Saturday, December 31, 2005

Don't Ef With Tradition

I like this Navy tradition:

In the first hours of every New Year, the nation's seafaring officers take up an endearing naval tradition: writing wordplay, doggerel and poetry in their log entries.

Ah, the revenge of the junior officer stuck on duty on New Year's Eve.

Happy New Year.

Spoiled Brats

I keep writing that if the Sunnis don't join the government while we are in Iraq to moderate the rather natural desire of the former victims to exact revenge on the Sunnis (for several decades of Baathist depravity and four centuries generally of Sunni oppression), the Shias and Kurds will turn to uglier methods to win:

The terrorists will have a new opponent early next year. On December 15th, Iraqis will elect a parliament. The 275 members of this “National Assembly” will promptly align themselves into factions, and each faction will have demands. Those demands with the most votes behind them, will have the power of law. It’s possible that the legislators will order American forces out of the country. The U.S. would have to comply. It’s more likely that harsh legislation against anti-government (largely Sunni Arab) forces will be passed. This will simply recognize the fact that there has been a civil war going on since early 2003. The majority of Iraqis are tired of all the violence. They want law and order, and the economic revival that brings. Even most Sunni Arabs want this, but they will have to contribute votes, bullets and blood to make it happen. And the final act might be a far bloodier battle than anything that's been seen so far in Iraq. All in the name of law and order.

Sadly, Europeans and foreign Sunnis have encouraged the Sunnis of Iraq to keep fighting by bolstering their false belief that they (the Sunnis) are unjustly persecuted the the majority now in charge. And amazingly, the Sunnis are not taking fast enough or broadly enough the chance offered by the foreign jihadis to forge an alliance with the Shias and Kurds against the common invaders led by Zarqawi.

As the rulers, the Sunnis managed at twenty percent of Iraq's population to subdue the other 80%. Do the Sunnis really believe that the 80% majority can't suppress them if the majority wants to get dirty enough? Will the Sunnis really fail to seize the latest opportunity to join a new democratic Iraq? The Shias and Kurds keep offering peace and a role in the new Iraq; but the Sunnis keep insisting they can restore their neck-stomping glory days through violent resistance. One day, the Sunnis won't get this offer anymore and the new deal will be exile, submission, or death.

Are the Sunnis really this persistently stupid?

UPDATE: The NYT opines on what the Sunnis must do as well as the responsibilities of the Shias and Kurds. I expected the worst and was surprised at a tone only moderately pro-Sunni in expecting the majority to cater to the former overlords. Banning Baathists (at least higher ranking Baathists) from the government and security forces is in no way discriminatory, however, and I find it amazing that the Times would go to bat for the fascists whose bloody rule scarred Iraq deeply. Really, the Sunnis have the moral standing to demand little. In reality, their continued ties to the killers inside Iraq mean that some temporary accomodation must be made. It was done for South Africa's whites after Apartheid was overthrown. It can be done in Iraq, too. For a while anyway.

The Guard's New Brigades

AUSA has a report on what the Guard's 34 brigade combat teams will look like (though this doesn't address reports that the Guard will only have 28 brigades in the new QDR plan).

In the current plan, all eight Army National Guard divisional headquarters will convert to the new modular division design; all Army National Guard separate and divisional brigades will convert to 23 Infantry BCTs, 10 Heavy BCTs and one Stryker BCT (34 total); and a number of other formations will convert to various modular supporting units: six fires brigades, 10 combat support brigades (maneuver enhancement), 11 sustainment brigades, eight combat aviation brigades (from the former divisional aviation brigades), four aviation brigades, one aviation command and one aviation group.

I don't know what form the "infantry" BCTs will take. Motorized? Mechanized? Light?

It is interesting that the Guard divisions will remain even though the subordinate brigades are really stand-alone formations. I don't know why--other than because of the Guard's lobbying power--all of the division headquarters will remain. Given that the Guard will operate on a six-year cycle where perhaps six brigades will be available to deploy in any given year, why have more than two headquarters? Interestingly enough, it looks like the Guard divisions may be designed to control support units (note the remarks about commanding Reserve or active units) more often than they are intended to command combat brigades (which may be commanded by new divisions that may include five or more brigades depending on the threat level):

In addition to the BCTs, the Guard will reorganize its eight existing division headquarters into modular command and control elements that will retain their current designations, patches and unit histories. In wartime, these modular division headquarters will be capable of exercising command and control of a variable number of BCTs, support brigades and other support units, determined according to the mission, and will be capable of functioning as JFLCC or JTF headquarters. Significantly, the subordinate elements commanded by these Guard divisions upon deployment are as likely to be active and U.S. Army Reserve units as Army National Guard units. In peacetime, each division headquarters will have training and readiness oversight responsibilities for four or five Guard BCTs.

Whether with 28 or 34 brigade combat teams, the changes make the Guard more a partner of the active component for ongoing operations like we've seen since 9-11 than a final reserve to be mobilized completely for a general war as foreseen in the Cold War.

Codify the NSA Intercept Program

The outrage of the Left over the NSA wiretaps program is fairly ridiculous. Given the briefings of Congress, had anybody in Congress thought this was so bad, they could have introduced legislation to halt it. They did not. They simply covered their butts by writing secret letters that they now trot out as proof that they--what? Defended our civil liberties? Apparently not. They bravely kept their mouths shut over what they now claim are massive civil rights violations. Our ACLU types may want to reconsider who they support politically to man the barricades.

The program does not appear to be illegal in the slightest degree. Would I have liked the administration to codify the program? Absolutely. I'd always like to have the Congress and executive branch on the same page. Sadly, as I understand it, when approached at the time Congressional leaders said that such a law would not pass. This is unfortunate not because it means that the President could not do what he has done absent Congressional action but because it is always better to have Congress clearly involved in providing oversight.

It should not be too late to codify this program to reassure our people that the program is under some formal oversight. There are a number of reasons such a program is needed to protect us:

Given these statements of the obvious, the president ought to open his State of the Union Address by asking Congress to give him official authority to approve warrantless searches of known and identified terrorists, or of people in regular contact with those terrorists whom authorities reasonably suspect of plotting to commit acts of murder, terror or sabotage. These activities ought to be subject to monthly review by the attorney general. The administration also ought to be required each month to brief the top four congressional leaders, both intelligence committees and the head of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court.

The proposal would codify the status quo -- but shorten the reporting periods to 30 days from 45 -- and place the impeachment crowd in a sticky situation. The public would support both proposals overwhelmingly, leaving the president's most hysterical critics isolated utterly.

And codifying the program will be a protection that a needed program will not evolve into a domestic spying program that critics of today's program wrongly assert it to be.

No Blood for Maple Syrup! Eh?

I see it is time for this decade's story about our military's old plans to invade Canada.

Mercifully, the authors approach this a bit tongue in cheek.

Of course, the real story should be that Canada considered a pre-emptive invasion of America in case of a crisis:

Canadian military strategists developed a plan to invade the United States in 1921 -- nine years before their American counterparts created War Plan Red.

The Canadian plan was developed by the country's director of military operations and intelligence, a World War I hero named James Sutherland "Buster" Brown. Apparently Buster believed that the best defense was a good offense: His "Defence Scheme No. 1" called for Canadian soldiers to invade the United States, charging toward Albany, Minneapolis, Seattle and Great Falls, Mont., at the first signs of a possible U.S. invasion.

"His plan was to start sending people south quickly because surprise would be more important than preparation," said Floyd Rudmin, a Canadian psychology professor and author of "Bordering on Aggression: Evidence of U.S. Military Preparations Against Canada," a 1993 book about both nations' war plans. "At a certain point, he figured they'd be stopped and then retreat, blowing up bridges and tearing up railroad tracks to slow the Americans down."

Brown's idea was to buy time for the British to come to Canada's rescue.

I will be highly disappointed if the humorless Left doesn't seize on this story to bash America. Actually, I think it would make a wonderful exercise for staff officers in training to plan exactly how we would invade and occupy Canada. Not because I think that we might need to, but just because Canada is so large and our military is not exactly deployed to invade. It is an odd enough scenario that it would be an interesting read.

Though I must say I'd be willing to be a human shield available to camp out at Canadian breweries, hockey stadiums, swingers clubs, and Tim Horton outlets to ward off the American invasion.

But given that Canada planned to invade us (and did host invasions in our Revolution and the War of 1812, remember), perhaps Canadian shields should come south. Remember, as was noted in the cited movie "Canadian Bacon," isn't it a little suspicious that 90% of Canada's population is forward deployed and massed within 100 miles of our border?

Thursday, December 29, 2005

Whose Big Chance?

Austin Bay writes that the Iraqis know that democracy is their best chance to escape the past of oppression and join the modern world:

Iraqi Prime Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari said that the constitution is "a sign of civilization. ... This constitution has come after heavy sacrifices. It is a new birth."

Jaafari echoed a sentiment I heard last year while serving on active duty in Iraq. Several Iraqis told me they knew democracy was "our big chance." One man said it was Iraq's chance to "escape bad history." To paraphrase a couple of other Iraqis, toppling Saddam and building a more open society was a chance "to enter the modern world."

