Target Centermass

2/22/2007

Links o’ the Day

Filed under: — Gunner @ 11:18 pm

Just some links for y’all, as I’m currently packing for a weekend excursion to College Station to watch the surprising Texas A&M men’s basketball team match up against Baylor. My Aggies are currently ranked #8 and #9 in the polls, and that was more than enough reason for a guys’ weekend away with some old friends.

Anyway, on with the links.

Victory Caucus

The Victory Caucus

We support victory in the war against radical Islamists. We supported the invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq, and we believe victory is necessary in both countries for America’s self-defense.

We believe that the radical regime in Iran, while not representative of the Iranian people, is a menace and that it cannot be allowed to obtain or build nuclear weapons.

We believe that Hezbollah is a terrorist organization that has killed hundreds of Americans and which waged war against Israel in violation of every law of war this past summer, and will do so again in the future.

We believe Israel is our ally and friend and deserves the full assistance of the United States in its battle with radical Islamists. We believe that Israel has repeatedly shown its willingness to negotiate a just and lasting peace, but that its enemies do not want peace, but the destruction of Israel.

We believe that the American military is the finest in the world and indeed in history, well led and superbly trained, and populated at every level by America’s best and brightest.

We support the troops, and those organizations which assist the wounded in their recoveries and support the families of those who sacrificed everything.

We support leaders who support victory.

Part blog, part message board, still getting its feet wet.

The Danger Room

A blog about what’s next in national security. Hat tip to Op-For.

Pin-ups for Vets

I always loved the beautiful pin-up photos and paintings from the World War II era that American soldiers took overseas with them to boost their morale. The troops often carried these “cheesecake” pictures with them into war to help remind them of what they were fighting for back home. One of the most famous pinup shots was taken in the 1940’s of actress Betty Grable, in a bathing suit, looking back over her shoulder.

With these old glamorous pictures as inspiration, I decided to try to recreate the feeling of these nostalgic pin-ups in my own photo shoots, and then assemble my pictures in a calendar for a fundraiser to benefit the programs that support the hospitalized Veterans, injured in ALL wars, past and present.

A one-woman good cause worthy of your time. Both the cause and the lady are certainly worth a gander.

Appeal for Courage

Received in an email request:

Hello from Baghdad.

I and a Vietnam vet friend of mine have launched a new site, AppealForCourage.org which allows active duty military to (legally) tell Congress and the media that they should support our mission, and that their criticism does hurt our morale while emboldening our enemies.

This site is partly in response to the leftist site AppealForRedress [edit: Grayhawk has more about this over at the Mudville Gazette]. It was created by a big money group and given a free pass by the media. I don’t have any money for advertising, and I don’t expect the media to help.

If you folks could help publicize it in other websites and to your military friends, I think we could get thousands of signatures and have an impact at this crucial juncture in the war. Thank-you for your help.

V/r,
LT Jason Nichols, USN
MNF-I, Baghdad

Consider it done, sir.

Fullbore Friday

One of my favorite recurring features in the blogosphere is the weekly posting of Fullbore Friday, brought to you by CDR Salamander. Each week, he brings a little piece of military history, usually naval and often focusing on a gallant performance by a particular ship. As a little sample, here’s a recent posting about an engagement that fascinated me when I first read about it as a little child — the clash of the British cruisers Exeter, Ajax and Achilles against the German pocket battleship Graf Spee at the Battle of the River Plate. After that, be sure to keep an eye out tomorrow for the next Fullbore Friday feature.

UPDATE: While I’m plugging CDR Salamander, I thought I’d take a quick moment to discuss a recent visitor to Target Centermass. Click the “more” for the curious Site Meter listing.
(more…)

2/21/2007

What if it Takes a Democrat?

Filed under: — Gunner @ 11:34 pm

Is a Democratic president thrust to the helm in 2008 the only way to get both parties behind the seriousness of Iraq? Jonah Goldberg toes the precipice of this line of thought.

This wisp of a notion is simply this: Maybe a Democrat should win in 2008.

Personally, I don’t believe in this poltergeist, at least not yet. But every now and then, I must confess, I do shiver from its touch.

The idea goes something like this: If you believe that the war on terror is real — really real — then you think it is inevitable that more and bloodier conflicts with radical Islam are on the way, regardless of who is in the White House. If the clash of civilizations is afoot, then the issues separating Democrats and Republicans are as pressing as whether the captain of the Titanic is going to have fish or chicken for dinner. There’s a showdown coming. Period. Full stop. My task isn’t to convince you that this view is correct (though I basically believe it is), but merely that it is honestly and firmly held by many on the right and by a comparative handful on the left.

And that’s the problem: Only a handful of people on the Left — and far too few liberals — see radical Islamists as a bigger threat than George W. Bush. Which is why if you really think that we are in an existential conflict with a deadly enemy, there’s a good case for the Democrats to take the reins. Not because Democrats are better, wiser or more responsible about foreign policy. That’s a case for Democrats to make about themselves and certainly not one many on the right believe. No, the argument, felt in places we don’t talk about at cocktail parties (vide A Few Good Men), is that the Democrats have been such irresponsible backseat drivers that they have to be forced to take the wheel to grasp how treacherous the road ahead is.

While I agree with Mr. Goldberg that we are indeed facing a clash of two civilizations, the modern West and primitive barbarism of expansionist radical Islam, and I agree with some of the points he presents for this notion, I just cannot embrace it. Should the Dems triumph in ’08, I would expect a rapid withdrawal from Iraq with little or no increase in focus on Afghanistan. I also would not expect another 9/11, at least not during the first term and not if our enemies have a clue. That would be a window for our enemies to consolidate their position in Iraq, shift their eyes to Afghanistan, and continue relatively unabated their efforts in Europe, northern Africa and the Asian Pacific region. That would be four years of progress and radicalization on their part and retreat on our part, with all progress of the last five-plus years wasted. That would also be four years of relative peace for the U.S., leaving the Dems in the White House and (presumably) Congress to work toward enacting their policies without substantially strengthening our nation.

