Thursday, August 31, 2006

Cluttering the Deck

In addition to purely diplomatic motives, China wants non-Taiwanese away from Taiwan just in case China launches an invasion. Bad to have foreigners get in the way and get killed whose home governments might object. Even worse is having foreing militaries on Taiwan who might actually fight at Taiwan's side and drag in the foreign country as a whole. Clearing the deck for action makes a lot of sense.

So Singapore's downgrading of military ties with Taiwan is a success for China. One less potential complication:

Singapore's operations in Taiwan remain shrouded in secrecy. While in Taiwan, Singaporean troops wear Taiwanese army uniforms distinguishable only by a separate insignia. Several former Singapore soldiers have confirmed this practice, Huxley writes.

And defense analysts estimate the number of troops sent to Taiwan for training has been slashed by half to about 7,000 annually. The bulk of Singapore's army now goes to Australia, where up to 6,600 soldiers train early year at Shoalwater Bay in Queensland.

You know, maybe Taiwan should set up their own smaller version of our OpFor by hiring some military affairs company (like MPRI, which planned the Croation Operation Storm in 1995 that beat the Serbs) to run one and rent time cheap to the militaries of other countries to run battalions through the training facilities. Singapore may be lost, but who knows who else might want to get some well-trained units. Heck, we could run Stryker battalions through such a Taiwanese NTC after flying them in!

Taiwan needs to add complications to Peking's calculations even as China tries to isolate the right side of the equation (and island). Clutter the deck, so to speak. While we are the most important complication, followed by Japan, that can keep China off of Taiwan, every little additional bit of complication is important to Taiwan when we don't know how China is calculating the risks of invading.

Yes, Gambling Really is Going On Upstairs

Sit down. This may come as a shock to you.

Ok, read on:

Key European nations will meet with Iran in September in a last-ditch effort to seek a negotiated solution to the standoff over Tehran's refusal to freeze uranium enrichment, a senior U.N. diplomat said Thursday.

The diplomat, who spoke on condition of anonymity because his information was confidential, said the U.N. Security Council will await the results of that meeting before acting on sanctions.

The council had said the deadline for an enrichment freeze was Thursday — the day that the International Atomic Energy Agency reported that Tehran was continuing with the activity, opening the path to punitive measures.

Iran will not stop pursuing nuclear weapons and yet another "final" deadline is being pushed back. I thought today was the deadline but now Iran has a couple weeks to yet again think over their formal "screw all of you we're going nuclear" answer.

I guess my speculation about imminent military action is dead wrong. The apparent inaction has been less than disturbing to me because I've assumed we wouldn't dare let Iran get away with going nuclear. I've assumed we're moving closer to action so there was no need to act tough. This still may be true, I hope.

But it is getting harder to maintain my faith that we will destroy the grave threat that Iran poses to us. I fear that in not too long we will warn Iran about their final deadline to dismantle their nuclear arsenal or else face travel sanctions.

Our patience will be rewarded with a nuclear crater somewhere, some day. That will be the legacy for President Bush if he doesn't defend us. And if he won't, who else will?

Oh no, wait, I forgot that we'll impose punitive travel restrictions on the mullahs. That'll show 'em. They'll only be able to fly to Russia and China and France and Syria and Venezuela and North Korea. Probably Belgium, too. But other than that--cut off completely!

Have a nice day.

UPDATE: NRO has an editorial starting:

At midnight tonight, the U.N. Security Council’s deadline for Iran to stop enriching uranium will pass, but the centrifuges at Natanz will keep spinning. That Iran has defied the deadline should surprise no one. What does surprise us is that the president who swore he would not “permit the world’s most dangerous regimes to threaten us with the world’s most destructive weapons” does not show more urgency in fulfilling that pledge.

The president did pledge to protect us from threats. He has reaffirmed the strategy of preemption. And I believe he is a man of his word, But the appearance of inaction continues to be disturbing. The question yet to be answered is whether the appearance fails to reflect the reality. I've been counting on that being the case. Am I foolish the believe that still? I am having my doubts.

If September passes without serious action I will have to seriously reconsider whether the president and his party are serious about protecting us from a nuclear threat.

This Makes Two

Iraqis will command another province:

According to the report, Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki said Iraqi security forces will take over Dhi Qar province in September. It will be the second province to come under the full control of Iraqi troops after the July handover of the southern Muthana province from British troops.

Progress is slow but real. Have patience, people. Slow victory is better than fast defeat. Those are our choices.


We divide up military responsibility for the globe with unified commands who plan for action in their area, build relations, and wage the fight if one comes in their region.

We are considering making Africa the responsiblity of its own unified command. Should we?

As we increase our relations with African states and possibly set up warm bases in the other Gulf to watch the region, this might be a good idea.

Right now, forces come largely under the command of European Command, as I mentioned in this article in Military Review regarding how we should configure the Army there.

Still, some regions of Africa should probably remain under CENTCOM or EUCOM responsibility. Keep the Horn, Sudan, and Egypt in CENTCOM. And keep Libya, Tunisia, Algeria, and Morocco under EUCOM. And Madagascar for PACOM.

But given that it makes sense to keep some of Africa in other commands, maybe SOUTHCOM should just absorb the central and southern Africa region instead of adding another unified command. That makes more sense to me than a new command as my initial impression.

Not Really Good Infantry

One of the problems with special operations forces is that higher headquarters often forget that they are not just really good infantry. It is a mistake to simply plug them in as just another line infantry outfit for a mission that any infantry unit can do.

Are we making this mistake with our special forces in this war? This article says we are misusing our SEALS as grunts.

I sure hope not. Five years into war we shouldn't be making rookie mistakes like this.

Save the snake eaters for snake-eating missions.

First Time Into the Breach, Dear Son

This last weekend, I taught Mister one of my old and basic war games, The Major Battles and Campaigns of General George S. Patton. I started war gaming when I was 10 with naval miniatures from Alnavco. I bought an American Fletcher class destroyer and Japanese Hibiki in 1:1200 scale. They were expensive (for a ten-year-old) and my mom was pretty sure I'd been ripped off. I bought the game Sea Power, but couldn't afford the prices so I made clay models from the catalog. I actually did a fair job eventually in taking the time to make decent looking models. I started with Pacific theater World War II to go with my two actual lead ships. Eventually I got bored and smashed most of them to make European theater Brits, Italians, and Germans to go with the American refugees from the Atlantic. I even smashed all these and went to World War I stuff for a little while. Lots of fun.

Today I have 1:2400 scale ships from Alnavco and also less expensive models from Panzerschiffe, with lots unpainted waiting for that mythical time when I have time. They can go with the unpainted modern and World War II armor, the unpainted Mediaeval knights and Saracens, the Gaul and Romans for the Battle of Alesia, and all the World War II and modern infantry that needs to be painted or remounted based on a new organization that I started many years ago. I have plenty of painted onesIve been collecting armor miniatures since grade school. Oh, and as long as were talking things to do when I have spare time, add in the three dozen books I have waiting to be read (and let's not even discuss my wish list on Amazon).

Time. It is a precious commodity. When do I get to retire?


Back to the Patton game. I figured Mister was ready for this game. He has played the old Sid Meier's Civilization for DOS and loves it. He smashes the computer chess even on the highest level. So Patton, which I got when I was 12 from my brother, and which started me on to a collection of board war games (and how many of those have I never played? Ok, probably almost everything after the age of 24. Time, again.)

So Saturday afternoon after lunch, I asked Mister if he wanted to learn a war game. He said sure. So I pulled it out and explained the basics. I told him what scenarios there were and who was involved. We chose the longest Sicily scenario and he chose to be the Allies at my suggestion. Being on strategic defense is tougher and less exciting and I figured the whole Italian defection rule would be pretty discouraging to him. Plus, as the Allies he didn't have to figure out how to set up his troops. They would slowly arrive, giving Mister the time to get used to the movement and combat system.

I set up and explained why I did some things. I also asked him what the effect of an alternative would be based on his question of why I deployed so many units out in the northwest near Palermo on the beaches. He didn't quite get it enough to tell me but when I then explained he seemed to understand.

So basically, I set up a light screen to keep him from waltzing into Messina, deployed two-thirds of my armor plus some infantry near Palermo, held Catania strongly, held the western-most beaches on the south, and posted one strong battlegroup in the southeast with infantry posted inland as a screen. I decided not to contest the beaches just to be nice on game one.

Mister landed his troops in a good manner, providing contiguous support. He didn't try to hit my strongly held beaches after I explained the price of failing to roll higher than me. As he built up his bridgehead, he finally moved inland to try to take his first city that would cause defections. I won that first battle. He hit me again and drove me back. I retook the city. All the while, I slowly stripped about half of my armor from the Palermo region and edged them closer to the southeast. Reinforcements just weren't coming for me as yet. But I had advised Mister on the value of keeping some units off the map so I couldn't completely abandon my beach defenses up there. He got that concept right away.

Finally, on his third try, Mister grabbed his first objective and I pulled back, letting Mister see the first defections. He really liked that rule.

