Monday, November 01, 2004

November 2004 Posts Recovered from The Internet Archives

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

"National Security Affairs Page is Moving" (Posted November 30, 2004)
Beginning December 1, 2004, The Dignified Rant will be partially moving to a new home at blogspot. I'm starting to run out of space at The Dignified Rant on Yahoo! Geocities and I have a lot of things I want to do there. Home Front, Landfill, and List of Annoying Things will remain at the Y!G site, along with archives of national security posts from July 2002 until November 2004. I will keep a National Security Affairs section there for special projects that aren't really blogging. This re-oriented site will be known as "The Dignified Rant: Home Edition." I still have a third of my storage space left and I plan to use it.
For those of you who read the national security posts, I've been dual posting on the new and existing sites since November 26th as a transition aid. Starting December 1st I will blog on national security affairs at the new The Dignified Rant site exclusively. I hope you'll visit both sites in the future.
And please have patience as I fix links on the old site and text to reflect the new mission of The Dignified Rant: Home Edition.
"Who Are They Deterring?" (Posted November 30, 2004)
I've read some articles that assume Iran will get nuclear weapons and figure that we'll have to live with it. These authors note that Iranian desire for nuclear weapons pre-dates the Islamic Republic and that Iran has reason to want nukes to deter foreign aggression.
Setting aside the easy assumption by these authors that Iran is lying when officials deny they want nukes and that their nuclear programs are for energy and economic reasons only, I want to know just who they are deterring?
America, the so-called Great Satan? Since Iranian nuclear desires go back to the Shah's day, this can't be the nationalistic reason for wanting nuclear weapons. We were friends back then and focused on the Soviet Union. Indeed, our Rapid Deployment Force was conceived of as a means of deterring and defeating if necessary a Soviet invasion of Iran. More on the US later.
Well what about the Soviet Union? True, back in the day they were a threat. But that little implosion of the Soviet Union in 1991 sent that threat to the dustbin of history. The Russian army is a shadow of its former Soviet glories and Russia is rather a distance from Iran now, their border having receded a good distance.
Their hereditary and recent enemy Iraq? Well, we seem to have taken care of that nuclear or chemical threat. And given Iran's much larger size and historical strength, Iran would be far better off rejoining the international community so they can buy better conventional arms. And since Iraq will not be a conventional threat to Iran for a good decade or more (assuming we don't discourage Iraq from fighting Iran), Iran's nuclear path to security from Iraq makes no sense at all.
What about Turkey? No Turkish nukes and their common border is not an invasion route.
Pakistan? Don't they have an "Islamic" bomb? Why would they be a threat?
Afghanistan? Get real. Even with Americans there, this is no threat.
The former Soviet republics to the north? Hahahahaha. Not a threat.
Well what about Israel? Iran and Israel used to be friendly before the Islamic revolution. And Israel isn't in any position to invade Iran nor has Israel used its nuclear advantage to nuke Iran while Iran is helpless. And there is the inconvenient fact that some Iranians spout off about nuking Israel and taking a counter-strike for the Islamic team. That surely isn't a motivation based on deterrence.
I suppose there is Saudi Arabia and the rest of the Gulf States. Please. They are pygmies militarily. Maybe if Riyadh went nuclear one could argue that Shia Iran fears Sunni Saudi Arabia but we aren't there (thank goodness).
So back to America. If we were not a threat to Iran when we were allies and Iran was pursuing nukes and if we never invaded or nuked Iran in the period of mullah hostility while we've maintained a nuclear arsenal sufficient to level Iran without really straining ourselves, why would Iran think we are about to invade and need to be deterred? Could it be that Iranian behavior has changed for the worst and that their crazy rhetoric and support for the vilest of terrorists is prodding us to take action?
So, if Iran was not a threat to us, we would not be hostile to Iran, and Iran could go back to the time when they did not need to deter a friendly America. With this causal relationship established between Iranian hostility to America and support for terrorism, and America's declaration of Iran as a member of the Axis of Evil, what makes more sense, figuring out how we can alter our behavior or how to alter their behavior? Since we certainly have tried to reach agreement with the mullahs ever since President Carter, how likely is it that we can change sufficiently to make Iran think they don't need nukes?
If we can help along a regime change based on real opposition to the mullahs, a new Iran will not see a threat from America and they may well be convinced that they do not need a costly nuclear weapons or energy program. And even if a democratic rational Iran wants nuclear programs, without the hostility of the mullahs to propel them it won't be a terrifying development.
Regime change in Tehran: 2005.
"Great Moments in the Blindingly Obvious (Pt. 7)" (Posted November 30, 2004)
"Iran Says Nuclear Freeze Won't Last Long"
When the Iranians proclaim the obvious why do we believe them at all? When the mullahs quibble over details indicating what they really want, why aren't their intentions to go nuclear clear to even the most senior State Department careerists? Why do some pin such great hopes on negotiating with these people?
The Iranians are simply buying time in order to get nukes and the Europeans are selling—nay, giving—the Iranians the time they need. The question is, will we go along with this program? Is our goal really just to shield ourselves from the blindingly obvious until our satellites detect a flash in the deserts of Iran indicating the Iranians just went nuclear and we can no longer live the life of the blissfully ignorant?
The mullahs want nuclear weapons and we won't like it if they get them.
"Europe Wants to be Fooled" (Posted November 29, 2004)
Euro-Disney has a long way to go before it rivals the fantasy world the Europeans have constructed to explain away Iran's nuclear behavior. Europe plays pretend games while Iran moves forward with deadly seriousness.
The Europeans continue to pretend to negotiate with the Iranians over Iran's nuclear ambitions and the Iranians don't even have the politeness to go along for more than a few days as Tehran publicly quibbles over the precise terms of the meaningless agreements the Europeans claim Iran has signed.
I've read some who say that all Iranians want nukes so we can't possibly stop them from going nuclear. Since I've argued for regime change to prevent Iran from being a nuclear threat does this mean regime change is pointless? Hardly:
Even if you believe that a nuclear Iran is inevitable, is it not infinitely better to have those atomic bombs in the hands of pro-Western Iranians, chosen by their own people, than in the grip of fanatical theocratic tyrants dedicated to the destruction of the Western satans?

And maybe it isn't inevitable. Faster, please.
You know, I don't worry about France with nuclear weapons. So while I'd prefer it if Iran did not have them, I'd sleep a lot better knowing that reasonable people in Tehran have them. And as Ledeen says, perhaps a nuclear-armed Iran isn't inevitable.
Regime change really is our only way out. Europe's detour into the world of process and pretend solutions does not change that. My only hope is that this Bizarro World dance runs parallel to our own preparations to really deal with the problem and that the pretend negotiations have not sidetracked us from our own action.
“Elections and Security” (Posted November 27, 2004)
The Iraqi interim government will proceed with elections on schedule:
"The Iraqi government is determined, as I told you before, to hold elections on time," said Allawi's spokesman, Thair al-Naqeeb. "The Iraqi government led by the prime minister is calling for all spectra of the Iraqi people to participate in the elections and to contribute in the elections to build a strong democratic country."
Good. The idea that the Sunnis will somehow get mad if the elections go forward is absurd! The Sunni clerics are actually calling for a voting boycott to protest the capture of Fallujah! Are they more upset about the loss of the bomb factories or the slaughterhouses? Good grief, what are they going to do if the election goes forward? Start killing their enemies in Iraq? Good God, people, the Sunni Baathists are already mad enough to car bomb and murder and enlist the help of beheading Islamist whackjobs! Just what else would the Sunnis do if they “get mad?”
Hopefully, Prime Minister Allawi can convince the leaders of opposition groups to sell out the fighters and come inside the new Iraq. I don’t mind amnesties for the bulk of the Baathists as long as the worst offenders are exiled, executed, or imprisoned. And no, I don’t know what would constitute “worst” and what would constitute “acceptable:”
Iraq's national security adviser Qassem Daoud stressed on Thursday that there were different levels of Baathists -- a movement that predates the deposed dictator's rule -- and hardline pro-Saddam Iraqis.
Don’t get confused that pacification means killing all our enemies who killed Americans and Iraqis in the past. Pacification means ending the fighting by defeating the enemy. If that means amnesty for some—so be it. They must be roped into the new Iraq securely with penalties for conspiring against the government, but we cannot make them keep fighting by refusing all alternative options. Remember the objective.
The Iraqi government also is right on the money when it says security will only come with Iraqi security units doing the fighting. Iraqi deputy prime minister Barham Salih said:
"British and American troops, whom we admire and respect for their courage and sacrifice, without them we could not have overcome Saddam's regime, at the end of the day cannot establish security fully unless we have indigenous Iraqi forces."

"The Americans and the British cannot build a new Iraq" in the wake of the downfall of Saddam Hussein's dictatorial regime, he said. "You can only support us."
Those here who insist we must pour American troops into Iraq in order to put Americans on every corner to protect the Iraqis will prompt a disastrous result: Iraqis will let Americans fight and die for them. Since most of those calling for more troops are precisely the people who would cry for a withdrawal when the going gets rougher, I find this astounding advice. We blanketed South Vietnam with American troops and killed Viet Cong and North Vietnamese in large numbers. But the South Vietnamese were never allowed to step forward. The US-dominated ground forces in Vietnam smashed the communist Tet Offensive but we saw defeat here at home. Even the successful Vietnamisation program was too late. Even though the South Vietnamese forces did succeed in pacifying the country, US morale at home was too weak to help South Vietnam when North Vietnamese conventional forces conquered South Vietnam.
We are far better off pushing the Iraqis to fight for themselves (including former foes enlisted in the new Iraq—properly de-Baathified, of course) even if they are not as effective in a narrow military sense of kill ratios. It is their country and they must fight. They are fighting now, and we must give them the capacity to do so. I am pleased the Iraqis want to fight and the government sees its duty as such. In the end, we can only support the Iraqis in building a new Iraq.
And speaking of security threats, why is Sadr still walking free?
[Ali Smeisim, al-Sadr's top political adviser,] said the government promised in the August agreement not to pursue members of al-Sadr's movement and to release most of them from detention.

"The government, however started pursuing them and their numbers in prisons have doubled," Smeisim said. "Iraqi police arrested 160 al-Sadr loyalists in Najaf four days ago."

He also accused the government of conspiring with two major Shiite parties, Dawa and the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq, to marginalize al-Sadr's movement and prevent its clerics from speaking in mosques.

"No gathering by the al-Sadr trend is allowed to take place at particular mosques," Smeisim said. "They want to drag the movement into a third battle. I call on the movement to show restraint and patience" to avoid "a Shiite-Shiite war."
They of murdering opponents and two uprisings are upset that the government is arresting them rather than thanking them for their civic involvement!
On the other hand, I am glad to read the government is cracking down on these two-time thugs. Don’t let them get strong enough to try a third uprising.
Elections and security seem to be moving forward satisfactorily.
“Timing” (Posted November 27, 2004)
So when do we go after Iran?
The latest EU-brokered “let’s pretend the Iranians don’t want nukes” deal is supposed to have a three-month period of testing before we look at their compliance. Already the Iranians are haggling over the meaning of the word “is” and related nuclear matters.
I wondered if a Kerry victory in November would prompt us to accelerate an operation to support Iranian rebels in Iran. No need now, so do we go in the spring of 2005? As I noted, our Strategic Petroleum Reserve is supposed to be filled in the spring (April 1st, I think). Assuming our European friends nail down an agreement in the next couple weeks, a three-month probation period puts us to mid-March where we would have the opportunity to declare Iran in violation of their agreements and put plans in motion.
Of course, this assumes the Europeans are at least somewhat on board. It assumes we are preparing to support Iranian rebels with air special forces support and perhaps some conventional units for stiffening. It certainly assumes that there are Iranians ready to put their hostility toward the mullahs into concrete action—particularly Iranian military forces.
I’m assuming a lot here, but an invasion can’t work with what we’ve got available. Air strikes are a last resort since we don’t know for sure what they have now; and after the strikes, they’ll dig deeper to prevent the next strike from working. Deterrence may not work if they think it is their Islamic duty to take one for the team by killing as many of us as they can. And coping with defense by deploying missile defenses around Iran depends on maintaining host country cooperation, deploying enough anti-missiles, and counts on the Iranians not using an old freighter to deliver a nuke to a port or some other way of bypassing the missile route. I think the Europeans are showing that diplomacy will not work.
But I’m also assuming that Iran is on the Axis of Evil for a reason and that we will not close our eyes to the threat just because the task ahead is hard.
I assume we have something in the works to deal with Iran. Since diplomacy, air strikes, invasion, deterrence, and defense won’t work; we must be planning regime change. And since regime change cannot simply impose a new regime, we must be supporting internal forces who will overthrow the unpopular mullahs.
A lot of assumptions on my part, true; but the alternative is to believe that we really are counting on the Europeans to talk their way to our safety.
“I’m In Awe or Mad…” (Posted November 27, 2004)
The French are getting away with what we could never do without the Berkeley Women’s Studies Department knitting something in protest … or something equally annoying. The Diplomad (via Instapundit) has the scoop:
With genuine admiration we must say that there is no other country on earth that pursues its core national interests in as determined and ruthless a manner as France. Unlike the USA which has three thousand interests all competing for number one, France has pared down its interests essentially to [promote and pursue French economic and commercial interests above all else and to prevent American hegemony.]
Truly, I am in awe of the focus of France. They blow up a Greenpeace ship and their people shrug. We blow up a murderous dictator’s regime and a quarter of our people are outraged? The Diplomad adds:
Some might say, this is not too dissimilar from traditional US policy in parts of Latin America. Perhaps. But where our admiration for the French really comes in is that they get away with it with nary a whisper of international criticism! In fact, the French loudly condemned our interventions in Grenada and Panama, joining in the anti-US UN debate on those actions, but yet do the same thing themselves (with admittedly less military skill) in Ivory Coast and elsewhere in Africa.
This of course is the part that makes me mad. When the vaunted values of the international community are only focused on us, it is hypocrisy and not idealism.
We need to seriously remold the international community—the UN—to keep from getting the dirty end of the stick every time in international debate.
“Ignore Them—Press On” (Posted November 26, 2004)
A number of Iraqi political parties are calling for a six-month delay in voting, now scheduled for January 30, 2005.
Ignore them and hold the elections. People can decide to vote—or not—but hold the elections.
The Sunnis are suspect anyway because they hope for American withdrawal and chaos in which they can emerge victorious in a vicious war with the majority, counting on their experience in terror to put them on top once again.
But the Kurds? Aren’t they our friends? Certainly, but remember that for many Kurds a free Iraqi in which they are a minority is considered better than subjugation by a Sunni dictatorship, but not as good as independence. Why take chances of a Shia dictatorship, they may think. So the Kurds voicing this opinion have ulterior motives not in line with our policies, too. They don’t want to alienate America by unilaterally pulling out of elections, but they wouldn’t mind if the blame was spread around and they could say they tried, it failed, and darn it all but we need an independent state.
The article repeats what seems to be the conventional wisdom as divined by the press:
A widespread boycott by the Sunni community could deny the elected parliament and government the legitimacy that U.S. and Iraqi authorities believe is necessary to help bring stability to Iraq and curb the insurgency.
Why would this deny the new government legitimacy? Why would voting by 75% of the population lack legitimacy (let’s assume half the Kurds and Sunnis vote and a small number of Shias boycott)? Why should the desires of a violent minority dictate when or whether Iraq should hold an election? This is preposterous! Why tell the violent thugs that continued violence will cancel the elections? Isn’t this what they want? Don’t the Sunni Baathists fear a democratic Iraq?
I fear that failure to hold elections when the clear majority wants elections will erode legitimacy. Do not let a violent minority and an ambivalent minority put off the elections. For their own reasons, each would like a delay to mean a cancellation—and then they can move on to their real objectives.
Hold the elections. On time. And if some don’t take part? Oh well. This is not one man, one vote, one time. There will be another one and after a few years of contemplating their error, they’ll take part in the second free presidential election in free Iraq.
“The Things You Find When You Crush a Sanctuary!” (Posted November 26, 2004)
I didn’t have the time to go through the slide show about finds in Fallujah that Winds of Change noted. Luckily, Caerdroia did:
This slide in particular interested me. In one of the IED factories, we found a GPS unit that had clearly been used to guide enemy fighters from Western Syria (a whole other topic in and of itself!) through Iraq to Falluja. The GPS had not had its waypoints cleared (which is how we know where they went). How much do you want to bet that those waypoints are mostly safe houses?

