Saturday, March 31, 2007

Sacrificing the Truth

One thing that never fails to anger me about some on the anti-war side is their allegation that Iraqis aren't sacrificing to win this war and that we should pull out and let those lazy cowards fight their own war.

Of course, this forces the anti-war politicians to ignore the sacrifice that Iraqi civilians endure as targets of our enemies--a death toll the anti-war legion trumpets as proof of the futility of fighting.

But most importantly, the charge that Americans fight and die while Iraqis do not is simply a lie at worst or ignorant at best. The headline screams that the American death toll in March is "nearly twice" the Iraqi military's toll but that is terribly misleading. The article is factual enough:

The Associated Press count of U.S. military deaths for the month was 81, including a soldier who died from non-combat causes Saturday. Figures compiled from officials in the Iraqi ministries of Defense, Health and Interior showed the Iraqi military toll was 44. The Iraqi figures showed that 165 Iraqi police were killed in March. Many of the police serve in paramilitary units.

So there you go. Eighty-one American soldiers, 44 Iraqi military personnel, and 165 Iraqi police died in March fighting the enemy. The Iraqi security forces lost 2-1/2 times as many troops as we lost.

And the civilians of course (though some portion of that represents insurgent and terrorist enemies):

Additionally, the Iraqi ministry figures listed 1,872 Iraqi civilian deaths for the month, about 300 more than the AP tabulation, which is mainly gathered from daily police reports nationwide.

The civilian death toll for the month was down significantly from 2,172 in December, the highest month casualty figure since the AP began keeping records of civilian deaths in April 2005.

However, the number of civilians killed in March was in the same range as for the first two months of this year; 1,604 in January and 1,552 in February, according to the AP count.

The anti-war politicians must sacrifice the truth to charge the Iraqis are not fighting and dying at our side to defeat enemies who sacrifice children, slaughter innocents, behead, and use poison gas.

The Iraqis are sacrificing to win a future for themselves. We must not abandon them.

And remember, as long as we are fighting the enemy over there, Iraqis are fighting at our side. Who would fight at our side here against the jihadis?


The risk we are taking by seeming to take over security duties in Shia neighborhoods from militias was on display with heavy Shia losses to Sunni car bombs:

The radical cleric Muqtada al-Sadr issued a scathing attack on the United States on Friday, following one of the country's bloodiest days, blaming Washington for Iraq's troubles and calling for a mass demonstration April 9 — the fourth anniversary of the fall of Baghdad.

As al-Sadr's remarks were read in a mosque, Shiites in Baghdad loaded wooden coffins into vans and shoveled broken glass and other debris into wheelbarrows in the aftermath of a double suicide bombing at a marketplace. At least 181 people were killed or found dead Thursday as Sunni insurgents apparently stepped up their campaign of bombings to derail the seven-week-old security sweep in Baghdad.

This is the risk of making us responsible for every blast. We need to pull in the non-death squad Shia militias and put part of the responsibility on them, as local defense forces, for securing Shia neighborhoods.

Despite initial success in reducing violence, I remain very troubled by this metric in judging the success of the surge.


The Iranians continue to hold fifteen British military personnel and feel no shame, as Ahmadinejad shows:

"The British occupier forces did trespass our waters. Our border guards detained them with skill and bravery. But arrogant powers, because of their arrogant and selfish spirit, are claiming otherwise," IRNA quoted Ahmadinejad as saying during a speech in the southeastern city of Andinmeshk.

"Instead of apologizing over trespassing by British forces, the world arrogant powers issue statements and deliver speeches," Ahmadinejad told the crowd celebrating the Persian New Year holiday, IRNA said.

The British seem determined to let the UN solve this problem:

Britain has frozen most contacts with Iran and referred the issue to the U.N. Security Council, which expressed "grave concern" on Thursday over Iran's seizure last week of the Britons.

I'm sure the UN can get Iran to release fifteen hostages. I mean, the UN has done so much in regard to solving the far bigger problem of Iran's nuclear ambitions.

And if I'm not obvious enough, I'm not terribly confident that the UN can help.

As an aside, I thought the Iranian new year was a week ago?

Friday, March 30, 2007

Dull Tip of the Spear?

Our European Command commander thinks we have too few Army troops stationed in Europe to accomplish its missions:

The U.S. military’s top general in Europe said the continuing rotation of Europe-based troops to higher-priority missions in Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as the relocation of troops from Europe to the U.S., has left his cupboard a tad bare.

Army Gen. Bantz J. Craddock of the U.S. European Command said he is concerned he might not have enough troops to carry out his command’s top priorities: working effectively with partner nations and waging war if necessary in his area of responsibility.

Past reports indicate that we may have only a parachute brigade and a Stryker brigade as major combat formations. Other reports indicated a bit more. I couldn't figure out if it would mean one or two Stryker brigades in addition to the two brigades for sure (see here and here). And I didn't know if it meant that one or two Stryker brigades in eastern Europe would perhaps rotate their battalions through those bases rather than have the full brigades there.

I figured we'd really want five combat brigades in order to use European bases as a jumping off point for intervention in an entire arc of crisis from West Africa to Central Asia.

Right now, General Craddock isn't confident he will have the forces needed to carry out his missions. I'm not sure if this is a short-term concern based on deployments to Iraq or based on what is envisioned for the future.

UPDATE: A mailing from the Association of the United States Army notes that we will have one Stryker brigade in Germany and one parachute brigade in Italy. Those east European bases will not host their own Stryker brigades. The only question is whether the Germany-based brigade rotates task forces through those bases or whether we plan on bringing in units from the continental United States for that purpose. The latter seems unlikely since the other five Stryker brigades will be based in Washington state (three), Alaska (one), and Hawaii (one). That's a long way to move Pacific-oriented units. So yeah, United States Army Europe is going to be pretty darned small for its tasks at hand.

Dropping a Rock on Their Own Foot

An interesting report on the growing theoretical ability of China to pressure Taiwan using growing economic links.

Yet in practice it hasn't worked out for China. Indeed, the report says the Chinese tend to target the Taiwanese business people in any crisis, harming those that in theory should be most favorable to the mainland because of financial interests:

The Beijing leadership—by attacking one of the few groups left in Taiwan with a reasonably positive impression of it—has, in the words of an old Chinese saying, “lifted a rock only to drop it on its own foot.” China has at its disposal a potentially powerful weapon to keep Taiwan from drifting away. But there is serious doubt whether Beijing’s leaders have the political self-restraint to use this weapon effectively over the long run. Whenever Beijing has grown irritated with Taipei, Taiwan businesspeople operating in China have made exceedingly tempting targets.

While the impact of Taiwan on China's economy is clearly far less from the disparity in size, I wonder if Taiwan could exert influence on Chinese behavior out of proportion to the amount of investments if the money was targeted to regions that would be useful as a staging area for a Chinese attack on Taiwan. If those areas had more to lose in a conflict, might they subtly or overtly resist efforts to use their land to kill the island that lays their golden eggs?

I think that we have to break out of the habit of assuming we are on the strategic defense and look for ways to defeat the communist Chinese regime.

Step One

If critics of Guantanamo Bay prison facilities ever succeed in getting us to close it over the faux human rights concerns, remember that closing this facility will just be step one in an effort to keep us from holding any terrorists anytime anywhere.

We aren't doing anything wrong there. Tell the critics to bugger off.

Insurgent Numbers

This article (tip to Stand-To!, I think) says that one U.S. military analyst claims that the Sunni insurgency has grown to 70,000:

The analyst said he and other intelligence watchers know the Sunni enemy grew to about 70,000 based on battlefield evidence since 2004. ...

The military does not believe all 70,000 insurgents are day-to-day participants. Many are part time.

“History tells us that for every shooter there are 10 to 12 auxiliary people,” the analyst said.

This claim that the enemy has grown makes no sense. The analyst notes that recently, the estimates had held at 20,000 enemy. For a while late last year I noted a couple quotes of 10,000. With the enemy losing control of areas, is it really possible that the enemy could have more than tripled its numbers?

On the earlier numbers, I assumed based on military comments that we were talking 20,000 shooters full time (or 10,000 shooters as it seemed to be judged at one time) but didn't really know how the numbers were being calculated. How does one judge the numbers?

If the new number of 70,000 includes all full and part-time fighters plus support people as the analyst states, then calling shooters 9% of the total, we'd have 6,300 shooters in that mix involved in 100 contacts per day. This could be a reduction to just a third of the old strength if the old number just meant shooters as it surely seems. It would also mean that the old number of 20,000 meant a total of 220,000 shooters and supporters back then.

If the old number was shooters and supporters, then the 20,000 Sunni insurgents in the past would have included only 1,800 shooters. Our casualties per year have been remarkably stable if the enemy has more than tripled in size. And the enemy, until a few recent big attacks, has rarely struck in larger than platoon size elements (30-50 insurgents). It seems extremely unlikey that this small number could be accurate to allow for a growth in strength of the enemy.

Let's look at numbers from Barry McCaffrey's recent report (which is amazingly upbeat given that he's seemed rather loopy of late):

In total, enemy insurgents or armed sectarian militias (SCIRI, JAM, Pesh Merga, AQI, 1920’s Brigade, et. al.) probably exceed 100,000 armed fighters.