The great democratic revolts are profoundly promising history. They are the big story of 2005 -- and, for that matter, the next three or four decades.

I certainly support this chance to introduce real (if different from ours) democracy (fully aware that some who deny Iraq can be democratic don't think America is either ...) to the Middle East's Moslem states, starting with Iraq. But does this apply to all Iraqis?

Certainly, the Shias of Iraq may see it this way. They experienced the death, poverty, terror, and despair of life under Saddam. The new democracy imposed by American-led arms and defended with our blood and treasure has clearly given them a chance to escape their horrible history. That they fight at our side is a sign of their commitment. The fact that they represent 60% of the population and so will naturally benefit from real democracy is another factor bolstering the chance that democracy can succeed in Iraq.

Even the Sunnis who benefitted from Baathist rule can learn to embrace democracy as a shield against being treated as losers in the Middle East are usually treated by the victors--harshly and with no recourse but to fight or flee. As they realize they can not bomb their way back to power and that they really are a minority within Iraq, rule of law becomes their best defense against traditional methods of dealing with the losers.

So two of the big factions representing close to 80% of the population have good reason to embrace democracy. But what about the Kurds?

The Kurdish north is jointly run by two factions that are not exactly democratic in outlook:

Kurds in Iraq are divided between the Kurdish Democratic Party (KDP) and the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) factions in northern Iraq. These entities are political-military-tribal organizations. The KDP and PUK are currently cooperating with each other, although they fought a civil war in 1996. ...

Tribal ties are a source of support in times of hardship and can still be use to mobilize communities against outside interference.

The two parties run Kurdistan under a nominal Iraqi flag under Chicago rules. Democracy did not save Kurds from Saddam's terrible rule. The autocratic parties did so with American support. So the Kurds have no particular reason to see democracy as their salvation. What is keeping the Kurds within Iraq is probably fear of what the Turks, Arabs, and Persians would do to them and fear that America--which wants a unified Iraq--would withdraw support for the Kurds if the Kurds deny us our goal of a unified Iraq.

Democracy isn't just about elections, it is really about rule of law and the ability to accept defeat and prepare to fight again within the system and at the ballot box the next round. The Kurds haven't yet had to face up to what they would do if they lose within a democracy. Will the Kurds accept that they will lose a lot since they have but 20% of the population? Or will the Kurds revert to relying on the tribally based autocracy that preserved them from Saddam's clutches when democracy fails to deliver narrow objectives for them or is perceived as "interfering" in their affairs?

Surely, we shall pressure the Kurds and try to bribe them into staying in a unified Iraq playing by the rules. Hopefully, if the contradictions aren't too bad, the Kurds will learn to love democracy as a minority in a federal entity with substantial autonomy.

But what will we do if the Kurds won't play by democracy's rules? What if the Kurds protect their ethnic interests by ignoring the will of the majority and therefore making democracy a mockery and encouraging others to undermine rule of law to defend their narrow sectarian interests?

Will we value the pursuit of a democratic Iraq and pay the price of Kurdish withdrawal into an autocratic independent entity to make sure the rest of Iraq is democratic?

Or will we value a single Iraq as is, but with democracy compromised to force the Kurds to remain in Iraq? Indeed, could we even force the Kurds to stay in without an ugly war by Iraq's central government that we'd need to support if Baghdad is to control all of Iraq?

As with everything, Iraq is a balancing act among competing interests and forces that sometimes go in the same direction that we want. Getting a unified (though federal) and democratic Iraq will still take a lot of work and a lot of patience as we try to hold the center and allow all Iraqis to escape their separate histories with the same method of democracy and rule of law.

I Love it When A Plan Comes Together

Belmont Club reports on Chinese efforts to build energy lines of supply away from the US Navy's tender mercies:

China, which is becoming more energy dependent by hour is also looking to obtain oil supplies from Central Asia, but wants to keep its lifeline out of the clutches of the Russian Bear. Stratfor says " All told, the Chinese plan aims to connect half a dozen pieces of independent infrastructure -- some Soviet-built, some Chinese-built, others built by yet other entities -- then reverse the flow of some of them and cobble together a new export corridor stretching from Kazakhstan's oil-rich Caspian basin through a series of western- and central-Kazakh oil zones, and ultimately into China proper. For the first time, China will have a source of imported energy not vulnerable to such pesky things as U.S. aircraft carrier battle groups."

Some may moan that we should want the Chinese to remain vulnerable to our naval power. I think this is a good development as I wrote back in April. Wanting to be able to interdict Chinese sea lines of supply for oil is making the best of a worst scenario--planning for war with China. A war that Russia seems to be stoking by selling China naval and air weapons that keep China looking toward Taiwan, the sea, and ultimately America; rather than to Russia's weakly held Far East. And if China and America hurt each other in a war? Moscow won't cry over that.

I'd rather focus China away from the sea (and the spark for war called Taiwan) and inland to Asia:

But what if we could get China to look north for oil supplies? Not to Russia mind you. I'd rather have Russian oil go to Japan as it looks like it will rather than south to China. If China gets dependent on Russian oil, China will get nervous that Russia controls this vital resource and will think of securing the supply. They will be able to conquer the Far East of Russia. With a Russian-Japanese oil link, Japan will have an interest in defending Russia and Russia will have an interest in keeping their customer more secure. Perhaps this will help get Russia to slow their arms sales to China that feed Peking's southern strategy.

But to get China looking north to Asia for oil supplies, perhaps we should try to encourage oil pipelines throughPakistan to Iran and through Central Asia to the Caspian Sea region. If China gets oil through this route, paying for a navy with no task other than taking Taiwan may not make as much sense as it did when the navy was needed for oil supply security too. This could suck China into Asia and perhaps make the Europeans nervous enough about the Chinese coming up a new silk road that Europe will feel they need America again as an ally.

We might even be able to work out something with the EU which desperately wants to sell arms to China. What if we can figure out a list of arms that will encourage the Chinese to look to Asia's interior while still banning EU sales of arms that propel the Chinese south to the sea? Europe won't look ahead 50 years to worry about the Chinese in Central Asia and the Caspian Sea. Europe will be happy to sell arms with our blessings.

And as I note, if it comes to the worst case and war, China will never be freed from the need to import oil by sea. Our naval power will have Chinese supply lines to interdict. We will also be able to hit the land routes with our air power, too, I think. The advantage to us will be that China will have to split their resources between an eastern sea threat and a western land threat. Like the Kaiser's Germany trying to be both a sea and naval power, China will fail at both.

Go West, young budding superpower.

Blonde Leading the Blonde

I find it hard to get worked up over whatever the latest Crisis Du Jour the Left concocts in an effort to get us to bend to their will. New ice age, global warming, whatever. After all, we are all still suffering from running out of copper in the 1990s, right?

Forgive me for the non-foreign policy post (though the vaunted international community uses Kyoto as a club to beat us so I have something international here), but global warming is a guilty pleasure for me.

So Michael Crichton's latest speech is great to read. Our world is too complex for us to have the notion that we understand it enough to pull levers and make a problem go away:

And for that matter, who believes that the complex system of our atmosphere behaves in such a simple and predictable way that if we reduce one component, carbon dioxide, we will therefore reliably reduce temperature? CO2 is not like an accelerator on a car. It’s not linear (and by the way, neither is a car accelerator.) And furthermore, who believes that the climate can be stabilized when it has never been stable throughout the earth’s history? We can only entertain such an idea if we don’t really understand what a complex system is. We’re like the blonde who returned the scarf because it was too tight. We don’t get it.

Is it any wonder the Left can't get worked up over maniacal dictators with nukes? They have grander problems to solve. The future of the planet is at stake!

The Left believes their big brains have seen the problem, understand the dire consequences for our entire planet, know the causes, understand what needs to be done, and have a plan to cope with all the consequences that they of course see so clearly. And when the crisis of the day does not arrive, they buy a new scarf and try it on.

Sadly, they are always too tight.

For the record:

I don't assume we are experiencing a general warming based on a mere century of purported data;

I don't assume we have caused whatever increase there is;

I don't assume that the Left's so-called solutions will work;

I sure as heck don't think we can afford them and should look to cope rather than halt any warming;

And finally, until the global warmers can tell me what the planet's ideal temperature is, I don't know why we should move Heaven and Earth to prevent the planet from getting warmer for now (even if it is within our capabilities). We've had different temperatures over human history, so I don't know why a little warmer is necessarily a catastrophe--isn't that a little time centric? If the Left ever goes back to warning us about a new ice age, they might want us to pump CO2 back into the atmosphere.

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Information Operations

I don't understant how the New York Times can get all indignant that the US military has paid to get pro-American stories into the Iraqi press.

