Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Eleven Years in Iraq

We must build a reputation for winning wars.

America's enemies have again gained reasons to doubt whether we have the strength of character to win in the face of difficulties despite our advanced military hardware. While both of our political parties are contributing to this state of affairs, one in particular (via Real Clear Politics) is leading the charge to the rear:

So far the terrorists' plan seems to be working. Even most Republican senators are demanding a withdrawal strategy. But it is the Democrats who are stampeding toward the exits. Apparently the death of about 2,100 soldiers over the course of almost three years is more than they can bear. Good thing these were not the same Democrats who were running the country in 1944, or else they would have pulled out of France after the loss of 5,000 Allied servicemen on D-day.

The Democratic mindset — cakewalk or cut and run — has already had parlous consequences. It is the reason why President Clinton did not take meaningful action against Al Qaeda in the 1990s. He figured that a serious military response — an invasion of Afghanistan or even a covert campaign to aid the Northern Alliance — would run steep risks, like body bags coming home. So he limited himself to flinging a few cruise missiles at empty buildings, leading our enemies to think that we were, in Osama bin Laden's words, a "paper tiger" that could be attacked with impunity. A precipitous withdrawal from Iraq today, aside from sparking a Balkans-style civil war in which hundreds of thousands might die, would confirm this baleful impression and encourage Islamo-fascists to step up their predations.

There is a story I remember, perhaps not even real, that was meant to convey the strength of will the Romans had when facing an enemy (from my memory). Once they began a siege, apparently, they would not lift it short of victory:

A Roman army marched up to a walled city and demanded its surrender. The ruler of the city refused and boasted that he had supplies to last ten years!

The Roman general responded that his army would besiege the city for eleven.

The city capitulated immediately.
If our so-called leaders would have the strength of character to back a war that they actually authorized until we win, we would not tempt enemies to kill as many of our troops as possible in order to drive us from the battlefield. In the long run, a reputation for doing what it takes to win will lead our enemies to learn that resistance is futile.

Remember, it takes a village to raise enemies to believe we're weenies.

We must stay eleven years in Iraq. And our enemies must know this as a fact.

Miracle Cure?

Medical news from France gives me hope that all is not lost for this once proud nation:

Doctors in France said they had performed the world's first partial face transplant, forging into a risky medical frontier with their operation on a woman disfigured by a dog bite.

In a nation of two-faced bureaucrats and politicians, there were plenty of donors, of course.

Doctors raised hopes that one day they might actually be able to transplant spines into French leaders.

Sadly, that advance is only in the research stage.

Further complications include finding suitable donors in the EU. The Dutch appear to be ruled out as donors at this point.

I, of course, wish the woman only the best ...

Is Victim the Right Term?

Members of Christian Peacemaker Teams, who have been in Iraq since October 2002 (Don't we all remember the halcyon pre-October 2002 days when Iraq was a peaceful paradise?), have been kidnapped by jihadi terrorists.

CPT is mad:

We are angry because what has happened to our teammates is the result of the actions of the U.S. and U.K. governments due to the illegal attack on Iraq and the continuing occupation and oppression of its people. Christian Peacemaker Teams (CPT) has worked for the rights of Iraqi prisoners who have been illegally detained and abused by the U.S. government. We were the first people to publicly denounce the torture of Iraqi people at the hands of U.S. forces, long before the western media admitted what was happening at Abu Ghraib. We are some of the few internationals left in Iraq who are telling the truth about what is happening to the Iraqi people We hope that we can continue to do this work and we pray for the speedy release of our beloved teammates.

They just don't get it. They are outraged by what has happened in Iraq since we overthrew Saddam. They seem bewildered that jihadis would harm them--they who "tell the truth" about what is happening to the Iraqi people. Their anger is directed not at the jihadis who will surely be issuing their snuff film of the deaths of these truth tellers in due time, but at America and Britain.

What must it be like to be someone who can't hate--or even blame--those who would kill them? To be someone who excuses criminal behavior against their brethren?

And is this confusing to the jihadis? Can they comprehend how the hate of the CPT people can be directed at America and Britain and not the sword-holders who will murder them with joy?

Are these team members even victims as they play a role for a goal they support? Do the jihadis even have to guard these people or do they volunteer to do chores around the apartment out of deep guilt and admiration for their freedom fighters? I'd wish them the best but I'm pretty sure they wouldn't even agree with what I wish for.

It's a funny world. Funny "strange" and not funny "ha ha," of course.

Come On, Fair is Fair

To some this is horrifying:

The US military is secretly paying Iraqi newspapers to print stories written by US soldiers in an effort to polish the image of the American mission in Iraq, a US newspaper reported.

Al Qaeda and the Baathists have pretty much had free reign to put out their stories with Al Jazeera, the BBC, The New York Times, The LA Times, CBS, NBC, ABC, and CNN, so what's the beef?

Really. Fair is fair.

And the reports note that the articles our military wrote about events in Iraq and paid to get in print were factually accurate. Which is more than our press does for free.

Two-By-Four Failure

Our strategy in Iraq has been pretty obvious for years now.

But the party that boasts of its nuanced big brains still doesn't understand our strategy in Iraq. Unwilling for months to either disagree with our strategy or to admit they don't understand the strategy, the anti-war Left has denied even recognizing that we have a strategy.

And even after the President gives a speech and announces our strategy, I figured the Left still wouldn't get it. As I wrote to Glenn Reynolds:

Perhaps the White House should have slapped a yellow cover on it and called it "Iraq Strategy for Dummies." They could make quite a series what with the confusion over intelligence, WMD, Al Qaeda, the word "imminent", etc.

And on the way home, listening to NPR (yes, yes, I know, I know), the loyal opposition did not disappoint me. Daniel Schorr was the first I heard. I tuned in only to the last ten seconds or so, and though I usually turn the station rather than listen to his mind-clouding intonations, I steeled myself to listen. I'm glad I did. Dan actually complained that the strategy document was more of a public relations document than a military planning document. To which there is only one response: No sh*t, Sherlock.

And the NPR announcer up next announced that the President's speech was an effort to explain our "war against Iraq." Well there's a source of confusion right there! We are not at war with Iraq. The Iraqis are our allies. We are fighting jihadis and Baathists upset they can't lop off limbs unmolested and in peace.

And then the report goes on to describe how Senators Reid (CORRECTION: make that "Reed" and not "Reid," I think) and Kerry (who is a "combat veteran" NPR reminds us) think that specific withdrawal dates were the most important thing the President could have announced and he did not. Well here's a clue, you two budding Von Moltkes, since our goal is victory and victory depends on defeating a thinking and resisting enemy, we can't predict a pull-out date. The only way we can set a date is to end the war by losing and announcing the time and place the last US helicopter will lift off from our embassy roof in the Green Zone. They don't want that, now do they?

Really, the anti-war Left cannot learn. The president tried to pound the strategy into their big brains with a two-by-four, and still they stare blankly. Clearly, the President needs to speak more slowly and use smaller words so they will finally get it.

Why is victory so hard for the Left to fathom?

UPDATE: Strategypage notes the amazing ability of the anti-war side to fail to recognize that we've had a strategy all along in Iraq. And that the major component of that strategy--arming the locals to do the fighting--is counter-insurgency 101. That's just how it is done.

Strategypage also notes this:

So the next time you feel inclined to tag Arabs as illogical and given to fanciful (and unprovable) beliefs, just take another look at this battle over "where is the strategy" in the American and Western press.

Reality-based community, indeed. This deserves a Glenn Reynolds' patented "heh."

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Permission to Go Postal

Four "peace activists" have been kidnapped in Iraq by the militantly peaceful.

Their organisation has a policy of not advocating the use of violence to save any of their members (though they don't say if they'd turn themselves back over to kidnappers if special forces do save them contrary to their organization's policy).

Instapundit does "strongly support" violence in case he is kidnapped. But his advice is needlessly wordy.

I prefer timeless advice in the unlikely event I am kidnapped: "Perdicaris alive or Raisuli dead." Replace names as needed, of course.

Then again, I'm no peace activist so I probably have no moral authority.

Asking For It

So the Poles have released details of a Soviet war plan and the stories simply report without comment the idea that this is a retaliatory plan following a NATO invasion of the Soviet-controlled Warsaw Pact countries:

Poland is risking further strains in relations with Russia by throwing open Cold War-era archives that include a 1979 Soviet retaliation plan that envisaged nuclear strikes on western European cities in the event of a war with NATO.

The map foresaw the nuclear annihilation of Poland and was dotted with red mushroom clouds over the German cities of Munich, Cologne, Stuttgart and the site of NATO headquarters in Brussels, Belgium.

Is historical memory in the press so short that reporters can be this dense?

Every Soviet war plan assumed a NATO offensive against them. And after absorbing the pummeling blows of the massive NATO effort for, oh, 1.057 seconds, the Soviets magically then launch a full scale counter-offensive presciently prepared for that looks amazingly like a surprise attack--but for the fact that NATO attacked first for that infamous 1-second invasion that provoked the Soviet "response."

And while I'm at it, the idea that the Warsaw Pact was an alliance formed in response to NATO is absurd. Moscow controlled all the East European governments and the Warsaw Pact was merely a facade created as propaganda to counter the real NATO alliance of Western Europeans, Canada, and America that arose to defend against such "retaliation" plans.

