Sunday, December 30, 2007

Just Stopping Over in the UK Long Enough to Destroy the Place

The UK has a long and fascinating history, dating to long before the origin of human writing. By the time Margaret Thatcher came along to save the UK from its own leftist leanings, the nation had seen a world-wide empire come and go. It was just settling peacefully and prosperously into its role as "only one of the most important countries in the world" when--under the radar--things began to go perilously wrong.
Peter Hitchens in today's Daily Mail:

The deeply English, deeply Christian city of Oxford, one of the homes of free thought, is now being asked to accept the Islamic call to prayer wafting from mosque loudspeakers over its spires and domes.

If that is not a threat to our "way of life", then I don't know what is. Allowing the regular electronic proclamation of Allah's supremacy in a British city is not tolerance, but a surrender of the sky to a wholly different culture. Just you wait and see what opponents of this scheme are accused of.

It may be a "wholly different culture", but unlike the spires of those empty Anglican churches it represents the demographic energy of today's England. Corner

Even worse than the shift in demographic energy of the UK, is the government turning on its own citizens. If a homeowner shoots a home invader in defense of his family, it is the homeowner who goes to jail and is sued penniless by criminals. Now, the voice of England is less the voice of Empire than the voice of the vanquished:
We're all being taken for idiots. - Mike, Coventry

This society gets worse and sicker by the day. I can't wait until I can retire and get out of this hell hole of a country. - Diana, England

Eating a sarnie?! does that also apply to sweets? Or having just one hand on the wheel? which would mean virtually nearly every driver getting caught as (unlike most other countries) most cars are manual! - Cww, Ipswich, Suffolk

Oh happy days in our free and happy country- smile you slaves or I will tax sorry fine you... - Ian, Hereford

I think the use of these high tech digital cameras to catch potentially dangerous drivers is a fantastic idea. I'm tired of observing drivers using mobile phones and smoking whilst driving on our congested roads where full concentration is needed at all times. I'd make the fines higher too, maybe confiscation of their cars would make these irresponsible drivers think twice... - Bill, Warrington England

Will there be two variants of camera? Type A set up to screw Joe Public; type B programmed to disregard police who commit the same offence. - Glyn, Southampton, U.K.

I think I'll give up motoring and take up drug-dealing, pimping, mugging, burglary, and extortion'll be safer for me, and more socially-acceptable. - David Bourke, Rochester, England. Corner

Originally published in Daily Mail via SDA

Brits have always wondered why the Yanks rebelled against the Crown when they had it so good over there. Now, the UK may be ready for an "American-style" revolution of its own against a "Crown" that treats them like vassals.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

George W. Bush--Climate Superhero!

The United States under President George W. Bush has done more to reduce greenhouse gas emissions than 75% of Kyoto signees. While the duncehat mainstream media is expected to downplay such accomplishment, one might expect climate organisations such as the IPCC to acknowledge Bush's climate superherodom.
If we look at that data and compare 2004 (latest year for which data is available) to 1997 (last year before the Kyoto treaty was signed), we find the following.

* Emissions worldwide increased 18.0%.
* Emissions from countries that signed the treaty increased 21.1%.
* Emissions from non-signers increased 10.0%.
* Emissions from the U.S. increased 6.6%.

In fact, emissions from the U.S. grew slower than those of over 75% of the countries that signed Kyoto. Below are the growth rates of carbon dioxide emissions, from 1997 to 2004, for a few selected countries, all Kyoto signers. (Remember, the comparative number for the U.S. is 6.6%.)

* Maldives, 252%.
* Sudan, 142%.
* China, 55%.
* Luxembourg, 43%
* Iran, 39%.
* Iceland, 29%.
* Norway, 24%.
* Russia, 16%.
* Italy, 16%.
* Finland, 15%.
* Mexico, 11%.
* Japan, 11%.
* Canada, 8.8%.
American Thinker

Bush appears to have picked up support from fellow Anglosphere nations, including Canada and Australia (under the new PM!).
Rather than being isolated, the decision by the United States and Canada to take the lead in international energy and climate diplomacy appears to have galvanized key allies, who are gradually rallying around a much tougher stance vis-a-vis China and India.

In Bali, the Anglosphere nations have in effect drawn a red line in the sand: Unless developing countries agree to mandatory emissions cuts themselves, much of the Western world will henceforth reject any unilateral burden imposed by future climate deals.

Believers in Kyoto are not the sharpest knives in the drawer, to be sure. But their tendency to bury their heads in the sand provides a very tempting target for a quick wicked kick! I feel better now.

This Campaign Ad Gets My Vote

I tend not to vote for Republicans or Democrats. But I have no reservations about voting for this Fred Thompson campaign ad YouTube video.

It reminds me of all the Jack Bauer jokes, growing out of the TV show "24." Something tells me that a lot of American voters are ready for a Jack Bauer like president. As long as he was willing to abstain from an inordinate level of "nation-building" overseas.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

The Unfortunate Rudeness of Essential Truths--The Fastidious Decadence of an Affluent and Forgetful Civilisation

Western democracies, by virtue of their affluence, relative stability and security, and general absence of deep spirtuality--whether religious or secular spirituality--have grown forgetful of historical lessons. But the needful lessons of history have not forgotten the neo-decadent west. Hardly.
It is obvious that a military can only fight well on behalf of a society in which it believes, and that a society which believes little is worth fighting for cannot, in the end, field an effective military. Obvious as this is, we seem to have forgotten it....War is a fact of the human social condition neither man wishes were so. Sun-Tzu, concerned with war on the highest strategic level, affirms that the greatest warrior is one who calculates so well that he never needs to fight. Clausewitz, interested more in the operational level, allows that war takes precedence only after other forms of politics have failed.

...But there are also the Martin Decouds of this world, the brilliant sneerers who analyze everything into oblivion. ...Decoud doesn’t represent any particular philosophical position or point of view; he is there to remind us that cleverness should not be confused with character.

...Holding or not holding a place for warriors in our midst is not just a matter of faith as we normally think of it, or even moral hardiness as I have described it. It is also a matter of collective self-regard...Faith is the capacity to believe in what is simultaneously necessary but improbable. That kind of faith is receding in America among a social and economic class increasingly motivated by universal values: caring, for example, about the suffering of famine victims abroad as much as for hurricane victims at home....You may care to the point of tears about suffering humankind without having the will to actually fight (let alone inconvenience yourself) for those concerns....The loss of a warrior mentality and the rise of universal values seem to be features of all stable, Western-style middle-class democracies.

...As American society grows more socially distant from its own military, American warrior consciousness is further intensifying within the combat arms community itself....Marine[s] and Army....Special Forces A-teams, manifest a proclivity for volunteers from the states of the former Confederacy, as well as Irish and Hispanics from poorer, more culturally conservative sections of coastal cities.

...As for the West, it is divided. European civilians take little pride in their standing armies; in America, however, civilians still do. Iraq, in this respect, has not been like Vietnam. While Americans may have turned against the Iraq war, they have not turned against the troops there. If anything, in recent years, they have grown more appreciative of them. The upshot is that America has a first-class, professional military that is respected even if it is not reflective of society.

But to see that America’s circumstances are not as bad as those of the European Union is not the point. The point is to remember what we have forgotten. A military will not continue to fight and fight well for a society that could be losing faith in itself, even if that society doffs its cap now and again to its warrior class....While a good society should certainly never want to go to war, it must always be prepared to do so. But a society will not fight for what it believes, if all it believes is that it should never have to fight.
Robert Kaplan

Europe's sneering sense of superiority toward the US--and any other western nation determined to maintain a modern military shield against both old enemies and emerging Islamic and third world violence--is a facade covering an empty shell. Europe cannot defend herself. So she pretends that nothing exists in the world worth defending against. In the meantime, a growing number of human termites continue to degrade Europe's structural integrity.

The US is indeed exceptional, among its first world peers. But if the US does not wake up enough to recognise the importance of a more broadly societally-based military--one where all strata of society meet and must work smoothly together--the will and ability of the US military to not only defend America, but to defend Europe, the world's seaways and trade routes, the western hemisphere, and other allies, will melt away.

Friday, December 07, 2007

Radical Islam Exposed: A Must-See Expose of A Nightmare Future--If You Allow It

Part 2
Part 3
Part 4 below:

Hundreds of millions of muslims are susceptible to the fanatical message of mad mullahs, imams, and clerics. There is no shortage of youthful cannon fodder in most primitive third world muslim countries. If western civilisation is to survive largely intact for the huge challenges of the next level, it will have to be smart.

If you fail to understand what radical Islamists have in mind for you, your families, your countries, your civilisation--you will be in no position to stop it.

In fact, if you fail to understand . . . . you will probably delay any effective preventive action until it is too late. At that point, westerners will understand that what they though was war, was not really war. What they thought was curtailment of their civil rights, was not curtailment. What they thought was American Theocracy, was not theocracy at all. They will learn, but by then, sadly it will not help.

