Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Legal Beagle

Stupidity may sometimes be excused. Persistent stupidity has no defense.

Paul Campos doubles down on his earlier idiotic take on Guantanamo by demonstrating that he really does think the thugs in Gitmo are a legal issue:

It is a sign of how indefensible Guantanamo is that its defenders have been reduced to arguing that comparing it to a miniature gulag is unfair. Apparently, the claim that a prison camp is not as bad as the gulag is considered an adequate justification for imprisoning men for years on end, under brutal conditions, often on the flimsiest of pretexts, with no prospect of ever being allowed to tell their story to a court or any other neutral judge of their guilt or innocence.

Good grief, man! We are at war. These are enemy combatants and not some ethnic-looking guys picked up for loitering. Their profession of innocence is irrelevant. They are generally not accused of crimes--they are the enemy captured on the battlefield. And these thugs are not held in brutal conditions or on flimsy pretexts. These assertions by Campos are simply ignorant. Writers would not have to tell Campos that Gitmo is no gulag if he didn't pretty much insist that the comparison is true.

Campos can prattle on all he wants about proving the guilt of the thugs at Gitmo but that is quite irrelevant to the actual situation. A legal eagle he ain't.

Jockeying for Position

Back in the fall, I wondered whether we would strike Iran first to stop them from getting nuclear weapons or whether Iran would strike us first in Iraq in order to gain the final amount of time to go nuclear.

The Samarra terror attack seemed to fit right into Ahmadinejad's religious views and his nuclear goals. And of course, the idiot Sadr was keeping his place at his master's side.

So when Belmont Club relates that the Iranians are planning to strike soon in a so-called Nauroz offensive and that they are moving al Qaeda assets, I have to worry again. The Asia Times piece said:

Security contacts have told Asia Times Online that several al-Qaeda members have been moved from detention centers to safe houses run by Iranian intelligence near Tehran. The aim of these people in Iran is to establish a chain of anti-US resistance groups that will take the offensive before the West makes its expected move against Tehran. ... Many believe that the US is planning preemptive military action against Iran.

On the other hand, the source Wretchard cites says the Samarra strike has torn apart the Sunni-Shia alliance the Iranians were counting on to be the base of the anti-American onslaught.

Will this cause the Iranians to think of a conventional strike on Basra instead?

Or will we actually strike first--or a very close second?

Troublesome Cleric

The threat of civil war in Iraq seems fairly real until you realize that the attacks on Sunni mosques strangely seem to be mostly centered around one spot:

Most of the attacks on Sunni mosques over the last week took place on the fringes of Sadr City, a vast Shiite slum where the Shiite militia responsible for much of the violence, the Mahdi Army, functions as an unofficial police force. To some Baghdad residents, the mosque attacks were as much about the crime growing out of Baghdad's poverty and general lawlessness as they were about sectarianism.

Makes it seem a little less like a country on the verge of a civil war when you consider this.

Will somebody not rid us of this troublesome cleric?

UPDATE: These two articles quoted by Instapundit highlight another feeling I've had since the bombing of the shrine: that the press is simply reporting on violence that has been ongoing in Iraq but are now ascribing Samarra as the cause and concluding that the civil war is nigh. And of course they continue to ignore progress in the midst of war.

Taiwan to Peking: Have a Nice Life

The Taiwanese just filed for formal separation:

Taiwanese President Chen Shui-bian on Monday shut down the committee responsible for unifying with rival China, significantly deepening tensions with Beijing and defying opinion in Washington.

After a one-hour meeting with the National Security Council, Chen announced he was ending the National Unification Council and doing away with its guidelines, which commit Taiwan to eventual unification with the mainland.

"The National Unification Council will cease to function," Chen said. "The National Unification Guidelines will cease to apply."

Chen's move came despite dire warnings from Beijing, which on Sunday accused him of stoking tensions across the volatile Taiwan Strait.

"The further escalation of Taiwanese independence and secessionist activities, pushed by Chen Shui-bian, will no doubt cause a serious crisis," said a Chinese government statement.

The United States played down Chen's decision to terminate the committee, with State Department spokesman Adam Ereli saying it "has not been abolished. It's been frozen."

China is not amused. Their president, Hu Jintao, condemned the move:

Hu's criticism came amid a series of stern Chinese statements Tuesday that vilified Taiwanese President Chen Shui-bian but refrained from repeating Beijing's frequent threats to attack the island, which it claims as part of its territory.

The Chinese Foreign Ministry called on the United States, Taiwan's only major ally, to block any moves toward independence for the island, split from the mainland since 1949.

Hu accused Chen of taking a "dangerous step" toward independence.

"We will continue to strive for the prospect of peaceful unification, but we will never allow Taiwan to be split from the motherland," state media quoted Hu as saying.

The high-level warning reflected the depth of Beijing's alarm at Chen's decision Monday to abolish the National Unification Council along with guidelines calling for uniting Taiwan with the communist mainland.

Chen "is determined to push 'Taiwan independence' to create antagonism and conflict within Taiwan and across the strait," the ruling Communist Party said in a statement carried by the official Xinhua News Agency.

"It will only bring disaster to Taiwan society," the statement said.

The Taiwanese have not broken relations but we can all see where this is going. Irreconcilable differences, I'd say. The only question is who gets to keep the china. And whether the Taiwanese will pay for the restraining order to keep the Chinese at bay.

UPDATE: The Weekly Standard reports on America's support for Taiwan's move. China wants to support Iran in its confrontation with America? Well two can play the geopolitical card, Peking. Good luck running your Iranian oil past Fifth Fleet, India, Seventh Fleet, and Taiwan if it comes to crunch time.

Monday, February 27, 2006

Hot Bloodied

The Argentinians have (via Real Clear Politics) apparently forgotten the drubbing they received in 1982 after grabbing the Falklands Islands from the British:

AN INCREASINGLY anxious UK government is closely monitoring a build-up of Argentinian military strength and a series of confrontations with the RAF close to the Falkland Islands, Scotland on Sunday can reveal.

The activity has led Tony Blair's most senior advisers to demand he issues a "hands-off" warning to Buenos Aires.

Are the Argentinians serious? The British are hard pressed to maintain a garrison there:

The British military presence in the South Atlantic has dropped from 1,900 troops in 1998 to 1,200 now, while 8,000 troops are deployed in Iraq and 3,000 are heading for Afghanistan. The Falklands garrison is dwarfed by the 20,000-strong British presence in Germany, the 10,000 in Northern Ireland and even 3,400 in Cyprus.

I suggest the British redeploy their 20,000 in Germany. The ingrates there apparently don't need any allies so let them fend for themselves. Will Germany send troops to the South Atlantic for their British ally? Yeah, right.

In college in 1982, when we discussed what the British would do, a number of people in my political science class argued that Britain was doomed to defeat because they did not have a 3:1 ratio of troops to take the islands back. I scoffed and noted accurately that the ratio assumes comparable troops on either side of the conflict and that the superiority of the British troops meant that the Brits would wipe up the Argentinians.

Argentina may have twice the air power of 1982, but should Buenos Aires decide to have another go at the islands, I have no doubt the British will trounce the Argentinians again.

I swear to God, you never can tell when a war will break out over some stupid issue. Remember that when you tell me again how it would make no sense at all for China to invade Taiwan.

UPDATE: I was going to write about this in the context of what the hell is going on in Latin America but dropped the thread. Chile's outgoing president says there is nothing to worry about with leftists leaders coming to power in the region. I agree that leftist governments are no reason to worry in isolation. Free elections are free elections. As long as those continue, the voters can change their minds. But whackjobs like Chavez in power, Aristide pining for his half of the island, and Argentina probing the Falklands don't exactly comfort me.

Drive On

The panic over the much-hoped-for civil war in Iraq (at least by those opposed to the war) seems to be subsiding.

The violence in Iraq over the Sammara shrine bombing is petering out faster than the violence over the Dutch cartoons:

Throughout Iraq, passions aroused by Wednesday's bombing of an important Shiite Muslim shrine in Samarra and reprisals against Sunni Muslim clerics and houses of worship appeared to have subsided considerably. Curfews and a ban on vehicle traffic were lifted in several mixed Sunni-Shiite provinces but continued in the capital, where children took over empty streets to play soccer.

And the Sunnis are coming back to the bargaining table over a new government:

Leaders of the main Sunni Arab political bloc have decided to return to suspended talks over the formation of a new government, the top Sunni negotiator said Sunday. The step could help defuse the sectarian tensions that threatened to spiral into open civil war last week after the bombing of a Shiite shrine and the killings of Sunnis in reprisal.

