Saturday, June 30, 2007

Rule of Law Must Trump Realism

One small crisis in Iraq highlights the incompatability of realism with rule of law (tip to NRO).

A Sunni Arab minister has blood on his hands and we won't side with the victim who lost his sons to this murderer and who is trusting the rule of law to punish the criminals. We are unfortunately, based on interference from Washington, prepared to abandon justice in a misguided attempt to pretend that letting Sunni Arabs get away with murder is "reonciliation":

All eyes will be on the president here. It is a moment for him to back up his noble statements with action, by ordering his diplomats and military officers to let the Iraqi police apprehend Mr. al-Hashemi. No doubt it will be controversial — and even ignite another round of violence. But democracies aren't born without labor, and legal systems gain credibility only by breasting controversy. Justice is blind for a reason. A failure here will have worse consequences than any short-term repercussions.

Arrest Hashemi. Try him. Punish him. Rule of law has to mean something.

Maybe if we can get used to the concept on a small scale we can move on up and apply the lesson to Iran and Syria over their war on us in Iraq.

Time Machine

The Kurdish regions of Iraq are doing just fine.

For those who think Iraq is a mess and hopeless, remember that the Kurdish regions had more than a decade head start on the rest of Iraq in rebuilding because of our no-fly zone over them after the Persian Gulf War:

The contrast between life in the three Kurdish-controlled provinces and the Arab-dominated rest of the country is stark.

In Baghdad, few people venture far from the safety of their houses and neighborhood for fear of bombs, ambushes or death squads of the rival Islamic sect. Even in areas that are less violent, religious zealots enforce a climate of austerity and intolerance that many Iraqis find suffocating.

But in Kurdistan, as the Kurdish region is known, both Iraqi Kurds and Arabs can get their lives back on track, enjoying parties, restaurants and picnics in the safety of Iraq's oasis of peace.

Iraq needs time. Time to beat vicious and well-armed and financed enemies. And time to rebuild.

The Civil War in Iraq Only Exists Here

The jihadi enemies want a civil war. They think that this will drive Sunni Arabs to support the jihadis as the only hope of surviving Shia fury. This has long been their strategy. That's whay they bomb Iraqi civilians.

The Iranians want a civil war. They hope that they can manipulate Sadr and his cohorts and ride Shia fury at Sunni Arabs into controlling Iraq.

But the Shias mostly did not act according to the script. And starting in February 2006, the Iranians decided to take a hand directly in starting a civil war. After the Samarra bombing, Shia attacks suspiciously in areas where Sadr had influence picked up pace tremendously.

Yet despite the increased killings by jihadis and Sadrists, the Shias and Sunni Arabs didn't play their roles. The Shias still held back. We can see this with the surge when killings declined when the Sadrists laid low. And the Sunni Arabs continue to move toward the government and away from resisting the government. Even the recent Samarra Part II bombing didn't ignite passions.

But our enemies have hope. They don't actually need a civil war in Iraq. They just need Americans to believe there is a civil war in Iraq. And they can just make stuff up to do that:

For the second time in less than year, the Associated Press seems to have run a story of a horrific massacre involving 20 or more people, using police officers not assigned to the area as their primary sources. For the second time in less than a year, it appears that there is no physical evidence that so much as a single person has died.

Our military can't confirm that any such incident took place.

And in Sadr City, Sadr's boys are trying to turn a battle they lost into a massacre. Says the enemy:

In the Shiite holy city of Najaf, Sheik Salah al-Obaidi, a spokesman for al-Sadr condemned Saturday's raids: "The bombing hurt only innocent civilians."

We describe a battle:

An American military spokesman insisted all of those killed were combatants.

"Everyone who got shot was shooting at U.S. troops at the time," said Lt. Col. Christopher Garver, the spokesman. "It was an intense firefight."

Unfortunately, Maliki is protesting without waiting to sort this out:

"The Iraqi government totally rejects U.S. military operations... conducted without a pre-approval from the Iraqi military command," al-Maliki said in a statement released by his office. "Anyone who breaches the military command orders will face investigation."

Maliki should worry about meeting legislative benchmarks or our Congress won't authorize future U.S. military operations. And every time people back here believe that innocent civilians are dying in a civil war without understanding the real causes of these deaths, the conviction that we should just let them kill each other increases over here.

But then the jihadis and Sadrists as well as war critics here will finally get an actual civil war in Iraq to match their views.

UPDATE: The "massacre" was a strike against Iran's boys in Iraq.

It's a strange civil war when the Shias who are killing Sunni Arabs are Iranian backed and the Sunni Arabs who are killing Shias are jihadis controlled by al Qaeda. But when you are an American Leftist determined to retreat, you work with the situtation you have and not the situation you wish you had.

UPDATE: And there was no mass beheading. Yet it still contributed to creating the impression that Iraq is in hopeless civil war.

Troop Density

If you wonder why our Army wants more space to train, keep these numbers in mind:

Two centuries ago, you had nearly 5,000 troops per square kilometer of battlefield. The declined to 3,900 150 years ago, to 404 in World War I, 36 in World War II, 2.34 during the 1991 Gulf war, and today, it's down to less than two per square kilometer. Without sufficient space, modern combat units cannot realistically practice for war. Without that practice, more troops get killed the first time they do it for real, while being shot at.

This progression in spreading troops out is another reason I was not too upset that we went to a brigade combat team of two line battalions.

Friday, June 29, 2007

Tokyo Reid

Our troops can see what is going on with the criticisms of the war at home:

The troops have been passing around an interesting discovery. Namely, that the Japanese psychological warfare effort during World War II included radio broadcasts that could be picked up by American troops. Popular music was played, but the commentary (by one of several English speaking Japanese women) always hammered away on the same points;

1 Your President (Franklin D Roosevelt) is lying to you.
2 This war is illegal.
3 You cannot win the war.

The troops are perplexed and somewhat amused that their own media is now sending out this message.

I was just in the wrong World War II theater of war with this post.

Hedging in Europe

With plans to reduce the Army presence in Europe to near zero with a couple ground combat brigades only left there, I wrote that we needed to keep a corps in Europe able to project power into Africa and the Central Command region and to maintain the peace in Europe.

It seems as if we are hedging our bets a bit about pulling forces back to the continental United States (via Stand-To!):

Under a broad plan to reconfigure US military forces in Europe, as few as three Army combat brigades, or about 35,000 soldiers, would remain there – a major downsizing from the roughly 62,000 US soldiers stationed there as recently as 2005.

That, at least, will be the recommendation of an internal study conducted for the head of US European Command and NATO forces in Europe, Gen. Bantz John Craddock, who had asked for a "troop-to-task" assessment of forces in the European theater. The assessment is expected to recommend that a fourth brigade based in the United States be deployed to Europe on a "rotational" basis, for exercises and other operations.

My proposal called for five ground combat brigades to remain in Europe, which would have retained our post-Desert Storm strength (two divisions of two brigades each with the divisions' third brigades back home, plus a parachute brigade. But instead of heavy forces to defend Europe we'd have more deployable forces to use Europe as a launching pad. I also anticipated that we'd rotate Stryker units to Eastern Europe for exercises.

This new plan puts us at four brigades, including one based in America that would rotate units to Eastenr Europe for training. Unless not all of these brigades are ground combat brigades, this could work fine.

Now This is Aiming High

Called as Seen has an interesting post about what our next step in controlling space could be: a transatmospheric vehicle called Black Horse. Though leaks seem to indicate we are going in another direction with a project called Blackstar, that direction doesn't make too much sense apparently. This could be misdirection. As I've noted before, misdirection is more effective than trying to hide or deny something.

But the Black Horse concept makes more sense:

Now, consider the vehicle described in this link. Size is held to a minimum by using aerial refueling to transfer oxidizer to the vehicle after launch; infrastructure requirements and prelaunch checklists are held to a minimum because the fuel and oxidizer are non-cryogenic; the bird can take off and land from just about any Air Force base worldwide if necessary; and the resulting "Black Horse" spaceplane is about the same size as an F-16.

This would be capable of striking objects in orbit, carrying payloads to orbit, and launching weapons from orbit or near orbit to strike ground targets rapidly and with little or no warning. Now that is space power unlike that duct-taped anti-satellite weapon the Chinese tested recently.

Still, saying that the leaked project could only be misinformation because the F-117 was never leaked before its debut in 1988 ignores that a stealth fighter played a major role in the 1986 thriller Red Storm Rising. So information did indeed leak out at least broadly.

Still, I'd bet on Black Horse over Blackstar. It fits the Air Force better, which should aim high to maintain roles (and budget):

I think the Air Force needs to go up to space and let the ground guys take over the aerial missions needed to directly support the troops.

Air superiority (including counter-air missions against enemy airfields), space control (both offensive and defensive), ICBMs, air transport, and electronic warfare should be the Air Force missions. Missions that are directly in support of ground forces should be controlled by those services with either helicopters or UAVs.

Science fiction calls space assets "ships" but there is no reason we must have a space navy in the future. Aim high, Air Force. Space Force has a nice ring, too.

This could be the start of the United States Space Force.