That's a lot. But remember that the Pesh Merga exclusively protect the Kurdish provinces and at one time numbered 70,000. They are on our side. I find it hard to believe there are fewer now.

Sadr (JAM) adds 10,000 to 40,000 as the usual figures cited. SCIRI is separate but let's just lump them in here. And keep in mind that some provided a useful local defense function even as others attacked us or Sunni civilians.

This is already 80,000 to 110,000 possible, exceeding the total estimate. So let's call the Shia militias at only 10,000. This leaves room for only 20,000 or so Sunni Arab enemy. And the report says 500 are foreign jihadis and 2,000 are local al Qaeda. So that's 17,500 left for the other Sunni Arab forces. Since the Kurdish and Shia militias are talking about shooters only and not total shooters and supporters, it makes sense the others are speaking of shooters too.

So is the single analyst's number of 6,300 shooters right? Do the numbers McCaffrey cite mean there are 20,000 Sunni Arab fighters of all stripes? Which is the same as the traditional number that has been cited the last few years? And if there are more Shia militias than the minimum I'm using for calculation purposes, we have even fewer Sunni Arab enemy.

Remember too that the Sunni Arabs with money--the ones perhaps more likely to back the insurgency to reclaim their gravy train--have fled abroad. Perhaps 20% of all Sunni Arabs have fled Iraq. Surely, this represents a higher percentage of the potential enemy recruits. Yet they've more than tripled their numbers anyway by this one analyst's numbers?

I have no idea how many insurgents and terrorists are operating in Iraq (as I write about here and here) and I bet the enemy doesn't know how many people they have either. This sounds more like a definitional issue more than anything.

But as I've often argued, attrition of the enemy isn't the way to end the insurgency. They replace losses as our side does. The key is to choke off the ability and desire to replace losses. In other words, we need to do to the enemy what our Congress is trying to do to our forces.

And if the current analyst's own figure is to be believed, the enemy has actually shrunk to a third its former size rather than grown. For years we could not dent the numbers since the enemy replaced losses. But with Sunni Arabs fleeing Iraq and Sunni Arabs defecting to fight jihadis, the number of shooters seems to have dropped rather a lot rather than increased as the cited analyst claims. The political trends are sapping the ability to replace losses from inside Iraq. Which explains why the jihadis are stronger now relative to the native insurgents.

I don't know. It seems like the trend is the opposite of what the analyst claims. But I'm hardly an expert numbers cruncher.

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Stab in the Back

First the House and now the Senate have voted to impede our ability to win the war in Iraq:

In a mostly party line 51-47 vote, the Senate signed off on a bill providing $122 billion to pay for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. It also orders Bush to begin withdrawing troops within 120 days of passage while setting a nonbinding goal of ending combat operations by March 31, 2008.

This is disgusting. Our Congress voted to declare war in 2002. That's what it was and everybody knew what their vote was going to lead to barring an unexpected retreat by Saddam.

When we got that declaration of war, by a Republican House and a Democratic Senate no less, I assumed that we had the gold standard for war. Now I discover there was a tremendous drafting error in the war resolution--it didn't say that Congress authorized a war we intended to win.

So now Congress wants to retract that declaration of war's implicit vote for victory with a deadline for fighting--whether we win or not.

I am disgusted by the ability of our Congress to betray our troops in the field. And horrified that many in the House were bought off with bribes to support their version of slow surrender.

Congress has many powers. But ending a war that our enemies are determined to bring to our shores is not one of them. So instead, they'll settle for mandating our retreat and hope there is a decent interval between that retreat and another attack our country.

Phase V

Last year was a year of setbacks after initial hopes of winning that year were dashed. This occurred not because the enemy was winning but because new enemies emerged.

During 2006, we tried to get the Sunni Arabs to finally lay down their arms and end their fight (I'm suspending my Times DeSelect policy for this link only):

The meetings began in early 2006 and were quite possibly the first attempts at sustained contact between senior American officials here and the Sunni Arab insurgency. Mr. Khalilzad flew to Jordan for some of the talks, which included self-identified representatives of the Islamic Army of Iraq and the 1920 Revolution Brigades, two leading nationalist factions, American and Iraqi officials said. Mr. Khalilzad declined to give details on the meetings, but other officials said the efforts had foundered by the summer, after the bombing of a revered Shiite shrine in Samarra set off waves of sectarian violence.

This is entirely consistent with my description of the war's Phase V during 2006. The Sunni Arabs were defeated and the question was getting them to give up before they were expelled from Iraq. We hoped to draw down our troops to under 100,000 becasue the Sunnis were defeated, while the Iraqis themselves confronted the Shia militia problem (Sadr and others) as more of an internal problem. Remember, we talked not out of our weakness but because we had defeated the Baathists and Sunni Arab "nationalists."

Instead, the sectarian violence fostered by Iran and Syria (with jihadis on the one side and Shia thugs on the other) made it necessary for our troops to go back into Baghdad to directly control the city rather than rely on the Iraqis to control the Shia death squads. This was a new level of the Sadr threat and our current surge into Baghdad is only the latest attempt to combat this threat since the Samarra bombing over the last year or so. It is a needed change that I speculated about nearly a year ago.

We are again making progress in bringing the non-jihadi Sunni Arabs in from the cold as we tried to do in Phase V. And a partial amnesty for Baathists not obviously guilty of crimes is one part of this effort. While Anbar Sunni Arabs fight with us, those in central Iraq are more difficult to convince. But we will convince them to unite against the jihadis.

We are winning. Let's not surrender to a dying enemy.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Neither Guns Nor Butter

The North Koreans squeezed their people to scrape up the resources to build nuclear weapons.

By "squeezed" I mean starved and abused them, of course.

Yet after all of that effort, the North Koreans failed to light up a nuke last summer and failed to demonstrate basic competence in long-range ballistic missiles as well. Which explains why they want an agreement with us after stiffing us for so long.

Which brings us back to the other part of the equation that North Korea tried to solve:

North Korea is facing one of its biggest food shortages in the past decade with millions of people going hungry because of a poor harvest and a huge drop in donor aid, a U.N. official said Wednesday.

The World Food Program Asian regional director wants immediate food aid for North Korea:

"We can't wait ... The lean season is upon is," Banbury said. "The needs of the people are separate from the political talks. There ought not to be a direct linkage between those talks and the food security situation in the country."

Ah, but Mr. Banbury is quite wrong. North Korea's regime made the linkage quite some time ago. It was classic Russian and Chinese Marxism actually--forcibly extract resources from the rural peasants to pay for development--in this case nuclear development rather than factories. Now the regime has neither nukes nor food.

Without nukes, the regime can't blackmail America and Japan into supporting them with cash. Without that support, the regime can't pay for a conventional military to threaten South Korea. Which means South Korea can't be blackmailed.

And without food, the result of that linkage that North Korea first made, the Pillsbury Nuke Boy can't even be sure that his army will remain loyal. Kim Jong-Il once thought that he'd have to rely on nukes and spooks to keep him fat and happy without the army, but now he's down to just spooks.

We just need to drag out talks with North Korea until they collapse. Don't save this monstrous regime.

Away ... From the Sea

The Chinese are looking to increase oil imports from Russia and are visiting Russia's central Asian region:

Chinese President Hu Jintao met industry chiefs in Russia's oil-rich Tatarstan region on Wednesday during a visit aimed at securing energy supplies and smoothing relations between the neighbouring countries.

Hu attended a trade exhibition in Kazan, capital of the mainly Muslim province in central Russia, and met heads of heavy industry including major oil producer Tatneft and local aircraft and ship manufacturers.

Tatarstan is about as continental as you can get. I like seeing China move this way for its oil. If it has to devote more resources to protecting land lines of communication to central Asia as well as sea lines of communication, China will have less ability to fight us in the western Pacific.

And in the long run, hopefully less reason to fight us. As I've noted before, preparing to beat China in a war is an inferior strategy to pointing China away from the sea.

Go Tell the Britons

The Iranian hostage crisis continues. This cannot be about the fifteen hostages alone. It is about the Iranian regime that would tear down our world of laws and rules even is it uses those laws and rules to shield themselves from our power. Free the hostages at the price of some small surrender, and there will be more some day.

And worse. The Iranians would destroy our culture and society if it was within their power to achieve (and they try to get that power). Notice how the only woman they grab, Faye Turney, is immediately slapped into Islamic garb:

The video showed Turney in checkered head scarf and her uniform eating with other sailors and marines. Later, wearing a white tunic and black head scarf, she sat in a room before floral curtains and smoked a cigarette.

The mullahs would do this to all British women if they could. To all women from London to Madrid to Los Angeles to Melbourne to Tokyo to Bombay. Submit or die. Those are the choices they give us.

Yet the British public seems oddly at ease with the indignities inflicted on their hostages by the Iranians. And oddly unconcerned with the jihadi threat to their nation and our culture and freedoms. The choice of our enemies for our fate must not be our choices. We must defeat them.

Truly, our government should start shipping DVDs of 300 to Britain. Blanket the island with this tale of freedom versus tyranny. As the British seem to go wobbly on us, remind them that they are a great nation still, with a military not to be trifled with. No, 300 is not history. It is just a story. But it is a story of free men standing against Persian tyranny. Oddly enough, this is the history we are writing today.

