Sunday, February 01, 2004

February 2004 Posts Recovered from The Internet Archives

These are my February 2004 posts from the dead Yahoo!Geocities site taken from The Internet Archive.

“The Iran-Iraq War Ended in 1988” (Posted February 29, 2004)
"There are no Iranian POWs in Iraq and no Iraqi POWs in Iran now," the official Islamic Republic News Agency quoted Brig. Gen. Abdollah Najafi, head of Iran's POW Commission, as saying.
Yessirree, good thing we didn’t establish Gitmo prison back in 1988. Because that might have just given the green light to countries to keep prisoners long after a war ends. Yep, nobody would ever do anything horrible without the US first doing something even remotely comparable. Yeah, bad guys just wait for us to create a tiny loophole so they can drive a truck through it. They’d never do anything against hallowed international law unless we give them an excuse. If only we could remain pristine in our behavior, everyone else would be upright members of the international community. Not that left-wing thugs actually do anything wrong, according to certain circles that see evil in the most mundane US decision. I mean, passing the pretty mild Patriot Act was evil and uncalled for even though Islamists are doing their darndest to kill us. That’s way different than the repression of Castro, for example, which is perfectly justified by our hostility toward his communist dictatorship.
Yeah. I’m done now.
“Trend or Lull?” (Posted February 29, 2004)
I get email notices of all US casualties. Maybe I’m fooling myself but I feel that reading about every casualty is a responsibility I have inasmuch as I support the war.
I’ve noticed a lull in the notices of combat casualties and I hated to bring it up.
This article notes that there has not been a US soldier killed in action in Iraq since February 19.
I’m certainly happy to read that. We’ve had other lulls before, however, so it is hard to say whether it is a trend or we just rocked the regime loyalists and Islamists back on their heels and they are regrouping to strike again.
We need to keep on the offensive, though. If we sit in our fortified bases, the enemy will be free to act. I see no sign we are doing that, but it is worrisome enough of a prospect to watch for it.
“Why I’m Skeptical” (Posted February 29, 2004)
About a large or prolonged US presence in Haiti. From Strategypage:
The US was ticked off at Aristides refusal to crack down on the use of Haiti to transport illegal drugs from South American to the United States. It's widely believed that Aristide has made a deal with the drug cartels to take a large bribe to allow the drug operations. A lot of the money has gone to pay pro-Aristide street gangs. But Aristides anti-business attitudes (he's a socialist) did nothing to help massive unemployment. A cut of the drug money was not enough to keep the gangs content. Pro-business media kept hammering away at Aristide and the gangs began to change sides. The problem is, there is no one obviously better than Aristide to take his place. Honest politicians are in short supply, and if one should win the presidency, his life would be in danger if he came down hard on the various scams and rackets that permeate the government and business sector. It's an ugly situation, which may get worse with Aristide gone. Aristide preached class warfare, and many of his impoverished, and now armed, followers, are all too ready to go after anyone belonging to the middle or upper classes. Looting is widespread in the capital. Anyone with money is fleeing, or preparing to fight. Many of those in the armed opposition are known criminals or members of previous military governments. Peacekeeping may work. Then again, American marines occupied the country from 1915 to 1934. That period was one of the few periods when Haiti had honest government and prosperity. But once the marines left, the civil strife and dictatorship soon returned. Anyone planning on peacekeeping had better be ready for a long stay.
Our long history of intervening in Haiti is matched by an equally long history of needing somebody to intervene to straighten things out.
Excuse me if I express doubt that we can do any good other than to help facilitate yet another transfer of power from one thug to another with minimal disruption during the transition. Let’s keep our sights low. If it makes you feel better, we can plan for a bigger intervention in the next rebellion.
Mostly, I want to know why the usual peace protester suspects over here aren’t protesting US intervention.
Good luck to Supreme Court Justice Boniface Alexandre who appears to be in charge now. He’ll need it.
“I Shudder” (Posted February 29, 2003)
I like Max Boot’s stuff. I’m currently reading his The Savage Wars of Peace. I agree with much of what he writes as far as the proper approach to small wars. What especially strikes me, as most history does, is how little things really change. Some of the history he writes about could be from last week or last year if you took away the names. People and institutions react to events much the same now as they did 50, or 100, or 200 years ago. I imagine the Athenians and Spartans would look pretty familiar, too.
But this article on peacekeeping is—what? It’s just wrong.
Boot wants the US military to spend more time studying and preparing for peacekeeping. He suggests we devote a couple divisions who will train for peacekeeping. He suggests this because he wants us to do something about the failed states of the world.
Those failed states are sad, but the fact is that their failures rarely impact our national security. He states they do, but how? Sure, some failed states become recruiting grounds for terrorists but there are plenty of actual states that are terrorist threats. Failed states without Islamists stirring things up are just local cesspools with few repercussions beyond their region. And if hopped up locals aren’t funded and organized by others—from real non-failed states—they’d just be local madmen. And sure, some failed states become breeding grounds for disease, but SARS and bird flu and countless other viruses sweep out of Asia’s not-failed-states on a regular basis. Failed states tug at our conscience but they should not tug or military hither and yon, consuming our volunteer forces in efforts to stem the tide of misery. Even if we focused our military on peacekeeping, we would not have enough troops to police the world.
Can we study stability operations so that we can adapt our military when needed? Sure. I have no problem with that. And our military in Iraq seems to have done quite well in adapting to the Baathist insurgency after using its warfighting abilities to crush the Iraqi military with amazingly few casualties—fewer casualties than we suffered in single battles in Vietnam. We aren’t using massive firepower. We are rebuilding the country. We are building local forces to carry on the burden of policing and guard duty. A focus on warfighting doesn’t seem to have harmed our ability to adapt. This takes time, however, and we must be patient.
And if we turn our troops into peacekeepers, they will be unsuited to war. We will commit them to war because they will still look like soldiers, but they will just be cops with cooler uniforms and automatic weapons. I still want our Army and Marine Corps to be able to crush conventional foes. This mission is not gone. Not by a long shot. If we want troops more suited to peacekeeping, build even more MP units. We are already boosting our MPs by 16-17%, as I recently read on Strategypage. We could use more. Add more separate MP battalions and even brigades that can be plugged into one of our divisional headquarters to assist the infantry units that can be retrained for particular missions.
But make peacekeeping their first mission? I shudder. I remember in 1991, the Iraqis were particularly afraid of Army troops in green camouflage uniforms—the ones from West Germany. The Iraqis were more afraid of them than the brown and tan-uniformed XVIII Corps because the Iraqis knew the Germany-based US troops trained to fight the Red Army—the first team. And if they trained to beat the Russians, what would they do to the Russians’ students the Iraqis?
Turn our troops into cops and they will get no respect from foes. And we won’t deserve respect.
But the biggest part of Boot’s article that I strongly contest is this:
It's time to resurrect the idea of a standing U.N. army, as a supplement, if not replacement, for the other forces mentioned above. The key to making it work would be eschewing the old U.N. way of doing things, which consists of asking for military contributions from a lot of countries with minimal capabilities, no record of working together and differing strategic interests. This produces low-quality blue helmets that are the laughingstock of thugs everywhere.

The U.N. needs a tough, professional force like the French Foreign Legion that would not quail before Haitian gang leaders or Serbian ethnic-cleansers. Members of such an outfit would have to be recruited on merit and trained together; it could not be cobbled together at the last minute from the military riffraff of Third World dictatorships. To make it work, the U.N. Department of Peacekeeping Operations would have to beef up its command, intelligence and logistical capabilities. The U.N. would also need to improve its ability to run failed states in a Kosovo-style receivership.
My disdain for this idea knows no limits. Who in their right mind would trust the UN with effective, lethal force? When we are seeing the dishonorable behavior of the UN members in the Oil for Food travesty. When we see who gets on the UN human rights committee and who gets left off? When the very basis for membership in the UN is an affront to rule of law, democracy, and good government? To whom would the troops swear allegiance? And just where the heck would we base this magical force? What a dream for the thugs of the UN! Just who would decide where it should go? If the thugs of the world have a say, how could it be an effective force for justice, order, and peace? If we order it around, it won’t have the “legitimacy” of the so-called world community.
We shouldn’t try to exhaust ourselves saving the world from itself. We shouldn’t try to transform our military into a world police force. We shouldn’t pretend that we can get the vaunted “international community” to do it, either. Lord, I think it is folly to believe the UN could have an effective standing force. But honestly, I’d be more fearful if it could.
We should do what we are doing but do it better. Use our forces to protect our national security. Assist friends who want to police their neighborhoods. Assist poor governments with money and advice—hopefully with strings attached to improve their effectiveness. And sometimes, just sometimes, embark on missions of choice to settle local disasters and rescue the locals.
I don’t know what the heck Boot is even talking about here. Mind boggling.
“The ‘International Community’ Be Damned” (Posted February 28, 2004)
For its complicity in providing Saddam huge sums of money in the Oil for Palaces program:
Iraq's suppliers included Russian factories, Arab trade brokers, European manufacturers and state-owned companies from China and the Middle East. Iraq generally refused to buy directly from American companies, which in any case needed special licenses to trade legally with Iraq.
The UN Security Council was viewed by Saddam as a body to bribe:
Other Iraqi officials said the ministries were forced to order goods from companies and countries according to political expediency instead of quality. …

"It depended on what was going on in New York at the U.N. and which country was on the Security Council," [Nidhal R. Mardood, a 30-year veteran employee of the Iraqi Ministry of Trade] added. "They apportioned the amounts according to politics."
Higher authority, indeed.
Oh yeah, we should definitely restrict contracts funded with our money to our allies. The others have gained enough cash.
Sadly, some of our friends will be implicated in this. We have to follow this, however.
“Uprooting Settlers” (Posted February 28, 2004)
The US is figuring out how to get settlers out of a region who were placed there to push out native residents and so cement the government’s hold on what it considered strategically important territory. Ethnically reliable elements were lured to the area in large numbers with cheap housing.
I await the outrage of the world community in helping us reverse this ethnic cleansing.
“Change of Strategy in Afghanistan” (Posted February 28, 2004)
Rather than blanket the country with US and allied troops, which I believed would provoke Afghan resistance, I felt it was reasonable to have beaten the Taliban and placed a friendly government in Kabul. US troops could focus on breaking up Taliban concentrations of troops to make it easier for the Afghanis to spread government authority to the provinces. I still think a decentralized state is a must, but even limited authority must be accepted in the boonies.
The US is changing to a more classic counter-insurgency strategy of putting troops in small units into the countryside to work with economic initiatives:
The United States has quietly shifted tactics in Afghanistan. Coupled with the usual offensive military strategy is a softer approach. The military has formed an "area ownership" program that will station platoon-sized units in remote Afghan villages. The new tactic, coupled with the ever-growing Provincial Reconstruction Teams and the newly formed Regional Development Zones, is intended to garner the coalition significant intelligence, encourage the development of democracy across the region, and help nip a Taliban resurgence in the bud
On the one hand, success in keeping the Taliban and al Qaeda broken up into small groups makes it possible to carry out this strategy of spreading out platoons or squads to cover more ground. Otherwise, little teams would be vulnerable to being overrun my groups of 50 or more rebels before help could arrive.
We’ll see. I worry that we are trying to do too much beyond preventing Afghanistan from becoming a training ground for terrorists. Creating a peaceful, prosperous Afghanistan would certainly be great, but it is our maximum objective. I concede that this maximum objective would make it possible to reduce our presence to a minimum for training purposes.
This is either a risky move or an indication that we’ve truly hammered the Islamist rebels down to the point where the risk is low.
This, by the way, is the Marine Corps plan for their sector when they take over from the Army forces commanded by the 82nd AB Division west of Baghdad. It is a good plan, actually, with history on its side. As long as the bad guys can’t mass like they did in Fallujah when they hit the Iraqi police post and overran it. It is possible that advances in communications and precision firepower will reduce this risk to small units out on their own. We’ll see. But this will be a completely different environment from the friendly Shia areas the Marines were used to before they pulled out.
“Pillsbury Nuke Boy” (Posted February 28, 2004)
We continue to try for a deal with North Korea. The article notes that North Korea is in dire straits and needs aid. Our side, demonstrating an admirable willingness to end the talks without a sheet of paper to wave, are willing to talk again in a few months. We’ll see what another few months of economic failure do for Pyongyang’s negotiating position. The author states that an eventual deal will have more weight with lots of nations backing it:
Despite the North's uneven track record, analysts say that this time, a carefully structured deal could work. The famine-stricken North is more desperate than ever — and an eventual agreement would be signed with all of its neighbors, including allies China and Russia, leaving the isolated regime with nowhere to turn if it reneges.
This is a good point. If North Korea finds it cannot play off one major power against another, they will agree more readily to a solution that satisfies our demand for nuclear disarmament.
Of course, a multi-lateral agreement also makes it more difficult to call North Korea on a violation. We are talking now because we accused Pyongyang of breaking the 1994 agreement. The agreement was with us and it was easy to confront North Korea. But if we get an agreement signed by us, our allies, and North Korea, we will have to convince China, Russia, South Korea, and Japan to confront North Korea in case of a breach. Look at the problem we are having getting our European allies to confront Iran. Look at the trouble we had in the UNSC over Iraq’s clear violations of its agreements following Desert Storm? Then, North Korea will be able to play one power off the others. Some of the signatories may very well be unwilling to agree that anything but a picture of Kim Jong-Il himself polishing a nuclear bomb is a clear violation of his commitment.
An agreement may yet be possible. But it is not the end, just the means to North Korean nuclear disarmament.
“On Being a September 11 News Consumer” (Posted February 28, 2004)
There is no doubt that I’m a September 11 person. Not that I was even remotely oblivious to foreign affairs prior to September 11, 2002, but I recognize that date as a turning point in eras. Before that date was the nebulous “post-Cold War” era. We didn’t know what it was. We just knew it wasn’t the Cold War. On that morning, we were served notice that the age of terrorists seeking our mass murder was here. What seems so self-evident to is not, however, shared uniformly by Americans. Steyn puts it well in “It’s the War, Stupid’ on February 28 (as he usually does. Registration required):
This is, when you think about it, a very odd situation. Generally speaking, when a nation's at war, its citizens recognise it as such. In, say, 1944, even the conscientious objectors did not attempt to argue that there was, in fact, no war. But in 2004 America is divided between those who want to fight the war and those who want to fight the guy who invented the war as a means of distracting us from the tax cuts for his cronies and his plan to destroy the environment.
This makes it so incredibly difficult to debate those who oppose the President. And it isn’t like I am lockstep in support of whatever the administration does. But when the other side amazingly analyzes everything on the assumption that Bushrove is “wagging the dog” for political purposes, one is pushed to defend the administration. Shoot, one even has to agree with their basic logic. If there is no war going on, what our government is doing (Gitmo, troops fighting in Afghanistan and Iraq, the Patriot Act, etc.) is darned suspicious.
But, of course, we really are at war. This makes what we are doing far less suspicious.
I think much of the media is infected with the September 10 outlook. This shapes their suspicion of what is going on. And this drives the frustration of those who criticize the efforts of most of our press as they cover this war.
Orson Scott Card (via Winds of Change) puts it well as he suggests how one is to use the news even as we recognize that it does not quite get it:
The first reality check is a thorough knowledge of history. Human behavior has not changed a whit in any important way for the past four thousand years. There are patterns of causality; certain kinds of things happen over and over, for similar reasons and with similar results. So when you see them happening again, but with an accompanying story about how wonderful and new they are, you're better able to look at them with skepticism.

