Thursday, June 30, 2005

Patient Zero

The Iranians are apparently trying to make it easy for us to overthrow their mullah regime. The newly elected nutball-in-chief may be one of the original Islamist terrorists from the Tehran U. S. embassy seizure crisis after the Shah's regime fell:

The administration was reviewing its files on Iranian president-elect Mahmoud Ahmadinejad after the hostage comments were brought to light by The Associated Press.

"I have no information, but obviously his involvement raises many questions," Bush said in an interview with foreign reporters. The administration said it would have to deal with Ahmadinejad, regardless of his past.

Ahmadinejad has been the ultraconservative mayor of Tehran and, according to his associates, was a member of the radical student group that planned the embassy takeover in 1979. But his associates say he opposed the plan and did not take part in holding hostages because he preferred instead to target the Soviet Embassy.

If their drive to get nukes and missiles and their support for terrorism including harboring al Qaeda thugs isn't enough to gain American support for regime change, having this charge confirmed would pretty much guarantee a Congressional declaration of war if needed.

It will be interesting to see how the always anti-war Left works up a defense of this thug, a figurative patient zero for modern Islamist terrorism, and conjuring up the worst days of America held hostage under the depressingly ineffective Carter presidency. It could only be better if the Carter Center verified the Iran election that put Ahmadinejad in power.

And as a bonus, Ahmadinejad's defense is that he couldn't possibly have participated in the American embassy takeover because he favored taking over the Soviet embassy. Could this be embarassing enough for Putin to get him to cancel the nuclear fuel transfer to Iran pending in the next several months?

Sometimes our enemies are amazingly cooperative.

I Need Clarification

Human rights activists think America tortures prisoners and are mighty upset that we render prisoners to countries that torture.

One question: why do we bother rendering prisoners to countries that torture if we could just as easily do it ourselves? You'd think an evil regime such as ours would actually enjoy the first-hand experience of roughing up the poor lost souls we frame for "beheading while Moslem."

I'm just asking. Because they seem like incompatible accusations to me. Perhaps it makes more sense in French or Belgian.

And for the record, I oppose both torture and extraordinary rendition for the purpose of allowing torture.

I Can Confirm the Rumor

The UN has heard rumors that the US is holding prisoners aboard secret prisons on American warships:

While the accusations were rumours, rapporteur Manfred Nowak said the situation was sufficiently serious to merit an official inquiry.

"There are very, very serious accusations that the United States is maintaining secret camps, notably on ships," the Austrian UN official told AFP, adding that the vessels were believed to be in the Indian Ocean region.

"They are only rumours, but they appear sufficiently well-based to merit an official inquiry," he added.

Only rumors? Some might say this is ridiculous and insufficient to warrant notice.

Egad man. Are you ignorant of the ways of the international community? A rapporteur needs nothing more to accuse America. The international community knows America is guilty of every crime under the Sun--it but needs an accusation to spring into action.

These aren't just rumors, by the way. I have found documentary evidence of the practice of holding prisoners on board American warships. This tells the story of one prisoner--actually an American!--held on one American corvette, where he died in our custody!

Read it and be very afraid of the Bushitlerashitlercroftnazilibraryrecordreadingstoletheohioelectionsin 2004andfloridain2000andjustwhydoesn'tthemediacoverthisdiebold stealingepisode regime. I think this is sufficiently serious to justify an immediate faux congressional hearing and perhaps a documentary or two.

Oh, and bongos and giant puppets. Lots of puppets.

The horror ...

Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Reason Number 97 We are Not a Bushtatorship

As I've noted before, sometimes I'm annoyed at the limits of who we are allowed to kill in this war. Via Instapundit, our favorite Colorado fake-Indian fraudfessor is at it again:

Churchill: "For those of you who do, as a matter of principle, oppose war in any form, the idea of supporting a conscientious objector who's already been inducted in his combat service in Iraq might have a certain appeal. But let me ask you this: Would you render the same level of support to someone who hadn't conscientiously objected, but rather instead rolled a grenade under their line officer in order to neutralize the combat capacity of their unit?"

As the good professor might note, simply not sending your child to the University of Colorado (whoops, excuse me while I turn off the vile Chris Matthews) just removes a potential cannon fodder from the fray. Firing a whackjob fraud teacher without any settlement pay has a much more impactful effect.

Can we call this treason or is that still unreasonable in this case?

Mention 9-11 Every Damn Day

So the loyal opposition is upset at the references to 9-11 in the President's speech?

No doubt. They do badly when our people are reminded we are at war and that they want to read our enemies their Miranda rights and give them Michael Jackson's legal team now that they are free.

While nobody has suggested that Saddam helped carry out 9-11, the fact that Saddam's Iraq had contacts with bin Laden and links to al Qaeda and terrorism generally should not be doubted. Read this for the particulars.

Saddam was hip-deep in cooperation with our enemies. We needed to destroy his regime and we did. As a bonus, we ended a mass human rights violation with a UN seat.

I wish the media would show the films of 9-11 and the planes slamming into the Twin Towers, the people plunging to their deaths, and the smoldering Pentagon and field in Pennsylvania as much as they show some terrorists with panties on their head.

I really wish they'd express as much outrage over the attacks of 9-11, too.

9-11 provides the context for what we do all over the world. Shout out what happened that day every damn chance we get. Too many forget what happened and way too many think we deserved it.

Holy Roman Empire?

Robert Pape has an article in the Chicago Tribune that I found just wrong in its focus on suicide bombers when I read it earlier today. I decided to just focus on one paragraph rather than hit the whole thing.

So I was most pleased when I went to Real Clear Politics to get the link and found that Reverend Sensing had taken in on. Check it out. Reverend Sensing concludes of Pape's focus on suicide bombers:

Suicide bombing is not the enemy, it is merely a tactic. The nation’s strategy against Islamist terrorists has never been simply to stop suicide bombing, nor should it be so misdirected in the future.

And as a bonus, Sensing did not address the paragraph that bugged me:

Our best strategy is to return to the policy that the United States had for decades. In the 1970s and 1980s, the U.S. secured its crucial interest in oil without stationing a single combat soldier in the Persian Gulf, instead relying on an alliance with Iraq and Saudi Arabia, the presence of naval air power off the coast and land bases to rapidly deploy troops in a crisis. Offshore balancing worked splendidly against Saddam Hussein in 1990 and is again our best strategy for securing our interest in oil, while preventing the rise of more suicide terrorists coming at us.

What is the good professor talking about? In the 1970s, after the British abandoned their stability role "east of Suez," we relied on arming the Shah of Iran with advanced weapons so he could be our policeman of the region. By the end of the decade that didn't work out so well when Iran was taken over by nutball Islamists--you know, the ones who now pursue nuclear weapons and long-range missiles and support terrorism? Good call, eh?

And our so-called alliance with Iraq consisted of giving just enough support to keep the nutso Iranians under Khomeini at bay in the Iran-Iraq War of the 1980s.

Our ally Saudi Arabia was a weak substitute as our proxy enforcer. We led a Western naval flotilla in 1987-1988 to protect the oil shipping routes during the Tanker War and engaged the Iranians on a number of occasions.

As for our ability to rapidly deploy troops, the Rapid Deployment Force that President Carter set up to do this was, as wags put it, much like the Holy Roman Empire: it wasn't rapid or deployable and it wasn't much of a force. And when Iraq finally defeated Iran in the First Gulf War and turned on Kuwait in 1990, we had to rush forces to the Gulf to save Saudi Arabia and reverse the Kuwait conquest. Offshore balancing did not work at all. Our last minute naval demonstration on the eve of the August 1990 Iraq invasion of Kuwait impressed Saddam not one bit. We had to deploy several corps of ground forces to eject him. Not a very good record of relying on naval and air power to preserve our interests in the face of powerful land threats in the region.

As long as there is no land power in the region capable of smashing our friends, standing offshore is wise. Perhaps when we have set up a free and democratic Iraq and have overthrown the Iranian mad mullahs, we will be able to do this. I hope so. But in the meantime our security requires ground forces in the region to fight for our safety. Withdrawing will not end the threats to us.

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Out of Service

The North Koreans have cut off phone service to the outside world:

[South Korean] Spy agency officials told a closed-door session of the National Assembly's Intelligence Committee that international phone connections had been cut at most of the North's trading companies and at government agencies since late March, according to South Korea's Yonhap news agency.

Since April, even people with permits to make international calls have been able to do so only under the strict surveillance of security officials, the report said.

Spy agency officials said the steps were taken to eliminate sources of instability ahead of the 60th anniversary of Korea's liberation from Japanese colonial rule, as well as the 60th anniversary of the founding of its Workers' Party.

Gee, in a workers' paradise you'd think the Pillsbury Nuke Boy would be puffed up with pride and eager to share the joy of life in the PDRK. Especially on such a big anniversary.

Apparently not. What is North Korea afraid of more? Information going out about the state of affairs of North Korea or information coming in about the state of the outside world?

This is not the action of a confident regime. Squeeze the psycho boy king. He will collapse if we don't save him.