Yes indeed, this is a story that needs to be heard in the British Isles. Go tell the Britons.

Between Iraq and a Couple Hard Places

For a people who spent four centuries lording it over their more numerous social inferiors, Iraq's Sunnis have brought on lots of problems for themselves.

They could have portrayed themselves as liberated victims of Saddam and bought themselves a place in a new Iraq, but instead they tried to reclaim the glory days of neck stomping and stolen riches. They have little time to redeem themselves by uniting against the foreign Sunni jihadi invaders and their local allies.

Right now, the non-al Qaeda Sunnis find themselves losing to American forces fighting alongside the Iraqi government, angry Shias out for revenge, and evil jihadis who will strike at Sunnis who fight with us, using even chemical weapons to terrorize Sunni Arabs into supporting the jihadis.

Revolting against the government and its American and Coalition allies have brought the Sunni Arabs of Iraq to the point of near expulsion from central Iraq. Straddling the divide between revolt and the government isn't working, either. All sides attack them for failing to be 100%.

The Sunni Arabs of Iraq need to finally end their stubborn stupidity and fully side with the Iraqi government to defeat the jihadis. Really, it's the only option they haven't tried.

Only then can the Sunni Arabs earn their place in a new Iraq.

Send Money, Guns, and Imams

Ledeen at Pajamas Media notes (without supplying a link to the article, so I looked) that the Iranian government is paying to convert Sunnis to Shias, including many in Syria:

Another country, which is also clearly a target of Iranian proselytizing, is Syria. According to some recent reports, Iran gives $10,000 to each Syrian family that converts to Shiism. Noted Middle East expert Amir Taheri recently acknowledged what he calls the “Iranization” of Syria.

For instance, Syria has lifted the ban on Shiite proselytization and therefore allowed hundreds of Iranian mullahs to convert Syrian Sunnis, including huge numbers of Alawites, President Bashar Assad’s own sect. Iran has also set up 11 centers of Khomeinist indoctrination in cities other than Damascus and, according to Taheri, as of last September, 17,000 Syrians had enrolled to follow classes there. Last but not least Taheri noticed the number of men and women in the streets conforming to the Khomeinist “look.”

I find it amazing that our best allies are called poodles for siding with us. But when Iran is getting Syria to roll over, fetch, and play dead, Syria is never denigrated by such language.

When a Shia-minority government like Syria's Alawite government allows Iran to convert the majority Sunnis to Iran's brand of Shia Islam, you'd think the Sunni Arab world would work up a little fear and loathing about Iran colonizing an Arab nation.

But no. Syria has become West Iran and the Arab world would rather blather on about America's "illegal occupation" of Iraq.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007


Every once in a while the press reports a big insurgent attack and I comment that it is unusual since my impression is that the enemy rarely attacks in even platoon strength (30-50 men). I wondered if I was getting the right impression from press reports.

Apparently so:

A U.S. combat post was attacked by two suicide truck bombs and about 30 gunmen west of Baghdad on Monday, but American soldiers succeeded in repelling them and killed 15, the U.S. military said on Tuesday.

The attack on the combat post in the Garma area, near Falluja, was unusual given that insurgents do not typically launch such large-scale military assaults. Eight U.S. soldiers were wounded in the fighting.

Thirty isn't really big, but even this is unusual for the enemy. Four years into the insurgency and terror campaign, that's pretty sad (for the enemy, of course).

If the enemy mistakenly believes that these small company-sized combat outposts are vulnerable targets, a lot more of the enemy will die trying to overrun them.

As political progress strips the non-jihadi portions of the enemy away from the fight, such attrition of those who remain will help push the enemy over and hasten their defeat.

Well, This Explains a Lot

North Korea agreed to shut down their nuclear programs (well, we say that. God knows what the North Koreans think they agreed to do). This might explain a lot:

"The United States does not recognize North Korea as a nuclear weapons state," [CIA Director Michael] Hayden was quoted as saying by a South Korean defense official in the JoongAng Ilbo newspaper. "It's because the nuclear test last year was a failure."

I figured their test fizzled. This always seemed more likely than fantastic successes in miniaturizing nuclear devices as some speculated. These people think Spam is a Wonder of the World, people.

This is all the more reason to just drag talks out so that if there is an agreement, it is a good one and not one for the sake of an agreement. The best case is that while we talk and talk, North Korea will erode even more and simply collapse.

Don't save this monstrous regime.

I Display My Amazing Powers of Deduction

There were riots in a French subway station:

Officials said about 100 people were involved in the melee at Gare du Nord, one of Paris' most important transport hubs. Officers and police dogs fired tear gas and charged at groups of marauding youths, some of them wearing hoods and swinging metal bars.

Yes, those darned "youths" again. That word was used eight times in the article.

Just who were those hooded "youths" you might ask? College students? German tourists? Jesuits? Perhaps Belgians?

Well, there is a clue:

The train lines from Gare du Nord radiate out to the same suburbs north of Paris where three weeks of rioting erupted in 2005. That violence was born of pent-up anger — especially among youths of Arab and African origin — over years of high unemployment and racial inequalities.

Aha! Of Arab and African origin! Surely this is a clue of some significance!

I'm going to make a leap of faith here and say that the young hooded rioters in the French train station were--wait for it! Moslem.

No. No. No emails of congratulations on my amazing powers of observation. It's a gift, really. Who am I to boast of my natural talent?

It's the Regime, Stupid

The latest Iranian hostage crisis featuring 15 British sailors and marines has the usual crowds out arguing for inaction. For some, it is America's fault (it always is, it seems) and for others it is counter-productive to strike militarily because that "plays into their hands."

These are sad days for Britain's history of greatness when the loudest in Britain seem to shrug over the hostage incident. By blaming America for getting the Persians all riled up, much of the British public seems to have granted those British military personnel honorary American citizenship for the purposes of doing nothing.

Yet all hope is not lost, it seems:

Britain was trying to "pursue this through the diplomatic channels and make the Iranian government understand these people have to be released," Blair told GMTV television.

"I hope we manage to get them to realise they have to release them. If not, then this will move into a different phase."

Pressed on what that might involve, Blair said: "Well, we will just have to see.

When people say that responding with military force just solidifies an enemy's position, what that means is that "ineffective military force" solidifies an enemy's position. Effective military force could defeat the enemy.

The Taliban and al Qaeda had their position solidified by our bombing of a Sudanese pharmaceutical plant and the cruise missile destruction of some empty tents in Afghanistan. But send in the bombers and special forces with lots of cash and suddenly the Taliban and al Qaeda are measuring drapes for their caves and hovels in Pakistan.

Years of dropping cement-filled bombs on Iraqi targets during no-fly zone patrols in the 1990s did nothing to rock Saddam's regime. But sending the Army and Marines to Baghdad left Saddam and his delightful spawn dead and unable to harm anybody again.

So if the Iranians do not relent, the proper focus of a forceful response should be the regime.

And consider that we are practicing engaging naval targets with two carriers in the region and a French carrier is also nearby:

The maneuvers bring together two strike groups of U.S. warships and more than 100 U.S. warplanes to conduct simulated air warfare in the crowded Gulf shipping lanes.

We aren't practicing strikes on Iran perhaps because we have more than enough land-based air power (plus sea-based missiles) to hit Iran. Our naval forces could be tasked to shield the Gulf shipping lanes to blunt an Iranian counter-attack aimed at the oil lifelines of the world. Perhaps the French would sign on to this more defensive task in order to free our forces for offensive missions over Iran.

Last summer, I thought that the British had agreed with us to take down the Iranian regime. I still think that we will attempt this while Prime Minister Blair still holds office.

Remember, it's the regime, stupid. Whether the problem is terrorism, nukes, aggression in Iraq and Lebanon, seizing hostages, or simple oppression at home, the answer is to change the regime and not address the symptoms of that regime in isolation.

Secretary Gates has got it:

"We should have no illusions about the nature of this regime or about their designs for their nuclear program, their intentions for Iraq or their ambitions in the Gulf region," Gates said at a speech to the American-Turkish Council in Washington.

And remember, too, our president doesn't like small ball. Perhaps it will be a Tehran spring after all.

We'll just have to see.

Monday, March 26, 2007

Making Friends and Influencing People

In our four years in Iraq, we started with the support of most Kurds, gained the support of most Shias, and are starting to gain the support of Sunni Arabs.

Our press and the sainted international community may treat the jihadis inside Iraq as glorious freedom fighters, but Iraqis are not so confused. Sunni Arabs continue to slide away from supporting insurgency and terrorism:

Zalmay Khalilzad said U.S. Embassy and military personnel as well as Iraqi government officials had met several times with representatives of insurgent groups that had opposed the U.S.-backed political process but he ruled out any contacts with al-Qaida in Iraq, which has been blamed in many of the high-profile suicide bombings that have killed hundreds.

"We have had discussions with those groups," Khalilzad told reporters in Baghdad. They are continuing to take place and I think one of the challenges is how to separate more and more groups away from al-Qaida."

He said some tribal leaders and even some insurgents in Sunni Arab areas already have turned against al-Qaida, increasingly frustrated with the violence that has killed more Iraqi civilians than U.S. forces.

