Thursday, July 01, 2004

July 2004 Posts Recovered from The Internet Archives

These are my July 2004 posts from the dead Yahoo!Geocities site taken from The Internet Archive.

“Slow March into Darfur” (Posted July 31, 2004)
The British, the French, and the African Union are prepared to send troops to cope with the Darfur crisis. The UN is being dragged along to halt genocide and the US is the one dragging. Once again, Britain is tugging along with us. The French are grabbing the rope, too, but I’m not sure which end they are on yet. The vaunted “international community” is debating the competing options of doing nothing or waiting until it is too late and then making the situation worse. They really are that good.
Like I said, two battalion-sized ground forces—one US and one European—can back up one US and one European fighter squadron in two bases in eastern Chad. Lord knows Chad has little in the way of infrastructure, but there are air strips out there that we should be able to use with some preparation. It could be a lot since I have no idea if the airfields on the old maps I checked have been used in the last two decades. But we do practice expeditionary warfare even with our Air Force. And we don’t need massive force given Sudan’s weak military. And France’s long military presence in Chad means there is a logistics path that can be used to supply the forces even if Libya refuses to help.
Throw in AU forces that will patrol in Darfur, and Western troops can spot check on the ground while providing ground security at the air strips. A no-fly/no-drive zone will be enforced by Western air power. All this to get aid to the region and keep the genocide from succeeding. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.
Ultimately, we’ll have to reverse the ethnic/religious cleansing. I think the world should split up Sudan and bugger the inviolability of African borders.
Lots more on Darfur here.
We shall see whether coping means stopping the genocide or doing nothing until the international community can breathe a sigh of relief that it is too late to do anything.
I happen to think that a humanitarian purpose supports a national interest purpose in harming a state that has harbored Islamist terrorists including bin Laden in the past and which is probably still a playground for Islamist terrorists. The Darfurians can be grateful that Khartoum does not have WMD. Because otherwise the humanitarian lobby wouldn’t think action is warranted.
“Covering All Their Bases” (Posted July 31, 2004)
Your Axis of El Vil update.
Chavez’s government thinks he will win the vote next month on his recall:
Venezuela's vice president told a U.N. envoy Thursday that the government will respect the outcome of the Aug. 15 recall referendum on Hugo Chavez's presidency "whatever it is."
This confidence is based on some real support (dictators usually have a base of support) and a willingness to use state power to twist the system to its advantage. Chavez will follow the forms of democracy while using thug methods to shape the results. He is also making the election process vulnerable to dispute and disruption:
Venezuela's opposition worries that a recall referendum on President Hugo Chavez will, in the least, be made more difficult by new voter lists, an electronic voting system and untested thumbprint ID devices. At worst, some say, all that technology could be an elaborate attempt aimed at making the vote fail.
If the people of Venezuela are too afraid to tell the pollsters who they will vote for like the Nicaraguan elections that turned the Sandinistas out, Chavez is readying the excuses:
[Venezuelan] Interior Minister Luis Rincon said radicals were seeking to use plastic explosives stolen from a navy base to create chaos during the voting.

"There are people here, and they aren't favored in the polls, who want a scenario of violence," Lucas Rincon said. "They think it will change the result of the vote."

Authorities have yet to recover some 138 pounds of C-4 plastic explosive and 80 detonators that were reported stolen July 17 from a navy base in the coastal city of Puerto Cabello, 70 miles west of Caracas.

Rincon said that Chavez opponents, including dissident military officers who have been discharged, could use the explosives in a "subversive plan" to create chaos before or during the Aug. 15 recall referendum.
I have no doubt that explosives will be used to disrupt the elections. I also have no doubt that the bombers will be employees of Chavez. If the vote goes his way, the voters supported him in the face of “US-backed terrorists.” If the vote goes against him, the violence will be all the excuse Chavez needs that the election was not “fair” and so will be nullified. Heck, even without a few bombs, the election could collapse the way Chavez is setting it up. Chavez has put in a self-destruct button on the whole process.
What will Jimmy Carter say? He is monitoring the process. Will he stand up for America? For Venezuelan democracy? Or just for the anti-American thug?
And what do we do? As I’ve said, unless Chavez opens his country to Islamist terrorists, this is not a military problem given the other threats we face (Iraq, Afghanistan, Iran, North Korea, Taiwan). Sadly, stability is all we can strive for here, right now. And I bet Chavez knows that even as he rails about imaginary US plots. The Venezuelan opposition can only count on our moral support and whatever good Jimmy Carter can do for them.
God help them all.
“Start the Clock” (Posted July 31, 2004)
Iran just started the clock to regime change in Tehran:
Diplomats said this week that Tehran has restarted equipment used to make uranium hexaflouride, which — when injected into centrifuges and spun — can be enriched to low levels to be used as fuel to generate electricity or to levels high enough to make nuclear weapons.

Kharrazi said Iran restarted the centrifuge construction after the three European countries failed to help overcome questions about Iran's compliance with International Atomic Energy Agency commitments despite promising in February to work toward closure by June if Iran stopped making centrifuges. It did so in April.
In a sign of progress, the 3 European countries in question have not just gone along with the fiction that Iran doesn’t want nuclear weapons.
There will be regime change and with some extra troops in Afghanistan, we could cut loose a large brigade to go into eastern Iran and maybe strip a division from Iraq from the west. The Marines might get a brigade from the sea in the south. Iranian military forces loyal to the regime will need to mass to oppose our regular forces, making them vulnerable to air power (and to the brigades themselves). These American conventional units will just be backups/support to air power and special forces that will take the lead supporting rebels against the mullahs. Six brigades are nowhere near enough to invade and conquer Iran, of course; but I refuse to believe we’ve been idle with Iran the last year or two.
We have little time to stop Iran from getting nuclear missiles. We must act in spring 2005. Or, depending on the election here, December 2004. If we make the Iranian people and military wait to revolt until the spring under a new government here, we’ll see a new Bay of Pigs to complete our JFK nostalgia tour. And then in a couple years, a new missile crisis. Are we having fun yet?
“Peace, War, Whatever” (Posted July 31, 2004)
A senior Chinese official warned that Beijing won't rule out war with Taiwan if the island's president pursues his plan to adopt a new constitution by 2008, the government's China Daily newspaper reported Friday.
The Chinese are trying to soften their recent rhetoric over taking Taiwan (oh, excuse, me, “resolving” the issue):
China will exert its "utmost efforts" to resolve the Taiwan issue by peaceful means, but will never tolerate independence for the island, Chinese President Hu Jintao told his U.S. counterpart, state media said on Saturday.
This isn’t quite the same as the headline:
China to Resolve Taiwan Peacefully, Hu Tells Bush
Of course, the Chinese would like to resolve this peacefully, but the key is they will “resolve” it and that means Peking rules Taiwan at the end of the day. Rice can confirm that the Chinese are determined to resolve this issue:
When U.S. national security adviser Condoleezza Rice held talks in Beijing this month, she found Chinese officials focused on Taiwan.
North Korea is trying to be a nuclear power and could trigger a war that devastates the Korean peninsula or trigger events that could lead to South Korea, Japan, and Taiwan going nuclear if North Korea won’t dismantle its nuclear programs, and China is blindered to those issues by their focus on Taiwan.
Were I the supreme ruler of China, I’d invade Taiwan with everything I could scrape up on the eve of the Peking 2008 Olympics. Who’d think they’d spoil that symbol of arriving on the world stage? I would, for one. A pageant is expendable when the real basis of your claim to legitimacy in a monopoly on political power is slipping away.
A sense of urgency is needed on Taiwan to build an effective military to hold the line until help from us can arrive. And we need to be ready to help. We cannot let China absorb Taiwan.
"Taiwan Invasion by Olympics?" (Posted July 29, 2004)
I've opined repeatedly that were I the China God, I'd invade Taiwan on the eve of the Peking 2008 Olympics. The Chinese communists want Taiwan very badly and have not been shy about telling us this simple fact. I happen to believe them. Still, I've read nothing at all to support this and so lapse into worries that I'm being paranoid. Then that feeling wears off and I write about this again. So this article from Strategypage is sobering:
Chinese diplomats have let it be known that retired generals recommended to Jiang Zemin, the Chairman of the Central Military Commission and former head of state, that China “settle the issue of Taiwan well ahead of the 2008 Olympics to be held in Beijing.”
And what do a lot of China's generals think? Listen to the rebuke they received:
A few weeks later, one of the deputy chiefs of staff of the Chinese air force (PLAAF) made an address to army (PLA) officers in which he chastised them for believing that a war with Taiwan and the United States would be “easy to win.”
Although many analysts disregard China's ability to invade, I do not. We should not mirror image them. They may not be able to muster an Okinawa 1945-style invasion with all the specialized stuff that we excel at making and using, but they can sure muster a half-baked Norway 1940-style invasion with what they've got:
If the number of active duty amphibious ships in the Chinese Navy is modest, the U.S. Office of Naval Intelligence (ONI) says the total number of Army, Navy, Coast Guard (former Provincial Military District) amphibious ships and craft is vast. Both PLA Ground Forces and PLA Air Force have formal shipping transportation organizations not described or counted in most naval references.

In addition, according to ONI, there are vast numbers of civil amphibious vessels used for island and river communication, potentially available for mobilization. One analysis indicates that formal military amphibious assets can lift 38 heavy (i.e. tank) battalions plus 58 infantry battalions (of which reserve elements lift 17 heavy battalions and 32 infantry battalions). In addition, assets serving as civil ferries (probably understated as not all are listed in international registries) can lift 7 heavy battalions, 30 medium (i.e. motorized) battalions, and 226 infantry battalions. No less than 95 of the latter can be carried by high speed surface skimmers, an item of concern to Taiwanese military planners. Actual maritime lift includes 139 heavy battalions, 362 medium battalions and 175 infantry battalions on merchant ships and a further 30 medium battalions and 23 infantry battalions on naval auxiliary ships. While only a fraction of these would be available for mobilization, clearly the amount of lift exceeds any realistic requirement.
China can invade Taiwan and they want Taiwan. And they fear Taiwan will slip from their grasp forever if too much time passes. Nukes and deeply embedded democracy, if allowed to develop on Taiwan, could keep Taiwan independent as long as the Taiwanese want.
I think that China's capabilities to invade are far greater than people realize. But ultimately, when deciding on war and peace, it matters not what the real situation is. What the decision-makers believe is most important. Once the shooting starts, reality rears its ugly head, but by then thousands are dying to prove what reality is.
Rush arms to Taiwan and get them to shape up militarily. Make it clear to China that we will fight for Taiwan. Keep our Stryker brigades, Marines, and naval and air power on guard. And given the opinion of Chinese officers that we would be easy to beat, stop those ridiculous tours of our military units that we give the Chinese routinely. We think it is shock and awe that will make them too scared to fight us, but all it does is give them insights on how to beat us.
We can beat China but I'd rather not have to. We're kind of busy.
Update: For the benefit of viewers linking in (thanks Rev. Sensing!), I'll repost this example of how an invasion can be carried out in the face of a superior naval force. I'm ashamed to admit I haven't gotten around to finishing this planned trilogy…
“The Taiwan Showdown—Part II (Invasion Without a Navy)” (Posted January 1, 2004)
See The Taiwan Showdown—Part I (Intentions)” (Posted November 27, 2003)
Sources used include this 1997 Air Command and Staff College research paper by Major Brian T. Baxley; and Norway 1940 website.
Invasion Problem
This is the basic problem. You are a major land power with plenty of troops and aircraft and you wish to conquer a far smaller country. While the status quo is acceptable, a change for the worse is not. The problem is you have to cross quite a bit of sea to get to the target and you have little amphibious warfare capability. To add to your misery, a major power with a powerful navy that includes aircraft carriers, possibly supported by another major power, may intervene to stop you.
This is China's problem today. They may need to invade Taiwan but the United States and maybe Japan stand in the way. But it was also Germany's problem in the spring of 1940. As long as Norway was neutral, Germany could import critical iron ore and remain free from attack from enemy bases in Norway. Germany had to contemplate British and French resistance to their plans or even pre-emptive action. Yet Germany pulled off the invasion and Norway remained under German control for the remainder of the war.
So how did Germany do it?
Norwegian defenders
The Norwegians had 12,000 troops on active duty in 6 infantry brigades, three cavalry regiments, and separate units. Reserves were 120,000 strong. The brigades were poorly equipped and lacked mobility. The Norwegians had little artillery or anti-aircraft weapons. They had an old and small navy, dispersed across Norway’s long coast. The Norwegians had only about 40 old combat aircraft. In addition, neutral Denmark was in the way.
German invasion force
The Germans had six infantry division and a parachute battalion allocated to conquer Norway. The German navy was modern and of good quality, but had few ships. Thirty warships were available but Germany had no amphibious ships to carry troops.
The Germans had 500 transport aircraft each capable of carrying 28 troops. They also had 100 fighters and 330 bombers for the invasion.
Allied expectations
The British only expected a small German effort if they went after Norway. The British based their plans on the Germans being able to invade with no more than eight battalions. The British had a large navy with aircraft carriers, although the carrier aircraft were not equal to the German aircraft nor could the British carriers hold many planes. Still, German bases were far to the south of Norway. The Norwegians expected the British to help them.
German invasion plan
For ground forces, Germany was able to deploy 50 battalions of troops. The British wrongly assumed only 6-8 battalions could be landed. The Germans exceeded the worst-case British estimate by a factor of six. How did the Germans do this?
The Germans sent ships to sea six days before the invasion date in order to attack widely separated targets simultaneously. The Germans deployed a parachute battalion and about 9,000 infantry carried aboard warships in six groups for the initial landings at different points in Norway (Narvik, Trondheim, Bergen, Kristiansand & Arendal, Oslo, and Egersand). Another 1,400 were dedicated to an assault on Denmark, which would provide convenient stepping stones to Norway. Two battlecruisers were the primary heavy naval force to escort the invasion elements in the northernmost thrust.
The Germans disguised transport ships as civilian cargo ships to carry the second wave. These ships made repeated trips.A half dozen submarines were outfitted to carry supplies. German bombers were held in reserve to attack any British navy forces found by recon aircraft over the North Sea.
The invasion
On April 9, 1940, German forces began their invasion of Norway. The Norwegian navy just watched the Germans go by, unwilling to initiate hostilities. The British lacked enough recon aircraft to track the German fleet.
Two airborne landings were made at Stavenger and Oslo, supported by German airpower. German air transports then airlifted 6 battalions into Oslo and 2 more into Stavenger to reinforce. At Bergen, 3 seaplanes brought in troops. Air power helped the German warships enter the harbors for the first wave. Initial objectives were captured quickly and they began to fan out to the rest of the country. The Norwegian navy did interfere with water lines of supply but Germans relied on air transports for resupply. The Germans quickly put captured airfields into use for their own aircraft to support the troops and fight off any British naval intervention.
In the middle of April, small British and French forces landed in Norway to resist the German invasion. Four British brigades, 3 French demi-brigades, and a Polish brigade (plus supporting units) were sent to Norway to oppose the Germans. The British deployed a few dozen fighters to Norway but were unable to prevent the Germans from gaining air superiority. German air power kept British navy in northern Norwegian waters. The Germans were successful in pushing back the allies everywhere but at Narvik in the north, which the allies captured after fatal hesitation on May 28. Ten German destroyers in Narvik harbor were sunk by two British forays into the harbor.
With the Germans crushing French and British resistance in France, the allies withdrew from their isolated Narvik toehold by June 9. The Germans managed to sink one of the British carriers in the final phase, 260 miles west of Norway.
End state
The Germans overwhelmed the Norwegian and Allied forces that tried to hold Norway. In the short run, the German surface fleet was crippled. Both battlecruisers were damaged and out of action for six months. But the occupation of Norway allowed the Germans to secure their iron ore imports from Sweden, protect their northern flank and prevent Allied attacks from that direction, and provided bases to send out ships, submarines, and planes to strike British naval forces. When Allied convoys passed by Norwegian waters to supply the Soviet Union later in the war, German bases here allowed the Germans to savage the vital supply lines.
As one author of the campaign stated (quoted in Baxley’s paper):
The occupation of Norway was a great military success for Germany. In the face of British naval superiority, the landing operation could only succeed if the intention remained concealed long enough to make allied counter-measures late and therefore ineffective. This was achieved. The Allies’ delay, and their failure to act immediately on receipt of the first news of the German invasion, were contributory causes to the German success.
It was an impressive performance for a country with a small navy and a non-existent amphibious warfare force.
"American Foreign Legion" (Posted July 29, 2004)
Our military is good. Peters has the goods. Despite the bitching that the press notes loudly, recruiting is going just fine. And why? Well the low casualties we endure even in war is one reason. Patriotism is another. Why would the press understand that complaining is a God-given right for our soldiers and they exercise it freely? Don't mean nothing, folks. Our guys and gals are reenlisting just fine:
Sensational media accounts make it sound as though no soldier will ever re-enlist again, as if mutiny's just around the corner.