In other words, the more history you know, the more likely you are to notice when someone's pulling the wool over your eyes.

Still, that's only a generalized skepticism. To know you're being lied to is not the same thing as knowing what the truth is.
He suggests a variety of news sources by which to gain information to test whether what you are hearing even makes sense. His suggestion makes sense. And I do feel lucky to be a history and political science major which at one time (as one dentist I had long ago suggested) trained me to be an interesting waiter. I don’t feel uncomfortable listening to NPR news because I feel I have a good enough background to filter out their editorializing—even when they don’t realize it—to pull out the actual news item. Not that it can’t piss me off thoroughly. It does. But they can still provide news. Knowing that US armor was poised outside Baghdad let me know we were winning despite the frantic cries of “quagmire” that was being touted based on some minor setback. 
And Card points out one thing that is really frustrating—the tendency of most American newsreaders to pretend they are freaking neutral when our nation is at war against fanatics. For God’s sake, they can use the word “we” when discussing American actions.
But that’s so September 11 of me, I guess.
“Remember the Cold War?” (Posted February 28, 2004)
Just a reminder of what we struggled against during the Cold War. It was a real war and our enemy in Moscow knew how to manipulate Americans and Europeans:
The KGB campaign to assault the U.S. and Europe by means of disinformation was more than just a few Cold War dirty tricks. The whole foreign policy of the Soviet-bloc states, indeed its whole economic and military might, revolved around the larger Soviet objective of destroying America from within through the use of lies. The Soviets saw disinformation as a vital tool in the dialectical advance of world Communism.
The fruits of that campaign linger on today.
“A Victory in Iraq” (Posted February 28, 2004)
Sistani has been persuaded on elections:
Iraq (news - web sites)'s most prominent Shiite cleric signaled Thursday that he would accept the installation of an unelected government after June 30 if elections are set — possibly at the end of the year — and the United Nations (news - web sites) guarantees the date.
This is good.
Yet critics continue to attack the June 30 timeline for nominal sovereignty as politically driven:
The Bush administration — eager to end the formal occupation ahead of the presidential election in November — has said the June 30 deadline is firm.
Look, we originally planned for a formal constitution first and then a transfer of sovereignty in 2005. The French said this was too long. In time, the Shias worried that the goal of freedom could be snatched away as it had so many times in the past, and expressed a desire for a more rapid turnover.
So we set June 30. The French still claimed this was too long!
I really want to know how this Bushrove (I still don’t know who this guy is, but he’s mentioned a lot) fellow thinks a handover of nominal sovereignty on June 30 is politically driven? If casualties are the issue, what fool thinks we are pulling our troops out on June 30? Notice the massive troop rotation going on? We will be fighting for a while. The goal is to gradually pull back as Iraqis gain the ability to fight the insurgency (remember, we don’t need to turn over a country as peaceful as a Vermont hamlet to be successful). Indeed, I think if Bushrove announced a turnover of sovereignty on January 1, 2005 or December 1, 2004, or, oh, the Wednesday after the first Monday in November 2004, the same critics would be arguing that we were delaying sovereignty past the elections for political purposes. And indeed, we would be in a better position to keep the situation clamped down until after the elections if we maintained firm control. I think it is far easier to argue that setting a June 30 transfer date is a sign of confidence that the trend lines are good in Iraq and that the administration thinks the Iraqis are up to the challenge we have given them.
“Well I’ll Be Darned“ (Posted February 28, 2004)
The opposition to the Iraq War strongly suggested that the path to determining the legitimacy of a government went through Paris. I thought that was silly.
France called Wednesday for the immediate formation of a United Nations-backed security force to go to Haiti and stabilize the country, which is in the third week of a rebel uprising. It also urged President Jean-Bertrand Aristide to resign.
The French have decided Aristide must go! I eagerly await the replies of those members of Congress who want the US to intervene to preserve Aristide’s regime.
Meanwhile, Aristide’s supporters are demonstrating why they are not worthy of being supported even as the armed opposition remains too thug-like to support:
Attacks against members or employees of the international community have increased in recent days since U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell (news - web sites) and French Foreign Minister Dominique de Villepin called for Aristide to cede power amid rising violence.
The US response:
Some 2,200 U.S. Marines were put on alert as Pentagon (news - web sites) officials weighed the possibility of sending troops to waters off Haiti to guard against any flood of refugees and to protect the estimated 20,000 Americans in the Caribbean country.
That sounds about right. The 1994 invasion was overkill. The local thugs aren’t very good at fighting real soldiers. We can’t abandon Americans or foreigners to be killed by xenophobic thugs. Not to be cold toward Haitian lives but these are Haitians killing other Haitians—and they do it at pretty regular intervals. If they are willing, who are we to risk our lives to stop them? We have no interest in supporting either side in winning. It would also be nice, as much as I am uncomfortable with this reasoning, to keep Haitians from fleeing to Florida. Given that if they were only interested in fleeing for safety, they’d go to the Dominican Republic, Jamaica, or Cuba. Too many figure as long as they are going to get out, try for the long ball and maybe they’ll hit a home run and make it to the promised land.
The 2,200 Marines represent a reinforced battalion with air assets, too (a Marine Expeditionary Unit), which is the Marine equivalent of the thousand-man battalion-sized force I suggested was enough to achieve the limited goals I mentioned.
And this pattern of revolts of upset Haitians marching out of the north to seize the capital and oust the current president stretches back two centuries. Aid to Haiti out of compassion is certainly warranted (and to keep them at home) but we can’t expect too much.
Haiti” (Posted February 25, 2004)
Some are urging the US to intervene in Haiti. Jesse Jackson want us to prop up Aristide. Oh, and Senator Dodd, too.
I don’t know, shouldn’t we be going to regional organizations to urge a “Caribbean solution” to the problem? I’m worried the Caribbean street will just get upset with our blatant violation of Haitian sovereignty. Again. The 1994 invasion was only the most recent of repeated American interventions going back two centuries. And there are other reasons we should not be rushing to intervene.
We probably shouldn’t underestimate Voodoo extremists, either.
Even assuming we can figure out whose side we intervene on, shouldn’t we be exhausting all non-violent means first? I mean, let’s try a decade of sanctions before we do anything hasty.
And we don’t even have our first UN resolution on the crisis! But since we have a decade of sanctions ahead of us, we have time to collect a dozen or so.
Or perhaps human shields can stand in front of the machete-wielding rebels and shame them into going home. Or, the human shields can march with the machete-wielding rebels and shame Aristide into being a decent ruler. Or at least less of a thug.
And then we need to gather up a real coalition. The British, Australians, Poles, New Zealanders, Dutch, South Koreans, Japanese, Ukrainians, Central Americans, Italians, Spanish, Mongols, Romanians, Bulgarians, and anybody else associated with Iraq will just need to sit this one out since they aren’t, apparently, real.
Ultimately, many who usually like to march in solidarity with dictators to oppose American military action want us to invade (oh, I mentioned Jackson already. Never mind). Haiti poses no threat to us so there is no security reason to intervene. This truly would be an intervention of choice.
The French see a role for a foreign intervention:
French Foreign Minister Dominique de Villepin urged the "immediate" establishment of an international civilian force.
Of course, the French suggestion may explain a lot. I can see it, the elite Detachment Du Claims’ Adjustaires. The 1st Demi-Battalion, Royal Regiment of Clerc-Typistes. He actually proposed an international civilian force to intervene. My God, the French have totally lost it. I think we in America would call such a force “hostages.”
Just what is de Villepin thinking? Oh, here it is:
"This international force would be responsible for guaranteeing the return to public order and supporting the international community's action on the ground," Villepin said. "It would come to the support of a government of national unity."
Ah, of course! De Villepin thinks the rebels and government can just collaborate with each other and all will be fine. My, that is sophisticated. Those former colonial powers are good at such deep thinking.
Hey, I’m not saying we shouldn’t intervene. Though I admit I am prone to being against luxury missions like this. I feel better when doing the right thing actually preserves our security, too. I also feel better when we can intervene on somebody’s side. Which group of bully boys are we supposed to favor?
But then, I thought Liberia was a mistake. But we settled the situation down and then got out quickly. It worked despite my advice to the contrary (well, “opinion” and not “advice” since nobody really asked me…). And we probably got a chit that we played with Kofi Annan on Iraqi election timing.
So as long as we aren’t talking more than a battalion to guard the capital for a bit and force both sides to negotiate since we won’t allow either odious side to win, we might be able to settle the place down without straining our forces unduly. Shoot, we probably wouldn’t do any worse than the 20,000-strong intervention in 1994 and the 2 or 3 billion dollars we sank into that perpetual Hell hole since we dropped in ten years ago.
Mostly, though, I look forward to France gaining the proper UN authorization for this adventure.
“African Future” (Posted February 24, 2004)
Top U.S. generals are touching down across Africa in unusual back-to-back trips, U.S. European Command confirmed Tuesday, part of a change in military planning as U.S. interest grows in African terror links and African oil.
The military’s adaptation to the post-Cold War world continues.
“I Should Think This Should Clear Things Up” (Posted February 24, 2004)
This isn’t about the goodies we can give North Korea. I don’t care if the Pillsbury Nuke Boy in Pyongyang thinks he can extort money out of us once again. This is our bottom line:
"The United States seeks the complete, verifiable and irreversible dismantlement of all the DPRK's (North Korea's) nuclear programs, both plutonium and uranium-based," Assistant Secretary of State James Kelly said.
We will not stand for nuclear rogue states anymore. And the nutballs in North Korea need to realize that they need to make a deal now. We’ll settle for their nuclear disarmament now. If they keep pissing us off, we’ll push for regime change. If they think they can survive a serious squeeze on their rickety economy, they are nuts. If they think they can survive a war with us, they are truly crazy.
Hell, we may destroy the North Korean regime anyway given how untrustworthy that Stalinist prison camp is. And given how brutal it is to its own people.
On moral grounds, we should overthrow the regime. On practical grounds, we’ll settle for their nuclear disarmament. I wonder if Pyongyang realizes how dangerous their position is?
“Yes, We Do Stand With the Iranian People” (Posted February 24, 2004)
NRO mentioned this. The President has spoken up for the Iranian people:
"I join many in Iran and around the world in condemning the Iranian regime's efforts to stifle freedom of expression, including the closing of two leading reformist newspapers in the run-up to the elections. Such measures undermine the rule of law and are clear attempts to deny the Iranian people's desire to freely choose their leaders," Bush said.

He said Washington supports the Iranian people's aspirations "to live in freedom, enjoy their God-given rights and determine their own destiny."
Iran’s relentless pursuit of nuclear weapons pretty much guarantees that we will not just look away.
Oh, and the Iranians are insulting their only hope for holding off US action to overthrow the mullahs:
On Monday, the European Union (news - web sites) called the elections a "setback for the democratic process in Iran." The United States expressed disappointment with the election results, but the State Department said the Bush administration continued to hope for the reformers' revival in Iran.

"We don't think much of the words of enemies," said Ahmad Tavakkoli, the No. 2 vote-getter in Tehran.
When the thug Iranians call the EU their enemy along with the US, I think we can all agree that they are just stupid.
We’re coming. And our coalition will include the old Europeans. This time we let them have a shot with their way. And it is failing.
“The Military Serious About Fighting War Over Long Run” (Posted February 24, 2004)
The Army shows it is thoroughly reacting to the needs for a long-term strategy to win this war. From division reorganization, to unit manning, to improving the Current Force and evolving to the Future Force instead of banking all on a totally transformed future Objective Force. And now adjusting our AC/RC balance and changing the types of troops we field:
The U.S. Army is undergoing it's [sic] largest personnel shuffle ever. Nearly ten percent of the 1.2 million active and reserve troops are changing jobs. In addition to tens of thousands of artillery troops being converted to military police, there are thousands of support jobs being shifted from the reserves to active duty units.
I still tend to think we need a couple motorized infantry divisions, or perhaps half a dozen separate brigades (or 8 or 9 of the smaller “Units of Action”), bolstered by heavy armor. But I do appreciate the concerns that we can’t spend ourselves broke building forces we don’t need over the long run. A lot depends on how long Iraq is an active front. A lot depends on whether we win one in Iran in the next 18 months without needing to commit troops to end the mullah regime.
I’m willing to give the Pentagon the benefit of the doubt on not adding to end strength just yet. They really are doing a lot with what they’ve got.
“FA-22 Doomed?” (Posted February 24, 2004)
Strategypage notes that the Raptor is on shaky grounds:
The U.S. Air Forces new F-22 fighter is already in production, with 25 built (for testing and training), and 19 to be manufactured this year. The air force wants to eventually buy 276, at a cost of over $250 million each. The F-22 is the pinnacle of 20th century warplane design and technology. Unfortunately, it's now the 21st century and new aerial threats are appearing that may make the F-22 obsolete before it even enters service at the end of the decade. 
Back in July 2002, in my now abandoned Defense Issues page, I wrote that the plane should be built in only small numbers as a hedge. I basically stand by that but I seem to have gotten a bit more skeptical of how many we need.
“Another Distortion of the SOTU” (Posted February 24, 2004)
Al Qaeda has learned how to get the US press to pay attention to them: distort the words of the President. This time, from the State of the Union address:
"We remind Bush that he didn't destroy two-thirds of al-Qaida. On the contrary, thanks be to God, al-Qaida is still in the holy war battleground raising the banner of Islam."
The AP article does note that the President didn’t actually say what the tape reader says the President claimed:
In his State of the Union address in January, Bush said "nearly two-thirds" of al-Qaida's known leaders were captured or killed.
More seriously, this statement says a lot about our enemy:
"The decision of the French president to issue a law to prevent Muslim girls from covering their heads in schools is another example of the Crusader's malice, which Westerners have against Muslims," the recording said.
How do we deal with people who seem to hold the US and allied offensive that ripped their organization apart as equivalent with a French head scarf ban? So what exactly have the French gained by appearing to be a bit “pro-Islamist” by holding back public and full support for the US?
And doesn’t this bravado have just a little of the Monty Pythonesque “What are you going to do? Bleed on me?” tone?