"Iraqis are uniting against al-Qaida," he said. "Coalition commanders have been able to engage some insurgents to explore ways to collaborate in fighting the terrorists. These insurgents are also in touch with the government seeking reconciliation and cooperation in the fight against the al-Qaida terrorists and joining the government in a reconciliation program."

In addition to gaining support of more Sunni Arabs, the Sunni Arab terrorists have lost additional support from the one million plus Sunni Arabs who have fled Iraq or central Iraq where they used to provide a sea for the terrorist fish to swim in.

This is a continuation of a process that began in summer 2004 with the Shias:

The Islamists screwed up this possible path to Baathist victory. The Zarqawi memo highlighted the idea that the Islamists wanted to target the Shias in order to force the Sunnis to rise up out of fear. Then there would be a nice civil war and the Islamists would have their happy hunting ground of chaos in which to kill Americans. With high enough casualties and really bad press coverage, we might then have pulled out in defeat. Defeating us somewhere—anywhere—is the Islamist goal—not Islamizing Iraq in particular. Remember the reports that al Qaeda was turning their focus on Iraq at the expense of Afghanistan? The fight is the focus. Note, too, that the memo says that the Islamists would have to find another battleground if they cannot win in Iraq. The Islamists may not have had a choice since they don’t number very many. How could they take on the Army and Marines directly? Attacking civilians is a heck of a lot easier.

So by targeting the Shias with increasingly gruesome bombings (and a lot of Sunnis in the latest series of attacks), the Islamists have made the Shias realize they have to fight the insurgents to protect themselves.

This was a critical change in thinking of the 60% of Iraqis who are Shia. We needed them on our side. Yes, they did greet us with flowers when we first invaded despite the denials of war opponents. But the war opponents have a point in this mistaken denial--the Shias cheered for the removal of Saddam and not for our presence. After we watched Saddam slaughter Shias in 1991 after we urged them to revolt (and don't think that Saddam didn't spin that into conspiracies that painted us as his secret friend), the Shias had reason to question our motives.

But Sunni Arab terrorism cemented the Shias to our side. There were pro-Iranian elements when we invaded and there are still pro-Iranian Shias now, but the clear majority of Shias support the current government and us, though they'd naturally like us out and want the fighting to end. The terrorism pushed the Shias to fight at our side with enthusiasm.

And of course, we had the support of Kurds based on our defense of their provinces with our air power following the Persian Gulf War of 1990-1991. A decade of support erased earlier memories of the 1975 betrayal when we allowed the Shah of Iran to cut a deal with Iraq over their border that left the Kurds high and dry.

Slowly, the majority of Iraqis in all the major communities are uniting to expel the jihadi invaders. This common enemy may yet undo the effect of the Sunni Arab-supported terror campaigns of the Baathists, jihadis, and "nationalists" who could not abide a Shia-dominated Iraq. The casualty count and the media's obsession with reporting these attacks without context obscure the movement of opinion, but it is real. All Iraqis have a reason to hate the jihadis and the Iranians and Syrians and Sunni Arab states that have decided to invade Iraq and kill Iraqis of all religions and ethnicities.

This process is taking far longer than I thought it would, and it must include defeating the pro-Iranian Shia thugs, but Iraq will emerge from this war as an important ally against terrorism.

Hell Hath No Fury

Europe has a bloody history and talk of how Europeans have lost the ability to fight is short-sighted.

Ours is only the latest generation to imagine that brutal warfare is a relic of the past. In 1851, Edward Creasy wrote, "It is an honorable characteristic of the spirit of this age, that projects of violence and warfare are regarded among civilized states with gradually increasing aversion."

He could write that conclusion since no major European war convulsed the continent since 1815. Yet 36 years without war did not mean that Europeans were permanently pacifists despite that growing aversion in civilized states. The Crimean War of 1853-1856, the Austro-Prussian War of 1866, the Franco-Prussian War of 1870-71, and the Great War (though they still had the honorable spirit of the age to believe it was the war to end all wars. Only later would it be World War I.) were yet to come. The Russians and Turks went at it yet again in that time, too.

So let us not worry too much about what the Islamic world will do to Europe. I think Mark Steyn is right to worry about the demographic trends in Europe, but I don't believe that the native Europeans will always act as they do today. Europe may be able to ignore the threat for a while, but I am confident that the Europeans will react with savage fury when they finally perceive a threat. They have a talent for war, remember. Worry for the Moslems who will be swept up in a campaign againt the Islamists who believe they've found the perfect target--rich, soft, and guilt-ridden.

The Europeans will--eventually--do what it takes to destroy the jihadi threat to Europe.

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Is It That Hard to Write Headlines?

Iran doesn't like the sanctions the UN Security Council imposed.

This is what the AP headline states:

"Iran partially suspends U.N. cooperation"

The first line of the story reports:

Iran announced Sunday that it was partially suspending cooperation with the U.N. nuclear watchdog agency, citing the "illegal and bullying" U.N. Security Council sanctions imposed on the country for its refusal to stop enriching uranium.

So recall, Iran is not cooperating with the UN over secret nuclear programs. So after years of not knowing the Iranians were avoiding UN scrutiny and more years of pleading with the Iranians to cooperate, the UN slaps some mild sanctions on Iran.

And then, only then, after this history, the article reports that Iran says that they will start being uncooperative. As if it is our fault.

Is it so tough to write a headline that accurately reflects what even the story reports on?

China as a Geographic Entity

Will the Center Hold in China?

China's people speak quite different languages, as I noted here in the update.

And Strategypage writes that corruption in China--which prompts riots and demonstrations out in the provinces--is difficult for Peking to control because China is not a unitary state where orders from the center are followed by the peripheral regions:

Senior officials admit it exists, but because of the decentralized form of government, it's very difficult for the people in the capital to clean up the corruption in the provinces. The officials out in the countryside may be stealing, but they are also keeping an eye on things for the central government. Without loyal provincial officials, there is no nation of China, just a collection of provinces, which have been independent nations in the past.

Yet another reason why I don't know whether China will emerge in a generation or two as an enemy, a peer competitor to us, or a friend--or even a country at all.

I think Mark Steyn has commented on this, so it is hardly original with me, but I do wonder if China will break apart (not necessarily violently) and become a geographic rather than a political description.

Is China moving in an opposite direction that Europe is going--a geographic term that is attempting (well, the Brussels EU bureaucracy wants it even if the people aren't as thrilled) to become a term describing a political entity?

The Straw?

The international sanctions that the UN is slowly applying to Iran over their nuclear program seem fairly insignificant. But given the sad state of Iran's mullah-run economy, I've concluded/hoped that they may be more significant than I first thought.

The Iranians reject the latest sanctions:

"The world must know — and it does — that even the harshest political and economic sanctions or other threats are far too weak to coerce the Iranian nation to retreat from their legal and legitimate demands," Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki told the Security Council after the vote. "Suspension is neither an option nor a solution."

The moderately tougher sanctions include banning Iranian arms exports, and freezing the assets of 28 people and organizations involved in Iran's nuclear and missile programs.

About a third of those are linked to the Revolutionary Guard, an elite military corps.

Another impact may be that the Iranians lash out under pressure, like this:

Iran's top military official, Gen. Ali Reza Afshar, said the sailors and marines were moved to Tehran and under interrogation "confessed to illegal entry" and an "aggression into the Islamic Republic of Iran's waters." Afshar did not say what would happen to the sailors.

Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Mohammad Ali Hosseini accused the British of "violating the sovereign boundaries" of Iran, calling the entry a "blatant aggression."

This move hurts the ability of Iran's defenders to just portray the Iranians as poor victims. Why do it?

During the Iran-Iraq War, the Iranians successfully ignored the world essential siding with the Iraqis against Iran. The mullahs did not make a bad situation worse by lashing out. For a while. Eventually, the Iranians fired (with missiles, small boats, and mines) at Western oil shipments, provoking the entry of Western navies into the Gulf to protect that traffic. And that led to the clashes between the Iranians and the US Navy that demonstrated our absolute naval superiority.

So if this additional amount of pressure leads the Iranians to decide to attack us, we must take advantage of the ensuing fight to cripple the Iranian nuclear program and regime pillars.

The Iranians will be angry regardless of how limited the fight is. They may reply to a limited military response by escalating anyway as they've threatened. So let's just hit them as hard as we can.

Saturday, March 24, 2007

What I Wrote Four Years Ago

On Instapundit not too long ago, Glenn Reynolds noted a challenge from the left side of the blogosphere to recall what bloggers wrote four years ago in March 2003 and admit error where wrong.

This is my entire March 2003 posting history from my old TDR site with summaries of the major points. Since each and every post was not a prediction where one could say whether I was right or wrong, the challenge doesn't make complete sense. In any case, this is what I wrote about four years ago:

"A Million Mogadishus" (Posted March 31, 2003) How can I say I'm wrong here? From the beginning, our Left has wanted our enemies to win. They are emboldened since November 2006, but their views are nothing new.

"Hurry Up!" (Posted March 31, 2003) I explained what I had gotten right and wrong to that point. But our speed was definitely something I expected and I was surely right about our press corps' ability to declare crisis even in victory.

"Insurrection" (Posted March 30, 2003) I remained confident of decisive victory over Saddam's regime. And I correctly guessed that the lack of a Shia insurrection was due to the uncertainty of the Shias about our intentions to make sure that Saddam's regime was destroyed. It did take until summer 2004 for the Shias to really side with us rather than just being happy we destroyed Saddam's regime.