And the war on the ground continues to go our way despite the panic of some over the very normal event of the enemy not wanting to go along with our victory plan:

In one of his closing comments, Mr. Buckley assumes that eventually President Bush and the military leaders will acknowledge a tactical setback and instead insist on the survival of strategic policies. He has the tactical and strategic definitions confused. The war has been an overwhelming tactical success. Even the enemy has conceded this, which is why the terrorists have relied upon the sensational news of blowing up innocent civilians. Since they are unable to confront coalition forces or the Iraqi Army, they have targeted the weakest link, yet survive upon the benefits that the mainstream media and the left have provided. Those unwilling to continue the success in Iraq look upon the negative news and are adamant that this must be leading to a civil war, thus, indicating defeat in the overall mission. On the contrary, the President and top military leaders have maintained a consistent vision for success in the strategic arena which requires a firm commitment to ensure a free and democratic Iraq.

I know many Americans will be disappointed that we did not lose this week. But at the end of the day, the grownups are continuing to fight the war and cope with the enemy's moves. And none of those reactions should include jumping on the kitchen chair and shrieking "Eek!" William F. Buckley included.

History and not hysteria will guide us to victory.

UPDATE: Jack Kelly echoes my thoughts.

Why They Get Paid the Big Bucks

From the UN Commission on the Bleeding Obvious:

The International Atomic Energy Agency released a report today saying that it cannot conclude that Iran's nuclear program is intended for peaceful purposes only, as Tehran insists, unless Iran provides more information about its past activities, an agency official said.

Ya think?

UPDATE: Vital Perspectives links to the full text of the report.

Some Confusion Over the Concept

Germany and America are NATO allies. You know--allies. We share common values and goals and help each other attain them? Remember how we freed them from Nazi rule, then integrated them into the West rather than destroy them, and then defended them from the communists? And then supported the reunion of east and west Germany after we defeated the communist threat? And then took on the problems of a disintegrating Yugoslavia when the Germans and their Euro friends proved inadequate? You know, "allies?"

Well it seems the Germans are completely unclear on the concept:

Germany denied on Monday that its intelligence officials obtained a copy of Saddam Hussein's defense plan for Baghdad and passed it on to U.S. commanders a month before the 2003 Iraq invasion.

The allegation that two German spies operating in the Iraqi capital before the war provided key military information to the United States -- at a time when the Berlin government was voicing strong public opposition to a U.S. invasion -- appeared on Monday in an article in The New York Times.

The report suggested that German intelligence officials offered much more significant assistance to the United States than their government has publicly acknowledged.

But German government spokesman Ulrich Wilhelm and the BND foreign intelligence agency both issued strong denials.

"The allegation that two BND agents had Saddam Hussein's plan for defending the Iraqi capital and, one month prior to the start of the war, passed it on to the United States -- as described in The New York Times today -- is false," Wilhelm told a regular government news conference.

There is a furor that the Germans passed on some Iraqi plans? You'd think the Germans were caught secretly deploying a division to the war. On top of the outrage over some allegations the Germans shared intelligence information with us during the war, I have to seriously question why we consider Germany an ally. Because the Germans have a seriously different definition, apparently.

I try very hard not to despair about the future of our European alliance. And the attidude of the Germans especially really hurt after being such a good friend so long. But I guess they just needed us. They better hope they've guessed they won't need our help again. I'm not so sure Americans would be willing to fight for these ingrates any time soon. If the continent is dying, could we save those willing to be saved and say to hell with the rest?

Saturday, February 25, 2006

Double Check

Strategypage notes a checklist of warning signs that would indicate we will soon attack Iran:

February 22, 2006: Before any major military operation, there are always tell tale signs. With all the talk about Israel or the United States bombing Iran's nuclear weapons program, it would be wise to check for the signs before taking the pundit prattle too seriously.

1. - The U.S. Navy stages a "surge exercise" and moves six carrier battle groups into the Indian Ocean.

2. - A "regularly scheduled exercise" moves Patriot Missile Batteies to Iraq, Kuwait, and Saudi Arabia. These exercises happen from time to time, but if they happen when other things are happening.

3. -- Movement of B-52 and B1B bombers to the island of Diego Garcia (in the Indian Ocean).

4. -- Deployment of F117 stealth bombers and F-22 fighters to anywhere in the Persian Gulf.

5. -- Deployment of B-2 Stealth Bombers to Guam, where there are special facilities for maintaining these aircraft.

6. -- Lockdown of Whitman Air Force Base (where most B-2 bombers are stationed) in Missouri.

7. -- Increased delivery of Pizza to Pentagon

8. -Sudden loss of cell service near some air force bases (from which heavy bombers would depart). At the same time, there would be sightings of Middle Eastern looking guys around these bases, trying to get their cell phones to work, while being observed by what appears to be FBI agents.

9. Deployment of KC-135/KC-10 aerial tankers to Diego Garcia, Guam and the Persian Gulf.

10. America asks nations neighboring Iran for basing and over flight rights.

These warning signs are no secret, and intelligence officers regularly run down their check lists. As a result, nations will sometimes stage a false alert by deliberately performing many of the items on someone's check list, with no intention of following through.

Look, one of my weaknesses in looking at events is that I tend to assume we can do things a little more secretly than we really can.

But I am assuming that when we deal with Iran, we will have learned some lessons from telegraphing our punch so much against Iraq and will minimize our warning signs.

Given that we know these signs, what could we hide for a time period long enough to gain surprise?

First, just because we have surged carriers for Desert Storm, Enduring Freedom, and Iraqi Freedom does not mean we will need to do so for Iran. We now have air bases in Turkey, Iraq, Kuwait, the UAE, Oman, Afghanistan, and Central Asia. Given the power of precision weapons, I don't think we need aircraft carriers to put sufficient air power into action. Our surge ability already demonstrated will be better suited to deterring North Korea while we act.

Second, putting Patriots into Iraq is certainly necessary (don't we have them their already?), but Kuwait and Saudi Arabia could be shielded at least in part with sea-based assets, I bet. Surface combatants can more easily move around without drawing attention and smaller numbers of Patriots that might escape notice could fill in gaps.

Third, will we really need to move B-1s and B-52s to Diego Garcia before we strike? If we have sufficient shorter range assets, couldn't we place just the support assets on the base; and launch the bombers from their usual bases when the attack starts to hit Iran in a follow-up wave, recovering at Diego Garcia to rearm and refuel for further strikes? Remember, this isn't a one-shot strike. This will last weeks. So we don't need to telegraph our intentions by putting high profile aircraft in motion before the strike. Heck, declare a maintenance emergency for all our B-52s and say we are grounding them for inspections before we strike.

Fifth, the B-2s to Guam are probably more necessary for the first wave but depending on how many we need for the initial attack to supplement the aircraft in theater, maybe in isolation this wouldn't draw too much notice. Especially if we desensitize observers by deploying B-2s to Guam repeatedly without attacking. Have we been doing this?

Sixth, depending on whether we need the B-2s in Missouri for the first strike, do we need to do this before H-Hour?

Seventh, three words--peanut butter sandwiches. If we can't stop this and our Pentagon people aren't aware of this warning sign, we've got some serious problems.

Eighth, I'm not sure what we can do about this other than to manufacture another problem that strikes a wider area to mask the fact that we only want to affect the base area.

Ninth, again, this seems hard to hide but if assets close to Iran can handle the initial strikes, do we need to deploy so many ahead of time that we draw attention? Could the dual-purspose refueling/cargo planes be sent on widely dispersed cargo missions and then converge on needed bases right on the eve of the strikes?

Tenth, can't these be done ahead of time? And since Afghanistan, Turkey, Iraq, and the sea coast of Iran don't require overflight rights, who would we need to consult with to fly over? Even strikes from Indian soil could go around Pakistan if we had sufficient refueling capacity in India already.

Our enemies are looking for signs that we will strike. We know these signs. Can't we work around these signs or minimize them to obscure the pending blow?

Hope in Afghanistan

Canadian troops are taking the place of an American task force (an ad hoc battalion-sized mixed force) in southern Afghanistan.

Lt.-Col. Ian Hope is in charge of the Canadian battle group, based on the Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry, which is returning to Afghanistan to fight our common enemy.

Thank you Princess Pats and good hunting. We need you.

This move is part of a general transition to NATO command of operations:

Canadians have been patrolling the area for weeks, but Friday's ceremony marks the first in a series of command transitions that will culminate next week with the installation of Canadian Brig.-Gen. David Fraser as the head of coalition forces in southern Afghanistan.

His command will include major Dutch, British and U.S. contingents in the three provinces around Kandahar, replacing U.S. dominance with a multinational brigade.

The troops will all remain under the U.S. umbrella of Operation Enduring Freedom until summer, when NATO is expected to take over the southern region. NATO already leads the effort in northern and western Afghanistan through the International Security Assistance Force, or ISAF.