UPDATE: But not if the Air Force continues to insist that it should control the air space over the Army:

The battle, between the U.S. Army and Air Force, over who controls the air space over the battlefield, continues to heat up. What's happened, in effect, is that that, because of UAVs and smart bombs, most of the aircraft over the battlefield belong to the army.

The Air Force shouldn't try to command this level of fighting and observation. This is clearly Army (and Marine) terrain. Increased weapon and sensor range have expanded this sphere over ground forces, but the Air Force tries to act as if it is still 1950.

The Army and Marines are aiming higher. The Air Force must aim higher still.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Money, Guns, and Lawyers?

Instapundit links to a blog that notes that yes indeed we could win in Iraq on the ground and lose at home--basically what we did in Vietnam.

There are big differences making a direct comparison tough:

  1. Our military knows how we lost in Vietnam and hopefully is correcting for this fatal flaw by preparing the Iraqis to fight without our full support.

  2. This is such a vital region that if Iran tried to invade Iraq, we'd have to respond, thus ruling out losing the Vietnam way.

  3. Iraq has oil so doesn't require our miltiary aid just to buy the weapons to survive. If Iraq just has to face internal threats because Iran won't risk a fight with us, Iraq can beat them even if they do it more brutally than we would.

  4. We are hardly the only source of weapons and assistance. I doubt France would lose a chance to make a buck here selling French weapons. Private security firms can also be hired to carry out functions we would if Congress forbids certain aid. So Iraq will have the weapons and support that South Vietnam could not buy.

  5. And with the web, we might have the first real example of Americans carrying out their own foreign policy to support Iraq via the web if our government won't fight for us, and lobbying the government to stay involved as much as possible.

Money, guns, and lawyers. What else do you need if the sh*t hits the fan?

The Enemy of My Enemy

It is coming late to the war, but the Sunnis are finally rallying with the Shias and Kurds against the jihadi invaders. Iraq the Model (tip to Instapundit) notes the change in attitude:

For over a year the media and many officials were spooking us with the exaggerated ghost of civil war. I wonder what they have to say now! I think their silence is more telling than anything they would've said.

Iraqis are awakening, one very telling example can be seen in the ongoing operation in Diyala; members of the 1920 revolution brigades, once bitter enemies of the US military and Iraqi government are now assisting US and Iraqi military in fighting al-Qaeda even though the majority of the Iraqi soldiers and officers are Shia. If the change in exclusively Sunni Anbar is good then the change in Diyala is good beyond

I noted this possibility more than a year and a half ago, as a continuation of a trend that began in the summer of 2004. I concluded:

This trend will lead to victory over the enemy and may well solidify a national Iraqi identity first forged in the Iran-Iraq War in the 1980s. We shall see if the artificiality of Iraq is any more significant than the artificiality of any other country that relies on lines drawn on maps to describe itself.

Focusing on the bomb of the day makes you miss the long-term trends that point to advances against the enemy.

The Great Walls of Baghdad

Interfering with insurgent and terrorist freedom of movement is basic to counter-insurgency. The Boer War saw the British crisscross the countryside with barbed wire fences and block houses to hold troops in order to impede horse travel. If Boers attacked somewhere, they'd draw a reaction but be slowed down and channeled as they sought to escape.

This is what we did in Baghdad:

"The point of the walls was to structure the environment, to hold the city and keep it safe," he tells DANGER ROOM. "It's like [keeping] guard inside a concrete building, instead of in the middle of a field... You don't need vast maneuver forces to do it... It's the principle of economy of force."

Now that the eleven sets of walls across Baghdad have been built -- "controlling access, preventing attacks on the community, and preventing attacks from being launched on someone else," Kilcullen says -- "we're now in a position to move against the [insurgent] havens."

"Murders and sectarian killings have dropped 63%" in Baghdad's Adhamiya neighborhood, since the wall has been put in place, he claims. Residents are "thrilled."

Initially, the barrier there -- and in other locations around Iraq's capitol -- drew protests and international outcry. Iraqi premier Nouri al-Maliki even called for a halt in construction, saying, "I oppose the building of the wall and its construction will stop. There are other methods to protect neighborhoods." But Kilcullen asserts that most of the local protests were "information operations" conducted by insurgent groups, meant to undermine U.S. plans to improve Baghdad's security.

I discussed the barriers earlier, noting that Sunni complaints were probably from Baathists (or pro-jihadis, too, for that matter), and later noting information that indicated the protests really were information operations.

In the end the enemy couldn't stop the walls. And now they will play a role in strangling the insurgency. It is amazingly dense that it took this long in the war to carry out such a basic procedure.

Not that I think I commented on this approach before, so I'm not claiming any special genius here. But some things I just kind of assume we would be doing. And if I read about berms or barriers in one part of Iraq, I kind of assumed this was just one story of a general policy. I guess not.

Mistakes in war are the norm, however, so complaints of errors are no reason to write off the whole war as so many do. We have built the barriers now. And they will have an effect.

We are winning this war. We were winning the war before the surge in my opinion (though from March to December 2006 the pace was too slow to beat our waning will to fight it to a successful conclusion, I think), and are winning it now (at a faster pace which hopefully oupaces our accelerating loss of will). Good grief, it would be downright embarassing to lose now!

Sending a Message

Ethiopia may be tiring of Eritrea's proxy war in Somalia and other efforts directed against Ethiopia:

Ethiopia's prime minister said Thursday he is building up the army's capabilities because he fears an imminent attack by Eritrea, which he also accused of arming rebel groups inside his country.

I sincerely doubt that Eritrea is pining for open war given the drubbing they received nearly a decade ago.

After fighting with American forces in Somalia against the Islamic Courts movement, Ethiopia probably feels in a pretty good diplomatic position to pressure Eritrea.

We'll see if this is a shot across the bow or aimed directly at Asmara.

Tehran's Man in Samarra

The Idiot Sadr may be disappointed that the latest attack on Shias by knocking down the minarets of the Golden Mosque in Samarra didn't spark renewed sectarian violence.

So he's trying to remedy that problem:

Radical Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr vowed Thursday to go ahead with a planned march to a devastated shrine in central Iraq but insisted the goal is not to confront Sunnis who live along the way.

Instead, al-Sadr said the march is aimed at bringing Shiites and Sunnis closer together and breaking down the barriers imposed by the Americans and Sunni religious extremists.

The march is set for July 5 to the Askariya shrine in Samarra, which was bombed for a second time June 13. Sunni organizations and government officials have urged al-Sadr to cancel the march, fearing it will escalate sectarian violence that already has claimed thousands of lives.

On the bright side, maybe we'll get a chance to kill or arrest him.

UPDATE: Citing security concerns, Sadr cancelled the march. He just isn't as powerful as he used to be.

Remember How We Got Here

It is common to say that our strategy in Iraq for the last years until the surge was all wrong. I disagree. We were progressing until spring 2006, but new circumstances following the Samarra Golden Dome bombing required a change in approach that the surge is carrying out. (Certainly, it took us too long to adapt, but only in retrospect is that absolutely clear.)

I want to address one thing in the good post on the surge that I wrote about here, which I think is potentially misleading:

Therefore—and this is the major change in our strategy this year—protecting and controlling the population is do-able, but destroying the enemy is not. We can drive him off from the population, then introduce local security forces, population control, and economic and political development, and thereby "hard-wire" the enemy out of the environment, preventing his return. But chasing enemy cells around the countryside is not only a waste of time, it is precisely the sort of action he wants to provoke us into. That’s why AQ cells leaving an area are not the main game—they are a distraction. We played the enemy’s game for too long: not any more. Now it is time for him to play our game.

The problem is that while going after enemy cells is surely pointless if you can't protect the population, going after the enemy so that they can only move about in small cells is absolutely crucial to protecting the people. This is the problem I saw with the calls for an oil spot strategy that ignored the enemy outside the oil spots:

To recap, we can't secure population centers without atomizing the enemy which makes our Iraqi friends relatively more capable than the enemy and which keeps the enemy busy surviving rather than attacking. Further, good kill ratios are only important tactically. It helps to keep our losses down by being more effective but this is just a holding action. Stopping the recruitment of new enemy forces is the only way to defeat the enemy.

We can focus on the population now precisely because earlier we atomized the enemy through offensive operations. The enemy operates in squads at most and almost always relies on roadside bombs or suicide bombs rather than direct combat.

The complaint that we are only now fighting properly also ignores the fact that in the big picture, we were trying to protect the Iraqi population all along even as we atomized the enemy on offense. The difference was that prior to the surge we split the jobs between American forces on offense and Iraqi forces for the securing part of the strategy. But the Iraqis have not been good enough or experienced enough to cope with the terrorists, death squads, and insurgents, whose money, fervor, and experience make them too formidable to defeat without our more direct help.

This direct American help in the securing aspect is what is different. And in the end, we can't do this for very long. In the long run, the old strategy of relying on the Iraqis to secure the population must be resurrected. Hopefully, our surge disrupts the enemy enough and secures the population long enough for the Iraqis to become good enough for the job and for the population to feel safe enough to reject the terrorists, death squads, and insurgents.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Scorched Earth Policy

Robert Mugabe will lose power eventually. At 83 he'll either just die or the opposition might get their act together.

