Sunday, April 30, 2006

Jefferson on War

The Left likes to cite the Samuel Johnson quote "patriotism is the last refuge of a scoundrel" to delegitimize the call of patriotism to support the troops in the field so they may achieve victory. The Left neglects that the full context of the quote clearly applies to "false patriotism" as the last refuge of a scoundrel. Simply displaying traditional patriotism is not evidence of lack of patriotism. True patriots can truly be supportive of the war.

On the other hand, wanting to claim the mantle of patriotism when they don't support victory in our war in Iraq (and some think this about Afghanistan, and some about the general Long War.), they have begun to cite a Thomas Jefferson quote that "dissent is the greatest form of Patriotism."

I don't understand why the Left belittles patriotism on the one hand while trying to claim the title for themselves alone, but I'm a knuckle-dragger so what do I know of nuance?

But Mark Steyn notes that there is no Jefferson quote that states what so many on the Left claim:

According to the Jefferson Library: "There are a number of quotes that we do not find in Thomas Jefferson's correspondence or other writings; in such cases, Jefferson should not be cited as the source. Among the most common of these spurious Jefferson quotes are: 'Dissent is the highest form of patriotism.' "

Apparently, some ACLU official penned this bit of trite pseudo-wisdom even before 9/11. It does have the benefit of fitting on bumper stickers, right next to the "Impeach Bush" and "I Brake for Tofu" stickers.

But the value the Left places on Jefferson is to be commended, I guess--he who waged an undeclared war on Moslem piracy based out of North Africa. So what did Jefferson have to say about unavoidable war?

"Peace and friendship with all mankind is our wisest policy, and I wish we may be permitted to pursue it. But the temper and folly of our enemies may not leave this in our choice." --Thomas Jefferson to C. W. F. Dumas, 1786. ME 5:310

"I am ever unwilling that [peace] should be disturbed as long as the rights and interests of the nations can be preserved. But whensoever hostile aggressions on these require a resort to war, we must meet our duty and convince the world that we are just friends and brave enemies." --Thomas Jefferson to Andrew Jackson, 1806. ME 19:156

"It should be our endeavor to cultivate the peace and friendship of every nation, even of that which has injured us most, when we shall have carried our point against her." --Thomas Jefferson: Notes on Virginia Q.XXII, 1782. ME 2:240

"'Reparation for the past, and security for the future,' is our motto." --Thomas Jefferson to Lafayette, 1807. ME 11:279

"It is our duty still to endeavor to avoid war; but if it shall actually take place, no matter by whom brought on, we must defend ourselves. If our house be on fire, without inquiring whether it was fired from within or without, we must try to extinguish it." --Thomas Jefferson to James Lewis, Jr., 1798. ME 10:37

"To draw around the whole nation the strength of the General Government as a barrier against foreign foes... is [one of the] functions of the General Government on which [our citizens] have a right to call." --Thomas Jefferson: Reply to Vermont Address, 1801.
Words to live by whether one is talking of pirates, Baathists, or mad Iranian mullahs.

I leave it to you readers to weigh whether it is more patriotic to support troops and victory in war or to undermine our troops (oops, I mean "support" them) and support retreat (oh, excuse me, "redeployment") and defeat (again, very sorry, that should read "real security.").

Scoundrels are indeed to be found in this debate somewhere.

Iraqi Perspectives Post

The Iraqi Perspectives Project report is fascinating. I highly recommend it. I'm about two-thirds of the way through. I think I will leave this post as a place to add random and not comprehensive commentary on the report. I'll update this and post links to this post as time goes on. This may take weeks or months--or, if I get the flu and sit in front of the computer all day home from work--some five-hour period. [Oh, here's a post based on the report that I forgot about.]

Let me offer one comment here to start. On page 4 we have the comments of Saddam himself reported on his plans for dealing with his Arab brothers in Kuwait after the conquest in August 1990:

Saddam: We will divide the [Iraqi] tribes into groups. Each group will be assigned to liberate a certain area of Kuwait and allowed to take any spoils they find there.

Minister: What kind of spoils?

Saddam: Spoils like buildings and stores. Also the chief of the tribe will take full control of the areas his tribe has liberated-though the chief and tribe must obey my orders without arguing. I ask the security services to kill any rebellious individuals they find, their children as well.

Minister: Your Excellency, what if we find that some of the rebellious ones have little brothers and sisters that may one day avenge them?

Saddam: Kill them all.

Well that's lovely. Yes, we could do business with this man, as Kofi Annan so famously asserted, eh?

The idea that we should have put sanctions on Iraq over Kuwait rather than invade and expel him would have condemned many brothers and sisters to death. Violence as a last resort only makes sense with opponents who are rational as you are. When dealing with thugs like Saddam, saving violence for the "last resort" just gives the thug time to kill them all.

It is also an intersting insight into how Saddam used the tribes of Iraq to subcontract his dirty work. We have been fighting that system for three years now, in Iraq.

UPDATE (03 MAY 06): What with all the talk about how we can just deter thug states (ignoring the morality of leaving them to "just" kill their own people. Hey, I have no problem with that if it is in our national interests, but I thought liberals were supposed to be the caring ones), beginning on Page 12 and going to the next page, we have an interesting observation on the result of Saddam's announcement in October 1994 that he was going to invade Kuwait again. Some of Saddam's minions said great. Others said it was folly. Saddam would go:

Saddam told them that their thinking was faulty since they saw war in terms of numbers of losses, whereas he saw it as a "spiritiual battle." ... In the event, war was averted when the Iraqi build-up was detected and tens of thousands of American soldiers poured into Kuwait.

Interesting, eh? Our overwhelming power did not deter Saddam. Our forces over the horizon on the periphery did not deter Saddam. He thought that if he could just seize his objective, he could still defeat us. It was only when we put forces on the ground in his way that he backed off.

Remember that nutcase dictators are not rational actors as we would calculate. Saddam thought we could be defeated. And if we hadn't reacted quickly and forcefully, we would have had another war only three and a half years after stomping Saddam in 1991.

UPDATE (18 MAY 06): As we debate how to word our demands in the UN to issue to Iran over their nuclear ambitions, it would be useful to see how another thug, Saddam Hussein, reacted to words. From page 14 of the Iraqi Perspectives report, we read of Saddam's reaction to the 1994 issuance of UNSC Resolution 949, which condemned Iraq's massing of troops for another go at Kuwait:

It is really something, four nations, among them two of the greatest nations of the world: Russia and America. I mean, they have nuclear bombs, missiles and so on ... and England and France. They came to me and handed me a memo. They gave me a warning and timing. In case we would not abide by it, we would endanger our existence.

As the report analyzes Saddam's reaction:

Saddam found the world's response contemptible. He was prepared to launch a war and all the world could do was send him a "memo."

Remember, not everyone in the world is terrified of a Bolton finger wagging. Some even look with scorn on such diplomatic niceties when their own preferred method of dealing with problems involves, eventually, killing the problems until the problems stop complaining. Kind of like a "the beatings will continue until morale improves" management philosophy gone horribly bad.

UPDATE (03 JUNE 06): On page 42, the extent of the deception in Iraq is astounding. I was highly skeptical that scientists would lie to Saddam given the price in blood that people faced for even being suspected of disobedience--for themselves and for their families. The report shows that everyone lied at every level in order to prevent bad information from reaching Saddam.

The lying was so widespread that telling the truth was actually far more dangerous because scores of others would claim you were lying to preserve their own lies! (That's my conclusion, BTW, not from the report) Truly, "people lied and so people died." But with all sources within Iraq lying, if we had better human intelligence within Iraq prior to the war, they would have simplly reinforced what our CIA and every other major intel player in the world believed--Saddam had WMD and active WMD programs. Given the raw materials that the UN concluded was missing, more intel and more inspections would not have found the stocks or programs, but they sure would have uncovered a lot more information that the weapons and programs were well hidden.

Another lesson that we should learn is that when you give an enemy time to prepare, the danger is that they might just use it. Our long-telegraphed "rush to war" prior to our March 2003 invasion gave Saddam's regime time.

And as we faced an insurgency based on Baathist-controlled forces that bought time for local Sunnis and imported jihadis to fight a religious-based fight against Majority-Shia rule, we should contemplate what happened inside Iraq in the months before the invasion. Saddam's training camps for terrorist cycled a lot of foreigners through them. Shut down in the summer of 2002 (perhaps in fear of what we had just accomplished in Afghanistan?), they were not abandoned (see paged 54):

But these training camps were humming with frenzied activity in the months immediately prior to the war. As late as January 2003, the volunteers participated in a special training event called the "Heroes Attack." This training event was designed in part to prepare Fedayeen Saddam commands to "obstruct the enemy from achieving his goal and to support keeping peace and stability in the province."