Hat tip: Augean Stables

Monday, December 03, 2007

Regional Nuclear War--If So, When?

Thanks to Iran, North Korea, China, and Pakistan's infamous Dr. Khan, nuclear proliferation is a fact of modern life. Israel's famous bombing of Iraq's Osirik reactor, and its more recent bombing of a Syrian/North Korean collaborative reactor, bring the issue into focus. While Iran appears to be pushing US President Bush into a confrontation over its own nuclear proliferation program, some people think that Pakistan is the greater danger:
There was George Bush's Oct. 17 warning that "if you're interested in avoiding World War III," you ought to worry about the prospect of Iranian nukes. ... Then, a few days after Bush's Oct. 17 shocker, I came upon a less widely noticed, perhaps even more ominous quote, originally published two weeks earlier in London's usually reliable Spectator, in a story about the Sept. 6 Israeli raid on that alleged Syrian nuclear facility. A quote from a "very senior British ministerial source" contending, "[I]f people had known how close we came to world war three that day there'd have been mass panic."

...And now we have the crisis in Pakistan, one that portends a nightmare scenario in which Pakistan's so-called "Islamic bomb" falls into the hands of al-Qaida sympathizers. Such an outcome would put us on a fast-track route to World War III....Finally, there was the almost unprecedented declassification of an element of the U.S. nuclear war plan formerly known as the Strategic Integrated Operating Plan, now called OPLAN 8044...Soon, if not already, one can be sure, there will be "robust contingency plans" for Pakistan, as Martin Walker put it recently in the New York Times.

...Now, there are at least eight nuclear nations and who knows how many "nonstate actors," as the euphemism for terrorist groups goes. And some of these nonstate actors have adopted an ideology of suicidal martyrdom, even when it comes to nukes, and thus can't be deterred by the reciprocal threat of death.

...I'm surprised there isn't a greater sense of concern about those Pakistani nukes. Forget Iran and Israel (Bush's hypothetical route to World War III). Pakistani nukes now represent the quickest shortcut to a regional nuclear war that could escalate to a global nuclear war.

Despite whatever Al Gore may say, climate change will probably not be the trigger for nuclear war. But a nuclear war may very well usher in the next significant climate change. All that dust circulating around the atmosphere will promote a "global dimming" that will not be good for the world's crops.

Nuclear weapons technology is a cat that is long out of the bag. If Pakistani, Iranian, and North Korean scientists have the technology, then anyone with political, religious, or financial connections to these scientists or their particular agencies can have the technology as well. Think about it. And make your plans accordingly.

Friday, November 23, 2007

Iraq and the 2008 US Election

It was just this past spring that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid was proclaiming:

"We're going to pick up Senate seats as a result of this war," Senate Majority Leader Harry M. Reid (Nev.) told reporters yesterday. "Senator Schumer has shown me numbers that are compelling and astounding."
The Democrats clearly understood that the worse the situation in Iraq became, the better their electoral prospects.

It was just this past summer that House Majority Whip Jim Clyburn worried that a positive report on the surge in September by General David Petraeus would be “a big problem for us”.

The Democrats clearly understood that the better the situation in Iraq became, the worse their electoral prospects.

It was just this month that House Appropriations Committee Chairman David Obey was speculating that violence was down in Iraq because the terrorists "are running out of people to kill,” and because “[t]here are fewer targets of opportunity.”

The Democrats clearly understand that the better the American people understand that the situation in Iraq is improving, the worse their electoral prospects.
American Thinker

What is Speaker Pelosi saying about Iraq these days?
Nancy Pelosi stoutly maintains her state of denial, saying this about the war just two weeks ago: "This is not working. . . . We must reverse it." A euphemism for "abandon the field," which is what every Democratic presidential candidate is promising, with variations only in how precipitous to make the retreat.
Washington Post

It seems as if US Democratic Party leaders are hoping for a US disaster in Iraq so as to get more of their candidates elected in 2008.
Violence is down. Iraqis are returning. The American people are beginning to see this progress, despite the efforts of Democrats and many in the media to hide it from them.

For now, the number of Iraqis returning may seem small compared to an estimated 2 million that have fled. But the number is growing faster than anyone has anticipated. And those returning are not returning as targets of opportunity for terrorists, but as participants in the opportunity for freedom.

To the extent that the war in Iraq will play a significant role in the 2008 elections, the numbers should be compelling and astounding to Democrats, in a direction they never could have imagined just a few months ago.
American Thinker

No one knows what will happen between now and November 2008. The world may be destroyed by an errant asteroid or gamma ray pulse. But when the media or a political party studiously ignores a phenomenon that is obvious to everyone else, they lose credibility that took decades to build.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Bin Laden Singing Iraqi Blues

Bin Laden's glorious revolution has not been doing very well lately.
On October 22nd, Osama bin Laden admitted that al Qaeda had lost its war in Iraq. In an audiotape speech titled "Message to the people of Iraq," bin Laden complains of disunity and poor use of resources. He admits that al Qaeda made mistakes, and that all Sunni Arabs must unite to defeat the foreigners and Shia Moslems. What bin Laden is most upset about is the large number of Sunni Arab terrorists who have switched sides in Iraq. This has actually been going on for a while. Tribal leaders and warlords in the west (Anbar province) have been turning on terrorist groups, especially al Qaeda, for several years.

...Many of the Iraqi Sunni Arab terrorists are religious, but not religious enough for the al Qaeda hard core. And it's the hard liners that usually set the agenda. That's a fatal flaw with groups that depend on terrorism to keep the fight going. Cracking down on the hard core requires more clout and muscle than al Qaeda possesses these days. And that's another unspoken reason by bin Laden is singing the blues.

Around the world, the news is bad for the pale and ghostly leader of the violent terror movement al qaeda. While Europe's mosques and the mosques of Pakistan and Saudi Arabia are generating plenty of "youth bulge" fanatics willing to blow themselves up for God and Virgins, the logistical infrastructure for the movement has been eroded by constant attack from US coalition and allied intelligence and security services.

The leftists who control the US Democratic Party and anti-American interests internationally, do not like to see bin Laden so unhappy. Defeat for America in Iraq would be equally good for Al Qaeda as for the leftists. Perhaps that is why you see North American and international journalists painting desperate pictures of defeat in Iraq despite the real progress made by Petraeus and the Iraqi security forces.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Christopher Hitchens Forced to Face a Harsh Reality of War

In this Vanity Fair Column, Christopher Hitchens tells the story of 2nd Lt. Mark Daily, who was killed in Iraq by an IED 15 Jan. 2007. Hitchens was badly shaken by this particular death, because he may have been partially responsible for it.
In a way, the story was almost too perfect: this handsome lad had been born on the Fourth of July, was a registered Democrat and self-described agnostic, a U.C.L.A. honors graduate, and during his college days had fairly decided reservations about the war in Iraq. I read on, and actually printed the story out, and was turning a page when I saw the following:

"Somewhere along the way, he changed his mind. His family says there was no epiphany. Writings by author and columnist Christopher Hitchens on the moral case for war deeply influenced him … "

I don't exaggerate by much when I say that I froze. I certainly felt a very deep pang of cold dismay. I had just returned from a visit to Iraq with my own son (who is 23, as was young Mr. Daily) and had found myself in a deeply pessimistic frame of mind about the war. Was it possible that I had helped persuade someone I had never met to place himself in the path of an I.E.D.? Over-dramatizing myself a bit in the angst of the moment, I found I was thinking of William Butler Yeats, who was chilled to discover that the Irish rebels of 1916 had gone to their deaths quoting his play Cathleen ni Houlihan. He tried to cope with the disturbing idea in his poem "Man and the Echo":

Did that play of mine send out
Certain men the English shot? …
Could my spoken words have checked
That whereby a house lay wrecked? I wrote to his parents, I was quite prepared for them to resent me. So let me introduce you to one of the most generous and decent families in the United States, and allow me to tell you something of their experience.

In the midst of their own grief, to begin with, they took the trouble to try to make me feel better. I wasn't to worry about any "guilt or responsibility": their son had signed up with his eyes wide open and had "assured us that if he knew the possible outcome might be this, he would still go rather than have the option of living to age 50 and never having served his country. Trust us when we tell you that he was quite convincing and persuasive on this point, so that by the end of the conversation we were practically packing his bags and waving him off." This made me relax fractionally, but then they went on to write: "Prior to his deployment he told us he was going to try to contact you from Iraq. He had the idea of being a correspondent from the front-lines through you, and wanted to get your opinion about his journalistic potential. He told us that he had tried to contact you from either Kuwait or Iraq. He thought maybe his e-mail had not reached you … " That was a gash in my hide all right: I think of all the junk e-mail I read every day, and then reflect that his precious one never got to me.

