Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Memo to Iraq

I'm sure we made sure that the Iraqi government understands that we really expect this election process to run according to the law:

The US ambassador to Iraq voiced confidence Tuesday that Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki would abide by the law despite his mounting criticism of what he alleges is election fraud.

Our confidence and 95,000 troops still in the country will do wonders, I'd say, to help this rule of law thing along. It takes time and experience to get used to losing peacefully.

I'm a bit worried that Allawi's party could have six winners disqualified and drop to second place. I hope this simply means that , if the challenges are upheld, Allaqi's party has to replace them and not that Maliki's party gets to take the lead as a result.

For hotly contested elections, even rule of law can leave hard feelings. Just ask some Americans who still believe Bush stole the elections of 2000 and 2004.

I Guess You Can't Impose Democracy By Force

Many on the left--and some on the right--have claimed Iraqis just aren't ready for democracy. We can't impose democracy by force, they argue.

I guess these critics are right.

We tried to impose democracy on Americans by force back in the 18th century, but for some today, like Friedman and Meyerson, it just hasn't taken root.

Of course, perhaps it isn't a univeral rule. Iraqis seem to be embracing democracy, so maybe we just have to revise who is ready and who isn't.

Neptune's Wrath

Really?

A Western military official says the United States has test-fired a submarine-launched ballistic missile capable of carrying nuclear warheads during a joint military exercise with Saudi Arabia.

Launching a Trident missile in an exercise with the Saudis doesn't make a whole lot of sense to me.

Now, if it was one of these, now we're talking a lot of sense given the nuclear situation in Iran:

The CIA has concluded that Iran could build a nuclear weapon now, if they had enough highly enriched uranium to power it.

It's not like the North Koreans would sell anything like that to Tehran, eh?

Have a lovely day.

We're All in the Militia

Why is the Midwest a hotbed of militia activity?

I won't speak for the rest of the region, but at least in Michigan, most of us are in the militia--even our womenfolk. And even in Ann Arbor.  That's the law. Although I imagine this will come as something of a surprise to the staff of the organic bakery.

I've spent my entire adult life in either the organized or unorganized militia.

So Canada had best watch out if they try a repeat of 1812 and invade Michigan again! Don't go thinking you get to march up I-96 and grab our capital just because our governor was born in Canada.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas

It is clear that the media hates the Tea Party movement.

When you consider that the media never treated the anti-Iraq War movement with the same venom or even skepticism, you have to wonder why people who oppose excessive taxing and federal spending are feared and loathed by the media more than the rabble that turns out to protest our troops in the field.

Seriously, who are the loons in these two movements?

I just don't understand why so many on the left side of the aisle think the press is not tilted decisively to the left.

UPDATE: Now we're talking "inciting violence" in protests. Funny how that wasn't a crisis of society. Not for our reporting class, anyway. I wonder why? Indeed, I seem to recall a lot of claims that it was downright patriotic to do all that stuff.

UPDATE: I guess guilt by association is ok now, too. So about those Ayers and Wright chaps ...

UPDATE: More memories from the age of patriotic "dissent." And a story from the MSM where the reporter actually remembers those days of protest from the height of the war in Iraq. Amazingly (well, not really amazing), however, the reporter apparently recalls the dissenters with sympathy:

Five years ago, though, it was liberals who were on the defensive. Many liberals said conservatives were trying to cast them as "unpatriotic" simply because they didn't fall into lockstep with President Bush's post-9/11 antiterror policies.

No. I never complained about lack of lockstep. Nor did conservatives who backed the war. Plenty of those conservatives had complaints about the war effort. Neither they nor I were "in lockstep" with Bush. The complaint was that protesters often seemed to side with the enemy. "Dissent" was an effort to lose--not to change policies to win.

Why didn't the article emphasize what the practitioners of patriotic dissent back then actually did and said? Why focus on how the protesters of each age felt? If the Tea Parties start looking like those anti-war hippie/hate-fests, let me know. Otherwise, go whine to someone who cares.

The Dismal Science

China has had a good thirty year run or so, but their "miracle" may be about to end. The miracle relies far more on our post-war trade policies, based on Bretton Woods, than on any reasonably enlightened despot management skills residing in Peking:

Since its economic opening in 1978, China has taken advantage of a remarkably friendly economic and political environment. In the 1980s, Washington didn’t obsess overmuch about China, given its focus on the “Evil Empire.” In the 1990s, it was easy for China to pass inconspicuously in global markets, as China was still a relatively small player. Moreover, with all the commodities from the former Soviet Union hitting the global market, prices for everything from oil to copper neared historic lows. No one seemed to fight against China’s booming demand for commodities or rising exports. The 2000s looked like they would be more turbulent, and early in the administration of George W. Bush the EP-3 incident landed the Chinese in Washington’s crosshairs, but then the Sept. 11 attacks happened and U.S. efforts were redirected toward the Islamic world.

Stratfor has an interesting take, concluding:

STRATFOR sees a race on, but it isn’t a race between the Chinese and the Americans or even China and the world. It’s a race to see what will smash China first, its own internal imbalances or the U.S. decision to take a more mercantilist approach to international trade.

I've had other reasons based on Soviet experience for not projecting Chinese past growth into the indefinite future, notwithstanding the global integration that sets China's experience apart from Moscow's path. Stratfor's analysis is another reason not to get your panties in a twist over the rise of China theme we've had lately. China can be a real threat in Asia, as Japan and Germany were "regional" threats in the 1940s (and even the Soviets during the Cold War didn't manage to be a global peer, though nukes evened the scales a great deal), but I doubt China will be a global peer competitor.

Don't write America off so quickly. I'll give the Obama administration credit if they throttle back the Chinese economic engine that has relied on their taking advantage of rules we set long ago that simply cannot apply to China anymore.

Don't Get Mad--Get Even

This is just stunning. The Obama administration really hasn't forgiven the Hondurans for refusing to surrender to that Chavez wannabee Zelaya's attempt to subvert the Honduran constitution and take over Honduras:

Four months after a presidential election, reports from Honduras suggest the Obama administration remains obsessed with repairing its foreign-policy image by regaining the upper hand. The display of raw colonialist hubris is so pronounced that locals now refer to U.S. ambassador Hugo Llorens as "the proconsul."

Washington's bullying is two-pronged. First is a maniacal determination to punish those involved in removing Mr. Zelaya. Second is an attempt to force Honduras to allow Mr. Zelaya, who now lives in the Dominican Republic, to return without facing any repercussions for the illegal actions that provoked his removal. Both goals are damaging the bilateral relationship, polarizing the nation and raising the risk of a resurgence of political violence.

The U.S., as represented by Mr. Llorens, has been at the center of the Zelaya crisis all along. People familiar with events leading up to Mr. Zelaya's arrest on June 28 say that had the U.S. ambassador not worked behind the scenes to block a congressional vote to remove the president a few days earlier, the dramatic deportation would never have happened.

The State Department denies this allegation. But numerous sources maintain that Mr. Llorens' interference allowed Mr. Zelaya to push ahead with an unconstitutional referendum. Fearing he would use violence—as he had before—to trample the rule of law, the Supreme Court took action. Mr. Zelaya was arrested, shipped off to San José, and removed from power by a vote of Congress the same day.

Honduras had defied Uncle Sam and the U.S., led by Mr. Llorens, decided that it had to be taught a lesson. It took out the brass knuckles and tried hard to unseat interim president Roberto Micheletti in the interest of restoring Mr. Zelaya to the office.

Honduras wouldn't budge. That's when Mr. Restrepo traveled to the capital with a U.S. delegation. The agreement reached included U.S. recognition of the November election. For a time it seemed things might return to normal.

But the Americans had scores to settle.

There's more.

If we had half as much determination to destroy our enemies, I'd have more confidence in our foreign policy. But no, we go after Honduras hammer and tongs. For in the age of smart diplomacy, true anger is reserved for our friends and allies.

Monday, March 29, 2010

The Lies People Tell

What is it with the anti-war side that continues to insist, against all evidence from the time (as I quote here), that President Bush lied about weapons of mass destruction (WMD) to get us into war with Iraq?

Here's another rebuttal to this tiresome line.

I'm still not convinced that there were no chemical weapons in Iraq in 2002. I still think we have not written the final chapter on this topic.

But there should be no doubt that had Saddam's regime survived, he would have made good on his bluff that he had chemical weapons by actually producing chemical weapons again.

