Thursday, May 31, 2007

Curtain of Despotism Still Descending

Lefties are divided between those who believe we are currently living under the Bushtatorship and those who think it is about to arrive (usually timed with national elections). This fear continues despite the inconvenient fact that they swept to victory in both houses of Congress. For a while, talk of rigged Diebold voting machines, voter suppression, and Bush martial law died down.

But the reality-based community can't be fooled by such diabolical distractions. Surely, throwing the 2006 Congressional elections was just another Rovian plot so deep and cunning that only Leftists with the college record of an Al Gore could see through the machinations.

Behold the brilliance of the reality-based community.

The End is Near Lefties are issuing a new warning (tip to Instapundit): President Bush will declare martial law so he doesn't have to leave office in 2009 at the end of his second term.

Really. That's what the guy wrote. Though the author is perplexed that the ACLU isn't terribly concerned about the smoking gun he discovered. Go figure.

Terrorism is a made-up threat according to the Left, but President Bush's imposition of martial law is always imminent. Congressional hearings are, of course, necessary. All these guys have left is fear itself, it seems.

What a bunch of weenies. In what way is this the "reality-based" community?

Destroy the Mullah Regime

Why this isn't reason for us to level every mullah-related structure in Iran is beyond me:

U.S. reconnaissance spacecraft have spotted a training center in Iran that duplicates the layout of the governor’s compound in Karbala, Iraq, that was attacked in January by a special unit that killed American and Iraqi solders. The U.S. believes the discovery indicates that Iran was heavily involved in the strike, which used a fake motorcade to gain entrance to the compound. The duplicate layout in Iran allowed the attackers to practice the exact procedures they would use at the real compound, the Defense Department believes.

Seriously, we are well beyond the point of needing reasons to destroy the mullah regime. And well beyond the possibility of persuading our Left that Iran is capable of any act of war against us.

We can't afford to wait and just hope that Iran will be a nice member of the international community.

Desert Won

Iran is holding at least five Americans hostage. Add in a couple American soldiers and five British citizens who may very well have been kidnapped for Iran by Iraqis loyal to Tehran.

Given that Ahmadinejad was a student involved in our embassy takeover at the start of the Iranian revolution some thirty years ago, I think it would go a long way to erase the stain of the defeat at Desert One if we could rescue the Americans now held in Iran.

This would be military action against Iran that only the most hardened Leftist could oppose (and that can't be any more than 20% of Congress, right?). It would demonstrate our strength and Tehran's weakness if we could pull it off, possibly encouraging revolt.

And maybe Iranian reaction would give us the excuse to tear apart their nuclear and security infrastructure.

I wonder if we could pull off a Desert Won? We still do want to defeat Iran, don't we? My confidence in my conviction on this score is wavering, I admit.

UPDATE: The Washington Post notices the hostage crisis.

Whose Kurds are the Problem?

The Turks are massing troops on their border with Iraq near the Kurdish region:

Military trucks hauled more tanks and guns to the border area Thursday, local reporters said. For weeks, TV stations have broadcast images of military trucks rumbling along the remote border, and trains transferring tanks and guns to bolster an already formidable force in the area.

The news reports make it obvious that the Turks may strike into Iraq in pursuit of Kurdish terrorists if we don't shut them down.

And it is likely that this is the explanation. Massing troops in this area is nothing new.

Yet as I've explained before, deception involves not hiding what you are doing, but hiding why you are doing it. If what you are doing can be seen, if the target believes you are doing something for a completely different reason, they may not respond.

If we are truly about to do something next month to overthrow the mullah regime as I suspect/hope, much like having extra American troops in Iraq and Afghanistan to forestall an Iranian counter-attack, the Turks would want extra troops near Iran.

The troops north of Iraq's Kurdish provinces are a short drive from Iran's Kurdish regions, too.

If a revolution begins against the mullahs and we support it, the Turks might want to have troops in the area both to discourage Iraq's Kurds from declaring independence in the crisis and to keep the Iranian Kurds from splitting from Iran and setting a bad precedent from Ankara's perspective.

We can see what is happening. Turkish troops and armor are massing in southeast Turkey. We just can't know for sure why it is happening--even if we think we know the answer.

... For the Children

Too often, politicians will defend their position for some program or law claiming it is all "for the children." That is supposed to be a debate-stopper. Who can be "against the children"?

Well, let's look at one small scene from Iraq (tip to Instapundit for citing this blog):

As civilians rightly run from a suicide bombing, an American soldier faces toward the danger.

And one Iraqi child reacts to save himself by hiding behind that American soldier. The child felt safer behind our soldier than he did running. And our soldier does not flinch from shielding that child.

Our Left likes to pose as "peace protesters." They will shamefully claim we are in Iraq to rape and pillage the land and people there, but our troops are protecting Iraqis from killers and giving their children hope for a secure future.

That little boy is just one reason our troops fight. I'm damned proud of our military.

Damned if We Do

We've been getting grief for not talking to the Iranians.

Now that we have talked to the Iranians (as futile as I think that is), we are of course getting grief for that:

Arab officials and commentators said Tuesday they feared the budding dialogue between Washington and Iran could cut them out of the debate over the future of Iraq, one of the region's most important countries.

Many of Iraq's Sunni Muslim-dominated neighbors worry that the U.S.-Iran dialogue could boost Iran's already enormous influence over the Iraqi government and security forces.

Iraq and Iran are both majority Shiite nations. But unlike Iran, which is Persian, most of Iraq's 27 million people are Arabs.

"Iraq should not be stripped out of its Arab identity, especially as Iraq is one of the outstanding members and founder of the Arab League," Ahmed ben Heli, the Arab League's undersecretary general told reporters in Cairo on Tuesday.

U.S. and Iranian ambassadors met in Baghdad on Monday to discuss the sectarian violence that has engulfed Iraq four years after the U.S.-led invasion. The meeting broke a 27-year diplomatic freeze between the U.S. and Iran.

What really strikes me is that the Sunni Arab world has spent the last four years undermining the Shia-dominated Iraqi government. Being Shia Arab was not good enough when the Sunni Arab world thought that they might be able to help the Sunni Arab Baathists shoot their way back into power. That plan hasn't worked out too well for anyone involved. And now the Arab world is looking to Iraq as the Arab shield against the Persian threat.

So although this demonstrates a certain amount of nerve on the part of the Arab world to worry we will sell them out in direct talks with Iran, their protests are actually a good sign. The Arab world accepts that their Arab champion against the Persians must be a Shia-dominated Iraq.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007


I know I'm a knuckle-dragger when certain news stories don't inspire me to whip out my check book and write a check to PBS, but instead make me smile just a little bit.

A Guantanamo Bay prisoner has committed suicide:

A Saudi Arabian detainee died Wednesday at Guantanamo Bay prison and the U.S. military said he apparently committed suicide. Guards at the U.S. Naval Base in southeast Cuba found the detainee in his cell unresponsive and not breathing Wednesday afternoon, the U.S. military's Southern Command said in a statement.

Apparently he's the fourth to off himself there. Good. That's progress. Slow progress--but a good start, nonetheless

I still don't understand why these suicides are supposed to be bad news. If jihadis want to commit suicide without taking any of us with them, I count that as progress. Bring on the rice pilaf, I say.

UPDATE: Well, the only downside is that the deader might have had information we need:

A Saudi Arabian detainee who apparently committed suicide at Guantanamo Bay had been held at the prison camp reserved for the least compliant and most "high-value" inmates, a U.S. military spokesman said Thursday.

Still, he is dead. That should count for something. May more despair.

Defending Democracy

President Bush sees an American military presence in Iraq for years or decades to come:

President Bush envisions a long-term U.S. troop presence in Iraq similar to the one in South Korea where American forces have helped keep an uneasy peace for more than 50 years, the White House said Wednesday.

This makes sense. The Iraqi security forces are geared for counter-insurgency at this point. Even as we succeed in turning over security duties and the counter-insurgency and counter-terrorism fights to the Iraqis, Iraq will need American combat units to deter conventional assaults on Iraq.

Our presence will also tend to reinforce the development of democracy as our presence did in South Korea, Japan, Italy, and Germany. So we need to stay in Iraq for the long haul. But the article also notes:

The comparison with South Korea paints a picture of a lengthy U.S. commitment at a time when Americans have grown weary of the Iraq war and want U.S. troops to start coming home. Bush vetoed legislation that would set timetables for U.S. troop withdrawals, and forced Congress to approve a new bill stripped of troop pullout language.

