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?

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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.