Sunday, May 04, 2003

May 2003 Posts Recovered from The Internet Archives

These are my May 2003 posts from the dead Yahoo!Geocities site taken from The Internet Archive.

"Weapons of Mass Destruction" (Posted May 31, 2003)
I should probably summarize my overview of the WMD issue regarding Iraq--namely the failure to find chemical weapons thus far. Critics say that the failure proves the entire war was waged in error. They say that Bush argued that WMD were the reason to invade and since there aren't any found yet, the war was unnecessary.

But how can they say this?

Sure, Blair argued exclusively that WMD were the issue and he does have a real problem at home over this, but what about here? Here, anti-war types complained prior to the war that there was no single reason to go to war. They complained that one day it was WMD. Another it was brutality. Another it was terrorism. And another it was a threat to neighbors. So how can the critics argue now that WMD was the only reason to wage war?

How can the anti-war types argue that our intel could detect an Iraqi program given the errors made? How can they say that inspections by the UN could work? How could they have argued that going to war would cause Saddam to use chemical weapons that were only intended to deter us from attacking Iraq? Clearly they thought Iraq had such weapons.

We must wait a while for our people to find the WMD programs. The bio trucks discovered clearly were illegal-and very dangerous. I expect we'll find more of the programs. Saddam endured sanctions for a reason. The reason is that he expected to be free of foreign inspectors eventually and then he could go to town. His programs may have been at a lower level than I expected, but the knowledge base of scientists and technicians was always the most important aspect. Funny enough, the anti-war complaints that preemptive war is wrong were more right in one respect than I thought--this really was preemptive, since Iraq did not have chemicals in firing condition when we attacked. I'm grateful for that fact.

I can live with overthrowing Saddam and ending his regime even if we find nothing more in regard to WMD in weaponized form. Although very surprising, to me this is a technical question about why our intel got it wrong. I do want to know why the intel was wrong. At worst, if pressure was put on the intel people to slant the reports, this is an intel scandal. I suspect it is probably more of CYA. Indeed, Tenet denied the charges. More than CYA, it could be political. The group of retired CIA and State Department employees gives away its political leanings by calling for the return of UN inspectors. The inclusion of State employees, which was left out in the initial stories to add credibility to the charges, should also tell us something. More interestingly, according to the article:
The group, which calls itself Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity, said the failure to find weapons of mass destruction after six weeks of searching "suggests either that such weapons are simply not there or that those eventually found there will not be in sufficient quantity or capability to support your repeated claim that Iraq posed a grave threat to our country's security."
The name alone suggests the pretense of the anti-war left. As if they have a lock on sanity. Only adding "and to end Racism" to the group's name would have really nailed it. (Actually, that would indicate likelihood of communist influence, I don't suspect that.) The disbelief that Iraq's ability to create WMD once international scrutiny was withdrawn and to only think current capabilities constitute a threat gives the game away. As I said, the knowledge base was key. I'm not enough of an expert, but it may be that the Iraqis didn't want to store weapons they did not intend to use yet. They may have deteriorated, creating a safety issue. They might have decided to destroy aging chemicals and keep the knowledge and empty shells (some of which we found) to make weapons on the eve of use. Saying the ability to make such WMD was not a grave threat to our security is a profoundly political decision and not an analyist's job. They may not have judged this ability to be a threat-I sure do. And rightly so, so did our political leadership.

But I hope that we can all agree that it would be wrong to withdraw and turn Iraq back to the Baathists. If you're willing to say that because of the WMD issue, you are truly heartless even aside from debating the intel and WMD issues. Face it, we had many reasons for overthrowing Saddam, and preventing him from getting nukes, germs, and chemicals was a real reason--I feel no shame that we stopped him at a more primitive level than I expected, since waiting 5 years would mean we would face chemical strikes if we fought Saddam. He's used them before. He'd use them again had we done nothing. Blair, who banked all on WMD, faces more of a problem than Bush and the US generally face.

Still, I hope we find a smoking gun. It may be in the heart of the Sunni region where we are just settling into governing and exploring (and where the low-level resistance is centered). I sure hope so anyway. Life would be much easier, I'll concede.

"AIDS in Africa" (Posted May 30, 2003)
Many months ago I posted a link to a scary story about AIDS in Africa and retracted my earlier skepticism about the crisis there. (I believe I had mentioned my questioning the Clinton administration claims that it was a national security issue. In my defense, when he saw virtually nothing else as a national security threat, highlighting this one may have been too much for me) It truly is something we must treat. Now, President Bush has signed legislation committing us to massive expenditures to fight the plague there. Money well spent I should say. 

"Doctored Intelligence?" (Posted May 30, 2003)
If true, this article about intelligence being manipulated to exaggerate Iraq's WMD programs is very disturbing. It does not undermine my reasons for supporting war against Saddam Hussein's regime. WMD were one of a triad of reasons to go to war and regardless of the level of his WMD programs in 2003, leaving him in power guaranteed he would have them and use them. Even without them, a rebuilt conventional military would threaten us. And even as is, his military and intel people were a threat to Kuwait and Saudi Arabia if our troops let down their guard or left the region. His brutality has been underestimated, if anything.

But this is Kristof and this is the NYT, so I'll withhold judgment on the report until other sources come up. It may be some CIA people covering their butts or opposed to administration policy. After all, even the UN said vast quantities of WMD materials were unaccounted for. Opposition to invasion was never based on questioning the existence of WMD, but the appropriate response to coping with such weapons. 

We may yet find the smoking guns. I sure hope so. Life would be immensely easier for us. But even if we find the smoking gun, it is entirely appropriate to question how the assessments were made. If they were deliberately twisted, we should know. And know who did it. I was perfectly willing to debate the issue of what to do about Saddam regardless of the exact state of his WMD programs.
This was a good war justly and legally embarked upon and conducted with meticulous care. It was the regime, stupid; to borrow a slogan concept, and we can rest more easily knowing Iraq will not be a regional threat and owner of WMD.

But I still want to know about the pre-war intel over Iraqi WMD.

"Asian NATO?" (Posted May 30, 2003)
This UPI article speaks of a growing US-India relationship, the redeployment of American forces, and the possibility of a more formal alliance of our friends in the region. Now this is certainly interesting. This article denies the Marine Corps move from Okinawa to Australia, however. I'll admit, that did seem odd to haul the Marines farther from Korea and Taiwan. It only seemed to make sense for contingencies in Indonesia or the Indian Ocean region. And that doesn't seem like an appropriate allocation of this force.

But a regional alliance anchored on the US, India, Australia, Japan, and South Korea makes sense. Add in smaller states to the alliance, and the Chinese will have a harder time becoming a regional threat to its neighbors.

We do need to reconsider how we deploy our troops around the world. Terrorsim, Balkan and Iraq duties, rising Chinese power, and the Cold War-era North Korean threat all compete for our few troops. Old patterns of thought must not hobble how we deploy them. 

"Congo" (Posted May 29, 2003)
I wish good luck to the French leading a peacekeeping force into the hellhole of the Democratic Republic of the Congo. They'll stay only until September 1. 

The French envoy said he expected the council to adopt as early as Friday a resolution authorizing France to "take all necessary means" -- including use of force -- to restore stability in Bunia, ensure the protection of the town's main airport and refugee camps and, if necessary, defend the city's population. South Africa, Nigeria, Pakistan, Sweden, Belgium, the Netherlands and Britain have said they may be prepared to provide troops or support for the operation, according to senior U.S. and French officials.

