Saturday, January 31, 2009

Part of the Solution

We are beginning to focus on making local Afghans capable of holding off Taliban threats:

A U.S.-funded program to train and arm community members in Afghanistan's most dangerous regions as a way to defend against the Taliban has begun, the country's interior minister said Saturday.

The U.S. will provide funds to arm the community force with the same weapons used by Afghan police — Kalashnikov rifles, said Interior Ministry Mohammad Hanif Atmar.

The program has already begun, but Atmar refused to say where, citing security concerns. Other officials have said the program will begin in Wardak, an increasingly dangerous province on the southwest side of Kabul.

"After training they will have the responsibility of protecting the people, providing security for the highways, schools, clinics and other government institutions," Atmar told a news conference.


This is good. Arming the locals and training them will help hold off intimidation by small numbers of Taliban.

But the problem remains that large Taliban bands will still be able to overwhelm armed locals in many circumstances. This is where NATO comes in. We need to be able to react quickly to help these local defense forces with trained troops and firepower.

And we need to work over the Taliban so they don't want to risk massing in forces capable of attacking local defense forces. If we atomize the enemy, the local defense forces will be better able to defeat weaker enemy attacks.

If we don't support these local defense forces and leave them out on their own, the program will fail. While we can't copy Iraq strategy to Afghanistan without adaptation, one thing we should learn from Iraq is that it isn't enough for jihadis to be hated by the local population. The local population must believe they can defeat the hated jihadis. And believe we'll be around long enough to win.

If the locals don't think they can defeat the jihadis, to preserve their lives they will forfeit their freedom to be left alone and simply go along with the Taliban demands.

Time-Share Condominium

Strategypage writes that the Taiwanese are gradually coming to accept the basic problem about the military balance in the Taiwan Strait that I have been annoyingly harping on for many years:

While many Taiwanese still see the United States as the ultimate guarantor of Taiwanese independence, they see China as increasingly capable of grabbing the island before the U.S. can intervene. So while the Taiwanese don't have to be strong enough to defeat a Chinese invasion, they do have to be strong enough to hold the Chinese back until American reinforcements can show up.


This is progress. And as Chinese power increases relative to our forward-deployed forces in the western Pacific, the amount of time that Taiwan needs to hold increases.

While this is welcome progress from their former attitude that Taiwan didn't need to worry at all about defending their island democracy since America would charge in early with guns blazing to save Taiwan, this does not solve the problem of keeping China at bay.

Yes, Taiwan needs to buy time and avoid defeat until American forces can arrive in the area. But what if Taiwan avoids defeat, yet fails to keep the PLA off of their homeland? The problem remaining is what if China gains a foothold on Taiwan? What if Taiwan is unable to eject those forces even after American forces arrive? A strategy of buying time usually means you must fall back and give up terrain as the price of that purchase.

Will we face a situation where, after several weeks, the US Navy arrives in force to contest the line of supply in the Taiwan Strait, American fighters slowly gain air superiority, and an American Marine regimental combat team and Stryker brigade start to flow into Taiwanese harbors and airports; but China has 100,000 combat troops dug in around one or more Taiwanese ports?

What do we do then? Do we spearhead the counter-attack with our ground forces, bombing Chinese forces with our precision air power? Do we counter-attack in force into the Taiwan Strait to cut off the Chinese expeditionary force on Taiwan and try to starve them into submission?

And will China risk the best of their PLA (they'd have to be the best to carry out a difficult amphibious/airborne invasion) and refrain from using nuclear weapons to retrieve a crumbling situation?

And will we agree to a ceasefire in place to avoid the threat of a wider, possibly nuclear, war between America and China? And then the Taiwanes and Chinese will both exercise control over portions of the same real estate.

Remember, avoiding defeat is certainly necessary to avoid disaster. But that is far from the only military mission Taiwan should aspire to carry out. It would be long-term disaster to allow China to get a foothold on Taiwan.

Please God, Just One International Affair?

My favorite-of-the-moment sadly misguided babe has been released from Mexican jail with no charges filed:

Prosecutors ruled Friday that a Mexican beauty queen be released from house arrest after investigations in a drug and weapons case turned up no evidence against her.

Laura Zuniga, 23, was detained in western Mexico on Dec. 23, in a vehicle along with seven men, some of them suspected drug traffickers. Authorities found a large stash of weapons, ammunition and $45,000 with them inside a vehicle.

She was stripped of one of her crowns — the title she won in the Hispanoamerican Queen pageant in October — but still holds the beauty title of the northern state of Sinaloa, long known as a center for Mexico's drug cartels.


You may remember the sad tale of this lass:


Photo Source: AP

She was picked up with some drug gang members. I'm sure it was all just a horrible mistake.

Ms. Zuniga: Thin, dark hair, serious issues to work through. She has a real Alanis Morissette look going there. Thank you, Mexico ... It's like a hat trick of my weaknesses for women.

But perhaps I've shared too much. Erm... How about that Super Bowl, anyway?

Voting for a Better Future

Iraq has successfully concluded voting for provincial elections:

Iraq's provincial elections have wrapped up without any reports of serious violence.

Polls closed at 6 p.m. local time (10 a.m. EST) on Saturday — an hour later than planned. Millions of voters cast ballots for influential regional councils around most of Iraq.

Iraqi authorities imposed a huge security operation around the country that included traffic bans in major cities and extensive checkpoints and surveillance posts. The U.S. military also was out in force but did not take a direct role in the election security.


Amusingly enough, 9 minutes after it was published online the headline reads "Iraq wraps up election with major violence". Ah, hope springs eternal at the Associated Press. We'll see how long it takes to amend "with" to "without". [Note: Right before posting this, I refreshed the article and at 23 minutes after publication, the title reads "Iraq wraps up election with no major violence". Oopsy corrected.]

We can't expect overnight miracles in Iraq, but this truly is both hope and change for a better future.

There are still problems, as the article notes. The status of Kirkuk (Will it be part of Arab regions or part of the Kurdish region?) still needs to be settled peacefully. And it is not yet clear that either side is prepared to lose a peaceful debate without resorting to arms. Nor is it clear that there is a basis for compromise.

But while I think it is clear to all at this point that the former proposal to divide Iraq into three countries was a stupid idea, this does not mean that our goal must be a unitary Iraqi state for all time. If the Iraqi Arabs and Kurds themselves decide to peacefully part ways--as the Czechs and Slovaks did (there is no more Czechoslovakia, of course), who are we to object?

Or maybe the Kurdish regions will become a sort of Quebec in the mountains, insisting on their distinct status.

Or perhaps the situation will collapse into something more like Lebanon or there will be a war in which Iraq asserts its direct authority over the Kurds. These would be bad outcomes, of course.

The key is supporting a peaceful resolution that the Iraqis themselves are willing to go along with and then move on, looking to the future rather than dwelling on the past on focusing all their efforts to return to that past.

Personally, I think that the Kurds would be wise to remain within a single Iraq while retaining significant local autonomy. And something needs to be done about Kirkuk, the Danzig of Iraq, that rejects the ethnic cleansing that Saddam carried out against the Kurds without simply putting the Arabs into the loser column. I have no idea what that compromise might look like.

But as long as decisions are made under the rule of law, Iraqis can have a bright future no matter how the borders are drawn. Today's vote was a crucial step to this future.

Congratulations Iraq. So far, so good.

In the Tank

President Obama is set to preside over the doubling of American troop strength in Afghanistan over the next year or so, and embark on missions that will likely put our casualties (KIA) in the 40-50 per month range.

Yet the AP "Military Writer" can conclude, in an article title "Obama Unlikely to Widen Afghan War":

President Barack Obama campaigned on a promise to redirect U.S. troops and resources to Afghanistan from Iraq, but he has done little so far to suggest he will significantly widen the grinding war with insurgents in Afghanistan.

On the contrary, Obama appears likely to streamline the U.S. focus with an eye to the worsening economy and the cautionary example of the Iraq war that sapped political support for President George W. Bush.

"There's not simply a military solution to that problem," White House press secretary Robert Gibbs said last week, and Obama believes "that only through long-term and sustainable development can we ever hope to turn around what's going on there."


I see. President Obama is helpless to reverse decisions made by President Bush. The forces are in motion, and the inertia means that Obama can't stop the train that has left the station. So since Obama isn't ordering further increases above what are planned, Obama is not significantly widening the war. Uh huh. Got it.

Fascinating analysis. President Bush couldn't buy this kind of fawning coverage. Obama said there is no military solution (and certainly non-military efforts are highly important), but doubling American troop strength to fight the Taliban counts for nothing in the face of words. Well, some words--the military writer ignores other words (that are even noted) that President Obama has uttered that indicate he will emphasize the war in Afghansitan over Iraq (And note, thank goodness he can do that because we have beaten our enemies in Iraq rather than doing it in a manner to lose in Iraq.)

