Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Northern Command

Active and National Guard forces are moving to help Louisiana and Mississippi in the aftermath of Hurrican Katrina:

More than 11,000 Army and Air National Guard members and 7,200 active-duty troops, mostly Navy, are supporting hurricane relief operations along the Gulf Coast, and 10,000 more National Guard troops are expected to join the effort within the next 48 hours, Defense Department officials said today.

Our troops step up whether it is defeating our enemies or lending a helping hand to strangers around the globe or to neighbors. Mercenaries, indeed. Screw the people who look down on our military and wish for its defeat. These are America's best, bar none.

The images of people wading through water without any help in sight is as heart rending as the stories of looting shoes and stereos are infuriating. Certainly, the looters don't negate the need for compassion and speedy aid to those in trouble. Get our military and civilian agencies in fast. There's a lot to do and no time to lose.

Is it really possible that thousands have died in New Orleans alone? My God. My heart goes out to the people of Mississippi and Louisiana for this terrible loss. The Red Cross could use help.

And could the global warmers hold off on helpful press releases until after the dead are buried? Being wrong about hurricanes is bad enough, but do you have to be vulture-like to boot?

UPDATE: Note to the silly ones out there: Iraq and Afghanistan have not interfered with our ability to respond with troops to the hurricane. Unless somebody is seriously suggesting that the 207th Levee Repair Battalion of the Mississsippi Army National Guard has been busy restoring the marshes of southern Iraq for the last seven months.

Preparing to Fight the Last War

The faux armor crisis in Iraq was not an example of failing to plan for the post-war. We reacted pretty darned fast, in fact, and that is the real story. Indeed, despite our success in armoring our vehicles to help cope with the threat level, when the war is over we'll need to strip armor:

The fact of the matter is that no one expects another situation like Iraq. Don’t believe it? Check the historical record. For some pretty unique reasons, roadside bombs have been used more extensively in Iraq than in past wars.

Bombs and money all over the place inside Iraq fueled this tactic. So remember this, if in the years to come we up-armor everything on wheels as a lesson of this war, we will be preparing for the last war--and wearing out the heavier vehicles and failing to spend money where it is needed for the future threats.

End of Analysis

This analysis of the impact of the Iraq War is simply foolish:

In the immediate aftermath of the 9/11 attacks, Americans would have allowed President Bush to lead them in any of several directions, and the nation was prepared to accept substantial risks and sacrifices. The Bush administration asked for no sacrifices from the average American, but after the quick fall of the Taliban it rolled the dice in a big way by moving to solve a longstanding problem only tangentially related to the threat from Al Qaeda - Iraq. In the process, it squandered the overwhelming public mandate it had received after Sept. 11. At the same time, it alienated most of its close allies, many of whom have since engaged in "soft balancing" against American influence, and stirred up anti-Americanism in the Middle East.

What is Fukuyama talking about?

The sacrifice theme is one I hear again and again; and I don't get it. Casualties are not a sacrifice? Budget deficits are not a sacrifice? Higher gasoline and energy prices are not a sacrifice? Isn't tighter security a sacrifice? Oh, right, only higher federal taxes count as a sacrifice for these people.

In a long struggle that will only occasionally involve large numbers of troops fighting and dying, we want to minimize sacrifice to maintain support. The Cold War was supported over the long haul because we did not overly stress the public. Neither the current war nor the Cold War were conventional conflicts where you could ramp up the troops, collect tin cans and coins from children, drive on the enemy capital and then go home after demobilizing most of the troops. This is an ideological struggle that we can lose if we exhaust ourselves, expecting a quick resolution.

Fukuyama's assertion about Iraq having only a tangential relationship with al Qaeda underestimates the links to al Qaeda specifically, ignores more general support for terrorists, and misreads the lesson of 9-11 that hatred for us will lead our enemies to kill us in as large numbers as possible. Only the means have been limited. If Iraq was allowed to get nuclear weapons, the threat of terrrorists getting nukes from them was too great a threat to risk. The threat of Iraq using such weapons was too great. And the ability of Iraq to carry out non-nuclear terrorism or conventional aggression behind a shield of nuclear weapons was too horrifying a thought to allow.

As for squandering the public mandate, taking on Iraq was not the cause. The public clearly supported taking out Saddam prior to the war. Time, the failure of the administration to consistently bolster the war effort, harping criticism that is not done for constructive purposes but for partisan gain, and a press that is biased and ignorant enough to paint a picture of a country expoding on a daily basis have reduced positive support for the war. And a majority still opposes a rapid withdrawal in defeat.

And what close allies have abandoned us? Belgium? France? Germany? You have to squint awfully hard to call them pre-9/11 close allies. Britain stands with us as does Australia and Japan as well as other countries in smaller numbers (such as the Netherlands and Denmark and El Salvador). And we've added India as a budding ally. Even South Korea has troops with us in Iraq. And of course, we have created Iraq as an ally that will increasingly fight inside Iraq and when that fight is won, support us in the region against the forces that try to destroy Iraq today.

My most serious question revolves around whether he is freaking serious to claim that the Iraq War stirred up anti-Americanism in the Middle East? September 11, East Africa, The Cole, Khobar Towers, Mogadishu, Beirut, the Hostage Crisis, and countless other smaller events show that anti-Americanism was going strong under the prior strategy. And with Libya, Lebanon, Iraq, Afghanistan, and even Egypt moving in positive directions (and with polling showing progress in attitudes generally), it is sheer idiocy to argue that we've made things worse by fighting back against the forces of terror.

Finally, given the whole criticism of the war he lays out, you'd think he'd at least give the President credit for taking a risk to secure our safety. Fukuyama argues our public was ready for risk after 9-11. Ultimately, however, I think it was too risky to keep doing what we were doing--calls to have done it better notwithstanding.

The history we are writing today requires better analysis than this piece of work. Because history will continue with or without us.

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Four Years Lost

The Taiwanese finally approved an arms package first offered by the U. S. government in 2001:

August 25, 2005: After years of haggling and debate, Taiwan's legislature approved $15 billion of arms purchases from the United States. The package includes eight diesel-electric submarines, submarine-hunting P-3C aircraft and anti-missile missiles (PAC-3 Patriot anti-missile systems).

About damn time. I have to wonder if the recent Chinese-Russian exercises didn't have a good effect on Taiwan's legislators.

The Taiwanese have only two reasonably modern submarines and need more to threaten Chinese invasion forces. I wonder who we have lined up to supply them since we don't build diesel electrics any more. If Taiwan has a credible submarine force that uses weapons that we use, we can use our submarines against the Chinese with the ability to deny we are shooting if we have to in early stages of a conflict.

The Taiwanese also need the Patriots to keep airfields and ports secure for US supply ships and any US reinforcements to arrive. They can also protect Taiwanes forces using those fields and ports.

The Orions can hunt Chinese subs to keep the Chinese from blockading Taiwan's ports.

All of these weapons are crucial to counter China's growing capabilities in the Taiwan Strait.

The question is will Taiwan absorb these weapons in time to either scare the Chinese off or, failing deterrence, beat the Chinese off long enough for America and Japan to intervene?

The Taiwanese lost four crucial years of preparation. I hope the delay won't prove fatal.

Enemies of the State

The Iraqi government should be able to exploit the jihadi invasion of Iraq by rallying all Iraqis--including Sunnis--to repel this attempt to conquer Iraq for the Islamic caliphate that bin Laden dreams of creating. In western Iraq, US warplanes supported Sunnis in a battle against Zarqawi's thugs:

U.S. warplanes bombed alleged safe houses of Abu Musab Zarqawi's fighters near the Syrian border Tuesday in one of the strongest uses of air power in months, backing what leaders of one Sunni Arab tribe described as an unprecedented tribal push to drive out Zarqawi's forces.

Neither U.S. nor Iraqi officials gave death tolls. An emergency-room director, Dr. Ali Rawi, in the largest nearby city, Qaim, said at least 56 people were killed in Tuesday's air strikes and fighting, the majority of them apparently followers of Zarqawi.

American forces, probably special forces, must be with the Sunn tribe to call in the air power. So this is more than just "red on red" battles that we've seen in the past where we watched Sunnis battle jihadis. This represents cooperation between the US and Sunnis to fight the jihadis.

This shows why the Syrian effort to support suicide bombers in Iraq is doomed to failure. It just angers the Shias, Kurds, and even the Sunnis in growing numbers. As Iraqi forces nail down the interior of Iraq and increase the relatively safe areas, US forces are freed to move west toward the Syrian border to hit the enemy and disrupt enemy efforts to reach the population centers.

In the east, that two-time insurrectionist Moqtada Sadr is causing trouble again:

After a clash Wednesday night in Najaf that they blamed on a rival Shiite militia, Sadr's armed followers poured into Baghdad and at least six other cities. Twenty-one members of parliament and three cabinet ministers loyal to him suspended their work in protest. Two days later, Sadr's followers organized some of the biggest demonstrations in recent years; ostensibly protests over government services, they were effectively shows of strength.

