Tuesday, May 31, 2005

The University of the Bleeding Obvious

From UBO comes this gem from Pakistani President Musharraf when he was asked about Iran's nuclear ambitions:

In an interview with Germany's Der Spiegel news weekly published Saturday, Musharraf was asked how Iran could be dissuaded from trying to make a nuclear weapon.

"I don't know. They are very anxious to have the bomb," he was quoted as responding.

Iran's Foreign Ministry spokesman Hamid Reza Asefi told reporters Sunday it was unlikely Musharraf made the comment, but called for an explanation from Islamabad.

Iran wants an explanation?

Well let me give it a try:

Musharraf spoke the truth.

Perhaps I'm jumping to conclusions, but the bleeding obvious explanation would seem to be the correct one.

Europe, take note.

EU 'Encounters Difficulties'

Apparently, the Dutch need to vote in sufficient numbers in both percentage and turnout for the Dutch rulers to accept it. That's certainly a telling attitude about the democracy deficit of the EU. I know, the vote is merely 'advisory,' but then why have a vote at all then? I'm reasonably certain that if the polls showed that 50.2% of the Dutch in a 20% turnout voted for the EU, the Dutch and EU leaders would hail the vote as the voice of the people.

This article has an interesting passage:

The constitution itself makes clear all EU members must ratify the text for it to take effect as planned by Nov. 1, 2006. But it also says EU leaders will discuss what to do if, by October 2006, four-fifths of member states have ratified the treaty but even one has "encountered difficulties" getting it accepted.

Without saying who is being quoted, the idea clearly conveyed is that the EU thinks that Europeans can either vote 'yes' or they will be considered to not have voted yes--yet. There is no such thing as a 'no' vote when the elites want 'yes.' There can be 'difficulties' that will be overcome but never a 'no.'

I hope the Dutch come out in large numbers to reject the monstrosity of the EU in decisive numbers. The Dutch, who have done good work with their soldiers at our side in Iraq, are more likely to have good motives for a no vote.

Pile up the difficulties!

De Merde!

The French give me a warm and fuzzy after they reject the EU decisively on Sunday. Yes, yes, I know that their reasons are hardly pro-Americanism, but with Paris I settle for results and discreetly look away over motives. I take what I can get.

But Chirac then goes and burns up my moment of fraternity and all that by naming that highly refined bureaucrat (he can insult America in five languages, I'm sure!), de Villepen, as prime minister.

Thanks a freaking lot, Paris.

Monday, May 30, 2005

The Great Game: Southeast Asia

President Bush will meet with the prime minister of Vietnam next month.

I'm sure that the Vietnamese would be happy with some weaponry to bolster their defenses in case the Chinese head south again. The Vietnamese have already shown that they can go toe to toe with the PLA and not flinch.

And if we had access to Vietnamers air bases and ports, we'd be in a nice position to block Chinese power projection into the South China Sea. And China's Hainan Island would be vulnerable to attacks 270 degrees.

The containment of China proceeds nicely.

Dawn of the Dead

The French voted no on the proposed EU constitution. But I don't think that no really means no.

The vanguard of the New European Man are not so easily put off:

France's political class on Monday braced itself for an intense period of account-settling one day after voters resoundingly rejected the European constitution in a referendum.

In Brussels, European Union leaders said they were saddened by France's repudiation of the constitution, but they defiantly insisted that it would not stall Europe's 50-year integration drive.

"The European process does not come to an end today," Jean-Claude Juncker, prime minister of Luxembourg and current holder of the European Union presidency, told a press conference late Sunday night. He said the treaty was "not dead" and that "ratification should continue in other member states."

That's clear, right? I wouldn't worry too much if I thought the EU elites merely thought that the no vote was a clear signal that their approach to unity was wrong and they need to fundamentally rethink their path. But I fear that the EU sees the no vote as merely an obstacle to implementing exactly what the EU elites have wanted all along. As Steyn wrote (via Real Clear Politics):

Following Sunday's vote in France, on Wednesday Dutch voters get to express their opinion on the proposed ''European Constitution.'' Heartening to see democracy in action, notwithstanding the European elite's hysterical warnings that, without the constitution, the continent will be set back on the path to Auschwitz. I haven't seen the official ballot, but the choice seems to be: "Check Box A to support the new constitution; check Box B for genocide and conflagration."

Alas, this tactic doesn't seem to have worked. So, a couple of days before the first referendum, Jean-Claude Juncker, the "president" of the European Union, let French and Dutch voters know how much he values their opinion:

"If at the end of the ratification process, we do not manage to solve the problems, the countries that would have said No, would have to ask themselves the question again," "President" Juncker told the Belgian newspaper Le Soir.

Got that? You have the right to vote, but only if you give the answer your rulers want you to give. But don't worry, if you don't, we'll treat you like a particularly backward nursery school and keep asking the question until you get the answer right. Even America's bossiest nanny-state Democrats don't usually express their contempt for the will of the people quite so crudely. Juncker is a man from Luxembourg, a country two-thirds the size of your rec room, and, under the agreeably clubby EU arrangements, he gets to serve as "president" without anything so tiresome as having to be voted into the job by "ordinary people." His remarks capture precisely the difference between the new Europe and the American republic.

As an aside, I don't feel too bad for my "EUzi" crack given that the Brussels types insisted a no vote was the path to gas chambers. And am I overwrought in fearing the future under the EU as Brussels envisions it (via Instapundit):

This brutal acceleration of the European Union project in the post-1990 period has leaked so much legitimacy from it that it now starts to resemble that other superannuated, elite-created, imposed federal union “project” also conceived in Europe in the same period (1910s-20s): the Soviet Union.

One of
John Kenneth Galbraith’s most ingenious contributions to social knowledge was his observation that above a certain size, large organisations replace their original motivation (for example, profit) with the goal of integrated control of its entire operating environment, and that they hide this pursuit of unaccountable power behind a myth of its opposite.

By the same token, neo-absolutist political institutions like the EU depend upon the maintenance of a fiction of democratic accountability. The claim is periodically challenged by the public refusal to vote for the European Parliament – hardly surprising when the parliamentarians vote to continue inflating their expenses, when an entire commission has to resign over corrupt practices, when the organisation as a whole fails to produce reliable, honest financial accounts, and when “whistleblowers” like
Paul van Buitenen and Marta Andreasen are excommunicated and threatened.

The fundamental issue is that the EU, like the failed Soviet experiment, cannot meet
Alexis de Tocqueville’s tests of democratic legitimation. The organisation is trapped by the local effects of a worldwide crisis of institutional trust, and a breakdown in the essence of the social contract between citizen and state.

The French effort to mount the German horse – an exercise first conceived in hope by
Aristide Briand and Jean Monnet in reaction to the slaughter of Verdun and the Somme – is newly exposed as bloated and unlovely. The “European Union” is just another episode – now drawing to a close – in the long history of Europe and its peoples. It has no inherent identity except in the minds and worldview of the Brussels elite who depend on it for their privilege and power.

So perhaps I should have called the Brussels elite "Eurxists." Shoot, Brussels might have taken that as a compliment since Marxists are the politically acceptable murdering tyrants in Europe (and on our campuses, of course). Normally, one would debate freedom versus security when there is a real threat to fight. There is no threat. Why would Europeans surrender their freedoms for security when freedom is only threatened by the elites who would rule them?

Come on, Dutch, it is your turn to kill off this zombie from Brussels.

Sunday, May 29, 2005

Memorial Day 2005

I don't have much to say about Memorial Day. I will fly my flag at half-staff tomorrow morning. And I will raise it at noon. We have lost over 1600 in Iraq since the invasion in March 2003, with over 1200 killed in action. I will mourn their loss. And I will remain grateful that they chose to defend our nation and protect us all.

And I will forever feel guilty that when I was in uniform, I was not sent to fight in 1991. I stayed home and instead, today young men and women who were the children I was in uniform to protect are now protecting me.

But Memorial Day is not a unique day for remembering those who have died. I read every announcement by the Pentagon of an American death. Their name, age, rank, home town, unit, and branch. And sometimes the location and a little more detail. I force myself to be reminded almost every day and certainly every week that the price of my advocacy is the death of Americans who do their duty in a far away place. A future is ended and families and friends are left with a void to fill. I hope that our nation's memory of their sacrifice and our gratitude can one day help fill those voids.

We are winning in Iraq. And in the broader war. I believe the deaths are not in vain. I believe that victory will result from the path we are on and that we must not turn away.

Victory is the best memorial we can give. Having decided to go to war to defend our nation, we can not accept less. Once again, there is no substitute for victory.

No Means No. Doesn't It?

In a previous post, I called the pro-EU side "EUzis." Was that excessive? Is implicitly comparing them to Nazis over the top?

Perhaps. Certainly the EU bureaucrats are no fascists. Not today, anyway. I am sure they have the best intentions. But I do think the proposed EU will erode freedom and eventually take liberty away under smothering layers of regulations. The bureaucracy will become a dead hand ruling all and accepting no deviation and no questions from the people. The elites in Brussels will do what they know is best and to hell with democracy. Freedom will die in an EU superstate.