I don't know what it takes to be an AP "military writer," but knowledge of warfare and the military is apparently not needed. Nor is 5th grade reading comprehension ability, it seems.

When the press turns on this war, it will be ugly. There will be a civil war among liberal writers. Some who are worshippers will defend President Obama to the death even if he uses nuclear weapons. And some will revert to traditional anti-war and anti-military attitudes to attack the war, spiced by a sense of betrayal.

Phantom Army Generation

In an article about how we will generate Army forces for overseas deployment, giving active component units proper rest at home and integrating the National Guard as an operational reserve, the article makes this highly misleading statement:

In the coming years, Army leaders predict 21 additional brigades of Soldiers will be added to the Army's fighting force.


We have 42 active brigades and are building to 48 in the next few years (so maybe we have 43 or 44 by now, I'm not sure). I can say with absolute confidence that we are not getting 21 additonal combat brigades for the active Army despite the implications of this statement standing alone.

I think this should be read in the context of the story's emphasis on integrating the Guard as an operational reserve. We are rebuilding the Army Guard combat units into 28 modular brigade combat teams that will rotate 4-5 brigades per year into the available force pool for deployment.

I'm sure the "21" brigades we are going to get reflect the addition of 4-6 active combat brigades plus the standing up of the balance of 21 with reorganized Guard brigades in the next few years. In time, we'll have 76 combined active and Guard Army combat brigades.

Given budget pressures, I'd be very disturbed if we were going to 63 active brigades in the next few years. We'd have a hollow Army for sure in no time at all. And we may get it anyway with just 48 active brigade combat teams. Which is why I was worried about adding to our Army end strength as a panicky reaction to perceived failure in Iraq.

Friday, January 30, 2009

Excuse Me?

Krauthammer piles on the Golden Age myth that our president espoused in his broadcast to the Moslem world, as I did here.

Says Krauthammer:

Is it "new" to acknowledge Muslim interests and show respect to the Muslim world? Obama doesn't just think so, he said so again to millions in his al-Arabiya interview, insisting on the need to "restore" the "same respect and partnership that America had with the Muslim world as recently as 20 or 30 years ago."

Astonishing. In these most recent 20 years -- the alleged winter of our disrespect of the Islamic world -- America did not just respect Muslims, it bled for them. It engaged in five military campaigns, every one of which involved -- and resulted in -- the liberation of a Muslim people: Bosnia, Kosovo, Kuwait, Afghanistan and Iraq.

The two Balkan interventions -- as well as the failed 1992-93 Somalia intervention to feed starving African Muslims (43 Americans were killed) -- were humanitarian exercises of the highest order, there being no significant U.S. strategic interest at stake. In these 20 years, this nation has done more for suffering and oppressed Muslims than any nation, Muslim or non-Muslim, anywhere on Earth. Why are we apologizing?


Long ago I compiled a list of our efforts since World War II that have aided the Moslem world. The idea that we need to apologize for our actions is absurd. The idea that our president is leading this parade is discouraging, to say the least. Voting "present" would have been an improvement on this issue.

But no, we're going to "respect" Moslems by retreating to policies that say we'll work with any dictator who can keep the Moslem people properly quiet and passive regardless of the human rights record of the regime keeping them quiet. Now that's respect.

Will We Own Afghanistan?

I want to win in Afghanistan, but it's starting to seem like we are determined to screw it up.

I think letting this thinking get out is incredibly stupid:

U.S. President Barack Obama will get tough with Afghan President Hamid Karzai in a bid to focus on the U.S. combat mission there, administration sources say.

In a break with the Bush administration, Obama views Karzai's government as corrupt and believes its failures are contributing to a resurgence of Afghanistan's drug trade and the comeback of the Taliban insurgency, unnamed senior administration officials told Wednesday's New York Times.


If rivals of Karzai think this is a green light to abandon elections as a means to power, whoever takes over will be viewed as "our man" and we will own Afghanistan. Remember the "Pottery Barn rule" that liberals once said about Iraq in the summer of 2003? You break it, you own it?

This is just idiotic. Does anybody remember Diem? For a group of people enthralled with reliving the Vietnam War protest era, they sure do seem committed to recreating it somewhere. They failed to lose the war in Iraq. Is Afghanistan their Vietnam Experience Tour now? Do we really want to own Afghanistan and push the Afghans aside to fight the Taliban?

The proper response to an ineffective central government is not to put somebody else in charge at the center, expecting a miracle worker. Given Afghanistan's history, the correct response is to minimize the role of the corrupt central government to focus on the (admittedly corrupt) provincial and local leaders. At least the latter approach means stolen money is dispersed throughout the country rather than staying in Kabul and making the place a coup magnet. Even if we could find an "Afghan Thomas Jefferson," the central government is not the place for such a man. And keeping Afghans in the fight is the key. We can't alienate them or make them passive viewers of a war they care nothing about.

Don't own Afghanistan. We won't like what we buy. And nobody in their right mind can think this administration or its supporters will pay the price.

Nothing to Fear But Warships Themselves

As long as the federal stimulus package seems to be mostly about funding a program wishlist that has been backing up for the last eight years, based on the dubious claim that we are nearing Great Depression territory, might I remind us all that FDR included a good number of warships in the New Deal programs?

[The] sum of not to exceed $238,000,000 to the Department of the Navy for the construction of certain vessels, the construction whereof conforms to the London Naval Treaty and has heretofore been approved by me.


In the end, these outlays funded (see pages 287-288) the aircraft carriers Yorktown and Enterprise, which held the line in the Pacific in the early days of World War II, as well as 4 light cruisers, 4 heavy cruisers, and numerous destroyers, submarines, planes, and other naval purchases. The Army too benefitted with scores of military airports and Army posts plus aircraft.

You know, we might consider this approach if "stimulus" isn't restricted to arts subsidies and acorn museums, or whatever is in that bill.

UPDATE: Well, unless the stimulus package addresses the military, look for a defense industry recession according to Admiral Mullen:

[The] weapons procurement budget, which averaged about 20 percent of fiscal 2008 and 2009 defense spending, will come under increased scrutiny, Mullen said.

“We’ve got to fund the wars we are in,” and that “puts an awful lot of pressure” on decreasing spending on weapon modernization and the repair of war-worn equipment, he said.

The largest part of the weapons accounts is tactical aircraft, shipbuilding and ground equipment produced by Lockheed Martin Corp., Boeing Co., Northrop Grumman Corp., General Dynamics Corp., Raytheon Co. and BAE Systems Plc.


Well, then Defense takes a hit. Which is ok since I guess the war is over, right? How much do hand cuffs and court-appointed attorneys cost, anyway?

Santa CINC

NATO is looking north:

NATO will need a military presence in the Arctic as global warming melts frozen sea routes and major powers rush to lay claim to lucrative energy reserves, the military bloc's chief said Thursday.


Of course, thawing would not be a security issue but for one particular country that is practicing its psycho regime routine:

In a new national directive, Russia has asserted claims on large sections of the Arctic Ocean. The tone of the document is openly aggressive, prompting fears of increasing international tension over who has the right to exploit the mineral-rich territory.


I'm glad NATO is looking north. But given the general inability of NATO to demonstrate a collective spine, I'd say we should establish a Polar Command to look after our interests up there and coordinate with allies.

Year of the Vox?

The Chinese Communist Party is working hard to avoid the fate of the Soviet Union as it liberalized its economy and society. The Chinese have worked to create a firewall between economic reform and freedom in the political arena. Dissent is not tolerated. Tiananman Square was just the biggest and most violent response to a display of budding freedom inside China.

So far the Chinese ruling elite is holding their own despite unrest in the countryside. But that doesn't mean that yearning for freedom is completely suppressed:

Although their numbers are still small, those signing the document, and the broad spectrum from which they come, have made the human rights manifesto, known as Charter 08, a significant marker in the demands for democracy in China, one of the few sustained campaigns since the 1989 Tiananmen Square protests. Those who sign the charter risk arrest and punishment.

When the document first appeared online in mid-December, its impact was limited. Many of the original signers were lawyers, writers and other intellectuals who had long been known for their pro-democracy stance. The Chinese government moved quickly to censor the charter -- putting those suspected of having written it under surveillance, interrogating those who had signed, and deleting any mention of it from the Internet behind its great firewall.

Then something unusual happened. Ordinary people such as Tang with no history of challenging the government began to circulate the document and declare themselves supporters. The list now includes scholars, journalists, computer technicians, businessmen, teachers and students whose names had not been associated with such movements before, as well as some on the lower rungs of China's social hierarchy -- factory and construction workers and farmers.

