Friday, June 30, 2006

Times DeSelect

Enough is enough.

You know, it's been fun (in a gruesome sort of way, of course) slamming the New York Times for its recent disclosures that harm our national security, but with the talk of withdrawing White House press credentials, and boycotts, and cancelling subscriptions, how about if we who blog just ignoring the Times?

Heck, they already put some of their columnists behind their fire wall, depriving us of this target-rich environment (and this isn't just a reference to Frank Rich, may he rot in obscurity). How many bloggers live poorer lives because Maureen Dowd is safely beyond their reach?

Let's just go all the way and stop linking and commenting on them completely. Heck, I've made my point often enough--I don't like the New York Times. Is yet another post about how the Times seems to hate America going to do anything but bounce the rubble? And the few good elements of the paper, like Mr. Burns who lives for covering foreign stories with integrity, might just go elsewhere if enough people with real traffic just ignore the Times.

So I, a small blogger who got a lot of ranting mileage out of the New York Times (and I've gotten traffic from links from the Times), hereby vow not to link to the New York Times until that paper decides it has a stake in America winning the Long War.

I realize that Hell may freeze over sooner than that.

UPDATE: Heh. Ok, this is pretty funny. Received the following email:

How dare you? WE are due our links. You won't survive without US!! You link to US or face extinshun! WE are the EDITORS of the NYT. What do you know, you pipsqueak!?

It linked to this single-post blog. As a bonus, the post appears to pre-date my post it links to by several weeks! This really is the MSM!

I've never inspired a blog before to my knowledge. I just always kind of assumed if I did it would involve Swedish models ...


Krauthammer reminds us that amnesty is a tool to achieve our objective:

He intends to wean away elements of the insurgency by giving them a stake in the new Iraqi order. These Sunni elements -- unreconciled tribal leaders and guerrilla factions -- may well decide that with neither side having very good prospects of complete victory, accepting a place and some power in the new Iraq is a better alternative than perpetual war.

The Bush administration is firmly behind this policy. And who is sniping at it from the sidelines? Democratic senators, fresh from having voted for troop withdrawal rather than victory as our objective in Iraq, led the charge to denounce any sort of amnesty for insurgents who had killed Americans.

Apart from the hypocrisy, there is the bizarre logic: Is the best way to honor the sacrifice of those who have died in Iraq to decree an impotent, completely hypothetical policy of retribution? (Who, after all, is going to bell the cat?) Or is it to create conditions for precisely the kind of Iraq -- self-governing and internally reconciled -- that these courageous soldiers were fighting for?

Our objective in any war is not revenge but success. Confederate soldiers who swore allegiance to the U.S. were pardoned after the Civil War, even those who had killed Union soldiers. We gave amnesty to legions of Japanese and Germans who'd killed thousands of Americans in World War II.

And those amnesties were granted after total victory. In conflicts in which there is no unconditional surrender -- civil strife that ends far more ambiguously as in El Salvador and Chile, for example -- amnesty and reconciliation are the essential elements for the establishment of a stable democratic peace.

In Iraq, amnesty will necessarily be part of any co-optation strategy in which insurgents lay down their arms. And it would not apply to the foreign jihadists, who, unlike the Sunni insurgents who would join the new Iraq, dream of an Islamic state built on the ruins of the current order. There is nothing to discuss with such people. The only way defeat them is to kill them, as we did Zarqawi.

But killing them requires depriving them of their sanctuary. Reconciliation-cum-amnesty gets disaffected Iraqi Sunni tribes to come over to the government's side, drying up the sea in which the jihadists swim. After all, we found Zarqawi in heavily Sunni territory by means of intelligence given to us by local Iraqis.

Like I said, I don't undestand how those who oppose the Iraq War can complain about amnesty.

This is what victory looks like. Good grief people, let the enemy give up if they want to!

Freebooters and the Long War

Wretchard writes (noting Chester) that we may see private entities wage war on the Islamists if our government is too constrained by legalities to fight the war ruthlessly enough to win. Chester is quoted:

If protections that normally accrue to states after debate and ratification can now be given over to non-states which have no mechanism for ratification, let alone debate, one can easily imagine a scenario in which non-state organizations form themselves and immediately possess the rights of a state, with no corresponding need to adhere to any laws in their own activities.

If this is the case, then we have the answer to the war: it will be privatized, and its ultimate victories won by uninhibited private military actors, not the hamstrung citizen militaries of nation-states.

This is not a good thing. As I wrote in regard to private cyber-warfare:

For now, these online freelancers are working on our side and seem to provide a clear net benefit.

But what happens when some guy in New York City waging his private war against the jihadis gets noticed by the enemy? If they murder him, will we treat this as a crime or part of the war?

In time, our cyberbooters will work against our foreign policy in a deliberate and directly dangerous manner and we will be forced to address this situation with more urgency.

And just as private mercenary companies wandered Europe, Cyberbooter companies may wage war against others online.

It is interesting to see this develop. Not necessarily interesting in a good way, either.

My worry applies to the real world, too. Private entities, unhappy with the protection of the state, will fight for their own objectives which may not--and most likely won't--match our national objectives for very long.

Vigilantes arise anywhere when the authorities fail to provide security or justice. If lawfare undermines our government's ability to defend our society from our enemies, private military groups will wage war on the jihadis--or even against Islam in general. As Wretchard notes, if WMD attacks on our cities are a threat from small groups of Islamist fanatics, Mecca is under threat of the same if those under attack by Islamic thugs--Christians, Hindus, Jews, or whoever--decide to fight fire with nuclear fire and go to the perceived source of the problem.

In many ways, our state-centric views hobble our efforts against non-state actors who may wield destructive power hitherto reserved to states. But our state-centric system is not all bad. If freebooters join our Long War, and the system of Westphalia is breaking down and private military entities return, we might want to remember the impact of religion and private military forces on Europe in another long war--the Thirty Years War.

That war's horrible events led to our Westphalian system which we may be seeing broken up in our era.

Lovely decade we're having, eh?

UPDATE: Thank you to Instapundit for the link. By coincidence, he had just posted on his comments about the downsides of technology empowering individuals in An Army of Davids. An Army of Freebooters could be one aspect of this future. I hope not. Another reason to wage the war vigorously and effectively. It is quite possible that the question isn't whether we win or lose the Long War, but how we win it. It could be a very ugly win if we aren't careful.

Thursday, June 29, 2006

The Limits of Understanding

Ralph Peters is frustrated that our press and anti-war side are so eager to condemn American soldiers and Marines for crimes committed in Iraq:

I do not condone criminal acts in wartime. If any of our soldiers or Marines charged with murder or other serious crimes are found guilty, they should be sentenced accordingly under the Uniform Code of Military Justice.

But let's give them a fair trial first. And let's remember that an act committed in the heat of battle is different from walking into a McDonald's and killing a half-dozen people for meth money.

Isn't it remarkable that, to the media, our troops are guilty until proven innocent, while our enemies are innocent even after they're proven guilty? Compare the media feeding frenzy over Haditha with the utter lack of detailed human-interest reporting on the thousands of victims of terrorist atrocities. And just wait: In no time, we'll hear that those terrorists arrested last Thursday in Miami were unfairly entrapped by the feds.

There is no question: Discipline must be maintained within our military. And discipline is maintained. Anyone who knows anything about wars throughout history has to be astonished at how few criminal incidents our troops have been involved in during their time in Iraq. We have a humane, magnificent military. Given the nature of counter-insurgency operations, we've set a statistical record for good behavior.

Our troops will never be given credit, though. To get the media's attention, an American soldier must die, suffer a crippling wound, or commit a crime.

Is it too much to ask that we maintain some perspective? About the Marines and soldiers accused, the circumstances, the overall record, and the good we are doing even as we punish the guilty--if they are guilty?

Try understanding our troops. But I guess all the understanding of the loyal opposition is reserved for enemies who behead innocents, plant bombs, and fly planes into our buildings.

They are sure there must be a good reason for that behavior.

The Killing Option

We are at war with fanatics who will willingly die trying to kill us in large numbers. We must kill them and not try to beat them.

The recent Taliban offensive in Afghanistan has just resulted in huge numbers of their force dying at our hands in lopsided fights. However:

Despite over 250 Taliban dead in the last few weeks, the morale of the remaining Taliban fighters has not suffered, and their numbers do not seem to have declined markedly. This suggests that the Taliban spent the winter of '05-'06 carefully recruiting and motivating new personnel, though their training remains poor.