I dare say we won't lobby the Security Council to insist on 16 more resolutions. Seriously, though, stability in Congo is fleeting and I hope they do some good without suffering too many casualties. We helped by getting Uganda and Rwanda to withdraw their opposition to French intervention. It is tough to be optimistic about that country.

"ICC?" (Posted May 29, 2003)
Oh yeah, it would be a great idea to ratify the ICC and let our troops face this type of BS on a routine and American-sanctioned witch hunt. Three of our soldiers are being sued for the inadvertent death of a Spanish journalist in Baghdad when the hotel he was in was fired on by US armor. The soldiers are being accused of war crimes and murder, for Pete's sake! The journalists were in the middle of a freaking war, we warned them of the bloody obvious that it was dangerous (and they stayed nonetheless), and our troops were under fire and suspected that either the hotel was the source of fire or housing a forward observer. And did we level it? No, we fired on it briefly, unaware in the heat of battle that it housed journalists. Apparently, our troops were supposed to just take the fire on the odd chance a journalist might be near. The ICC would make this routine. It is shocking enough that this treaty purports to bind even non-signatories to its provisions. The administration should do everything in its power to sign treaties with other states to safeguard our troops from politically motivated prosecutions under this treaty. You can be damned sure that not too many Russians, Chinese, Cubans, Burmese, North Koreans, or any other blood-soaked regime citizens will face justice. But Americans? You bet. Our troops don't deserve this type of legal harassment after all the good they do.

"The Air Force Wants to Kill the Warthog?" (Posted May 27, 2003)
I love that plane. The Army loves that plane. Enemies on the ground hate that plane. Yet the Air Force wants to kill the A-10? I remember reading the articles about the new A-10 in my brother's Army Reserve magazine in the mid-70s. When I was in basic training, the A-10, officially named the "Thunderbolt II," flew on a firing range forward of our firing range to get used to seeing friendlies on the ground shooting. The sound of that ripping sound as the gatling gun fired was awesome. It really is a gun with wings strapped on it. The dedication of pilots who would train so as to make sure that gun fired at our enemies was reassuring. Even in my signal unit, where we were unlikely to need the plane directly, we remembered it. Our vehicle bumper number was A-10. We of course called ourselves the Warthog. I respect that damned ugly plane.

Such a cheap, simple, lethal, and durable plane should not be discarded. If I recall correctly, after the Persian Gulf War, the Air Force wanted to kill it then. Twelve years later it performed superbly once more. If the Air Force thinks it does not need it for many likely missions where stealth and speed are the only criteria, put the A-10 in the reserves. When it comes to real war with troops on the ground, the A-10 provides a service that no other platform can give the Army and Marines. It can loiter over the battlefield for hours and come in low to support the grunts when they get in trouble. And then it can limp home. Sure, it is getting old. But so is the B-52. Age should not be the criteria.

Save the Warthog.

"Memorial Day 2003" (Posted May 26, 2003)
Another Memorial Day following a war is marked. Mercifully few died in achieving victory. Their skill and valor coupled with our technology and organizational abilities allowed us to reach around the world twice since 9-11 and destroy regimes that saw 3,000 dead as just the beginning of what they would like to do to us. My guess is that the next Memorial Day will pass with no new wars to provide numbers of new dead to mourn and thank. Some will die in Afghanistan and Iraq and elsewhere in small numbers here and there. It is possible that North Korea could attack and force a war on us. It is possible that chaos in Iran after a revolution could lead us to intervene to secure WMD sites.

But today, we remember our dead from the Iraq War and past wars. Each and every one of them, whether volunteer or draftee, did their duty for their country. Victory is yet in the future however, and we cannot set down the burden of war yet. If we do, another 9-11 will destroy our quiet lives. When so many seem to have forgotten what has sent us on this path, it seems ridiculous to have to say we cannot rest when thugs who would kill us in our sleep walk freely. Pennsylvania, the Pentagon, and the Twin Towers are not memories so dim that I forget why we fight.

Pursue them to the ends of the Earth. Kill every damn one of the bastards.

"First MEF" (Posted May 26, 2003)
Just wanted to comment on an AP story from May 21. The article says the Marines will be out of the Gulf by August. More importantly, the article notes that the Marine Corps commandant, General Michael W. Hagee, stated that 68% of the Marine Corps' warfighting force was sent to the Gulf. Of the rifle battalions, 80% were sent. One hundred percent of tank and light armored vehicle battalions were sent. The Harrier force was 100% committed.

Clearly, the vast majority of the Marine ground force was sent. Although talk was always of the First Marine Expeditionary Force, it was usually assumed it was a division-sized force when discussing force levels. Although in peacetime this is a fine comparison, unlike an Army division, a MEF is more of a corps formation. I had said we committed 2+ Marine division-equivalents to the war. The percentages cited indicate that even this may have been an under-estimation. If the percentages refer to the total Marine force of active and reserves (3 active and 1 reserve MEF), it may have been nearly 3 divisions of ground forces in the Marine component alone.

I eagerly await more details of Army brigades committed. So far it looks like 9 brigades (with 3 brigades per division usual). Plus a reinforced British division. That is essentially seven divisions. This doesnt't even count 4th ID which arrived late, but could have reinforced if we hit hard resistance. I repeat, as I said earlier, that we were not thin on the ground when it comes to line units. We did carry out our plan for a Major Theater War. I don't know what the experts are talking about when they say we didn't have enough. Where numbers come up short are the support people like separate artillery brigades and logistics people. We relied on GPS-enhanced air power instead of lots of artillery and recognized that in Desert Storm we did not use 90% of what we sent to the Gulf. This is great news for a power projection military when it can send combat power without masses of combat support and combat service support needed too.

Ground forces are needed for decisive battlefield victory. Our air power was simply outstanding, but failure to note the numbers that really did hit the Iraqis will lead to future defeat if leaders really think "three divisions" can smash an enemy at low cost to ourselves.

"Regime Change" (Posted May 25, 2003)
The bombings in Saudi Arabia, apparently carried out by al Qaeda in Iran (which Iran now admits are in Iran, contrary to previous denials), may push the US to promote regime change in Iran.
About time.

The Defense Department is promoting this and the State Department is worried. The article notes:
"We're headed down the same path of the last 20 years," one State Department official said. "An inflexible, unimaginative policy of just say no."
Are they serious? What success has their "imaginative" policy of dealing with the thugs gotten us? An Iran that harbors and assists terrorists. An Iran that interferes in Afghanistan and Iraq trying to undermine our gains. An Iran that is pursuing nuclear arms. Has the State Department forgotten that Iran is on the Axis of Evil for a reason?

What State is really saying failed over most of the last 20 years is the policy of containing Iran. (And are the imaginative State people saying we really could have engaged the Iranians in the 1980s when they were in the feverish state of the Islamic revolution? The arms for hostages deal was certainly imaginative and it got us nothing from the "moderate" Iranians willing to talk to us) In addition, the State comment ignores the fact that the new developing policy is not just containment. This is rollback. 

I don't know how ripe for revolution Iran is, but Iran's need to import foreign enforcers to put down demonstrations, the widespread admiration of the US as expressed in polls, and hints that at least some Iranians would welcome a US invasion to overthrow the regime are signs it may be ready to exit the Axis of Evil. The July 9 (I think) planned demonstrations could be significant.

State Department arguments that we will discredit the so-called reformers and that Iran's government has no control over those who support terrorists are misplaced. The reformers have done absolutely nothing with State Department encouragement. And if the government cannot control what goes on, what is the point of getting along with the government? These factors argue against the protest that if such a strategy of regime change from within fails, Iran will have nukes and be hostile. Iran will have nukes since they've pursued them regardless of State Department's efforts and what makes State think nukes will be under control of the so-called reformers and not the ones who do what they want?

