Thursday, October 31, 2002

Always Reasons to Dither

The writer in this article uses another variation of the tendency of every opponent of war to say doing anything will cause bad things. He talks about past actions by America such as Kuwait, Somalia (which he says accurately was a "selfless" act on our part), and the former Yugoslavia and says all gave Islamist reasons to fight us. Iraq, of course, will do the same if we destroy Saddam’s regime. Wow. Apparently, anything we do encourages the enemy. He even says by implication that it might be best to let Saddam keep his chemicals and bio weapons because in the chaos of defeat they might be "privatized." That should deter us—perhaps—according to the writer. What an amazing thing to argue, that it is better to have these horrible weapons in the tender mercies of Saddam rather than risk others getting them in the wake of our Army crushing Iraq.

Well, as long as anything we might do will give Islamists reason to fight us, we might as well crush Iraq. What’s the difference? And then kill every damn Islamist that even thinks of raising arms against the American people. Death should discourage even the most committed Islamist.

The Real Issue

Other countries don’t trust us. This is amazing. This is what the article said:

"The whole debate is about two issues," said an envoy whose country is one of the five permanent Security Council members. "One is Iraq. The other is U.S. power in the world. The second issue is the bigger part of the debate."

How is it possible that our so-called allies look at Saddam’s Iraq, and then us, and then decide that stopping us from destroying that criminal regime is the right choice? Heck, the ridiculous French thought the war in Congo around the Great Lakes region was all an American plot to replace French influence with our influence. Yeah, that’s a huge geopolitical prize. I guess I can’t rule out some fanciful French scenario where our occupation of Baghdad is the final piece in some elaborate plan that let’s us shout "Check mate! Hand over your smelly cheeses and continue to use ‘le internet’ and other English words! Or else!" Honestly, I though they already knew that proliferating McDonalds throughout France (under cover of the EuroDisney deception plan in the heart of Frogland) is our plan to destroy them. Ok, sure, Iraq is part of the plan to undermine French-speaking Quebec, but that’s another plan altogether. Seriously, we need to have a reckoning with our allies about what being an ally means. Seeing America as the bigger threat is an outrage. They’d better worry that we start to agree with them. They don’t want us as an enemy.

On the actual invasion, given that the Iraqis seem to have largely decided to keep ground troops out of the south, I wonder if our invasion timetable will be faster than I thought. Why wait to fill the vacuum in the south when we can gain valuable time in the march on Baghdad? I’d previously thought a week to ten days of air strikes would precede ground invasion. But since the Iraqis seem to have ceded everything but the core Sunni area, moving into Iraq as soon as the air strikes begin could also get them out of their Kuwaiti base areas that are likely already targeted for Iraq’s limited missile stocks. Getting our troops moving will make them less vulnerable to chemical strikes given Iraq’s very limited tactical intelligence capability. They may be limited to striking targets plotted before the war begins. I’m no expert on special forces methods, but I’d guess they will (if they have not already) recon areas in southern Iraq and prepare the area to receive large numbers of conventional forces. Thus, the air campaign and march to Baghdad may largely overlap. Oh, my Janes email news says the invasion starts just before or after Christmas.

On to Baghdad. Then Paris (just kidding).

Was down with a virus and quite busy with home life too. Strange feeling of guilt for not posting. Jeez, I need a twelve step program or something.

Sunday, October 27, 2002

Unable to Learn

Wow. Former president Carter thinks the 1994 agreement with North Korea should be the basis of renewed talks and agreements. He still thinks in terms of some peace agreement with North Korea. He learns nothing from his mistakes. He continues to think the North Koreans can be trusted.

And if we came to some comprehensive peace agreement? Well that just bolsters the murderous Kim Jong Il regime, now doesn’t it? Carter doesn’t care. Leaving those thugs in power and giving them the means to prolong their rule is just dandy for him. Heck, if he got a peace prize for the ’94 agreement, the committee will just burst with joy if he negotiates another sham agreement.

Does recognition that a treaty is meaningless mean we invade? Of course not. Although the justice of it would not be in question, the casualties would be great. There is another response between invasion and appeasement. This regime can be contained. We have contained it for fifty years. If we keep this up, eventually they will collapse of their own weight. And since the balance of conventional power continues to build in the South’s favor, there is little to fear from putting off a day of reckoning. Our nukes will probably deter their nukes. Would North Korea use their nukes? Maybe, but their best hope was always to conquer the South, not bring about mutual suicide. We will have a limited missile defense system to protect ourselves and our allies soon. For the North, nukes were always a good bet to keep a war conventional where their former superiority could be used. That time is past. They can’t win conventionally and so we won’t feel compelled to go nuclear anyway. Their nuclear deterrent becomes irrelevant because we don’t need to threaten nukes to defend the South.

No, wait them out. Isolate them. Let them collapse.

For God’s sake, keep Carter away from the area. He’s done enough.

Saturday, October 26, 2002

The Last Refuge of a Scoundrel

I heard Bishop Thomas Gumbleton on NPR yesterday. I’ve grown up knowing that name.

I have little respect for him.

On any given foreign policy issue he opposes the American government. If he ever had anything to say about the horrors of Soviet Russia, or any lesser communist state, he certainly wasn’t motivated enough to be this vocal about it. Defending Saddam Hussein’s government does motivate him. And make no mistake, he is running interference for Saddam’s regime, though the bishop would not think of it that way.

But he feels the "injustice" of the coming war against Iraq. He believes it is wrong to invade Iraq and free the Iraqi people and is giddy with the prospect of protests to halt the war. He says that the people of America don’t want war, relying on anecdotal evidence from a large meeting for a very left wing U.S. Representative. He dismisses the polls. He said that while, yes, the polls show that a clear majority favors war to end the threat from Iraq, support goes down if you ask whether high casualties would change their minds. Then support goes down. This, the good bishop says, shows the pro-war side isn’t as committed. The anti-war side is totally committed, he said with pride.

Yes, the pro-war side can be persuaded by higher costs to oppose war.

The anti-war side cannot be swayed.

How is that rigidity superior? He is boasting that his side cannot be persuaded to support overthrowing Saddam’s regime by his invasions of his neighbors? By his mass executions and brutal repression? By his liberal use of poison gas? By his blind pursuit of nuclear weapons at the expense of his people’s health? By his personality cult? By his reliance on a small Sunni power base and exclusion of the majority from the benefits of Iraq’s wealth? By his support of terrorists? His attempt to assassinate President Bush 41? By his refusal to agree to the cease-fire terms of 1991? By his repeated threats since 1991 against Kuwait? None of these, Gumbleton apparently proudly asserts, could change the minds of the anti-war crowd. Since a hypothetical casualty question was used to illustrate how pro-war people can be swayed, what if Saddam sent poison gas to terrorists who then used them in the Sears Tower and killed 10,000 people? Is that enough to make them think Saddam should be destroyed?

Probably not. They are "committed" after all.

It is said so often that patriotism is the last refuge of a scoundrel. I’ll not dispute the dubious broadness of that claim here (after all, those who quote it only seem to be upset over American patriotism). But by Gumbleton’s own judgment (and I realize I’m on weak ground basing an argument on his judgment) the pro-war side is not made up of inflexible "my country right-or-wrong" types. They can be persuaded to be against the war. But what about the anti-war types? What kind of scoundrels are they that they cannot be convinced by any argument that war against Iraq is just and in our interests? How is this inflexibility morally superior?

Truly, militant pacifism is the last refuge of a scoundrel.

On something I wrote earlier (although maybe it was in defense issues, I forget. Anyway, I don't think we have even a full Stryker Brigade ready for combat to airlift into Iraq. I wouldn't rule out scraping up a battalion task force just to see how it could be used.

Thursday, October 24, 2002

Those Unreasonable Japanese

The Japanese would like their citizens kidnapped by the North Koreans to stay in Japan (the survivors, anyway; the rest died in various tragic and unlikely accidents). However:

According to media reports, a North Korean Foreign Ministry official said Pyongyang will allow the five Japanese to return to Japan permanently with their children if they choose.

But the reports said the official balked at returning the children to Japan right away and criticized Japan for overreacting to the abductions.

What an interesting window into North Korea. Japan is “overreacting.” Just like the North Korean reaction to being caught cheating, they feel aggrieved! Threaten neighbors with destruction and actually secretly build the means to carry out those threats? In defiance of international agreements? Kidnap foreigners to help spy on other nations more effectively? All part of the diplomatic game, don’t you know? Kind of like diplomats illegally parking under the protection of their immunity. It would be wrong to pass out tickets for that. This is just the same, right?

