Target Centermass

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.

12/26/2006

Former President Gerald Ford Dies

Filed under: — Gunner @ 11:10 pm

President Gerald R. Ford
1913-2006

Thus passes the 38th president of the United States and the first president I clearly remember from my childhood.

Gerald R. Ford, who picked up the pieces of Richard Nixon’s scandal-shattered White House as the 38th and only unelected president in America’s history, has died, his wife, Betty, said Tuesday. He was 93.

Details on his death Tuesday were not immediately available.

Ford had battled pneumonia in January 2006 and underwent two heart treatments — including an angioplasty — in August at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn.

He was the longest living president, followed by Ronald Reagan, who also died at 93. Ford had been living at his desert home in Rancho Mirage, Calif., about 130 miles east of Los Angeles.

Rest well, Mr. President.

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.

11/14/2006

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.

11/9/2006

SecDef Substitution: Rummy out, Gates in

Filed under: — Gunner @ 12:23 am

One of the chief lightning rods for criticism in the Bush administration has been taken down as President Bush announced the departure of Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld.

The winds of change swept from the ballot box into the Pentagon on Wednesday and Americans greeted the resignation of Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld with delight, sadness – and a sense it was long overdue.

[…]

Rumsfeld resigned hours after Democrats seized control of the House and came close to capturing the Senate as well, riding a powerful wave of voter discontent over nearly four years of a war in Iraq with no end in sight.

As an architect of the war, Rumsfeld had become a target of congressional Democrats and more recently some Republicans, with increasing calls for his resignation.

President Bush announced the departure at a news conference and said there would have been a change at the Pentagon regardless of the election results. He also acknowledged that GOP losses reflected voters’ “displeasure with the lack of progress” in Iraq. Surveys at polling places showed about six in 10 voters disapproved of the war.

I, for one, greatly admire the man and generally approve of the reformation he was trying to bring to the American military. It is safe to say, however, that he had made enemies with many of the entrenched brass, especially after his decision to axe the Crusader program, and that he had been demonized by political opponents and many in the media over Iraq to the point of ineffectiveness.

Perhaps summing the matter up best was Senator John McCain (R-Ariz.) when he said the following:

While Secretary Rumsfeld and I have had our differences, he deserves Americans’ respect and gratitude for his many years of public service.

Bush has named former CIA director and current president of Texas A&M University Robert Gates as Rummy’s replacement.

Appearing with President Bush and Secretary Rumsfeld Wednesday, shortly after his appointment had been announced, Robert Gates said this was not a job he had sought.

“I had not anticipated returning to government service and have never enjoyed any position more than being president of Texas A&M University,” he said. “However, the United States is at war in Iraq and Afghanistan. We are fighting against terrorism worldwide and we face other serious challenges to peace and our security.”

Robert Gates served as director of the Central Intelligence Agency from 1991 to 1993 after serving more than 20 years in the spy agency in various positions in which he worked with six presidents. He has served as president of Texas A&M University, the nation’s seventh largest university, for the past four years. The university is only a two-hour drive from President Bush’s ranch near Crawford, Texas, where they met over the weekend, according to the president.

“I had a good talk with him Sunday, in Crawford,” he said. “I found him to be of like mind. He understands we are in a global war against these terrorists. He understands that defeat is not an option in Iraq.”

Gates is one of the key figures from the first Bush administration, and he recently served on the Iraq Study Group, a bipartisan panel established by Congress earlier this year and headed by former Secretary of State James Baker.

Some analysts believe Robert Gates will represent the views of some of the former president Bush’s advisers, many of whom have been critical of current U.S. policy in Iraq. There is also the possibility that he will work to implement some of the recommendations of the Iraq Study Group.

Georgetown University professor Paul Pillar, a former senior career intelligence officer, says Gates is also a shrewd political player with a knack for handling bureaucracies.