On the battlefield, our enemies seem somewhat immune to losing. So logically, we have to kill all of them rather than just 60%, assuming the remainder will go home. Corpses may not be capable of getting discouraged, but they do tend to just lay there rather unthreatening.

This need to kill runs counter to the technological focus of network-centric warfare that holds we can precisely disable our enemies and stun them into defeat. You know the drill. Shock. Awe. Getting inside their decision-making loops.

But the fact is, against fanatics, clean warfare isn't possible. They don't believe they are defeated even when their fellow jihadis drop all around them.

So we can grant no quarter. Our Supreme Court may keep trying to limit our ability to hold those jihadis we capture, but we are under no obligation to accept the surrender of unlawful combatants.

We can still kill our enemies, can't we?

The Buck Stops Here

I recently wrote that the anti-war side hides behind any anti-war military person they can find to protect themselves from charges of being weak on defense.

I still think this is true, but I could see it on "our" side, too, as I wrote. I was at a loss to fully express my unease in all aspect but Tony Blankley does it pretty well for me, rounding out my unease by extending the complaint to the White House:

While many conservatives and military historians have long questioned President Truman's decision not to seek victory in Korea, Old Harry surely got one thing right: The buck stops in the Oval Office. It is the president -- not his generals -- who is ultimately and actually responsible for all war decisions.

President Bush's repeated assertion -- that he will make all troop-level decisions based on whatever his commanding generals say -- is a serious misreading of his responsibility. Notwithstanding the history of Lyndon Johnson micromanaging the Vietnam War by personally picking bombing targets, the real lesson of Vietnam was that President Johnson never sufficiently grilled his generals on how their plans would lead to victory.

Our military officers should not be in the position of shielding President Bush from the responsibility for when our troops come home. It is his decision. And our top generals serve the president, so they cannot give their honest opinion publicly as if they are a separate power bloc. Don't put them in that position and maybe retired generals won't step out and criticize as a few have done.

The decision of when we've won and can draw down our forces should be based on the advice of our top generals, of course; but it is the president's decision. And I don't like that he pushes responsibility for this important decision on the Pentagon.

Abnormally High Oil Stocks?

I speculated earlier that if we were going to attack Iran in some manner--regime change or aerial campaign against nuke sites--we'd want oil stocks to ride a hopefully short-term disruption of Iranian exports:

I must be drinking the speculation kool-aid or something. But one aspect of blogging for me is looking at what we should be doing if we are going to carry out a specific mission.

And if we are going to hit Iran, the major threat that can't be dealt with by our military is the oil weapon. Iran probably counts on the threat of cutting off oil exports to stay our hand. So with that in mind, I'd want to prepare for the complete loss of Iranian oil exports for the time needed to take down Iran. My question is, have we been doing exactly this for the last couple years or so?

Well, Kudlow says stockpiles are way up:

The Energy Department just announced that crude oil supplies rose 1.4 million barrels to 347.1 million for the week ended June 16. Analysts had been expecting a drawdown, so this news caught them by surprise. More, crude oil supplies in the U.S. are now at their highest levels since May 1998, when oil was trading around $15 a barrel. Add in the fact that Canadian oil inventories are fully stocked, and the more imminent reality is of a sizable oil-price decrease -- not a huge increase.

Recently I interviewed four oil-tanker executives who control a combined 85 percent of the oil coming into the United States. They confirmed market rumors that the amount of oil being stored on large carriers on the high seas is abnormally high. One of the CEOs even predicted the possibility of $40 to $50 oil in the next 6 to 12 months. In another interview, Chevron CEO David O'Reilly suggested that gasoline and energy demands have flattened in the U.S., and may be showing signs of decline.

I should think that it isn't that easy to keep supplies up--especially on ships--for long. So does the July deadline for Iran to respond to our negotiation offer mean something is up?

"We are disappointed in the absence of an official Iranian response to this positive proposal," said a statement from foreign ministers of the Group of Eight industrial nations. "We expect to hear a clear and substantive Iranian response to these proposals" at a meeting scheduled July 5 between the European Union's foreign minister and Iran's nuclear negotiator.

I've been wrong before so I hesitate to predict action, but is action against Iran looming?

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Just like Beslan?

Putin has vowed to nail the killers of four Russians in Iraq:

Nikolai Patrushev, the head of the Federal Security Service — the main successor to the Soviet KGB — later said that everything would be done to ensure that the killers "do not escape from responsibility," the Interfax news agency reported.

"The president has ordered the special forces to take all necessary measures to find and destroy the criminals who killed Russian diplomats in Iraq," the Kremlin press service said in a brief statement.

We'll see. He once promised to retaliate against the killers of little children at Beslan.

It has surprised me that the Russians didn't go after the killers of Beslan or those who supported them.

So I guess if Russia really goes after the latest Islamist murderers, I'll be surprised all over again.

The Last Refuge of Scoundrels

The New York Times asserts they are the good guys in the SWIFT story controversy, yet "Patriotism and the Press" is the title of the New York Times editorial. Funny how this assumes they are two separate things.

The conclusion has some valid points, however:

The United States will soon be marking the fifth anniversary of the war on terror. The country is in this for the long haul, and the fight has to be coupled with a commitment to individual liberties that define America's side in the battle. A half-century ago, the country endured a long period of amorphous, global vigilance against an enemy who was suspected of boring from within, and history suggests that under those conditions, it is easy to err on the side of security and secrecy. The free press has a central place in the Constitution because it can provide information the public needs to make things right again. Even if it runs the risk of being labeled unpatriotic in the process.

Consider the Cold War example the editorial gives.

Despite four decades in which history showed our emphasis on security and secrecy was too much, as the editors say, our freedoms thrived anyway. How else could they be under assault today?

And we did win that Cold War. Despite the calls of the NYT to equate our democracy with their communism--neither better nor worse, really. And with socialized medicine, wasn't the communist side at least admirable in ways we weren't. And literacy. Don't forget the literacy promotion. Yes, the press hated Reagan for calling the Soviet Union the "evil empire." And yes, we should have unilaterally disarmed of our nuclear weapons according to the people who run the Times now. Yet despite all the press efforts to undermine our Cold War efforts, what's the big deal? We won anyway, didn't we?

Of course, our press didn't start sympathizing with the Soviet enemy fewer than five years into the Cold War. Heck, it took them a good 20-25 years to really get rolling on extolling the Soviet system and highlighting our flaws.

So the Times editorial board is right, basically. We won the Cold War and successfully defended freedom without the help of the New York Times. Surely we can win this war and crush the head-lopping Islamist thugs without the Times' help, too.

Of course, it's not like we have a choice in the matter! The Times chose sides.

But don't dare call them unpatriotic.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

The First Gaza War

The First Gaza War has begun.

Israel has begun a punitive/rescue mission into Gaza in response to the capture of one of their soldiers by Palestinian terrorists:

Some Israeli troops crossed the border into southern Gaza, near the site of Sunday's militant attack in which Shalit was abducted. It was not immediately clear how many soldiers entered Gaza, though the army confirmed its soldiers were crossing the border. A number of Israeli soldiers had been in Gaza since Sunday's assault.

In the Shajaiyeh neighborhood of Gaza City, not far from the fence, armed militants took up positions across from the blaring headlights of Israeli vehicles, and Israeli attack helicopters hovered overhead. The roar of Israeli fighter planes reverberated throughout Gaza City.

The militants told residents to leave the area. They piled gasoline-soaked tires in the streets. Earlier, bulldozers blocked some of the main roads with piles of sand and dirt to try to slow down Israeli tanks.

Hamas forces are set up to defend their land rather than cooperate in capturing the thugs and freeing the Israeli soldier. The Palestinian gunmen will die trying to hold their land. And by telling civilians to get out of the way, they won't get a faux Stalingrad as at Jenin. This will be conventional warfare.

Israel is getting the advantage of dealing with a state-like entity with assets that can be harmed.

And Israel will have no responsibility for supplying water and electricity to the residents of Gaza when they pull back out.

I hope Hamas enjoys their new status of government. And the responsibility for cleaning up in the wake of their foreign adventures against the region's most powerful state--perhaps in time for the Second Gaza War.

And how long before the Palestinians of the West Bank decide a three-state solution is better than tying their fate to the Gaza anchor dragging them down?