This will free up more of our forces and further reduce the stress on our ground forces. As I've noted before, the tempo of deployments and combat is giving our troops tremendous experience. This is making our military better. The tempo is also causing stress that could--although it is not now--reduce the effectiveness of our force by harming retention and morale. If we can reduce the stress on the force before we experience that negative trend, our ground forces will remain outstanding.

And I have to wonder if the American troops being freed up won't hang around for a while just in case they need to head west into Iran. You never know.

Let History and Not Hysteria Guide Us

Victor Hanson has an invaluable article on what a knowledge of military history would provide us in evaluating the Iraq War:

Seen in the history of past wars, the American effort to remove Saddam and seed democracy in the Middle East seems little short of miraculous. A successful military action has been carried out 7,000 miles from home. This has been done at far less human and material cost than almost any prior comparable U.S. war. A powerful, multi-pronged effort to eliminate the nexus of Arab autocracy and Islamism (the conditions that germinated bin Laden’s al-Qaeda terror) now continues to gain ground.

Sadly, most criticism is devoid of any such knowledge. This was particularly sad.

Even a bout of Shia anger at the Sunnis for failing to contribute to the defeat of the enemy inside Iraq will not make Hanson's point less true. The bottom line is that the Sunnis cannot beat either a combination of Shias and Kurds or the Shias alone if it comes to a full blown sectarian conflict. And if it does, it is no more "civil war" than the long reign of terror that the Sunnis inflicted on the Shias and Kurds under Saddam's rule. Is it bad? Yes. But we can still achieve our objectives.

And perhaps a good bout of real fear will finally bring wisdom to the Sunnis and lead them to turn fully on the Baathists and jihadis that hide among them and fight the Shias and Kurds in their name.

But as we see Shia anger in Iraq over the attack on their holy shrine, remember that in war it isn't all about our plan. The enemy has a plan and they are trying to win, too. So don't panic. It is ridiculous to conclude from this incident that we've failed in Iraq and had better get out before the full religous war is unleashed.

We've come a long way in this war and achieved much. Cope with the immediate crisis. Keep moving forward. And for Pete's sake, keep an eye on the Iranians and put that crisis-in-a-box Moqtada al Sadr out of commission.

UPDATE: Oh good grief. William F. Buckley has decided to panic. I honestly don't know what his position on the Iraq War has been up to now. But his reasoning in his piece is silly. News quotes of a couple Iraqis blaming us for the shrine bombing? Please. He could have switched positions at any time in the last three plus years if he only needed a couple quotes to persuade him of that. Or poll any humanities department faculty lounge, for that matter. And please recall how in the first year of the war, Shias routinely blamed us for bombings. Yet Buckley did no go belly up then, and we persevered and brought the Shias to our side fully.

And to insist that the successful attempts to transform Germany and Japan after World War II were actually easy and straightforward efforts is to forget the difficulties of the past and assume that because they did happen they must have happened. History is not inevitable. People made of sterner stuff than Buckley made that history. It is incomprehensible that Buckley actually relied on the attitude of the Iranian head nutjob to bolster his view. Really. Since we lost Ahmadinejad we've lost Iraq?

We are training an Iraqi security apparatus to defeat the insurgents and terrorists. We are pushing the Iraqis toward democracy and so far they are taking advantage of the chance paid for by American, Coalition, and Iraqi blood and sacrifice. One successful terror attack does not mean we have failed. Or did Buckley convert to Islam after 9-11?

Truly, I am disappointed that Buckley has written this ill-advised column. Our enemies may have defeated Buckley, but they have not defeated America. And they have not defeated democracy.

Friday, February 24, 2006

Have the Patience to Win

I've repeatedly written that I think it is self evident that we are winning the war in Iraq. Even as we win, support has dropped and the opposition has been getting bolder in calling for our retreat. This is mind boggling to me.

Victor Hanson (via Real Clear Politics), just back from Iraq, calls for patience:

Screaming Iraqis and mangled body parts still dominate Americans' nightly two minutes of news from Iraq. And, indeed, Iraq is still a scary place within the Sunni Triangle.

Opposition politicians in the United States charge that our troops don't have enough body protection or heavily armored Humvees — suggesting that our fighters have been almost criminally ignored. On CNN, a journalist laments that a prominent news colleague severely wounded near Taji is emblematic of the mess of the entire American effort.

But Iraq, like all wars, is not static. What was supposedly true on the ground in Iraq in 2003 is not necessarily so in 2006 — in the way that the situation in Europe in 1943 hardly resembled that of May 1945.

Yet while things have changed radically in Iraq, the pessimistic tone of our reporting remains calcified. Little is written about the new Iraqi government, the emergence of the Iraqi security forces or the radically changing role of the American military.

I recently listened to members of the newly elected Iraqi provincial council in strife-torn Kirkuk. All were enthusiastic about their new responsibilities. They were unabashedly argumentative with one another over security, electricity and oil production — but still confident that they could govern their own affairs. As the meeting broke up, a female council member whispered, "Tell the Americans thanks, but ask them to have patience with us."

Seriously people, have the patience to collect the victory we and our Iraqi friends are winning on the ground every day. A crisis like the shrine attack is one to weather--not one to prompt panic and retreat to the forces of chaos and evil that we are defeating every day.

When we win, I am seriously going to enjoy the mental gynastics of the unserious critics and academics (or am I being redundant?) as they explain just how we won after committing error after error in the so-called most ineptly waged war in history.

Any Port in a Storm

I haven't posted on the UAE port issue other than to wonder in an update to a post on another topic if the UAE is on board for our action against Iran to explain the President's hard veto defense threat for the deal.

Basically, I just wasn't alarmed about the issue. Even as the cries of foul cascaded, I could not work up outrage or worry. Just what was the worry over the UAE? Or the now-common foreign control of port loading and unloading operations?

I'm still not worried and the screeching seems to be dying down. I'm not even convinced that the administration did a poor job of selling the issue. Is the administration supposed to mount a full-court press on every seemingly routine issue that it decides? Really, who can tell what issue will inspire somebody to get worried and start the ball rolling?

Read Strategypage for the goods on the topic.

Thursday, February 23, 2006


Iran needs time to complete its nuclear weapons programs, so chaos in Iraq now when American military action may be imminent could provide enough of a distraction just as the Euro diplomacy route appears to be failing at long last. And Iran's lead nutball belives the end of the world will soon arrive when the Twelfth Iman arrives.

So is the consensus that al Qaeda is behind the Samarra shrine attack that smashed its golden dome a little off? Sure, the jihadis want chaos in Iraq, but so does Iran. Even if one of Zarqawi's boys did the deed, could Iran be the sender? Or even a more direct link?

And so is the reaction of Iran's Ahmadinejad to the attacks is perhaps a little forced? An attempt to deflect criticism?

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad blamed the United States and Israel on Thursday for the destruction of a Shiite shrine's golden dome in Iraq, saying it was the work of "defeated Zionists and occupiers."

Speaking to a crowd of thousands on a tour of southwestern Iran, the president referred to the destruction of the Askariya mosque dome in Samarra on Wednesday, which the Iraqi government has blamed on insurgents.

"They invade the shrine and bomb there because they oppose God and justice," Ahmadinejad said, alluding to the U.S.-led multinational forces in Iraq.

And speaking in southwest Iran, which is across from Basra which the Iranians have already insisted be freed from the British presence, is a little suspicious, too.

And when Ahmadinejad's good little hand puppet Sadr pipes up, too, isn't this a little worrying?

Radical Iraqi Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr, who cut short a visit to Lebanon after the blast, said blame must be laid either with the Americans or the Iraqi government.

"If responsibility is not in the hands of the Iraqi government, then I consider the responsibility for this event lies with the occupation forces which should either leave immediately or according to a timetable," al-Sadr said in Syria on his way back to Iraq.

Sadr in Syria, too. Well that isn't worrying at all, eh?

And remember that the shrine has a special place in the Shia belief in the end times:

The city is also home to the Al Askariya Mosque, containing the mausoleums of the Ali al-Hadi and Hasan al-Askari, the tenth and eleventh Shia Imams, respectively, as well as the shrine of Muhammad al-Mahdi, known as the "Hidden Imam", who was the twelfth and final Imam of the Shia. This has made it an important pilgrimage centre for Shia Muslims.

Just a coincidence? I sure hope so.

Look, civil war in Iraq would be a problem. But I tend not to worry too about this scenario much since the Shias already control the government and security forces, so why escalate to all-out war? It might be that fear of a real bloodbath will actually get the Sunnis to finally cut a deal before they are ethnically cleansed out of Iraq.

But I do worry about an Iranian offensive--perhaps a Sadr-fronted uprising--to change the course of the Iraq War, hold off American-led attacks on Iran's nuclear programs, capture Basra, and bring on the the appearance of the Twelfth Imam and start the final battle.

