The Warrior Scholar

This is a blog about current events - a way to provide a constructive outlet for some of the thoughts I have on the issues of the day. It's also a way to generate some discussion and to get my ideas out into the world. Enjoy!

Location: Alexandria, Virginia, United States

I'm a doctoral candidate in Virginia, with a love of history and politics. My dog is a great companion, and my family always keeps me in good spirits.

Monday, December 11, 2006

Strategic Aims in the GWOT and the ISG

Let's look at this strategically and see how the ISG addressed the strategic goals of the GWOT.

US Strategic Goals: Defeat Al-Quida and establish conditions to prevent further attacks on the US.
1. Defeat Al Quida in Afghanistan by overthrowing the Taliban and destroying their bases.
2. Overthrow Saddam Hussein and eliminate terrorist safe havens in Iraq; win the low intesity war fought against US since 1998.
3. Defeat Al Quida globally by working with allies to roll up Islamic terrorist cells.
4. Implement long-term solution by addressing root causes of conflict. Establish democracies in Afghanistan and Iraq and later spread freedom and economic prosperity throughout the Middle East.

Bin Ladin's/Al Quida Strategic Goals
1. Stay alive.
2. Remove US power from the Middle East: sets conditions for goals 3 & 4.
3. Overthrow existing Sunni-led Arab governments
4. Establish a totalitarian Islamic Caliphate to retake the Middle East, Balkans, and Spain.

Saddam Hussein's Strategic Goals
1. Stay in power.
2. Remove US power from the Middle East: sets conditions for goal 3.
3. Overthrow neighbors to establish a Nazi-inspired Sunni Baathist totalitarian empire.

Ahmadinejad's/Iranian Strategic Goals
1. Stay in power.
2. Remove US power from the Middle East: sets conditions for goals 3 & 4.
3. Overthrow existing Sunni-led Middle Eastern governments.
4. Establish Shia authoritarian theocracy over the Shia dominated lands in the Middle East and regain primacy in the Middle East.

Now that we have the strategic goals of the major players - how are we doing?
US: First three achieved and working on goal 4. Went on the strategic offensive and overthrew the Taliban and Saddam. Established democracies in Afghanistan and Iraq. US and allied governments currently fighting to consolidate gains made to date. Rolled up terror cells worldwide. No successful attacks against US mainland in five years and kept economy strong.

Al Quida: Leadership has been decimated and is now in hiding. No successful attacks against the US mainland in five years. Has lost its bases in Afghanistan. Failed to get the US out of the Middle East, overthrow any Sunni regimes, or establish a Caliphate. Very poor support from the "Arab street." Has been able to continue to claim it is a player by simple survival and a very effective propaganda campaign. Hard to claim victory from a cave.

Saddam: Completely failed. Made arguably the worst intelligence failure by misreading the US.

Iran: Has failed to push the US from the region. Pursuing nuclear weapons because its support of the Shia insurgency in the south and support of Sunni insurgency in the west (with Syria’s support) isn't doing the job. Iranian pursuit of nuclear weapons has spooked its Sunni Arab neighbors to begin nuclear programs.

Now that we have reviewed the strategic objectives of each of the main players, why would the ISG want to give our enemies everything they want and snatch defeat from the jaws of US strategic victory?

Sunday, February 13, 2005

Easton Jordan and professionalism in journalism

I have been up to my eardrums in writing lately, so I haven't kept up to date too much on my blog. However, the whole Easton Jordan issue troubles me. That the head of the formerly "most trusted name in news" can continue to destroy CNN's credibility is astonishing.

I wrote the following to Rantingprofs in response to her concerns about Jordan resigning...

"I think this is a case of "speaking truth to power" - the power of the unelected Forth Estate - i.e. CNN. If someone is in a business for 23 years, and resigns before the evidence is publicly revealed, then actions definitely speak louder than the (unreleased) words. While one might complain that the evidence has not been made public (therefore leading to the blog-lynch mob defense), Jordan acted like there was a need for a cover-up. In a business where your credibility is based on the perception of being trustworthy, then this behavior is just simply unacceptable.

Jordan damaged both his credibility, and CNN's credibly by admitting that his network collaborated with Saddam's regime and hid its murderous activities for the sake of access for a dozen years. Then, Jordan again damaged his personal and professional credibility by making unsubstantiated claims as to what the US military was doing in Iraq. If the US military was deliberately targeting journalists, than that should have been revealed and publicized. Last time I looked, by Jordan’s assertion, the insurgents killed at least 48 journalists, and the coalition killed at most 12. And the story is...the US killing journalists, or the insurgents deliberately targeting journalists? Jordan implied, if not asserted, that it is US policy to target journalists, and not that the journalist’s deaths were mistakes in the heat of battle. If the killing of journalists was a Coalition policy decision, then how many journalists have been killed or kidnapped by US forces while embedded with them? If Jordan has these facts, then he should have presented them. There is no need for him to back up, no need to clarify. He was supposed to run a news organization, and should have had those facts available. It is clear that the targeting of journalists is not a policy of the Coalition forces. If it was, then they are incompetent for having let so many journalists live.

Jordan had to resign for making CNN untrustworthy. The fact that the mainstream media did not police its own is another story in itself. I was at a media panel a couple weeks ago and posed the question about the ethics of CNN and its Iraq cover-up (this was pre-Davos remarks), and the journalists on the panel were unanimous that CNN under Jordan significantly damaged the whole of the journalistic profession’s credibility. I couldn’t agree more. That the blogophere exercised its First Amendment rights to expose the misdeeds of a powerful shaper of public opinion should not be a cause of concern, but a powerful statement that the standards for responsible reporting must be upheld."

I hope that this encourages the media to report in a more "fair and balanced" manner - I don't want it to be liberal or conservative, right-wing or left-wing. I want journalists to write the truth so the American people can be an informed electorate so they can make decisions for themselves.

Wednesday, December 15, 2004

I'm back!

Hey there - after a few pretty entertaining weeks (the flu, finals, travel, etc.), I thought it would be nice to write a few words. Thanks to Chrenkoff for my very first crosslink! He puts together a great site.

So what has occurred lately? The re-election of President Bush, the election of President Karazai in Afghanistan, the re-election of Prime Minister John Howard of Australia, the death of much good news! The American, UK, Australian, and Japanese economies are doing quite well (growing at 2.5%-4% and unemployment less than 5.5%)....too bad the German, French, Canadian, and the rest of the "anti-Iraq" coalition's rate of growth in their GDP is less than 2% and their unemployment is between 7.2-9.8%. Sounds like the "Coalition of the broke and unemployed" rather than the virtuous!

What else is going on? Let's see...

News flash! Syrians actually like George Bush! "The same ideas came up again and again: he is a strong leader, an honest man, and, most of all, a believer. Like the winning margin of American voters this year, these Middle Easterners related to Bush's sense of religious conviction and his confident steering of a nation and culture they admired." (hat tip to Dissecting Leftism)

The Econopundit renewed my faith in the economy by letting me know that our household wealth is increasing. David Malpass opines... "On December 9, the U.S. Federal Reserve released its flow of funds figures for the third quarter. They showed an $804 billion increase in household assets to $57.0 trillion, another all-time high, more than offsetting a $259 billion increase in household debt. Consequently, household net worth increased $546 billion to a new record high of $46.7 trillion." It really IS the economy!

Powerline provides a bit of insight on the latest "failure" in the ballistic missile defense system that the United States has quietly put into operation over the past few months. Anti-missile missiles are now active in both Alaska and California to provide a basic, emergency level of defense for the nation as testing continues.

Austin Bay on StrategyPage does a great job talking about the upcoming Arab revolt in January. The point is that the revolt of the moderates and the democrats against an Arab past of totalitarianism and political repression is beginning...first in Palestine on January 9, and in Iraq on the 30th. It is interesting that elections in the Middle East are happening in areas occupied by democracies....and in lands where Arab authoritarian regimes have not been challanged, the people continue to wait for their voice to be heard. Interesting comparison...

Belmont Club also addresses this issue - and makes the claim that democracy and liberalism will literally be the agent of destruction for Arab/Persian Islamic regimes. Worth a read...

Instapundit got me going with the "shocking photo" that came out of Iraq - I hope the MSM runs with this one!

