February 27, 2005
Ta-da! Check out the new above the fold "newswire"! I've set up a system that makes it incredibly fast for me to post links. No commentary, just links. Between my newsreader, and some configuration improvements I've made in Safari, I should be able to turn this blog into a link-machine. I'll be tossing a few up in the mornings, if and when I come home for lunch, early evening, and late evening. Should keep the fires burning during periods of time when other concerns keep me from offering any in-depth posting.
If I were to offer in-depth posting by the way, it would be about Lebanon. This week will make Beirut look like Kiev from all the signs . . .
Anyways, hope you like the new feature!
February 26, 2005
Note on Light-Posting
Loyal Readers: I've had an exceptionally busy week at work and posting has been light. It's a good thing that Steven Vincent was able to carry the torch a bit.
Some changes to the general format of things here may be in the works . . . you will be pleased with the result . . .
February 24, 2005
THE GOD COMPLEX II
By all accounts, Ahmed Omar Abu Ali Is a bright young man, and a good Muslim. Born in Houston to Jordanian parents, he was a valedictorian at an Islamic high school in the Washington, D.C. area, where he spent his teen years teaching religious studies at the Dar Al-Hijrah Islamic Center in Falls Church, Virginia. After graduating, he moved to Saudi Arabia in 2000 to study the Koran at the Islamic University of Medina.
Yesterday, federal authorities in Alexandria, Virginia, unsealed an indictment against Abu Ali, charging him, as the New York Times reports, with providing material support for terrorism and training with Al Qaeda overseas. According to prosecutors, in 2002 the American citizen allegedly contacted terrorists in Saudi Arabia, and received training from them in the use of weapons and in document forgery. Moreover, the feds claim, in 2002 and 2003 Abu Ali and Al Qaeda discussed plans for Abu Ali to assassinate President of the United States George W. Bush, by shooting him or detonating a car bomb in his vicinity. Abu Ali denies the charges.
He may be innocent. At this point, the indictment seem rather weak its based mainly on the testimony of unnamed co-conspirators-- and Abu Ali claims he was tortured while in Saudi custody. Moreover, federal accusations lodged against American citizens for assisting terrorism have often proved wrong, as witness the Brandon Mayfield case. Still, if nothing else, Abu Ali's indictment opens a window onto Saudi-supported Islamic education in America, and the degree to which the ideology of religious supremacy has crept into our nations mosques and Islamic cultural centers.
As the New York Times reports, Abu Ali's high school, the Islamic Saudi Academy, is a private institution that serves hundreds of Saudi citizens and is subsidized by the Saudi government. As for the Dar Al-Hijrah Islamic Center, according to a recent report by the Center for Religious Freedom, this organization was one in which researchers discovered hate literature published by the Saudi government. A sample of the material found in the Center includes the following passage:
Zionism, which is the worst racism in history because of its violence, atrocities, selfishness and arrogance, invests all the means available to it, together with the other enemies to destroy this religion [i.e., Islam] and exterminate its followers, weakening and paralyzing them to say the least.Interestingly, Abu Ali's father works for the Saudi embassy in Washington. CRF researchers discovered Saudi-subsidized hate literature in two religious and cultural sites in the city, the Islamic Center of Washington, and Masjid Al-Islam. More interestingly yet, researchers found Saudi-sponsored hate literature in Abu Ali's hometown of Houston, specifically the Al-Farouq Mosque. One screed called upon Muslims to
...form a society that is committed to the Islamic way of thinking and Islamic way of life, which means to form a government that implements principles of justice embodied in sharia...Until the nations of the world have functional Islamic governments, every individual who is careless or lazy in working for Islam is sinful.Another quotes one of the founders of modern Islamic radicalism, Sayyid Qutb.
[Believers] should realize that their self-value derives only from Islam, without which they are like animals or worse. They must know, however, that true honor can never be achieved unless they continue actively to involve themselves in the Islamic Movement. Those who remain in isolation will be in the Hellfire.There is no proof that Abu Ali or his father read, or were affected by, these documents. Still, it seems clear that the young man lived and worked in an atmosphere permeated with Saudi hate literature and Islamofascist ideologyan atmosphere, moreover, that has produced foul results. As the CRF notes, quoting the 9-11 Commission report, Osama bin Laden and other terrorist leaders draw on a minority tradition in Islamic teaching that extends from at least Ibn Tamiyya, through the founders of Wahhabismitself one of the foundations of Saudi Arabia through the Muslim Brotherhood to Sayyid Qutb.
As I noted in a previous post, The God Complex I, Qutb's manifesto Milestones is a veritable handbook of Islamic grandiosity and will to power that contains such passages as
The earth belongs to God and should be purified for God, and it cannot be purified for Him unless the banner, No Deity Except God, [i.e., a core Islamic belief] is unfurled across the earth.What Qutb could not have foreseen were the vast resources of Saudi Arabia pumping out Islamofascist literature to the ummah across the globe. Nor could he and other radical Islamic thinkers have foreseen how the internet--as Olivier Roy notes in his Globalized Islam--allows for a deculturalized form of the religion to possess intelligent, angry and impressionable Muslim minds. Whether Abu Ali is part of this mindset remains unclear. What is clear, however, is the problem of Islamic grandiosity, an abyss into whose depths we are only beginning to peer.
Steven Vincent contributes weekly to The Adventures of Chester. Don't miss his blog In the Red Zone, or his book by the same name, in the sidebar.
February 22, 2005
No time for in-depth posting today, but here's a myriad of links I ran across today. All kinds of topics:
INTEL DUMP - pontificates upon the rise of entrepreneurial, private military forces in Iraq.
An outstanding piece at World Tribune.com discusses life with the 1st Marine Division in Ramadi. General Mattis is quoted yet again:
"The first time you blow someone away is not an insignificant event," he tells about 200 Marines, sitting on the ground under a metal windbreak against a cliff in Al Asad.Read the whole thing.
"That said, there are some a--holes in the world that just need to be shot. But you go on and find your next victim or he's gonna kill you or your buddy. It's kill or be killed," he said.
"There are hunters and there are victims. By your discipline, cunning, obedience and alertness, you will decide if you are a hunter or a victim. ... It's really a hell of a lot of fun. You're gonna have a blast out here!" he said, with marked glee. "I feel sorry for every son of a bitch that doesn't get to serve with you."
Who knows if it is true, but another World Tribune article says that the assassins of Hariri were dispatched from Iraq and trained by Ansar al Islam.
This Guardian article, Bloggers will rescue the right, set off lots of commentary. Power Line here. Samizdata.net on the other hand, says Blogging will not necessarily save the Conservative Party.
The Conservatives now have a hideous problem. Having lost confidence in its own economic nostrums, with the collapse both of the old USSR and of its own attempts to galvanise the British economy by seizing control of it, the British dirigiste left is content to allow Blair – or, I suspect, any likely successor of Blair – to triangulate away into the sunset. Labour knows that for them, it is either New Labour or no Labour at all. Which means that the Conservatives are no longer united by Labour. Instead they are divided by New Labour.Meanwhile, the executive editor of the New York Times recently told an audience at the Columbia School of Journalism, “This is not a time when editors swear off alcohol.”
Keller also sees “blogging,” or online writing that blurs news and commentary, as a mixed blessing. While he celebrated the blogger’s ability to uncover breaking news, he noted that a blog’s inherent bias might be detrimental to the reader. “A blog is still a view of the world through a pinhole,” he said, noting that it can sometimes fall as low as being a “one man circle jerk.”The genius statements never stop coming at the NYTimes. Brilliant one there, Keller. Keep thinking that right until you get canned. What a moron.
National Journal notes that blogging is quite on the rise.
"Bloggers as News Media Trophy Hunters," The New York Times headlined on February 14, in a story that was picked up across the country. "Some in the traditional media are growing alarmed," the story said, "as they watch careers being destroyed by what they see as the growing power of rampant, unedited dialogue."Andrew Sullivan recently wrote, in a pretty-good piece, Society is dead, we have retreated into the iWorld.
Rampant, unedited dialogue! Mercy me, what is democracy coming to?
And why are we having all this intra-media warfare, anyway? Because we can, and because it's good for us. Anyone who isn't exhilarated by the bloggers and the havoc they're wreaking has lost touch with what American journalism at its best has always been about: making trouble to get at the truth.
Technology has given us a universe entirely for ourselves — where the serendipity of meeting a new stranger, hearing a piece of music we would never choose for ourselves or an opinion that might force us to change our mind about something are all effectively banished.A Wired article asks if things aren't about to shift wildly in favor of right-brained individuals.
A confirmation here: Hariri Assassins Said to Come From Iraq
An opinion piece in Arab News apologizes for Syria:
If Syria began pulling out in earnest tomorrow and cut ties with Beirut, where does that leave tiny Lebanon, especially if the new Israeli-Palestinian détente turns sour? What if unfriendly influences fomented a new civil war, just as they did before? Who will step in then? The Americans, who are leading the charge, perhaps or, its client state, the Israelis? The Syrians would no doubt tell them “on your bike”. It isn’t that Syria shouldn’t leave its neighbor but that the timing is wrong. First, let’s wave goodbye to Iraq’s invaders and witness the Middle East peace process reaching fruition. Then, if Syria still insisted on hanging around where it isn’t wanted, it should, indeed, be hauled in front of the UN Security Council with all that could follow.Who will take care of all those poor pitiful Lebanese when the Syrians leave? What drivel.
Once again, Syria is not the aggressor here. Imad Mustapha, the Syrian ambassador in Washington asserted that: “Syria is trying to engage constructively with the United States. We are not enemies of the United States and we don’t want to be drawn into such an enmity.” With the specter of Iraq as a precedent, Syria appears to be hedging its bets and forming closer ties with Iran, currently accused of enriching uranium for weapons purposes. Russia seems to be lining up with them both and is set to supply Syria with advanced missiles.
It is time for the Lebanese to decide where they stand during these threatening times. Their choices are thus. They can go shoulder to shoulder with their Syrian cousins, or trust the Americans and the Israelis to secure their safety and future prosperity? Sadly, either way they could be losers in a world where winners are inevitably the ones with the biggest bombs and hardest hearts.
Apparently, the Lebanese agree with me: Thousands in Lebanon Protest Government
Across the Bay is a blog from a writer in Syria, which I have just added to my newsreader. Excellent.
The BBC reports the price paid for blogging Iran.
Chrenkoff interviews Michael Ledeen. Way to go Chrenk!
Bush in Europe
Discarded Lies asksIs Europe Starting To Love A Cowboy?
New Sisyphus has a line-by-line analysis of Bush's speech today in Brussels.
Sen Rockefeller, the Vice chairman of the intellligence committee, thinks half of Russia's nuclear materials are unaccounted for. Doesn't seem like good news at all.
The Blue State Conservatives has a greatroundup of conservative blog opinion from blue states. Great stuff.
And I'm out . . .
February 21, 2005
THE GOD COMPLEX I
He was a loner obsessed by guns and explosives. A social outcast, he developed a "lurid fascination" with Columbine High School killers Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold. And on February 13, 24 year-old Robert Bonelli, Jr. entered the Hudson Valley Mall in Kingston, New York, and fired 60 rounds from a Hesse AK-47 into crowds of shoppers. Miraculously, no one was killed.
People in Iraq were not so lucky. Last weekend, suicide bombers murdered over 60 people, most of them Shia worshippers observing Ashura. These attacks were but the latest in an ongoing series of homicidal martyrdoms carried out by Arab Muslims in places ranging from Iraq to Israel to lower Manhattan.
Despite their geographic and cultural distance, killers like Bonelli, Harris and Klebold share numerous characteristics with suicide bombers. They choose death over life; attention over anonymity; the ecstasy of violence over the frustrations of daily life—and view other human beings as stage props in a drama in which they play the starring role. In short, they exhibit a narcissism so malignant it seems to consume their egos in a monstrous will-to-power. Rejecting human limitations, they desire instead the infinite, the omnipotent, the transcendent. Seeking the unlimited, they embrace death.
Take, for instance, the shaheed. He or she belongs to a culture, as Syrian scholar Sadik Al-Azm wrote in a recent essay, which has not come to grips with its decline and fall.
[A]s Arabs and Muslims, we continue to imagine ourselves as conquerors, history-makers, pace setters, pioneers and leaders of world-historic proportions.When this grandiose self-image collides with the “impotence, frustration and insignificance” of the actual Arab-Muslim world
a host of problems ensues: massive inferiority complexes, huge compensatory delusions, wild adventurism, political recklessness, desperate violence and, lately, large-scale terrorism.We have heard much about the Muslim-Arab sense of inferiority; few observers, however, consider the flip side of this complex: feelings of superiority. And indeed, deep within the Muslim-Arab weltanschauung lurks a sense of grandiosity fueled by oil wealth and the parochial nature of tribalism. Recently, Hasan Mahmaud, a member of the Muslim Canadian Congress told me “Arabs have been made to live an unreal existence by their leaders. They give us a picture that we are still the center of the world.”
Exacerbating this self-aggrandizement is Islam—a religion that stresses its spiritual and doctrinal superiority, while enjoining its followers to “kill the infidels wherever you find them.” As Sayyid Qutb wrote in his salafist manifesto, Milestones,
Islamic society is, by its very essence, the only civilized society, and the jahili [infidel, ignorant] societies, in all their various forms, are backwards societies. It is necessary to elucidate this great truth.And to kill those who won’t accept it.
For most of Islam’s existence, cultural bonds - music, food, customs, family ties—ameliorated this grandiosity and rooted Muslims in everyday life. Beginning with the rise of Wahhabism in the late 17th century, however, radical strains of Islam began to attack traditional culture as ignorant and deluded. These assaults increased as the Muslim world fell further behind the West. Islam was not responsible for this backwardness, many argued: rather, it was secular society. “Islam is the solution,” claimed intellectuals like Qutb, Maududi and Al-Banna. “Islam is the answer.”
Over the last 25 years, Muslim immigrants have spread across the globe, particularly into Western countries. Surrounded by alien cultures often at odds with their traditional ways of life, many rely on Islam to provide the main organizing principle of their identities. But a new kind of Islam, argues French scholar Olivier Roy in his recent book Globalized Islam: the Search for a New Ummah—a radicalized, “deculturalized” religion freed from specific ethnic and national customs. An Islam that particularly appeals
to an uprooted, disaffect youth in search of an identity beyond the local cultures of their parents and beyond the thwarted expectations of a better life in the West.Promulgated in cyberspace, this 21st century Islam is a “dream that finds on the internet its virtual existence. Websites and chat rooms compensate for the lack of real social roots.” Recruiters of suicide bombers look precisely for these young men and women: confused but secretly grandiose souls who find fulfillment in a never-never land of pure Islam—or an Islam realizable only on the web, where the boundary between the limited self and infinite cyberspace identity is increasingly blurred. Add to this the supremacy complex and it makes for some an irresistible temptation to slip the bonds of ego for the paradise of immortality.
But why violence? Because without limits, channels, cultural and traditional restrains, narcissism turns to power, power to domination and violence. When Bonelli stood in that New York mall, armed with an assault weapon—did he not feel for a moment like God, bestower of life and death? When a suicide bomber sits on a crowded bus and contemplates his soon-to-be victims, does he not feel an exhilarating power over the fate of so many people? What sense of godhood flitted through Mohammad Atta’s mind as the World Trade Center came into view? That the Bonellis, Klebolds and Harrises act out of a sense of resentment while the shahadah justifies his or her actions in the name of Allah makes no difference. In the end, both extremes meet in the void beyond the human ego. The Arabs, in fact, have a word for this: haram. It means at once the divine and the obscene, and implies the worst possible of all desires: to become God.