In fact, re-enlistment rates in the active-duty Army and the reserve components have risen dramatically. Re-up rates are especially high in units that have deployed to Iraq or Afghanistan. Our vets are proud, not embittered. And all of the Army's components are meeting or exceeding new-recruit targets, except for a slight lag in the National Guard — a gap recruiters expect to make up in the coming months.
Peters also notes what I like to note, that our Army National Guard combat units are better than European active duty combat units (the British excepted I imagine):
A few months ago, an Army general with service in Iraq as well as extensive NATO experience remarked to me, "Think of the weakest National Guard unit you saw in your career — they're light years ahead of the best the [continental] Europeans have got."
Our reserves are cursed to be compared to our active duty forces and not our enemies (or allies).
Yet our military is too small—our Army to be specific. We are adding 30,000 troops to the force in addition to the mobilized reserves but adding new units can't be done too quickly. But the military is wary of adding troops to relieve today's stress when the stress may recede because of success before enough troops to relieve today's stress can be put in place. Yet what if the stress does not dissipate as the brass anticipates?
I'd like to suggest we recruit our own foreign legion—An American Foreign Legion. At first I thought we should establish a Free French force as the only realistic way to get the French to help us given their dogged opposition to any NATO help. That's the only way they helped in World War II, after all (I don't count the live-fire training exercise that Paris gave Germany in 1940). Why not try it again? As much as I ridicule the French, I do actually have hope that some good fraction of the French people does support us despite the cynical crooks who lead them and the many people who think we are a greater threat than Islamist whack jobs. But then I thought, there are probably lots of Europeans and others around the world who support us despite the hostility, neutrality, or lukewarm support of their governments. Why not turn a cheap shot at the French into a real policy option?
American officers and NCOs with bilingual skills would lead lower-ranking enlisted personnel recruited from foreign countries. Form them into national-based companies in plug and play light infantry battalions that could be attached to our brigades or used independently. Base them on US or allied territory overseas from basic training on. Teach them English to understand commands and citizenship to give them goals to work for. Teach them riot control and counter-insurgency techniques. Guarantee that they will face two tours overseas in combat in a 6-year term of enlistment. Provide them with citizenship upon completion of their terms (or upon wounding or death in combat) and allow them to transfer at the end of their service to the regular Army or Marines or become a civilian and move to America. There will be no retirement pay from the AFL. Think of them as temps. Do not let them re-enlist in the AFL to keep a mercenary force from developing in our military establishment. Indeed, max out their rank at sergeant E-5.
And building such a force would be better than a dedicated constabulary corps in the Army to keep our Army a single force dedicated to winning wars instead of bifurcating into hard and soft units. We will avoid the problem of needlessly expanding our military and then having to pay for it since we can just disband these units at any time and pull the US cadre back to the Army and Marines. We'd have combat-oriented forces that we can actually use with a reward that many will want very badly. Plus, we'd give people friendly toward us an opportunity to fight with us when their own countries will not help us fight our common enemy.
We could aim for 15,000 in 30 battalions, bringing in 5 battalions every year as we discharge 5 battalions.
An American Foreign Legion. I like the idea.
"Well This is Interesting" (Posted July 27, 2004)
Interesting if we have our eye on Iran, that is. I've wondered what we were doing with these guys:
The U.S. head of detainee operations in Iraq, Major-General Geoffrey Miller, told the People's Mujahideen Organization (MKO) its members held at a base in eastern Iraq had been recognized as "protected persons under the Fourth Geneva Convention."
I've seen them referred to as MEK (Mujahideen-e Khalq), but these are the same guys. Are we keeping them to accompany US forces into Iran to act as liaisons? We've had a year to shape them and screen them for this role. And we have another 6 months probably before the revolution. We will intervene when this happens/we spark it.
The Iranian mullahs aren't happy at all about this development. And the French don't like the group. Far be it from me to suggest that what these two countries hate we must automatically like, but I'm willing to make the leap in this case.
"I Guess More Troops in Iraq isn't the Answer" (Posted July 27, 2004)
The Army is debating whether constant patrolling of Iraqi streets by US troops is counter-productive:
Advocates of the new approach say U.S. troops would be more effective if they were kept out of view of the Iraqi public, and even removed to remote desert bases, appearing only when needed to conduct operations beyond the capacity of Iraqi security forces.
Yes. I've been lonely out here arguing that flooding the zone with troops would be counter-productive and that we need to push Iraqis to fight the war against the Baathists.
Of course, this doesn't mean cut and run:
Marshall, who has made two trips to Iraq in the past year, said the issue for U.S. commanders will be finding a way to reduce their presence without simply surrendering turf to insurgents. "The real dilemma is when you leave a vacuum," he said, "because that lawless environment will be filled by hard-liners, so there's a balance that needs to be struck."
We needed to patrol as long as we didn't have Iraqis capable of doing the job. As the Iraqis field more and more capable troops, we need to pull back. Not too fast to create a vacuum but not too slow to create friction with the local population. Note that this doesn't mean that our presence is creating insurgents and we would have been better off staying out of Iraq. We destroyed a threat by crushing Saddam's regime and that required invading and patrolling the defeated country. Now we must create a friendly Iraq and as any people would, the Iraqis don't like foreign troops—even liberators—around for long (just ask the French about that). Pulling back to let Iraqis fight will produce the friendly Iraq and keep the US-Iraq friction at a minimum. Our troops should be the conventional backup, deter foreign invasion, and strike quietly with special forces in tandem with the Iraqi security forces
Can we finally stop the silly talk of needing several hundred thousand US troops to occupy Iraq?
"At War Addendum" (Posted July 27, 2004)
Ledeen came in too late to add to yesterday's post. It belongs there:
There are plenty of terrorists out there who aren't Islamists. (There are even some suicide terrorists who have been forced into it; Coalition commanders are reporting the discovery of hands chained to steering wheels in suicide vehicles.) But all the terror masters are tyrants. Saddam didn't have any religious standing, nor do the Assads, but they are in the front rank of the terror masters. Ergo: Defeat the tyrants, win the war.

And then historians can study the failed ideology.

Machiavelli, Chapter Two: If you are victorious, people will always judge the means you used to have been appropriate.

Corollary from Lyndon Baines Johnson: When you have them by the balls, the hearts and minds generally follow.
Just win. Or as I said once, just kill the dots. And the states that support them or cheer them on.
"Are They Stoned or Just Progressive?" (Posted July 27, 2004)
I was just in awe reading Orson Scott Card's latest. He hits on so many points that I have or would like to rant on that I can only say read it all. As they say, I'll wait.
I'll nod emphatically in agreement over only one point to save time since I know you went and read the piece.
How on Earth can the endless debate over the Iraq War be over who to blame? Hell, blame me! I'll take the blame for ending a despot's nightmare reign of human rights abuses, threats to conquer and intimidate his neighbors to advance his personal glory, support for terror, pursuit of chemicals, bugs, and nukes. And all in a brilliant campaign unique for its care for civilians and low friendly casualties. A campaign successfully executed despite cries that the Moslem and Arab street would rise up and split the region asunder. So toss in the diplomatic credit, too. Please, blame me. As Card notes:
I'm fed up with the attempt to blame somebody for a military campaign that by any rational historical measure was an utter triumph.
An utter triumph. So right. Sadly, the ability to measure the results and means requires rationality. How satisfying is that when you can chant "Jobs not war" like it actually means something?
"At War" (Posted July 26, 2004)
We are at war today. Really. We've been under attack for a long time but we first began to seriously fight the war in the skies over Pennsylvania on September 11, 2001. That day we fought back with nothing but our determination and airline cutlery and won our first victory over the Islamist terrorists.
I'm not that interested in fighting over who bears more responsibility for 9-11. Our Islamist enemies are at fault. Bush failed in 8 months to stop the attacks and Clinton failed in 8 years to stop the attacks. I only get interested in the debate when the left's partisans insist that the 8 months are the only fault involved. They forget their man. More amazingly, they forget the attackers. Still, I largely agree with Steyn who wrote:
I'm not saying Clinton, Berger & Co. are the Chamberlains of this new war. The point is even Chamberlain wasn't Chamberlain when he died: Posterity had yet to chisel him the one-word epitaph "Appeaser." And neither side of the appeasement debate thought it worth spending the 1940s arguing about the 1930s: There were other priorities. And, in fairness to Chamberlain, the overwhelming majority of the British people supported "appeasement," just as, in fairness to Clinton, most of the American people were happy to string along on an eight-year holiday from history.
Even if Clinton had pounded the podium for eight years, insisting that we had to fight terrorists before they hit us, the public was not ready for this fight yet. If it can even be said that we are now after 9-11, that is.
And I think our strategy for fighting our enemies is the only reasonable way to fight the war. From the National Security Strategy of the United States of America, we are committed to preempting threats:
We must adapt the concept of imminent threat to the capabilities and objectives of today’s adversaries. Rogue states and terrorists do not seek to attack us using conventional means. They know such attacks would fail. Instead, they rely on acts of terror and, potentially, the use of weapons of mass destruction—weapons that can be easily concealed, delivered covertly, and used without warning.

The targets of these attacks are our military forces and our civilian population, in direct violation of one of the principal norms of the law of warfare. As was demonstrated by the losses on September 11, 2001, mass civilian casualties is the specific objective of terrorists and these losses would be exponentially more severe if terrorists acquired and used weapons of mass destruction.

The United States has long maintained the option of preemptive actions to counter a sufficient threat to our national security. The greater the threat, the greater is the risk of inaction— and the more compelling the case for taking anticipatory action to defend ourselves, even if uncertainty remains as to the time and place of the enemy’s attack. To forestall or prevent such hostile acts by our adversaries, the United States will, if necessary, act preemptively.

The United States will not use force in all cases to preempt emerging threats, nor should nations use preemption as a pretext for aggression. Yet in an age where the enemies of civilization openly and actively seek the world’s most destructive technologies, the United States cannot remain idle while dangers gather. We will always proceed deliberately, weighing the consequences of our actions.
To bolster our ability to preempt and defeat threats, we seek dominance militarily over potential enemies:
We know from history that deterrence can fail; and we know from experience that some enemies cannot be deterred. The United States must and will maintain the capability to defeat any attempt by an enemy—whether a state or non-state actor—to impose its will on the United States, our allies, or our friends. We will maintain the forces sufficient to support our obligations, and to defend freedom. Our forces will be strong enough to dissuade potential adversaries from pursuing a military build-up in hopes of surpassing, or equaling, the power of the United States.
I am personally shocked that the simple ideas of being stronger than our enemies and willing to do what it takes to defend ourselves are somehow controversial. We have not reserved the right to destroy anybody at any time for just looking at us the wrong way. The policy is clear: different threats require different responses and military preemption is but one method. And if we can't trust the representatives of the world's oldest democracy to decide on weighty matters of war and peace over the judgment of that Star Wars bar of nations we call the UN, these are sad days indeed.
If during our election campaign, neither side decides that its effective motto is "Stronger than France. Respected in Paris" I guess I'll be satisfied that the republic will survive. And we will. Even if we decide we are not at war and that we should extend a hand of friendship to those who have tried to kill us these past several decades and for whom 9-11 was just the beginning of their kill-fest. We will lose tens of thousands dead should we be foolish enough to act on this feel good impulse, but we will once again learn our lesson and go after our enemies. Perhaps this time with an anger that will not be stopped short of destruction of the enemy. Indeed, perhaps with too much anger as those in power have their cherished illusions shattered in a nuclear cloud and seek righteous vengeance.
Too much anger may be a problem for a future after we try again to understand our enemy—only harder—only to have them strike us harder, but that is not our problem now. Our failure to crush the resistance in Fallujah when we had the chance shows us what restraint gets us. Not thanks. Not dialog for common ground. But this:
The three-week siege is inspiring "a literature of resistance and war," said Egyptian novelist Gamal el-Ghitani. "Fallujah is a symbol, in one of the worst eras we have witnessed, that it is not impossible to stand up to America."

He said it also sends a message to Arab dictators about the lesson people may draw about resisting oppression.

"I used to laugh, despite the ghastly daily news, about how a bunch of poor, helpless Iraqis with primitive weapons are forcing the greatest superpower in the world to negotiate. Honestly, the American army was ridiculed," he said.

El-Ghitani, like many Arabs, hadn't even heard of Fallujah until then. Now it is being likened to Beirut under Israeli siege in 1982, to the resistance in Egyptian cities on the Suez Canal against the Anglo-French-Israeli invasion of 1956, and even Napoleon's 1799 siege of Acre.

