Sunday, July 31, 2005

Unlike His Future Colleagues?

I hope President Bush makes a recess appointment of John Bolton to the UN. It's about time we had a US rep to the UN and not the other way around.

The pro-UN people are living in a dreamworld if they think that the UN can go on as is. If Bolton can push change at the UN, it may regain prestige and influence in its proper spheres. If a representative to the UN who fawns over Turtle Bay is sent, the body will lose support of the American people and it will simply be ignored and bypassed even more. Some still don't want Bolton and protest about a recess appointment:

"That's not what you want to send up, a person who doesn't have the confidence of the Congress and so many people who've urged that he not be sent up to do that job," said Dodd, D-Conn., on "Fox News Sunday."

The idea that Bolton will lack the confidence of the Senate is just silly. I believe that a majority would confirm Bolton, but the minority is fillibustering.

And even if a majority would not vote to confirm Bolton, so what? He has the confidence of the president and that's enough.

Or are Bolton critics claiming that more than a small minority of representatives to the UN have been ratified by freely elected legislative bodies? Is Senator Dodd really arguing that the representatives from Zimbabwe or China have more legitimacy than Bolton will have?

Send Bolton. I like him and tend not to like the people squawking the most about him. So it's a twofer as far as I'm concerned.

Saturday, July 30, 2005

Spreading Wings

The bird flu may be building up inside China waiting to burst forth on an unprepared world behind a cloak of communist secrecy.

Now there is an outbreak in Siberia:

The newspaper Kommersant quoted the state veterinary service as saying laboratory experts had found the H5N1 strain in samples from the Novosibirsk region, where an outbreak of bird flu was reported last week.

Bird flu is split into strains such as H5 and H7, which in turn have nine different subtypes. H5N1 subtype is highly pathogenic and can be passed from birds to humans, although there have been no known cases of human-human transmission.

More than 50 people have died in Asia from H5N1 since late 2003, raising fears it could mutate and form the basis of a new global epidemic.

Officials were not immediately available for comment. There have been no reports about people contracting bird flu.

Itar-Tass news agency quoted the deputy regional governor as saying the situation was under control after a quarantine had been imposed in four districts of the Novosibirsk region where about 1,300 farm birds had died.

With Chinese legal and illegal immigrants flooding Russia's Far East, is this possibly a sign that the flu is breaking loose? The Russians are establishing a quarantine but given the poor controls on the movement of people in the area, I have little confidence that this can be stopped there.

If our government isn't stockpiling medicines to innoculate against the flu and to treat it, and preparing procedures to cope, this should be a warning sign to move fast.

Been a long time since we had a really lethal pandemic. Our people just don't know how to deal with this once-common situation anymore. We could have difficulty coping.

And just how will the Chinese people react when they realize their communist government let this problem grow to dangerous levels in secrecy? Will the mandate from heaven be withdrawn?

UPDATE: Here's an article thinking about what would be necessary. Quarantines and travel restrictions in the outbreak areas would be necessary:

To work, they said such an emergency plan must be enacted within two days and the spread of the virus limited to a few dozen cases, even though communications in much of the region are rudimentary and entire economies and transportation networks could be disrupted.

Of course, as I said, if communist secrecy keeps us from finding out early, how doe we rapidly put an emergency plan into effect?

Peking's Posse

China is a buddy to the horrible regimes of Burma, Sudan, Venezuela, and Iran. And China is strengthening its ties to Zimbabwe as the West finally starts to notice that Mugabe is a bloodthirsty thug.

Amazing who thug states turn to when the going gets rough. And China obliges. It is a telling trend that China can only get good friends among the world's outcasts. China may gain short term advantages by doing this but I have to believe that this shows China's weakness in appealing for allies. We stand on the side of freedom. Peking stands with those who would run down with tanks the people seeking freedom.

China has chosen poorly. As communists consistently do.

Where is the Fanaticism?

British police, as well as authorities in other countries, continue to arrest people suspected of being involved in the London terrorist bombings.

British authorities warn that people may still be out there plotting more attacks:

Scotland Yard police headquarters appealed to the public to remain vigilant, fearing further terrorist cells could be planning an attack. Detectives were grilling the three men captured in England, hoping to learn who was behind the July 7 and July 21 bombers, and how many others could still be out there.

What puzzles me is that these thugs are apparently going meekly into custody. Why aren't these jihadi Islamist fanatics going down in a blaze of glory when surrounded? Why are they running and apparently waiting for the police to nab them? Why aren't they taking whatever weapons they have and trying to take down as many infidels as they can before they die? Detonate a bomb. Go on a shooting spree. Stab the sick, young or elderly if that is all they can do.

We are dealing with nutjobs but apparently not with fully committed nutjobs who have lost all thoughts of self preservation in their hatred of the West. This should be a good sign, I should think.

Family Honor

Iran remains a threat as a rabid supporter of terrorism, with a president who has one of the students responsible for holding America hostage twenty-five years ago, and is pursuing nuclear-tipped missiles. I have to believe that President Bush is serious about stopping this Axis of Evil member. I cannot believe he has decided to just let this regime go on and simply cope with it defensively. On occasion, the president will make a statement in support of democracy in Iran but many proponents of dealing with Iran are upset the president doesn't do or say more. Like I said, I think the president will deal with Iran. But a family moral failing is at work here, I think.

In the discussion of whether America made a mistake in 1991 by halting in southern Iraq rather than driving on Baghdad to "finish the job" I can't say we made a mistake. Yes, it would have been nice if we had been able to knock of Saddam back then. But could we have? Saddam would have used the chemical weapons he still possessed. His regime may have fought in an insurrection even harder then than today. And the American people may not have supported casualties fighting in Iraq without the experience of 9-11 to motivate us to destroy enemies before they can do worse to us. Still, in 1991 the Iraqis would not have had the experience of evading sanctions and preparing for an insurrection that has allowed them to fight on after the fall of Baghdad. And the Shias would have been readier to actually rise up in support of our forces instead of being too worried we'd abandon them as they were in 2003.

The last factor is still relevant. In 1991, President Bush 41 urged the Kurds and Shias to rise up. The Shias were slaughtered for their troubles and we stood by and watched though we had forces there capable of stopping Saddam's thugs:

Summer 2004 — I had this conversation with a Shia translator. It was late in the evening– the early hours of the morning, actually. I’d put in a long, twenty hour day. I was walking to a latrine and saw the man standing there, smoking a cigarette and thinking. He’d had a long day, too. “Col Bay, I have a question for you. What do you do when you write a novel?” He’d seen a copy of my latest novel, The Wrong Side of Brightness.

I told him that the beginning of that book was a dilemma, and an ironic one, considering that I was back in uniform and serving in Iraq. “I know why we didn’t finish Desert Storm (in ‘91), but when the Republican Guard began slaughtering Shia farmers and killing the Kurds, and we sat–what’s the word? Moral torsion? A friend of mine was commanding a mech infantry battalion just south of one of those villages and he said they knew what was happening. They followed some of it on their field radios. Saw some smoke. He said it was the toughest thing he’d ever done as a soldier, to sit there as those thugs came back into those villages and committed murder.”

The translator’s eyes squeezed as he took a long draw on the cigarette. “Yes, that happened,” he said. “I am Shia.”

President Bush 43 lives with the knowledge that his father let the Shia of Iraq die in the tens of thousands rather than support them. I believe he will do something about Iran. Our Strategic Petroleum Reserve will be full next month. Perhaps even the Europeans are learning that Iran will not give up nukes. And we've had plenty of time to work on a plan to take advantage of the fact that Iranians hate their government and are favorable to the US.

But I believe that President Bush 43 does not wish to encourage a revolt until we are ready to intervene to prevent the Tehran regime from slaughtering the people in the streets as the mullahs will do. They are no Shah who will hold back at the critical moment and withhold the goons. Abandoning the Shias of Iraq is a stain on the Bush family and I do not believe Bush 43 wishes to continue that record with another group of Shias.

So as the fall approaches, if we are serious about ending the mullah regime threat and our preparations are complete, watch for administration talk to heat up. If it does, action is coming. I don't think we will make hollow threats or promises to the Iranian people.

Strong Horse

As I've surely mentioned before, I deride the idea that going after our enemies abroad--starting with Afghanistan under the Taliban in 2001 and continuing through Iraq today (and hopefully Iran tomorrow)--was falling into the brilliant trap of Osama bin Laden. Sure, Osama might have thought we'd ineffectively flail about after 9-11 and enrage Moslems who saw power without will to use it, but instead Osama was routed from his mountain sanctuary and is now in hiding. His plotting and killing are done at lower levels now. And Saddam's regime is destroyed.

And what of the rage that was to follow our attack on the Taliban? Or, the Left assures us, from the "misbegotten" war in Iraq?

Let's see.

Taliban defeated.

Saddam on trial.

Saudis and Pakistanis serious about killing Islamists in their midst who they now see as threats to the regimes. Sure, these governments haven't addressed root causes but at least they feel threatened enough to try and kill the enemy finally.

Libya gives up nukes.

Lebanon ejects Syrian occupation force.

Moslem opinion of America and democracy increasing; and opinion of terrorism decreasing.

North American Moslems issue fatwah against terrorism.