But the winners will have little to hold as proof they won when the time comes. After wrecking the farming sector by seizing white-owned farms, Mugabe is determined to destroy whatever is left that generates GDP:

Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe on Wednesday threatened to seize foreign companies, including mines, that have raised prices and cut output in an economic "dirty tricks" campaign to oust his government.

He'll do it. And in the short run have some stolen goodies to give to his supporters to win another election.

But after the election there will be less and less produced, and Zimbabwe will continue on its path to total destruction. Not that Africa can be bothered with this. And the UN is only concerned that Zimbabwe die quietly so as not to interfere with their conferences about poverty and honest government held in Geneva.

Zimbabwe once had hope as an engine to drive the region to increased prosperity. Now it will be lucky to avoid North Korean starvation standards.

Protecting Iraq's Infrastructure

I've long mentioned that Iraq's Facilities Protection Service of about 140,000 admittedly poorly trained and often not loyal forces do serve a function that would have to be performed by troops or police if the FPS did not exist. They defend ministries and other property. But these personnel are never counted in the total of forces fighting the enemy.

More recently I read briefings that noted Strategic Infrastructure Battalions whose performance seemed fairly good. I wondered if the FPS had been renamed (and gotten much better).

In fact, these are two separate forces. I got this from the latest Pentagon report on Iraq.

Right now the Iraqi Ministry of Defense has 152,000, mostly in the army. The Ministry of the Interior has 194,000 police of various outfits.

Although the FPS are part of the MOI, they are not included in the Pentagon report because they are not part of our training and equipping program. The FPS are mostly contract personnel hired by the various ministries for guard duty. But not including the FPS in total numbers is for a purely bureaucratic reason and does not deny that they have a role to play. Iraq plans to centralize training and improve the FPS with a goal of 98,000 FPS of higher quality than the current force.

The SIBs are actually part of the army and designed to protect key infrastructure. They are included in the army total. I assume these were formed since the FPS was not up to the task. The Iraqis plan to train them up to army infantry battalion standards but with a focus on protecting infrastructure. Only 13 of 17 planned battalions are operating now.

We have at least 640,000 Iraqi, contract, and Coalition forces under arms--of varying quality--fighting the enemy. And this doesn't include the Kurdish militias that protect their provinces. Nor does it include local militias fighting with us and neighborhood watches.

So there you go, mystery solved. And let me add again, we have enough forces to defeat our enemies in Iraq.

ROC Soup

Strategypage writes that the Chinese defense build up has no real rhyme or reason:

[At] first, a few years ago, it was believed that the Chinese leadership had some mysterious plan for all the new things the generals were buying. But now it appears that there's no plan, just a shopping spree by a lot of independent minded military big-shots. It's all very expensive, and worrisome.

Well, this doesn't address the idea that Russia may have some pretty focused ideas about who China should fight based on weapons sales to China.

And this doesn't address the intense Chinese interest in capturing Taiwan. If China isn't building up their military with an eye on Taiwan, Taiwan will still be the only obvious target for that build up of arms.

Nor does the argument that there is no focus to the military build up deny that even this scattered shopping spree will include all the components the Chinese need to invade Taiwan.

China doesn't need to be efficient to be a danger to Taiwan. Add a little of this and a dash of that, and pretty soon you get the ingredients for an invasion force without even trying.

Step Back and Observe

It seems rather obvious that we are winning the war in Iraq, which makes calls to run away all the more frustrating.

I've been meaning to provide an Iraq 101 both broader and briefer than my Iraq SITREP post.

Until I do that, this Strategypage post will fill the need nicely. The basic situation:

The strategy for such a war is simple, hold elections and get the elected government strong enough so that it can take care of itself without American troops. The media missed an obvious part of this story. That is the fact that the majority Shia and Kurds had been excluded from leadership positions in the military, police and government for decades. There were obvious reasons for this, but the present result was that loyal security forces required experienced Shia and Kurdish leaders, who had to be created from scratch. There were some Sunni officers and officials that could be trusted, but most were suspect.

Read it all, as the saying goes. Our Left still has trouble understanding what we are trying to do. While Victor Hanson urges us to have a little perspective about what we can still accomplish.

The enemy is trying to win. That's why it is a "war." Let's fight to win.

Sock Puppet

West Iran is helping Iran evade the international arms embargo (yeah, there is one, though that is hard to see):

Iran is using Syrian arms purchases from Russia, as a way to get around a UN and U.S. arms embargo. The latest example of this is a billion dollar purchase of Russian MiG-31 and MiG-29 fighters.

Strategypage also notes that Syria has agreed to be Iran's poodle. As I noted here.

Assad thinks he is using Iran to survive, but Iran is Hell-bent on glory and will sacrifice Syria to achieve their dream of a Heaven-creating end time.

The Rush to Anti-War

Those who are complaining that the surge has failed, don't understand that the real surge is just beginning. What we've seen up to now has been positioning forces and preliminary actions in Baghdad setting the stage. We're not even two weeks into the actual surge (tip to Weekly Standard):

On June 15th we kicked off a major series of division-sized operations in Baghdad and the surrounding provinces. As General Odierno said, we have finished the build-up phase and are now beginning the actual “surge of operations”. I have often said that we need to give this time. That is still true. But this is the end of the beginning: we are now starting to put things onto a viable long-term footing.

These operations are qualitatively different from what we have done before. Our concept is to knock over several insurgent safe havens simultaneously, in order to prevent terrorists relocating their infrastructure from one to another, and to create an operational synergy between what we're doing in Baghdad and what's happening outside. Unlike on previous occasions, we don't plan to leave these areas once they’re secured. These ops will run over months, and the key activity is to stand up viable local security forces in partnership with Iraqi Army and Police, as well as political and economic programs, to permanently secure them. The really decisive activity will be police work, registration of the population and counterintelligence in these areas, to comb out the insurgent sleeper cells and political cells that have "gone quiet" as we moved in, but which will try to survive through the op and emerge later. This will take operational patience, and it will be intelligence-led, and Iraqi government-led. It will probably not make the news (the really important stuff rarely does) but it will be the truly decisive action.

When we speak of "clearing" an enemy safe haven, we are not talking about destroying the enemy in it; we are talking about rescuing the population in it from enemy intimidation. If we don't get every enemy cell in the initial operation, that's OK. The point of the operations is to lift the pall of fear from population groups that have been intimidated and exploited by terrorists to date, then win them over and work with them in partnership to clean out the cells that remain – as has happened in Al Anbar Province and can happen elsewhere in Iraq as well.

When these operations began, it was clear that the press didn't have a clue about the significance. The press now seems to understand something big is happening, but there still seems to be a cluelessness about the operation (witness questions about our higher casualties recently that fail to comprehend that offensives will do that) that spills over into our political class declaring defeat.

This is a long-term operation and as I've mentioned before, our job is to both build up the Iraqi security forces and atomize the enemy forces so that Iraqi forces are good enough to do the job with no or minimal help from us. I just hope the program of sifting the population to strain out the enemies works better than it did in Fallujah after November 2004.

The author also notes the fallacy of thinking that we should "unleash" our forces to just kill them all. Our approach that seeks to protect the population is the militarily correct way to defeat terrorists and insurgents.

This is the risk of a high-profile surge. We may be forced by the public and our press to use a bad metric for judging the operation and we may have dangerously depleted our already waning patience, which is the real resource we need.

I will say that we are using the extra forces of the surge appropriately. I feared we'd fail to use them correctly and just plant them in more of the same which would have only increased our casualties. I thought our approach needed to change more than we needed more troops. We've done both, so I'll wait to see how this unfolds. I suggest our political and chattering classes do the same.

Defeat should really be the last option we consider when all other options are exhausted. Let's not be in such a rush to anti-war. Amazingly, many aren't even waiting for the September reports on Iraq to declare defeat and run away.

Swing and a Miss

I am wrong again.

Tony Blair has stepped down as prime minister of Great Britain:

Blair submitted his resignation to Queen Elizabeth II during a 25-minute closed-door meeting at Buckingham Palace. With his wife, Cherie, he waved to reporters and then traveled to his constituency in northern England, where he is expected to quit as a lawmaker to take up his post with the Quartet of Mideast peace mediators.

Brown, a 56-year-old Scot known for his often stern demeanor, beamed as he was applauded by Treasury staff before heading with his wife, Sarah, to the palace to be confirmed as prime minister.

I was convinced that President Bush and Prime Minister Blair had resolved to defeat the Iranian mullah nuclear threat together. I thought it would be an attempt at regime change. Apparently not. The dots I thought I saw were not connected.

Unless this means something (tip to Instapundit):

Unrest sparked by government gas rationing continued all night. The rioting, mainly in Tehran, but also in other cities, spread beyond the gas stations to government banks and government-run supermarkets, which were ransacked by ordinary people. It took hours for security forces to gain control and some forces fled the scene to safety.

Perhaps the mullahs are paranoid enough. But we've seen unrest before and the mullahs have remained.

I may have to conclude that we really are prepared to just let the mullahs proceed on their merry way toward a nuclear future and hope for the best.

Yes indeed, lovely decade we're having here.

