Monday, November 30, 2009

Pulling Victory from the Jaws of Defeat

Despite our initial attempts to hand Honduras to that Hugo-wannabee Zelaya, in the end we have done the right thing and supported democracy in Honduras (although quietly so as not to admit any error in our initial position). The biggest hurdle is out of the way:

Unless something monumental happens in the Western Hemisphere in the next 31 days, the big regional story for 2009 will be how tiny Honduras managed to beat back the colonial aspirations of its most powerful neighbors and preserve its constitution.

Yesterday's elections for president and Congress, held as scheduled and without incident, were the crowning achievement of that struggle.

National Party candidate Porfirio Lobo was the favorite to win in pre-election polls. Yet the name of the victor is almost beside the point. The completion of these elections is a national triumph in itself and a win for all people who yearn for liberty.

We still have to make it another month to see if Zelaya tries a real coup with guns backed by Venezuela, Cuba, and Nicaragua, but so far so good.

And how will the Hondurans view us after we stood with the despots for so long?

UPDATE: Luckily for us, the Hondurans have no place else to go:

Honduras' president-elect is not worried that many countries do not recognize his election. Washington supports Porfirio Lobo, and that's what matters most to this Central American nation.

Let's not lose this victory.

Is It Hot in Here, Or is It Just Me?

As we see how the science of global warming climate change was carried out, what with the data problems at the Climate Research Unit and all, you have to wonder how soon the pressure will break open the previously closed system, curtained off from real review, that had true believers double-checking the work of other true believers.

Can this religion survive the loss of the original data upon which any actual scientific review of their conclusions depends?

Can it survive the demolition of the very model itself as a Rube Goldberg contraption that looks more and more like something less solid than cold fusion?

Will we be able to conclude that the answer to the question of the global warmers about whether it is getting hot in here is "no, it's just you"?

It will be a while, even if the leaked emails and codes are as damning (and authentic) as they appear. For now, the global warmers just tell us to pay no attention to the Mann behind the curtain!

UPDATE: The global warmers are sweating a bit. The climate science isn't dead. It's just very quiet.

Once More, With Feeling!

Despite apologies, speeches, outreaches, disavowal of our history, retreats, concessions, deep bows, and projectile nuancing just pouring out of Foggy Bottom, the Moslem world still seems a bit upset with us:

Mr. Obama's election has not drained the swamps of anti-Americanism. That anti-Americanism is endemic to this region, an alibi and a scapegoat for nations, and their rulers, unwilling to break out of the grip of political autocracy and economic failure. It predated the presidency of George W. Bush and rages on during the Obama presidency.

I'm sure our foreign policy stewards have worked up a nice memo arguing that we're just one more good, heart-felt apology away from getting that special Sally Field moment in the Moslem world.

You Made Me Do It!

Any victim of spouse abuse will unerstand this Iranian reaction as the world focuses (however ineffectively) on their drive for nuclear weapons:

Vice President Ali Akbar Salehi told state radio that Iran's decision to build 10 new uranium enrichment facilities was necessary after the International Atomic Energy Agency's resolution Friday demanded that Iran halt all enrichment activities.

Yeah. Ignore their drive for nuclear weapons and they'd quietly pursue nuclear weapons. Point out that they are driving for nuclear weapons and they'll go even faster.

Yep. Our fault. Totally. We probably deserved it. I mean, if we hadn't run into a door, you know.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Dishonor and War

The Obama administration has sold out democracy protesters in Iran in order to strike a deal with the mullahs in order to end their nuclear weapons ambitions.

Iran has repaid our outstretched open hand that allowed the regime to arrest and brutalize the protesters with this decision:

A Cabinet meeting headed by President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad ordered the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran to begin building five uranium enrichment sites that have already been studied and propose five other locations for future construction within two months.

But why should we be surprised? We are retreating. So they advance.

UPDATE: And it should not be surprising that our various outstretched hands and resets are viewed as retreats and opportunities to gain at our expense:

Usually aggression, bullying, and nationalist agendas evolve into wars—when the aggressive party is convinced it has more to gain through war than lose. And such perceptions, wrong or not, emerge when a Xerxes, a Napoleon or a Hitler are assured that their targets either cannot or will not stop them. Or, if they belatedly try to roll the dice, the resulting losses will be small in terms of what might be perceived as gain.

Our president believes his enlightened and nuanced foreign policy will spare us the wars that Bush "chose" to start. We shall see.

With All Due Respect, Of Course

Fuck the ICC. And Fuck the international community and the horse they road in on.

We didn't ratify the ICC. But the ICC says we are under their jurisdiction.

Not to mention the fact that we will prosecute any of our rare violations of the laws of war while genocide, murder, and torture go on unpunished and unstopped all over the world.

But the pelt of a Sudan, China, or Hamas doesn't look as nice in the den as that of America.

Did I mention that the ICC can bugger off?

UPDATE: There is a policy reason that this really angers me, if you are curious.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Removing Lingering Doubts from December 2001

The Senate has concluded that Osama bin Laden was at Tora Bora eight years ago:

The report states categorically that bin Laden was hiding in Tora Bora when the U.S. had the means to mount a rapid assault with several thousand troops at least. It says that a review of existing literature, unclassified government records and interviews with central participants "removes any lingering doubts and makes it clear that Osama bin Laden was within our grasp at Tora Bora."

So eight years later, we now know for sure bin Laden was there. And of course, President Bush is blamed for not acting on intelligence that only now is certain. The urge to blame Bush is still strong for some.

Does anybody really think that if Bush had known in 2001 that bin Laden was at Tora Bora we wouldn't have sent whatever troops we needed to get him? I imagine Bush would have been just as eager as President Clinton would have been had Clinton known his chance to nail bin Laden in the 1990s might have prevented 9/11.

Stuff happens in war. Sometimes it doesn't. And only Senators have the luxury of determining a fact long after it is actionable. Now that their man is in charge of the war, they shouldn't be so eager to demand perfection in waging war.

Catching the Poo

This writer "decodes" the chest-thumping and poo-flinging demonstration of Mullah Omar who promises to stomp our dry bones into dust, and do this and that to us, and--what were we discussing again?

Oh yeah, our enemies are boasting of our doom again. And some Westerners eat this up and like to warn us to RUN AWAY BEFORE IT'S TOO LATE!!!!

A man educated only in the strictest of fundamentalist Islamic schooling, Mullah Omar has developed a more complex understanding of his enemies in the last year. He alludes to his learning curve in the statement as a sign the Taliban are getting closer to victory. In this message he tries to persuade Europeans to break with America and clearly understands that war weariness is higher in Europe than in the U.S. But he also tries to reach out to anti-imperialists in the West at large and urges them to stop fighting for “a small number of capitalists and suckers of blood.”

In another message last week, the Taliban also lauded the Fort Hood massacre as a sign the jihad is reaching into America itself and appealed to all Muslims in America, especially in the military, to follow the gunman’s example and attack American soldiers whereever they are in the world. Such acts of violence and martyrdom are fully sanctioned by Islam, the Taliban says, and should be repeated. So if Obama and his team are now ready to “finish the job,” so too is the Taliban leadership.

Yeah. I love how Westerners impose the latest Leftist thought on our enemies' thinking. Omar has a more complex understanding of his enemies? Really? Anyone not on his side is an infidel and will be killed, and that's complex thinking? I guess we'll need to reappraise that whole Left critique of "with us or against us," eh?
And is his call to win really a big surprise? Our enemy wants to win? Huh. Fancy that. Hey, who can blame Omar for screeching at us? It might work given the state of our vocal class. It's worked before. More important than the blood-curdling murdering impulses that Omar represents is our president's determination to see Omar and his world view hacked to bits and left to die in Afghanistan. We can beat us. Omar can't.
I'm not saying we shouldn't take our enemies seriously. We need to treat them as actors intent on victory and work to beat them. Victory is not our birthright. But our enemies have far more problems than we have. Loud pronouncements on our impending doom make for better headlines than our relentless campaign to kill our enemies and deprive them of popular Afghan support (NOTE: I fixed the wording here), but in the end their video releases are just poo flinging and chest pounding. Ask Moqtdada Sadr, who elevated chest thumping and poo flinging to an art form that Western reporters ate up.
Step out of the way when the Omars of the enemy rant, people. That's the smart thing to do.