...I have now talked to a good number of those who knew Mark Daily or were related to him, and it's clear that the country lost an exceptional young citizen, whom I shall always wish I had had the chance to meet. He seems to have passed every test of young manhood, and to have been admired and loved and respected by old and young, male and female, family and friends. He could have had any career path he liked (and won a George C. Marshall Award that led to an offer to teach at West Point). Why are we robbed of his contribution?
Vanity Fair

Go to the article and read the whole thing. Mark Daily was a man who should be known for who he was, in his own words. To Hitchens' credit, he limits his personal wallowing in guilt, and allows 2nd Lt. Daily to speak for himself.

Anyone who has followed the milblogs understands that as special as Lt. Daily was, he was not terribly out of the mainstream of the young men who have died in Iraq. The US military is currently meeting its enlistment quotas in all its service branches. The men and women going to Iraq and Afghanistan to fight could make more money elsewhere, almost all of them with significantly less risk. They, like Lt. Daily have consciously chosen to risk their lives by enlisting during wartime, because in overwhelming numbers they believe in the mission of the US led coalition.

Hitchens, for all his self-absorption, did not invent the ideas he published concerning the dangers of islamo-fascism. His writings are of high quality, but perhaps not the highest, and certainly he is far from alone in raising the alarm against allowing jihadis free run of the middle east and Asia.

Death is an inevitable consequence of war, and some particular deaths may touch us personally in ways almost too harsh to abide. If a war is worth fighting, it is worth fighting even if very bright and worthy men and women may die.

In this case, of course, the war in question is not Iraq. The war in question is the greater war against the religious jihadi movement for a world-wide caliphate. Iraq is merely a battle within the war. The war itself is being carried out in London, Paris, Madrid, rural Virginia, Indonesia, India, Pakistan, Nigeria--on every continent and in virtually every nation.

Mr. Hitchens, if you are too weak to see this larger war through, this long, long war--you may certainly bow out any time you like. The Mark Daily's go to fight because they believe it is the right thing to do. They will continue to go to fight--and some will come home in flag-draped coffins--even if you choose to put your particular burden down.

Life contains many trials by fire. Some face them very early in life. Some are allowed to wait until middle age or later.

Monday, October 08, 2007

War in Iraq, Afghanistan,(and Iran and Syia?)

I was opposed to the war in Iraq for about a year, unconvinced of the basic arguments for the conflict. I still don't buy the rationale that our military members are dying to help the Iraqis have their own modern, prosperous, democratic government. Democracy is over-rated, for one thing. Democracy is rule of the mob, by the mob, for the mob. If the arabs get true democracy, they will get one man, one vote, one time. Not worth dying for at all.

In my mind, there is only one excuse for maintaining a western troop presence in the muslim arab world. Muslim arabs have different brains than westerners. The Koran is qualitatively different than any "book of wisdom" that most westerners now take seriously. Tribal arab traditions are thousands of years away from modern western mores and traditions.

Currently, there is an arab youth bulge (also present in Pakistan, India, Malaysia, Indonesia, and many other muslim nations in Asia, Africa, and the Middle East). Arab and other muslim youth are easily led into jihad by their imams, mullahs, ayatollahs and other clerics. One fanatical suicidal jihadi can do billions, even trillions of dollars of economic destruction, and kill many thousands of lives, if backed up by enough money and weapons expertise. It's not a laughing matter to be brushed aside as if it did not exist.

It's like the Dutch boy with his finger plugging the leaking dike. Temporarily, while this youth bulge lasts, it may very well be necessary to plug a large number "badly leaking holes" in the muslim (esp arab) world. People we care about will probably die in doing this. That's not a matter to be brushed aside either. But death in this inevitable conflict is a given.

How much death will be inevitable? How little death can we get away with and still keep fanatical and collectivist forces at bay? After all, once the next level kicks in, all of forces of collectivism and religious fanaticsm will be ineffectual against the potency of next level humans. But it will take time to midwife the next level, and the muslim youth bulge will continue during that time. In addition, the pressure cooker that is China, and the doomed ship that is Russia will continue to accumulate and improve the accuracy of their nuclear arsenals. Pacifism is not an option for the big kid on the block, the king of the hill.

So how small can we keep the death toll? More later.

Old Brit Lefties--Where are They Now?

Online Videos by
This is from a BBC look back at the leftist backlash in 1987 against Margaret Thatcher's tough love rescue of Britain's economy.

Hat tip David Thompson via Philosophical Detective.

Friday, September 28, 2007

Tammy Bruce Out of the Darkness--Lifting the Curtain on the Media Network Demonizers

I'm not a big fan of Bill O'Reilly. Political commentators and pundits are a mixed bag. O'Reilly's not the sharpest knife in the drawer, although he's not nearly as dull as Keith Olbermann among others.

Tammy Bruce, on the other hand, is a breath of fresh air compared to most political commentators. A former lefty like myself, an unapologetic lesbian (unlike myself), and one of the most clear-speaking of the media pundits, Bruce is worth reading and listening to.

Some people think everyone should hold exactly the same political opinions as themselves. A good term for them is gestapo-esque. Most vocal leftists that I observe speaking loudly in the media and the net are gestapo-esque. They want to shut up the people who disagree with them, and failing that they want to demonize them beyond redemption.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Inside Iran's House of Cards

Iran is the world's largest state sponsor of terrorism, with only North Korea and Venezuela jostling for future position. Michael Totten goes to the Kurdish border with Iran, looks across, and contemplates walking across undetected to conduct more interviews with Iranians. Here is is report on the Iranian mullahs' house of cards, from Kurdistan.
I’ve stood on the border myself and contemplated walking undetected into Iran. Komala leaders even offered to take me across and embed me themselves. “We can get you inside Iran and leave you for weeks, if you want, among our supporters and among our people,” Mohtadi said. “It is very easy.”

If I were caught in Iran without a visa or an entry stamp in my passport, I would almost surely be jailed as a spy. Tempting as the offer was, I had to pass. Anyway, I could speak to Iranian dissidents, if not necessarily ordinary Iranians, in the Komala camp just as easily as I could have inside Iran. As it happened, a famous Persian writer and dissident had arrived there just before I did.

Kianoosh Sanjari is a member of the United Student Front in Tehran. At 23, he has been imprisoned and tortured many times. His last arrest was on October 7, 2006, after he wrote about clashes between the Revolutionary Guards and supporters of the liberal cleric Hossein Kazemeyni Boroujerdi. Charged with “acting against state security” and “propaganda against the system,” he was released on $100,000 bail last December. Some months later, he fled to Iraq and moved to the Komala camp.

Unlike most Iranian visitors who use Komala as a safe house, Sanjari didn’t bother remaining anonymous. He told me his real name and said I could publish his picture. If you can read Farsi, you can read his blog at “I’m just now coming out of Iran,” he said. “It’s a hell there. I know the sufferings. I am inclined to accept any tactic that helps overthrow this regime.”

“Does that include an American invasion of Iran?” I asked.

“Maybe intellectuals who just talk about things are not in favor of that kind of military attack,” he said. “But I have spoken to people in taxis, in public places. They are praying for an external outside power to do something for them and get rid of the mullahs. Personally, it’s not acceptable for me if the United States crosses the Iranian border. I like the independence of Iran and respect the independence of my country. But my generation doesn’t care about this.”

...Everyone I met at the Komala compound said the Iranian regime itself wallows deep in the post-ideological torpor that inevitably follows radical revolutions. Except for the most fanatic officials, the government cares only about money and power. “Followers of the regime are not ideological anymore,” Sanjari said. “They are bribed by the government. They will no longer support it in the case that it is overthrown. Even among the Iranian military and Revolutionary Guards, there are so many people dissatisfied with the policies of the regime. Fortunately there aren’t religious conflicts between Shias, Sunnis, and different nationalities.”

Mohtadi concurred. “The next revolution and government will be explicitly anti-religious,” he said.

The Iranian writer Reza Zarabi says the regime has all but destroyed religion itself. “The name Iran, which used to be equated with such things as luxury, fine wine, and the arts, has become synonymous with terrorism,” he wrote. “When the Islamic Republic government of Iran finally meets its demise, they will have many symbols and slogans as testaments of their rule, yet the most profound will be their genocide of Islam, the black stain that they have put on this faith for many generations to come.”

...If the Islamic Republic is overthrown, almost anything might happen. Iran could become a modern liberal democracy, as most Eastern European states did after the fall of the Soviet Empire. It could revert to a milder form of authoritarian rule, as Russia has. It could, like Iraq, face chronic instability and insurgent attacks. Or its various “nationalities” could tear the country to pieces and go the way of the Yugoslavs. Optimists like Sanjari and Mohtadi may have a better sense of what to expect than those of us in the West, but still they do not know.

The only thing that seems likely is that a showdown of some kind is coming, either between factions in Iran or between Iran and the rest of the world. Predictions of the regime’s imminent demise have been staples of Iranian expat and activist discourse for years, so it’s hard to take the latest predictions seriously. But authoritarian regimes increasingly seem to have limited shelf lives. As Francis Fukuyama’s flawed but compelling book The End of History points out, there has been a worldwide explosion of liberal democracies since the 18th century, from three in 1790 to 36 in 1960 to 61 in 1990. (In 2006 Freedom House classified 148 nations as free or partly free.) History isn’t over and never will be, but it hasn’t been kind to dictatorships lately.

