Thursday, April 01, 2004

April 2004 Posts Recovered from The Internet Archives

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

“The Mother of All Sieges” (Posted April 30, 2004)
We have agreed to let hopefully former Baathist officers and soldiers clean up Fallujah for us:
Convoys of U.S. troops and equipment could be seen heading out of parts of Fallujah, replaced by Iraqi troopers in red berets under the flag that flew over Saddam's Iraq
Uh huh.
This is such a tremendous error that I cannot believe it. As I concluded in a post on April 1st, delenda est Fallujah. What did we do instead of destroying them? We let them walk away alive. And just as Saddam proclaimed victory for having survived his ass whipping in 1991, so too will the insurgents who are even now watching Marines retreat from their positions. We had them by the throat and we let them go. It doesn’t matter that we killed at a tremendously lopsided ratio. We failed to teach the lesson of what resisting us means. Or rather, we did teach them what it means. And that’s the problem. The enemy should be dead, crippled, headed for Gitmo, or so scared that they almost made it into categories 1-3 that they head for home and swear to their families and themselves that they will fight no more.
As Owens observed, this was a big mistake:
The reason is simple: The fighters in Fallujah do not seek peace. They want to drive the Americans out of Iraq. They are like venomous snakes: They will kill us or our Iraqi allies if we do not kill them first. There is no negotiating with them. They see such negotiations as a sign of weakness; indeed, the fact that the powerful United States is negotiating with them permits the insurgents to claim that they have prevailed over the most powerful military in the world.
Certainly, no war is perfect and mistakes will be made. We can afford to recover from mistakes. And who knows, maybe this will work.
But my gut feeling is that we made a terrible mistake.
The only way to compound our failure to crush Fallujah would be to storm Najaf—a city we should let dangle until Sadr is tricked out.
“Prosecute Them” (Posted April 30, 2004)
It isn’t enough to say that the press seems to be more outraged at photographs of Americans humiliating a few Iraqi prisoners than they got over 300,000 dead Iraqis found in Saddam’s mass graves.
It isn’t enough to say that cruelty isn’t on the same order of evil as plastic shredders for people, rape rooms, and children devoured by dogs.
We are better than that and expect to be judged by standards higher than Saddam-levels.
And not only is it shameful, it will get American soldiers killed.
Those soldiers that posed with humiliated Iraqis might as well have thrown a grenade into one of our command posts. Or rammed an American checkpoint with a car bomb. Or set off a bomb in a mall back home in America.
Those soldiers were sent abroad to defend us and they brought danger and shame to us and to their fellow soldiers and Marines on the front lines.
They must be publicly arrested and quickly tried and punished. The chain of command must be investigated for their role in allowing this outrage to happen. And through it all, we must judge them by our standards. We can’t help how al Jazeera or Ted Koppel will tell this story to the world, but we can make sure that we know what standards we keep.
American soldiers are better than this.
“Fighting Spirit” (Posted April 29, 2004)
Much is being made of the fact that 10% of Iraqi security forces defected; 40% sat in their barracks and refused to fight; and only 50% fought with us. With 200,000 Iraqis providing the bulk of the manpower to defeat the insurgents, this is a problem in providing sufficient density. Not critical at this point and given we’ve been working on this for only less than a year, not too bad really.
Let’s look at the other side. Back in March and April 2003, the perhaps 500,000 Iraqis had maybe 10% of their strength fight and the other 90% melted away. Since I read that 75% of the Iraqis in the current pro-American security forces were in Saddam’s military, perhaps 30% of the pre-war Iraqi military eventually defected to our side. This Baathist record was after 25 years of Saddam’s rule.
All in all, our record is a lot better.
And our guys will get better as they are better equipped and as they gain experience. Eventually we’ll be able to pull our forces to the background.
“They Expect Rewards” (Posted April 29, 2004)
Some action is going on to get the talks with North Korea going. The North remains in Bizarro World:
The nuclear crisis erupted in October 2002 when U.S. officials say communist North Korea disclosed it was working on a secret program to enrich uranium for weapons, in violation of an international agreement.

North Korea said it expected to discuss a reward for freezing its nuclear plans but any breakthrough depended on Washington.

"The DPRK side will attend this meeting to discuss the proposal 'reward for freeze'," the Foreign Ministry said in a statement carried by the official KCNA news agency. DPRK is short for the North's official name, the Democratic People's Republic of Korea.

The proposal involves the North freezing nuclear plans in return for compensation.
Really, though, how can we blame them? We trained them to think that they can get goodies for threatening us with nuclear destruction.
It will take a while to disabuse them of this long-held and fed belief. Luckily, Pyongyang might collapse before they learn that lesson.
“Typical Defeatist Attitude” (Posted April 29, 2004)
I’m used to some analysts saying that if we fight back, we only make things worse by encouraging our enemies. We’re just supposed to sit and take it I guess—and apologize ever more loudly over the din of explosions. Another example:
Falluja is tribal territory, one that functions by tribal rules. There are expectations of hospitality, practices for settling disputes and obligations of revenge against anyone committing an offense against a member of the tribe. The last — revenge — poses a big problem for the United States if negotiations with the insurgents fail and the military steps up its assault on the city. The holdouts of the old regime may be killed or captured. The foreign fighters may be dispersed. But for every tribesman who is killed, the kinship group remains, obligated to avenge his death.
So riddle me this, Batman, if the tribes are unable to break out of the cycle of violence or whatever, how did Saddam maintain control? Is it possible Saddam never killed any one of the tribes members or another unnamed offense?
The wild men are not unbeatable. Even if some like to insist they are.
Silly drivel is what it is.
Sometimes I wonder if there are comparable fools in the ranks of the Islamists who argue that it is foolish to attack us since it will just make us mad and recruit more Tommy Franks to kill them all. It should only be fair. Why should we have all the idiots on our side?
“The Sniper” (Posted April 29, 2004)
A sniper in Najaf has picked off five of Sadr’s goons:
American commanders were also closely monitoring reports from inside Najaf said that growing anger of residents there against Mr. Sadr and his militiamen, who have sown a pattern of lawlessness since launching an uprising in the city earlier this month, had taken a startling new turn with a shadowy group of assassins killing at least five Sadr militiamen in attacks on Sunday and Monday.
I had been thinking that we should have snipers going after Sadr’s pretend army to scare the crud out of them. Seriously.
We had special forces in Baghdad while we advanced on the city during the war.
So, who is picking off Mahdi Army goons with accuracy that no Iraqi has demonstrated thus far?
“OK, Now it Sounds Fishy” (Posted April 29, 2004)
I wondered whether Kurds or Islamists attacked in Damascus. There is the third possibility, that Damascus ordered the attack to appear a victim and reduce pressure on them. A Syrian political analyst said:
"I think al-Qaeda wanted a media explosion to send a message to the Americans that it can reach any target, even highly secure countries like Syria," he told Reuters. "This also aims to make Syria pay for its role in the campaign against terror."
Uh, yeah. Their campaign against terror? Nice try, Sparky.
Still, with an Alawite minority government, I still find it hard to believe that the Syrian government would stage an attack even if it sounds fishy as to the target; and considering the blatant phoniness of the explanation for it. They could actually spark an uprising if people think a group is out there fighting the government.
More likely is the Strategypage thought:
Syria became more chummy with their Iraqi brothers after Iraq’s defeat in 1991, and it is believed that much of money stolen from the Iraqi people by Saddam and his henchmen ended up in Syria. Same with many Iraqi weapons (including chemical and biological ones.) Syria and Iran are the only nations bordering Iraq that have allowed Islamic radicals to freely cross into Iraq to fight with the coalition troops and government forces. While Iran has been convinced to tighten up border controls, Syria remained defiant. Now it appears that some of those Islamic militants decided that there was plenty of tyranny in Syria to fight, and no need to travel on to Iraq. The high mortality rate among militants that go into Iraq might have something to do with this. Few of the fighters who entered Iraq to fight coalition troops come back alive. So the Syrians may appear as easier targets.
Remember the main Islamist rule: killing Americans is best. But any of the rest will do.
“A Really Tough Press Conference” (Posted April 29, 2004)
V. D. Hanson has an excellent press conference experience that President Lincoln could have faced had our press corps been around then. Actually it was around then to be fair—just no 24-hour news cycle.
“Good Point About 1991” (Posted April 27, 2004)
Orson Scott Card has an excellent article about the war. Just read it.
One good point he makes in this article is about the supposed failure to destroy Saddam in 1991 when our troops were within striking range of Baghdad:
And Iraq always required exactly the solution that we have been imposing for the past year. This is why President Bush's father did not take out Saddam when he had the chance back in 1991: without Saddam's repressive regime, every would-be dictator in Iraq would have made his play for the top spot then, just as they're doing now.

So we couldn't get rid of Saddam until we had the national will to stick with the job until a strong government with popular support could fill the power vacuum.
It is often said we made a terrible error in holding back. I’ve never agreed although our need to destroy Saddam in 2003 led me to waver in this assessment. Boy, it sure would have been nice to have gotten rid of Saddam in 1991 and avoided all our problems now.
But in 1991, we would not have had the motivation provided by 9-11 to see us through some tough times in suppressing the fanatics who would have resisted us after a 1991 fall of Baghdad.
Maybe we could have won in 1991-1992, but it is hardly a given as some assume now. It is quite possible that we would not have had the fortitude to stick with a counter-insurgency then and would have just gotten out of Iraq, leaving Saddam free to build WMD.
“Destroy Enemies, Reassure Friends, Impress Neutrals” (Posted April 27, 2004)
Like I’ve been saying, crush the Fallujah resistance to demonstrate we will not be screwed with; and kid glove the dimwit Sadr to keep him from becoming a martyr and losing our support amongst the Shias. Remember, I know even I’d be angry if the Islamists killed hundreds in Paris. The French may be SOBs but they’re Western SOBs after all. It’s nice to see two articles in one day backing my assessment on what to do in the two cities.
From an American military guy in Iraq:
We are struggling to tip toe through the tulips in Fallujah when it is no longer possible to do so. Fallujah should already have been an object lesson that if handled decisively and quickly would make further operations in the south unnecessary. We have lost the equivalent of two marine infantry companies precisely because of our over-reliance on light infantry again. Sad for the parents' whose sons have died valiantly, but needlessly. Now, we are poised to sacrifice whatever good will remains in the Shiite population by making war on a cleric who until recently was a minor player. If we go into Najaf, we will enrage Shiite Arabs, Persians, Pathans and Punjabis unnecessarily. I sincerely hope we just quietly withdraw from Najaf and finish the problem in Fallujah instead. Fallujah is a better place to make clear what will happen to anyone who threatens or challenges US authority. We should leave the firebrand cleric to his superiors in the Shiite hierarchy.
When all options have risks, however, we have to take risks. And the risks will differ in different situations. At this point the risks in Fallujah of either a compromise deal or a long siege are worse than those of a full and rapid conquest. The U.S. Marines should go in and kill or capture the mainly Sunni insurgents. Now a symbol of Sunni resistance, Fallujah might become a symbol of their defeat.

In Najaf the calculation now points in the opposite direction. Rather than attack a city beloved by Shiites still largely sympathetic to us, we should accept the offer from the firebrand Motoqba al-Sadr to surrender to an Islamic third party for interrogation by the Iraqi judge who issued the murder warrant against him. That would avoid one major threat to good U.S.-Shia relations, namely a bloody conflict with Shia militias, and remove another, namely al-Sadr himself, from the center of events.

In both cases, however, we are adopting the worst possible response — namely, issuing bold threats but taking weak actions or even doing nothing. And this paralysis stems largely from indecision in Washington itself where a series of local conflicts prevents the U.S. from pursuing a consistent Iraqi policy.
The longer we let Fallujah drag on in stalemate, the more the neutrals doubt we are determined to win. Najaf we can let go longer like a hostage situation confident that the locals grow increasingly upset that the outsiders loyal to Sadr are disrupting their lives.
Are we doing more than we know in Fallujah? Are we dividing the resistance as they split on responding to negotiations? Are we showing the locals the joys of rule by the thugs in hope that the friendlies in the city will ask us to crush the resistance? Are we locating the resistance to better go after them when we strike?
I don’t know. But I’ll feel better when we just crush that snake’s nest. The ceasefire is not tenable. How can we patrol in anything less than platoon strength when so many enemy can mass to attack? We’ve been lucky that we’ve smashed up the attackers when they violate the ceasefire. But one day they’ll do what they did in Ramadi and kill a dozen Marines.
Take Fallujah! Isolate Najaf and push our friends in Iraq to deal with that fool Sadr.
“Well This Is Getting Major Press Attention” (Posted April 27, 2004)
The Jordan plot is highlighted by CNN:
Jordanian authorities said Monday they have broken up an alleged al Qaeda plot that would have unleashed a deadly cloud of chemicals in the heart of Jordan's capital, Amman.
There is uncertainty about whether the chemicals were really intended to be a chemical attack or whether it was to make a better explosion.
But it certainly shows that the Islamists are willing to kill just about anybody they can reach. Those darn Crusading Jordanians.
“Blowback?” (Posted April 27, 2004)
Following the Kurdish riots of late we have this in Syria:
Gunmen attacked a former United Nations office in a diplomatic quarter of Damascus, setting off a battle with police that pelted nearby buildings with bullets and grenades.
So. Was this a Kurdish attack in revenge or was it an Islamist attack to unseat the Alawite (who many Moslems don’t even think are real Moslems) minority government?
If the latter, the Syrians are finding that fanning the flames of Islam in neighboring Iraq can burn them very badly indeed. With all the talk of the supposedly difficult position we are in, consider Syria’s predicament: either Iraq becomes a pro-American democracy that undermines Syria or Islamists gain ground in Iraq and spill over into Syria to undermine the Syrian government.
“WMD Evidence” (Posted April 27, 2004)
I remain convinced we will find the smoking gun of chemical weapons in Iraq.
This story, (via Instapundit), reminds me of the discoveries of mass quantities of “pesticides” during the invasion of Iraq that seemed to me to be evidence of chemical stockpiles. Lots of bug sprays are just nerve gas for insects, after all. I kind of forgot about these discoveries since they were ultimately ignored. But this article brings it back. Especially significant:
When coalition forces entered Iraq, "huge warehouses and caches of 'commercial and agricultural' chemicals were seized and painstakingly tested by Army and Marine chemical specialists," Hanson writes. "What was surprising was how quickly the ISG refuted the findings of our ground forces and how silent they have been on the significance of these caches."

Caches of "commercial and agricultural" chemicals don't match the expectation of "stockpiles" of chemical weapons. But, in fact, that is precisely what they are. "At a very minimum," Hanson tells Insight, "they were storing the precursors to restart a chemical-warfare program very quickly." Kay and Duelfer came to a similar conclusion, telling Congress under oath that Saddam had built new facilities and stockpiled the materials to relaunch production of chemical and biological weapons at a moment's notice.

At Karbala, U.S. troops stumbled upon 55-gallon drums of pesticides at what appeared to be a very large "agricultural supply" area, Hanson says. Some of the drums were stored in a "camouflaged bunker complex" that was shown to reporters - with unpleasant results. "More than a dozen soldiers, a Knight-Ridder reporter, a CNN cameraman, and two Iraqi POWs came down with symptoms consistent with exposure to a nerve agent," Hanson says. "But later ISG tests resulted in a proclamation of negative, end of story, nothing to see here, etc., and the earlier findings and injuries dissolved into nonexistence. Left unexplained is the small matter of the obvious pains taken to disguise the cache of ostensibly legitimate pesticides. One wonders about the advantage an agricultural-commodities business gains by securing drums of pesticide in camouflaged bunkers 6 feet underground. The 'agricultural site' was also colocated with a military ammunition dump - evidently nothing more than a coincidence in the eyes of the ISG."

