Monday, October 31, 2005

So Familiar ...

So permanent members of the UNSC have blocked a toughly worded resolution against a Baathist thug which specified consequences and passed a resolution with no consequences for failure to comply spelled out:

The three co-sponsors [America, France, and Britian] agreed to drop a direct threat of sanctions against Syria in order to get support from Russia and China, which opposed sanctions while the investigation is still under way. Nonetheless, the resolution was adopted under Chapter VII of the U.N. Charter, which is militarily enforceable.

Come on memory, what happened the last time the UN passed a resolution without consequences spelled out when some UNSC members objected?

Oh yeah, I remember now.

The Boy Assad will not draw comfort from this victory for vagueness.

And I know that critics of the Iraq War like to claim this campaign simply makes us unable to fight anywhere else (Hah! As if they'd use our military against anything but hurricanes!), but I assure you our enemies don't think we are hobbled. And our precision attack and recon ability has gone way up in three years. Boy Assad isn't sleeping on the top floor, I'd say.

For the record, I don't think we are planning a military campaign against Syria to topple the regime. Nor do I think it is necessary. Assad has a fundamentally weak regime and we only need to hobble them to achieve much--and possibly put them on the road to internal adjustments.

Talk, Talk, Die, Die

The North Koreans are upset that our pressure over other issues is making them less willing to negotiate their nuclear plans:

"The basic spirit of the joint statement of the talks is mutual respect and peaceful coexistence," the North Korean news agency said. "The pressure campaign launched by the U.S. under the groundless pretexts of 'human rights abuse' and 'illegal trafficking' defying this spirit is little short of annulling the statement."

It said such U.S. pressure could heighten tensions and "hamstring the process for denuclearizing the Korean Peninsula."

An interesting claim that wrongly assumes North Korea is willing to get rid of their nuclear plans.

It also assumes we think anything can come of the talks.

Personally, I simply want the talks to drag on while North Korea implodes. Every month the talks go on, the more North Korea's military machine deteriorates. Each month, North Koreans head toward the point when fear is outweighed by desperation.

Yet the talks keep the North Koreans hoping for a respite to their woes if we hand them the big check again. This hope keeps them from launching a desperate war while they can do some damage and hopefully get a frightenend West to agree to shovel money at them. The West has capitulated before and Pyongyang expects us to break again.

So keep talking and let North Korea walk if they get upset about us bringing up other issues. Every month they have a weaker option of going to war. And if they go to war, all bets are off on regime change. Nobody's stopping at the DMZ this time if the North launches a war.

If instead the people of North Korea get fed up and the military is too weak to respond, the Pillsbury Nuke Boy will flee to China with his Joy Brigade to die in comfy exile.

Sunday, October 30, 2005

Sheer Speculation

Another point from the 2005 Defense Department report on China's military power. On page 30, the report states that the nuclear Second Artillery, which controls nuclear missiles, has a regimental-sized reconnaissance element.

What on Earth is that? That puzzled me to no end. Ground troops for reconnaissance on nuclear strikes? This does not make any sense.

The next page explains the purpose of the recon element:

Second Artillery reconnaissance elements [are] to provide targeting information and battle damage assessments.

I hate to question the Department of Defense on this since I haven't studied this issue, but a saner explanation might foresee using the recon elements as a strategic force to strike enemy nuke assets. Training with the nuke boys in China gives the troops knowledge of what they'd be looking for if they dropped on an enemy site. They'd understand what an enemy would have to protect and launch nuclear missiles or bombs. They'd be able to get to the nuclear warheads or bombs much quicker with this knowledge.

While this mission wouldn't make any sense against America with our dispersed nuclear assets, if the Chines suspected that Taiwan had developed a small nuclear deterrent in secret, the Taiwanese would be likely to have a single site with the nukes. Dropping elements of a regiment of Chinese infantry that knows the difference between nuclear missiles and conventional missiles would be of tremendous help in taking away Taiwan's nuclear deterrent without a Chinese nuclear strike.

I'm sorry, but I just can't buy the idea that guys with binoculars are going to call in nuclear strikes and stick around to announce whether another nuke is needed or not.

Never Mind?

Well, the British seem to be ruling out military options to deal with Iran:

[British Defense Secretary John ] Reid said Iran appeared to be trying to confront the international community, which is considering how to respond.

"I don't think anybody is speaking about military involvement at any level about the questions we are facing just now," he said in an interview with the British Broadcasting Corp.'s Sunday AM program.

After the British seemed to be girding themselves for some type of action, this seems perplexing.

And though I thought I saw a number of events that seemed to point to a fall intervention in Iran, we're at the end of October and still nothing.

Still, I expected some type of revolt that we would support with military power and not a straight up invasion. So maybe British protests that military action is not the answer "just now" doesn't really include an internal revolt that we support once the revolt begins.

I can't bear to consider the possibility that we've decided to live with the nutjobs in Tehran and hope for the best.

More Army Brigades

In the past I've called for adding 40,000 troops to Army strength. Origninally I said we should have two new motorized division (three brigades each). Later, I figured for the same numbers we could get eight brigades faster. Given that the Army was 40,000 understrength, this essentially was a call for 80,000 more troops for the Army.

Well, by temporarily upping end strength for the war and doing internal shifting, the Army is going from 33 brigades/regiments to 43 brigade combat teams in a couple years. Five more might be formed. Strategypage describes it this way:

The U.S. Army is unlikely to increase it’s size, given current recruiting problems. The army really doesn’t want to increase its strength, knowing that each additional soldier will cost an average of $150,000 a year. The army knows that Congress is basically grandstanding by demanding that troop strength must be increased, but will not provide sufficient money to maintain those extra troops. Thus the army will have to cut back on training and new equipment in order to pay for the additional troops that are not wanted. To deal with the demands of Iraq and Afghanistan, the army is doing some long-overdue housecleaning. So far, about 40,000 troops have been shifted from support to combat jobs.

So, we filled in the existing force with added end strength and by shifting 40,000 jobs we can build ten new brigades all without a massive increase in strength for the active Army.

As I've said before, I'm more than willing to let the Army increase its brigades its way before I rejoin the chorus of calls for more troops.

Note that this is separate from the question of troop strength in Iraq. I think we have enough and we are winning. The same article states:

Troops know, far better than Congress or the folks-back-home, that there is a war on, and that the army is winning it. While under orders to keep quiet about the “when will the troops return from Iraq” subject, planners can track the growth in Iraqi police and army strength, against the decline in terrorist attacks, and support. U.S. Army troops strength in Iraq will be declining soon, and the risks of being in Iraq are already declining. Thus by the time the army got any new troops, as demanded by Congress, it would have nothing for them to do.

Adding new brigades within the pretty much current end strength helps make sure that in a post-Iraq War period our troops won't be starved of training and new equipment by a Congress that will forget that quality is something you have to pay for every year if you ever need it in war.

And the bottom line is we are getting more combat brigades.

Just a Bullet Point

In the Pentagon's 2005 report on Chinese military power, there is one bullet point on page 4 that states:

China is exploring the use of ballistic missiles for anti-access/sea denial missions.

No explanation of this is given in the report.

Back in the spring, in an email conversation concerning my Taiwan invasion scenario with someone who was in a position to know, I was told that the Pentagon was looking into Chinese efforts to use ballistic missiles against moving targets at sea. This was a follow-up to Soviet efforts that really didn't amount to anything.

But advances in technology meant that the emailer believed that the Chinese could conceivably blanket a box at sea with chemical warheads delivered by ballistic missiles that a carrier or expeditionary strike group could not avoid. Though I protested that such an attack could not generate the density of chemicals that could affect our people, I was assured that the effect would be to put the carrier out of commission long enough to do some good for the Chinese.

I am still skeptical that the Chinese could deliver a cloud of poison gas that a carrier would run through and disable it by forcing decontamination, but it is interesting that a research angle gets summarized into one bullet point.

This reason gives another use for all those missiles the Chinese are building and pointing east in the general direction of Taiwan.

It also provides another reason to have ships with anti-ballistic missile defenses. Even if the immediate worry is North Korea, even after North Korea implodes we will need to guard against the Chinese managing to do something with this angle. Who knows, maybe an EMP attack blanketing attack could damage our carriers. I honestly don't know how well shielded they are.

Saturday, October 29, 2005

From Russia, With Love

The Russians launched Iran's first satellite. Say the Iranians:

The Iranian press has described the satellite as being for telecommunications and research purposes.

Research. Wonder what they're researching?

Thanks Russia! Way to pick friends! Good luck when the Iranians march north to liberate the Caucasus!

UPDATE: TM Lutas thinks that despite Russia's campaign to annoy us and undermine our security, we will help Russia should Iran gain the power to go after them:

The US will respond for two reasons. Orthodox allies like Romania will be saddling up, marching, and calling in their chits with the US. But the big prize for the US will be a chance to demonstrate that things have changed, that western christianity gives a damn about eastern and will provide solidarity when the chips are down.

Actually, I think Lutas is correct. Moscow is lucky that the Russian government is far less odious--so far--than the Tehran government.