It is instructive to read Totten's article in full. Totten, Michael Yon, Bill Roggio, and other independent observers have risked their lives to report from the front lines of islamist terror and tyranny. It is high time that westerners begin to listen.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Axis of Dumkopfs

Assad and Ahmedinejad have been very bad boys. Bad enough to be spanked. The problem is, they are not likely to learn anything from even a very harsh spanking. Their problems go much deeper.
Proof of cooperation between Iran and Syria in the proliferation and development of weapons of mass destruction was brought to light Monday in a Jane's Defence Weekly report that dozens of Iranian engineers and 15 Syrian officers were killed in a July 23 accident in Syria.

According to the report, cited by Channel 10, the joint Syrian-Iranian team was attempting to mount a chemical warhead on a Scud missile when the explosion occurred, spreading lethal chemical agents, including sarin nerve gas.

Reports of the accident were circulated at the time; however, no details were released by the Syrian government, and there were no hints of an Iranian connection.

The report comes on the heels of criticism leveled by the Syrians at the United States, accusing it of spreading "false" claims of Syrian nuclear activity and cooperation with North Korea to excuse an alleged Israeli air incursion over the country this month.

These bad boys will never learn, even if the entire world tells them to behave. They will require another type of solution entirely, before their bad behaviour will end.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Iran and the US Congress Digging Deep Holes for Themselves

It's clear that some people know just enough to acquire power, but not enough to do anything constructive with it. The US Democratic Congress shares that characteristic with the mad mullahs and mad dog president Ahmedinejad of Iran.
The Revolutionary Guards, or at least the al Quds force (which specialize in supporting pro-Iranian terrorists in foreign countries) is having a hard time in Iraq. With the collapse of al Qaeda in Iraq (because the Sunni Arabs turned on them), U.S. troops are now concentrating on Iranian supported groups. Coalition commando forces are specifically looking to capture as many al Quds operatives as they can. As a result of this, Iran has been pulling its al Quds people out of Iraq. Those that have been captured so far have given up embarrassing and damaging information.

In northern Iran, the war against the Kurds is not going well. Before 2003, Iran was supporting pro-al Qaeda Kurdish groups by providing sanctuary inside Iran, as well as weapons and supplies. These Islamic radicals took control of some villages inside Iraq, but were destroyed by Kurdish militiamen and American Special Forces. Then Kurdish separatists groups began sneaking into Iran and recruiting Iranian Kurds who were willing to fight. That problem has grown over the past four years, to the point that there are several thousand Revolutionary Guard troops, including artillery and some armored vehicles, operating along the Iraq border. The Iranian artillery fires shells at Kurdish villages in Iraq, and Revolutionary Guard patrols often cross the border. But the Iranians know they cannot get too aggressive. The Kurdish militias can handle Revolutionary Guard patrols, and the Iranians have suffered dozens of casualties in these clashes over the Summer. The Iranians also know that if they put too many people into Iraq, they will have to deal with American smart bombs. While some Revolutionary Guard commanders say otherwise, most Iranian military leaders don't want to fight U.S. troops, especially not in largely Kurdish areas along the Iraq border. Most of those Kurds would welcome an American invasion, and the Iranian generals don't want to invite one. Even with that restraint, the fighting over the last few months has left over 200 dead, and many more wounded.

In the southwestern province of Khuzestan, police executed three Iranian Arabs, who were accused of terrorist bombings inside Iran. The Iranian Arabs are despised by ethnic Iranians (an Indo-Aryan group, related to Indians and Europeans), and the current generation of Iranian Arabs are fed up with the discrimination they suffer. Their fathers fought bravely for Iran when Iran invaded in the 1980s, and all the government gave in return was more abuse. There's more anger than organization and violence. British agents are widely believed to be helping to organize armed resistance, but there's no proof. Those rumors have been an Iranian staple for over a century. But there are a lot of unhappy Arabs in Khuzestan, and there is some violence.

In the southeast, there's a lot of violence, and several hundred casualties a year. But it's more crime-wave than war. It's all about drugs. Iran is a prime market, and transit route, for heroin and opium from Afghanistan. Pushtun tribes in Afghanistan, and Baluchi tribes in Iran, are getting rich from this trade, and the police, reinforced by Revolutionary Guard units, are fighting a losing battle against the well armed and motivated (by huge amounts of cash) smugglers.
Strategy Page

The US Democratic Congress needs the Iranians to succeed in Iraq. That is their only hope to precipitate a disastrous US withdrawal soon--so as to wrap up this US defeat as Bush's Vietnam. That's what the US Democrats are praying for, for Christmas. An unequivocal US loss in Iraq.

As soon as the US public understands that that is the extent of the forward thinking of the US Democratic Party--a monumental defeat for the US military--the 2008 election will begin to gel.

Monday, September 17, 2007

War With Iran Not Improbable

The French foreign minister has publicly said what most intelligent observers have been thinking--Iran is placing itself almost irrevocably in the path of war with the west.
The world should "prepare for war" with Iran, the French foreign minister has said, significantly escalating tensions over the country's nuclear programme.

Bernard Kouchner said that while "we must negotiate right to the end" with Iran, if Teheran possessed an atomic weapon it would represent "a real danger for the whole world".

The world should "prepare for the worst... which is war", he said.

...Amid unconfirmed reports that the US is drawing up plans to attack Iran's nuclear installations, Robert Gates, the US defence secretary, said that diplomacy remained the administration's preferred approach.

Asked if President George W Bush would consult Congress before launching any strikes on Iran, Mr Gates said he would not be drawn on "hypotheticals".

But he added: "We always say all options are on the table.

"But clearly, the diplomatic and economic approach is the one we're pursuing."

...A senior US nuclear official said that North Koreans advisers were in Syria and that Damascus might have had contacts with "secret suppliers" to obtain nuclear equipment.

Syria and North Korea have both denied allegations that some sort of joint nuclear project was the target for the Israeli precision airstrike 10 days ago.

Iran is playing a game for which it is not suited, beyond a certain point. It is easy to taunt a more powerful adversary when there is little chance of paying any consequences. Iran's mad mullahs and the apish Ahmedinejad have perhaps less taunting time left than they imagine.

Sunday, September 09, 2007

Islamist Turkey Exports Terror to Germany

Will the German government place an import tariff on Turkish terror imported into Germany? Perhaps that explains Turkey's rush to join the EU--no more terror tariff!
On Thursday, September 6, the German authorities were still hunting some ten suspects, described as a mixture of Germans, Turks, and others. This Turkish connection is troublesome in light of the recent election of the Sunni-centric, religious AK party in Turkey. German Turkish and Kurdish Muslims have described infiltration of their communities by "soft" fundamentalists ever since the religious parties emerged as a serious political force in Turkey more than 20 years ago. Similarly, moderate Muslims in Turkey's neighboring and related cultural zones, the Balkans and Central Asia, now warn that Turkish, rather than Arab, Islamists are beginning to throw money around and establish networks in their regions.

... Al Qaeda is losing the war in Iraq. Its fanatical dedication to Wahhabi-style takfir--or expulsion from the religion and slaying of Muslims with whom it disagrees--has alienated many Sunnis who formerly fought against the U.S.-led Coalition and the Iraqi government (see Frederick W. Kagan's "Al Qaeda in Iraq"). As Iraqi Sunnis change sides in our favor, al Qaeda is bent on transferring the jihadist battlefield to Europe, which is the nearest and most vulnerable theater of opportunity.

The European Union has not formulated an effective common anti-terror strategy. European federal authority is fragmented and subject to local political vagaries--as seen by the hurried withdrawal of the Spanish from Iraq after the Madrid metro horror. Differences like that between, in the past, typically secular Turkish and Kurdish Muslims in Germany, diverse groups of Arab and African Muslims in France, and radical Muslims from Pakistan and India in the United Kingdom have also obstructed a common EU response.

...There are not enough Uzbeks or even Pakistanis in Germany to support a "homegrown" radical Islamist network among them, and for the Germans of Turkish origin, as indicated, the phenomenon is new and imported. In Germany, at least, terrorism is clearly not "homegrown"--it is an exotic import, supported with foreign money.

The Turkish experience is trying to tell us that Islamism--even in its moderate forms--is still a threat to non-muslim populations. Admitting Turkey to the EU will simply make it much easier for the "moderate Islamists" of Turkey to export an intrinsically violent culture to Europe.

Islam was born out of violence, spread by violence, and attempts to dominate as much of the world as it can through violence. While Islam may be a religion of peace from an Islamist perspective, from a European perspective it is an existential poison.

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Iraq's Struggle: Who You Gonna Believe? The Media or Your Lyin' Eyes?