[Starting today, author Steven Vincent returns to The Adventures of Chester on a more regular basis -- once or twice a week. Don't miss his blog In the Red Zone, or his book by the same name, in the sidebar.]
Look for things to start slipping into the press this week about the content of Goss's plan to strengthen the CIA.
Goss will stress, as he did last year, that he wants to get more people overseas, "in the field," including not just clandestine officers but also knowledgeable analysts, one senior administration official said yesterday. His plan will focus on recruiting more officers and analysts who "look, sound and talk like" the groups being spied on, so that they "can have close access and learn plans and intentions," the official added.Meanwhile, here's some background on the new Deputy Director of National Intelligence, John Negroponte's second in command, Lieutenant General Michael Hayden.
Bush Goes to Europe
Stories and links about Bush's trip to Europe this week:
Bush's Grand Tour: Gerard Baker at the Weekly Standard wonders if Bush isn't walking into a trap.
What is new is a growing commitment by the leaders of Europe to implement a global strategy that will actively block the United States from pursuing its goal of combating tyranny.Transatlantic Intelligencer points to a sign of this chasm in relations in Inveterate Arte: A Sign of Respect?
James Kitfield in National Journal wonders if a second term will give Bush a second chance to make a first impression.
And Mark Steyn writes that the only thing the President must remember is not to giggle at how silly European policies are.
And now the President himself is on his way, staying up all night on Air Force One trying to master the official State Department briefing paper on the European Rapid Reaction Force, the European Constitution, the European negotiations with Iran, etc. ("When these subjects come up, US policy is to nod politely and try not to giggle. If you feel a massive hoot of derision coming on, duck out to the men's room, but without blaming it on the escargots.") The French Foreign Minister took to calling the US Secretary of State "chre Condi" every 30 seconds. It's doubtful if the French President will go that far, but, if he does, the White House line is that Mr Bush is happy to play Renee Zellweger to Chirac's Tom Cruise ("You had me at bonjour").
Steyn points to a recent CIA study which says the European Union will break-up within 15 years unless it radically reforms its ailing welfare systems.
Denis Boyles offers the President a guide on what to say to the Europeans.
1. Get a job . . .Meanwhile, Daniel Blumenthal and Thomas Donnelly, two scholars at the American Enterprise Institute, ask, "Why is Europe Eager to Sell Arms to China?"
2. Clean up your mess . . .
3. Stop taking bribes . . .
4. Since you cant defend yourselves, get out of our way . . .
5. Knock off the eco-hypocrisy . . .
6. Start a No European Left Behind program . . .
7. Jacques, Gerhard, get a better campaign issue . . .
The European Union is on the verge of lifting the arms embargo it imposed on the Peoples Republic of China following the 1989 Tiananmen Square massacre. If the E.U. carries out this threat - and make no mistake, this would be a genuinely hostile act against the United States -- the transatlantic tiffs of recent years could come to seem minor, and Bush could be saying a final farewell to old allies rather than renewing strategic bonds.
The missing pieces of the PLA puzzle are exactly the sorts of command and control, communications, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance systems that the Europeans are getting ready to sell. These are the same technologies that make the U.S. military so effective, having been developed initially for NATO operations. Lifting the embargo would thus mean that, in a future flare-up with Beijing such as the cross-straits crisis over Taiwan in 1996 or Chinas 2001 downing of an American EP-3 surveillance aircraft, U.S. soldiers would find themselves going up against an adversary armed with NATO technology.
The immediate objective of the PLAs modernization effort is the subjugation, either by intimidation or direct military action, of Taiwan. But the larger target is the United States and its position as the guarantor of freedom and stability in the region -- what the Chinese government calls American hegemony. Beijing wants to develop the military capacity to deter the United States and its regional allies from acting in Asia. Lifting the embargo will go a long way toward helping the Chinese reach that goal.
Some links about China you should see:
By Dawn's Early Light examines the political maneuvering in East Asia as Japan and the US affirm their security relationship.
The Faces of G also discusses political maneuvering in East Asia. Strange times we live in indeed.
This Newsmax article notes that
China's future course in the world is among the four most important issues the Bush administration is considering as it develops a new national security strategy, a top Pentagon official said Thursday.
February 20, 2005
Fallujah: The Music Video
Hat-tip to American Digest for hosting this video by a Tank/Infantry/Engineer Team that fought together in Fallujah. My favorite scene is the Mic-Lic. nearly two-thousand pounds of C4 all being towed by a small rocket and probably clearing a path through a booby-trapped street. Awesome.
The insurgents are starting to negotiate
U.S. diplomats and intelligence officers are conducting secret talks with Iraq's Sunni insurgents on ways to end fighting there, Time magazine reported on Sunday, citing Pentagon and other sources.Powerline notes:
The Bush administration has said it would not negotiate with Iraqi fighters and there is no authorized dialogue but the U.S. is having "back-channel" communications with certain insurgents, unidentified Washington and Iraqi sources told the magazine.
The so-called insurgency has long consisted of two main elements, the al Qaeda-linked terrorists, most of whom are not Iraqis, and Baathist Sunnis whose objectives are more narrowly political. It sounds as though some of the latter group, at least, are ready to throw in the towel. Their violence had two main strategic objectives: first, to prevent President Bush from being re-elected; second, to prevent the Iraqi election from going forward. Both failed. If they give up, the terrorists will be isolated and can much more easily be defeated.
Powerline also draws attention to another AP story, "Sunnis Seek Place in New Iraqi Government:"
Just west of the capital, U.S. Marines and Iraqi security forces launched a joint operation to crack down on insurgents and terrorists in several troubled cities, the military said.This is significant. While hard-core former Ba'athists make up the secular side of the insurgency, they cannot operate, or maybe even exist, without the support, active, tacit or otherwise, of Sunni religious and political groups. If these groups see themselves as losing in the long run, they will pressure the military elements of the insurgency to continue negotiations.
The operation was underway in several Euphrates River cities in Anbar province, including Heet, Baghdad, Hadithah and the provincial capital Ramadi, where authorities imposed a nighttime curfew, the military said.
Meanwhile, a powerful Sunni organization believed to have ties with the insurgents sought Sunday to condemn the weekend attacks that left nearly 100 Iraqis dead.
"We won't remain silent over those crimes which target the Iraqi people Sunnis or Shiites, Islamic or non-Islamic," Sheik Harith al-Dhari, of the Association Muslim Scholars, told a news conference.
Iraqis, he said, should unite "against those who are trying to incite hatred between us."
Wretchard at Belmont Club has his own take:
The available data suggests that the Sunni insurgents are still capable of showing strength within their strongholds and menacing traffic on the Baghdad streets. However, even within their bailiwicks, their capabilities are not decisive. They have been unable to impede or even delay the political goals set by the US as evidenced by their failure to stop the January 30 elections. Moreover, they are unable to project any significant combat power in Shi'ite and Kurdish areas. Faced with the loss of oil revenues, a growing Iraqi security force and the gradual depletion of their stored weapons and suffering a terrible attrition rate their relative power is irretrievably on the wane.A close examination of the original Time story, Talking with the Enemy is in order. Notable excerpts . . . first, it was the insurgents themselves that tipped off Time that they are talking:
An account of the secret meeting between the senior insurgent negotiator and the U.S. military officials was provided to TIME by the insurgent negotiator. He says two such meetings have taken place. While U.S. officials would not confirm the details of any specific meetings . . .Time does its best to leave things unclear as to who has initiated the negotiations, and whether it is a sign of weakness for either side. Is it the US that is war-weary?
Over the course of the war in Iraq, as the anti-U.S. resistance has grown in size and intensity, Administration officials have been steadfast in their refusal to negotiate with enemy fighters. But in recent months, the persistence of the fighting and signs of division in the ranks of the insurgency have prompted some U.S. officials to seek a political solution.Or is it the enemy?
But in interviews with TIME, senior Iraqi insurgent commanders said several "nationalist" rebel groups--composed predominantly of ex--military officers and what the Pentagon dubs "former regime elements"--have moved toward a strategy of "fight and negotiate." Although they have no immediate plans to halt attacks on U.S. troops, they say their aim is to establish a political identity that can represent disenfranchised Sunnis and eventually negotiate an end to the U.S. military's offensive in the Sunni triangle. Their model is Sinn Fein, the political wing of the Irish Republican Army, which ultimately earned the I.R.A. a role in the Northern Ireland peace process. "That's what we're working for, to have a political face appear from the battlefield, to unify the groups, to resist the aggressor and put our views to the people," says a battle commander in the upper tiers of the insurgency who asked to be identified by his nom de guerre, Abu Marwan. Another negotiator, called Abu Mohammed, told TIME, "Despite what has happened, the possibility for negotiation is still open."Whoever has begun the talks, it seems clear that side negotiating from a position of weakness is the enemy. Their forces are being attrited, their funds and weapons caches are being seized, and they have failed to break the will of the Americans.
From the enemy standpoint, there are two choices: they can continue on, effecting some level of instability in Baghdad and Anbar province, but having little power in either -- all the while fearing that the elected government will make an Iran-inspired theocratic shift, or, they can negotiate their way into participating in politics and take their chances that they might retain some minor semblance of their former power.
The key to the negotiations is the new Iraqi government. It will be the ultimate arbiter between a rejection of any claims of the Ba'athists, or an accomodation such that they will be included in the government.
What good is it to attempt to include them? Is this a failure? Does it mean we are floundering in our attempts to destroy the insurgency? These are certainly the narratives that will be spun in the press to explain such a move, but they are true not in the slightest. Many, many positives can come from some form of political inclusion of the Sunnis:
1. The legitimacy of the new government will increase dramatically.
2. By merely negotiating with the insurgents, the US and Iraqi government can gather information about its leadership and the centralized or decentralized nature of its organization. For example, if we request that some act be taken in good faith, whether or not the insurgent commander is able to guarantee it and then have it done indictates what he is in charge of vs what he is not.
3. If the Sunni/Ba'athist side of the insurgency can be included in the political process in some way -- some careful tightrope arrangement between the poles of having former Ba'athists actually in the government and that of having them only mildly associated with it and still controlling attacks by subordinates, then there is a great prize to be had: they can be co-opted and can give up information on the other side of the insugency. The other side is the "mayhem" side, the Zarqawi/Al Qaeda side, the religious side. What level of coordination does it possess with the Ba'athists? Can the Ba'athists give it up?
These are the questions that will drive negotiations and their outcome.
Meanwhile, the US is continuing to tighten the screws on the Sunni Triangle.
Iraqi, U.S. Forces Kick Off Operation River BlitzWhether this is a limited operation, or something more substantial like Plymouth Rock remains to be seen . . .
The 1st Marine Division of the I Marine Expeditionary Force and Iraqi Security Forces kicked off Operation River Blitz, which includes a curfew from 8 p.m. to 6 a.m. and other measures to enhance security in and around Ramadi.
“We were asked by the Iraqi government to increase our security operations in the city to locate, isolate and defeat anti-Iraqi forces and terrorists who are intent on preventing a peaceful transition of power between the Interim Iraqi Government and the Iraqi Transitional Government,” said Maj. Gen. Richard F. Natonski, commanding general, 1st Marine Division, I Marine Expeditionary Force.
The security measures in and around the provincial capital are designed to ensure the safety of the populace by controlling access into the city. Access control points leading into the city will screen vehicles for terrorists and criminals as well as weapons, munitions and materials to produce improvised-explosive devices.
In conjunction with implementing the security measures in Ramadi, increased security operations also began in several cities along the Euphrates River, including the cities of Hit, Baghdadi and Hadithah.
Iran Week in Review from www.regimechangeiran.com
[I've made a deal with Dr. Zin at the Regime Change Iran blog for this week's roundup of Iran news and analysis to be double-posted here. Regime Change Iran is an excellent blog and is growing in stature in the blogosphere.]
DoctorZin provides a brief week in review on the major news events affecting Iran.
The Iranian Threat:
- An important distinction has appeared between the US and some of the Europeans. While President Bush is speaking the language of freedom and human rights (traditional European concerns) Germany’s Schroeder speaks of stability and is silent on freedom.
- The Europeans are pushing on recognition of the state of Israel, but Iran has flatly rejected these demands. On the issue of Iran’s heavy water reactor
(which are universally used for production of plutonium), Iran is
rejecting any EU3 discussions on closing this facility, saying they want to be an exporter of enriched uranium.
- Once again, the WTO has rejected Iran’s application for membership. France wants the US to reconsider its opposition to it.
- Bush makes it clear to the Europeans that military action against is not our first choice.
More evidence of a growing popular struggle inside of Iran.
- Iran will produce an atomic bomb exclaims a Hezbollah leader.
- This week the media was focused on a mysterious blast reported in southern Iran many suspected was the result of an unmanned drone attack. Iran denies it was attacked. Chester has some interesting observations.
- Iran tried to call for a “common front” to confront the US efforts in the region. It fell on deaf ears and even Syria tried to back away from it.
- A nuclear fuel deal with Russia is imminent. But Iran has begun mining uranium ore for a new facility. They already of 500 tons of uranium ore and will not be dependent on Russia for its uranium fuel.
- Israel claims that Iran will know how to build their own nuclear bombs in less than 6 months.
- New satellite images show tunnel construction at the Esfahan facility.
- U.S. General reminds us that Iran is a threat in the Persian Gulf.
- There were more anti-regime demonstrations in Iran this week. But as a result, the Mullahs retaliated by cutting off the offending city's natural gas. It is still winter...
- Proof that Iranians no longer support their regime can be seen in their refusal to participate in their elections. In the last election, only 12% bothered to vote.
Much of the world pretends Iran is a democracy. At the time, of the
last election, the world media largely failed to report this story.
Many claim the Iranians refused to vote because they are not free to
elect leaders of their own choosing (Iran’s religious clerics approve
the candidates they want the people to choose from and thus keep a
strangle hold on the government). Iran’s next presidential election is scheduled to occur on June 17th. This time when the people of Iran refuse to participate in these phony elections the world will be watching.
- There is further evidence that Iranians are largely pro US and pro Bush. A sample quote from this report: Tehran University student who said,"The Iranian people support President Bush because he supports our cause. As long President Bush stands with the Iranian people, the Iranian people will stand with him."
- Roger L Simon, film producer, writer, and popular blogger can now add revolutionary to his resume. He has come out in support of the Iranian people’s quest for a referendum
on their form of government. This blog and others are currently
preparing a major blogosphere campaign in support of this. Stay tuned.
- UPI produced some interesting facts about Iranian bloggers.
- Iranians appear to be increasingly convinced that the US is going to cause a regime change in Iran. IPS weighs in as well.
- Michael Ledeen, writes: These Are Revolutionary Times. Faster Please, President Bush.
Odd and Ends:
- Who is Ayatollah Sistani of Iraq? The Times provide a glimpse of this important US ally and his website.
- Jihadism appears to be in retreat in Iraq.
- Is freedom on the move in Lebanon?