Iran may be far closer to having weaponized nukes than I feared. Could they have purchased one or the components for one ahead of their ability to build one? Does Ahmadinejad see the Samarra dome destruction as the beginning of his own domesday scenario?

UPDATE: More (via Austin Bay) on the linkage of the target shrine in Samarra and the end times prophecy:

The city's history is also wound up with an age-old Sunni-Shiite rivalry, as well as with the apocalyptic beliefs of many Shiite clerics, like Sadr. The shrine contains the tombs of Ali al-Hadi and his son Hasan al-Askari, the 10th and 11th imams of Shiite Islam who died in the 9th century. Legend has it that Askari's son, Muhammad al-Mahdi, was born in the city. It is one of four main Shiite pilgrimage sites in Iraq.

Mahdi was the 12th and final of the Shiite imams. Legend has it that he was "occulted" by God before his death, and will return to earth to bring an era of justice and peace, followed by the end of the world. Sadr's militia is named for this imam.

Sadr and his followers are convinced that the time for the Mahdi's return is close. "He disappeared into a supernatural realm from there ... so this will be interpreted as an attack on the imam al-Mahdi, an attack on their guy; so for the Sadr people it's an apocalyptic moment,'' says Cole. "There will be reprisals."

There was also outrage in Iran, the most populous Shiite state, whose president, Mahmoud Ahmedinejad, is a deep believer in the looming return of the Mahdi.

I'm sure as heck no expert on this, but the connection is suspicious.

And speaking of suspicious events that would benefit Iran and possibly buy them the time to go nuclear:

Suicide bombers in explosives-laden cars attempted to attack an oil processing facility that handles about two-thirds of Saudi Arabia's petroleum output on Friday, but were stopped when guards opened fire on them, causing the cars to explode, officials said.

Sure, I may be hyper-sensitive, but given that this is the first-ver attack of this type in Saudi Arabia though the jihadis have long wanted to hammer the Kingdom's oil wealth, who might have provided a little extra help to get them as far as they got?

If Iran is hip deep in these events I will not be surprised. They have the means and motives, I dare say. So who strikes first?

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

The Other International Test

Given that so many here insist that a broad coalition at our side shows our enemies that we have the backing of the international community and will improve our war effort, it is interesting to see what our enemies think of this theory.

The Gulf War of 1990-1991, is of course the Gold standard today for the "international test" crowd. You know, UN approval, French participation, and a host of supporting characters? If only we'd gotten the same level of support in Iraq in 2003 instead of a so-called sham coalition, our enemies would have known they were isolated and run in panic.

Great theory. Very tidy. But our enemies think of the Gulf War as a shameful easy victory. As for the value of allies in 1991? Well:

Even so, the Americans brought with them forces from 30 countries to take the blows on their behalf, should events not turn out the way they were supposed to. In the end, the Arabs, the Europeans, and Japan paid the costs of the war, plus fees!

Interesting that our enemies saw lots of allies and financial support in 1991 as a sign of our fear and weakness rather than a sign of strength.

The key is to just to go after the enemy in the field and kill them. With or without allies, with agents, or special forces, or brigades, or air power as appropriate, we must pursue the enemy and hit them repeatedly until none remain alive and the folly of waging jihad is clear to all.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Campos Pile

What a load of pure drivel (via Real Clear Politics). This law professor says the plight of one Taliban foot soldier shows how awful we are:

His real crime is that he was born in Afghanistan. This negligent act caused him to be conscripted by Taliban soldiers, who forced him to become a cook's assistant in the city of Narim. When Narim was attacked, he fled the city before surrendering to the Northern Alliance. These soldiers then turned the cook's assistant over to the American military, who imprisoned him at Guantanamo Bay.

The administration takes the view that being conscripted into the Taliban as a cook's assistant makes someone a terrorist, and that fleeing from aerial bombardment constitutes "engaging in hostilities" against United States forces. The administration also believes that such people should have no access to lawyers or courts, and that they should be "detained" - this is a polite word for being locked in a cage - and subjected to "coercive interrogation techniques," (which is a polite phrase for torture) until the end of the global war on terror, which is to say for the rest of their lives.

First of all, unless I am mistaken, we have 500 prisoners in Gitmo and the population of Afghanistan is about 25 million. Clearly, being born in Afghanistan isn't his real crime. Trying to kill us is the crime. And in point of fact, it isn't even a crime really since he was captured on the battlefield and not while robbing a 7-11.

And the second paragraph? My goodness, the idiocy flows. Why yes, being conscripted into the Taliban military counts as being our enemy. Duh. He wasn't a member of Doctors Without Borders, now was he? Being a cook isn't really relevant to being a member of the enemy's armed forces.

And yes, fleeing does not in fact make him less of a combatant. Why should we be penalized by winning? Or are we only allowed to wage war unsuccessfully? Fleeing is not surrendering and a fleeing enemy combatant can stop running, regain their courage, and kill our people again. So running is not a defense. Indeed, killing a fleeing enemy is a time-honored way of winning a war.

And God help me, but these prisoners are not entitled to civilian defenses. Or did I miss the mass trials of German and Italian soldiers (conscripts I might add) from 1942 to 1945 for their so-called crimes? At one time, trying prisoners as if what they did in war was similar to civilian crimes was considered a terrible thing to do. When did this get turned on its head by the Left?

I grant you that some prisoners are in cages. But that is because they tend not to stay put unless locked up and guarded. Why should their imprisonment behind bars be an issue at all?

And no, you annoying twit, we are not torturing those we detain. Coercive techniques are unpleasant and clearly coercive, but unless you insist that anything less than a chocolate on your pillow each night is torture, this assertion is idiocy pure and simple. Are we not allowed to question them? These thugs are generally unlawful combatants yet we are treating them consistent with the protections offered actual regular uniformed troops. And should anyone treat them contrary to our standards, they are punished.

And as for holding them forever? Well, we don't know when this war will end. And we have in fact released some after military review. But as long as we are at war and our enemies try to kill us, they can just sit in jail for all I care. They wanted the all-day ticket to Jihadworld? Fine. Enjoy your stay at Gitmo, the official hotel for Jihadworld. Complete with a Koran instead of a Gideon's Bible and your choice of rice pilaf or falafil on Tuesdays.

Man, what an "idiot." And that's a polite term for a whole stream of nouns and adjectives that I'd prefer not to commit to virtual paper.

UPDATE: Oh, and let me be clear on a point that I obscured by noting that most of the people at Guantanamo Bay that we hold are unlawful combatants. The prisoner in question was Taliban and we considered Taliban as enemy prisoners of war--that is, lawful combatants in a regular armed force. This fact, however, should have undermined the good professor's argument that he should have charges read to him and be lawyered up to defend against them.

As I said, it was once considered a horrible thing to charge captured enemy soldiers with civilian crimes. I just don't understand how it can be "liberal" to now insist that enemy soldiers be charged and tried for crimes. The vast majority of Taliban soldiers we captured have been released. We clearly have reason to hold this one despite his "cook" status. And if we are satisfied he won't be a threat, we will release him. And if we are wrong, like we have been on a number of occasions, we'll see him again.

Airy Defense

The idea that you might have to shoot down a passenger plane to prevent a worse tragedy on the ground is a terrible calculation to make. I hope we don't have to face that choice.

But before such an event happens, the German courts have decided, and in doing so demonstrated that they have no concept of reality or math at all:

A German court ruled that a hijacked aircraft could not be shot down to prevent it from crashing into a stadium full of people. The court said that the rights of the passengers on the hijacked aircraft took priority over attempts to prevent greater loss of life in the stadium. The ruling came as Germany was organizing security for the soccer world cup. There will be a no-fly zone over the stadiums, but because of this ruling, the fighter jets patrolling the air space will not be allowed to shoot down aircraft threatening the thousands of people in a stadium.

Does the German court think that a hijacked plane with all those passengers with theoretical priority rights will gently glide to a safe landing when the very real terrorists aim for a stadium full of people? At what point does the court think the inflatable ramps on the diving plane will deploy, allowing the passengers to exercies those superior rights and bounce to safety?

The German court in reality condemned a stadium and a plane each full of people to die. Superior and inferior "rights" are purely theoretical when confronted by the reality of terrorist hatred and will to kill. In the math of terrorists, we all have "inferior" rights and by their calcualtion, one plane full of people controlled by terrorists plus one stadium full of people equals one plane plus one stadium full of dead people.

And the court made it more likely that terrorists thinking of doing this will attack in German air space.

Yet another reason we must treat our Long War as an actual war and not a law enforcement issue subject to court idiocy best reserved for actual criminal defendants.