Well, they’re burned now, and that route is under surveillance. Best part is, since there are likely multiple routes, and the enemy doesn’t know which route we’ve burned, they’ll likely keep using them. If not, they have to get a whole new set of safe houses – not trivial in the first place, and particularly not now, with the Iraqi and US troops on the offensive throughout the Sunni Triangle. So we can surveil this route (and others we’ve uncovered) and begin to take apart the networks using it in ways that don’t give away what routes we might have discovered.
I always figured there was a rat line to Syria. When our Marine who tried to defect/was kidnapped (I do tend toward the latter explanation though his Moslem faith may have been used to lure him out by making him think he was going out to help his Moslem brethren in some fashion). I assumed that he might provide some help although if he was blindfolded and sent along a trail in reverse his impressions would be of little tactical help. Still, he might have been able to report how many days the trip took and how many places they stopped, for example.
The GPS unit was a great find. I wonder how far into Syria the waypoints went?
Europe’s Pearl Harbor?” (Posted November 26, 2004)
Although I’ve been annoyed at European refusal to help us more in Iraq, I’ve noted their help in Afghanistan, some in Iraq, and generally in the law enforcement side of fighting terrorism. I try not to get too upset when even something like a Spanish withdrawal happens because this will be a long war and we need voluntary cooperation. If a nation drops out of one part of the coalition, another may join, and dropouts may rejoin as others tire and scale back. Only we are crucial to the coalition. We cannot fail. Since we are the prime target I don’t think we could scale back much or for very long before being reminded of our critical role.
Besides, in two world wars, we were nearly 3 years tardy in World War I (though as a European struggle it is excusable) and two years tardy in World War II when our excuses for standing aside were less justifiable (although we were militarily weak) We helped where we could and in the end were decisive additions to the Allies in both wars. So we should cut the Europeans a little slack as long as they are net additions to our war effort. At some point, more states may help us more enthusiastically in more areas.
So one has to ask, is the brutal murder of van Gogh Europe’s Pearl Harbor?
This Christmastime could be the moment when Western Europe finally joins our war on terrorism. Anti-Islamist fear and anger from the mouths of the European volk is breaking through the surface calm perpetuated by the elite European appeasers. The assassination and mutilation of Dutch filmmaker Theo van Gogh by an Islamic fanatic — and the retaliatory firebombings of mosques by ethnic Dutchmen — have forced high European leaders and news outlets to begin to publicly face up to the implications of September 11, 2001 and the migration of Muslims in large and hostile numbers into the heart of Europe.
Europe has great power still and I’ve written that I believe that when the Europeans sense the threat they will respond with ruthlessness that is part of their historical character but which has seemed to be bred out of them in the last 30 years of EUtopian dreams. As the article concludes:
Yes, through the blinding smoke of Iraq and through the endless fuming of M. Chirac, the common people — the timeless volk — of Europe are beginning to see their true enemy — radical Islam. The will to survive and prevail is not yet spent in the hearts of our European cousins. They are late to the battle that is now raging. But they are not too late. The second great anti-fascist Euro-American alliance is now beginning to form on the foundation of our two common democratic peoples. Their spineless governments will follow, and will soon be run by fighting leaders uplifted from the ranks.
We shall see if a slumbering giant has been awakened to the threat it faces.
China Stumbling?” (Posted November 26, 2004)
I’ve written before that while China could become a peer rival to us in future decades, either regionally or even globally, but this future is not assured. I think Chinese geography with numerous enemies surrounding them would hamper their efforts to become more than a regional power. In addition, I do not think that China must become more powerful. A future of civil war and secession is also possible.
This is what my Jane’s email reports:
IN RECENT months, Foreign Report has issued warnings about the state of the Chinese economy. By all accounts it is enjoying a boom. But there are clear signs that the economy is running into trouble. Protests and disorders are spreading in urban factories and through the rural community.
I’ve been skeptical of China’s economic gains. Not because they are not happening, since I imagine Chinese statistics are better than old Soviet numbers, but because of how those numbers are being racked up. Like the old Soviet Union, China’s economic growth is coming from moving peasants to city factories. And even the most productive peasant turned into the most inefficient factory worker will produce more GDP and bump up national statistics. This is not sustainable. Eventually, established workers must become more efficient for an economy to really take off.
While Chinese collapse is surely preferable to a growing, xenophobic, hostile nuclear-armed China, collapse won’t be a nice trip for anybody. Truly, our foreign policy toward China must be quite the balancing act. Throw in the goal of prodding a prosperous but peaceful and friendly China and you have a China problem that defies easy solutions.
“Their Audacity is Stunning” (Posted November 25, 2004)
Iran and Syria truly have a lot of nerve condemning our offensive in Fallujah. One could call it chutzpah even:
Iran and Syria, two loud opponents of the war, attacked the U.S.-led campaign against insurgents. Syrian Foreign Minister Farouk al-Sharaa said while his government condemns terrorism, "we cannot overemphasize the need to refrain from shelling civilians, destroying cities and killing innocent people."
Truly, only claiming that they will not rest until they find the true killers would be more astounding in its brazenness. Even if their charge that we destroyed Fallujah was true, the nerve of these two countries is truly stunning. Syria, who plowed the city of Hama under in 1982 with their army, killing thousands of Islamists of the Moslem Brotherhood. Iran, who repeatedly bombarded the Shia Iraqi city of Basra during the Iran-Iraq War for no other reason than to kill Iraqis.
We took as much care as is possible in urban combat, using precision air and artillery, when we destroyed the Baathist and Islamist defenders. The Iraqis at the conference had none of this:
The contribution of the multinational force is essential to help secure necessary conditions for voting and to support our security forces in stabilizing the country," Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari said.
And this audacity is not restricted to mere rhetorical offenses. The Iran-EU nuclear freeze deal is in danger. Iran is already crumpling the paper the EU so proudly waved on the tarmac at Brussels after they signed it:
Iran is seeking exemptions from a deal to suspend sensitive nuclear activities that could be used to make weapons just three days after it came into force, the head of the U.N. atomic watchdog said on Thursday.
Iranian opposition protesters in Vienna put it well:
"No deal with the mullahs, no nuke to the mullahs!"
Regime change can be our only sure way to prevent Iran from becoming a nuclear threat to us. I don’t understand how anybody can fool themselves into thinking that Iran is pressing ahead with nuclear research for civilian purposes.
“Thanksgiving 2004” (Posted November 25, 2004)
As the fighting in Iraq continues, holidays such as Thanksgiving are not as joyous as they once were. Oh, I have so much more to be thankful for; but I am so much more aware that much of what I can be thankful for is made possible by men and women serving America overseas who continue to fight and die with few of the celebratory reminders of the holidays. Iraqis and Afghanis are fighting our enemies, too, by our side. Orson Scott Card has a very good piece on giving thanks. His words about the families of those who have died fighting for us is particularly touching:
You, the family whose child did not come home alive; you who have buried the hopes and dreams you had for that child's life; how can I comfort you? Except to tell you that the lives of all the children who have not died, whose future was not broken off by war, belong in part to you, because of the sacrifice you made.

I may not have known your lost sons and daughters, but I know why they died, and I love them for their sacrifice, and will not forget them; nor will I forget you, and the constant ache that will be with you for the rest of your lives.

I believe that in the eyes of God you are all held in honor; I know that in my own eyes, your suffering and sacrifice are gifts to your neighbors, to your nation, to all civilized people, whether or not they understand. I hope it helps sustain you, to know that I and many others like me are grateful to you and to the loved one you have lost.

On Thanksgiving day, family and friends will gather around a table in my home and give thanks to God for all the good things in our lives. Our home, our neighborhood, our city will mostly be at peace; there will be laughter and pleasure in our house, as well as solemnity and prayer.

Yet we will not forget you, none of you who have served us in this struggle. I promise that we will remember: You have been the hands of God in bringing this much more freedom, this much more hope of peace and justice to God's children, not only in your native land, but also among strangers.

No one has greater love than this: to lay down your life for your friends.

For that love, for your love, I give thanks.
The families of those who have died in this war deserve our thanks the most. Our soldiers are volunteers and they died knowing they fight to defend us. Iraqis and Afghanis are fighting for their homes and futures as free citizens. But the families of those Americans who have died had to watch their loved ones join to fight overseas and then die in that war. These families may support the war—or not. Either way, they have only the gaping hole in their lives that the loss of a young soldier, Marine, Airman, or sailor represents.
These families have my thanks and my prayers and these are nothing to erase that hole.
I hope that by honoring those who died and remembering their sacrifice and their accomplishment that we will give meaning to their deaths.
"Instability Watch" (Posted November 24, 2004)
The Sunni clergy has been pretty strident in its anti-Western statements and have clearly been prime recruiters for the jihadis. So when Zarqawi starts whining about the clergy it is pretty interesting:
"You have let us down in the darkest circumstances and handed us over to the enemy. ... You have quit supporting the mujahedeen," said the voice on the tape, purported to be al-Zarqawi's. "Hundreds of thousands of the nation's sons are being slaughtered at the hands of the infidels because of your silence."
Apparently, things are going wrong for Mr. Slaughterhouse and he needs somebody to blame. And when you blame the Sunni clergy for being insufficiently bloodthirsty against the West, you must be having serious problems. So what's going wrong? I mean aside from losing Fallujah and a couple thousand stout hearts who were to defend it?
You made peace with the tyranny and handed over the countries and the people to the Jews and Crusaders ... when you resort to silence on their crimes ... and when you prevented youth from heading to the battlefields in order to defend the religion," he said.

"Instead of implementing God's orders, you chose your safety and preferred your money and sons. You left the mujahedeen facing the strongest power in the world," he said. "Are not your hearts shaken by the scenes of your brothers being surrounded and hurt by your enemy?"
Looks like recruiting isn't what he hoped it might be. Looks like our power is overwhelming. Looks like he is being hurt.
With US, British, and Iraqi forces still on the offensive, I have to optimistic that this may finally be a turning point in the insurgency. Now this doesn't mean that the enemy won't surge some attacks in the next several months. They are still out there and still capable of coiling and striking. But when we look back on this insurgency, we may look at this period as the turning point.
Or I could be wrong. Just a hunch here. But the enemy is clearly hurt.
"Stability Watch" (Posted November 24, 2004)
The Pillsbury Nuke Boy seems to have his hands full in his little private psychopathic dreamland. Strategypage has a whole lot of good posts recently on North Korea:
November 24, 2004: North Korean secret police are trying to find out who is responsible for anti-government posters being found in towns along the Chinese border. This is a bad sign, and the result of more North Koreans finding out about the outside world. Until the last few years, most North Koreans only knew what the government wanted them to know. They believed that, as grim as North Korea was, it was a "workers paradise," and better than anything else in the world. Now most North Koreans know better, and they are angry. North Korean leaders live in fear of a revolution like that which happened in Eastern Europe in 1989. They are particularly fearful of the Rumanian revolution, where the secret police turned on the leadership (killing many of them) and joining the revolution.
Keep scrolling. The US is smuggling radios into North Korea. North Koreans are fleeing to Russia. Corruption. Covert cell phone use along the Chinese border. A growing awareness by North Koreans that they do not live in a workers paradise. Although one article speculates that the specific reports of portrait removal could be as meaningless as past small items, Strategypage notes:
There is good reason to wonder what's going on in North Korea. The incompetent communist government up there has screwed things up so badly that over a million North Koreans have starved to death, or died from disease or exposure. The place is one of the most repressive police states on the planet. So far, there has been no rebellion, or sign of an internal coup. This is an odd situation, and worthy of study.
Small gestures in a rigidly controlled country are one thing. But the small item of portrait removal is taking place in an entirely new and unstable environment. I do not dismiss this report at all. It is not an isolated event.
"Support Democracy in Ukraine" (Posted November 24, 2004)
Ukraine is in crisis over a government rigged election that has declared the pro-Russian candidate the victor in the presidential election over the pro-Western candidate. This is also a result of the division between ethnic Ukrainians from the west and ethnic Russians in the east of Ukraine. The Russians are quite simply trying to cobble together the empire they lost in 1991:
In Russia's view, the country remains a vital part of the "near abroad," the former Soviet republics with deep economic, historical and, in Ukraine's case, cultural, linguistic and ethnic bonds. Mr. Putin has invested considerable effort in drawing Russia, Belarus, Ukraine and Kazakhstan into an economic and political union.
And there is nothing subtle about how the government rigged the election. This is blatant and the EU should be ashamed for its silence. Good God, the Ukrainian government couldn't even pull off a good vote stealing campaign like Hugo Chavez did in Venezuela! I bet even Jimmy Carter would have to admit something is wrong. Poland, to its credit and with its own experience in 1946 of having the Russians snatch democracy from them, has been vocal (via Instapundit) in defending democracy in Ukraine.
President Bush has rightly called for a peaceful inquiry into this rather than letting the 1,200 or so Ukrainian troops in Iraq silence us over this blatant power grab:
The United States is deeply disturbed by extensive and credible indications of fraud committed in the Ukrainian presidential election. We strongly support efforts to review the conduct of the election and urge Ukrainian authorities not to certify results until investigations of organized fraud are resolved. We call on the Government of Ukraine to respect the will of the Ukrainian people, and we urge all Ukrainians to resolve the situation through peaceful means. The Government bears a special responsibility not to use or incite violence, and to allow free media to report accurately on the situation without intimidation or coercion. The United States stands with the Ukrainian people in this difficult time.
The Ukrainian government doesn't look like it is in any mood to follow the rule of law:
Ukraine's election commission declared the Kremlin-backed prime minister, Viktor Yanukovych, the winner of the country's bitterly disputed presidential election, sharpening a crisis sparked by the opposition candidate's allegations that the vote was fraudulent.
I have to wonder if the Ukrainian government will be willing to back this up with a Chinese-style throat stomping that kills thousands.
And what will Russia do? While Putin's Russia is far better than Soviet Russia, it is possible that this is in large measure only because the empire has been lopped off and the Russian military is far weaker than in the Soviet era. We must stop the Russians. I don't say this in some strange nostalgia for the Cold War.  I want Russia to be our friend. I want them to be successful in fighting Islamic terrorists so that no more Beslans happen. I want them to prosper in a democracy under rule of law that even if imperfect is at least on the right path.
But that does not mean we should sacrifice our ideals to placate Putin and stand aside while he pursues goals that trample on our ideals. We must oppose Putin's blatant attempt to steal the Ukrainian election and put his own people in charge in Ukraine. If this is like Poland in 1946, will our silence allow freedom to be crushed in Ukraine for another forty years?
It is better for us to support democracy and rule of law over supporting a particular regime that may bring its troops in Iraq home in retaliation if the vote-stealers win in the end. Because one day the democrats will win and they may recall that we let them down because we could be bought with 1,200 troops in a quiet area of Iraq.
Besides, what exactly could Russia do? The broken shards of their conventional army are tied down in tiny Chechnya. The Russians can send in the FSB (old KGB) or launch nukes (and the nukes might work). That is the limit of their forceful response. Do they really want chaos on their southern border? I don't think they'll push this too far if the West stands up to them.
This incident is also why we expand NATO eastward. You never can tell what the future may bring. I hope it brings a Russia free and allied with us. But Putin doesn't seem to have that high on his list of things to do lately.
“Winning the War” (Posted November 22, 2004)
This article (via NRO) has a number of interesting items. One is the absolute defense of the actions of that Marine in Fallujah:
The mutilated body of Margaret Hassan, the aid worker kidnapped in Baghdad last month, has been discovered in Fallujah, as have torture chambers. Residents of Fallujah have been describing a reign of terror by the insurgents. But it is the Marine's alleged "war crime" that is garnering the most attention.

The Marine did the right thing. The terrorist he shot was not a prisoner, was not attempting to surrender and was not a lawful combatant under the Geneva Convention. The squad had other rooms to clear, and couldn't afford to leave an enemy in their rear. The San Jose Mercury News described how Lance Cpl. Jeramy Ailes was shot to death by an Iraqi who was "playing possum."