And yes, as unlikely as this clash may be now, I do think it is possible that one day the Iranians will decide to expand the Ummah in their own neighborhood if Iran gets enough deterrence capability. Flooding the Caucasus with money and jihadis may seem the only way out once Iraq is a hard shoulder blocking the Iranians from going west.


The Greeks, who are kind of like the French in their ability to be reflexively anti-American, but with better food, are not just annoying to us:

The "Macedonian name game" is back in the news. The name game is a lesson in Balkan tangles. After Yugoslavia collapsed, Greece insisted on calling Macedonia the "FYROM"-- former Yugoslav Republica of Macedonia. Why? Northern Greece is also called Macedonia (Alexander the Great's home of record). Greece claims its Macedonia is the real Macedonia, and the FYROM is a Slavic poseur. Many Greeks fear that Macedonia (the FYROM) would eventually stake a claim to Greek Macedonia. The UN has been trying to resolve the dispute since 1995.

Well. A former communist republic with the name of a region of another state. That is disturbing. I can surely see why Greece is worried that Macedonia will march south, take over Greece, and then recruit Greeks to fight as mercenaries in an imperial venture that seeks to conquer Iran, or something. Hey, don't scoff. It happened once before. Those crafty Macedonians have just been biding their time.

But I think we have reason to fear, too.

What's with the former Soviet republic now called Georgia? Are they scheming to take our Georgia? And with 3rd ID now in Iraq, who is in the state to defend against the Georgian hordes?

Clearly, we must agitate to get the former Soviet republic of Georgia (FSROG) to change its name. I suggest "Debbie."

And hey, the Greeks shouldn't get off easy on this, either. Isn't there an Athens, Georgia?

Support the Danes

The Danish government is admirably standing up to outrageous pressure my Islamic groups and Islamic countries to abandon freedom of speech to avoid offending them (From my Weekly Standard newsletter so no link). Jonathan Last concludes:

In this one example we see nearly the whole of the problem presented by the collision between Islam and Western liberalism. But amidst the many difficulties, two stand out. First, is the statement from imam Raed Hlayhel, "This type of democracy is worthless for Muslims." Certainly Hlayhel does not speak for all of Islam. But the worry is that if he speaks for even a tiny minority--say, 5 percent of the world's Muslims--that's still a lot of people.

The second shock is the support of 11 Muslim states for this bullying of the Danish press. It is one thing for a lone imam to try to mau-mau a newspaper. It is another to see him standing, arms linked, with foreign governments.

Trying to avoid offending them is a pointless exercise since there is virtually nothing that won't offend some of them.

The Danes have stood with us admirably in the war on terror and so we should stand with them in the face of this threat. Consult with the Danes and then call in the ambassadors of the 11 Moslem states that are trying to bully Denmark and tell them to (in appropriate Department of State language) take a flying leap.

Freedom is not a negotiable issue.

UPDATE: Minerva has a post that rightly calls this a free speech issue that Moslem states are trying to stifle. She points to a Norwegian blogger who is also on the incident. Fjordman has email addresses, too.

Strangely, Fjordman doesn't have an address for the European Union. You know, the superstate that will protect all Europeans, patent cheese smells or whatever they do, and regulate their economy to death? Yeah, that's the one. If the EU won't stand up to those who try to bully one of their own into silence, explain to me why European countries should abandon their sovereignty to this entity.

Believe! Fight! Win!

The President needs to stop trying to appease the unappeasable at home. Stand with Senator Kennedy and give him the stage and credit for a major education spending bill and what do you get in return? Near-drunken rambling condemnations that we are in an immoral war that is another Vietnam. Rabid denunciations by one such as this should be easy to swat away but for the respect given to a man who has earned none.

Victor Hanson wants the President to cross the Rubicon:

George Bush also should begin addressing his most venomous critics at home, by condemning their current extremism. He must explain to the nation how a radical, vicious Left has more or less gotten a free pass in its rhetoric of hate, and has now passed the limits of accepted debate.

In the last six months we have heard from various demagogues — though they are recognized as such due to their prominence in the media — that we were waging nuclear war in Iraq (Cindy Sheehan), that there was cannibalism in New Orleans (Randall Robinson), that George Bush and Dick Cheney should be shot (the novelist Jane Smiley) or executed (Al Franken). Alfred Knopf has published a book about the theoretical assassination of the president, and the Nazi slur is now commonplace in Democratic circles, where a Senator Dick Durbin or Ted Kennedy slanders American soldiers as akin to either Saddam’s torturers or even Nazis and Stalinists. The case needs to be made that we are seeing a new paranoid style — but from the Left, whose opponents are not to be out-argued, but rather deemed worthy of death or demonization as Nazis. The recent eclipse of George Galloway — due in no large part to Christopher Hitchens’ lonely and underappreciated pursuit of his perfidy — reminds us how hard these reprobates finally will fall.

All of these issues are interrelated. If the president can win the hearts and minds of the American people on one theme, the others will fall into play. The more the president talks of principle and values, the more he can do so with zeal, and yes, real passion and occasional anger.

President Bush needs to stand up on this war and defend it as the just and good war it is. Just as important, he has to stop treating his most extreme anti-war opponents as if they deserve respect. They deserve only comtempt. Go after their positions. Remind the American people of who they stand with. Highlight who we stand with and what they try to build with our help. Remind our people of the soldiers and Marines who have given their lives as heroes so that others might live free and so that we might live in safety. Proudly proclaim that we are on the right side of history and that we must win this war. Don't be ashamed of being right! To Hell with Wilson and the media that pretends he tells the truth.

I think we have enough momentum to win the campaign in Iraq even if we avoid a discussion and neglect to confront the people who would side with jihadis and help them defeat us. But this war is more than Iraq or Afghanistan. We have much to do before we can rest and set down the burden of war.

Northern Italy calls, Mr. President. Lead our country to victory.

UPDATE: Hayes also calls for going after the war's opponents:

Of course, nothing is more important than winning on the ground in Iraq. Demonstrating that we are killing terrorists and making steady progress on the political front will do much to blunt the criticism of the war. But if the White House refuses to challenge its critics, and refuses to explain in detail why Iraq is the central front in the war on terror, and refuses to discuss the flawed intelligence on Iraqi WMD, and refuses to use its tremendous power to remind Americans that Saddam Hussein was, in fact, a threat, then it risks losing the support of those Americans who continue to believe that the Iraq war, despite all of its many costs in blood and money, was worth it.

In the torrent of nitpicking criticism and defeatism, it is no surprise that a public that has not been led in this war has gone wobbly on why we are fighting. Only a minority think overthrowing Saddam was a good idea. We can still draw comfort from the fact that a majority still want to win since we are fighting, but this resolve will erode as well in the face of our media's coverage if the President does not proudly stand as the leader of a just war fought to protect our future.

Purely Sickening

Well it isn't possible to say that the international human rights lobbies aren't aware that Iraq is on the planet (via RCP):

Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch and other global humanitarian groups recently expressed criticism over the slated trial of the mass murderer Saddam Hussein. Such self-appointed auditors of moral excellence were worried that his legal representation was inadequate. Or perhaps they felt the court of the new Iraqi democracy was not quite up to the standards of wigged European judges in The Hague.

Relay those concerns to the nearly 1 million silent souls butchered by Saddam's dictatorship. Once they waited in vain for any such international human-rights organization to stop the murdering. None could or did.

Now these global watchdogs are barking about legalities — once Saddam is in shackles thanks solely to the American military (which, too, is often criticized by the same utopian-minded groups). The new Iraqi government is sanctioned by vote and attuned to global public opinion. Saddam Hussein was neither. So Amnesty International can safely chastise the former for supposed misdemeanors after it did little concrete about the real felonies of the latter.

All I care about is whether the gavel drops (slightly) before the hammer drops on whatever firing squad disposes of that murderous scumbag.

As for the international human rights bastards, I guess you can be proud of your moral superiority for stepping up to defend a mass murderer like Saddam. I mean, any ordinary mortal can condemn a mass murderer and torturer. But you have to be really pure to defend one.

Purely sickening.

But Why Was The Buffoon Wilson Sent?

I try to stay in my lane and not comment on domestic politics. I'm not here, except to say that if Libby lied to a grand jury he should be punished under the law. No hemming or hawwing on this.

But the larger issue has been lost in this entire matter. Why was the truth-impaired buffoon Joseph Wilson Jr., Jr., Jr. (or whatever Roman numeral he is) sent on such an important mission in the first place? I have to agree with Mark Steyn who says:

I don't see that there is anything significant about the Valerie Plame leak that makes this leak so much more important than all the other leaks that have come out...the CIA has been leaking against this president for years, for example. I don't understand why leaking the name of Valerie Plame, which isn't a crime, should be the most important leak ever to come out. The real issue here is that Joe Wilson should never have been sent to Niger on that mission in the first place. The president was right on this. British intelligence, French intelligence, and even a former prime minister of Niger agree that Saddam Hussein was trying to acquire uranium from Niger. Why have we got into a huge criminal investigation, defending some obscure matter relating to the spouse of a buffoon, and an unqualified fraud who basically lied about everything he discovered in Niger?