The really funny thing about the "Bush lied" lie is that the WMD "lie" was almost universally believed by even war opponents--war opponents just didn't think it was worth it to go to war over Saddam's possession of WMD and thought the chaos of the post-war would lead to the loss of control of those WMD and unintentional proliferation to terrorist groups!

Is this the best stuff the so-called "reality-based community" can come up with on this topic? Yeah, pretty much. But they make up for it with stubborn refusal to adjust their charges to reality--even seven years after the invasion, when we have won and are drawing down our forces.

He Wants the Trains to Run On Time

What is it with the warmists' love of dictatorship? (tip to Mad Minerva)

Humans are too stupid to prevent climate change from radically impacting on our lives over the coming decades. This is the stark conclusion of James Lovelock, the globally respected environmental thinker and independent scientist who developed the Gaia theory. ...

One of the main obstructions to meaningful action is "modern democracy", he added. "Even the best democracies agree that when a major war approaches, democracy must be put on hold for the time being. I have a feeling that climate change may be an issue as severe as a war. It may be necessary to put democracy on hold for a while."

I won't even comment on the "Gaia theory" stuff. Yet he's still globally respected. Wonderful.

But what is that crap about putting democracy on hold during war? I'll just speak for America, but we've always maintained our democracy and never put it "on hold." Not during World War II. Not during the current War on Terror despite the lunatic ravings of lesser minds than the developer of Gaia theory. And during our own Civil War when the fate of the Union quite literally hung on the outcome of our 1864 presidential election, we did not suspend democracy. But perhaps I'm just a history denialist, too.

Face it, a lot of warmists just like the idea of ordering people about. And if their excuse is saving the freaking planet, then that reason will work as well as any other that fascists, communists, and tin-pot dictators have peddled in history.

Barbarians

My sympathies go out to the Russian people:

Terror returned to the heart of Russia, with two deadly suicide bombings on the Moscow subway at rush hour, including an attack at the station beneath the headquarters of the secret police.

At least 38 people were killed and more than 60 wounded in Monday morning's blasts, the first such attacks in Moscow in six years.

I often get the impression that the Russian leaders think that jihadi thinking is useful because we are the primary combatant in fighting the jihadis.
 
Of course, for those who like to say we provoke jihadi anger by "occupying" Moslem people in Iraq, Moscow's problems with Chechens who the Russians actually do occupy is a big contrast to our assistance to a free people defending themselves from Sunni jihadis these days.
 
But the Russian people still deserve our sympathy when they are hit in such a barbaric manner.

Learning to Lose

More good news from the Iraqi election:

Several prominent Iraqi politicians — long considered untouchable in the political arena — have failed to make it into parliament following the country's March 7 elections.

It is not enough to teach them to elect good men. We must teach them to lose gracefully. Elections are not just a quieter tool to ensure your tribe wins.

You can lose, you will survive losing, and you can try again the next election. So far, some politicians have learned that you really can lose.

Still Speculating

South Koreans think it is possible that a North Korean mine--even if it is one left over from the Korean War--sank their ship, according to the South Korean defense minister:

"North Korea may have intentionally floated underwater mines to inflict damage on us," he said.

A mine placed by North Korea during the 1950-53 Korean War may also have struck the ship, he said.

Or it could have been an accident. I've speculated that it could have been a mine or accident--or a torpedo, even.

If North Korea was trying to make a point, they've been very quiet since the incident.

Or the message might just be meant for their own leadership to show that North Korea will strike if necessary.

Or the North Koreans just wanted to kill.

Or, as is quite possible, it is all just an ill-timed accident. Examining the hull should provide the clues, I dare say.

Do the Right Thing

This is ridiculous:

About 20,000 people sign up for food stamps every day, and college students across the country are the newest demographic being encouraged to enlist. ...

Adam Sylvain, a sophomore at Virginia’s George Mason University, recounted a recent conversation with friends in his dorm room. “My roommate told me he applied for food stamps, and they told him he qualified for $200 a month in benefits,” Sylvain said. “He’s here on scholarship and he saves over $5,000 each summer in cash.”

“A few of our other friends who were in the room also said if there were able to, they would get food stamps … They think that if they’re eligible it’s the government’s fault, so they might as well,” Sylvain said.

College students are getting food stamps? Are you kidding me? The poor and those temporarily without a job can legitimately take this benefit as far as I'm concerned.

But traditional college students? No way. That is simply wrong. And it is depressing that they don't see it.

Back in college, I had a friend who applied for and got food stamps. I was shocked. It never occurred to me to apply for welfare. Was I poor? Absolutely. But I worked part-time jobs, usually at least 20 hours per week (except for one term when I wanted to see what kind of grades I could get without working and so lived on savings and financial aid only--all "As", I should add).

I bought cheap beer. I had no car. I don't think I bought a new pair of socks for my entire undergrad career. What I started with, minus losses, had to get me through all of college. I mostly bought used albums (you know, the big round vinyl things that once held music). Mac and cheese--without the luxury of using milk to mix with the powdered "cheese" was a staple. I onced used my last $5.00 to last the week until my next pay check in order to buy a bag of potatoes and a bottle of ketchup, which became my food for that week. When I worked in the dorm cafeterias, I'd eat food on the side, though it was verboten to do so.

But take food assistance? You got by--you didn't look for ways to skate by. When I was one of the lucky able to attend a leading university who could hope for a better future than those who went to work right out of high school? How is simply being broke under those conditions justification for taking welfare based on the tax dollars of hard working people? It didn't matter that I'd qualify under the rules the government sets. I was lucky---not down on my luck.

The attitude highlighted in the article will burn down our social contract. Our society requires us to do what is right, and not simply say that what is allowed is also right.

Our colleges aren't teaching that, now are they?

Sunday, March 28, 2010

We're All Jihadis, Now?

I know that the anti-war side likes to say that George W. Bush forfeited world sympathy after 9/11 and just aided al Qaeda recruiting by our actions, but the fact is that our counter-attack made jihadi recruiting far more difficult:

The battle in Iraq, waged by thousands of al Qaeda and local Sunni Arab Islamic radicals, changed Arab attitudes towards Islamic radicals. As a result of the terrorists killing over 50,000 Iraqis, al Qaeda popularity, which peaked after September 11, 2001, plummeted. This not only brings in a flood of tips on suspected Islamic terrorists, but sometimes vigilante action as well. Recently, in Afghanistan, a suicide bomber was spotted, on his way to a target. Afghan civilians promptly attacked with stones and knives, killing the suicide bomber before he could detonate his explosive vest.

Al Qaeda long depended on popular support to protect their operations, and provide recruits and other contributions. No more. Al Qaeda has to assume that the Moslems they live among are more likely to be hostile, than supportive.

Yes, for a while the jihadis got recruits to flock to Iraq (but remember that the jihadis managed to get recruits to flock to Afghanistan prior to 9/11 without Bush or the Iraq War to aid recruiting--the battlefield was a flexible and shifting place for those who thought Allah would guide them to victory), but in the end the jihadi terrorism there and elsewhere that targetted Moslems (and the jihadis still think the Saudi government is "secular"!) just made them unpopular with the Moslem street.

The Great Fight North

Canada's military may be small, but their troops are among the best in a fight.

Strategypage has a post on the Canadian military at war and why they have a good reputation.

I'm glad to have such troops at our side. I hope Canada doesn't withdraw from the fight as so many others have over the years.

UPDATE: Well, they're good fighters as long as they are in the fight. Canada's foreign minister confirms their exit:

“In 2011, we’re out,” Cannon said during the daily question period. “Canada’s military mission will end in 2011 and we will continue to have a development and diplomatic relationship with Afghanistan through the Canadian Embassy in Kabul,” he added at a Commons committee hearing later.

Pity. I'll not complaint when a willing ally calls it quits. I'll just thank them for fighting with us as long as they did. Canada will be missed on the ramparts. We'll have to pick up the slack.

But we'll fight together again, I think it is safe to conclude. Canada may be out, but our enemies continue to wage war against all of us.

UPDATE: At least Canadian imperialism will be beaten in 2011. You just can't make this stuff up. When I think of our campus faculty loons, I can at least contemplate the thought that it could be worse. Although I'm not sure that I should be comforted by that thought.

Visiting Our Major War Theater

News is that President Obama has arrived in Kabul.