As I fell back with a screen and a couple battlegroups to threaten attacking columns too exposed, Mister struck west on the south coast road into my infantry blocking units. He kept banging at them and I kept falling back. He was using only three armor and two infantry, but fighting only a couple infantry of mine at worst, I could not stop them as the got menacingly close to my western defection cities. In the southeast I kept pulling back trying not to lose too many of my infantry screen so I'd have units to lose to defections, and launched a couple sharp counter-attacks that started to kill off some of his armor. But I could not hold and kept retreating northeast.

I made one big play to stop his western force by waiting until he got close enough and rushing my three armored units to attack with infantry moved into blocking position to cut off the Allied force. Rolling three dice to his four, I lost an armored unit for my troubles and retreated; and then Mister attacked and wiped out my last two armored units. I had only four or five scattered infantry units and started getting them out of the way, using them to block roads until they defected.

Mister swept the western cities, landed his last infantry on Sicily seeing he needed no more off map reserves, and began a little gloating. I try hard to instill a little more sportsmanship than that but he was feeling his oats. And to be fair, I had made a blunder in the west. Mister also didn't over-commit to the west, keeping most of his army in the southeast ready to advance north. It actually looked a little bad for me.

So, with my forces concentrating on the eastern and northern coastal roads to protect the northeast corner, I pulled back outlying units to save them in order to defect. By the time the last objective city outside my small enclave fell, I was down to six armored units (I started with 9 armored and 24 infantry. I'd killed 4 or 5 Allied armor and perhaps a few more infantry, so Mister had 8 or 9 armor and about twice the infantry.

But he then made the classic mistake. He forgot that time is his enemy as much as my army. Thinking he'd won the war, he saw no reason to finish me off quickly.

So he slowly advanced his victorious Allied army on a broad front, inexplicably up the center of the island. I asked him why he was going that way. I would ask him questions to see if he'd adjust. But though he made minor changes he kept his slow advance going, bringing every last unit up before jumping forward again. And as he did, I started getting some reinforcements. Before long I had a dozen armored units defending on a three wide front. When he finally hit me, I could shift armor easily to the most threatened part making sure I had 5 dice. I only worried about some attrition without infantry to absorb losses. But I bounced him back again and again and finally received some infantry reinforcements. So when he punched into my center and drove my defenders back into Messina, I could counter-attack on multiple axes and push him back, losing infantry while killing his armor as he tried to put more dice into play by leaving infantry behind.

Before long, I had more combat power and way more armor than the Allied force and Mister started to realize that his gloating had been premature.

We ended the game with Messina secure. Mister was quite disappointed but was amazed that nearly four hours had gone by while we played. I was actually impressed with his grasp of some of the basics of fighting the campaign. I did emphasize that he took time for granted and that by failing to hit me hard while I was on the ropes, he let me recover. A lesson all generals should learn, I think. You have to be ruthless once you start a war game just like you must when at war in real life.

But we had fun. And I explained to Mister that I spend a lot of my youth playing these. In high school I had one good friend to play these with and we played in a group with a number of adults and we were the only minors. All the way through college, playing with friends, sometimes until dawn and often while drinking (I'm thinking Traveler, Star Fleet Battles, and Avalon Hill's Civilization here in particular), was common. I didn't explain the drinking part, of course. After my divorce, I managed to get a couple gamers together once a month but one is in law school and one has a new baby girl so gaming is lower in priority. I should try to gather them up again. Another is fairly close and interested but hasn't been able to cough up the time. Another is across the country. I keep buying games and more and more I have games with counters not even punched out. That would have horrified me as a youngster. Still does, actually.

But as time goes on, I may have an in-house opponent! How cool is that? This is something that kids can compete with adults on an even footing.

And I think I'll have quite the opponent based on the early round.

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Corn Husks

Christopher Hitchens (via Instpaundit) isn't having any of David Corn's climb down from his original fevered writings on the imaginary Affaire de Plame. Fitzmas was cancelled long ago and now the purveyors of this silly plot are left with nothing. But they do try to forget their recent claims. As Hitchens writes:

After you have noted that the Niger uranium connection was in fact based on intelligence that has turned out to be sound, you may also note that this heated moral tone ("thuggish," "gang") is now quite absent from the story. It turns out that the person who put Valerie Plame's identity into circulation was a staunch foe of regime change in Iraq. Oh, that's all right, then. But you have to laugh at the way Corn now so neutrally describes his own initial delusion as one that was "seized on by administration critics."

After patiently explaining to those who refuse to understand the straightforward explanation that Iraq was indeed trying to get Uranium from Africa, Hitchens has done another good job in exposing the sham of political opportunism gone mad in our political world. Sadly, nobody Corn hates will be frog-marched over this big non-scandal. Wilson is a truth-impaired idiot and Plame is an embarrassment of a CIA agent. Clearly they deserve each other. So does Armitage get sued by the Inspector Gadget couple for ruining what they think are their sterling reputations?

I go back to what I wrote nearly a year ago. I just want to know who sent the buffoon Wilson on such an important mission. That person should be frog-marched out of their office.

Clear and Present Danger

So, speaking of regime change in Iran, does this document (via Winds of Change) on Iran's threat to us become the basis for a debate in Congress next month about authorizing the use of force against Iran?

Iran poses a threat to the United States and its allies due to its sponsorship of terror, probable pursuit of weapons of mass destruction, and support for the insurgency in Iraq. The profile of the Iranian threat has increased over the last year due to the election of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who has made public threats against the United States and Israel, the continuation of Iranian nuclear weapons research, and the recent attacks by Hezbollah, an Iranian terrorist proxy, against Israel.

Sums it up nicely (if I can use that word). We cannot live with this regime having nukes. We can barely live with the mullahs when they don't have nukes, for God's sake.

Saddle up. The war ain't over yet.

What I Hope

The former president of Iran, Khatami, is coming to America:

State Department spokesman Tom Casey said the visa allowed Khatami to make a private visit that includes giving a speech at Washington's National Cathedral next week and attending a U.N. conference in New York on September 5 and 6.

The Shi'ite Muslim cleric would be the most high-profile Iranian to visit Washington since the United States cut diplomatic ties when 52 Americans were being held hostage at the U.S. Embassy in Tehran after the 1979 Islamic revolution.

The visit by former Iranian president Khatami who pretended to be a reformer at worst or was simply ineffective as a reformer (by his definition of "reformer") is being savaged by a panel at National Review. It is a betrayal of Iranian people striving for freedom, they say.

Could be. That was my first reaction, too. President Bush may be too dispirited to confront Iran. I don't think this is true, but I worry it might be true.

Or, to quote Slim Pickins in Dr. Strangelove, if the President is good, if he's really good, we've turned this purported reformer into an ally for regime change and are getting him safely to the United States in time for the revolution to begin at home in Iran. And Khatami will conventiently be at the UN in a week or so. If he has been a frustrated reformer, will he get a chance to speak up and prove it?

I know I'm hoping for a lot here from our President after a couple years of expecting action and seeing nothing, but if he's good--if he's really good ...

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Looking a Gift Horse in the Mouth

I've noticed gas prices coming down--to $2.66 around me. Considering that we've had plentiful crude oil supplies for a while now and prices have still been sky high, I don't quite get why this is part of the explanation of recent weakening of oil prices:

"A lot of people were banking on an active tropical (storm) season and so far it has been nonexistent in relation to platforms in the Gulf of Mexico," said James Cordier, president of Liberty Trading in Tampa, Fla.

With economic growth slowing and U.S. crude supplies plentiful, "we're running out of reasons to buy," Cordier added.

And of course the Iran factor. And BP isn't cutting its production from Alaska over the pipeline weakness as originally thought. The article counts both as reasons for the decline.

This makes little sense to me. Basically, we're short of excess oil production capacity, so prices are high based on the worry that any shortage around the world will cut production below usage needs. It has been this way for a while now. Hurricanes haven't cut supplies, it is noted. But that hasn't increased supplies--just not lowered them. BP cut supplies from Alaska only a little. So this still reduced the supply--just not by as much as first feared. Our demand isn't increasing as much as it might if economic growth was faster. So demand just isn't going up by as much--not falling. And Iran is still out there and scary. So the mullah factor is still keeping prices up. And correct me if Venezuela or Nigeria suddenly got stable.

So why are crude oil supplies plentiful right now? So plentiful that it counters the Iranian nuttery worry (and the Venezuela worry and Nigeria worry and whatever other worries are out there) that puts prices up $15 or $20 per barrel over what supply and demand would call for? The stated reasons don't explain why oil supplies are plentiful now. Not to me anyway.

Like I've said before, if I had years to plan an attack on Iran, I'd want higher stockpiles of oil to release on the market when we attack. That way when Iran stops exporting, there is still enough on the market to avoid panic buying in the short run.

I realize that I expect some type of military action so I look for clues that appear to be relevant dots. But I still must ask, what is up with the recent price fall?

Counter Offer

Ahmadinejad wants to debate President Bush:

In a news conference Tuesday, Ahmadinejad challenged Bush to a live debate on "world issues and the ways of solving the problems of the international community."

I say let's end this silly posturing and competition.

I say we counter-offer the debate proposal with Vice President Cheney taking Ahmadinejad out for a little friendly hunting trip. Just the two of them.