Ibrahim el-Firjani, a Libyan university professor, said Fallujah has "shown America the real Arabs, not those lining up to surrender."
Instead of talking and exploring reasons we may have given our enemies to hate us and kill us, we must kill them. No restraint. No mercy. I'm honestly not asking for their surrender. They'll just get attorneys that we'll end up paying for. Let them stand up to us. I don't care. But when the do, make sure we cut them down. Don't ever miss an opportunity to kill them.
For those who would talk to us, we must of course talk and even help them. Not all Moslems are our enemies. Not even most. I firmly believe this. Our enemy is just a fraction that a larger fraction has learned to cheer on.
Kill the fraction that would kill us and the cheering sections will go home. Because if we don't kill our enemies, we will be ridiculed by those who survive and the cheering sections will cheer some more.
These are some of the guys who are killing our enemies so we can hope to live quietly at home.
Although American casualties have gone up in July during official Iraqi rule from June, I think we may see progress in the war faster than we expect. I wrote this thought a month ago, and I still think it is possible and maybe even likely. I keep waiting for the insurgency to dwindle and it hasn't. But I don't want to make the mistake of thinking that because the insurgency has stumbled along at a low but lethal level that it will always continue to do so. I've hammered away that the key to winning is getting Iraqis to fight for their country against the Baathists, and we are succeeding in doing this. If my main focus is being achieved, I can't ignore the possibility that this will work, now can I? As Strategypage notes:
The Iraqi government is taking their new powers seriously, and so are the Iraqi police and security forces. No one expected that such an administrative event, the declaration of Iraqi sovereignty, would have such a dramatic impact. But the large number (over 200,000) of trained Iraqi police, troops and security forces, the continued street crime and kidnappings, and growing public anger over the lack of public safety, combined to produce an energetic Iraqi crackdown on the source of the problem. The number of tips about who is attacking Iraqis, and Americans, has skyrocketed. And most of the information is real, with the subsequent raids are yielding dramatic results. Criminal, Baath Party  and al Qaeda leaders and key members are being picked up, or killed in shoot outs. Records, cash and records are being seized. The records are often interesting, for the Baath Party groups, which hire a lot of the men who plant the roadside bombs or fire mortars or RPGs at government or American targets, keep records of who got paid how much for each attack. In some cases, moonlighting Iraqi police are found on the list.
We'll see if the Iraqis can move rapidly or at least steadily to control the Baathist thugs.
And in the meantime, Iran moves up on the "to do" list:
A significant barrier was crossed when President George W. Bush spoke aloud, Monday, about the possibility of an Iranian role in the 9/11 attacks on the United States. By doing so, he was responding -- in a language that the ayatollahs would understand -- to escalating threats and provocative behaviour from Iran. No matter who is President after November, it appears the U.S. and Iran are now on course for another history-making collision.
Spring 2005, I should think. I haven't worried about the lack of overt US pressure on Iran since I figured that next year was the time for action and there is little point to stirring the pot until then. If we broadcast too much support to the Iran opposition too soon, the Iranian mullahs would just sweep everyone up. And our allies are actually getting to see the futility of talking to the mullahs while the mullahs build nuclear missiles instead of just taking our word on the matter.
At some point we'll see the public rhetoric heat up for regime change in Tehran. A nice discussion in the election campaign might be a good start.
I can't forget we are at war. I just want to win. That is my priority. Let history lay blame.
“What We’re Up Against” (Posted July 25, 2004)
I watched The Terminator last night.
I shouldn’t watch movies like this I suppose. But it provides more lessons than Titanic.
Listen! And understand! That terminator is out there. It can't be bargained with! It can't be reasoned with! It doesn't feel pity, or remorse, or fear. And it absolutely will not stop, ever, until you are dead!
The 9-11 Commission report (as Instapundit noted) says this about our enemy’s desire to defeat us:
It is not a position with which Americans can bargain or negotiate. With it there is no common ground—not even respect for life—on which to begin a dialogue. It can only be destroyed or utterly isolated.
I still have no problem saying we are in a war on terror rather than a war on Islamists. The reason I feel this way is summarized in the last sentence above. We must destroy or isolate the threat. Can we destroy Islamism? Can we wipe it out? No. We cannot. There will always be nutballs who think it is God’s work to kill us. I think the key is utterly isolating the Islamists. Defang them. Make them impotent in their rage at the modern world and us. Ultimately, if the Islamists are impoverished nutballs sitting in the desert bemoaning their fate and cursing us for their poverty and hopelessness, I don’t care what they think about us. I just care what they can do to us. I just don’t care enough about them to want to save them from themselves. They are welcome to their self-inflicted misery and backwardness as long as they leave us alone.
But we’re a long way from having to decide between utterly isolating them or destroying them. For now we must kill them where we can and imprison them when we must. We must pursue them into their safe havens and destroy those safety zones.
And we have an advantage over the humans fighting the machines—our enemies are not tougher than we are. They do in fact feel fear. And we are the ones with the machines that will kill them for us.
We just need the determination to admit we are at war and the toughness to kill them, pursue them, and kill them again and again until they are driven from power and stripped of their appeal to the hopeless masses who see a glimmer of hope in nihilistic death rituals. Frighteningly enough, there are plenty in our country who see threats all around them but the Islamists are way down on their list.
“Understanding” the rage of the Islamists is futile because they will not be stopped, ever, until we are dead. Or until we kill them or isolate the Islamist terrorists.
“A New Era Beginning, I Hope” (Posted July 25, 2004)
Via NRO, the first ABM is loaded in Alaska:
Five additional interceptors will be installed at the 700-acre complex by the end of the year, along with another four at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California. Ten more will be installed at Fort Greely by late 2005, launching the Bush administration's multibillion-dollar system.
Critics in the article lamely argue that we have a defense—attacking enemy missiles before they could even launched:
If U.S. troops saw a "country building a missile, they would blow it up on the ground. They would never wait to see if it was launched."
Yeah right. As if we could get away with such a pre-emptive move without the left introducing impeachment articles—unless one of their own ordered it, of course.
Just as importantly, as we debate how to prevent nuclear proliferation, won’t creating a reasonable defense dissuade states from pursuing nukes that won’t do them any good? I think a solid missile defense will be better for anti-proliferation than any number of treaties.
Drive on. I wonder what it will feel like to live in a world where our missile-armed enemies don’t have the automatic option to destroy us?
I think I’ll like it.
“The Northern Front” (Posted July 24, 2004)
Much has been made by some that the source of our problems with the Baathists in the Sunni triangle is that we didn’t come rampaging south from Turkey through Tikrit during the Iraq War. I disagreed.
First of all, the major source of resistance in Fallujah and to a lesser extent nearby Ramadi, would have been nowhere near the line of advance for such a northern attack.
Second, we would have been forced to kill regular army units that otherwise were frozen in place by the Kurdish threat. These Iraqi units were out of the fight and if we’d gotten near them we’d have had to destroy them for the safety of our own units marching south.
Third, we would have risked casualties amongst Kurds in the north who were our allies, plus extra destruction that we’d have to fix on top of the massive reconstruction job. What if the oil fields had been collateral damage in this offensive?
All in all, I felt a threat of a northern front was far more valuable than an actual northern front. Finally, in an otherwise good article that notes what I’ve noted before that many people support the war only if successful (so win the war against the resistance and stop worrying about bolstering support for the war in other ways! Only victory will persuade the wobblies!) Hanson notes as well that the cakewalk of the war led to urealistic expectations. It did for me, I’ll say, only I didn’t go wobbly when the post-war turned more difficult than it appeared it would be in April 2003. But on the northern front, Hanson says in passing:
It was, of course, a very good thing at the time to have the entire Sunni trial collapse without Americans descending down into that miasma from Turkey shooting and bombing.
We still should have dealt with Fallujah in April 2003 but that is a separate issue from the northern front. I’d like to see Hanson address the whole issue of the northern front as a separate piece. I think we made no mistake in staying out of that miasma.
“Foreign Fighters” (Posted July 24, 2004)
Not to be too flippant, but we’ve identified one of the major sources of foreign support for the Baathist resistance in Iraq:
SERGIO Vieira de Mello, the U.N. envoy killed by terrorists in Baghdad al most a year ago, was no cynic. But he recognized cynicism where he saw it. Soon before his tragic death, he described attempts at putting the United Nations at the center of things in Iraq as "a cynical ploy" by powers not prepared to give it meaningful support.
I happen to think we’ve successfully used the UN so far and not let them lead us around by the nose contrary to our interests, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t be vigilant.
Keep the UN narrowly and technically focused and keep real power in our hands and our Iraqi friends’ hands.
The UN’s only interest in Iraq is helping enough so they won’t be blamed by the US for failure if it happens. They just don’t want to lose our funding and their prime real estate in New York as punishment for standing in our way. They are willing to risk a democratic and successful Iraq to prevent these losses but don’t ever think the UN’s rogue’s gallery actually wants freedom and prosperity in Iraq.
We, the Iraqis, and our friends on the ground in Iraq are the only ones who want success.
Darfur Expedition?” (Posted July 24, 2004)
Interesting that the British are looking into intervening in Darfur:
Blair made his comments about military assistance after the Guardian newspaper reported he had asked officials to draw up plans for possible military intervention in Sudan.
The Sudanese are opposed and promise that there will be resistance. Just who will fight? The starving and oppressed Darfur people? The Arab militias that the government supports but claims to be restraining? The Sudanese military?
It’s time for the African Union to abandon the rule that borders never change. If they won’t, we should. Recognize Darfur and the south as independent nations with a new doctrine that sovereign states can lose the right to rule parts of their country. We should back them up with arms shipments and no-fly zones.
Of course, the Chinese and Russians won’t like it. Bad precedent don’t you know.
This isn’t just a humanitarian mission after all. Sudan was hip-deep in supporting terrorism and likely still is, and it is probably payback time. Bombing an aspirin factory wasn’t enough of a punishment for conspiring with our enemies.
“Strike Iran?” (Posted July 24, 2004)
Iran defiantly continues its nuclear program that the international community will not stop. Iran will get nuclear warheads mounted on long-range missiles if given enough time.
So can we or the Israelis bomb Iran to end their programs as with Iraq in 1981? I don’t think so and this article agrees:
"Military action is not the answer," said a senior international diplomat involved in the investigation of Iran's nuclear plans.

"It would only push them underground, like in Iraq," said the diplomat, who declined to be named. Israel has hinted it could use air strikes to destroy Iran's nuclear facilities, which it and Washington believe are part of an attempt to acquire atomic weapons under cover of a civilian nuclear power program -- a charge Iran denies.

Convinced that Saddam Hussein was developing nuclear weapons, Israel bombed Iraq's Osiraq nuclear reactor in 1981. But instead of stopping him from pursuing the bomb, Saddam went underground and worked in secret until the program was uncovered by the U.N. nuclear watchdog in 1991.

Several analysts and diplomats said Iran learned from Iraq's mistakes and may be hiding nuclear sites from U.N. inspectors, who have been probing Tehran's atomic program for nearly two years to verify that it is peaceful as Iran insists.

"I think it's impossible to take out Iran's nuclear weapons program with military strikes," a defense industry expert, who declined to be named, told Reuters. "They can recuperate."
Assuming we know where to attack, we could delay the arrival of a nuclear-armed Iran by years, but how confident are we that we can identify the crucial facilities? Iran is a big country, and if they are smart they’d build redundant facilities with some only partly hidden to draw our attention. What if the Iranians learned the lesson of going deep underground long ago? While I would strike Iran to buy time as a preferred option to doing nothing, what if even a solid strike campaign like Desert Fox won’t buy us that time?
I still hold that regime change is the only method to get Iran to end its nuclear weapons drive. And the only real way to get a regime change that sticks is to support a military rebellion supported by the regime’s dissidents. We could support a revolt with special forces, air power, and some conventional brigades. We could secure WMD facilities or destroy them and supply the rebellion and seed the rebel units with special forces to call in air strikes. We should strike al Qaeda elements still in Iran as long as we’re at it.
We have replenished our stockpiles of JDAMs and smart bombs by now, I should think. In January 2005 there will be an elected Iraq government. We will be rotating troops so we’ll have extras in the region. We can extend some troops if we need to. But maybe Iraq will be settled down enough or the Iraqi security services will be carrying the burden and thus freeing US troops from a good portion of the patrols in Iraq. And our election will be over, with the decks cleared for military action in the spring of 2005.
Honestly, if this administration isn’t planning on doing something about the remaining Axis of Evil elements and isn’t dedicated to remaining on the offensive to destroy our enemies before we suffer a nuclear 9-11, why vote for them? At least with an administration that abandons the war, when we are hit even worse the French may again claim they are all Americans now. In reality, we’ll all be Europeans, but still, we’ll value the sympathy, right?
Regime change in Iran: Spring 2005.
Before it’s too late. In light of silly arguments that we should have addressed North Korea or Iran before Iraq since Iraq was the weakest of the Axis, no doubt some will say leave Iran alone until North Korea is solved (but only by giving them money they’ll also mumble), let me repeat Dunn’s Axiom.
As I’ve noted enough times (or not), it is better to stop the nutballs who want to get their first nuke than to stop the nutballs who want their second (or even fourth or tenth).
“They Can Send Thank You Cards to the Philippines” (Posted July 24, 2004)
In a surprising development following the complete surrender by the Philippines government to the demands of kidnappers to leave Iraq, kidnappers have stepped up their demands:
Militants took six foreign truck drivers hostage and threatened Wednesday to behead them unless their company ends its business in Iraq, and their countries — India, Egypt and Kenya — pull all their citizens out.
Of course, the militants are picking on insignificant contributors to Iraq reconstruction, and the first two of those states have long histories of fighting Islamist terrorism so they probably won’t break despite lack of interest in Iraq itself.
And it isn’t just these countries:
In a separate threat, a previously unknown group calling itself al-Qaida's European branch posted a message on an Islamic Web site promising deadly attacks in Bulgaria and Poland if the two countries do not withdraw their troops from Iraq.

The group, calling itself the Tawhid Islamic Group, said Bulgaria and Poland will "pay the price" just as the United States and Spain did, referring to the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on New York and Washington and deadly train explosions in Madrid in March of this year.

During a recent hostage crisis, Bulgaria refused demands to pull its 480 troops out of Iraq, and Polish Deputy Defense Minister Janusz Zemke said Wednesday that withdrawing troops would be a "terrible mistake" that would only encourage terrorism.

Another militant group on Tuesday threatened Japan's 500 troops here. A Japanese Foreign Ministry official said Wednesday that Tokyo would not comply.