Stronger and Losing?

There has been much comment on whether or not the enemy in Iraq is losing or winning and whether the enemy in Iraq is weaker or stronger. In truth, these questions are separate although they are often treated as equivalent questions.

Take World War II as an example. The Germany of 1944 was stronger than the Germany of 1940. The Germans went from light and obsolete tanks in 1940 to modern heavy tanks in 1944. Armored infantry actually had halftracks instead of trucks. By 1944, jets were coming on line as were missiles. And the U-boat fleet was much larger with better technology. Certainly, far more Germans were under arms and German war production was much higher.

But Germany was winning in 1940 and losing by 1944. How was this possible?

Simple, because objective strength and winning are not necessarily linked. In any war, national efforts will increase as time goes on. Each side will put more resources into the fight and the level of fighting will escalate. So by the end, each side is much stronger than at the beginning of the war yet only one side has won. American, British, and Russian strength increased much more than Germany's strength in World War II. German strength, while absolutely greater in 1944 than in 1940, was relatively weaker compared to their enemies.

Thus it is in Iraq. By looking at attacks per day the enemy is as strong as it has been over the last year. By casualties inflicted--especially civilian casualties--they may be more powerful.

But nonetheless the enemy is losing. Our strength is growing faster. We learn and adapt and our troops become more effective with better tactics and gain better weapons. And most importantly, the Iraqis are coming on the line in growing numbers and in increased effectiveness with better training and better equipment. They are backed by a growing government that draws strength from the people who voted for it and who back it in the fight against the enemy.

So is the enemy absolutely stronger now than a year ago? I don't know. Maybe. Then again I've never thought body counts were any measure of winning or losing. We lose troops but our troops strength in Iraq is a function of our will to fight--not losses. For the enemy it is the same--they lose but replace as long as they can recruit. Kill ratios are only important as a measure of our tactical prowess. Important as that is, it is not the measure of winning. Remember, pretty crappy Iraqi troops suppressed Shia revolts in the 1990s.

But I can say with no doubt that the enemy is relatively weaker than our side. And so they are losing. In time, the disparity in strength that our side is building will reduce the enemy's strength. In 1945 at some point, German strength was sapped and broken to levels less than 1940. In Iraq, at some point, the growing Iraqi/Coalition strength will break the enemy and they will fade away. Perhaps over years gradually or perhaps suddenly. But they will break if the current path is followed.

We must not throw away the victory our troops are giving us through their sweat and blood. Have we learned nothing from our recent history?

A Brief History of Armor in Iraq

Once upon a time, in the period between the decisive American battlefield victory over Iraq in 1991 and the Iraq War of 2003, the dominant view of military reformers was that armor was obsolete and simply too heavy to get to a distant theater in time to harvest our victory.

Strykers were the answer. They were light, wheeled, and networked. They would show us how to fight and the experience would lead to a future combat system that will be light, lethal, and survivable.

Then the Abrams and Bradleys of 3rd ID stormed up and into Baghdad, setting a Middle East land-speed record, with the Iraqi army bouncing off their armor on the drive up. The value of armor had been shown and recognized. And the ability to have 19-ton survivable vehicles became a little questionable.

But then the heavy armor was called inappropriate once Baghdad fell. The calls went out to get the heavy armor out and put in lighter Humvees that are more mobile. Indeed, the call went to get our soldiers out of the body armor and kevlars and put on soft caps to patrol on foot.

But then the Iraqi Baathists started an insurgency and in time the cry went out that it was terrible that we didn't have armored Humvees in Iraq. As we put in every one we could find and set out to up-armor the rest, the cry went out that it was not fast enough.

So in time our Humvees were up-armored and the armor crisis was ended.

But then the enemy began using larger IEDs and even shaped-charge IEDs that burn right through the Humvee armor.

I assume the cry will soon go out that we never should have pulled out so much of our heavy armor, relying on inadequately armored Humvees. Perhaps we will put more heavy armor in Iraq in response to this. Or make sure that Humvees on patrols or escort duty are crewed with just a driver and a weapons operator to minimize the chances that vehicles will be totally detroyed with the loss of all aboard. And being alert is always more important than sitting oblivious in an armored vehicle, relying on passive defenses.

Such is war. We act. They react. We adjust. And it keeps on going like that because we are fighting a thinking enemy that wants to win, too. We need to think and not flail about in panic. Tactics are not strategy and casualties are not defeat.

Monday, June 27, 2005

The Surrender Will Proceed on Schedule

The pretend election in Iran doesn't mean anything will change with the mullah-driven drive to get nuclear weapons. So it makes sense that the EU policy toward Iran will not change either:

EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana on Monday ruled out an immediate change in the bloc's nuclear policy on Iran following the weekend election of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad as president.

Nothing can be allowed to stand in the way of a proper Brussels surrender to the mullahs.

I will be seriously upset if we don't have a plan to overthrow those nutballs this year.

Um, I mean the mullahs, by the way. Brussels can wait.

At Least It is a Debatable Point

As I've repeated to the point of boring you, were I god of the PLA, I'd invade Taiwan on the eve of the 2008 summer Olympics. The element of surprise would be complete and in the end, getting the gold in the Realpolitik Freestyle will beat gold in women's gymnastics any day.

The Taiwanese vice president Annette Lu doesn't think China would do this, however:

Lu asserted that China wouldn't dare send its armed forces against the independently ruled island in the run-up to the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing.

Far be it from me to correct the Taiwanese veep but I think that is a hope rather than a prediciton. Why is China building up its military at such a frenzied pace if they don't have some deadline in mind?

But hey, I'm satisfied that at least it is a point of debate.

I Don't Know About the Bratwurst Part

The Germans want a UN Security Council permanent seat.

As if.

The Germans under Schroeder have been a great disappointment to me in the last few years. We conquered them but rehabilitated them and brought them into NATO where they could become Western and prosperous. The Germans were our best ally on the continent in the Cold War. The Bundeswehr was a potent force that stood ready to kill Russian tanks as their fathers and grandfathers had done--but in a good cause. Then President Bush 41 supported unification when the Soviets went under even though many thought that was too provocative.

And what did we get in return? The Germans let their military atrophy until they couldn't even think of dealing with a third rate military power like Serbia on their very doorstep. And then on the eve of the Iraq War, the Germans decided that acting like ass hats was the smart geopolitical move. The Germans continued a century of bad foreign policy decisions only put on hold during the Cold War. But at least this one didn't result in invading a neighbor.

Ralph Peters (via Real Clear Politics) has perhaps a lot more venom for the Germans than I do but he puts it well:

Bush would be as nutty as Howard Dean to agree. There are, indeed, a few countries deserving of a new reserved seat at the Security Council's Theater of the Absurd — Brazil and India head the list — but Germany's claim to a permanent chair falls somewhere between the aspirations of Liberia and Myanmar.

Why should a decaying, neurotic country with a recent history of massive genocide be granted a seat at the world's most exclusive table? Russia already fills that bill.

But Gerhard, having stabbed the American people in the back with a dull knife two years ago, is hoping against hope that our short historical memory will kick in and we'll forget that one of his favored parliamentarians compared Bush to Hitler — and the chancellor didn't offer one word of apology.

Schroeder will blabber on about the long tradition of friendship between our two nations. Come again? We had to force democracy on the Germans at gunpoint. They sucked our strategic blood for 50 years and then chose Saddam Hussein over Uncle Sam.

Yeah, we're pals, Fritz. Here comes the big bratwurst.

The bratwurst part is vaguely disturbing but his point is correct--Germany can enjoy its EU status and kiss that permanent seat goodbye until they decide to be a responsible ally. I have hope for Germany. Once we were allies. I hope we will be again in the near future.

Oh, as for Brazil? Get real. As the joke goes, Brazil is the permanent member of the future--and always will be.

Sunday, June 26, 2005

Here Be Dragons

Back in March, in Ready. Set. Go? I pulled together some threads of thoughts I've written about over the life of this blog that assume China will invade Taiwan on the eve of the 2008 summer Olympics.

Instapundit linked to it and I received more hits in one day than I've ever received. And I received more email and attracted more posts in response than I've ever seen. While some agreed (including one who said he was modeling scenarios for DOD and who had far scarier worries than I could see), most ridiculed the very idea that China could invade any time in the near future and not get waxed by our forces in the effort.

Well, Bill Gertz (via Instapundit) writes that some defense analysts see a Chinese attack on Taiwan coming in the next couple years:

China is building its military forces faster than U.S. intelligence and military analysts expected, prompting fears that Beijing will attack Taiwan in the next two years, according to Pentagon officials.

And what about the Olympics? Won't that stay Peking's hand?

The war fears come despite the fact that China is hosting the Olympic Games in 2008 and, therefore, some officials say, would be reluctant to invoke the international condemnation that a military attack on Taiwan would cause.

Still, isn't China pinned to the mainland of Asia, unable to do more than gaze out to sea?