The murder this past week of former Lebanonese prime minister Rafiq
Hariri has put the spotlight on Syria and its meddling in Lebanon. The
evidence appears to point to Syria as the culprit in the murder. Some
are speculating that Hariri was preparing a coup to oust the Syrians
from the country. Reports are coming in of popular demonstrations in the streets of Lebanon for Syria to leave.
If this movement gains momentum and Syria is forced out, it will
seriously weaken this ally of Iran. – See the report from the Belmont Club and Amir Taheri.
- Maureen Dowd of the NY Times drove some Iranians crazy this past week when she denied that Iran is a totalitarian state.
- The American Thinker published a report of Iran’s Supreme leader, Ayatollah Khamenei, in his own words. It is long but well worth reading.
- More Iranian TV Video Clips - MemriTV.org.
- And finally, I have produced a list of interesting quotes of week.
February 17, 2005
The next time I update my blogroll, it will definitely include this one: Publius Pundit - Blogging the democratic revolution. This blog is dedicated to "finding stories and commentary from news sources and blogs from all over the world relating to the progress of free, democratic elections. It encourages its readers and other bloggers to submit relevant links for posting, as this aims to be a blog that networks many specialized blogs in a common cause." Looks like great work there so far. Publius has a great international blogroll too.
First Lieutenant Pantano
Marine Lieutenant Pantano has been charged with pre-meditated murder for shooting two insurgents in Iraq in April of 2004. This has been all over the talk radio stations today and seems poised to take off in the blogosphere as well. Van Mendenhall offers his take on matters:
Both these cases bear similarities to the NYC Police shooting of a man whom the police had stopped, but then decided to run. Again they stopped the man, at which point the man turned around, reached inside his jacket in the same manner as if going for a gun in a shoulder holster. At this point, the cops open fire and killed him. But the man was unarmed and it turned out he was reaching for his wallet. The cops had order him to stop and put his hands up. Twice the man refused to comply.Meanwhile, WorldNetDaily notes that the very same Lt. Pantano was quoted for by a Time magazine article, also during April of 2004.
Note here that a suspect rapidly reaching for his wallet is exactly the same action as reaching for a gun. In this case, the cops were charged and found not guilty. The point is that in such a situation, a cop or a soldier has only a split second to make a life or death situation. And while it is reasonable that a cop who works in a civilian environment should have his actions closely examined, it is completely irrational to apply this standard to war. One would think that the military would understand this and behave accordingly. Alas, not, apparently because they are caving to media pressure.
The Marine Corps officer charged with murder for killing two Iraqi insurgents was featured last spring in a gripping, first-hand account by an embedded Time magazine reporter who illustrated the hair-trigger intensity U.S. fighters endured facing an increasingly sophisticated foe on the outskirts of Fallujah.More about the incident:
The story showed 2nd Lt. Ilario Pantano's deep frustration with high-level decisions as forces preparing in late April for an onslaught of the terrorist-stronghold were ordered to pull back . . .
Pantano was among the many in Easy Company who, according to Quinn-Judge, "viewed the decision as a retreat from the U.S. pledge to drive the 'bad guys' out of Fallujah."
The story quotes Pantano saying: "Does this remind you of another part of the world in the early '70s?" referring to the U.S. withdrawal from Vietnam.
The Time reporter said that while it was understood the decision provided an opportunity for the Iraqis to prove they can take control of their own security, the Marines "felt angry, frustrated and deeply skeptical that the deal would work."
"As they packed up their equipment and cleared out from their forward operating base, they were fuming," the reporter wrote.
Despite the agreement, the Marines still were taking heavy fire from the insurgents.
"This is so surreal," Pantano said, after being briefed on the agreement. "I had to write it down in my journal to make sure I wasn't making it up."
Prior to the decision to pull out, Quinn-Judge recounted how Pantano, as platoon commander, led his men to the southern edge of Fallujah to help destroy two bunkers insurgents were using to fire on their positions.
Pantano's attorney, Charles Gittins, emphasizing the high casualty rate at the time, said the April 15 incident took place when the officer's quick-reaction battalion was dispatched to capture an arms cache at an insurgent hideaway. After finding weapons, the Marines stopped two Iraqis fleeing in an SUV by shooting out the vehicles tires.
Pantano, armed with an M-16, had the Iraqis search the vehicle in case it was booby trapped. While performing the search, the Marine said he heard the two men talking among themselves then saw them turn.
The lieutenant thought the Iraqis were coming at him and ordered them in Arabic to stop. When they didn't obey, Pantano shot them with "many rounds," according to Gittins.
The lawyer acknowledged the Iraqis turned out to be unarmed, but insists his client didn't know it at the time.
Pantano immediately reported the incident to his superiors and an internal investigation cleared him, allowing him to continue in combat duty for another three months. After returning to Camp Lejeune, however, he learned he had been accused by a subordinate Gittins describes as a "disgruntled" sargeant who had experienced "difficulties" in the unit.
Here's all kinds of stuff that might have slipped under your radar:
A medic in the Washington State National Guard was recently awarded the Silver Star for saving the lives of several Iraqi soldiers caught with him in an ambush on a convoy on November 2nd.
Spirit of America is hiring. Openings include a VP for Project Management and a VP for Communications, among others. All are based in Los Angeles.
The city of Dubai, in the United Arab Emirates, plans to add 500 miles of man-made coastline in a very large public development project to be bigger than Manhattan.
Here's a good account of one company of Light Armored Infantry that is taking the long way home from Iraq after fighting in Fallujah.
caliber50 is a new blog by another former Marine officer -- a tanker. Stop by and check it out.
One of the bloggers at I Should Have Stayed Home tells of an ethical dilemma he recently encountered:
I had detailed information that someone would be kidnapped and executed the next morning, and that it would be carried out by someone they knew (whether through work or family or friendship I'll leave out). But I wasn't allowed to provide the person the details because doing so would compromise the source, and end more lives. So I called up this person out of the blue, with the barest minimal warning: "You are going to be kidnapped tomorrow morning, leave your home tonight and trust nobody." Naturally, they were skeptical. "Thanks very much, but I can take care of myself." I had the information that would have convinced them otherwise, but couldn't release it. Nor did I have time or ability to get to them in person or interdict the kidnappers.I just love that blog. Everything they write about is interesting.
Another blogger in Iraq, Cigars in the Sand writes about intimidation's effects on his Iraqi coworkers.
The Regime Change Iran blog, which I read every day, notes in a detailed post that blogging is incredibly popular in Iran.
Some observers say the gathering revolution will be blogged, not televised.
The blog NKzone.org, which I read every day by the way, offers an interesting take on the possibility of a food shortage in North Korea.
US Increases Military Pressure on Syria
The Middle East Newswire reports that
the White House has endorsed a plan that would grant U.S. troops the right of pursuit of Iraqi insurgents into Syria. They said the plan also included greater efforts along the Iraqi-Syrian border to block the flow of insurgents and weapons into Iraq.This move has been in the works for some time. Last month we discussed various options for Syria (here, here, and here) and noted that some were pushing for incursions into Syrian territory. Looks like a less aggressive option was chosen, which includes allowing US fires to cross into Syrian territory, though not troops (or will they in small numbers . . .).
"We will continue to make it clear to both Syria and Iran that meddling in the internal affairs of Iraq is not in their interests," Bush said.
The plan does not call for an invasion or attack on Syria, officials said. Instead, the plan stipulated the deployment of additional air and ground assets meant to detect and strike infiltrators from Syria. They said the policy would allow U.S. troops to shoot suspected infiltrators, even while they were on Syrian territory.
1. Diplomatic pressure on Syria ongoing for months.
2. Recall US ambassador in wake of bombing in Lebanon.
3. Announce more aggressive defense posture vs. Syria-based enemies in Iraq.
1. Kill former PM of Lebanon.
2. Make a defense pact with Iran.
The US announcement shows that the US is not willing to cede the initiative in its overall diplomatic and military judo-match against Syria.
What next? What countermoves might Syria attempt, and what further initiatives might the US begin?
One thing is certain: while it may seem that Syria was on the back-burner in the White House for a while -- and this may only be a perception, as diplomacy is not always visible -- it and Iran are now clearly in the front of the President's field of vision.
February 16, 2005
The Technical Collection Game and the Strange Reports from Iran
How to reconcile seemingly conflicting information emerging from Iran -- or rather from the space wherein lies the US-Iranian relationship?
The story started in the Washington Post on Sunday. The Post gave a valiant attempt to throw the story in favor of the Iranians, noting that since they decided not to engage the US drones, the US was unable to gather information about the Iranian air defenses:
"It was clear to our air force that the entire intention here was to get us to turn on our radar," the official said.This is all true -- if the Iranians didn't turn on their air defenses, then the US probably didn't gather much new info about them.
That tactic, designed to contribute information to what the military calls an "enemy order of battle," was used by the U.S. military in the Korean and Vietnam wars, against the Soviets and the Chinese, and in both Iraq wars.
"By coaxing the Iranians to turn on their radar, we can learn all about their defense systems, including the frequencies they are operating on, the range of their radar and, of course, where their weaknesses lie," said Thomas Keaney, a retired U.S. Air Force colonel and executive director of the Foreign Policy Institute at Johns Hopkins University.
But it did not work. "The United States must have forgotten that they trained half our guys," the Iranian official said. After a briefing by their air force three weeks ago, Iran's national security officials ordered their forces not to turn on the radar or come into contact with the drones in any way.
"Our decision was: Don't engage," the Iranian official said. Leaving the radar off deprives U.S. forces of vital information about the country's air defense system, but it also makes it harder for Iran to tell if an attack is underway.
But to imply an advantage for Iran here is misleading. The US has infiltrated Iranian airspace with no response. Moreover, either the Iranians took their sweet time in noticing, or the US started small and slowly escalated the extent and coverage of the infiltration. The Post mentions that the US began in April of 2004, but has had aircraft over Iran as recently as December, 2004 and January of 2005. But the Iranian National Security Council didn't decide not to engage them until January, 2005?
Moreover, whether information about air defenses was a goal or not, the US has no doubt gathered a great deal of useful intelligence of a variety of kinds. One of the best ways to test an enemy's defense is to go through a series of posturing moves designed to test his reactions. In so doing, the US would ratchet up its activity to a feverish pace, then quit with no warning, then hit it again in different spots, then back off slowly, etc. By performing intelligence collection in unexpected ways, one can systematically test the defenses of one's quarry. Perhaps nothing was gained about air defenses, but there are many other things of interest. When combined with signals collection, for example, these incursions would be very useful for mapping command and control networks. Who calls whom when a drone appears? Who does that person then call?
A betting man would place good money that Iran's airspace isn't the only place where such incursions and challenges are taking place . . . testing Iran's naval activity around Bushehr would be my first guess . . . and US subs would be the vehicle for doing so.
But it gets even more interesting . . .
Note this Newsmax article, Iran Okayed U.S. Drone Flights:
A senior Iranian diplomat tells NewsMax that a recent report in the Washington Post that the U.S. had been spying on their nuclear facilities using drones was not news to them - the Iranian government had quietly given the U.S. the OK to make the overflights.Strange, eh? More:
NewsMax has leaned that the U.S. surveillance flights came up dry and may have since been suspended, at least temporarily.
Some suspect that Tehran halted activity and sanitized sites where weapons research was underway before the U.S. began flying the drones.
So, rather than exacerbating tensions between Washington and Tehran, the flights have actually undercut any Bush administration moves against Iran, at least for the time being.
Perhaps the Iranian official is just playing the Farsi version of the CYA game. But if he's honest . . . why would the US telegraph its plans to overfly with drones?
To map this out, the Bush Administration asked Tehran for permission for the overflights, presumably from a position of "since you have nothing to hide anyway . . ." If I was Iranian and wanted to hide what I was doing, I would immediately begin a frenzy of activity. This activity could then be watched by satellites before any drones even started flying. After discovering that we were about to begin the flights, how did vehicle traffic change around key sites? What phone calls were made to whom? What equipment was moved, and to where? And at day or night? And by whom? How long did any displacement take? A wealth of information could have been gained merely be releasing that we were about to start flying, and then to watch and see what happened . . .
NewsMax reports that the flights found little of consequence. Why would this be released? Whether true or not, it certainly serves to embolden the Iranians, who have been led to believe that the flights found nothing, and that the flights have ceased. So perhaps they have, but they've been replaced by other means of collection to see the consequences.
I seriously doubt that the US made the move to put several drones over Iranian airspace all the while thinking that the Iranians would never notice . . .
How might the Iranians react next time?
Another NewsMax story, Iran Now Threatens to Shoot Down U.S. Drones, notes thus:
Iran's intelligence chief on Wednesday accused the United States of flying spy drones over its nuclear sites and threatened to shoot down the unmanned surveillance crafts.More:
Intelligence Minister Ali Yunesi comments backed a report in The Washington Post on Sunday that quoted unnamed U.S. officials as saying the drones have been flying over Iran for nearly a year to seek evidence of nuclear weapons programs.
In December, the Iranian air force was ordered to shoot down any unknown flying objects. At the time, there were reports in Iranian newspapers that Iran had discovered spying devices in pilotless planes its air defense force had shot down.So here, we learn that the Iranians claim to have shot down some drones -- which refutes the Post's assertion that nothing was gained for the US by this venture. I think it is more likely that the Iranians did not shoot anything down, but that this is bluster meant for their own domestic consumption . . .
"If any of the bright objects come close, they will definitely meet our fire and will be shot down. We possess the necessary equipment to confront them," Yunesi said.
How might the US execute a collection mission next? If the Iranians refuse to shoot drones, then the US will probably begin to play games with manned aircraft. Since we effectively own the airspace over the Persian Gulf, and Iraq, and Afghanistan, one tactic would be to increase significantly the number and tempo of flights of manned aircraft getting very close to the Iranian border, so that the Iranians will become desensitized to the US presences, and then . . . slower to react when the planes don't just get near the border, but break it in the midst of their targeting runs . . .
"Blog" mentioned on Senate floor for first time in history today
Sen John Cornyn (R-TX) (hat-tip: PoliPundit):
THE NEWS MEDIA, OF COURSE, IS THE MAIN WAY THAT PEOPLE GET INFORMATION ABOUT GOVERNMENT. THE MEDIA PUSHES GOVERNMENT ENTITIES AND ELECTED OFFICIALS, BUREAUCRATS AND AGENCIES TO RELEASE INFORMATION THE PEOPLE HAVE THE RIGHT TO KNOW. OCCASIONALLY EXPOSING WASTE, FRAUD, AND ABUSE, AND HOPEFULLY MORE OFTEN THAN THAT, LETTING THE AMERICAN PEOPLE KNOW WHAT A GOOD JOB THEIR PUBLIC OFFICIALS ARE DOING.I presume wasn't yelling, by the way. The transcript is just in all caps.
BUT WE'VE ALSO SEEN IN RECENT YEARS THE EXPANSION OF OTHER OUTLETS FOR SHARING INFORMATION OUTSIDE THE MAINSTREAM MEDIA, TO ONLINE COMMUNITIES, DISCUSSION GROUPS AND BLOGS.
I BELIEVE ALL THESE OUTLETS ARE -- CAN AND DO CONTRIBUTE TO THE HEALTH OF OUR POLITICAL DEMOCRACY. BUT LET ME MAKE THIS CLEAR, MR. PRESIDENT, THIS IS NOT JUST A BILL FOR THE MEDIA, LEST ANYBODY BE CONFUSED. THIS IS A BILL THAT WILL BENEFIT EVERY MAN, WOMAN AND CHILD IN THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA WHO CARES ABOUT THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT, CARES ABOUT HOW THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT OPERATES, AND ULTIMATELY CARES ABOUT THE SUCCESS OF THIS GREAT DEMOCRACY.
