Tuesday, October 31, 2006

A + B = B + A

While we rightly worry that existing nutcase mullah rulers could get nukes; we need to worry about existing nukes finding themselves with nutcase mullah owners.

Cue the scary music and cast your eyes upon Pakistan where we seem to have helped the Pakistanis blow away about 80 jihadis and jihadi wannabees. The locals aren't happy:

In Bajur's main town of Khar, near Chingai, 20,000 tribesmen, many brandishing firearms, railed against President Gen. Pervez Musharraf and President Bush and called for their deaths.

"God is great!" "Death to Bush! Death to Musharraf!" and "Anyone who is a friend of America is a traitor!" they chanted.

Local pro-Taliban elder Inayatur Rahman told the crowd he had prepared a "squad of suicide bombers" to target Pakistani security forces in the same way militants are attacking in Afghanistan and Iraq.

"We will carry out these suicide attacks soon," he said, asking the crowd if they approved. The angry mob yelled back, "Yes!"

The rally also adopted a verbal resolution to stone to death anyone found spying for the Pakistan army or the U.S. government.

Pakistan has been a lot more help to us than I expected on September 11, 2001. But there are a lot more of these jihadi-loving loons running around Pakistan than I'd like. I worry that they are one bullet or car bomb away from seizing control of Pakistan and its nuclear arsenal. Even if I doubt the accuracy of all those "5 to 10 years" estimates of an Iranian bomb, at least there are no bombs in Iran right now. But nukes already built in Pakistan suddenly coming under the control of mad mullahs could take place at any time.

Would it be too callous of me to wonder if 80 dead isn't nearly enough?

Pakistan is a Scimitar of Damocles that we need to worry about. Pakistan's government needs to take out the frontier jihadis and we need to get the Pakistani government to pay the price to bring those nutballs under control. And we need to get Pakistan to introduce democracy and rule of non-Sharia law while the jihadi types are still a minority inside Pakistan. Because there's an easier way for nutballs to get nukes than spinning up centrifuges a thousand at a time.

This decade truly sucks. I'm reasonably sure I've mentioned that before.

What's Up, Doc?

Sometimes only university professors can be dense enough to believe thug regimes just need a little talking to in order to work for universal peace and happiness:

What we need in these tense times is some old fashioned Grand Diplomacy and Realpolitik. The US should begin bilateral discussions with Iran (and Syria) using carrots as well as sticks. We should broker a regional peace conference that addresses both the Israel-Palestinian conflict and the disputes between Israel, Lebanon and Syria. With the "cover" that would be provided by some tangible progress on the Arab-Israeli front, Israel and moderate Arab states might be brought together in a regional containment strategy aimed at Iran, their de facto common adversary. This in turn would bolster Security Council pressure on Iran to conform to international norms.

You know, when it comes down to it, those who advocate carrots and sticks never seem to know what a stick is and focus almost entirely on the carrots.

What exactly are we supposed to discuss with two thug states joined in a sick alliance aimed at killing American troops and slaughtering Iraqi civilians?

Less talking with enemies. More old fashioned killing of enemies.

Not Waiting For November 8th

Should we tell the Chinese, Japanese, South Koreans, and Russians to wait in the hall? If you've been pining for those magical one-on-one talks with North Korea, hold on.

Well, isn't this is fascinating:

The U.S. and Chinese governments announced Tuesday that North Korea agreed to rejoin six-nation nuclear disarmament talks, a surprise diplomatic breakthrough that comes only three weeks after the communist regime conducted its first known atomic test.

The agreement was struck in a day of unpublicized discussions between the senior envoys from the United States, China and North Korea at a government guesthouse in Beijing. The U.S. negotiator, Assistant Secretary of State Christopher Hill, said the six-nation negotiations could resume as early as November or December.

I would have expected North Korea to stonewall talks as they have for more than two years on the hope that President Bush will take a hit and put those more interested in shoveling money to the Pillsbury Nuke Boy in power.

So why are the North Koreans agreeing to talks just before our mid-term elections when such talks will undercut opposition claims that the administration's party is ill-suited to negotiating a solution to the North Korean nuclear problem?

Could it be that the North Koreans don't believe they can possibly endure two more years of pressure by the Bush administration without cracking? Oh, and the pressure from South Korea, Japan, and especially China who all felt screwed by the North Korean nuclear test attempt.

Would the Chinese have felt so humiliated at North Korea's actions if they hadn't been involved in the talks and were just watching us talk to North Korea?

But really, agreeing to talk right now a week before our elections seems rather significant.

Squeeze those bastards until they collapse. Don't let up. Don't save them. Smile and chat at the six-party talks, but give the North Koreans nothing of significance.

Grading the Global Test on a French Curve

When I wrote, at the conclusion of the Hizbollah War, that Israel had hammered Hizbollah but halted their attack in favor of counting on the UN to deliver ultimate victory by clearing southern Lebanon of terrorists, I was skeptical that this approach could succeed.

I didn't know the half of it:

Two weeks ago French Defense Minister Michele Alliot-Marie called the IAF's overflights of Lebanese airspace "extremely dangerous," and threatened that France's forces in Lebanon were liable to fire on the IAF flights "because they may be felt as hostile by forces of the coalition." By word and deed, UNIFIL forces are making clear that they view the IDF, not Hizbullah as their enemy. As they increase their provocations against Israel, UNIFIL forces turn a blind eye to weapons being smuggled daily to Hizbullah from Syria. Were Israel to attempt to take action against Hizbullah or Syria to prevent them from attacking in anticipation of an Israeli strike on Iran, there can be little doubt how UNIFIL would respond.

I thought I was being cynical to assume that the UN would merely be ineffective in protecting Israel. In retrospect, I don't understand how I could have failed to foresee that the UN would actually work against Israel and protect the terrorists.

I guess I was still giddy from passing that international test and seeing a few French engineers paddle ashore in Lebanon with the tricolors flying.

As I said, Israel will apply the lessons learned this summer in the next round.

EuroJazeera Press Release

Do opponents of our foreign policy think we have no historical memory?

Is this writer serious? Good grief. Where to start? Ok, let me just tackle the first outrage.

The Bush administration came into office in 2001 committed to reshaping the political map of the Middle East, which was suffering from authoritarian regimes, Islamic extremism, the conflict with Israel and sluggish economies.

The Bush administration came in not with grand designs for reordering the Middle East, but with the determination that we don't do nation-building. It was "compassionate conservatism" and a federal role in education that President Bush thought he would address in his tenure. He was acutely aware of his narrow electoral victory and failure to get a plurality of the votes in 2000 (which in our system is what counts. Remember that President Clinton never won a majority of votes cast in either of his wins.).

But three-thousand dead at the hands of al Qaeda murderers one fine morning five years ago (while he was in an elementary school and not at some Neo-Con think tank, if you will recall) ended his domestic-oriented presidency. Also dead in the rubble of the Pentagon, the Twin Towers, and a hitherto little-known location in Pennsylvania was the belief that so-called stability built on oppression can protect us from a nuclear 9/11 when jihadi fanaticism is fostered by that "stability.

Oh, and while you condemn the president for reacting to the world as it is rather than the world he hoped it would be, never ever remember that President Clinton signed the law making regime change in Iraq our official foreign policy. Funny how nobody recalls that legislation as a determination to reshape the political map of the Middle East. Or maybe not, now that I think about it. Who the Hell expected that president to take action when empty words could suffice--for awhile.

Sometimes the press just pisses me off.

Monday, October 30, 2006

We Must Fight With the Iraqis We Have

When Opinion Journal reports negative opinions of a sergeant, in a human intelligence collection unit serving in Iraq, he deserves to be heard. I disagree with much of what he writes, but his opinion should be addressed with the respect it deserves. Especially since he writes about how to win and not how to retreat without admitting we are retreating.

The sergeant writes about Iraqi security forces:

The Iraqi Security Forces (ISF)--a joint term referring to Iraqi army and Iraqi police--are so rife with corruption, insurgent sympathies and Shia militia members that they have zero effectiveness. Two Iraqi police brigades in Baghdad have been disbanded recently, and the general sentiment in our field is "Why stop there?" I can't tell you how many roadside bombs have been detonated against American forces within sight of ISF checkpoints. Faith in the Iraqi army is only slightly more justified than faith in the police--but even there, the problems of tribal loyalties, desertion, insufficient training, low morale and a failure to properly indoctrinate their soldiers results in a substandard, ineffective military. A lot of the problems are directly related to Arab culture, which traditionally doesn't see nepotism and graft as serious sins. Changing that is going to require a lot more than "benchmarks."

He also writes about how to fix this problem:

We need to backtrack. We need to publicly admit we're backtracking. This is the opening battle of the ideological struggle of the 21st century. We cannot afford to lose it because of political inconveniences. Reassert direct administration, put 400,000 to 500,000 American troops on the ground, disband most of the current Iraqi police and retrain and reindoctrinate the Iraqi army until it becomes a military that's fighting for a nation, not simply some sect or faction. Reassure the Iraqi people that we're going to provide them security and then follow through. Disarm the nation: Sunnis, Shias, militia groups, everyone. Issue national ID cards to everyone and control the movement of the population.