And then kill them, of course. They are the bad guys, remember?

The Infiltrator is the Dangerous Weapon

I can't say I much care for our president. In some cases he's been better than I feared but in most he's exceeded my fears. But he is our president. So I don't understand why it isn't an outrage that two people made it to within touching distance of our president and his guest the Indian prime minister:

The White House released a photo showing the Salahis in the receiving line in the Blue Room with Obama and Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, in whose honor the dinner was held. Obama and reality TV hopeful Michaele Salahi are smiling as she grasps his right hand with both of hers and her husband looks on. Singh is standing to Obama's left.

The Secret Service earlier this week had said the president was not in danger because the couple — like others at the dinner — had gone through magnetometers. But in light of their close proximity to the president, no such claim was made Friday.

Well, then, they went through magnetometers. No problem.

Wrong. Have we learned nothing from 9/11? Those killers didn't smuggle air-to-ground missiles on to those planes--just box cutters that nobody much worried about. But those tools once on the inside turned planes into cruise missiles.

Once inside the White House, what manner of weapons might terrorists have found? Knives, to be sure. Unless the menu was purely soup and curried rice and only spoons were set out. Perhaps a carefully broken bottle of wine. Or just a heavy object to serve as a nice cudgel.

I'm not satisfied that the couple went through magnetometers, and so by implication were no threat despite their unauthorized presence. Had the gate-crashing couple been terrorists, they would have been the weapon--not whatever they took in with them--and they would have found something inside the White House to kill with.

I don't want my president assassinated and I don't want our nation's guests murdered. This breach in our security should be taken very seriously by the White House.

Membership Has Its Privileges

This is kind of funny, in a sense that some Westerner appeasers will think it would be a set back:

Iran's parliament may consider withdrawing the country from the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty in response to a resolution by the U.N. nuclear watchdog censuring Tehran over its nuclear program, a hardline lawmaker said Saturday.

Mohammad Karamirad, a senior lawmaker, said parliament may also consider blocking inspections of Iran's nuclear facilities by the International Atomic Energy Agency. Tehran has allowed such inspections so far.

The threats come a day after the board of the U.N. nuclear agency passed a resolution demanding Tehran immediately stop building its newly revealed nuclear facility near the holy city of Qom and freeze uranium enrichment.

Huh. So we're to believe that Iran's position inside the treaty has meant that Iran's path to nuclear weapons has been hindered even a little bit? The IAEA has run interference for Iran, for Pete's sake. Being inside the treaty has been a great con game to foster Iran's nuclear drive by getting peaceful technology that enhances their parallel secret weapons work.
I welcome Iran's withdrawal from the treaty. At least we'd all be clear that Iran is not intent on peaceful uses of nuclear power.

Building Democracy in Iraq

Nervousness over the Iraq elections debate is based on the strange attraction to us of having a friendly strong man who quickly makes decisions we like rather than having rule of law lead to lengthy decision-making that may or may not end in a decision "ideal" from our point of view.

To that view I say tough. This is democracy.

I'm not the only one:

The national elections law debate is emblematic of the current state of Iraqi politics: slow, messy, and factionalized, but ultimately democratic and successful in achieving the minimum necessary to carry Iraq forward without falling apart. The bigger tests – government formation, peaceful transfer of power, and US drawdown – remain. That the Iraqis passed this early one is a cause for optimism.

Relish the democracy--don't go all wobbly over it. And stay focused since this debate is merely one part of building democracy. There will be more tests, as the author notes, and we must help Iraqis pass them.

The Rest and the Slightest

Establishment and journalist supporters of the president who are from the left side of the aisle are starting to squirm as they watch our foreign policy unfold:

This week, two points in an emerging pointillist picture of a White House leaking support—not the support of voters, though polls there show steady decline, but in two core constituencies, Washington's Democratic-journalistic establishment, and what might still be called the foreign-policy establishment.

Right now the emphasis seems to be on questioning just who is surrounding the president:

He added that rather than bowing to emperors—Mr. Obama "seems to do this stuff spontaneously and inexplicably"—he should begin to bow to "the voices of experience" in Washington.

When longtime political observers start calling for wise men, a president is in trouble.

It also raises a distressing question: Who are the wise men and women now? Who are the Robert Lovetts, Chip Bohlens and Robert Strausses who can came in to help a president in trouble right his ship? America seems short of wise men, or short on those who are universally agreed to be wise. I suppose Vietnam was the end of that, but establishments exist for a reason, and it is hard for a great nation to function without the presence of a group of "the oldest and wisest" who can not only give sound advice but help engineer how that advice will be reported and received.

Ah, they think President Obama needs the best and the brightest--but he doesn't have them. (And add five points to the nuance-meter for using an art description for our foreign policy canvas!)
With all due respect to the best and brightest of our foreign policy establishment, such thinking that all the president needs is more advisers like them gives us the exit strategy from Iraq on the eve of a victorious campaign. Or actual defeat in Vietnam. So given this argument, I suppose that that happy experience actually hasn't ended that pining for wise men.

Sadly, all that nuanced knowledge of foreign policy absent a focus just makes dithering and switching course--or surrender and retreat--look "nuanced." They know which or our enemy's leaders is fully whacko and which ones are just sixty percent whacko--and think that knowing this is all the difference between surrender and "an understanding."
No, our foreign policy will not stand or fall depending on the advisors the president has. The president needs to be the decider. And his aides need to be good enough to execute what he decides.

And in this model, we depend on the president having the confidence that America is on the right side of history, is actually the "good guys" side, and that we must win our battles and struggles while leading our friends. That's what I worry about.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Free the Data!

Global warming defenders continue to insist that the Climate Research Unit data revelation means nothing because none of the emails showed the climate scientists signing off their messages to hide, change, and defend their bogus data with the signature "SoG" (Scientist of Gaia). If there is no openly discussed Vast Warm Wing Conspiracy revealed, the science is just fine, thank you.

There is more out there than just the CRU data release to show a problem. The evidence was already out there despite the so-called consensus view:

Millions of measurements, global coverage, consistently rising temperatures, case closed: The Earth is warming. Except for one problem. CRU’s average temperature data doesn’t jive with that of Vincent Courtillot, a French geo-magneticist, director of the Institut de Physique du Globe in Paris, and a former scientific advisor to the French Cabinet. Last year he and three colleagues plotted an average temperature chart for Europe that shows a surprisingly different trend. Aside from a very cold spell in 1940, temperatures were flat for most of the 20th century, showing no warming while fossil fuel use grew. Then in 1987 they shot up by about 1 C and have not shown any warming since. This pattern cannot be explained by rising carbon dioxide concentrations, unless some critical threshold was reached in 1987; nor can it be explained by climate models.

For such a settled science, global warming scientists sure shows a lot of fear that skeptics (which in any other field might simply be called actual peer review to try to reproduce or find flaws in the warmers' results) might find problems or demonstrate problems with the whole racket. That insecurity does not speak well of the "consensus."

There is really only one way forward (and it was always the way forward), the partial data release of the CRU files must be followed by complete release of all the data:

Courtillot’s calculations show the importance of making climate data freely available to all scientists to calculate global average temperature according to the best science. Phil Jones, in response to the email hacking, said that CRU’s global temperature series show the same results as “completely independent groups of scientists.” Yet CRU would not share its data with independent scientists such as Courtillot and McIntyre, and Courtillot’s series are clearly different.

At the upcoming Copenhagen conference, governments are expected to fail to agree to an ambitious plan to cut greenhouse gas emissions. Here’s a more modest, if mundane goal for them: They should agree to share the data from their national meteorological services so that independent scientists can calculate global climatic temperature and identify the roles of carbon dioxide and the sun in changing it.

For those who think sunshine exposing the weaknesses of climate research automatically means policy makers will "follow the science" and enact policy based on real science, think again. Mad Minerva hopes this is so, but she may be far more optimistic than I am.