"This is the first time that anyone other than the Communist Party has put in written form in a public document a political vision for China," said Xiao Qiang, an adjunct professor of journalism at the University of California at Berkeley, a human rights activist and director of the China Internet Project, which monitors conversation on China's vast network of electronic bulletin-board systems, blogs and Web sites. "It's dangerous to be associated with dissidents, so in the past, other, ordinary people have not signed such documents. But this time it is different. It has become a citizens' movement."


It is likely that this will amount to nothing and the government will shut down this avenue of protest--with the number of casualties and prison terms the only question. Most protest movements go nowhere and the voices of the protesters remain unheard throughout China.

Until one succeeds, of course, and tens of millions hear the cry for freedom and do something about it.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

They Really Believe This Stuff

Mark Steyn has some funny news:

Berkeley's public library will face a showdown with the city's Peace and Justice Commission tonight over whether a service contract for the book check-out system violates the city's nuclear-free ordinance. ...

3M, a company with operations in 60 countries, refused to sign Berkeley's nuclear-free disclosure form as required by the Nuclear Free Berkeley Act passed by voters in 1986.

As a result, the library's self-checkout machines have not been serviced in about six months. Library officials say 3M is the only company authorized by the manufacturer to fix the machines, which were purchased in 2004.

The library asked the Peace and Justice Commission for a waiver, but at its Jan. 5 meeting the commission voted 7-1, with two abstentions, to reject the request... "The act is meant to be a blow against nuclear war. We're serious about upholding that."


No wonder they hate missile defense--it would put the Peace and Justice Commissioners out of their jobs! Who knew they didn't have joke positions?

Far be it from me to risk the nuclear Apocolypse by mocking their resolve to save us from nuclear war, but just how stoned are they in Berkeley?

Punitive Mission Accomplished

Max Boot thinks that Israel did win the Gaza Winter War, demonstrating much better tactical skill on the ground than in 2006; but the Israelis pulled back from really pouncing on Hamas, and that in the end the operation was more akin to a punitive mission.

I pretty much agree with this assessment.

The Missiles of Eritrea

Strategypage reports this:

In Somaliland (one of two self-proclaimed statelets in the north, to the west of Puntland), police have arrested several dozen Islamic terrorists and seized ten shoulder fired anti-aircraft missiles. The men, and weapons, came from Eritrea (which, with Iran, is supporting Islamic terrorist groups in Somalia).


So are these missiles the reality of the inflated claims raised back in December about Iranian missiles going to Eritrea?

It's What They Do

I hope nobody thinks we can trust the North Korean regime on the issue of atomic weapons.

In lesser areas, any agreements are honored only as long as they want to honor them. And Pyongyang has decided some no longer suit them:

North Korea says it is rescinding past military and political agreements with South Korea over Seoul's hard-line stance toward Pyongyang.


I'll trust them when the regime rulers' heads are mounted on pikes outside the palace.

Ya Think?

The Washington Post editorial is headlined:

The Afghan Challenge
Democrats have long called it 'the central front.' Will they retreat from it?

I assume this is a rhetorical question.

Why We Fight

There is still some confusion about our goals and strategy for Afghansitan even as troops are being scheduled to double our troop strength there.

Secretary Gates thinks our strategic goals for Afghanistan should be limited:

"My own personal view is that our primary goal is to prevent Afghanistan from being used as a base for terrorists," Gates said.The Obama administration is working with military leaders to craft a new strategy for the war in Afghanistan, which Gates said has become America's "top overseas military priority."


He also recognizes that our surge of troops has limits:

Gates said U.S. and allied troops must try harder to avoid killing civilians. "My worry is that the Afghans come to see us as part of their problem rather than part of their solution, and then we are lost," he said.


Unfortunately, this is a limit on our firepower usage that is foisted on us by the media despite the fact that the Taliban are responsible for the vast majority of civilian deaths in Afghanistan.

And it isn't just the strategy that is uncertain. How will more troops be used in Afghanistan to achieve whatever objective we set?

Without a guiding strategy, top commanders and senior civilian officials are in disagreement over what missions the additional troops should be assigned, and how those missions could be coordinated with political and economic development efforts. Senior officials say the studies are not yet completed.Troops deployed in Afghanistan have expressed confusion about whether their ultimate goal is to eliminate the Taliban or help Afghanistan become a viable democracy. U.S. officials say military objectives often undercut development work, and aid agencies frequently complicate military tactics.


I've raised all these issues.

Now all we need to hear is how President Obama will define our goals and rebuff his supporters who are already eager to retreat from Afghanistan.

I want to win in Afghanistan. But I want objectives consistent with our national interests and capacity to wage war--both physically and emotionally.

Of course, my support for victory doesn't depend on our government fighting exactly the way I would like us to fight. The evil nature of our enemies makes my questions relatively small matters.

We must kill and defeat our enemies. Let's get on with it.

The Iranian Agenda For Those Talks

With the Obama administration prepared to talk with the reasonable mullahs of Iran, it is nice that Ahmadinejad unclenched his fist long enough to pen the items he wants on the agenda:


"Change means giving up support for the rootless, uncivilized, fabricated, murdering ... Zionists and letting the Palestinian nation decide its own destiny," Ahmadinejad said. "Change means putting an end to U.S. military presence in (different parts of) the world."


Drop support for Israel, support Hamas, and withdraw all our military power back home? Well that isn't unreasonable at all, right?

Is that all? Well, no:


"We will wait patiently, listen to their words carefully, scrutinize their actions under a magnifier and if change happens truly and fundamentally, we will welcome that," he added. "The change will be to apologize to the Iranian nation and try to compensate for their dark records and the crimes they have committed against the Iranian nation."


That's nice. We should apologize to him.

Technically Ahmadinejad didn't violate the terms of the invitation by our president. Ahmadinejad did indeed unclench his fist in order to slap us across the face. Talking with nutjobs is going to be so much fun, eh?

No mention of what kind of pony Ahmadinejad wants to cap off the talks.

Hey, good luck with this diplomatic effort, Secretary Clinton!

UPDATE: Ledeen reminds us that President Clinton already apologized to the mullahs. Fat lot of good it did us.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Not Passive Enough?

Germany won't fight with us in Afghansitan, but don't think that saves them from jihadi wrath:

"We have a few surprise packages prepared this year," the men reportedly say. "Allies of the occupation powers must always reckon with our attacks."

Germany currently has 3,600 troops in Afghanistan as part of the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) in that country.


I'm sure that there will be Germans who will argue that sitting around in their barracks in Kabul drinking beer and eating sausage is too provocative and that all German war tourists should be brought home. Then Germany will be safe. Well, apparently not, according to that article:

The video also made reference to the latest conflict between Israelis and Palestinians and to German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

"For 10 days the world has watched as Muslims in the Gaza Strip have been massacred," the men in the video reportedly say. "Where is the US? Where is Mrs. Merkel and her cabinet?"


So failing to intervene against Israel is also a provocation to the jihadis. Apparently, if you aren't with them, you're against them. Hard to retreat far enough with that logic.

There is no mention of what targets the Islamic Jihad Union has in mind.

The Retreat is On!

Russia has graciously announced they will not put new missiles into Kaliningrad. Why?

"The implementation of these plans has been halted in connection with the fact that the new U.S. administration is not rushing through plans to deploy" elements of its missile defense shield in eastern Europe, Interfax news agency quoted an unnamed official in the Russian military's general staff as saying.


Well that's great. A shield designed to protect Europe and eventually our homeland from Iranian nuclear missiles will be abandoned because Russia threw a hissy fit.

On the other hand, this is from the Russians. They lie with a natural ease that is quite disturbing.

So I want to hear it from our side before I sink into despair.

Union of European Socialist Republics

I don't like the European Union. I don't trust it. I think it has been a mistake to encourage the formation of the EU. We defeated the Soviet Union and now we are encouraging a European Union. European citizens can be our friends. European countries can be our friends. But Europe will not be our friend.

More on the nature of the beast growing in Brussels:

If you want to see just where the EU is going, then take a look at sections 1205-00 and 1206-00. Both of them say that it is a crime to “insult” the State, the Nation, the symbols of the State or Nation, or representatives of the State/Nation. Does this mean that it is considered a crime if someone writes an op-ed that is disparaging of a politician? Sure sounds like it.


I'll repeat my advice: Die! With festering boils, die!

What's the Frequency, Kenneth?

Is it too much to ask what we want our troops in Afghanistan to do?

And to ask how 60,000 American troops will win the war, when the anti-Iraq War side said that anything short of 2% of the population to be pacified is the minimum necessary to win? (Meaning close to 600,000 US troops for Afghanistan. I consistently argued we had enough troops to win in Iraq, and our apparent victory vindicates me. But war opponents are stuck with their arguments, aren't they?)