He also writes that problems aren't being reported up the chain of command:

Tell your American commanders that it's OK to pass up bad news--because part of the problem is that these issues are not reaching above the battalion or brigade level due to the can-do, make-it-happen culture indoctrinated into our U.S. officers. While the attitude is admirable, it also creates barriers to recognizing and dealing with on-the-ground realities.

These are serious problems he describes. One, the culture of Iraq is preventing the Iraqi security forces from fighting effectively. Two, we need to totally revamp our strategy and take over security until we can overcome the effects of local Arab culture on the Iraqi security forces. And third, American commanders don't report problems to senior commanders.

So what about this soldier's complaints and solutions?

Let's start with his solutions. Reimpose direct rule; put in up to half a million American troops; disband most of the Iraqi security forces and start over, instilling a sense of nationalism in the forces; reassure the Iraqis we will provide security and then do it; disarm all Iraqis of all weapons; register all people and control all movement in the country.

These are just ridiculous. Direct rule? So after promoting democracy we take it back? That will go over well. Just how do we instill nationalism in the Iraqis without inspiring nationalism to eject us as occupiers? Sure, it would be nice if we could recruit police and soldiers who felt more Iraqi than Shia, Sunni, or Kurd, but we might as well wish for a pony. When our people won't have the street sense to police Iraq, just how will we provide that security? I'm really fascinated to see how we will confiscate every weapon that Iraqis have--even those allowed for self defense. The terrorists and insurgents will have weapons but the people of Iraq won't be able to defend themselves when our troops aren't around to protect them? That will go over well, too, I dare say. And shutting down movement of people won't instill resentment! No way! This is an ideological struggle, the sergeant says, and yet we are to clamp down with direct rule and an American military campaign, and abolish the steps we've taken toward democracy.

Oh, and where do we get the 500,000 troops to occupy Iraq? And then rotate new troops in? For years?

As for the culture that is interfering with producing troops that are as effective as we'd like, the same culture produces soldiers and police all over the region that manage to police their people and suppress insurgencies. Saddam managed with an even worse culture to draw his troops from. And just what culture is the enemy drawing their terrorists and gunmen from? Vermont? The enemy has the same problem with the local culture as we do. This culture is just a fact of life to adapt to, and we can't just wish it away as something we can fix easily. The Iraqi army will never be as good as ours. Police will never be as effective as ours. But they are better than the enemy and so will win. That is the proper comparison--not comparing them to our troops.

I do worry that the sergeant's complaint that bad news doesn't reach the top. But is this true? I certainly have seen problems discussed up the wazoo in our press. How are these issues leaking out? Are our leaders truly ignorant of the problems even if middle level officers don't pass them up? Don't they see the news? Don't they ask questions?

Perhaps this is truly a problem. I hope not, since we must be able to adjust to bad news in order to win. But I'm not convinced this is actually the problem the sergeant says it is. His views on how to solve the problems we face are so unrealistic that I have difficulty taking this plausible complaint seriously.

I appreciate the sergeant's sacrifice of serving in Iraq to protect us. And I'm glad he wants to win. But I seriously disagree with his assessment of the problems and his proposed solutions.

We have to fight with the Iraqis we have and not the Iraqis we wish we had.

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Bundes Where?

Germany is returning to its Cold War role as a global player. During the Cold War, Germany played a global war because it was the battlefield on which America and the Soviet Union would have fought the main fight of World War III. The Germans had but to walk out their doors to participate in this global conflict.

With the fall of the Berlin Wall, the Fulda Gap was no longer the fulcrum upon which the world could have been moved. The world moved away. Germany did not, of course, so Germany lost its global role. To regain a global role, Germany now needs a military that can deploy globally.

The German military is being transformed from one that tries to be one big immovable mass of anti-tank attrition power as it was in the Cold War to a power projection force. Operations in Afghanistan are the most visible and kinetic of the modern missions that could become more common.

This white paper (via DID) describes the transformation. The Bundeswehr (army) in particular will be refocused:

The Army is the core of the land forces and the mainstay of land operations as well as operations conducted by airmobile and air mechanised forces. The Army is geared to meeting future operational challenges, thinks and acts jointly, and, within combined structures with allied nations, is a linchpin in the multinational cooperation of the Armed Forces.

More than before, the Army’s capabilities are being tailored to conflict prevention and crisis management, including the fight against international terrorism, as part of multinational operations. For this the Army provides response forces capable of rapid, robust reaction and network-enabled operations for missions involving high-intensity conflicts, as well as for operations of special and specialised forces. A modular and highly flexible system of stabilisation forces is available at the same time for deployments on medium- and low-intensity operations. Such operations determine the Army’s capabilities and structures, and they likewise determine equipment planning, leadership, education and training. Their warfighting capability is still the common basis for all the force categories.

The rapid-response force will be small, 35,000, and is for high-intensity, joint network-enabled operations, evacuation operations, and joint support. It will have two armor brigades under one divisional flag as its core combat units.

The stabilization force is a second tier force. It will be 70,000 strong and geared for joint force contingents for low- and medium-intensity operations overextended periods of time, spanning the broad spectrum of peace stabilisation measures. These will be capable of generating 14,000 troops at a time for deployment. It will have two divisions with one tank, two mechanized, and one mountain infantry brigades.

The remainder of the 252,500 troops (including 2,500 reservists) will support these two forces.

There are also special operations forces and two parachute brigades under one division and an airmobile brigade and miscellaneous troops under another division. It is not clear where these units fall under the concepts. They are not high intensity warfare units, but they can be used to support them; and they are surely higher caliber than the stabilization forces, though they can support them, too. Also, there are units that are part of the French-German brigade.

This is an amazing shrinkage from the Cold War German army, but it will create a force capable of deploying overseas and fighting with our troops.

After forty years of having a global role without thinking of themselves of having a global role (because their global role took place inside German territory), the Germans are taking small steps to fight with allies around the globe and reclaim their global role. Right now, relatively small forces out of the total deployed fight in Afghanistan under NATO in this reclaiming of Germany's former significant role.

The question remains, where will the Germans be willing to fight when this transformation is completed? And will Germany once again become a close ally of America's as we once were when Germans and Americans stood side-by-side along the inter-German border?

Kill Him Before He Dies on His Own

Saddam is still alive with the trials slowly moving forward.

His lead attorney, demonstrating touching interest in American interests, wrote to President Bush urging that Saddam not be executed:

"I warned him against the death penalty and against any other decision that would inflame a civil war in Iraq and send fire throughout the region," al-Dulaimi said in a telephone interview from Baghdad. He did not say when he sent the letter to Bush.

"Any foolish American decision will further complicate things and will pose a serious threat to U.S. interests in the region," al-Dulaimi said.

Of course, this is a sovereign Iraqi court so a letter to our president is little more than propaganda that denies the legitimacy of the Iraq government and court. So our president has not, I hope, answered this note. Just pass it along to the Iraqis without comment or toss in the garbage.

Really, though, if Saddam's attorney is so convinced that keeping Saddam alive is good for Iraq, good for the region, and good for us, I think we can all reasonably conclude that Saddam should be shot, hung, given a lethal injection, and then shot again. Just in case. His death will be good for Iraq, the region, and us.

Seriously, why is Saddam Hussein still alive nearly three years after we captured him? What about his guilt is still in question?

Saturday, October 28, 2006

What Will Progressives Fight For??

Our jihadi enemies are virtually a caricature of an evil enemy. James Bond battled enemies more sympathetic than our jihadi enemies.

I don't get why there isn't more enthusiasm among those on the left side of the aisle for the fight against Islamic fascism.

A leading Australian cleric, Sheik Taj Aldin al-Hilali, was caught in a moment of candor in a private sermon:

Australia's top Muslim cleric defied mounting pressure to step down for comments comparing women without head scarves to "uncovered meat," and suggested Friday that President Bush was more deserving of criticism for the bloodshed in Iraq.

Oh, wait, I get it. The jihadis may hate women, gays, lesbians, free speech, freedom, democracy, education, scientific progress, the arts, literature, poorly drawn cartoons, music, kite flying, and all the other things that inspire PBS pledge drives, but there is that one other part of what the jihadis and their Islamist enablers hate that explains all:

Asked if he would resign, al-Hilali, surrounded by a police guard outside the mosque, told reporters, "After we clean the world of the White House first." He did not elaborate.

The statement brought cheers and applause from the supporters who surrounded him.

Ah, right. That's what Progressives will fight for and lead them to cheer.

But even those Westerners who feel sympathy for what the cleric would like to clean up should read closely that the cleric said. He didn't apparently say he wants to "clean out" the White House. He said he wants to clean the world of the White House. Sounds like he wants either the literal destruction of the White House or, if used as a symbol, the destruction of America.

How totally evil does an enemy of America have to be to overcome the Left's hatred of President Bush?

These are our enemies. We must defeat them. Cure them of the desire for jihad or kill them so they cannot wage jihad, as we can, but we must defeat them one way or the other. What would it take to get the Left to want to win this war?