More than 60 foreigners have been taken hostage in recent months in Iraq, where thousands of foreigners toil as contract workers for coalition forces, in crucial reconstruction jobs or as truck drivers hauling cargo for private companies.
Hmm. 9-11 and 11-M had the same motivation? I guess Iraq wasn’t the reason for being targeted after all. Could the reason be that we aren’t and aren’t likely to be Wahabbi Islamist fanatics and they don’t like that?
The Poles, Bulgarians, and Japanese are standing firm. All these states can thank the Philippines and Spain for the encouragement.
On the bright side, Spain is stepping up in Afghanistan as part of a short NATO deployment to assist in protecting elections. Maybe Madrid is realizing that they didn’t take the target off their backs by surrendering meekly over Iraq. Still, the Islamists will likely make sure that Spanish troops and civilians are targeted since it worked so well in the past.
I don’t see how the kidnapping wave is bad for the war effort (as opposed to the very bad effect on the individuals kidnapped). The Islamists now have to care and feed captives for a while which probably increases their chances of getting caught. Plus, the effort will keep them from carrying out more promising attacks on American and Iraqi targets. While the publicity is surely what they crave in order to frighten the West and other states, the sheer number of crimes will take away the newsworthiness of the kidnappings. The latest celebrity trials will seem more newsworthy under the circumstances.
“So How Should We Proceed?” (Posted July 24, 2004)
The North Koreans have rejected our Libya model of complete and verifiable nuclear disarmament followed by diplomatic relations and economic help:
Calling the American proposal "nothing but a sham offer," the communist state reiterated that it would freeze its nuclear facilities as a first step toward their dismantling, but only if Washington provides energy aid, lifts economic sanctions and delists the North as a sponsor of terrorism.

"It is a daydream for the U.S. to contemplate forcing the (North) to lay down arms first under the situation where both are in a state of armistice and at war technically," said an unidentified spokesman of the North's Foreign Ministry.
They prefer the old “freeze” method that is followed by economic aid.
And why shouldn’t they? It has gotten them so much in the past and they are still in possession of a small number of nuclear devices or at least on the verge of building them. (Whether they have them in a deliverable device I do not know)
So far the administration has admirably refused to panic in the face of lack of progress. Many over here get twitchy without something to sign after a while—no matter what the details. The act of signing is strangely satisfying to them.
We must insist on verifiable nuclear disarmament and the dismantling of the entire North Korean nuclear program. Then some aid. Hopefully not enough to reverse their slide but enough to give them hope that they don’t need to risk it all on a military strike.
And squeeze them. Intercept their drug shipments. Discourage private investment and certainly don’t insure the risks of companies that decide to operate in North Korea. Insist on verifiable progress on human rights and disarmament for every shipment of old Commodores we send them.
And send aid that cannot be integrated with other elements of the aid. Make sure they are just pieces that won’t provide synergy joined together. The North Koreans are so primitive that any aid will look helpful.
Of course, prepare for war. Regime change in line with our official strategy should be the goal should war occur. Make sure that always-insufficient aid appears to the Pillsbury Nuke Boy to be a better route for survival than war. I think the signs are there that the regime is crumbling from within. We outlasted better thugs than them and we have an ally stronger militarily than the North unlike the situation in NATO where the threat of the Red Army reaching the Rhine was very real during much of the struggle.
As the North Korean spokesman helpfully noted, we are at war technically.
Nice of them to remind us.
"WMD Programs" (Posted July 22, 2004)
I've noted that I firmly believe that prior to the Iraq War, Saddam had chemical weapons and programs of unknown status to produce bio and nuclear weapons. He had the clear determination to have all these WMD and long-range delivery systems in order to advance his visions of power in the Gulf region and the Arab and Moslem worlds.
I've also asserted that I don't think that all the intelligence services of the world were wrong in their assessments and I don't think that all of Saddam's scientists lied to him about fake programs to keep money coming to them. We will find what happened to these weapons and programs. I worry that our troops might be hit with something dug up from the Sunni triangle.
The first reports on finding nuclear missiles in Iraq were too unbelievable as far as I was concerned (though it would have been heartening) and the later denial made much more sense.
When I read the first report, my thoughts went to how it would make sense if true. That is, if missiles with nuclear warheads were found, would this even make sense given the apparent lack of an ongoing nuclear program when we invaded Iraq?
Yes it would, and it would still explain some things even with the first report shown to be false. Recall that when we built the SR-71 Blackbird, we destroyed all the plans after we built them so that nobody could ever steal the secrets. If we had destroyed the planes soon after and somebody went looking for the plans to prove we once had them, no plans would be there to prove it. Without any plans, would the true conclusion be that we never had them? Of course not. Now, the analogy clearly can't be pushed too far but the point is that we destroyed our ability to build the planes after we built the planes. So does absence of program evidence mean that Saddam was a decade away or that he already succeeded? He did have chemical weapons. That is not in doubt. And we know that in 1990, Saddam was far closer to nukes than we suspected.
If Saddam succeeded in building certain WMDs in the 1990s or prior to the Iraq War in 2003, wouldn't it make sense to hide them (with a very tiny footprint to conceal), keep the innocent-looking technicians, scientists, and knowledge base intact for future use, and destroy the numerous physical traces of the programs in order to get sanctions lifted?  Once the international sanctions and scrutiny were removed from Iraq, Saddam could restart his WMD and missile programs that would produce WMDs in a few months (for chemicals), years (for the missiles) or a decade (for nukes and bugs). As a bonus, he'd be able to haul out the small numbers of weapons produced and hidden to brandish the instant deterrent and threat.
All I'm saying is don't be surprised if we do find something deadly buried in the Sunni triangle or smuggled to another country.
“Pants of Silence” (Posted July 21, 2004)
Sandy Berger apparently stuffed some confidential documents down his pants to get them out of the National Archives. The question is whether Berger is trying to hide embarrassing information. He says he took them inadvertently. I know, that seems ridiculous. But I think we’re possibly being too hasty here in condemning Mr. Berger.
Stay with me. Remember, Berger was the national security advisor to President Clinton. Surely he knows how to handle secret documents. As a senior member of CONTROL (Clinton Officials Now Telling Redacted Old Lies), he would know that when handling secrets, one uses the Cone of Silence. If that is broken, the Closet of Silence will do. Being away from headquarters, the Portable Cone of Silence is required. Or perhaps the Umbrella of Silence. But what if my knowledge of CONTROL procedures to thwart CHAOS is obsolete? Perhaps they have been updated for the fight against al Qaeda. I mean, the former administration says they were on top of the threat, right? With no actual evidence of action in the real world apparent, perhaps the activity took place in the intelligence front. I think it is possible that Berger was using the hitherto unknown Pants of Silence to secure secret documents. The Socks of Silence and the Jacket of Silence may also have been employed.
I’m just saying that we should check with the Chief before we assume Berger is hiding something and go off on yet another investigation or committee probe.
And if Berger is hiding something, I’m sure the Media of Silence will go into overdrive to ignore this.
"Limits of Better Plans for Post-War Iraq" (Posted July 20, 2004)
The fact that we have not been able to tamp down a low-level Baathist resistance yet is blamed on our failure to have a better plan to win the post-war.
American officials believe that millions of dollars Saddam Hussein skimmed from the scandal-plagued U.N. oil-for-food program are now being used to help fund the bloody rebel campaign against U.S. forces and the new Iraqi government, The Post has learned.
The vast sums of money that the Baathists have at their disposal is clearly a major factor in fueling the attacks on us. I under-estimated the financial resources the Baathists had to replace the major foreign support I knew they would never get.
Now we know one avenue that Saddam accumulated the wealth. Yet this problem was caused by the UN's corruption. One wonders what kind of plan could have stopped this outrage committed by the international community.
"Once a Marine, Always a Marine" (Posted July 20, 2004)
The Marine who was shown on television in the pre-murder pose we've seen a lot lately says he was kidnapped and held against his will:
Cpl. Wassef Ali Hassoun has been under a cloud of suspicion since failing to report for duty June 20. Videotaped images later surfaced showing him apparently kidnapped; he emerged unharmed in Lebanon on July 8 and was brought back to the United States last week.
Although there is some speculation that Corporal Hassoun deserted, that doesn't seem right. His demeanor suggests he is a Marine through and through:
I would like to tell all the Marines as well as all those others serving in Iraq to keep their heads up and spirits high. Once a Marine, always a Marine, Semper Fi," Hassoun said, invoking the Marine Corps motto, Latin for "always faithful."
If Hassoun was trying to defect and the sword play was staged, why release him? If he tried to defect in a moment of weakness and then changed his mind, again, why would the kidnappers release him?
So I doubt it was a straight Islamist kidnapping. It seems far more likely that Hassoun was held for ransom. He has a large clan in Lebanon and I bet the kidnappers showed Hassoun on TV as a threat and then arranged for a payment to get his release. After 30 years of civil strife in Lebanon, I bet the network for resolving kidnappings is fairly evolved. As a pure business transaction, the kidnappers might have just gone by the rules of the game and released Hassoun once the money was paid. The route that allowed money to flow to the kidnappers then was reversed to get Hassoun to Lebanon.
The fact that Hassoun voluntarily went to our embassy bolsters the held-against-his will theory.
If something fishy is going on, I bet it could be because Hassoun was lured off base without permission with an appeal to his religion. But I bet that it was an appeal to help fellow Moslems rather than an appeal to betray his country and his Corps. Having been tricked to leave, Hassoun most assuredly violated regulations and so could be punished for that.
Corporal Hassoun may also have something to say about the rat-line that stretches from Fallujah all the way to Lebanon through Syria.
Sheer speculation, I know, but the idea of a real kidnapping by Islamists or an attempt by this Marine to defect do not seem to fit with the events reported.
"The Big, Hot, Bright Thing" (Posted July 19, 2004)
I note this here in NSA only because it is an issue over which we uniquely are beaten about the head and shoulders for failing to do what the crisis-mongerers want us to do:
Global warming has finally been explained: the Earth is getting hotter because the Sun is burning more brightly than at any time during the past 1,000 years, according to new research.
After years of looking for reasons to blame people for the problem, somebody finally looked up from their weak correlation calculations and noticed the big, hot, bright thing up in the sky.
I suggest a giant hose stretched from Earth to the Sun so we can finally address the roots of this problem.
Oh, and I note it because it is very amusing and I get very annoyed by the global warmers who have elevated belief in every last detail of their global warming spiel into dogma that cannot be denied or debated.. Dang, I can't remember where I saw this. Many thanks.
"Who the Media Believed Really Lied" (Posted July 19, 2004)
So the President's sixteen words in the SOTU have been tarred as a lie for a year.
As Steyn concludes in his solid (and satisfying) article:
Any Democrats and media types who are in the early stages of yellowcake fever and can still think clearly enough not to want dirty nukes going off in Seattle or Houston -- or even Vancouver or Rotterdam or Amman -- need to consider seriously the wild ride Yellowcake Joe took them on. An ambassador, in Sir Henry Wootton's famous dictum, is a good man sent abroad to lie for his country. This ambassador came home to lie to his. And the Dems and the media helped him do it.
We've all experienced how the media helped over the last year. What is really amazing is that the media continues to help even as Wilson is thoroughly discredited and shown to be the real liar in this whole episode:
Check out the lead paragraph in this AP report:
It was one of the first signs that the intelligence used to go to war in Iraq was wrong: White House repudiation of 16 words in last year's State of the Union speech that had suggested Saddam Hussein tried to buy uranium in Africa. Yet even as two recent reports sharply criticized prewar intelligence, they also suggested President Bush's claim may not have been totally off-base.
"May not have been totally off-base." Pray tell, what part of the President's claim is even slightly off-base in the light of revelations? What part of Wilson's serial lying is even partly on-base? My Lord, is it not even possible for the press to report on events instead of defending their opinions to the hilt?
Safire nicely sums up the latest developments and the conclusion that one should draw regarding the administration's apology for including those 16 words in the SOTU:
That apology was a mistake; Bush had spoken the plain truth. Did Saddam seek uranium from Africa, evidence of his continuing illegal interest in a nuclear weapon? Here is Lord Butler's nonpartisan panel, which closely examined the basis of the British intelligence:

". . . we conclude that the statement in President Bush's State of the Union Address of 28 January 2003 that `The British Government has learned that Saddam Hussein recently sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa' was well-founded."
And as Steyn notes, Saddam wanted that Uranium because he wanted to use it to kill us.
Lies, indeed.
"The 'Plan'" (Posted July 19, 2004)
One of the popular complaints of both pro- and anti-war sides over the Iraq War is that post-war planning was poor (via Winds of Change). Is this an indictment or an admission of reality that we could not have done much about anyway? I mean, we couldn't even openly talk to humanitarian organizations before the war lest we be accused of pre-judging our plans for resolving the Iraq crisis and from fear by the humanitarian organizations of being accused of approving invasion by even talking to the US government.
And what if we did start extensive planning? We planned extensively for post-World War II because it took us nearly four years to win the war—not because we delayed fighting until we had the plans nicely indexed and bound. And anyway, the plans didn't help us much in practice since we dumped the plans in the face of post-war realities and instead improvised our way through years of ugliness before our conquered foes emerged as allies.
I think some of the elements of the charge that we failed to plan are just silly. I don't think anybody claimed the Baathists would welcome us. They weren't going to give up four centuries of neck stomping easily. Would more post-war planning have led to even the Sunnis welcoming us? The Shias and Kurds certainly felt liberated even without the chimera of the perfect plan tucked into Tommy Franks' hands in March 2003. We've suffered few casualties in the Shia and Kurdish areas so the argument must be that more planning would have reduced our casualties in the Sunni areas. This is possible—even likely—but by how much is an open question. I don't see an argument that a plan would have gotten the Sunnis to love liberation so their resistance would not have been eliminated with a plan. And what if the plan called for rounding up every senior Sunni male? Would the plan have been lauded? A plan for immediately fighting a counter-insurgency might have reduced our casualties. That I will not dispute.
And if we'd taken the time to develop the plan to perfection, and if we did in fact go to war with that plan maybe a year later despite the howls that we shouldn't invade in the primary campaign season, how would the war have gone? Might not Saddam have finally concluded that we would invade and then actually defended his country with some effectiveness? Would we have won with remarkably few friendly and civilian casualties? Would we have won that war or would the stretching of a more difficult war into months have given the French and Russians the time—bolstered by a global anti-war movement with yet another year to agitate and march—to end the war? Subtracting casualties in the post-war by insisting on the plan before going to war could have increased casualties in the major combat operations and could have even undermined chances for victory. And let me add this, if the plan called for several hundred thousand Americans to patrol Iraq, would we have simply succeeded in Americanizing the post-war and inspiring resistance instead of pushing Iraqis to the front to fight for their country? We are clearly assuming that a laboriously-written plan would actually have been correct.
Really, the demand for more post-war planning by the anti-war side always seemed part of the plan to delay the war until opposition could derail the war. It was never to make the post-war situation more successful. Just think back: The UN route. One more resolution. Time for more inspections. Persuade France to agree. Were these really good-intentioned cries to insure success? No. And "The Plan" was just one more idea to stop the war, keep Saddam in power, and humble America. Why the pro-war side would want to jump on this bandwagon is beyond me.
No plan survives contact with the enemy. And no plan, no matter how detailed, guarantees victory. We won the war and we are improvising to win the post-war. Criticize by all means but keep it in perspective.
“Game Plan” (Posted July 18, 2004)
It sounds like the Chavez opposition is taking the heart Grant’s idea that you don’t waste too much time worrying about what your opponent is doing to you, but instead spend your time thinking about what you can do to them:
The opposition's "Vote Yes!" campaign has hit the airwaves, billboards and talk shows. But this time around, campaign leaders are being careful about what they say about Chavez.