“I think it is a mistake to think of Mr. Gates primarily in terms of his intelligence background, although he did come initially out of the intelligence community and out of CIA, he did not rise through the ranks, but was kind of catapulted over most of the ranks and made his mark more as a high-level bureaucratic operator, not just in the intelligence community, but also as deputy national security adviser in the first Bush administration,” he said.

Pillar says Gates will likely initiate many changes in the Defense Department in addition to providing a fresh approach to the war in Iraq.

Standing in Gates’ way is confirmation by the senate.

Gates will not assume office until he has been confirmed by the U.S. Senate. That, says the current chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, Senator John Warner of Virginia, could happen “in the coming weeks.”

Democrats, who made large gains in Tuesday’s midterm election, are not likely to hold up his approval, since leading Democrats have been calling for Secretary Rumsfeld to be replaced for some time and, as President Bush made clear in his introduction of Robert Gates Wednesday, Donald Rumsfeld will remain in place as secretary of defense until the Senate approves Gates for the job.

It will be interesting to see just how obstructionist the senate Democrats, with their majority control just around the corner in January, decide to play with this nomination.

In a special farewell note to Texas A&M, my alma mater, Dr. Gates said conveyed the following:

To the Aggie Family,

By the time you read this, the President of the United States will have announced that he will nominate me to be the next Secretary of Defense. I am deeply honored, but also deeply saddened.

As most of you know, almost two years ago I declined an opportunity to become the first Director of National Intelligence. I did so principally because of my love for Texas A&M and because much of the program we had initiated to take A&M to a new level of excellence had only just started.

(more…)

11/8/2006

Post-election Blog Reactions

Filed under: — Gunner @ 11:15 pm

Here’s two of my favorites from my blogroll: Bill Whittle and Ace. Let’s just say that they’re quite different in tone, shall we?

By the way, while your over at Whittle’s digs, be sure to kick up your feet and muse over this fine essay.

11/7/2006

Election Night 2006

Filed under: — Gunner @ 11:45 am

Well, it’s not looking good for the Republicans. As of this writing, they’ve lost the house and the senate still hangs precariously in the balance. If there is any saving grace, it is only that it has not been the bloodletting that some have predicted, though it has been worse than I’d hoped.

I do have a few thoughts on the night that I’d like to share.

  • We have a handful of talented Republicans that have lost or may still lose that I still expect greater things from because of their worthiness. Chief among these are Maryland’s Michael Steele and Missouri’s Jim Talent.
  • This election, in my opinion, showed less as a referendum on Iraq and more as a testament to the continuing strength of the mainstream media. For an example, please check the ability of the MSM to trump up stories about Foley and Macaca while downplaying frozen bribery money and improving economic trends. If right wing blogs made a ripple, it was generally unnoticed by the masses during the tempest.
  • In many ways, the GOP congressional leadership deserves this for their spineless behaviour. After the 2004 election, serious reforms should have moved forward; instead, the likes of Frist and Hastert fiddled.
  • On the bright side, the Dems are now in positions of leadership. Okay, that’s not much of a bright side but it could be key for 2008 so bear with me. The party of Nancy Pelosi, John Conyers and Charles Rangel now will be expected to actuall lead. No more 20/20 hindsight on military efforts, no more constant second guessing, and a year of constant investigations is a loser approach heading into the next presidential election cycle. The Dems will now have to actually present something — anything — and it will have to be a serious proposal. They will have to turn their Iraq drawdown and timeline slogans into something that is not a cut-and-run defeat and, believe you me, John Murtha’s Okinawa statements will not see the light of day in any serious attempt. Right now, I’d like to issue the Dems two challenges: first, let Rangel, destined apparently to be chair of the House Ways and Means Committee, bring forth his draft legislation that he has repeatedly submitted rather than letting it continue to languish as an email threat; and second, match the Republicans on their own internal ethics rules. After that, lead away and let’s see where you try to take us.
  • Well, at least tonight’s results should lay to rest the claims of a fascistic Bush-Rove state that several on the far left had claimed … but it won’t.