UPDATE: I may have been hasty in thinking the Israelis would blitz their enemies in a short conventional fight. The Israelis have not hammered the Hamas gunmen. Instead, the Israelis are putting their troops into static position inside Gaza that will allow the Palestinians to attack them at their convenience. And military activity by the Israelis appears to be all thunder and no lightning:

Witnesses reported heavy artillery shelling near the long-closed Gaza airport outside of Rafah. Warplanes flew low over the strip, rocking it with sonic booms and shattering windows.

Fighter jets repeatedly fired missiles at open fields in northern and southern Gaza in a show of force, the military said. Two missiles hit empty Hamas training camps, witnesses said. Separately, Israel attacked a rocket-making factory in the area.

Wow. Sonic booms and striking empty fields. That will make Hamas cry uncle. And the two actual attacks noted did not require an Israeli ground presence inside Gaza. The Israelis should have assaulted and killed as many Hamas gunmen as they could in a short operation that takes advantage of the window of opportunity provided by the kidnapping of their soldier.

Before long, this window will close and we will hear the whining about a new Israeli occupation and see grimly concerned Euros nodding their heads in agreement.

And as long as the Hamas thugs don't kill their prisoner, the Israelis will feel compelled to keep their troops inside Gaza, where they will be targets of attack by Hamas and so-called human rights groups. In time, the Israelis will retreat and it will look like a defeat. Even if the Hamas thugs eventually release the soldier, the terms and any Israeli casualties in this incursion will make it look like Hamas won.

This should have been a conventional punitive operation playing to Israel's strengths. But that isn't how it is working out.

We Just Want Them to Die Quietly

Mad Minerva sent a link to this article about North Korean tantrums.

The North Koreans insist we are always plotting against them and surely on the verge of invading at any moment--as we have been for fifty year, apparently.

Indeed, they say our exercises off of Hawaii were timed to coincide with the start of the Korean War as a signal we are still plotting. But:

Besides the North Koreans getting the date of the exercise wrong, it goes without saying that few in the United States sit around obsessing about how to obliterate North Korea; most are just trying to figure out this loony dictator continually trying to pick a fight with America.

Really. And this raises a question about what on Earth do those loony tunes in Pyongyang really think?

Does the Pillsbury Nuke Boy actually believe we are constantly plotting to attack? And only North Korean eternal vigilance--like noticing the suspicious exercise dates--keep us at bay?

If so, why do they feel the need to throw a tantrum to get our attention? I mean, doesn't the Pentagon start each day briefing the President on the overnight revisions to the Big Secret Invasion Plan? Don't we have to revise it constantly because of the brilliant North Korean counter-moves?

Deep down, the North Koreans probably know that they just don't matter. We don't stay up late plotting against them because basically, if Pyongyang attacks, it means North Korea becomes a glass slag. That's why they are downgrading their army.

Heck, their army may soon spend more time plotting against the proud Porcupine or whatever the hell Kim calls himself this week.

And all this is why they rattle our cages when they think we are just quietly letting them strangle and die. Yet after they rattle we just continue to let them die slowly.

Let them die.

Global Search and Replace All?

According to this article (via Stand-To!), using the term "jihadi" grants to that enemy a legitimacy within Islam that we should not bestow:

In dealing with Islamic extremists, the West may be giving them the advantage due to cultural ignorance, maintain Dr. Douglas E. Streusand and Army Lt. Col. Harry D. Tunnell IV. The men work at the National Defense University at Fort Lesley J. McNair in Washington, D.C.

The two believe the right words can help fight the global war on terror. "American leaders misuse language to such a degree that they unintentionally wind up promoting the ideology of the groups the United States is fighting," the men wrote in an article titled "Choosing Words Carefully: Language to Help Fight Islamic Terrorism."

A case in point is the term "jihadist." Many leaders use the term jihadist or jihadi as a synonym for Islamic extremist. Jihad has been commonly adapted in English as meaning "holy war." But to Muslims it means much more. In their article, Steusand and Tunnell said in Arabic - the language of the Koran - jihad "literally means striving and generally occurs as part of the expression 'jihad fi sabil illah,' striving in the path of God."

This is a good thing for all Muslims. "Calling our enemies jihadis and their movement a global jihad thus indicates that we recognize their doctrines and actions as being in the path of God and, for Muslims, legitimate," they wrote. By countering jihadis, the West and moderate Muslims are enemies of true Islam.

Much like calling them "militants" or "Minute Men" makes them seem like something other than the murdering scum they are in our society, I guess.

So what do we call the thugs who murder in the name of Islam?

The men asked Muslim scholars what the correct term for Islamic extremists would be and they came up with "hirabah." This word specifically refers to those engaged in sinful warfare, warfare contrary to Islamic law. "We should describe the Islamic totalitarian movement as the global hirabah, not the global jihad," they wrote.

Should I start using "hirabah" to describe our Islamofascist enemies? Although from context I do hope nobody mistakes what I think of them.

But I concede that using a term that doesn't make it seem to Moslem audiences that we consider them legitimate expressions of Islam is important.

And equally important is identifying our enemies to our own population so not all Moslems appear to be the enemy. Refusing to admit that hirabah scum draw their inspiration from Islam makes it seem like all Islam must be guilty. Why else hush up the links?

So are members or believers of the hirabah called "hirabahi"? "Hirabists"?

Or maybe just "scum" is an easier term all around.

Monday, June 26, 2006

Always Look on the Bright Side of Life

Check this out:

Saddam Hussein believes the United States will have to seek his help to quell the bloody insurgency in Iraq and open the way for U.S. forces to withdraw, his chief lawyer said Sunday.

Khalil al-Dulaimi argued in an interview with The Associated Press that the former leader is the key to returning stability to Iraq.

"He's their last resort. They're going to knock at his door eventually," the lawyer said. Saddam is "the only person who can stop the resistance against the U.S. troops."

According to the lawyer, Saddam said:

"These puppets in the Iraqi government that the Americans brought to power are helpless. They can't protect themselves or the Iraqi people. The Americans will certainly come to me, to Saddam Hussein's legitimate leadership and to the Iraqi Baath Party, to rescue them from their huge quandary."

You know what the best part of this is?

About five seconds before the Iraqi executioners hit the switch to hang Saddam for his many crimes, the look of surprise on Saddam's face will be really good.

Make Anbar Howl?

Robert M. recently wrote and asked why we didn't take the gloves off and figuratively march to the sea as Sherman did in the Civil War to inflict real pain and defeat on the Sunnis who still fight.

Victor Hanson expressed this frustration well:

Our rules of engagement are aimed at winning “hearts and minds.” That precludes the age-old formula for such postwar rebuilding: reconstruct only after the enemy has been humiliated and defeated. A Curtis LeMay would have advised leveling Fallujah in April to save the war; we shrug that doing so would surely lose it. Somewhere the ghost of a Thucydides or Hobbes or Churchill might adjudicate our debate in ways that we might not like.

I was in favor of crushing Fallujah at the time--and doing it fast. It was a mistake to let it endure as a sanctuary and symbol for the enemy. I wrote in that April:

This is such a tremendous error that I cannot believe it. As I concluded in a post on April 1st, delenda est Fallujah. What did we do instead of destroying them? We let them walk away alive. And just as Saddam proclaimed victory for having survived his ass whipping in 1991, so too will the insurgents who are even now watching Marines retreat from their positions. We had them by the throat and we let them go. It doesn’t matter that we killed at a tremendously lopsided ratio. We failed to teach the lesson of what resisting us means. Or rather, we did teach them what it means. And that’s the problem. The enemy should be dead, crippled, headed for Gitmo, or so scared that they almost made it into categories 1-3 that they head for home and wear to their families and themselves that they will fight no more.

That was a military operation that we failed to prosecute ruthlessly. Restraint there made no sense. Any open and organized resistance must be crushed. We should have taken the opportunity to kill the enemy in pitched battle in April 2004. We eventually did it in November 2004; but we lost time and encouraged the enemy in those seven months, and gave more of our own politicians and people more time to lose faith in our effort.

One of our problems now in our policing operation is that we are not facing a Sunni nation uniformly hostile to us. If we did, harsh methods would be the only way to crush the insurgency. There would be no hearts and minds to win.