Saddam took advantage of the time we gave him. I thought we should have struck Iraq in the fall of 2002 after the heat of summer was done and after we had time to rebuild stocks of precision weapons used in Afghanistan. Instead, we spent the fall and winter trying to get yet another UNSC resolution.

And the resistance that these Baathist-led and-trained terrorists bought time for foreign jihadis to come in and for local non-Baathist hyped-up Sunnis to join in the fight.

And though these terrorists paved the way for the insurgency and terrorism campaigns we face now, the nature of the fight the Baathists expected is instructive in the above section. They were to obstruct us from achieving our goal and support keeping the peace and stability in the province. It seems that they were intended to harass our troops and once they won, keep the Shias in line. Read the following from the same page of the report:

Less than 30 days prior to the start of the war, the Directorate of General Military Intelligence's Special Mission Unit took charge of the training of a group of Fedayeen Saddam volunteers. They were to form "small kamikaze combat groups, equipped with weapons, and munitions suitable for use behind enemy lines and on the flanks, by causing additional damage in the enemy's armor and helicopters."

Clearly, this plan was not about accepting conquest in come clever move to suck us in to an insurgency as some anti-war people have claimed. Talk of "enemy lines" and "flanks" assumes a conventional war with a front that Saddam's people hold and behind which the Saddam government ruled what our forces did not conquer.

And they expected to win this fight, watch us march out of Iraq with the Russians and French (an maybe Chinese) holding the door for us in the UN where they'd apply pressure to condemn our attmpted liberation. And then the thugs would keep the peace and stability in the south--unlike the chaos that erupted in 1991 the last time we marched out of Iraq.

Which is another lesson in itself: when you strike a king, kill him. Have we learned these lessons of granting an enemy time and seeking only limited victories against enemies who hate us and will not give up as long as they live and rule?

UPDATE (9 JUL 06): On page 57 of the report, I was astounded to read:

Coalition planners considered the Special Republican Guard the elite of the elite; and by logical extension, their commander would surely be the best Saddam could find. This piece of conventional wisdom was wrong.

Well, yeah. This amazes me. I never ever assumed the SRG were elite fighting formations. Indeed going back to 1990 and 1991, it had annoyed me that the Republican Guards were described as elite. They were competent combat units. Nothing more. They evolved from a brigade that was a palace guard at the time Iraq invaded Iran, to the fire brigade of the front line regular units, and then was expanded into two corps in time to provide a mobile striking force since the line infantry units were good for trench warfare only essentially. Using the term elite implied skills and expertise that just weren't there.

As the Republican Guards became the real army within the army, Saddam formed the Special Republican Guard to become what the Republican Guard had been--the palace guards. At the time of the invasion, I had no idea whether the SRG would fight or fold. All I knew was that they were pampered and loyal. But being willing to kill civilians for Saddam did not mean they were ready to fight tough soldiers and Marines bearing down on Baghdad. When a friend asked how the Iraqis would react, I said 90% of the regular army would not fight; half the Republican Guards would fight us; and I had no idea what the SRG would do--they could wet their pants when they heard the first tank approach or die in the bunkers.

In the end, of course, the SRG wet their pants and ran rather than fight our troops.

So when people refer to some foreign force as "elite" don't assume this means good troops. Especially in Third World states, assume they are the pampered body guards of the local president for life. They are perfectly capable of terrorizing the local civilians. And they definitely have the best looking uniforms. But they are not likely to be good troops.

I was definitely shocked that Coalition planners made this basic mistake.

Saturday, April 29, 2006

Tehran Spring?

OK, bear with me. I'm speculating--a lot. But are we getting ready to hit Iran?

Start with the fact that the President has recently affirmed the principle of preemptive action and that Iran under the mullahs is a threat to us that we must stop one way or the other.

There are apparent signs of preparing for a fight in the CENTCOM region with the Trenton expeditionary strike group deployed and the French De Gaulle scheduled to be in the region in May. In light of bellicose French statements about using nukes and their position with us on the nuclear issue, this seems significant.

Plus, until April our forces were holding back on combat missions. I thought it was to let Iraqis take over security forces and possibly to pressure the Iraqi political parties to compromise, but could we have also wanted to pull our units together so they can prepare for conventional operations in support of a regime change effort led by Iranians? And/or in conjunction with a campaign to disarm Iran of nuclear technology?

Add the fact that it would be helpful to have an Iraqi elected government in place prior to action against Iran to minimize the impact of an Iranian charge that Iraqis are puppets of America.

Add that Iran doesn't hide that even UN Security Council resolutions won't stop them and that I think our allies will go with us after we let them try a few years of soft power negotiations.

Also, we've started to move against militias (though it was just a shot and not a thorough effort) after I earlier speculated that a real clean up of Sadr's boys would precede an attack on Iran.

Consider also that aside from the Marines in Anbar who will not be pulled away from this area, the Army has the very high tech 4th ID (Mechanized) Division with all four brigades in Iraq and 101st AB (Airmobile) also has all four of its line brigades in Iraq. These are the types of units I'd want to hit Iran from the west if conventional forces are part of the attack mix. Could 3 or 4 brigades now in Iraq be freed up by Iraqi units for use in Iran? And remember we have a heavy brigade in Kuwait. And Marines at sea and units in Afghanistan.

Domestic political considerations also intrude. Many say there is no way we'd attack in an election year but why is this considered a hard rule? A May assault leaves plenty of time for things to settle down before the elections in the fall. And given that conventional wisdom says the Democrats could retake the House, would the President really be able to strike after the fall if the Republicans lose the House? When the Left is having cyber-wet dreams about finally running committees to investigate every policy disagreement they have and elevate them to crimes? Talk of attacks in a year or two years ignores that the Left may not allow the party they are in do anything but obstruct efforts to deal with Iran if they have some power.

Assuming action is distant also ignore the maxim of appearing far when near. I'd want the mullahs to think they have time and not telegraph our punch as we did for Iraq. Plus talk of years assumes we have confidence that Iran is years away from nuclear weapons. Have we learned nothing from our intelligence failures over the last fifty years? And even if we have years, will waiting years make the military option too difficult to carry out?

Of course, I know I'm proposing connections between dots that may be unconnected. This is of course the problem with looking back and picking out facts that only with the knowledge of what actually happened can they be said to "predict" the action if only we had been paying attention. No conspiracies, just life.

But if we strike in May, I won't be surprised.

UPDATE: Still, I keep in mind that the press may not be missing all these dots in its reporting. This article says that based on the IAEA report just issued that we are pushing the diplomatic route:

The eight-page report provided official evidence that the United States, Britain and France have sought to launch a push for possible sanctions against Iran. But Russia and China, also permanent members of the Security Council, have repeatedly expressed skepticism with that approach.

President Bush said after the report's release that "the world is united and concerned" about Iran's "desire to have not only a nuclear weapon but the capacity to make a nuclear weapon or the knowledge to make a nuclear weapon." He said he hoped for a diplomatic solution.

As this diplomatic route is actually being reported, I can't rule it out. I can't rule out that we are dragging our allies along hoping for the best at each step and hoping we won't have to consider harsher methods. It is possible that we will take these steps all the way to war, over a couple years, without any deep plan and just muddling through. I just don't know.

ANOTHER UPDATE: And consider that NATO is freeing up US forces in Afghanistan and that our troops won't leave at once. They could be available for an eastern front. Though as I write here, late spring may make more sense (especially since we are deep in May as I write this).

Friday, April 28, 2006

In My Name

One of the things that continually amazes me about the anti-war side is the continuing determination to spin what to me seems to be apparent victory into defeat, disaster, and the dreaded "incompetence."

Victor Hanson lays out the particulars and concludes:

For all the scrambling to disown the present policies, the irony is that they are bearing fruit and always had the best chance to end the region's genesis of terror. How sad that those who supported the costly spread of freedom are written off as illiberal, and those who resigned themselves to the easy status quo were seen as wise and sober.

So there we have it: an orphaned policy with a bright future that is being claimed by fewer and fewer — we'll see if that changes when Iraq emerges as a stable democracy.

Truly, opponents of the war seem determined to find any surviving enemy and surrender to him before we hunt them all down and kill them first.

Jihadi Secret Weapon

Like everything they use to fight us save their religious fervor, the Jihadi enemy has one wonder weapon that they count on to defeat us. Mark Steyn sums it up nicely:

In other words, if you threaten to kill people often enough, it will be seen as part of your vibrant cultural tradition -- and, by definition, we're all cool with that. Celebrate diversity, etc. Our tolerant multicultural society is so tolerant and multicultural we'll tolerate your intolerant uniculturalism. Your antipathy to diversity is just another form of diversity for us to celebrate.