These are not incomprehensible queries, but basic questions to fighting a war.

I've asked what our objective is many times. Truth be told, my objectives for Afghanistan just aren't that high.

I even described a strategy for winning in Afghanistan.

Yet the Obama administration is plunging forward without an objective laid out. I think our objectives are still limited, but how are our objectives related to putting many more troops in Afghanistan at the end of risky supply lines?

But at least the question of what we expect our troops to do is being raised in the press as we begin the surge. See here and here.

While Afghanistan was an economy of force operation, the big question wasn't as important. But now that Afghanistan is assuming the primary focus of our military effort (because we've likely won in Iraq), the question is very important.

And if you think President Obama's supporters will support the Afghan campaign when the going gets tough, you simply aren't paying attention. The challenge is already happening.

Future Cannon

We do seem to be making progress on the FCS tank replacement by developing a lighter 120mm gun whose recoil is not too great for a lighter platform:

The lightweight Future Combat Systems XM-360 120mm cannon -- designed to sit atop the new Mounted Combat System -- was test-fired here Jan. 22.

The XM-1202 Mounted Combat System is one of eight new vehicle types that the Army is developing through its FCS modernization program. The FCS vehicles will be lighter and more mobile than current Army combat vehicles; yet officials promise they will have greater lethality and survivability.


And we seem to be making progress on the light armor needed:

Lighter and more survivable vehicles are required to combat a growing array of new and more sophisticated threats, officials here said. Greater speed and mobility, coupled with better surveillance and reconnaissance capabilities, can enhance operational effectiveness, while improving survivability, they said.

Composite FCS armor, for instance, which is being developed at Aberdeen, provides better armor protection at significantly less mass and weight.


This is good news. But even as the Army makes progress in building the wonder tank, I have to ask why we are lightening up so much? We can't airlift significant numbers of even 25-ton M-1202 vehicles. And if we are sealifting them, is 70 tons each really a problem compared to 25-ton vehicles?

And what will our vehicles face once deployed overseas to the combat theater?

Or maybe we will build the wonder tank. I've certainly been wrong before. Yet we assume that our enemies will have present day technology. But what if wonder tank technology grafted on to sheer size creates a high tech monster? Our enemies don't have to go far to fight us. We're the ones who have to go to them. We may worry about weight but our enemies don't. Will even a successful FCS be able to fight our enemies who copy our technology?



Because even if we make light armor strong enough to replicate M-1A2 Abrams protection on a chassis of less than 30 tons, couldn't an enemy put even more of this super armor on a vehicle and overmatch the M-1202 with their own 60 ton vehicle?

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

No Nukes, No Deterrence

Secretary of Defense Gates and President Obama have a disagreement over modernizing our nuclear arsenal. Gates has one view:

"Congress needs to do its part by funding the Reliable Replacement Warhead program — for safety, for security and for a more reliable deterrent." RRW basically trades explosive force for greater assurance that new warheads would work predictably in the absence of tests, which the U.S. has refrained from conducting for nearly two decades to help advance nonproliferation goals. (See a graphic of the global nuclear arms balance.)

But Obama doesn't buy that logic. Shortly after taking the oath of office on Tuesday, he turned what had been a campaign promise into an official presidential commitment: the new Administration "will stop the development of new nuclear weapons," the White House declared flatly on its website, with no equivocation, asterisks or caveats.

Obama and Gates are "at loggerheads on this," says Michael O'Hanlon, a military expert at the Brookings Institution who has specialized in nuclear issues.


If the Obama administration isn't committed to stopping Iran from going nuclear on the theory that we can deter the mad mullahs from using nukes, shouldn't the reliability of our nuclear arsenal be a fairly high priority?

Fascinating

A couple of terrorists rolled into my town yesterday:

Did the two former leaders of the Weathermen, a violent anti-war group that bombed banks and government buildings in the 1960s and '70s, reject their own acts of terrorism, a member of the packed audience wanted to know.

"We don't think, individually or as a group, that we were terrorists," Dohrn replied.

"We never did, and we don't think terrorism is a good idea. But the Weather Underground broke through a lot of barriers - there were 2,000 people dying a week in Vietnam, and we had 500,000 soldiers occupying a tiny country, involved in acts that would be considered war crimes by today's framework. I don't defend it, but I do insist on explaining it."

Ayers pointed to his 2001 book, "Fugitive Days: A Memoir," as "one long explanation and reflection on how people like us could be put in a place like that."

"It's not so easy to say, 'I am completely nonviolent,' because there is violence being carried on this minute in the names of everyone of us in this room. So to sit on your couch and think you're exempt from violence because you're not doing anything ... well, that's too easy."


I find that fascinating thinking. I mean, aside from the blindness to the truth that we were defending an ally against communist thugs and not "occupying" South Vietnam.

What is fascinating is that the two yuppie terrorists don't think they are terrorists. They think, however, that if they are violent people for planting bombs to stop a war, so too are people who fail to stop their government from waging that war. Each is violent in their own way.

I guess that's how they sleep at night.

It is a disgrace that two such revolting people walk our streets, let alone prosper in our society. They dress up like respectable Westerners, but they are scum. They should be hiding in a cave in some Pakistani border province worrying about JDAMs ending their lives.

Yep. Good Times ... Good Times ...



President Barack Obama on Tuesday chose an Arabic satellite TV network for his first formal television interview as president, delivering a message to the Muslim world that "Americans are not your enemy."

The interview underscored Obama's commitment to repair relations with the Muslim world that have suffered under the previous administration.


All well and good. I'll disregard the idea that it is our fault. But the lack of historical memory from a man almost exactly the same age as me is disheartening. This is what our president said:

Obama said the U.S. had made mistakes in the past but "that the same respect and partnership that America had with the Muslim world as recently as 20 or 30 years ago, there's no reason why we can't restore that."


Ah, so it wasn't just the last eight years that we spoiled the relationship? Our "partnership" with the Moslem world was on solid ground 20-30 years ago, the president claims. So the Golden Age that President Obama aspires to are the years from 1979 to 1989, which excludes the lip-biting sensitive era of President Clinton (ahem, Secretary of State Clinton) and basically amounts to the Reagan administration.

But what about that supposed Golden Age of Partnership?

Let's see:
1979


The Iran hostage crisis begins with Iranian Shia jihadis seizing our embassy.

Moslem extreminsts kidnap our ambassador to Afghanistan (he dies in the crossfire of a rescue attempt).

A Moslem mob attacks our embassy in Pakistan after rumors of US forces taking over the Grand Mosque in Mecca are spread. In fact, French commandos liberating that mosque from a couple hundred armed jihadis, but nobody thought to be angry with the French for that.

1980


Operation Eagle Claw to rescue our hostages in Iran fails at Desert One.

1981


Gulf of Sidra incident in which we shoot down two Libyan fighters.

1982


I can't recall any particular incident. Perhaps that was the magical partnership era. Although we did land troops in Lebanon that year to separate Israel from the PLO and Syrian forces.

1983


Jihadis bomb our embassy in Beirut, killing more than 60.

Jihadis bomb our Marines barracks in Beirut, killing nearly 250 US military personnel.

US engages Druze and Syrian forces in Lebanon with artillery and air strikes.

1984


Libya mines the Red Sea.

1985


TWA aircraft hijacked by Hezbollah, one US Navy man murdered.

Achille Lauro cruise ship hijacked, one American civilian murdered.

1986


TWA flight bombed , 4 killed.

A disco in Berlin frequented by US military personnel bombed by Libyan agents, 3 killed.

US jets bomb Libya in retaliation.

Pan Am aircraft hijacked by Abu Nidal Palestinian terrorists in Pakistan.

1987


Tanker War between US and Iran begins in Persian Gulf.

1988


Tanker War escalates until Iran-Iraq War ends this year.

Pan Am aircraft blown up over Scotland by Libyan agents.

1989


In Gulf of Sidra, US aircraft shoot down two Libyan fighters.

Thus ends the Golden Age of Partnership between America and the Moslem world. Wow, our "partners" sure were doing a lot of shooting at us!

Good times ... Good times ... And this is just the US stuff that comes to mind.

My guess is that President Obama has no intention of taking us back to those magical days of yore--but only because he has no idea that this is our history. I'm sure he thinks the era is completely defined by Camp David and its aftermath when Israel and Egypt made peace (and Egyptian President Sadat was murdered by jihadis for his efforts). Ah yes, he remembers it well.

Oh, and given the surge of forces that President Obama is prepared to order to fight the "real" war against terrorism in Afghanistan (a.k.a. the "good war"), how does this interpretation of Bush's sins square with Obama's plans to rebuild our "partnership?"