There is a lot of momentum behind enacting economy-killing regulations (that just happen to enrich global warming true believers, make avante guard elites feel good, and empower government to further run our lives). We've seen a much cheaper version of this story in relation to the "science" of acid rain:

Washington Post media reporter Howard Kurtz also got wind of the NAPAP cover-up after the fact. Trying to explain why environmental reporters had ignored the scientific evidence that would have precluded $4 billion a year in regulatory compliance, he wrote: “Some reporters say privately that it is difficult to write stories that debunk the conventional wisdom of environmental activists, whom the press treats more deferentially than industry spokesmen and other lobbyists.”

Given the whole range of events that have been blamed on "global warming" that seems based on data far too corrupted by politics to be of any use to policy makers, you'd think the call to free the data would be an easy call.

But no, the data will not be released willingly. The global warmers are on a Mission from Gaia (with apologies to Strategypage). Those so-called scientists will tell us how many angels can fit on the head of a pin, and the rest of us can just leave our moral and intellectual betters alone to save us from ourselves.

Free the data!

UPDATE: Free the data!

UPDATE: Free the data!

UPDATE: Free the science!

Buh Bye

The agreement we brokered about restoring Zelaya to the presidency prior to the new presidential election in Honduras provided that the Honduran Congress would first have to agree to that restoration. I was pleasantly surprised that we used this as a means of reversing our foolish support for Zelaya without visibly appearing to admit our mistake.

The Honduran Supreme Court has advised against it:

The Honduran Supreme Court recommended Thursday that lawmakers vote against restoring ousted President Manuel Zelaya, another blow for his quickly fading chances of returning to power.

The Supreme Court submitted its opinion six days before Congress is scheduled to vote on Zelaya's fate as part of a U.S.-brokered agreement to end the political crisis over a June coup.

The justices concluded that Zelaya should not be restored to the presidency because he has criminal charges pending against him, Supreme Court spokesman Danilo Izaguirre said.

I imagine Congress will take that advice. Buh Bye Zelaya. Your coup attempt has failed.
Unless Zelaya decides to try for a coup with the traditional guns and shooting. Would Chavez and Ortega be that bold?

So Maybe We Want to Win

President Obama will send 3 more Army brigades and an additional Marine brigade to Afghanistan. That will, when the reinforcements finally arrive over the next year or more, bring us up to 8 Army brigades and 2 Marine brigades. Our allies will send some more and the total sent will be about 40,000.

If we use the troops wisely and are committed to victory, this is the good news. I'm not terribly concerned about whether we send zero or 80,000 troops, although this question is not irrelevant to how the war will be fought and when it can be won. Deciding to win is the key decision President Obama must make. Has he?

The bad news is that we are not signalling resolve to our allies or enemies:

The President may announce he's sending tens of thousands more troops to Afghanistan, but in doing so, he'll emphasize how he'll eventually bring them home.

"The president does not see this as an open ended engagement," White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs told reporters. "Our time there will be limited. And I think that is important for people to understand."

Ah, an exit strategy: the faux strategy of deciding when we've lost.

The "people" will accept sacrifice if they think we are winning and committed to winning. Heck, the Iraq War showed that the people are willing to at least not call for running away if they think we are committed to winning--we hate to lose that much.

The "people" Gibbs is worried about are not the American people but Speaker Pelosi and her supporters in Congress who are as eager to run from Afghanistan as they were from Iraq. And if Pelosi was dealing with President McCain, you can be sure that last summer would have been filled with war de-funding debates in Congress.

It is a mistake to signal to Pelosi that our time in Afghanistan is limited because our friends and allies hear the same message.

The Romans knew how to signal resolve. We, by contrast, like to shout up to the defenders on the wall that staying eleven years sure is a long time (and gosh it will be expensive!) and that we'll probably leave before ten years go by--or even eight years as Biggis Gibbis would have said.

I hope President Obama on Tuesday makes it clear that our objective is victory. Even if Speaker Pelosi doesn't want that, the American people do and will follow him. And if he has the people with him, Pelosi will whine and sputter at San Fransisco fund raisers but will keep the money flowing to the troops. To Hell with an exit strategy--win.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

The Sting

Taiwan is under the gun with perhaps 1,500 Chinese guided missiles pointed at their island. They form the spearhead of a successful invasion.

Naturally, the Taiwanese don't want the missiles looming over them. But I've cautioned that it is a mistake to call for their removal (as in moving some of them) rather than calling for their destruction:

China would only use a fraction of their deployed missiles in the opening hours of an invasion. Some percent will be used in the days to follow. So if China moves only the missiles not needed in those first 24 hours out of range of Taiwan, the Chinese threat is not actually reduced one bit.

The Chinese would spend that first 24 hours moving missiles back into range of Taiwan to continue the missile barrage to pin the Taiwanes military down while the Chinese send in the airborne and amphibious invaders.

Yet by constantly asking China to move their missiles rather than scrap them, after repeated Chinese refusals to remove them, will a sudden agreement to move some trap the Taiwanese into publicly accepting that as a reduction of the threat?

China has refused to move them, providing the impression that just moving them will make Taiwan safer. This is not so.

China is springing the sting to finish their con game:

Yang Yi, spokesman of the Taiwan Affairs Office of the State Council, gave a positive response to the mainland's reported plan to remove regional missiles at a press conference yesterday. ...

Cross-Straits relations have improved since Taiwan leader Ma Ying-jeou of Kuomintang came into power in May. Both sides have established closer economic and cultural exchanges. But Ma has said the missiles remain a big hurdle to warmer relations.

Yang's overture, however, signaled a departure from Beijing's practice of shunning the issue of removing missiles from South China.

At the press conference, Yang did not attempt to deny the media that the mainland plans to remove "one-third of the missiles targeting Taiwan" before next March or April and said: "We hope both sides can make joint efforts to get prepared for addressing political difficulties in the future."

If China is serious about reducing their threat to Taiwan and only defending their homeland, they'll remove (by scrapping) nearly all their missiles, retaining only enough to be a threat to American carrier battle groups approaching China.

And if Taiwan is serious about reducing the Chinese threat to them--rather than pretending to reduce the threat--they'll insist on destruction of missiles and not go along with the fantasy that moving missiles out of range of Taiwan makes Taiwan more secure.

Not So Fast

I've long thought that even though we are at war, domestic policy is our president's priority. Given the financial crisis and recession, to some extent this is understandable. But I've feared that our president will win or lose our wars overseas depending on his judgment about whether losing or winning will distract him more from achieving domestic goals.

Related to his is my view that the president's outreach to our enemies isn't just a naive faith in his powers of persuasion but a deliberate retreat to provide breathing space to focus on domestic issues:

Saying that foreign policy is a distant second in priorities for this administration might seem an odd thing to say for a president who has travelled abroad so much already.

But it makes sense if you think of the trips abroad as efforts to disengage from foes and retreat a bit by giving our foes what they want in order to buy time to pass domestic legislation.

Understand that when you retreat, it takes a while for an enemy to pursue you and fill the vacuum. And that time it takes for the enemy to re-engage will surely be much quieter.

And if you want to, you can argue that the period of quiet while the enemy approaches is actually "peace." It isn't peace, but you can pretend for a while that it is so you can focus on domestic issues.

Here we have a writer mistaking the peace of retreat for good luck:

On foreign policy, the goal has been to prevent chronic problems from becoming attention-absorbing crises. To ensure that low-level trade conflicts with China don't poison the broader bilateral relationship, the administration has picked its fights carefully. To avoid pointless confrontation with Moscow, the White House pledged to "reset" U.S.-Russian relations. Obama signaled a willingness to talk directly with Iran about its nuclear program. It limited administration criticism of the country's disputed presidential election last summer and the government crackdown that followed.

With considerable luck, the strategy has so far proven a success.

A "success." Indeed, the president has prevented chronic problems from becoming attention-grabbing crises. But why should our enemies provoke a crisis? They're advancing as we retreat.

The author has mistaken the quiet of retreat for good luck. What he forgets is that eventually a retreat must halt unless it is followed by surrender. We will face attention grabbing crises.

And the crises are building up all around. Nobel Peace Prize, indeed.

Back to Basics

Any good soldier makes a good counter-insurgent. If led by leaders who understand counter-insurgency and can give the appropriate orders. So sayeth Strategypage, as it notes the Army's commitment to preparing for counter-insurgency and conventional high tempo combat:

Now it is committed to training for both types of combat. The key to this is training the commanders. One discovery in the last decade is that the troops can switch from conventional combat, to irregular type operations, more quickly and efficiently than their bosses.