We can certainly sit around over coffee and kimchee and discuss the different viewpoints we hold on the justness of kidnapping innocent individuals and compelling them to work against their own country. We can work out the meaning of “we will not develop nuclear weapons,” right? Probably just cultural or language issues. We say TOE-MAY-TOE, and you say WE’LL TURN SEOUL INTO A FIRESTORM. We’re all just reasonable people after all. No difference at all.

Certainly no reason to overreact.

A Kick in the Leg

I guess the North Korean admission of their nuclear program could be construed as a kick in the leg to those who would deal with dictators and trust them to behave in a civilized manner. As William Safire noted: “"It was kind of like a miracle," breathed Jimmy Carter about his supposed conversion of the North Korean leader from lion to lamb on live TV.” At what point does failure to learn from experience go from mere foolishness to willful obstruction?

Oh, and I am waiting for Saddam’s Chinese-style security crackdown/massacre to disabuse the Iraqi people of any notions that Saddam is losing his bloodlust. How the people react to that will be a big question. How loyally his minions carry out the orders to shoot at civilians is a question too.

Hmm, Saddam ordering the families of his diplomats home? It will be interesting if they comply or not. I hope a bunch decide to jump ship. I’ll go out on a limb and say they will. Like the prison release, that will show Saddam’s fragility and not his power. Man, the stories they will tell us.

Wednesday, October 23, 2002

Stryker Brigades

I'm not comfortable with the organization of the Stryker Brigade Combat Teams (formerly Interim Brigade Combat Teams: IBCTs). Yes, we need something between walking infantry that is strategically mobile yet tactically immobile with little combat power and heavy armor that is strategically immobile but tactically mobile and highly lethal and survivable. The Stryker Brigades are the medium forces we are fielding that are supposed to bridge that gap.

Essentially a light mechanized brigade, a Stryker Brigade is more strategically mobile than a heavy brigade and has good tactical mobility. It has good firepower too, but lacks the survivability of heavy forces. It has lots of infantry for peace operations. Designed to be flown in after other forces have seized an airhead, the Stryker Brigades will provide significant firepower quickly; but will hand off the main battle to heavy forces when they finally arrive. How quickly is a question of debate since they are fairly heavy despite being lighter than a heavy brigade. And just how much Air Force airlift can the Army count on to get one overseas in a crisis? They will also be test beds for operating concepts for the Objective Force, the future army that will use light, lethal, and survivable combat platforms not even designed yet. I’ve already offered my thoughts at Military Review on this subject.

One problem is the different requirements for different operations foreseen for the brigades. Peace operations can be done at our leisure. We can basically ship over what we want on our time frame. The lightness of the Stryker Brigade is largely irrelevant to this mission. The wheeled vehicles and large infantry component are great for patrolling and will not stress the local roads and bridges, so this is one advantage. Yet the lightness is meant to allow the brigade to be rushed to a theater to deter or halt an invasion when paratroopers are the only alternative (which are just trip wires incapable of mounting serious resistance to an armored attack). Part of the problem of getting somewhere fast is sustainment. All that infantry has to be fed and provided with medical assistance, not to mention potable water, showers, ammunition, etc.

If we are trying to halt an armored assault with the Stryker Brigade, the high infantry component makes less sense. Why not add more of the 105mm-armed Strykers at the expense of the infantry carriers? Put TOWs on them too and now we're talking. Build the brigades with three battalion task forces each containing two 105mm companies and one infantry company. Or perhaps two smaller companies of each to allow each battalion to fight with two balanced task forces. Add the other recon and targeting, artillery, and support stuff already there, and we have a unit that can be airlifted fast yet better suited to stopping armor. I'd still rather have heavy armor but if we have to be there tomorrow, the heavy stuff just won't be there (unless we park it there well before the conflict).

The factors that make the brigades useful for peacekeeping could also be useful for urban combat. Lots of infantry, wheeled vehicles, superior communications and recon abilities, all are suited for city fighting. Indeed I’m wondering if one or two will debut in Iraq.

Still, long term we might want mix and match Stryker Brigades with anti-tank and infantry versions. I’m just not satisfied with the current unit.

[NOTE: This is from the former Defense Issues category from my original blog. Also, all the link from the original post is dead so I didn't try to enable it.]

Tuesday, October 22, 2002

Urban Warfare

American infantry is training hard for urban warfare. It appears that there is some reason to believe it won’t be as bad as some critics assert, even if Saddam convinces his die-hards to fight it out. Fighting in cities is certainly to be avoided, but this gives me some confidence that a worst-case scenario of bitter resistance can be overcome without the bloodbath that can happen with a determined and entrenched enemy.

The article raises another possibility for massing troops quickly. The new Stryker Brigades could be airlifted into an airfield near Baghdad once our ground forces capture them. Although I do not particularly think these brigades are configured for the rapid response role they claim to be made for—they have too much infantry and are still too heavy—they may be just the ticket for urban warfare. They are basically mechanized infantry brigades but with wheeled armored vehicles instead of tracks and really good targeting and surveillance capability. Wheeled vehicles are better in urban combat because they don’t get trapped as easily as big tracked vehicles. Blow a track off and the tank is immobile. Blow a wheel and you can still hobble out in reverse. They don’t have nearly the armor of an Abrams main battle tank, so that is a disadvantage, but they could be used. Do we have two now ready for combat? Do we have the airlift? The Air Force is going to be darned busy and that is a major roadblock. We probably don’t have the airlift to lift that brigade in and do everything else too. Or maybe we’ve already gotten much of what we need into the Gulf so airlift will be free. We’ll see. They would be useful.

On another issue, do people really think that the North Korean nukes information was withheld to support the vote to fight Iraq? Personally, I think this is in the “damned if you do, damned if you don’t” category. How many opponents of war with Iraq would have cried, “You are bringing up a totally irrelevant and separate issue designed to scare us into voting for war with Iraq! And why reveal it now?!” Yep. And would they have really reacted to this “greater threat” by deciding to invade North Korea instead? It seems that any development is reason for not attacking Iraq, according to some.

And further information on Iraqi prisoners. Saddam now says all is forgiven to Iraqi exiles. They can now come home in dignity and peace. I think Saddam is a bit confused on who needs to forgive whom. Not to worry, they will be coming home in dignity and peace—but as translators and liaisons with the Army and Marines. And all is not forgiven as far as they are concerned. Oh, and if any exiles are tempted to believe this offer, remember that the prisons are kind of empty now…

Monday, October 21, 2002


Good grief, is Iraq going to collapse under the pressure of our looming invasion? The Iraqi prison release is as bizarre in its details as it is in its motivation. What is happening?

At the Abu Ghraib prison, a sprawling compound on the desert floor 20 miles west of Baghdad that has become a notorious symbol of fear among Iraqis for its history of mass executions and allegations of torture, the heavy steel gates gave way under the crush of a huge crowd of relatives who rushed to the jail within an hour of the amnesty broadcast. All semblance of order vanished as a cheering mob surged through the compound, in some cases joining prison guards in smashing cell-block walls to free weeping inmates. But some inmates were killed in the chaos today.

The scenes were repeated at other prisons across the country, including the Khadhemiya prison for women in Baghdad, and those in other major cities, including Basra in the south and Mosul and Kirkuk in the north.

Mr. Hussein's decree specified that committees of judges would have 48 hours to rule on individual releases, excepting only "Zionist and American spies," murderers who have not settled the "blood money" owed to victims' families under Islamic legal precepts, and debtors who have not satisfied their creditors. But the mob scenes that developed at Abu Ghraib and elsewhere appeared to have overwhelmed the prisons and caused a mass exodus.

Note the evaporation of fear. The crowds surged into the prisons—fortresses that the people usually avoid out of fear that they might end up in there, disappeared from their families. Guards and ordinary people who lost their fear rescued their family members in jail. No orderly reviews by committees of judges.

I’m grateful to have gotten the link from after seeing a reference to it on National Review Online earlier today.

What is going on? Whatever it is, it is not generosity. Saddam must be feeling some fear to loosen his grip like this. He could not have expected this:

Once the prison gates collapsed, the mood changed. Seeing watchtowers abandoned and the prison guards standing passively by or actively supporting them as they charged into the cell blocks, the crowd seemed to realize that they were experiencing, if only briefly, a new Iraq, where the people, not the government, was sovereign. Chants of "Down Bush! Down Sharon!" referring to Prime Minister Ariel Sharon of Israel, faded. In one cell block, a guard smiled broadly at an American photographer, raised his thumb, and said, "Bush! Bush!" Elsewhere, guards offered an English word almost never heard in Iraq. "Free!" they said. "Free!"