Davids Medienkritik is a great barometer of the German media. Sometimes I get distressed that the Euro/German media is too far gone for any kind of responsible reporting - they make CBS look absolutely rightist and factual. Medienkritik has a nice post today on Jeffrey Gedmin's interview that addresses German double-standards, bias, and the problems that we will face in trying to "bridge the gap" over the Atlantic.

Just some of the thoughts on the day!

Thursday, November 25, 2004

Happy Thanksgiving

Happy Thanksgiving to all this season! There are many things I am thankful for: for a wonderful family, for good friends, for a land that is peaceful and prosperous. I give thanks for a Lord that is both loving and full of grace. I give thanks for the millions of Americans that give of their lives for the greater good, whether they are defending democracy against tyrants and terrorists overseas, or caring for the poor and needy here at home. I give thanks that we live in a land where "Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness" can all take place, and that hundreds of millions of people have decided that being an American is the best nationality to be, because we can make a difference. Most of all, I give thanks that I have been blessed to live in such times. To all those that make it possible for the rest of us to live in safety and prosperity, I say thanks to you.

Wednesday, November 24, 2004

Stealing the Election the Old Fashioned Way in the Ukraine

The Ukraine is now in the throes of a real election scandal, perpetrated at the highest of levels. The Belmont Club has some excellent analysis on it. The Moscow backed Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovych has been declared the "winner" after some serious voter fraud. Vladimir Putin was pushing for Yanukovych to basically cement the Ukraine becoming a vassal state of Russia. Viktor Yushchenko was the opposition candidate, and appears to have had overwhelming support by the people leading up to the election.

So why does this matter? Putin has become much more authoritarian over the last three years, culminating in his decision (which was rubber stamped by the Duma) to no longer allow the Russian provinces to elect their own governors - they are now directly appointed by Putin. The rough correlation to what is going on the Ukraine now is what happened in Eastern Europe after WWII, when Stalin installed Communist governments through fraudulent elections. I guess if you have a winning method, stick with it! There have been charges of widespread ballot box stuffing and other illegal actions. The Ukraine has a large ethnically Russian population (about 40%), and Russia has been pretty invasive in dealing with the countries that used to be part of the Soviet Union in their desire to protect the Russian minorities. I find it disturbing that not only are the Ukrainian paramilitary forces out now to "handle" Yushchenko's supporters, but that Russian SPETZNAZ are also in the Ukraine to "help". With friends like this, who needs enemies?

Luckily, both the US and EU have condemned this blatant attempt to steal the election by the Putin-supported candidate. I hope that it is able to be resolved peacefully and that the will of the people is heard in the Ukraine. It is also an interesting contrast to the petty carping here in the US about our election process. The Ukrainians may have to literally fight to make their vote count - we should remember that we are blessed with a fair and democratically elected representative government that actually has checks and balances. It is something that Americans should be proud of.

Thursday, November 11, 2004

A good day

What better day could we have?

Veterans Day - we honor the sacrifices of 25 million Americans that have served their country honorably to defend liberty. Veterans Day commemorates the Armistice of the Great War, which ended on the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month and ended World War I. Now, we have extended the scope of the day to remember all that have served. It is a truism that the United States would not be the "land of the free" if it wasn't the "home of the brave!" Remember those that have given the last full measure of their lives so others may live free...

Fallujah Crushed. Thousands of eternally vigilant defenders of liberty continue to sweep through the Ba'athist and jihadist stronghold, slaying those that murder, rape, and brutalize the innocent. 23 Soldiers, Marines, and Iraqi forces have fallen in a battle that has killed AT LEAST 600 "dead-enders". That number is probably pretty conservative - the real number is probably in the low thousands. Sun Tsu claimed that attacking cities were the last resort because of their difficulty. It appears that the battle-hardened regulars of the American military have turned this maxim on its now the insurgents are massed so it is easier to crush them. The MSM continues to embarrass itself with its incompetent reporting. For competent analysis, look at the Belmont Club. Now, there is no hope for the Ba'athists. The Americans and the new Iraqi government will crush them, and no one will stop us now.

Arafat Dies. A murderer who was a primary obstacle for peace is gone after multiple "deaths" over the past week. This man is a thief, a thug, and a killer, period. That certain "world leaders" would bow to his coffin is incredible. See above posting - Arafat helped pioneer the idea of fighting to beyond the bitter end to impoverish your own people, and then use them as suiciders to continue the slaughter. Maybe with Saddam in jail, and Arafat under a slab, this idea of "resistance" for the illiberal, immoral, and criminal leaders will cease. Hopefully Allah will not have mercy on his soul.

100,000 Casualties in Iraq?

There are some major problems with the validity of the John's Hopkins "research" (Hat tip: Chicago Boyz) claiming that 100,000 Iraqis have died attributable to the coaltion attack on the Ba'athist regime.

First, it states that the majority of the casualties were caused by “air delivered bombs, helicopters, etc from the coalition.” This does not pass the “make sense” test. All of these weapon systems are guided either by GPS or by lasers. This means that the weapon systems that are used are very precise. From personal experience as a trained targeteer, dropping a bomb is a very controlled event, often times with extensive collateral damage calculations run before dropping the ordinance and intelligence revalidated. It is highly unlikely that air delivered weapons were the cause of the alleged casualties. In a counterinsurgency operation (at least from an American perspective), you begin with the least destructive weapons when engaging the enemy, and only graduate to large caliber weapons or bombs when it is clear that the enemy position is too heavily bunkered to defeat with smaller-caliber weapons. Second, the Soldiers and Marines that are in combat now are very experienced and mature vis a vis other militaries. They have an average age of 27 – averaging six to eight years of professional military training and service. This is roughly akin to the level of training for professional athletes. Many have served both in peacekeeping tours in Bosnia and Kosovo (indicating they know how to refrain from excessive use of force) as well as tours in Afghanistan and Iraq. Additionally, the officer corps generally has at least master degrees at the mid to senior levels (some with doctorates), and the senior noncommissioned officer corps mostly has associate or bachelors degrees. This is a highly educated, trained, and combat experienced force not given to creating large amounts of collateral damage. To think so simply does not take into account the facts.

The Soldiers and Marines now in Iraq have the benefit of revised training programs based on lessons learned from the last three years of combat, making their use of force more precise, controlled, and lethal against the jihadists and Ba’athists. Since the fall of Ba’athist regime in Iraq, the use of air-dropped ordinance has been very controlled and has not exceeded a half dozen bombs dropped per day (even during heavy fighting). The limited amount of ordinance used and the controlled manner in which it has been employed indicates that the Johns Hopkins findings are simply not supported by the empirical evidence. In fact, many of the casualties sustained by the insurgents have been at the hands of snipers - a most precise application of force. Evidence of the restraint of the coalition forces can also be seen by the unwillingness of coalition forces to strike insurgents in mosques and hospitals. This restraint, combined with the training and precision of the forces, calls into great question the Johns Hopkins findings.

In contrast, most of the foreign jihadists that have flocked to Iraq have had no military training, and the Ba’athists that control them are primarily remnants of Saddam’s secret police and Republican Guards – not exactly the best trained force out there for force-on-force operations. Note over the past year, the vast majority of deaths reported in Iraq are due to insurgent and terrorist bombings of civilians and attacks on Iraqi government forces, not due to actions of the coalition forces (and even that is not at the 138 deaths/day that the study claims!). When the jihadists and insurgents engage in force-on-force combat, they suffer tremendous casualties. The insurgents have now had at least 15,000 killed (before Fallujah) over the past seventeen months (probably another 50,000 wounded - my estimate), yet when these insurgents are taken to hospitals, they invariably claim they are “civilians”. When al Sadr declared he would no longer maintain his insurgency earlier this year, it was after two thousand of his followers were killed or wounded, and half of his remaining followers had fled for their lives. Of course, the local hospitals declared that all the casualties taken there were “civilians”.

This “academically rigorous” report brings discredit both on the “researchers” and Johns Hopkins. Trained academics are supposed to understand research methods, and be able to account for skew and bias. This group obviously did not. To make claims of mortality based on distorted baselines and poorly chosen variables is the mark of poor research.

