Thursday, November 30, 2006

A Larger (Operational) Army

General Pace notes:

With regard to the size of the Army and the Marine Corps, before I would go to the country and say we need to make the Army bigger, the first thing I owe the country is to ensure that we have done, with the Army size that we have, all that we should do to increase combat power, and General Schoomaker and Secretary Harvey and the Army are working that very hard. They have taken, without changing the size of the Army -- they are taking the active Army from 33 brigades of about 3,500 individuals up to 42 brigades of about 4,500 individuals. So you've got nine more units that are about a thousand man each bigger than the units used to have. By taking the institutional Army, the things that are being done that are not combat and reducing the numbers of soldiers who are applied to those missions and changing some of those to civilian jobs. That's the first step you need to take.

Then you need to look to the future and ask yourself how much force will the nation need two or three years from now, because if you say to me tomorrow, "Pete, I want you to build another division," the answer is, "Okay, sir; it will be about two years from the time you say `go' until we can build that division," because you need to recruit and you need to have the officers and the NCOs and all the people that make a division whole, to recruit it and train it and get it in the field. And then you need to look down the road and say by the time you get it built, will you need it?

Comes the time when I personally believe that we need to increase the size of the Army and Marine Corps, I will make those recommendations to the secretary of Defense and to the president. Those recommendations are military advice, and I should keep my military advice inside the military advice chain. But I can tell you that that is what the chiefs and I are routinely scrubbing, which is the size of the force, the capacity of the force, the resilience of the force and the potential size needed in the future, and, based on that analysis, making recommendations to the secretary about the changes that are already ongoing and are they going to be sufficient, or might more changes be needed.

As someone who has long thought we need a larger Army, I came around a while ago to supporting the Pentagon's approach until this avenue exhausts its potential and we have to consider end strength.

I don't know why critics who say we aren't growing the Army don't recognize that by taking an authorized Army slot and replacing a soldier with a civilian you get the equivalent of one more soldier without raising end strength. Critics, including myself at one time, called for two more divisions to be added to the active component. This would have--in the old organization--meant six more brigades. Even under the new organization we'd be talking eight new brigades.

So I got the increase I wanted. And I do worry whether Congress will fund more combat brigades in the long run. So let's see how far we can go with the Pentagon's plan to free up slots in the current end strength for combat troops.


An interesting description of what US army Europe will look like after it is reshaped.

The only two ground combat brigades to be permanently stationed there will be the separate brigades not associated with any of our divisions: 2nd ACR (Stryker) and 173rd AB Brigade. Other ground combat units will rotate in from CONUS to Bulgaria and Romania (two brigades total?).

One heavy brigade will stay a little longer in Germany than originally planned.

I don't assume this is the last word on how USAREUR will look. Given how Russia is acting lately, how long before Poland and the Baltic states want US troops on the ground?

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

No Substitute for Victory

Our enemies must know we will fight until we win.

More importantly, our troops must be confident that we ask them to die for nothing less than victory.

So I'm glad that the President loudly proclaimed we will win in Iraq:

President Bush was right to declare yesterday in Latvia that he will not withdraw U.S. troops from Iraq until the “mission is complete” because “we can accept nothing less than victory for our children and our grandchildren.” It appears Bush’s characteristic Texas stubbornness is the only thing standing between victory and the U.S. defeat that has all but been proclaimed by Washington’s foreign policy establishment and its friends in the mainstream media like “60 Minutes” reporter Lara Logan. She insisted in her weekend interview with Gen. John Abizaid that “managing the defeat” is America’s only option.

It is to be hoped that Bush’s main target with yesterday’s declaration was his father’s former Secretary of State, James Baker, head of the soon-to-be-sainted Iraq Study Group. The ISG is widely reported to be preparing a recommendation that Bush seek the aid of Iran and Syria in resolving the war in Iraq. Iran and Syria may be U.S. opponents, but they have a common interest with us in establishing a stable regime in Baghdad, we are told by the Foggy Bottom Realpolitikers and the media experts for whom NBC’s decision to call it a civil war represents a “Cronkite Moment.”

I don't recall Bosnia or Kosovo being described as a "civil war" to justify inaction in the 1990s. I seem to remember hearing the Officially Concerned demand action in the civil war of Sudan. Really, this is all about promoting our defeat and not linguistic purity.

Luckily, neither Matt Lauer nor Lara Logan are Walter Cronkite.

Tell Baker and his buddies Logan and Lauer to take a hike.

And then let's get on with the serious business of killing our enemies.

Fighting Back

Talk of escalating violence in Iraq is partly misplaced by the assumption that all violence is alike.

If the increased violence since February 2006 was from Sunnis killing more Shias, that would indeed be an escalation. But after taking it on the chin for decades, the recent increase comes largely from the Shias hitting back with their larger numbers:

The death rate has been increasing as Shia Arabs undertake more revenge attacks on Sunni Arabs. The government does not release data on the religion of victims, but reports from Iraqis indicates that over the last year, an increasing portion of the deaths are Sunni. Two thirds or more of the dead now appear to be Sunni Arabs.

Given that Shias outnumber Sunni Arabs by a 3:1 or 4:1 ratio, Shias are still being relatively restrained if they are killing Sunnis at only twice the rate they are being killed by Sunnis.

It would be kind of like saying that the rate of violence between Americans and Nazis increased dramatically after June 6, 1944 and concluding from that fact that the war was being lost.

So while this isn't pretty, and it hinders Sunni motivation to join the government, it is not fair to ignore the nuance of the situation to proclaim defeat.

And really, by inspiring Sunnis to flee, the Sunni terrorists are essentially draining the sea in which those Sunni terrorist fish must swim to be effective. The Sunnis will end up dead or defeated and the Shias really won't care which as long as Sunni terrorism is ended.

Men At Work

We will send four battalions of combat engineers to Baghdad:

The extra combat engineer battalions of reserves, likely to be sent to Baghdad, would total about 3,500 troops, officials said. They said the units, coming from around the United States, have already done tours in Iraq but there has been no final decision on which will go.

They will come from our reserves--I assume the National Guard.

I assume they will go to Baghdad to build things rather than act as infantry. Berms, access control points, strong points to disperse company-sized combat elements throughout the city, watch towers, and police stations would be force multipliers for combat units and security forces. And civilian projects, too, I should think.

Adding specific types of troops for specific missions makes sense. I still don't think we need a general increase to win.

Old Europe

Just as I think that talking about adding troops to Iraq misses the point if we aren't using what we have effectively, so too is the ongoing debate over where to get 2,500 more NATO troops for Afghanistan rather off the mark.

We have those 2,500 NATO troops in Afghanistan right now. And many more. The problem is that France, Italy, Germany, and Spain won't let their troops in Afghanistan actually fight.

So while Poland and Romania manfully step up to join American, Canadian, British, Dutch, and Australian troops who do fight, we see that Secretary Rumsfeld was pretty accurate about his scorn for "Old Europe."

I guess we can see how a continent that has evolved beyond warfare actually fights a war. They are merely playing soldier with their nice little uniforms, and nothing more. And they have the nerve to boast of their participation in this "good" war.

In the end, most of the Old Europe troops are just burdens on the logistical system who shouldn't even be called soldiers given the restrictions placed on them.

Fake But Accurate

When I ponder how America's reputation could be worsened in much of the world despite our extreme efforts to fight the cleanest war ever fought, you have to consider how our war is reported. Much of the world that gets its reporting from European or Arab press sources, and based on their reporting you'd think that we are slaughtering Iraqi civilians every day with glee and on purpose. The truth is that we fight carefully, risking our own lives to avoid civilian deaths, and that civilian deaths at our hands are extremely low.

Unfortunately, the world has no way of knowing that reports of atrocities are largely fiction. Consider the report that six Sunnis were burned alive by Shia death squads. A witness is quoted--an apparently trustworthy officer of the Iraqi police. But "Capt. Jamil Hussein," does not in fact exist. Well, to be more exact, he is not a captain (or any other rank) in the Iraqi police. But he is a regular source for stories of atrocities that AP publishes. As an apparent English speaker, he may very well be a captain of Saddam's former regime. And he is fighting his part of the war through AP. There are many more Captain Husseins, I dare say. The Baathists were the ones educated to speak English. Our reporters need to interview English-speaking Iraqis. The Baathists know this. Our reporters either don't know, don't care, or are eager to cooperate. Quite simple, really.

But the truth is not the point. For our Sunni terrorist enemies inside Iraq whose hope for victory is pinned on inspiring enough fear in Iraqi Sunnis to get them to support the Sunni-based terrorists, it doesn't matter whether horrible attacks take place, just that the Sunnis believe they take place.

Oh, and the Sunnis must also believe that they cannot trust the government's security personnel over Sunni terrorists, so the original report had Iraqi soldiers standing by doing nothing while the innocent Sunnis were set ablze.

Some might say we might as well fight dirty since we are portrayed that way. But it would still be wrong. And just as important, it wouldn't work. We'd stop ourselves long before brutality could suppress the insurgency. We simply couldn't carry on a traditional mass murder campaign long enough to work.