What is Robert Kaplan talking about? He gets cause and effect mixed up when he writes this (as he has written before):

The long war, if smartly executed, can prevent a big war. In spending the last few years embedded with Army, Navy and Marine units, I have learned that the smaller the American military footprint and the less notice it draws, the more effective is the operation. A few hundred Green Berets going after narcoterrorists or Islamic extremists, as I have seen in Colombia and the Philippines, can be effective force multipliers. Ten or twenty thousand troops, as in Afghanistan, can tread water. And 135,000, as in Iraq, constitute a mess.

Kaplan makes a couple good points but when he leads off with garbage like this, I can't bear to write more. How can he not see that these are different situations requiring different solutions? They did not start out at the same point and end up differently because we committed vastly different levels of forces to each!

As if drawing down to a few hundred troops in Afghanistan and Iraq would magically create more effective force multipliers and success.

We are not most successful in the Philippines and Colombia because we have only a few hundred troops any more than Iraq is a so-called mess because we have 135,000 troops there.

We can get by with a few hundred in the Philippines and Colombia because the insurgents and terrorists and narco gangs are much weaker relative to the government, and so a few hundred of our troops to help the locals are sufficient. We get along with ten to twenty thousand in Afghanistan because the enemy there is weaker than in Iraq but stronger than in the Philippines and Colombia. We need 135,000 in Iraq for now because the enemy is well-armed and financed while the new government is still relatively weak and lacking the experienced troops to fight the enemy.

Rest assured, at some point in the future we will get to the point where facts on the ground allow us to draw down to several hundred troops.

The Sunnis Continue to Be Stupid as Rocks

Since the summer of 2004 or so, I've wondered how long it would take for the Sunnis to get on board the new Iraq by turning their backs on Saddam's thugs in order to forestall the inevitable Shia and Kurdish desire for revenge when those groups gain the strength to achieve revenge.

The Sunnis have amazed me with their continued stupidity on this matter and are courting disaster by pissing the majority of Iraqis off royally and earning little credit for helping the new Iraqi government fight the enemy.

Strategypage describes the insane Sunni stubborness to face reality and the likely results if those idiots continue to fight the growing power of the Iraqi government with diminishing restraing provided by America:

The question at hand is not whether the Sunni Arabs will accept the new government, but whether the Shia and Kurd majority will tolerate a rebellious Sunni Arab population. This year, Iraqi (meaning Shia and Kurd) security forces will be in control of most of the country. By 2007, the former "oppressed majority" will be able to exert their will, via force if necessary, all over the country. By then, the Sunni Arabs will have to either make their peace with the government, get out, or get killed.

I am simply amazed at how self-destructive the Sunnis have been. Given the opportunity to escape the normal cycle of retribution against losers due to our presence, the Sunnis are begging to be killed or expelled by the Shias and Kurds. Jus how long do they think we will try to help them join a normal Iraq? Our ambassador explicitly warned the Shias not to create a narrow Shia-based government:

Khalilzad bluntly warned the Shiites that the key security Defense and Interior ministries must be in the hands of people "who are nonsectarian, broadly acceptable and who are not tied to militias."

Good grief, we are trying to save the Sunnis from themselves and the Sunnis refuse to grasp our extended hand! How is it possible for the Sunnis to ignore the fact that one day the Shias and Kurds will just decide they've had enough car bombs and death at the hands of the Sunnis and then destroy Iraq's Sunni community?

I'd say it is "inconceivable" but we all know that word doesn't mean what I think it means.

UPDATE: Terrorists blew a huge chunk out of a major Shia shrine. Somebody is determined to ignite a Shia-Sunni open battle:

"Given the historic, cultural and religious importance of this shrine, this attack is a crime against humanity," the U.S. ambassador and the commander of U.S. forces in
Iraq said in a joint statement. "The Shrine should be rebuilt and the United States will contribute to its reconstruction."

A pair of bombs Wednesday morning caused extensive damage to the golden dome of the Askariya shrine in Samarra, triggering protests and reprisal attacks against Sunni mosques.

Wars rarely just pop out of the blue. One or both sides gird for battle and indications leak out. The Iranians have been rattling nuclear sabres, threatening America and Israel, bullying the British over Basra, and threatening oil supplies if attacked. Allies such as Sadr and Chavez have been vocal in support. And now someone has blown a hole in the Askariya shrine.

The Iranians would benefit from open civil war in Iraq. On the other hand, if we can avoid that, we will gain some appreciation from Shias in the rebuilding and undermine Sadr's influence.

Tensions are increasing. Are the Iranians planning something or is this just a reflection of the drift to conflict?

Monday, February 20, 2006

Hard Pressed

The press just can't seem to wrap their brains around the concept that being a unit incapable of independent action doesn't mean that the unit is incapable of fighting. A reporter again asks why there aren't more independent Iraqi units. As if this is really relevant to their ability to fight insurgents and terrorists.

And as if the press wouldn't complain that we were creating a miniature version of the US Army if we were actually trying to create every single capability that we have within the new Iraqi army right off the bat. Can you imagine the press reaction if under those circumstances they started asking questions about why we were wasting time setting up logistics, and training schools, and air defense units when we needed infantry in the field?

I just don't understand why some seem to believe an ally that needs our help to fight somehow doesn't count as a real ally?

Rumsfeld answers:

The Marine Corps can't operate independently. The Army does the combat support for them. Our NATO allies don't operate. We provide, any number of them, we provide enablers -- airlift, intelligence, quick reaction forces. The idea that a police unit in some city in Iraq should be fully capable of conducting totally independent operations anywhere in the country is utter nonsense. This only one unit is a red herring. It is simply a misrepresentation of what's taking place. The Iraqi security forces are getting better every day, every week, every month, and they're doing a very good job, and --

I think I'll characterize it as a question that you pose, is really an assertion that's being made to try to leave people with the impression that the Iraqi security forces aren't capable, and it's false.

I've made the same points myself. Crawl, walk, run. Perhaps the press will eventually get it.

Times Change and So Must You

The President is speaking about energy independence:

Saying the nation is on the verge of technological breakthroughs that would "startle" most Americans, President Bush on Monday outlined his energy proposals to help wean the country off foreign oil.

Less than half the crude oil used by refineries is produced in the United States, while 60 percent comes from foreign nations, Bush said during the first stop on a two-day trip to talk about energy.

Some of these foreign suppliers have "unstable" governments that have fundamental differences with America, he said.

"It creates a national security issue and we're held hostage for energy by foreign nations that may not like us," Bush said

Like I mentioned before when the President spoke of energy in the State of the Union address, I think the President is issuing a warning to those allies who think they can use their oil as leverage over us.

I think the warning is that we can take steps to end that dependence and if you don't cooperate, we can advance that day with additional money for research.

Further, any messing with us now when we are prepared to deal with Iran will be remembered when your country is largely a toxic waste field because the oil you currently sell at high prices will be a cheap component of plastics.

Really, this is the only way this speech makes sense. It isn't directed at our people since prices at the pump and home heating costs are the only thing we are paying attention to--not some distant time a decade or two away.

So will our energy allies play ball when we deal with Iran to avoid the President's implicit threat?

We may find out soon.

UPDATE: So does the Secretary Rice Middle East tour have anything to do with firming up support for action? Egypt for diplomatic support (and no free trade until you cooperate), Saudi Arabia for oil pumping commitments, and the UAE for using our state-of-the-art command center for an Iran strike?

ANOTHER UPDATE: Oops. Scratch the UAE reference. I was thinking of our command center set up in Qatar for the Iraq War.

AND ANOTHER UPDATE: With the President strongly backing the UAE port deal, threatening even a veto over Congressional opposition, I still have to ask what is so important about the UAE to justify this strong defense? Given that Iran is the number one issue of the day and the UAE is just across the Gulf, I suspect there is a link. But I don't know what it is.

ONE MORE UPDATE: The UAE has facilities right across the Gulf from Iran that would be mighty useful:

GEN. PACE: Sir, the military-to-military relationship with the United Arab Emirates is superb. They've got great seaports that are capable of handling, and do, our aircraft carriers. They've got airfields that they allow us to use, and their airspace, their logistics support. They've got a world-class air-to-air training facility that they let us use and cooperate with them in the training of our pilots. In everything that we have asked and work with them on, they have proven to be very, very solid partners.

And the military doesn't seem upset. Granted, the military is looking much more at Iran than our own ports, but with Iran theoretically in our cross hairs, the UAE could be significant and may explain the President's strong defense of the issue. So just what have we asked of them recently?

Self Awareness is Sometimes Disturbing

I have the day off today. So I've had the opportunity to post a little more on Home Front (and I'm so behind on writing up ideas it is sad).

Dropped Mister off at school. Went shopping for his birthday coming up fairly soon. And as part of his birthday stuff, I bought a beanbag chair kit for use at his mom's where he and Lamb now have a finished basement to play in.

