Category ►►► Afghan Astonishments

September 18, 2012

The Prince's New Clothes

Afghan Astonishments , Media Madness , Military Machinations , War Against Radical Islamism
Hatched by Sachi

Almost the definition of "TMI", too much information: Prince Harry's naked binge in Las Vegas, shortly before he was deployed to Afghanistan as an Apache pilot. So a young, privileged man got drunk and naked in Las Vegas; what else is new?

Harry, third in line for King of England (after his father, Charles, Prince of Wales; and Harry's brother, William, Duke of Cambridge), was photographed in the buff with some pretty, young, and equally naked thing of the female persuasion, who gallantly crouched behind him during his epic Kodak moment. But that singular embarassment seems to have produced quite a few ripples in spacetime... which may have been the proximate cause of the killing of at least two United States Marines.

A week after Hank's exhibitionist exertions -- and right around the time his sister in law enjoyed her own naked romp in full view of an unnoticed camera -- the princeling was trundled off to war. (What is it with these Royals constantly putting their crown jewels on display?)

Impudent question: Did Harry's harem antics themselves damage British morale, even apart from the deadly, if somewhat tenuous chain of events that followed? Hard to say; how did you feel about Bill Clinton as Commander in Chief, after the flood of bizarre snd squalid sex stories broke? Did you have the same respect for him that you had for other, previous CinCs?

All right, all right; it's not as if the Royal Pains sent the blot away to get him out of the headlines. His deployment was long planned; more than likely, he went on a tear in Vegas precisely because he was about to be shipped out. Alas, the former conjecture is exactly what the Taliban believes, or at least professes: That Harry was sent away to cover-up his "shame." He thus became a perfect target for the cave-dwelling barbarians in Afghanistan, he and everyone else around him.

But let's take a side excursion. When we read the news about Prince Harry heading to Afghanistan, many bloggers with a military background were worried. Too much information was being revealed, allowing the "insurgents" -- radical Islamists in the Taliban and allied terrorist groups -- to track Prince Harry's every movement:

The 27-year-old arrived in Camp Bastion in Helmand in the early hours of this morning, where he will be based for the duration of his tour with 622 Sqn, 3 Regiment Army Air Corps.

His role will be to kill insurgents as he operates the aircraft's weapon systems, which include Hellfire missiles and a 30mm chain gun. He will also be expected to provide air cover on missions by special forces....

In stark contrast to the media blackout imposed when the Prince undertook his previous tour, the Ministry of Defence has taken the decision to inform the public about his presence in Afghanistan from the word go, and arranged for a reporter and photographer from the Press Association news agency to fly to Camp Bastion to provide coverage on a pooled basis.

We understand that the Brits wanted to advertise the fact that Prince Harry is a serious officer in the Royal Army; and they wanted to remove the bad taste from Harry's last deployment, which had to be cut short after he was targeted four years ago:

The Prince was "incredibly frustrated" to be pulled out of Afghanistan 11 weeks into his last tour because of US media reporting on his presence there, said his spokesman, though the fully understood why the decision had been taken.

But was it actually necessary to tell the whole world the exact base at which he would be deployed, precisely what his mission would entail, and even which squadron he'd be assigned to? Whatever happened to the old expression, "loose lips sink ships?"

It doesn't take a General Petraeus to figure out that Harry would instantly become Taliban Enemy Number One; plenty of milbloggers foresaw that possibility; they even joked about the possible outcomes to the careless announcement of Harry's whereabouts:

Prince Harry or Captain Wales, whichever you prefer to call him, is reporting for duty at Camp Bastion as an Apache pilot. I believe that his previous tour in Afghanistan saw him in essentially a JTAC role with the british cavalry. The photo and info below was provided courtesy of the MoD [Ministry of Defence].

Is this the result of his vacation in Vegas (the notes I read state that this was long planned)? And why in the hell would the MoD announce the unit, camp, location, etc of his current station?

Surprise, surprise on the Jungle Riverboat Cruise tonight. Just yesterday, two US marines were killed protecting Prince Harry:

British troops were involved in the firefight to repel the deadly Taliban attack on the military base in Afghanistan where Prince Harry is currently based, it was revealed this morning.

At least two US Marines were killed in the strike on the base in Helmand province, which houses American and British troops among others....

A Taliban spokesman said the attack was in revenge for an amateur film that mocked Islam, and because Prince Harry was known to be at the base.

Why do we say they were killed "protecting Prince Harry?" Leaving the boilerplate about "revenge for an amateur film that mocked Islam" on the cutting-room floor -- it's the all-purpose excuse du jour for any Taliban outrage -- the Taliban themselves say they attacked the base precisely because they knew that "Captain Wales" was there.

And the Marines were killed defending against that attack, which actually breeched the 30-foot high, concrete perimeter wall, something which the Taliban had never been able to do before. They must have pulled out all the stops, desperately trying to kill the British Royal.

And how did the Taliban know the prince was there? Because some subgenius in Britain's Ministry of Defence thought it a wonderful idea "to inform the public about his presence in Afghanistan from the word go, and arrange[] for a reporter and photographer from the Press Association news agency to fly to Camp Bastion to provide coverage on a pooled basis!" [Punctuation altered; the original Brit kept a stiff upper lip and refrained from using an exclamation point. -- the Mgt.]

Bureaucrats, even those in the MoD (and those in our own DoD), simply do not see the world as real, populated with real people with real lives to lose. They treat war like an artfully staged "reality TV" show. What the British and American media did to American and British troops is far worse than anything done by those pathetic filmmakers and their lame trailor.

All the latter did was express their political and religious points of view; but the media released a military secret, thus goading the Taliban into an all-out attempt to pull off a 9/11-type "martyrdom operation," with the potential of causing devastating harm to both our countries. Fortunately, the primitive radical Islamists couldn't quite pull it off; they didn't kill Prince Godiva. But they did kill two American Marines.

I wonder whether General Dempsey, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, will call those American and British reporters (along with the British Defence Ministry) and urge them to stop revealing military information and offending free countries. He likes to let his fingers do the kow-towing.

Hatched by Sachi on this day, September 18, 2012, at the time of 3:34 AM | Comments (0)

July 1, 2012

Afghan Meadows Massacre - a Nonupdate Update

Afghan Astonishments , Media Madness
Hatched by Dafydd

Readers no doubt recall the mysterious case of the American soldier in Afghanistan -- now identified as Staff Sgt. Robert Bales (one of the "nonupdate updates") -- who is alleged by various tribesmen in a Taliban stronghold in Afghanistan to have strolled off base one day and gone on a murder spree, killing seventeen innocent civilians -- the charge now reduced to sixteen (the only other nonupdate update to this story) -- including nine children.

The posts on Big Lizards were:

My conclusion was simply that so far, the only evidence we have of such a massacre comes from sources that are questionable at best -- and at worst, smack of "dawa," the Arabic word meaning to advance the cause of jihad by means other than actual force of arms. Among the most powerful weapons of dawa is "lawfare," using the laws of a nation that is not a radical Islamist state to further the cause of jihad... that is, suing and prosecuting a State into sharia. As the National Review's Andrew McCarthy puts it:

The purpose of dawa, like the purpose of jihad, is to implement, spread, and defend sharia. Scholar Robert Spencer incisively refers to dawa practices as “stealth jihad,” the advancement of the sharia agenda through means other than violence and agents other than terrorists. These include extortion, cultivation of sympathizers in the media and the universities, exploitation of our legal system and tradition of religious liberty, infiltration of our political system, and fundraising. This is why Yusuf Qaradawi, the spiritual leader of the Muslim Brotherhood and the world’s most influential Islamic cleric, boldly promises that Islam will “conquer America” and “conquer Europe” through dawa. [Emphasis added. -- DaH]

The best recent example of lawfare was the bizarre case of the Flying Imams, a group of six radical-Islamist religious leaders. On November 20th, 2006, they deliberately exhibited very suspicious, provacative, and frightening behavior at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport, both before and after boarding a plane to Phoenix.

Before the flight took off, the (nonflying) imams were removed from the airplane due to passenger complaints and crew observations. The imams later sued the airline, airport officials, and even passengers. The cowardly airline ultimately settled the case; action against the passengers was eventually dropped, but only after Congress passed a bill giving immunity to passengers who report suspicious behavior in airports on aboard a flight. Nevetheless, many security experts believe that the Flying Imams' act of "lawfare" created a chilling effect, making it more difficult for passengers or airliner crews to report similar incidents, because of the fear of being labeled a bigot and being sued into oblivion by well-funded Islamists.

Back to the present case. I do not know whether this particular alleged "massacre" in Afghanistan occurred; but whether it did or didn't, the pursuit of the story has been a prime instance of dawa. Its purpose, for the American news media as well as their likely Taliban-supporting elocutioners, is to debase and demoralize the American military in Afghanistan and elsewhere; to discourage continued U.S. resistance to Taliban rule; and -- I believe -- to give moral cover to Barack "Big Stick" Obama's purblind diplomatic disaster of inviting the Taliban to rejoin the Afghan government as a "partner in peace."

Here is how I concluded each post, starting with Afghan Meadows Massacre - or Haditha Redux?:

Maybe I'm jaded, but color me skeptical. It may well turn out to be every bit as horrific and shameful to America as the media gleefully report; accuracy is always a possibility, no matter how out of character that would be. But that's not how initial reports of similar incomprehensible, "American-caused" massacres have generally fared when exposed to the light of actual evidence dredged up by a thorough and complete investigation.

Let's sit tight and wait to see what the evidence actually shows before belly-flopping, yet again, upon the American military.

Addendum to Afghan Meadows Massacre - or Haditha Redux?:

The only thing that's missing -- so far! -- is a John Kerry or a John Murtha to spray the atrocity charges through government organs, amplifying and adding piquant inventions of his own; thus crystalizing the accusation as "historical fact," despite a complete lack of impartial investigation up to this point. So far, the Left hasn't picked it up, perhaps because it can't help but reflect badly on the One; thank goodness for small crumbs!

If the man actually committed the heinous acts the Afghans accuse him of, in the manner of the media narrative, then he should be hanged. (Note that the "narrative" includes the fact or factoid that he walked back to the base and "turned himself in," which would imply knowledge of guilt; so he can't get away with an insanity plea.) But do we really know whether this is true yet? If so, then how do we know, based on what?

This is why I have always maintained (usually the lone voice crying in the wilderness) that of the three classical pillars of philosophy -- metaphysics (what we know), ethics (what we do about what we know), and epistemology (how we know what we know) -- the most urgent, and most quickly forgotten, is the last.

It should be clear that Big Lizards has not prejudged the case in either direction; my point was that the mainstream media unquestionably has done exactly that. As I began the first piece:

An American staff sergeant has just been indicted, tried, convicted, and condemned for a horrific massacre in Afghanistan; the court was the mainstream media -- which also served as judge, jury, and sentencing panel. Such Obamic efficiency; such economy of deliberation!

And thereby hangs a tail.

But I had heard absolutely nothing more about this case in the three and a half months intervening. It dropped completely off the media radar. When commenter Baggi asked me if I'd seen an update, I actually had to do a Google news search to find anything at all.

All that I found was a minor piece from PMSNBC on June 1st, to the effect that one count of murder against SSGT Bales was dropped, while another count of assault was added. (For this momentous announcement, they needed an entire article.)

So the answer to my commenter's question is -- No, there are no real updates. We still don't know whether there is any evidence other that the claim made by Afghans and likely Taliban sympathizers; we still don't know what the defendant claims; we still don't know whether there was provocation; we still don't know whether there is even a serious investigation, beyond taking the word of Afghan tribesmen.

We do know the news media appear to have dropped the story in the meanwhile... unlike similar charges made during, as a certain Stick keeps saying, "the previous administration." I must conclude that a sense of urgency about such "atrocities" may be lacking, say for the past three-plus years. Evidently, the story is not yet ripe; the antique media believes it can wait until, say, November 7th or later to pick up the threads and examine the incident in detail. (By universal Democratic Party and media assent, that date has been dubbed "Cut-Loose Day.")

Meanwhile, nothing to see here, let's all just move on; we have dogs to annoy, jobs to outsource, and haircuts to administer.

So it goes.

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, July 1, 2012, at the time of 3:25 PM | Comments (2)

March 12, 2012

Addendum to Afghan Meadows Massacre - or Haditha Redux?

Afghan Astonishments , Media Madness
Hatched by Dafydd

Anent our previous post, here's my problem in a more succinct nutbag. American military spokespeople are saying this:

Two U.S. defense officials said an investigation has been started by the Army Criminal Investigation Division, but that it was too soon to say when any charges might be filed. They spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak about the issue. Army officials are reviewing his complete deployment and medical history, the congressional source said.

Seems like our military officials want to look into the accusations a little less cursorily before dragging an American soldier (or soldiers) before the bar. But the American (?) news media, from AP to the New York Times to television networks, are saying this:

A young Afghan man recounted on Monday the harrowing scene in his home as a lone U.S. soldier moved stealthily through it during a killing spree, then crouched down and shot his father in the thigh as he emerged from the bedroom in the deep of night....

"He was walking around taking up positions in the house - in two or three places like he was searching," said 26-year-old witness Mohammad Zahir, who watched the gunman while hiding in another room. "He was on his knees when he shot my father" in the thigh, he told The Associated Press. His father was wounded but survived.... [Do we know for certain he is actually a witness? -- DaH]

Zahir described the scene that unfolded when the assailant came to his house before dawn....

The motives of the shooter and most details about him, including his name, are still not known....

The soldier was not assigned to a special operations unit and has no special operations training, Cummings said.

He attacked two small villages very close to his base in southern Kandahar province. An enraged Karzai called it "an assassination, an intentional killing of innocent civilians" that cannot be forgiven. He demanded an explanation from Washington....

From Balandi, the gunman walked roughly one mile to the village of Alkozai, which was only about 500 meters from the American military base. There the gunman killed four people in one house and then moved to Zahir's house, where he shot his father in the leg.

Not a shred of a doubt; not a hint of uncertainty. No curiosity about justifiable or even mitigating circumstances. Not a single reporter questions whether the Afghans telling the story might have a motive to lie, might have been mistaken, might have been complicit in what might have been an ambush of an American soldier.

Do I know whether any of these factors are present in this case? No, of course not; but neither do the news media, a fact that seems not to perturb them in their rush to accept the atrocity story and condemn the American fighting man. Maybe it's just as bad as it seems; but we have history, including recent examples of massacre-mongering where the press was equally certain and fully as condemning, but which fell apart in the light of proper investigation.

We haven't even heard from the accused, nor any spokesman or defender. Would that the press showed the same solicitude for the niceties of due process that they routinely extend to illegal aliens accused of murder; Occupiers accused of rape, abandonment of children, and extortion; or any of the several dozen members of the Barack H. Obama administration accused of corruption and abuse of authority. (For Obamunists, the press doesn't merely extend the presumption of innocence until evidence shows otherwise... more like the persistence of innocence despite evidence otherwise!)

Where is the presumption of innocence? Instead, the (mercifully unnamed) soldier is portrayed by virtually every article I have read as already proven to be guilty, guilty, guilty... for don't we all know that Afghans in "Talibistan" never concoct fables of American massacres?

The only thing that's missing -- so far! -- is a John Kerry or a John Murtha to spray the atrocity charges through government organs, amplifying and adding piquant inventions of his own; thus crystalizing the accusation as "historical fact," despite a complete lack of impartial investigation up to this point. So far, the Left hasn't picked it up, perhaps because it can't help but reflect badly on the One; thank goodness for small crumbs!

If the man actually committed the heinous acts the Afghans accuse him of, in the manner of the media narrative, then he should be hanged. (Note that the "narrative" includes the fact or factoid that he walked back to the base and "turned himself in," which would imply knowledge of guilt; so he can't get away with an insanity plea.) But do we really know whether this is true yet? If so, then how do we know, based on what?

This is why I have always maintained (usually the lone voice crying in the wilderness) that of the three classical pillars of philosophy -- metaphysics (what we know), ethics (what we do about what we know), and epistemology (how we know what we know) -- the most urgent, and most quickly forgotten, is the last.

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, March 12, 2012, at the time of 5:13 PM | Comments (2)

March 11, 2012

Afghan Meadows Massacre - or Haditha Redux?

Afghan Astonishments , Media Madness
Hatched by Dafydd

An American staff sergeant has just been indicted, tried, convicted, and condemned for a horrific massacre in Afghanistan; the court was the mainstream media -- which also served as judge, jury, and sentencing panel. Such Obamic efficiency; such economy of deliberation!

The trouble is, we don't know what really happened there, because the investigation has barely begun. As the Brady Bunch might say, "here's the story..."

PANJWAI, Afghanistan -- Stalking from home to home, a United States Army sergeant methodically killed at least 16 civilians, 9 of them children, in a rural stretch of southern Afghanistan early on Sunday, igniting fears of a new wave of anti-American hostility, Afghan and American officials said.

First discordant note of skepticism: The sources for information about this alleged massacre were cited as "Afghan and American officials;" but in the entire rest of the Times story, the only information from an American source is that there is only one suspect and he is currently being held:

The officials said the main suspect was an Army staff sergeant who acted alone and then surrendered. "The initial reporting that we have at this time indicates there was one shooter, and we have one man in custody," said Lt. Col. Jimmie Cummings, a NATO spokesman.

All other details come from Afghan reports, both by officials and by supposed victims and alleged eyewitnesses in Panjwai -- a notorious Taliban stronghold. The information flow appears to be from Afghan sources to Americans, who simply parrot what they have been told. That is, "[r]esidents of three villages in the Panjwai district of Kandahar Province described a terrifying string of attacks," but "American officials in Kabul were scrambling to understand what had happened."

Now that certainly builds confidence.

The unilateral sourcing of the Times' story immediately raises my suspicions. Then, too, the Afghan-supplied details of the massacre sound even more bizarre:

Residents of three villages in the Panjwai district of Kandahar Province described a terrifying string of attacks in which the soldier, who had walked more than a mile from his base, tried door after door, eventually breaking in to kill within three separate houses. The man gathered 11 bodies, including those of 4 girls younger than 6, and set fire to them, villagers said....

In Panjwai, a reporter for The New York Times who inspected bodies that had been taken to the nearby American military base counted 16 dead, including five children with single gunshot wounds to the head, and saw burns on some of the children’s legs and heads. "All the family members were killed, the dead put in a room, and blankets were put over the corpses and they were burned," said Anar Gula, an elderly neighbor who rushed to the house after the soldier had left. "We put out the fire."

The villagers also brought some of the burned blankets on motorbikes to display at the base, Camp Belambay, in Kandahar, and show that the bodies had been set alight. Soon, more than 300 people had gathered outside to protest.

And while such staggering carnage was carried out -- evidently by a lone American soldier -- not a single resident could locate a weapon and shoot back at the man. Not one.

But in areas of Afghanistan like Panjwai, that are forever in a tug-of-war between Taliban and government forces, shouldn't we assume that every man would be armed, or nearly so? Shouldn't these three villages be awash with AK-47s, M-16s, and heavier weapons, and thick with Afghans boasting much recent experience using them?

Yet a single soldier can not only walk from house to house, trying doors and entering domiciles to butcher women and children at will, but even finds the time and leisure to pick up eleven dead bodies, convey them (presumably one at a time on his shoulders or tucked under his arms) from one place to another, and there burn them. A veritable Superman. (Didn't anybody think to fire upon him while his hands were thus occupied?)

I can't say it's impossible that such a massacre occured in the way that AP and its sock puppets described it... but boy howdy, what a series of unfortunate events must have occurred to prevent the local residents from doing anything, anything at all, to stop this one man death squad from devastating a village.

And what perfect timing! The alleged event occurs just as the Koran-burning riots are dying down. By a tragic coincidence, a lone American gunman goes nuts and commits a demonic act of mass human sacrifice just in time to reignite the rampage against Americans and NATO, just as withdrawal talks have finally resumed.

We don't know who actually reported what supposedly happened, but we sure know who benefits from those reports (true or false): the Taliban... in one of the home bases of the Taliban.

I'm sorry if I seem insufficiently convinced of the accuracy and veracity of this report; but I can't help remembering the "Haditha Massacre" in Iraq -- which turned out, after a lengthy investigation and multiple criminal trials, to be a complete fabrication in almost every particular reported in the first heady days of the story -- lurid "factoids" ginned up by the media, who have yet to apologize or even admit they were dead wrong.

And then there was the infamous "Wedding Party Massacre," with the mystery band instruments that appeared, undamaged and right on top of the blast site, hours after earlier photographs of the same area showed nothing of the sort. (An immaculate deception.)

And leave us not forget the "Jenin Massacre," where Israeli commandos (according to Palestinian "eyewitnesses" and government officials) obliterated the entire inner city of Jenin, on the West Bank... except that they in fact did no such thing, as later photographs and video footage conclusively proved. "Never mind!"

President Barack H. Obama has already apologized to Afghanistan, if not quite to the Taliban:

President Hamid Karzai condemned the attacks, calling them in a statement an “inhuman and intentional act” and demanding justice. Both President Obama and Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta called Mr. Karzai, expressing condolences and promising thorough investigations. "This incident is tragic and shocking, and does not represent the exceptional character of our military and the respect that the United States has for the people of Afghanistan," Mr. Obama said in a statement.

They could have added, "on the other hand, this incident might not even represent the truth;" but that would have spoiled the story.

Meanwhile, the Times managed to find a silver lining:

Another senior military official said the sergeant was 38 and married with two children. He had served three tours of duty in Iraq, this official said, and had been deployed to Afghanistan for the first time in December. Yet another military official said he has served in the Army for 11 years.

I.e., since enlisting in 2001; so it was George Bush's fault after all! Probably some soldier suffering from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder due to repeated deployments forced upon him by the previous regime administration.

Maybe I'm jaded, but color me skeptical. It may well turn out to be every bit as horrific and shameful to America as the media gleefully report; accuracy is always a possibility, no matter how out of character that would be. But that's not how initial reports of similar incomprehensible, "American-caused" massacres have generally fared when exposed to the light of actual evidence dredged up by a thorough and complete investigation.

Let's sit tight and wait to see what the evidence actually shows before belly-flopping, yet again, upon the American military.

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, March 11, 2012, at the time of 10:16 PM | Comments (2)

January 1, 2012

Barack the Peacemocker

Afghan Astonishments , Iraq Matters , Presidential Peculiarities and Pomposities , War Against Radical Islamism
Hatched by Dafydd

According to my favorite blogger at my favorite blog (and the Associated Press), President Barack H. "Bubble Boy" Obama is currently in secret negotiations with the Taliban -- to be "mediated," if Obama has his way, by Sheikh Yusuf al-Qaradawi: a Koran-thumping, jihad-urging, radical-Islamist cleric in Afghanistan.

The bare bones of the agreement our president is hammering out with the Taliban is this:

  • Americans unconditionally withdraw all forces from Afghanistan.
  • We give up all objection to the Taliban returning to power (as part of a "coalition" with the Karzai government * ).
  • We build a headquarters compound for the Taliban.
  • We announce that we are no longer enemies with the Taliban.
  • We release all Taliban prisoners from Guantanamo Bay and allow them to return to Afghanistan -- and resume the activities that landed them in Gitmo in the first place.
  • We issue an apology from the deck of the USS Ronald Reagan; after which Obama goes barefoot and bareheaded to Kandahar, where he bows deeply from the waist and begs forgiveness -- for George W. Bush's wickedness.

(That last bullet point isn't official; I'm just logically extrapolating.)

In the Power Line post, John Hinderacker theorizes about what President B.O. has in mind:

[T]he Afghanistan war is deeply unpopular [it is? I thought that was the good war! -- DaH], and Obama wants to run for re-election next November on the boast that he "ended two wars." The baleful consequences of re-installing the Taliban in Afghanistan will not appear until long after the next election campaign, which is all that Obama cares about.

John implies, I believe, that the maneuver will have the desired effect: Obama will be lionized for being the peacemaker, Bush reviled as a warmonger, and this will give Bubble Boy a swift boost into a second term. But bear in mind that traditionally, the closer we approach an election, the more pessimistic become the lads at Power Line.

I have a different take on the political outcome of Obama "workin' the machinations behind the scenes," as Louis Farrakhan might put it. Rather than a political triumph for Obama, I see a soft spot that even the Republican Party will be able to hit while dead drunk and with one eye tied behind its back -- which, to be honest, is the way it usually campaigns.

Here's the plan. We wait until Barack Obama begins strutting and chest thumping about how he has "ended two wars," then we respond thus:

President Obama has discovered a super-easy way to end any war quickly: just surrender. We prematurely withdraw from Afghanistan at the same time we prematurely withdraw from Iraq, leaving the door wide open to an Iranian invasion; what a diplomatic masterstroke! Obama becomes the first president in American history to lose two wars... simultaneously!

It seems the One We Have Been Waiting For actually believes that surrendering to two different gangs of radical Islamists is America's greatest national-security triumph, and he expects us to reward him with another term. Even worse, these are two wars that we had already won -- that is, until Barack Obama took over and found a way to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory. Heckuva job, Mr. President.

I have no idea who gave him the cockamamie idea to bring the Taliban back in Afghanistan and to prematurely withdraw from Iraq and allow Iran to take over. It's as if in 1945, after the Germans surrendered in World War II, FDR had entered into secret negotiations with the surviving Nazis to withdraw all American troops, then help restore the Nazi Party to power again in Germany... while simultaneously encouraging the Soviets to seize control of Japan, China, and the Philippines.

Even Jimmy Carter stands in awe of such a colossal concatenation of catastrophe.

Barack Obama has pulled off a feat that none of us thought possible: His foreign and national-security policy has failed even worse than his domestic and economic policy... a breathtaking achievement!

I say, bring it on; how I long to have that debate. What is Obama going to argue? "Look, it has been three months already, and the Taliban has not yet reinstated mass torture-executions of Christians, moderate Moslems, and uppity women!"

Well of course not: Part of Obama's secret deal with the Taliban requires them to hold off until Obama is safely reelected... probably the only clause of the contract they will fulfill; and then only because having Barack Hussein Obama continue to occupy the White House is in the Taliban's best interest, and Iran's as well.

All that's left is to declare all American hydrocarbon fuel off-limits at the very moment the Iranians decide to blockade the Strait of Hormuz; then the cosmic Obasmic failure will be complete, thorough -- and irreversible.


* Note that the Taliban and Hamid Karzai's government are deadly, sworn enemies; how's that parlay going to work out?

Cross-posted on Hot Air's rogues' gallery...

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, January 1, 2012, at the time of 12:34 PM | Comments (0)

December 20, 2011

On the Road 1 - Make 'Em Gaffe, Make 'Em Gaffe

Afghan Astonishments , Presidential Peculiarities and Pomposities
Hatched by Dafydd

Everybody's talking about a huge political gaffe, a typically goofy malstatement by (surprise!) Vice President "Slow" Joe Biden:

"The Taliban, per se, is not our enemy," Biden told Newsweek, for an article published today. "There is not a single statement that the president has ever made in any of our policy assertions that the Taliban is our enemy because it threatens U.S. interests."

But that's just more Biden inanity, and we've already factored that tendency into the equation. I'm far more infuriated by an entirely different gaffe that's quoted in the same article, one that I managed to miss last May, when President Barack H. "Bubble Boy" Obama himself included it in his speech crowing about having killed Osama bin Laden.

The Newsmax article truncates Obama's quotation; so to be perfectly fair, here is the complete context from the CNN transcript (May 2nd) of Obama's "gaffe," using the Michael Kinsley definition of "inadvertently blurting out the truth":

Over the last 10 years, thanks to the tireless and heroic work of our military and our counterterrorism professionals, we've made great strides in that effort. We've disrupted terrorist attacks and strengthened our homeland defense. In Afghanistan, we removed the Taliban government, which had given bin Laden and al Qaeda safe haven and support. And around the globe, we worked with our friends and allies to capture or kill scores of al Qaeda terrorists, including several who were a part of the 9/11 plot.

In this particular paragraph, Obama leaves himself just enough wiggle room with the phrase "over the last 10 years" to dodge the charge of narcissism bordering on delusion. He might (plausibly) deny that he meant that he, President B.O., was personally responsible for "remov[ing] the Taliban government" from Afghanistan, a feat accomplished in 2001 by the United States of America during the presidency of George W. Bush.

But evidence later in that same speech indicates that in the mind of the current Occupier of la Casa Blanca, it's always all about Obama. Here is some more fun and games from that same speech:

Yet Osama bin Laden avoided capture and escaped across the Afghan border into Pakistan. Meanwhile, al Qaeda continued to operate from along that border and operate through its affiliates across the world.

And so shortly after taking office, I directed Leon Panetta, the director of the CIA, to make the killing or capture of bin Laden the top priority of our war against al Qaeda, even as we continued our broader efforts to disrupt, dismantle, and defeat his network. [Note well that he uses both "I" and "we" in a single sentence to refer to the same subject: Barack H. Obama.]

Then, last August, after years of painstaking work by our intelligence community, I was briefed on a possible lead to bin Laden. It was far from certain, and it took many months to run this thread to ground. I met repeatedly with my national security team as we developed more information about the possibility that we had located bin Laden hiding within a compound deep inside of Pakistan. And finally, last week, I determined that we had enough intelligence to take action, and authorized an operation to get Osama bin Laden and bring him to justice.

Today, at my direction, the United States launched a targeted operation against that compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan. A small team of Americans carried out the operation with extraordinary courage and capability. No Americans were harmed. They took care to avoid civilian casualties. After a firefight, they killed Osama bin Laden and took custody of his body.

Reality check (which beats "mic check" hands down): In the real world, President Bush ordered the killing of bin Laden ten years ago; he made it a "top priority," while he also "continued our broader efforts to disrupt, dismantle, and defeat his network." "Painstaking work by our intelligence community" came up with many, many "possible leads." Bush "met repeatedly" with our national-security team (not Bush's personal team; and neither does the One have a personal version of our national-security team). And on numerous occasions, Bush "determined that we had enough intelligence to take action, and authorized an operation to get Osama bin Laden and bring him to justice." It was Bush, after all, who coined the phrase that we would either "bring bin Laden to justice -- or bring justice to bin Laden."

Yet over and over, Obama assumes the mantle of Nimrod the mighty hunter, single-handedly killing bin Laden with his bare hands. (And over and over, the president pro tempore conflates himself -- "I" -- with the entire country, "we." Or perhaps it's merely the royal "we.")

The speech begins by ostensibly talking about America, not Himself. But he segues so seamlessly and quickly into "talking 'bout me" that one cannot take seriously the "modesty" of the opening few sentences. The ego-stroking starts up right quick and never quits until Obama runs out of teleprompter.

Ergo, I am quite convinced that from the very first words, in Obama's own mind, he's actually braying the personal triumphalism and self-glorification that has marked his public utterances since the year dot:

  • When he announced that his election would lead to the oceans receding and the Earth cooling.
  • When he declared that we are the ones we have been waiting for.
  • When he gloried in winning the Nobel Peace Prize in 2009, before he had a single significant accomplishment for "peace" -- other than announcing surrender unilateral withdrawal from Iraq and Afghanistan, regardless of the status of the wars or the imminence of achieving our victory conditions; and his breathless announcement -- loudly cheered but since then discarded like a used Kleenex -- that he would close Guantanamo Bay within a year of his inauguration.

Therefore, given the totality of the evidence, I conclude that Obama truly believes that he, himself, kicked the Taliban out of Afghanistan... just as he is the One who set the machinery in motion to kill bin Laden, while that lox, George W. Bush, cowered in a corner and did nothing.

(Sidebar: On 9/11 itself, the very day, the co-worker of an acquaintance of mine -- a very liberal woman -- announced, "I blame Bush; he's a do-nothing president." Then she shrugged and went back to work. That's so leftin'!)

As so many have said so many times, November 2012 can't come soon enough. I just hope that the American people don't back away from what they seem to understand today: that Barack Obama is an unmitigated disaster on the American economy, feckless on national-security (notwithstanding being the guy on watch when the U.S. Navy SEALs killed Osama bin Laden), and an utter catastrophe on health care, labor policy, the environment, energy, diplomacy, judicial appointments, and indeed every domestic and foreign policy to which he has turned his lidless eye.

I still fear that at the last moment, Americans might get so frightened by the looming crises -- so many! -- that they turn to the nearest "strongman," the chest-beating Obama, the man who created or exacerbated our problems in the first place... and beg him to take command, like Hugo Chavez, to save them from their own liberty.

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, December 20, 2011, at the time of 4:51 PM | Comments (0)

August 10, 2011

Obama Very Popular - Among Moslems and Mullah Omar

Afghan Astonishments , Pakistan Perplexities , Presidential Peculiarities and Pomposities
Hatched by Dafydd

Evidently, talks between spokesfolk for Barack H. Obama and aides to Taliban leader Mullah Mohammed Omar have "broken down." Those of us still flabbergasted that they were being held at all may be excused, I hope, for not feeling let down that they've evidently collapsed.

For all the secrecy, it was never particularly a secret: The talks -- what, conditions under which we would give Afghanistan back to the Taliban? -- were widely discussed in several news stories over the past few months. In fact, that appears to be the reason they crashed and burned:

Secret exploratory peace talks between the United States and the Taliban leadership have broken down after details of the negotiations were leaked, Western diplomats have told The Daily Telegraph.

The breakdown in the talks at such an early stage has led to recriminations and claims that the details of the meetings and the identity of the Taliban's chief negotiator were deliberately leaked by 'paranoid' Afghan government figures....

[A]fter only three sessions details of two meetings in Germany and one in Qatar – held in March and April - were leaked to the Washington Post and Der Spiegel news magazine which named Tayeb Agha as the key Taliban negotiator.

Well. All I can say is... Holy Hudna! Mullah Omar himself appears to have given his blessing for the talks:

Absolute confidentiality had been a key condition for the meetings which were held in Germany and Qatar earlier this year between Tayeb Agha, Taliban leader Mullah Omar's former private secretary, and senior officials from the US State Department and Central Intelligence Agency. The meetings were chaired by Michael Steiner, Germany's special representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan....

After years of the Taliban rejecting Hamid Karzai's overtures, news of contact with a senior aide to Mullah Omar had kindled cautious hope in Kabul.

Abdul Hakim Mujahid, the Taliban's former envoy to the United Nations and now a member of Mr Karzai's High Peace Council, told the Daily Telegraph in June that the contacts were "helpful".

He said: "[Tayeb Agha] is still very close to Mullah Mohammad Omar, it's a good sign. Not only close to Mullah Omar, but also close to Pakistan."

But the saddest part of the story is this:

Michael Semple, the former deputy European Union representative in Kabul and a leading expert on Taliban thinking, said the disclosure of the talks and the identification of Tayeb Agha was regarded as damaging by the insurgents.

"The Taliban have long claimed that they will drive the foreigners out by force before contemplating talks. They need a period of confidential contact to satisfy themselves that there is something serious on offer to warrant them taking the big step of acknowledging that negotiations have to start now and not after things have been settled on the battlefield," he said.

"When the fact that talks had taken place and the identity of the Taliban envoy were leaked the Taliban shifted into their version of damage control. The leadership put it about that the contacts were nothing out of the ordinary. They were just routine discussions about prisoner releases, which a movement at war has to undertake periodically.

The Taliban will "drive the foreigners out by force before contemplating talks." Why does Mr. Semple say they've decided to start negotiations "now and not after things have been settled on the battlefield"? The Obamunists are proclaiming throughout all the land unto all the inhabitants thereof that we just can't wait to withdraw our forces from Afghanistan; that we shall do so unilaterally and without regard to the facts on the ground; and that withdrawal will proceed no matter whether we're winning or losing.