"It's a safety issue pure and simple," explained former Navy SEAL Matthew Heidt. "After assaulting through a target, put a security round in everybody's head."

Journalists quick to judge the Marine are more forgiving when it comes to the terrorists. "They're not bad guys, especially, just people who disagree with us," said MSNBC's Chris Matthews.

And journalists wonder why we are less popular than used car salesmen
Good points all around. And I hope this article is a good transition out of my recent disgust with our media and on to other topics.
The second point is on body counts. I’ve been dismissive of body counts as a metric. Not because it isn’t important but because building government institutions is the key as far as I’m concerned. Body counts are a means to allowing this and not an end. My dismissal of body counts actually assumes we will have a good kill ratio given our troop skills and technology. I’m looking ahead to what the good kill ratio allows—building government institutions.
Nonetheless, this statement is interesting and heartening:
The rule of thumb for the last century or so has been that for a guerrilla force to remain viable, it must inflict seven casualties on the forces of the government it is fighting for each casualty it sustains, says former Canadian army officer John Thompson, managing director of the Mackenzie Institute, a think tank that studies global conflicts.
I’ve never heard of this statistic. I’ve read (I think on Strategypage) that overall, including Iraqis and all coalition troops, we have a 4:1 kill ratio against the insurgents—far better than the 1:7 ratio cited above. Our combat troops kill at 10:1 or better and even our rear echelon guys kill at a 2:1 ratio. Please just don’t go into the silly arguments I heard on NPR that since we’ve killed a certain number of Iraqi insurgents and we thought they had about that many, that continued resistance means there is a credibility gap in our statements. Like, duh, the enemy replaces losses just like we do. Despite our losses, we have about the same number of troops that we had a year ago. Is NPR arguing our losses are irrelevant? Same with the other side. They lose and replace but it is significant that they lose heavily.
The last thing I want to comment on is the description of the Fallujah battle:
American and Iraqi government troops have killed at least 1,200 fighters in Fallujah, and captured 1,100 more. Those numbers will grow as mop-up operations continue.

These casualties were inflicted at a cost (so far) of 56 Coalition dead (51 Americans), and just over 300 wounded, of whom about a quarter have returned to duty.

"That kill ratio would be phenomenal in any [kind of] battle, but in an urban environment, it's revolutionary," said retired Army Lt. Col. Ralph Peters, perhaps America's most respected writer on military strategy. "The rule has been that [in urban combat] the attacking force would suffer between a quarter and a third of its strength in casualties."

The victory in Fallujah was also remarkable for its speed, Peters said. Speed was necessary, he said, "because you are fighting not just the terrorists, but a hostile global media."

Fallujah ranks up there with Iwo Jima, Inchon and Hue as one of the greatest triumphs of American arms, though you'd have a hard time discerning that from what you read in the newspapers.
We did indeed kill the enemy in large numbers. Talk of the enemy escaping ignores the high casualties we inflicted at a relatively small cost. Yet urban warfare did cost us a lot when you remember that we conquered Iraq at the cost of about twice this amount. The fact is that defending in cities provides our enemies with advantages that negate some of our technology. Our troops did a great job, no doubt.
But it is too soon to say that we have licked the urban combat problem. We faced several thousand ill-organized but dedicated fighters, and we wiped them up. But if we had faced an enemy infantry regiment, conventionally trained and organized, we would have suffered far higher casualties. Perhaps we would have lost a quarter to a third of our strength taking the city from such a conventional force. With all due respect to Peters, Fallujah was no Iwo Jima, Inchon, or Hue. Our troops did a great job and did it quickly as Peters correctly notes was important, but we did not face a conventional enemy force able to defend in depth, counter-attack, and make us pay dearly for the victory. The enemy only had to die in place, taking out whoever they could, and that is what they did.
A lot of good stuff in one small article.
Bizarro World Analysis” (Posted November 22, 2004)
The Iraqi government has announced that national elections will take place January 30, 2005.
As the elections approach, the Sunni-supported Baathists continue their campaign of terror in the Sunni heartland. They and their jihadi allies continue to murder civilians, behead, plant bombs, run suicide bombers, and otherwise try to terrorize the Shias and Kurds into surrender so the Sunnis can reclaim their glory days of neck stomping. Yet Sunnis will be allowed to vote in the January elections.
One Sunnis cleric is assassinated and this is what this article worries about:
U.S. officials are concerned that a boycott could deprive the new government of legitimacy in the eyes of the Sunni Arabs, who make up an estimated 20 percent of the nearly 26 million population. The majority Shiites, believed to form 60 percent of the population, strongly support elections.

Spearheading the boycott call is the Association of Muslim Scholars, an influential Sunni clerical group with suspected links to insurgent groups. The association called for a boycott to protest this month's U.S.-led assault on the insurgent stronghold of Fallujah and the continued U.S. military presence five months after the restoration of Iraqi sovereignty.

Allegations by Fallujah residents that U.S. troops defaced mosques and the large-scale devastation of the city have further stoked the anger of Sunnis, who were further enraged Friday when Iraqi forces backed by U.S. troops raided Baghdad's Abu Hanifa mosque, Iraq's most revered Sunni site.
The Sunnis are supporting Baathist murderers; let terrorists use their mosques as armories; and celebrated the Fallujah reign of terror, and we are supposed to be all in a tizzy because the Sunnis might not vote?! How is it possible to worry about the Sunnis given their track record? Just what US officials are worried about this? (Let me guess, State Department?) The Sunnis should be grateful that they will be allowed to vote given their four centuries of neck stomping. And if they choose not to vote? Screw them. Seriously. Let them sit out the new Iraq while sovereign Iraqi security forces gain experience and come after the Baathists who will not stop fighting.
The Sunnis have an opportunity to vote and start life anew. If they are too stupid or too bloody minded to take advantage of this, we should not look back as we drive forward. And we should not look too closely as the Iraqi government breaks the Baathist resistance. It is just bizarre to waste our time worrying about what the murderers think.
"I'm Happy the Paper Reported it At All" (Posted November 22, 2004)
The New York Times article is titled "Rebels Keep Up Attacks in Central and North Iraq."
The lead paragraph reports:
Violence surged through central and northern Iraq on Saturday as a tenacious insurgency led by Sunni Arabs kept up relentless assaults in several major cities, including Baghdad, Ramadi and Falluja, which the Americans devastated during an intense weeklong offensive aimed at routing the insurgency.
I won't even go into the picture of defeat or discuss true devastation (but picture Grozny).
But I would like to note a small detail that the writer or headline writer might have highlighted a bit more prominently:
Fighting raged in the rubble of Falluja. Two marines were killed and four wounded in an ambush on Friday in which an insurgent deceived the Americans by waving a white flag, military officials said Saturday.
Because, you know, we don't need to wonder what "our" press would highlight if one of our boys did something even remotely familiar (and no, you would not be reading an article entitled "Terrorists Use Mosques as Bases in Violation of Islam and Law" or "Insurgent Violations of Laws of War Imperil Wounded Comrades").
But I'm not a Journalistic-American, so what do I know?
“Negotiating Strategy” (Posted November 20, 2004)
Iran is hell bent on getting nukes. The West as a whole doesn’t seem to understand this. Europeans continue to seek a nice piece of paper so they can sleep easily for a short time more.
I feel foolish for not seeing this one coming:
Raising doubts about its commitment to dispel international distrust, Iran is producing significant quantities of a gas that can be used to make nuclear arms just days before it must stop all work related to uranium enrichment, diplomats said Friday
Another way for Iran to stall Western action through negotiations in order to buy time to build nuclear missiles is to agree to stop doing something you don’t actually need to do for a while. The Iranians are stocking up on uranium hexafluoride, and so of course they can afford to promise not to make any more—for a while. They’ll abide by this agreement until they run low on their supply and need more and then they’ll violate the agreement on some pretext.
Then they’ll agree to something else that won’t slow them down but that will look good on paper and satisfy the EU.
Iran is moving toward nuclear weapons with no intentions of slowing down for anything other than tactical reasons to avoid concerted Western action to halt them. These agreements are meaningless and at best buy weeks or months—and at worst delay the Iranians not a bit but lull the West into thinking we’ve addressed the problem.
We won’t like a nuclear-armed Iran. Not one bit.
“A Higher Duty” (Posted November 20, 2004)
Chris Matthews’ comment about the enemy not being bad guys—just people who disagree with us—is horrifying me more and more as time passes. He may pretend he is merely displaying a “higher duty” to journalism but that is just rot.
This article reminded me of a past incident that I’ve read about before. The exchange from 1987 is amazing. I was perhaps less shocked back when I first read about it since it was in the abstract and we weren’t in a shooting war where such an incident could take place:
Ogletree asked the panel to imagine a war between the hypothetical countries of North and South Kosan. The United States was backing South Kosan, and indeed American troops were deployed in the field alongside South Kosanese forces. The North Kosanese offered to allow Jennings and a crew to film them behind their lines. Would Jennings go? Of course, he answered.

Then Ogletree introduced the ethical dilemma: While filming the North Kosanese, you see they are setting up an ambush for an approaching column of American and South Kosanese soldiers. What do you do? Would you stand by and film as the North Kosanese opened fire on the Americans?

Jennings pondered the question. "Well, I guess I wouldn't," he said finally. "I am going to tell you now what I am feeling, rather than the hypothesis I drew for myself. If I were with a North Kosanese unit that came upon Americans, I think that I personally would do what I could to warn the Americans." He went on to say he would warn the Americans even if it meant losing the story, even if it meant losing his life.

But this admirable display of patriotic duty was short-lived, for he was then upbraided by Mike Wallace.

"I think some other reporters would have a different reaction," Wallace said. "They would regard it simply as a story they were there to cover." Wallace was "astonished" at Jennings's answer, and he began to lecture him as he would an errant schoolchild.

"You're a reporter," Wallace scolded. "I'm a little bit at a loss to understand why, because you're an American, you would not have covered that story."

Didn't Jennings have a higher duty, Ogletree asked Wallace, than to roll film as American soldiers were being shot? "No," Wallace said. "You don't have a higher duty. No. No. You're a reporter!"

Properly chastened, Jennings backed down. "I chickened out," he said. He had lost sight of his journalistic duty to remain detached from the story.

After more interplay between the newsmen (the sage and the cub), Ogletree turned to another panelist, George M. Connell, a Marine Corps colonel in full uniform.

Connell looked at Wallace and Jennings as he might a pair of stains on his dress blues. "I have utter contempt," he said. "Two days later they're both walking off my hilltop, two hundred yards away and they get ambushed. And they're lying there wounded. And they're going to expect I'm going to send Marines up there to get them. They're just journalists. They're not Americans."

"Oh, we'll do it," Connell continued, "and that's what makes me so contemptuous of them. Marines will die going to get a couple of journalists."
I suggest a retort to Wallace adjusting his own words slightly—but oh so importantly:
"You're an American. I'm a little bit at a loss to understand why, because you're a reporter, you would not have warned the American soldiers."
That Wallace doesn’t consider the higher duty is to act as an American rather than as a reporter is shocking to me now. The higher duty is clear: warn the American soldiers. Let the French journalists frolic with the enemy and film them. They at least are not confronting a moral dilemma. Sadly, as I think about it, perhaps most of “our” reporters have no moral dilemma either.
Now that we are at war, the idea that I should trust the judgment of somebody who cannot see that we fight a brutal enemy is ludicrous. Such a person is beneath contempt.
CBS lost me twenty years ago.
I will never watch Chris Matthews again for any reason. Period.
"Are The Pillsbury Nuke Boy's Arms Getting Tired? (Posted November 19, 2004)
North Korean officials have removed portraits of leader Kim Jong Il from some public buildings, a dramatic change in a reclusive nation that has clung to totalitarian rule for more than half a century.
The article reassures us that nothing is amiss and that Kim Jong-Il is still firmly in control. But it is certainly unusual:
Foreign diplomats reported the removal of portraits of Kim this week, an unusual development because the dictator is the focus of an all-encompassing cult of personality that he inherited from his father and late national founder, Kim Il Sung.
But this doesn't exactly sound like firm control:
"Many North Korean defectors who fled the country recently are saying now it's quite easy to spot North Koreans criticizing their regime and Kim Jong Il in public," said Baek Seung Joo, chief of North Korean studies at the Korea Institute for Defense Analyses in Seoul.

Baek speculated that the removal of portraits could be an indication that Kim is "aware of the criticism toward his regime and is lowering the level of personality cult around him in order to appease the public sentiment."
As this hints, North Koreans are making it out of North Korea in increasing numbers. There are lots hiding in China across the border and in a visible sign, the number reaching South Korea through third countries has risen dramatically in the last few years from occasional brave individuals to a hundred or more per month.
And the statement that it is easy to spot North Koreans criticizing the government is astounding! This post (via Instapundit is amazing):
[The paper] (Sankei Shinbun) is reporting anti-regime flyers being posted in over fifty places in North Korea. This public display of disobedience in that benighted country is unprecedented and has been going on for the last month.
When you consider that entire families were imprisoned for the disloyal comments of even one member. the lack of fear is noteworthy to say the least. That Kim Jong Il feels it might be necessary to appease the public sentiment—as if he ever gave a rat's patootie about that alien concept—is a sign of rot from within.
Add this to reports that the economy falters. That agriculture is still poor. That military recruits get shorter and smaller every year. That the military is eroding as weapons get older and the thugs in Pyongyang can't even afford to train the military. All this on top of that portrait report tells me that the regime is faltering. The North's nuclear gambit is not a program of strength but of desperation to stem the collapse by either raising the prestige of the regime or by extorting aid from a nervous West. Or both, of course.
It would be too easy to assume everything stays as it has been and that North Korea lumbers on wheezing and staggering but still standing into the future. But this article has a nice quote related by Natan Sharansky about what another dissident, Andrei Amalrik, wrote about Soviet communism. It nicely illustrates why, in the light of the other information I cited, I think things are changing in North Korea:
"The unforgettable image he left the reader with was that of a soldier who must always point a gun at his enemy. His arms begin to tire until their weight becomes unbearable. Exhausted, he lowers his weapon and the prisoner escapes."
When a regime based on fear notices that fear is weakening, it is a mistake for the regime to give in to that fear as Pyongyang appears to be doing. The people learn that there is a reason the regime fears them. The people learn that the regime is capable of fear. And then fear disappears even faster. Eastern Europe collapsed when the regimes there showed fear of the people. China in 1989 showed that the correct response to people losing their fear of you is to kill enough so that fear runs deep again.
The Pillsbury Nuke Boy's arms are finally growing weary of pointing a rifle at his own people. Soon, North Koreans will not need to run to escape tyranny. Soon, the people themselves will be tearing down the portraits of the Dear Leader.
"Hat Trick" (Posted November 19, 2004)
Dang. Three articles today that would have fit nicely with my post "The Name They Dare Not Speak" from yesterday.
This author is rather more harsh in his description of our press:
Since the Vietnam era, American journalists seem to operate by an ethic reversing the infamous slogan of antiwar demonstrators, who chant "media lies, people die." Much more accurate would be to say "people die, media lies." American media lied about Vietnam, telling us the Communists won the Tet offensive when they were defeated -- and when, by the way, the recapture of the traditional capital city of Hue disclosed that the Communists had rounded up and executed some 6,000 people. American media lied about Central America, as noted; American media still lie about Cuba, portraying the Castro regime, which has driven the average standard of living of the people drastically down, as the most progressive in Latin America.