After all, the Times prints lots of anti-American stories:

[The New York Times] smeared female interrogators at Guantanamo Bay as "sex workers," sympathetically portrayed military deserters as "un-volunteers," apologized for terror suspects and illegal aliens at every turn, enabled the Bush Derangement Syndrome-driven crusade of the lying Joe Wilson, and recklessly endangered national security by publishing illegally obtained information about classified counterterrorism programs.

I assume the NYT pays their reporters. If they do it for free I'll be really upset.

Taiwan Needs Subs

Blogger MeiZhongTai back in November changed his mind and concluded that Taiwan does not need a reasonable force of modern diesel-electric submarines because it is not cost effective:

If China has to battle Taiwan's submarines for control of the subsurface, it won't dispatch its entire submarine force to do so. China would, at most, send two of its attack subs in search of every Taiwanese sub. Were Taiwan to acquire the eight new submarines, that would distract, at most 16 PLAN submarines in a Taiwan Strait conflict. That would leave China 39 attack submarines to sink the ROCN surface fleet or Taiwan's merchant marines, or protect its own invasion force. Additionally, any ROC submarine that successfully carries out an attack on PLAN forces would be immediately sunk by PLAN submarines, destroyers, or sub-hunting aircraft.

This analysis ignores the fact that China's subs are on average, quite poor and poorly trained as well. They rarely put to sea and usually do so with the company of surface ships just in case. I sincerely doubt that the PLAN could put 16 effective attack submarines to sea to sink the 8 proposed Taiwanese boats under debate.

Nor do I think the PLAN's anti-submarine capabilities spell a death sentence for the Taiwanese boats. I'm not even sure the PLAN would be immediately aware of their own losses let alone the amazing ability to destroy modern subs with PLAN assets. Chinese naval warfare capabilities are not exactly advanced except for narrow bands created by buying Russian weapons. Even there the training won't be very good.

As for cost effectiveness, let me just add that as long as a single Taiwanese sub equipped with American-made Harpoons is at sea (or believed to be at sea), the United States will be able to maintain plausible deniability that American subs are not actually shooting at the invasion flotilla (we in the blogosphere can then marvel at the capabilities of the lone intrepid Taiwanese captain wreaking havoc on the PLAN surface fleet).

I don't know much about macro-economics, but I think buying those submarines and getting the possible use of the US submarine fleet is highly cost effective. Taiwan needs those eight submarines.

UPDATE: MeiZhongTai notes this post and is providing commenting space for the issue. For this I am grateful and thus far I am confirmed in my decision not to enable comments here. In my life I have been able to have friendships and civil conversations with lots of people who have different views than myself. Perhaps it comes from living and working in places where my views were always in a clear minority. A short stint in the military and my current job also emphasize nonpolitical activity in pursuit of goals above political considerations (And amazingly enough when I take those political quizzes I tend to show up as a "moderate" believe it or not--but I've lived in Detroit and Ann Arbor, so that tells you something about these places!).

But it drives me to despair when disagreements descend into the all-encompassing "you are an idiot in all you believe" line of thought. Some good points made in the comments, but some of the asides and out-of-scope arguments made mean I would have to embark on a complete defense of American foreign policy just to address friggin' subs for Taiwan. And commenting on just the narrow topic at hand might give the impression that I agree with the points I don't comment on. I don't have time for this level of "discourse." Strictly speaking, I don't have time to blog period! I'll have to be content to let readers decide on their own. I added my two cents and I'm happy with that.

Fake But Accurate: 1927 Edition

Sacco and Vanzetti were guilty, murdering, anarchist scum even though 25,000 Leftists marched to protest their executions at the time and even though they have remained martyrs for the Left ever since.

Upton Sinclair (via The Corner) said so (well, not three of my four descriptors):

Soon Sinclair would learn something that filled him with doubt. During his research for "Boston," Sinclair met with Fred Moore, the men's attorney, in a Denver motel room. Moore "sent me into a panic," Sinclair wrote in the typed letter that Hegness found at the auction a decade ago."

Alone in a hotel room with Fred, I begged him to tell me the full truth," Sinclair wrote. " … He then told me that the men were guilty, and he told me in every detail how he had framed a set of alibis for them."

His reasons for remaining silent when he knew the truth are probably very understandable to the likes of Dan Rather and certain New York Times writers:

Other letters tucked away in the Indiana archive illuminate why one of America's most strident truth tellers kept his reservations to himself."

My wife is absolutely certain that if I tell what I believe, I will be called a traitor to the movement and may not live to finish the book," Sinclair wrote Robert Minor, a confidant at the Socialist Daily Worker in New York, in 1927.

"Of course," he added, "the next big case may be a frame-up, and my telling the truth about the Sacco-Vanzetti case will make things harder for the victims.

"He also worried that revealing what he had been told would cost him readers. "It is much better copy as a naïve defense of Sacco and Vanzetti because this is what all my foreign readers expect, and they are 90% of my public," he wrote to Minor.

Pity Sinclair wouldn't speak truth to power.

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Another Math Problem

The Sunnis are upset at the assumed election results.

I guess when you assume you have more than half the population of Iraq, getting maybe twenty percent of the vote is quite a shock.

Rather than running a new election, somebody needs to sit down with the Sunni leaders and explain the math to them--you guys have maybe 20% of the population. Deal with it.

As long as this is all chest thumping and street marches, I'm not too worried.

Tainted Love

Criticism of the war is certainly not treasonous. But as I've written, for those on the Left who criticize the conduct of this war as uniquely inept, I must question their knowledge of war and history as well as their commitment to winning. At some point, ridiculous criticism falls well short of helpful pointers designed to help us win the war.

John O'Sullivan (via Real Clear Politics) put it well:

In other words, many Democrats, their media allies, and others in the permanent Washington establishment are defeatist. A defeatist is not just someone who thinks his side will lose. Sometimes a prediction of defeat is realistic. A defeatist is someone who, at some level, expects to lose, even wants to lose, seeing a quagmire in every oasis. His dissent is therefore tainted.

We are not supposed, of course, to criticize such dissent. No, we have to call it patriotism.

The Left likes to deride patriotism, so why do they insist on being called patriotic when they urge defeat? Their so-called love is indeed tainted.

Now I know I've got to
Run away I've got to
Get away

Or maybe it makes more sense in the original French.

Math Problem

Via Real Clear Politics, Matt Yglesias notes that a data-mining surveillance program with a ten percent error rate will misidentify a heck of a lot more innocent people as terrorists than it will identify actual terrorists as terrorists:

Suppose we had a group of 1,000 people we were interested in monitoring and 900 of them are terrorists. The program will correctly itentify 810 terrorists as terrorists. 10 terrorists will evade its clutches. Out of the 100 non-terrorists, 90 will be correctly identified as innocent, and 10 will be wrongly labeled as terrorists. That seems pretty useful.

But say we have a group of 1,000 suspects and only 100 of them are terrorists. A ten percent shot that a given person is a terrorists doesn't reach the "probable cause" standard, but seeing as how thousands of lives could easily be on the line, maybe we want to relax the burden of proof and run the 1,000 through the program. Well, we'll catch 90 terrorists out of the 100, which is good. But out of the 900 non-terrorists, 90 innocent people are going to get labeled terrorists. In other words, out of the 180 people the program will say are terrorists, we can expect half to actually be innocent. Thus, even though the algorithm only has a very small 10 percent error rate, the overall surveillance program makes a lot of mistakes.

Indeed, if we assume a population 0f 100,000,000 innocent people, 100 actual terrorists, and a 10% error rate, it is really bad. We'd identify 90,000,000 of the 100,000,000 innocent people as actually innocent and miss 10 of the actual terrorists by identifying them in error as innocent.

On the other side we'd identify 10,000,000 0f the innocent as terrorists in error and accurately identify 90 terrorists. If we rounded up these suspects, we'd have darned few terrorists in a pool of 10,000,090 suspects.

This is disturbing and if this is how the program works, it should be halted. And people fired for stupidity at the least even if the program is entirely legal. We'd create hostility by going after innocents and possibly radicalize some percentage of the innocents and therefore recruit more bad guys than we'd catch.

But if we don't arrest these people and instead keep their communications under data-mining attention, the next run will clear 9,000,000 of the innocent and identify 81 of the guilty. Then we have a suspected terrorist population of 1,000,081 where only 81 are real terrorists. This is still too many to identify terrorists by picking up the suspects for questioning.

If we keep running this dwindling population through a data-mining program four more times (and I have no idea what counts as one run through the system--assume there is some definition but that we don't need to know what it is for this exercise), we get down to a suspected terrorist population of 154 where 54 are actual terrorists. Now we're talking. Though of course, our data miners don't know how many terrorists are out there in the population or what the error rate is, so this quantified amount of terrorists and innocent people is purely illustrative.

Also, higher error rates would require more repeats to get a reasonable population for closer scrutiny, but I assume that unless there is outside intelligence to indicate somebody on the guilty list (or somebody on the innocent list for that matter) is planning to bomb something soon, it is possible to keep the data-mining going as long as you like to narrow the target population.