“Can One Man Cover This Alone?” (Posted February 23, 2004)

Ledeen is on the Iran election scam.
The real numbers are a tiny fragment of the official ones. The overall turnout came in at about twelve percent, with Tehran a bit lower, and places like Isfahan and Qom (of all places, the headquarters of the Shiite religious elite) closer to five percent. The only major city with a substantially higher turnout was Kerman, due to a local factor: A widely hated hardliner was running, and many people judged it more important to demonstrate their contempt for him personally by voting for others than to show their rejection of the regime en bloc by abstaining.

It shouldn't have been hard to get this story right, at least in its broad outlines. A leading member of the old parliament, Mehdi Karoubi, was asked why he did badly, and he replied, publicly: "because the people boycotted the election."

Keep in mind that the reporters knew full well that all but a handful of polling sites in Tehran — the only place they were able to observe, thanks to the usual clampdown on information — were virtually dead. They knew, or should have known, that the regime had trotted out more than 10,000 "mobile voting booths," that is to say, trucks driving around inviting people to vote. They surely heard the stories — widely repeated on Iranian web sites — of thousands of phony ballots, and of citizens being forced to turn over their identity cards, thus making it possible for others to pose as legitimate voters. They must also have heard that high-school students were warned that if they did not vote they would never get into the universities.

But they did not report any of this. The Washington Post's Karl Vick wrote an upbeat report, as if the hardliners had won a normal election, and CNN's legendary Ms. Amanpour stressed that Iran was changing for the better since the dress code for women had loosened a bit in the past few years. Neither seemed to know that there were violent protests throughout the country, that several people had been killed and scores wounded by the regime's thugs, and that highways were blocked because the regime was afraid the protests would spread. There was enough electoral fraud to fill any Western news report, had the correspondents wished to do so.
Why can’t the press report what is happening? This is a brutal regime that is quite possibly on the verge of getting nuclear weapons. The people there actually like us and seem to be looking to us for some sign of support that we give a damn and don’t think the mullahs are men we can deal with. Are we viewing the Iraq shame all over again where the Western news services dare not report the truth lest they be kicked out? (or another Cuba for that matter)
Lord, I’d consider it an improvement if the press would report on the fraud and brutality of the Iranian mullahs but blame it on Karl Rove or some Texan cabal.
This is too important. I think we will deal with Iran one way or another in early 2005. We have trouble enough dealing with an impoverished North Korea with the bomb. How will we deal with oil-rich Iran with the bomb? If the press doesn’t give a damn enough to report the actual news?
More accurately, please.

"Pattern of Injustice" (Posted February 23, 2004)

Indonesian President Megawati Sukarnoputri has divined a pattern of injustice toward the Islamic world:
An exceptional injustice is apparent in the attitude and actions of big countries toward countries with major Muslim populations," she said.
Intentional or not, a pattern is emerging, Megawati said.

"The act of violence undertaken unilaterally against the Republic of Iraq by certain countries, who are now finding it difficult to prove the existence of weapons of mass destruction there ... is evidence of this injustice," she said.
Sometimes it is difficult not to just reach out and slap some people and just pray that they snap out of whatever trance they are in.
We liberate Afghan Moslems. We liberate Iraqi Moslems. We rescue Kosovo Moslems. We rescue Bosnian Moslems. We feed and try to save Somali Moslems. We liberate Kuwaiti Moslems. Yeah, quite the pattern of injustice.
The bottom line is that I thank God we have a diplomatic corps. Our State Department may annoy me, but we need people that can look across a table at people who believe we are a curse upon the Moslem world and move on to point two on the agenda rather than pressing the fix location button on their GPS receiver in order to guide the JDAMs into their position an hour after they leave.
Megawati and others less responsible keep saying we inflicted injustice on the Islamic world. I don’t think that word means what they thinks it means. (with thanks to the Princess Pride for that line).

“Hmm, Maybe He Isn’t Dead” (Posted February 23, 2004)

Via Donald Sensing, this report on the hunt for bin Laden

“Comanche Cancelled” (Posted February 23, 2004)

“I Don’t Get How We’re Doomed” (Posted February 23, 2004)

“Iraqi Governing Council” (Posted February 22, 2004)

Hoagland thinks the Governing Council should be trusted with sovereignty and setting up elections:
Who should organize Iraq's election? The answer lies in plain sight -- for those with eyes to see. Let the council be the council and get on with its work.
I noted that I figured since we picked the council 25, we should have some trust in them. Apparently not:
The Bush administration liberated Iraqis 10 months ago. But it still does not trust them -- not even the 25 Iraqis chosen to help manage their country's transition to freedom. They have been rewarded for their cooperation with disdain and denigration from Washington.
I do think we should place some trust and authority in them. Not enough to refrain from vetoing a constitution that will not provide for a secular state with minority rights and rule of law, but enough to start the transition to democracy through them.
Hoagland seems to think that the 25 alone will be enough of a transition, but I don’t know. I think added legitimacy and some practical governing experience will be added by promoting city council members, by vote of those councils, to the national governing council.

“Alright, Already” (Posted February 22, 2004)

I’ve been called the pemalinkless Dignified Rant. Others have apologized for linking to a site where you have to scroll down. Another simply stated, sadly, that I have no permalinks.
But then a kindly administrator of Winds of Change advised me, “Dude. You need permalinks. Badly.”
When I started my site, I thought of going to a blog hosting site. But I didn’t see myself posting that much. So I used my existing Yahoo! Geocities site where I had biographical and publishing information. It was intended as an online portfolio. I had used little space so I just used that site. I figured I’d be lucky to update something once a week
Little did I know.
Responding in Foreign Affairs (now combined with Defense issues into on National Security Affairs page) to perceived idiocy in the war on terror. Advocating options. Predicting options. Reporting interesting news. And I had other categories.
As posting took on a life of its own, I had to add monthly archives to handle the volume when the general purpose archives filled up. So I add to current posts. Cut and paste to archives. And then cut and paste again to monthly archives when archives fill up.
I knew I needed permalinks but I just wasn’t motivated enough to figure out a decent way to handle them.
I think this will work. I’ll post to current and simultaneously to the monthly archives where the permalink will reside. Archives will just be a pointer to the monthly National Security archives. When I get tired of a post being in the current page, I’ll just delete it. It will already be in the archives.
For the rest of February, I’m going to use the temporary “permalinks” test page. If this works, I’ll start real permanent permalinks in March.
The United States is now plunging into a fundamental overhaul of its assistance to developing nations, demanding that applicants for a rich new source of financing prove their worthiness. Already countries from Bolivia to Bangladesh are competing to be among the winners. …

To qualify for the funds, countries must demonstrate, in the president's words, that they are "ruling justly, investing in their people, and establishing economic freedom."
Now, we will insist on performance standards to earn our aid, and thus increase the chances that the aid will be about helping the recipients. And the recipient nations will have the freedom to decide how to spend the money. (What, no Halliburton connection?)
Quite the revolution in thinking.
And compassionate, too, in a meaningful way.
“Blind Info Baghdad” (Posted February 21, 2004)
The Atlantic article “Blind Into Baghdad” is pretty damning of pre-war US planning for the invasion of Iraq. More precisely, Fallows condemns the US for not using the numerous pre-war studies that documented some of the problems we face today.
Let me say right off the bat that I was skeptical of the thrust of the article before I read word one.
And this pet peeve of mine that Fallows asserts as fact really drove me away:
On May 6 the Administration announced that Bremer would be the new U.S. administrator in Iraq. Two weeks into that job Bremer disbanded the Iraqi army and other parts of the Baathist security structure.

If the failure to stop the looting was a major sin of omission, sending the Iraqi soldiers home was, in the view of nearly everyone except those who made the decision, a catastrophic error of commission. There were two arguments for taking this step. First, the army had "already disbanded itself," as Douglas Feith put it to me—soldiers had melted away, with their weapons. Second, the army had been an integral part of the Sunni-dominated Baathist security structure. Leaving it intact would be the wrong symbol for the new Iraq—especially for the Shiites, whom the army had oppressed. "These actions are part of a robust campaign to show the Iraqi people that the Saddam regime is gone, and will never return," a statement from Bremer's office said.
Fallows simply notes that some argue the army self-disbanded and then just disregards it, asserting “nearly everyone except those who made the decision” think it was a catastrophic error. Hogwash. The fact that the army and police melted away despite our efforts to get them to defect as units is not some inconvenient fact to ignore in a rush to condemn the administration. The army was gone. The question of whether to retain it was rendered rather moot and no amount of hostility toward the administration can change that.
Second, even if elements survived intact, we would have still had to fire everybody above the rank of colonel to get rid of Baathists or Baathist-trusted elements. Even in the pre-war phase of arguments, I mentioned we could take defectors and organize them into light infantry units to help us if city fighting was too tough. I would not have wanted entire divisions sitting around, potentially able to “undefect” and cause an embarrassing situation for us.
Now, I don’t intend to go into a line-by-line critique. But the “disbanding” criticism is one that never fails to rile me up. It is bull.
Certainly, the author lists a number of errors made. Some I think are reasonable to note, such as failing to quickly secure the borders and arms depots.
Yet there are reasons we failed that relate to the speed of our victory. Our spearheads were short on spare parts, ammo, and even food. We had to divert troops to fight in the cities west of the Euphrates to secure the fragile supply line. Exactly how were we to get civil affairs, military police, combat service support units, and non-governmental organizations forward in the wake of our hyperkrieg? Sure, if we’d been stalled at the outskirts of Baghdad for weeks or months as we figured out how to take out Saddam without destroying the city, we could have brought up all these people and supplies. But should we have voluntarily slowed down to do it? Heck no. An emphatic heck no.
More broadly, should we have delayed the war to gather the support troops and NGOs and the additional combat troops to protect them as they followed the Army and Marine Corps? Would the NGOs have even cooperated? Before the war, many opponents of fighting Iraq opposed any type of preparation for the post-war because it assumed war—and they didn’t think we should assume war. And if we did take the time to do all this, would Saddam have still been confident we were not going to invade? We gained a tremendous advantage by invading a country whose leader was convinced we would not invade. Early in this blog I did a Red Team analysis about what I’d do to defend Iraq. Saddam did none of these things. It is quite possible that massive preparations for a post-war would have convinced Saddam we were going to invade and led him to actually prepare defenses against a ground invasion. That would have slowed the war and made the collateral damage much worse.
War is an uncertain enterprise. It is easy to complain about individual things that did go wrong. It can be done for the Iraq War or any war. This is the friction of war, plain and simple. So rather than debate the individual things Fallows says went wrong and what the significance of those things are, what is Fallows’ bottom line?
Fallows’ conclusion just reads wrong despite the laundry list of failures:
George W. Bush has an obvious preference for large choices. This gave him his chance for greatness after the September 11 attacks. But his lack of curiosity about significant details may be his fatal weakness. When the decisions of the past eighteen months are assessed and judged, the Administration will be found wanting for its carelessness. Because of warnings it chose to ignore, it squandered American prestige, fortune, and lives.
The conclusion rings wrong because we won. We won decisively. In roughly three weeks. With few American battle casualties and little collateral damage. His judgment clearly shows he just basically opposed the war. Which is fine. That is his right. But to describe this as going blind into Baghdad is silly.
The Iraq War was a decisive victory, folks. What war in history—by anybody—went right with these ridiculous standards of success?
We squandered nothing. And our mistakes were inconsequential in the big picture.
“Bin Laden Trapped?” (Posted February 21, 2004)
The Moderate Voice (via Donald Sensing) reports on a story that says bin Laden is essentially trapped and under surveillance by a US satellite:
OSAMA bin Laden is reportedly surrounded by United States special forces in a mountain range that straddles north-west Pakistan and Afghanistan.
Interesting if true. And assuming Osama isn’t really dead.
And this part seems a little off:
The article goes on to say bin Laden's movements are continually monitored by a US National Security Agency satellite positioned over the land in which the wealthy Saudi is trapped.
I didn’t think that photographic satellites could be put in geosynchronous orbits. Isn’t the altitude required for that way too high for photographs? And wouldn’t other types of satellites that could function from that distance be useless to track a small band of men? I’ll be interested in reading something on this. I’m not sat expert, though.
If we do nab him quickly, that would be good timing for a spring offensive to hit al Qaeda operatives in the Horn region. Who wouldn’t assume that nabbing bin Laden was the much anticipated spring offensive?
Only people who assume this administration isn’t committed to winning the war instead of just short-term tactical victories, I guess.
“And As Long As We’re All Together Here Talking…” (Posted February 21, 2004)
February 21, 2004: Uganda, Djibouti, Kenya, Rwanda and Somalia have offered troops to the Eastern African Standby Brigade (EASBRIG), soon to be formed as part of the African Standby Force (ASF). Eritrea, Ethiopia, Madagascar, Mauritius, Seychelles and the Comoros are also expected to contribute troops. The ASF will comprise of four regional brigades, each with 4,020 combatants each. Kenya would host the planning headquarters for the force but the standby troops would be assembled and deployed as soon as need arose.