Wednesday, November 03, 2004

The Final Result


Monday, November 01, 2004

Allawi preparing to crack down in Fallujah

From the StrategyPage

"November 1, 2004: Iyad Allawi, Iraq's interim Prime Minister, spent the weekend warning Sunni Arab leaders, especially those in Fallujah and Ramadi, to crack down on the political, religious and criminal gangs that operate in their territory. But many of the Sunni Arab tribal and religious leaders would rather see the Sunni Arab minority back in control of the country, either as a secular dictatorship, or a religious one. While the Sunni Arab minority are not willing to accept the authority of the democratic Iraqi government, they are not united on which Sunni Arab faction would run things. The only thing that unites the Sunnis is their use of terror against Iraqis, and foreigners, that they consider enemies. In the last two weeks, government operations in Sunni Arab areas has led to over 3,000 arrests. Among those picked up were nearly 200 foreigners. As a result, the ever more desperate Sunni Arabs have increased their use of terror against government officials and foreigners. But this sort of thing is futile, only looking impressive in the international Arab media, which cheers on the Iraqi Sunnis as if they were freedom fighters, not a bunch of murderous thugs trying to bring back tyranny.
Allawi doesn't want to go to war with the Sunni Arabs, but it looks like he will have no choice. No one in the Sunni Arab community can control the Sunni gunmen and terrorists. These thugs have perpetrated a bloody terror campaign against the Iraqi people that won't end until the Sunni Arab areas are swept clean of the gangs. But that will mean a lot of bombs and street fighting. Allawi also knows it will mean a lot of dead Sunnis, and angry kinsmen. Allawi would prefer to avoid long term problems with the Sunnis, but the Sunnis don't seem to care."

Hard times demand hard measures. I wouldn't be hanging out in Fallujah this weekend...

John Kerry's "Honorable" Discharge

From the New York Sun. I think I need to be reminded how Kerry got an honorable discharge after President Carter issued the executive order that expunged negative discharges from service members for campaigning against the war in Vietnam. What is even more interesting is that Kerry has never fully released his military records to the public, while claiming that he has. The MSM continues to distinguish itself by covering for Kerry by spiking the story that he hasn't released his military records while running for Commander-In-Chief. Thanks Pajama Journal. Overall hat tip to the Instapundit.

Chemical Weapons in Iraq?

I didn't think there were any WMD in Iraq - but the Ba'athist and Al Quida insurgents in Fallujah seem to think they have some to use on the US Marines. Courtesy of the UK TimesOnline. Lets just say that if this is true, the insurgents will face a fury that they have never before see - and critics of the war in Iraq will have much explaining to do...

Tora Bora a Failure? Kerry doesn't think so...which is why Osama now pitches for Kerry

Kerry has been claiming that the United States let Bin Ladin go by "outsourcing" our operations in Afghanistan. Isn't that what he wants - for local leaders and other nations to take the lead? Here's some interesting posts on this....

Tora Bora Failure? From Belgravia Dispatch

Outsourcing the operation in Afghanistan? From Quado

Bin Ladin supporting Kerry? Or just against Bush? From MEMRI

Osama delivers threat to the "Red" States ONLY. From CaptainsQuarters

From the Diplomads

Here's what some of our Foreign Service people have to say about how the election is being viewed overseas...

Sunday, October 24, 2004

Al Quida and Democrats for Kerry

Just in case you were concerned about who's voting this year, courtesy of The Columbus Dispatch.

"Accused terrorists Nuradin Abdi, 32, and Iyman Faris, 35, are registered to vote in Ohio. An indictment unsealed in U.S. District Court in June said Somali immigrant Abdi and admitted al-Qaida member Faris plotted with a third Columbus man to attack a mall.
Fred Alverson, a spokesman for the U.S. Justice Department, said Abdi's false registration may violate state and federal law. In fact, the application he signed swearing he is a U.S. citizen notes that election falsification is punishable by up to six months in prison, a fine of $1,000 or both.
Faris, a Columbus truck driver, is serving a 20-year sentence after admitting that he scouted the Brooklyn Bridge in New York and other potential targets for al-Qaida as recently as March 2003. As an incarcerated felon, he will not be allowed to vote. Faris, from Kashmir, became a naturalized citizen in 1999."

And who signed them up? The Democratic-supported "civil rights" group ACORN. I hope this is not what Kerry was claiming when he said he wanted to fight a more "sensitive" war on terror. Since notable civil rights leaders such as Kim Jong Il of North Korea, Muktawa al-Sadr of the Mahdi Army of Iraq, Zarakawi of the Iraqi branch of Al Quida, and the humanitarian members of the European Left who have called for the assassination of President Bush all seem to agree that Kerry should be the next president, I think it is notable to note the company that his supporters are keeping.

Wednesday, October 20, 2004

The difference between air power and land power

T. R. Fehrenbach, in "This Kind of War." "You may fly over a land forever; you may bomb it, atomize it, pulverize it and wipe it clean of life. But if you desire to defend it, protect it, and keep it for civilization, you must do this on the ground, the way the Roman legions did, by putting your young men into the mud."

Bottom line: If a nation wants to really make a difference, they have to be there on the ground to make that difference.

The Spanish call a truce with Al Quida...but Al Quida doesn't repay the favor

The Washington Times has an interesting article on a massive suicide bombing averted in Madrid.

"MADRID, Spain (AP) -- A Muslim militant schemed to punish Spain with the "biggest blow of its history" - a half-ton suicide truck bombing of the National Court aimed at killing judges investigating Islamic terror, including the Madrid train attacks, said a police intelligence report obtained Wednesday by The Associated Press."

Remember - Spain was hit by an Al Quida attack three days before its national election, the Socialists took over, and pulled Spanish troops out of Iraq.

"In a videotape recovered two days after the March 11 attacks, a masked militant claiming to speak for an al-Qaida group said the bombs had been in revenge for Spain's presence in Iraq and Afghanistan. Conservatives who backed the Iraq war lost Spain's general election the next day.
On March 18, a group named for Abu Hafs al-Masri, a former top lieutenant of al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden, said it was calling a truce in Spain to give the newly elected Socialist government time to withdraw the Spanish troops from Iraq."

The Spanish Socialists did exactly what the terrorists wanted them to do.

"The plot suggests Spain remains a target for Muslim militants even though the new Socialist government withdrew Spain's troops from Iraq after taking office in April." Understatement of the year!

Spain again provides a stellar example of what happens when a nation abdicates its responsibilities and appeases terror. The Spanish Socialists will pay for their weakness for years because Al Quida and other violent groups now believe they have a reasonable chance of achieving their goals through terror. Not a good portent for the future American elections.

Was there a mutiny in Iraq?

There has been much hue and cry about the five soldiers in the 343rd Quartermaster Company in Kuwait that decided they weren't going to go do their job in Iraq. Unfortunately, much more heat than light has been generated about this. Here's a good link on StrategyPage for the latest on this.

Bottom line: The fueler platoon claimed that their vehicles were broken down, they had no protection, and the fuel was bad. Platoon relieved of mission, next platoon brought in and performs the mission with the same equipment. It appears that the platoon leader failed to lead his/her troops to execute the mission. It is also possible that the company commander or battalion operations officer failed to conduct the necessary mission analysis - that is why the Army is investigating.

This was a unit that was a combat service support unit, not a combat arms unit. The difference: Combat arms is infantry, armor, artillery, etc. These are the best trained, best equipped forces that are most mentally prepared to deal with a combat environment. The combat service support unit is trained and equipped to provide the gas and fix the trucks. They are trained for basic self-protection and to move the fuel to the combat forces. They are the furthest in mind set from the infantry. This difference in mindset may be the biggest factor in this story.

What this is not: This event has not a whit to do with either Bush or Kerry. This is an event that is so far down the military's chain of command that it doesn't have anything to do with either of them.

If one does crave a "systemic" problem, here's some choices...

1. The soldier's vehicles were unarmored. These are logistics vehicles, not combat vehicles. Vehicles of this type have been unarmored since internal combustion engines replaced horses. Why? Because the more armor is placed on a vehicle, the less cargo capacity trucks have. It is a basic cost-benefit analysis that has been made since the 1900s. If a political argument must be made about it, then Kerry gets the ringer. He reportedly was a US Senator for the last twenty years, and could have introduced a bill to armor the troops. Actually, he voted against it. The services have also tended to spend their money on combat systems, not on logistics troops. The Army has hundreds of thousands of trucks, and the Army is armoring them as fast as they can hang armor on them now.