Maybe if we can prove the jihadis hate tote bags ...

UPDATE: Mark Steyn, too, wonders what will some of us fight for? He notes that the President commented that 25% of our people will always be anti-war--any war. Steyn comments:

Too many of us are only good at enjoying freedom. That war-is-never-the-answer 25 percent are in essence saying that there's nothing about America worth fighting for, and that, ultimately, the continuation of their society is a bet on the kindness of strangers -- on the goodnaturedness of Kim Jong Il and the mullahs and al-Qaida and what the president called "al-Qaida lookalikes and al-Qaida wannabes" and whatever nuclear combination thereof comes down the pike. Some of us don't reckon that's a good bet, and think America's arms-are-for-hugging crowd need to get real. Van den Boogaard's arms are likely to be doing rather less of their preferred form of hugging in the European twilight.

Yes, here in Ann Arbor a car with a bumper sticker that read "Already Against the Next War" went by me on the street recently. I'm reasonably sure my home city has more than 25% with this view, alas. That pretty much sums up some people's views. They may be against genocide in Darfur, but don't ask them to fight for it. In college, freeing East Timor was big among the lefties--but Americans fight for that? That would corrupt the idealism of the slogan. Free Tibet? That's great for bumper stickers but don't think they'd want to do anything about China which holds Tibet. The latest of course are those who demand, on TV commercials, that the Presdient stop the genocide in Darfur. Heaven forbid we should shoot somebody to achieve that goal, or those same people will be banging drums and waving papier mache puppets in an International ANSWER parade faster than you can say "Bushitler."

Seriously, is there anything some people here are willing to fight for? And why don't the jihadis have the same 25% handicap as we do? What I'd give for having 25% of the Moslem world unwilling to jihad for any reason at all.

Relatively Calm Night

The anniversary of last year's riots by young Moslem men in France has passed without too much mayhem:

"It was a relatively calm night," a police spokesman said. The interior ministry said there had been "few incidents".

A total of 277 vehicles were set on fire across the country, according to Le Monde newspaper, but the authorities refused to confirm the figure.

That figure was only three times higher than the number of vehicles torched on a normal day in France.

It is interesting that the car burnings are usually a little under one hundred per day. I have no idea how may cars are burned on a normal day in America so I guess I can't really say whether this is a case of denial or really relatively calm by rational standards.

Perhaps the French have avoided unpleasantness this year. I sincerely wish the French good luck on this.

Friday, October 27, 2006

Axis of El Vil Self Destruction

As long as Hugo Chavez is screwing up and alienating more people than he impresses, we should just ignore him and let him self destruct:

President Hugo Chavez of Venezuela loves to position himself as a champion of the oppressed, and enemy of the United States, and anyone who is cozy with the U.S. This annoys a lot of American, but observers inside Venezuela advise that if Chavez is just left alone, he'll pretty much self-destruct. Aside from a general loss of influence abroad due to his antics, he's having internal problems.

In the first half of the year, I wrote pretty much the same thing. Despite this measured advice, I admit I have vented about that charter member of the Axis of El Vil.

Business before pleasure, people. Even though it is tough to ignore the lunatic Hugo, unless he seriously turns himself into an actual threat rather than being a buffoon, we should just keep the JDAMs reserved for others.

Never Again Means Something

As much as some would like to avoid dealing with the threat of Iran with nukes, I don't think we have the option of figuring out how to accept and cope with a nuclear-armed Iran.

We in America may not blink when someone uses the Nazi comparison since it is done so much and with absolutely zero validity, but when the Israeli prime minister uses it, pay attention:

Israel has identified Iran as the greatest threat to the Jewish state. Israel's concerns have heightened since the election of Iran's hard-line president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who frequently calls for the destruction of Israel and has questioned whether the Nazi genocide of 6 million Jews took place.

"We hear echoes of those very voices that started to spread across the world in the 1930s," Olmert said in his speech at the Yad Vashem memorial.

This comparison is not being made lightly. If we don't do something about Iran, Israel will try to do something. And they can't strike Iran as effectively as we can, nor can Israel support a revolt. Which makes it even more important that we do the job our way to stop Iran under the mullahs from going nuclear.

To Israelis, never again means never again.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

We Aren't Fighting the Next War Yet

It is often said, a bit unfairly, that armies prepare to fight the last war rather than the next war. But armies do have to do what it takes to win the war they are in, and that can build up experience that becomes doctrine. Our Army is fighting a counter-insurgency instead of the force-on-force we trained for since 1975 and executed so well in 1991 and 2003.

Via Stand-To! is this article describing how the need to fight the current war is harming the ability of the Army to fight conventional high intensity battle:

Counterinsurgency "is all we can do right now," said Jack Keane, a four-star general who retired as vice chief of staff of the Army three years ago and serves on the Pentagon's Defense Policy Board. "There is no time to work on conventional [combat] operations or conventional campaign planning, so those skill sets among officers and senior NCOs in particular are atrophying. This is a serious issue."

This is a correct assessment and we would suffer if this Army has to fight a high intensity war in the near future.

But this is an improvement over the Vietnam War attitude expressed by one general who said he wasn't going to ruin the Army just to win that war. Our Army was ruined anyway for nearly a generation. The Army needs to fight and win the war it has and not the war it would like to have. And we are focusing on that.

Second, if some are right and nobody will ever confront us in conventional war and the Iraq and Afghanistan type of war is our lot for the future, the failure to train for force-on-force combat won't matter one bit. In this thinking, which has some support, we should be focusing on counter-insurgency anyway.

Now, I disagree with this thinking that says we are so dominant in conventional warfare that nobody will ever fight us that way again. So the deterioration of conventional combat skills concerns me. Indeed, a decade ago I wrote about the same problem in regard to preparing for peacekeeping type missions (In Army Magazine with "Peace Enforcement: The Mythical Mission.").

Now, more so than then, operations other than war make our units less capable of fighting battles against other conventional units in the short run.

But in the longer run, once counter-insurgency fighting is over and we can devote time to getting our units back into shape for conventional warfare, we will be training experienced and battle-tested officers and soldiers. Once we reset, our current fighting experience will pay off with troops who know what it is like to get shot at and who fought and won a war. As long as we return to serious training with OPFORs that are more skilled than any enemy we are likely to face, we will turn out just fine in regard to conventional warfare.

But in the meantime, as serious as the concern about conventional skills is, we have a war to win and we must focus on this opponent and not look ahead to the next. Losing would harm our Army far more than winning the "wrong" kind of war.

Uninterested in Winning (in Iraq)

The Left has long insisted that the President needs to admit mistakes about Iraq and redo our approach.

I personally think that tactics must change but the overall approach of standing up Iraqis is correct. Unfortunately, a well-financed and bloody insurgency by various groups is making the need for patience difficult to provide in order to apply the strategy long enough to win.

So, when the President retools some tactics, abandons the slogan "stay the course," but reaffirms the need to win by standing up the Iraqis, one would think that the Left would applaud such changes. Or at worst say the changes aren't enough to win. But you would be assuming that the Left wants America and the Iraqi government to win the war.

Instead, the changes described by the President are merely seized upon as proof that we are losing, that the President hasn't been forthright with the public, and that we should just extricate ourselves from this "mess" and come home.

This has been my basic problem with the complaints of the Left. Yes, they have the right to complain. (And conversely--this one is tougher for the Left to accept--those who disagree with the Left have the right to actually say the Left is wrong.) And yes, if there are problems I want to know about them. We can't adapt if we don't know that something isn't working. So even when I've disagreed with some conservative complaints (mostly on troop levels), I've taken them as sincere desires to correct perceived mistakes to win the war.

But I've always feared that Left complaints about the conduct of the war are not based on a desire to win the war but by a desire to win Washington, D.C. The glee that the Left is displaying while seizing on the mere retirement of a phrase that the Left itself has misinterpreted is proof enough to me that I am correct to mistrust the Left's complaints as merely partisan mudslinging. Even Secretary Rumsfeld addressed this:

"It's a political season and everyone's trying to make a little mischief out of this, and make, turn it into a political football," Rumsfeld said.

Actually, the complete ignorance of military matters that most on the Left display and the Left's failure to offer alternatives to their complaints have always been pretty solid proof of their lack of interest in winning.

But it is always nice to know for sure.

Then They Came for the Buses

Last year, Moslem rioters in France went after cars and torched them in large numbers.

As the new Moslem rioting season arrives, the rioters are apparently setting their sights on bigger targets:

Youths forced passengers off three buses and set them on fire overnight in suburban Paris, raising tensions Thursday ahead of the first anniversary of the riots that engulfed France's rundown, heavily immigrant neighborhoods.

The French have put 50,000 riot police on standby for an extended confrontation:

French authorities are keeping a force of some 50,000 riot police in permanent stand-by. A ministry spokesman said it is important to find “the good balance: not overreact to the situation, but at the same time, not underestimate it either.”

A local prefect (a provincial governor) added: “In case of trouble, we will have to be able to control events for a prolonged period without running out of forces.”

Perhaps we will get the answer to whether last year's riots over jobs rather than hijabs were Le Xington and Concorde, the mere prequel to wanting separation from the mother country, France.

