Saturday, September 30, 2006

Trojan Horse

One of our problems in ending the Sunni insurgency is that we have to bring Sunnis into the political process and government to end their resort to arms. And we have to defeat them militarily to make them give up resistance and accept joining the government. We are in a twilight zone where some elements of the Sunnis have joined the government, some still resist, and some straddle the two worlds:

The U.S. command said the man was believed to be a member of al-Qaida in Iraq and was preparing a series of suicide attacks inside the heavily fortified Green Zone, home to the Iraqi government, parliament and the U.S. and other western embassies.

Khudhir Farhan was taken into custody Friday at the home of Adnan al-Dulaimi, the head of the largest Sunni Arab bloc in parliament, al-Dulaimi told The Associated Press.

"Credible intelligence indicates the individual, a member of Dr. Dulaimi's personal security detachment, and seven members of the detained individual's cell were in the final stages of launching a series of (car bomb) attacks inside the International Zone, possibly involving suicide vests," the U.S. military said in a statement without identifying the man by name.

We can't refuse to let any Sunnis into the government out of fear some are still the enemy. Otherwise we limit our options to killing the enemy. But we must be extra vigilant to prevent the enemy from using positions inside the government to conduct spectacular attacks within sight of Western reporters.

Nothing is easy in this type of war. Keep that in mind when some claim that their perfect plan would squelch the local Sunni jihadis, Baathists, foreign jihadis, Shia death squads, and criminal gangs who make up what is called "the insurgency."


Hugo Chavez has been kissing up to the aura of Fidel Castro in order to get the torch of Latin American revolutionary fervor passed to him. Hugo has no intention of letting Raul Castro inherit that mantle even if he manages to retain control of Cuba itself when Fidel dies (at long last).

Raul doesn't appear to trust Hugo and may well fear that an aggressive and nutty Hugo could get Cuba dragged into a war with America:

A years is the best that, those who believe Fidel Castro is terminally ill, will give the Cuban dictator. But even those analysts who think he may recover, believe he will never return to power. His brother Raul has a firm grip on the government apparatus, and has forged an alliance with elements in the Communist Party and Armed Forces, that are suspicious of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez' regional ambitions. It was Fidel who was so [fond] of Chavez. Raul Castro saw that Chavez was an unstable and unpredictable fellow who could be trouble in the long run. The two Castro brothers have long operated by agreeing to disagree on many issues. But with Fidel sick, and Raul in the drivers seat, that arrangement may be changing.

This will be an intersting development to watch. The Axis of El Vil could break down as a cautious Raul takes control of a faltering Cuba long past its youthful glory days of African expeditionary forces. Hugo, in turn, will increasingly see Cuba as an obstacle to his glory. The Cubans, Hugo may think, have abandoned their revolutionary heritage and it is up to Hugo to save the revolution from the Cubans unworthy of claiming leadership.

For insights, we might want to study the China-Soviet Union relationship as the Chinese viewed the increasingly cautious Soviets as too ready to deal with America rather than spread communism by confronting America.

I still think that Hugo may want some type of crisis to allow him to seize the leadership role of Latin American revolutionary zeal as I note in my post linked above:

So if I was in charge of the Netherlands, given past Chavez sabre rattling, I'd reinforce the garrisons of the Dutch West Indies (Aruba, Bonaire, and Curaçao). And ask America to send an expeditionary strike group to the region for a little joint exercise while Castro is in the hospital.

This contingency may explain why the Netherlands will become only the third country to operate Tomahawk cruise missiles. The Dutch defense "expert" who doesn't understand why they might need such weapons has his judgment clouded by his oppostion to cooperating with America in the Long War. The Netherlands faces other threats.

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Root Cause

It is fairly discouraging to think that a columnist has to write this after five years at war:

If America is ever to triumph in its war against Islamic terrorism, we must get past the idea that we are its root cause. Specifically, we must get past the idea that a suicide bomber is just a peace-loving Muslim who, if we hadn’t set him off, would be growing figs and building sandcastles. Strapping explosives to your torso, marching yourself into a crowded marketplace and blowing yourself up in order to slaughter as many civilians, including women and children, as you can is a profoundly demented act, an act which undoes a dozen or so millennia in the moral evolution of the human species.

Such an act is not triggered by America’s sociopolitical landscape or by its foreign policy. Rather, it is nurtured by an intellectually degenerate culture, sponsored by sleazy kleptocratic regimes and authorized by a once-honorable religious tradition perverted to serve the pipedreams of an apocalyptic death cult.

It’s Muslim civilization, not America, that must change in order for Islamic terrorism to cease.

We aren't the problem, people. They are the problem. The bigger problem that logically flows from this, in my mind, is whether we can help Moslem civilization to change before we get tired of being killed and just destroy them all.

I don't want it to get to that point. But I want to risk nuclear terrorism against our people even less.

Allah Knows

Wretchard notes yet another enemy report on how they are screwing up in Iraq and losing:

The letter is remarkable for reversing the perceptions that are normally assigned by conventional wisdom to the US military and the Sunni insurgency. It is Zarqawi who is upbraided for losing the "hearts and minds" of Iraqis; it is Zarqawi who is criticized for not reaching out Iraqi allies. It is Zarqawi who is blamed for plunging al-Qaeda into "weakness" in Iraq.

This enemy failure was evident more than two years ago. And I've written repeatedly that we fail to see how our enemies are being crippled while we see every real and imaginary failing on our side and amplify them into defeat. It is worthwhile to repeat what Kipling wrote:

Man cannot tell but Allah knows
How much the other side is hurt.

It would be sheer folly to panic and run when our enemies are being destroyed every day. They will break. If we don't. That thought keeps them going, of course.

Wretchard also writes that the threat to victory inside Iraq is increasingly the Shias of Sadr rather than Sunnis (either domestic or imported). This is something I've written about for a while, too. The major threat from the Shias, of course, is that Iran can exploit their hand puppet Sadr to wreck the still forming Iraqi government.

The other side is hurt, people. It shouldn't take a prophet to tell you that.

UPDATE: Read Austin Bay's take on the hidden enemy failures and doubts. Our fears and doubts are so loudly and frequently raised that the near silence from the enemy side is taken as proof they have no failures or doubts.

Once Again, With Feeling.

Iran to EU:

More specifically:

Ahmadinejad said the Europeans have asked Iran during negotiations to suspend enrichment, citing technical problems, but Iran rejected their demand.

"They (Europeans) asked us to suspend work for three months. ... Three months' suspension means a huge loss, means three months' reversal from technology. Who will pay for the losses? ... Then they reached a point that they asked for a one-day halt. We said we won't do it," he said.

Not even the fig leaf of a single day suspension. Oh, sure, I imagine that a one-day suspension at least would have gotten inspectors in to verify that and so learn a lot. And perhaps shut down, they can't get up and running that fast. But still, Iran refused even to slow down for a single day.

How much contempt must Ahmadinejad have for the Europeans who are reduced to asking for a single day suspension when once the Europeans claimed to be insisting on a permanent halt?

Iran will get nuclear weapons unless we stop them and asking them to halt their nuclear programs--yet again--will not get Iran to cooperate.

Are the Europeans incapable of taking "no" for an answer?

The Blowbaquista

The Belmont Club has a post on the lack of good histories about the long Reconquista of Spain from the Moslems.

It strikes me that at one level, you can look at that long war as Europeans rallying to expel the Moors and the whole process firing up and even creating the Spanish state that used its energy and power to discover and explore the Americas, and then pull a newly confident and technologically surging Europe into the New World.

With Europe going to the New World, the seeds of America were planted.

Without America, there would be no Long War on Islamic Fascism.

We sometimes talk of the good fortune Western democracy had in having the New World come to rescue the Old World in 1917, 1941, and 1949 to defend liberal democracy and defeat militarism, Nazism and Fascism, and Communism, each in turn. So it isn't too surprising that in 2001, duty fell to us again to lead the dwindling forces of the West who will confront evil.

But in this case, it is fascinating to see the origins of our jihadi enemies' Nemesis--America--begin with the Moslem world's desperate defense of its Spanish conquests.

Talk about blowback. It was a long time coming, but there you go.

UPDATE: A few weeks later I happen to notice a February 2003 post of mine on my original site after reading a short history of the crusades. I wrote:

By the end of the 15th century, the Islamic threat was still very potent and Europe could have been extinguished. Madden wrote, "Everyone knew that the stakes were enormous, for Christendom itself seemed on the brink of extinction. There was widespread frustration that Europeans could not shake themselves from their petty quarrels long enough to defend against the wolf at the door." He noted that the French themselves, under Emperor Charles V, allied with the Ottoman Empire, an alliance that lasted for centuries. But Madden concludes with how Europe ultimately beat the Islamic threat: "In the end, the discovery and exploitation of the New World not only saved western Europe but also propelled it to world hegemony. The Muslim threat was neutralized not by crusades to the East, but by those to the West."