The Major Media Continues to Show Itself as a Large Slow-moving Oaf Around Blogs. You Just Can't Make This Stuff Up
For every good sign that major media won't die a horrible death like this:
“Connected” will respond directly to viewers’ comments and questions, and provide the experts and analysis to help viewers get the questions they ask answered. Reagan and Crowley will also contribute blogs to their website, Connected.MSNBC.com; the site will feature guest blogs, video blogs and citizen journalists, who will be featured on the site and on-air.There is an equally disturbing one like this[Truly a must read. Check out the whole thing.]:
NOTE to those of you who normally skip the Tulsa stuff here: Please read this entry. This is not just about the sordid little world of Tulsa politics. This is the old media trying to intimidate their critics in the new media into silence. It has repercussions for any blogger engaged in media criticism. It strikes at the heart of what blogs do. I'd appreciate your help in putting the blogosphere's spotlight of shame on this legal threat.Hat-tip to Daniel Drezner yet again, who is so kind as to provide a link to the email address of the Tulsa World.
By the way, USMC_Vet over at The Word Unheard plans to offer a critique of the new MSNBC show shortly, I believe ("Psst! USMC_Vet! Wake up! I'm sending traffic your way!")
Personally, I just set TiVo to record the show. Looks to be a creative attempt to incorporate blogs into major media. Worth a shot and kudos to MSNBC for doing it first. Anyone see footage of Judy Woodruff talking to Howie Kurtz about the blogosphere recently? Judy looked like she had just heard of the word "blog" in her briefing notes before going on the air. [Sigh] I should expect more out of a fellow Blue Devil and Duke trustee emerita.
The Post-Assassination Aftermath
Daniel Drezner thinks things are getting uncomfortable for Syria.
It seems like many parties are going to use this assassination to resuscitate and spearhead new efforts to get Syrian troops out of Lebanon. Part of the rationale will now also be that any supposed Syrian 'stabilization' role has fallen well short with this gruesome mega-bombing near the St. George hotel on Beirut's corniche. Still, however, we need to see where the evidence leads before getting too carried away. The demarche and temporary recall of our Ambassador were fine and, all told, measured and appropriate responses. An actual suspension in diplomatic relations or more permanent recall of our Ambassador are not yet warranted, in my view.How might the US maneuver now? If Syria can be induced to withdraw from Lebanon, grateful Lebanese might give the US free reign in the Beka'a Valley. Getting there either before or during the Syrian withdrawal could yield treasure troves of intelligence -- everything from the Iranian Pasdaran's support of Hamas and Hezbollah to all other manner of ill-willed individuals who have trained there from time to time . . . The Lebanese seem genuinely pissed off about the assassination (h-t to Drezner for this bit from the NY Times):
n Sidon, Mr. Hariri's hometown, Syrian workers were attacked by dozens of protesters before the police intervened, and hundreds of Lebanese marched with black banners and pictures of the slain leader. A mob also attacked a Beirut office of Syria's ruling Baath Party.
Thousands of protesters also massed in the northern port city of Tripoli, according to Reuters.
Iraq's Most Wanted
CentCom has a list of the most wanted Ba'athist terrorists plumb full of details. Aside from Zarqawi, the top guy is:
‘Izzat Ibrahim al-Duri'
As former Vice Chairman of the Revolutionary Command Council, ‘Izzat Ibrahim Al-Duri was part of the inner circle and very close to Saddam. Al-Duri is believed to be the current leader of the New Regional Command and New Ba’ath Party. As such, Al-Duri provides guidance, financial support and coordination of the Former Regime insurgency. His financial support for the insurgency, derived from the expropriated wealth of Iraq, continues to facilitate attacks against coalition forces, the Interim Iraqi Government, Iraqi National Guard, the Iraqi Police and the Iraqi people. As a member of the former Saddam regime, ‘Izzat Ibrahim al-Duri has been designated under United Nations Security Counsel Resolution 1483 for stealing assets from the Iraqi people. Under this United Nations Security Counsel resolution all member nations must freeze any funds, other financial assets or economic resources associated with ‘Izzat Ibrahim al-Duri and immediately return them to the Iraqi people. Any of these assets recovered from al Duri will be immediately dedicated to the reconstruction of Iraq. Additionally, the Multi National Forces in Iraq are offering a reward of $10 million for information leading to the capture of Izzat Ibrahim al-Duri.
UPDATE: Strategypage.com notes the role of cell phones in thwarting attacks and capturing bad guys, and also takes a look at the difficulty of following the money:
ttacking the money isn't easy, as Baath has decades of experience in getting around the international banking system rules. Long established smuggling networks can get cash, major appliances, or weapons and people, into the country. That access is being attacked by building up the border patrol. Over a hundred border forts, and the establishment of a highway patrol. In the past, smugglers would cross the border at some remote, roadless, area, move to a main highway, and then drive to a major population center to deliver the smuggled goods. The border patrol forts, with their new electronic sensors and night vision equipment, plus the highway patrol stopping trucks and inspecting cargo and documents, will complicate smuggling operations considerably.
The Sunni Arabs were always better organized, and up for trying new things. Most of the scientists and engineers in Iraq are Sunni Arabs. Most new businesses are established by Sunnis Arabs. The first ones to adopt new ideas are Sunni Arabs. But within the Sunni Arab community there is a major debate over the wisdom of continuing to support "Arab Socialism" (the Baath Party). Even before the 2003 invasion shut down Saddam's tyrannical government, many Sunni Arabs were turning to Islamic radicalism. Others backed democracy, but the socialists and religious radicals were more willing to use force. Guns speak louder than ballots, or so the Baath and al Qaeda zealots thought. But day by day, more cell phone tips come into the police from Sunni Arabs.
Suspending "The Whole Truth Series"
I am going to abandon my efforts at a "Whole Truth Series," for several reasons:
1. After the Jordan affair, I've had my fill of exposing news execs.
2. I've found that the only way to get enough information for a decent post would be to spend so much time on this that my blog would cease to be anything else.
3. Better ways of getting behind the scenes info are already out there . . .
Might sound as though I am giving up. Not true. As a maneuverist, I am choosing not to reinforce failure, and to reinforce success instead. And I will continue to report undercovered events, opinions, and tidbits.
I want to apologize for taking so long to respond, many of you wrote several weeks ago. The last two weeks of January were really hectic for us as we were busy catching "bad guys" and digging up weapons caches (see this week's Time magazine "Hunt for the Bomb Factories" by Mick Ware) in order to ensure the safety of the elections on the 30th. Since then, we pulled up stakes and headed south to Kuwait after 404 days (we counted every one of them!) in Iraq. We should head back to the good ol' U.S.A. in the next two weeks, get our feet back under us for about two weeks and then take thirty days of much needed leave.Is he jaded about the future of Iraq after 404 days? No.
I predict that things will be much better in a year than they are now. The period from April to December of last year was the high-water mark of the insurgency and now the people have cast their votes for the future. You can't imagine how we felt to see little old women, mothers, fathers and Iraqis from all walks of their society braving mortar and suicide bomb attacks to cast their votes that Sunday.Welcome home, sir.
Now the hard-liners see that their days are numbered unless they also take part in the process. This will not be easy, but as I like to say: if wars were easy and painless, everyone would have one and nobody would ever give up. We won't give up – the American voters also cast their ballots to see this thing through.
UPDATE: Operation Truth is a blog of blogs. It is devoted to compiling stories from service personnel of all stripes who've been to Iraq. Go check it out for more on-the-ground info.
Prime Minister Shopping . . .
The Christian Science Monitor reports that Ibrahim Jaafari may emerge as the choice of the election victors for Iraq's new prime minister:
Though there's still room for change, aides to both Mr. Jaafari and members of the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq (SCIRI), the party of his main rival, say they're close to a deal that will deliver him the premiership.The Monitor wonders if Jaafari's ascension might be a blow to Washington, which would prefer a more secularist leader:
aafari's rise will put a Shiite Islamist in charge of the government for the first time in Iraq's history. It also underscores waning US influence over Iraq's politics. The US would have preferred to see a secular leader emerge, not an Islamist who once lived in Iran. Jaafari's party is also unlikely to support expanded ties with Israel, a goal articulated by the US at the start of the war.But other interpretations of his intentions and beliefs exist:
But his friends and allies say no contradiction exists - that he's a pragmatic politician who sees Islam as the best guarantee against more turmoil, and who believes that a modern interpretation of Islam's political role can be found that's acceptable to most who live here.2005 looks to be a very interesting year . . .
"Iraq's minorities must be protected, and they must be given their rights,'' Jaafari said in a recent interview with the Monitor. "But we must also respect the majority, so Islam should be the official religion of the state ... and we shouldn't have any laws that contradict Islam."
"He looks at Islam as a bridge to all humanity, not just for on particular type of people,'' says Mr. Khadimi. "He doesn't want an Islamic republic like Iran's, or a system like Saudi Arabia's. He wants to see something modernized and that recognizes that Iraqis are closely tied to their religion and traditions. He's going with what the Iraqi people want."
"I wouldn't say he's secular, or religious either,'' says Toby Dodge, an Iraq expert at Queen Mary University in London.
Meanwhile, Egypt's newsweekly Al-Ahram reports that the Shi'ites are laying the political order of the new Iraq, and notes that one point of contention is whether all legislation must spring from Islam. As usual, Ayatollah Sistani's mere mention is influential:
Confident of victory the UIA appeared to have already started to dictate the rules of the political game when, early this week, a fierce debate broke out over the role religion should play in delineating Iraq's new political map. Should Islam be the only source of legislation or one among several? Statements attributed to Al-Sistani first indicated that the grand ayatollah, along with other members of the religious seminary, had cautioned against any attempt to separate religion from the state. A statement issued on Sunday in Najaf insisted that "the religious seminary will only accept a constitution that acknowledges Islam as the sole source of legislation and that any item will be rejected if deemed in contradiction with the Islamic creed."
On Tuesday, however, Al-Sistani's aides, while stressing the ayatollah believed legislation must respect Iraq's Islamic identity, insisted he had not made the remarks attributed to him.
Evening Admin Notes
Well, loyal readers, after a five or so day break, I am back. It was nice to actually get a full night's sleep for a change and to exercise a bit. Must get a more disciplined schedule going so's I don't kill myself.
Quick thought: in my silence, the Eason Jordan story has moved from back to front page. Also, I notice that in the span of -- get this -- only six months! -- the blogosphere has moved from being pajama-clad internet sickos to a "lynch mob." Wow! We are really getting somewhere! Where will we be in another 6 months? Resistance is futile. You do not understand the power of the dark side . . .
A change to the email policy: For those of you blessed or cursed enough to be on my email list, you know that I usually send out one message at the beginning of the week. I have decided to change that. From now on, I will send out a quick, two-sentence message whenever I have just posted something that I feel is worthy of your attention. I envision this happening only twice a week.
If you are unsatisfied with this policy and would now like to unsubscribe, just email me with "unsubscribe" in the subject line.
If you had no idea I even have an email list and would like to join it, just email me with "subscribe" in the subject line. My email address is: email@example.com.
I will now offer a post or two for your evening and Thursday morning pleasure . . .
UPDATE: [9pm] It looks like my comrades in arms over at Easongate have let the cat out of the bag on their next move in pursuing this story to its end. They have begun a new blog entitled, War, Truth, and Videotape. The purpose there is to continue the fight to get the video of Eason Jordan's Davos comments released.
For a variety of reasons, I have decided not to join them on this quest. Let me be the first to assure you though, that I have become close friends with both Bill Roggio and Brian Scott and I am certain that neither of them is continuing the attack solely for exposure for their own blogs or some other personal reason. They actually are deeply vested in discovering the truth behind this entire episode and have stacked the deck with a number of excellent bloggers who are no doubt equally dedicated. I wish them all success.
February 11, 2005
Final Thoughts on the Eason Jordan Controversy
Well, as you may know, I've been moonlighting this week at Easongate.
Today, Eason Jordan resigned his post at CNN.
I was completely flabbergasted by this move. In a way, I see it as a threat, and very skillful damage control (though the best would have been to go public, air the tape, retract, recant, and get it over with). I see it as skillful because I doubt the tape will be released now, though a couple of phone calls could probably make that happen.
And I see it as a threat because without the tape, Jordan is free to play the "victim of the angry bloggers" role. If he doesn't, someone will transpose that upon him. Or, as I told Bill Roggio in a message tonight:
He's leaving because of what he said. But nobody knows what he said. So it's easy to portray his departure as just the fault of a lynch-mob. "Poor ole Eason. Got chased off by bloodthirsty bloggers." I would rather we all knew what happened and then all would understand why he was leaving. CNN is smart in this fasion. Smarter than CBS. Still haven't cracked the code on it though. If they really knew what was up, they would have fixed this immediately and he'd still be employed. But smart enough to solve in a way that makes us look bad . . . In my blogging future, I don't want to just be known as one of the guys who brought Jordan down -- just like he probably doesnt want to be known as the "troop-slanderer."I'm still sorting my thoughts on all of this. This is just wild. Of the nine people I've worked with on Easongate, I've never met any of them, have only communicated via email or instant messenger, and Bill is the only one I've ever spoken to -- and twice at that. It's just wild.
The way I see it, I'm not going to congratulate myself. However hideous his statements are, a man I never met is now toppled partly because of me. In a way, there is something -- not dishonorable -- but disconcerting about the whole thing. Perhaps I am a little too 19th-century in my ideas of honor, but I would have preferred to speak personally with Mr. Jordan about this. Failing that, I would have rather seen the tape and judged his conduct for myself. But Mr. Jordan and I would never have met as equals to discuss this issue. The blogosphere has become a great leveler.
I think he deserved it, but the entire affair is sobering. I am not doing any touchdown dances, or putting a new patch on my pajamas. Though the media may mind its p's and q's a little better after this, I'm not sure it means they'll cover the military better, and that's a shame . . .
The next post here at The Adventures of Chester will be Part III of the series "Conservative Critiques of the War," and will be subtitled, "Clash of Civilizations? More like Total War of Civilizations" [Part I here, Part II here]. I hope to have it up on Sunday evening, and hope you will stop by to read it.
After that I just might take a week off from blogging.
Here's some previous thoughts I've had on bloggers and the major press:
Bloggers vs. the Mainstream? Not quite . . .
And my reasons for joining Easongate:
Geraghty Asks Tough Questions of the Eason Bloggers
UPDATE: Welcome Polipundit and Instapundit readers!
February 10, 2005
Oliver North Weighs In
Col Oliver North has given his thoughts on the Eason story in a printed commentary on FOXNews.com (I don't believe he's been on the air with this . . . correct me please . . .). Excerpt:
There is a lesson in all of this, and not just for CNN but for all the media. Eason Jordan’s disparaging duplicity wasn’t exposed by the barons of broadcasting or the potentates of print, but by "amateurs" — bloggers — the same "unwashed masses" who brought down Dan Rather. These e-mailing, web-surfing, call-'em as you see-'em bloggers are the electronic equivalent of the pamphleteers who brought about our revolution. Today they "pass the word" faster than an official spokesman can draft a denial. They are the small "d" democrats of the new "news business" — and more believable to many than what is presented on the tube or in the paper. To the bloggers it’s clear that if Dan Rather worked for CNN he’d still have a job. Apparently the network that bills itself as "the most trusted name in news" has even lower standards of proof than CBS.[My emphasis]
February 9, 2005
Brits Create Guantanamo Reality Show
An Alert Reader notes that a story in The Guardian: C4 lines up Guantanamo-style torture show.