"Pause" (Posted March 29, 2003) I was uncomfortable with our pause but confident of decisive victory. I was starting to believe that the second heavy division I assumed was in theater did not exist. And I remained perplexed that the Iraqis hadn't used poision gas on our troops. And I defended the value of heavy armor.

"Air Power" (Posted March 28, 2003) I noted the weakness of air defenses against our superb Air Force and opined that I hope enemy nations continue to waste their resources on air defenses that won't ever be a match for our air power.

"Take a Deep Breath" (Posted March 28, 2003) I argue that the cries of doom are just silly and that we will crush the Iraqi military. I also argue that winning the war will create an Iraq that fights on our side as an ally. We have that though I won't say I expected we'd still be fighting inside Iraq at this intensity four years later.

"Casualties" (Posted March 27, 2003) I still read every casualty report. As a supporter of the war who has not gone wobbly, I don't ever want to forget the price our military is paying to protect us.

"Third ID" (Posted March 27, 2003) I expressed my relief that 3rd ID had four maneuver brigades and my surprise that the Marines had advanced so quickly up the Tigris-Euphrates valley. A half-way competent military could have delayed our advance. Which is why I expected the main advance to take place west of the Euphrates.

"Destroy the Nest" (Posted March 27, 2003) I argued that the correct response to the Fedayeen action along our supply line was not to turn around and wipe them out, but to drive on Baghdad as the true objective.

"Week of War" (Posted March 26, 2003) I expressed my amazement that some were wondering if we were winning. And I expressed by confidence that Iraqi units moving to oppose us would be decimated by our air power. I also noted that the actual fighting was being done by Iraqi irregulars.

"War's Progress: What Don't We See?" (Posted March 25, 2003) I made my last real defense of the idea that we simply must have another heavy division and an armored cavalry regiment somewhere ready to unleash. It was our doctrine. And Marine advances out of Nasiriyah surprised me since the terrain in the Tigris and Euphrates valley is well suited to defenders. I didn't imagine that the Iraqis would be that inept.

"Closing the Ring" (Posted March 24, 2003) I noted that the Army was getting ready for the final assault on Baghdad, I hoped the Marines didn't need to drive north in the valley, and I assumed our air power was seriously blasting the Iraqi military unseen by our press.

"Cake Walk" (Posted March 24, 2003) Despite early panic in the press, I expressed confidence that we would rip apart the Iraqi military.

"Steady, Lads" (Posted March 23, 2003) I cautioned that a high-casualty event did not mean defeat.

"Prisoners" (Posted march 23, 2003) I noted that we lost some maintenance troops as prisoners in the rapid advance north. And I explained that we are not taking prisoners to avoid the burden of slowing down our advance by taking prisoners who we would have to protect and feed. I continued to look for a major effort out of Jordan. We did sweep out of Jordan to seize Anbar but it was not a stepping stone to assault Baghdad from the west and northwest as I hoped.

"Attacker" (Posted March 23, 2003) I tried to put the actions of a Moslem soldier in 101st AB who attacked his fellow soldiers in context and expressed hope that this action would not taint all American Moslems.

"Third ID" (Posted March 23, 2003) Here I note the rapid progress of Third Infantry Division west of the Euphrates and worry about supply lines for both the Army and Marine thrusts. I noted that the rapid advance was into a vacuum devoid of Iraq troops. I speculated we might move our Army supply line to run to Jordan and that the Marines might cut loose and drive north without securing their supply lines. In the end, the Marines dedicated a separate force to protect the supply lines while three regimental combat teams drove north. The Army used 3rd ID on point and used 101st AB and a brigade of the 82nd to secure their supply line north. Still, I was assuming a traditional Iraqi defense and hadn't figured out that the Iraqi defenses were directed by Saddam in a totally idiotic manner.

"The Easy Part is Over" (Posted March 21, 2003) I expected our advance to slow down after the first lunge to Nasiriyah. I also doubted that the division would press north up the Tigris and Euphrates valley and instead drive north to the west of the Euphrates. Further, I stated we did not need to capture Basra and just seal it off while we headed north to the objective of Baghdad. I also noted the Stalinist protests in San Francisco.

"War Continues" (Posted March 21, 2003) I predict that the Army will only feint at Nasiriyah and instead go west of Euphrates. Also, I state it looks like Marines will be freed up by British troops around Basra to head north. I also noted that rumors that Iraqis had anti-GPS jammers appeared to be wrong. I also noted that a northern front had yet to open.

"Iraqi Resistance" (Posted March 21, 2003) I explain that we've had little resistance because the first divisions of the Iraqi military we will encounter are at Basra and Naririyah.

"Voices in Their Heads" (Posted March 21, 2003) I mock a human shields group in Iraq. I must repeat this quote: In February, a State Department spokeswoman responded to a reporter's question about why they were in Iraq by saying, "You might as well ask me why moths fly into porch lights." Yep. Good times. Good times.

"EU Civil War" (Posted March 21, 2003) I note that the Germans, French, and Belgians agreed to draft a "common defense identity." With these three trying to speak for all, I wondered if this would fracture the EU to our advantage.

"Liberation Time" (Posted March 21, 2003) I note that San Francisco protesters seem far more upset over Iraq's liberation than Iraqis.

"Impressions of the War" (Posted March 21, 2003) I note that the decapitation air strikes that tried to get Saddam failed and that the ground war was on. I noted my general impressions of the Army heading west of Euphrates (and stated I thought 3rd ID would set the land-speed record in the Middle East by the speed of their advance), the seizure of western Iraq, the Brits and Marines heading for Basra, and the silence of the northern front which I expected to be opened by 173rd AB Brigade and elements of 10th Mountain Division. As it turns out, the northern front was just 173rd AB plus special forces and a small amount of heavy armor.

"In Their Name" (Posted March 21, 2003) Let me quote myself: It is clear, nonetheless, that we will see very happy Iraqis when Saddam is gone and very unhappy anti-war types when they see cheering Iraqis. Granted, in a couple years that gratitude could be anger if we screw up the post-war phase, but it will be hard for the protesters in the West to argue that they were right to prefer Saddam to liberation. I have to hand it to the anti-war left—they stand by their dictators to the bitter end. We did see happy Iraqis as we chased Saddam's regime enforcers out of the south. While I don't think we screwed up the post-war as much as we faced a far better armed and financed terror campaign, the end result has been some unhappiness (but not regrets overall). Sadly, I underestimated the ability of our Left to prefer Saddam--even after his death. And they deny that Iraqis ever cheered us as we chased out Saddam.

"Damn, He Is So Sophisticated" (Posted March 21, 2003) Chirac insists he will gum up our post-war occupation. Well, they certainly haven't helped.

"Protesters" (Posted March 20, 2003) I note the eagerness of war protesters to create that Vietnam War Experience. Still going on, I'd say.

"POWs" (Posted March 20, 2003) I wondered if the Iraqi statement that any prisoners of ours they capture would be treated as mercenaries and that international law would not apply to them would inspire any protests from the anti-war side. Four years later, the enemy uses children to conceal car bombs and uses poison gas, yet are still called "resistance." Human rights groups continue to focus their wrath on us for minor lapses while ignoring the enemy's war crimes.

"Cuba" (Posted March 20, 2003) I wondered if a crack down in Cuba indicated Castro was worried about being strung from a lamp post.

"Iran" (Posted March 20, 2003) I note that Iran declared neutrality in the war. That statement is clearly non-operative.

"North Korea" (Posted March 20, 2003) I note that South Korea put their military on alert just in case.

"Afghanistan" (Posted March 20, 2003) I wondered why our military would deny any connection between the start of OIF and some offensive operations in Afghanistan.

"Lunchtime in Lansing" (Posted March 20, 2003) I note inane protester chants and hope we never have to count up to 3,000 victims in a terror attack again.

"Nightfall in Iraq" (Posted March 20, 2003) I note the start of war and worry we won't be ruthless enough to really crush Iraqi resistance and prevent higher casualties in the long run.
"Oh…" (Posted March 20, 2003) I felt foolish for not seeing that we probably gave a bunch of Iraqi diplomats the choice of defecting or being sent home to Iraq on the eve of our invasion.

"It Has Begun" (Posted March 19, 2003) I briefly note the war has begun, wish our troops luck, and declare they go in my name with my thanks.

"Speicher" (Posted March 19, 2003) I retained hope we might retrieve a pilot lost in 1991 over Iraq. Alas, rumors of his survival to 2003 did not pan out.

"Invasion" (Posted March 19, 2003) I wrote that invasion was imminent and still thought that Iraq would mount a defense based on actual military strategy that I outlined in my Red Team analysis from July 2002. Saddam's strategy was just plain stupid.

"Jerks" (Posted March 18, 2003) I vented over those who claim we acted unilaterally by denying that any country's support was actually significant.

"War Near" (Posted March 18, 2003) I noted that war would start in 24 hours and confessed to errors about when I thought the war would start. I worried about how Saddam might have used the time we granted since the beginning of the year when I thought we would strike.

"Civilian Targets" (Posted March 18, 2003) I note with disgust the vows of anti-war groups here in America to attack civilian infrastructure to impede our war effort.