Time and again, I've noticed that I return to themes that I didn't remember I wrote about before. I guess I'm consistent, at least. And I'm glad I can properly cite the source (A Concise History of the Crusades by Thomas Madden) for my internalized comments on the New World saving the Old.

Is 75 Enough?

I know, I know, America is unilaterally waging war against our enemies. We have angered so many that nobody will cooperate with us. I usually like to mention that we lost France as an ally a long time ago and that Japan and India are newly cooperative allies. Then add Britain and Australia as solid allies. Israel, too. Even Arab states help us despite Israel. And Germany and Canada as newly cooperative allies after stepping away for a while. Plus new NATO members like Poland stepping up and smaller NATO countries that have stepped up with troops. Oh, and of course Iraq and Afghanistan. Heck, even Spain helps in Afghanistan and Lebanon. One even has to say that France helps somewhat if they are going in the same direction anyway.

So, what, we've lost Belgium completely?

But I digress.

Let's look at one project with lots of cooperative allies.

We just met with 19 other countries regarding the Proliferation Security Inititative that attempts to shut down traffic in WMD:

The PSI was announced in May 2003 in Krakow, Poland, as an effort for nations to use a variety of robust tools within national and international law to defeat the proliferation of WMD around the world. In June, senior political officials from nearly 70 countries around the globe met in Warsaw to recognize the third anniversary of the initiative and pledge their support for its “Statement of Interdiction Principles.” Today, more than 75 countries support the PSI.

Is 75 enough not to be called a "unilateral" project? All over the world, every day, countries cooperate with us and fight at our side yet still we are called unilateral.

I'm not nuanced enough, clearly.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

No Round Trips

Saudi Arabia will build a fence along the border with Iraq to prevent Shias from entering and stirring up Saudi Shias and to keep Saudis from returning to Saudi Arabia as trained killers after going to Jihadworld if they survive what we and our Iraqi friends dish out to the jihadi wannabees:

The ambitious project reflects not only concern over terrorism but also growing alarm over the situation in Iraq, where U.S. forces are struggling to prevent sectarian violence from escalating to full-scale civil war between that nation's Shiite majority and Sunni minority.

What is interesting is that although the Syrian government lets these Saudi jihadis go through Syria to get to Iraq, the Syrian government does not apparently let them back in Syria if they get tired of fighting against tall odds.

Instead of just returning to Syria and catching a flight out of Damascus, if Saudi jihad volunteers want to go back home, they must traverse hot and hostile lands from the Sunni Triangle to reach the Saudi-Iraq border. Really, if Saudis could simply go home through Syria, there would be no particular reason to build a fence to stop them from crossing the desert border. And Shias could just enter while performing the trip to Mecca. Why cross the dessert when they can just fly in? I find it hard to believe that fingering Shias is a real reason. It sounds more like an excuse to dilute the the impact of worrying about returning Saudi jihadis.

Just interesting, I guess.

A Very Long War Indeed

So the charge is that the Iraq War has made Moslems more mad at America.

I have issues with this charge on a number of levels, as I note here. And we have recent evidence that our enemies in Iraq and Afghanistan are not immune to being discouraged.

But one has to ask, what if it is true?

What if the Islamic world is really angry that we overthrew a genocidal maniac who invaded his neighbors and sought nuclear and biological weapons to go with the chemical weapons he used internally and against Iran?

What if the Islamic world (or at least the 90% who are Sunni) are upset that we destroyed a minority Sunni Arab dictatorship that ruled and abused the Shia and Kurd majority?

What if the Islamic world is really angry that we have provided the Iraqis with a chance to have democracy, rule of law, a modern economy, and freedoms virtually unknown in the rest of the Islamic world?

If the Islamic world is angry at all that and in fact is so angry about those things that members will seek to kill us in greater numbers than they did prior to March 2003, isn't this a worrisome sign that maybe we aren't just at war with fanatics who have "hijacked" Islam? One may argue that the Moslem world isn't ready for democracy (I disagree), but if Moslem anger at even the attempt to provide democracy is real, we've been deprived of the opportunity to win the Long War by using democracy to undermine the appeal of Islamic fascism. That is, we won't be able to help Islam reform itself. And if we can't win that way, we have ample reservoirs of power that have been untapped these long five years that could destroy our enemies quite decisively.

I still think we can separate the jihadis from the vast majority of Moslems who'd rather just get along. Even if, as one might expect in the middle of a war, the enemy is mobilizing more forces to fight us, broader trends in the Moslem world against terror and in favor of democracy seem to show that we are making ground where it counts--we may yet save the Islamic world from the self-destructive traits that have been inculcated by Saudi extremists and spread by them throughout the Islamic community.

But if the vast majority of Moslems doesn't start loudly separating themselves from the jihadis, Max Boot states a lot in the West will conclude that all Islam hates the West:

The real enemy we face is not Islam per se but a violent offshoot known as Islamism, which is rooted, to be sure, in the Koran but which also finds inspiration in such modern Western ideologies as fascism, Nazism and communism. Its most successful exponents — from Hassan Banna and Sayyid Qutb to Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini and Osama bin Laden — are hardly orthodox interpreters of Islam. They are power-mad intellectuals in the mold of a Lenin or a Hitler. The problem is that the rest of the Muslim world, by not doing more to curb the radicals — whether out of fear or sympathy — lends credence to the most objectionable caricatures of their faith.

I agree. I have for several years argued this. The logic of that, I'm afraid, would make it a very Long War indeed. And one that won't turn out well for Islam.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

When Fingers Wag

The continuing quest for the perfect plan extends back in time, with a finger-wagging tirade by former President Clinton on television. So what is up with the competing statements:

“The country never had a comprehensive anti-terror operation until I came to office,” former president Bill Clinton told Fox News on Sunday. “I left a comprehensive anti-terror strategy.”

“We were not left a comprehensive strategy to fight al Qaeda,” says Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, in a new interview with the New York Post. “The notion somehow for eight months the Bush administration sat there and didn’t [fight al Qaeda] is just flatly false.”

I guess it depends on what the meaning of the word "strategy" is. And the word "comprehensive." And "anti-terror." Oh, and of course it depends on what the word "left" means. It may even depend on what the meaning of the word "is" is.

If the Left spent as much time trying to kill the enemy as it did in trying to plan how to kill the enemy--one day when the plan is perfected, I'd be fairly content. I'd be ecstatic if they hated jihadis as much as President Bush, but I am grounded in reality so I won't waste my breath hoping for that.

One thing for sure, when the Former First Finger wags, don't be so quick to defend the former President. He did not have plans to deal with that terrorist. Osama bin Laden.

Keep the UN in New York City

Victor Hanson writes that the United Nations should be moved to some Third World spot where envoys would be denied the glamour of New York City:

Is there any reason for the United Nations to stay in New York? The combination of its affluence and celebrity-driven culture draws in an odious international cadre, one that hates the United States (witness the applause for Chavez) as much as it enjoys living here. Surely it could move to Nigeria, Dafur, Cuba, or Venezuela, where its sensitive membership would be closer to real problems, well away from the television studios and five-star restaurants? Once again, privilege and left-wing piety are a bad combo.

I once used to agree. It would focus their minds immensely, I thought.

But as long as that big hole in Manhattan is still sitting there (you know, since 9/11?), why don't we build a new UN building on the site? The UN is always complaining about their old current site. Make the UN the tallest structure in the city and put the UN's top man on the top floor, with his underlings on the floors immediately below him.

John Bolton once famously said we could take off the top ten floors of the UN building and not lose anything of value. But that was just talk despite the diplomatic flap that created. Nobody in the UN actually thought Bolton would be swinging the wrecking ball while they were in their offices hard at work.

But if the UN types had to worry about whether actual terrorists would try to take out the top ten floors of New York City's tallest building, might not the international community take terrorism a little more seriously?

Keep the UN in New York City. And put the glorious representatives of the international community higher than anybody else.

We Haven't Tried Defeating Them Or Surrendering

So, leaks by opponents of the Iraq War of portions of a spring National Intelligence Estimate to the New York Times, which is an opponent of the war, have given ammunition to those who have long claimed we are less safe because we destroyed Saddam's regime.

Oh, and on the eve of a national election. Surely a coincidence, eh?

But I can't in good faith complain about the latter since if the charge is true is surely is important to find out before the election in order to make our decisions.

But the charge makes no sense regardless of when it is made.

It should be no shock that our enemies hate us even more when we fight back. I dare say the Nazis were more angry at us in 1943 than in 1941, but by 1945 Nazism couldn't attract a corporal's guard worth of members. Indeed, during the war, Nazism was rather popular in South America even as the region's governments sided with the Allied powers (that's why so many Nazis fled to South America after the war, remember?). Is anybody seriously arguing we shouldn't fight back because enemy anger at us increases? Clearly, we should have called off the war in Europe shortly after D-Day since I rather doubt German public opinion shifted to the pro-Allied side during Cobra.