In our policing operations, by contrast, we want minimal force to win hearts and minds because the enemy is not clearly presented. We face a mixed population of friends and enemies. So brutality would just harm friends and enemies at the same time. That's the point of the enemy fighting out of uniform, remember? They hide among neutrals and friendlies. And so fighting as if all are enemies would be a betrayal of our ideals and in practice just drive friends to the enemy side.

Plus, I don't think our people back home would accept the killing of tens of thousands in a short time to brutalize even a uniformly hostile population into submission. Practically speaking, we could not be brutal enough for long enough to make Saddam's method of cowing civilans as he did to the Shias in 1991 work. I think we would make things worse by going back and forth between brutal methods to crush spirits and inducements to win loyalty. We'd just end up being brutal enough to inspire hatred yet generous enough to supply those hostile civilians; but not brutal enough to scare enemies into passivity or generous enough to buy friends.

Remember, resolutely following an adequate plan is better than switching strategies frequently in search of the perfect strategy. In the latter case, you fail to give your efforts a chance to really have an impact. I think our enemies made this mistake by switching from attacks on our troops to attacks on Iraqi forces to attacks on civilans to attacks on infrastructure to attacks on foreign embassies and to kidnapping foreigners. They let up enough on each target to fail on every target. So our hearts and minds method may be slow, but if carried out resolutely, it will work. Indeed, it is working. It has already shielded the new Iraqi country sufficiently to form a government and security forces that appear ready to start taking over the burden of the fight from us.

In addition, our rules of engagement that promote winning hearts and mind allow our troops to fight with honor and come home as soldiers and Marines--not as killers. If we let our troops loose to kill as they see fit to terrorize the population into submission, they become judge, jury, and executioner. Even if they make all the right decision in a fight with enemies in civilian clothes, our troops will always wonder if they were right in the decisions they make.

Rules of engagement take much of the judging and responsibility out of their hands and put the responsibility on the leaders where it belongs. As long as soldiers know they followed the lawful rules of engagement they can come home with their heads held high, having fought as soldiers. As long as they allow us to fight and win, this is just fine.

One of our sergeants, in a National Guard unit coming home after duty in Ramadi, put it well:

Walls says insurgents wear civilian clothes and use women and children as shields.

"If you're going to fight the enemy, there are two ways to look at it. You either become just like them, fight them on their own terms or you take the heavy burden like we're doing it right now and it's going to cost American lives. It's a hell of a price to pay but if you fight them on their terms, you're no better than them.

"That's the true dilemma of the soldier right now, to get his sanity and keep his morals, keep his integrity. And it's hard. It's a ... minute-by-minute struggle ... over in Iraq."

This brigade of 2,000 lost 15 men but the rest come home as soldiers with their integrity intact and not as a rabble of killers no better than the enemy. The rules of engagement they followed in war may have seemed like a burden--and it was; but they go home with their heads held high, sane, and their morals and integrity intact, knowing they behaved as soldiers.

There are times and circumstances where we'd need to be brutal. In this war, against Saddam's military during the initial invasion and since then against any enemies who come into the open to fight us, we should kill them with no mercy. But we cannot kill even suspicious civilian men of military age who aren't fighting.

Right now our troops are buying time to field effective Iraqi security forces who can take over the war. What we should be steeling ourselves to face is that the Iraqi government, which cannot give the task to anybody else, might have to use their growing military power to march to the sea if the Sunnis refuse all the reasonable offers--contrary to usual Middle East rules that say losers just die or flee--that have been made to get them to lay down their arms and join the new Iraq. That moment of choice is coming very soon.

It could get very ugly. But it may be necessary. And that is an Iraqi choice to make.

And if the Iraqi government makes that choice, you can be sure the same Loyal Opposition that is now raising hell about amnesty to Sunnis will be equally outraged.

Oh, and speaking of emails, Arthur K. had a couple of good observations on a couple posts but my replies bounced back. I do answer my email.

The Men Who Try Times' Souls

The two Times and the Wall Street Journal deserve our scorn and an investigation into whether they violated our laws as it seems they have.

Some links to those piling on these Journalistic Americans who see no stake in our winning the Long War--if indeed they think we are at war at all.


Austin Bay.

Michael Barone.

Hugh Hewitt.

And of course, the President:

"For people to leak that program and for a newspaper to publish it does great harm to the United States of America," Bush said, jabbing his finger for emphasis. He said the disclosure of the program "makes it harder to win this war on terror."

The disclosure is, as the Presdient stated, disgraceful. I hope the pressure to stop this press counter-intelligence operation against our war effort leads to somebody being tried and then doing prison time. It should have quite the "chilling effect" on working to help the enemy.

Status Report

Iran is the last remaining threat to consolidating the Iraqi government. Other threats must be fought, such as the illegal Shia militias ("illegal armed groups"), including Sadr's which could side with the external Iranians threat, but these threats can only cause death--they can't win.

General Casey looks at the enemy threats inside Iraq:

Second, the security environment is quite complex. And it's a constantly changing environment, but it has increased in its complexity, really, since the December elections and in the aftermath of the Samarra bombing.

Now, with respect to al Qaeda. Al Qaeda is hurt in the aftermath of Zarqawi's death, both because of his -- it's a loss of leadership, and two, because of the numerous operations that have been conducted in -- as a result of information found in the course of raids that led to the killing of Zarqawi. They're hurt, but they're not finished. And they won't be finished for some time. But as you saw in the documents that the secretary quoted to you, they are -- they're feeling the pain right now.

But as you also see, they are still quite capable of conducting terrorist acts across Iraq.

The second big security challenge that adds to the complexity of the environment are these illegal armed groups. And I say illegal armed groups rather than militias because militias take people in too many different directions. These illegal armed groups are operating outside the rule of law. They are not the nine groups of militia that are mentioned in the CPA law that fought Saddam. These are criminals. And they need to be dealt with through a combination of political influence and security forces, and they will be. This government has stepped up to the challenge, has issued instructions for enforcing weapons bans in and around Baghdad, and is committed to dealing with the militia -- I'm sorry -- with the illegal armed group issue to protect their citizens.

The third element that adds complexity to the security environment is the fact that the resistance, the Sunni insurgency, has been since the elections reaching out and looking for ways to reevaluate their options and to come out of the resistance against occupation with honor. And we are --we and the Iraqi government have several different strands of contacts going on, and there are opportunities in that regard that we just haven't had before.

And the fourth element that I'd suggest to you that adds complexity to the security environment is Iran. And we are quite confident that the Iranians, through their covert special operations forces, are providing weapons, IED technology and training to Shi'a extremist groups in Iraq, the training being conducted in Iran and in some cases probably in Lebanon through their surrogates. They are conducting -- using surrogates to conduct terrorist operations in Iraq, both against us and against the Iraqi people. It's decidedly unhelpful.

Now, lastly I'd just say a word about the insurgency. People say the insurgency's growing because attacks are up. Now, what I'd tell you it's more complex. It's more complex than the insurgency is growing. The insurgency hasn't expanded. Fourteen of the 18 provinces still have about nine attacks a day or less. And if you look at where the sectarian violence is occurring, it's occurring within about a 30-mile -- 90 percent of it is occurring in about a 30- mile radius around Baghdad; some down in Basra, some in Diyala Province, the majority right there in the center of the country. So, much more complex environment, not necessarily a worse security environment.

There are interesting points here. I've note that I think that the Iraqi population is shifting toward us as we have kept the Kurds friends; moved the Shias from suspicious to largely on our side, and moved a good number of Sunnis away from supporting the enemy.

With the foreign jihadis dwindling and the remnants and their local jihadi allies hurt from the death of Zarqawi; and the Baathists and nationalist Sunnis looking at amnesty; the remaining enemy capable of defeating us inside Iraq is Iran. We have defeated the main threats one after another. Not destroyed them--but ended their ability to actually win. We've knocked them down enough for the new Iraqi government to finish them off--even if that takes many years. Criminals aren't a threat to the state though they add to the image of violence. As I noted one year ago almost exactly, the Syrian-backed forces in al Anbar could not win and the main threat was from Iran:

I wrote recently that I think Syria is too weak to defeat us in Iraq and that this might be part of a Syrian-Iranian alliance to divert us from the looming Iranian offensive in the east. Iran may stage a mock Shia revolt in Iraq to buy time for Iran to go nuclear and secure their regime. Breaking Iraq would also save Syria's Baathists from following the path of their Iraqi brethren.