Strategypage is singing to the choir on this one, as I've long held:

If directed by officers who understand counter-insurgency, supported by special forces, and bolstered by some specially trained troops to train indigenous forces, any well trained troop will do well for the bulk COIN work of patrols, hunting insurgents, and interacting with the people.

And if done right, we will have trained allies to fight instead of having to use our forces. At worst, if we must fight a counterinsurgency, we'd retain institutional knowledge of fighting insurgencies that will outlast this generation of officers and senior NCOs.

So instead of thinking we need troops specially trained for COIN, we should really look to making counter-insurgency a separate career path in the officer corps like armor, infantry, and artillery (among many others) are now. If those who lead regular troops (and who require far more time to train) are ready from day one of a war, we can adapt our campaigns quickly.

Well trained troops can fight any enemy they face, if well led. Our modern ground forces are in general of the quality that in the past distinguished good COIN fighters from average rabble infantry that did more harm than good "interacting" with the population.

To me, the danger of creating separate conventional units dedicated just to counter-insurgency is that leaders would forget that they aren't equipped or trained to face conventional foes yet those leaders will send them into such a fight because they sure look like any other soldier--and then they'd die in large numbers and fail to accomplish their mission. Call them a constabulary corps or whatever hip new term you want to come up with, but they would still just be second-tier soldiers--mere para-military forces that would be chewed up in high intensity combat.

Any good soldier can be a good counter-insurgent. All we need to do is make sure they're led by good counter-insurgent leaders.

Good Enough

Troop numbers are hardly the final word in whether we win in Afghanistan, but it is a factor. I've argued we could win with what we have and that just 40,000 more troops would seem to bridge a gap in numbers until we get more Afghans in the fight. And I think there are many ways to get Afghans into the fight. Going tribal for local defense forces is just one.

The president will commit more troops to Afghanistan. The number 35,000 seems to be the best guess right now. Add in 5,000 troops that NATO is expected to contribute and you have the amount McChrystal says is needed to win.

I still don't think the numbers are as important as the right strategy and the decision to actually fight and win, but more numbers don't hurt (unless my nightmare of losing our supply line raises its ugly head).

In that earlier post on troop numbers, I looked at requirements for 360,000 to 470,000 troops (from special forces to security guards, since all have roles in winning). With the anticipated reinforcments we'll have 103,000 US forces, 50,000 allied forces (NOTE: The number of allied forces seems to fluctuate depending on the article. I wondered about the 45,000 figure I saw and today (27th) saw a figure of 36,000. So I'm going to go to a lower figure of 41,000 allied forces with reinforcements anticipated.), 200,000 Afghan national forces, and 71,000 contract security personnel. That's 424,000 security personnel (415,000 corrected. See note above.). That doesn't even count the local defense forces and tribal forces we can get into the fight to oppose the estimated 25,000 Taliban insurgents. And with Pakistan appearing to be in it for the long haul on fighting the jihadis on their side of the border, my high end estimate for troop numbers doesn't seem to be justified by events.

The long internal debate this fall has been ridiculous, but my other nightmare that the president was looking for an excuse to retreat from Afghanistan seems to be nothing to worry about. Kudos to the president.

We shall see if Speaker Pelosi (and her sidekick Senator Reid) lets him lead us to victory.

We may have just decided to win this war. For that I will give thanks.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

It Ain't Over Yet

Zelaya and his nutball buddies are losing their struggle to turn Honduras into another Cuba or Venezeuala, but the fight isn't over yet until elections are held and a new president is sworn in.

The goons who wanted to install Zelaya in a coup under color of law aren't above more basic methods, it seems:

Honduran police detained two Nicaraguans and two Hondurans along with several rifles, and interim President Roberto Micheletti claimed the weapons were part of a plot to attack him during Sunday's presidential election.

The suspects, weapons, communications equipment and gun sights were found during a raid on a house in the city of El Progreso, north of the Honduran capital of Tegucigalpa, authorities said Tuesday.

I hope we continue to support rule of law and the upcoming elections in Honduras. Our enemies haven't given up and neither should we let down our guard.

Ensuring Aerial Safety

Taiwan--finally--wants to upgrade their air defenses by buying 66 F-16 fighters from us. But we're stalling:

"Taiwan has wished to acquire the F16 C/D fighter jets as soon as possible to replace its aging F5 fleet and ensure its aerial safety," a presidential statement quoted Ma as saying.

Ma made the plea to Raymond Burghardt, the Washington-based chairman of the American Institute in Taiwan, amid growing concern here that the balance of power with China is shifting in favour of the mainland.

This isn't a silver bullet solution to Taiwan's defense problems. A lot of things go into a proper air defense. But it is an important part. Without air superiority, China will have difficulty landing troops on Taiwan either by air or sea, and supplying them once on land.

It is distressing that in the early days of the Bush administration when we were far more willing to sell Taiwan arms, Taiwan dithered. And now that the Taiwanese are belatedly eager to reverse the shifting power balance in the strait, Washington Under both Bush and Obama) thinks the sales interfere with biggeer priorities.

UPDATE: Strategypage has more on this. Chinese pressure is even working on us--as it has long worked on Europeans for years now--to stop Taiwan from arming up. Taiwan needs modern fighters. I bet Taiwan will eventually get the F-16s they want.

But in the long run, China's successful pressure tactics on Washington means Taiwan needs to be able to build their own fighters capable of taking on the best China can send against them.

One day Taiwan will decide nukes are the only way to protect themselves if we won't sell them the weapons they need. Is this what we really want?

A Futile and Stupid Gesture

From the White House situation room, our leaders debate what to do about Iran's nuclear drive and whether to impose sanctions on Iran.

Admit it. You can totally see Vice President Biden rallying the troops by reminding us that we didn't give up when the Germans bombed Pearl Harbor. Heck, that could be the president's line.

But you can bet that we'll impose sanctions on Iran given time.

In theory, sanctions are intended to push another country into policies we want:

In general, sanctions are some sort of penalty imposed on a country designed to cause it sufficient pain to elicit a change in its behavior. Sanctions are intended as an alternative to war and therefore exclude violence. Thus, the entire point of sanctions, as opposed to war, is to compel changes of behavior in countries without resorting to force.

In theory. In practice, there are other reasons to apply sanctions:

The difficulty of creating effective sanctions raises the question of why they are used. The primary answer is that they allow a nation to appear to be acting effectively without enduring significant risks. Invading a country, as the United States found in Iraq, poses substantial risks. The imposition of sanctions on relatively weaker countries without the ability to counter the sanctions is much less risky. The fact that it is also far less effective is compensated for by the lowered risk.

In truth, many sanction regimes are enforced as political gestures, either for domestic political reasons, or to demonstrate serious intent on the international scene. In some cases, sanctions are a way of appearing to act so that military action can be deferred. No one expects the sanctions to change the regime or its policies, but the fact that sanctions are in place can be used as an argument against actions by other nations.

And we all know that Russia and China won't back biting UN sanctions--let alone the Europeans, so we will simply have sanctions of the willing. And breathe a sigh of relief that this signifies action.

And Iran will survive them. They aren't even on double secret IAEA probation, or anything.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Zero Plus in Iraq

I earlier wrote that we would never get to zero casualties in Iraq since even without combat casualties, we'll suffer losses in Iraq due to accidents and sickness.

This year, 69 of our 144 deaths so far in Iraq have been from non-combat reasons, or about 6 per month from non-combat reasons. This is better than the ten I figured we'd see as we stopped large-scale routine combat missions.

At what point do we stop counting deaths from accidents and sickness in Iraq as a cost of the Iraq War? I mean, I assume at some point long ago we stopped calling these non-combat deaths in Germany a cost of defeating the Nazis in World War II?

Orange You Glad I Didn't Say Banana?