Until I know why this important mission was assigned to the District Idiot, I can't begin to really care that Libby lied about what he knew, when he knew it, and what reporter he talked to. On principle, he should pay for violating the law--but Wilson, Plame, and the CIA which pretended to do their jobs should be the real issue. Really, the Left used to be upset when the CIA tried to destabilize governments. I guess we have a Bush exception to the rule.

I bet the press won't see it that way. They haven't so far--why should they now?

UPDATE: Somebody linking here complained that I shouldn't have used the word "buffoon" in the title. Started by Steyn, invoked by me, and now a spreading realization (via The Corner) of even the liberal side of the aisle--Wilson is a buffoon: "It's always good to see another liberal come to the realization that Joe Wilson is a buffoon."

Can I get a "heh" from the blogosphere?

Friday, October 28, 2005

An Ally for Good

As I've noted before, defeating Saddam's regime and creating a friendly democracy not only removes a threat that sponsored terrorism, threatened neighbors, and pursued and used WMD; but creates an asset in the fight against terror. This effort has been focused inside Iraq as foreign jihadis invade Iraq, but when this threat is defeated, Iraqi help can go outside Iraq in significant strength should the Iraqi government choose to help others as it was helped.

Well, Iraq is making good on this promise (via the Corner) of help by sending an engineer battalion to Pakistan to help with earthquake relief:

Iraq said on Thursday it plans to send several hundred soldiers from its new army to help relief efforts in Pakistan.

Success will help create more success. A burden will become an asset.

What Else Could They Do?

Never, ever rely on the UN for our national security.

The corruption of the UN Oil-for-Food operation was widespread and reached officials in key countries opposed to the Iraq War and well over 2,000 companies that ponied up cash to Saddam to get in on the gravy train:

U.S. Ambassador John Bolton said Saddam was able to manipulate the program people "with the willing cooperation of U.N. officials, the acquiescence of some member states, and, as today's report indicates, the willingness of private companies and individuals to pay huge sums in bribes and kickbacks to the Hussein regime."

The UN defends its honor:

The 19-month investigation has caused havoc at the United Nations, whose officials say the world body was unequipped to handle a program of that size.

Unable to handle the size of the program? Well, then the willing cooperation of UN officials with Saddam to carry out the scheme was perfectly understandable! I know that when I'm in over my head my first thought is to betray the trust placed in me and get a little profit for myself. Perfectly natural! I mean, who would ever think of asking for help to do the job right?

And while I'm also angry that companies would cooperate with Saddam, when the keepers of the morals of the vaunted international community indicate something is ok to do, this can hardly be an opportunity to complain about greedy corporations. How can the Left complain about the kickbacks? Still, it wasn't just any companies:

Preferential treatment was given to companies in France, Russia and China, all permanent members of the Security Council, who were more favorable to lifting the 1990 sanctions compared to the United States, Britain and Japan.

Fancy that! Far be it from me to suggest that France, Russia, and China opposed the war to protect their corrupt business profits and government complicity in supporting a murderous tyrant. No, no. Don't be silly. High principle was involved in their decisions to shield Saddam. Such as--wait, I need to consult my notes... It was right here... Oh, national sovereignty, um... Wait. And, um, well ... HALLIBURTON!

There. All settled. Let's move on to shovel more money to the UN so they can reform themselves into a bigger and better guardian of the morals and legitimacy of the vaunted international community. I mean, we want them to have the resources the next time we have to contain a rogue regime, right?

When is Bolton getting that wrecking ball, anyway?

Mission Focused

The US military is often pilloried for its desire to focus on warfighting and not get involved too much in other civilian-oriented missions.

Well, this is hardly an attiude unique to the US military. In discussing the failure of NGOs to adapt to doing things that would help in Pakistan in response to the earthquake, Strategypage notes that the UN called a conference to get them working for the overall objective.:

Unfortunately, most relief groups tend to focus on very narrow problems; so, for example, an NGO or government-sponsored relief agency that’s “mandated” to provide pre-natal care to women in remote regions is usually unwilling to use its resources to help anyone with different problems.

It is not surprising that a group that trains and equips for providing clean water may balk at delivering tents. Nor is it surprising that the US military prefers to concentrate on killing people and breaking things (the ones needing killing, of course--and their things broken).

And I do stand with the military in resisting non-military priorities for the military.

Send troops in emergencies to help fight forest fires? Sure. But don't distract from military training to prepare for the mission.

Nation-building? When it is in our national interest, absolutely. And when our military isn't engaged in war, we can even do optional missions without harming our military. But don't ever create forces designed just for humanitarian missions that would be outclassed in war. If we want peacekeepers, don't create a dedicated peacekeepingor constabulary corp. Add Military Police that can do wartime and peacekeeping missions.

Do humanitarian missions? Of course. But again, it should be something they can do because of their military training and not instead of military training. And for sure don't make our military the lead agency for domestic hurrican relief.

Too many countries have problems with militaries that see a large civilian role. I do not want that to happen here. That would harm our democracy and cripple our military.

But remember, too, that the US military will do the things it is ordered to do without a big conference to remind them of the need for flexibility.

Thursday, October 27, 2005

Only Missing Kalashnikovs

The anti-war hard Left professes to be deeply saddened as we pass 2,000 dead in Iraq.

Just check this out and remember the joy on their faces the next time they claim to "support the troops." Hat tip to Tim Blair for this disgusting gallery.

Al Qaeda gatherings could hardly be more joyous.

Japan Really is Worried

I've long worried what we'd do about basing an aircraft carrier in the Western Pacific when the Kitty Hawk--our last conventionally powered aircraft carrier--reaches the end of its service life. Based in Japan, it avoided the sensitive issue of basing a nuclear-powered carrier in Japan--the only country to be nuked. By us. Sorry to be blunt, but that's the way it is. I value Japan as our friend and ally today, but we have an unpleasant history from sixty years or so ago.

So with this in mind, this news is rather impressive:

The U.S. Navy announced today that one of its nine Nimitz-class aircraft carriers will replace the USS Kitty Hawk as the forward deployed carrier in the Western Pacific, and will arrive in Yokosuka, Japan in 2008.

We will base a nuclear-powered aircraft carrier in Japan. The release notes that nuclear-powered ships have visited Japanese ports 1,200 times since 1964, but we are still talking about a carrier here.

All I can say is that the Japanese must really be worried about threats in the region to agree to a nuclear-powered American carrier based in their country.

They're right, of course. But I never fail to appreciate the practical acceptance of simple reality. This can often be a rare quality.

So thanks Japan. This is what an alliance means. Hey France, take some friggin' notes.

UPDATE: While the Japanese government is supportive, some locals are not:

Basing a U.S. nuclear-powered warship in Japanese waters for the first time will boost stability in East Asia, Japan's government said Friday, hailing an agreement even as it drew protests from the community that will host the aircraft carrier.

The Chinese will like it less since it puts a more capable warship closer to them. Oh well. Can't please everyone, so why try.

The Proper Sequence

The Pillsbury Nuke Boys lackeys are insisting that they get a nuclear reactor from us before they disarm. It's all a matter of figuring out the right sequence to get both of these things:

Pyongyang and Washington differ on what should come first -- disarmament or the reactor, which is more proliferation resistant than other kinds of reactors such as graphite-moderated reactors that can be used to produce fissile material.

The timing and sequencing needs to be negotiated by the six countries -- the two Koreas, China, Japan, Russia and the United States. The next round of the talks is scheduled to start next month, probably around November 7.

The North has in the past set out tough positions ahead of talks as a way of maximizing its room to negotiate.

I'm no diplomat. But might I humbly suggest that the proper sequence should be Kim Jong-Il hung from a lamp post by angry North Koreans and then the nuclear reactor gets built.

We can just explain this opening gambit as a way of maximizing our room to negotiate.

Mission Accomplished

We accomplished much in Vietnam that is forgotten today.

This long article by former SecDef Laird (via Real Clear Politics) is worth reading. I don't agree with the entire piece but it has a lot to recommend it. I've long despaired of arguing about whether Iraq is another Vietnam for the simple reason that the Left has no idea what happened in Vietnam. They have a myth of simple peasants confronting an evil empire in a war the peasants for destined to win. That they simultaneously herald their own soap-challenged protesting as being responsible for ending the war should tell us something.

I want to highlight only one part:

In hindsight, we can look at the Vietnam War as a success story -- albeit a costly one -- in nation building, even though the democracy we sought halfheartedly to build failed. Three decades ago, Asia really was threatened by the spread of communism. The Korean War was a fresh memory. In Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia, the Philippines, and even India, communist movements were gaining a foothold. They failed in large part because the United States drew a line at Vietnam that distracted and sucked resources away from its Cold War nemesis, the Soviet Union.
Yes, the domino theory. Those who dismiss this argument may have to ignore the rapid falling of East European dominos when the Hungarians tipped the first piece by opening their borders. The cascading impact of that decision toppled communist regimes from East Berlin to Moscow itself less than two years later. Success encourages success. That's all the domino theory is about.