If our current policy of fighting the enemy overseas is wrong, surely we were all in a kite-flying inter-religious paradise prior to April 2003.

Sadly, that is not the case.

We know that by September 11, 2001, thousands of jihadis had been fired up enough to get some serious terrorist training; and we know that terrorist strikes were launched against us from Beirut to Pennsylvania (United 93) by those terrorists.

And all before we had any troops in Baghdad.

We know that arresting and trying in civilian courts the terrorists didn't ease their anger.

We know that surgical strikes didn't ease jihadi anger.

We know that retreating from Lebanon and Somalia didn't reduce jihadi anger.

We know that intense work on the Palestinian question didn't defuse jihadi anger.

We know that saving Moslems from Christians in the Balkans hasn't reduced jihadi anger at us.

We even know that helping jihadis to expel the Soviets from Afghanistan failed to defuse jihadi anger at us.

And we surely know that Canada and Germany have attracted jihadi anger though they clearly oppose the war in Iraq. Good grief people, France of all countries has angered the jihadis! I mean, how much more cooperative can you get with the whole jihad program than France has been? Rumor has it the newest Peugeot models will have wicks built in leading into the gas tanks of their cars to make torching them easier.

So, let us recap:

--Failure to fight inspired the jihadis.

--Retreating inspired jihadis.

--Protecting Moslems seems to keep the jihadi fires burning just as brightly.

--And even aiding jihadis where our interests coincided inspired the jihadis.

When Papal statements of the bleeding obvious, Rushdie, films, Miss Universe contests, cartoons, random rumors reported by Newsweek, the mere existence of Israel, and educating girls inspire jihadi anger, I would think the proper question is to ask what doesn't set them off?

All we really know is that jihadis will cite whatever reason is currently being promoted by Michael Moore and are happy to skip from reason to reason as long as the conclusion is that infidels must die. They're flexible that way.

Of course, we don't know that the NIE actually says. We just know what the Times has chosen to tell us about selected portions they were told about. Based on past NYT leaks, can we honestly say that this latest disclosure was made to help our war effort? Read here (tip to Powerline) for some good observations of what we weren't told.

(And no, I won't link to any NYT piece. My Times Deselect decision still stands.)

The answer to the latest version of an old charge begins with a decision to release the NIE (properly scrubbed of sources and methods) so we can yet again judge if the CIA leakers and NYT editors really have our best interests at heart and whether their leaked and published truth bears any resemblance to reality.

The reality is, we must hunt our enemies to the ends of the Earth and kill them where we find them, confident that we deserve to win this fight between civilization and barbarians.

Or surrender to them and get it over with. To be fair, except for certain local experiments in surrendering in the suburbs of European cities, we haven't tried the surrender option.

I'd rather we fight and win, however. Win the Long War against the jihadis and those who sponsor them and then tell me about what the opinion polls of Moslems say.

UPDATE: Here is the "Key Judments" section of the NIE. I'm going to have to read it closer, but if it is really complaining that the jihadis are becoming more diffused and decentralized, isn't this really arguing against successfully denying them sanctuaries where they can mass? Isn't this really saying overthrowing the Taliban and scattering al Qaeda was wrong? That's my first impression anyway. And it would fit with past complaints by those who support a law enforcement approach of "scattering" the enemy. But this was a 3-minute scan so I'll revisit this. Or link to others who I am sure are busy going over the summary.

UPDATE SOON AFTER: Here are links to reactions. Protein Wisdom surely has the best title: "The Knights Who Say ... NIE!" Could only be better if written "The NYT Who Says NIE!" But too late for that, I suppose.

ANOTHER UPDATE ON SCATTERING THE ENEMY: Those who are inclined to think that attacking the enemy to deny them sanctuary has only resulted in scattering them around the world might want to consider what Richard Clarke had to say (I can't remember who to hat tip for this one, I'm afraid) about the al Qaeda sanctuary prior to 9/11:

I think the intelligence community, the FBI, were unanimous, certainly throughout the year 2000 into 2001, that there was in fact a very widespread Al Qaeda network around the world in probably between 50-60 countries -- that they had trained thousands, perhaps over 10,000 terrorists at the camps in Afghanistan; that we didn't really know who those people were. We didn't have names for very many of them, and we didn't know where they were; but since bin Laden kept saying the United States was the target, the United States was the enemy, that we had to expect an increasing rate of sophistication of attacks by this large Al Qaeda network against the United States.

They scatter regardless in order to attack us--but now they have no secure sanctuary in which to train.

Monday, September 25, 2006

Kill the Fascists

Victor Hanson writes that our jihadi enemies are indeed fascists:

We can argue whether the present-day Islamic fascists have the military means comparable to what was had in the past by Nazis, Fascists, and militarists — I think a dirty bomb is worth the entire Luftwaffe, one nuclear missile all the striking power of the Japanese imperial Navy — but there should be no argument over who they are and what they want. They are fascists of an Islamic sort, pure and simple.

And the least we can do is to call them that: after all, they earned it.

Oh, and then kill the fascists. That, in fact, is the least we can do. They've earned it.

Enjoy Your Sand and Fanaticism

I've often written that if the Sunnis of Iraq refuse to come to terms with being a minority within Iraq, the majority Shias and Kurds could decide to go postal on the Sunnis to finally end the bloody and well-financed terrorsim conducted by Sunnis.

But there is another threat that the Shias and Kurds can employ:

In Baghdad, meanwhile, Iraqi politicians praised a deal Monday among the largest Shiite, Sunni Arab and Kurdish groups that delays a possible division of Iraq until the constitution is amended.

But Iraq's second-largest Sunni group rejected the deal and promised to fight any effort to divide the country now or in the future.

Some Sunnis want to work within a democratic Iraq. Some Sunnis hope to bide their time within Iraq and prepare for a coup in a decade or two to regain power over the Shias and Kurds.

Both strategies require a unified Iraq.

So the Shia and Kurd threat to essentially split up Iraq is a major threat to Sunnis who want to cooperate and Sunnis who want to regain absolute power. Split up Iraq and the Shias will have the power to expel Sunnis from Baghdad and push them all into al Anbar province.

The Kurds in the north will have oil and the Shias in the south will have oil.

The Sunnis in Anbar will have sand, fleas, heat, and the joys of fanatical Sunni beliefs.

I personally do not think we can trust the Sunnis on their own even in a desolate wasteland. They may have buried nasties out west and Sunnis the world over would donate money to the Iraqi Sunnis to battle the hated Shias. We simply can't trust the Iraqi Sunnis to run their own affairs. They need a generation under a democratic Iraq as a minority to rejoin civil society.

I think the Shias are mostly bluffing and want a unified Iraq. But if the Sunnis won't play ball, the Shias will just stiff the Sunnis and let them go--and the Kurds will take advantage to go their own way.

A very high stakes game of chicken is going on, I think.

Saturday, September 23, 2006

Learning from America

The Chinese have studied our recent high tech wars from the Balkans to Iraq. They admire our conventional capabilities to take down enemy conventional forces rapidly but think little of our pacification abilities that drag on without ending opposition:

They are even more interested in operations in Afghanistan. They see the 2001-2002 campaign there as a highly sophisticated operation that simultaneously blended the selective use of American air and ground forces with local resistance fighters, information operations, bribery, diplomatic maneuvering, humanitarian assistance, assassinations, and other actions, to oust the Taliban, while the opening phase of Operation Iraqi Freedom demonstrated how effective American troops were in conducting a highly sophisticated, mobile, and well-coordinated "conventional" campaign.

They also believe that operations in Afghanistan and Iraq since 2003 have not been successful, and that the outcomes there remain "uncertain." To better understand this Chinese perspective, you have to be familiar with the ancient Chinese military writer Sun Tzu. This sage was a big proponent of the indirect approach, and winning
wars without fighting. The Chinese particularly admire the American ability to fight so often, but suffer such low casualties. Not all of Sun Tzu's advice is still applicable. For example, he would have handled the stubborn Sunni Arabs of Iraq, and Taliban of Afghanistan, by killing them all, or driving them into exile. This approach has been used throughout human history, and is still being applied today in some parts of the world.

So, if China wants to learn from us, what might that mean for Taiwan? This is what the Chinese military is most likely to be focused on.

Well, they must plan an attack by higher caliber troops without a land corridor to the target to overwhelm the enemy; neutralize enemy forces with money, threats, psychological operations, and anything else; and use local allies to leverage the fast-moving military forces to seize the center of political power in the capital.

And when the Taiwanese government collapses as a result of this invasion? The Chinese would want to avoid what they see as our mistakes in the stability phase. There will be no hearts and minds campaign or tribal negotiations. They could ship off the native Taiwanese to distant and isolated Tibet and the Moslem areas of western China--where they can learn to be proper Chinese citizens in a sea of hostile Tibetans or Moslems who will see them as Chinese and not fellow oppressed victims of Chinese aggression--and where they can't complain and be heard by the Western press. Ethnic Han Chinese don't seem to want to move out west so making Taiwanese move there will do in a pinch to move demographics against the ethnic minorities.