And we have to ask whether identifying 54 terrorists gets us all the cells or only some. If 5-man cells, did we roll up 10 of the 20 cells and miss 9 completely? Or did we get at least one terrorist from each cell meaning we might roll up all of them?

And if we are really focusing on just overseas calls, our starting population is much smaller than my assumption. I still don't see a problem with overseas call monitoring. If one end is outside the country it is not domestic spying in my book, and the law seems clearly on the side of the president. Even the NY Times article saying the net was wider than the president admits (gee, at one leak he doesn't just spill it all?) does not claim anything other than international calls were scrutinized.

I do have problems with domestic monitoring outside of the courts. Perhaps a short-term program after 9-11 is excusable (and I would say yes), but if it goes on years, that is wrong. Congress should have been brought in to make a process for protecting civil liberties with proper oversight. Even a well-run program run without oversight could degenerate into real domestic spying over time. But I still see nothing that indicates this was actually domestic spying no matter how many times NPR calls it domestic spying.

The problem as Yglesias describes it is surely a program killer. But I have to assume that more was done. This just doesn't add up if it is done the way Yglesias describes the math. If it did, I think we'd have read about the 10,000,000 Americans languishing in prison camps in the New York Times by now. Book release or no book release.

Monday, December 26, 2005


I've often written that our troop strength is not the only part of the equation as we try to make sure the new Iraqi government can defeat the terrorist and Baathist enemies. We have to atomize the enemy so they cannot group in large numbers able to pick off isolated government outposts.

It has been a long time since I've heard of any platoon-level enemy attacks. This is comforting but I don't know if it is because the enemy does not conduct them or because the press doesn't report them (perhaps not knowing enough to realize whether it is significant). I'm sure the military tracks this but I am not aware of any metrics in the open.

So when this article mentions the second platoon-sized attack against Iraqi forces in about a week that I've heard of I don't know whether this is a new trend or simply the odd reporting of something that happens on occasion. Indeed, the article I was going to quote and link to for this post no longer mentions the size of the attacking force--which was the information that caught my attention.

Surely, if there were many larger attacks (and even platoon-sized attacks of 30-40 men is fairly small) I'm sure we'd read the press reporting on the results. But even as we draw down our troop levels, we need to make sure that we can react to these attacks and hunt them down until the Iraqis can do it. We must make sure that any enemy effort that masses forces is hit hard to discourage such attacks.

Protecting the Dots

I've never understood how the Left can say that Iraq distracts us from the real war against al Qaeda when the Left doesn't believe we are at war. How else can the Left go nuts over gathering intelligence against the enemy in a legal manner that administrations under both parties have defended for thirty years?

Let's put the issue very simply. The president has the power as commander in chief under the Constitution to intercept and monitor the communications of America's enemies. Indeed, it would be a very weird interpretation of the Constitution to say that the commander in chief could order U.S. forces to kill America's enemies but not to wiretap -- or, more likely these days, electronically intercept -- their communications. Presidents have asserted and exercised this power repeatedly and consistently over the last quarter-century.
What I don't understand is how the Left can decry methods that are much more benign than the methods of their much-loved European models:

Spying on e-mail and cell phone traffic without a warrant. Searching offices and residences without a court order. Locking citizens away for weeks or months without filing charges.

Sound like your worst nightmare about the supposedly lawless Bush administration? Perhaps. But I refer to restrictions on civil liberties that are taking place not in the United States but, in the order in which I cited them, Canada, France and Great Britain.
But of course, if you want to connect the dots to prevent a terrorist attack, you have to know what the dots are (via Real Clear Politics):

The New York Times concedes the story starts with the CIA capture of top al Qaeda operative Abu Zubaydah in Pakistan in March 2002. With Zubaydah's capture came a treasure trove of eavesdropping intelligence sources -- e-mail addresses, cell phone numbers, and personal phone directories. These are prime intelligence sources that may lead to the infamous "dots" often used in the phrase "Why didn't our intelligence agencies 'connect the dots?' "

Of course, if your motive is really to set up the administration to complain about why they didn't connect the dots, then it makes sense to obstruct all legal efforts to identify dots and what other dots they talk to.

Quite the dilemma for our government. We can't wage war if the Left has its way. And we can't spy on our enemies if the Left has its way. I'm reasonably sure the Left must have some other way to react to being attacked other than just surrendering.

But other than just counting on the good will of our enemies to stop killing us, I'll be darned if I can come up with it.

This whole new plastic turkey issue will die out as the Hysterical Americans scream themselves into exhaustion. The issue also supports what I've long asserted: protecting our civil rights in the long run requires us to go on the offensive and defeat our enemies where they begin their journeys to slamming into our buildings. If we sit on the defensive and let them come here, every time they succeed in hitting us, we'll have to ramp up our passive defenses and erode our civil liberties.

Then we'd be just like the much-admired (by our Left) Europeans who refuse to wage war in their own defense.

Instead, I say we spy on the dots and then just kill them.

Saturday, December 24, 2005

Merry Christmas

The President sent his best wishes to the troops who protect us so we may have a happy holiday; and their families whose holidays are burdened with worry for loved ones fighting overseas:

"During the holiday season and throughout the year, we think with pride of the men and women of our armed forces, who are keeping our nation safe and defending freedom around the world," he said. "In Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere, they are protecting our liberty by spreading liberty to others, and all Americans are grateful to our troops for their courage and commitment."

I never forget what our troops and their families sacrifice to protect us. Thank you to all those in uniform who are fighting--and winning--to keep us safe.

And thanks to those who are tracking Santa as volunteers to add to the magical feeling of the season for our children.

Good Enough for Government Work

Strategypage notes the sorry state of the Chinese submarine fleet:

Despite howls in some circles (right up to the four star level), the “threat” from China’s 60 or so submarines seems very limited. Rarely are there more than 4-6 boats at sea at any time, often there are none at all, and a number of units (the Han nuke boats, for example), seem never to go to sea at all.

The article goes on to note that Chinese subs are usually accompanied by surface ships--just in case the sub runs into difficulties and needs a prompt rescue.

As I say everytime I link to a piece about Chinese weaknesses, I don't disagree with a word of it.

But this isn't the whole story. Yes, there is a "but" involved here.

Like I've said, America is far stronger than China. We'd beat them tomorrow if it came to a general war (and the availability of all our Army if it came home from Iraq the next day wouldn't matter one bit in the aerial and naval fight we'd have with China).

But this doesn't mean China couldn't use what it has in a narrow scenario in a way that would challenge our achievement of victory.

Take Taiwan, for example. In a war over Taiwan, China needs to beat Taiwan--not America and Japan. China only needs to stall American and Japanese intervention long enough to defeat Taiwan. Once established on Taiwan, the military problem for America and Japan changes tremendously. From intervening with relatively small forces to bolster an ally defending their homes, we'd have to contemplate invading a defended island with no local forces to carry on the bulk of the fight.

China will want to keep their actions ambiguous for as long as possible as they get their forces set for a blitz to overwhelm the Taiwanese defenders rapidly. The Chinese military will want to complicate American and Japanese decision-making by putting Chinese forces between Taiwan and our forces. If we have to strike first to get past them or risk letting the Chinese get in an effective first strike if we ignore the PLAN to get to Taiwan, we will hesitate as we weigh the risks.

I figure the crappy Chinese subs could be sent to mine Taiwanese ports, lay barrier fields at the northern and southern ends of the strait, and perhaps lay some mines to the east of Taiwan to worry US or Japanese fleet units.

Only a small number of good modern subs could really complicate our tasks. Just putting to sea and remaining undetected will force us to exercise greater caution. Recall the problems the British had in the Falklands War and the wholesale retreat to port by the Argentinian navy when the Belgrano was torpedoed and sunk by a British nuclear sub. Indeed, the British declared a naval excusion zone before their subs reached the region! The Argentinians could hardly determine if the Brits were undersea there or not. So even if all of the best Chinese subs stay in the Taiwan Strait to protect the invasion fleet, we would not know for sure if some were cruising to the east of Taiwan looking to put a missile into one of our carriers.

And China is getting the modern submarines it needs--and on a crash basis it seems. The PLAN will have its eight Kilos by next year.

The threat from China's submarine fleet isn't that they'd defeat us, but that they will delay us until it is too late.

Friday, December 23, 2005

Brigade Combat Teams

The military is planning to have fewer brigade combat teams than I had thought. The Guard will lose 26,000, the Reserves 4,000, and the active Army 4,000 (one fewer brigade):

"The Army decided to put an emphasis on quality, with the best equipment we can provide for," which, the official said, would result in a reduced risk to the individual soldier.

At the same time, the Army has embarked on a plan to increase the combat power of both the active-duty Army and the Army National Guard by creating "modular" brigades that include more modern equipment.

The Army had hoped to create 43 to 48 of these brigades, an increase over the current 33 brigades. But with the planned budget cuts the Army will settle on 42 brigades, the official said. Thirty-four of the "modular" brigades were planned for the Guard, up from the current 15 Brigade Combat Teams or "enhanced" brigades. Now, under the cost-saving plan, the Guard would be held to 28 modular brigades.