But Southeast Asia did not fall after we lost in South Vietnam, so it did not apply to the Vietnam War, right? The domino theory for Vietnam is discredited even if a modern East European example shows that the theory is correct generally.

No again. First, you have to ignore Cambodia and Laos as casualties of our loss. Two dominos did fall. Still, the rest of the region has prospered since Saigon fell so even if the domino theory is generally good and partially tripped in Southeast Asia, it was not the disaster that some feared in the early 1960s. So our domino theory reason to intervene in South Vietnam was wrong.

Once again, no. You have to ignore the differences between 1965 and 1975. A loss in 1965 before the other countries of the region had a chance to build themeselves up to resist the false promises of communism were crucial to their standing in 1975 and prospering since then. They wobbled, to be sure, but they held. And I have doubts if they could have stood if the communists had won in 1965.

And Europe too, with so-called Euro-Communism on the march, was preserved by our fight in Vietnam, in my opinion. Deterrence and the defense of Western Europe rested on the absolute belief in Moscow that we would fight and risk going nuclear over a Soviet invasion of NATO. By fighting and dying in the Central Highlands in a war that seemed to have very little to do with direct threats to our security, we upheld the promise of the most terrible escalation to defend the far more valuable resource of Western Europe.

Our Vietnam veterans, like my older brothers who served during that war (and one served in Vietnam), accomplished a great deal in an unheralded holding action. Had we stayed the course and continued to supply South Vietnam to resist the North, we'd have seen an independent South Vietnam as a tangible symbol of this victory. South Vietnam would likely have evolved to a real democracy as Taiwan and South Korea have. Instead, the wider victory is unappreciated because North Vietnam succeeded in conquering South Vietnam

Though one needs a little more nuanced analysis than mere knuckle-draggers like myself are supposed to possess to grasp this victory, we accomplished a great thing in Vietnam despite North Vietnamese tanks rolling into Saigon in April 1975.

So to those who want to paint Iraq as a guaranteed defeat just as Vietnam was, spare me. You haven't a clue about what happened in Vietnam or what is happening in Iraq, so your comparison of two events about which you know nothing is less than useless.

And to the Vietnam veterans out there, thank you for a mission accomplished. Our world today depended on your victory then.

UPDATE: This isn't to say that defeat in Vietnam was painless. This article (via RCP) reminds us of that impact and perhaps why the Left chants Vietnam in their sleep:

Leahy's words lighted up a deep, dark secret that this nation would rather forget. Defeat in Vietnam was a catastrophe for the U.S., a body-slam to the nation's self-confidence. It was far worse for Southeast Asians, who were exiled, imprisoned, tortured and murdered by their vicious communist conquerors. But for left-wing Democrats it was a triumph. Forcing the mighty U.S. military to run away was the greatest victory they have ever known. That triumph broke a levee that sent a flood of left-wing ideas pounding across the U.S. landscape.

The 1974 congressional elections were a blow-out victory for Democrats. Watergate was a big factor, but public exhaustion with Vietnam (encouraged by the media) helped too. In 1973, the last U.S. combat troops left Vietnam, but Washington had promised to support South Vietnam with money and weapons. Congress refused to pay. In March 1975, President Ford made a desperate last appeal for funds to keep America's promise. Congress refused.

In April 1975, all remaining American diplomats and advisors were pulled out in a frantic, starvation-budget withdrawal. South Vietnam collapsed. "The decrease in American aid had made it impossible for Saigon troops to carry out their combat and force-development plans," North Vietnam's army chief of staff coolly explained.

So yes, we were crippled in responding to Soviet efforts for a time. But we endured the six years of shaky confidence without falling, and beginning in the Reagan presidency we again looked to confront the Soviets--and this time to win and not just to avoid losing.

And as Gelernter notes, hopes by some to ride defeat to power won't work today:

This nation will abandon the Democratic Party before it abandons Iraq.

Polls show American uneasiness about the war. Naturally. The fighting is dirty and dangerous. But the U.S. is a God-fearing nation; we are proving that by battling to spread justice. Polls also suggest that Americans are resolved to fight in Iraq until the job is done.

Sen. Leahy thinks that he can smell another Vietnam. Not this time, senator.

Even as I remain upset that the administration hasn't consistently and constantly reminded our people of why we fight and what we want--and need--to achieve, I think our home morale will hold long enough to win this war. Heck, if South Vietnam had possessed oil, they might have survived the Congressional betrayal of our word.

Amazingly, the hard Left insists on fighting the last war.

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

So They've Got That Goin' For Them

Ah, the French.

It seems that the French were behind some forged documents purporting to show clear evidence that Saddam was actively trying to buy Niger yellowcake Uranium. You might--if you pay no attention to the French--think they were trying to be helpful (in an admittedly misguided way) to pave the way for Saddam's destruction. You'd be wrong (via Austin Bay). An Italian businesman was in the pay of France to get this information to us:

His admission to investigating magistrates in Rome on Friday apparently confirms suggestions that - by commissioning "Giacomo" to procure and circulate documents - France was responsible for some of the information later used by Britain and the United States to promote the case for war with Iraq.

Italian diplomats have claimed that, by disseminating bogus documents stating that Iraq was trying to buy low-grade "yellowcake" uranium from Niger, France was trying to "set up" Britain and America in the hope that when the mistake was revealed it would undermine the case for war, which it wanted to prevent.

Interesting. Recall a couple weeks ago (via Hitchens in Slate) an arrest:

A former aide to Secretary-General Annan who previously served as France's ambassador to the United Nations, Jean-Bernard Merimee, was captured yesterday in Paris as part of a French investigation into the oil-for-food program.

When your country (France) is hip deep in corruption to support a homicidal maniac dictator (talk about being a "poodle!"), a corrupt president (cue again the French music) must draw comfort in knowing that his intelligence service will do everything possible to support the government rather than undermine the government it serves. I actually envy the French on this score.

So the French have that goin' for them, as a wise groundskeeper once said. Which is nice.

The Vast French-Wing Conspiracy could take some lessons from the VRWC. You know, add a superscript TH to make the forgery a little more obvious. Or reference Ambassador Le Pew, or something (or was Wilson, after baking a week poolside in the African sun, filling that role? Oh, and don't miss this on Wilson and the press that won't let him fall).

Still, it is good to know that France can be of help on occasion--as long as they aren't trying to be helpful. So let's all give a warm welcome to Paris for joining the Coalition of the Willing. Hey, we've go that goin' for us, don't we?

UPDATE: From the Weekly Standard blog:

In a letter to the Wall Street Journal a short time ago, the French ambassador to the US wrote, "Opposing a military intervention in Iraq at a time when U.N. inspections were working and Iraq was not an imminent threat to peace was a decision my country is proud of, one based on principles and shared by many other nations. The behavior of my country and the French diplomatic approach toward Iraq deserve respect, not insults or innuendoes." From an Associated Press piece today on the massive oil-for-food scandal:

Tracing the politicization of oil contracts, the report said Iraqi leaders in the late 1990s decided to deny American, British and Japanese companies allocations to purchase oil because of their countries' opposition to lifting sanctions.

At the same time, it said, Iraq gave preferential treatment to France, Russia and China, which were perceived to be more favorable to lifting sanctions and were also permanent members of the Security Council.

Now I'm hyper-envious. Not only an intelligence service that works for the elected government but a diplomatic corps that will go to the mat to defend the government?

I do respect this. But just how do the French do this? Seriously. I'd feed our spooks and nancy boys Brie and truffles if that would get them to support our policies instead of undermine them.

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Our Euros

The Euro elites don't want the unwashed masses of Europe to interfere with their plans for European integration and vision of what Europe will look like. They were bred and educated to lead and popular opinion is simply a hindrance to proper governing.

We have our own European elites right here in America, as the former chief of staff to Secretary Powell makes clear (via the Corner, I believe):

IN PRESIDENT BUSH'S first term, some of the most important decisions about U.S. national security — including vital decisions about postwar Iraq — were made by a secretive, little-known cabal. It was made up of a very small group of people led by Vice President Dick Cheney and Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld.

Only a properly bred and educated person could possibly write this and feel genuine outrage.

Is Wilkerson actually saying that the elected VP and appointed SecDef, acting on the orders of the elected president, cannot make policy that the State Department bureaucracy feels is wrong?

Hey Wilkerson, let me clue you in on another secretive, little-known cabal. It's called the electoral college. Read up on it sometime. It might be illuminating for you.

On the other hand, since we have our own Euros right at home, I like to hope that in Europe we have people (out of power, to be sure) who share our views on defending the West. For this reason I cannot agree with Victor Hanson and his repeated calls to disengage from Europe and let them screw things up on their own. I have hopes that the American-Europeans will one day prevail.

Dangerous Delusion

Is it possible that the Taiwanese leadership is so deluded that they think they can avoid the responsibility for defending themselves in the belief that we will defend them on our own? Strategypage notes:

The Taiwanese, however, have come to believe that, no matter what they do with their own military, the Americans will rescue them. Taiwanese believe that their economy, especially the production of electronic components, is too critical to the American economy, for the Americans to risk allowing a Chinese invasion to succeed.