The Chinese could then ship in plentiful Chinese mainland colonists to Taiwan from the Han parts of China to bolster the former KMT descendants living on Taiwan who still feel more Chinese than Taiwanese. Taiwan will be a more appealing destination than the wild west.

The Chinese will kill four birds with one stone--bolster legitimacy with a feel good campaign to recover lost lands; swamp Tibet and western China with unwilling colonists from Taiwan who will have no choice but to become Chinese just to survive in a hostile and isolated land; and empty Taiwan of independence minded Taiwanese to make room for new Chinese residents whose hearts and minds are already won. This might take some pressure off of China's cities who must cope with internal migration from China's rural areas by directing that migration to Taiwan.

Is this too cynical? Please. Remember, in the Korean War the Chinese government sent lots of former KMT soldiers into the war against American troops. It was win-win for China with former enemies killing Americans and Americans killing potentially disloyal soldiers.

Perhaps simply slaughtering civilians the old fashioned way will be done to consolidate mainland rule over Taiwan. Bad press can't be good for business and surely Peking would like to avoid that if they can. But make no mistake, there will be no hearts and minds campaign.

The Taiwanese need to develop a serious sense of urgency about defending their prosperity and liberty. It could be snuffed out in a fortnight.

We Can't Train Without Equipment

A couple months ago I noted the equipment shortages our National Guard troops--and even active component troops--faced on return from Iraq.

It makes sense to keep the best equipment in Iraq to actually win the war--that takes priority. And it makes sense to also avoid the cost of shipping one tank home while shipping another tank in.

I concluded:

I do think we are cutting it too close with equipment but this is a problem and not a crisis. Units coming home from Iraq wouldn't be ready for war even with 100% of their equipment sitting in the bases.

Address the issue. Don't panic over it.

I'm starting to worry a little more that we aren't addressing this adequately:

Potential disasters are developing in American National Guard units. Too many units are sending their vehicles and other equipment to Iraq, and not getting it back when the troops return. This is serious because, in effect, the National Guard is the local militia for the individual states. When the federal government is not using National Guard troops (which is most of the time), the troops answer to their state governor. The only time the governors call on the National Guard is when there is some kind of major emergency, usually a natural disaster. That's when the troops need their trucks, hummers, radios and what not.

I know there are compacts to move troops around the country, so the fewer troops properly equipped can be identified and used for internal missions. And I know there are plans to re-equip the Guard with new stuff to allow them to be an operational reserve and not mostly a strategic reserve.

But we really do need to get a move on. We are taking a risk--a risk required by being at war and being on a procurement holiday during the 1990s--but we've been at war for five years now and it won't do to blame current shortages on 1990s peactime decisions. We simply cannot simply move dwindling pieces around the board to cover our weak areas.

And the situation could get worse if this goes on. Soldiers are volunteers, and reservists who can't actually train on the equipment that makes them soldiers will get out rather than endure yet another weekend of paper training in place of getting out in the field and practicing.

So we risk mobilizing troops who are rusty and having fewer actual experienced soldiers. This on top of the troops working with minimal equipment levels or older equipment salvaged from somewhere to put in their hands. For want of a nail ...

I'm not at panic level, but I'm moving in the direction of concern. At some point, taking a justified calculated risk becomes simply risky behavior. That's how potential disasters become actual disasters.

Friday, September 22, 2006

The Clarifying Impact of Killing Enemies

I often get frustrated with the claims by some that responding with military force to enemy attacks just creates more terrorist enemies.

When we failed to respond to their attacks, terrorists continued to attack us. Yet if we fight back, that encourages them, too. So we should just surrender or get used to losing whatever number of our own the enemy kills in any given year?

The statement that responding to enemy attacks with force just creates more enemies does have a hint of truth. If we merely respond tit-for-tat, simply trying to match enemy attacks, we do encourage them. We have simply inflicted a small harm on the enemy.

But by going after the enemy relentlessly--far beyond merely "responding" to enemy attacks--we have the opportunity to actually win by killing and discouraging the enemy and making supporters of our enemies reluctant to join the enemy and thus become martyrs.

In Iraq, suicide bombings have been an example given by opponents of the war of the fervor we supposedly create by fighting jihadis in Iraq.

Yet what of the fanatical suicide bombers who supposedly represent the tip of the infinite supply of fanatics we have created?

The news and Strategypage both note a new summer trend in "suicide bombings" From the news story:

Iraqi insurgents are no longer using just volunteers as suicide car bombers but are instead kidnapping drivers, rigging their vehicles with explosives and blowing them up, the Defense Ministry said Thursday.

In what appears to be a new tactic for the insurgency, the ministry said the kidnap victims do not know their cars have been loaded with explosives when they are released.

The ministry issued a statement saying that first "a motorist is kidnapped with his car. They then booby trap the car without the driver knowing. Then the kidnapped driver is released and threatened to take a certain road."

The kidnappers follow the car and when the unwitting victim "reaches a checkpoint, a public place, or an army or police patrol, the criminal terrorists following the driver detonate the car from a distance," the Defense Ministry statement said.

Well what do you know? The enemy can get discouraged! Why else trick people to carry bombs if eager volunteers are created on a daily basis by our mere presence in Iraq?

Remember, fighting back ineffectively just creates more enemies. Killing the enemy wherever we find them, relentlessly, day after day, does eventually have an impact on enemy recruiting.

And good thing, too, because if they can't get discouraged our only alternative to just losing to them is to kill them all.

The Alternative to Killing Every Third Male

A little while back, I wrote that we shouldn't panic over the situation in Anbar province. We face problems we can overcome, I wrote--not defeat.

Yes, we do not have enough troops to throttle the enemy's resistance. Absent an increase in Iraqi strength to allow the Iraqis to grind down the enemy, make deals with the locals, and slowly move the population from enemy to neutral and from neutral to friendly, the only way to militarily "solve" the problem (for a generation, anyway, until a new crop of angry young men grow up) is the time-honored method of mass killing. A nice Daily Kos writer kindly linked to me, stating that I advocated genocide. I did nothing of the sort, of course. I guess I was Dowdified.

Well, back on the point of Anbar, the Iraqi government has turned a whole bunch of tribal leaders to the government's side to fight the foreign jihadis out west and the tribal leaders have promised 30,000 light infantry for the job:

Coalition forces in Iraq have suddenly received the manpower equivalent of three light infantry divisions. They did not suffer any repercussions in domestic politics as a result, and now have a huge edge over al-Qaeda in al-Anbar province. How did this happen? Tribal leaders in the largely Sunni province on the Syrian border got together and signed an agreement to raise a tribal force of 30,000 fighters to take on foreign fighters and terrorists.

These leaders have thrown in with the central government in Baghdad. This is a decisive blow to al Qaeda, which has been desperately trying to fight off an Iraqi government that is getting stronger by the week. Not only are the 30,000 fighters going to provide more manpower, but these tribal fighters know the province much better than American troops – or the foreign fighters fighting for al Qaeda. Also, this represents just over 80 percent of the tribes in al-Anbar province now backing the government.

The local Sunni leaders have added it up. And contrary to the view among many defeatists here, they have not concluded we are doomed to defeat.

Oh, and I did call this national resistance quite some time ago.

The eagerness of some to surrender to or retreat from an enemy no matter how battered that enemy is, is simply astounding to me.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

The Element of Surprise

So is there a silver lining to the repeated deadlines our European friends keep throwing out to the mullahs?

The Iranians keep missing those deadlines and have long ago learned that nothing much happens when they miss the most recent deadline. But Euro hope springs eternal:

French Foreign Minister Philippe Douste-Blazy said Wednesday that the nations leading efforts to halt Iran's uranium enrichment are working on a new deadline for Tehran to provide a more definitive response, despite differences over sanctions.

Yep, one more deadline ought to do the trick. Just have to figure out the precise wording to elicit that elusive yes from the mullahs.

You know, after refusing to take a Persian "no" for all these years, continued EU contacts are really in danger of bcoming "stalking" behavior.

So when the Europeans gather their finest minds to designate a new and improved deadline, I dare say the Iranians will yawn and proceed toward their nuclear weapons goal without much of a pause to wonder if the Euros really mean it this time.

But this might be to our advantage. We probably can't just launch a strike from the blue. We do tend to give ultimatums so the enemy has one last chance to comply. Heck, I was actually worried that Saddam might realize the danger he was facing in early 2003 and formally give in to our demands. My worry was that we'd have to pull back the troops we'd deployed while Saddam strung out his so-called surrender and in six months our troops would be back at their bases and Saddam would be in power with another diplomatic triumph to undermine our sanctions. So with the Euros tentatively getting sick of Iranian obstruction, I'd worry that Tehran would say they accept our demands just to stay our hand long enough to deflect that fleeting moment of Euro determination. But if Iran doesn't actually believe a deadline that we know we mean simply because we've issued so many deadlines, the Iranians will ignore our ultimatum and thus sign their regime's death warrant.