It is perhaps too much to hope that a Romania-like meltdown will happen. But if it does, the Army and Marines better be prepared to move in fast to occupy Iraq.

Good grief, are the Iraqis losing their fear of Saddam?

Yep, Our Fault

It hasn’t taken long for someone to give the “from North Korea’s” perspective on North Korea’s secret abandonment of the 1994 Agreed Framework.

The author states, “Both (Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong Il) have made entreaties -- though sometimes rough and blustery -- to see if they could reach accommodation with Washington without jeopardizing the personality cult that has kept them in power.” Get that, nuclear threats against Japan and South Korea, not to mention us, are just rustic golly gee “rough and blustery” talk! And a mere “personality cult” as if it were mere vanity rather than the core of a brutal dictatorship. How insensitive of us to not support that personality cult. My word, it might be a self esteem issue here!

The author reports without comment the perspective from the North:

The United States fought a war against North Korea in 1950-53 and maintains one of its largest contingents of overseas troops massed and ready on the Korean Demilitarized Zone, facing North Korea. It has spy ships, like the USS Pueblo captured by North Korea in 1968, and satellites trained on North Korea.

That little war thing—the author does realize that the North invaded the South and to this day does not recognize the Republic of Korea? The article makes it sound like we instigated a war there. As for our “massed and ready” troops on the border? Well, we have two brigades of the 2nd Division there. And it is there because Seoul is so close to the border. And it is ready because the North is massed just north of the border. The author even lists the Pueblo Incident, when the North Koreans seized one of our ships while it was in international waters and held the survivors for a year! And we point satellites at them? Egad! This is an outrage? How can the author not point out these problems with North Korea’s perspective? Sure, they may believe it, but why does the author need to lend it credibility?

The author even seems to give credibility to their fear that North Korea is next on our list: “When that rhetoric is coupled with U.S. willingness to send troops to remote places, such as Afghanistan, Iraq and the Balkans, the regime sees every reason to believe it is next on the list.” Right. We went into remote Afghanistan because terrorists based out of that country killed 3,000 of us. The “remote” Balkans are right in Europe. And Iraq remains a threat to us and our friends that cannot be managed. How “remote” is someplace that is in the heart of the world’s energy resources?

One problem with the “it’s our fault” line, though: If North Korea really did violate the agreement to get us to talk, why the secrecy? For so long? Saying that North Korea told us about their nuclear program to get us to talk requires one to ignore that North Korea didn’t actually tell us. We confronted them and then they denied breaking the agreement only to reverse themselves a day later. That is, North Korea was doing this in secret—for years. A more reasonable conclusion is that North Korea wanted a potent “bolt from the blue” weapon to unleash/reveal at the time of its choosing. Given the hair trigger posture of the North Korean army, massed in an offensive deployment on the border, can we really talk ourselves into seeing ourselves at fault?

As for Iraq, in a world of the internet and 24-hour news, Iraq’s leadership is convinced we are alone in wanting to oust the Tikriti mafia from Baghdad. They believe they have allies. They will not yield to us and disarm because they are convinced we will falter.

Big mistake. We are going to Baghdad. And Saddam will make it easy for us to get allies.

Sunday, October 20, 2002

Simplistic Hawk or Blinded by Ideology?

Mary McGrory is apparently upset that we will not invade North Korea. She is upset that our president hasn’t blasted North Korea with the same rhetoric he uses against Iraq. If she wasn’t opposed to that rhetoric against Iraq I might think she is sincere. But we all know she doesn’t raise this difference to argue for war against both; she wants nothing done about both.

She raises irrelevant points about our ability to find the DC shooter as if Iraq should be put off until every crime is solved and prevented (but won’t that trigger an Ashcroft hysteria alert?). She amazingly seems to blame Bush because an "eyewitness" turns out to have fabricated his statements. And she makes a ridiculous comparison to Alexander the Great, arguing Bush wants to conquer the known world.

What is her deal?

Aside from her silly attacks, she rattles off a number of questions over why we are treating North Korea more gently than Iraq. She asks, "Is it because North Korea has a million men under arms? Is it because Kim Jong Il never threatened to kill Bush's father, or because he has no oil, or is not a Muslim? Maybe we should ask the advocates who dreamed for 10 years of invading Iraq. Do Richard Perle, Richard Cheney and Paul Wolfowitz believe in equal opportunity for tyrants?"

Does North Korea’s army shape our caution? You’re darned right it does. And after opponents of war have spent so much time accusing Bush of simplicity for lumping Iran, Iraq, and North Korea into an Axis of Evil, you’d think they’d welcome a foreign policy that recognizes the differences. The million-man North Korean army is relevant because South Koreans would die in huge numbers in a war and because we do not have a military large enough to even consider regime change against Iraq and North Korea at the same time. Is McGrory really prepared to say we should go to war against both, at once? When that would ensure failure or at least costly success? Is she even willing to support war against North Korea first, since she says they are more of a threat? Right now, we have more than enough to do taking out Iraq. Maybe later, we can decide on a more forceful response if circumstances warrant it. I say it makes more sense to hit the dictator who doesn’t have the bomb—yet, rather than hit a state that does and allow the one that doesn’t time to get one. Is it really an inferior strategy to go after one nuclear-armed thug than two?

As for the assassination attempt against Bush 41, is she saying that a murder attempt against any president is not cause for war? Even President Clinton lobbed some cruise missiles at Iraq even though Clinton was unrelated to Bush. This is typical bull, claiming this is all personal. Iraq is a threat and Bush is acting on it. Trying to assassinate a former president is an act of war, and President Clinton is to be criticized for letting it pass with only a pro forma cruise missile strike. Why did President Clinton attack in 1998, arguing that Iraq’s pursuit of nuclear weapons was unacceptable to our security? Or is it acceptable for McGrory to launch only ineffective attacks in defense of our interests?

The oil argument is stale and ridiculous. If oil was our motive, maybe we’d invade Venezuela. We get little of our oil from the Middle East. Shoot, the Japanese and Europeans should be leading the charge for war if that was the reason. Indeed, McGrory makes this charge with no shame in light of the French and Russian opposition to war precisely because of their oil interests? Why not raise the charge, "No Tyranny for Oil!" That has far more credibility.

And the Moslem charge? Good grief, I earlier ran through all the Moslem countries we’ve helped over the years. Her charge is hogwash. Given the implicit charge of racism she is making, you’d think North Korea was colonized by blonde, Christian Swedes. I’m at least glad she thinks Bush is only racist versus Moslems and not against Asians too.

So McGrory wants equal opportunity for tyrants. Give the President time, Ms. McGrory. We can’t conquer the known world all at once. I look forward to her support for regime change if that is what we need to do.

But first, on to Baghdad.

Friday, October 18, 2002


Our friends at Global Exchange, who oppose virtually any war the United States might need to fight, call our decision to use diplomacy to contain North Korea “hypocrisy.”

As if they’d be happy campers if President Bush had announced that we would invade North Korea just as soon as we finished with Iraq, and right before we invaded Iran. That would be consistent, right? And Global Exchange is oh so concerned about treating all of the axis of evil the same, right? Forgive me if I assume too much, but I imagine the word “simplistic” was used rather freely by the Global Exchange people when the president declared Iran, Iraq, and North Korea to be an axis of evil. “They are different, how can the president lump them all together as if one strategy fits each of them?” was probably their talking point at the time. And having complained about the cost of war against Iraq, Global Exchange complains that we are letting the potential cost of attacking North Korea stay our hand. Well what is it, should or should not the cost be factored in? The author says we cannot go around the world preemptively striking states pursuing nuclear weapons, when all we are doing so far is preparing to strike one of those states. Who said this is step one of a war against all states? I know Global Exchange fears this but should we then accept their premise when they argue against their own misperceptions?

The author states, “The only solution to dealing with Iraq and North Korea is to use diplomacy, regional pressure and the United Nations (news - web sites) as ways to press for disarmament.” I see, and the example of North Korea’s shameless duplicity of violating the agreed framework and then stating that the agreement is now null (I guess it only becomes null when we discover it, an interesting point of view that should teach Global Exchange something useful) means we need more agreements? Can’t we see how much they are worth?