Sunni Baathist enemies of the government are happy to work with Sadr in order to gain the numbers they need to regain power. Again and again I've asked why that SOB Sadr is still alive and walking free. Who believes he has given up violence? Who believes he won't try violence again? Who thinks he hasn't learned some lessons from two failed attempts that might help him cause real trouble for us? Like makeing sure that an important mosque blows up with Americans nearby in order to blame us? And who thinks Iran won't try to use that idiot Sadr for their own purposes?

I am seriously getting angry that we are foolish enough to let Sadr run free to cause problems. As we grind down the jihadis and their Baathist buddies are we going to let Sadr start a new revolt in the Shia regions backed by poor supporters of the last two efforts?

No more Sadr do overs. Enemies of the state should be dealt with ruthlessly. And permanently.

Monday, August 29, 2005

Pandora's Wells

Africa seems doomed to failure. AIDS, weak governments, despotism, jihadis, Mugabe, and tribalism lead to famines, genocide, diesease, and poverty at levels that just exhaust the compassion of the West.

And even when some countries have what one would think is a bonanza of oil when oil sells for $70 per barrel, the money just makes things worse.

I can't even imagine the path out of this death spiral for an entire continent. Occasional bright spots in the end seem to be overwhelmed by the surrounding disasters that masquerade as governments.

Truly, it is sad. I have no clue about what we can do about it.

Storm Warning

Iran is poised to continue its pursuit of nuclear missiles after stringing the Euros along for a few years of negotiations that have solved nothing and simply provided the Iranians some cover to push their nuke programs along. So I guess from the mullahs' perspective they have gone quite well.

Well at least President Chirac is keeping a sense of humor about the whole mess:

"We call on Iran's spirit of responsibility to re-establish cooperation and confidence, without which the (U.N.) Security Council will have no choice but to take up the question," Chirac told France's ambassadors brought home for an annual conference.

Iran's famous "spirit of cooperation" eh? Clearly France's ambassadors have much to learn at the feet of the master.

I've noted that our Strategic Petroleum Reserve will be full this month. With temperate weather on tap for several months, the Euro efforts failing obviously despite Chirac's obviously sincere efforts to appeal to the better nature of the mullahs, and our oil reserves full, this seems like the right time for a Bush administration that I assume is serious about ending the threat of Iran--a charter Axis of Evil member--to actively do something to prevent Iran from getting nuclear weapons.

So having an excuse to tap the SPR without raising suspicions about why we are doing so would be a good idea:

Administration officials, speaking on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak publicly, said Bush seemed likely to authorize a loan of some oil from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve but that details remained in flux.

Once the oil starts flowing out, we could keep it flowing as we seek to change the Iranian regime, providing a buffer until the operation is over and things settle down.

We've had four years since 9-11 and several years since the Axis of Evil speech to plan for how we will overthrow the Iranian mullahs. I will be massively disappointed if this administration doesn't take the Iranian threat seriously.

Regime change in Tehran. Soon.

So Just How Stupid Are Iraq's Sunnis?

Mark Steyn is unworried about the panicfest that our media and Iraq War "skeptics" are engaging in over the Iraq proposed constitution:

The Shia get an acknowledgment that Islam is "the official religion of the state," just as the Church of England is the official church of that state -- though, unlike the Anglican bishops, Iraq's imams won't get permanent seats in the national legislature.

The Kurds get a loose federal structure in which just about everything except national defense and foreign policy is reserved to regions and provinces. I said in the week after Baghdad fell that the Kurds would settle for being Quebec to Iraq's Canada, and so they have.

The Sunnis, who ran Iraq from their days as Britain's colonial managing class right up to the toppling of Saddam, don't like the federal structure, not least because it's the Kurds and Shia who have the bulk of the oil. So they've been wooed with an arrangement whereby the country's oil revenue will be divided at a national level on a per-capita basis.

If you'd been asked in 2003 to devise an ideal constitution for Iraq's very non-ideal circumstances, it would look something like this: a highly decentralized federation that accepts the reality that Iraq is a Muslim nation but reserves political power for elected legislators -- and divides the oil revenue fairly.

I'm not as easy going he is over the prospect of an Iraq that is divided up by ethnicity and religion:

And if it doesn't work? Well, that's what the Sunnis are twitchy about. If Baathist dead-enders and imported Islamonuts from Saudi and Syria want to make Iraq ungovernable, the country will dissolve into a democratic Kurdistan, a democratic Shiastan, and a moribund Sunni squat in the middle. And, in the grander scheme of things, that wouldn't be so terrible either.

I don't want the Iraqi Sunnis to have their own country. I think it would be quite terrible. It won't just stay an oil-free, poor state that wallows in its own misery. I don't think the Sunnis in the wider Arab world would let a central Sunni Anbaristan flounder. Money and jihadis would flow in and we'd have another pre-2001 Afghanistan on our hands. Oh, no, we can't trust the Iraqi Baathist Sunnis with their own country--not even a truncated one. We need the Shias and Kurds to place limits on the Sunnis until they come to their senses.

The Sunnis are still in denial over their defeat and will have a big decision to make about this constitution:

The Jan. 30 boycott was widely perceived by Sunnis as a disaster, handing control of the 275-member National Assembly to Shiites and Kurds. The Shiite-Kurd alliance then pushed through demands for federated mini-states and set the legal foundation for purging thousands of Sunni Arabs from government jobs because of past membership in Saddam's Baath Party.

Instead, Sunni Arabs are urging followers to register by the Thursday deadline and reject the constitution in the referendum. Voter registration in the Sunni stronghold of Anbar province was extended for a week so more people could sign up.

The very Sunni clerics who railed last January against an election "under foreign military occupation" are now urging their people to take part in both the referendum and the parliamentary balloting in December.

Rejection of the charter would mean elections in December for a new parliament under the rules of the interim constitution approved in March 2004 and still in effect. The new parliament would start the entire process of drafting a constitution from scratch.

Even with a new Parliament, the Shias and Kurds could draft a new constitution through without the Sunnis. Then the Sunnis will have to choose again. Personally, I think the Shias and Kurds might be less likely to accomodate the Sunnis after the Sunnis torpedo this constitution and continue to fight the government. The Iraqi government could just screw the constitutional niceties and go postal on the Sunnis as is the time-honored method of dealing with the losing side in wars.

The Sunnis need to be part of a single Iraq--whether voluntarily or through coercion. The Sunnis have a chance to approve a good constitution that refrains from seeking revenge against the Sunnis for four centuries of dominance and three decades of Saddam's savagery. The Sunnis have chosen poorly thus far. Can they learn from their recent disasters?

Sunday, August 28, 2005

Dueling Idiots

Uncomfortable with another reverend spouting idiocy, Reverend Jesse Jackson has fired up the siren and raced to the scene of the accident to make sure the cameras don't leave him out of the news cycle:

In a speech to Venezuela's National Assembly, Jackson said every country has a right to self-determination, and touched on subjects from poverty to Martin Luther King Jr.'s role in the civil rights struggle of American blacks.

"Though our histories are burdensome with pain and often bitter memories, we must have the strength to get ahead and not just get even," Jackson said to a rousing applause from Venezuelan lawmakers.

Jackson later met and shook hands with Chavez during the Venezuelan leader's weekly radio and television program.

"Reverend Jackson, you can be sure that we will continue fighting for the ideas of Martin Luther King, for Christ the Redeemer's idea of loving one another and building a society of equals through our peaceful and democratic revolution," said Chavez.

Sure, Pat Robertson's call to kill Chavez was ill considered. But how do you define the idiocy and morality by comparison of a man who would travel to Venezuela to give comfort to an actual vote-rigging tinpot dictator? In a struggle between deciding whether Robertson's vision of a Venezuela free of Chavez is better or worse than a Venezuela where Chavez is free to build his society of whatever, I gotta go with Robertson.

Jesse Jackson is simply a vile ambulance chaser who is happy to give comfort to the vilest of human rights violators and I have no use for him.

The Sunni Choice

I've read a lot of hand wringing over the failure of Sunni leaders to back the proposed constitution. Frankly, I don't give a flying fig about 99% of the Sunni objections. They still think they should run Iraq and still don't believe the Shias and Kurds deserve to run things. Shoot, a lot don't think Sunnis are the minority in Iraq. So many of their complaints reflect their refusal to accept reality. There is only so much that the Kurds and Shias should be expected to bend to a still defiant minority.

So the Sunni population will have a choice to make in the election to decide on the draft constitution:

Bush dismissed the constitution's rejection by 15 members of the Sunni negotiating team as the opinion of a few.

"There are strong beliefs among other Sunnis that this constitution is good for all Iraqis, and that it adequately reflects compromises suitable to all groups," he said.

The Sunni people already realize they made an error boycotting the January elections. I hope the Sunnis don't repeat this mistake by shunning the best constitution in the Arab world backed by the determination of the United States to help them succeed in building a democracy.

But if the Sunnis won't do what makes sense, the Shias and Kurds will eventually destroy the Sunni resistance the old fashioned way. Either way the Sunnis will lose power. But by embracing democracy, they at least have a chance of retaining influence.