Is it so hard for a sizable portion of the West to appreciate what we have built without throwing it all away due to misplaced guilt?

Our society is orders of magnitude better than the 12th century Islamic nirvana that our enemies wish to impose on us. If we had the decency to be proud of Western civilization, no threat from a bunch of parasites with attitudes would ever be great enough to topple us.

I'm just not sure that the enemy isn't right about their secret weapon.

UPDATE: Ah, one of the top enemy losers appears to have come forward to essentially demand our surrender, claiming we are "broken" in Iraq. Given the similarity of the terminology (tip to Instapundit) to Representative Murtha's views, has Zawahiri found someone willing to surrender to him?

Scrap of Paper

The never terribly convincing proposition that we could negotiate Iran out of their Jew-and Infidel-Killing nuclear program is falling fast. Not the least from the fact that the Iranians just won't pretend to comply long enough to lull the West Europeans. The IAEA has concluded that Iran is hiding something:

The eight-page report, obtained by The Associated Press, said that after more than three years of an IAEA investigation, "the existing gaps in knowledge continue to be a matter of concern."

"Any progress in that regard requires full transparency and active cooperation by Iran," said the report, written by IAEA chief Mohamed ElBaradei.

The finding set the stage for a showdown in the U.N. Security Council, which is expected to meet next week and start a process that could result in punitive measures against the Islamic republic.

But Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said no Security Council resolution could make Iran give up its nuclear program.

"The Iranian nation won't give a damn about such useless resolutions," Ahmadinejad told thousands of people Friday in Khorramdareh in northwestern Iran.

And of course, even West Europeans are concluding that nothing short of promising to kill Jews and Americans for Tehran will convince the mullahs to give up nukes:

Rice told the NATO meeting Thursday that the credibility of the Security Council would be jeopardized if it failed to take action in the face of Iran's failure to comply with demands to halt uranium enrichment, which can produce fuel for a reactor or fissile material for a bomb.

Iran says its nuclear ambitions are entirely peaceful, but the U.S. and its European allies suspect that the Islamic republic is trying to develop atomic weapons.

Russia and China — which have veto power in the Council — are resisting calls by the United States, France and Britain for moves that could lead to sanctions on the Islamic republic if it fails to comply.

Asked if Russia would consider halting arms sales to Iran or suspending its help build a nuclear power plant there, Lavrov said that "there exist absolutely no bans concerning the delivery of conventional weapons or of peaceful nuclear equipment."

Diplomats said there was wide support for Rice's tough line among NATO allies at a closed ministerial dinner Thursday night, although no decisions on possible sanctions were taken. European diplomats said Rice reassured allies that the United States was seeking a diplomatic, rather than a military solution to the problem.

"The importance of the diplomatic process and the diplomatic procedures was underlined," said NATO Secretary General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer.

So what do we know?

1. Iran is pursuing nuclear technology.

2. The mullahs make no secret of their wish to kill Jews and Americans.

3. The UN says that Iran is in violation of its obligations on nuclear matters.

4. Our allies are coming around to seeing Iran as a threat and are willing to let the UN unleash the big finger wag at the mullahs.

5. Iran says that the UN's opinion is perhaps fascinating but irrelevant to what Iran will do.

6. And finally, either Russia or China will stop the UNSC from issuing the formal finger wag anyway.

So when the farce of negotiations gets past the Security Council resolution that will be vetoed and which Iran considers worthless, will the Europeans (even the French, allowing us to pass that 'international test' so beloved by some) back and even participate in military action (perhaps soon) against Iran's nuclear and military capabilities?

When the Iranians can't even bring themselves to pretend like they might accept some bribe to pretend to halt nuclear work, can the Europeans really avoid a beating with the reality stick?

Thursday, April 27, 2006

The Decision of an Ally

Australia will buy enough Abrams tanks to equip a battalion and create a heavy mechanized brigade capable of fighting with us overseas:

The 59 tanks are enough for one tank battalion which, with the addition of two mechanized infantry battalions and some support units, would produce one mechanized brigade. This would be the largest unit Australia would be expected to send overseas. Australia, due to its size and location, does not anticipate being invaded by a hostile armored force. So the M-1s would be mainly for any overseas operations.

There are other reasons for getting M-1s. First, there is reputation. For fifteen years, the M-1 has demonstrated clear battlefield superiority. There is nothing on the horizon that can match it. Then there is the compatibility angle. Australia and the United States are close allies. If Australia gets into an overseas scrape, it will probably be as an American ally.

Now if only Canada would do the same thing.

I don't expect our allies to have full spectrum capabilities that duplicate what we can do. But if enough allies fielded brigades that could plug into our new divisions, they would provide important capabilities. Canada sadly is drawing down to light infantry and giving up their heavy armor even as the value of armor is demonstrated in the war. Canada has stepped up in Afghanistan so I'm not complaining about their commitment--just complaining about their equipment. Australia is stepping up in both categories.

On To Baghdad

TKS give us a reminder that at one time the Left complained that we did not go to Baghdad to overhtrow Saddam's regime. In 1991, that is:

A quick Lexis search reveals that in October 26, 1998, Charles Lane wrote in the New Republic that it was “one of contemporary history’s most maddening puzzles. Why, with Kuwait already liberated and Saddam Hussein's forces on the run, did George Bush balk at sending American troops on to Baghdad? … Yes, Bush’s decision spared American sons and daughters at that particular moment in February 1991, but it also left Saddam in power — which meant that, only weeks later, he could slaughter thousands of Kurds and Shiites within his own borders. It also meant that the United States was obliged to maintain an indefinite military presence in the Persian Gulf to keep Saddam bottled up. Dozens of soldiers have since died in Saudi Arabia at the hands of terrorists. Yet, to David Frost, Bush insisted that “instead of doing the Lord’s work, we would have been doing something very, very bad” if we had gone to Baghdad to oust Saddam.”

And in February of that year, the New Republic editors wrote, “The bombing of Baghdad, in short, is not the solution to the problem of Saddam and his chemical agents. There is only one solution to that problem, and that is to depose or to destroy Saddam himself. Bill Clinton seems no more willing to acknowledge this truth than Colin Powell was in 1991, when that great American paragon left the Iraqi villain to fight another day.”

Or back in 1997, recall the Newsweek story entitled “Saddam’s Dark Threat” that declared, “This time the real Iraqi menace is not a campaign of conquest but the growing anxiety that Saddam is building deadly chemical and biological weapons. With America's allies in disarray, President Clinton is weighing whether to strike Saddam and signal merchants of death that the United States will stand up to the new face of war — before toxic terror can make its way home.”

Interestingly enough, had we gone to Baghdad in 1991, we would have been hit with chemical weapons that Iraq undoubtedly had stockpiled around the country. So it is quite possible that the Left was wrong in 1991 and wrong now even though they have completely opposite complaints about the wisdom of taking Baghdad and deposing Saddam.

And So It Begins

This is huge. We will accept North Korean refugees in America:

The United States said that it would soon begin accepting North Korean refugees fleeing the hardline communist state.

"I believe that we are now in a position to begin to process refugees in a appropriate way, in a safe way without jeopardising (their safety and our security)," said Jay Lefkowitz, the special envoy for human rights in North Korea.

"We will be in a position relatively soon to welcome North Korean refugees in the United States," he told a Congressional hearing.

Lawmakers criticized the administration of President George W. Bush at the hearing for not accepting even a single North Korean refugee 18 months after he signed a law to facilitate their entry into the United States.

The North Korean Human Rights Act was intended to address the human rights situation in North Korea and promote "durable solutions" for refugees.

Lefkowitz said the administration had to overcome bureaucratic hurdles and security concerns to set up an appropriate mechanism to accept the refugees.

In addition, he said, China, with the greatest number of North Korean refugees, "has not been at all cooperative in trying to help us or the UNHCR (the United National High Commissioner for Refugees) to facilitate the movement of these refugees.

My guess is we were using the threat of this step to pressure China to be helpful on squeezing North Korea to give up their nuclear weapons. But China does not want to see North Korea weakened since it is a useful threat to have on their side threatening Japan and America.

So with China continuing their most unhelpful attitude, now we are going to open up the spigot.

This, I think, has the potential to collapse the North Korean regime. Already, despite certain death if they are returned to North Korea, perhaps 300,000 North Korean refugees are in China where they are exploited by locals and under constant threat of being sent back to their deaths because China does not recognize them as refugees.

Once North Koreans realize they can come to America, I think the growing trickle of refugees escaping will grow to a flood that will destroy the North Korean regime. It will be interesting to see when government or military officials join the flow out.