2. The convoy did not have an escort. Unproven, and since the second platoon executed the mission, fairly unnecessary. The platoon was driving from Kuwait to Baghdad - that's the second quietest sector. They would have driven through the British and Polish sectors and entered the American sector just south of Baghdad. Over 2100 convoy movements occur every day in Iraq - and 99% don't have problems. If a political argument must be made about not having enough troops, then the list just gets too long to imagine. Bush for not having more troops in there to begin with. Kerry for claiming there are not enough troops or too much (wrong war, wrong place, wrong time), wanting 40000 more troops but not willing to send them to Iraq. Chiraq, Schroeder, and Annan for failing to live up to their international responsibilities and lead the way to get troops in Iraq, etc.

3. The fuel was contaminated. Don't know about this, but for some reason the troops in Baghdad accepted it.

So, a lieutenant may be in deep trouble - and the media reports are pretty off the mark.

Kerry and a more sensitive War on Terror

"There are all kinds of atrocities, and I would have to say that, yes, yes, I committed the same kind of atrocities as thousands of other soldiers have committed in that I took part in shootings in free fire zones. I conducted harassment and interdiction fire. I used 50 calibre machine guns, which we were granted and ordered to use, which were our only weapon against people. I took part in search and destroy missions, in the burning of villages. All of this is contrary to the laws of warfare, all of this is contrary to the Geneva Conventions and all of this is ordered as a matter of written established policy by the government of the United States from the top down." -- John Kerry, April 18, 1971

Must I say anything more - other than when covering for his own crimes, Kerry paints the picture that thousands of others are doing it I'll murder a bunch of Vietnamese because everyone else is! What kind of moral leadership is that? The "all is contrary to the Geneva Conventions and ordered at the highest levels" comment - as an officer in the United States military, you have an obligation to disobey unlawful orders. Kerry is using the Neurnberg Defense of the Nazis - in essence, because Hitler ordered it, no one else is culpable. The United States commissioned officers code clearly states that officers "defend of the Constitution of the United States" - not the president as the person. Therefore, if these were unlawful orders, then Kerry is a coward for not standing up for what was right while he was in Vietnam, or he is a war criminal for knowingly committing war crimes. I find it interesting that he keeps going back to the "he was ordered to" so often. Does he have no thoughts of his own? No inner anime? For some reason, 2.6 million other American soldiers, sailors, airmen, and Marines were able to make pretty good decisions in Vietnam - was Kerry the only one that AS AN OFFICER, kept having to get kicked in the rear end to do his job? If he needed to be ordered to do everything, then he was a pretty poor officer.

Oh, wait one - maybe we should look to Thomas Lipscomb's article on his qualities. Kerry entered the Navy in 1966 with a six year commitment, so he should have been out (after meeting with the VC in Paris in 1970) in 1972. Interestingly, his "honorable discharge" came in 1978 after a 'board of officers' during the Carter administration reviewed his file. One of the first acts of President Carter was a blanket amnesty for draft dodgers and Vietnam war protestors. Also interestingly, all of Kerry's medals were re-issued to him on 4 June 1985 (height of the Reagan presidency) when he was in the Senate. Anything look odd here? Since Sen. Kerry has not signed his SF 180 form to release all his military records, I am afraid that we will not know before the election if he got an "honorable, other-than-honorable, general, bad-conduct, or dishonorable" discharge before the election and grant this person access to enough nuclear weapons to annihilate the planet.

Carter and the Middle East

President Carter may be getting a tad old in the mind these days. On a recent interview with Chris Matthews, he states "I think another parallel is that in some ways the Revolutionary War could have been avoided. It was an unnecessary war." EXCUSE ME?? This is coming from the President that incompetently kept the United States hostage to the Iranians for 444 days in 1979? This was the President who was in charge when the Soviets invaded Afghanistan? This was the President that helped destabilize our allies by proclaiming that he was going to start pushing for human rights against them, but not against the Soviets? So, he started off saying that the Revolutionary War was a bad idea. Here's some more nuggets of wisdom...

Carter: "Had the British Parliament been a little more sensitive to the colonial's really legitimate complaints and requests the war could have been avoided completely, and of course now we would have been a free country now as is Canada and India and Australia, having gotten our independence in a nonviolent way. I think in many ways the British were very misled in going to war against America and in trying to enforce their will on people who were quite different from them at the time." Does anyone need some Democratic talking points here? A more sensitive war on terrorism? Don't think so...

Carter on Iraq: "And also when we were so destructive in going into Iraq with tens of thousands of innocent civilians killed and now it's still, up until this moment now many months later there is still a great deal of animosity toward American troops. And there is no doubt that American troops' presence is stimulating additional violence." There are so many ways this is wrong it boggles the mind. Let's go from the top:

1. The war in Iraq was the most constrained major war (from a collateral damage perspective) than any war previously. Through the use of precision munitions, civilian casualties were kept to historically amazingly low numbers. President Carter is taking a huge slap at the professionalism of our forces (implying incompetence and wanton destruction).

2. Civilian casualties: In a single night of bombing Tokyo during World War II, we killed 100,000 Japanese civilians. The most rabid anti-war protest groups credit between 8-12,000 - including those shot by the Iraqis! Carter actually has the arrogance to claim "as a historian" that he is making these claims! Saddam, for a low estimate, killed about 300,000 of his own civilians - five times that of Hiroshima. From Carter's criteria, its ok to kill your own people, but don't kill any trying to overthrow a merciless dictator. Got it.

3. The Americans are the problem. OK - so, we pull out now and let Iraq fall apart? Hmm...maybe not a good plan. How about the French and Germans seeing that it is in their national interest for a stable Middle East, so they kick in? Hmm...not happening. How about having the local powers like Iran take over and stabilize the situation? Hmm...not a good idea. So, Carter's solution is...?

Carter: "Obviously, the only way out of this quagmire that we have formed in Iraq now is to have some guarantee of withdrawal of American troops and turning their premises of the Iraqis over to them politically and to the international community to help on an equal basis and a shared basis with many allies both in economic and military concerns in the future."

Beyond embarrassing himself with the "quagmire" comment (usually a good indicator for a Vietnam PTSD response), that means that what President Bush has us doing now! As a former statesman should know, when you tie a policy to your withdrawal plan, then your opponents just try to wait you out. Since Carter identifies the United States as the problem, I can see where he is coming from. I guess that Saddam was just an "innocent bystander", not threatening to unleash his minions across the Middle East and try to take over the region.

Maybe I should remind him of the American policy on the Middle East. This was stated in the President's State of the Union Address: "Let our position be absolutely clear: an attempt by any outside force to gain control of the Persian Gulf region will be regarded as an assault on the vital interests of the United States of America. And such an assault will be repelled by any means necessary, including military force." - President Carter, 23 January 1980. This statement was notable because it was the first commitment since the Vietnam war to put US forces in harm's way outside NATO and other treaty obligations.

How about President Clinton? On 29 September 1998, he signed the Iraq Liberation Act. The Act stated that they wanted to remove Saddam Hussein from office and replace the government with a democratic institution.

I would think that President Carter and President Clinton should be happy that Bush is actually carrying out their policies. President Carter really embarrassed himself with this interview.

Thursday, October 14, 2004

Notes from Vietnam and Iraq

Here's an interesting Flash presentation from a Vietnam Vets group. It is touching to recognize the 2.6 million American soldiers, sailors, airmen, and Marines that served their country - many called into service by draft. I think they also may have an opinion on the current issues of the day...

Here's also the ultimate Kerry re-election ad. Make sure your audio is up!

Latest from Iraq...Babies found in Iraqi mass grave. The BBC piece has a couple of very poigient parts to it....

"US-led investigators have located nine trenches in Hatra containing hundreds of bodies believed to be Kurds killed during the repression of the 1980s. The skeletons of unborn babies and toddlers clutching toys are being unearthed, the investigators said. The victims are believed to be Kurds killed in 1987-88, their bodies bulldozed into the graves after being summarily shot dead. One trench contains only women and children while another contains only men. The body of one woman was found still clutching a baby. The infant had been shot in the back of the head and the woman in the face. " Obviously vicious enemies of Saddam's state.