And given that the EU will not deal with the Islam problem in Europe until it is too late to address it constructively, one day the EU will go postal rather than surrender to Islam's rising tide. A final solution will be imposed and the Islamic ghettos will be isolated and destroyed by force while Europe still has the military means to do so.

Is this too dark a future? I sure hope so. But the attitude of the EU elites make me fear that EUzis is exactly what they will become in fifty years if they get to define and run a united Europe.

And though I am glad that France voted decisively to defeat the EU, will the EU elite let it die when mere commoners have said no?

Chirac, who had urged voters to approve the charter in the bitterly contested referendum, announced the result in a brief, televised address. He said the process of ratifying the treaty would continue in other EU countries.

"It is your sovereign decision, and I take note," Chirac said. "Make no mistake, France's decision inevitably creates a difficult context for the defense of our interests in Europe."

With votes counted in all of France and its overseas territories, the "no" camp had 54.87 percent, with only 45.13 percent voting "yes," the Interior Ministry said.

The treaty's rejection in France — the architect of the European project — could set the continent's plans back by years and amounts to a personal humiliation for the veteran French leader.

Chirac "takes note" of the vote. He didn't "accept" it. And the article says it could set the plans back years. Not stop it as a "no" vote might imply--just delay it. And though any one nation saying no should stop unification, the French say that the process will go on. Surely the French will be given another chance to give the "right" answer.

Hopefully, the Dutch will also say no on June 1 so the French rejection won't stand out as an aberration. Is this a first step to a sane European future?

Europe deserves better than the political class and the political discourse (to use a European formulation) that it has been stuck with. In this respect, the leftists rallying in Paris against the constitution last Wednesday were right to insist that their "No" was "A hopeful No." This is a moment of hope--for the prospects for a strong, pro-American, pro-liberty, more or less free-market and free-trade, socially and morally reinvigorated Europe. In any case, as Le Figaro's Ivan Rioufol suggests, the referendum, whatever its outcome, has already had a "liberating effect." Rioufol explains, "It introduced freedom of speech into the French political debate. Until now, the political oligarchy and the media's politically correct group-think had silenced any critical mind. . . . The people's revolt and their demand for 'true talk' are sweeping away the old political scene and its political correctness."

I have little hope for a liberating effect. The fall of the Soviet Union ended any reason for a united Europe. Currency and economic cooperation is surely good, but political unity? Do we insist Canada and Mexico be absorbed into a political NAFTA? No. And Europe should keep their nation-states. It will be good for us and Europe. And it will certainly help keep Europe free.

The EUzis will not give up. A mere vote will not stop them. I suspect the EU elites will learn their lesson and they will work hard to make sure the French and Dutch votes are the last real votes there will ever be on the EU project.

The Daily Dis

The North Koreans have used their highly developed socialist brains to figure out our game plan:

"The United States is pretending to be a protector of South Korea ... but it is definitely an aggressor, an occupier," said a spokesman at the North's Committee for the Peaceful Reunification of the Fatherland.

Washington has a "wicked intent to strengthen its colonial rule and militarist occupation of South Korea and to make South Korea a victim of the U.S. scheme to wage a war of aggression," the unidentified spokesman was quoted as saying by North Korea's official Korean Central News Agency.

I have mentioned I am truly sick of this psychotic regime. I'm not alone:

A top State Department official predicted Thursday that North Korea's decision to remain isolated internationally will eventually lead to the collapse of its government. Assistant Secretary of State Christopher Hill said North Korea is showing no interest in taking lessons from the successes neighboring China has enjoyed from its reform program.

"It's a real problem," Hill said, alluding to North Korea's self-imposed isolation. "And it's a problem that will ultimately be their undoing."

Hill expressed frustration with North Korea's seeming focus on "small issues," such as the occasional pejorative comments in Washington, when it should give top priority to resolving the "monumental" issue of nuclear weapons development.

"We're talking about an issue that would profoundly affect the future of North Korea," he said.

"Are they serious?" he asked. "I can't answer that right now."

The North Koreans say whatever the hell that pops into their famine-addled brains and we are expected to just accept it as the way things are.

We mention that they are a despotism that starves its own people and they get all offended. Some over here start to blame us for the fact that the North Koreans are certifiably nuts.

I say that our officials in the State and Defense departments as well as the White House should have a rotating schedule of coming out and saying something truthful about North Korea that will absolutely drive the Pillsbury Nuke Boy crazy. Every day. Maybe then Pyongyang will know we are serious about addressing their nuclear developments and ignoring their pissy little tirades intended to intimidate the excitable types over here.

The North Koreans are seriously annoying. If they won't talk--don't. Squeeze them until they collapse.

Oh, and cut off all our food aid. If the Chinese won't cut off energy and food to North Korea, thus keeping that gulag regime allive, why should be help? If propping up the Pillsbury Nuke Boy while he pursues nukes is so important to China, let them pay.

Saturday, May 28, 2005

EUthenizing War

France is voting on whether to ratify the monstrous EU constitution:

After a campaign that mesmerized and polarized the country, final opinion polls suggested that opponents of the landmark EU charter would prevail, a decision that would effectively stop the treaty dead in its tracks.

Yet the EUzis view votes as a mere obstacle that may be overcome:

There are already signs of tension. Jean-Claude Juncker, prime minister of Luxembourg, who is current president of the EU, provoked guffaws when he suggested that the ratification process should continue regardless of how the French vote. "The Juncker line was ridiculous," one commission official said.

José Manuel Barroso, the commission president who is due to appear with Mr Juncker in Brussels on Sunday night to respond to the French vote, is said to be getting cold feet about the press conference.

"Barroso is far too sensible to take such a simple view," the official said.

All leaders will wait for Jacques Chirac to pronounce. If he abides by a French no vote, the measure will be effectively dead.

The EUzis are frantic to get their precious union. They fear that the idiot voters who reject the European Union are just as likely to drag the continent into war:

More than any other region, Europe experienced the horrors of the 20th century. It was no surprise that after 1945, an exhausted continent was ready to try a radical new idea - building a zone of peace through institutional integration and the voluntary pooling of sovereignty. What was a surprise was how successful this project turned out to be.

We should remain vigilant. But in Europe at least, the demons are gone for good. We should use this accomplishment as inspiration to take the next step.

Ah yes, remain vigilant against the people. Never blame the rulers for a history of war. Nope. The people are at fault. The EUzis can save Europe from more war.

Yet what is the problem as seen in France?

It should compel attention throughout the EU that France sees this constitution as a momentous step – whether, as the “yes” campaign would have it, forging a “united Europe” capable of acting as a mighty counterpoint to the US in global affairs, or whether, as the treaty’s numerous opponents proclaim, reinforcing centralising trends in ways that threatened France’s sovereignty, identity and way of life.

The rulers of Europe want the glory of a united and centralized Europe to counter America? Why? Are we threatening invasion? Will we build another EuroDisney? Is McDonalds expanding? Perhaps Britney Spears has a new album out. Whatever the threat, the Euros want a larger unified state to oppose us. And if the centralization needed to stop the terrible threat of Rockford Files reruns must come at the expense of democracy and national sovereignty, it is a small price for the people of Europe to pay. The leaders know best.

Though the rulers of Europe blame the people for the history of European bloodshed, the people were merely led to war and died in the wars started by the European elites. The same elites now seek the glory of superpower status at the expense of democracy that might allow the people to express disagreement with the desires of the elites. But since the foreign power the elites seek to balance, the United States, is no threat to them, the elites will use their power against the only real threat to their EU power--the people of Europe.

A yes vote in France will open the way for the EUzis to weld Europe into a single state and to hell with the will of the people. One vote, one time. And as the EUzis make clear, even a no vote is not final. The EUzis will find a way around this mere inconvenience. Juncker made that clear enough and the very idea that Chirac has to abide by a no vote for it to mean anything is pretty damning for the chance of democracy to endure in a Brussels-dominated EUzi state.

If the no side wins, their fight is just beginning.

But for there to be any fight at all against the EUzi state that is desperately trying to be born, there must be a Battle of the Marne where the enemy is stopped before it can win and plunge Europe into despair.

Navy Grade Inflation

A couple weeks ago, I started to look into our surface fleet. It is common to note that our fleet is about the same size as it was before Pearl Harbor, that is, right before we got whacked. The clear inference is that we need many more ships.

First of all, I want a fleet second to none. The fact is, we have that easily. So any discussion of our fleet must start with the fact that we could beat any conceivable combination of enemies at sea.

Second, prior to Pearl Harbor, our fleet had a half dozen carriers and a dozen battleships plus some cruisers and lots of destroyers in the surface fleet. We had few ships above 10,000 tons (the heavy cruisers and up) while the rest were 5,000-ton light cruisers and destroyers of less than 3,000 tons. One thing you have to remember is that the 55 "destroyers" of the Arleigh Burke class and the 3 Spruance class that we still have weigh in at 8-9,000 tons. These ships are only slightly smaller than our 24 Ticonderoga class cruisers that tilt the scales at 9,600 tons. [These numbers are slightly different from the Strategypage numbers below.]

Our destroyers are really major capital ships and quite capable. It is a mistake to think that the terms are comparable from pre-WW II days. I thought that with all these capital ships masquerading as minor ships based on terminolgy, the Navy was prepared to build a lot of smaller ships and build up numbers fairly easily, relying on the cushion of our current heavy fleet.