"We left the million-man swim behind in about 1998, 1999," the senior Pentagon official said. "And in fact, what people are saying now, whether or not that construct was ever useful, is that it's a moot point, because in just amphibious lift alone, the Chinese are doubling or even quadrupling their capability on an annual basis."

Asked about a possible Chinese attack on Taiwan, the official put it bluntly: "In the '07-'08 time frame, a capability will be there that a year ago we would have said was very, very unlikely. We now assess that as being very likely to be there."

An Office of Net Assessment report recently highlighted China's growing energy vulnerability. Yes, we could cut China off rather easily. But China might think they have no option but to strike Taiwan and believe they can compel us to accept the attack.

And what are China's options?

The report stated that China will resort "to extreme, offensive and mercantilist measures when other strategies fail, to mitigate its vulnerabilities, such as seizing control of energy resources in neighboring states."

U.S. officials have said two likely targets for China are the Russian Far East, which has vast oil and gas deposits, and Southeast Asia, which also has oil and gas resources.

If it comes to war over Taiwan, I want us to be ready to win. I'd rather we were able to persuade China not to attack Taiwan in the first place. But Ideally, I'd like to point China inland to Asia and away from the sea where conflict with America and our allies is a likely result. The stakes of this Great Game are too great to lose.

It is too easy to just dismiss the Chinese threat to Taiwan. The Chinese think they deserve Taiwan. They think they can take it. They think they can do it before we can decisively intervene. And deep down, they don't think we have the guts to go toe-to-toe with them.

Far from a mythical creature, a Dragon that we must remain ready to slay is loose in the kingdom.

Reason for War

Via Winds of Change, this report on al Qaeda taking refuge in Iran:

Somewhere north of Tehran, living perhaps in villas near the town of Chalous on the Caspian Sea coast, are between 20 and 25 of al-Qaida’s former leaders, along with two of Osama bin Laden’s sons.

Men such as Saif al-Adel, the former military commander of al-Qaida, and Suleiman Abu Ghaith, the bespectacled bin Laden spokesman, are not in hiding but rather in the care — or custody — of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard.

We don't hear much about this. Why? Perhaps our government doesn't want to press the point so that it becomes "old news" when we go after Iran.

In a related point, the article notes that we do have a reason for keeping the MEK around in Iraq. We refused a proposed prisoner exchange with Iran involving them:

Saddam Hussein had financed, trained and armed the MEK, even building the group a 5,000-man training facility in Fallujah (now being used by the U.S. Marines) and used them in the Iran-Iraq War and in cross-border attacks after the war.

“The exchange was never formally proposed, but several general offers were made through third parties, not all of them diplomatic,” said the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity.“One reason nothing came of it was because we knew that there were parts of the U.S. government who didn't want to give them the MEK because they had other plans for them … like overthrowing the Iranian government.”

I have to believe we are getting ready to nail Iran. I simply cannot believe our policy is to accept a nuclear-armed, mullah-controlled Iran.

One wonders, after so many over here protested that overthrowing Saddam was not justified because Saddam had no easily documented connection with al Qaeda, what they will say when this link is publicized? There's always the old reliable standby of needing to solve the Palestinian problem before we do anything else if they can't think of any other reason to leave the mullahs alone.

Saturday, June 25, 2005

Fighting to Win

Our enemies are fighting to win. So while I think we are winning in Iraq, we have to consider how our enemies think they can achieve victory rather than just accepting our inevitable victory.

I wrote recently that I think Syria is too weak to defeat us in Iraq and that this might be part of a Syrian-Iranian alliance to divert us from the looming Iranian offensive in the east. Iran may stage a mock Shia revolt in Iraq to buy time for Iran to go nuclear and secure their regime. Breaking Iraq would also save Syria's Baathists from following the path of their Iraqi brethren.

This comment by Secretary Rumsfeld highlights Syrian weakness despite the havoc they are wreaking right now by supporting the jihadis in Iraq:

Let me say one other thing about Syria. Syria lives next door to Iraq. The Iraqis don’t like what’s going on and they’re going to be in that neighborhood for a long time. And they’re bigger and they’re wealthier and they’re going to be unhappy because Iraqis are being killed because terrorist and jihadists are coming across those borders and being allowed to do that. And it is notably unhelpful what Syria is doing, let there be no doubt.

Exactly. Even if we don't do something about Syria directly, in time Iraqis will be capable of dealing with Syria on their own. And the memory of the death and destruction that Syria is creating in Iraq will be a powerful motivating factor for Iraq to use force.

And what can Syria do? They will be unable to deploy much of their decaying military away from the Turkish and Israeli fronts to cope with an angry Iraqi military response. Iraq, by contrast, will have American backing to keep their rear safe from Iranian military adventures in support of their Syrian ally.

So Syrian support for the jihadis in Iraq makes little sense in isolation. The jihadis can't win and the price Syria could pay for a doomed strategy could be high.

That's why I think Iran will play a role in the Iraq fight before too long.

Part of the problem I face in blogging is posting about what is going on based on press reports versus posting about predictions of what I think will happen or what I would do if I was pushing the pieces around the board. I've seen no articles discussing Iranian preparation for the strategy I describe. Just bits here and there that could support my assumption. Or I could be connecting dots that arent even aware of each other. My posts on this are almost purely hunch based on what I would do and based on my assessment that what appears to be going on does not make sense at face value.

And while I think a Tehran-engineered pretend revolt could be instigated in Iraq as I outlined, I wouldn't rule out a conventional military offensive by Iran.

If I was ordered to go conventional, I'd send Iranian forces into southern Iraq to capture Basra. Held by a handful of British battalions and odds and sods of allied troops, these forces would be incapable of calling in US air power like US Army or Marines would. Our allies might fold quickly under these circumstances. Then announce a puppet regime under al-Sadr to make it look like a Shia revolt. Then I'd set up blocking positions to the west of Basra to block US forces from coming down from the north easily. And I'd turn south as soon as possible to hit the American and Coalition support troops in Kuwait.

If done right, hundreds if not thousands of Americans could be killed, delivering a shock to our public that we might not endure. Add in a major effort to block the Strait of Hormuz to stop reinforcements from coming to the rescue and we would have a major defeat on our hands.

Of course, the regulars of Iran may not be reliable. Maybe the Pasdaran (Revolutionary Guards) aren't either. This strategy could blow up in Tehran's face. Or they could obey orders to march.

Remember, we are at war against an enemy that is fighting for victory. They believe they can win, that's why they still fight. Victory is not our birthright and we can't act on the assumption that our enemies will fight according to our plans and timetables for victory.

Sometimes I think I worry too much. Sometimes I think we don't worry enough.

Fighting and Winning in Iraq

Victor Hanson and Robert Kagan have articles that should be read in full.

Hanson notes that it is difficult for a conservative president to wage war given that the larger dominant culture will suspect that he is eager for war and fighting out of less-than-pure motives. The Left could do whatever it wants in war and not be condemned by the larger cultural environment of a sympathic press and national culture in contrast to the hyper-sensitive criticism against the war we are in now:

So there was never much room for error in this war. We are not talking in this postmodern era in terms of a past Democratic president invading Latin America, interring citizens in high-plains camps, hanging terrorist suspects, nuking cities, or bombing pharmaceutical factories in Africa, but, at least from the weird present hysteria, something apparently far worse — like supposedly flushing a Koran at Guantanamo.

Indeed, I read a number of posts on this subject in fall 2004 as pro-war people asked whether victory could only come if the opposition won the presidency since then the anti-war side would morph into support while the existing pro-war side would stick with the war. It was a fascinating and disturbing debate that essentially described a hostage situation where our troops were the victims.

And the important thing to remember is that despite the press-led cries of despair being voiced now, we are winning in Iraq. Hanson writes:

Contrary to all recent popular wisdom, the war in Iraq is not a disaster, but nearing success. It has been costly and at times tragic, but a democracy is in place, accords are being hammered out with Sunni rejectionists, and the democratic reformist mindset is pulsating into Lebanon, Egypt, and the Gulf. This has only been possible because of the courage and efficacy of a much maligned military that, for the lapses of a small minority at Guantanamo Bay and Abu Ghraib, has been compared to Stalin and Hitler.

We are winning.

Kagan hits on whether this war is worth the sacrifice and point out that critics don't address what today would look like if we had not invaded Iraq in 2003 (and it wouldn't be a kite-flying paradise):

[A] fact not in dispute is that Hussein remained keenly interested in and committed to acquiring weapons of mass destruction, that he maintained secretive weapons programs throughout the 1990s and indeed right up until the day of the invasion, and that he was only waiting for the international community to lose interest or stamina so that he could resume his programs unfettered. This is the well-documented, unrefuted -- and unnoticed -- conclusion of both David Kay and Charles Duelfer. Whether Hussein would have eventually succeeded in acquiring these weapons would have depended on other nations' will and ability to stop him.