Last year the Moslem rioters came for the cars and the French government did nothing. This year they are coming for the buses, it seems.

I wonder what the "immigrant youths" will torch next year?

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

No Rump Sunni Iraq

We should not partition Iraq.

Let me refer back to a post of over a year ago on this:

If central Iraq becomes a rump Sunni state, I believe that Sunni money would flow into it to keep the Iraqi Sunnis fighting the Shias. The wider Sunni Arab world was happy to let Iraqis die in the Iran-Iraq War to keep the Shia Persians at bay (and all the better that Iraqi Shias largely died doing it). The wider Arab world would be happy to send money and jihadi malcontents from their own countries to keep Iraq's Sunnis fighting the Iraqi Shias for another generation. If the Sunnis have to die for a Sunni Iraq, the rest of the Arab world won't cry one bit. And God knows what the Baathists buried in the deserts of western Iraq or the central Sunni areas. With money, the residual technical knowledge of the Sunnis remaining in the region, and whatever is hidden, death and destruction would flow from the Sunni Triangle.

We can't trust the Iraqi Sunnis alone without adult supervision for at least a generation. Saddam Hussein screwed them up that much.

This Is Working the Problem

All the recent talk of changing course in Iraq is ridiculous given that we are carrying out classic counter-insurgency by building up locals to fight the insurgents. We have about 685,000 Iraqi, American, Coalition, and contract security personnel in the field. The enemy cannot win against this if we just have some patience and let them work.

But the Panicky Americans of both sides of the aisle need a "change" fix and we may have provided it.

We won't have deadlines for our troops to leave but we will have deadlines for Iraqis to take responsibility for defeating the enemies inside Iraq:

"We are about 75 percent of the way through a three-step process in building those (Iraqi) forces. It is going to take another 12 to 18 months or so till I believe the Iraqi security forces are completely capable of taking over responsibility for their own security that's still coupled with some level of support from us," [General George] Casey said.

With violence in Iraq at staggering levels, the United States is battling on both the military and political fronts to tame growing chaos in regions where Sunni insurgent violence now is compounded by sectarian killing.

Khalilzad said the Iraqi government had agreed by the end of the year to develop a timeline for progress. At the same time, he declared, the United States needed to redouble its efforts to succeed in Iraq.

"Iraq leaders have agreed to a timeline for making the hard decisions needed to resolve these issues," Khalilzad said. "Iraqi leaders must step up to achieve key political and security milestones on which they've agreed."

As the Iraqis meet their timetables, we can then decide whether it is prudent to pull back troops rather than reversing the order and pulling back troops while compelling the Iraqis to succeed or die based on our deadlines.

If the Iraqis have trouble reaching these deadlines, we can focus our efforts on specific tasks for getting them to that benchmark, rather than just saying that overall the Iraqis aren't ready for us to leave.

And with the focus on Iraqi success, this approach denies the enemy cheap victories of declaring successes every time our strength in Iraq goes down.

It is--dare I say it--nuanced.

This is hopefully enough change to satisfy the edgy among us without distracting us from the persistence needed to defeat a well-funded and bloody-minded insurgency.

Monday, October 23, 2006

No Substitute for Victory

The President is trying to formulate a more sure path to victory in the face of Iraqi failures to end the Sunni insurgency:

"Our goal in Iraq is clear and unchanging: Our goal is victory," Bush said in his weekly radio address. "What is changing are the tactics we use to achieve that goal."

The President rightly is talking about tactics and not strategy. Victor Hanson notes:

We have the right strategy — birthing (through three elections already) an autonomous democracy; training an army subject to a civil government; and pledging support until it can protect its own constitutional government.

Few American officers are talking about perpetual occupation or even the need for more troops, but rather about the need for a lighter footprint, bolstered by teams of Special Forces and air support, to ensure Iraqi responsibility for their own future,. And the key to success — a diplomatic squeeze on the Sunnis to suppress terrorists in Nineveh and Anbar provinces in exchange for Shiite guarantees of more government inclusion — is now the acknowledged goal of both the Iraqi and American governments.

Calls to abandon Iraq and let them fight it out ignore that this is essentially a call for the destruction of Iraq's Sunni community and an invitation for Iran, Turkey, Syria, Jordan, and Saudi Arabia to openly fight inside Iraq in some sort of modern version of 1930s Spanish Civil War.

Calls to ramp up our troop strength ignore the historical lessons that recognize that civil strife is not solved by force unless you consider genocide an acceptable solution--certainly not by our forces. We can't sustain such an increase in the first place and more importantly, it won't defeat insurgents who draw support from some fraction of the population. And on top of it, it would Americanize the fight and reduce Iraqi incentives to take on more of the burden of winning.

Calls to just pull out to Okinawa or somewhere else "nearby" and just bomb any visible threats just guarantees a long war of bombardment and al Jazeera/CNN/BBC films of baby milk factories and puppy mills going up in flames. How long could even a friendly Iraqi government remain our friend if we bomb at will? Has our experience with Pakistan screaming about limited strikes on al Qaeda in Pakistan taught us nothing? Has Lebanon where Israel was condemned for bombing threats by Hizbollah in that country taught us nothing?

Helping Iraqis to fight on their own is both the most humane and moral strategy as well as the best strategy to win. As the AP article cited first notes:

On Friday, Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld said U.S. officials — Gen. George Casey, head of the U.S.-led Multinational Forces in Iraq, and U.S. ambassador to Iraq Zalmay Khalilzad among them — are working with the Iraqi government to develop projections as to when they think they can pass off various pieces of responsibility for security and governing.

The New York Times, in an article posted on its Web page Saturday, said a plan being formulated by Casey and Khalilzad would likely for the first time outline to Iraq milestones for disarming sectarian militias and meeting other political and economic goals. But it said the blueprint, to be presented to Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki by the end of this year, would not threaten Iraq with a withdrawal of U.S. troops.

Pushing Iraqis recognizes that our strategy as outlined by Hanson will be pushed forward. This is classic counter-insurgency, people. We are providing the military shield behind which political and economic progress can be made. Sadly, for these metrics to advance further, we have to rely more and more on the Iraqi government. The Maliki government is failing to make hard decisions and we need to get them to make those decisions--not make them for them.

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.

Work the problem, people. We were right to overthrow Saddam. We are right to fight for a democratic Iraq. And we will win this if we don't rush to perform mouth-to-mouth on the enemy so we can revive them enough to accept our sword in surrender.

UPDATE: Iraq Deputy Prime Minister Barham Salih tells us not to panic:

"I'm obviously concerned about the debate both in the U.S. and Europe, I have to say, because there is too much of a pessimistic tone to this debate -- even I would say in certain circles a defeatist tone," he told BBC radio.

"We need to be realist but not defeatist. We need to understand that there is a need of utmost urgency to deal with many of the problems of Iraq but we must not give in to panic."

Seriously, what is with so many people these days? We've isolated the jihadis, kept the Baathists from broadening their appeal to a national resistance, and have contained the Sadr boys somewhat. And while we've done this the government has built governing and security institutions from scratch, and has begun to rebuild Iraq's economy. Only Iran from the outside can derail the victory that is slowly accumulating (and remember that victory could come fast if political deals are made with the Sunnis and some of the radical Shias).

You don't have to ignore the ugly reality of fighting and winning a war against a brutal enemy to also see that we are winning.

Work the problems. Don't give in to panic.

300 Million--And Counting

We just welcomed our statistical 300 millionth citizen. Luckily this is just a statistical calculation because by the wailing and gnashing of teeth that is going on over this milestone, the poor tot would grow up saddled with the guilt of being a harbinger of doom and planetary suicide.

Mark Steyn is perplexed:

Last Tuesday morning, in a maternity ward somewhere in the United States, the 300 millionth American arrived. He or she got a marginally warmer welcome than Mark Foley turning up to hand out the prizes at junior high. One could have predicted the appalled editorials from European newspapers aghast at yet another addition to the swollen cohort of excess Americans consuming ever more of the planet's dwindling resources. And, when Canada's National Post announced "'Frightening' Surge Brings US To 300m People," you can appreciate their terror: the millions of Democrats who declared they were moving north after Bush's re-election must have placed incredible strain on Canada's highways, schools, trauma counselors, etc.

But the wee bairn might have expected a warmer welcome from his or her compatriots. Alas not. "Three hundred million seems to be greeted more with hand-wringing ambivalence than chest-thumping pride," observed the Washington Post, which inclines toward the former even on the best of days. No chest-thumping up in Vermont, either. "Organizations such as the Shelburne-based Population Media Center are marking the 300 million milestone with renewed warnings that world population growth is unsustainable," reported the Burlington Free Press. Across the country, the grim milestone prompted this reaction from a somber Dowell Myers. "At 300 million," noted the professor of urban planning and demography at the University of Southern California, "we are beginning to be crushed under the weight of our own quality-of-life degradation."