So haven't the Taliban met their original requirement, then? If that's not surrender, what is? The Taliban can enter into "negotiations" -- when, where, and how we are sheepishly to return them their country, throwing ordinary, anti-totalitarian Afghans under the camel's hooves -- with a clean conscience, basking the holiness of having already defeated B.O. on the battlefield!

Meanwhile, Obamic love is not distributed evenly throughout the religions; there appear to be some meaningful differences:

Eighty percent of Muslim Americans approve of the way Barack Obama is handling his job as president (!), according to a newly released survey conducted by the Abu Dhabi Gallup Center, a partnership between Gallup and the Crown Prince Court of Abu Dhabi.

According to the survey, 65 percent of Jewish Americans* approve of the job Obama is doing; 60 percent of atheists, agnostics, and those of no religion approve; 50 percent of Catholics approve †; 37 percent of Protestants approve and 25 percent of Mormons approve ‡.

So it's hardly surprising that Mullah Omar is pleased as punch that our president plans to negotiate away everything we've won over the past decade: He's in the 80% majority!

'Zounds, how I wish we could hold the November, 2012 election this September. At this rate, I'm not sure we can survive another seventeen months.


* That is, probably close to 100% of irreligious Jews.

† Liberation theologists?

‡ A strong talking point for Mitt Romney.

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, August 10, 2011, at the time of 6:37 PM | Comments (0)

April 28, 2011

Will "Director" Petraeus Betray Us, or Hooray Us?

Afghan Astonishments , CIA CYA , Iraq Matters , War Against Radical Islamism
Hatched by Dafydd

With the news that President Barack H. Obama intends to name Gen. David Petraeus Director of the Central Intelligence Agency -- after current top spook Leon Panetta, who spent a couple of years in the Army, shifts to being Secretary of Defense -- we are left with a series of known (and unknown) unknowns. After all, Petraeus has been in the Army for decades and could not thus enunciate his own political positions and opinions; he could only support the policy of the Commander in Chief under whom he served, whether that was Nixon, Ford, Carter, Reagan, Bush, Clinton, Bush, or Obama.

Given that tabula rasa, we must identify at least a few of the conundrums:

  • Most urgently, can Petraeus actually master an out-of-control, leak-crazy, internationalist progressivist CIA... or at least render it somewhat less anti-American?
  • Does the appointment mean that the CIA will actually become more like it's "predecessor," the Office of Strategic Services (OSS) in World War II? That is, will the CIA show more interest in furthering America's military aims and less in trying to pick the next president?
  • Does the appointment mean that David Petraeus is interested in heading into electoral politics next?
  • Does it show Petraeus is going to "come out" as a Democrat to run against the Republican incumbent in 2016?
  • Does it mean Obama has changed his mind about the need for the United States to have a strong and vigorous intelligence community to further American goals... or does it mean Petraeus has grown in office and now supports Obamunism, full and stark?
  • What will happen to the Afghanistan war effort as Petraeus withdraws, ushering in Marine Lt.Gen. John R. Allen as Commander, U.S. Forces Afghanistan (USFOR-A) -- a man who has no Afghanistan experience whatsoever? Though Gen. Allen certainly does have battlefield experience in the War Against Radical Islamism: He was Deputy Commanding General in al-Anbar province, Iraq, during the Iraq war.

    But what type of commander is he? Is he like Petraeus, with a deep understanding of contemporary counterinsurgency strategy? Or is he more akin to the Shinseki-ites devoted to the Powell Doctrine of endlessly refighting WWII in all the dorky, little countries found in what Thomas P.M. Barnett, author of the Pentagon's New Map, aptly calls the "Non-Integrating Gap?"

I doubt anyone can answer these questions authoritatively at this juncture in time, as Nixon was wont to say; but they are indeed critical queries.

And here is the last and most pregnant:

  • Will the appointment receive vigorous examination during Senate confirmation hearings, in order to answer some of these unknowns, among others? Or will Republicans and Democrats alike give the war hero a pass -- the former because he is a war hero; the latter because he will have been appointed by the Obamacle, whom all Democrats must prop up and buttress in every imaginable way for the 2012 election?

At the moment, President B.O.'s deft and crafty move has handed us a Petraeus in a poke.

Cross-posted on Hot Air's rogues' gallery...

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, April 28, 2011, at the time of 5:01 PM | Comments (2)

January 19, 2011

Obamacle Tries to Make Lemonade Out of a Sow's Ear

Afghan Astonishments , Pakistan Perplexities , War Against Radical Islamism
Hatched by Dafydd

For years during both the George W. Bush and Barack H. Obama presidencies, American military commanders have complained that Pakistan is not fighting hard enough against Taliban and al-Qaeda forces along the Pakistan/Afghanistan "border" -- which is entirely artificial, as the Pashtun and other tribes move back and forth across the menagerie lion with impunity, indeed without even being aware (I suspect) that they have crossed from one country to the other.

Though every region in Pakistan is dangerous, the most deadly is likely the seven Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATAs), called Agencies:

  • Bajaur
  • Mohmand
  • Khyber
  • Orakzai
  • Kurram
  • North Waziristan
  • South Waziristan

(The FATAs also include six Frontier Regions: Bannu, Dera Ismail Khan [Darazinda], Kohat [Darra Adam Khel], Lakki Marwat, Peshawar, and Tank [Jandola].)

Pakistan Pakistan FATAs

Pakistan (L) and FATAs pullout (R)

Because the FATAs abut Afghanistan, terrorists and insurgents attack Afghans, Americans, or our Coalition partners, then flee back across the "border" and moon American troops, which must perforce come to screeching halt at that crayon mark. Once in Pakistan, the most we can do is lob Hellfire missiles from drone aircraft.

The situation in the FATAs got significantly worse when Pakistan strongman Gen. Pervez Musharraf was ousted from power in August, 2008, after seven years of iron-fisted rule. Musharraf had "aligned" Pakistan with the international coalition that fought the Taliban and al-Qaeda in Afghanistan, but he was eventually forced to resign after being threatened with impeachment.

He was succeeded by the head of the Pakistan People's Party, President Asif Ali Zardari -- widower of Benazir Bhutto, who was assassinated in 2007, likely by al-Qaeda and possibly on orders of Ayman Zawahiri, Osama bin Laden's left-hand man. Since assuming the Barnacle Throne, or whatever they call it, Zardari has prosecuted the war against the terrorists with a notable lack of zeal.

And even more recently, Nawaz Sharif, head of the Pakistan Muslim League-N (N for Nawaz faction) -- long suspected of having cozy ties with terrorists -- has yet again become a rising star in Pakistan. Correspondingly, the prospects of that country fighting a full-on war to expunge the Taliban, the ocean in which the fish of al-Qaeda swim, has sunk even lower.

The current strategy appears bizarre: The Pakistan army has fought against the Taliban in six of the FATAs; but they have by and large ignored North Waziristan. Not surprisingly, a motley crew of Taliban, al-Qaeda, and assorted other nuts, fruits, and flakes has collected there, sludge always finding the lowest level:

Pakistani Army operations in the other six of seven tribal areas near the border with Afghanistan have helped drive fighters from Al Qaeda, the Pakistani Taliban, the Haqqani network and other militant groups into North Waziristan, the one tribal area that Pakistan has not yet assaulted.

And now, in an almost freakish claim, "senior United States intelligence and counterinsurgency officials" are saying that the existence of a safe haven along the Pakistan-Afghanistan border is a good thing:

A growing number of senior United States intelligence and counterinsurgency officials say that by bunching up there, insurgents are ultimately making it easier for American drone strikes to hit them from afar.

American officials are loath to talk about this silver lining to the storm cloud that they have long described building up in the tribal area of North Waziristan, where the insurgents run a virtual mini-state the size of Rhode Island. This is because they do not want to undermine the Obama administration’s urgent public pleas for Pakistan to order troops into the area, or to give Pakistan an excuse for inaction.

“We cannot succeed in Afghanistan without shutting down those safe havens,” Adm. Mike Mullen, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said last week, underscoring a major conclusion of the White House’s strategic review of Afghanistan policy last month.

But as long as the safe havens exist, they provide a rich hunting ground, however inadvertent it may be.

It's an amazing bit of rhetorical gymnastics. While these anonymous intelligence and counterinsurgency stratgists admit it would be better if Pakistan actually stepped up and destroyed the terrorists -- you think? -- they nevertheless continue making excuses and trying to minimize the embarassment of a presidential administration that has fecklessly and only half-heartedly fought against those who struck the United States ten years ago. (And the embarassment of the Zardari administration, as well.)

How's this for rationalization:

A senior counterterrorism official concurred, saying: “We’ve seen in the past what happens when terrorists are given a de facto safe haven. It tends to turn out ugly for both Pakistan and the United States. It’s absolutely critical that Pakistan stay focused on rooting out militants in North Waziristan....”

But half a dozen senior intelligence, counterterrorism and military officials interviewed in the past several days said a bright side had unexpectedly emerged from Pakistan’s delay. Pounding the militants consolidated in the North Waziristan enclave with airstrikes will leave the insurgents in a weakened state if the Pakistani offensive comes later this year, the officials said.

“In some ways, it’s to our benefit to keep them bottled up, mostly in North Waziristan,” said a senior intelligence official, who like others interviewed agreed to speak candidly about the Pakistan strategy if he was not identified. “This is not intentional. That wasn’t the design to bottle them up. That’s just where they are, and they’re there for a reason. They don’t have a lot of options.”

The claim might have some merit under two conditions:

  • First, if we had a real plan for taking advantage of this "bunching up" of terrorists, something a bit more robust and lethal than Predator drone attacks that kill three or four of them at a time and often miss the actual commanders. Alas, President B.O. has no stomach for the fight, and indeed is sticking to his timetable for pulling all our troops out of Afghanistan starting in June 2011. The odds that he would send American troops directly into Pakistan (as he suggested during his presidential campaign) is nil.
  • Second, if those advancing the claim were confident enough about it that they were willing to use their names. Alas, nobody is willing to go on record saying it's a good thing that Pakistan is leaving the terrorist haven of North Waziristan unmolested... and I suspect we all know the reason why they won't.

By contrast, those who say it's a rotten thing that Pakistan is shying away from North Waziristan are willing to show their faces, are much more highly placed, and are legion. For example:

All the more reason proponents of Pakistani action say time is of the essence. “I’ve been very clear in my conversations with General Kayani over the last year or so that there needs to be a focus, from my perspective, on North Waziristan,” [Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff] Admiral [Michael] Mullen told reporters in Islamabad last month. “That’s where Al Qaeda leadership resides, that’s where the Haqqani network, in particular, is headquartered, and the Haqqanis are leading the way and coming across the border and killing American and allied forces. And that has got to cease.”

Admittedly, North Waziristan is the hardest Taliban/al-Qaeda nut to swallow. But as noted above, that's all the more reason to swallow hard and crack it.

And wouldn't it be nice if we had a president with enough leadership that he could not only persuade our supposed allies to step up, but also step up himself and cancel the troop withdrawal. We could certainly use the extra forces to move into North Waziristan and deny the terrorists their safe haven.

Then we might obliterate the Taliban and al-Qaeda, and we might even break the back of the terrorist Haqqani network, which enjoys widespread support within Pakistani security and intelligence forces themselves, since Haqqani often launches terrorist attacks against Afghans perceived as supporting the United States. In June of last year, the Pakistani Army and Intelligence heads, Gen. Ashfaq Parvez Kayani and Lt. Gen. Ahmad Shuja Pasha, held power-sharing talks with Afghanistan President Hamid Karzai, offering to incorporate Haqqani into the Afghanistan government after the U.S. leaves:

Washington has watched with some nervousness as General Kayani and Pakistan’s spy chief, Lt. Gen. Ahmad Shuja Pasha, shuttle between Islamabad and Kabul, telling Mr. Karzai that they agree with his assessment that the United States cannot win in Afghanistan, and that a postwar Afghanistan should incorporate the Haqqani network, a longtime Pakistani asset. In a sign of the shift in momentum, the two Pakistani officials were next scheduled to visit Kabul on Monday, according to Afghan TV.

The Haqqani network has its base in North Waziristan, another reason Pakistan has avoided attacking that Tribal Area:

But there have long been suspicions among Afghan, American and other Western officials that the Pakistanis were holding the Haqqanis in reserve for just such a moment, as a lever to shape the outcome of the war in its favor.

On repeated occasions, Pakistan has used the Haqqani fighters to hit Indian targets inside Afghanistan, according to American intelligence officials. The Haqqanis have also hit American ones, a possible signal from the Pakistanis to the Americans that it is in their interest, too, to embrace a deal.

Evidently, Pakistan considers the eventual behind-the-scenes control of Afghanistan after we withdraw a much more important war -- of conquest -- than the minor war of mere national defense in their own tribal areas. Sadly but not shockingly, even some members of the Obama administration seem willing to allow Pakistan and the Haqqani terrorist network to carve up Afghanistan:

Some officials in the Obama administration have not ruled out incorporating the Haqqani network in an Afghan settlement, though they stress that President Obama’s policy calls for Al Qaeda to be separated from the network. American officials are skeptical that that can be accomplished.

Richard C. Holbrooke, the Obama administration’s special envoy to Pakistan and Afghanistan, said on a visit to Islamabad last weekend that it was “hard to imagine” the Haqqani network in an Afghan arrangement, but added, “Who knows?”

"Realists" like the late Richard Holbrooke may go and come, but the urge to appease abides.

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, January 19, 2011, at the time of 1:18 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

November 24, 2010

Come Mr. Taliban, Tally Me Bananas

Afghan Astonishments
Hatched by Dafydd

Or should that be, "tell me I'm bananas?"

So Monday -- the 292nd anniversary of the death of Blackbeard the pirate, but does anybody care? -- the New York Times reported a curious controversy that surely is the most emblematic embarassment of the administration of Barack H. "Lucky Lefty" Obama:

For months, the secret talks unfolding between Taliban and Afghan leaders to end the war appeared to be showing promise, if only because of the appearance of a certain insurgent leader at one end of the table: Mullah Akhtar Muhammad Mansour, one of the most senior commanders in the Taliban movement.

But now, it turns out, Mr. Mansour was apparently not Mr. Mansour at all. In an episode that could have been lifted from a spy novel, United States and Afghan officials now say the Afghan man was an impostor, and high-level discussions conducted with the assistance of NATO appear to have achieved little.

Cue "Three Stooges" music: "Oh, a wiseguy, eh?"

I was not particularly startled by the fact that the Obamacle's negotiators cannot tell a Taliban from a tally-ho; with this duffer, who drills the ball into a knothole and calls it a hole in one, I expect nothing better.

But what really numbfounds me is the next line in the Times story:

"It’s not him," said a Western diplomat in Kabul intimately involved in the discussions. "And we gave him a lot of money."

That is, evidently, we were under the mistaken impression that we were paying the Taliban to negotiate with us. One can only conclude that our progressive president is so desperate to show some progress (on anything!) that he's even willing to bribe our enemies to sit down and pretend to talk to us.

So upon consideration, I really can't feel all that upset about what happened over the past three months (red-faced and humiliated, sure, but not upset). When all is said, I'm actually rather grateful that all that money we've been forking over only went to a con man.

In fact, considering the alternative, I'd say we got a bargain.

Cross-posted on Hot Air's rogues' gallery...

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, November 24, 2010, at the time of 12:18 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

July 26, 2010

Brilliance at Midnight

Afghan Astonishments , Pakistan Perplexities , Terrorism Intelligence , War Against Radical Islamism
Hatched by Dafydd

The take-away from the massive dumping of leaked U.S. military documents on WikiLeaks, documents related to the conduct and progress of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, is this: The putative "rift" between Islamist terrorists on the one hand, and radical Islamists who "reject terrorism" (at specific times and places) on the other hand, has nothing to do with any ultimate goal of Islamism.

The rift reflects only a difference of opinion about the precise strategies and tactics for achieving that goal. Islamist victory conditions are the same in both groups: a pure, radical Islamism dominant across the globe, with sharia the final law in every country.

This is, of course, the central thesis of Andrew McCarthy's seminal work, the Grand Jihad: How Islam and the Left Sabotage America. But we see it played out in the carefully parsed response of the administration of Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari to the documentation, throughout the leaked papers, of cooperation between Pakistan officials and the Taliban... at the very time the former are supposed to be allied with the United States and NATO at war with the latter.

Note how carefully spokesmen dance around the actual accusation:

A senior ISI official, speaking on condition of anonymity under standard practice, sharply condemned the reports as “part of the malicious campaign to malign the spy organization” and said the ISI would “continue to eradicate the menace of terrorism with or without the help of the West.”

The unnamed official pointedly restricted the term "menace" to terrorism; but the danger is not terrorism but Islamism. The accusation against the ISI, the Directorate for Inter-Services Intelligence in Pakistan, is not that they, themselves engage in "martyrdom operations" in Pakistan or Afghanistan; of course they don't (in general). Rather, the data-dump documents that the ISI especially, but other Pakistan government bodies as well, leak military intelligence like a sieve. Some of the leaks are simple incompetence; but others are due to corruption (bribery) or a radical ideology that deliberately aids and abets Islamist groups... including those who prematurely engage in terrorism at this time, before Pakistan has been sufficiently "Islamicized" to embrace the ideology of the Taliban.

And again:

Farhatullah Babar, the spokesman for President Asif Ali Zardari, dismissed the reports and said that Pakistan remained “a part of a strategic alliance of the United States in the fight against terrorism....”

Mr. Babar questioned how Pakistan could possibly have the kind of connections to the Taliban that some of the reports suggest, asking if “those who are alleging that Pakistan is playing a double game are also asserting that President Zardari is presiding over an apparatus that is coordinating attacks on the general headquarters, mosques, shrines, schools and killing Pakistani citizens?”

Yes, I think we all agree that the current quasi-democratic, partially authoritarian regime in Pakistan believes it should remain in charge; consequently, it opposes terrorist attacks on "mosques, shrines, schools," and especially upon "the general headquarters" of Pakistan's military. But that isn't the question, is it?

Are elements of the ISI collaborating with the Taliban to bring about an Islamist revolution in Pakistan? That is the real question, and it remains unanswered by the Zardari administration.

Such a revolution needn't include terrorism; for example, if Zardari himself fully embraced Islamism and enacted sharia law, overturning what democracy Pakistan still possesses and joining "the Project" -- but if he declared himself the supreme Taliban leader in Pakistan -- that would still constitute an "Islamist revolution," without firing a shot. And it would be just as catastrophic for America and the rest of the West as a bloody insurrection or coup d'état.

Terrorism is not the enemy; it is a tactic of the enemy, one bolt in an entire quiver of bolts. A "global war against terrorism" has no meaning; but surely we can understand and support a war against radical Islamism. (To highlight this point, I am changing the category formerly known as "the War Against the Iran/al-Qaeda Axis" -- too limiting! -- to "the War Against Radical Islamism.")

This specifically includes not only those who want to advance Islamist ideas by terrorism but also those, like the Muslim Brotherhood, who share that goal but believe, at this time in history, that the Islamist Project is best advanced by propaganda, sabotage, bribery, "democratically" electing a totalitarian government (which then "pulls the ladder up" behind it)... and only sometimes by terrorism and bloody revolution.

Thus the surety we need is that Pakistan rejects the Islamist Project, and all it comprises:

  • Dominance -- Islam is dominant over all the world; infidels worldwide must pay the special tax and be treated as inferior beings.
  • Purity -- Islam is the Islam of Mohammed and his original followers; no reformation, no enlightenment, containing no Western ideas of individual liberty, democracy, or separation of religion and State.
  • Completeness -- Sharia is the entire law in every country and Islam the entire morality.
  • Hegemony -- the "true" Caliphate is restored to its rightful place as supreme ruler of the world.

If highly placed individuals within Pakistan (or Afghanistan) still support any element of the Project, then those individuals are our enemies, regardless of whether they believe terrorism is the best route to advance the Project at this time, in that particular place; and they should be treated as enemies by anyone who purports to reject radical Islamism.

The clever way found by representatives of Pakistan to ignore the implication that high-ranking government and intelligence officials either support the ideology of radical Islamism, or are at least willing to ally with them (for money, for power), and tendentiously redefine the question to focus only on the straw man of direct ISI involvement in terrorist attacks upon themselves, should make us very nervous indeed.

Why can't Pakistani officials, or President Zardari himself, just come right out and denounce the ideology of the Taliban? While it's important what tactics they use to advance that ideology, the most important factor is radical Islamism itself.

But don't look for the current American administration of Barack H. Obama to demand an answer; it has already ruled out ideology as a motivator of "Man-caused disaster" in the first place (an act of "Willful Blindness"). We cannot possibly win the war until and unless we are willing to confront the real enemy -- radical Islamists -- and win the war of ideas.

There are many ways to win a war of ideas or ideologies; but our core strategy is the same as that of the Islamists: conversion. We must convert the unaligned and even the enemy -- either to another religion entirely (Christianity, perhaps), or at least to a non-radicalized version of Islam.

One path to conversion is to prove that our Western "culture of life" leads to a better life than the Islamists' cult of death. Another is to show that the West is the "strong horse;" this plays directly into the Arab cultural tendency to gravitate to the winning side in any conflict. But in order to convert, we need a Borg-like ideology that is powerful and seductive, against which "resistance is futile."

Fortunately, we have a couple ready to hand: Evangelical Christianity is winning that war in Africa, for example, as Animists and even Moslems on that continent are converting in mass numbers to an African Christianity that is both Western in outlook and native in local implementation.

Too, our own American ideology of individual liberty, Capitalism, rule of law, separation of religion and State (while maintaining the connection between religion and culture), and democratic governance by the consent of the governed is itself powerful and awesome, leading to a staggering improvement in human life and meaning, and to a strength that has made the still-young America the most powerful nation on Earth. (Even after eighteen months of Obamunism!)

But you can't surrender your way to victory; we must engage on the most important front -- the ideological one.

That's how our Founders won the Revolutionary War, how the North won the Civil War, and how the Democratic West won World War II and the Cold War... they fought and won the war of ideas. Yet by allowing the multi-culti "elite" to jettison the entire intellectual arsenal of liberty, we have disarmed ourselves in what could be an existential armageddon.

So to hell with taking back "the night;" it's long past time for real America to recapture the light of the Western day.

Cross-posted on Hot Air's rogues' gallery...

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, July 26, 2010, at the time of 6:59 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

June 23, 2010

The Most Unpardonable Sin: Lèse Déité - Instant Update!

Afghan Astonishments , Future of Warfare , Presidential Peculiarities and Pomposities
Hatched by Dafydd

(Update: See below.)

Lèse majesté, pardon my French, is "an offense against the dignity of a reigning sovereign." In the Obamacle's case, one supposes the more appropriate crime would be lèse déité, or "insulting the local demigod."

Today's example (subscription to the Wall Street Journal Online possibly required):

U.S. Gen. Stanley McChrystal faced a barrage of criticism -- and little public support -- from top aides to President Barack Obama and senior politicians for reportedly mocking Vice President Joe Biden and others in a magazine article, casting doubt over future of the top commander in the Afghan war.

Mr. Obama summoned Gen. McChrystal to the White House from Kabul because of the article, an eight-page profile in Rolling Stone magazine titled "The Runaway General." It portrays Gen. McChrystal, the commander of North Atlantic Treaty Organization forces in Afghanistan, and his staff as rogues with little regard for Washington officials, including Mr. Obama.

If one can believe the reactions by various stuffed shirts, the vice president, the Secretary of Defense, Ambassador to Afghanistan Karl Eikenberry, and the Stuffed Shirt in Chief himself are all furious about tiny little digs uttered by McChrystal or even by his aides... such as quipping about Vice President Joe Biden, "who's that?" (Well, who is that?)

The WSJ makes clear the problem is not any policy difference between Barack H. Obama and Gen. McChrystal -- apart from that whole, you know, "victory" thing. It appears to be just petty ubrage that the general "poked a finger in the zoo, punctured all the ballyhoo," as the poet said. The Journal contrasts this micro "scandal" with the interview in Esquire that got George W. Bush to fire Adm. William Fallon from his position as Commander of Central Command in 2008:

In the Esquire piece, however, Adm. Fallon appeared to directly contradict White House policy on Iran and other parts of the Middle East. The Rolling Stone article makes no such allegation, but rather is full of jokey put-downs of important Washington players.

Lèse majesté, lèse déité.

Capital punishment -- or even corporal -- being already ruled off the table, the next most likely response for his infuriated Holiness would be to fire Gen. McChrystal. Yes, right in the middle of the Afghan campaign, and damned to the consequences. But what difference does it make? President Barack H. Obama shows every intention of "presid[ing] over America's second lost war" anyway, as the editorial board of the Washington Times put it.

However, I don't think the president will fire McChrystal: It would be too humiliating to oust the man he only "inst" a few months ago.

Instant Update: Toby Harnden of the Daily Telegraph of England reports that Gen. Stanley McChrystal has "tendered his resignation" to the Commander in Chief. However, it is of course up to President Obama whether to accept it or not. I still predict he will not accept it; there is no "replacement general" who is both prepared to take on the job and able to pass Senate muster without a fight that the president can ill afford. I strongly believe the Obamunist will swallow his tongue and retain Stan the Man.

Be that as it falls out, all the players are dancing around the dead horse in the punchbowl; there is a much more serious conundrum that rightly should engage President B.O. much more than whether somebody made mock of him: Some of our evidently troops believe the Afghanistan rules of engagement (ROEs) are so restrictive, they're hurting the war effort:

As levels of violence in Afghanistan climb, there is a palpable and building sense of unease among troops surrounding one of the most confounding questions about how to wage the war: when and how lethal force should be used.

On the other hand, the counterinsurgency doctrine promulgated by McChrystal and his immediate boss, Gen. David Petraeus, calls for just such tight ROEs, because the entire strategy depends upon winning the "hearts and minds" of Afghans. Or to put it another way, we can only win the war against the insurgency by winning the propaganda war at the same time. In Iraq, for example, we didn't win by shipping ten thousand tanks into the Land of Two Rivers and refighting the North Africa campaign; we won it by persuading Sunni tribal leaders to abandon support of al-Qaeda in Iraq and shift to our side:

Since last year, the counterinsurgency doctrine championed by those now leading the campaign has assumed an almost unchallenged supremacy in the ranks of the American military’s career officers. The doctrine, which has been supported by both the Bush and Obama administrations, rests on core assumptions, including that using lethal force against an insurgency intermingled with a civilian population is often counterproductive....

“Winning hearts and minds in COIN is a coldblooded thing,” General McChrystal was quoted as telling an upset American soldier in the Rolling Stone profile that has landed him in trouble. “The Russians killed 1 million Afghans, and that didn’t work.” COIN is the often used abbreviation for counterinsurgency.

The rules have shifted risks from Afghan civilians to Western combatants. They have earned praise in many circles, hailed as a much needed corrective to looser practices that since 2001 killed or maimed many Afghan civilians and undermined support for the American-led war.

But the new rules have also come with costs, including a perception now frequently heard among troops that the effort to limit risks to civilians has swung too far, and endangers the lives of Afghan and Western soldiers caught in firefights with insurgents who need not observe any rules at all.

Like Hugh Hewitt, I tend to side with Petraeus and McChrystal, even against the NCOs and low-level officers: Those at the pointy end of the stick do the real fighting, but they often can't see the big picture. I note that Petraeus scored a tremendous victory in Iraq by following his own understanding of COIN, ignoring the well-meant advice both from those above and those below him.

But at the very least, we need more instruction in the basics of COIN for the troops, so they know why they risk their own lives and their fellow troopers'... so they understand the theory and how well it worked in the real-world crucible of Iraq. As Sachi said last night, "the purpose of the Army is not to protect the lives of soldiers; it is to complete the mission."

It would also help if we didn't have a Cowerer in Chief who sees any minor setback not as part of the vicissitudes of war but as an unmistakable augury that it's time to declare defeat and go home.

Having an unconventional commander lead troops in a counterintuitive counterinsurgency is hard enough, without having to serve under a feckless civilian government comprising anti-war, anti-American academics with visions of Schlessinger, jr. dancing in their heads. Behind the snarky comments, Gen. Stanley McChrystal and his aides may have hoped the message sent would be received: War is not a timed event.

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, June 23, 2010, at the time of 1:28 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

June 10, 2010

Things Better Left Unannounced

Afghan Astonishments
Hatched by Dafydd

Secretary of Defense Robert Gates issued an announcement yesterday:

Public support for the war in Afghanistan will evaporate unless the nations leading the fight against insurgents can show by the end of this year that the eight-year war is not locked in stalemate, Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates said Wednesday.

"All of us, for our publics, are going to have to show by the end of the year that our strategy is on the track, making some headway," Mr. Gates said ahead of meetings with NATO allies long weary of the war.

Let me understand: Robert Gates has just publicly informed the world -- including the Taliban and al-Qaeda, assuming they listen to the news -- just how long our enemies must hold out and make it appear we're not doing well, before the American people will turn against the war, forcing us to withdraw prematurely and in defeat.

Announced it. For the world press to repeat ad nauseum.



What could possibly go wrong? ™


Now, there's no denying this is a true statement; since the current Commander in Chief took over, things have not been going very well:

Support for the Afghanistan war is dropping in the United States after a period of relatively strong approval for the war and the retooled strategy Mr. Obama announced last year. He followed the announcement with a surge of 30,000 U.S. forces intended to seize momentum from the revived Taliban insurgency.

The U.S. and its allies, fighting alongside Afghan soldiers, do have the upper hand in many parts of the country. But crucial areas remain under the Taliban thumb, with little sign the allies are making headway in persuading local people to throw off the insurgents and align with the central government in Kabul.

But not every true statement must be trumpeted from the highest battlement; some truths are better left unannounced.

Say what you will about the communication skills of George W. Bush and his administration, at least nobody every accused them of blabbing important secrets to the world. Not even Gates himself, back when he had Bush as his boss, found occasion to let slip information that can only help the terrorists.

But Barack H. Obama, by contrast, seems bound and determined to reveal anything and everything that might embarass America and hurt the war effort. It's as if...

  1. He suffers from obsessive-compulsive disorder and simply cannot stop himself; or,
  2. He actually wants to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory, perhaps hoping to blame the loss on "the previous administration's rush to war in Afghanistan."

If it's (2), that dog won't fly. When the starting pitcher leaves the game with a big lead, but the relief pitcher turns it into a substantial defeat, I think most folks know who should be charged with the loss.

The propensity towards poor impulse control and babbling trickles down from the fish-head itself to the rest of the cabinet, including Gates 2.0. How long it will be before some secretary, the Vice President, or even the Obamacle himself will call a press conference to solemnly declare, à la Majority Leader Harry "Pinky" Reid (D-Caesar's Palace, 95%), that "this war is lost?"

Our next president may have to spend his or her entire first term doing nothing but "damage control" with a planet-sized pooper scooper, cleaning up the Augean mess created by the current occupant of 1600 Pennsylvania Ave.

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, June 10, 2010, at the time of 3:03 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

May 14, 2010

Too Quiet on the Afghan Front

Afghan Astonishments , Military Machinations , Presidential Peculiarities and Pomposities
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In a stealth shift of the rules of engagement (ROEs) in Afghanistan last July, Gen. Stanley McChrystal, the senior NATO commander in Afghanistan, severely restricted the use of close-air support in our operations there.

Today, our soldiers and combat pilots are really feeling the hangover from that addled, "politically correct" decision, as Taliban and other terrorist fighters no longer "run and hide" when American jets scream overhead; they laugh at us, because they know we're not going to shoot:

Joint terminal attack controllers, airmen on the ground who call in airstrikes, and fighter pilots report that insurgents are encouraging each other to continue firing because they know the Air Force’s F-16s and A-10s are dropping far fewer bombs now than this time last year.

“Keep fighting; [coalition forces] won’t shoot” is the order that enemy leaders are giving -- in Pashtun and Dari, words that the JTACs have heard over their radios....

Much of [Air Force Captain Andy] Vaughan’s time is spent flying intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance sorties, even though his A-10 -- with titanium planers underneath the cockpit and a 30mm GAU-8/A seven-barrel Gatling gun mounted on the nose -- was built to fly close-air support.

“The A-10 pilots … are just left circling in the skies,” said an Air Force officer here who asked not to be identified because he is not authorized to speak on the record.

Technically, McChrystal gave the order; but considering the negative impact on our warfighting capability and the higher risk to McChrystal's own troops, I find it highly unlikely that the order originated with him. I would bet money that the order came from somewhere far upstream from McChrystal; from Gen. David Petraeus, Commander of Central Command; even from the Service Chiefs. I doubt it even came from Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, except perhaps as a conduit.

I am quite convinced that the "decider" in this case wears a suit and never wore a uniform; I cannot imagine any combat infantry commander deciding to forgo close-air support, which we have used to excellent effect since World War I. In fact, I suspect the strategic retreat originated from someone with great power who loathes the military and thinks jihadism can be defeated by a flurry of subpoenas and indictments.

Regardless, the change in the ROEs has a devastating real-world impact:

Before a plane drops any bomb or makes a strafing run, the aircrew and the JTAC work together to determine if an attack can be justified. For example, either the pilot or JTAC must visually identify an insurgent firing a weapon before engaging the target -- no easy task either while flying a plane or taking fire on the ground, airmen here said.

“There are directives on what we need to ask the JTAC,” Vaughan said, and each pilot is looking for the JTAC to say “specific phrases” before he releases any munitions....

Even if a ground commander orders an airstrike, a JTAC does not have to authorize the attack if the situation does not exactly meet the conditions laid out by McChrystal, Bryza said.

When seconds count, the JTAC's determination is only a quarter hour away!

Without close-air support, we're fighting with one hand tied behind our straightjacket. It truly calls into question the seriousness with which this administration intends to fight even the "good war" in Afghanistan.

The goal of the order was evidently to reduce civilian casualties in Afghanistan:

Fewer civilian casualties have been reported since McChrystal issued his directive. The numbers are difficult to count and often disputed, but the U.N. Assistance Mission in Afghanistan puts the civilian death toll from airstrikes in 2009 at 359, down from 680 the year before.

This is a political goal that again points the finger at the civilian branch of the chain of command -- which terminates with the Commander in Chief, of course. Sadly, fecklessness appears to be the normal mode of operation for our post-racial, post-partisan, post-modern, third-millennial president when he tries to run a war.

But if the war on the Iran/al-Qaeda axis is not really a war, only a law-enforcement investigation to "solve" a disconnected series of criminal acts, then there's no reason to treat even its most warlike manifestations with the seriousness a real war demands: We can accomodate our ROEs to fit the politically correct fashion; and if that causes us to lose a few battles (and a few good men), it's a small price for those faceless minions to pay.

If the progressive caste demands a bloodless war with no (non-American) casualties, so be it; we'll order our mighty Air Force to stand down. If a few more soldiers get killed because they cannot call in an air strike, it's their own fault for not finishing skool and getting stuk in afganerstone. If the Obamacle even notices their demise, he'll be pleased they could sacrifice their meaningless lives to such a glorious cause as a war in which no blood is spilt -- except by American troops.

What a cathatric and humbling experience that will be for the lone (whether we like it or not) superpower!

I seriously wonder if we have elected an honest to goodness solipsist as President of the United States.

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, May 14, 2010, at the time of 11:51 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

May 10, 2010

One-Time Taliban Head Mullah Omar... in Custody?

Afghan Astonishments
Hatched by Dafydd

So sayeth Brad Thor at Big Government...

Through key intelligence sources in Afghanistan and Pakistan, I have just learned that reclusive Taliban leader and top Osama bin Laden ally, Mullah Omar has been taken into custody [by Pakistan authorities].