The seven day long closed meeting of chiefs of defense staff and Experts (chaired by the Ugandan army commander) did not disclose specific troop quotas. However, they did formulate the EASBRIG policy framework and agree that the region's defense ministers will meet in April at the AU's Addis Ababa headquarters to finalize the plan. - Adam Geibel

THE AFRICAN STANDBY FORCE: Progress and prospects, online at 
In the long run, this will certainly be helpful to us and the African states involved.
But in the short run (like, oh this spring), I wonder if we talked to some of the leaders about a new offensive operation to nail al Qaeda in the region. US Marines recently exercised with the Kenyans with one of the new amphibious strike groups we are using now (a Marine Expeditionary Unit plus surface warships for firepower support). We’ve been watching the region for a long time without really doing anything overt. Could we have been mapping the region for one big simultaneous blow to really hit them and knock them hard rather than just scattering them to other areas?
I know we cooperate with nations all over the world (yeah, that’s right, we have lots of cooperation), so this may not mean anything other than that I am looking for meaning, but I’d focus on the Horn region were I CINC.
One Way to Gain Allied Help in the Middle East” (Posted February 21, 2004)
Oil is fungible. So we can’t really nail down our imports from one region of the world at the expense of others. That’s why talk of us avoiding the Middle East’s problems by getting our oil elsewhere is not going to work in the long run. It can, however, reduce the impact somewhat on us and increase the impact on Europeans in the short run. If problems in the Middle East will cause a hiccup in the more vulnerable European economies, I bet they’ll want to help more if they see that we may yawn at the prospect of doing something fast as tankers keep flowing to us and as we dust off our spigots to our strategic petroleum reserve. Sure, in the long run, we’d be sucked in, but it would be nice to see the pressure on Europe first. Remember in 1956, the British were willing to hit Egypt because the British were worried about oil supplies being cut by Nasser. America wasn’t interested in fighting for that reason. Now, I’m not commenting on Britain directly since Britain has been a good friend and ally. But the general idea could apply to the Germans and French in particular who have been less interested though they have the power.
So the possibility of gaining more of our oil from West Africa (why is oil always discovered in poverty stricken, unstable areas? Or where caribou frolic?) can help us.
West Africa's Gulf of Guinea supplies the United States with 15 percent of its oil, a figure projected to grow to 25 percent by 2015.
And of course (from the same article), with more of our oil imports coming from the area, increasing our ability to deploy military force here is important:
The United States is studying whether to build a deep-water port and new airport at Sao Tome, an island nation touted as a possible Navy base to protect growing Western oil interests in West Africa.
With more oil discoveries being made, the importance of the region increases:
The Gambian president announced the discovery of "large quantities" of oil in his tiny West African nation, saying the offshore find would eliminate poverty and hunger, Gambian media reported.
In the modern age, oil is not the only reason to base forces in the region (from Strategypage). This nicely ties it all together:
This corner of Africa has taken on greater importance, ever since friends of Al-Qaeda started to pop up in the more lawless frontier regions. West Africa's Gulf of Guinea currently supplies US refineries with 15 percent of their crude and by 2015, as much as 25 percent of US oil imports could come from Africa's oil belt (from Mauritania past Sao Tome down to Angola). The United States is also considering building a deep-water sea port and new airport on the Sao Tome islands (300 kilometers off the African coast). America has already pledged $800,000 for feasibility studies into the potential projects, but denied reports they were planning to establish a naval or military base on the islands.
“Selected (Not Directly Elected)” (Posted February 21, 2004)
The UN sided with us on direct elections prior to the June 30 transfer of sovereignty to Iraqis:
Annan on Thursday confirmed what he and other U.N. officials have been saying for days — that elections can't be held before the end of June. He also told Security Council members that "caucuses are no good," said Spain's U.N. Ambassador Inocencio Arias.

The secretary-general stressed that there was wide support inside and outside Iraq for national elections to choose a government, but he said they must be carefully planned and held under "optimal technical, security and political conditions."
I imagine this was the price of our intervention in Liberia. I can easily see how the UN could have declared voting using ration lists would be an acceptable short-term election solution.
With caucuses out, what can we do?
I bet an expanded Governing Council will work. Those people will love it, of course. They’ll get a leg up on running for real elections when they are held. Since we did pick them, they certainly should be acceptable even if they aren’t puppets. Disagreement doesn’t mean we are enemies.
So how do we expand it without elections and without caucuses?
How about having local city and regional legislative bodies that are already up and running select members of their own bodies for promotion? This has the advantage of being at least an indirect election. Shoot, that’s how we used to select our US Senators. The council members were elected by Iraqis and so have legitimacy. These elections will essentially be caucuses and so avoid the problems of wide elections. And these people are likely to be practical since they have had to deal with the nuts and bolts of rebuilding Iraq. We’ll need to balance the councils selected to promote delegates in order to provide ethnic fairness. We’ll also need to determine how many to promote. I don’t know if it would be better to dilute the influence of the current council by making them a minority on the new body. Nor do I know how large it should be to look credible. I suspect that for both reasons, the new members should be double the number of current Governing Council members (25) or more. Perhaps 100 total, just like our Senate, would be a good number. But that’s just a guess.
Just my two cents but I bet it could work.
“Selected (Not Elected): Actual Occurrence” (Posted February 21, 2004)
The Iranian Islamists will win the parliamentary elections held Friday. There is no doubt. Few who even pretended to be a reformist (and most did pretend—whether to others or just to themselves) were allowed to run by the mullahs. The biggest question is how much the mullahs will inflate the vote total to make it look like a real election. The Iranian government says turnout was good:
Iran's hard-line Islamic rulers claimed Saturday that voters dealt reformers a decisive blow with a strong turnout in disputed parliament elections, but partial returns suggested the pro-reform boycott had an impact.
I’d be really surprised if the total wasn’t doubled by the government. And even this is lower than past turnout.
So what will happen?
Some reformers still live in a dream world where the hardliners are capable of being swayed by reason and process:
The reformist newspaper Aftab expressed the hopes of many liberals: that the new parliament will be more pragmatic and eventually drift to their side.
My Jane’s email news alert/direct marketing ploy says:
Editor's notes
Iran's parliamentary election crisis is raising hopes among Western intelligence agencies that victory for the conservatives will lead to mounting destabilisation and the eventual ousting of the country's hardline Islamic leadership. The reality is rather different. Rising popular apathy towards the political system and widespread disillusionment with the failure of the reformist administration headed by President Mohammad Khatami will assist the conservatives in their effort to regain control of the legislature. People who won't even vote are unlikely to stage mass uprisings in the streets of Tehran.

[Jane's Intelligence Digest - first posted to - 18 February 2004]
I just don’t see how there is a direct connection between apathy toward voting and unwillingness to fight the mullahs. Given the pressure to vote exerted by the mullahs, couldn’t refusal to vote be called something other than apathy? Like, maybe, not giving a damn anymore? If a sizable portion of the population doesn’t give a damn about the Mullah’s power, a real crisis that could overthrow the mullahs could occur.
The Iraq War showed that we could contact enemy generals directly. Could we be doing this now with potentially friendly Iranian generals?
The Iranian people may not be able to overcome the mullah’s and their imported bully boys on their own, but with support from the Iranian armed forces, who in turn can count on US aid, the people could spark a true revolt and end the 25-year reign of terror of the mullahs.
Sensinglanche” (Posted February 18, 2004)
Dang. More hits than my last Instalanche. Thanks Donald!
If you’re linking here from Sensing, (dang, gotta avoid late night posts. Little faux pas with the wrong name--but right link--up for a few hours...) you’ll need to go to the February 16th post to see the Iran/lion post.
I don’t need no stinkinpermalinks. I leave that to the fancy high-tech bloggers.
“The Next 9-11” (Posted February 18, 2004)
May well be by sea. Look for a port or sea lane choke point to go boom:
"We believe al Qaeda and its associates may be planning a maritime 'spectacular'," said Dominick Donald, a senior analyst with Aegis Defense Services, a leading London-based risk and security consultancy.
Maybe in Indonesia. There’s just so much to defend against. But the article also notes the Horn of Africa as a place to watch:
Citing a surge in piracy attacks and ocean crime, he said the building blocks for an attack were already in place, particularly in little-patrolled waters around the Horn of Africa and in Southeast Asia.
Another reason to go on the offensive in the spring against the Islamists in the Horn region.
“The Iranian Threat” (Posted February 18, 2004)
Ledeen has an excellent article on Iranian developments. He writes about things that just don’t make the papers.
He explains well the silliness of the so-called struggle between hardliners and the faux reformers. The former like to stomp on throats gleefully. The latter want a kinder, gentler throat stomping. The bottom line is that we lose no matter who wins this struggle and the winners will have nukes:
And we may see them with atomic bombs. Oddly, just as the foreign minister was announcing Iran's intention to sell enriched uranium to interested parties — thereby spitting in the eye of the French, German, and English diplomats who sang love songs to themselves just a few short months ago, proclaiming they had negotiated an end to the Iranian nuclear program — two smugglers were arrested in Iraq, near Mosul, with what an Iraqi general described as a barrel of uranium. Here is what General Hikmat Mahmoud Mohammed had to say about the event: "This material is in the category of weapons of mass destruction, which is why the investigation is secret. The two suspects were transferred to American forces, who are in charge of the inquiry."
As an added kicker, Ledeen says this is from the same location from which Iraq shipped enriched uranium to Iran a few years ago.
We will deal with Iran in 2005, I think. Much longer risks that Iran will actually weaponize a nuclear device. As I’ve noted, I don’t think it will be US Army-induced regime change. Either the Iranians overthrow the mullahs (and I assume we are cultivating a coup and working on the regular army, navy, and air force to get them friendly); a civil war develops and we intervene to support the rebels and to secure nuclear sites; or we take out the nuclear facilities with JDAMs (and I assume we are plotting their locations).
Iran is ripe for something to happen:
Unreported in the American press and apparently unnoted by the leaders of the Bush administration, the regime is in open battle with its own people. In late January the regime's thugs murdered four workers, injured more than 40 others, and arrested nearly 100 more in Shahr-e Babak and the small village of Khatoonabad, prompting an official protest from the International Confederation of Free Trade Unions. (Would that the American trade-union movement had leaders worthy of the name, capable of expressing such outrage). Demonstrations five days ago in the western city of Marivan were so potent that the regime sent helicopter gunships to shoot down protestors, and there are reports that members of the regular armed forces joined the demonstrators. And in Hamadan, demonstrators clashed with security forces after the closure of the unfortunately named "Islamic Equity Ban." The demonstrators accused the bank managers of stealing the bank's money and smuggling it out of the country to their personal benefit, and that of the regime's top figures. The charge is credible because, as Western governments know well, large quantities of cash — just as in the case of Saddam Hussein — have been moved out of Iran in recent months by friends and relatives of the leading officials.
We may yet be lucky and have the Iranians themselves solve our problems. I fear we’ll have to push them over the edge and take a hand in this. I am confident we will not let this threat emerge. Let the Europeans play at diplomacy while we prepare for one of our three options.
Shoot, maybe the EU horse will sing.
“Chinese Threat” (Posted February 18, 2004)
This article (via Winds of Change, via Instapundit) discusses the looming competition over oil between the United States and China:
Sixty-seven years ago, oil-starved Japan embarked on an aggressive expansionary policy designed to secure its growing energy needs, which eventually led the nation into a world war. Today, another Asian power thirsts for oil: China.

While the U.S. is absorbed in fighting the war on terror, the seeds of what could be the next world war are quietly germinating. With 1.3 billion people and an economy growing at a phenomenal 8% to 10% a year, China, already a net oil importer, is growing increasingly dependent on imported oil. Last year, its auto sales grew 70% and its oil imports were up 30% from the previous year, making it the world's No. 2 petroleum user after the U.S. By 2030, China is expected to have more cars than the U.S. and import as much oil as the U.S. does today.

Dependence on oil means dependence on the Middle East, home to 70% of the world's proven reserves. With 60% of its oil imports coming from the Middle East, China can no longer afford to sit on the sidelines of the tumultuous region. Its way of forming a footprint in the Middle East has been through providing technology and components for weapons of mass destruction and their delivery systems to unsavory regimes in places such as Iran, Iraq and Syria. A report by the U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission, a group created by Congress to monitor U.S.-China relations, warned in 2002 that "this arms trafficking to these regimes presents an increasing threat to U.S. security interests in the Middle East." The report concludes: "A key driver in China's relations with terrorist-sponsoring governments is its dependence on foreign oil to fuel its economic development. This dependency is expected to increase over the coming decade."

Optimists claim that the world oil market will be able to accommodate China and that, instead of conflict, China's thirst could create mutual desire for stability in the Middle East and thus actually bring Beijing closer to the U.S.