So we must get better at information warfare. We must find a way to keep the enemy from using our free press as their own weapon system targetting our home front. Even if we had more reporters who think we deserve to win, this would be an issue since the European and Arab press are the very worst offenders, making even CNN look like jingoistic Patriots.

We have to find ways to rapidly refute propaganda and ways to keep such propaganda from getting on the air in the first place since our responses take too long and never receive the same attention.

Right now, much of the world thinks we kill indiscriminantly and the fact that they are totally wrong is totally irrelevant to how they react.

UPDATE: Let me correct something. I didn't mean to state that the Shias are not committing atrocities against Sunnis. They are. I was conflating my frustration at the common view that our soldiers are brutal when that is a total lie with the fake reporting exposed of the latest purported Shia crime. Still, the Sunnis must not think there are enough really sensational Shia crimes to inspire Sunni fear if theBaathists have to make up Shia crimes so often.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Deja Vu

By chance in looking for some old information, I happened on my November 2003 postings from my original site.

I clearly could have taken this month off and simply reposted November 2003. Rather amazing, really.

Well not really. As a history major I'm always confronted with pasts that seem hauntingly familiar. Three years isn't that much time in the big picture. Technology changes quickly. People not so much.

So if you want an interesting exercise in seeing today's problems three years ago, scroll through my thoughts from that month.

Coalition Building

The Horn of Africa is a growing threat that could explode into war with or without us.

But given al Qaeda's presence, it would be best if we struck to kill jihadis and prevent them from consolidating in Somalian territory.

We are coalition building in the area:

The US has given Kenya and Ethiopia evidence that Somali Islamists intend to launch suicide attacks inside Kenya and Ethiopia. Islamist agents would also try to assassinate "prominent Kenyans" and ethnic Somalis. That presumably means ehtnic Somalis not aligned with the Islamic Courts and its allies. Ethnic Somalis live in northern Kenya and in eastern Ethiopia.

As I said when the Islamists scored their big victory, this cannot stand. Of course, I've thought offensive action in Somalia is a good idea since November 2003 (scroll down to the 10th if you like):

More broadly speaking, I wonder if Islamofascists generally are mistaking our strategic pause for weakness. Perhaps we can't embark on major military missions yet and the Iran showdown must wait for early 2005, but we probably should be on the offensive somewhere overtly and very soon. The quiet work of rolling up al Qaeda and their friends is not visible enough.

With news that al Qaeda has used Somalia as a training and staging ground—in particluar the 1998 embassy bombings—perhaps Somalia (with the cooperation of some Somalis in the area attacked) should get some attention from Special Forces soldiers and AC-130 gunships in a very sharp reminder that we have teeth.

It would also help erase the image of the Battle of Mogadishu as a US defeat.

Maybe my predictive powers aren't bad--I just see way farther in the future than I thought!

Or maybe our enemies accurately see our weakness.

The New Realism

Realism as our foreign policy began dying in 1989 when the Berlin Wall was pulled down by the inmates. The heart of realism was always that the huge threat of the Soviet Union justified allying with horrible regimes that agreed to help us fight Soviet communism. We might have hoped that we could change authoritarian regimes into democracies (and Taiwan and South Korea, to name two, managed that), but the bottom line was that promoting freedom overseas was subordinate to surviving the Soviet threat.

When the Soviet Union itself died in 1991, realism should have died with it.

September 11 should have killed the still warm corpse of realism by making it apparent that the stability we sought in the Third World during the Cold War just incubated jihadi hatred and a dysfunctional Islamic world that spawned jihadis.

Fouad Ajami writes:

It was not naive idealism, it should be recalled, that gave birth to Bush's diplomacy of freedom. That diplomacy issued out of a reading of the Arab-Muslim political condition and of America's vulnerability to the disorder of Arab politics. The ruling regimes in the region had displaced their troubles onto America; their stability had come at America's expense, as the scapegoating and the anti-Americanism had poisoned Arab political life. Iraq and the struggle for a decent polity in it had been America's way of trying to extirpate these Arab troubles. The American project in Iraq has been unimaginably difficult, its heartbreak a grim daily affair. But the impulse that gave rise to the war was shrewd and justified.

Remember, our current problems were not caused by our rejection of Realism as a policy. Our current problems caused us to reject Realism as a policy to solve our problems.

Just because we still fight to cure our problems with the Moslem world is no reason to go back to Realism. The world that spawned that ugly but necessary policy is long gone and isn't coming back.

How realistic is it to try and shoehorn a policy made for the Cold War era into today's world?

Monday, November 27, 2006

Preparing For an Air Campaign?

China is getting serious about its army and air force training.

And now China is preparing AWACS-type aircraft to be ready by next year:

The Chinese Air Force has been training with its four new IL 76 AWACS (A-50s from Russia, converted to Chinese KJ2000 systems) and smaller KJ200 (carried in the four prop engine Chinese made Y8 aircaft) AWACS. This has been going on for several months at an airbase in eastern China (Jiangsu province.) One of the two KJ200 aircraft crashed last June, during its final test flight.

The KJ2000 was expected to enter service next year. China has had to develop its own phased array radar for it, after being prevented, by the United States, from buying the Israeli Phalcon airborne radar six years ago. The KJ2000 carries a flight crew of five and a mission (AWACS) crew of about a dozen. The aircraft can stay airborne for about seven hours per sortie. The KJ2000 radar has a range of about 300 kilometers, and the computer systems are supposed to be able to handle 5-10 fighters at a time, and keep track of several dozen enemy targets.

Controlling aircraft over Chinese territory can be done from ground-based controllers. Of course, if you intend to wage an aerial campaign 100 miles offshore, aerial command and control would come in handy.

I'm continually amazed that any Taiwanese can sleep at night these days.

Because an Ice Pick is So 1939

The Russians (or perhaps their wholly owned subsidiary Belorussia to maintain Putin's soul and deniability??) murdered a former KGB spook named Alexander Litvinenko in Britain with the exotic radioactive element Polonium-210:

The British government began tracking radioactive hotspots in London on Monday to trace the poison that killed a former KGB agent, and three people who reported possible symptoms of contamination underwent testing.

Polonium-210 may be a far cry from an ice pick, but the message sent by the murder is the same: mess with Moscow and we will hunt you down and kill you--and we don't even care if our methods point to us.

Russia had a brief window to join the West, but Putin has decided that he'd rather strive for the glory days when people looked to Moscow with fear.

Just how we can break the state monopoly of power in Russia and push democratic reform is beyond me at the moment. But we shouldn't accept what Russia is fast becoming without a struggle. At worst, I'm darned glad that NATO is meeting as far east as it is in Estonia.

NATO may be worried about its relevancy and struggling to define its role in the post-Cold War world, but Russia may be giving the defense alliance a new old reason to exist.

Lovely decade we're having, eh?

Validating My Methodology

We don't need more US troops in Iraq.

Frederick Kagan, in his piece advocating 50,000 more US troops for Iraq as a decisive move to win, validates the methodology I've been using for more than three years to argue that we don't need more troops to win in Iraq. Writes Kagan:

Then there's the question of the size of the population to be pacified. Most of Iraq is relatively calm. Instances of violence in the Kurdish north and the Shia south are rare. No responsible analyst advocates sending large numbers of troops into either area--they are not needed and would not be welcomed. Disarming the Shia militias is a process that must be undertaken only after the Sunni Arab insurgency is under control, and it cannot be undertaken primarily by American forces directly confronting the Shiite population. Using all of Iraq's 27 million people as a baseline for estimating force ratios is, therefore, an invalid approach.

The U.S. command repeatedly and correctly points out that about 80 percent of the violence in Iraq occurs within a 35-mile radius of Baghdad, among a population of perhaps 10 million. Baghdad itself has roughly 6.5 million inhabitants, including the 2.5 million Shiites in Sadr City. These figures provide the basis for a more realistic estimate of the force levels needed. Applying the high-end ratio used in Tal Afar over the entire metropolitan Baghdad area would generate a requirement of 250,000 troops--both U.S. and Iraqi. There are currently about 100,000 Iraqi army troops that the U.S. command considers trained and ready. There are almost 150,000 American troops in Iraq now, including perhaps 70,000 combat troops. Conducting Tal Afar-type operations across the entire capital region all at once would require concentrating all available forces in the area and a "surge" of about 80,000 U.S. soldiers--a large number, to be sure, but very far from the "hundreds of thousands" or even "millions" generated by the use of specious historical examples.

But the situation is not even this dire. Not all areas of the capital region require such an intensive deployment. Indeed, previous successful operations even in Baghdad did not require such high force ratios.

I've argued again and again that we must look at troop levels for the north, center, and south separately; that we must look at Baghdad itself by districts; and that Iraqi forces must be included in the numbers needed to pacify the country.

Further, the military side is just one part of the strategy and numbers are merely one part of the military side.

We face a tiny but well-armed and financed, and ruthless enemy. As I wrote in November 2003 (cited above):

I don’t think we need more foreign troops, US or allied. Getting more Iraqis and deploying existing forces to guard ammo dumps until they can be destroyed are necessary, but the numbers look good for defeating the insurgents. It just takes time, though. Remember, we have to do it with minimum firepower as we fight among civilians. Our firepower and high tech advantages are minimized in police operations and we just can’t replicate our conventional speed of operations.