Amusingly enough, it appears that both Secretary of Defense Robert Gates and Secretary of Snide Hillary Clinton were not exactly in the loop:

At the end of March, US Military Intelligence was informed by US operatives working in the Af/Pak theater on behalf of the D.O.D. that Omar had been detained by Pakistani authorities. One would assume that this would be passed up the chain and that the Secretary of Defense would have been alerted immediately. From what I am hearing, that may not have been the case.

When this explosive information was quietly confirmed to United States Intelligence ten days ago by Pakistani authorities, it appeared to take the Defense Department by surprise. No one, though, is going to be more surprised than Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. It seems even with confirmation from the Pakistanis themselves, she was never brought up to speed.

Hm... perhaps "United States Intelligence" was concerned that if Hillary squealed to President Barack H. Obama, Attorney General Eric Holder would be dispatched on the first available suborbital rocket to Pakistan to read Mullah "Cyclops" Omar his Miranda rights.

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, May 10, 2010, at the time of 10:46 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

December 2, 2009


Afghan Astonishments
Hatched by Dafydd

Another ultra-short post, the purpose of which is clearly (and crassly) to make readers come back several times a day, checking to see if any new pearls have been cast before them...

(Wait -- I just thought that silently, right? I didn't really say it out loud, did I? Didn't think so. Whew!)

This from an unsigned editorial in today's Daily Telegraph (which newspaper actually leans to the right), anent the war in Afghanistan:

Eight years after the West went into Afghanistan, the country remains a quagmire.

Well... technically true, I suppose, in that we're not moving forward at the moment. But let's look at the big picture here: Isn't Afghanistan tremendously better off now from our perspective, and even from the Afghans' perspective (especially Afghan women), than it was in, say, mid-2001, just before the war began?

(Not to give the wrong impression, the Telegraph wasn't a fan of the speech or (it appears) the policy.)

So even if it is a "quagmire," the quicksand is a lot closer to shore, where we can see the beginnings of democracy, security, non-belligerence, and basic civilization. Afghanistan is much better off than before we invaded, it's like comparing eastern Germany before and after 1990.

I can live with that.

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, December 2, 2009, at the time of 7:20 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Gallup Sets Obamic Baseline on Afghanistan

Afghan Astonishments , Polling Keeps a-Rolling , Presidential Peculiarities and Pomposities
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Gallup just released the polling numbers on Barack "Lucky Lefty" Obama's Afghanistan policy; they polled from November 20th to 22nd, so this poll sets a perfect baseline for how the One's policy speech last night, and his new policy itself, affect his approval on this issue.

We'll check back in a week or so and see what Gallup indicates has happened to the Tally of O, at least anent Afghanistan.

I suspect that rather than helping the Commander in Chief, the new policy -- we send 30,000 more men, who will fully arrive in about six months; then come what may, we yank them out one year later, just as his reelection fight kicks off -- and especially his "explanation" of the policy last night, will actually hurt his job approval on Afghanistan... significantly.

As it happens, his Afghanistan policy approval has already plummeted from 56% in mid-July to a scary 35% now, dropping an average of 5.25% per month:

Obama Afghanistan Policy Approval

Barack Obama's Afghanistan policy approval

Even fellow Democrats barely approve:

Approval by Party

Approval by party

The same poll also asked about Obama's policies on six other issues: energy policy, terrorism policy, globaloney, economic policy, ObamaCare, and (heh) job creation. His approval ranges from a high of 49% for energy down to 40% for jobs.

I wonder how long this fellow can even sustain his current low overall job approval of 49%; sooner or later (probably sooner), his general approval will sink to match the low-average rating of his policy approvals.

We may very well charge into the November elections next year with President Obama languishing at 40% to 42% job approval. How might that affect the congressional elections?

Cross-posted on Hot Air's rogues' gallery...

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, December 2, 2009, at the time of 1:08 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

What the Right Hand Giveth...

Afghan Astonishments , Presidential Peculiarities and Pomposities
Hatched by Dafydd

...the left hand taketh away.

At first, I was going to keep a scorecard of the strategic questions the president needs to answer, so we will have some idea of what strategy President Barack "Lucky Lefty" Obama plans to implement.

But the speech turned out to be so lacking in essential detail that I can't answer any of 'em. This exercise in parroting the TOTUS seems vague but is in fact meaningless.

Then I thought maybe I could fisk it; but no, that's redundant. It fisks itself:

  • The fuzzy, foggy flood of flatulent fatuity;
  • The whiny blame-it-on-Bush segments;
  • The unfocused jumping from one topic to another -- from Afghanistan, to a brief revisionist history of the world since 2001, to the failed eight years of the previous administration, to Afghanistan (again), to the economy, to yawn-inducing self congratulation;
  • The rambling and blathering at the end, as he recounted his drive up the California coastline -- oh, wait, that was a different blather. This one was... I can't remember, something about Franklin Roosevelt and how good things really were in the 1930s;
  • The nervous, tepid, semi-applause (I presume the "Applesauce" light lit up), the thin, grim lips on the cadets' mouths, the cadets who looked as though they were drifting off to the Land of Nod.

I thought to note the terrible message this sends to our allies and enemas alike: That the danger posed by al-Qaeda and the Taliban is so great, it threatens the entire world... and that we intend to end that threat, once and for all -- all of a year and a half!

No, all our readers already know all that.

Then what about the Washington insiders enthusing about the wonderful "politics" of the speech, how the One successfully placated all the different sides that matter to him: The moderate Left, the Left, and the extreme Left:

I watched President Obama's speech at West Point and thought it was a pretty good political speech.

That's not entirely correct. I thought it was a very good political speech....

Remember, Obama has to protect himself from his own left. House Democrats have all but declared war on Obama's War [the Washington Post's phrase, not mine], Michael Moore took out a full page ad in advance of the speech to announce his opposition, and the and Pink Slip organizations are threatening to… be really, really, angry.

By contrast, I think this is the limpest speech I have ever seen or heard Obama deliver, for all the reasons quoted above. This isn't going to move the meter one angstrom, not on presidential job approval, Afghanistan-war conduct approval, nor even the president's gravitas and leadership -- at least not positively. I can easily see the speech so turning off the electorate that Obama manages to dig a sub-basement into the hole he has already dug.

So what the heck; consider this my contribution to the literature of oraculars from the Obamacle. I can't write any more; I'm already nodding off from ennui, just like those poor cadets.

Cross-posted on Hot Air's rogues' gallery...

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, December 2, 2009, at the time of 4:32 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

December 1, 2009

Obamic Afghanism

Afghan Astonishments , Presidential Peculiarities and Pomposities
Hatched by Dafydd

Big speech tonight, 5:00 PM PST; for all of youse who plan to listen (I probably will), it's urgent for you to pay less attention to the number of troops Barack H. Obama plans to send (30,000) -- and more to any hint he gives of the strategy he will order or allow Gen. Stanley McChrystal to follow.

Will he order the counterinsurgency (COIN) strategy McChrystal said was the only strategy that could achieve victory? Or will it be the failed "counterterrorism" strategy concocted by that respected military genius, Vice President "Slow" Joe Biden? Or something else entirely which we haven't seen yet?

It makes all the difference in the world:

  • Will our main focus be on protecting the civilian population of Afghanistan -- or on finding specific terrorists and killing them?
  • Will we commit to stay until Afghanistan is stable and in control -- or will we announce a public withdrawal date, signalling the Taliban and al-Qaeda that they need only hang on till then?
  • Will we be patrolling in company, fully integrated with Afghan forces -- or hiding in our Fortress of Solitude, only sallying forth to fight pitched battles with the Taliban?
  • Will we be taking territory from the Taliban/al-Qaeda and holding it -- or chasing the bad guys from place to place to place in a big circle, ending right where they began?
  • Will the rules of engagement (ROEs) allow us to attack the enemy whenever we see them, initiating campaigns and fighting them to conclusion -- or do we have to wait until we personally are attacked before we can shoot in self-defense?
  • Can we follow Taliban or al-Qaeda forces across the Pakistan border in hot pursuit -- or must we always stop at the border, like the sheriff in a bad Hollywood western when he comes to the Rio Grande?

In each instance above, COIN requires the first, but a "counterterrorism" strategy would probably favor the second.

So listen close; the number of men is important, but less important than what he plans to do with them. To paraphrase Abraham Lincoln, If President Obama isn't going to use his army, the American people would like to borrow it for a time.

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, December 1, 2009, at the time of 2:34 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

November 24, 2009

I Don't Care About an Afghanistan Troop "Surge"...

Afghan Astonishments
Hatched by Dafydd

It's worse than useless unless accompanied by a change in strategy from the Vietnam-era search and destroy, which seems to be our unstated current strategy -- or its close cousin, Slow Joe Biden's "counterterrorism" strategy -- to the one that Gen. Stanley McChrystal insists is the only strategy that can actually succeed: counterinsurgency (COIN).

As I said before.

Alas, I cannot tell from the news coverage whether the decision of Barack H. Obama is likely to include a COIN strategy; it's all vagueness, handwaving, and fog, like "a comprehensive strategy" and "an effort muscular enough to 'dismantle and degrade' the enemy and ensure that 'Al Qaeda and its extremist allies cannot operate' in the region"... meaningless phrases that every Commander in Chief says about every campaign strategy in every war.

As usual, the left-stream media focuses only on the number of troops -- and on how angry it will make liberals to add any new forces at all. For the One They Thought They Were Waiting For promised them a major American defeat, which they could blame on President Bush. He swore!

So evidently Obama is as sanguine about lying to the Left as he is about lying to the rest of America. I'm sure this will do wonders for his mob approval.

(Actually, that was a typo for job approval... but upon due consideration, I decided to keep it!)

In fact, the Times article devotes far more column inches to speculating how the One will choose to announce his decision than to, you know, exactly how we plan to win: Will it be a short address from the Oval Office, or a long, soporific speech in another venue? (I predict the latter; the voice of the TOTUS will be heard in our land.)

But the only strategic mention of any kind that I can find is what all news accounts agree upon: Barack Obama plans to focus very strongly on an exit strategy.

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, November 24, 2009, at the time of 3:17 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

November 12, 2009

"I Reject Your Reality..."

Afghan Astonishments , Iraq Matters , Military Machinations , Presidential Peculiarities and Pomposities
Hatched by Dafydd

"...And substitute my own!"

So reads a t-shirt often worn by Adam Savage, one of the two original starts of the Discovery Channel's series Mythbusters, which I have slavishly watched since the very first episode (I think that was the episode where they busted the myth of the rocket-propelled car launching into the air).

The tee commemorates a pithy summary Adam Savage delivered on the show, I can even remember whether he meant it optimistically or sarcastically: "I reject your reality and substitute my own!" I remember Adam saying that, but I can't recall now what precipitated the remark. But after today, I suggest he send his wonderful t-shirt to another fellow who now has a greater claim to it: President Barack H. Obama.

Take a look and tell me I'm exaggerating:

President Barack Obama rejected the Afghanistan war options before him and asked for revisions, his defense secretary said Thursday, after the U.S. ambassador in Kabul argued that a significant U.S. troop increase would only prop up a weak, corruption-tainted government.

"I'm not happy with the options reality has offered me; I demand you produce new fantasy options more to my liking!"

Let's take an Eikenberry detour. Yes indeed, he was once a military commander in Afghanistan; but he's not the commander now, and he hasn't been for well over two years -- during which time the situation has changed dramatically. Note that he also left before Gen. David Petraeus achieved such a thorough and remarkable victory in Iraq using a very similar strategy.

In 2007, as the Iraq COIN was picking up, Eikenberry was named Deputy Chairman of the NATO Military Committee, and NATO was not officially involved in the Iraq War (as they are in Afghanistan). Thus I see no evidence that Eikenberry has spent any significant time studying the Iraq COIN -- or even talking to David Petraeus, who, as Commander of CENTCOM, is now McChrystal's boss.

Nor was Ambassador Eikenberry a COIN specialist when he wore a uniform instead of a suit. So why should his advice trump McChrystal's in the Obamacle's mind? (Except for the obvious explanation: Because what Eikenberry says, by happenstance or design, precisely matches what Obama wants to hear.)

Eikenberry's argument for why we should abandon Afghanistan is not exactly subtle; I think it boils down to the peculiar idea that the purpose of a counterinsurgency (COIN) strategy is to "prop-up" the existing government, whatever it may be; therefore, since we don't like the fellow that Afghan voters elected, Hamid Karzai, we shouldn't prop it up by implementing a COIN strategy. Instead, we should focus on "training" the indiginous Afghan troops.

Most others experts on the subject I've read -- I'm certainly not an expert, so I must rely on others, such as Fred Kagen or David Petraeus -- seem to believe the purpose of COIN is to improve civilian security throughout the country, thus to enlist civilian support for the war effort against the insurgents and deny the latter the chaos and collapse they need to seize the government.

It needn't incorporate any support for the specific civilian government at all, just for the concept of democratic voting. All we need from Karzai is that he not interfere with Afghan troops' participation in COIN-related joint patrols and operations... which is, incidentally, exactly how we go about training the local forces, both military and tribal militia, in the first place. No joint ops -- no training.

Here is the Eikenberry thesis on display:

Obama's ambassador, Karl Eikenberry, who is also a former commander in Afghanistan, twice in the last week voiced strong dissent against sending large numbers of new forces, according to an administration official. That puts him at odds with the current war commander, Gen. Stanley McChrystal, who is seeking thousands more troops.

Eikenberry's misgivings, expressed in classified cables to Washington, highlight administration concerns that bolstering the American presence in Afghanistan could make the country more reliant on the U.S., not less. He expressed his objections just ahead of Obama's latest war meeting Wednesday.

But there is an even more disturbing possibility: If AP is accurately recounting Eikenberry's objections (and I don't know that to be the case), then he, too, believes that Gen. Stanley McChrystal's recommendations consist of nothing but "send 40,000 more troops" -- rather than "implement a COIN strategy, then decide how many troops we need." (McChrystal adds, "Psst... it turns out to be about 40,000 more than we have right now"). This would put the former commander of U.S. forces in Afghanistan in the same conceptual box as the elite news media.

It's hard to swallow the contention that a former lieutenant general (that's a 3-banger) in the United States Army would be blissfully unaware of what counterinsurgency strategy is, and how it differs from a counter-terrorism strategy... where we "fire a $2 million missile at a $10 empty tent and hit a camel in the butt". I hope that's not the problem. But if not, then what makes Eikenberry think he's more fit to opine on Afghanistan than the general that Barack Obama himself hand-picked to do just that? (And who is, as I understand it, an expert on COIN strategy.)

(There is a third, even more disturbing possibility: That Eikenberry knows very well that McChrystal is right, that a COIN strategy is the only one that leads to victory; but the ambassador believes that victory is the last thing Obama wants. In that case, Eikenberry may be quietly conspiring to lose the war, either to give Obama's leftist supporters the terrible American defeat they demand, or to deny President Bush the victory he earned. Or both. I certainly hope this is not what's going through Eikenberry's mind!)

But back to the One, who is ultimately calling the shots here. His philosophy of "I reject your reality and substitute my own" is, in fact, the standard modus vivendi of liberalism. As in:

  • "I reject the reality that one must work hard, or at least smart, to live well; I substitute the reality where I can sit around and smoke pot all day but still receive a national income (big enough to pay for my dope)."
  • "I reject the reality that says the best remedy for bad speech is more good speech; I substitute the reality where we can simply outlaw or ban bad speech, and then all that will be left is good speech."
  • "I reject the reality that increasing health-insurance demand (via mandate) while decreasing supply (by driving companies out of business) will result in much more expensive insurance; I substitute the reality where a complete government takeover will lower costs, improve care, and expand the pool of those covered."
  • "I reject the reality that we need cheap energy; I substitute the reality where we can tax the hell out of it, raise energy costs through the roof (as Obama himself gleefully predicted), declare more and more energy sources off-limits, and therefore make America stronger and more prosperous."
  • "I reject the reality that doubling taxation of the average Joe will leave him with less money to spend; I substitute the reality where doubling taxation results in an explosion of new economic growth, causing the economy to take off like a rocket."
  • "I reject the reality that Israel needs the ability to defend itself, or it will be destroyed; I substitute the reality where, if Israel will only give the Palestinians everything they want, while demanding nothing in return, the latter will be so grateful they will become fast friends with the Jewish state." (Alternatively: "I reject the reality that Jews should be allowed to have a state; I substitute the reality where Jews are so uniquely evil that they are the only "race" who should be barely-tolerated strangers wherever they live.")

To the liberal, reality is infinitely malleable: If you don't like it, just hold your breath, close your eyes, strain really hard, and intensely visualize the new reality. When you open your eyes and gasp in a lungful, the new reality will miraculously have been subbed in!

This seems to work in some environments but not others. It works great in Hollywood; and it works reasonably well in two-party politics -- averaging out to being successful about half the time. However, it doesn't seem to work much at all in warfare, where the default reality has a depressing way of contradicting the happy-facers, rudely and abruptly.

Alas, even that catastrophe could play into the hand of Barack Obama and his incompetocracy; after bargaining down the number of troops we need -- and implementing Slow Joe Biden's counter-terrorism strategy, rather than a COIN strategy -- we might be handed a signal, Vietnam-style defeat. Then B.O. could declare:

  1. "Clearly this means the war was unwinnable from the beginning, and my predecessor should never have invaded Afghanistan in the first place."
  2. "I gave the policy of the previous administration every opportunity; I even sent more troops -- not once, but twice! It's time to admit that the whole adventure was a terrible miscalculation, pull out, accept that defeat was inevitable, and MoveOn."
  3. "Now the whole country understands why I have embarked upon a new era of Strategic Reassurance, talking to our enemies without preconditions, instead of the "cowboy militarism" of the Republican Party.

    "We're going to redouble our efforts to talk Iran and North Korea into doing what's best for America, rather than what's best for themselves. I know we've tried it again and again, and it's never worked yet; but by the Law of Averages, that means we're due to hit the jackpot really soon now!"

In the long run, I don't think a strategy of denying reality is a military winner; and a long-run strategy of hoping for American defeat will not be a political winner in 2010 or 2012. But as John Maynard Keynes is reputed to have said, "In the long run, we're all dead."

Cross-posted on Hot Air's rogues' gallery...

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, November 12, 2009, at the time of 5:55 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

October 23, 2009

How George W. Bush "Neglected" Afghanistan

Afghan Astonishments
Hatched by Sachi

Responding to former Vice President Dick Cheney's charge that President Barack H. Obama is "dithering" over Afghanistan, White House Press Secretary Robert "Dilbert" Gibbs said something very peculiar. It was so astonishing (in a ignorant sort of way) that I almost forgot to feel offended.

Gibbs said Cheney was in no position to fault Obama, saying he had ignored a previous request for more troops, lodged with the Bush administration and only met by Obama in March, soon after he came to office.

"The vice president was for seven years not focused on Afghanistan. [Classy syntax, Dilbert! -- DaH] Even more curious given the fact that an increase in troops sat on desks in this White House, including the vice president's for more than eight months," Gibbs said.

"I think we've all seen what happens when somebody doesn't take that responsibility seriously."

"Not focused on Afghanistan" for seven years? Does Gibbs know how many battles we, American and NATO forces, fought and won against overwhelming numbers of Taliban and al-Qaeda forces? Can Gibbs name even a single operation during the seven years of engagement? I seem to recall many such battles. (The link is to all the Big Lizards posts on Afghanistan, going all the way back to May of 2006.)

Does Gibbs, the Mouth of Obama, remember this?

May 23, 2006: “Up to 80 Taliban Dead in U.S.- Led Strike.”

A U.S.-led nighttime airstrike against Taliban rebels in southern Afghanistan killed up to 80 suspected militants, the coalition said Monday. The local governor said 16 civilians were killed and 16 wounded....

In a statement, the coalition said it had confirmed 20 Taliban killed in the attack on the village in Kandahar province late Sunday and early Monday, while there were "an unconfirmed 60 additional Taliban casualties...."

"The Taliban has suffered extraordinary losses in the last three or four weeks -- several hundred Taliban killed in the field," [Lt. Gen. Karl W. Eikenberry] said. "We're the ones that are moving. They're the ones who are trying to hold."

Consider the fact that every major assault by the Taliban failed dramatically and was repulsed by American and NATO counterattack, resulting in more than 3000 Talibani killed in 2006-2007 alone. By the end of 2007, al-Qaeda forces were by and large kicked out Afghanistan to neighboring Pakistan.

Do President Obama and his henchmen know that Bush increased the number of troops in Afghanistan numerous times between 2001 and 2008? Here is Dafydd in April of 2008:

We currently have 31,000 troops in Afghanistan as our component of the NATO mission (the International Security Assistance Force, ISAF); we have already pledged an additional 3,000 Marines for fighting and training purposes (to improve the Afghan National Army). Our ISAF allies have collectively sent an additional 28,000 forces, some of whom fight, while others only participate in nation-building efforts, bringing the total current NATO commitment to 59,000 troops.

The former Chief of Naval Operations of the U.S. Navy, now Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Adm. Mike Mullen, wants this overall figure to increase by 7,500 soldiers and 3,000 military trainers; outgoing ISAF commander Gen. Dan McNeill wants to increase by two combat brigades (3,000-8,000 soldiers or Marines) and one training brigade (1,500-4000 soldiers or Marines)....

Marines don't use brigades as a normal organizational force; they prefer the regiment. Gen. McNeill is Army, much of our ISAF committment are Marines... so I'm not sure exactly how many troops he calls for. Let's just split the difference between small brigades and big: 5,500 incoming combat troops and 2,750 incoming trainers.

This would mean that we expect our ISAF partners -- all of whom have pledged more troops (France alone will up their committment by at least 700) -- to pony up an additional 3,500 combat troops and 1,750 trainers... unless the next president plans to increase our own committment by more than President Bush has proposed. As noted above, it's unlikely that we can get the full complement from our allies, whose military budgets are woefully small compared to ours (as ours is woefully small, as percent of GDP, compared even to the average of the last 45 years).

However we reach the goal, that would bring the NATO forces in Afghanistan to a total of more than 67,000 combined combat forces and training forces. That, by the way, is all the force that the top commander of ISAF says he needs; he has not called for additional tens of thousands of men.

So what about the Afghan National Army? We have been training them just as we have trained the Iraqi army. As of December 2007, the Afghan army comprised 57,000 soldiers, or about as large as the current ISAF force level. Presumably they are still recruiting, so we can expect tha tnumber to rise along with the NATO forces. But even as they are now, that makes a total integrated army of 116,000 today, rising to about 125,000 over the next year.

This is not an administration that was "not focused on Afghanistan;" rather it looks like an administration that was aggressively engaging facts on the ground, as they constantly shifted. President Bush and his military team were focused on Afghanistan back when all we knew about Barack Obama was that he was present.

I have a question for Mr. Gibbs: President Obama said several times that we should have been focusing on Afghanistan -- that was "the war we should have been fighting" (I suppose compared to Iraq, which was "the wrong war"). If the Obamacle was that interested in Afghanistan, then surely he must had studied the situation carefully all the years we were fighting there.

By the time he took office, the One must have had a firm idea what he wanted to do. So why does he seem so reluctant to try out his new strategy? Especially given that he has his own hand-picked general, Stanley McChrystal, calling the shots on the ground. McChrystal requests a more aggressive approach; isn't this the perfect opportunity to show the world how focused Obama is compare to Bush?

Yet he sits and sits, and dithers and frets. And he can't make up his mind.

Of course, the alternative is that Obama had no clue what was happening in Afghanistan before he became president; he got all his news -- and all his opinions and military strategies -- from the left-stream media; and it was they, not Bush, who failed to "focus" on the war in Afghanistan.

All, that is, except Fox News; and we all know how Obama feels about them.

Hatched by Sachi on this day, October 23, 2009, at the time of 6:25 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

October 17, 2009

General Jones Flipped Here

Afghan Astonishments , Iraq Matters , Israel Matters
Hatched by Dafydd

Consider this post an addendum to our last, Gen. Jones Scoffs at Afghanistan "Surge" - Just Like Failed Iraq "Surge!".

Scott Johnson at Power Line points us to a Michael Goldfarb post on the Weekly Standard blog revealing an astonishing decision by our ancient enemy, President Barack H. Obama's National Security Advisor, Gen. Jim Jones.

As a tiny handful of you may recall, towards the end of our previous post, we noted a disturbing tendency of the top brass in all branches of the military; this trend may become determinative in Jones' final decision whether to support or oppose the recommendation of Gen. Stanley McChrystal that we switch to a counterinsurgency (COIN) strategy in Afghanistan, which would require adding 40,000 troops. We wrote:

It's not clear whether Jones is himself an anti-war leftist, but it's not uncommon for top generals to drift left as they progress up the heirarchy. It often seems that the bigger the command, the more the commandant "grows in office;" cf. Eric Shinseki, Anthony Zinni, and of course the ultimate recent example, Colin Powell. It's not hard to explain; at the highest levels of command, a general or admiral is less like a military leader and more like a cabinet secretary. Those who head up gargantuan bureaucracies tend to believe in big-bureaucracy solutions to all problems... witness Powell insisting that we could not depose Saddam Hussein without a buildup of half a million troops.

Powell must have known that was impossible; thus, had his advice been accepted, we could not have invaded Iraq at all -- which would have suited Powell (and Shinseki and Zinni, and probably Jones) just fine.

Then we asked and partially answered the critical question:

Does that make such a general a leftist? In the limited sense of having a more Eurocentric (or even more European) viewpoint, yes it does. The reason that European armies typically refuse to fight is that they can't risk their soldiers' lives on anything smaller than the tank battles of the North-Africa campaign. This fits well with the so-called Powell Doctrine: Never send troops unless it's worth refighting World War II... which of course it never seems to be.

In addition to the other strands of evidence we presented, we now have a new piece of the puzzle, via the Weekly Standard blogpost linked above.

There exists a group that calls itself "J Street;" J Street claims to be pro-peace and pro-Israel but is easily demonstrated to be just the opposite: It's pro-Palestinian and very, very anti-Israel, to the point of being antisemitic, in my opinion -- notwithstanding the fact that most members are ethnically Jewish and many are religious Jews as well.

(How can that be? In my worldview, one kind of antisemitism is to insist that of all the peoples in the world, only the Jews have no right to a homeland and must remain nervous, barely tolerated guests in other people's countries. This definition holds no matter the cultural or religious affiliation of the bigot doing the insisting. There are self-hating Jews, just as there are self-hating blacks, gays, and conservatives.)

As Power Line reported, J Street is holding its first annual feast and gabfest soon, and a great many Democratic senators and representatives have signed aboard as "hosts." Alas, so did a couple of Republicans; but it was clear from the outset that many of these sponsors, even many of the Democrats, were fooled by the seemingly pro-Israel rhetoric of J Street: These hosts weren't Israel or Jew haters; they were just useful idiots.

In the last few days, as word hit the street about J Street, their "Gala Dinner" has been shedding sponsors like my old Alaskan Husky used to shed fleas. From the Weekly Standard blogpost:

The anti-Israel organization J Street has been hemorraghing sponsors for its conference as Senators and Congressmen learned of its true agenda. Just in the last few hours, Sen. Blanche Lincoln (D-AR) and Reps. Michael McCaul (R-TX) and Leonard Boswell (D-IA), have asked to have their names removed from the host committee. [Sen. Thad Cochran, R-MS, 68%, demanded yesterday that J Street withdraw his name as well. -- DaH]

And then comes the kicker, which is the point of this post that you are reading now...

So J Street has played its hole card: Obama national security advisor Jim Jones has accepted an invitation to participate.

And we now have not just a squabble over J Street. We now have a "teachable moment" about the Obama White House.

To tote up some of the positions of J Street, I must combine information dug up by Michael Goldfarb, Paul Mirengoff, and Scott Johnson:

  • Avrum Burg, former speaker of Israel's Knesset (parliament), is closely associated with J Street; he declared that "to define the State of Israel as a Jewish state is the key to its end," then went on to compare Israel to "pre-Nazi Germany."
  • Prominent J Street member Henry Siegman compared Israel to South Africa under apartheid; he also appears to support the Walt and Mearsheimer conspiracy theory about a "Jewish lobby" that controls the American government (search on Power Line for many posts about this offensive and antisemitic absurdity -- enthusiastically and monetarily endorsed by Israel's great friend, former President Jimmy Carter);
  • J Street receives much of its funding from Arab-American and Moslem-American organizations, as well as from Palestinian and Iranian lobbying groups;
  • J Street is "bitterly hostile to the democratically-elected government of Israel" (especially now, under Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu);
  • Another luminary invited to speak at the Gala Dinner is "poet" Josh Healey, who suggests that Israel is at least metaphorically "writing numbers on the wrists of babies born in the ghetto called Gaza," yet another equation of Israel to the Nazis; Healy extols a march he joined for "Palestinian solidarity."

With the notable exception of the Obamacle's high priest, Chief of Staff Rahm Israel Emanuel (yes that's his full name), the most consistently leftist members of Obama's cabinet and administration have adopted anti-Israelism as a core element of their leftist foreign policy: That is, they blame Israel, not Iran, for nearly all the violence in the Middle East and demand "concessions" that would, in fact, be an Israeli suicide pact.

Gen. Jones eagerness to participate in the Gala Dinner of such a group as J Street is a very strong indicator that, at least with regard to foreign policy, he is indeed a leftist, aligning himself much more with antisemites Samantha Power, Zbigniew Brzezinski, and Jimmy Carter than with Israel supporters like Sens. Joe Lieberman (I-CT, 85% liberal) or Charles "Chuck" Schumer (D-NY, 100%).

Is it too hard to believe that if Jones is in bed with Power -- policywise, I mean; get your rmind out of the gutter! -- on the demonization of Israel, that he's likely to agree with her position, and that of the others in Obama's leftist bloc (including the One Himself), on Afghanistan?

Asked and answered.

Cross-posted on Hot Air's rogues' gallery...

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, October 17, 2009, at the time of 2:57 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

October 16, 2009

Gen. Jones Scoffs at Afghanistan "Surge" - Just Like Failed Iraq "Surge!"

Afghan Astonishments , Iraq Matters
Hatched by Dafydd

I had forgotten this, but President Barack H. Obama's National Security Advisor, former Marine Corps Gen. Jim Jones, in Fall, 2007, called for an early abandonment of Gen. David Petraeus' counterinsurgency (COIN) strategy in Iraq -- just before it began to show significant progress that led, less than a year later, to a widely acknowledged victory:

In September 2007, Mr. Jones led a study that called for withdrawing forces, effectively ending President Bush's troop surge. "Significant reductions, consolidations, and realignments would appear to be possible and prudent," that report concluded.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, Democrat Nevada, cited the Jones report as evidence that the troop surge had failed.

"It is discouraging that the president stubbornly claims his failed policy is working even as this latest report describes many Iraqi security forces as focused more on fostering civil war than on suppressing it," he said.

Jones was doing the bidding of the anti-war Left then, and he appears to be doing the same now; in fact, like other lefties, he dismisses Gen. Stanley McChrystal's own COIN recommendation for Afghanistan as nothing more than a troop increase, as opposed to a complete change of strategy:

In an interview with The Washington Times, the former Marine general and NATO commander acknowledged his views on Afghanistan have soured in the three years since he left the military. He said security in Afghanistan had deteriorated "because of the [U.S.] failure to see the interaction of security, development, and governance and rule of law." [Darn that previous administration!]

"I think that is coming clear in spades now, that the failure -- the tendency to focus so much on troop strength and not enough on the other factors, the development of the national Afghan police, for example which was on life support for so many years, the development of the Afghan National Army, which has never really gone fast enough - those are things that as we developed a strategy that was released in March were clearly highlighted. And now everybody is turning full-scale attention to them," Mr. Jones said....

Mr. Jones told CNN on Sunday, "I think the end is much more complex than just about adding 'X' number of troops. Afghanistan is a country that's quite large and that swallows up a lot of people."

Despite his earlier study group's warning that the war effort was in danger of faltering, he said on CNN, " I don't foresee the return of the Taliban and I want to be very clear that Afghanistan is not in imminent danger of falling."

In 2006-7, the cry from the Left was that Iraq was unwinnable. It was the wrong war anyway; we should just declare defeat and yank out the troops, let Iraq go to hell in a handmaiden, and shift all those troops to Afghanistan -- the war we should be fighting! As many have noted, to a liberal, whichever war we're currently fighting is the wrong war; the only good war is the one we're not fighting yet, or which ranks lower on the threat table.

Jones led a war-study group then that concluded the Afghanistan war (the one we should be fighting) was in danger of "faltering" and required many more troops; he opined that the Iraq "surge" had clearly failed, and we should pull troops out of Iraq and send them to Afghanistan... just what then Sen. Obama was saying, among many other liberal Democrats.

But now the Left (except for Cindy Sheehan) has largely abandoned opposition to the Iraq war -- since we inconveniently won it -- and instead focused its ire on Afghanistan... which has become the new "wrong war;" we should be focusing on Pakistan! Behold, Gen. Jones turns on a dime and clearly signals that we thinks we should not "surge" 40,000 troops, we should not switch to the previously successful COIN strategy, and we should not accept Gen. McChrystal's recommendation.

Gone is "the interaction of security, development, and governance and rule of law;" it's time to abandon the failed Afghanistan war and MoveOn.

Do we detect a pattern here?

It's not clear whether Jones is himself an anti-war leftist, but it's not uncommon for top generals to drift left as they progress up the heirarchy. It often seems that the bigger the command, the more the commandant "grows in office;" cf. Eric Shinseki, Anthony Zinni, and of course the ultimate recent example, Colin Powell. It's not hard to explain; at the highest levels of command, a general or admiral is less like a military leader and more like a cabinet secretary. Those who head up gargantuan bureaucracies tend to believe in big-bureaucracy solutions to all problems... witness Powell insisting that we could not depose Saddam Hussein without a buildup of half a million troops.

Powell must have known that was impossible; thus, had his advice been accepted, we could not have invaded Iraq at all -- which would have suited Powell (and Shinseki and Zinni, and probably Jones) just fine.

Does that make such a general a leftist? In the limited sense of having a more Eurocentric (or even more European) viewpoint, yes it does. The reason that European armies typically refuse to fight is that they can't risk their soldiers' lives on anything smaller than the tank battles of the North-Africa campaign. This fits well with the so-called Powell Doctrine: Never send troops unless it's worth refighting World War II... which of course it never seems to be.

Too, James Jones became quite chummy with two senators in 2007: Hillary Clinton and Lindsey Graham (R-SC, 82%). Both follow the liberal line on war; Graham, for example, is further to the left on questions of terrorism intelligence than Sen. John McCain (R-AZ, 63%) (Graham's higher ACU rating comes from policies unrelated to the war against the Iran/al-Qaeda axis). And of course, he twice refused Condoleezza Rice's offer to become Deputy Secretary of State in the Bush administration but appears to have jumped at the chance to be National Security Advisor in the Obama Administration. Perhaps he just found being NSA more attractive than being a deputy secretary... but it's hard not to conclude he found the current administration more congenial politically, as well.

I believe that the One chose Jim Jones as National Security Advisor precisely because of his willingness to accomodate the anti-war Left's party line, no matter how many knots he must tie himself into; and if Jones wants to keep his job, he knows his duty: Rather than advise the president, he must echo whatever flippant argument Obama invokes against the war we're actually fighting, preferring some hypothetical martial struggle somewhere else, at some future time (and preferably on some other president's watch).

I believe Gen. Jones has already decided to keep his job.

Cross-posted to Hot Air's rogues' gallery...