History shows the opposite: Superpowers find it difficult to coexist while competing over scarce resources. The main bone of contention probably will revolve around China's relations with Saudi Arabia, home to a quarter of the world's oil. The Chinese have already supplied the Saudis with intermediate-range ballistic missiles, and they played a major role 20 years ago in a Saudi-financed Pakistani nuclear effort that may one day leave a nuclear weapon in the hands of a Taliban-type regime in Riyadh or Islamabad.
First, I’m not that impressed with the Chinese 8-10 percent annual growth rate. It’s easy to get that kind of growth when you put peasants into factories. The most productive peasant will be outshone GDP-wise by the worst, most inefficient factory worker. The Soviets did this for decades, making it seem like they advanced more than they did. Let’s see how China maintains growth once they have to improve existing urban workers, with few peasants available for the cheap input.
Certainly, China will be more powerful in thirty years. But will they rival us? I doubt it. More on that in a bit. Will they be a tough opponent to fight in their own backyard? Sure. Defending South Korea (or a united Korea), Taiwan, or Vietnam will be challenging with China right there and the US an ocean away. Yet those three countries would be tough for China to crack as long as we support them.
And we can count on a lot of allies to help us. Or at the very least, there are powers that China has to watch. From South Korea going clockwise, we have a powerful South Korean army, a small but modern air force, and a credible naval force. If sufficiently threatened, South Korea could field long-range missiles with nuclear warheads.
Then we have Japan. Their army is small but their air force is good if small and their navy could defeat China’s navy with no help from anybody else. Japan, too, could go nuclear if it feels it must.
Taiwan is vulnerable but if the Taiwanese are serious about reforming their military and if we can deter the Chinese for the rest of the decade, Taiwan could be secure again as they used to be. And as with ROK and Japan, Taiwan could go nuclear.
The Philippines are weak but could provide bases for the US.
Vietnam has about a millennium and a half of hostility to keep them as a Chinese opponent.
Thailand is friendly and even has a small aircraft carrier.
Singapore may let America base a carrier there.
Indonesia is a large potential foe of China.
Australia is our ally and we are going to base equipment in the area. The Australians are gearing up for a more expeditionary military.
India is a growing power that has tested nukes in 1998. They are forging closer ties with America.
Afghanistan is friendly.
The former Soviet Central Asian ‘Stans’ are hosting American bases.
Russia is fearful of the Chinese swamping them in the Far East. Russia’s residual nuclear arsenal is scary and formidable. And Russia could rebound and rebuild its military to a certain degree. And if the Russians focus more of their power toward China rather than pining for the glory days of the Cold War when the Red Army prepared to march west, the Chinese will have to look over their shoulder as they seek to project power overseas.
Mongolia fears the Chinese goliath to the south.
That’s quite a ring of potential enemies. I wouldn’t want to swap geography with the Chinese!
So what if China’s efforts to gain influence in Saudi Arabia to gain oil access bear fruit sometime in the future? Would China be able to secure supply lines from Saudi Arabia through the Indian Ocean, through Indonesian waters, up the South China Sea gauntlet, and into China? Look at all the navies and air bases that could strangle China. Truly, China would be a terribly vulnerable superpower in case of war. This might make them a little more reasonable alone.
But will China really become powerful enough to threaten us?
Certainly, China is and can be a greater regional power. As long as we have to project power into China’s front yard, China can compete even with a much lower economic level. But check out this, via Instapundit who links to Drezner who notes an interesting article on Asian demographics. The Chinese demographic trends are notable:
Between 2000 and 2025 China’s median age is set to rise very substantially: from about 30 to around 39. According to unpd projections for 2025, in fact, China’s median age will be higher than America’s. The impending tempo of population aging in China is very nearly as rapid as anything history has yet seen. It will be far faster than what was recorded in the more developed regions over the past three decades and is exceeded only by Japan. There is a crucial difference, however, between Japan’s recent past and China’s prospective future. To put the matter bluntly, Japan became rich before it became old; China will do things the other way around. When Japan had the same proportion of population 65 and older as does China today (2000), its level of per capita output was three times higher than China’s is now. In 2025, 13.4 percent of China’s population is projected to be 65-plus; when Japan crossed the 13.4 percent threshold, its per capita gdp was approaching $20,000 a year (constant 1990 ppp dollars). One need not be a “Sino-pessimist” to suggest that China will be nowhere near that same economic marker 22 years from now.

Although China’s population will hardly be as elderly as Japan’s by 2025, its impending aging process promises to generate problems of a sort that Japan does not have to face. The first relates to its national pension system: Japan’s may be financially vulnerable, but China’s is nonexistent. Government or enterprise-based retirement programs cover only about one-sixth of the contemporary Chinese work force — and nearly all of the pieces in this haphazard patchwork are amazingly unsound in actuarial terms.10 Although Chinese leadership has been committed since 1997 to establishing a sturdy and universal social security system, actions to date have lagged far behind words and the system remains only in the planning stage.

For most aging Chinese today, the pension system is the family, and even with continuing national economic progress, Chinese families are likely to be placed under mounting pressure by the swelling ranks of seniors. By 2025, there will be nearly 300 million members of China’s 60-plus population, but, at the same time, the cohorts rising into that pool will be the same people who accounted for China’s sub-replacement fertility patterns in the early 1990s and thereafter. Absent a functioning nationwide pension program, unforgiving arithmetic suggests there may be something approaching a one-to-one ratio emerging between elderly parents and the children obliged to support them. Even worse, from the perspective of a Confucian culture, a sizable fraction — perhaps nearly one-fourth — of these older Chinese will have no living son on whom to rely for sustenance. One need not be a novelist to imagine the intense social tensions such conditions could engender (to say nothing of the personal and humanitarian tragedies).

Second, and no less important, there is no particular reason to expect that older people in China will be able to make the same sort of contributions to economic life as their counterparts in Japan. In low-income economies, the daily demands of ordinary work are more arduous than in rich countries: The employment structure is weighted toward categories more likely to require intense manual labor, and even ostensibly non-manual positions may require considerable physical stamina. According to official Chinese statistics, nearly half of the country’s current labor force toils in the fields, and another fifth is employed in mining and quarrying, manufacturing, construction, or transport — occupations generally not favoring the frail. Even with continuing structural transformations, regular work in 2025 is sure to be much more strenuous in China than in Japan. Moreover, China’s older population may not be as hardy as peers from affluent societies — people likely to have been better fed, housed, and doctored than China’s elderly throughout the course of their lives.

Data on the health status of older people in China and other countries tend to be spotty and problematic, and comparability of method can never be taken for granted. However, some of the survey data that are available through Réseau sur l’Espérance de Vie en Santé (reves), the international network of “health expectancy” researchers, are thought-provoking. According to a 1989–90 “health expectancy” study for Sichuan province, a person 60 years of age would spend less than half (48 percent) of his or her remaining years in passable health. By contrast, a study in West Germany for 1986 calculated that a 60-year-old woman could expect to spend 70 percent of her remaining time in “good health.” For men the fraction was 75 percent.11 Although one probably should not push those findings too far, they are certainly consistent with the proposition that China’s seniors are more brittle than older populations from more comfortable and prosperous locales.

Thus, China’s rapidly graying population appears to face a triple bind. Without a broad-coverage national pension system, and with only limited filial resources to fall back on, paid work will of necessity loom large as an option for economic security for many older Chinese. But employment in China, today and tomorrow, will be more physically punishing than in oecd countries, and China’s older cohorts are simply less likely to be up to the task. The aggregation of hundreds of millions of individual experiences with this triple bind over the coming generation will be a set of economic, social, and political constraints on Chinese development — and power augmentation — that have not as yet been fully appreciated in Beijing, much less overseas
Sorry, that was a long quote but it is quite interesting. This demographic challenge seems to be a real problem for a China that wants to be aggressive and challenge American dominance.
Plus, the legacy of the one-child policy will make for a nation of little kings. Will the Chinese be willing to sacrifice their only sons for foreign adventure?
Some wrote us off when the Soviets were rising, with one author I read years ago asserting that the American century ended in 1975 and the next century would be Moscow’s.
I’m still betting on the US emerging from this threat as the number one power.
“Just In Case They Aren’t Really Paying Attention” (Posted February 18, 2004)
We keep telling Pyongyang and the Pillsbury Psychoboy that we are serious about them abandoning nuclear weapons. Yet they seem to insist on working from the old play book when North Korean saber rattling led to wobbly Westerners calling for concessions, and the US and the West complying.
The times they are a changing (and to be fair, when North Korea was stronger and more stable, their threats were credible):
"I think North Korea's unwillingness to discuss the uranium enrichment program could subvert President Bush's determination for a peaceful, diplomatic resolution of the North Korean issue," Bolton said in an interview with Japanese public broadcaster NHK.
Threats to our nation and people are looked at a little differently since 9-11.
Is there anybody in North Korea who can explain this to the Dear Nutjob?
“A Sign We are Winning in Iraq” (Posted February 18, 2004)
The Japanese and local Iraqis are having some problems agreeing on a price for renting land for a base. So what do the Iraqis threaten to do? Car bomb? Give their blood and souls for Saddam? No. They threaten this:
Iraqis negotiating over rent with Japanese troops building a base on their land said Wednesday the talks have broken down and threatened to sue, though Japan denied an impasse. … Mirsal, who owns about a third of the 1,400 acres that Japan wants for the base, said the Iraqi landowners were considering legal action, and planned a protest in front of the base on Thursday.
<fatherlytearsofjoy>They grow up so fast!</fatherlytearsofjoy>
Law suits and protests! Seriously, this is kind of cool.
“Meanwhile in Iraq” (Posted February 17, 2004)
The Fallujah attack was carried out by Iraqis and not Islamists, apparently. The Baathists still have some teeth and the heart of the Sunni triangle is where they fight the most. In other locations within the Sunni triangle, it seems as if the Islamists have taken the lead role.
This has surprised me the most. I did not think the resistance would go on this long. But I did not think it would take until December to nail Saddam. And I didn’t think we would have problems keeping the borders secure to stop Islamists from coming in. Nonetheless, the Baathist/Islamist resistance has been relatively weak. They show no sign of being able to actually win. Yet reporters trot out the “if you aren’t winning, you’re losing” line, without really knowing whether we are winning or losing. I think the trend lines are good. We are winning more slowly than I thought, but money and foreign fervor combined with ample local weaponry have given the regime die-hards more resources than I thought they’d have.
For reporters, it seems easy for them to assume that a lengthy, slow path to victory is actually defeat because they wrongly believe insurgents have the advantage. Strategypage repeats what I’ve noted:
The Sunni Arab resistance, while they make for good media headlines, have a poor understanding of history. For example, since World War II, must insurgencies have failed. Moreover, insurgencies have always failed when the insurgents did not represent (ethnically or religiously) the majority of the population they were fighting amongst. Worse yet, if the Sunni Arab resistance triggers a civil war and causes Iraqi to break up, it should be noted that all the oil is in Kurdish or Shia Arab areas. The Sunni Arabs would be left with mostly desert.
Even Sunni leaders can see that Baathist and Islamist resistance will only harm the Sunnis.
We are winning.
“Solid Front Against the Psychopath in Pyongyang” (Posted February 17, 2004)
The North Koreans have been throwing tantrums hoping to get concessions from the US. This worked in the past but doesn’t seem to be getting them anywhere this time. The North Koreans pretend they aren’t desperate but they are in rough shape. According to the US diplomat:
"I don't think our position has changed from what it's been for quite some time," Bolton said. "The issue really is whether North Korea is prepared to make the commitment for the complete verifiable and irreversible dismantlement of its programs."
I think we can afford to hold tight. North Korea needs us and we don’t need to offer substantive concessions.
And, because of the Pakistanis, we now know that North Korea is trying to hide one path to nukes:
"If the North Koreans don't acknowledge the half of their program that deals with uranium enrichment, it's hard to see how you can get a complete verifiable and irreversible dismantlement," Bolton said.
Squeeze them ever so gently so they don’t notice they are strangling. Give them a little hope so they refrain from using their deteriorating military to lash out in desperation. One day it will be too late and they’ll just collapse.
“Preparing to Intervene?” (Posted February 17, 2004)
It sure looks like we are preparing to intervene in the Horn of Africa. General Abizaid visited Ethiopia to assess the combat capabilities of the nations of the region, according to the article. He also warned of terrorist threats in the region:
"We know the terrorists gravitate toward ungoverned spaces, and these are areas where they look for the opportunities to gain recruits, establish safe-havens and move money," he said. "We certainly have indications to believe that people associated with these groups operate in and around areas such as Somalia."
Talk of a spring offensive in Afghanistan makes no sense. We are patrolling big time on the Afghan side of the border while the Pakistanis make a real effort on their side. We promise not to cross the border without Pakistani permission (special ops and spooks don’t count) and the Pakistanis don’t want us in if they can help it. This isn’t to say that this isn’t a serious effort. But it does not rise to the level of a spring offensive. I think it is just a cover story to explain why some new forces will flow into the region, including an aircraft carrier according to the initial stories on the spring offensive.
No, the Horn should be the site of a new military operation in the spring. Mostly Somalia. We will use aircraft, special forces, Rangers, and maybe some Marines and Army regulars in small numbers. Allied special forces, warships, and recon aircraft, too, if we can bring them in.
We need to remind people we are still on the hunt and not sitting back, too tired to fight.
“Good Sign We’ll Support Our Friends” (Posted February 16, 2004)
We need to turn over sovereignty to Iraqis. But since we went to the trouble of invading and all, we really shouldn’t be shy about supporting our friends and insisting on ground rules that will aid our friends and hamper those who wish us ill:
Iraq's U.S. administrator suggested Monday he would block any move by Iraqi leaders to make Islamic law the backbone of an interim constitution, which women's groups fear could threaten their rights.
I hope Bremer isn’t bluffing.
Iran and the Lion” (Posted February 16, 2004)
An old joke has it that if a lion is chasing you, you don’t have to be able to run faster than the lion—just be faster than the slowest person in your group.
Well, a lot of Axis of Evil and Axis wannabees are breathing a sigh of relief as Iran’s mullahs just slashed their own leg:
Iran said Sunday that it plans to sell nuclear reactor fuel internationally, establishing the Islamic republic as a country with the technology required to enrich uranium.
We will catch them. I’ve felt since Baghdad fell that Iran is the next slowest guy in the group. They are hostile to us; despotic, have a population that likes us; and—the real key—don’t have nuclear weapons yet but clearly want them. This is my basic calculation—stopping the nutjobs from getting their first nuke trumps stopping the nutjobs from getting their third.
The Iranian mullahs just slowed down even more.
“The ‘Fraudulent’ Coalition” (Posted February 15, 2004)
The Netherlands will add to its forces in Iraq. The total will be 1,260 troops.
“Missing Links” (Posted February 15, 2004)
Aha. A link I meant to use but couldn’t find when I referred to it. Regarding US Army reorganization. (see the February 12 Strategypage article).
And my reference to the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace “200X” report. I remembered it, meant to go find it and link to it, and then forgot.
Anyway, here it is with the following little bit of CEIP wisdom of particular note:
According to a U.S. Defense Department 2001 report, “Iraq would need five or more years and key foreign assistance” to rebuild its nuclear facilities to enrich sufficient uranium for a nuclear weapon.2 Significantly, this time frame has not changed from the five to seven years estimated in the department’s 1996 assessment.3 The time will be considerably shortened if Baghdad acquires fissile material from foreign suppliers. Iraq’s greatest asset is the two dozen nuclear scientists and engineers still in Iraq.4 This expertise, combined with the absence of ground monitors and decreasing support for the U.N. sanctions regime, has led to heightened anxiety about Iraq’s program. Iraq may have a workable design for a nuclear weapon, and thus the major obstacle is its acquiring fissile material. If Iraq were to acquire material from another country, it is possible that it could assemble a nuclear weapon in months.5
Now, CEIP complains about the evidence, saying we made up the threat. In 2002, CEIP saw circumstances under which Iraq could assemble a nuclear weapon “in months.”
Quite the spin on Iraqi nuclear capabilities, eh? Wonder who will investigate CEIP for its blatant slanting of the hazy information about Saddam’s WMD ambitions?
“A Backlash to ‘Bully’ America” (Posted February 14, 2004)
I’m getting tired of reading stories like this. The title is “A Backlash to ‘bully’ America” in the Christian Science Monitor. The first sentence sets the tone:
Rarely in history has a country been as powerful as the United States is today. And that may be taking a toll on the rest of the world.
The article says that our rivals worry about our dominance and that their common concerns have become more focused and unified. Even our traditional allies and friends fear our dominance. And of course, some developing countries “complain that they are too often bullied by the US” (they throw in the Europeans too, thank goodness!). Our ongoing operations in Iraq are one cause and even the Kosovo War is a sore point.
The litany of our sins follows rapidly.
Latin American countries are upset about our actions to support the Colombian government.
Our allies are upset at national missile defense.
The US has rejected popular international initiatives like the international criminal court, nuclear weapons test bans, and a proposal to ban landmines.
Then the author hauls out a national security expert from the US Institute for Peace:
“You can get away with unilateralism for only the briefest of times,” he says. “You can’t have it both ways—pushing for greater globalization but not supporting things like an international criminal court or the United Nations”
Another expert chimes in:
One of the most important things the next president will have to do is strengthen our alliances and explain to other countries why our presence is needed around the world.
The complaints are old and the article says nothing new.
And I know the article can’t be right. It simply can’t be.
I know this because it was published September 14, 2000.
We all know that having other nations upset with us is all due to the current administration. I mean, in September 2000, we’d had nearly eight years of a multilateral-loving, UN-appeasing, lip-biting, apology-prone, compassionate, sophisticated, Euro-friendly administration.
Sorry. I couldn’t resist. I ran across the old article while cleaning out my office this week.
If you search by date or title, you’ll get the link to the article online. Sorry, it requires subscription or payment to get in.
Ah, the good old days when we were loved…
“Chinese Carriers” (Posted February 14, 2004)
The Chinese article says the lead ship should “commission” in 2006 and that a “battle group” should form “by 2010.” These appear to be very conservative dates. Evidence strongly suggests that these ships are intended to be a technical surprise in several senses, including initial operating dates. The 2006 date is more realistic for the first carrier group. All three ships could be operational with battle groups by 2008-2010. The Chinese article says that maintenance facilities have been built at Shanghai, Dailan and Zhejiang. From this, and PLAN (Peoples Liberation Army Navy) organization, it appears each fleet will be allocated a single carrier. 
So the Peking Olympics are in 2008?
As I’ve said, were I a ruthless Chinese dictatorship, I’d be really tempted to invade Taiwan in a lightning attack on the eve of the Olympics. Mobilization could be done under the cover of preparing for securing the Olympic site against terrorists. And if recovering Taiwan was truly paramount as the Chinese repeatedly claim, sacrificing the Olympics would be a small price to pay.
Besides, in time the Taiwanese will get better defenses and maybe nukes. Time is running out for the Chinese to absorb Taiwan. In another decade, reunification will rely on the Taiwanese voluntarily joining the mainland.
I don’t think the Chinese need the carriers to take Taiwan, but boy would they complicate our efforts to liberate the island if the Chinese manage a bolt from the blue airborne and amphibious attack that shocks the Taiwanese into submission.
“New Army Organization” (Posted February 14, 2004)
From the always useful (sorry, can’t find the link. I emailed the text to myself to remind myself to post it):
February 12, 2004: The U.S. Army wants to spend $20 billion over the next seven years to create a force of 42 active duty combat brigades (from the current force of 33), and increasing the number of National Guard combat brigades from 15 to 22. In addition, many unneeded field artillery, air defense, engineer, armor and ordnance battalions will be disbanded while increasing the number of military police, transportation, petroleum and water distribution, civil affairs, psychological operations and biological warfare detection units. The new combat brigades would be smaller than the current ones (two battalions versus three) and have more support units attached to enable the brigades to operate independently. The current 33 brigades include 11 light infantry, 17 heavy infantry and armor, 5 Stryker) will be turned into 15 infantry brigades, 22 armored brigades and five Stryker brigades. The new armor brigades will combine tanks and infantry by having four companies (two tank and two mech infantry) per each of its two battalions. The armor brigade would also have a recon battalion.
The exact details of the reorganization are still being worked out. For example, the fourth and fifth brigades in divisions would use the current headquarters of the aviation and engineer brigades to form headquarters.
That answers one question—the Stryker brigades will stay large infantry formations. Plus, the heavy battalions will have two companies each of armor and mechanized infantry. This is larger than current triangular battalions and will allow each battalion to fight with two balanced tank/infantry task forces. So the new heavy brigades will have two larger line battalions. Plus a recon battalion. With the artillery and other support units that will allow the brigade to fight on its own, they will be like small divisions with the full weight of the Air Force at its call.
Divisions are supposed to be refitted as they rotate out of Iraq. 3rd ID and 101st AB are the first.
I like the plan. I think the Army is adapting admirably to modernizing while fighting an ongoing war. No more strategic pause talk.
“State Is Capable of Being Forceful” (Posted February 14, 2004)
Powell put a staffer and a US Rep. in their place in testimony before Congress.
Good. I like Powell. Sure, his department has an unfortunate tendency to be wishy washy, but that’s why we have a Department of Defense too. Their job is to be the “good cop” for the most part. So I don’t get too upset the Powell isn’t Rumsfeld. At the end of the day, it seems that Powell advocates the administration line.
I’m not happy with State a lot of times, I just don’t despair for the republic over it.
Anyway, kudos to Powell.
“Evolving Resistance” (Posted February 14, 2004)
I’ve got to believe that killing police officers and freeing criminals isn’t the best way to win the hearts and minds of the Iraqis. Of course, if it scares Iraqi police and civilians from cooperating with us, that is clearly bad. We need to make the Iraqi security forces harder targets. The Iraqi Civil Defense Corps building was able to take the heat but the attack on them was probably just to pin them down to keep them from intervening in the attack on the police station:
Police Lt. Col. Jalal Sabri said 21 people were killed, almost all police. Among the dead were four attackers, two of whom carried Lebanese passports, he said. Two other attackers were captured, and the rest escaped.
And the attack appeared to be designed to free three foreign fighters being held prisoner at the station. This makes sense. Would Baathists risk an attack to free foreign fighters? I doubt it.
I know we’ve basically pulled out of Fallujah to let the Iraqis police this nest of resistance, but we can’t let the police and security forces take it on the chin like this. Seventy insurgents are way too many. We have to do something to keep them from massing in formations that large. Isolated police posts and government facilities will always be vulnerable if they must face that many attackers.
On the bright side, the Iraqi security forces apparently are on our side since the insurgents saw fit to attack them.
It is interesting if the major fighters are foreigners. This seems to be the norm in the country. This makes perfect sense. Al Qaeda already is rumored to have shifted priority to Iraq from Afghanistan. And Saddam’s regime has pre-war connections with al Qaeda and Islamists. With attacks generally down since Saddam’s capture but suicide bombings up, the primacy of Islamists seems apparent. (Although this article notes somebody who thinks the Fallujah attack was done by Baathists. Strategypage thinks they were Sunnis, too. Doesn’t make sense to me, however.)
This article discusses the apparent changes in the resistance:
The fourth deadly suicide bombing in Iraq in less than two weeks suggests that the insurgency that has bedeviled the Americans and Iraqis since the collapse of Saddam Hussein's government is changing in important ways.