Freaking idiots.

The Point of a Pen

I guess we can finally agree that democracy can't be imposed at pen point. Wretchard quotes a NYT article on the failure of delegates to show up at the EU conference on creating democracy on the southern rim of the Mediterranean Sea:

In a summit meeting marked as much by who was not there as who was, the European Union opened a two-day conference here on Sunday aimed at renewing its commitment to developing and democratizing Muslim nations on the Mediterranean's southern rim ...with the goal of replicating in the Muslim world some of the European Union's procedures for integrating Central and Eastern European countries.

Like Eastern Europe was integrated? Wait, wasn't there that little 40-year struggle known as the Cold War that predated the glorious EU expansion east? You know, the one where American military might confronted the Soviets who held the eastern European nations enslaved? The Cold War we won? Hmm, must be thinking of something entirely different since conferences and bound agreements affixed with bright ribbons and offical stamps were all that were needed.

Meanwhile, Iraqis and Afghans vote in free elections under American-led guidance and protection. Must have been the pens.

Give Me Strength

I continue to hold the view that we do not have too few American troops in Iraq to win that campaign.

I’ve threatened/warned/promised that I’d drone on about this topic yet again if I had to, and by God I think I have to. So here goes.

It is commonly held (accurately, as far as I can tell) that you need troop strength at a minimum of 2% of the population. Calling Iraq at 25 million people means we would need at least 500,000 troops to pacify Iraq.

Of course, the same can be said for Afghanistan where we have 20,000 American troops, 10,000 NATO troops, 70,000 Afghan army, and 70,000 Afghan police to protect the same number of people. These 170,000 troops are winning there with the Taliban and al Qaeda clearly on the run and completely incapable of taking on the government. So the 2% rule is hardly an iron rule. Or have I missed the crowd that says Iraq distracts us from Afghanistan calling for an additional 330,000 US troops in Afghanistan?

In Iraq, we have 140,000 American troops as the base force (up to 160,000 for the election period we are in now, and with the next rotation announcement only including 90,000 new troops, thus far), 210,000 Iraq security personnel, 20,000 Coalition troops, and 20,000 contract personnel (I’m rounding). This totals 390,000 as the base but with 410,000 on the ground right now. Assuming Iraqi forces go up to 250,000 next year, US forces decline to 100,000, and Coalition forces decline to 10,000 (I find it hard to believe they won’t if we draw down), we can call it 380,000 forces. Still, to protect 25 million people, any of these totals should be too little to win if the 2% rule is iron. Many say that we should keep our troop strength constant or even increase this strength even as Iraqis come on line in larger numbers. Yet without the numbers the theory says we need, we’ve seen progress in the last year and a half since the low point of the April 2004 Sadr/Baathist/jihadi counter-attack. The enemy should be able to take advantage of our troops “shortage” to expand the war into Shia and Sunni areas and build momentum of their own. Yet we are winning. So how can this be possible?

Well, the 2% rule may be most applicable when you are occupying a hostile country. Had we invaded a 100% Sunni Iraq, and were unable to recruit significant numbers of locals into a puppet government to fight with us, 500,000 American or allied foreign troops would be needed, I’m sure. But it would have been a decade-long and bloody fight, more like Russia’s war in Chechnya, that I doubt we could have sustained anyway regardless of having “enough” troops.

But Sunnis only represent 20% of the total population. And the Kurds clearly welcomed us with flowers while the Shias clearly welcomed the overthrow of Saddam. Yes, some Shias did throw flowers despite the denials of the anti-war side now. But they were also mindful of our betrayal of their revolt in 1991. They did not really side with us until after the fall of 2004. We can thank the bloody-minded attacks on innocent civilians that prompted a change in Shia opinion from somehow blaming America for the attacks to wanting to kill the jihadi and Baathist enemies that were carrying out the terror attacks.

So 80% of the population of Iraq is basically with us, counting some cross-religious/ethnic loyalties that result in pro-Sadr Shias opposed to us or some Kurds to oppose us and some Sunnis supporting us. If these ethnic groups lived in geographically distinct areas, we’d be talking about subduing a population of 5 million, really. At the 2% rule, we’d need at least 100,000 troops to subdue these largely Sunni resisters.

But the population is mingled. Based on memory, I think we can call it as 8 million Shias in the south and 3 million Kurds in the north, leaving 5 million Sunnis, 2 million Kurds, and 7 million Shias mingled in the center. So to police or protect 14 million people, where the overwhelming majority of attacks take place, we’d need 280,000 troops and police at a minimum in this area. With about 400,000 Iraqi and foreign allied forces, we should be able to devote the 300,000 personnel needed to police the contested region. When you consider that the total security forces do not even count the Kurdish militias that largely secure the north and the smaller numbers of Shia militias in the south that help with the much more benign security environment there (though admittedly some of the militia should be counted as potential enemies), I don’t see how we need more US troops. Indeed, since we liberated Iraq we’d be fools to tell the Iraqis to sit back and watch us ramp up our troop numbers to fight for them. What does that tell Iraqis? What effect does it have on them? I think such a course would let Iraqis be passive observers of the war rather than combatants with a vital stake in winning. More important than numbers of troops is who the troops are. We need Iraqis and not Americans to fight and win.

As I’ve mentioned before, this so-called insurgency is nothing of the sort any more. It is now a terror campaign assisted by ample money and explosives inside Iraq plus jihadi support from outside the country. Our enemies have gone backwards down the escalation ladder from large formal units to platoon and company level attacks on military and police units, to roadside bombs directed against security forces, to suicide bombings directed at civilians. These are not discreet categories so there is some overlap and some exceptions, but the trend is quite clear. The enemy has not forged a national resistance against America and our Iraqi government allies. They have not maintained momentum to fight in larger units and gain control of areas. Instead, they have prompted a national resistance of the majority against the Baathists and jihadis and the enemy is losing control of areas it controls and getting atomized. The majority might not be happy that they need American troops but they know they do for now.

As time has gone on, more Iraqi troops and police trained and equipped to fight insurgents are being put on the line. These will provide the density of troops and police to protect the country with fewer and fewer American troops necessary to fight. US forces will still be needed for intelligence and reconnaissance, logistics, maintenance, planning, and firepower. Plus we will deter foreign invasion, of course.

More important when discussing a largely terrorist resistance, is building the Iraqi intelligence capability to identify the terrorist leaders inside Iraq. As this is developed and they gain experience (Remember, under Saddam, the Shias and Kurds were not trusted to do this so they are all new to the job.), Iraqi forces will defeat a well-financed and well-armed Sunni enemy that imports the most vicious killers from the Sunni world who have essentially bought the all-day ticket to their fantasy Jihad World in Iraq.

These jihadis remember the stirring tales of their older family members who flocked to Pakistan to go to training camps to fight the Soviets in Afghanistan. But these were mostly jihadi-tourists who spent their time in Pakistan refugee camps because the Afghans didn’t want amateurs getting Afghans killed. These Sunni jihadis came home in the 1980s with a couple of stills from rare Dan Rather-style forays into the edges of the fight combined with tales of magic hats and Apocalypse Now-style boat trips into Cambodia—no wait, that’s another fantasy altogether. In this war in 2005, the jihadi-tourists are getting waxed and dying in their al Anbar theme park. But they terrorize and kill before they die.

These factors make the enemy effective beyond their numbers and more US troops would have little positive effect and a lot of negatives, including the stress on the overall force and the good possibility that the Shias would have been content to let Americans fight for them—and then grown tired and angry as the fight dragged on without a sense of responsibility for their own safety to keep them determined to beat the terrorist and Baathist enemies.

So while I trust that the motives of most people who call for more troops are good, I continue to disagree that we have too few troops to win. And I do think we are clearly winning.

Monday, November 28, 2005

Please Excuse Me While I Vent

Idiocy should not be rewarded.

My first impulse would be to shun and ignore these particular idiots, but they are so numerous and persistent that I don't know what else to do. Plus, their bongoes are really annoying. And loud. And let's not even start on the puppets and hygiene habits. So sadly, they will not be ignored, so more drastic measures are called for.

Here goes.

Anybody who seriously uses the expression "speak truth to power" should be shot; their families sold into slavery; their Peugot stripped of the fifty bumper stickers plastered on the back and then crushed into a cube and placed in a landfill (not recycled); their possessions sold; their animals slaughtered for fur and meat; and their land plowed under and salted so that nothing may grow there again.

This isn't prompted by anything really specific. Just a vague feeling of unease that welled up today into a solution.

It's only a suggestion. Discuss amongst yourselves.

Dregs Need Not Apply

The Left continues to insist that American soldiers are poor and stupid, enlisting because they are the victims of our society who have no other options. The better off, they say, avoid service by the blood of the poor.

This is hogwash and anybody who has looked at our military in the last 20 years would know better than to make this claim. But it will not die because it is on Leftist life support, so it is good to have a study on this:

According to a comprehensive study of all enlistees for the years 1998-99 and 2003 that The Heritage Foundation just released, the typical recruit in the all-volunteer force is wealthier, more educated and more rural than the average 18- to 24-year-old citizen is. Indeed, for every two recruits coming from the poorest neighborhoods, there are three recruits coming from the richest neighborhoods.