Armchair Jingoes

Barbara Tuchman reminds me that the current cries of "chicken hawk" are nothing new. That's why Teddy Roosevelt sailed with the Rough Riders and went to war in Cuba:

Men like myself, as he wrote privately to a friend, having been taunted with being "armchair and parlor Jingoes, ... my power for good whatever it may be, would be gone if I didn't try to live up to the doctrines that I have tried to preach."

Forming a volunteer cavalry regiment is in the past, of course. But it is interesting that in a hundred years anti-war movements haven't been able to come up with something better than charging "chicken hawk" to avoid arguing the merits of war with pro-war civilians.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

The Road to Kabul

I've written that our war in Afghanistan is overly reliant on tenuous supply lines through Central Asia.

And our good friends the Russians and Chinese are working hard to cut that supply line:

The SCO (Shanghai Cooperation Organization. consisting of Russia, China, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan) held several days of joint military exercises in Kyrgyzstan. These were largely to improve cooperation between the troops of the nations, in the event that the larger partners (Russia and China) were called in to help with a counter-terrorism operation, or to help keep a local ruler in power. At the moment, the major goals of the SCO is to get the United States to withdraw their troops and bases from the region. Russia and China, which dominate the organization, believe American influence is threatening the dictators who dominate the governments of Central Asia.

Yet another reason to to detroy the mullah regime in Iran and put in a friendly government bolstered by democracy. We need a more secure supply line to Afghanistan.

For those who think the only real war is in Afghanistan, the road to Kabul may go through Tehran, quite literally.

The Time Factor

So is Iran secure under the mullahs despite widespread hatred of the mullahs?

The sense one gets on the ground that the regime will endure is shared by experts at the CIA and other U.S. intelligence agencies, according to U.S. officials who are familiar with current intelligence reporting and analysis but request anonymity because of the sensitive subject matter. In public testimony to Congress last year, John Negroponte, then the U.S. intelligence czar, noted that "hard-liners have control of all the major branches and institutions of government."

This is no small matter. How secure is the mullah regime? The CIA says secure enough. Or rather, this reporter says some officials willing to leak say that the intelligence says so.

Some say that Iran is teetering and that we must pursue regime change rather than bombing to solve our approaching mullah-with-nukes problem.

Others say Iran is so secure that we must accomodate Iran under the mullahs and learn to love the bomb, and teach the Iranians to keep it holstered free of any threat from us.

Others say that the mullahs are so secure that we must destroy the bombs from the air even if this is just a temporary solution.

Certainly, the Iranians want us to believe they are secure. So secure that we must learn to live with Iran--well, live them long enough for Iran to get the bomb and then the mullahs do what they wish with them.

In these three broad options, you have to toss in the factor of time. The Iranian mullahs might be atop a seething mass of angry people, but the mullahs might be secure enough for long enough to get the bomb. And then the equation could change.

The people of Iran might give up hope for another generation. And we'd have to factor in a much higher price as the cost of defeating the mullahs.

So I hope the mullahs are so weak that we can push them over the edge. But we have limited time before we must bomb them to buy more time and hope for the best. I've written it time and time again, I'll feel no better knowing that the Iranian people feel really really bad that the mullahs destroyed Charleston with a nuclear blast.

I hope no serious people in charge really think the middle option of hoping for the best from the Tehran thugs is a good idea.

How Many Cheeks Do We Have?

Is there no outrage that Iran can commit against us that we can't ignore? (Tip to NRO)

Iranian Revolutionary Guard forces have been spotted by British troops crossing the border into southern Iraq, The Sun tabloid reported on Tuesday.

Britain's defence ministry would not confirm or deny the report, with a spokesman declining to comment on "intelligence matters".

An unidentified intelligence source told the tabloid: "It is an extremely alarming development and raises the stakes considerably. In effect, it means we are in a full on war with Iran -- but nobody has officially declared it."

"We have hard proof that the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps have crossed the border to attack us. It is very hard for us to strike back. All we can do is try to defend ourselves. We are badly on the back foot."

The Sun said that radar sightings of Iranian helicopters crossing into the Iraqi desert were confirmed to it by very senior military sources.

I can't judge the validity of this report, but the lack of response is consistent with our incredible ability to ignore Iran's war against us.

Can we destroy their regime yet?

UPDATE: Iran won't stop attacking us!

Iranian operatives are training fighters in Iraq and helping to plan attacks there despite diplomatic pressure on Tehran to halt such interference, U.S. officials said on Wednesday.

The latest accusation leveled against Iran by the U.S. military followed rare diplomatic talks in Baghdad last month between the two old adversaries to discuss Washington's concerns in Iraq.

"There absolutely is evidence of Iranian operatives holding weapons, training fighters, providing resources, helping plan operations, resourcing secret cells that is destabilizing Iraq," said military spokesman Brigadier-General Kevin Bergner.

These are dark days indeed when a sternly worded diplomatic note fails to have an impact in Tehran!

Once You Start Running

I've long held that our Left supports the Afghan campaign only as a defense against being soft on defense so they can impose defeat on the Iraq campaign.

Canadian liberals who are under no burden of proving their defense credentials are clearly against the Afghan campaign. They apparently didn't get the "good war" versus "bad war" memo. Without the Iraq War, like their Canadian counter-parts, our Left would be free to be anti-war for Afghanistan, too. So logically, if they can end the Iraq War, the Afghan War won't be far off their target list.

I guess I was a little off in assuming that the Left would want a decent interval between declaring mission accomplished in the Iraq bugout before trying to undermine the "real war" against al Qaeda in Afghanistan (tip to Weekly Standard):

When they won control of Congress in November, Democrats pressed their case to withdraw troops from Iraq and refocus on Afghanistan, but some are growing impatient with U.S. operations in Afghanistan as well.

A few congressional Democrats go so far as suggesting that the Pentagon should pull out of Afghanistan now, while others say that troop withdrawal will be addressed after the military is out of Iraq.

Rep. Neil Abercrombie (D-Hawaii), a senior defense authorizer, wants the U.S. out of Afghanistan immediately, calling operations there “futile” in trying to effect political change in a country with a tangled history.

Most other Democrats want to focus on Afghanistan, with the goal of withdrawing the military down the road after the country is stabilized and any new Taliban resurgence quashed.

With a few exceptions, congressional Democrats no longer show any hesitation about withdrawing the military from Iraq. But they are more circumspect about Afghanistan, saying that the Bush administration let the situation worsen by shifting attention onto a protracted conflict in Iraq.

And even Republicans are shamefully putting on their running shoes.

Once you work up a head of steam running away, it is tough to stop the momentum.

Monday, June 25, 2007

Happy Ending?

Strategypage notes a new threat to the communist regime in Peking. The new middle class has the power to resist high-handed government actions that threaten the well-being of the middle class:

The middle class have cell phones and Internet access. The middle class also has access to the upper reaches of the Communist Party, which relies on middle class administrators and technocrats, to make things happen. If the middle class turns on the Communist Party, the communists will lose. The revenge of the bourgeoisies, so to speak.

Standard procedure against angry powerless peasants don't work on these people.

Strategypage thinks that this trend will break the power of the communists.

Perhaps. In the long run this may be true. But I don't assume it. (Heck, I don't assume that we must be limited to one outcome when it comes to China) In the short run, however, the communists may find a new way to clamp down on this new power to resist that will put off the "inevitable" defeat of the communists.

And in the short run, China could cause us lots of problems.

Sometimes you just get screwed with no happy ending at all.

UPDATE: Mad Minerva emailed to note this article on the decline of Marxism in education:

"The main reason Chinese officials and scholars do not talk about communism is that hardly anybody really believes that Marxism should provide guidelines for thinking about China's political future," he wrote. "The ideology has been so discredited by its misuses that it has lost almost all legitimacy in society…. To the extent there's a need for a moral foundation for political rule in China, it almost certainly won't come from Karl Marx."

Still, it isn't easy to find students who will expressly renounce Marxism.

It may be because they know that to succeed in China, it helps immensely to be a member of the ruling Communist Party. It may be because Marxism and Maoist philosophy are so deeply woven into the fabric of Chinese life that students take them for granted, the way some American students accept a constitutional democracy without thinking too deeply about the alternatives. It may be because they truly believe in Marxism, and see the current period as a necessary stage on the path to true communism.

Or perhaps it may simply be because they're afraid.
The fear in the population is still present whether it is Marxist-inspired or just a run-of-mill thug dictatorship.

While this trend certainly provides a wedge to tip China toward democracy, China might just become an authoritarian threat to world peace.

China has time to choose whether they will be our friend or foe. We can handle either choice, I think.

The Downward Spiral

The jihadis remain threats even as the tide has turned against them. Arab rulers and the Arab people increasingly see the jihadis as threats to their own rule or lives.

It was fun for Arab autocrats when the jihadis just wanted to kill Jews or Americans. It was a convenient distraction from the reality that the autocrats were responsible for the mess these countries were in. Since 9/11, even the autrocrats have found reason to battle the jihadis in their own countries rather than tolerate them safely assuming the jihadis would only strike Jews and Americans

And now, the old reliable Palestinians have betrayed the trust that the Arab world placed in them to only hate Jews. The jihadis see Hamas as a potential ally:

Al-Qaida's deputy leader called on Muslims around the world to back Hamas with weapons, money and attacks on U.S. and Israeli interests in a Web audiotape Monday, urging the Palestinian militant group to unite with al-Qaida's "holy warriors" after its takeover of Gaza.