And what does State's "sophisticated" analysis lead them to conclude about Iran? Deputy Secretary of State Richard L. Armitage called Iran a "democracy."

Wow. I think I'd feel better if State wasn't in charge of this one.

Support the Iranian street and not the ineffective reformers who can't control Iran's hostile foreign policy and domestic repression. Like Iraq, Iran will only be removed as a threat when the regime is ended. Even an Iran without nukes has been a thorn in our side and a source of death through terrorism. 

It's the regime, stupid. Everything else is just (ineffectively) treating symptoms.

"Norway" (Posted May 22, 2003)
An article reminded me that Norway sent troops and fighter aircraft to help us in Afghanistan. Still, with all the states that help us, al Qaeda chose to pick on Norway? I still think the killer blonde explanation holds water.

"Battlefield Nukes" (Posted May 22, 2003)
There has been something of a furor over Pentagon plans to research small battlefield nuclear weapons. 

Opponents are aghast that we are itching to unleash nukes, with a lower threshold, against enemy troops. I am uneasy about nukes. After the Cold War, it has been nice (to say the lest) to get away from the nuclear hair trigger that we lived with. But I believe the scaremongers over this are over-reacting. We don't want to use nukes. We threatened to use them against massed Soviet tanks if they headed west to the Rhine, but that was a strategy of feared Soviet landpower dominance (at least in the short run, which might have been enough to boot us from Western Europe). Today, we are so superior in conventional land warfare that we would be fools to want to muck up the battlefield with radiation zones, and craters—not to mention the world's reaction to using nukes first.

But I don't think that the intended use is to defeat a battlefield opponent too tough for our conventional arms. I think it addresses a worry I have had recently regarding deterrence. Namely, during the war debate, some said we could deter Iraq since we could always retaliate with a devastating response. This bloodthirsty acceptance of nuclear mega-deaths was promoted even by leftist anti-war types who claimed war is not the answer. Their basic logic was that it was immoral to attack Iraq to prevent them from getting nukes; but if they got them and used them, well we can just nuke them back. How do they reconcile this logic? Easy, I suspect: they would never under any circumstances actually approve of a nuclear retaliation. They just said they did to stop the war.

And this reluctance to murder tens of thousands of foreign citizens unlucky enough to be ruled by a dictator willing to nuke us and dare us to shoot back would be known to our enemies with nukes. We have a conscience. They do not. Listen to this opponent of small nuclear weapons:

"To my mind, even considering the use of these weapons threatens to undermine our efforts to stop proliferation," said Senator Dianne Feinstein, Democrat of California.

Sadly, if our enemies think our leadership wouldn't even consider using nukes, our enemies will never believe we will retaliate with nuclear weapons. And be clear, should we ever be hit with a nuclear weapon and fail to retaliate with nukes ourselves, we will have kissed nuclear deterrence goodbye and declared open season on our cities. Even a blistering American conventional retaliation would not erase the psychological impact of letting somebody get away with nuking the world's only superpower.

So, we would need to retaliate and we would need to use nukes. But we don't want to kill innocents. What do we do?

Well, we could target the armed forces of the state that either used the nuclear weapon or harbored the group suspected of carrying out the attack. Then we invade and destroy the regime. Small nukes, cleaner than older models to contain the damage just to the site of the impact, would minimize the loss of innocent life and minimize the destruction that could hinder our conventional invasion.
What state would support any terrorists if they feared one of their sponsored terror groups might nuke us? What if we thought one of the groups they supported nuked us? It would be too dangerous to risk such a devastating response to the pillars of the state's power. 

Rest assured, development of small nukes does not mean our military will use them at will. With our conventional superiority, we have every interest in the world to keep wars as "normal" as possible. Deterring and responding to, if worse comes to worse, a nuclear attack on our homeland, requires nuclear weapons and it needs our enemies to believe we will use them. Threatening to destroy a city is not credible. We are better than our enemies. And they know it deep down. They count on it, even.
We certainly do need to consider the use of nuclear weapons.

We don't want to lose the credibility that is required for deterrence to work.

We certainly don't want to lose a city to prove our credibility.

"Norway?" (Posted May 21, 2003)
Reportedly, al Qaeda is urging attacks on America, Britain, Australia, and Norway


What on earth did the Norwegians do to warrant having the thugs urge their legions to "turn the ground beneath their feet into an inferno"?

I searched Yahoo! News for "Norway and terror" and all I could find even remotely damning was this article dated May 16 regarding a meeting between President Bush and Norwegian Prime Minister Kjell Magne Bondevik. His biggest apparent affront to al Qaeda was a statement that he would urge the French to be pragmatic and flexible in order to get a UN resolution that would allow rebuilding in Iraq.

Damn Norwegian cowboys! Who do they think they are trying to sidetrack the French from their unswerving support of anti-American whackjobs? No wonder al Qaeda is torqued at them.

Heck, maybe the author of the hate memo was rejected cold by some tall, blonde, drop-dead gorgeous Nordic woman when he tried his best pick up line on her in a dance bar (where he was disguising his strict Moslem faith by drinking and dancing with women in short skirts).

Seriously though, do we really want to "understand" what drives them to want to kill when they lump inoffensive Norwegians in with the main players in the Iraq War?

Just kill the SOBs and let historians worry about what motivated the extinct Islamist terrorist movement to this level of hate.

Welcome to the front lines of the defense of the West, Norway. Glad to have your company.

"It Takes a Village to Raise a Terrorist" (Posted May 20, 2003)
Max Boot calls for US money to support schools in the Islamic world that do not spread Wahhabi fanaticism as the Saudi-funded schools do throughout the Islamic world. 

Hear, hear! 

Enough silly talk of poverty as the "root cause" of terrorism. That is hogwash. If true, I dare say that West Virginians would be blowing up every federal building with Byrd's name it rather than sending their daughters to fight bravely in Iraq. If that is too flippant, Mali, Chad, Haiti, and Ethiopia should be known for their suicide bombers. Shoot, Bangladesh should be suicide-bomber-central, given its population. 

Let me repeat: poverty does not lead Moslems to crash passenger-filled planes into our buildings. Why should it be the height of Western multi-cultural "sensitivity" to assume that poor Moslems alone are prone to such violence? 

Yet the fact is, many Moslem countries are too poor to have decent or widely available primary schools. Poverty leads many Moslem parents to send their children to the only game in town—the Saudi-funded schools—where they learn hate. It would be far cheaper for us to fund schools that teach modern values than to try to end poverty so nobody wants to send their children to such schools. It is also a goal within reach rather than the centuries-long and probably doomed path to eliminating poverty everywhere.

But beware, don't let the American Middle East studies scholars design it, run it, or even get within 100 miles of one of the schools. If we make that mistake, we'll simply have two Moslem school systems that treat America as the enemy. And we'll be paying for one of them.

The schools are another front in the war on terror. This suggestion also highlights that this is a long war. Lightning military campaigns have been and will be necessary, but the quiet work of strangling the hate ideologies will take decades.

Come to think of it, we'd have three school systems teaching children to hate America and we'd be paying for two of them. While we're at it, maybe we can get our own public schools and universities to say nice things about American government and society. A brief, approving mention of freedom now and again might be nice. The least our colleges can do is refrain from banning the Minuteman as a school symbol. We need to believe in our country's inherent goodness to fight for our preservation, after all.