Unfortunately, Ukraine's Orange Revolution could be undone in upcoming elections, destroying the hopes of creating a prosperous democracy in what was once a province of the Soviet Union:

Five years ago this month, an orange sea of Ukrainians flooded the streets of Kiev. Protesting the attempt of then-President Leonid Kuchmas' administrative machine to falsify election results, they demanded the right to choose their country's leader. They demonstrated to the world their desire for freedom, justice, and democracy. They brought new leadership to power but it failed to deliver most of the promises given to the people on the frozen Maidan. Disillusioned and discouraged, Ukrainians are coming to the polls once again this January. And now, those longing for strong-armed rule may well outnumber those who want to preserve their imperfect democracy. It's time for the West to take note.

Ukraine isn't in banana republic territory, but a reversion to strongman rule in Kiev will end any hopes of bringing Ukraine into NATO.

Which is why the West under our current leadership will not take note of this development. The West is praying (in a nondenominational sort of way, of course) for an excuse to keep Ukraine out of NATO.

Bed of Nails

India's Cold Start Doctrine sees organizing the armor of India into eight division-sized forces capable of quickly attacking Pakistan:

Multiple divisions, operating independently, have the potential to disrupt or incapacitate the Pakistani leadership’s decision-making cycle, as happened to the French high command in the face of the German blitzkrieg of 1940. Indian planners believe that when faced with offensive thrusts in as many as eight different sectors, the Pakistani military would be hard-pressed to determine where to concentrate its forces and which lines of advance to oppose.

While this dispersion of effort is seen as an advantage in that it undermines Pakistan's reasons for resorting to nukes by not massing for one offensive that might split and destroy Pakistan, the dispersal of effort means no decisive ground action can be achieved. Far from being hard pressed to determine where to concentrate its forces in the face of dispersed attacks, Pakistan would have the advantage of watching all its frontier forces participate in the battle to deplete India's strike forces, which would each be unable to achieve decisive results.

Why would Pakistan be hard pressed to identify and fight any one of the integrated battle groups? Why would they need to? Pakistan could let their infantry formations on the border absorb the many weak blows (in the same manner that a bed of nails spreads out the force of all those pointy nails to the point that they don't penetrate skin) and attrite and halt the Indians, and then launch their own armored forces in a concentrated counter-attack that would drive into India to hit a pivot corps that has already been involved in trying to break through the frontier defenses for a battle group.

While I understand the need to win on the battlefield before international pressure can compel a halt to fighting, this strategy just aims to quickly fight on a broad front without the capability of winning anything of significance in that quick fight.

In mid-2006, I was horrified that India might be trying to recreate the USSR's bolt from the blue capability against NATO. My initial thinking before that was that Cold Start was a response to the Kargil War in 1999, in that India wanted to be able to quickly seize the initiative in a limited war or militarized dispute that is deliberately kept local to avoid general war yet can be won quickly.

The 2008 paper cited above seems to indicate it is a bizarre combination of both ideas--creating a force capable of carrying out a strategy to strike on a wide front with forces only capable of winning limited engagements on a localized front. But with the twist that the Indians think this dispersed offensive will be decisive.

This violates all military sense in abandoning the concept of massing one's efforts to defeat the enemy. And insisting that this is massing effect rather than troops is hogwash. The Indians will build a bed of nails that will disperse force so much that the Pakistanis will never feel any individual nail, and will instead comfortably stop the Indian offensive and be in the position to mass their own weaker but concentrated mobile forces in a counter-attack.

Having eight division-sized mobile forces ready to go to war quickly will be great for any limited war in which India wants to quickly gain superiority over Pakistani border forces on a narrow front with limited aims, in order to achieve battlefield victory quickly and then press for a settlement and ceasefire rather than leave Pakistani forces holding the terrain in question.

But if it comes to general war, India would be wise to mass those eight mobile divisions into one or two major groupings supporting by the holding corps to actually mass effort to defeat the Pakistani army.

Yes, India must somehow deter Pakistan from using nukes by reassuring Pakistan that offensive operations will end short of destroying Pakistan's army or Pakistan, but that reassurance shouldn't take the form of India's apparent Cold Start Doctrine which by design fritters away India's ground advantage by stretching their mobile army on a wide front.

Germany massed forces in the Ardennes (this should read "armored forces" as Jeff wrote to me, since the bulk of the German's forces overall were not in committed to the Ardennes) in 1940 with a feint further north in Belgium--the Germans did not disperse their armor from the Channel to the Swiss frontier and pretend that was massing effect.

As the paper writes, if operationalized this concept is a recipe for escalating to nuclear war. (Although the idea put forth in the paper that each side might want to deploy "tactical" nukes makes no sense to me since the battlefields lie on Pakistani and Indian territory. Even strikes on military units nuke somebody's homeland, which will not be viewed as tactical hits.) What India sees as minor penetrations of Pakistani territory, Pakistan may very well view as threats to their nation and a general conventional war rather than a limited objective attack.

Thinking they are in a general conventional war is the worst place for Pakistan to be.

Pakistan can compete at the nuclear level since either side could inflict terrible damage on the other side. And Pakistan can compete in a limited conventional conflict--limited either in time or scope--against India's superior conventional capability (not to mention the threat of naval blockade).

While in theory Pakistan could fight a general conventional war if they know it will only last a short time (ending from international pressure before India can gain the edge), it is too risky to fight such a war counting on it to end before they lose. So fighting a war limited in scope (like Kargil in 1999 where 5,000 Pakistani forces held mountain redoubts against about 30,000 Indian troops and paramilitary forces who eventually drove them out) is the only thing that makes sense for Pakistan in a one-on-one fight with India.

Since it makes no sense for Pakistan to provoke an even conflict at the nuclear level or even a general conventional war for a short time, conflict at a local level makes the most sense for them if they want to fight India.

As such, a Cold Start Doctrine for India only makes sense for India as a means to rush a division or two to a local front to quickly defeat a Pakistani armed incursion with lower losses to themselves and with less chance of escalation to nuclear threats by winning faster than in 1999.

NOTE: I accidentally posted this dated yesterday. I fixed the post date.

To Provide for the Common Defense

Is our Congress this dense?

Call it “pay as you fight.”

After months of listening to conservatives caterwaul over deficits and health care, senior House Democrats want a graduated surtax on individuals and corporations to pay for another big drain on the treasury: the Afghanistan war.

Lord knows I'm no legal scholar wise in the ways of Washington, but isn't providing for the common defense one of the first things our government is supposed to provide?

How is it that paying to fight the war we are in is from borrowed money? Isn't that pile of money one of the first things we take out of what we actually collect as tax revenue?

If national defense isn't considered paid by actual revenue but borrowed money, what exactly in our budget is paid for by revenue? The arts? Highways? Public television? Education funding to the states? Stimulus payments to non-existent congressional districts? An Energy Department that doesn't want to look for energy? Polar bear mating habit research?

Any money we currently spend on national defense should not be considered borrowed money.

So Wise in the Ways of Science

Ah, science! That Climate Research Unit data dump doesn't put those climate change scientists in a very good light, now does it?

For more than a decade, we've been told that there is a scientific "consensus" that humans are causing global warming, that "the debate is over" and all "legitimate" scientists acknowledge the truth of global warming. Now we know what this "consensus" really means. What it means is: the fix is in.

Silly skeptics! Those who are wise in the ways of science won't question the scientists' methods.

"The planet is warming out of control! The models prove it! Kill the economy!"

But hasn't the planet stopped warming the last decade?

"Well, it got better."

They're "deniers!" Buuurn them!

The scientists ought to just end the pretense, take off their lab coats, and put on robes.

And then walk about slamming copies of Al Gore's latest book against their foreheads.

UPDATE: I only aspire to mildly clever. This is funny.

UPDATE: And a serious take on the politics of global warming "scientists." My God, those jokers really are (figuratively) suggesting that coconuts are migratory.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Reaching Out to the Moslem World

The New York trials of 9/11 plotters, including Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, will be just another opportunity for those jihadis to hurt America:

The five men facing trial in the Sept. 11 attacks will plead not guilty so that they can air their criticisms of U.S. foreign policy, the lawyer for one of the defendants said.

Scott Fenstermaker, the lawyer for accused terrorist Ali Abd al-Aziz Ali, said Sunday the men would not deny their role in the 2001 attacks but "would explain what happened and why they did it."

Where once KSM was ready to plead guilty and die out of the glare of television camera lights in a military trial, now he sees opportunities for continuing the war through our legal system.