Let's assume the Taiwanese are right that we would not want China to control Taiwan's electronic industries. Let's assume that a desire to support a fellow democracy is not what motivates us in their case. This still does not mean Taiwan can avoid defending themselves. Even if we are determined to intervene, we need weeks to make the decision to go and to get decisive force into the battle. And if Taiwan can't buy us that time, our intervention will be too little and too late.

So if the Taiwanes assumption is right that we cannot afford to let communist China conquer Taiwan's industrial might, logically we would destroy Taiwan rather than let those economic assets fall into Chinese hands. I mean, if you are working on the Taiwan logic that Strategypage says exists, this is the only American response that makes sense.

But in reality, other suppliers of electronics would replace Taiwan and we aren't about to fight for Taiwan without active and determined Taiwanese participation. Nor will we destroy Taiwan to keep its economy out of China's hands. We're actually a lot more idealistic about when and where we commit Americans to fight and die in battle.

If Taiwan does not defend itself, no American cavalry will appear out of nowhere to protect them.

Short Punch. Long Reach.

It seems like a common reaction to expressing worries about China that the China-threat skeptics will say it will take a long time for China to become a global power. Strategypage notes the rather sad Russian-Chinese maneuvers and concludes:

What this all shows is that the Chinese have a way to go before they possess a world class military. The hyped up headlines in the media (and Pentagon budget requests) represent a future threat that is not here yet, and may take a long, long time in arriving.

I don't disagree with one word of that conclusion, really. And I've been vocal in saying I'd never want to trade places with China. But China can be a threat to us long before they are a superpower with global reach. China is a threat if they can project decisive power 500 miles from their borders, as the simmering crisis between China and Japan over oil deposits in disputed waters shows. The Chinese are drilling and deploying military forces to protect them. Japan is not amused:

Negotiations have gone nowhere, and now Japan has been holding talks with the U.S. over military options. Japan is apparently ready to use force, for they have given a Japanese company a license to drill for oil in the same area the Chinese are operating. Japan would provide armed escorts for the Japanese drilling and construction teams.

In World War II, neither Japan nor Germany (and certainly not Italy) were global powers. Yet they were threatening enough, were they not? Get over the idea that a threat is only a threat if it can reach St. Louis. And really, if the Chinese get their way within 500 miles of China against our allies, the impact will reach St. Louis.

So What's Left?

The Iraqis passed the proposed constitution despite Sunni objections:

The charter is considered a major step in Iraq's democratic reforms, clearing the way for the election of a new, full-term Iraqi parliament on Dec. 15. Such steps are important in any decision about the future withdrawal of U.S.-led forces from Iraq.

You'd think this is good news but that would disqualify you for our press corps:

However, some fear the victory, which came despite a large turnout by Sunni Arabs in an effort to defeat it, could enrage many members of the minority and fuel their support for the insurgency.

If the Shias and Kurds had simply taken power and treated the Sunnis the way the Sunnis treated (and by "treated" I mean slaughter, torture, and exploit) the Shias and Kurds during the long rule by the Sunnis, the anti-war side would have recoiled in horror. And rightly so, I suppose. I imagine that if the Sunnis had been disenfranchised, the anti-war side would have been outraged.

Yet "some" fear that the approval of the constitution with Sunni participation will fuel the insurgency.

So what is it? Let the Sunnis vote and participate in a new democratic Iraq, or exclude them? Damned if you do, damned if you're Bush, I guess.

So what's left? Shall we simply exterminate the Sunnis? Kill them all and let Allah sort them out? I mean, anything seems to set a good amount of them off.

Oh wait, this is the anti-war side we're talking about so there is another alternative--surrender.

I bet the press wouldn't find a down side to that option.

Sunday, October 23, 2005

Progress in Iraq

Opponents of the war in Iraq like to cite our casualties as proof we are not winning. As we reach 2000 dead in Iraq, many will note that casualties continue to mount and are not declining over time. Therefore, they claim, we are not making progress to end the insurgency. How can we claim we are winning, they say, if we can't seem to make progress?

But we are making progress. Our casualties go up and down monthly yet remain largely constant, it is true; but this would indicate military stalemate only if we were continuing to fight on the same battlefield. And even if there was a miltary stalemate, as long as political and economic progress is made behind that shield, we are in fact winning. But our troops are not fighting on the same battlefield as last year. From battles in the Baghdad region we have turned over the routine policing duties and combat against lower level insurgents to expanded and trained Iraqi security forces. This has allowed us to move US troops into the far west of al Anbar province and the regions west of Mosul near Syria:

October 23, 2005: As Iraqi police and soldiers take over more security duties, more American troops are available for offensive operations, and they are making more patrols and raids inside Sunni Arab areas. The Syrian border is particularly hot. Over the weekend, intelligence efforts discovered five terrorist safe houses, which resulted in attacks by smart bombs and ground troops. At least twenty terrorists were killed, and large quantities of weapons, bomb making materials and documents were captured. The documents, and interrogations of captured suspects leads to more information on where the terrorists have there safe houses, weapons caches, and travel routes across the Syrian border (the main source of suicide bombers, who are almost all foreigners, and cash.) The increased American offensives has led to increased casualties, with the rate up to the August level (close to three American deaths a day).

So remember that while casualties continue, we are on new battlefields. As we atomize the enemy out west and move in Iraqi security forces able to pacify the region against weakened enemy forces, we will finally be able to begin to pull back into a reserve role and to guard against conventional Syrian or Iranian threats. Then our casualties will decline even as Iraqis fight and die to preserve their new democracy.

We will have other tasks to do to help the Iraqis stand on their feet completely before we can pull out of Iraq. The faux press crisis over what it means to be able to fight unaided and the completely ignorant uproar over one or three Iraqi battalions able to fight without any American help at all have nothing to do with when we can begin to draw down combat forces engaged in offensive operations. The day will arrive sooner than such uproars would lead you to believe.

Until then, we are winning. Blathering charges of incompetence to the contrary. How will those charging incompetence explain our victory when even they cannot ignore the reality on the ground?

This Time, No Payment Was Required

Kofi Annan's corrupt United Nations bureaucracy took money to aid Saddam in remaining in power. Had we not destroyed Saddam's regime, this corruption of the guardian of the vaunted international community and the power to bestow or withold legimacy upon any endeavor would have remained unknown to us.

More recently, I noted how Annan did not wish the UN Hariri probe to fan any flames of anger. I quoted Annan from a cited article:

"I know there has been lots of political commentary and lots of discussions about it but from where I sit, I'm determined to make it as technical as possible and not allow a politicization of the process," Annan said.

It was not out of bounds to question whether Annan was running interference for yet another Baathist dictator. Now we know what making the report "as technical as possible" means (via Strategypage). That Annan was "determined" is quite the understatement:

THE United Nations withheld some of the most damaging allegations against Syria in its report on the murder of Rafik Hariri, the former Lebanese Prime Minister, it emerged yesterday.

The names of the brother of Bashar al-Assad, President of Syria, and other members of his inner circle, were dropped from the report that was sent to the Security Council.

The confidential changes were revealed by an extraordinary computer gaffe because an electronic version distributed by UN officials on Thursday night allowed recipients to track editing changes.

The mistaken release of the unedited report added further support to the published conclusion that Syria was behind Mr Hariri’s assassination in a bomb blast on Valentine’s Day in Beirut. The murder of Mr Hariri touched off an international outcry and hastened Syria’s departure from Lebanon in April after a 29-year pervasive military presence.

I wonder if anybody will be looking into direct Annan interference to avoid fanning flames or the exertion of undue pressure based on public statements or indirect contacts. Somebody removed the most damningly specific information to keep the report "as technical as possible." Could the reputation of the UN be tarnished by this episode?

Don't be silly. If Kofi Annan--the keeper of the hallowed legitimacy of the vaunted international community--says that doctoring a report to keep the full truth from coming out is not political and perfectly acceptable, who are we mere mortals to say otherwise? All hail Annan.

The UN has been dragged to condemn Syria and the UN's sloppiness has helped us get the details of Syria's complicity in trying to extend their illegal and immoral occupation of Lebanon. And while the UN has not seemed to care about other Syrian efforts to wage war on others, we now have more than enough reasons to put real pressure on Damascus to stop inciting and enabling terrorism. And we've finally got a reason that even Europeans can be upset about:

Now that the U.N. has implicated Syria in Hariri's death and appears to be on the way to establishing a case against Shawkat -- the chief U.N. investigator, Detlev Mehlis, has been given two more months to complete his work -- the Security Council must do everything in its power to bring political and economic sanctions to bear against Syria. Syria has been able to avoid any sort of U.N. censure for funding and providing missiles to the Hezbollah to attack Israel and for supporting our enemies in Iraq -- two issues that generally don't stir up a lot of outrage among the U.N. nabobs.

The corruption of the UN is complete. Barring evidence that the Syrian regime paid off Kofi to go easy on him, we now know that Annan's UN will protect thug regimes for free now. So what if that thug regime has conquered and run for thirty years a sovereign member of the international community? In time, regime change at Turtle Bay must be our objective, too.

Saddam may want to request a refund from Annan before then.