UPDATE: The Weekly Standard posts Jay Lefkowitz's, the president's special envoy for human rights in North Korea, Wall Street Journal op-ed. He writes:

We must let the North Korean people know what the outside world is like. And defectors who escape can play a role.

We must provide refuge to those who flee North Korea and China sends refugees back to Pyongyang in violation of its obligations under international law.

We must not do anything that helps the regime, mistakenly thinking we help the people who suffer under that regime.

Our goal:

The U.S. will strive to give hope to the people of North Korea and to help them claim their inalienable rights. As U.S. President George W. Bush said last November when he went to Asia, "The 21st century will be freedom's century for all Koreans." But the challenge to expand freedom across the entire Korean peninsula is one the U.S. cannot meet on its own. Those around the world who cherish freedom, and especially America's friends in Asia who stand to benefit most from a peaceful and productive peninsula, must also commit themselves to this goal.

Like I wrote, this is big.

UPDATE: Mad Minerva updates her post on this with a link to an article about the first North Koreans to be accepted as refugees by America.

I note that the article says that Lefkowitz told Congress that there are 20,000 to 50,000 refugees in northeast China. Does this mean the 300,000 figure is grossly exagerrated or that many refugees manage to migrate away from the border region? The latter seems unlikely but who knows?

Let the voting with their feet begin!

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Taking a Deep Breath

I've been pretty mad at the Russians of late. They seem determined to throw away their chance at joining the West where they belong and instead arm our enemies and otherwise be a thorn in our side hoping to harm us and let them regain some relative glory and stature.

Strategypage writes that some of the problems stem from Yeltsin's era and are not to be put on Putin's shoulders:

Looking at the evidence, it is clear that to a degree, Vladimir Putin has been getting a bad rap that is not entirely deserved. Russia and the United States are not enemies, but there are going to be times when their interests do not coincide. Putin is also left with the task of cleaning up a mess that was left by his predecessor. It is probably best for America and Russia to work together when the interests coincide, and to agree to disagree when they do not. With the war on terror going on, re-starting the Cold War is not a good idea.

I think Hutchinson glosses over way too much and is too willing to turn the other cheek. But given the benefit of the doubt I extend to France in considering them technically an ally despite my frequent anger at their antics, I guess I should extend the same to Russia.

I'm willing to wait and see. Perhaps I've been hasty. As noted, we don't need to create an enemy out of an irritant at this point in time. The bottom line is that although I'd rather have an ally than an annoyance; I'd rather have an annoyance than an enemy. Which pretty much sums up my view of France.

Still, we shouldn't mistakenly think that the Russians are our friends--just look for places we have common interests, I guess. And work against them when our interests do not match.

Yeah, I know, that's a crappy choice. But it is childish to make things worse just because they aren't better.


We need a purge in the CIA. They are veering out of control and need to be brought under elected civilian control once again:

Leaving partisanship aside, this ought to be deeply troubling to anyone who cares about democratic government. The CIA leakers are arrogating to themselves the right to subvert the policy of a twice-elected Administration. Paul Pillar, another former CIA analyst well known for opposing Mr. Bush while he was at Langley, appears to think this is as it should be. He recently wrote in Foreign Affairs that the intelligence community should be treated like the Federal Reserve and have independent political status. In other words, the intelligence community should be a sort of clerisy accountable to no one.

CIA Director Porter Goss is now facing press criticism for trying to impose some discipline on his agency. But he not only has every right to try to root out insubordination, he has a duty to do so because it undermines the agency's ability to focus on the real enemy. The serious and disturbing question is whether the rot is so deep that it is unfixable, and we ought to start all over and create a new intelligence agency.

When NPR runs a warm and fuzzy piece about the Crypto sculpture at CIA headquarters, you know the agency has become more of a liability than an asset.

Good grief, with the press and Left acting as cheerleaders for the CIA's destabilization campaign, are we entering a time when we need competing spook agencies just to watch each other like we're some God-forsaken Third World basket case?

UPDATE: Great minds think alike, I guess. Jeff at Caerdroia already discussed the idea of a purge of the CIA. It is sad to think it has come to this. But it is also frightening to see that it has come to this. What choice is there other than a purge?

ANOTHER UPDATE: I'm not even sure what to make of this.

Who's This 'We,' Kemosabe?

We are at war yet our press doesn't seem to comprehend that fact. Or doesn't feel invested in the outcome to any significant degree.

Via Real Clear Politics, Max Boot writes about this pet peeve of mine:

No one working for the mainstream media today would refer, as Ernie Pyle did during World War II, to "our soldiers," "our offensive," "our predicament." Today it's "American soldiers," "the military offensive" and (most damning of all) "the president's predicament" — as if this were Bush's war, not ours. Just as newsies no longer identify in print with our troops, so they are careful to use impartial language about our enemies. Reuters has gone so far as to all but ban the use of "terrorist," which is considered too judgmental.

An unwillingness to play favorites makes sense when reporting on most topics. Mainstream reporters shouldn't choose between Republicans and Democrats or Microsoft and its critics (though in practice they usually do). But is studied neutrality really the right posture when covering a battle against monsters who fly hijacked aircraft into office buildings?

Los Angeles Times media columnist Tim Rutten, in defending the Pulitzers, claimed that critics "don't want an unbiased news media, they want a press that reflects their bias."

Right. I want journalists to cover the present struggle as a fight between good and evil. And when the good guys — that would be U.S. officials — say that certain revelations would help the bad guys, I want them to be given the benefit of the doubt. So, I suspect, do most Americans.

The problem with the mainstream media — and a big part of why their audience is declining — is that this is seen as a "bias" to be resisted at all costs.

Is it truly possible for the vast majority of our elite journalists to believe that they have no stake in this struggle?

This is why I watch FOX news. Before 9/11, I used to switch between the stations. But over time I've migrated almost exclusively to FNC. No, they aren't cheerleaders for the government. FOX chases explosions in Baghdad and dead blonde women as much as the next station. But despite these failings that they share with their more leftish competition, when they speak of American actions in this war, they are not afraid to say "we" and include themselves as Americans. At a time of war, that counts for a lot in my book.

Of course, from the Left MSM's perspective, just the fact that FOX reporters think of themselves as "Americans" is enough to be tagged rabid right wingers. Ernie Pyle would be horrified, I think, at what has happened to war reporting.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Fight Our Own Battles

Instapundit notes a Krauthammer article that laments the use by anti-war partisans of former military officers to bolster their cause. The latest Rumsfeld media-fest is the spark for this.

I recognize that the retired officers have the right to speak out on issues that they think are important as civilians. That really isn't my problem. And why the media focuses so intensly on these few is another issue. What is disturbing in the fact that the civilian political opposition is using the authority of these officers to bolster their criticism and shield them from having to argue the position on their own or fight the charge of being weak on defense. And it is disturbing because this is a trend on their part.

I did not like it when the political Left called on the military to disobey the law on gays in the military.

I did not like it that a former general was enthusiastically supported in a primary campaign simply because he was a general.

I did not like it when a major political party argued that a combat veteran was uniquely qualified to be president.

I did not like it when the opposition argued that only veterans were qualified to voice support for the war.

And of course, never forget that they do swoon for leaders in uniform (Castro, Ortega, and Hugo), so I guess the fascination with generals is long-standing.

And it isn't even as if the opposition has a special reverence for the opinions of soldiers, sailors, airmen, and Marines--they only pick and choose those among the minority of troops who back their existing positions. They are just uniformed human shields for the Left.

Nor do I like it when supporters of the war invoke the support of military personnel who are far more supportive of the war effort than the general public at this point. I complained about this in the context of the argument over who owns the truth of the war.

But this applies to the war debate itself. We should not drag the military into the political debate. We who support the war should fight this battle on our own terms. And truth be told, our military is obligated to fight even if they don't want to. Civilian control and all that. Are supporters of the war ready to argue that going to war requires a separate and periodic polling of our military personnel? This is just as dangerous to civilian control as the opposition's actions in regard to military authority. All that really matters is that our military personnel are lawfully sent to fight in our name to defend our nation.

Our military people fight the real war--don't we civilians (pro- and anti-Iraq War) owe it to them to let them focus on that mission while we civilians fight the war over the war effort?

UPDATE: Mackubin Owens isn't as charitable about the retired generals:

There is, as well, a practical political problem resulting from such actions on the part of retired officers: a loss of confidence and trust in the military institution by the American people. Although Americans hold today's military in high regard, this will change if they come to view the military as just another special-interest group vying for more resources as it seeks to restrict how the civilian authorities use it, or if retired soldiers are perceived to be no different than the sort of political appointee who just left the administration and is now peddling a "tell all" book intended to settle scores with his adversaries.