Channel 4 is to broadcast what it is styling a Guantánamo Bay-style reality show that will examine the effects of mild torture on seven male volunteers.
The Guantánamo Guidebook will recreate some of the practices used at the US naval base where hundreds of so-called "enemy combatants" have been held without trial or access to lawyers for nearly three years.
Using an east London warehouse and declassified internal documents obtained from US sources, programme-makers mocked up conditions as they are inside Guantánamo, before subjecting seven volunteers to some of the milder forms of torture alleged to have been used by US authorities.
The programme exposed the volunteers, three of whom are Muslim, to 48 hours of "torture lite" including sleep deprivation, the use of extreme temperatures and "mild" physical contact.
As at Guantánamo and more vividly in Abu Ghraib, the volunteers were also subject to periods of enforced nudity and religious and sexual humiliation.
The seven male volunteers, one of whom withdrew after just seven hours suffering from hypothermia, were recruited initially by adverts asking how "hard" they were.
After psychological testing there were then told what the programme was about and the list whittled down to seven. All were offered counselling after filming was finished.
The programme is part of a four-pronged investigation into the modern-day use of torture practices, in and outside the Cuban island base which Amnesty International has described as an "icon of lawlessness".
It is part of an upcoming season of films examining the use of torture in the "war against terror".
February 8, 2005
A Comprehensive Look at Interagency Jointness
Solving the Interagency Puzzle is a new article in Policy Review. The author is "Sunil B. Desai, a major in the United States Marine Corps, . . .currently assigned to U.S. Strategic Command. He wrote this article while serving as an international affairs fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations in 2003-04."
Major Desai gives the entire question of interagency jointness excellent treatment. He defines the problem:
or any nation, coordinating the diverse elements of national power diplomatic, economic, intelligence, military, and law enforcement to name a few is inherently difficult. The stakes of poor coordination among the various agencies that wield the instruments of national power, however, are exceptionally high a reality that struck home for all Americans and most of the world on September 11, 2001. Although the United States governments interagency community including departments, independent agencies, and many other organizations is one in which the power of a unified whole would be greater than the sum of its parts working separately, unifying the whole has been elusive . . . the essence of the problem is that the entire interagency community is dominated by individual agency cultures rather than a common interagency culture.He defines four main factors which impede the evolution of interagency coordination:
First, the interagency community lacks a formal overarching concept of operations or doctrine for coordination for either routine or crisis response situations. Second, the interagency community lacks an independent authority responsible for the development and training of personnel in such a doctrine. Third, individual agencies use different regional structures to organize their policies and operations both abroad and domestically. Fourth, personnel policies within most, if not all, agencies develop personnel who are primarily dedicated to their own agency rather than the interagency community.Major Desai discusses the object of an interagency joint doctrine:
the interagency community lacks a doctrine parallel to the militarys joint doctrine. As a result, the structure and procedures used for interagency coordination have changed with each presidential administration, thereby exacerbating the problem . . . A new president can, as seems fitting, alter grand strategy the national strategic objectives the interagency community strives to achieve. To the greatest extent possible, however, the detailed mechanics used by the interagency community to achieve that grand strategy should not be altered.He critiques the existing guidance and regulations for interagency joint operations:
the pol-mil construct is fundamentally flawed and cannot be part of a viable interagency doctrine. First, although it intends to encompass all elements of national power, the plan format emphasizes diplomatic and military considerations thereby marginaling the other elements of national power, such as economic, intelligence, and law enforcement. Second, it promotes division by implicitly recognizing two distinct communities, military and nonmilitary, rather than one interagency community. Third, it fails to incorporate the importance of vertical coordination (among federal, state, and local governments) as well as the complete breadth of horizontal coordination (among the different entities of government, the private sector, and the international community). Fourth, it perpetuates the dominance of individual agency cultures in the interagency community by building each interagency task force around a lead agency. For example, Joint-Interagency Task Forces, used in multiagency counter-drug operations, report to the regional military commander. Likewise, even though many agencies contribute to them, the fbis Joint Terrorism Task Forces are fbi-centric.He offers an alternative:
Instead of using the pol-mil construct to build interagency task forces, a broader integrated approach would be more conducive to coordination and cooperation. The leader of each major integrated task force would be designated by, represent, and report to the president. Unlike joint doctrine, which allows senior officers from each service to be eligible to lead joint military commands, the increased complexity and sensitivities of the interagency community demand that leaders of interagency task forces not be from a specific agency. Rather, leaders of integrated task forces should be accomplished leaders without strong ties to any agency but with some experience in the dynamics of the interaction among those agencies. Ideally, former elected officials such as governors, congressmen, and mayors would fill these leadership positions.Major Desai then calls for a combined national command authority:
In fact, eventually it may be prudent to consolidate the hsc staff as well as the other interagency councils within the nsc staff structure. Moreover, the potential for two different processes — one used by the nsc staff and the other by the hsc staff — to create more rather than less confusion requires urgent attention.The good Major rightly focuses on the geographic implications of interagency jointness:
Although the geographic regions around which the nsc organizes its regional policy coordination committees are identical to those around which the State Department organizes its regional bureaus, the unity of regional structures used by the interagency community ends there. Most significantly, the geographic regions used by the nsc and the State Department bear little resemblance to those used by the dod or the Central Intelligence Agency (cia). In fact, the nsc-State Department regional structure for the world has six regions, whereas the dod has five and the cia has three. This disparity prevents a regional unity of effort — let alone clear lines of responsibility and authority — from being achieved and thus impedes efficient and effective planning and conduct of policy and operations.He notes the necessary personnel changes needed for this improved coordination to become a reality:
Interagency personnel assignments also would enhance a common culture within the interagency community. Although some agencies already have interagency exchange assignments, these assignments are mostly at the headquarters level. Assignments among all agencies to regional and local offices (and operational military units), however, are necessary to develop an interagency mindset early in the careers of personnel and to ensure integration at all levels. Many positions at all levels in every agency could be effectively filled by personnel from other agencies. For example, Department of Justice personnel could serve in legal sections, Department of Homeland Security personnel could serve in security and force protection units, and cia personnel could hold billets in intelligence sections. Personnel from the various law enforcement agencies could be assigned to military police units or security sections of other federal agencies, and vice versa.He then notes that striving for interagency coordination cannot just be an extension of the military goal of jointness as it is today:
Simply expanding joint doctrine to include interagency coordination, however, will only preserve its military focus and discourage the full involvement of nonmilitary agencies. Moreover, using joint military terminology and concepts (and watering down their military meaning) for use in the interagency context creates more confusion rather than less. To solve this puzzle the interagency community must have its own overarching doctrine and a single strong interagency culture.Finally, Major Desai states how his changes might come about:
Although new legislation will be necessary to achieve an enduring interagency culture, progress can be made without it. By executive order, the president can establish the basic doctrine, create — within his Executive Office — an office with the authority to develop it, and direct all executive branch agencies to submit proposals for aligning their regional structures and implementing personnel exchange programs such as those described here.In the end, this article is outstanding. Major Desai very cleanly defines the problem, offers well-reasoned solutions examined from several angles, keeps his eye on the interagency ball at all times, not favoring the military, and offers cogent recommendations.
There are but two points with which to take issue. First, more consideration should be given to discussing the implications of expanded military and civilian interaction. There are fundamental issues of civilian control of the military, and military control of civilians that must be resovled. Would military personnel ever be put under the charge of a civilian leader on the ground from another agency -- specifically at the larger, operational level (of course, no pure FBI agent will ever lead an infantry battalion -- but think of the relationship between General Abizaid and Paul Bremer, and the resulting disconnects between the military side of the house and the civilian side. If command is to be unified, and then decentralized, there will be a point of civilian-military intersection much further down the chain than than is normally the case. He touches on this aspect briefly here:
Exacerbating this disunity is the different degree of authority placed on the regional leaders of the different agencies . . . Moreover, from a basic leadership or management standpoint, it is simply impossible for one person (the president or the secretary of state) to directly lead or even manage some 200 people (all the ambassadors). Thus, serious consideration should be given to appointing regional ambassadors. Such regional ambassadors, of necessity, would be senior to the individual ambassadors to nations in their regions and would provide the appropriate link to the president, the secretary of state, the State Department’s regional bureaus, and the regional leaders of all other agencies.At some point, decisions will have to be as to which generals work for which diplomats, and vice versa. Again, this is a whole new realm in civilian-military relations -- Could looking to the British from the 19th century provide one model?
The second difficulty is a question of the conception of "doctrine." As Major Desai defines it, doctrine consists of standardized procedures for coordinating different actions, and can be instated by the President via Executive Order. This definition considers doctrineto be a series of processes which are mandated and are there to smooth out planning cycles and speed up decisionmaking.
Forming integrated headquarters and task forces and conducting integrated operations, however, cannot be done without a doctrine. Properly developed, an integrated doctrine would provide the framework necessary to help ensure that all national policies, plans, and operations are integrated and none is centered on any one agency. Ultimately, such an integrated doctrine would cultivate a strong interagency culture in which individual agency goals would be subordinate to national interagency goals.
But this is only one way of viewing doctrine. The other is to grasp doctrine as a philosophy of war. In other words, to conceive of a fundamental understanding of the basic causes, nature, and theory of warfare, and then to work backward from there toward understanding how to win in its conduct. I say philosophy of war not merely to describe combat, but in the sense that Plato used it, "always existing by nature between every Greek city-state." In other words, a philosophy of foreign affairs, or of foreign policy (though it is less and less foreign, as Major Desai's comments on the Homeland Security Dept show.) This definition of doctrine most definitely cannot be solved by Executive Order, and more than likely cannot be solved by legislative mandate either.
To use the military as an example, the current doctrine, while not explicitly described as thus, is an adoption of maneuver warfare, which seeks to attack weakness and avoid strength, and to attack specific nodes in a network to achieve its collapse rather than to attrit it as a whole (though exceptions are made in many cases). These ideas spring from a philosophy of war that began in the 1980s in the theories of Colonel John Boyd. Boyd's theories were adopted by a sort of underground cult of junior officers, and eventually influenced every service -- albeit over many years of heated debate. It must be noted that Boyd's ideas did not come to be very influential until several years after the Goldwater-Nichols Act of 1986, which institutionalized the concepts of jointness. Boyd's ideas answered the philosophical challenge of that integration. (Ultimately, the very worry about interagency jointness is an outgrowth of the concept of combined arms, which seeks to use all elements of firepower in a coordinated method to achieve a tactical or operational result. Interagency jointness seeks to use all elements of national power to achieve victory on a much larger stage.)
To apply the concerns of a philosophy of war to an interagency jointness perspective, the final result of a more joint national security apparatus will be a de facto agreement as to the proper conduct of war in its broadest definition. There will still be arguments and wargaming of particular strategies and policies, but the fundamental questions of defining war -- meaning war in its broadest sense, to include foreign policy as a whole -- will be reached through a long series of internal debates, trial and error, and psychologizing about the motives of other friendly and hostile actors. The debates will shift to that of questioning whether a given policy or strategy is within the overall philosophy, rather than debating the philosophy itself. There is a great gain to be had in the ease of policy execution which will result, and within it a great danger that other, competing philosophies of war will over time find ways to avoid, bypass, or collapse our own.
Update: Col Boyd's first name is "John" not "William." I have corrected the above text. Please forgive me, Boyd apostles.
February 6, 2005
Weekend Link Roundup
Have been consumed with the new Easongate blog where I made 9 posts today. Here's some things I wish I had time to comment upon:
A conservative asks if fascism is on the rise in the US: Hunger for Dictatorship
From WaPo: What Bin Laden Sees in Hiroshima
UPDATE: Wed, 1am: Van Mendenhall examines the article about fascism and finds it lacking.
War Reporting in the Battle of Baghdad
When I was working for a Marine engineer battalion in Iraq, a new kind of communication and tracking system was fielded. Called the "Blue Force Tracker," (BFT) it was two separate components: a Panasonic Toughbook laptop computer, plugged into a GPS receiver and mounted inside a Humvee.
The BFT had two capabilities: it allowed anyone else with another BFT to see the location of every single BFT on the battlefield. The GPS system sent signals to a satellite which were then transmitted down to every other system and displayed on the Toughbook screen, on an overlay of the imagery of a given area. The other capability was email -- very short and simple text messages could be sent back and forth between differing BFT's.
We used our three BFTs in two ways. We either attached them to the battalion headquarters, or we would send one on a convoy so we could track convoys traveling over long distances.
We also had some small shortwave radios. These were battery-powered and also had a dial at the back which could be spun to recharge the batteries. In Kuwait, we had been able to receive Voice of America broadcasts, but in Iraq we were mainly restricted to the BBC World News Service (or some such).
When Marine and Army forces made it to Baghdad and entered the city, no report of this was made on the BBS radio news. But we could see it happen. We could see where individual Army and Marine humvees were inside Baghdad, overlaid on imagery of the city.
Later, the BBC quoted Iraqi news organs as saying that the presence of US forces inside Baghdad was a fiction, and propaganda by the US government. Still, we could see our own vehicles all over Baghdad -- we could even pinpoint a specific vehicle and ask the system which unit each was attached to. We were 60 miles or so away and could see the infiltration of American units throughout the city.
The next day, the BBC reporter came on and mentioned that his Iraqi news minders hadn't shown up that day. There's the rub. He was restricted from reporting what he saw with his own eyes. How much more so was CNN restricted when making a deal with Saddam to put its bureau there for a decade, as I've asked at Easongate.
MAJOR ANNOUNCEMENT: The Easongate Blog
Chester's next adventure is . . . Easongate:
The Easongate blog has been created in light of Eason Jordan's recent statements at the World Economic Forum in Davos, where he accused American servicemen of intentionally targeting and killing journalists in Iraq. These are serious charges that should not have been made without supporting evidence, which he did not provide. American servicemen and women are risking their lives daily and it is wholly inappropriate for a man of his stature and influence to make baseless claims in front of an international audience. As an experienced journalist, he fully understands the impact of his words and the effects on his audience. Mr. Jordan has a past history of making such statements.
The purpose of this blog is as follows:
· Act as a clearinghouse for information related to Mr. Jordan's recent and past statement concerning the United States military.
· Provide analysis and commentary on the developing situation.
· Advocate CNN to take real and meaningful disciplinary action against Mr. Jordan.
· Create a petition expressing the public's displeasure with Mr. Jordan's statements.
· Gather information on CNN's advertisers and make this information available to the public.
Our hope is that CNN will launch an investigation into Mr. Jordan's past and recent history, and take appropriate action. The staff of Easongate is not confident CNN will address this situation without external pressure, however, so we hope to provide the means for the public to place pressure on CNN to act.
Gen Mattis Controversy, continued
This story is snowballing. Stones Cry Out questions why Mattis' statements were carried in four major dailies within 48 hours, but the MSM has been completely silent on the recent comments of Eason Jordan, chief news executive for CNN, who recently said that the US military routinely targets journalists.
