Wednesday, September 28, 2005

They Need to Worry About Us

Max Boot (via Real Clear Politics) writes that we have not isolated the battlefield in Iraq and Afghanistan:

ONE OF THE KEYS to defeating any guerrilla movement is to cut off its outside support. That is what the United States managed to accomplish in the Philippines from 1899 to 1902 but spectacularly failed to do in South Vietnam, where communist fighters benefited right up until the end from the Ho Chi Minh Trail leading to havens in North Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos.

Today, even as the U.S. is making considerable progress in Iraq and Afghanistan, we are failing to isolate the battlefield. The extremists attacking U.S. forces and our allies continue to receive sanctuary and support from neighboring states, notably Pakistan and Syria. It is, of course, difficult to close any border, but we could do more by going to the source of the trouble.

This is a big problem. And we have different problems to solve. To protect Afghanistan, the problem is an ally, Pakistan, that we think is too shaky to prod more than we have to shut down the lawless frontier regions across from Afghanistan. Iran is a lesser problem for Afghanistan security issues.

In Iraq, Iran is a longer term problem but the immediate foreign problem is Syria, which is a hostile state that is feeding money and jihadis into Iraq. We aren't putting more pressure on Damascus because ... Ok, so I share Boot's confusion on this. Syria is hostile, actively aiding those who kill our soldiers and hundreds if not thousands of Iraqi civilians. We should be doing something about this. To be fair, the something may be the French-American effort centered on Lebanon. But to be realistic, I don't count on the French at all.

And note that Boot does not call for simply lining the border with troops to interdict the movement of the enemy. As I noted here, this is not really possible or likely to do much good:

I've said from early on that this insurgency by a small minority is only so persistent because it has access to plentiful money and arms stockpiled inside Iraq prior to the invasion. The normal practice of sealing the border to prevent such assets from getting inside don't work in Iraq since those assets are already inside Iraq. Putting 20,000 troops along the border would be a waste of effort and would either subtract troops from other missions in the interior if we didn't add them to the current force or would further stress our military if we had increased our troops strength in Iraq for this mission.

So while I don't know how we pressure Pakistan more without risking making things worse, I don't understand why Syria does not fear tangling with us. We keep reminding the Syrians that Iraq will be in the region for a long time and will remember what Syria is doing when Iraq is far more powerful, but this is a long-range threat.

So far, the Damascus eye doctor has read the writing on the wall and it tells him he has little to fear from American threats.

Boy Assad needs to fear the consequences of killing our soldiers more than he fears the threat of a democratic Iraq next door. When he gets to the bottom line of the chart, he needs to read WE'RE COMING FOR YOU. And believe it.

Assad and his cronies play for time, so while Iraqi democracy is a long-term threat to his rule, we must make sure that aiding the Iraqi insurgency is a short-term threat to his rule. Only when those are the choices will Assad do what we need.

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

When Surrendering Isn't Enough

If overthrowing Saddam's regime has caused the jihadis to become angry with the West, then supporting Saddam right up to the invasion in March 2003 should give you some credit, right?

If fighting to defeat the jihadis and Baathists since then has caused the jihadis to target those who help us, then denying any aid to America and the new Iraqi government will surely earn you safety from the jihadis, right?

And having a population sympathetic to the same jihadis and Baathists and who think America is a bigger threat to world peace than the jihadis and Baathists must surely protect you from jihadi anger, right?

Well, apparently not:

Police arrested nine people Monday, including an Islamic militant previously convicted on terrorism charges and freed from prison two years ago, officials said.

Le Figaro and Le Parisien newspapers said the alleged cell's suspected targets included the Metro, a Paris airport and the Paris headquarters of the Directorate for Territorial Surveillance, or DST, a police intelligence and counterterrorism agency. The reports did not identify the airport.

So I ask again, what won't piss off our enemies?

Really, if the French of all people are considered the enemy by the jihadis, who in the world isn't their enemy?

Just kill the jihadis. Worrying about what makes them angry is a futile exercise.

Saving the Spotted Oil

Securing a population must include knocking the enemy back on its heels and killing them.

I noted that the oil spot strategy called for by this author is really what we are doing minus one key component--going after the enemy. I wrote:

I find it hard to slam the author's suggestion about securing the population too much, since this is basically what we are doing. Except that the author apparently doesn't want us to go after the bad guys at the same time. Just sit in our defended enclaves, surrender the initiative to the enemy, and somehow expand the enclaves when the enemy can attack at will with only aerial attack a worry.Basically, give the enemy time to prepare to attack us.

Man, oh man. This is simply a prescription to have the enemy pounce on these oil spots. While offensive operations alone cannot work without securing the population, just sitting in the population centers won't work either.

Belmont Club addresses the situation much better.

Wretchard notes that an oil spot strategy requires us to keep the oil spots free of the enemy by controlling who gets into the population. Insurgents can't be allowed within the secured area. This is especially difficult in areas where the enemy has a sympathetic population. I wrote that we needed to sift the population and commented on our methods here. Wretchard reports on how we are doing now and highlights how a former exporter of terror requires the enemy to attempt to infiltrate the area to launch attacks.

Securing the people can't be done in passively and in isolation. Part of our strategy has to be going after the enemy to atomize the enemy, as I addressed most recently here:

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.

This is what is missing by the critics of our current strategy in the recent oil spot debate. It is not sufficient to just build walls and patrol secured areas as the spot activists want. For if the enemy roams free outside the oil spots, they will eventually hit the "secure" areas and then infiltrate them as the feeling of security is eroded by attacks on the enclaves.

The calculus of security is not merely dependent on one variable--beefing up our defenses. A good result includes reducing the enemy capacity to attack. Atomize the enemy and make them expend effort avoiding our attacks, and even partially trained defenders can handle the reduced threat. But let the enemy spend all its time planning and be free to mass when they want to strike, and we ensure that even American troops won't be sufficient to stop determined attacks from succeeding on occasion and providing propaganda victories for the enemy. Oil spots will shrink and be absorbed into the sands of Iraq with this strategy.

Wretchard also says that body counts are quite relevant because they kill experienced enemy forces and make them easier to defeat because the new crop is deprived of institutional memory of other insurgents and terrorists who pass down their knowledge.

I have to disagree here:

Sure, killing the active insurgents is a necessary component of defeating insurgents but it is not key. Look at the war from our point. Despite what opponents of the war call "heavy" casualties, our troop strength in Iraq has not dropped one bit. We replace our losses and keep fighting. The insurgencies (as Sensing notes) needed not to kill our army but kill our ability to send troops to Iraq. Attrition simply could not wreck our ability to send troops. Only killing our morale so we didn't want to send more troops could reduce our strength.

Likewise with the insurgents. Kill off their fighters and they recruit more (through ideology, fear, or importation), and they keep fighting. Kill a lot and they simply hunker down until they recruit more. The key has always been drying up the recruits and support--draining the swamp.

We are doing this. Our non-military efforts from medicine to reconstruction to elections have made joining the insurgencies less appealing. On the military side we did not declare free-fire zones and create more insurgents than we killed by indiscriminate military actions.

Killing at high ratios is not the answer to insurgencies. While it is certainly important to kill off those fighting right now, the key is stopping the replacements. This is what the enemy recognizes. Why else do they count on our press to destroy our ability to replace losses? Killing relatively small numbers of Americans cannot ever defeat us militarily; but making the American people unwilling to send troops to fight in Iraq will defeat us. We killed the enemy at high ratios in Vietnam right up until when we had to pull out when our public tired of fighting. The enemy's willingness to keep dying was higher than ours.

Why is it difficult for people to grasp this simple fact? If kill ratios were the only important thing, we could declare free-fire zones across al Anbar and rack up the body count like nobody's business. Would anybody want to declare that they think this would lead to victory? When the jihadis use of free-suicide bomber zones has alienated more and more Iraqis, how would Iraqis react to our application of firepower in massive amounts?

If we killed a lot, the enemy would pull back and train; and come at us again when they felt strong enough. It may take more planning to conduct fewer attacks with less experienced insurgents, but the enemy can still pull them off with some luck and given enough time. As long as the recruits come in, the enemy can keep this up. Look at the Iran-Iraq War. The Iraqis killed the hopped-up Iranian jihadis in massive numbers (ok, it was only about a 2:1 ratio but lots died) but when the Iranians were hammered too much they pulled back until they were ready to go over the top again. The Iranians did this for years until the Iraqis attacked and broke Iran before troop morale could recover.

To recap, we can't secure population centers without atomizing the enemy which makes our Iraqi friends relatively more capable than the enemy and which keeps the enemy busy surviving rather than attacking. Further, good kill ratios are only important tactically. It helps to keep our losses down by being more effective but this is just a holding action. Stopping the recruitment of new enemy forces is the only way to defeat the enemy.

As Iraq builds better security forces and an effective government that pulls people into the new Iraq, recruits for the enemy will dry up. Only then can we stop our offensive actions and police the secure areas--which by then should be all of Iraq.

And once Iraqi forces are fighting the insurgents without our forces on the line, the insurgent and terrorist hope of getting Americans to tire of sending replacements will die--because the Iraqi government forces have nowhere to withdraw to and it will be victory or death. And with 80% of the population and the powers of the Iraqi state behind them, even if all the Sunnis resist the government, in time the Kurds and Shias will win.