But we may be going back to the World War II mix of major and minor ships just to maintain numbers. Strategypage beat me to the punch before I could look into this:

The U.S. Navy’s next class of destroyers is threatening to price itself out of the market. The navy needs those new destroyers, called the DD(X) class. The U.S. Navy is under time pressure to start building new surface warships to replace its Cold War era fleet (25 Ticonderoga class cruisers, 43 Arleigh Burke class destroyers, 5 Spruance destroyers and 30 Oliver Hazard Perry class frigates). These 73 Ticonderoga, Burke and Spruance class ships are all basically built on the same hull, and have a displacement similar to that of World War II cruisers (between 9-10,000 tons). The frigates displace 4,000 tons, a little heavier than World War II destroyers. The 73 larger ships are to be replaced by a still larger (14,000 ton) “DD(X)”, while the frigates would be replaced (sort of) by 3,000 ton LCS (Littoral Combat Ship). But the costs of these two ships are radically different. The DD(X), with it’s many new hull, electronic and weapons systems, look like they will cost $2.5 billion each (with the first few costing $5 billion each, and the rest less, depending on how many are built.) The DD(X) is costing some three times as much as the ships they are replacing. That is somewhat offset by a savings of half a billion dollars per ship (over the life of the ship) because of much smaller crews. Thus the next generation fleet will probably end up with same number of surface warships (103), but only 40 or so will be the larger DD(X), with the rest being LCS. This takes the cycle of warship design full circle to where it was a century ago, where you had two or three smaller, and more expendable, destroyers, for each of the larger “cruiser” type ships.

We do need smaller ships. Operating in the littorals is just too dangerous for large warships when enemies can be low tech and lethal. The LCS will be like the smaller ships of the past that can fight effectively yet are not a big political loss if hit. The major ships, new 14,000-ton "destoyers"!, will be better in blue waters.

I just don't know why our Navy insists on calling ships below their weight class. Yeah, I know, carriers are four or five times heavier than their 1940 ancestors so grade inflation is pushing everything up, but are we really going to ever build 30-50,000 ton "cruisers" or 70,000 ton "battlecruisers"?

Just call DD(X) a "cruiser" and the LCS a "frigate" and save us all the confusing comparisons. Then we'll have room for a "destroyer" between the 14,000 ton DD(X) and 3,000 ton LCS.


The Amnesty International report that slams the United States human rights record is outrageously biased. It is so reality challenged that it is hard to even respond. I've already noted my absolute rejection of this insane broad attack. This article has more:

With respect to the war on terror, Amnesty’s principal complaint is that “[h]undreds of detainees continue to be held without charge or trial at the US naval base in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.” This, of course, is the installation that Amnesty’s secretary general, Irene Khan, characterized as “the gulag of our times.” Khan is either profoundly ignorant of the actual gulag, where Communist regimes “re-educated” political dissidents through murderous hard labor, starvation diets, and exposure to the elements, or engaging in highly improvident hyperbole. It is most likely the latter. (As the Washington Post editorialized, the “modern equivalent” of the gulag can be found not at Guantanamo Bay, but in Castro’s Cuba, North Korea, China and, until recently, Saddam Hussein’s Iraq.) In a calmer moment, Khan might reflect that comparing American policies with which she disagrees to genuine atrocities committed by some of the most vicious and repressive regimes in history effectively trivializes the actions of those regimes.

The last sentence gets to a more important point. Amnesty International's approach is worse than just the hysterical complaints that we store clean silverware next to dirty silverware at Guantanamo or that there is no sneeze guard over the salad bar. It enables real torture:

Amnesty International should reflect that its extravagant and unfounded claims that the United States has violated international law, and that its officials should be the subject of criminal prosecution, work to undercut its own mission. Amnesty claimed that “[w]hen the most powerful country in the world thumbs its nose at the rule of law and human rights, it grants a licence to others to commit abuse with impunity and audacity.” In fact, it is Amnesty International, and similar NGOs, who have granted that license. They have done this by failing to distinguish clearly between American interpretations of international law, including the Geneva Conventions and Torture Convention, with which they may disagree as a policy matter, and actual illegal conduct. It is hardly surprising that repressive regimes claim that the United States has violated the law, thus permitting them to follow suit, when groups like Amnesty persistently state that American policy at Guantanamo Bay is illegal even though this is simply not true.

In their eagerness to declare legitimate American practices consistent with our law and international law as torture, Amnesty International has given regimes that have real gulags and real torturers license to kill. If America deprives some thugs caught on the battlefield of proper sleep; why can't thug regimes pull out the fingernails of dissidents caught criticizing the government? If Amnesty treats them the same, the worst have cover by pointing to America as being in the same category.

Amnesty International should be ashamed of itself. But they aren't. Screw them.

Friday, May 27, 2005

Sense and Nonsense

As the Army plans to redeploy from Europe, I've been worried that we will have too few troops in the area. When an arc of crisis is so near Europe, why not leave deployable troops there in order to intervene more quickly? Like an entire corps but lighter than V Corps?

I've read an airborne brigade will remain in Italy and according to this article, we'll have two others in Europe:
For Germany, the Army plans to bring home the 1st Infantry Division and the 1st Armored Division, with a mobile brigade using lighter Stryker armored vehicles added at the Grafenwoehr base in Bavaria, and another regular brigade also stationed in the area.

Going from five brigades (two each in 1st ID and 1st AD plus a para bde) now, to three in the future isn't so bad. I've also read that another commission on overseas bases recommends a brigade set of heavy stuff be kept in Europe afloat for crises. If we keep other aviation assets and support units, this may not be a bad intervention force for the next couple decades. Not as good as a full corps, but it makes some sense.

On the other hand, this makes no sense at all:

Earlier this month a few thousand members of Hanchongryon — South Korea's largest student group — staged a demonstration and tore down wire fences at an air force base in Gwangju, demanding the United States remove its Patriot missiles and withdraw from South Korea altogether.

What kind of person do you have to be to protest against weapons designed to protect your country and people from a psychopathic gulag-master who regularly vows to turn your largest city and capital into a sea of fire? Seriously, do they get their marching orders from the Pillsbury Nuke Boy himself? This makes no sense at all.

UPDATE: Jeff at Caerdroia answers my latter question. Yes, Hanchongryon does get its marching orders from the Pillsbury Nuke Boy. Now their stance makes sense. It is no less repulsive, but now I understand why they chant the way they do. But now somebody explain to me why Canada opposes our missile defense plans. Surely not everybody is a Kimunist.

Thursday, May 26, 2005

The Future is Not Nuts

After three and a half years of waging war against Islamist nutballs, youd' think the Moslem or Arab street would be reacting badly by now. But as Steyn writes:

As for the wackiness of Muslim fanatics, well, up to a point. But, you know, we've been told ever since 9/11 that the allegedly seething ''Muslim street'' was about to explode, and for four years it's remained as somnolent as a suburban cul-de-sac on a weekday afternoon. Invade their countries, topple their rulers, bomb their infrastructure from the first day of Ramadan to the last, arrest their terrorists, hold them at Gitmo for half a decade, initiate reforms setting the Arab world on the first rung of the ladder to political and economic liberty, and the seething Muslim street gives one almighty shrug.

In October 2001 Faizal Aqtub Siddiqi, president-general of the International Muslims Organization, warned that the bombing of Afghanistan would create 1,000 Osama bin Ladens. In April 2003, Egypt's President Mubarak warned that the bombing of Iraq would create 100 bin Ladens. So right there you got a 90 percent reduction in the bin Laden creation program -- just by bombing a second country! Despite the best efforts to rouse the Muslim street, its attitude has remained: Start the jihad without me. The short history of the last four years is: They're nuts but not that nuts.

Indeed, far from rising up and making the streets run with infidel blood, the Moslem world is turning against Islamist nutballs:

To venture into the Arab world, as I did recently over four weeks in Qatar, Kuwait, Jordan and Iraq, is to travel into Bush Country. I was to encounter people from practically all Arab lands, to listen in on a great debate about the possibility of freedom and liberty. I met Lebanese giddy with the Cedar Revolution that liberated their country from the Syrian prison that had seemed an unalterable curse. They were under no illusions about the change that had come their way. They knew that this new history was the gift of an American president who had put the Syrian rulers on notice. The speed with which Syria quit Lebanon was astonishing, a race to the border to forestall an American strike that the regime could not discount. I met Syrians in the know who admitted that the fear of American power, and the example of American forces flushing Saddam Hussein out of his spider hole, now drive Syrian policy. They hang on George Bush's words in Damascus, I was told: the rulers wondering if Iraq was a crystal ball in which they could glimpse their future.

This is what our Iraq War and our commitment to democracy is inspiring. We have a long struggle ahead of us, but the Arab and Moslem street will increasingly be a force on our side.

And as we make more progress, let the opponents of our fight argue that we should turn Iraq back to Saddam, Afghansitan back to the Taliban, and Lebanon back to the Syrians.

And there will be more to come. As long as we keep pushing for more. It isn't a coincidence that progress is coming now, after we focused our power on changing the corrupt status quo that led to planes slamming into the Pentagon, the World Trade Center, and a field in Pennsylvania.