Good for him. That's our primary war theater and he is the commander in chief. It will surely help morale that the president has taken this level of interest in seeing what is going on.

Such visits to a war zone should be rare, of course. The president's life should not be risked lightly--and that's even apart from the consideration of the next two in the line of succession.

Stay safe out there, Mr. President. And thanks.

UPDATE: Details:

The trip, its secrecy forced by security concerns, was an extraordinary capstone to a momentous week in Obama's presidency. He achieved the most ambitious domestic policy initiative in decades with a historic health care overhaul and scored first major foreign policy achievement with a significant new arms control treaty with Russia.

Obama landed in Afghanistan for a stay of just a few hours, all in darkness, after an overnight flight from Washington. He flew by helicopter from Bagram Air Field to the capital, where Karzai greeted him at the palace. It was Obama's second stop in a war zone as commander in chief, coming about a year after a similarly secretive trip to Iraq.

Battling corruption was a big part of the talks.
 
And I assume the nutroots and press won't slam the state of the war effort by mocking the fact that the president stayed only a few hours on the ground in Kabul, arriving and leaving in the dark.

What Else is In It?

I have no doubt that there are some good things in the new health care act.

Indeed, supporters have been running through the talking points on TV ever since the act was passed.

Running through the list of things good in the act (for example, in this older talking points list) usually takes about 15 or 20 seconds talking fast.

Even if each of those nine good things (while at least admitting, can't we, that they will cost money to achieve?) needs ten pages of statutory language to achieve, what's in the other 816 pages of the act that nobody seems to be boasting about?

We're paying an awful lot for a fairly small list of nice things. But I'm sure it will all work out just swell. Well, our leaders are sure, in any rate.

The Coulter Affair

I've had several updates on the Coulter Affair post.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

How to Make Friends

The Obama administration is on a path to make friends among our enemies and foes; while assuming that we can stiff friends without consequences.

Now we see what we need to do to make an enemy think about being our friend:

Cuban revolutionary leader Fidel Castro on Thursday declared passage of American health care reform "a miracle" and a major victory for Obama's presidency, but couldn't help chide the United States for taking so long to enact what communist Cuba achieved decades ago.

Not that this is enough, of course. Castro would like to see more:
 
But the Cuban leader also used the lengthy piece to criticize the American president for his lack of leadership on climate change and immigration reform, and for his decision to send more troops to Afghanistan, among many other things.

Those are just the ones that come to mind. I'm sure the wish list is longer.
 
Not that we should have much hope that communist Cuba could become a friend:
 
In Thursday's essay, Castro called Obama a "fanatic believer in capitalist imperialism" but also praised him as "unquestionably intelligent."

Wow! I wish.

Castro is the nutball, no doubt. So don't take his praise of our actions too seriously.

Do the Math

American casualties are up in Afghanistan:

The number of U.S. troops killed in Afghanistan has roughly doubled in the first three months of 2010 compared to the same period last year as Washington has added tens of thousands of additional soldiers to reverse the Taliban's momentum.

Those deaths have been accompanied by a dramatic spike in the number of wounded, with injuries more than tripling in the first two months of the year and trending in the same direction based on the latest available data for March.

U.S. officials have warned that casualties are likely to rise even further as the Pentagon completes its deployment of 30,000 additional troops to Afghanistan and sets its sights on the Taliban's home base of Kandahar province, where a major operation is expected in the coming months.

U.S. officials are quite correct. So while this story is certainly news, it is no reason to go into panic mode.
 
Indeed, the increased casualties are completely predictable.

Whereabouts Now Known

I remember this loss. I'm glad he's back:

The Department of Defense announced today an Army civilian employee, supporting Operation Iraqi Freedom, was Returned to Military Control (RMC) on March 25.

Issa T. Salomi, 60, of El Cajon, Calif., became unaccounted for on Jan. 23, 2010, and subsequently declared Excused Absence Whereabouts Unknown (EAWUN). He was believed to have been kidnapped in Baghdad, where he was assigned to U.S. Forces-Iraq. Salomi’s permanent duty station is Fort Leavenworth, Kan.

The circumstances remain under investigation.

So where was he? And why?

UPDATE: Ah, Asaib Ahl al-Haq, a Shia extremist group, had held him for the last 14 months. The group claims that they got 4 prisoners released in exchange. The Iraqi government denies that, but the group is one of many that the Iraqi government is trying to negotiate with to stop their activities.

Salomi is coming back home to America. Welcome back.

God Is Not Willing It

I know George W. Bush and the war in Iraq was supposed to have made al Qaeda recruiting easier. That's what every proper anti-war type says.

But while jihadists did flock to Iraq hoping to win one for the caliphate, getting their asses kicked there (and in Afghanistan) has not led to much action in the Arab Street for overthrowing Arab governments and forming a jihadi army to sweep the West out of the Middle East.

Al Qaeda is weaker, and reduced to begging Moslems in the West to take up arms against us:

It has come a long way from the early days of as Sahab, when bin Laden and other al Qaeda leaders issued defiant threats of launching a follow-on attack against the United States that was going to be even more destructive than 9/11. The group is now asking individual Muslims to conduct lone-wolf terrorist attacks and to follow the examples of Hasan and Mir Amal Kansi, the Pakistani citizen who conducted a shooting at a stoplight outside CIA headquarters in January 1993 that killed two CIA employees.

Such attacks will be deadly on a local scale, but they won't be very likely to be on the scale of 9/11 as planned or even as executed.

And the jihadis should be careful what they wish for. When jihadis could not kill enough American troops in Iraq or Afghanistan, they settled for killing local civilians in those countries. Moslem reaction to jihadi bombings on themselves did not, strange as it may seem to the jihadis, did not include feeling honored to be involuntary martyrs to the cause. Moslems turned on the jihadis.

If local jihadis start killing our people in ones and twos or a score or more at a time in our places of work or entertainment, the American people will react with anger at the jihadis and not retreat from the world. It will renew our commitment to killing our jihadi enemies.

Jihadis might want to consider whether Allah is really on their side, after all. Hejust  doesn't seem to be that into the jihadis.

The Hour of Power

If I turn off my lights tonight from 8:30 to 9:30 (Even the efficient, green twisty lights? Well, if I had any, of course. I'm just asking for the sake of those who will anguish in darkness tonight despite their eco-friendly lighting choices.), will the warmists shut up the rest of the year?

I thought not.

Happy Human Achievement Hour!

The Army Looks Forward to R & R

The Army has been stressed for the last 6 years as it has been sent to fight our wars. So far, recruits have answered the call to an unprecedented degree. We didn't know if volunteers would fight a war for so long. Our people came through.

And the Army has adapted and won in campaigns to overthrow the Taliban, defeat Saddam's military, defeat the insurgencies and terrorism campaigns in Iraq, and held the line in Afghanistan.

With the Iraq drawdown after victory looking to relieve the stress more than escalation in Afghansitan adds to stress, the Army is going to get a break:

The Army's vice chief of staff said by 2011, Soldiers should find themselves spending twice as much time at home station as they do deployed.

"2011 is definitely a transition year for the U.S. Army -- that is a year we see ourselves getting back into balance," said Gen. Peter W. Chiarelli. "We define balance as 12 months deployed, 24 months or greater at home. That's the interim goal for us in 2011."

The general told the House Armed Forces Committee readiness subcommittee March 16 that it will likely be the larger part of the Army that will reach that goal next year, but Soldiers with some military occupational specialties, such as Soldiers in aviation, might reach it later.

The break will allow individual soldiers to recover from the stress of combat tours and break the accumulation of stress that leads to PTSD. A long break can literally reset the clock on this source of combat loss for many of our troops.
 
The break will also allow the Army to regain conventional warfare skills. We've been focused so exclusively on counter-insurgency that I don't think anybody other than our Army in South Korea could fight conventionally on short notice.
 
But that COIN focus paid off, and our troops emerged victorious, experienced, and deadly. When trained for conventional combat, they'll be the most potent conventional army on the planet.

A Night of Singing

Lamb took her place in the choir at school this last week:


And she had a brief speaking part, in the show that also explained the science of sound:



If I stepped back, I might find it amusing that I take such pride in such a simple little thing as Lamb taking part in a grade school concert.

But there is no chance I'll step back that far. That's my girl!