And even earlier, in December 2004 while the enemy in Anbar seemed strong, I saw Iran and not Syria as the prime threat to winning in Iraq:

One would think that Syria is our prime target given that Syrians seem to be far more involved in the Baathist revolt at this point. But Iran's nuclear ambitions make Iran far more dangerous than Syria no matter what they are doing in Iraq. Given that the Iraqi insurgents are targeting Iraqi security forces more, the insurgents must realize that we are winning by building up the security forces to take over the fighting from us. Syria's efforts certainly must be punished and stopped but they are not likely to defeat us so we have to focus on the biggest threat (though I am happy that things are going boom in Damascus).

This continuing trend is why we are focusing on Iran's efforts inside Iraq now. Other threats we've beaten back in the past two years and only Iran remains as capable of reversing the victory trends we've established inside Iraq.

It is also interesting that Casey reports that the Iranians are sending weapons and are training thugs to attack. These indicate that weapons inside Iraq that had fueled the insurgency and terror aren't available sufficiently to the Iranian-backed men. And training shows that these men aren't Baathists who are already trained from pre-war or trained by Baathists.

This could still get ugly if the Iranians direct their surrogates inside Iraq to stage a faux revolt of the masses in a last ditch effort to inflict a Tet-style press defeat of us. And perhaps to foster the "end times" that bring back the Hidden Imam, too, in Ahmadinejad's mind.

But if we stand our ground, we will defeat the last military force able to defeat us in setting up a democratic Iraq. It will be democracy on training wheels, of course; and capable of being screwed up by the Iraqis themselves. But it will still be far better than the gulag with a UN seat that it was under Saddam.

And with Iran being a nuclear threat as well as a threat to Iraq, the chance of us taking on Iran in the near future seems to be higher.

Sunday, June 25, 2006

We Cannot Redeploy Far Enough To Be Safe

When one proposes to retreat, it can only work if your enemy does not pursue you. I wrote this in 1997 in regard to Iraq's invasion of Iran in 1980 (noted in this post in 2004):

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

But talk of an "exit strategy" didn't cut it with the public. Sounded too much like retreat, I guess. A year later, in November 2005, I felt compelled to quote the same line to remind all of us that the proper objective is war is victory. I wrote this because Representative Murtha was then getting 24/7 press coverage for his latest retreat formulation that first suggested "redeployment" as the term of art. I wrote:

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

It was not widely embraced then, apparently. Murtha was on his own. But only for the term--not the concept.

Coming up with an acceptable term for losing should not be what we focus on, but seven months later, the loyal opposition has focus group tested and embraced the term "redeployment." The official term of record is to "redeploy" from Iraq:

Last week John Kerry revealed his plan to "redeploy" U.S. forces from Iraq. This plan is different from fellow Defeaticrat Jack Murtha's plan to "redeploy" U.S. forces from Iraq to Okinawa, which Congressman Murtha seems to think is in the general neighborhood of Iraq. Iraq's in the Middle East, Okinawa's in the Far East: C'mon, how far can it be to get from the Far to the Middle? After all, the distance between the farthest fringe of the kook left and the center of the Democratic Party seems to be closing up every week.

Anyway, Sen. Kerry doesn't want to waste time "redeploying" to Okinawa. When America "redeploys," it's not going to take a connecting flight via Japan and risk its luggage getting "redeployed" to Bratislava. No, sir, in John Kerry's America, we redeploy" nonstop, straight back to Main Street in time for the Redeployment Day parade.

You gotta hand it to these guys: "Redeployment" is ingenious. I'll bet the focus-group consultants were delirious: "surrender," "lose,","scram," "scuttle ignominiously," "head for the hills" all polled poorly, but "redeploy" surveyed well with all parts of the base, except the base in Okinawa, where they preferred "sayonara" -- that's "redeploy" in any language. The Defeaticrats have a clear message for the American people. Read da ploy: No new quagmires. This is the most artful example of Leftspeak since they came up with "undocumented immigrant." In fact, if it catches on, I'll bet millions of fine upstanding members of the Undocumented-American community now start referring to themselves as Redeployed Mexicans.

The only teensy-weensy problem is this: If America ever adopts the Kerry plan, the Murtha plan or some variation thereof, does anyone think al-Jazeera, the BBC, Le Monde, Der Spiegel et al will be using the word "redeploy" in their headlines? Or will they use a word closer to what's actually going on?

Steyn is right. The anti-war side may fool people long enough to actually retreat by calling it "redeployment," but nobody will be fooled when they see the so-called redeployment and say, "Huh, that sure looks like retreat."

Our enemies sure won't be fooled. They might even call it victory and just want more of it. As I noted a decade ago, if you fight an enemy that is willing to follow you home to keep killing you, you cannot cleanly break contact and come home to rest and forget about the war. We face such enemies. They came to our homes already, on 9/11, remember?

Do not seek anything other than "victory." That is the only word we should be using.

Prisoner Exchange

Hmm. Is a deal shaping up to end the Baathist and non-jihadi Sunni resistance?

Some have noted the apparent rush of charges being brought against American soldiers and Marines recently for crimes against Iraqi civilians.

There is also the ongoing story of the Iraqi government discussing amnesty for certain elements of the insurgency.

As I've mentioned for a couple years at least since this was first brought up, check your outrage and keep your eye on our objective. We are out to win the war--not kill or jail all of the enemy who have shot at us or bombed us. Amnesty that helps win the war is perfectly justified.

We didn't try the enemy after our international wars or even our Revolution or Civil War. To insist on punishing all Iraqis who have fought us confuses war with peacetime crimes. And this confusion is being fanned by some who otherwise sensibly understand we are at war.

This is not rewarding the enemy. This is what winning looks like.

But what might make this more acceptable to critics back home might be an amnesty that covers all Coalition troops who might have violated laws of war as well as certain Iraqis who fought us. Yes, a lot more Iraqi enemy will get this amnesty than American or British military personnel, but it would end our self-flogging as well. Our people charged may very well be guilty (and some are convicted already), but they are in many cases guilty because unlike past wars, with our surveillance systems we catch troops that would have gotten away with crimes in past wars. And they committed isolated crimes in an environment where the enemy dresses like civilians and hides among them. This does not excuse the crimes but it should provide some understanding of the stresses and difficulties.

This makes sense in so many ways that I find it difficult not to imagine that my speculation is what is going on.

UPDATE: The Iraqi prime minister has presented a formal plan to end the fighting:

Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri Maliki has presented a national reconciliation plan to parliament aimed at stemming sectarian tensions and violence.

The 24-point plan offers an amnesty to some insurgents, but not those from groups who have targeted civilians.

It outlines plans to disarm militias and beef up Iraqi security forces ahead of a takeover from coalition forces.

Targeting civilians is, as I suspected, a term to indicate the foreign-led jihadis. The article quotes Jim Muir, who has covered the Middle East for a long time, but who is simply confused when he complains:

The BBC's Jim Muir in Baghdad says there are concerns that Mr Maliki's plan will not work as it does not seek reconciliation with those at the heart of the insurgency - the radical Islamists, many of them foreigners, who want Iraq to be the centre of a new Islamic empire.

These thugs do not seek reconciliation nor can there be reconciliation with them. For these thugs who behead their victims, there can only be their pursuit and death. Hopefully with the aid of the Iraqi Sunnis in a full-hearted effort to drive out the invaders.

Saturday, June 24, 2006

More Than Two Men and a Ship

Moving 8,000 Marines from Okinawa to Guam won't be finished until the year 2014 according to an article in The Economist I just read.

Slowly, I'm getting details after this initial report I blogged on; and after a press conference added details (But whose public affairs contact listed did not respond to my question. It really annoys me that a "contact" wouldn't even bother to contact a member of the public who asks a question.)

The move and others will give us more depth behind the first line of defense of Japan-South Korea-Taiwan. I know we have to build new facilities on Guam, but eight years seems like a rather long time to move 8,000 Marines.

War Subscription Expired?

The New York Times defends their shameful exposure of another intelligence operation that has worked to protect us since 9/11:

In the heightened state of emergency after 9/11, the government began examining the Swift records with the help of general administrative subpoenas, which are basically permission from one part of the executive branch to another. Now it is nearly five years later, and nothing has changed. Investigators have examined the international money transfers of thousands of Americans, apparently without ever trying to get a court order or warrant to do the searches. And Congress, as usual, has never exercised any oversight.