The view of the soldier, no matter how experienced in military affairs he may be, is still restricted to the conduct of operations and military strategy. Civilian control of the military means at a minimum that it is the role of the statesman to take the broader view, deciding when political considerations take precedence over even the most pressing military matters. The soldier is a fighter and an adviser, not a policymaker.

Excellent points. I guess I have to say that while I recognize the right of the retired generals to give their opinions, when it is part of a campaign to attack the administration that is going too far.

Should our military ever become just another interest group it will cease being a military force capable of defending our nation.

They Really, Really, Really Love Electricity

The Iranian mullahs insist they want nuclear technology for electricity.

Said the mullah regime:

Iran threatened Tuesday to begin hiding its nuclear program if the West takes any "harsh measures" against it — Tehran's sharpest rebuttal yet to a U.N. Security Council deadline to suspend uranium enrichment or face possible sanctions.

Iran's supreme leader, meanwhile, said in a meeting with the president of wartorn Sudan that Tehran was ready to transfer its nuclear technology to other countries.

Iran's warning to the U.N. watchdog agency, the International Atomic Energy Agency, came from Tehran's top nuclear negotiator, Ali Larijani. They were the strongest words of defiance yet ahead of a Friday deadline, set by the Security Council, for Iran to suspend enrichment of uranium, a process that can produce fuel for nuclear reactors or material for warheads.

"Military action against Iran will not end our program," Larijani said at a conference on the energy program. "If you take harsh measures, we will hide this program. If you use the language of force, you should not expect us to act transparently."

Truly, such a single-minded devotion to adequate electricity supplies in an uncertain world is admirable.

Sanctions or military action will not prevent them from making sure Tehran air conditioners hum even in the hottest summer months. Really, only a Jew-controlled Neo-Con would suggest Tehran is pursuing anything so vulgar as nuclear weapons when the mullah love of cheap and plentiful electricity is so apparent.

Size Matters

The debate over how large our Army should be to defeat Saddam's regime continues to rage three years after Baghdad fell.

So the media seems to be taking the criticisms of the half dozen generals criticizing Rumsfeld as legitimate. One of the officially sanctioned reasons for being upset is that we invaded Iraq with too few troops. Since we crushed the Iraqi military in three weeks we clearly did not have too few troops to take Baghdad (which critics said could not be done and once we reached the city it would be Stalingrad on the Tigris, by the way).

So they argue that we had too few troops to occupy Iraq (I disagree), noting that General Shinseki called for several hundred thousand troops. Let's call it 300,000 even and use that as the figure. And we'll use it despite an Army study that concluded we'd need 300,000 for Afghanistan and 100,000 for Iraq occupation duties. Let's just assume the particular prediction of 300,000 was uniquely worthy of being listened to at the time.

I was going to make this a wide-ranging post about what we would do with those troops, how we'd deploy them, how we'd rotate them, and how we'd have sufficient reserves for other contingencies, but Jeff at Caerdroia conveniently asked these question. So I'll just focus on finding those 300,000 troops for Iraq.

Let's call our troops commitment at an average of 150,000 troops and call it 15 brigades. We'll ignore the two Marine regiments for the sake of rounding and just use these numbers. Since I'm not counting Army troops in Kuwait or the area, it may balance out.

The argument is that we have too few troops to pacify Iraq (the "density" issue) and too few in order to avoid stressing the Army out rotating forces through Iraq.

We have about 600,000 Army on duty, including, say, 100,000 reservists. The operational army is about 315,000. Say that 30,000 of the reservists are combat units, so call it 345,000 deployable troops on duty right now.

Others complain that the Guard shouldn't be overseas so much when it is needed at home, so one goal is to keep the Guard combat units out of the mix. Higher tax rates for that wonderful sense of "sacrifice" are fine but don't dare call up military reservists, I guess. But no matter, we'll assume our reserves are for some nebulous "really bad" war that may never happen or disaster relief, but nothing violent in between.

The bottom line is that 345,000 operationial troops are being used to keep 150,000 deployed in Iraq.

So let's look at our options. Just to maintain the present combat force in Iraq would require 30,000 more active duty Army troops to replace the Guard combat units currently mobilized. But the rotation and troop density issues are unresolved.

If 300,000 American troops are needed to pacify Iraq (and why Iraqis don't count with so many bean counters, I do not know, but I'll not count them in the spirit of the exercise), then we'd need to double the troops in Iraq. This doesn't imply 150,000 more troops, but 345,000 more just to keep the same rotation policy going. And we'd need more institutional army troops to support this increase in line strength. Let's be conservative and say 20% of this number in support personnel will be needed. So now we need 69,000 (call it 70,000) to support this increase of 345,000. Now we are up to 445,000 additional troops. And this ignores the 2% rule that says that 25 million Iraqis can only be pacified by 500,000 troops. Again, if we can't count Iraqis, this gets tough. But we'll just assume that our high quality troops make up for this rule and that 300,000 cited by General Shinseki in the field is enough to pacify Iraq. But we still haven't unstressed the force by providing a rotation base sufficient for at least two years off for each year deployed unlike our current one year on and one off (although with the new brigades we are getting to the 2:1 ratio in terms of combat brigades, critics count numbers and not deployable units so scratch this fact for this exercise).

Assuming 300,000 in the field need 600,000 to allow 2:1 deployment ratios to unstress the force, we are up to needing 900,000 operational troops alone--585,000 more troops than the 315,000 current operational force to support inadeqately the current force in Iraq. Add 20% as additional support troops and we need 117,000 (call it 120,000 to round) for a grand total required additional Army strength of 705,000 troops on top of the 500,000 active component troops we now have. This would address the use of the Guard, the density issue, and the rotation base.

Now, I'm assuming that nobody who says we used too few troops was considering flooding Iraq with troops in 2003 to reach 300,000 without a massive expansion because we couldn't have done even one rotation--talk about stressing the force!

And don't call up the Guard combat units--hurricanes, forest fires, and earthquakes can happen at any time, right?

So we'd have to expand the Army before the invasion. And we won't even address the dilution in troop quality that would be required to hit that 705,000 increase in troops. The mind boggles at this.

And if we want reserves for other contingencies and the Guard is off limits, let's add another cool 100,000 troops to have two divisions and support troops held back in case North Korea gets aggressive. Is this enough just in case? No, but I'm starting to feel cruel in this exercise.

So how long would it take to train and equip more than 805,000 troops? Remember, many critics bizarrely say our existing number of troops were ill-trained and equipped to invade and occupy Iraq. How well could we have trained and equipped these additional troops to the satisfaction of the war critics? Could we ever reach that standard?

I'd guess that we'd be ready to invade Iraq sometime in 2015--give or take a couple years. I'm sure that anti-war side would have been ready to debate that long.

Hey, maybe Saddam's boys would have been better negotiating partners?

Monday, April 24, 2006

From the Sea

Strategypage notes an interesting deployment:

The U.S. Navy recently sent the Trenton Expeditionary Strike Group (amphibious carrier USS Trenton and her escorts) off to the Indian Ocean, without the normal complement of marines. Since these ships are believed to be supporting counter-terror operations, sending a ship like the LPD Trenton to sea without its normal complement of marines indicates that the ship may be used as a floating base for UAVs and SOF (special operations forces). A similar task was assigned a navy carrier in 2002, to support SOF operations in Afghanistan. The Trenton, and her two escorts (a destroyer and a cruiser, and possibly a nuclear sub as well), could support SOF operations ashore in Somalia, or Iran.

This information leads me to reconsider my thoughts on the deployment of a French carrier to the Indian Ocean where it is supposed to deliver aircraft to Afghanistan. I wondered if the French were covering the movement of their carrier to take part in strikes on Iran this May. I wondered if the French would get other planes to the De Gaulle after flying off to Afghanistan or whether the strikes would happen before the scheduled ferry mission.

But considering what we are doing with the Trenton expeditionary strike group, are French special forces getting ready to join us for a mission to Iran? With or without French naval aircraft based on land?

I keep expecting military action and it hasn't happened for over a year. So I don't know whether this is another planned feint to lull the Iranians, just me connecting dots that don't have connections, or clues that action is imminent.

It is interesting.


I wondered about the April casualty surge and Strategypage gives a plausible reason:

In the beginning of the year, American commanders held their fire, but then it was decided to keep going with the anti-terrorist operations, as it appeared that the Iraqis were deadlocked on forming a new government. So May will be a bloody month as well.

I had thought a big part of the five-month decline was passing responsibility for fighting over to the Iraqis as more Iraqis are trained. With Strategypage's information, this is clearly not the whole story.

As I've long noted, in the short run we can reduce casualties just by pulling back and avoiding fighting. But eventually casualties will rise even faster as the enemy enters the vaccum. So whenever we've had drops in casualties, in the back of my mind I worried that we were shrinking from fighting out of fear of casualties rather than being a positive trend.