Ah Yes, I Remember It Well

I've long complained that the media has a leftward slant. It amazes me that it isn't obvious. It is especially aggravating when National Public Radio begs for contributions, boasting about how they report it straight and factually. On the war, their bias has been multiplied by their continuing ignorance of anything related to the military or military history. I'm sure they honestly believe that they just report the facts. But that's part of the problem, now isn't it?

Without digressing into a post on the health care act, the media was pretty bad in reporting on it.

But first, a song:



Consider that Congress and the president couldn't even get Republican Senator Olympia Snowe to vote with them. It would not have been difficult to craft a more centrist plan that wouldn't cost nearly as much yet address commonly accepted problems, and draw significant numbers of Republicans to support it. Instead, we have what we have. And it is a purely Democratic piece of legislation--which is all the fault of the Republicans, as the press releases cry.

The press went along with the defense of that line of defense by claiming that the Republicans are just reactionaries committed to saying "no"--and always have been:

PBS's Jim Lehrer on Tuesday wrongly accused Republicans of always being against major social legislation in this country including the Civil Rights Act, Social Security, and Medicare.

"[T]hrough history, recent history in particular, Republicans have opposed things like Social Security, Medicare, even civil rights legislation, but then, once they lost, they took some deep breaths and moved on, and then finally ended up embracing many of these major changes in -- in laws and in the way we do business here," the News Hour host amazingly said to his guest Sen. Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.).

It is not true, no matter how well a seasoned journalist like Lehrer remembers it. Read it all, as the saying goes. It even has voting numbers for those big pieces of legislation.

It is easy for the press to believe they are neutral and just reporting the facts--everyone they know is just like them, and so of course their views are the commonly accepted wisdom.

They just don't know what they don't know.

UPDATE: And they know who they sympathize with. It is unhinged to get angry at Santa Claus. Of course people get angry with evil people. Who wouldn't be mad?

I won't defend over-the-top Tea Partier actions that stem from that anger, but where was the "crisis of society" coverage during other campaigns of anger at people and policies our press didn't align themselves with?

UPDATE: More evil people who naturally just piss normal people off enough to incite or carry out violence. It's almost like the reporting class has biases, or something!

Friday, March 26, 2010

Bridging the Strait

The Chinese air force and navy will keep major Taiwanese warship out of the strait, protecting a Chinese invasion flotilla from that threat.

While China's air force is gaining the edge over Taiwan's air force, the superiority is not so great that the Taiwanese won't be able to send aircraft against the invasion transports.

So China has a Plan B to protect the ships, deployed along their coast:

China now has eight battalions of S-300PMU2 anti-aircraft missile systems, on the coast opposite Taiwan. These missiles have a range of 200 kilometers, and are positioned to fire on Taiwanese fighters as soon as they begin to cross the 180 kilometer wide Taiwan straits.

Such missiles won't stop all attackers. And they won't affect Taiwan's ability to strike ships as they get closer to Taiwan with helicopters and aircraft.

But the SAMs do get the ships part way to Taiwan in relative safety and will reduce the damage they take when closer to Taiwan. it could be the difference between winning and losing a battle to make it ashore.

Those S-300s should be prime targets for Taiwanese cruise missiles.

Welcome This Challenge

This is not bad news, though for those who want a nice and quiet process that doesn't disturb our evening dinners (and withdrawal from Iraq), it may seem bad:

The next prime minister will lead a government that presumably will be in power when the U.S. completes its scheduled troop withdrawal from Iraq next year. There has been fear among some in the West that a U.S. withdrawal would effectively leave Iraq as an Iranian puppet.

Al-Maliki, the U.S. partner in Iraq for the past four years, announced in a nationally televised news conference that he would not accept the results, which gave his bloc 89 seats to Allawi's 91 in Iraq's 325-seat parliament.

Gesturing angrily, he said he would challenge the vote count through what he described as legal process. By law, he would have until Monday to register his complaints with the election commission.

After the complaints are addressed by the election commission, the results may be revised and then finally submitted to the country's Supreme Court, which must ratify them. The entire process could take weeks.

Al-Maliki and his supporters in his State of Law coalition had previously called for a re-count, saying there had been instances of vote rigging and fraud. But election officials had refused, and international observers have said the election was fair and credible.

The top U.N. official in Iraq, Ad Melkert, called on all sides to accept the results. That sentiment was echoed by U.S. Ambassador Christopher R. Hill and Gen. Ray Odierno, the top U.S. military official in Iraq, who praised what they described as a "historic electoral process," and said they support the finding of election observers who found no evidence of widespread or serious fraud.

Ayad Allawi has the pole position to try and form a coalition. While Maliki has been fine--proving himself in his Charge of the Knights operation in Basra to rout the Sadrists--it is wrong to pin out hopes on one leader. Voting and rule of law are our objectives.

So, while Iraq has shown they can hold elections, they always needed to pass the big test of peacefully transferring power from a losing incumbent to a winning challenger. Better to have that test now while we have nearly 100,000 troops in the country to remind everyone to play nice.

Maliki has at least indicated that his "rejection" of the results will take place through legal challenges. That's fine. As long as that is all he contemplates.

And for those convinced that we delivered Iraq to the Iranians, will they finally settle down and stop that nonsense?

Remember the Maine?

When I read the first sparse story about a South Korean warship (1,500 tons and 104 crew) going down off the west coast of the Korean peninsula, my first thought was that the North Koreans hit the ship with a torpedo or perhaps a mine. After many surface clashes where the North Koreans came off decidedly second best, such a course made sense.

Well, the usual suspect certainly is in the minds of the South Koreans:

A South Korean naval ship was sinking on Friday after possibly being hit by a North Korean torpedo and several sailors were killed, South Korean media reported.

A South Korean warship later fired at an unidentified vessel toward the north, indicating a possible attack, and the South's presidential Blue House was holding an emergency security meeting, the Yonhap news agency said.

"The ship appears to have begun sinking after an explosion at the rear of the ship," Yonhap quoted the South Korean Navy saying in a statement. "We have been unable to find the exact cause of the incident as of this moment."

News since that story came out is that the ship sank. It is unclear how many sailors died. It could be an accident. Not everything bad that happens near North Korea is caused by North Korea. Ideally, the South Koreans can raise the ship and tow it to port to examine the impact.

If the North Koreans are responsible, it would be one heck of a provocation given that such an incident would not be an unexpected escalation but a deliberate ambush by the North Koreans.

I'll have to look at maps of the area. It may be that South Korea would want to retaliate--if North Korea is guilty of sinking the ship--by building up their military presence on the disputed islands out there that South Korea holds.

Or, South Korea should sink the next North Korean ship that puts to sea. Maybe, if North Korea denies responsibility, the South Koreans could quietly lay mines where North Korean ships like to play. And then insist that the mines must have been left over from a training exercise, or something.

Best to keep this an off-shore crisis where South Korea has a good advantage (nothwithstanding this sinking) than escalate on the DMZ where plenty of ROK civilians could die if the tit-for-tat goes too far.

Still, you have to wonder what else the North Koreans are willing to do if they are indeed guilty of this attack.

UPDATE: Stratfor emails:

A South Korean presidential spokesman said North Korea did not cause the sinking of the South Korean vessel Cho An.

As my title implied, I didn't want to jump to conclusions. although if North Korea does choose to challenge the South Koreans at sea, I'd expect a submarine ambush that achieves a result that looks just like this rather than a surface clash that the South Koreans are likely to win.

UPDATE: Forty-six sailors are missing. I don't hold out much hope for their souls at this point.

At a higher level, this apparent accident highlights the danger of North Korea's hostile rhetoric even when the Pillsbury Nuke Boy doesn't intend to attack South Korea:

Despite early fears of an attack, there was no immediate indication that North Korea — which lies within sight about 10 miles (17 kilometers) from Baengnyeong — was to blame, the Joint Chiefs said. Still, troops were maintaining "solid military readiness," Vice Defense Minister Jang Soo-man said.

Earlier, North Korea's military threatened "unpredictable strikes" against the U.S. and South Korea in anger over a report the two countries plan to prepare for possible instability in the totalitarian country.