No, I cannot embrace that notion at all. That said, it does hinge on a bit of shrewd political calculation and restraint by our enemies, and they have overplayed their hands many times to date. I do wonder how some of the current Democratic candidates would fare in the Oval Office after another 9/11. I also wonder if it would again take something on the scope of 9/11 for them to see it as something worthy of a sizable response.

Either way, all initiative would be handed back to our enemies.

Hat tip to Dean Esmay, who doesn’t agree with Mr. Goldberg and me that it is a war of civilizations. Perhaps that is because he thinks that Goldberg considers the other civilization to be Islam rather than a dangerous subset. Still, Mr. Esmay makes a couple of key observations, one bitingly bitter and one truly rational, so I’ll let him have the last words here.

But I do, with some sadness, agree with most of his other arguments. In the year or two after 9/11 I genuinely believed in “partisanship ends at the water’s edges.” Democrats stomped that to death for me and made me feel deeply betrayed. Now I feel cynical, and like their party will only grow up on this issue if they’re actually forced to be put in charge.

Besides, we’re going to have a Democratic administration sooner or later.

2/20/2007

Murtha! Murtha! Murtha!

Filed under: — Gunner @ 10:58 pm

With apologies to the Brady Bunch for the headline, here’s a link dump about pro-retreat Congressman John Murtha (D-IsForDefeat) and his plans to control (read undermine) our military efforts in Iraq. Oh yeah, there’s a little thrown in along the way about Nancy Pelosi and the bulk of the Congressional Democrats.

Not the ‘Real Vote’

REP. JOHN MURTHA (D-Pa.) has a message for anyone who spent the week following the House of Representatives’ marathon debate on Iraq: You’ve been distracted by a sideshow. “We have to be careful that people don’t think this is the vote,” the 74-year-old congressman said of the House’s 246-182 decision in favor of a resolution disapproving of President Bush’s troop surge. “The real vote will come on the legislation we’re putting together.” That would be Mr. Murtha’s plan to “stop the surge” and “force a redeployment” of U.S. forces from Iraq while ducking the responsibility that should come with such a radical step.

[…]

Mr. Murtha has a different idea. He would stop the surge by crudely hamstringing the ability of military commanders to deploy troops. In an interview carried Thursday by the Web site MoveCongress.org, Mr. Murtha said he would attach language to a war funding bill that would prohibit the redeployment of units that have been at home for less than a year, stop the extension of tours beyond 12 months, and prohibit units from shipping out if they do not train with all of their equipment. His aim, he made clear, is not to improve readiness but to “stop the surge.” So why not straightforwardly strip the money out of the appropriations bill — an action Congress is clearly empowered to take — rather than try to micromanage the Army in a way that may be unconstitutional? Because, Mr. Murtha said, it will deflect accusations that he is trying to do what he is trying to do. “What we are saying will be very hard to find fault with,” he said.

Mr. Murtha’s cynicism is matched by an alarming ignorance about conditions in Iraq.

Unparalleled Perfidy

The party of John Murtha shamelessly seeks to defund and defeat U.S. troops on the battlefield and snatch defeat from the jaws of victory. The Congress the terrorists wanted is doing their bidding.

There’s a reason the founders of this country designated a single commander in chief and placed the responsibility to wage war in the hands of the president. We saw recently the futility of having 100 commanders in chief when the Senate tried to pass a resolution of disapproval of the war in Iraq and couldn’t agree on the terms of our surrender.

Now it’s the House of Representatives’ turn, led by Rep. John Murtha, who believes the fine young men and women we send to defeat terror and our sworn enemies are cold-blooded killers. While the House works on its own nonbinding resolution, Murtha has bigger plans and considers such a resolution only a prelude to the real battle in March over appropriations for the war.

[…]

As we’ve noted on several occasions, Democratic talk of “redeployment” has encouraged terrorist groups around the world.

Jihad Jaara, a senior member of the al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, said before the 2006 vote: “Americans should vote Democratic,” adding that “it is time the American people support those who want to take them out of the Iraqi mud.” The statement could have come from Murtha, Kerry, Hillary or any number of Democrats.

We find it scary that the Democratic and terrorist game plans are indistinguishable.

Hat tip to the above goes to Chap, who throws his own pondering into the mix.

My pondering is as follows: is Murtha’s legislation regarding training, rotations and equipment going to apply to the Afghan theater? You know, the campaign the Dems supposedly support. I don’t see how he’d be able to separate the two without setting himself up for a constitutionally-backed debacle. He may be able to affect funding policy, but it’s highly unlikely that he could do so only in a particular theater without blatantly overstepping the established role of the president as commander in chief.

But wait, there’s much, much more.

War Power Game: The coming constiutional crisis

There is a straightforward way for Congress to end a war: Cut off its entire funding. Congress has the power of the purse, the most important lever of legislative influence in the Anglo-American tradition. But House Democrats don’t want to wield this power because they’re afraid it will expose them to charges of defunding the troops. So they are resorting to an unconstitutional expedient instead.

[…]

Murtha repeatedly says in the webcast that his proposals are meant to “protect” the troops. But he is frank about the not-so-ulterior motive of keeping more troops from heading to Iraq, explaining that “they won’t be able to do the work.” Because his provisions can be sold as guaranteeing the readiness and quality-of-life of the troops, Murtha believes that they “will be very hard to find fault with.”

Only if one ignores our constitutional scheme. The president, not Congress, is the commander in chief. Congress was never meant to, nor is it suited to, direct tactical military decisions, as Murtha seeks to do with his restrictions.

Arguably, his maneuver will be the most blatant congressional intrusion on the president’s war-making powers in the nation’s history. Congress choked off the Vietnam War in the 1970s, but only after U.S. ground troops were mostly already out of the country and chiefly as a matter of cutting off aid to South Vietnam.