I think the five-month drop was partly due to winning, but there is also a reduction of combat missions contributing to the drop, as it turns out. This does show the problem of just looking at body counts. Information on combat activity--patrols, convoys, offensives--would have shown a decrease in activity that could have clued us in to the reason for the decline of casualties. I don't blame the Pentagon for not sharing that information, but it does hamper assessment in the short run.

Also, my speculation that we were holding back in Baghdad to put pressure on the Iraqis to form a government may be correct. I don't think we avoided combat out of fear of casualties, so there has to be some explanation.

I cannot rule out the idea that we thought we were giving the Sunnis a chance to join the government and simply did not want to provide excuses to halt negotiations. If so, I think that was a mistake. This bears watching. Once the enemy gives up fighting, we can stop fighting. But our scale of fighting should never be the subject of negotiations before the enemy gives up.

For whatever reason, now that we have gone back on the offensive, our casualties are going up.

So the drop in casualties wasn't nearly as significant as I thought; but on the other hand the rise isn't as alarming, either.

Sunday, April 23, 2006

Hu's Your Daddy?

While opponents of the President are willing to slam him for failing to invade Saudi Arabia yesterday, the Saudis are not as confident of our continuing support as the loyal opposition would have you believe.

I noted over a month ago that the Saudis would like to hedge their bets with China as a fallback ally.

Well, it looks like they've signed some deals:

Oil-rich Saudi Arabia and energy-starved China signed defense, security and trade agreements Saturday on the first day of Chinese President Hu Jintao's visit, a trip both sides expect will enhance burgeoning relations.

This isn't too surprising.

Oil is obviously what Saudi Arabia is giving. The article does not mention what is involved in the defense and security agreements.

The Saudis don't like the direction our foreign policy is going and they'd just as soon deal with a country that will buy their oil and shut the hell up about what goes on inside the Kingdom.

I think that our Shia Arabia option is looking more and more like the way to go on the Arabian peninsula.

UPDATE: While not mentioning what is involved, this article does mention the old missile deal:

The Saudi state SPA news agency reported that the two sides also inked a "contract on defense systems."

No details on the contract were immediately available. Saudi Arabia, which has traditionally used Western defense systems, purchased Chinese Eastwind missiles in the 1980s.

Are the Saudis in the market for new ballistic missiles as they watch the Iranians across the Gulf? If so, this covers the defense side; but what about the security angle?

Why and How They Fight

The latest Osama tape (if authentic) has four interesting points as related in this article. A lot of focus goes to the Hamas remarks but consider:

Osama bin Laden issued ominous new threats in an audiotape broadcast Sunday, saying the West was at war with Islam and calling on his followers to go to Sudan to fight a proposed U.N. force.

And this:

"I say that this war is the joint responsibility of the people and the governments. While the war continues, the people renew their allegiance to their rulers and politicians and continue to send their sons to our countries to fight us."

In the first, and tied to the Hamas point, we can see a desperate Osama trying to enflame a war of civilizations between the West and Islam. Losing in the field with public Moslem opinion beginning to desert him, Osama needs an infusion of support to revitalize his ongoing defeat.

Second, in a related fact to the first point, look at the hideous causes Osama is willing to tie his movement to--the genocide against black Sudanese non-Moslems. I guess the people of Darfur are being punished for invading Iraq or something. 'Cause there's no other reason to hurt non-Moslems, right? But I guess Afghanistan and Iraq aren't exactly shining victories for the jihad. Why not go back to Osama's old stomping grounds of Sudan (remember the Clinton adminstration strike at the chemical plant in Sudan?). [UPDATE: Strategypage reminds me that the Darfur victims are also Moslems--I was thinking of the southern Sudanese. Which I suppose makes their plight more incomprehensible even from a jihadi point of view.]

In the third point, see that Osama is again justifying the killing of civilians. Is he planning something and announcing a defense against the charge of terrorism?

Finally, notice how that "international test" isn't valued by everybody. A UN-sanctioned force in Sudan? Osama isn't impressed with the possible decision of the vaunted international community. Maybe some in the West will be a little less sympathetic to the murdering thug and his minions after this internationalist faux pas.

Kill them all. And when I say "them" make sure we keep our focus on the jihadis and refuse to give our enemies (and some of our people) a war between civlizations that the jihadis need to have a chance of winning.

Of course, the jihadis don't want a true war of civilization. They count on us not really using all our power. For if it comes down to us or them, that can only end very badly for them.

UPDATE: Strategypage notes the lack of confidence on display by bin Laden and Zarqawi about their Iraq prospects. I hesitated to mention this since I only saw articles about selected aspects. But this seems consistent with past statements and apparent actions. We are winning. Let's try not to surrender to their last survivor, shall we?

Just Ordinary Politics at Work

Iraq the Model is blogging the formation of a new Iraqi government.

The press doesn't seem to care since no dead blonde women are involved. But isn't the progress in Iraq an amazing thing despite enemy attacks? Really. We're at the point where a four-month deadlock did not result in the troops being called out of their barracks to settle the matter. Parties and factions wrangled and made deals. You'd think it was a democracy or something!

Despite the press focus on death and destruction, the metrics of success were passing by our press in plain sight without our journalism school-educated reporters catching on. Voting, governmental formation, and security forces training and deployment have all moved forward as the real metrics of success.

We are winning, people. Have the patience to let the Iraqi people succeed. We must not abandon them on the cusp of victory. They have a long way to go, to be sure; but they've built much already with our help.

Can I Get a 'Heh' From the Choir?

I am a global warming skeptic and it annoys me that governments and people around the world use our refusal to run Lemming-like with the herd as a reason to bash us.

I've ranted about this a few times here using the thin pretext that since foreign countries bash us, it is vaguely a foreign affairs issue. (See here, here, and here)

So let me quote (via the Weekly Standard newsletter) this article:

For many years now, human-caused climate change has been viewed as a large and urgent problem. In truth, however, the biggest part of the problem is neither environmental nor scientific, but a self-created political fiasco. Consider the simple fact, drawn from the official temperature records of the Climate Research Unit at the University of East Anglia, that for the years 1998-2005 global average temperature did not increase (there was actually a slight decrease, though not at a rate that differs significantly from zero).

Yes, you did read that right. And also, yes, this eight-year period of temperature stasis did coincide with society's continued power station and SUV-inspired pumping of yet more carbon dioxide into the atmosphere.

In response to these facts, a global warming devotee will chuckle and say "how silly to judge climate change over such a short period". Yet in the next breath, the same person will assure you that the 28-year-long period of warming which occurred between 1970 and 1998 constitutes a dangerous (and man-made) warming. Tosh. Our devotee will also pass by the curious additional facts that a period of similar warming occurred between 1918 and 1940, well prior to the greatest phase of world industrialisation, and that cooling occurred between 1940 and 1965, at precisely the time that human emissions were increasing at their greatest rate.

Does something not strike you as odd here? That industrial carbon dioxide is not the primary cause of earth's recent decadal-scale temperature changes doesn't seem at all odd to many thousands of independent scientists. They have long appreciated - ever since the early 1990s, when the global warming bandwagon first started to roll behind the gravy train of the UN Inter-governmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) - that such short-term climate fluctuations are chiefly of natural origin. Yet the public appears to be largely convinced otherwise. How is this possible?

I want the global warming fanatics to hear one thing at the moment:

Under the presidency of President George Bush, the temperature of the globe has not increased.


For the record, let me repeat my basic philosophy on the issue:

I don't assume we are experiencing a general warming based on a mere century of purported data;I don't assume we have caused whatever increase there is;

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

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

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

But for the moment, I shall enjoy the fact that for the last seven years, the global temperature has not actually increased despite the constant bleating about how hot our summers have been lately and how that proves the global warming theory, cause, and solutions offered by the Left to stop it.

Field Trip

On Earth Day, Mister and I went on a school PTO-sponsored trip to the Detroit Science Center . Sorry, no pictures. (My digital camera died. But it looks like I fixed it after the trip by cleaning out the battery compartment to get rid of the residue from a battery leak a while back.)

We started early on Saturday, making it to the school at 9:30 to munch on bagels before boarding the bus rented by the PTO. One of the PTO parents had a pump-powered rocket to whet the appetite for space-related fun. Mister thought it was pretty cool. Amazingly, a lot of children scampered to get under the falling missile rather than sensibly getting out of the way. I cringed every time it came down on the pavement but no child was nuked.

As it turned out, the turnout for the event was better than expected so the PTO needed some parents to drive. Low on gas, owning a small Ion, and unwilling to add to my 400+ miles that I drive each week, I declined the request. But I did volunteer to ride with someone else so the kids could all ride on the bus.