Thumbing Their Nose at Reality

Just screw them:

[Amnesty International secretary general Irene] Khan labeled the United States detention facility at Guantánamo Bay, where more than 500 prisoners from about 40 countries are being held, as "the gulag of our times."

Honest to God, those people at AI have the brain power of mossy rocks. When there are entire nations with UN seats that qualify as gulags and widespread abuses in most countries, Amnesty International sees America as an offender uniquely guilty. Never mind Cuba or Burma or North Korea or Belorussia or Zimbabwe or Iran or China. Those countries might send hit squads against Ms. Khan if she showed the same outrage at them. But there is no downside to accusing America of the most outrageous crimes. My how brave of them. They'll get invited to all the right parties now.

What is really frustrating is that we aren't perfect. I don't like our practice of rendering prisoners to actual countries with gulags [NOTE: I should have said "human rights abuses" instead of "gulags" here. None of our allies have anything near a system of gulags.] where we know they will be tortured. That is wrong, but by calling America a human rights abuser and Gitmo a "gulag" the Amnesty people just show that they are just an arm of the anti-US coalition of the world. They could gain actual support by making reasoned and focused accusations about specific failings but instead AI goes overboard and undermines their credibility.

We should turn over the AI people to our Gitmo residents and tell them they are welcome to each other. Surely Irene would walk into their custody serenely confident that she wouldn't be mistreated by the saints she defends.

Screw Amnesty International. If we lose our war with Islamofascists, AI wouldn't last two seconds under our enemy's rule. God, they make me sick.

The Path to Victory

As American forces press attacks along the Euphrates River to cut up the movement of foreign terrorists to Baghdad, Iraqi forces will begin a major operation within the Baghdad area to clamp down on the insurgents already there:

Iraqi ministers said on Thursday the government would pour tens of thousands of Iraqi troops into Baghdad in an unprecedented operation to seal off the city and hunt insurgents.

Defense Minister Sadoun al-Dulaimi said 40,000 Iraqi troops would be deployed in Baghdad for Operation Thunder, the biggest Iraqi military operation since the fall of Saddam Hussein. Backed by the 10,000 U.S. troops in Baghdad, they will set up hundreds of checkpoints and block roads into the capital.

The move comes a day after U.S. forces launched Operation New Market, a security sweep in the town of Haditha, 200 km (125 miles) northwest of Baghdad, where 1,000 U.S. Marines and sailors, backed by Iraqi troops, are searching for militants.

Operation New Market is the second major offensive in the area this month as U.S. and Iraqi forces step up their hunt for followers of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the Jordanian militant who heads al Qaeda's network in Iraq.

Although I was disappointed that Iraqis aren't with the US forces moving in western Anbar province, the fact that Iraqis can take a bigger role in the core area means US forces can move into the west where we have not been active before (this insight from Strategypage). The US actions will make it easier for the Iraqis in Operation Thunder to operate effectively.

A major Iraqi operation following on the earlier one where US forces were in a minor supporting role is a good sign that we are handing off the fight to the Iraqi government. In time, Iraqi government forces will be in western Anbar, too.

Iraq--Shias, Kurds, and sane Sunnis--are the ones who must win the fight againt jihadis and Baathists.

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

Rear Guard?

Ok, I figure Zarqawi is bugging out of Iraq as he has predicted he would have to do once democracy came to Iraq.

So perhaps the killing spree that the Islamists are inflicting on the Iraqi people is related to Zarqawi's retreat from Iraq.

Really, in any withdrawal from contact, the rear guard has to simulate the main body to keep the enemy from figuring out the main body is actually withdrawing. If the rear guard fails in this deception, the enemy will attack, overwhelm the rear guard, and pursue the main body to destroy it before it can break contact and escape.

Certainly, this is not completely analagous to an army trying to break contact with another army. But if Zarqawi wants to escape Iraq, he would have a better chance if the good guys are tied down fighting an enemy surge within Iraq.

Sheer speculation on my part, but everybody and their brother has noted that Zarqawi's tactics are alienating Iraqis. Either Zarqawi is truly that stupid, or he has another effect he's trying to accomplish.

Is the car bombing spree Zarqawi's rear guard?

Marines on the Offensive

American forces are on the offensive and it is a bit unsettling to me.

Following Operation Matador around Qaim on the Syrian border, US Marines and soldiers are involved in another reinforced-battalion sized operation along the Euphrates "rat line" into Baghdad around Haditha, Operation New Market:

Helicopters swept down near palm tree groves to drop off Marines who blocked off one side of Haditha, while other troops on foot and in armored vehicles established checkpoints and moved toward the city's center. U.S. warplanes circled overhead.

According to initial reports, three insurgents were killed during several fierce gunbattles that broke out after U.S. forces entered this town before dawn, Marine Capt. Christopher Toland told an Associated Press reporter embedded with U.S. forces. Two Marines also were wounded and evacuated, Toland said.

In these latest operations, no Iraqi forces are apparent.

This is disappointing considering that the recent Baghdad area operation was a largely Iraqi operation:

Seven Iraqi battalions backed by U.S. forces launched an offensive in the capital on Sunday in an effort to stanch the violence that has killed more than 550 people in less than a month, targeting insurgents who have attacked the dangerous road to Baghdad's airport and Abu Ghraib prison.
This type of operation is what we need to do if we are to halt our recent rise in casualties:

Gen. John Abizaid, the American military commander in the Persian Gulf region, said last week in Washington that Iraq's police force has not developed as quickly as U.S. generals had hoped, raising questions about how soon American forces could begin returning home.

Edward B. Atkeson, a senior fellow at the Rand [sic: AUSA] Institute of Land Warfare, believes it is the inability of U.S. authorities to produce an Iraqi security force capable of taking over complete control of Iraq that continues to place American troops in the firing line.

"Whenever you take a larger part in the security operations you have to be prepared to take a larger part of the casualties," Atkeson, a former U.S. military intelligence chief in Europe, said from Alexandria, Va

One of the problems is that Iraqi forces tend to be regional in nature rather than mobile and able to operate across the entire country. With Sunnis only recently joining security forces, it will take time for Iraqi units to be formed in western Anbar province where they can follow our units into an area after we've cleared it in order to hold it. In time, those units will be able to carry out offensive operation with our backing. But for now, other than the growing string of border posts where Iraqis are being emplaced, western Anbar is a US operation.

So we will have to be content for now with missions that seek to kill the enemy without holding the ground. Eventually, we'll bring in Iraqis. But this is better than having our own troops doing it all. We may be better at killing the enemy but less effective Iraqi troops are actually better for pacifying a region as long as the enemy is atomized and unable to pick off Iraqi governemnt outposts at will.

While I still think that we are winning, with the recent uptick in our casualties, I can't say that it feels like victory at the moment.

Not Strangers

Saddam was not involved in carrying out 9-11.

I start out this way since so many opponents of the war on terror have trouble separating the above statement with the statement that Saddam was involved in terror and had links with al Qaeda. From Austin Bay comes information on the links. Read it. Bay concludes:

A covert, terrorist organization survives via stealth. It has to cover its tracks. Some information about Al Qaeda, its people, its connections, its intentions, will take years to uncover. King Abdullah and former PM Allawi now offer evidence of Saddam-Al Qaeda connections and Allawi’s suggest potential collaboration. Abdullah’s information implies a tangential conection, but Allawi’s indicates direct dealing. Where’s the front-page reporting and 24/7 cable chitchat? Newsweek needs to follow this lead. Will Dan Rather –while he’s looking for Lucy Ramirez– try to find Faruq Hajizi, the “former ambassador” Allawi names? That’s a 60 Minutes interview we all need to hear.

Why is it so hard for people to think that a brutal dictator would be involved with the most powerful terrorist enemies of America? It would be strange if Saddam didn't have contacts, don't you think?

Hello, I Really Must Be Going

The latest rumors about Zarqawi have him either dead or wounded:

The latest furor over al-Zarqawi began Tuesday when an Internet statement called on Muslims to pray for his life, followed by competing statements on his health and whereabouts.

The mystery deepened Wednesday after reports that two Arab doctors in another country were treating al-Zarqawi, chief of al-Qaida in Iraq and wanted for some of the deadliest attacks in the country.

He could be dead and his supporters are trying to soften the impact of finally saying he is dead by announcing his injury. That way, the death announcement won't come out of the blue.

But by saying he is wounded and seeking medical attention in another country, Zarqawi's people may simply be providing a good excuse for Zarqawi leaving Iraq. And if it is said he is wounded, it gives Zarqawi an excuse for staying hidden for months as he seeks a safe haven outside of Iraq.

Remember, Zarqawi said he wouldn't be able to stay in Iraq if democracy came to Iraq. And Iraqis are turning against his murderous tactics. As I noted before, I figured Zarqawi would flee Iraq at some point and leave his fighters as a rear guard to cover his retreat:

Just as Zarqawi fled Fallujah ahead of the US assault in November, Zarqawi will get the Hell out of Iraq as his minions are hunted down. Being pulled out of a spider hole or shot is for the little people--or dumbasses like Saddam and his boys.

It would be nice to kill Zarqawi inside Iraq but I fear he will bug out first.