And if the Sunnis are smart, they will take the opportunity provided by the jihadi invaders to join the government and earn a place in the new Iraq by fighting the invaders.


So the press says the "anti-war movement" was active this weekend?

Anti-war? Really? (via Real Clear Politics) The organizers of the protests are anything but anti-war:

To be against war and militarism, in the tradition of Rosa Luxemburg and Karl Liebknecht, is one thing. But to have a record of consistent support for war and militarism, from the Red Army in Eastern Europe to the Serbian ethnic cleansers and the Taliban, is quite another. It is really a disgrace that the liberal press refers to such enemies of liberalism as "antiwar" when in reality they are straight-out pro-war, but on the other side.

These guys are communists. Period. They attract non-communists who don't know or don't care that they are there just to provide legitimate cover to the thugs who support our enemies. Sadly, many appear to be trying to relive their youthful glory days of 1970 when they got stoned and chanted up to four (math majors, they weren't).

This isn't original, but I tend to agree that there's nothing wrong with these protester types that shotguns and soap won't cure.

When the press can't get domestic hurricanes right, reporting baseless rumor as fact and then getting all indignant that the President let it happen; and when the press can't seem to even accurately identify who is protesting over here and what they really want; I suppose it is too much to think the press can possibly get it right about Iraq.

And would it be too much to ask for the sake of accuracy that the protesters carry signs that say "Get your troops out of Iraq"? Getting their troops out of Iraq would involve an entirely different set of people than American troops.

Monday, September 26, 2005

Peking Will Define Rational

When I contemplated how China would attempt to invade Taiwan in the post "Taiwan Crisis: Part III," I assume that the Chinese want to localize the conflict by not attacking America or Japan:

I further assume that the Chinese want to keep this a localized conflict so they won't open with a Pearl Harbor-style attack on our forces at Guam, Okinawa, or any other US bases in Japan. They may not even be capable of seriously hitting bases successfully so far away. An ineffective attack would be counter-productive. Why bother emphasizing the internal nature of the conflict if you are going to internationalize the crisis by attacking other nations? When the war needs to be won quickly before the US and Japan intervene, why make it easier for America and Japan to intervene by essentially deciding for us? Why give the UN cause to get involved? Absent direct inter-state conflict, our response could be delayed critical days or weeks.

So when I read various accounts of how Taiwanese are protesting in the streets to pressure the legislature to purchase weapons capable of defeating the Chinese threat, I see events that fit in with my view. The Chinese would love it if the Taiwanese could not offer effective resistance, thus allowing the Chinese to overrun the island before we can intervene. If the Chinese can capture Taiwan quickly before America and possibly Japan can decide to intervene and then get troops into the fight, China will win and present us with the choice of accepting the result or fighting to reverse the conquest. Speed reduces the threat of a Sino-American War.

But then Jeff at Caerdroia notes this RAND testimony to Congress. This analysis notes that the Chinese seem to believe that speed is necessary to win; but that also the Chinese will need to hit American forces in a surprise assault to keep us out of the fight for the time the Chinese need to capture Taiwan:

At least some Chinese military analysts believe that the United States is sensitive to casualties and economic costs and that the sudden destruction of a significant portion of our forces would result in a severe psychological shock and a loss of will to continue the conflict. When this principle is combined with the preceding two, it suggests a belief that a preemptive surprise attack on U.S. forces in the Pacific theater could cause the United States to avoid further combat with China. It does not need to be pointed out to this panel that the last time such a strategy was attempted in the Pacific the ultimate results were not altogether favorable for the country that tried it, but the Chinese military doctrinal writings we examined in this study did not acknowledge the existence of such historical counterexamples.

This runs contrary to my analysis which says that China will try to isolate the battlefield by avoiding giving us an excuse to intervene. Striking us or Japan automatically makes the issue inter-state. Focusing just on Taiwan will cause hesitation on our part, in my opinion. Plenty of people here will swallow the idea that this is an internal matter and so none of our business.

So what will China do? This question raises the problem of predicting actions. Do I analyze based on what I'd do if I was in charge? On my imperfect understanding of what the Chinese think? My analysis is based on both, I think. But the RAND analysis undercuts my thinking completely. Or is RAND basing too much on a 1941 template that sees our Pacific enemy trying to Pearl Harbor us?

On the other hand, the RAND analysis seems to indicate that if the Chinese were to strike us, it would be an attack on Guam. Attacks on Japan-based US forces are also part of the scenario. So building up defenses against a Chinese Pearl Harbor can be done without too much difficulty. Indeed, I'm horrified at some of the suggestions such as hardening facilities. We haven't done this already?

So despite my feeling that the Chinese would try to make deciding to intervene more difficult for us, I can't rule out that the Chinese look east and decide they can't take the chance of us deciding to intervene quickly and then doing so effectively. We may think that we'd need two weeks to get decisive forces into the battle, but if the Chinese think we can do so in 4 days, attacking us to make sure the PLA gets ten more days to conquer Taiwan becomes prudent and not risky. Or perhaps the Chinese think they need three weeks. Or four. Basically, if the Chinese judge they need more time to win than they think they can get before we intervene, then attacking us either prior to the invasion or during it becomes very rational from their point of view.

And consider that building up Guam's defensive abilities and capacity to absorb damage will be more effective in the short run to detering the Chinese from invading Taiwan than counting on the Taiwanese legislature to buy the weapons they need to defend their country.

This decade sucks. I think I've mentioned that.

Sunday, September 25, 2005

Inter-State Warfare

I don't blog much about Israel's battle with Palestinian terrorism. I could blog 24/7 and have insufficient time to address it and figure the Israelis can handle the threat. They have my sympathies and best wishes.

As the Israelis pull out of Gaza, nobody should think that the Israelis have solved their problems. They just cleared the decks, eliminated potential hostages with the settlers removed, and made it easier to strike back without worrying about the safety of Israeli settlers and soldiers protecting them.

The Israelis shouldn't expect any sympathy from Europe, of course.

But plans to strike back should be easier, now. Now any damage will be the responsibility of the Palestinians to repair and in time, even the Palestinians might tire of lack of jobs and sanitation in exchange for the privilege of being the only Arabs to fight the Israelis. Yeah, Arab sympathies lie with supporting that fight but they never support direct action lest they get their own personal butts whipped. As long as Israel occupied the Palestinian territories, the Palestinians wouldn't notice this little fact. Now, this cannon fodder aspect of their people will come to the fore, I think.

The Israelis have one disadvantage in fighting the Palestinian Authority, however. Having withdrawn from the Gaza Strip and planning for West Bank withdrawal, the Israelis have shown that actually occupying Palestinian territory is not an option. So the Palestinians know that no matter what they do, the Israelis won't recoccupy them. That's a heck of an advantage (and one the Taiwanese would love to have, I should add).

It will be a long time before the Palestinians tire of fighting. But I think on this path they can tire.

On a related matter, with settlers pulled out of Gaza, shouldn't the settlers reconsider their mission? When their own state seemed the only way to preserve the safety of Jews after the Holocaust, it made sense to have a state that could protect Jews if nobody else would. But when the threat of nuclear weapons held by Islamofascist nutballs looms over Israel, is massing in one small state the safest thing to do? Settlers providing buffer zones against Arab armies makes no sense now. Israel is conventionally superior to any conceivable combination of invaders.

Really, the settlers might want to consider scattering across the globe in communites that can rebuild Israel just in case jihadis get a few nukes into Israel.

Be Careful Calling for Logic

The Iranians are shocked that the IAEA has voted to take up the Iran issue:

Iran on Sunday rejected a resolution by the U.N. nuclear watchdog agency that put it one step away from Security Council referral, calling the move "illegal and illogical" and orchestrated by the United States.

Some 180 lawmakers also denounced the resolution and called on the Iranian government to scale back cooperation with the International Atomic Energy Agency.

I"m sure that when you are used to complete wussies on the other side of the negotiating table, a minor sign of resolve is actually illogical.

But I find it illogical that the Iranian lawmakers react to the IAEA's concerns that Iran is not cooperating with the IAEA and is in fact pursuing nuclear weapons by declaring they will openly cooperate less!

If we were dealing with a logical world, we'd JDAM the Iranian mullahs and the world community would applaud our action to keep the nutballs of Tehran from having nukes. I wish logic was involved. How freaking logical is it to hope the mullahs will act nice once they have nukes or that the mullahs are not pursuing nukes?

The article notes:

Diplomats from countries backing the resolution said it set Iran up for possible Security Council referral as early as November, when the board meets in regular session.

So what's the deal? I figure we need to overthrow the mullahs in the fall when summer driving is over yet before winter heating needs kick in. We need a season when energy needs are lighter in order to deal with a temporary disruption when the revolution kicks in with our support to knock the mullahs out.

Are we counting on the revolt taking place before November referral in order to give the new Iranian government the ability to hold off international sanctions by admitting the prior regime's deceptions and cancelling the nuclear weapons programs and inviting the world in to confirm nuclear arms programs are demolished?

It isn't Iran with nuclear power that I fear, it is the mullahs with nukes that are a danger.

Let the Iranians without nutballs in charge have reactors. Heck, with the right to do so they may decide it makes little economic sense to carry on with this path.

But ending the mullah regime is step one. I cannot believe we are not planning to overthrow the mullahs. That is illogical.