That is a question to which we will never have a definitive answer, and yet it is critical to any judgment about the merits of the war. The most sensible argument for the invasion was not that Hussein was about to strike the United States or anyone else with a nuclear bomb. It was that containment could not be preserved indefinitely, that Hussein was repeatedly defying the international community and that his defiance appeared to both the Clinton and Bush administrations to be gradually succeeding. He was driving a wedge between the United States and Britain, on one side, which wanted to maintain sanctions and containment, and France, Russia, and China, on the other, which wanted to drop sanctions and normalize relations with him. The main concern of senior officials in both administrations was that, in the words of then-national security adviser Samuel "Sandy" Berger, containment was not "sustainable over the long run." The pattern of the 1990s, "Iraqi defiance, followed by force mobilization on our part, followed by Iraqi capitulation," had left "the international community vulnerable to manipulation by Saddam." The longer the standoff continued, Berger warned in 1998, "the harder it will be to maintain" international support for containing Hussein. Nor did Clinton officials doubt what Hussein would do if and when containment collapsed. As Berger put it, "Saddam's history of aggression, and his recent record of deception and defiance, leave no doubt that he would resume his drive for regional domination if he had the chance." Nor should we assume that, even if the United States and others had remained vigilant, Hussein could have been deterred from doing something to provoke a conflict. Tragic miscalculation was Hussein's specialty, after all, as his invasions of Iran and Kuwait proved.

Kagan supports Hanson's article nicely. All the arguments made today for destroying Saddam's regime were made before in the late 1990s. Then the arguments were accepted by the larger culture. Today they are rejected as the insane machinations of a secretive cabal.

Fascinating. And this doesn't even begin to discuss the sheer humanitarian success of ending a murdering and torturing regime.

We are winning and this fight is worth it. We did the right thing. Drive on. We will achieve victory if we stick with what we are doing and our troops will come home with their heads held high in success knowing they accomplished a great good.

Sympathy for the Devil

Victor Hanson writes about our war and the strange inability of our anti-war Left to work up any outrage over our fascist-like enemy. Indeed, the Left has transformed our enemy into a sympathetic victim class by ignoring or embracing that fascism:

Extremists who would otherwise be properly seen in the fascistic mold were instead given a weird pass for their quite public and abhorrent hatred of non-believers and homosexuals, and their Neanderthal views of women. Beheadings, the murder of Christians, suicide bombings carried out by children, systematic torture — all this and more paled in comparison to hot and cold temperatures in American jails on Cuba. Suddenly despite our enemies' long record of murder and carnage, we were in a war not with fascism of the old stamp, but with those who were historical victims of the United States. Thus problems arose of marshalling American public opinion against the supposedly weaker that posited legitimate grievances against Western hegemons. It was no surprise that Sen. Durbin's infantile rantings would be showcased on al-Jazeera.

He also touches on the so-called errors we made that alienated Europeans who expressed sympathy for America in the aftermath of 9-11. Weepy, candle-holding Europeans became contributors to the insurgents all because we attacked Iraq and overthrew a dangerous dictator with ample blood on his hands:

When Western liberals today talk of a mythical period in the days after 9/11 of "unity" and "European solidarity" what they really remember is a Golden Age of Victimhood, or about four weeks before the strikes against the Taliban commenced. Then for a precious moment at last the United States was a real victim, apparently weak and vulnerable, and suffering cosmic justice from a suddenly empowered other. Oh, to return to the days before Iraq and Afghanistan, when we were hurt, introspective, and pitied, and had not yet "lashed out."

Remember that, will you? Europe felt sympathy for us after 9-11 when we seemed helpless like they are to defend ourselves. They were willing to send flowers to our funerals and pat us on the back, but that was it. Even the war in Afghanistan which everyone now says they supported was opposed by many in Europe and even some here who said we should try bin Laden in an international tribunal; that our campaign would be a quagmire after three weeks; who said the brutal winter would cripple us; who said the Taliban should be brought into a coalition government; and who said that we should declare a Ramadan ceasefire to avoid offending Moslems in a newly discovered ceasefire season that no Moslem would fight through out of respect (and I'll just note that the Arabs call the 1973 war with Israel "the Ramadan War."). But when we won, those same people complained that the war was not fought perfectly.

In August 2002 I touched on the same thing when I looked at how the Europeans were siding with Saddam in the growing confrontation with America and our allies (scroll down to August 25--this is my early site).

Europe is nothing to me. After decades of standing beside them in the face of the threat of nuclear devastation, now they walk away. They cried for us when we were victims in the days after September 11, but now that we fight and win they have dried their tears and condemn us. Europe would die at the hands of our enemies and still apologize for offending the hands that killed them, even in their last breath. We shall fight. And we shall win.
If the price of European sympathy is inaction, then I don't give a damn. And good luck to them when their moment of crisis comes. The Europeans seem to be gaining a little sense. But not nearly enough yet. Europe as an entity is still nothing to me. My hope lies in Europeans.

My post has the contents of an open letter AndrewSullivan wrote to the Europeans, too. Sullivan should reread it.

Drum Roll, Please

The hardliners in Iran won the presidency in the runoff election:

The hardline Tehran mayor steamrolled over one of Iran's best-known statesman to win the presidency Saturday in a landslide election victory that cements conservative control over the nation's political leadership.

That the Iranian people can't stand the mullahs does not enter the story at all. That turnout in the first round was virtually nonexistent outside of official statistics is not relevant, apparently.

I mean, wow! Who would have expected the hardline candidate to win in hardline dictatorial Iran?

Certainly not anyone relying on our professionally trained journalists (via Instapundit). See, this was a real election. You know, unlike ours where some reporters still act like Ohio in 2004 and Florida in 2000 tainted our elections. No, Iran's election was real:

The outcome capped a stunning upset by Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who many reformers fear will take Iran back to the restrictions imposed after the 1979 Islamic Revolution.

The only thing stunning is the willingness of Western reporters to go along with the charade and pretend that the election the Iranians pretended to hold is real.

I eagerly await the behind-the-scenes story of how the candidate of the mullahs actually managed to win the hearts of the Iranian voters and sweep to victory on his platform of stoning homosexuals and killing jews and Americans. Oh, and torturing, imprisoning, and impoverishing Iranianss. Truly a contract with Iran to inspire loyalty.

Friday, June 24, 2005


The beheaders and car bombers in Iraq can count on some friends in Europe(via Real Clear Politics):

Turns out that far-left groups in western Europe are carrying on a campaign dubbed Ten Euros for the Resistance, offering aid and comfort to the car bombers, kidnappers, and snipers trying to destabilize the fledgling Iraq government. In the words of one Italian website, Iraq Libero (Free Iraq), the funds are meant for those fighting the occupanti imperialisti. The groups are an odd collection, made up largely of Marxists and Maoists, sprinkled with an array of Arab emigres and aging, old-school fascists, according to Lorenzo Vidino, an analyst on European terrorism based at The Investigative Project in Washington, D.C. "It's the old anticapitalist, anti-U.S., anti-Israel crowd," says Vidino, who has been to their gatherings, where he saw activists from Austria, Denmark, Germany, and Italy. "The glue that binds them together is anti-Americanism." The groups are working on an October conference to further support "the Iraqi Resistance." A key goal is to expand backing for the insurgents from the fringe left to the broader antiwar and antiglobalization movements.

Luckily, these wastes of oxygen better utilized by mammals and some of the cuter reptiles have more hatred than sense or euros:

The groups' impact, though, may ultimately be limited. "They have a pretty big following, but we're not talking about big money," says Vidino. At one conference, he notes, many militants looked so ragged he doubted they even had 10 euros in their pockets.

At least we can be reasonably sure that these people didn't love us until we liberated Iraq and alienated them.

Sometimes I am saddened by the limitations on who we can shoot.

Thursday, June 23, 2005

I Smell a Grenade

We're focusing a lot of attention on what the Syrians are doing to support the ratlines from Syria down to Baghdad in support of the jihadis.

As much as this front is causing casualties, I don't think it has a chance of beating our side. I'm worried about what Iran is up to in Iraq.

Earlier, I wrote that I thought the Syrians were stabbing the Baathists in the back in order to escape from their support of the insurgents against American and Iraqi forces.

Now that doesn't seem very likely at all. It seems clear now that the Syrians did not choose to stay out of Iraq but instead decided to support the Islamists exclusively instead of the Baathists.

Could this be a product of the Syrian-Iranian alliance announced shortly after the Iraq election? Did the Iranians demand that the Syrians stop supporting the hated Baathists as the price for Iran's help to keep the Damascus regime alive by defeating America in Iraq?

Yet the alliance has been quiet. I've read nothing the last several months about it. I may be overly nervous, but are the Iranians planning their own Battle of the Bulge offensive in Iraq? Not an invasion, but an uprising of al Sadr or some other compliant Iraqi Shia supported by lots of Iranian agents infiltrated to Iraq to pose as Shia Iraqis?

And perhaps the Syrian troop withdrawal from Lebanon—a move that shocked me given the importance of Lebanon to Syria's survival—is just buying time for something to happen to save them. Perhaps the Iranian alliance is what Damascus is counting on.