Since peaking in mid-November, attacks against American soldiers have dropped by more than half, and the gun battles between American soldiers and Iraqi insurgents that used to mark daily life in many cities and towns seem in many places to be on the wane.

At the same time, attacks have increasingly focused on Iraqi civilians, particularly those who are seen to be collaborating with the American-led occupation.

And the attacks are less likely to involve rocket-propelled grenades and homemade bombs from Baathist arsenals.

Instead, suicide bombings have aimed to inflict maximum damage on Iraqi institutions like the police and military that are central to the American effort to turn over the reins of government by June 30.

Some American and Iraqi officials call these changes evidence that the insurgency is being sustained by foreign fighters with links to international terrorist groups like Al Qaeda, as the ranks of Mr. Hussein's cadre are thinned by capture or death.
This is good. I think the enemy made a mistake taking their sights off of Americans. They probably felt they had no choice since our troops are hard targets and inflicted far more casualties than we suffered. And we give no indication we will cut and run.
Yet turning on the Iraqis will only make the Iraqis ruthless with the foreign elements. The hope is that the attacks will scare Iraqis and turn them against us and the new Iraqi government. But I still think the Sunnis are beginning to realize we are their only protection once we turn over sovereignty to the Iraqis dominate by Shias and Kurds.
The date of direct elections may yet be uncertain, but the June 30 turnover date should be solid.
“But They Agreed to Suspend Their Nuke Activities!” (Posted February 14, 2004)
This from Iran:
U.N. inspectors in Iran have discovered undeclared designs for an advanced centrifuge used to enrich uranium, diplomats said Thursday, another apparent link to the nuclear black market emanating from Pakistan.
But wouldn’t an Iran that had agreed to the EU initiative to suspend their nuclear activities have declared something so obvious? I mean, when you are talking sophisticated European diplomacy, this would be one of the obvious fruits, wouldn’t it? But of course, Iran didn’t come clean:
The diplomats, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said Iran did not volunteer the designs. Instead, they said, IAEA inspectors had to dig for them.
You’re thinking, but didn’t Iran agree to suspend its nuclear activities in a major victory for EU diplomacy? Well, not quite:
The IAEA continues to negotiate with Iran on what constitutes suspension, but ElBaradei also is known to be seeking a commitment from Iran to stop assembling centrifuges.
It was left to a simplistic American to state the obvious:
"We're not convinced Iran has come completely clean," Undersecretary of State John R. Bolton told a security conference in Berlin. "There is no doubt in our minds that Iran continues to pursue nuclear weapons. They have not complied even with the commitment they made in October."
We’ll see how the Europeans deal with this slap at their well-intentioned faces. At worst, it buys us some time for the Europeans to try and fail to solve the problem their way. With Europe in range of Iran’s nuclear-tipped missile ambitions, perhaps the EU will be more active in a military solution should it come to that. Or to supply troops with the new military organization for power projection we’ve pushed Europe to create, after an Iranian civil war. The Europeans have time, after all, before 2005 when I think we’ll deal with Iran’s nuclear ambitions.
This, on the other hand, is some good diplomatic activity:
U.S. Navy forces may board thousands of commercial ships in international waters to search for weapons of mass destruction under a landmark deal signed this week between the United States and Liberia, the world's No. 2 shipping registry.
Maybe we got something concrete out of our Liberian foray after all. I assumed we bargained with Kofi Annan for something on Iraq.
“Maybe Saddam Read The Dignified Rant” (Posted February 13, 2004)
My greatest failure of my pre-war predictions was my eventual belief that two American heavy divisions and 101st AB would attack toward Baghdad on a front west of the Euphrates ranging from Jordan to Kuwait. Well, apparently, Saddam’s generals expected the main effort to kick off from Jordan too:
Mr. Hussein believed that a "casualty averse" White House would order a bombing campaign that Iraq could withstand, according to the secret report, prepared for the Pentagon's most senior leadership and dated Jan. 26. And the Iraqi Defense Ministry, in a grand miscalculation, believed that any ground offensive would come across the Jordanian border.
Of course, the reason why Saddam would never have given in to demands for full disarmament (and why keeping a hundred thousand troops massed in Kuwait indefinitely would never have worked to end the crisis):
A complacent Saddam Hussein was so convinced that war would be averted or that America would mount only a limited bombing campaign that he deployed the Iraqi military to crush domestic uprisings rather than defend against a ground invasion, according to a classified log of interrogations of captured Iraqi leaders and former officers.
Saddam failed to do so many things that I assumed he’d do to defend his country that this explanation really is the only one to make sense. Hide his assets (like burying precious combat aircraft and probably whatever WMD he still had), keep the Republican Guards north to be as far from our air power as possible, deploy the regulars and para-military thugs to control the Kurds and Shias in case they revolted, and get Baghdad Bob ready to tell tales of shot down American planes and mass killings by American missiles.
The article also explains why the Iraqi army didn’t defect when we invaded:
When a wave of calls went out to the private telephone numbers of selected officials inside Iraq, asking them to turn against Mr. Hussein and avoid war, the Arabic speakers making the calls were so fluent that the recipients did not believe the calls were from Americans.

Instead, the Iraqis believed the calls were part of a "loyalty test" mounted by Mr. Hussein's secret services, the officials said during questioning. Afraid of arrest, incarceration, torture and even death, they refused to cooperate.

But as a result, the officers limited their calls or stopped using those telephones altogether, hampering their ability to communicate in the critical days before war.
I’d read before the war that loyal Saddam guys would sneak into barracks in the middle of the night, wake up the officers, and whisper “The coup is on, brother officer. Are you with us?” Any fool saying yes would be shot. Rather deterred the army from organizing an effective revolt.
Saddam’s calculation envisioned sacrificing his military to retain his odious regime. He didn’t expect anything more than a heavy air campaign that would never touch his regime at the end of the day:
The leadership in Baghdad believed the United States would mount a long-distance air war, mostly focused in the south because Turkey, north of Iraq, had denied access rights. A bombing campaign could "be absorbed," leaving the government in control, Iraqi officials said during their interrogations.
Regime change by invasion was our only option.
“More of This, Please” (Posted February 11, 2004)
Our generals clearly expected to be greeted with bugs and chemicals when we went into Iraq. No surprise here.
What I really like is that Senator Levin asked a couple of good, serious questions:
Michigan Sen. Carl Levin, the committee's top Democrat, said there were consequences to the intelligence problem on weapons and on other issues.

For instance, there were more than 500 sites where weapons of mass destruction were believed stored, he said, adding: "That means that there may have been targets that we did not strike because we were concerned about collateral damage from a potential release of chemical and biological weapons."