There's a list of Do's and Dont's when criticizing the president, Fernandez said — partly because many Venezuelans grew tired of vituperative rhetoric during a December 2002-February 2003 general strike that failed to oust Chavez.

Calling Chavez a "dictator" is a no-no because he has embraced the recall.

Accusing the former paratrooper of graft is frowned upon because past governments, led by current opposition leaders, were largely corrupt.

Criticizing Chavez's human rights record should be avoided because the opposition is trying to reach Venezuela's majority poor, whose rights were often ignored in the past.

"Messages emphasizing hope rather than hate are best," said Fernandez, an oil executive fired by Chavez during the strike. "We want to send positive, not negative, messages."
Not that I trust Chavez, but he does have support (as most dictators have), and he is working hard to win within the system, albeit by twisting the system to the breaking point.
If the opposition wins the recall vote, then we will see what Chavez does. I suspect he will not go. He will interpret the results or circumstances of the vote in a manner that he will use to justify staying in power. My only major question is whether former President Carter will validate Chavez’s shenanigans.
Of course, I don’t know what we can do about this situation. When we are trying to reform the psychoses of the Middle East, doing something forceful about a peripheral problem that might interrupt one of our major sources of oil and tie up military assets better used elsewhere is foolish. This is one of those things that we have to push diplomatically with the OAS and regional players. Unless Chavez turns Venezuela into a base for Islamists, this is not a military problem.
“Heavy Armor” (Posted July 18, 2004)
As readers may know, I am a fan of heavy armor. People have predicted heavy armor’s doom since at least the 1973 October War. These critics could be right now, but I need to be persuaded based on the continuing record of success. Yes, it is true we have not faced a really high quality enemy army with good anti-tank capability, so I could be persuaded that the absence of evidence does not mean that it is not a true assessment. Still, with the evidence showing armor is still crucial, the burden of proof for the end of heavy armor is on the proponents of light armor. I will say that the Strykers seem to have performed well in Iraq, although they were not rushed into the theater to fight as they drove off the plane ramps and they had additional armor added on to make them more survivable against RPGs. This is good. I do think that medium forces have a role in bridging the light infantry/heavy armor gap when deploying. They also have utility for peacekeeping, counter-insurgency, and company- or battalion-sized vertical envelopment. They will never be able to slug it out with enemy armor, in my opinion, although our air power will help even the scales a good deal.
But the Army has not succumbed to the siren song of lightness as it seemed to be doing until 2003. I wrote in 2002 about the need to get heavy armor to the fight more rapidly:
It may be unwise to rely solely on a light FCS if the Army needs a survivable system. If it can find a way around deploying from CONUS, future heavy systems would not need to conform to the tradeoffs necessary for the FCS to get to the theater quickly, and they might exhibit the same dominance as today’s MBTs. Pre-positioned future heavy systems, perhaps afloat, should not be overlooked. Where pre-positioning is impractical, sealift from CONUS must be faster. We may even need to explore deploying more forces overseas to get ground troops closer to potential trouble spots for the initial rapid response.
According to a July 2, 2004 news item from Jane’s that they emailed me:
The US Army plans to field three flotillas of ships before 2010, each with a brigade-sized combat force and the supplies to sustain it for an extended period, according to service logistics officials.
We have armor sets on land in places we expect to fight (or in the case of Europe, expected to fight at one time) and we are now making mobile sets so we can get heavy armor to unexpected fights. I once read we are taking some of the Europe-based sets and moving them so maybe these mobile sets are being assembled from the former NATO-oriented sites. I’ve also read ideas for faster sealift.
Heavy armor lives on. And we are preparing to make sure we will have it early in any war we might have to fight.
“How Do We Respond?” (Posted July 17, 2004)
It is approaching three years since al Qaeda struck us. Whether this is because of good counter-terror operations on our part; or because al Qaeda didn’t have a follow-up blow planned (assuming we’d collapse at one big blow) and started from scratch on a bigger plan, I don’t know. But the buzz is that we are in a time of major danger with our elections coming up. Al Qaeda wants to repeat their Madrid regime change success over here, apparently. So why would al Qaeda want Bush out of office if he has played into their hands by attacking them wherever we can find them? Isn’t one of the claims of the law enforcement approach side that by attacking the Taliban and Saddam we are creating the war of civilizations that Osama wanted all along? First of all, I don’t know if that is true. If this was the approach, why wouldn’t there have been follow-up attacks here to keep us off balance and to provoke ineffective spasm attacks? It is very possible that Osama thought 9-11 was the killing blow and no more were necessary. That is, he may have thought that strike would bring victory and not civilizational war. But if Osama really did want to provoke a war on terror, does this mean we are falling into their trap? I don’t think so.
I think the answer is fairly simple: Osama wasn’t that prescient. The Madrid 11-M attacks show that when it comes down to it, al Qaeda would rather discourage war against them than encourage them. If attacking al Qaeda and Iraq militarily has been a mistake, why try to defeat a pro-American government fighting with us in Iraq? Clearly, we’ve given al Qaeda more of a fight than Osama wanted. Osama may have wanted more ineffective spasms of military action to inspire Islamists, but the sustained counter-offensive that started in Afghanistan and smashed up his organization and eliminated allies was surely not what he anticipated. After all, Custer really wanted the elusive Sioux to finally stand and fight. He finally got what he thought he wanted at Little Big Horn.
So what do we do if we are struck this summer or fall? Some say (via Winds of Change) that retaliating won’t be too satisfying:
I imagine that after another attack people will still feel, on a gut level, like we ought to retaliate, but there really won't be anything to be done. Just as Australia and Indonesia didn't respond after Bali, and Spain didn't respond after the Madrid attacks, if someone blows up Grand Central Station there's not really going to be much of anything we can do in response. A lot of people, myself included, would find that pretty unsatisfying on an emotional level, but it's hard to see any reasonable policy options.
First of all, Australia did respond—by standing with us all through Iraq and in cooperating with us after the war even more closely in military manners. Spain, too, responded—by retreating. Ok, he’s got Indonesia on the no-overt-response category, but this is Indonesia we’re talking about—Islamic with little military capability. What more could they have done with their planes, soldiers, and frigates that we aren’t? But what is he talking about that there are no reasonable policy options? I’ll agree on one point: I won’t feel satisfied by failing to retaliate, either. But will retaliating bring me satisfaction? At first, when I saw our carrier surge underway, I thought that we should use an attack on us as an excuse to hit terrorist bases and cells worldwide. We’ve had three years of law enforcement and in some areas of the globe where law does not reach, Islamist terrorists are gathering to plot against us and our allies. I thought, we use the carriers to rapidly hit these guys globally. Use the lesson of Afghanistan where we responded quickly and saw ineffective domestic opposition and the contrast of Iraq where we took too long to fight and gave the other side time to mobilize protests that continue through today. Hit while the wreckage over here is still smoldering. But then I thought, that really is unsatisfying, too. Screw the protesters. Why insist on perhaps thousands of dead Americans before we hit again? Why pretend that this is tit for tat and proportional and all the other crap that tries to tie our power up in knots?
Actually, I’d prefer to preempt the enemy.
Our carriers in Summer Pulse ’04 won’t be on station all the way until the election and so can only be used to retaliate if the attacks take place relatively soon. [As an aside, they are in every theater and not massed near Taiwan as some rumor had it. I read the original press release when it came out and noted the exercise and so when the rumors of massing came up I doubted it—news last night confirmed no massing. Of course, the idea in war is to mass the carriers, so the lesson is the same…] Thinking about it, while the message and practice are both worthwhile, it seems a shame to waste that much carrier air power at sea. Why not attack globally against Islamist cells we know are all over the world? We are at war so I don’t think we need an excuse to “retaliate.” Just hit them. We’ve surely restocked our ammunition since the Iraq War. And a lot of our power is at sea right now [As another aside, I don’t think that the “Status of the Navy” shows that 95% of the surface fleet is at sea. That would be amazingly high. I think the “ships on deployment” (42% of the surface fleet) is a subset of “ships underway” (53%) and not two separate categories to be added together. In the Cold War, about half of our fleet was at sea at any time and that was high compared to other navies. A little over half seems in line with past practice] Use carrier air, sea-based missiles, land-based air, special operations guys, and CIA assets. Hit any safe houses or training camps or facilities or ships used by the Islamists. Strike from Southeast Asia to Iran to Lebanon to the Horn of Africa to West Africa to North Africa and to Columbia if we see Islamists hanging around. Hit them hard. Kill them. Before they strike us. We’ve had nearly three years for other states to use a law-enforcement approach to rounding up the Islamist terrorists. It may be time to give them a JDAM hand if they are unable or unwilling to eliminate them.
If we attack, the opposition will of course say Bush is attacking to distract the public and “wag the dog.” Yet if we don’t attack through the election, or if we are struck first by terrorists, the opposition will say we are too distracted to fight al Qaeda because of the Iraq campaign. Or that we failed to connect the dots. So politically it is probably pointless to cater to what the opposition thinks.
Did Lincoln hold off the 1864 summer offensives lest it be too political? Did Roosevelt cancel D-Day and the liberation of France in summer 1944 because a presidential election was coming in the fall? No. We were at war and so we waged war. Holding back now implicitly accepts the idea that we are not at war and that an interruption of our peacetime quiet is an attempt to influence the elections or domestic politics (full disclosure: I refuse to believe that Clinton attacked Sudan and Afghanistan to distract from the Lewinski affair and I don’t think Desert Fox was designed to distract from the impeachment trial).
I thought we should have hit in the Horn of Africa by now to show progress in the war. My basic reasoning still holds true as far as I’m concerned. I’m not as concerned about accusations of politicking as I was in the winter. We are at war and need to fight it without paying attention to the election cycle.
"The Moors Side with the Moores" (Posted July 15, 2004)
F-9/11 has some interesting fans.
"Containing the EU" (Posted July 15, 2004)
A unified Europe under the anti-American Eurocracy cannot be accepted let alone encouraged. We must not support European political unification and if we can't stop it, we should weaken it.
With Germany and India supporting one another for UN Security Council permanent seats (with the all-important veto as its perk), we should go one better.
[German foreign minister Fischer] said there was an "urgent need for an effective multilateral system and an efficient UN system that reflects the realities of the 21st century".
We should agree with this position. And since a European Union is a reality of the 21st century too, the EU should have a permanent UNSC seat and veto. India, too. And Japan while we are at it. Of course, we should not stand for an outrage similar to the Cold War outrage when Moscow had three General Assembly seats due to the fictitious independence of Belarus and Ukraine. So, of course, it would be ridiculous to have an EU with a permanent seat and then have Germany, France, and Britain with their own permanent seats. By this logic, California, New York, and Texas should have permanent seats, too.
So France will have to weigh the prestige of a permanent seat that gives them influence above their power; Germany will have to contemplate having newly recognized great power status submerged in the EU superstate before they can even touch it; and Britain will have one more reason to stay out of the EU. Russia, too, would think again about becoming just another state that might share the rotating delegate as the EU permanent seat with the likes of Belgium and Greece.
On another issue, I read that the Euro currency is taking a stab at displacing the US dollar as the currency of choice for the world. US $100 bills are widely used the world over for the underground economy as a trusted currency. The Europeans have introduced their 500 Euro note to challenge the $100 bill in this role. Worth 5 times as much as our $100 bill, the 500 Euro note is denser and thus more easily carried about. I say, inflation alone has made the fact that the $100 bill is the largest bill we've produced in fifty years kind of obsolete. Why not introduce a $500 bill? I dare say we wouldn't see it too much at home, but the people using the $100 bill would love the added convenience of the Euro note size that also keeps the stability of the dollar. Europe's efforts to be a financial rival would be undermined. And in a move to undercut some of the debate over here, we could put Ronald Reagan's portrait on the bill. It would be a fitting tribute to the man who brought freedom to hundreds of millions.
Two measures to contain the EU and bolster our diplomatic and financial positions in the world.
"Not Worse Off" (Posted July 15, 2004)
In the renewed debate over whether we are worse off now than before the War on Terror began, my November 2003 take on the issue.
"It Takes a Village" (Posted July 15, 2004)
Yes indeed, it (via NRO) takes a village to raise a terrorist. I think we found one of those elusive "root causes."
This stands without need of more commentary. I would hope, anyway.
"China Rising?" (Posted July 13, 2004)
The authors of this Times piece think China will rule the world:
China's influence is rapidly rising and America's is rapidly declining. While this realization may be unpleasant for Washington, the sooner administration officials accept this reality the faster they can deal with it. Unfortunately, they have virtually ignored East Asia, preoccupied as they are with Afghanistan and Iraq.