Hamas used to just hate Jews but Iranian money convinced them that there were so many more to hate, including Arabs. So it doesn't even matter if Hamas rejects al Qaeda or continues to embrace Iran. And Arab rulers have noticed the shift:

On Tuesday, Mubarak is to meet with Saudi King Abdullah in Sharm el-Sheik, seeking to unify an Arab front behind Abbas.

Mubarak is afraid a Hamas-ruled Gaza on his country's border could embolden Egypt's own banned Islamic opposition, the Muslim Brotherhood, and spawn terror attacks. Abdullah is afraid the Fatah-Hamas conflict could spread to the West Bank and spill over to neighboring Jordan, where about half the population is Palestinian.

And both, along with Saudi Arabia, are afraid Gaza could become a forward position for their regional foe, Iran.
And now al Qaeda bids for the alliance of Hamas (assuming the Zawahiri call for alliance is not made with the cooperation of Tehran in the first place). While I think a failing Hamas could be a good lesson for Palestinians in the long run, with Iranian support and jihadi hatred, Hamas Gaza will be a threat in the short run.

Yet simply overthrowing the Hamas government wouldn't help even if we could do it. The Gazans are too far gone for such a simple solution, and like they did under a Fatah government or under a joint government, Hamas would wage war on Israel whether they run Gaza or simply operate in Gaza. The people of Gaza (and the West Bank to a lesser degree) are simply too obsessed with killing Jews rather than building their lives:

This is not a failure of the Bush diplomacy, the disorder now on full display in Gaza and the West Bank. This is the harvest of Palestinian history. What we see is the inevitable fate of a national movement given over to the cult of the gun.
As we force the Arab world to confron the reality of the myth of jihad, we reduce the support the jihadis find in the Arab world. So we must push Hamas to fail in order to reduce the zeal that Gazans have for their beloved jihad. Only then can we hope that the Palestinians will elect good men. And maybe other people will get the idea, too. Democracy is the solution--eventually--and not the problem.

Unless you think the solution to the cult of the gun is just a question of who controls the gun. That wouldn't be very progressive of you at all.

Democracy is Not the Problem

Secretary Rice defended our pursuit of democracy in the Moslem world:

"There is nothing wrong with the people of the Middle East," Rice added. "They can triumph and triumph democratically."

"Democracy is hard," she stressed, "and I see it as especially hard when there are determined enemies who try and strangle it."

I've said it again and again, rule of law is key to the success of democracy. Voting is necessary to have democracy, of course, but it is not enough.

Yet with violence in places where democracy is trying to emerge (Lebanon, Palestinian territory, Iraq, and Afghanistan), I am amazed that so-called Progressives blame democracy itself for the violence:

Western and Arab reporters questioned Rice sharply Sunday about statements she made nearly a year ago, in which she referred to "the birth pangs of a new Middle East." She suggested at the time that violence and hardship may be necessary to achieve freedom and that the forces of moderation and democracy will win out against what she called extremists.

Violence and fratricide have followed each of three U.S.-backed elections in the Middle East in the past three years — in Iraq, Lebanon and the Palestinian territories. On Sunday, Rice acknowledged the bad news.

The thugs predated voting in all these locations. Democracy is a new hope that rule of law could replace bullets and scimitars as a way of settling differences. The violence is the result of the thugs still existing in those areas and unwilling to let ballots replace bullets. The thugs know they are good with bullets. Ballots are too uncertain a tool to maintain control.

Don't blame democracy for trying to end the rule of thugs. Thugs would prefer to kill quietly with no press to report on their actitivies, but kill they will to maintain their rule without that democracy mucking up their raping and pillaging.

And don't call yourself "progressive" if you blame democracy for the violence of thugs who oppose democracy.

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Be Careful What You Wish For

One argument against attacking Iran is that it will play into the hands of the nutjobs since the people will rally to Ahmadinajad. I don't know if such a rally would be more than a short-term and fleeting effect.

Ahmadinejad seems to bolster the argument that attacking Iran would benefit Iran by his apparent welcome of a fight with America. They are boasting a lot of our impending doom:

In the modern military lexicon, rajaz functions as psychological warfare.

Against that background, recent statements by several key figures in the Khomeinist leadership can be seen as rajaz. These figures appear to have bought into President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's theory that a limited war against the United States is inevitable and that, once fought, will result in the Americans running away, leaving Tehran to set the agenda for the Middle East and even beyond.

What's odd, however, is that the Islamic Republic's top brass apparently don't share Ahmadinejad's belief that a duel with the United States would be short and sweet, let alone that it would end with Tehran's victory.
So his top brass are not so sure of the wisdom of assuming a fight with us would leave them strengthened (though last summer's Hizbollah War surely bolsters this belief). And are the Pasdaran (Revolutionary Guards) less than unanimous in favor of a fight?

Low-intensity operations and proxy wars sap the morale of the enemy without giving it a pretext for using its superior military might against the Islamic Republic. There's no guarantee that any full-scale war wouldn't transmute into regime change.

The Guard has a more specific cause for concern. It knows that, in case of a major war, it would be the principal target of U.S. attacks. The Americans could leave the Iranian regular army intact while dismantling the Guard's network of bases and strategic assets. The Guard's destruction could leave the "mullahrchy" defenseless and vulnerable to a power grab by the regular army in alliance with the political opponents of Khomeinism.

Like I've written, thug regimes welcome only ineffective military conflict with us:

First of all, I don't know why we assume that Iranians who hate being ordered about by religious fanatics will suddenly be pro-religious fanatics if we deprive said religious fanatic dictators of their nuclear, chemical, and biological weapons. Perhaps they will. But I've seen nothing that seems to actually analyze this. Perhaps it can't really be analyzed with any certainty. I simply note that the September 11 attacks--except for a brief period--didn't rally nearly half this country to the government. Why would Iranians--who are actually repressed unlike the fantasy oppression here imagined by Hollywood types--be more loyal to their government?

And second, just because the mullahs in their twisted world view think that an attack on them will strengthen them doesn't mean it is acutally true.

Didn't the Taliban and al Qaeda want America to strike back at Afghanistan imagining that we'd be ineffective? Bad call on their part.And don't we now see that Saddam assumed that he'd weather any attack on him in 2003 and emerge stronger for defying us again? Once more, bad call on his part.

I hope we've cultivated ties with the Iranians for just such a power grab.

Good Overview

LTG Odierno gives an outstanding overview of the latest large offensive in Iraq.

Winning Hearts and Minds

I don't get the attitudes of those who oppose the war.

They say we should talk to our enemies.

But when we talk to them to get them to side with us, this is apparently a disaster:

And as it struggles in the raging heat and violence of central Iraq, the U.S. military appears to have bought into the tactic in its struggle to pull what victory it can from the increasingly troubled American mission in Iraq, under congressional pressure for a troop pullout and a presidential election campaign already in the minds of voters.
Good grief, people. The objective is to end the insurgency and terrorism campaigns--not to exterminate every Sunni Arab who had bad thoughts about America or the Shia and Kurd majorities. How is it possible to portray the defection of enemies as something bad?

I for one have called for getting the enemy to switch sides since November 2003. We don't have to kill every current enemy to call it a victory. Getting the enemy to lay down their arms is just fine. That counts as victory too, and trying to portray this trend as somehow a sign of our desperation is simply idiotic. When our military speaks of our armed efforts as being just a small part of the campaign that relies on non-military means to win, this defection of the enemy is exactly what that means! Do you think this balance of effort is just talk? It is real.

It's almost as if these anti-war types only want talks with the enemy to arrange the terms of our surrender to them.

This Tiresome Refrain Must Cease

I am truly getting sick of all the lame talk about how we've mismanaged the war in Iraq. While I admire Senator McCain for sticking by the war until we win, his constant cries of how poorly we've fought the war are really starting to annoy me.

Victor Hanson reminds us that such cries could have been leveled at the Allies every day of the week during World War II:

Our forefathers made several mistakes. They attacked nonexistent artillery emplacements. Planes dropped paratroopers far from intended targets. Critical landing assignments on Omaha Beach were missed.

Once they left shore, it got worse. Indeed, D-Day was soon forgotten in the nightmare of GIs being blown apart in the Normandy hedgerows by well-concealed, entrenched German panzers. Apparently, no American planners — from Army Chief of Staff Gen. George Marshall down to the staff of Allied Supreme Commander Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower — had anticipated either the difficulty of penetrating miles of these dense thickets or the deadliness of new German model tanks and antitank weapons.

So we landed in Europe with the weaponry we had — and it was in large part vastly inferior to that of the Wehrmacht.

The most brilliant armored commander in U.S. history, George S. Patton, had been sacked from theater command for slapping an ill soldier the prior year in Sicily. Gens. Omar N. Bradley and Bernard L. Montgomery lacked his genius and audacity — and tens of thousands of Allied soldiers were to pay for Patton's absence at Normandy.

We finally broke out of the mess after using heavy bombers to blast holes in the German lines. But again, these operations were fraught with foul-ups.