It Takes a Village to Twist a Child

Don't ever forget that our enemies are evil. The Sunnis of Iraq have too many people that are filled with jihadi hate for infidels. While not all Sunnis are part of this sick society, enough are twisted enough to infect their children with the sickness.

When a convoy got lost north of Baghdad, Sunnis attacked with small arms and RPGs. Four employees of an American company were killed in the attack. Two were killed after being dragged from their damaged vehicle:

The Telegraph reported that two of the contractors not killed in the initial attack were dragged alive from their vehicle, which had been badly shot up. They were forced to kneel in the road before being killed.

"Killing one of the men with a rifle round fired into the back of his head, they doused the other with petrol and set him alight," the paper reported.

"Barefoot children, yelping in delight, piled straw on to the screaming man's body to stoke the flames."

The crowd then "dragged their corpses through the street, chanting anti-U.S. slogans," the report said.

What kind of society raises its children to yelp with delight while feeding the flames of a wounded man burning? The Iraqi Sunnis are so used to abusing their victims on a grand scale when they ruled Iraq, but now they must content themselves with the occasional furtive atrocity in the gaps of our security efforts.

I may be willing to work with Sunnis to end the fighting, but I never get confused that our enemy is despicable. We need to pay a little more attention to Duluiyah, it seems. And the Sunnis who aren't part of this sick Sunni sub-society that pines for the days when its abusive behavior was the law of the land must be encouraged to join with the government and Coalition in stamping out the killers who live among the Sunni community and kill in their name.

If our covert operations guys are worth their salt, we will build lists of those who have committed such atrocities and go after them in the future if the Iraqi government cannot get them due to political considerations.

Saturday, October 22, 2005

The Two Thousand

By the time I hit post on this, we might have endured our two thousandth death in Iraq since the beginning of the invasion in March 2003. Don't worry about paying attention. The media will rub our faces in it.

I'm not about to go on about this number directly. Yes, every death is tragic. And yes, the casualties are relatively low for what we have accomplished. I want to discuss our military's morale in this struggle. People opposed to the war often say that our military's morale is low. But it remains high:

As U.S forces approach a dark milestone of 2,000 American dead since the war began in March 2003, many say morale has remained high, bolstered by the need to protect each other, by concentrating on their daily assigned tasks — and by amenities provided by the military to keep life in a war zone as normal as possible.

If our casualties were crippling, surely our military would show the signs of it. Not just in re-enlistments which run high. And don't talk to me about recruiting. That is not a sign of military morale. And even as a sign of civilian morale it is imperfect. Combat arms recruiting is fine and even overall recruiting is only failing to meet requirements for far more recruits than we've inducted in the recent past. It's kind of like those budget "cuts" that in fact are a reduction in the rate of growth.

I would never say our people wouldn't prefer to be home. Home with friends and family and far from the possibility of violent death is almost always preferable to war. But that is a banal observation that applies to all wars.

But I want to address morale in the sense of battlefield success. Over the last 2-1/2 years, I've braced myself for the occasional catastrophic defeat where an entire platoon is wiped out. In any war, the enemy will score successes and I did not think we'd be immune to this in Iraq. In Afghanistan and Chechnya, Russian columns would regularly be cut off from help and wiped out. Platoons and companies would die this way in Grozny or remote mountain roads.

We've yet to lose a platoon-sized encounter with the enemy.

If our military was truly demoralized by the fighting in Iraq, we'd have seen a number of such catastrophes over the last couple years. But we've never lost even a squad at once in battle as far as I can tell (other than an IED or a helicopter downing, which have been rare events). Certainly no platoons have been lost in battle.

So however much our ground forces are strained by the deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan, the idea that our troops are demoralized is truly and thoroughly wrong. We fight and win on the ground and we shall win this war. Keep that in mind when the press celebrates our 2,000th death in Iraq any day now.

Look Forward

Russia continues its decline:

Russia's population has shrunk by more than half a million people this year, dipping to 143 million, the federal statistics agency said Friday.

Russia's population — the largest in Europe — has been declining steadily since the 1991 breakup of the Soviet Union, with increased poverty, alcoholism, emigration and degradation of the health care system blamed for reducing birth rates and life expectancy.

Since the beginning of the year, the population went down by 506,400, the agency said on its Web site.

Why is Russia's population declining? Increased poverty? Well, Soviets were pretty poor and Russia's economy has been growing so I'd want to see stats on this claim. Alcoholism? Again, hardly a new thing compared to Soviet times. Emigration? Ok, that holds true since the state no longer holds the people hostage. Degradation of health care? You have to pretend that Soviet care was good but I'll concede that universal access to crappy care is gone so even that has made the situation worse. HIV may be a bigger factor here.

And when you consider Russia's population decline you must remember that the Moslem portions are increasing so the extent of the Russian decline is masked by the fast producing Moslem population. And since all the factors the article lists affect the Moslem population just like the Russians, how can they be the cause of the decline?

The UN has the predictable solution:

United Nations experts have urged Russian authorities to boost social spending to improve health care and prevent the population decline.

I don't think this is the key. I think the ethnic Russians are just demoralized. Once the rulers of a superpower empire, now they are virually a petro state like Saudi Arabia that happens to have the legacy of a superpower's weapons programs whose momentum is still giving Russia some military power. They pine for past glory and Putin does not do them any good by forging a foreign policy that reflexively tries to relive the glory days when all they can do is associate with the scum of the earth and only remind themselves that the Hot Line is getting a little dusty. Russia is an annoyance and not a threat.

Russia's leaders need to stop trying to hang on to a past they cannot reclaim and look forward to a future within their grasp. As part of the West they can achieve much and regain a vision of prosperity and influence.

If the Russian leaders continue to pretend they are a superpower, what can they look forward to?

In a United Nations Development Program report released this week, demographers predicted that Russia's population will fall to 100 million by 2050, and could even drop to 80 million.

If Iran, due to Russia's support, is still a mullahcracy in 2050, Tehran will have the nukes and numbers to invade the Caucasus and take over Russia's Moslem regions between the Caspian and Black Seas. Only Turkey will stand in Iran's way.

Friday, October 21, 2005

We Are the World--Really

Lileks quietly blasts the latest drivel from the international community:

Another day, another international conference, another meaningless display of unity. But with lovely gift bags, we’re sure. The latest example: a UNESCO compact, sanctified in October at a Tunisia conference, supporting the rights of nations to control the import of entertainment from other countries, all in the name of “cultural diversity.” Otherwise Bugs Bunny cartoons would pose a mortal threat to the state-controlled monoculture of most nations. The United States opposes the compact, because we’re mean and hate everyone, if you read the press.

Well good for those Third Worlders, you might say, holding off the latest American Rambo movie! Well not quite:

The original sponsors were France and its stepchild Canada; figures. No country is more prickly about preserving its own culture than France; they regularly have le panique attaq whenever small fragments of other tongues infect their pristine lingo. Their cinema is heavily subsidized, producing endless movies about older-yet-unquestionably-masculine men who pensively smoke while contemplating a girl’s knee observed on a beach in 1972. Canada also mandates local content, because there’s so much difference between someone who grew up in southern Manitoba and someone who grew up in upper North Dakota. The North Dakotan grows up without a sense of what it’s like to be annoyed by bilingual candy-bar wrappers, for example. Might as well be from different planets.

This talk of cultural contamination or whatever the French call it is ridiculous given how much America borrows and imports from other cultures:

American culture is eventually world culture, and vice versa. Brittle cultures don’t handle it well. Adaptive cultures absorb and adapt–the point of multiculturalism, no?
The New York Times is not amused:

But some will see the US position as more American mulishness. The New York Times put it thus: “As with the Kyoto Protocol climate treaty and the treaty creating the International Criminal Court, (The US) will likely remain a critical - and perhaps obstructionist - outsider.”
Maybe we should insist that Canadian singers keep out of America. But we handled it just fine. Alanis Morissette climbs our charts and now she's become an American. Instant American content. I imagine it won't be long before Avril Lavigne takes the oath, too.

Lileks thinks, as do I, that we should not be ashamed about standing outside and obstructing another misguided European fashion:

Imagine that! The killjoy nation. Monarchy, Communism, Fascism, Socialism, now Tribalism – the US never quite joins in the fun. Everyone else jumps off the bridge, and we hang back, taking notes. Like we’re special or something.
So when you have such a French-inspired proposal before the vaunted international community's delegates, do you have any doubts about the outcome?

In a vote cast as a battle of global conformity vs. cultural diversity, delegates to a U.N. agency turned aside strong U.S. objections Thursday and overwhelmingly approved the first international treaty designed to protect movies, music and other cultural treasures from foreign competition.

The 148 to 2 vote at the U.N. Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization emerged as a referendum on the world's love-hate relationship with Hollywood, Big Macs and Coca-Cola.

Who voted with us? Israel. Thank you for that. Four unnamed countries abstained. I suppose thanks is in order for that, too.

Honestly, how long does it take for Bolton to sign that contract for a wrecking ball?

Sing it with me now! We are the world ...