That’s it for now. Good night folks, and let’s see what tomorrow may bring. I ain’t optimistic about the path we’ve chosen right now.

Election Eve 2006

Filed under: — Gunner @ 12:18 am

Why yes, I’ve voted.

Re-elect Rick Perry for Texas Governor

Re-elect Kay Bailey Hutchison for Senator

Re-elect Sam Johnson for Congress

Sadly, I don’t expect any of these races to be competitive. Tomorrow should be an interesting evening in a great many other races across this fine nation … and maybe just the beginning of a drawn-out ending to the ’06 midterm elections.

10/12/2006

TX Gov Race: Bell Calls on Kinky to Drop Out

Filed under: — Gunner @ 12:36 am

In what can not in any way be considered a high point for the Democrat party in Texas, its gubernatorial candidate is beseeching an independent to bail out of the race in hopes of becoming a viable candidate against the Republican incumbent.

Democratic nominee Chris Bell is trying to persuade independent Kinky Friedman to quit the race for governor, but Mr. Friedman insisted Tuesday that he’s in to stay.

Mr. Bell left a voice mail message on Mr. Friedman’s personal cellphone Tuesday, asking for a meeting at the mystery writer and former bandleader’s ranch near Kerrville, Mr. Friedman said.

Mr. Bell later confirmed he sought a meeting so he could try to talk Mr. Friedman into dropping out of the four-way race, which is in its home stretch. The election is Nov. 7.

“I had hoped to talk to Kinky privately, but now that it’s been reported by the Dallas Morning News, I’m going to ask him publicly: Please join me in defeating Rick Perry,” Mr. Bell said in a statement his campaign issued late Tuesday.

“Kinky and I agree on some very important issues and our supporters all have a lot in common: they want change.”

Mr. Bell credited Mr. Friedman with energizing voters but made it clear he thinks only he has a chance to win.

“Now is the time for us all to unite,” he said. “So I’m asking for Kinky to join me.”

Bell campaign aides said that Mr. Friedman performed poorly in Friday night’s candidate debate and that Friedman supporters have told the Democrat that they’d support him if he could persuade Mr. Friedman to step aside.

Interviewed as he headed to evening campaign events in Dallas, Mr. Bell acknowledged that Mr. Friedman is siphoning votes away from him and Republican Gov. Rick Perry.

“He’s taking from both,” Mr. Bell said. “But he’s taking more from me.”

Mr. Friedman, campaigning in Brownsville, said of Mr. Bell and his advisers: “They’re desperate and scrambling.”

Asked whether he would consider the Democrat’s request to step aside, Mr. Friedman said: “No. You’re kidding … for Chris Bell? What do you take me for?”

[…]

To drop out is unthinkable, he said: “I’d be letting a lot of people down.”

But he took delight in Mr. Bell’s message that the independent is taking a toll. “What can it possibly mean other than that we’re killing him?” Mr. Friedman said. “We’re getting all of the liberals. We’re getting all of the conservatives.”

As I’ve recently shown, the most recent polling does not support Friedman’s assertion that he’s getting all of both liberals and conservatives but does support the notion that Bell and the Democrats need help badly.

For what it’s worth, I thought Bell performed well in the one and only debate last Friday, almost as well as Perry and far outshining the embarrassing representations of our state put forth by Friedmand and Carole Keeton Strayhorn, an independent that has deserted both parties when it seemed opportunistic to do so. It should also be noted that a sudden gift of one cool million dollars may help salvage Bell’s campaign into a somewhat solid second place. Bell had been trailing badly in cash on hand, with only $62,000 compared to Perry’s $9.2 million, Strayhorn’s $5 million and Friedman’s $827,830. Despite the boost, that’s also not to be considered a high point for the Democrats in the Lone Star state.

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