Payback is a bitch, Sunnis. Don't give the Shias and Kurds the excuse a lot of them wouldn't mind having to rip apart the Sunni Iraqis for four centuries of abuse and exploitation.

Horses and Carts and the Proper Ordering Thereof

This article slams the US for failing to equip the Iraqi army for major combat operations. The Iraqis want better armor, artillery, helicopters, and logistics capabilities. We aren't providing these yet in large numbers:

EVEN though President Bush keeps saying American forces won't leave Iraq until its forces can fight on their own, the United States isn't rushing to give the Iraqi military heavy weapons.

The author's point is clear. We can't get out because we won't equip the Iraqis out of fear the weapons will be used against us. This provides a convenient excuse not to to leave Iraq.

While there is perhaps a little truth to the worry that weapons could be used against us, the main problem is that the Iraqis simply don't need heavy units able to fight invading armies. If we can't handle that right now, the Iraqis sure as heck can't. And while we deter foreign invaders, the Iraqis need good light infantry to defeat the Baathists and jihadis. Mechanized forces are not the best units for the Iraqis to focus on building. We can supply these units since we have them already and they are excellent. Our troops may pull out of the day-to-day fight in time but they will be in Iraq to shield Iraq from invasion until we do build an Iraqi military along conventional lines:

At the same time, the Americans are building at least four semi-permanent military bases that could hold 18,000 troops each. These are usually described as way stations on the eventual route home for the Americans, places where they will stay while ever-more-capable Iraqi troops engage the insurgents on their own. But that will clearly take time. Gen. George W. Casey Jr., the top military commander in Iraq, when asked this month about how the bases would be used, dismissed the question: "You're talking years away." And if Iraq's politics remain unstable, the bases could offer a continuing rationale for not providing heavier weaponry, since the Americans would still be close by for the Iraqis to rely on.

The idea that we are undermining the ability of the Iraqis to fight in order to keep an excuse to stay in Iraq is ludicrous. Indeed, one mistake of ours after the fall of Baghdad in 2003 was our initial plan to create a 40,000 strong Iraqi army corps that would be the cadre for a regular military rebuilt from the ruins of Saddam's force. We assumed no domestic troubles. When the insurgency got rolling, we needed to scrap that plan in favor of a plan to get light infantry into the fight quickly. We did this with the Iraqi National Guard units that are now part of the army.

So keep in mind this quote from an unnamed American officer in the article and trust that it means you can ignore the thrust of the rest:

"We're trying to build an army to fight the current fight," one American officer said when asked about the Iraqi complaints. "It's too early to start talking about M1A1 tanks, and they don't need helicopters when they have American military support."

And for Pete's sake, the Iraqis hardly need up-to-date anti-tank weapons right now. Unless I missed the news about the Zarqawi mechanized brigade.

Get a grip, people. The Iraqis will eventually have the best equipped and best trained Arab army to ever take the field due to our efforts. But right now they don't need what we already provide and should focus on defeating the insurgency rather than poorly duplicating our forces while failing to provide what we can't. If we were trying to make a carbon copy of our military when the threat is from irregulars and terrorists, I don't have to imagine very hard about the Vietnam comparisons that our press would make. But we aren't, so the press has to pretend there is a crisis or conspiracy or something bad going on.

No conspiracy. We're just doing what makes sense.

Red Storm Writhing

The Russian navy is carrying out exercises (thanks to Joseph H. for the tip). Elements of their Northern and Baltic fleets are taking part. This should just be embarrassing for the Russians:

They will practice missile, artillery and torpedo shooting and will have to locate and destroy a mock convoy, Igor Dygalo said.

Dygalo said the Northern Fleet's heavy aircraft carrier Admiral Kuznetsov, the heavy nuclear missile cruiser Pyotr Veliky, the anti-submarine warfare ship Admiral Chabanenko, the Ushakov destroyer, the Altai towboat and the Osipov tanker would participate in the drills.

The Baltic Fleet will send its patrol ships, Neustrashimy and Pylky, and the Olekma tanker.

Convoy attacks? Are the Russians serious? Just what is the point of this training? Back when the Northern Fleet was a potent strike force and Soviet-led communist armies were poised to invade West Germany, it made sense for the Soviet fleet to practice attacking convoys since American convoys rushing ammunition and weapons to NATO were crucial to winning the land war if Moscow had lunged west.

But what exactly is the point when the Russian army would have trouble knocking off Belorussia let alone reaching the Rhine? Or are the Russians seriously thinking that NATO will invade mother Russia so they need to choke off our reinforcements?

Sounds more like a bit of nostalgia on the part of Russian admirals for the glory days when their navy was a potent force that required a major Western effort to confront.

Russian ships put to sea infrequently enough that an exercise should try to replicate what they might have to face. This is just embarrasing.

Or is it possible this is tied to the Chinese-Russian exercises recently wrapped up in China that practiced invading Taiwan? Perhaps the convoys are supposed to be American ships reinforcing Taiwan in the face of a Chinese invasion. Perhaps the Russians are showing the Chinese how they'd do it with Russian weapons. Perhaps the Far Eastern fleet is too ill-maintained to put on the show. Or perhaps the Russians wanted ships far from Taiwan to carry out the demonstration to keep it from being obvious.

Ok, I'm not snickering now. Putin's Russia is seriously annoying me. Either they are nostalgic for the days when they were a threat to us or they are still essentially urging the Chinese to tangle with America. Come on Secretary Rice, you were a Soviet expert. Calm Moscow down and get them thinking straight.

Saturday, August 27, 2005

I'm Just Not That Lucky

Axis of El Vil charter member Hugo Chavez is indignant that Pat Robertson called for his assassination. Much like our press, Hugo assumes Robertson is an agent of President Bush:

"If something happens to me, the responsible one will be George W. Bush," said Chavez, who has repeatedly accused the Bush administration of plotting to overthrow him.

The United States has repeatedly denied having any intentions to try to topple Chavez or harm him.

First, I have little use for Roberston.

Second, if Chavez was hit by a bus tomorrow I would not work up a single tear of sorrow.

Third, if I found out the next day that the CIA hired the bus driver, the tears still would not flow and I could not work up any outrage.

Fourth, given the amount of spittle that Hugo spews claiming we are trying to off his sorry regime, I wish we actually were trying to topple his regime.

Fifth, and I say this with regret, as long as assassination is illegal I cannot join in Robertson's call to kill Chavez.

But sixth, I still couldn't work up a tear or any outrage if we did it anyway. Certainly, any official of the US government involved in such a crime should be punished. Say a month's suspension with pay. That punishment would fit the crime, don't you think?

Now let's get back to shark attacks, dead blonde white women, and other important news matters. We've spent enough time covering Hugo's outrage.

Just Pissing Them Off

Often, we are told that the jihadis are just mad about Iraq, or some specific grievance based on American foreign policy, and that if only we didn't piss them off they wouldn't fly planes into our buildings or behead our people or blow up trains and subways.

So when the jihadis themselves don't go along with the West's Leftist script, it must be unsettling to the Leftists. What to make of the e-book that contains the latest jihadi hatefest:

The book, filled with calls for violence and hate for all but "true Muslims" -- a group that it says does not include Shiites -- surfaced on an Islamic Web site this week.

In case you want to be really dense, the jihadis clarify:

It calls the Shiite faith "a confession of polytheism and rejectionism."

And don't think that just because you are Sunni you are safe:

The group says its "doctrine and mission are clear and they can be summarized as our agreement to believe in and fight for the religion of God. We believe that those who follow these beliefs and the provisions of faith are true Muslims and anyone who denounces any of these beliefs and conditions is an infidel even if he still claims to be a Muslim."

Or this:

The e-book includes numerous sections totaling dozens of pages, covering such topics as how the Quran justifies beheadings and why democracy is wrong.

Well. Of course Western democracies are bad. But so too are Shias. Now we're cutting into Islamic populations. And of course even Sunnis who don't believe what the jihadis believe are bad as well. We're getting into pretty large numbers here. The article didn't mention them but I think we can safely assume the Jews are in the bad list, too. Oh, and don't forget Hindus. I assume that if most Sunnis are targets that Hindus are too. Quakers and Mormons aren't mentioned but the jihadis may not be aware of them yet. Just an oversight I'm sure.

Westerners with healthy guilt complexes for our wealth need to end the silly notion that any particular grievance can be corrected by our actions. The grievances the enemy cites are mere excuses to kill. Solve one and there will be another to take its place. Solve that and another pops up. If even Sunnis who don't like to behead and who want democracy are enemies of the jihadis, what hope do we have of getting on their good side?

Just kill them where we find them and don't lose any sleep over it. This is a fight to the death and our enemies aren't shy about proclaiming this belief even though they are but a tiny minority of Islam:

The document warns there will be no end to the insurgency. "The call for jihad goes on until doomsday, whether there is an imam calling for it or not."

I truly am amazed about the ridiculous crimes that piss off our enemies. And I'm amazed at the refusal of many in the West to be angry regardless of what our enemies do. The reservoir of understanding that the Western Leftist has seems to be infinite.