Just as disturbing is Murtha’s cynical reliance on failure in Iraq as a political strategy.

Hat tip to Blackfive, who calls it a must-read. I agree, if only for the disheartening notion later on in the column about what political fallout may result from this constitutional end-around.

Novak: Murtha in Command

After 16 undistinguished terms in Congress, Rep. John P. Murtha at long last felt his moment had arrived. He could not keep quiet the secret Democratic strategy that he had forged for the promised “second step” against President Bush’s Iraq policy (after the “first step” of a nonbinding resolution of disapproval). In an interview last Thursday with the antiwar Web site MoveCongress.org, he revealed plans to put conditions on funding of U.S. troops. His message: I am running this show.

Indeed he is. Murtha and his ally House Speaker Nancy Pelosi were humiliated last Nov. 16 when the Democratic caucus overwhelmingly voted against Murtha as majority leader. Three months later, Murtha has shaped party policy that would cripple Bush’s Iraq troop surge by placing conditions on funding. That represents the most daring congressional attempt to micromanage ongoing armed hostilities since the Joint Committee on the Conduct of the War challenged President Abraham Lincoln.

Peters: Cowards Give up on GIs – & Give in to Evil

PROVIDING aid and comfort to the enemy in wartime is treason. It’s not “just politics.” It’s treason.

And signaling our enemies that Congress wants them to win isn’t “supporting our troops.”

The “nonbinding resolution” telling the world that we intend to surrender to terrorism and abandon Iraq may be the most disgraceful congressional action since the Democratic Party united to defend slavery.

The vote was a huge morale booster for al Qaeda, for Iraq’s Sunni insurgents, and for the worst of the Shia militias.

The message Congress just sent to them all was, “Hold on, we’ll stop the surge, we’re going to leave – and you can slaughter the innocent with our blessing.”

We’ve reached a low point in the history of our government when a substantial number of legislators would welcome an American defeat in Iraq for domestic political advantage.

[…]

And a word about those troops: It’s going to come as a shock to the massive egos in Congress, but this resolution won’t hurt morale – for the simple reason that our men and women in uniform have such low expectations of our politicians that they’ll shrug this off as business as usual.

This resolution has teeth, though: It’s going to bite our combat commanders. By undermining their credibility and shaking the trust of their Iraqi counterparts, it makes it far tougher to build the alliances that might give Iraq a chance.

If you were an Iraqi, would you be willing to trust Americans and risk your life after the United States Congress voted to abandon you?

Emphasis in original. Ralph Peters is perhaps my favorite columnist and, as I’ve repeatedly said, I’m always happy to link to his incisive efforts.

Steyn: Why the Iraq war is turning into America’s defeat

The Middle East is a crazy place and a tough nut to crack, but the myth of the unbeatable Islamist insurgent is merely a lazy and more neurotic update of the myth of the unbeatable communist guerrilla, which delusion led to so much pre-emptive surrender in the ’70s. Nevertheless, in the capital city of the most powerful nation on the planet, the political class spent last week trying to craft a bipartisan defeat strategy, and they might yet pull it off. Consider this extraordinary report from the Washington Post:

“Democratic leaders have rallied around a strategy that would fully fund the president’s $100 billion request for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan but would limit his ability to use the money. . . . The plan is aimed at tamping down calls from the Democrats’ liberal wing for Congress to simply end funding for the war.

“The Murtha plan, based on existing military guidelines, includes a stipulation that Army troops who have already served in Iraq must be granted two years at home before an additional deployment. . . . The idea is to slowly choke off the war by stopping the deployment of troops from units that have been badly degraded by four years of combat.”

So “the Murtha plan” is to deny the president the possibility of victory while making sure Democrats don’t have to share the blame for the defeat. But of course he’s a great American! He’s a patriot! He supports the troops! He doesn’t support them in the mission, but he’d like them to continue failing at it for a couple more years. As John Kerry wondered during Vietnam, how do you ask a soldier to be the last man to die for a mistake? By nominally “fully funding” a war you don’t believe in but “limiting his ability to use the money.” Or as the endearingly honest anti-war group MoveCongress.org put it, in an e-mail preview of an exclusive interview with the wise old Murtha:

“Chairman Murtha will describe his strategy for not only limiting the deployment of troops to Iraq but undermining other aspects of the president’s foreign and national security policy.”

“Undermining”? Why not? To the Slow-Bleed Democrats, it’s the Republicans’ war. To an increasing number of what my radio pal Hugh Hewitt calls the White-Flag Republicans, it’s Bush’s war. To everyone else on the planet, it’s America’s war. And it will be America’s defeat.

Whew! When these columns and editorials are taken as a whole, that’s an awful lot of sudden double-takes by the media at the efforts of Murtha. Well, maybe not so sudden for Peters and Steyn at least.

It’s also a lot of words that should inspire a great deal of anger in the reader. Hey, why not relax a bit from the news and opinions with a look at the comics section. Flopping Aces brings the related editorial cartoons. Yeah, they don’t look too highly on Murtha and the Dems either. Hat tip to Hyscience.

11/20/2006

Rangel Renews Call for Draft

Filed under: — Gunner @ 11:35 pm

During my election night thoughts a few weeks ago, I pondered how the Democrats would lead congress. One point I specifically made was to challenge Congressman Charles Rangel to once again bring forth his legislation calling for a reinstatement of the draft. Well, apparently he intends to do just that.

The incoming Democratic chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee said yesterday that he will push to renew the military draft, as lawmakers in both parties sharpened their criticisms of the situation in Iraq and struggled for consensus and solutions.

[…]

Rep. Charles B. Rangel (D-N.Y.) has long advocated returning to the draft, but his efforts drew little attention during the 12 years that House Democrats were in the minority. Starting in January, however, he will chair the tax-writing Ways and Means Committee. Yesterday he said “you bet your life” he will renew his drive for a draft.