And to Europe's credit: "Mr Kehoe (an investigator working with the Iraqi Special Tribunal (IST)) said that work to uncover graves around Iraq, where about 300,000 people are thought to have been killed during Saddam Hussein's regime, was slow as experienced European investigators were not taking part. The Europeans, he said, were staying away as the evidence might be used eventually to put Saddam Hussein to death. " That's the BBC's words - not mine. So much for developing a "rule-based society based on human rights."

No weapons of mass destruction? Saddam killed five times as many of his own people as died in Hiroshima. Saddam WAS a weapon of mass destruction. Maybe if the "peace" protesters looked at Saddam's Iraq, and compared it to Stalin's Soviet Union or Hitler's Germany, they might find some compassion in their hearts to actually assist in fulfilling the Iraqi people's dream of freedom and the dignity of human life. Or...maybe freedom is just for people that live in good places, and not beyond the border where the thin red line of sentinels protect the willfully blind against evil...

Tuesday, October 12, 2004

Former Gitmo Inmate Killed in Afghanistan

There is always quite a bit of discussion as to if the "Global War on Terrorism" is actually a war or more of a police action, punctuated by the use of force when the terrorists can't be controlled using law enforcement methods. In truth, both are true - police methods are used when terrorists are operating in the more controlled areas of the world where law enforcement can actually make a dent in the terrorist infrastructure, and combat operations in places where the writ of law does has not been extended yet.

One of the problems with the grey area of modern terrorism is the question of what do you do with terrorists after they have been captured? Seven Al Quida/Taliban prisoners that have been released from Gitmo and "sent home", including former Taliban commander Maulvi Abdul Ghaffar, have later been killed on the battlefield in Afghanistan fighting American troops. While various human rights groups have been decrying the imprisonment of these terrorists in Cuba, it is becoming clear that releasing them doesn't help much, either. Under the Geneva Conventions, one of the premises is that at the end of a conflict agreed to by competent authority, prisoners are released to return to their homes. The state for whom they served makes a promise (in the form of a peace treaty) that they will not take up arms again because the war is over. Al Quida and the Taliban don't appear to be following these rules - much like they don't follow most of the civilized world's norms. I don't think we will be able to detain the prisoners in Gitmo forever, but if they keep popping up on battlefields fighting against us again, then that bodes ill for the future. Up till now, the number of detainees in Gitmo has been around 550, with a total of 202 released or transferred to other governments since the fall of the Taliban.

What to do about it? Not real sure. Imprisonment doesn't seem to sway the terrorists, and letting them go appears to make our soldiers targets. I am not a fan of tossing a person's human rights, but when a prisoner has a high probability of simply taking up arms again as part of the jihad, then maybe life imprisonment is in order to stop this threat. If found on the battlefield again, then terminal measures are required.

Saturday, October 09, 2004

Words escape me...

Courtesy of the Associated Press in writing about the corruption at the United Nations in regards to the Oil-For-Food (or Oil-For-Palaces) program in Iraq.

"One of the most prolific purchasers of the oil was Swiss-based Glencore run by one-time fugitive American financier Marc Rich, which the report alleges paid over $3.2 million in kickbacks to the Iraqi government. Rich, formerly wanted for tax-evasion was pardoned by President Clinton in his last days in office."

I don't need to connect the dots on this one.

Friday, October 08, 2004

What did Iraq have before Operation Iraqi Freedom?

Some pundits and politicians are claiming that because Saddam Hussien did not have large stockpiles of weapons of mass destruction, that the United States should not have gone to war with Iraq. Counterfactual events to this argument are interesting. First - if Iraq DID have stockpiles of weapons of mass destruction, and they gassed the 3rd US Infantry Division and First Marine Force as they attacked north to Baghdad, would these critics be in support? If two or three thousand Soldiers and Marines had died in the most horrible deaths, would they not be crying that this was the "wrong war, at the wrong place, at the wrong time" and that the "reckless march to war" had killed thousands of our troops? Or...if Saddam had said "yes, I have weapons of mass destruction, and I will now turn them over", then we are still left with Saddam Hussien in power in Iraq - free to invade and destabilize the Middle East and the world in general. So, what do we have to document what might have occurred?

This week, the findings of the of the Special Advisor to the Director of Central Intelligence on Iraq's Weapons of Mass Destruction, otherwise known as the Daulfer Report, were delivered to the American government. Here is a quick review of its findings.

"Saddam Husayn so dominated the Iraqi Regime that its strategic intent was his alone. He wanted to end sanctions while preserving the capability to reconstitute his weapons of mass destruction (WMD) when sanctions were lifted." That was the first sentence in the entire report. I'm willing to take this at face value.

"The introduction of the Oil-For-Food program in late 1996 was a key turning point for the Regime. OFF rescued Baghdad's economy from a terminal decline created by sanctions. The Regime quickly came to see that OFF could be corrupted to acquire foreign exchange both to further undermine sanctions and to provide the means to enhance dual-use infrastructure and potential WMD-related development." The report goes on to explain how Saddam used this humanitarian program that was approved by President Clinton allowed Iraq to slip the noose and resuscitate itself.

"By 2000-2001, Saddam had managed to mitigate many of the effects of sanctions and undermine their international support. Iraq was within striking distance of a de facto end to the sanctions regime, both in terms of oil exports and the trade embargo, by the end of 1999." This supports the Bush Administration's claim that Saddam was very close to to freeing Iraq from the UN sanctions program - i.e. Saddam was no longer going to be contained.

"Saddam wanted to recreate Iraq's WMD capability - which was essentially destroyed in 1991 - after sanctions were removed and Iraq's economy stabilized...he intended to focus on ballistic missile and tactical chemical warfare capabilities."

"One aspect of Saddam's strategy of unhinging the UN's sanctions against Iraq, centered on Saddam's effectiveness to influence certain UN Security Council permanent members, Such as Russia, France, and China and some nonpemranent members (Syria, Ukraine) to end UN sanctions. Under Saddam's orders, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs formulated and implemented a strategy aimed at these UNSC members and international public opinion with the purpose of ending UN sanctions and undermining its subsequent OFF program by diplomatic and economic means. "

"The Ministry of Oil controlled the oil voucher distribution program that used oil to influence UN Security Council members to support Iraq's goals. Saddam personally approved and removed all names of voucher recipients. He made all modifications to the list, adding or deleting names t will."

The Oil for Food program was a $64 BILLION dollar program. Saddam Husayn personally directed who got the oil. On Page 31, the recipients of Oil-For-Food Vouchers included:
Russia: 30% - @19 billion dollars - including the head of the Russian Communist Party (110 million barrels) and the Russian Presidential Office (87 million barrels)
France: 15% - @ 9.5 billion dollars - including Patrick Maugein, who is claimed to be a conduit to French President Chiraq (14 million barrels) and the former French Interior Minister Charles Pasqua (11 million barrels).
China: 10% - @ 6.5 billion dollars.
Most notable individual recipient: Benon Sevan, the head of the UN Oil-for-food program: 7.3 million barrels (@$215 million dollars).

Bottom Line: Saddam planned on restarting his WMD programs after sanctions were lifted, and he had bribed the Security Council to support him. End of story. We must all remember that based on UNSCR 1441, Iraq had to prove that they had eliminated their WMD program - after the previous 16 resolutions, the burden of proof was on Iraq, not on the United States or the United Nations. This was not an exercise in domestic law enforcement, where the accused is presumed innocent until proven guilty. This is international relations, and the ultimate arbiter in international politics is war. The United States and its allies, based on both pre-war intelligence (which was based on 12 years of Saddam's obfuscation and obstructionism) and the post-war reports of his plans to regain his ability to threaten the region and the United States, were correct in removing Saddam Hussien. In reality, the war should have been conducted in 1998 when the UN weapons inspectors were thrown out, but President Clinton did not chose to go the distance. The rightness or wrongness of the war is not terribly debatable - it is done, and the Middle East is far better off because of it. A megalomaniacal dictator whose hero was Stalin is now in a jail, no longer able to kill more millions of both his own people and his neighbors. Isn't that what liberating the oppressed is all about?

Wednesday, September 29, 2004

The Beginnings of Defense

The Democrats, led by Sen. Kennedy and Sen. Edwards, have charged that the Bush Administration has made the country "less secure" to potential nuclear threats. They claim that the war in Iraq is making us lose focus on both North Korea's and Iran's nuclear ambitions because we are not taking the lead. To quote:

Sen Edwards (Sep 29): "This president has basically ceded the responsibility for dealing with Iran to the Europeans and with the North Koreans to the Chinese – which is a huge mistake because they create such a threat to America that it creates a much more serious nuclear threat to America." Weren't the Democrats complaining that the United States was being too much of a bully and we should work multilaterally with other nations to resolve regional issues...even to the point of letting regional powers take the lead in addressing those problems? (Sorry - I couldn't pass up on that quote!)