I had wanted a beanbag chair but Meijer only had the kits. Luckily, I bought Lamb a fold-out princess couch instead of her own beanbag chair. For Mister, I got the kit, which consists of the bag and a set of the Styrofoam beads to put in the bags. Happy children and young adults are shown happily adding the beads and then using the chairs.

Here is where I learned some ugly facts about myself. First of all, I consider myself a patient man. This is normally good but can be used for evil as well. Second, I like to think of myself as a forgiving man.

But that was before the 70-minute beanbag filling ordeal.

I discovered that I have it within myself to kill. And if I ever run across the fiends who devised this little system of home-filling beanbag chairs instead of doing it in a friggin state-of-the-art factory somewhere in southern China the way it is supposed to be done, I shall shoot the lead sick puppy with little loss of sleep. After 45 minutes, about as many of the beads that were going to exit the packaging and lodge in the beanbag chair were placed. The static cling made filling the bag though the tiny zippered opening with light gravity-defying beads an excruciating experience:

And because I am still a patient man, if it takes years before I get the chance to cap that particular home furnishings genius, I shall wait.

Oh, and did I mention the static cling that made picking up the debris of this fun experience an added joy?

Yes, that was fun, too. By wetting my hands I was able to pick up the beans, detach them from my hands, and deposit them in a bag where they would stay rather than float out on the magic of static charges to redeposit on my carpeting.

Because of this feature of the fun beanbag chair experience, when I shoot the home-furnishings genius who came up with this idea, it will not be a clean shot. Oh, no. I will start at the feet and slowly work my way up. I may fling beads at him in a sort of gruesome tar and feathering ritual with beanbag beads replacing feathers.

I'm not happy about what I discovered about myself today. Manufacturers: be warned.

Science Fair Project

A few weeks ago, Mister brought the notice home that there would be a first-ever science fair project at his elementary school. Mister was not happy to participate but mom and dad insisted.

So despite a week of complaining during which I grew increasingly impatient having to tell Mister to stop complaining, two weekends ago we started the project. The fact that I--ahem--won a third prize in the Detroit-wide science fair project in 8th grade might lead you to believe that I would take over the project to relive the glory days of Ant Colony 1. Indeed, some friends insisted that I would be all over that project and Mister would be playing video games while I set up the multi-media spectacular.

But no. Even though it would often be easier on me to just do things for Mister, I firmly believe that learning to learn is more important than any project or class or grade. Mister was going to do the work on this one and Id help where he could not.

So I ran a topic past Mister's mom and she liked it. It is simple. It is an experiment (no mere volcano for Mister's project!) And I have the tools to set it up. I actually got part of the idea from a physics experiment set I'd bought for Mister several years ago. We could set up an experiment of one marble ramming into another marble and then see how placing different objects between the two marbles affect the energy transferred to the second by the impact.

So last week I gathered the materials: a Hot Wheels track segment. Two small marbles. Some cardboard for building. An old paper box from work. A large marble. A wooden block. An eraser. A magnet. My digital camera. Paper. Some poster board. Tape. And glue. Oh, and a calculator. That's it.

I wrote up a data collection form for Mister to record the data. While I did that I had Mister answer the questions of the experiment format. I carefully did not give him the answers but instead asked him questions to get him to the answer. He did great. Then I build the cardboard ramp while Mister made a centimeter ruler from paper. I taped the ruler down on the track. Then we calibrated the experiment gear by test slamming the marbles and adjusting the height of the far end of the track until the marble rolled down the ruler without going off the end. With that established we got down to the experiment.

I set up the second marble and ramp to make sure the force would be the same for all set-ups. Then Mister rolled the first marble down the ramp, observing the second marble and noting the distance the marble traveled. He took the average and that was the baseline. I took some pictures of the experiment in progress.

Then I taped, in turn, the large marble, the magnet, the eraser, and the wood clock on the track with the second marble touching the intervening object and the ramp up to the object. Mister rolled the marbles three times on each variation and did the math for these rolls. Mister enjoyed doing the experiment, actually, but was relieved when I told him we'd put it together the next weekend.

This last weekend was that weekend. I had Mister take the data and enter it on to the template I'd already made. Then I made a bunch of text boxes with headings corresponding to the steps he was supposed to take in an experiment. Then I had Mister type in his answers that he'd written the week before based on the experiment. This took him a while and I thought of doing it for him but thought better. And he was a trooper. I only made two changes: adding italics to his reference title and turning his results into bullet points.

I cut out the box sides to create a display area and cut the poster board to fit. Then glued the base down and attached the track/ruler and ramp to the display base.

Together we set up an Excel sheet to add the data to make a graph and we learned-by-doing to get labels and the right kind of chart. Mister actually had played with this creating graphs for fun so I didn't feel bad doing most of this step. We printed everything out and then I had Mister cut out the pictures and text boxes.

I laid out the objects on the board and then had Mister glue them on. Then he put his name and grade on it while I added his data sheets and hand-written notes to serve as the proof he indeed did this experiment. Voila!

And then I quizzed Mister on why we did different things and what the results showed us.

So it was a great success. Mister did most of the work and I mostly just did the display construction work and formatting for the typed parts. Mister even liked doing the project, in the end. And then this morning, we carted it off to school for display.

UPDATE: Mister won a first prize blue ribbon for his project. So his project went on display in the main science fair at the middle school and he went on stage at his school to receive his award at the school assembly. I am, needless to say, quite proud.

Whos' Your Dada?

If we fail to stop Iran from getting nuclear weapons, I hope that somebody will ask whether those who profess to be "anti-war" bear any responsibility for paralyzing our will to defend ourselves.

Because horror of war is nothing new. And neither is being frozen in the face of gathering danger.

Sunday, February 19, 2006

This We'll Defend

When events like this happen:

Hundreds of Muslims protesting caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad tried to storm the U.S. Embassy on Sunday, smashing the windows of a guard post but failing to push through the gates. Several people were injured.

You have to wonder why, even given that we rely on the host nation for general security, our Marines are there only to smash and burn sensitive stuff (hat tip to One Hand Clapping who echos the Marine role):

Embassies and consulates necessarily depend on local security–whether it be police, special services, armies or national guards–to provide the outermost band of security. Within that, in most countries, is a ring of security guards–most often local or third-country nationals–contracted by the USG. Inside that, and almost always within the embassy or consulate itself, are US Marine Corps Security Guards.

These last, contrarty to many people's belief, are not there to repell attackers. Their mission is to ensure that classified documents and equipment are protected or destroyed before they can fall into the wrong hands. The USMSG can and will defend people's lives in the persuance of their mission to protect classified materials, but they do not stand there and fight off people attacking the outside of secured buildings as a general rule.

Call me old-fashioned, but as sovereign American soil, I think our Marines should be capable of mounting a last-ditch defense of the compound.

The ability of our Marines to keep an unofficial, semi-offical, or even official mob off the grounds for days or weeks would both embarass the host country into rushing forces to relieve us or possibly allow a nearby MEU or Army airborne unit to intervene. If we just let the embassies fall rapidly to whatever mob of "students" happens by, we give the host government the chance to just say "oh well, too late to do anything now..."

In this day and age, I think embassy physical security should encompass defending the grounds or at least some secure portion of the grounds. Claymores and automatic weapons might have a tremendous learning potential for the next group of students that goes over the wall.

Dunn. Brian Dunn

Last year I bought a tuxedo. I've rented tuxedos perhaps three times in my life--including my wedding. So my purchase wasn't exactly something to save me money on rentals. I don't, to put it kindly, have a tuxedo sort of social life. I mean, not yet anyway.

But there it was in the store--from shoes and socks to the bow tie. And on sale. So I bought it. I joked that I was going to be the "guy with a tuxedo." That's how women would come to think of me--the guy who can grab the tuxedo out of the closet at a moment's notice and hit the shaken martini-set social whirl. I'm single, I figured, so it could be "my thing" that sets me apart from other lesser men. (And yes, yes, I mean other than my intellect, wit, and good looks.)

At worst, if I wear the tux only three times I get back my investment. That's not too much to assume, is it?

So I own a tuxedo. I'm a "tuxedo-owning guy." It still sits in my closet ready to go. I don't know when exactly I will get a chance to put it on, but one never knows. I like to think of it as an expression of confidence in the future. A future where women swoon and men feel inadequate in my presence.

A tuxedo-wearing future in which I will look spectacular.

Very Sporting of You, Chaps

Some Iranian students (When Islamist "students" always seem to be studying death or running countries on that model, you begin to understand why the Moslem world lags behind most of the rest of the world. As Moslems say, thank Allah for sub-Sahara Africa (except South Africa)--for now.) claim they are ready to launch suicide attacks against us if we attack Iran's nuclear facilities:

Mohammad Ali Samadi, spokesman for Esteshadion, or Martyrdom Seekers, boasted of having hundreds of potential bombers in his talk at a seminar on suicide-bombings tactics at Tehran's Khajeh Nasir University.