The potential is clear:
 
  1. North Korea issues threats of destruction against South Korea.
  2. Something in South Korea shortly thereafter is destroyed in an accident.
  3. South Koreas assume North Korea is responsible, and partially mobilizes just in case.
  4. North Korea, knowing they didn't do the deed assume "war mongers and militarists" in Seoul are planning war on the pretext, and knowing that they are weaker than South Korea and so can't afford to let South Korea strike first, unleash their only military threat--they pound Seoul with thousands of artillery pieces poised north of the DMZ
  5. South Korea then invades North Korea to at least try to clear the area within range of Seoul of North Korean artillery pieces and attacks longer range missile sites deep in North Korea. 

For a long time, North Korea could make threats secure in the knowledge that South Korea couldn't do anything about those threats without American help. And America is far enough away not to take many of those threats too seriously--at least not seriously enought to react hastily. Our capital (and a quarter of our population) was never threatened.

But now South Korea has the military power relative to a rotting North Korea to do something about those North Korean threats. And North Korea keeps making the threats.

Now we're having fun, eh?

So Much For the Arab League

Iraqis got a reminder that we who shed blood at their side are their true friends:

Delegates say Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari has walked out of an Arab League ministerial meeting in Libya to protest against Moammar Gadhafi's declared support for Saddam Hussein loyalists.

Iraqis, at least those who run the show now, are just not the Arab League's sort of people. Of course, I shouldn't pick on the Arab League. Plenty in our State Department and think tanks have the same view.

Iraq needs a long-term defense treaty with America.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Trembling and Obeying?

I half seriously wondered if Australia's Internet censorship was influenced by China's policy.

Well, it is worse than I feared. I have to wonder whether a lot of Australia's policies are being affected by China's rising military and economic clout:

The hardest heads in the Australian system understand what the Hu business is all about. Beijing has sent a message to Australia: tremble and obey. ...

Of course it is remotely possible that Hu, like millions of others in China, paid or received a bribe, although there is no reason to think so. But Beijing's decision to prosecute him, and the ostentatiously contemptuous manner in which it has dealt with the Australian government, was taken to intimidate Australia. In this, Beijing seems to have succeeded.

Read the article to get the context of Stern Hu. But for my purposes, the point is that China is clearly looming over Australia, and as the self-professed middle kingdom, expects those near them--like Australia--to orbit nice and quiet like.

At some level, Australians recognize that they need to bulk up to resist that gravitational pull that we can see now. If Australia doesn't tremble, Australia will have no need to obey China.

The Shy One Speaks

I think Osama bin Laden has been sniffing cave fumes for a little too long:

Al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden threatened in a new audio recording released Thursday to kill any captured Americans if the U.S. executes the self-professed mastermind of the Sept.11 attacks or any other al-Qaida suspects.

The U.S. is still considering whether to put Khalid Sheik Mohammed and four of his fellow plotters on military tribunal for their role in the Sept. 11 attacks. The Obama administration is also looking into recommendations for civilian trials, and is expected to announce a decision soon.

In a brief 74-second audio tape aired on Al-Jazeera television, bin Laden said if the U.S. decides to execute any al-Qaida suspects in its custody — and explicitly mentioned Mohammed — his terror network would kill American captives.

The terror leader said such a decision "would mean the U.S. has issued a death sentence against whoever of you becomes a prisoner in our hands."

Is bin Laden seriously stating that only now is he willing to kill us?

It is humorous to see what angers the jihadis and "causes" them to kill us. Fighting back makes them hate us, now.

How long before this becomes a talking point of our Left?

Kill the jihadis. Kill them as fast as we can. Keep killing them until they can't recruit idiots fast enough to replace their losses.

Still Trust But Verify

The Obama administration will sign a strategic arms limitation treaty with Russia:

The new agreement to reduce long-range nuclear weapons would replace the 1991 Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty, which expired in December. An important feature of the new deal is that it includes a legal mechanism for verifying that each side complies — an element that was absent from a 2002 deal, known as the Moscow Treaty, that accelerated the weapons reductions laid out in the 1991 treaty.

The Moscow Treaty set limits on both sides' strategic nuclear warheads at between 1,700 and 2,200. The new deal, whose provisions have not been made public, is expected to lower that to about 1,500. It also would reduce the permissible number of strategic launchers — the missiles and bombs that deliver warheads to their targets.

Verification will be the key to getting Senate approval. I assume nobody thinks that judging Medvedev's or--God fobid--Putin's soul status is enough.

While I'm certainly on record as judging that, given our conventional military superiority, we'd be better off in a world with no nuclear weapons; in practice I don't think we can ever afford to give up our nukes since I don't trust many governments to live up to any deal to eliminate all their weapons--or the ability to assemble one in hours or days from non-weapon components.

Missile defense is our insurance policy against the risks of going lower than we will agree to with this agreement, but even missile defenses don't give me the confidence to go without a significant number of nuclear weapons.

But I do hope that our verification concerns are addressed in the treaty and not in a nebulous "annex" that we are working on still, and which Russia may or may not consider important as a practical matter.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

A Very Sensitive Issue, Indeed

I thought it would make sense for Russia to sell submarines to Taiwan.

But Russia doesn't seem like they're interested in that path:

Russia will continue to support China on the 'sensitive' issue of Taiwan, Prime Minister Vladimir Putin said Tuesday.

'Russia is very careful about (its) ties with China,' Putin said during a meeting in Moscow with Chinese Vice President Xi Jinping, who is expected to succeed Hu Jintao as president.

I still think it makes sense for Russia to sell submarines to Taiwan. Perhaps one day, if Taiwan can't find another supplier and Russia concludes that it would be better to tie down China at sea and can't count on America and Japan doing the job all on our own, Russia will change their mind.

Remember, it does Russia no good if China can quickly overwhelm Taiwan. Russia needs China pointed at Taiwan--but not moving in that direction. Russia needs China fixed in the southern direction--not victorious. Once Taiwan has fallen, China can afford to direct more defense resources inland, where Russia's vulnerable and resource-rich Far East dangles in front of a hungry China. So it is in Russia's interest to make sure that Taiwan does not fall to China.

With a shield on Taiwan, assuming China manages to take the island democracy, to hold off our fleet from approaching China's shores, will China want to run their supply lines at sea where America (and India, and anyone else along the long route for that matter) can cut them at will? Or will the Chinese seek to gain land lines of supply safely away from our dominant naval and air power?

Maize and Blue and ... Is It Hot in Here, or What?

Do I love or hate Jessica Alba's "technicolor" eyes?



What is that author complaining about? In my book, that's maize and blue. If I was just a tad more delusional I could convince myself she's sending secret messages to me.

To answer the question, "yowser."

My first installment of Dark Angel arrives in the mail from Netflix this week. I don't know how I missed that series the first time through.

Clearly, as the expression goes, I'll be in my bunk.

It's a Big Effing Deal

The Arctic region will be part of the defense discussions we will have with our Canadian ally:

The Honourable Peter MacKay, Canada’s Minister of National Defence, and Dr. Robert M. Gates, the United States Secretary of Defense, met today at the Pentagon to discuss ways to strengthen and expand U.S.-Canada continental and hemispheric strategic cooperation.

I'm still thinking Polar Command would be useful. The Arctic is important, after all, as our vice president might say.

Or, as an Illinois governor might say, it's an effing valuable place.

Search No Evil

Given this news, I retract my Gulagle remark. The "people's republic" is being taken out of a lot of things in China lately.

Good for Google. I hope this works out.

UPDATE: Crikey:

Internet giant Google led high-profile criticism of Australia's controversial plan to filter the Internet Tuesday, saying it went too far and could set a dangerous precedent.

What's up with the Australians now? Trying to avoid making China look bad?

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Confirming McChrystal's Policy

I know a number of war supporters are angry that we restrict our use of firepower in Afghanistan to an even greater degree than we did in Iraq. Many war supporters would rather have far more liberal rules of engagement that place innocent civilians at risk rather than risk our troops' lives.

But winning the hearts and minds of locals is the key to winning. While I wouldn't support such restrictive rules of engagement in a conventional campaign, it is absolutely necessary to win the war in Afghanistan.

Don't believe me? Let's look at how our enemies are doing with loose rules of engagement, liberally using roadside bombs (IEDs):

Last year, the Taliban employed 8,159 of these bombs, compared to 3,867 in 2008 and 2,677 in 2007. The peak year of use in Iraq was 2007, when 23,000 were employed. In both countries, most of the bombs are detected and destroyed before they could hurt anyone. In Iraq, the Sunni Arab terrorists (al Qaeda and Saddam loyalists) never fully accepted the fact that the bombs, by killing more Iraqis than foreign soldiers, turned the population against them. That was a major reason for the defeat of the Iraqi terrorists after 2007. The same pattern is playing out in Afghanistan, and the Islamic terrorists still can't come to accept the truth.