That's my guess. Zarqawi is running. Not dead or wounded.

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

In Need of a Good Beating With the Reality Stick

Some North Koreans have bravely filmed acts of defiance to a regime that will place whole families in prison to face death for the acts of one family member:

The footage of the anti-government banners was smuggled out of North Korea across the Chinese border by activists working with the Seoul-based Citizens Coalition for Human Rights of Abductees and North Korean Refugees.
And what do some "North Korea watchers" wonder about?

Among North Korea watchers, there is some debate about whether the filmmakers were motivated mainly by their opposition to the government or by greed. Many of the videos have been sold to Japanese television stations, which have paid as much as $200,000 for choice footage, according to some accounts.

Are these people completely insane! Greed? I don't recall anybody asking if Michael Moore was motivated mainly by opposition to the government or by greed. And Michael Moore's family was not about to be killed should he be caught. I dare say, the North Korean filmmakers won't be up for any Oscars for their short film. My God, some people are idiots. Any sign of even mild dissent is punishable by death in North Korea. What fate would the filmmakers face if caught? To say they are just trying to hit the big time is ignorant. Why not ask why fear of the regime is loosening enough for people to think they can survive acts of defiance? Why not ask how regime control can slip enough for people to get away with this act of defiance?

Why not question the groupthink of majority consensus that the North Korean regime is still secure despite the signs of rot in the North?

I think the North Korea watchers need to be beaten with the reality stick. Repeatedly.

Combat is the Guard's Role

We used to think of mobilization as an all-or-nothing event. For peacetime we relied on the active component Army and if the Soviets headed west, we mobilized the whole kit and caboodle for the duration.

Since 9-11, we have relied on the reserves, including the Army National Guard combat units, to supplement the active Army and Marines (including the Marine reserve division). Reverend Sensing posts on what the National Guard's role should be: combat reserve, homeland defense, a Governor's disaster response force, or peactime engagement force?

The Guard has roles in all of these missions. But I worry about the combat role. I think the combat mission is absolutely critical. And though the Guard is quite good as a reserve force, it suffers by being compared to American active forces. Really, our Guard rivals just about any other active duty army as far as quality goes. Our enhanced seperate brigades have done well in combat. But we have neglected our Guard divisions. They have been the poor step-sisters as far as resources go since nobody expected that we'd need to use them once the Soviets went away.

But with our enhanced spearate brigades tapped out, we will have to look to our Guard divisions to help in Iraq and Afghanistan if we are not to rely too much on the active units to go back to Iraq yet again. Yet instead there has been talk of sending the enhanced brigades on second tours of duty. This is ridiculous:

There is no excuse for having a unit crunch or calling up enhanced brigades again. The enhanced brigades aren't the entire Guard and we've had enough time to bring up select divisions to mobilization standards. If we haven't, heads should roll. These are our reserves, people, we should use them.

We can't assume that all our wars will be fast and victorious, as I noted in the article I wrote for Army magazine in the post linked to above. [Sorry, no link to the article, this was pre-web--just to a synopsis I wrote.] We need the Guard divisions in case wars are tougher than we anticipate or last longer than we think. Our experience in Iraq validates our need for the Guard as a combat reserve force.

We need to figure out how our contract with reservists will be written when mobilization goes beyond rare global war and becomes routine. But we need the reserves as a combat force available to augment the active component forces for war. If we can't do that, then we might as well disband the Guard.

Too Unstable to Govern

Back in December, I ridiculed the idea that the European elites needed the EU to prevent the bloodthirsty commoners from rending Europe asunder yet again:

It is pure rot, of course. The elites are pretending that the public is bloodthirsty and that only erasing democracy in a smothering European bureaucracy can prevent future bloodshed.

Imagine that, the Europeans looked to their past, noticed that the rulers of Europe often rallied their publics into repeated wars against each other and the rest of the world, and concluded that the key failure in this is their own public that failed to stop the leaders! Never mind that it was the leadership that led Europe to fight. I just want to know how putting an elite that has been prone to war back in complete charge will end European wars? Isn't this recreating the Europe of divine right rulers that created the bloody swath that Europeans cut across the globe?

Mark Steyn, too, is skeptical of the argument that the enlightened EU elites must keep the bloodthirsty masses under their Gucci heels to keep them from killing again:

Why does so much of the continental governing class carry on like the sinister Mitteleuropean shrink from a 1940s melodrama, insisting that you're far too unstable to be allowed to leave the sanatorium? Well, either they're the loopy ones or they're desperate, and they'd rather talk about a new Holocaust than any of the more pressing questions - Turkey, the unsustainable euro, unemployment, over-regulation, deathbed demographics. Or maybe they talk about the Second World War because that's the only genuine pan-European topic.

Whatever the answer, the concentration-camps-around-the-corner argument is at least a useful glimpse into how the Eurocrats regard the citizenry. However the French and Dutch votes go, it seems unlikely that the EU's rulers will allow anything as footling as the will of the people to derail the project at this late stage. In Euro-referendums, there's only one correct answer; it's just that sometimes you have to have two votes before the people figure out which one it is. My sense is that the French will vote narrowly for the constitution and the Dutch will narrowly reject it, but either way the EU will figure out a way to inflict it on the Continent. A stitch-up in time saves, nein?

As we push democracy in the Moslem world and in the former Soviet Union's empire, we can't just assume that Europe is in the 'win' column. If the European Union becomes a single political entity, one day we will need a democracy project for Europe. And given the record of European elites, it could be a bloody project to implement.

We must work to stop the EU. Europeans can be our friends. Europe cannot. It will be bad for us and bad for Europeans if the Brussels bureaucrats gain power. Certainly, with the close calls that voting is providing for the EU, the EU won't make the mistake of letting that go on for long. I mean, when only the best and brightest in Brussels stands between peace and a populist-led holocaust, suppressing freedom will be a blessing, right?

Monday, May 23, 2005


Samuelson has a good piece on the latest prediction (wish?) by some over here that the Chinese will supplant us as the dominant power. Yep, and the Russians and the Germans and the Japanese and the EU were going to surpass us, too. Or perhaps India will dominate us through off-shoring.

Yet here we are all alone at the top, still.

I have expressed my skepticism that China will overtake us any time soon. Indeed, I've noted that China has impressive annual growth rates from the simple expedient of taking farmers and putting them in cities. Turning even the most productive rural peasant into even the least productive factory worker will increase GDP very nicely. One day this avenue will run out as it did in the Soviet Union. Plus, as an aging society, China may get old before it gets rich. Or the aging despots of Peking could be driven out of their palaces by an old fashioned revolt of the people.

Those predicting our doom have always had statistics to bolster them. And every time we've left our rivals behind. Why? Samuelson explains:

On being overtaken, history teaches another lesson. America's economic strengths lie in qualities that are hard to distill into simple statistics or trends. We've maintained beliefs and practices that compensate for our weaknesses, including: ambitiousness; openness to change (even unpleasant change); competition; hard work, and a willingness to take and reward risks. If we lose this magic combination, it won't be China's fault.

Our future lies in our own hands. The next century will be ours unless we try to emulate the policies of failure. Thank goodness we didn't copy central planning, or industrial policy, or a massive welfare state when people here insisted we needed to emulate past competitors who failed to beat us. Keep on doing what we've been doing.

Sunday, May 22, 2005

Niche Marketing

It has been slowly seeping into our awareness that sometimes the words and tone sent to us by Moslem speakers in English differ greatly from the same people when they speak in Arabic to their own home audiences. Arafat was quite the artist of sounding diplomatic to the West while firing up the Gaza street with "kill the Jew" rhetoric at home.

Sadly, such two-faced speaking is not restricted to terrorists. Via Instapundit, our own press does the same thing:

Via InstaPundit, we find overseas editions of Newsweek putting the American flag into a garbage can on its cover. (Glenn Reynolds wryly observes, "And yet they're complaining about Koran-in-the-toilet reports.")

That Newsweek's international editions make the domestic edition of Newsweek look as patriotic as National Review or Fox News is reminiscent of something that Fox's Roger Ailes once said about how CNNi differs from the version of CNN we watch (well, based on the ratings, don't watch) in the US.

With the internet, these disgusting news organizations that happen to be Americans will be unable to pretend they are American companies.

No wonder their journalists hate wearing an American flag during a time of war. Bad for foreign ratings, don't you know.

Inside the Tent

With common criminals, Baathists, assorted Shia and Sunni fundamentalists, and foreign jihadis running around Iraq, it is tough to see progress sometimes. The jihadis of late have been blowing things up left and right. This has masked the fact that a lot of Sunnis are coming to the conclusion that insurgency is just a method of committing suicide in the face of a strengthening Iraqi government backed by an American government that has not run in the face of brutal attacks. The Sunnis are joining the government:

More than 1,000 Sunni Arab clerics, political leaders and tribal heads ended their two-year boycott of politics in post-Saddam Hussein Iraq on Saturday, uniting in a Sunni bloc that they said would help draft the country's new constitution and compete in elections.

Formation of the group comes during escalating violence between Sunni and Shiite Muslims that has raised the threat of sectarian war. The bloc represents moderate and hard-line members of the Association of Muslim Scholars, the Iraqi Islamic Party and other main groups of the disgruntled Sunni minority toppled from dominance when U.S.-led troops routed Hussein in April 2003.