Choosing Sides

This article (via Instapundit) about Moslems in America is disturbing on a number of levels.

Living in a city where I see veiled Moslem women driving mini-vans, it is easy to assume that Moslems in America are not a threat to our country. I grew up next to Arab Dearborn and so Moslems are not strange to me. Indeed, we've seen few attempts by Moslems here to plot terror attacks. I am heartened by this and continue to be. This reinforces what I am disposed to believe by my experience.

But it is disturbing that the article says that Moslems here are pulling apart from our society and so are potentially at risk of siding with the jihadis.

But what can the society as a whole do when this article says that some Moslems are reacting to the perceived non-Moslem mistrust by retreating to strict Islam. I have to wonder, what are they thinking? Says the article:

The men and women I spoke to -- all mosque-goers, most born in the United States to immigrants -- include students, activists, imams and everyday working Muslims. Almost without exception, they recall feeling under siege after Sept. 11, with FBI agents raiding their mosques and homes, neighbors eyeing them suspiciously and television programs portraying Muslims as the new enemies of the West.

Such feelings led them, they say, to adopt Islamic symbols -- the hijab , or head covering, for women and the kufi , or cap, for men -- as a defense mechanism. Many, such as Rehan, whom I met at a madrassa (religious school) in California with her husband, Ramy, also felt compelled to deepen their faith.

They feel under siege? Are they serious? If they were truly under siege--if they were truly viewed as enemies by our society and government--would Moslems really dare to make it more obvious they are Moslems? What a bunch of crap. After five years, there is no siege of Moslems in this country. And the fact that some Moslems feel safe enough to make it more obvious they are Moslem by embracing the symbols of their religion should show how ridiculous this claim is. But it could be a self-fulfilling prophecy if more Moslems pull back out of mistrust and pseudo fear of retribution. Or is the author cherry picking?

In the conclusion of the article, the author reinforces my fear that Moslems are the ones unable to distinguish between terrorists and Islam by failing to truly condemn terrorists who are Moslems:

It is too soon to say where the growing alienation of American Muslims will lead, but it seems clear that the factors contributing to it will endure. U.S. foreign policy persists in dividing Muslim and Western societies, making it harder still for Americans to realize that there is a difference between their Muslim neighbor and the plotter in London or the kidnapper in Baghdad.

The constant and increasingly tiresome refrains about the "religion of peace" that our leaders, up to and including the president, use to distinguish Islam in general from terrorists should make this claim obviously rubbish. It is almost impossible for a government to mention Islamic terror without prefacing the comment with something about how we all know Islam is a religion of peace. We constantly emphasize we fight terrorists and not Islam.

So tell me, just what part of our foreign policy is dividing Moslems from Western socieities? Fighting and dying to give Moslems in Afghansitan and Iraq democracy? Is this anti-Islamic? But I thought supporting tyrants was anti-Islamic? That was then, I guess. Was saving Moslems in Somalia from starvation anti-Islamic? Liberating Moslem Kuwait? Saving Moslems in bosnia from genocide? Saving Molsems in Kosovo from genocide? Giving billions of dollars to Moslem Egypt? Protecting Moslem Gulf states from Iran?

If simply fighting somebody who is our enemy is anti-Islamic simply because that enemy is made up of Moslems, is simply defending ourselves now anti-Islamic? And if so, aren't Moslems saying there is no difference between terrorists who are Moslems and Islam generally? In 1944, were German Americans upset that we were fighting Nazi Germany? German Americans seemed to have no problem seeing a difference between hating Nazis and seeing German Americans as Americans. I don't recall a reflexive retreat to extolling German traditions. Moslems today in America are not imprisoned for being Moslem; fired for being Moslem; denied benefits for being Moslem; or otherwise deprived of life or liberty because of being Moslem.

Japanese Americans would have been ecstatic to have been under the so-called siege that some Moslems today feel they endure, if this article is to be believed. And the Japanese Americans of 1942 reacted not with cries of "Banzai!" and worship of the emperor; but with enlistment in the United States Army to fight for our country. That was love of country, folks. To serve though society mistrusted them. The same could be said for African Americans who served their country despite segregation and a far more real siege of their lives. So don't even try to tell me that occasional worried glances directed toward a Moslem in traditional Islamic attire is a siege. If that was true, the Amish would be crashing buggy bombs into shopping centers. Let's not even talk about what Hari Krishnas would be doing in airports. Oh, and how about black-clad teenagers into the whole Goth thing? Tell me you don't stare at them in wonder.

But somehow, I am supposed to believe that a Saddam who slaughtered Moslems in the hundreds of thousands was not anti-Islamic but our destroying Saddam's regime is anti-Islamic. And trying to prevent the Ilsamic Sudanese government form killing black Moslems in Darfur is anti-Islamic, too.

American foreign policy decidedly does not in any way divide Moslems from the West. Indeed, those Moslems who refuse to accept that we rightly fight islamic terrorists are the ones who are unable to distinguish Moslem neighbors from terrorists.

Should these ordinary Moslems continue to display discomfort about fighting terrorists who are Moslems simply because the terrorsits are Moslems, the ordinary Moslems will have succeeded in dividing the West from Islam. And if our society ever agrees with them, these Moslems will discover what being under siege really means. Proudly displaying the symbols of their faith will not be a rational response to that world.

I truly hope we can avoid that future. As the article notes, we are far from having Moslems who view America as the enemy. But I'm not at all convinced that responsibility for preventing that possible dire future lies with our society in general rather than with peace-loving Moslems who live here. But again, is this a widely held view that the auhtor is describing or the author's view alone? And is it a trans-national belief that would oppose American policy if we were fighting back agasint attackers who are Hindus or Anglicans, too?

There is a difference between Islam and Islamic terrorists. The problem isn't whether the white, Christian residents of Des Moines, Iowa believe this--they do. The problem is whether the Moslem residents of Dearborn, Michigan believe it. Do they?

As I've come back to in this rant, the above interpretation of Moslems separating and becoming a fifth column could just be one author's view. My frustration could easily just be about his interpretation, as I note especially about his conclusion in the second quoted passage. This posting (again, via Instapundit) disagrees and doesn't think that Moslem identity means proto-terrorists are being created in America. And he has a great point. Being worried is rather normal under the circumstances (And this doesn't mean I think they are in danger of prison camp futures). Are Moslems as a group any more upset than your average Kos Kid, DUer, or fan? So what if the writer could get some good scary quotes? That can't be tough to do. And the poster says Moslems put up with the added scrutiny with some faith in our society in the long run. If IRA bombers were behind the controls on 9/11, I'd really have to suck it up that "Dunn" is on a watch list. I wouldn't like it. But I wouldn't be inspired to become an IRA terrorist because people looked suspiciously at my pasty white face.

The question is whether those individuals quoted in the article are representative of all or even many Moslems in America. In America, we are free to be unhappy with our government and express it peacefully. The fact that there isn't violent jihadi extremism rampant--or even budding, it seems--in our Moslem community is a major factor in arguing against the idea that Londonistan is brewing here.

So I come full circle. I worry about Moslems here mistaking normal vigilance for persecution--perhaps incited by the likes of the WP article to believe they are persecuted. And I worry about a replay of how we treated Japanese-Americans in World War II. I don't think either is likely, but I worry. And I worry a great deal that ordinary Moslems don't condemn what is done in their name--out of fear or some level of sympathy--by Moslem terrorists.

But I have faith that in America, which has absorbed so many immigrants from different cultures, that Islam is just one more culture. Why should Islam be any different in the face of our society's power to give hope and inspire the allegiance of immigrants to our ideals of freedom and personal liberty?

Perhaps the sight of mini-van driving veiled Moslem women in my city should be what sticks with me, after all. Really, according to al Qaeda, those Moslem women and the Moslem husbands, brothers, and fathers who don't stop such behavior have chosen sides--our side.

UPDATE: Strategypage both bolsters my view about our ability to absorb Moslem immigrants and my nagging worry that it might not be possible.

First the encouraging part:

The enthusiasm for Islamic terrorism, among some Moslem migrants in Europe and North America, is not unprecedented. In fact, it's rather common, under the proper conditions. First, you need migrants from a country or region that is undergoing unrest. Such was the case with Ireland and Italy in the 19th century, when millions of Irish and Italian immigrants came to the United States. Many of these migrants got involved in violent political organizations, inspired by the continuing battle for freedom (or whatever) back home. The Irish had a resurgence of these pro-terrorist attitudes in the 1970s, which went on for several decades. Small groups of American Jews joined terrorist groups in the 70s and 80s, in response to the first wave of Islamic terrorism. Armenian, Tamil (Sri Lanka) and Sikh (Indian) migrants to the United States were involved with international terrorism during the last few decades of the 20th century.

This sympathy wears off with the children and grandchildren of the immigrants. One of my grandfathers--the Irish one--was convinced we went to war in 1941 for British and not our interests. That didn't stop my dad from enlisting in the US Navy in 1945. Nor does it mean I ever supported IRA terrorism. And other immigrant groups have been pulled by loyalties to the old country.