Trade numbers help explain the transformation in Asia. Within six years, China's economy will be double that of Germany's, now the world's third largest. By 2020, it is expected to surpass Japan as the world's second-largest economy. Japan already imports more from China than it does from the United States. And China has become the largest trading partner of South Korea, the world's 12th-largest economy. Clearly, the juggernaut has already begun.
Faced with a rising China that will reduce our influence, the writers decide that the best way to cope is to essentially undermine our alliances by bringing China and the rest of Northeast Asia—including North Korea perhaps!—into  a regional forum where we can all just get along:
Most important, if structured properly, [the forum] could allow the United States to reassert its leadership (provided it listens to other members), mitigating China's influence.
Ah yes, the constant problem with getting along is that we just don't listen to dictatorships like China and North Korea enough. But if we submerge ourselves in a forum of everybody we can be properly humble.
And what can we expect with this strategy? Well, a few more years of leveraging our diminishing influence before we are overwhelmed:
As a nation, the United States would be well positioned for several years to serve as a counterbalance to the historic rivalries among these Asian countries. But we should not take these tensions as a sign that these countries will never work together. While the outcome of a choice between joining with us or working together might not seem in jeopardy today, the future — as our failure to win their support for our policy on North Korea recently demonstrated — might well be very different.
Amazing. Where do they find these people? I know I expected the panicking to begin after North Korea continued to refuse to respond to anything but absolute appeasement, but this is ridiculous! These guys are panicking all the way up to China now!
I mean, China hasn't even emerged as a superpower yet and already some are pushing to preemptively surrender to their assumed power! You'd think they'd at least have the decency to wait until they are an imminent threat.
But seriously, assuming that China does reach the described apex of power, surpassing Germany and then Japan and finally challenging our economic and military power, why is telling our allies that we will no longer fight with them a way to maintain our power and influence in the Western Pacific and East Asia? I'd think that the nuance of retreat would not be lost on our friends. They'd soon distance themselves and we'd be out-voted every time in the new forum. I guess when we are on the short end of the stick, that listening skill will be all important.
If China reaches even parity with us, that doesn't mean we must surrender our influence or our allies. As I've noted before, I'd never trade our strategic positions. We have Canada and Mexico on our borders. The only close enemy is Cuba. And to our rear is our NATO alliance. What does China face? Oh, major land powers such as Russia, the Republic of Korea, Vietnam, and India on their borders. Japanese, South Korean, Russian, Taiwanese, Thai, and Indian air and naval forces box them in. And how many nukes will a more powerful China face if Peking gets pushy in the neighborhood? America stands behind all of them with a resolute Australia nearby and American forces in Central Asia, South Korea, Japan, and afloat in the Pacific.
And with this potential situation we're supposed to curl up in a fetal position and beg the Chinese to be nice to us? And assume our allies won't look at us in horror as we bow and scrape?
What's more, the scenario of inexorable Chinese advances in science, economic progress and military advancement is not a given.
China's economic and military advancement does not impress me. They are building low-tech TVs and toys, and buying some advanced weapons from Russia that at best give them a niche capability of swarming and conquering Taiwan. While China will grow in military capacity what backs it up? Their economy? I don't think so. Any nation of peasant farmers can generate impressive GDP growth rates simply by putting even the most productive subsistence farmers into even the most low-tech, polluting, finger-smashing sweat shop factory. This is how Soviet Russia got great stats year after year (when they weren't just lies, that is). Once you run out of those farmers and must improve productivity with existing workers and few new inputs, growth falls off tremendously as it did for Moscow. Our strength is that our mature economy continues to achieve remarkable productivity growth. Although most seem to assume a looming China behemoth, Jane's in their recent email, does not:
TOWARDS the end of last year Foreign Report suggested that, contrary to popular belief, the economic miracle in China was not all it had been cracked up to be. We said that unless the modernisers in the party triumphed over the hardline political dogmatists, the economy was heading towards an inexorable decline. Such a decline has not yet. happened. But it is close. China watchers are unconvinced by recent actions of the Beijing government, which has failed to convince that it is capable of keeping the economy on course.
So, a powerful China is hardly unstoppable. China may not even become powerful. Or even hold its current position. And who knows, China may not even be hostile if it becomes more powerful. And even if they become powerful yet remain a thuggish dictatorship, does that mean we cease opposing them? My, how high-minded.
All I'm saying is put away the white flags for now. I don't think we'll be needing them.
Blog Birthday” (Posted July 12, 2004)
The Dignified Rant turned 2 years old today. Bring on the terrible twos, I say.
I’m still in the mood to rant. It’s a freaking target-rich environment, after all.
“Reason to Kill Us” (Posted July 12, 2004)
The conventional wisdom—which the electorate of Spain endorsed in their March election—is that the Islamist terrorists targeted Madrid on 11-M because Spain had soldiers in Iraq fighting the Baathists at our side.
One Egyptian terrorist was recently arrested and wire taps indicated the following:
"The Madrid attack is my project," the Egyptian told the Palestinian, according to a transcript published last week in the Milan newspaper Corriere della Sera. "The project has cost me a lot of study, it took me 2 1/2 years."
Let’s see, 2-1/2 years would put the start of planning in September 2001. Well darn it all, I guess Spain didn’t earn the Islamists’ wrath over Iraq after all. Who’d have thunk it?
Not the Filipino government apparently, which announced a withdrawal from Iraq to placate the terrorists. This decision was made despite decades of Moslem unrest in the Philippines. Will the surrendering class never learn? And what country’s nationals will now face death because of this surrender?
“Hmm…A Dot Out of Place” (Posted July 11, 2004)
So we now know that Joe Wilson is full of it, and not only did Saddam try to get uranium from Africa, he tried to get it from Niger itself. Another so-called lie falls victim to the gathering truth that Saddam’s Iraq was a gathering threat.
So perhaps we should discuss why Saddam wanted uranium. I mean, we’re told that Saddam had no viable programs to build them. The threat was years and years away so we had time to deal with Saddam. Never mind the mass graves, defiance of the international community, and terrorism in this analysis of what is a threat or human rights violation. Let’s just look at this dot of uranium interest and see what it might connect to.
Why try to get the tell-tale uranium when he supposedly was a decade or more from building a bomb? Why not just get the more difficult to hide uranium in year nine?
Since we know that Saddam was once very close to getting a nuclear bomb until we nailed him in 1991, might the Iraqis have had some confidence that they could have beat that decade-away wild ass guess of ours? Might not the scientists, technicians, and dual-use equipment have been in such a state that Saddam thought he could ramp up quickly once the French and Russians pried the sanctions regime loose?
Because otherwise, how does acquiring uranium so early in the process do anything but risk detection should someone more familiar with nuclear weapons than sweet mint teas be sent to investigate?
Or were the Iraqis confident that they could hide it for as long as it took even if inspectors were driving around Iraq with Geiger counters? What would that explanation tell us about the ability of Saddam to hide his programs and equipment inside Iraq?
Saddam was either closer than we think to producing some nasty stuff or he knew he could hide stuff as long as he needed to, whether or not UN inspectors ineffectively traveled around.
The question isn’t whether Saddam had chemical weapons and programs to produce bio and nuclear weapons. The question is where are they now? That is what I’d like some Congressional committee to investigate.
“The Enemy” (Posted July 11, 2004)
This article notes that our military is estimating the Baathist fighters at a strength of 20,000 full- and part-timers:
The Iraq insurgency is far larger than the 5,000 guerrillas previously thought to be at its core, U.S. military officials say, and it's being led by well-armed Iraqi Sunnis angry at being pushed from power alongside Saddam Hussein.
Although it was noted in the article by one analyst that the previous guess of 5,000 was a “wag” (wild ass guess), he says the estimate shows the past estimate to be ridiculous. This harsh assessment is given despite more in the article that says:
U.S. military analysts disagree over the size of the insurgency, with estimates running as high as 20,000 fighters when part-timers are added.
That is, the higher figure is also a wag. We don’t know. Just how many people are expected to carry out X attacks per day? I don’t know. Apparently our military does not, either.
The article also notes that few Islamists are in this total and that Baathists are the main force in the opposition.
Well, yeah. Nice to know my impression is right.
While I’m sure this is going to be spun as a refutation that we are winning since the insurgency has “grown;” and that Islamists are virtually irrelevant, showing the idea that we are fighting terrorism in Iraq to be wrong, both assessments are ridiculous themselves.
The number is just not important. I’ve never focused on it. I’ve noticed in the past that the estimate of 5,000 stayed the same even after any given month that we killed a thousand or so. This is also why body counts are irrelevant to measuring success, as I’ve long argued.
Really, we have the density of troops to win assuming the enemy can’t mass into fairly large-sized forces to carry out sustained attacks on isolated posts; and by the 10:1 rule we could successfully fight 40,000 pure insurgents. As I’ve said in the past, tell me when the Iraqis are massing in platoon and company strength and mounting attacks. Then I’ll worry that the resistance is progressing. A couple times in the past I’ve noted this budding ability and worried about it, only to see it collapse into minor attack patterns again. The big pushes in the Fallujah and Sadr revolts led the enemy to mass and we smashed them up pretty good. Since then, we’ve stopped doing the body count thing, for which I am glad. Perhaps it was felt that while we were getting hit hard, we had to reassure the public that we were giving far better than we were taking. I don’t know. But the bottom line is our casualties and not their casualties are what count. This is because losses can be replaced if the political and economic measures don’t improve to dry the recruiting pool. Just like weakening our home front is the only way to get us out despite nearly 1-1/2 deaths per day on our side, weakening their morale is key. With sufficient motivation, we can both replace losses indefinitely.
Getting the Iraqis (the Shias, Kurds, and even some Sunnis) into the fight fully against the Baathists and Islamists is the key, not some wag about the number of fighters we are currently up against. Use the attacks per day and our casualties to judge progress. As self rule, economic rebuilding, and democracy progress, we will see these numbers drop.
As for the Islamists, as I’ve repeated over and over, the Baathists were always my main worry and not the foreign jihadis. The latter are more easily identified and killed. They tend to alienate all Iraqis against the combined Baathist/Islamist resistance anyway. They appear more significant because of the high profile suicide attacks they pull off.
Of course, downplaying the Islamic nature of the resistance undercuts one of the complaints of the anti-war side that we are creating Islamist enemies. So take the good with the bad, I guess.
“The ‘International Community’ At Work” (Posted July 10, 2004)
The UN Security Council is divided on Darfur.
Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not one who believes we have a particular responsibility to intervene to halt human rights violations just because nobody else will. We must look to our own security first and anything else truly is a war or intervention of choice. That said, shouldn’t the international community as its supporters idealize it be in the vanguard of those calling for the ending of outrages such as Darfur? I mean, is debating whether this crime reaches the level of genocide rather than how to stop the crime a little ridiculous?
Will the international community act? Who knows? Depends on how many oil contracts France has signed with the Sudanese government I suppose. And whether Islamic nations decide that killing black Sudanese is really that terrible when truly horrible things like defensive barriers to stop suicide attacks on civilians are waiting for their action.
But we could once again act to enforce the standards that the UN purports to stand for:
But as public opinion mounts at the crisis in Darfur, some diplomats believe the United States should just call a vote next week and dare nations to block the resolution.
My earlier post on the Darfur issue still stands.
I think that a battalion-sized force sent in for a time will not strain our ground forces. It didn’t in Liberia and it didn’t in Haiti. And our Navy and Air Force should be able to handle the strain too, assuming we get civilian air transports on a contract basis for much of the supplies. Our fighter squadrons are not now strained, our air transport units are quite busy still.
“Men of Whose Cloth?” (Posted July 10, 2004)
Ah, the joys of rendering unto Castro what which is Castro’s:
Members of an American humanitarian aid group arrived in Cuba Saturday in defiance of U.S. law and wearing T-shirts calling for "regime change" in the United States. …