"Ultimatum" (Posted March 18, 2003) I note that 48-hour ultimatum to Saddam, sum up my basic justification for war to forestall a nuclear attack one day on our shores, and correctly speculate that Army National Guard battalions in Jordan would be used to garrison captured Iraqi airfields in western Iraq.

"Clearing the Decks" (Posted March 17, 2003) I note that UN observers are clearing out. I explain that we aren't invading with just three divisions and that we have the line-equivalent of seven divisions (inlcuding one British division). I explained my theory of a heavy western front (wrong) and state we will be outside Baghdad's suburbs in a week and that our casualties would be historically low. I did not know if we would grab Baghdad fast or if there would be a last stand there or in Tikrit. I also figured revenge attacks by Iraqis on Baathists would be ugly.

"Northern Front" (Posted March 15, 2003) I wondered if one of our new Stryker units would be rushed into operation to take part in a northern front.

"March 17" (Posted March 14, 2003) I argued we were going in very soon--on March 17. I worried that Saddam might have used his French-purchased time to rig surprises for us. I still wonder about that.

"Never Mind" (Posted March 14, 2003) I note the ability of politicians who oppose attacking Saddam's regime to have enthusiastically backed President Clinton's 1998 aerial campaign; and the ability of Hollywood types to oppose destroying Saddam after having supported President Clinton's campaign against Serbia over Kosovo.

"Prisoners" (Posted March 13, 2003) Fifteen years after the Iran-Iraq War ended, Iran and Iraq agreed to release their last POWs. I figure this means we have another decade before the Officially Concerned can open their yaps about Guantanamo Bay.

"Terror War and Iraq" (Posted March 12, 2003) I note that one target for our invasion of Iraq will be hitting al Qaeda who took refuge in Iraq after we destroyed the Taliban regime.

"The Carter Doctrine" (Posted March 12, 2003) I thank President Jimmy Carter for the Carter Doctrine. My utter contempt for that man has not eased in four years.

"They Will Believe What They Will Believe" (Posted March 12, 2003) I express how tired I am of Moslems droning on about how we are on a new Crusade.

"Yet Another Material Breach" (Posted March 11, 2003) I note that Iraq tried to shoot down one of our U-2 recon planes. I mention that Saddam has an arsenal of "bugs and chemicals" but I don't know why I mentioned bio weapons. While I worried that the small scale nature of biological warfare research meant that this unknown had wider parameters than a nuclear program, I think this is the only time I ever appeared to assume he had bio weapons. This is an error and I don't know why I asserted it at the time.

"Fair Fight?" (Posted March 11, 2003) I express my utter amazement about an anti-war type who argues the war is wrong because it will be too easy and too few American troops will die.

"Nuclear Nightmares" (Posted March 11, 2003) I express my basic rule that stopping the mad mullahs before they get their first bomb trumps stopping the mad Korean from getting his third.

"Our Arrogance" (Posted March 10, 2003) I note that our 1998 campaign against Iraq had fewer allies than we had in 2003 even though we had that lip-biting multilateral sensitivity going for us in 1998.

"Iraqi Nuclear Program" (Posted March 9, 2003) I noted that the IAEA's declaration that Iraq had no nuclear program was not credible based on past failures to detect nuclear programs. Right in principle but wrong in fact. Iraq did not have an active nuclear program in 2003.

"Western Front" (Posted March 9, 2003) I noted rumors of a big American effort out of Jordan which I expected to be much larger and noted that we were taking down border barriers in Kuwait.

"Worthless" (Posted March 9, 2003) I note that Carter sickens me. It was prompted by another bout of opposing the invasion.

"American Forces in Saudi Arabia" (Posted March 8, 2003) I report on American forces reported in Saudi Arabia and again speculate this may hint at a big effort in the west. I also feared Saddam would belatedly haul out some chemical weapons and we'd be under pressure to accept this as a full disclosure.

"War Versus Civil Liberties" (Posted March 8, 2003) I argue that our civil liberties depend on destroying our enemies on offense and that sitting on defense just means our civil liberties will erode a little more every time the enemy hits us at home.

"The French Better Not Join Us" (Posted March 7, 2003) I hope for regime change in Paris.

"Bingo" (Posted March 7, 2003) I note a report on a secret base in Saudi Arabia and opine that we will own western Iraq in the first 48 hours. I also wrongly expected heavy armor to be used out there.

"ARRGGGHHH" (Posted March 7, 2003) I complain about another delay and worry about the time we are giving Saddam to prepare.

"Flying Pigs" (Posted March 7, 2003) I mock some academic's plan for a "small war" to disarm Saddam of WMD. It was so stupid that it still amazes me.

"We Really Try" (Posted March 7, 2003) One cleric's call for all Iraqis to resist our invasion made me despair of keeping this from being a war between Islam and the West. An Islamic duty to defend Saddam was just sick.

"The President's News Conference" (Posted March 6, 2003) I remark on the false certainty of inaction versus the uncertainty of action.

"Jackboots on Their Necks" (Posted March 6, 2003) An early case of false oppression syndrome by the anti-war side. They still believe that President Bush is about to declare the Bushtatorship. Failing to nullify the November 2006 election results did not end this silly fantasy of persecution.

"Oh Yeah, Soon" (Posted March 6, 2003) I thought the war would start the next day. I assumed Saddam would use chemical weapons. I also broadly called the general course of the ground campaign but expected more force than we used in both the north and west.

"Surge" (Posted March 5, 2003) I note the increased air sortie rate and expect war at any moment.

"So Just Where Is Maureen Dowd's Imperial America?" (Posted March 5, 2003) Maureen Dowd said with disapproval we were going to try to impose democracy on Iraq. Wait a second. Isn't the current Left line that democracy was an after-thought of Operation Iraqi Freedom declared by President Bush only after we failed to find the WMD smoking gun?

"The Kevorkian Trio" (Posted March 5, 2003) Russia, France, and Germany vowed not to let a second UNSC resolution pass. I hoped we'd have a vote and invade regardless just to weaken the Security Council. UNSC still too strong for my taste.

"Stalin" (Posted March 5, 2003) Showing how elderly Russians pine for the days of Stalin, I predict that the anti-war side will still be pro-Saddam after liberation reveals the horrors of his regime.

"So What Can We Really Do About North Korea?" (Posted March 5, 2003) I wrote that we could not wage war to stop North Korea from going nuclear. We couldn't get South Korean, Japanese, or Congressional backing for such an undertaking. We could basically contain them by building up anti-missile defenses, getting 2nd ID off the firing line, building up air power in the region, and halting North Korean exports of plutonium by any means necessary. In time, we could hope for a North Korean collapse.

"Turkish Front" (Posted March 4, 2003) I expressed my opinion that we did not need a northern front that includes 4th Infantry Division advancing south and that we may have very well been bluffing on this score.

"Still, We Wait?" (Posted March 4, 2003) The title speaks for itself.

"Cops" (Posted March 3, 2003) I commented on the capture of Khalid Shaikh Mohammed and how he looked like a drunken crook complete with a wife-beater undeshirt like you'd see on the show "Cops." And today, the Left wants to know if he was mistreated in our custody.

"Very Soon" (Posted March 3, 2003) I expected the invasion to start on the new moon and mocked human shields who were upset that the Iraqi government wanted to station them at military installations instead of zoos and teddy bear factories. I hoped that the Left would be embarassed by what they supported once Saddam was overthrown and they could see first hand what Saddam had done to his people.

"Disaster! Catastrophe!" (Posted March 2, 2003) I report on the Turkish decision to deny landing rights for our 4th ID. I say overlflight rights for our aircraft are more important and that we don't need a heavy northern front--that a couple light infantry and a parachute brigade would do just fine.

"3-172" (Posted March 1, 2003) I note that the news that our only true mountain unit, a battalion of the National Guard, is attached to 173rd AB brigade indicates that my guess that this unit would be part of the northern front is accurate.

"Northern Iraq" (Posted March 1, 2003) I comment on airfields in the Kurdish regions being prepped for our use. I also note that 101st AB will not be part of the first wave but will be a follow-up force, reserve, and occupation force. I still assumed another heavy division that didn't exist was there so the 101st did indeed take part in the invasion behind the 3rd ID advance.

"North Korean Threats" (Posted March 1, 2003) I worry about North Korea and discuss the complexities of various actions. I also wonder if the North Korean army is brittle after years of starvation and isolation.

So there you go. My blog posts from four years ago. Neither a prophet or a fool, I believe. I just offered my honest take on what I could see (or thought I could see).


Fear of the Shias is apparently not enough to hold the Sunni Arabs in line to keep fighting the Iraqi government. The terrorists are sending in enforcers:

A suicide truck bomber struck a police station in a mainly Sunni area in Baghdad on Saturday, killing at least 18 people, police said, as insurgents apparently step up their campaign against fellow Sunnis seen as collaborating with the U.S. and the Iraqi government.

This is a good thing. When the enemy has to divert resources from attacking the government and government supporters to striking what they believe should be their base of support, the enemy weakens.

Further, by visibly making Sunni Arabs victims of the jihadis, it aids the ability of the Sunni Arabs to overcome Shia and Kurdish hatred of Sunnis for four centuries of rule, several decades of Saddam's brutal regime, and four years of terrorism.