I recall reading a book written about 90 years ago. I think it was early 1914. This book predicted that at then-present growth rates, America would by 1970 have one billion people. And the author celebrated this qualified prediction with chest-thumping pride! And well he should have. One billion Americans producing and inventing as we do now would be far better for the world than 300 million Americans and 700 million still stuck in their countries of birth who never got the chance to become free, productive, and optimistic American citizens.

I don't get the pessimism over this event. How can you look at human history and not consider people an asset rather than a burden? I guess all the people who talk about how we must tax ourselves "for the children" don't really believe that the children are going to do anything much with that education and other support we provide.

Cheer up, people. And look forward to the day when we have 400 million people. Our quality of life will be more than merely a third better than today, I guarantee you that.

And welcome to America, little one! I'm proud you're here.

You aren't even crawling yet, but you're an American. So in twenty-five years, you'll be running past all those stagnating pessimists overseas. Go get 'em!

Iraq Insurgents Too Weak for Tet

All the talk of whether the Iraqi insurgent and terrorist groups will succeed in doing a "Tet" on us--breaking our morale by increasing attacks and exploiting media coverage to undermine that morale--neglects the fact that the North Vietnamese and VietCong weren't trying to undermine our home morale when they struck in January 1968.

The enemy in Vietnam was trying to win on the battlefield. They struck nationwide (for example, hitting 36 of 43 provincial capitals) in South Vietnam to spark an uprising against the South Vietnamese government. Eighty-four thousand troops were involved in this offensive. Eight enemy battalions occupied Hue and had to be dug out in a month of house-to-house fighting.

The result of the month-long offensive was that South Vietnamese did not rally to the communists, the South Vietnamese army rallied after being taken by surprise, the enemy lost 32,000 KIA and had 6,000 captured by our forces. We lost 2,000 KIA and South Vietnam also lost that amount.

It is only in retrospect that we call Tet a clever enemy victory that played on our home morale. But that was not the plan. The plan was to win on the battlefield by striking hard on a holiday. The target was South Vietnamese morale.

So when today we speak of whether the enemy is pulling a "Tet" on us and whether the prospect of perhaps more than 100 KIA this month indicates the enemy is succeeding in this, consider the vast difference from 1968 to 2006. The enemy isn't even trying to beat us in the field. They aren't trying to beat the Iraqi security forces. And they aren't trying to beat the Iraqi people. They are trying to beat the American people.

So instead of having a major military effort involving maneuvering battalions to strike us that unexpectedly turned into a propaganda victory as Tet was, the al Tet strategy of our enemy is skipping right to the propaganda aspect and we still see just IEDs and scattered small-scale ambushes. It cannot be glorified as an offensive by any stretch of the imagination.

Shouldn't it tell us something that the enemy can't even plan for a military victory and can only go for television victory?

Shouldn't we be ashamed to be a people who our enemies believe can be defeated this way?

Get a grip, people.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Long Live Mein Fuhrer?

This is about the most ignorant and repulsive thing I've heard all week (Ok, sure, it is only 12 hours old at this point so there is room for bigger idiocy from another senator.):

One day, Lugar said, "there will be an American president talking to the 'Great Leader' and his people and saying, in essence, in terms they can understand, 'We are not going to overthrow you; we are not involved in regime change; you're going to stay,'" Lugar said, referring to North Korean leader Kim Jong Il. "I hope it happens sooner rather than later."

So let's see, first he got the official title (well, one of them) of the Pillsbury Nuke Boy wrong. Kim Il Sung was the self-proclaimed "Great Leader" of North Korea. His son, the current nut-in-chief Kim Jong Il, is the self-proclaimed "Dear Leader." Kinder and gentler, I guess.

Second, why on Earth would a United States Senator use the term Kim Jong-Il demands his oppressed subjects use when referring to him? Would the good senator have talked about Adolph Hitler by using the term "Mein Fuhrer"?

And third, I cannot believe that an American senator would actually propose that we should tell such a bloody nutcase that their regime is safe. Have a nice long, sick, reign of killing, nuclear missiles, kidnapping, and starvation.

So anyone on the other side of the aisle want to top this one?

Standing On Their Own

We seem to be in a panic with talk of why the Iraqis are taking too long to stand up and deal with the insurgents on their own without our help. Talk of withdrawal deadlines are in the air again. The enemy draws encouragement of course, which is why I assume the military announced it is making plans for American troops to stay in Iraq at current levels for the next five years. It wasn't a confession of pessimism but a declaration to the enemy that we'll be right there killing your sorry asses for as long as you can take it.

Indeed, there has even been some talk about removing Maliki as prime minister! Whatever disappointments he has provided (and he has), how can we talk of removing an elected prime minister? If the Iraqis are unhappy, let them remove him. But polite realist circles here even discuss a coup led by the Iraqi army! Yet talking of regime change for brutal thugs like Ahmadinejad and Kim Jung-Il are out of bounds??!! A strange world, indeed.

So we must address the tactical problems of defeating the enemy. But let's be patient.

When some wonder about how long it will take Iraq--which is building a military from scratch--to be able to fight the enemy on their own, including logistics, training, firepower support, medical care, and all the other things that we take for granted, check this out in regard to our plans to turn over operational control of South Korean forces to South Korea near the end of 2009 at the earliest:

The transition will be based on a mutually agreed and reasoned plan. The Military Committee will report progress on the implementation of this plan annually to the SCM. Both sides agreed to begin immediately to develop a detailed joint implementation plan within the first half of 2007 in accordance with the agreed Roadmap. In noting the target year establishment, Secretary Rumsfeld offered assurance that the transition to a new command structure will be carried out while maintaining and enhancing deterrence on the Korean Peninsula and ROK-U.S. combined defense capabilities. He stated that the U.S. will continue to provide significant bridging capabilities until the ROK obtains a fully independent defense capability. The Secretary further noted that the U.S. will continue to contribute U.S. unique capabilities to the combined defense for the life of the Alliance.

After more than fifty years, the South Koreans still have gaps in their capabilities even though the South Koreans are prosperous, at peace, and technologically advanced.

And some capabilities, I'm assuming such things as nuclear weapons and deep precision strike capabilities, will remain exclusively our responsibility.

So stop whining about how "long" it is taking the Iraqis to take off their training wheels and fight without our aid. Work the problem. Don't panic. And remember that every day, Iraqi troops take on more and more of the burden of fighting.

It is unbecoming for the people of a great nation to look so hard for reasons to give up the most important struggle of our day.

Saturday, October 21, 2006

Almost 4th of July?

Instapundit notes the increasingly violent and confrontational actions of France's Moslems around Paris, quoting a New York Times article:

In fact, with the anniversary of those riots approaching, spiking violent crime statistics across the area suggest not only that things have not improved, but that they also may well have worsened. Residents and experts say that fault lines run even deeper than before and that widespread violence may flare up again at any moment.

A year ago, I wondered whether those riots would be noted for the beginnings of separatist thoughts by French Moslems:

In France, did we watch at Clichy-sous-Bois the "cars burned 'round the world," much as our first stand at Lexington Green was the "shot heard round the world?"
The question of whether these Moslems want jobs or hijabs is an open question. For now.

But I suspect that if this issue is still in doubt, it won't be long before lack of jobs aren't a reason for the rioting, but just another item in a long list of ever-changing (and always growing) "grievances" that inspire jihadis around the world to kill infidels.

Three Lessons

The Russians won't punish Iran to get them to halt their nuclear weapons programs. Said Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov:

"We won't be able to support and will oppose any attempts to use the Security Council to punish Iran or use Iran's program in order to promote the ideas of regime change there," Lavrov said Friday in an interview with the Kuwaiti News Agency KUNA which was posted on the Russian Foreign Ministry Web site Saturday.

In addition:

On Friday, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad called the U.N. Security Council and its decisions "illegitimate," saying the world body was being used as a political tool by Iran's enemies — the United States and Britain.

So we know that Russia will not allow the UN to be used to pressure Iran. We must act with a Coalition of the Willing--for sanctions or military actions, it is clear.

Second, we know that Iran isn't interested in cooperating with the UN. Although this lesson is somewhat hazier because Iran knows Russia and China will stop the UN from doing anything too tough. Iran's tough talk is easier since they know they won't have to back it up by enduring UN sanctions.

But we can also learn that Iranian bombast and defiance makes it easier for Russia to run interference. If the UN looks at Iran and thinks Iran won't be influenced by sanctions anyway, why get upset with Russia for blocking sanctions? Further, and my real point, is that we can probably conclude that real sanctions on Iran would probably hurt Iran a lot. Why else would Iran want Russia to stop sanctions? Why else would Russia think that it is helping Iran if sanctions would be ineffective?

So let's put sanctions on Iran outside the UN. Serious sanctions. Maybe some serious economic dislocations will get the Iranian people to seriously challenge the regime on a sustained basis. And if we are preparing some type of coup inside Iran (as I hope we are), we'd get support from the people of Iran to end their misery under the mullahs.

Lesson: You Can Never Partly Surrender

I think it is fair to say that Europeans as a group are hardly pro-Israeli. You'd have to be stark raving loony coo coo to believe that European policies and attitudes are in any way pro-Israeli or even more than marginally tolerant of Jews period.