During his presidency, former President George W. Bush gave several interviews to Al-Arabiya but the wars he launched in Iraq and Afghanistan prompted a massive backlash against the U.S. in the Muslim world.


So Moslems don't think Afghanistan is the "good war?" Fancy that.

An American president embarking on a foreign policy based on the assumption that we have done something to earn the hatred of our jihadi enemies is just asking for a Jimmy Carter Soviet invasion of Afghanistan level of disillusionment.

Brace yourselves, people, it's looking like we're in for a rough ride.
UPDATE: Amir Taheri has his own views on that Golden Age that our president wishes to restore:

What was happening during what Obama seems to regard as the "golden age" of Carter's leadership? US diplomats were held hostage in Tehran and daily humiliated with mock executions. Soviet troops were annexing Afghanistan to the Evil Empire. Saddam Hussein was preparing to invade Iran, starting an eight-year war that claimed a million lives. Mecca was under siege by the ideological antecedents of Osama bin Laden. Syrian troops were preparing to march into Lebanon.

Other features of this "golden age": the seizure of power by mullahs in Tehran, the assassination of Egyptian President Anwar Sadat, the coming to power of communists in the Horn of Africa, the military coup in Turkey, the first Islamist terror attacks in Algeria, unprecedented waves of repression in Egypt and Saudi Arabia and the imposition of military rule in Pakistan.

During the same period, and its immediate aftermath, dozens of Americans from many walks of life were seized as hostages and sometimes brutally murdered in several Muslim countries. The US ambassador in Sudan was murdered; the CIA station chief in Beirut abducted, taken to Tehran and killed under torture.

A similarly dark picture could be drawn of the situation 20 years ago, when America was arming the mujahedin in Afghanistan while Saddam Hussein was preparing to invade Kuwait.


And the first President George Bush was then trying to court the Iranian mullahs in much the same way as Obama is trying today. But the mullahs were training and arming Hezbollah units in Lebanon and opening channels to Palestinian radicals who would soon re-emerge as Hamas. Saddam was gassing thousands of Kurds to death, while Turkey was dragged into a full-scale war on Kurdish communist secessionists. Meanwhile, the Libyan terror network was killing American GIs in Europe and blowing up US jetliners over Western skies.

Face it, Moslems--if certainly not Moslem dictators and those Moslems whose only reason for existence is the jihad--are better off after 8 years of George W. Bush than they were 20 or 30 years ago. Moslems actually have a hope of choosing something beyond fascist-style dictatorships or Islamic dictatorships to live under. History will record him as George the Liberator. I hope President Obama isn't celebrated by the region's dictators for blunting this change in outlook when his time in office is over.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Getting Their Wish

So our European critics are happy we are going to close the Guantanamo Bay detention facility, right?

Sure. Which means they'll help us deal with the soon-to-be-former inmates, right?

Not so fast:

Should it take in some former inmates, a move that may carry security risks as well as legal consequences? Or should Washington be left to clean up its own mess - a move unlikely to score points with the new Democratic administration?

“The Europeans have been nagging the United States to close Guantanamo for ages,” said London-based security analyst Bob Ayers. “Now the U.S. is actually thinking about doing it, these same Europeans that have been critical of the U.S. are now very reluctant to take those people into their own countries.”


You don't say? But it isn't all negative:

The reaction has not been uniformly negative. Switzerland, Ireland, Britain, Portugal and France have signaled various levels of interest in taking in former Guantanamo inmates.

But which ones and under what conditions is unclear.


I'm sure just as soon as they determine they don't have any of their citizens in Gitmo, they'll announce they will only accept their own nationals. Otherwise, they'll restrict their prisons to Gitmo detainees accused of littering or failing to sort recyclables, or something equally horrible like the Khandahar kitten orphanage caretakers swept up by our brutal trroops for no reason.

The article keeps a tone of the Europeans being unwilling to help undo a "mess" we created. That is really annoying. We fight the war largely without Europe's support. Oh sure, they cooperate with intelligence sharing, but few actually fight with us. We run a good prison that only has a bad reputation because Europe leads the charge by making unsubstantiated claims of abuse and torture and inmate innocence, and now that we will close the prison because of that pressure, it is "our" mess?

Is it any wonder so many Americans have a poor opinion of Europe rather than fawning over them like our liberal population?

The Global Left will protest our detention of enemy terrorists and suspects regardlesss of where we house them or under what conditions we detain them. The protests will not end. Just wait and see.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Defeated

When Russia failed to conquer Georgia last August, I asked what Russia had won:

So the Russians will retain Abkhazia and South Ossetia, which they already had before the war; failed to overthrow the Georgian government, just using enough force to anger Georgians and remind them of the Russian threat without destroying Georgia; and angered the West rather than cowed it with their partial invasion. All the Russians got was a short-term dose of self-esteem that will wear off as the reality of Russian weakness eventually becomes apparent.But other than that, the war is going just swell for Moscow.

If Russia had gone all the way to Tbilisi and installed a puppet regime in a week of fighting while the West was dithering, we might be able to say that Russia won the war.

But Russia didn't go for the Gold, for whatever reason.

When you start to take Tbilisi, take Tbilisi.


I just didn't see how so many analysts could claim Russia won the war notwithstanding their battlefield victory over the ill-prepared Georgian military.

This article in Military Review argues that Russia lost the war:

Yet, while Russia won the war in tactical and operational terms, it is fast becoming clear to Moscow—as it should have been before the war—that Russia’s strategic losses are mounting and will in time eclipse the gains Russia obtained through the use of force.


And this is important to remember as well:

A limited Russian peace enforcement operation (to use U.S. terminology) to expel Georgian forces from South Ossetia would have sufficiently proven Russia’s point, thwarted Georgian policy, discredited the Saakashvili regime, and provoked little response. Instead, blinded with a desire to show the world who is boss in the CIS, to humiliate and overthrow Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili, and to demonstrate that Russia is still a great power not to be trifled with, Putin went for broke. His personal hatred for Saakashvili and his revanchist and resentful feelings against America are the underlying causes of the invasion—and prove who is the real power behind the throne. There is abundant evidence that the war was a Putin-led provocation from start to finish, designed to achieve the geopolitical and personal goals listed above, and perhaps inspired by a need to show President Medvedev that he does not actually control Russia and cannot dislodge members of the security services from power. If nothing else, the size, scope, and speed of Moscow’s combined arms response and continuing occupation and Russification of Georgian territories in defiance of its own cease-fire suggest as much.


Putin started the war. And other than lying to his own people to make it look like a glorious defense of the Motherland against rapacious Western conspiracies, Russia has little to show from this excercise in bolstering self esteem.

Well, nothing to show from it other than pushing American-Georgian relations closer:

The United States and Georgia Friday signed a bilateral charter on strategic partnership aimed at increasing cooperation in defense, trade, energy and other areas. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said the deal should advance Georgia's bid for membership in NATO and other western structures.

State Department officials stress that the charter is a not a mutual defense treaty, but they say it is a highly-visible sign of American support for the Caucuses state in the aftermath of its conflict with Russia last August.

The agreement provides a road map for cooperation between the two countries across the spectrum of bilateral relations, including U.S. assistance to Georgia's military to help that country qualify for NATO membership.


So we took another step in the process of keeping Russia from going for round two.

Well played, Vladimir! Bravo! You the man!

Time to celebrate and whip off that shirt! Woo hoo!

Sire, The Peasants are Revolting!

I'll say:

EU member states are "intensively" monitoring the risk of spreading civil unrest in Europe, as riots over the economic crisis erupt in Iceland following street clashes in Latvia, Lithuania, Bulgaria and Greece.

The worst street disturbances for 50 years struck Reykjavik on Thursday (22 January), as police streamed a hardcore of a few hundred anti-government protesters in the early morning with pepper spray and then tear gas after an earlier crowd of around 2,000 gathered outside the Althingi, the country's parliament, to demand the government resign.


I had no idea that Iceland even had the need for riot police. Iceland is not an EU member, the article notes, but I have to wonder what would happen if local police in an EU state can't readily cope with any riots? Would other EU states be called on to send in police to quell disturbances lest they spread to other countries? How would locals view such "fraternal assistance" by foreign troops?

I just have nagging feeling I should pay far more attention to this developing situation.

Surface-to-Air Media

Unfortunately, we sometimes must order our troops to take actions that risk their lives. Just going on a patrol risks their lives. Exposing themselves to retrieve casualties risks their lives. Holding fire when the enemy hides behind children risks our troops' lives. Attacking into machine gun fire is surely risky. Heck, just enlisting means they accept the risk. But our troops do these things in order to win.