I've been waiting for some insurgent al Tet offensive for a while now. I think we are on the path to victory and I think that our enemies know this even if it goes unrecognized here by a lot of people. If I was commanding the enemy, I'd gather my forces to try and reverse the fortunes of war. And since our enemies are no shrinking violets, I expect some offensive to try to sap our home front morale which is showing signs of weakening.

Perhaps what has been going on with the surge of car bombings is the actual offensive, but I think that Iran will take a stab at defeating us. Perhaps this surge of violence is just setting the stage for the real blow. Get us looking west to Syria and then hit us from the east.

And perhaps the Iranians are worried about other timetables that would make an offensive in Iraq worth the risk. First, our Strategic Petroleum Reserve is filling up. So the Iranians are probably aware that we'll be in a stronger position to deal with Iran when the SPR is full. Plus, the Russians will deliver nuclear fuel in a few months. Once the fuel is inside Iran it gets more difficult to strike Iran to cripple their nuclear program without risking nuclear contamination and civilian deaths. Getting us too busy fighting inside Iraq might give the mullahs the time they need to become strike-proof.

Our enemies are playing to win. Are we? Hold your breath, people. This isn't over, I fear.

What Will the Vaunted International Community Do?

Zimbabwe is a democide taking place before our very eyes. Very soon, the place will visibly crumble as the deterioration speeeds up under the thug elite of Mugabe:

The current attacks on urban centers are part of a corrective strategy to drive perhaps two million people back onto the land. Once there, they will be cut off from the rest of the country and at the mercy of government-controlled food supplies. It is more difficult to starve people in urban areas where the outside world might catch wind of what's going on. As one displaced farmer puts
it: "The people don't want to go back to the rural areas because they are afraid and also they know the hardships they will face. In summer, it would be easier for people--even those who have lost the skills--to live off the land from berries and wild mushrooms--but it's the height of winter now and there is nothing."

But controlling this population becomes easier all the time, as millions have fled over the past few years, over 3,000 people die every week of AIDS, and most college graduates, many of whom are activists, leave the country. The result has been an astonishing decline in the population, which is down to around 10 million from over 13 million a few years back. Not that the government minds. In August 2002, Didymus Mutasa, today the head of the secret police, said: "We would be better off with only six million people, with our own people who support the liberation struggle."

Once the bread basket of southern Africa, now Zimbabwe is now dying.

And there isn't much we can do about it. There simpy isn't any national interest in taking on that dirtbag of a dictator. It is landlocked and far away. And we have limits on our military.

The basic problem is with a humanitarian mission that attempts to treat a government-sponsored famine as equivalent to a natural disaster is that it is just asking for trouble. As soon as those responsible for the famine recover from the shock of foreign intervention, they'll start shooting at us. And when we start losing troops in a humanitarian mission, the public will to endure will evaporate quickly.

This is very sad. But we can't do much directly to stop it. South Africa could but they won't. I'm all for doing what we can short of military intervention, but we don't have a dog in this fight so our efforts must stop short of military action. Truly, I'm at a loss over what we could do to help. Maybe we could airdrop tens of thousands of Kalashnikovs and spare ammo all over the country in a real throw of the dice to give the people at least a chance of surviving the regime assault.

I wish the "international community" all the luck in the world sorting this out multilaterally without us. I'm sure there will be a lovely ribbon-fesooned leather-bound report issued a few years after the Zimbabwe thugs reach their goal of ruling over a paradise of six million loyal citizens.

Oh, and a side note: China, that sponsor of the bloody Khmer Rouge in Cambodia, has befriended Mugabe and is shipping arms and equipment to his forces. Somehow, I'm sure we'll be blamed for all this, too.

UPDATE: Well this is interesting:

At news conferences in Africa and at the United Nations, more than 200 international human rights and civic groups said the campaign, known as Operation Drive Out Trash, was "a grave violation of international human rights law and a disturbing affront to human dignity."

Police prevent journalists from filming the demolitions, so the footage was collected clandestinely by the church-based Solidarity Peace Trust.

The groups, including London-based Amnesty International and Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights, released the footage showing bewildered families sleeping in the open in the winter cold after police torched and bulldozed their shanty town homes. Street markets were also targeted, their stalls left in smoldering ruins.

Well that is absolutely fascinating. Just who is supposed to do something? Well:

The rights groups urged the African Union, which is meeting in Libya next month, and the United Nations to act against Zimbabwe — but did not specify how.

The human rights groups didn't specify how? Given their blathering about Gitmo, surely they wouldn't want America to make things worse by sending in our troops! Heavens, that would be bad in their world. Sadly, once you rule out asking America to do something, you're reduced to wishing and mumbling.

I can hardly wait for the AU or UN report in five years describing the democide. I'm sure it will be well indexed!

We Are Winning

It pains me to have to say the bleeding obvious, but there seems to be some confusion in the press, the public, and our Congress. So here it is: we are winning in Iraq and the enemy is losing.

I simply do not understand how anybody who pays attention to what has happened over the last two years can assert that we are losing and that we need to get out fast.

Oh sure, if you don't really follow what is happening and just rely on impressions from the press that only puts the latest car bombing on the top of the hour, it is understandable that you might be confused. But it is so apparent to me that we are winning that I am stunned at the cries of defeat.

But at least the standard bearers for the defeatists are out in the open. In the past, I distrusted their criticisms of the war not because we make no errors in war, but because I did not trust that the criticism was intended to fight better and achieve victory. It always seemed like they were just itching to screech "Vietnam!" at the top of their lungs, drag out their sandals and dirt wardrobe from their youth, and demand we pull our troops out, try them all for war crimes, and open the money spigot to the Baathists and Islamist jihadis who deserve to win in Iraq.

The key to winning has always been on the policial front and not the military front. Our military is buying time for Iraqis to build up a government and a security force so they can fight the insurgents and terrorists. While we can get tired of the war and go home, Iraqis have no place to go but back to the torture chambers and mass graves. The Iraqis will not get tired and as long as they have the tools, they will beat the minority of Sunni Iraqis who dream of past neck-stomping glory and their foreign jihadi buddies who yearn to kill and die in Iraq.

We haven't won the war yet, but we are winning. Read Max Boot (via Real Clear Politics), who concludes:

The biggest advantage the insurgents still have, aside from their total disdain for human life, is that they can get reinforcements from abroad to make up for their heavy losses. The coalition needs to do a better job of policing the Syrian border and pressuring Damascus to crack down on the influx of jihadis.

But even if the border gets sealed, pacifying Iraq will be a long, hard slog that will ultimately be up to the Iraqis. The U.S. needs to show a little patience. If we don't cut and run prematurely, Iraqi democracy can survive its birth pangs.

The situation in Iraq has progressed tremendously since April 2004 when a lot of people were worried that the enemy had just pulled off a Sepoy Mutiny and rallied the Iraqi people against our troops. The enemy is divided, the Iraqi people back the new government and hate the jihadis, and the Iraqi military is stepping forward to assume more responsibilities.

Have patience. Victory is ours to lose.

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

We Won't Like What They Create

I've made no secret that I think the very idea of a European Union as Brussels envisions it would create a proto-dictatorhsip that in time would get rid of the proto part and then become a full-fledged opponent of the United States. I believe it remains in our best interest to keep anybody from controlling all of the vast resources of Europe lest they be used against us.

Mark Steyn writes about the dictatorial impulses that motivate the Brussels Euro elites:

"I really believe the French and Dutch did not vote no to the constitutional treaty," insisted Jean-Claude Juncker, the "President" of "Europe", continuing to celebrate his stunning victory in the referendum. Even if the French and Dutch had been boorish enough to want to vote no to the constitution, they would have been incapable of so doing, as the whole thing was designed to be way above their pretty little heads.

"It is not possible for anyone to understand the full text," declared Valery Giscard d'Estaing. "Europe's Jefferson" has apparently become Europe's Jefferson Airplane, boasting about the impenetrability of his hallucinogenic lyrics. The point is the French and Dutch shouldn't have read beyond the opening sentence: "We the people agree to leave it to you the people who know better than the people."

With attitudes like this, is it any wonder I worry about a united Europe? The disdain the rulers have for their own people is just astounding. And very worrisome. I don't like what they are creating right now. What could it look like in fifty years?

Well Why Bother?

I wrote in my post DaBushci Code that I thought the Downing Street memo was a big nothing despite the frenzied spittle-inducing rage it (and its brothers) inspired in the unhinged anti-war Left. Indeed, it is less than the usual Plastic Turkey issue the anti-war side trots out every couple months to continue the debate-that-will-not end over whether we should invade Iraq. The memo actually bolstered the Bush administration on the WMD issue. I really meant to add my two cents to this and even marked up my copy of the memo in order to do so.

But then James Robbins did a thorough job exposing the silliness.

And then Christopher Hitchens used my Da Vinci Code reference.

Quite clearly, there is no point in me bouncing the rubble.

I eagerly await the next non-issue.

Of course, if the Bush administration was out their pounding on our successes in the Iraq War and our reasons for fighting, there wouldn't be a vacuum that the loonies could fill every day in their pointless rants.