Of course, that might be a problem:

Our loyal opposition won't let us analyze this war objectively. They want to lose this war and are limited only by the state of public opinion. We have been in a race between defeating our enemies and defeating ourselves since fall 2003. We have to look ahead to the entire race and not just our portion. In Vietnam, we won our part of the race. But we stayed long enough to give a defeatist Congress the strength to forbid the South Vietnamese from finishing that race. I don't have the answer to this question. We have to draw down soon enough to preserve residual support for finishing the war but not so fast that we hinder the ability of the Iraqis to take the lead. And whenever we pull back (not out completely), we must not look like we are retreating or sound like it back home.

I hope we are in Iraq for decades as we have been in South Korea. It will mean a complete victory.

UPDATE: Henry Kissinger identifies the problem as I have (tip to Real Clear Politics):

Did the time needed to implement Nixon's design exhaust the capacity of the American people to sustain the outcome, whatever the merit?

I still don't know what the balance must be between staying to directly fight and build up the Iraqis versus pulling out and back to large bases even when those jobs aren't completed in order to retain enough support here to back the Iraqi government in fighting on its own.

The Choice at Hand

Iran is in bad shape economically and teetering towards nukes or revolution.

Even if we were not fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan, we would not have enough troops to occupy a country the size of Iran.

Further, Congress will not authorize the use of force against Iran. Any attack on Iran designed to take out the nuclear infrastructure would need to last weeks to do a really good job and hamper Iranian counter-attack options. So while we might initiate such a campaign, with Congress in the opposition party's hands I don't know if the President will initiate such a campaign and risk Congress halting us in mid-campaign. If we start to take Vienna, we should take Vienna. Congress might not let us take Vienna.

And anything else like a blockade or a seizure of Khuzestan oil fields would also take too long to bear fruit and risk Congressional rejection.

Which means that our only real option is regime change. If there is a revolt in Iran, with extra troops in Iraq and Afghansitan we are in a better position to hold off a desperate Iranian counter-attack with conventional arms.

There is one more choice to consider, however. The question of whether there will be a war between America and Iran (I mean other than the one in Iraq going on right now) could be answered by Iran:

What strategic consequences ensue from Iran's economic misery? Broadly speaking, the choices are two. In the most benign scenario, Iran's clerical establishment will emulate the Soviet Union of 1987, when then-prime minister Mikhail Gorbachev acknowledged that communism had led Russia to the brink of ruin in the face of vibrant economic growth among the United States and its allies. Russia no longer had the resources to sustain an arms race with the US, and broke down under the pressure of America's military buildup.

The second choice is an imperial adventure. In fact, Iran is engaged in such an adventure, funding and arming Shi'ite allies from Basra to Beirut, and creating clients selectively among such Sunnis as Hamas in Palestine.

I continue to predict that Iran will gamble on adventure rather than go the way of Gorbachev.

So will it be a revolt inside Iran that we support or a foreign adventure to strangle that budding revolt? And if Iran strikes first, will be take advantage of that move to end this three-decade crisis with the mullahs?

A lot may ride on who chooses first.

A Dreadful Lack of Nuance

The Left must hate it when the enemy doesn't act the way they are supposed to.

Al Qaeda is going off again about the terms of our surrender:

"Your failure to heed our demands ... means that you and your people will ... experience things which will make you forget all about the horrors of September 11th, Afghanistan and Iraq and Virginia Tech," he said in the seven-minute video.

Gadahn, who has been charged in a U.S. treason indictment with aiding al-Qaida, spoke in English and the video carried Arabic subtitles. The video appeared on a Web site often used by Islamic militants and carried the logo of al-Qaida's media wing, as-Sahab.

Gadahn, who appeared in an al-Qaida video last September in which he called on Americans to convert to Islam, demanded that Bush remove all U.S. military and spies from Islamic countries, free all Muslims from U.S. prisons and end support for Israel. He said a withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq alone would not satisify al-Qaida.

Yes, yes, death to the infidels. Let's get on to the main points.

That's quite a laundry list of demands from a bunch of guys into their sixth year of redecorating their cave walls with new shades of mud.

But consider how Gadahn fails to capture the nuance of our Left's talking points about the Iraq War. Just pulling out of Iraq is not enough. Gadahn seems to be painfully ignorant of the whole concept of the "good" war being the one in Afghanistan. We're to get out of all Moslem countries. How simplistic is that? Not even Murtha proposes redeploying all our people out of all Moslem lands to "nearby" Okinawa.

And we're to free all our prisoners who happen to be Moslem.

Oh yes, and death to Israel, of course. I have to assume they just Control F3 that one, or something.

The Left likes to think that when the jihadis mouth Howard Dean and Michael Moore talking points that it means the jihadis only hate President Bush. Face it, our enemies lack a certain nuance when it comes to our Left and our Right.

To the jihadis, we're all Americans, now. The jihadis want to kill us all.

Speaker to Power

Speaker Pelosi's trip to visit Bashar Assad was built on the hope that her presence to show interest in talking would pay dividends in contrast to the refusal of the Bush administration to talk to the Syrians in a public setting. The Assad regime agreed.

Sadly, in practice the Boy Assad has no interest in talking for talking's sake. He's out to survive and win.

So how has the boy king acted since this unauthorized foray into the diplomatic world?

Assad, at least, seems to have gained confidence that he can behave as brutally as he wishes without incurring too much international opprobrium. In the month since Pelosi’s visit, he has ratcheted up repression, all but snuffing out the lingering embers of the “Damascus spring” that followed his accession to power seven years
ago. Six prominent dissidents were packed off to prison for sentences ranging from three to twelve years, the longest term being given to Kamal Labwani for communicating with a foreign country,” i.e., the United States. “It’s back to the 1980’s, to the worst days of his father’s rule,” commented the exiled dissident Ammar Abdulhamid.

Our Speaker has moved on to other things. For her it was just theater. Another stage to bash the president. Time to move on while President Bush deals with the fallout. And the little people in Syria, of course, who lost the protection that fear of sharing Saddam's fate had on the Syrian regime's ruthless thugs. Toss in the Lebanese and Iraqis and our troops who face jihadis sent in by Damascus to kill.

For Assad, it was also a magical moment to savor. The visit was all he needed. It was a visible symbol that President Bush wouldn't be able to touch Assad with Bashar's new bestest friend extolling the virtues of engagement.

If the Speaker's purpose had been diplomacy, we'd say she failed miserably. But we all know that her mission succeeded wonderfully. It was all about our domestic politics--not Syria's. That imprisonment stuff was just unfortunate collateral damage.

UPDATE: Speaker Pelosi is one of many who foolishly think Syria can be a partner for peace:

There is nothing wrong with keeping an open mind on Syria. However, an "open mind" can be shorthand for blindness or bad faith. Given the evidence, it makes no sense to dismiss Syrian involvement in the Lebanese crisis, or to blame the crisis on an al Qaeda affiliate allegedly financed by the Lebanese government. Nor does it make sense to assume that Lebanon is a burden that the U.S. should jettison in favor of a stabilizing Syria, considering the fact that al Qaeda materialized from across the Syrian border. We're asked to believe that a group, said to be financed by the Siniora government, picked a fight with that very government, and somehow innocently did so just as the U.N. prepared to establish a tribunal the Syrians fear.

When Syria is systematically exporting instability throughout the region, you have to wonder whether its regime can be a credible partner to the U.S.

Why so many have such faith in the good will of Assad is beyond me.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

What Makes Them Angry?

Prime Minister Blair nails the bizarre argument that Iraq and Afghanistan cause Moslems to hate us (tip to Tim Blair):

I was stopped by someone the other week who said it was not surprising there was so much terrorism in the world when we invaded their countries (meaning Afghanistan and Iraq). No wonder Muslims felt angry.

I said to him: tell me exactly what they feel angry about. We remove two utterly brutal and dictatorial regimes; we replace them with a UN-supervised democratic process.

And the only reason it is difficult still is because other Muslims are using terrorism to try to destroy the fledgling democracy and, in doing so, are killing fellow Muslims.

Why aren't they angry about the people doing the killing? The odd thing about the conversation is I could tell it was the first time he'd heard this argument.

This extremism can be defeated. But it will be defeated only by recognising that we have not created it; it cannot be negotiated with; pandering to its sense of grievance will only encourage it; and only by confronting it, the methods and the ideas, will we win.