Intelligence also indicated Iraqi police would stay in their stations, and when that didn't happen, it likely contributed to the widespread looting that destroyed government files and buildings, Levin said.
We need to look at our intelligence services. This is serious stuff. And I’m glad to see an opposition senator ask serious questions.
“Root Cause of Islamist Terrorism” (Posted February 11, 2004)
Well, I thought it was supposed to be poverty and exploitation. But then I read this:
In December, Italian investigators said they shut down a European network suspected of recruiting Islamic militants to carry out attacks on U.S.-led forces in Iraq. The investigators said the volunteers were drawn from Muslim youths living on the fringes of society in Western Europe, including Italy.
I guess the root cause is really expansive welfare benefits and an indulgent society that lets you spend your ample spare time sulking about personal failure and doesn’t hold you to any societal standards.
If only the Europeans showed more compassion to their troubled immigrants, right?
“Spring Offensive” (Posted February 11, 2004)
We plan a spring offensive. This I believe.
We plan on doing some work in Afghanistan in the spring, possibly flowing into Pakistan. I believe this, too.
But I don’t think this is our big spring offensive. Note this on Afghanistan:
Resistance to U.S.-led forces in Afghanistan is "running out of energy," according to NATO's top military commander, who said the number of hardcore Islamic insurgents may have fallen below 1,000.
If the Taliban are running down, it certainly makes sense to pile on and hit them harder. But we hardly need Rangers and an aircraft carrier to reinforce the effort, as earlier reports on the spring offensive report.
I’m still sticking to the Horn of Africa as the spring target.
“The War on Terror is Global—Just Not in Iraq?” (Posted February 10, 2004)
First of all, let me say that defeating Iraq would have been just and in our national interest even if Islamists did not exist. Though linked, I believe it is possible to describe dealing with Saddam’s Iraq as separate from the War on Terror.
That said, I am mightily tired of people pretending they too want to fight our enemies (and it is tough for them to admit thugs want to kill us) by arguing that invading Iraq “diverted” us from fighting (or rather, “policing”) al Qaeda and their ilk. Peters is torqued too:
The critics insist that our government's attention was forced away from the urgent pursuit of terrorists. It simply isn't true. The instruments of power used to overthrow Saddam were fundamentally different from those required by the cat-and-mouse game that continues on the Afghan-Pakistani border - or in the countless rat-holes around the world where our efforts don't show up on 24/7.

What did those on the left want us to do in Afghanistan, anyway? If you go back to the autumn of 2001, you'll find the answer is "Nothing." Have they had a change of heart? Would they like to deploy a half-dozen Army divisions to Kandahar?

The fact is that Afghanistan and Iraq are fundamentally different and require nearly-opposite approaches. Rural Afghans truly are warriors and their xenophobia runs deeper than their petty selfishness. Iraqis (except for the Kurds) have no warrior tradition. Born collaborators, they pursue personal, family and clan self-interest.

"Resistance" to our occupation in Iraq has been petty in historical terms, the actions of the bitter few, not the grasping many. In Afghanistan, however, too heavy a hand would embitter the population and wreck any chance of building even a semi-functional state.

The War on Terror in Afghanistan is like a basketball game. You don't want a hundred players crowding the court. It's about strategy and agility, skill and the will to win, not raw numbers.

Occupations never lasted in Afghanistan. But artful policy and limited campaigns did the trick, from the age of the khans down to the age of Kipling.

Have we done everything perfectly in Afghanistan? Or in Iraq, for that matter? Of course not. Warfare never lacks some ragged edges. The arrows in the history books are tidy and clear, but battlefields are not. The enemy doesn't behave according to your script. Even the best commanders err occasionally. But our military successes, in both theaters of operation, have been remarkable by any standard.
In any event, I eagerly await the “diversion” crowd’s plans for using our conventional military power in the war on terror.
Of course, an armored sweep west through France to Paris conceivably could be a great help. Wonder if the Germans would help us for old times’ sake?
Never mind. Just a pleasant detour to my happy place.
“The Fraudulent Coalition Steps Up” (Posted February 10, 2004)
As France withdraws from the Western coalition and Germany refuses to step up after initial halting steps in the Balkans, others step up to shoulder their responsibilities to defending the West and helping America. South Koreans, and Spanish, and Polish, and Ukrainian, and smaller numbers from numerous other nations who deserve the title ‘ally’ are aiding us. Many traditional allies are among them.
Japan is stepping up as well. Japanese troops are arriving in Iraq:
Koizumi and other supporters of the deployment view the mission as a step on Japan's inevitable path to becoming a "normal nation," capable not only of defending itself but of playing a more active role in global conflicts. Japan, they say, is finally living up to the responsibilities of having the world's second-largest economy, with many envisioning a time when Tokyo stands side by side with Washington -- its protector for half a century -- sharing the burden of managing global trouble spots.

The Japanese were deeply stung by U.S. criticism following the 1991 Persian Gulf War that Tokyo had effectively purchased the safety of Japanese citizens by dispatching $13 billion instead of troops. Japan slowly began to alter its position, sending members of the Self-Defense Forces on limited engineering and technical missions to Cambodia, East Timor, Africa and the Golan Heights -- always as part of U.N. peacekeeping forces.
We will win. We are winning. And if our purported allies don’t step up before we win, we will not forget that. They are close as it is to being on their own when the stuff hits the fan.
I wish them luck.
“Enhancing Unit Cohesion” (Posted February 10, 2004)
Dang. The Army is serious about enhancing unit cohesion:
The Army announced yesterday that it will discourage the type of nomadic career that has characterized Army life for generations and will instead station soldiers at one base for much of their service, an effort to improve combat readiness and make life easier on troops and their families.

The new policy calls for troops to remain at their first post for six to seven years -- twice as long as the current average -- and envisions bringing them back to the home base later in their career as well.
Good. This is an intangible that is tough to quantify yet is very important to winning wars.
“Another Thought on the Iraqi Scam Artists” (Posted February 10, 2004)
I’m already on record as being highly skeptical that all of Iraq’s WMD scientists were in on a scam to trick Saddam into thinking that they were all working on real weapons. I’ve already mentioned the idea that all those scientists conning money out of the likes of Saddam is so highly unlikely that it should not be first on the list.
But just as important is that not all of the scientists would have had to play a con game. The nuke scientists would have had to do a con. Although the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace in 200X said that if Saddam got fissionable material, the Iraqis could build the bomb in months. Still, absent a shipment of bomb-ready material, Saddam was many years from a real program.
But what about chemical weapons? The Iraqis had a lot of experience with this and it could be made in civilian facilities. Why couldn’t the chemical guys have pointed to small programs making small amounts and refining procedures and recipes in preparation for a big breakout when the time came?
Or the bio guys. A small laboratory was sufficient for a real program to develop weapons.
Indeed, if the UN inspectors under Blix prior to the Iraq War hadn’t discovered a class of Iraqi missiles that violated range limits, I wonder if the scam would have extended to these? Would we also be hearing that those missiles, which were destroyed in the war in this scenario, were within the limits but the missile guys only told Saddam they were longer ranged?
I’m just not buying it.
“Reason for Overthrowing the Mullahs” (Posted February 10, 2004)
Ledeen has consistently called for supporting regime opponents in Iran. I agree with him. But I guess I have real problems with his assertion that we must destroy the mullahs in Iran in order to secure Iraq.
We need to keep Iranian agents out of Iraq and bolster our Iraqi friends to win. As Thucydides would have asked, why make an enemy of a state that just helps our current enemy? Is it better to fight Iraqi Baathists and foreign Islamists who receive help from Iran; or would we be better off fighting Iraqi Baathists and foreign Islamists and Iran?
This is not to say that a win in Iran wouldn’t help us in Iraq. It sure would. But linking them too closely is a mistake. Both are problems. They affect each other. But they are winnable on their own. The very memo he cites from one of the foreign Islamist leaders inside Iraq details how we are winning even as the mullahs support chaos and try to incite civil war in Iraq. (And al Qaeda’s worries that they will get no traction once we hand over sovereignty to the Iraqis shows we must keep our deadline of this summer. Don’t let Kofi Annan delay us in this. Will the Iraqi people—long betrayed by the UN—think that UN advice to delay Iraqi control is good?)
Deal with Iran we must.
But deal with Iran on our timetable.
And in the meantime, offer our full moral support for the opponents of the regime in Tehran. They need to know we do not stand with the thugs in clerical garb. The Iranian mullahs need to worry more about what we will do to them instead of spending their free time figuring out how to nail us. Nice words from State won’t keep the Tehran mullahs quiet in Iraq—or non-nuclear for that matter.
Of course, maybe (via Instapundit) we are waiting on this project to get going:
Details are still being crafted. But the initiative, scheduled to be announced at the G-8 summit hosted by President Bush at Sea Island, Ga., in June, would call for Arab and South Asian governments to adopt major political reforms, be held accountable on human rights -- particularly women's empowerment -- and introduce economic reforms, U.S. and European officials said.

As incentives for the targeted countries to cooperate, Western nations would offer to expand political engagement, increase aid, facilitate membership in the World Trade Organization and foster security arrangements, possibly some equivalent of the Partnership for Peace with former Eastern Bloc countries.
By framing the question in terms of human rights and democracy for the Moslem world, even the Canadians (who are doing serious work on this) may sign on.
And I really want to know why our press still doesn’t cover Iran. This from Ledeen’s column came as a complete surprise to me:
Demonstrations in Kerman a couple of weeks ago were so large that the regime was forced to bring in helicopter gunships to mow down the protesters, and the usual thugs were unleashed on student demonstrators in Tehran and Shiraz in the last few days.
Iran in 2005. That’s still my guess. Unless the Iranians win one on their own before then.
“Target-Rich Environment?” (Posted February 9, 2004)
I’m already on record as saying I think a special operations offensive will target the Horn of Africa region. Probably centered on Somalia. This from my Jane’s email:
Al-Qaeda's shadow over East Africa
Osama bin Laden's Al-Qaeda network remains a significant threat in many parts of Africa. Several Western intelligence agencies have conceded that there is a growing body of evidence that, in spite of the deployment of several major Western security elements along the east African coast, Al-Qaeda's influence appears to have garnered strength in the past year or two. The biggest single problem is that huge numbers of Al-Qaeda operatives have managed to ingratiate themselves with local communities along almost the entire 2,000 miles of coastline that stretches from the Sudan in the north, to Mozambique in the south.

[Jane's Islamic Affairs Analyst - first posted to - 30 January 2004]
I’d be surprised if our attacks were wide-ranging, from Sudan to Mozambique, but attacks in Somalia and in northern Kenya with the assistance of the Kenyans seem likely to me.
We need an offensive. Too many people, especially our enemies, think we have lost the will to win. They think perhaps we are too tired to go after the thugs and kill them. As al Qaeda regroups after their Afghanistan pasting, an attack to kill them as they regroup in order to throw them on the defensive looks in order. Our Djibouti base and help from allies at sea and in the air have probably painted a picture of regrouping Islamists in the region.
If we don’t pursue them, they’ll attack us again.
Never forget what they did to us. Not for one damn minute.
“For the Press, We Just Can’t Win” (Posted February 9, 2004)
Al Qaeda is having problems getting Iraqis to help them attack us. One would think this is good news.
But no, according to this AP writer:
A letter seized from an al-Qaida courier shows Osama bin Laden has made little headway in recruiting Iraqis for a holy war against America, raising questions about the Bush administration's contention that Iraq is the central front in the war on terror.
Wow. Our enemy is having troubles and this calls into question our fighting in Iraq. It seems like only yesterday that critics were claiming that invading Iraq was creating Islamist enemies in Iraq.
But as long as your conclusion is that America is losing, or wrong, or both, what comes above the conclusion doesn’t really matter, does it?
But, with some evidence that attacks are dwindling since the capture of Saddam, the difficulties of the Islamists are good signs. It may be that the Islamists are causing the casualties with their more effective and bigger attacks. And if they are losing hope, that too will peter out.
But I can just see it. At some point we’ll have the last resister cornered and the press will breathlessly wonder if we will accept his demands for our surrender.
“Deploying the Korean Army” (Posted February 7, 2004)
And thank you to the South Korean soldiers who are volunteering in droves to man the brigade that will deploy to the Kirkuk region to help us.
“Deploying the Army” (Posted February 7, 2004)
The new unit manning system we are embarking on will make our Army better. If you recall in We Were Soldiers Once, and Young, the superb air cavalry battalion that Moore built was decimated on the eve of deployment to combat in Vietnam when soldiers short on their enlistment were pulled out of the unit and replaced by newbies. It hurt.
Some complain now that our stop-loss orders to keep soldiers in units deploying to Iraq in their units rather than let them leave the service when their terms are up is wrong. Bull. We are at war. They are needed. We need to extend their enlistments for the rotation. The units going will be better for their presence. Unit cohesion, don’t you know.
This will be our new policy as Strategypage explains. One factor that is interesting is how it will affect the readiness of units for deployment:
The new system means that about 75 percent of your combat units will always be a peak effectiveness, Even those units that are in the two month break or six months of training can be sent off to a combat zone if it’s an emergency. Such units will still have excellent NCOs and officers, and the troops will all have completed their individual combat training. During the 36 Month cycle, troops lost due to sickness, accidents or other causes will be replaced in groups, that will go through special training to familiarize them on how the unit operates. Such losses will not be large, and will not, based on past experience, do much damage to the units effectiveness.