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, October 16, 2009, at the time of 6:42 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

October 8, 2009


Afghan Astonishments , Liberal Lunacy , Obama Nation , Opinions: Nasty, Brutish, and Shortsighted
Hatched by Dafydd

Why, oh why is President Barack H. Obama taking so blasted long deciding what to do about Gen. Stanley McChrystal's strategy and troop request in Afghanistan?

The Commander in Chief let it languish at the Pentagon for a month before even requesting it. Obviously, he already knew what was in it; the Pentagon leaked it, and its major components were widely reported: Switch to a counterinsurgency strategy and send more troops, structurally very like the strategy Gen. David Petraeus used so successfully in Iraq.

But the Obamacle sat and sat, squirmed and squirmed, unable to decide what to do about it (which is why he didn't request it be sent over to la Casa Blanca, because that formally "starts the clock"). Why? Why does he fiddle while Afghanistan burns? Our Marines and soldiers are dying.

The first is that Obama is congenitally incapable of making up his mind, of course. He has always been far more comfortable issuing lofty and vague encyclicals, then voting "present."

But he seems more torn that usual this time... and I believe there is a deeper reason why this particular decision is such an Obamic dilemma. This is the biggest, most consequential military decision he has ever had to make in his life... and it is the first entirely lose-lose choice of his immature administration.

Other crossroads have always offered Obama at least one option that was a win. What makes this one lose-lose?

The One likes to claim there is a "third way" between accepting the recommendation and rejecting it. He thinks he can get away with "counterinsurgency lite," which it pleases him to call a "counter-terrorist" strategy, whatever that means.

But in the end, no matter what alternative he picks, it will be seen by everyone as rejecting Stanley McChrystal's strategy... which is odd, because McChrystal is Obama's hand-picked choice to head up the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) and U.S. Forces Afghanistan (USFOR-A) commands -- after he fired the previous commander, Gen. David D. McKiernan. And McChrystal's report was the first and most urgent task Barack Obama was ordered to perform. Rejecting it would make Obama himself look weak... either he can't pick a good general, or else he's afraid of the course his general charted.

No matter, Obama has only two choices: accept McChrystal's request or reject it.

If he rejects the proposal, then Barack Obama owns Afghanistan: If it goes south on us -- which it likely will; it's hard to believe that even President B.O. thinks Joe Biden is a better military strategist than a four-star general who has actually fought -- if we end up retreating, if the Taliban makes great gains there and in Pakistan, if al-Qaeda returns to the Taliban-held territory... then everybody in the country blames Obama for losing the war.

We're not likely to reelect a president who inflicted another unnecessary defeat on us, especially in a war so closely tied to the 9/11 attacks -- "the war we should be fighting," as everyone on the left said, including Obama himself as recently as August. Americans have experienced insufficient pain to be eager to accept defeat as the only way out, as we became anent Vietnam.

He's already struggling because of his radical domestic agenda, which the American people have decisively rejected: government-controlled health care, massive bailouts, nationalizing banks and now even the automobile industry, and staggering tax increases coupled with an orgy of new spending. If we add "lost the war against al-Qaeda and screwed up the national security of the United States for decades to come" to the list of obstacles he must surmount to continue working at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave., I think even the narcissism of the Obamas (B and M) would quail.

So the obvious choice is to accept McChrystal's recommendation. Ah, but this is the other horn of the dilemma... because he promised his radical-left base an American military defeat; and they may fully and finally reject his presidency (and himself) if he betrays that promise.

The defeat was supposed to be in Iraq, of course; that was the unpopular war in 2008, while Afghanistan was the forgotten war. There was enough pain associated with Iraq (our threshhold of pain has dropped markedly in recent decades) that inflicting a military defeat upon us in Iraq would probably have been acceptable to the American people, if --

  • If the war in Iraq were going as badly in 2009 as it was in 2006-7, when he made the promise...
  • If the economy had come roaring back shortly after Obama was elected, so he could claim credit (even if he had nothing to do with it)...
  • If his radical agenda had proved as popular as he convinced himself before the election that it would be.

But by the time Obama took command, the war had been won -- and won so obviously that to turn it around then would have been too, too obviously anti-American. It's not like in 1974; back then nearly everybody got his national news from one of three television networks or one of a small number of print sources, all linked together by a couple-three wire services. The political establishment could actually manage the news, feeding the American people what the powers that be thought they needed to know.

Too, the heavily Democratic Congress could blame the hated Republican president. Richard Nixon was already embattled, widely (and probably wrongfully) seen as corrupt, an easy target. His paranoia had all come true, and he barely even fought back. The 1972 reelection was his last hurrah; it was all downhill after that. With his resignation, to be replaced by his anti-war Vice President, Gerald Ford, there was nothing standing in the way of blaming Nixon for "losing the Vietnam war."

None of that obtains today. The news comes from too many sources now and cannot be managed by a small cabal of center-left establishment kingmakers. The turn-around in Iraq was too widely covered to be covered-up. Gen. Petraeus is far too articulate and beloved to be spat upon by snatching Obamic defeat from the jaws of Petraeus' victory.

Ergo, President Obama was forced to bless the Bush-Petraeus strategy; he was overtaken by events. But the Left exploded in rage anyway, unwilling to give him running slack; Cindy Sheehan is busily getting herself arrested outside the White House, a certain barometer of leftist Obamania dropping to a very stormy low.

Barack Obama promised the Left a defeat in Iraq if it supported him. When Obama defaulted, lefties came bawling at the White House gates, promissory notes in hand, demanding immediate payment.

The Left has always hated America more than any other country, for the obvious reason: We're the world's greatest bulwark of liberty, individualism, and Capitalism against international socialism. The revolution would eventually have to go through us before it could gain world domination; so leftists decided long ago that one of their strategies had to be to inflict military defeat on the United States whenever and wherever they could.

The Left needs us to be decisively and thoroughly bested by Jihadist terror organizations; it's desperate for America to be crushed under the sandals of al-Qaeda, Iran, or the Taliban; and it wants the whole world to see it!

Then the Left can crow that America's century has ended. It can encourage the spread of anti-Americanism, defeatism, despair, and fear -- especially fear, their favorite tool for mass manipulation. It can begin to advance a "national front," an alternative governing paradigm that can gain mass acceptance in this country, eventually allowing the Left to overthrow the American system and install internationalist socialism in its place. More than anyone else, the Left understands that to create a new governing paradigm, you first must utterly discredit the current one.

And historically, the best way to do that is to take advantage of a humiliating military defeat: in Vietnam/Indochina after the French occupation; in China right after World War II; in Germany after World War I; and of course in Russia itself during World War I.

Don't panic. I don't for one moment imagine it can actually pull off such an agenda. I argue only that it has exactly that agenda, and that it will pursue it with courage and vigor -- forever. We -- must -- lose one of our wars.

So what's left for us to lose? What other "funds of defeat" does Obama have to make good that promissory note to his natural base, the hard Left? He certainly can't start his own war for the sole purpose of losing it!

The only actual war left over from the "previous regime" is Afghanistan. If Obama accepts the recommendation of Gen. McChrystal, and if Afghanistan turns around as Iraq did, and we're seen to have won the war... then Obama may get a boost from the victory from real Americans; but that would probably come too late, after the 2010 congressional elections. It takes time to recreate a strategy: First one must design it, then select the leaders, transport the troops, order them, reorganize the supply lines, implement the new strategy -- and then you must execute it for many months before you see the fruits of your labor. I predict it would be eighteen months or more from making the decision to seeing undeniable signs of victory.

But the tangible hit from the Left would be immediate and catastrophic. When the mid-term elections roll around, the Left -- the most powerful engine of the Democratic Party -- will idle defiantly, driven by anger to punish the president who first trod upon one foot then stomped even harder on the other. 2010 will go from very bad for the Democrats to a tidal wave that could even wash them from power; it has happened before, and not just in 1994.

So the president is in a quandry, better yet, a quagmire of his own making. He himself created this Slough of Despond by agreeing to this deal with the Devil in the first place: Elect me and I promise you an American military defeat! Now he balances precariously on the bull's horns; and no matter which way Obama turns, he's likely to topple the moment the bull begins to run, and he may even be gored or trodden underhoof.

And that, I believe, is why the One We Have Been Waiting, Waiting, and Waiting For is in such a lather about what to do, and why he lashes out, furious but impotent, at his own general, who put him in such a pickle. My heart bleeds for Barack Obama, abandoned child of the Left.

The president must decide between betraying the American people but satisfying the Left, or the other way 'round. In the final cut, I cannot believe that he could ever cut loose from the ideology that has suckled and comforted him since childhood; I think he will land on the side of paying off that massive political debt: He will reject the recommendation and just hope to high heaven that Afghanistan just magically turns around on its own.

Or that unemployment miraculously drops to 4%, the economy roars back, and Obama gets to press the reset button on reaction to his entire domestic agenda. Then he can pray that the American voter has the memory of a mayfly, and the Democratic Party retains a strong majority in the House and a filibuster-proof majority in the Senate... because Barack Obama is incapable of doing what Bill Clinton did after 1994; it takes brains and courage to "triangulate," and I sincerely doubt the current fellow has either.

But such a fortuitous (to B.O.) sequence of events seems delusional to me.

Cross-posted on Hot Air's rogues' gallery...

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, October 8, 2009, at the time of 4:13 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

October 5, 2009

Baron Barone Gives the King His Drubbing

Afghan Astonishments , Obama Nation
Hatched by Dafydd

Michael Barone has just given President Barack H. Obama the thumping of his administration so far -- in his own low-key, quiet, but factually stubborn way. The charge is fecklessness, and the substance of the charge is the president's sudden lack of interest in pursuing what he himself dubbed "a war of necessity" that was "fundamental to the defense of our people" just a month and a half ago:

"This is not a war of choice," Barack Obama told the Veterans of Foreign Wars on Aug. 17. "This is a war of necessity. Those who attacked America on 9-11 are plotting to do so again. If left unchecked, the Taliban insurgency will mean an even larger safe haven from which al-Qaida would plot to kill more Americans. So this is not only a war worth fighting. This is fundamental to the defense of our people."

But that was nearly seven weeks ago. Now, it appears that Obama is about to ignore the advice of Army Gen. Stanley McChrystal, whom he installed as commander in Afghanistan in May, after relieving his predecessor ahead of schedule. McChrystal, who came up as a Special Forces officer, is an expert in counterinsurgency. Not surprisingly, in his Aug. 30 report to Defense Secretary Robert Gates, he recommended a course that seems certain to require a substantial number of additional troops.

Barone notes how little time Obama spent meeting with his military and security advisors anent the Afghanistan war; he only met once in September, the very time that Gen. Stanley McChrystal was compiling the final version of his report and sending it to the Commander in Chief.

When it landed on the Oval Office desk, Obama held a major, three-hour White House meeting with his senior advisors, including Slow Joe Biden. The president chose to hold the meeting when Gen. McChrystal was scheduled to be out of the country; and of course, McChrystal was not invited to confuse matters by participating in the discussion in person, where he could make sure he was heard, but only by easily ignored "videolink." (I wonder how many times senior White House officials hit the Mute button?)

Later, these wise old men (and, one presumes, two wise old woman: nagging Secretary of State Hillary "Can We Tawk?" Clinton and shrill Secretary of Homeland Security "Dammit" Janet Napolitano) concluded that McChrystals assumptions were just next door to being "myths," which the Obamic advisors "exposed to the light of day"... including the myth that "the return to power of the Taliban would automatically mean a new sanctuary for al-Qaida," as the Washington Post put it.

That WaPo article gives us a stunning insight into BarackThink:

Senior White House officials asked some of the sharpest questions, according to participants and others who have been briefed on the meeting, while the uniformed military, including Gen. David H. Petraeus, head of U.S. Central Command, did not take issue with McChrystal's assessment.

According to White House officials involved in the meeting, Vice President Biden offered some of the more pointed challenges to McChrystal, who attended the session by video link from Kabul. One official said Biden played the role of "skeptic in chief," while other top officials, including Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, were muted in their comments.

Notice what's missing? Where is a single White-House staffer who supports McChrystal's recommendations -- as evidently Gen. Petraeus and other "uniformed military" do -- and is willing to argue for them?

We appear to have an appeasement of White House officials -- La-Z-Boy leaders who are highly skeptical, led by Joe "Skeptic in Chief" Biden (with his vast military experience) -- arrayed against a gaggle of apathetic, close-mouthed chair-warmers with window seats, led by Hillary Rodham Clinton Rodham. But nobody to speak for the Afghanistan campaign except some guy on closed-circuit TV who can't even get a table at the Willard Room without a closely reasoned debate with the maître d'.

Who are you going to believe anyway? Vice President of the Whole United States Joe "Divide We Stand" Biden, who was so prescient on the futility and failure of the counterinsurgency "surge" strategy of the previous regime? Or Stanley McChyrstal, David Petraeus, and your own lyin' eyes?

At the end of the WaPo article, several administration officials -- speaking anonymously -- blamed everything on George W. Bush. I actually found this very surprising; after all, they're usually so quick to claim credit by name while they blame everything on Bush.

Let's give the last word to Michael Barone:

It's not clear yet that the "senior advisers" who were mocking McChrystal's assumptions will prevail. In his 25 minutes on Air Force One, McChrystal may have used his knowledge and experience to convince Obama that his judgment was better than that of the armchair generals that the president had listened to for three hours the day before. Maybe Obama will choose to wage his "war of necessity" in the way the general he selected believes is necessary for us to succeed.

But I wouldn't bet heavily on it -- not any more, in fact, than I would have bet on Chicago's chances of hosting the 2016 Olympic games.

To liberals, and especially to this president, reality is infintely malleable if you but close your eyes and wish really hard. I think Barack Obama truly believes that you don't have to "navigate from where you are," as McChrystal said; you can simply start from "where you wish to be" instead. All you must do is forcefully declare that that's where you're starting from, and the world will rearrange itself to make it so.

Obama is going to reject Gen. McChrystal's report -- though likely he'll announce that he's accepting it, while he issues orders that unambiguously countermand its every particular. Thus will he have the best of both cakes... until the power falls upon us like an avalanche.

Close-roasted on Hot Air's rogues' gallery...

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, October 5, 2009, at the time of 2:59 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

September 30, 2009

Withdrawing from Afghanistan, Plus Future Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel. Pinch Me, I'm Dreaming

Afghan Astonishments , Iran Matters , Iraq Matters , Military Machinations , Obama Nation , Pakistan Perplexities , Terrorism Intelligence , Terrorist Attacks , War Against Radical Islamism
Hatched by Dafydd

I just heard Bill Kristol on the Hugh Hewitt show dropping a couple of political bombshells:

  1. First, Kristol now believes for the first time that President Barack H. Obama is paving the groundwork for rejecting Gen. Stanley McChrystal's recommendation of a COIN strategy for Afghanistan, including increasing troop levels.

Note that it was the Obamacle Himself who appointed McChrystal to head up his present commands, International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) and U.S. Forces Afghanistan (USFOR-A), just three months ago; and he it was who ordered McChrystal to undertake a complete review of the Afghanistan policy.

I suspect Obama expected McChrystal to recommend declaring defeat and pulling out. But in response to Obama's order, McChrystal released a 66-page report to continuing Secretary of Defense Robert Gates that called for significantly increasing troop levels there and redeploying the force in a counterinsurgency mode, similar to Iraq.

Ever since, as several bloggers have argued (notably John Hinderaker at Power Line), Obama has acted like a man who deeply regrets having picked an actual fighting general in the first place -- and who wants to prepare the American people for the complete rejection of his own appointee's report, in favor of a phased withdrawal from "the war we should be fighting," as some guy named Barack Obama called it during the campaign (in contrast to Iraq, the war we were supposed to lose, one presumes).

  1. Second, and far more shocking, is some political intel that Kristol received from a person who is in "cose contact" with top Defense officials: That holdover George W. Bush Defense Secretary Bob Gates will be asked by Obama to step down at the end of the year... and that Obama plans to name former senator Chuck Hagel, who never met a war he didn't want us to withdraw from, as his new Secretary of Retreat and Defeat.

Hagel was an infantry grunt in Vietnam for two years, leaving shortly after the Tet Offensive; that experience seems to have colored his attitude towards all subsequent conflicts: He sometimes votes for them (as for example the Iraq war); but as soon as the going gets tough, Hagel demands an immediate and aggressive surrender.

  • He was one of only four Republicans in July 2007 who voted in favor of cloture on a bill to force withdrawal from Iraq starting 120 days from that vote; the other three were Olympia Snowe (ME, 12%), Susan Collins (ME, 20%), and Gordon Smith of Oregon, liberals all.
  • In railing against the Iraq COIN strategy of Gen. David Petraeus, Hagel called it "the most dangerous foreign policy blunder in this country since Vietnam, if it's carried out." (I don't recall Hagel ever issuing an apology, or even a statement, after the Petraeus strategy proved decisive in our victory in Iraq.)
  • Speaking about Israeli's incursion into Lebanon to stop Hezbollah's rocket attacks on their northern cities, Hagel blurted out:

    "The sickening slaughter on both sides must end and it must end now.... President Bush must call for an immediate cease-fire. This madness must stop."...

    "How do we realistically believe that a continuation of the systematic destruction of an American friend -- the country and people of Lebanon -- is going to enhance America's image and give us the trust and credibility to lead a lasting and sustained peace effort in the Middle East?" asked Hagel, the No. 2 Republican on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

Yes, the perfect man to defend America -- Barack Obama style. I can just picture the furious and manly letters of strong disapproval Hagel will shoot off whenever some dictator funds and gives safe haven to a terrorist group while they blow up another American embassy.

Currently, Chuck Hagel is Chairman of the Board of the Atlantic Council, a foreign-policy think tank cum policy advocacy group that appears to lean heavily towards diplomacy above everything -- talking loudly and forgetting to bring any stick at all, big or small. (E.g., its International Advisory Board is headed by Brent Scowcroft and includes Zbigniew Brzezinski, Richard Edelman, Lawrence H. Summers, and a huge inflation of bankers and CEOs of vast multinational corporations.)

Hagel replaced outgoing Chairman Jim Jones, who was tapped to serve as Obama's National Security Advisor; Jones was last seen offering what we called "the weirdest explanation to date for cancelling the long-range ballistic-missile defense system in Eastern Europe -- while simultaneously betraying our allies, Poland and the Czech Republic."

Since the Jim Jones appointment as security sock puppet worked out so well for Obama, it certainly seems plausible that he would go back to the same well to draw out a bucketful of Defense Secretary. Admittedly, Kristol just lost his father, Irving Kristol; but it was hardly the sort of shocking or unanticipated demise that might throw William Kristol into a blue funk and darken his normal optimism.

The threatened appointment of Chuck Hagel as Secretary of Defense would be catastrophic for the war efforts, all of them: Iraq, Afghanistan, the war against the Iran/al-Qaeda axis, intelligence gathering, interrogations, dealing with Pakistan, North Korea, China, Russia... and of course, Hagel would be a disaster for Israel, as he would almost certainly back Obama to the hilt in the latter's quest to force Israel back to the indefensible borders of the pre-Six Day War era. (In exchange for the Palestinian's promise that they might seriously consider deciding whether or not to recognize Israel sometime in the distant and not very likely future.)

Appointing Hagel would seriously diminish our ability to protect our allies or even defend ourselves, and in general would signal the end of American power and leadership in the world, at least for a while (say until 2013). Therefore, I conclude that Obama is already plotting to make the appointment.

I must also conclude that the Senate will swiftly approve the nominee; Hagel was once one of them... therefore, "comity of the Senate" and all that, Republicans will probably support him, though he rarely supported them while in that august body.

And there you have it, your recommended minimum daily allowance of political pessimism and national-defense despair.

Cross-posted (of course) to Hot Air's rogues' gallery...

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, September 30, 2009, at the time of 5:39 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

September 2, 2009

Where There's a Will, There's a Whine - UPDATED

Afghan Astonishments
Hatched by Dafydd

I rarely fisk anything; too often, it's like shooting drunks in a barrel. But I simply couldn't resist this David Harsanyi column... it's such a target-rich environment.

I looked him up in Wikipedia and discovered he's a movement libertarian and an atheist; dang, you could have knocked me over with a wrecking ball: There is a certain je ne sais quoi about many contemporary libertarians and the "arguments" they propound. Oh, wait, I do know "what": smirkiness; that and a fantasy vision of the world that is naive to the point of delusional.

In the good old days of Ludwig van Mises and Fredrich van Hayek, Albert J. Nock and Milton and Rose Friedman, you could get some deep economic and philosophical ideation; some of the libertarian elders (defined as "making libertarian arguments in print before I knew what the word means") can still string thoughts and facts and rules of inference together for something that is truly worth pondering: I find examples in Thomas Sowell, Walter Williams, William F. Buckley, jr. (well, when he was still sucking air), and even my erstwhile partner in crime (and especially punishment), Bradford S. Linaweaver. I even used to call myself a libertarian; my principles haven't changed, but the big-L backdrop has been repainted in Day-Glo pink, so I'm often too embarassed to admit my perverse predelictions anymore.

If you ask why I'm so down on the typical yute who thrusts out a beligerant lower lip and truculently declares himself a libertarian (he just discovered L. Neil Smith's books in the dorm library, thinks Bill Maher is a libertarian, and is still shaky about the precise difference between libertarian and libertine)... well, this post should loudly defend me.

In the instant case, Mr. Harsanyi joins the long line of people (two, counting Harsanyi) rushing to the aide of George Will's suggestion that we simply declare defeat in Afghanistan and pull out, leaving the country to the Taliban; and incidently handing the greatest terrorism victory ever to al-Qaeda -- by default. We join our broadside already in progress:

Tossing around the words "retreat" and "defeat"... is the rhetorical equivalent of the vacuous "chicken hawk" charge leveled at any civilian who supports military action. It's emotive and hyperbolic, and I probably have used it myself, but it's not an effective argument.

Oh, good. Let's all play Spot the Effective Argument in the Harsanyi harangue.

Judging from their harsh reaction to Will, it's not clear when, if ever, some conservatives believe the U.S. should withdraw from Afghanistan.

Now there's an original idea: Let's set a "date certain" for withdrawal from Afghanistan! (Why do I feel a sudden rush of déjà vu?)

As I patiently explained to the lefties who demanded to know exactly when we would just up stakes and pull out of Iraq, you cannot set a specific departure date and expect victory -- because the bad guys will just wait you out. What we need instead is an intelligent set of victory conditions, after which we phase out out engagement.

Even less clear is how the victory narrative is supposed to play out. Does this triumphant day arrive when every Islamic radical in the region has met his virgins? If so, after eight years of American lives lost, the goal seems farther away than ever.

I said an intelligent set of victory conditions, not a snide and risible straw man.

Or is victory achieved when we finally usher this primitive tribal culture, with its violent warlords and religious extremism, from the eighth century all the way to modernity?


If the goal is to establish a stable government to fill the vacuum created by our ousting of the Taliban and al-Qaida, we've done quite a job. Most Americans can accept a Marine's risking life and limb to safeguard our freedoms. But when that Marine is protector of a corrupt and depraved foreign parliament -- one that recently legalized marital rape and demands women ask permission from male relatives to leave their homes -- it is not a victory worth celebrating.

Sorry, Mac; three snides and yer out.

Why don't we see if we can construct a somewhat less hysterical (and more honest and heartfelt) set of victory conditions? How about a government that:

  • Does not support jihadist attacks against the United States or our allies;
  • Is strong enough to prevent its territory from being used to plot and train for such attacks;
  • Is honest and democratic enough that it's not in imminent danger of collapse;
  • And is not so depraved that we find ourselves supporting "honor" killers and marital rapers.

You know, kind of like we achieved in the Philippines in the early twentieth century against the Moros. And like we had achieved in Iraq by the end of the Bush administration, but might be poised to give back to the terrorists now under President Barack H. Obama.

These victory conditions are just a skosh more realistic and achievable than Harsanyi's accumulation of straw men -- so thick on the floor that I worry the fire marshal might show up. Why don't we run with them?

You know, idealism regarding Afghanistan's future begins to dissipate the first time we read the words "why don't we negotiate with the moderate Taliban?"

Funny, I've only read that in two places: (a) on lefty blogs, and (b) in this very Harsanyi column.

But while strict Shariah law is acceptable, illicit drugs are not. If most of us agree that America has no business foisting its notions of wrong and right on other cultures, why, then, did we spend hundreds of millions of dollars eradicating poppy crops (one of the only productive crops of the Afghan farmers)? Was it because our own war on drugs has gone so splendidly?
  1. Sharia law is not acceptable.

Nobody today holds up the Karzai government as an example of the kind of government that makes us feel secure about leaving. Or hadn't you noticed people like Gen. Stanley McChrystal arguing that Afghanistan is not yet transformed sufficiently that we can just leave?

  1. Most of us don't agree that "America has no business foisting its notions of wrong and right on other cultures."

Most of us don't even believe in absolute cultural relativism, and neither did Mises or Hayek; they had this cockamamie notion that a culture of liberty, Capitalism, and the rule of law was objectively better than a culture of oppression, slavery, socialism, and rule by whim.

That's why we were meddling in Hitler's dreams of a "tausendjähriges Reich" even before Hitler declared war on us (and why he did); that's why we fought the Evil Empire and broke its back; that's why we support democracy movements all around the globe -- which, one must conclude, Harsanyi thinks is arrogant and bullying... just as contemporary liberals think. (Does anyone detect a pattern here?)

Again, scratch a young, contemporary, metrosexual, atheist libertarian -- find a... a what?

  1. Finally, the reason we're trying to eradicate the poppy crop to defund the Taliban, not that we're torqued that Afghans are getting stoned.

Or didn't Harsanyi know that the Taliban forces Aghan farmers to grow opium poppies, seizes the crop (paying the farmer next to nothing), and sells the opium and heroin to finance bloody Islamic revolution and terrorism around the world? There was a time when libertarians at least rejected the use of naked force to seize money and power; but the lib times, they are a-changin'.

It is perplexing that advocates of a long-term engagement in Afghanistan -- folks who often reject social engineering as a tool of public policy -- accept the idea that a nation with scores of ethnic groups, widespread corruption, no industry and no bonding of language or nationality can be coaxed into constructing a stable and lasting democratic society.

Yes... like Turkey. Or India. Or the United States, for that matter. Now me, I find it perplexing that a libertarian would consider some people genetically incapable of building a reasonably stable, reasonably honest, and reasonably decent society. But perhaps I'm being un-Reason-able.

I also find it sad when libertarians consider an engagement of, say, five or six more years to be "long term." Helping the Filippinos suppress the Moslem terrorists took about a dozen years, and I consider even that to be short term. Long term is more like the British Raj, which lasted 89 years; or the Ottoman Empire, which limped along for more than six centuries, from about 1300 to its death and dismemberment in 1918. Backed the wrong horse in the Great War.

And if you once supported Operation Enduring Freedom, you apparently have cast your lot with Kabul forever.

Nothing lasts forever but the earth and sky. But we do expect an attention span a whit longer than that of the caffeinated squirrel in Over the Hedge (the movie).

...Cast your lot with Kabul forever. Which makes sense, because it's going to take that long for American troops to find a puppet Islamic state that pretends to value any enduring freedoms.

We're not looking for "enduring freedoms," the futile quest for which seems to be the theme of the day with liberal anti-war activists -- and David Harsanyi. We only need stable and not externally aggressive... and there are a number of examples of that even among Islamic countries.

We'll try reforming the Karzai government. If that doesn't work, we'll try shaking it until a better steward falls out. If that doesn't work, maybe we need to restructure the country for them -- at least enough to crush the corrupters and awaken the latent desire in all tribes and cultures not to have to live like Klingons in the original (Kirk/Spock) Star Trek.

But if every military engagement includes an open-ended plan for nation building that pins our fortunes on the predilections of a backward nation, we are, indeed, setting ourselves up for failure.

Some "lightswitchers" live permanently on the extremes: Everything is either all one way or all the opposite way. If we have nation-building, it must necessarily be "open ended," meaning it could last a thousand years -- a million -- a quadrillion!

Yes, we've had many "military engagements" even just since September 11th. Such combat, patrolling, or liasing with local military or militia units happen constantly, year in and year out; if you don't believe me, pick up Imperial Grunts (2005), by Robert Kaplan (a fairly liberal journalist, by the way). Yet only two of our many military engagements require a small commitment to nation building.

What Harsanyi actually appears to be saying is that every military engagement that caught his attention for including nation building -- included nation building. This is a true, yet trivial, statement which he sees as profound and unanswerable. And I suppose it is... unanswerable, I mean.

And that concludes this rare display of Lizardian scorn and mockery. Oh, I almost forgot: Did anyone out there spot a bona-fide "effective argument" from Mr. H.?

Anyone? Bueller? Bueller? Bueller?

Instant update: Perhaps I should be more explicit why I write posts such as this: I am driven to a frenzy by vapid, lawyerly arguments that ignore substance for style; churlish, precious nitpickery; hysterical overreaction in one direction, followed in nigh bipolar extreme by an overreaction in the other; the inability to discover nuance or a gradient between black and white; fannish smugness; and the narcissistic certainty that the arguer is the smartest ass in the room. I had quite enough of such in my youth in science-fiction fandom, thankyouverymuch.

I associate such rhetorical self-pleasuring with liberals -- or with teenagers arguing that "you can't drive the car for two weeks" means it's all right to drive somebody else's car tomorrow.

I'm annoyed when liberals use such teen logic; but I'm infuriated when libertarians follow suit. Why the discrimination? Because I anticipate nothing better from liberals, so they only live down to my expectations; but I have much higher standards for people who call their magazine Reason, whose books use the word "Skeptical" in the title, who pose as eminently logical, level-headed, businesslike, and grounded in the real world.

I especially despise such arguments when in service to a position I hold myself... it cheapens my own hard-fought conclusion, much like "affirmative action" throws dirt on the real achievements of minorities and women who score in the 95th percentile all on their own, without getting freebie points due to skin color or reproductive organs.

I'm sure someone could make a strong, logical, and interesting case against nation-building; but it's too easy to make the lazy argument, the mocking thrust, so people just don't bother to do the heavy lifting anymore. I'm on a solitary crusade against intellectual mush and piggybacking on the tactics of Abbie Hoffman and Tom Hayden.

Brad rails against much of what I rant against here, though he prefers to apply it to knee-jerk social-conservatives than knee-jerk libertarians. He calls it the "Horowitz effect," after erstwhile radical leftie and Ramparts editor David Horowitz -- who converted to conservatism, yet carried all his old radical games and fancy dances to the new cause.

Brad swings too far in the other direction, however; he focuses so relentlessly on absolute internal consistency that he loses sight of the real world, which is messy -- yet remains the standard for truth against which all theory must be tested and survive.

All right, I'm finally done.

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, September 2, 2009, at the time of 9:36 PM | Comments (6) | TrackBack

September 1, 2009

Day 224... and Yep, You Guessed It

Afghan Astonishments , Obama Nation
Hatched by Dafydd

All right, here we go; from Reuters, anent Afghanistan:

U.S. Army General Stanley McChrystal said the situation was "serious" but the 8-year-old war could still be won. He gave no indication if he would ask for more troops but is widely expected to do so in the coming weeks.

With U.S. and NATO casualties at record levels in Afghanistan and doubts growing about the war in the United States and other NATO nations, McChrystal is under pressure to reverse Western fortunes within months....

"While there's a lot of gloom and doom going around ... I think we have some assets in place and some developments that hold promise," [Secretary of Defense Robert] Gates said on a visit to a Lockheed Martin factory building F-35 fighter jets in Fort Worth, Texas.

And now, the punchline:

The White House sought on Monday to pin the blame for the grave state of the war in Afghanistan on the Bush administration, which made Iraq its top military priority.

"This was underresourced, underfunded, undermanned and ignored for years," White House spokesman Robert Gibbs said.

Oddly, during those years of underresourcing (when did "resource" become a verb?), undermanning, and ignorance, Afghanistan was a much more peaceful, anti-Taliban, and pro-American country. But after just eight months of Barack H. Obama, the "bellman," as Commander in Chief... well, everything is going to hell in a hambone.

But Col. David Kilcullen, Gen. David Petraeus' top counterinsurgency aide back when Petraeus was Commander of the Multinational Force in Iraq, has a very different take on the failings:

A top counterinsurgency expert said on Monday Afghanistan's government must fight corruption and quickly deliver services to Afghans because Taliban militants were filling gaps and winning support.

"A government that is losing to a counter-insurgency [sic] isn't being outfought, it is being out-governed. And that's what's happening in Afghanistan," David Kilcullen, a senior adviser to McChrystal, told Australia's National Press Club.

So we're not talking about some failed Bush military policy in Afghanistan after all; according to Col. Kilcullen, it's not the boots on the ground that are failing... it's the suits on the ground, led by U.S. Ambassador to Afghanistan, Lt.Gen. Karl W. Eikenberry -- named to the position by Obama nine days after the new president was sworn in.

This is not a Bush holdover, like Defense Secretary Gates; Eikenberry is an Obama man. Curiously, however, while Eikenberry has extensive military experience in Afghanistan -- including as Commander of the Combined Forces Command -- all of his political training and focus appears to have been aimed at making him an expert on China, not Afghanistan: the Hong Kong Chinese Language School (run by Great Britain's Ministry of Defense), thence Nanjing University, and "an advanced degree in Chinese History."

So far as I can see, Eikenberry had no experience as an ambassador or in the State Department -- or in politics at all, other than commanding troops of various nationalities -- before Obama named the student of Chinese history and language Ambassador to Afghanistan, one of the key positions in the war against the Iran/al-Qaeda axis. Hey, what could go wrong?

Doesn't matter; whatever it is, it's all George W. Bush's fault. (And Yngvi is still a louse!)

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, September 1, 2009, at the time of 1:39 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

August 23, 2009

Surge Against the Resurgence of the Insurgency

Afghan Astonishments , Pakistan Perplexities , War Against Radical Islamism
Hatched by Sachi

Since Barack H. Obama took office, anti-war protesters, major media figures, and even conservatives seem to have forgotten that there are wars going on still in Iraq and Afghanistan. Thanks to General David Petraeus and his counterinsurgency strategy (COIN) in Iraq, the situation dramatically improved there during the tail end of the Bush adiministration. But in Afghanistan, the situation is not improving; it anything, it's deteriorating.

Our Marines are still there and fighting; we can always rely on them. But they cannot win this war alone; ultimately, Afghanistan must be won by the Afghans themselves. But in a place where terrorist and vengence killings and kidnappings by the Taliban continue to be "situation normal," getting Afghans to join the fight against so-called "jihad" is easier promised than delivered, as the Obamacle is finding out.

The New York Times notes that the Marines are not getting the help they need, either from local tribes or the Afghan national government:

Governor Massoud has no body of advisers to help run the area, no doctors to provide health care, no teachers, no professionals to do much of anything. About all he says he does have are police officers who steal and a small group of Afghan soldiers who say they are here for “vacation.”

It all raises serious questions about what the American mission is in southern Afghanistan -- to secure the area, or to administer it -- and about how long Afghans will tolerate foreign troops if they do not begin to see real benefits from their own government soon. American commanders say there is a narrow window to win over local people from the guerrillas.

Didn't we hear the same story in 2006, in Iraq? Americans are strong; the Marines can win every pitched battle. We have killed tens of thousands of Talibani, conquered most of the territory of Afghanistan, and occupied them with American and local security forces. But have we secured Afghanistan? Hardly. Instead, it threatens to again become what it used to be called: the graveyard of empires.