First of all, note that the Europeans think that even Afghanistan caused the enemy to hate us. This doesn't mesh well with our less hard core-Left's assertion that Afghanistan is the good war. Absent Iraq, our Left would hate the Afghan campaign, too.

And it doesn't explain all that pre-October 2001 terrorism directed at us.

But more to the point, if freeing Moslems from brutal and oppressive regimes and providing opportunities for democracy angers Moslems, why should we even care that they are angry with us? Why should we use our power to help save themselves instead of the far easier job of just destroying them?

If I thought that our current fight won't neutralize the jihadi nutball ideology in the long run, I'd be in the "more rubble, less trouble" school.

Fear Our Press Release!

The Taliban's spring offensive has been less than what they hyped, requiring a change to less expensive methods:

The Taliban announced a new strategy, which involves sending assassins and suicide bombers after government officials and foreign troops. There will be less emphasis on have large numbers of armed Taliban out and about (where they are spotted from the air, and attacked).

But these guys can still issue a scary-ass press release!

The situation of jihad in Afghanistan is going from good to better by the grace of God Almighty. The mujahidin's strikes against the Americans, NATO, and the agent governor are continuously increasing. God enabled the mujahidin in winter to train their soldiers and unify their ranks in preparation for swooping down on the tyrant enemy during this present season, which, God willing, will be a season of conquer and victory for the mujahidin and a season of vanquishing, defeat, and disappointment for the crusaders and their apostate helpers, as noted by Commander of the Faithful Mullah Muhammad Umar, may God save his soul.

Thanks to God, the mujahidin of the Islamic emirate are continuously increasing in number and their support by Muslims inside Afghanistan is almost full, particularly in the southern and eastern provinces. This support was manifested when Muslims realized the big difference between the agent government and that of the Islamic emirate, especially following the spread of injustice, bribery, corruption, insolence, lack of security and safety, killing, destruction, and prisons. This is in addition to the plantation of drugs and the increasing poverty and deprivation, all of which have come through the blessings of Mr Bush -- sorry -- Bush the liar and his servant Karzai, the puppet. I would like to bring good tidings to the Islamic nation, which is that there are hundreds of volunteers for martyrdom operations in Afghanistan, particularly Afghan citizens.

Words to warm the hearts of many anti-war types here and in the West. But more and more, we'll see a war by press release.

Wrong Problem

This polling is seen as damning of even moderate Moslems:

Muslims from Morocco to Indonesia, apparently share with their murderous, jihad terror waging co-religionists from al-Qaeda the goal (if not necessarily supporting the gruesome means) of re-establishing an Islamic Caliphate. Polling data just released (April 24, 2007) in a rigorously conducted face-to-face survey of 4384 Muslims conducted between December 9, 2006 and February 15, 2007-1000 Moroccans, 1000 Egyptians, 1243 Pakistanis, and 1141 Indonesians-reveal that 65.2% of those interviewed-almost 2/3, hardly a "fringe minority"-desired this outcome (i.e., "To unify all Islamic countries into a single Islamic state or Caliphate")[.]

Why is this a problem? Call it the Moslem Union and how different is this mood from whatever percent of Europeans want a united Europe? Yes, some European countries are more enthusiastic than others, but even if a majority does not want an EU, some sizable percentage wants it and perhaps another sizable portion doesn't care one way or the other very much.

So sure, a small number of Moslems who are jihadis want to disregard anybody else to get their version of a caliphate. That's bad. But again, what about Europe where elites want the EU despite popular opinion?

I only care if those Moslems want the jihadi version of the caliphate. I care if those polled think that bombing us to get that caliphate is the right thing to do. And I care if those Moslems think that the purpose of the caliphate is to attack the West.

Honestly, I worry more about a Brussels CalEUphate than I worry about a Moslem caliphate.

Axis of El Vil Update

Hugo, darling of the International Left, has shut down an outlet for free speech and has cleverly identified CNN as an agent of the Bushtatorship:

President Hugo Chavez's clampdown on opposition television stations widened Monday as police used rubber bullets and tear gas on demonstrators protesting what they called an attack on free speech.

Venezuela levied charges against US cable network CNN for linking Chavez to Al-Qaeda terror network headed by Osama bin Laden. The move came just hours after the shutting-down of the country's oldest television station, the openly anti-government Radio Caracas Television network.

The government also accused Venezuelan TV network Globovision of encouraging any would-be assassins of the president.

Information Minister William Lara showed at a news conference what he said was CNN footage of Chavez juxtaposed with images of an Al-Qaeda leader.

"CNN broadcast a lie which linked President Chavez to violence and murder," Lara said.

I'm sure our Left is just jealous that Fox News still broadcasts here.

Seriously, the television news seems to show some serious unrest. We shall see if this is a spasm and dies out; and if it doesn't die down, if Chavez orders the security forces (either military or his militias) to use deadly force to quell the disorder; and if Chavez does order his forces to shoot-to-kill, whether the military stands by and lets Chavez get away with murder.

Chavez won his first election yet is going forward with the old dictator rule of "one man, one vote, one time."

Carrier PLAN

While the Chinese are interested in aircraft carriers, they do not appear to be a high priority according to the 2007 Chinese military power document:

Lieutenant General Wang stated that, “we cannot establish a real naval force of aircraft carriers within three or fi ve years.” Some analysts in and out of government predict that China could have an operational carrier by the end of the 12th Five-Year Plan (2011-2015); others assess the earliest it could deploy an operational aircraft carrier is 2020 or beyond.

Clearly, reports I read a couple years ago speculating that the Chinese might have a carrier by 2008 were grossly wrong (I can't find the post on this. I'll put it here when I find it).

Yet they do have three hulls:

China purchased two former Soviet carriers – the Minsk in 1998 and the Kiev in 2000. Neither carrier was made operational; instead, they were used as floating military theme parks. Nevertheless, both provided design information to PLA Navy engineers.

In 1998 China purchased the ex-Varyag, a Kuznetsov-class Soviet carrier that was only 70 percent complete at the time of the Soviet Union’s collapse. Recent deck refurbishment, electrical work, fresh hull paint with PLA Navy markings, and expressed interest in Russia’s Su-33 fighter has re-kindled debate about a Chinese carrier fl eet. The PLA’s ultimate intentions for the Varyag remain unclear, but a number of possibilities exist: turning it into an operational aircraft carrier, a training or transitional platform, or a floating theme park – its originally-stated purpose.

I don't know what the theme parks are like, but could these three hulls be pressed into service as cut-rate mobile offshore bases (MOBs) for an invasion of Taiwan?

If China is truly interested in conquering Taiwan in the near future, might not the Varyag be useful as a staging base--a cheap MOB--that could be towed close to Taiwan? Load it with troops, SAMs, supplies, and helicopters, and tow it close to Taiwan where it will ferry troops to the beachheads? Ship in troops to the floating base using civilian vessels and then load them on military helicopters or smaller amphibious warfare vessels based on the jury-rigged MOB and get them ashore.

A cheap, made-in-China MOB could be one of many items that slip past our radar as we look for conventional amphibious warfare developments. The Varyag may be in play for a large Chinese throw of the dice, but it probably won't be a floating casino that emerges from Dalian.

And toss in two more theme parks potentially useful for this role.

Sneer is the Beginning of Wisdom

Cindy Sheehan has dropped out of the anti-war movement:

I have endured a lot of smear and hatred since Casey was killed and especially since I became the so-called "Face" of the American anti-war movement. Especially since I renounced any tie I have remaining with the Democratic Party, I have been further trashed on such "liberal blogs" as the Democratic Underground. Being called an "attention whore" and being told "good riddance" are some of the more milder rebukes.

I said long ago that she was just cannon fodder for the Left anti-war movement.

I hope the scorn that the Left heaped upon her will help her come to terms with her son's death and lead her to accept that he fought and died for a noble cause.


Ahmadinejad is getting nostalgic for his college days:

U.S. academic Haleh Esfandiari and two other Iranian-Americans have been "formally charged" with endangering national security and espionage, Iran's judiciary spokesman said Tuesday.

One guy works for a George Soros foundation--an obvious front group for the Bush administration, eh?

I guess I don't know whether to be relieved that the Iranians are unable to nab real Western spies or dismayed that there may be none and these are the most hostile Westerners the Iranians could identify.

Regardless, the Iranians are pushing back. I have to wonder how much time they think they need to buy.