Our enemies are failing in the war by their narrow focus on killing as many Americans and other foreign troops as possible regardless of the price that civilians who get in the way pay.
The objective is to win the war. It is not to compile an impressive kill ratio that we can boast about long after we've retreated from a lost war. A lot of people admire the skills of the German army from World War II--but they lost the war anyway.

I'll take a victory over a gushing profile of our excellent soldiers in a lost cause written thirty years from now. Heck, the gushing will be all the better for the win.

Terms of Endearment

Say goodbye to the People's Liberation Army. And the PLA Navy and PLA Air Force, for that matter.

Not to worry. I haven't gone all loopy in a fantasy world. The Chinese have dropped the "people's liberation" from their military's names:

Without any fanfare, China has changed the names of its armed forces. Gone are the PLA (Peoples Liberation Army) prefix for the navy (PLAN) and air force (PLAAF). It's now just the Chinese Army, Chinese Navy and Chinese Air Force.

With an increasingly aware and restless public and your standard dictatorial government, it is best not to let the idea that liberating the people is something the military should think about.

Still Number One

As pundits here continue their man-crush on China's aging autocrats (notwithstanding their policies that are more brown than green), remember that America remains the number one manufacturing country in dollar value of manufacturing.

Manufacturing may be lower as a percentage of our economy than others, but not dramatically so. And if you are upset that fewer workers produce our goods, are you also upset that so few farmers produce our food?

American dominance is not guaranteed. We have to work at it. And even if we do work at it, our dominance still isn't guaranteed since other countries are working, too.

But we have a long way to go before we relinquish our pole position to China--or anyone else.

Monday, March 22, 2010

With All Due Respect

While I certainly respect Canadian insistence that they have freedom of speech in Canada, this letter to Ann Coulter seems to indicate that Canada does not, in fact, respect freedom of speech notwithstanding very impressive Charter citations. The figurative asterisk about that "right" gives the game away that freedom of speech is not so fundamental at all.

Wrote the university official to Ms. Coulter:

We have a great respect for freedom of expression in Canada, as well as on our campus, and view it as a fundamental freedom, as recognized by our Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. I would, however, like to inform you, or perhaps remind you, that our domestic laws, both provincial and federal, delineate freedom of expression (or “free speech”) in a manner that is somewhat different than the approach taken in the United States. I therefore encourage you to educate yourself, if need be, as to what is acceptable in Canada and to do so before your planned visit here. You will realize that Canadian law puts reasonable limits on the freedom of expression. For example, promoting hatred against any identifiable group would not only be considered inappropriate, but could in fact lead to criminal charges.

What is fundamentally clear is that the right of the most offensive and thin-skinned not to be offended is the fundamental "freedom" in Canada. Otherwise, the letter would have gone out to the Easily Offended communities of Canada that states that while Canada certainly has great respect for the feelings of their more--ah, "excitable" residents--as is evidenced by a number of fine statutes that urge politeness and respect, the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedom provides that freedom of expression is a fundamental freedom. So the easily offended who hear Ms. Coulter's words should get a pair, suck it up when their feelings are bruised, and fire up the word processor for some more of that freedom of expression so cherished in Canada--even if Ms. Coulter cries when she reads or hears their blistering rebuttal.

But that letter did not go out. As Mark Steyn writes, the letter that did get sent is "sad and embarrassing ". Canadians, in fact, have a fundamental right to freely express whatever the Hell the government says is reasonable. And the loudest and angriest (and bombiest) voices in Canada increasingly get to tell the government what that limit is. Sure, Ann Coulter can fight whatever the easily offended choose to dish out, but unlike the vast majority of Canadians who must knuckle under to the "reasonable limits" on their speech, she has the resources of time and money to make any prosecution or kangaroo court embarass the holders of the limits on free expression.

With all due respect to the Canadian government, the castrated freedom of expression their university lords celebrate  is no freedom at all. And yes, I use the expression in the sarcastic mode.

UPDATE: I'll not defend or endorse everything Ann Coulter states (or perhaps even most, but I really don't follow her to judge how much is agreeable versus disagreeable), but it is distressing that there is even a debate over whether she should be allowed to speak.

UPDATE: Hate mobs triumph over so-called hate speech--preemptively, of course, as Steyn writes:

Between them, the media, the law and the education system are actively shriveling Canada's liberties. It doesn't lead anywhere good.

So freedom in Canada dies a little bit more, at the hands of smug defenders of all that Canada now values. No point in taking chances that Coulter--or anyone else not approved by the mob and their enablers--wouldn't say something to hurt anybody's feelings. Best to keep impressionable Canadians easily swayed by hate speech into violence from hearing the speech in the first place.

Funny enough, the mob that  prevented Coulter from speaking demonstrated just that tendency, now didn't it?

UPDATE: Ms. Coulter responds. I'm sure the threats of violence and the actual mob that shut down her speech are the responsibility of Canadian tea partiers. I await the anguish of the media response.

UPDATE: A late update of hope. But first why I can't bring myself to be a fan of Ann Coulter even as I think she has a right to be heard:

Coulter is so relentlessly and deliberately abrasive that she almost chases support away. In her London, Ont., appearance this week, her harsh "take a camel" answer to a Muslim student was fingernails on a blackboard to our sensibilities. But then, I recall the Michael Moore images of kids kite-flying in Saddam's Iraq, which was a real shudder-inducing moment. Disneyfying the torture state that was Saddam's Iraq was the grander affront by far. Moore, playing to the easy line of George W. Bush as an idiot-Hitler, got feted at Cannes and won an Academy Award.

"Take a camel"? Is she serious? WTF? How does that help make her valid points? Why attack people who we've fought and died with side-by-side to fight jihadis? That type of talk pisses me off. And she doesn't need to do that. She says much that the Easily Offended Community doesn't like to hear, and pretty much anything will anger them. Why put off people--like me--with unneeded language? I have no idea if she even believes that stuff.

I wouldn't go see her. But I wouldn't riot to prevent her from speaking. Nor would I riot to stop the far more vile--because he adds dictator love to mere hateful speech--Michael Moore from speaking.

Anyway, here's the hope part:

Coulter's visit, finally, did have one permanent utility. It was another vivid illustration of how elastic and feeble, at least in certain quarters, the Canadian understanding of free speech has become. The idea, evidently held by certain of the protesters, that merely to call something "hate speech" licenses an attempt to halt that speech is depressing because it has become so common.

The talk of the university as a "safe space," meaning a place when people will neither hear nor confront speech or ideas with which they are not "comfortable," is politically correct cant of the highest order. It is close to a contradiction of the idea of a university. If Coulter's tempestuous visit teased a few of these considerations into the minds of those otherwise innocent of them, it was worth all the flurry and the fury.

Protecting the fragile little egos of the Lefties on Canadian campuses hasn't inculcated a sense of respect for others. Their "safe space" that has become a shield from thinking they don't like that leaves them free to devote 90% of their time on attack to shut down all speech that they don't agree with.

Lost in the Crowd

Al Qaeda may seek to strike at sea off of Yemen:

The U.S. Office of Naval Intelligence said on its website that ships in the Red Sea, the strategic Bab al-Mandab strait between Yemen and Djibouti, and the Gulf of Aden along Yemen's coast were at the greatest risk.

"Information suggests that al Qaeda remains interested in maritime attacks in the Bab al-Mandab Strait, Red Sea, and the Gulf of Aden along the coast of Yemen," the office said in a statement, citing an advisory by the U.S. Department of Transportation.

"Although it is unclear how they would proceed, it may be similar in nature to the attacks against the USS Cole in October 2000 and the M/V Limburg in October 2002 where a small to mid-size boat laden with explosives was detonated," it added.

Adding to our joy at this development is the ability of the terrorists to operate among the many pirates who sail the area.

There is no will to go ashore in Somalia to raze the pirate bases and put a little fear of God into the pirates, but if we'd at least up our recent slightly more aggressive stance to one of shooting pirates on sight, sea-going terrorists would be lonelier and less likely to get lost in the shuffle.