That wasn't the only significant find by coalition troops of probable CW stockpiles, Hanson believes. Near the northern Iraqi town of Bai'ji, where Saddam had built a chemical-weapons plant known to the United States from nearly 12 years of inspections, elements of the 4th Infantry Division found 55-gallon drums containing a substance identified through mass spectrometry analysis as cyclosarin - a nerve agent. Nearby were surface-to-surface and surface-to-air missiles, gas masks and a mobile laboratory that could have been used to mix chemicals at the site. "Of course, later tests by the experts revealed that these were only the ubiquitous pesticides that everybody was turning up," Hanson says. "It seems Iraqi soldiers were obsessed with keeping ammo dumps insect-free, according to the reading of the evidence now enshrined by the conventional wisdom that 'no WMD stockpiles have been discovered.'"

At Taji - an Iraqi weapons complex as large as the District of Columbia - U.S. combat units discovered more "pesticides" stockpiled in specially built containers, smaller in diameter but much longer than the standard 55-gallon drum. Hanson says he still recalls the military sending digital images of the canisters to his office, where his boss at the Ministry of Science and Technology translated the Arabic-language markings. "They were labeled as pesticides," he says. "Gee, you sure have got a lot of pesticides stored in ammo dumps.

Again, this January, Danish forces found 120-millimeter mortar shells filled with a mysterious liquid that initially tested positive for blister agents. But subsequent tests by the United States disputed that finding. "If it wasn't a chemical agent, what was it?" Hanson asks. "More pesticides? Dish-washing detergent? From this old soldier's perspective, I gain nothing from putting a liquid in my mortar rounds unless that stuff will do bad things to the enemy."

The discoveries Hanson describes are not dramatic. And that's the problem: Finding real stockpiles in grubby ammo dumps doesn't fit the image the media and the president's critics carefully have fed to the public of what Iraq's weapons ought to look like.

A senior administration official who has gone through the intelligence reporting from Iraq as well as the earlier reports from U.N. arms inspectors refers to another well-documented allegation. "The Iraqis admitted they had made 3.9 tons of VX," a powerful nerve gas, but claimed they had never weaponized it. The U.N. inspectors "felt they had more. But where did it go?" The Iraqis never provided any explanation of what had happened to their VX stockpiles.

What does 3.9 tons of VX look like? "It could fit in one large garage," the official says. Assuming, of course, that Saddam would assemble every bit of VX gas his scientists had produced at a single site, that still amounts to one large garage in an area the size of the state of California.
The mortar rounds are something I really didn’t think of in this context either. I figured that they were Iran-Iraq War era so only relevant to the WMD hunt by the fact that Coalition troops sat on them for months before discovering them. I should have considered this angle. Just what the heck was that liquid if not chemical agents? Really, it makes no sense that this would have been declared nothing. What is going on?
I think what we have found is significant as it is. Taking out Saddam’s regime was both morally right from the mass graves we’ve found and in our national interest from destroying a regime intent on aggression, terrorism, and acquiring nuclear weapons. We’ll find stockpiles that will not be ignored.
“I Don’t Trust the Man” (Posted April 26, 2004)
The UN envoy Lakhdar Brahimi is just a Baathist apologist and why we should trust the man to do anything to benefit us or the Iraqi people is beyond me. This is what he says about the Fallujah fighting:
"When you surround a city, you bomb the city, when people cannot go to hospital, what name do you have for that?" Brahimi said. "And you, if you have enemies there, this is exactly what they want you to do, to alienate more people so that more people support them rather than you."
Surround it? Why yes we did. The better to keep new thugs and weapons out and to trap the insurgents inside to kill them.
Bomb it? Are we Russians? We used air power and firepower sparingly. The low level of civilian casualties is unusual for city fighting and comes from the unique care that we take to avoid killing innocents.
People can’t go to the hospital? Well if the enemy would stop violating the laws of land warfare and refrain from using ambulances to transport fighters and weapons, we’d let the people go to hospitals.
What name do we have for this? Why I’ll tell you, you duplicitous SOB, it’s called taking an enemy-held city.
And how are we doing exactly what they want us to do? Why is fighting our enemies and killing them in large numbers always what they want us to do? Why is it always best to just let them kill us and terrorize the locals into submission without lifting a hand to stop them? Why would standing aside while they get out the plastic shredders get the thugs to say, “Damn those clever Americans! They let us capture a city without killing us in large numbers and retaking the city! Curse their clever infidel strategy!”
Refusing to crush our enemies in Fallujah is alienating people. They think we don’t want to win. I’m beginning to wonder if they’re right.
All in all, Brahimi is an untrustworthy man representing an untrustworthy body.
Keep the UN from getting any real authority in Iraq. We have enough problems.
“Allied Help” (Posted April 26, 2004)
Our friends in Europe like to note, whenever we point out that they aren’t helping us in Iraq, that they have stepped up in Afghanistan. This theater, they say, is the only real front in the war on terror unlike the mistake in Iraq. The Spanish were insistent on this point.
So what do they say when we ask the colossus that is the EU to contribute more than the paltry few thousand that now guard Kabul and its suburbs? Why, with little enthusiasm, of course:
NATO allies agreed months ago to expand the mission and set a target of sending peacekeeping teams to five more cities in the north and west of Afghanistan by late June.

However, nations have been hesitant in coming forward with troops for the costly and potentially dangerous operation.
Mind you, these are sovereign states able to decide where they will commit their militaries. I just wish they’d spare me the bull that they’re only holding back in Iraq because of the so-called unilateral nature of our invasion.
When they have to be cajoled into provided troops in relatively quiet Afghanistan, where they claim they are with us enthusiastically, explain to me again how we could have convinced them to join us in Iraq? And by “them” I mean of course the French, their German poodle, and the Belgian hand puppet.
“Small World?” (Posted April 26, 2004)
I just finished a post recently that mentioned an old teaching assistant of mine at Michigan. I said that I thought he joined the Navy.
So of course I read an article today with a Navy commander of the same name quoted!
The ESG concept sports a highly mobile, self-sustaining force able to conduct expeditionary missions from humanitarian and disaster relief to combat operations, according to Cmdr. Bradley Martin, the amphibious squadron’s chief of staff, who presented the briefing in Sasebo.
Same Bradley Martin? Could be. If so, glad to see an old TA doing well. He was good then. I imagine he still knows his stuff.
“They Were Looking for What?” (Posted April 26, 2004)
We will find chemical weapons in Iraq. Eventually. We are still looking:
A workshop believed to be producing chemical munitions exploded in flames Monday moments after U.S. troops broke in to search it, killing two soldiers and wounding five.
Yes, the chemical weapons could have been smoke grenades, but this hardly seems likely. I’ve worried for a year that the Baathists buried chemicals and that they’d hit us one day.
“Born in the North, To Die in the South” (Posted April 25, 2004)
The panic in some of the media over the recent Fallujah and Sadr revolts was just amazing to me. It frightens me to think of what might happen with a real setback. Though the attacks were far, far less potent than the Tet offensive in 1968 and quickly contained with the troops on hand, the cries of despair over this event amaze me.
So I picked up Ronald Spector’s After Tet to read. I have a few dozen unread books standing in line and figured this was as good a time as any to read it.
I’m not finished yet, but other than showing that April 2004 should not even be compared with February and March 1968, what struck me relates to the transformation of our Army. We are evolving it into a post-Cold War mobile strike force able to travel the globe and then rip apart conventional enemies with speed and precision. The capture of Baghdad and the take down of the Baathist regime in three weeks is a prototype of this hyper war. The problem is that so many Baathists and their subcontracted gangs survived the large unit war to carry on the irregular war this spring. We hope to demonstrate our superiority in battle and discourage them. We even negotiate rather than unleash our military on the remaining thugs.
The question that creeps up in my mind after reading Spector is what if shock and awe—so effective against an organized army similar to our own—doesn’t shock the true believers? How do we beat those that aren’t easily discouraged?
The description in After Tet of the North Vietnamese is frightening. Spector describes a North Vietnam where young men knew they would die in battle with Americans. They tattooed “Born in the North, to die in the South” and sang songs about their fate. The government never reported casualties and the news was always of victories. The wounded were not sent home but shipped off to isolated locations. The elite and those with money were able to keep their kids out of the army, of course. Yet the rest of the young men knew their fate.
The soldiers sent south felt like foreigners in a strange land and never expected to go home. Their initial training wasn’t even that rigorous. Indoctrination combined with strict and continuous supervision to look out for defeatism kept the soldiers fighting. Fighting made the survivors more effective. The scary thing is that despite the prospect of near certain death, the North Vietnamese soldiers remained confident of victory. Even though the North Vietnamese and Viet Cong were turned back with heavy losses in Tet, the average surviving soldier and their successors did not think of it as a defeat. And though we were not war criminals as some have asserted even recently, the North Vietnamese believed we were brutal and a hundred times worse than the French who came before us. The Vietnamese never broke under our bombardment despite their heavy casualties, unlike the Chinese in Korea who were on the verge of collapse under pressure from constant American firepower when the ceasefire went into effect in 1953. The North Vietnamese simply expected to win.
So will our nimble and precise Future Force win against enemies that cannot be discouraged? Against some enemies, we must be able to kill them in large numbers without mercy and without respite. Those that cannot be discouraged must be killed. Will just-in-time logistics for precision munitions wielded by light troops fighting heavily outnumbered as a networked force be able to kill in the numbers needed once we transform? Transformation does not automatically mean we are seeking bloodless victory. But I fear that many will confuse information dominance with actual victory in battle and war. Already, we seem like we hate to kill our enemies almost as much as we hate to inflict civilian deaths. How will we kill enemies who cannot be beaten but only killed when networked precision reigns? When we recoil from killing even our enemies?
The one comforting thing to note is that killing in large enough numbers will discourage even true believers eventually. The Chinese in Korea had no sanctuary for their armies while the North Vietnamese could pull units out from under the pounding of American firepower into sanctuaries safe from our power. This was probably the key to the NVA’s resilience compared to the near run thing for the equally fanatical Chinese. If American units can fully use our killing power, we can break our enemies. We just have to make sure we have killing power after transforming.
The damnedest part of today’s problem, however, is that the example of Fallujah shows we may have effectively given our enemies sanctuaries inside Iraq when it is within our power to deny them safe havens to recover and come back to fight again.
If our enemies are born in Fallujah to die in the Sunni Triangle, then we need to destroy Fallujah. And do it now.
“Friends, Neutrals, and Enemies” (Posted April 25, 2004)
Friends are becoming neutrals. We can’t afford to have neutrals become enemies. According to American military people:
But most worrisome, commanders say, is that the insurgents' terrorist tactics — from street fighting in Falluja to the car bombings in Basra this week — have successfully intimidated Iraqis to the point that many are withdrawing their support for the allies and shifting to the uncommitted camp. They are not necessarily joining the fighters, but many no longer cooperate as freely with the allies. Some informants have dried up, officers said.
I don’t think the attacks have caused our friends to become neutral. I think our failure to crush the Fallujah revolt has frightened our friends. We’ve made them doubt that we are in Iraq to win. We were smashing the thugs and we then just stopped! They didn’t stop us. We stopped. And our enemies have accused us of war crimes though civilian casualties have been remarkably low because of our care in fighting. We then negotiated with stone cold killers. How does that look to Iraqis afraid of being the neck part of the old Sunni stomping on necks game?
I argued for the “bandaid off fast” rule for Fallujah. We should have guarded against popular sentiment being forged against us by quickly destroying our enemy so that the irritant would not last long. If we are to be accused of atrocities, why not fight hard and win fast? Instead we’ve let this fester with our enemies still alive to violate the ceasefire that we pretend exists. They continue to accuse us of “besieging” Fallujah and harming civilians. Unusable weapons are turned in and in only small numbers. In the end, we’ll have to attack. This could have been wrapped up already.
The statement following the above quote in the article is unclear. Is this an opinion of the author or the above-mentioned commanders?
If there is an American offensive at Falluja, or especially one at Najaf in the south, anti-Americanism could escalate, jeopardizing the American hopes of winning back the undecided.
I agree that an American offensive in Najaf would be unwise. This is a Shia holy site and we need the Shias on our side. We need to send in Iraqis to get that Sadr bully boy. Americans should only be sent in support of the Iraqis. Sadr has little support so why give the newly neutral a reason to join him in misguided Shia solidarity? It is too late to bitch too much that we should have arrested or killed Sadr long ago. Let him wither and push our Shia friends to get Sadr.
But what of this Fallujah assertion? Why would anti-Americanism be fanned long-term by crushing Sunnis? Yes, there is a certain shame effect on the Shias of Americans destroying even the hated Sunni Baathists. Look at the relief and shame over the destruction of the Saddam regime and Saddam’s capture.
Yet if we win quickly, we can move on to helping Iraqis and the shame will dissipate in time. Notice that we’ve kept Iraqis friendly to us even as we’ve fought Baathists and Islamists over the last year and even as the thugs slaughtered Iraqi civilians in horrendous attacks. Our support is weakening recently only as we’ve refused to crush the latest uprising against us. Had we crushed it, friends would have stayed friendly. Neutrals would have edged to the winners. And enemies would either be dead or wandering off to neutrality rather than join the dead.
Winning is the key to winning back the undecided. Dithering has been key to losing them.
“De-Baathification” (Posted April 24, 2004)
The CPA press conference somewhat eases my mind that de-Baathifaction is the official process and that the exceptions are reasonable.
This article highlights why I am nervous that de-Baathification will not be resolutely implemented:
The reverberations of the Coalition's decision to rehabilitate Saddam's support network will be long lasting and will lead to the deaths of Coalition soldiers. "Death to the Baath Party" banners hang throughout southern Iraq. Anti-Baath passion runs high among the vast majority of the Iraqi people. Eighty percent of the Iraqi population is not Sunni Arab, and the majority of the Sunni Arabs also welcomed liberation from 35 years of Baathist dictatorship. Many Iraqis see the U.S. as abandoning them yet again. We risk losing the silent majority. Iraqi Shia, most of whom viewed America as a liberator, will curse us for abandoning them to their oppressors. The sense of betrayal runs deep: Shia remember how the British government disenfranchised them following World War I. After decades of oppression, Iraq's Shia want assurance. Democracy provides it; rehabilitating Baathism does not. We risk driving Iraq's 14 million Shia into the arms of the Iranian government, which will claim to be their protector.
We can’t betray our friends and neutrals by letting our enemies into government. The Shias won’t understand—even if the State Department and our Sunni allies in the rest of the Middle East want this—if they see “former” Baathists in positions of power with our backing.
De-Baathification is not a mistake. It is a necessity to win. Keep in mind that if we ever lose the Shias we really will need a lot more troops—another 150,000 at least plus one-for-one replacements for whatever Shia security forces defect or quit in that case.
Now that’s a nuanced solution to our Sunni/Islamist problems, eh?
And for Pete’s sake, crush the Fallujah resistance—fast—before we look like a bunch of wusses for letting our enemies get away with murder. Coupled with the possible perception that we are letting our enemies back into government service, the Shias might conclude that we are trying to put the Sunnis back into power. And don’t think the Sunnis won’t fan those embers of a rumor.
The Next Target” (Posted April 24, 2004)
Although I expect our next short-term target to be the Horn of Africa region (and it had better hurry up before yet another time prediction collapses), I think Iran is the next up on the Axis of Evil. I’ve thought this for a long time. Perhaps prior to the Iraq War even. It’s hard to remember and I don’t have the energy to review all my posts for references to Iran. I expect the spring of 2005 since we will be in a troop rotation in Iraq with more troops on hand in case. I suspect we’ve been working on a coup by friendly Iranian military units with contacts throughout Iranian society also taking place to line up support.
Why do I think this? No real reason other than the fact that Iran is on the Axis of Evil, I believe the President remains committed to preventing hostile states from getting nuclear weapons, I think the eventual failure of diplomacy taking place now will convince even semi-serious Europeans that Iran will not cooperate, and then there is the guess that Iran will have nukes by the end of 2005 to go with their missiles.
So, this from the President (via Caerdroia) is interesting:
President Bush told newspaper editors in Washington yesterday that Iran "will be dealt with, starting through the United Nations" if it does not stop developing nuclear weapons and begin total cooperation with international inspectors.
As the article notes:
The language was reminiscent of comments Bush made about Iraq long before the war, and to admonitions he has issued to Syria. Iran, along with Iraq and North Korea, was part of the "axis of evil" in his State of the Union address in 2002.
If the President isn’t going to take care of this threat, what reason does he have for re-election? Anybody could do nothing.
“Troop Strength and Other Iraq Myths” (Posted April 24, 2004)
Strategypage goes over some myths about Iraq.
Highest on my list is the discussion of troop strength. I’ve written consistently that the chorus of voices calling for more troops are just plain wrong. I rarely see anything that agrees with me. I wouldn’t say that I was starting to doubt my assessment but I have been uncomfortably alone on my limb wondering if I was missing something. Strategypage writes:
The U.S. Army doesn't have enough troops to handle current combat operations! Although combat commanders feel that "too much ain't enough" when it comes to troops, they learn how to go with what they got. The last two weeks of violence in Iraq were suppressed with available combat troops, and more were called for in case the violence returned on a grander scale (an unlikely event, as more became known about who was behind the current attacks on Iraqis, foreign aid workers and coalition troops). For example, three battalions of marines dealing with Fallujah, and available troops were able to suppress the al Sadr militias within two weeks. Sending more troops won’t help with the basic problem; gathering intelligence. That requires people who speak Arabic and have police experience. More American troops won’t solve that problem, more trained Iraqi police will. 
Exactly. The guys on the ground will always want more troops. Who would turn down help? And we managed with the in-country troops to contain the violence quickly. The 20,000 troops being held over are insurance and they probably weren’t absolutely needed but since they are still there, keep them just case. The 10,000 troops to be identified to go in are extra insurance. I doubt they will go in at all. My amateur number crunching seemed fine and I want Iraqis in the forefront.
The article discusses others that I agree are myths. But one, that it is a myth we need to expand the Army, is one with which I disagree. Sure, the article is right that the military thinks it will win Iraq before new troops can be recruited, trained, organized, and equipped; and then the military will have to pay for the new troops when Congress might not be inclined to fund them. But I’ve felt two divisions more are needed prior to the war. Now, I think we’d be better off with using the same number of troops needed for two divisions to instead build separate brigades and battalions. Since our divisions will be acting like corps with high-tech brigades supported by our superb air power and able to dominate areas that divisions used to control, we can plug in these smaller units into the divisions when needed. This will be faster than training new divisions. I’ll risk the funding issue. This will be a long war not just restricted to Iraq.
But read it for a good take on the so-called problems and errors.
"Pat Tillman KIA" (Posted April 23, 2004)
Pat Tillman, a soldier in the 75th Ranger Regiment, was killed in action in Afghanistan. He gave up a lucrative NFL career in order to join the Army after 9-11 inspired him.
This news has struck me very hard.
But not because he was wealthy and famous.  It hurts deeply because of his motives. In an age when those "on the other side" denigrate those who serve and die as either the losers of society who had no choice but to enlist or mere mercenaries in it for the money, Tillman's decision to defend us destroys those arguments. He needed neither money nor opportunity that society supposedly had denied him. He served—and died—for love of country. His service and death highlight the truth about all the other men and women in the Armed Forces who have served, died, or been injured at war these last 2-1/2 years.
It will really hit home when I receive the Department of Defense email that notifies me of his death. It will sound like all the others.
Because it really is like all the others. A young soldier who died protecting me because he believed that it was his duty.
God bless them all.
“What Will the Pillsbury Nuke Boy Think?” (Posted April 22, 2004)
Three thousand North Koreans may have died in a train explosion that took place 9 hours after Kim Jong-il passed through on his train.
The key is whether the Pillsbury Nuke Boy thinks we just tried a decapitation strike on him. Never mind that we would not kill 3,000 just to get him. He could believe it.
More important is what conclusion he draws—surrender his nukes now before we succeed, or renew his efforts to build nukes and prepare to use them against us?
“I Don’t Know if This is Good” (Posted April 22, 2004)
We are now willing to hire former Baathists.
I’m not sure what this means.
I’ve always felt that de-Baathification of Iraq is necessary to win. The senior Baath Party members and those guilty of crimes regardless of rank should be forever barred from serving the government. If we’re afraid they’ll fight us, well then arrest them! I mean what the Hell. We are in charge there. The choice isn’t to just let them plot against us or hire them.
I just don’t trust any general in the Iraqi military or any senior civilian. They should be assumed guilty until proven innocent. After proper sifting and making sure they turn in resisting Baathists or hidden documents or arms or whatever just to make sure they now stay on our side by visibly betraying their former lives, sure, I’d allow former Baathists a way to rehabilitate and re-enter society.
I don’t know the details, but I’m really worried we are just letting the Trojan horse into the walls.
“Winning in Iraq Follow-Up” (Posted April 21, 2004)
My wild ass guess of 50% effectiveness for the Iraqi security forces was right on the money according to the US military:
About one in every 10 members of Iraq's security forces "actually worked against" U.S. troops during the recent militia violence in Iraq, and an additional 40 percent walked off the job because of intimidation, the commander of the 1st Armored Division said Wednesday.
Half fought.
Why didn’t the other half fight?
"It's very difficult at times to convince them that Iraqis are killing fellow Iraqis and fellow Muslims, because it's something they shouldn't have to accept," he said. "Over time I think they will probably have to accept it."
Doesn’t this convince them that their enemies are willing to kill “fellow” Iraqis?
Suicide attackers unleashed car bombings against police buildings in Iraq's biggest Shiite city Wednesday morning, striking rush-hour crowds and killing at least 68 people, including 16 children incinerated in their school buses.
Didn’t the mass graves of Saddam tell them something about the willingness of the enemy to murder “fellow” Iraqis? Shouldn’t Iraqis remember the price of his rule? The trial of Saddam can’t begin too quickly. People need reminding.
On the bright side, back to the first article, the US military realizes that kill ratios are only relevant to showing our military prowess—not as a metric of success:
Dempsey maintained in the interview that popular support for the U.S.-led coalition in Iraq is still "very solid."