This misleads though by implying that the Guard is only composed of 15 enhanced separate brigades. There are also 8 divisions in the Guard (which normally have three brigades before the modular brigade redesign--though I think we now have fewer than 24 brigades in the 8 divisions).

And there is the Ranger regiment, too, in the active Army.

Still, instead of 43-48 active brigade combat teams there will be 42 (plus Rangers) and 28 Guard brigade combat teams instead of 34 planned. The Reserves have no brigade combat teams (although they do have an infantry battalion, 100-442, descended from the Nisei regiment of Japanese-Americans in World War II that falls under a Guard brigade. Something I did not know until recently).

The Army's active component will still be larger than it was in 2000. The Guard will be smaller than that point but will have more brigades able to deploy more rapidly. The old divisions were deep reserves that would have needed a year of training and equipping before deploying. The active component will also have a higher proportion of the combat brigades available in the Total Force.

In general, I prefer quality over quantity. It is too easy to overlook quality and fool yourself into thinking you have good troops. It is easy to focus only on numbers and use those to judge quality. But our brigade total is actually going down if you assume 33 Army active brigades under the old organization and 42 Guard brigades (24 in the eight divisions, 15 enhanced separate brigades, and three other brigades). Now we will have 70 brigades--five fewer--though they will be of higher quality and readiness. The main advantage numbers-wise is that we will have more on active duty making it less likely we'll need to call up Guard units, I think.

We also have to assume Iraq quiets down and nothing else requires a long commitment of 20 brigades or so in combat.

We'll have to wait until February to see the next Quadrennial Defense Review for details.

Thursday, December 22, 2005

You Can Go Home Again

I try to remember that nations will wax and wane in their enthusiasm to fight the war on terror. Only America is really critical and even we will fight the war with varying levels of commitment as we did in the Cold War. But as long as we fight, others will have the chance to grow tired and fall away while others will join or act more aggressively with us. So I try not to get upset when a country checks out. They can come back.

Turkey may be coming back.

Winds of Change notes that the United States and Turkey are in discussions; and that the US is reminding Turkey that Iran is a threat to Turkey on the nuclear, terror, and religious fronts. We would like Turkey's cooperation if we need to base military force out of Turkish territory (quoting a Turkish publication):

During his recent visit to Ankara, CIA Director Porter Goss reportedly brought three dossiers on Iran to Ankara. Goss is said to have asked for Turkey’s support for Washington’s policy against Iran’s nuclear activities, charging that Tehran had supported terrorism and taken part in activities against Turkey. Goss also asked Ankara to be ready for a possible US air operation against Iran and Syria.

I noted earlier in the year that we spoke with the Turks about making sure we could use Incirlik as a logistics hub for operations east of that base.

I've also noted that I'd like the unfortunate alliance failure prior to the Iraq War (prompted it seems by a mistaken notion that since they were all Moslems how could Turkey cooperate with America against another Moslem state?) to be repaired:

As the Turks soak in the fact that a lot of neighbors don't really like them, I think the fact that we remain a friend will count for a lot again. The European Union doesn't seem to want to let Turkey in despite the long negotiations that have pretended to bring that day closer. Iran is no friend. Armenia? Get real. The Arab states don't like them. The Kurds? Less than happy. Greece? See Armenia. Even the Bulgarians aren't exactly friendly.

And of course, there is Russia. I've lost track of the number of wars that Russia has fought with Turkey over the years.

We have common enemies and should act like allies to address those threats.

Civil War

The votes in Iraq aren't even officially counted, yet since the likely losers in the December 15th elections are making threats, some are already writing off the whole democracy thing in Iraq. The anti-war side says Iraqis don't think of themselves as Iraqis but as Sunnis, Shias, or Kurds. The Iraqis will never get together and therefore a bloody civil war is inevitable.

Can we look back to our own Civil War for a little perspective?

After our bloodiest war on a per capita basis and darned near the most expensive period, we occupied the South for ten years during Reconstruction with military government.

As a result of this civil war, Southerners voted Democratic for pretty close to 100 years rather than vote for Republican Yankees.

African Americans voted Republican for close to 70 years out of gratitude for the Republican Party's role in freeing the slaves at a terrible cost in lives and treasure.

And in 1898, more than 30 years after the Civil War, lingering divisions led the Confederate General Joe Wheeler to volunteer for the Spanish-American War to show that Southerners were loyal Americans.

His service was accepted and he led American troops into battle on Cuba where he famously got caught up in the moment of victory and forgot where he was:

Maj. Gen. "Fighting Joe" Wheeler led a division of V Corps. During the Civil War he commanded the cavalry of the Confederate Army of Tennessee. During the charge up San Juan Hill, Wheeler forgot where he was and, as the Spanish ran from their positions, he yelled, "Come on! We've got the damn Yankees on the run!"

After our bloodletting, it took quite some time to heal the wounds of the Civil War, with thought patterns not instantly changed to a single cooperative vision of being an American. Voting patterns and thought patterns imprinted by the Civil War did not vanish in a moment.

And remember the over-heated Blue state partisans' talk of secession, rebellion, and exile to Canada or Europe that broke out after the November election here? Results that many fruitcakes still insist were "stolen"?

So have patience with Iraqi democracy. Give them a chance to vent and then see what they do. They endured much bloodshed under Saddam and the terrorists in Iraq are adding to the anger. And then give the Iraqis time to build a democracy. As long as they are advancing, don't demand instant perfection. After all, don't opponents of the war like to say democracy must come from Iraqis themselves and not be imposed?

Let's not dwell too much on whether they get along like a Vermont village council but whether they accept losing and giving up power as the result of elections.

And for goodness sake, don't show so much glee at faltering Iraqi steps toward freedom. How long did it take Chicago to get honest elections? (Or am I being optimistic?)

Contract Security

This is more a reminder to myself. On occasion when I write about troop numbers, I've included contract security personnel in the total. At one time I remember (or think I remember) the number of 20,000 for these personnel.

Strategypage recently quoted the total contract personnel in Iraq as 20,000 which includes 6,000 security personnel.

So I don't know whether the 20,000 figure used to be right; whether reports mistakenly assumed all 20,000 were security; or whether (horrors) I'm simply remembering wrong.

In any case, 6,000 contract security personnel provide services in Iraq right now.

Tents and Boots

Harsh criticism of the war that seems unrelated to reality may be the result of perceived personal insult rather than any higher moral authority or strategic insight. As petty as this is, it must be addressed as a real drag on war support.

Victor Hanson writes (via Real Clear Politics) that it may be better to stroke the egos of such potential critics by bringing them on board for consultations:

We must never forget age-old considerations such as pride, honor and status. Washington is a Darwinian place where the ambitious arrive, leaving friends, family and birthplace behind to calibrate their new self-worth by the degree to which they are considered important — and needed.

So, next time, it might be wiser to give a holler to those like a brooding John Murtha, Richard Clarke or Wesley Clarke — even if their advice would probably be unsound. No Cabinet job necessary — just an invite to come down to schmooze at the White House rather than having them scream at it from the outside.

As a learned professor, he puts this much more nicely than a couple of cruder pieces of advice that say the same thing:

Better to have them inside the tent pissing out than outside the tent pissing in--even though they couldn't pour piss out of a boot if the instructions were written on the heel.

Probably sound advice.

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

The Usual Social Order

The Chinese have clamped down hard on the people of Dongzhou after the Chinese authorities violently suppressed the protests against land seizure:

Two weeks after a protest that culminated in gunfire and bloodshed, the rebellious farmers and fishermen of Dongzhou have been reduced to submission. Authorities have sealed off the seaside village and flooded its streets and lanes with police patrols, residents said, and an unknown number of men have been summoned by a knock on the door and hauled away for interrogation.

And the Chinese government is mightily worried over this and other incidents:

The Public Security Ministry has acknowledged that the number of riots has risen sharply in China, reaching more than 70,000 in 2004 and developing into a major concern for the government. But the violence in Dongzhou stood out because police used their guns. Most of the recent uprisings have been suppressed by riot police armed with tear gas and truncheons. Members of the People's Armed Police, who carry automatic weapons, rarely have been deployed.

You might want to keep in mind all the discussions over necessary troop strength in Iraq to suppress a rebellion. For serious resistance, security forces of 2% of the population to be controlled are necessary.

Right now, for isolated outbursts, the Chinese authorities can move in police, PAP, or even regular troops to flood the areas in unrest with enough force density to smother unarmed resistance.

But consider the problems Peking would have if 1.2 billion Chinese tired of communist rule: 2% of 1.2 billion is 24 million security forces.

China has 4 million PLA army troops (active and reserve) and People's Armed Police (formerly the foot infantry units of the PLA. I don't know how many police they have but if we assume 0.5% (twice the ratio of the US), the Chinese can add 6 million police.

Ten million total security forces won't cut it if even half the Chinese people raise the banner of revolt in a serious way.

No wonder the communist rulers are concerned.