And of course, where we've sent our soldiers we've created allies to fight Islamists and not more Islamist jihadis:

Iraqi guardsmen are fighting al Qaedists as Afghans die in firefights with Taliban remnants. Note well that at the loci of American democratizing presence in Afghanistan and Iraq, there are few local Iraqis and Afghans — as there are few Turkish or Indian Muslims — who are eager for global jihad against the West. The killers instead flock from elsewhere to those new nations to stop the experiment before it spreads. Give dictatorial Pakistan or Egypt billions, and we get ever more terrorists; give the Iraqis and Afghans their freedom and their citizens are unlikely to show up in London and Madrid blowing up civilians, but rather busy at home killing jihadists.

Not a bad run.

Understanding Our Jihadi Enemy

As long as our jihadi enemies are trying to kill us my desire to "understand" them extends only as far as understanding where they are so we can kill them faster. The only good jihadi is a dead jihadi, to borrow a concept, and any jihadi left living this year is just one more to kill next year.

Nonetheless, those who deny we are at war insist on looking for reasons why they hate us and kill us. But those attempts are at heart just based on the idea that we did something to deserve this and we have but to identify it and make amends.

But really, the jihadis make no secret of their goals (via Real Clear Politics):

In nearly all cases, the jihadi terrorists have a patently self-evident ambition: to establish a world dominated by Muslims, Islam and the sharia. Or, again to cite the Daily Telegraph, their real project is the extension of Islamic territory across the globe and the establishment of a worldwide caliphate founded on sharia.

Refusal to understand this simple and direct goal is based on the Leftist idea that we must have provoked the murderous rage we fight. The simple explanation provided by our enemies makes no sense if you "properly" understand that our actions caused the attacks of 9-11 and all the other bloodlettings and beheadings we've witnessed over the last several decades.

Understanding our enemies turns out to be surprisingly simple, eh?


Ok, this isn't really on topic but it is a really foreign. Astronomers have found another planet way beyond Pluto:

The unnamed object — the farthest-known object in the solar system — is currently 9 billion miles away from the sun, or about three times Pluto's current distance from the sun. Astronomers do not know its exact size, but its brightness shows that it is at least as large as Pluto and could be up to 1 1/2 times bigger.

Of course, this calls into question whether Pluto should be considered a planet at all.

So do we have ten planets or eight?

Friday, July 29, 2005

Third War of the British Succession

Belmont Club has a post on our new role in stabilizing Central Asia. The bases established to overthrow the Taliban and smash al Qaeda are well suited to making sure we can project power anywhere on the globe.

This reminded me of an old post from my old site. I'll just reprint it here instead of linking (original here so you can see it is unchanged):

"The Third War of the British Succession" (Posted February 7, 2003)

In 1968, the British announced that they would withdraw their forces from "east of Suez." The British had long been the stabilizing outside power in the Gulf region but could no longer afford the imperial mission. Stability was still needed after 1971, but the United States, still damaged by the Vietnam War and the Soviet Union's apparent growing strength, was in no position to fill the vacuum. The question of who would succeed Britain in the role of stabilizer was not answered with any certainty for three decades, but may now finally be known. With American-led occupation of Iraq pending, we may see the end of the period of instability that has developed since the British withdrew from the Gulf region. America will succeed Britain. Reluctantly, but with the growing belief that there is no alternative, America is going east of Suez to stay.

During the 1970s, America attempted to fill the vacuum left after British withdrawal by proxy—arming the Shah's Iran to the teeth. As the 1970s closed, an Islamic revolution brought Khomeini to power and sent Iran into chaos and anti-Americanism. The United States announced it would create a Rapid Deployment Force to be able to deter invaders of the region, but that force was merely a notion. With Britain gone and America's proxy dead, there was no stabilizer to enforce the status quo.

Into that vacuum entered Iraq. Eager to end the humiliation of Iran bending Iraq to Tehran's will, Iraq in 1980 initiated the First War of the British Succession. Iraq aimed to humble Iran and seize its Khuzestan oil province leading to domination of the Gulf, the Arab world, and the larger non-aligned movement in the Third World. Yet America backed Iraq with great reluctance, starting with a "tilt" in 1982, viewing Iran as the greater evil and so tried to give Iraq enough assistance to avoid losing. America intervened in the latter part of the war directly, effectively escorting Iraqi-bound traffic to and from Kuwait to protect them from Iranian attacks. From behind this shield, the Iraqis struck Iranian tankers. The war that Iraq initiated against Iran did not end until 1988. By the end of that period, when Iranian battlefield resistance unexpectedly collapsed, Iraq was a power with which to be reckoned.

During that war, with an objectionable state, Iraq, fighting our former client, Iran, America sought to build up Saudi Arabia as our new bulwark of stability. Modern American arms flowed to Riyadh, which ultimately proved to be nothing but expensive status symbols for the Saudis. Our Rapid Deployment Force began to flesh out and our Army began to look beyond the Cold War confrontation lines at the DMZ in Korea and Fulda Gap in Germany.

The Second War of the British Succession began in 1990 with Iraq's invasion of Kuwait. American-led forces, freed from the Cold War battle line in Europe, drove the Iraqis out of Kuwait in an overwhelming display of American military prowess that decimated the Iraqi military in only 100 hours of ground offensive. Yet the time it took us to deploy our military to the Gulf was a sobering reminder of the difficulty of policing the region from a distance, where our only speedy response could be nuclear. Our Rapid Deployment Force had not become rapid enough. Although we hoped Saddam's defeat would lead to his downfall, he managed to fight off his enemies and survive. Over the next dozen years, Saddam thwarted inspections to eliminate his weapons of mass destruction and tightened his grip on power with ever more brutal methods. His quest for glory had been checked but as long as he lived, he could hope he would get his chance to lead Iraqis to their rightful place in history, as he saw it. Although we had hoped to smash Saddam and reverse his invasion of Kuwait, we found we were unable to return our presence to the status quo ante. We were dragged into the Gulf to watch Saddam and prepared to rush troops to the new front should Saddam role south again. There was no end in sight to our military presence, which tried to bring stability to a region with despots who channeled local anger about their homegrown dictators against America. We were in the worst of both worlds. We were unable to withdraw yet unwilling to force real change that would lessen anti-Americanism.

Saddam's brutality, ambition, and lust for nuclear weapons have led the United States to finally believe that enough was enough. September 11 demonstrated how much Islamists hate us and reminded us of the price we might pay should Saddam gain the world's most horrible weapons.

The Third War of the British Succession will begin soon. Perhaps, I believe, by the 14th or 15th of February. Perhaps a little later. But the invasion is coming. After destroying Saddam's war machine, we will settle in to root out the banned weapons programs and eliminate the apparatus of terror that governs Iraq today. We will be entrenched in Central Asia, with forces there and in Afghanistan and Pakistan. We will be present in NATO Turkey and in the Gulf states. We will have a presence in Egypt and Eritrea. Israel will remain an ally and we will of course, temporarily occupy Iraq. Only in Saudi Arabia will we likely reduce our footprint to a level that will end that irritant to Islamists. With our influence established in a ring around the Gulf and in Iraq, we will have the job of creating stability where none has existed for more than three decades. Success is not guaranteed. I don't know if it is even likely. But continuing on with the old status quo is unacceptable. We must try to change the region for the better instead of managing its explosive neuroses.

Mostly, I hope that this Third War of the British Succession will be the last. If the Iranians rise up on their own to depose the thugreocracy that misrules them, we may have hope that this terrible period will end.

Thursday, July 28, 2005

Clash of Civilizations

Opponents of the Iraq War claim that the war is enraging Moslems and making things worse.

But if so, opinion polls of ordinary Moslems wouldn't show positive movement.

And Moslem leaders should be foaming at the mouth with "kill the infidel" invective.

Sadly for the view that fighting back just makes our enemies madder, Moslem leaders seem to be getting on board the idea that a clash of civilizations includes the vast majority of Moslems fighting on our side against the jihadi minority that kills in the majority's name. An American and Canadian Moslem group has spoken out against terrorism:

In the statement, called a fatwa, the 18-member Fiqh Council of North America wrote that people who commit terrorism in the name of Islam were "criminals, not`martyrs.'"

"There is no justification in Islam for extremism or terrorism," the scholars wrote. "Targeting civilians' life and property through suicide bombings or any other method of attack is haram — or forbidden."

This is good. One day, if the worst happens and jihadis detonate a WMD in a Western city, we will need the confidence that the majority of Moslems are clearly opposed to the nutjobs. If not, the pressure to target Islam as a religion may be too difficult to withstand. This reaction would be a mistake, I think, but it would be a natural reaction should Islam as an institition decide to sit out the war as neutrals.

So good for the Fiqh Council of North America. This is a needed public statement.

And it is a good reminder that fighting back when attacked is a good thing. It does not make things worse as some would have us believe.

Unless deep down you believe we don't deserve to win, that is.

Lava Flow

Earlier I wrote that preventing jihadis from entering Iraq was a problem but that sealing the border was not the answer. We aren't trying to stop organized military units from entering. Or trucks with weapons and ammo. We need to halt individuals from entering Iraq. Individuals in civilian garb and unarmed. Stopping such people is just too tough to do. If units or weapons were the problem then beefing up border defenses would be the answer.

So the new Iraqi government is laying down a threat to Syria to stop letting jihadis travel freely through Syria to kill Iraqis:

Iraq's defense minister criticized Syria on Tuesday for ignoring Iraqi demands "to stop the infiltration of terrorists."

The official, Saadoun al-Dulaimi, singled out Iraq's western neighbor as among states that are slack on stopping the flow of militants into his country.