But he acknowledged "a form of descending consent" for the U.S. military presence occurring among Iraqis as time passes.

"There is a point where it doesn't matter how well we're doing, it won't be accepted that we have a large military presence here," he said. "We're all working very diligently trying to figure out where that point is."
Exactly. This is why we must push Iraqis to take over security functions instead of pumping more US troops in. We may make “how well we’re doing” better with more US troops, but we’ll reduce consent and lessen the pressure on the Iraqis to defend themselves.
Questions were also raised about the wisdom of de-Baathification of the security forces. To me, taking the recent fighting as proof of de-Baathification being a mistake is ludicrous. Would a security force full of Baathist-led and dominated units have fought for us 50% of the time? Shoot, the 10% defection rate would have been a lot higher. De-Baathification is not a mistake. The Baathists were and are our enemy, remember? Will their past victims really appreciate the nuance of bringing Baathist “skills” into the security forces? No. The Shias and Kurds (and even many Sunnis) will rightly see it as a betrayal and a danger to their future. Punish enemies and reward friends—not the reverse.
To win, we do need to discuss problems (as this memo a bit selectively quoted by the Village Voice (via Instapundit) but which is still within the bounds of constructive criticism, mostly). However, Max Boot notes the disconnect between reporting on the recent counter-attack by our enemies and military reality:
I don't mean to underestimate the sheer physical challenge confronting 160,000 allied troops in controlling a country of more than 22 million people. But from a purely military perspective, nothing that has happened in the last two weeks poses an insurmountable obstacle. Rebel cleric Muqtada Sadr seems to have ample money and firearms, probably supplied by Iran, but he has no more than 6,000 ill-trained fighters in his Al Mahdi militia. Most Shiites scorn him as a parvenu. The Sunni terrorists in Fallouja, many of them former soldiers and members of the secret police, are a more formidable bunch, but they too are nothing that a few thousand Marines can't handle.
Too often, criticism descends into madness and we end up debating the accusation that the Jews/oil companies/Halliburton/insertyoursillyreason led to the war or engage in a debate over an unseemly eagerness to insist that what we face is now Vietnam and we should just surrender now and avoid the next 58,000 KIA. Oh, and imprison Bush and his cabinet to boot for the crime of deposing Saddam.  Krugman comes to mind easily for this line of insane attacks.
I’ve raised issues I believe are wrong in our approach even as I remain confident of winning and sure that we were right to overthrow Saddam. Still, I’ve spent lots of time arguing against the ridiculous charges and accusations. But let me say that ‘happy talk’ is not what I insist on. Real discussions between Americans about how to win is the way to get Iraq right rather than the gotcha politics we see to score political points. Happy talk allows real problems to go uncorrected and leads to soldiers dying for nothing, and to eventual defeat. Just as bad, insane charges allow real problems to go undebated.
Get on with the June 30 turnover date. It is the start of a path to a real government of Iraqis. Iraqis need to have ownership of their country so they will fight their “fellow” Iraqis who blow up children on the way to school and shell their own people in prison.
Instapundit brings up the idea of partitioning Iraq into Shia, Sunni, and Kurdish states (though he is not decided on it). On the surface this seems appealing. Screw the Sunnis and let them rot in their oil-less desert if they don’t want to contribute to the new Iraq.  But doesn’t the rat’s nest of Fallujah show us on a small scale what a rump Sunni state will be like? And since I still wonder where Iraq’s WMD are and fear that at least some are buried somewhere in Iraq’s Sunni heartland, I would not want to leave the Baathists and Islamists in charge there, eager for revenge against us, the Shias, and the Kurds. Are we to then keep the Baathists “in their [smaller] box” for another decade or so? Will we impose sanctions? Stoking resentment at our continued presence? No, better to win this and keep Iraq whole and friendly.
And try to debate in good faith how to win and bring Iraq into the company of decent nations. I may not think that more US or allied troops are a good idea, but at least debating troop strength is constructive.
Even for those who still oppose the war and don’t think President Bush deserves that outcome, don’t the Iraqis deserve a chance at peace and freedom? I would have thought left and right could agree on that.
“Winning in Iraq” (Posted April 20, 2004)
I have been very dismissive of the claims by some that we should increase our troop strength in Iraq to win. I think we have enough. And most of those who call for it are against the war anyway, so they would be the first to panic when increased numbers don’t do what they expect.
As I’ve noted, our kill ratios are irrelevant. Even a ten or twenty to one kill ratio doesn’t win us the war. It is not a metric of success. If we try to make it the metric of success, our people will only count our casualties so even if we kill more of the enemy with more of our troops there, more of ours will die too. As Sensing notes, if even 1% of Iraq’s population is willing to fight or support the fighters, we’d face the need to kill off perhaps 250,000 Iraqis:
If only one percent of the Iraqi population is willing either to take up arms against us or actively support those who do, then we are facing a force, however poorly organized and equipped, of just under a quarter-million. As best as I can tell (figures are not exact), we are killing between 6-8 Iraqis for every soldier or Marine we lose. By the time we take out 240,000, we will lose between 30-40 thousand dead.
Sensing guesses a 6 or 8 to 1 kill ratio in our favor. I think 10:1 is more likely. But even at my ratio, we’d lose 25,000 dead to kill all the Baathists and nutjobs. This doesn’t even count dealing with foreign Islamists going to Jihadworld for the all-day ticket to paradise.
Sensing rightly notes that this is not the way to win.
Not that we shouldn’t kill the enemy at 10:1 ratios or more when they mass to fight, but our fighting prowess won’t win the war.
We have to transfer sovereignty to the Iraqis. We have to push the Iraqis to fight for their country against the Baathists, Sadr nuts, and foreign Jihadis. This is our metric of success. Some of our Iraqis broke and ran, it is true. But others fought. We have to bolster the Iraqis who fought with us, get rid of the ones who defected, and provide better leadership to the ones who wouldn’t fight with us. If they continue to not fight, replace them, too. It doesn’t matter that the Iraqis we arm won’t kill at anywhere near our ratio. Don’t worry about that. Kill ratios aren’t the metric, remember? Push the Iraqis to the front. It’s their country. They must fight. They can’t be spectators to a war between America and the Baathists and whoever they can trick into fighting for them. The new Iraqi security forces must suffer 95% of the casualties to kill off that 1% of actively resisting Sunnis and Jihadis. Because the security forces of the new Iraq can’t afford to get tired. They have no place to go if they lose.
So hold onto 20,000 US troops through the June 30 transfer of sovereignty to deal with the effects of the April Sunni/Sadr surge (and I still bet we won’t need to send in 10,000 more as has been discussed). But continue the glide path downward in our troop strength as soon as possible. And turn over primary fighting duties to Iraqis as quickly as we can in more secure areas—leaving US forces to ride to the rescue of our guys who get in trouble.
Don’t Americanize this war. If we do, we’ll lose.
“Hope for Britain” (Posted April 20, 2004)
I’ve worried about the hostility of the EU toward America and why I think that it is in our interests to oppose this entity. We’ve spent a century resisting efforts by a hostile power to control the continent (the Kaiser, Hitler, and the Soviets) yet now we encourage officially the European Union. In fifty years, we could fight a war with this increasingly anti-democratic and anti-US body. The last sixty years of peace have been an oddity for Europe after all. Why would we encourage them to discover their roots?
European Commission president Romano Prodi Monday praised Spain's decision to pull its troops from Iraq, saying the move could help mend the rift in Europe over the war as well as increase pressure to resolve the Iraqi crisis.
If it was just the rift that was the issue, the Germans, French, and Belgians could have supported the Iraq War. But no, slapping America around is the only Euro-approved way of demonstrating unity.
But now Blair will put EU membership to the people for a vote.
Thank goodness. Worse come to worst, I’d hate to lose Britain as an ally.
But it would be better to end our obsolete support for European unity. That is a Cold War relic. And it is decidedly not in our interest any more.
“Whoa” (Posted April 20, 2004)
Al Qaeda people were probably the ones who nailed the Jordanian embassy in Baghdad last year so they clearly have motive. The Jordanians just nailed a few Islamists. But was their earlier foiled plot really designed to kill 20,000 Jordanians?
The bomb plot was disclosed earlier this week and was said to have been foiled following the arrests of several suspects in two raids in late March and early April. Had the chemical bomb exploded, it could have killed at least 20,000 people and wrecked buildings within a half-mile radius, government officials say.
Was there a concerted effort to attack across Jordan and Iraq at the same time? With people and weapons flowing out of Syria south and east, that is quite possible. Suspects claim they were under orders by Zarqawi.
The 20,000 victims claim is amazing. This would require a lot of nerve gas, expertly applied to succeed. But even if they didn’t have that expertise, did they have the amount necessary and think they could succeed? Was actual gas seized? I mean, the amount necessary to kill that many isn’t something you can make in a basement lab. This is a serious quantity.
And though the Syrians may not have provided the chemical weapons  from their own stocks (since intel could probably trace it to them), where did the gas come from? Could we trace this back to Iraq? Is this evidence that the Iraqis dumped WMD in Syria or elsewhere? And is there more still in Iraq or elsewhere available to the Islamists or Baathists? I’ve worried since the fall of Baghdad that our people in Iraq could get nailed by chemicals dug up and used by the Baathists. Now I worry more.
One would think this would get more coverage—either to support or debunk it. I’d be dismissive if some of this information wasn’t coming directly from Jordan’s king.
June 6, 2004” (Posted April 19, 2004)
I look forward to the 60th anniversary of the D-Day landings.
The French will have to thank us in public ceremonies for all the little white grave markers that dot the French countryside. Can you imagine the press following the 1944 campaign as 2004 unfolds? The summer and fall will be a travelogue of American-dominated Western troops, with the British at our side, advancing across France and Belgium, liberating cities and small towns. With a contingent of Poles, too. And even a Canadian army. An army! Can you imagine? Even the French, equipped with American weapons, took part.
The Germans will tug uncomfortably on their collars as they are reminded that once they were the fascist threat that killed our soldiers and now they refuse to help us fight the modern successors of their fascist ideology.
And I really look forward to seeing Saving Private Ryan hit the small screens for the anniversary. Americans will be reminded again of the meaning of sacrifice and how hard a tough enemy can make a war. We will all be reminded that American soldiers fight for good causes and fight bravely.
Some might be reminded that our soldiers and Marines still carry on that tradition as they fight in Iraq and Afghanistan.
"The Value of Armor" (Posted April 19, 2004)
Iraqi experience has led to a lessons-learned report that questions our plans to abandon heavy armor. From Strategypage:
U.S. Army researchers, after scrutinizing operations in the 2003 Iraq campaign, have concluded that those events contradicted the army’s plans for a new generation of lighter armored vehicles, and dependence on improved communication and reconnaissance to avoid or destroy enemy anti-vehicle weapons. The army report, done at the Army War College, has not been published. It’s said that only twenty copies were made and they are not being widely distributed.
I'm on record as supporting the retention of some type of armored behemoth in the future. Yes, a lighter armored vehicle is nice to bridge the yawning gap between leg infantry and Abrams tanks and Bradley Fighting Vehicles, but the envisioned 20-ton Future Combat System (the reference to 39 tons below was from some talk of upping the weight limit) cannot be both types of armored vehicle. Something has to give. As I wrote in 2002 in “Equipping the Objective Force” (I penned the first version in summer 2001):
The collapse of the Soviet Union transformed our strategic environment overnight. More than a decade later, the Army still fields systems designed for that era. A new, lighter vehicle suitable for a wide range of missions is necessary. The FCS may solve the Army's strategic mobility problem, but it threatens to truncate the Army's dominance of the conflict [spectrum] if it is not as good as it needs to be. Even at 39 tons, the FCS may be too light if evolved MBTs retain their place on the battlefield. In addition, small numbers of FCS-mounted hyperinfantry will not be able to exploit their killing power in peace operations.