Our strategic geniuses in Washington don't even think this is a problem:

"I have every confidence that the nation and the world will see him for the coward that he is," Holder told the committee. "I'm not scared of what Khalid Sheikh Mohammed has to say at trial — and no one else needs to be, either."

Oh really?

Sure, defenders of the civilian terrorist trials insist that we just give them an opportunity to spout their gibberish reasons for waging war and expose their hate to the world, but it is far more likely that the lawyers will get the terrorists to shut up and let legal counsel make the trials a prosecution of American strategy and tactics at war. Much of the world (and far too many of our citizens) will eat that up. They'll love it all.

And even if the lawyers can't get KSM and his minions to pipe down, do you really think that loud ululating expressions of hate for America, Jews, Hindus, and descriptions of outlandish American plots against Islam dating back to the Crusades will be met with revulsion?

Hah! Too many in the Moslem world will nod in agreement, even if they aren't prone to volunteering for the great jihad. And a fair proportion of our Left will concede they do have a point, there, now don't they?

Too many Moslems on 9/11 danced with joy over the news of the attacks because they believed in all sorts of bizarre American conspiracies to keep them poor and backward. And too many Westerners think the jihadis had good reason to hate us even if they don't back the attacks themselves. The "why do they (we) hate us (them)?" questions will be all the rage again.

Hijacking our courts won't be as much fun for the jihadis as flying a plane into one of our buildings, but the jihadis will hit their target this time.

UPDATE: I'm sure this American will see the jihadis for the cowards they are, eh?

Sigh. No wonder our enemies think God is on their side. How could you fail to conclude that when you see how we treat our enemies?

Shot Across the Bow

While Iraq is not strong enough to compel Syria to behave, with America still wooing Boy Assad, we won't use our strength to stop Syrian aid to suicide bombers in Iraq.

But that doesn't mean that Iraq eventually won't take action. I've long figured that Iraq would eventually take on Syria and recently noted concrete steps in that direction.

So consider this a warning to Syria of what Iraq will do to Syria unless Syria stops aiding jihadis and Baathists inside Iraq:

Iraq has had enough. Faced with ongoing attacks from forces supported by Syria, the Iraqis are taking an increasingly hard line and are refusing to back down. They are fully aware that a confrontation brings the risk of further instability, but the Iraqis recognize that the only way to ultimately stop the violence is to stop those enabling it. Already, their new stance towards Syria is bringing results, while the U.S. keeps rewarding Syria through inaction — a silent way of confirming to the Syrians that we understand that our security is dependent upon them.

It will be many years before Iraq can take on Syria in a war, but that day will arrive. Syria will be no more ready for war with Iraq then than they are now--and will likely be worse off as their armed forces further deteriorate. And even before then, Iraq will be able to wage low level war back across the border with American forces shielding Iraq from massive Syrian retaliation.

Damascus needs to end their war on Iraq before Abrams tanks smash into Damascus. Iraqi Abrams tanks, of course, but the result will be the same--if not worse--than if they are American.

Building Her Resume'

Lynne Stewart will be going to jail for a while for her over-enthusiastic work for her jihadi clients:

Defiant to the end as she embraced emotional supporters outside the federal courthouse in Lower Manhattan, Lynne F. Stewart, the radical lawyer known for defending unpopular clients, surrendered on Thursday evening to begin serving her 28-month sentence for assisting terrorism.

“This is the day they executed Joe Hill, and his words were, ‘Don’t mourn me, organize,’ ” Ms. Stewart said as she walked toward the courthouse, referring to the labor organizer executed on Nov. 19, 1915, after a controversial trial. “I hope that will be the message that I send, too.”

After a lengthy trial, a jury in 2005 convicted Ms. Stewart, now 70, of providing material aid to terrorism and of lying to the government while helping an imprisoned client, Sheik Omar Abdel Rahman, communicate with his followers in Egypt.

Organize? No need. That organization already exists. It's called al Qaeda.

But don't worry about poor martyred Stewart.

Consider her time in jail as just a prerequisite for a post-prison job with the Department of Justice. It is so George W. Bush to think you're either with us or against us. With enough nuance, you can be both!

Sunday, November 22, 2009

The Basis of Another Surge

It is COIN 101 to put local allies into the fight against insurgents.

So it has boggled my mind that so many have opposed siding with "warlords" in Afghanistan. That's how we overthrew the Taliban in 2001, why not use them now?

And how can we get the numbers of troops to police the country, provide security to the people, and provide eyes and ears to see Taliban movement, given the cost of a national force and the difficulty of putting Western forces into the place?

So this is good to see. We are hiring and organizing local defense forcess to fight our common enemy:

The American and Afghan officials say they are hoping the plan, called the Community Defense Initiative, will bring together thousands of gunmen to protect their neighborhoods from Taliban insurgents. Already there are hundreds of Afghans who are acting on their own against the Taliban, officials say.

The endeavor represents one of the most ambitious — and one of the riskiest — plans for regaining the initiative against the Taliban, who are fighting more vigorously than at any time since 2001.

Risky? Please. It's risky to try to win the war without trying to bring in more locals on our side. How can we argue it is too risky to arm the people we are defending from the Taliban?

We can't just use such low quality forces to win--but they are essential to winning since only Afghan local defense forces can be in every village.

UPDATE: Strategypage addresses this change:

U.S. and NATO commanders have given up on the Afghan national government, which is more interested in stealing than healing. So, the new strategy is to deal with the tribes, and exploit the very real disputes between the tribes. The biggest beef is the pro-Taliban tribes attempt to take control of the country again. Not only do most Afghans not want this to happen (again), but they are also angry at the bloodthirsty tactics the Taliban are using. A third beef is the alliance of the drug gangs and the Taliban. While the drug business makes a few Afghans rich, the gang related violence and growing number of addicts makes a lot more Afghans miserable and angry. So foreign commanders are going to increase backing for tribal militias that are most enthusiastic about driving the Taliban away.

Remember that going local should not mean that we stiff the central government--just that we go around it when it is an obstacle rather than an asset.

But at least this may be putting to rest the ridiculous notion that Afghan central government corruption is an excuse to give up the fight if we can't transform the central government into a model outfit before we send additional troops.

Destroying the Science in Order to Save It

The recent data dump of hacked emails and documents of a leading global warming center appears to be pretty damning (with the caveat, if they are authentic):

•First, a real attempt by a small group of scientists to subvert the peer-review process and suppress dissenting voices. (For another look at this, by a respected climate scientist who was one of the targets, see these posts on Roger Pielke Sr.’s blog.) This is at best massively unethical.

•Second, a willingness to manipulate the data to make a political case. This is certainly misconduct and possibly scientific fraud. This, if it proves true, should make these scientists subject to strong disciplinary action, even termination of their tenured positions.

•Third, what gives every appearance of an actual conspiracy to prevent data from being released as required by the Freedom of Information Acts in the US and UK. If this is proven true, that is a federal crime.

The global warmers try to act is if anyone who is a "scientist" is pure of political motive and that we should adopt policies advocated by scientists following the results of the science. But clearly the romantic notion of data-driven pure scientists is ridiculous--scientists are people and they have biases. That's why their research is supposed to be checked by other scientists with different biases. But the global warming science hasn't been opened for review and checking to see if results can be duplicated.

I wonder if other climate change data will be hacked and released.

And I wonder if other climate change organizations will decide that they can't risk the world seeing their internal conversations that bolster the three tentative conclusions of the University of East Anglia Climate Research Unit information.

UPDATE: And let me ask, as I like to when told we have to spend untold trillions of dollars to halt the increase in temperatures from today, how is that we are so lucky to live exactly at the moment of the perfect global temperature?

Sure, I understand that we've adapted to the current temperature, broadly speaking. But if we really can't adapt to higher temperatures, and must fight to keep temperatures from going up, why not damn the torpedoes and try to achieve the optimum temperature? What if the best temperature is a couple degrees warmer? Or a couple degrees cooler?

I mean, if we're going to wreck our economy to try and hold the planetary thermostat at a particular point, why not wreck our economy trying to achieve the best temperature?