Why is it that we cannot win the hearts and minds of the Afghans? All right, when George W. Bush was in the White House, distrust was understandable, liberals might argue; Bush was that evil dictator, that big meaniee, who refused to negotiate or even talk with the "freedom fighters" who only had the best interests of their fellow Pashtuns at heart. Naturally Afghans didn't trust Bush -- everybody in the entire world hated him! But Barack Obama -- the One We Have Been Waiting For, the Obamessiah -- surely ought to be able to resolve this situation diplomatically with a few well-chosen words from his trusty teleprompter.

Yet the sad truth of the matter is that it doesn't matter who the president is; all that matters is our long term, consistant, relentless presence in the country... for a long time to come; probably as long as our military presence in the Philippines, fighting the Moro insurgency -- around 15 years -- as an earlier post discussed.

Afghans are afraid: Even if the Marines secure a region, the populace knows we'll eventually leave; we don't plan to live here permanently as colonial masters. And then what?

Counterinsurgency is much like building a road in the desert. We can shovel and smooth, lay tarmac, and build a superhighway; but if we do not constantly maintain it, if we even take a breather, the desert will reclaim its own and turn the fancy road back into sand dunes, as if we were never even there. Look what is happening in Iraq, since Barack H. Obama arrived and began his months-long victory lap. [Sergeant Garcia: How did we capture Zorro? Capitan Monastario: "We?" You had nothing to do with it, baboso! -- DaH]

Afghans will have to live in Afghanistan long after the Americans leave. They need to be convinced that siding with American troops to build a free Afghanistan is a courageous, honorable, and rational idea -- that cooperating with us does not mean signing their own death warrants. Unless we can guarantee the safety of the Afghan civilians, as we did in Iraq (while President Bush was still in charge), we cannot expect the Afghan tribes to cooperate anytime soon.

What Afghanistan needs is a COIN operation, like the one Gen. Petraeus executed to brilliant victory in Iraq; it would have to adapt to local and regional differences between Afghanistan and the Middle East, but the main goal would be the same: protecting the civilian population long enough for effective and honest civil institutions to arise naturally. But with Barack Obama in the White House, I am not as confident we'll succeed as I once was.

Hatched by Sachi on this day, August 23, 2009, at the time of 5:33 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

July 28, 2009

Unnatural Positions

Afghan Astonishments , Liberal Lunacy , Obama Nation , Pakistan Perplexities
Hatched by Dafydd

I found this juxtaposition fascinating -- in a horrifying sort of way. First, we certainly can't talk to those scheming Honduran diplomats... they represent the coup leaders:

The U.S. government said Tuesday it has revoked the diplomatic visas of four Honduran officials, stepping up pressure on coup-installed leaders who insist they can resist international demands to restore the ousted president.

The U.S. State Department did not name the four, but a Honduran official said they included the Supreme Court magistrate who ordered the arrest of ousted President Manuel Zelda and the president of Honduras' Congress.

The State Department is also reviewing the visas of all officials serving under interim President Roberto Micheletti, department spokesman Ian Kelly said.

(How dare the Honduran Supreme Court rule according to the Honduran constitution, rather than sit quietly and wait for instructions from the One They Have Been Waiting For!)

But of course, we can't simply refuse to talk to people; that would be puerile and unproductive:

A concerted effort to start unprecedented talks between Taliban and British and American envoys was outlined yesterday in a significant change in tactics designed to bring about a breakthrough in the attritional, eight-year conflict in Afghanistan.

Senior ministers and commanders on the ground believe they have created the right conditions to open up a dialogue with "second-tier" local leaders now the Taliban have been forced back in a swath of Helmand province.

Oh, I know, I know; it seems just a tad inconsistent:

  • Refusing even to allow into the United States diplomats and officials from one of the most pro-American countries in Central America, because they refused to sit idly while a Cuba- and Venezuela-backed wannabe dictator unilaterally and illegally changed the constitution to allow him to become President for Life;
  • And then turning around and opening a diplomatic initiative with the terrorist group that (a) was fully complicit in the September 11th attacks, and that (b) we ousted in a -- well, not exactly a coup; in our case, we used a full military invasion to institute regime change. (See? Totally different.)

It may seem inconsistent, hypocritical, hysterical, adolescent, cement-headed, awkward, slovenly, ad-hominem, and amateurish... but appearances can be deceiving: Perhaps President Barack H. Obama is just living by the motto that defines his life: Keep your enemies close, and your mortal enemies actually in bed with you.

But then again, maybe the president is signalling that he now has second thoughts about the war of Christianist aggression in Afghanistan, started by a previous administration. Maybe this is the first step towards demanding that the current illegal "government" of that country disband, fly to the Hague, and surrender themselves... so that the legitimate government of 2001 and prior can retake its rightful place in Kabul.

I understand that later this year, the president plans to send Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Special-Olympics Spokesman Joe "Litella" Biden to South Korea to share a beer with President Lee Myung-bak and PM Han Seung-soo -- then deliver a long and serious lecture about dissolving the South Korean entity and making amends for their war of imperialist aggression against their northern brothers 59 years ago.

Cross-toasted to Hot Air's rogues' gallery...

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, July 28, 2009, at the time of 6:35 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

May 19, 2009

U.S. Ambassador to Afghanistan Vows to Lose War (Through the Eyes of a Child...) UPDATED

Afghan Astonishments , Presidential Peculiarities and Pomposities
Hatched by Dafydd

UPDATED with a clarification; see below.

Former Lieutenent General Karl Eikenberry, now Barack H. Obama's Ambassador to Afghanistan, promises to "change tactics" so that minimizing "civilian" casualties, rather than destroying the enemy, becomes paramount:

In a face-to-face meeting Tuesday with the Afghan survivors of a recent bombing in the western province of Farah, the new American ambassador to Afghanistan, Lt. Gen. Karl W. Eikenberry, promised that the coalition forces would change their tactics in order to prevent civilian casualties in the future.

Acknowledging the hurt inflicted on the Afghan people by American airpower, General Eikenberry called the May 4 aerial bombardment in Bala Baluk district a tragedy and pledged to sharply reduce the chances of civilian casualties in future operations.

Lest you think this is just empty rhetoric, Ambassador Eikenberry expanded upon his theme:

The American ambassador said he had been shocked when he learned about the bombing, Mr Khedmat said by telephone. “It might have happened due to a mistake, so we will not repeat it in future and we will be much more cautious about civilian life in the future,” he said Mr. Eikenberry told the crowd....

General Eikenberry questioned the wisdom of dropping 2,000 pound bombs on houses when it is unknown who might be inside, and the balance between the short-term gain [!] of eliminating enemy fighters and the larger danger of alienating the general population, the former general said.

“We have to look very carefully at the military tactics that are being used,” he said. “We have to avoid having tactical victories that translate into a strategic loss.”

Several realities here point up the risibility of enacting such restrictive rules of engagement:

  • The Taliban's main tactic is to hide among civilians, specifically hoping to force us to inflict death and injury upon non-combatants.
  • Technically, the Taliban themselves are "civilians," since they're not members of any official military.
  • Taliban supporters in the Afghan media, in hospitals, and even in the Afghan government itself routinely exaggerate civilian casualty counts; so do Afghans who do not support the Taliban but also do not support the American presence there.

The third point above demonstrates why it's impossible to eliminate reports of civilian casualties, no matter how hesitant and tepid we become: If we fail to massacre women and children, the usual suspects will simply fabricate such incidents -- again.

As we should have learnt by now, hamstringing our troops in combat by overreacting to "atrocity" claims (real or imaginary) has very real, very predictable consequences. We're been down this road before, and it ends only one way: In a Vietnam-style snatching of defeat from the jaws of victory.

I'm shocked that the "father of the Afghan National Army" believes we can fight terrorists without inflicting civilian casualties. Certainly that was never the policy of Gen. Petraeus in Iraq; he used his army to protect civilians... but that did not mean abjuring from any combat unless we had absolute assurance that no non-combatants would be harmed.

I suspect that Eikenberry is taking his cue from his Commander in Chief; he reiterated America's, Secretary Hillary Clinton's, abject apology for not sanitizing the Afghan war so that nobody but the bad guys died (particularly since the "bad guys" dispute being the bad guys and insist that they are themselves innocent non-combatants).

This is yet another example of the adolescent "teen logic" of the Obama administration.

UPDATE 23:49: Commenter Binder, defending the decision by Ambassador Eikenberry, called my attention to an opinion piece by Lt.Col. David Kilcullen, Gen. David Petraeus' top expert on counterinsurgency warfare, calling for an end or dramatic scaling back of Predator drone attacks in Pakistan; the same piece was referenced by Ambassador Eikenberry in response to the incident above:

“It is clear to me that if we don’t get this right, we do run the risk of alienating the Afghan people and creating what David Kilcullen has called the accidental guerrilla,” he said, referring to a counterinsurgency expert who has advised Gen. David H. Petraeus. “Unwittingly and unintentionally we are driving away the Afghan on the ground, we are driving them away and consequently weakening the Afghan government.”

But if you investigate the incident itself, briefly sketched in the Times piece linked up top and discussed fairly extensively over the past few days (weeks?), three significant differences between it and the sort of thing Kilcullen decries are apparent:

  1. The incident above took place in Afghanistan, not Pakistan; unlike the latter, the government of Afghanistan is in no danger of collapsing anytime soon.
  2. The Afghanistan bombing had nothing to do with Predators remotely firing missiles to assassinate suspected "high value targets," which is what Kilcullen was talking about. It used 2,000-lb bombs, while Predators carry Hellfire missiles. In fact, the Afghanistan attack comprised a series of bombs by airplanes with American crews inside.
  3. Most important, however, is this: The Afghanistan attack was an airstrike called in to end a firefight -- not a remote assassination attempt.

As I understand it, the Afghan police made first contact with the Taliban group. They called in the Afghan National Army when then realized they were outgunned. But the huge Taliban military unit was even pushing the army units back... so they called in the Americans.

The firefight turned into a major battle, with boots on the ground from three different services -- two local and the Americans -- all of them taking heavy casualties. It was then, with even the American forces unable to dislodge the Taliban from a number of houses they were using as nests, that we called in air strikes.

Here is a description of the sequence from an earlier story in the Times; I had to tease the factual storyline out from its literary shields of moral finger-wagging and heartstring-tugging:

Farah, a vast province in the west, contains only a smattering of foreign special forces and trainers who work among Afghan police and army units. Exploiting the thin spread of forces, the insurgents sought to seize control of Granai and provoke a fierce battle over the heads of the civilian population, Afghan and American officials say.

After hours of fighting and taking a number of casualties, the American forces called in their heaviest weapon, airstrikes, on at least three targets in the village....

Colonel Julian, the American military spokesman, said that the airstrikes hit houses from which the Taliban were firing....

The police chief, Colonel Watandar, confirmed much of the villagers’ accounts of the fighting. A large group of Taliban fighters, numbering about 400, they estimated, entered the village and took up positions at dawn on May 4. By midmorning, the Taliban began attacks on police posts on the main road, just yards from the village, they said.

The fighting raged all day. The police called in more police officers, Afghan Army units and an American quick reaction force from the town of Farah as reinforcements.

By midafternoon, the exchanges escalated sharply and moved deeper into the village. Taliban fighters were firing from the houses, and at one point a Marine unit called in airstrikes to allow Marines to go forward and rescue a wounded Afghan soldier, said Colonel Julian, the United States military spokesman. After that, Taliban fire dropped significantly, he said. [This would have been some hours before the evening bombing about which controversy ensues. -- DaH]

A villager named Multan said that one house along the southern edge of the village was hit by a bomb and that one Taliban fighter was killed there. But villagers did not report any civilian casualties until the American planes bombed that night.

So in fact, what we had here was a major (battalion-sized) enemy force ensconced in a village, pinning down a smaller combined American and Afghan force; our guys had taken significant casualties; and according to American sources, the firefight was continuing. (Locals claim the fighting had already stopped, the Taliban had already withdrawn, and we bombed houses emptied of all combatants, for no reason other than pure malice. Each of us can decide which witness to believe.)

We called in airstrikes as part of routine close-air support... which is completely different from the remote Predator "assassinations" that David Kilcullen condemns in his opinion piece. And it truly worries me that our new ambassador, a lieutenant general until Obama named him, cannot see the crystaline distinction between the types of incident.

What Eikenberry called for was for us to essentially give up the superiority and security given us by our extraordinarily effective use of close-air support during ground combat ops, in favor of -- what? He offers no clue.

But if Kilcullen thinks we should refrain from using air power to extricate our soldiers when they are being beaten or stymied, he certainly has never written such a thing... no matter what Eikenberry believes.

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, May 19, 2009, at the time of 3:21 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

May 6, 2009

Obamic Apology Tour Crawls to Kabul

Afghan Astonishments , Hillary Hilarity , Liberal Lunacy
Hatched by Dafydd

In a burst of enthusiastic self-abasement, the One the World Has Been Waiting For has dispatched his Clintonian emissary to (once again) apologize profusely -- "deeply, deeply" -- for American military actions... this time in Afghanistan; and this time knowingly without knowing what really happened (a "known unknown!"), whether anything happened, and if so, who was at fault:

Meeting with Afghanistan President Harmid Karzai and Pakistan's Asif Ali Zardari in a prelude to their talks with President Barack Obama, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said Washington "deeply, deeply" regrets the loss of life, apparently as a result of a bombing there on Monday.

"Any loss of innocent life is particularly painful," Clinton said. Karzai responded before the cameras that he appreciated Clinton "showing concern and regret." The visiting leader also said he hoped Washington and Kabul could "work together to completely reduce civilian casualties in the struggle against terrorism."

State Department spokesman Robert A. Wood said later that Clinton's remarks were offered as a gesture, before all the facts of the incident are known, because "any time there is a loss of innocent life we are going to be concerned about it, and we wanted to make that very clear."

The Telegraph offers a more complete version of Secretary of State Clinton's apology:

"I wish to express my personal regret and certainly the sympathy of our administration on the loss of civilian life in Afghanistan," Mrs Clinton said at a joint meeting with Hamid Karzai, the Afghan president, and Asif Ali Zardari, the Pakistani president.

"We deeply regret it. We don't know all of the circumstances or causes. And there will be a joint investigation by your government and ours," Mrs Clinton said.

"But any loss of life, any loss of innocent life, is particularly painful."

Of course, the Telegraph also accepts the word of "Afghan officials" from "a Taliban-controlled district," that our military is to blame -- in fact, the British newspaper claims a much higher toll of "innocent life":

Afghan officials said up to 120 non-combatants were killed when US warplanes dropped bombs on two villages in Bala Baluk, a Taliban-controlled district in the western province of Farah.

Is it just I? Doesn't the very fact that "all the facts of the incident" are not known mean that we have no idea whether the lives lost were, in fact, "innocent?" We are told that women and children were slaughtered; according to the AP article:

The bombing issue arose earlier Wednesday, when Karzai ordered a probe into allegations by local officials that more than 30 civilians were killed by U.S.-led troops battling militants in western Afghanistan. The International Committee of the Red Cross said a team it had sent to the area saw "dozens of bodies in each of the two locations," including women and children.

Karzai's office said he was going to raise the issue with Obama. And the U.S. has sent a brigadier general to investigate.

One presumes that most children would indeed be innocent; but does "children" include 15, 16, and 17 year olds? If so, they could very well be Taliban killers or al-Qaeda terrorists and every bit as guilty as their compadres a few years older.

But in any event, the mere existence of "dozens of bodies"... "including women and children" does not actually prove that they were killed by any action of the United States military forces -- or indeed by any direct action of anybody -- even if we were to accept the Red Cross' assertions at face value, which I'm not prepared to do. Nor does it prove that we were in any way culpable. Even the generally less forgiving Telegraph article admits the possibility that it is the Taliban, not NATO, that is directly responsible for the deaths:

Abdul Ghafar Watandar, the provincial police chief, said Taliban militants used villagers as human shields by herding them into houses during the US air attacks.

We cannot yet even say how many people, innocent or guilty, were killed. We know from the Pallywood revelations that anti-American, anti-West Moslem activists -- would the Taliban qualify? -- see nothing wrong in faking deaths (e.g., the Mohammed al-Dura case), raiding morgues for long-dead corpses, or even toting the bodies of dead children from site to site, in full view of the elite news media, yet passing them off as different victims each time (à la Green Helmet Guy).

The press is typically complicit in such lies, of course. Reporters often hire local "stringers" with suspect loyalties, if any; such stringers, familiar with the location and culture, cannot possibly fail to notice the fakery and stagecraft in these sick melodramas.

Nor can the Western and even American "journalistic" bosses fail to be aware of the opportunism and ideology-based deception their stringers routinely practice... any more than the top reporters and news readers could ever have been unaware that what Iraqis said in the Hussein era -- when accompanied by "minders" just outside camera range -- was worth less than zero.

Evidently, in both cases, many putative reporters considered the end (damaging America or the Bush administration) sufficiently vital to justify the means: degrading and slandering the United States and our military and jeopardizing American national security.

But let's suppose that many innocents really did die in Bala Baluk. The collapsing prosecutions of a number of Marine Corps officers and enlisted men for the supposed "Haditha massacre" demonstrate the terrible risk of humiliation and blowback run by those who go off half-cocked and conclude that if innocents are killed, Americans (or NATO) must be to blame. I refer here to accusers such as Rep. John Murtha (D-PA, 85%), to pick the most egregious example.

Murtha, congressman and poster-boy for the Democratic culture of corruption, so despised the American victories in Iraq and Afghanistan that he flatly announced that the Marines (his own branch of the service!) were guilty of wartime atrocities. (In this, he only mimicked Sen. John F. Kerry, D-MA, 100%, in a previous war.) On May 17th, 2006, speaking at a press conference, Murtha thus demonstrated his committment to a fair and impartial trial for the Marines accused in the Haditha case:

Murtha, a vocal opponent of the war in Iraq, said at a news conference Wednesday that sources [secret sources!] within the military have told him that an internal investigation [hidden evidence!] will show [precognition!] that "there was no firefight, there was no IED (improvised explosive device) that killed these innocent people. Our troops overreacted because of the pressure on them, and they killed innocent civilians in cold blood." [Marines are bloodthirsty monsters!]

On December 21 of that year, eight Marines were charged with murder, negligent homicide, conspiracy, filing false reports and failure to investigate, and other UCMJ crimes; in the last two plus years, however, charges against seven of them were dropped, leaving only SSGT Frank Wuterich's case (seven counts of negligent homicide) still pending. But even if he is convicted -- which seems increasingly unlikely, as more evidence exonerating the Marines surfaces -- there is no way in which negligent homicide can honestly be described as having "killed innocent civilians in cold blood"; that is practically the definition of premeditated murder.

This cautionary tale directly applies to Hillary Clinton's crawlfest in Afghanistan. Here is what we do not yet know about the supposed American massacre in western Afghanistan:

  • Whether the "local officials" were telling the truth or lying, accurate or mistaken about 30 to 120 civilians killed in a bombing; who are these officials anyway? What is their general attitude towards the American presence? That they are "officials" in "a Taliban-controlled district" immediately makes me skeptical of their claims.
  • What, exactly, did the International Committee of the Red Cross see? And who showed it to them? Did they actually examine the bodies to ensure (a) that they had wounds consistent with the airstrike claim (as opposed to having been shot in the head at close range, a favorite tactic of militant Islamists holding human shields); and (b) whether they were actually dead? Or was the Red Cross simply shown shrouded lumps and told that they were bodies? Or were they shown anything at all, as opposed to being told about it by local Red Crescent affilliates? I'm not necessarily inclined to give the Red Cross the benefit of the doubt here, as they have lied, for political reasons, about American "massacres" in the past. Show us the bodies!
  • Assuming those twin hurdles are overcome, how do we know it was American munitions that killed them? Perhaps the Taliban holding them in the buildings either decided to blow themselves up or else detonated their own explosives by accident.
  • How many of those "dozens" or 30 or 120 were actually "innocent?" It's hardly uncommon for "local [Taliban-supporting] officials" to claim that all persons killed by NATO forces in Afghanistan have been innocent -- even if they are later identified as al-Qaeda or Taliban members or leaders.
  • How do we know they were killed deliberately? They could have been caught in crossfire, they could have been "human shields," they could have died by a tragic accident (such as trying to salvage an unexploded bomb and accidentally triggering it).

If the answer to any of these questions falls out on the side of the American or NATO military, then Secretary Clinton's premature apology is a grotesque insult to our own armed forces: We should not apologize for fighting against the murderous evil of others, even if innocents die; those deaths are on the heads of the terrorists who precipitated the bloodshed -- in this case, by assassinating three government workers in Bala Baluk -- not on our heads for trying to stop them.

By "regretting," Clinton and Obama encourage the spread of the despicable meme that we are no better than the Taliban, that we massacre innocent people, that there is a moral equivalency between a mass murderer and the cops who try to stop him: Hey, they both have guns -- they both engage in violence -- they both kill... therefore, they're two sides of the very same coin, no?

A final point that I shouldn't even have to debunk: Some on the Left will surely point out -- rather gleefully, as if this is a rhetorical capper that completely clears the administration of any wrongdoing -- that Hillary Clinton did not actually say she "apologized" for the deaths, only that she "deeply, deeply regretted" them. But this is classic Clintonian deconstructionism, hair splitting, word parsing. Nobody in the Moslem world is going to care that she regretted rather than apologized; everyone will see it as an apology and an admission of guilt. Instead of regretting or apologizing, she should have said something along these lines:

It's tragic when innocent lives are lost; while we do not yet know all the facts, we must focus our anger and grief where it truly belongs: On the butchers who deliberately murder innocents by the thousands for political gain, and who deliberately put women and children into deadly peril as human shields: the Taliban and al-Qaeda.

That would have commemorated all deaths of innocents at the hands of terrorists without drawing moral equivalency between our military and our country, which has done more than any other nation in history to fight the horror of the Islamist holocaust, and refocused blame on those committing human sacrifice themselves. Evidently, that was too much to ask of Hillary Clinton and her Capo di Tutti Capi.

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, May 6, 2009, at the time of 6:10 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

February 10, 2009

Al Qaeda's Army of Darkness

Afghan Astonishments , Pakistan Perplexities , War Against Radical Islamism
Hatched by Dafydd

Bill Roggio has a chilling report up at the Long War Journal about the resurgence of the "Shadow Army," comprising elements from al-Qaeda, the Taliban, and numerous other terrorist and paramilitary units. It has been allowed to fester not only in Pakistan but in Afghanistan as well; clearly we blundered in trusting NATO units to take on the fight in the latter country:

The Shadow Army is active primarily in Pakistan's tribal areas, the Northwest Frontier Province, and in eastern and southern Afghanistan, several US military and intelligence officials told The Long War Journal on condition of anonymity due to the sensitivity of the subject.

The paramilitary force is well trained and equipped, and has successfully defeated the Pakistani Army in multiple engagements. Inside Pakistan, the Shadow Army has been active in successful Taliban campaigns in North and South Waziristan, Bajaur, Peshawar, Khyber, and Swat.

In Afghanistan, the Shadow Army has conducted operations against Coalition and Afghan forces in Kunar, Nuristan, Nangahar, Kabul, Logar, Wardak, Khost, Paktika, Paktia, Zabul, Ghazni, and Kandahar provinces.

"The Shadow Army has been instrumental in the Taliban's consolidation of power in Pakistan's tribal areas and in the Northwest Frontier Province," a senior intelligence official said. "They are also behind the Taliban's successes in eastern and southern Afghanistan. They are helping to pinch Kabul."

We first encountered the Shadow Army, then called Brigade 055, during the 2001 invasion; we destroyed it then, but aQ and the Taliban have resurrected and rebuilt the army until it is at least as good as it was pre-invasion (probably better):

The effectiveness of the Shadow Army can be seen in a video taken by an Al Jazeera reporter during an operation in Loisam in the Bajaur tribal agency in the fall of 2008 [see video at the Long War Journal blogpost]. The Taliban forces drive off a battalion-sized assault from regular Pakistani Army troops that are supported by at least a platoon of tanks. The Pakistani tanks are seen racing away from the fighting, and the Pakistani infantry moving in behind them does the same after taking fire. The reporter describes the Pakistani tank commander as "quite shaken." The tank commander calls for airstrikes to take out the Taliban positions, but the infantry and tanks go into full retreat and return to base after the Taliban counterattacks.

Will our new president have the guts to send those "30,000 American troops" into Afghanistan to fight? Or will they simply mill about to make it appear as though Barack H. Obama is "doing something," but in reality will be about as effective as we were during the hunt for Mohamed Farrah Aidid in Somalia?

I know Obama once talked about invading Pakistan, but that was when it was still our ally. I'm not at all convinced that he would be willing to invade Pakistan if it were taken over by the al-Qaeda/Taliban axis and became our enemy again.

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, February 10, 2009, at the time of 4:02 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

December 10, 2008

American Special Forces in Afghanistan Accidentally Defend Themselves

Afghan Astonishments , Media Madness
Hatched by Dafydd

This is rich. First read AP's headline:

US Special Forces mistakenly kill 6 Afghan police

Next, the beginning of their lede graf:

U.S. Special Forces killed six Afghan police and wounded 13 early Wednesday in a case of mistaken identity...

Finally, here are the complete first two paragraphs:

U.S. Special Forces killed six Afghan police and wounded 13 early Wednesday in a case of mistaken identity by both sides after the police fired on the Americans during an operation against an insurgent commander, officials said.

A U.S. military statement said police fired on the American forces after the troops battled and killed an armed militant in the city of Qalat, the capital of the southern province of Zabul. The Americans returned fire on the police but only later learned their identities. One Afghan civilian was also killed in the exchange.

Anybody reading just the headline (which is all that is shown in some news feeds), or even just the headline plus the beginning of the lede (which might be all that is shown on most other feeds), is bound to come away with the impression -- as I did -- that once again, those vicious, violent, bloodthirsty American soldiers were firing indiscriminately, wildly shooting at anything that moves, and they killed a bunch of innocent victims. Again.

But the reality is that the Americans did not make any mistake: They simply returned fire when fired upon, an action always allowed of any unit in any combat zone... even the Dutch can do that much!

But even after admitting that we responded to being fired upon, AP is still determined to blame America for the deaths. They quote a self-serving statement by the deputy governor of Zabul:

Gulab Shah Alikhail, the province's deputy governor, said U.S. Special Forces carried out an operation in a small village near a police checkpoint on the outskirts of Qalat. The police, thinking it was a Taliban attack, opened fire, he said. Then a helicopter fired on the security post and destroyed it, he said....

"Unfortunately, the Special Forces didn't inform the police that they were going to the village," Alikhail said.

Of course, they never quote a single person exonerating the Americans; instead, they earlier quoted a U.S. military spokesman, who says that "Coalition forces deeply regret the incident of mistaken fire," despite the obvious purpose of the statement to provide face-saving cover for the Afghans, who started the whole thing by opening fire without clearly identifying their targets first.

The closest AP comes to admitting that we were not even at fault in keeping the operation secret from the Afghan police is a non-sourced non-quote:

U.S. officials quietly admit that they are hesitant to share detailed plans of raids against militant commanders for fear that government officials connected to the Taliban could tip off the militants of the impending operation. ["Quietly admit," as if they're ashamed of their (probably racist) feelings?]

This comes, of course, seven paragraphs into a ten-paragraph story.

Bear in mind, this is the supposedly "good war" in Afghanistan, that one that even Barack H. Obama supports; yet even so, the elite news media still bend their necks backwards trying to find a way to pin ersatz war crimes onto the American military... even after the ascension of the One!

Reflexive, compulsive habit is evidently very hard to overcome.

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, December 10, 2008, at the time of 12:53 PM | Comments (7) | TrackBack

July 6, 2008

War Trauma, Media Style

Afghan Astonishments , Iraq Matters , Media Madness
Hatched by Dafydd

A judge in upstate New York has set up a special court for veterans, evidently on the media-driven, criminal-justice theory that staggering numbers of vets, far more than ever in the past, are returning PTSD-struck from the parade of horribles in Iraq and Afghanistan:

While the defendants in this court have been arrested on charges that could mean potential prison time and damaging criminal records, they have another important trait in common: All have served their country in the military.

That combination has landed them here, in veterans treatment court, the first of its kind in the country.

[Judge Robert] Russell is the evenhanded quarterback of a courtroom team of veterans advocates and volunteers determined to make this brush with the criminal justice system these veterans' last.

"They look to the right or to the left, they're sitting there with another vet," Russell said, "and it's a more calming, therapeutic environment. Rather than them being of the belief that 'people don't really understand me,' or 'they don't know what it's like' - well, it's a room full of folks who do."

All right; I don't really have any objection to such a special court... in theory; though I have yet to see any evidence that veterans, as a group, tend to be more criminal-minded than civilians who have never seen an actual battlefield. (In fact, I'm of the impression vets are less likely to commit crimes than eternal civilians.)

I would expect such a court to be geared specifically towards those vets with extensive combat experience, having seen their best friends murdered by Islamist terrorists, who have seen children blown to pieces by al-Qaeda bombers. I can imagine a veteran who has had to deal with such death-worshippers and human-sacrificers might have problems adjusting to civilian life.

You know, vets like this guy:

Charles Lewis, who stood before Russell at a recent session, may be exactly the kind of defendant the judge had in mind. The 25-year-old acknowledged walking out in frustration from his last counseling session.

"We all know that you're a good person who at times has done some inappropriate things," Russell told him. "It's time to get past the nonsense, don't you think?"

Lewis nodded in agreement. A jet mechanic four years into what he thought would be a 20-year Navy career, he severely injured his leg on the flight deck of the carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt in 2004 and was discharged.

One can only imagine the horrors he must have seen. I don't exactly recall which combat operations in Iraq or Afghanistan used carrier-based aviation, nor do I quite understand exactly what trauma would be faced by a mechanic who stayed on the ship. But it must have been something pretty horrendous to produce such symptoms...

Admittedly stubborn -- he walked out of counseling because he got tired of hearing people complain -- the 25-year-old father of four is only now addressing anxiety and attention disorders linked to his wartime service and the toll it took on his leg and hearing. A 30-day stay in rehab to get off prescription drugs began his path through veterans treatment court.

Here is another obvious case of combat psychosis:

The approach cultivates a sense of trust and understanding, said Guy LaPenna, a 40-year-old veteran with a history of stealing and drug violations. The high-stress life of Navy duty aggravated problems he had before, but he said he left the service an angry alcoholic battling mental health issues.

Russell is "appreciative that we're working so hard," said LaPenna, a high-energy personal trainer. He is following the veterans court program to see a petit larceny charge dismissed, "but the real reward is getting my life back and functioning as a member of society, a productive member of society," he said.

Before I get lynched by vets, I want to say that I don't begrudge any service veteran getting some special treatment later in life; vets give a portion of their lives to their country, it's reasonable that they get some consideration in return.

But when the media begins slinging around words like "post-traumatic stress disorder" causing "anxiety and attention disorders" that are "linked to his wartime service" or "the high-stress life of Navy duty," I honestly expect better examples than four gut-churning years working below decks on an aircraft carrier which never came under attack (none of them have).

Rather than allow what could be a valuable program to be hijacked by anybody who has ever worn a uniform, no matter how far removed from the action or whether he even left the United States, I wish they would direct the benefits to those vets who actually fought and bled for America.

And I really, really wish the elite news media would stop trying to portray all veterans -- even those whose service was more or less indistinguishable from similar jobs in the private sector -- as ticking time bombs just waiting to explode. It's offensive and jarringly tendentious.

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, July 6, 2008, at the time of 10:10 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

June 27, 2008

Could Afghanistan Use a "Surge?"

Afghan Astonishments , Military Machinations
Hatched by Dafydd

A new Pentagon report on the lack of progress in training up the Afghan army raises an important question; do we need to implement a counterinsurgency strategy in Afghanistan? Many people glibly suggest just such a strategic change; but it's by no means certain it would work even if we tried it.

The Pentagon report was scathing about the lack of progress of the Afghan army:

The assessment was bluntly pessimistic as it described efforts to train the Army and police.

As of March, it said, just one Army battalion and a headquarters unit could operate independently, while 26 battalions, five brigade headquarters and two corps headquarters units could plan and execute counterinsurgency operations with the support of coalition forces.

In addition, as of the spring, the U.S. had provided only 44 percent of the nearly 2,400 trainers needed for the Afghan Army, and just 39 percent of the mentors for the Afghan police.

Development of the Afghan police is taking longer and has been hindered by "corruption, insufficient U.S. military trainers and advisers, and a lack of unity of effort within the international community," the report noted.

The recent deployment of 1,200 U.S. Marines to serve as trainers for the police has beefed up the totals, but when those troops leave in the fall, the need for 1,400 police mentors will remain.

Secretary of Defense Robert Gates notes that a major motivator of the resurgence of the Taliban has been the steady loss of control of the Pakistan government by President Pervez Musharraf, in favor of the Pakistan Muslim League (N) of Nawaz Sharif, Pakistan's prime minister, who favors negotiating with al-Qaeda and other insurgents, rather than suppressing them, which was Musharraf's policy:

A key to the deterioration there, he said, has been recent efforts by Pakistan to negotiate peace agreement with tribal leaders along the lawless border. Those talks, he said, took the pressure off insurgent groups and "they've therefore been more free to be able to cross the border and create problems for us."

The report concurs, calling the insurgents' safe havens in Pakistan's tribal areas along the border "the greatest challenge to long-term security" in Afghanistan.

So what about developing a COIN strategy for Afghanistan, similar to that which was so successful in Iraq? It may not be as easy to do as to say. For one major problem, the 32,000-troop strong International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) -- the NATO troops in Afghanistan -- currently has the lead for all combat and reconstruction in Afghanistan. The commander of the ISAF is, I believe, currently Gen. David D. McKiernan, USA; but the ISAF reports to Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe, in Belgium.

I don't think Gen. McKiernan's chain of command passes through CENTCOM; but the non-ISAF, non-NATO American forces there, as part of the continuing Operation Enduring Freedom, do report to CENTCOM -- which will mean reporting to Gen. David Petraeus, as soon as Senate Majority Leader Harry "Pinky" Reid (D-Caesar's Palace, 85%) finally gets around to allowing a confirmation vote. The 8,000 members of the OEF forces are responsible for anti-terrorist operations -- which sounds promising -- but also for training the Afghan army, which hasn't gone very well.

(I know it's confusing; just remember that there is a NATO-coalition -- that is led by the United States -- and there is a separate American-coalition; both these coalitions include many other countries.)

The biggest hurdle is that there would an inherent command conflict between the ISAF and OEF in the event of a COIN strategy: If we're really going to beef up the OEF in a significant way and use counterinsurgency strategy, a la Iraq, to destroy the Taliban and al-Qaeda forces, that would completely nullify the transition of combat lead to NATO's ISAF.

The tempo of operations would shift away from NATO and back to the United States; and I guarantee the Europeans would scream bloody, blue murder -- echoed by the Democrats, who, in case you've forgotten in all the excitement, still control Congress and congressional war-funding.

It would doubtless be much easier for Congress to justify a vote to withhold funding in Afghanistan because we're "screwing NATO" -- than to withhold funding in Iraq because we're winning. Bottom line: We need some Democratic Party support... which means that if there is any COIN program, it would have to be primarily led by the NATO-coalition, not the American-coalition.

But I don't know whether the NATO-coalition would agree to a COIN strategy, since that would involve increasing their troop commitments... though we might be able to gain their approval if we supplied virtually all the "surging" troops ourselves; which would probably be better anyway, because we could bring them all from CENTCOM.