Much of American media lied about the wars in Yugoslavia, depicting Slobodan Milosevic, early on, as a reformer in the style of Gorbachev. They continued by "explaining" Serbian aggression against Slovenes, Croats, Bosnian Muslims, and Albanians by the alleged wholesale collaboration of the victims' great-grandparents with the Nazis. Presumably, the 1,100 children killed in the siege of Sarajevo were all members of a Bosnian Waffen SS division about which much propagandistic ink has been spilled over the years. And they repeated ad nauseam the false charge that equal atrocities were committed on all sides, when the great majority of mass murders, rapes, deportations, and expulsions were carried out by the Serbs.
But I can't bring myself to actually disagree with him. I still don't understand what in their journalistic code allows them to stand with the enemy or even just stand neutral in a war that would see them all in gulags or dead if we were to lose.
The importance of victory in a war that our press does not even see is highlighted by Hanson:
Just as the breakdown of a few Communist Eastern European states led to a general collapse of Marxism in the east, or the military humiliation in colonial Africa and the Falklands led to democratic renaissance in Iberia and Argentina, or American military efforts in Nicaragua, El Salvador, and Panama City brought consensual government to Central America, a reformed Afghanistan and Iraq may prompt what decades of billions of dollars in wasted aid to Egypt, Jordan, and the Palestinians, the 1991 Gulf War, and 60 years of appeasement of Gulf petrol-sheiks could not: the end of the old sick calculus of Middle East tyrannies blackmailing the United States through past intrigue with the Soviet Union, then threats of oil embargos and rigged prices, and, most recently, both overt and stealthy support for fundamentalist killers.
Given the stakes involved in this war, it simply astounds me that the press does not seem to think it has a stake in our victory in this war—if the collective press even believes we are at war.
On the specific question of whether our Marine in Fallujah committed a crime by shooting a wounded enemy, I tended to think the Marine did nothing wrong given the apparent circumstances of incident and the environment where the enemy violates every norm of war with glee. Owens thinks the Marine did not commit a crime and concludes:
I firmly believe that American soldiers should carefully adhere to the laws of war, even when they engage a savage enemy — as they have in Fallujah. While it may sound strange to some, I believe the idea of restraint in war helps to civilize a brutal human activity and to limit the descent of soldiers into barbarism. But prudence dictates that we make a distinction between killing a prisoner in cold blood, and protecting oneself and one's brethren — as this Marine did.
All good articles to read.
"The Name They Dare Not Speak" (Posted November 18, 2004)
We are at war. Therefore we have enemies. What are their trademarks?
Suicide bombings. Assassinations. The wholesale murder of prisoners. The mass slaughter of 9/11. Videotaped beheadings and the execution studios recently discovered in Fallujah.  
These enemies kill, maim, torture, and otherwise violate all the norms of civilization in their efforts to impose their sick society on the rest of us. But the press does not see it this way.
Despite what should be obvious, the people who report on this "war" with our "enemies" just don't seem to get it. They cannot seem to call those we fight "the enemy." This is what Chris Matthews recently said:
If this were the other side, and we were watching an enemy soldier, a rival—I mean, they‘re not bad guys, especially—just people that disagree with it. They‘re in fact the insurgents fighting us in their country. If we saw one of them do what we saw our guy do to that guy, would we consider that worthy of a war crimes charge? [emphasis added]
The enemy is not made up of bad guys? They're "soldiers?" Wow. And the last part is good, too, and telling. What does he mean "if we saw one of them" do something horrible we'd be outraged? Actually, I'd consider it progress if it was just individuals in occasional incidents. But our enemy commits clear atrocities as a matter of policy—of belief, in fact. They are not ashamed of what they do. They take pride in it! Yet Matthews, like so many others in the media, easily forgets the history and present of our enemies and simply muses about what we would do if the enemy did something wrong! If?! What planet do these reporters live on?
As Real Clear Politics states:
This type of mentality from guys like Matthews that leads to questions with lines like these "aren't bad guys," and these guys are "just insurgents fighting us in their country" is the same kind of mentality that led to Michael Moore taking his seat right next to Jimmy Carter at the Democratic convention.

The Left in this country needs to undertake some serious soul-searching. And when I say the Left I don't just mean the fringe Left, I mean the heart and soul of the national Democratic Party, as represented by their leader in the U.S. House Nancy Pelosi. I mean the mentality of the media elite as represented by Chris Matthews, Peter Jennings and Dan Rather.

We are fighting a ruthless and evil enemy who wants to enslave the world and throw it back to the dark ages. We are fighting the people who killed 3,000 Americans on September 11, 2001, killed 190 Spaniards going to work last year, and slaughtered hundreds of children going to school in Russia this September. These are the people who are desperately searching for the ability to inflict a strike that will make 9/11 look like a good day.
We are at war with real killing enemies and after three years it is still not clear to a lot of Americans. We have made gruesome discoveries in Fallujah about the horrors inflicted by the Baathists and Islamists after we captured that city that are basically smaller versions of the vast gruesome discoveries that we made when we invaded and overran Iraq in April 2003. Since the press has not seen fit to publicize the atrocities of Saddam in favor of 24/7 coverage of Abu Ghraib (for a time), why should any of us be surprised that the atrocities of the minions of Saddam in Fallujah are set aside in favor of highlighting the possible violation of the laws of war when a Marine shot and killed a wounded illegal combatant in a Fallujah mosque. Why mentions Iraqis are happy Saddam is gone? And if that is not fit to print, why mention that Fallujah residents are relieved (via Instapundit) we kicked the thugs out?
Such is the fear that the heavily armed militants held over Fallujah that many of the residents who emerged from the ruins welcomed the US marines, despite the massive destruction their firepower had inflicted on their city.

A man in his sixties, half-naked and his underwear stained with blood from shrapnel wounds from a US munition, cursed the insurgents as he greeted the advancing marines on Saturday night.

"I wish the Americans had come here the very first day and not waited eight months," he said, trembling. Nearby, a mosque courtyard had been used as a weapons store by the militants.

Another elderly man, who did not want his name used for fear the rebels would one day return and restore their draconian rule, said he was detained by the militants last Tuesday and held for four days before being freed. He described how he had then sought refuge in a friend's house where they had huddled together clutching Korans in silent prayer for their lives as the massive US bombardment put the insurgents to flight.

"It was horrible," he told an AFP reporter."We suffered from the bombings. Innocent people died or were wounded by the bombings.

"But we were happy you did what you did because Fallujah had been suffocated by the Mujahidin. Anyone considered suspicious would be slaughtered. We would see unknown corpses around the city all the time."

The same story of arbitrary executions was told by another resident, found by US troops cowering in his home with his brother and his family.

"They would wear black masks, carry rocket-propelled grenades and Kalashnikovs, and search streets and alleys," said Iyad Assam, 24. "I would hear stories, about how they executed five men one day and seven another for collaborating with the Americans. They made checkpoints on the roads. They put announcements on walls banning music and telling women to wear the veil from head to toe."

It was not just pedlars of alcohol or Western videos and women deemed improperly dressed who faced the militants' wrath. Even residents who regard themselves as observant Muslims lived in fear because they did not share the puritan brand of Sunni Islam that the insurgents enforced.

One devotee of a Sufi sect, followers of a mystical form of worship deemed herectical by the hardliners, told how he and other members of his order had lived in terror inside their homes for fear of retribution.

"It was a very hard life. We couldn't move. We could not work," said the man sporting the white robe and skullcap prescribed by his faith. "If they had any issue with a person, they would kill him or throw him in jail."
It would be nice if our reporters saw our enemies as their enemies, too. We are at war. We have done a good thing to rid the planet of Saddam and we are the good guys for fighting those that would bring back nationwide terror but are satisfied to inflict it on whatever land they dominate. These people are our enemy and they are the bad guys, even if some of our troops do something wrong.
When it appears that one of our Marines may have done something wrong (and I would bet in this case the circumstances will clear him—but perhaps not) the press jumps on it. The incident clearly bolsters their belief system about the world.
Look, I'm not upset that Sites did his job reporting the mosque shooting. Stuff happens. In all wars. I'm upset that the press can't report this incident in context of a war with enemies. I'm upset that the press doesn't collectively see this as a news item to be reported through the lens of America the good guys and Baathists the bad guys. Instead, it is another chance to assume guilt. And to bring up Abu Ghraib again, of course.
But whoever is shooting at us—but don't dare call them the enemy—shouldn't be judged harshly, the majority of the press seems to think. How is this attitude that different from the outrage of the Sunnis over the killing of one of their wounded compatriots while they are silent over their own laundry list of horrors? At least those Sunnis have the excuse of being our enemies.
That this attitude defines chutzpah should be clear. The Sunni Baathists show they will kill and terrorize in whatever area they control and they get upset that one of our Marines killed one of their wounded terrorists? And "our" press cooperates in getting this point of view out! Is it any wonder that Fox news gains popularity while the mainstream press declines as it trots out forged documents and shuns American flags as inappropriately taking sides? I don't want happy talk. I want accurate news, good and bad. And when there is bad news, I want it from people who know we are at war and are fighting beastly enemies. No quotation marks in their thinking and none in their reporting.
So the press did not have an obligation to bury the mosque incident. Maybe the Marine did something wrong. But I bet not:
"In the south of Fallujah yesterday, U.S. Marines found the armless, legless body of a blonde woman, her throat slashed and her entrails cut out. Benjamin Finnell, a hospital apprentice with the U.S. Navy Corps, said that she had been dead for a while, but at that location for only a day or two. The woman was wearing a blue dress; her face had been disfigured. It was unclear if the remains were the body of the Irish-born aid worker Margaret Hassan, 59, or of Teresa Borcz, 54, a Pole abducted two weeks ago. Both were married to Iraqis and held Iraqi citizenship; both were kidnapped in Baghdad last month."

When not disemboweling Iraqi women, these killers hide in mosques and hospitals, booby-trap dead bodies, and open fire as they pretend to surrender. Their snipers kill U.S. soldiers out of nowhere. According to one account, the Marine in the videotape had seen a member of his unit killed by another insurgent pretending to be dead. Who from the safety of his Manhattan sofa has standing to judge what that Marine did in that mosque?
I despair of our press reporting with perspective and loyalty to America. So if the reporters want to assume the enemy is no worse than we are, let the reporters go check the wounded enemy if they think it is wrong to assume they are still killers. Let the reporters pay the price for guessing wrong about the good nature of our enemy who they do not think of as an actual bad enemy. I bet our Marines and soldiers wouldn't mind that.
We need to beat these terrorist enemies. And we'll need to do it without the help of most of the press.
“Are We Blind?” (Posted November 17, 2004)
The Iranians say they will cooperate with the West in assuring us about their nuclear program and that they will not use their expensive nuclear technology to build nuclear weapons. They may even sign a piece of paper promising this.
We’ll ignore the brutality of the regime.
We’ll ignore their support for the most brutal terrorists.
We’ll ignore their meddling in Iraq and Afghanistan.
We’ll ignore signs they are cheating.
We’ll ignore the threats to us and our allies that come out of Tehran.
We’ll even cut them some slack on the whole “Death to America” stuff.
We’ll sign a paper with them in which they solemnly promise to behave and we will reward them.
Yet there is this from Secretary Powell:
"I have seen some information that would suggest they have been actively working on delivery systems ... you don't have a weapon until you can put it in something that can deliver a weapon," he told reporters during a brief stop in Brazil on his way to an Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation meeting in Chile.
Missiles and nukes. Well that’s wonderful.
Why wouldn’t Iran sign anything to stall us? Promise anything to give the Europeans an excuse to go to their default surrender position? They may need to buy 5 years of time. Or maybe 3. Or maybe a lot less.
Iran will promise and then fail to keep their promises. And then they’ll explain why they didn’t. And why it is our fault anyway. And then they’ll assert their right to do what they want. And if they need more time, they’ll sign something else promising whatever they need to promise to stall some more.
Regime change in Tehran: 2005.
“Winning” (Posted November 16, 2004)
The victory in Fallujah is not the end of the war. It is a necessary win on the way there but it leads to the question of when to we know we are winning and in the end game? I mentioned back in May or June that victory could come without warning. We could be fighting hard and then the enemy breaks and fades quickly. What would the tipping point look like?
Let me use the Iran-Iraq War (the First Gulf War) in the 1980s as an example.
In that war, the Iraqis faced a hopped up Iranian enemy high on the fever of the Islamic revolution. After the Iranians refused to surrender after the Iraqi invasion in 1980, the Iraqis found themselves gunning down Iranians in offensive after offensive, with the Iranians coming back again and again. Even in the face of chemical attacks. The Iranians were seemingly oblivious to casualties; and human wave assaults mixed with conventional tactics sorely tested the Iraqi defenders. With Iraq outnumbered in population by a ratio of 3:1 and the Iraqis killing the Iranians at only a 2:1 ratio, it seemed that Iraq would surely break first. Then, at the end of 1986, the Iranians struck again:
Iran's next big effort followed quickly. It was truly the "mother of all battles" and reflected the worst impulses of Iran's non-army high command by its directness and bloody-mindedness. Before the offensive, Rafsanjani exhorted volunteers heading for the battle:

Our aim is to completely destroy the Iraqi war machine. Here, near Basra, Saddam can not do anything but fight, for the fall of Basra is tantamount to his own death. We want to settle our accounts with Iraq at Basra's gates, which will open and pave the way for the final victory we have promised.