Patience. My amateur number crunching looks good.

The enemy cannot be defeated rapidly or with primarily military means. We could certainly revise how we use our troops or where we deploy them, but how can anyone argue we need more troops in Iraq? We already have more than 600,000 security personnel.

Move the troops we have where needed, certainly. But we need more time and not more troops to win. I'd rather add another 50,000 units of American patience to Iraq than pump up our troop levels.

Or maybe add Ritalin to the Congressional water supply.

Talk? Sure. Betray Friends? No Way.

I have been annoyed at the recent cries to talk to Syria and Iran as a way out of our Iraq problems. I can't say I'm absolutely opposed to talking to Syria (as opposed to Iran, where talk is pointless unless you think mullah nukes are just dandy) since I've supported it in the past. On certain conditions, of course.

In my view, Syria is a traditional tyrant state that is a problem, but a more narrow problem that can be deferred until more deadly threats are defeated. If talking to Syria gets them to halt their undeclared war on Iraq and our troops in Iraq without giving Syria anything other than time (and which doesn't involve betraying Lebanon or Iraq) during which we aren't targetting them, why not make the deal?

Besides, attacking Syria dissipates our strength. Iran is the power behind Syria so if we knock out Syria we merely knock a weapon out of the hands of Iran. Iran remains. If we take down Iran, the Syrian "weapon" drops to the floor without much effort on our part.

But what I oppose about talking is the idea that we are losing in Iraq and need to get Syria to cover our retreat.

And I oppose the readiness of those advocating talks on such terms to abandon democracy in Iraq and Lebanon as the price of disguising our retreat--for a little while--from Iraq:

Overall, political dialogue with Washington would be good for Syria, said Aymen Abdel Nour, a political analyst linked to the reform wing of the ruling Baath party in Damascus.

But he also warned it would come at a high price: Damascus would certainly demand that Washington help Assad regain the Golan Heights from Israel, stop efforts to isolate his regime and also put an end to attempts to implicate Syria in Hariri's death.

"Syria is talking about a package — you either take or leave it," Abdel Nour said. He acknowledged, however, that this "might be difficult for the Bush administration to swallow."

As Victor Hanson notes, first of all we aren't losing in Iraq, so in regard to talking to Iran and Syria:

In general, we should neither seek to negotiate nor threaten either regime, but instead very quietly press ahead with winning in Iraq, and galvanizing allies to prepare sanctions against both—while preparing for the worst.

So while talking isn't always bad, if we go in to these particular talks on the assumption that the talks are about our defeat, how can any good come from them?

But is Syria even in as strong a position as so many assume? Strategypage writes that alliance with Iran once made sense but that bond may be fraying:

But Syria had other problems. The country was run by a Shia minority dictatorship. Most Syrians are Sunni Arab, but attempts by them to take control of the country have been brutally put down by a very efficient secret police force. But there's also a lot of give and take, and for the past three years, Syria has let Sunni Arab extremists to freely pass through Syria, on their way to get killed in Iraq. Several hundred thousand Iraqi Sunni Arabs, most of them former Saddam supporters, have taken refuge in Syria. The alliance with Iran is getting ragged, with Syria now looking at the prospect of Hizbollah (more radical Shia) controlled Lebanon to the west, and Shia run Iraq to the east. Syria's Sunni [sic: Shia] Arab minority doesn't want to end up like Iraq's Sunni Arabs. Friendly gestures must be made, Sunni Arab terrorists must be arrested or killed. Something must be done, quickly, before everything changes.

If Syria is as weak as this says and worried about succeeding in destabilizing Iraq and turning over Lebanon to Iran, which seems all too obvious despite the chest-thumping that comes out of Damascus that our Left and Realists believe all too readily, talking to Syria could be good. In this case, Syria doesn't like being Iran's weapon of choice and wants to pry Tehran's grip from Syria. Syria could be riding a Persian tiger with no idea how to get off.

But for talks to benefit us, we'd need to have the confidence to make demands and not listen to their demands. We'd need to go into the talks with the goal of covering Syria's retreat from Iraq and their Iranian alliance with enough window dressing to cover Syria--for a while.

I am still constantly amazed at how readily some would revive our nearly dead enemies in order to hand them our sword in surrender.

Talk to Syria if we must. But talk with the confidence that our strength and their weakness should give us. And keep on fighting in Iraq and pushing the Iraqis to take over. If talks fail, I'll settle for simply winning.

Imams, Ministers and a Rabbi ...

... walk into an airport. So what is this? A joke or something?

Sadly, no:

Imams, ministers and a rabbi staged a "pray-in" demonstration Monday at Reagan Washington National Airport and demanded an apology from US Airways for barring six Muslims from a Minneapolis to Phoenix flight last week.

Forget their loud praying, pairing off and dispersing to non-assigned seats, strange and unnecessary request for seat belt extensions, and their anti-American conversation.

You know, if Rourkes and Flannigans and O'Connors were piling up the corpses at our airports and in our planes, I'd expect to be cavity searched every time I wanted to fly. And I'd hope I'd have the decency to be shamed that my co-nationalities were so depraved that I as an Irish-American had to endure such indignities because of them. To be affronted that such precautions are necessary is an outrage. I hope US Airways does not apologize for just doing their damn jobs. Or at least says it was a joke that went awry. That seems to work of late.

I wish these imams put as much effort into persuading jihadis not to yell "Allahu Akbar!" every time they slaughter some infidels. I wish the imams were as insulted by jihadi crimes against Moslems. Talk about your worst day ever. So-called "flying while Moslem" in America is sure safer than "driving while Moslem" in Iraq, eh?

For jihadis, the punch line is always a bomb or beheading of some sort. So we can't afford to let down our guard. Security is no laughing matter.

Sunday, November 26, 2006


I've mentioned that one of our jobs in Iraq is to atomize the enemy so that Iraqi forces can handle them without our forces. If the enemy could mass in battalion strength, they could overrun outposts and withdraw, leaving the government unable to disperse forces to protect population centers. Atomized into small groups, even light infantry patrols or small outposts can't be overwhelmed before help arrives. I've noted that I hadn't heard of the enemy operating in even platoon strength in quite a while (40-50 men).

This report shows that the enemy did recently operate in platoon strength:

During Saturday's fighting in Baqouba, police killed at least 36 insurgents and wounded dozens after scores of militants armed with assault rifles and rocket-propelled grenades attacked government buildings in the city center, police said. The fighting raged for hours in the city, about 35 miles northeast of Baghdad.

Although scores (4 score, or 80 enemy?) attacked the city center, Iraqi police--one of the least effective of the Iraqi security forces (other than Facility Protection Service guys)--hunted down the enemy, killing or wounding at least 60 by this account. The enemy apparently failed to take any of the buildings since I'm sure that would be mentioned if it happened.

This is one of the largest enemy attacks I've heard about and even this was handled by Iraqi police. This is as good an example as any of why the enemy prefers IEDs to actual gun battles. I wonder if the enemy will try to mass scores of gunmen any time soon.

Explain to me again about how bad our allies are and how good the enemy is?

Victory and Democracy Aren't Realistic?

The inherently slow path to beating a well-financed terrorism campaign in Iraq is prompting a number of people to inspired mental gymnastics to disguise retreat as realism:

So let's add up the "realist" proposals: We must retreat from Iraq, and thus abandon all those Iraqis--Shiite, Sunni, Kurd, and others--who have depended on the United States for safety and the promise of a better future. We must abandon our allies in Lebanon and the very idea of an independent Lebanon in order to win Syria's support for our retreat from Iraq. We must abandon our opposition to Iran's nuclear program in order to convince Iran to help us abandon Iraq. And we must pressure our ally, Israel, to accommodate a violent Hamas in order to gain radical Arab support for our retreat from Iraq.

I find this astounding. We once supported Third World thugs in order to focus on the far greater threat of Soviet Communism. It was never a great deal and the "stability" we bought in the Third World was never more than temporary and never morally good except for the fact that we faced a quite evil enemy in Moscow that had to be defeated.

Failing to recognize that the world has changed dramatically from 1989 to 2001 is so far from recognizing realism and idealism alike that I don't understand how abandoning democrats or pro-democracy advocates in Iraq, Iran, Israel, and Lebanon can be embraced by so-called Progressives as readily as old Cold War realists.

Progressives here who think it is outrageous that we should sacrifice any small amount of freedom to fight terrorism find it equally outrageous that we would help foreign people willing to fight and die for freedom. These Progressives would let real fascists run the lives of Iraqis, Iranians, and Lebanese while supporting Hamas over Israel.

Rather than try to dress up surrender as nuanced realism, we really need to focus on victory.

Victory is well within our grasp and is the right thing to do.

It Was Such a Quiet Continent!

When the Islamists provoke Europeans enough to stir them from their long post-World War II slumber, Moslems will wonder just what the heck hit them.