Action and Not Reaction

VDH has a good article on how countries act on their own interests rather than flitting from warm to cool based on the latest statements issued by the White House.

During the Cold War, I was forever frustrated that opponents of the Reagan administration always excused Soviet hostility (or the hostility of one of their puppets) because it was a natural reaction to some "hostile" statement issued by the president or one of his administration. That those statements were mild in their description of the truth wasn't accepted, of course. But the thing that got me was the assumption that the weak-willed foreigners formulated their foreign policies on a wildly swinging basis depending on the latest statements of President Reagan.

Now, of course, the resident cowboy is equally guilty of making our enemies be our enemies; or making allies into less-than-allies.

Hogwash. VDH puts it nicely:

Why, then, is Japan suddenly warm while Europe is so cool? Is the Bush administration clumsy in Berlin and adept in Tokyo?

No. Rather, the answer is the rise of China and the collapse of the Soviet Union. For the Japanese government, China and its nuclear patron, North Korea, are not abstract threats. Indeed, they are within tactical missile range.

If Europeans dream that Chinese break-neck capitalism means only lucrative business, the Japanese fear that such dynamism will more likely lead to a new bully in their own back yard.

If Japan was once experiencing bouts of anti-Americanism when its neighbor China was sleeping, then Europe was relatively friendly to us when we kept 300 Soviet divisions from its borders.

The moral? Trashing the United States can be a fun sport for some when one nearby communist enemy disappears, but not so for others when another is ascendant and close by.Of course, domestic politics, trade issues and clumsy American diplomacy also help to fashion the image of the U.S. abroad. Still, a government's anti-American rhetoric is often predicated on its perceived self-interest.

For all the furor over George Bush's "smoke 'em-out" rhetoric, there are a variety of historical and geographical factors beyond our control that determine the relative popularity of the U.S internationally.

Exactly. And I do not say this as a late convert. In 1990-1991, I taught introductory American history at a Michigan community college. When explaining how relations between the American colonies and Britain deteriorated between the French and Indian War and our Revolution, I noted that similarly, with the Cold War threat from Moscow gone we would see Europe pull away from America. This was going on through Bush 41, Clinton, and Bush 43. So stop blaming cowboy policies on Europe's refusal to help out more or more openly. Or explain our strenthening friendships with Japan, Australia, India, and others in the face of so-called clumsy American actions and diplomacy.

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Our Thin Green Line

I watched Blackhawk Down tonight. It is the first time I’ve seen it since it was in the theater.

Remember that we went into Somalia to prevent the Somalis from dying in the hundreds of thousands from starvation.

We sent in inadequately armored forces—the real armor scandal in our recent history.

And remember that the Somali Moslems hated our guts and killed nineteen of our troops in that battle as we tried to stabilize the country so famine would not be a weapon in that country again.

Recall, too, that this hatred was well before the cowboy President Bush alienated the Moslem world by defending ourselves from Islamist nutball terrorists. Indeed, it was during our sensitive administration that should have inspired respect, love, and friggin’ happy thoughts about America.

And goddamn remember that we sent in young men with superb training, loyalty to their comrades, and faith in America to fight in that worthless piece of land that wasn’t worth the bones of a single West Virginian grenadier. And they fought superbly, bringing honor to our country and killing perhaps a thousand of the attackers in the process. And they got out of the trap that sprung around them while bringing out the targets they were sent in to capture. Two D-boys earned Medals of Honor that day—posthumously.

It was an epic battle. But it took place in a “peace operation” where we had no national security interests to defend. Shortly thereafter, we pulled out completely. So few Americans remember what our Rangers and Delta Force soldiers accomplished that day.

My God, that such men (and women) still fight and die for our country in Iraq and Afghanistan. I am humbled that such men stand between us at home and thugs abroad who would cheer if they could kill millions of us.

So in light of all this, to those in this country who speak ill of our troops while taking the word of our enemies at face value, wishing for our defeat in battle: Screw all of them.

And remember this, too. After the battle, one Somali judge was bewildered that we did not go after Aidid's faction after we decimated them in the battle. We had them on the ropes, he said. Aidid was nearly out of ammunition. The Somali gave his friend a firm warning:

"You know, Ken, if you were out of ammunition, Aidid would never stop fighting. You know that, right?" He was pounding my arm again. "You know that, right?"

America can’t let down our soldiers. Remember that in war, it is difficult to see how bad the enemy is hurt while we see every scrape and bruise on our side. Don’t snatch defeat from the jaws of victory. Not when our enemies won’t stop fighting if we don’t win. We know that. Right?

UN Security Council

The United States backs adding two new veto-holding UN Security Council members:

"We will likely support adding two or so permanent members to the Security Council," Undersecretary of State Nicholas Burns told reporters, stressing that Japan was the only country it had endorsed.

In addition, "we will also support two or three additional non-permanent seats," he said. "And that would expand the Council from its current size of 15 members to 19 or 20."

The five current permanent members are China, the United States, France, Britain and Russia.

The New York Times quoted an administration official as saying the second candidate would come from the developing world.

This rules out Germany. Germany's current foreign policy rules out our help right now, too. Good luck to Berlin in getting help from Paris on this one.

Brazil is the superpower of tomorrow. And always will be. And they have nuclear ambitions. I don't want to encourage the idea that you can be a poverty-stricken state but nukes get you on the UNSC.

Japan has been a stand up friend. India is drawing closer to us. And both would be helpful in containing China. Brazil and Germany would be useless for this and most everything else. For the next decade anyway. Who news if sanity will break out in those countries.

Any other expansion of the UNSC is just plain stupid.

One Thing For Sure. No, Three Things

When I read SecGen Annan's article of support for progress in Iraq, I was rather stunned given his declaration that he could work with Saddam; that the war to overthrow Saddam was illegal; and his early bug out from Iraq when the going got tough (after the UN refused to take our security advice):

Today I am traveling to Brussels to join representatives of more than 80 governments and institutions in sending a loud and clear message of support for the political transition in Iraq.

I was sure of one thing: Annan is guilty as sin in the Oil for Food scandal and he is trying very hard to suck up to America in hope that promise of UN support in Iraq will restrain our calls for his corrupt hide.

But then I forgot the two other things this statement from Annan verifies:

When Kofi Annan tries to claim credit for success in Iraq, it's a pretty good sign of two things: success is unmistakeable, and the UN had nothing to do with it.

So that's three things we know for sure now.

A Republic--If They Can Keep It

The Lebanese have spoken loudly against Syrian domination:

The anti-Syrian opposition led by Saad Hariri captured control of Lebanon's parliament Monday in the fourth and final round of the country's elections, breaking Syria's long domination of the country.

So far, so good. But I'm not confident that the Syrians have agreed to go:

Former Communist Party leader George Hawi was killed by an explosion under his seat as he was being driven through west Beirut. The blast came a day after official results of parliamentary elections were announced, showing the anti-Syrian opposition had won a majority in parliament.

Syria get political leverage in its conflict with Israel and lots of cash from skimming from the Lebanon economy and from Syrians working in Lebanon. I find it hard to believe that the hard gentlemen from Damascus will let that go because we and the French looked cross at them.

We shall see how badly the Lebanese want to defend their freedom when their revolt moves beyond the "protest babe" phase.

I wish them luck.

Monday, June 20, 2005

A Consistent Call for Freedom

Secretary Rice spoke to the Egyptians and Saudis and told them that freedom and not stability is our policy:

"We believe any reform will expose the fact that there are universal values and freedoms that people aspire to," Rice said, with the foreign minister of dynastic Saudi Arabia at her side. "We believe the people of the Middle East, we believe the people of Saudi Arabia, are no different in that regard."

Earlier in the day in Cairo, Rice took her case for wider political freedom directly to the Arab public with an address as notable for its setting — Egypt, an important U.S. ally — as its content.

"Throughout the Middle East, the fear of free choices can no longer justify the denial of liberty," Rice said at Cairo's American University. "It is time to abandon the excuses that are made to avoid the hard work of democracy."

Democracy is the "ideal path for every nation," Rice told a polite but restrained audience of about 600 invited government officials, academics and others.

Both Saudi Arabia and Egypt have taken some steps toward political change while insisting that reform must be on their terms and timetables.

Good things to say even if we don't need to start saying the same thing about Iran a little more forcefully in the months ahead.

Election Fallout

The Iranian mullahs are rigging an election in plain sight. They are trying to buy time to get nukes by appearing to be a democracy and counting on friends abroad to help this fiction survive long enough for this goal.

Press coverage of the ongoing Iranian elections have been enraging because few questioned that the election going on in Tehran is anything but a farce. People more willing to believe that our 2004 election was tainted convey legitimacy by their language. This article (via Real Clear Politics), while I won't say it is typical, is outrageous in its contention that Iran is not so totalitarian:

Here, in "totalitarian" Tehran, I can sit in a shared taxi and hear five people, all strangers to each other, lambasting the hypocrisy and venality of their rulers. Iran is often described as a "religious dictatorship," but it is nevertheless possible to buy surrealist novels that refer to drug abuse and homosexuality (I am now reading such a book, Sadegh Hedayat's classic, "The Blind Owl").