Immune to Shame

A while back, I linked to a Victor Hanson piece that lamented the idea that some could question the morality of overthrowing Saddam's regime.

Hanson has another piece out on it and he hits my feelings on the subject exactly:

There can be legitimate disagreement about whether America’s effort in Iraq will work, and whether it is worth our sacrifices. But that argument is one of efficacy, not morality. To those critics who babble endlessly about U.S. hegemony and imperialism, we should say simply: Shame! Shame on you for aiding those who blow up schools and murder women with purple fingers, in places that for the first time in modern memory do not have a tyrant’s portrait leering down from their walls.

I go back to the Kosovo War on this when I say that it is possible to disagree on a policy without that policy being immoral. I disagreed with intervening in Kosovo. I believed it was a European problem that Europe could have solved--even if not as well as we could. With all the talk of getting out of Iraq to let the Iraqis fight their battles, you'd think we could have done that with the rich Europeans who know a thing or two about war. But as much as I believed this was a European problem, I never believed that President Clinton waged an immoral war. Not once did I think that. The Serbs deserved to lose. (And I'll say that I think we were lucky that the Serbs cracked under our not terribly effective aerial campaign.)

Much of what the anti-war side calls dissent is simply claiming we are evil for fighting to free Iraqis. I think that is shameful. They don't think it is shameful and probably never will. Under these circumstances, I see little room to debate them.

I'll settle for just winning in Iraq and regrouping to debate the next issue with our loyal opposition.

So We Agree: Torture is Bad

I've said it before, but I don't think Saddam's crack legal defense team is thinking things all the way through when they complain bitterly of unclean underwear and the lack of exercise opportunities. Kind of puts several hundred thousand dead at his orders into stark perspective, don't you think?

And now this complaint:

"I want to say here, yes, we have been beaten by the Americans and we have been tortured," Saddam said, before gesturing to his seven co-defendants around him, "one by one."

So it is stipulated, then, that torture is bad. Hmm, how might this possibly apply to the current trial of Saddam?

Can we just skip ahead right to the trial phase where we shoot Saddam?

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Paroled to Europe

In the spirit displayed by the Iranian president/madman that the Europeans should provide land for Jews in Europe if they feel so guilty about the Holocaust (and that didn't happen either--though it should have, the mullahs helpfully explain), I suggest that if Europeans are so upset about Saddam's removal that they provide Saddam his own little kingdom in Europe. When there is room in Europe for tiny principalities, why not a little triangle of Sunni heaven carved out from the border region between France and Belgium? Saddamaco? Saddambourg? Saddamenstein?

Really. Saddam could be tried and convicted in Iraq and then exiled to his little kite-flying triangle with a suspended sentence and the promise of execution should he ever leave. Baathists who don't want to risk justice in Iraq could join him. Europeans should be happy that the death penalty won't be imposed on their favorite business partner.

And any Lefty who makes more than one comment in public recalling the happy days of Saddam's Iraq shall be exiled to live under the tender rule of a man they believe created such a secular heaven on earth. Make an ignorant comment about how Iraqi women had equal rights in Saddam's Iraq and you're off to your new home and enlightened despot faster than you can say "Halliburton."

And think of it! With one slip of the tongue, Alec Baldwin might finally make good his pledge to leave for Europe! CNN could open a bureau there to relive the glory days of their Iraq reporting! And France and Russia could finally get those Saddam-era contracts fulfilled! Hans Blix could even go inspecting again (with a similar chance of success). Jimmy Carter, naturally, would certify Saddam's elections. And just imagine the joy and trouser tents that would sprout on the Nobel committee when they realize they could give Saddam their peace prize!

All human shields from early 2003 would of course be sent Saddamland, too. You never can tell when America might strike! Sleep in those orphanages, shields! Aging hippies will halt our JDAMs when unfortunate tots will not.

Europe would guarantee Saddam's good behavior, right?

Wait. What am I thinking? In twenty years, Saddam would conquer Europe. Who would fight him?

Oh well. Like most of my fantasies, this one won't happen either. Though unlike most of my fantasies, Meg Ryan is not involved in this one. But that's perhaps more than you want to know about me.

And No Ho Chi Minh Trail Either

Iraq is not like Vietnam (and my two cents here) other than the fact that upright bipeds shot at our troops in Vietnam and shoot at us in Iraq, too.

One major difference is that the enemy is not supported by a major power able to send them all manner of advanced and heavy weapons. Up until now, the Iraqi enemies have made use of the mountains of ammunition buried all over Iraq left over from the Saddam regime. And according to Strategypage, the enemy is Iraq is running out of Saddam's arsenal to make bombs:

Terrorists in Iraq appear to be running short of pilfered (from Saddam’s ammo dumps) artillery shells and explosives. Home made explosives are increasingly being used for roadside bombs. ...

The resort to improvised explosives for their bombs means the bombs have less power, and cause fewer injuries. The explosives shortage is largely a result of two years of American and Iraqi troops tracking down Saddam’s lost shells and explosives.

I had mentioned long ago that it seemed like guarding the border wasn't a high priority task for us since the foreign jihadis are few in number and because the enemy did not need a huge supply source to keep fighting because of the locally found arms. This is counter-intuitive, really, since cutting off insurgents from outside support is important as a general rule.

But not in Iraq's case. Guarding the border to stop a small number of men that our troops couldn't distinguish from locals and small amounts of weapons to fill in gaps in what was available locally would have been a waste of troops better utilized elsewhere.

It is a good sign that the enemy is not apparently being supplied from Iran or Syria in quantities large enough to prevent the enemy from resorting to the anarchists' cookbook for IEDs.

As Iraqi forces come on line and border posts are built, they may well be able to put a real crimp in the enemy if the enemy ever has to rely on imported arms and ammunition.


Moscow's quest to create the New Soviet Man was more than just pursuit of a state of mind, it seems. Stalin wanted super-men with communist thinking and ape endurance created by cross-breeding humans with apes:

THE Soviet dictator Josef Stalin ordered the creation of Planet of the Apes-style warriors by crossing humans with apes, according to recently uncovered secret documents.

I would be remiss not to take the opportunity to note that the apes would probably have increased both characteristics in their communist partners. And second, what is it with Russians and mating with animals? As I like to remind my friends, beastiality is always wrong.

But I digress. In this case, Stalin wanted soldiers:

According to Moscow newspapers, Stalin told the scientist: "I want a new invincible human being, insensitive to pain, resistant and indifferent about the quality of food they eat."

Typically, the Russians are way behind us. They wanted invincible human warriors insensitive (to pain--and anything else for that matter) and indifferent to the quality of their food?

We call them "Marines."

Bleating of the Lambs

Long silent in the face of administration reports to them, various legislators are now screaming that the NSA authorization to listen to the communications of those suspected of involvement with the jihadis when they end or originate in America is unlawful and an outrage.

Certainly, nobody could argue that the members of Congress have been silenced by the administration. They complain about anything and everything regardless of the merits of the complaint. So why was this so-called gross constitutional violation that some members of the loyal opposition feel is an impeachable offensive left unmentioned all this time?

Wasn't a single member of Congress who now professes to be shocked ready to risk the Bushstapo visit in the middle of the night to speak truth to power? Are they really saying that a news report timed to coincide with a book publishing is what it took to get their courage and conviction out of the blind trust they were placed in after 9-11? Or is their outrage over what they knew about all along and considered just fine newly manufactured at the urging of their base?

Unless there is something more out there that indicates that the government listened in on domestic communications outside of the law, I don't see what the problem is. And given the silence of the lambs these last few years when they knew about the program, their sudden bleating is not persuasive to me that there is any "there" there.

And I say this as someone who is very aware that we must be vigilant to ensure that our civil liberties are not needlessy eroded to fight this war. Broad powers are never justified when focused and sunsetted provisions will work.

This seems properly narrow and with sufficient notice to Congress to pass muster.

Next plastic turkey, please.

Monday, December 19, 2005

No Miranda Rights

Remember the terrorist in Britain who was arrested, and as he was carted off he spouted off:

"I have rights!" Ramzi Mohammed wailed from

He hated the West and plotted to kill us; and when caught, demanded we treat him under our laws. Terrorists like this man wants to terrorize a society that they assume will protect them. And amazingly enough, many in our society do want to treat him as worthy of all our society's protections designed to keep a too-powerful state from oppressing an honest man.

I find it maddeningly stupid that some of us think we should allow our enemies to kill us while we have to slap the cuffs on them, read them their rights, and pay for a lawyer to seek a loophole to get them out on the streets again.

This doesn't venerate our principles or prove we are better than them--it threatens our principles by making it too hard to defeat our enemies. The basic problem is that as long as we seek a law enforcement solution we have little choice but to operate within our laws. We must do this because we are better than our enemies. But also because a government used to fighting enemies contrary to our laws will ultimately treat citizens in the same manner. So if we see the fight as a law enforcement job, we risk our freedoms by trying to fit those who fight way outside its boundaries as if they are mere common criminals seeking to be parasites off of our society and not mass murderers trying to destroy our society.