It is disgusting that Taliban efforts to portray our very careful fire support missions as wantonly killing civilians is succeeding:

President Hamid Karzai condemned a U.S. operation he said killed 16 Afghan civilians, while hundreds of villagers denounced the American military during an angry demonstration Sunday.

Karzai said the killing of innocent Afghans during U.S. military operations "is strengthening the terrorists."


President Karzai surely knows he is being played. But too many of his people believe that we are careless for him to act otherwise. The writers at least admit--near the end of the article--that this isn't what it appears on the surface based on even Karzai's statements:

Civilian deaths are an extremely complicated issue in Afghanistan. Afghan villagers have been known to exaggerate civilian death claims in order to receive more compensation from the U.S. military, and officials have said that insurgents sometimes force villagers to make false death claims.

But the U.S. military has also been known to not fully acknowledge when it killed civilians.


I think that last jab was unnecessary. We don't admit to accusations of killing civilians. We like to investigate rather than just accept a charge at face value. We try hard not to kill civilians, but when the enemy hides among civilians it is tough to avoid all civilian deaths. We do very well under the circumstances.

We had to supply Stinger surface-to-air missiles (SAMs) to Afghan resistance groups in the 1980s to blunt Soviet air power. Today the Taliban just needs to deploy their intergrated global air defense system--the media. Yet if we fail to adapt, we make it more difficult to keep public support in Afghansitan and at home to continue the fight. It is surely not "fair."

Nonetheless, we must adapt to this reality and others:

But we'll fight within the restrictions we face because we are a nation of rules just trying to do the right thing--even when the rules are twisted against us. We'll trust our Afghan friends, refrain from dropping bombs, and follow the rulings of judges, and hopefully still win a war that our friends oppose almost as effectively as our enemies.


The reality is that the enemy is winning this public relations battle. It is unfair to our troops. But this has to be viewed as any other measure we take to win that risks the lives of our troops in combat.

Hopefully, in time we can relax the rules again or find another means of killing the enemy with lower risks of collateral damage.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

An Ordinary Thing

Iraqis are voting in provincial elections today (correction, January 30 and 31st):

In Baghdad and elsewhere, streets are festooned with colorful election banners, and candidates — many of them first-timers — have taken advantage of better security to hold public meetings where voters pose questions on such nuts-and-bolts issues as housing shortages and rising prices. ...

More than 14,400 candidates, about 3,900 of them women, are competing for 444 seats on ruling councils in 14 of the country's 18 provinces. So it could take weeks of dealmaking to determine which parties have gained control of key areas such as Baghdad, the oil-rich Shiite-dominated south and former insurgent strongholds of western Anbar province.


How ordinary is this? From our point of view, of course. From the point of view of the Arab and Moslem worlds that Iraq is a part of, this is highly unusual.

Just flipping Iraq from an enemy country to a friendly country under a benign dictator instead of a brutal thug would have been a victory. How much greater is this?

And if the Iraqis pull this off, the example may be highly destabilizing to other despots in the Arab Moslem world and undermine the appeal of jihadis who promise to get rid of the despots.

Dissonance!

The Left loves Hugo Chavez of Venezuela.

The Left loves President Obama.

Hugo seems to think, ah, poorly, of President Obama (from my Jane's email updates):

"It looks like the president-elect of the United States will be a new fiasco for his own people and for the world. Hopefully I'm wrong, but I think that with Obama the same stench is coming back." Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez' anti-US baiting returns after a brief lull as he assesses the incoming US president Barack Obama on 18 January [2009.]


What will our Left do? What will they think? A foreign Lefty loon leader hates the American president! That is as it should be! That has been the accepted Left position for 8 years!

But that president is now their man! The irresistible farce meets the immovable logic!

The pressure builds inside the skulls of our Leftists. I don't think they're going to make it four years.

Continuity During Change

It's nice to see some things don't change. The headline?


"Under Obama, US-China ties may face shaky start"


"Under Obama." So, it's President Obama's fault then? Why?

In his inaugural address Tuesday, President Barack Obama spoke of how earlier generations of Americans had "faced down fascism and communism." China's state broadcaster quickly faded out the audio of its live broadcast, the camera cutting back to a flustered studio anchor.

Then, on Thursday, Obama's choice to lead the Treasury Department, Timothy Geithner, wrote that Obama believes China is "manipulating" its currency, which American manufacturers say Beijing does to make its goods cheaper for U.S. consumers and American products more expensive in China.

Geithner's comments could anger Chinese officials, who closely follow U.S. political rhetoric and frequently decry what they consider foreign interference in China's internal affairs.


So, China is a communist regime that violates human rights and manipulates their currency in a manner that hurts us. We've mentioned this to China. China is upset we've noted what China does.

And it is our fault, it seems. Not China's for continuing to act as a communist-run dictatorship.

The writer quotes a man who is so in the tank for North Korea that I can't believe anybody would listen to the man on anything:

Selig Harrison, director of the Asia program at the U.S.-based Center for International Policy, said it was "very ill-advised for the new administration to confront China as if this were 10 years ago and we were in a strong financial position internationally."


Here's a sampling of my comments on Harrison.

It's almost as if the world really wasn't looking for a replacement for President Bush to finally start cooperating with us. I mean, it's almost as if President Bush was just the excuse some countries made to get a free ride on our security spending and trade policies.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Opposing the "Bad War"

For many years, I've argued that when Iraq was won (or lost), the Left would turn on the Afghanistan War. Supporting the fight in Afghanistan was only a ruse to protect themselves from the charge of being unwilling to defend our nation from any threats as they opposed the Iraq War. The signs of this opposition are clear already.

George McGovern dusts himself off to start the Left's campaign to lose the former "good war" in Afghanistan:


As you settle into the Oval Office, Mr. President, may I offer a suggestion? Please do not try to put Afghanistan aright with the U.S. military. To send our troops out of Iraq and into Afghanistan would be a near-perfect example of going from the frying pan into the fire. There is reason to believe some of our top military commanders privately share this view. And so does a broad and growing swath of your party and your supporters.


My biggest mistake was thinking that the Left would need to find a "real" fight elsewhere that they could argue Afghanistan distracts us from addressing. But with the Left holding Congress and the White House, I guess they see no need for such refinements. Just turning and running as fast as their stubby little legs can churn will do just fine now:


So let me suggest a truly audacious hope for your administration: How about a five-year time-out on war -- unless, of course, there is a genuine threat to the nation?

During that interval, we could work with the U.N. World Food Program, plus the overseas arms of the churches, synagogues, mosques and other volunteer agencies to provide a nutritious lunch every day for every school-age child in Afghanistan and other poor countries.


A time out on war, he says. And provide lunch to Afghan school kids instead.

I assume McGovern means just lunch for boys, since the Taliban thugs kill to shut down schools that teach girls. God doesn't want that, as far as the jihadis are concerned. And I'm sure that the jihadis won't mind Christians and Jews participating with Moslems in this project on Moslem soil. Nor will moderate Moslems willing to work with Christians and Jews need fear jihadi wrath for that touching display of bumper sticker coexistence that appeals to proper-minded liberals everywhere.

And remember, if we've declared a "time out," our troops can't very well protect the little girls from the lunatic jihadis. Acid in the face, beheadings, and bombs will dampen the thrill of getting a nice culturally sensitive lunch each day.

My God, how can I even begin to address such lunacy?

McGovern served bravely in World War II. But he's more than made up for that heroism in his decades of undermining American national security since then and pimping for our enemies.

The man is clearly an idiot. And he expresses the impulses of many of President Obama's supporters who will resist his efforts to win the "good war" gone "bad."

The Right will be with Obama to win the war in Afghanistan, even when we have doubts about strategy. The Left will be out there banging their drums and hauling out the giant puppets to lose a "bad war."

UPDATE: Will these girls get an education under McGovern's proposal?


Teenage girls in blue and green burqas pour into the schoolyard, where they pull off their coverings, stuff them in their book bags and head to class. It almost seems as if the acid attacks never happened.

But though classes have resumed, the students, their parents and the school's principal remain on edge two months later. The principal says better security promised by the government hasn't come. Some girls are too afraid to tell reporters their names or let their pictures be taken.

In November, three teams of men on motorbikes sprayed acid from squirt guns and water bottles onto 15 schoolgirls and teachers as they walked to the Mirwais Mena girls school in Kandahar, the southern city that is the spiritual birthplace of the Taliban.

One girl's face was so badly burned that she was flown to India for treatment. Four others are still being treated at hospitals in Afghanistan's capital, Kabul.

The attackers' apparently hoped to scare girls from going to school. The Taliban banned girls from attending school during its 1996-2001 rule and insurgents in the south have repeatedly attacked schools in recent years as part of the insurgency against the government.