Unless critics from the right are correct that the Bush administration has abandoned any efforts to really stop Iran from going nuclear, these repeated deadlines will tend to dull Iranian responses.

At some point, I think even the Europeans will conclude that Iran is going nuclear and that the world cannot risk such an event. At that point, when the joint US-European deadline to halt nuclear work or else is sent to Tehran, the Iranians will yawn and put it in their inbox, noting it as a "routine" item.

Even visible military moves will be discounted by the mullahs.

Unless I'm wrong about our president's (and Blair's) determination to defend us, the look of surprise on Ahmadinejad's face when we open the regime change/air campaign will be a keeper.


You know, I figured higher support for the war in Iraq would have to await actual final victory.

But while I wasn't looking, support for the war has gone up (tip to Instapundit):

Yesterday, we found out that American support for U.S. participation in the Iraq war is rising.

One poll last week (Sept. 12-13) found that 51 percent of Americans back “the U.S. war in Iraq.” That’s the first majority for the war since October 2003. A slightly newer (Sept. 15-17) poll showed that, for the first time since last December, less than a majority of Americans believe the Iraq war was a mistake.

Of course, it won't stop the press from calling the Iraq War the "increasingly unpopular" war. I think they all have shortcut keys on their word processors for that phrase.

Shows you what focused presidential attention can do, I suppose. Our people just want to be assured we will fight hard enough to win.

Holy Jeffe, Batman!

Truly, we have entered comic book land. The UN clearly is in Gotham City because we are now faced with cartoon villains. Venezuela's Hugo Chavez spoke to the UN yesterday:

"The devil came here," Chavez said. "Right here. Right here. And it smells of sulfur still today, this table that I am now standing in front of."

He then made the sign of the cross, brought his hands together as if praying and looked up to the ceiling.

Chavez's words drew tentative giggles at times from the audience, but also some applause.

Is he friggin' serious? I mean, can anyone take him seriously? Other than Harry Belefonte, Jesse Jackson, Cindy Sheehan, and whatever other oddballs rub elbows with him, of course. And he takes a page from Osama to recommend some lunatic's book? I'm beginning to think that Hugo is too nuts to even qualify for the Axis of El Vil let alone the Axis of Evil. He's into insane funny territory rather than being dangerously insane, as Ahmadinejad is. My God, when reporters asked President Bush about Hugo's speech, the President just should have laughed long and hard and then asked for the next question.

Hugo wore a suit this time. Mark my words, Jeffeman will have tights and a big magenta "J" emblazoned on his chest the next time he appears before the tittering representatives of the sainted international community. Jeffeman! Able to leap aging Cuban dictators in a single bound!

I wouldn't even want to waste a JDAM on him. The people of Venezuela have my deepest sympathies.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Changing Strategy

The enemy is changing strategy again:

Attacks against U.S. troops have increased following a call earlier this month from al-Qaida in Iraq's leader to target American forces, the top U.S. military spokesman said Wednesday.

This is interesting. This is yet another change, of course, and could be an error by the enemy as I noted back in the fall:

VDH reminds me of another mistake in Iraq that the Zawahiri letter highlights:

Many of al-Zarqawi or Dr. Zawahiri’s intercepted letters and communiqués reveal paranoid fears that Iraq is indeed becoming lost — but to the terrorists. The enemy speaks of constantly shifting tactics — try beheading contractors; no, turn to slaughtering Shiites; no, butcher teachers and school kids; no, go back to try to blow up American convoys. In contrast, we are consistent in our strategy — go after jihadists, train Iraqi security forces, promote consensual government so Iraq becomes an autonomous republic free to determine its own future.

The rest of Hanson's piece is excellent, but this reminder of a basic truth of war is useful: it is better to resolutely carry out a mediocre strategy than to rapidly shift strategy looking for the perfect strategy. This is exactly what the insurgents and terrorists have done. Shifting targets before one can really judge whether that target is being seriously affected has spared each of their targets from reaching their breaking point. By constantly changing targets, the enemy has failed to put pressure on one point long enough to do real damage.

The enemy is changing strategy again. We can't be sure why. Is it because they think the inter-religious killing is sufficiently advanced to go on without jihadi help? So this renewed focus on American troops is an added pressure point?

Or is this yet another case of switching strategies before the old one could have a real impact?

Or has the enemy decided they can't spark a civil war?

And remember, one reason the enemy stopped focusing on our troops was the high cost to the enemy of encountering our troops. Whether their change is wise or foolish, we shall see how long they can keep this up. The jihadi organization in Iraq is weaker and recruits are harder to come by than a year or two ago, so I suspect that the jihadis can't afford too many casualties in their new strategy.

Meanwhile we continue with our strategy of training Iraqi soldiers and police to carry the burden of fighting the terrorists. Slowly, this strategy is working, and it will carry us to victory.

UPDATE: Strategypage notes the more direct enemy tactics.

I Worry For Them, Actually

Bernard Lewis has an excellent essay on our war with Islamic fascists. Democracy is not impossible for the Moslem world to achieve. Indeed, the totalitarian strain so evident now is really a local adaptation of Nazism and communism rather than any authentic Islamic tradition. Just because we've only known this state of affairs in our lifetimes doesn't mean it is "authentic."

However, I must disagree with the conclusion about promoting democracy and the stakes:

I think that the effort is difficult and the outcome uncertain, but I think the effort must be made. Either we bring them freedom, or they destroy us.

Yes, we must try to install democracy and we could fail.

In addition, I don't rule out that we could lose to the jihadis. Or at least some of our more supine members of the Western club could either fall to them or side with them (France could be in either column).

But I think it unlikely that the West as a whole could be destroyed by these 10th century lunatics. We have exerted only a fraction of our power, and our power is being used to save the Moslem world rather than defeat it. Should we be hit hard enough and often enough, our full measure of power will be used to destroy. I don't think even European restraint will last very long if the Islamic world actually unites to attack us.

I think it is far more accurate to say either we bring them freedom, or we destroy them.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Bondage Freaks

It is common for opponents of the Iraq War to claim we are "tied down" in Iraq and so, sadly, we can't confront "real" threats like North Korea or Iran.

I've got a few problems with this thinking.

One, while a third of our ground combat power is tied down in Iraq, if we really had to, we could triple or quadruple our forces in combat by fully mobilizing and putting all active units into the fight. Remember that in World War II we did not rotate forces through Europe or the Pacific. At one time late in the war I think we had one uncommitted division in the United States as our strategic reserve. Everything else was committed. So saying we are tied down now doesn't compute. I wouldn't want to take such drastic action, but we could if our security required it.

Second, as General Abizaid noted recently, ground power is not the sum total of our power:

"We've got 200,000 in my area of operation. Not all of our sea power, not all of our air power, by any stretch of the imagination, is committed to my area," he said.

"Any opponent that would think that we're over-stretched and we can't deal with our military obligations would be making a dreadful mistake," he said.

We can still do a lot without committing many more ground forces under certain circumstances.

And third, who are these "tied down" people kidding? As if they would suddenly be hawks in regard to Iran or North Korea if we weren't fighting in Iraq! Their sorrowful "if only we weren't tied down in Iraq" complaints are simpy one more excuse not to support action against existing threats.

These critics have tied themselves up and love it. Heck, I'm sure they are still waiting to "solve" the Palestinian question before we do anything else.

Collective Security

Now this is top notch analysis:

So that Aug. 31 U.N. deadline to halt uranium enrichment or face sanctions has turned out to mean little. And some experts believe Iran may be able to fend off serious international action for years more — as it continues its nuclear program.

In ten years, if present trends continue, I'm sure the EU will be giving Iran a deadline to halt their nuclear arsenal at 100 missiles and insist that they are absolutely forbidden to destroy any more Israeli cities.

I'm too cruel. It is the bleeding obvious, but not many people are really aware of it. It needs to be said that Iran doesn't give a rip about our faux deadlines. And yes, I use the French word on purpose.

This is the problem with collective security as represented by the UN. Iran wants nuclear weapons and will likely use them against America or Israel. Or, even if they don't use them, will use them as a shield to attack Israel and America at a sub-nuclear level without worrying about effective resistance.

So the international community could deal with Iran before Iran gets nukes and possibly face $200 per barrel oil for a while. Or the international community could simply watch and get all weepy when America or Israel gets hit with a nuke and maybe see $100 per barrel oil for a short time.

So the vast majority of the world that would not be targets of Iranian nukes figure they have little to gain for resisting Iran's nuclear drive.

Now, don't get me wrong. It is hard to deny the realism behind such a calculation. They may be right. But let's not get carried away and believe just because most of the world thinks this way it is by definition sacred as the wishes of the "international community."