Onward to what I really wanted to write about tonight - ballistic missile defense. The United States, for the first time since the end of World War, will have the beginnings of a national missile defense system becoming operational this fall. The first missiles designed to destroy incoming nuclear missiles from North Korea or other rogue nations were placed in silos in Alaska this summer. This fall, the radar system to track incoming missiles and destroy them will achieve initial operating capability. The President pledged in 2000 to field a basic defense for the United States, and he is doing it. The Washington Post wrote today that "doubts remain" about this system on many levels, and I think they should be addressed.

The basic issue is there are two positions on missile defense - either the concept that ballistic missile defense is fundimentally dangerous to the world because it upsets nuclear deterrence relationships, or that the lack of a nuclear missile defense is fundimentally morally indefensible because nuclear peace is based on holding each other's nation hostage to annihilation. Nuclear deterrence in the Cold War basically was built on the premise that the United States and Soviet Union would not go to war because both sides possessed nuclear arsenals that could destroy each other. Both would be deterred from high-risk adventures because both would have too much to lose. The implication of this relationship was that both superpowers had an equal interest in protecting their respective countries, and so would operate under the same risk-taking strategies.

The two arguements against missile defense are bipolar - either the system would work so well that nuclear deterrence will no longer work, or that it is a waste of money because it will never work. The arguement based on a highly effective ABM system follows: Ballistic missile defenses would remove some of the certainty of nuclear deterrence by potentially making one of the superpowers protected from "assured destruction". This uncertainty was why the United States and the Soviets signed the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty of 1972. If deterrence no longer works, then the world is far more dangerous. The opposing view is that it is a waste of money to develop ABM because it will never work, or that nuclear weapons can be smuggled in other ways. This arguement is usually associated with people that want money spent on other "more pressing" domestic programs. The technical problem of hitting a missile with another missile has been solved, and the clandestine smuggling in of a nuclear weapon (other than being irrelevant to this discussion), is also being addressed by Homeland Security.

However, in 2002, the United States elected not to extend the ABM treaty because the world had changed. The United States and the Russians no longer target ballistic missiles at each other. Peace reigns between all the major powers in the world. However, there are some nations that seek to use nuclear weapons to "punch above their weight" such as North Korea and Iran. North Korea may have as many as ten nuclear weapons and is striving to develop long range missiles. While some critics may claim that the ABM system will "never work" or that fielding it will encourage the North Koreans to "build more"...both arguements are unfounded. The basic national ballistic missile defense system that is coming on line this fall will provide an element of protection against missiles being built by both the Iranians and the North Koreans, as well as possible accidental launches from China or Russia. There are problems with the system, and it is not fully fielded yet - but the idea that the United States for the very first time will have some way to protect itself against a tyrant like Kim Chong Il is comforting.

When North Korea develops missiles that can range the United States, that places us in an asymmetrical relationship. North Korea is working very hard to develop long range missiles to threaten the United States. The United States has much more to lose than North Korea does - that was not the case in the US-Soviet relationship. If North Korea tries to blackmail the United States and its allies with its nuclear capability, then something must be done about it. The fielding of our first national-level ballistic missile defense is a good first step toward actual protection for our cities against nuclear missile strikes.

Tuesday, September 28, 2004

Iraq, Democracy, and Islam.

I have been observing that there is some hand-wringing about the future of Iraq. One argument that I have heard is that while the United States is claiming to provide both freedom and democracy to Iraq, the reality is going to be that there can only be freedom OR democracy - not both. The essence of the argument is that Iraq is still not free because of the US and coalition troops that are there - that the Allawi government is actually just a puppet of the Bush Administration. Sen. Kerry made this argument when he publicly repudiated the new Iraqi government during Prime Minister Ayad Allawi's visit to the United Nations and to the White House last week. The general concept is that since "freedom" and "democracy" were delivered by force of arms by the United States and the coalition countries (all 34 of them!), that the Iraqi government has no hope of becoming a legitimate form of government. Unfortunately, this argument is simply not supported by the evidence. Let's look at history for evidence first.

The first example was during World War II. Germany was ruled by the Nazis (who were duly elected), and the Japanese by military dictators (who were supported by a duly elected parliament). Was our war to eliminate fascist tyranny and replace it with democracy wrong? The implication is that because these dangerous military dictatorships threatened us, and the American people decided that the only path to security was by eliminating the said threatening government, then the current German and Japanese governments are illegitimate. Using the logic of the critics today, we should re-install the Nazis and the Japanese militarists because we "deprived them of their rights." I don't think that is the right path to take! What happened to the liberal position that we should "free the oppressed" and "make the world a better place"? Removing the tyranny of Saddam freed 25 million people at the geopolitical center of the Middle East - what more could a liberal supporter of human rights want?

Sovereignty has been given to the Iraqis this summer, but we are still required to help assist in security. We did the same thing for the Germans, the Japanese, and other sovereign nations where we took up the slack from a security perspective so they could focus on reforming their societies both for their good and for ours. It is clear that the democratic form of government is both more peaceful and more prosperous than any other form of government, period. See Russett and Oneal's Triangulating Peace for the empirical supporting data. Are people suffering under totalitarian regimes "free to make their own choices"? Saddam and the Ba'athists brooked no dissent in Iraq (ref: crushing the Shia after the 1991 war when the tried to overthrow Saddam), so charges that Saddam was popularly supported just don't bear up well under scrutiny. Now, the Iraqi people are free to choose their future - and no defender of Saddam's old order can refute that! Oh - there was a group of insurgents that delivered freedom at the point of a bayonet, and required one of the great powers to assist them or they would have been crushed. That would be George Washington and his band of warriors...maybe we should have turned down the offer from the French to help...

I've seen some pundits claim that democracy and the Islamic culture are incompatible...which is simply wrong. Of the ten largest Islamic nations in the world, all are now either fully democratic or are moving in that direction. Indonesia (the largest Islamic nation), just had national elections last week and elected a new president. Pakistan, as the next largest Islamic nation, has alternated between democracy and military dictatorship - but not theocracy. Bangladesh, as the third largest Islamic nation, is a democracy; as is India is both the largest democracy in the world and has the fourth largest Muslim population. Turkey is mostly Muslim, yet has had a secular democracy since the 1920s. Iran has two governments - a functioning parliamentary democracy and a non-functioning theocracy that is suppressing it. Even in Iran, democracy is not seen as incompatible with the teachings of the Prophet Mohammed. Egypt is a democracy (with some notable problems), and Nigeria and China fill out the top ten Muslim nations based on population. Nigeria has a kleptocracy, and the Chinese have been successful in maintaining their Communist government. However - in none of the top ten cases has it been demonstrated that democracy and Islam are incompatible over three quarters of a billion people! If one desires anecdotal evidence of the desires of the "average Iraqi", here's a viewpoint:

There are some that claim that because of all the problems in our society, that it is sheer lunacy for Americans to desire to export our ideas of governance. Is it arrogance? Arrogance is defined as making, or having the disposition to make, exorbitant claims of rank or estimation. Let's look at that. We live in the most prosperous, most free, and most successful country on the planet. We added the equivalent GDP equal to Argentina last year to ours, and no other industrial country can come close to the prosperity in our land. Our political system has proven to be the most successful and durable political system in the last 228 years - and the logical alternative is??? We provide security and economic growth for over a billion people on the planet which contains three-quarters of the totality of the earth's economy. Ergo - it isn't an exorbitant claim of rank or estimation - it is a fact and should be considered a matter of pride for Americans.

So, what for the future? Iraq will have its elections in January, establishing a fully legitimate (even to its critics) indigenous government in Iraq. The United States and its allies will be in Iraq for the next five to ten years helping stabilize the situation...and if Syria doesn't get its act together and stop supporting the Ba'athists in Iraq, maybe the American army will end up redeploying out of Iraq through Damascus! The "grand experiment of democracy", first started in the United States and now beginning its journey in Iraq, will over time deepen its roots in Iraqi society and play a major part in transforming the Middle East from a totalitarian economic backwater to a much brighter future.