A light, cannon-armed FCS with an antitank guided missile attached and plugged into a tactical network will handle many moderate conventional threats and will be useful in stability operations. Experience with IBCTs may well give the Army a better sense of what light armor can do and lead it to accept that it cannot succeed in all threat environments. The IBCT has a limited role as an early entry force and clearly recognizes that it is not the main fighting force. It will eventually be supplanted by heavier divisions if the enemy is heavy and will fight as a maneuver unit of a division.50 The Objective Force is to blur that distinction so that the light forces are the main fighting force. The FCS is critical to making this happen.

Building the FCS, however, is a high-risk venture. The Army should not spend whatever it takes attempting to meld multiple revolutionary technologies into one vehicle for all missions. The FCS should be different from the Abrams and Bradley but must be designed with near-term technology that incorporates modular improvements if the Army is to turn "gee whiz" ideas into actual hardware. Separated missiles and a sensor grid; active defenses; EGTs; and exotic engines, fuels, and weapons can be retrofitted to defeat more capable enemies. Barring successfully fielding exotic technologies to make the FCS work, the Army must consider how it will defeat future heavy systems if fighting actual enemies and not merely suppressing disorder becomes its mission once again. The tentative assumptions of 2001 will change by 2025. When they do, the Army will rue its failure today to accept that the wonder tank will not be built.
Indeed, our assumptions did not last even two more years. The value of our heavy armor in the race to Baghdad and in the post-war battles against well-armed Baathist and Islamist insurgents has been proven. We should not discount that experience as we build our Future Force (the new name and concept in place of the Objective Force).
With top-attack weapons available to end-run the massive frontal armor of an Abrams, we cannot just stick with our current design and expect our heavy armor to continue to survive in battle. But I'm not ready to just abandon the monsters we've taken to war so successfully. I’m old enough to remember that some have predicted the death of main battle tanks since 1973. Forgive me if I don’t rush to declare the tank extinct.
Evolved dinosaurs may still crush those wily mammals nipping at their heels.
“Troop Strength” (Posted April 17, 2004)
Kagan and Kristol want more US troops in the war and want Rumsfeld’s scalp if he won’t provide them:
On Thursday, the secretary of defense announced a three-month extension in tours of duty for about 20,000 troops in Iraq. This did not increase the number of troops on the ground, but it did undo a planned drawdown in military strength from 135,000 to 115,000, thereby maintaining current combat strength. But leaving 20,000 troops in Iraq for an additional three months will almost certainly not be enough. Close observers of the conflict in Iraq, civilian and military alike (military, of course, speaking off the record), say that at least two additional divisions--at least 30,000 extra troops--are needed in Iraq just to deal with the current crisis. Even more troops may well be needed to fully pacify the country. And it would be useful to have as many of those troops as possible there sooner rather than later.
Let me first say that I was disturbed that Rumsfeld was planning to get rid of two Army divisions before 9-11. He has never seemed to value what soldiers can do and what we need soldiers (and Marines) to do. I strongly disagree with Rumsfeld in the big picture. Nonetheless, I think Kagan and Kristol are off base on Iraq.
What crisis is so bad now? Sadr’s threat is evaporating rapidly. His revolt was a joke as long as we don’t blow it. And if we do, we’ll need a lot more troops than even Kagan and Kristol anticipate, I imagine. Ramadi is tamped down. Fallujah and the roads to Baghdad are hot but this is not the Tet Offensive. This seems contained and we’ll either negotiate or crush the enemy when the talks collapse
How many troops do we need in Iraq? If you use the 2% of population as a base level to pacify a country, we’d need 500,000 troops to pacify 25,000,000 Iraqis. We have 135,000 US troops; 25,000 allied troops (and I’m assuming the Korean and Japanese contingents here); 20,000 contract security personnel; and 200,000+ Iraqis. This totals 380,000. Even this is not enough for the 2% level. Plus, the 200,000 Iraqis are not as effective as they could be. If we assume half effectiveness, they are equivalent to 100,000 for now, although in time they can go up in effectiveness. The total is then 280,000 troop-equivalents.
But the entire country does not need pacifying to the same degree. The 5 million Sunnis, 5 million Kurds, and 15 million Shias need differing levels of control. With 0.2% representing a standard civilian peacetime police level and 2% representing the minimum for a successful pacification campaign against opposition, we could assume 2% in the hostile Sunni areas, 0.5% in the friendly Kurdish areas, and 1% in the restless and vulnerable but largely friendly Shia areas.
In this approach, we need 25,000 security personnel for the Kurds, 150,000 for the Shia areas, and 100,000 for the Sunni areas. This totals 275,000 which is a bit less than the 280,000 troop-equivalents we have. It is actually even a little better than this since we have the use of our troops in Kuwait that provide logistics and maintenance services without the same security needs as they would impose if based inside Iraq. This is 40,000+ troops, I believe. So our troops in Iraq can devote more to offensive missions without the need to protect combat service support troops inside Iraq.
Since I strongly believe that it is a mistake to Americanize the war any more than it is, why would we lessen the pressure on the Iraqis to perform? We cannot fight for years on end and expect the public to support the war effort when we lose 30-40 soldiers a month on average and more in spikes. If the Iraqis assume we will do the job, are we prepared to replace the 100,000 soldier-equivalents that the Iraqis provide right now just to fight the Baathists? And how long will the public support US troop levels of a quarter million in Iraq?
No, we do not need more troops in Iraq. Holding over 3 brigades in the short run is fine and preparing a couple more brigades just in case is prudent, but I bet we won’t need to send them in.  I don’t see the need for more numbers. Sure, what soldiers wouldn’t want help? But this logic will lead to 500,000 troops in a few years and the Iraqis will watch us fight the insurgents and just stay angry at us for the damage of war as the memories of Saddam fade. No, we must work hard to reduce our troops strength and our role in the fight. Iraqis must step up and take over the fighting.
Do we need more troops generally in the Army? Yes. Ten more separate brigades (40,000 troops) would be nice to help with the rotation of forces and reduce the stress on the total Army and Marine Corps effort in Iraq and elsewhere.
That said, I should post this article that highlights the great risk we took in going to war with an Army smaller than the planners thought sufficient to win. Instead of going ahead with what the planners thought, we decided to take a risk and in the end fielded only 42% of the divisions believed necessary to win. Indeed, on the very eve of invasion our leadership ratified the assumption that we could go with far less than war plans originally assumed.
And our leadership took this decision even though we needed troops to fight in other unanticipated locations in the GWOT.* Indeed, an unwillingness to disrupt our civilian workforce was a major part of the decision to not fully mobilize for combat. In addition, we believed our air power would reduce the need for ground troops and decided that plans for air strength would remain as first anticipated. We also assumed that we could skimp on troops overall by using troops from the main effort to bolster subsidiary efforts after we won the main war. What is more, we reduced the number of heavy units and emphasized lighter infantry units on the assumption that all the armor we thought we’d need was too heavy to transport and ultimately unneeded to win. Backing up our truncated combat force was a service troop strength inadequate to wage war. The military even considered retraining combat troops as support troops to meet the demands of war.
The military and civilian leadership knew we were taking a risk yet we did it anyway. We ended up having virtually no strategic reserve. When the enemy counter-attacked we found our assumptions faulty and we had only two divisions out of our entire Army uncommitted to the war by the end. As the author notes:
It will long be a question whether the photo-finish in World War II reflected an uncommonly lucky gamble or a surprisingly accurate forecast. But few would deny that, in their performance on the field of battle in the critical campaigns of 1944-45, the hitherto still largely untested divisions of the U.S. Army, so largely a product of General Marshall's own faith and struggles, vindicated the bold calculation in Washington.
Of course, we won World War II so I shouldn’t be too harsh on FDR and Marshall.
We’ll win in Iraq, too, if we don’t panic and strain the home fronts in America and Iraq by flooding Iraq with US troops.
*Global War on Tyranny; otherwise known as World War II.
“How We Fight and Win” (Posted April 17, 2004)
It took a Russian paper to note this in the media, but check this out regarding our fighting in Fallujah (via Instapundit). First, he notes the strange eagerness to compare the fighting to Vietnam:
The administration of U.S. President George W. Bush has plenty of enemies both at home and abroad. A lot of people would love to see Bush get a bloody nose in Iraq, or anywhere else. Last week the critics had a field day: With heavy fighting in Fallujah and sporadic clashes breaking out elsewhere, Democratic Senator Edward Kennedy said that Iraq had become "George Bush's Vietnam," and declared that the United States needs a new leader.
He rightly says that we are smashing our enemies in Fallujah without killing civilians on a mass scale:
Just like the Russians in Grozny, the Marines last week were supported by tanks and attack helicopters, but the end result was entirely different. U.S. forces did not bomb the city indiscriminately. The Iraqis fought well but were massacred. According to the latest body count, some 600 Iraqis died and another 1,000 were wounded. The Marines lost some 20 men.
Nice to see somebody in the press with some clue, at least.
The writer, however, ascribes our success to technology:
The Marines are far better trained, of course, but the Iraqis were fighting in their hometown. The decisive difference between the two sides was the extensive use of a computerized command, control and targeting system by the U.S. military. Satellites, manned and unmanned aircraft collected precise information on enemy and friendly movements on the battlefield night and day.

Modern U.S. field commanders have real-time access to this system, allowing them to monitor the changing situation on the battlefield as no commander in the history of war has been able to do. This technology has greatly enhanced the effectiveness of aerial bombardments in the last decade. And now the nature of house-to-house combat has changed as well.
It is a compliment to say we are better trained “of course,” but our superior training is not a given. We work hard at it. Nor is it an aside to state and then move on to the real reasons for our success.
Sure, technology helps, but the real advantage we have is the training of our troops. While our enemies may be willing to die, they are not part of—as we chanted in our running cadences in basic training—the US military’s “killing machine.” The NYT article gets it (I’ll ignore the stretch for a Vietnam comparison by the author when he calls the mission a “search and destroy mission.” I’m quite sure the Marines don’t refer to it that way. But hey, who am I to insist on reporting rather than editorializing?):
American forces killed more than 100 insurgents on Tuesday in close combat in a small village in central Iraq, Marine commanders said Wednesday.

The battle, classic urban combat that raged for 14 hours, was one of the heaviest engagements since the invasion of Iraq last year. It showed not only the intensity of the resistance but an acute willingness among insurgents to die.

"A lot of these guys were souped up on jihad," said Lt. Col. B. P. McCoy, commander of the Fourth Battalion, Third Marines. "They might as well been suicide fighters."

Marines fought house to house, roof to roof, doorway to doorway. They repelled attacks of machine-gun fire, volleys of rockets and repeated charges by masked fighters, Colonel McCoy said. Two marines were shot but their injuries were not life-threatening.

The fighting erupted in Karma, six miles northeast of Falluja, during a search-and-destroy mission.
More than 100 insurgents killed and we suffered 2 wounded. And how did we do it? With the high-tech gear that the Russian writer clearly wants for his military? No:
One of the most important tools for this battle comes from the garden shed: sledgehammers. On Wednesday, marines punched "mouseholes," just big enough for gun barrels, in the brick walls of the homes they occupied. They also smashed windows to scatter shards of glass across the front steps.

"It's an early warning system," Capt. Shannon Johnson explained, as he crunched noisily across the glass, "something the old guys taught us."

Nearby, a squad of young men with crewcuts swung heavy hammers under a punishing sun. They were knocking down the low walls along the rooftops so they could move on catwalks from roof to roof.

"This is classic urban warfare," said Maj. Gen. Jim Mattis, commander of the First Marine Division. "It's all the stuff World War II taught us, along with Korea, Vietnam and Somalia. People will be studying Falluja for years to come."

The weaponry — mostly low-tech, like machine guns and mortars — is also reminiscent of earlier wars. There have been a few guided-missile attacks from the air. But Falluja is so densely populated — 300,000 people in only a few square miles — that commanders have been reluctant to call in airstrikes.