Sunnis have remained on the sidelines of the Iraqi government since then. Most Sunnis boycotted national elections in January that put the long-suppressed Shiite majority in charge. Meanwhile, a Sunni-led insurgency appears to have become increasingly unpopular among ordinary Iraqis as the death toll from bombings and other attacks climbs.

This doesn't mean it's time to join in a chorus of Kumbaya. As Strategypage has noted before, the Sunnis think their experience in governing and conspiring means they can join the government and in ten or twenty years stage a coup and get things back to 'normal' with a Sunni dictatorship again.

Still, it is better to have the Sunnis inside the tent peeing out rather than outside peeing in.

Eventually, after we've pulled out troops into large bases to protect Iraq from foreign invasion and provide a reserve for Iraqis fighting the remnant insurgents, I imagine we'll need regular advisors attached to Iraqi units, plus Special Forces, CIA, and FBI assets spread out rooting out Baathists plotting a comeback.

We'll be in Iraq for a while. With some luck, we'll soon be out of the routine counter-insurgency business as Iraqis take the lead, and our casualties will plummet.

But by all means, keep an eye on the Sunnis. They are not newborn democrats.

Crack Defense Team at Work

The "Easily Offended" ("Easily Offended" is a registered tradmark of the "international community") are upset that photos of Saddam have made it into the press:

The International Committee for the Red Cross, which is responsible for monitoring prisoners of war and detainees, said the photographs violated Saddam's right to privacy.

"Taking and using photographs of him is clearly forbidden," ICRC Middle East spokeswoman Dorothea Krimitsas said. U.S. forces are obliged to "preserve
the privacy of the detainee."

Aside from U.S. soldiers, the only others with access to Saddam are his legal team, prosecuting judge Raed Johyee and the ICRC.

Khalil al-Duleimi, Saddam's defense lawyer in Iraq, criticized the American handling of Saddam but said he would not comment on the photographs until he learned whether they were genuine.

"I don't doubt such behavior from the American forces because they don't respect the law. They impose the law of force and the law of the jungle," al-Duleimi said about the pictures being taken. "They don't respect human rights and I expect them to do anything."

Saddam was captured in December 2003 while hiding in a concealed hole in the ground near his hometown of Tikrit, 80 miles north of Baghdad. He is charged with war crimes, but no date has been set for his trial.

It is not the first time there has been an outcry over images of Saddam.

Pictures and video images of Saddam being examined by a medic after his arrest were widely criticized — even by the Vatican. A top Vatican cardinal said at the time that American forces treated the captured Iraqi leader "like a cow."

One photo makes it possible to answer the question "Boxers or briefs?" without his answer. I guess that wouldn't be very presidential.

Yet I'd think that Saddam's legal defense team might want to be careful with this line of attack. Oh sure, the chance to join with the Easily Offended in complaining about US actions is darn near irresistable, but this probably isn't the wisest move by Saddam's lawyers.

Consider, if we're supposed to be outraged over this, shouldn't the torture and deaths of hundreds of thousands justify far more outrage? Isn't slaughtering hundreds of thousands treating them "like cattle"?

Don't rape, summary executions, and Oil for Food, and all the rest qualify as not "respecting the law"?

Wasn't virtually every aspect of Saddam's reign of terror "clearly forbidden" under some standard of the international community?

Look, those photos should not have been published. Appropriate punishments all around, of course. But making a big deal about them on behalf of Saddam is foolish. I'm no lawyer, but this line of defense seems like a loser to me. Do the attorneys of a man under arrest and heading for trial really want to raise the issue of who is guilty of practicing the law of the jungle?

Saturday, May 21, 2005

Apples and Oranges

China spends but a fraction on its military than the US does:

The report, by the think tank Rand Corp., said that in terms of purchasing power, China's People's Liberation Army — which includes the country's naval and air forces — spends between $69 billion and $78 billion a year, estimated in 2001 U.S. dollars — well below some estimates by the U.S. government and some outside experts.

Actual spending ranges between 2.3 percent and 2.8 percent of China's gross domestic product, the study found. That compares with the $430 billion spent by the United States on defense in 2004, or 3.9 percent of U.S. GDP.

This will be used by some to argue that the US spends way too much and that China can't challenge us.

This is completely wrong unless you want the comparison to be which nation can defend its homeland against attack from the other. But we aren't challenged by the prospect of fighting more than fifty miles from our coast the way China is.

We can project decisive combat power anywhere on the globe on short notice. The Afghanistan campaign that began in October 2001 is the prime example of going to the middle of nowhere to smash an enemy. This is what our spending buys us.

We can win without enduring heavy casualties. Again, this is because we substitute expensive technology for blood.

We can fight on the ground, in the air, in space, on the sea, and under the sea. This is what our spending buys.

And if it came to a war with China, we would be fighting over China and not the other way around. Short of nukes, China cannot even touch our soil. And we may have tools soon to contest that assumption.

So don't get so wrapped up in the defense spending comparisons. Would we really want much lower spending so that we could be discussing how the Pentagon is making plans to be able to fight more than 50 miles from our coasts?

Too Paranoid for Comfort

I've repeatedly noted that the North Koreans want nukes and their calls for us to assure them that we won't invade are silly. The Pillsbury Nuke Boy mistrusts us so much that if we invited them into NATO and called them brothers, the North Koreans wouldn't believe us. No words can reassure them.

So after meeting with the nutjobs of the north and telling them we really do recognize them as a sovereign state, are the North Koreans finally satisfied that they don't need nukes to prevent us from invading?

If you said 'yes' you simply haven't been paying attention. North Korea does not believe us:

"U.S. recognition of sovereignty is fake," the official KCNA news service quoted a North Korean Foreign Ministry official as saying.

The issue is important to the government, which has repeatedly said it is under threat of attack by the United States and frequently seeks reassurances of its status as an equal power.

"Fake." If any nation on Earth is the anti-EU, the body that thinks talking is everything, then North Korea is the anti-EU. Talks with them are worthless if the objective is to solve the problem.

And the issue of sovereignty is important? Only in the sense that it shows that North Korea cannot be soothed with words. They will never believe any words or guarantees. They only believe in the power of wielding nuclear weapons.

As long as we remember this, we will be fine. Squeeze the SOBs until they collapse. I'd much rather have South Korea and China cope with hungry refugees than cope with a nuclear North Korea.

Permanent Interests

On the Uzbek massacre and what the US should do, I had confessed that while horrified I did not think "doing something" about the crisis was a tier one issue.

But after reading various looks at the situation, I think we can't just hope everybody forgets about the killing and move on with the government as if nothing happened. This is still not a tier one issue but we cannot allow ourselves to be locked in with a regime that kills hundreds of innocents. This is not a situation where the Islamists are poised to take over. But by backing a corrupt regime, we are ensuring that those who don't want corruption will support the most effective opposition. And if that happens to be the Islamists, that will happen.

Some may say that the bigger interest of supporting a government that helped us in Afghanistan and where we have a military base trumps qualms over the regime's actions. But I think that the bigger interest of being on the side of freedom trumps a base. We will have to get along without our position in Uzbekistan if push comes to shove rather than side with this regime.

This article puts it well:

But the character of the Karimov regime can no longer be ignored in deference to the strategic usefulness of Uzbekistan. The Taliban has been defeated, and, with the liberation of Iraq, the nature of the global struggle to which the Bush administration is committed is no longer exclusively focused on the destruction of errorist redoubts. We are now committed to a democratizing effort that challenges tyranny along with terror as threats to peace and freedom around the world. The Uzbek regime that was part of the solution in 2001 is now, with its bloody suppression of protests, part of the problem.

Gratitude for help in the past cannot stay our hand from doing what is right. Our interests demand it. Karimov did not earn our favor forever. He earned a bit of time to square his rule with our ideals. He failed. That should be his problem and not a challenge for us to adjust to his rule. We must support the opposition and pressure Karimov to keep the troops in the barracks when there are peaceful protests.

And this change will be a good signal to Pakistan and Saudi Arabia. Past friendship is not a license to kill. Evolve and introduce democracy and liberty, or one day face our opposition.

That day has arrive for Karimov's Uzbekistan. We have no permanent friends in that region. We have permanent interests.

And The Euros Want a Pony, Too

The Euros will be happy if the Iranians will just agree to halt suspicious nuclear activity. The Euros still insist that they can convince the Iranian mullahs to give up their nuclear plans:

The European Union wants Iran to keep its uranium enrichment program frozen at least until its June 17 presidential election, after which it would hope to resume negotiations with Tehran, EU diplomats said.

But the diplomats, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the task will not be easy when the foreign ministers of France, Britain and Germany meet Iran's top nuclear negotiator, Hassan Rohani, in Europe next week.

"The question is: what will the Europeans offer the Iranians to keep them at the negotiating table? The Iranians will have to bring something concrete back with them," one diplomat said.

Diplomats said the meeting would probably be in Geneva on Wednesday, though both the date and venue could change.

Iran strongly denies U.S. accusations it is trying to build atomic weapons, saying its facilities are for civilian energy. It agreed to suspend enrichment activities in November as a trust-building measure following talks with the EU three.