Wednesday, September 22, 2004

The Blood of Heroes

Here's a very good Flash presentation that puts some things in perspective. Excellently done.

Tuesday, September 21, 2004

Burdens and JFK

I found this on the Mudville Gazette - I thought it was fabulous...kudos to him!

Burdens and JFK

John Fitzgerald Kennedy:
We dare not forget today that we are the heirs of that first revolution. Let the word go forth from this time and place, to friend and foe alike, that the torch has been passed to a new generation of Americans -- born in this century, tempered by war, disciplined by a hard and bitter peace, proud of our ancient heritage -- and unwilling to witness or permit the slow undoing of those human rights to which this Nation has always been committed, and to which we are committed today at home and around the world.
Let every nation know, whether it wishes us well or ill, that we shall pay any price, bear any burden, meet any hardship, support any friend, oppose any foe, in order to assure the survival and the success of liberty.
This much we pledge -- and more.

John Forbes Kerry:
We should also intensify the training of Iraqis to manage and guard the polling places that need to be opened. Otherwise, U.S. forces will end up bearing that burden alone.
If the president would move in this direction, if he would bring in more help from other countries to provide resources and to train the Iraqis to provide their own security and to develop a reconstruction plan that brings real benefits to the Iraqi people, and take the steps necessary to hold elections next year, if all of that happened, we could begin to withdraw U.S. forces starting next summer and realistically aim to bring our troops home within the next four years....
The principles that should guide American policy in Iraq now and in the future are clear. We must make Iraq the world's responsibility, because the world has a stake in the outcome and others should have always been bearing the burden.

Evidently for the new JFK, his mantra is: "We shall bear no more price; we shall shirk any burden."

Monday, September 20, 2004

Voting in the Future

I was thinking about the upcoming national elections, and have some ideas about how to make the elections more representative and responsive to the electorate at large. There are only four requirements to be an American citizen: exercising your right (and privilege) to vote, defending your country in a time of need, obeying the laws created by the representatives you elect, and pay the taxes that your representative government levies to help our society. That sounds like a pretty simple formula for American citizenship. Of the four citizen’s duties, three of them have some sort of consequence if they aren’t done – i.e. fines or the like. However, the right to vote has no such consequence attached – even though it is the foundation of our society! So, here’s a plan I’ve been thinking about to improve our electoral process.

1. Have Election Day be a Federal “holiday”. The duty of all citizens is to vote during that day. If a business elects to remain open, that is their prerogative – but all the workers must be given a fair opportunity to exercise their civic duties throughout the day.

2. Do away with voter registration as it stands now, and have voters automatically registered when they get a Social Security number. After their 18th birthday, all citizens are now eligible to vote automatically. I would also tie in the Selective Service database to this as well, so that simply becomes transparent to the citizenry.

3. Institute electronic voting country-wide. The capabilities of today’s information technology allows voting to be done over the internet or via touch-screen voting kiosks (much like the kiosks at airline terminals now) available at public buildings. The votes are then encrypted and electronically sent to the local, county, or state elections office. This will speed the vote counts, and improve accuracy considerably.

4. Manual voting can still be done via paper ballots, or absentee ballots, but the electronic voting machines should be the primary form now.

5. Each electronic voting system would produce two documents – a paper receipt of the vote that the citizen cast, and a second receipt to validate that the citizen did vote because…

6. If a citizen doesn’t participate (they could still elect not to vote, but they would have to state that after signing in), then they would not be eligible for any income tax deductions. No standard deduction, no itemized deductions. This would reinforce the linkage between voting and taxation. The second receipt could be attached to the citizen’s income tax form, or electronically filed with the IRS to indicate that the citizen did vote.

7. Other penalties for not voting could include not being eligible during a fiscal year for various governmental subsidies, tax advantages, or other benefits.

8. The electronic voting system should have the ability for voters to learn more about the candidate. I think that if each candidate was given space to list the five most important positions they are taking, and have three or four bullet-type comments on each position, that would give the voter an idea about where the candidate stands on the issues. This way, the citizen has an opportunity to be informed by the candidate at the time of the vote what the candidate stands for.

I think connecting the citizen’s vote with their taxes is an important linkage. While I would not support hauling people off to jail for not voting, placing some kind of penalty for not voting would be a motivator. If citizens make the direct connection between their taxes and voting, I’m sure that would increase voter participation. These are my thoughts – I hope they get implemented someday!

Saturday, September 11, 2004

9-11 Three Years Later

"May you live in interesting times" goes the old Chinese proverb - and we do live in interesting times. The memory of the terrible tragedy of 9-11 continues to be strong for many in the United States and abroad. I remember that morning vividly - I was at work doing something fairly inconsequential, and one of my co-workers came into my cubicle around 9AM and said "you need to come see this - history is being made today".

I watched with horror as the second airliner crashed into the second tower of the World Trade Center, watched as the two buildings were soon shrouded in flame and smoke. Then, the reports of the attack on Washington and the crash of a fourth plane in Pennsylvania came in, and my colleagues and I were both filled with dread and rage. We watched haplessly as people threw themselves out of burning buildings to escape a fate worse than death, watched as thousands of New Yorkers ran for their lives as the great symbols of American enterprise and power fell. I have family in New York City, and I feared for their safety - but also knew I could do nothing for them in this time of need. I did the math...about 80,000 people in the towers, planes striking half way up. Maybe 40,000 dead? A Hiroshima-like toll of blood? It looked possible. I also remember how my brain was working that morning...almost machine-like. My emotions were running so high...but the analytical side of my mind kept trying to figure out...who did it...what now...what next? How many dead...where will the next strikes occur? In the end, I rejoiced to find out that Al Quida had actually struck the one set of buildings that were best prepared for this kind of an attack. The people knew how to get out better than any other major skyscraper. 3000 dead from 91 nations was a tragedy...and a blessing that it wasn't larger by a factor of ten.

I had to give the terrorists credit...their plan was audacious and well-executed, striking almost every target they planned on - and achieved results far greater than they dreamed. The economic dislocation from the attacks would end up costing the United States $1 trillion in lost productivity, cost millions of jobs because of this dislocation, disrupt an entire industry (airlines), cause the federal government to reorganize, and make the United States government run a deficit for the next three years. Quite an attack! We buttoned up, sealed everything, and prepared for war...

Shock gave way to anger, and anger to purpose...we did not know who did this terrible act, but we knew that we would pursue them to the ends of the earth to find them and bring justice to them. Like now, there were people that I knew that had such a difficult time "getting it." One person I know, who is a fervent pacifist at heart, said "I'm I allowed to be that way?" Yes - you are. These people do not deserve our understanding, our compassion, or our mercy. We must be faithful both to our enemies, as well as our friends and allies, and pursue them with an unremitting drive. Al Quida's bloody trail from Manhattan to Bali to Beslan makes it clear that there is one sure way to deal with this group...and serving a warrent isn't sufficient.

The world changed for the United States that fateful morning...and it didn't. Al Quida, led by Osama bin Ladin, had declared war on the United States multiple times during the 1990s. His followers had struck the World Trade Center in 1993, helped the Somalis attack Americans in 1993, unsuccessfully tried to hijack a dozen airliners in 1995 to pull off a "9-11" type attack in East Asia, bombed American embassies in Tanzania and Kenya in 1998, unsuccessfully tried to sink the USS Sullivans in Yemen in 1999 - but was successful against the USS Cole in 2000, unsuccessfully tried to hijack another group of airliners for 2000, and either conducted or tried to conduct dozens of other attacks against Western and Saudi targets throughout the 1990s. Bin Ladin in essence took over the defense ministership of the Taliban in Afghanistan, and the Al Quida training camps were busy producing more muhajjidin in the late 1990s. Al Quida was at war...and we failed to respond. The attacks of 9-11 were only notable because the United States woke up and changed from a nation of capriciousness to one resolute to act. It was not the beginning of the was when America decided to begin its counteroffensive.