And it pushes the Sunni Arabs to join in the national resistance to the jihadis that could cement their position in a new and democratic Iraq as a minority protected by rule of law instead of their plan to rely on their own guns and terror--a plan that is failing as shown by the number of Sunni Arabs who have fled Iraq.

This is yet another sign of the sure (but slow) path to victory that we have been on for the last four years.


By the bare minimum, the House of Representatives voted to require a withdrawal of our troops from Iraq. The speaker was successful in getting her Nancy Boys to follow her on this issue (billions of dollars in bribes didn't hurt):

The $124 billion House legislation would pay for wars in Iraq and Afghanistan this year but would require that combat troops come home from Iraq before September 2008 — or earlier if the Iraqi government did not meet certain requirements. Democrats said it was time to heed the mandate of their election sweep last November, which gave them control of Congress.

"The American people have lost faith in the president's conduct of this war," said House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif. "The American people see the reality of the war, the president does not."

Just over an hour following the vote, Bush angrily accused Democrats of playing politics and renewed his promise to veto the spending legislation if it included their withdrawal timetable, despite administration claims that the money is needed next month by troops.

"These Democrats believe that the longer they can delay funding for our troops, the more likely they are to force me to accept restrictions on our commanders, an artificial timetable for withdrawal and their pet spending projects. This is not going to happen," he said.

This is shameful. While the hard core Left views the November election results as a mandate to lose the war, these types have believed we need to lose since before the war began.

Most Americans, including most Democrats, may be unhappy with how the war is going, but that is more the result of how the press reports on it and the loyal opposition's ridiculous critiques of the conduct than the actual war that we are winning. Americans still want to win.

The bottom line is that the House's vote is shameful. The enemy couldn't cut our supply lines if they tried and they've failed to defeat our forces on the battlefield. But our Congress will do both for the enemy. Our Congress opposes any effort to stop Syria and Iran from suppling the terrorists inside Iraq, but our Congress will relieve the enemy of the need to do anything to cut the supply lines of our forces. Trying to engineer our defeat goes far beyond even the broad scope of what our Left has defined as acceptable "dissent."

And really, this vote is shameful even on the wrong assumptions of our Left and our congressional leaders. If the war is truly lost as they believe, isn't letting our forces fight on for another year and a half before pulling them out just a way of ensuring that another 1500 American troops die? Or do the Nancy Boys believe we can win under this time restriction?

The president will veto this bill even if it makes it through the Senate (which it won't). But the sad thing is, we are operating on a two year time limit regardless of what Congress does. I imagine that by summer 2008, the draw down will have to start to keep the issue from being too damaging by the presidential election campaign.

I think we will win this race between standing up effective Iraqi security forces on the one hand and pulling out too soon. We've been in this race since fall 2004, and I'm honestly comforted that our Left hasn't lost us that race already. But it is disgusting that our own Congress is doing its best to drag us down and prevent us from winning that race.

Congress declared war. And now they are saying there is an expiration date on that approval. Shame on them.

Identity Crisis

I don't understand how Kinja can label this site as both conservative and liberal.

Clearly I'm doing something wrong. Have I not been vocal enough in my support for the war? Am I insufficiently dismissive of global warming advocates? Do I even hint at liking bongos or hand puppets?

Is simply living in Ann Arbor considered that much of an indicator?

The Common Enemy

Talks about bringing the Sunni Arabs into the new Iraq have stalled:

Saad Yousif al-Muttalibi of the Ministry of National Dialogue and Reconciliation said talks have been taking place inside and outside Iraq over the past three months and involved five or six insurgent groups.

The jihadis are not part of this process. Indeed, they are the intended target, he said:

"One of the aims is to join with them in the fight against al-Qaida (in Iraq)," he told the BBC.

It is taking far more time for the Iraqi Sunni Arabs to get with the program I first predicted over two years ago, but they seem to be moving the way I saw it:

As sovereignty passes more and more to the Iraqis in concrete terms, it will be easier for the non-Baathist Sunnis to join other Iraqis to kill and expel the foreign invaders--the Islamists--and subdue the Baathists who aid the foreign invaders.
The Sunni Arabs of Iraq could regain some good will that they've lost by their centuries of misrule and four years of terrorism against the Shias and Kurds by fully fighting these jihadi invaders .

Yet the Sunni Arabs of Iraq have been stupid for a long time despite ample opportunities to get a clue.

That Was Then

Instead of confronting Mugabe's disastrous rule, the South Africans will continue to quietly work the issue of Zimbabwe:

Deputy Foreign Minister Aziz Pahad rejected criticism of regional heavyweight South Africa's so-called "quiet diplomacy" from Australia and other Western countries, which he accused along with the media of sensationalism.

"It is not our intention to make militant statements to make us feel good, or to satisfy governments outside the African continent," Pahad told a regular news briefing in Pretoria amid the growing political crisis in neighboring Zimbabwe.

Funny thing is, the world rejected quiet diplomacy when it came to resisting South Africa's Apartheid government. Who knew that the world was wrong back then?

Friday, March 23, 2007

Being There

Ahmadinejad was planning to speak to the United Nations Security Council tomorrow. It is off and the mullahs' friends will try to postpone the debate until Monday to get Ahmadinejad a visa to enter the United States:

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has canceled his trip to New York to address the U.N. Security Council before a vote on whether to impose further sanctions against his country for refusing to stop enriching uranium, a Foreign Ministry official said Friday.

Mohammad Mir Ali Mohammadi, press secretary of Iran's mission at the U.N., told The Associated Press that the U.S. did not deliver a visa to the U.S. Embassy in Bern, Switzerland, in time for the Iranian president to pick it up and fly to New York for the council session Saturday.

He said Russia and China were trying to postpone the session until Monday and if the session was put off Ahamdinejad would decide whether to come.

Does Ahmadinejad really believe he can make a difference? Does he think he will project that halo, induce unblinking attention, and mesmerize the delegates into voting down sanctions?

We have denied that we got requested visas to the Iranians too late for tomorrow.

Really, the only thing Ahmadinejad could say to cancel a vote would be to announce a nuclear test in the southeast part of Iran and give the Europeans an excuse to abandon sanctions as part of their long-range plan to avoid action (tough luck, they'll say, we were just about to back action but now it is too late, no?) and resume business dealings with Tehran.

The Europeans want to be fooled, really. Why disappoint them?

The First Gulf War

I sometimes quote my offline Land Warfare Paper on the First Gulf War (aka the Iran-Iraq War) to illustrate a point.

I finally scanned it and put it online here if you are interested.

A Long Way from Jenkin's Ear

The Iranians snagged some British sailors:

Iranian naval vessels seized 15 British sailors in Iraqi waters on Friday, the Ministry of Defense said.

The British Navy personnel were "engaged in routine boarding operations of merchant shipping in Iraqi territorial waters," and had completed their inspection of a merchant ship when they were accosted by Iranian vessels, the ministry said.

"We are urgently pursuing this matter with the Iranian authorities at the highest level and ... the Iranian ambassador has been summoned to the Foreign Office," the ministry said.

These are sad days indeed when the Royal Navy just lets some punk state kidnap their sailors. The British sank the French fleet just in case during World War II.

The story should have been about how the Iranian government was pursing the matter with British authorities and complaining about how HMS Cornwall destroyed several Pasdaran naval vessels in an unprovoked act of aggression and then went on to blast nearby Iranian naval facilities for no good reason.

Foreign Policy Starts at the Water's Edge

I hope General Peter Pace was rather more direct in warning the Chinese off in private.

General Pace surely understands that what his Chinese hosts told him is true but irrelevant:

"Clearly, both the United States and China have enormous military capacity, but equally clearly neither country has the intent to go to war with the other. So absent of intent, I don't find threat," Pace said.

"We should not focus on how to fight each other but how to prevent military action. That is what my government is focused on, and that is what my Chinese counterparts here have said their government is focused on."

Yes, we don't intend to attack China. And yes, China doesn't plan to fight us. We are so much stronger than China that we hope our strength deters China while China surely knows that a full-scale general war would end up with an American victory.

Yet this comforting story hides the real threat: China considers offshore Taiwan to be an internal issue that we should not be bothered with. And second, China hopes to grab Taiwan without fighting us. That is, China doesn't need to be stronger than America to win, just strong enough to keep us from intervening while we might successfully defend Taiwan. (And this problem--the supersonic, wave-skimming Sizzler--might delay us sufficiently if we fail to counter it so our carriers can approach Taiwan in time.)

The problem is, there is no absent of intent for China to seize Taiwan. They would obviously prefer to take Taiwan without fighting us. But regardless, China wants Taiwan. That is the threat.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

An Inconvenient Truth

It is an article of faith among the Left that President Bush lied about Iraq's WMD program status to trick us into war.

The truth is that there were no lies involved:

Bush Lied is the Big Lie. It takes the controversy over one aspect of U.S. intelligence on Iraq's WMD -- the nuclear program question -- to argue that the whole WMD argument was bogus. That is, the president's accusers are guilty of the very sort of dishonest selectivity that they accuse Bush of using.