"We Really Don't Expect Too Much From the DPRK" (Posted May 20, 2003)
The North Koreans are issuing threats again. We really don't expect too much from them, do we? They threaten nuclear war and we all just react, "Oh well, that's their quirky way of asking to talk." The North, apparently, has every right to ask what South Korea is doing acting like an independent nation and conferring with their ally, America. Why, it's enough to get a pudgy psychopath all edgy:

North Korea condemned a recent summit between President Bush and South Korea's president, and warned Tuesday of an "unspeakable disaster" for the South if it confronts the communist state over its nuclear weapons programs.

The more "conciliatory" among us ask how much more we should give Kim Jong-Il to get him to stop those threats that disturb our tranquility.

The South Koreans would not be bullied, to their credit. They know that a North Korea with one or two bombs is bad enough—more would be cataclysmic.

It would be nice if people who sputter when talking about the axis of evil remark in quotation marks could work up even a little heartfelt outrage over the North's quirky "negotiating style."

"Why Is It Always the US That Has to Make Amends?" (Posted May 19, 2003)
The North Korean branch of the Axis of Evil is still open for business.

This associate professor understands the raging psychotic pronouncements out of Pyongyang that result from the fact that the regime is filled with raging psychos determined to lay waste to Seoul and as many Americans as possible. But if we apologize for the way we beat back their invasion of South Korea in the middle of the last century, things will be just fine:

Mr. Kim stands for more than just a desire to stay in power. America should focus less on his eccentricities and more on his ideology, especially since the anti-Americanism at its core is as heartfelt and popular as the anti-Americanism that led to 9/11 and other terrorist attacks. Diplomacy cannot succeed until the Bush administration begins addressing the historical basis for this hatred.

A good start would be a public apology for the excesses of the American air campaign in the Korean War: the saturation bombing of North Korean cities, the use of napalm, the attacks on irrigation dams in order to cause flooding. At the same time, President Bush should call on Mr. Kim to stop posturing about the "axis of evil" remark, which was tame compared with what North Korea's official press has been saying for the past few years about the United States, Pyongyang's main aid donor.

It is time for the president to demand that North Korea's official news media accord the same basic civility to Washington as to Seoul. In an isolated nation dominated by propaganda, this would be a significant sign that Mr. Kim is serious about wanting to improve relations.

We really need people to specialize in Reality Studies so they don't get bogged down in studying a country so much that they internalize the logic of the regime they study. Our past president goes on a lip-biting apologypalooza and yet that did no good. But if we would only say we are sorry to the North Koreans for fighting so successfully when they invaded our ally, then Kim Il-Sung would overlook that dreadful "axis of evil" remark. Who knows what set them off more, napalming their infantry or noting their evil? Yet the author is tough—we should insist they stop saying mean things about us, he says.

Then the topper at the end. Well, of freaking course the North Koreans want to improve relations with us. How else can this psycho, drug-dealing, civilian-kidnapping, proliferating, nutball regime survive if the United States thinks they should really be overthrown? You like cognac and starving your own people? Don't piss off the United States.

Honestly, I begin to think areas studies are a complete waste if you extend it beyond a bachelor's degree. 

"Taiwan Queston" (Posted May 17, 2003)
The Chinese are building up their missiles opposite Taiwan at a rapid clip. They continue to bolster their air and naval forces too. You know, were I the Chinese, I'd invade Taiwan about a month prior to the Peking Olympics. If Taiwan is indeed a central issue for the Chinese (and I think it is, the Northern Expedition by Chaing Kai Shek early in the 20th century shows what a small professional force with lots of cash can do to a divided China. I bet the Peking oligarchy fears Taiwan could actually repeat that historic experience as they resist the centrifugal forces tearing China apart.), I bet the Chinese would bank a lot on the world believing China would not dare do anything to upset their image with the world's focus on the Olympics. But when power confronts image, power wins for the Chinese. They are ruthless enough to do it.

Taiwan need Patriot PAC-3, diesel subs, a decent air force, and an army that will actually fight any Chinese invaders who use Norway '40 and Crete '41 as models.

This decade really sucks.

"Morocco Bombings" (Posted May 17, 2003)
Bombings in Saudi Arabia and now in Morocco. The Islamists thugs would really like to kill us, but any warm body will do. Jews, of course. Spanish. Moroccans. Saudis. Even Belgians who get in the way. Nobody, even those who would not fight the Islamists, are safe from Islamist fury. Now even the Saudis see that they must get off the tiger they tried to ride and kill the beast before it devours them. I think the killers are being isolated even as they show they are capable of killing.

Kill them all. Then we will win. Most Moslems and Moslem states want nothing to do with the killers.

"Weapons of Mass Destruction in Iraq" (Posted May 17, 2003)
The polls say Americans are not very concerned with the failure to find weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. The public still thinks the war was just considering the horrors that have been unearthed in Saddam's Iraq. I agree. The war is just. And in our interests. Saddam was a threat with conventional arms alone.

Yet the whereabout of Iraqi WMD is not an irrelevant question.

I expected little in the way of hardware for the nuclear program but the scientists and technicians still in place. I expected that if they could get fissionable material they might be able to cobble a weapon together fairly quickly but that they were unlikely to produce their own. I expected a bio warfare program with little footprint. I expected chemical weapons in firing condition.

So where are they? Americans may accept the war as just-and rightly so-but foreigners are too cynical to agree. Plus, we have a very real interest in figuring out how intelligence went wrong. And it did go wrong. And not just us. Although the French may have wanted to contain Iraq, the consensus was that Iraq had active WMD programs. This was not a matter of manufacturing evidence. What were the Iraqis doing keeping the UN out if they had nothing to hide? Why were we intercepting communications discussing weapons and even authorizing their use prior to and during the war? Why did Clinton in 1998 use language as alarming as Bush's this last year if the evidence was truly so thin? If we are wrong, we surely had reason to believe what we believed.

Yet it is early. We may yet piece together what was there. I don't buy the idea that Saddam and his cronies were misled by lower level Baathists into believing there was a real WMD program when they could not actually afford it given all the money going to palaces and bribes and corruption. My God, the evil of a system that would breed men who would subject their country to invasion rather than admit they had no WMD is too hard to comprehend.

I suspect Saddam had a longer range view than I thought. I think he lowered the profile of his programs to hide in the ambiguities of dual use products while maintaining the scientists and technicians in place to reconstitute the program once the French and Russians could get UN sanctions lifted. And sanctions and containment were collapsing until September 11. Even if reinvigorated, they would again have faded away. Why Saddam didn't just cooperate completely to get this done years ago is beyond me.

The key will be establishing the intent of Saddam to get those weapons and then to wield them to fulfill his ambitions of conquest and power. We did stop him from getting WMD. I don't doubt he wanted them and would have pursued them relentlessly if we had given him a chance. I still think we will have a picture of Saddam's programs by the end of the summer. I hope we find a smoking gun that will highlight Saddam's ambitions. Otherwise, our credibility will decline-as unfair as I think that would be.

"Post-War Iraq" (Posted May 17, 2003)
Powell wants a 15-0 Security Council vote ratifying our control of Iraq in the reconstruction phase. To get this we will have to allow a bigger UN role.

The more I think about it the more I agree. We need to get allies to share the responsibility for success-although authority must rest with us so decisions get made. Our allies and quasi-allies need a reason to want Iraq to succeed. To this end, although I think we should seriously think about nullifying Iraq's military debts and cancelling contracts signed by Saddam, I think even France should have the chance to profit in the reconstruction of Iraq. The stick of losing debts owed and contract signed punishes them for anti-American actions. The carrot gives them incentive to cooperate for future profit. Iraq benefits from cutting what is arguably illegitimate debt and gains the cooperation of the great powers. Plus, I think it would be a great signal to send that it is risky to loan money to psycho regimes.