"When the lava of the exploding volcano of Iraq overflows, it will first hit Damascus," al-Dulaimi warned during a news conference to discuss an upcoming nationwide security plan.

He said militants are coming into Iraq from Syria via three routes, with the intent of targeting the Baghdad area.

The first one is in the far north, passing through Tal Afar, south into Baiji and Kirkuk and then into Baghdad.

The second route is along the Euphrates River, from the border town of Qaim into Falluja, west of the capital.

From there, fighters proceed to other places -- such as Abu Ghraib outside Baghdad and the "Triangle of Death" towns south of the capital -- Yusifiya, Latifiya and Mahmoudiya.

The third course is near Iraq's border with Syria and Jordan. Al-Dulaimi said most car bombers use this route, a desert stretch easy to penetrate.

Iraq is growing in strength and in time, will have the ability to strike at Syria behind a shield of American military power (much like the Iraqis struck Iranian oil tankers behind the shield of the American-led convoys in the Persian Gulf in 1987-1988 during the Iran-Iraq War). In less than a decade, if young Assad is still in charge, Iraq will have a US-trained military able to thrash the Syrian army on its own.

Damascus best watch the volcano to their east. They've been warned they are in the lava path.

No, No, No. It's Not You--It's Me. Really

So the 9-11 plot was supposed to include Australian, British, and Indian targets.

Isn't it amazing how Iraq caused jihadi nutballs to murder us? I mean, that's what the anti-war Left says. Leave Iraq and they'll love us. And now we know three other countries may have been targets. Surely the reality-based community will be able to fit in new epicycles to explain this little perturbation of their predicted paths.

Or maybe--just maybe--it really is their problem and not ours. Maybe we didn't do anything in particular to "cause" their wrath. Sure, some action will be the trigger and they will cite it, but it is not a "cause" we should dignify by accepting. Just because a rapist sees a woman dressed seductively, thus triggering an attack, does not mean the victim "caused" the attack. Islamists and their apologists shouldn't be allowed to get away with the "you made me hit you" defense.

Iraq. Kashmir. Palestinians. East Timor. Britney Spear's navel. Whatever.

Too Good To Be True?

Unrest and discontent in Cuba?

Record heat and power cuts of 12 hours or more a day led to scattered protests, vandalism and rare anti-Castro graffiti this summer, veteran human rights activist Elizardo Sanchez said.

Authorities have responded by mobilising rapid deployment brigades of militant supporters to disperse pockets of protest with batons, he and other dissidents said.

"I have not seen such widespread discontent in four decades," said Mr Sanchez, head of the Cuban Commission for Human Rights.

The ravages of hurricane Dennis, which killed 16 people and destroyed thousands of houses in its July 7-8 rampage through Cuba, further undermined trust in the government's ability to resolve crucial social problems, he said.

Is it too much to hope that Axis of El Vil founding member Fidel Castro will not succeed in dying peacefully in bed? Cosmic justice would seem to demand that Castro see his people storm his palace (and hopefully Danny Glover and Steven Spielberg will be there too).

I just don't have a feel for the stability of the regime. It has lasted an ungodly long time. But past performance is no guarantee of future earnings, as they say. So no predictions. Just fingers crossed.

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Talk, Talk. Die, Die.

North Korea has finally returned to nuclear talks but has demands:

North Korea said Wednesday it would give up its nuclear weapons only after the alleged U.S. atomic threat is removed from the divided peninsula and relations with the United States are normalized, according to a South Korean report.

North Korea has problems that interfere with those demands:

"People are gathering wild food, grasses, bracken (ferns), acorns," Bourke said after returning Monday from a three-week trip to the North. "I've seen people going up into the hills with sacks and coming down with sacks of grass and picking through seaweed."

North Korea has relied on foreign aid to feed its 23 million people since disclosing in the mid-1990s that its government-run farm system had collapsed following decades of mismanagement and the loss of Soviet subsidies.

So let the talks drag on. I don't care. We can't let the North Koreans succeed in holding their own people hostage confident that we will care more for their welfare and so give in to save them.

In time, we will have missile defenses. In time, our Army won't be busy in Iraq. In time, even the South Koreans may start to worry about Pyongyang if the North rattles sabres to get our attention.

So when the Pillsbury Nuke Boy issues more threats, we and the Japanese should just smile and nod--and keep on talking. We have no business guaranteeing the survival of such a beastly regime as North Korea demands we do. If North Korea wants to survive, they need to start addressing our security worries.

In the end, starving people may well rise up because they'll have no fears of consequences. At worst, they will be too weak to be much of a threat to South Korea.

Oh, and explain to me again why a nutjob who starves his people to build nuclear-tipped missiles logically will give up those nuclear-tipped missiles in order to get money to feed his people. I mean, under the circumstances I'm fairly unclear on why we think any deal would work.

Coalition of the Willing

Although I was unhappy with the Spanish government for pulling out of Iraq after the Madrid bombings, I also noted that I tried to look at the long run. Over a long war, nations will rise and fall in their determination to fight jihadi terrorism and the sick ideology that spawned it. Only we are really critical to providing continuity. So I hoped Spain would one day rejoin the coalition of the willing in some capacity greater than law enforcement within Spain.

Is this the beginning of a return to combatant status?

British Prime Minister Tony Blair said he discussed with his Spanish counterpart Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero creating an "alliance of civilizations" between Western and Muslim countries in the fight against terror.

The details need fleshing out, the article says. But perhaps Zapatero finally realizes that the Reconquista predates Iraq as a reason for jihadis to hate Spain. And I assume that even Zapatero won't withdraw from Spain.

Patient Zero

Winds of Change raises an alarm over a threat to our health and well being that we may not be able to preempt--just cope with as best we can:

Some of our readers will recall (a) China's dismal record of inaction and cover-up with SARS; (b) The 1918 Spanish Flu pandemic that killed 20-50 million people; (c ) Winds' article about global democracy promotion as a global development policy; it pointed out the inherent and inevitable failings of planned/ authoritarian socieites, and specifically noted their inability to react to things like avian flu pandemics as a key example of what we were talking about.

It seems that the Chinese government is not being very cooperative or forthcoming about even admitting a problem.

When threats are so varied, can we just stand at our borders inspecting for nukes, terrorists, and bugs? No. Passive defenses, like fixed fortifications, are monuments to the stupidity of man. On so many fronts, we have to push our first line of defense into the sources of these threats.

So, when a forward defense against a pandemic falters on the paranoid secrecy of a closed communist state like China, what do we do?

UPDATE: More Chinese secrecy in the face of disease:

A total of 174 confirmed or suspected cases have been linked to the bacteria streptococcus suis in China's southwestern Sichuan province, where farmers who handled or butchered infected pigs have been sickened in dozens of villages and towns. Symptoms include nausea, fever, vomiting, and bleeding under the skin.

Sichuan authorities have ordered local journalists to stay away from locations where the disease surfaced, and told newspapers to instead carry stories as issued by the official Xinhua News Agency, including the headline, Hong Kong's Ming Pao Daily News reported.Calls to Sichuan's provincial government headquarters in Chengdu seeking confirmation of the media ban went unanswered.

Beijing was heavily criticized during its SARS outbreak for its reluctance to release information.

As the source for most of our flu viruses, China's refusal to admit outbreaks is a threat to us.

I wonder whether there has ever been a war fought to keep disease from spreading. Not that we could do that with China. But it is an interesting case. If a small nation was incubating terrible diseases through its failure to exercise the powers and responsibilities of a government, would we intervene to put their house in order? Would the UN authorize it?

All I'm saying is that this is another area where it would be awfully nice if China was a democracy and not the communist thug state it is (and no, having a form of state capitalism for its economic foundation doesn't erase the fact that the government is communist).

What About Europe?

The Pentagon has announced its new deployment of 43 planned brigade combat teams. This is where they will be:

  1. Fort Benning, Ga. - 1 Brigade Combat Team
  2. Fort Bliss, Texas - 4 Brigade Combat Teams
  3. Fort Bragg, N.C, - 4 Brigade Combat Teams
  4. Fort Campbell, KY - 4 Brigade Combat Teams
  5. Fort Carson, Colo. - 4 Brigade Combat Teams
  6. Fort Drum, N.Y. - 3 Brigade Combat Teams
  7. Fort Hood, Texas - 5 Brigade Combat Teams
  8. Fort Knox, Ky. - 1 Brigade Combat Team
  9. Fort Lewis, Wash. - 3 Brigade Combat Teams (Stryker)
  10. Fort Polk, La. - 1 Brigade Combat Team
  11. Fort Richardson, Alaska - 1 Brigade Combat Team
  12. Fort Riley, Kan. - 3 Brigade Combat Teams
  13. Fort Stewart, Ga. - 3 Brigade Combat Teams
  14. Fort Wainwright, Alaska - 1 Brigade Combat Team
  15. Schofield Barracks, Hawaii - 2 Brigade Combat Teams (Stryker)
  16. Korea - 1 Brigade Combat Team
  17. Germany - 1 Brigade Combat Team (Stryker)
  18. Italy - 1 Brigade Combat Team

I'm not happy that only two brigades will be stationed in Europe. The arc of crisis from West Africa to Central Asia is well within range of Europe-based forces. I'd rather see four BCTs under one of our new divisions (which seem to act as corps do now). A Stryker brigade in Germany and a parachute brigade (I assume) in Italy are good. But this is a small force.