Ahem. Iranian top thug Ahmadinejad vented a bit recently:

"You imposed a group of terrorists... on the region. It is in your own interest to distance yourself from these criminals... This is an ultimatum. Don't complain tomorrow."

The "ultimatum" was directed at European states in particular.

"We have advised the Europeans that the Americans are far away, but you are the neighbours of the nations in this region," Mr Ahmadinejad said.

"We inform you that the nations are like an ocean that is welling up, and if a storm begins, the dimensions will not stay limited to Palestine, and you may get hurt."

We may sell arms to Israel, back them in the UN, support them against enemies, and have generally positive opinions of Israel, but that is apparently not significantly different than European pro-Palestinian and anti-Semitic opinions, and policies that oppose Israeli policies if not their existence (for now).

So explain just how our policies on Israel and the Palestinians "cause" Moslems to hate us? Apparently, even having policies as sophisticated and nuanced as Europe's wouldn't help us one darn bit!

We may be the Great Satan but it is so much more convenient to strike the Closer Satans. Remember, we're all just infidels to the jihadis. Killing Europeans is just as satisfying as killing Americans--and so much easier to do, apparently.

Europe needs to join us fully in this war. It is their war, too, and the Europeans won't be able to live in their dream world forever. Not with nuts like Ahmadinejad around.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Waiting For the Next Step

North Korea tests a nuclear device and prepares for more tests (that it hopes work, I assume).

The UN Security Council passes a resolution demanding North Korea halt this business and opens the way for America to intercept North Korean ships to search for nukes.

It is interesting to see the players taking actions in regard to North Korea.

China has sent an envoy to discuss the situation with North Korea:

The Chinese mission met with reclusive North Korean leader Kim Jong Il and delivered a message from China's president, Hu Jintao, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Liu Jianchao told reporters in Beijing.

We are going out of our way to say talks with North Korea aren't ruled out:

"We want to leave open the path of negotiation. We don't want the crisis to escalate," Rice told reporters, adding that she hoped the Chinese mission was successful in getting Pyongyang to scuttle its nuclear program.

Although our willingness to talk is accompanied by threats if North Korea does more:

In Washington, Bush told ABC News that if the U.S. learned North Korea was about to transfer nuclear technology to others, the communist nation would face "a grave consequence." He did not elaborate.

As I noted earlier, we have also reassured the Japanese by pledging our nuclear arsenal on behalf of Japan, which led Japan to squelch speculation that Japan might go nuclear:

While visiting Tokyo on Wednesday, Rice said the U.S. was willing to use its full military might to defend Japan in light of the North's nuclear test. She also sought to assure Asian countries there is no need to jump into a nuclear arms race.

Japanese Foreign Minister Taro Aso drew a firm line against his nation developing a nuclear bomb, after he met with Rice on Wednesday in Tokyo.

The South Koreans, who have faced the prospect of Seoul being destroyed whether North Korea has nukes or not, are willing to apply a little pressure to forestall more nuke talks:

South Korea's Yonhap news agency reported that Seoul would bolster inspections of cargo heading to North Korea and halt subsidies to a joint tourism project in the North.

Yet South Korea doesn't want to aggravate the situation. No doubt.

It strikes me that these are all just short-term holding actions taken as interim measures. None of these measures can really solve the problem.

Unless North Korea halts nuclear work, Japan will go nuclear, screwing up China. South Korean and Taiwanes nukes will probably follow shortly thereafter. There goes the Chinese neighborhood, eh?

North Korea will continue to deteriorate and will either collapse and cost South Korea hundreds of billions of dollars to fix or Pyongyang will destroy Seoul in a final lashing out before collapsing in the hope of extorting money to save themselves.

Japan will face a new decision to go nuclear once North Korea can target America with nuclear missiles which would mean Japan can't quite count on us to risk Seattle for the sake of Tokyo.

America will find that we can't seal off North Korea nuclear exports for long if all it takes is an internet connection or a lap top computer to send workable bomb plans to terrorists.

So we are all trying to keep the situation from getting worse in the short run while realizing that the current path won't solve any of our problems for long. We all need to do something new. And the most likely solution is regime change in Pyongyang led by pro-Chinese North Koreans and supported by China.

China will get a pro-Chinese regime and so won't face the prospect of American troops on the south side of the Yalu in a unified democratic Korea. China could also enforce the border and keep out refugees by making sure North Korea starts on the China path of dictatorship plus capitalism. The Chinese may have practiced invading North Korea.

South Korea gets to keep North Korea separate and finally get a gradually improving North Korea that might in fifty years catch up economically with South Korea. And with a new focus in Pyongyang, South Korea could see the nuclear and conventional threat to them evaporate.

Japan will not have its cities under threat, will get answers about kidnapped Japanese citizens, and won't have to make the wrenching choice of going nuclear.

We will get a North Korea out of the nuclear sales business and keep our cities safe from North Korean nuclear missiles that won't be built. Plus we could probably withdraw our last Army combat brigade from South Korea, leaving only air power and support units in place.

The North Korean people won't be free, but if we can't get cooperation to actually free North Korea, a less oppressed and starved North Korea is better for North Koreans than the current regime.

China has to be sure that Kim won't halt his nuclear work to go forward with this radical departure from their long policy of supporting North Korea. I sincerely doubt that China will be reassured in the status quo by their visit to the Pillsbury Nuke Boy.

I still think partitioning North Korea would work better with the rump North Korea behaving more like China, but an economically developing North Korea under Chinese domination is better than a nutcase North Korea developing nuclear weapons that is a friend of China.

It seems that North Korea's test has made it clear to other nations that North Korea can't be allowed to continue on as it has been.

So when does the North Korea coup begin?

UPDATE: North Korea, too, has taken a short-term holding action to head off crisis:

Kim told Chinese State Councilor Tang Jiaxuan that "we have no plans for additional nuclear tests," Yonhap news agency reported, citing an unnamed diplomatic source in Beijing.

Kim also told the Chinese that "he is sorry about the nuclear test," the mass-circulation Chosun Ilbo daily reported, citing a diplomatic source in China. The North Korean leader also raised the possibility the country would return to arms talks.

North Korea wants nukes and the money that comes from threatening to use those nukes or sell them. But perhaps China's threats to (presumably) overthrow the regime--if rumors are to be believed--led Kim Jong-Il to pull back a bit and look to the short term while preparing for a real solution to his problem.

Just like everyone is doing.

Well, I don't know how Russia fits in. But really, they are involved by courtesy only.

Good Idea. It Won't Solve the Problem They Want to Fix

This article by Max Boot and Michael O'Hanlon calls for recruiting an American Foreign Legion by recruiting foreigners into our military with citizenship as the reward:

We could solve the No. 1 problem facing the Army and Marine Corps: the fact that these services need to grow to meet current commitments yet cannot easily do so (absent a draft) given the current recruiting environment.

Boot has called for this more than a year ago. It is puzzling since we already recruit foreigners. We have about 35,000 foreigners on active duty in our military. Boot and O'Hanlon aren't calling for separate foreign units so I don't know what they want that we aren't doing.

Since we are actually meeting our recruiting goals I don't know how their proposal helps.

Nor can even adding 150,000 foreign recruits over the next three years help with anything other than the lowest ranks. This would have very little impact on our NCO and officer corps over the next decade and zero impact in the next four years.

If they are saying recruit foreigners to increase our end strength, why not simply call for an increase in our end strength? Why advocate recruiting only foreigners for that extra amount? If we need a larger Army and Marine Corps, we should simply increase the end strength and recruit citizens or foreigners as we do now. The relatively small numbers they are talking about for foreign recruiting aren't so great that we couldn't raise incentives and recruiting to reach it with a combination of recruiting foreigners and citizens. The idea we need a draft for fifty thousand more recruits per year is hardly a given as far as I'm concerned.

I guess I can't oppose recruiting foreigners since I called for a Liberty Corps program some time ago to do exactly this (and first entertained this thought over a year ago in reaction to Boot's article and others at the time). As I wrote about the Libery Corps:

If we can't get full commitment to fight at our side by more nations, lets get their willing citizens to join us. We already are moving toward seeing our enemies and potential enemies as sub-national entities rather than relying on the the outlook of the old Westphalian system of nation-states as the basic unit of international relations. Why not see our allies and potential allies that way, too?

Since Americans purportedly flee abroad (though our Hollywood types annoyingly remain despite promises) to live in a country more in tune with their beliefs, couldn't we host foreigners who wish to fight for our common freedoms and civilization despite their home governments' disinclination to fight?

This would also be a nice counter to the UN worship that some "citizens of the world" are prone to. Let's welcome Citizens of the West to our shores--and our military. We are in an ideological struggle and it isn't just for the hearts and minds of the Moslem world as we struggle to keep the jihadis from having the Moslem world's support. We need to struggle for the hearts and minds of Westerners so we will defend our common Western heritage.

It would be good to get those who would defend freedom in uniform no matter where they come from. Our enemies recruit from any Moslem area. We certainly should recruit from any place that makes men who want to be free and reward such men with citizenship.