I know that Mark Steyn assumes that European demographics mean that Europe will surrender to Moslem immigrants and their fast-breeding offspring, but this neglects the long span of European history. I have written about this many times. Such as here. I quoted an earlier post of mine:

Eventually the Europeans will have to choose between surrender and harsher options. Will Bosnia and Kosovo be the models the Europeans will follow in desperation as the alternative to surrender? I don't think the Euros are so permanently soft after five decades of easy life under our protection that they have forgotten centuries of brutal ruthlessness. The Europeans turned the Moslems back inside Europe itself at Tours and Vienna, and expelled them from Spain. They are capable of doing so again.

And this time the US won't come to the rescue of Moslems under assault. Unlike our past military actions to save Moslems, we won't intervene to save Europe's Moslems. We wouldn't want to provoke Moslem anger by doing so, eh? Ingratitude for past efforts will suppress any sympathy we have. Continued terrorism will lead us to at least remain quiet as Europe goes about its dirty work.

Ralph Peters (via Real Clear Politics) seems to agree with me:

The notion that continental Europeans, who are world-champion haters, will let the impoverished Muslim immigrants they confine to ghettos take over their societies and extend the caliphate from the Amalfi Coast to Amsterdam has it exactly wrong.

The endangered species isn't the "peace loving" European lolling in his or her welfare state, but the continent's Muslims immigrants - and their multi-generation descendents - who were foolish enough to imagine that Europeans would share their toys.

In fact, Muslims are hardly welcome to pick up the trash on Europe's playgrounds.

Don't let Europe's current round of playing pacifist dress-up fool you: This is the continent that perfected genocide and ethnic cleansing, the happy-go-lucky slice of humanity that brought us such recent hits as the Holocaust and Srebrenica.

THE historical patterns are clear: When Europeans feel sufficiently threatened - even when the threat's concocted nonsense - they don't just react, they over-react with stunning ferocity. One of their more-humane (and frequently employed) techniques has been ethnic cleansing.

We try to help the Moslem world win its own "civil war" and gain control of their fanatics.

Europe ignores the fanatics and accepts their reasons for being mad at us--but in the end I think they will exterminate Moslems from within Europe when the Euros can no longer ignore the attacks and fanaticism.

Much like the neighbor of the serial killer after the killer is arrested, we will all be stunned: "He was such a quiet young man!"

I guess we shall see who has the more nuanced and compassionate policy towards Islam.

UPDATE: Steyn replies here to Peters. I think Steyn is a bit harsh, and saying that some Europeans could go fascist is exactly what he predicted, but that it won't be enough to save the continent from Moslem domination, isn't enough to sway me to Steyn's view.

Even if Europe's aging population means that a population of 400 million has young people appropriate for a healthy population half its size means Europe could still mobilize a lot of soldiers. And with the power of the state behind them and a tradition of Western military excellence as opposed to the Middle Eastern tradition of fighting poorly against Western armies, I don't find it unlikely at all that a roused Europe will slaughter and drive out Moslems rather than succumb to Moslem rule.

What's the saying? One man willing to use a machine gun beats 100 without a machine gun? Recall any riot situation you've seen with small numbers of organized police using shields and batons scattering unorganized rioters that outnumber the cops by large ratios. Give the cops guns and enough fear and determination to use those guns and the Moslem youth will not stand a chance.

As my link to my earlier post shows, Victor Hanson thinks (or thought it at the time) the Europeans will react rationally to the threat and in time join us but at a little lower profile level of effort against the jihadis. I guess Hanson is the most optimistic. Steyn the most pessimistic, assuming Europe loses. And Peters assumes Europe goes postal in a middle route of winning in a very ugly manner.

I have to side with Peters here. As much as I like Steyn and Hanson (and though I think Peters has gone loopy on us over Iraq), I have to side with Peters in figuring the Europeans will ignore the problem of Islamo-fascism and then choose the killing option--a time honored tradition in Europe--over the surrender option. I just don't think 60 years of pacifism have erased 600 years of crushing non-Europeans who got in their way.

Have a nice day.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Paul Belien takes issue with Peters' hostility toward Europe. I do disagree with the idea that Europeans are evil. They are part of the West with our shared tradition of freedom and democracy. So I don't condemn Europeans for a brutal past which is certainly no more brutal than the sainted Third World's history. And Europe has done much to advance civilization, which is more than most other people can claim when you tally up the horrors and advances different civilizations have on ther respective ledgers.

What I want is for Europeans to stand with us in defense of the West. I only bring up Europe's violent past (beyond 1945) to argue that Europeans are just as capable as anyone of defending themselves even if they must be brutal to do so. Europeans aren't ready to be brutal yet. But unless VDH's more optimistic scenario takes place, Europeans will do what it takes to defend themselves from an internal enemy if that is what develops in their suburbs.

Saturday, November 25, 2006


Early in the insurgency in Iraq, I speculated that the Baathists who fled Baghdad with the regime's cash would eventually decide that they should just keep the money rather than waste it on an insurgency that could not restore them to the gravy train. This recent report seems to confirm this:

But the report says Mr. Hussein’s loyalists “are no longer a major source of funding for terrorist or insurgent groups in Iraq.” Part of the reason, the report says, is that an American-led international effort has frozen $3.6 billion in “former regime assets.” Another reason, it says, is that Mr. Hussein’s erstwhile loyalists, realizing that “it is increasingly obvious that a Baathist regime will not regain power in Iraq,” have turned increasingly to spending the money on their own living expenses. The trail to these assets “has grown cold,” the report adds.

This is from a NYT story (via Real Clear Politics) but I am still on a boycott despite the fact that John Burns is the lead author.

Unfortunately, this development isn't enough to starve the enemy. Criminal activity (including payments by France and Italy for hostages) and government corruption are now providing adequate funding to keep the insurgency going.

I had also written that eventually, after the insurgency was tamped down, we'd need to have FBI types to help the government battle corruption to keep such crime from undermining a new democracy and rule of law. Chicago-style machine politics was once considered democracy but no more and not with our press looking for all flaws.

But we can't wait until we win since the corruption isn't just undermining a new democracy but funding the insurgency that is keeping that democracy from even trying to build rule of law. We need advisors within Iraqi army and police units and we need advisors within the ministries to hunt down corrupt officials whose blood money is killing Iraqis. Trying and hanging a few might do some good.

Money is more important than a supply of explosives when it comes to putting IEDs in the field. We have to win this struggle.

Desperate for Support

Iraq's Sunnis are bloody-minded but desperate to gain enough power to win against the Iraqi government.

When someone tries to say that the Iraq insurgents are beating us, they may use examples of violence such as this to bolster their claim:

Sadrist lawmaker Qusai Abdul-Wahab blamed U.S. forces for Thursday's deadly attack on Sadr City because they failed to provide security. Suspected Sunni insurgents killed 215 people in the Shiite slum with mortars and five car bombs in the deadliest attack of the war.

As Vice President Dick Cheney traveled to the neighboring Sunni country of Saudi Arabia on Saturday to seek help in calming Iraq down, Iraq's sectarian violence shifted to Diyala province north of Baghdad, where gunmen broke into two Shiite homes and killed 21 men in front of their relatives, police said. U.S. and Iraqi forces also killed 58 insurgents during fighting in the same region.

These examples do not prove the enemy is winning, only that they are willing to kill in order to win.

You also have to consider that attacks like these are part of a Sunni-based insurgency strategy of trying to get the Shias to retaliate against the Sunnis. Why would Sunni terrorists try to get Shias to kill Sunnis? Because the Sunni terrorists know that most Sunnis don't support the Sunni insurgents. The insurgents hope to drive Sunnis into supporting the insurgency as the only means of protecting themselves against Shia attacks.

Unfortunately for the prospects of ending the insurgency, the Sunnis have succeeding in making the Sunni leadership too worried about Shia death squads to make a deal with the Shia-dominated government.

And also unfortunately for the Sunnis, siding with the Sunni terrorists won't protect them--it will just guarantee that the Shias kill all the Sunnis or drive them from central Iraq to Anbar province or even drive them from all of Iraq.

The Sunnis really need to just surrender and hope that our presence can somehow restrain the Shias from carrying out large-scale revenge attacks for all the past Sunni crimes against the Shias. Continuing to fight is no real option for the Sunnis. But given how poorly they have chosen so far, I have little hope they will suddenly rub a couple brain cells together and spark a smart move to end their futile war.

Friday, November 24, 2006

Race Against Hatred

For three years I've wondered just how stupid Iraq's Sunnis could be. They are a minority and will lose eventually if they persist in fighting and killing Shias. The more time that passes without the Sunnis coming to terms with the Shia majority and the Kurds, the more likely the Sunnis won't like the terms demanded by the majority for ending Shia/Kurd attacks on the Sunnis.

This report indicates that the Sunnis are running out of time:

Shiite militiamen grabbed six Sunnis as they left Friday worship services, doused them with kerosene and burned them alive near Iraqi soldiers who did not intervene, police Capt. Jamil Hussein said.

The savage revenge attack for Thursday's slaying of 215 people in the Shiite Sadr City slum occurred as members of the Mahdi Army militia burned four mosques, and several homes while killing an unknown number of Sunni residents in the once-mixed Hurriyah neighborhood of Baghdad.