It's about time we all got pissed off about what they do and over what they want to do to us. Don't you think?

A Good War

Christopher Hitchens writes a good defense of the Iraq War. In the debate that will not end, it helps to go over the good reasons to overthrow Saddam's dangerous and bloody regime:

It had invaded its neighbors, committed genocide on its own soil, harbored and nurtured international thugs and killers, and flouted every provision of the Non-Proliferation Treaty. The United Nations, in this crisis, faced with regular insult to its own resolutions and its own character, had managed to set up a system of sanctions-based mutual corruption. In May 2003, had things gone on as they had been going, Saddam Hussein would have been due to fill Iraq's slot as chair of the U.N. Conference on Disarmament. Meanwhile, every species of gangster from the hero of the Achille Lauro hijacking to Abu Musab al Zarqawi was finding hospitality under Saddam's crumbling roof.

One might have thought, therefore, that Bush and Blair's decision to put an end at last to this intolerable state of affairs would be hailed, not just as a belated vindication of long-ignored U.N. resolutions but as some corrective to the decade of shame and inaction that had just passed in Bosnia and Rwanda. But such is not the case. An apparent consensus exists, among millions of people in Europe and America, that the whole operation for the demilitarization of Iraq, and the salvage of its traumatized society, was at best a false pretense and at worst an unprovoked aggression. How can this possibly be?

And the war has achieved much:

(1) The overthrow of Talibanism and Baathism, and the exposure of many highly suggestive links between the two elements of this Hitler-Stalin pact. Abu Musab al Zarqawi, who moved from Afghanistan to Iraq before the coalition intervention, has even gone to the trouble of naming his organization al Qaeda in Mesopotamia.

(2) The subsequent capitulation of Qaddafi's Libya in point of weapons of mass destruction--a capitulation that was offered not to Kofi Annan or the E.U. but to Blair and Bush.

(3) The consequent unmasking of the A.Q. Khan network for the illicit transfer of nuclear technology to Libya, Iran, and North Korea.

(4) The agreement by the United Nations that its own reform is necessary and overdue, and the unmasking of a quasi-criminal network within its elite.

(5) The craven admission by President Chirac and Chancellor Schröder, when confronted with irrefutable evidence of cheating and concealment, respecting solemn treaties, on the part of Iran, that not even this will alter their commitment to neutralism. (One had already suspected as much in the Iraqi case.)

(6) The ability to certify Iraq as actually disarmed, rather than accept the word of a psychopathic autocrat.

(7) The immense gains made by the largest stateless minority in the region--the Kurds--and the spread of this example to other states.

(8) The related encouragement of democratic and civil society movements in Egypt, Syria, and most notably Lebanon, which has regained a version of its autonomy.

(9) The violent and ignominious death of thousands of bin Ladenist infiltrators into Iraq and Afghanistan, and the real prospect of greatly enlarging this number.

(10) The training and hardening of many thousands of American servicemen and women in a battle against the forces of nihilism and absolutism, which training and hardening will surely be of great use in future combat.

One wishes the administration would hammer these reasons and achievements every day.

The President has called for patience, and has pointed out that Iraq will be a friend, an ally, and an asset for the broader war:

"Iraqis are working together to build a free nation that contributes to peace and stability in the region, and we will help them succeed," Bush said in his weekly radio address.

This is an important point not in Hitchens' list of achievements. Though to be fair it is an achievement that is being made even now. As the Iraqi government forms, builds security forces, and drafts a constitution, it will take the lead in helping us fight the enemy jihadis that have invaded Iraq. And it will be an asset to pressure or defeat Syria or Iran. This war absorbs our strength now, but in time the war will create additional power to augment our power.

You think I overstate this? Well look at one country that we helped in a difficult war against insurgents supported by outsiders. El Salvador has stood with us steadfastly in Iraq for two years now:

Since August 2003, El Salvador's government has been one of the staunchest U.S. allies, sending five missions that included health, construction, communications and security experts — some of whom have drawn on experience from El Salvador's 12-year civil war.

Think of that. In gratitude for help in the 1980s, El Salvador has sent a contingent around the world to Iraq to help us.

Who knows what help a free Iraq will give us in the future? I don't know, but I am confident that Iraq will be a useful ally, grateful for our help in freeing themselves from a bloody despot intent on achieving glory through the blood of Iraqis in wars of aggression. So have patience. We have accomplished much and will achieve even greater things because of Operation Iraqi Freedom.

I know I'm proud of this war.

Tick, Tick, Tick

We're just playing for time in the Far East.

The Chinese are moving into Russia's Far East and the changing demographics will one day endanger Russia's control of the region:

"Russia has 30 to 40 years to become an equal partner with China in Asia. ... If Russia doesn't, then China could start to have territorial pretensions," said Mikhail Shinkovskiy, director of the Institute of International Relations and Social Technologies at Vladivostok State University of Economics and Science.

Russia seized the Far East from China in the 1800s, back when Russian imperial ambitions were at their height and China was a weak country that could be pushed around. Now, the tables are turned. China's military is seeking to broaden its influence while Russian forces deteriorate to a shadow of their former Soviet might.

After years of hostility and a 1969 border war between China and the Soviet Union, Beijing and Moscow are now "strategic partners" who last year signed a treaty resolving disputes about how to draw their 2,700-mile-long frontier.

The Russians hope they are buying time by kowtowing to China in order to recover from the collapse of the Soviet Union. And if China and America get into a shooting war, from Russia's point of view, two more powerful nations just shoot each other up and Russia's relative power goes up. I'm sure Moscow hopes the Chinese hit Japan just in case, as long as they're fighting America.

The Russians best hope that they can use the decades ahead to beef up their Far East in order to repel the soft invasion they are experiencing; and they'd best hope that the Chinese don't suck Russia dry of any useful technology before then. Russia's strategy goes all to Hell if the Chinese decide that they have use for nothing but raw materials from Russia and that those resources really belong to China.

One thing I doubt is whether there will be any partnership involved when Russia recovers. Russia was once dominant and in time China resented the dominance, leading to a break. Now China is dominant and I doubt if Russia will accept junior status any longer than they have to. Will China want equality? I doubt it. Will Russia? Maybe. It depends on what kind of country Russia is when they regain their power footing.

This has a lesson for us as well, of course. While we should resist Chinese efforts to push their frontiers out into the Pacific, we must do all we can to keep such a containment policy from breaking out into hot war. In time, Russia will be a threat to China that China will not be able to ignore and China will find that it has a navy that it cannot maintain due to the need to build up their army and air force to confront Russia. China will have the classic problem of a land power trying to be both a land power and a sea power. In time, their sea power will atrophy.

The rise of India and a growing US-Indian alliance will also tend to draw off Chinese strength from confronting us but that's another story.

The recovery of Russia to balance China also means we must engage Russia to move them away from the autocracy that Putin seems determined to create, riding on high oil prices. Russia must not rely on oil exports for economic health, so we must encourage a free Russia whose economy grows outside the oil sector. If Russia does get strong enough to worry China, I want Russia to be appealing enough politically for the West to support. I want Russia to be democratic enough to recoil from alliance with a despotic China.

This assumes China remains a unified and despotic communist-run state, of course.

Still, the rise of China is neither guaranteed nor will it take place in a strategic vacuum. I've said it before and I'll say it again: I wouldn't trade places with China for all the tea in--well, you get the idea.

UPDATE: Arthur K. emails "The question is more IF Russia recovers. Their demographics stink" Good point. Russia is quite literally sick and depopulating. I guess I find it hard to believe that a Russia that recovers economically won't halt this demographic slide before it is too late. If they can't, I suppose the possibility of Russia retreating west of the Urals and ceasing to be a Pacific power can't be ruled out. Russia sold us Alaska when they figured they couldn't hold it. Will they sell bits of their Far East to Japan to keep it from China? Or to a unified Korea that I assume will one day exist? Just how much of Russia in Asia could Moscow hold if people don't want to live there? I mean without resorting to nukes?

Friday, August 26, 2005

Red Crosshair

The Italian Red Cross made a deal with Iraqi terrorists to treat wounded terrorists in exchange for the release of Italian hostages:

"The mediators asked us to save the lives of four alleged terrorists wanted by the Americans who were wounded in combat," Scelli was quoted as saying. "We hid them and brought them to Red Cross doctors, who operated on them."

They took the wounded insurgents to a Baghdad hospital in a jeep and an ambulance, smuggling them through two U.S. checkpoints under blankets and boxes of medicines, Scelli said.

The Italian Red Cross just condemned Red Cross employees and volunteers to work in the crosshairs of the enemy. And of our forces, too, for that matter.

Think of what the Red Cross did. They used the Red Cross symbol to carry unlawful combatants through US checkpoints where American soldiers schooled in international law let the symbol of neutrality through. Now American soldiers know that the Red Cross symbol can hide wounded enemy terrorists. Why would they be wrong to wonder if an ambulance carried live terrorists? Or bombs? Or weapons? Keep that in mind when an incident happens and a Red Cross vehicle is fired on by our side. Keep this in mind if the Red Cross complains that we search them thoroughly and delay their work.