Monday, May 28, 2007

Do Not Break Faith

Our war continues through another Memorial Day.

This is the fifth we've observed since September 11, 2001. I am grateful that the toll of this war does not add large numbers of new names to the long list of those who we are obliged by tradition and honor to thank for our freedoms. Yet the toll is no less horrible for those whose friends and family members returned home with a solitary military escort to be buried in their home town, far from where they died. And sadly, in a few cases there is not even this small comfort, with not even the body recovered.

Do not forget those who fell at Lexington Green, before the walls of Quebec, at Yorktown, at Bladensburg and New Orleans, at Vera Cruz and the Halls of Montezuma, on the frontier West and at Bull Run.

Remember those who died at Shiloh and Vicksburg, and the many who perished in numbers never seen before in the Wilderness.

Be thankful for those who died at Santiago and in Peking, and in the trenches at Chateau-Theirry, St. Mihiel, and Belleau Wood, and in Murmansk.

Remember our fathers who fought and died in Bataan and New Georgia, in The Slot and in the air over Germany, at Kasserine and Salerno, at Okinawa and Normandy, at Iwo Jima and Bastogne, and at Inchon and Chosin.

Remember our brothers who sacrificed at Hue and Khe Sahn, in the Parrot's Beak and the Ia Drang Valley.

And mark our dead from Kuwait and Tora Bora, and at Nassariya, Fallujah, Ramadi, Mosul, and Baghdad. We can't fully remember their sacrifice until we know whether we will have victory or defeat.

If it was solely based on their skill, dedication, and sacrifice, I'd have no worries about how to remember them. But alas, though our soldiers, Marines, airmen, and sailors are the ones who die and are dying in battle, the crucial front is here amongst those of us who are asked only to let them win.

IN FLANDERS FIELDS the poppies blow

Between the crosses row on row,

That mark our place; and in the sky

The larks, still bravely singing, fly

Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago

We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,

Loved and were loved, and now we lie

In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:

To you from failing hands we throw

The torch; be yours to hold it high.

If ye break faith with us who die

We shall not sleep, though poppies grow

In Flanders fields.

[With thanks to Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae of the Canadian Army.]

We will remember many more next year who today are alive and fighting to defend us. And in future years we will remember some who have yet to enlist--and some even who are yet to be born. This is a Long War.

But all who we will remember will have fought for us and died protecting us. As so many have already. Because there are sick fanatics out there who dream only of killing us, we need men and women who believe their duty is to stand guard over us and sacrifice their lives if necessary.

Those fanatics remember 9/11 as a day of victory. A day when they took four of our airliners on sleepy morning flights, crashed them into our buildings, and killed thousands of our people.

Memorial Day 2007 won't be our last Memorial Day at war. Regardless of how you remember those who have died in Afghanistan and Iraq today, our enemies will keep coming. You can believe the killing will stop if we just come home with the job undone. But that is a fantasy. Our enemies hated us before they claimed Afghanistan and Iraq as reason to kill us.

We must fight the jihadis and the states that find them useful until we destroy them and strangle the sick faith that drives them forward in their death orgy.

I remember all who have died to defend us here at home. From Lexington Green to God knows where our troops will fight for us next.

Hold their torch high. That's all they really ask of us.

Sunday, May 27, 2007

Prior to Victory

Victor Hanson writes that we are stronger than people think. Despite enemies who won't quit, the hype over global warming, and high oil prices, we are still quite strong:

In the last 60 years, we have been warned in succession that new paradigms in racially pure Germany, the Soviet workers’ paradise, Japan Inc., and now 24/7 China all were about to displace the United States. None did. All have had relative moments of amazing success — but in the end none proved as resilient, flexible, and adaptable as America.

I agree.

I would like to quibble with one point that actually reinforces Hanson's article:

After the collapse of the Soviet Empire in 1991, America proclaimed itself at the “end of history” — meaning that the spread of our style of democratic capitalism was now inevitable. Now a mere 16 years later, some are just as sure we approach our own end.

This compresses that history a bit too much and loses some needed detail.

In 1989, the Berlin Wall fell and there wasn't any sense of victory in the Cold War. It was as if two exhausted fighters teetered in the ring and the Red boxer fell first. Many in the West felt like a bruised Blue fighter still dazed at winning.

It was the 1990-1991 Persian Gulf War that made the Cold War seem like a victory:

With the Soviets in retreat in Eastern Europe, many saw the Cold War as ending because of Gorbachov's decisions or as the end of a long exhausting struggle that the US was winning only by default--the last of two combatants to drop their sword and collapse to the bloody ground.

Could we have pursued our course of action with this view of us--and our power--intact?What changed this developing view of the end of the Cold War was, first of all, our ability to bribe and coerce a large coalition (so how much did we pay for those Egyptian and Syrian divisions that affected the military campaign not a bit?) to go to war on our side. The enemy didn't even matter for this purpose. The point was that instead of a Cold War division of states, choosing sides as they always did between the US and USSR, the world aligned itself with us. Moscow just watched, unable and unwilling to affect the outcome.

Then the war itself, with a stunning display of our military power that crushed the enemy, cemented the view that American power was unstoppable. We beat a mini-USSR with its Soviet equipment and oppressive government. The proxy victory showed Soviet hardware (or Chinese copies) burning and abandoned in the desert, and left us supreme. No longer the exhausted, lucky survivor; we were victorious. And we felt victorious.

And when, by the end of 1991 the Soviet Union, too, went kaput, we became the hyperpower. The progression was clear: Cold War deadlock; Soviet irrelevance; American military victory; collapse of Soviet Union.

So when the Soviet Union itself imploded in August 1991 before the glow of Desert Storm wore off, it infected our view of the Cold War with an aura of real victory. We became the hyper-power and not the lucky victor who barely won on points.

I don't understand how some can think we are finished as the dominant power on the planet. Too many people are over-focused on our current problems in Baghdad and losing sight of the big picture. After we win this war in Iraq, there will be few cries that we are finished. We can dust off that old hyper-power terminology one more time. This will still be our century.

That's No Lady, That's My Wife!

The Chinese are upset about our military's report on China's military.

This seemed to really set off some newspapers. Including this complaint:

"The report even more insultingly says that China, out of concern for energy needs, has been enhancing ties with countries that violate human rights, support international terrorism and engage in nuclear proliferation," said the People's Daily.

"The 2007 annual report again seeks to mislead international opinion by using erroneous claims."

Iran? Sudan? Burma? North Korea? Zimbabwe? Surely we couldn't mean these good friends of China are human rights violators, support terrorism, or proliferate nuclear technology? Really, this is an outrage! These allies of China are just misunderstood! Victims of circumstance, to be sure!

I mean, the very idea that China associates with known hoodlums! How dare we insinuate anything of the sort! Ludicrous!

I fill downright silly now that the Chinese press has pointed out this erroneous claim.


The polls are open in Syria!

For all the talk among anti-war folks about how Arabs aren't ready for democracy, various autocratic states in the Arab world sure do go to great lengths to pretend they have democracy:

Syrian President Bashar Assad cast his vote at a polling station Sunday as part of a one-day public referendum to endorse him for a second term and bolster his autocratic rule.

Assad, who is the sole candidate and guaranteed a victory, did not speak to reporters after he voted.

Yet this is just a sham. Assad is no democrat:

But he has since clamped down on pro-democracy activists, showing the limits of his reforms and attracting harsh criticism from human rights groups. Regime critics point to rampant corruption and mass arrests. In the last two months, six government critics and human rights campaigners were convicted and sentenced to up to 12 years in prison.

I'm sure our House Speaker can instruct Assad on how to interpret his mandate from the people. No doubt it will involve our retreat from Iraq.

You know, Iraq? That actual democracy struggling against murderous thugs?

Standard Operating Procedure

Our troops in Diyala province uncovered a torture center operating by the enemy:

U.S. forces raided an al-Qaida hide-out northeast of Baghdad on Sunday and freed
42 Iraqis imprisoned inside, including some who had been tortured and suffered broken bones, a senior U.S. military official said Sunday.

Critics of the war often allege that American forces torture, but this is the real thing--not panties on heads or demeaning photos.

This type of brutality, when the enemy isn't in a hurry and just beheads their captives, is standard operating procedure.

Also standard is our effort to end such abuses by fighting the enemy.

Sadly, it is also standard operating procedure for the international "human rights" groups to fail to notice how our enemies act in their eagerness to find something--anything--that we've done wrong.