"And we don't want to rubblize the city," said Colonel McCoy, whose battalion of 800 clashes daily with insurgents. "That will give the enemy more places to hide."
Hammers. Broken glass. Personal and crew-served weapons like wars past. These are the tools used to shred our enemy. It also confirms the care we are taking not to destroy the city with its residents still present. It also shows our ability to use our brains and avoid just leveling the city like the Russians did in Grozny. Rubble means lots of dead civilians unless they are evacuated and just provides better cover and concealment for the enemy.
We can be proud of how our soldiers and Marines have fought this war. Proud that we have proven our enemies wrong who said if only they could come to grips with us without all our high tech gear that they would beat us. Our enemies may think the green banner is superior, but the Green Machine is the real killing machine in battle. Willingness to die crumbles in the face of ability to kill.
Now, I’m not really comfortable with counting enemy bodies. It is not a measure of success or failure. And I don’t want it to become a measure of success. But it is coming out more now because it seems like the military wants to erase the impression that we are taking it on the chin. Our public may think that reports of only US casualties means only we are taking them. This is unfortunate. As much as I celebrate the skill of our Marines and soldiers (and welcome whatever high tech gear they bring to the fight to enhance our killing advantage over even souped-up enemies), I hope the military high command is not putting pressure on lower level officers to provide body counts. Just win.
“The New Plastic Turkey!” (Posted April 17, 2004)
The new faux issue for the anti-war side to use in their continued debate over whether to invade Iraq has arrived!
As prologue, I’m continually amazed at their refusal to move on and at least try debating the best course to win the post-war fight. I know I ended any complaints about going into Somalia, Haiti, Kosovo, and Liberia once we actually sent the troops in. My worry then was how to win. I certainly never considered the interventions as immoral. And I cannot imagine wishing for the enemy to kill our troops to prove I was right.
But I digress.
The current buring issue is … wait for it!
President Bush directed our military to plan for an invasion of Iraq as early as November 2001!
President Bush secretly ordered a war plan drawn up against Iraq less than two months after U.S. forces attacked Afghanistan and was so worried the decision would cause a furor he did not tell everyone on his national security team, says a new book on his Iraq policy.
One must of course ignore a number of basic facts to be outraged.
First, the military has an invasion plan for Iraq already. I’m sure it was regularly updated. If not, that would outrage me.
Second, unless I’ve missed the dotmil site that has the pdf files for all our invasion plans, they kind of need to stay secret in case our enemies might find them of use.
Third, I’m not aware that the President has to clear or even inform all of his advisors on a given subject. I thought they, you know, advised at the pleasure of the President.
Fourth, you must completely blank out the outrage that was expressed for our supposed failure to plan enough for the war and aftermath.
Fifth, you have to really toss down the memory hole the fact that any indications at all of planning prior to the war were seized on by opponents of the war as evidence the administration had pre-judged the issue and really wasn’t giving “peace” a chance. Shoot, it came out in one case I recall that our work with a humanitarian group had to be kept secret lest the group be ostracized for assuming war as it prepared to cope with any humanitarian emergencies that might emerge.
Lastly, I know that I figured as early as December 2001 when Kabul fell that Iraq would be next. My only question was spring or fall.
It is always so exciting to see the newest plastic turkey issue arrive! Who will say the most idiotic thing about the non-issue? Which news outlet will most embarrass themselves covering it? How long will it last?
I’m giddy.
But mostly saddened, actually. Saddened that some will seize on anything to attack our war effort. Saddened that the press either agrees with the attack or is unable to see it as a faux issue.
"Army Rotation" (Posted April 15, 2004)
Troops of 1st AD and 2 ACR (Light) who haven't already rotated back to their home base will be kept in Iraq for another three months. This must be tremendously disappointing. Still, like reservists getting called up in greater numbers now that we are at war, I expect that soldiers will fight when necessary. It would certainly help the soldiers' morale if criticism of the war effort didn't drift into defeatism so much. In the end, the soldiers will step up. The critics will not.
While a short retention to get past June 30 seems appropriate given the Fallujah region and the lesser Sadr problem, the path to reducing strength should get back on track as soon as possible. The Iraqis need to take more of a burden, notwithstanding some well-publicized failures (question: so how would recalling Saddam-era units intact after the war have made them more loyal to the new Iraq?)
This does highlight our numbers problem. We have over 150,000 mobilized for the Army. We are reorganizing our divisions to provide 20% more line troops (armor, infantry, recon) by reducing air defense and other support troops more suited to fighting peer armies. We are also moving excess troops such as artillery units into new military police units.
Yet this is not enough. We should have had enough troops to reinforce Iraq in emergencies. I concede that even if we had those troops we'd probably still want to keep the experienced troops longer to deal with the surge of violence. Still, what if the uprisings had taken place in two months when the two retained units were out of Iraq?
In addition to reorganization, we need new Army units. I used to think that a couple motorized infantry divisions with one organic battalion each of armor and mechanized infantry for heavy forces was at the very least a good start to handling the need for numbers. It might be better, however, to organize separate brigades or even battalions to plug into existing divisions when they rotate into Iraq or Afghanistan. We'd get more bang for the buck and it would be much quicker to create new brigades and battalions than the two years it takes to build a division from scratch. It seems like span of control is greater now and in occupation duty, it would be rare anyway for threats to emerge against all of a division's brigades. Some brigades could operate independently, too.
We certainly need a larger Army.
"Exciting Tales of the Reality Challenged!" (Posted April 15, 2004)
We start out with the Palestinians:
Bush's concessions to Israel on Wednesday enraged the Palestinians, who want an independent state in all of the West Bank, Gaza and east Jerusalem — land that Israel captured in the 1967 Mideast war.
Yet consider their recent history regarding America alone:
  • They cheer on the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait.
  • They cheer the September 11 attacks.
  • They take Saddam's money to kill Israelis and lament his downfall in 2003.
  • They kill Americans attempting to dispense scholarships to Palestinians.
And after all that, they express some shock that we are backing Sharon's plan to get out of the occupied territories with a wall to protect Israelis from Palestinian suicide bombers while keeping some of the border-straddling settlements on the West Bank.
Never mind that this was anticipated even in the last Clinton plan.
Never mind that the Palestinians should be thanking God every day that our government has backed Palestinian independence despite their deplorable conduct and support of terror.
No, the Palestinians are shocked that we support a border adjustment in Israel's favor.
Ladies and gentlemen, I give you this week's prime example of the reality challenged: the Palestinians.
Actually, as long as some are divorcing reality from arguments, why don't the Israelis vehemently insist that the barrier wall is designed to protect Palestinians from Israeli suicide-bombers. That would be ok, wouldn't it?
Of course, it would be rude to insist that only foreigners are capable of this.
The 9-11 hearings display this characteristic as well.
How else can we explain the heated accusations of the administration's most vocal opponents that Bush should have done more prior to 9-11 to stop the attacks. How can we take this line of argument seriously when they simultaneously insist that the USA Patriot Act infringes on civil rights and that the administration has suppressed dissent? How can they argue that we should have implemented measures far more extreme than we've implemented after 9-11? And further, how can the critics insist with a straight face that inquiry into mistakes must go back no farther than the inauguration of Bush 43? How is reality even being recognized in this line of attack? Oh yeah, the reality that if you looked before 2001 you might have to examine one of the panel's commissioners (thanks Instapundit) for her role in the failure of intelligence. Yes, more tales of the reality challenged.
And let us not forget worldly Hollywood types here who are unable to accept reality even if we could pound it in with a two by four. Oliver Stone (via Instapundit), when asked about Castro's prisons in an interview, expresses surprise that anyone would think anything bad about Castro's Cuba:
I must say, you're really picturing a Stalinist state. It doesn't feel that way.
Stone doesn't think it feels like a Stalinist state. Ignore the reality. Ignore the gulags and oppression. Ignore the patterns of aggression around the world in support of thug-regimes and causes. Ignore it all. Castro was nice to him and he didn't feel anything was wrong.
Yet another tale of the reality challenged.
“WMD” (Posted April 14, 2004)
Just a personal opinion on the WMD issue.
While I am satisfied that Saddam was pursuing nukes and would have gotten them eventually if we hadn’t invaded, I am also convinced that we will find some buried chemical or biological weapons in Iraq.
I still find it hard to believe that all his scientists were scamming Saddam for money. And our long detour through the UN gave Saddam’s people plenty of time to dig deep.
I just hope we find them before they are dug up and used on our troops or the CPA.
I’ve said this before, but as long as the President mentioned it last night, I figured I might as well toss in my two cents again.
“The Fruits of Extensive Planning” (Posted April 14, 2004)
We’ve been told many times that if only we’d planned for the post-war in Iraq as we spent planning the post-war in World War II (you know, thousands of experts working for 3-1/2 years churning out tons of reports) we’d have done better in Iraq.
Via Winds of Change, a little reminder (again) of what post-WW II Germany was like.
No, there wasn’t armed resistance like today, but the economy and despair were rock bottom for four years before progress was evident.
“Korean Balance of Power” (Posted April 14, 2004)
For decades, dealing with a massed armored assault by North Korea, supported by large numbers of commandos infiltrating the South could only be met with massed troops absorbing the body blow and hopefully holding Seoul in the process. Only after stopping the North would the long slog back north begin.
But the precision air power demonstrated in Kosovo in 1999, Afghanistan in 2001, and Iraq in 2003 is now coming to a DMZ near you:
Much of the new military equipment and weapons seen in Afghanistan and Iraq have reached South Korea. As a result, South Korean and American commanders are changing their war plans. In the past, the basic idea was to just survive the initial North Korean attack, which was seen as a massive one. This was pretty obvious from the composition and deployment of the North Korean forces. It was also known that North Korean officers were well drilled in Cold War era Soviet tactics, which were built around a mighty initial attack. The South Korean plan was to survive that attack, and then counterattack with the help of American reinforcements.

But now, with smart bombs, improved helicopter gunships, UAVs and better battlefield intelligence, plans are moving towards more aggressively disrupting North Korean operations.
Even better, with 2nd ID moving off the DMZ and pulling south, our lone division on the peninsula will be better poised to direct all the lethal and precise weapons our ground forces now have.
Even better again, the North is so low on fuel and food that even the Northern army is weaker and more poorly trained. So if the North attacks, their armor will be slower, likely bunch up, and otherwise make themselves easier targets for our weapons raining from the sky and sea. They’ll probably be pretty brittle too.
So instead of just absorbing the first blow, we will reach out to disrupt the first, less expertly landed blow. This means the North will be stopped faster and farther north with more Northern losses and fewer Southern/US losses. As this improvement in our firepower increases further, we will eventually get to the point where our counter-attack will kick off rather rapidly and we will welcome a Northern assault just to get the Northern units out in the open and moving where we can easily detect and kill them.
And in time, should the political will be there, we’ll be able to just strip the “counter” prefix off the war plans and just nail the Pillsbury Nuke Boy for good.
And the best part? We could have anti-missile ships off of Korea and missile defense in Alaska to shoot down whatever the North cobbles together.
That correlation of forces that Marxists love to prattle on about is moving our way.
This means we have more freedom to squeeze the North since their military option is getting weaker and weaker every day.
"Najaf" (Posted April 14, 2004)
I've said I'm most worried about the Baathist resistance in Fallujah and elsewhere and not worried about the Sadr affair. Strategypage says they are worried about the Sadr affair and not the Baathists. They have a point but I think that who you worry about more depends on what you are worrying about.
I worry about the Baathists because they have the means and motive to resist hard in the short run and are the ones killing our troops. The Shias are friendly for the most part and although Sadr is defying us, he isn't terribly effective and the Shias consider him more of an idiot brother-in-law than a legitimate voice of the Shia.
In the long run, Strategypage is correct. Since the Sunni Baathists are a minority in a geographically distinct region, they can't on their own retake Iraq. The Shias, who represent the majority, must be kept on our side to keep Iraq friendly—hence the worry about the Shias as the more important problem.
I guess I figure we can keep the Shias content by transferring power to a Shia-dominated interim government on June 30 and transitioning to a democracy where numbers will count (with minority rights and rule of law established so losers don't reach for their AKs and RPGs).
Given this distinction, I'm actually glad that we have been softer on the Sadr uprising. I'm still upset we are in a ceasefire with the Baathists in Fallujah, mind you. But we can't storm Najaf the same way to get the idiot Sadr. Najaf is a holy site and Sadr would gain sympathy for being attacked in there. Indeed, were I the Iranians, I'd have the Iranian contingent of the Mahdi Army in Najaf primed for a fight to the death to provoke the destruction of holy sites and the death of Shia civilians. Shoot, I'd blow up the holy sites myself since I'd be pretty sure the Americans wouldn't do it even accidentally.
It would have been better for our allied contingents to have held fast in the first attacks. Had they held, the Sadr militia would have recoiled and gone home. Even in Kut the Sadr people showed little stomach for facing Americans and we swept the Sadr thugs out quickly and with little resistance, and so had little need for firepower (and no press coverage, too).
All in all, we'd be better off arresting Sadr and his top lieutenants. Or better yet, getting Sistani to bless the arrest and get local cops backed by ICDC troops to do it. (And note that Sadr is backing off on his conditions to talk already—a sign of his weakness) Then, as the price for letting the low level rabble go home without their arms (the Sadr guys in Najaf are not locals as I understand it and 2,500 US troops should be able to screen them leaving) and get Sadr's people to turn over the Iranians in their midst to us (again, 2,500 US troops will take custody). Summer in Gitmo should be lovely for the Iranians. Trials and prisons for the top Sadr Iraqis by other Iraqis would serve us well. Consequences must exist for resisting us with arms.
Order needs to be maintained at the lowest possible level of force. And the Sunni and Sadr problems need to be addressed uniquely. We can afford to offend the Sunnis since they hate us for removing them from power. We've been more than patient giving them a chance to join the new Iraq. I thought the June 30 transfer would focus their minds and lead to a dose of reality. Instead, their minds were focused to resist. Smash them.
The Shias we rely on as a base of support. The Kurds are an important addition to our supporters but they can't be a base of support alone unless we abandon democracy and just use the old tried and true colonial method of giving a minority of friendlies formerly abused the guns (the Kurds—not the Sunnis). I don't advocate that at all. So, since the Sadr uprising is more farcical than a real threat, don't fight it like a real threat.  Or it could become one.
“The Most Important Front” (Posted April 13, 2004)
The President ably defended our Iraq policy:
American forces will "finish the work of the fallen" and usher in a new era of freedom and democracy.
He needs to do this more. And often. Never let up. Make sure that the left has to wait for yet another war to get their precious new Vietnam.
“There Must Be Consequences” (Posted April 13, 2004)
US forces are poised to strike Sadr:
U.S. commanders vowed to kill or capture al-Sadr, though officials suggested they would give negotiations a chance.

"The target is not Najaf. The target is Muqtada al-Sadr and his militia," said Brig. Mark Kimmitt, deputy head of U.S. military operations in Iraq. "We will hunt him down and destroy him. We would prefer it not in Najaf or Karbala. We have very great respect for the shrines, for the Shiites."
Sadr must be jailed or executed for his crimes, his lieutenants must face trial, and his militia must be disbanded with the Iranians turned over for a trip to Gitmo. If negotiations can provide these things—fine. But all these things must happen. Or Sadr’s people must be killed in battle if they refuse to surrender and resist.
Our enemies must know there are consequences for opposing us. We can’t just let them go home and try again when we may be more vulnerable. We cannot let our friends see us flinch in the face of threats. Neutrals must see that our friends are protected and that our enemies die or languish in prison.
“Chavez” (Posted April 13, 2004)
The battle over accepting the call of the Venezuelan people for a referendum on the thug Chavez continues. The AP report has a gem:
Chavez opponents accuse the president of becoming increasingly autocratic and pitting rich against poor with "revolutionary" rhetoric. Supporters say he is the first president in decades to show concern for Venezuela's impoverished majority.
Concern for the poor.
Yeah, Chavez loves the poor of Venezuala so much that he wants more of them.
As long as you say you love the poor, you can do anything and lead your poor to support any crime, and some will still laud you for your “concern.”
“So What About that Vietnam Analogy?” (Posted April 13, 2004)
We’ve been hearing about new Vietnams ever since 1975. Heck, the recent cries about a new Vietnam in Iraq are the second wave of cries. The first one was in the second week of the invasion when a sandstorm stalled our hyperkrieg to Baghdad.
So what about the Vietnam comparison? Even a US Senator made the claim. He of course meant that we will be defeated inevitably. But our defeat in Vietnam isn’t inevitable. We had that war won, in fact, until Congress refused to honor our pledge to supply South Vietnam with weapons and our failure to honor our pledge to provide air and naval support in the face of a North Vietnamese armored invasion. President Ford did not step up to the plate, either.
M.T. Owens noted that the South Vietnamese showed they could defend their country with our help:
The proof lay in the 1972 Easter Offensive. This was the biggest offensive push of the war, greater in magnitude than either the 1968 Tet offensive or the final assault of 1975. The U.S. provided massive air and naval support and there were inevitable failures on the part of some ARVN units, but all in all, the South Vietnamese fought well. Then, having blunted the communist thrust, they recaptured territory that had been lost to Hanoi. Finally, so effective was the eleven-day "Christmas bombing" campaign (LINEBACKER II) later that year that the British counterinsurgency expert, Sir Robert Thompson exclaimed, "you had won the war. It was over."

Three years later, despite the heroic performance of some ARVN units, South Vietnam collapsed against a much weaker, cobbled-together PAVN offensive. What happened to cause this reversal?