I hate to say it, but we can benefit from UN cooperation and foreign nation cooperation. The UN may be a dysfunctional organization in many ways, but if we can benefit from it, so be it. We proved it can't hamstring us when we pursue our own safety after all. We can afford to work with it now.
Crudely put, I'd rather have the Russians and French inside the tent pissing out, rather than outside the tent, pissing in.

"Developing North Korean Strategy" (Posted May 15, 2003)
No links, but various articles today suggest we will in fact pull our combat troops south to put them in a more effective reserve posture as I advocated. We are also apparently turning off the bribe spigot to the North and may be preparing to intercept North Korean exports of drugs, bugs, nukes, and rockets too. All being done quietly. Again, I think this is the way to go, but as I wrote, it needs to be calibrated carefully to give them enough hope and fear so that they don't go to war yet still push the regime to collapse or serious dismantling of their nuke program. I have no idea what the right level is.
And the Japanese are preparing to increase their capability for offensive warfare in case they need to respond to North Korean attacks. This may be the worry that gets the Chinese to cooperate on North Korea.

It is nerve wracking to see action taken to address this nutcase regime, but it is a false sense of security to do nothing. We blissfully looked the other way and bribed them for a decade and look what we got—North Korean nukes. 

So many dangers have become apparent this decade. Unable to look away and pretend all is well, we have much to do.

It will be a particularly dangerous time as we pull back 2nd ID from the DMZ and hand off to the South Korean army. The Iraq War lesson may be enough to deter the NKs from rolling the dice (along with plenty of American air power in the Pacific during the change).

"France" (Posted May 15, 2003)
The French complain we have defamed them with an organized campaign. 

In a letter prepared for delivery today to administration officials and members of Congress, France details what it says are false news stories, with anonymous administration officials as sources, that appeared in the U.S. media over the past nine months. A two-page list attached to the letter includes reports of alleged French weapons sales to Iraq and culminates in a report last week that French officials in Syria issued French passports to escaping Iraqis being sought by the U.S. military.

We deny it.

I hope false leaks of purported French actions weren't made. No doubt there was no organized effort, but if officials deliberately leaked false or rumor-level charges, that is unforgivable. Even against France. Lord knows they do enough without a need to make stuff up, so why bother? And besides, false charges will insulate France from their real transgressions.

"International 'Justice'" (Posted May 15, 2003)
Ah yes, in one of the cleanest wars against a state in terms of sparing civilians, our conduct in the Iraq War is being scrutinized for war crimes. Of all the wars and conflicts that have raged, our conduct is uniquely horrible enough for inquiry. Some Belgian jerk is filing suit against Franks and a Marine officer for their conduct:

Lawyer Jan Fermon presented the complaint against Franks and a Marine officer he identified as Col. Brian P. McCoy to Belgium's federal prosecutors' office despite recent changes in the country's war crimes law to prevent such charges against Americans. 

Fermon said he was representing 17 Iraqi and 2 Jordanian civilians injured or bereaved by U.S. attacks, though he gave few details. 

"This is not a symbolic action; my clients want an independent inquiry into what happened," Fermon told reporters as he arrived at the prosecutors' office. Fermon is running in Sunday's elections for the small, far-left Resist group. 

Fermon said the accusations against Franks focused on the bombing of civilian areas, indiscriminate shooting by U.S. troops when they entered Baghdad and the failure to stop looting. He charged McCoy with ordering troops to fire on ambulances.

Is this the type of justice we should subject our troops to by ratifying the International Criminal Court treaty? The man is clearly using this for political purposes to increase his chances for electoral victory (although I have no doubt he also believes it—twisted views fervently held can certainly co-exist with raw political calculation). Yes, I know, under the revised Belgain law this suit probably can't go forward; but the point is such suits will take place where the law allows it. An ICC enshrining this practice is a mistake.

We need to pull every American out of Belgium. There is simply no reason to have NATO headquarters in a country that refuses to support us and which is hospitable to such ridiculous suits. Let the proposed Franco-German-Belgian-Luxemburg "force" take over the offices and enjoy Belgian hospitality. Move the NATO headquarters to Poland if our friends there would have it.

And don't even think of ever ratifying the ICC treaty. Do we really want this type of abuse from every whacko with a grudge, a law degree, and too much time on their hands? Our troops deserve better than that.

"The Islamists Threat" (Posted May 14, 2003)
Jim Hoagland writes about what torqued me off yesterday. He writes:

Road maps for Middle East peace are drawn up on the implicit assumption that rewarding Palestinian nationalism with a state will quell the holy bombers and their allies. The Bush administration will now face accusations that its campaign in Iraq triggered the horrendous carnage in Saudi Arabia on Monday night, which it will be claimed might have been otherwise avoided.

But such judgments defy logic and miss the bombers' point. Their target is the entire rational, secular political universe that we instinctively -- and mistakenly -- turn to for explanations of their behavior and our response. They attack not to create another Arab state but to turn the existing ones into a single fanatical theocracy that will eventually extend its control over other civilizations. However mad, their intention is clear.

Exactly. We cannot appease them. No grievance resolved will get them to say, "Today, I will kill no more Americans." 

Hoagland leaves out the similar complaint by one aspiring presidential hopeful that the war on Iraq prevented us from stopping the Saudi bombings this week by diverting our attention. What rot. We warned of the attacks. The Saudis even fought gun battles with the maniacs earlier. We tried to get Saudi security around those compounds increased!

The ambassador, Robert W. Jordan, said the request had been prompted by intelligence reports that by late last month had indicated that militants might be in the final stages of planning a terrorist attack.

"As soon as we learned of this particular threat information, we contacted the Saudi government," Ambassador Jordan said on the CBS program "The Early Show."

What more should we have done? How could we make the Saudis more vigilant and less sympathetic to the Wahhabi thugs who bombed the civilian compounds? How could we have done more absent the Iraq War?

Yet their hatred for us is no reason to fail to resolve grievances when justice demands it. As Hoagland said:

Creation of a Palestinian state is in the long-term interests of Palestinians and Israelis. Withdrawal of U.S. troops from Saudi bases makes sense now. These steps should be taken because they are right, not out of any misplaced hope that they will appease the bombers. They won't, any more than leaving Hussein in place would have. The holy warriors still would have struck when the opportunity arose.

But even as we resolve what must be resolved (and so drain the swamp of passive supporters of the terrorists), the fight must go on against those groups and states who will fight even if only a lone Christian enclave held out in upper North Dakota:

They leave Americans with no choice but to be ever more vigilant about safety -- and to track, confront and neutralize the fanatics wherever possible. Survival is now a step-by-step matter.

I hate to mostly quote and link, but I said what I wanted to yesterday on this topic. It's just nice to read a respected columnist say much the same thing.

"We Know Who Wants to be Next" (Posted May 14, 2003)
From Maclean's, a Canadian newsmagazine, comes the story that Iranians are disappointed that the U. S. Marines didn't keep going into Iran to overthrow the mullahs.

As Maclean's correspondent Adnan R. Khan criss-crossed Iran recently, he found a country desperate to overthrow the nation's clerics, who came to power with the revolt against the Shah in 1979 and continue to rule with an iron fist. Many Iranians told Khan they would welcome American troops if they were sent in to remove the leadership. While that is unlikely, Iranians' biggest ally may be a democratic Iraq in which religion and individual rights coexist, and from where tolerance and prosperity just might spread and bring the downfall of Iran's religious regime.

The issue of who is "next" misses a strong point that they are interrelated. North Korea would sell nukes to Iran. Iran would buy them. Iran would destabilize Iraq and Afghanistan. Stabilizing Iraq and Afghanistan undermines Iran's mullahs (and others).