On January 8, 1987, Karbala Five signaled its beginning when waves of Iranians rushed the Iraqi lines northwest of Khorramshahr. As Rafsanjani predicted, the Iraqis stood their ground and fought. Final victory was not, however, the result. In standing to fight, the Iraqis gunned down the Iranians who stubbornly attacked in the face of crippling losses as they slowly shoved the Iraqis back. By January 22, 1987, the Iranians had advanced to within ten kilometers of Basra, the objective on which Iran pinned her hopes of victory. By the fourth week of the offensive, Iran's attack force was spent and the Iranians dug in to hold their exposed positions at the outskirts of Basra. Iraq's counter-attack called upon all the available reserves and smashed the Iranians to end the offensive for good. Perhaps 20,000 Iranians died in the battle. Iraq's casualties were about half of Iran's. Iraq's performance is notable in that Iraq withstood and won the kind of brutal bloodletting that supposedly only Iran could endure. Observers at the time saw only that Iran had launched yet another in a seemingly endless series of big offensives. They speculated about how many more of these attacks Iraq could endure. Actually, Iran broke at Karbala Five. It would be many months before observers began to wonder what was wrong with Iran when no further attacks were begun, yet it was true that the "Islamic Revolution bled to death in Karbala V."
The Iraqis won but the casualties were horrifying and the venom spewing forth from Tehran indicated this was just one more brutal battle that the Iranians would wage until Iraq fell.
Months passed with nothing very major happening. Attention turned to the Gulf where American-led naval forces would escort tankers to protect them from Iranian attacks. Then the winter 1987-1988 passed without the usual big offensive. What was going on? Why no attack? What were the Iranians planning?
Then in the spring, the Iraqis struck with their own offensive. The first time in years the Iraqis seized the initiative. And the Iranians proved to be lacking in fighting spirit. Fao fell in 36 hours. Then more attacks followed into Iran itself. Soon, Iraqi units were seemingly moving at will into Iraq and Iran essentially sued for peace. The Islamist Shia jihadis that had inspired such fear in the Sunni world had quit for good.
Iran’s collapse was not obvious at the time. When the Iranians let the usual winter bloodletting season pass without attacking, it should have been apparent that the Iranians were not up to the bloodletting. Then the Iraqis attacked to make sure that the Iranians did not have the time to recover their will to fight.
So does this have a lesson for us today? What happened in summary?
  1. The Iranians realized they were not winning and made a big effort to change the course of the war, pinning their hopes on victory at last.
  2. The Iraqis won in the face of this last military gasp and kept heart without thinking they were losing.
  3. At some point, the enemy did not do something that was expected of them—another massive human wave attack the next winter. The Iraqis didn’t know why. Had the Iranians changed strategy? Were they building up for a bigger attack?
  4. The Iraqis then went over on the offensive, finally providing evidence of the Iranian collapse and finished the enemy off.
At some point, somebody’s will to fight will break. Back in February 2004, I thought the Baathists might have finally broken. Battle deaths were dwindling that month and then halted for a week or so. Had Saddam’s capture in December been the final blow? It seemed like it could be so. But the March-April Sunni offensive and the Sadr revolt ended that thought.
Since then we have cleaned out the enemy from their hard-won gains. Sadr’s troops were slaughtered. Sunni strongholds have been reduced. Fallujah was a major defeat for the Baathists that eliminated their sanctuary and resulted in the loss of well over 2,000 fighters and the scattering of the rest. We are on the move in the rest of the Sunni Triangle to fight the enemy as they come into the open in response to our offensive in Fallujah.
So was the March-April offensive the last Baathist gasp to change the course of the war? If so, we have won in the face of this attack? And we are certainly on the offensive to roll the enemy back.
But the enemy is still fighting and dying. And I cannot see anything that is an absence of the expected. So at best, we are at step 2. Perhaps we are at step 3 and don’t know it. But what should the insurgents be doing that they are not? That they cannot do? What indication is there that they are losing hope and giving up? I don’t see anything yet. But it took over a year for the Iraqis to realize this after Karbala V. Indeed, it took an Iraqi offensive that unexpectedly smashed the Iranians at low cost to provide the first real hint that the Iranians were collapsing.
At some point, somebody will break first. I think it will be the enemy rather than ourselves and our Iraqi friends. I just can’t say if there are signs of this enemy collapse yet.
“They Died Defending a Shop of Horrors” (Posted November 16, 2004)
Fallujah is captured. The US forces and Iraqis assisting fought well. We killed perhaps 1,600 and captured hundreds (I heard over a thousand). We and our Iraqi allies lost fewer than 50. The hard part is keeping Fallujah—and other cities—tamped down long enough to win over the vast number of the middle who would cooperate with the government if not for the terror that visits them in the night to keep them on the fence or supporting the insurgents.
With over 100,000 Iraqis trained, we are on the way to being able to turn the job over to the Iraqis. As was noted:
"The operational lesson is that 'taking' cities is comparatively easy, but that 'holding' them is harder and ultimately decisive," said one Army officer who just returned for a year's duty near Falluja. "And that fight is largely one for Iraqis, not Americans, to win."
It is a fight we have to convince Sunnis is futile and ultimately harmful to their interests. The Iraqis have to win this. We can’t do it for them. If we did double our troop level, that would be counter-productive. We might annoy the Shias, too. Luckily, opinion at home wouldn’t let us pour in another 150,000 troops anyway. And besides, as I’ve said many times, we have enough troops for the job.
With more Iraqis being trained and equipped and gaining experience fighting with us, the stronger the new government gets. As time passes, the Iraqis build new governmental offices and gives the people confidence in their new government and hope for a future. With elections in January, the government loses its “interim” tag and gains more legitimacy. We are moving in the right direction.
And what we found in Fallujah shows why we can’t let sanctuaries endure:
U.S. Marines have found beheading chambers, bomb-making factories and even one Iraqi hostage as they swept through Fallujah — turning up hard evidence of the city's role in the insurgent campaign to drive American forces from Iraq.
The insurgents left a message, too:
"I will join my friends in heaven," the will read. "Don't cry for me. Celebrate my death."
I do celebrate their deaths. May his friends have plenty of company—and very quickly. I dispute the heaven part, however.
The Shia-Kurd government of 20 million faces a revolt by some part of the 5 million Sunnis and whatever jihadi friends they have from outside Iraq coming in. This is not a broad revolt despite what some may think. It is a fight that the Shia and Kurds can win. Indeed, what we have found in Fallujah shows us that the insurgents fight for no kinder and gentler Baathism. The Shias and Kurds must win, for the Baathists fight for cruelty and pillage pure and simple. By killing the Baathists and Islamists, we buy the Iraqi government time to build.
I eagerly await word on how the fight in Mosul goes. The more the Iraqis do there to fight the insurgents, the better I will feel. It sounds like the insurgents scared the police off and then the insurgents ran off in turn when US and Iraqi troops moved against them in modest numbers—maybe three battalions (1 US and 2 Iraqi). But it is early.
“Hindsight is Not Predictive” (Posted November 14, 2004)
This author (via Real Clear Politics) tells us that it should be obvious that the Iraq War would result in a Philippines-like insurgency. The author lays out a tale ripped from the last two-years’ headlines and rightly notes it sounds like Iraq. But it is the Philippines of a century ago.
The author asserts that we should have seen all along that Iraqi Sunnis would resist after the fall of Baghdad. It should have been obvious, he says, if we had paid attention to the Philippines. But this is, of course, immensely silly.
Well why wasn’t Iraq like Cuba? We took that in the same war. We set up a compliant regime and Cuba was hardly any trouble at all until Castro.
Or why wasn’t Iraq like Puerto Rico? A brilliant US campaign and we occupied the island, and we still own it. And the locals prefer the current situation to any alternative—including independence.
Or even Guam? US territory to today.
Perhaps the Philippines is the proper comparison. So since the Philippines is largely democratic shouldn’t this encourage us?
And what of his claim that the separation of church and state is absolutely required for democracy? What about the Church of England? Perhaps it is just that Islam makes it impossible to have democracy. What about Turkey? Or Indonesia? What on Earth is the author talking about? There certainly aren’t many Moslem democracies, but perhaps that is the problem.
He concludes his article with some advice on what to do in Iraq:
But regardless of how many airplanes, ships, tanks, bombs or other combat power we have, if the enemy blends in with the population and initiates an insurgency, we cannot win.

In a recent article, Joseph L. Galloway of Knight-Ridder suggested that we withdraw all coalition forces into enclaves on the borders.

That way our troops no longer would be at risk and the Iraqis would have to sort out who and what they wish to become. My suggestion is to place the enclaves on the Iraqi oilfields. That way our soldiers would be safe and we would have some leverage for the Iraqis to get on with it.

We would have to be willing, of course, to accept a less than perfect democracy in Iraq as a result. But that's going to happen no matter what we do.
We don’t have to win. That is the point. We have to stand up a Shia-Kurd government with as many Sunnis as can be rounded up and have them fight the Baathists. They can fight as long as they need to in order to win. They will have no place to go in case they get tired or are defeated, so staying power won’t be an issue.
The idea that we should withdraw to the borders and watch the mayhem is ridiculous. Should we allow our new friends in Iraq to fall—once again after 1991—the Sunnis will have another century of brutal rule for sure. And haven’t we learned what our enemies will do if they have a sanctuary to plot our deaths. Or just to murder and torture their own people?
The refinement the author adds of withdrawing to enclaves controlling the oil fields is plain stupid. That will undermine claims we invaded for oil, eh? Just how would that work? Enclaves to control the oil. Occupy the ports to export it. Control the Gulf to keep it safe. Any other oil producers upset at this? Well set up enclaves to control the oil there, too, I suppose. This is foolishness disguised as hard realism. Does he really think that our troops would be safe there? Good grief, that is lunacy! We’d be Crusader, oil-stealing invaders and hopped up jihadis would flock to attack us. And see us as weak for pulling back.
Look, we are not guaranteed of getting a real democracy in Iraq. I hope the Iraqis are up to building rule of law and democracy. They need to do this and all we can do is help. They sure as heck deserve freedom after all they’ve endured. But maybe we’ll just get a decent authoritarian government in Baghdad. Maybe, like Taiwan or South Korea did, Iraq will then evolve into a real democracy in time. Anything in the continuum of democracy to not-brutal authoritarian government will be an improvement over what we’ve seen.
Given what the old ways gave us, an effort to change the rules seems in order. I want to try for democracy in Iraq. But I’ll settle for 1970s-era South Korea.
And stop pretending to know what historical precedent applies to Iraq. We won’t know that for quite some time. I’d rather spend energy winning this one on its own terms.
“Information Warfare” (Posted November 13, 2004)
Bad intelligence usually means bad information. In today’s America, the CIA is giving new meaning to that term. While the CIA has done good work in Afghanistan, some segments are dangerously insubordinate:
The White House-C.I.A. relationship became dysfunctional, and while the blame was certainly not all on one side, Langley was engaged in slow-motion, brazen insubordination, which violated all standards of honorable public service. It was also incredibly stupid, since C.I.A. officials were betting their agency on a Kerry victory.
The intelligence community likes to complain of past efforts that have hobbled them. And they have a good point. The intelligence community was handicapped unreasonably and it hindered its ability to serve the nation.
So why are elements of the intelligence community doing their best to sabotage the CIA? Do they really think that this behavior is serving the country? What is this? Some better dressed version of the KGB?
It is good that the President is putting in a loyal member of his own party in charge of the CIA. The CIA provides information—not policy. And the policymakers in the CIA need to be cleaned out. Our president needs to trust what the CIA tells him. This President cannot trust this CIA. And people will pay for this betrayal:
Nor is this feud over. C.I.A. officials are now busy undermining their new boss, Porter Goss. One senior official called one of Goss's deputies, who worked on Capitol Hill, a "Hill Puke," and said he didn't have to listen to anything the deputy said. Is this any way to run a superpower?

Meanwhile, members of Congress and people around the executive branch are wondering what President Bush is going to do to punish the mutineers. A president simply cannot allow a department or agency to go into campaign season opposition and then pay no price for it. If that happens, employees of every agency will feel free to go off and start their own little media campaigns whenever their hearts desire.

If we lived in a primitive age, the ground at Langley would be laid waste and salted, and there would be heads on spikes. As it is, the answer to the C.I.A. insubordination is not just to move a few boxes on the office flow chart.

The answer is to define carefully what the president expects from the intelligence community: information. Policy making is not the C.I.A.'s concern. It is time to reassert some harsh authority so C.I.A. employees know they must defer to the people who win elections, so they do not feel free at meetings to spout off about their contempt of the White House, so they do not go around to their counterparts from other nations and tell them to ignore American policy.

In short, people in the C.I.A. need to be reminded that the person the president sends to run their agency is going to run their agency, and that if they ever want their information to be trusted, they can't break the law with self-serving leaks of classified data.
Some CIA employees are dangerously confused about their role. They endanger the vast majority of good people who strive to do their duty. They should be ashamed of their behavior.
Clean up the CIA, soon. We need a good intelligence service that focuses on our country’s enemies—not on its political foes.
“Information Dominance” (Posted November 13, 2004)
Our troops fight with what is called information dominance. Our troops have reconnaissance assets that follow our enemies in battle and our computers let our commanders track our own troops with amazing accuracy. In conventional battle and even in battle with insurgents, we have information dominance.
But strategically, we do not have information dominance in the fight in Iraq. In the fight with the Sunni Baathists and Zarqawi Islamists, we have a severe disadvantage despite our technological superiority. Every real or imagined flaw that our press can highlight stands in contrast to the information coming from the other side. We lose two dozen while killing a thousand enemy? The press reports on the US casualties, hardly mentions the enemy casualties, and then comments that it is worrisome that we advanced so quickly since it must mean the enemy escaped. Had we moved slowly, the enemy would have been credited with superior skills and tenacity and that, too, would have been noted by the press.
I note this not to complain about the press but to remind people that we see our own flaws with a microscope and a search light that magnifies them out of proportion. The enemy dies, suffers, and worries out of the spotlight. While reading Rick Atkinson’s fittingly appropriately titled An Army at Dawn, I came across this quote from Kipling that illustrates the problem of looking for enemy weakness while your own are staring you in the face:
Man cannot tell but Allah knows
How much the other side is hurt.
Allah knows how much the enemy hurts. And Zarqawi’s audio tape hints that he knows how much his thugs are hurt.
The other side is hurt. Remember that.
“Keep Out” (Posted November 13, 2004)
That sub wandering into Japanese waters has indeed turned out to be Chinese:
Japan lodged a formal protest with Beijing on Friday after determining that a nuclear submarine which entered its territorial waters without identifying itself belonged to China — an incident that risks worsening the already cool relations between the two Asian neighbors.
The Chinese cannot be happy with Japan’s decision to publicly protest:
"It is extremely regrettable and we've lodged a protest," Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi said Friday. "In order to prevent a recurrence, we must know why this happened and we are awaiting a response from the Chinese."
The Japanese are aware of China’s growing military and fears the Chinese will be more aggressive in the region. I dare say the China would face Japanese forces should they invade Taiwan and not just US forces.
But will poking the Japanese and failing to get away with it leave a lasting impression on the Chinese? Are they so focused on regaining Taiwan that they ignore any signals that we or the Japanese send? I worry that the Chinese will talk themselves into thinking that Taiwan is an isolated “internal” issue and nobody else will care what they do with 20 million people. I’m just grateful that this is not an Army problem as long as it doesn’t escalate to the Korean peninsula. The Navy and Air Force with minor Army help would be the services to carry the burden of a war against China.
We’d have Japanese help, too, I think.
“Dawn of What?” (Posted November 13, 2004)
We can win wherever we want. But winning battles is not the end. Winning battles is the means to buy time so that Iraqi governmental and security organizations can be stood up to fight the Baathists and their foreign jihadi friends. If the Iraqi government keeps getting stronger, we are winning. If we break up the insurgents so multi-battalion operations aren’t necessary to beat the enemy, we are winning.
Fallujah has been a disaster for the insurgents:
About 1,000 insurgents had been killed and another 200 captured during the Fallujah operation, Iraq's national security adviser Qassem Dawoud said on national television
A second article notes that the enemy is trying to run:
Most of the remaining attacks by insurgents inside Fallujah have been on Marines blocking the roads and bridges leaving the city, reports show. Marines have returned fire killing numerous insurgents trying to escape, officers here said.
This is a good sign that the enemy feels defeated.
Their friends in Sunni-colonized Mosul rose up in response, but Kurdish National Guard units are going in to restore order. If Mosul is the best the enemy can do in response to our breaking them in Fallujah, it isn’t much.
The US Stryker battalion sent south to help around Fallujah is returning to the north. The article implies this will thin us out in the south but it is a sign that resistance in Fallujah is reaching a point where some troops are excess. I don’t know if there is any hard resistance left, but other than stragglers scattered in our wake who will need to be hunted down, the main body of the enemy is certainly compressed into a smaller area.
In Fallujah, the combat like this is only the necessary first part of breaking up the insurgents into small packets. We need to atomize them. This assault certainly killed or scattered them as the first article indicates:
As the U.S. Army and Marines attacked inside Fallujah from the north, the Marines' 2nd Reconnaissance Battalion blocked insurgents from fleeing. U.S. officials estimate there are about 1,000-2,000 insurgents in the towns and villages around Fallujah who were not trapped inside the city during the U.S.-Iraqi siege, which began Monday.
Inside Fallujah, we will sift the population for insurgents:
U.S. officials said they hoped the attack would be the final assault on Fallujah, followed by a house-to-house clearing operation to search for boobytraps, weapons and guerrillas hiding in the rubble.
[The second article also notes the more systematic nature of the planned sifting:
Once the battle ends, military officials say all surviving military-age men can expect to be tested for explosive residue, catalogued, checked against insurgent databases and interrogated about ties with the guerrillas. U.S. and Iraqi troops are in the midst of searching homes, and plan to check every house in the city for weapons.
This is what I’ve been talking about when I say sift the population.]
Let me also add that the Stryker unit and a Marine recon unit mentioned increases our line strength around Fallujah to 8 battalions from what I can see. Damn, that’s a lot.
Although killing and capturing so many enemy is good, body counts are not the metric of success. Convincing the Sunnis that they should not support the Sunni Baathist insurgents is the key. I complained earlier that Sunni clerics were freely calling for resistance. Well, we noticed:
With resistance in Fallujah waning, U.S. and Iraqi forces began moving against insurgent sympathizers among the country's hardline Sunni religious leadership, arresting at least four clerics and raiding offices of groups that spoke out against the assault.
Why we’ve let them get away with this behavior for so long I do not know. But we seem to be correcting that error. I sincerely hope that the prospect of having to fight on against us for years will be demoralizing to the enemy. The enemy hoped (rightly or wrongly) for a respite after our election and instead we are sending them to hell. The Islamists don’t care, of course. Not yet. But they are a small portion of the enemy. The Baathists are capable of rational calculations. The numbers don’t look good for them.
As an aside, a thug representing the Fallujah pre-martyrs said:
"We chose the path of armed jihad and say clearly that ridding Iraq of the occupation will not be done by ballots. Ayad Allawi's government ... represents the fundamentalist right-wing of the White House and not the Iraqi people," he said — a reference to Iraq's prime minister, who gave to the go-ahead for the Fallujah invasion.
Press on with elections. And the Blue State Secession movement can add Fallujah to their ranks as another region opposed to JesuslandHeh. (“Heh” is a registered trademark of Glenn Reynolds)
The view from the enemy’s side cannot be good. Zarqawi hoped to bolster morale and sent out an audio tape:
"We have no doubt that the signs of God's victory will appear on the horizon," said the speaker, who sounded like Zarqawi in the tape posted on Web sites used by Islamists.

"O you heroes of Islam in Falluja ... don't be selfish with your lives," said the voice, which the Web sites said was Zarqawi. "America and those with them felt the winds of jihad (holy war) which will shake their thrones and foundations."