But an exiled dissident on Friday accused Iran of smuggling in a material to use in weapons, including nuclear arms.

Alireza Jafarzadeh, who has reported accurately in the past on Iran's hidden nuclear facilities and activities, said the substance was a graphite compound, "ceramic matrix composite."

"Iran is smuggling it into the country for its nuclear weapons program," he told Reuters, saying his information came from "well-placed sources inside Iran."

The sad thing is that the Euros think the question is what they can offer the Iranians. As if the Iranians would stop their drive for a nuclear bomb for any monetary inducements. Oh, the Euros can convince the Iranians to accept those monetary inducements. Make no mistake on that part. And the Euros will count that as a major diplomatic victory. Until a few years go by and we point out that Iran has not in fact halted their progress toward a nuclear bomb.

Then the Euros will learn their lesson--and offer even more money.

Next Time, We Take Your Air

A Russian lake has disappeared. And though there might be a natural explanation for this, the locals know better:

Officials in Nizhegorodskaya region, on the Volga river east of Moscow, said water in the lake might have been sucked down into an underground water-course or cave system, but some villagers had more sinister explanations.

"I am thinking, well, America has finally got to us," said one old woman, as she sat on the ground outside her house.

That's right. We don't rest even after our enemies implode. No matter how long it takes, we'll get to you.

And next time we'll take your air.

Or perhaps our next president will issue a sincere apology for water-stealing and the world will go back to loving us again.

Again, Why Is This Man Still Alive?!

Muqtada al-Sadr, the worthless piece of breathing garbage that has risen up in armed revolt twice rather than face justice for his role in murder of a rival two years ago, is still at it. His followers are in the streets with guns:

The protests follow Muqtada al-Sadr's call Wednesday to reject the U.S. occupation of Iraq by painting Israeli and American flags on the ground outside mosques to be stepped on in protest raids against holy places.

The call came a day after U.S. and Iraqi forces detained 13 al-Sadr supporters during a raid on a Shiite mosque in Mahmoudiya, about 20 miles south of Baghdad. The troops confiscated a mortar system and assault rifle ammunition from the mosque, which the Iraqi forces entered but the Americans did not in line with U.S. military policy.

In Nasiriyah, about 200 miles southeast of Baghdad, al-Sadr supporters clashed with guards at the headquarters of Dhi Qar provincial governor, Aziz Abed Alwan.

The fighting broke out before noon as about 2,000 members of al-Sadr's al-Mahdi Amy marched toward the cleric's local office, which is near the governor's headquarters.

Armed men guarding the headquarters shot toward the crowd in an apparent bid to disperse it, prompting retaliatory fire from al-Sadr supporters.

So I have to ask yet again, why is this man still alive? What will it take to prompt the Iraqi government to deal with this enemy of Iraq? Can we not see that al-Sadr will keep coming back until he is six feet under?

I'm a reasonable man. I'll settle for arresting him and putting him away for a long time after a proper trial. But letting him run loose is courting trouble. One day he may learn from his defeats and engineer an outcome to his benefit.

Do not let that day arrive. He is not a joke. Al-Sadr is a threat. Deal with him.

Earning and Giving Respect

I noted that the real debate over the Newsweek toilet imbroglio is that Moslems have to earn our respect and not just insist that we give it. And that given their actions, they haven't earned it.

Friedman called for this approach:

Instead of sending Mr. McClellan out to flog Newsweek, President Bush should have said: "Let me say first to all Muslims that desecrating anyone's holy book is utterly wrong. These allegations will be investigated, and any such behavior will be punished. That is how we Americans intend to look in the mirror. But we think the Arab-Muslim world must also look in the mirror when it comes to how it has been behaving toward an even worse crime than the desecration of God's words, and that is the desecration of God's creations. In reaction to an unsubstantiated Newsweek story, Muslims killed 16 other Muslims in Afghanistan in rioting, and no one has raised a peep - as if it were a totally logical reaction. That is wrong.

"In Iraq, where Shiite, Kurdish and Sunni Muslims are struggling to build a pluralistic new order, other Muslims, claiming to act in the name of Allah, are indiscriminately butchering people, without a word of condemnation coming from Muslim spiritual or political leaders. I don't understand a concept of the sacred that says a book is more sacred than a human life. A holy book, whether the Bible or the Koran, is only holy to the extent that it shapes human life and behavior.

"Look, Newsweek may have violated journalistic rules, but what jihadist terrorists are doing in Iraq and Afghanistan - blowing up innocent Muslims struggling to build an alternative society to dictatorship - surely destroys the Koran. They are the real enemies of Islam because they are depriving Muslims of a better future. From what I know of Islam, it teaches that you show reverence to God by showing reverence for his creations, not just his words. Why don't your spiritual leaders say that? I am asking, because I want to know."

So there, I thought, the right approach is finally being broached.

But then, Victor Davis Hanson reminded me that while this is certainly part of the problem, given that we are in a war and must maintain the will to win, it isn't nearly the only problem we have. We in the West need to respect ourselves. Too many over here give respect and deferrence to the Moslem world though the Moslem world has not earned it. And those same people do not respect our own civilization:

In that sense, we can be as warped as the Afghan rioter. Westerners have their own delusions. We seem to think that our neat gadgets also equate with an ability to refashion human nature or that a fascist abroad needs to know how much we care about his hurt.

There is a sort of arrogance in the liberal West — the handmaiden to our own guilt and self-loathing — that strangely believes we are both to blame for the ills abroad and alone can solve them through handing out money. Almost all of the pathetic rhetoric of al Qaeda — "colonial exploitation," "American hegemony," or "blood for oil" — was as imported from the West as were the terrorists' bombs and communications.

Some Western intellectuals, I think, need a bin Laden to illustrate and confirm their nihilistic ideas about their own postmodern society, just as he needs them to explain why his culture's failure is not its own fault. So just as al Qaeda will always find an enabling Westerner to say, "You lashed out at us in frustration for your unfair treatment," so too a guilty Westerner will always find a compliant terrorist to boast, "Yes, we kill you for your sins." America was once a country that demolished Hitler and Tojo combined in less than four years and broke the nuclear Soviet Union — and now frets and whines that a few thousand deranged fascists want an apology.

Abroad, we battle Islamic fascists who hate us for our success and want to kill us with the tools of the modern world they despise. But at home, we are also at odds with our own privileged guilt-ridden aristocracy, whose very munificence has made them misunderstand why they are hated.

The Islamists insist, "We kill you for being soft." Westerners in response feel, "We are killed because we are not being soft enough."

And so they riot and kill in Afghanistan over a stupid rumor, and we seek to apologize that it somehow spread.

How truly sad.

It is more than sad. It is our great weakness. We have the power to win. And right now we have the will to win. But how thin is the margin to win? Even here where we have taken a hit on 9-11 that our more wobbly European allies have not, the commitment to win is not what I'd hoped. September 11 may have changed the margin just enough to fight but it did not "change everything" as was the common assumption in the fall of 2001. We have earned the right to respect ourselves, yet too many here are filled with guilt over small blemishes in a big picture of greatness and good.

I will not apologize for my country. For whatever our mistakes or even crimes are on occasion, we have done so much good in this world that we deserve to beat thugs that want to kill us in the millions and stone and oppress the survivors who deviate even a little from what they deem is acceptable.

Win first. Then, if we must, trot out the victims' studies professors to flog our victory secure in the fact that they are free to dispense the most silly rot about American guilt without consequences.

Great Game Possibilities

A little while ago I wrote that we need to redirect China from the sea where conflict with us over Taiwan is possible to the interior of Asia where conflict with us is less likely. Encouraging pipelines through Central Asia instead of sea lines of communication to the Middle East seemed like one way to make China think investing in a navy is pointless.

From my Janes email news tidbits is this:

China seeks to reduce its dependence on Strait of Malacca
Construction of the Chinese section of an oil pipeline from Kazakhstan to China began in March. It is only one of many strategies being looked at by Beijing to counter its serious concerns about the country's energy security and dependence on the Strait of Malacca. Ian Storey reports. [Jane's Intelligence Review - first posted to http://jir.janes.com - 11 April 2005]

On the one hand, you might say that having China less vulnerable to our Navy and Air Force in case of war is a bad thing. But as I noted in the post linked above, defeating China in a war is our worst good option. I'd rather avoid that war by making it less likely that China will seek war over Taiwan or anything else in the western Pacific.

If China builds overland pipelines, then at best China will gain its energy needs via pipelines that can be bombed and from sources that our Army can occupy.

At worst, if China can't build sufficient overland capacity to supply themselves, China will simply have divided the source of its oil imports between a long land route and a long sea route, neither of which is sufficient to fuel their economy. Then China will find that it is splitting its defense resources between defending a long land route through central Asia and a sea route through the Strait of Malacca.

If China has a weaker navy since they must build defenses for the central Asia pipelines, then they will have less capacity to take Taiwan or challenge the US Navy or Japan at sea. Plus, the Chinese will find they need to win campaigns over both routes to keep their economy humming along.

My guess is that we will be capable of interdicting both routes. Naval and air power will cut of sea imports and land and air power will interdict or cut off land routes.