A few members were briefed on the program, and a few more told about it once it became clear that newspapers were preparing an article. But the briefings tend to become a trap in which those who are informed about what is going on are required under security rules not to talk about what they know even after it becomes public. Armed with some knowledge, they become more impotent than when they were completely in the dark.

Five years and nothing has changed. Yes, we are at war. And if you believe we are at war, you'd have to say that we still need measures to wage that war. But the Times disagrees with that simplistic assumption. It's been five whole years and we still try to find the Islamist thugs who plot to kill us. Five years! That's long enough, apparently, according to the Times.

And the idea that members of Congress who find their briefings alarming are bound by a code of silence seems to ignore the fact that somebody in the government leaked the information to them. Had members of Congress been briefed on an illegal or intrusive spying operation, I dare say somebody would have leaked.

But instead of acting like an American newspaper, the Times and their two fellow papers, the Wall Street Journal and LA Times, decided they essentially have the power to declare a war over. The arrogance of power is astounding.

I guess I missed the provision in the Constitution that states that our leading newspapers get to determine how long we may wage a war.

Somebody needs to be prosecuted and do some jail time in a serious prison over this disclosure. We've told our enemies too much already. Enough is enough.

It would have been nice of Bill Keller to at least notify us of the end of our war subscription so we could have renewed it.

UPDATE: Scrappleface gives the Times the treatment:

A secret New York Times program for fighting ‘the war on the war on terror’ represents a “radical expansion of executive editor authority” according to a legal analyst who studied the parameters of the “intel sifting and sharing program” that the Times uses to disseminate U.S. national security information to international terror groups.

Unhindered by the courts or the Congress, Times Executive Editor Bill Keller continues his campaign for greater personal power to unilaterally prosecute the anti-anti-terror battle, according to the unnamed analyst.

“It’s unprecedented that a single man should have so much control over the lives of millions of Americans with no Constitutional checks and balances,” the source added. “Bill Keller does as he pleases, providing crucial intel to al Qaeda, which for all intents and purposes, is his own private militia.”

A spokesman for Mr. Keller insisted that he needs broad executive editor powers in order to “protect our loved ones from those who would threaten them by sifting their banks records, listening to their overseas phone calls, or interfering with their
religious obligations.”

I assume no jihadi worth their salt fails to sign up for NYT email news alerts or pay for Times Select to make sure they get all the up-to-date intelligence on our war efforts.

SECOND UPDATE: I seriously want somebody prosecuted and jailed over this, as I noted here.

Strategypage has a long post on this issue that you simply must read in full. The basics:

Because the war on terror is fought in a peacetime atmosphere, treason can be presented as dissent, and you can get away with it. Case in point is the energetic pursuit, and publication, of U.S. intelligence gathering techniques, by the American media. The latest one was the reporting of how the U.S. has been analyzing international bank wire transfers. This apparently led to the capture of several prominent terrorists, especially in Southeast Asia. But to opponents of the war, this is an assault on civil liberties, attacks they consider more dangerous than potential terrorist violence. Earlier scoops revealed to terrorists how the traffic analysis was being used to track terrorist activity. ...

These traitors will continue to get away with it. Unless their activities are shown to assist terrorists in a particularly direct and obvious way, scary stories about potential perils will continue to protect those attacking the counter-terrorism effort. By blurring the line between legitimate dissent and active assistance to the enemy, political opportunism has sunk to new lows.

These are just the first and last paragraphs. Read it all.

Some of our press are clearly providing aid and comfort to our enemies. We simply must treat them accordingly.

THIRD, INCREASINGLY AGITATED, UPDATE: Read Austin Bay, too. The press has seriously moved beyond lawful dissent to actually aid our enemies in killing us. Our government cannot let this stand as the last word in press freedom to actually fight our country. But Bay does not think our government will prosecute the leakers, though he thinks it should. This is a different matter than prosecuting the papers. But both should be done.

General Purpose Carriers

I think that aircraft carriers face a declining role in traditional strike warfare in an increasingly networked Navy that no longer needs big platforms to mass effect on targets:

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

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

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

In this light, this RAND study (Tip to Defense Industry Daily) on alternative uses for our big carriers--which will be around for half a century with proper maintenance--is an intersting read.

The roles they mention all have historical precedents. And although the study says combat will always be their priority when demands compete, just the idea that we might adapt our carriers to be more ready for the non-war missions says a lot about our threats and our capabilities. You don't risk your primary weapon on non-war missions.

Our carriers are declining in combat value (see here, here, and here for other posts of mine). And it isn't just because our naval threats are declining. If we had major threats, I think that our carriers would lose their value a lot faster. It is only because we are dominant on the blue waters that carriers can have a long career--fighting inferior powers and saving lives. The RAND study shows how we will use these big platforms in other missions in light of a declining centrality in both fighting enemy fleets and projecting firepower ashore. Heck, in their twilight, maybe we could replace their reactors with conventional power sources and tow them to international waters off of places like West Africa to use them as cheap mobile offshore bases. Put in hospital and barracks facilities and they could host a small number of UCAVs, helicopters, and V/STOL aircraft. [UPDATE: Oh, and a small force of ground troops at all time, which should be able to fit in existing bunk space. There should be room for surging more ground troops. That's why I wrote that barracks facilities should be added.]

The Battle of Midway is long gone. But these proud ships can still serve us well for a long time, I think.

Father's Day Weekend

 Well, I had a long and good Father's Day weekend last week.

It started Friday when Lamb rushed up to greet me after work to give me her projects she made in day care. She had telegraphed this already during the week, and she pulled out the homemade card and certificate that extolled me for playing the Thomas game with her, baking cookies with her, and giving her hugs. The staff clearly quizzed her for this.

And the project was a little wooden box with a decorated top that included a cut-out of her picture. Plus some snacks to eat. Her eagerness and joy to give them to me made them very special. Lamb got another hug for this display.

On Saturday, Mister and I hit the pool on a hot day and otherwise hung out at home so I could get chores done in preparation for our main event for Father's Day.

On Sunday morning we head out in the morning for the Toledo Zoo to meet a friend of his, his friend's little brother who seems to adore Mister, and their parents. A nice family. Like Ive mentioned before, I still worry Mister will become a tight friend with someone whose parents are jerks, or something. At a young age, it is tough not to have parental interaction when the friends play.

The zoo didn't have their Zoo Snooze that we planned to do again this year, but they did have a brunch for the day and dads get in free on Fathers Day. Mister and I wore our snooze shirts as a protest against the failure to hold the snooze this year.

Construction on the off ramp to I-475 forced me to detour around the south of Toledo, but even being 20 minutes late on my ETA put us in the zoo ahead of our friends.

The boys had an absolute blast and in many ways hardly paid attention to the animals. It was just play time with foul smells for atmosphere. The highlight for the boys was the play structure that we let them play on near the end of the trip.

For me, the highlight was the brunch. Burgers and hot dogs, ice cream, potato salad, pop and ice tea. When it was over, I was in a meat-induced stupor ready to nap by the Naked Moles Rats where we slept on two past Father's Days.

We rolled out just ahead of closing time and a quick trip to the souvenir shop. A quick trip up through a threatening thunderstorm and we made it back to Ann Arbor. We grabbed a pizza for dinner (and saladI'm not ignorant of basic nutrition) and had a short time at home before rolling back to Mister's mom's house late. We had to for Mister to give me his gift. We picked up Lamb on the way and when we got to my Ex's home, I had to feign ignorance while Mister spoke on the phone with his mom about what to do. I had to ignore the cheesecake in the refrigerator that Lamb showed me, too.

So armed with his moms instructions, Mister retrieved my Fathers Day present and card. Lamb signed that one, too. In addition to the cheese cakes, I now have a bottle of sea salt and a salt crusher! What can I say? I actually like the gifts. Mister has moved way beyond the soaps and candles that he chose as a small child. Although I must say, he has nice conservative taste it ties so I was looking forward to that. He also knows my views on mens cosmetics: they are wrong. Men should have soap in white, rectangular, scentless blocks. And shampoo that has no fruit or food product in its name. Of course, toothpaste. Oh, and nail clippers, a comb, and a razor for grooming. Anything beyond that is seriously unneeded. So I know I wont ever get anything even remotely like that. Or even cologne. Its perfume, people. Perfume. Leave that crap to European men.
Anyway, with lots of typical stuff ruled out or given-to-death, apparently, Mister was in a quandary. So when queried about what to get me, Mister said I was low on salt. Which is true, I guess. I even remember mentioning it to him when I refilled a salt shaker recently. And besides, Mister likes salt on his salad topping of oil and lemon juice (hey, this homemade concoction has gotten him to like large green salads! I used to have to force a couple lettuce leaves), so he likes this gift, too. Hes had fun using it. No doubt hell get his future wife stuff from Victorias Secret for her birthday.