Playing defense against these enemies under our criminal rules is a mistake. The weapons these thugs might use expand in their lethality every year, and we can't risk them getting the worst weapons. The key is to accept that enemies who do not accept our principles and try to destroy our society must not enjoy the protections that our principles offer our own people. The key is to see this as a war where we must destroy our enemy, not convince twelve angry men to send them to prison. This is a war, and we must target the thugs abroad and at home with wartime rules.

Part of the problem, of course, is that these individual nutballs are supported by nations that would love to help individuals kill lots of us. Absent this state support that allows thugs to kill on a mass scale, perhaps we could treat them as we treat common criminals.
Amazingly enough, we extend similar attitudes to the governments that support terrorists. If you believe that thinking about enjoying our society's rights is restricted to individual terrorists, look upon how Iran under the rule of the murderous mullahs expects to be treated:

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's denial of the Holocaust is a matter for academic discussion and the West should be more tolerant of his views, Iran's foreign ministry spokesman said on Sunday.

They have rights, you see. Who are we to get upset at a little talk of eliminating Jews? I mean, shouldn't we calmly debate which countries should be wiped from the map? It is an academic question, right? We should grant the mullahs the toleration that we claim is essential and that we're always prattling on about, right? We discuss warrantless search warrants and they discuss how and when Jews and other assorted infidels should die and in what order. What's the difference? Where's our tolerance?

The amazing thing is that many in the West are just as ready to grant nutball regimes the tolerance we'd extend to Canada in a debate over lumber just as readily as they demand we extend our legal protections to individual terrorists who try to kill us.

We must treat this struggle as a war and defeat our enemies without making our job impossible by treating terrorists as presumed innocent and treating terrorist regimes as just another member of the diverse community of nations. Ultimately, only by destroying the state supporters of this terrorism can we make the problem one that our law enforcement personnel and courts can address.
Iran does not deserve the benefit of our rules designed to respect rational governments. Iran's mullahs aren't even playing the same game let alone using the same rules.

Are we so stupid as a society that we don't even think our way of life is worthy of defending? Will we love our principles to death? Our death?

Sunday, December 18, 2005

Full-Court Press

I am pleased beyond words that our President continues to hammer on our reasons to fight in Iraq and our need for victory.

This emphasis is long overdue and must continue until we win.

Democracy, Realism, and National Interest

Mad Minerva notes that America's policy toward China and Taiwan does not reflect our ideals of promoting democracy. That is, we persist in stating our policy is that there is but one China even as Taiwan's development of democracy on its side of the strait makes a one-China policy that risks Peking controlling both China and Taiwan rather at odds with democracy.

This is true. Yet pursuit of democracy cannot be done without heed to circumstances. In the Cold War, with a powerful Soviet Union to face, democracy could only be pursued in safer areas or gingerly.

Since 9-11, we have pursued democracy more forcefully but still circumstances compel us to bypass hard targets such as Saudi Arabia whose oil exports cannot be replaced if the Saudis collapse under too much pressure. Likewise, Taiwan can be bolstered as long as we don't rub China's nose in the fact that in practice we support Taiwanese self determination.

In both cases, very bad things could happen if we openly and directly supported democracy and freedom as the most important goal for Taiwan and Saudi Arabia. And if those bad things happen, pursuing democracy anywhere will be impossible as economic dislocation followed major war or the loss of Saudi Arabia's oil.

As long as our goal remains democracy and freedom, we can look for opportunities to expand freedom and democracy. In 1988, had we insisted on a unified Germany under West German control and the extension of NATO to the Baltic States of the USSR, we would have had a nuclear war on our hands with Moscow. But wait a few years and the way east was opened at no cost.

So we must wait for an opportunity to reconcile our goal of freedom and support of democracy with the reality that China is unlikely to just go along with formal Taiwanese independence and recognition. In retrospect, we probably should have recognized Taiwan in 1992 after the Soviet Union collapsed and before China could attempt to make good on its threat to invade Taiwan.

But right now, if we recognize Taiwan, China could scrape up an invasion force and make Taiwan pay a price for their declaration. At worst, China might win.

In the future, we may have an opportunity to exploit Chinese difficulties to expand freedom just as we exploited the collapse of the Soviet Union. If China faces inward and loses temporarilyt the will to control or the means to fight, we should take that chance to settle the Taiwan question by formally recognizing the island as a nation.

Certainly, if China attacks Taiwan, we should recognize Taiwan as part of the price China will have to pay for upsetting the delicate balance.

But above all I try to remember that our national interest is paramount when deciding what we must do. Not to put too much on our future, but if America goes down, there will be little democracy spreading. Our national interest requires more democracies--but not at all costs and not always right now. And I don't feel guilty about this concession to reality one bit.

Birds of Prey

The F-22 Raptor is now officially in our arsenal and ready to fight. (And the Tomcat is heading out the door, BTW.)

For years, I've consistently called for enough fighters to equip two wings with spares and trainers and it looks like that's what we'll get. We just don't need the numbers the Air Force has lobbied for, but we do need a hedge against an uncertain future. This plane will be incredible:

"If we go to war tomorrow, the Raptor will go with us," Gen. Ronald Keys, head of the Air Force's Air Combat command, said in a statement. He said an initial group of 12 was ready for combat worldwide or for homeland defense.

The squadron may swing through the Pacific next year, probably flying from Guam and elsewhere, though no decision has been made about where to best "showcase" it, Keys said in a later teleconference with reporters.

With the Soviet Union gone, defense analysts have cast the F-22 as the weapon of choice for any future U.S. conflict with China, for instance over Taiwan.

The Chinese will not stand a chance in a campaign against these planes plugged into our entire system of surveillance, training, command and control, and technology. The only way these planes will be lost in significant numbers will be if the enemy can hit them while on the tarmac. We'll need to make sure air defense systems on Guam and in Japan are up to the task.

I don't want a lot of those planes since defense dollars really are limited despite all the zeros in the budget (but that's how we fight with such success and with such low casualties). Right now we'll have fewer than 190. But I'm glad the Raptor is coming on line anyway.

Our potential enemies are not happy.

Saturday, December 17, 2005

High Tide

The population in Iraq is shifting toward our side all across the spectrum of opinion.

When we first invaded Iraq and overthrew the Baathist regime of Saddam, we faced a mixed reaction from the population. The Kurds were happy that Saddam was deposed and were pro-American; the Shias were happy that Saddam was deposed (and yes, they did throw flowers as our troops marched in) but were suspicious of America after the betrayal of 1991 and many were fairly neutral, watching the fight; the Sunnis who weren't favored by the Baathists were unsure of what to believe, generally distrustful of the American effort that elevated the Shia, and watched the fight; and the Baathists were angry with America and determined to regain power.

I noted early in the insurgency that we needed to keep the pro-Americans happy; move the neutrals to our side; move the hostiles to neutrality; and keep that process going (sorry, but I'm not up to wading through my old archives right now).

During the first stage of the insurgency, American forces fought the Baathists and gradually ground them down, capturing Saddam in December 2003 and watching the Baathists dwindle through February 2004. The Kurds kept their enclave safe and watched, still pro-American. But the Shias were not fully with us despite our welcome removal of Saddam.

But the fight heated up in March and exploded in April with the jihadi revolt in Fallujah and the Sadr-led Shia revolt. The military forces raised from Iraqis for a more benign security environment largely collapsed in this twin offensive. We were on our own to fight the jihadis in Fallujah where we eventually surrounded the city and left it an enemy enclave, and the Sadr people who we defeated in a careful campaign that did not move Shias from neutrality to hostility. The Baathists and jihadis counted on this to make their fight to restore a Sunni dictatorship a national resistance to American occupation. This enemy offensive neither hurt us like the Sepoy Mutiny nor broke our morale like the Tet Offensive. We endured and went on the offensive. Yet as fighting raged, the Shias routinely blamed America for the terror bombings. The spring of 2004 was the period I had some worries that the enemy could carry out their own attitude shift of the people to their side. But by June 2004, I thought I could see the seeds of the enemy defeat as the jihadis with outside support began to alienate the Shias and then even the Sunnis.

We revamped our training and began to train Iraqis for serious counter-insurgency. As the jihadis bombed and attacked, we began to see the Shias stop blaming us for terror attacks and build anger against the jihadis and the Sunni Baathists who allied with the killers. The Shias moved toward us and joined us in fighting the enemy enthusiastically. From neutrality they became our solid allies. The August 2004 Sadr second revolt was put down with the support of the Shia clerics, and movement in attitudes continued.

By November 2004 when we finally retook Fallujah, the atrocities and depraved cruelty of the jihadi enclave seems to have been a reality check for the Sunnis. Even as the refugees of the defeated Sunnis spread havoc in Mosul and elsewhere in December 2004, when Iraqis went to the polls in January 2005, the Shias were clearly with us; the Kurds remained pro-American; and the Sunnis stood aside and did not vote. By October, the Sunnis tested the waters in areas under government and Coalition control where they voted. Against the proposed constititon to be sure--but they voted where they could. And the growing tide of Iraqi units trained and equipped well enough and manned by recruits eager to defend their country were key to creating this security along with American units that were freed for offensive action in al Anbar province.