His (hmm, or is Medea a woman’s name?) last conclusion is good too, "Finally, we can't continue to say that other countries must not develop weapons of mass destruction while we, by far the mightiest military power in the world, continue to refine these deadly weapons.” So, here the author displays his complete inability to distinguish between a brutal, expansionist, and aggressive dictatorship and our constitutional democracy. That’s the scary part. In Benjamin’s mind, there is no difference. I just can’t take the arguments of such a man at all. He lacks something very basic for a rational discussion of the issue. His line may be predictable, but it is still sickening.

Oh, and Benjamin probably thinks the debate is suppressed. After all, s/he was only in USA Today.

Western Iraq

As I noted earlier, I figured the way we would keep Israel quiet during a war with Iraq would be to put American special forces on the ground in western Iraq to hunt SCUDs and to let the Israelis join us. This is more effective than letting the Israeli air force go after the Iraqis and far less visible.

President Bush has pledged to put US troops on the ground there to do just that. Since the article stated that Israeli special forces had gone in over the summer, we can conclude that we will let the Israelis participate too. And Jordan must be on board to have allowed Israelis through their country to go to Iraq.

The pieces fall into place. I’m not worried about the wrangling at the United Nations. Some worry we are capitulating. I don’t. I figure we asked for far more than we need in order to “retreat” under pressure from the French and Russians. They are more interested in the process so giving them such a victory will be sufficient for them to go away happy. I imagine we will get what we need. And if we don’t? So what? We can argue that our “allies” won’t meet us halfway, pack our papers, and go home. We have sufficient authority in existing UN resolutions on Iraq. We have Congressional authorization. If the Security Council won’t give us new ones adequate for going to war, we’ll let them sit this one out. Let the Russians and French try to get their Iraq debts paid if that happens!

Thursday, October 17, 2002

Relax! The UN is ‘Concerned’

The UN is deeply concerned that North Korea may have a nuclear weapons program. It seems that North Korea never admitted to one before. But do we really want to trust the IAEA people to resolve this? We confront the North Koreans with evidence that we know they are violating the 1994 agreement with us and are, in fact, pursuing nuclear weapons. The North Koreans deny, then, say yes we are—so what?

And what does the International Atomic Energy Agency say?

According to the article, "The International Atomic Energy Agency said the assertions, if true, meant Pyongyang had been misleading the United Nations…" If true? Are they serious? The North Koreans confess and the IAEA is unsure of what conclusion to draw? They picked a fine time to go all skeptical about the North Korean ability to tell the truth.

"We are urgently seeking information from the Democratic People's Republic of Korea in response to this report, as well as information from the United States that will allow us to follow up on this very serious allegation," said IAEA Director General Mohamed Elbaradei. Again, this is just an allegation. Why on earth would the North Koreans claim they are pursuing nuclear weapons if they are not? I’m still a little shocked they admitted it at all.

But hey, the IAEA is willing to make lemonade out of lemons. Faced with the fact that there was apparently a very good reason the North Koreans never let the IAEA carry out thorough inspections to verify the 1994 agreement, they see a silver lining. They hope the confession will lead to those intrusive inspections. It will only take them, they say, 3 or 4 years to determine if their 10-year old declaration is accurate.

Assuming the North Koreans don’t lie and hide their program, of course.

Now what were the Iraq war protesters saying about the ability of the West to monitor nuclear programs and the willingness of dictators to carry out such programs? Oh yeah, they think it is a splendid idea.

On the way home today, with the skies getting grayer and the temperatures dropping, I considered the benefits of a winter war: the protesters will be cold and wet. Sadly, their papier mache puppets may wilt in the rain and snow.

Haggling Over the Price

The glorious international community, that bastion of high-minded morality that must be allowed to judge whether we may take military actions to defend ourselves against states that place themselves outside of international law, is considering whether to back us in the Security Council.

America is bargaining:

The Bush administration is mounting a campaign of public pressure and private diplomatic and economic concessions to persuade France and other skeptical members of the United Nations Security Council to go along with a single resolution threatening military force against Iraq.

As the joke goes, we know what they are, now we’re just haggling over their price.

Seriously, if the guardians of all that is right and lawful can be bought, why is it that we need their approval? I would think that principled opposition is just that—a refusal to go along because it is wrong pure and simple. How our invasion becomes morally just and internationally sanctioned just because we pay the price that France, Russia, and China want is beyond me. We’ll just leave our payment on the night stand when we leave, ok?

On another topic, I’m glad that the New York Times at least stopped fronting for the Iraqis—they let the Iraqi ambassador to the UN make Saddam’s case directly. When our soon-to-be enemy gets precious space in a major paper, can opponents of war still say there is no debate?

Wednesday, October 16, 2002

Axis of Evil

Can we all just agree that North Korea deserves its place on the axis of evil?

This just in: North Korea does have a secret nuclear weapons program notwithstanding their agreement not to pursue nuclear weapons. Gosh, isn’t this shocking that a brutal dictatorship would lie to us? Heavens, what is the proper multilateralist to think? Quickly now, let’s sign another agreement with them! Send Jimmy Carter!

How much more simply can we present the North Koreans before the world gives us a little respect on this issue? The horrible famines that have killed and wasted an entire population have not been viewed as humanitarian crises but as embarrassments to Pyongyang. The rulers hid the problem that they created lest somebody doubt the regime’s wisdom and capacity to govern. If this is not evil, what is?

And if a hidden famine and the threat of nuclear devastation from the "Dear Leader" are not disturbing, five Japanese abducted by the psycho North Korean regime were allowed to return to Japan for a week—their families are kept in North Korea to ensure their return. Does this not at least put a human face on the regime’s evil? An easily graspable symbol of the horrors of North Korea? Good God, I hope so.

Does this mean we must invade? No. You do what is achievable; and North Korean military power and Seoul’s unfortunate proximity to the border argue against a military solution to the North Korean problem. But isolating the regime should be a must. Sunshine as the South Koreans practice it is not the answer. It can only be part of the solution if it is designed to forestall a desperate North Korean invasion yet not significantly strengthen and prolong the North’s grip on power. Then, eventually North Korea will collapse, perhaps quite suddenly.

I hope it happens soon enough so we do not have to decide whether to launch an air campaign to delay their fielding of usable nuclear missiles. I also hope we will attack Iraq with enough force to quickly win so we can regroup our forces before North Korea is tempted to attack. They’d lose even if we were involved in Iraq, but the South Koreans would suffer tremendously until we could intervene. The South is powerful enough to win, but we are needed to keep the cost from being the ruination of their country.

On another note, my deepest sympathies to the Australians for their loss of life at Bali. Remember that much of our press would not like to emphasize your loss lest the deaths propel us to war against Iraq faster. Australia’s friendship is deeply appreciated and we will win this war together. We fought together on the ground in World War II, Korea, and Vietnam. Our troops have crawled across the cold mountains of Afghanistan together. We will win this war too.

The Results Are In!

Yes, political junkies, the suspense is over. The Iraqis have announced the results of their election. Every single registered voter cast a ballot. An amazing percentage. Not one registered voter was out of town on business or visiting relatives. Not one was in the hospital suffering from lack of medicine. Not one was on their deathbed suffering from the results of depleted uranium munitions. Not one was lingering on their death bed because they had no x-ray machines or blood transfusion. Nobody was ministering to a sick child or elderly relative. Nobody was too weak from lack of food. Not one even forgot to vote. Everyone voted.

Either Saddam is exaggerating the turnout just a teensy bit or he is completely lying about the effects of sanctions. Or both.

Just as amazing, Saddam received 100% of the vote! Nobody was confused by the yes or no ballot. Nobody got too nervous to vote. Nobody voted for a protest candidate. No votes were lost. I bet Jimmy Carter will praise the orderly nature of the vote.

I really hope this is material for a Saturday Night Live skit. I gave my best shot at Landfill yesterday.

Seriously, who is fooled by this charade? Certainly not the Iraqis. Certainly not us. Will the UN be fooled? Is Saddam fooled? Does he really think he was just endorsed? Do his aides tell him he is loved and the people will die fighting house-to-house for him? If so, invasion is inevitable. "Voters" may shed a little blood to mark their ballots but I guarantee they won’t shed any in his defense when our heavy armor rolls in.

Tuesday, October 15, 2002

Hijacker on Saudi Plane Thwarted!

Ok, how many people do you think, when they first saw this report, said to themselves, “Oh my God, some crazed Christian decided to get revenge on Islam!”