The list of those who have invested deeply in a US defeat in Iraq (actually a defeat for the Iraqi people) is long, and includes most western media, most leftist politicians, most leftist bloggers, and most academics in the social sciences. Iraq indeed has relatively few westerners who believe in its future. How long would that take to change?
The major problem in Iraq is back in the United States. There, many politicians either don't bother, or don't want to believe, what is actually happening, and has happened, in Iraq. In a way, that makes sense. Because what is going on in Iraq is so totally alien to the experience of American politicians. Moreover, many Americans take a purely partisan, party line, attitude towards Iraq. So logic and fact has nothing to do with their assessments of the situation.

...When Saddam was deposed in 2003, most (well, many) Sunni Arabs believed they would only be out of power temporarily. This sort of thing you can pick up on the Internet (OK, mostly on Arab language message boards, but it's out there). Saddam's followers (the Baath Party) and al Qaeda believed a few years of terror would subdue the Shia, scare away the Americans, and the Sunni Arabs would return to their natural state as the rulers of Iraq. U.S. troops quickly picked up on this Sunni mindset. Because Sunni Arabs were the best educated group, most of the local translators the troops used were Sunni Arabs, and even these guys took it for granted that, eventually, the Sunni Arabs would have to be in charge if the country were to function. The Sunni Arabs believed the Shia were a bunch of ignorant, excitable, inept (and so on) scum who could never run a government. Four years later, the Shia have sort-of proved the Sunni Arabs wrong. Now many Sunni Arabs want to make peace, not suicide bombs.

Which brings up another major issue in Iraq. Many Iraqis believe only a dictator can run the country, and force all the factions to behave. However, a majority of Iraqis recognize that dictatorships tend to be poor and repressive, while democracies are prosperous and pleasant. The problem is that the traditions of tribalism and corruption (everything, and everyone, has their price) do not mesh well with democracy. This doesn't mean democracy can't work under these conditions, many do. It does mean that it takes more effort, and the results are not neat and clean, as Americans expect their democracies to be.

The basic problem is that the United States is divided into two groups; those who have worked (or fought) in Iraq, or otherwise paid close attention to what's happening on the ground, and those who create their own picture of what's happening, one that fits other needs (personal, political, religious). No amount of wishing will change what is going on over there. The majority of the population hates the Sunni Arabs, who now have four years of terrorist attacks added to their list of sins. The Kurds, although beset by corruption and factionalism, have shown that you can still have peace, security and prosperity if everyone works together. The Arabs to the south see that, but have not been able to work together well enough to make it happen. Will the Arabs be able to overcome their factionalism and hatreds? THAT is the big question. What is lost in all the rhetoric about Iraq is that Iraq is the only real Arab democracy in the Middle East. Egypt is a one party state, a dictatorship masquerading as a dictatorship. Every other Arab state is either a dictatorship or a monarchy.

Iraqis know they are in a position to show the way, to an era of better government, and the freedoms and prosperity that flows from that. Iraqis know they have problems with religion, tribalism and corruption. Iraqis know what they are up against. Do you?

Strategy Page

Once a blogger, a journalist, a politician, an academic, an intellectual invests so deeply in defeat that he cannot possibly extricate himself without serious explanation, such a person--unless scrupulously honest--will feel forced to present defeat as the reality, well beyond the point when a reasonable person begins to have doubts. Since a widespread belief in defeat often becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy, such persons may feel that their best course is to bluff the situation to the end. They feel, if they are lucky, that defeat will surely happen, if they can convince everyone of its inevitability.

This pretense of theirs, which seems the most important thing in the world to maintain, is actually quite a small thing in reality. But will they ever understand?

To them, it is important that a particular politician, or a particular political party, or a particular ideological grouping, or a particular nation, lose. But it is the people who want a better life who will lose, thanks in no small way to these small time investors, who invested so deeply in the defeat of those they hated, which was actually the defeat of the hopes of many millions for a better life.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Michael Totten in Mashudah

Michael Totten has a new dispatch, this time from Mashudah. It is worth reading in full, like all of Totten's Iraq dispatches. Here are a few short excerpts:
He introduced me to the man in charge of the station, Captain J. Dow Covey from New York City.

“Do you know the Weekly Standard magazine?” Captain Covey asked me.

“Of course,” I said.

“My buddy Tom Cotton was just written up there,” he said. “It was pretty cool seeing him in that magazine.”

“What did he do to get in the magazine?” I said.

“He’s like me,” he said. “He’s a Harvard Law grad who joined the Army after 9/11. I’m an attorney.”

“You’re an attorney?” I said. “What are you doing out here in Iraq?”

“I practiced law for three years,” he said, “then got into investment banking. When 9/11 happened I just had to sign up with the Army. Investment banking is a lot more stressful than this.”

“You’re kidding, right?” I said.

“No,” he said and laughed. “I am totally serious.”

[ed: WTF???]
Pride is much more important in Arab culture than it is in the West. Humiliation is therefore more painful. I wondered if this created problems when Americans train Iraqi soldiers and police officers. What must it feel like for local men to be yelled at by foreigners who showed up uninvited and knew their job better than they did?

Colonel Steele insists it isn’t a problem.

“They don’t want to be babied,” he said. “They want to be treated as equals and adults. Their shame culture actually helps. Our new recruits recently complained about having sore feet during a march. When they noticed our female soldiers are in better shape than they are, they never complained again. Also, when we first had them try on our body armor, it nearly broke their spines. They want to be physically capable of wearing it, too.”

[ed: this fear of being made to look bad by American females seems to be a powerful motivator for arabs. What is it about their culture that makes arab males naturally lazy and weak?]
“I am optimistic,” he said. “But only for one single reason. Because I talk to the average Joe in Iraq. I meet the children and parents. Iraqi parents love their children as much as I love mine.”

I knew what he meant. Counterintuitive and contradictory as it may seem, I never felt more optimistic in Iraq than I did when I walked the streets and interacted with average Iraqis. Iraq looks more doomed from inside the base than it does outside on the street, and it looks more doomed from across the Atlantic than it does from inside the base.

Major Mike Garcia said this view of Iraq is typical. “Soldiers who don’t leave the FOB [Forward Operating Base] are more likely to be pessimistic than those who go out on patrol. They’re less aware of what’s actually happening and have fewer reality checks on their gloom.”

...We drove back down IED Alley to Camp Taji. It was 4:00 in the afternoon, and so unbearably hot. The air conditioner in the Humvee hardly did anything. I desperately wanted a shower so I could wash Iraq off my skin.

Nothing exploded on our way back.

Major Garcia wanted to know what I thought. I didn’t know what to say.

“Whether we like it or not,” he said, “and whether we like them or not, they are the future of this country.”


Totten doesn't try to sugar coat the dismal situation in Iraq. That is good. Neither does he present the situation as completely hopeless, like some defeatist bloggers and politicians.

Dealing with arabs is not easy or predictable. TE Lawrence and many other embedded officers of more modern militaries have learned that lesson the hard way. Many more will have to learn it in the future. Cultures are slow to change, particularly cultures such as arab cultures and other tribal cultures.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Metrics for Iraqi Success

When General Petraeus reports to US President Bush in September on the progress of the nation-building and counter-insurgency mission in Iraq, what metrics will he use? Austin Bay, a writer and former US military intelligence officer, suggests a possible list that the general may use.

This list is a “rough draft” of “rough metrics” but I am certain it includes in some shape or form a few of the “metrics” the September report will consider. Call it a Baker’s Dozen – not to be confused with James Baker and the Iraq Study Group. Some of them obbiously incorporate both qualitative judgments and quantitative measures.

1) Number of trained and equipped Iraqi troops and their level of training

(2) Number of qualified Iraqi senior and mid-level military officers (key measure: can they plan and lead their own ops?)

(3) Number and locale of police precincts judged competent and minimally corrupt (and don’t mention Chicago to me — I know minimally corrupt applies to places in the US — like every Texas border town)

(4) Number of “extremist violence” related incidents (incline, steady, or decline) and location of incidents

(5) An assessment of the “demonstrated commitment” of key sheiks and local leaders in terms of cooperating with security forces and development teams – perhaps analyzed on a neighborhood by neighborhood level.

(6) Control of Iran and Syrian borders (what does this mean? Good question — better surveillance of the borders, more border forts, more reliable border cops, dimunition in flow of supplies for sectarian militias and terrorist groups…etc)

(7) Estimate of “robustness” of Al Qaeda in Mesopotamia cells. (If we have killed a lot of these sociopaths, have the sociopaths we’ve killed been replaced?)

(8) Quality of Iraqi government action against Shia death squads (including Mahdi Militia) [NOTE: maybe quality is a hedge word, but you get the point.]

(9) Competence of key ministry officials and senior department heads — Interior and Defense — as well as an estimate of their commitment to a free, federal Iraq, [This leads to an assessment of provincial and national leaders commitment…)

(10) “Infrastructure protection” trend lines — are power lines, pipelines, key installations being protected?

(11) Trend line of development. At the local level: have the revitalized PRTs begun to do their jobs? At the national level: What’s happening to Iraq’s GDP?