"With more than 1,000 trained martyrdom-seekers, we are ready to attack the American and British sensitive points if they attack Iran's nuclear facilities," Samadi said.

"If they strike, we have a lot of volunteers. Their (U.S. and British) sensitive places are quite close to Iranian borders," Samadi said.

Thanks for the warning. I do believe they just put us on notice that they may now be considered unlawful combatants.

This is why God gave us Fuel Air Explosives.

Saturday, February 18, 2006

Not Learning What We are Teaching

Holy crap, I can't believe we are restarting the PLA exchanges with our military. Ended after Tiananman Square in 1989 and then halted again in 2001 after the EP-3 incident (with the exchanges restarted in the 1990s, obviously), they are on again:

The United States Pacific Command and the People’s Liberation Army of China have quietly begun an exchange of military officers that is intended to reduce the chances of a miscalculation leading to hostilities between the established power in the Pacific and the rising power of East Asia.

A delegation of 20 senior Chinese officers visited Hawaii, where the Pacific Command has its headquarters, and Alaska, which is within the command’s area of responsibility, in November. A group of Chinese specialists in military personnel came in January. The first American delegation is scheduled to go to China next month.

We are officially in favor of these missions because we believe that if the Chinese see how powerful we are, they won't try to fight us.

This is a crock. The Chinese know we are technically more advanced. What they think is that we are too pampered to fight them. And seeing our nice barracks and PXs with Chanel No. 5 won't convince them that we are hard warriors able to absorb high casualties. Seeing our military up close will simply give them insights into fighting us or at least cause them to believe that they have insights into fighting us:

U.S. officers said they were ready to respond to Chinese questions about strategy but found the Chinese not prepared to discuss issues at that level. Instead, they focused on tactical questions such as how long it took to begin moving a brigade (18 hours) and how did a U.S. colonel control his brigade.

We hope to teach them the big picture--don't mess with us; but the Chinese are just interested in learning how to do their job--fighting us--so they focus on details.

And even if this flawed approach works, who cares if their officers think we are too tough to beat? Did not Admiral Yamamoto prior to Pearl Harbor conclude from his familiarity with the US that he could go wild against us for 6 months to a year before we brought our power to bear to counter-attack? The people in charge of Japan did not believe that his insights meant that he was right about fighting us. And even if Chinese officers learn the lesson that they can't beat us, the people in Peking who decide on war will not be these officers.

And I believe we are learning the wrong lessons from this exchange:

During their visit, the Chinese were taken to the USS Arizona memorial above the battleship sunk by the Japanese in their surprise attack of Dec. 7, 1941, to bring America into World War II. The ship still rests on the bottom of Pearl Harbor, reflecting perhaps the greatest defeat in American history.

About 200 yards downstream, however, sits the battleship USS Missouri aboard which the Japanese surrendered to end World War II on Sept. 2, 1945. It reflects a distinct triumph of American arms. U.S. officers said they thought the Chinese had gotten the message:

"You do bad stuff to us," said an American officer, "and bad stuff happens to you."

I don't think the Chinese will learn this message. I think seeing the Arizona on the bottom of the harbor taught the PLA officers that if they can achieve surprise, they too can put key elements of our fleet on the bottom.

As for what they learned from the Missouri? Well, if those stupid Japanese had possessed nuclear weapons capable of reaching Los Angeles, we'd never have dared approach Japan let alone conquer them.

We are the ones who have miscalculated. The Chinese won't learn what we are teaching. And if it comes to war, we will find out what they learned.

This exchange is such a stupid and counter-productive program that I am simply stunned that we would do this.

Excuse Me for Insensitivity

Vital Perspectives has this gem:

Mohsen Gharavian, a lecturer at the religous schoosl of Qom and a disciple of [Ayatollah] Mesbah Yazdi, said for the first time that the use of nuclear weapons may not constitute a problem according to shari'a. He further said that "when the entire world is armed with nuclear weapons, it is only natural that, as a counter-measure, it is necessary to be able to use these weapons. However, what is important is what goal they may be used for."

Excuse me for my ignorance, but I guess I never suspected that the Koran would prevent our enemies from using nukes against us. I mean, given that they use the Koran to justify killing us in all sorts of non-nuclear manners, I wasn't aware this was an issue.

So I guess we're all clear on this now.

Nearly Credible

I generally like Frederick Kagan and his criticism is certainly grounded in a desire to win the Long War rather than undermine it. So I appreciate his spirit greatly.

And while I share his concerns for the views of some transformationists who believe wrongly that ground forces are obsolete, I have trouble with his calls for a much larger Army and Marine Corps when we are adding brigades without raising end strength, and when I am not yet convinced that having the Army abroad at war is going to be a continuous feature of our Long War. I have no desire to force our population to endure needlessly when our will to keep the fight going for years or decades is required to win the Long War.

And I especially have problems accepting his criticism when he mischaracterizes our assumption of how much we can fight with our forces. He says in this article:

FROM 1991 to 2001, American military forces were in theory sized to be able to fight and win two simultaneous major regional conflicts. It is far from clear that the armed forces ever really were large enough to accomplish that mission, but such at least was the stated strategy. In the first Bush QDR in 2001, the force-sizing construct was changed to a program with the unlovely moniker "1-4-2-some." The military was to be able to defend the U.S. homeland; maintain presence in four critical regions; win decisively in two "overlapping" military campaigns; and engage in "a limited number" of "smaller-scale contingencies."

The 2006 QDR changes this formula yet again. The armed forces, it declares, must perform three key missions: "Defend the Homeland"; "Prevail in the War on Terror and Conduct Irregular Operations"; and "Conduct and Win Conventional Campaigns." It breaks each mission down into "steady-state" requirements that the armed forces must perform all the time and "surge" capabilities needed only in a crisis. Thus, the armed forces should be able to "conduct a large-scale, potentially long-duration irregular warfare campaign including counterinsurgency and security, stability, transition and reconstruction operations" (such as the war in Iraq) and "wage two nearly simultaneous conventional campaigns (or one conventional campaign if already engaged in a large-scale, long-duration irregular campaign)." In the case of the conventional war, the armed forces must "[b]e prepared in one of the two campaigns to remove a hostile regime, destroy its military capacity and set
conditions for the transition to, or for the restoration of, civil society."

First of all, from 1991 to 2001 our military was not in fact designed to fight two wars simultaneusly. It was designed to fight two wars "nearly simultaneously." I mocked this in a publication and paper I presented in 1997 at the Association of the United States Army's annual convention. I asked, why can't we with similar logic declare we have the capability of waging 100 wars "nearly sequentially?"

By nearly simultaneously, it was meant that we could respond to an enemy attack on an ally (say Kuwait) by building up forces to blunt and stop the attack and then build up to counter-attack to retake what was lost. During that time, we could react to a second attack against an ally (say South Korea) and absorb and stop the attack. But we could not counter-attack to retake the lost ground until we could move the forces necessary for that counter-attack from the first successful war. Hence "nearly" simultaneous.

In 2001, we had the requirement to win in "overlapping" wars where in one we would absorb the blow on the defensive and stop it short of critical objectives while in the second one we would be able to go over on the offensive and drive on the enemy capital for total victory. While retaining the "overlapping" or "nearly simultaneous" feature of previous assumptions, we actually upped the goal to seizing the enemy capital instead of just restoring the pre-war status quo as we had done in Desert Storm in 1991. Instead, we planned to overthrow the regime as we did in 2003 with Iraq. Doing the same in the first war would require forces from the second war.

The 2006 QDR again describes our recent past, saying we must be able to fight an ongoing counter-insurgency (Iraq and Afghanistan combined) while having the ability to change the regime in another country (say North Korea but really Iran in this case). Again, this is fighting a defensive war while being able to go on the offensive for a regime change in another. Or, absent a long-term counter-insurgency campaign, be able to fight two conventional wars with only one being a regime change offensive. And we are reorganizing our National Guard brigades to supply that surge capacity when up until now most of the Guard has not been ready for war--just the enhanced brigades. So we will have more combat brigades readily deployable even though the total number of brigades will go down.

So our goals have not really changed that much through fifteen years of force planning--only the way we characterize it based on recent experience. And indeed, with the goal of regime change replacing restoring the status quo ante, we have increased our goals rather than reduce them as Kagan suggests. And we are increasing our active brigades by about a third.

Really, when he can't get our force sizing goals right, I have no reason to assume he is right about expanding our end strength so dramatically. We may yet need to do so. But Kagan has not persuaded me in this piece.