But one unknown nags at me:

Unfortunately, it's not easy to get rid of these bad attitudes. Typically, it takes three or more generations to get rid of them. That is becoming more difficult because of satellite TV channels. News and entertainment from the old country is thus easily available, and makes it easier to resist adapting to your new surroundings. That is something new, and the consequences are not yet known.

I'd feel better if our public schools--as was one of their original purposes--inculcated a sense of Americanism in our immigrant children.

Monday, August 28, 2006

The Other Part of the Deal

As I've written about before, one of the problems with getting the Sunnis to halt their support of the insurgency is the Shia revenge campaign. The Sunnis seemed on the path to giving up until the February Samarra mosque bombing. Fear of disarming in the face of Iranian-supported Shia death squads has made it tough for the Sunnis to surrender.

And the government dominated by Shias has a hard time cracking down on fellow Shias who go after the Sunnis who have slaughtered them under Saddam and in the insurgency.

The deal with Sunni tribal leaders was one part of bringing the Sunnis in from the cold.

Going after the Shia death squads is the other part of what must be done to end Sunni resistance:

Two dozen Iraqi soldiers were killed in fierce street fighting with Shi'ite militiamen in the city of Diwaniya on Monday in some of the bloodiest clashes yet among rival factions in Shi'ite southern Iraq.

Thirty seven people were killed, according to army, militia and medical sources. Five soldiers were posted missing in a battle officials said began late on Sunday when troops tried to detain men of the Mehdi Army militia of cleric Moqtada al-Sadr.

The pieces are coming together. But this takes time, unfortunately. Have some patience and we will win this and take a big step toward winning the Long War, too.

UPDATE: Coalition forces will be going into Sadr's turf in Baghdad in a week or so. And the article also clarifies that in the Diwaniyah 12-hour clash, 20 soldiers died and 50 militia members died. The militia got the worst of that exchange. While the Iraqi army toll is high by our standards, the training clearly paid off in killing the enemy at a 2.5:1 ratio. The Shia militias will find the Iraqi army a tougher foe than people the thugs have picked up in the middle of the night to execute. I imagine the Sunnis chiefs who signed the loyalty pledge will watch how the operations against the Sadr thugs go with interest.

Look Out For Tradition

In Afghanistan, centuries of tradition are threatening our efforts to form a somewhat effective central government reigning over loosely associated provinces:

The "center", in true Afghan tradition, tends to take care of itself, at the expense of the provinces. The provinces (the tribes) take it for a while, get really, really upset, and rebel. At the moment, provinces are unhappy, edging towards restless. That's already happening in the south, where the pro-Taliban tribes never really accepted losing control of the country five years ago.

Add in more poppy production and some Taliban who are getting some training, and we could face open revolt of unhappy provincials who see the central government as just another tribe taking care of its own.

The jihadi enemy has suffered very heavy casualties in their latest summer offensive; but the real threat is fighting the local tradition that tends to create enemies inside Afghanistan.

We wouldn't care if it wasn't for the fact that in the remote areas, jihadis have trained to kill us and could again if we don't help the locals police the area.

This is a serious problem for us. We really need a strategy that doesn't rely on overcoming ways of life stretching back centuries. It would be nice to have a high altitude Sweden in Central Asia but if that proves too ambitious, what do we do?

A Little Sympathy, Perhaps?

Steve Centanni and Olaf Wiig are home safe after their ordeal:

Two journalists for the FOX News Channel, Steve Centanni and Olaf Wiig, were released Sunday in Gaza after being kidnapped and held for almost two weeks in circumstances that remain as murky as the heretofore unknown group responsible for the abduction, the Holy Jihad Brigades.

I was going to offer comments on how Western reporters, while reporting on the conflict between jihadi thugs and the West, slant their reporting. Not out of malice. The reporters quite naturally fear kidnapping and beheading by Islamo-fascists. Even sympathetic reporters risk this fate. By contrast, what reporter fears Western governments? At worst they spend some short time in a comfy prison and then right a book about their "ordeal" that Cindy Sheehan praises on the dust jacket. The Corner did it already.

The networks really need to question their policy of live shots. Let the reporters report back to the studio and have the studio talent secure away from the beheaders report.

So Western reporters quite naturally tend not to report fully on enemy crimes. They hint at them. They talk past them. But they don't want a target on their backs. They quite naturally want to go home healthy and whole.

Just like our troops want to go home safely.

I'm not saying our reporters should ignore criminal actions by soldiers and Marines. I expect our troops to risk death to fight the enemies and I expect them to obey the laws of war and rules of engagement, too.

But if some of our troops fail, even as we seek to punish them, perhaps our reporters will have a little more sympathy about the pressures our troops face when all they want to do is finish their tour of duty and go home safely.

The reporters can say they are all soldiers and Marines, now, right?

Sunday, August 27, 2006

Never Stop at the Headline

Violence is raging despite the crack down in Baghdad this article says:

A wave of bomb attacks and shootings swept Iraq Sunday, killing dozens of people despite a massive security operation in the capital and appeals from Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki for an end to sectarian fighting.

So where is the violence?

Let's see, according to the article:

1. Khalis: 50 miles north of Baghdad.
2. Another Khalis attack.
3. Eastern Baghdad.
4. Southeast of Baghdad.
5. Tarmiyah: 30 miles north of Baghdad.
6. Downtown Baghdad.
7. Kirkuk.
8. Another in Kirkuk.
9. Basra.
10. Mosul.
11. Numaniyah: 100 miles southeast of Baghdad.
12. Dujail: 50 miles north of Baghdad.
13. Mahmoudiya: 20 miles south of Baghdad.

So, despite the security operation in Baghdad, violence is happening in Iraq. Two of the thirteen incidents cited actually happened in Baghdad.

Somebody notify CENTCOM that their Baghdad patrols aren't stopping attacks in Basra or Kirkuk. Heads will roll over this, I'm sure.

This Settles It. We Are on the Verge of Victory

I confess I think little of Michael O'Hanlon's analytical abilities. I hardly follow his work but when I read him I either think he's banal or almost amusingly wrong.

O'Hanlon (via Real Clear Politics) thinks we must consider encouraging ethnic cleansing in Iraq to separate the Sunnis, Shias, and Kurds. And let the Sunnis have oil revenue in their enclave even though they have no oil in Sunni areas.

Well, granting Sunnis oil money surely won't encourage those nimrods to give up, now will it?

And just how do we split Baghdad? Are the Sunnis to be expelled to Anbar to enjoy the sand and sun? Or work out the inter-marriage between the three major groups?

Oh, and he cites Bosnia as an example of how this can work in practice.

I'll at least say that this article isn't banal.

Exqueeze Me?

Hizbollah's Nasrallah says he wouldn't have sparked a war had he known how Israel would respond:

"We did not think, even 1 percent, that the capture would lead to a war at this time and of this magnitude. You ask me, if I had known on July 11 ... that the operation would lead to such a war, would I do it? I say no, absolutely not," he said in an interview with Lebanon's New TV station.

I find this fascinating after his loud bellowing that he won the war. Is he really saying he'd go without his great victory if he could do it all over again? Why is he confessing error now?

I might have to reconsider my assessment of who won the war--though I was always sure that tactically the Israelis pounded Hizbollah. I figured the post-war events would determine the war winner. What will the UN and Lebanese government do in southern Lebanon?

Maybe Nasrallah started calling his people to congratulate them on their win and got too many widows answering his calls.


War With Iran

The "military option" against Iran must be approached as a war with the final objective of overthrowing the mullah regime.

The military option against Iran to halt or delay their nuclear progress will undoubtedly prompt an Iranian military response.

So when we speak of how we could attack Iran's nuclear infrastructure, we have to remember that we would have to hit a very broad target set for an extended period of time. It would look an awful lot like war. Because it will be a war. Don't be confused that we can strike briefly from the air, tell the mullahs tough luck but no hard feelings, and go on our merry way thinking the whole ugly episode is behind us.

Indeed, even with an extended and thorough campaign, we would only buy time in the hope that the mullahs would be overthrown before they rebuild and seek revenge.

While better than nothing, we've surely had the time to prepare something better than kicking the problem down the road to the next administration. So ultimately, regime change is our only real option for lasting results.

I assume we are preparing to hit Iran. Even if we aren't and are hoping for the best with no real plan to initiate a solution to this grave problem, we should at least be prepared to pounce on any Iranian miscalculation that gives us the excuse to hammer them.

I still can't believe we'd let Iran under the mullahs get nukes.

War is the only way to stop these nuts. Change the regime. No lesser results can preserve our safety.

Saturday, August 26, 2006

Lessons Learned: First Impressions

DID has links to preliminary lessons of the Hizbollah War.

Unfortunate Cookie

China can't be happy these days.

Taiwan and Japan are enjoying closer ties.

And North Korea is expressing unhappiness about China's value as an ally.

I thought ancient Chinese patience was supposed to run circles around our short-term spasms of foreign policy. Yet China doesn't seem to be making friends and influencing people in the Western Pacific region.

I would not trade places with China. Not ever.

Cunning Nordic Monsters!