Perhaps with a Marine as commander of European Command, we will deploy Marines to Europe? With recent expansion, assume 9 regimental combat team equivalents:

  1. Okinawa - 2 RCTs
  2. California - 2 RCTs
  3. North Carolina - 3 RCTs
  4. Europe - 2 RCTs

I want the East Coast MEF full up for Cuba and Venezuela contingencies. Four RCTs will be good for the Pacific. And perhaps for Europe we can put 1 RCT in Britain and another in Spain or Italy.

Just a thought. I haven't heard about Marine Corps deployment changes and I hate to pull so many troops out of Europe. Maybe the Marines could fill the gap?

UPDATE: Here's more information and a map of the new basing. Please tell me that we will keep two or three heavy brigade sets of equipment in Europe just in case.

UPDATE 2: I would be derelict in my duty if I didn't link to my article about US Army Europe.

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

My Withering Glare of Disapproval

Why is that I just don't fully trust the Brookings Institution when it comes to anything defense-related?

This article casts some doubts on Rumsfeld's tenure. In truth, though I admire the SecDef, as a proponent of landpower I worry about his commitment to the Army. As the saying goes, air superiority is when my soldier is standing on your airfield. But I'm not worried right now about Rumsfeld and the Army. Reality on the ground in Iraq has restrained his early theoretical excesses, I think.

But the mistrust of Brookings leaps up in my when I read this in the article:

Rumsfeld's plans are hardly perfect. He has taken criticism for sending an underequipped, under-trained fighting force to police post-war Iraq[.]

Huh? What? Did I miss something? Is this serious? Can we be talking about the same OIF-1 force that settled in after Baghdad fell? Or was OIF-2 deficient in some way? Well let's look, shall we?

Was 3rd ID underequipped or under-trained?

Was 1 MEF underequipped or under-trained?

How about that high-tech testbed 4th ID?

Perhaps 1st AD?

2nd Light Cavalry Regiment?

Was 3rd ACR an armed mob?

Were the Screaming Eagles of the 101st Air Assault Division mere amateurs?

Perhaps the brigade of the 82nd AB sent was deficient?

Surely then, 173rd AB brigade, which parachuted into northern Iraq was ill-suited to its mission?

All these were OIF-1 forces, some of which were part of the initial invasion that smashed Saddam's twisted legions in record time.

Or maybe the OIF-2 forces that rotated into Iraq to replace the OIF-1 force were crappy?

I mean, we sent the rest of that sorry 82nd AB division. And 1 ID and 1 CAV with a couple ARNG brigades. And a new Stryker brigade. Which of these units was underequipped and under-trained?

The charge is so ridiculous that one strains to remember that the Pentagon was criticized in the summer of 2003 for not getting our troops into soft caps on foot patrols. We forget that many criticized our rotation plan for sending too much heavy armor instead of lighter and more "agile" Humvee-mounted infantry. Ah yes, in the days before the faux armor shortage charges were levied against the military leadership, the Perfectionistas who know all and see all denigrated the heavy nature of the early occupation force.

I have no problem with criticisms of our policies. We make mistakes. We do. And honest criticism is needed to correct errors in order to win. Blind cheerleading does nobody any favors.

But dreck like this comment makes it difficult for me to take some critics seriously. Critics who seem ill-equipped and too poorly trained to opine on serious matters of defense.

Monday, July 25, 2005

Working Up a Spit

Jane Fonda has decided that liberating 25 million Iraqis and ending the sadistic regime of Saddam Hussein is a crime that she can no longer remain silent over. She's going on a cross-country tour for surrender:

"I can't go into any detail except to say that it's going to be pretty exciting," she said.

Fonda said her anti-war tour in March will use a bus that runs on "vegetable oil." She will be joined by families of Iraq war veterans and her daughter.

They plan to return to the Santa Fe area, where she was promoting her book, "My Life So Far" on Saturday.

Prompted by a question from the audience, Fonda said war veterans that she has met on a nationwide book tour have encouraged her to break her silence on the Iraq war.

"I've decided I'm coming out," she said.

Vegetable oil? Promoting her book? Exciting? What, isn't she a little ancient and wrinkly for a Barbarella II tour? If not, this seems rather a self-indulgent move. Especially since the van is set to roll in March 2006. Can't let her outrage over American military atrocities rush her to protest when she has to coordinate it with her bong-water-powered VW van tour!

As for coming out, can anybody really be surprised that someone who takes pride in her role in dooming Southeast Asia to the joys of communist misrule, mass murder, poverty, and barbarity is against the Iraq War? Were these people misled by her multi-millionaire lifestyle and anti-PC Atlanta Braves tomahawk chopping into thinking she'd sit a tough war out?

As my hatred for her has faded, it is a comfort really that she rekindles the physical reaction of disgust that I once felt so easily for her.

God, she sickens me.

The Front at Home

As the largest economy with the Internet everywhere, we are potentially vulnerable to attacks that will disrupt our home front. Our enemies don't need to cross oceans or penetrate our military defenses. The threat may be overblown or potential enemies may not be up to the task, but it is a big unknown.

We are exploring this new front (from Jane's email alerts):

CIA runs cyber war game
In May 2005, several US news outlets reported on a classified war game being conducted by the US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) to rehearse defending against a massive electronic cyber attack. The exercise, entitled 'Silent Horizon', follows 'Livewire', a similar war game run earlier by the Department of Homeland Security. 'Silent Horizon', according to reports, sought to follow on from the lessons learned during 'Livewire' and other war games, and was in part intended to test responses to large-scale, multiple attacks.
[Jane's/RUSI Monitor - first posted to - 8 June 2005]

It's a strange world. With lots of threats.

This decade truly sucks. I believe I've mentioned this before.

Sunday, July 24, 2005

Democracy's High Price

I believe we are clearly winning in Iraq despite the headlines that seem to show only the death as the insurgents and terrorists killing civilians on a daily basis:

The situation in Iraq has progressed tremendously since April 2004 when a lot of people were worried that the enemy had just pulled off a Sepoy Mutiny and rallied the Iraqi people against our troops. The enemy is divided, the Iraqi people back the new government and hate the jihadis, and the Iraqi military is stepping forward to assume more responsibilities.

The situation can look grim from this perspective:

Sunni Arabs, roughly 20 percent of Iraq, make up the core of the insurgency. Some actively fight while others provide aid or at least look the other way.

Recently, there has been solid progress in luring a relatively large group of the Sunnis to participate in politics, including the constitutional process.

Some who urged an election boycott just six months ago now are urging their fellow Sunnis to vote in upcoming elections, and a core group has helped draft the constitution. A Sunni walkout seemed close to ending Sunday, and the drafters appear likely to meet the Aug. 15 deadline.

Nevertheless, the insurgents are going full throttle, stepping up attacks against Iraqi civilians and security forces.

As we win, the difficulties of cementing that win can seem daunting. The price being paid is high--though not as high as the price of Saddam's rule of terror, we should remember.

But the price that Iraqis are paying to build this unique Arab democracy has a silver lining. That which the Iraqis pay dearly to gain they will not give up lightly. This will be their democracy.

If we had invaded Iraq and the Baathists had melted away and the jihadis had decided not to fight their sick war in Iraq, we would have prepared a constitution and handed it to the Iraqis. It would have been a document handed down from the Americans that nobody in Iraq would own. Democracy might have staggered on in Iraq as long as nothing put pressure on it. But at the first bump, opportunists would have blamed their ills on the alien democracy imposed on Iraq. Some Westerners will join in as well, as we've seen already. And Iraqi democracy would fail and democracy in the Arab and Moslem worlds would have been dealt a setback that would have crippled freedom for a generation or more.

But by paying the price in blood to defend this new, imperfect democracy, Iraqis are claiming ownership in a real way and making it something they will value as worth defending against future threats.

This may seem like a reach, perhaps a manufactured silver lining in a terrible war. But I believe it is a real benefit of the terrible struggle we and our Iraqi friends are fighting.

Of course, we have to win this fight to gain this benefit. If we falter, we've made the situation worse. I don't think we'll falter.

We are winning. And we will win. And Iraqis themselves will hold the gains for democracy. That is one advantage to our strategy--we not only eliminate enemies but we create allies for even more gains in the future.

Good News and Bad News

James Carafano makes a very good point:

Fact is, terrorists rarely win. True, they succeed at killing people -- murdering innocents, destroying property and creating misery -- but that's not their intended goal. Terrorism by definition is violence with a political purpose. And terrorists are terrorists not by choice, but by desperation. They kill men, women and children indiscriminately because they think there's no other way to advance their cause. Propaganda and politics have failed them. They lack armies or economic power.

Terrorists need to move beyond terrorism to a strategy capable of achieving victory. Either become an army and conquer territory, become a mass political movement to gain the loyalty of the people, shoot their way into power and take over the palace, or enter politics and compete in this sphere. Absent one of these changes, they merely kill. And as we know, criminal gangs don't take over cities just because they kill lots of people. Violence must be focused at an objective or it is just killing.

This is historically correct. But on the surface this seems to hold that a law enforcement approach could defeat this loser tactic of terrorists. If they can't win, just persist with arresting them and we will win.

But first of all, they kill too much to just try and put the cuffs on them. The toll would persist at too high levels for too long.