But even so, it's not necessarily going to work as well in Afghanistan as it has in Iraq, for a very simple reason: For two major reasons, we are deprived of the deep well of resentment and hatred of the terrorists that benefitted us in Iraq:

  • Iraqi Sunni comprised very civilized tribes that had always enjoyed some autonomy, but who had been ruled with an iron fist for two or three years, by the likes of Musab Zarqawi and al-Qaeda in Mesopotamia. That terrorist group committed such gruesome atrocities, wanton savagery, totalitarian religious dictatorship, and crimes against humanity, that many Sunni tribes were only too happy to rise up against them and go to war for their own liberation.

    Gen. Petraeus sent Col. David Kilcullen to many tribes, where the Australian counterinsurgency expert helped them set up "Salvation Councils" to ally with Coalition forces. Without those native counterinsurgents, we might not have won.

  • Iraqi Shia were (and are) spiritually led by Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, who guided them away from Iranian dominance so strongly that Iraq Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki was finally compelled to go to war against the Shiite terrorists and Iranian proxies... primarily the Mahdi Militia, led by Iranian puppet Muqtada Sadr. Again, without the enmity between Iraq and Iraq, Persia and Arabia, we might not have gained Shiite support... which was critical in making the counterinsurgency work.

Neither of these happy circumstances prevail in Afghanistan: The Taliban and al-Qaeda were kicked out in 2001, so it's been nearly seven years since anyone had to live under that rule. Out of sight, out of mind.

And there really is no bitter rivalry or jealousy between the tribes in the south and east, which span the border bewteen Afghanistan and Pakistan; the Taliban and al-Qaeda are still strong and growing stronger in the latter country, and that is the source of the continued insurgency in Afghanistan. The tribes on both sides the border speak the same languages, believe in the same sect of Islam, and see themselves politically as superceding the artificial border -- which was drawn by the United Kingdom in the 19th century -- in the superstate of "Pashtunistan."

I'm not saying that a counterinsurgency cannot work in Afghanistan, but it's going to look very, very different from the one that was so successful in Iraq. And it almost certainly would have to cover all of "Pashtunistan," including the part that lies in the geographical state of Pakistan. That's a very wobbly tightrope to walk, and I suspect it will have to wait until we have a new president.

Assuming, of course, that the new president is the old coot, not the callow youth.

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, June 27, 2008, at the time of 7:02 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

April 10, 2008

"Time to Begin to... Focus on the Challenges Posed by Afghanistan"

Afghan Astonishments , Iraq Matters , Presidential Campaign Camp and Porkinstance , War Against Radical Islamism
Hatched by Dafydd

The wit and wisdom of Hillary Clinton on Tuesday, April 8th, 2008:

Without mentioning Senator McCain by name, Senator Clinton responded that supporters of the Bush administration's policy often talk about the cost of leaving Iraq, yet ignore the greater cost of continuing the same failed policy....

"I think it is time to begin an orderly process of withdrawing our troops, start rebuilding our military and focusing on the challenges posed by Afghanistan, global terrorist groups and other problems that confront America," she said.

I think it safe to say that if Democrats have one unifying theme to their national-security policy, it is that Iraq is nought but a "distraction" from the real war, which is against al-Qaeda... but only against the branch of al-Qaeda found along the Afghanistan-Pakistan border. They insist we must immediately withdraw virtually all our forces from Iraq and plant at least a significant portion of them in Afghanistan, to fight the good fight there instead.

Let's not speculate (for this post) about the real motivation behind the call to withdraw from Iraq or even whether Democrats are actually sincere in saying they would vastly increase the forces in Afghanistan. Let's assume complete good faith on their part. (I know it's a stretch, but work with me here.)

My question is -- what more, exactly, do Democrats expect us to do in Afghanistan?

We currently have 31,000 troops in Afghanistan as our component of the NATO mission (the International Security Assistance Force, ISAF); we have already pledged an additional 3,000 Marines for fighting and training purposes (to improve the Afghan National Army). Our ISAF allies have collectively sent an additional 28,000 forces, some of whom fight, while others only participate in nation-building efforts, bringing the total current NATO commitment to 59,000 troops.

The former Chief of Naval Operations of the U.S. Navy, now Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Adm. Mike Mullen, wants this overall figure to increase by 7,500 soldiers and 3,000 military trainers; outgoing ISAF commander Gen. Dan McNeill wants to increase by two combat brigades (3,000-8,000 soldiers or Marines) and one training brigade (1,500-4000 soldiers or Marines):

[U.S. Secretary of Defense Robert] Gates said the number of additional combat troops would depend on several things, including the extent of U.S. and NATO success on the battlefield this year, as well as the impact of a new senior U.S. commander taking over in coming months. Gen. David McKiernan is due to replace Gen. Dan McNeill this spring as the top overall commander in Afghanistan.

McNeill has said he believes he needs three more brigades - two for combat and one for training. That translates to roughly 7,500 to 10,000 additional troops. The Bush administration has no realistic hope of getting the NATO allies to send such large numbers.

McKiernan told Congress on Thursday that while he can't yet say how many more troops he would want there, he believes he needs additional combat and aviation forces, intelligence and surveillance capabilities, and training and mentoring teams.

Marines don't use brigades as a normal organizational force; they prefer the regiment. Gen. McNeill is Army, much of our ISAF committment are Marines... so I'm not sure exactly how many troops he calls for. Let's just split the difference between small brigades and big: 5,500 incoming combat troops and 2,750 incoming trainers.

This would mean that we expect our ISAF partners -- all of whom have pledged more troops (France alone will up their committment by at least 700) -- to pony up an additional 3,500 combat troops and 1,750 trainers... unless the next president plans to increase our own committment by more than President Bush has proposed. As noted above, it's unlikely that we can get the full complement from our allies, whose military budgets are woefully small compared to ours (as ours is woefully small, as percent of GDP, compared even to the average of the last 45 years).

However we reach the goal, that would bring the NATO forces in Afghanistan to a total of more than 67,000 combined combat forces and training forces. That, by the way, is all the force that the top commander of ISAF says he needs; he has not called for additional tens of thousands of men.

So what about the Afghan National Army? We have been training them just as we have trained the Iraqi army. As of December 2007, the Afghan army comprised 57,000 soldiers, or about as large as the current ISAF force level. Presumably they are still recruiting, so we can expect tha tnumber to rise along with the NATO forces. But even as they are now, that makes a total integrated army of 116,000 today, rising to about 125,000 over the next year.

(The Afghans are probably not as close to being a modern army in equipment, strategy, and attitude as are the Iraqis, but that is a very high standard; they're certainly far better than they were just a year ago. Fewer units can take the lead, but they generally fight very well when NATO leads.)

So the real question for the Democrats is this: What could we do with, say, 225,000 troops that we can't do with 125,000? If we funneled even just 100,000 of our current 150,000 Iraqi troops into Afghanistan instead, what exactly would the extra brigades be doing that we're not doing successfully now?

And there's where you nit the snag: Afghanistan is even less a force-on-force war than Iraq. When we shifted from the failed "attrition" strategy of Gen. George Casey to the successful counterinsurgency strategy (COIN) of Gen. David Petraeus, we added only 30,000 extra soldiers, an increase of 23%. In Afghanistan, that would mean an increase of only 13,500 NATO troops -- which is only 3,500 more than we're already increasing them.

Is that all the Democrats envision, an additional 3,500 troops? Or are they thinking of something vastly bigger? I have the bizarre image in my head of a Democratic army of 200,000 extra soldiers, all linking hands and walking the length of the border to "find Osama bin Laden!" When (of course) they fail to find him, they'll declare that he, too, was invented by Bush, just like the WMD; there never was a 9/11 attack; and we can go back to Clintonian somnambulism again.

Back to real life. The main point of the so-called "surge" in Iraq was not the increase in troops but the change in strategy; the strategy -- specifically crafted for the Iraq situation -- happened to require 160,000 soldiers, and we only had 130,000 at the time; thus we increased our force structure by the difference.

There's been no such crafting of a COIN strategy in Afghanistan that I know of, because the situation there is not the same as it was in Iraq. But if we eventually do switch to COIN, we will have to evaluate the military needs from scratch... and we might end up increasing forces, but we might end up leaving them the same or even reducing them. The strategy must drive the troop levels, not the other way round. We won't increase troop levels just to increase troop levels, but only as part of a new strategy that demands more soldiers: The strategy comes first; setting force levels is a byproduct of the strategy.

Needless to say, no Democrat -- and no general advising a Democrat -- has crafted such a strategy or reasonably could, since it could only be done by a COIN specialist like Gen. Petraeus who had spent years in Afghanistan and was intimately familiar with the progress of the war and the nature of the enemy right there. So what the heck do candidates like Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama, and other Democratic elected officials, mean by saying we should be "focusing on the challenges posed by Afghanistan, global terrorist groups and other problems that confront America?" What does "focus" mean in this case?

They advocate pulling troops out of Iraq and putting them into Afghanistan. But doing what? Deployed how? Do they mean for combat or training? What mix of Special Forces, air forces, grunts, and administrative/logistics?

How do they want them organized? What strategy should they follow? What would be their rules of engagement? Can ground forces cross into Pakistan in hot pursuit? How about initiating cross-border contact?

Al-Qaeda's presence is mostly in the tribal areas that span the border between Pakistan and Afghanistan -- Balochistan, which also includes a piece of north-eastern Iran; South and North Waziristan in Pakistan; and several other provinces on both sides of the border; the heaviest fighting is currently in southern Afghanistan, which touches both Iran and Pakistan. According to Bill Roggio, attacks are heavy in Kunar in the eastern region, Khost in the southeast, and Helmand and especially Khandahar in the southern region:

According to NATO statistics, “More than 75% of [Afghanistan] experienced less than 1 security incident per quarter per 10,000 people, supporting the assessment that the insurgency is not expanding across [Afghanistan]. 70% of the events occurred in 10% of the districts. The population of these districts is less than 6% of the population of [Afghanistan].” NATO attributes the increase in violence to increased operations by NATO forces.

The problem is that the tribes there do not recognize the border; and there are many trails that cross the Tora Bora mountains or the Hindu Kush, along which al-Qaeda can retreat into Pakistan when we attack (or into Afghanistan when the Pakistani troops attack).

What we really need is a coordinated operation attacking from both sides simultaneously; but we could never get President Musharraf to go along with it... and I suspect we're even less likely to ally with his successor, who will almost certainly be a member either of the Pakistan Muslim League (N) (the "N" is for Nawaz Sharif) or the Pakistan People's Party of the late Benazir Bhutto, both of which are more Islamist and less America-friendly than is Musharraf.

Sad to say, I don't think that a single Democrat has even so much as thought about these questions, let alone come up with any answers. The Democratic slogan "Withdraw troops from Iraq and send them to Afghanistan!" has every bit as much semantic content as their other slogan -- "Free Tibet!"... none at all.

At some point, we may well change strategy in Afghanistan to COIN... or we may change to some other strategy. We may decide to launch a pre-emptive attack on Balochistan and Waziristan; or we may end up cutting a deal with Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gillani or caliph-maker Nawaz Sharif, after Pervez Musharraf is voted out.

But there is no way to know at this point what we're going to end up doing, because everything is in flux. Thus it's not not irresponsible, it's imbecilic to announce in early 2008 your military plan for Afghanistan in 2009. It's like a financial manager saying, "in 2009, we're going to sell the following stocks and invest in these others here." How can you possibly know today whether that will be a good decision a year from now?

So even giving the Democrats all benefit of the doubt on sincerity and motive, just taking their pronouncements at face value, I can only conclude, in strict social-science terms, that the Democrats are behaving like poorly trained baboons. Their long-war rhetoric is just empty jingoism, whose only purpose is to make them look tough in advance of elections.

They have no specific plan; they have no grand strategy; they're not even aware that such things are required (or exist). They've never read any books that would explain this to them. They don't even know enough to know that they don't know enough; to borrow a wonderful phrase from Donald Rumsfeld, to the Democrats, military strategy is an "unknown unknown."

I recommend we not put one in la Casablanca. I'm not even comfortable with them sitting on the national-security committees; alas, there's nothing we can do about that.

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, April 10, 2008, at the time of 6:16 PM | Comments (7) | TrackBack

February 25, 2008

Bombs and Bombast

Afghan Astonishments , Future of Warfare , Immigration Immolations , Iran Matters , Iraq Matters , On the Border , Pakistan Perplexities
Hatched by Dafydd

In a post today, Tom Bevan of Real Clear Politics gleefully reports that the "virtual fence" program hasn't worked well so far:

Keith Epstein of Businessweek reports that the "virtual fence" all the candidates kept referring to (especially the GOP ones) as the cornerstone of border security turned out to be a miserable failure....

Doesn't this hurt McCain, given that the virtual fence was one of the tools he was counting on to help deliver his promise of "certifying" the security of the border? Will he have commit to building the real "g**damn fence" now?

No, it shouldn't hurt McCain... any more than the early failures of the ballistic missile defense system seriously hurt the BMD program. It just means we have to keep building the physical fence -- while continuing to work on the virtual one.

For some reason, the idea of a virtual fence became the focal point of the ire of immigration-absolutists during the debate last year over McCain-Kennedy. It became vital to anti-plea-bargain conservatives to "debunk" the virtual fence, presumably on the grounds that only a real fence -- three hundred feet high and sixty feet thick, dotted with machine-gun emplacements and sporting a minefield -- could keep out the illegal Mexicans.

They saw the virtual fence as a heavily watered drink some cheapskate bartender was trying to foist on them.

Do I sound a bit caustic? Sorry, I tend to get that way when Republicans act-out like Democrats. In particular, the reflexive bias against technology has always set my teeth on fire.

Democrats in the 1980s became hysterical at the thought of a technological shield against incoming nuclear missiles; and now the conservative wing of the GOP is running around like a chicken with its legs cut off over the possibility of a technological shield against illegal immigration.

I can only conclude that they believe even breathing the words "virtual fence" amounts to "surrender" and "amnesty," as if it were always just a ruse to avoid building a real fence. But the areas suggested for the virtual fence are precisely those that have such rugged terrain that (a) there are hardly any illegal crossings, and (b) it's extremely difficult (if not impossible) to build a "real" fence in the first place.

So that those areas would not be left totally unguarded, various people proposed a network of radar installations, cameras, motion detectors, heat sensors, and a computer system tying it all together... modeled roughly on the Aegis combat system that protects many of our cruisers and destroyers.

Regardless of whether or not this particular version of a virtual fence has worked, we absolutely need one. Believe it or not, keeping out Mexicans is not the only problem we have that requires some sort of barrier:

  • The border with Canada is vastly bigger than the southern border, and it would take a long, long time to toss a fence across it;
  • And then, of course, there's the Gulf of Mexico; terrorists can boat up the Gulf and hop out onto the beach;
  • And there are the Iraqi borders with Syria, Turkey, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, and Iran;
  • And don't forget the borders between Afghanistan and Pakistan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, and (naturally) Iran;
  • Not to mention borders between our allies and their enemiess;
  • Finally, any physical fence that can be built -- can be breached; cf. the fence that used to separate Gaza from Egypt. Even if we could literally build fences separating us from all potential enemies, those fences can be tunneled under, flown over, or blown up.

We need to keep working on the virtual fence because we are soon going to need it -- desperately, and in many, many places. Similarly, it's a darned good thing that we kept working on BMD, despite early failures of the components of the original Strategic Defense Initiative (particle-beam technology, railgun ground launchers, nuclear-powered pulse weapons)... because now we really, really need it for a completely unforseen adversary. Thank goodness we have it.

It's quite reasonable to argue that the virtual fence technology is not yet good enough to rely upon, so we need to build a physical barrier. But it's wrong -- one of those few actions that are always wrong -- to heap scorn upon a technological program because the early alpha-tests weren't entirely successful. Worse than wrong, it's foolish, Luddite, and short-sighted.

By all means, build the physical double-fencing along the southern border with Mexico; but don't delude yourselves that that's all we need. Or that we'll never need the virtual fence. Or even that we'll actually be able to build an effective physical fence everywhere that we need to stop people from coming... or even along the entire southern border itself.

The physical fence is a stopgap; we urgently need to do two things. As Caiaphas says in Jesus Christ Super Star, "We need a more permanent solution to our problem":

  1. Perfect the virtual-fence, smart-card, and employer verification technologies;
  2. Reform our own legal immigration system so that it is rational, just, and above all, predictable, to take the pressure of millions off the wall.

When law-abiding, eager-to-assimilate immigrants see a system that tells them what they need do to be granted residency or citizenship, they will follow the legal brick road. Contrariwise, if they see a system that arbitrarily excludes them, while welcoming much less assimilable immigrants with open arms, the pressure to just give up and sneak into the country, making a better life for their wives and chilren, becomes overwhelming.

(Imagine that you go through four or five years of university, passing all classes and tests; but at the end, somebody hands you a pair of dice... and you only get your diploma if you roll ten or higher.)

Until these two problems are solved, a physical fence is just a very wide target for bombs -- and bombast.

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, February 25, 2008, at the time of 10:09 PM | Comments (5) | TrackBack

February 20, 2008

Jobs for Jihadis!

Afghan Astonishments , Pakistan Perplexities , War Against Radical Islamism
Hatched by Dafydd

The AP headline: Religious Hard-Liners Out in Pakistan.

The story:

Fed up with violence and economic hardship, voters in the deeply conservative northwest have thrown out the Islamist parties that ruled this province for five years - a clear sign that Pakistanis are rejecting religious extremism in a region where al-Qaida and the Taliban have sought refuge. [Say... that sounds promising...]

Instead, voters in turbulent North West Frontier Province, which borders Afghanistan, gave their support to secular parties that promised to pave the streets, create jobs and bring peace through dialogue and economic incentives to the extremists.

...And that sounds about as effective as making little al-Qaeda dolls and sticking pins in them. Or electing Barack Obama.

The New York Times carries essentially the same message:

The winners of Pakistan’s parliamentary elections said Tuesday that they would take a new approach to fighting Islamic militants by pursuing more dialogue than military confrontation, and that they would undo the crackdown on the media and restore independence to the judiciary....

The two opposition parties share similar views of how to tackle the terrorism problem. The new approach is more likely to be responsive to the consensus of the Pakistani public than was Mr. Musharraf’s and is more likely to shun a heavy hand by the military and rely on dialogue with the militants.

Mr. Zardari [Asif Ali Zardari, widower of Benazir Bhutto and head of the PPP since her murder] said his party would seek talks with the militants in the tribal areas along the Afghan border, where the Taliban and Al Qaeda have carved out a stronghold, as well as with the nationalist militants who have battled the Pakistani Army in Baluchistan Province.

Alas, what the victors propose is not "a new approach;" it's the same old approach that has been used in Pakistan under the previous administrations of Bhutto and Sharif, is currently being used in European countries such as Denmark and the Netherlands, and is being pushed by the Democrats in the United States Congress -- and in particular by Barack Obama, favorite for the Democratic nomination for president, who wants to sit down and dialogue with Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. (Who I believe just said that Israel was a "filthy bacteria... lashing out... like a wild beast." And as George Orwell quotes, "the fascist octopus has sung its swan song.")

We even have a name for this strategy: Appeasement. But at least Neville Chamberlain never fantasized that appeasing Adolf Hitler would produce permanent peace... only "peace in our time."

A combination of trying to buy off al-Qaeda and the Taliban, coupled with the relegation of terrorism to a police problem, not enemy military action, has been tried repeatedly... and has produced one colossal failure after another. President Clinton's policy of policing and appeasing led directly to the 9/11 attacks, for a recent American example. It fails because it avoids the most fundamental and necessary strategy to combat Islamist terrorists: naming the enemy.

This is the perennial problem with Pakistan and other Islamic countries: Even more than the West, the ummah rejects the idea that the problem with hirabis is not that they're poor, downtrodden, or unemployed; their problem is that they are monstrously evil butchers whose vision of Islam demands constant human sacrifice. Militant Islamists are like a mutant hybrid of mullahs and Aztecs.

Naturally, the putative "new approach" of the winners in last Tuesday's Pakistan elections plays well in the elite media, because it plays into the Bush derangement syndrome that fevers their brains; and it also makes everything seem much less scary: They don't want to kill us because of who we are... they want to kill us because they don't have jobs! If we just get them jobs, feel their pain, reassure them that we love them, and dialogue with them, then all this scary stuff will just go away.

And besides: The enemies (Pakistani parliament leaders) of our enemy (President George W. Bush) must be our brothers. Back to AP:

That [the plan to "bring peace through dialogue and economic incentives to the extremists"] may conflict with U.S. pressure to step up the fight against armed militants linked to al-Qaida and the Taliban....

Five years ago, voters in this mostly Pashtun province -- many of them from the same ethnic group as the Afghan Taliban -- set off alarm bells in the U.S. when they elected a provincial government dominated by a coalition of pro-Taliban clerics -- the United Action Alliance.

The alliance rode to victory on the crest of public outrage over the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan, not only winning control of the North West Frontier but taking 12 percent of the vote in national parliament balloting as well.

See? It's all Bush's fault. If only we had listened to Sharon Stone, instead of the Israel lobby; if only, instead of invading Afghanistan after 9/11, we had chosen peace -- and offered the Taliban and al-Qaeda dialogue, understanding, and a jobs program. Possibly membership in NATO.

The election results are very mixed. There were two major winners: The Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP, headed until she was assassinated by Benazir Bhutto, the first head of state to formally recognize and heavily fund the Taliban), nor the Pakistan Muslim League (N) (PML-N, headed by the beloved protege of former Pakistan dictator General Zia, Nawaz Sharif). But neither could even crack the a third of the seats in the National Assembly; the PPP got 86 out of 268 seats (32%), and the PML-N got 66 (25%).

The Pakistan Muslim League (Q) -- the PML faction that supported Pervez Musharraf -- took only 38 of the 268 contested seats, for 14%. And "the remaining seats were divided among seven smaller parties and factions and 27 independent candidates," as the Times reports. (Ten seats are not yet decided.)

In addition, neither of the winning parties has a successful track record. From the Times:

But Mr. Zardari and Mr. Sharif have reasons to bear grudges. Mr. Zardari, who returned from exile only after Ms. Bhutto’s death, spent eight years in prison on murder and corruption charges under the government of Mr. Sharif. Mr. Musharraf was army chief at the time.

Mr. Sharif was thrown out of the government in 1999 by Mr. Musharraf, who mounted a coup and arrested and then exiled him. Many Pakistanis agree that the governments of Ms. Bhutto and Mr. Sharif did not distinguish themselves. Both were ridden with corruption.

But I believe there is real hope here, though not in the way that the drive-by media fantasize. See if this reminds you of anything:

Powerless to stop the militants, local police stood by as tribal leaders opposed to the Taliban were assassinated and owners of video and music stores received threats to close their businesses or face death.

"They made false promises. They said they would give us education, food and jobs but they didn't give us anything. They were all lies," said retired soldier Mohammed Akram Shah. "I am from a village of more than 30 homes and we don't have any electricity even after five years."

As I read this, I see the nascent beginnings of a Pakistan Salvation Council. I don't know if it will be born, but the sperm (the staggering arrogance and murderous hatred of the militant Islamists) and egg (more than five years of Pakistans in the tribal areas having to live under the brutal jacksandal of Taliban/al-Qaeda rule) have merged, and the anger of the people indicates we're at least at the blastocyst phase, if not yet a full-blown embryo.

As Pakistan is still a Democracy, gestation of a Pakistan Salvation Council would likely take the form of a political party, rather than a militia. But if the Moslem terrorists respond as they always have before -- murderously -- then the party will likely metamorphose into an armed political movement. But clearly, the people of Pakistan are fed up to the eyelids with living under terrorist rule... but also by the feeble, half-hearted military tactics of Musharraf's army, which is strong enough to rile the terrorists but not enough to destroy them, cripple them, or drive them out. It's been a "lite" version of the American strategy in Iraq prior to the arrival of Gen. David Petraeus.

So on the whole, I'm pleased by the vote. Not because it's the right solution -- it isn't -- but because it indicates that Pakistanis are groping for a way to boot the militant Moslems. They recognize that what Musharraf was doing wasn't working; they're somewhat willing to give the PPP and the PML-N a second chance (but not particularly persuaded that they're going to succeed)... and I think they're going to start edging closer to the solution that has worked throughout Iraq and that is starting to appear in Afghanistan: Sunni tribesmen themselves rising up against the slaughterhouse-rule of al-Qaeda and the Taliban and recapturing Islam from the Baal worshippers who have declared themselves beyond any judgment but their own.

Islam has gone through periods of horrific expansionist violence against the West and times of relative peace. We're currently in one of the former; but ordinary Moslems around the globe have the power -- and increasingly the will -- to wrench Islam back to the latter.

The rise of salvation councils à la Iraq is exactly what we mean when we call for a more "moderate" Islam.

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, February 20, 2008, at the time of 4:44 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

February 5, 2008

Al-Qaeda "Movin' On Out?"

Afghan Astonishments , Pakistan Perplexities , Terrorism Intelligence , War Against Radical Islamism
Hatched by Dafydd

According to prepared testimony delivered by Director of National Intelligence Michael McConnell to the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence -- chaired, oxymoronically enough, by Sen. John D. Rockefeller IVth (D-WV, 60%) -- al-Qaeda has largely been thwarted in their attempts to launch attacks in Iraq; so they are focusing on conducting future operations from the "lawless" regions of Pakistan along the Afghanistan border. But they are still aggressively pursuing a strategy of carrying out major attack on the West, and have indeed tried several already (which we and our allies shut down):

Last summer, for example, with our allies, we unraveled terrorist plots linked to al-Qa’ida and its associates in Denmark and Germany.... The death last week of Abu Layth al-Libi, al-Qa'ida’s charismatic senior military commander and a key link between al-Qa’ida and its affiliates in North Africa, is the most serious blow to the group’s top leadership since the December 2005 death of then external operations chief Hamza Rabi’a.

Al-Qa’ida in Iraq (AQI) suffered major setbacks last year, although it still is capable of mounting lethal attacks. Hundreds of AQI leadership, operational, media, financial, logistical, weapons, and foreign fighter facilitator cadre have been killed or captured. With much of the Sunni population turning against AQI, its maneuver room and ability to operate have been severely constrained. AQI’s attack tempo, as measured by numbers of suicide attacks, had dropped by more than half by year’s end after approaching all time highs in early 2007. We see indications that al-Qa’ida’s global image is beginning to lose some of its luster; nonetheless, we still face multifaceted terrorist threats.

Unfortunately, they are also making progress towards once again being able to attack the United States directly:

Al-Qa’ida’s central leadership based in the border area of Pakistan is its most dangerous component. Last July, we published a National Intelligence Estimate titled, "The Terrorist Threat to the US Homeland," which assessed that al-Qa’ida’s central leadership in the past two years has been able to regenerate the core operational capabilities needed to conduct attacks in the Homeland.

In particular, here are McConnell's concerns:

  • That "Al-Qa’ida has been able to retain a safehaven in Pakistan’s Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA)." It's not as large or secure as the one that used to be in Afghanistan; but it can be used for training purposes and as a platform whence to stage attacks "in Pakistan, the Middle East, Africa, Europe and the United States."
  • They have managed to maintain a cadre of somewhat skilled lieutenants and operations officers in the Pakistan border region.
  • And they have managed to recruit a number of Westerners to their Pakistan safe haven to carry out major attacks on the West.

One very positive note from the DNI:

AQI tactics, tradecraft, and techniques are transmitted on the Internet, but AQI documents captured in Iraq suggest that fewer than 100 AQI terrorists have moved from Iraq to establish cells in other countries.

So the spirit is willing, but the investment of flesh is weak.

Also, interestingly enough, it appears that, like Dr. Frank-N-Furter, AQI's mission is a failure, their lifestyle's too extreme: Numerous religious leaders formerly associated with al-Qaeda have begun denouncing them and their violence (against Moslems, that is); and fewer unconnected terrorist groups and extremists see AQ, or especially AQI, as the model for their own hirabah (unholy war).

I think it increasingly clear that the current situation in Pakistan is unacceptable: Americans can go up to but not across the border between Afghanistan and Pakisan, while President Pervez Musharraf pledges to crack down on the militants in Waziristan and Balochistan and then breaks his pledge. (Whether out of mendacity or simple inability to make headway against the Taliban and al-Qaeda and their supporters is irrelevant.) We must either negotiate a new arrangement with Musharraf -- or else implement one in spite of him.

Later, speaking abour Iran's WMD programs, Mike McConnell clarifies some of the conclusions of the infamous National Intelligence Estimate that said Iran had stopped its nuclear program. What the NIE actually meant, says the Director of National Intelligence is:

  • Iran stopped "warhead design and weaponization" and covert attempts to enrich uranium;
  • They have not stopped declared programs to enrich uranium (perhaps even weaponizing it);
  • And they have actually accelerated their ballistic-missile program, closing in on being able to fire a missile from Iran and hit targets in the United States mainland.

About the other elements of Iran's WMD program:

We know that Tehran had a chemical warfare program prior to 1997, when it declared elements of its program. We assess that Tehran maintains dual-use facilities intended to produce CW agent in times of need [sound familiar...? -DaH] and conducts research that may have offensive applications. We assess Iran maintains a capability to weaponize CW agents in a variety of delivery systems.

We assess that Iran has previously conducted offensive BW [biological warfare] agent research and development. Iran continues to seek dual-use technologies that could be used for biological warfare.

Finally, McConnell noted that, like Iraq, the Afghan army is growing slowly and becoming more and more effective; while the Afghan National Police has grown more quickly -- but "corruption, insufficient training and equipment, and absenteeism hamper their effectiveness."

McConnell concluded on a hopeful (if not Pollyannic) note:

I, my colleagues, and the Intelligence Community we represent are fully committed to arming our policymakers, warfighters, and law enforcement officers with the best intelligence and analytic insight we can. This is necessary to enable them to take the actions and make the decisions that will protect American lives and American interests, here and around the world.

Considering that the Senate I-Com, the very body that DNI Mike McConnell was addressing, now sports such stalwarts of the aggressive collection and distribution of intelligence as Sens. Barbara Mikulski (D-MD, 100%), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI, not yet rated), Russell Feingold (D-WI, 100%), and Dianne "DiFi" Feinstein (D-CA, 90%) -- not to mention their Republican counterparts, including Sens. Chuck Hagel (NE, 75%), John Warner (VA, 64%) (for the rest of this year), and Olympia Snowe (ME, 36%) -- the idea that they will make any decision or take any actions at all about anything significant is charming... but about as realistic as the idea that Ron Paul would aggressively pursue the war against global hirabah.

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, February 5, 2008, at the time of 11:51 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

January 21, 2008

Petraeus, Shmetraeus; the Real Question Is - Who's Next?

Afghan Astonishments , Iraq Matters , Military Machinations , War Against Radical Islamism
Hatched by Dafydd

The New York Times carries the vaguely interesting speculation (whic barely even qualifies as news) that top Pentagon brass are trying to decide what to do with Gen. David Petraeus for his next assignment. The choices seem to be:

  • Commander of NATO, which would give him a strong say in what we do in Afghanistan, where our combat mission is led by American NATO troops;
  • Commander of CENTCOM, which would give him an even stronger say, assuming someone can figure out where to stick Adm. William Fallon. Fallon seems to be doing a bang-up job as CENTCOM commander right now and has said that rumors of his death or imminent retirement are greatly exaggerated.

The idea seems to be for President George W. Bush to give Petraeus an appointment and confirmation before leaving office a year from yesterday. If the administration does not, and if a Democrat wins the presidency, the incoming POTUS will surely do everything he can to sabotage Petraeus' career -- taking petty revenge against him for the crime of rejecting the Pelosi-Reid conclusion that we've already lost the Iraq war... and worse, being proven right!

But if Petraeus can serve a term in a less politically charged job (especially as NATO commander), goes this reasoning, then maybe President Hillary (or President Mike, President Barack, President John, President John, President Mitt, President Fred, or Citoyen Ron) will consider kicking him upstairs to Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff -- a gold watch and a window seat.

I don't know. I don't care. He should stay in Iraq as long as possible, then be moved somewhere he can continue to fight... or perhaps train others to fight. I'm far more interested in the question, who will succeed Petraeus as Commander of Multinational Force - Iraq (MNF-I)?

Here, the Times again channels its beloved anonymous sources:

If General Petraeus is shifted from the post as top Iraq commander, two leading candidates to replace him are Lt. Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal, who is running the classified Special Operations activities in Iraq, and Lt. Gen. Peter W. Chiarelli, a former second-ranking commander in Iraq and Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates’s senior military assistant....

Of the potential successors for General Petraeus, Generals McChrystal and Chiarelli would bring contrasting styles and backgrounds to the fight. General McChrystal has spent much of his career in the Special Operations forces. He commands those forces in Iraq, which have conducted raids against Al Qaeda in Mesopotamia, the mainly Iraqi group that American intelligence says has foreign leadership, and against Shiite extremists, including cells believed to be backed by Iran....

General McChrystal, a 53-year-old West Point graduate, also commanded the 75th Ranger Regiment and served tours in Saudi Arabia during the Persian Gulf war in 1991 and in Afghanistan as chief of staff of the military operation there in 2001 and 2002....

General Chiarelli’s strengths rest heavily on his reputation as one of the most outspoken proponents of a counterinsurgency strategy that gives equal or greater weight to social and economic actions aimed at undermining the enemy as it does to force of arms. General Chiarelli, 57, has served two tours in Iraq, first as head of the First Calvary Division, where he commanded 38,000 troops in securing and rebuilding Baghdad, and later as the second-ranking American officer in Iraq before becoming the senior military aide to Mr. Gates.

In a 2007 essay in Military Review, he wrote: “Unless and until there is a significant reorganization of the U.S. government interagency capabilities, the military is going to be the nation’s instrument of choice in nation-building. We need to accept that reality instead of resisting it, as we have for much of my career.”

There are times in a nation's life when its future lies in the balance, and it is within the power of men to turn the tide of history in one direction -- or the other. In this case, the choice of a successor for Gen. Petraeus appears to leave us with two stark directions:

  • If McChrystal is selected, then we have turned towards a policy of clandestine warfare whose only function is to destroy the enemy's will and ability to fight against our interests; this, to my mind, is to return to the cold war strategy of yesteryear, though against a different foe.
  • But if Chiarelli is chosen instead, we will have turned instead towards a policy of undermining the enemy by denying him the fertile breeding ground of political and legal chaos, resentment, fanaticism, hopelessness, and futility that attends failed states. We will be firmly on the path of nation-building.

I believe the latter would infuriate most conservatives... and I believe it essential that we follow that path nevertheless.

I harken back to the seminal book the Pentagon's New Map, by Thomas P.M. Barnett. Barnett's genius was to recognize that virtually all threats to the United States and our interests came from a narrow swath cut through the middle of the map. The Pentagon had long called this jagged cancer in the world body the "arc of instability;" but Barnett realized it was something more profound: It largely comprises those nations that stubbornly refuses to integrate with the rest of the world's politics, economics, and communications net.

Not that the Non-Integrating Gap (as Barnett calls it) is bereft of political organization; factions are constantly maneuvering to bind all the world's disgruntled postal workers into a single, globe-girdling caliphate... that is, groups like al-Qaeda and countries like Iran engage in the ceaseless struggle of nation-building; but the "nation" they're trying to build is one that offers neither friendship nor a place at the table for us.

Turning to our Special Forces, not simply as tools but as the sharp end of our foreign policy, means abandoning the nation-building field to militant Islamism. You can't beat something with nothing: AQ and the mad mullahs offer something: stability under their rule. If we offer nothing but dark-of-night strikes on people, places, or things that piss us off, then we can never win this war.

Rather, it's absolutely essential that we offer a creative, constructive plan to drain the fever swamps that breed bin Ladens and Mezba-Yazdis and build something functioning in its place; otherwise, we may as well resign ourselves to a generational, existential war that we jolly well may lose.