I'm not sure whether success in Iraq will be more important to undermining Iran's mullahs than undermining Iran's mullahs will be to being successful in Iraq

Either way, the Iranian mullahs must go.

"What They Want" (Posted May 13, 2003)
Terrorists struck with suicide car bombs at housing complexes used by foreigners in Saudi Arabia. A number of Americans are among the dead and wounded.

This morning, on NPR, an analyst suggested this was in retaliation for the Iraq War and that this is exactly what the French were worried about.

What rot.

First of all, in an earlier post I cited a study showing that it takes 18 months to train a suicide bomber recruit to the point that they can set themselves off and go out in a blaze of Islamist glory. If, 18 months or more ago, these nut jobs decided we were definitely going to toast Saddam's regime, maybe this explanation will hold water. But otherwise, I don't think so.

Second, this isn't the first bombing against us or other Westerners—even in Saudi Arabia. So what explains the bombings prior to the Iraq War?

Ah, but you say the al Qaeda kooks are really upset at America's military presence in Saudi Arabia.
Then, my third point would be that we have announced that we will be pulling our military out and scaling back to the routine training presence we had pre-Desert Shield. Indeed, this withdrawal is possible because of the Iraq War.

But we won't pull out until the end of summer, you say. They don't believe we will leave until we are gone. That rage just can't be turned off by a press release, you know. Our soldiers are in their holy land.

Hmm. Good point. Yet my fourth point would then be that the suicide strikes were against civilians and not our military presence. Are you now saying that they really are upset at the 35,000 American civilians in Saudi Arabia? You have a point. But even if they all left, some nutjob would hear a Britney Spears song and blow up the local nightclub; or see some Saudi teen in a Bart Simpson t-shirt and fly into a rage and bomb a port. Or see … oh never mind, you get the idea. There will always be something to remind them of us, you see. We corrupt their people when near and we corrupt when far. And the logic of their belief system says that our teens listening to Britney and wearing Simpsons t-shirts even in Kansas City is an affront to their beliefs. You are either with them or against them.
Your final riposte might be to argue that war against Iraq was unwise since al Qaeda clearly exists (with the not unreasonable assumption that this was an al Qaeda attack). But nobody ever said al Qaeda was completely dead. And the location is probably a good sign, actually. Much like criminals usually strike their poor neighbors instead of hopping on the interstate and going to the rich neighborhoods, the al Qaeda thugs apparently find it far easier to strike in their own neighborhood. And it took them this long to come up with this. 

Much needs to be done to win, but this bombing hardly constitutes proof of an error in going after Iraq. It is way too early to give the French credit for foresight.

"Who Cares What He Thinks?" (Posted May 12, 2003)
McGovern takes exception to the notion that his brand of foreign policy, dubbed McGovernism, has been slighted as isolationist. He objects that he and his like-thinkers are branded as unwilling to use force to advance American interests when necessary. 

I think I'd rather take tank commander lessons from Dukakis.

He trots out his World War II experience as proof he is willing to fight to advance our interests. Then he derides Vietnam and Iraq '03 as bad wars. Of Vietnam, he says, "That war was a disastrous folly, as all literate people now acknowledge." I see. First of all, I concede his valorous service. I further concede it is far greater than my REMF service. He is certainly no coward and I would never say so. Second, he says our involvement in World War II was in contrast to Iraq where Saddam did not threaten us. Pray tell, by his apparent definition, just how did Nazi Germany threaten us? In 1941, they had no navy to mention; had no air force able to reach us; had no nukes; hadn't used chemical weapons; and had really just conquered France and some little countries hardly significant to our trade; plus was fighting Soviet communism. Sure, he may have been gassing Jews but that was an internal matter, right? And fight to free France? Come on! And defend Stalin? Why my word, we all know that war is not the answer. Third, is McGovern really arguing that Iraq was better off prior to April '03? Wow. Is he really arguing that Southeast Asia is better off with a communist victory over Saigon? Is it not possible that a free and independent South Vietnam would today be more like South Korea and Taiwan rather than like—well—Vietnam under the crushing weight of Hanoi's guidance? Tell me, I am literate enough to read his judgment if he uses short enough words.

And he is clear about World War II = "good" while Vietnam and Iraq '03 = "bad." But since he is claiming he is willing to commit force to defend us, what conflicts between 1945 and 2003 did he approve of? I'm not impressed with someone who says that, in theory, he admits there may be some circumstances that would make war just. But then can't point to more than one case. Heck, even I'm willing to concede that in theory and as a general rule, peace is preferable to war.

His cheap shot that we don't rank internationalists by the number of troops their country sends overseas—and then cites Hitler's Germany as the winner under these circumstances—is perhaps undermined by the vast numbers of Americans sent to defeat that dictator in the one war he thinks is just. His inability to distinguish between sending troops to foreign countries to conquer and enslave them as opposed to sending troops to rescue people should be Exhibit ZZ in the case why McGovern was unfit to lead us.

Certainly, the times you have sent troops overseas to fight is not the standard for ranking internationalism. But is adhering to various treaties that we have not signed or legally withdrawn from the standard? McGovern is very obviously confusing the concept of promoting American interests with an active foreign policy with simply doing what the world wants us to do. He may count the latter as "internationalism" but I do not. I say counting the number of times he would have been willing to undermine American security by refusing to take action or by surrendering to foreign whims and interests is certainly a measure for ranking who should lead us. Clearly, McGovern trusts foreigners more than Americans. Given his record of convincing Americans to let him lead us and protect us, I suppose that is understandable. 

"Iranian Rebels" (Posted May 9, 2003)
Although we have a ceasefire with Mujaheddin-e Khalq, we will now seek its surrender. The contradiction of using a group we consider terroristic to undermine Iran is too much. 

We could get the best of both worlds if we play our cards right. As the price for compelling MeK's surrender, we should force the Iranians to pull out their agents from Iraq. Their incitement of Shia anger in Iraq is counterproductive to say the least. Once Mujaheddin-e Khalq surrenders, we may be able to screen the members to weed out terrorists and mold a new rebel group that could be supported should Iran's regime begin to crumble. I hate to just discard a group when we would want to create such a group (with clean hands) to help us in Iran. Iran is next up to bat, after all:

The administration is attempting to call attention to Iran's nuclear activities, and is hoping that international pressure will induce Tehran to reverse course.

We are not about to rest on our laurels after the Iraq War and Taliban War. They were really campaigns in a larger war. In addition, the defeat of Iran would end Tehran's mischief against the stability of both Iraq and Afghanistan. Another point of contention with Tehran is that we want terrorists who are now in Iran. The Iranians have no business harboring al Qaeda refugees. We are negotiating with Iran to get them and MeK is surely a bargaining chip in those talks.

Targeting Iran helps to secure what we have accomplished thus far and continues the offensive against those who would inflict a nuclear, chemical, or bio 9-11 on us. With large numbers of Iranians eager to dump their mullah-run government, we have potential friends on the ground waiting for the chance to carry out an indigenous regime change. Knowing we back them will help a lot.

The rebels residing in Iraq are just the tip of the opposition to the Iran regime that may be emboldened to throw off their chains. With enough pressure, that regime can collapse, perhaps ending the chapter of resurgent murderous Islamism that began in Iran when the Shah was overthrown. Then, the vast majority of Moslems who want nothing to do with false jihads will be free to build instead of destroy.