On two successive occasions we bombed our own troops, altogether killing or wounding over 1,000 Americans, including the highest-ranking officer to die in the European theater, Lt. Gen. Lesley J. McNair. The nature of his death was hidden from the press — as were many mistakes and casualties both leading up to and after Normandy.

When the disaster in the bocage near the Normandy beaches ended over two months after D-Day, the victorious Americans, British, and Canadians had been bled white. Altogether, the winners of the Normandy campaign suffered a quarter-million dead, wounded, or missing, including almost 30,000 American fatalities — losing nearly ten times the number of combat dead in four years of fighting in Iraq.

And let me remind you of what Orson Scott Card wrote in early January 2006:

Well, dumb-guy Bush and his team have been leading us in the best-run war in American history -- not a flawless war, but one with far fewer and less costly mistakes than the norm. (Dear Furious Letter Writers: Don't even bother arguing this point with me until you've studied the mistakes made in all our other wars so you have some kind of perspective.)

Yes, this was before the Samarra mosque bombing in February which changed the nature of the war. But after failing to handle the new situation under the old rules through the rest of 2006, we've revamped and resorted to directly confronting the enemy as I speculated we should consider within a couple months of the Samarra bombing.

War is a series of blunders and errors. Our sins have been minor but well publicized. Only Allah knows how much our enemy is hurt. We may appear stuck in the bocage again, but the breakout and pursuit will follow.

The enemy has made the gravest error of all, in my opinion. And we'll carry that error to victory.

Saturday, June 23, 2007

The Next Link in the Chain

The enemy has many weapons to help them fight our superior military power. Their most impressive weapon is by manipulating our human rights-media complex. It requires many links in a chain of events to work, but it can work.

The first link is having a human-rights-media complex that is reflexively anti-American or at least suspicious of us. Throw in some who are downright sympathetic to the enemy of America is a bonus.

The next link is to have an enemy willing to kill civilians to fight us. They hide among civilians either to protect themselves or to cause civilian casualties when we fight the enemy even though civilians surround the enemy.

The next link is to have the human rights industry complain that we are killing civilians without explaining that the responsiblity lies with the enemy who fights among civilians.

The next link is to have the media report these charges without informing the public of the responsibilities of the enemy to avoid civilians and remind readers that we have the right under internaional law to fire regardless of the presence of civilians. Explaining that we expend great effort from weapons development to rules of engagement to minimize civilian casualties would be nice too, but is rarely done.

This is the next step,with President Karzai of Afghanistan reacting to the reports:

"Attacks causing civilian casualties, as I have said before, are not acceptable for us. It is no longer tolerated," Karzai told reporters on Saturday.

"As you are aware over the past several days, as result of indiscriminate and unprecise operations of NATO and coalition forces, our people suffered casualties," he said, flanked by his Defence Minister Abdul Rahim Wardak.

Karzai can resist pressure to react to this death only so much.

The next step is that we stop fighting the enemy as hard as we have whenever civilians are near or we risk alienating civilian support in Afghanistan.

The next step is that the enemy can move more freely by making sure they are surrounded by civilians.

The next step is that the enemy is able to kill our forces and innocent civilians more effectively.

If our press would refuse to cooperate in this enemy weapon, fewer civilians would die. That won't happen.

UPDATE: We are resisting playing our part in this ploy:

"There's no particularly new procedures that we are using right now. We think the procedures that we have in place are good -- they work," he told reporters at the Pentagon by videolink from Bagram Air Base near Kabul.

"We have to rely on training, we have to rely on the experience of our leaders out there to make the right decisions on the scene," said Votel, who is NATO's deputy commander in eastern Afghanistan and also has a senior coalition role.

He said many civilian casualties were caused because Taliban insurgents launched attacks in populated areas and used ordinary Afghans and their homes as cover.

The pressure will be too much eventually. At least for a while.

UPDATE: NATO counter-attacks:

"Let me make one point unmistakably clear -- NATO has never killed and will never intentionally kill innocent civilians," de Hoop Scheffer said in an address to the Euro-Atlantic Partnership Council (EAPC) security forum. ...

"The majority of civilian casualties in Afghanistan have been caused by Taliban suicide bombs and roadside bombs," the NATO chief told the meeting of some 600 delegates.

"They, our opponents, show absolutely no hesitation to slaughter or maim the Afghan people with their indiscriminate attacks -- they even take their wives and children with them on suicide missions to reduce the chances of them being caught."

The pressure is not yet too great. So the Taliban will continue to be slaughtered even if they shelter behind civilians. For now. The enemy will keep trying to compel us to exercise enough restraint to provide the Taliban with freedom of movement.

Army Tours

The news of late (tip to Stand! To) has discussed whether the Army will extend tours again to maintain the surge into 2008:

The Army is considering whether it will have to extend the combat tours of troops in Iraq if President Bush opts to maintain the recent buildup of forces through spring 2008.
It is unclear of this means 15-month tours for new units going or tours longer than 15 months. The latter is implied, but that makes no sense to me. It makes far more sense to speak of continuing the extension into next year if we intend to maintain the surge level of troops.

To maintain 20 combat brigades in Iraq and 2 in Afghanistan while making sure troops have a year off between deployments would require 51 brigades (44 x 1.15 to allow for overlap). We have 38 combat brigades in the active Army and 9 active Marine regimental combat teams or equivalents. Subtract one Army brigade in South Korea and subtract 3 Marine regiments to keep a source for rotating 2-3 MEUs for deployment. So we have 43 brigades available.

This isn't enough, which is why the Army extended all tours to 15 months. This gives us the equivalent of 52 brigades (46 Army brigade-yearly-equivalents: 37 Army brigades x 1.25 years of duty, plus 6 Marine regiments). We can barely maintain our current effort with the current extensions. We are adding ten more Army brigades through 2012. And the Marines will get bigger, too. But these won't change the calculations too much in the short term. We could probably add another brigade or two for next year.

The total doesn't include National Guard brigades or reserve Marine regiments. It is not unreasonable to include 4-6 ARNG brigades or reserve Marine regiments each year to help relieve stress on the active component.

Secretary Gates doesn't think this new extension will happen, calling it simply a "worst case" scenario. And DOD minimizes the chances, as well.

The only way we'd need to revise this is if we are involved in combat with Iran or North Korea.

Of course, if the general who made these comments was assuming this ...

Convenient Folly

I don't know why the jihadis are still stupid enough to mass when they move about in Afghanistan. The experience of last year and this spring should have disabused the jihadis of the notion that there is safety in numbers:

NATO and U.S.-led coalition forces killed about 60 insurgents along the border with Pakistan in what was described as the largest insurgent formation crossing the border region in six months, NATO said Saturday.

Sure, if the enemy wants to actually overrun a district, such numbers are needed. But haven't the past destruction of large groups taught even the enemy a lesson here?

As long as the enemy is willing to mass, I hope we will always be willing to kill every last one we can find.


The Iranians have been cracking down on dissidents far more harshly than in past years. And it isn't just arrests:

But the crackdown goes beyond the justice system. Books are more closely censored these days and newspaper editors are being told how to cover issues ranging from nuclear negotiations to local crime control.

"This is completely new and there hasn't been such a thing before," said Mashaallah Shamsolvaezin, head of Iran's Association for Defense of Freedom of the Press.

The annual spring enforcement of Islamic dress codes in Tehran was stricter this year, spawning hundreds of arrests. Amnesty International says executions went from 94 in 2005 to 177 last year. Iran says none of the executions were political and many of those executed were drug traffickers caught in operations to halt opium and heroin smuggling from Afghanistan.

At least 33 women have been arrested in recent months at rallies seeking change on issues such as legalized polygamy, child custody and a marriage age of 13, said Nasrin Sotoudeh, a lawyer for some of the women. About a third received suspended prison terms of several years.

Even the smoking of water-pipes in teashops, a beloved tradition, has been banned, officially for health reasons.

Campus poetry nights have been canceled, along with commemorations of past student uprisings. Bus drivers and other workers have been fired and arrested for union organizing, and nearly 300 teachers were arrested after demanding higher pay.
My question is whether the regime is flailing at imaginary enemies and is therefore creating more enemies, or whether the mullahs are reacting to actual efforts on our part to stoke opposition to the regime.

I'm hoping it is the latter since I am not confident that we have the time to let the former explanation play out and solve our mullah problem for us.

Which relates to this news:

Key U.S. allies are debating the idea of a nuclear compromise with Iran that would call for only a partial freeze of Tehran's uranium enrichment program — a stance that could put them at odds with Washington, officials said Friday.
Are our allies really trying to surrender to the Iranian mullahs? Or have the Europeans agreed to pretend to seek retreat on the eve of an American effort backed by Europe to overthrow the Iranian regime?

I wish we had the time to let nature takes its course and spark a popular revolt against the mullahs. And if nukes potentially in mullah hands weren't in the mix, I'd be happy to let this path play out for decades. But I have no confidence that Iran is a decade away from nuclear weapons. I'd feel much better if we could take down the mullah regime soon.

I fear the Europeans are willing to surrender. Anything short of a complete halt to enrichment will leave us in the far more difficult position of proving that any Iranian enrichment we discover is above what Iran has agreed to. If there is a complete ban, discovering any enrichment proves Iran's violation.