And consider what it tells our enemy. Now they know for sure that the Red Cross isn't really neutral. If the Red Cross will do this for us,they will reason, what are they doing for the Americans or Iraqi government? So the enemy will feel free to use ambulances secure in the knowledge that we do it too. The enemy will shoot at Red Cross vehicles and employees, knowing the Red Cross is no neutral force.

The Red Cross is now just a symbol of another group that takes sides in conflicts and which may work for you or against you. Red Cross workers will die because of this short-sighted move.

The Red Cross is an aim point now, conveniently painted on hostile vehicles.

Thursday, August 25, 2005

A Republic, If They Can Recognize It

David Brooks offers some assurances that the cries of despair over Iraq's proposed constitution are misplaced:

This constitution gives each group what it wants. It will create a very loose federation in which only things like fiscal and foreign policy are controlled in the center (even tax policy is decentralized). Oil revenues are supposed to be distributed on a per capita basis, and no group will feel inordinately oppressed by the others.

The Kurds and Shiites understand what a good deal this is. The Sunni leaders selected to attend the convention are howling because they are former Baathists who dream of a return to centralized power. But ordinary Sunnis, Galbraith says, will come to realize this deal protects them, too.

The yowls of protest from the Left over the proposed Iraqi constitution contrast (via Instapundit) with the admiration for the nearly identical Afghanistan constitition provisions regarding Islam and the state. Further, for a group that likes to avoid any offense against Islam (such as noting that terrorists spout Koranic verses to justify mass murder), you'd think the Left would welcome inclusion of the Religion of Peace in the Iraqi constitution. Their howls might be a bloody giveaway for their blatant Islamophobia, or something. Eh?

And keep in mind that the people working for the New York and LA Times also think that America is a fundamentalist Christian nation. So you never know what will tick them off.

So chill out. I wouldn't want to live under that constitution, but it is a major improvement over what they had before. And as Michael Barone notes, real democracies have provisions we would find odd yet these countries remain democracies. And as in many things, the key will be how Iraqis practice their new government. The Sunnis need to get with the program and ditch their Baathist masters who would dump the new constitution for fear of never regaining their bloody privileges.

Iraqis have a republic, as was noted once before in different circumstances, if they can keep it. Will the press recognize it?

Good Question

In the past, I've asked why we allow accused murderer and two-time insurrectionist Muqtada al Sadr to live free (here, here, and here). We beat him when he rose up in April 2004 and again in August 2004. Why are we (US and Iraqis) letting him get ready for round three? He should be tried and executed for his crimes. This article, noting Sadr's role in the murder of Steven Vincent, wonders:

I have never yet heard a satisfactory explanation for leaving this thug free to incite terror and chaos. Does anyone seriously believe Sadr has somehow become one of the good guys? Paul Bremer vowed Sadr would be captured. Several warrants have been issued for his arrest, yet he still preaches and plots with impunity. If there was some misplaced hope that the Sadr problem would be taken care of by Iraqi police, as we naively hoped would happen at Fallujah, those hopes have been dashed by Vincent’s death.

Iran may yet try to win in Iraq as the Syrian effort to support the Baathists and jihadis falters. If the mullahs in Tehran try to pull off their own Battle of the Bulge, Sadr will be their tool.

I ask again, why is Muqtada al-Sadr still alive? He's still causing trouble for us, you know.

Middling Kingdom

I've noted before that some would have us pre-emptively surrender to a rising China rather than confront a rising China that chooses to be a threat rather than a friend.

If China wants peaceful friendship I'm all for it. But if China seeks confrontation, we cannot run.

Most important, however, is that though I think China is a potential near-term threat, I do not subscribe to the idea that China will rise to global power status.

So this article (via Real Clear Politics) on the obstacles to rising is a welcome read:

Demographic trends, internal migration and uncontrolled urban development, plus megalomaniac, environmentally disastrous infrastructure projects, all threaten sound development.

The scenario of China as future superpower also assumes continuing political stability, which is questionable in the light of popular unrest and the rivalries at work inside an ideologically dead and morally crippled Communist Party, whose brutal apparatus runs the country.

The increasing number of violent protests against social injustices greatly disturbs the leadership. The public security minister, Zhou Yong-kang, is reported to have told a closed official meeting recently that the number of "mass incidents" has significantly increased, last year involving several million people.

These events, though, are perhaps ultimately less threatening than a popular perception that the Communist government no longer possesses political legitimacy as China's ruler, or the moral legitimacy that radiates from an elite sure of its values. This government is intellectually exhausted.

China is not destined to rise to the top. This fact is relevant whether you think them destined to be friend or foe..

Wednesday, August 24, 2005


President Bush told an audience of Idaho National Guard troops and their families that victory is what we seek in the war:

So long as I'm the president, we will stay, we will fight, and we will win the war on terror.

I'm glad to hear him speak out on this. Sure, political opponents are dishonest when they complain that they don't know what our plan is to win in Iraq, but as I've written time and again over the last two years, it is up to the President and his cabinet to get out their and act like it is war. Any country relies on the support of the people to wage war and for a democracy it is even more important.

It isn't enough to complain about the media failing to highlight progress and give context to the war and the deaths they so ably report. It would be nice if the press did this but they don't so stop whining and deal with it. So one speech is nice and a series of speeches is better, but the President needs to do this constantly in a push to maintain public support. He needs to hammer what our goals are to win--effective Iraqi security and governmental bodies in a democratic Iraq--and point out our advances and the advances the Iraqis make in fighting the enemy. The President needs to highlight the heroism of our troops and inspire people. War is not a natural state of affairs and so extra efforts are necessary to support our troops to victory.

Victory and the assurance that we are advancing relentlessly toward victory will ease the concerns of a lot of people who now waver in their support.

Heck, I'd like to see the President reclaim the "V" for victory sign from the hippies who stole it and turned it into a sign of retreat.


When Near, Appear Far

The site China e-Lobby reported in the spring that China will invade Taiwan in 2012. This according to an unnamed high-ranking Chinese Communist Party official:

Prior to 2008, every policy should center one the Olympics to further arouse Chinese people’s patriotism and prepare for attacking Taiwan. Around 2010, reorganize the Party and clean out all the members who are against military action. Around 2012, attack Taiwan and call for an Emergency Act inside China.

Far be it from me to doubt the word of a nameless Chinese communist, but I have my doubts.

Sun Tzu advised "if near, appear far."

China has reason to appear far. The Taiwanese continue to dither (via China e-Lobby) over improving their military (and many Americans assume that the package we offered Taiwan in 2001 are in place when the Taiwanese haven't even decided to purchase the weapons!):

The main point of contention between Washington and Taipei is a package of weapons offered by the United States that includes eight diesel-electric submarines, six Patriot anti-missile batteries, 12 P-3C anti-submarine aircraft and other items worth $15 billion to $18 billion.

The Bush administration presented that package in April 2001, but the proposal has languished ever since.

Taiwanese leader Chen Shui-bian, who belongs to the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), has urged lawmakers to approve funds for the purchase. But the legislature, controlled by the opposition Nationalist Party, has refused.

The Nationalists, who ruled the island and were supported by the United States against the communist-ruled mainland for decades, have contended that some of the weapons aren't needed, that they are too expensive or they aren't modern enough.

Peking is wise not to focus the attention of the Taiwanese on the threat I think is bearing down on them. If the Chinese invade as I think they will on the eve of the Olympics, the surprise will be complete and cries that Taiwan would have been ready by 2012 will be sad footnotes to a free people who threw their liberty away.

I seriously worry about the Nationalists' loyalty to Taiwan. Their hearts remain on the mainland and in the end I fear they love the mainland more than they fear the communists.

Joining the Liars in the White House

I love the web.

I stumbled across this by accident. It has the full quotes of a number of war opponents warning about the WMD ambitions of Saddam Hussein prior to the Iraq War.

I draw special delight in the quotes of Madeleine Albright, perhaps the worst Secretary of State in my memory. I won't speak for all of our history here and I'm not that old, so perhaps she is better than average on the whole.

Welcome to the club of liars, ladies and gentlemen. The Texas cabal clearly learned its talking points from you.

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Selling Their Seoul

This article (via RCP) notes the strange view of South Koreans that North Korea is not a threat to them:

Many South Koreans no longer see North Korea as a threat. Instead of a mortal enemy, North Korea has become transmogrified into a sympathetic brother in the South Korean imagination.

And that the North's nuclear program will bring prestige to a unified Korea:

In Seoul's long-term calculus, the North Korean bomb is the "Korean bomb," which will benefit Seoul after eventual reunification. Such a quixotic view is epitomized by South Korean popular culture.