Saturday, May 26, 2007


Iran claims they have caught agents trying to undermine their government:

The Intelligence Ministry has "succeeded in identifying and striking blows at several spy networks comprised of infiltrating elements from the Iraqi occupiers in western, southwestern and central Iran," said the statement, using shorthand for United States and its allies.

The broadcast did not elaborate, saying further details would be published within days.

Meanwhile, the state IRNA news agency said the uncovered networks "enjoyed guidance from intelligence services of the occupying powers in Iraq and also that "Iraqi groups" were "involved in the case."

I hope that we have agents in Iran. I hope that we are planning to do something about the mullahs and their nuclear ambitions.

But I don't know if this Iranian announcement is just a pre-meeting attempt to shake us up or if the Iranians really did arrest some people working with us or for us.

If the latter, I hope we have plenty more to take up the slack. Let's get on with it already. Ahmadinejad wants nukes and that can't mean anything good for us.

Burnt Sienna

The situation in the Ukraine and Russia's involvement there had better be a high priority with our State Department. Instead of futile talks with Iranians and Syrians, we need to keep from losing a friend and potential ally. Let's reassure and help the Ukrainians and do our best to dissuade the Russians from getting all expansionist.

When countries start worrying about the loyalties of various portions of the security forces, it does not bode well for settling differences peacefully:

Ukraine's president said he took command of 32,000 Interior Ministry troops on Friday, and a ministry official rejected the order — deepening the country's political crisis as police guarded the office of the fired prosecutor general.

The former Soviet republic edged closer toward potential violence as lawmakers and officials allied with Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovych called President Viktor Yushchenko's order a "putsch," and hundreds of supporters of each of the rival politicians staged competing rallies in Kiev.

Yanukovych and Yushchenko, along with other top political leaders, met late Friday for the first time since the president fired the prosecutor general a day earlier.

Tensions between the pair have been building for weeks, and the president's move to take control over the troops, reflecting doubt on the loyalty of servicemen under the ministry's command, suggested rising concern over possible clashes.

Yushchenko wants to move Ukraine toward the West and eventual NATO membership. But tensions between ethnic Russians and Ukrainians could hamper that goal. I'm sure that Moscow is well aware of this rift and eager to absorb Ukraine into Russia. And our government has been warned as well.

The Orange Revolution is in danger of getting a bit burned.

UPDATE: This doesn't sound good:

Elite units from all over Ukraine, estimated by the interior ministry to total 3,600 men, drove in convoys of buses toward Kiev with the aim of guarding state buildings and "protecting public order," the president's office said.

But the special forces, carrying riot gear, were stopped by police at checkpoints around the country under orders from the interior ministry banning troop movements.

"The interior minister has given an order forbidding the movement of internal troops towards Kiev so that they do not upset public order," Kostyantin Stogny, a ministry spokesman, told AFP.

Security forces from rival politicians are confronting each other. This is not good. But so far nobody has shot at each other. So this is good.

We need to be on the phone with President Yushchenko so he knows of our support and on the phone with Prime Minister Yanukovych to make sure he doesn't plunge Ukraine into civil war.

Oh, and we should stand firm with Estonia in the current cyber-war so that Moscow doesn't get the wrong idea about Western resolve. This isn't about Estonia and it isn't about Ukraine. It is about a Russia that is pining for its glory days and we don't know what they are willing to do to regain the old Soviet borders.

UPDATE: The crisis appears over. Yushchenko has backed off on his demands for fast elections:

Ukraine's feuding president and prime minister agreed early Sunday to hold an early parliamentary election on Sept. 30, defusing a crisis that threatened to escalate into violence when the president sent troops streaming toward the capital.

I don't know if delaying elections until the fall is a problem, but at least there was no shooting.

We Need to Win Phase VII Too

The Iraq War will continue even if the Congress succeeds in "ending the war." They can do no such thing--they can only end our efforts to win it and our efforts to fight it. We must make sure that Congressional support does not erode so far that we can't win the war regardless of how long it takes.

I wrote in an Iraq SITREP that our current Phase VI in the war following earlier phases described here will not last much more than spring 2008. We've won a great deal and overcame setbacks:

With all this in mind, we are now debating the form of Phase VI. It began this month and will likely be the last phase dominated by American combat operations. I estimate it will last no more than sixteen months.

I wrote that in December. Whether Congress mandates retreat or not, we will face pressure to start pulling out in 2008. Maybe that pressure will be resisted until fall 2008, but we will start to pull out. Perhaps it will only be a brigade per month actually deploying back to their bases, but we will pull back from offensive combat faster.

Then we will need to prepare to participate in Phase VII of the war where we help the Iraqis finish off their enemies with the government and security forces we helped them build:

Phase VII will be the Iraq phase with the Iraqi government taking the lead in fighting the insurgents. We will supply air power, special forces, and keep at least seven brigades of troops inside Iraq to deter conventional invasion. I only question the pace of our draw down in this phase. The main question is whether we break Sadr's forces and the other Shia extremists and make the Iraqi government's task easier. The second question is whether Syria and Iran will continue to support their side, perhaps escalating to direct intervention. The third question is whether the government will win by winning hearts and minds or by slaughtering enemies. This phase will last as long as it takes one side or the other to win. Iraqis can't go home. It will be victory or death and on this struggle will depend our image for resolve in the Long War. And whether Iraq serves as a beacon of hope for others or simply reflects the realist-level goal of flipping an enemy Baathist state to a friendly authoritarian state.

In 1974 and 1975, our withdrawal had been delayed long enough to poison the chance we could do the same for South Vietnam. So given the predictable path of our loyal opposition, I have to say that reality argues for pulling out sooner than we might like to based on pure military factors.

Even if the fight is tougher by pulling out of the direct fight too soon, it would be better for us to pull out with enough support at home to back the Iraqi government than to fight a little longer and destroy the will to fight a longer war.

We will need to keep special forces to help kill al Qaeda. And we will need air power to support the Iraqis and logistics troops, too. And all the other combat support and combat service support functions that we are trying to build. Plus a cavalry regiment to screen the Iranian border and several brigade combat teams as a reserve and to deter the Iranians. Add a battalion task force in Kuwait, an afloat MEU, and several brigade sets of Army equipment and an afloat Marine set, and we'd have a potent force tethered to the defense of Iraq. Add, too, a parachute brigade in Italy and a Stryker brigade in Europe that can be flown into the area quickly. And yes, I've downgraded my assessment of what Congress will allow to remain in Iraq from a seven brigades to four with unit sets of prepositioned equipment to bring us up to seven or more by flying in troops. Oh, and add FBI help to fight corruption and other civilian assets to help the courts and the entire rule of law project.

We've defeated each main threat in Iraq since March 2003, as I wrote in that Iraq SITREP post:

We've fought off many threats. Don't lose hope people. In the broad sweep of the war, we are making progress. We faced setbacks in Phase III yet emerged in a stronger position to make real gains in Phase IV. We faced a different struggle in Phase V that we have not yet defeated, but it is not defeat for us by any stretch of the imagination. Yes, it is ugly in Iraq. I've never denied that. It is war. But that is what makes me avoid gloom. War is death and misery and tears. The only good thing is that we should fight to create something better out of that death and misery and plentiful tears. Who can doubt our Civil War produced far more of it all? Who can say we didn't create something far better? We can say the same for World War II. We can say the same for Korea. We can say the same for Afghanistan though that fight continues, too. I think we will be able to say the same about Iraq when we look back on it.

But all this will be for naught if we pull out too late and exhaust our will to defend our interests in the region in the Phase VII of this war. If you doubt this is possible, please recall the actual history of the defeat of South Vietnam in 1975 (tip to Powerline). Congress cut off funding for the war and refused to let our nearby forces help the South Vietnamese government fight the Hanoi invasion. It wasn't about protecting American troops who were no longer even in South Vietnam--it was all about ensuring an American defeat. And death and misery on an industrial scale followed in the bloody wake of that shameful abandonment of allies who were willing to fight even when we were not.

I hate to write this way, especially on the heels of the appropriations victory regarding Iraq, but that's the reality of the situation.

Our loyal opposition won't let us analyze this war objectively. They want to lose this war and are limited only by the state of public opinion. We have been in a race between defeating our enemies and defeating ourselves since fall 2003. We have to look ahead to the entire race and not just our portion. In Vietnam, we won our part of the race. But we stayed long enough to give a defeatist Congress the strength to forbid the South Vietnamese from finishing that race. I don't have the answer to this question. We have to draw down soon enough to preserve residual support for finishing the war but not so fast that we hinder the ability of the Iraqis to take the lead. And whenever we pull back (not out completely), we must not look like we are retreating or sound like it back home.