I expected that Saddam had chemical weapons based on the simple facts that Saddam used chemical weapons in the past, he failed to account for all the materials that he had to produce chemical weapons, and that he was obstructing the UN inspectors trying to find out what the true status was. I didn't expect either biological or nuclear weapons but was uncertain about their status given past disclosures of more progress than we believed.

I'm still waiting for version 5.0 about what happened to Saddam's WMD. And never forget that if Saddam was bluffing to hold the angry Iranians at bay, once freed of sanctions Saddam would have covered that bluff before he could be discovered.

Talk about an inconvenient truth.

Ominous, Indeed

I would be hard pressed to describe this development as something bad for the good guys:

The violent Shiite militia known as the Mahdi Army is breaking into splinter groups, with up to 3,000 gunmen now financed directly by Iran and no longer loyal to the firebrand cleric Muqtada al-Sadr, adding a potentially even more deadly element to Iraq's violent mix.

The Pentagon confirms this development:

At the Pentagon, a military official confirmed there were signs the Mahdi Army was splintering. Some were breaking away to attempt a more conciliatory approach to the Americans and the Iraqi government, others moving in a more extremist direction, the official said.

But I'm not a trained AP writer trained in the nuances of reporting. You see:

The breakup is an ominous development at a time when U.S. and Iraqi forces are working to defeat religious-based militias and secure Iraq under government control.

Ah, tens of thousands of Mahdi Army militias are bad. But when the militia splinters it is ominous:

The information indicates a disintegrating organization yet a potentially even more dangerous foe, they revealed, on condition that their names not be used.

This is a good thing, people. I've called for dividing the militia so we can take out the stone cold Persian-paid killers while absorbing the militias that are simply interested in protecting their neighborhoods from Sunni Arab terrorists. And now the real killers are revealing themselves as Persian puppets--not exactly a winning hand.

Remember, the expression is "divide and conquer." It is not "divide and get our asses kicked."

Splintering an enemy force is good. Trying to portray it as a bad development is just bizarre.

But I am far from wise in the ways of the Associated Press.

If This Be Stalemate ...

The writer of this article "analyzes" Iraq after four years of war. Let me just focus on one part:

By crossing the four-year mark, we have psychologically gone beyond the time when either side can claim a clean knockout.

This has now become a war of attrition, grinding, with the bombers and the snipers and those bent on suicide pitted against bloodied but wiser U.S. forces. We cannot really talk about a very broad coalition of the willing any longer, either — determined to hold on and fight as long as necessary, or as long as possible.

Let's recap, shall we?

On March 19, 2003, when we crossed the berm into Iraq, a hostile Iraq under the Baathist Saddam and his evil spawn existed with 400,000 troops. The regime trained terrorists, oppressed and killed its people, dreamed of nuclear weapons, hoped to reconquer the Kurds, paid for suicide bombers, and sheltered terrorists.

Four years later, Saddam and his lovely sons are dead, the Kurds are fighting for a free Iraq, Iraqis have voted for a constitution and a government that is our friend, 320,000 Iraqi army and police are fighting with us as allies, and terrorists who flock to Iraq are being killed in large numbers--not training them. The Sunni Arabs are doing so badly that perhaps up to half have fled Iraq.

And with 320,000 police and soldiers (and add 145,000 security forces that protect infrastructure), today when four years ago there were none on our side, I think we can see why it is understandable that allies in calmer regions of Iraq can pull out without harming the war effort--Iraq is now a member of the coalition and has raised far more troops than allies have withdrawn.

In what meaningful sense is this a stalemate? This looks an awful lot like the Baathists getting their butts kicked. Are some people unwilling or incapable of recognizing an improvement?

"Peace" Protesters in Action

Being against the war but for the troops is hard to maintain at times (tip to Instapundit).

While these people really are the fringe in my opinion (though with a good third of the opposition party hoping our surge in Iraq fails (and even 11% of Republicans), it is sometimes tough to believe), their actions resonate somewhat with a lot of mainstream opponents of the war. These repulsive actions make the mainstream uneasy but do not rouse indignation as they do for war supporters.

So I highlight these actions by the fringe not to tar the entire anti-war side (even those who are really just anti-Bush) but to remind the mainstream that you can go too far in opposing the war.

I may find it silly to say you support the troops but oppose their mission, but if believing you can do that means that the member of our military won't be treated as our Vietnam veterans were treated back home, then I'm all for the anti-war side expressing and acting on that belief. If we insist on all or nothing support, we'll get nothing from those people.

These "peace" protesters oppose America but try to pull the Americans who are surely not anti-American but are anti-war (or even anti-Bush) into their orbit. Highlighting the actions of the lunatics on parade should have more of an impact on the more reasonable anti-war side than the pro-war side.

We can all be equally disgusted, but it is way more important for the anti-war side to see the lunatics and be revolted by their behavior.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Seriously, What is Going On?

I mentioned two big attacks carried out by the enemy recently when the enemy has rarely attacked in larger than platoon strength in the last couple years of fighting.

And now there has been another large attack (1,000 enemy from the Weekly Standard site article that linked to the post) repulsed by Iraqi defenders:

Iraqi security forces fought a pitched battle against al Qaeda in Iraq in the town of Amiriya this afternoon, according to Brigadier General Abdel Karim Khalaf, the director of the operations center in the Iraqi Ministry of the Interior. “Security forces supported by paramilitary units formed by Sunni tribes fought the militants in a battle that lasted several hours,” AFP reports. “Two top militants, Shakir Hadi Jassim and Mohammed Khamis, were among the dead.” Thirty-nine al Qaeda were killed and 7 were captured during the battle. There is no word on the number of security forces or “paramilitary units formed by Sunni tribes” killed during the fighting. The paramilitary units are the Emergency Response Units – battalions of tribal fighters formed by the Anbar Salvation Council.

This was the second big attack aimed at Amiriya, too. Certainly, we really need to be able to react with our forces to catch these attackers while they are massed. But I want to know why they are suddenly massing and assaulting our side instead of using terror and IEDs. This is an important change in the enemy's behavior.

Certainly, we should kill them when the chance presents itself. But we need to know why this is happening.

So what gives?

See No (Enemy) Evil

Some of our troops put panties on an Iraqi prisoner's head and it is called torture.

Iraqi "insurgents" target civilians and the world calls them freedom fighters. They start using poison gas and putting children in car bombs to get past our checkpoints, and the world doesn't even notice.

Again I ask, does the enemy have to bomb the Berkeley Women's Studies Department to get a reaction from our Left? Just a harsh word or two? Mild disapproval? A frown, maybe?

We live in a funny world.

No Water's Edge

Politics have by tradition stopped at the water's edge.

Supporters of the war in Iraq argue that the full-throated "dissent" carried out by the anti-war side undermines our war effort by encouraging the enemy.

Yet under our system, dissenters are free to express their opinions.

And dissent during war is nothing new. The Philippine Insurrection provoked domestic dissent just as strong as today.

The War of 1812 saw rumblings from New England to leave our new country to protest a war they believed hurt them.

Plenty of German-Americans and Irish-Americans were less than thrilled that America went to war in 1917 against Germany and on the side of the British.

And even in World War II, a quarter of our population did not support the war.

So our dissent today is hardly unique.

But what is different is how far that dissent carries. In the past, enemies would hear very little of our dissent. All they would see was our military fighting them with a silent monolith of America behind them, supplying them with weapons and sending more troops to fight our enemies. Our enemies were hard pressed to draw comfort and encouragment from our silent (to them) dissent. Politics stopped at the water's edge out of practical limits of broadcasting more than any common view that politics should stop at the water's edge.

Yet that apparent monolith as viewed from abroad was from here a seething cauldron of argument and dissent.

Sure, Vietnam with television provided a hint of this leakage of our dissent to the outside world, but that dissent did not prevent us from fighting through 8 years (1964 to 1972) and nearly 60,000 dead before we had to pull out of combat. But that was just the beginning of the problem.

Today, every bit of dissent is immediately broadcast worldwide. And this dissent is seen and heard 24/7. Some of it is so over the top that our enemies repeat the arguments as their own (think Michael Moore, here).

With this unprecedented view of a nation at war, is it any wonder that our enemies can think they can overcome our power? Instead of a monolith sending forth well-equipped and well-trained troops who win in battle with incredible skill and precision, the enemy sees a military that appears to lack the support of the people and politicians back home.

We need to bring back the water's edge.

This doesn't mean that we eliminate dissent. We need responsible dissent to improve our war effort. And we need to endure responsible dissent even when it doesn't because we are free. As long as it isn't treason, such speech must be endured.

But what we must learn to do is keep our squabbles inside our borders. We must dissent in ways that don't encourage the enemy by giving them talking points and hope that we will falter. We must lower the heat of the rhetoric. Hitler comparisons should go. And charges of lying should be reserved for actual lies. Surely, if most Americans want victory rather than defeat, it would be possible to argue without aiding the enemy unintentionally. Our dissenters strongly disagree with the idea they help our enemies, so they must not really want to help them.

I must say, however, that I honestly doubt we can recreate the water's edge.

The only thing we might be able to do is increase the volume of dissent visible from the enemy side to equalize the problem. If their dissenters are as loud and obnoxious as our dissenters, we'd have a better chance. Think of it as a level playing field.

If they have a bongo or two, so much the better.

Until we can address this problem, we will suffer great handicaps in fighting.