“I will be introducing that bill as soon as we start the new session,” Rangel said on CBS’s “Face the Nation.” He portrayed the draft, suspended since 1973, as a means of spreading military obligations more equitably and prompting political leaders to think twice before starting wars.

“There’s no question in my mind that this president and this administration would never have invaded Iraq, especially on the flimsy evidence that was presented to the Congress, if indeed we had a draft and members of Congress and the administration thought that their kids from their communities would be placed in harm’s way,” said Rangel, a Korean War veteran. “If we’re going to challenge Iran and challenge North Korea and then, as some people have asked, to send more troops to Iraq, we can’t do that without a draft.”

Rangel has drawn modest support for his draft proposal in recent years and it has been unclear whether its prospects might improve in the 110th Congress.

Let’s make one small matter clear before we get to the heart of the issue. The WaPo folks are practically redefining the term “modest” when describing support for earlier versions of Rangel’s legislation. “Scant” or “pathetic” would have been far better terms. In fact, when the Democrats raised the spectre of a possible draft during the 2004 presidential campaign, the Republican leadership craftily brought Rangel’s legislation to the floor for a vote. The result? A 402-2 shellacking against, including a “nay” from Rangel, who then whined that the Republicans were merely playing politics.

Well, if the Republicans were playing politics by actually voting on legislation submitted by Rangel, then what was the point of the legislation? As Bob Owens of Confederate Yankee makes evident, the Rangel’s motivation is all disgusting politics and class-dividing garbage.

Lets be very, very clear: Charles Rangel doesn’t give a damn about the “equitably” of service in our nation’s military, which to date, is over-represented by soldiers who are more rural, wealthy, and better educated than their peers. He instead clings to often disproven lies that the military is disproportionately made up of minorities and the poor.

Rangel willingly lies, but lies with a purpose.

[…]

Rangel’s tactics are particularly loathsome in that he seeks to use our all-volunteer military as the whipping boy for his anti-war politics. He would attempt to pit draft-age Americans and their family members against those who honorably joined the military of their own volition.

I entirely agree. When I first blogged about the vote on Rangel’s legislation [see link above], I condemned the man for his willingness to politicize the military by proposing the draft legislation with no regard whatsoever for the bests interests of the military but instead based solely upon his own class-based and anti-military motives. Indeed, I contend that any of our elected federal officials should be despised for any military-related legislation put forth whose true intent is not meant to add to either the lethality, effectiveness, medical welfare or financial security of our fighting forces or to designate where said forces can ply their trade.

Gateway Pundit, meanwhile, is also sick of Rangel’s class-warfare draft motivation but is focusing his attention elsewhere — specifically, on the mainstream media that is continuing to carry Rangel’s tripe unquestioned.

Obviously, after the number of times that this story has been told and retold over the last 24 hours the media has no intention of correcting Rangel’s assertions that our soldiers come from “low income families”. Here’s the truth[…]

Blackfive‘s Matt responds to Rangel with some constructive criticism, as follows:

If I was Charlie Rangel *cough, cough*, I wouldn’t be playing the draft straw man in front of the world. It was already voted down by a margin of close to 400 against (including Rangel). This is a pure media play…why?…not really sure.

What Charlie Rangel should say is that anyone who supports the war, but doesn’t support troops with increased pay, bonuses, health care, veterans benefits, etc. is hypocritical. And while we’re at it, let’s stand up the 7th Light and a Marine Division and see what happens before the draft needs to be invoked.

I’ve said it before…I would activate everybody (Reserves, NG, Retired, IRR) with the message that you’re in for the duration of the war plus six months. Instead of a draft, this would get most people to understand what is at stake and that we are committed to victory. It’s a WWII mentality, rather than a “police action” mentality.

Fine in thought and intent, and it certainly passes my intended-for-the-military’s-betterment smell test, but alas! I don’t see it as quite feasible … yet. Someday soon it may be so, and our situation against the global Islamist enemy would certainly justify it in my eyes, but unfortunately the American public is generally not aware of the danger. Perhaps someday, which is true to my oft-stated beliefs that nothing should ever be taken off the table for military consideration. That goes also for the draft, as there may again come a day when the need for numbers is so pressing that conscription is actually needed. That said, I am disgusted by Rangel’s toying with the military and am interested in how hard he’ll actually push his legislation. The facts and numbers, as well as the desires of both the military and the American public, are most assuredly not on his side. I hope he is fervent in his endeavour, as it would be entertaining watching his fellow Dems squirm.

11/16/2006

The Will to Win

Filed under: — Gunner @ 12:22 am

Have we, as a nation, lost it? More importantly, have our civilian and military leaders lost it, and have Americans forgotten the need to continue the fight, not only because of our enemies today but our potential enemies tomorrow?

Yes, it’s a link dump questioning our will to fight and win, presented in three parts. Here’s hoping y’all read each of them in their entirety.

Ralph Peters: Politically Correct War [emphasis in original]

Have we lost the will to win wars? Not just in Iraq, but anywhere? Do we really believe that being nice is more important than victory?

It’s hard enough to bear the timidity of our civilian leaders – anxious to start wars but without the guts to finish them – but now military leaders have fallen prey to political correctness. Unwilling to accept that war is, by its nature, a savage act and that defeat is immoral, influential officers are arguing for a kinder, gentler approach to our enemies.

They’re going to lead us into failure, sacrificing our soldiers and Marines for nothing: Political correctness kills.

Obsessed with low-level “tactical” morality – war’s inevitable mistakes – the officers in question have lost sight of the strategic morality of winning. Our Army and Marine Corps are about to suffer the imposition of a new counterinsurgency doctrine designed for fairy-tale conflicts and utterly inappropriate for the religion-fueled, ethnicity-driven hyper-violence of our time.

We’re back to struggling to win hearts and minds that can’t be won.