(sound of crickets)*

Let me start off by saying, of course Islam itself isn’t guilty for what its members do. I don’t think Islam as a religion is guilty. But Christianity has mostly lost the fervor that leads to mass murder. No need to go into history for times when Christianity was militant—we’re talking about today, people. And yes, Tim McVeigh wasn’t Islamic, but he was an anti-federal government chucklehead and not a Christian soldier. You have to admit, Islam does have plenty of fanatics today. That’s why nobody thought a Westerner had done the deed. Even if a Westerner had done it, the first impulse would not have been that some Christian had tried to hijack the plane. So there, ritual disclaimer finished.

Back to the lesson of the hijacking. Do people who think they have only to disagree with America’s war against Islamic fascism to become immune to said Islamic fascists? With terrorists striking in small attacks around the world, predictably some are saying this is so. “Just avert our eyes from Americans dying and refuse to help that madman Bush and we’ll sleep safely in our homes at night,” they seem to argue. Helping America didn’t get Australians killed in Bali. Being Western got them killed. The terrorists hit a French tanker despite their “sophisticated” criticisms of our war. And of course, the Saudis get hit too, because even they are not “pure” enough for the terrorists. The Grand Mosque seizure by fanatics over twenty years ago got the Saudis pretty darned nervous, but even their subsequent support for the Islamic fanatics has not earned them immunity.

A whole lot of people, including a whole bunch in San Francisco who think they protest for peace, need to understand that our enemies are granting no quarter. But these protesters get to protest, feel morally superior, and avoid the consequences of their actions because America is fighting the terrorists and their state sponsors and America will win. The terrorists will kill us until we kill them. Let’s get on with it, eh?

Fill up Gitmo. On to Baghdad.

*Ok, not original, but I saw Lileks do this once and it struck me as quite funny-not sure why.

Monday, October 14, 2002


Well, it seems that the iron-clad logic of deterrence fails when one side is nuts. Fidel Castro wanted to take a spear in the chest for the communist team. He apparently thought Cuba's demise in a nuclear war between America and the Soviet Union during the Cuban Missile Crisis was a small price to pay. Heck, even the Soviets were worried about what Castro would do. But we’re to trust that Saddam is rational. Please, he apparently has so little concept of what democracy is that he thinks the sham election he will hold Tuesday really means something and is what a real election looks like. Shoot, even the ABC projection of Saddam’s victory is accurate. I guess I won’t stay up late waiting for late returns from Basra.

I’m waiting to hear some apologist claim the election is genuine and should stay our hand. Anybody going to take any bets for France? Or maybe some "peace" organization based in San Francisco?

Saturday, October 12, 2002

Facilitating Invasion

It is sad when Iraq gives us more cooperation in going to war than the French provide. (And why the French should grub for money when they too are targets, as the latest evidence of a suicide attack on the French tanker off of Yemen shows, is amazing. Even anti-American rhetoric doesn’t save them. But Iraq’s latest evasions on inspections are starting to annoy even the French and Russians. It must be so frustrating to try and protect your oil contracts and past debts when the brutal dictatorship you want to deal with won’t even provide a fig leaf for your principled upholding of monetary interests, er, I mean, "multilateral cooperation." Iraq’s blatant refusal to cooperate even as they deny that any of the obstacles they place on thorough inspections are actually "conditions"is just amazing. It is especially dense given that neighboring Arab states won’t stop us from attacking. Yes, Iraq says they have a "readiness to resolve all issues that may block the road to our joint cooperation." Yes, no matter how long it takes, they will talk to resolve the issues. Should they develop a nuke during the years they diligently resolve issues? Well, oopsy! And in a great display that acknowledges their ability to read if not their ability to cooperate, they wrote, "Regarding the presidential sites, we have taken note of your position."

Even Iran says it may, in effect, allow American aircraft to cross Iranian air space to attack Iraq. That will sure make it easier to capture Basra in an opening strike. Plus, Iraq’s pledge to respond to an attack within an hour combined with their implicit belief that it will be an effective response, must make us question just what would this be? Since we all know that Iraq denies having any weapons of mass destruction, and surely the Iraqis would not lie to us, could they be preparing to inflict Barbra Streisand music on our troops? We’ll nuke ‘em ‘til they glow for sure, in that case.

Note that V Corps headquarters from Germany will be moving to Kuwait along with 1st Marine Expeditionary Force headquarters. The Germany-based corps commands armored forces and so indicates that a heavy corps will carry the brunt of the war. This is good. This means we are prepared to overwhelm the Iraqis and not count on a mass defection. I still think the debate over a fast deploying but light versus a slow deploying but heavy invasion force is a false choice. I think we will go in heavy and we will do it faster than anybody thinks. Marines add some infantry and ability to come in from the sea and to help cross the Euphrates River. I’d still like the 101st Airborne Division in the southern front even though earlier reports are it will go into Iraq out of Turkey. Still, although details may change, we are coming.

On to Baghdad.

Friday, October 11, 2002

Deterrence and Lies

One thing (among many) that has bothered me about those who think Saddam should not be attacked is the argument that we should deter Saddam because he is unlikely to use his chemicals and bio weapons unless we attack. That is, we will provoke the use of weapons we worry about. At least one Congressional critic argued Saddam would not want to use what he has gone to such great lengths to acquire. He said they will be “too dear” to use. The critics say they worry about our troops being exposed to such lethal agents. Some say that given our bellicose words, it is only natural that Saddam seeks such weapons to deter us from attacking him. (They also complain we helped Iraq in the 1980s. But mention that Saddam has been pursuing nukes long before our hostility and you are likely to get sputtered sentence fragments as the speaker tries to reconcile the conflicting data.)

Of course, the Iraqis deny they have any such weapons and claim they are not even pursuing them.

If we can believe the Iraqis, as Representative McDermott would argue, we have no worries about such unconventional munitions should we invade. In that case, we will simply be overthrowing what all agree is a brutal regime. Even opponents of action, now, with military force, almost uniformly preface their statements against war by saying Saddam is a brutal dictatorship.

But what of the argument that he seeks weapons of mass destruction as a legitimate deterrence against us?

Remember, that deterrence is the proposition that you can stop an enemy by threatening damage wholly out of proportion to their potential gains for attacking. This school of thought holds that our invasion will provoke his use of weapons of mass destruction. But deterrence requires the enemy (us) to know he (Saddam) has terrible weapons that he will use if we attack.

Saddam denies he has those weapons.

Most believe he is lying. So Saddam possesses chemical weapons and possibly biological weapons, and seeks nuclear weapons not to deter but for something else. Like what? Perhaps revenge on a scale grander than “merely” trying to assassinate former President Bush. Perhaps out of a hatred for us at thwarting his ambition to dominate the Gulf and the Arab and Moslem worlds. Who knows? But we darn sure know he doesn’t want them for our Western concept of deterrence, based upon our horror for war and death. Saddam has known little but war and death since he came to power. He does not fear it, death is a tool for him and one that he wields freely.

Will Saddam use the weapons he denies having? He certainly will probably order their use. But will they be fired at us? That is unknown and not as sure a thing as his order to do so. If we strike hard enough and fast enough, his subordinates will believe they can outlast Saddam’s regime and actually live in a post-Saddam Iraq. They may refuse to fire. Given the state of communications that will exist after we smart-bomb them into isolated fragments, they may claim not to receive the order, may claim to have fired them without actually doing so, or may just shoot the local Saddam toady and defect. The Germans in 1945 never did use their stockpiles of Mustard and nerve gasses as they went down to defeat. Even in defeat, there is something else to lose—a chance at a real life for yourself, your family, and your people.

If we are lucky, chemical use by the Iraqis will be sporadic and ineffective. One thing for sure, however, it will be preferable to waiting for Saddam to use them in whatever non-deterrence purpose he plans for them.

On to Baghdad.

Unilateralism Alert!”

Would you believe, this time it is France that is the guilty party? Seems they are parting ways from the European Union on several issues. Heavens to Betsy, what’s the properly modern multilateralist to believe when France ignores the Brussels-derived wisdom of an enlightened continent? They’ve had an outbreak of simplicity, I guess.

Spite Prize

Incredible. Former President Jimmy Carter has been awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. Timed right when Congress has voted to authorize an invasion of Iraq. As the people from the awarding committee make clear, it was a jab at President Bush, a “kick in the leg.”

Like he gives a rip.

Clearly, the criteria for the prize means endeavors to weaken American Security through the simultaneous hobbling of American power, demoralization of the American people’s confidence in our judgment, and the elevation of thug rulers as the ultimate arbiters of what is right. The principles of the award actually reward thugs who know how to play the system while saying the right soothing words that will forestall actual effective action.