The funny thing is that this underestimates the upper class in the military by only selecting for comparison the portion of the military that comes from the least privileged background--the enlisted part of the military. As long as we are talking about 18-24-year-olds, if you throw in the new 22-year-0ld second lieutenants who go on to reach even multi-starred Joint Chiefs of Staff rank, you would add even more troops from wealthy and educated backgrounds. These young officers suffer heavier casualty rates than the enlisted guys. So unless you exclude the better off from the general population as the base, how can you exclude the military personnel from the comparison population? Yet even doing so the enlisted are of a higher caliber than the general population peer group.

Our troops fight and die for many reasons. Pretending they are poor victims does a disservice to them and the country that produces such fine volunteers to defend us from our enemies.

Strong Horse

I recently urged the President to explain how we are winning in Iraq. When people can see we are winning, much of the attacks that are part of the Iraq War Debate That Will Not End will peter out. Political opponents who think complaining about the war will give them political advantage will fall silent and then applaud the victory.

James Q. Wilson is also looking for the President to give a speech about victory this Wednesday.

Explain the path to victory, Mr. President. Lead the country to victory.

Weekend at Uday's

Via The Corner is this gem from the actor John Cusack:

On being attacked from the right as a Hollywood liberal: "So maybe I'm smug, and maybe the Democrats are petty. Maybe you're right. But you're ordering people to their deaths. How are those two things comparable?"

Well, in the spirit of reaching for common ground I won't argue against his points on smug and petty.

With that warm glow of 67% consensus behind me, just what the heck is Cusack talking about when he says the right orders people to their deaths?

So American troops ordered to war are being sent to their deaths?

Well, yes, troops are dying. I never forget that for a minute. But Congress granted permission for that order with many reasons stated for doing so.

Further, Cusack makes the assumption that if only our troops came home, the deaths would stop. The total lack of linear thinking capability is astounding. The orders that sent our troops to Iraq and Afghanistan under the authority of Congress simply changed who would be dying, and certainly the scale of dying.

Yes, more than 2,300 Americans have died in both countries. And civilians die--though not that many at our hands--in the crossfire. On the plus side, the enemy dies in large numbers, too, as we fight back. And I include Iraqis and Afghans in the "we" designation since people who were once victims of cruel and gruesome deaths on the whim of Saddam or his sons or minions on a mass scale are now dying as they fight back to build a free country rather than a torture chamber with a UN seat.

But most importantly, there are tens of thousands who have not died since we overthrew the thugs of Iraq and Afghanistan and who will not die in the future. Afghans, Iraqis, New Yorkers, Pentagon staff, East African, Israelis,and airline passengers, to name just some, have all been casualties before we set foot in Iraq or Afghanistan. And since our enemy hates us, more will die in the future.

So the fact that people die has not changed. Just who is dying. And our troops suffer in battle to protect far more people--Americans and the rest of the world--than will ever die in battle.

Smug, petty, and blind. Not a pretty combination.

Bendy Straw

I had latched on to a quote from a Christian Science Monitor about press coverage:

Like many soldiers and marines returning from Iraq, Mayer looks at the bleak portrayal of the war at home with perplexity - if not annoyance. It is a perception gap that has put the military and media at odds, as troops complain that the media care only about death tolls, while the media counter that their job is to look at the broader picture, not through the soda straw of troops' individual experiences.

I was going to thrash it, but then Instapundit did it before I could (darn him for being able to post during work hours!):

Except that for the most part, what we get from the Big Media is just a different (and utterly predictable and negative) soda-straw view.

Of course, I can still point out where the press points their straw:
--Cindy Sheehan.
--So-called plastic turkeys.
--Ellsberg (or any other tiny protest using tight focus).
--Phony Koran flushing.
--White Phosphorous.
--Abu Ghraib.
--The Palestine Hotel.
--507th Maintenance Battalion ambush.
--The latest car bomb that explodes within camera shot of their hotel balcony in the Green Zone.

I guess that broad picture perspective they claim means they know where to point and bend the story.

Moral Authority

When the mother of Iraq War hero planted herself in Texas during August, the press gave her every utterance and flatulance against the war a full-blown media event treatment. She, as the mother of a soldier who died in Iraq, had moral authority that nobody could challenge. This meant that the press ignored her wacko comments about America, the Jews, and the jihadi enemy we fight in Iraq and Afghanistan to act as her press agent in the anti-war movement.

So is it my imagination or did the press largely ignore Sheehan in her second trip to Crawford for the Thanksgiving holiday?

Which leads me to ask, what happened to her absolute moral authority? Doesn't the press have an obligation--due to the absolute moral authority they bestowed on her in August--to renew their wall-to-wall coverage in case she utters something profound?

Moral authority is so unstable, apparently.

Sunday, November 27, 2005

Criticism Designed to Help Victory?

The Washington Post (via Instapundit) reports on a poll that hits on something I've harped on for quite awhile now as the loyal opposition nitpicks every decision in the war. Namely, that I could take their criticism if I thought it was genuinely intended to help America win in Iraq. In fact, I do not believe they criticize to ensure victory in war as much as they seek victory in politics.

Really, given that any war will have tremendous blunders on the way to victory and given that I believe this war has had far fewer mistakes than most, the enthusiasm which the anti-war side brings to criticizing that which the know little about is pretty clear evidence that they do not want America to win.

When people who I believe want America to win offer criticism, I have not questioned their motives even if I disagree with their specific critique. But for many on the Left, I just don't believe they hope for victory in the same fight that I support.

I guess I'm not alone:

Their poll also indicates many Americans are skeptical of Democratic complaints about the war. Just three of 10 adults accept that Democrats are leveling criticism because they believe this will help U.S. efforts in Iraq. A majority believes the motive is really to "gain a partisan political advantage."

My only question is how many of that 30% answered the way they did because they know answering truthfully will harm their chances of gaining a partisan political advantage.

Oh, and 70% think criticism of the war hurts troop morale. And 49% think we should only withdraw when the Iraqis can fight without us versus 16% who want out immediately.

For the majority of the critics of the war who would celebrate our defeat, I honestly don't know how they sleep at night.

Sunni Stupidity, Subjugation, Sanity, and Salvation

I've long been frustrated that the Sunnis of Iraq cling to the fantasy that they can reclaim their top-dog position within Iraq and resume neck-stomping on the Shia and Kurdish majorities.

Sadly, the Baathists have been bolstered in this fantasy by Sunnis from outside Iraq. These are either those who are willing to fund a fight to the last Iraqi Sunni to preserve the Sunni monopoly on ruling in the Arab world; or by Sunnis who are willing to die for jihadi fantasies of an Islamic empire.

Either way, Iraq is being used as a battlefield by outside Sunnis for goals beyond that of who will control Iraq itself.

But behind the shield of American-led military power, the Iraqis led by the Shia and Kurds who comprise 80% of the population have organized a government legitimized by elections and a security force that is growing in strength and beginning to emerge from the American shield to fight the terrorists and insurgents.

As the Iraqi government grows in power, the Sunnis of Iraq are being compelled to face an uncomfortable fact. Namely, they are losing and the victors will not likely be kind to those who have fought to the death granting no quarter to even women and children in their zeal to bomb their way to power. As Strategypage states:

Sunni Arabs are becoming increasingly nervous about their ability to remain in Iraq. To frequently paranoid Sunni Arabs, it's already beginning. In western Iraq, the attacks against terrorist strongholds, in Sunni Arab areas, continue. The military pressure has been constant on the terrorists for most of the year.

The growing awareness of losing is making the Sunnis aware that the victors, after suffering so much under Saddam and since the fall of Baghdad, might not just shake hands and call it a day:

The terrorists are slowly learning there's a difference between terrorizing a group, and just making them so angry that they will do great damage, perhaps even wipe out, their tormenters. To the Sunni Arab neighbors of Iraq, this has always been the ultimate nightmare. In the past, it never seemed possible that the Sunni Arab population would be driven from Iraq. But now, because of the Sunni Arab terrorism in Iraq, the "religious cleansing" of Iraq is becoming a possibility. For that reason, more and more Sunni Arab leaders, and even terrorist groups, are making peace with the government.

Making peace and stopping fighting is not enough to save the Iraqi Sunnis from retribution and absolute subjugation by the winners at this point. To save themselves, the Sunnis have to join the fight against the terrorists who won't stop resisting:

But this arrangement demands that the Sunni Arabs become active in fighting the terrorists. Many Sunni Arab leaders are reluctant to do this, for the terrorists have long gone after leaders who turn against them. Some are attacked or killed every month. However, while the terrorist groups may be reckless, many Sunni Arab leaders clearly see the patience of the Shia Arab majority growing shorter. Cleansing Iraq of Sunnis becomes more of a reality the longer the terrorists continue their attacks. You can see this happening already, as Sunni and Shia Arabs separate from villages and neighborhoods where they have long lived together, for safety from terrorist attack.

The Sunnis have a way out, I think, from their self-inflicted problem.