(12) A neighborhood by neighborhood evaluation of the “new security plan” — which on the ground was about securing neighborhoods and stopping the “cycle of violence” (ie, Sunni terrorists kick it off, Shia death quads enter, the locals are caught in between…)

(13) An estimate of the quality of intelligence (better, same, worse) provided by Iraqi police, military, and citizens. If the intel from a neighborhood, town, or province has improved, this potentially is an indcator of increasing faith in the government’s capacity to defend vulnerable civilians. (Intel obviously affects several other metrics…few of these metrics are discrete.)

Austin Bay Blog

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Michael Totten Reports From Iraq--A Must Read!

Michael Totten and Michael Yon are the two most reliable reporters recently or currently inside Iraq. Totten's latest dispatch is must reading for anyone wanting to dispense with his own prejudices about Iraq, and read Totten's harsh blend of optimism and pessimism that is modern Iraq.
“They act like our friends,” said Master Sergeant Tyler. “It is a fa├žade to an extent, yes. They get benefits from having a good relationship with us and will do and say anything to keep us on their side.”

I heard rumors that the Iraqi Army colonel in charge of his side of War Eagle is himself a supporter of Moqtada al Sadr. I could not, however, confirm that with Military Intelligence. Maybe it’s true and maybe it isn’t. American soldiers there believe it is.

Nothing makes me more pessimistic about Iraq’s future prospects than this. The Mahdi Army is Iran’s major proxy in Iraq. It is, in effect, the Iraqi branch of Hezbollah.

...I went on mounted and dismounted foot patrols with American soldiers every day in that part of Baghdad. Except for one slightly creepy experience where shadowy figures stalked us in the dark, all the local Iraqis I met and interacted with were exceptionally friendly.

On a typical patrol at dawn the soldiers I embedded with did only two things: they kept up a visible presence in the area and tossed boxes of Girl Scout cookies to children.

As the morning progressed and more people woke up, entire families came out of their houses to greet us and wave. Private Goings, the gunner in the Humvee I rode in, threw one box of cookies after another. Kids and their parents received them ecstatically. We did this all morning, for four hours. Aside from a 20 minute dismounted patrol near a palm grove, all we did was drive around and throw cookies.

...“A lot of the people around here are Sadr supporters,” said Sergeant Lizanne. “But they’re also pro-coalition. I don’t really understand how that works.”

Don’t ask me to explain it. Moqtada al Sadr is an enemy of the United States. His militiamen kill or at least try to kill Americans every day elsewhere in Baghdad. How anyone in Iraq could support both him and the Americans is beyond me.

Iraq is a bewildering country. I can tell you what I see and what I hear, but I can’t unravel and explain with confidence the contradictions in the hearts and minds of its people. The Kurds are fairly straightforward and easy to read. The recently turned pro-American Arabs of Anbar Province likewise aren’t too complicated these days. Baghdad, though, is all but impenetrable. I don’t suggest you trust any Westerner who hasn’t spent years there who says he or she understands the alleyways and secrets of that city.

In my mind I keep returning to what an Iraqi interpreter named Hammer said to me a few days before. “You can’t understand Iraq because you can’t get inside their mind. When you get inside their mind…it is a crazy mind.”

“Do you think the civilians here are genuinely friendly or just faking it?” I asked Sergeant Lizanne. Private Goings tossed more boxes of cookies.

“Hmm,” he said. “Well, I wouldn’t want to be out here by myself at night, I’ll tell you that much. The children really do love us, though. At least we’re making friends with the next generation.”

I am not willing to excerpt more than this. One really must read the entire report to understand what Totten is trying to say.

Iraq will never be an American style democracy--duhhhh! Who ever believed it would? No one that I know. Regardless, check out the link to Totten's article.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Hey Nancy!...The US Military Is More Successful Than The World Wants to Believe--Don't Tell Harry

Ramadi is an irritating contradiction of almost everything the world thinks it knows about Iraq -- it is proof that the US military is more successful than the world wants to believe. Ramadi demonstrates that large parts of Iraq -- not just Anbar Province, but also many other rural areas along the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers -- are essentially pacified today. This is news the world doesn't hear: Ramadi, long a hotbed of unrest, a city that once formed the southwestern tip of the notorious "Sunni Triangle," is now telling a different story, a story of Americans who came here as liberators, became hated occupiers and are now the protectors of Iraqi reconstruction.

When you are so deeply invested in a US defeat in Iraq as Nancy Pelosi, Harry Reid, Chuck Schumer, Barak Obama, the European news media, the BBC, many bloggers . . . you simply cannot let this information sneak past the internal censors. Too much cognitive dissonance.

This is not the story of a war that is won. But neither is it the story of a war that is lost. The problem is much deeper and wider than those simplistic terms allow. Simpleminded people are unable to look at deeper, longer-lived historical trends, and understand more profound meanings. These simple minds typically teach in universities and work as journalists.

Those of us who enjoy a deeper game will always include more variables, and more sources of information.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Why US Marines Enlist in Wartime

Journalists, professors, and other pseudo-intellectuals have a difficult time understanding how marines and other military members think. A volunteer military in wartime is clearly different from a draft-based military in wartime.

Getting inside the heads of these volunteers is almost impossible for people who make a living interpreting reality for university students and the public. For pseudo-intellects, ignorance is no obstacle to pontification. That is what they do for a living--pontificate out of ignorance.

This video presents the point of view of most marines who sign up voluntarily for wartime duty, in the present day US.

Sunday, August 05, 2007

Al Qaeda in Iraq--Monstrous Face of Arab Jihad

Other than trying to achieve the next level, there are few human activities more worthwhile than undermining would-be autocrats, tyrants, and religious terrorists. Al Qaeda in Iraq demonstrates what the jihad will be like in any nation of the world that harbors enough sympathetic residents to shelter jihadis. The UK is incubating a horrific future, by not facing the problems that Al Qaeda brings to Iraq.
Five weeks ago, I came into a village near Baqubah with American and Iraqi soldiers. Al Qaeda had openly stated Baqubah was their worldwide headquarters — indeed, Al Qaeda leader Abu Musab al-Zarqawi was killed just a short drive away.

Behind the village was a palm grove. I stood there, amid the crushing stench of death, and photographed the remains of decapitated children and murdered adults. I can still smell the rotting corpses of those children.

If a child is seen by Al Qaeda as an obstacle to the jihad, Al Qaeda will kill the child in such a way as to get its message across in a visceral way.

This is the al qaeda behind the Taliban atrocities in Afghanistan. This is the Al Qaeda that is nurtured and promoted by Wahabi clerics, financed by Saudi and Persian Gulf oil wealth.

Al Qaeda would like to franchise groups in the UK, Canada, Australia, and all of Europe. Australia, at least, may be waking up to the threat. Canada is a bit slower, and the UK is the slowest of them all.

While Sweden may be lost irrevocably to the civilised world--if current trends continue--it is not necessary that the UK repeat Sweden's mistake. Sadly, there are no signs that the new PM is alert in any way to the nascent danger under his nose.

US Democrats Hoping for Defeat for their Own Troops in Iraq

US Democrats who control the US Congress are unflinching in their claims that the US military has already been defeated in Iraq. Until recently, the US media has been proclaiming the same message--in unison with the US Democratic Party. But if the US media does begin presenting a more objective view of the military situation in Iraq, public opinion polls may begin to change. And if that happens, some of the presently lock-step Democrats may fall out of cadence.
When two critics of the Bush administration's handling of the war came back from a trip to Iraq and printed an op-ed article with the title "A War We Just Might Win" (New York Times, July 30, 2007), most Americans cheered, grateful to see some progress.

But while most Americans embraced the good news, the Democratic leadership continued on its pessimistic path toward defeat. In fact, they have little choice.

Since Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid declared, repeatedly, that the war is already lost, he's backed his Democrats into a corner. They've invested so much political capital in bringing the troops home regardless of the status of the job they are doing to back down now would be a tacit admission that President Bush's surge strategy might just have a chance of working.

It's a terrible thing to have to say, but the Democrats have to bank on things getting worse over there. They've leveraged their entire political futures on it. Yet in the long run, it could spell disaster for them on many levels.

From congressional candidates to presidential hopefuls, Democrats who oppose a strategy that appears to have a chance of winning will only further distance them from the average American, who hates to see troops injured and dying overseas, but hates to lose a fight even more.

Democrats are once again in danger of shooting themselves in the foot, a habit they seem to have every time they gain any momentum. If things get worse in Iraq, you can count on them making as much hay out of it as possible.

On the other hand, if things get better, the Democrats will have to make a choice: to continue on the Reid-Pelosi-Schumer party line in their blind ambition to put a Democrat in the White House, or to try to figure out a way to distance themselves from their party in an effort to reconnect with Americans who will jump on the bandwagon.

The Democrats are so deeply invested in defeat--as are many bloggers--that they can only hope the news gets even worse.