Gunmen loyal to radical anti-American Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr began taking over the neighborhood this summer and most of its Sunni residents already had fled.
This is extremely dangerous. While our minimum goal of getting rid of an Iraq dangerous to us and its neighbors will be met with a Shia-dominated Iraq with a semi-independent Kurd region and few Sunnis, our medium level goal of an Iraq democracy will be made harder. And our maximum goal of having a regional example that could topple other thug dictatorships (like Syria, Iran, Egypt, or Saudi Arabia) will be even harder to achieve. We need to slow down the rate of violence against civilians. Back before Samarra in February, it looked like the Sunnis would be ground down and defeated without inspiring a major Shia backlash against the Sunnis.

But even as Shias commit even more vicious murders in retaliation for past and continuing Sunni-backed terror (and this does not excuse the murders, but does go far to answer the apparently all-important question of "why they [the Shias] hate them [the Sunnis]"), the prospect of controlling the idiot Iranian pawn Sadr enough to suppress Shia revenge attacks seems to decline. For more than three years I've called for the killing of Sadr (no, his arrest is not enough) as an enemy of the state. But the government doesn't seem able to fully confront him and the Iranians have supplied him with enough to hold out against all but a determined campaign to defeat Sadr's militia.

So the main hope for ending the Shia revenge killings is defeating the Sunnis quickly enough to reduce the motivation for Shia revenge attacks on Sunnis. This is being done in Anbar:

Al Qaeda no longer boasts of a base in western Iraq. To do so would have to address the fact that most al Qaeda losses in the area have been at the hands of angry Sunni Arab tribesmen. The tribes are fighting for their homes, and western Iraq is the only part of the Iraq that is almost wholly Sunni Arab. Angry Kurds and Shia Arabs are driving Sunni Arabs out of other parts of Iraq, and the only alternative to foreign exile, is moving to western Iraq. The only way to hang on to western Iraq is to eliminate the al Qaeda and Baath Party groups that refuse to halt their terrorist operations. Al Qaeda knows it's losing its battle for western Iraq, which is one reason why they have shifted so many resources, especially cash and leadership, to Afghanistan. The al Qaeda defeat in western Iraq has not gotten much attention in the media, but it's there, it's real and it will soon be over.

The question is whether there will be any Sunnis left outside of Anbar after the Sunnis finally go down in defeat and reduce the Shia desire for random revenge attacks. Truly, the Sunnis are, in the end, their own worst enemies.

UPDATE: Sadly, the source for the lead report, "Capt. Jamil Hussein," does not in fact exist. Well, to be more exact, he is not a captain (or any other rank) in the Iraqi police. But he is a regular source for stories of atrocities that AP publishes.

But for our Sunni terrorist enemies inside Iraq whose hope for victory is pinned on inspiring enough fear in Iraqi Sunnis to get them to join the Sunni-based terrorists, it doesn't matter whether horrible attacks take place, just that the Sunnis believe they take place.

An Operational Reserve?

The Army National Guard is transforming from a strategic reserve where combat units were essentially unused and kept for full-scale war to one where the combat brigades consistently takes part in deployments and fighting.

Recall that in 1990-1991, none of the Army National Guard's most highly prepared brigades, the fifteen enhanced readiness brigades, were sent to fight in the Persian Gulf War. Forget about the Guard divisions which weren't even on the radar screen of our planners. They'd take a year or more to get ready for combat and were far more useful in domestic scenarios where uniformed manpower was needed. I wrote about the need to get our Guard divisions into the warfighting picture back in 1999 (from a synopsis, the article is not online):

The National Guard's combat divisions have few missions in America's military planning. This disregard for the possibility that the Army may need to fight an enemy willing to challenge American interests on a major scale is disturbing. The National Defense Panel, assuming in error that nobody can challenge America conventionally, proposes weakening today's military to free resources to exploit the Revolution in Military Affairs. We must equip and train the Army National Guard (ARNG) as our nation's sole mobilization asset in case the unthinkable happens and the United States finds itself confronted with a large-scale ground war.

In the article I wrote both about the need to fight a larger war or a smaller war that doesn't end quickly as Desert Storm did.

Today the Guard's combat units are routinely being used for frontline combat. This is necessary while the fighting in Iraq goes on. We are shrinking the number of Guard combat brigades while raising the standards of those remaining so that every year, after five years of increasingly intensive training and equipping, four or five Guard brigades will be available to support the active component combat brigades. Our active Army has been increased by about 10 brigades by moving troops into combat brigades and can in theory rotate 14 Army brigades through combat with two years off in between deployments.

Once our forces are no longer in combat in Iraq in large numbers, the Guard's units may simply go to the ready stage without actually being mobilized since the active component could handle a smaller rotation of combat brigades on its own.

Still, while Guard combat units are being mobilized for the war, recruiting for the Guard will be tougher when members must assume they will go to war or at least go on active duty deployment once in a six-year enlistment. I wrote in a letter to the editor in Army magazine published in July 2003, stating, in part:

For citizen-soldiers who have civilian careers (remember, they chose reserve duty and not active duty), failure to address the issue of repeated call-ups is to refuse to face a real problem, for even though these soldiers will continue to show up, when it comes time to sign on the dotted line for another term of service, frequent deployment will absolutely be a factor in their decision.

I signed up for the Army National Guard in 1987 because I felt that my place was with the Army if the Soviets decided that they were going to roll through the Fulda Gap. In that era, calling up the reserves was a big deal. Short of a major conventional war, I didn’t expect to be called up for anything other than a bad snow storm. I don’t think I would have joined if I thought that I would likely be called away from my chosen civilian life to serve in a peacekeeping mission or occupation duty every few years because the active component was too small to do the job.

Reservists should not be cheap day laborers called up for the dirty jobs and then sent home to rest up (at low pay) for the next peacekeeping rotation. They get the worst of both worlds: interruptions of their civilian career and the poorer compensation and military opportunities of the military reserves. If reservists are going to be sent off at the same pace as full time soldiers (who get full time pay and benefits), why will reservists continue to sign on the dotted line?

We will will need to change the compensation for our Guard (and Reserve) soldiers to match their increased duties if we expect people to be reservists under the new assumptions. Being paid for a weekend a month and two weeks in the summer just doesn't cut it when you can expect to be at war one year out of six (only half the rate planned for active duty units whose benefits and prestige are much greater than twice the Guard's). As the Army report notes:

Just how much the Nation will support an expeditionary ARNG remains unknown. While our military strategy demands it, the unique status of citizen-Soldiers will challenge it. Providing the Army a fully modernized, ready, part-time force capable of maintaining a steady deployment posture has its costs. Investment must center on readiness, infrastructure, and interoperability.

This is new territory for the Guard which relies on civilians with careers. While mobilization is a near certainty and combat highly likely, this will be a harder sell. I question whether it will even be possible to compensate civilians enough to be temp active soldiers. Once the Guard isn't needed for currently underway operations, it will be a much easier task. Requiring active component troops who leave the service to serve their reserve time in Guard combat units would help, too.

In my article, my ideal situation was to have an active Army capable of fighting a major theater war (a Desert Storm-sized scenario) without the Guard's combat units; and have a Guard capable of joining the active component for a larger or longer war that would require more troops at once for a larger opponent or over a longer duration for an opponent that can resist longer. But in either situation, I assumed an end to Guard mobilization after victory rather than an endless commitment to mobilizing the Guard to supplement the active Army.

I personally don't think that the Guard can provide an operational reserve for long. The Army has more combat brigades now within the existing end strength and so can support a larger rotation on its own (and get some Marine help for a couple regiments at a time), but it is still not large enough to support the current rotation at an acceptable pace without Guard combat brigades.

When going to war is just a theoretical outcome in the sixth year of a Guard brigade, the new operational reserve concept will work just fine. But if the current situation of constantly mobilizing Guard brigades to fight continues, the policy will fail. Then we will need to expand the size of the Army's end strength if the current policy of freeing up slots for combat units exhausts its potential to create more active combat brigades.

Much depends on when the Iraqis can fight without more than a dozen American combat brigades participating.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Forty Days

While many on the Left are joyous over our November election results, I don't know why they are celebrating.

Many suspected that the Bushtatorship would rig the elections with their Diebold machines. Or send troops into the streets with microwave or sound weapons to drive back the hordes of Progressives who voted to take back America. The details may have differed from Daily Kos to Democratic Underground, but plenty on the Left hunkered down in their organic market safe house network, awaiting whatever nefarious plot Cheney had in wait for them this last November.

Yet the Democrats won the election.

So what do we make of this? That the children who now hold the gavel of power were delusional nutcases who never ever lived under a proto-fascist dictatorship that snuffed out their rights as easily as Dick Cheney plugged hunting buddies to keep them in line for the Afghanistan pipeline project? That our freedoms are not under assault by Rove? That the Left may have been a tad hysterical in their warnings of rampant voter fraud and intimidation?

Don't be silly. Admitting all those things are wrong would indicate the Left has a lot of demented believers seriously deluded about the world they live in. The Reality-based community simply couldn't be so wrong about living under a fascist government that has oppressed them these last six years.

No, it should be obvious that serious evil is afoot.