HughHewitt is connecting the same dots between Mattis and Jordan.
The blogosphere is on this right now, but wait until post-Superbowl when all of our readers hear these stories. It's not going to be pretty.
A Marine wife's thoughts here: Villainous Company: In Defense of Jim Mattis
February 5, 2005
Happy Birthday, President Reagan!
Trey Jackson at Jackson's Junction has a very comprehensive tribute to President Reagan at his site. Go see for yourself.
Gen Mattis: Further Discussion
[See my first post about Gen Mattis' comments here.]
One thing I've failed to mention on this blog before is that I was invited to join something called the National Security Roundtable last month. The Roundtable is a forum of former and current active and reserve officers from all services (appears I am the only Marine though). Several national security reporters also contribute. The list is administered by Michael Noonan of the Foreign Policy Research Institute. The discussions are viewable by the public, but only members can comment.
Right now, there is quite a debate going on about General Mattis' recent comments. Check it out here.
UPDATE [8:08pm]: Being a Marine, I often get emails from other Marines who've put together some quotes about Marines. We are all obsessed of course. I got one such email this week, and it contained a quote I had not heard before. I think it applies to this current kerfuffle with Gen Mattis quite well:
An Anonymous Canadian Citizen:
"Marines are about the most peculiar breed of human beings I have ever witnessed. They treat their service as if it was some kind of cult, plastering their emblem on almost everything they own, making themselves up to look like insane fanatics with haircuts so short as to be ungentlemanly, worshipping their Commandant as if he was a god, and making weird animal noises like a band of savages. They'll fight like rabid dogs at the drop of a hat just for the sake of a little action and are the cockiest SOBs I've ever known. Most have the foulest mouths and drink well beyond man's normal limits, but their high spirits and sense of brotherhood set them apart and, generally speaking, of the United States Marines with whom I've come in contact, are the most professional warriors and the finest men I've had the pleasure to meet."
Just as few priests are pedophiles, few soldiers are sadists. Mattis has brought dishonor on the US Marine Corps with his words. Killing is never appropriately called "fun." I think he should resign.Well, I can't speak for soldiers, but I will guarantee you this: There are three types of Marines I've ever met: sadists, masochists, and sadomasochists. Personally, I fall into the masochist camp, as anyone who looks at the time stamps on many of my posts and remembers that I have a day job will realize. We Marines desire what George Bernard Shaw called "a purpose that is a mighty one" in which we are "thoroughly used up," and in striving for that moment, our masochism in training ourselves, and our sadism in training our subordinates is rarely tempered.
UPDATE [10:43p] Just had a thought: if some PFC or Lance Corporal made a comment about killing bad guys being fun, it would no doubt be reported in an "aww, that's so sad what that innocent teenager has become. Too bad he was duped into joining the military, the poor rube. Shame on the horrors of war" - type manner. Heh.
Blogosphere 1, Iran 0
The Regime Change Iran blog reports Iran's planned festivities at the Bethesda, Marriott entitled "Twenty Sixth Anniversary of the Glorious Victory of the Islamic Revolution and Death to America Day," have been cancelled by Marriott, who discovered that it is illegal to do business with Iran. The blogosphere had a big hand in this.
February 4, 2005
The Fourth Rail Wants YOU . . . to keep CNN honest
Bill Roggio at The Fourth Rail needs your help. He wants CNN to release a tape or transcript of the recent remarks of Eason Jordan, who has accused the US military of deliberately targeting journalists. From the fourth rail:
Like many other bloggers, I have received the “canned” reply from CNN, attempting to clarify Mr. Jordan’s statements:Eason was attempting to speak out on an issue that is important to news organizations all over the world. Unfortunately, he was not clear enough in explaining his assertion. He was responding to an assertion that all 63 journalists killed in Iraq were "collateral damage." While the majority of the 63 journalists killed in Iraq have been killed by insurgents, the Pentagon has acknowledged that the U.S. military on occasion has killed people who turned out to be journalists. Mr. Jordan emphatically does not believe that the U.S. Military intended to kill journalists and believes these accidents to be cases of "mistaken identity."I have sent the following reply, which I copied to several bloggers:Hello CNNia Administrator,
Release the videotape and a transcript of Mr. Jordan's comments at Davos, and I will be convinced. Until then your apologetic is unconvincing and insulting. Several bloggers in attendance heard otherwise, and based on Mr. Jordan's history, I am inclined to agree with them.
Mr. Jordan has a long history of demeaning the US military and accusing them of targeting journalists. As a former soldier I am personally insulted. Perhaps CNN should launch an investigation into his statements. Your association with Mr. Jordan can be very damaging to your credibility and reputation.
I have suspended citing CNN as a source of material in my weblog, which is viewed by over 1,500 people a day, until I am convinced CNN is honest in getting to the bottom of this story. My readers typically follow the links through on my posts to read my sources. I have copied other bloggers in an attempt to convince them to do the same. Hopefully this will create a noticeable impact on your site hits and give your advertisers pause.
Also, I have begun to compile a list of CNN advertisers and will put together a letter to make them aware of this situation unless I see results.
We demand the transcript of Davos and nothing less.
UPDATE: Events like those at CNN and with Eason Jordan seem to come more and more often as we witness the death spiral of the Fourth Estate. Via RealClearPolitics:
We’re in the midst of spectacle, and many people aren't even aware of it.
Not every watershed event in history is marked by explosions, walls tumbling, or changes of government. We’re experiencing a sea-change, the type that political science textbooks 50 years from now will describe in apoplectic terms to wide-eyed students, who will have difficulty believing we actually used to live this way.
I’m talking about the intellectual near-disintegration of the mainstream media, or "MSM." (That its new moniker is a dismissive acronym is telling in itself.) It’s been in the works for a number of years, but we’re seeing the start of real momentum in the avalanche.
UPDATE 2: The Fourth Rail is gathering momentum. It just received attention from National Review's Kerry Spot. Remember, you heard it here first. Also, I'd vow to never link to CNN until this is cleared up, as some other bloggers have, but I never link to them anyway. Don't ever watch the ole Communist News Network either. Heh.
February 3, 2005
Quick Admin Note
I am experimenting with a news-aggregator. In the process, I was unsatisfied with the Syndication link in the sidebar, so I've replaced it with technology powered by FeedBurner. It works for the aggregator I am using -- called NetNewsWire. So syndication should be much, much easier now.
News aggregators and RSS feeds seem to be the future of the blogosphere. It pushes stuff to you rather than your having to pull it. Look at what Mac has planned for the new Safari. [I blog with an iMac and my browser of choice is Safari. No annoying popups like IE, and tabbed browsing is very convenient because I normally have at least 6 or more sites open at a time.]
Sorry for this boring techie stuff. Just wanted to update you.
See the new Feedburner thingy? ---------------------->
Rummy offered his resignation twice last year
Rumsfeld Says He Offered to Resign Twice during the height of the Abu Ghraib scandal. This is entirely believable. His statement to the US Senate was that he "takes full responsibility." Bush certainly must have an extreme amount of confidence in him . . .
Two Anti-election Flyers from Iraq
The relatively new blog, I Should Have Stayed Home, has two of the anti-election threat flyers reprinted. Excerpt:
All the poll stations will be targets for Al-Mujahideen, and they will not be a safe place. Here we are warning people who got cheated by the democratic lie. We are warning the innocent people (don’t go to the election). Otherwise we will not treat you as innocent because you choose to support the infidel’s side which it doesn’t have any beliefs, and you took the infidel occupationer’s side and his agents.Talk about discredited.
Anyone who will sell his vote and his honor to any of the agent parties, like Kurdish parties or Ayad Alawi’s party, will execute himself and he chooses to be with infidels.
ALL THE POLLING STATIONS WILL BE UNDER FIRE SO DO NOT GO THERE.
ALL THE MUSLIMS HAVE TO BE BESIDE THE BELIEVERS IN GOD AND REJECT THE ELECTIONS……
"US General Says It is Fun To Shoot Some People"
As soon as I saw the headline, I knew it was LtGen Jim Mattis.
"Actually it's quite fun to fight 'em, you know. It's a hell of a hoot. It's fun to shoot some people. I'll be right up front with you, I like brawling," said Mattis.The man is harder than woodpecker lips. Comments like this will probably keep him from being Commandant, but don't rule him out for a three or four star field command, even CentCom. Remember, two and a half years ago, he was just a Brigadier General. Interesting that his comments are completely out of context:
"You go into Afghanistan, you got guys who slap women around for five years because they didn't wear a veil," Mattis said during a panel discussion. "You know, guys like that ain't got no manhood left anyway. So it's a hell of a lot of fun to shoot them."
In a statement, Gen. Michael Hagee, commander of the Marine Corps, praised Mattis as "one of this country's bravest and most experienced military leaders."
"While I understand that some people may take issue with the comments made by him, I also know he intended to reflect the unfortunate and harsh realities of war," Hagee said.
"I have counseled him concerning his remarks and he agrees he should have chosen his words more carefully," Hagee added.
Lt. Gen. James Mattis, who led troops in Iraq and Afghanistan, made the comments at a conference Tuesday in San Diego.San Diego? Might he have been on board Camp Pendleton? Might he have been talking to some Marines? He says, "I'll be right up front with you, I like brawling," as though he is talking to the troops.
The AP has again taken something entirely out of context. If he was talking to the troops, a thousand dollars says the response was positive. Marines can't stand milquetoast generals. They respond to charisma.
UPDATE: A quick contrast. Quotations by General George S. Patton:
"May God have mercy upon my enemies, because I won't.
"Sure, we want to go home. We want this war over with. The quickest way to get it over with is to go get the bastards who started it. The quicker they are whipped, the quicker we can go home. The shortest way home is through Berlin and Tokyo. And when we get to Berlin, I am personally going to shoot that paper hanging son-of-a-bitch Hitler. Just like I'd shoot a snake!"
- General George S. Patton, Jr
(addressing his troops before Operation Overlord, June 5, 1944)
"There is only one tactical principle which is not subject to change. It is to use the means at hand to inflict the maximum amount of wound, death, and destruction on the enemy in the minimum amount of time."
- General George Patton Jr
"It is the duty of all commanders to see that their men are fully aware of the many vile deeds perpetrated upon civilization by Germans, and that they attack with the utmost determination, ferocity, and hate." -- General George Patton, Jr.
"I can assure that the Third United States Army will be the greatest Army in American history. We shall be in Berlin ahead of every one. To gain that end, we must have perfect discipline. I shall drive you until hell won't have it, but a pint of sweat is worth a gallon of blood. We are going to kill German bastards -- I would prefer to skin them alive -- but, gentlemen, I fear some of our people at home would accuse me of being too rough."
-General George Patton, Jr.
From Victor Hanson, in The Soul of Battle:
Bradley openly ridiculed Patton's speeches, claiming GIs often laughed at him. In reality, Third Army recruits gradually developed the sense that they were in a personal war with Hitler. Patton yelled at them constantly:I want them [the Germans] to look up and scowl, "Ach! IT'S THE GOD-DAMN THIRD ARMY AND THAT SON-OF-A-BITCH PATTON AGAIN!"
More from Hanson, on the effect of Patton on the enemy:
Since Hitler and his generals, unlike the Americans and the British, felt Patton to be the Americans' most gifted commander, the Anglo-American commanders would create an elaborate ruse of having Patton seem to be preparing a second invasion of France at Calais to the north of the June Normandy landing site. Patton, in essence, would -- and did -- tie down an immense German army to the north, which would wait in vain apprehension for this dashing general to cross from Dover and attempt a characteristically relentless deive through northern Europe on the shortest direct route to Germany.Now, once again, LtGen Mattis' remarks:
"Actually it's quite fun to fight 'em, you know. It's a hell of a hoot. It's fun to shoot some people. I'll be right up front with you, I like brawling," said Mattis.
"You go into Afghanistan, you got guys who slap women around for five years because they didn't wear a veil," Mattis said during a panel discussion. "You know, guys like that ain't got no manhood left anyway. So it's a hell of a lot of fun to shoot them."
UPDATE 2: Boy, they are really piling on. Aljazeera.Net for example has a photo of Abu Ghraib accompanying the story about Mattis. BBC News gets the story wrong and claims Mattis was publicly rebuked. The LA Times sheds a small bit of light on the context of the remarks, though they get his name wrong, so who knows what else they've screwed up:
Lt. Gen. John Mattis made the comments Tuesday at a San Diego forum on tactics in fighting the war on terror. Mattis, who has been known as "Mad Dog Mattis" to troops, is currently commanding general of the Marine Corps Combat Development Command in Quantico, Va.More:
Seated at a long table next to other military commanders, Mattis told about 200 people at the San Diego Convention Center: "Actually, it's a lot of fun to fight, you know. It's a hell of a hoot. It's fun to shoot some people. I'll be right upfront with you, I like brawling."More:
Mattis added: "You go into Afghanistan, you've got guys who slapped women around for five years because they didn't wear a veil. You know, guys like that ain't got no manhood left anyway. So it's a hell of a lot of fun to shoot them."
His comments were met with laughter and applause from many in the audience of the forum, hosted by the Armed Forces Communications and Electronics Association and the U.S. Naval Institute and sponsored by many top U.S. defense contractors.
As commanding general of the 1st Marine Division, Mattis led that force in their advance on Baghdad in 2003, the longest, fastest move of a division-sized unit in Marine Corps history.
Unmarried, Mattis has served nine tours of duty in the Middle East. [Note from Chester: We used to joke that he would soon be eligible for Iraqi citizenship.]
Mattis' comments came in the context of how to transform the armed forces to fight the war on terror beyond Iraq. He questioned future spending on new forms of air and sea warfare. "Our very dominance of certain forms of warfare have driven the enemy into historic forms of warfare that we have not mastered."
He also said it was "almost embarrassing intellectually" that commanders were looking to unspecified future wars and enemies to reshape the military, rather than to the insurgents it now faces in the Middle East.
"Don't patronize this enemy," he said of insurgents. "They mean business. They mean every word they say. Don't imagine an enemy somewhere in the future and you're going to transform so you can fight him. They're killing us now. Their will is not broken."
UPDATE 3: If this keeps its momentum, I'll begin to tell stories of my own personal and group interactions with General Mattis. He is truly an amazing individual. I've got at least five or so good sea stories, but will hold off to see how this develops.
UPDATE 4: Oh what the heck, why not toss one out there now? First, a short one:
I was in Egypt in September, 2001, attached to the First Marine Expeditionary Brigade, whose Commanding General was Brigadier General Mattis. We were participating in a training exercise that had taken place every two years since Desert Storm.
I took four or five bulldozers about 20 kilometers out into the desert from the Brigade's base camp, to build a cantonment site for the 1st Tank Battalion over several days. What a great job for a 2nd Lt with only four months in the fleet! It was me, 7 Marines and Seabees, and two sections of the tank battalion's scout platoon for security -- also led by another 2nd Lt -- alone, unafraid, and unsupervised. Awesome.
The main reason why we were alone is because the Egyptians were being rather difficult about US personnel leaving our little part of their massive desert base. They were restricting traffic, requiring passes that were in short supply, etc. So we had to go out and stay with just one visit a day from the tank battalion for resupply purposes.
On the third day, the tank battalion CO came out to check our progress. He said that General Mattis had just met with the Egyptians and told them that if they didn't quit playing their chickens*** games that he would backload the ships and take his F-18s and go home.