The Sunni Baathists can still join a "national resistance" with the Shias and Kurds against the foreign jihadis who have invaded Iraq. These terrorists have angered the majority already with their brutality. And they will continue fighting until killed even when the Sunnis of Iraq call it quits. By joining the fight that will still rage against foreign thugs who everyone can agree to hate, the Sunnis may repair some of the damage the Sunnis inflicted on themselves already.

The alternative to enthusiastically joining the government to protect Iraq could be pretty ugly.

I've been amazed at the stupidity of the Sunnis of Iraq in failing to see they cannot win a fight for Iraq. Their only choice is how brutal the Iraqi Shias and Kurds need to be in order to win.

Will the Sunnis choose sanity in time to save themselves?

Saturday, November 26, 2005

Reality-Based, My Butt

One thing that always torqued me off over the last year was the tendency of anti-war Lefties to note that war supporters often thought Saddam carried out the 9-11 attacks. The idiocy of this was self-evident to the reality-based war opponents.

That people believed this on September 12 based on years of Clinton administration warnings about Saddam and terrorism is not mentioned. Nor is the declining percentage who thought this might be true, indicating a very poor Bush administration campaign, apparently.

I usually settled for noting how Lefties thought we armed Saddam in the 1980s when the only thing Saddam got from us other than a few helicopters was a handshake from Rumsfeld.

But AEI has a useful listing of the myths Lefties continue to believe about Saddam and the war.

Reality-base, indeed.

Iraq War Debate Quagmire

One of the issues about the Iraq War and War on Terror generally that just pisses me off is the unending debate over basic facts. No matter how many times the anti-war side brings up some plastic turkey, it will never die under the assault of simple facts. The result is a never-ending debate over the decision to overthrow Saddam's regime.

Victor Hanson (via Real Clear Politics) addresses the very real Iraq-al Qaeda connections before the war:

As American casualties mount in Iraq, politicians at home now fight over who said what and when about weapons of mass destruction and the need for going to war. One of the most frequent charges is that President Bush hyped a non-existent link between Saddam Hussein and al-Qaida — and that as a result, we diverted our efforts from finishing off the real terrorists to start a new and costly war to replace a secular dictator.

This charge is false for several reasons — and illogical for even more. Almost every responsible U.S. government body had long warned about Saddam's links to al-Qaida terrorists.

Hanson then goes on to list these warnings. Read them all. Hanson concludes:

Americans can blame one another all we want over the cost in lives and treasure in Iraq. But the irony is that not long ago everyone from Bill Clinton to George Bush, senators, CIA directors and federal prosecutors all agreed that Saddam had offered assistance to al-Qaida, the organization that murdered 3,000 Americans. That was one of the many reasons we went into Iraq, why Zarqawi and ex-Baathists side-by-side now attack American soldiers — and why an elected Iraqi government is fighting with us.

The efforts to rewrite history are truly 1984ish in their scale. There were ties between Saddam and al Qaeda. The assessment of Iraq's WMD arsenal and programs was not invented on September 12, 2001. And Joe Wilson is an idiot.

Can we not at least agree on the basics before continuing the endless debate over the Iraq War?

Friday, November 25, 2005

Whatever Happened ... ?

This is just disturbing (from Strategypage):

November 18, 2005: There are apparently two "mother ships", for pirate gangs, operating off the Somali coast. Eyewitness reports say that at least one ship has a derrick on board for putting smaller speed boats in the water. The smaller boats go off and make the attacks. The U.S. and other major naval powers are under pressure to send in warships to shut the pirates down. At the moment, three cargo ships, three fishing boats and two dhows are being held for ransom by the pirates.

No. Not the piracy itself. That goes on all over the world. What disturbs me is that one, even with pressure applied to us we aren't acting; and two, we are being pressured to "shut them down."

Whatever happened to the age when all civilized nations agreed that pirates should simply be killed, and when US Navy ships would simply sink any pirate vessels we spotted without any outside encouragement?

I bet piracy would decline a whole lot if pirate vessels were dealt with via Harpoons with rescue boats too far away to get to the spot before there is only an oil slick at the strike site.

When thugs haven't evolved beyond brute force, it is foolish for the civilized nations to rely on treaties and courts.

Thursday, November 24, 2005

A Really Loyal Opposition?

Just why, I've asked, do we assume that an effort to overthrow the mullahs will prompt the Iranian people opposed to the regime to actually rally to its defense? Ledeen asks this as well when he discusses the possibility of overthrowing the mullahs:

The main arguments against this policy are that the repressive regimes in Damascus and Tehran are firmly in control; that any meddling we do will backfire, driving potential democrats to the side of the regimes in a spasm of indignant nationalism; and that the democracy movements are poorly led, thus destined to fail. The people who are saying these things — in the universities, the State Department, National Security Council and the Intelligence Community — said much the same about our support for democratic revolution inside the Soviet Empire shortly before its collapse. They forgot Machiavelli's lesson that tyranny is the most unstable form of government, and they forgot how much the world changes when the United States moves against its enemies.

We need to stop the mullahs from controlling nuclear weapons. Invasion is simply not possible. We have neither the troops nor the stomach to embark on another war in the near future. An air campaign may or may not destroy a significant amount of the nuclear infrastructure of Iran. And even if it does, the Iranians will rebuild, but this time will dig deeper, embed the facilities into the civilian sector more tightly, and disperse the facilities more widely--including in foreign countries.

So overthrowing the regime is the only option left other than just learning to live with the Islamic bomb.

But even though most Iranians hate the regime, many people here say that an effort to overthrow the mullahs will just lead the Iranian opposition to ditch opposition and rally to the government in its defense. These people opposed to changing the regime in Tehran argue that the opposition hates the regime, but hates even more the idea of America saving them from the hated regime.

Remember that civil wars are the most vicious of conflicts. Just look at the politics of this country. The Left reserves levels of hate and vitriol for our government that they'd be ashamed to direct toward any foreigners--even enemies. If America's Left had rallied to the side of President Bush after 9-11 and supported his actions against foreign enemies, I'd believe that the Iranian opposition might hate to be saved by America.

What is more likely, I think, is that the Iranian opposition--if there is a leader capable of rallying the opposition--will use the leverage of our aid to defeat a regime they've been helpless to defeat on their own.

And so what if they decide they hate us for trying to overthrow the mullahs? The regime already does hate us and it will hate us whether 10% or 40% or 90% of the population joins the regime in hating us. We don't get points if one of our cities is nuked in some mullah plot yet 90% of Iranians express regret at that action.

Regime change by supporting domestic oppostion in Iran is the only option left short of learning to live with the terror regime. God help us if we decide living with the current Iran is acceptable.

A Republic--If They Can Keep It

As Iraqis prepare to go to the polls for the third time this year, many anti-war types on both the Left and Right ridicule the idea that Arabs can handle democracy. Or even want it.

But how do you explain how every Arab dictatorship, including Saddam's, has sham elections? I mean, if Arabs don't value democracy, why would the regimes even bother with elections? Shouldn't these rulers have just asserted Arabs don't want democracy so we'll rule the way we want?

I think that Arabs will enjoy actual real voting where you have to wait to find out who wins, rather than knowing the results are set by the ruling elite.

After all, in the age of monarchies, people wondered whether Americans of all people could handle democracy. We've had a pretty good run so far. We should all welcome Iraq to the ranks of democracies and work to ensure that more follow in their neighborhood.

We Need a Sergeant Major in Congress

As the shaky Coalition of the Willing in Congress teeters on the edge of jumping on the kitchen stool and collectively yelling "EEEK!" over progress in the Iraq fight, let's have a short carnival of the sane on the progress and stakes:

Max Boot on the opinions of soldiers, Marines, and Iraqis on the war effort.

Victor Hanson expresses his view.

Or you can run around in circles and scream.

Steady lads! Fire on Command. Wait for it!

Our troops are steady. And they are winning. I remain thankful beyond words for their dedication and skill.

Let's Play "What Changed?"

Via Winds of Change is this invaluable catalog of New York Times opinions on all things Iraq from the Clinton administration to the present era.

The summary:

A war can be lost because public opinion turns against its continued prosecution. The New York Times – the self-described “newspaper of record” – is among the world’s most influential opinion leaders. As shown by the cited quotations, the newspaper’s stance on Iraq underwent a complete transformation during the decade separating 1993 and 2003. While its editors never lost their fear of Saddam’s weapons of mass destruction (WMD), their prescription for countering the threat posed by the weapons was altered beyond recognition. In 1993, by arguing that cease-fire violations nullified U.N. protection, the Times affirmed the right of a victorious party to resume hostilities at its sole discretion if the party it defeated did not abide by the terms of the agreement to which it affixed its signature. Ten years later, the Times reversed its stance, asserting that the United States should not go to war without the approval of the United Nations. In so doing, the Times implicitly argued that going to war with the approval of a multilateral institution took precedence over the use of military force to expeditiously eliminate the threat posed by Iraq’s WMD.

Unless somebody want to argue that Iraq evolved from a Saddam-led threat to a happy kite-flying paradise over those ten years (I mean other than Michael Moore--may his Twinkies always have dried cream fillings), the only fact that changed is that a Republican rather than a Democrat called Saddam's Iraq a threat.