Clearly, the evil Halliburton regime is preparing to drop the hammer on January 1st when the supposed winners are scheduled to be sworn into office! Cheney and Rove obviously plan to draw all the Lefties to Washington, D.C., where they can be rounded up in one operation!

The Bushtatorship is so all powerful and evil that it doesn't even need to even pretend to win an election! And this is being done all for the special joy of seeing the look of surprise on Speaker-Elect Pelosi's face when she is hauled off to jail (frog-marched, of course, as a special favor to Karl Rove for the indignities he suffered for nothing) and the Bush regime rounds up all the Progressives and Baldwin brothers who came back from France or wherever they were hiding to celebrate their presumed victory in Congress!

All in forty days, my naive Progressive friends. You thought the Bush administration was evil? You don't know the half of it! Stealing elections is for woosies and Chicago politicians. Taking Congress back from people who thought they had it for two months is real Rovian-level thuggery. Muhahahaha!

Suckers. Our Leftists probably don't even have a proper stockpile of puppetry to stage a decent protest as this point.

Classic Counter Insurgency: Ramadi

I mentioned our new strategy of isolating Ramadi and putting a network of forts inside it, and our progress in carrying out the plan. I worried that trapping the enemy might make for a big explosion as the trapped remnants try to get out, but we seem to be atomizing them. From fighting in groups up to 20-strong, now they are fighting largley in ones and twos.

This report says we are doing well inside Ramadi and making visible progress in snuffing out the enemy inside the city:

Ramadi is both a litmus test for the counterinsurgency effort in Iraq and a laboratory. If we can defeat the insurgent and terrorist forces here, there is no place we cannot defeat them. And from what I found, we are defeating them. It's painfully slow, and our men there are still dying in inordinate numbers from a broad variety of attacks. But a multitude of factors, including tribal cooperation, the continual introduction of more Iraqi army and police, the beginning of public works projects, the building of more Forward Operating Bases (FOBs), the installation of more small operational posts (OPs), and plunking down company-sized Combat Operation Posts (COPs) smack in the middle of hostile territory are destroying both the size and the mobility of the enemy. This time the rats are dying in place.

It helps that the press is not inside Ramadi. Quietly and patiently dismantling the enemy is working. Let's not jinx ourselves by attracting CNN to the place.

UPDATE: I was too hasty. The LA Times is screwing the pooch on one report on Ramadi. And while I don't want to spoil the ending, I don't think I reveal too much by saying that the LAT paints a bad picture of American forces blowing up buildings and killing women and children.

I'm not nearly enough of an optimist to assume this is the only report on the war that the LAT has gotten wrong.

Sometimes I think it would be better if our public got their news from Al Jazeera. At least that source would be obviously slanted. Unlike "our" media that pretends it is objective but which nearly always seems to report in a manner pleasing to our enemies. God help us, are the Pulitzer nominations coming up again soon?

What's Up?

The Chinese seem to have an interest in carriers despite their failure to do anything concrete. Despite rumors over the last several years that the Chinese might have a couple carrier battlegroups by 2008 or so, it sure doesn't seem like they are close.

But the Chinese are looking at Russian carrier aircraft:
Near the end of October, Russia's Kommersant newspaper revealed that Russian state-run weapon exporter Rosoboronexport is completing negotiations with China to deliver up to 48 Sukhoi SU-33 (NATO codename: Flanker-D) carrier-capable fighter aircraft in a purchase deal reportedly worth $2.5 billion.

Carrier aircraft should mean actual carriers. Bears watching.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

The Value of Free Advice

I hope to God that President Bush will not accept the recommendations of Baker's Iraq Study Group. Hitchens writes that Baker is the last person we should accept advice from on the subject of Iraq. He is already associated with abandoning Iraq's Shias once and Iraq's Shias have not forgotten 1991.

I wrote that the President should explicitly reject the Baker report:

And with any luck, the President will take the opportunity that the Baker Iraq Study Group is providing to reassure the Iraqi and American people that victory is our only goal. If this Baker's Dozin' of policy advocates who seem to have slept through the end of the Cold War and 9/11 actually propose working with the likes of Syria and Iran to stabilize Iraq or call for dividing Iraq, President Bush should reject this group's work outright and once again end the debate that we aren't trying to win.

I hope our president will use the military's own analysis to provide an alternative to the apparent Baker approach of nuanced surrender. We have the right approach to winning. We just need to make enough cosmetic changes to satisfy the urge for change by some without changing the fundamentally correct approach we are already on.

If President Bush isn't committed to victory, why the Hell is he our president? Send Baker packing.

Defeating a Brutal Enemy

I don't know why so many over here assume that Iraq can't defeat a small minority willing to use suicide bombers to fight for their objectives.

Sri Lanka has been fighting far better organized and led Tamils for a couple decades now. Tamils who use suicide bombers, have a navy and heavy artillery, and hold terrain on the island of Ceylon. And Sri Lanka's military is not that good.

Iraq can defeat insurgents and terrorists who can't mass in even platoon-sized elements (40-50 men) and who don't control any territory as a safe haven.

The key is not curling up into a fetal position and crying for your mommy.

The Iraqi government is in a stronger position versus its enemies than the Sri Lankan government is against its insurgent enemies. The key difference is that Sri Lanka doesn't have CNN and the BBC waging war against the government with constant reports on the government's inevitable defeat.

Only we can defeat us. I just wish this wasn't as silly as it should be. Too many Americans actually seem to like the fetal position.

The Real Choice

Our choice in the current struggle with jihadis isn't between war or peace or even victory or defeat, but between victory over the enemy or extermination.

Says Victor Hanson:

In short, while the Islamists get bolder and crazier, we become more timid and all too rational, quibbling over this terrorist's affinities and that militia's particular grievances--in hopes of cutting some magical deal with an imaginary moderate imam or nonexistent reasonable militia chief or Middle East dictator.

Notes David Warren:

Gloom and doom make good sense, under these circumstances. Despair never does. As the late Abba Eban, once Israel's foreign minister, used to say, "History teaches us that men and women behave wisely once they have exhausted all other alternatives." As he didn't add, this is invariably after the prospective catastrophe has vastly increased in scale.

We spend too much time trying to "understand" our enemies' many and multiplying grievances.

But our enemies won't save us. That's why they are "enemies." They won't even let us stop fighting. They'll keep killing us whether we try to kill them or not. Our basic choice is to fight and defeat our enemies and save Islam from its jihadis or--if our Understandniks prevent us from fighting and winning--destroy our jihadi enemie utterly and anybody who gets in the way. I don't think that Mark Steyn's predictions of quiet surrender based on demographic certainty will take place. At some point the West will rouse itself after it exhausts all means other than resolute self defense. But by then, winning a war as we fight now may not be an option. Then it will be a clash of civilizaitons.

General Abizaid stated the choice pretty clearly in a speech (tip to the Weekly Standard blog):

Army Gen. John Abizaid compared the rise of militant ideologies, such as the force driving al Qaeda, to the rise of fascism in Europe in the 1920s and 1930s that set the stage for World War Two.

"If we don't have guts enough to confront this ideology today, we'll go through World War Three tomorrow," Abizaid said in a speech titled "The Long War," at Harvard University's Kennedy School of Government in Cambridge, outside Boston.

Mecca will not survive such a clash.

Unless our "anti-war" people are in fact "pro-surrender," their opposition to winning the fight against Islamo-fascism pretty much guarantees that there will be a clash of civilizations.

So just who is looking out for the best interests of Moslems?

Determined to Win

A prominent Lebanese Christian was assassinated in Lebanon:

Pierre Gemayel, scion of Lebanon's most prominent Christian family and a leading opponent of Syria, was gunned down Tuesday in a brazen daytime hit. The assassination threatened to intensify Lebanon's power struggle between the U.S.-allied government and the Syrian-backed Hezbollah.

We suspect Syrian and Iranian involvement.

Clearly, the Syrians are determined to emerge victorious in Lebanon. Despite the UN's attention and their military's withdrawal back in 2005, Syria continues to fight to control Lebanon.

As I wrote in the summer of 2005 when we were all taken with the Lebanese "protest babes":

Syria get political leverage in its conflict with Israel and lots of cash from skimming from the Lebanon economy and from Syrians working in Lebanon. I find it hard to believe that the hard gentlemen from Damascus will let that go because we and the French looked cross at them.

We shall see how badly the Lebanese want to defend their freedom when their revolt moves beyond the "protest babe" phase.

Syria may be a despicable thug state, but they understand that when you face a setback, you don't curl up in a fetal position and beg your enemies to be nice to you. You absorb the blow, assess your resources, and work the problem.

You fight to win until you lose. Or you should, anyway.

I just wish we Americans could be as determined to win as the Syrian thug regime is determined to win.


Our next carrier will be the giant CVN-21. Aircraft carriers are wonderful weapons for fighting small nations without significant air or naval power. Afghanistan and Iraq are good examples of how this has worked well for us. North Korea would be another. Any little brush fire around the world would, too. The problem comes with fighting a country with significant air and naval power.