We cannot simply frighten hirabis into quiessence by clandestine ops and air strikes. We're talking about people for whom, as Cal Thomas put it, "death is a promotion." If hirabis eagerly look forward to dying in order to kill us, how do we "deter" them? Besides, they're not even rational actors, and there is no central caliphate command that can surrender to us.

Gen. Petraeus succeeded because instead of just more killing, he gave the Iraqis a "tomorrow." After tearing down the insurgency, he built something better in its place. He protected the civilian population, helped strengthen the rule of law in Iraq, coordinated the "rebuilding" of that shattered state, made military service a respected career choice for Iraqis for the first time since the Baath Party took over, and in general, spread hope that out of the ashes of Saddam's putative empire, Iraqis could grow the green shoots of normalcy.

We need to follow up with another commander who has the same far-reaching worldview as David Petraeus... not just another Special-Ops marauder who can destroy but cannot build.

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, January 21, 2008, at the time of 7:07 AM | Comments (8) | TrackBack

December 20, 2007

Today's Huckalunacy: Back to the Future? No, Forward to the Past!

Afghan Astonishments , Elections , Iraq Matters , Military Machinations , War Against Radical Islamism
Hatched by Dafydd

Some evangelicals, such as Lee Harris at TCS (Technology, Commerce, Society) Daily, passionately believe that conservatives (and even non-conservatives such as myself) who say bad things about Mike Huckabee's campaign for the presidency, are simply haters who despise religious people. We spend our time nitpicking every word that Huckabee utters, find absurd conspiracies (such as the "floating cross" in his Christmas TV ad that was actually a reflection off his bookshelves), and even fabricate supposed faux pas out of thin air. We are the polar opposites of those believers who see Jesus in a tortilla and the Virgin Mary in a rock formation.

Not so! In fact, I knew absolutely nothing about Huckabee until I began to hear his own words. I have assumed from the git go that he is no more or less religious than that other evangelical, born-again Christian who currently occupies 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. And everything I have attacked about Huckabee's campaign has been based upon his own words, either spoken, or in the case of his Foreign Affairs article on his deep, surethoughted foreign policy, written after careful pondering and the hiring of a skillful ghostwriter... thus all, one presumes, the considered position of Gov. Mike Huckabee himself.

So I feel no guilt for bringing to your eyes what I just heard with my own ears, on just about the most friendly venue Huckabee can possibly get: the Michael Medved show, a one-on-one conversation with a pal who has pulled out all the stops to turn his show into a virtual daily campaign spot for Gov. Huckabee.

Today, Medved began by asking Huckabee about the section of his article where he says he wants to build up the military much more rapidly than President Bush is doing. As a reminder, this is what Huckabee wrote, or at least put his name to; I include annotations from myself:

The Bush administration plans to increase the size of the U.S. Army and the Marine Corps by about 92,000 troops over the next five years. We can and must do this in two to three years. [Considering that the president has just barely met his own expansion rate, how exactly does Huckabee plan to double it? Care to tell us?] I recognize the challenges of increasing our enlistments without lowering standards and of expanding training facilities and personnel, and that is one of the reasons why we must increase our military budget. [How would increasing our DoD budget cause recruits to magically appear -- and to magically get 4-5 years of training in 2-3 years?] Right now, we spend about 3.9 percent of our GDP on defense, compared with about six percent in 1986, under President Ronald Reagan. [At the peak of the Cold War.] We need to return to that six percent level. [So he wants to add another $240 billion per year to the DoD budget... if he has a plan for getting Congress to vote this -- without a staggering tax increase -- does he care to share?] And we must stop using active-duty forces for nation building and return to our policy of using other government agencies to build schools, hospitals, roads, sewage treatment plants, water filtration systems, electrical facilities, and legal and banking systems. [That would be a great idea, if we could recreate the Foreign Office of the British Empire; but when has America done such a thing in the middle of a war? The Marshall Plan came after Germany was utterly razed.] We must marshal the goodwill, ingenuity, and power of our governmental and nongovernmental organizations in coordinating and implementing these essential nonmilitary functions.

If I ever have to undertake a large invasion, I will follow the Powell Doctrine and use overwhelming force. [A force that took months and months to settle in the friendly country of Kuwait -- which had just been invaded by Iraq, thus was willing to allow us to do so. Which country in the Middle East would have been willing to make itself a target over a six-month period prior to launching our own invasion of Iraq?] The notion of an occupation with a "light footprint," which was our model for Iraq, is a contradiction in terms. [Oddly, though, it seemed to work -- as even Gov. Huckabee admits a couple of sentences later.] Liberating a country and occupying it are two different missions. Our invasion of Iraq went well militarily, but the occupation has destroyed the country politically, economically, and socially. [Destroyed it? It appears to be doing significantly better by many measures than it was under Saddam Hussein.] In the former Yugoslavia, we sent 20 peacekeeping soldiers for every thousand civilians. [And say, that's worked out well, hasn't it!] In Iraq, an equivalent ratio would have meant sending a force of 450,000 U.S. troops. [Great leaping horny toads. And where were we to get the extra 200,000+ troops? Can Huckabee the Great conjure 20 divisions out of his hat?] Unlike President George W. Bush, who marginalized General Eric Shinseki, the former army chief of staff, when he recommended sending several hundred thousand troops to Iraq, I would have met with Shinseki privately and carefully weighed his advice. [Before or after he publicly smeared you with his "advice" at a Congressional hearing?] Our generals must be independent advisers, always free to speak without fear of retribution or dismissal. [Where "our generals" includes Eric Shinseki, but not, evidently, Tommy Franks.]

Look at that -- lots of attacks on Huckabee's ideas, yet not a single reference to "knuckle-dragging evanvgelicals" or "protofascist Christian theocrats!"

But Gov. Huckabee's military naïveté is perfectly encapsulated by a pithy, sententious aphorism he just delivered on the show, which is what spurred me to write this post. Here is what he said -- transcript from my own memory (but as you'll see, it would be hard to get this wrong):

Donald Rumsfeld famously said, "You don't go to war with the Army you'd like; you go to war with the Army you have." But I say, you don't go to war with the Army you have... you go to war with the Army you need. And you don't go to war until you have the Army you need!

(Actually, what Rumsfeld said was "As you know, you go to war with the Army you have. They’re not the Army you might want or wish to have at a later time." But Huckabee's paraphrase is near enough to the meaning.)

Think about that for a moment. How many things are wrong with that sentiment?

  1. How do you calculate "the Army you need?"

    Huckabee would use the Powell Doctrine -- where we essentially refight World War II in every military conflict we undertake. The Gulf War was a classic force-on-force confrontation not that different from Patton's North Africa campaign or the Battle of the Bulge. But wars in the future will not much resemble those of the 20th century; and if we're still trying to fight campaigns against agile, assymetrical insurgents with the bigfooted approach of a Colin Powell -- well, look at our Iraq tactics of 2005-2006 and how effective they were.

    And for how many years could we have supported that size of a force in Iraq, by the way?

  2. How long do you wait to go to war, trying to raise the Army you think you need under the Powell Doctrine?

    When Colin Powell fought the Gulf War, he had the advantage of the Reagan Army build-up already under his belt. I understand that Huckabee wants to build up our armed forces; but he's still only talking about another 92,000 troops -- in three years. But he now says we should have used 450,000 soldiers in Iraq, which is more than 200,000 more than we used. So should we have waited six years to attack Iraq?

    What kind of WMD would Saddam Hussein have had by now, had we done nothing for the last six years?

  3. Where exactly would Huckabee have staged an Allied Expeditionary Force of near half a million? Turkey? Kuwait? Iran? Has the governor even thought this through? Which Moslem country was going to allow us to build up such a massive force of crusading Christians on its territory, in the era of Osama bin Laden and al-Qaeda?
  4. Perhaps Huckabee is covertly saying he wouldn't have invaded Iraq at all; that like President Clinton, he would have been content with occasional bombing runs to "keep Saddam Hussein in his box." And when the sanctions regime collapsed under the weight of the UN's Oil for Fraud bribery scheme, we would have grimly watched -- while building our mighty, Cold-War sized Army -- as Hussein rebuilt his entire arsenal of chemical and biological weaponry.

    (Which, by the way, he might have used against neighboring civilian populations or even his own people, rather than against our soldiers... and the civilian death toll could have been much, much higher... even as high as the ludicrous Lancet guesstimate of 655,000 deaths, or the even more risible Opinion Research claim of 1.2 million.)

    If that is what Huckabee is saying, I wish he would just straightforwardly make that case, so we could confront his arguments... instead of advocating policies that would force us down that road, willy nilly, in future.

  5. And what if our goal to add another 20-30 divisions were delayed indefinitely by a Congress unwilling to increase the military budget by 65%? How long do we wait before going to war... not just in Iraq, but anywhere?

    Years? Decades? Never? But even Huckabee admits that "our invasion of Iraq went well militarily."

    It seems he would preferentially never invade anywhere at all if he couldn't get enough troops to do it more or less like Operation Overlord on D-Day. This is like the king who had the largest army in Europe -- but would never fight for fear of "breaking" it.

Pace, Lee Harris, but this is why so many Republicans don't think much of "President" Mike Huckabee. Those of us who are not captive to the identity-politics of evangelism realize that electing yet another naïve Arkansas governor with no foreign policy experience to the White House is probably a bad idea during an existential war against global hirabah. Heck, the first was bad enough during the American vacation from history!

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, December 20, 2007, at the time of 1:37 PM | Comments (17) | TrackBack

November 6, 2007

Another "Wedding Party"... Well, Not Quite

Afghan Astonishments , Media Madness
Hatched by Sachi

During a bulletin-board discussion the other day, a poster argued that whenever I talk about Taliban deaths, I ignore civilian casualties. "How do you know those were all Taliban?" he demanded; "they might all be civilians that we killed by mistake!"

I at once thought of the most effective -- and most fraudulent -- journalistic attack on Coalition forces in Iraq in 2004: the infamous "wedding party massacre". Power Line quotes from the Belmont Club:

Why was a wedding party in full swing at 02:45 am in the middle of the desert? A glance at the map would show the area in which the wedding took place was 250 kilometers from "Dr. Salah al-Ani, who works at a hospital in Ramadi," and who "put the death toll at 45." A long way to go for medical treatment or burial when Qusabayah is 50 kilometers away. Under normal circumstances, there are two wounded for every dead. By the normal ratios there should have been at least 90 injured. There was a videotape "showing a truck containing bodies of people who were allegedly killed in the incident. Most of the bodies were wrapped in blankets and other cloths, but the footage showed at least eight uncovered, bloody bodies, several of them children. One of the children was headless." A video of the dead, but where were the wounded?...

The scene in the desert included the now-infamous "immaculate instruments": An AP photograph of one spot of carnage showed some slightly damaged musical instruments lying on the ground. The photo was used to "prove" that the target really was just a wedding celebration, as the local villagers claimed, rather than a group of al-Qaeda fighters, as our military reported.

Yet an earlier photo taken of the exact, same spot showed no such instruments. Did they appear by magic, or were they planted after the fact? And if the latter -- what did AP know, and when did they know it?

There are so many incongruities in the "wedding party massacre" story that the only logical conclusion is that we, in fact, hit a gathering of al-Qaeda fighters, as the American military still insists. But al-Qaeda supporters swiftly collaborated with Iraqi Sunnis who had a direct feed to American news services such as AP and the New York Times -- perhaps those agencies' Iraqi stringers themselves -- and they spun the story to make us look like monsters. The elite media were only too happy to cooperate; there was a war on, recall... the war for the White House in the November, 2004 elections.

Fast-forward to Afghanistan last month. The same odious technique of simply accepting the word of interested, anti-American parties in preference to the word of the American military was the tactic du jour in this recent 60 Minutes piece, dissected by News Busters:

In a segment on Sunday’s "60 Minutes," anchor Scott Pelley described how "The enemy has killed hundreds of civilians this year, but surprisingly, almost the same number of civilians have been killed by American and allied forces." Pelley focused on U.S. air strikes citing a statistic from the liberal group Human Rights Watch: "So far this year, 17 air strikes have killed more than 270 civilians, according to the humanitarian organization Human Rights Watch.".

Now, I don't know if the Allies' air strikes have killed more civilians than the Taliban's direct attacks, though I do find Human Rights Watch's number rather suspicious. However, even if that claim is true, it changes nothing: The deaths are still the responsibility of the Taliban. Dafydd argued this point back in July:

When NATO drops bombs on Taliban and al-Qaeda fighters who are shooting at NATO or Afghan troops, and some civilians are killed -- who would you say "caused" those civilians to die: NATO or the insurgents?

The answer is the insurgents... because absent their incessant attacks, murders, and random use of explosives, we wouldn't be shooting at them in the first place; and the civilians wouldn't have died.

But Pelley digs his hole even deeper. He claims that NATO airstrikes often hit totally innocent houses, killing totally innocent people. From the transcript of the show:

Our journey took us through Afghanistan up the Shomali plain, north of the capital, Kabul. The Taliban are active here, so we hired Panjshiri mercenaries to cover our trip. The scene of the air strike is a village in the hills above Kapisa Province. We found the dead buried in a cornfield. There were no enemy combatants. It was four generations of one family, all killed in the air strike: An 85-year-old man, four women and four children, ranging in age from five years to seven months. One boy (Mujib) survived...

That's terrible! NATO attacked "four generations" of women, children, and senior citizens for no reason at all. But wait; as is usually the case, there actually is more to this story:

Mujib's father was not there. He's accused of being a local Taliban leader. The U.S. Has been searching for him, with no luck. The air strike came the night of March the 4th. An Army press release says it started after enemy forces fired a rocket at this U.S. Base above the village. The rocket fell, causing no coalition casualties; in fact, missing the fire base altogether. Then U.S. pilots saw two men with AK-47 rifles leaving the scene of the rocket attack and entering a compound in the village. The fort, which is on the hill over there, began raining down mortar fire on this location, mortar fire that came down for about an hour. It was night time, and even though there were no U.S. forces in contact with the enemy on the ground, a decision was made after the mortars to call in an air strike. U.S. Air force aircraft dropped two bombs on this neighborhood, each one weighing 2,000 pounds. This is what it looks like when a ton of high explosives hits a house made of mud. The bombs hit their intended targets. But when the smoke cleared, there were no men with rifles, just Mujib's family.

Who, specifically, told Pelly that "there were no men with rifles?" Likely the same villagers who told him that there were no Taliban in the village, when in fact there were "enemy forces" shooting at us.

If Mujib's father is "a local Taliban leader," then Mujib's family is Taliban. If the local Taliban leader lives openly in this village, then the village itself is Taliban as well. So why is Pelly so shocked to hear that these Taliban villagers hate Americans just as much (or even more) than they hated the Soviets?

These Afghans, like many others, are trying to decide whether to support the U.S. backed government. We expected anger, but we didn't expect this.

Pelly (talking to a villager) You can't be saying that the Soviets were kinder to your people than the Americans have been.

UNKNOWN MAN B( Translated ): We used to hate the Russians much more than Americans. But now when we see all this happening, I am telling you Russians behaved much better than the Americans.

Yes; the Russians had the good manners to lose. Of course the Taliban today hate Americans more than Russians: They kicked the Russians' rears -- but the Americans are kicking theirs.

So this is the same old story... another "wedding party massacre," this time in Afghanistan; and once again, the American elite media prefers to believe, not our own military, but Taliban-supporting villagers, about whom the only thing we really know is that they hate Americans.

There is nothing new under the sun.

Hatched by Sachi on this day, November 6, 2007, at the time of 6:35 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

September 24, 2007

Cindy Sheehan's Day of Out-of-Tunement Manifesto

Afghan Astonishments , Asquirmative Action , Dhimmi of the Month , Domestic Terrorism , Drama Kings and Queens , Econ. 101 , Enviro-Mental Cases , Hippy Dippy Peacenik Groove , History of Moral Philosophy , Illiberal Liberalism , Impeachment Imbecilities , Iraq Matters , Kriminal Konspiracies , Liberal Lunacy , Logical Lacunae , News of the Weird , Palestinian Perils and Pratfalls , Politics 101 , Scurrilous Scribblings , Terrorism Intelligence , Unnatural Disasters , Unuseful Idiots
Hatched by Dafydd

I rarely do this, as you know: I rarely link to some piece and say simply "read this." (I'm too in love with the sound of my own fingers typing on a keyboard.)

But here's an exception. Read Cindy Sheehan's Yom Kippur "sermon," delivered at Michael Lerner's Beyt Tikkun "synogogue;" you will be -- if not exactly glad, then at least agape. (Rabbi Lerner is Hillary Clinton's mentor, author of the Politics of Meaning and other works of Socialist agit-prop masquerading as theology.)

My response (I love this) is entirely contained in the list of categories I had to attach to this post.

(Well, one more thing. It has always been my understanding that Yom Kippur, the Jewish Day of Atonement, is a day for each person to atone for what he, personally, has done wrong -- not "atone" for his enemies failing to live up to his own lofty standards, apologize for all the times America hasn't followed his lead, or wallow in self-righteous indignation that nobody listens to him. 'Nuff said; read the list of categories above.)

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, September 24, 2007, at the time of 2:36 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

September 10, 2007

The Surge That Never Was - the Setback That Was Never Set

Afghan Astonishments , Good News! , Media Madness
Hatched by Sachi

The scare headline in the New York Times: Afghan Police Suffer Setbacks as Taliban Adapt.

Over the past six weeks, the Taliban have driven government forces out of roughly half of a strategic area in southern Afghanistan that American and NATO officials declared a success story last fall in their campaign to clear out insurgents and make way for development programs, Afghan officials say.

Curious about this bizarre claim -- everyone else says the Taliban have been thwarted in their attempt to "surge" this summer -- I pored over the story; and I was not shocked to discover it to be one of those articles where good news is disguised as bad. Within the maze of meandering maundering, I dug out some very hopeful news indeed...

The setback is part of a bloody stalemate that has occurred between NATO troops and Taliban fighters across southern Afghanistan this summer. NATO and Afghan Army soldiers can push the Taliban out of rural areas, but the Afghan police are too weak to hold the territory after they withdraw. At the same time, the Taliban are unable to take large towns and have generally mounted fewer suicide bomb attacks in southern cities than they did last summer.

The Panjwai and Zhare districts, in particular, highlight the changing nature of the fight in the south. The military operation there in September 2006 was the largest conventional battle in the country since 2002. But this year, the Taliban are avoiding set battles with NATO and instead are attacking the police and stepping up their use of roadside bombs, known as improvised explosive devices or I.E.D.’s.

“It’s very seldom that we have direct engagement with the Taliban,” said Brig. Gen. Guy Laroche, the commander of Canadian forces leading the NATO effort in Kandahar. “What they’re going to use is I.E.D.’s.”

Three main points may be extracted from these few paragraphs. First, the shrinking scope of the Taliban "resistance":

  • They're no longer able to seize cities where NATO and Afghan forces operate; instead, they must resort to attacking poorly manned, remote police depots.
  • Nor can they any longer engage in large scale military assaults; they're forced to ape al-Qaeda terrorist attacks.

Second, the shrinking number of forces they can field for any purpose, which is masked by that disinformational phrase "bloody stalemate." By "bloody stalemate" (at least they didn't say "quagmire!"), the Times means a series of engagements that resulted in 646 Taliban deaths and 83 captures this summer, including such big names as Mullah Dadullah, Mullah Berader, and Mullar Akhatar Usamani, according to a number of articles on the Fourth Rail.

And third, the Taliban's loss of focus. Once a fighting movement that fielded an army (and actually ran the country), they have steadily defined their modus operandi downward, adopting the kind of intimidation tactics against ordinary Afghans that al-Qaeda famously began applying to Sunni in Anbar province... and which gave rise to the Anbar Salvation Council and led directly to AQ being driven out of Anbar, Salahuddin, and Baghdad like Jesus beating the money-changers out of the Temple:

Reported security incidents, a broad category that includes bombings, firefights and intimidation, are up from roughly 500 a month last year to 600 a month this year, a 20 percent increase, according to the United Nations.

This is another uninformative paragraph from the Times; just what does "intimidation" mean? It appears to be criminal thuggishness -- not as the Taliban used to practice, when it controlled most of Afghanistan, but more like the tactics of the Yakuza in Japan, the Mafia in Italy and the United States, or gangs of teenagers and "youths" around the world. And about this "20 percent increase"... How much of the increase is from more bombings (bombing attacks are down, says the Times above), firefights (also down since 2006, per paragraphs above)... and how much is attributable solely to more "intimidation?"

In other words, what was once an actual military has degenerated into a low-rent protection racket and kidnapping scheme.

The Times continues the "bad news": The Taliban have managed to kill more civilians and NATO and Afghan forces than last year:

The rising attacks are taking a heavy toll. At least 2,500 to 3,000 people have died in insurgency-related violence so far this year, a quarter of them civilians, according to the United Nations tally, a 20 percent increase over 2006. [Note the neutral term "people;" keep reading for a breakdown, using the Times' own figures.]

NATO and American fatality rates are up by about 20 percent this year, to 161, according to Iraq Casualty Count, a Web site that tracks deaths in Iraq and Afghanistan [Mathematically, that means there were 134 at this point last year, so it's an increase of 27 NATO and Afghan fatalities combined]. The Afghan police continue to be devastated by Taliban bombings and guerrilla strikes, with 379 killed so far this year, compared with 257 for all of last year.

But notice the missing statistic: How many Taliban were killed?

Using the Times' own stats and a little mathemagical manipulation, we find that among the 3,000 dead "people":

  • 750 (25%) were civilians;
  • 161 were NATO or Afghan troops;
  • And 379 were policemen.
  • That leaves 1,710 unaccounted deaths... I wonder who they could be?

But even this number of enemy dead is too low, according to the Associated Press:

More than 4,200 people -- most of them insurgents -- have been killed so far this year, according to an Associated Press count. [There's that word "people" again.]

Remember, last year, NATO forces killed over 3,000 Taliban, an average monthly rate of 250. If AP's number is correct, and the percent of true "civilian" vs. Taliban casualty rate is accurate, and if icasualty's number for NATO troops and Afghan police deaths are all correct... then the number of Taliban killed or captured this year is 2,460, an expanded rate of 307 bad guys per month. That's 23% higher than last year, for the math-impaired. More bad news!

If this keeps up, by the end of the year, we will have removed nearly 3,700 Taliban from the fight. How long do we suppose they can keep this up? As they are seen more and more as the "weak horse" (or the kind of dog that Michael Vick would... well, you know), will it become easier or harder for the Taliban to recruit?

It's true that the Taliban now resorts more to intimidation and terrorist tactics; but that's because they can no longer attack us with a conventional military force. This is the exactly the falling trajectory one would expect an ousted "movement" to follow: from rulers to an insurgency to terrorists; the next step down is a simple criminal gang -- and that's the level where we can leave the policing to the Afghans, once we've trained them at least up to the level of an American police force.

As I wrote in February in the Big Lizards post linked above:

When the Taliban actually stand and fight (which they do often), they are humiliatingly routed; this happens time and again. I heard the Taliban are now considering an al-Qaeda type of "insurgency" against the NATO forces. I'm sure they'll try anything; but if 2006 is any indication, they will fail.

And they have... "big time," as a certain quail hunter said about a certain newsman.

Hatched by Sachi on this day, September 10, 2007, at the time of 3:39 AM | Comments (5) | TrackBack

August 30, 2007

Next Time, Listen to Your Mother

Afghan Astonishments , Opinions: Nasty, Brutish, and Shortsighted
Hatched by Dafydd

When I was a little lizardine growing up in Southern California, my mother had three pieces of advice that she trotted out on every appropriate occasion -- and several that were wildly inappropriate... but that's a tail of a different reptile. Mom said:

  1. Never show your cards unless called;
  2. Trust but verify;
  3. Never cut a deal with terrorist hostage-takers.

Sadly, the entire western world has now found out why #3 was so urgent...

Taliban militants released the last seven South Korean hostages on Thursday under a deal with the government in Seoul, ending a six-week drama that the insurgents claimed as a "great victory for our holy warriors."

We know very little about the deal; South Korea evidently promised to pull its 200 troops out of Afghanistan on schedule, and also (this part is vague) "vowed to prevent missionaries traveling to the country." I'm not sure what they mean by that; how do you stop missionaries from, say, leaving Korea for Japan -- and then leaving Japan for Afghanistan? Will the Republic of Korea institute a mass crackdown on Christians on orders from the Taliban in Afghanistan?

South Korea and the Taliban both deny that money changed hands; but that has not quelled the accusations, based upon past deals with the Taliban:

Speculation in Kabul remained rife that the South Korea had paid a ransom for the release of the hostages. But South Korean and Taliban officials continued to deny that a ransom was paid. Afghan officials have said that paying ransom to the Taliban would only increase the taking of foreigners as hostages....

Across Afghanistan this year, the Taliban have increasingly used the kidnapping of foreigners as a tactic to garner publicity, the release of prisoners and, most likely, large ransoms.

In a much criticized deal this spring, the Afghan government freed five senior Taliban prisoners in exchange for the release of a kidnapped Italian journalist, Daniel Mastrogiacomo, after coming under intense pressure from the Italian government. In a separate case, aid workers have said that the Italian government paid $2 million for the release of a kidnapped Italian photographer last year. Italian officials have declined to comment on the case.

So what's the point? And what's all that about my mother? Only this, from the AP story linked above:

Taliban spokesman Qari Yousef Ahmadi vowed to abduct more foreigners, reinforcing fears that South Korea's decision to negotiate directly with the militants would embolden them.

"We will do the same thing with the other allies in Afghanistan, because we found this way to be successful," he told the Associated Press via cell phone from an undisclosed location.

And there you are: What you subsidize, you inflate... and that's true whether the "payment" is money or just prestige. As sources in the article point out, the mere fact that a real government -- the Republic of Korea -- sat down and negotiated with the formerly moribund Taliban tremendously raises the stature of the latter. It will probably help in recruiting, it might force President Hamid Karzai to take them more seriously, and if we're really, really unlucky, might even lead to some kind of power-sharing arrangement. Thank you, Mr. Roh.

And when all that happens, it won't be the Koreans who have to pay; it will be all the rest of us.

The Korean government, of course, had a perfectly rational explanation for their actions:

South Korea has denied doing anything wrong, saying it was normal practice to negotiate with hostage-takers.

Well... for them, it probably is. That's reason number 273 why I'm glad I don't live in Korea (either one).

As an aside, I loved this little snippet, the continuation of a long-running and deliberate mendacity by the elite media. What (as I am wont to ask) is wrong with this picture?

The hostage crisis unfolded at a time of soaring violence in Afghanistan despite years of counterinsurgency operations by international troops and millions of dollars spent in equipping Afghan security forces.

Not to keep you in suspenders, the answer is that the "soaring violence" to which they refer is primarily the wholesale slaughter of Taliban and al-Qaeda fighters at the hands of NATO and Afghan forces, as Sachi pointed out some time ago: Up to that point, in the recent "surge" of Taliban, the bad guys had killed 150 NATO forces and 850 innocent, unarmed civilians... and NATO forces had killed over 3,000 Taliban fighters... or in many cases, fleers.

The Taliban's reversion to type -- back to being Neolithic trolls and hill-bandits -- is quite understandable under the circumstances of their complete failure to engage the enemy successfully; and exactly the same can be said of the drive-by media.

Plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, August 30, 2007, at the time of 7:24 PM | Comments (9) | TrackBack

August 6, 2007

Democrat Inadvertently Blurts Out Truth

Afghan Astonishments , Hippy Dippy Peacenik Groove , Iraq Matters , Pakistan Perplexities , War Against Radical Islamism
Hatched by Dafydd

A spokesman for the presidential campaign of Sen. Barack Obama (D-IL, 95%) accidentally let slip an inconvenient truth... and nobody noticed! (Except the lizards, of course; the lidless eye sees all.)

Defending Obama's feckless threat to invade Pakistan if their war against al-Qaeda doesn't proceed fast enough for Obama, Bill Burton spake:

“The fact that the same Republican candidates who want to keep 160,000 American troops in the middle of a civil war couldn’t agree that we should take out Osama bin Laden if we had him in our sights proves why Americans want to turn the page on the last seven years of Bush-Cheney foreign policy.”

The problem with this puffery is that it's simply not true that "Americans want to turn the page." Some do, some don't; in the most recent USA Today/Gallup poll on the war, 57% say we shouldn't have invaded (i.e., want to "turn back the page"); but 57% is not a consensus. However, a simple substitution makes the statement absolutely true and virtually a tautology. Consider this version with one word rewritten:

The fact that the same Republican candidates who want to keep 160,000 American troops in the middle of a civil war couldn’t agree that we should take out Osama bin Laden if we had him in our sights proves why Democrats want to turn the page on the last seven years of Bush-Cheney foreign policy.

Yes it does; it indicates ("prove" is too strong a formulation) that to Democrats, the war on global hirabah begins and ends with Osama bin Laden: To the congressional majority, we can win everywhere else; but if bin Laden isn't captured and prosecuted, we have lost. But even more ominously, we can lose everywhere else; but so long as we capture bin Laden and put him on trial (in the U.N.'s International Court of Justice at the Hague, of course), then we've won!

Such juvenile thinking permeates the Democratic party more thorougly than Shiite militias have penetrated the Iraqi National Police. Another example, just enunciated by Max Boot in an interview on Hugh Hewitt: the unreasonable demand put upon Prime Minister of Iraq Nouri al-Maliki to ram reforms through the Iraqi parliament... when we, ourselves, deliberately wrote their constitution to weaken the prime minister, back when our greatest fear was another Iraqi "strongman" rising to replace Hussein. We weaken the prime minister, then imagine that if only we replace Maliki with another guy, he'll be able to solve the political problems ("Daddy fix!").

The gravest problem facing America today, in my never particularly humble or hesitant opinion, is the fact that a huge chunk of the electorate suffer from -- and an entire major political party is now based upon -- Peter Pan Syndrome: They've never grown up, living instead in a perpetual state of adolescence and "teen logic":

  • They make unreasonable, truculent demands;
  • They have no idea how such demands could possibly be met, no strategy or even vague suggestion;
  • Yet they promise vast retribution if the magical president doesn't make it so;
  • When thwarted, they fly into a rage;
  • They blurt out horrid things they never meant to say -- then defend their misstatement with the ferocity of Howard Dean defending his latest verbal gaffe;
  • And when the policies they demand (or inflict upon the American people) collapse, leaving a shattered industry or sector as testament to Democratic fecklessness... their only explanation is to shrug and say, "it seemed like a good idea at the time."

Republicans and GOP-leaning independents have it in their power to prevent another Peter Pan presidency. And the first step is to stop forming a circular firing squad at the drop of a disagreement. To quote that great small-f federalist, one of the authors of the Constitution, and perhaps the greatest epigrammatist in American history -- I refer to Benjamin Franklin, of course -- "gentlemen, we must all hang together, or assuredly we shall all hang separately."

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, August 6, 2007, at the time of 5:25 PM | Comments (6) | TrackBack

July 26, 2007

Korean Hostages Threatened by Taliban; America Blamed

Afghan Astonishments , Mysterious Orient , War Against Radical Islamism
Hatched by Sachi

According to Robert Koehler of the Marmot's Hole, the Korean press is all set to blame America if the Taliban makes good its threat to kill the 23 (now 22) Korean Christian-evangelists currently held hostage.

The Korean press reasons thus: Kabul is reluctant to negotiate with the Taliban only because of pressure from the West... i.e, the United States and our "lapdog," Great Britian. Since Afghanistan relies upon foreign aid, the press concludes, Afghan President Hamid Karzai dares not offend America or our allies. So it's all America's fault.

But Koehler points out that if Karzai is reluctant to listen to South Korea's plea, it's not necessarily because of the United States: South Korea is simply short stacked, due to the insignificant contribution it has made in the Afganistan war:

Of course, what Yonhap doesn’t say is that, perhaps, Kabul is ignoring the Taliban’s demands because a) it doesn’t want to turn kidnapping into a lucrative business, and more to the point b) Korea’s contribution to the fight against the Taliban has been next to nil, and its 200 non-combat troops will be withdrawn by the end of the year anyway. Kabul has absolutely no reason whatsoever to free enemies of the state who, upon their release, will go about attacking schools, hospitals and other infrastructure, killing Afghan civilians and attacking both its troops and the troops of allied states, all to rescue a bunch of highly irresponsible individuals who should have never been in the country in the first place and were probably engaged in activities [Christian evangelism] even the Karzai government deems illegal. When Kabul freed five Taliban terrorists to save an Italian journalist earlier this year, it didn’t do it out of the kindness of either Karzai’s or Bush’s heart -- it did it because Italy threatened to pull out its 2,000 troops. Influence is earned, and Seoul -- so sorry -- hasn’t earned any.

So what is Korea to do? Koehler suggests that instead of blaming the US, Korea should offer to provide more troops, real combat or police troops, to Afghanistan.

If South Korea wants to have some influence, it must earn it. Yes, such an act could anger the Taliban, and they might very well retaliate by killing all the hostages. But they've said they're going to kill them anyway -- and evidently have already killed one. Even without Korea offering new troops, the fate of the hostages seems grim.

But if Korea were to respond to the kidnapping and threat with force instead of appeasement, at least they could show the Taliban (and the world) that Korea is a force to be reckoned with. After all, there are still more than 150 Korean evengelists still living in Afghanistan. If South Korea wants to avoid future kidnapping, they had better start showing some spine now.

Dafydd adds: Sure, the South Koreans may be weenies. But what about the Japanese? They're being whupped by weenies!

Hatched by Sachi on this day, July 26, 2007, at the time of 6:04 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

July 11, 2007

"Victory Is Silence"

Afghan Astonishments , Congressional Calamities , Iraq Matters , Media Madness , War Against Radical Islamism
Hatched by Dafydd

Driving home from my épée lesson today, I was listening to the second hour of Hugh Hewitt's show. He was only taking callers who were current active-duty military who had either been in Afghanistan or Iraq; but he made one exception. That exception was such an exceptional call, I simply must share (before Dean Barnett does, I hope!)

The caller's name was Bruce, and he was a civilian. His son is active duty in Iraq right this minute, and Hugh let him on to speak on behalf of the son. What follows is not verbatim quotation; I don't have a transcript, of course, because it was just broadcast less than an hour ago. But the substance is pretty accurate, as any subsequent transcript will prove.

"Your son is currently in Iraq, right?" asks Hugh; "how's he doing?"

"He's going out of his mind with boredom... because he's stationed in Ramadi, and he hasn't heard a shot fired in combat for the last six weeks."

Bruce went on to explain that Ramadi is so peaceful, the residents and Coalition members are rebuilding all the damage caused by years of al-Qaeda infestation. Then he returned to the lack of gunfire in what used to be al-Qaeda central... and Bruce said the following:

"This is what I want to tell all those people in Washington. This is what Victory is; Victory is silence."

He said he had just heard CNN journalist Michael Ware on some news show say that Ramadi was the home base of al-Qaeda in Iraq. Bruce wished Ware would just go there and see for himself what it was really like. But that's unlikely, even though Ware is based in Baghdad. And it wouldn't have much effect on the debate in D.C. anyway: There are none so deaf as those who will not hear.

The Democrats (and some renegade Republicans) hear nothing; nothing penetrates, nothing rattles round their skulls like dried-out knucklebones. But in Ramadi, there is Nothing to hear; and that is exactly what we're looking for: Not a signing ceremony on the deck of the USS Missouri, but just simple peace, quiet, and Nothing.

Victory is silence.

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, July 11, 2007, at the time of 5:38 PM | Comments (7) | TrackBack

July 6, 2007

WHO Killed Them?