On the bright side, I do wonder how much longer the NYT will be the self-styled paper of record. I find that since they put up the Great Wall of the Times to protect their columnists from the criticism of the pajama-clad hordes, I hardly ever even read their news. I used to read some of their columnists (though never that economist fellow--his name is honestly escaping me) and then read the news as long as I was there. Without the draw of at least Brookes, I don't even read the news. I wonder if this is a common reaction?

But how you can call this evolution of opinion other than shamefully partisan is beyond me.

Krugman! Ah, my memory isn't failing. I remembered before I hit "publish post." Man, he is an idiot. Far worse than Frank Rich. I mean, Rich is the guy who comments on plays for goodness sake, who can take him seriously?

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Dangerous Delusion (East Asia Version)

Via Drudge is this article that says that there is a belief in East Asia that China would win any war with America. Interestingly enough, a couple readers emailed me with a link to this (I confess I spotted it already when a co-worker recommended a picture of Jennifer Aniston on Drudge. I never did find the picture...).

This is both incomprehensible as a matter of facts and disturbing for its consequences if true:

The overwhelming assessment by Asian officials, diplomats and analysts is that the U.S. military simply cannot defeat China. It has been an assessment relayed to U.S. government officials over the past few months by countries such as Australia, Japan and South Korea. This comes as President Bush wraps up a visit to Asia, in which he sought to strengthen U.S. ties with key allies in the region.

Most Asian officials have expressed their views privately. Tokyo Governor Shintaro Ishihara has gone public, warning that the United States would lose any war with China.

First of all, is this assessment coming from the Tokyo Governor? The article isn't really clear. The article says:

Officials acknowledge that Mr. Ishihara's views reflect the widespread skepticism of U.S. military capabilities in such countries as Australia, India, Japan, Singapore and South Korea. They said the U.S.-led war in Iraq has pointed to the American weakness in low-tech warfare.

What "officials?" And if so many are convinced we are on the losing side in the correlation of forces, as the Soviets put it, why are Australia, India, Japan, and Singapore all forging closer defense relations with America? Even South Korea has troops in Iraq, and despite increased anti-Americanism they seem steady enough as long as North Korea is looming--certainly more reliable than the French were in NATO under the Soviet threat.

The reasoning for the governor's stated assessment of our chances to beat China? He said:

"In any case, if tension between the United States and China heightens, if each side pulls the trigger, though it may not be stretched to nuclear weapons, and the wider hostilities expand, I believe America cannot win as it has a civic society that must adhere to the value of respecting lives," Mr. Ishihara said in an address to the Washington-based Center for Strategic and International Studies.

Mr. Ishihara said U.S. ground forces, with the exception of the Marines, are "extremely incompetent" and would be unable to stem a Chinese conventional attack. Indeed, he asserted that China would not hesitate to use nuclear weapons against Asian and American cities—even at the risk of a massive U.S. retaliation.

The governor said the U.S. military could not counter a wave of millions of Chinese soldiers prepared to die in any onslaught against U.S. forces. After 2,000 casualties, he said, the U.S. military would be forced to withdraw.

First of all, the idea that the US Army, which has set the land-speed record in the Middle East in two wars since 1991 is "extremely incompetent" is extremely ignorant. I mean, it is one thing to point out specific weaknesses, but a blanket statement such as this betrays sheer stupidity. The US Army is the best in the world right now in tactics, weapons, training, and combat experience.

And the idea that there are millions of Chinese soldiers prepared to die is sheer idiocy, too. The Chinese are downsizing their ground forces and right now, "millions" is quite literally a couple million. And as I've read, the Chinese are still smarting over the Korean War when the Chinese tried that whole "wave" idea and were slaughtered by US troops far less trained than today's American soldier.

Besides, just where would millions of Chinese foot soldiers confront us? Any war would be a naval and air clash, leaving little opportunity for mythical millions to go over the top.

And the idea that the Chinese might launch a few of their nuclear missiles at us and then survive a massive American retaliatory strike is even dumber than the earlier analysis. China is no longer a massive lump of proletarian fury ready to absorb any strike and keep a backward economy going. China's economy is far more vulnerable to attack and a nuclear strike on Chinese soil would be devastating now. We're long past the point where Mao envisioned that peasants could emerge from bunkers and carry on the war after a few hundred million Chinese die.

And though some in America are eager to run after 2,000 casualties, we haven't run yet and I think we will win before that pressure is too great. And in our history, many people--including the Japanese in 1941--have experienced ruin on the assumption that America will not suffer casualties to gain victory.

Finally, the idea that our civic society will not allow us to kill for victory needs only two words that the Tokyo Governor should appreciate: "Hiroshima" and "Nagasaki." Toss in "Dresden" if you think we won't use nukes.

Really, there is a lot of idiocy in one small article.

Unfortunately, if the Chinese believe this assessment is true, they will risk war with America. As I've noted, China will decide what is a rational course of action--not us. So Chinese leaders may read this article and lap it up, bolstering their apparent belief that no matter how superior our military power is, their superior will to win will bring them victory.

We will slaughter Chinese in order to win if Peking chooses war with America, just as we've wiped the floor with past enemies.

My assessment at least has history to bolster it. I have no idea where a Tokyo Governor gets his information. It isn't reality-based, in my opinion.

I'm Not Laughing Like I Used To

I've mocked Hugo Chavez of Venezuela as one of the Axis of El Vil ("the vile one") as a sort of joke pretend third-tier threat.

On occasion I've worried that Chavez is bucking for a promotion to the Axis of Evil.

More and more, I'm convinced that Chavez is becoming a real threat that we will have to devote resources to combatting:

If all there was to the Venezuelan president was his backward socialist views, Chavez wouldn't be such a problem. He'd just be a hypocrite whose government enriches itself on highly globalized, state-controlled oil revenues, while he denies the region's privately owned businesses the same opportunity.

The trouble is, Chavez is about much more than hypocrisy. He's become an exporter of revolution, a socialist authoritarian with a Fidel Castro-style agenda to destabilize the region and with oil dollars to finance his ambitions.

Even though we've ignored Chavez, he continues to pound his chest and mark his territory. He sees our plot everywhere and loudly proclaims his continuing victory over them.

Nutball ruler and oil wealth. What is it about oil-exporting rather than nutmeg cultivation that seems to prompt nutball dictators with delusions of grandeur?

Chavez sees us as an enemy? Well let's be his enemy, then. So far he's gotten a free ride with victories over phantom American plots. We've nothing to lose by actually publicly declaring our opposition to him and working openly for his removal. As the author states:

It's time to call Hugo Chavez on his aggressive, unilateral, destabilizing foreign policy, and even to punish him for it.

Like we haven't got enough to worry about. Hugo is really torquing me off.

Disease vs. Cure

Bear with me as I indulge my paranoia.

Europe's demographic problems are potentially severe with Moslems increasing far faster than Europeans. With Moslems unwilling or unable to assimilate, Europe could be controlled by jihadi Moslems intent on extending the Ummah to Western Europe by the end of the century.

So this Steyn article prompts a recurring thought of mine that seems so bizarre but not so far-fatched anymore. Steyn writes:

So what's the easier response for Japanese and European governments? Weaning their pampered populations off the good life and re-teaching them the lost biological impulse or giving some local entrepreneur the licence to create a new subordinate worker class?

Will Europeans clone their way to demographic security? Will it be done according to the regulations and specifications of the anti-democratic European Union elites?

And will we like the New European Man that the EUrocrats create? I used the term "EUzis" a while back, and regretted it. Was I too hasty in repenting?

Death Grip

Almost a year ago, I led a post with this introduction:

When I presented a Land Warfare Paper at the 1997 annual meeting of the Association of the United States Army on the Iran-Iraq War I was asked if the invasion that went from an assumed cake walk to an 8-year war of attrition should teach us anything. Wouldn't we just clobber anybody with overwhelming force (like 1991) and wouldn't we just pack up and leave if it got too rough as we did in Vietnam?

I want to quote part of that paper here again:

Not wanting to repeat our experience in Vietnam, many speak of needing an "exit strategy" before committing troops. Such an approach seeks to minimize our losses under the assumption that we will at some point lose, so we had better know when to cut our losses and get out. It also assumes that the situation allows for an exit and that our enemy will allow it. The Iraqis desperately wanted out of the war they initiated in 1980 but were locked in by Iran in a death grip that allowed for no easy exit. While planning for a tough, resilient enemy is prudent, we must never become paralyzed by concentrating on how that enemy can hurt us. We need to keep our focus on achieving victory.

Our enemy in Iraq won't let us just go home to lick our wounds and battle for the White House in peace. That's really the key to shooting down the idea that we must immediately pull out of Iraq and let the Iraqi government fend for itself. Our jihadi enemies who have invaded Iraq to fight us there will fight us wherever we go. Remember that we didn't start this war. And if we go home, with our tails between our legs, our enemies will follow us here--again.

Our enemies will try to hurt us wherever we are. So let's focus on achieving victory, shall we? The way home goes through al Anbar province. And draw some encouragement from the fact that if we stay long enough, we create an ally that will fight our enemies at our side and free us to fight elsewhere on our terms.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Don't Underestimate the Threat

China remains a threat with its focused efforts to improve capabilities for a very specific war--the conquest of Taiwan. The fact that China is overall weaker than America, Japan, and even India is irrelevant when you look at the war China plans to win.