"I speak to you my nation as the blood of your sons is flowing in Iraq and especially in Falluja after the onslaught of crusaders," he said
I don’t know about you, but this isn’t exactly the most inspiring of speeches. Zarqawi seems to be saying that his guys may be getting killed from one end of Fallujah to the other, but a sign from God will appear? The last time such a sign appeared in the form of a massive dust storm during the Iraq invasion, it shielded US forces as we re-supplied before driving on Baghdad. Not so much a good sign as it turned out. I can’t help but feel that Zarqawi is desperately trying to see a light at the end of the tunnel as his minions and Baathist friends are killed and captured.
And “don’t be selfish with your lives?” If Zarqawi is worried his buddies aren’t fighting, this is a good sign. This statement is bolstered by the reports of fights on the perimeter as insurgents try to escape the killing ground in Fallujah.
Parents will be eager to send their sons after that final paragraph, eh? Jihad is never as appealing when you are losing. Make sure the enemy knows they are losing. No mercy. Any easing up will be called a victory by our enemy. Beat them. Rub their dead faces in the defeat. And make sure everyone knows we beat them.
I don’t know when we will win the campaign, but this is a start. But it can’t be a long-term pattern. One sign that we are on the road to victory is when Iraqi forces alone are sent into cities to clear them. Destroying the enemy-held sanctuaries like this is a necessary step to making sure the enemy is not too tough for the still-training Iraqis to handle. If we have to do this again and again, that is a problem. Watch Mosul. Will the Iraqi National Guard units do the job of killing the Sunni insurgents, with US forces helping? Or will the US units do the job with National Guard units helping?
“Thank You” (Posted November 11, 2004)
Thank you veterans.
Because of those who have fought and come home and because of those who fought but did not come home, people like me have safe homes. Memorial Day is the time to remember those who died for us. Today, Veterans Day, we remember those who lived.
Words escape me. My gratitude is far greater than mere thanks can convey.
I am not a veteran. I served in the Army Guard as a signalman. Although my unit was alerted to be deployed in 1991, in the end we did not go. So I cannot say what it is like to leave my family and place my life between the barbarians and home. But I do remember my training. Every day in basic training, we would finish our day in formation and proclaim:
We are the warriors of Echo-3-10!
Motivated, dedicated, infantrymen!
When Sam calls us we’ll be right on time!
Kicking butt, making them toe the line!
All the way, drill sergeant! All the way!”
As long as a majority of our young people hear the words duty, honor, country, and freedom and draw inspiration from them rather than provoke scorn and cynicism, we will be just fine no matter what the challenges we may face.
“The Big Hot Thing in the Sky—Part Two” (Posted November 11, 2004)
A while back, I noted a study that noticed that a major factor in our temperature here on Earth is that big hot thing up in the sky that we call “the Sun.”
Oh yeah, you say, in the daytime it is warmer, now that you stop running simulations and think about it. Well apparently, we aren’t the only planet to be getting warmer (via Instapundit):
I can't help but wonder — if two planets so close to each other are both experiencing a rise in surface temperature, isn't it just possible that it might have to do with that nearby star they both orbit? I'm just asking is all.
But that is the problem isn’t it? Asking questions. Global warming and the politically correct response are dogmatic matters of faith for the Global Warmers. No questions are allowed about the conclusion that we are responsible, that warming is bad, and that no price is too high to fight rises in temperature.
And the “rational” global warmers mock “Jesusland,” as they derisively call the Red states.
Let me quote just one part of the article cited:
"Mars is experiencing global warming," Malin said. "And we don't know why."
Don’t know why? Well the Martians didn’t ratify Kyoto, that’s why.
I’m enjoying this way too much.
“Cat and Mouse” (Posted November 11, 2004)
The Japanese navy is tracking a submarine that penetrated Japanese territorial waters:
The submarine left Japanese waters shortly after it was spotted and a reconnaissance aircraft and destroyer were monitoring its movements, Chief Cabinet Secretary Hiroyuki Hosoda said. Tokyo also was trying to determine where the vessel came from.
The aggressiveness of the Japanese is noteworthy. Also noteworthy is this possibly related detail:
Defense officials confirmed that two Chinese military vessels — a submarine rescue vessel and a towing vessel — were spotted between Friday and Monday in waters 200 miles southeast of Japan's Tanegashima island
So, what is going on?
  1. Is it a Chinese submarine in trouble and Chinese rescue vessels are on the way to save the crew and tow the sub back home?
  2. Is it a Chinese submarine testing Japanese defenses and will; and the Chinese rescue vessels are a standby excuse to permit a graceful retreat in the face of Japanese resolve?
  3. Is it a North Korean submarine and the Chinese are sending help or providing an excuse for the North Koreans?
  4. Is the Chinese rescue force just a coincidence? In which case the sub could still be Chinese or North Korean.
  5. Is it somebody else’s submarine? Possibly American?
Strategypage thinks it is a Chinese nuclear boat since it has stayed submerged longer than a diesel-electric could and they are too embarrassed about a potential problem. Russia has denied it is one of theirs and we wouldn’t hide our identify from our ally. (Unless, I would add, we are staging a safe act of aggressive response with the Japanese to support our diplomacy against North Korea).
Regardless, the forceful Japanese response will be discouraging to Pyongyang and Peking. Even if it is an American submarine in the end, the willingness of the Japanese to defend their region is heartening for our alliance.
“Hostage Slaughterhouses” (Posted November 11, 2004)
Enemies not only plot and organize to fight us in sanctuaries, but they take the chance to run their sanctuary in the spirit of their twisted views. It doesn’t matter whether their sanctuary is a country they’ve run for years or decades or a school that they run for a few days. The enemy will kill innocents and torture and mutilate with glee no matter how small or how large their domain. As we take back Fallujah after being run by the enemy since at least May, we see what they are capable of doing (via NRO):
"We have found hostage slaughterhouses in Fallujah that were used by these people and the black clothing that they used to wear to identify themselves, hundreds of CDs and whole records with names of hostages," [Major General Abdul Qader Mohammed Jassem Mohan] said at a military camp near Fallujah.
Hostage slaughterhouses. Where they filmed the depravity for the glory of their cause.
Some people who think that fighting this war is immoral have no concept of morality or right and wrong. How can they possibly argue that we are wrong to fight these beasts?
Send the enemy to hell.
“Ask Not …” (Posted November 11, 2004)
This is what Major General Abdul Qader Mohammed Jassem Mohan, Chief of Iraqi Military Operations, had to say in his briefing with reporters about operations in Iraq. He expressed his sadness at soldiers killed in cold blood and his desire to have Iraqi soldiers equipped and trained to take up the burden that Coalition soldiers carry in the fight against the Baathists and Islamists. He added:
And from this podium, I want to say, we don't want to say what can Iraq give me or give us, but I want to say what can -- as a soldier, what can we give this country, Iraq. What we are doing as soldiers is a small price for our country.
Asking not what his country can do for him or his soldiers, but what they can do for their country.
This is the attitude that will lead to our victory over our common enemies. Send the enemy to hell.
"Class Solidarity" (Posted November 10, 2004)
Nothing here but a thought that I'm not pursuing very far at all.
Prior to World War I, Marxists thought that if war came, class solidarity would lead workers of Europe to rebel against killing fellow workers at the direction of the upper classes. Instead, nationalism trumped class and European workers happily slaughtered each other for the duration.
Today, certain elements of our country seem to have discovered class consciousness in solidarity with their European brethren and have ignored national interests. Politics no longer ends at the water's edge.
Marx would have understood what is happening.
"French Help?" (Posted November 10, 2004)
As our troops go into Fallujah, the Sunni Arab world is focused on Arafat's lingering death in France.
Are the French doing this to help us divert attention from Fallujah?
Or are they just trying to suck up to the next Palestinian ruler?
Perhaps the question answers itself. Or, as is more likely, the French are telling Washington and Ramallah separately that Chirac is helping each.
"Fallujah Dawn" (Posted November 10, 2004)
The situation in Fallujah is unclear. We are moving rapidly, but why? Is it because, as the press has it, that we are thrashing air? Or is this Strategypage post accurate?
American and Iraqi troops have cleared hostile gunmen from most of Fallujah, losing about twenty dead in three days of fighting. Enemy dead are over 500, with many uncounted bodies blown apart by bombs or buried in rubble.
Strategypage also credits 3 Marine battalions and 2 Army battalions to the battle. (via Belmont Club) credits 4 Marine and 2 Army battalions in the assault. We are going in quite heavy. I didn't think more than 4 battalions total would do the job.
Belmont club also notes that we have succeeded in pinning the enemy against the Euphrates. This report cites a Marine officer:
U.S. troops and their Iraqi allies have essentially paralyzed the insurgent forces in Fallujah and cut off their escape routes from the city, the senior U.S. Marine commander there said Wednesday.
This is good since we can go for a battle of annihilation against anyone trapped in there.
Of course, a lot could have escaped already apparently. If so, does this mean that extensive planning and telegraphing your punches are wrong?
Whether we kill all or part of the enemy holding in Fallujah, ending this sanctuary is important to winning the battle for Iraq. Atomize the enemy and we won't need to send in multi-battalion assaults.
Although it is unclear what is happening, this is good, too. The enemy probably relies on CNN for intelligence reports and there is no need to let the enemy know how bad it is until it is too late. This also makes it more difficult to rally press coverage that might put pressure on the Coalition to halt offensive operations before we do kill the enemy.
What is clear is that our troops and the Iraqis are fighting well. I'm content to wait for the details under the circumstances.
I have to ask why the Iraqis called this al Fajr (the Dawn). During the Iran-Iraq War the Iranians had a whole series of Dawn offensives that attempted to break the Iraqi lines.
“Operation Phantom Fury” (Posted November 8, 2004)
US forces backed by Iraqis are moving into Fallujah.
We’ve seized western bridges over the Euphrates blocking that escape route. We’ve captured the main hospital so that we won’t hear the same propaganda of purported dead women and children from every strike.
We need to eliminate all sanctuaries so that the Iraqi security forces will face atomized resistance and not Baathists able to mass and overrun police posts. As long as sanctuaries allow insurgents to safely plan and mass forces, we will always face situations where local lightly armed Iraqi police are hit by overwhelming numbers that no police force could withstand.
I am astounded that Sunni organizations are allowed to issue propaganda favoring the enemy during war. With a state of emergency declared, people urging the enemy to fight or urging government soldiers to desert or threatening government soldiers with death should be arrested. Period. This is not an issue of freedom of speech. An earlier version of this article noted that the idiot Sadr was spouting off in support of the Fallujah insurgents. Wasn’t his last defeat the signal he was joining the political struggle? Yeah, right. Sadr should have been killed or imprisoned long ago. It is still not too late to correct this error.
It is of some concern that Iraqi units are suffering desertion. NPR reported on one Iraqi unit, anyway. Although it should be noted that the same article notes without the same level of dire implications that enemy forces have run or may desert. Enemy forces that don’t stand and fight are described as “slipping away.” Remember that if reporters were embedded with the enemy and they were able to report accurately, they’d likely be reporting heavy casualties, disappearing troops, and a bunch of really scared guys looking for death to visit them from 360 degrees day or night. And as I noted to start, part of this problem stems from the fact that sanctuaries exist. Combined with the experience and training advantage that the Baathists have over the new Shia and Kurd security forces, this sanctuary problem increases the chance that government soldiers will shirk their duty. If we atomize the insurgents, government soldiers and police will be less likely to desert since they will not fear large attacks they can’t handle.
Although a figure of 10,000 US marines and soldiers is mentioned, and television news reporting up to 15,000, it seems unlikely that such a large proportion of our combat troops in Iraq are really involved. An entire US division of 9-10 line battalions would number 15,000-20,000. I’ve seen specific mention of only two Marine battalions and an Army battalion involved thus far. Three reinforced US battalions seems about right given past experience in taking cities. Maybe a fourth line battalion could be involved given the stakes involved. But talking about higher numbers of troops that may very well be support troops and implying that they are line troops assaulting Fallujah is probably intended to scare the defenders and may add to the sense of overwhelming power and inevitable US victory that we’d like to instill in the enemy. They should be scared enough of 3 or 4 battalions. If a division really is assaulting Fallujah, the enemy should be scared beyond belief.
I will end with Allawi’s pep talk to Iraqi troops:
Before the main assault, Allawi visited the main U.S. base outside Fallujah to rally Iraqi troops.

"The people of Fallujah have been taken hostage ... and you need to free them from their grip," he told the soldiers at the camp, who swarmed around him when he arrived. "Your job is to arrest the killers but if you kill them, then so be it."

"May they go to hell!" the soldiers shouted, and Allawi replied: "To hell they will go."
Send the enemy to hell. They deserve no less.
“Lighter and Protected” (Posted November 8, 2004)
One of the reasons I’ve liked heavy armor is that it provides protection when such a vehicle is hit. Well, duh, you say. But in the past, when the enemy isn’t shooting at you and all that bulk is a logistical nuisance, faith in speed has supplanted faith in armor in building vehicles. So plans for a future combat system (FCS) that will be light enough to be deployed overseas rapidly in decent numbers yet robust enough to survive enemy fire seem a little optimistic. I’ve expressed this doubt before.
Electric armor could be one of the ways to provide protection and lightness. I’ve read a little about this over the years and it does seem to work in tests. From Strategypage:
Over the longer term, the Army is looking towards electronically "charged" armor protection. The protection scheme would be composed of an outside armored plate, a spaced gap, and an inner charged plate. Shaped charges are essentially hot streams of metal traveling at (very) rapid speed to penetrate armor. A shaped charge from an RPG or other antitank weapon would detonate, penetrate the outer armor plate, and the hot metal stream would make contact with the charged inner plate, forming an electrical circuit that ends up splattering the metal across the inner plate rather than breaking through into the hull of the vehicle.