But I don't get how the proposal given solves the problem of stress on our military. The Boot/O'Hanlon proposal makes absolutely no sense in that regard.

The Coming War?

This article (via Real Clear Politics) says that Israel is faced with a new war soon and notes ominous developments in Lebanon, Syria, and Iran to bolster the view.

With all the talk of Tet lately regarding Iraq, could we be missing a bigger plan by the Syrian-Iranian alliance? And is the Israeli author failing to see the real target of the developments noted?

Pure speculation, but what if Hizbollah hits Israel again while Syria invades Golan?

And in Iraq, Shias under Sadr and other Iranian puppets rise up in solidarity with Lebanese Shias fighting the Jews.

Then Iran invades Iraq to support the Shia puppet revolt in Iraq, claiming they are simply on their way to hit Israel (as the Iranians claimed for every offensive in the Iran-Iraq War).

Oh, and Iranian agents whip up trouble in Kuwait for an added distraction.

If really ambitious, Iran might try for a coup in Jordan.

And attempt to block the Strait of Hormuz.

Such an ambitious offensive would create a crisis from the Mediterranean Sea to the Persian Gulf and make just supplying our forces in Iraq difficult.

I think we are winning in Iraq. And if the Iranians and Syrians agree with this assessment despite their rhetoric that they will win, they might want to up the ante to reverse our trends. And if they think they are next after Iraq is subdued, they may want to strike first before we do.

It is always a danger to underestimate your enemies. Our enemies want to win and we can't count on them to just go along with our victory. If our enemies are willing to gamble (or perhaps think God's will makes it a certainty rather than a gamble) or are desperate enough, might they not go for broke to try and break us in the whole Middle East rather than just in Iraq?

Something to think about though I admit this is pure worst case speculation on my part. And even if Iran and their allies tried something like this doesn't mean all or even any of it would work.

And also consider that we would never allow an army of 140,000 to be destroyed. We'd use nukes first, I guarantee it, before we'd allow that army to wither from lack of supplies.

Still, I hope CENTCOM has gamed such worst-case scenarios.

Yep, I picked the wrong week to quit sniffing glue.

UPDATE: Strategypage notes that Iran has been very busy preparing to stir up trouble among the Shias in Arab Gulf states:

Arab governments have been looking hard for Iranian plots in the last year, and they have been finding them. At first, it appeared to be the usual Iranian support for their fellow Shia. But more extensive pro-Iranian Shia networks have been detected, and it appears that Iran has some big plans, which may, or may not, have been compromised.

Iran tried this in Bahrain in the Iran-Iraq War, too.

So what is Iran up to?

Fear Itself

I've often felt that the Left's fear of dictatorship in this country is just plain odd given that there are no actual camps for dissidents and that dissent is alive and flourishing with even "art" about killing a president not out of bounds.

But one thing the Left always had was Ari Fleischer's chilling words just after 9/11 to shut the ef up and get with the administration program--or else. You remember the words reported, I'm sure, that Americans need to "watch what they say."

It always seemed rather childish to assume that this was meant to stifle dissent. And even more childish to assume that it has worked even if intended that way.

But it is worse than silly. It is absolutely wrong in recalling what Fleischer actually said! And I'm appalled that I never realized just how badly this episode has become part of the conventional wisdom of the Long War.

Christopher Hitchens corrects the record. By reading the context of the "watch what you say" remark, it is clear that Fleisher is referring both to the Bill Mauer comments on "brave" suicide bombers flying into our buildings as well as a Republican who crudely talked of checking out people wearing "diapers" on their heads. Concludes Hitchens:

Is it not absolutely and glaringly obvious, from these exchanges, that the second reply from Fleischer is a direct reference back to his first one, which itself consists of a mild rebuke to a crass remark made by a Republican Congressman? No more is being urged, in either case, than a politically correct respect for civility in a rather testing time.

The Press screwed up reporting on a press conference that they were present for! Is it any wonder the press can't report on the war with any competence?

So dissent is safe. And always has been. So if you are still seized with fear every time you go to an organic food market, straighten up and buy that tofu product safe in the knowledge that you really don't need to watch what you say if you really don't want to. We don't in fact live in the Bushtatorship of your self-inflicted fears.

My God, our press corps collectively couldn't pour piss out of a boot if the instructions were written on the heel.

The Missing Ingredient

Our losses this month are higher and could be one of the worst months for casualties in the insurgency period.

Are we experiencing a Tet moment when enemy attacks lead us to conclude the Iraq War is lost?

Clearly not. I don't need to even go into combat intensity to conclude this.

In 1968, the press was reporting our military's success in our fight, so the fact that the enemy could mount a large coordinated offensive despite the appearance ov winning--even an offensive that was decisively smashed--could be portayed as a shocking reversal of the conventional wisdom.

Today, the press portrays Iraq as an ongoing and worsening disaster. So how could our people be shocked by any enemy attack inside Iraq? If we had a press corps that acted like it had any interest at all in our victory, perhaps an al-Tet offensive could crumble our morale. But we don't have that press corps.

Really, we are more likely to see a reverse Tet after the enemy is subdued in Iraq and the Left wonders how we won when everyone in the press told them the war was doomed and lost.

UPDATE: John Keegan provides the slap down on Tet comparisons. Although unfortunately he fails to see the extemely limited way that President Bush compared Tet to today. (The enemy wants to influence our domestic politics. Although in the actual 1968 Tet the enemy tried to win militarily and only recognized their victory on the domestic front later.)

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Facts and Truth

Unfortunately, October is shaping up to be a deadly month for American troops in Iraq. With our forces at a higher level and more aggressive seeking out the enemy, this is tragic but to be expected:

The U.S. military reported Wednesday that 10 American troops had been killed the day before, raising the death toll so far this month to 69 and putting October on track to be the deadliest month for coalition forces since January 2005.

So far, nothing to complain about in the article. The casualties are real so there is nothing to do but report on it.

Note also this conclusion, however:

According to an Associated Press count, October also is on the way to being the deadliest month for Iraqis since the AP began tracking deaths in April 2005. In October, 767 Iraqis have been killed in war-related violence, an average of 45 every day.

That would be nearly 1400 for the month of October if this trend continues. Is this evidence of mounting civilian casualties? Our military casualties could be quite high at this rate, but is it also safe to extend this conclustion to civilians?

Let's look at Strategypage's assessment:

Iraqi deaths (civilians and security forces) are down about 40 percent from the September rate. Last month, there were nearly 4,000 civilian and security force deaths (plus 76 Americans, a steady increase from the July low of 46.) Like lights going out on a Christmas tree, the Sunni Arab suicide bomber cells are being taken down. The anti-terrorist tribal alliance in Anbar province has forced terrorists to concentrate on defending themselves. These defensive operations are carried out by directing attacks against tribal militia, or U.S. troops that are assisting. Rather than drive into Baghdad (which is not as easy as it used to be, what with all the additional roadblocks and security checks), the Islamic terrorists can now set up roadside bombs in their own neighborhoods, which are now patrolled by U.S. troops.

Note that Strategypage isn't hiding US deaths. But they note that Iraqi deaths are down 40% from last month's rate. They didn't compare them to April 2005. We all know that civilian casualties are up since the spring Golden Dome mosque bombing in Samarra. What is happening lately is more important. (And as an aside, who is dying is important. How many are victims of Sunnis and how many victims of Shias--which would mean a counter-terror terror campaign rather than an increase in the original terror campaign.)

Plus, Strategypage puts our casualties in the context of our successes in keeping terrorists from killing civilians at last month's rate.

The article seems to have accurately reported US military casualties but made a comparison of civilian deaths that is not terribly relevant to the conclusion that violence is rising. Plus there is the total lack of context. So even without falsifying the basic facts, the truth is not quite part of this article, it seems.

But we have to fight a war with the press we have--not the press we wish we had. Pity.

We Had A Plan--A Plan to Fail

This article says we had a plan for the post-war in Iraq but that Rumsfeld shut it down:

Garner drew up detailed plans and, at his first briefing with President Bush, outlined three essential "musts" that would, he asserted, ensure a smooth transition after the war. The first "must", he said, was that the Iraqi military should not be disbanded. The second "must" was that the 50,000-strong Ba'ath party machine that ran government services should not be broken up or its members proscribed. If either were to happen, he warned, there would be chaos compounded by thousands of unemployed, armed Iraqis running around. And the third "must", he insisted, was that an interim Iraqi leadership group, eager to help the United States administer the country in the short term, should be kept on-side.

Well, I won't comment on the last one because I have no idea what the British term "on-side" means. Does it mean put it in place? Keep it ready but out of sight? If the former, I'll grant that we should have done that. Iraqis should have been giving briefings from early on. But if keeping authority in our hands was a mistake, recall that opponents of the war wanted the transfer of sovereignty to the Iraqis delayed every time a deadline came up--whether for interim appointed authority, voting for an interim government, or voting on a constitution.

But the first two are clearly just bad ideas. How could we appeal to Shias if we had kept the Baathist government machinery in place? How could we keep the Baathist military intact when it was not trustworthy and the insturment of oppressing and slaughering the Kurds and Shias?