The good news is that the Army and Marine Corps worked together on the new counterinsurgency doctrine laid out in Field Manual 3-24 (the Army version). The bad news is that the doctrine writers and their superiors came up with fatally wrong prescriptions for combating today’s insurgencies.

Astonishingly, the doctrine ignores faith-inspired terrorism and skirts ethnic issues in favor of analyzing yesteryear’s political insurgencies. It would be a terri- fic manual if we returned to Vietnam circa 1963, but its recommendations are profoundly misguided when it comes to fighting terrorists intoxicated with religious visions and the smell of blood.

Why did the officers in question avoid the decisive question of religion? Because the answers would have been ugly.

[…]

The politically correct atmosphere in Washington deems any discussion of religion as a strategic factor indelicate: Let our troops die, just don’t hurt anyone’s feelings.

So the doctrine writers faked it, treating all insurgencies as political. As a result, they prescribed an excellent head-cold treatment – for a cancer patient. The text is a mush of pop-zen mantras such as “Sometimes doing nothing is the best reaction,” “The best weapons do not shoot,” or “The more force used, the less effective it is.”

That’s just nutty.

Douglas Hanson: The Generals’ Fantasy Wars

When consummate Rumsfeld critic Ralph Peters finally comes to the conclusion that maybe the senior level military commanders running the war just might have had something to do with the mess in Iraq, you know an earth-shattering revelation has just occurred. Unfortunately, Peters’ public unburdening has come two years too late to save one of the most effective defense secretaries in history.

[…]

One of the major criticisms of the SecDef was his unyielding desire to modernize the military over all else. It may be a shock to some people, but the Army’s deep thinkers have been playing around with alternative warfighting concepts and associated hardware long before Rumsfeld assumed office. Slamming Rummy over his near-religious devotion to all things transformational is the height of hypocrisy.

This whole transformation initiative actually came about in the 1990s, in an effort to cope with drastically reduced end-strength and defense budgets. Digitization, light forces, and post-modern theories on battle were rationalized as the wave of the future. Operations in Bosnia and Kosovo and the air war against Serbia only reinforced false notions of painless conflicts.

Criteria for success consisted of demonstrating proficiency at proving the “no-cost” theory of battle instead of doing what it takes to win wars. Academic credentials replaced tours with troop units, and frankly, a few leaders had no objective grasp of reality about the nature of war, especially if we ever ran into hard-core fanatics who were not interested in sitting at the bargaining table.

Years later, after one of the most successful offensives in military history, our huge advantage in Iraq was frittered away by quickly returning to the 1990s comfort zone. Presence patrols were reported euphemistically as “offensive operations,” humanitarian aid supplies had priority for shipment over spare parts for combat systems, and bartering with the enemy became standard operating procedure.

[…]

In Iraq, the response to increasing attacks on both Iraqi security services and US forces was to officially deny the presence of die-hards of Saddam’s Army, while pinning the blame on some mysterious “insurgency” run by Al-Qaeda’s second-in-command, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi. The problem is, once he was killed, the finest troops in the world went back to their base camps and allowed the cadre of the Special Republican Guard and the Iraqi Intelligence Service to continue their campaign of terror and attrition. They weren’t quitting no matter how many schools or hospitals we built.

The military theorists and think tanks need to gaze into their navels some more. If I understand them correctly, they are convinced President Bush’s remarkable and forward thinking democratization strategy in the region has failed because they didn’t hunt down and kill the enemy with purpose and passion. And that respnsibility falls on … Rumsfeld? Cheney? The President? Maybe they all need to go back to school, or better yet, just go home.

[…]

The supreme irony of the campaign against Rummy and the President is that by all indications, both listened intently to their generals in the field and gave them free reign to pursue their post-modern warfighting theories into oblivion.

Hat tip to the Discerning Texan.

Mark Steyn: U.S. must prove it’s a staying power

On the radio a couple of weeks ago, Hugh Hewitt suggested to me the terrorists might try to pull a Spain on the U.S. elections. You’ll recall (though evidently many Americans don’t) that in 2004 hundreds of commuters were slaughtered in multiple train bombings in Madrid. The Spaniards responded with a huge street demonstration of supposed solidarity with the dead, all teary passivity and signs saying “Basta!” — “Enough!” By which they meant not “enough!” of these murderers but “enough!” of the government of Prime Minister Aznar, and of Bush and Blair, and troops in Iraq. A couple of days later, they voted in a socialist government, which immediately withdrew Spanish forces from the Middle East. A profitable couple of hours’ work for the jihad.

I said to Hugh I didn’t think that would happen this time round. The enemy aren’t a bunch of simpleton Pushtun yakherds, but relatively sophisticated at least in their understanding of us. We’re all infidels, but not all infidels crack the same way. If they’d done a Spain — blown up a bunch of subway cars in New York or vaporized the Empire State Building — they’d have re-awoken the primal anger of September 2001. With another mound of corpses piled sky-high, the electorate would have stampeded into the Republican column and demanded the U.S. fly somewhere and bomb someone.

The jihad crowd know that. So instead they employed a craftier strategy. Their view of America is roughly that of the British historian Niall Ferguson — that the Great Satan is the first superpower with ADHD. They reasoned that if you could subject Americans to the drip-drip-drip of remorseless water torture in the deserts of Mesopotamia — a couple of deaths here, a market bombing there, cars burning, smoke over the city on the evening news, day after day after day, and ratcheted up a notch or two for the weeks before the election — you could grind down enough of the electorate and persuade them to vote like Spaniards, without even realizing it. And it worked. You can rationalize what happened on Tuesday in the context of previous sixth-year elections — 1986, 1958, 1938, yada yada — but that’s not how it was seen around the world, either in the chancelleries of Europe, where they’re dancing conga lines, or in the caves of the Hindu Kush, where they would also be dancing conga lines if Mullah Omar hadn’t made it a beheading offense. And, as if to confirm that Tuesday wasn’t merely 1986 or 1938, the president responded to the results by firing the Cabinet officer most closely identified with the prosecution of the war and replacing him with a man associated with James Baker, Brent Scowcroft and the other “stability” fetishists of the unreal realpolitik crowd.