Or am I being naive that Europe has any type of a spine?

The Accidental Crusaders

I have to admit, when I first heard that the British had knighted Salman Rushdie, I thought it was a gutsy move under the circumstances.

But it was completely inadvertent, it appears. The committee was stunned when the usual death threats were issued by the usual mobs:

The committee that recommended Salman Rushdie for a knighthood did not discuss any possible political ramifications and never imagined that the award would provoke the furious response that it has done in parts of the Muslim world, the Guardian has learnt.

It also emerged yesterday that the writers' organisation that led the lobbying for the author of Midnight's Children and The Satanic Verses to be knighted had originally hoped that the honour would lead to better relations between Britain and Asia.

This is just astounding. They thought this was a compliment! No wonder much of the world is troubled by our war on Islamo-fascism. They truly have no clue about what we are fighting. None at all.

In the age of instant news via the Internet, there is no excuse for not knowing. Do they not recall this little misunderstanding that got the Religion of the Easily Offended in a head-lopping frenzy?

Not wanting to know is another reason altogether that doesn't depend on whether you are getting your news from the web or the slow boat from China. And this is the real problem, of course. Despite ample evidence, there are plenty of people who are as deluded as this committee about the nature of the Islamo-fascists.

It is pretty funny, actually. In an effort to hand their sword to the enemy in surrender, the committee pretty much tripped and stabbed their jihadi friend. Of course you realize, that this means war!

That they tripped is no shock, naturally. I mean, depth perception suffers when your heads are so far up your collective--oh never mind.

Friday, June 22, 2007

Listen Up, Ya Chowder Heads

I can almost hear the frustration in this American colonel's voice when reading his reply to a reporter's question about the Taliban announcing that they'd "overrun" some district in Afghanistan. The press reported this event without much questioning at first. Then asked the colonel about the event:

Okay, this is Colonel Schweitzer. Again, just as I spoke with y'all last time when we talked back in April, if this is the spring offensive, things are going to be just fine. You know, when you guys hear that there is a district center that was overtaken, what you need to understand is if there is a district center that is overrun -- is the term that we keep hearing -- that's not really what happened. If the Taliban uses an IO campaign as part of their strategy to get ANP or other folks to go ahead and move out of the AO while they come in for about an hour or two, they'll set a room on fire, and then as soon as the ANP or ANA come back in force, or coalition with ANA come
back in force, the Taliban immediately pull out of the district center.

I mean, I remember when we were talking about this last time, the Giro district center was attacked, and so there was this impression that the Taliban had attacked with 2(00) or 300 people. And the reality of it was -- in our assessment was about 12 people that attacked the Giro district center back in April, caused the ANP to leave, and then within about two hours, they were kicked out and the ANP had restored confidence and credibility within that particular district center.

It's interesting to note with the Taliban what they are targeting. Right now they are targeting the ANP and the population. They don't dare touch the ANA, because they'll get whacked. And so when they do attempt -- when they do fight the ANA, they're not around to fight another day. And so they have figured that out. They know they can't really attack the coalition, they know they can't attack the ANA, so now they're trying to attack the ANP, which is a developing organization trying to, you know, to continue to win an IO campaign. And what they've always got out there are the innocents in the population when they apply their suicide bombings and their different techniques to try to get their IO message across that they've actually gained control. Frankly, they control nothing in Afghanistan, not for anything more than an hour.

The Taliban didn't really overrun any districts. I hope the colonel spoke slowly enough and used small enough words to convey this difficult concept to the press.

Really, the press buys what the enemy is selling very easily. Almost makes you wonder why!

Maybe we should look into establishing journalism schools to train these lads and lassies.

Hang On to Those Incandescent Bulbs

Mother nature may solve our global warming problem (tip to Instapundit) that so many are in a self-righteous panic over:

Solar scientists predict that, by 2020, the sun will be starting into its weakest Schwabe solar cycle of the past two centuries, likely leading to unusually cool conditions on Earth. Beginning to plan for adaptation to such a cool period, one which may continue well beyond one 11-year cycle, as did the Little Ice Age, should be a priority for governments.

I don't know why it is considered heresy to think that the big hot thing up in the sky might have something to do with how hot our planet is.

What do I know? I'm one of the few people in the West not wetting my pants over the fate of the planet. I don't even recycle.

Maybe we should have a cage match no-holds-barred contest between the Weather Channel staff and the solar scientists to resolve the issue.

Two Front War

Our military is doing well in the fight against the enemy in Iraq. The latest offensive aims to wipe out al Qaeda jihadis rather than push them out of an objective. The fight in Baquba is meant to be a fight to their death:

"It is house to house, block to block, street to street, sewer to sewer," said Brigadier-General Mick Bednarek, commander of Operation Arrowhead Ripper in Iraq's Diyala province. ...

Bednarek estimated several hundred al Qaeda militants were at Baquba and it
would be a long and dangerous job for U.S. forces to flush them out.

"They will not go any further. They will fight to the death," Bednarek
told Reuters and another news agency.

Yet remember that the military component of a counter-insurgency is a small albiet crucial component of the fight. While the military front has seen excellent advances this year, the political front is another matter. This front is stalled:

It may be premature to speak of political paralysis. But the fact is that the Maliki government has been unable to pass key items of its program. Crucial bills on the oil industry and the distribution of oil revenues remain bogged down in parliamentary committees. Also unresolved are such explosive problems as the status of Kirkuk (a city disputed between the Kurds and Sunni Arabs) and the creation of new federal entities.

The government's weakness also prevents it from setting a date and rules for the municipal elections needed to create local government units to end de facto control by militias in many parts of the country.
We need to make sure the Iraqis advance on this front. That doesn't mean we abandon them to their fate if they are too slow. But remember that the Iraqis need to vote on this stuff. We should not be in a hurry to throw democracy overboard just because their democracy is not meeting our timetables.

But this is a problem. No doubt.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

The First Offshore Base

I thought that our interests in the Gulf of Guinea, where we actually import oil from, justifies a military presence. A mobile offshore base (MOB) would be appropriate, I thought.

My Jane's email updates reports that we are doing this:

The US Navy plans to send an amphibious ship to the Gulf of Guinea as a 'floating school house' for regional navies as a pathfinder effort to establish a lasting maritime presence off the western coast of Africa. The deployment - which will run from the third quarter of 2007 until mid-2008 - overlaps with the creation of US African Command (AFRICOM)[.]

This doesn't offer anywhere near the capabilities of a formal MOB, but it is a start.

UPDATE: A timely press conference on AFRICOM included this answer:

AFRICOM is not designed to result in any new troops on the continent, and it's not designed to result in any new basing structure. Rather, it is a way to organize our efforts.

This approach doesn't address the fact that bases really are needed to project power. But if not on the continent, off of the continent will work. Especially since local militaries (should any be hostile) don't have the same capabilities for hitting ships at sea as is found in other areas. Mobile offshore bases could be just the ticket for nearby bases to project forces for humanitarian or other purposes. One purpose would be to host rapid reaction forces nearby to help protect AFRICOM headquarters located in African countries. And such bases maintain a forward presence for military-to-military contacts.

We might very well use a number of these types of bases from West Africa, south around the Cape, and north to the Horn region. Being mobile would help react to developing crises, too.

Back in the Game

Ralph Peters is certainly back in the game of writing about how to win in Iraq. After the fall elections he lost heart for a bit (as I note here). I welcome his voice, though (and sometimes because) he is a bomb thrower. He makes a common charge, however, that I wish was not repeated:

The second, enduring question is whether the Iraqis will finally knock off their squabbling and shoulder their share of the burden. Petraeus is giving us a lesson in skillful generalship, employing U.S. troops where he must, Iraqis where he can. But, in the end, we can't win this unless the Iraqis win it for themselves. Pious statements about "brave Iraqis" only get us so far: We're still only buying time - and no one can pretend that time isn't running out.
He is right that we are buying time and that the Iraqis must be able to win this war without our current level of help. The Iraqis must get better at fighting and governing.

But to say that Iraqis are not shouldering their share of the burden is outrageous when you consider that Iraqi security casualties are two or three times our level, and Iraq has a population of less than 10% of ours. Let there be no doubt that they are carrying the burden. And this doesn't even count the civilian victims of terrorist violence.

And like I said, I'm glad Peters is working the problem again.

Why He Wins "Human Rights" Awards

Mad Minerva emailed me to note former President Carter's latest ravings about the recent Gaza fight--The Five Day War? (Darn her to heck for this, since I usually manage to ignore our national embarassment.).

So this caught my attention. (Tip to Real Clear Politics)

President Carter's statement bordered on insane? Please, he crossed that boundary on a Visa Express program long ago.

Sometimes it is difficult to remember he was once an American president. No wonder the international Left loves this man. They can have him.

UPDATE: Iran heartily agrees with President Carter. Apparently, even his fans at the event where he spoke those words were a little uncomfortable with Carter's enthusiasm for Hamas.

So What Were We Arguing About Anyway?