Strategypage once again pours cold water on the notion that China is a major threat to America. Hutchison points out:

Two other countries are competitors with China for the position of being the top power in Asia – India and Japan. Both countries are also carrying out major modernization programs, particularly involving their fleets and air forces. Both are already far ahead of China in qualitative terms of having capable naval and air forces.


China is behind both India and Japan in the arenas of airpower and naval forces. In Asia, China has the third most-powerful military. India and Japan are close contenders for the top spot. China only ranks first in the amount of hype it receives.

Once again, as I've pointed out every other time I've linked to posts that discuss Chinese weaknesses, I don't disagree with a single word of the analysis. I don't lay awake at night worrying about Chinese troops coming ashore in California. Should it come to a fight in the next generation, it will be with American aircraft (manned or unmanned) flying over Chinese territory and not the other way around.

But this does not, as I've said before, mean China is not a threat. The Chinese build up is narrowly focused to take Taiwan and to keep us out of the fight long enough to win. In this narrow band of capabilities, China is getting ready to take Taiwan. And Taiwan isn't helping by refusing to arm up in the face of the Chinese threat.

Japan is stronger than China at sea and in the air, but may not be able to intervene fast enough. India is stronger in sea and air power, but is too far away from Taiwan. And America is far away and may take too long to get significant power into the fight in time to defend Taiwan. This is despite the fact that we have a well-rounded military capable of doing lots of things all over the world.

It just doesn't matter that China is generally backward in military hardware when we look at specific scenarios for conflict. When we focus on Taiwan, the fact that China does not have a modern military across the board means China would lose the war if it escalated; but if the war stays narrowly focused it is a different story. China may have enough advanced equipment to conquer Taiwan in the very near future at a cost China will accept. And that will be a defeat for us despite our military superiority over China, Japan's superiority over China, and India's superiority over China.

The Chinese are far from being ten feet tall. But you don't need that kind of height to conquer Taiwan.

I Should Have Seen This One

Via Mudville Gazette, this report on the Sunni reaction to the discovery and release by US forces of a bunch of mostly Sunni prisoners held and seemingly abused by the Iraqi government. One Iraqi Sunnis is amazed and he isn't alone:

Like Mohammed, much of the Sunni Arab minority has taken heart in the recent discovery, which was announced Tuesday. The idea that the U.S. military may be trying to help the Sunnis has given them an instant boost in confidence that the parliamentary elections in December could make them players in the next government.

I've spent a long time wondering when the Sunnis would stop acting stupid and realize that their best chance to come in from the cold is while we are in Iraq to protect them from the revenge that the Shias especially wish to mete out to their former jailers and torturers. The Sunni insistence on fighting and committing more atrocities rather than grasping a chance to join the new Iraq truly amazed me.

But when an event that should have prompted me to suspect just this reaction occurred, I was so convinced that the Sunnis were still stuck on stupid that it didn't occur to me that finally some eyes might be opening.

That some eyes are opening is a surprising source of encouragement for me on the prospects of Sunnis ending their support of terrorism to restore their old neck-stomping role.

I'm Just Not This Ruthless

Strategypage comments on the Zarqawi death rumors and wonders if we really want him dead?

So, do we gain more from his death because his organizational and leadership skills are no longer directing the religious elements in the terrorist organization, or do we lose because the al Qaeda leadership asserts more control, and curbs the bloodier attacks on women, children, mosques, etc?

The post says we're better off with him alive and alienating Moslems by his murderous acts.

I just can't support this even though I recognize the truth in the question posed.

Hunt Zarqawi down and kill him. Keep him from killing more innocents. I'll worry about the "downside" later.

This We'll Not Defend

When I raised my right years ago and swore that I would uphold and defend the constitutions of the United States and the state of Michigan, it was perhaps the proudest day of my life. I was standing as a free citizen pledging to do my duty in uniform to defend my country that has given me so much opportunity and freedom.

And let me say again as I try to whenever I mention my time in uniform, I was merely a rear echelon reservist who never had to put my oath to the test in war. So I'm not trying to imply a Special Forces background, or anything like that (though as a radio operator I could certainly call them).

So it is with sadness, disgust, and bewilderment that I read this:

By a margin of 60 percent to 40 percent, San Francisco's voters told military recruiters to stay out of the city's high schools. Although Measure I is nonbinding, it is a repudiation of a basic obligation of citizenship. Whatever one's views on the Iraq war and the president's policies, we are all under the protection of the U.S. military. Fighting for our foreign policy goals in the public arena is one thing. Making it impossible for our military to recruit is another.

Measure I may be "merely" symbolic, but the statement it makes is in no way trivial. In the simplified language of the ballot, voters were told, "If you vote 'yes,' you want it to be City policy to oppose military recruiters' access to public schools and to consider funding scholarships for education and training that could provide an alternative to military service." And they replied, overwhelmingly, yes, that is what we want.

A revolting sentiment to cast a ballot on. Yet they know this is a consequence-free tantrum that demonstrates (to themselves) their moral superiority. For in the end, the men and women who pledge to defend our nation would never carve out a San Francisco exception to that oath.

Sleep well, San Franciscans. You count on real citizens (and many non-citizens with more patriotism than you show) in our military to defend you even as you shun and scorn that military.

Our military won't let you down. But you knew that.

Two Problems With This Story

This is amusing:

The Daily Mirror reported that Bush spoke of targeting Al-Jazeera's headquarters in Doha, Qatar, when he met Blair at the White House on April 16, 2004. The Bush administration has regularly accused Al-Jazeera of being nothing more than a mouthpiece for anti-American sentiments.

Blair talked the President out of this according to the story.

There are two problems with this, of course.

First, why would we bomb a station in Qatar, which is an ally of ours?

Second, if we were going to bomb a station in an allied country that is a mouthpiece for anti-American sentiments it would have been the BBC we aimed for.

For the record:

"We are not interested in dignifying something so outlandish and inconceivable with a response," White House spokesman Scott McClellan told The Associated Press in an e-mail.

Al-Jazeera is not amused:

Al-Jazeera said in a statement that it was investigating the report. "If the report is correct then this would be both shocking and worrisome not only to Al-Jazeera but to media organizations across the world," it said.

Of course, if Al-Jazeera really believed Bush thought of bombing them, they wouldn't risk getting him mad my launching an investigation. We still have bombers.

Bush Derangement Syndrome manifests itself in sometimes amusing outbursts.

Not So Fast, Jack

It is funny how the press headlines of stories convey a false message at odds with the story details.

This story headline says:

Iraqi Factions Seek Timetable for U.S. Pullout

But the article says something significantly different and provides some needed context:

The announcement, made at the conclusion of a reconciliation conference here backed by the Arab League, was a public reaching out by Shiites, who now dominate Iraq's government, to Sunni Arabs on the eve of parliamentary elections that have been put on shaky ground by weeks of sectarian violence.

About 100 Sunni, Shiite and Kurdish leaders, many of whom will run in the election on Dec. 15, signed a closing memorandum on Monday that "demands a withdrawal of foreign troops on a specified timetable, dependent on an immediate national program for rebuilding the security forces," the statement said.

"The Iraqi people are looking forward to the day when foreign forces will leave Iraq, when its armed and security forces will be rebuilt and when they can enjoy peace and stability and an end to terrorism," it continued.

So let's look at some important facts, shall we?

One, this was a reconciliation meeting. The Shias were reaching out to Sunnis to give them something to call a victory since the Sunnis are the ones who want us out. We ended their gravy train built on the mass graves of Shias and Kurds, so it is natural the Sunnis are eager for us to leave.

Second, the concession was in name only since the call for a timetable is dependent on Iraqi security forces being ready. So there is not a timetable really, but a conditions-based call for withdrawal more in line with the President's strategy.

The last paragraph summarizes the wish for peace and the defeat of terrorism based on Iraqi capabilities that allow Ameircan troops to leave.

Funny how this is described so incorrectly so soon after Rep. Murtha calls for us to immediately withdraw and finish the pull-out within six months. The impression left with readers is that the Iraqi people agree with Murtha when they, in fact, do not. Funny also how the headlines never favor the war effort.

Our press: Stupid or willfully partisan? You make the call.

Monday, November 21, 2005

No Magic Bullet

When you consider that NATO's air assault on rump Yugoslavia in 1999 required about eleven weeks to convince Belgrade to capitulate (and I remain perplexed as to why the Serbs gave up since the damage done was minimal), I am amazed that some think that a Chinese missile barrage could defeat Taiwan.

Via Mad Minerva I read this analysis by MeiZhongTai of China's missile arsenal pointed at Taiwan that questions just how effective they would be:

Simply put, the combined warhead capacity of 467 CSS-6 and CSS-7 SRBMs (1,100 pounds each) is the equivalent of only 9.5 Vietnam era B-52 sorties (54,000 pounds each). Even if all 700 SRBMs were used and all reached their targets, it would only equal 14 sorties. To look at it another way, the 700 SRBMs would only total 385 tons of high explosives, compared with the hundreds of thousands of tons dropped on Vietnam, for example.