So we know what "peace" with the Afghan Taliban jihadis would look like. We've seen it already.

The Left likes to claim the mantle of concern and caring. They'd have to think that to sleep at night with the results of their policies so very clear. They'd have better luck in their reasoning abilities if they'd just understand that we are the good guys and our jihadi enemies are the bad guys.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Just Shy of a War?

Even as Israel's military beat Hamas on the battlefield inside the Gaza Strop, I wondered if this would be a war with real objectives or a punitive expedition.

I leaned toward an actual war based on Israel's success and low casualties. I didn't think Israel would accept a ceasefire while they had the advantage and much more to do. And when Israel accepted the ceasefire, I didn't think Israel would actually withdraw their troops until they had a chance to really sift the area and shut down the smuggling tunnels, kill or capture Hamas leaders, destroy rocket depots, and destroy rocket work shops.

When Israel actually did bug out, I figured they stopped way too early:

I think Israel will regret ending the war so abruptly and pulling out. Israel should have sifted the strip to complete the destruction a little more thoroughly.

Still, deterrence and fear have been restored a good deal among Israel's enemy's after the weakening it endured after the poorly fought 2006 Hezbollah War.


Ralph Peters thinks they made an error, too:

The IDF performed superbly, redeeming its reputation after the 2006 Lebanon debacle. But Prime Minister Ehud Olmert's government, after an encouraging start, reverted to its past spinelessness - a failure of nerve that served Israelis and Palestinians badly.

After the basic issue of whether a war is just comes the question of whether the war's results justify the costs. Had Israel continued to focus on smashing Hamas and killing its leaders, this would have qualified, readily, as a just war from start to finish.

But now we just don't know if this truncated conflict will produce desirable long-term consequences, or if a convalescent Hamas will continue ruling Gaza with the gun and eventually resume its terror-rocket campaign.

Hamas has suffered a painful setback, physically, politically and psychologically. But it may not have been hurt enough. Hardcore terrorists take a lot of killing.


And the smuggling tunnels are still in business:

The tunnels linking Gaza and Egypt are back in business, despite the hundreds of tons of bombs and missiles that Israeli troops rained down on them.


Hamas still has the rockets, work shops, terrorists and supply lines to continue attacking Israeli civilians.

Hamas was not hurt enough.

When Nope Trumps Hope

Like many people, I've been counting on a new era of cooperation from newly happy European allies to man up and contribute to our common fight against the jihadis. Once the evil Bush was gone, all would be right with the world.

So this news was obviously a shock to all those who believe that President Bush alienated Europe and all will be well from now on. The French won't commit more troops to actually fight in Afghanistan. And the other European states are even less eager to play a role in our "good war":

[A] Harris poll for the FT shows that clear majorities of people in the UK, France, Italy and Germany believe that their governments must not send more forces to Afghanistan, irrespective of demands that the new American head of state might make.


They are all, again, Americans? Apparently not. Well, not enough to actually fight at our side.

Which is, of course, predictable.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Come On, Grant Me That This is Funny

What is the line our anti-war side has repeated about Bush and Iraq?

Oh yeah, we "rushed" to war with insufficient planning and lacked the warm embrace of United Nations approval for the war. The charges are pretty much ridiculous, but the point is that the anti-war side people believe it.

So let's look at what the Obama administration is planning for Afghanistan:

The deteriorating situation in Afghanistan has forced the U.S. to plan to rush as many as 30,000 more troops to the central Asian country this year.

They will be joining some 32,000 U.S. troops already there who serve alongside 32,000 other NATO-led and coalition troops — the highest number since the U.S.-led invasion that ousted the Taliban from power in 2001.

Obama has said Afghanistan is one of his top priorities, but his incoming team have not yet disclosed a concrete plan.

Eide, the Norwegian diplomat who has been heading the U.N. mission in Afghanistan for the last nine months, warned against any major change in direction.

"Our problem is not that we need a new strategy. ... What happens very often is that we agree on something, we do not implement it and we say something must therefore be wrong with the strategy," Eide said. "That is not the case. The problem is in the implementation."


Huh. So we're sending troops to double our troop strength in Afghanistan before we formulate a strategy for them. Could that be called a "rush" to war? Oh, and what's the "exit strategy" that so many so-called military geniuses demand we must have before any commitment to force? And as a bonus, the UN doesn't want us to change our strategy.

This will be ugly. Some of President Obama's supporters will argue that this is all perfectly legitimate despite parallels since their man is in charge, and not Bush. Others further to the left will argue that the war in Afghanistan is as bad as the Iraq War because of these similar charges.

Discuss amongst yourselves.

Hope and Change With Chinese Characters

The Chinese have their own version of hope and change for 2009:

China made a rare appeal for cooperation between its normally secretive military and Washington on Tuesday but said U.S. arms sales to Taiwan remain a "serious harm to Sino-U.S. relations."

The statements came as China issued a major policy paper on national defense that said blocking formal Taiwanese independence remains the chief concern for one of the world's fastest-growing armed forces.

A Chinese military spokesman presenting the paper made an apparent reference to Taiwan as one of the "obstacles" the Pentagon should remove for better relations with China.


They hope we'll abandon Taiwan. Indeed, they make a mildly worded threat to us that we must abandon them. And the mainland Chinese communists hope to change Taiwan to a de facto Chinese province.

So even as Taiwan's Ma proposes to reduce their defenses in the face of a "less threatening" China, Peking still plans to retain the military capability to block formal Taiwanese independence. That's the PLA's "chief concern."

Which of course answers my question of why China would care if Taiwan retains the ability to defend itself if China truly is willing to wait for the Taiwanese to voluntarily join China as a single country in fact as well as law.

China has no intention of waiting until the Taiwanese want to join China--for the Chinese surely know that as time passes, that result is less and less likely.

So China wages a charm offensive to disarm and lull Taiwan in order to make Taiwan more vulnerable to a Chinese assault. When near, appear far, eh?

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

The Statistics of Victory!

Hamas uncurled from their three-week fetal position to celebrate their great victory over the Jews:


Thousands of Hamas supporters thronged a square outside the remains of the parliament building in Gaza City, which was heavily damaged in an Israeli airstrike at the outset of the war. Two men hoisted a sign in carefully scripted Hebrew reading, "The resistance will be victorious, Israel has been defeated."


How do they know they won? Add it up, simpletons!

Israel and Hamas both ceased fire on Sunday, after an offensive that claimed the lives of some 1,300 Palestinians, according to Gaza health officials, and 13 Israelis ...

The first estimates by independent surveyors said Gaza lost nearly $2 billion in assets, including 4,100 homes, about 1,500 factories and workshops, 20 mosques, 31 security compounds, and 10 water or sewage lines.


Wow. It's like General George S. Patton himself was reborn in Gaza City.

I think Israel will regret ending the war so abruptly and pulling out. Israel should have sifted the strip to complete the destruction a little more thoroughly.

Still, deterrence and fear have been restored a good deal among Israel's enemies after the weakening it endured after the poorly fought 2006 Hezbollah War.

UPDATE: Strategypage writes that the damage estimates being made are too high:

Hamas claimed that Israeli bombs and troops did $1.9 billion worth of damage. It was probably closer to a few hundred million dollars. There were only about a thousand smart bombs used, and many of these were small ones (like the new U.S. 250 pound SDB, which Israel recently received). Hamas claimed that 5,000 homes were destroyed (and 20,000 damaged), along with 16 government buildings and 20 mosques. There are about 147,000 buildings in Gaza.


Hamas failed in their most basic reason for existence--killing Jews--and everyone knows the extent of their failure. Indeed, Hamas is reduced to portraying themselves as bigger victims. Which may play well in Europe and Berkeley, but what about the Moslem "street?"

How will Hamas recover their self-respect--such as it is?

And who are those "independent" surveyors that AP relied on?

Servile, Slavish, Self-interested

Newly inaugurated President Obama reached back to George Washington's victory at the Battle of Trenton on December 26, 1776 and Thomas Paine's The American Crisis to evoke courage in the face of despair.

I like to think I foreshadowed his speech with this post. I hope his diplomatic corps takes my advice.

I'd also like to point out that while President Obama used Paine's words to inspire work in the face of financial difficulty, Paine was speaking of dark days in actual war.

And his speech has parts that Obama did not highlight that refer to the Tories who opposed the war against Britain and tried to undermine our defenses. Our modern-day Tories, some of whom in pink sat right up front today, will try their hardest to defeat our war effort no matter where we fight. And no matter who leads that fight.

Some of our folks are downright immune to the soothing balms of hope and change. Indeed, they seem to actually be on the other side.