Second, nukes make the price of letting these losers continue too horrible to treat as just criminals. Sure, we can console ourselves that losing Charleston won't defeat us, but we still lost a city and all those souls. Just move on, right?

Wrong. Just because we can't be beaten by nutballs who seriously think they can achieve a new caliphate that will one day include Cleveland is no reason to take them lightly. They can still kill a lot of us. And so we have to wage war against the terrorists and the regimes that might supply the terrorists with nukes and state support.

And nukes are merely the worst. Chemicals and bio weapons are potent threats. And let us not forget that box cutters and airline tickets could kill tens of thousands if done right.

So there is no reason to relax. No reason to let up. We have to take down the regimes of Iran and North Korea. And others are out there waiting to become dangerous if we don't destroy them or scare them straight. I don't care if we pull Iraqs or Libyas on these regimes. But one way or another, our security depends on it.

Saturday, July 23, 2005

The Least of Their Crimes?

The North Koreans kidnapped Japanese citizens in the past and yet are upset that the Japanese want an accounting of this crime:

The North's state-run newspaper, Minju Joson, said in an editorial that it "feels no need to sit face-to-face with Japan," and criticized Tokyo's intention to raise the abduction issue as a plan "to meet its own interests."

It is attitude like this from the Pillsbury Nuke Boy that just really annoys me. The Japanese have every right to demand an explanation and redress to this crime. The North Koreans may think that their record of mass murder, oppression, torture, real gulags, ineptitude leading to mass starvation, terrorism, nuclear and missile proliferation, and aggression make a few score Japanese lives ruined mere small potatoes, but there is no reason we need to go along.

Give them hell, Tokyo. These kidnappings may be the smallest of North Korea's crimes but they show us at heart the kind of regime we are facing. We really are dealing with pure, distilled evil in North Korea.

No Stab in the Back

I like Ralph Peters, but his venom directed at the Pentagon is a little heated:

First, consider the sins of the right. While the Bush administration did a great thing in deposing Saddam Hussein, the Rumsfeld Pentagon did it with astonishing ineptitude. From the refusal to deploy enough troops to the willful neglect of occupation planning, ideologues set us up for a protracted struggle and unnecessary casualties.

The administration got the big picture right, but ignored the troublesome details. The president and his deputies further harmed their cause by refusing to admit that mistakes were made. From the floundering early days of don't-call-it-an-occupation through the incompetence of the young political activists sent to staff the Coalition Provisional Authority, willful errors have been redeemed only by the valor — and blood — of our troops.

Wow. Look, we hit Iraq with 70 line battalions, Marines, Army, and Brits. That's the equivalent of 7 divisions. This was in line with our long-standing plans for a major theater war. But since we did not build up iron mountains of supplies and relied on air power instead of extra artillery brigades, we didn't have the large numbers of support troops that normally would have been used. We crushed the Iraqi military with this force.

As for the post-war, the administration made some wrong assumptions but the venom of Peters' condemnation just about rises to the level of a stab-in-the-back argument. And it is bizarrely made as we win this post-war stabilization mission. And why is not wanting to call our post-war mission an "occupation" derided? Sure, technically it was, but so what? It was never taken as a legalistic description by the anti-war side but as a bad term. So why accept it easily? And so Ledeen's daughter worked for the CPA. That is a crime? I assume that is what Peters is knocking.

The talk about soldiers blood compensating for mistakes is true of all wars. And our government has adapted quite well I think, over the last two years, to changing circumstances.

Still, Peters wants us to win so in the end his criticisms are taken in that light. I don't think he criticizes to undermine the war or to score political points. Simply put, I trust him even if I think this criticism is wrong.

But there is no stab in the back going on. Our military fights well and is getting the backing it needs and deserves.

A Figurative Fragging

Via Instapundit, this story of some hometown soldiers giving their elected representatives an earful about the ignorant BS that has been bandied about by those elected representatives:

Soldiers from Massachusetts and Hawaii who work at the U.S. military detention facility at U.S. Naval Base Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, gave visiting home-state senators a piece of their mind last week.

Sens. Edward M. Kennedy, Massachusetts Democrat, and Daniel K. Akaka, Hawaii Democrat, met with several soldiers during a visit led by Armed Services Committee Chairman Sen. John W. Warner, Virginia Republican.

Pentagon officials said soldiers criticized the harsh comments made recently by Senate Democrats.

Sen. Richard J. Durbin of Illinois, the Senate's No. 2 Democrat, last month invoked widespread military outrage when he compared Guantanamo to the prison labor systems used by communist tyrant Josef Stalin, Cambodia's Pol Pot and Adolf Hitler.

"They got stiff reactions from those home-state soldiers," one official told us. "The troops down there expressed their disdain for that kind of commentary, especially comparisons to the gulag."

Good for them. Soldiers doing a hard job honorably deserved the chance to confront their accusers. Funny how a planted question about bogus armor shortages in Iraq are flogged on page one for a week but this seems to be unreported by the major media.

I dare say that Senator Kennedy's car has a higher fatality rate than Gitmo.

Friday, July 22, 2005

Nice Words. If True

Three recent statements from actual or potential nuclear threats to us are nice to hear.

First, China draws back from a general's comments on nuking us:

Foreign Minister Li Zhaoxing said China "will not first use nuclear weapons at any time and under any condition," according to the official Xinhua News Agency. Li said China has embraced that stance since it developed nuclear weapons in 1964, and it "will not be changed in the future."

And Iran says it won't pursue nuclear weapons:

"We hate atomic weapons. We respect international treaties and agreements, but we will not accept illogical pressures and the demands of powers," Ahmadinejad told a public meeting in Mashhad, 600 miles northeast of the capital, Tehran, according to the television report.

"We witness unfairness in the international arena. Some consider themselves as the lord of the world while they enjoy the biggest amount of weapons of mass destruction," Ahmadinejad said.

And then North Korea says it is willing to give up nuclear weapons:

A peace pact would halt what the North calls U.S. hostility "which spawned the nuclear issue," a spokesman from the North's Foreign Ministry said in a statement. That would "automatically result in the denuclearization of the peninsula."

All very nice. I especially like the Iranian "Lord of the World" bit. Has a nice ring to it. Beats the old "Great Satan" tag that has gotten stale since the late 1970s. But sucking up is probably way too late in my opinion.

Of course, China's statement might have caveats that it doesn't apply to internal matters, which is what they consider Taiwan. And it could mean they have some confidence (misplaced or not) that they can go toe-to-toe with us in a short conventional conflict.

And Iran's statement may be true as far as it goes. In the sense that while you are perfecting the ability to enrich Uranium you are not technically working on a bomb. Once Iran has mastered all the steps up to putting together a bomb, will that pledge be honored? I doubt it.

North Korea's statement of course assumes North Korea has bombs. A claim not confirmed. A willingness to give up nukes given their paranoia would seem to indicate North Korea may not have anything weaponized even if technically they have some large "bomb" that would need a flatbed truck with an "oversize load" banner strung on it to move it from the buried laboratory it now sits in.

And the cause-and-effect is a bit incomplete. Let's see, North Korea invades South Korea in bloody war. We hold them off and rather naturally are a bit peeved about it and are reasonably worried the Norks will have another go at it if they get the chance. So we do have some hostility issues going on with our foreign policy toward North Korea. The last step is that the North Koreans are a bit worried that the above cited hostility puts North Korea in a bind. You know, in facing the Lord of the World? Narrowly assessed, North Korea's worry is reasonable. Until you remember the first link in the causal chain--the invasion thing.

The statement also assumes that North Korea would even believe us if we normalized relations and had a peace treaty with them. Nations do attack other nations that they recognize. They do. So mere formal peace is a strange reassurance for the nutjobs of Pyongyang to assert they want.

Again. Nice words. But are they designed to lull and mislead or could they mean something important? I'm not hopeful. But at least our enemies and potential enemies feel the need to say the right words.

Sadly, I imagine the Surrenderistas in the West will latch onto these statements as proof we should pop out the old check book and "engage" with them.

Thursday, July 21, 2005


Just what is Kristof thinking? First he says North Korea won't collapse so we might as well deal with the Pillsbury Nuke Boy--which I addressed here.

Now he says to remember the Pueblo incident. Why yes, I do remember that incident. Nutball regime seizes an unarmed American spy vessel sailing in international waters and then holds the crew for a year, torturing them at their leisure. The North Koreans still display the boat as a trophy.

And how does Kristof choose to act on this memory?

It's time for us to learn from the Pueblo again. The Bush administration's dismissal of serious, direct diplomacy has made Korea more dangerous. Engagement may be arduous, frustrating and often unsatisfying, but it's the only option we have left.

Is Kristof stoned or stone-cold idiotic? Our refusal to "engage" (i.e., send lots of money with our sincere apologies that it isn't more) is the cause of North Korea being more dangerous? We are to save these psychopaths that very clearly hate us to their core?

As for no other options, I say destroying the regime is an option we haven't used yet. But we have to use it carefully and slowly lest the nutballs of Pyongyang go on a killing spree south of the DMZ. Look, when your enemy is implacable and faltering, the last thing we need to do is prop them up. Let them die. Push them into death. My God, would a stronger North Korea be easier to deal with? We haven't invaded North Korea over the last five decades, so what could we do that would soothe them into giving up nukes?

Perhaps Kristof needs to explain to the South Koreans the need to surrender since North Korea isn't going to collapse and since Kristof has learned the lesson that having a psycho enemy means you should make a deal with them--again.