I've come to the conclusion that our South Korean alliance is in peril in the long run. I'd thought it was based on cold calculations over differing American/Japanese goals and South Korean goals. That is, Japan and America worry about nukes since this is a new threat to us. South Korea doesn't worry about nukes since the ability to nuke Seoul is a destruction not too different from the destruction that an invasion could have inflicted the last fifty years. South Korea would rather risk Tokyo or Seattle (or Guam) than risk even a conventional invasion by the North Koreans in order to eliminate the North Korean nuclear arsenal. As disturbing as this divergence is, I figured we could probably reconcile our goals. At the worst, North Korean insanity would eventually provide a common--or at least overlapping--threat perception.

But it may be worse than mere tactics and vulnerabilities. I have little faith that the North and South can unite in a happy kumbaya celebration of Korean-ness. And if the South doesn't take the threat seriously, reunification may be on Pyongyang's terms after all. You need the will to fight and not just the weapons. Will the South fight their "brothers" in the North if the balloon goes up?

North Korea is already world-class nutty. The South Koreans might have gone completely bonkers as well. Our North Korean problem might well become a Korean problem, and I don't know what we can do about it.

That decade sucking thing? I mentioned that already, right?

I Was Wrong

The anti-war nutjobs were right that planning to invade Iraq predated 9-11. Read the shame of it all:

The 2003 invasion of Iraq was not a spontaneous thing, at least not when it came to planning for it. Throughout the 1990s, the U.S. Department of Defense studied their options about how to deal with Iraq. President Bill Clinton ordered up these plans, as well as a series of bombing attacks in December, 1998 (Operation Desert Fox). This was done to try and force Iraq to abide by the agreement it had signed at the end of the 1991 war. Clinton pointed out, at the time, that Iraq was still a threat to its neighbors, and the world, because UN inspectors were blocked from many sites suspected of supporting the development of nuclear, chemical and biological weapons. Two years earlier, two of Saddam’s senior generals (and both sons-in-law of his) had defected, and revealed continuing research on weapons of mass destruction. However, nothing much happened after 1998, until 2003.

Clinton, noting the failure of the 1998 air attacks, ordered up plans for more vigorous operations against Saddam. These, however, were never acted on because Kosovo emerged as a critical situation in 1999 (because the Serbs were driving out the entire Albanian population of over a million people). Our NATO allies were unable to deal with this themselves, the UN refused to condone a military intervention, and the Europeans leaned on Clinton to send in American troops to take care of the situation.

Note that the 1998 aerial attacks ordered by President Clinton were assumed to have failed, requiring more forceful options. Failed at what you might reasonably ask. Why, to eliminate WMD in Iraq, that's what. To add insult, the Iraq plans weren't executed since we launched a non-UN-sanctioned war against a small country that didn't have WMD. Details like this should make you reconsder your whole world view, right?

But since the plans were first cooked up in a trailer park in Arkansas and not a ranch in Texas, don't expect the media to notice this. They haven't so far, so why start now?

Offshore Focus

So the Chinese and Russian exercise are not aimed at any "third country."

What can the exercises tell us? Let's see:

Blockade and amphibious landings are practiced. So the unrest is an island with sea trade.

The Chinese are shooting as they come ashore so the government experiencing the problems that rattle the "peace" China seeks to impose clearly hasn't invited China in to restore peace.

The Chinese have a UN "mandate" in the scenario. Since we are unlikely to allow any such mandate because of our veto, this must mean an existing mandate. Since Taiwan is not "a third country" and is officially considered by the UN to be part of China, I assume that this is the so-called mandate.

Ethnic strife is the cause and given the footsy that old mainlander KMT types are playing with communists on the mainland, I can only assume the assumption is that some ethnic mainlanders on Taiwan will complain about the native Taiwanese and invite Peking in.

So if you are playing the home addition of Where in the World is Carmen "Not Any Third Country" Sandiego, pick up your prize if you guess Taiwan as the target of this peaceful exercise in obliterating splittism.

The Taiwanese really need to purchase some serious weaponry if they hope to remain free. Peking isn't bluffing. They are getting ready. They are getting set. And they will go in time.

This decade sucks.

Hold the Bubbly

I'll want to see the actual numbers (I assume excellent retention has made up for recruiting shortfalls), but the media and anti-war Left that has delighted in some (American) recruiting woes (and did they celebrate in 2000, blaming the "illegal, non-UN-sanctioned 1999 Kosovo War for that year's shortfall?) should hold off on their celebrations. Ralph Peters (via RCP) reports recruiting and retention will meet the military's goals for this year:

Guess we have to face it: Patriotism is alive and well. Soldiers believe in the Army, and they believe in their missions in Iraq and Afghanistan. They love their comrades, too. And yes, the word is "love." They would die for the man or woman serving beside them. They're risking their lives to save a broken state, to give tens of millions of human beings a chance at decent lives, to do the grim work that no one else in the world is willing to do.

Their reward? The Cindy Sheehan Extravaganza. Predictions of disaster. The depiction of Michael Moore as a hero and our soldiers as dupes. And a ceaseless attempt to convince the American people that there's no hope in Iraq.

The ugly truth is that much of the media only cares about our soldiers when they're dead or crippled. That's a story.

The eagerness with which the Left embraces any bad news should embarass them. It does not.

And the media too, for that matter. Based on their circulation numbers, they are having quite the recruiting problem themselves. Wonder why? Pretty soon the only subscribers the NYT will have are LAT employees, and vice versa. Couldn't happen to a nicer bunch of guys as far as I'm concerned.

UPDATE: I was right to hesitate a bit by wanting to see the numbers. The story isn't quite as good as Peters makes it out to be. While retention is great, I don't think new recruit shortfalls will be made up by retention. Still, it is true that the economy and greater goals are the main reasons for the shortfalls in recruiting. Soldiers, especially combat veterans, are reenlisting proudly. And recruiting shortfalls are heaviest generally in the reserves. This makes sense since those who join the reserves can probably count on being called up once and if you want to go on active duty you'd join the active components and not the reserves. I should look for the new recruiting numbers for 1999 and 2000. I bet they are lower than for 2005.

Monday, August 22, 2005

We Can Modernize the Security Council

Japan is continuing to push for a UN permanent Security Council seat:

Japan's drive to gain a permanent seat on the UN Security Council is still alive, a Japanese UN delegate said, dismissing press reports that Tokyo planned to give up its bid for the time being after failing to win enough backing.

Right now Japan is wedded to India, Germany, and Brazil to all go through together:

The G4 proposal calls for increasing council membership from 15 to 25, with six new permanent seats without veto power --- one each for Brazil, Germany, India and Japan and two for the African region, and four non-permanent seats.

I don't remember how different this is from the UN proposal off hand but they seem pretty similar from memory.

The alternative plans to modernize the UN Security Council are ridiculous and just expand the council with states that barely deserve to have a UN General Assembly seat. Brazil? Get real. Any state in Africa? What a howler. Germany? If they ever get a clue and step up to accept the responsibilities of power before they get the key to the executive wash room, sure. But Berlin is an international joke right now.

Face it, exactly two countries deserve a permanent seat: Japan and India.

I've mentioned it before but I think we should give Japan a veto by proxy. We can do it for India, too.

What would we lose? If they officially had the veto they could veto items regardless of our stance. So officially commit to exercising our veto if they want to use it. Being an unofficial reform it avoids the monstrosity of the official reform plan or the G4 proposal that tries to buy Third World acceptance. Besides, I find it hard to believe China would allow India or Japan to get a veto seat.

Nor do I think we should create a League of Democracies or any such thing. Democracies vote against us and a L of D would have moral authority that the UN lacks. I like being able to ignore the UN's den of thieves. Could we do the same with democracies voting against us?

We're big enough to spread our veto around. I hope we're smart enough not to let the UN reform itself or let any plan be influenced by the need to buy off countries that shouldn't even dream of permanent status.

Proxy veto for our friends. I still like the idea. And if John Bolton pushes it through, it will just make it sweeter.

Fine Tuning

The Sunnis, Kurds, and Shias of Iraq haven't quite gotten their proposed constitution ready for release:

The parliament gathered with just minutes remaining before a midnight deadline to adopt the constitution, which still faced fierce resistance from minority Sunnis over the issue of federalism, which they fear could cut them out of most of the country's vast oil wealth, as well as power relations among the provinces.

I hope we are putting pressure on the drafters to bend the language to protect individual liberties. I also hope that we keep our hand hidden so that it is seen as an Iraqi constitution. Perhaps the talk of our unhappiness is just designed to avoid making it look like ours.

I won't panic or celebrate yet over the exact language. I keep in mind that the old Soviet constitution was a fine constitution--on paper. Ours is fairly vague and you could drive a truck through its provisions. So a lot of things could work out or not work out independent of the exact wording of much of the document.

I do not have much sympathy for the Sunnis, however. After their history, they need to accept a rule of law constitution or face the wrath of the Shia/Kurd majority with the power of a modern state behind them. Our troops won't be there forever in a moderating role.

Do the Sunnis really want to face Shias and Kurds out for revenge?


The most interesting thing I find about some opponents of the Iraq War is that they, as Senator Hagel bizarrely did, claim we are upsetting the stability of the Middle East (yet they also complain we don't do something immediately about Saudi Arabia though that would be most upsetting to stability) by overthrowing Saddam.