If this award once had meaning, it no longer does. It rewards thugs who briefly decide not to be thugs and those who enable the thugs. The article notes that “Former President Carter won the Nobel Peace Prize on Friday for his ‘untiring effort’ to find peaceful solutions to international conflicts and to advance democracy and human rights.” Tiresome is more like it. But really, cheap shot aside, for a man who has sucked up to every anti-American dictator on the globe, how can they honestly say he tries to advance democracy and human rights? He has praised murderers and when the people of Nicaragua turned out his beloved Sandinistas in a surprising election, he bemoaned the results! He preferred the communists to the non-communist victors. The contrast between Carter’s actions and the Nobel committee’s supposed reason for his victory are so mind boggling that I cannot comprehend the reasoning that led to his nomination, let alone his victory.

I hope that the next American who is so honored has the moral bearings to repudiate the award and decline it and the money that goes with it. It should have all the value of a “Viewers Choice” award, or perhaps slightly more than “Best of Show.”

Goodness gracious, the American XVIII Airborne Corps has done more to further world peace than Carter has done or ever will do, unless he sneaks in a revolver and assassinates one of the dictators he so frequently breaks bread with. So too has Congress done more, by essentially declaring war on Iraq.

So I say, we should embrace the kick in the leg that the Nobel people aimed at us. As a committee whose members value style over substance and who believe process is more important than results, the Nobel committee’s disdain for us is an honor.

And remember this: When Third Army marches on Baghdad and the Iraqi people are freed, that will be our kick in the shins to the Nobel people.

Thursday, October 10, 2002


It occurs to me that the goal of not massing troops around Iraq until we strike is supported by the Marine Corps exercise off of Kuwait. They go ashore and what do they do? Practice urban warfare.

Makes sense that the Marines carry out a ship-to-shore movement directly to Basra to hold the eastern flank of the Army drive north. That explains the American interest in destroying Basra air defenses and anti-ship missiles there. If the British are in the first wave, they could drive north to link up with the Marines. Or we airlift in one of our new Stryker brigades directly into Basra airfields captured by Marines. As long as Iraqi air defenses are suppressed and the Basra-based Iraqi units are weak, it would go well.

CORRECTION: On my October 8 post I mentioned November 2000 as when we started moving troops for liberating Kuwait. I clearly meant November 1990.

Wednesday, October 09, 2002

Waiting for Nukes

A number of critics say that war against Iraq would be justified only if the Iraqis get nuclear weapons. Unexplained to my satisfaction is why Saddam’s possession of nuclear weapons would lead opponents of invading Iraq to become supporters of invasion. It can’t be the mere possession of nuclear weapons. Otherwise, we’d warn others not to develop them or face invasion. But really, if Germany, Japan, or Norway announced they were seeking nuclear weapons, we might be regretful of this development but would not even think of striking. Indeed, India and Pakistan show what we’d do when states we don’t think would use them against us acquire them—nothing in particular and not for long. Is it the anti-American rhetoric? Well, we’d have bombed the French a long time ago if that was the case.

It must be something about Saddam having nuclear weapons that justifies invasion. This is fair enough. I actually trust the French not to nuke us even if McDonalds opens a revolving restaurant on top of the Eiffel Tower. I don’t trust Saddam to have the same restraint. Given that critics of going to war concede that Saddam is awful (as a preface to everything they say against war) and that his possession of nuclear weapons becomes a cause for war, why would we wait until he gets them? Do these opponents of war think Saddam isn’t trying to acquire nuclear weapons? Do they think that even tougher inspections can prevent him from getting nuclear weapons? Given that they believe inspections are needed to disarm Saddam notwithstanding Iraq’s denial of such weapons or any intention of getting them, they must think he wants them. They believe that much tougher inspections backed by force are necessary to disarm Saddam, so they must even believe Saddam wants them very badly.

So, we’ve established the following:

1) Saddam with nuclear weapons is not to be trusted in a civilized world. And

2) Saddam will not abandon his goal of acquiring nuclear weapons.

What should these facts teach us?

A) That we should wait until Saddam gets nuclear weapons before we attack. Or

B) That we should strike now while he does not have them.

I don’t know how anyone who believes 1 and 2 can possibly say the answer is “A.” It is not consistent. Those who say deterrence is viable are at least consistent when going from their beliefs to their policy recommendations. They are wrong, but at least you don’t go “huh?” after they finish speaking.

Saddam is not to be trusted with nuclear weapons and we need to stop him before he gets them.

On to Baghdad.

Tuesday, October 08, 2002

Will War With Iraq Increase Militant Islam’s Appeal?

One major argument against attacking Iraq is the argument that attacking will provoke an Islamist backlash. The problem with this argument is that it was made about Afghanistan. We can see that our attack (including our continuing the war through Ramadan when that “outrage” would supposedly inspire suicide bombers all over again) and victory did not spark massive demonstrations or revolts in the rest of the Moslem world.

In addition to the failure of bad things to happen, the collapse of the Islamist rebels in Uzbekistan shows us that victory over hostile regimes can have absolutely great positive results applied to our war against terrorism. It is nice to see such a report. Opponents of war seem to argue that we are hated by the Islamists now so our previous policy of not fighting them must have encouraged them; and that we will be hated if we attack. This creates an inescapable logic trap for complete deer-in-the-headlights inaction out of fear that something might go wrong if we so much as breathe.

Victory can have great results. Already, as I figured, the Arab states in the region are preparing to back us now that they know we are serious. The risk of being left to face Saddam’s wrath was too great before.

We are going to Baghdad.

War Speech

I have been convinced we should go to war against Saddam Hussein’s Iraq for quite some time. I’ve believed fairly strongly, since the September 11 attacks, that we would go to war. I’ve been pretty darn certain for the last month. Now I have no doubt. The President’s October 7 speech essentially told Saddam to come out with his hands up, with no sudden moves. A strong resolution from Congress will follow soon. And a resolution or resolutions from the UN Security Council will grant us enough authority to go to war.

I still don’t understand the critics of war who claim we have not had enough debate. Doris Kearns Goodwin last night raised the Persian Gulf War record onto a pedestal that is just amazing. We did not start to move troops in sufficient strength to smash Iraq’s army until November 2000. Until then the debate had been mostly about defending Saudi Arabia. President Bush was clear about ejecting Saddam from Kuwait but there was no clear debate on liberation. Only in November and December did it become clear we were putting in place forces to attack. The current debate has gone on for a year. How is today’s debate inferior to 1990? Further, the votes in Congress authorizing the Persian Gulf War were relatively close, the one in the Senate very close. When the votes are tallied this time around, I dare say it will be lopsided in favor of war—clearly showing a country pretty much united. Will DKG still argue that we were more united in 1991?

Amazing. If opponents of war are against war, they should just say so. Don’t cling to these procedural arguments and simultaneously argue that there is no debate. They sound like a bunch of defense attorneys trying to get their guilty client off on a technicality. There are valid concerns over war and real reasons not to fight. I happen to be overwhelmingly convinced that the failure to invade has far more serious consequences, but at least the opponents could debate these reasons. The pro-invasion side has presented its arguments for a year and the pro-invasion side has won over the public and Congress. Unfortunately, the anti-invasion side only considers it a full debate if they win.

Monday, October 07, 2002

Why Should We Hold Back?

The author starts off another argument against invading Iraq with an assertion so false that the remainder of the column is suspect. The author states, “One of the most appealing thoughts about a possible war with Iraq is that it could help spread democracy, transforming a rotten political order in the Middle East. But more likely, such a war would render the Middle East more repressive and unstable than it is today. Democracy cannot be imposed through military force, even if force is used successfully to oust antidemocratic dictators.” [emphasis added] All I have to say is: “Germany” and “Japan.” And those guys tenaciously fought on until the Russians reached the center of Berlin and two of their cities were destroyed by nuclear weapons, respectively. Talk about fanatical. Today, we debate how much of Saddam’s military will defect or stay in the barracks refusing to answer the hotline from Baghdad.

The author claims democracy in the Middle East and the Moslem world will actually go backwards if we invade and occupy Iraq? How is this possible? Will the rulers retroactively cancel earlier sham elections? That is really the only way for the democracy factor to get worse. And so what if Moslems think an invasion represents American imperialism. For goodness sake, they think McDonald’s and Britney Spears represent American imperialism. Better they should be too afraid to attack Americans despite their fear of the effects of Britney sans burqa on their societies.