"Chaos in the Streets?" (Posted May 6, 2003)
Critics say that we have too few troops in a country the size of France to prevent chaos.
What would you call it if, in the aftermath of the liberation of Baghdad, 11,000 Baathist regime supporters had been hunted down and killed by the Iraqi people? What if the US provisional government under Garner had hastily convened courts to head off further revenge killings, that then executed 800 more Baathists? What if Garner imprisoned 40,000 Iraqis and stripped as many of their civil rights in the new Iraq? What if we refused to prosecute Special Republican Guard troops for any crimes working for Saddam's regime on the condition that they join a special army that we then sent off to fight in Iran?
We'd actually call that post-World War II France. Just take the above description and read "Nazi collaborators" in place of "Baathists" and the former troops actually going to fight in Vietnam for the French. 
It seems we have a shocking history of failing to put enough soldiers into liberated countries to stop chaos from breaking out. What were we thinking in 1944? Did we really think several million soldiers plus armies from Britain and Canada, and even Free French troops, were enough to control a country the size of France? Didn't we know the French were bloodthirsty maniacs eager to settle scores?
What do you call it when revenge killings do not break out but a few artifacts from a museum are stolen?
That, you call Iraq in 2003. But make sure you claim 170,000 precious treasures from humanity's past have been looted. And be sure to neglect any historical context. Then blame it all on America for failing to send enough troops to police a country the size of France. And finally, when it turns out that the initial stories overstated the losses by four orders of magnitude, downplay the correction and go on to the next American outrage. I really don't think the poor, hungry zoo animals have gotten enough sputtering outrage. (Could we feed looters to the tigers?)
The bottom line is that we either have plenty of troops for the mission at hand. Or the French are considerably more bloody-minded than the Iraqis.
Just have a little patience. Shoot, the French still don't have a stable government nearly sixty years after liberation. What are they on now? The fifth republic or something?
"Red Line" (Posted May 6, 2003)
We must be careful in dealing with the psycho regime in Pyongyang.
Pyongyang "will take self-defensive measures, regarding it as the green light to a war" if Washington seeks a U.N. resolution authorizing economic sanctions against it, North Korea said in a statement on KCNA, its official news agency.

I suspect that UN sanctions on North Korea really could lead to war. North Korea has repeated this often enough to make me think that in Kim Jong Il's mind, he would have no choice but to go to war in response. Much like American sanctions before World War II led the Japanese to conclude that they had to strike America before Japan slowly starved, North Korea may have come to a similar conclusion.
This other article points to North Korea's paranoia, yet blames America for North Korea's perception that we are the ones on hair-trigger alert to invade them!
The most benign explanation for all this comes from Daniel Pinkston, a Korea expert at the Monterey Institute for International Studies. 
The North Koreans, he said, "believe they are under threat, they are very insecure, and they view the threat as coming from the U.S.
As a basis for the North's insecurity, he cites the administration's National Security Strategy report, issued last year. 
It said the United States must be prepared to stop North Korea and other "rogue states and their terrorist clients before they are able to threaten or use weapons of mass destruction against the United States and our allies and friends."

North Korea apparently was a paradise akin to Switzerland until that dastardly American report issued last year dared to note that North Korean nukes are a threat to us and that we should do something about them. That was some sort of crash rearmament program! In about six months North Korea went from an agrarian pacifist nation to one that can destroy Seoul even if doesn't use weapons of mass destruction. And they built a couple nuclear bombs to boot!
Honestly, how do some people get to be called "expert" on a subject? South Korean forces, backed by relatively small numbers of Americans, are so clearly in a defensive stance that it is an outrage to repeat North Korean claims without refuting them as utterly ridiculous. It is even more outrageous that the author does not go on to further point out that it is the North Korean military that is staged forward for offensive operations with little notice.
But I digress.
The bottom line is that even as we struggle for the right level of firmness to compel North Korea to give up its nukes, UN sanctions are probably too high profile. That may be a red line that the North Koreans have established that will result in the North Koreans attacking south in full force in the false belief that they are striking just in the nick of time before we invade the north. One can dismiss the second author's ridiculous claim that we have prompted North Korean paranoia and still accept this red line as real. 
We have some hard talks ahead of us. They will bluster. People here will panic. But never forget that even if the North Koreans can inflict serious casualties on us and the South Koreans, we can end their regime if they push us to war. We can hang tough on the details.
After Iraq, I bet even the thugs of the Pyongyang know this as well.
"Poverty" (Posted May 5, 2003)
Just as revolutionaries were usually middle class youngsters and not the poor on behalf of whom they fought, now we know that suicide bombers are not the desperately poor either. 
Thank you for this revelation.
And for many it is a revelation. The conventional wisdom in America, relabeled from the conventional wisdom on crime causes, is that if we could just get to the so-called "root cause" of poverty, we could end Islamofascist terrorism. It is hooey. 
Certainly, some help to alleviate poverty is simply a good thing to do, but alone all it will do is propel more people into the ranks of the educated middle class where they will be more likely to become terrorists. The terrorists leaders take these people and mold them, over 18 months, into suicide bombers. Said the article's author:
How do we combat these masters of manipulation? President Bush and many American politicians maintain that these groups and the people supporting them hate our democracy and freedoms. But poll after poll of the Muslim world shows opinion strongly favoring America's forms of government, personal liberty and education. A University of Michigan political scientist, Mark Tessler, finds Arab attitudes to American culture most favorable among young adults (regardless of their religious feeling) — the same population that recruiters single out. 
It is our actions that they don't like: as long ago as 1997, a Defense Department report (in response to the 1996 suicide bombing of Air Force housing at the Khobar Towers in Saudi Arabia) noted that "historical data show a strong correlation between U.S. involvement in international situations and an increase in terrorist attacks against the United States." 
Shows of military strength don't seem to dissuade terrorists: witness the failure of Israel's coercive efforts to end the string of Palestinian suicide bombings. Rather, we need to show the Muslim world the side of our culture that they most respect. Our engagement needs to involve interfaith initiatives, not ethnic profiling. America must address grievances, such as the conflict in the Palestinian territories, whose daily images of violence engender global Muslim resentment. 
Of course, this does not mean negotiating with terrorist groups over goals like Al Qaeda's quest to replace the Western-inspired system of nation-states with a global caliphate. Osama bin Laden seeks no compromise. But most of the people who sympathize with him just might.