First, the Nixon administration, in its rush to extricate the country from Vietnam, forced South Vietnam to accept a cease fire that permitted PAVN forces to remain in South Vietnam. Then in an act that still shames the United States to this day, Congress cut off military and economic assistance to South Vietnam. Finally, President Nixon resigned over Watergate and his successor, constrained by congressional action, defaulted on promises to respond with force to North Vietnamese violations of the peace terms. Sorley describes in detail the logistical and operational consequences for the ARVN of our having starved them of promised support for three years.
I thought I was right in the 1980s. I still do. Indeed, I have a bumper sticker on my car that reads: "I don't know what happened. When I left, we were winning!" There is growing evidence that this sentiment is not as farfetched as some might think.
Yes. I too believed this in the 1980s. In 1982 (or ‘83 or ‘84, I forget), I had an undergraduate poli sci class and one class we were discussing Vietnam. The teaching assistant (Bradley Martin, I think. The best TA I ever had. I think he went on to become an officer in the Navy) asked the class what would have happened if the US had provided support to South Vietnam in 1975. I said I believed that South Vietnam would have held off the invasion—based on their earlier success with our help—and that today South Vietnam would be an independent state more free than the North. I imagine that Martin was surprised that a student in the 1980s University of Michigan believed such a violation of accepted wisdom that Vietnam was unwinnable. To my surprise, he agreed with me. I hope Martin is still in the Navy. We could use him.
So when some say that Iraq is the new Vietnam, I hope they are wrong. Because the only way it could become a new Vietnam is if our elites convince the public that a winning effort is actually defeat.
In time, I think that Iraq will be what Vietnam could have been—a victory that leads to the freedom of tens of millions who lived in fear and came to thank Americans for freeing them.
“Finish the Job” (Posted April 12, 2004)
We’re still in the process of ending the Sadr and Fallujah uprisings. Our enemies have not stopped us. We have stopped ourselves. We allow our enemies a respite to talk in Fallujah and to retreat in the areas held by Sadr’s thugs.
Steyn thinks (and I agree) that we are too worried about “rattling the teacups” of our enemies. Yes, counter-insurgency must be waged at the lowest level of force possible, but where our enemies gather in large numbers with military weapons, sending in the Bobbies should not be the option. As Steyn notes:
Look at those pictures of the atrocity in Fallujah: the remains of four corpses, and a bunch of savages dancing around them. In all those photographs, can you add up more than a hundred men? And half of them are punk kids under 11. There are 300,000 people in that city. A few score are depraved enough to cheer on the killers of four brave men; 299,900 of the town's population were either disapproving or indifferent.

And in the Arab world, the indifferent are the biggest demographic. They sit things out, they see which strong horse has jostled his way to the head of the pack, and they go along with him. The Turks. The British. The British-installed king. The thug who murders the king. The thug who murders the thug who murders the king.

The passivity of the Arabs, the sensitivity of the coalition and the defeatism of the media is a potentially disastrous combination. Rattling teacups gets you a bad press from CNN and the BBC. But they give you a bad press anyway. And in Iraq, the non-rattling of the teacups is received by the locals not as cultural respect from Bush and Blair but as weakness. In that cafe in Fallujah, as a parodic courtesy, the patron switched the flickering black-and-white TV from an Arabic station to the BBC, which as usual was full of doom and gloom.

The Iraqis will go with the winning side. And, though the Americans had a bad week last week, the insurgents had a worse one, losing as many men in seven days as U.S. forces did in the last year. The best way to make plain you're the winning side is to crush the other guys -- and rattle their teacups so loudly even CNN can't paint it as a setback.
Look what our sensitivity and restraint has given us. Rumors of our violence outweigh our restraint. It is simply not possible for us to be restrained enough since our enemies will spread the vilest rumors about our bloodthirsty nature no matter how concerned we are to not rattle teacups. No matter how hard we try to avoid harming civilians. Better to fight hard (while taking care to minimize civilian casualties because we are better than our enemies) and win quickly since we will take the same amount of heat regardless of the actual facts. The key is ending the fighting with a win as soon as possible.
Let the people of Iraq know we are not afraid of winning. Let them know with certainty that we will win at the end of the day—not the Baathists and not Sadr’s Iranian-supported fanatics. Via Sensing, Peters writes that we have to crush the Baathists and Sadr’s forces. He says:
Moqtada Sadr's organization must be destroyed. Sadr must be captured or killed. If he hides in a mosque, go in after him. We're not impressing our enemies with our restraint - they play the religion card as the ace that never fails.

And the parallel operations in the Sunni Triangle must be pursued to the complete subjugation of Fallujah and the defeat of any terrorist who raises a gun.

Our president must make no mistake: Any "settlement," any halt short of the annihilation of the killers who want to destroy the future of Iraq, will be read throughout that troubled country and the greater Islamic world as a resounding victory for the terrorists. They'll be viewed as having defeated the U.S. military, stopping it in its tracks.

Reality is immaterial. In the Middle East, perception trumps facts. Only uncompromising strength impresses our enemies. The president can't afford to listen to the counsels of caution.
Oh, and Iran’s hand in supporting Sadr that Peters notes will aid in justifying our spring 2005 campaign to end the mullah’s regime in Tehran.
Crush our enemies. It’s bad enough we fought Vietnam and gave our enemies sanctuaries in Cambodia, Laos, and North Vietnam. Don’t give our current enemies a sanctuary in Fallujah to retreat to.
If we don’t destroy them now, they’ll retreat, lick their wounds, and then they’ll be back for more. We are at war. Remember?
“When You Start to Take Fallujah, …” (Posted April 11, 2004)
then take Fallujah.
Fallujah — 35 miles west of Baghdad — saw occasional sniper fire Sunday, but was the quietest it has been all week. Sunni insurgents and Marines agreed to a cease-fire that started early Sunday and will last until the evening amid talks between Iraqi officials on how to end the violence.

More than 600 Iraqis have been killed in the fighting in Fallujah since fighting began early Monday, the head of the city's hospital said Sunday. Rafie al-Issawi said actual number may be higher because there were reports of people being buried at home.

At least five Marines have died in the fighting.

Members of the Iraqi Governing Council were holding a second day of negotiations with city representatives Sunday in an attempt to win the handover of Iraqis who killed and mutilated four American civilians on March 31 and of other militants.

Hundreds of U.S. reinforcements moved in place on the city edge, joining 1,200 Marines and nearly 900 Iraqi security forces already involved in the fighting.
So what are we doing with a ceasefire there? What is to talk about other than their surrender and why would they do that now? Why on Earth would we halt offensive operations to talk? If they want to talk, we can talk. But our Marines should be driving them back and killing them as we talk. That’s a negotiating position hard to beat. Surrender or die. Decide quickly while you can.
So what have we done now? Talking saves them since we halt offensive operations. What kind of incentive do they have to surrender? Just talking keeps them alive!
Yes, the heavy combat is unsettling to some. But when something is unsettling, you get it over with fast—not drag it out.
We’ve set a very bad precedent by treating the Baathist thugs as negotiating partners with stature. We’re killing them and losing but a fraction of the troops in the process. We should not let up until we win. Yes, when the ceasefire breaks down, we will use our skilled Marines and kill at the same unbalanced ratio. Yet kill-ratios are meaningless in isolation. Our national resolve depends on visibly winning, and our dead are the only dead that count when our public opinion is polled. Win quickly. Break the Baathists. Clamp down on the city and sift it for any Baathists and any Islamists who broke and melted into the population.
Take Fallujah. (Strategypage doesn’t seem to be as worried about the negotiations in Fallujah, I should note. I disagree but I note it. They are also heartened by the apparent increase in Iraqi willingness to fight the thugs in response to this mini-crisis. As I’ll mention in a bit, this is key)
Oh, and we need a lot more of the President defending our cause in Iraq and why we must win. Lots more. In much more forceful and publicized forums.
But the call for more troops, as some in this article argue for, is misguided. Sure, hold over some of the troops scheduled to depart until we tamp this surge down. But I disagree strongly that we need more troops. We have enough, and if we send more we do two things.
One, we reduce the pressure on the Iraqis to fight for themselves. It would be a tremendous mistake to reverse the trend toward more Iraqis under arms taking more responsibility for fighting the Baathists, Sadr’s goons, and Islamists. We would be needlessly Americanizing the fight when we must put a local face on it as much as possible, with our troops pulling back into the background as soon as we can, where we can.
This relates to the second problem of increasing our troop strength—we’d be escalating expectations of committing more US troops. When we commit troops in large numbers, our public expects fast results. And given the limited geographic scope of the insurgency, we would be adding targets without adding useful capability. I think we have enough troops on hand. And as we add troops, we’ll need more troops for support functions and more troops to guard the support troops and more supply convoys to protect.
Pretty soon we’ll have the Samarra Umpires Association as our troops need recreation and as the numbers of baseball teams grow to require an actual association of military umpires to referee the games! (This did happen in Vietnam, by the way) And in a war that by its nature must drag on as insurgents are tracked down in dribs and drabs, we would be reducing our time to win by making it seem like we should be able to win fast with all those extra troops.
Reduce troop levels as soon as we can, relying on Iraqis to endure most casualties, and our public will accept lengthy commitments. Like El Salvador in the 1980s. Or Bosnia. Or Kosovo. Or the Phillipines. Or Colombia. Or Afghanistan. Small numbers are easier to deploy for long durations.
Finally, when we do go after Sadr’s forces, having waited for the Islamic holiday to end so civilians will clear the area, do it as fast as possible (with our customary care for reducing civilian damage, of course). We appear confident of rapid success when we do strike:
About 1,000 U.S. troops backed by tanks swept into the southern city of Kut on Wednesday to expell al-Sadr militiamen. They met relatively little resistance.

Brig. Gen. Mark Kimmitt (search), deputy chief of U.S. military operations, appeared confident Saturday that American troops can do the same when they move against al-Sadr elsewhere.

"It is our assessment that the al-Sadr militia doesn't have the capability to conduct prolonged offensive operations," he told reporters in Baghdad. "Everytime his militia is faced with a determined resolve of Iraqi security forces or the coalition military forces, they typically will shoot a few rounds and run away."
Yes, we should easily crush his forces. But I would have one caution: if Iranian Pasdaran goons have bolstered Sadr’s band of idiots, they could die hard. Perhaps not skillfully, but they may not break and run when confronted. There could be pockets of tough resistance. Prepare mentally for a hard fight. Be grateful if it turns out easy. And for Pete’s sake, crush them—don’t halt the offensive to negotiate once we start.
The same principle applies: when you begin to destroy Sadr, destroy Sadr.
“The Sadr Threat” (Posted April 10, 2004)
Amazingly, one degreed fellow thinks our side needs to negotiate with Sadr!
America's wisest move would be to urge Ayatollah Sistani to begin talks with Mr. Sadr at his home in Najaf. Such a meeting would signal Mr. Sadr's recognition of the grand ayatollah as the supreme Shiite leader. Any compromise would inevitably have to include a statement by Mr. Sadr renouncing violence and instructing his militiamen to return power in the cities under their control to the Iraqi police. In return, the coalition authority would agree not to attempt to arrest Mr. Sadr or to provoke him in the future. It would also permit Mr. Sadr to re-open his newspaper, Al Hawza, which was shut down last month, provided it stops inciting violence.
Negotiate? With a man who couldn’t get as many votes as Ralph Nader in a free election? A man who relies on Iranian mullahs for money and advice? A man who uses murder and terror to build a little fiefdom? A man who is in open—albeit militarily weak—revolt against us? A man who is willing to ally with the Baathists? Negotiate with that scum? At what point in a person’s long pursuit of a PhD does all sense just leach out? And this is one of the people teaching about the Middle East in our colleges.
Oh. And here’s the really good part:
Any compromise will also require implicit recognition by all parties that Mr. Sadr's supporters will be allowed to participate in Iraqi politics just as the Shiite organization Hezbollah does in Lebanon.
Creating an Iraqi Hezbollah may be in somebody’s interest but it sure as Hell isn’t in our interest or in the interest of the Iraqi people.
Sistani doesn’t need any legitimacy and Sadr wouldn’t provide it if he did—God forbid we should reach that point. Sadr does and negotiating with him would give him the credibility he failed to build in the last year. Negotiating with him would teach everybody that the rule of the gun and the mob has not been replaced by rule of law.
My God, our problem is that our enemies don’t fear us enough and our friends can’t count on us to destroy our enemies, and the neutrals are getting the wrong ideas when they see how we treat our enemies too gently and how our friends worry about our commitment.
Brooks is cooler and feels we must get Sadr. Carefully to avoid offending Shia sensibilities, but get him. And Brooks is pleased that the government is not panicking even as some see disaster looming and wish to retreat as fast as possible:
This week, Chicken Littles like Ted Kennedy and Robert Byrd were ranting that Iraq is another Vietnam. Pundits and sages were spinning a whole series of mutually exclusive disaster scenarios: Civil war! A nationwide rebellion!

Maybe we should calm down a bit. I've spent the last few days talking with people who've spent much of their careers studying and working in this region. We're at a perilous moment in Iraqi history, but the situation is not collapsing. We're in the middle of a battle. It's a battle against people who vehemently oppose a democratic Iraq. The task is to crush those enemies without making life impossible for those who fundamentally want what we want. …

Most important, leadership in the U.S. is for once cool and resolved. This week I spoke with leading Democrats and Republicans and found a virtual consensus. We're going to keep the June 30 handover deadline. We're going to raise troop levels if necessary. We're going to wait for the holy period to end and crush Sadr. As Joe Lieberman put it, a military offensive will alienate Iraqis, but "the greater risk is [Sadr] will grow into something malevolent." As Charles Hill, the legendary foreign service officer who now teaches at Yale, observed, "I've been pleasantly surprised by the boldness and resolve."
Support our Iraqi friends so they will arrest Sadr, try him, and let him rot in an Iraqi prison.
And aim for the June 30 transition without flinching.
“Chinese Air Power” (Posted April 10, 2004)
The Chinese are improving their ability to control the skies over the Taiwan Strait. Chinese ability to invade is improving even as Taiwanese basic training is being eased. From Strategypage:
April 6, 2004: Taiwanese politicians are beginning to complain about the declining state of military training. Young men are now more prone to complain of the rigors of military training, and parents have more frequently complained to politicians. As a result, basic training has been made "more bearable" and readiness in many combat units has declined. American military observers have been complaining to senior Taiwanese commanders, and now it's become a political issue. One thing spurring this debate is the growing military power of China. By the end of this year, China is expected to have over 200 Russian Su-27 class warplanes in service. The various versions of the Su-27 (like the Su-30) are roughly equivalent to the American F-15. China is allowing its pilots to fly more hours a month and is training more air force maintenance personnel (so that the Su-27s can be used more intensively.)  Taiwan military planners see China having sufficient military power to have a chance at successfully conquering Taiwan as early as 2006. In response, Taiwan is buying new early warning radars and anti-aircraft weapons. Taiwan has only some 330 modern fighters and is planning to upgrade them soon.
So, as early as 2006 the Chinese will have better air power. Intensive training of pilots and ground personnel looks like gearing up for action. Coupled with rapid Chinese improvements in amphibious capabilities (described as a “crash” building program), the possibility that China’s first aircraft carrier will be ready by 2006—with two more to follow quickly, and the fact that at best Taiwan’s defenses will only start to improve by the end of the decade, and we have a serious window of opportunity for the Chinese to take Taiwan in the latter half of this decade. The Peking Olympics are scheduled to be held in 2008.
I’ve said it before, and I’ll repeat myself here, but 2008 right before the Olympics would be a great time for the Chinese to launch a surprise offensive to capture Taiwan. The Chinese say they want Taiwan back more than anything else and they are building military capability to achieve that goal. We need to believe the Chinese when they say they want Taiwan and we need to notice their military preparations to carry out that objective.
And by all means, move more forces to the Pacific and instill a sense of urgency in the Taiwanese who seem oblivious to the threat even as they hint at independence which are fighting words to Peking.
“European Allies” (Posted April 9, 2004)
Sometimes I am frustrated the Europeans don’t seem to feel the urgency of the war on terror. Sure, they help us in the quiet war on cells and funding, but when it comes to operations designed to break the Islamists and keep them from getting weapons that can be provided by hostile states (like Iraq or North Korea or Iran), or even just publicly expressing support, they are lagging in their efforts.
Yet their holding back is not protecting them. The war on terror may be focused on Europe as the terrorists look to attack targets there (via Donald Sensing):
MADRID Suspicions hardened Monday that Europe has become the main target of Islamist terrorists in the Western world as a letter signed by Al Qaeda's European branch promised to turn Spain into "an inferno" and French special forces rounded up more than a dozen suspected members of a group with ties to the network.