And China will find themselves in the terrible position that the continental powers the Kaiser's Germany and Soviet Russia had in challenging a sea power--they won't have enough money to be supreme in both realms.

Now that's a Great Game.

Thursday, May 19, 2005

Kill 'Em All, Let Allah Sort Them Out

Some are expressing confusion about Zarqawi's motives in going on a killing spree in Iraq. Just how does he plan to win hearts and minds with this approach? His recent justification makes no sense when you try to figure strategy:

"God ordered us to attack the infidels by all means ... even if armed infidels and unintended victims — women and children — are killed together," the speaker said. "The priority is for jihad so anything that slows down jihad should be overcome."

The defense of the deadly attacks could be aimed at bolstering the ranks of the insurgency with Sunni Arabs who may have initially shied away over concerns about innocent civilians being killed. The speaker claimed that top religious scholars have repeatedly sanctioned suicide bombings.

If you are looking for strategy in our terms you won't find it.

Zarqawi says that "the priority is for jihad." This latest wave of bombings is simply about fighting. He wants to kill Americans and Iraq is simply his battlefield. If Iraqis get in the way to try and slow that down, well then they must be killed and overcome. Whether they are men or women, adult or children, civilian or military. And if they are Shia or Kurd that's just a bonus in his view.

The Sunni Baathists hope that the chaos Zarqawi sows will create an environment in which they can regain power but they also risk that the majority Shias and Kurds will go postal on the Sunnis if pushed too hard.

If the Sunnis were smart, they would take the opportunity offered by alQaeda's campaign of death to joint the Iraqi government and make the fight against the jihadis a national resistance.

Earn Our Respect

The main debate over the Koran-toilet story has not really begun. But it may be starting.

As the Newsweek side debate continues, I do hope that the history of other religions is recalled as we consider that Moslems rioted and killed over rumors that the Koran was flushed. Whether or not this rumor is true or false, or whether there were other isolated cases of disrespect or not, the reaction is important. So consider:
No on recalled, for example, that American Catholics lashed out in violent rampages in 1989, after photographer Andres Serrano's ''Piss Christ" -- a photograph of a crucifix submerged in urine -- was included in an exhibition subsidized by the National Endowment for the Arts. Or that they rioted in 1992 when singer Sinead O'Connor, appearing on ''Saturday Night Live," ripped up a photograph of Pope John Paul II.

There was no reminder that Jewish communities erupted in lethal violence in 2000, after Arabs demolished Joseph's Tomb, torching the ancient shrine and murdering a young rabbi who tried to save a Torah. And nobody noted that Buddhists went on a killing spree in 2001 in response to the destruction of two priceless, 1,500-year-old statues of Buddha by the Taliban government in Afghanistan.

Of course, there was a good reason all these bloody protests went unremembered in the coverage of the Newsweek affair: They never occurred.

And if you think that the Koran is so important that this should be excusable as opposed to the lame so-called outrages listed above, explain the whole Miss Universe riots a year or so ago. So it's flushing Korans and babes in one-piece swim suits that are too provocative to resist rioting?

And what outrages can the Moslem community ignore in their moderation? Well perhaps a different debate should take place. And it is one Moslems should debate amongst themselves:

What they need is a blunt reminder that the real desecration of Islam is not what some interrogator in Guantanamo might have done to the Koran. It is what totalitarian Muslim zealots have been doing to innocent human beings in the name of Islam. It is 9/11 and Beslan and Bali and Daniel Pearl and the USS Cole. It is trains in Madrid and schoolbuses in Israel and an ''insurgency" in Iraq that slaughters Muslims as they pray and vote and line up for work. It is Hamas and Al Qaeda and sermons filled with infidel-hatred and exhortations to ''martyrdom." But what disgraces Islam above all is the vast majority of the planet's Muslims saying nothing and doing nothing about the jihadist cancer eating away at their religion. It is Free Muslims Against Terrorism, a pro-democracy organization, calling on Muslims and Middle Easterners to ''converge on our nation's capital for a rally against terrorism" -- and having only 50 people show up.

Yes, Islam is disrespected. That will only change when throngs of passionate Muslims show up for rallies against terrorism, and when rabble-rousers trying to gin up a riot over a defiled Koran can't get the time of day.

Now sure, given that we are at war and that our enemies can call on a bunch of whackjobs who will kill at the drop of a hat, Newsweek should have exercised a little restraint. But in a normal world, this error would have been met with some indignation and a call to investigage by Moslem leaders instead of calls for blood.

Now that I'd respect.

I May Not be a Paul Krugman, But ...

Iran claims that it wants the complete nuclear fuel cycle technology because they need it for economic development. They do this with a straight face, too. Sadly, the Euros nod earnestly as the mullahs say this, deeply touched by the earnest way the Iranians are racing to both gain nuclear technology and negotiate with the Euros for... For ... what? Well it doesn't make sense as I start to write it, but the conferences are pretty nice.

Now I'm no Enron-employed economist or anything (or even a film critic), but Iran's single-minded focus to gain nuclear technology for economic reasons makes no sense when the Iranians say this:

"We don't want to be subject to sanctions. We don't want to go to the U.N. Security Council," Vice President Gholamreza Aghazadeh told state-run television. "But if it happens, our leaders and our people will resist as necessary. They will pay the price of sanctions, but I don't believe they will give up these activities."

And just how does it make sense to endure whatever penalties the UN will impose in order to gain the economic benefits of nuclear power? Perhaps UN sanctions are far more ineffective than I thought or nuclear-generated electricity is far more profitable than I thought, but my guess is Iran will pay a fairly sizable economic price if sanctions are put in place and enforced by our Navy.

Of course, if the Iranians want nuclear weapons, this whole exercise becomes completely understandable.

Memo to Europe: Iran wants nukes.

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

Who Was Trying to Change the Spanish Government?

This seems just too bizarre to be true but Gaffney isn't a whacko:

On May 16, the Madrid daily El Mundo published a remarkable editorial that draws upon the paper’s ongoing investigation and contains information potentially as explosive as the 3/11 attacks themselves: El Mundo suggests that, almost immediately after the 12 bombs went off in one of the city’s busiest train stations, some in the Spanish police force fabricated evidence, then swiftly hyped it to the domestic and international press. The object seems to have been to support the oppositions’ claims that Islamists angry over the government’s support for the war in Iraq were responsible for the attacks.

At worst, the information uncovered by El Mundo could mean that the deadly bombing was actually perpetrated with the complicity of the same Spanish police bomb squad, Tedax, that was subsequently charged with investigating the crime.

Either way, if the leads published in recent days pan out, it would appear that Spain’s 2004 elections were stolen by terrorists, alright. But the terrorist operation that brought the socialists to power may have been an inside job — in effect, a coup perpetrated by some of the same authorities who are responsible for preventing terror. Explosive stuff, if true. But all preliminary and speculative right now.

I'm certainly going to pay attention to this. Call me skeptical for now. This just smells of French theories of how we bombed the World Trade Center and the Pentagon and framed bin Laden. How crazed would the Spanish have to be to have actually conspired to kill their own people to discredit the conservative government?

I certainly don't want this to be true. That would be highly disturbing.

Dissident Dissonance

It is an article of faith among those here opposed to American foreign policy that it is impossible for our government to support democratic movements against dictatorial governments. Any sign of support will "taint" the democrats as our stooges and play into the repressive government's hands. Indeed, the people themselves will look at local democrats with suspicion if America helps the democrats.

This makes sense when you are someone who despises America and who sees everything America does as uniquely evil. Why of course the foreigners would hate American support for democracy in their country! Obviously we'd be up to no good and who would want to invite America in to control their resources?

The latest from Syria should have a predictable story line under this thinking:

Beset by U.S. attempts to isolate his country and facing popular expectations of change, Syrian President Bashar Assad will move to begin legalizing political parties, purge the ruling Baath Party, sponsor free municipal elections in 2007 and formally endorse a market economy, according to officials, diplomats and analysts.

Assad's five-year-old government is heralding the reforms as a turning point in a long-promised campaign of liberalizing a state that, while far less dictatorial than Iraq under Saddam Hussein, remains one of the region's most repressive. His officials see the moves, however tentative and drawn out, as the start of a transitional period that will lead to a more liberal, democratic Syria.

So when Syria appears under pressure after pulling its troops from Lebanon and Syrian dissidents are making demands for more freedom, it should be obvious that we should have nothing to do with supporting democracy. We'd only doom the fragile democracy movement in Syria to a quick death as the people turn to the government as the natural voice of the people opposed to American machinations.

Yet as much as this makes sense from the Newsweekian distrust America perspective, it doesn't seem to be so:

Emboldened opposition leaders, many of whom openly support pressure by the United States even if they mistrust its intentions, said the measures were the last gasp of a government staggering after its hasty and embarrassing troop withdrawal last month from neighboring Lebanon.

We shouldn't be shy about supporting opponents of despotic regimes. Ignore the people who dream of seceding with their blue states or plan to move to Canada for principled, clean government (ok, stop laughing).

Perhaps our Left should explain to the foreign oppressed that they need to happily accept the boot smashing their faces forever lest America get any credit. One must have priorities, mustn't one?