Michigan has arrived apparently. Sophistication has reached a level sufficient to attract the attention of that Swedish giant of tastefully subdued home products, IKEA. The Swedish way of furnishing your home in affordable good taste is now available in southeastern Michigan. Living in Ann Arbor, I of course received the catalog for the new store.

"Who says quality has to be expensive," the catalog asks. Imagine, the stuff is made of actual NUMERAR oak! And the "A" has that little umlaut over it! How European! I don't know what that word means, of course, but it screams quality, no? In ten years we'll probably learn it means "particle board" just like so many people at first fell for the French-sounding "FAUX" pearls that Home Shopping Network peddled many years ago. How long did women boast of their "faux" pearls, anyway?

But the purported quality didn't impress me. Who doesn't boast of quality? Other than dollar stores, that is. Not even the umlauted wood moved me.

What really impressed me was the appeal to harried parents.

"Kids are welcome at IKEA stores!" the catalog shouts.

IKEA boasts strollers, close parking for parents of small kids, food, snacks, diaper changing stuff, and the most diabolical of all:

You can stop saying 'don't touch that!' All day. Kids can touch the toys and furniture, open drawers, sit on sofas and lie down on the beds and so can you!

They conclude "So, bring the whole family! You won't have to hire a babysitter, and best of all, you'll be glad you brought your kids with you."

So I thought to myself, "You clever Swedish bastards. Bravo. Well played, indeed, you blonde Nordic marketing geniuses."

Oh, not all the stuff is brilliantly and diabolically clever. Changing rooms? So what? Every store has something, it seems. Close parking? Nice. But really, that's why people fake handicaps to get placards to park close. Snacks? Just how long can you shop? Surely the unavailability of food is not a limiting factor. And what do you think young yuppies put in those SUV-sized strollers complete with coffee cup holders? Their tots could live a week on the stored food on one of those babies.

It isn't so much what IKEA offers, but what they've unleashed on their unsuspecting competitors.

Consider the appeal of telling parents their kids can touch stuff and hop on furniture and look in drawers and all that. The freedom for parents to shop without constantly policing their children will surely be a thrill the first time the family goes to IKEA. And the second will be nice, too. By the third, the grimly utilitarian Swedish kitchen products won't be quite as appealing. You'll notice that the NUMERAR oak isn't really all that special, after all, notwithstanding the umlaut. And then you'll go back to Sears, or Marshall Fields, or Macy's.

And that's where you will face the horrifying fact that IKEA, in only a few trips, has actually trained your children to touch the toys and furniture, open the drawers, sit on the sofas, and lie down on the beds. And the sales associates at the non-IKEA stores are not surprisingly less than enthusiastic about that behavior.

So all of a sudden you have double up--nay, triple--your rate of corrections to your children to stop touching the products. Put that expensive looking thing down! And get off that bed! Your shoes are getting the bedspread dirty! Sigh. You drag your children out of the store, embarrassed at the looks of other shoppers and you never did pick up any of those towels on sale.

The screams surely reach all the way to Stockholm where a Swede in a suit, in a very large IKEA-furnished office, smiles in a quiet reserved sort of way.

So you give up on your past favorite stores. You are compelled to return to IKEA. The IKEA associates welcome you and assume that reserved smile as your kids slam desk drawers closed over and over again.

Years go by and after a while, you have to replace everything and you find you can only go to IKEA. Slowly, you begin to even like the Swedish decorating philosophy. It becomes your own. You don't even remember what it was like to shop at Art Van. And who would want to? Art Van doesn't have furniture made of NUMERAR wood! How gauche! What are they? Wal-Mart?

You even start to consider driving a Volvo. Funny how you once thought that "boxy" cars looked dorky. Hey, the IKEA travel mug fits so nicely in the cup holder! Eventually, you write a letter to PBS complaining about cultural insensitivity over Sesame Street's Swedish Chef and his hateful accent that contributes to anti-Swedish bigotry. And writing such a letter doesn't even seem odd to you as you tell the IKEA cashier about your latest human rights work as she rings up your new polished steel pasta cooker.

And when your kids are grown and move out on their own, you have been part of IKEA so long that it doesn't even occur to you that you can shop elsewhere.

Like I said, bravo IKEA. Well played. You magnificent bastards.

I naturally stabbed my catalog several times, set it afire, churned the ashes, and hosed the residue down on the lawn. Then I shoveled up my catalog puree and threw it in the Huron River.

I'm not taking any chances.

Tail Doesn't Die Much

Belmont Club discusses a Washington Post article (click through to Belmont Club for the Wapo link) that discusses the relatively low American casualties in Iraq. It is even possible to make comparisons of death rates for our civilians and not have the death rate of our military personnel that much higher.

The article also compares death rates among the services:

Marines are paying the highest toll in Iraq. Their death rate is more than double that of the Army, 10 times higher than that of the Navy and 20 times higher than for the Air Force. In fact, those in the Navy and Air Force have substantially lower death rates than civilian men ages 20 to 34.

This is a tad misleading. The Marines are in Anbar Province fairly exclusively while Army troops are in Anbar, Baghdad, and other regions. So Marines are probably on average in tougher areas. All things being equal, the Marines probably are paying the highest toll as far as death rates go. But things aren't equal.

One, Marines tend to have less armor and also have a culture that accepts casualties more readily than Army units. So they are more vulnerable and just used to casualties.

In addition, the Marines have little "tail"--the support troops that supply a ground force in the field. Tens of thousands of Army troops were attached to the Marines in 2003 for the invasion. And now, the Army provides the logistics tail which the Marines plug into to fight this war. If the Marines provided their own tail, the Marine average loss rate would go down while the Army--which wouldn't have extra support troops to supply the Marines--would see their rate go up.

Mind you, I'm not downplaying the sacrifice of Marines. Given where they fight, their death rate probably is the highest even if discussing only line units. But twice the rate isn't an accurate reflection of the risks Marine combat units face compared to Army combat units.

That's all I'm saying on this. Nothing is ever simple, eh?

The Horrors of Rice Pilaf Do End Eventually

Along with the horrors of rice pilaf, weight gain, bad pop music, and air conditioning stuck on high, we are assured by our Leftish brethren (and sisters, too, to keep in the spirit of the whole thing) that those lost innocent souls languishing in Guantanamo have no hope to ever leave that place other than with a toe tag.

Even if true, I find it hard to work up a real tear over their fate without pulling out a nose hair, but perhaps that's just me.

But it isn't true at all, of course, thet the detainees have no hope of leaving healthy and a little heavier. There is review, and many hopelessly incarcerated prisoners do go home. One darling recently left, in fact:

With this transfer, approximately 310 detainees have departed Guantanamo for other countries, including Albania, Afghanistan, Australia, Bahrain, Belgium, Denmark, Egypt, France, Germany, Iran, Iraq, Jordan, Kuwait, Maldives, Morocco, Pakistan, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Spain, Sweden, Sudan, Tajikistan, Turkey, Uganda, United Kingdom, and Yemen.

Our dead from 9/11 and the war remain dead, but these alleged scum do get to leave if proven not totally scummy. Some may even be completely innocent. Some return home to fight us.

But still, they do eat rice pilaf a lot. So our Left can complain about something in Gitmo.

A Really Good Sign

Negotiating with the tribal chiefs in Iraq has been going on for quite some time--at least a year if my memory serves me. They are coming on board:

Al-Maliki won endorsement of his program for bridging religious, ethnic and political divisions at a national conference of tribal chiefs. A representative of the chiefs read their agreement on live television, calling it a "pact of honor."

"Realizing the gravity of the situation our country is undergoing, we pledge in front of God and the Iraqi people to be sincere and serious in preserving the unity of our country," said the agreement signed by tribal leaders and sheiks.

The chiefs also pledged to "work hard to stop the bloodletting and ... sectarian killings that have nothing to do with our values."

The endorsement was a boost to al-Maliki because tribal ties wield considerable influence in Iraqi society, especially among rural people for whom clan bonds are vital.

"Hundreds" signed.

Getting their cooperation to end the bloodletting has been an important objective in an effort to end Sunni resistance to the new government of Iraq. The Baathists can't win. The foreign jihadis can't win. And with Sunnis more cooperative, the lingering resistance of the Sunni-based Baathist and jihadi terrorists can be squashed in time.

Then Iranian-sponsored Shia thugs will be the last real internal threat to defeat.

Then we'll need to work on corruption in the new government, of course.

But we've held in the face of different threats over the years since we first crossed the berms into Iraq in March 2003. I remain confident that we can overcome the threats to success remaining. This latest news is another step toward winning.

Once Again, With Feeling

I am truly constantly amazed by those on the anti-war side who continually insist that the President "misled" us into war or outright lied about Iraqi WMD. Intelligent and otherwise normal people really believe this.

Despite the fact that in December 1998, President Clinton bombed Iraq (almost unilaterally, with Britain as the only major contributing ally as in 2003, as a matter of fact) to degrade Iraqi WMD programs and weapons. At the time, I remember that the claim was only that we'd set them back a year or two.