The PLAN Will Unpack Them

I sometimes get the feeling that some Americans judge Taiwan able to defeat the Chinese because they believe that the arms that President Bush offered the Taiwanese are revved up and pointing out to sea, ready to do battle. In reality, they take time to integrate into a military and the Taiwanese haven't even decided to buy them yet! Then the troops have to be trained. The commanders need to get used to how they can be used. It will be years and years before these weapons are actually usable against the Chinese.

Remember please, like I said, that the Taiwanese have not yet agreed to buy them:

Even though the government slashed the budget from $18 billion to $15 billion and finally $11 billion, the opposition parties, with a slim majority in parliament, said the advanced weapons were still too expensive, unnecessary and against the people's wishes.

Despite the marchers who want the weapons purchased, counter-demonstrators demonstrated their tenuous grasp of reality:

But dozens of opponents staged a small protest outside Taiwan's parliament, saying the U.S. arms deal would start an arms race with China and squeeze social spending.

Start an arms race? This article at least notes this:

President Chen Shui-bian, visiting Central America, blasted the opposition parties for blocking the budget to please Beijing.

"At a time when the balance of military power is tilting in China's favor, isn't it true that we need the weapons more than anything else?" Chen said in comments broadcast by Taiwan cable news networks.

In the past Chen has emphasized the threat from China, pointing to double-digit growth of its military budget and the positioning of between 650 and 730 missiles aimed at Taiwan[.]

Yet the opposition does not want these weapons:

The United States first offered the arms deal in 2001 but it has been postponed by opposition parties which favor closer ties with China.

I am amazed and worried that the opposition favors closer ties with the mainland so much that they will support any method to achieve it, including supporting a Chinese invasion.

So the Taiwanese who want to defeat any Chinese invasion must have some confidence that they can win if they fight:

"If we don't give our soldiers the most advanced weapons, how are they supposed to fight China and defend Taiwan?" said pro-independence activist Ng Chiautong who organized the march.

"We must be willing to pay for the weapons for our own defense and we must be confident Taiwan will not lose," Ng said.

How else can fewer than 25 million people maintain their morale in the face of an invasion by the forces of 1.2 billion? If they think they can win, they will fight. If they think resistance is futile, they will collapse.

And it gets worse. We would have the worst of both worlds if we declared our intention to intervene in case of a Chinese attack and found our units moving onto Taiwan only to find the Taiwanese military has collapsed because it is simply too weak to resist. Better to say nothing and let China capture Taiwan than to intervene and lose anyway. So the Taiwanese had best head this warning from the American government:

The delay has fueled worries in Washington that Taipei is not serious about its own defense. The United States recognizes Beijing's "one China" policy but is also obliged by the Taiwan Relations Act to help Taipei defend itself.

U.S. Defense Security Cooperation Agency director Edward Ross has said the arms package has become a "political football" in Taiwan and warned that Washington may not come to Taiwan's aid if the island cannot defend itself.

Taiwan is dangerously divided and I worry that the Taiwanese people will be unable to come to a consensus over the weapons they need to defend themselves.

China will come after Taiwan. I have no doubt of this. And if the Taiwanese are willing and capable of fighting the Chinese, we will intervene to help them win. If we fight with Taiwan, the Chinese will lose--there is not doubt there, either..

Unfortunately, it is the middle part of the equation that is in tremendous doubt right now--will the Taiwanese fight and can they resist for more than a token twenty-four hours?

I think I pretty much quoted the entire article but reordered it to make sure it explains the situation. There is a real danger that the Taiwanese will be so tardy in ordering the weapons that they will be in warehouses in Taiwanese ports when the Chinese overwhelm the Taiwanese and capture the island.

It would be a damn shame if Taiwanese democracy is the tool the Chinese exploit to keep Taiwan vulnerable to an invasion.

Saturday, September 24, 2005

The Real First Gulf War

I forgot but the 25th anniversary of the First Gulf War (aka the Iran-Iraq War. Desert Storm would then be the Second Gulf War; 2003 could be the Third Gulf War) was September 22nd. In 1980, Saddam's forces invaded revolutionary Iran thinking they could end the perceived threat from Iran by humiliating revolutoin-wracked Iran with a short and victorious war.

So what lessons are appropriate for today?

One, wars rarely go according to plan and hoped-for limited wars can spiral out of control. Defeating your enemies and not just teaching them a lesson and hoping they will come to terms should be the objective when you go to war.

Two, fanatics can be stopped if you kill enough of the fanatics. Fervor in the end falls to firepower if firepower is ruthlessly applied until the enemy breaks. In Iran's case, Iraq had to kill Iranians for eight years before the Iranians broke and agreed to end the war.

Three, offensive action is required to cement victory. The Iranian military bled to death at Karbala V at the winter of 1986-1987, but the Iranians hung on until the Iraqi offensives in the spring of 1988 hammered home the fact that Iran's ground forces were broken in spirit. Had Iraq not attacked, the Iranian military would have eventually recovered. Of course, the Iranian government that broke in 1988 was not eliminated and so it recovered and is back in the aggression and terrorism business big time.

Four, half-measures against fanatical states do not work. Fanatical states can't be taught a lesson--they will keep trying to kill you if they are not eliminated.

Five, Iran did not close the Strait of Hormuz because they need oil exports as much as their enemies and need imports to keep functioning. Despite years of provocation by Iraq, Iran was able to restrain the suicidal impulse to threaten the West and invite in Western intervention. By 1987-1988, Iran did lose it and trigger US-led Western intervention but Tehran restrained themselves for years until defeats on the main front could not settle them down.

Six, When Iran sees a threat to the west out of Iraq, they will go hammer and tongs at that threat to try and defeat it. Again and again, Iran launched "final offensives" to break the Iraqi lines.

Seven, Iraq can survive as a unified state even under extreme pressure.

I worry that Iran will strike us in Iraq using conventional, massed forces against Basra and possibly Kuwait. If they do, they may well try to win on the ground while keeping the Strait of Hormuz open for their trade. The Iranians will accept heavy casualties to win this battle. Iraq can endure this hit and not shatter, and we must kill lots of Iranians to hold them off. If the Iranians hit us and we manage to absorb the initial blow, we must go on to destroy the mullah regime. Do not let the Iranians go home intact where they will gear up for another blow.

We must make sure that a Fourth Gulf War is the last one and that we win it.

NOTE: I updated the link to my old paper on 18 JAN 11.

Why I Need Nuance Instruction

The big-brained, reality-based community has its work cut for it in explaining their views to me.

Like I said, I don't fully grasp the nuance of attacking military campaigns because the enemy scatters and also because the enemy comes to fight.

But I don't understand another concept that has been criticized by the reality-based community since the period just after 9-11. Then, the President said of foreign countries that "you are either with us, or against us." I assumed it was a fine rhetorical device and never figured it was a literal choice. But the BBRBC derided the statement as simplistic and--of course--lacking in nuance. Sure, since that time the same people like to pretend they are engaged in deep thinking by asking why we invaded Iraq while we leave Saudi Arabia alone. Never mind that nuance would seem to require you to deal with each country according to its circumstances and according to our strategic needs. From the beginning, I assumed we'd take help as we can get it and indeed, that is what we have done. Any pressure is done quietly and many governments help us in one way or another in varying degrees of enthusiasm.

But really, that isn't what I'm talking about when I ask for a Nuance Instruction Teach-in (and Puppet demonstration, natch). I'm wondering why the Left is inclined to criticize that statement even if it was meant to be taken literally.

The Left in this country, prior to 9-11, liked to demonstrate its moral superiority by caring for any cause that the Leftist mind could conceive. And they insisted we all care. As they said, "If you aren't part of the solution, you're part of the problem."

I don't know about you, but that sounds an awful lot like "if you aren't with us, you're against us." And I think the Leftists who spouted this meant it far more literally than our President's version. For the Leftists, you had to follow their solution exactly and with the same level of enthusiasm to be considered part of the solution. Nuance, indeed.

And to take it a step further, with the media made up of reporters overwhelmingly liberal in their outlook, how do they square their "neutral" stand in reporting the war? One would think they have a stake in defeating Islamofascism with its embrace of all sorts of hideous practices that should horrify the Left. It horrifies me and I'm a knuckle-dragger.

Yet I bet that in the world prior to 9-11, lots of press types were able to feel immensely superior morally because they sipped organic, shade-grown, coffee picked by an indigenous person who gathered the beans on a cooperative farm while wearing a hemp-Che Guevera t-shirt while softly singing Joan Baez songs. An American humanities student would, of course, be playing a guitar in the background while on a for-credit excursion to see authentic Third World people in action. The reporter would feel superior because other people--like me--do not share their coffee shopping preference.

Yet in reporting on Iraq or any part of the struggle against Islamofascism, they detach themselves in professional neutrality treating murdering scum as just another side to write about (Hat Tip: Caerdroia).

So if the press is neutral in the great struggle of our age (and I mean Islamofascism and not the Bush presidency), can they be said to be part of the problem? Or even against us?

Like I said, I just don't fully grasp this nuance thing. From my perspective, it's awfully darn close to being just plain shameful.

Not a Mistake But a Good Call

Many opponents of the war--and some supporters--are insistent on admitting mistakes. What amazes me are so-called mistakes that I think are not mistakes but decisions that will help us defeat the Iraq insurgency.