Piracy isn't just a matter of insurance rates. It is a matter of life and death.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Death to Picnickers!

Unable to take on Western (and increasingly, even Afghan army) forces directly, the enemy in Afghanistan resorts to suicide bombs that usually don't work as intended (to kill our guys) and often just kill innocent civilians.

The Taliban may be able to increase the number of incidents and casualties, but this doesn't mean they are winning. I wrote much the same about the war in Iraq. Our side's power increases more rapidly than they can mobilize their power, and the killing the enemy does manage to carry out--because it isn't on a grand enough scale to intimidate given our presence and effectiveness--just angers the civilians who have to decide who to support. Strategypage has an interesting overview of the fight.

The Taliban pulled off another atrocity by killing ten Afghans:

"It was a suicide bomber who detonated a motorcycle as an Afghan National Army (ANA) vehicle was passing by," Daud Ahmadi, spokesman for the Helmand provincial government, told AFP.

"The blast killed ten civilians and injured seven others," he said, adding that it took place around 1.45 pm (0915 GMT) in the Gereshk district of Helmand, a cauldron of Taliban insurgent activity.

The blast struck a bridge in the Bughra-pul area of Gereshk, on the main highway between capital Kabul and Herat, Afghanistan's second city, he said.

Beneath the bridge, crowds had gathered on the banks of a stream to mark Nowruz, the Zoroastrian new year which falls on the March 21 equinox.

And thus the "resurgent" Taliban continue to lose battles and hearts and minds.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Losers

Anti-war protesters are still upset that we won in Iraq. While they are too late to reverse our victory in Iraq, they hope to lose in Afghanistan as a consolation prize:

Protesters rallied at Lafayette Park across from the White House and then began marching through downtown seven years after the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq. Seven protesters, including activist Cindy Sheehan, were arrested after the rally. Stops on the march route include military contractor Halliburton, the Mortgage Bankers Association and The Washington Post offices.

The protest — which calls for the immediate withdrawal of troops sent to fight in Iraq and Afghanistan — drew a smaller crowd than the tens of thousands who marched in 2006 and 2007. But organizers said many more people have become disenchanted with President Barack Obama, who has pledged to withdraw troops from Iraq, because he ordered more troops into Afghanistan.

The usual commies are involved. I guess they have to stay in practice in case they have to defend the Iranian or North Korean regimes.
 
Oh, you doubt me?
 
"We want to see the troops out of Afghanistan and Iraq," said Corazon Esguerra with Act Now to Stop War and Racism or ANSWER, which organized the protest. "We want all the troops wherever they are to come back."

Former U.S. Attorney General Ramsey Clark spoke at the Washington rally, calling on the Justice Department to investigate the officials who launched the Iraq war.

Later, activist and former U.S. presidential contender Ralph Nader said there has been no real difference in American foreign policy since Obama's election.

No, no. Not Clark or Nader, as odious as they are. ANSWER, the hard line communist group that was behind the big protests during the active fighting, is what I'm talking about. I'm grateful that the reporters mentioned this connection. During the major fighting, the fingerprints of ANSWER were often scrubbed in the press accounts of "ordinary people" protesting the war.
 
But short of digging up Saddam or his two sons and propping them up (with lots of air freshener), I don't think the protesters will get their happy dream of surrendering to the Baathists.

UPDATE: A trip down memory lane (tip to Instapundit).

Friday, March 19, 2010

Peking is Confused

It seems like we will eventually get Taiwan the F-16s they would like:

David Shlapak, an analyst at the Rand Corp. think tank, said that the chances China could deliver a "knock-out blow" to Taiwan's air force at the start of a conflict have "increased substantially in recent years."

"China is assembling a military capable of providing the leadership in Beijing with credible options for the use of force against Taiwan, even in the face of US opposition," Shlapak told the panel.

China strongly opposes US arms sales to Taiwan, arguing that they run counter to the US recognition in 1979 of Beijing as China's sole government.

China continues to oppose our arms sales, arguing that our recognition of Peking as the seat of China's sole government means we have to let Taiwan be absorbed into China.

I've never gotten why anyone buys that line of reasoning. Just because we recognize the Peking government as the legitimate seat of government for China, why does that imply that we endorse whatever borders that China claims is part of China? Does this mean that we must accept Chinese claims on land in the South China Sea, India, Russia, and the Korean peninsula, as well as Taiwan?

Please. We have no obligation to accept every land claim of Peking's rulers even though we recognize them as the legitimate government of China.

With This Ring

Stratfor (in an email notice) writes that our focus in Afghanistan is along the ring road that very roughly runs the perimeter of the country:

[M]ilitary and civilian development efforts -- a key component of the U.S. strategy -- are being focused on some 80 districts, most of them located on or near Afghanistan's Ring Road.


Over a year ago, when I wrote about our coming surge, I guessed the ring road would figure prominently in our strategy:

These American brigades and our fighting allies will concentrate on securing the ring road in Afghanistan out to the border with Pakistan. This will enhance economic growth and serve as a buffer zone to cut off the Taliban inside Afghanistan (within the ring road) from reinforcements and supplies from Pakistan and, to a lesser extent, Iran.
Securing the ring road will allow economic activity to increase Afghan income that doesn't rely on simply receiving aid from the west or NGOs. This is a necessary component of beating the Talibant and preventing al Qaeda from gaining a sanctuary in Afghanistan.

And of course, this approach is greatly helped by denying the enemy sanctuary in Pakistan.

This war is very winnable. Don't be confused by enemy bombings designed to be seen by Western reporters and amplified into another "resurgent" Taliban story line.

Sick Call

I had to go get Lamb from school since she was feeling under the weather.

No temperature but she does have a bit of a rough cough going. Now she's munching on her packed lunch and some crackers, with water and juice, on the couch set up in "sick mode"--bed spread and pillow, and watching Cartoon Network. She'll be just fine, I suspect, though I'll check her temperature so often that you'd think I was a nuclear technician diligently checking core temperature so nothing REALLY BAD will happen on my watch.

Lucky I had the day off today. Lamb seemed ok when I took her to school this morning, but I have to admit now that I think about it, that I briefly wondered last night if she was coming down with something. Just some little signs but then Lamb seemed fine and in good spirits, so I didn't think much of it.

I'm glad I did my grocery shopping right after taking Lamb to school. I could have been out, and I rarely turn on my cell phone (unless I want to, you know, call someone--I don't feel obligated to be reachable 24/7).

We'll hang out until it is time to go get Mister.

Men Really Can't Win--Ever

If you ever doubted that men just can't catch a break, check out this story:

Dads are helping out with childrearing more and more these days. The result can be both a boon and a letdown for super-moms, whose self-competence can take a hit when paired with husbands who are savvy caregivers, new research finds.

The findings reveal the fallout as women have entered the workplace in droves over recent decades, many of them leaving young children at home. One result is mothers have less time for care-giving. Past studies have shown working moms are torn between full-time careers and stay-at-home duties. And lately more diligent dads are helping out with the diaper-changing and other household duties.

But since mothers pride themselves on being just that - moms - their self-esteem can take a blow.

"While mothers are encouraged to join the workforce, socially constructed ideals of motherhood requires mothers to be primary caregivers," said study researcher Takayuki Sasaki of the Osaka University of Commerce in Japan. "Thus, employed mothers may feel pressured to do more care-giving to ensure the survival of their feelings of self-competence, even though they may wish for fathers' increased participation to lessen their burden."

Great. Now we're supposed to find that precise point between being a "deadbeat dad" and a loving father so that the moms don't get their self esteem all battered yet don't get to claim they are abandoned by the big jerk.
 
And as a bonus, I'm sure that the at-fault "socially constructed ideals of motherhood" were imposed by the male patriarchy that runs the world and secretly provides men with free beer, big screen TVs, and sporting event tickets. Once again, it's our fault.

It always is. That's the way it is. Luckily for women (and us, I admit), we're easily distracted into forgetting the unlevel playing field.

Close But No Cigar

International naval forces are being more aggressive with pirates based out of Somalia:

An international fleet of warships is attacking and destroying Somali pirate vessels closer to the shores of East Africa and the new strategy, combined with more aggressive confrontations further out to sea, has dealt the brigands a setback, officials and experts said Thursday.