So I was glad to read Michael Barone bringing up a recent Pew poll of attitudes in the Moslem world:

Polls in the United States may show that Americans have become less supportive of our efforts in Iraq as the suicide bombings and roadside-bomb attacks continue. But the Pew polls in these Muslim countries show that those attacks have moved Muslim opinion against the terrorists and toward democracy. Muslims around the world cannot help but notice that Iraq is moving, however imperfectly, toward representative government. They can't have missed the "Cedar Revolution" in Lebanon and the expulsion of Syrian forces from Beirut. They may have noticed the small concessions to democracy in Saudi Arabia.

Tentative steps toward democracy and improving opinions of America in the Moslem world. All after two wars that overthrew thug dictatorships in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Once, Nazism was popular even here in America. But once Hitler blew his brains out in a bunker rather than see his own defeat, Nazism lost its appeal. Even communism lost much of its appeal outside of American college faculties after Moscow imploded.

If we don't lose our nerve and keep on the strategic offensive to replace hopeless jihadism with liberty and democracy, we will see the day when the jihadis are thoroughly discredited and have no appeal.

We are winning this war. Both narrowly in Iraq and generally. Staying the course is the only thing that makes sense under the circumstances.

Sunday, August 21, 2005

Sire, the Peasants are Revolting

China is experiencing some more unrest, this time in a protest over a polluting factory:

After the initial melee with police, thousands of demonstrators torched police cars and broke into government offices, witnesses reported.

Such scenes of frustration are becoming more common in rural China as villagers vent their anger against corruption, environmental degradation, pollution and the seizure of land for real estate development.

Every once in a while one reads of riots and unrest in China. Often, the stories note how common these disturbances have become.

But while violence such as this would sound the death knell of some dictatorships, where any defiance is brutally suppressed, what does it mean in China? Since violence seems somewhat normal, is this just more of the same and we shouldn't read too much into it? The peasant may be revolting, sire, but does it matter?

Or is something building up to threaten the communist dictatorship or even Chinese territorial integrity? If it is something, at what point does the unrest become a threat? Can this spread to the major cities? To the military?

What I do know is that it seems to be routine and now I kind of assume this is normal background violence and so no partiuclar threat to the government. Am I mistaken?

And really, I'm not sure whether I'd welcome a Chinese collapse or not. Does bear watching, of course.

Upright Bipeds are Shooting at Us

Senator Chuck Hagel should be embarassed over his recent comparison of the Iraq War to Vietnam. Senator George Allen at least was present to object:

"We're past that stage now because now we are locked into a bogged-down problem not unsimilar, dissimilar to where we were in Vietnam," Hagel said. "The longer we stay, the more problems we're going to have."

Allen said that unlike the communist-guided North Vietnamese that the U.S. fought, the insurgents in Iraq have no guiding political philosophy or organization. Still, Hagel argued, the similarities are growing.

"What I think the White House does not yet understand — and some of my colleagues — the dam has broke on this policy," Hagel said. "The longer we stay there, the more similarities (to Vietnam) are going to come together."

Any similarities to Vietnam are simply those shared with any war. Well, there is one potential similarity: defeat can be snatched from the jaws of victory by those too dim to see that they can cause defeat--not predict it.

Though we can lose this war--as any war can be lost--I think we have passed the point where we can be beaten.

But I hate to take the chance, so I cannot do anything but shudder that a United States Senator would make such a pronouncement when his own military experience should tell him what price soldiers pay when politicians go wobbly.

I certainly hope he hasn't got his heart set on the Republican nomination for 2008. He may have guaranteed the New York Times editorial board endorsement but that's about all she wrote for higher ambitions.

UPDATE: Let me clarify my assumption of victory comment. I think that the Baathists and jihadis will fail to overthrow the government and will be ground down--either fast or slow--even if we have to pull out under domestic pressure. If we pull out too soon the government victory will be ugly and brutal but it will win. I do not assume that the bigger objective of a democratic Iraq is guaranteed now. I think it can be achieved but I don't assume it. Never have. So we will either have a narrow military victory that ended Saddam's threat or we will have a chance to achieve a bigger victory in the region through the example of democracy in Iraq. I don't rule out that eventually we could get this bigger victory even if we have to settle for a less-than-democratic Iraq that at least is at peace and seeks to build prosperity at home.

Saturday, August 20, 2005


It still seems that not many weapons are coming into Iraq to supply the insurgents.

So it is good news that the internal supplies of explosives may not be as great as we thought:

In Iraq, the biggest killer of Iraqi and coalition forces is the IED (improvised explosive device). Analysis of the bombs used, and interrogation of the many bombers, and bomb makers captured recently, indicates that the supply of explosives is not as abundant as was once thought.

It is frustrating that we haven't been able to control the supply of leftover Saddam ammunition more rapidly, but given the large amounts out there we would have had to leave other tasks undone to secure supplies that were excess to insurgent needs anyway.

I do recall reading some months ago that insurgents were scrounging explosives from old Iran-Iraq War battlefields. I believe I posted on that fact. That seemed like a good sign that internally available explosives were running out.

Like I've said until I'm blue in the face, this narrowly based insurgency wouldn't have lasted this long without the money and arms buried all over Iraq. If this fuel runs out, the enemy could collapse far more suddenly than we would otherwise expect. I know this hasn't happened yet, but it could.

Sparking Debate

The Russian-Chinese military exercises expose a significant change in how Moscow can direct foreign policy from the Soviet days. Back then the Kremlin could do what it wanted and the public be damned. Putin may pine for those days but when Russia gets cozy with a growing giant, not all Russians are content to let Putin build up such an obvious potential threat to a still-shrinking Russia:

But the exercises have sparked debate in Russia over how closely the nation should cooperate with China, which many Russians see as a potential threat because of its size, economic might and proximity to sparsely populated, resource-rich Siberia.

Gee. Ya think?

The Russians need to get over the Soviet empire. It's gone. Time for them to look around and see the true threats to their well being. And see who their potential friends are.

I hope that debate in Russia kicks in pretty quickly.


Amidst calls by opponents of the war to abandon Iraq and worries by others that we will abandon the Iraqis by pulling out too early, the Army has indicated that we will be there for a while:

[General Peter] Schoomaker, who spoke aboard an Army jet on the trip back to Washington from Kansas City, Mo., made no predictions about the pace of political progress in Iraq. But he said he was confident the Army could provide the current number of forces to fight the insurgency for many more years. The 2007-09 rotation he is planning would go beyond President Bush's term in office, which ends in January 2009.

We are not cutting and running. I hope this comforts those here who worry about that; pisses off the Leftists who love jihadi beheaders; and scares the enemy.

Friday, August 19, 2005


Terrorists tried to hit two American ships, Ashland and Kearsarge, while they were in a Jordanian port. They missed, killing a Jordanian soldier. But this is war and there is no such thing as "no harm, no foul."

This must not be another USS Cole nonresponse.

It doesn't matter that the attack failed. The enemy tried to kill us and we must respond militarily. Against who? Well start with those who claim that they did it:

A group linked to al-Qaida claimed responsibility in an Internet statement. The statement purportedly from the Abdullah Azzam Brigades could not immediately be verified.

So if somebody wants to claim they did this in al Qaeda's name, nail al Qaeda. We are already killing jihadis in Iraq and Afghanistan. We round them up and help allies do the same around the world. Except in Iran, of course, where al Qaeda fled as we destroyed the Taliban regime and where the terrorists have enjoyed the hospitality of the demented and quite dangerous mullahs of Tehran.

If we don't know where we should lob some good fuel-air MOABs inside Iran to kill off some of the terrorists who think they are safe from our reach, then I will be pretty upset with our intelligence capabilities. And I'll question our resolve to fight.

Strike the enemy in Iran. Hard and soon. I nice brief but thorough missile and air campaign against al Qaeda and any associated Revolutionary Guard facilities. I dare the Iranians to defend the SOBs they've given sanctuary.

As an aside, I guess we don't turn on the point defense Phalanx systems while in port. Perhaps the radar only works at sea away from ground clutter. Perhaps we should work on that under the circumstances.

Failure of Assumptions

The assumptions of this article are interesting. It says the President's strategy of confronting the Axis of Evil is failing:

President Bush's campaign against what he once termed the "axis of evil" has suffered reverses on all three fronts in recent days that underscore the profound challenges confronting him 3 1/2 years after he vowed to take action.

First, multilateral talks orchestrated by the United States to pressure North Korea to give up nuclear weapons adjourned last week after 13 days without agreement. Then Iran restarted its program to convert uranium, in defiance of the United States and Europe. Finally, negotiators in Iraq failed to draft a new constitution by Monday's deadline amid an unrelenting guerrilla war against U.S. forces.

I find this fascinating. Chalking up the failure of the North Koreans to agree during this latest round of talks after cheating on the 1994 agreement as a failure of the President seems to assume that we can talk our way out of this problem. I certainly don't think that. I'm fine with talking as long as at the end of the day we smile, shake hands, and walk away from the pressure evident in this article to just come to an agreement--anything at all--because that's what you do when you talk. Let North Korea die. And smile as they collapse.