Remarkably, the Egyptians' attitudes improved dramatically overnight.
[Apologies to MOC (Mom of Chester) for the exceptional profanity in this post. Incidentally, I was once in a meeting of officers, prior to deployment to Kuwait, in which then-Major General Mattis spoke again. He mentioned that he had promised his mother that he would not curse so much . . .]
UPDATE 5: Not a single mention of this story in the Early Bird this morning. It has either died, or is unimportant. Interestinly, the Early Bird covered the controversial comments of LtGen Boykin pretty closely.
UPDATE 6: Welcome Chrenkoff readers. Another Gen Mattis story on the morrow.
UPDATE 7: Here's the next story.
In January of 2003, several of my battalion's officers and I attended a "rock-drill" exercise at Camp Pendleton. This was to simulate all of the actions by battalion-sized units in the first 96 hours of the invasion of Iraq. The moniker rock-drill I believe refers to the fact that each unit has a number of rocks to signify its forces. We actually used legos.
The event was held on a large asphalt landing zone in the middle of nowhere on Camp Pendleton. Begin an engineer, and from the FSSG, my battalion's own participation was minimal, so I mainly got to watch.
A crew of enlisted Marines had drawn relevant terrain features and phase lines in chalk on the asphalt. The regimental COs from 1st, 5th, and 7th Marines and their staffs were present, as were their subordinate battalion commanders.
To appreciate this story you must learn the term "OPT" or Operational Planning Team. It is a small group used to plan an operation. OPT is also used as a verb: " We need to OPT this, before we make our minds up." Etc.
I got to watch while General Mattis put his regimental commanders through their paces. Each part of the invasion, or specific terrain had a specific name. For example, the "Opening Gambit" described the destruction of the Iraqi 52nd Mechanized Infantry Division by 5th and 7th Marines. One particular Gas-Oil Separator Plant which was to be seized before Saddam could torch it was called "the Crown Jewels."
Gen Mattis began a series of socratic questioning to his regimental commanders, pausing every little while to offer an observation about battlespace geometry and the coordination of fires between varying units.
One exchange went like this (name of commander changed):
Gen Mattis: Bob, how big did you say our force at XX will be?
Regt CO: It's a reinforced company, sir.
Gen Mattis: [looks to his intel officer] How big is the enemy force there?
Intel officer: It's a mechanized brigade sir.
Gen Mattis: [back to Regt CO] So you're telling me we're putting one reinforced company against a mechanized brigade?
At this point, the Regt CO turned and looked at his XO, who turned and looked at their operations officer. The operations officer looked back, then bowed his head. The Regt CO looked back to Gen Mattis and said:
"Sir, we're going to OPT the dogs**t out of this."
This was a very amusing exchange to watch.
UPDATE 8: All new updates to this post will be as separate posts in my blog. About to make one now. Thanks for reading!
Neat stories from Spirit of America
1) How Americans helped with Iraq's elections
On this post there are some great quotes of Iraqis expressing thanks for the liberation of Iraq. There is also a summary of election-related projects done by SoA that the generosity of Americans made possible and we couldn't have done it without the funds from the Blogger Challenge. So, thank you!
2) Anatomy of a purple finger
Over at Friends of Democracy there is a 3-photo post showing the anatomy of how an Iraqi voter got a purple finger on Sunday.
MAJOR CONTENT ANNOUNCEMENT
Beginning on February 14th, Bill Roggio, who authors the fourth rail, will begin posting here a daily roundup of links that pique his interest. The posts will occur Monday through Friday, and will come out sometime around noon or early afternoon.
This will be a way for Bill to draw attention to things that he crosses in his internet travels, but which do not bear on the daily post he has planned for the fourth rail.
Bill's a great guy and his work is excellent. I'm happy to have him contribute to the content here at The Adventures of Chester. Be sure to check out the great new banner design at his site.
China, Taiwan, and the Anti-Secession Law
[This is Chester: After I first encountered Thomas Barnett's thoughts on Taiwan (see the previous post), I wondered how talk like his will affect the desire of Taiwan to develop a nuclear deterrent. I asked a frequent commenter, USMC_Vet, to guest-blog on this topic. His work morphed into a more in-depth piece, covering much more than just nukes. This is Part I. USMC_Vet also blogs at his own site, The Word Unheard. He finds some great links. Be sure to check it out. This part is long, so I'm using the extended entry feature. Be sure to read it though -- I wouldn't let it grace these pages if I didn't think it worth your time.]
“We will never allow anyone to split Taiwan from China through whatever means. Should the Taiwan authorities go so far as to make a reckless attempt that constitutes a major incident of "Taiwan independence," the Chinese people and armed forces will resolutely and thoroughly crush it at any cost.”
Chinese White Paper: China's National Defense in 2004
“This is a serious provocation. China has gone too far. This is an urgent call to the international community to stop China before it's too late.''
Joseph Wu, chairman of Taiwan's Mainland Affairs Council (27Dec04)
China’s introduction of a new ‘Anti-Secession’ law and the surge in fiery rhetoric between Beijing and Taipei that has followed warrants a renewed closer look at the Cross Strait Tensions. There are many questions to be answered and many potential scenarios to consider.
What is China really seeking to achieve through such a law? What is Taiwan’s immediate reaction and how will Taiwan react if such a proposed law is approved? How likely is it that Taiwan will resurrect its dormant nuclear weapons research efforts? Will this current War of Words ultimately crescendo and escalate into the War of Weapons many have feared?
What exactly is China’s proposed Anti-Secession law?
February 2, 2005
Thomas Barnett Plays Fast and Loose with National Security . . .
. . . or, "The Pop Strategist Strikes Again"
In the latest issue of Esquire magazine, Thomas Barnett, much-publicized author of "The Pentagon's New Map," offers an article entitled Mr. President, Here's How to Make Sense of Your Second Term, Secure Your Legacy, and, oh yeah, Create a Future Worth Living.
Barnett's central contentions are:
1. Tell Iran we'll "let" them have nuclear weapons in exchange for their recognition of Israel as a state.
2. Remove our security guarantee from Taiwan in order to get on China's good side and
3. Invade or otherwise remove the regime of North Korea.
If you woke up tomorrow and any of these three options had become fact, would you feel more or less secure? More or less confident about the ability of the US to shape the world's agenda?
Barnett's rather nonsensical remarks begin with Iran:
Our offer should be both simple and bold. I would send James Baker, our last good secretary of state, to Tehran as your special envoy with the following message: "We know you're getting the bomb, and we know there isn't much we can do about it right now unless we're willing to up-tempo right up the gut. But frankly, there's other fish we want to fry, so here's the deal: you can have the bomb, and we'll take you off the Axis of Evil list, plus we'll re-establish diplomatic ties and open up trade. But in exchange, not only wil you bail us out of Iraq first and foremost by ending your support of the insugency, you'll also cut off your sponsorship of Hezbollan and other anti-israeli terrorist groups, help us bully Syria out of Lebanon, finally recognize Israel, and join us in guaranteeing the deal on a permanent Palestinian State. You want to be recognized as the regional player of note. We're prepared to do that. But that's the price tag. Pay it now or get ready to rumble."The reader is hard-pressed to see the upside for the US in this course of action. First off, he proposes to approach Iran from a bargaining position which admits weakness -- never a good idea. Next, he seems to place the resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian difficulties ahead of US security. Peace in Palestine is certainly a US goal, as Bush made clear this evening in the State of the Union, but it seems like allowing Iran to have a nuclear weapons program is a bit of a high price to pay for it. Barnett is overly influenced by his own core/gap ideas -- he believes that "shrinking the gap" is more important than securing the US. Earlier in the article, he mentions that his rationale for a nuclear Iran vs a nuclear Israel is that mutually-assured destruction really does work. Perhaps, but such are the statements of one who has completely thrown in the towel on nuclear proliferation. Mutually assured destruction was only viable when there were two main power blocs. The world is too complex now for it to have any relevance.
In short, the Iranians would be stupid not to take this deal. They could then renege with no consequences whatsoever. After they've detonated test bomb somewhere in Baluchistan, the plate of US options toward pressuring Iran to do anything will have shrunken dramatically.
As far as the China-Taiwan question goes, Barnett writes thus:
I know, I know, China's still "communist" (like I still have a full head of hair if the lighting's just so), whereas Taiwan is a lonely bastion of democracy in an otherwise . . . uh . . . increasingly democratic Asia. So even though the rest of Asia, including Japan is being rapidly sucked into China's economic undertow (as "running dogs of capitalism" go, China's a greyhound), somehow the sacredness of Taiwan's self-perceived "independence" from China is worth torching the global economy over? Does that strike anybody as slightly nuts?Just what is China's form of government? Certainly it exists within a capitalist society, but Barnett falls far too easily for the claim that capitalism begets democracy -- this is the underlying assumption of his remarks: he feels he can wager the independence of Taiwan now because China will be more democratic, and therefore less threatening in the future. His assumptions are:
1. Capitalism begets democracy.
2. States with integrated economies don't war against each other.
3. Democracies don't war against each other.
But these are not written in stone anywhere . . . they are true up until the moment that one of them is proven false . . . like the idea that 19 men won't fly airplanes into symbols of American power. The only assumption that seems even slightly plausible is that democracies don't war against each other -- but it seems more that they are unlikely to war against each other than that they never will. Barnett's write-off of Taiwan is reckless and shameful, aside from the less debatable point that a Bush administration promising to stand with those who stand for freedom, but which then abandons Taiwan to the Middle Kingdom will have a bit of a credibility problem. Moreover, while he is correct, that Asia is increasingly democratic, how does he then explain an increasingly militant Japan, especially vis a vis China? The Japanese clearly view China as a threat. If China decided one day that Japan was merely a renegade province, should the US scuttle its security agreements with Japan, simply so as not to harm the global economy? More:
My point is this: In a generation's time, China will dominate the global economy just as much as the United States does today (don't worry, we'll be co-dominatrices.) The only way to stop that is to kill this era's version of globalization -- something I worry about those neocons actually being stupid enough to do as part of their fanciful pursuit of global "hegemony."Here yet again, Barnett shows his bias for the global economy and against the security of any given state. Barnett belives no single state should aim for hegemony because of another of his core assumptions: nation-states are doomed and cannot survive economic globalization anyway.
If he's wrong, and the US abandons Taiwan, how emboldened will China be to pursue other strategic aims?
Finally, North Korea. Barnett says,
Kim Jong Il's checked all the boxes: He'll sell or buy any weapons of mass destruction he can get his hands on, he's engaged in bizarre acts of terrorism against South Korea, and he maintains his amazingly cruel regime through the wholesale export of both narcotics and counterfeit American currency.Doesn't Iran also fit each of these criteria: pursuing WMD, terrorism against a regional democracy (Israel, via Hezbollah, by Barnett's own admission above), narcotics, counterfeiting, check and check. Why is it that Iran gets a pass, whereas North Korea gets the rough treatment? The answer is based on all of Barnett's above assumptions, and again, on his bias toward actions which enlarge the global economy, regardless of the results for security of any one state. Iran, he believes, can possess nuclear weapons, open its economy and prosper with the Mullahs still in power. North Korea, being a closed regime, cannot. Therefore, Iran is tolerated and North Korea is threatened with invasion. It is an accepted fact in most military circles that ANY action on the Korean peninsula would be exceptionally bloody. If the US wasn't still worried about the capabilities of the North Korean military, we would not still be there en masse. But again, Barnett's goals largely don't consider the good of one particular state -- the US in this case. Instead, he considers the good of the global economy.
This is his central flaw: Barnett believes that states are doomed to become irrelevant under the onrush of global capital. This is a dangerous presumption and his policy prescriptions are best left gathering dust.
Here's what all the smart folks at NRO thought of the SOTU.
"Taking Kos Seriously"
The Weekly Standard's Daily Standard today carriesthis piece, by Dean Barnett, who notes the popularity of the liberal blog, The Daily Kos, and notes the ascendancy of both the blog and Kos himself in Democratic circles.
More recently Senator Barbara Boxer, sent a fawning note thanking the Daily Kos community for its support in her courageous and lonely efforts to speak truth to power. She fondly recalled a chat she had with two Kos contributors and concluded by proclaiming: "I look forward to future interactions with the Daily Kos community. I hope to have the time to drop by here and participate in the discussion from time to time--I value your input, and I thank you for caring so much about the future of our country."
Yes, Kos is definitely on a roll. This week, under the headline "They Finally Fear Us," Kos excerpted a Los Angeles Times story which reported that in spite of some unease with the idea of a Dean chairmanship, prominent Democrats were loath to speak out against the Vermont governor, lest they enrage the increasingly powerful lobby of Internet activists personified and led by Kos. As Kos astutely summarized the situation, the Internet activists are in the process of achieving parity with special interest groups like NARAL, the unions, and the NAACP. What he doesn't point out is that those groups for the most part maxed out long ago in terms of power and influence. The Kos community is still in its infancy.
In recent days, Kos has begun suggesting that someone challenge conservative Democrat Joe Lieberman in the 2006 Democratic primary. Given Kos's recent successes, Lieberman would be wise to not take this threat lightly.
Many in the conservative blogosphere have been quick to label Kos a "moon bat" because of his unforgiving left-wing politics and his strident tone. Kos in turn dismisses these critics as "wing nuts." (Who says dialogue in the blogosphere isn't edifying?) This kind of juvenile give and take, however, obscures the vital fact that Moulitsas leads an influential movement, a movement whose influence is likely to grow even larger.
Whether or not that's good for the Democratic party remains to be seen.
Sergeant First Class Paul Smith -- The Congressional Medal of Honor
From the St. Petersburg, FL Times,Iraq hero joins hallowed group:
Sgt. 1st Class Paul R. Smith, who spent his boyhood in Tampa, became a man in the Army and died outside Baghdad defending his outnumbered soldiers from an Iraqi attack, will receive America's highest award for bravery.The Times has a multi-media tribute to SFC Smith, here. SFC Smith's heroism has been circulating in the blogosphere for some time. Winds of Change.NET offers the story of this warrior:
President Bush will present the Medal of Honor to Smith's wife, Birgit, and their children Jessica, 18, and David, 10, at a ceremony at the White House, possibly in March.
The official announcement will come soon, but the Pentagon called Mrs. Smith with the news Tuesday afternoon.
On the morning of April 4, the Task Force was inside of the airport and several enemy soldiers had been captured, so a containment pen had be to quickly built. There was a wall 10 ft tall paralleling the north side of the highway, on the battalion's flank just behind the front lines. Smith (whose callsign was 'Sapper 7') decided to punch a hole in it, so that the inside walls would form two sides of a triangular enclosure and the open third side could be closed off with rolls of concertina wire.Here is another online memorial to SFC Smith (also via Winds of Change):
Smith used an armored combat earthmover to punch through the wall and, while wire was being laid across the corner, one of the squad's two M113s moved toward a gate on the far side of the courtyard. The driver pushed open the gate to open a field of fire, revealing between 50 and 100 enemy soldiers massed to attack. The only way out was the hole the engineers had put in the wall and the gate where the hardcore Iraqis were firing.
What happened next was equal to Audie Murphy's legendary World War II heroism. Iraqi soldiers perched in trees and a nearby tower let loose with a barrage of RPGs and there were snipers on the roof. A mortar round hit the engineers' M-113, seriously wounding three soldiers inside. Smith helped evacuate them to an aid station, which was threatened by the attack as well.