"Europe is now clearly in the spotlight of terrorism," said Daniel Keohane, a security and defense expert at the Center for European Reform in London who says it is highly probable that Al Qaeda was behind the Madrid bombing. "It is the greatest terrorist threat the Continent has ever faced."
I thought that refusing to get involved in Iraq was supposed to shield Europeans from the wrath of the Islamists. Apparently not.
In a related calculation, the Turks refused to participate in the Iraq War or even to let us attack Iraq from Turkish territory, in order to get into the EU. The French had reportedly threatened that Turkey would not be admitted to the EU for a generation if the Turks cooperated with us. So, the Turks forfeited an overly generous aid package that we offered and threw in their lot with the Euros. And Turkey’s reward is now apparent:
Foreign Minister Michel Barnier told parliament Wednesday that France would oppose Turkey's entry into the European Union "under current circumstances."
“Current circumstances” of course meaning “Turkey is filled with Moslems.”
Hey, it happens. The Turks trusted the French. They F’d up. Join the club. Or not, actually.
But back to the original point. The Europeans are not joining up like I’d expect allies to do. Spain’s recent apparent defection over Iraq especially hurts. And it isn’t like their leaving Iraq will protect them.
Yet it is hard for me to maintain anger. They are sovereign. And they help us when they can and when they think they share the danger. Is this maddening? Yes. But I imagine the French and British would have liked our help from 1914 to 1917 and from 1939 to 1941. In each war, domestic considerations of what was in our interest and what we could contribute kept us from opposing what the Europeans felt was an obvious danger. We came around in time. I trust that in time our allies will come around, too.
Heck, I’d be happy if more of my fellow citizens felt we are at war.
And until our friends and allies do come around, I will not gloat when they suffer losses to the new Islamist focus on Europe. I sent my condolences to the Spanish embassy after 11 M. Today, I received the short form letter the embassy wrote back:
Thank you very much for your kind message and support during this difficult time.

The American People have shown their compassion and feelings of solidarity toward those who have suffered he horror of the March 11 terrorist attacks. The citizens of Spain and this Embassy thank you for your generosity.
Even when we think the Europeans  are idiots for refusing to fight as hard as we’d like them too, their suffering should not ever be a reason to gloat. Our compassion and solidarity will be more effective than our scorn.
This will be a long war, remember. The Coalition of the Willing will change over time as nations enter and leave based on their needs. In the end, we will win. Of that I am certain.
“Sunni-Shia Alliance?” (Posted April 7, 2004)
NPR today seemed to be in a tizzy of describing a widening Sunni-Shia uprising. I actually had to switch it off this morning driving to work.
A Sunni-Shia alliance idea is far-fetched. Sadr and the Baathists are allying for their own purposes and not for a grand resistance between the branches of Islam. The Sunnis know they need the Shias to revolt if the Sunnis are to have a chance at getting the US out and regaining control of Iraq. The Sunnis would turn on the Shias in a New York minute, as the saying goes, if they did drive us out.
Sadr is allying with Sunnis because Shias won’t help him in sufficient numbers. If Shias would help him, he’d rely on Shia help.
And I sincerely doubt that Shias generally would risk an alliance with the Sunnis even if they wanted us out. The Shias have lost out to the Sunnis for four centuries despite outnumbering the Sunnis by a good margin. Why ally with them to fight us when all they have to do is wait until June 30 and they’ll begin to get power through the ballot box?
But more important for our purposes, we should advertise the Sunni-Sadr link! Sunnis killed the elder Sadr and now the good-for-nothing thug son would ally with them. The nutjob son would betray the memory of his father and his own Shia people and risk Sunni domination for another four centuries.
Yeah, that’s what I’d be spreading were I god of the CPA.
“Horn of Africa Preparations?” (Posted April 6, 2004)
Another gem from Strategypage:
The CJTF-HOA musters between 1,300 and 1,600 task force personnel based at the 88-acre Camp Lemonier, a former French Foreign Legion post in Djibouti. The 2nd Marine Regiment's K Company, 3rd Battalion and the Army's 'Old Guard' 3rd Infantry Regiment's B Company (usually performing ceremonial duties in Washington DC) are currently providing force protection at Lemonier. 

B Company was recently trained by the Marines in Tactical Recovery of Aircraft and Personnel (TRAP) tactics, which prepares the unit's three platoons for fast-paced insertion and exertion of troops to retrieve assets in hostile situations.
Although the article describes the Horn mission as a “hearts and minds” oriented mission, training B company in TRAP seems significant to me. Are we expecting lots of helicopters and aircraft to be criss-crossing the region soon? In hostile situations?
I still expect some offensive action in the Horn region before summer begins.
Otherwise, why train a unit in TRAP when it is mainly there to protect the base?
“Counter-Attack or Desperation?” (Posted April 6, 2004)
First of all, relax, this isn’t the Sepoy Mutiny. I hate to see our troops taking casualties like this but our enemies have simply counter-attacked. They do that. I wish the Marines the best in this battle. They are getting it rough right out of the gates in their return to Iraq. I wish they had Bradleys to carry their riflemen instead of their flimsy and huge AAVs that I see in photographs.
Second, it is important to see the Sadr revolt as a separate event from the Sunni counter-attack in Fallujah and Ramadi.
Sadr’s revolt is a desperate attempt to change the rules of a game he was losing. He wasn’t getting anywhere with threats and the Shias weren’t listening to him. He took money from foreigners and tried to lead the poor in revolt. Oh, and although I thought he was probably not a terrorist yet, I am wrong on that count:
Sadr was long suspected of using violence, and murder, against opponents. A months long investigation last year, using Iraqi police and detective, uncovered the details of Sadrs use of death squads and terrorism against civilians, clerics and government officials who opposed him. In the last week, members of these death squads were arrested, and this apparently pushed Sadr to open rebellion.
So I expect Sadr will lose big despite all the attention he is getting in the press. I am troubled we didn’t nail him earlier, but as long as he is painting a target on his chest now, we better not miss this chance to get him off the streets for good. And follow up in the areas we put down the Sadr revolt with civil affairs guys. Spread money around. Nobody likes having their neighborhoods torn up. Otherwise, resentment will build up.
Unfortunately, Sadr’s gamble coincides with a far more serious event: the crackdown on the Baathists in Fallujah and the attacks by Baathists against our forces in Ramadi, probably in support of the Fallujah fight:
Reports from Ramadi, near Fallujah, said dozens of Iraqis attacked a Marine position near the governor's palace, a senior defense official said from Washington. "A significant number" of Marines were killed, and initial reports indicate it may be up to a dozen, said the official, speaking on condition of anonymity.

Heavy casualties were inflicted on the insurgents as well, officials said. It was not immediately known who the attackers were, nor whether the attack was related to fighting under way in nearby Fallujah.

Depending on the number of Ramadi deaths, Tuesday's casualties could have brought the the three-day total as high as about 30 Americans and more than 130 Iraqis killed in the fighting.

On the Fallujah front, Marines drove into the center of the Sunni city in heavy fighting before pulling back before nightfall. The assault had been promised after the brutal killings and mutilations of four American civilians there last week. Hospital officials said eight Iraqis died Tuesday and 20 were wounded, including women and children.

Marines waged a fierce battle for hours Tuesday with gunmen holed up in a residential neighborhood of Fallujah. The military used a deadly AC-130 gunship to lay down a barrage of fire against guerrillas, and commanders said Marines were holding an area several blocks deep inside the city. At least two Marines were wounded.
I’ve always worried most about the former regime elements. The foreign Islamists are easier to spot and can unite Iraqis against a foreign threat to their future. The Baathist guys have nowhere to go, however, so I always believed they were the center of gravity for our pacification campaign. During the big unit drive on Baghdad, I kept expecting a large heavy armor force to head through the Ramadi Gap to hit Baghdad from the west and roll through Saddamite strongholds there. Sadly, the area remained untouched and now the Baathist holdouts are striking back from these areas. The population in the Sunni triangle is either sympathetic to the Baathists or too scared to help us enough to run them down fast enough.
Though we are winning the post-war fight overall, enemies do refuse to go along with the other side’s timetables for victory. I’ll not try to gloss this over since I am disappointed that we failed to lock down these two towns enough to prevent Baathists from massing enough to do the damage they are doing. It hurts to see our people dying like this now. Nonetheless, it is also true that the Baathists will be more vulnerable as they decide to fight. Perhaps they were fooled into thinking Sadr’s revolt represents a Shia uprising that the Sunnis must now join. In any case, despite the casualties, we can’t shrink from piling on them and killing as many as we can while they stand up and fight. Doing that will result in lower casualties in the long run.
Wars ebb and flow before the final victory is achieved. Enemies adapt or counter-attack. And forget about Sadr’s ploy. It will fail. The Sunni gambit is the one to watch. It will be awhile before we know whether this is a desperate attempt to drive us out before June 30 (or prevent us from turning over power to the Shias and Kurds on that date) or a real counter-attack that represents hidden strength.
I’m hoping for the former. I think we have the edge in this war by a long shot. But a dedicated, well-armed and financed insurgency—even in relatively small numbers—could go on for longer than I expected them to last after Baghdad fell so easily. All the more reason to get the Iraqi security forces up and running so they can carry the burden. They won’t be ready June 30, but that date must stand. Our enemies fear it for a reason and that is why they fight so hard now.
“Meanwhile in the War on Terror” (Posted April 5, 2004)
We have not been so distracted by crushing Saddam and his nuclear ambitions that we couldn’t decimate al Qaeda, according to our State Department:
A new cadre of untested Islamic militants is emerging to take the place of leaders in Osama bin Laden's al Qaeda network, which is now under "catastrophic stress" as a result of international operations over the past 30 months, the senior State Department counterterrorism official told a House International Relations subcommittee yesterday.