The technical analysis of how many missiles would hit after considering strategy, dud rates, accuracy, and missile defenses is beyond my knowledge base, quite honestly. But these are reasonable assumptions, it seems.

I do think, however, that the assumption that three batteries of Patriots could throw out 200 anti-missiles to stop a surge attack is way too optimistic.

Still, I think the point that this one-dimensional threat could not bring Taiwan to its knees is accurate regardless of the number that will hit their targets. Either the Chinese shoot their bolt all at once and it is over fast and the Taiwanese quickly realize they survived; or the missiles dribble in over weeks or months in a psychological warfare campaign--in which case the Taiwanese Patriots get to shoot a lot, the US sends in visible resupply, and US and/or Japanese warships get in position to help shoot down the Chinese missiles. Really, this would be a cheap victory for the US and Japan as well as Taiwan. Indeed, the missile campaign might prompt Taiwan to make up for long neglect of its defenses by showing that China really will attack.

And if the Taiwanese send a submarine or some planes out into the Strait to scatter some mines in response, the economic dislocation just from increased insurance costs for shipping would harm China as much as the missiles fired would harm Taiwan, I think.

So forget about the Chinese missiles as some potent force that could cripple Taiwan. short of putting nukes, chemicals, or bio weapons on them, they will just make loud booms for the evening news. Heck, even chemicals wouldn't, on their own, do a lot of harm.

Of course, this unfortunately means that using the missiles only really makes sense in a full-scale assault on the island.

No Exit Strategy--Victory!

The jihadis in Iraq may hope that our internal divisions over fighting in Iraq will save them as divisions saved the communist North Vietnamese regime in 1968, but Peters thinks they are mistaken. Times are different and so is the president waging this war (via Real Clear Politics):

Popularity polls don’t wage wars. Nations wage wars, and when their leaders lead, when they’re plain spoken and determined and have a reasonable plan to secure the nation’s vital national interests, democracies fight well.

More bad news for the terrorists: This president is no Lyndon Johnson. He won’t quit.

The anti-war side can increase the cost we will pay in lives and money to win, but I don't believe President Bush will settle for anything less than victory in Iraq. I'm counting on this, in fact, no matter how insane the anti-war side gets.

Withdrawing From Iraq

Strategypage notes that the jihad financers are shifting away from Iraq and back to Afghanistan in the face of pending defeat in Iraq:

The Taliban has attracted additional money, and suicide bombers, from Arabia. Two years ago, most of this support shifted to Iraq, where al Qaeda believed it had a better chance of winning some kind of victory. But too many Arab terrorist resources in Iraq produced nothing, and Iraqis have become very hostile to al Qaeda as a result of all the Iraqis killed by terrorist attacks. So now, efforts are shifting to Afghanistan. However, this is also a hostile environment for Arab terrorists. Moreover, Arabs stand out more in Afghanistan, where most Afghans are European or Central Asian in appearance (the majority Afghans belong to ethnic groups related to the ones that invaded Europe thousands of years ago.) Afghans have been quick to turn in suspicious Arabs, or any suspected terrorist activities.

Recall that the money men shifted support to Iraq when Afghanistan looked like a loser. Now it looks better relatively speaking after the drubbing the jihadis have received in Iraq.

I guess we aren't the only side in this war whose supporters want to bug out of Iraq.

And I again have to wonder about a loyal opposition that wants to save an enemy already convinced it will lose to us and in the process of disengaging from the war.

Fig Leaf

As I understand it, the plan that Representative Murtha proposes to immeditately begin to withdraw from Iraq and complete it in six months differs from retreat and defeat is that he would redeploy Marines offshore as a strike force to go back in in case things get worse after we leave in order to restore the situation of the ground.

So let me get this straight, we pull out 140,000 US and 20,000 Coalition troops (for they will not stay if we leave) because we cannot stand the price of staying.

Then we redeploy Marines at sea. How many? Murtha doesn't say. But if the situation in Iraq deteriorates without 140,000 US troops, we'd need a lot more than that number to restore the situation.

So we'd need the entire Marine Corps sitting on ships offshore. What? That isn't practical since not every Marine is actually deployable and suitable for counter-insurgency?

Well then, we'll just add Army troops sitting at sea? What's that? We don't have sufficient amphibious lift for more than a dozen battalions even if all amphibious platforms are at sea at once?

Well then, I guess we just have a Marine Expeditionary Unit of a couple thousand troops at sea to pretend we haven't retreated and provide cover to those politicians who'd rather retreat but don't want to admit defeat.

The last time we "redeployed" forces out to sea after a setback didn't work too well for us or the locals or the peace of the region.

Nor did the time before that when we vowed we'd return if needed. And Murtha should remember this one.

I once joked that al Qaeda's plan for victory included the first farcical step of ejecting America from Iraq. Everything else logically follows. I'm not laughing now.

I don't question Murtha's devotion to duty as a Marine in Vietnam. I question whether he has any clue about how to wage war today. Based on his plan's many obvious flaws, what exactly is the basis for the respect Representative Murtha gets as a strategic thinker?

Murtha's plan is no plan for victory--at least not our victory. It is a retreat poorly disguised as an advance to the rear. That so many of his party appear tempted to embrace this flimsy excuse to retreat is truly sad.

Lack of Basic Knowledge

I've often noted that I despair of our press even understanding military affairs sufficiently to accurately report on it. The lack of knowledge by reporters who cover military matters seems to be a badge of honor when they'd be ashamed of similar subject ignorance if they covered the arts or fashion beats.

I missed this article the first time around but Real Clear Politics linked to it recently. I'm not going to comment on the subject of troops withdrawal from Iraq. What I want to note is this paragraph:

A top U.S. commander in Iraq, Lt. Gen. John R. Vines, told reporters last month that four or five of 17 battalions, roughly one-quarter of U.S. forces in Iraq, could be pulled out if security conditions improved and if Iraqi national elections scheduled for December went smoothly.

This is so clearly wrong that it amazes me that it made it into print in a major newspaper. How do I know it is wrong? Well, I know we have about 17 US brigades as the base force in Iraq--not 17 battalions. A battalion is about a third of a brigade--less than a third, really, when you count supporting units attached to a brigade.

If the reporter even knew the basic fact that a brigade is about 5,000 troops and a battalion about 800, it would be possible to know that we couldn't possibly have only 17 battalions in Iraq when we have 138,000 troops there as the base force. The reporter would know that we simply could not have that many support troops sitting in bases supporting only 17 combat battalions in the field.

Even if Vines mis-spoke and used the term "battalion," anybody worth their salt would know that was a simple word error and report on "brigades."

But the reporter didn't know anything about military structure and the editor didn't know enough to question this.

So how do we expect them to report issues of tactics, operations, and strategy when they can't get the basics right and don't even know enough to recognize a clear mistake?

Sunday, November 20, 2005

Oil Politics

I noted back in May that I wanted Japan to win the competition with China over a pipeline route in Russia's Far East. It seems that the Russians will build an oil pipeline east to the coast to supply Japan rather than south to China:

"We plan to build the pipeline to the Pacific coast with eventual supplies to the Asia-Pacifc region including Japan," Putin said in a speech at a Russia-Japan investors forum in Tokyo.

Russia is building a 4,130-km (2,566 miles), $11.5 billion pipeline across Siberia that will pump 80 million tonnes of oil a year (1.6 million barrels per day) to the Pacific.

State pipeline monopoly Transneft is building it in two stages. It expects to finish the first stage at Skovorodino, far from the coast but close to China, in 2008.

Japan has been keen to win a promise that Russia would carry on construction to a port in the Pacific, while China wants the pipeline to head south into its industrial north. No date has been set for the second stage.

I think Russia decided it would be better for their national security to ship oil to Japan rather than south to China. A pipeline south might have been a temptation to China to march north to secure the oil supply.

By contrast, getting Japan and hopefully their ally America interested in defending oil supplies from Russia might help Moscow keep China at bay as China's power in the Far East grows relative to Russia's.

I think this is a good sign that despite noise about an alliance between China and Russia, that there is no real possibility that these two countries really have shared strategic interests.

Zarqawi Killed Yesterday?

I usually don't do breaking news, but this is important (and I'm home):

U.S. forces sealed off a house in the northern city of Mosul where eight suspected al-Qaida members died in a gunfight — some by their own hand to avoid capture. A U.S. official said Sunday that efforts were under way to determine if terror leader Abu Musab al-Zarqawi was among the dead.

This would be very good news.

But even if the top murderer in Iraq is not dead, the fact that his minions killed themselves is a good sign. Usually they want to take down infidels before they die. But this time they figured it was better to die than to risk capture trying to kill another infidel.

Morale can't be improving if they feel that hopeless.

UPDATE: Nothing new but in the last several weeks I noticed that several members of the Special Forces were killed in Iraq. I thought it was odd and didn't know what to make of it, but if they were on the trail of Zarqawi these casualties make more sense.

Marathon Man

The President got the ball rolling with a long-overdue attack on anti-war rewrites of recent history over the Iraq War debate nearly two weeks ago.

Now the President can afford to step back:

After fiercely defending his Iraq policy across Asia, President Bush abruptly toned down his attack on war critics Sunday and said there was nothing unpatriotic about opposing his strategy.