The new tactics by the European Union naval force comes after Spain — which currently holds the EU's rotating presidency, and whose fishing vessels are frequent pirate targets — encouraged more aggressive pursuit of pirates and the coalition obtained more aircraft and other military assets, said Rear Adm. Peter Hudson, the force commander.

The EU Naval Force attacked 12 groups of pirate vessels, which normally includes several skiffs and a mother vessel, this month, more than last year. Half of those attacks were on the high seas and half close to shore, reflecting the new strategy to intercept pirates before they reach deep water and international shipping lanes.

This is certainly a welcome development, but it is just an inconvenience:
 
If the pirates aren't detained for prosecution — and most are not — they are disarmed and put back out to sea on one craft. Harbour said that while the aggressive tactics are not a long-term solution, they force pirates to find new vessels and weapons before they can launch more attacks.
 
Until we shoot to kill and just let them drown at sea, these guys will return to shore, find new vessels and weapons, and continue to seek weaknesses. It would be better to raze their shore bases and kill the leaders ashore, but raising the price of being a pirate from a mere inconvenience to death would do far more to end the threat.

Winning the Taliban War

Years ago, I wrote of the need to target the Taliban on the Pakistan side of the border in order to win in Afghanistan. This problem was just one of the reasons that the charge that we were "distracted" by Iraq from dealing with Afghanistan was always ridiculous. So this is good news:

Pakistan’s tribal leaders will discuss a strategy tomorrow to end support for militants, their biggest gathering since the U.S. invaded Afghanistan in 2001 and removed the Taliban from power.

At least 3,000 elders representing the 20 largest tribes in North West Frontier Province and the Federally Administered Tribal Areas will hold a meeting known as a ‘jirga’ in the provincial capital of Peshawar, Naeem Gul, one of the organizers, said in an interview.

Tribal support is crucial to efforts by Pakistan’s army to prevent insurgents from regrouping after an offensive in the region, focused on Swat Valley and South Waziristan, against groups blamed for 80 percent of nationwide terror attacks. Elders failed to stop the rise of militancy after the Taliban fled Afghanistan and thousands of tribesmen joined their ranks, killing scores of pro-government leaders.

I give credit to the Obama administration for getting Pakistan to commit to the fight against the Taliban. Granted, President Obama has had the advantage of dealing with a civilian government with its own reasons to rein in their own pro-Taliban intelligence people (in the ISI), but nonetheless, Pakistan has committed their power to the fight and lets us use our Predators to kill terrorists. I won't deny this success. As I've written, if I ever degenerate into reflexive Obama hatred, I should stop blogging on foreign policy.

The Taliban are a problem that inconveniently span two countries. An escalation in Afghanistan will always be at risk of failure if our enemy can just run across the border to Pakistan to rest, regroup, and raid into Afghanistan until we get tired of the cost and casualties.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Whetting Their Appetite

All is not well in the People's Democratic Republic of Korea.

In the land where all that the Dear Leader deems is made to happen, failure is dangerous:

North Korea has executed a ruling party official blamed for a botched currency reform, in a desperate attempt to quell public unrest and stem negative impact on Pyongyang's power succession, a news report said on Thursday.

The execution by firing squad in Pyongyang last week of Pak Nam-ki, Labour Party chief for planned economy, was for the crime of "a son of a bourgeois conspiring to infiltrate the ranks of revolutionaries to destroy the national economy," South Korea's Yonhap news agency said, quoting sources.

But both North Korean officials and even many in the communist country's public do not believe the explanation that Pak was a conspiring anti-revolutionary, Yonhap quoted sources knowledgeable about the issue as saying.

Failure is especially dangerous in times when the people are starving and increasingly desperate--and who increasingly don't care who in the government knows they are mad.

Still, I have to wonder about the wisdom of letting the peasants know that the proper punishment for failing in North Korea is death. Have the elites looked around the country much lately? Sure, their gated communities are looking superb, as usual. But the F in PDRK stands for "failure."

Ok, there isn't an F in PDRK, inconveniently spoiling this little witticism. But the fact remains that the entire country under the Dear Leader's enlightened rule is one giant failure rolling along at breakneck speed toward the cliff. "Ruining the economy" is the 5 year plan.

But now the people know what the proper punishment for failure is when they get their hands on the pampered elites who've dragged a nation along on their Thelma and Louise ride of defiance. Regime collapse is going to be ugly for the elites.

A Ruse By Any Other name

This is bizarre and inept:

Georgian President Mikhail Saakashvili's credibility in the West has been further eroded after a faked newscast sparked panic by announcing a Russian invasion, analysts and diplomats said.

The program on Imedi television, which has close links with Saakashvili, was a thinly veiled attempt to discredit the country's opposition that backfired, analysts said. It has prompted widespread condemnation - including from Georgia's chief ally the United States - as well as from European diplomats and ceasefire monitors.

If Georgian President Saakashvili had something to do with the recent "War of the Worlds" type news show that falsely broadcast "news" of a Russian invasion, I would not blame the voters there for dumping him at the first opportunity.

Remember, we support Georgian independence, democracy, and the current leader in that order. And the last is a distant third. At what point does Saakashvili harm the first two?

Remote CROWS

Another article on the Army's proposed infantry fighting vehicle, the Ground Combat Vehicle (GCV). Scalable armor protection is what makes it more than just a replacement for the Bradley, I guess, since it could be lighter and less protected as sub-Bradley personnel carriers are. Or really burdened with extra protection when they are escorting convoys and won't have to travel far from a road, and only then in emergencies.

It is to hold a nine-man squad. I have to wonder if there will be a cavalry scout vehicle that carries just a couple dismounts instead of the nine-man squad? The Bradley has a cavalry version like that.

If so, could you up the firepower with a pair of CROWS-like weapons stations where the extra seven men would go that are remotely controlled by soldiers back at a higher headquarters? Or even back in CONUS?

I suspect reaching back all the way to the United States would have too much time lag in the signal to be useful the way UAVs can be fought from back here, but who knows? What kind of signal lag would be too much for a gun turret that has to slew around following (and shooting at) moving infantry targets at perhaps close range?

Or maybe the two dismounts operate the CROWS and a remote team only takes over the gun operation when the operators dismount to check something out? This would maintain vehicle self-defense firepower when the scouts are out of the GCV and also provide some covering fire for the scouts outside.

Just a thought.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Hope, Change, and a Three-Week Assault

Austin Bay thinks that President Obama is reluctantly being dragged to the conclusion that we'll have to strike Iran to keep them from going nuclear:

The Khomeinists are 15 months closer to possessing nuclear weapons. A successful democratic revolt in Iran would get Obama -- and all of us -- off the terrible hook. Obama, and the rest of us, however, cannot bank on such fortune. In its own awkward, benighted and belated fashion, the administration of the American messiah of perpetual peace has begun preparing for "the military option" -- massive air and special operations strikes on the mullah's nuclear arsenal.

That could be right. I do think President Bush left President Obama the tools to strike Iran. And it is only a slight exaggeration to say that Obama will get another Nobel Peace Prize for de-fanging Iran when Bush would have gotten impeached for the same thing.

Hope and change can achieve a lot--as long as they come with a three-week blitz of Iran's nuclear, military, and political infrastructure.

Now This is Cowboy Language

I recall those pre-nuance days when an American president could demand Osama bin Laden be stopped--dead or alive:

Speaking with reporters after a Pentagon briefing on plans to call up reserve troops, Bush offered some of his most blunt language to date when he was asked if he wanted bin Laden dead.

"I want justice," Bush said. "And there's an old poster out West… I recall, that said, 'Wanted, Dead or Alive.'"

Remember how he was later derided for saying that? Quite liteally a cowboy moment, right? Sure you remember.

In our new nuanced age, we can just skip the "alive" part:

Attorney General Eric Holder told Congress on Tuesday that Osama bin Laden will never face trial in the United States because he will not be captured alive.

In testy exchanges with House Republicans, the attorney general compared terrorists to mass murderer Charles Manson and predicted that events would ensure "we will be reading Miranda rights to the corpse of Osama bin Laden" not to the al-Qaida leader as a captive.

Whoa there, cow poke! The corpse of bin Laden?

Still, you have to appreciate the nuanced thinking of ruling out torturing bin Laden for information by using the killing option.

Not that I disagree with what Holder is saying. I'm fine with atomizing Osama bin Laden and relying on DNA testing of the bits to make a positive ID. But I'm just a knuckle-dragger who believes we're at war.