Looking at our interests and not the interests of all the non-target oil users, I'd rather avoid a nuclear Iran and see oil hit $200 per barrel for a while.

But I guess I'm just being selfish to think that way.

Right Idea. Wrong Country

Thailand has suffered a military coup while their prime minister was in New York for UN speeches.

I have nothing to add to this since I really know little about Thailand's political situation. I don't think this is good but I will have to read those who know more about the country before I solidify my judgment.

This does make sense since I hoped for something similar in regard to Iran when Khatami visited New York recently.

Good idea, it seems. Wrong country, it seems.

Good News and Bad News

The bad news is that we won't be reducing troop strength in Iraq until the spring at least and our troop strength will be elevated until then to cope with the increasing Sunni-Shia violence:

The U.S. military is likely to maintain and may even increase its force of more than 140,000 troops in Iraq through next spring, the top American commander in the region said Tuesday in one of the gloomiest assessments yet of when troops may come home.

Back in the spring, it still seemed as if we could be down to 100,000 troops by the end of this year with our combat brigades down to perhaps seven. Instead we are talking sixteen or seventeen brigades until the spring.

The good news is that the decision to reverse course on withdrawal and increase strength for the time being shows that the talk of the last couple years that this President would pull out for political reasons is just hooey.

We are in this to win and we will win it. Unfortunately, the Iraqis aren't up to taking over from us quite yet. They will be. But not quite yet. And until we can push them forward, we will fight our enemies and kill them where they stand.

Gruesome Dance

Nowadays in Iraq, most deaths are inflicted on Sunnis and Shias from the other side's terrorists. The Sunni insurgency clearly can't win. The foreign jihadis can't win. This inter-religious warfare is the primary threat to the Iraqi government.

Unfortunately, it is difficult to stop the Shia militia death squads while Sunnis continue to slaughter Shias and Kurds. And it is difficult to get the Sunnis willing to give up to turn on the Sunni killers while Shia death squads run loose in Sunni neighborhoods.

Iraqis are fed up with the killings:

Nearly 200 bodies of Iraqis who had been tortured and shot have turned up around Baghdad in the past week, including three found Tuesday in an eastern section of the capital. Most are found bound and blindfolded, apparent victims of sectarian violence.

Both Sunni and Shiite lawmakers called Tuesday for the defense and interior ministers to explain how they plan to stop the killings.

"I demand the defense and interior ministers be summoned to let us know their plans to stop these criminal acts: kidnappings, killings and assassinations against our people," said Hassan Bejar, a lawmaker with the Iraqi Accordance Front, the largest Sunni bloc in government.

Shiite lawmaker Haider al-Safar said: "We are just sitting here and seeing these dead bodies being thrown every day in the streets."

"We need to see real achievements from the defense and interior ministries to stop the daily kidnapping and bloodletting," he said.

I don't know who needs to step back first. I suspect the Sunnis must from the simple fact of being the killers for many decades and from the simple math of being 15% of the population. If the bloodletting does not stop, the Sunnis have the most to lose. Time is not on their side.

But until somebody decides to take action to rein in their side's killers, a gruesome dance will continue.

UPDATE: Back Talk has an interesting post on this Shi-Sunni violence. I think we do a good enough job of taking out the Sunni killers without in effect subcontracting dirty work to Shia death squads. I think we want Sadr out of the game but can't figure out how to do it without alienating too many Shias. We tried in April and August 2004 and were pulled back by the Iraqis.

With Iraq sovereign, we want them to do the job but they don't want to alienate Shias by defending Sunnis while Sunnis kill Shias. I think the terrorizing aspect of Sadr's killing campaign is a possibly good side effect (in the short run) of our inability to deal with Sadr rather than a plan. But you never can tell.

Monday, September 18, 2006

I Agree With Khameni

Highly visible elements of the Islamic world continue to violently react and issue threats in response to the Pope's suggestions that the Islamic world has violent tendencies. Strangely, neither the New York Times nor the Islamists think that is odd at all.

Iran's Khameni offers his opinion:

In Tehran, Iran's supreme leader Ali Khamenei compared the pope's remarks to caricatures published in a Danish newspaper last year deemed insulting to the Prophet Mohammed. The cartoons set off deadly protests in the Muslim world.

"The issue of insulting cartoons and remarks of some politicians about Islam are different links in the conspiracy of the crusaders and the pope's remarks are the latest links in this," Khamenei said.

Truly, the Pope's remarks and the cartoon controversy are pretty similar. Nutballs react with violence and rage to that which should be ordinary--the free expression of the banal or the obvious. Oh, and many in the West shrink from their brave talk of "speaking truth to power" when they deliberately insult Christianity and instead call for apologies and self-censorship. Speaking truth to power is one thing, "speaking truth to those who will stab you twenty times or behead you" is another.

And the idea that there is a conspiracy against Islam is bizarre. It they didn't have oil and crazed killers pouring out of their soil, we wouldn't even listen to them let alone conspire against them. What do they have to offer us other than oil? If we didn't need their oil we'd wall them off to keep out the crazed killers and let them enjoy their pure poverty in isolation. And one day, we won't need their oil. The conspiracy talk will really take off when we won't buy their oil for five dollars a barrel. But we won't care, either.

I may not think taxpayers should fund stupid so-called art, but I hardly think it should be censored by the government. Nor do I think we should round up the so-called artists and attack or kill them. Just ignore them, I say, and good luck getting somebody to subsidize your crap. They'll be working for Student Painters faster than you can say your rent is overdue.

It is a mistake to apologize for any of this. Apologies don't calm the nutballs and worse, apologies give ordinary Moslems the idea that they really were insulted. This is all one more link in this sorry state of affairs.

Sunday, September 17, 2006

There Will Be a Storm

We are in an apparent lull in our Long War even as we fight to consolidate gains made in Iraq and Afghanistan. As frustrating as enemy resistance is, we actually did flip two governments from the enemy column to the friend column, and the fighting that goes on in Iraq and Afghanistan consists of enemy forces trying to reverse our gains.

Other threats also remain unconfronted. The slow retreat led by the Europeans over Iran goes on and North Korea continues to exist as a proto-nuclear power.

Yes, efforts that have always been quiet go on behind the scenes, but it really does seem as if we are failing to move forward.

So are we exhausted and unwilling to face the threats that remain as Victor Hanson seems to think (I noted this here) or are we in a pause because we have for the moment expended our physical and moral resources and are merely regrouping before pressing on?

It makes quite a difference if we simply reached a culminating point or are too tired to fight again. If the former, we will go on offense once we consolidate and regroup. If the latter, we will need to be hit again to regain the will to fight.

I'm betting on the former. But one way or the other, because our enemies still exist and still seek to kill us, the war will continue.

Yes Indeed, I Insist On Some Apologies

So the Pope mentions that some in the Islamic world have been quite violent. In our day, we have seen around the world how Christian, Jews, Hindus, and insufficiently frothy Moslems are killed by the jihadis.

Yet the Pope is supposed to apologize.

I suggested the papal response:

Are we seriously supposed to apologize over every little thing that sets them off? Is the Pope really supposed to apologize for some reference to an obscure 600-year-old document? Honestly, apologies just encourage this type of behavior. A good official "bugger off" with Vatican stationary would be more appropriate, with the advice to come back and talk to us when the Islamic world's GDP is higher than Spain's.

But I had nothing on David Warren who remarks:

It is cowardly to apologize for imaginary transgressions. Let those who demand the apologies stick it.

Indeed. Read the whole thing. Apologies should come not only from the Islamic world but from the editorial board of the New York Times, the BBC, and those who fail to see that a violent and bloody reaction to a speech noting the violent roots of Islam kind of proves the point of the Pope and not the apologistas.

Really, until Saudi Arabia is funding artistic exhibitions that feature some revolting thing called "Piss Koran" rather than rioting over mythical Newsweek reports about false incidents at Guantanamo, I don't want to even hear about how the Islamic world feels offended.

Saturday, September 16, 2006

Highly Selective

It really does still astound me that a Senate Committee could conclude that Iraq had no connections with al Qaeda. I mean, this connection was assumed during the Clinton administration. How can that go down the memory hole? How can the Senate Committee claim to have looked at the evidence when they ignore what is out there?

Read the Weekly Standard piece. It explains just how bad the report is. It starts out with the basics:

According to a report released September 8 by the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, Saddam Hussein "was resistant to cooperating with al Qaeda or any other Islamist groups." It's an odd claim. Saddam Hussein's regime has a long and well-documented history of cooperating with Islamists, including al Qaeda and its affiliates.

But really, Saddam said he had nothing against America and didn't consider us his enemy. The committee took him at his word. Really.

Read the rest. I guess I'm just happy the committee didn't allocate earmarks to fund al Qaeda.

Nobody is saying Saddam directed 9/11 or had a hand in it. But to deny Saddam's cooperation with al Qaeda and terrorists in general is beyond blind stupidity.