Rationally, the situation in Iraq is not one that can be lost, unless the US declares defeat and leaves. It cannot be easily won, because it is the Iraqis who must demonstrate the ability to rule themselves democratically--something no other group of arabs has been able to do.

So we are left with neither a win nor a lose situation, unless the US declares defeat--as the Pelosi/Reid/Obama coalition wants to do. If the US stays, more American troops will be killed, certainly. If the US leaves, it is equally certain that the terrorist "insurgency", more accurately the world jihad, will follow US troops to the homeland. Then more American civilians will die in large scale attacks perhaps much bigger than 9/11.

US military members volunteer for combat, risking their lives in the belief that by holding the line in the heartland of jihad, they are protecting US civilians back home. It is something they are willing to do for the rest of you, including Pelosi and the gang.

And all the Pelosis in the world can do is hope they lose.

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Inconvenient Truths About Iraq

Harry Reid and his party cohorts have invested their political futures in the coming defeat of US coalition forces in Iraq. It is to be the grand defeat of the Bush-Chimp-Cheney overreach, and the ushering in of the Grand Democratic Party Millenial Reign. But something happened on the way to the glorious revolution:
The inconvenient truth here is that, apart from the irreconcilable Left, the American people's support for withdrawal has been based on an assessment that we were losing the war. If that no longer seems true, support for withdrawal will melt away. The Democratic leaders know this; that's why they made a concerted effort last week to get a vote on withdrawal in July. September, which will likely see a favorable report by General Petraeus, will be too late. Claims that the inability of the Iraqis to reach a political settlement is a reason for us to leave will ring a bit hollow in the face of a possible military success. After all, the American people have noticed that our Congress, unthreatened by anything more serious than an upcoming election, couldn't pass an immigration bill, can't eliminate earmarks or adopt ethics rules, and can't agree on energy legislation when gasoline is $3.50 a gallon. Politicians, they know, will be politicians, but that doesn't mean we should hand our enemies a victory instead of a defeat.

As I explained earlier to a less than perspicacious commenter, it is my view that one can neither describe Iraq as a won or lost war--despite what slow-witted Democratic Party officials of divided loyalty may say. Iraq is merely a small slice of the world-wide pie of Sunni and Shia youth-bulge driven "revolutionary jihad." The jihad will last as long as the muslim youth bulge lasts--unless Islam receives a badly needed reformation.

Since that is unlikely, it appears that problems in Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Lebanon, Gaza, etc. etc. etc. will be with us for many decades. In the meantime, much of the effort required of western nations such as the US will involve "finger in the dike" efforts such as the Iraq and Afghanistan military missions.

If the Iraqis and Afghanis are able to outgrow traditional tribal corruptions and inbred ideology and customs--that is all for the good. If on the other hand, the inertia of customs, traditions, and primitive religions holds sway, it will simply be necessary to outlast the youth bulge--devising energy strategies to defund radical muslim terror organisations along the way.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

The Shadow Knows

The Shadow is an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) that is flown by battalion tactical operations centers (TOCs). These small remotely piloted drones allow the batallion's officers to keep an eye on events occurring on the ground in their area of operation.
Often, on the TOC screen next to the Shadow screen, will be a down-link from a Predator. The Predator can be used as an eye, but it can also launch missiles. There might also be a down-link from an F-16, which can deliver devastating attacks in addition to eyes from above.

...At battalion level, maybe ten soldiers sit in front of these and other screens. One soldier will be the S-2, or intelligence. Another will monitor counter battery radar. Another will communicate with those who operate the UAV, which often is launched and controlled from elsewhere. The battalion can “task” the UAV, but an outside unit actually maintains, launches and flies it. The more high-flying UAVs might be operated from back in the United States.

The larger the unit, the more control stations in the TOC. Whereas company-level TOCs generally are limited to little more than a radio and a map, those at the battalion level are more like nerve centers which actually help coordinate battles, hence the person in charge is called the “Battle Captain.”

The next level up is the brigade and the 30 or so officers and soldiers at a brigade TOC will be clustered around computers and monitors at different stations, often three rows deep. In something reminiscent of the early NASA days, the Battle Captain sits up front in the first row, with computer screens wrapped around cockpit-like. At the next highest level up, the Division HQ, the TOC really looks like a NASA control center.

...The F-16 and Shadow both beamed down live images of the house where the terrorists had hidden after firing on U.S. forces. Now was option time. Which weapon to use? There were so many choices: mortars, missiles, and cannons of various sorts, among others. With the enemy hiding in the building, an F-16 and a Shadow orbiting in the black above, both peering down on thermal mode, the Battle Captain asked the Air Force experts, (the JTACs) what weapons the F-16 was carrying. As a JTAC started ticking off a long list, I was thinking, “How in the world to do those little jets carry all that?” In fact, I believe they were reading down the list for two jets flying in the same package. They carry a mixture of weapons cross loaded between the jets so that they might have the black magic needed for a likely situation.

[snip]...The idea is to get the Iraqis to run their own cities but most of the old leaders are gone, and the new ones are like throwing babies to cow udders. Many just don’t know what to do, and in any case, most of them have no natural instinct for it. So our soldiers are mentoring Iraqi civil leaders, which is a huge education for me because I get to sit in on the meetings. The American leaders tell me what they are up to, which amounts for free Ph.D. level instruction in situ: just have to be willing to be shot at. (The education a writer can get here is unbelievable.) Meeting after meeting—after embeds in Nineveh, Anbar, Baghdad and Diyala—I have seen how American officers tend to have a hidden skill-set. Collectively, American military leaders seem to somehow intuitively know how to run the mechanics of a city.

When Americans move into Iraqi buildings, the buildings start improving from the first day. And then, the buildings near the buildings start to improve. It’s not about the money, but the mindset. The Greatest Generation called it “the can-do mentality.” It’s a wealth measured not only in dollars, but also in knowledge. The burning curiosity that launched the Hubble, flows from that mentality, and so does the revenue stream of taxpayer dollars that funded it. Iraq is very rich in resources, but philosophically it is impoverished. The truest separation between cultures is in the collective dreams of their people.

When I listen to people in these civil administration meetings inventorying the obstacles, giving detailed and passionate speeches about why the things that need to happen cannot, often next comes the tired lament, “You can do these things because America is rich.” This seems like a chicken-egg argument, but it’s not. They will stare at you like a bird. Blinking. Blinking. As if waiting for an answer to a question that seems to forever loop back on itself. “But you are rich! You put a man on the moon!”
Michael Yon

And so on. Defeating the military enemy is only the beginning. Then you must defeat the third world defeatism that is endemic in so much of the middle east, Asia, Latin America, even Russia.

While islamists continue to send their children out dressed in explosives belts, westerners are trying to master the genome, develop nano-assembly of consumer goods, find ways to harvest the riches of the solar system, and so on--further in and further out.

It is a matter of orientation. Third worlders are oriented toward the past--religions, feuds, petty tribal antagonisms and rivalries, etc. Westerners--other than stagnant socialist oriented westerners--are oriented toward a better future, a future of constant change, innovation, and empowerment of the individual.

The psychological battle is larger and more decisive than the military battle, in the long run. A lot of it is tied in with the "youth bulge."

More on that later.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Michael Totten on Patrol in Baghdad

Not About Winning or Losing--The Time Frame is Much Too Long For That

We speak of winning or losing a game we play, or a conflict of limited duration. When conflicts last decades or centuries, those immersed within it speak less of winning or losing, and more of managing the inevitable difficulties. And of the struggle of living up to their highest ideals and standards of behaviour.
The family was treated with utmost respect. The old woman blew kisses at us. The children smiled. This was not a raid.

I stepped into the room and noticed a picture of the moderate Shia cleric Ayatollah Sistani on the wall. It suddenly seemed unlikely that this family was hostile. Still, someone in the house had locked and loaded on patrolling American soldiers.

“We have tight relationships with some of the people whose sons are detainees,” Lieutenant Colonel Wilson A. Shoffner had told me earlier. “They don’t approve of their children joining Al Qaeda or the Mahdi Army. The support for these groups really isn’t that high.”...

“Someone here locked and loaded on me when we did a foot patrol along the river a while ago,” Lieutenant Wolf said. “Who was it?”

The old man laughed. “It was me!” he said and laughed again. He couldn’t stop laughing. He even seemed slightly relieved. “I thought it might have been insurgents! It was dark. I couldn’t see who it was. All Americans are my sons.”

Lieutenant Wolf looked at him dubiously.

“What did you see?” he said. “Tell me the story of what you saw.”

“I heard people walking,” said the old man. “I did not see Americans. I looked over the roof and heard who I guess was your interpreter speaking Arabic.”

“Sergeant Miller,” Lieutenant Wolf said.

“Sir,” Sergeant Miller said.

“Does that sound right to you?”

“Sounds right to me, LT,” he said.

....“I’m a good guy,” said the old man.

“I’m not saying you aren’t,” said the lieutenant. “I’m just very concerned that you are afraid of somebody here.”

“It was the first time. It was dark. I couldn’t see. I’m very sorry.”