The South Koreans aren't as optimistic about Pyongyang's future. Seoul doesn't want to absorb North Korea's poverty-stricken society but they don't think that a Northern collapse is unthinkable:

South Korea has been quietly preparing for the eventual collapse of the communist government in the north. South Korea has, for over a decade, been carefully examining the experience of Germany in reuniting its democratic and capitalist West with its communist and ramshackle East.

Indeed, a North Korean collapse may be the only thing that gets China to cooperate with us. China may like having a loose cannon to scare us but they like having South Korea control all of the peninsula even less:

The South Koreans also have to prepare for a possible civil war in the north, which is another worst case situation. It’s not known how much South Korea and China have been working together on peacekeeping in the north. It is known that China is very concerned about collapse in the north, and hordes of starving North Koreans pouring over the their border. China does not like the idea of a united, democratic, Korea. But China doesn’t want a collapse in North Korea, and chaos, either. No one wants that, but North Koreas neighbors are preparing for the worst.

The Pueblo incident may scare Kristof into advocating a disguised surrender to the nutballs of the North, but the South Koreans seem to be losing the fear of the constantly rattling sabre.

With South Korea's army growing more dominant and confident it can not only hold off an invasion but advance north across the DMZ, the Republic of Korea is thinking about strengthening the navy and air force at the expense of the army:

Defense Minister Yoon Kwang-ung on Thursday (July 7) reaffirmed his commitment to reform the Army-dominated military to achieve a better balance between the Army, Navy and Air Force.

A nation that fears an enemy could capture its capital wouldn't think about reducing the dominance of the army when an ally's naval and air power can fill that need. But North Korea--nationalism or no--is dying. We'd be fools to save such a hideous regime.

As I've written before, I think we need to partition North Korea to meet the demands of all the parties involved (well, almost all--the Pillsbury Nuke Boy can bugger off).

North Korea is still dangerous. Surrendering to them will make them more dangerous--not less dangerous. Squeeze them until they drop. I'd hate for those South Korean plans to go to waste. Because, as you know, American Leftists love post-war planning. They'll be ecstatic about this regime change!

This Makes No Sense

This reporter provides anecdotal evidence of good morale among our troops in Iraq:

Again and again, from "white-collar" soldiers working in the relative safety of Camp Victory at the Baghdad airport to the "real" soldiers patrolling Route Irish (a.k.a the "Highway of Death"), I heard that America and their Iraqi-army allies are winning the war against the insurgents. I was told again and again by the soldiers themselves that their (our) cause is just, the strategy is working, and the enemy they fight represents evil itself.

Sure, this could be propaganda somehow engineered by the Pentagon, but re-enlistment is running at a good clip--especially for combat veterans--which is another sign that our soldiers are confident in their casue and in their progress toward victory. Strategypage writes:

Troops who have served in Iraq and Afghanistan are more likely to reenlist. Some of this is due to higher re-enlistment bonuses, but those re-enlisting (and 35 percent of them do it in a combat zone) often say they believe strongly in what they are doing, and that’s why they volunteer to keep doing it. By the end of the year, the army expects to get 4,000 more re-enlistments than it expected. A disproportionate number of these are coming from combat troops, which is very helpful.

Troop morale looks pretty good with these factors in mind. So what am I to make of this report? It says our troop morale--according to an Army study--is bad and getting worse:

The report said 54 percent of soldiers rated their units' morale as low or very low. The comparable figure in a year-earlier Army survey was 72 percent. Although respondents said "combat stressors" like mortar attacks were higher in the most recent survey, "noncombat stressors" like uncertain tour lengths were much lower, the report said.

How does this fit with the earlier stories? And if the talks with troops showing positive attitudes was rigged, why not rig the study? And why does the same study show mental health problems lower as well as a lower suicide rate for in-theater troops?

Well let me apply my limited rear echelon, reservist experience. I volunteered to serve. I did it out of a sense of duty and shipped off to basic training after I'd finished a year of grad school. I went to signal school after I graduated with a MA in history. When I was at Fort Gordon, I remember that just about every day as I stood in line under the already hot sun early in the morning ready to board a bus to go to 31Q classes, I would just ponder what the hell I was doing there. Good God, this is misery! I'm away from home and I'm bored, and I'd really like to look for a job. But no, I'm sweating already and it's early, and I've been up since before light. AND MY DAY IS JUST BEGINNING! I had a calendar on my locker where I checked off the days (My drill sergeant exclaimed, "Dunn, are you eager to get out of here?!" "Yes I am, drill sergeant!").

But I was nonetheless proud to be there. It wasn't fun. I'd rather have been home. And I was eager to get it over with.

But I worked hard and though it may have looked like my morale was low, I was proud to be where I was and wouldn't have changed that for the world. Look, I know I was in Georgia and not Iraq. My experience is but a dim reflection of what troops in a war zone must feel--even the vast majority who live safely in our base camps. I can't know what they feel. But the conclusion of low morale doesn't fit all the facts. My military experience may be trifling, but I think it helps explain the apparent gaps in facts. As the saying goes, it's a soldier's right to complain.

Our troops seem to be holding up just fine. As long as we continue to do so back home, they'll win this war for us and come home justifiably proud of their service.

And if we work this right, with more total brigades to rotate fewer brigades through Iraq, the stress on the Army and Marines will dissipate, leaving a combat-seasoned force that will scare potential enemies.

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Reinforce Success

One basic concept in fighting a campaign is to reinforce success. If your secondary effort is advancing while the main effort falters, don't funnel reserves into the failed "main" attack--send them to the "secondary" effort and make that the main effort. Don't reinforce failure. So how is bin Laden doing? Let's see:

  • Al Qaeda hit America on 9-11 hoping to drive us from the Middle East. That didn't work.
  • The terrorists hit Australia at Bali and yet the Australians are still with us in the fight.
  • They hit Britain in London and Britain is still with us.
  • The terrorists hit Spain in Madrid and the Spanish turned and fled.
With this record, since the terrorists manage about one big hit per year, they may decide to reinforce success. Instead of hitting the fighting members of the coalition might they not think they'd get more mileage attacking the weak links?

Germany and France should be nervous.

As should Spain. After all, the jihadis are still upset with that whole loss of Andalusia thing.

Or our enemies could be as stupid as they seem and continue to launch attacks that drive people to our side, whether in Iraq or elsewhere. Funny how critics of the war claimed America would do just that by going on the offensive.

UPDATE: Victor Hanson puts this in a larger perspective:

Islamicists are selective in their attacks and hatred. So far global jihad avoids two billion Indians and Chinese, despite the fact that their countries are far tougher on Muslims than is the United States or Europe. In other words, the Islamicists target those whom they think they can intimidate and blackmail.

Or in other words, they want to win and so fight those they believe they can beat.

We must deprive our jihadi enemies of the hope of victory. Pursue them to the ends of the Earth. And kill them.

And work hard on ending the cultural support available in the Moslem world that replenishes the ranks of the enemy. This is not a war on Islam, though Islam is hardly irrelevant, and so our necessary ruthlessness must be narrowly focused.

Strait Talk

The Department of Defense has released its annual report on Chinese military power.

It seems fairly straightforward in its discussion, noting that the balance of power between China and Taiwan has been shifting toward China. The Chinese government reacted rather harshly:

"The report groundlessly attacks China's military modernization and makes unwarranted charges about China's normal national defense building and military deployments," Vice Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi said in a statement.

It "ignores the facts, spares no effort to spread the 'China threat theory', rudely interferes in China's internal affairs," Yang was quoted as saying on the Foreign Ministry's Web site,

Touchy in Peking, eh?

The article wrongly says the report assesses that the Chinese lack the military capability to attack Taiwan. The report says something different:

Amphibious Invasion. An invasion of Taiwan would be a complex and difficult operation relying upon timing and pre-conditions set by many subordinate campaigns. Publicly available Chinese writings on amphibious campaigns offer different strategies for an amphibious invasion of Taiwan. The most prominent of these is the Joint Island Landing Campaign. The objective of this campaign is to break through or circumvent the shore defense, establish and build a beachhead, and then launch an attack to split, seize and occupy the entire island or important targets on the island. To achieve the final objective of the Joint Island Landing Campaign, a series of sub-campaigns, such as electronic warfare, naval, and air campaigns, must be executed, including the underlying logistics support.

Amphibious operations are logistics-intensive and rely for success upon the rapid build-up of supplies and sustainment ashore and an uninterrupted flow of support thereafter. This particular amphibious operation would tax the lift capacities of China’s armed forces needed to provide sustainment for this campaign. Add to these strains the combat attrition of China’s forces, and an amphibious invasion of Taiwan would be a significant political and military risk for China’s civilian and military leaders.

The PLA's prospects in an invasion of Taiwan would hinge on: availability of amphibious and air lift, attrition rates, interoperability of PLA forces, the ability of China's logistic system to support the necessarily high tempo of operations, Taiwan’s will to resist, and the speed and scale of third-party intervention.

This isn't quite the same as saying an amphibious conquest of Taiwan can't be done, now is it? The report says that the success of an invasion depends on how well the Chinese can pull it off (obviously!), whether Taiwan has the will to resist, and how quickly Japan and America intervene with sufficient power.