[…]

What does it mean when the world’s hyperpower, responsible for 40 percent of the planet’s military spending, decides that it cannot withstand a guerrilla war with historically low casualties against a ragbag of local insurgents and imported terrorists? You can call it “redeployment” or “exit strategy” or “peace with honor” but, by the time it’s announced on al-Jazeera, you can pretty much bet that whatever official euphemism was agreed on back in Washington will have been lost in translation. Likewise, when it’s announced on “Good Morning Pyongyang” and the Khartoum Network and, come to that, the BBC.

For the rest of the world, the Iraq war isn’t about Iraq; it’s about America, and American will. I’m told that deep in the bowels of the Pentagon there are strategists wargaming for the big showdown with China circa 2030/2040. Well, it’s steady work, I guess. But, as things stand, by the time China’s powerful enough to challenge the United States it won’t need to. Meanwhile, the guys who are challenging us right now — in Iraq, Afghanistan, Iran, North Korea and elsewhere — are regarded by the American electorate like a reality show we’re bored with. Sorry, we don’t want to stick around to see if we win; we’d rather vote ourselves off the island.

As it is, we’re in a very dark place right now. It has been a long time since America unambiguously won a war, and to choose to lose Iraq would be an act of such parochial self-indulgence that the American moment would not endure, and would not deserve to. Europe is becoming semi-Muslim, Third World basket-case states are going nuclear, and, for all that 40 percent of planetary military spending, America can’t muster the will to take on pipsqueak enemies. We think we can just call off the game early, and go back home and watch TV.

It doesn’t work like that.

Hat tip to the Belmont Club.

11/15/2006

James Baker and the Desert Storm Legacy

Filed under: — Gunner @ 11:39 pm

Austin Bay takes a look at the foundation of mistrust of American determination among the populace and points the finger toward a different point in time than al Queda’s examples of America’s previous bail-outs — Iraq in 1991 rather than Beirut, Somalia and Viet Nam [hat tip to Dean].

Iraqis haven’t forgotten the aftermath of Desert Storm. With Saddam’s troops forced to retreat from Kuwait, Shia Arabs throughout southern Iraq rose up against Saddam’s tyranny. Kurds in the north also rebelled. Many Sunnis in Baghdad anticipated the end of Saddam’s “Tikiriti” despotism. Numerous Iraqis tell me post-Desert Storm they anticipated liberation. Instead, they got a dose of so-called Realpolitik — mass murder and a return to dictatorship.

In 1991, Saddam did not fall. His Republican Guards attacked the Shia towns and massacred their inhabitants. At least 50,000 Iraqis were murdered by Saddam’s defeated army.

In the piece, Mr. Bay pauses to look at a little of his own prescience before spilling out our goals and those who oppose us [emphasis added].

In an essay I wrote for the Dec. 9, 2002, issue of The Weekly Standard, I outlined the rough path to that “end state” in Iraq:

“Pity Gen. Tommy Franks or, for that matter, any American military commander tasked with overseeing a post-Saddam Baghdad. For in that amorphous, dicey phase the Pentagon calls ‘war termination’ … U.S. and allied forces liberating Iraq will attempt — more or less simultaneously — to end combat operations, cork public passions, disarm Iraqi battalions, bury the dead, generate electricity, pump potable water, bring law out of embittering lawlessness, empty jails of political prisoners, pack jails with criminals, turn armed partisans into peaceful citizens, re-arm local cops who were once enemy infantry, shoot terrorists, thwart chiselers, carpetbaggers and black-marketeers, fix sewers, feed refugees, patch potholes and get trash trucks rolling, and accomplish all this under the lidless gaze of Peter Jennings and Al-Jazeera.”

In summer 2003, Paul Bremer and his Coalition Provisional Authority weren’t prepared to handle the situation that marathon sentence describes. However, by mid-2004 the U.S. military had hammered out a sound security and recovery plan. The campaign plan met guidelines promulgated in U.N. Security Council Resolution 1546. This resolution is no top-secret document — it’s on the U.N. website.

“Phased withdrawal” of coalition forces has always been the goal. The issue is a realistic “when.”

The Iraqi government confronts extraordinary challenges. Are there rotten Iraqi military units? Yes — but there are also some very good ones. Do Iran and Syria support terrorists and militias? Yes. The dictators want the world to conclude that democracy is culturally and politically alien to the Middle East. They want the world to conclude, like British and French imperialists did in 1919, that Arabs can’t handle democracy.

Of course Iran and Syria do not want us to believe that their region can adapt to and embrace democratic means, as a successful Iraqi democracy could greatly weaken the despotic rulers of these two neighboring states. It should be noted that this goes doubly so for Iran, whose younger population is oft reported to be quite restless under the thumbs of their radical mullah rulers.

This has always been the gamble of the Iraqi campaign — can we offer an inviting alternative and change the nature of the society of the region, a nature that has proved a fertile breeding ground for radical expansionist Islamic barbarians? Should the endeavour fail, there really remain only two alternatives: either continue the fight, only subsequent campaigns must be carried out with extreme Second World War-esque harshness, or retreat, pull in the horns and await the enemy again in our own lands.

Yes, it was a gamble from day one and it may still succeed. Do we have the will? I don’t know, but I had hoped for a stronger spine than I’ve seen to date from the West. Can the Iraqis embrace democracy? Given ample time and support, I’d say yes. It’s not a certainty, but I have some justification in believing so.

Mr. Bay then tries to put his prescience to yet another test by anticipating the upcoming recommendations of the currently-mulling Iraq Study Group.