Austin Bay posts a guest column that reminds us--yet again--in the endless debate over Iraqi WMD, that we had every reason to believe Iraq had WMD. The conclusion:

The simple fact of the matter is that it would have imprudent–and just plain dumb–to take on faith Saddam Hussein’s assurances about the destruction of his WMD stocks. He had them, he used them, he claimed to destroy them, but wouldn’t allow anyone to verify that claim. To say now that it should have been obvious in 2003 that there were no WMD in Iraq, given the history of the regime and the behavior of its mad dictator, is not only unsupportable, it is irresponsible, and even borders on silly.

For the anti-war side that continues to spout the mislead/lie charge, was it a lie in 1998? If so, why did President Clinton lie? And if not, exactly when between 1998 and 2003 did Saddam get rid of all of his WMD and WMD programs? And why didn't anybody else report this?

Remember, our CIA and the intelligence services of our European and Middle East allies thought Saddam had WMD (poison gas, specifically); and the UN confirmed that Saddam did not verify the destruction of known purchases of WMD ingredients and WMD stockpiles and components.

It is amazing to still have to continue the debate-that-will-not-end when it is so bloody obvious that there was no lying or misleading going on by the administration. Oh, there is misleading and lying going on, no doubt. But then that is why the debate won't end.

Personally, I'm still waiting for version 5.0 of what happened to Saddam's WMD.


Are the Iranians getting bolder?

An Iranian plant that produces heavy water officially went into operation on Saturday, despite U.N. demands that Tehran stop the activity because it can be used to develop a nuclear bomb.

Not to worry, though:

Mohammed Saeedi, the deputy head of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran, said the heavy water plant is "one of the biggest nuclear projects" in the country, state-run television reported. He said the plant will be used in the pharmaceutical field and in diagnosing cancer.

Oh, and it will probably make baby formula, too.

So get those thoughts of Iran building atomic weapons right out of your silly head!

The Real Enemy

For quite some time I've questioned why we assume that attacking Iran would turn Iranians who hate the mullahs into pro-mullah nuclear weapon advocates. I've stated in support that those who hate President Bush wouldn't rally around the flag if the Woman's Studies Department at Berkeley was destroyed by al Qaeda:

I've long doubted that the Iranian people will rally to their hated government if we attack them. This runs counter to history when factions hated near enemies more than far enemies and saw foreign intervention as a means to defeat local enemies. I will point out again, would any attack by our Islamist enemies short of the destruction of the Berkeley Women's Studies Department inspire to rally to President Bush?

So this post at the Huffington Post (via Instapundit) is most instructive:

What if another terror attack just before this fall's elections could save many thousand-times the lives lost?

I start from the premise that there is already a substantial portion of the electorate that tends to vote GOP because they feel that Bush has "kept us safe," and that the Republicans do a better job combating terrorism.

If an attack occurred just before the elections, I have to think that at least a few of the voters who persist in this "Bush has kept us safe" thinking would realize the fallacy they have been under.

If 5% of the "he's kept us safe" revise their thinking enough to vote Democrat, well, then, the Dems could recapture the House and the Senate[.]

Yeah, chin up you bastard. Eggs and omelets, don't you know?

You know, I manage to go through my days without wishing horrors on our allies and friends who don't share our view of the jihadi threat. I don't want dead Germans or Frenchmen or Spaniards to prove the point they should fight with us fully.

It horrifies me that Americans can look on the bright side of another 9/11. But oh no, don't ever call them unpatriotic. Heaven forbid.

Friday, August 25, 2006

Death or Glory

Iraqi Deputy Prime Minister Adil Al-Mahdi said exactly what I've been preaching for three years now:

But the government is stronger than ever. Our armed forces is getting much better than before in number, in quality, in operations. They are leading operations now. In 204 (sic/2004), it was MNF leading the operations. The Iraqi army is doing a good job in Baghdad, as Secretary Rumsfeld said.

All the reports we had says now for five weeks there is a trend for decreasing violence.

There is a lot of work to be done with our neighboring countries, on the international level, with the United States here. And there is a lot of work to be done also on investment, on reconstruction, which is necessary. We have stable areas in Iraq. Seventy percent of Iraq is in a stable situation, secured one. So reconstruction works should be done there. This will enforce security also.

So we are fully optimistic of our future. The Iraqi people think that there is no other issue but victory in Iraq. The Iraqi people can't leave the country. There is no withdrawal for the Iraqi people. The MNF are supporting the Iraqi people and will continue to support and have the sympathy of Iraqis.

So we are really very grateful, Secretary Rumsfeld, for all your efforts, all your assistance to Iraq and the Iraqi people. We shed blood together in this battle, and we'll continue our work together.

Thank you.

We don't need to beat the insurgents. We have provided a shield behind which the Iraqis have formed a government, army, police force, and other security organs. Despite Baathists, Sunni fanatics, imported jihadis, and Iranian pawns, we have provided that shield. We lost time in the first year by training the wrong type of security force (and training them poorly) but we have learned and adapted.

We don't need to stay long enough to completely beat the Sunnis and foreign jihadis--we will have an allied government to do it for us. Remember, the Shias can't get tired and go home. If they lose, they die. And with 60% of the population and another 20% of the population as Kurdish allies, the Iraqi government really can't lose. The only question is whether the government exterminates or ethnically cleanses the Sunnis out of Iraq.

Mind you, I want to win this in a way that promotes democracy, but even if that fails we've accomplished much just by ending a hostile minority government that murdered the majority and threatened the entire region. Indeed, I think we can still get our maximum objective despite the difficulties we've faced. They are not unique to war and as long as we adapt and persist, we will win.

I don't understand the pessimism of many war supporters. Is it such a surprise that our enemies want to win and won't just surrender? Consider our success. We've created an ally in the war on jihadi terrorists who will fight and win the battle inside Iraq after we leave to fight the war elsewhere. Given the failure of most of our traditional allies to really commit themselves to the war, isn't creating new allies the next best thing to fighting on our own?

Hold the line people. Running never wins a war.

Getting Ready to Shovel Money?

South Korea has not been exactly cooperative with us in trying to box in North Korea.

So when South Koreans meet with the Chinese, who also kind of like having a nuclear armed loose cannon pointed at America and Japan, I have to worry:

A nuclear test by the communist North would be "a grave situation of a different level from missile launches," Song Min-soon said after returning from a two-day trip to China, South Korea's Yonhap news agency reported.

"South Korea and China have agreed to continue cooperation not to let that situation occur," Song was quoted as saying. He did not elaborate on how the two countries would cooperate.

Since neither China nor South Korea seem interested in cornering North Korea and attempting to collapse the regime or at least coerce them into behaving, their cooperation seems likely to mean an agreement to bribe North Korea. Said the South Korean foreign minister Ban Ki-moon:

"We need to exhibit resolve in denouncing North Korea's bad behavior whilst having the wisdom not to corner North Korea into a dead end with no way out," Ban told foreign correspondents in Seoul.

Yep. I bet they are going to give North Korea a way out lined with money.

It really is up to America and Japan alone to solve this problem.

Advance Guard?

In any confrontation with the West, Iran has three main ways to counter-attack: strike Israel, strike in Iraq, and cut off oil flows.

Cutting off the Gulf completely is beyond Iran's capabilities. Our Navy and even our allies will help keep the oil flowing.

Iran could cut off their exports but that would deprive them of revenue and risks a blockade of refined oil products coming into Iran by America and our allies. If I am right and we've been squirreling away oil in preparation for a confrontation, this blunts the Iranian threat to halt its own oil sales.

And Israel, for all their tribulations in Lebanon, has blunted Hizbollah as a weapon to attack Israel if Iran is attacked.

And according to this article, the clamp down in Baghdad is starting to work. We shall see if this is a lull until the enemy reacts or whether we have mounted a successful operation. But the key is in the short run, perhaps Iran's ability to foment trouble in Iraq is blunted as well.

The article also has this interesting bit:

In the south, British troops abandoned their base in Maysan province, which had been under almost nightly attack, and prepared to head deep into the marshlands along the Iranian border to hunt gun smugglers.

The 600 soldiers will form a highly mobile unit traveling in stripped-down Land Rovers armed with heavy machine guns and will have no permanent base.

With our AC-130s in support, they could do a lot of damage. And this damage could be on defense or on offense.

So with Iranian options blunted, are we finally getting ready to strike Iran? Sending Brits to the border in this fashion could be to support Iranian troops in revolt, I think. Or it could be a recon screen to keep Iranians from penetrating to the Iraq side of the border to see other things going on. Perhaps. Just why the British would need to abandon their base for a defensive mission is beyond me. They need to draw supplies from somewhere. Are they drawing supply from a higher headquarters? Are the British troops released from duty in Muthanna Province, turned over to Iraqi authority last month, moving to jumping off points for action against Iran?

Or it could just be a defensive shield as advertised. I admit I'm looking for evidence of pending military action so am prone to see it.

But you never know.

On the other hand, the reaction by locals to the British evacuation is not exactly a sterling example of transitioning authority. Is looting a national sport or something?

We Shall See

If war is an extension of politics by other means, as Clausewitz argued, then we cannot ignore politics when the war "ends."

Like I said earlier about the Hizbollah War, Israel clearly roughed up Hizbollah severely. But Hizbollah survived to boast of smiting Jews. Whether Israel wins in the long run depends on the UN and Lebanese attitudes toward what Hizbollah caused.