Most significant of all, Iranians are no surer of who will win the coming election than Americans were in November.

How nice. If you can read about drug abuse and homosexuality, it must be free? That somebody could pretend that in Iran all is well with the political space is mind boggling.

Our President, fortunately, is not confused about what is going on in Iran. He announced:

"Power is in the hands of an unelected few who have retained power through an electoral process that ignores the basic requirements of democracy," Bush said in a statement.

And the election has not been disappointing to those like the President who expect nothing but thuggery and trickery in the faux election taking place. But Ledeen says that the Iranian mullahs are losing their killer edge in this obvious farce. He used to fear their ruthlessness and their unity in the face of opposition:

The electoral fiasco of June 17 has shaken both of these convictions. They couldn’t even stage a phony election without appearing inept and thuggish, which is certainly not the image they wanted to send to the world. And the spectacle of intense internal conflict among leading figures in the Islamic republic makes me wonder if the revolution is beginning to devour its own fathers and sons.

First, the numbers. The regime had made it clear that the size of the turnout would indicate its legitimacy with the public, so they had to come up with big numbers. After hours of hilarious confusion, during which the "official" numbers oscillated wildly and different vote totals were announced by the interior ministry and the Council of Guardians, the regime finally decided to claim that something like 65 percent of eligible Iranians had voted. But most clear-eyed observers with the freedom to move around the country and actually go to polling places, found very few voters. The Mujahedin Khalq, the longtime allies of Saddam Hussein who have long been a source of information on things Iranian, estimated that the real figure was about 10 percent.

I rather doubt that 2 million Pakistani Shias were bussed into Iran for the election as Ledeen relates one source stated. How could you hide that? And why bother when the Iranians just marked up ballots for their boy?

The mullahs continued the farce by trying to explain how the hardliner they like staged an upset to reach the runoff election:

"I say to Bush: `Thank you,'" quipped Intelligence Minister Ali Yunesi. "He motivated people to vote in retaliation."

Bush's comments — blasting the ruling clerics for blocking "basic requirements of democracy" — became a lively sideshow in Iran's closest election since the 1979 Islamic Revolution. And they highlighted again the United States' often crossed-wire efforts to isolate Iran.

Bush described the election as an exercise in futility because Iran's real power rests with the non-elected Islamic clerics, who can override the president and parliament. Many agree with that description of a regime that allowed just eight presidential candidates from more than 1,000 hopefuls.

This demonstrates both a sense of humor on the part of the mullahs as well as a good understanding of the loyal opposition in America that the mullahs count on to stay our hand in a crisis. The mullahs know that it is a matter of faith among the President's rabid opponents that anything that Bush is for must by definitition be bad. These American opponents of the administration thoroughly believe that when the President says the Iranian elections are a farce, Iranian people who normally oppose the mullahs will leap up to defend the government and show support. Never mind that Iranians are generally more pro-American than San Francisco or your average university's history department. What a laugh.

And why should we care about this farce? Aside from just wanting people to be free? Well remember this:

Iran has admitted that it conducted small-scale experiments to create plutonium, one of the pathways to building nuclear weapons, for five years beyond the date then it previously insisted it had ended all such work, a senior official of the International Atomic Energy Agency is expected to report Thursday.

One sample processed in 1995. Another in 1998. We'll ignore that defenders of Iran say that Bush provoked Iran to go nuclear by his Axis of Evil speech.

We cannot let Iran go nuclear. And we can't let Iran get away with stealing another election. I just don't know if the Iranian people have it in them to do something about the dictatorship in Tehran. There will be fallout from this election. Will it be political or an actual mushroom cloud?

Regime change in Tehran. Soon. That Strategic Petroleum Reserve will be full in the fall. Let's get on with it. Time may be short.

Sunday, June 19, 2005

Da Bushci Code

I've been meaning to comment on the Downing Street memo. All the usual suspects who could read a Denny's menu and from their reading of the dessert section demand the impeachment of the president are up in arms over the memo. I'm dog tired so it won't be tonight. But really, the memo says nothing to justify the salivating cries from the anti-war side.

Which makes this suggestion (via Instapundit) that the memo is forged so perplexing.

Why on Earth would anybody forge such a lame attempt at framing the president? You have to be really rabid to believe this memo says anything. Perhaps for those writing it, if it is fake, the same holds true. Anything slapped on paper is rock solid in their feverish mood.

I find it hard to believe it is a fake. Why would anybody bother?

Saturday, June 18, 2005

We Do Not Need More US Troops in Iraq

I've consistently argued that we have had enough troops in Iraq to win. Recently, some have called for sending additional troops to Iraq. This was noted by a reporter in this DOD press conference:

General, can I follow up on that? Western Iraq, in Anbar province, there's been a number of stories in recent weeks quoting Marine officers, on the record, saying quite simply there aren't enough troops in Anbar province to deal with the threat and to deal with the size of Anbar province and the territory. And yet, from the podium we hear all the time that there's plenty of U.S. troops in Iraq and that there's no shortage of troops. Can you explain the disconnect? I mean, are you hearing anything similar from Marines in Anbar province, that they're just short men?

They've resurrected their complaint that we invaded Iraq with too few troops and that this is the reason for our continuing problems in Iraq.

Nice theory, but it founders on two basic flaws. First, the call to add more troops—to double them as Tom Friedman recently advocated—assumes we are losing and must add troops to win. Contrary to this assumption, we are most clearly winning. Second, the call for more troops assumes Iraq is largely a military problem. Counter-insurgency is a political problem that military means buy time to achieve.

Remember that in the invasion we overwhelmed the Iraqi military and seized Baghdad without a bloody siege while suffering few casualties. Just how would more troops have made this outcome better? Clearly, we had enough troops to defeat Saddam's military.

But since the invasion and immediate aftermath, the critics say, we have had too few troops for counter-insurgency. So, that means we are losing? Not quite. We have contained the insurgency to the Sunni heartland, defeated the fool al-Sadr, and split the Sunni resistance. All with military means in a campaign that historically speaking has been low cost in battle deaths.

Could more troops on the ground have stopped the looting in the immediate aftermath of the fall of Baghdad? Well not if they didn't shoot a few hundred Iraqi civilians to send a message. Otherwise we would have just had more troops standing around watching looting. Shooting was the key, not how many were doing the shooting—or doing the watching. Besides, the assumption is that the looting emboldened the defeated Baathists to begin an insurgency when in fact the insurgency was planned prior to the war. Under these circumstances, would shooting looters have simply given the enemy a propaganda coup to enflame resistance? Good grief, we catch hell from Amnesty International for our kid-gloves treatment of prisoners at Gitmo and earned hatred for treatment at Abu Ghraib that would have been seen as mild hazing in a 1950s college fraternity initiation ritual.

Alternatively, we are told that the looting wrecked the economy and hamstrung our post-war reconstruction. But in fact the problem with Iraq's infrastructure was the neglect it suffered under since Saddam took power and embarked on foreign military adventures. Given how careful we were to avoid destroying anything of civilian value, if Iraq had invested in the infrastructure over the prior 25 years, some looting of office furniture, computers, and a few museum artifacts would have been put right rather quickly. Iraq's economy was not a rebuilding problem—it is a building problem.

And what of the consequences of adding more troops to Iraq? We couldn't do it without breaking our ground forces so we'd need more troops in an expanded Army and Marine Corps. We'd have had to mobilize the entire Army Reserves and Army National Guard as well to have troops until the new troops are raised, equipped, and trained. Would our public have accepted the financial and human costs of this move? And more troops in Iraq would have meant more casualties. More troops sitting in road blocks? Targets. More convoys on the road to supply the additional troops? More targets. With home morale going wobbly as it is, would higher casualties have made our staying power problem better or worse? Or are advocates of larger troop commitments saying that these additional troops would have allowed us to militarily defeat the enemy and suppress the insurgency over the last two years? I think that is far fetched.

This assumption of needing a military victory is related to the second major error of the troop increase advocates. Winning the Iraq insurgency is not a military task. Mr. Dirita stated this clearly:

It's -- you know, we've from the beginning laid out -- the president has laid out some objectives with respect to Iraq and its transition. He's talked about the transfer of sovereignty, which happened. It happened almost one year ago -- and since then, a great deal of political development, which was another objective. In other words, transfer sovereignty to the Iraqi government and then let that Iraqi government start developing, which it's doing. It has had several major milestones of electoral actions. It'll have more going forward, and they're scheduled. And there's a constitution -- a law that allows for that.

Greater involvement by the international community -- that's happening. NATO has a training mission in Iraq. The coalition remains more or less about where it is, with 30-plus or -minus countries involved.

Continued effort in the reconstruction of Iraq -- and that's happening. We're -- we've probably expended or at least obligated to expend, I would say, something south of $10 billion and heading further.

And then the development of the Iraqi security forces.