Thursday, October 20, 2005

Ease Them In

While I have great sympathy for the view that we may risk coddling the Iraqi Sunnis too much, a little giving to get them to give up the guns and join the political process is not unreasonable. While no one wants to reward violence, we do want to end it.

So when Frum writes that nobody worried about giving South African whites special favors after Apartheid was dismantled, I have to disagree. Frum writes:

After the end of apartheid in South Africa, nobody dared suggest that the country's new constitution institutionalize special protections for the white minority. The South African constitution did not attempt to mollify whites by declaring South Africa part of a "global community of white nations." Nor did anyone say that the new post-apartheid regime would be legitimate only if whites accepted it. The constitution protected property rights, civil rights, freedom of speech and religion--but did so equally for everybody.

Recall that white South Africans did indeed get special protections for a short time to reconcile them to the new South Africa and to give them some assurances during the transition. For five years, any party getting more than a set percentage of votes for parliament would get seats in the cabinet. This made sure whites would be in the government for five years:

These agreements on the transitional government represented important compromises by both the government and the ANC, and they helped to set new precedents for future negotiations. The NP won agreement on its refusal to give the new state president broad and extensive powers during the transition period. (Under the previous system, the president could override the views of minority parties.) At the same time, de Klerk compromised on his demand for a permanent consensus-style arrangement to be enshrined in any new constitution by agreeing to a five-year transitional government. The arrangement satisfied the NP demand for legally binding checks and balances to protect the country's white minority. The ANC, for its part, compromised on its earlier insistence on full and immediate majority rule, by agreeing to participate in a powersharing arrangement for at least five years. At the same time, many ANC leaders hoped that their party, as the dominant party in the transitional government, would win a suffic iently large majority to enable it to enact most of its policies, even without the consent of other parties.

I repeat, by that 5% provision, white South Africans guaranteed that they would be in the cabinet for five years. Clearly, the country's Black population would dominate but it could not exclude whites from the government. And the reassurance worked both ways. By working in the government the former exploiters could build confidence among the Black majority that the whites would work for the future and not try to reclaim the past.

So relax that the Sunnis are getting extra coaxing for now. So are the Kurds. In time, the special protections should be removed and all should be treated the same. To end the Baathist part of the insurgency, temporary concessions to ease minority concerns may be just fine.

Bucking for a Promotion

I've often mocked Hugo Chavez as being part of an Axis of El Vil (the vile one) along with Castro. I judged he is a thug and annoying, but we have bigger worries than Venezuela, such as Iran and North Korea.

Well, Iran has apparently decided that being the next up in the Axis of Evil to be destroyed is no fun. And so the mullahs have decided to troll for regime change with Hugo, joining forces with his regime. Dangle a threat closer to America and we will leave Iran alone for a while, seems to be the line of reasoning in Tehran.

Sadly, Hugo is willing to be the sacrificial poodle to buy time for the mullahs to go nuclear:

While cooperation in the nuclear and economic spheres has been loudly trumpeted by the two nations, the greatest potential threat this alliance poses will most likely remain a less heralded one.

It is no secret that a large portion of the international terror network calls Tehran its master. Hezbollah and similar organizations are either controlled or receive assistance from Tehran. And let us not forget that the mullahs have been, at the very least, willing to shelter many of al Qaeda's most wanted.

Chávez, like his mentor Fidel Castro, is no stranger to terrorism. Venezuela has been a safe haven for Marxist narco-terrorist groups such as the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) and the Colombian National Liberation Army (ELN). A growing body of evidence indicates that support for these groups is the official policy of Chávez's regime. According to the State Department's 2003 Global Patterns of Terrorism, "weapons and ammunition--some from official Venezuelan stocks and facilities--continued flowing from Venezuelan suppliers into the hands of" these organizations.

As we are able to ramp back our force presence in Iraq when Iraqi forces step up, I think we will need to pull back and reconstitute our Marines first, just in case. Army troops can scale back direct operations while going into large bases to deter Iran from invading Iraq and providing only emergency troop reinforcements; while embedded soldiers advise the Iraqis and special forces assist in offensive operations. But the Atlantic Marines should be made ready and kept free for action.

A vile annoyance may be trying to become a real evil threat on par with the Iranians. Hugo Chavez hasn't made it past the post yet, but we must be concerned about how hard he is trying.

No wonder Chavez worries about an American invasion--he knows he deserves one.

Honor the Picket Line

A while ago, I wondered why we should even care if jihadi detainees in Gitmo are on a hunger strike:

I know this gives me away as a knuckle-dragger, but why on earth should I care if those gentlemen in Guantanamo Bay die? I mean, it is their choice. Heck, they want to die while killing us, as they never tire of droning on about. So just having them die without taking any innocents with them is real progress in my opinion.

Well now we find that making those poor lost souls take in nourishment is tantamount to torture:

The repeated removal and insertion of the tubes has caused striking prisoners to vomit blood and to experience intense pain that they have equated with torture, the lawyers reported to a federal judge after visiting their clients at the U.S. base in eastern Cuba.

Damned if we do and damned if we don't, I guess.

Well I say we don't want to be accused of anything like torture, now would we? So let's honor their picket line and end the forced feedings.

Let the scum die. I just don't care, and I don't care what their lawyers say. I mean, outside of Gitmo we are actively trying to kill them (the jihadis, that is).

As long as the International Red Cross will document that we put water and culturally appropriate food in their cells each day, why on Earth should we care whether they choose to die?

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

As If

Many partisans on the other side of the aisle from President Bush like to bandy about the charge of "incompetence" over the conduct of the war in Iraq.

RealClearPolitics has some words on the silliness of this charge.

This war has had its share of errors but on the whole it has been a remarkably effective and well fought campaign. The Iraq War was by all definitions a cake walk and we set the land speed record in the Middle East. The insurgency of the Baathists took us by surprise but we have adapted well and adapted quickly. None of the charges of mistakes are better than debatable charges and some, I believe, are 180 degrees off the mark and the so-called mistakes are in fact quite good decisions.

And one last thing. Are these people who are charging incompetence actually claiming they would have done better? Or have better ideas? As if.

Come and Get Them

A Spanish judge has issued arrest warrants for three of our soldiers for an incident in the Iraq War that we investigated and deemed justified under the circumstances:

A judge has issued an international arrest warrant for three U.S. soldiers whose tank fired on a Baghdad hotel during the Iraq war, killing a Spanish journalist and a Ukrainian cameraman, a court official said Wednesday.

And some want us to submit to the tender mercies of the International Criminal Court? I hope our State Department has a stack of "Bite Me" form letters to send off to Madrid.

I'd chalk it up to an activist judge, but he's using Spanish law and after the big Iraq bug out by Spain after 11 M, I find it hard to give them the benefit of the doubt. Perhaps Spain should just withdraw from NATO and good luck defending the Reconquista against the jihadis on their own.

I'm sure the Belgians will be a great help when the next crisis erupts at Melilla or Parsley Island.

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

By Whatever Means Necessary

I think we need to end state sponsorship of terrorism and terrorists. Our push for democracy in the Moslem world is justified to achieve this end. The old methods clearly failed and 9-11 was our wake up call that the status quo is unacceptable. I'm still enough of an old-fashioned realist, however, to accept tactical success such as Libya's turning (as I called for well before the actual event). Justice for the crimes of Khadaffi can wait if we take an enemy piece off the board.

So when I read that Syria is being offered a chance to survive if it behaves (I think via Real Clear Politics), I don't feel we are betraying our war effort:

The Bush Administration has offered Syria’s beleaguered President a “Gaddafi deal” to end his regime’s isolation if Damascus agrees to a long list of painful concessions, a senior American official told The Times.

According to the report, the U.S. will present four demands from Syria: Syria would have to fully cooperate with the U.N. team investigating the assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri.

Secondly, if members of the Syrian regime are named as suspects they would have to be questioned and could stand trial under foreign jurisdiction.

The Syrians would also have to stop any interference in Lebanon, where they have been blamed for a series of bomb attacks against their critics, most recently May Chidiac, a television presenter who was badly injured last month when a device exploded under her car.

Washington also wants Syria to halt the recruiting, funding and training of volunteers for the Iraqi insurgency, which they claim are openly operating in Syria with the connivance of the regime.

Yes, I'd be happier to have justice but we have lots of threats and sometimes we have to hold our noses, accept that a state can stop supporting terror and survive (for now) and focus on the objective: ending Islamo-fascist terrorism.

So let Syria in from the cold. Such a deal will not save the regime. If this helps us in our efforts to stabilize and democratize the Middle East, this will only put off the day when Syria's regime will crumble.

But by all means, insist they abide by all of our terms. Syria is guilty of killing American soldiers and Marines.

And keep in mind that a final reckoning should eventually be made with this beastly regime.

Let's Play "What Did They Leave Out?"

The UN notes that war and violence have gone down in the world in the last decade and have issued a report lauding their role:

The first Human Security Report documents a dramatic, but largely unknown, decline in the number of wars, genocides and human rights abuse over the past decade. Published by Oxford University Press, the Report argues that the single most compelling explanation for these changes is found in the unprecedented upsurge of international activism, spearheaded by the UN, which took place in the wake of the Cold War.