I still think we will win this race, but I'm not happy to have to fight a two-front campaign just for one war.

Friday, May 25, 2007

Cast a Giant e-Shadow

The Russian-Estonian Cyber War of 2007 continues. See here for some background.

While Russia can't get away with using their military to strike Estonia--a NATO country--I'm not sure that Russia made a wise choice here. It seems to me that ultimately, the Russians are playing to their foe's strength:

Estonia—"e-Stonia" to its fans—practices forms of e-government advanced even by Western European standards. Estonians pay taxes online, vote online, bank online. their national ID cards contain electronic chips. When the country's Cabinet meets, everyone brings their laptop. When denial-of-service attacks start taking down Estonian Web sites, it matters.

Even if NATO offers only defensive help to resist these Russian cyber-attacks, if the Estonians are as wired as this article says, the Estonians will have the skills to strike back at Russia on an even playing field.

Remember, in cyberspace, nobody knows you're a dog--or a little country like Estonia. Putin may have picked on the wrong country.

Coalition of the Willing

The battle near Tripoli between the Lebanese government and jihadis backed by Iran and Syria is still going on.

American, Jordanian, and United Arab Emirates help has arrived in the form of military supplies:

The United States and Arab allies rushed military aid to Lebanon Friday, boosting its strength ahead of a possible army assault to crush al-Qaida-inspired Islamic militants barricaded in a Palestinian refugee camp.

You can be sure that Iran and Syria are sending help to their side. Their side is the terrorist guys, if you'll recall. I guess the Speaker's trip didn't have that much of an impact on the Boy Assad.

Chinese Military Power

The DOD's annual report on Chinese military power is out.

I look forward to perusing it.

And as long as I'm at it, here's a link to a summary of a RAND report on Chinese anti-access strategies.

I'll have posts on both of these documents, I'm sure.

Tanned, Rested, and Ready to Work!

Sadr returned from his Iranian vacation to blast the United States:

"No, no for Satan. No, no for America. No, no for the occupation. No, no for Israel," he chanted in a call and response with the audience at the start of his speech. He repeated his long-standing call for U.S. forces to leave Iraq.

"We demand the withdrawal of the occupation forces, or the creation of a timetable for such a withdrawal," he said. "I call upon the Iraqi government not to extend the occupation even for a single day."

He also condemned fighting between his Mahdi Army militia and Iraqi security forces, saying it "served the interests of the occupiers." Instead, he said the militia should turn to peaceful protests, such as demonstrations and sit-ins, he said.

Al-Sadr's Mahdi Army fought U.S. troops to a virtual standstill in 2004, but to avoid renewed confrontation he ordered his militants off the streets when the U.S. began its security crackdown in the Baghdad area 14 weeks.

Al-Sadr's associates say his strategy is based partly on a belief that Washington will soon start reducing troop strength, leaving a void in Iraq's security and political power structure that he can fill.

Why is he back inside Iraq? Perhaps he needed to return to counter the loss of his ministers in the government to replacements. Which would say something about the significance of this action, eh? Perhaps he finished his 3-month IED assembly course in Tehran.

But that is perhaps irrelevant. As long as he is back, can't the Iraqis finally arrest him or plant him six feet under? On this point, I'd like to correct a common error made in the AP article--Sadr did not fight us to a standstill in August 2004. We beat the snot out of him and then didn't finish him off because the Iraqi government said they'd rather deal with him.

And now he's still here as the result of that decision. Further, his belief in our pending retreat is yet another consequence of our Congress fighting tooth and nail to lose this war. Add Sadr as another price for that dissent our Left is conducting.

Admit it, it would be easy to imagine some of our representatives in Congress chanting right back at Sadr. God love 'em. 'Cause I sure won't.

UPDATE: Demonstrating that his presence isn't quite intimidating us, we nailed the leader of a Mahdi Army cell bringing in EFPs and agents trained in Iran. When the Mahdi Army gathered up to attack the raiding party, he hit them from the air:

A day after radical Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr resurfaced to end nearly four months in hiding and demand U.S. troops leave Iraq, American forces raided his Sadr City stronghold and killed five suspected militia fighters in air strikes Saturday.

In the South, the British sent the same message:

Hours after the cleric spoke in at a key Shiite shrine in Kufa, about 100 miles south of Baghdad, the notorious leader of al-Sadr's Mahdi Army militia in the city of Basra was killed in a shootout as British and Iraq troops tried to arrest him, police and the British military said, further inflaming tensions in the Shiite areas of southern Iraq.

It is turning out that Sadr is not as potent a force as I feared before the surge. What is important is whether he is still powerful enough to cause us serious problems. These actions against Sadr's boys certainly convey the message that we aren't quaking in our boots at the thought of the Idiot Sadr strutting about inside Iraq.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Cause and Effect

The House passed a clean funding bill for the Iraq campaign through the end of September. I imagine the Senate will pass this quickly.

But with reports that the enemy will try to influence the debate in the fall (see this post), the President tried to brace us for a bloody fall:

Gen. David Petraeus, the top commander in Iraq, has pledged to report to the administration and Congress in September on the progress made in the war, and Bush conceded that al-Qaida terrorists and illegal militias will make sure there is heavy fighting in the interim to try and sap the will of the United States.

"And so, yes, it could be a bloody — it could be a very difficult August," he said.

It is telling that the enemy will time their offensive to coincide with our domestic debates. The enemy knows where our weak point is.

This, of course, is the wholly predictable result of the vigorous dissent over the war that our Left exercises.

Our Left usually leaves a bloody trail of victims behind them.

UPDATE: Congress passed the funding legislation without timetables but will continue to try and lose the war:

Democrats looked to the upcoming votes after losing a bruising battle with Bush on an emergency war spending bill. Lacking the two-thirds majority needed to overcome another presidential veto, Democrats dropped from the legislation a provision ordering troops home from Iraq beginning this fall.

Congress passed the revised $120 billion spending bill on Thursday, providing $95 billion for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan through September. The House voted 280-142 to pass the bill, followed by a 80-14 vote in the Senate.

Funny enough, there will be synergy between these votes and enemy actions in Iraq.

Actually, this isnt that funny. It is part of the enemy plan (tip to Instapundit):

Until the media start reporting the war in more complete context, it will be impossible for the public to accurately gauge the success or failure of “the surge” or any other aspect of the war in Iraq.

News of even significant progress in any region of Iraq can be silenced with one strategically placed bomb or beheading. Unfortunately, media manipulation is one aspect of the war the terrorists appear to have mastered.

Our press cynically questions everything our government or military says about the war, but just rolls along as an effective partner in our enemy's war effort.

But hey, as long as somebody gets a Pulitzer out of it, this will be well worth it, right?

UPDATE: Actually, all those votes and IEDs are probably fairly pointless since the press and the Left won't believe any progress report from Iraq.

Remember, it isn't enough for us to be winning--we must be winning so obviously that even the dolts who report on the war must be able to understand it.

Sprung Offensive

Spring is when Taliban and al Qaeda emerge from their warm caves and come out to kill.

I was skeptical that the Taliban would manage a spring offensive this year after we killed thousands the last round in 2006, spent the winter on offensive going after their lairs and building border outposts to interdict crossings from Afghanistan, and launched our own spring offensive. (next year in kabul)

But I did not rule out that the Taliban might somehow get one in gear.

Still nothing to write home about (tip to Instapundit):

The Taliban's much-vaunted spring offensive has stalled apparently due to lack of organisation after dozens of middle-ranking commanders were killed by British
troops in the past year, according to military sources.

Good job by the Brits, but their analysis of the cause of the Taliban failure is rather a bit focused if you ask me...

Political Progress

Sadr is being pushed aside a bit more by the Iraqi government:

Iraq's prime minister asked Parliament Thursday to approve six new Cabinet members to replace a group which resigned last month on the orders of radical Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr.

Al-Sadr ordered his ministers to quit the government over Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki's refusal to call for a timetable for U.S. withdrawal. The anti-American cleric went into hiding in Iran last February when the Baghdad security crackdown was launched.

Hopefully this will help the government get its house in order to cut deals with Sunni Arabs to abandon the jihadis and Baathists, and cut deals with Sadr's boys to stop killing Sunni Arabs.

