)
This should refute the idea of some opposed to the war that we could have maintained our troops around Iraq indefinitely as a threat to compel serious inspections. Saddam simply did not think we were serious, undoubtedly based on a decade of surviving our half-hearted efforts to thwart Saddam. Should it come to military action, Saddam thought he was looking at a Desert Fox (Iraq 1998) or, at worst, Allied Force (Kosovo 1999) scenario where he just needed to look innocent and trust his friends and our ineffectiveness to ride out yet another crisis. Dead Iraqis were not a problem but a propaganda bonus in any anticipated American air offensive. Saddam killed Iraqis at a rate that we could never match. The Russians annoyed us but the real resistance was from France.
This state of mind brings us back to the main point, that Saddam thought his friends in Paris and Moscow would save him from us. Chirac and that vile hand puppet of his, de Villepin, must go. I don’t know if France is becoming our enemy, but the current government in France is hostile toward us and has not let nominal ally status affect their drive to thwart us. The Russians I don’t trust fully yet anyway, especially the KGB-run regime now in power even if the President thinks he has rapport with Putin. But Russia is on a trend from main enemy to friend despite the lack of trust that I currently have in them. France is clearly on a trend line from ally to enemy.
Regime change in Paris must be our objective with the French. For God’s sake, don’t support their EU ambitions.
And remember what Saddam wanted at the end of the day. I repeatedly said prior to the war that regime change was the only way to keep Saddam from getting nukes and the rest of the WMD wish list he had. How much clearer can this get?
“Gut Check” (Posted November 2, 2003)
Somebody shot down one of our Chinook helicopters, killing 15. I’ve been dreading such a day. One day, I knew, the enemy would score big. There are lots of our troops there and we have to be successful 24/7 to stop an attack such as this. Given that a couple years ago, the Israelis lost a chopper carrying a lot of troops into Lebanon, I’m surprised that we flew in such an environment. The Israelis flew because they got tired of losing one or two in attacks on ground convoys. The problem is, the enemy reacts. And since attackers have fired on our aircraft and missed in the past, this should have been predictable. The Sunni triangle is dangerous.
I’d hoped that by the time such an incident happened, we’d be far enough advanced that it would be a blip. The American people would take it in stride.
I don’t know if we are advanced far enough. Attacks are up the last month so that is bad. But reconstruction and turning over security to Iraqis is going well.
Our reaction is crucial. We can’t pull back and hunker down in fortified enclaves. If we do that, we leave the countryside to the enemy. We can’t pull out of Iraq shy of victory. We already gained a great short-term victory by ending Saddam’s horrible nuke-seeking regime. But the wider war against nuclear threats and terrorism will last years. This Iraqi battlefield is crucial. A lot of work will be undone if we accept our short-term victory as enough.
We should not, however, flood the area with our troops or even allied troops. We’d just have more support troops that could be targets. We don’t need more foreign troops. The idea that non-US foreign troops will make the Baathists and jihadists attack us less is absurd. Red Cross? UN headquarters? Basically, when you add up Americans, allies, and allied-Iraqi security forces, we have plenty of troops to guard the country and go on the offensive against the dead-enders and jihadists.
Militarily we must ensure that our intel must get better. Part of that will come from having more Iraqis on patrol. We must guard those ammo dumps that provide weapons and explosives, seal the borders to stop jihadists from coming in, and deprive the Baathists of the money they use to buy attacks against us. And keep going after the enemy resistance. The more worried they are about what we will do to them, the less time they will have to attack us.
Mourn our losses. Look to the objective. And don’t flail about reacting to each attack. Certainly, learn from this tragedy, but stay focused on what we are doing to the enemy. The President has been mocked for observing that the recent spate of suicide bombings show that the enemy is desperate. This is true. This doesn’t mean that an increase in attacks on US forces means the enemy is desperate. This increase must be stopped. We must grind them down. But the attacks on softer targets is an indication that the attackers see them as a threat that must be destroyed and driven out.
I suspect that our public will not panic at a single attack. They didn’t after Tet and they didn’t after Mogadishu. I don’t remember what the public reaction to the Beirut barracks bombing was. But a single attack like this is most dangerous in how it will affect our leadership. Our enemies think they know our will is our weak point that undermines all our military power and technology. How will the pro-war side react? How will the anti-war side react? If their will breaks and too many leaders talk of “exit strategies” rather than “victory” I will worry. Our people and our troops will accept losses if the goal is good and they think we are trying to win the fight. Loss of support comes from thinking the losses are just for nothing and they think our leaders are just looking for a way to pull out without suffering political consequences.
A tragedy such as this helicopter downing was inevitable. Our reaction is as yet unknown. We know what our enemies want. We know the price we will pay if we give them what they want.
Drive on.
Pay attention to the right metrics of success. Rebuilding Iraq’s economy, government, and security apparatus to the point that we can step back into the background are the key measures of success.
“So That’s When They Started” (Posted November 1, 2003)
US News has an article (not online) that strongly implies that Iran only recently started its nuclear bomb program and that the darned simplistic Bush administration pushed them that way with the Axis of Evil address.
Are the staff of US News really saying that a nuclear program was started in the last year and a half? Are we really supposed to think that under the charming multilateralism of the Euro-friendly, lip-biting, apologypalooza Clinton administration that Iran’s mullahs were nice and safe and therefore felt no need to press forward in the nuclear field or long-range missile field?
Are the US News people freaking serious?
“Army Focus” (Posted November 1, 2003)
The article says we are focusing the Army too much on warfighting and not enough on stability operations:
IN one corner, the United States Army, the most advanced fighting machine in history. In the other, a group of guerrillas and terrorists, feared and disliked by a majority of the local population.