There are three mistakes that some say we have made in Iraq that hinder our chances of victory. That we have too few troops to win; that we should partition Iraq into independent Sunni, Kurdish, and Shia states; and that we made a mistake of disbanding the Iraqi army.

We have enough troops and the problems caused by too many troops far outweigh any theoretical advantage; and I don't think we can trust the Sunnis in a state of their own. I've addressed these issues many times and won't go into them here.

The third one though, I want to hit again if only because Strategypage has my six on this one and I want to quote them:

There is still much support for terrorists among the Sunni Arab population, and many Sunni Arabs believe that, if the Coalition troops can be forced to leave, the Sunni Arab tribes can somehow subdue the Kurds and Shia Arabs, and regain control of the country. But the best opportunity for this was lost when the Sunni Arab dominated army and civil service was disbanded after the 2003 invasion. The army and civil service are now thoroughly Kurdish and Shia Arab, and this annoys the Sunni Arabs a great deal. But the Sunni Arabs have been in charge for so long (centuries, even under three centuries of Turkish domination), that they see it as their right to rule. Many other Sunni Arabs in the region, and many Europeans as well, agree.

First of all, let me repeat myself: there was no army to disband except in the most formal legalistic sense. The Iraqi army self-disbanded during the major combat operations. Disbanding was a formality. But the key is even if the Iraqi army existed at the time of disbanding, we would have needed to effectively disband it. We would have had to start from scratch, de-Baathify the ranks, cashier the high-ranking officers that committed no crimes; retrain the lower ranking officers; and try the guilty ones for crimes. Otherwise, the new army would have been a fragile instrument upon which to rely.

Can you imagine the April 2004 Fallujah uprising and the Sadr revolt if we had retained Baathist-era troops without sifting them? Instead of Iraqi units disintegrating, we could have had units defecting to the enemy. We could have witnessed government departments and entities declaring themselves for the insurgents. Had that happened we would have had a real Sepoy Mutiny crisis. The Sunnis believed then and continue to believe that they should rule Iraq. If given the chance they would have tried to reclaim what they believe is their God-given right to rule Iraq. And they would have expected and received support from the wider Sunni world. Instead, the Iraqi government stayed loyal and we coped with the enemy offensive with our units and the few remaining loyal and effective Iraqi units to beat back the offensive.

Now, the former victims of the Baathists are in charge of the government and security apparatus, and are gaining numbers, training, and experience every day. Even if we left, the Shias and Kurds would beat the Sunnis and foreign jihadis (though in a far more brutal fashion than we'd tolerate as long as we remain).

So end this talk of the so-called mistake of disbanding the Iraqi army and de-Baathifying the ranks of the government. That mistake, in fact, may have saved us from defeat. Not every Baathist needed to go, but a heavy hand was preferable to a light hand. Because the Baathists were largely gone from the government's ranks by spring 2004, we did not face a major defeat that we could not recover from when the April 2004 enemy offensive took place. So I am completely amazed that this "error" talk keeps cropping up.

And drop the US troop strength and partition talk as well. Because I swear to God I'll blog on them again if I must.

Thursday, September 22, 2005

And D-Day Didn't Create More Nazis

I do tire of the idea that our war in Iraq is creating terrorists. As if jihadis weren't killing us and training in peace in large numbers prior to our destruction of Saddam's regime. Truly it is a strange training ground where the vast majority of your trainees are killed or captured, which is what Iraq is for the jihadis.

In this light, read this from Strategypage originally published in April 2001, to see that reasons to kill infidels have been around a long time along the Green Lines (named after the line in Beirut in Lebanon's old civil war between Christian and Moslem sections) between Islam and the rest of the world:

Radicals throughout the Moslem world continue to take advantage of dissatisfaction among the people and recruit terrorists and supporters. To help this process along they invoke the ancient grudges popular among many Moslems. Most of these legends involve Christians beating on Moslems. To most radicals it makes sense to get people agitated over faraway foreigners rather than some strongman nearby.

Most radicals lack the skills, money or ability to carry their struggle to far-off places. So most of the agitation takes place among Moslem populations. Any violent attitudes generated are easily directed at available non-Moslems. Thus we have all those Green Lines. But the more violence you have along those Green Lines, the more really fanatical fighters are developed. These are the people who are willing to travel to foreign lands and deal with non-believers, and kill them for the cause. We call it terrorism; the fanatics call it doing what has to be done. All because of religious wars in far-off places.

So we added one more Green Line in Iraq. Is it really fair to say we are creating more terrorists because now we fight back? If so, then you really do have to say that we created more Nazis by launching Overlord and marching into Germany. Would the Germans have mobilized as many as they did if we hadn't attacked?

The point is winning against the enemy. And Iraq is one Green Line where we are winning. As in Afghanistan, we ended the sanctuary for a hideous regime that prepared terrorists to go to far-off places. And we created two governments that actively fight terrorists instead of train and support them. Other governments are now serious about tracking these guys down instead of looking the other way as long as they didn't kill the locals. This includes Europeans and even the Saudis. Sure, it pisses off some who then join the jihadis, but it is better to fight back and then win. Enough were pissed off before Iraq to launch 9-11 and if we never fought back, enough would have been pissed off to eventually detonate a nuke in one of our cities. By fighting we can win and hopefully kill that threat.

Some in our country think it is folly to even fight these wild men, noting they welcome death in order to kill us and so how do you fight such men? How, these anti-war people ask, do you reduce their numbers by killing them when they are eager to die and more join? I'd rather ask how you make peace with such men. But that's just me.

But look at what it takes to find men willing to die in suicidal attacks (again from Strategypage--I swear I read other things besides this excellent site today). Strategypage notes the varied efforts to go after the recruits for suicide bombings in Saudi Arabia, which has fertile ground for jihadis (and not from poverty, I should say):

These efforts seem to be working, judging from the experience Iraqi police are having with Saudi al Qaeda volunteers of late. The captured Saudis (who have often fled from al Qaeda control) tell of deception and coercion being used to get them into Iraq to serve as suicide bomber. Such desperate measures to obtain suicide bombers is not unusual. The Palestinian terrorist organizations had to use similar coercive techniques when they ran short of volunteers. Some bad publicity, or a lot of failed attacks (and live bombers being sent to prison for a long time), would discourage a lot of potential volunteers. To make up the shortage, kidnapping, blackmail or other forms of coercion would be used.

Fighting in Iraq is certainly far from the only front in our global war. Intelligence and police efforts to sweep up the cannon fodder, their recruiters, and their financers before the jihadis can get into action are invaluable, as is pressure on the governments that facilitate their movement and equipping--or the destruction of such regimes. But arguing that we cannot fight such committed men ignores that we are killing them off or capturing them so effectively in Iraq that recruiting suicide jihadis is getting tougher.

The jihadi hate existed long before Iraq. Iraq didn't create the hatred as so many argue today. If it wasn't Iraq it would be something else. Jihadis are really good at coming up with reasons to hate us and kill us. I wouldn't get too worked up about what the reason du jour is.

And while fighting in Iraq won't end the hatred all by itself, by creating democracy there it is going a long way to helping the Islamic world turn its back on the killers. And in the meantime, we kill the bad guys. Until we can solve the problem of Islam tolerating terrorism, that will buy time.

I'm In Need of Some Big-Brained Nuance

I'm in need of the deep understanding of military affairs that comes from having a reality-based, big-brained, nuanced outlook. Namely, I don't understand two common complaints about the war:

1. Afghanistan was a mistaken war because we scattered al Qaeda jihadis and they scattered to the four corners where they are even tougher to combat. The threat remains high and we made an error attacking.

2. Iraq is a mistake because it is creating and drawing jihadis to Iraq where we continue to fight them. This experience is making the jihadi terrorists more dangerous by giving them experience in terror.

So is it bad if the terrorists stand and fight? Or bad if they run? Help me. My knuckle-dragging, simple-minded, black-and-white mind can't grasp this apparent contradiction.

Or is it just bad if George W. Bush does it?

Nuance!!! I need nuance!!!

We Own the Oceans

Strategypage has a good review of our Navy and starts out:

For some years now we have been hearing claims from some people that the U.S. Navy (USN) is “too small” to meet the nation’s maritime defense needs. Quite frequently, comparisons are made with some date in the past; “The Navy today has fewer ships than it did in 1930.”

Strategypage addressed this topic with a similar post some time ago, beating me to the punch in discussing ship size, which I addressed here. To me, our ships today are much more capable relative to the average than they were back prior to Pearl Harbor. Those destroyers of 1941 were truly tiny ships. Our destroyers now are extremely capable.

But back to the fleet size, even if having most of our ships major warships instead of mostly being tiny escort types was irrelevant to a comparison, it is ridiculous to argue that because our fleet is smaller today it is too small:

Today, the USN enjoys a "17 Navy standard"; that is, the total tonnage of Uncle Sam’s fleet is equal to the combined total tonnage of the next 17 smaller navies. Even combining the two biggest potential naval competitors (the Chinese and the Russians), the USN still outclasses them by over 3:1 in tonnage, and it has substantially more combat power. Of the world’s 34 aviation power projection platforms (i.e., vessels capable of operating combat aircraft), the US owns 24 (71-percent), eight times more than the second leading navy, the decidedly friendly Royal Navy, which has with three V/STOL carriers. In addition, the US surface fleet carries four times as many VLS (vertical missile launchers) cells as the rest of the world navies combined. The US submarine fleet enjoys better force ratios against the next two most numerous underwater fleets than it did against the Soviets during the Cold War.