It is all the more significant since of the military options the report discusses, invasion is the only one judged capable of resolving the issue without risking a full-scale conflict. Since the limited force option, a missile and air campaign, and blockade are all judged to risk taking time, thus allowing time for other nations (US and Japan) to intervene, logically the Chinese should just go right to the invasion option. And since third-party intervention is the biggest threat to Chinese success, a speedy invasion with the element of surprise is the only way to win before intervention brings superior US and Japanese power to bear on the campaign.

This interpretation also makes sense in light of the report's finding that the PLA is modernizing its forces into a "professional force capable of fighting high-intensity, local wars of short duration against high-tech adversaries." China knows we can win in a long war so they want short ones to prevent a long war with America from developing. The lesser force options make no sense in light of this objective.

I stand by my invasion scenario in light of this report. The Chinese are getting ready. They are getting set. And they want to go. By the 2008 summer Olympics, I should say.

Preparing to beat China or getting Taiwan up to speed to defend their island on their own are the best choices of a bad situation (letting China take Taiwan is the worst). I'd rather focus China away from Taiwan and the sea toward the interior of Asia. I don't forgive the Russians for pointing the Chinese at us.

Oh, and in an amusing little error that I expect the Chinese government to go batty over when they notice it, the map on page 27, apparently a 1996 model, indicates Macau as Portugese territory and Hong Kong as British territory. Heh. Peking doesn't know the half of our interests in their "internal" politics, apparently, if they are only thinking of Taiwan!

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Army Reserve Trivia

I thought I knew that all Army reserve combat units reside in the Army National Guard. The Reserves are for combat service support units. Or so I thought.

A recent casualty report stated that a fallen soldier was from 100-442 Infantry Regiment of the Army Reserve. Huh?

Yep, it it the only infantry unit in the Army Reserve. Though it is part of a ARNG brigade:

The 100th Battalion, 442nd Infantry, is the only remaining Infantry unit in the Army Reserve force structure. Its headquarters is located at Fort Shafter, Hawaii, and its units are located in Hawaii, American Samoa, Guam and Saipan. Under the command and control of the 9th Regional Support Command, the 100th/442nd's wartime mission is to be one of the maneuver battalion's of the 29th Separate Infantry Brigade, Hawaii Army National Guard.

From the old Nisei regiment of Japanese-Americans of World War II.

Go for broke, as they say.

Foreign Support

I while back I wrote that I doubted that putting too much emphasis on Iraqi border interdiction would be effective since people and money were the major elements of support for an insurgency and terror campaign taking place in a country awash in weapons and ammunition.

Well, some supporting information from this article should be noted:

Iraq's interior minister is demanding that his country's neighbors take stronger measures to stem the flow of money and recruits to insurgents who have been slaughtering civilians as they battle U.S. and Iraqi forces.

The minister does not mention weapons. Nor does he just say general support. He is instead very specific. Recruits and money remain the major foreign inputs for this insurgency/terror campaign.

Interdicting this traffic requires action well before the berms on the Iraq-Syria border.

Free To Do No Harm

Iraqi doctors are upset about how Iraqi soldiers are acting in hospitals:

More than two dozen doctors walked out of one of Baghdad's busiest hospitals on Tuesday to protest what they said was abuse by Iraqi soldiers, leaving about 100 patients to fend for themselves in chaotic wards.

This post isn't about defending abuse by the soldiers of our ally. But it is about perspective. Under Saddam, the doctors themselves were the ones running amok in the hospitals as agents of Saddam:

Beginning in June 1994, the government of Iraq issued at least nine decrees that establish severe penalties, including amputation, branding and the death penalty for criminal offenses such as theft, corruption, currency speculation and military desertion. These new decrees greatly impinge on individual human rights and constitute violations of several international human rights conventions and standards.

The government of Iraq attempts to deflect international criticism of this cruelty by maintaining that the decrees were enacted to combat rising crime which, it says, is due to the poverty and desperation brought on by international economic sanctions. By implying that if sanctions are lifted and the situation improves the decrees could be repealed, Iraq appears to use these abuses as leverage for the lifting of sanctions. While arguing that the decrees serve as a deterrent to crime, the government has offered no information that they are serving this purpose.

The government of Iraq also maintains that the decrees are based on Sharia, Islamic law. Sharia, however, is subject to various interpretations, and the Iraqi government's interpretation reflects its political agenda. The repressive political climate within Iraq prevents discussion by Iraqis about other interpretations. Moreover, Muslims outside Iraq hold views regarding the use of amputation under Islamic law that conflict with Iraq's interpretation.

The penalty of amputation is now applied to theft, forgery, currency speculation, military desertion and draft-dodging. Reports from Iraqi news media indicate that the sentence of amputation has been carried out on several individuals convicted of theft. One victim was displayed on Iraqi government television recuperating in the hospital after his hand had been cut off. For deserters and draft-dodgers the ear is amputated.

So I take this as a sign of improvement that first, doing no harm has returned as a goal for Iraqi doctors to live up to.

Second, it is a good sign that unlike under Saddam, doctors don't feel compelled to look away or cooperate with the government when it is pushing the bounds of what is permissible (or in Saddam's case, committing crimes against humanity).

Progress is apparent all around, people. Even in unlikely news stories.


Over the last two years, I've said that we need to atomize the enemy in Iraq. As long as the enemy can mass in company-sized units, they can overrun police stations. If they can mass in platoon strength, they can wipe out road blocks and patrols.

If Iraqi patrols, road blocks, and police stations can't hold alone, it is more likely that more sophisticated forces with tanks and artillery and air power will be needed to fight the enemy. Right now, that's US forces.

Make it so that the enemy can only gather squads or fire teams, and low tech Iraqi light infantry and police can fight the enemy effectively. Iraqis can provide reaction teams to reinforce threatened Iraqi units.

If the Iraqis can fight effectively, we can pull back sooner into large bases to deter Iranian attack until the Iraqi army defeats the insurgency and then builds up conventional defenses.

Strategypage writes:

July 18, 2005: Normally, guerilla warfare strategy is to start out small, escalating attacks and operations until the insurgents have gained enough popular support and recruited enough fighters that regular military units can be formed that are able to defeat enemy troops on equal terms. In Iraq, this is playing out in reverse. The current “insurgents” started out over two years ago as the Iraqi army and security forces. This crew, led by the Baath Party, had the support of most of the population via an ongoing terror campaign that convinced people that disloyalty was not worth the risk. Right after Saddam’s crowd was driven from power in early 2003, many of Saddam’s core supporters, members of his security forces, and Sunni Arabs in general, continued to fight. But over the last two years, the number of Sunni Arabs supporting the fight declined. Increasingly, the attacks were carried out by foreign Sunni Arabs. Since the guerilla warfare process is rarely tried in reverse, there’s not a lot of research available on how it will all turn out. It would appear that the Baath Party and al Qaeda terrorists, if they continue to make themselves unpopular by killing Iraqi civilians, will eventually disappear.

This seems about right. Attacks per day are still there in the numbers of a year ago but they are more likely to be suicide bombers by the jihadis than the Baathists who are declining in importance.

So the enemy is descending the escalation ladder. We are atomizing them and making them easier to fight even as we also increase the capability of the Iraqi military and security forces to fight them. Training Iraqis is important, but relative strength is most important, and we've done a good job of working on both ends of the equation.

Pretty soon the Iraqi insurgency will be distributing pamphlets, bitching on internet web sites, and painting "Romans go home" on the Colliseum walls.

Monday, July 18, 2005

Planning for War

From Instapundit this depressing look into the mind of the Hollywood establishment:

Meanwhile, Mickey Kaus notes that moral equivalence extends even to Martians:

Did War of the Worlds screenwriter David Koepp really say that the Martians in the movie represent "American military forces," while Tom Cruise and the embattled Earthlings represent Iraqi civilians? Looks like he did.
Jeez, you just can't make this stuff up.

Good grief. But how could we be the Martians? They planned their invasion for a million years. We, the opposition (and some supporters, too, I concede) says we didn't plan enough.

Actually, I think this fits quite nicely. The opposition would have planned and studied the plan so much that President Uday would have died of old age before Annex Q (al Hillarycare implementation) was completed. Planning, for the opposition to the war, has never been about winning. It was all about the delay that proves fatal.

We ain't Martians. We will win.

Phantom Army

I respect Austin Bay a great deal and his point about our ability to stay the course because of our home front politics is on the mark. We are winning in Iraq and only the shaky support at home raises the question of whether we will win this war. I think we will retain the will to win long enough to win but it should not have been allowed to reach this point where we question our will to win. In a long and relatively wide-ranging article, Bay makes many very good points. You should read it all, as the saying goes.

But I am not addressing this broad point. What I question is Bay's repeating of the charge that we made a mistake "disbanding" the Iraqi army after the major combat operations were over:

Yes, Iraqis and Americans are still paying for the biggest mistake we made in this war: disbanding the Iraqi Army.

Hogwash. Sometimes I think this criticism is the right's politically acceptable mistake they are allowed to point out in order to maintain street cred.

Let me say this again. There was no Iraqi army to disband in the summer of 2003. It was gone. Disbanding it was a legalistic action only. A mere formality. Indeed, prior to the invasion we tried to get Iraqi army units to defect. That was the point of our email contacts prior to the war. It didn't work. The Iraqi army just went home during the war. Or we destroyed units that got in our way.

And what if we did manage to keep it? It was--how shall I put this delicately--pure crap. That's why a single American heavy division--3rd ID--spearheaded the drive to Baghdad on the left flank in record time. The senior officers were Baathists and the conscripts were worthless, barely able to fire their Kalashnikovs. So retaining the regulars even if they hadn't disbanded would have kept a force only able to police in a very benign environment. Or were we to retain the militarily more capable Republican Guards?