Of course, even though the Sunni Arabs know that they must join the government, they must now endure attacks by the jihadis who are trying to enforce loyalty through fear:

A bomb hidden in a parked car struck the funeral procession of a Sunni tribal leader who was gunned down earlier Thursday, killing at least 26 mourners as al-Qaida appeared to turn up its campaign of frightening its growing opposition into submission.

I have to wonder how long it will be before Iran's agents start killing Iraqi Shias. During the Iran-Iraq War, the Iranians refrained for a long time from bombarding Basra. But eventually the Iranians decided the residents of Basra were more Iraqi than Shia and so shelled the city freely as the Iranians tried to capture the city.

Memorial Day 2007

We will meet with the Iranians on May 28th to discuss Iraq. This is the day we remember our war dead.

I imagine we will bring up one way our military personnel are dying:

U.S.-led forces discovered a cache of Iranian money and bomb-making equipment during a raid Wednesday morning in the Shiite neighborhood of Sadr City in Baghdad, the military said. Two suspected militants were killed in the raid and 19 others detained, the military said.

Demanding that the Iranians stop killing our troops will likely get a little more press on Memorial Day. I think Iran's actions are grounds for war, but I'm not as generously tolerant of our enemies as our Left is.

Driving Out the Invaders

Strategypage writes about the increasing unity in Iraq:

Meanwhile, everyone is getting more patriotic. It's no longer cool to take orders from Iran. So Muqtada Al Sadr, and his Mahdi army, are becoming less a tool of Iran, and more a mainstream Iraqi political movement. Sadr is even sitting down and cutting deals with Sunni Arab politicians. At the same time, the Mahdi Army is being purged of factions that don't go along with the new peace and reconciliation approach. Those radical factions are still killing Sunni Arabs, while Sunni Arabs and al Qaeda continue to slaughter Shia Arabs. This is not popular with Iraqis in general, and the terrorists are increasingly seen as a public menace that all Iraqis must unite to destroy.

Iraqis are really getting fed up with all the violence. To that end, the police are getting more cooperation from civilians, who are reporting more terrorist activity. But civilians are more concerned with criminal activity, especially armed robbery and kidnapping. The gangs that grew to power (as enforcers and business partners) under Saddam, are still thriving. This is especially true in Sunni Arab areas. But the gangs are major victims when American and Iraqi troops come in, to clean out Sunni Arab neighborhoods and towns.

Heck, even Time magazine has figured this out (tip to Instapundit):

There is good news from Iraq, believe it or not. It comes from the most unlikely place: Anbar province, home of the Sunni insurgency. The level of violence has plummeted in recent weeks. An alliance of U.S. troops and local tribes has been very effective in moving against the al-Qaeda foreign fighters. A senior U.S. military official told me—confirming reports from several other sources—that there have been "a couple of days recently during which there were zero effective attacks and less than 10 attacks overall in the province (keep in mind that an attack can be as little as one round fired). This is a result of sheiks stepping up and opposing AQI [al-Qaeda in Iraq] and volunteering their young men to serve in the police and army units there." The success in Anbar has led sheiks in at least two other Sunni-dominated provinces, Nineveh and Salahaddin, to ask for similar alliances against the foreign fighters.

Don't let your jaw drop too much over both an admission that al Qaeda is in Iraq and the report of success in getting Sunni Arabs to fight the jihadis. Klein goes on to rap Bremmer and point out problems.

I speculated that the Iraqis--including Sunni Arabs --could rally against the jihadi invaders and repair old wounds with a common enemy.

This follows from my three-year-old prediction that the Baathists blundered by siding with the jihadis and would simply drive the Shias to our side.

It is taking more time than I expected, but there could be more unity forged from this bloodshed than many people who want to partition Iraq can imagine right now:

This trend will lead to victory over the enemy and may well solidify a national Iraqi identity first forged in the Iran-Iraq War in the 1980s. We shall see if the artificiality of Iraq is any more significant than the artificiality of any other country that relies on lines drawn on maps to describe itself.

And even Shias are turning on the Idiot Sadr seeing him for the Iranian tool he is.

Remember, everyone can hate jihadis as the real enemy! If Iraq's Sunni Arabs can do it, even Western Leftists can, too!

While there are plenty of killers in Iraq to be tracked down, the killers who can actually succeed in defeating the government and taking over are declining to near zero.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Numbed into Passivity

After four years of thinking that Iran is the biggest threat we face, I've thought on several occasions that war was imminent. I don't think we can afford to live with Iranian nuclear weapons controlled by unstable mullahs.

I'd prefer a course of action that overthrows the mullahs on the theory that it is the regime that is the problem. But I'll settle for an aerial campaign that sets back the Iranian drive for nuclear weapons some unknown number of years. And it isn't either/or, I imagine.

But after several rounds of seeing and connecting dots that may or may not be related, I've gotten numb to the point of almost despairing that we will attempt to defeat the mullah regime.

Almost. My latest theory is that America and Britain will take action before Blair leaves office. This coincides with the completion of the surge that leaves five more American brigades in Iraq and another in Afghanistan. It also coincides with a carrier rotation in the Gulf. Depending on the movement of that third departing carrier, it might remain in a position to make a dash back to the Gulf to leave us with three carriers able to strike Iran.

But maybe if I'm numb, the Iranians are too. Thinking they have us on the defensive because of Iranian hostage seizing, support for violence in Iraq and Lebanon, and the failure of the international community to unite around stopping Iran's nuclear program, the mullahs may be numb to our military moves.

Neutralizing Sadr with the surge? Just a temporary setback, the mullahs think.

More US troops on their borders? They're just in quagmires the mullahs may think.

Carriers nearby exercising?

The U.S. Navy staged its latest show of military force off the Iranian coastline on Wednesday, sending two aircraft carriers and landing ships packed with 17,000 U.S. Marines and sailors to carry out unannounced exercises in the Persian Gulf.

The carrier strike groups led by the USS John C. Stennis and USS Nimitz were joined by the amphibious assault ship USS Bonhomme Richard and its own strike group, which includes landing ships carrying members of the 13th Marine Expeditionary Unit.

Just exercises. Don't worry about them, the mullahs may say.

Yet there is this report (tip to Instapundit):

The CIA has received secret presidential approval to mount a covert "black" operation to destabilize the Iranian government, current and former officials in the intelligence community tell the Blotter on

The sources, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the sensitive nature of the subject, say President Bush has signed a "nonlethal presidential finding" that puts into motion a CIA plan that reportedly includes a coordinated campaign of propaganda, disinformation and manipulation of Iran's currency and international financial transactions.

As if we haven't been doing this for some time? The article says this finding is all about pressuring Iran over the nuclear question. What if this isn't really the start of preparations to destabilize the Iranian regime? What if this is the culmination of that effort as it reaches the point it can't avoid being publicized? The Iranians must notice something up. If the cover story is that we are applying pressure over the nuclear program, the mullahs will laught and go on their merry way.

We also know that we can't hide the movement of significant forces to the region. We can only hide the purpose (as I note here) and make the Iranians believe they have nothing to do with Iran. Or at least, nothing to do with taking decisive action against Iran.

So what if the additional troops in Iraq are really about insurance against an Iranian attack?

What if our carriers are rotating in such a way to keep three in the region at this point in time?

What if we acted against Sadr to take away an Iranian counter-attack option?

What if the visits to the region by Cheney, Rice, and Blair are about nailing down support for action?

And the anti-Iranian vibes from Arab states reflect at least a feeling that we will deal with Iran soon?

What if President Bush and Prime Minister Blair are determined not to leave office without defeating the Iranian mullahs?

What if there are other dots to be connected?

And what if our president really doesn't like small ball?

I've been wrong many times (like here) that we will soon support a revolt to end the mullah regime, possibley going after regime supports and the nuclear infrastructure while we back the revolt.

Doesn't mean I'm always going to be wrong. Iran isn't any less of a threat, after all this time. And consider that if I'm far less sure of our taking action after false alarms, surely the mullahs of Iran--who appear to be getting ready for a victory lap--are numbed into passivity by the long crisis with no seeming end.

UPDATE: Those things do move fast. Eisenhower is back in home port, so no third carrier on call.

UPDATE: Ahmadinejad certainly seems numbed to our actions in his headlong rush to acquire nukes:

"If Iran's right to nuclear technology is confirmed, all nations of the world will gather under Iran's political banner. Enemies of Islamic Iran know this, and for this reason they have mobilized," Ahmadinejad said.