Charged armor is a better solution than reactive armor, as it is both lighter than reactive and also non-threatening to nearby infantry. At least two manufacturers have successfully demonstrated charged armor solutions, one retrofitting a Bradley AFV with a large capacitor to charge the inner hull plate. One manufacturer has demonstrated that the Bradley charged armor can take multiple RPG hits onto the same section of the hull without penetration and was willing to show a short demonstration film to those of the proper security clearance. In theory, charged armor should work equally well against weapons with larger shaped charge warheads, but the manufacturer would not comment on any tests done in that area. Ideally, charged armor would be an integrated solution as a part of a hybrid-electric vehicle. Power would be available from the vehicle to charge the armor for protection and installing the equipment would not require an expensive rebuild from the ground up. – Doug Mohney
Of course, even if such armor works against large tank-fired shaped charge rounds, would it work against kinetic energy rounds? Enemy tanks firing large kinetic energy rounds could slice through even electric armor, it seems. In theory, if you can take care of infantry-carried shape-charged rounds, you’ve taken out the most significant threat to our vehicles that we’ve faced recently. Enemy tanks are much more visible and much more vulnerable to our missile and tube artillery and air power. As long as we can maintain continuous surveillance over the battlefield to coordinate that firepower, we can kill them far from our light FCS. Light FCS that can operate near infantry-carried rocket launchers and missiles and survive the first shot because of electric armor or other exotic defenses will be able to fight enemy armor successfully if we can decimate enemy tanks and other armor before they can get close to our light FCS. If we can’t do that, we would have to rely on getting off the first shots in any FCS-tank battle. If a sufficiently large enemy tank force gets the first shots in during a tank battle, we will lose heavily.
My question therefore is this: even if electric armor and other active defenses reduce the threat of infantry-held anti-tank weapons, can we assume that we will always be able to kill heavier enemy systems far from our FCS? Can we attrite the enemy enough so that by the time the battle gets to line of sight, our FCS can smash the survivors of our air and artillery onslaught? What if our enemy can nullify our space assets? What if we face an enemy that can blind our battlefield surveillance? What if our enemy has an air force that can challenge us? What if our enemy has air defenses able to keep our planes at bay? They only have to do any of these things for a little while in order to allow their forces to close with ours and engage in direct combat.
What if sheer bulk of modern armor still has a use and our FCS that have electric armor only face enemy heavy tanks that have electric armor? Enemies that will fight in their own region can afford such vehicles. Why would they lighten their armor when they don’t have to move them overseas? Such “evolved dinosaurs” would have a decided advantage against our agile little mammals with no passive protection to ward off 125mm or 140mm darts that would slice through the FCS.
I am not raising these questions as a blind defense to the Abrams. Despite their bulk, they remain vulnerable outside of the frontal arc where armor is heaviest. They can be defeated with top-attack rounds fired by missiles passing over them. So as is, our current armor is not sufficient. But I do think that our thinking about lightness and protection assumes we will be able to fight with air, naval, and ground firepower easily and massively directed against the enemy.
I’m just not comfortable assuming that our enemies will fail to counter this advantage.
I will say that the stability campaign in Iraq following the defeat of Iraq’s military has reminded our military that armor is still valuable. So this lesson will be incorporated into the design of our FCS. I guess I’m willing to entertain the idea that the age of heavy armor is nearly over. But I still need to be persuaded.
“Iranian Intentions” (Posted November 7, 2004)
Via Winds of Change, a link to this article about Iran’s parliamentary vote to proceed with uranium enrichment. The Iranians assure us that they are simply doing this for economic purposes.
Yet there is this small detail:
Some lawmakers broke out with shouts of "Death to America!" after the conservative-dominated parliament [error snipped] voted to advance the nation's nuclear program, an issue of national pride that provides a rare point of agreement between conservatives and reformers.
Yeah. We can work with these people. Right?
Certainly, the Europeans are eager to surrender something to someone:
In two rounds of talks in Vienna, Austria, the Europeans offered Iran a trade deal and peaceful nuclear technology — including a light-water research reactor — in return for assurances Iran would indefinitely stop enriching uranium.
I can’t believe the Europeans seriously believe that any nuclear technology is safe in the hands of the mullahs. Amazingly, even the British feel that military action against the mullahs is “inconceivable.”
I’d feel a lot better about this analysis if the Europeans were number one in the target list. I imagine the mullahs just assume Europe will be cowed by nuclear attacks against others. Why would the Islamists nuke Europe when they think they’ll take over Europe in a century anyway?
I trust dealing with Iran before they get nukes is not, in fact, inconceivable to our government. Or maybe a revolt doesn’t count.
"Intervening in Iran" (Posted November 7, 2004)
Iran must be next in our sights. It is both a threat in its own right because of the mullahs’ support for terrorism generally and pursuit of nuclear missiles, and because of Tehran’s support for anti-American fighters in Iraq.
Could we successfully strike Iran’s nuclear facilities by air attack? Could Israel? Israel could strike once but a multi-day campaign is beyond their ability I think. Maybe we could, but I am not confident that we know everything Iran has and if we strike, Iran will rebuild a nuclear threat quietly and then use it against the US or Israel as soon as they are ready. Use it or lose it will be the order of the day in Tehran with deterrence served by uncertainty about whether the Iranians have more nukes.
Despite the dangers of a nuclear-armed Iran, I would not want to conduct a pure invasion as the solution. Iran is much larger than Iraq in land area and population and the terrain is mountainous between Tehran and the Iraq border. It is not well suited to an armored and airmobile blitz. And the Iranian military is not a negligible force in this terrain and given what we would need to do.
Iran’s army is deployed as follows:
First Army Headquarters

Second Army Headquarters

Third Army Headquarters

28th Mechanized Division

84th Mechanized Division

18th Armored Division

81st Armored Division

88th Armored Division

30th Infantry Division

40th Infantry Division

58th Infantry Division

64th Infantry Division
Bandar 'E Mah Shahr

77th Infantry Division

23rd Special Forces Division

55th Parachute Division

351st SSM Brigade

Major Pasdaran (Revolutionary Guards) units are deployed:
1st IRGC Infantry Division

2nd IRGC Infantry Division

1st IRGC Armored Division

2nd IRGC Armored Division

1st IRGC Engineering Division

U/I independent infantry brigade

U/I independent infantry brigade

U/I independent infantry brigade

U/I independent infantry brigade

U/I independent infantry brigade

I’ll assume brigades are deployed west and south generally, to cover the Strait of Hormuz and the Afghan and Pakistani borders. Red are regular army forces. Brown are Pasdaran.

[map of proposed intervention--I can't upload from my computer for some reason on Blogger. See the Internet Archive for the map if you wish]

I won’t even bother tracking Iranian air and naval elements. They will be toast in about 5 minutes when we strike.
So just what the heck can we do with this? That’s a lot of stuff to fight. And it won’t collapse like the Iraqi regulars if it remains loyal. We’re talking three times the number of reliable Iraqi Republican Guards we defeated in 2003.
If we invade, I’d generally have air strikes taking out the nuclear and missile sites as the invasion went on. This would be some insurance that we accomplish something even if the invasion fails. Small forces out of Afghanistan could hit targets in the east. Marines would need to secure the entrance to the Gulf to keep the Iranians from shutting down all Gulf oil exports for the duration. The British-led division in the south would need to keep on its toes to block any Iranian counter-attack into Iraq. Basra was a magnet during the 1980s Iran-Iraq War after all. Further north, the communications hub of Dezful should be seized to stop forces from the south from rushing north to defend the regime. Forces could go through Esfahan too but it would take more time and put those forces on the road longer where they’d be vulnerable to air attack.
The northernmost line would guard the flank of the main (green) drive and support the main effort if it bogs down.
The main effort from the center would drive over the mountains to grab Tehran and dump the mullahs into the dustbin of history.
But occupying a country of what, 75 million?, would not be easy. We don’t have the troops and our allies aren’t about to help. Heck, once Iran’s missiles and nukes are out of the way, Europe can go back to doing their part in the war by banning head scarves or something equally valuable. Their minds are only minimally focused today with the thought of Iranian nuclear missiles in range. And who’d keep the Kurds of Iran from rising up and tempting Iraq’s Kurds to join or emulate them?
We simply don’t have the troops to invade and occupy Iran even under cover of rotating troops into Iraq.
Like I said, an invasion straight up is right out.
Still, the general outline is useful if we are supporting an armed Iranian uprising. Have we been preparing for intervening in such an uprising? Have we been working to insure such an uprising takes place?
I don’t know, but Iran is a member of the Axis of Evil and we clearly have been working on North Korea even as we fought in Afghanistan and Iraq. We have organized North Korea’s neighbors for talks to pressure Pyongyang to give up nukes. We have organized allied naval powers to practice intercepting shipments of nuclear weapons or components. We all know who the target is. We have decided to move our 2nd ID off of the DMZ to a safer (and more effective) reserve position. We’ve beefed up air power in the region. We’ve deployed land- and sea-based anti-missile defenses in the area to protect South Korea and Japan. We’ve started missile defense installations in Alaska and California in case the Pillsbury Nuke Boy gets ambitiously murderous beyond his neighborhood. Once, destroying Seoul was good enough. I don’t trust that they won’t look to Los Angeles soon. All this preparation against North Korea we can see and all is directed against the Axis of Evil member we cannot invade and cannot overthrow. We’re prepared to wait out their collapse and pen them in. And defeat them should they attack.
So is it safe to assume that we are working on plans to deal with the third member of the Axis of Evil? I think so. And what are we doing? I’ve read we are working on missile defense shields between Iran and Europe. We’ve cooperated with the Israelis to bolster their own missile defenses. We’ve sold bombs designed to take out buried installations to Israel. We have our own power deployed just about 360 degrees around Tehran. We’re topping off our strategic petroleum reserve. We’ve kept Iranian rebels concentrated inside Iraq for the last 1-1/2 years instead of disbanding them. And… what else? This array of defensive efforts, apparent attempt to subcontract a disarming air strike to the Israelis, and support for external regime opponents that could never on their own even remotely threaten the regime seems like a diversion. It seems like we are covering our bases in case we must try to contain Iran if all else fails and/or we are trying to conceal our true aim.
With Special Operations Command a supported command able to direct its own operations and closer cooperation with the CIA, will the snake eater use the money I recently read was appropriated to them by Congress without running the request back to Washington for buying local allies in Iran? Will Iranian generals and colonels get some walking around money to persuade them to do what is right? We know the Iranian people are unhappy with the mullahs in large numbers. Wouldn’t it make just a little sense that the US government has used the last couple years laying the ground work for a revolt by the Iranian military? When I’ve seen reports that the regular military and even elements of the Pasdaran are not trusted by the mullahs?
When Iran could go nuclear anytime from next week to the next few years? And we don’t know when?
Do you really think we’ve done nothing? Was the Axis of Evil speech meaningless in directing our efforts?
I’m betting on a student revolt and armed uprising by elements of the Iranian military to be supported by US special forces, air power, and a handful of brigades (like up to five) to provide support to hammer any military units that remain loyal to Tehran. And to destroy Iran’s nuclear facilities, of course.
So using the same arrows, we have US operations in the south and east as above. And the major thrust lines are spearheaded by revolting Iranian units that open the way for US troops to march with them on Tehran. The prospect of US troops, air power, and money will help the Iranians move with us. And will terrify units not absolutely loyal to the mullahs.
With Iranian military units on our side, the post-conflict stabilization mission will be taken care of by Iranians. We’ll have those MEK guys with our units for translators and liaison. We’ll pound the Iranian nuke facilities from the air.
I don’t believe we’d risk containing Iran as we will with North Korea. I don’t believe we’d subcontract the hit to the Israelis. I don’t believe we’d carry out an air campaign because even with our much greater power, we couldn’t be sure of getting everything from the air.
I believe we’ve been working on fomenting a coup that will topple the Iranian nutball mullahs before they go nuclear. I think we will support them with troops. With extra troops going in to help with the Iraq election, our troop strength in Iraq will be higher in the new year. Perhaps some of the Marines that rotated out of the Fallujah area will not head back to the US so fast.
I am really guessing freely here. But I don’t believe we’ve done nothing. I don’t believe we’re relying on others to protect us from the Iranian threat.
Does it start next month? January? February?
I don’t know when. But regime change in Tehran soon. That’s our only option to keep Tehran from going nuclear.
God help us. But we’re not done defending ourselves. I don’t want to retaliate after we lose Charleston in a nuclear fireball.
Battle for Fallujah” (Posted November 6, 2004)
I have harped on the need to end insurgent sanctuaries. From these locations, terrorists can rest, train, and fan out to kill Iraqis and Coalition allies with a relatively safe place to return. Fallujah especially has been a thorn in our side and has made the Baghdad area a dangerous place. Luring the terrorists into one place where they can be killed sounds good in theory, but I don’t like what we’ve endured the last 7 months with the Fallujah sanctuary intake.
We are finally getting ready to take the city and turn it over to Iraqi government authority.
An important post-battle task is to sift the population and arrest anybody even suspected of being an insurgent and then investigate them before releasing them. The attacks on Iraqi security forces in Samarra shows that it is important to clean up the scum who remain hidden after the assault.
The battle for Fallujah (round two) will be more costly than past battles in cities. From Strategypage:
The most professional and experienced anti-government gunmen are in Fallujah, and they have developed many countermeasures for the coalition advantages.
It is also noted:
Many of the fighters are there for a paycheck, others are caught up in the excitement of it all. Few are professional soldiers. Enthusiasm without discipline and training just gets you killed in combat. Fallujah will see dozens of Americans killed, but the death toll on the other side will be much higher. We know that because this battle has been fought many times before. Not many surprises, although some intrepid reporters will try to invent a few. 
I guess one has support in the same article for the argument that we will face the A-team or that we will face idiots.
Personally, I think these guys will be tougher than the Islamists amateurs we knocked down in the initial invasion and in Sadr’s two revolts. They have had time to prepare. Most are Baathists who have some inkling of how to organize a defense. Some are probably fairly proficient in tactics. They may also feel they have nowhere to retreat to if we truly have them cut off. When the eemy has a task that is no more complicated than dying in place while taking as many of us as possible, the enemy has a relatively simple task. The Islamists will add suicidal courage. Car bombs will try to ram us and the terrorists will try to place civilians in danger to blame us.
Still, we have courage, skill, firepower, armor, command and control, and precision. Our Marines also probably want payback for holding back in April and for the Marines barracks bombing in Beirut two decades ago. Some of those Islamists are the much younger comrades of the suicide bomber who killed nearly 250 Marines while they slept. No mercy, there. We will kill off the enemy in large numbers. We can show no mercy and must kill them so hard that even those not at Fallujah will wet their pants at the thought of fighting our troops. None should escape. I’m not happy that we’ve let a sanctuary live this long, but as long as they massed in Fallujah, we must take the opportunity to kill them all. And do it fast. Speed is a weapons and we need to use it.
Also note that when we have an insurgent outpost that helps Baathists and Islamists kill Iraqis and Americans, Kofi Annan is firmly on the side of the Baathists and Islamists:
Secretary-General Kofi Annan has warned leaders of the United States, Britain and Iraq that another full-scale assault on the rebel-held city of Fallouja would further alienate Iraqis and disrupt elections planned for January.
Annan is worried that the Sunnis will get mad and boycott the elections in January. Sadly, our enemies have a sanctuary in New York City, too, with a big blue flag flying over it. The Iraqis, US, and Britain rejected the UN advice to leave Fallujah alone with some anger.
Amazing. The Sunnis are killing as fast as they can to restore the glory days of easy killing and good living at the expense of the Shias and Kurds, and the UN chief is worried about Sunnis sensibilities? The Sunnis should be thanking God and America that they will be allowed to vote at all! The Sunnis should be worried that the Shias will get even madder that their former overlords are daring to kill Shias even now with enthusiasm. Just how stupid and brutal are the Sunnis willing to be? How stupid is the international community to believe that the responsibility of reaching out lies with the former victims?
The elections should go forward in January and the Sunnis should know that they can vote or not, and we don’t care which path they choose. If they want to fight an increasingly powerful Shia-Kurdish government, they are welcome to their fate. Because their best chance at Sunni prosperity is to join the system while America is there to help them get in. Once we pull back, the long-suffering Shias and Kurds are unlikely to be generous. The Shia-dominated government can appoint friendly officials to run the Sunni areas and send the benefits to the growing numbers of Sunnis that will prefer peace. The rest will be arrested or killed, and the Sunnis will dream of the luxuries of Gitmo or Abu Ghraib under American control. We should reject Sunni offers short of outright surrender to us.
The UN may remain, but at least we can send troops into Fallujah to end this sanctuary. But I fear this will be bloodier than it could have been had we finished the job in April. We’ll never know if the feared repercussions of continuing the conquest in April would have arisen, so I can’t second guess too harshly. Still, my gut feeling is that we erred and reversing that error will cost us the lives of more Americans and Iraqis.
This isn’t the final battle. But it is a necessary one.
“The War in Iraq” (Posted November 4, 2004)
With the election here over, our offensive in Iraq will continue.
Most narrowly, Fallujah is about to be attacked. Apparently, Iraqi government negotiators have been working on the residents to get the non-foreigners to surrender before American Marines and free Iraqis go in shooting. Although some suspect we’ve held off to avoid bloodshed before our presidential election, the assault on Samarrah seems to contradict that assumption. Still, being poised to assault for so long may have pinned the Fallujah thugs in place as they braced for our assault—taking them out of the picture as a pre-election factor. Perhaps the military planned a post-election assault all along to demonstrate resolve regardless of who won over here. Or perhaps this is over-analyzing and it really is just waiting for negotiations to fail as the Iraqi government judges it.
I’m not too worried as smaller contingents such as Hungary’s prepare to go. These were most important in the gap between the fall of Baghdad and the creation of effective free Iraqi security units. I’m grateful that they took part when they did. We appear to be chugging out effective Iraqis so just as we will phase our troops in time, it is not surprising that our allies will see their role waning.
I disagree with the idea that we are looking for an exit strategy. I’ve long argued that we need to push Iraqis to the front for their own security and pull our guys back to desert bases as a reserve and to shield Iraq from foreign conventional threats. This is not the same as an exit strategy. Perhaps I’m being overly sensitive but “exit strategy” seems to be used by many as a plausible reason to bug out without calling it a defeat. I prefer to focus on victory, and standing up an effective Iraqi security force that can replace our troops is the proper method of achieving victory—not an exit.
“Will Europe Be Conquered from Within?” (Posted November 4, 2004)
The prospect of Europe becoming Islamic by the end of the century is, I think, overblown.
Do I deny the demographic trends taking place right now? Certainly not. Facts are facts. Crimes such as this seem to be a frightening glimpse of things to come:
Friends and associates said van Gogh had received anonymous death threats after Dutch television aired his controversial short film "Submission" in August. The film featured four women who claimed to have been abused by their Muslim husbands and who wore see-through robes showing their breasts, with texts from the Koran scrawled on their bodies.