Don't Enlighten Peking

This editorial of Taipei Times ridicules the notion that Taiwanese are bound, in the long run, to accept reunification with China; and that continued mainland Chinese contact with Taiwanese will finally teach them that the Chinese can't count on Taiwan to join the mainland:

China’s top theoreticians have turned out in force in an attempt to use cross-strait academic exchanges to spread their propaganda and brainwash the Taiwanese public, laying the foundation for “unification.” Their efforts, however, have had little effect.

These people’s problem is that they were born under a dictatorship. Their heads are filled with dictatorial ideology and they only know how to serve their autocratic regime. Public opinion means nothing to them, nor do they understand what Taiwanese think.

That is why Zheng — China’s standard bearer on this Taiwan visit — revealed his ignorance of Taiwan’s history and mainstream public opinion as soon as he opened his mouth, along with his arrogant and high-handed manner.

Taiwan is a sovereign and independent nation, which, through its state institutions, exercises full sovereignty and government over its own territory. In Taiwan, public opinion comes first, and the mainstream public opinion identifies with Taiwan. Only a handful of people in Taiwan still favor unification.

Zheng’s claim that “the Taiwanese independence trend will inevitably go into decline” is an ignorant lie that will not fool anyone in Taiwan. Even these Chinese theoreticians, after seeing Taiwanese society up close, may now understand that identification with Taiwan is the mainstream of public opinion, and that Taiwan’s sovereignty and independence are an undeniable reality.

The implications of this are very dangerous for Taiwan.

Consider that the military balance in the strait is tilting toward China as Taiwan has let its defenses slide for the last decade, relative to China.

But China's growing ability to invade Taiwan does not mean that China will succeed if it invades nor does it mean that the cost isn't too high for them to make the fateful decision to attack.

The potential cost of winning (in casualties, cost, foreign relations, trade, etc., not to mention that the cost of losing that invasion could be dangerous to the regime itself) may be considered too high if the assumption of the top theoreticians and leaders in Peking is that there is no need to risk all those costs if Taiwan inevitably will join China.

But if repeated contact with Taiwanese people really does convince the theoreticians and leaders of China that Taiwan is unlikely to voluntarily join the mainland, the calculation of acceptable costs to conquer Taiwan changes dramatically, doesn't it?

The Taiwanese need to seriously reconsider their policy of encouraging contacts between the mainlanders and Taiwanese, which probably will lead to the mainlanders understanding that Taiwanese believe independence and sovereignty are too important to give up.

It would be far better for Taiwan's safety to keep their Chinese neighbors at a distance so that they can continue to believe that the Taiwanese will, of course, eventually want to join China.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

The Two-Edged Sword

Moslem-Americans are pretty loyal as a group, and their integration is all the more remarkable when you consider the views of Moslems in Europe and the record of ethnic minorities in America in past conflicts. And the length of time we have been at war with jihadis adds to this good record. It helps that there essentially has been no backlash against Moslems here, despite CAIR's blithering idiocy on the matter and our coastal liberal elites' constant worrying about "clingers" (guns and God) in fly-over country.

So when we look for jihadis in our midst, it isn't a sign of the coming repression of Moslems. And when we find someone who has betrayed us to support jihad, it doesn't erase the general truism that as a whole American Moslems want nothing to do with terrorism.

And never forget that having loyal Moslem Americans is an asset when fighting jihadis, just as having any loyal immigrants from a country we have been at war with has been.

Strategypage has an excellent post with an overview on this subject, with a good summary of the World War II ethnic Japanese issue. Yes, there was a reason for what we did, even if FDR over-reacted.

Units Are Not Individuals

It would seem like stating the obvious to note that Army units are made up of people, but when I read statements like this I have to wonder if people understand that distinction:

Of the 14 active-duty brigades that will be available for deployment in December, five have already served three tours abroad since 2002 and four have already served two. If either the 3rd brigade of the 101st Airborne Division or the 1st brigade of the 10th Mountain Division are asked to deploy to Afghanistan, it will be their fifth tour since 2002.*

If I noted that the New York Yankees have won 27 World Series titles since 1927, would you then conclude that those players must sure be tired by now?

No. Obviously the players in the 1927 team are different than the players in the 2009 team even thought the unit known as the "Yankees" went to the World Series and won those 27 times.

Don't get me wrong, we need to avoid the stress on individuals when we deploy our Army. Some do face multiple tours. They may go out as a private and next time they're a squad leader and then a platoon sergeant. But not all go back in the same role. They are promoted and may not even be in a combat unit out on the line every day as they were when they were first deployed.

Remember that when a brigade deploys, 60% (by memory, so excuse me if the number is off a bit--but the point remains) of its personnel are on their first deployment, being new enlistees. It matters not one bit that their unit has gone overseas to fight 1 time or 5 times.

And let me repeat what I've argued many times--the Army exists to fight and win our wars--not to exist as a pristine force. If we need to break the Army to win our wars, so be it. I don't think the choice is either/or, since we can do things to lessen the strains on the Army and its soldiers, but if we face that choice--break the Army to win.

If we lose a war, that will break the Army. How many will get out or not enlist because they wonder if risking their lives to fight a war we won't win isn't worth it? And if we win, repairing what is broken is far easier than repairing an Army broken from losing.

Within the limits of what we plan to do, I think that with the active Army and Marines plus our reserve components, we can handle the escalation in Afghanistan when we speak of rotating units. The initial article's indication that a number of National Guard brigades are in Iraq (I assume not sent as a complete brigade but broken down for security missions--either base or route protection) challenges my assumptions about unit rotations, but not by much. And as we draw down in Iraq, I assume those units will draw down quite a bit, too, freeing up units for rotations to Afghanistan.

And yes, we won't have many free units to deploy to a crisis, but if there is a crisis that bad we can call on units preparing to go overseas while accelerating units recovering from deployment to take their place--or even mobilize more reservists. We have options if you assume the current administration would actually decide to fight someplace else.

This doesn't mean the individuals within our units don't need our attention. But that is a separate issue.

Yes, Let's Talk Stature of Leaders

Speaker Pelosi clearly wants to run away from the fight in Afghanistan, since she's now claiming that Karzai is an unworthy ally:

She told NPR she had asked fellow Democrats to give President Barack Obama room to decide his Afghan strategy, which is expected to be announced in the coming weeks. Once Obama, also a Democrat, announces his decision, lawmakers would "not be shy" about responding, she said.

"The president of Afghanistan has proven to be an unworthy partner. We cannot fund a mission where we don't have a reliable partner and where whatever civilian investments we want to make, which are so necessary, will be diverted for a corrupt purpose," Pelosi told NPR News' Morning Edition.

"How can we ask the American people to pay a big price in lives and limbs and also in dollars if we don't have a connection to a reliable partner?"

Since our Speaker thinks we took our eye off the ball in Afghanistan during the Bush presidency, just when did Karzai become unworthy of eying?

A second question for the speaker, so concerned over where our money goes, would be just how is that stimulus oversight going?

And third, does the speaker still think Assad and Ahmadinejad are worthy of being negotiating partners?

No, she won't be Bashful about opposing adding troops to Afghanistan. I fear she's Dopey, however.

What a joke of a speaker. If she ever got a clue she'd be truly dangerous.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Just How High Does Their Form of Patriotism Go?

Does anybody find it disturbing that legal counsel in our Department of Justice find it a conflict of interest to work for prosecuting jihadis because in their civilian life they worked to defend jihadis in our court system?

How can we possibly convict Major Hasan of any crimes? His actions in favor of jihadis are surely orders of magnitude greater than any DOJ lawyer's legal work, but they both worked for the same side, didn't they?

I know our president wanted to reach out to the Islamic world, but this is ridiculous. Sure, lawyers are free to defend jihadis--this is a free country. But should we then turn around and hire these lawyers to represent us in the war against those jihadis?

The Pieces Come Together

So Iran may be far closer than we thought to a workable nuclear warhead design.

And of course, we all know they have that Uranium enrichment thing going.

And the long-range ballistic missile thing is not insurmountable:

Iran plans to launch a communications satellite by late 2011 with no outside help, a top Iranian official said Friday, after Italy and Russia declined to put it into orbit.

The move reflected Tehran's frustration with the two countries as it tries to push ahead with an ambitious space program, which has worried world powers because the same rocket technology used to launch satellites can also be used for military purposes.