The author states that democracy tomorrow in a number of states would actually be harmful as fanatics used the ballot box to put extreme regimes in place. This falsely assumes that full blown democracies are created overnight. The right to vote must be tied in with the concept of the rule of law and a civic mentality that doesn’t see defeat at the polls as a reason to uncover your weapons cache and take to the streets. We didn’t spring into a full-blown democracy overnight and we can’t argue that repressive regimes must do so overnight either. And it the author wishes us to inspire more, let us inspire the dissidents in Iran who crave freedom from the mullahs.

I’m sorry, but we do know what is better for the people of the Middle East. Democracy, freedom, and governments that actually seek to better the lives of their citizens are better than the inert despotisms that rule over societies of serfs. If the author truly believes that the current state of affairs is better I am truly sorry for what our students are fed in college. This judgment on what is best for Muslims is based on our ability to inspire. As the people of Iran show, they are inspired quite well, thank you. Sadly. it just hasn’t worked very well inspiring the dictators.

On the anniversary of our counter-attack that began with the assault on the Taliban, I look forward to the next campaign. I was ambivalent about the 9-11 anniversary. It remembers the worst of our enemy’s ongoing attack against us. While important, I worried it could falter into wallowing victimhood. October 7, however, is another thing. This marks the beginning of our war. I can only assume the President did not choose this day haphazardly to talk about the pending war with Iraq. We aren’t going to listen to the inertia-creating worries about what our enemies can do should we act. No, we are going to make our enemies worry about all that will go wrong for them when we attack. By my read, Iraqis are beginning to worry very much. Of course, none are willing to break the news to Saddam…

On to Baghdad.

One last thing: apparently, Rep. McDermott DID restrain himself while in Baghdad. Amazing stuff from his recent town hall meeting here.

Saturday, October 05, 2002

UN Resolution

We are making progress on UN approval of our invasion of Iraq. The private memorandum route and the French desire to be seen as prevailing on getting rid of an automatic "trigger" for invasion seems to offer an opportunity.

How about a two-step process like so many are insisting? The first resolution has hard (impossible probably, since Saddam is unlikely to accept anything that might work to deprive him of nukes) terms plus a subtle indication that Iraqi refusal gives us the right to use force. Maybe it can say "in consultation with the international community, member states may enforce the provisions of this resolution. The Security Council retains interest in resolving the issue of Iraqi compliance." We have private consultations with our allies and sign memoranda of understanding that the resolution constitutes approval for war unless the Security Council passes a second resolution instructing member states to stand down military actions to enforce compliance. We promise that if Saddam agrees to the terms and carries them out without conditions we will not veto an appropriate second resolution. We have veto power for anything not acceptable to us.

We would then have given our allies who insist on UN approval the cover they need. If for some reason Saddam does agree, we can insist on sending American divisions into Iraq to implement the first resolution. This would essentially allow us to carry out a creeping stealth invasion by occupying large swaths of northern, southern and western Iraq to support inspections anytime, anywhere. Plus, we’d have control over the oil fields and pipelines and truck routes out to Jordan, so Saddam couldn’t get money by smuggling oil. We could buy the food and medicine for Iraqis in the safe zones. Yep, this will get the international coalition on board. Opponents of the war who refuse to say so and instead insist on an international coalition, will have to either agree to war they really oppose or honestly oppose it. Even Saudi Arabia is preparing to come on board. And the French will probably settle on wording that appears to give them victory but which really favors action by us (if this doesn’t show the folly of UN fetishists, what does?). They want action too, I imagine. The French are investigating a bomb plot on a plane that was going through France. They probably can’t deny that they are targets too despite their "sophistication" in foreign policy. These developments have to worry the stealth opponents.

This risks delaying war past ideal campaign weather but we must insist on fast enough timetables to get around this. Shoot, maybe with safe havens, we’ll get defectors to come over to us en masse. The Iraqis might actually do this for us. Still, I bet Saddam actually believes his propaganda that there will be American blood flowing in Iraqi cities as he tries a last-ditch "Berlin ‘45" defense. He thinks he can beat us. This route might actually be a win-win for us.

Friday, October 04, 2002

The Third One

Well, the third representative to go to Baghdad, Representative Thompson, has explained why he went to Iraq. On its face, his explanation is reasonable. I have no reason to doubt his sincerity. I certainly do not call him a “traitor.” (nor do I call McDermott and Bonior traitors, for that matter) I have sympathy for a man who was reviled for going to fight in Vietnam and is now attacked for doubting we should go to war today. I disagree with him, but he did not provide ammunition to the Iraqis as he tried to resolve his doubts. His experience with the Iraqis cutting off his satellite feed as he condemned Iraqi human rights abuses must surely have been as illuminating as anything else he saw there. In a stage-managed trip that his colleagues fell for, he at least could see in a small way what inspectors faced for years—an Iraq that will put on a dog and pony show and that will cut everything off if the show starts to deviate from the script.

You aren’t sending kids to die in the jungles of Vietnam, Representative Thompson. And the fierce house-to-house fighting the Iraqis threatened is most likely bluster. And more importantly, there should be no doubt that we, the world, and the Iraqis themselves will be better off without Saddam Hussein’s murderous regime.

And you can cheer the busloads of soldiers who come home after defeating Iraq—along with millions of other Americans. Yes, some anti-war activists will call our troops baby-killers. But the warmth and pride of a nation will drown that out this time.

Our country let you down personally by sending you to fight a war and then shunning you when you returned. I am sorry for that. Don’t be hobbled by that horrible experience as you decide the fate of our people, our soldiers, and the safety of the world.

Vote to send our troops to Baghdad. The 33rd parallel won’t stop our troops.

The Washington Post has a good commentary on Thompson’s part in this.

Also, a nice piece on the subject of earlier musings of mine on whether or not striking Iraq would be unprecedented. It isn’t, as I said.

Wednesday, October 02, 2002

A UN That Works

The United States is making progress in the UN to get some authorization for war against Iraq, but obstacles remain (and Germany goes on the Security council in January…). The folly of having an organization such as the UN be the decider of what is just, when it is largely composed of thugocracies and allies who clothe their narrow interests in international garb, is getting to be too much to stomach.

After Saddam agrees to "unconditional" inspections, the UN negotiating team agrees to the condition-laden 1998 inspection regime. The French and Russians will look us in the eye and just lie, claiming Iraq is complying with UN demands. The fat oil contracts in their pockets will ease their consciences.

The UN is fast making itself an expensive irrelevancy. Yet we are condemned for not wanting to work with the "international community." It’s tough enough to debate fellow democracies, but that is at least acceptable at a gut level. But the likes of Zimbabwe, China, North Korea, or Cuba? These we must convince too? Or agree to their conditions that are objectionable as their price? And we are condemned for saying that maybe these states are not exactly worthy of listening to?

Fine. Let’s go. The international community as currently constituted is a joke. It prefers agreements and treaties that sound good while the signers quietly undermine and obstruct those words; while condemning us for stating in the light of day our objection to a treaty and refuse to sign. Good Lord, as if our responsible use of mines is comparable to the regimes and groups that plant them all over the countryside to kill indiscriminately. If the international community can complain when we do not submit to a treaty we did not sign and ratify, the one establishing the International Criminal Court (does anybody actually believe we are incapable or unwilling to prosecute any of our soldiers who might violate the laws of war?), why can’t we start a new UN? The current one is pushing sixty and freezes the victors of World War II (jeez, are the French lucky) as the permanent veto-wielding members of the Security Council. Plenty of nations would actually welcome a new international organization reflecting the new world.

Let’s begin with a new security council: The United States. Russia (as long as they are not in the EU). China. Japan (to show the world that you don’t need nukes to be a permanent member). India (if China is in, this huge democracy should be in too). The European Union (hey, they want to be one rival superpower—great, they get one seat.) Plus we’ll grandfather in any nation already a permanent member which is not a member of the EU (this to urge the British to get out of the EU and to annoy the French who will be torn between their lucky permanent seat in the current UN and their beloved EU). Any member can veto as now. No rotating members but a mechanism to accept new members, perhaps with veto power but maybe not. You have to earn your way on.

The new general assembly will be limited to democracies. Since we will start the body, we get to define the initial members. Some type of mechanism for accepting new democracies and expelling failed democracies already in will be needed. We can establish a leaner and more focused bureaucracy.

In the spirit of the ICC, this new body’s resolutions will be binding on any state whether or not it qualifies for membership. Actually, no, that would be wrong. Although a non-member that violates the charter could be subject to punishment, of course. But no state not a member can appeal to the body for armed protection or aid or loans, other than emergency aid for natural disasters.