In addition, will UCAVs displacing manned aircraft mean we need large or even medium carriers to haul these smaller aircraft around? Will more smaller carriers work? Will we be able to scatter UCAVs on amphibious warfare carriers and even surface ships the way anti-ship missiles are now throughout the fleet? If we truly can fight networked, we will be able to mass effect from widely scattered assets unlike today's carriers which are the pinnacle of needing a single platform to mass effect.

Right now, our carriers with manned aircraft are still a tremendous asset. But as the years go by, cheap precision missiles will erode their value. Several decades in the future, carriers may be too big and expensive to risk entering an enemy's array of sensors that can detect and guide missiles to overwhelm a carrier's defensive systems. Since carriers last five decades or more, the carriers we have now could last through the period of their fighting value and phase out as their vulnerability becomes too great. Should we build large carriers anymore?

So as we contemplate our next generation of behemoth aircraft carriers, CVN-21, let us also recall the capabilities of 21st century submarines:

The U.S. Navy is being tight lipped about reports that, on October 26th, a Chinese Song class submarine got within missile range (8 kilometers) of the U.S. carrier Kitty Hawk. The Chinese sub was spotted when it surfaced. The American carrier is supposed to be protected from this sort of thing by anti-submarine helicopters, and an SSN (nuclear attack submarine.) The Song class boats are the most modern diesel-electric subs in Chinese service. Displacing about 2,000 tons on the surface, the 246 foot long, Songs carry anti-ship missiles and torpedoes. The first Song entered service nine years ago. The boats can be very quiet when moving underwater, even though the Chinese have not yet mastered the most recent
silencing techniques. Similar Australian subs have frequently gotten within attack range of American carriers. So have diesel-electric boats from other nations.

Or even late 20th century submarines. I know that we've comforted ourselves that the Russians are out of the carrier-hunting business and that while Australian-crewed Western-designed subs may be able to get close, surely we have nothing to worry about from poorly trained Chinese crews on inferior Soviet-era or Chinese-designed submarines.

It would be good to ask ourselves why we plan to have large expensive platform-centric aircraft carriers in a networked naval world.

I know our carriers are invaluable for fights against foes without any naval and air power, but why build expensive ships that are vulnerable to actual enemies? I mean, can't we beat the feeble enemies anyway?

Monday, November 20, 2006

Saddam a Failure by Kissinger's Standards

Kissinger didn't quite say we are doomed in Iraq despite the headlines the last couple days. He did essentially say what I've long said, that there is no military solution to an insurgency (short of genocide, of course). Military action is a shield behind which political, social, and economic progress undermines an insurgency.

But Kissinger's comment is interesting:

"If you mean by 'military victory' an Iraqi government that can be established and whose writ runs across the whole country, that gets the civil war under control and sectarian violence under control in a time period that the political processes of the democracies will support, I don't believe that is possible."

By this standard, Saddam did not run his own country. The Kurds were beyond his control protected by our air power. By civil war standards bandied about nowadays, having a part of the population carve out their own homeland counts as a civil war situation. Even Anbar province was a place where Saddam reigned but did not rule. The tribes were pretty autonomous out there even under Saddam.

Given the way that everybody lied to stay alive in Iraq, can we say Saddam's writ ran across the entire country? His death squads, yes. But his writ? Nope.

As for sectarian violence being under control. I don't think so. Saddam killed and tortured Shias regularly and slaughtered in large numbers as needed. While the sectarian violence was all in one direction (Sunnis killing Shias), is this honestly what you mean when you say sectarian violence is "controlled?"

Although in the plus column for Saddam under Kissinger's standards, the Western democracies had plenty of patience with Saddam while he killed and plundered the Shia majority into stunned submission and gassed the Kurds. Sadly, there is no patience left for a democratically elected government fighting off savage killers. The Western democracies are funny that way.

Still, Kissinger assumes that we have to remain long enough for the Iraqi government to subdue the insurgents and terrorists. We do not. We need only make the government strong enough to win. With the alternative to winning being their deaths, the Iraqi goverenment will win that fight no matter how long it takes. He also glides by the fact that a lot of the world's democracies were against the fight to remove Saddam from day one, so why does their opinion in year 4 or 5 or 10 matter?

Really, though, Kissinger 's assessment is very damning of Saddam's capacity to rule.

Argghhh, Indeed

Argghh!!! posts the thoughts of an American captain in Iraq that we need to unleash focused violence on the Iraqis to persuade them that they are wrong to either support the terrorists or even look the other way while the terrorists fight us. Massive firepower on identified enemies. Blowing up houses near IEDs. You get the idea.

No. No. No! No!!

This is an admirable outlook for an infantry captain who must close with and destroy a conventional enemy. But it is wrong for the fight we are in. In essence, the captain is arguing (though he does not intend to argue this, I'm sure) that if we can't win the cooperation of neutral Iraqis who fear to support us openly, we must terrorize them into siding with us.

Even if this wasn't morally wrong, it fights on the enemy's strength. Does anybody really think we can terrorize Iraqi civilians more effectively or for over a longer period than the enemy? Do you? Could we really kill and torture on an industrial scale for months or years on end while the enemy goes on doing the same thing? With plenty of money and weapons to wage a terror campaign? With Moslem, European, and American reporters beaming every atrocity (of ours, anyway) into our homes and the homes of everyone else on the planet?

And no, putting panties on the heads of all Iraqi males does not count as torture despite what some loonies think.

We could be mean enough to anger Iraqis, but we couldn't terrorize the civilians of Iraq. So while the enemy decapitates and drills into bones, we would blow up houses. Perhaps cut off water and electricy. Who is more terrorized into submission in this process? Iraqis would be mad at us but be terrorized by real terrorists under this scenario. The result would be that those who are neutral would be angry enough at us and terrorized enough by the enemy to support the enemy.

I know that the traditional method of crushing insurgencies is to kill tens of thousands of adult males over a few weeks and anybody else who comes along in the process (as Saddam did in 1991), but we don't do that. And ask Russia if their brutal methods work. They've slaughtered Chechens and after several years, they've managed to grind the Chechens into sullen passivity. In another generation the Chechens will recover and come back fighting again.

We are trying to bolster our allies, kill or arrest active enemies, move passive supporters of the enemy into neutrality, and move neutrals into the friends column. And we need to keep moving people in that direction until most support the government , few support the enemy, and there are few active enemy left because we've killed or arrested them and they can't recruit enough replacements. Ruthlessness is appropriate but only against the narrow category of actively fighting enemies--not the passive or non-violent supporters or scared neutrals.

Our method of slowly trying to secure the people and eliminate the active fighters and their direct supporters may seem too slow, but inflicting terror and death is no shortcut to victory. It is actually just a bloodier and faster path to defeat. It abandons the primary counter-insurgency strategy of taking political action behind a military shield over years in favor of an illusory military solution to what is not primarily a military problem.

So while "cutting and running" is no solution, neither is "kill them all and let Allah sort them out" a strategy for success in today's world.

Counter-insurgency is time-consuming. There is no shortcut. But in Iraq this slow path holds the promise of creating an actual nation based on rule of law out of the carnage of war that will be an ally and an inspiration to others trapped in despotism. Punishing the scared is a path that will at best kill many and create a mere pause from exhaustion that does nothing to end the hatred and leaves everyone rearming for the next round.

Have patience. Winning at the strategic level takes time.

Political Surge

Our military is studying what to do in Iraq separately from the Baker commission. Our troop level is part of the long debate on how many troops we need to win in Iraq.

I've long said that discussing 20,000 more troops for Iraq is pointless given that winningt is mostly a political problem with a military component and not a military problem. Further, 20,000 more US troops doing what our current 140,000 troops are doing won't much matter in affecting the situation inIraq, but will just strain our Army more. Though the method of overlapping units coming and going for a longer period makes this a one-time strain rather than a new strain. We'd drop down within 4-6 months to the baseline after a gradual increase in the first half of that time frame.

The military's basic solution is to stay in Iraq long enough to train the Iraqi security forces. This is Counter-Insurgency 101. But the public and domestic opposition want change, so:

The purpose of the temporary but notable increase, they said, would be twofold: To do as much as possible to curtail sectarian violence, and also to signal to the Iraqi government and public that the shift to a "Go Long" option that aims to eventually cut the U.S. presence is not a disguised form of withdrawal.

The article says 20,000 to 30,000 more US troops. Note that the talk of ending violence is not the prime reason for the increase given by our military. Oh, as long as they are in Iraq they will do as much as possible. No point in them twiddling their thumbs. Use 'em while they are there.

But the main point for increasing troop strength is as a political signal to Iraqis that we are not abandoning them but helping them in a different manner.

However, as much as the symbol is directed at influencing Iraqis to hang tough, I worry that the hype of sending more US troops will lead to a more rapid public loss of support here in America when the additional troops inevitably fail to win in short order. Iraq is not a military problem (not since we toppled Saddam's regime, anyway) so more military force doesn't help us win faster.

I'd rather find another way to sate the desire for change and to reassure the Iraqi government and public of our commitment. As is true for so much that goes on in Iraq, the impact of increasing US troop strength is likely to be felt far more here at home. And not in a good way.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

So This Is the Change?