“It’s okay,” said the lieutenant. “You don’t need to be sorry. You have the right to defend yourself and your home. Just be sure if you have to shoot someone that you know who you’re shooting at. Thank you for your help, and I am sorry for waking you up.”

The old man hugged the lieutenant and kissed him on his both cheeks.

The family waved us goodbye.
Michael Totten

Some parts of Iraq are peaceful, and most of the residents there do not fear or dislike the coalition soldiers who try to maintain the peace. But the people do fear others. Iraqi death squads inspired by Al Qaeda and inspired by the Mahdi Army and other Iranian allied groups.

The long war between the west and Islam, between modernity and religious primitivism, will continue for many decades yet. I suspect that it will last as long as the Islamic demographic youth bulge lasts, and not much longer. During this long war, there will be advances and reversals--times when it seems the secular west is winning, and times it appears to be losing.

That is the natural cyclical behaviour of disease, of stock markets, of climate, of populations of predator and prey.

In the war against Islamist terror, what would be victory? To me, a victory would be a reformation of Islam that marginalised militant Islamism to the unwelcome fringes of the religion--much as violent political groups are marginalised in western nations.

Perhaps the example of Ireland is pertinent, although on a much smaller scale. As Ireland's financial situation improved and women became educated, the birthrate dropped and the youth bulge subsided. Somewhat simultaneously, the violence subsided.

Certainly it takes only a few people to make a lot of bombs. But it takes a lot more people to terrorize the population as the populations in Iraq, Iran, Gaza, and parts of Lebanon are terrorized. When the terrorists lose their large numbers of "soldiers", their reach will be curtailed.

It will be a very long ride.

If we are tempted to give up and appease, like Harry Reid, Nancy Pelosi, Barak Obama, and others of that ilk suggest, we are lost. It is only a deep resolve to maintain our independence and freedoms against all comers, based upon principles that are passed on faithfully from generation to generation, that will allow the enlightened principles of the west to survive the multiple onslaughts that are already here, and those that are coming.

Monday, July 23, 2007

George Patton On Iraq, and Learning From History

General George S. Patton speaks out on history's lessons, and how modern America should apply these lessons to the war on terror, Iraq, Iran, and Islamofascism. As you may recall, General Patton does not take kindly to "cut and run" types. So sit back and enjoy the General's commentary.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Wishful Thinking Will Not Create the World You Wish

Eager souls, mystics and revolutionaries, may propose to refashion the world in accordance with their dreams; but evil remains, and so long as it lurks in the secret places of the heart, utopia is only the shadow of a dream. Nathaniel Hawthorne

During the early 1990s, it was fashionable in the west to declare "the end of history." Now that Eastern Europe had been liberated from its oppressive autocratic yoke of tyranny, many western academics and intellectuals believed that liberal democracy would continue to spread, to topple the fortresses of autocracy scattered thickly across the globe. Alas. The future they imagined was not to be.
The assumption that the death of communism would bring an end to disagreements about the proper form of government and society seemed more plausible in the 1990s, when both Russia and China were thought to be moving toward political as well as economic liberalism. Such a development would have produced a remarkable ideological convergence among all the great powers of the world and heralded a genuinely new era in human development.

But those expectations have proved misplaced. China has not liberalized but has shored up its autocratic government. Russia has turned away from imperfect liberalism decisively toward autocracy. Of the world 's great powers today, therefore, two of the largest, with over a billion and a half people, have governments that are committed to autocratic rule and seem to have the ability to sustain themselves in power for the foreseeable future with apparent popular approval.

Today the competition between them, along with the struggle of radical Islamists to make the world safe for their vision of Islamic theocracy, has become a defining feature of the international scene.

The differences between the two camps appear on many issues of lesser strategic importance -- China's willingness to provide economic and political support to certain African dictatorships that liberal governments in Europe and the United States find odious, for instance. But they are also shaping international relations at a more fundamental level. Contrary to expectations at the end of the Cold War, the question of "regime" or "polity" is once again becoming a main subject of international relations.

...Neither Russia nor China has any interest in assisting liberal nations in their crusade against autocracies around the world. Moreover, they can see their comparative advantage over the West when it comes to gaining influence with African, Asian, or Latin American governments that can provide access to oil and other vital natural resources or that, in the case of Burma, are strategically located. Moscow knows it can have more influence with governments in Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan because, unlike the liberal West, it can unreservedly support their regimes. And the more autocracies there are in the world, the less isolated Beijing and Moscow will be in international forums such as the United Nations. The more dictatorships there are, the more global resistance they will offer against the liberal West 's efforts to place limits on sovereignty in the interest of advancing liberalism.

The general effect of the rise of these two large autocratic powers, therefore, will be to increase the likelihood that autocracy will spread in some parts of the world. This is not because Russia and China are evangelists for autocracy or want to set off a worldwide autocratic revolution. It is not the Cold War redux. It is more like the nineteenth century redux. Then, the absolutist rulers of Russia and Austria shored up fellow autocracies -- in France, for instance -- and used force to suppress liberal movements in Germany, Italy, Poland, and Spain.

....It is no longer possible to speak of an "international community." The term suggests agreement on international norms of behavior, an international morality, even an international conscience. The idea of such a community took hold in the 1990s, at a time when the general assumption was that the movement of Russia and China toward western liberalism was producing a global commonality of thinking about human affairs. But by the late 1990s it was already clear that the international community lacked a foundation of common understanding. This was exposed most blatantly in the war over Kosovo, which divided the liberal West from both Russia and China and from many other non-European nations. Today it is apparent on the issue of Sudan and Darfur. In the future, incidents that expose the hollowness of the term "international community" will likely proliferate.

....Today there is little sense of shared morality and common political principle among the great powers. Quite the contrary: There is suspicion, growing hostility, and the well-grounded view on the part of the autocracies that the democracies, whatever they say, would welcome their overthrow. Any concert among them would be built on a shaky foundation likely to collapse at the first serious test.

American foreign policy should be attuned to these ideological distinctions and recognize their relevance to the most important strategic questions. It is folly to expect China to help undermine a brutal regime in Khartoum or to be surprised if Russia rattles its saber at pro-Western democratic governments near its borders.

....The United States should express support for democracy in word and deed without expecting immediate success. It should support the development of liberal institutions and practices, understanding that elections alone do not guarantee a steady liberal democratic course.

....Today radical Islamists are the last holdout against these powerful forces of globalization and modernization. They seek to carve out a part of the world where they can be left alone, shielded from what they regard as the soul-destroying licentiousness of unchecked liberalism and capitalism. The tragedy for them is that their goal is impossible to achieve. Neither the United States nor the other great powers will turn over control of the Middle East to these fundamentalist forces, if only because the region is of such vital strategic importance to the rest of the world. The outside powers have strong internal allies as well, including the majority of the populations of the Middle East who have been willing and even eager to make peace with modernity. Nor is it conceivable in this modern world that a people can wall themselves off from modernity even if the majority wanted to. Could the great Islamic theocracy that al Qaeda and others hope to erect ever completely block out the sights and sounds of the rest of the world and thereby shield their people from the temptations of modernity? The mullahs have not even succeeded at doing that in Iran. The project is fantastic.

The world is thus faced with the prospect of a protracted struggle in which the goals of the extreme Islamists can never be satisfied because neither the United States nor anyone else has the ability to give them what they want. The West is quite simply not capable of retreating as far as the Islamic extremists require.

If retreat is impossible, perhaps the best course is to advance. Of the many bad options in confronting this immensely dangerous problem, the best may be to hasten the process of modernization in the Islamic world: more modernization, more globalization, faster.

....In the 1990s serious thinkers predicted the end of wars and military confrontations among great powers. European "postmodernism" seemed to be the future: the abandonment of power politics in favor of international institutions capable of managing the disagreements among nations.

...Perhaps it was these grand expectations of a new era for humankind that helped spur the anger and outrage at American policies of the past decade. It is not that those policies are in themselves so different, or in any way out of character for the United States. It is that to many people in Europe and even in the United States, they have seemed jarringly out of place in a world that was supposed to have moved on.

As we now know, however, both nationalism and ideology were already making their comeback in the 1990s. Russia had ceased to be and no longer desired to be a "quasi-member" of the West, and partly because of NATO enlargement. China was already on its present trajectory and had already determined that American hegemony was a threat to its ambitions. The forces of radical Islam had already begun their jihad, globalization had already caused a backlash around the world, and the juggernaut of democracy had already stalled and begun to tip precariously.
Much more at the Source

Most people have come to realise that the forces of history continued unabated, undiminished throughout the 1990s to the present day. But the temptation remains to declare that the natural state of humanity is a harmonious community of nations with common aims and goals.

It is almost irresistibly tempting to blame the imperfect state of the world on a single person, a group of persons, or an entire nation. Without this person, these people, the world would revert to its natural perfection and harmony.

That is the delusion of utopia, in the service of petty politics in the mind of a lobotomised neotenate.