"In the wake of the Cold War." Yep, nothing more to be said about that. The Cold War just kind of vaguely ended. Nobody won and nobody lost. I mean, if the Soviet Union had won the Cold War and not the American-led (dragged?) West, the following years would have been just the same. International activism surging and UN spearheading. Ah, thank goodness for the UN.

Isn't the UN leaving out a trifling detail? Like the fact that America defeated the Soviet Union in 1989 and so Soviet meddling in the world took a 95% reduction? Let me just add for absolute clarity that had the Soviets won the Cold War, the "wake of the Cold War" would have been an actual wake for the massive amounts of the dead we would mourn from poverty, mass murder, and gulags running 24/7. Just maybe--I mean, I don't want to be hasty here when the UN insists it should get the credit--but just maybe the fact that America became the dominant power after defeating the Soviet Union had something to do with the fact that genocide, war, and civil unrest have all declined since the Cold War was won.

So let's remember the real source of "ending" the Cold War.

As I often think when the UN tries to take credit for tsunami relief, or Iraqi elections, or world peace, the UN can kiss my butt. Just when is Bolton going to lop off those top ten floors anyway?

Now The NYT Notices

The NYT is all over the possibility of voting problems in Iraq. From The Corner:

Is that the stuff of Page One? In the past, the Times has seemed remarkably unconcerned about voter fraud when it appeared to play a likely decisive role in the victory of Venezuela’s leftist strongman Hugo Chavez, or of Clinton-fave Aristide in Haiti. It also treats Ahmadinejad in Iran as if he were the legitimately elected president of Iran, notwithstanding that the mullahs barred opposition candidates from even contesting. Why is it suddenly a major story in Iraq that a result expected, in places, to be one-sided turned out to be really one-sided?

And note that the NYT only knows about the suspected fraud because the Iraqi election officials announced they were looking into suspicious results. And remember the media's strange acceptance of Saddam's 99.9% reelection prior to the Iraq War with 100% voter turnout without even a peep from the MSM about the validity of the vote.

I look forward to the NYT reporting on the confusing butterfly ballot in Ramadi that led thousands of elderly Sunnis to vote for Pat Buchanan.

This will be resolved under Iraqi law. I celebrate that fact even as I am concerned that violations might have happened in the first place.

Saddam on Trial

Saddam will go on trial tomorrow and the bleatings of the human rights lobby and Saddam apologists (or am I being redundant?) wonder whether the trial will be "fair." Jonah notes:

I listened to a long report on NPR last night about Saddam's upcoming trial. The gist of the story is that Human Rights lawyers are worried that Saddam can't get a fair trial and that without one, there can be no justice.

He goes on to rightly note that executing Saddam right now would provide justice for Saddam but that a trial must be done for the sake of Iraq's future, extablishing that even an obviously guilty mass murderer as Saddam must have their day (or months) in court prior to dispensing justice.

This also gets to a major annoyance on my part. The complaints regarding Saddam obviously mistake a "fair" trial with one that gives Saddam a 50-50 chance of getting off scot free. That is bull. A trial that without a doubt will find Saddam guilty of multiple crimes against individuals, peoples, and all humanity will be quite fair.

We all know that at the end of the day, Saddam will be shot for his crimes. All I ask is that the gavel falls before the hammer falls. That's quite fair. And far fairer than Saddam ever gave.

UPDATE: Applebaum writes of a wider value of the trial of Saddam:

In the end, it is by the quality of that evidence, and the clarity with which it is conveyed, that this trial should be judged. The result is irrelevant: Quite frankly, it doesn't matter whether Saddam Hussein is drawn and quartered, exiled to Pyongyang, or left to rot in a Baghdad prison. No punishment could make up for the thousands he killed, or for the terror he inflicted on his country.

But if his Sunni countrymen learn what he did to Shiites and Kurds, if the Shiites and Kurds learn what he did to Sunnis, if Iraqis come to realize that his system of totalitarian terror damaged them all, and if others in the Middle East learn that dictatorships can be overthrown, then the trial will have served its purpose. That, and not an arbitrary standard of international law, is how the success of this unusual tribunal should be measured.

Let the international human rights lobby rail against this process of justice. Who really cares what they think? Saddam's execution is a done deal and nobody should cry over that (other than to regret he has but one life to give for his multitude of crimes). The real value of Saddam's trial and execution is what it teaches Iraqis about life in a rule-of-law democracy and what it shows people in other countries who suffer their own tyrant, believing they are unable to throw off the boot stomping on a face forever.

Who Threatens the Children?

When I first heard of the Smurf genocide flick that UNICEF cranked out, I was kind of amused. Smurfs finally getting what they deserved, I thought. And knowing this was a Belgian creation added to the humor.

But then when you think of the air strikes that devastated the happy kite-flying paradise of the Smurf, you see who the UN thinks threaten the children: somebody with a powerful air force. As Mark Steyn notes:

Why would Unicef show such an implausible form of Smurficide ? Well, whether intentionally or not, they are evoking the war that most of their audience - in Belgium and beyond - is opposed to: the Iraq war, where the invader did indeed have an air force. That's how the average Western "progressive" still conceives of warfare, as something the big bullying Pentagon does to weak victims.

But this week is a week to remember that there are worse things than war that "affect the lives of children". If I were Papa Smurf, I wouldn't want Baby Smurf to grow up in Saddam's Iraq. I don't mean just because we'd be the beleaguered minority of Smurfistan, to be gassed and shovelled into mass graves.

Even if we were part of Saddam's own approved class living in the Smurfi Triangle, it's still a life permanently fixed between terror and resignation, in which all a parent's hopes for his children are subordinate to the whims of a psycho state.

Yep, if you really wanted to show the actual threats to the Smurfs, you'd show Smurfs being raped, or hacked with machetes, or gassed as they slept, or fed into plastic shredders, or run over by tanks, or shot down by Kalashnikovs in a UN-designated Smurf safety zone, or necklaced with burning tires, or rousted from their homes as government thugs clean out their slums, or blown up as they ate at Smurf pizza parlors, or starved to death by militias while the UN researched its ninth report on the situation. Or perhaps even sexually abused by the UN peacekeepers themselves to cut out the middle thug. But no, air power is the tool that UNICEF envisions for Smurf devastation and sorrow. And we all know that when you think bombing, think United States Air Force.

And even in their twisted view of who poses a threat to children, UNICEF gets it wrong. If America was doing the bombing, a couple of JDAMs--possibly with an inert concrete warhead--would have taken out the threats to the Smurfs or the top evil Smurf and left the vast majority of the Smurfs alive and well to go on living their happy Smurfy lives.

Air power is the last thing the innocent Smurfs of the world need to fear.

Monday, October 17, 2005

Honored to be Their Victim

The President may have spoken the name of our jihadi enemies but our press continues to mumble and look away when confronted with murderous enemies who by an amazing coincidence happen to be Moslem. Mark Steyn confesses that he underestimated our Western willingness to confront uncomfortable facts:

I underestimated multiculturalism. After 9/11, I assumed the internal contradictions of the rainbow coalition would be made plain: that a cult of "tolerance" would in the end founder against a demographic so cheerfully upfront in their intolerance. Instead, Islamic "militants" have become the highest repository of multicultural pieties. So you're nice about gays and Native Americans? Big deal. Anyone can be tolerant of the tolerant, but tolerance of intolerance gives an even more intense frisson of pleasure to the multiculti-masochists. And so Islamists who murder non-Muslims in pursuit of explicitly Islamic goals are airbrushed into vague, generic "rebel forces." You can't tell the players without a scorecard, and that's just the way the Western media intend to keep it.

Indeed. We are at war with nondescript militants and rebels. According to the press. Nor are these ill-defined angry people our enemy:

I'm aware the very concept of "the enemy" is alien to the non-judgment multicultural mind: There are no enemies, just friends whose grievances we haven't yet accommodated. But the media's sensitivity police apparently want this to be the first war we lose without even knowing who it is we've lost to.

Yes, when you are advanced enough to look beyond mere labels you can see that the jihadis and the West are really the same. The modern multi-culturalist sees only equivlance between the West and our freedoms and the jihadis with their burquas and scimitars. Except where the jihadis are superior to us, of course. Normally, when one settles into an equivalence interpetation, one must either decide that neither side is really bad or that both sides are equally bad.

Our multi-cultis manage to hold both excuses as true. The multi-cultis "understand" the rage that leads to beheading Westerners and other infidels. Not so bad in context, don't you see? And the multi-cultis understand that we are just as bad. The "militants" may actually behead Christians and infidels but McDonalds and Britney Spears are cultural beheadings just as bad. Can't you see that? All the same, so why not just let them win. What's the dif?

Of course, the whole exercise in moral relativism collapses if you notice that one side is actually superior to the other and that one side is murdering infidels as fast as they can and are only sad they can't speed up the process.

But don't worry. Our multi-cultis are capable of excusing any offense by our enemies and magnifying any flaw on our side to excuse beheadings and honor killings and whatever else our jihadi enemies decide we deserve. When some on our side decide to be nonjudgmental, the sky's the limit for our enemies.