Yet through it all, our press painted a picture of disaster following disaster, convincing more and more Americans that we were losing when we have been winning:

There is just an insane amount of handwringing today, all driven by the deluge of round-the-clock media coverage. News organizations can't get the cameras to the flames in Iraq fast enough and day after day the public reacts emotionally to the images put before them through the lens of a soda straw. How many times have we heard people come back from Iraq and talk about how different reality is from what they've seen on TV and read in the papers?

And how many times have we heard members of the press talk about their duty to inform and educate the citizenry about issues? In the matter of Iraq, that means news organizations have an obligation to their readers and viewers to put events in perspective and provide historical context. They have failed the public miserably in that obligation.

The public bears its share of the burden, too. As Thomas Sowell wrote earlier this week: "Utter ignorance of history enables any war with any casualties to be depicted in the media as an unmitigated disaster."

What seems clear now, after the December elections, is that this earlier refusal by the Sunnis to vote was not because they had moved into the anti-American column but because they were still in the neutral range--too afraid to join the new government:

The biggest story of this election, apart from its obvious milestone character, is the staggeringly high Sunni turnout. In October we were being assured, by the usual experts, that the passage of the constitutional referendum was a disaster, another of many final nails in the coffin of Iraqi democracy: The Sunnis would now never participate in the electoral process. It turns out that they did participate, and they did so with eager anticipation that through the new democratic process their voices could be heard and their interests protected.

It also turns out that one of the major reasons Sunnis had not participated before was fear that they would be killed by terrorists and insurgents. This time, with 160,000 American troops and thousands of newly trained Iraqi soldiers and police, there was a sense of security. "Last time, if you voted, you died," Abdul Jabbar Mahdi, a Sunni, told the Times's Dexter Filkins. "God willing, this election will lead to peace." As Filkins notes, "Comments from Sunni voters, though anecdotal, suggested that a good number of them had stayed away from the polls in January not because they were disenchanted with the democratic process, but because they were afraid of being killed."

So now, with the fear factor reduced, we apparently have the sight of the non-Baathist Sunnis at least moving from the neutral column to the pro-government column. Not necessarily pro-ruling party but in favor of participating in the democratic process to determine the legitimate government under the rules set by the government.

There are still the Baathists who must be split and brought in or defeated; the foreign jihadis who are small in number but the most bloody minded; and the remaining Shias who control militias and may look to Iran for help in creating a minority-mullah regime contrary to the wishes of the Iraqi majority. I think we have not heard the last of Moqtada al Sadr on this front.

Victory in Iraq will be shock to many who have bought the myths of Iraq hook, line, and sinker.

So this election may very well represent another step in moving the elements of the various blocks of the population away from resistance and towards supporting the government. I'm not going to be so bold as to predict a sudden collapse of the enemy right now. But I wouldn't rule it out, either.

It is truly amazing that some in our country who have been biting their tongues to avoid shouting out their anti-war sentiments deep in their hearts have chosen this moment in time to go public with their true views.

No Enemy on the Horizon

As our Navy prepares for the next generation of carriers, I've worried that these behemoths are becoming big targets for a networked enemy; and that they will be less useful for our own networked Navy.

This report on work on the new CVN-21 shows we are going super-carriers bigger and better than our current ships. The platform-centric assumptions of the past have not been adapted to what the future seems to be bringing to naval warfare.

When a network allows firepower to be focused on a single point from widely dispersed small platforms, why build such a large platform as CVN-21? We don't need to launch all the assets needed to strike a single target from the same platform.

When an enemy may use their own network to strike us, why would we put such a lucrative target out to sea when dispersed platforms would complicate their targeting decisions and make any enemy success a small blow to our networked fleet?

Clearly, our Navy must not see any enemy on the horizon for the next fifty years able to fight us with a network. If the Navy is right, these carrier platforms will indeed be the ultimate weapon as they have been for us over the last 65 years.

Or perhaps the Navy sees a role for the ultimate strike platform in a diffuse and networked Navy. Maybe this ship is more resilient to damage than I expect it to be.

But I worry that the Navy is failing to adapt to network-centric naval warfare even as I hope the Navy is correct on whatever assumptions are leading the brass to launch this ultimate aircraft carrier.

Friday, December 16, 2005

Silence of the Lambs

We already have laws against torture and we've agreed under treaty not to torture.

But notwithstanding these commitments, people in Europe, the Left, and the human rights industry routinely condemn us for torturing and abusing unlawful combatants swept up off the battlefields of the war on terror.

Somehow, this new law that prohibits torture and other lesser abuses (no more panties on heads or barking dogs, I guess) will reassure those who scream about gulags. Said Senator McCain:

We've sent a message to the world that the United States is not like the terrorists," McCain said earlier as he sat next to Bush in the Oval Office. "We have no grief for them, but what we are is a nation that upholds values and standards of behavior and treatment of all people, no matter how evil or bad they are. And I think this will help us enormously in winning the war for the hearts and minds of people throughout the world in the war on terror."

Now, I respect the senator. I think he truly wants us to win. I trust him even if I disagree on something.

But I think his reasoning is ridiculous. Who really believes that the Left, the Eurotrash, the media, and the human rights aparatchiki will mute their constant criticism because we have--again--outlawed torture? Terrorists will still scream about imaginary torture and the usual suspects who condemn America as easily as they breathe will not remain silent.

If there really are people out there who don't know we are better than the terrorists, I have no use for their hearts and minds.

The really funny thing about this, is that a measure intended to protect detainees will probably just get more killed. After all, under international law we are fully justified in shooting unlawful combatants on the spot. If we can't pressure them with unpleasant methods--not torture them--into talking, why hold them? Why risk their escape or release and return to the war?

Wait. Listen closely. I think I just heard our rules of engagement being edited.

I Was a Teenaged Killbot

Well, a twenty-six-year-old Killbot, anyway. Since I went to Fort Wood for Army basic training in 1988--before the sensitive nineties presumably cancelled the robo-training temporarily.

It must be true since Jane Fonda says so (my "thanks" to Winds of Change for this link):

"Hanoi Jane" Fonda is claiming that ever since Vietnam, U.S. troops have been trained to commit atrocities against innocent civilians as a matter of military policy.

"Starting with the Vietnam War we began training soldiers differently," the anti-American actress says in an email to the Washington Post.

Fonda claims she learned of the policy switch in "secret meetings" she had with military psychologists "who were really worried about what was happening to our combat personnel."

One doctor, she insists, told her U.S. troops had been deliberately trained to be "killing machines."

Who knew? I thought I was being trained to kill the enemy and keep myself alive through repeating shooting drills until it was second nature. I must have blanked out the Zippo and thatch-roof drills.

Reacting effectively instead of freezing in place is the goal of this training. I never had to put this training to the test, and as a signal guy it is unlikely I would have even if I'd even been sent off to war (which I was not). But I did get a sense of the usefulness of this approach in basic training. We focused on exactly two things every day--shooting and physical conditioning. Everything else was gravy. We learned lots of stuff, but qualifying on the M-16 and passing the PT test were the only things that really mattered.

One of the tasks we practiced over and over was clearing a jam. SPORTS was the acronym. Slap the magazine, Pull the charging handle, Observe the chamber, Release the charging handle, Tap the forward assist, and Squeeze the trigger (and this is from memory--I haven't fired a weapon since 1993). In combat, this is something a soldier needs to do fast and automatically. My weapon jammed only once in basic--during my firing qualification. This was the only one that counted and so it was very tense for all. I needed to pass to get out and the drill sergeants could only observe--not intervene to help. All through basic my marksmanship was just barely enough to qualify. So close that I received some extra attention to make sure on the day I had to do it for the record I would pass.

Like I said, my weapon jammed during qualification. I can only imagine the worry of the drill sergeants who could only watch helplessly as I stopped firing. But even though I'd never had to clear a jam while actually firing, my training kicked in. I went through the steps rapidly and coolly, cleared the jam, and even though I left a couple rounds in the dust, I did not panic and try to reload the magazine. Nor did I point my weapon anywhere but downrange as I worked. I reacted as trained.

When I resumed firing, I simply passed over the long-range targets that I'd miss anyway to pick off the closer ones as they popped up. I passed with about my average score. Training was the difference. I reacted robotically, you might say.

But I honestly can't remember the atrocity unit of instruction. But Jane says it's true so who am I to argue? I was a trained killbot programmed to commit atrocities.

So next time somebody wants to send me a hostile email, remember that I might just kill your chickens, ravage your women, slaughter your kinfolk, and burn down your hut (or mix and match to suit my mood). And then I'll put the 3 of clubs in your napalm-blistered fingers (I assume the better cards are reserved for actual combat troops, but that I'd qualify for something above the combat service support troops' "2's").

And as Jane says, who could blame me? I'm just another poor victim of the great big green killing machine.