After our election, we were told we'd have bold new directions in our defense policies.

I see some are envisioning a completely stupid bold new direction in one of our defense policies.

Why yes, the children will be in charge.

UPDATE: Consider that our 500,000 Army recruits 80,000 per year. And the Army met its goal last year. So we don't need a draft to maintain our Army. Also assume we don't draft for the other services. The Air Force is shrinking by choice and under only narrow stress (like in airlift). The Marines aren't going to get bulked up by their nature. And the Navy is unstressed by the mainly ground war. So only the Army gets draftees.

Assume we want to end the practice of relying on the Army Guard and Army Reserve. So let's say we boldly double our active Army. This doubles our need for new Army recruits to 160,000 per year. But rather than try to recruit more, we go to a draft. But retention will suffer with so many draftees, so let's say we would need 200,000 new recruits per year to sustain the million-man army. If we assume 80,000 volunteers as we get now, we would need to draft 120,000 Army recruits per year.

About 4 million Americans turn 18 each year by my rough calculations. So we would be starting up the expensive machinery of a nationwide draft to get 120,000 out of a potential annual class of 4 million. So instead of having a mechanism to share the burden of serving among all our population, we'd have to have a system of excluding the 97% of new adults who we don't need.

I don't care how you do it, even if purely random, a selective draft is no way to spread the burden around. We'd do better to raise recruiting bonuses and ban recruiteer restrictions in our high schools and colleges.

And this ignores the lowering of quality that we get now with volunteers by replacing a large portion of our military with possibly sullen and by definition unwilling recruits.

I mentioned this idea is stupid, right?

ANOTHER UPDATE: I apologize for hastily using the term "stupid" for the idea of a military draft. A draft is truly a bad idea worthy of mockery, but I should never underestimate the ability of the Loony Left to truly come up with an idea worthy of the judgment "stupid."

Behold the Global Orgasm for Peace it in all its wrinkly glory:

The Global Orgasm for Peace was conceived by Donna Sheehan, 76, and Paul Reffell, 55, whose immodest goal is for everyone in the world to have an orgasm Dec. 22 while focusing on world peace.

"The orgasm gives out an incredible feeling of peace during it and after it," Reffell said Sunday. "Your mind is like a blank. It's like a meditative state. And mass meditations have been shown to make a change."

Sometimes the denizens of the Left are just self-mocking.

The two are California activists, as if I need to specify that.

Good God, I hope none of this makes it to YouTube.

ANOTHER UPDATE: No idiocy is complete until Paul Campos weighs in. Tip to Real Clear Politics.

Brutal Afghan Winter

During the Afghan campaign beginning in October 2001, we discovered that our well-equipped troops were far better prepared to fight in the cold than the enemy despite their home court advantage.

Since then, the enemy has surged back into Afghanistan in summer offensives after holing up in warm havens over the winter. This last summer was possibly the worst due to lots of new money for recruiting jihadi wannabees in Pakistan. They were bloodied up a lot in their offensive, losing a large fraction of their numbers while killing few on our side.

Normally, the jihadis would be resting this winter and debating whether to sign up for another round next summer. Instead of letting them recover their morale over the winter, we plan to go after the enemy this winter:

U.S. Army Brig. Gen. Douglas Pritt, who oversees the U.S.-led effort to train the Afghan military, said Afghan forces have tripled the number of forward bases to more than 60 and plan to spend the winter harassing Taliban and gathering intelligence from combat outposts deep inside rebel strongholds.

"They're much better equipped for winter operations than the Taliban. I'm hoping for a lot of snow this winter," Pritt said during a visit to The Associated Press bureau in Dubai.

Now we've equipped our Afghan allies to operate better in the winter. So we will hit our enemies this winter to deny the enemy a chance to recover and come back at us.

Unfortunately, I assume this will only be inside Afghanistan so many of the enemy will still be able to rest on the Pakistan side of the border. Unless the Pakistanis will join us over the winter in policing their side of the border.

Either way, we should not face nearly as large an enemy offensive in the spring of 2007 as we did this last year.


Iraq has essentially been invaded by Syria and Iran while we support the democratically elected government of Iraq. Yet somehow, according to war critics, our presence is the one that causes the violence. That is, as the expression goes, backassward. So when the Syrian government has been guilty of fueling the violence against the elected Iraqi government, the following statement is just amazing:

Syria's foreign minister called Sunday for a timetable for the withdrawal of American forces to help end Iraq's sectarian bloodbath, in a groundbreaking diplomatic mission to Iraq that comes amid increasing calls for the U.S. to seek cooperation from Syria and Iran.

"Groundbreaking?" The Syrians are guilty of supporting the bloodiest terrorists inside Iraq and the Syrian foreign minister calls on America to set a timetable to withdraw our troops?

Are we incapable of fighting our enemies anymore?

Too many in this country are caught up in the strange notion that we should negotiate with our enemies. If we don't negotiate with enemies, who else do we negotiate with, they say. The Syrians are funneling jihadis and supplies into Iraq to kill our troops and slaughter Iraqis. What are we supposed to offer Syria for ending their murder campaign in Iraq? Iraq's freedom? Lebanon? Just plain cash?

The Syrian government is waging war on us. We must return the favor.

We should be demanding a timetable for Syria to halt support for the terrorists. Like next week. And there should be real consequences to failing to comply. It is a sad day when a two-bit dictatorship that supports suicide bombings has the upper hand over we who support true peace, liberty, and democracy. And it is our own damn fault for letting things go this way.

If we can't wage war against enemies, who can we wage war against?

UPDATE: The Chutzpah continues:

Iran has invited the Iraqi and Syrian presidents to Tehran for a weekend summit with Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to hash out ways to cooperate in curbing the runaway
violence that has taken Iraq to the verge of civil war and threatens to spread through the region, four key lawmakers told The Associated Press on Monday.

Too many in our country (and I give up on Europeans for the moment) actually see Iraq under these assumptions. There is this mysterious "runaway violence" tha most assuredly is somehow America's fault. And if only we could talk to Iran and Syria, we'd "solve" the problem.

How is it that the two countries most at fault for causing the violence in Iraq to escalate are portrayed as good-hearted observers who only want what is best for Iraq's peace and liberty?

It's like the 1930s KKK inviting the Sheriff's Association and the NAACP to discuss ways of curbing runaway lynchings.

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Two Perplexing Things

Victor Davis Hanson hits on two things that have puzzled me. The first:

Back home, the Left/Right split on Israel has also been turned upside down. If you wish to read sick hatred about the Jewish state go to the leftist blogs or the campuses, not the Montana badlands. Somehow the Palestinians have reinvented themselves as liberal victims of Western, white male imperialists. Thus, in the manner of Blacks, Chicanos, Gays, and Women they are deserving of the usually accorded sympathy for their oppressed status—never mind the Islamists’ gender apartheid, religious intolerance, homophobia, and fundamentalism that should be so repugnant to the liberal mind.

Whenever I feel bad about how our Left goes berserk over a pair of panties on a prisoner's head while "understanding" the Islamist rage that leads to beheadings and suicide bombings in Iraq, I recall that Israel has it far worse. At least we are too powerful to lead too many people to wonder if it wouldn't be better in the long run to just let our enemies destroy us so we can have a peaceful life. That's what Israel faces.

Is Israel perfect? Certainly not. Is Israel far better than any of its enemies? Certainly. Does that matter to the Globalized Left? Certainly not.

I seriously think that the isolation of Israel could lead Israel to conclude that there is no level of surrender or retreat that could appease the Globalized Left and lead them to hate Israel any less. If Israel concludes that it can never get a sympathetic story out of Le Monde, The New York Times, or the BBC, Israel might decide that they might as well defend themselves with every means available. So don't be surprised if Israel nukes Iran one day. If Israel is going to be condemned for whatever they do, why wouldn't they conclude they might as well get it over with?

But really, how can so-called Progressives hate Israel while lionizing their death-cult enemies?

The second point that Hanson makes is about a charge of the anti-Iraq War people that honestly just makes no sense to me:

Democrats alleged that “We took our eye off Afghanistan by going into Iraq”. My Lord!—this is a country that fought Italy, Japan, and Germany all at once, and was in an inferno on Okinawa while racing eastward past the Rhine, while bombing Berlin, while slogging up through Italy, while igniting the Japanese mainland. Our ancestors apparently had quite a lot more eyeballs than did their lesser sons and daughters.

The idea that we are distracted from Afghanistan by fighting in Iraq is so rock-poundingly stupid that I have trouble even looking anyone who makes the charge in the eye. Unless those making the charge assume we'd send 140,000 troops into Pakistan to ferret out Osama if it wasn't for Iraq.

But we live in a free country and there is no requirement to actually have a clue before expressing an opinion and earnestly believing it is right. See the United States Senate in action if you doubt me.

To be clear, we can do more than one thing at a time. We can fight in Iraq while fighting in Afghanistan. And if North Korea invades South Korea, we will right there with our allies to smash up Pyongyang's military.

Would I be rude to say that the people making the "distraction" charge couldn't walk and chew gum at the same time?

Too many things about the anti-war side puzzle me. Lord, I lack nuance. Clearly.