At least 70 percent of al Qaeda's senior leadership has been detained or killed since the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks triggered a worldwide offensive against the network, and the remaining 30 percent is largely on the run, State Department counterterrorism coordinator J. Cofer Black testified. The movement has been "deeply wounded" by the elimination or arrest of more than 3,400 lower-level members and allies, forcing it "to evolve in ways not entirely by its own choosing," he said.
Fancy that, our allies have not been too offended by our actions in Iraq to protect ourselves! They even cooperate with us in “international operations” waging a “worldwide offensive.” Who’d have thought this would happen?
And in other news, the Spanish now find that the Islamists are also mad about Spain helping us in Afghanistan. The Islamists fail to understand the nuance of understanding that the Afghan campaign is now considered appropriate (but not in 2001, recall) while Iraq is inappropriate. Spain’s offer to double their small Afghan contingent as they pull out of Iraq has just annoyed the Islamists more and they demand a withdrawal from Iraq and Afghanistan:
"If these demands are not met, we will declare war on you and ... convert your country into an inferno and your blood will flow like rivers," the letter said.
Having run once, the Islamists have amazingly come to the conclusion that the Spanish will run again. Having compelled one retreat, they want another. Who’d have imagined that?
It all comes down to the rivers of our blood. That’s really all they want.
“Support Friends. Defeat Enemies.” (Posted April 5, 2004)
It really comes down to this in Iraq and although I’ve thought many of the anti-war side’s complaints about the war and occupation have been off the mark, one thing that I have been frustrated with is our refusal to support our friends and marginalize or defeat our enemies:
We should not be more willing to help our adversaries than our friends. Democracy is about not only elections, but also about tolerance, compromise and liberty. Twenty-five years ago, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, leader of the Islamic Revolution in Iran, declared "the first day of God's government." In a rushed referendum supervised by armed vigilantes, Iranians voted for theocracy. For a quarter century, they have struggled to undo their mistake. It would be a betrayal of Bush's vision as well as 24 million Iraqis if we replicate it in Iraq.
We treat every group like peaceful rival factions of the League of Women Voters instead of recognizing that we’ve got some criminal gangs mixed in too. We fail to recognize that some factions want rule of law and some want mob rule. We bone headedly fail to support our friends.
Finally, at least, we are going after Sadr and his militia:
U.S. administrators in Iraq declared a radical Shiite cleric an "outlaw" Monday and announced a warrant for his arrest, heightening a confrontation after battles between his supporters and coalition troops killed at least 52 Iraqis and nine coalition troops, including eight Americans.
About bloody time. The arrest warrant was issued months ago by an Iraqi judge. Why we’ve waited this long I don’t know. It does help that he is wanted for murdering a Shia cleric in April 2003. That’s got to undermine is Shia solidarity schtick.
His militia of course blame us for the fighting on Sunday. We started it, they say, when they were just protesting peacefully:
A coordinated Shiite militia uprising against the American-led occupation rippled across Iraq on Sunday, reaching into Baghdad and the sprawling Shiite slum of Sadr City on the capital's outskirts and roiling the holy city of Najaf and at least two other cities in southern Iraq.
Darned lucky for them they remembered to pack their RPGs and AKs along with the slogan banners, eh? Otherwise they’d have been defenseless. I don’t think Sadr can win this battle—too many Shias don’t like him—but we let him get strong enough to challenge us. I’m mad that we treated him with kid gloves since Baghdad fell. We didn’t gain his good will with that policy. We just allowed him to build a militia that has battled us and led to dead soldiers. And that is something to remember. Our occupation didn’t drive Shias to revolt. This group has been hostile since day one. They may not have wanted Saddam’s boot on their neck, but only because they wanted to wear the boots and do the stomping.
Support our friends—with money, access to the government, and seats at the table. Defeat our enemies—by marginalizing them politically and if they fight us, ruthlessly crush them.
“Deterring What Islamists Want” (Posted April 4, 2004)
Sadr may not be a terrorist—yet—but he is not the right type to wield power in Iraq. His supporters are rioting, causing deaths. We can’t let his thuggish tactics scare us from swatting him down:
"For the past 11 months, Iraq has been on the path to democracy and freedom -- freedom of speech, freedom of assembly and freedom of the press," Bremer said. "Those freedoms must be exercised peacefully. This morning, a group of people in Najaf have crossed the line and moved to violence. . . . This will not be tolerated by the coalition, this will not be tolerated by the Iraqi people, and this will not be tolerated by the Iraqi security forces."
I’m not talking about a massacre here, just contain his supporters and if they initiate violence, target those with guns or those doing the attacking. The protesters should be contained at the lowest level of violence possible. Defend with lethal violence only targets worthy of defending. That is, if they want to torch a 7-11, it isn’t worth killing one of them. If they try to torch a police station, then defend it. That’s how the National Guard taught me crowd control. Let them blow off steam—it should be legal to protest. Just arrest those who are violent and if they make a street battle of it over a worthwhile target, hit the gun wielders with focused lethal violence.
Violence should not lead to victories in a new Iraq. Rule of law—not rule of the mob.
And since I wrote the above, we lost 7 dead fighting Sadr’s people who used military weapons to attack Iraqi police stations. Sadr is not just an opposition leader—he’s a combatant with his own militia and must be defeated. We’ve treated him with kid gloves for too long.
Incidents like this are tough. Seven of our soldiers dead all at once. And the urge to strike back is high. But we have to fight smart. Don’t drive friendly people neutral and neutral people hostile by flailing about and killing innocents. Yet doing nothing only emboldens Sadr. And its effects can go wider, too. Neutral people can go hostile by seeing our weakness. And the friendly can go neutral if they see us unwilling to confront our enemies. We have to go after Sadr and his organization. Quietly. But hard. A summer in Gitmo might be just what Sadr needs. And some jail time for his underlings. And US snipers for his arms-toting militiamen.
“What the Islamists Want” (Posted April 4, 2004)
The Spanish have not been able to surrender fast enough as the terrorists up their goals in the face of a retreating Madrid government. (Tim Blair via Instapundit)
The terrorists seem to know something that I’ve harped on—when you have an enemy beaten, pursue them until they are utterly destroyed and defeated. Never ever let them up off the mat once they are down.
Let’s see, the Islamists have a choice between hitting America—which will reach around the globe to destroy them in whatever remote mountain they choose to hide on; or, they can hit a country like Spain that will quickly offer terms if you’ll just please stop.
The Spanish are in for a hard summer if it’s a race between their appeasing and their enemies’ murderous anger.
“Deterrence” (Posted April 4, 2004)
The amazing debate that will not die continues. I’m not talking about any particular article or anything, just the mind boggling debate that I see in many places and contexts over whether to invade Iraq that those opposed to the war continue to wage with nearly unabated zeal. One would think that capturing Baghdad would kind of end that but it has not.
What gets me is the periodic, “by invading Iraq we are distracted from the real threats of Iran and North Korea;” followed by the “we could have deterred a nuclear attack on us instead of invading.”
First of all, what do those who say we should have dealt with Iran or North Korea before Iraq actually mean considering they are also the ones who say deterrence should work just fine? That’s what always really got me. I knew darned well that if our government had said fine, let’s invade North Korea or Iran quickly while Iraq is still in its far-from-imminent-threat stage, that as sure as I know anything, the NK- or Iran-firsters would have balked and said we should not invade.
So what could “dealing with” these greater threats meant? I know, in an ideal world of the hard left that would mean showering these states with money, apologies, and “peaceful” nuclear technology (we are the only nation not to be trusted with nuclear power or weapons, apparently), but let’s assume that this surrender policy is off the table for now.
Inevitably, dealing with North Korea or Iran first in the left’s minds would mean that we simply deter them. Ignoring that dealing with Iraq second after any other first target was really just arguing for not doing anything about Iraq, let’s look at the logic of deterrence as the left advocates.
The anti-war left has said that they are in favor of it (now that the Cold War is over, of course) rather than using our military to prevent nuclear strikes on our homeland. Groups like the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace have argued we could deter and that if deterrence failed, we would have retaliation to ball back on. My God, the very idea of missile defense is horrifying to the neo deterrence crowd. But that’s another rant.
First of all, as people who hated deterrence during the Cold War, preferring to—in its extreme variations—totally disarm unilaterally to show a good example (or just partially disarm for the mainstream left), their conversion to the value of deterrence is not comforting. I’m a little suspicious you might say.
Second, assuming that their conversion is real, their position accepts that we should allow our looniest enemies to gain the means to strike us with nuclear weapons. Our strategy of going after known enemies to prevent them from getting nukes is to be tossed out in favor of a strategy that assumes they love life as much as we do, and that they are in fact deterrable. We must assume that nuclear-armed Islamist enemies don’t believe that we are too weak to respond in kind and don’t believe we would collapse if struck with a nuclear weapon. This deterrence strategy assumes that Islamists don’t believe that losing 10% or even 90% of the Moslem community (which is so filled with the unpure anyway that maybe they think Islam can use a good “cleansing”) is a good price to pay for destroying the power of the infidels. Sadly, by counting on deterrence rather than prevention, we increase the odds that we will face a nuclear attack by an enemy that is not deterred by our nuclear arsenal because they think us weak, or think Allah will bless them with our destruction, or whatever. A bunch of mad people without nukes are obviously less likely to nuke us than a less-mad crowd with nukes.
But let’s go on with the logic of enforcing deterrence. If we are struck with a nuclear weapon, the left’s love of deterrence has led many of them to say we would retaliate in kind if deterrence failed. That has always kind of floored me. I mean, they think it is morally superior to destroy an enemy with a nuclear device after we’ve been hit with one rather than wage non-nuclear war to stop a nut case from getting that bomb? But aside from that, would the neo deterrence left really advocate using a nuclear weapon in response to a nuclear attack on us?
The general “retaliate” mantra isn’t enough. Against whom would they retaliate? Let’s assume we know who did it—or who supplied the nuke. Would we reply by destroying a city in the enemy state? Would we destroy a major military unit or base of the offending state? I have to say that even I would shudder at the idea of slaughtering a hundred thousand or a million civilians in an enemy state to reply to the loss of tens of thousands of our people. Many of those people would be enemies of that state anyway and so we’d be killing opponents of the regime. I would not want to just slaughter civilians even to maintain deterrence.
But we would have to reply. And with nukes. A robust conventional JDAM campaign would not be enough. Even overthrowing the guilty regime after we were nuked would not maintain deterrence. We’d have to use nukes and kill tens of thousands, too. A symbolic detonation in a remote area would just symbolize our weakness. So we’d need to target the capital palace with very small penetrating nukes to destroy the seat of government and those directly responsible without killing too many civilians and then send several nukes against major pillars of the regime’s loyal military. This to kill numbers and to make sure the deaths accomplished something like weakening the regime and not just retaliation.
Then, we’d also have to make sure the government was overthrown so it wouldn’t try to come back at us again when it gets more nukes.
But the basic point is that to defend the idea that we can deter future nuclear strikes on us, we’d have to use nukes if we faced an enemy that was not deterred the first time. And that is the problem with the anti-war side’s professed love of deterrence. I just don’t believe them.
I don’t think the neo deterrence left would accept that we must retaliate with nuclear weapons under any circumstances up to and including the loss of multiple American cities to nuclear attack. In the end, they think we face mirror images of ourselves who will of course never use nuclear weapons. They don’t really believe they’d ever have to support retaliation.
Never mind that some mullahs in Iran have said they’d gladly accept millions of dead Moslems to destroy Israel. Never mind that our conventional military power did not deter bin Laden from 9-11. Nor did it deter Saddam in 1990. Nor did Israel’s nukes deter Saddam from launching missiles against Israel in 1991. Fear of our power did not deter Saddam from trying to kill Bush 41 in 1993. And fear of our power did not deter Saddam from preparing to invade Kuwait again in 1996 only to back off when we deployed our troops to Kuwait in response (ah, you say, isn’t that proof of deterrence? No. Brandishing our troops should not have been necessary to deter. Our power existed whether in Fort Hood or on the Kuwait border. All we did is prove to Saddam that we would only reply ineffectively to his threats and not take the excuse to invade and finish him off. Conventional deterrence was probably weakened that year).
No, the neo deterrence left would argue that enough had died already. Why lower ourselves to revenge? Why kill innocents separate from the regime. Won’t the dreaded cycle of violence continue? What did we do to provoke this anyway? Shouldn’t we give even larger tribute to the enemy as sincere shows of our sorrow? And how sure are we really that we know for sure who did it? Would we kill thousands because we think we know who did it? Let’s investigate for a few years…
Really, the left’s advocacy of deterrence is just a defensible alternative to preemption for the left as long as the left never has to contemplate defending deterrence. Once we fall back to deterrence, the left would again retreat to doing nothing. The only objective is to prevent a more forceful alternative. They just want to deter the US.
Ok, I think I started rambling about four paragraphs ago. You get my drift. Time to just stop.
“What Causes Islamist Terrorism” (Posted April 3, 2004)
Via Andrew Sullivan, this lovely piece of work about Islamists ranting about their grievances and their determination to kill us. One lovely “spiritual leader” in Britain said:
"They warned them in New York - stop the terrorism in Afghanistan and Iraq. They did not listen. They gave them bloodshed in New York. Now Tony Blair has been warned."
To all those who say our invasion of Afghanistan or Iraq caused Islamists to hate us, I offer the above statement. Reminder: The bloodshed in New York took place in September 2001. The Taliban fell in December 2001. Baghdad fell in April 2003.
Yet the historically challenged nutball thinks the latter two caused the former.
So what do we do to appease them? Remind me again, please.
Now that some are questioning the UN’s responsibility for standing by during the 1994 Rwanda genocide:
A fire swept through an evidence room at the U.N. tribunal for Rwanda on Friday, destroying computers and folders but no key documents, a tribunal spokesman said.
Tragic accident, I’m sure. And good luck that the fire didn’t touch any key documents—just the worthless ones.
“Creating Islamists” (Posted April 3, 2004)
So by invading Iraq we’ve created Islamists? That’s a common charge anyway.
Here’s a good article refuting that:
The afterword of Daniel Benjamin and Steven Simon's The Age of Sacred Terror, which is easily the best book about the rise of bin Ladenism and the Clinton administration's response to it, tells us the following: "U.S. officials have spoken of 'tens of thousands' of individuals who were trained in the camps of Afghanistan, and Germany's intelligence chief put the number at seventy thousand, though many were trained as soldiers to fight alongside the Taliban, not as terrorists. Still the number of operatives at large is probably multiples greater than that on any other terrorist group in memory."

Benjamin and Simon were once the director and senior director for counterterrorism in the Clinton administration's National Security Council, and they, too, are highly critical of the Bush administration. I strongly suspect the numbers above are grossly exaggerated. When I visited Ahmed Shah Massoud, the legendary Tajik leader of the Northern Alliance, in the fall of 1999, he told me that he was then facing around 700 Arab Afghans. This figure fluctuated a bit, perhaps, but the Taliban never deployed more than 1,000 Arab Afghans against him.

But, for the sake of argument, let's accept the numbers suggested by Benjamin and Simon. In other words, during the eight years of Bill Clinton's presidency, when the United States studiously avoided invading Iraq, the number of Islamic holy warriors fully formed in the Afghan training camps skyrocketed. Let us recall these were the glory years of the Israeli-Palestinian peace process, when the president often worked night and day to bring conciliation and settlement to the two sides. These were the years, too, when the Americans went to the rescue of the Bosnian Muslims. And these were the times when President Clinton tried to make nice-nice with President Mohammad Khatami of Iran (of course, Sunni Muslim holy warriors might not care for this too much; but since bin Laden knew he hadn't blown up the American barracks at Khobar Towers in 1996, and since his contacts inside the Saudi royal family were pretty good, he might have drawn the right conclusion when the Clinton administration didn't retaliate against the real perpetrator of the Khobar bombing, the regime in Tehran--to wit, Clinton wasn't tough).

So, during the best of years--or at least, according to Clarke and Kerry, vastly better years than what followed--al Qaeda grew from scratch to an umbrella organization, drawing into its apocalyptic designs holy warriors from the Middle East, America, Europe, Africa, Latin America, and the Orient. These were the years when bin Laden promised the faithful that they, not the Americans, were the "stronger horse."

And now, according to the "realists" and antiwar Democrats, the Bush administration has made things worse. It's theoretically possible, of course. It's possible the Clinton years were less energizing to the enemy than the Bush years, when the Taliban were destroyed, bin Laden was put to chase, and al Qaeda as an organization was badly battered. It is possible that America's invasion and (temporary) occupation of Iraq will galvanize holy warriors as did the first Gulf War for an earlier generation. Professor Bernard Lewis's textual analysis showing that bin Laden used the first Gulf War as a clarion call for holy war is undeniable. (And was not the first Gulf War worth angering Islamic militants?)
I quote at length because I really do get tired of the repeated claim that by fighting against Islamists and destroying those who the Islamists hold out as heroes defying America, that we create terrorists. It truly is a philosophy of surrender. If we don’t fight, they kill us. If we fight, they kill us. No matter what we do, whether rescuing Kuwait or Iraq, or Bosnian, Somali, or Kosovo Moslems, the Islamists want to kill us. It should be abundantly clear that even surrendering and converting en-masse to Islam would not be enough to placate our enemies since the Islamists have made it clear that not even many Moslems are pure enough for their taste.
Also note that the Persian Gulf War pissed them off. This 1991 war of the exemplary coalition and UN approval. The war with French participation (on our side). The war that liberated conquered Moslems from an invader that stripped the country of valuables like bank robbers on a heist. Even this war made the Islamists mad.
One has to ask, what doesn’t make the Islamists mad at us? And another question must be asked, why should we care?
Kill them. Arrest them. Doesn’t much matter to me. Just take the fight to them. And don’t let up.
“Most Interesting” (Posted April 2, 2004)
So, if you have a UN-sanctioned coalition to defeat a ruthless dictator all will be well. Legitimacy will be assured. That’s what we are told these days.
Consider this woman in South Korea who recently passed away:
The couple were among thousands of leftist farmers who believed in North Korea's promised "liberation" from landlords and took up arms in Chiri's thick forests and jagged ravines. They kept fighting, long after North Korean troops retreated and even after the Korean War ended in 1953 with an uneasy truce.

Her husband died in battle in 1952. By 1955, most of the Chiri Mountain guerrillas had been killed or surrendered, but Chung and others continued raiding police stations and villages, even though they had no communication with North Korea.

Chung's life on the run ended in a shootout with police on Nov. 12, 1963. "Disoriented communist bandit caught!" read headlines at the time. Chung was wounded in the gunbattle and lost her right leg.

With her arrest, South Korea finally declared an end to drawn-out operations against peasant "partisans" who fought the pro-U.S. government in the South.
Imagine that, the war ended in 1953 but it wasn’t until two years later that most of the insurgents had been killed or captured. And it took ten years before the government could finally say the insurgents were gone. And this in a country that was saved by a UN-authorized coalition and that had UN troops in the country all that time. Sure, they were US troops after the war, but they had the authority of the UN. And a point to remember is that the South Koreans did the fighting. While US forces sat in their bases. I guess the insurgents weren’t too impressed with the legitimacy provided by the UN.
The passage of time makes all our past accomplishments seem easy and preordained—in contrast to the present messy uncertainty. Post-World War II Europe and Japan were easy from our vantage point. We forget about the chaos in Germany and the Ukrainian insurgents who fought into the 1950s against the Soviets. Heck, the Spanish-American War was a “splendid little war” as long as you forget the years we fought Filipino insurgents after the war. Lots of history looks written in concrete until you remember the details and uncertainties of the day. Even the Korean War seems easy and straightforward from today.
I did not know this detail.
Sometimes I think that the post-war in Iraq looks so bad to some is only by comparing it to the ease of conquering Iraq in the large-scale combat portion of the fighting. Normally, several hundred dead in policing after the war to run down diehards would be insignificant compared to the losses in the war itself. Only the fact that the 3-week conquest was a cake walk leads us to moan over the post-war.
One day Iraq will look easy. Or it will, if we don’t lose our nerve.
Fallujah—the Next Day” (Posted April 1, 2004)
Peters is good. I may disagree with his continued emphasis on complaining about our troops levels. While true in the short run after the fall of Baghdad, it was true only because we expected defecting Iraqis to make up the numbers by staying at their posts. When that didn’t happen, it was really too late to rush troops in. Had we done so, where would the troops for the troop rotation have come from? We’d be talking a much larger National Guard rotation.
In time, we rebuilt Iraqi security forces and the numbers looked just fine to me according to my back of the envelope calculations.
But Peters emphasizes what I noted about our failure to crack down on Fallujah:
Fifth (and related), when the cities of the Sunni Triangle, such as Fallujah, Ramadi or Tikrit, engaged in acts of terror, we needed to make an example of one of them to demonstrate our power and resolve to the others.
He also notes that the men and boys who committed atrocities against our dead had finally found American targets they could take on with some confidence of victory:
Confident enemies do not drag bodies through the streets and mutilate corpses. The grim display in Fallujah was a symbol of weakness, not a sign of strength.
Kid gloves where we can. Most Iraqis deserve our help, despite the widely televised images of localized rage.
Iron fist where we must. Delenda est Fallujah.
“I Aspire to Rants Like This” (Posted April 1, 2004)
Bravo. I stand in awe.
Just go read Lileks. The latter part.
Amazing what does and does not anger the world, eh?
“Axis of El Vil Cooperation” (Posted April 1, 2004)
A good Strategypage description of the Cuban-Venezuelan alliance:
Three years ago, Chavez made a deal with Cuba to supply cut rate oil (worth half a billion dollars a year at market rates.) Cuba paid for little of the oil, now owes nearly $800 million and is not expected to ever pay the debt (mainly because Cuba simply hasn't got the cash.) In addition to the medical brigade, Cuba has sent military, police, political and media advisors to help Chavez out. Who says dictators (even elected ones) don't have friends?
Oh, we know that dictators have friends. Just look to Hollywood or college faculty rooms. You just have to be the right kind of dictator.
Of special note is the description of the so-called medical brigades. Yes, they do provide medicine, but with political minders well represented in the brigades, the purpose is to promote revolutionary communist zeal in the host country.