Enter the James Baker and Lee Hamilton-led Iraq Study Group (ISG). It’s my bet that it will produce nothing original in terms of strategic and operational thinking. It may well produce a set of policy recommendations palatable to Democrats and Republicans — in other words, consensus political cover that allows the sober and wise to continue to support Iraq’s war for freedom and modernity.

Here’s hoping that a palatable course of continued effort will prevail, despite the growing calls of scheduled withdrawal from several among the soon-to-be-in-control congressional democrats.

Let the Bodies Hit the Floor

Filed under: — Gunner @ 10:48 pm

Tired of being beaten over the head with accounts of counts and stories of American military and Iraqi civilian deaths, blogger Chuck Simmins of America’s North Shore Journal has decided to do a little counting of his own.

In recent months, American losses in Iraq and the toll taken on civilians have been in the news. No one seems to be keeping track of the deaths of our enemies. So, I will.

I have created a page called Terrorist Death Watch on which I will be tracking the losses taken by our terrorist enemies. I began the count as of November 1, 2006, to pick a date.

[…]

Is this especially bloodthirsty? I don’t think so since so many of the old media have chosen to run as an on-going feature a listing of our losses in the War on Terror. One of the reasons that so many Americans see the War in negative terms is that the media is only presenting one side of the story.

I agree that the Terrorist Death Watch is not bloodthirsty; indeed, it is merely a collection of data from press releases that the press has decided the public doesn’t need to dwell on or even see, as is more often the case. I would say it is certainly less ghoulish than the media’s constant focus on our own sacrifices while ignoring practically anything being accomplished.

Hat tip to Argghhh!!!

11/14/2006

Good Reads o’ the Day

Filed under: — Gunner @ 11:56 pm

Tonight I just have a little link dump for y’all of the blogging and articles that caught my eye.

Ace: Time Magazine Deliberately Distorted Lebanon Reportage To Bash Israel [emphasis in original]

They didn’t just have the photographer’s word on this — they had the photographic proof! And yet they refused to run the picture at all!

And re-wrote the photo caption — the man-at-the-scene report by the photographer — to triply propagandize for Hezbollah and Lebanon, knowing their caption was 100% false.

If heads don’t roll over this, I don’t know what to say.

Go and read — it’s pretty damning. It’s bad enough that the supposed gatekeepers of information are so biased in what they report and how they report. I agree with Ace that it’s borderline criminal when they outright and intentionally lie to their readers.

Is Heroism ‘Unfit to Print’? [again, emphasis in original]

The nation’s highest honor for combat valor was awarded posthumously to a U.S. Marine from upstate New York on Friday – and The New York Times didn’t notice.

It was a shameful act of neglect, though not surprising in the least.

[…]

It was only the second MOH awarded in the Iraq war, and it was major news everywhere – especially in New York.

But . . . not a word in the Times.

[…]

The Times wasn’t talking yesterday, so let us hazard a guess.

Perhaps, to the Times, Jason Dunham was just another dead Marine – a victim, a statistic, another young life “wasted” in the battle for Iraq.

Or perhaps a heroic Marine doesn’t fit in with the paper’s notion of U.S. soldiers in Iraq?

Hat tip to Cold Fury‘s Sithmonkey, who chimes in with some very good thoughts on the matter. As I stated before, the info gatekeepers in the mainstream media have been absolutely despicable in their coverage of our military and its efforts. I’ll again quote Power Line‘s Paul Mirengoff, who blogged the following:

Have you ever read a history of war that focused almost entirely on casualty figures (with an occasional torture story and grieving parent thrown in), to the exclusion of any real discussion of tactics, operations, and actual battles? I haven’t. But that’s what our self-proclaimed “rough drafters” of history are serving up with respect to Iraq.

Little or no in-depth coverage of tactics, operations, and battles. Sadly, add heroes to Paul’s listing.

Watching the beginning of the end

Over the last year, I have left little hints to regular readers of something that has been bouncing around my head – the coming nuclear war in the Muslim world. I’m not the only one that has been thinking of it over the last year, Charles Krauthammer has as well. Before you go, “Yea, let them nuke it out…” remember that they have the balance of the world’s supply of energy.

With the NORKs making their little nuke go boom, as sure as the sun is a fusion reactor, know that at best the core of Shia Islam (Iran) is at best 2-5 years behind. The Sunni powers will not let this stand. I would hope that many of you understand the 30-years war and what that was all about. Now picture if the Catholic and Protestant powers had nukes. Well, they were progressive minded people compared to the Jim Jones like cult that is running Iran right now. Though they really want to go Persian Empire on everyone, the Iranian issues is more religious than political. That is where the danger lies. Politicians understand negotiation and compromise. They understand give and take. Religious fundamentalists don’t. They were binary before binary existed.

I won’t say that this is CDR Salamander‘s most rose-colored effort, but it certainly is worth your time. Some things possibly just over the horizon ain’t all that pretty. To ignore the tremblings of the volcano is a mistake made by too many in the past.

“Let the bloody wogs sort themselves out” [yet again, emphasis in original]

That might’ve been an unexceptional sentiment in the corridors of Whitehall a century ago, but it’s hardly the sentiment that has traditionally been that of the Democratic party. The times, I guess, are a’changin’.

The current Democratic party line is that they will push for troop reductions in Iraq “as a way of prodding along the paralyzed Iraqi government”. Considering that the Democrats have spent the last two years telling us that iraq was a total write-off anyway, that we never should’ve invaded in the first place, and our policy there was doomed from the start, forgive me if I harbor some reservations about the truth of that reasoning.

In point of fact, the Democratic Party’s leadership simply wants out of Iraq. That’s what they repeatedly told us every day prior to last Tuesday, so I presume that, rather than post-election pontifications, constitutes the Democrat’s real policy, and the reasons for implementing it.

Additionally, I wonder what will happen, and what the Democrats’ policy prescription will be if, in the wake of a pullout, the situation in Iraq goes completely down the toilet.