Yeah, who needs a ballistic missile defense system in Eastern Europe that can defend the eastern United States?

And more to the point, how effing stupid are our leaders to believe we're just one diplomatic breakthrough away from talking Iran out of nuclear weapons?

CSI: Battlefield

New technology to create a battlefield Internet will do wonders for increasing the capabilities of our combat forces:

The latest gear provides Blue Force Tracker (icons showing where all friendly troops are) capability, as well as wireless updates of maps and transmission of video. The latter is important for commanders and intelligence operatives, who can make key decisions, or analyses, more quickly if they can see what the troops in combat are seeing. This is not meant to be used for micromanagement, but to share experience, as well as information. If the troops come across something they are not sure of, sending a vid back to the boss or the intel pukes, is likely to get a better answer to what they are looking at.

But that data could also be used to persecute American soldiers. That war is Hell is no mere platitude. But for Leftist lawyers who can spend years poring over what happened in a fraction of a second, what is normal on a battlefield can be portrayed as war crimes. And it will all be recorded:

So what do we do with situations that in the past would have never been seen? Incidents that officers might have overlooked based on the people involved being good soldiers who made a mistake or acted criminally but under extenuating circumstances? Incidents that nobody saw but a small group or even an individual responsible? People who might carry guilt the rest of their lives yet try to live good lives to make up for snapping in a moment of weakness?

How do we get our military to win when human rights groups might get a hold of tapes that show fatal mistakes and even isolated crimes?

We want our troops to fight clean but when even a good war like World War II would be flyspecked in our day, how do we deal with all this recorded material and how do we bring our troops home with their heads held high over a war well fought and won?

I don't have any answers at the moment, but we need to think about how we will treat our soldiers when their every step in an inherently chaotic environment is scrutinized for errors or wrongdoing. Perhaps years after the events.

Years ago I worried about this trend, and I still don't know how we can protect our troops who are just doing what they are supposed to do.

The New Pentagon Papers?

This could be very entertaining. I eagerly await the stories that mine this data dump, if they are genuine (as early evidence seems to indicate).

But I won't believe this signals the end of the Global Warming religion until I see Al Gore selling pamphlets at airports.

Fancy That

Well what do you know? After years of talks with Iran, mostly through those professional talkers in Europe, we are no closer to resolving Iran's nuclear ambitions than we were before.

And after nearly a year of the Obama administration believing that Lucy wouldn't pull the football away, falling flat on it's back may be confirming what we Neanderthal Americans have argued for years--Iran wants nuclear weapons. Period.

And worse, the main alternative to war is unlikely to be implemented, let alone change Iran's mind:

The Obama administration is shifting the focus of its Iran policy from talk to sanctions, but the prospect of winning early international support for toughened new penalties appears dim.

Equally problematic is finding a set of sanctions that would have a significant impact on the prime target of American and international worry: Iran's suspected pursuit of an atom bomb. Three rounds of U.N. sanctions, dating to December 2006 and aimed mainly at squeezing Iran's nuclear work, have had little apparent effect.

The administration may get an early indication of its prospects at a huddle Friday in Brussels with senior diplomats from the four other permanent members of the U.N. Security Council — Russia, China, Britain and France — plus Germany. Any decisions on new Iran sanctions, though, are likely weeks away.

For most of the Euro talkers (and their North American kindred), it will be a relief when Iran finally goes nuclear so they can give up the embarrassing failure to get Iran to halt their nuclear work through talks. No longer will these appeasers be in the position of holding the clearly untenable position that a little more talking will relieve us of the need to use military force to halt Iran's nuclear drive.

Once Iran has nukes, they can shift to the argument that Iran's possession of nukes means it is too late to use military force.

And then the talking with Iran can shift focus to other topics--like an arms control treaty that sets upper limits to Iran's arsenal. Mission Accomplished!

Making Halal Sausage

Iraq's January elections are in danger of being delayed:

Parliament is to vote Saturday on how to resolve the crisis triggered by Vice President Tariq al-Hashemi's veto of the legislation earlier this week. Al-Hashemi, a Sunni Arab, wants more seats allocated for Iraqis living abroad, many of whom are Sunni.

Lawmakers spent weeks wrangling over the long-delayed bill before finally passing it on Nov. 8, much to the relief of Iraqi leaders and the United States.

But the veto threw into question whether the vote can be held by the end of January, as mandated in Iraq's constitution.

Let's not get all gloomy. Is somebody barricaded somewhere with their militia, holding elections hostage? Did someone decree a decision outraging all about flouting laws? No. They are legislating. And as the saying goes, the process doesn't look pretty.

While it would be nice to have Iraq's upcoming national elections solidified, the mere fact of delay should not be dismaying to us. After all, the delay is due to parliamentary maneuvering and executive actions within the law.

I for one am heartened when I see Iraqis maneuvering to gain advantage within their government and parliament rather than using bombs and guns.

You want quick decisions? Support a dictatorship.

You want rule of law? Have patience because it isn't always quick and it isn't always even very pretty to watch.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Getting Chummy With Our Enemies

A policy of trying to befriend enemies and stiff-arm friends isn't increasing our security:

Add it all up and there is a growing sense that America is in fact hemorrhaging - as both friends and enemies abroad smell blood in the water. The president through conciliation and concession - not to mention constant talk - is trying to superficially restore the influence we once earned by virtue of our economic power and self-confidence in our exceptional past and singular values.

But being both loud and vulnerable is not a winning combination, since political influence and military power are ultimately predicated on economic strength.

Who knew that a policy of speaking eloquently (and often) but forgetting just where you set down that stick wouldn't impress foreign actors?

The Appearance of Ultra Nuance

I was fairly impressed with our nuanced class by their ability to argue with a straight face that only they understand how doomed we are in Afghanistan, so it is wise realism to retreat as soon as possible.

These deep thinkers are pikers, however, when you read this nuanced argument that turns the sophistication dial to 11:

The U.S. presence is the Afghan government's safety net, protecting it from the need to take responsibility for the fight against the Taliban. Until Karzai's government sees its survival at stake, it will not play its best game.

So let's fail in Afghanistan. Fail in the right way now, and the Afghans will have a chance of succeeding.

Wow! Reduce our troop strength and pull them out of combat. The Taliban would be doomed. It's so obvious now!

If only such wise advice had been given to us in 1943! Can you imagine the pummeling we would have inflicted on the Nazis if we'd reversed our build up in Britain and kept our troops over paid, over-sexed, and over there, refusing to cross the English Channel? That would have taught the Brits a lesson. A little less tea production and a little more munitions, you free loaders, and you can do it on your own. I mean, it isn't like we guaranteed Polish sovereignty in 1939.

I've been impressed with the big-brained arguments thus far, but this is truly impressive. I bestow the title Ultra Nuance on this new iteration of sophisticated retreatism. Fareed Zakaria is no doubt kicking himself that he hadn't thought of this line first.

You Just Know This Will be a Clusterfuck

The trial of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and his fellow terrorists in a civilian court is going to be an intelligence bonanza for our jihadi enemies.

And it will be a propaganda opportunity unmatched since the world watched al Qaeda strike us on 9/11.

Sure, defenders of the civilian terrorist trials insist that we just give them an opportunity to spout their gibberish reasons for waging war and expose their hate to the world, but it is far more likely that the lawyers will get the terrorists to shut up and let legal counsel make the trials a prosecution of American strategy and tactics at war. Much of the world (and far too many of our citizens) will eat that up. They'll love it all.

And even if the lawyers can't get KSM and his minions to pipe down, do you really think that loud ululating expressions of hate for America, Jews, Hindus, and descriptions of outlandish American plots against Islam dating back to the Crusades will be met with revulsion?

Hah! Too many in the Moslem world will nod in agreement, even if they aren't prone to volunteering for the great jihad. And a fair proportion of our Left will concede they do have a point, there, now don't they?

We're giving our enemies a global platform to once again make their case for the Great Osama Jihad.

I hope I'm wrong, and all sorts of wonderful things flow from this administration decision, but I think it's going to be a clusterfuck.

And we're doing it to ourselves. My only question is whether this is a bug or a feature of the decision.

UDPATE: No good will come of this.

UPDATE: More from Krauthammer.