While I have little hope of the UN doing anything of use, perhaps the Lebanese people will deliver the final blow to Hizbollah (via Real Clear Politics) by turning on Nasrallah and his band of Iranian hand puppets:

Hezbollah had to declare victory for a simple reason: It had to pretend that the death and desolation it had provoked had been worth it. A claim of victory was Hezbollah's shield against criticism of a strategy that had led Lebanon into war without the knowledge of its government and people. Mr. Nasrallah alluded to this in television appearances, calling on those who criticized him for having triggered the war to shut up because "a great strategic victory" had been won.

The tactic worked for a day or two. However, it did not silence the critics, who have become louder in recent days. The leaders of the March 14 movement, which has a majority in the Lebanese Parliament and government, have demanded an investigation into the circumstances that led to the war, a roundabout way of accusing Hezbollah of having provoked the tragedy. Prime Minister Fuad Siniora has made it clear that he would not allow Hezbollah to continue as a state within the state. Even Michel Aoun, a maverick Christian leader and tactical ally of Hezbollah, has called for the Shiite militia to disband.

The winners and loser hang in the balance in this war yet. We must keep our attention focused to bend events our way and not let Hizbollah get up off the mat, brush themselves off, and uncrate new Iranian and Syrian weapons for the next round.

Taking out the mullahs would certainly end the problem at the source.

College Days

I see that the budding friendship between Axis of El Vil member Hugo Chavez and Axis of Evil honcho Ahmadinejad is having an effect:

Authorities seized several U.S. diplomatic bags at Venezuela's main airport on Thursday, prompting protest from embassy officials and a probe into the Americans' actions by prosecutors.

Yep, if you want the big promotion to the Axis of Evil, ignoring embassy sanctuary and diplomatic niceties is step one. I'm sure Ahmadinejad had lots of fun stories about his days as a student holding America hostage.

Yep, good time. Good times.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Pretty Soon We're Talking Real Land Area

Our allies help us and they are derided by some as "poodles." So what do you call a country that surrenders land to another one? Crank up your nuance to "11" to ponder this one.

Mark Steyn notes that Russia has leased 10,000 square kilometers of land to China for 49 years:

The Federal Forestry Agency recently announced plans to lease 1 million hectares of woodlands to China for 49 years, "The Moscow Times" reported on August 23. The daily carried a commentary from Ekho Moskvy radio that argued that "Russia has not undertaken anything on this scale since selling Alaska to the United States in 1867." The article noted that it would be unwise to conclude such an agreement given "the Chinese people's diligence, sheer numbers, and ability to think in terms of centuries.... Suppose 49 years from now, Russia realizes there are no ethnic Russians living on those 1 million hectares. How would it ask the Chinese to leave?" The commentary also argued that "the Kremlin is cozying up to China to spite the United States.... [But] however much the Kremlin dislikes the United States, Washington is not after Russian land or witnessing enormous emigration, and is certainly not interested in Russia falling apart and the appearance of, for example, a Chinese-Finnish border and a Caucasian caliphate." The article suggested that the Kremlin dislikes the United States because Washington "has the unpleasant habit of raising questions about human rights and official corruption."

Caving in to China over land (and in general) is a foolish practice, as I argued here.

Of course, the article misleads to compare the land deal to the scale of Alaska (close to 1.5 million square kilometers). We're talking a Lebanon or Cyprus in land area. And it matters whether this is along the border or not. I don't know where the land deal is located.

But the land deals will all be going one way. And once China starts lumbering north, who will send them south? Certainly not Russia. And when China wants to lease more land, who in Moscow will say no?

A Cyprus here, a Latvia there, and pretty soon we're talking real land area.

New Levels of Insanity

One gets used to outrageous statements by the Pillsbury Nuke Boy's media outlets.

But this is above even Pyongyang's usual standards:

The U.S. and South Korea launched the annual joint military exercises on Monday, which the North had previously said would be considered a declaration of war. Some 29,500 U.S. troops remain in South Korea as a legacy of the 1950-53 Korean War that ended in a cease-fire that has never been replaced by a peace treaty.

The North's military said Tuesday it "would not be bound to the (armistice agreement) in taking on its own initiative military measures for protecting the security and sovereignty of the country in the future. It called the exercises a "war action declaring the (armistice) null and void."

The North Korean military "reserves the right to undertake a pre-emptive action for self-defense against the enemy at a crucial time it deems necessary to defend itself," the North's army outpost at the truce village of Panmunjom said in the statement carried by the official Korean Central News Agency.

The U.S. military has said the exercises — mostly simulation-driven drills that run through Sept. 1 and include some 17,000 troops — are defensive in nature and not a provocation.

The armistice is "null and void?" Yes, North Korea's military is declining and would be decimated by South Korean and American forces if North Korea attacks. But what really matters is does the North Korean leadership know this? They could order military action in the belief they can win.

Actually, even if they know they will lose, they could see failure to attack as guaranteeing they collapse and hope that even a long shot at toppling South Korea is a better chance than just sitting, starving, and falling farther behind. And eventually collapsing.

Just what are the North Koreans up to?

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Pressure Cooker

Via Stand To! is this description of establishing an outpost inside Ramadi as part of our efforts to extend a network of patrol bases that will choke off the insurgents inside that city.

The ultimate goal? From the first link:

Commanders say the outposts have allowed them to reduce the number of insurgents and the frequency of their attacks as they “compress” the enemy into the city’s center, which some officers call Ramadi’s “heart of darkness.”

If the enemy is being compressed and not scattered, at what point do the surviving enemy try a do-or-die attack to bust out and escape being compressed into an area too small to hide in?

Remember, the enemy wants to win, too.

The Close Enemy is Most Hated

Often it is said that if we attack Iran that pro-American Iranians will rally around the mullah government and we'll wreck our polling numbers.

One, I don't care. If Iran gets nukes and uses them, I'll feel little comfort that the Iranian people would be horrified.

Two, I've long doubted that the Iranian people will rally to their hated government if we attack them. This runs counter to history when factions hated near enemies more than far enemies and saw foreign intervention as a means to defeat local enemies. I will point out again, would any attack by our Islamist enemies short of the destruction of the Berkeley Women's Studies Department inspire to rally to President Bush?

And even in Iraq, after years of fighting our troops, the Sunni enemies seem to hate the Shias more than us. As Jill Carroll relates:

There was no mistaking that the mujahideen who held me hated America. "One
day, hopefully, one day, America, all of America gone," said one of my guards early in my captivity. He spread his hands out wide as if to wipe America off the map.

"I don't quite understand," I said. "All America?"

My female jailer Um Ali, listening in on the conversation, translated the sentiment into simpler Arabic for me. "No journalists, no people, no nothing," she said.

I could also see that Shiites were high on their list of enemies. Once, when attempting to explain the historical split between Sunnis and Shiites, Abu Nour, the leader of my captors, stopped himself after he referred to "Shiite Muslims."

"No, they are not Muslims," Ink Eyes said. "Anyone who asks for things from people that are dead, and not [from] Allah, he is not a Muslim."

He was referring to Shiites appealing to long-dead Islamic leaders to intercede with God, asking for miracles such as curing the sick. It's a practice similar to that of Catholics praying to saints.

But after the Feb. 22 bombing of the Askariya Shrine, and rampant Sunni-Shiite killing, nearly every captor I came into contact with would tell me about their hate for Shiites first. Abu Nour now simply referred to them as "dogs."

So I don't assume that if we attack Iran to overthrow the mullahs or just destroy their nuclear facilities that the Iranian people will rally to the mullah government. Perhaps for a little while. Then the blame game will start.But maybe not even that much. And if we throw out the mullahs, the long oppressed Iranian majority will decide that as much as they want to complain about American involvement, what the heck, the mullahs are out on the street. Silly to invite the mullahs back in just because American power kicked them out. Right?

We must end the threat mullah-run Iran poses toward us. Period. Worry about our polling numbers later.

We Are Not Mr. Short Term Memory

Iran has said no to our demand they halt uranium enrichment in exchange for goodies. Tehran likes the goodies part. And the talking. Of course, the talking. Since while the talking is going on the enrichment and bomb work goes on uninterrupted.

But Russia and China don't care that Iran said no. They will resists any sanctions:

Initial comments from Russia and China made clear the United States is likely to face difficulty getting at least those nations to agree to any tough sanctions against Iran.

But don't worry. France is firm:

In Paris, however, French Foreign Minister Philippe Douste-Blazy made clear that his government was sticking by the U.N. demand for Iran to halt enrichment by the end of this month as a precondition to further talks.

Excuse me? Is "nuance" based on having no short term memory? Have we forgotten already France's resolve to lead a military force to disarm Hizbollah followed by an immediate and unilateral retreat? How "sophisticated" does your view of diplomacy have to be to trust that repulsive governing class in Paris again?

I truly feel sorry for the French military. Despite the jokes, they are actually a good force and one of only three capable of a global reach with all elements of national power. To be represented by crooks and liars who only value allies when needed to recapture Paris from the Germans must be humiliating.