So, most Moslems think the US is just fine and so we must show them the side of our culture they most respect? Then how did they come to like us already? And why does it take 18 months of indoctrination to turn someone into a suicide bomber? Their resentment over our "failure" to solve the Palestinian question is something I can live with as long as it doesn't lead to attacking us. I've got some resentment, too, if they care to work on my grievances. And I promise not to fly a plane into one of their buildings. We can't be that bad, apparently, in the big picture. On the other hand, the author says the killers in Islam think ill of us and cannot be dissuaded from attacking us. He says there is no point in negotiating over their ridiculous aims. Yet he cites a study that says our involvement in world events correlates with terrorism. Will altering our foreign policy really cause those who want an Islamic caliphate in St. Louis to live in harmony with us? What "grievance" shy of our very existence can we address that will get them to stop killing us? Still uncertain? Try "zero."
One thing I think the author gets right is his claim that shows of force do not deter the haters from attacking us. This is true. They think their faith will overcome our technology. As long as they live, they will attack. Demonstrations of power are not enough—effective use of it is necessary. As far as I'm concerned, the root cause of terrorism is that terrorists live and move freely. We must quietly (so as not to upset the street in Berkeley, Paris, and Cairo) kill or imprison the terrorists and keep them on the run. 
The more time they worry about dying or getting arrested, the less time they have to plan terror attacks.
"He Can Do No Wrong" (Posted May 5, 2003)
The silence over Cuba is deafening. 
Despite years of oppression, he is supported by many in the West who overlook his torture and violence against his own people. They lie to themselves and the rest of us that his so-called wonderful health care system and education programs excuse all else. Right. Let the Hollywood stars send their children to Cuban clinics and schools. They proclaimed America would not liberate Iraq in their name, but apparently, no Fidel crackdown is brazen enough to condemn. While we waged war in Iraq, Castro rounded up the usual suspects and nobody in Hollywood could raise a voice about it—except in some cases to say we provoked it by talking to dissidents. In a lightning 2-week-plus process, alleged hijackers were convicted, sentenced, and executed. Appeals took place from 2:14 am to 2:23 am on a Friday, apparently. So what do they say about our capital punishment process that stretches a decade or more? Castro's crackdown and rapid conviction draws no protests about due process and the only effect of the visible repression campaign is to delay an HBO fawning documentary about Castro. 
But even silence in the face of Castro's repression was not enough for some in Hollywood. Some have joined with self-proclaimed intellectuals to come to his defense with a declaration of support for Fidel, blaming America for the crackdown and worried not about what the Cuban brutality means for the Cuban people but about how America might react. Castro dished out this worry and the idiots who are so useful to him lapped it up.
At the Thursday rally, Mr. Castro told critics, particularly on the left, that their words could be used to justify a U.S. invasion.
The intellectuals who signed the declaration defending Cuba apparently agree, though they did not specifically express support for Mr. Castro's policies.
The declaration concludes with a call to governments and others to "uphold the universal principles of national sovereignty, respect for territorial integrity and self-determination, essential to just and peaceful co-existence among nations."

Lord, the Hollywood elite hates any American in uniform but love Castro's fatigue-clad guerilla pose. Second-hand smoke is a crime but they love Cuban cigars. They complain that there is no debate over foreign policy in America, yet ignore the enforced silence in Cuba, reinforced by 4-hour Fidel speeches in the hot sun. The Hollywood elites whine that people don't want to watch their movies after they complain about a popular American foreign policy yet think nothing of Fidel arresting a brave handful of Cubans who even talk about talking about dissent. Any racial slight or offense in America is a sign of Jim Crow returning, yet Cuba's extra oppression of its Black population is not worth mentioning. 
All this and more is not enough to get Castro's Hollywood fans to express any disapproval. What on Earth do they think the "greater good" of Castro's dictatorship is that it should silence any criticism of Castro? He can do no wrong in their eyes. Oh, there is one thing. He could continue his policies unchanged yet declare his full support for all American foreign policies and welcome an American expansion of the Guantanamo Bay base. Then Hollywood would finally protest Castro. Maybe that's our problem. Secretary Powell should convene a meeting with Castro, go in grim faced, and then emerge to the cameras, smiling and back slapping Fidel. Powell could proclaim, "We have no problems with this great leader! We can do business with him!" Hmm, it is possible that Rumsfeld might have to do it to get the full effect.
Oh, and in another development that should herald the withering of the UN's political bodies, Cuba is reelected to a position on the Human Rights Commission.
This is all normal everyday activity for the world "community." If your community is filled with crack dens, I guess.
"Chemical Weapons" (Posted April 29/May 4, 2003)
Finally! Been trying to post since April 29th but my file manager wouldn't let me change anything. I know I said on the 25th that I was going to slow down, but this was ridiculous. Customer service got it fixed.

Ok, I'm into the nausea phase of whatever crud virus I inhaled. I wish I could blame it on reading columns by Frank Rich, but I'm usually made of sterner stuff (apparently, Rich would have us use thermobaric bombs to kill looters at Iraqi museums, though use of force against Saddam's regime was wrong of course). Must post.

I confess to being surprised that we have not come yet up with ironclad evidence of Iraqi chemical weapons programs or stocks. If you'll recall, I considered Iraqi WMD programs as one of three reasons for going to war against Iraq-his pattern of aggression (conventional and terrorism) and his despotic brutal nature being the other two. I think the comments noted by Blair critics in this article saying that failure to find WMD proves the war was unnecessary is bunk. This was a good war.
Yet weapons of mass destruction were a major part of why I thought Saddam was a threat. (I love writing in the past tense) Let's go back to the beginning on the WMD question. First of all, our assessment of Iraqi WMD capabilities was based on UN inspector information. We know what they had. We know what they used and destroyed verifiably. We can subtract. Even opponents of war admitted to the WMD (except for a few ANSWER fanatics) and claimed inspections could find the WMD programs. What the anti-war side said was that nukes were not imminent and that we had time to use inspections before we needed to think about war. They further said that war would prompt Saddam to use chemicals he wouldn't otherwise use. Too late for them to say that they now think Saddam had none. Of course, they all also claim they all knew the war would be over fast--I guess I misunderstood what their warnings about a Vietnam quagmire meant.

More important is the difficulty we are having verifying what we all agreed Saddam had. Clearly, the pro-inspections side has some explaining to do if they think that the UN could have found the WMD programs given that Saddam apparently dispersed them to levels under that which may be easily detectable. Claims that the US was withholding actionable intelligence is now shown to be false. The Iraqi failure to use chemicals against us is at least partly explained by the low, under-the-radar level of the WMD programs. It is possible that it is the sole reason, meaning our speed of invasion did not hinder chemical use. Maintaining the people-the scientists, and technicians-as a knowledge base, with some dual use equipment and materials that allowed research and practical engineering problems was clearly the priority. Keeping actual stocks for immediate use was clearly not the top job. Some reporting has suggested that the Iraqis actually destroyed some materials just prior to the war. So, pro- and anti-war sides agreed that Saddam had WMD programs. His impoverishing of Iraq in order to keep inspectors out of Iraq makes no sense even in his twisted world view unless he was hiding WMD programs. At some point, Saddam expected the international community to walk away at French and Russian prodding and then he'd be off to the races. Saddam had long-term goals for his WMD programs and did not anticipate needing them to deter or defeat an American invasion. That is scary to me.

So, lack of obvious WMD sites surprises me. But only because I assumed Saddam wanted stocks to fight us. Saddam apparently had a longer term strategy of maintaining a base of knowledge that could reconstitute his programs once free of UN scrutiny. The UN inspections would never have found a smoking gun under these circumstances. There would usually be a civilian purpose for anything discovered that could be dismissed by Saddam's paid and unpaid apologists. Anything real discovered could be excused as an oversight. So give us time to find the programs. Saddam had twelve years to adapt his programs to operate under superficial scrutiny by the UN. Now that we are questioning Iraqis, reading files, and gaining control of Iraq on the ground, we will unearth the programs. Opponents of war would do well not to bank too much on the failure to find them so far. The pro-war side never banked it all on one reason. Indeed, the anti-war side derided the pro-war side for its "shifting" reasons. After all, evidence of Iraqi-al Qaeda links is emerging despite the sophisticated sniffing that only ignoramuses could think secular Saddam could cooperate with Islamofascist bin Laden.

And if the anti-war side is really arguing that the war was unjustified, should we give Iraq back to the Baathists? We couldn't just withdraw, after all, since that dreaded "instability" would break out and perhaps another museum would be looted. We'd have to turn Iraq back to the Baathists for the sake of justness and order. And if the anti-war side doesn't think we should return the country to the Baathists, they are admitting that the war was just.

Clearly, Saddam was determined to have chemicals, bugs, and nukes. Leaving him in power would have guaranteed that he would get them eventually. Has North Korea taught us nothing?

Still, I admit I will feel better when the third leg of my reasons for supporting war against Saddam's regime is found. Let the retreating remnants of the anti-war crowd who still fight the last war get one more drubbing as they cling to their last hope that American victory can be discredited.