It was the second political killing to shake this socially tolerant European country in recent years. Pim Fortuyn, an openly gay politician critical of open immigration and Islam, was gunned down in May 2002 by an environmental activist who labeled Fortuyn a "danger" to society.

Tuesday's killing set off a new round of soul-searching and dismay among many people in the Netherlands. "There is a climate that sees people resorting to violence -- that is worrying," Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende said at a news conference in Amsterdam.

He called van Gogh "a champion of the freedom of speech" and warned against polarization and intolerance in Dutch society. "On a day like this, we are reminded of the murder of Fortuyn," he added. "We cannot allow bullets to rule our society because then dialogue is impossible."
A strange Green-Green alliance that seeks to stifle debate over the impact of unassimilated Moslems in Europe grips Europe and prevents constructive responses.
Lack of assimilation if these Moslems and the various no-go zones in European cities from France to Sweden seem to argue that the Moslems will change Europe and take over in the face of soft Europeans who will allow themselves to be killed off and kicked out of power.
I think history teaches us something else. This is not the first time that Europeans have seemed soft. Edward Creasy, in 1851, wrote, "It is an honorable characteristic of the spirit of this age, that projects of violence and warfare are regarded among civilized states with gradually increasing aversion." These are the people who had another round of colony grabbing and two world wars of immense slaughter ahead of them. The Europeans got over that aversion to violence and warfare with some enthusiasm. Or at least skill.
I think history teaches us that the continent that has organized violence with the most skill and enthusiasm of anybody else will react to the threat of Islam gunning them down in their homes with sustained violence until they win. If Islam thinks they will take Europe from within, they will find that Europeans will be ruthless (again) in their own defense. And the EU will make sure the defense will be coordinated and not ripe for playing one European state off another as the Islamic world did for so long when Islam was far stronger than they are today.
A speech on Islamic immigrants in Europe (via NRO) shows that some in Europe see the problem as something more significant than their own lack of sensitivity to Moslems. Interestingly enough, this was a Dutch EU Commisioner:
Comparisons made by Bolkestein to the collapse of the Austro-Hungarian Empire and the 1683 Battle of Vienna will turn the heat up on commission and EU discussions on Turkey.

“The American Islam expert Bernard Lewis has said that Europe will be Islamic at the end of this century,” he said.

“I do not know if this is right, or whether it will be at that speed, but if he is right, the liberation of Vienna in 1683 would have been in vain.”

The Dutch commissioner’s lurid imagery – the collapse of an empire that triggered WW1 and the decisive 17th century battle between Christians and Muslims in religious wars for the heart of Europe – has been played down by his spokesman.
Of course, right now the deadening hand of the EU attempts to slap this down. The commissioner’s own spokesman backpedaled.
But as the threat from within increases, the people that dominated the world for four-and-a-half centuries will not just die off passively. Just as the generations that followed Creasy’s era waged terrible wars, the current generation of soft Europeans will become hardened by murders and crimes that fewer and fewer will excuse in the name of multi-cultural tolerance.
Not that this is comforting to me. We may not have a worst-case Moslem Europe taking over the nuclear arsenals and technology of Europe on our hands, but we won’t particularly like the dictatorial EU that will wage war against its own Moslems—and possibly against stronger Moslem powers that will see the struggle within Europe as part of a clash of civilizations.
I’d rather Europe confront this problem now while it can be handled with less draconian measures. But one way or another, Europe will confront it. All the more reason we need to succeed in moderating the Moslem world before that confrontation takes place.
“The Big Unit Army” (Posted November 2, 2004)
The Army is reorganizing to incorporate the tremendous advances in firepower, precision, and communications that we’ve seen hints of in Kosovo, Afghanistan, and Iraq. Smaller brigades with a higher proportion of recon elements to help with calling in distant firepower are the building blocks of the Future Force.
We must make the Army better able to handle a longer war by providing sufficient units for rotations; and we must reduce the stress on the National Guard and restore it to a reserve force as much as we can.
In making this chart, I am assuming the reorganization of the active brigades into the new style brigade combat teams (units of action, or UAs), therefore adding ten brigades to make the total 43 active brigade combat teams (UAs). I am further assuming a general reduction in Guard units to 30 brigades and then reorganization into the new style to create 41 brigades.
These 84 brigade combat teams (UAs) need to be ready to respond quickly to a major theater war; handle a major theater war that lasts more than a year; and provide power for defeating a larger and/or more capable opponent in a limited theater. Something on the order of a general ground war against China would require a draft to create large numbers of new ground units. This is the only circumstance that seems likely to require a draft.
I think the active component is best suited to rapid reaction; the National Guard’s enhanced separate brigades which are kept at higher standards of readiness can provide the help for a rotation force to reinforce the active component and to provide heavy forces to lighter active units; and the Guard divisions which take some time to train up to standards should be a reserve force for a big war such as a Korean War with Chinese intervention, for example.
Since the Iraq War showed that our heavy forces can handle a lot of less proficient enemies as long as we have air power in support, I’ve converted two active heavy divisions (1st and 2nd ID) to motorized infantry divisions. I’ve converted our two light infantry divisions (25th  ID and 10th Mountain) into motorized infantry divisions. With our two airborne divisions, these four motorized divisions provide a good-sized mobile infantry force able to handle some heavy combat with air power and attaching a Guard heavy brigade to stiffen them. Three active Marine divisions provide additional infantry.
The Guard will retain a good portion of the heavy forces as a war reserve force.
In general, the light divisions are just gone. Other than the paratroopers, I just don’t see much use for tactically immobile foot infantry in this day and age.
So this is how I’d organize the conventional total force:

Active Army Brigades
ARNG Brigades
1 ID



2 ID



3 ID

4 ID

10 Mtn



25 ID



1 AD


82 AB



101 AA



7 ID+


24 ID+


28 ID


29 ID

34 ID

35 ID***

38 ID***

40 ID


42 ID


49 AD





ARNG=Army National Guard; AA=air assault; AB=airborne; AD=armored division; ESB=enhanced separate brigade; CAV=cavalry; DIV=division; HVY=heavy (armor and mechanized infantry); ID=infantry division; MOT=motorized infantry; Mtn=mountain; SRK=Stryker brigade.
* An Armored Cavalry Regiment
** Alaska Scouts
*** Support divisions that, as I understand it, would be largely service units to help combat units deploy. They are still divisions to avoid the sensitive subject of reducing the number of Guard divisions.
+ Integrated divisions.
For what it is worth, this is how I would like to organize the Army to handle conventional threats. Special forces are a different animal altogether. This post builds on an article that I wrote for Military Review in 2000 that attempted to build flexibility for the conflict spectrum and rotation with more but smaller divisions.
“Happy Islamist Friends are Trying to Kill Us!” (Posted November 1, 2004)
We’ve seen how the mainstream press does not like to call terrorists “terrorists.” They can be “militants” or “dissidents” or “insurgents” or downright positive terms, but rarely are they called terrorists.
Now I’m on record as saying I’m not too upset since whatever they are called, readers and listeners will learn to associate whatever they are called with beheadings, and dead little kids, and scraping human remains from walls.
But while I am not worried that failure to call terrorists what they are will confuse us, the idea that we shouldn’t offend pro-terrorist sensibilities in this fashion is highly annoying. Or people are worried that since so many terrorists are Islamic, we might associate Islam with terror. To fight these silly arguments alone, this practice should not stand. I truly agree that we are not in a war with Islam but with Islamist nutballs. But why should Islam generally be upset that we point out that, yes indeed, a bunch of the worst terrorists around are Islamic? Or they claim to defend Islam anyway. Moslems would do better for their image to show more indignation over terror attacks than they show over the use of the word “terrorist” when applied to Moslem men who kill civilians with strap-on bombs.
So here’s my suggestion. Why don’t we call all militants/insurgents/dissidents/whatever, “Happy Islamist Friends”? What a positive name! How can anybody object to such a happy term?
Let’s try it out! This article will do. Let’s just highlight the relevant paragraphs that use the euphemisms:
Muslims Feel Militants Have Gone Too Far

BAGHDAD, Iraq - Its name means "the Arab one," but that didn't spare Al-Arabiya television from attack by insurgents who perceive it as pro-Western.

The Saudi-owned satellite station lost five Iraqi employees when a car bomb exploded Saturday at its Baghdad bureau. It was one of several recent operations — militant groups have also kidnapped women and killed Muslims — that are drawing criticism as "un-Islamic."

In most claims of responsibility for attacks, militants attempt to link Arab and Muslim targets to the U.S.-run coalition. However, many Iraqis and other Arabs believe the motive is to bring political pressure. Some think the militants have lost focus.

In a region where freedom of speech is not universally accepted, Al-Arabiya has broadcast statements by militants and has drawn criticism from U.S. officials for alleged anti-American bias.

Soon after the Saturday car bombing, an Islamic militant group claimed responsibility for the attack, calling the network "the mouthpiece of American occupation in Iraq." Islamist Web sites heralded the attack, some calling the channel "Al-Ibriya" — the Hebrew One — instead of Al-Arabiya.

Saudi columnist Khaled al-Maeena said some of the actions of militant groups in Iraq "are alien to the very ideology they profess to possess."

"They are taking their anger out on anything they can find," Kohlmann said of the insurgents. "I don't know where it's coming from, but it's horrifying when it's unleashed. It's like they are so enraged that they've lost total focus on who's the enemy."

No group has claimed responsibility for her abduction. However, Hassan's appearance on videotapes begging for British troops to leave Iraq suggested she was taken by insurgents.

Abdulla said it appeared the shadowy groups were aiming for "soft targets" like women and children, "because it's shocking and they are after more exposure and publicity. The cost is minimal and the payoff is huge."

Diaa Rashwan, an Egyptian expert on Islamic militancy based in Cairo, blamed the U.S.-led occupation for feeding "inexplicable extremism." Even though the Americans transferred sovereignty to the Iraqis in June, the presence of about 140,000 U.S. troops makes that move appear hollow.

"When you enter the Islamist Web sites and you find those militants saying 'In the name of God and Islam,' what Islam are they talking about?" she asked.
Wow! This is a target-rich environement! “Terrorism” was used once when referring to a “terrorism expert” so that doesn’t quite count as sanity. But let’s see what these snips look like in my alternative universe:
Muslims Feel Happy Islamist Friends Have Gone Too Far

BAGHDAD, Iraq - Its name means "the Arab one," but that didn't spare Al-Arabiya television from attack by Happy Islamist Friends who perceive it as pro-Western.

The Saudi-owned satellite station lost five Iraqi employees when a car bomb exploded Saturday at its Baghdad bureau. It was one of several recent operations — Happy Islamist Friends groups have also kidnapped women and killed Muslims — that are drawing criticism as "un-Islamic."

In most claims of responsibility for attacks, Happy Islamist Friends attempt to link Arab and Muslim targets to the U.S.-run coalition. However, many Iraqis and other Arabs believe the motive is to bring political pressure. Some think the Happy Islamist Friends have lost focus.

In a region where freedom of speech is not universally accepted, Al-Arabiya has broadcast statements by Happy Islamist Friends and has drawn criticism from U.S. officials for alleged anti-American bias.

Soon after the Saturday car bombing, an Islamic Happy Islamist Friends group claimed responsibility for the attack, calling the network "the mouthpiece of American occupation in Iraq." Islamist Web sites heralded the attack, some calling the channel "Al-Ibriya" — the Hebrew One — instead of Al-Arabiya.

Saudi columnist Khaled al-Maeena said some of the actions of Happy Islamist Friends groups in Iraq "are alien to the very ideology they profess to possess."

"They are taking their anger out on anything they can find," Kohlmann said of the Happy Islamist Friends. "I don't know where it's coming from, but it's horrifying when it's unleashed. It's like they are so enraged that they've lost total focus on who's the enemy."

No group has claimed responsibility for her abduction. However, Hassan's appearance on videotapes begging for British troops to leave Iraq suggested she was taken by Happy Islamist Friends.

Abdulla said it appeared the Happy Islamist Friends groups were aiming for "soft targets" like women and children, "because it's shocking and they are after more exposure and publicity. The cost is minimal and the payoff is huge."

Diaa Rashwan, an Egyptian expert on Happy Islamist Friendship based in Cairo, blamed the U.S.-led occupation for feeding "inexplicable extremism." Even though the Americans transferred sovereignty to the Iraqis in June, the presence of about 140,000 U.S. troops makes that move appear hollow.

"When you enter the Islamist Web sites and you find those Happy Islamist Friends saying 'In the name of God and Islam,' what Islam are they talking about?" she asked.
Now isn’t that better? Who could have a negative thought about Islam when Happy Islamist Friends are the ones planting bombs and doing the killing? I mean, it is positively PC-friendly! You’d really have to be a Neanderthal not to appreciate this. Sorry—I mean, Sloped-Forehead American. My bad.
Try out “Happy Islamist Friends” in your posts today!
"Water's Edge" (Posted November 1, 2004)
While I do not comment directly on domestic elections, I have certainly discussed issues that the national campaigns have raised. This is a national security and military affairs blog for the most part so I won't duck issues just because one party or the other raises it. So I have not commented on the Bush-Kerry race very much.
My basic hope is that whoever wins, we will continue to fight the war aggressively in Afghanistan, Iraq, and elsewhere. Even if the next president is not of your choice, the world does not end. At worst, more Americans die because the winner is fighting the war incorrectly, and then the party in charge either adapts or is turned out of office the next election. I do not mean this to sound callous but as confidence in our resiliency as a nation. We can endure setbacks and move on to ultimate victory. And in wars, mistakes are made. That is the way it is. But surviving mistakes is a luxury for us that few states in history can boast. We can be hurt but I don't believe we can be defeated—not by Osama's nutcases and their ilk, anyway.
Still, I'd rather not lose lots of Americans. The image I remember every day is this:
[This is a replacement for a similar picture in the Internet Archives version]

Remember this? The press won't show it to you anymore. Might make you remember the anger you felt three years ago. No, better to stoke weepy sadness over a "tragedy" little different from hurricanes caused by changes in US policy over the last four years that have increased global warming.
Anyway, whoever wins tomorrow will be my president. And I want him to succeed. My fondest wishes are that in four years our economy is strong and are enemies are beaten—and that our press reports this. I don't care who gets credit for it. Peters put it well:
I have my preferred candidate. I have my vote. I have my strong convictions. But whoever the American people choose on Election Day will be my president. And he needs to be our president.

Once the people have spoken through the ballot, we need to accept their judgment and get back to being Americans together. The times are perilous and likely to grow even more dangerous, no matter who is elected. We need to pull together again, as we did after 9/11.

God knows, our enemies are pulling together.
So pull together. Or at least stop sniping while the President tries to win the war in his own fashion. Criticize by all means. But do it to make our policies better and not to just throw bombs and prepare the way for the next election. Never slip over to making the enemy's talking points. Never sympathize with them. Because we are better than our enemies. What I wouldn't give if our enemies had to stand for election every four years and defend their policies!
For what it is worth, I think the election could go either way (yeah, I know—I've been withholding this political insight these last 2+ years?). But the range is tilted. It could be a narrow Kerry electoral victory with less than 50% of the popular vote and maybe even less than Bush's total. It could be a narrow Bush victory in the Electoral College with a plurality or bare majority of the popular vote. Or it could be a solid Bush win in the mid-300s in the Electoral College and a solid 54% popular vote. That's how I see it.
For what it is worth, I predict 52% Bush win (relying on rounding up to get to 52) and about 320 electoral votes (assuming Kerry flips New Hampshire and Bush flips Hawaii, Iowa, New Mexico, one of Minnesota or Wisconsin, and one of Michigan, Pennsylvania, or New Jersey).
Whoever wins will be my president and I hope that view holds on Wednesday.
Because we still have a war to win. And our President has to lead us in this war.
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