The volunteers, who ranged in age from 10 to 91, came in from the United States and six other countries. They wore T-shirts reading "Regime Change in the US — Not in Cuba."
“Pastors for Peace,” indeed. The failure of people who purport to guide people in good versus evil in their private lives see evil in America and good in Cuba. Reverends for Repression is more like it.
“What Really Worries Me” (Posted July 10, 2004)
The North Koreans have deployed new missiles that can reach out into the Pacific and reach Guam, a major US base that would be important in fighting North Korea should it come to war:
North Korea has begun making and deploying new intermediate-range ballistic missiles that could reach U.S. military targets in Okinawa, Japan and the Pacific U.S. territory of Guam, South Korea's Defense Ministry said Thursday.
The missiles themselves and their ability to target US bases around the Korean peninsula are not my major worry.
What I really worry about is what the North Koreans have learned from recent American wars. Kosovo reinforced their burrowing tendencies. We are working on this and the North Koreans have to worry that precision and our technology will give us weapons that can reach into their subterranean bunkers. The lessons of Desert Storm taught the lesson of our land and air offensive power. The Iraq War reinforced the lessons of Kosovo and Desert Storm and added the terrifying speed of execution with relatively few troops that we are capable of producing. What might the North Koreans learn from this recent history?
They might have learned that the only way to defeat us is to hit us hard with everything they’ve got from H-Hour on. Their army is already forward deployed near the DMZ in an offensive posture. So we know that they would attack if they can. But with missiles capable of reaching Guam, the North Koreans may figure they need to disrupt our rear areas to trip up our precise firepower. And since they know we have anti-missiles, the North Koreans may well assume that they need to use chemical weapons immediately both on the ROK military but on US rear area bases such as Guam.  Since they don’t know how many warheads will hit, they’ll want them to have more bang for the buck. I hesitate to say they’d use nukes since we’d destroy North Korea’s state apparatus with nukes of our own. North Korean nukes may be the ultimate time-out card if the offensive stalls short of victory and the North Koreans need to sue for peace (and try invading again in another 20 or 30 years).
I don’t know how we’d deal with that kind of threat. Would South Korea want to risk a nuclear strike after surviving a conventional invasion (with chemicals)? In theory, once the balloon goes up, I’d want to destroy the North Korean regime by the end of the war. Playing for a tie yet again (after 1953) should be ruled out. Who knows what they’d develop in another 20 years?
The point is, the theater of war won’t just be the Korean peninsula and the waters just around it. A narrow theater plays to our advantage as we project massive firepower into the theater from areas outside it. Guam’s air base will hold B-2s and other long-range assets that will devastate North Korean military units. The North Koreans will try to take the war to us.
“The Debate That Never Ends” (Posted July 10, 2004)
Ok, I’m better now. The treatment of one of our veterans at the hands of anti-war scum (and I’m talking specifically to that parade and not generally) is still horrible and I still worry that much like other fringe anti-war ideas, this trend will go mainstream. But I am not in a funk over it. Just mad. If those esteemed ladies and gentlemen still want to debate the justice and need to overthrow Saddam, I say bring it on. They are perfectly welcome to argue that Saddam should still be in power.
As American forces mass in the Gulf region and Saddam Hussein continues to defy nearly a score of resolutions demanding he come clean on his WMD programs and as he continues to add to mass graves, the American Congress continues its debate on whether to invade:
Following release of the 511-page review Friday, the panel's top Democrat, West Virginia Sen. Jay Rockefeller, said three-quarters of senators would not have voted to authorize the invasion if they had known how weak the intelligence was.
Oh wait. You say we eviscerated the Iraqi military? Saddam has been charged with a host of crimes and will stand trial? The Iraqis are retaking their place in the world as a free state? We are preparing for elections there?
Well I’ll be darned. Yet we continue to debate the decision to go to war. Huh. Very odd.
Except it’s not odd at all. I stopped debating Liberia when we went in. I stopped debating Haiti when we went in. I stopped debating Kosovo when we went in. And of course, the debate over our mistakes in Iraq adds fuel to the fire (and so how many mistakes did the other side say we made in the Cold War? And we won that decisively?).
For some, debating means arguing until they win. They never give up.
I stand by my reasons for invading Iraq that I set forth here and here.
I remain satisfied that we ended Saddam’s threat to his neighbors and to us. I remain satisfied that we ended his terrorism sponsorship. I remain satisfied that we ended his drive to get WMD—including nuclear weapons. I remain satisfied that his reign of terror has been ended.
And I remain convinced that establishing a democratic Iraq will aid us tremendously in creating a Middle East that is not an incubator for crazies who want to kill us.
Could we please argue about what to do about Iran and North Korea? You know, the other two legs of the Axis of Evil still out there threatening us? Could we debate how to make intelligence better so that we might have a better idea of when a threat is “imminent” as the anti-war side insists is the standard for action? There is plenty to debate, after all. Why continue the Iraq War debate to this ridiculous extreme? Although perhaps we could debate the Joe Wilson ‘Bush lied about Niger Uranium’ charge just a little more (via NRO). Or if we want to debate intel issues a little more deeply, why did the CIA send such an inept hack on such an important mission?
Oh, and one last thing on the WMD issue:
In the unanimously approved report, senators concluded that the CIA kept key information from its own and other agencies' analysts; engaged in "group think" by failing to challenge the assumption that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction; and allowed President Bush and Secretary of State Colin Powell to make false statements.
Is it just me or is it amusing that a report accusing the intelligence services of “group think” was passed unanimously? I do not believe that every intelligence service in the world was wrong on this issue. Oh, sure, details will be shown wrong but the big picture was not in error. I do not believe that all of Saddam’s scientists played the game of “lie to get funding from the senile dictator” while his bloodthirsty lads roamed Iraq looking for excuses to feed people into plastic shredders. I strongly believe that our prolonged year-long “rush to war” gave Saddam time to hide, destroy, or ship overseas his key WMDs and programs. We know he had chemical weapons and missiles. We know he wanted bio and nuclear weapons. We will find the chemicals and the programs for the rest. I think what we’ve found is damning enough, but there will be more discovered unless we call off the whole war on terror and go back to September 10th.
“Worthless Pieces of Human Garbage” (Posted July 9, 2004)
From Instapundit, a link to this article that starts:
Think about the Seattle area -- Bainbridge Island to be exact -- and you think scenic views and liberal-minded tolerance.
Why yes, I do think of liberal-minded tolerance. And from long years of experience, that expression doesn’t mean what the liberal minded think it means. They are tolerant of a wide range of political expression ranging from Ted Kennedy on the right to Karl Marx and Fidel Castro on the left. And they’ll even forgive somebody outside that range if they are properly anti-American. Their minds are so closed and they actually believe they are open minded.
One American veteran, Jason Gilson, of the Iraqi War was in the Fourth of July parade there and he was greeted with jeers and calls of “baby killer” and “murderer” from the liberal-minded crowd.
Those F-ing bastards!
Oh yeah, they oppose the war but support the troops. Oh yeah, they love our country and soldiers and just want the best for them.
No. They hate our soldiers. They want more to die in penance for daring to liberate 50 million people in two countries in the last 2-1/2 years. They want the enlisted troops to frag their officers. They want them to refuse orders and desert. Any soldier who won’t fight is a hero and every one of our enemies is a freedom fighter who deserves an attorney and all the protections they’d deny our soldiers. They want our troops subject to the ICC. F-ing bastards!
I’ve seen this attitude and have been waiting for it to gain currency in this war. I wear my ID card on an Army-emblazoned necklace and I was amazed when one co-worker remarked to me that the non-standard necklace was a “political statement.” If you think so, I replied, and ignored the remark. But that amazed me. After all the loud protests that they love our troops too, you’d think a simple “Army” printed on the band would be a neutral statement. ‘Cause, you know, both sides support the troops, right?
But what do we expect with the likes of Michael Moore gaining hero status in the anti-war movement. Is it 1968 all over again? No. In Vietnam, defeat meant we went home and left our allies to the tender mercies of the Hanoi conquerors while we went home to get on with our lives. Now, if we come home our enemies will follow us here as they already did on 9-11 and keep killing us until they are finally sated with our blood. And they will never be satisfied. Enough of us will never die to make them leave us alone. Is it 1968? No. It’s 1936 France. When “Better Hitler than Blum” motivated the right wing in France who hated the French Socialist Blum more than they feared the Nazi Hitler. Divisions in France contributed to their weakness in standing up to the Nazis while they still had the strength to do so. Defeat was the result. The hatred on the anti-war left is that bad today. And they would lose rather than see this administration continue for four more years. And they’d yell cruel insults at our soldiers.
It can’t come to this. It can’t. And if the people in leadership positions who look to these thugs to support them in elections won’t shame them into civility, our war against our overseas enemy will turn into a war here, too.
But don’t call them unpatriotic. Oh no. That is wrong. They may defend your right to burn the flag to their dying days but don’t dare call them unpatriotic. Fine. I won’t.
They are just fucking bastards.
I usually don’t use vulgarity on this blog. But it should not be reserved for use only against Senators. The worthless pieces of living garbage that would taunt our soldiers with these insults when they have risked their lives to protect us and to free strangers from tyranny are shameful.
No, on second thought, it isn’t just shameful. It’s liberal-minded. But hey, at least they still have their scenic views.
"First Line of Defense" (Posted July 8, 2004)
Hugo Chavez, Number Two in the Axis of El Vil, clearly has no intention of going quietly as he prepares for the monitored recall vote in August. I've already written that he will likely try to hinder the election and the subsequent counting to engineer a delay that a compliant court will say puts the election past the point where a recall triggers a new presidential election. Once past the August date, the vice president assumes the presidency instead and Chavez governs in all but name. Or if all else fails, he simply says this is an American plot and digs in his paramilitaries and loyal military units around the presidential palace and dares anyone to get rid of him.
But of course, Chavez would prefer not to go that route. Even Carter might tut tut at that bit of blatant power grab. And Chavez, budding Castro that he is, does have support amongst the poor. So actually winning the vote would be a lot more convenient for Chavez. That doesn't mean Chavez will go by the book:
Outraging Venezuela's opposition, President Hugo Chavez has conscripted the military and the broadcast media in his bid to defeat an August recall referendum.
He is violating agreements to play fair:
But opposition leaders charge that Chavez violated an agreement in which the government and private media pledged to give equal time to both sides in the campaign before the Aug. 15 referendum.
And of course, getting friendly voters on to the electoral rolls is a must for any self-respecting thug dictator:
Venezuela has granted citizenship to 216,000 immigrants since May under a fast-track nationalization plan, President Hugo Chavez announced Tuesday.
More are on the way, of course.
This doesn't erase the anti-Chavez votes that will be cast, but it does increase the chance that Chavez will get one final card to play if his other stratagems fail and he needs to dig in those supporters around the palace:
Re-elected in 2000 to a six-year term, Chavez can be recalled if the opposition gets more votes than the 3.7 million votes he won in 2000. Elections would be held within 30 days to serve out his term, which ends in January 2007.