Ah, the United States Senate. So full of themselves yet so full of it.

World's greatest debilitated body, no doubt.

Feel the Love

Why yes, they support the troops. Tip to Instapundit.

Well, to be fair, I guess nobody asks them whose troops they support.

No Dots. No Connections. Never Mind

Nearly four months ago, I speculated that perhaps we were holding our combat brigades back from the day-to-day fight in Iraq in order to prepare them for conventional operations against Iran. Pure speculation that confounds the competing lines of thought that I bring to this blog of reporting on events, predicting events, and humbly stating what I would do.

Expecting action against Iran, I looked at events and tried to fit them into what I would do if in charge.

So if I was planning to hit Iran, I'd want regular Army units to move into Iran and if I want regular Army units, units already in Iraq make the most sense. But to use them, they'd need to be trained and organized for conventional actions. Counter-insurgency operations make units less suited for conventional operations. So how do you reconcile all these things? I speculated we were pulling units back from the counter-insurgency to ready them for action.

Well, I finally decided to look at some actual facts to check on whether this could possibly be true. We have 14 or 15 Army combat brigades in Iraq right now, I think. I exclude two Marine regiments since they are clearly involved in Anbar. So what might indicate whether any of the Army brigades are actually pulled out of combat? If pulled back, they would not be suffering casualties.

So I looked at a month of Army death announcements from Iraq. In looking back to August 17, 2006, I could identify at least one soldier killed in action in fourteen separate brigades in Iraq.

So with all brigades engaged and suffering some casualties, I think it is safe to say that whatever we are planning, we are not pulling brigades back from the fight to get ready.

I do take comfort that I can look at evidence and drop speculation rather than double down and take it as proof we are really good at plotting. I think in my looming old age I should be safe from becoming like those bizarre conspiracy theorists out there! So I got that going for me.

Bottom line: No dots. No connections.

What Victory Means

Even if, as I think likely, we defeat North Korea without a war, the price will be high.

When we consider the threat posed by a nuclear-armed North Korea to its neighbors and the threat that North Korean proliferation of missiles and nuclear technology, it would be wise to remember the price of victory. And I'm not talking about the price of defeating North Korea on the battlefield. If North Korea is nearing collapse (as I've been hoping and expecting for several years now), it will be one helluva mess.

The South Korean army will be very busy in the north. Feeding people. Arresting officials. Getting agriculture going. Building infrastructure. And quite possibly fighting an insurgency of former North Korean spooks who don't want to lose. The army as a whole is not the top dog in the regime scheme of things, and I think could even see itself as the nation's savior by deposing the regime.

But this would be for their own sake, really, and not necessarily a pro-West move. I just wonder if the North Korean army can be trusted to remain in uniform? Their assistance in policing, reconstruction, and agriculture could be very important. With the top tier arrested, and the rest of the army not considered a pillar of the regime (relying on spooks and nukes), an army for the most part stripped of all but small arms and a clip of ammo might be the difference between a victory we can afford and one that in the short term will have the impact of defeat.

But do remember that nuclear proliferation, conventional war, nuclear war, revolution, or collapse will all be ugly affairs for us. I can almost understand why South Koreans would rather let their northern brethren suffer for decades to come rather than pay the price of saving them--even under the best cases of revolt or collapse.

But this is where our objectives diverge. While South Korea may see a collapsed North Korea as not much worse than North Korea invading the south; we see a North Korea that survives to threaten us directly with nukes, threaten directly our allies with nukes; and proliferate missiles and nuclear technology or even weapons as far worse than a North Korean collapse and in my view worse than a North Korean invasion of South Korea that South Korea will defeat with our help.

It's all about national objectives, here. We worry about our citizens and South Korea worries about their citizens. Indeed, I worry about the long-term impact of a nuclear North Korea on our South Korean alliance. There are worrisome trends in this sphere that are really just bizarre.

Lovely decade we're having, eh?

Friday, September 15, 2006


My Janes email news snippets reports:

The number of incursions by Chinese military aircraft and naval vessels into Taiwanese air/sea space has surged to an all-time high, Taiwan's Ministry of National Defence (MND) said in a report released on 29 August.

I read somewhere else that these are really probes of the mid-Taiwan Strait line rather than national territory. Still, does this reflect a decision to press the Taiwanese or reflect almost subconsciously an increased focus on Taiwan? Or is it simply a reflection of increased military capabilities?

Regardless, the Taiwanese really should worry a bit more about Chinese capabilities and their own weaknesses.

Targets Still

I am certainly glad that Spain is putting troops in Lebanon. I want willing allied participation wherever they are willing to commit troops to fight the common enemy:

About 480 soldiers from the Spanish marines expeditionary unit were joining an advance detachment that arrived days ago. Another 90 troops were set to arrive later.

By Saturday, Spain will have brought around 600 troops into south Lebanon, the first phase of a deployment eventually to total about 1,100 in the coming weeks.

But the Spanish should realize that having run once from Iraq after the Madrid bombing, that the jihadis will target Spain again to force a retreat once again. Having broken once, the Spanish will break again, the jihadis surely think.

If the Spanish will to resist jihad is not truly broken, Spanish troops will pay in blood to reestablish Spanish credibility.

Or Spain will pull out of Lebanon the first time a target in Spain is hit again or a car bomb goes off in a Spanish convoy.

We shall see.

A Tad Defensive

Over the years we've had the Reagan "biography," An Inconvenient Truth, The Day After Tomorrow, any Michael Moore Film you can think of, and The Day After, which all had certain--ah--problems with being truthful or accurate. Now we have The Path to 9/11.

The Left doesn't like the last one. Former administration officials didn't like it. I saw only part of the first day and it told me nothing I didn't know in the big picture. The Clinton administration did little to fight terrorism in any meaningful way. Who really wants to dispute that?

One can argue that had 9/11 not happened the current administration would have had the same record after eight years, I suppose; but you can't seriously argue in good faith that the Clinton administration was on the problem for eight years while the Bush administration dropped the ball in his first eight months.

Or you shouldn't make that argument if "incompetence" is your mantra about the current administration. Eight years of focused efforts and our successes in the war on terror included shredded tents, a few dead goats, a bombed-out aspirin factory, and--no, I guess there's no "and" there, that's it. Yep, that reeks of competence. That's why Sandy Berger stuffed secret documents concerning terrorism down his pants and then carelessly destroyed them.

I have nothing to add about the latest docudrama other than to note that at least it is called a docudrama while the others I cite are treated as factual. The latest release has more accuracy, I think.

But what else can I say? I put in my two cents about September 10th thinking here.

I just can't get too worked up over arguing what should and should not have been done in 1998 or 2000. I don't think Churchill himself could have roused us from the fever to connect dots and then go kill them. The key is what are we doing now and what will we do tomorrow, and next year, and the next decade? We really didn't start this war, but I want to win it nonetheless.

But I would be remiss if I did not at least mention and recommend these two posts by Austin Bay and VDH regarding the latest film under assault.

Forever in the Tenth Century

The Pope made some remarks concerning the nature of Islam and a sizable (and highly visible) minority of Moslems, including some officials in governments, is going batty. Again.

The headline says "Fury over Pope's remarks raises concerns." Fury? Well, yes:

Across the Islamic world Friday, Benedict's remarks on Islam and jihad in a speech in Germany unleashed a torrent of rage that many fear could burst into violent protests like those that followed publication of caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad.

By citing an obscure Medieval text that characterizes some of the teachings of Islam's founder as "evil and inhuman," Benedict inflamed Muslim passions and aggravated fears of a new outbreak of anti-Western protests.

The last outpouring of Islamic anger at the West came in February over the prophet cartoons first published in a Danish newspaper. The drawings sparked protests — some of them deadly — in almost every Muslim nation in the world.

Some experts said the perceived provocation by the spiritual leader of more than a billion Roman Catholics could leave even deeper scars.

"The declarations from the pope are more dangerous than the cartoons, because they come from the most important Christian authority in the world — the cartoons just came from an artist," said Diaa Rashwan, an analyst in Cairo, Egypt, who studies Islamic militancy.

Cartoonists, the Pope, Miss Universe contestants, writers, whatever. Something always seems to be able to set off some sizable minority of Moslems. Gruesome deaths can't be far behind this latest outbreak of outrage. We may not think we are at war with Islam, but a good chunk of Islam is determined to make it a war between the West and Islam.

Are we seriously supposed to apologize over every little thing that sets them off? Is the Pope really supposed to apologize for some reference to an obscure 600-year-old document? Honestly, apologies just encourage this type of behavior. A good official "bugger off" with Vatican stationary would be more appropriate, with the advice to come back and talk to us when the Islamic world's GDP is higher than Spain's.

I don't mean to be cruel, but in this modern age most actual Catholics don't pay real close attention to Papal speeches. The Moslem world really needs to turn over the calendar to this century, or one day people might start to really snicker when they hear "religion of peace."