I will repeat what I've said before, I want a Navy supreme at sea, undersea, and in the air. And I can understand that naval proponents fear that we could lose focus and lose our superiority over time. Look at the decline of the Soviet navy as it became the Russian navy. In less than a generation it is a shadow of its former glory.

But let's not overstate things here and so lose credibility. Talk about how we need to maintain our superiority--not how we need to reclaim lost dominance or that we are on the verge of losing superiority. Our Navy rules the waves until you get about 12 miles from an enemy coastline. Add in the navies of our allies and our side is so supreme that I wonder why potential enemies even bother to build anything that floats.

The world is our Turkey Shoot, people. Celebrate it--don't deny it.

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Honore, You Magnificent SOB!

Lieutenant General Honore was a little frustrated with the press when reporters wanted to ask about current preparations for Rita compared to the Katrina preparations:

Army Lt. Gen. Russel L. Honore, commander of active-duty troops engaged in hurricane relief, grew frustrated with reporters when asked if the government was trying to compensate for its sluggish response to Katrina.

"Let's not get stuck on the last storm. You're asking last storm questions for people who are concerned about the future storm. Don't get stuck on stupid, reporters!" Honore said.

A reporter immediately got stuck, and the good general immediately noted that and refused to answer the Katrina-related question in light of the need to prepare for Rita and make sure accurate news went out to the people of the area.

I am only slightly disappointed in Honore. Why on Earth should he think reporters would want to report on what is happening when they can indulge in more of the blame game for Katrina? Has he not paid attention in his career to the press? When the reporters don't have the knowledge to understand what they are reporting on, they never let it slow them down. All you have to do is get indignantly mad and all is well. Just show you care, boys. Show you care.

Is the press stuck on stupid? General Honore, with all due respect, that is a feature and not a bug.

Our New Ardennes

The situation in British-run Basra and the surrounding region is getting a little hot:

THE violence that erupted on the streets of Basra yesterday was the result of a simmering struggle between British forces and the increasingly powerful Shia Muslim militias active in southern Iraq.

Attention has been focused on the Sunni Muslim insurgency against US-led forces further north, yet the British have been facing a sharp rise in attacks from an increasingly sophisticated and deadly foe.

There are strong suspicions that the bloodshed is being orchestrated with weapons and encouragement from Iran.

One, why is Muqtada al Sadr still alive? As the article notes:

Al-Sadr’s supporters are known to dominate the local police and can mobilise gunmen or mass protests at short notice, as they did regularly during an uprising last year that swept across southern Iraq.

I ask that a lot, I know, but I really would like to know.

Two, is this just a row over Britain's stance on the nuclear issue? Really, the Iranians must know that the international community will never do anything substantive about Iran's nuclear ambitions. The UN may be nervous about John Bolton's finger wagging at them over theft and child abuse, but the UN will never manage to do even that to Iran over terrorism and nuclear bombs. And if anyone is counting on the EU Three to lead the vaunted international community, cue the happy music and note this:

Iran gained a reprieve in the standoff over its nuclear program Wednesday, with diplomats saying the European Union had decided to postpone its push to refer Iran to the U.N. Security Council.

Who would have thought the EU would give Iran a reprieve? Completely out of left field. Stunning, really.

But Iran pushing the international community around is old news. I factor that in. But what about a worry outside the box? I worry that the Iranians are preparing to intervene fully in Iraq as it becomes apparent that the Sunni jihadis are only solidifying support for the government and as it becomes apparent that Syria will not be able to sustain the Baathists in their fight against the Iraq government. I think Iran is fighting to win and winning will require a more direct Iranian effort.

And I worry that intervention might not just be to support the idiot Sadr. What if the Iranians go for broke and invade Iraq with conventional forces?

And while I think a Tehran-engineered pretend revolt could be instigated in Iraq as I outlined, I wouldn't rule out a conventional military offensive by Iran. If I was ordered to go conventional, I'd send Iranian forces into southern Iraq to capture Basra. Held by a handful of British battalions and odds and sods of allied troops, these forces would be incapable of calling in US air power like US Army or Marines would. Our allies might fold quickly under these circumstances. Then announce a puppet regime under al-Sadr to make it look like a Shia revolt. Then I'd set up blocking positions to the west of Basra to block US forces from coming down from the north easily. And I'd turn south as soon as possible to hit the American and Coalition support troops in Kuwait.

If done right, hundreds if not thousands of Americans could be killed, delivering a shock to our public that we might not endure. Add in a major effort to block the Strait of Hormuz to stop reinforcements from coming to the rescue and we would have a major defeat on our hands.

I don't want to be paranoid, but when Iran's mullahs last saw a threat from Iraq to their power, they went after that threat hammer and tongs for nearly eight years.

And if Iran thinks we are coming anyway, why not try to strike first? Think of it as a Persian Battle of the Bulge. The British are holding a lot of ground with very few troops and if they have to fight off an invasion, they will be hard pressed to hold.

If Iran's mullahs perceive a democratic Iraq to be a threat to their rule, they will do what it takes. Given their thinking, can you really tell me that they think they couldn't succeed at less than the 400,000+ dead they suffered against Iraq in the 1980s? Will the mullahs believe we can endure the shock and casualties of a surprise offensive that is willing to suffer heavy Iranian casualties to kill 10,000 non-Iraqi Coalition troops?

The Eastern Front--especially in the British-protected south--is one we need to watch. It is always a mistake to think your enemies are not fighting to win. If they don't think they can win, why are they fighting?

Schrodinger's Dictator

North Korea may or may not have agreed to an outline that leads to their nuclear disarmament.

China is pushing the latest agreement out of conviction that North Korea will collapse and that China would rather not cope with the refugees that result pouring into China:

China knows North Korea will eventually collapse, and it wants to have the determinative voice in the creation of a "United Korea." Combining South Korea's dynamic economy and abundant technical skill with North Korea's material resources puts a regional powerhouse on China's border.

Hence, China plays a careful, long-range game.

A North Korean collapse will be both boon and boondoggle for South Korea. South Korea has watched Germany's economic struggles -- West Germany absorbed East Germany, but the economic costs were (are) enormous.

North Korea is in much worse shape than East Germany. This is why some South Koreans would like a "leg up" on the future. North Korea has no infrastructure. In the short-term, shipping North Korea cheap electrical power in exchange for nuclear weapons reward's Kim Jong Il's extortion game. Yet South Korea knows it will confront the daunting task of "rewiring" North Korea when Kim and his colleagues enter history's dustbin.

Add to this the recent Russian-Chinese military exercise that may have been aimed at the Korean peninsula rather than Taiwan (My post rambles, I'm afraid. I guess I shouldn't blog while stinking drunk. Just kidding). If this was a dry run to see if China could intervene with airborne and amphibious forces to keep the US and South Korea as far south as possible in the case of a North Korean collapse, did the Chinese evaluate that they could not accomplish this mission? Are the Chinese trying to hold off collapse with a deal in order to improve their ability to bite off a sizable chunk of North Korea as a buffer south of the Yalu River?

So China and with lesser influence, South Korea, are assuming that North Korea will collapse, but they don't want the collapse next week. So by aiding North Korea the consequences of such a collapse are lessened and perhaps delayed until better circumstances exist.

Considering the stakes, this is interesting:

The only certain solution to the WMD question on the Korean peninsula is regime change. The Clinton administration claimed that the reason the Agreed Framework was such an obviously bad deal was that they thought it would not matter; they expected North Korea to melt down before it could be fully implemented. Maybe some policymakers in the current administration believe the same thing. However, if North Korea is on its way into the dustbin of history then the last thing we should be doing is reaching agreements with them to provide economic aid and energy assistance. We might inadvertently stave off the inevitable, and give Kim Jong Il's regime a new lease on life. With democracy on the march around the world, this is not the time to get to "yes" with one of the most repressive totalitarian regimes on earth.

So what are we assuming? We assume North Korea has the bomb, first of all. They haven't lit one off, which makes me suspicious. Indeed, I argued that it would be good if North Korea set off a nuke in a test. Still, if they keep going this path they will get one in time. But given the difficulties of intelligence are we bribing based on a bluff?

But more to the point, we are assuming North Korea will collapse relatively soon. And compelling a North Korean collapse is our best hope for solving the North Korean problem. Even a North Korea that gives up nuclear weapons (as unlikely as I think that is given their paranoia about our intentions) could sell the technology to terrorists or hostile states. Max Boot puts it well:

Someone so demented hardly makes a reliable negotiating partner — or the proper recipient of economic aid. Although an agreement with him may be an acceptable short-term expedient, the ultimate goal of the U.S. and its allies should be to remove Kim and his criminal clique from power. The Bush administration has been slowly pursuing this goal by trying to squeeze North Korea financially. The biggest obstacles to doing more are the governments in Beijing and Seoul — North Korea's largest trading partners — which seem to view the U.S. as a greater menace than Kim.

My basic worry is that providing aid to North Korea as part of a bad deal on the assumption that North Korea will collapse anyway risks us saving Schrodinger's Cat. It may be fine to assume North Korea will collapse. Just because President Clinton wrongly assumed the 1994 deal would never need to be completed because Pyongyang would collapse is no reason to assume that it is impossible now. Indeed, I think North Korea is closer to collapse today.