Friday, February 17, 2006

Peking VISA

China and Iran are close to signing a massive oil sale contract:

China and Iran are close to setting plans to develop Iran's Yadavaran oil field, according to published reports, in a multibillion-dollar deal that comes as Tehran faces the prospect of sanctions over its nuclear program.

The deal is thought potentially to be worth about $100 billion.

According to Caijing, a respected financial magazine, a Chinese government delegation is due to visit Iran as early as March to formally sign an agreement allowing China Petrochemical Corp., also known as Sinopec, to develop Yadavaran.

The Wall Street Journal also reported in Friday's editions that the two sides are trying to conclude the deal in coming weeks before potential sanctions are imposed on Iran for its nuclear ambitions.

Oil? $100 billion.

China's Security Council veto? Priceless!

Peking VISA. Don't develop nuclear weapons without it!

But remember, at Central Command, they only accept American Express.

(Oddly enough, the Centcom site does not appear to be up as of this posting. I can't even get the cache.)

On to Richmond

During the Iran-Iraq War, in the 1980s, the Iranians tried repeatedly to capture Basra from the Iraqis. They once got as close as six miles from the city but never made it inside.

Iran again appears to have its sights set on Basra:

"We believe that the presence of British forces in Basra has destabilized security in this city and has had some negative effects in the form of threats against southern Iran recently," Foreign Minister Manushehr Mottaki said during a visit to Beirut, Lebanon.

"The Islamic Republic of Iran demands an immediate withdrawal of British forces from Basra," he added. Basra, where most of Britain's more than 8,000 troops in Iraq are based, is located about 20 miles west of the Iranian border.

The British are not amused:

"What I would say to Iranians that there is no point in trying to divert attention from the issues to do with Iran by calling into question the British presence in Iraq which is there, as I say, with a United Nations mandate and Iraqi support," Blair said after talks with Chancellor Angela Merkel in Berlin.

The Iranians had no luck in getting Iraqis to welcome them in the Iran-Iraq War. Despite the Idiot Sadr's devotion to his Iranians masters, I imagine the Shias of Basra have no greater desire to accept Iranians as their masters today.

I do hope the British troops there are up to holding the city. With Iran's attention clearly on Basra, in any crisis over Iran's nuclear ambitions, I would not be surprised to see the Iranians try to take what they lost so many men trying to capture twenty years ago.

Contrasts of Expectations

When some Americans stripped the "French" from "french fries" out of anger over France's betrayal of us on the Iraq issue, many here were outraged at this extreme example of our hyper-nationalism. Me, I favored keeping the "french" in the term out of that very hyper-nationalism. The French elites hate McDonalds so why remove a term that must clearly annoy their culinary sensitivity?

But I digress.

So what does it tell us about our enemies that when the Iranians refuse to call danishes "danishes" anymore to protest the Danish cartoons, it seems like an almost sane thing to do? Indeed, it is the most sane thing they are doing. Would that every protest end with a pastry renaming rather than a burned embassy, headless captive, or "death to the Jews" chant. I'd call that progress.

The difference, of course, is we aren't nutballs and the Iranian mullahs are nutballs. Totally different expectations at work, eh?

Yet We Can't Just Shoot Reporters

The idiocy and blindness of this question to Scott McClellan at a recent press conference is simply stunning to me:

One other quick one. Vice President Cheney talked yesterday about the trauma of seeing his friend fall to the ground when he shot him, and I was wondering whether this has caused Mr. Cheney to reflect on the kind of trauma that's experienced daily by the men and women in the military who have to shoot people?

Ah yes. Our military just shoot random "people." Or rather, they "have to." We cruelly make them, got it? You know, they are patrolling about and then just cap a friend by accident.

"People," "enemy," or "terrorists," what's the difference? I mean, if you don't think our soldiers and Marines in Iraq and Afghanistan are fighting enemies, then they are just all "people," right?

The reporter is so concerned about the trauma our troops must feel when killing "people,' yet when one Marine general expresses satisfaction in killing murderous thugs, the press throws a fit, too.

Again, if you don't think of our enemies as, you know, the "enemy" it can get rather fuzzy.

Let me just say that if Vice President Cheney had seen Mr. Whittington rush toward some children with a suicide vest strapped on him, the Vice President would not have felt any "trauma" in shooting him. The vice president felt trauma because it was an accident involving his friend. That's the difference between an accident and a war where you are shooting murderous thugs who pray for the chance to kill innocents and who feel no trauma whatsoever at slaughtering children in their schools or lopping off the heads of sundry infidels.

Sometimes our press corps makes me sick.

Thursday, February 16, 2006

Denial on the Nile

Ok, I understood why Syria and Iran would foment the Dutch cartoon riots. And I can understand why the Saudis would, too, given the number of whackos in the kingdom. But Egypt?

Well, now all is clear:

The Egyptian parliament has approved the two-year postponement of municipal polls despite objections from opposition Islamists and the United States, lawmakers said.

Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak issued a decree last week calling for the delay of the elections which was passed by parliament's upper chamber on Sunday and approved in two readings late Tuesday by the lower chamber.

The local elections had been due to take place within the next two months.

The postponement was never in doubt as parliament is dominated by Mubarak's ruling National Democratic Party but the main opposition bloc -- the Muslim Brotherhood -- had fiercely criticised the moved.

"The NDP and government are afraid of losing their influence to the Islamists in the municipal elections. They are afraid because Egyptians know that there is an alternative," Brotherhood spokesman Issam al-Aryan said Sunday.

What better way to justify banning elections that would benefit Islamist parties than to wave the bloody flag of Islamists gone wild on video beamed right into our homes? Especially after we refuse to back down from our commitment to democracy after the thugs of Hamas won the Palestinian elections?

I'm not saying that I don't worry about Islamists winning in Egypt. But the longer Egypt's denial of free elections lasts, the stronger the Islamists will grow in Egypt as the only alternative to fighting Mubarak's corrupt machine.

This was a cynical move by a corrupt autocrat at our expense.

So how much do we pay Egypt each year to be our "ally" anyway? Two billion? Such a deal!

Declaration of War-Like Activities

I did not know this:

Seems that after World War II, Congress wrote into law a lot of the wartime measures used during World War II. These included price controls, censorship and greater police powers. This was done with the possibility of nuclear war in mind, where there would be massive damage done to the U.S. in a short period of time. To deal with this, a lot of these regulations would kick in the minute Congress votes to declare war. No one wants to be the first to suggest repealing these laws and regulations, and no one wants to see them go into action. So whenever anyone in Congress starts talking about declaring war, they are pulled aside by some senior staffers and filled in on the consequences.

In the past, I called for a good old declaration of war against Saddam's Iraq complete with calling in their ambassador to receive a gentle State Department slap across the cheek with a white glove.

I stand corrected.

As Instapundit is prone to saying, I blame Ashcroft.

Bolton, Call Your Office

The UN helpfully weighs in on Guantanamo Bay:

The report, summarizing an investigation by five U.N. experts, called on the U.S. government "to close down the Guantanamo Bay detention center and to refrain from any practice amounting to torture or cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment."

The report's findings were based on interviews with former detainees, public documents, media reports, lawyers and a questionnaire filled out by the U.S. government.

Gee, based on interviews with terrorists, lawyers who represent the terrorists, and media reports about terrorist claims and their lawyers' reactions? No offense to Vice President Cheney, but those Gitmo detainees would be in more danger on a hunting trip with him than they are in Gitmo.

We are not impressed:

The White House rejected the recommendation to shut the prison.

"These are dangerous terrorists that we're talking about that are there," spokesman Scott McClellan said.

McClellan dismissed the report as a "rehash" of allegations previously made by lawyers for some detainees and said the military treats all prisoners humanely.

"We know that al-Qaida terrorists are trained in trying to disseminate false allegations," McClellan said.

The report, summarizing an investigation by five U.N. experts who did not visit Guantanamo, said photographic evidence and testimony of former prisoners showed that detainees were shackled, chained, hooded and beaten if they resisted.

And for the fact-challenged, these are not defendants entitled to have charges filed and court-appointed attorneys. They are unlawful combatants captured in war and under international law are not entitled to POW protections. We could have shot them out of hand when caught. That we have captured them anyway does not mean we must charge them.

And in fact, there is a review process for these thugs and suspected thugs. A couple hundred, I think, have been released--including some who returned to the war against us.

For the rest? They purchased the all-day ticket to Jihadworld. May they enjoy their stay. They are being treated humanely and we have every right to hold them until the war is over. Period.

Is the Human Rights Commission on one of the top ten floors of the UN building?

UPDATE: Bolton did check his messages, but he is apparently going to the source instead of diddling around with the rogue's gallery known as the Human Rights Commission.