Other leaders were at war against the United States at the same time. Iraq waged war on the United States in northern and southern Iraq, firing hundreds of Russian and French-made missiles at our aircraft. Low level war blossomed and raged "under the CNN line" from the end of 1998 because Saddam did not uphold his end of the agreement to disarm after the first Gulf War. He had the tacit or explicit backing of the French, Russians, and Chinese in his resistance to US and UK enforcement of the UN sanctions. The war of 2003 should have been the war of 1998, but President Clinton failed to act. Again, this was not the beginning of the war...we ignored the gathering storm, denied the gathering evidence, and failed to do what was necessary to protect both our security and our allies.

The Iraqi regime also ganered unconventional warriors from Islamic terrorist groups around the world throughout the 1990s to conduct an unconventional warfare campaign against US and UK interests around the world. If Iraq could not overthrow American might by force of arms, maybe subversion and terror would work. Iraqi intelligence agents met with Al Quida in Sudan from 1992 to 1995, met with Al Quida in Pakistan in 1996-1997, and culminated with Zawahiri (Bin Ladin's number 2 man) going to Baghdad and meeting with the Iraqi vice-President in 1998 to set up training camps in Fallujah, Nasiriya, and in the Iraqi controlled areas of Kurdistan. Bin Ladin's public statements picked up Iraqi themes (or talking points) after virtually every meeting. While Saddam and Osama had different visions of the future (one of a secular dictatorship, another of a theocratic dictatorship), the concept of "the enemy of my enemy is my friend" applies here. dawn, we slept not because we were ignorant, but because we had a "failure of imagination" (to quote the 9/11 Report).

So what should we, or do we, think about the third anniversary of that red morning? I had the good fortune of being able to be part of that first group of warriors to take the fight to Al-Quida in Afghanistan and helped take the fight to Saddam in Iraq. My contribution was small, but personally very satisfying. President Bush did the right thing...he showed leadership when it mattered. He has not wavered, and has kept his eye on the objective. For this, the nation should consider itself blessed. True American heroes went deep into Afghanistan and overthew the Islamofascist regime of the Taliban. Al Quida's camps were destroyed, its followers scattered. They fought hard, but their fight was futile. Saddam's pseudo-Stalinist Iraq was next - a supporter and base for terror, and the geopolitical pivot point for the greater Middle East. Saddam's evil regime was overthrown by an incredible display of force of arms, and is now on the way to truly reforming the body politic of Iraq. The United States does not need to go forth in search of dragons to slay...killing the dragons breathing fire into its front yard is a good place to start. By eliminating the threat of Saddam's Iraq, the Middle East has an opportunity to go forth into a new future. Libya's Kaddafi gave up his WMD program right after Saddam was dragged out of his hiding hole south of Tikrit. Sic Semper Tyrannus...

And what should we think about the lost? For the thousand American warriors who lost their lives in the defense of freedom, their sacrifice for their country cannot be measured adequately. We are in great debt to them for their service - and by focusing only on that black number is a disservice to them. They died defending their friends, their families, and the freedom of the nation that they deemed worth fighting for. These men and women made a choice that they would lay down their lives for their fellow citizen - and for that, they should be hailed.

We are also in debt to the hundreds of thousands of soldiers, sailors, airmen, and Marines who are among the living...whose training and dedication that grim number does not begin to touch. It is the professionalism of this force that brings the vast majority home alive...and protects to a level unparalleled in human history the innocent on the battlefield. When American forces meet their foes, it is like the scythe against the wheat. No other force in the world applies force so skillfully and so carefully with such effect. Because of this professionalism and restraint, Al Quida has lost the majority of its trained terrorists due to death or imprisonment over the last three years. While Al Quida's new recruits have enthusiasm, they don't have the skills. Hundreds, if not thousands, have gone to Iraq...and not returned. Iraq has become the central front in the war on terrorism. Iraq may end up being Al Quida's grave, because the more Muslims they slaughter in the name of "Allah", the more bankrupt a movement they appear. No "Al Quida" political movement has been successful in any Middle Eastern country. Al Quida as an effort to ignite a world insurrection against the forces of modernity has failed. Al Quida and its ilk are not winning the war on terrorism - they are being driven to the farthest reaches of the earth by the forces of justice.

The fight has not just been a military fight, but a full spectrum offensive. Thousands of Al Quida agents around the world have been swept up by law enforement, diplomatic offensives have deprived terrorists of refuge, terrorist funding has been constrained, and the overall moral degeneracy of Al Quida and its followers has been laid bare for all to see. If Iraq and Afghanistan are able to become members in good standing in the international community, then the draining of the "swamp of dispair and anger" that breeds groups like Al Quida will benefit the world far into the future.

The Ba'athists in Iraq face the same dark future. When they attack American combat units, they die. They then shifted to American truck drivers and other logistics units...with some successes, but now when they attack, they die. The Ba'athists then shifted to the American contractors...who then tied in with the American and coalition now the Ba'athists begin to die again. So then they shift to the coalition troops...who tie in with the Americans and the Ba'athists begin to die. So the Ba'athists shift to the Iraqi police and security forces...and are then discredited for no longer killing the "infidel Americans", but for killing "Muslim Iraqis". Plus...because the new Iraqi forces are trained by the US, the Ba'athists begin to die again. So, in the end, the Ba'athists are left to their old tactics of just terrorizing the people...which will lead to their ultimate political defeat in a democratic Iraq. This will be a long and bloody fight...and with the tide of casualties going against the insurgents at a rate of about 1 American dying for every 15-20 insurgents and terrorists dying, that's not good for the bad guys. Moreover, this is not a Vietnam scenario where the VC were ideologically motivated nationalists. The Ba'athists desire one thing - power. Iraqis know this, and the vast majority (Sunni, Shia, and Kurds) do not want them back. The turn-over of power to the interm Iraqi government was a huge shift in the Iraq conflict...because the fight is now for the future. If the insurgents (both the Ba'athists and Al-Sadr's group) get the Americans out, they might have a shot at taking on the new Iraqi government. They need to get the US out so they can do that - which I don't see happening in the next five years.

So, which is the number to remember today? The three thousand innocent dead on 9-11, or the thousand soldiers who gave their lives to bring justice to those that killed the three thousand? I think we need to remember sadness and respect for the fallen...and with determination and dedication to the future. We do not get a time-out from history. We do not get to retreat behind our ocean barriers and hope the rest of the world will leave us alone. We are the United States. We are the beacon of freedom on a hill that millions try to immigrate to every year. We are the defender of freedom, extending our protection to nearly a billion people worldwide in over forty countries. We are the engine of growth, providing a quarter of the world's economic power (by GDP), the world's most educated and productive workforce, and the market of choice for the majority of the nations of the world. And we are the guarantor of the world order, so that commerce and peaceful relations between nations can occur. These are facts, not aspirations.

Some nations forget this, and become free-riders on this benign world environment. Some allies that should have stepped forward in solidarity to fight this first global war of the 21st century stepped back, even resisted facing the challange. Multilateralism must not be an alibi for nonaction. Now, they are beginning to realize that capitulation in the face of terror simply shows the weakness of their governments and invites attack. Others, like the new democracies of eastern Europe, recognize the war for what it is and sent their legions out to help secure the peace. Lastly, bin Ladin and his ilk recognize the future, and fear their demise because of it. They know they are on the wrong side of history and progress, viewing their future as one that is a throwback to the seventh century. There is no going back to September 10th, any more than we can go back to December 9th, 1941. We must stay focused on our present and our future while remembering our past - we do not get a round trip ticket to go back to the past and change it. The third anniversary of the attack on 9-11 should bring all these thoughts to us. May we continue to live as President Lincoln said in his second inaugural address:

"With malice toward none; with charity for all; with firmness in the right, as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in; to bind up the nation's wounds; to care for him who shall have borne the battle, and for his widow and his do all which may achieve and cherish a just and lasting peace among ourselves and with all nations."

Friday, September 10, 2004

Taunting the forgers

Three great sites to check out the fun of the CBS forgeries trying to smear the President: Scrappleface, Instapundent, and Powerline. The humor on Scrappleface is amazing (The Dems just found the 1972 e-mail ordering George Bush to go to work!), and Instapundit and Powerline are doing a great job factchecking what the mainstream media is supposed to be doing. I am enjoying seeing new sources of information coming out to challenge the leftist orthodoxy of the public media. I do get tired of their perspective of "if its a sunny day, we're all going to die of skin cancer". The USA is doing what other nations can only dream about - try to improve the world order, grow its economy, better its people, and roll-back the forces of terror and intolerance in order to make us both safe and prosperous.