But will this deal erase the assumptions that lead to North Korea's collapse? In a universe where the Pillsbury Nuke Boy both exists and does not exist simultaneously, are we making a mistake by observing the cat? And feeding it?

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Not an Honest Proposal

Other than slamming the President for not offering profuse apologies for "mistakes" in waging war in Iraq (yeah, FDR used his weekly radio addresses to list the errors he had--sheesh, wait for victory and a little perspective to list the mistakes), this author gives only the most vague suggestion to win in Iraq:

There's no shortage of good alternatives waiting in the wings. One that has recently garnered much attention is the military historian Andrew Krepinevich's "oil spot" strategy, which involves shifting the focus from killing insurgents to protecting civilians by pouring money and manpower into protected cantons where average Iraqis can see the tangible advantages of our system over Al Qaeda's.

The particulars of whatever strategy we decide to go with are, at this point, secondary. First, commitment to change must be made, and quickly.
The lack of patience is amazing. What we do is secondary to simply deciding to do something else? The author spends time lauding the military rather than setting forth why we need to change strategy and why he thinks we are losing. All he seems to be doing is making some sort of stab-in-the-back theory.

I do applaud the author's determination to win rather than just withdraw and risk the green Iraqi government losing to the Baathists and jihadis. And I find it hard to slam the author's suggestion about securing the population too much, since this is basically what we are doing. Except that the author apparently doesn't want us to go after the bad guys at the same time. Just sit in our defended enclaves, surrender the initiative to the enemy, and somehow expand the enclaves when the enemy can attack at will with only aerial attack a worry.

Basically, give the enemy time to prepare to attack us. Man, oh man. This is simply a prescription to have the enemy pounce on these oil spots. While offensive operations alone cannot work without securing the population, just sitting in the population centers won't work either.

Of course, perhaps the author just ran out of space before he could get to the other unidentified great ideas out there. Or perhaps it is behind the Great Wall of the NYT where they put their premium authors' columns.

Turner: Crush North Korea

Ted Turner is an idiot, so I have sympathy for Blitzer's job of interviewing the boss--I guess Wolf drew the short straw. I think I saw this via NRO.

But I must say that when Turner commented on the tentative agreement with North Korea to end their nuclear programs I was kind of shocked to hear Turner say this:

TT: Well, I hope I'm right, too. But, you know, in the Bible, it says you're supposed to forgive seven times seventy, or something like that. Just 1940, the Germans were our enemies. For the last fifty years, they've been our allies. The same with the Russians...The Russians were our enemies before '91 when the Cold War ended. Let's give them a break. Give them a break.

I think I remember the Biblical passage: Morons 3:17, I believe.

But back to the statement. Turner is confused. We did not become the friends of the Nazis who ruled Germany in 1940. The Germans were our allies because we firebombed their cities in round-the-clock bombing raids, invaded them with millions of troops, occupied their cities, tried and executed their Nazi leaders, generally ground them into the dirt in defeat, and made them elect decent rulers.

Nor did the communists simply become our friends "when the Cold War ended." That wasn't some passive thing that just happened. We confronted the Soviets in a global struggle that lasted for forty years, waging a war with them that went hot in the Third World and broke them financially and politically. We did not become friends with the Soviet Union and their empire--we became friends with a shrunken Russia that was stripped of its empire. Sadly, because we did not occupy the Russians after this victory, we were unable to make them elect decent rulers.

I would certainly be willing to give the North Koreans a break after Kim Jong Il shoots himself in some Pyongyang bunker and after forty years of occupation and de-Kimification.

Like I said, I'm kind of shocked at Turner's aggressive suggestion. Or is it possible he's a flipping idiot who knows nothing of even our recent history? Wolf? Your call.

Monday, September 19, 2005


North Korea will get rid of its nuclear weapons programs?

I don't want to be someone who refuses to take yes for an answer but I'm not ready to celebrate based on this news quite yet:

North Korea agreed Monday to stop building nuclear weapons and allow international inspections in exchange for energy aid, economic cooperation and security assurances, a breakthrough that marked a first step toward disarmament after two years of six-nation talks.

And I don't want to make the argument that since the agreement seems to be to the liking of North Korea it automatically means we must be unhappy with it.


1. When North Korea says they will stop building nuclear weapons does that imply they get to keep what they've built already?

2. Will the international inspections be only by those loyal international civil servants who didn't spot the post-1994 round of cheating that brought us to this point? Really, can any inspections that we would trust be acceptable to Pyongyang and could any inspections acceptable to the North be trustworthy?

3. Will the energy aid be just another means to round out their nuclear knowledge?

4. Is economic cooperation just another name for bribing North Korea? It isn't really cooperation if the cooperation consists of us handing money to the North and the North does not drop it because of lack of coordination.

5. How is it possible for North Korea to accept any security guarantees? Won't they just think it is a ruse on our part to lull them? Just what are we supposed to do to confirm that we aren't going to nuke them or invade them?

I'm not nearly ready to call it a breakthrough just because the talks didn't end in the usual blather about seas of fire and what North Korea will do to us if we don't agree to pay their price.

And I admit, I'd be much more comfortable with the North just imploding. Even a North Korea without nukes is a gulag-state the likes we haven't seen since the actual Soviet gulags.

I'm a realist enought to accept an actual deal that ends the nuclear threat to us while being an idealist enough to feel guilty about propping up such a hideous regime to gain our security.

But I'm also unconvinced we can get the former at the price of the latter. Will we get the worst of both worlds? That would certainly be a breathrough all right--for the Pillsbury Nuke Boy.

Force Five Idiocy

Hurricane Katrina is now sweeping across Africa.

With the domestic nutcases having pretty much exhausted the silly claims about Katrina, Zimbabwe's chief psychopath has picked up on the storm to cover his own thuggery. At first I thought the man was being way too generous in his love of America:

Zimbabwe's president said Sunday the U.N. housing agency should help Hurricane Katrina victims, instead of Zimbabweans left homeless by his government's slum demolitions.

Wow. That seemed really touching at first glance. But no, Mugabe simply wants to talk about anything other than his cruel campaign to starve out his nation and therefore leave him in charge without any living opposition at all:

Mugabe said the U.N. agency, the Nairobi-based Habitat, and Britain — a longtime critic of land reform policies in Zimbabwe — were hypocritical in their response to Katrina.

"They have remained silent about the shocking circumstances of obvious state neglect surrounding the tragic Gulf Coast disaster," he said, adding, "a whole community of mainly nonwhites was deliberately abandoned to the ravages of Hurricane Katrina as sacrificial lambs."

Once again, we see why we have JDAMs.

If only...

Unhappy Meal

I've grown frustrated with the people in the West who repeatedly argue that if only we addressed the legitimate grievances of the Moslem world, jihadis would stop trying to kill us.

I think that anything short of our total submission to Islam and not anything as mundane as the status of US air bases in Saudi Arabia would be enough to stop jihadis from killing us. And even then, if you aren't the right type of Moslem you might just be lumped in with the Crusaders and Jews, anyway, so don't get complacent.

So here we have on Protein Wisdom (via Caerdroia), the latest drivel that sends the average run-of-the-mill jihadi into a frenzy of body shavin' and infidel killin'. The logo on top of Burger King ice cream cones can, if you squint, turn the lights low, and remove the higher thinking lobes of your brain, look kind of somewhat like the Arabic script for "Allah":

The fast-food chain, Burger King, is withdrawing its ice-cream cones after the lid of the dessert offended a Muslim.

The man claimed the design resembled the Arabic inscription for Allah, and branded it sacrilegious, threatening a “jihad”.

As I've asked repeatedly, just what won't offend them? At some point we as a society have to shout "Enough!" At least in civil cases you have the "reasonable person" standard, as much as that can be twisted. Can't we have a "reasonable Moslem" standard for when we consider surrender to claims of anti-Moslem bias? Heck, I'd be happy if we'd just stop to consider the demands that we alter our evil ways before rushing off to the printers to herald our latest surrenders.

It's a swirly ice cream design, people--not a stoning offense. Or rather, it should not be a stoning offense. But what do I know?

Sunday, September 18, 2005

Magnificent Day for Afghanistan

Afghanistan held its parliamentary elections despite threats from the Taliban:

Violence across the country killed 15 people, including a French commando in the U.S.-led coalition that is helping Afghans build a democracy after a quarter-century of conflict, but there were no signs of a spectacular attack threatened by Taliban militants to disrupt the vote.

Jimmy Carter won't endorse it or anything (thank God), so we can be sure that this is a victory. What would have seemed impossible four years ago is pulled off because of American and Aghani resolve. And a tiny NATO presence. As small as it is--a pathetic effort collectively from a continent whose Euro elites pine for superpower status--I do thank the individual countries that gave a damn enough to help us.

Dying for a Sunni Iraq

The Sunnis continue to support the Baathist thugs and imported jihadis long past the time I'd have thought rational thought would have compelled them to join the government. Had the Sunnis joined the government while our troops were dominant in the counter-insurgency, the Sunnis might have gotten credit for being cooperative. But as Strategypage shows, the Sunnis are simply losing as the Shias and Kurds gain more training and equipment. Read the whole thing. I can't recommend it enough.