Last week, the guerrillas seemed to be the force on the offensive.

Attacks on United States troops are not only rising, they are becoming more sophisticated. In recent days, guerrillas have destroyed a Black Hawk helicopter and an Abrams tank, two of the most advanced weapons in the United States arsenal. Last week, four car bombs exploded in Baghdad, and rockets hit a hotel where the deputy defense secretary, Paul D. Wolfowitz, was staying.

The American military is trained to obliterate its enemy with overwhelming firepower. But it is not a police force, trained to track down dangerous groups or individuals in heavily populated areas. And so, in the eyes of many Iraqis here, the American soldiers often seem impotent, unable to provide security for them or their families.

For at least a decade, the Army has worked to make itself more lethal, even though — or, perhaps, because — it has repeatedly been used in peacekeeping operations, defense analysts say. Even within the military, that strategy has caused some controversy.

Col. Stephen Kidder, director of war-fighting studies at the United States Army War College in Carlisle, Pa., said in a telephone interview that the military's attitude has been, "If we can win the big one, we can win the small one."

Colonel Kidder said he did not disagree with that strategy. But Col. John R. Martin, deputy director of strategic studies at the War College, said he believed that the Army did not spend enough time training or equipping soldiers for peacekeeping.
We don’t spend enough time on peacekeeping? Good.
Even this article has some silly stuff. The enemy shot down a helicopter and knocked out a tank? Wow. Who told that reporter that our helicopters and tanks are invulnerable? Yes, they can be knocked out.
And what of our peacekeeping? We’ve done pretty well in the Balkans and I don’t believe we messed up Haiti or Panama. Somalia is the poster boy for failed peacekeeping but that failure wasn’t from any military failure. Mogadishu was that operation’s Tet Offensive—a military disaster for our enemies but a political disaster for us. It seems to me that we’ve done pretty well. It is way too soon to say that Iraq represents a case study in failed peacekeeping.
But step back and look at the war so far. We lost what, 114 KIA in the major combat operations phase to overthrow Saddam’s regime and in the six months since then, we’ve lost a few more than that. What are the critics saying? They say that we need to focus on the post-war and slight the war phase. This advice is basically saying that American victory is a given.
That is hubris. That is a symptom of the “victory disease.” At best, this is a plan for losing more troops. What if we make our Army better at post-war at the expense of war? Assuming we still win, what if that plan makes us lose twice as many troops in the war phase while letting us lose half as many in post-war? We’re losing more troops at that rate. These are admittedly arbitrary number but that is the general tradeoff.
Our Army is small enough without designing it to be less effective. Would a less effective Army had stood and fought—and won—at Objectives Larry, Curly, and Moe in the drive into Baghdad? Do we want to put a less effective Army up against the North Koreans? The Chinese? The Iranians?
The Army is working to put more Military Police units into the field. I think this is the best solution. The next least bad move is to train combat units for peace operations and then retrain them for combat after that is over. We will simply never have enough troops to dedicate some as combat and some as stabilization forces. The best option is to turn over peacekeeping to allies. Our allies have let us down and so instead we are turning guard duties over to Iraqis, with the help of some allies.
But train our units to be less effective to begin with? I’m horrified that is even discussed. The reason enemies try to use asymmetric means to fight us isn’t a function of their cunning, but their weakness. If we weaken our Army, one day somebody will judge they can beat us on the battlefield with force on force. That will result in more casualties and maybe defeat.
The Army’s main job is to fight and win our wars. Victory is not our birthright.
“Math Problem” (Posted November 1, 2003)
This article says that since late summer, untrained proto-jihadists are flocking to Iraq in the hundreds. Some even from Europe where they are incited to stupidity. By implication, they are responsible for the increased rate of attacks on American in Iraq the last several weeks. But we also know that the latest attacks are more sophisticated and some are suicide bombers. Untrained jihadists can’t launch sophisticated attacks and we think we know that it takes a year or two to indoctrinate a suicide bomber.
Wherever those amateur jihadists are going, they aren’t entering the fight. Are they quietly being killed trying to cross the border or being captured? Certainly, the suicide bombers are being imported unless they were brought in before the war.
I don’t know what this means, but the facts don’t add up to the amateurs affecting the fight.
One thing it means is that as hard as we try, our enemies try to make this a religious war. Saddam is bad but since America got rid of him, Moslems should fight us? One nutso says:
But outside [a Berlin mosque], a 21-year-old man who identified himself as Akmed said that while Saddam Hussein was unpopular, now "there are people who are angry about the American occupation." He and others said that inside the mosque, collections usually requested for Muslims in Palestine and Chechnya were now being offered for Iraq as well.
It never occurred to these devout fools that they could have gone to Iraq to overthrow Saddam all these years. No, instead of getting roused to fight a brutal dictator, they want to kill us, the liberators. Idiots or not, we need feel no guilt for killing the fools. Be grateful they are bad at being killers. Do not excuse the fact that they want to kill us.