Driving home, I at least got in my duties to my own dad. I called him from my car to wish him a happy Fathers Day. Im luck to have such a good dad. (And mom, too!) I even like them. It is fun to hang out with them. And from the perspective of a son, Ive never ever felt the need for therapy to undo parental damage! My flaws are mine alone and I cant blamed my parents for anything. That, to me, is the best thing parents can do for their childrendont pass down whatever problems you have. I was able to be a kid all through childhood with no major worries about life.

So, it was a nice Fathers Day. Mister and Lamb are good kids.

After going to work on Monday, I continued the Father's Day weekend on Tuesday with a day off to take care of Mister and Lamb. Mister stayed with me Monday night and Lamb came over at 7:00 a.m.

It was a nice morning of breakfast, Mister enjoying his video games, Lamb painting with water colors, and a little Sponge Bob and a Wolverine football DVD. We had lunch and a trip to Dairy Queen, a short nap for Lamb that began on the drive home, and then a little time outside to play in the back. She liked her new sandbox that I put together for her.

The only hitch of the day was that Lamb broke the door off my pantry by backing into it hard and repeatedly at the hinge. An accident, but I was annoyed. But I didn't yell, though Lamb started crying out of worry I'd be mad, I think. Stuff happens, people. I don't get mad over spilled milk, crumbled cookies, or even broken doors. Unless stuff like that is deliberate, why get mad? It is just a mess or money. The former can be cleaned or at least replaced. And the latter is just money. As long as spending it doesnt cut into the mortgage payment, I try not to worry about it.

As it turns out, before we went for ice cream I glued the split wood and put heavy objects on it to seal it; and while Lamb napped, I stapled the seam and re-mounted the door. Good as new! I assured Lamb all was well with the door--but don't do that again.

Then in the early evening we grabbed a pizza and headed to their moms house. They played and we eventually got Mister to bed and Lamb settled in to drowse. A couple beers at home to cap off the day and it was back to work with no more celebrations of my dad status to look forward to.

A fun weekend all around filled with a lot of dadness. Life doesn't get better than this.

Friday, June 23, 2006

Heads Must Roll

The latest press revelations of our covert efforts to prevent another 9/11 on our shores are purely disgusting. Just how far can they go in their pursuit of an Al Pulitzer before we say enough?

McCarthy concludes:

The blunt reality here is that there is a war against the war. It is the jihad of privacy fetishists whose self-absorption knows no bounds. Pleas rooted in the well-being of our community hold no sway.

The anti-warriors know only the language of self-interest. It is the language that tells them the revelation of the nation’s secrets will result, forthwith, in the demand for the revelation of their secrets — which is to say, their sources in the intelligence community — with incarceration the price of resistance. It is the language admonishing that even journalists themselves may be prosecuted when their publication of national secrets violates the law.

Bluntly, officials who leak the classified information with which they have been entrusted can be prosecuted for theft of government property. If the information is especially sensitive, they can be prosecuted for violating the Espionage Act. In either event, the press has no legal right to protect such lawlessness.

That is our simple choice: Strong medicine we will either take or persist in declining … while resigning ourselves to more of the same.

Yes. Our government must--absolutely must--ferret out those who would see us fail to stop our enemy in their misguided efforts to protect us from phantom government crimes. And those officials who leak must be prosecuted and jailed.

One way or another heads must roll as a result of this latest and other sickening revelations about our covert operations.

Haven't we learned that letting our enemies win quite literally results in heads rolling?

They Do Like Their Human Shields

Read Mark Steyn. I'm not a particular fan of Ann Coulter and on the whole, I think we'd be better off without her style of writing; but she has taken an unfair shot for some recent commentary about certain 9/11 widows who have staked out a strong anti-war position.

As Steyn writes:

"What crackpot argument can't be immunized by the Left's invocation of infallibility based on personal experience?" wonders Miss Coulter of Cleland, Sheehan, the Jersey Girls and Co. "If these Democrat human shields have a point worth making, how about allowing it to be made by someone we're allowed to respond to?"

Now that's a point worth making. As it is, thanks to Coulter cracks like "Now that their shelf life is dwindling, they'd better hurry up and appear in Playboy," even chaps on the right are doing the more-in-sorrow shtick and saying that they've been making the same basic argument as Ann and it's such a shame she had to go too far with her cheap shots because that's discredited the entire argument, etc.

The trouble with this line is that hardly anyone was objecting to the professional widow routine pre-Coulter. Well, that's not strictly true. Yours truly objected.

I despise the whole line of reasoning that says if you've suffered, your Left-wing views are unassailable. It shoves those who have suffered much already forward to absorb more and relieve the Left of the obligation of actually arguing their case. Loss is an absolute moral something, right? (Maureen Dowd is fading behind the Times firewall, mercifully, so that phrase is getting hazy in my memory.) It doesn't work for conservatives who suffer loss yet support the war. So it shouldn't work for the anti-war Left, either.

So let go of the grieving widows and parents and come out with your arguments up. We'll shoot, of course, but there will be no collateral damage.

Living Long Enough to Get Good

Mass armies have faded away with volunteers proving their worth. Still, British volunteers proved their worth in 1914 yet lost out to conscripted mass armies when the excellent volunteers died faster than they could possibly be replaced. So this trend has been facilitated by the lack of casualties in our recent wars that make pursuing quality an achievable goal.

And the other part of mass armies that went along with massed manpower--massed firepower--is dying as well. Strategypage writes:

For some nations, the age of massive firepower has come to an end. One of the less noticed revolutions in warfare has been the American development of small scale, precision firepower, which has replaced the large scale, massive firepower tactics that dominated the 20th century. For most people, American smart bombs, like JDAM and laser guided bombs, represent "precision firepower." But the concept goes much farther than that. American infantry carry automatic weapons, but most of the time they fire one precise shot at a time. In Afghanistan and Iraq, the locals quickly get to know when American troops are fighting in the area. They are the ones firing single shots. The other guys, be they Taliban or Sunni Arabs, fire their AK-47s on full auto.

This article shows the trend goes farther than I had mentioned when I noted the development of precision rockets and other artillery and fire support. Aimed fire from grunts to GPS bombs.

Of course, the West had small professional armies in the 18th century before technology and nationalism made it possible to conscript and equip millions. When Napoleon created a nation-in-arms, the small professional armies could not cope. Small professional armies made sense only when fighting each other or small enemies, losing high quality troops at a low enough rate to be replaced or fighting only briefly so replacements could be trained.

Could our few troops rely on precision alone if faced with masses of ideologically/religiously motivated soldiers trying to swarm our troops in conventional battle and heedless of their own casualties?

Or will robots on the battlefield revive mass? Of course, then it will be robots killing robots as we each try to get at the others valuable human troops controlling it all.

The trend toward quality over quantity is real, no doubt. I just wonder when it will end and whether we will be defeated in the transition back.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Phased Redeployment

The Senate shot down the call for a withdrawal of American troops from Iraq by a set date in 2007. And they did it decisively. Good.

But the Senate also shot down another one:

Minutes later, the Senate defeated by 60-39 a resolution to urge the administration to begin "a phased redeployment of U.S. forces" sometime this year. The resolution would not have set a deadline for the end of the U.S. presence in Iraq.

This one had 39 votes for it.

The Senate Republicans should have supported this one. On the radio, I heard that the resolution would have called on the president to establish the schedule.

So his allies should have passed the resolution and then, after getting word that the resolution passed, the president should have immediately sent over his schedule:


To the United States Senate
From the President of the United States of America

In response to your sense of the Senate calling on me to establish a timetable for American forces in Iraq, I submit the following redeployment schedule:

Section 1) The baseline is declared to be 129,000 United States military personnel.