When the Sunnis go down, it will be because they lost and they won't get credit from the majority who used to be the victims of the Sunnis. Indeed, the Shias are striking back hard against the former killers. Like I've said before, just how stupid are the Sunnis? I honestly thought they'd come to their senses by now.

But I'm writing about another related part of this stupidity. The Sunni stupidity is why we can never ever partition Iraq and allow a rump Sunni political entity in central Iraq. Some think that an oil-poor Sunni Iraq will be too weak to be a threat. Regarding the Sunnis who refuse to see that they are losing, these Iraqi Sunnis believe the wider Sunni world would make sure this region would be a source of violence for generations to come:

And some Sunni Arab tribes are determined to resist until the end. They do this believing that Sunni Arab majorities in neighboring countries like Syria, Jordan and Saudi Arabia will ultimately come to their aid.

If central Iraq becomes a rump Sunni state, I believe that Sunni money would flow into it to keep the Iraqi Sunnis fighting the Shias. The wider Sunni Arab world was happy to let Iraqis die in the Iran-Iraq War to keep the Shia Persians at bay (and all the better that Iraqi Shias largely died doing it). The wider Arab world would be happy to send money and jihadi malcontents from their own countries to keep Iraq's Sunnis fighting the Iraqi Shias for another generation. If the Sunnis have to die for a Sunni Iraq, the rest of the Arab world won't cry one bit. And God knows what the Baathists buried in the deserts of western Iraq or the central Sunni areas. With money, the residual technical knowledge of the Sunnis remaining in the region, and whatever is hidden, death and destruction would flow from the Sunni Triangle.

No, we can't partition Iraq. We need the Shias and Kurds to control those nutjobs who dream of glory and who care nothing of the blood that must be shed to provide it. The Sunnis simply can't be trusted with their own country. Have we learned nothing from the 1980s and 1990s?

The Iranians are Quite Clear on the Issue

Britain's Foreign Secretary just stated such an obvious truism that I have to wonder why he even bothered to waste the ergs of energy to speak:

"This (stand-off) will not be resolved by military means, let's be clear about that," Straw told BBC radio on Sunday.

"It needs to be resolved by all facilities available to the international community, that is what we have been working on and continue to work on," Straw added.

I guess Straw was worried that the Iranians might be a little worried that after years of avoiding dealing with Iran's nuclear ambitions that the international community might grow a spine.

Really, why would Straw get that idea? What on Earth could the Iranians possibly worry about? Iran knows damn well that the international community will do nothing at all to stop Iran's nuclear drive. The only question is whether the international community will pay Iran for the privilege of pretending for a few more years that Iran isn't going nuclear.

Oh sure, the international community will never tire of holding conferences and meetings, and if that can get the Iranians to explode from boredom and frustration I suppose we can call it a success.

But basically, the vaunted international community will do nothing but express regrets when Iran gets the bomb. Should Iran use it, I'm sure the international community will be really, really, really sorry. This much is clear.

Saturday, September 17, 2005

Intervention on Korean Peninsula

My Jane's email updates had an interesting little nugget about the recent Russian-Chinese exercises:

Historic military exercises signal Sino-Russian intentions.

From 18-25 August almost 10,000 Russo-Chinese troops participated in unprecedented joint exercises in Russia and China. -Although ostensibly an anti-terrorist operation, the scale and scope of these exercises suggest other motives: anti-US collaboration in Asia, Russia's desire to showcase weapons for sales to China, and China's rehearsal of operations in and around Taiwan -However, examination of these exercises also suggests an often overlooked dimension, namely a joint desire to deter or counter potential US operations against North Korea

[Jane's Foreign Report - first posted to – 6
September 2005]

Well this is interesting for a number of reasons, if true. One, for all the talk of Iraq War opponents that Iraq has weakened us for any other contingency (as if those opponents would support any military action outside of New Orleans, but I digress), foreigners looking at our military power don't seem to think we are hobbled. For goodness sake, the Russians and Chinese apparently think we could invade North Korea! They think they need to deter us and plan for action if we aren't deterred.

Second, the fact that either country thinks it would be a good idea to come to the rescue of that abomination in Pyongyang says a lot about Moscow and Peking. They have lovely friends, eh?

Third, if true, what does this say about Chinese intervention plans? I'm assuming Russia just wants to sell the weapons that would be used. Airborne and amphibious training suggests not so much an invasion to intervene on the side of North Korea as it suggests a land grab. An intervention to defend the Northern regime would require lots of troops coming in overland followed by the logistics to sustain them. Amphibious and airborne moves, by contrast, would allow for planting tripwires as far south as possible that are designed to halt US and ROK movement to the north for fear of sparking a wider war. Such a presence can be light on power and logistics. Is Russia showing China how to pull a Kosovo in Korea? Remember that following the Kosovo War the Russians sent forces from Bosnia into Kosovo uninvited to carve out an occupation zone to bolster their Slavic brethren against NATO occupation. This lessens the second point, of course, since the rescue would only be a partial rescue to keep a rump Kimmunist state alive even as the South Koreans and US forces bit off a chunk of the North's territory.

Fourth, if this is a land grab, I wonder if the thinking in Peking and Moscow isn't so much fear of our invasion but of a North Korean collapse followed by a ROK/US intervention to restore order? Surely, the Russians and Chinese must know that even though our power is hardly depleted, South Korea is not about to support an invasion of the North; and even if we did invade, we'd need to have a lot more than the one brigade of Army troops we have on hand to carry out an invasion. This lessens the first thought, though no completely. The Russians and Chinese could realize Iraq complicates our actions without crippling our options.

Fifth, if true, it shows that waiting for a North Korean collapse just isn't a hope based on nothing. China would clearly prefer to have North Korea continue as is to be a nuclear threat against Japan and America. Otherwise they wouldn't have propped up the North like they have. But the status quo may not be possible. The Russians and/or Chinese may have reason to believe a collapse is coming based on their far more intimate knowledge of conditions inside Pyongyang.

If the joint exercises are not solely aimed at Taiwan and have a North Korean component, I guess the planning is a Korean Kosovo to keep the US from marching to the Yalu River and not a defense of the regime.

My idea of partitioning North Korea could effectively be in play.

Why We Have JDAMs

Hugo Chavez lashes out at America:

The leftist leader told a U.N. summit on Thursday that fighting the war without U.N. authorization showed Washington did not respect the world body.

Said No. Two in the Axis of El Vil:

"There were never weapons of mass destruction but Iraq was bombed, and over U.N. objections, (it was) occupied and continues being occupied," Chavez said.

I can certainly understand why Chavez opposes a non-UN approved overthrow of an oil-rich nutball thug without nukes. A little too close to home, I imagine.

And the UN audience loved it:

When he finally stopped, he got what observers said was the loudest applause of the summit.

Well that's nice. I guess El Maximo Nutball is pretty sure this audience won't authorize anybody to end his petty dictatorship.

I will grant that Hugo has one excellent suggestion:

Chavez, a close ally of Cuban leader Fidel Castro, suggested moving U.N. headquarters New York to an international city "outside the sovereignty of any state" and said some have mentioned Jerusalem as one possibility.

I wonder who the "some" are who want to internationalize Jerusalem?

But other than that, I do think we should move the UN General Assembly building to some Third World locale. If we want someplace outside the sovereignty of any state, I suggest Somalia. There is no functioning state there and forcing the representatives of the vaunted international community to do their work in downtown Mogadishu rather than New York with its amenities could have a wonderful effect on the work of the body.

The UN could hardly make that place worse. Or am I too much the optimistic internationalist in making that assumption?

But back to Chavez. The Vile One claims we plan to invade his country:

Chavez, interviewed on ABC's "Nightline," said the plan is called "Balboa" and involves aircraft carriers and planes. A transcript of the interview was made available by "Nightline."

He said U.S. soldiers recently went to Curacao, an island off Venezuela's northwest coast. He described as a "lie" the official U.S. explanation that they visited Curacao for rest and recreation.

"They were doing movements. They were doing maneuvers," Chavez said, speaking through a translator.

Planes? Aircraft carriers? Wow. That type of high-level information is really valuable. I hope Chavez paid some good money for that tidbit. Man, that guy is a goofball. Totally off his rocker.

As a free service to El Nutball, an invasion would also involve bullets and big green things called tanks. Some might even be manned by Marines. And put your highly paid spies on those "special forces" troops you were told about.

And JDAMs. Please remember the JDAMs. Because as long as he is just loony, that's one thing. As annoying as he is we have more pressing concerns.

But if he becomes dangerous in his delusions of grandeur, that is another question altogether.

UPDATE: In an amusing turn, Chavez's good friend, Jesse Jackson, apparently gave Hugo a quick rebuke on becoming the Latin Cindy Sheehan. Chavez then turned down the rhetoric:

"Sometimes I make mistakes, I tend to respond to any official from the government of Mr. Bush who verbally attacks Venezuela," Chavez said during a speech at a Manhattan church, his last public event in New York before heading to Cuba to meet with his close ally Fidel Castro.

Chavez said the Rev. Jesse Jackson and U.S. Rep. Jose Serrano, D-N.Y., who sat with him at the church, had advised him "not to be provoked" by representatives of the U.S. government.

It's nice that Jackson is so concerned with Hugo's image in America. And Rep. Serrano, whoever he is. Thanks, guys.