Engram looks at the folly of a conviction that was pursued despite the knowledge that there was no actual crime involved. Hitchens summarizes it nicely (though even Cohen chips in):

With the sentencing of I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby, Fitzgerald has apparently finished his work, which was, not to put too fine a point on it, to make a mountain out of a molehill. At the urging of the liberal press (especially the New York Times), he was appointed to look into a run-of-the-mill leak and wound up prosecuting not the leaker -- Richard Armitage of the State Department -- but Libby, convicted in the end of lying....

As Fitzgerald worked his wonders, threatening jail and going after government gossips with splendid pluck, many opponents of the Iraq war cheered. They thought -- if "thought" can be used in this context -- that if the thread was pulled on who had leaked the identity of Valerie Plame to Robert D. Novak, the effort to snooker an entire nation into war would unravel and this would show . . . who knows? Something. For some odd reason, the same people who were so appalled about government snooping, the USA Patriot Act and other such threats to civil liberties cheered as the special prosecutor weed-whacked the press, jailed a reporter and now will send a previously obscure government official to prison for 30 months.

Opponents of the Iraq War needed a scalp and convinced themselves that Libby was just the beginning of a cascade of prosecutions that would end with Dick Cheney being frog-marched out of his office. That did not happen, of course. But they got Libby while trampling many of their ideas of freedom of the press in their zeal to start those dominos tumbling.

And here we are, years later, and the only question I wanted answered in the whole Affaire La Plame has gone unanswered.

Encouraging the Enemy

We are apparently going to close the Guantanamo Bay prison for enemy jihadis:
Senior administration officials said Thursday a consensus is building for a proposal to shut the center and transfer detainees to one or more Defense Department facilities, including the maximum-security military prison at Fort Leavenworth, Kan., where they could face trial.

This is so stupid that I can't believe it. Who will be placated? Who will stop hyper-ventilating over rice pilaf served at room temperature or whatever imagined crimes are taking place there?

Nobody. That's who. The psychotic international human rights community will assume this is an admission of guilt and they will press their lawfare to our shores to free the lil' darlings from captivity. The idiots over here who think this is a new gulag will want more victories.

Good grief, is President Bush trying to alienate every last supporter he still has? If Congress wants to vote to close Gitmo, make them vote on it! Don't give them a free hand to deny any responsibility if something bad happens as a result. Don't free them of the need to take some damn responsibility for this war. Veto the thing. Make them override it. Don't just roll over to these idiots!

Tell the effing weasels who want this prison closed to go take a hike along the Pakistan border and put their trust for their safety in the hands of the thugs roaming around out there.

Strap Them In

You always hear that you should buckle your children in car seats that are properly installed. There are public service announcements all the time about this.

This evening I saw a little girl, no more than two years old I think, who is lucky her mom strapped her in properly to a car seat installed securely in the family mini-van.

Near Chelsea on I-94 today at about 6:10, near the old US 12 exit, I was driving along east-bound wondering if I would make it to the Ann Arbor train station in time to pick up Mister, Lamb, and their mom coming back from a short vacation. I was listening to the radio and not paying too much attention.

Brake lights lit up in front of me, so I started to slow down, starting to wonder what was up. Before I could think too much about that, I could see a huge cloud of dust billow up on the left shoulder. About 100 yards in front of me or so, there was an accident. I drove through the spot of the accident and could see a mini-van on its roof facing east on the left shoulder. For just a moment I wondered about making it to the train station. But I quickly pulled off to the right shoulder, shut down my car, and ran back to the vehicle.

I thought I was fast but there were already people there. Several people were already around the driver, a woman who was conscious and talking. I could see a little blood. I hear somebody say that he was a fireman and a number of people were aware enough to say don't move her. I wasn't needed right there.

A man pulled out his cell phone and he asked me if I knew what exit we were near. After saying no, I looked around and saw the closest exit and yelled over to him that we were by the Old US 12 exit.

That's when I heard someone say that there was a child still in the back of the vehicle. So three of us started pulling on the various doors. I tried the back hatch and it wouldn't budge. One man went to the right and I went to the left. At the left another man was already there but he couldn't get the door open. I grabbed the handle and reached up to release the latch and it opened cleanly. I think maybe the fact that the car was upside down threw the first man off. So I dove in the door looking for the child, crawling toward the back. Then I saw her. She was just a little blonde girl, scared and crying but just dangling there safe in the car seat. The other man who made it inside the car was already getting his hands on her. So I told her, "don't worry sweetie, you're going to be ok. It's ok." I just grabbed the car seat to steady it and make sure that it didn't fall on top of her in case the other man had released the whole seat from the car instead of just the strap holding the little girl in.

The other man pulled her out and I looked around to see if there could possibly be somebody else back there. But she was the only one. When I crawled out somebody else asked me if anybody else was in there. I said, "no." But then I crawled back in to double check. The thought that I could have missed somebody and just said nobody is in there ate at me in the instant I said "no."

The man who pulled the little girl out handed her to a woman who had stopped and she was holding her. The little girl was crying for her mommy. I remembered seeing her sippy cup so went in the back again to get it, hoping a familiar sight would help. She still cried and pointed to the car a couple times. I crouched next to her and asked her for her name. The woman holding her told me. Funny, I can't remember it now. I think it began with an "A". One of those names that is close to a standard name but not quite. I think I told her that she had a pretty name. I told her she was going to be ok and that people were helping her mom right now. I said she was very brave and that more people were coming very fast to help her mom and to help her. That seemed to help. When the sirens could be heard, I told her that those sirens meant people were coming to help. The woman holding the little child picked up on this theme and kept talking to her.

I stood up and looked around. The first officer who had checked on the scene was directing traffic away from the accident. When the first emergency vehicle came up, I waved to them and ran over to tell the personnel getting out that there was one woman injured and her little daughter who appeared uninjured. One asked me if she had been in a child seat and I said, "Yeah, she was dangling upside down in it, but she seemed ok." I did the same when the next emergency vehicle approached and parked.

By then, not many minutes after the accident occurred, the emergency personnel were putting the driver on a stretcher to take her away and getting the little girl's car seat from the wreck and telling her she would go with her mommy.

I walked over to the officer from the Chelsea Police Department to see if he needed anything. That's when I found out the driver had been in the west-bound lane. I had heard one of the people who clustered around the driver tending to her say she said someone cut her off. Then I could see the ruts from the west-bound land leading to the accident site. One man told the officer that he'd been 200 yards behind the driver when he saw her go off the road. The rest of us just saw clouds of dust. Hopefully, before I wandered over, someone else gave a description of the vehicle that cut her off. The officer must have gotten some information since he took contact information from several of the people there. I didn't see anything of use but the inside of the vehicle and I told the emergency people that information. So when the officer said one guy was free to go, the rest of us wandered off too.

I ran back across the freeway in a gap in the traffic and pulled out while a semi slowed down traffic enough for me to pull into the lane. I then checked my various pockets to make sure nothing had fallen out. Everything was there. And it was then that I realized that I had never even taken off my sunglasses. At the time that struck me as odd. I didn't even notice they were on, actually. I don't think more than twenty or twenty-five minutes had elapsed though it seemed like just a moment, really. I emerged with dirty hands and knees and a small cut on my finger tip. Maybe from glass or maybe from tugging on door handles.

The whole scene impressed me. When that accident took place, at least a half dozen people immediately stopped and ran to the scene to help a stranger. When somebody said a child was in the back, three of us rushed over to the vehicle to get the child out. I didn't even stop to think about how old the child was, boy or girl, or whether they might be horribly injured. I momentarily thought that if the vehicle caught fire and that child couldn't get out?  Well it didn't bear thinking about.

The emergency people showed up fast and worked professionally and quickly. That I expect. What really impressed me was the group of civilians who just started doing things. Nobody was directing people. Nobody took charge. But people looked around to see what needed to be done and just started doing something. And this was good enough to work until the pros arrived.

In a very small way, I could see how firemen run into burning buildings. Or up the stairs of the World Trade Center . People just see that somebody needs help and react. Like I said, I'm not comparing what I and a number of strangers did to what happened on 9/11. I'm not. This was a traffic accident. There were no flames. Like I said, it was just a faint hint of the courage that leads people to risk their lives for strangers.

But it is a strength that I think makes us a special people. We didn't wait around for professionals to arrive. Nobody hesitated at all. And at the risk of sounding sexist, that's what men are supposed to do.

And I have to say I commend the mother for strapping her little girl into that seat securely and having the foresight to secure that car seat in the back. When that horrible moment of a car cutting her off happened, forcing her from the road, with her vehicle flipped on its roof as a result, that little girl was shaken and hanging upside down, but with her head safely away from the ceiling below her. And now that I think about it, I think the car was centered in the back so the rolling wouldn�t have battered the child against the side windows. I could be mistaken about that. Honestly, much is a blur and I might have gotten the order of some events a little off. Was the vehicle dark blue? I think so.

And to my niece who just had a beautiful little girl on the Army's birthday (yes, that's how I'll remember Very's birthday), you and Very's dad better make sure that little girl is strapped into a car seat properly installed every time you pull out of the driveway. All I saw today was a scared little girl hanging upside down in a wreck, but safe and sound. A much more gruesome scene could have been in that vehicle.

Strap your little ones in. You never can tell when some idiot will be driving near you.