Smith promptly organized the engineers' defense, since the only thing that stood between the Iraqis and the Task Force's headquarters were about 15 to 20 engineers, mortarmen and medics. A second M113 was hit by an RPG, but was still operational. Dozens of Iraqi soldiers were charging from the gate or scaling a section of the wall, jumping into the courtyard.
Smith took over the second APC's .50-caliber machine gun and got the vehicle into a position where he could stop the Iraqis. First Sergeant Tim Campbell realized that they had to knock out the Iraqi position in the tower and after consulting with Smith, led two soldiers to take the tower. Armed only with a light machine-gun, a rifle and a pistol with one magazine, the trio advanced behind the smoke of tall grass that had caught fire from exploding ammunition.
Smith yelled for more ammunition three times during the fight, going through 400 rounds before he was hit in the head. Shortly before taking the tower and gunning down the Iraqis inside, Campbell noticed that the sound of Smith's .50-caliber had also stopped. Campbell figured Smith was just reloading again.
The medics worked on SFC Smith for 30 minutes, but he was dead.
According to the citation, his actions killed 20 to 50 Iraqis, allowing the American wounded to be evacuated, saving the aid station and headquarters (as well as possibly 100 American lives). Fellow soldiers credit Smith with thwarting the advance of well-trained, well-equipped soldiers from the Special Republican Guard, which was headed straight for the 2-7 Task Force's headquarters (Tactical Operations Center), less than a half-mile away. The battle captains, commanders and journalists huddled at the operations center were trying to protect themselves against tank fire and snipers in the nearby woods They had no idea about the possible onslaught of Republican Guard from the nearby complex.
May he rest in peace.
Unspoken Assumptions at the Pentagon
[This is the first of two posts about the recent work of Thomas Barnett, author of The Pentagon's New Map. The second will be tomorrow night.]
Thomas P.M. Barnett recently authored a post at The Command Post, entitled, "The Pentagon's Debate Over What Iraq Means." His post unwittingly provides a window into several existing assumptions amongst the conventional wisdom at the Pentagon. Barnett claims a debate rages within the Pentagon:
his debate pits two fundamental, dominant visions of future war against one another. I consider this juxtaposition to be a false dichotomy, meaning a choice that does not need to be made and, frankly, should not be made.The other side of the debate is:
The two sides in this debate are functionally derived: the “air community” versus the “ground community.” The air community tends to be known as the Network-Centric Operations (NCO) crowd, whereas the ground-pounders fall under the rubric of Fourth Generation Warfare (4GW).
Net-centric operations are a long-term effort by the military to understand how the rise of the information age alters the fundamental nature of war. In the vernacular of NCO advocates, the past force was platform-centric, meaning we organized ourselves around the major "platforms", the machines we created to wage war (aircraft, ships, tanks, etc.). The future, by contrast, is network - centric: platforms are nothing more than nodes in a larger network whose main power isn’t its massed fire, but its ability to wield that force with pinpoint accuracy.
4GW is essentially guerrilla war that seeks to defeat an enemy not militarily, but politically, and not on any one battlefield, but over years and even decades of low-intensity conflict. Mao is considered the father of modern 4GW, though it’s obviously been around as long as weak forces have met far superior forces. In his recent book, The Sling and the Stone, Thomas Hammes runs through the history of this modern variant of guerrilla war, from Mao to the Viet Cong to the Sandinistas of Nicaragua to the Intifadas of the Gaza Strip and West Bank. Naturally, al Qaeda is considered very 4GW, coming as it did out of the great victory that was the Islamic insurgency's defeat of the superpower Soviet Union in Afghanistan.What is the fundamental difference between these two types of warfare? Barnett claims one is ground-centric, and one is air-centric, but here he misses the mark. For while those descriptors may define the service communities advocating each, they do not accurately reflect the differences between each type of warfare. In essence there are none.
Consider: so-called fourth generation warfare advocates always examine insurgencies and other rebellions. They rightly consider how best to defeat such movements and forces "politically, and not on any one battlefield, but over years and even decades of low-intensity conflict," according to Barnett. This is nothing more than a rehashing of maneuver warfare, which seeks to avoid strength and attack weakness, to win by ruse, stratagem, and subterfuge, rather than by sheer firepower alone. The "boots on the ground" nature of these techniques is the reason behind Barnett's contention that it is a ground-centric style of warfare.
But Barnett notes that what he terms "net-centric operations" really refers to the "ability to wield that force [of firepower] with pinpoint accuracy." This too is an aspect of maneuver warfare, which favors defining the center of gravity of an enemy, then exploiting a critical vulnerability that allows that center to be defeated. Again, rejecting enemy strengths in favor of enemy weaknesses, and then concentrating firepower where appropriate.
Barnett is wrong to characterize the two types of warfare as existing counter to each other. They are in fact one and the same, but with a key difference that goes to the heart of all of the unspoken assumptions of both Barnett and his Pentagon: "Fourth-generation warfare" in this scenario does not necessarily consider states as adversaries, while "network-centric operations" does. The "differences" in these two types of warfare lie unchallenged within the minds of their adherents: there is a difference in the presumptive target. The very technologies that seek to unite a diverse battlefield in "network-centric operations" are equally as valuable to a grunt who must work with members of other services to share intelligence or targeting information. The technology that enables the so-called "network-centric operation" is one and the same as that enabling the ground-pounders to achieve victory in battles such as Fallujah.
The US military is moving to a point where it can analyze all adversaries as networks, pinpoint the important nodes and the weaknesses, then shape an attack on one part of the network such that the whole ceases to function. But this mentality is the same whether one is a Green Beret or an F-16 pilot.
The unspoken assumptions are thus:
1. The US must choose whether to plan to fight states or non-states.
2. The types of warfare waged by state actors will be fundamentally different than those waged by non-state actors.
These are both dangerous assumptions, and difficult to correct down the road.
Who's to say that a state won't employ guerrilla movements, worldwide to further its aims? Who's to say that a non-state group won't use more "conventional" means to further its own aims? Most importantly, if our adversaries learn from us, they will integrate state and non-state forms of opposition, and "conventional" and "unconventional" forms of warfare in a "comined arms" or even "joint" fasion.
Barnett calls the debate between the two types of warfare -- network-centric, and fourth generation -- a "false dichotomy" because it is "a choice that does not need to be made and, frankly, should not be made."
But there is no difference between the philosophies of war underlying each of these "types." The only difference is in the weapons systems and what Congress will pay for.
Instead, the difference is in the conception of who future enemies might be, and how they might fight. And there is where the blind spot exists.
February 1, 2005
Tinker, Tailor, Green Beret, Spy
Two stories today highlight a "market inefficiency" within the national security apparatus: there is a lack of good human intelligence. The first is by Reuel Marc Gerecht, of the American Enterprise Institute, who writes about the CIA in the Washington Post, here: The Wrong Changes for the CIA. Gerecht doubts that Porter Goss is making any needed changes, despite his publicized house-cleaning at the CIA:
So far, all signs show that his CIA will be the CIA of his predecessor: bureaucratically moribund at headquarters and operationally ineffectual in the field. If this were not the case, we would see Goss and the White House announcing plans first to fire, not hire, hundreds of operatives who do not advance the agency's primary counterterrorism mission.Gerecht believes the use of "Non-official cover" operatives is a necessity for success:
This is especially true for the operatives in the Near East division and the counterterrorism center, the two parts of the CIA most responsible for running operations against Islamic extremists. "Inside" officers simply cannot maneuver outside in an effective way. An officially covered case officer posted to Yemen trying to fish in fundamentalist circles would be immediately spotted by the internal security service, to say nothing of fundamentalists. And security concerns since Sept. 11 often seriously restrict the activities of CIA officers based in official U.S. facilities abroad.Gerecht's stated number of a mere dozen NOCs for the Middle East is surprising because he believes so few are needed, and scary, because it means there aren't even a dozen now. Gerecht rightly asks if any sort of long-term after-action analysis of the CIA's past efforts has ever been undertaken:
Meanwhile, nonofficial cover officers working in the Middle East are, according to active-duty case officers, still mostly doing short-term work, flying in and out on brief assignments. Like their NOC colleagues elsewhere in the world, they are usually trapped by business cover that has little relevance to high-priority, dangerous targets.
The agency desperately needs to develop the culture and capacity to mimic the Islamic activist organizations that attract young male militants. Creating such useful counterterrorist front organizations -- Islamic charities and educational foundations -- isn't labor-intensive, but it does take time. A dozen operatives, based at headquarters and as NOCs abroad, would be sufficient. But the clandestine service as currently structured and led would resist designing such a program, let alone trying to attract the people with the right backgrounds to accomplish the task. To go after the Islamic terrorist target in this way -- to wean the CIA from its ever-growing dependence on Middle Eastern intelligence services and stations full of "inside" officers -- would cause a revolt at Langley.
To my knowledge, there has never been a single study of the efficacy of CIA officers deployed against any target during the Cold War. The agency never once sat down and reviewed how and why case officers were stationed abroad. Certain targets would suddenly grow in importance -- Cuba, Iran or Iraq -- and large operational desks would become even larger task forces, all fueled by the assumption that bigger is better. According to active-duty officers, no serious evaluation has so far been done on the world of Islamic extremists, even though the number of officers assigned to this target has grown exponentially.The CIA, in other words, has no metric for judging its own intelligence performance.
Given this weakness on the CIA's part, the Pentagon is making up the difference. The International Herald Tribune notes that the Pentagon now gets to pay informers:
Congress has given the Pentagon important new authority to fight terrorism by authorizing Special Operations forces for the first time to spend money to pay informers and recruit foreign paramilitary soldiers.Given the division of labor that these differences in collection presuppose, it seems that the CIA will continue to concentrate on strategic level information, whereas the role of the Pentagon in gathering intelligence will be more tactically or operationally based.
A Pentagon spokesman, Bryan Whitman, said the new authority was necessary to avoid a repetition of problems encountered in the invasion of Afghanistan in 2001. During that conflict, Special Operations troops had to wait for the CIA to pay informers and could not always count on timely support, the Pentagon concluded.
Defense Department officials did not call attention to the program even at a briefing last week in which they confirmed news reports about other steps to broaden the military's involvement in intelligence operations. Those include the formation of a new clandestine unit within the Defense Intelligence Agency to work more closely with Special Operations forces in supporting battlefield missions, including counterterrorism operations.
The difference between the two could constitue a seam in information-sharing. How well will each integrate the other's information when formulating analyses or predictions (actually, that's laughable -- the CIA predicts nothing, though any good intelligence analyst is also a futurist by disposition)? Wouldn't much of the small-scale, tactical data that the Special Forces will gather be useful to building a bigger picture at the CIA?
And if the CIA abdicates any role for smaller-scale info gathering -- like cultivating relationships at lower levels in other countries -- the Pentagon cannot cover all the bases. Consider China, a state about whom it is wise to hold a healthy paranoia. There is no Special Forces Group that learns Chinese. And deploying Special Forces in China is, well, rather unlikely. Perhaps this is beyond the scope of the Pentagon program. But who will deploy low-level information gatherers in China? If the current Pentagon program does not contemplate such concerns, one of two things will happen. Either the Pentagon program will grow, or the CIA will take over that task after it has reformed itself.
Does it really matter who is doing the gathering, so long as it does get done, and is shared effectively?
This is just plain mesmerizing
In case you missed it yesterday:
The Left Starts to Second-Guess Its War Opposition
Obviously, I'm still curious to see if Bush is willing to allow the Iraqis to install a government that is free to kick us out or to oppose our other foreign policy efforts in the region.
So is the rest of the world.
For now, though, I think we have to cut the president some slack about a timetable for his exit strategy.
If it turns out Bush was right all along, this is going to require some serious penance.
Maybe I'd have to vote Republican in 2008.
JON STEWART MAY IMPLODE? [Tim Graham]
Jon Stewart, late in the Daily Show last night to Newsweek pundit Fareed Zakaria: "I’ve watched this thing unfold from the start and here’s the great fear that I have: What if Bush, the president, ours, has been right about this all along? I feel like my world view will not sustain itself and I may, and again I don’t know if I can physically do this, implode. (Hat tip: David Frum).
Posted at 02:04 PM
"Seized Soldier" is actually GI JOE!
Don't have any lib sites bookmarked to see what the left said about this when it happened. But would be funny to check now.
The Blogosphere is Moving on Up
In today's Current News Service, also known as "The Early Bird," (accessible to active and reserve members of DoD) there appears amongst the regular news and opinion pieces from the major dailies, this solitary post from Alaa, an Iraqi blogger, who authors The Mesopotamian:
Greetings Friends,This is great news for the blogosphere. Seems like a great idea for the Early Bird to cover blogger opinion. Interesting that they chose an Iraqi for the first. Alaa is a good blogger. Who else will they cover?
I bow in respect and awe to the men and women of our people who, armed only with faith and hope are going to the polls under the very real threats of being blown to pieces. These are the real braves; not the miserable creatures of hate who are attacking one of the noblest things that has ever happened to us. Have you ever seen anything like this? Iraq will be O.K. with so many brave people, it will certainly O.K.; I can say no more just now; I am just filled with pride and moved beyond words. People are turning up not only under the present threat to polling stations but also under future threats to themselves and their families; yet they are coming, and keep coming. Behold the Iraqi people; now you know their true metal. We shall never forget the meanness of these bas…s. After this is over there will be no let up, they must be wiped out. It is our duty and the duty of every decent human to make sure this vermin is no more and that no more innocent decent people are victimized.
My condolences to the Great American people for the tragic recent losses of soldiers. The blood of Iraqis and Americans is being shed on the soil of Mesopotamia; a baptism with blood. A baptism of a lasting friendship and alliance, for many years to come, through thick and thin, we shall never forget the brave soldiers fallen while defending our freedom and future.
This is a very hurried message, while we are witnessing something quite extraordinary. I myself have voted and so did members of my family. Thank God for giving us the chance.
Salaam for now
A withdrawal of some earlier criticism of the Early Bird, back in November, from this post might even be in order:
The Early Bird has made two changes:Last week, by the way, one of Wretchard's posts made it into RealClearPolitics. The blending of blogging and traditional media continues afoot . . .
1. The Main edition is now available 7 days a week.
2. The Supplemental edition has been scrapped completely.
While making the Main edition available on weekends is nice, I think scrapping the Supplement is a mistake. The Main edition is filled with stories from the major newspapers -- NY Times, Washington Post, Chicago Tribune, Los Angeles, etc. These papers make up around 60-70% of the content of the Main edition. The Supplement on the other hand always had stories from local papers, foreign papers, and not just papers, but magazines and journals as well. The Supplement also carried stories that were behind-the-scenes and more in-depth, as opposed to the headline-grabbing stuff you see in the Main edition. The result is that the stories in the Main edition are nearly always told from the same angle or reporting slant, whereas those in the Supplement were varied and much more interesting (I once read a translated interview with Donald Rumsfeld from the French press in the Supplement -- very enlightening). The bottom line is that the Supplement was an outstanding repository of open-source news about defense issues, whereas the Main edition is just a wave-top view of current headlines, with all of the predictable left-media spin.
I know this is irrelevant to many of my readers, but you never know who in the Pentagon might read my blog. Maybe they'll change their minds.