Neighborhood Profiling

Apparently, our Canadian neighbors profile for guys in your neighborhood. And keep them out of their country.

Who knew?

The Road Less Traveled

Well, we have a bit of an alternative line of supply to Afghansitan, now:

Currently, most supplies for U.S. and NATO troops must first pass through northern Pakistan via the Arabian Sea port of Karachi, a treacherous route sometimes closed due to attacks by Islamist militants.

Opening up supply lines in the north is seen as especially important now because the United States is expected to nearly double its number of troops in Afghanistan to 60,000 over the coming year to battle a growing Taliban insurgency.

"It is very important as we increase the effort in Afghanistan that we have multiple routes that go into the country," U.S. Gen. David Petraeus, who oversees the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, told reporters in Pakistan.

Petraeus said he had reached transit deals with Russia and several other Central Asian states on a recent tour of the region. He gave few details, but NATO and U.S. officials have often said they were close to inking agreements with those countries to open up supply lines.


I'm honestly not very satisfied with our alternative routes, but this is better than nothing when we're about to double our troop strength in Afghanistan.

When Everyone Wants Deterrence

I know a lot of people think we can just live with Iran's nuclear arsenal when it is built. I don't think we can risk having sane minds controlling mullah nukes, but if I'm wrong about Iran, what if a lot of people agree with that thought? Saudi Arabia may be creating a nuclear arsenal and others in the region who would be unhappy to be under the gun of a nuclear Iran may not be far behind the Saudis:

Iran's nuclear ambitions seem to have triggered a regional nuclear arms race. The neighbors started their own nuclear programs within months of Iran's decision to start enriching uranium. In the 11 months following Iran's decision to develop nuclear energy in 2006, 13 countries across the Middle East drew up new plans, or revived discarded ones, for building nuclear power projects.


A lot of bad things can happen if Iran gets nuclear weapons. And not all of them directly involve Iran having a nutjob government. Have a nice day.

Good Luck

I wish President Obama, my president for the next four years, the best of luck. I want him to be a success, as I wrote after the election. I have not changed my mind. Indeed, on Iraq and security, President-elect Obama has made decisions that make me feel better for his tenure in office at least as far as Iraq goes. I'll take that as a vast improvement over what I feared.

I know I've been mocking hope and change a lot recently. Not that it doesn't deserve it, but understand that I mock the rubes in the press and public who chant it so fervently as if it means something. Surely even Obama is embarrassed to be replacing Elvis in the merchandising arena. I do not mock President Obama, who I want to be a successful president.

Yes, I shall miss President Bush who I greatly respect, but his time is past. I hope history will do a better job of judging his presidency on his accomplishments in defending us than the idiot-savantes who judge him poorly now. He deserves far better than that for the courage he displayed in defending us despite the shrill harping of Leftist critics who had no idea of the responsibilities that Bush bore on his shoulders. We have been lucky to have him lead us the last eight years.

So govern well, President Obama. You are a wartime president with responsibilities that even now you are only just beginning to appreciate. Right now you may even think you have it made since the press has allowed you a full-blown celebration of an inauguration (expenses be damned, we're happy!) when the press demanded sack cloth and ashes in penance from the Bush victory parties in 2001 and 2005. But you will find that your responsibilities extend beyond keeping the editorial offices of the major papers and television news outfits stupified on hope and change rhetoric that sends thrills up their legs.

And for God's sake, stay healthy, Mr. President. Joe Biden is next in line to succeed you should anything bad happen. No American wants that.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Lethality

Despite the boasts of Hamas, Israel showed that they did their homework prior to attacking Hamas in the Gaza Strip:

Israel wrapped up its three-week offensive over the weekend, leaving behind widespread devastation and a death toll of more than 1,250 Palestinians, according to Gaza medical officials. In contrast, Israel suffered just nine combat deaths, five of them from "friendly fire."


So let's be clear, in order of lethality, we have:

1. Israeli troops versus Hamas.

2. Israeli troops versus other Israeli troops.

3. Hamas versus Israeli troops.

Hamas was far more effective in getting Palestinians killed by using them as human shields during the 3-week war.

Feel the Love?

I can't believe that Taiwan is reacting to China's verbal charm offensive without waiting for actual military stand downs across the Taiwan Strait:

Taiwan is considering cutting its troop strength by as much as a third as relations with China improve, reducing the spectre of war between the two political rivals, sources and media said on Monday.

The Ministry of National Defence is studying a plan to slash the island's 275,000 troops over the next four years, with an exact number yet to be decided, ministry spokeswoman Lisa Chih said. Local media said troops could be cut to about 180,000.

"Relations with China will definitely factor into our plans," Chih said.


I'm seriously stunned that Taiwan would let down their guard based on nice words from Peking.

If China is truly committed to letting Taiwan decide on their own to join China at some point in the future, why would China care if Taiwan is capable of holding off a Chinese assault?

If This Be Incompetence ...

I know it is an article of faith that the Bush presidency has been a global fiasco that has turned the world against us, but like much of what the reality-based community believes about foreign policy and military affairs, it is a fantasy world they inhabit on this question.

Let's look at accomplishments of the George W. Bush era that have made us safer, in no particular order:

He has protected our homeland since 9/11. Few would have predicted this on the morning of 9/12/01.

No Arab states have fallen to a "street"-driven Islamist uprising.

An Indian-American alliance is blossoming.

Economic aid based on reforms will build up Africa to reduce the threat of collapsed states.

Massive help on HIV/AIDS is making a real difference in Africa.

AFRICOM will allow us to build on strengthening African states and improving their governance and economies, blunting Chinese ambitions in the process.

South Korea has gone from being a consumer of security to helping us, sending forces to Iraq for much of the war and allowing us to remove forces from the DMZ facing North Korea.

Japan has strengthened its defense ties with America, helping in both the Pacific as well as in Iraq, the Afghan campaign, and Cambodia, with military forces.

Arab states have rallied agsinst the Iranian threat, including the Hamas and Hezbollah threats bolstered by Iran, notwithstanding our failure to solve the Palestinian question first.

Al Qaeda and terror tactics have been largely discredited in the Moslem world as the face of terror has been exposed to the Moslem world.

He flipped Libya, ending its drive for WMD and support for terror.

He flipped Pakistan, turning it from a proliferator of nuclear technology and Islamist ideology to at least a very imperfect ally in the war against Islam0fascist terror.

He defeated Saddam's Baathist regime, ending that ongoing human rights violation and stopping its drive for WMD.

He defeated the Taliban regime in Afghanistan, ending its human rights violations and ending its role as a sanctuary for al Qaeda.

He has stood with Iraqis in the face of Syrian and Iranian efforts to incite civil war through their al Qaeda and Sadrist allies and helped start Iraq on the path to rule of law and democracy.

He has helped Afghanistan begin to build a more responsive state that can improve the lives of ordinary Afghans.

He has restored Jordan as a more reliable American ally after Jordan was an ally of Saddam during the 1990s.

He prodded Saudi Arabia to fight jihadis within the kingdom rather than turn a blind eye to their recruiting efforts.

He expanded NATO east into former Soviet-controlled territory, reducing the vacuum between the West and Russia that could spark conflict, and expanding the West.

He has pushed national missile defense and theater missile defense programs to the point where we now have defensive options against a nuclear attack. This could also give us a shield behind which we can strike Iran's nuclear infrastructure when Iran openly goes nuclear.

We have stronger defense cooperation with Australia.

We've largely defeated the communist and drug-dealing insurgents and criminals in Colombia.

We succeeded in ejecting Syrian military units from Lebanon.

We have closer ties with Brazil.

We have provided significant aid to Mexico which may prove to the crucial factor in preventing our neighbor from dissolving into drug gang-chaos if the government there should falter in its efforts to fight the cartels.

We have worked with scores of countries in an effort to shut down the trade in WMD components or material.

We have increased intelligence cooperation with nations around the world to fight Islamist terrorists.

We have wound down our involvement in the Balkans without destabilizing the region.

We helped the Philippines break al Qaeda terror groups in that country.

We have contained and weakened North Korea.

We've agreed with Russia to reduce our nuclear arsenals.

We've modernized our ground forces while fighting two ground wars and a global war on terror without breaking our military.

We've waged a covert and financial struggle to impede Iran's nuclear ambitions.

And of course, the global temperature has not increased one bit under George W. Bush despite the frantic so-called consensus of this "planet-destroying" president.

Really, this is a pretty good record for a "failed" president. I hope President Obama does as much good for us.

UPDATE: And Bush's accomplishments were done with quite an anchor pulling him down. At its root, our Left and the media never forgave Bush for fighting--and then winning--in Iraq when they concluded we had to lose. May our new president not face such an obstacle to fighting the Long War.