How much worse would spring 2004 have been if the Shias had been alienated from us by these policies in "the plan" just as the enemy counter-offensive began? Baathist-run agencies would have openly delcared for the insurgents and Shias would have rallied to Sadr. It would have been a revolt on the order of the Sepoy Mutiny (at the time, because it was not a wide revolt, I wrote that people should calm down because it was not the Sepoy Mutiny of 2004).

Just because we had a "plan" doesn't mean we had a good plan. I know some of us have elevated the concept of the perfect plan to a fifth Gospel, but I'm glad we junked the plan described.

The plan was always to destroy the Baathist government--not to send the Baathists to sensitivity training and tell them to sin no more.

UPDATE: A longer critique of the charge that de-Baathification was a mistake.

No! No! No! No!

Numbers. Numbers of troops. The number of troops in Iraq, in particular. Once again with feeling, I guess.

I have to comment on yet another article claiming we've had too few troops in Iraq since day one. And all wrong. Let's read:

In April 2003, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld's three-division, invasion-lite force was too small to impose order across Iraq, or even in Baghdad, after Saddam Hussein's army and regime collapsed in three weeks.

Not even close to being on the mark. We did not invade with three divisions. We invaded with 3rd ID, I MEF, and a British division as the major headquarters. But we had about (from memory) 28 Army line battalions, 32 Marine line battalions, and 10 British line battalions. These 70 battalions represented the front-line strength equivalent of seven divisions. We replaced support units with air power and near-just-in-time logistics that eliminated the need for lots of separate artillery and logistics units. I think we had close to 180,000 troops in Iraq and Kuwait for the invasion, if I recall correctly. We could have put 100,000 troops in the Sunni neighborhoods and had 2% of the 5 million Sunnis in security strength. Since the Shias needed less policing we could have pumped tens of thousands more into the Sunni area to increase the numbers.

Really, any failure was the failure to clamp down hard by shooting looters and arresting military age men with short hair. And creating a proper counter-insurgency force from the start rather than focusing on making a small conventional force to serve as a cadre for a new army to protect Iraq from foreign invasion. I think we had some reason to do this, but in hindsight it was a mistake.

The article goes on in time:

Through the remainder of 2003, there were too few American troops to snuff out a belatedly recognized Sunni insurgency before it grew big enough to endure – for years.

One must ignore that beginning in the fall of 2003, we did grind down the Baathist insurgency through February 2004 with our troops and the poorly trained Iraqis we organized to police in a lower threat environment.

The problem was that Syria began to support Sunni jihadi insurgents in the west and Iran started to support Shia thugs in the south and center. This was not a numbers problem but a diplomacy problem. Far from fearing they were "next" on our hit parade, Damascus and Tehran felt secure enought to wage war against us.

In the following year, the article says we were short of troops:

From 2004 through 2005, there were never enough American troops in Iraq to implement a full-scale clear-and-hold strategy, sometimes dubbed “spreading ink spots,” the only proven way to defeat an entrenched insurgency.
Well, in spring 2004, we did have too few troops because the thinly trained and led Iraqi troops we'd formed up to then weren't up to facing determined insurgent and terrorist attacks. Half dissolved in the enemy counter-attack.

But we did blunt the enemy offensives with the troops on hand and denied them a national uprising. The Shias stuck with us and reacted to Sunni terror by coming off the fence in large numbers to back our efforts. And we counter-attacked eventually, first against Sadr and then against Fallujah. In the big picture, the problem wasn't so much lack of troops but unGodly amounts of money and arms available to the enemy inside Iraq.

And the writer says we still lack troops:

Now, in 2006, the insurgency is compounded by Sunni-versus-Shiite mayhem that is killing thousands of Iraqis, mostly civilians, each month. Again, the 140,000 American troops now in Iraq are too few to accomplish the multiple tasks at hand: Provide security in conflict areas, defeat the insurgency with offensive operations and dampen Iraq's murderous civil strife.

On this last point in time, why is the author only counting American troops and debating whether 140,000 are enough? Why aren't we discussing the more than 650,000 total troops available for the counter-insurgency? Are American troops the only ones capable of putting down an insurgency? This will come as a shock to nations around the world that fight and suppress insurgencies all the time.

And when the key to ending the insurgency is the political and economic side, why the myopia of whether 20,000 more American troops will win the war? They won't.

I am not persuaded that we did not have enough troops to invade and pacify Iraq. The fact that we have blunted Shia and Sunni and foreign jihadi insurgencies should be pretty clear proof of that.

The higher civilian deaths the last half year are not from a surging insurgency. This is a problem of Shias taking revenge on Sunnis and Sunnis killing Shias at higher levels. It is a completely different problem we have faced since the Samarra mosque bombing and unless the Iraqis can solve this problem there is no way we can stop 20 million people from killing each other at a price we could pay. This concept sounds a lot like the mid-1990s theory of peace enforcement (Not the Chapter VII kind) where violence is the enemy and not any particular side in a war. Do we really want to say our military is for snuffing out all violence? Now that would be a quagmire.

In large measure, the increase in civilian casualties stems from Iraqi Shias striking at Sunnis in revenge atrocities. It doesn't mean that the Sunnis are stronger. If someone keeps hitting you once per day, if you start hitting back twice each day after taking it on the chin for months, would it be fair to say that violence has tripled? Clearly not.

All our military can do is buy time by killing the enemy and atomizing them while we train a government and security apparatus that can grind down the enemy that won't give up while gaining defections from the less committed insurgents. We are doing this. Slowly. So have patience.

This Was a Cheap Purchase

Unless we can overthrow the regime of Kim Jong-Il (either by collapsing the regime by strangling it or from a pro-Chinese coup), it is likely that dominoes will fall in Asia as Japan and then South Korea and Taiwan go nuclear in response to North Korea's looming nuclear arsenal.

In an effort to buy time, the United States has reaffirmed our nuclear umbrella over Japan. Secretary of State Rice was clear:

"The United States has the will and the capability to meet the full range, and I underscore full range, of its deterrent and security commitments to Japan," Rice told a news conference in Tokyo, the first stop on a tour of North Asia.

The Japanese responded:

Japan, a traditional target of Pyongyang's animosity, has seen debate increase over whether to acquire nuclear arms. But Foreign Minister Taro Aso reiterated Tokyo had "absolutely no intentions now of preparing to possess nuclear weapons."

"There is no need to have nuclear weapons as the Japan-U.S. security framework will be activated for the defense of Japan," he said. "And Secretary Rice has just reconfirmed that."

So, by publicly pledging to nuke North Korea if North Korea hits Japan with nuclear weapons, Japan has indicated that it is satisfied with our nuclear guarantee and so will not pursue nuclear weapons in response. This buys time to end the catalyst for all the nuclear talk.

But this was a cheap purchase. North Korea can't yet put a nuclear warhead on a missile that can hit us (and probably can't hit Japan either, yet), so we can pledge to nuke Pyongyang without worrying about a nuclear attack on our territory.

But what happens when North Korea does demonstrate the ability to fire a missile that can reach as far as our West Coast (not to mention the closer Guam, Alaska, and Hawaii)?

Then our pledge to respond to a North Korean nuclear strike on Japan gets much weaker. When that day happens, Japan will find that they do indeed need nuclear weapons that they themselves can use to threaten a nuclear response to a North Korean attack.

But we did buy some time to end the Pillsbury Nuke Boy's regime. That is the only solution, really, to stop a nuclear arms race in Asia and to prevent North Korea from selling nuclear missiles or bombs (or just the designs) to others.

Monday, October 16, 2006

Come On, Four!

Via Instapundit, the Chinese are apparently considering regime change in North Korea.

And the Chinese are recalling three military incidents against Kim Jong-Il:

In 1996, the Sixth Field Army was planning to revolt but the scheme was betrayed by a new commander. One or two plotters got away but Kim Jong-il's personal guards arrested senior officers and the Sixth Field Army's political commissars.

On March 12, 1998, Kim suddenly announced a martial law "exercise" in Pyongyang and there was gunfire in the streets of the city. The Chinese later learned that two ministries were involved in a coup attempt, and that more than 20 ministerial-level officials were killed after it was crushed.

In October 1999, a company of the Third Field Army rebelled in dissatisfaction over grain distribution during the nation's prolonged famine, which may have killed a million people.

Like I said, the North Korean People's Army might yet remember that they are supposed to defend the people--not the psycho regime of Kim Jong-Il who seems determined to take the nation on a Viking funeral ride. And with the army downgraded in favor of spooks and nukes, the army might want to bump off the head thug for their own preservation.

And if China is seriously thinking regime change, things could get much better.

Really, even a North Korea under just a normal dictator would be an improvement over the current nut regime. If China can engineer such a coup, let's not make the perfect the enemy of the good--or even the better, which I suppose is a more accurate way to describe a pro-Chinese authoritarian regime that wants to reform the economy.

Our main problem consists of jihadis and jihadi states who might have nukes. If a coup gets North Korea out of the nuclear business, I'll be happy in Northeast Asia for a good decade or more. And our war against jihadis will have gotten much safer to wage.