Friday, September 16, 2005


From the North Korean point of view, the talks that are going on make no sense at all. The North Koreans don't understand why the goodies aren't rolling in:

"If the United States continues to assert that it cannot give us a light-water reactor that will be the barometer for trust, for us, we cannot stop our way of peaceful nuclear activities for one moment," North Korean spokesman Hyun Hak Bong told reporters.

Consider the history of talks. When the North Koreans want cash, the West has been eager to provide the goodies if the North Koreans rattle their sabers a bit. I mean, it has worked in the past. So when the North Koreans yelled "boo!" a couple years ago, things started out fine when they heard some Americans calling for immediate talks (they meant ship goodies, as Pyongyang understood the game). Sadly for the Pillsbury Nuke Boy, America has been willing to talk--or not, if the North Koreans walk away in a snit. And after all this time, we still don't open the spigot for cash to flow north.

This must be terribly confusing for Pyongyang to deal with.

Let them die.

Echoes of Totalitarianism

As Europe tries to make its vision of a post-conflict, legalistic world the blueprint for the EU; and attempts to make the US accept that the whole world should work this way, we should remember (via Real Clear Politics) the previous exports of Europe that did take hold in the Middle East and what it means for Iraq and the Arab world:

Can constitutional democracy work here? Bernard Lewis, a premier historian of the Middle East, identifies the West as originator of harsh authoritarianism here, from Napoleon's dictatorship in Egypt in the 19th century, to the arrival of European-style fascism in the 20th century. Lewis insists that prior to European approaches the region produced far less menacing leaders. Lewis sees hope in history because these earlier leaders -- while not democrats -- governed through consultation and consensus among the major stakeholders in society. Looking at the political posters throughout Baghdad left over from the January election, I realize there may be a historical and cultural foundation that accepts democracy.

Those sophisticates who say the Middle East cannot handle democracy because of historical reasons ignore that the history the skeptics argue is indigenous is actually the echo of European political thought. First Napoleon's version of government penetrated the region and then the fascism, communism, and socialism that have been imported from Europe since the 1930s provided the patterns for governing.

We rid Europe of fascism and communism (socialism, sadly is still alive in Europe and in certain areas of our own country), and now we face the echoes of Europe's past exports to the Moslem world.

I don't think democracy in the Arab and Moslem worlds is a pipe dream. Their current systems are not "authentic" local customs at all. So the idea that replacing autocratic rule with democracy in the region is wrong. But eradicating the foul European ideas that have poisoned the region's development since their independence will take a lot of work.

Thursday, September 15, 2005

Mars Needs Women!

China has a problem of too few women of marrying age compared to men. The one-child policy has resulted in sex selection for that one (and don't even ask how that is done if you have a weak stomach) that has changed the usual 105:100 male-to-female births ratio to 115 or 120: 100. The result:

This impending surplus of unattached young men could be a driving force behind increased crime, explosive epidemics of HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases, and even international threats to the security of other nations. Yet the Chinese government has done little to address its demographic destiny.

Foreign aggression? I wish the author had expanded on his reference of past historical experience. Isn't it just as possible that a nation with parents who have one pampered child will be unwilling to have their only sons sacrificed for the state? Will capturing Taiwan seem reasonable when their only child is the one to die?

Perhaps we have reason to worry about the women shortage in China, but I'd like to see a little more detail on the question.

This leads to an interesting question: Will the Left be willing to fight to defend our womenfolk? Thank goodness the women's studies department at Berkeley is on the west coast. That would discourage the most "tense" Chinese private on the hunt for a mate. (Please no hate mail for that. I kid you. Really)

Axis of Evil Update

In Iraq, where Saddam is just another defendant about to go on trial (His defense? The Shias walked into a door and the Kurds fell down--repeatedly), the invaders of Iraq proudly proclaim their goals:

"If proven that any of (Iraq's) national guards, police or army are agents of the Crusaders, they will be killed and his house will demolished or burnt — after evacuating all women and children — as a punishment," the voice said in the new tape that surfaced on an Internet site known for carrying extremist Islamist content.

The speaker announced "all out war against Shiites everywhere. Beware, there will be no mercy."

I do hope the spare the women and children memo gets out to the field because this is clearly a very new policy for Zarqawi's boys. And they might want to skip on the whole house demolition thing--sounds so Israeli. Heh.

And sadly, the jihadis get in the way of Western anti-war type arguments that we caused the whole problem. An all-out war against Shias everywhere is hard to square with righteous anger over Iraq. Just kill them all, the jihadis say.

Most annoyingly, the Crusades come up again though at the time we were but a blank spot on the map where dragons and monsters were thought to swim. And if I may point this out yet again without sounding tiresome, the Crusades were an attempt to recapture what was lost to the Moslem invaders who had earlier captured the region from Christianity. So jihadis and their Western apoligists getting all huffy over the Crusades is a bit too holier-than-though for the history of the region if you ask me.

North Korea remains on our plate as well but the talks are heading nowhere:

"The differences of our positions are so great that the talks are stalemated," Japan's top envoy Kenchiro Sasae told reporters.

"North Korea's demand for a light water reactor is strong. We are not in a position to accept it as it is. The prospect is bleak unless this question is resolved," Sasae said.

The classic stand-off. They want to nuke us and most of us don't want them to be able to nuke us. Tough to resolve that difference.

But as I've said before, I'm happy with talks that go nowhere with the Pillsbury Nuke Boy. His regime will collapse, and as long as we smile, shake their hands, and walk away from the table rather than feel pressure to come to a flawed agreement simply because that's what talks are supposed to lead to, we'll do just fine. Never ever save that nutjob regime from collapsing. Talking to lull the heavily-armed but tottering psycho-regime is the only thing we can really do now.

Then of course there is Iran. Iran has a terrorist president and has been hiding its nuclear weapons programs from the world. And that's in addition to its general record of oppression and terrorism. Great guys, huh?

So it is no surprise to know that Iran thinks it will continue to get away with murder when you consider that the international community is reluctant to actually do something about Iran:

Just days before planned action on referral, the diplomats and officials told The Associated Press that the idea of giving Iran a deadline of several weeks to comply with international demands on its nuclear activities is gaining favor.

"It would not be a change in policy but a change in timing," said one
European official about the possibility of delaying — but not withdrawing — the U.N. Security Council threat. There has been strong opposition from more than a dozen nations on the board of the International Atomic Energy Agency to a demand for referral at next week's board meeting.

Shoot, after decades what is wrong with a few more weeks? And then a new member of the IAEA will join so we'll need to spend months getting them up to speed on what forms have been filled out and what forms they're waiting on. Keep going this way and in time, if the form-makers have it their way, the Iranians will blow a nuke and the international community can heave a sigh of relief and throw up their hands that exclaim now they can do nothing since Iran has gone nuclear. Then the multi-volume, professionally bound report with bright ribbons will be issued in five years.

The nations united are supposed to band together to stop such rogues but that's just the theory. In practice, the international community simply refuses to act no matter how many forms we fill out and then sputters in indignation when America finally acts to solve the problem the vaunted international community wishes to study further. I expect the sputtering on Iran to start this fall. I hope.

On our last stop, we must look at Mark Steyn and his take on the United Nations. Not technically part of the Axis of Evil, I admit, but I always think of the UN whenever I dwell on the actual evil nations that we find we must deal with. There is a reason the UN seems to side with the thugs and run interference for the evil members of our community. So I agree that Kofi Annan staying is probably the best of a whole lot of bad scenarios for the UN:

I, too, am in favour of Kofi Annan staying on, not just till his term
expires in December 2006, but for five, ten years after that, if he wishes. If I was as eager for UN ‘reform’ as its supporters claim to be, I’d toss Kofi to the sharks and get some new broom in to sweep clean. But if, as I do, you believe 90 per cent of UN ‘reforms’ are likely to be either meaningless or actively harmful, a discredited and damaged secretary-general clinging to office is as good as it’s likely to get — short of promoting Didier Bourguet, the UN staffer in Congo and the Central African Republic charged with running a paedophile ring. A UN that refuses to hold Kofi Annan to account will be harder to pass off as a UN that represents the world’s ‘moral authority’, in Clare Short’s blissfully surreal characterisation.

What’s important to understand is that Mr Annan’s ramshackle UN of humanitarian money-launderers, peacekeeper-rapists and a human rights commission that looks like a lifetime-achievement awards ceremony for the world’s torturers is not a momentary aberration. Nor can it be corrected by bureaucratic reforms designed to ensure that the failed budget oversight committee will henceforth be policed by a budget oversight committee oversight committee. The oil-for-food fiasco is the UN, the predictable spawn of its utopian fantasies and fetid realities. If Saddam grasped this more clearly than Clare Short or Polly Toynbee, well, that’s why he is — was — an A-list dictator and they’re not.

This I know I've touched on. Even an honest UN would not really be in our interests. We'd still be voted down just because we're the biggest guy on the block but the body would have more reason to pretend it is the embodiment of a legitimate community of nations.

I prefer the UN as it is: thugs who we can ignore while we deal with the messes they enable. Sure, it is annoying that the Left continues to worship at the feet of an organization they'd make hand puppets for protests if it was called the United Halliburtons, but we don't live in a perfect world. So I'll take a UN as is, as long as we have people like John Bolton to slap them around and keep them busy by chasing them through the halls of Turtle Bay.

So there you go. Your Axis of Evil (and Friends) update. Stay tuned.