So let's tell the French government to bugger off. Having run away from several thousand Hizbollah terrorists, I hardly expect France to prove the presence of a spine by standing up to Iran. Surely we won't trust those cheese-eating surrender monkeys again.

Boy, it sure feels strangely comforting to use that term again. It has been a while. Too long, it seems.

Prepare to confront and fight Iran. And forget about France when making our plans. We can buy an accordian, instead, if we insist on being burdened with useless assets.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Your Axis of El Vil Update

Listen Up. That Latin craze from your youth is in danger of returning. No, not the Macarena. Go back another decade.

That darling of campus lefties in the 1980s, Daniel Ortega, is poised to return to power in Nicaragua. To younger readers, no, Mr. Ortega is not the purveyor of fine mass-produced Mexican food products in your local grocery store, but a retro communist once beloved by the Latin American Solidarity Committee chapters on our college campuses (LASC, or, as I called them back then, Losers, Anarchists, Socialists, and Communists).

I was oh so proud when my community sent a garbage truck to Nicaragua to show solidarity with ... what, I have no idea. But I digress.

Says the article:

As president in the 1980s, Ortega headed a socialist government that was undermined by U.S.-backed right-wing guerrillas. He lost power in elections in 1990 and fell short in two subsequent races.

And originally became presidente in a revolution, proceeding then to create a large (for the region) war machine, and turning Nicaragua into a boy toy for Castro's Cuba and a happy lodgement for Soviet weaponry. "Socialist" is an understatement of what Danny Boy was trying to create. Misled by polling that showed him winning, Ortega made the mistake of allowing a vote that actually went against him when the votes were counted.

One can only assume that Ortega won't make the mistake of standing for another election as he did in 1990 if he wins this one.

And then the Axis of El Vil will be a proper threesome with Castro (either of them), Hugo, and Danny.

Happy, happy, joy, joy ...

English 101

With the fall term almost upon us, I recommend the following course.

COURSE TITLE: English 101: The Art of Misusing Words.

INSTRUCTOR: Orson Scott Card.

COURSE DESCRIPTION: You will learn the meaning of the words "catastrophe," "lie," "partisan," and "divisive." They don't mean what the press has led you to believe they mean.


LOCATION: The Ornery American.

TIME: Go there right now.

PREREQUISITES: Bush Derangement Syndrome.

REQUIRED FOR: Intelligent discussion of American policy and politics.

You'll be glad you took the course. And wish everyone would do the same.

The Iranians Said "No"

I went back and forth on wondering whether we should worry about August 22nd. I eventually settled into a "I wouldn't put anything past that nutball" mode but wasn't unduly worried. I didn't lose sleep last night and didn't liquidate my assets into canned goods and ammo.

The day has passed without a worrisome "answer." I mean, other than the refusal to comply with our demand:

Iran said Tuesday it was ready for "serious negotiations" on its nuclear program, offering a new formula to resolve a crisis with the West. A semiofficial news agency said the government was unwilling to abandon uranium enrichment — the key U.S. demand.

Although officially Iran now has until next week to formally answer. Are we unable to take no for an answer? Iran wants to continue talking while they pursue nuclear weapons. Got it? And we've known this for years! But being masochists, the West wants to give the mullahs another chance to show their contempt. Thank you sir, may I have another. We've been very bad!

So no apocolypse. But no chance of a diplomatic solution that doesn't involve caving in to Iran and letting them get nuclear weapons.

But in the meantime as we wait for the real deadline to see if Iran changes their mind, what is up with the Iranians?

Romanian oil firm Grup Servicii Petroliere (GSP) said on Tuesday one of its offshore drilling rigs in the Gulf came under attack by an Iranian military helicopter.

"We were called by one of our employees at 9.15 a.m. local time (0615 GMT) who told us a military helicopter opened fire against the Orizont rig, and by 9.45 Iranian troops got on board," GSP spokesman Radu Petrescu told Reuters.

"Since then, we haven't heard anything from them."

Very odd. What are the Iranians up to? You know, I mean other than pursuing nuclear weapons.

Monday, August 21, 2006

We Have No Choice But to Fight

One way or the other, we will beat our jihadi enemies.

Oh, some may claim we are too aggressive and must show more sensitivity to the listed grievances of our enemies, but that cannot last. Even if those allegedly more nuanced win power here and nuancify our war, our enemies won't respond positively to our efforts to "understand" them. And then, when even our nuanced find their assumptions undermined, they will fight the war with more fury than we've dared to employ so far. Hell hath no fury like the nuanced scorned, as the saying goes.

John Keegan, writing in the London Daily Telegraph on October 8, 2001 (noted in Air Force magazine December 2001 which I recently dug up as I was throwing out old magazines), argued for persistent violence to kill or cow our enemies:

The crucial ingredient of any Western-Islamic conflict [is] their quite distinctively different ways of making war. Westerners fight face to face, in stand-up battle, and go until one side or the other gives in. They choose the crudest weapons available, and use them with appalling violence, but observe what, to non-Westerners, may well seem curious rules of honor. Orientals, by contrast, shrink from pitched battle, which they often deride as a sort of game, preferring ambush, surprise, treachery, and deceit as the best way to overcome an enemy ...

On September 11, 2001, it [the Oriental tradition] returned in an absolutely traditional form. Arabs, appearing suddenly out of empty space like their desert raider ancestors, assaulted the heartlands of Western power, in a terrifying surprise raid and did appalling damage ... Westerners have learned, by harsh experience, that the proper response is not to take fright but to marshal their forces, to launch massive retaliaion, and to persist relentlessly until the raiders have either been eliminated or so cowed by the violence inflicted that they relapse into inactivity.

Yet this resolve to fight seems absent and our enemies perceive it. As Mark Steyn (via Real Clear Politics) writes this week, our enemies aren't cowed anymore, believing we are too exhausted from the Afghan and Iraq campaigns and so we won't dare destroy any more of our enemies:

What's the difference between September 2001 and now? It's not that anyone "liked" America or that, as the Democrats like to suggest, the country had the world's "sympathy.'' Pakistani generals and the Kremlin don't cave to your demands because they "sympathize.'' They go along because you've succeeded in impressing upon them that they've no choice. Musharraf and Co. weren't scared by America's power but by the fact that America, in the rubble of 9/11, had belatedly found the will to use that power. It is notionally at least as powerful today, but in terms of will we're back to Sept. 10: Nobody thinks America is prepared to use its power. And so Nasrallah and Ahmadinejad and wannabe "strong horses" like Baby Assad cock their snooks with impunity.

We have failed to be relentless in destroying our enemies. Our enemies are neither killed nor cowed in totality. They take heart by our failure to inflict massive retaliation. Yet our apparent pull back from destroying our enemies cannot last. Emboldened, our enemies will strike us harder believing they are winning. But they misjudge our character. Ralph Peters writes that enemy victories are minor and certainly short term since they will inspire greater efforts on our part: (via RCP)

The florid American master of horror fiction, H. P. Lovecraft, warned his characters, "Do not raise up what ye cannot put down." Islamist terrorists are reviving the West's thirst for blood. And this time it won't be slaked in Flanders.

Things are going to get uglier east of Suez. And we're going to win.

I've written many times that we can win this Long War by saving Islam from its fanatics or by relentless massive violence until our enemies are dead or cowed:

Losing is not an option. Moslems need to carefully consider whether they wish to indulge the wishes of a violent jihadi minority to spark a war of civilizations between Islam and the West.

Right now we have a choice of winning strategies and we've decided to win by saving Islam from its violent minority. Should our casualties grow too high and should the wider Moslem world remain too detached from fighting the terrorists, we can always decide to fully exploit our power to win the old fashioned way--by destroying our enemies.

I won't sleep well at night if we have to decide to destroy our enemies utterly to avoid defeat. But the alternative of defeat is no alternative. Not to me and I imagine not to a majority in the West. How we win depends on the Moslem world.

That scares the hell out of me.

We won't pause to determine when enough are dead and the rest our cowed. We'll just keep going until it is obvious. As I wrote in September 2001, if September 11, 2001 was our Pearl Harbor, then the war might not end until our final strikes with our version of Hiroshima and Nagasaki to utterly defeat our enemies who have attacked us at home:

It is common already to call September 11, 2001, this generation's Pearl Harbor. After the actual Pearl Harbor, America eventually used nuclear weapons to end the war and preclude a devastating and bloody ground invasion. While I hope we will never need to resort to such horrible weapons, once again a terrible war has been thrust upon us and we must not lose. Our enemies must fear what we will do to them more than we fear what they can do to us.

Indeed, even Europeans will, if hurt badly enough, revert to their ruthless ways. Perhaps so much that we will be shocked.

Our kindness can in the end only kill our enemies. Remember that when you are told we caused our enemies to hate us and so we must atone for our crimes.

But I don't think that our determination to fight is gone or that we need our enemies to renew our commitment to win. I think Iran is next. As our President stated about our enemies in October 2001 (reported in the Wall Street Journal on October 8, 2001; noted in Air Force magazine December 2001):

I gave them fair warning.

Our enemies have been warned. Yet they keep trying to kill us. We don't need to warn them again before we strike.

Iran is next. There is no way this President has decided not to defeat this threat to our lives.