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.

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?