Only ten minutes behind schedule, we headed out. At the last minute the principal called out to me and I scampered from the SUV I was in and headed to join Mister on the bus. I wasn't sure if this was a promotion or not after my last bus trip with children. But Mister was glad to have me on board in the end.

The trip was uneventful, but with the late start, time it took to park, and the wait to get in, we didn't have the planned half hour to roam before lunch. So we headed right for the cafeteria to eat. I'd eaten breakfast and a bagel, so I could have waited, but this was the plan so we ate. [OK, I just read that and it was really boring so let me skip ahead.]

The Detroit Science Center is big but it really has less to play with than the Ann Arbor Hands On Museum, really. But there was some really cool stuff like the A-10 in the wind tunnel that you could fly. There was the sail boat exercise with a fan to show how you can sail into the wind. There were gears to turn and some other tinker toy things to build, plus a periodic demonstration counter where the staff showed kids how to build stuff or just showed experiments. We also found a really cool spinning metal plate with plastic and metal rings that you could balance on the plate if you got them spinning. We only had a little chance to play with this before we headed off to the IMAX theater.

We watched a Tom Hanks-narrated film about the mission to the moon. The imagery was astounding and the pictures were mostly new to me. I loved the shots of the astronauts practicing on Earth for their tasks in space. That a hand-held calculator has more computing power than the Apollo computers was just weird to absorb. And the inability to tell scale or depth without structures or air was pretty weird. The description of an astronaut--warned that he was on the edge of a massive canyon--that there was nothing to worry about because it was just a gentle slope was scary. In fact, he was on the edge of a canyon deeper than the Statue of Liberty is tall!

One thing that struck me as odd was the statement by Hanks that these were ordinary men, really, who looked just like us. Hey, Im no multi-cultural nutcase, but these were all white men. Nothing wrong with that. Really. I am one. But why make that statement when the era of Apollo was one that could not have anybody but men who look like me. Not that these astronauts should have their achievements lessened because of the era in which they lived. Their achievements would be no more amazing if done with crews that look like a finely balanced GAP commercial. But I really wished that Hanks had used a different line to convey the portrayal of these men who were thrown into space in primitive craft far from home if anything went wrong. I would have thought Hanks would have had a better ear for that. Or maybe Ive just lived in Ann Arbor too long.

I stayed to watch all the credits just to see the pictures in the background. Old black and white pictures from long ago. It is all just history. It is deeply depressing to think that only a dozen men have walked on the moon and weve gone more than three decades without doing anything on the moon. Hell, we drove cars on the moon! When I was little, looking ahead to 2000, I assumed we'd have wonderful stations in space and on the moon. Instead we have a tenement with solar panels that we grandly call the International Space Station and a shrunken Shuttle fleet that is too expensive and too dangerous to do us much good. I'm glad we have a goal of returning to the moon and going to Mars, but I have little hope that NASA will do it. I have more hope that private businesses will finally get us into space. But now I don't even assume I'll live to see it. We should fill the Solar System and instead we putter around in our own gravity well just poking above it on occasion and doing nothing terribly exciting when we do so. But our society has become so comfortable that at least a sizable minority of the people would blast any money spent to send man into space by complaining about how many Midnight Basketball games could be funded. We should take every dollar that goes to PBS and NPR and shovel it into space. Let private business go, too; but shovel money at space travel and I don't care if it is inefficient. Just go! Is it really possible that when my son takes his son to science museums that they will view the same Apollo pictures as the high point of our space ambitions?

Ok, enough ranting.

We had about an hour and a half after the movie to see the special space exhibit, which I liked a lot. I didn't know Apollo used fuel cells for power and drinking water. And we headed back to the spinning table which Mister really wanted to play with. We worked on getting the disks spinning by using our finger tips like axles until they balanced and moved around the disk. A lab-coated staff member--really pretty, I should add--came by and started showing me how to get the one odd ring going when she saw I was having problems with it. It was her favorite display, she said, and we chatted off and on for quite a bit about the display. Mister loved it and was a little annoyed that some adult woman kept picking up his already spinning disks to redo them! It was hard enough to get them going just right and she just snatched them up! So he started deliberately screwing up his launches to send his disks careening into her disks. I had to laugh about that when he told me later! I should have been disapproving but really--what was the woman thinking?

With a short time left before we had to hit the bus, I grabbed Mister so we could go to the gift shop. I thanked the staff woman for taking so much time to help with the display and we rushed off to the gift shop. [Hmm, reading that back, did I just miss an opportunity? She was cute. Oh good grief, I'm such a total idiot ]

Anyway, I'm sure my friends will take care of berating me when I relate this the next time we get to the bar (And I really need to get on that, too). Perhaps I'm mistaken anyway.

I picked up a rocket kit that works with vinegar and baking soda. We looked at it on the way home and I think it is a bit of a ripoff since a lot of the parts look pretty cheap. On the other hand, except for the special nozzle, I can scrounge up replacement pieces pretty easily when they break and build new rockets. Perhaps Mister (who loves math and is good at it) will be part of the next push into space. Maybe, if I'm lucky, my son's generation will be the one that really gets us into space for good. And then I'll be lucky enough to see it happen in my lifetime.

That would be a pretty rewarding lifetime, after all.

Saturday, April 22, 2006

Determined to Win

I recently wrote that our military-to-military exchanges with the PLA are stupid:

We hope to teach them the big picture--don't mess with us; but the Chinese are just interested in learning how to do their job--fighting us--so they focus on details.

Time after time, I read about how the Chinese are inferior to us. How they could not win a full-blown war with us. How they are inferior in naval and possibly air power to the Japanes alone. And every time I link to one of thesepieces, I agree with the power assessments--and say they are irrelevant to the Chinese decision-makers.

The Chinese could conclude, like the Japanese in 1941 convinced themselves, that the power disparity between themselves and America could be overcome with surprise, skill, valor, planning, and our own weaknesses that they'd exploit. A quick offensive would knock us back on our heels and keep us from using our raw power. And Japan did not have nukes.

So this article about how the Chinese perceive us is not comforting:

A recently completed study by the Rand Corporation (Chinese Responses to U.S. Military Transformation and Implications for the Department of Defense) shows that China is watching the United States closely and is devoting significant resources toward the development of highly technical, novel approaches to both defense and the projection of power. The potential for a conflict with the United States over the status of Taiwan is the driving force for Chinese military planning, the study says.

America's preoccupation with Iraq and Afghanistan seems to have accelerated U.S. military transformation and advancement, "Yet the concomitant acceleration of the pace of Chinese military modernization also suggests that the Chinese are not dissuaded by U.S. military prowess, but instead are driven by a range of strategic and military motivations to continue their efforts apace," says the Rand report.

China is not looking at our military and just throwing up its 2 billion hands and crying it is no use trying to compete. They are looking for ways to beat us despite our superiority.

I wouldn't want to trade places with China. But to say they could figure out a way to beat us in limited scenarios is not to say we are or will be inferior to China in power. Remember, China doesn't have to land in Los Angeles and march to the Mississippi River to beat us in a war. We can lose on their door step if we decide the price to win is too high--and then our power superiority just won't matter.

Take the Chinese seriously. Deny them the knowledge gained by military-to-military exchanges that could persuade them that they know enough about us to nullify our advantages. We aren't scaring them--we're educating them.

And remember, if they think they can win even if they cannot by objective standards, there will be a war. And once war starts between two nuclear powers, who can say how that will develop?

Friday, April 21, 2006


Jihadis like to say they have more warriors willing to die in a war with the West than we can count on. Therefore, they have the advantage in war. Not so fast Sparky.

Like I've said, this view mistakes willingness to die for our society with the ability to kill its enemies. Given our military prowess, we have more than enough young men and women willing to die for our society--and more importantly, they won't actually have to do very much dying even as they slaughter our enemies.

And it gets worse for the asshats of Jihadworld. Robots are joining our troops in the field:

If the troops had as many combat robots as they wanted, about ten percent of the "troops" would be robots. That percentage will increase as the robots become more capable.

The war is propelling this change along at a fast clip. Increasingly, we will deploy robots that find and kill our enemies alongside our troops. So our enemies will get to become martyrs to their cause and we won't have to write so many letters home about our dead soldiers.

Kill 'em all, let MARCBOT sort them out. Win-win, eh?

The Fools!

Haitians don't appear to be voting much. This kind of makes Iraq's high voter turnout a little more significant, don't you think? Each vote attracted more voters during 2005. But Haiti?

The absence of lines and apparent public enthusiasm for the election was in sharp contrast to February's presidential vote, which returned former President Rene Preval to power.