Yessirree, start a new League of Democracy (note, the presence of China makes it not quite a league of actual democracies, but we can still have the ideal as a goal around which we organize the body) that can actually do us some good. Base it in Oklahoma City. Fund it generously. Withdraw from the UN and cancel our funding to that body. Let it go on debating in New York City as long as they like. And as long as anybody else wishes to pay for it. We will not be bound by it.

I’m actually mostly serious. We should at least discuss it. Why enshrine a body that represents the situation at the end of World War II? After all, the world did not at that time revise the post-World War I League of Nations. Now we’ve passed through the post-war era and even the post-Cold War era. We’re in a new world now and we are two organizations behind. Indeed, sometimes the UN seems to be in another world altogether. Any world body that can defend or run interference for the likes of an Iraq is no force for peace and justice.

UN Authority

Would I be out of line in asking just what UN resolution authorized the French to go into Ivory Coast? Sure, I know American forces are there too but hey, we’re unilateralists. What does the world expect? But what the heck are the French doing? Aren’t they major proponents of UN authority? Shouldn’t they be letting those poor people in Ivory Coast sort out their own lives without heavily armed Western soldiers adding to their misery? Sure, they rescued thousands of Westerners but were any actually hurt before the intervention? I don’t think so. It seems the French anticipated harm to foreign civilians and acted to preempt any hostile move. Hmm, shouldn’t the world be denouncing the French or something? Shouldn’t the African street be enraged? Sure, the French undoubtedly have some treaty or agreement with their former colony but does that erase the need for the UN to decide what violence is appropriate? Surely, a bilateral agreement doesn’t trump the pureness of the UN in deciding what the response must be? Shouldn’t we have waited for the massacre first, if indeed it happened at all, so we can all light candles for the French and declare "we are all French" in solemn speeches? I’m almost feeling sorry for losing the chance to shed a tear for the French (just a little bitter, wouldn't actually wish any harm to any French).

Don’t get me wrong, I thank the French for their actions. They protected a lot of Americans, too. The French did the right thing. But don’t we have the right to keep hundreds of thousands of our citizens safe without waiting for the first strike? The stakes are higher for us and we will act—just as the French acted.

The Baghdad Three

I just listened to Representatives Bonior and McDermott speak about their trip to Iraq.

Representative Bonior said the three Representatives went to Iraq because they wanted to impress upon the Iraqi government and the people of Iraq that they must allow inspections? Does he have any idea what he is saying? Does he really think that the people of Iraq have any say in it? He speaks of talking to various people on the streets as if they would tell Representative Bonior the truth about their fears. I suppose he thinks the Iraqis will write letters to the regime to beseech them to allow unfettered inspections.

He raised the depleted uranium issue, which is bull. No studies whatsoever done by the UN, the United States, or the British indicate any unintended harm from this weapon. It is a dense round that penetrates armor on tanks and other armored fighting vehicles. Indeed, we use it as armor to protect our tanks too. His other statistics that he spouted are doubtful as well and his lie that the sanctions cause all problems is a lie. Saddam has refused to comply with UN resolutions to disarm (and other requirements) resulting in the sanctions. Plus, he is selling plenty of oil. If he wanted to buy food and medicine, he could. How else do you explain the success of the Kurdish areas which operate under the same sanctions? The Kurds want to feed their people, however—that is the difference. The responsibility is Saddam’s and his alone. Representative Bonior’s espousal of these propaganda lines is disgraceful.

Representative McDermott said he is motivated by interest in the safety of the American people and soldiers. But he wants the UN to back anything we do. We must give the Chinese a veto, the French a veto, and the Russians a veto. He is comforted by Iraqi assurances that the Iraqis will allow unfettered inspections. He at least said he thought Saddam lies. He clearly doesn’t believe his statement about Saddam’s truthfulness, otherwise he might note the internal contradictions in trying to mesh his two beliefs. It was merely a lie he had to say to deflect criticism of his decision to attack the President from Baghdad. He is willing to safeguard the American people with more inspections that have no chance of succeeding. He will likely keep up this folly until we invade or until the Iraqis unveil their bomb.

The third representative has been out of the news. I would love to hear what he says. I can only believe that he has decided he has tied himself with a couple of kamikazes and he doesn’t want to go down with them.

Still, as long as most members of Congress don’t fall for this bunk, these representatives, who the Iraqis clearly believe are useful to their propaganda, are useful to the US government as well. They embarrass those who might have some sympathy with not invading but who cannot accept their trip to Baghdad to spout their thoughts. And they gave Saddam hope that he can actually avoid invasion. That is useful. Saddam will gamble he can win it all. He has for eleven years, after all, fooled the international community. His quest for dominance of the Gulf, which he launched in 1980, has been foiled by the Iranians and then America. I bet he doesn’t believe he can start over again from scratch if he gives in to unfettered inspections. He has waited a long time to be in the position to win it all and he will throw the dice again. His run is almost over.


This is just speculation, but since the air raid at H-3 a few weeks ago or so, and since American forces completed exercises in Jordan., could the reports of special forces troops being seconded to the CIA mean that American forces based in Jordan are scouring western Iraq for the demanded "smoking gun?" I think the evidence so far is more than compelling enough to invade. But then, I’ve long thought a final reckoning with Iraq was long overdue. His single-minded pursuit of nuclear weapons is way too unsettling for us to allow Saddam to get nuclear weapons. His brutality is a bonus that makes ending his regime a service to humanity as well as being in our national interest.

But a lot of people have painted themselves into a corner. Unwilling to defend Saddam (except for the three gentlemen from Congress who went to Baghdad to bizarrely endorse Saddam’s past actions), they say, "Of course he must go, but where is the evidence of his weapons of mass destruction?" Since Saddam has flatly denied having any, it seems to me that we could get a pretty unanimous vote for war if American forces could extract some damning evidence from Iraq. The Baghdad Three would still deny the validity of the evidence, but few others could ignore the modern equivalent of U-2 photos of Soviet missiles in Cuba. Since Iraq would have to launch from western Iraq to hit Israel, that is a logical place to look.

As I said, I don’t think we need this level of evidence. I’m convinced by the public information without insisting on one silver bullet piece of evidence. But I sure hope we are using all this time dancing with the Security Council over the form of sham inspections to pull out a SCUD warhead with VX jammed in it. That would finally settle the issue. Just speculation, but I’d want this if I was president.

Tuesday, October 01, 2002

Simple Arguments

Representative McDermott, lambasting President Bush for wanting to end the threat of Iraq to America, reveals an interesting failure displayed by opponents to war generally. Leaving aside the odious nature of the three Congressmen’s visit and pronouncements (and leaving aside the usefulness of their visit to the regime change proponents), what about McDermott’s charge? I’m not talking about his belief that Saddam Hussein is more truthful than our president. How can I argue against a mind that actually believes that? I won’t even try. I won’t even try to address the strange idea that Americans and Iraqis need to get out of the way to allow inspectors back in. Why are both countries given a balanced role here as if both are eager to disarm Iraq of weapons of mass destruction? And why does a defender of the representative’s charge that the US is being the bully on the block? How is this possible? How can we—who are going to stop Saddam—be given the bad guy role? That someone can say this to the press is telling. Amazing, too.

What about his charge that the reasons for invading Iraq change?

Certainly, different reasons have been more or less prominent in the debate, but does this mean that the ones not discussed at any particular moment are suddenly not reasons? Why do the anti-war people demand ONE single unified theory of regime change? Why? Because if they insist on one reason they can always argue that others are arguably just as bad or worse on that ONE issue and argue for doing nothing—it would be hypocritical you see. The hypocrisy issue is an old one and always seemed to be raised if we targeted a communist state in the Cold War but left the Soviet Union alone—as if those charging "hypocrisy" would have supported immediate war against the Soviet Union!

Clearly, even if Saddam’s Iraq fails to be the worst in any one category, their standing in the top two or three in every odious category creates a triathlon of evil standing that demands action. Saddam’s single-minded pursuit of nuclear weapons at the expense of oil sales, his people’s health, and even his conventional military’s capabilities tell us the value he places on getting nukes, His history of aggression tells us he will use nukes to attack again. His history of gambling on the weaknesses of his enemies tells us he will use nukes to reach for grand objectives. He is too dangerous. It saddens me that American Congressmen would stand in Iraq and question our policy. That they have the right to go to Iraq and state their opinions is not in question. I do not have to respect them for their decision. They revealed no new information by going to Iraq. They only gave comfort to Saddam. Debate it here. That is their duty.