So there's no military definition of success. The definition of success is those things: the Iraqi government taking responsibility for its own decisions, which it's increasingly doing; reconstruction continuing, which is going on. Sovereignty has already occurred. So those things will happen.

I've argued since the insurgency got going that the key was getting the Iraqis to fight while we pulled into the background in reserve. Would the Iraqis have liked it if we thoroughly Americanized the fight? No. Having a quarter million American troops in Iraq would have alienated Iraqis and discouraged effective Iraqi contributions to the fight. Iraqis would have been content to let us fight and would have hedged their bets by staying neutral. In time, more people would have decided that we were an occupying power and sided with the insurgents. If we had turned this into a pure occupation of all Iraq, even 250,000 would have been insufficient and we'd have had to double that again to get enough troop density. And to what end? To crush all Iraqis instead of liberating the Shias and Kurds while giving Sunnis a chance to join a free Iraq? Our goal was to free Iraq—not occupy it. Troop density arguments are more useful when talking about suppressing a hostile population, I think. We had 80% of Iraqis on our side or leaning toward us, and a too high profile would have alienated all but a small number of Iraqis.

Yes, the resistance still attacks at rates that have remained constant over the last year. This does not mean we are in a stalemate in the war. Looking at it from the enemy's point of view, over the last year the insurgents have been unable to expand the insurrection beyond the Sunni base and have been unable to stop us from creating a new Iraqi government and military. It has been a military stalemate but that benefits us. A battlefield stalemate means that our military has provided the shield and bought the time to build up the political strength that is the real means to defeating the insurgency. This press briefing put it nicely and shows the DOD is certainly aware of this. I’m glad Dirita noted it:

And that is -- but keep in mind -- look at it from the terrorists' perspective. They are doing all these attacks, and yet transitional administrative law, the transition of sovereignty, 165,000 Iraqi security forces. So if you're looking at it from the terrorists' perspective and saying, What do we have to do? These people aren't stopping, they're moving forward and they're going to take control of this country and they're going to have their own security forces.

So I just turn the question back around. If you asked this question on May 1st, 2003, what's the progress, and we said, Well, at a certain point in time we want to have the Iraqis have their own sovereignty, we want to have the 165,000 security forces, it would have been fair at that point to say, Well, how the heck do you get there? But now we're there.

We've bolstered our standing with the Shias, kept the Kurds with us, started building Iraqi governmental and security forces, enticed the Sunnis to think about ending the insurgency, and have begun to rebuild the economy. The enemy has failed to inspire a national resistance against us and instead has provided a foreign jihadi enemy that Shias, Kurds, and Sunnis can all hate.

We've done all this without all the extra troops some say we need to win. Just because some commanders say they’d like more troops doesn’t mean we need more troops. Any commander would like more troops. Their job is to carry out the narrow military mission. They are not the theater commander nor the grand strategist. On the tactical level, any commander wants more troops. As General Conway said:

And I'm not saying that we're not taking them seriously. I'm simply saying that their perspective is that of a lieutenant or a captain; it deals with their immediate surroundings and doesn't always take into account the large picture and some of the things that their commanders are doing to try to facilitate their concerns.

Remember, we are winning with our current strategy. I think the burden of proof is on those who want more troops to explain what they'd do with them; where we'd get them; and how we'd maintain a larger combat force in the Army and Marine Corps. Then I'd want them to explain how our current victory path would be smoother with more troops and show that we wouldn't undermine what we've accomplished thus far.

Our weakness does not lie in Iraq. It is at home.

Our Center of Gravity

Though we are winning in Iraq and in the war on terror, our public is tiring of the struggle. Opinion polls show more support for getting our troops out of Iraq. I'm not sure what to make of it since other polling would surely show we should win. Heck, while I want to win, I too want to get our troops out of the fighting business in Iraq and eventually out completely.

Victor Hanson has an excellent article on who we fight. His concluding remarks:

The problem the administration faces is not entirely a military one: Our armed forces continue to perform heroically and selflessly under nearly impossible conditions of global scrutiny and hypercriticism. There has not been an attack on the U.S. since 9/11 — despite carnage in Madrid and over 1,000 slaughtered in Russia by various Islamic terrorists during the same period.

Rather, the American public is tiring of the Middle East, its hypocrisy and whiny logic — and to such a degree that it sometimes unfortunately doesn't make distinctions for the Iraqi democratic government or other Arab reformers, but rather is slowly coming to believe the entire region is ungracious, hopeless, and not worth another American soldier or dollar.

This is a dangerous trend. Despite murderous Syrian terrorists, dictatorial Saudis, crazy Pakistanis, and triangulating European allies, and after so many tragic setbacks, we are close to creating lasting democratic states in Afghanistan and Iraq — states that are influencing the entire region and ending the old calculus of Middle Eastern terror. We are winning even as we are told we are losing. But the key is that the American people need to be told — honestly and daily — how and why those successes came about and must continue before it sours on the entire sorry bunch.

I haven't mentioned this lately, but I know I did earlier in the insurgency and terror campaign in Iraq, but this erosion of support is the fault of our administration. It has been an error to assume public support and that we will win quickly enough to make erosion of public support irrelevant.

From the President on down, the administration has failed to hammer home the point that we are at war and that we are winning. There is no need for sugar coating but our people must be bolstered in their faith in ultimate victory. Instead, opponents of the war have moved into the vacuum to question our goals, or tactics, and the integrity of our soldiers and Marines. So our people hear what those who have always opposed this fight and what those easily discouraged have to say. Is it any wonder that poll numbers are weak?

The President has replied to the silly Kucinich-inspired withdrawal resolution by vowing we will not withdraw before victory:

"The terrorists and insurgents are trying to get us to retreat. Their goal is to get us to leave before Iraqis have had a chance to show the region what a government that is elected and truly accountable to its citizens can do for its people," Bush said in his weekly radio address.

"We will settle for nothing less than victory" over terrorists there, he said later.

Bush's radio address is part of a series of appearances and speeches in the coming weeks aimed at countering poll ratings that are near their lowest levels on both the Iraq war and the economy. Bush said his administration is committed to success in both areas of concern for Americans.

This is good. But it is not enough. Not nearly. I hope it really is the start of real communication with our people. Our troops will not let us down if we do not let them down. Shortage of armor--mythical or real--will not stop our troops. We as a nation need our determination armored up far more.

Marines and Iraqis on Offensive

Beginning last month, US forces--mostly Marines--began a number of offensives along the infiltration routes ("rat lines") from Syria to Baghdad where jihadis and supplies trickle into Iraq. I was glad we were taking the fight to the enemy out in the boonies as Iraqis took over major responsibility in Baghdad and other cities in the heartland, but I was worried that no Iraqis were with us in these new operations.

In quick succession, we have Operation Spear of a thousand Marines and Iraqi troops hitting the entry point from Syria; and Operation Dagger of a thousand Marines and Iraqi troops hitting the interior where the enemy may prepare to attack us in the cities.

Since one Marine said this was about killing the enemy and not holding territory, I don't get the impression that we're at the point of leaving Iraqis behind to control the areas we hit. But this is better than just hitting the enemy with our troops alone. This in an Iraqi war to win and we must never forget that our job is to push Iraqis to be able to do the job on their own, with our help declining as Iraqis get more proficient in various aspects of fighting and logistics and all the other things we do to make our trigger pullers so deadly.

And further back on the ratline, we have a domestic success:

"[Muhammad Yunis] Ahmad is first among the U.S. Central Command's list of key insurgent leaders, and the multinational forces in Iraq are offering a reward of $1 million for his capture," the director of Treasury's Office of Foreign Assets Control Robert Werner said in a statement.

The United States ordered Ahmad's assets blocked under a presidential executive order that allows the government to freeze assets of individuals or groups it believes are members of the former Iraqi regime or are supporting terrorist organizations.

Now if we could just get at the Saudis who are supplying many of the jihadis who bring their own money.

What To Do With a Broken Europe

Robert J. Samuelson says that Europe is broken:

Europe as we know it is slowly going out of business. Since French and Dutch voters rejected the proposed constitution of the European Union, we've heard countless theories as to why: the unreality of trying to forge 25 E.U. countries into a United States of Europe; fear of ceding excessive power to Brussels, the E.U. capital; and an irrational backlash against globalization. Whatever their truth, these theories miss a larger reality: Unless Europe reverses two trends -- low birthrates and meager economic growth -- it faces a bleak future of rising domestic discontent and falling global power. Actually, that future has already arrived.

Let me just say that this post on a Tim Blair comment seems appropriate:

These primitive countries should be busted down to component form and sold for spare parts.

Seriously, Samuelson says we need a prosperous Europe for our own sake. And he paints a bleak picture for Europe's hopes for reversing these trends with their current outlook. I agree, in part. Somebody with money has to buy our stuff and outside of Europe the customers aren't all that thick on the ground. And it would be good to have Europeans strong enough to be allies--if they want to be allies, of course.

But I hope that European states will be prosperous and not some united Europe. Europeans can be our allies. Europe, I think, cannot be our ally.