"It's a slow start," said David Wimhurst, a spokesman for the U.N. mission that was called to Haiti to help restore order following Aristide's ouster. "We think some people are waiting to see if they can vote later in the day. We expect it to pick up."

Thousands of U.N. peacekeepers fanned out across the country to guard polling stations, but only a tiny fraction of Haiti's 3.5 million registered voters had arrived to cast ballots shortly after voting opened at dawn. There were no immediate reports of disturbances or other problems.

Don't the Haitians know they should be happy to have UN overlords guiding them forward to freedom, democracy, and prosperity? I mean, they are lucky they aren't under American protection like those Iraqis or Afghanis!

But hey, at least the Haitians managed to get the UN to give a bit of a damn. Perhaps if the Sudanese study harder they can pass that international test.

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Working Himself Up

America has more important things to worry about than Hugo Chavez. In a perfect world, he'd be number one on our things to undo list; but with jihadis and nukes to worry about, he's decidedly third-tier nutcase material.

Yet Chavez sees plots and plans against him orchestrated against his tinpot dictatorship by America at every turn:

Speaking to other South American leaders, Chavez said his conflict with Washington is rooted in the U.S. thirst to control oil. He said the Americans will be denied that in Venezuela, which is the world's fifth-largest oil exporter and one of the biggest suppliers to the U.S. market.

If the United States attacks, Chavez said, "We won't have any other alternative — blow up our own oil fields — but they aren't going to take that oil."

Some of Chavez's political opponents at home call his warnings about a U.S. invasion far-fetched and contend he pursues the verbal conflict with Washington to encourage a sense of struggle against a foreign enemy as he heads toward the presidential election in December.

My, doesn't he think highly of himself? The lone superpower focused on his little oil-soaked lunatics' asylum. And his valiant stand against our machinations surely prove his cojones are grapefruit-sized, eh?

Mark my word, Chavez isn't just cynically lying to give him a reason to clamp down on domestic opposition. I think that nutball is working himself up to a state of frenzy and eventually he will lash out militarily in the deluded belief that he is hitting us before we can hit him.

And then we'll have to actually pay attention to that charter member of the Axis of El Vil even though we have more important things to worry about.

Foreign Policy Realism

Victor Hanson addresses the impact of the Iraq War.

Let me start off by saying that during the Cold War and until the last couple years, I would have been considered a realist in foreign policy. I held my nose to support odious dictators who would at least help us fight the greater threat of the USSR.

And even after 9/11, I did not want to initially target Iraq in order to go after al Qaeda and their Taliban host. I can't say I even hoped that we would topple the Taliban regime when we launched the campaign in October 2001. I claim no particular prescience on these matters.

After we destroyed the Taliban regime, I was (and still am) all in favor of going after Saddam's Iraq because Iraq was a threat to the region and our interests even separate from the threat of terrorism or his WMD ambitions. If al Qaeda did not exist, we still would have needed to end his regime for moral and security reasons. With jihadis in existence, the need seemed overwhelming. And my hopes for the impact of the Iraq War were limited to the impact on regimes who would become too scared of us not to help fight al Qaeda and on people who would see the price of supporting their jihadi causes as too high. I did not foresee a wave of reform in the Arab world even with a successful democracy in Iraq established.

So I'm not a Neo-Con in any sense of the word. Though I don't consider it pejorative, there is nothing "neo" about me.

But looking at the impact of the Iraq War--a war we are clearly winning though we have not won it yet--I have come to see that the Iraq War is having an impact far greater than I could have hoped. In contrast to those who said the war would enflame the Arab street against us and topple friendly regimes to create even more jihadi states, the stability of autocracy and stagnation is being undermined in good ways. Democracy is making still feeble but real advances, and even the governments that fear such advances are actually working to stamp out jihadi terror rather than look the other way as long as it was aimed at the West.

Victor Hanson writes (via Real Clear Politics):

It may go mostly unspoken, but the removal of Saddam and the resulting effort to birth democracy in Iraq have sent tremors through the Middle East.

And even as Americans tire of the costs of reconstructing Iraq, millions of Arabs, who may not like interlopers in the ancient caliphate, are nevertheless curious to see Iraq's new politicians bicker and debate freely on television in a manner unseen in the past.

Look at what's been happening in the Middle East. True, the megaphones of the Arab state-run press are, as always, attacking the United States. But the Lebanese people are in a fury against their former occupiers, the Syrians. Tens of thousands of Jordanians took to the street to protest against the terror of fundamentalist Islam. Revolutionary Hamas is already looking ridiculous, as it tries to beg or cajole enough petty cash to keep its garbage collectors on the job.

And in Leptis Magna, where foreigners trickle back to rediscover the ancient sites, it's clear Col. Muammar al-Qaddafi's Libya is not quite the same place it was four years ago.

Back in America, pensioned generals and out-of-work diplomats who oversaw the failed old realpolitik of the past keep telling us that Iraq is a disaster. They are too quick to declare defeat.

The truth is that a huge rock was dropped in the stagnant Middle East pond by the removal of Saddam Hussein. If we keep our cool and remain patient, the ripples that are slowing emanating may surprise us yet - as they do out here among the majestic stones of once-forgotten Leptis Magna.

A realistic assessment of the impact of the war even when it is not yet won shows that the disaster that was supposed to follow our invasion is right now the exact opposite. We have hope of reforming a stagnant region and stamping out the root cause of the terrorism that stalks us. And if you are basing your views on reality, can anybody really say that even imperfect democracy is worse for Arabs and Moslems than the pre-2001 "stability" that we (understandably under the circumstances) promoted?

I guess I still do consider myself a realist--it's just that I base my realism on the new situation of our strategic environment rather than staying stuck in the Cold War mindset and assumptions that first guided my sense of policy realism. Calling yourself a realist at minimum should mean you base your views on the world we exist in and not the world you remember.

To me, those who cling to the Cold War notions of foreign policy realism are not guided by reality in any meaningful sense of the word. And their lack of patience is just astounding for those willing to endure decades of autocrats just to maintain the then-status quo.

As an aside (die lurking editors! I digress at my whim!), it's funny how both the foreign policy "realists" and the "reality-based community" seem to ignore the reality of today's world. That word must not mean what I think it means...

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

A Game of Chicken

Jaafari won't step down to end the deadlock over a new Iraqi government and violence in Baghdad is continuing.

Meanwhile, US and Iraqi troops fight the enemy but have not crushed them:

Iraqi and US forces battled rebels in Baghdad for the second straight day as car bombs exploded near two Shiite mosques in a wave of violence that has surged amid the country's protracted power vacuum.

Is it really true that the power vaccum is preventing us from fighting the enemy? When we fought under our rule, an interim government, and under a permanent constitution, we suddenly cannot fight because the Iraqi political parties have yet to work out a deal based on the results of the December election? I don't think so.

Recall that there is a report that amidst the enemy's decision to focus on Baghdad, we are planning a "second liberation of Baghdad." Says the Times of London:

THE American military is planning a “second liberation of Baghdad” to be carried out with the Iraqi army when a new government is installed.

Pacifying the lawless capital is regarded as essential to establishing the authority of the incoming government and preparing for a significant withdrawal of American troops.

Strategic and tactical plans are being laid by US commanders in Iraq and at the US army base in Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, under Lieutenant- General David Petraeus. He is regarded as an innovative officer and was formerly responsible for training Iraqi troops.

The battle for Baghdad is expected to entail a “carrot-and-stick” approach, offering the beleaguered population protection from sectarian violence in exchange for rooting out insurgent groups and Al-Qaeda.

Sources close to the Pentagon said Iraqi forces would take the lead, supported by American air power, special operations, intelligence, embedded officers and back-up troops.

It really sounds like a game of chicken. We don't want Jaafari to get the credit for a military campaign right now that hits the enemy hard, and so are holding back, I think. There is no reason we can't fight now in this period of a "vaccuum" as we have for three years. We are counting on the violence pressuring the Iraqis to make concessions and force Jaafari out. At which point the campaign to root out the Baathists and jihadis in Baghdad (and against the militias, too, probably) will commence.

Of course, holding back allows the enemy to act with more freedom; which may explain our uptick in combat deaths this month after five months of decline. And it may also explain why it seems like the enemy has been able to launch several large (50 or so enemy) attacks on American and Iraqi forces lately.

I suppose in this light, enemy attacks and calls in this country to withdraw might actually (and unintentionally I am sure) be having a good effect by making Iraqi leaders worry we might pull out too soon.

We shall see.

UPDATE: The other guy may have just swerved to avoid the collision:

Prime Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari, under intense pressure to give up plans for a second term, agreed Thursday to let Shiite leaders reconsider his nomination, a step that could mark a breakthrough in the months-long effort to form a new government.

We shall see.