The leader said Iran doesn't fear its foes' attempts to thwart its nuclear ambitions.

"The enemy is applying its ultimate capabilities against Islamic Iran, which will be useless," Ahmadinejad said. "With the support of the Iranian nation, we do not fear the enemy's hyperbole and psychological warfare. We are nearing our final goals."

The comments appeared to be a reference to U.S. military exercises that began this week in the Gulf. The U.S. has brought two aircraft carrier groups and other ships off Iran's shores in a show of strength directed toward Tehran.

The Iranians have learned to discount any move as anything more than hyperbole and psychological warfare. If we strike, we will achieve a significant amount of surprise. He is so focused on getting to their final goals that they may be quite blinded to what we are doing in plain sight.

Oh, and does anyone really think the Iranians aspire to lead the nations of the world under their banner of clean, non-polluting nuclear-generated electricity?

UPDATE: Via The Tank, somebody thinks action is coming:

Today, Iran is primed for overthrow. Its economy is a shambles, with unemployment at 25% or more, inflation at 20% and 40% of its people living below poverty. Fully a quarter of its population is 15 years or younger, and they've grown angry at the repression and lack of opportunity that Iran's mullahs represent.

We seem to be edging ever closer to making it our official goal to get rid of Ahmadinejad and his pals. That may be the next logical step, after economic sanctions fail — as they're likely to do.

Though their timeline, which requires some more time on sanctions, seems a bit too long. But as I've been compelled to admit numerous times now, I could be wrong.

Phantom Surge

Via Weekly Standard, this San Francisco Chronicle article thinks they've discovered a secret surge to put 28 brigades into Iraq by the end of the year:

The first surge was prominently announced by President Bush in a nationally televised address on Jan. 10, when he ordered five more combat brigades to join 15 brigades already in Iraq.

The buildup was designed to give commanders the 20 combat brigades Pentagon planners said were needed to provide security in Baghdad and western Anbar province.

Since then, the Pentagon has extended combat tours for units in Iraq from 12 months to 15 months and announced the deployment of additional brigades.

Taken together, the steps could put elements of as many as 28 combat brigades in Iraq by Christmas, according the deployment orders examined by Hearst Newspapers.

Army spokesman Lt. Col. Carl S. Ey said there was no effort by the Army to carry out "a secret surge" beyond the 20 combat brigades ordered by Defense Secretary Robert Gates.

Good grief. The paper wouldn't assign somebody to the fashion beat who nothing about clothing but the paper thinks it can analyze deployment orders.

Let me say that while the basic concept of overlapping forces as they deploy in to replace other units leaving Iraq could increase forces during the overlap, it will not produce such a massive increase. Years ago on my old site I noted this as an option to put more troops in the field. We've done it before in Iraq.

As for the idea that we would have 28 brigades in Iraq? We barely have enough with 15-month Army tours to support 20 in Iraq and a couple brigades in Afghanistan!

If we truly put 28 brigades into Iraq, we'd have to either abandon Iraq or extend troops for the duration or something. I truly don't know how the analysis could conclude that we are planning a secret surge.

No wait, I know how--papers see nothing wrong with assigning reporters with zero knowledge about the military to writing articles about the military. Their food reporter probably has an advanced degree in some food-related subject.

UPDATE: Not on the main topic, but related to the woeful inadequacies of our press corps in discussing anything regarding the military. This time it is body armor.

Be all you can be, boys. Sadly, they are.

Itching for a Fight?

The Iranians seem to believe they are destined by Allah to win. If they truly believe this, large-scale aggressive action cannot be discounted.

Amir Taheri (via NRO) notes that recent acts of violence in different places seem to have Iran's fingerprints on them:

All this, of course, may sound like circumstantial evidence. But a careful reading of recent statements made by the Khomeinist leadership in Tehran would show that the Islamic Republic and its regional allies, including Syria, Hezbollah, Hamas, Hizb Islami and a dozen lesser-known radical outfits, have decided to pass on a message. The message has three themes:

* Radical Islam in the region is not controlled solely by al Qaeda and its allied groups and that the Khomeinist movement and its clients remain as potent as ever.

* The U.S.-led efforts to build a regional alliance against Tehran will provoke Khomeinist counter-attacks across the Middle East.

* Tehran regards the forthcoming negotiations with Washington as the diplomatic side of its broader campaign to destroy the Bush Doctrine and drive the United States out of the Middle East.

I reported earlier on more ominous thinking that Iran was preparing for some type of wider offensive:

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?

We may think that any Iranian action is foolish, but if they really believe God is on their side, taking on even a superpower is not terribly risky, now is it?

I'll ask again, what is Iran up to?

The Real Surge

The addition of troops to Iraq is the least significant portion of the Iraq surge.

I've argued we could succeed with the change in strategy and could succeed with few or no new troops.

Austin Bay notes the importance of the change in military strategy and the far more important non-military measures (though he does not argue against the extra troops, I should add, he does mention that whether you go in with a heavy footprint or a light footprint, each has advantages and disadvantages. It isn't the clear choice between the right and wrong approaches that troop level critics insist on):

What Petraeus has changed is the "level of presence" in violent areas. The relentless targeting of Shia and Sunni extremist organizations is a far more important feature of what Iraqis are calling "the new security plan" than simply sending more U.S. troops into the streets.

Since Petraeus took charge, the economic and governmental (Iraqi political) "lines of operation" have received increased public emphasis. This new emphasis is very much a part of the "surge." The "surge" is commonly referred to as if it were solely a fighting strategy -- in reality, the intent is to work synergistically with economic and political activities, and it amounts to armed nation-building. Iraq's provincial reconstruction teams (PRTs) are being revamped. Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki's national reconciliation program remains the key Iraqi political endeavor. In Iraq, economic and governmental progress is a frustratingly incremental and painstaking effort, but that holds true for every other hard corner of the planet.

Last summer, I recognized that we should consider the heavy footprint approach in Baghdad even as we tried to work with a light footprint elsewhere in the Sunni center. This is what we are now doing in the central region of Baghdad and the surrounding areas. And whether it is a heavy or a light footprint, the objective is the same--to buy time with the military for the non-military lines of operations to advance sufficiently to dry up the insurgency and terrorism.

My worry about the troop surge is that the extra forces reduce our patience--our real need--to such a degree that the surge of troops negates the gains made possible by more troops.

We are on the right path to victory. I just don't know how long that journey is.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

The Gulf Between Iran and the Arab World

I guess there's a reason Iran went all the way to the steppes of Russia to find friends--Iran's neighbors don't like what they see:

Former Saudi ambassador to Washington, Prince Turki al-Faisal, scolded Iran, saying that the predominantly Persian country had little to do with Israeli-Palestinian peacemaking. "It's an Arab issue and should be resolved within the Arab fold," he said.

But the tough talk from Arabs did little to quell Mottaki, who at one point referred to the six-nation Gulf Cooperation Council — which includes Saudi Arabia and the UAE but not Iran — as the Persian Gulf Council.

That offended Arab Gulf countries, which refer to the Persian Gulf as the Arabian Gulf and for whom the name carries great significance.

Despite the bitter words, both Mottaki and Larijani tried to reassure their Arab neighbors that Iran was not the problem and had good intentions.

Larijani, the brother of Iran's top nuclear negotiator, also urged Arab countries to support his country's nuclear program.

The U.S. and some of its allies have accused Iran of pursuing nuclear weapons; Iran says its program is peaceful.

But Mideast neighbors have grown worried, and some, including the GCC, Egypt and Jordan, have announced they want to start their own nuclear programs for peaceful purposes.

Iraqi Vice President Tariq al-Hashemi was perhaps the most blunt.

"We say stop your interference in our internal affairs, stop settling scores on our soil ... and sit down with us to settle our differences," al-Hashemi said.

With a common Persian foe, the Iraqis will be able to rejoin the Arab world despite Arab worries about a Shia-run Iraq. Remember, Syria is a Sunni-majority state run by a Shia sect (the Alawites) and the Arab world has been fine with this. Recall too that Egypt used the Iran-Iraq War to get back into the Arab fold after making peace with Israel. A common Persian enemy reminds Arab states what is at stake.

The Strait of Hormuz may be narrow, but the gulf between Persian Iran and the Arab world remains very large indeed.

We remain key to stopping the Persians. And the Arab states know it. Do we?