The 36 month system is based on lessons learned from earlier attempts, and most of the things that can go wrong have been addressed. Everyone in the army agrees that keeping troops together makes them more effective in combat. At this point, it’s up to the senior generals to fight off attempts by the many bureaucracies and special interests to wreck the system. In the end, it always depends on the quality of the leadership.
Now, this is significant when you look at the reorganization of our divisions. A recent DOD briefing (sorry, I don’t have the link) noted that right now we are committed to going from 33 combat brigades to 43 smaller combat brigades. We are going to do this by adding one brigade to each of our divisions (we’ll hopefully add five more if we can. I’d guess 1st CAV, 1st AD, 1st ID, 3rd ID, and 4th ID). So, if 75% of our combat units will be effective, that means we can rotate the training schedule within each of our division. With four combat brigades in each division, we’ll be able to deploy a division with three smaller brigades at all times. And we’ll be able to do this with all of our division. They’ll be smaller and so more deployable. Plus, with more self-contained brigades, we’ll be able to plug in brigades from other divisions if we need to when power is more important than speed. Or to reinforce the division later after it is in the theatre. Or we can add reserve brigades or battalions. We already mixed and matched brigades in the Iraq War and in the post-war fight with the terrorsits and Baathists. We also used Guard enhanced readiness battalions quite effectively.
I still think we need a couple more divisions, probably motorized infantry division with some armor support in each. And more MPs.
But this reorganization looks good to me for what we need to do in the next decade.
“Support Our Friends and Ideals in Iraq” (Posted February 7, 2004)
We can’t be neutral on the internal politics of Iraq:
Individual religious liberty and women's equality must be guaranteed in Iraq's interim constitution, otherwise all that we have fought for in the Middle East will be lost — not just for Iraq and its citizens, but for the United States's interests and democratic values as well.
Turning over guard duty and sovereignty to the Iraqis is fine—good in fact. But it is folly to just wash our hands and let hostile forces lobby for the support of Iraqis.
It is also folly to fear the Shias. This isn’t 1979 in Tehran. I think we have a real chance to realign the Shias to our side. Are there some Shias who are scary? Darn right. But what are we supposed to do, put the Sunnis in charge? The Shias have reason to be worried, though I think it is misplaced now. Yet the fear of losing remains. Remember the long, losing history of the Shias before we booted the Baathists from the throne:
Simply put, Shiites everywhere have been cheated. By the Ottomans, British, Sunni Arab Hashemites, pan-Arab nationalists, Baathists, and the first Bush administration, which let them die by the tens of thousands when Saddam put down the rebellion following the first Gulf War. To make matters worse for the Shiites of Iraq, their country is the birthplace of Shiism, where annually the faithful commemorate (except when the Sunnis wouldn't let them) the mother of all shortchanges, the defeat and martyrdom of the Imam Hussein, the son of the Caliph Ali and the grandson of the Prophet Muhammad. Muslims loyal to an Umayyad caliph in Damascus--the folks who would later be called Sunnis--won the day, and kept on winning for 1,300 years (minus a few, usually short-lived, Shiite triumphs).
Support Shias who are moderate and supportive of us. Nail the nutjobs like Sadr who preach hate and rebellion. Don’t let them get away with it. It sends a bad signal to Iraqis that they need to get on board with the strongest local psychos rather than counting on voting and the rights of those who lose at the ballot box.
I don’t know if we are screwing up but I worry we might be. We won the war. We could still lose the peace, as I’ve long held. Nothing is guaranteed.
It’s something to watch.
“WMD in Iraq” (Posted February 7, 2004)
In an article on the quality of our intelligence, Babbin notes:
We may never know precisely what Saddam had and was capable of producing or using because we gave him six months to hide it. That his troops were equipped with anti-exposure suits and doses of antitoxins is quietly forgotten. The president and Secretary Powell seem ready to concede that the threat of Iraqi WMD wasn't what we thought it was. The most likely reason for the apparent failure — the six months we gave Saddam to move and hide his weapons — is not even being discussed.
Seriously, I want to know what happened with our intelligence on this issue, but why are we assuming we were wrong all along? We were wrong in March and April of 2003 but that could be a very different question.
While I’m satisfied with an examination of our intelligence services, I just don’t know enough to comment on whether Tenet should go.
But by all means, keep looking for the WMD while we examine the intelligence question. One fear I have is that one of our garrisons in Iraq will be hit with a chemical attack when the Baathists dig up some of the chemical shells they don’t have.
And as we consider the issues of Iraqi WMD and our intelligence, let’s remember what the Iraqis admitted having but failed to document its destruction. And remember what others thought Iraq had, both others contemporary with us and those in the past.
And remember, too, the alternative we had to overthrowing Saddam’s regime:
It is possible that instead of building up large stockpiles of weapons, Saddam decided the safer thing would be to advance his covert programs for producing weapons but wait until the pressure was off to produce the weapons themselves. By the time inspectors returned to Iraq in 2002, Saddam was ready to be a little more forthcoming, because he had rejiggered his program to withstand somewhat greater scrutiny. Nevertheless, even then he could not let the inspectors see everything. Undoubtedly he hoped that if he could get through that last round, he would be home free, eventually without sanctions or further inspections.

There are no doubt some Americans who believe that this would have been an acceptable outcome. Or who believe that another six months of inspections would have uncovered all that Saddam was hiding. Or that a policy of "containment"--which included 200,000 troops on Iraq's borders as an inducement to permit inspections--could have been sustained indefinitely both at the U.N. Security Council and in Washington. We believe the overwhelming lesson of our history with Saddam is that none of these options would have succeeded. Had Saddam Hussein not been removed this year, it would have been only a matter of time before this president or some future president was compelled to take action against him, and in more dangerous circumstances.
America did the right thing in Iraq. I’m glad to hear the President say that forcefully.
We are safer with Saddam gone. And so are the Iraqi people. The President needs to say this more often.
"Proper Reaction to an Imminent Threat" (Posted February 5, 2004)
I am truly going to go nuts. False attacks on the decision for war are brought up again in a bizarre form of whack-a-mole long after they are refuted. NPR talks about the SOTU address and the "Uranium from West Africa" line. Grrr. Then of course, they start talking about the claim of an "imminent" threat from Iraq. Grrr 2.0.
But I digress.
I'm just wondering what those who think we can only act when there is an imminent threat of nuclear attack think about missile defense. I mean, if you really think that only an imminent threat justifies military action, then you really should be for a robust missile defense. Risking absorbing a first blow really requires us to be able to survive--by defeating--a first blow.
Just wondering.
“The American Way of War” (Posted February 4, 2004)
Funny how stuff comes up when you are thinking about them.
The author makes the excellent point that crushing an enemy in battle isn’t enough if you don’t win the war. An American way of war is different than an American way of battle.
“Tooth to Tail Ratio” (Posted February 4, 2004)
Our logistics effort in 2003 teetered on the edge of failure:
In most cases, soldiers improvised solutions to keep the offensive rolling. But the study found that the Third Infantry Division, the Army's lead combat force, was within two weeks of being halted by a lack of spare parts, and Army logisticians had no effective distribution system.
We faced an enemy poor enough that it doesn’t look like we suffered any casualties as a result, but we won’t always have incompetent foes.
Supply soldiers are easy to ignore when spectacular stealth aircraft and fancy hardware get the press coverage. But logistics keeps those magnificent troopers in the fight.
Or not.
We ignore this at our peril.
“Casualties” (Posted February 4, 2004)
Robert Burns discusses US casualties in Iraq.
August 2004: 35.
September 2004: 30.
October 2004: 43.
November 2004: 82
December 2004: 40.
January 2004: 47.
The January pattern shows:
In an eight-day span, Jan. 9 to Jan. 16, only three American soldiers died, and two from nonhostile causes.

But in the two weeks after that, 26 died — all but three in hostile action.
It seems as if the attacks have died down. In numbers anyway. From 50+ per day to 15+ or so, going by memory. Yet the KIA have not declined to less than September levels. (Even the November levels aren’t way out there if you ignore two very deadly helicopter downings.)
It also seems as if large car bomb type attacks dominate now. Such attacks are more likely Islamists and imported al Qaeda types.
If so, then the Baathists must have been severely depleted. The capture of Saddam and the new currency may have dried up many of the attacks that had been paid for, and discouraged the less committed Baathists. Having casualties at the same level as October when Islamists hadn’t really established themselves must mean that the attacks by Islamists in December and January have masked the decline in the Baathist resistance.
We still have some fighting to do. Sadly, we may be reaping the problem of failing to control the borders. I hoped we were decimating Islamists crossing from Syria and Saudi Arabia with quiet surveillance. Maybe I was too hopeful. Or maybe a small number can do a lot of damage.
But the Iraqis, including Sunnis, may be able to help more in this new phase. Especially since the recent resistance seems to target Iraqis more. Iraqis have reason to hunt down the foreign killers.
We will be able to step back and let the Iraqis carry the burden of the fight. It is their fight after all—not just ours.
“Iraqi WMD” (Posted February 4, 2004)
So, we are to believe that after a decade of calculating that Saddam had chemical weapons and nuclear and biological weapons programs, since we haven’t found them, they weren’t there.
I mean, he used them during the 1980s and after the Persian Gulf War we found out that Saddam’s programs were way more advanced than we thought. But we are to forget that history since after telegraphing our 2003 war for a year, we didn’t find any stockpiles.
We found remnants of programs, evidence of advanced missile programs, and widespread evidence that evidence was scrubbed as Saddam’s regime fell. We have indications that weapons were smuggled out and we’ve found non-WMD weapons buried as well as old WMD shells. All of it was clearly in violation of Saddam’s agreements with the UN. And Kay himself believed what he found showed Saddam to be way more dangerous than we believed prior to the war.
But instead of concluding that the Baathists destroyed weapons at the last minute or hid them inside Iraq or elsewhere, we now think that a decade of intelligence was wrong. A decade of “there’s something” is to be dumped after less than a year of “we can’t find it.”
But, ah, we figured out what happened.
Saddam’s scientists lied to him about the status of the WMD programs.
The scientists pretended to have WMD programs and tricked Saddam into funding them. They all did it. Not just one or two—all of them lied to Saddam.
In a regime that had starving dogs rip you to shreds. A regime that raped your daughters as punishment. A regime that killed on suspicion of disloyalty. A regime that used plastic shredders for people.
Are we really to believe that scientists who lived in a regime that killed people even suspected of treason by running them through plastic shredders would lie and cheat Saddam? Even if one or two were that reckless, we are to believe that all his scientists were reckless with their very lives?
These weren’t mad scientists, they were nuts.
I’m sorry, I just don’t buy that these scientists all carried out a big scam on Saddam, Uday, and Qusay.
Either Saddam hid his WMD or he was building a surge program to break out once the UN was tired of watching Iraq.
If the former, we have a lot of work to do.
If the latter, that says something pretty interesting that I’d like the “we can deter Saddam” side to answer.
So if Saddam was no threat and just wanted to deter us, why didn’t he have stocks of weapons? How could he deter us with nothing? Only a person who will use WMD offensively—at a time of his choosing—waits until he needs them to produce them.
I want to know what happened in the intelligence community. But I think it is way too early to establish that the purpose of the new American and British inquiries is to find out why we didn’t realize Saddam had no weapons of mass destruction. Inquire first. Then conclusions.
Ledeen is skeptical of the no-WMD claim, too. He says, “I love the theory. But I have my doubts. Maybe time will tell.”
Yeah, it is too easy to believe the CIA blew it. Of course, it is easy to believe that because we read about the failures. The successes take time to come out. Like this one.

I think our intelligence people are better than this theory makes them out to be. Time will tell.
“Death Watch for North Korea Continues” (Posted February 1, 2004)
Talks on North Korea’s nuclear programs are to begin in February perhaps:
We "may be able to have another round of six-party talks before very long. Perhaps even this month of February," [Assistant Secretary of State James] Kelly told reporters upon arrival in Seoul.
It has been a while since the last talks and I imagine the failure of the US and our allies on the subject to eagerly rush new concessions is a little perplexing to the North Koreans. Time is not on North Korea’s side no matter what impression they try to leave with gullible Americans who get a nice very guided tour. One sign that time is not on North Korea’s side is the apparent maneuvering over the soon-to-be ex-North Korea as the Chinese and South Koreans dispute the history of the ancient kingdom of Koguryo, which the Chinese are now claiming give China a history on the Korean peninsula:
Academics say Koguryo has future implications too. China fears a scenario in which impoverished North Korea collapses, releasing a flood of refugees — and instability — in its backyard and forcing it to establish a new frontier facing a unified pro-U.S. Korea.
And one part of our ill-conceived bribery seems mercifully dead:
"As we have made clear, we see no future for the light water reactor project," the U.S. State Department said in a statement after the KEDO executive board met at its headquarters in New York.
Those plants could still have been used in a nuclear program contrary to what some think. Given Pyongyang’s record, it should be safe to assume the North Koreans would exploit them for nuclear weapons programs.
“Back on the Homeland Security Front” (Posted February 1, 2004)
U.S. officials said Friday that new intelligence indicated Flight 223 and Air France flights from Paris to an unspecified U.S. city could be terrorist targets.
Flights from Britain and France were cancelled. It would be nice if we could cancel them on the tarmac. You know, drain the fuel instead of fueling it so it can’t be hijacked and then screen the passengers. I wonder why the flights are cancelled ahead of time, presumably giving any hijackers warning that they need to lie low? Or are they under surveillance and we want to see where they run? Or who they call?
“Call to Revolt?” (Posted February 1, 2004)
In the first challenge to the Iranian mullahs:
More than a third of the Iranian parliament resigned Sunday and the speaker delivered a stinging rebuke to the hard-line Guardian Council for its disqualification of hundreds of liberal candidates in upcoming elections.
The second:
On Saturday, Khatami suggested his government would call off the vote, which he called undemocratic because hard-line Islamic clerics have disqualified more than 2,400 liberal candidates.

"My government will only hold competitive and free elections ... the parliament must represent the views of the majority and include all (political) tendencies," Khatami said, according to the official Islamic Republic News Agency.
If the mullahs can’t manage to hold even a sham election, how will the people, the opposition clerics, the armed forces, and even the Pasdaran react?
“Call to Peace?” (Posted February 1, 2004)
The imam may have defended Wahabbi Islam, but he did condemn terrorism:
Sheik Abdul Aziz al-Sheik said in his sermon there were those who claim to be holy warriors, but were shedding Muslim blood and destabilizing the nation.

"Is it holy war to shed Muslim blood? Is it holy war to shed the blood of non-Muslims given sanctuary in Muslim lands? Is it holy war to destroy the possession of Muslims," he said, adding that their actions gave enemies an excuse to criticize Muslim nations.

A large number of the victims of suicide attacks in Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Iraq and elsewhere have been Muslims.

Al-Sheik, who is widely respected in the Arab world as the foremost cleric in the country considered the birthplace of Islam, spoke at Namira Mosque in a televised sermon watched by millions of Muslims in Saudi Arabia and other Gulf states.
Well, sort of. But a call to end terrorism in Moslem lands will go a long way to cooling off the attacks and support for attacks in Iraq and elsewhere in the Moslem world. And since most attacks occur there, this could help reduce support for terrorism to the hard core.