QandO‘s Dale Franks goes on to look at how another Democrat-supported early withdrawal — a combatus interruptus, if your will — played out a little over three decades ago. The Democrats have often tried to paint the Iraqi theater as another Viet Nam; now apparently may be their opportunity to turn it into such.

Abandoning Iraq [finally, emphasis added]

Regardless of its final composition, and regardless of other pressing issues or its mandate, the leading item of business for the new U.S. Congress will be Iraq.

It didn’t matter who won control of each house — the fix was already in. Look at the composition of the Baker-Hamilton commission, which the outgoing Congress had already appointed to “find a way out of Iraq” — a bipartisan commission, representing the foreign-policy opponents of President Bush in both the Republican and Democratic parties. Soon it will formally report.

James Baker, secretary of state under President Bush’s father, was the man who, in 1989, secured an American exit from Lebanon by effectively surrendering the country to Assad’s Syria. Lee Hamilton, former Democrat chairman of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, joined him in stacking the Commission’s study groups with men and women representing the pre-9/11 foreign policy consensus, which could be summarized in the phrase, “stability through disengagement”. On the Baker-Hamilton plan, Congress will take the war in Iraq out of President Bush’s hands, as Congress took the Vietnam War out of President Nixon’s. Iraq will then be delivered into the hands of Iran’s ayatollahs.

But we can also expect Nancy Pelosi’s victorious Democrats in the new Congress to do everything in their power to recreate the Watergate environment, both for their own electoral prospects in 2008, and “to make an example of” the lame duck currently in the White House. The mainstream media will oblige them, with 24/7 coverage of whatever they allege.

In deposing the regime of Saddam Hussein — now sentenced to hang with the enthusiastic approval of the overwhelming majority of his countrymen, though Iraq itself is first sentenced to endure a ludicrous appeals process — the United States accomplished something well within her military means, in a few weeks of “shock and awe”.

But in trying to build a secular democracy over the ruin of Saddam’s regime, the Americans tried something they had not the stomach for. From the outset, they imposed upon themselves restrictions that would make that fight unwinnable. As in Vietnam, they adopted a purely defensive posture.

So far as President Bush can be blamed, it should be for showing insufficient ruthlessness in a task that could not be accomplished by half-measures. Alternatively, for failing to grasp that America was psychologically unprepared for real war, not only by the memory of Vietnam, but by the grim advance of “liberal” decadence in domestic life over the generation since.

To a degree, I agree with David Warren in this. I have often stated that our primary problem in Iraq since the invasion and overthrow has been that our success was too surgical in nature. Simply put, our enemies — and the Arab world as a whole — were not bloodily shown a great military might and strength of will but merely a technological and tactical wonder. Tactics can be countered and technology can be blunted, given time (and especially given the friendly propaganda machine our enemies have found in “our” media). To prevent this, the tactical and technological edge must be employed ruthlessly to achieve lasting effect. It was Alfred Thayer Mahan that put forth the following:

War, once declared, must be waged offensively, aggressively. The enemy must not be fended off, but smitten down.

Failure to do so allows the enemy to shift toward a war of attrition and will. In this case, Mr. Warren may be correct and I may have been tragically wrong — after the wake-up of 9/11 to the growing danger of our radical expansionist Islamist foes, I expected a little more of an iron nature from the American public. I did not anticipate the actual hostility of the media (see this great piece [part 1 and part 2] by Greyhawk at the Mudville Gazette for an example of some of the media’s venomous passion), nor did I expect so many would work to separate our efforts in Iraq from our efforts against the Islamists while at the same time ignoring the shifting of focus of our Islamist enemies to Iraq. If Warren is indeed correct, I pity the civilization — or lack thereof — that we in the West may be leaving our progeny.

Okay, maybe I should’ve cut out that last link for a post of it’s own. Hat tip to Wretchard at the Belmont Club, an unsurprising source for something so provacative.

11/13/2006

A Blogger Changes his Programming

Filed under: — Gunner @ 11:43 pm

There are a variety of reasons that I’m going, but a fairly compelling one is curiosity coupled with dissatisfaction about the present coverage of the war.

With these words as his reasoning, INDC Journal’s Bill Ardolino has announced that he will be going to Iraq as an embed with American troops. This is a courageous endeavor based upon strong conviction. Presumably, after his efforts in the blog-forced gangbang that was Rathergate, Bill will also be on the lookout for anachronistic typography on terrorist documents.

There is a catch, though, as Bill needs a little assistance in funding his journey. If you can help a good guy out, please do so. Check out the photo that he has linked — we need bloggers like that on the battlefield.

Al-Qaida Escapee Caught in Afghanistan

Filed under: — Gunner @ 11:12 pm

When I blogged the original escape of four high-value detainees in Afghanistan, I stated a hope to follow up on the story. Well, two of the four are now accounted for with the recent arrest of one of the fugitives.

US forces in Afghanistan have captured an Al-Qaida operative who escaped from the main US military prison in the country last year, a Pakistani newspaper reported on Monday.

The man, identified as Abu Nasir al-Qahtani, was captured recently in the southeastern Afghan province of Khost, the News newspaper said, citing Taliban supporters in the Pakistani border region of North Waziristan.

The US military said on Nov. 6 a “known Al-Qaida operative and five other extremists” had been captured during an operation near Khost town early that day.

It did not identify any of those captured. A US military spokesman on Monday referred queries to the US Department of Defence.

Al-Qahtani has been referred to in some news reports as Mohammad Jafar Jamal al-Kahtani.

Four Arab Al-Qaida militants escaped from the heavily fortified US detention centre at Bagram air base, the US military’s main base in Afghanistan on July 11 last year.

At the time, the US military declined to identify them but described them as “dangerous enemy combatants”.

Well, of the four Bagram escapees, we now have one in custody in Afghanistan and one who began taking the long dirt nap in Iraq. That’s progress.

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