It isn't clear what would happen if the opposition surpasses 3.7 million votes — and Chavez surpasses the opposition vote. Courts have yet to address all possibilities in a presidential recall, which was included in a new Constitution instituted at Chavez's urging after his first election in 1998.
I think it is pretty darned clear what would happen. Chavez would claim a mandate and the constitutional provisions be damned. Wonder how Carter will react to this?
Chavez will not go without a toe tag.
“Stick” (Posted July 7, 2004)
The amnesty is one part of suppressing the insurgency. It will aim for the less dedicated. As I suspected, it is not intended for the most hard core.
The new emergency law will be used to go after the hard Baathists and the Islamists.
I suggest Fallujah would be a good target. Seal it off. Ration food. Go house to house and check identifications. If anybody has suspicious powder burns or even looks funny at the Iraqi National Guard and police, take them in for questioning. Seize weapons. Sift the city for the undesirables and make it stick.
And US forces will remain nearby—and overhead—just in case.
The Iraqis seem to have the will to beat the insurgents. I wonder if this can get better faster than we believe?
“Stressing the Guard” (Posted July 7, 2004)
Some say the war in Iraq is stressing the Army National Guard to the breaking point. Some of the people making this charge are upset that any reservists are being called up. These people are unclear on the concept of reserves. But for those who accept that reserves should indeed be mobilized in an emergency or time of war, are they right that the war is straining the Guard?
I think there are three Guard brigades in Iraq. A couple more support operations in the Balkans. I think we have the Sinai battalion as a Guard responsibility. We also have separate battalions for base security and other functions but I don’t know how many. But some activated for base duty are from combat support units and not the combat brigades. Still, say 8 brigades as a guess.
The Guard has 8 divisions with 24 brigades, 3 separate brigades, and 15 enhanced separate brigades. The enhanced units are the ones that get extra training and money to be available faster. We used 15 battalions during the Iraq War in various duties. (This is all on memory, too) So the total is 42 combat brigades plus combat support units like artillery, air defense, signal, etc.
Can we really say that 8 out of 42 brigades—less than 20% of the total—is straining the reserves to the breaking point? We could mobilize units for 5 years at this rate without recalling the same unit twice.
If this level of commitment is stressing the Guard, we need to seriously reorganize the Army National Guard. Given that the premise of the “big one” in which we mobilize every trooper we can find is gone (and has been gone since 1991) it is time we look at our reserve/active balance thoroughly anyway. War makes it even more important.
"Mistakes" (Posted July 7, 2004)
Yes, we've made mistakes in Iraq. Some of the alleged mistakes are not mistakes at all (e.g. disbanding the nonexistent Iraqi army). Others are only mistakes in hindsight. Let's look at some of the mistakes and their cures and speculate on what might have resulted had we acted differently
We're taking too long to turn Iraq over to Iraqis.
I remember when the French and others were concerned that our initial plan called for drafting a constitution and then by the end of the second year of occupation we'd hold elections. This was too long, critics said. We of course see the result of accelerating the timetable and re-ordering the sequence. Now there are complaints that we are turning things over to the Iraqis before they are ready.
We disbanded the Iraqi army.
Let's just assume that either we were able to retain the Iraqi army or quickly recall it to bases not stripped  clean. Our forces and this army would have faced the Baathists from the Special Republican Guards, the Republican Guards, the various intelligence services, and of course the Islamists both amateur and professional. So first of all, keeping these guys employed would not have eliminated the pool of potential resistance. Remember, the army had largely Shia lower ranks so they presumably weren't going to join the Baathists anyway. But we'd be keeping Sunni officers.
And how would this have been received? Well the cry of betrayal is not too tough to anticipate. The charge would be that we spoke of democracy yet kept the same killers in charge. How could the Shias trust us if they see the same faces—with US-provided guns now—lording in over them? It was just about oil they'd say and not about freedom from tyranny. And when the Sunnis counter-attacked in Fallujah and formed units of the old army defected and fought us, the cries of what kind of idiot would keep the soldiers of the former regime in power would blast the administration daily as Marines and soldiers fought a more serious revolt.
De-Baathification cripples rebuilding.
Let's also assume that we were able to keep the government buildings intact so that the existing "technocrats" could all keep their jobs. Oh sure, Shias and Kurds were excluded over the decades and most weren't even allowed to get the schooling to apply, but no matter. And forget that many with Baathist credentials have blood on their hands. Stability would have been enhanced if we had kept them.
And how would the anti-war side have reacted? Again, the cries of betrayal of the Shias and Kurds who must weave their way through government bureaucracies staffed with their long-time oppressors would be raised. Just add all the complaints about the army but add that our reconstruction would now be pouring money into the Baathists! Why did we fight this war?
We should have shot looters.
Of course, looting of government buildings, hospitals, and museums was a setback. Letting it go on arguably taught the defeated that we were too soft to rule them as occupiers. A couple days of shooting and killing a score or so as a lesson would have prevented chaos and destruction.
So what if we'd killed a score or so and the situation remained calm? I'll tell you what would happen. The Army divisional commander would be testifying before a Congressional committee and the military would be under fire for not court martialing the offending officers and men. How could we shoot desperate poor people? Wasn't the rapid collapse of the regime forces a clear sign that we won and that the people just want to get on with their lives and not resist us? Good grief, they'd say, is it any wonder we need to ratify the International Criminal Court? I'm sure the Belgians would have prepared charges against our troops forthwith.
We failed to impose martial law in Sunni triangle.
Like the shooting of looters issue, our failure to move into the Sunni areas bypassed in the war after Baghdad fell and lay down the law is seen as a signal that we were too weak to clamp down. We should have rolled into the Sunni triangle in strength, and crushed the Baathists and their Sunni supporters to preempt resistance.
If we had done this after the Baathists collapsed so quickly in the major combat operations, would the opposition really have understood that we were preempting resistance? Would they have accepted anything with that argument? If Sunnis were dying and being rounded up before they resisted, Tommy Franks would have been accused of all sorts of crimes. I recall stories speaking with sympathy about how the poor Sunnis were no longer the top dogs and they didn't know what the future would hold. I happen to agree that this was a mistake but let's not pretend that the alternative would have been greeted by the anti-war side with anything but hostility. How would we prove that the Sunnis would resist? Point out that they ruled for 400 years? Please.
We should have patrolled in light vehicles with soft caps to project strength.
Some argue that the Army should have emulated the British and Marines who patrolled their Shia areas at ease. Had the Army done this can we guess the reaction? You failed to protect our soldiers? How could you patrol in Sunni areas without body armor and armored vehicles? We need a commission!
There are still power blackouts in Baghdad. Can't we at least provide electricity?
We actually have surpassed pre-war production but since the reporters are in Baghdad and they never saw blackouts under Saddam, they seem to assume we aren’t doing as well. Their minds don’t grasp that we are fairer now and that other parts of the country get to share the electricity produced. So would the reporters have been happy if we’d kept the Baghdad-first policy? Might they have not mentioned the poor Shias of Basra forced to go without power 20 hours per day?
We still haven't spent much of the money Congress appropriated for reconstruction.
Yes, the money is slow. But we spent captured money and we had access to other funds plus oil revenue as we got the new money into the pipeline. And if we’d spent the money already, would people have been happy? Why then we’d have investigations into why proper bidding wasn’t done and why wasn’t the money allocated according to a plan to spend it most effectively. Why was there waste?! And God help us all if Brown and Root made more than a 3 percent profit.
We invaded with too few troops.
All our problems come from too few troops in the invasion force. But as I’ve noted ad nauseum we did invade with the line elements of 7 US and British division equivalents. This is exactly what our plans for a major theater war have called for since the Persian Gulf War. What we did not have were the massive amounts of support troops used in 1991 and we did not need them.
If we’d taken the time to mass the unneeded troops, might the attack have started months later? Would Saddam have finally admitted we were going to invade and seriously prepared? Would we have had the troops to rotate into Iraq to replace the invasion troops? How many Guard combat brigades would we have mobilized by now? Would the North Koreans have acted while we struggled?
The follow-up is that we have too few troops to occupy Iraq. Again, hogwash. I’ve done amateur calculations and I think we are fine. And since I am in the company of V. D. Hanson in thinking that using the troops well is more important than adding more, I’m happy enough with my judgment.
We brought in too few allied troops for the occupation.
Like we could have gotten more, first of all. But if we had, they would have been worthless in a fight. Except for the British, our allies seem to have very restrictive rules to keep their troops out of combat. Why after all did we have to retain 1st Armor Division and 2nd Cavalry Regiment (Light) to fight Sadr’s nutballs when the revolt was in the Polish-Ukrainian division’s sector? Because they wouldn’t fight, that’s why. It does us no good to have too many troops that we have to shadow in case trouble erupts. All those allied troops in 1991 except for the British and French were mostly worthless and had no impact on the war. God help us if one of our units got in trouble and we had to hope for allied help to rescue our troops. Anybody remember Mogadishu and the non-US troops that stood by for hours while our guys got shot up escaping?
Failing to seal the borders with Syria and Iran allowed foreigners to infiltrate.
Yes, we’d have been better off if the borders had been sealed. But this could have been done by instilling some fear in Damascus and Tehran but we all know that wasn’t going to happen. And if we’d rushed troops to the borders? Why the cries that we were threatening neutrals and preparing to roll through innocent Moslem countries in some type of plan to create an American empire would have been eagerly spread in our media and possibly the subject of a stupid movie or two.
Failing to account for and secure all the arms depots in Iraq has fueled the insurgents.
Indeed, one author I read strongly implied that our rapid advance was the cause of this problem. The implication was that we should have taken the time to secure the depots before we continued the advance.
But if we had slowly advanced destroying depots as we went how long would the war have lasted? How many more would have died. Would the French and Russians have finally gotten us to halt the war with Saddam in power? And given the large numbers of arms depots, even destroying or securing 90% probably would not have been enough.
The Congressional inquiries into the failure to crush the demoralized and ill-equipped Iraqi military in two weeks would have been lengthy and vicious.
So, mistakes were made. War is uncertain and we can’t pretend different decisions would have been right 100%.
But don't expect all those critics piously claiming that they just want the administration to admit mistakes so we can correct them to admit to these uncertainties. They opposed the war and still do notwithstanding their claims to the contrary. They only want to hammer the administration over the mistakes of the war. And they'd hammer the administration whatever was decided. Yes, we made mistakes. So has our enemy. Yet we won the war. And we are winning the stabilization phase, too.
We'll make a lot more mistakes as we push forward to victory. I guarantee it.
“Amnesty?” (Posted July 5, 2004)
Amnesty for Iraqis who have fought us is under consideration by the Iraqi government.
At first blush this sticks in the craw. It seems outrageous. Indeed, one commentator I saw said we should immediately withdraw our troops from Iraq if the Iraqi government does this.
We don’t need to grant amnesties since I think that as Iraqi forces get stronger we will be able to pull back and have the Iraqis shoulder the burden of suppressing the Sunni/Islamist terror campaign. But the Iraqis probably would like to end the decades of killing at last. In some forms, this could be ok.
Consider that many critics of the war complain that we disbanded the Iraqi army (again, this is false—disbanding the disintegrated army was a mere formality) when we should have used it and also complain about de-Baathification since it deprives Iraq of technocrats to help rebuild (no, it gets rid of criminals if done at the right level, but my point is it is a claimed “mistake”). If dealing with our enemies is out, why did so many who oppose the entire war latch on to these complaints? Why were they eager to have people who killed us and Iraqis put into the military and government to work by our side?
Remember our objective. It is to turn over an Iraq in good enough shape to pursue economic rebuilding, suppress the insurgents, and build democracy. It is not to kill or jail every Iraqi who has ever taken up arms against us.
Would we be willing to lose another 100 or 500 soldiers and Marines to keep killing those who have killed us in the past? Remember that combating insurgencies ultimately depends on political measures to turn off the flow of replacements. Killing insurgents in the field is necessary in the short run but few enemies are required to keep an insurgency going. And when they lose too much they can pull back into their homes and we are hard pressed to identify them and arrest or kill them. They can regroup and come back when ready. Killing for vengeance over what we’ve lost thus far will just lead to more of our deaths.
Remember the objective!
As long as this isn’t some faux deal like Fallujah, an amnesty deal that gets enemy fighters to go home, cooperate with the new government, and get on with their lives is acceptable.
And this still leaves the foreign jihadis for us to hunt down and kill. They won’t accept.
And I imagine the hard core Baathists resisters won’t accept either. Nor will the idiot Sadr. The target audience is the larger less-motivated group that takes money to attack us and which may not have done too much harm anyway.
Nor does it mean we have to deal with any bad guys in an official capacity. Amnesty does not have to mean high rank in a new Iraq—and it shouldn’t. And we might be able to take care of the problem more quietly after Iraq has settled down. I’m sure that policy on not assassinating our enemies has been thoroughly rewritten by now. And if they ever travel overseas we could nab them and try them under our laws.
This amnesty sounds bad. It feels bad. But it is not bad if done right. Remember our objective.
“Unclear” (Posted July 5, 2004)
This from the British Foreign Secretary:
Foreign Secretary Jack Straw said he was unsure whether to believe Iran's insistence that is has no intention of trying to build nuclear weapons.
In related matters, Straw reported that he is also “unsure” about whether the Pope is indeed Catholic. He opined that he is “unclear” about whether he may already be a winner in the Publisher’s House sweepstakes. Further, he “does not know” if it is safe to drink milk one day past its expiry date.
With US-prodded pressure on the nuclear issue and Iraq’s pressure on Iran’s support for terror inside Iraq, we could very well be moving toward a crisis with Tehran. With outside pressure, domestic resistance to the mullahs may finally be emboldened to take action. I concede that all this remains unclear.
“Fighting the Enemy” (Posted July 5, 2004)
I wrote in my First Gulf War (1980-1988) summary (I have a torn-apart manuscript on the war that I doubt I’ll have time to put together in the near future. I almost sold it in an earlier version. I tried to sell this summary with footnotes but failed—eventually I did get an account of the initial invasion sold in “The First Gulf War and the Army’s Future” in 1997) back in the mid-1990s:
Finally, the war is a sobering reminder that wars do not usually go according to plan. Whether one looks at Iraq's assumptions about a quick war in 1980 or Iran's belief from 1982 onward that Iraq would crumble if pushed hard enough, it is easy to see that war has a life of its own and can spiral out of our comprehension when we decide that war will advance our interests. Our precise assumptions about the minimum force we will need to win in the future must be questioned since the type of enemy we may face cannot be chosen ahead of time. Even if we know what our enemy will look like on day one of a war, we could be wrong. Or it could change as months or years pass. While not an argument for a 1945-size American Army capable of beating anybody (and simultaneously crushing our economy) the First Gulf War should warn us against assuming victory is ours for the asking. Decreases in the size, training, modernization, and morale of our military, especially the Army, matter a great deal even in a time of peace.
The Iraq War has only reinforced this belief. This basic mindset is why I have not panicked in the face of a Sunni and foreign jihadi-supported resistance over a year after Baghdad fell. Enemies adapt. And despite the resistance, we fight well against our adapting enemy and are winning with what are remarkably low casualties for what we have accomplished. In addition, I believe that the Iraq War was in our interest, so a setback in rapidly bringing the post-war stabilization mission to a close does not discourage me. The casualties are dispiriting since I hate to see the casualty reports every day or so, but this does not erase what we have done.
Certainly, as I’ve called for in the past, we need a larger Army. Uncertainty over the future and the need to have a margin of error is something I’ve been focused on and why I’ve been worried that Rumsfeld wanted to kill two Army divisions (I haven’t seen this brought up in the last year, so this may have died) I’d settle for 40,000 more troops as a start to see what that does for us. We can’t force too many troops through our training establishment anyway. For years I’ve thought this should mean two more divisions. Now, I think we should add separate UA-brigades and battalions that can be plugged into our new-style divisions.
Enemies adapt and evolve. I’m sure our adaptations and evolution are even more discouraging to our enemies. As long as we keep adapting and evolving while we stand up the Iraqi government and its security forces, we will emerge with an allied Iraq that could be a beacon of democracy in the region.
And just a thought: the anti-war types who are usually for intervening in humanitarian crises where there is little national security reason to go in should not be hammering on the fight in Iraq. Are they really saying that the massive human rights violations by Saddam did not justify invasion? Just how bad would they have needed to be to justify action? Mind you, I think this war was and is in our national interest. I’m just wondering about the reasoning ability of the “anti-war” side.
Bahrain Intrigue” (Posted July 3, 2004)
We are seeing threats to US citizens in Bahrain:
Increased threat of terrorist attack has led Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld to approve the temporary relocation of eligible family members and non-emergency Defense Department personnel from Bahrain.
So who is trying to penetrate this Shia-majority state (not Shia-run, mind you)? (the Shias are 70%, Sunnis 30%)
Bahrain's king said Saturday that his tiny Gulf kingdom is ready to send a naval force to help safeguard Iraqi territorial waters, if asked by the new Iraqi government, the official Bahrain News Agency reported.
Anybody attacking by sea seems likely to be coming from Iran since if you’re inside Iraq you might as well, you know, attack the stuff around you on land where you can escape after the attack more easily rather than sit in a more identifiable boat right after the big boom occurs.
Is an undeclared war going on between Bahrain and Iran? Bahrain hosts our Fifth Fleet headquarters and our ships base out of there. And in the First Gulf War between Iran and Iraq, Iran did try to foment a coup among the Shias in Bahrain in 1981 and has tried to destabilize the country since. Are the Iranians back to their old tricks or is al Qaeda trying to penetrate the Sunni community to launch attacks? Sending the Bahraini navy to help us either spits at the Sunni terrorists and annoys Sunni-majority states if an al Qaeda-related group is posing the threat to the US; or spits at the Iranians for trying to undermine the Bahraini government if Iran is behind the threat. This at least wouldn’t annoy the Saudis too much since Saudi Arabia has their own Shia “problem” in their oil provinces.
Very curious.
“I Was Wrong” (Posted July 3, 2004)
I was skeptical of reports that US soldiers had forced Iraqis to jump in a lake and one drowned. The accounts painted pictures of US troops without any light discipline and other problems. Well, US soldiers have been charged in the incident.
Of course, it is still possible that the eyewitnesses were lying about the details to increase the chance they would be believed. You know, make it sound worse. The killing is the bad part however, and the embellishments did not (and still do not) ring true.
Nonetheless, I was wrong. The guilty should be punished. That is a given.
Given the readiness of the press—even our own—to jump on any claim that our troops have done something wrong, it is difficult to assess these charges from a distance. As a rule, I assume nothing until proven guilty. And I assume we have the integrity to investigate allegations and find the truth. Most turn out to be nothing. Some are true and we act. So far my assumptions are holding up.
"The West's War" (Posted July 2, 2004)
This is not just America's—or the President's—war against terrorists. Europeans can sing louder and avert their eyes but our enemies are their enemies:
"To the European people ... you only have a few more days to accept bin Laden's truce or you will only have yourselves to blame," read the purported statement by the Abu Hafs al-Masri Brigades, referring to bin Laden's three-month "truce offer" -- effectively an ultimatum -- which ends in mid-July.

"The race now is between you, time and European governments which have refused to stop their attacks against Muslims.

"So do not blame us for what will happen and we apologize to you in advance if you are among those killed."
I will say that it is so nice to see that politeness is not forgotten even amongst homicidal, delusional maniacs. In that spirit, I'd like to apologize to the terrorists in advance for the death of every last damn one of them. Whether by JDAM or rifle fire, we will seek you out and kill you. And win.
Tough luck chaps, and sorry and all. But you will all die in the end.
"Iraq's War" (Posted July 2, 2004)
Since Saddam's statue fell, I've been eager to get the Iraqis fighting the former Baathists and cleaning up the country. I wanted the Iraqis to try the Baathists for war crimes. I wanted Iraqis to take the lead in security on the front lines. We must support these efforts, of course, since the new Iraq is but an infant, but Iraqis must fight for a new Iraq.
And we see the benefits of Iraqi National Guard (the former Iraqi Civil Defense Corps) units getting out front:
The eagerness to see Iraqis back in charge of the streets of Baghdad suggested that replacing U.S. soldiers with Iraqis could go a long way toward reducing popular resentment directed at the U.S. military presence here. That resentment has helped nourish a campaign of bombings and other attacks against American soldiers and Iraqis seen to be cooperating with them, particularly police and National Guard recruits.
And the benefits of trying the Baathists:
Coming just three days after an Iraqi government assumed limited political power from the U.S.-led occupation authority, the view of Hussein in a defendant's dock also appeared to encourage many Iraqis to imagine a country more in their hands than ever.
In the end, it is Iraq's fight. We had done a lot and sacrificed much, and we will do more to help. But we can only help. But it looks like the Iraqis are stepping up in the proper spirit! (via Instapundit)
We are winning this fight.
"The Real Crime" (Posted July 2, 2004)
Saddam Hussein and some of his top thugs were formally charged for his numerous crimes.
But Saddam lashed out, reflecting what is sure a common view amongst Michael Moore fans:
The deposed dictator fixed the judge with a penetrating stare and declared: "This is all a theater by Bush, the criminal."
Ah yes. Saddam of course, was charged with but a fraction of his crimes:
Accused of killing religious figures in 1974, gassing Kurds in Halabja in 1988, killing the Kurdish Barzani clan in 1983, killing members of political parties over the last 30 years, carrying out the 1986-88 "Anfal" campaign of displacing Kurds, the suppression of the 1991 uprisings by Kurds and Shiites, the 1990 invasion of Kuwait.
I know, invading Kuwait was just defending the honor of Iraq. And the Kurds were probably just using a malfunctioning space heater. And the Shias? Well, they just walked into a door. The rest are mere details. The crimes left out hardly worth mentioning.
No, the real crime is deposing such a murderous monster and his underlings without the full set of twenty UN Security Council resolutions and the blessings of Chirac. Now we're talking real wrath-inspiring outrage. The hundreds of thousands who died as the result of his crimes and sick ambition are mere statistics. But that one additional UN resolution that we did not get—that's a significant number. That warrants spittle-flecked rage at our country. That inspires hope that we lose the war (via Instapundit).
That is mind boggling.
The trial will be amazing. Already we see some wondering whether Saddam can get a fair trial. But Saddam is guilty. Shooting him as we dragged him out of the hole he hid in would not have been injustice under the circumstances. Yet just wait for the complaints by some that Saddam is not getting a fair trial. They are the ones who think "fair" means a 50-50 chance of not-guilty verdict. There are some who think that the proof of guilt is not a "slam dunk." How is it even possible to think this way? They are wrong. One former victim of Saddam put it well:
"We must do this to show we are a legal society," said the 35-year-old engineer, sitting in a friend's home in Baghdad. "But at the end, he should be executed. And then when his spirit rises from his body, the spirit should be strangled and executed again."
Try Saddam and execute him. In that order, of course. Wouldn't want to ignore the legal niceties. But by all means execute him. Anything less belittles his crimes over the last three decades.
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