And remember that in April 2004, the new Iraqi units we had set up folded and dissolved when attacked in strength by the Baathist insurgents. If we had kept the army intact, I could easily see the units defecting to the other side under officers of the old regime. That would have been infinitely worse.

We did make some mistakes in assuming no insurgency and planning for a mini-army of Iraqis able to oppose an Iranian invasion rather than building Iraqi light infantry units to fight the Baathists and terrorists. We are doing that now, but keeping the old regime army intact would not have solved the problems we faced over the last year.

That is, if we could even have retained a non-existent army. That basic fact really makes the whole discussion moot. Why it survives to be trotted out on occasion is beyond me.

Sunday, July 17, 2005

Not Just Hoping

Nicholas Kristof says it is a sucker bet to count on North Korea collapsing to end their nuclear threat to us:

Many conservatives in and out of the Bush administration assume that North Korea's population must be seething and that the regime must be on its last legs. Indeed, the Bush administration's policy on North Korea, to the extent that it has one, seems to be to wait for it to collapse.

I'm afraid that could be a long, long wait. The central paradox of North Korea is this: No government in the world today is more brutal or has failed its people more abjectly, yet it appears to be in solid control and may even have substantial popular support.

From a brief visit like mine, it's hard to gauge the mood, because anyone who criticizes the government risks immediate arrest. But Chinese and other foreigners I've spoken to who live in North Korea or visit regularly say they believe that most North Koreans buy into the system, just as ordinary Chinese did during the Maoist period.

He has an excellent point. And if North Korea's collapse was merely a hope he would be right. But I hope that we are actively seeking to squeeze the North Korean regime. I don't assume that the North Korean people are seething at the regime and waiting for a chance to smash the regime. I assume the people are passive but growing more desperate. And at some point they will be so desperate that they will lose all fear of the regime and lose fear of the consequences of defying the regime. If this base cracks, the rest could follow.

Yet squeezing the North is a problem since only Japan and America really want North Korea to lose and fall. As long as China and South Korea want North Korea to survive, our task is complicated.

And this does not mean that Kristof's solution of engaging the North is the solution. North Korea is poor enough that isolation does hurt them. They have few resources to survive and rely on Chinese and South Korean help. If we help--"engage" them which Kristof says will undermine them--then we just reduce the cost to South Korea and China to prop up the regime.

We need to keep applying pressure so that the North Korean people lose all hope and all fear. And we need to make sure that if Seoul and Peking want to prop up the Pillsbury Nuke Boy, that they bear the cost.

And we need to make sure Seoul and Peking pay the price of propping up North Korea. Pull our troops off the front line of the DMZ to make sure our people are not threatened by North Korea's remaining conventional power. Build up missile defenses in Japan and at sea to shoot down their missiles. Make sure we have assets to strike North Korean missiles. This will make sure that if North Korea is a military problem it will be South Korea that pays the price. I am unwilling to risk even San Francisco because South Korea doesn't want to risk winning! Let South Korea face the consequences of propping up a psycho regime.

As for China, if North Korea goes nuclear, we should stand aside and let South Korea, Japan, and Taiwan go nuclear. Let China face a few more nuclear-armed enemies if Peking thinks it is acceptable for us and Japan to face one in North Korea. China counts too much on our restraint of our non-nuclear allies and gives us little to justify our restraining our nuclear-capable allies.

I think we can squeeze North Korea to the point of collapse. But it is something we have to work on and not just hope for as Kristof notes.

But the alternative is not to help North Korea and hope they reform under the influence of our businessmen. That, I believe, is the real sucker bet. The real alternative to collapsing North Korea is to make sure that those who prop up North Korea pay the price for delaying the Pillsbury Nuke Boy's collapse.

UPDATE: My only question is whether the reforms will end up like the Soviet Union's or like China's. Of course, China's may end up like the Soviet's in the end, so perhaps North Korea has picked a loser of a model anyway. Because remember, past performance is no guarantee of future earnings. Strategypage has a relevant post:

July 17, 2005: North Korea is planning to radically restructure its economy. Apparently convinced that the Chinese approach (a market economy, but with a communist dictatorship still running the country) will work for them. North Korea has been taking small steps in this direction for nearly ten years. But now there are plans to open up more of the economy. To do that, North Korea will need lots of food and monetary aid. The major obstacle is the communist bureaucracy, who are used to a Stalinist, "total control" approach to government. Getting these guys to loosen up will not be easy. Meanwhile, North Korea continues to face famine, and the North Korean military becomes increasingly weak and unable to carry out the long feared invasion of the south.

Hero of the Left

As I noted in this post, all I want to know about the Plame affair is why did the CIA send the idiot savante Joe Wilson to Niger in order to sample the local teas:

In the end I don't care about his fanciful tales of high tea in sub-Sahara Africa. The real scandal is a CIA that has its own foreign policy and can't be bothered to follow the policies of its elected boss.

Mark Steyn agrees and says it all much better:

But in the real world there's only one scandal in this whole wretched business -- that the CIA, as part of its institutional obstruction of the administration, set up a pathetic ''fact-finding mission'' that would be considered a joke by any serious intelligence agency and compounded it by sending, at the behest of his wife, a shrill politically motivated poseur who, for the sake of 15 minutes' celebrity on the cable gabfest circuit, misled the nation about what he found.

And of course, the reason this feeding frenzy over the faux pain of Joe Wilson is that we have real problems to deal with:

And to those who say, "but that's why Iraq is a distraction from the war on terror," sorry, it doesn't work like that. It's not either/or; it's a string of connections: unlimited Saudi money, Westernized Islamist fanatics, supportive terrorist states, proliferating nuclear technology. One day it all comes together and there goes the neighborhood. Here's another story you may have missed this week:

''Iran will resume uranium enrichment if the European Union does not recognize its right to do so, two Iranian nuclear negotiators said in an interview published Tuesday.''

Got that? If you don't let us go nuclear, we'll go nuclear. Negotiate that, John Kerry. As with Bourgass and el-Nashar, Hossein Moussavian and Cyrus Nasseri are real Iranian negotiators, not merely the deranged war fantasies of Bush and Cheney.

The British suicide bombers and the Iranian nuke demands are genuine crises. The Valerie Plame game is a pseudo-crisis. If you want to talk about Niger or CIA reform, fine. But if you seriously think the only important aspect of a politically motivated narcissist kook's drive-thru intelligence mission to a critical part of the world is the precise sequence of events by which some White House guy came to mention the kook's wife to some reporter, then you've departed the real world and you're frolicking on the wilder shores of Planet Zongo.

What's this really about? It's not difficult. A big chunk of the American elites have decided there is no war; it's all a racket got up by Bush and Cheney. And, even if there is a war somewhere or other, wherever it is, it's not where Bush says it is. Iraq is a ''distraction'' from Afghanistan -- and, if there were no Iraq, Afghanistan would be a distraction from Niger, and Niger's a distraction from Valerie Plame's next photo shoot for Vanity Fair.

The police have found the suicide bomber's head in the rubble of the London bus, and Iran is enriching uranium. The only distraction here is the pitiful parochialism of our political culture.

If you seriously care about Joe Wilson and believe he is a hero of truth, you have no clue as to the real problems out there.

And you simply aren't to be trusted with the security of this nation.

Saturday, July 16, 2005

Not So Incredible After All

In all of the debates over the Saddam-Osama links that have gone on since 9-11, I've struggled to understand why there was a debate. Didn't people remember the 1990s? Did they forget that the link was discussed and assumed then? Do people forget that President Clinton struck al Qaeda training camps in Afghanistan and a suspected bin Laden/Saddam chemical plant in Sudan at the same time? Doesn't anybody remember Defense Secretary Cohen on TV with a 5-pound bag of sugar describing the danger to our country if it was Anthrax?

After a while, as serious people seriously debate whether the bleeding obvious is true, I could almost start to think that I was forgetting.

Well, no. Via Instapundit who links to Roger Simon. Reading the stories are one thing. Listening to this ABC report from 1999 (back when the MSM needed to defend President Clinton's actions by showing the al Qaeda-Iraq links; and not now when it needs to deny them with President Bush), just makes me furious.

One thing in particular struck me. One of the complaints about Iraq is that we purportedly failed to go after al Qaeda hard enough in Afghanistan and so therefore scattered the terrorists to the four corners of the world. Supposedly, we turned a concentrated al Qaeda directly controlled by bin Laden into a looser network of terrorists not even controlled by bin Laden. This looser network was more dangerous, critics said, and was the result of our distraction in Iraq.

Well again, bull. Listen to the tape near the end for this part:

[The al Qaeda] network is wide and there are people prepared to commit terror in his name who he does not even control.

I guess invading Iraq didn't cause the network to be diffused and beyond the control of bin Laden. I guess Iraq wasn't the cause of anything bad like that.

In the end, I need to trust my memory more even in the face of constant MSM denials of the recent past that they used to believe. On occasion, I've written about old articles I've run across while cleaning out old stuff. Usually, it is quite amazing in showing that complaints by the Left that the current administration is doing something or causing something is nothing more than what was happening back in the sensitive decade with a sensitive president.

The MSM can go screw itself. May their decline in their present form continue. They deserve every bit of pain they endure.