As for Iran, how is Europe's failure to deal with Iran by their means an indictment of our policies? We've been told how all moderate the Iranians are and that if we just talked, we'd solve the problems. Shouldn't the reasonable Euros have made tremendous progress? Guess again Sparky. The Iranians are going for broke and sophisticated Euro appeasement didn't stop them and won't slow them down:

"Thanks to the negotiations with Europe," [Iran's chief nuclear affairs negotiator, Hossein Musavian] bragged, "we gained another year, in which we completed...Isfahan." This was quite a coup, at least in Musavian's humble opinion: "We suspended (the enrichment program) in Isfahan in October 2004, although we were required to do so in October 2003...Today we are in a position of power: (the program) in Isfahan is complete and UF4 and UF6 gases are being produced. We have a stockpile of products, and...we have managed to convert 36 tons of yellow cake into gas and store it..."

As for Iraq, the Iraqis will hammer out an agreement. I'm all for deadlines but sometimes they can't be met. At least they are all talking about compromises and I imagine something will happen and it will be acceptable. Merely getting in the habit of talking out differences is a good experience for all involved.

I think this article says more about Baker and Linzer than the President.

I dare say, Victor Hanson has it right when he says that our methods in Iraq and Afghanistan will endure history's scrutiny better than those who love talking and nicely bound reports with brightly colored ribbons to show for their efforts:

A responsible Iran and the Europeans may hammer out a peaceful partnership. And the North Koreans could put away their weapons and begin reunification with the South. In contrast, Afghanistan and Iraq could descend into even more chaos, confirming the belief of many that imposing U.S. solutions on complex indigenous problems in these countries was a mistake.

Or then again, Gaza, Iran and North Korea may become the fountainheads of deadly misery well beyond their borders. Meanwhile, Iraq and Afghanistan, thanks in large part to the thousands of American soldiers risking their lives to ensure that elections are not derailed, may settle down to enjoy the first constitutional governments in the Middle East--in the manner that democratic Japan, Germany, Italy, South Korea, Panama and the Balkans are now more stable after U.S. resolve and sacrifices.For now, I doubt whether Palestinians, Iranians and North Koreans will be pacified by the deference of others. Sooner or later they may well have their own rendezvous with the quiet Americans now in the shadows.

I trust this President is serious about dealing with Iran and North Korea and preventing them from remaining threats to American life and liberty. Failure would be a betrayal of his oath of office. I think my trust is well placed. Even if action remains in the shadows for now, I think we will next address Iran. Don't assume that there will be no storm after this calm.

Serenity Now. Serenity Now.

What is with the panicky reaction lately by war supporters over the fact that Iraqis are increasingly able to fight their own war against the jihadis and Baathists? Bill Kristol already jumped up on a stool and screached "eek" and now Frederick Kagan adds to the noise:

The Bush administration is making it clearer day by day that it intends to withdraw American troops from Iraq rapidly and roughly in step with the increase in the number of Iraqi troops deemed capable of taking over security responsibilities. Even while denying rumors of a rapid withdrawal of U.S. forces, President Bush has declared that "as Iraqis stand up, we will stand down."

This could be a big mistake. It is likely to simply sustain the current level of security in Iraq -- which is poor -- rather than take advantage of increasing numbers of Iraqi troops to improve the security situation. And, more important, relying on increases in the number of combat-capable Iraqi troops to make U.S. withdrawals possible ignores a serious set of challenges that have to be dealt with before the United States can depart with confidence in the prospects for victory.

Good grief, why shouldn't we reduce troops strength in some measure as the Iraqis come on line? And who on Earth has suggested we will abandon them? Since 170,000 trained Iraqi security personnel have come on line over the last year, have we reduced our presence by 170,000? Well, no. We have not.

Get a grip, people. Turning over primary responsibility for fighting the enemy in Iraq is not the same as cutting and running. Advisors, logistics, air power, special forces, conventional forces for tough missions and a reserve, and capabilities to deter invasion while the Iraqi military looks inward will all be provided by the United States until the war is won.

It's getting embarassing. Will war supporters please get a grip? Trust that the President means what he says and that we will win this war.

Thursday, August 18, 2005

Reasons to Kill

Via Instapundit, this post on the al Qaeda connection to the mass bombings in Bangladesh.

When will the people of Bangladesh end their war in Iraq and thus deprive the jihadis of this reason to target them? I say pull their troops out now!

Oh wait. Bangladesh doesn't have troops in Iraq? Well whaddayaknow.

So tell me, just what did the Bangladeshis do to deserve the wrath of the jihadis? Danged Neo-Bangs, I'm sure.

Huge Gore Sigh

I don't trust anything that Ted Galen Carpenter writes. I just don't. He always seems to take the position that events will happen and we might as well get used to them. No point in acting at all on anything. Just give up now and learn to like it, apparently.

His latest on China is more of the same:

America's interest is in managing China's inevitable rise to great power status without needlessly embroiling Americans in a war. Doing so requires a dispassionate assessment of China's views on Taiwan. The DOD report is a good step in that direction. The report acknowledges that controlling Taiwan is a "core interest" for China, and for good reason: aside from the motive of national pride regarding reunification, roughly 80 percent of China's energy imports pass through the waters adjacent to Taiwan.

Securing those sea lanes by way of naval access to Taiwan is a high priority for Beijing. (For a look at how seriously great powers take the issue of securing access to energy supplies, one could examine U.S. policy in the Middle East since the 1940s.) China's economic growth is precariously perched on its ability to meet its growing energy needs, and the PRC leadership feels its energy lifeline is in jeopardy if it does not control vital sea lanes.

I have some questions:

Why is China's rise inevitable?

And even if it is, why should we simply accept it?

Isn't China needlessly risking a war with us over Taiwan? I mean, given that we are defending the status quo, why is the burden on us to get out of China's way when they try to grab Taiwan?

Why is the fact that getting Taiwan is a "core interest" of China make the interest legitimate? I mean, God forbid that Carpenter should find out that humbling Japan is a core interest of China. Or letting North Korea have nukes to threaten us and Japan. Or whatever nutty thing the Chinese think is a core interest. Peking may define something as a core interest. That is their right, I suppose. But we are under no obligation to accept their core interests if they conflict with ours.

And pride as a reason to accept aggression is an odd thing to accept, I say. Let China be proud of something besides snuffing out a tiny democracy that dares to live free of Peking's tender grasp.
As for securing oil rights, I eagerly await Carpenter's statement that we need to control both sides of the Strait of Hormuz to secure our oil access. Or perhaps Carpenter should just advise the Chinese to accept their limitations and move on as he does so often with America.

Let me add to the oil routes question. Carpenter thinks that China should own Taiwan to secure oil imports. Hmm. Fascinating really, since the oil does not originate in Taiwan or its vicinity. The oil travels from Venezuela to China; or the Middle East to China; or Sudan to China. Does Carpenter think that securing Taiwan will secure the oil routes all the way to the sources? I guess it is only a matter of time, if we follow Carpenter's "management" strategy, that he is arguing that it is natural that China would station troops on Sirri Island in the Gulf, or on Socotra Island near the mouth of the Red Sea. Or perhaps he will say that of course China must own Singapore. Or Cuba. All are critical spots on the oil routes if you want to secure them right into China's ports.

Securing China's vital oil routes pretty much requires China to be a global naval power. Accepting this is not my idea of "managing" China. Carpenter is dispassionately arguing that we should simply surrender to the new guy on the block--a communist tyranny that naturally wants to snuff out freedom in its neighborhood lest the virus of liberty bring down the party.

There is nothing dispassionate about just giving up.

Downward Spiral

Strategypage notes something that I've pondered for quite some time now. I don't remember if I've addressed it in more than a passing manner. I certainly meant to do so. Namely, in a classic insurgency you go from agitaiton and propaganda, to terrorism, to formed units in increasing size that ambush, strike outposts, take on conventional government units, and eventually carve out "liberated" zones until large insurgent units can defeat the government in pitched battles.

I've watched events in Iraq carefully to see if anything like this is happening. It is not. Police stations are no longer overrun. Attacks by the enemy in platoon-strength or larger have dwindled. The enemy does not stand and fight--not even against Iraqi government forces. Instead, the enemy is regressing to terror attacks against civilians. Read what Strategypage has to say:

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

I've said it before and I'll repeat myself. This is no proper insurgency based on mass support. It is a revolt of Baathists with jihadi friends paying for the all-day pass at Jihadworld that has no hope of beating the vast majoritiy of the population once it gets properly organized. Only the massive amounts of money and weapons inside Iraq before the war and accessible to the Sunnis have made this fight drag on as long as it has. Absent these factors, the tiny community upset with the overthrow of Saddam could not have resisted for long.

And even with the advantages of money and arms and foreign jihadis, the so-called rebellion is dropping down the escalation ladder. How long will it be before the insurgency is just a jihadi version of Democratic Underground?