"People should feel comfortable about expressing their opinions about Iraq," Bush said, three days after agreeing with Vice President Dick Cheney that the critics were "reprehensible."

The president also praised Rep. John Murtha, D-Pa., as "a fine man" and a strong supporter of the military despite the congressman's call for troop withdrawal as soon as possible.

I have no problem with expressing differing opinions on the war. What I object to are the lies about the war that the anti-war side is peddling, and their efforts to make us lose this war.

As for Murtha, he has genuinely fought for our country, but past sacrifice and bravery do not immunize him from criticism that he is undermining our war effort and engaged in political pandering at the expense of our troops today. I honor his past as a Marine. I am disgusted by his present conduct. And though the President may honor Murtha, I disagree with the President that Murtha's position is based on careful and thoughtful analysis.

As I said, the President can check out of this debate and move on to the next stage: reminding Americans that we are winning. In our present debate, this is a crucial message to press home.

In 490 B.C., the Athenians went out to meet the invading Persians on the battlefield of Marathon. Unwilling to defend their city's walls because too many Athenians were ready to betray the city to the invaders, the army was sent to fight the enemy where the potential fifth column could not affect the fight. When the Athenians won on the battlefiled, they sent a runner back to the city--26.2 miles--to let the people know that Athens had won and so dishearten those who might have opened the gates to the enemy should the Persians reach Athens by sea before the army could return home.

Our President must now spread the word hidden by our press that we are winning, in order to defuse the impact of those calling for immediate retreat and effective surrender. I wish our politicians listened to our troops who know we are winning rather than the press that hopes we are losing. But they do not so the President must bolster the spines of our Congress and let our people know the true state of affairs in Iraq.

It would help to first refute the idea popular among many (but certainly not Represenative Murtha) that the enemy in Iraq constitutes a "resistance" to our presence. Most Iraqis hate the so-called resistance and know they are murderers. The enemy doesn't even fight in organized units and it has been close to a year since I can recall a platoon-sized enemy attack on our forces. They plant IEDs and send in suicide bombers, fire mortars, or sit in buildings out west as we come after them. They are terrorists despite what the press reports:

First, there is definitely a terrorism problem. Not an insurgency, not a guerilla war, not a resistance. A portion of the Sunni Arab population refuses to recognize the Sunni Arab loss of power in early 2003. They are supporting a campaign of terror to either get back power or, more pragmatically, to get immunity for most Sunni Arabs for crimes committed during Saddams decades in power. The majority of support the terrorists get is from the amnesty crowd. Hundreds of thousands of Sunni Arab families have one or more members who did Saddam's dirty work. That has left millions of Kurds and Shia Arabs looking for revenge. Remember, this is where the legal concept of "eye-for-an-eye" was invented thousands of years ago.

Second, we are winning against these well-armed and financed thugs:

For the military, the campaign in Iraq has been a success. The enemy, the Sunni Arabs, have been determined and resourceful. But the American strategy of holding the Sunni Arabs at bay, while the Kurds and Shia Arabs built a security force capable of dealing with the Sunni Arab terrorists, has worked. But that's good news, and thus not news.

We will win this war as long as we remain determined to win, even though our military fights against both an enemy and the press. Sadly, our press is the more formidable enemy than the terrorist thugs who cannot win barring a sudden retreat on our part. I'm glad our president jogs. He has a long road ahead of him to spread the word that we are winning in Iraq.

UPDATE: And for those of you who doubt that there are people here who would figuratively open the gates to the enemy, read this and this. But don't dare ever suggest they are unpatriotic.

World's Greatest Debilitated Body

Mark Steyn isn't impressed with the self-styled "world's greatest deliberative body." When the appearance of going as portrayed by our press got tough, the Senate urged us to get going out. Soon:

Last week, the Republican majority, to their disgrace and with 13 honorable exceptions, passed an amendment calling on the administration to lay out its "plan" for "ending" the war and withdrawing U.S. troops. They effectively signed on to the Democrat framing of the debate: that the only thing that matters is the so-called exit strategy. The only difference between Bill Frist's mushy Republicans and Harry Reid's shameless Democrats is that the latter want to put a firm date on withdrawal, so that Zarqawi's insurgents can schedule an especially big car bomb to coincide with the formal handover of the Great Satan's cojones.

Is it possible for the Senate to insist they don't know what our plan is? Perhaps this explains the more recent confusion of several members about why we went to war and what they knew about the case just a few years ago when they debated going to war.

Just to clue in the Senators, our plan is to fight the Baathists and jihadis in order to provide a shield to allow for economic recovery, political development, and the creation of Iraqi security forces to allow Iraqis to take over the fight.

If the good Senators would look at the economic progress, the successful voting in January and October of this year, and the growing Iraqi security forces that are taking over security duties in more of Iraq, they would see that we are carrying out our plan and are winning. Our Marines are leading the latest offensive in al Anbar province to atomize the last larger groups of the enemy so that Iraq forces can flow in behind us to continue the fight. In short, our plan calls for winning.

Our troops have the cojones to fight, die, and win in Iraq. It is sad to see the Senate willing to give up America's cojones when we have a plan and are winning against a depraved and evil enemy.

I know the cojones of most Senators are in blind trusts so they won't use them on the job; but really, leave the country's alone. Frist is a doctor, but I don't think he is qualified to perform a Briss.

UPDATE: Scott Ott reveals the White House strategy for Iraq as presented to Congress following their admission of ignorance:

The Bush administration sent the following message to Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, R-TN, with a request that it be distributed to all members of Congress.

United States Iraq Strategy
1. Kill terrorists.
2. Train Iraqi forces to kill terrorists.
3. Help Iraqis build schools and infrastructure.
4. Leave behind first democracy in Arab world.

The White House spokesman said an ‘executive summary’ of the strategy would be available later today for Senators who don’t have time to read the full document.

If I may be so bold as to suggest the executive summary, it should be:


Sadly, one goes to war with the Senate we have and not the Senate we wish to have.

Saturday, November 19, 2005

The Most Advanced Target Ever

We are working on new designs for an advanced aircraft carrier. The new CVN-21 will cost nearly $14 billion--twice the cost of the current carrier class:

As the successor to the 102,000 ton Nimitz/Theodore Roosevelt Class super-carriers, the CVN-21 program aims to increase aircraft sortie generation rates by 20%, increase survivability to better handle future threats, require fewer sailors, and have depot maintenance requirements that could support an increase of up to 25% in operational availability. The combination of a new design nuclear propulsion plant and an improved electric plant are expected to provide 2-3 times the electrical generation capacity of previous carriers, which in turn enables systems like an Electromagnetic Aircraft Launching System (EMALS, replacing steam-driven catapults), Advanced Arresting Gear, and a new integrated warfare system that will leverage advances in open systems architecture. Other CVN-21 features include an enhanced flight deck, improved weapons handling and aircraft servicing efficiency, and a flexible island arrangement allowing for future technology insertion.

I am skeptical that this is a wise investment. Carriers are great, but only if we face no enemies able to harness network-centric naval warfare.

As much as I respect what our carriers have accomplished in the past and even the very recent past; and even though I understand how they can be useful for decades to come, their usefulness will erode. I concluded in a recent post (based on work I did for an article that was purchased but not published about 6-8 years ago):

The emergence of network-centric warfare does not mean the near-term obsolescence of large aircraft carriers. They represent large investments and there is no need to simply retire them any time soon. The useful roles for these aircraft carriers will diminish in time, however, beginning with the forward presence role. As I noted, we've already altered our naval presence from rotating a couple carriers to forward location in favor of being able to surge a large number in a crisis. In a peacetime operating routine, aircraft carriers that sail in another nation's surveillance and strike network will be vulnerable to a bolt from the blue and may actually invite war rather than deter it. Only against enemies incapable of striking them--as was the case in both Afghanistan and Iraq--will carriers retain their power to inflict punishing destruction.

Our carriers may become the aging gunslingers relying on their reputation from the glory days. As strike platforms in the Navy's network, aircraft carriers will retain a role far decades to come, but even in this role they will face limits. The Navy will need to keep them far from the enemy, closing the range only to strike.

Carriers are the ultimate in platform-centric warfare--even with unmanned aerial combat vehicles. But network-centric warfare is our Navy's future. The gun-armed surface warship, dispersed physically but networked to mass effect at sea or against targets on land, will keep our Navy dominant as it has been for more than sixty years. I love our carriers and their historic exploits are thrilling. But we cannot hang on to them forever when new platforms for a new network are built.

I almost feel sorry for our potential enemies who try to match our carriers (at great expense) just as we supplant them.

Now our carriers will be just as big and will be twice as expensive. We need carriers, I think, but the huge ships we plan may be too big to survive in a network-centric battlespace and too expensive to risk losing. And they may be irrelevant to fighting anyway as surface combatants and submarines with networked missiles and long-range cannons create the ability to mass effect without the need to have the projecting assets massed on one platform. Smaller carriers able to deploy smaller numbers of manned plans plus unmanned aerial combat vehicles, and able to double as amphibious warfare platforms, may be more appropriate for a networked Navy.

I was too hasty in feeling sorry for our enemies.