Section 2) Troop strength will be withdrawn at the following rate:

JUL 2006 129,000

DEC 2006 128,999

JUL 2007 128,998

DEC 2007 128,997

JUL 2008 128,996

DEC 2008 128,995

JUL 2009 128,994

DEC 2009 128,993

JUL 2010 128,992

DEC 2010 128,991

JUL 2011 128,990

DEC 2011 128,989

JUL 2012 128,988

DEC 2012 128,987

JUL 2013 128,988

DEC 2013 128,987

JUL 2014 128,986

DEC 2014 128,985

JUL 2015 128,984

DEC 2015 128,983

JUL 2016 128,982

DEC 2016 128,981

Section 3) Each and every member of our Armed Forces redeployed from Iraq will of course be moved to nearby Okinawa where they will be ready to return should an emergency arise.

Section 4) This schedule is subject to revision if Iraq security forces prove capable of operating without our troops.

/signed/ George W. Bush, President

The President missed an opportunity.

War Is Not a Limited Time Offer

I find it absurd that some would argue that because our enemy won't stop attacking us and trying to kill us, that we should release those of the enemy we capture just because we don't know when the war will end.

Why should we handicap our ability to fight back and win just because our enemy is particularly determined to kill us no matter how long it takes them?

Luckily, one of our deputy assistant secretaries of defense is on the case on the Washington Post radio to knock down this silliness.

Eugene Robinson takes the Idiotic side in the debate:

Twenty-four hours ago on this very program, Washington Post columnist Gene Robinson argued, as he does in his column today, that, quote, “Anyway you look at it, arbitrary indefinite detention without formal legal charges is an abandonment of the very ideals that the U.S. is supposedly fighting to spread throughout the world.”

Any way you look at it? Well, first of all, you have to look at it as a law enforcement issue and not a war. Cally Stimson replied, through an interruption that reflects the confusion of Robinson's statement:

First off, there’s approximately 460. And you know, during a time of war, which we’re at war – we need to remind all our listeners that we are at war – any nation who detains its enemy is entitled to keep the enemy detained throughout the duration of the conflict.

And what Mr. Robinson is doing in his article is he’s conflating or mixing or melding two very important different concepts. One concept being a criminal law context: charges, rights, Miranda, courts; and the law of war context, which is detain the person throughout the duration of the conflict until the conflict is over. There are two purposes served in both of those –

Q I guess that what he and others have said is that this is a war that, at least for now, doesn’t seem like other wars. I think everybody has conceded that. And you know, you say for the duration of the conflict. Who knows how long that’s going to

MR. STIMSON: Yeah, that’s the tough issue. And what that does not entitle the opponents of the war to do is to create out of thin air a law, a rule – which doesn’t exist, by the way – that says, well, since we don’t know when it’s going to end, then we get to meld the law of war and meld that with a criminal law context.

I mean, let me give you a perfect example: In World War II, when we were lucky enough to detain our enemy – let’s say the Nazis, for instance – those detainees, those prisoners, they didn’t know when the war was going to end. They didn’t get a nickel to call their lawyer. They weren’t even given lawyers, because you don’t give your enemy a lawyer for a trial because it’s understood – and it has been understood for over 50 years in the Geneva Convention – you don’t get a trial and get a lawyer, a Johnnie Cochran, to try to pop you out of a detention facility.

And so there’s this constant mantra, this drumbeat that, oh, they need charges, they need lawyers, they need a trial because we don’t know when the end of the war’s going to be. Well, that’s the way wars are.

If our enemy would be so kind as to state when they will stop fighting if they haven't won by then, we could offer a date for release.

If our enemies fought as lawful combatants we could treat them differently, too.

But sadly, the enemy seems determined to kill us all no matter how long it takes and the enemy violates virtually every law of warfare there is. They're lucky we don't shoot them on the spot. We don't have to take unlawful combatants prisoner under international law.

We are at war with implacable killers. A war they chose to wage against us. Hold those scum until they rot, for all I care. Or close Guanatanamo and just shoot every thug terrorist we scoop up off the battlefield. Either way is fine by me.

Not Trying to Be Helpful

Although many critics of the Iraq War claim their criticisms are designed to help us win, I basically don't believe that is true for 80% of the critics on the Left. The call for a military draft to help our "over-stressed" military is the prime example. Calling for a draft is all about preventing us from winning the war.

This writer, at least admits what it is about:

REINSTATE THE military draft and see how quickly the United States ends its war in Iraq.

Imagine if all our sons and daughters were at risk for deployment to the desert. Imagine if all our children faced the Al Qaeda-style butchery that took the lives of two American soldiers, Private First Class Thomas L. Tucker of Madras, Ore., and Private First Class Kristian Menchaca of Houston.

If we feared our children were next up to be gutted like fish, we might be less likely to shake our heads at crazy antiwar activist Cindy Sheehan. If turning 18 meant your kid's boots on the ground, a resolution to pull troops out of Iraq by a certain date might grab more than six votes in the US Senate.

So it isn't about helping the military cope with deployments after all. What a shock.

But what really gets me is the description of our troops as "children" instead of adult volunteers who bravely defend us. Really, our actual children are at risk here at home from al Qaeda-style butchery if we fail to kill them overseas and change the sick societies that send them forth with box cutters and pure raw hatred for us. Nearly 3,000 of our figurative children died on September 11, 2001. Remember? And remember Beslan where actual children were slaughtered by jihadis secure in the knowledge that killing little infidels is fun and easy?

At least the 2,500 military personnel we've lost so far after three years of fighting have killed lots of the enemy. Is our kill ratio 10:1? 20:1? Sure beats the enemy kill ratio on 9/11 of 150:1 against us all in the space of about an hour, doesn't it? And if only a handfull of the 25K to 50K enemy we've probably killed would have struck us at home again, I'd say we've struck a good bargain. And this math doesn't consider the price we'd pay if they ever use WMD.

Imagine if our children are at risk, Ms. Vennochi?

Oh, I do. I most certainly do imagine that.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Closer to 5.0

We've found about 500 warheads in Iraq containing degraded chemical payloads.

This isn't quite the smoking gun of WMD for this particular reason for war. They are pre-1991 weapons.

First of all, aside from these warheads, it is clear that Saddam was prepared to produce chemical and biological weapons when sanctions eroded. Even nuclear ambitions remained.

But the old chemical warheads are significant. One, they prove that Saddam did have WMD in violation of his obligations under UN Security Council resolutions. This is the technical violation of his parole to go along with the more significant production capabilities Saddam retained hidden as dual-use facilities and components that Iraq War opponents disregard.

And two, it shows that it is possible for Saddam's people to have hidden more recent chemical weapons in the vast regions of Sunni-inhabited Iraq. These weapons have been discovered over the last couple years, so more could be out there, buried in the desert.

I'm still waiting for conventional wisdom 5.0 on Iraq's WMD:

This groupthink that Saddam had no WMD in March 2003 replaces the conventional wisdom that Saddam's scientists were all bluffing a psychopathic mass murderer by pretending to have WMD programs; which itself was a replacement for the theory that Saddam was purely bluffing all of us. And this, of course, replaces the conventional wisdom held by both parties for nearly a decade that Saddam had WMD in defiance of UNSC resolutions demanding he disarm.

We'll find the WMD yet or what happened to them. Mark my words.

This version is getting closer.

The Times That Try Men's Souls

So should I have linked the torture and killing of our two soldiers with the report that the press and terrorism have a symbiotic relationship?

Truly, our rare crimes get far more condemnation than the enemy policy of always committing atrocities.

And there is a peril if our troops react to the torture and murder of their comrades by turning against the Iraqi people in general, seeing all of them as potential murderers. Have no doubt that our enemies would get the better out of the press coverage if our troops committed more crimes as a result of this latest outrage even as the enemy continues on business-as-usual with atrocities against civilians and soldiers alike.

First, this would push neutrals to the enemy side of the ledger and push friendlies to neutrality. Our enemy would be happy to see this happen. We've been doing the opposite with success and if we can keep this up, Iraqi soldiers and police will win this war for us and give democracy a chance to take root and grow in Iraq.

Second, as a result, our anti-war side at home would begin to abandon their at-least-official mantra of supporting the troops while opposing the war. I've worried that in time they would turn on the troops as well.

So our troops have a duty to behave with the professionalism and honor we expect them to display every day in the most trying of circumstances. As hard as it must be, our soldiers and Marines must fight with restraint amidst a population that cannot be judged on sight as friendly, indifferent, or enemy. Fight and kill armed enemies ruthlessly. But don't make the situation worse by killing them all and letting Allah sort them out.