And if they don't move on, rather than apologize, I suggest the Swiss Guards be expanded and given real military training. If the Moslem world is determined to fight all of us and the Pope is going to be accused of being a Crusader ...

UPDATE: The Pope has not apologized but has expressed regret that his remarks were interpreted as an assault on Islam. Me? I really am sorry. I'm sorry that hopped up jihadi wannabees are so thin-skinned and insecure that any little thing sets them off.

Oh, and a couple Christian churches were firebombed on the West Bank. They kill us and we can't note that they kill us withoug inspiring rage about their hurt pride. They firebomb our churches and we're supposed to understand their rage. Talk about an asymetric war.

I don't think we are in a war between the West and Islam. But the jihadis in the Islamic world sure do want to make it that way. (And some over here, too.) Probably because the terrorists and extremists know they are losing and want the added power of the vast majority of Moslems who do not support their jihad. The main problem with this line of extremist thinking is that we have used very little of our power to fight jihadis. If the jihadis truly do multiply their power by enlisting the Islamic world in their fight, the West can raise our level of power directed at the enemy far beyond any increase the jihadi world sees.

I don't want to see the war escalate to that level. We really need to keep the jihadis isolated and make moderate Moslems see the benefit of rejecting extremism. I think we are doing this so far, but this is long war so take nothing for granted.

UPDATE: We're up to five churches attacked. But really, it's early.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

The Guy At the End of the Bar

We probably all know some guy (and it usually is a guy, I'm sad to say) who spouts off with some bizarre theories about this or that. When he is into his cups he can be prodded pretty easily to go into his theory. You can't argue with him. And otherwise he's a decent fellow, really. Just don't discuss that issue with him.

Back in the day, such a guy would have a small audience and his eccentric theories would be heard only by friends by and large, who give him a pass on it. Just a quirk of a guy who holds a real job and is normal, really.

But with the wonders of the Internet, such guys have a bigger audience than the local watering hole. And all can see their quirks:

I am now convinced, more than ever, that the Bush pirate crew is going to pull another 9-11 before the November elections. I think they are going to declare martial law. Then when the public hits the streets in protest, they are going to trot out these "active denial" microwave weapons for crowd control. And if anyone stands around too long they will be killed, just like is happening today in Iraq.

Wow. This guy is seriously arguing that the administration will slaughter Americans to keep control of Congress? Why an all-powerful government needs to even impose martial law when it could just manipulate the election results, I do not know. You'd think that an evil genius like Rove could pull off something a little more subtle than martial law, microwave weapons, and indiscriminate gunfire. But I'm not privy to the thinking that comes up with such plots.

I know that such lunatics are hardly representative of liberals--or even of the Left, really, no matter how much they despise the current government. Heck, I've had friends with some really strange ideas about the world so it is hardly limited to the Left. And we all know about how Clinton hatred twisted a lot on the Right in the 1990s. I was not one of those people and in my job I was the designated go-to guy for answering those perplexing questions about zip code conspiracies and gold fringe on flags. But nobody took them seriously and we could all roll our eyes at the mostly harmless paranoia out there (the exception was Oklahoma City, of course). And we had the advantage of being in the vacation from history after the Berlin Wall came down and before the Twin Towers were knocked down. The acceptance of ravings like this are far greater now than back then when the media actively rejected such thoughts; and so the impact of ravings like those this guy spouts are greater and given a little more respectability.

And such ravings sure do put the left side of the spectrum in a bad light. As I've mentioned before, I want two sane national parties to compete for power. Guys like this one who should have an audience of one make it tough to keep both parties in the sane and responsible category.

There's "active denial" going on, no doubt. And not even tinfoil hats can stop it.


It is commonfor anti-war folks to say that the Iraq War has prompted jihadi anger at us. And if you are an ally with us in Iraq, what can you expect but to be targets of the jihadis too? That's certainly the lesson Spain absorbed.

So, if you are a poodle nation that simply asks how high when we command jump, you can expect nothing less than to be a target of the jihadis. You've got it coming to you, really.

One more slavish poodle is being targeted by al Qaeda:

Al-Qaida has for the first time announced a union with an Algerian insurgent group that has designated France as an enemy, saying they will act together against French and American interests.

Current and former French officials specializing in terrorism said Thursday that an al-Qaida alliance with the Salafist Group for Call and Combat, known by its French initials GSPC, was cause for concern.

Well this is a puzzler. I've got my Nuance Knob turned to eleven but it still isn't registering.

Even the French aren't too confused about this development as it turns out:

France's leader have repeatedly warned that the decision not to join the U.S.-led war in Iraq would not shield the country from Islamic terrorism. French participation in the U.N. peacekeeping mission in Lebanon could give extremists another reason to strike.

Wow. France does not take part in our "unilateral mission" in Iraq. France does participate in a mission blessed by Kofi Annan and the entire sainted international community. And yet the jihadis hate France anyway. It's almost as if they hate us for what we are and not what we do!

I'm beginning to think my Nuance Knob isn't actually connected to anything.

The Great Hover Forward

China has bought six large hovercraft from Russia and will likely build more like them. The craft:

The 540-ton Zubr LCAC, the world’s largest amphibious assault hovercraft, can reach speeds in excess of 60 knots, can travel 300 nautical miles and can shoulder various large loads: 130 tons of cargo, 500 troops, three 50-ton medium battle tanks, 10 BTR-70 armored personnel vehicles or eight BMP-2 infantry fighting vehicles.

Alone they are not significant. It is just a drop in the bucket. The real question may be how quickly will China build more of these? Still, it could just be a diversion. If China never builds more than a half dozen more, will those who dismiss China's invasion threat to Taiwan still be able to say China can't leap the Strait and hit Taiwan?

The key is how many other drops are there out there and do we even recognize them all?

There is no rule that says an amphibious invasion has to look like D-Day where we had lots of specialized equipment. If the beaches and ports aren't defended like Normandy, the old fashioned method of just shoving troops across the sea in whatever ships you have could work just fine.

A drop here and a drop there, and pretty soon we're talking a deluge and we never even noticed it coming.

The Hizbollah War

Israel did not win the Hizbollah War. I wish they did but they didn't.

Some think Israel won because as the rockets and Reuters doctored photos are put away, the feeling in the Arab world that Hizbollah beat Israel is fading:

At the imposition of the UN Security Council cease-fire resolution, the West almost unanimously considered the war in Lebanon a disaster for Israel. Most analysts insisted that Israel's failure to destroy Hezbollah amounted to a humiliation and worried about the energizing effect Hassan Nasrallah's victory would have on radical Islam's popularity in the region. These analysts would be surprised to learn that Arabs increasingly view Hezbollah's war as a disaster as well -- but a disaster for Arabs[.]

I did say that the feeling of self esteem would be fleeting considering other boosts in the past faded. I'm impressed the ego buzz has worn off so fast, but I knew it would.

I also said that on the battlefield the Israelis certainly roughed up Hizbollah a great deal--inflicting far more pain than Israel endured. I wrote that the post-war would determine if Israel scores a lasting victory rather than just a temporary reprieve while Hizbollah rearms. Excuse me if I don't think that the UN is the best instrument to provide Israel with a victory.

It is also good that Israel saw its mobilization and strategy deficiencies in a war with Hizbollah rather than with Syria or Iran.

But I stand by my assessment that Israel screwed the pooch on this one. Hizbollah survived the war more or less intact though hurt, and so can rebuild. We provided Israel with four weeks and they dithered. Major Sunni Arab states backed Israel and Israel failed to focus on Hizbollah, losing that support. The damage Israel inflicted on Lebanon's infrastructure achieved nothing and may have made winning the post-war more difficult. Don't mistake the feelings of inferiority that are reappearing in the Arab world as a sign of Israeli victory--those feelings are the default mode given the backwardness of the Moslem world.

But if the damage done to Lebanon prevents Lebanon from really cracking down on Hizbollah, in a few years Hizbollah will learn from the fight, rearm, and be back at it in another round of fighting.

We'll just see if Israel learned more. And there will be another round, I dare say.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Well, Now This Is Just Plain Annoying

The Axis of El Vil is alive and kicking with Castro barely alive and Hugo enthusiastically kicking:

Castro and Chavez are united by what they call a crusade against U.S. dominance of Latin America and unbridled capitalism that is driving the world to ruin. A personal connection feeds their ideological closeness.

Personally, I think that Hugo just hangs around Fidel to make sure he knows when Castro finally kicks off for the afterlife. I don't imagine the egotistical Hugo enjoys playing second fiddle to that walking corpse Castro. He wants the mantle of Pain in the Ass to the Gringos and the official medallion that goes with it. It is engraved "Jeffe," I think.

It isn't as if we don't have better things to do than put up with that oil-rich clown Hugo.

But we've got jihadis to kill. Business before pleasure, as the saying goes. Hopefully Hugo will anger Venezuelans faster than he can cause problems in the region and for us.