Afghan Astonishments , Media Madness
Hatched by Dafydd

In this otherwise pleasant article about us killing 100 Taliban in Afghanistan today, I stumble across this jarring sentence:

Both a U.N. and the AP count of civilian deaths this year show that U.S. and NATO forces have caused more civilian deaths this year than Taliban fighters have.

I beg to differ. When NATO drops bombs on Taliban and al-Qaeda fighters who are shooting at NATO or Afghan troops, and some civilians are killed -- who would you say "caused" those civilians to die: NATO or the insurgents?

The answer is the insurgents... because absent their incessant attacks, murders, and random use of explosives, we wouldn't be shooting at them in the first place; and the civilians wouldn't have died.

It's a very simple syllogism: Suppose a gunman takes a bunch of kids hostage and forces them to act as human shields, while he starts shooting at another group of children who are trapped in his line of fire. The police, who have no option, must return fire, wounding the shooter and also four of his human child shields.

It's entirely possible that the gunman, who might be a lousy shot, only managed to kill three kids before he was brought down. Thus, AP could argue (trying to keep a straight face) that "the police caused more deaths of children in this incident than the sniper did."

Which is technically true... but of course, without the sniper opening fire on his child victims, the police wouldn't have shot any kids at all! He, not the police, is the actual "cause" of the deaths.

This is precisely why we have here in California (and probably in every other state) the "felony murder rule," which states that if a death occurs during the commission of a dangerous felony, then each and every participant in the felony can be found guilty of murder... even if the victim was accidentally killed by a cop or some other person. Or for that matter, even if, e.g., an old man is so terrfied by the robbery that he has a heart attack and dies.

In other words, if an armed robber holds up a liquor store, and the owner gets into a shootout with him, and the owner's daughter is killed in the crossfire -- then the robber can be found guilty of murdering her, even if the bullet that killed her came from the gun of the store owner.

The reason should be obvious: If that SOB hadn't tried to rob the liquor store in the first place, the owner would not have gotten into a gunfight and the girl would be alive.

Evidently, this is a foreign concept to AP; for it doesn't appear to have occurred to them that when terrorists surround themselves with human shields, then they are just as responsibile (morally and legally) for those deaths as they are for the people they themselves kill directly.

Therefore, it is logically impossible to say that "U.S. and NATO forces have caused more civilian deaths this year than Taliban fighters have," when every last one of the deaths "caused" by American and NATO forces occurred as a direct result of an unlawful Taliban or al-Qaeda attack. (In addition, our side goes out of its way to avoid killing civilians; the irhabi (terrorists) deliberately target innocents -- Moslem innocents -- in direct defiance of Islamic law.)

AP should be ashamed of itself -- assuming that anyone who works in the elite media is capable of feeling shame.

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, July 6, 2007, at the time of 11:59 PM | Comments (7) | TrackBack

May 24, 2007

Bowing to the Inevitable

Afghan Astonishments , Congressional Calamities , Iraq Matters , War Against Radical Islamism
Hatched by Dafydd

Big Lizards -- and a whole lot of other folks -- has said repeatedly that, in the end, the Democrats would have to give President Bush the money he needs to keep fighting the war against global jihad... and give it to him without timetables for surrender, without absurd and bogus "readiness rules" that would prevent fresh units from replacing combat-weary veterans, and without 535 "little generals" issuing tactical commands to the troops in the field.

(We tried that last during the Civil War, but it was fewer than 535 back then. Still didn't work.)

The Democrats, for their part, swore that they would never, ever pass such funding without a timeline for withdrawal -- a date certain for American defeat.


Bowing to President Bush, the Democratic-controlled Congress lined up reluctantly Thursday to provide fresh billions for the Iraq war without the troop withdrawal timeline that drew his earlier veto....

Five months in power on Capitol Hill, Democrats in both houses coupled their concession to the president with pledges to challenge his war policies anew. "Those of us who oppose this war will be back again and again and again and again until this war has ended," said Rep. Jim McGovern, D-Mass.

"I hate this agreement," added Rep. David Obey, D-Wis., the chairman of the House Appropriations Committee who played a key role in talks with the White House that yielded the measure....

Sen. Christopher Dodd of Connecticut, alone among the Senate's Democratic White House hopefuls, pledged in advance to oppose the bill. Sen. Joseph Biden of Delaware said he supported it.

That left Sens. Hillary Rodham Clinton of New York and Barack Obama of Illinois publicly uncommitted in the hours leading to the vote, two leading White House rivals tugged in one direction by the needs of 165,000 U.S. troops - and in another by party activists demanding rejection of the legislation.

After the previous bruising veto battle, Democratic leaders said they hoped to clear the bill for Bush's signature by this Memorial Day weekend.

I know I already talked about this; but it's one of the most important inflection points in prosecuting the overall war, as well as the battles of Iraq and Afghanistan within it: For the first time since last November, we now know for certain that today's Congress hasn't the will to cram defeat down our throats, the way yesterday's did in 1974.

That is a monumental revelation. As much as I have always believed it to be true, it's a tremendous relief to see it verified by actions under the dome.

This also points up the huge distinction between domestic policies, like immigration -- where Congress is typically willing to compromise -- and foreign policy, especially war, where one side must win and the other must lose. As a political (not military) battle, war is a zero sum game: Either you support it, or you don't; you cannot "split the difference" and half-support it.

The congressional kabuki dance also demonstrates the immense superiority of our system of government, a constitutional republic with a strong chief executive, over that of any parliamentary democracy... a more primitive and generally failed form of government that is basically institutionalized tribalism.

To the extent parlimentarianism works at all, it only does when one party seizes so much power that the prime minister more or less apes an American president... as with Tony Blair recently or Winston Churchill during World War II.

But a president has inherent power and the "energy" (as the Federalist Papers put it) to act decisively, while Congress dithers. Even when President Bush's own party wavered, frightened and sweating, Bush stood firm; and by his own force of personality (or mulishness, as you prefer), the plenary powers of the presidency, and the "bully pulpit," he forced Congress to bow to his will.

If this were a parliamentary democracy, he would have been removed as head of the party or his government would have suffered a vote of no-confidence. Bush would have been replaced by an isolationist from the House, who would have pulled out of the war in disgrace and defeat; and if the Democrats won the subsequent election, Squeaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-Haight-Ashbury, 95%) would now be that "First Speaker."

(Say, maybe that's why lefties so very much prefer parliamentary democracies to our federal republic: Mob rule is much easier in the former.)

Fortunately, we had Founding Fathers who were geniuses, and we shall continue fighting this existential war:

Bush ordered the deployment of an additional five brigades to Iraq in January to try and quell sectarian violence, and he said summer would be critical to the fate of the new strategy.

Gen. David Petraeus, the top commander in Iraq, has pledged to report to the administration and Congress in September on the progress made in the war, and Bush conceded that al-Qaida terrorists and illegal militias will make sure there is heavy fighting in the interim to try and sap the will of the United States.

"And so, yes, it could be a bloody - it could be a very difficult August," he said.

He said he wants to see American troops "in a different configuration at some point in time in Iraq." He said that meant moving from mostly combat to training, border security and special forces anti-terror operations.

"However," Bush said, "it's going to require taking control" of Baghdad.

I wonder how many Democrats (or even Republicans) will remember in August that back in May, Bush warned it would be bloody, violent, and would probably kill a lot of American heroes. Not many, I would guess; they'll claim that Bush said it would be a "cakewalk" (which he never said, nor did anyone in command authority in the administration), and they'll call it another "Bush lie."

But take Baghdad we must, by any means necessary. That's the game on a nutshell; and now that the Democrats caved, we have a real chance of achieving exactly that.

I wonder how the nutroots are taking the collapse of "the Democratic wing of the Democratic Party?" Even less certain, I wonder how the nutroots will react if we actually manage to secure victory in Iraq? Will they demand we return the "stolen property" -- the Iraqi population -- to the Baathists?

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, May 24, 2007, at the time of 4:06 PM | Comments (9) | TrackBack

May 13, 2007

The War: Plus Ça Change, Plus Ce N'est Pas la Même Chose

Afghan Astonishments , Future of Warfare , Iran Matters , Iraq Matters , War Against Radical Islamism
Hatched by Dafydd

Much ado is made of a point -- a cliche, in fact -- that I thought should be fairly obvious: The longer we fight, the more -- and the faster -- the enemy adapts to our methods; but so too, the more and faster we adapt to the enemy's adaptations.

Some Democrats appear to find great cause for rejoicing in the first part of this truism; they hope it signals imminent defeat, allowing them to get on with the urgent task of capturing more seats in Congress and electing a Democratic president. However, by ignoring the second part of the truism, they set themselves up for the catastrophic possibility of America winning.

Let's take a single example: When the enemy realized that we mostly moved soldiers around the battlefield on Humvees, they began attacking them with great effectiveness; IEDs account for most of the 3,300 deaths of our servicemen in Iraq. We responded by switching to the Light Armored Vehicle (LAV) Stryker at the end of 2003 (and by "up-armoring" the Humvee, but that was never particularly satisfactory). The Strykers proved extraordinarily resistant to rocket-propelled grenades (RPGs) and even to the small improvised explosive devices (IEDs) that had killed so many Humvees during the months following the rise of the insurgency in late 2003.

There is no question that the Stryker offered far more protection than the Humvee and troop-transport trucks; and since it was never intended to replace M1 main battle tanks or M2 Bradley Fighting Vehicles, it's counterproductive to compare them. Alas, by late 2006/early 2007, the insurgents in Iraq -- with much help from Iran -- started effectively killing Strykers (and sometimes the men inside) in a number of ambushes. They had learned to buried heavy explosives, shaped charges, and explosively formed penetrators (EFPs), which the Strykers were never designed to repel:

A string of heavy losses from powerful roadside bombs has raised new questions about the vulnerability of the Stryker, the Army's troop-carrying vehicle hailed by supporters as the key to a leaner, more mobile force.

Since the Strykers went into action in violent Diyala province north of Baghdad two months ago, losses of the vehicles have been rising steadily, U.S. officials said.

A single infantry company in Diyala lost five Strykers this month in less than a week, according to soldiers familiar with the losses, who spoke on condition of anonymity because they are not authorized to release the information. The overall number of Strykers lost recently is classified.

Clearly, the enemy has "gotten the Strykers' number," at least if he has a chance to prepare a big enough bomb in advance and plant it deep enough not to be spotted: The Stryker's undercarriage is not heavily armored, and its flat surface makes it an ideal target for EFPs.

The insurgents also apparently are becoming better at hiding the devices - the IED that killed the six soldiers and the journalist was believed hidden in a sewer line. To add potency, insurgents surrounded the device with cement to channel the blast force up into the tank, according to soldiers familiar with the investigation.

Supporters of the Strykers say all that proves that it's the lethality of bombs in Iraq - not the Strykers themselves - that are the problem: The bombs are now so powerful that even Abrams main battle tanks are vulnerable to some of them.

The natural tendency for proponents of tracked vehicles is to point to the Stryker's wheels and say, "Well there's yer problem right there, lady!" Unfortunately, the Abrams MBT and the Bradley have also been killed at somewhat disturbing rates lately; we're fighting a completely different kind of warfare than the Gulf War, during which those two tracked vehicles received their baptism of fire. I honestly think the wheels vs. tracks controversy is a false herring.

The real problem is simply that the most common method of attacking any vehicle in Iraq today -- and in Afghanistan tomorrow, I'm sure -- is from below; and until very recently, no American combat vehicle was specifically designed to counter such attacks... which are not very common in "force on force" warfare. (This is another instance where counterinsurgency strategy differs from the strategy when opposing an enemy army.)

There simply is no way to put enough armor on the undercarriage of a Stryker (or Humvee, Abrams, or Bradley) to prevent a big enough EFP punching through it; the culprit is the flat surface of the undercarriage itself... it's like smashing a wall with a battering ram: Hit hard enough, and you're going to punch right through, because there's nowhere else for the force to go. (It helps that the EFP is also white hot, melting the steel enough to reduce material strength.)

But don't forget the second half of the truism above; the enemy had his inning, and now it's ours...

Enter the MRAP: the Mine Resistant Ambush Protected class of vehicles. The Marines and the Army have more or less settled on the Couger H-series of MRAP and the Buffalo H-series of Mine Protected Route Clearance (MPCV) vehicles, both manufactured by Force Protection Inc... the latter being a somewhat larger version of the Cougar, equipped with a fork-toothed arm for explosive ordnance disposal (the Buffalo's nickname is "the Claw"):

Couger H-series MRAP    Buffalo H-series MPCV

Couger H-series MRAP (L) and Buffalo H-series MPCV (R)

The great innovation of the MRAP is to redesign the undercarriage itself... and to correct the flaw that made our earlier combat vehicles so vulnerable: their underbelly flatness. MRAPs have a V-shaped hull that channels blast effect to the sides of the vehicle, graphically demonstrated here. Even EFPs have trouble penetrating the undercarriage of an MRAP:

MRAP taking blast

MRAP taking blast; explosive force is redirected to sides of vehicle

The design of the MRAP actually dates back more than three decades to counterinsurgency operations in South Africa. The basic idea of a V-shaped hull to channel radiant energy is even older, being the same principle used in "radar-deflecting" airplane hulls, which have been in development at Lockheed's "Skunk Works" since the early 1970s (they won the actual contract for development of the F117A stealth attack aircraft in 1978); and in a sense, the very idea of the prow of a boat being "pointy" is the same principle in action on the surface of the water.

The Army and Marines have currently ordered 7,774 Cougers, and the program has the very enthusiastic support of Secretary of Defense Robert Gates:

Well, I think the first thing that caught my attention, as is often the case, was a newspaper article that indicated that, out of something like 300 incidents involving IEDs, where these MRAP vehicles were involved, no Marines had been killed. And that certainly got my attention.

But the actual buy will likely be much higher, as Multi-National Corps-Iraq, Lt. Gen. Raymond Odierno, has ordered the entire fleet of Humvees in Iraq to be replaced by MRAPs over the next two years, according to the Army Times:

Acting Army Secretary Pete Geren confirmed today that the Army is set to substantially increase the number of Mine Resistant Ambush Protected vehicles it had planned to buy, replacing within two years the 17,700 Humvees now in Iraq....

The Marine Corps already has more than 100 MRAPs on the ground in Iraq, and the Army will field the first of its 2,500 MRAPs in Iraq beginning in August, 700 of which are already in hand, Geren said.

The MRAP program has moved quickly and is a joint procurement effort between the Army and Marine Corps.

What has held back fielding of more MRAPs is not a "hidebound" military culture or the unwillingness to adapt to changing circumstances. Like upgrading personal body armor for soldiers, the real roadblock is that there aren't enough assembly lines to turn out MRAPs at the speed we need them. That will be the biggest hurdle we'll have to overcome to completely replace the fleet of Humvees (and possibly even Strykers) in the timeframe demanded:

As of July 2006, more than 200 Buffalo and Cougar vehicles were deployed in Iraq and Afghanistan without a fatality, despite more than 1,000 mine detonations and IED attacks (see DefenseTech for an especially hilarious example). With more orders in the pipeline from American, Iraqi, and now British customers, meeting production demand has become a challenge for a firm that had just 12 employees at the beginning of 2004.

Force Protection, Inc. hired its 500th employee in July 2006, and a July 17, 2006 release noted that they are engaged in efforts to triple their internal manufacturing capacity. A second and third Cougar production line is being put in place following $41 million of equity financing, and production of its Buffalo variant is also slated to double.

Despite a bit of a slow start, the point carries, I believe. The second half of our cliche above continues to hold true: The enemy adapted to our Humvees and started killing them; we responded by up-armoring them and introducing Strykers. Then the insurgents figured out how to attack our vehicles from below with heavy explosive force... and again we responded, this time with a whole new (for us) class of vehicles, the MRAPs.

In the innovation race, we have the choice to place our money on the United States military and the militaries of our allies -- or on a bunch of Iranian fanatics and their flying monkeys in the Mahdi Militia.

I know where my bet is going.

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, May 13, 2007, at the time of 11:50 PM | Comments (7) | TrackBack

April 17, 2007

The Soundering of Floundering

Afghan Astonishments , Congressional Calamities , Iraq Matters , War Against Radical Islamism
Hatched by Dafydd

That sound you hear -- is the sound of Democrats running just fast enough to miss the train. "By jingo, what rotten luck!" I doubt their more radical constituents will be fooled.

For some reason known only to Eris, Goddess of Chaos, the Democrats seem to have convinced themselves that, no matter what President Bush said, he would sign their troop-handcuffing funding bill in the end. But as it becomes increasingly clear that he will veto it instead, just as he promised... it turns out that the Democrats never did have a "Plan B."

So what are they going to do? They don't know. It's obvious they can't simply proceed with the defunding of the war; they simply don't have the votes even to pass such a bill, let alone override a presidential veto. The House surrender bill passed by a bare majority, 218 to 212... and surprise, so did the Senate version, 51 to 47.

If even one, single Democrat refuses to go along with cutting off the troops and leaving them to the tender mercies of al-Qaeda and the Mahdi Militia, if a solitary member crosses the aisle in either house, the bill goes down in flames.

Congressional Democrats say there is no doubt President Bush will soon be confronted with legislation calling for an end to the Iraq war.

But the new majority must decide how far to go in trying to tie Bush's hands and what will happen after the president's inevitable veto.

The debate is likely to expose fissures among Democrats, who remain divided on whether to cut off money for the unpopular war and risk leaving troops in the lurch.

"My feeling is at a certain point we're going to have a 'come-to-Jesus' moment in the caucus and talk about whether you fund (the war) or not," said Rep. Jim McDermott, D-Wash.

"Baghdad" Jim McDermott (D-WA, 95%), you'll recall, visited Saddam Hussein in 2002 to show solidarity and received a $5,000 payoff from a Saddam insider, Shakir al Khafaji. It would be a miracle indeed if Baghdad Jim were to have a "come-to-Jesus" moment. He was reluctant to vote for the bill pushed by Squeaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-Haight-Ashbury, 95%), not because it would hogtie our military commanders, but because it actually appropriated money to fight the war.

McDermott is trembling with excitement at the thought of making America lose. I suspect it's as close to a religious experience as he is ever likely to feel.

But there are other Democrats who would recoil from a troop-funding cutoff as from a leper's kiss: Sen. Ben Nelson (D-NE, 35%), for example, or several of the Senate and House freshmen.

Sen. Carl Levin, D-Mich., told reporters Monday that should Bush veto the bill as expected, Democrats would likely opt to replace the withdrawal language with a "softer version" that ties U.S. aid to political progress made by the Iraqi government....

Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., told reporters Monday he was open to the idea.

"The president is not going to get a bill that has nothing on it," Reid said.

No; but he's likely to get a bill that may as well have "nothing on it." What will eventually land on the desk of the Commander in Chief will be a bill that fully funds the wars and includes vague "goals" and "benchmarks" that the Iraqis ought to meet... but no firm deadlines for withdrawal, and no "triggers" for withdrawal if X, Y, or Z isn't done by time T.

In other words, a clean bill with a little face-saving Democratic window dressing. And Reid and Pelosi will look even more like a pair of jackasses, braying out their defiance as they continue to pull the cart.

Thank goodness for Democratic cravenness. Just think of the fix we'd be in if the congressional Democrats had as much chutzpah as their insurgent allies.

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, April 17, 2007, at the time of 7:42 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

March 23, 2007


Afghan Astonishments , Congressional Calamities , Iraq Matters , Media Madness , War Against Radical Islamism
Hatched by Dafydd
Imagine there are no Republicans,
It's easy if you try...

This is quite remarkable: The Washington Post, normally a pretty good newspaper, published a front-page article about the Democratic House and Senate caucuses wrangling with their wayward members. They tussled over how to enact legislation that would begin to force an American surrender in Iraq within the next few months -- by hanging that legislation like an albatross around the neck of the president's emergency supplemental war-funding bill.

The Post managed to get all the way through the story... without ever once mentioning the Republicans in the Senate, who will almost certainly filibuster the bill to death. In fact, the Post seemed unaware that Republicans in either chamber would get to cast a vote.

For that matter, they never even mentioned that President Bush fellow, who would naturally veto it, if it ever came to his desk. Rather, the Post implied that passing the Mount Everest of roadblocks -- getting the liberals to agree with the Blue Dogs to agree with Squeaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-Haight-Ashbury, 95%) -- meant that the bill would immediately become law!

What, have we suddenly become invisible?

"Liberal opposition to a $124 billion war spending bill broke last night," begins the story...

...when leaders of the antiwar Out of Iraq Caucus pledged to Democratic leaders that they will not block the measure, which sets timelines for bringing U.S. troops home.

The acquiescence of the liberals probably means that the House will pass a binding measure today that, for the first time, would establish tough readiness standards for the deployment of combat forces and an Aug. 31, 2008, deadline for their removal from Iraq.

A Senate committee also passed a spending bill yesterday setting a goal of bringing troops home within a year. The developments mark congressional Democrats' first real progress in putting legislative pressure on President Bush to withdraw U.S. forces.

Progress? Oh, please. They managed to get nearly all the Democrats to agree; I suppose that's progress of a sort... but it's like me saying I'm making "real progress" towards winning the Pullet Surprise this year because I convinced a few of my friends that I really deserve one.

This isn't the FDR era, when we had essentially one-party rule, and even Bob Hope (D-Hollywood, 120%) joked that there must be a Republican hiding in the bushes somewhere. "After all, somebody's buying all that caviar!"

Here is the only mention of the word "Republicans." It's not in the context of the Senate; they only mention House Republicans, who are powerless. I don't have a print edition in front of me, but I wouldn't be surprised if even this pair of grafs comes after the jump:

To the surprise of many antiwar activists, House Democratic leaders have been able to keep their conservative Blue Dog members largely onboard as they ratcheted up the bill's language. But with Republicans virtually united in opposition, Democrats can afford only 15 defections.

Bush and congressional Republicans have done their best to exploit the divisions, repeatedly mentioning that the Democrats are not united.

The editorial board of the WaPo aside, they still have to pass the bill in the United States Senate... where, contrary to the Post's fantasy, Republicans are still allowed to vote on the issue. There are 49 Republicans, 50 Democrats, and one Independent, Sen. Joseph Lieberman (I-CT, 75%); but Lieberman is certain to vote against the timelines and readiness standards and forced troop withdrawals. That makes the score 50-50... and since Sen. Tim Johnson (D-SD, 85%) is likely still medically unable to vote, that makes it 50-49 against passage.

On the last go-round, one Republican senator, Gordon Smith (R-OR, 72%), voted in favor of Majority Leader Harry Reid's (D-Caesar's Palace, 90%) previous attempt to surrender. But two Democrats, Sens. Mark Pryor (AR, 75%) and Ben Nelson (NE, 35%), voted against the bill. (Had Sen. John McCain, R-AZ, 65%, voted, it would have been 51 to 48 against, for an absolute majority.)

If the Democrats manage to get both Pryor and Nelson to flip back, and if they retain the vote of turncoat Smith, the absolute best they can manage is 51 to 49 in favor. But the vote will never even occur, because the Republicans will filibuster it. And the Democrats are lightyears away from the sixty votes needed to break a filibuster.

So just like every other Democratic attempt to starve the troops out of Iraq, binding or non-binding, the result will be a possible victory in the House -- swallowed up by the Senate. No bill will even reach the president's desk for him to veto.

But you'd never realize that from the Washington Post article. If that were all you read, you'd think it was a done deal, and the troops were already on their way home!

The more intriguing question is what will happen after the supplemental funding bill dies in the Senate. Will the House Democrats have the guts to refuse to bring up a clean funding bill? I'm skeptical that they're willing to face the American people and say, "Yes, b'gad, we are cutting off all funding to the troops in the field! Screw them; let 'em all die." If they did that, they certainly could never claim any credit for a victory... but boy, would they own the defeat.

The Democrats are poltroons. They know that if they cut the troops off at the knees, the Democrats would hemorrhage seats in 2008, likely losing one or both chambers of Congress and the presidency. And Bush would find a way to keep the war going anyway. The Democrats are not willing to go to the mattresses for their "ideals;" not if it means sacrificing their majority.

Look at the ADA ratings for Pryor and Nelson: 75% and 35% (!) respectively, and they both represent red states; Ben Nelson is the Democrat's version of Sen. Olympia Snowe (R-ME, 36%). What is the advantage for either of them in throwing away everything, just in order to force a defeat and withdrawal on America?

Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi may have the burning desire to recreate the Vietnam debacle, but I doubt Pryor and Nelson do... especially when there is zero chance of it passing -- but a 100% chance of a vote against the troops coming back to haunt them. Nelson is much more conservative, and he's safe until 2012; but Mark Pryor is up for reelection in 2008.

How many times are the Democrats going to go replay this commedia dell'arte farce? Have they enacted any substantive legislation through both chambers of Congress yet? I suppose they plan to gallop pell-mell through the entire 110th Congress, doing nothing but trying to cram defeat down the throat of victory in Iraq.

That's fine with me. They won't succeed in doing anything but pâté-ing their own foie gras... and I can live with that.

But next time, maybe Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY, 84%) can give Washington Post Executive Leonard Downie, Jr. a call and sort of, you know, jog his memory a bit. I'm sure forgetting the very existence of Republicans was just an oversight.

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, March 23, 2007, at the time of 4:15 AM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

March 5, 2007

How to Smear the U.S. Marines Without Visibly Moving Your Lips

Afghan Astonishments , Media Madness
Hatched by Dafydd

This one is really disturbing. Maybe you shouldn't read it... go away!

The fight in Afghanistan has picked up lately; you all know that (if you've been reading here as assiduously as you should). Last year, we killed 3,000 Taliban, while the latter managed to kill 850 civilians and 150 American or NATO soldiers.

In several recent incidents, American troops have come under attack; they have responded... and because the enemy loves to use innocent people as "human shields," some presumptively innocent people were killed in the crossfire.

The past is prologue; here is my point. The elite news media have decided to revert to their old habits: They appear uniformly to be reporting this as "Americans gone wild," accusing the Marines of panicking, of fleeing from the scene, and especially, of "firing indiscriminately" at civilians. (I don't quite understand how we can simultaneously fire indiscriminately while also deliberately targeting civilians, but perhaps that's just my hectoring, schoolmarmish defense of the English language.)

Here are Exhibits A, B, and C, the "news" pieces in question; hereafter, I shall call them AP, Reuters, and the New York Times (or the Times).

They use a number of classic techniques. Let's dive right in.

Warning: I have blue font, and I'm not afraid to us it.

Establishing and disestablishing authority

When charges of indiscriminate violence are hurled at Americans, they are given the voice of authority: either "officials say," "witnesses say," or else the charge is simply stated as fact -- vox populi vox Dei.

But whenever the reporters are forced by circumstances to admit the Marines (or American forces in general) may have their own side of the story, they make plain there is a "void" of authority: This is just what those buggers claim. (One can almost picture the reporter rolling his eyes as he types that.)


A coalition airstrike destroyed a mud-brick home after a rocket attack on a U.S. base, killing nine people from four generations of an Afghan family including a 6-month-old, officials and relatives said Monday - one of the latest in a string of civilian deaths that threaten to undermine the government.

It was the third report in two days of U.S. forces killing civilians. The airstrike took place late Sunday in Kapisa province north of the capital, some 12 hours after U.S. Marines opened fire on civilian cars and pedestrians following a suicide bombing in eastern Nangahar province....

Bryan Whitman, a Pentagon spokesman, said coalition forces will always respond in self-defense when fired upon: "It is often the enemy that is putting innocent peoples' lives in danger by where they're conducting these attacks on our forces."

Does AP actually question the claim that "it is often the enemy that is putting innocent peoples' lives in danger?" Do they really deny that the Taliban thinks of civilians merely as human shields, convenient speed bumps to slow down Western forces -- who, unlike jihadis, actually have respect for innocent human life?

If not, then why put it entirely in the mouth of the estimable Mr. Whitman? AP could simply have noted that the Taliban and al-Qaeda have frequently launched terrorist attacks against innocent civilians out of the blue, not even in response to any attack upon the aggressors. (You know, that whole "September 11th" thingie.)

The Times:

Nine members of a family were killed in an American airstrike in central Afghanistan, including five women and three children during a battle with militants, Afghan officials said today....

The incident came just 12 hours after American forces in eastern Afghanistan opened fire on civilians when a suicide car bomb exploded next to their convoy Sunday morning, leaving at least 10 people dead and 25 wounded, according to Afghan officials....

United States forces at a small base at Tape Ahmed Beg, in Kapisa province, northeast of Kabul, called in the airstrike after coming under rocket fire around 9 p.m. local time on Sunday, the American military said in a statement.

Now let's be realistic here: "Afghan officials" have no official knowledge of what happened; they have not yet conducted any investigation, the events just occurred. All they know is what local Afghans, who may have a dog in the fight, tell them.

The Times knows this, just as they know that "officials" trumps "the military," just as "medical researchers" trumps "the tobacco industry." Nevertheless, the Times allows the accusation to hide behind the amorphous and vaguely authoritative "officials say," while the Marines are reduced to a whiny, personal defense -- and we all know those sexual assaulters and baby killers will say anything to weasel out of their rightful condemnation!

Reuters is the worst, as par for the course -- they are British based, and they typically use local stringers to write their stories... as in this case, where the reporter is Sayed Salahuddin:

Afghan President Hamid Karzai has condemned U.S. troops for shooting dead 10 civilians at the weekend as officials said nine more -- five women, four children and an old man -- had been killed in an air strike....

U.S. marines shot dead 10 civilians in the east on Sunday, in what the U.S. military said was a "complex" Taliban ambush involving a suicide bombing and gunfire in a populated area outside the city of Jalalabad, near Pakistan.

The military said the soldiers fired in self-defense and 16 civilians were killed in the suicide raid and subsequent firing.

Tit for tat is where it's at

Reuters' Mr. Salahuddin finds occasion to drag in the international community to supply the mandatory moral equivalence between U.S. Marines (not Europeans!) and the Taliban:

NATO Secretary-General Jaap de Hoop [or is that Hoop de Loop?] Scheffer said he understood both incidents involved U.S.-led coalition forces rather than NATO's International Security Assistance Force (ISAF), but told reporters in Brussels:

"Every civilian casualty is one too many ... I do not think it will influence the great support there is for NATO ISAF forces in Afghanistan...."

Italian Foreign Minister Massimo D'Alema, whose country has 1,900 soldiers in the ISAF force, told reporters in Brussels that no officer would order troops to fire on civilians.

Yes, those Americans can be such cowboys, can't they? I certainly hope the Afghan people understand that we Europeans would never return fire when fired upon!

(If anyone reading this detects a subtle bias in this post towards the Marines' version and against the version retailed by "local" Afghans of unknown provenance -- then by jiminy, I think you've hit upon my mean, little secret.)

AP concurs:

Human Rights Watch said neither side was taking enough precautions to prevent human casualties and accused the U.S. and international troops of using excessive force.

"International forces don't have carte blanche to shoot anything they want in response to insurgent attacks," said John Sifton, a New York-based researcher for the group.

And lest we forget, the Times:

But a local representative of the provincial council, Suraya Bahadur, who comes from Nejarab district where the bombing occurred, condemned it. “I condemned both the suicide attacks and the rocket attacks by the enemy of Afghanistan, and also I condemn these type of mistakes,” by American and NATO forces, she said. “We never want our civilian people to be killed.”

Ooooh, snap!

A favorite tactic is what I call the rim shot: That's when you allow the bad guy -- that would be us -- to make a case, giving him plenty of rope... so that your conclusory, parting shot can hang him. Viz., from AP:

Two men with automatic rifles were seen leaving the site of the rocket attack and heading into a compound that was then hit by two 2,000-pound bombs, a military statement said. Rural homes in Afghanistan are built in a compound style with one large outer wall often encasing several small rooms; many families tend to share the same compound.

"These men knowingly endangered civilians by retreating into a populated area while conducting attacks against coalition forces," said Lt. Col. David Accetta, a U.S. military spokesman. "We observed the men entering a compound and that compound was targeted and hit by an airstrike."

The bombs left a large crater of twisted lumber and chunks of mud and killed four women, four children between the ages of 6 months and 5 years, and an 80-year-old man, said Gulam Nabi, a relative of the victims.

Sayad Mohammad Dawood Hashimmi, Kapisa deputy governor, confirmed the nine deaths.

Among those killed were Gulam Nabi's parents, his sister, two female relatives by marriage and four of the extended family's youngest children.

Yeah, so a couple of guys -- who were merely retreating, for God's sake -- enter a "compound," which is just a rural home... and then the military spasms, and we have dead women, dead children, and a dead octogenarian. Ba-dum DUM.

And how do we know that was the death toll? Well, reading between the lines, we have the word of Gulam Nabi, "a relative of the victims." No possible bias there. Oh, but it was "confirmed" by the deputy governor; which means, reading between the lines, that we have the word of Gulam Nabi. (Did you imagine that by "confirmed," Reuters meant the deputy governor went to the site and made a detailed forensic investigation of the bodies? Or that, after talking with Nabi, the deputy governor said "Crusaders and Zionists are always doing this kind of thing! Long live Mullah Omar!")

This bloody vote's been rigged!

We have the obligatory sly inuendo from Reuters -- I warned you they were the worst, but you never listen -- that there's dirty work afoot... and we know who's footing it. The intended response by the reader is, "Can you believe this? What chutzpah!"

"Karzai strongly condemned the incident that took place," the presidential palace said in a statement on Sunday. Karzai has ordered an inquiry, but previous such investigations by NATO and the Afghan government have done nothing more than confirm witness accounts that those killed were civilians.

Despite hundreds of civilian deaths, no foreign soldier has ever been found guilty of any wrongdoing.

I suppose it would be jingoistic of us to suggest that perhaps that's because no foreign soldier has actually been guilty of wrongly killing civilians. I know, I know. Baby killers. Abu Ghraib. Attica. But shouldn't the elite media pause for even a moment to consider the possibility that sometimes, behind the smoke, we just find -- a big smokescreen machine?

Sympathy for the devil

I don't want the New York Times to feel neglected. One of their signature tactics is to redefine the terms of the situation so that we feel sympathy, or even solidarity, with the terrorists. Usually, they invoke the "disproportionality" argument, knowing that Americans -- unlike those we're supposed to feel sympathetic towards, by the way -- tend to champion the underdog when we perceive a mismatch:

John Sifton, senior researcher at the New York-based group Human Rights Watch, also expressed concern at the level of force used by coalition and NATO troops. “That is heavy firepower to respond to two men, even if they have Kalashnikovs,” he said in a telephone interview. “If that version of events bears up, it would strongly suggest that the attack was disproportionate.” Mr. Sifton said insurgents also regularly violate the rules of war by using force near civilian areas ["...but don't quote me on that!"].

Forgotten in all the excitement is that everybody agrees that the American military called in the strike not just because they men were carrying AK-47s, but because they had just launched a rocket attack on an American military base. Having observed the two men firing a rocket at a base that has been repeatedly bombarded with rocket fire, it's reasonable for us to conclude that they kept more than mere rifles in their safehouse. Like, perhaps, more rockets.

So we're actually talking about responding to rocket fire by dropping a bomb -- which no longer sounds all that "disproportionate," does it?

Can't we all just get along?

Finally, sticking with the Times, we close with the faux attempt to get everyone to sit down and talk things through... as if that's the real problem: the terrorists just don't understand what fine fellows we really are:

Civilian casualties have increased in the last year as the insurgency has seen a resurgence in southern and eastern Afghanistan. Mr. Sifton of Human Rights Watch called on the Afghan government and NATO and coalition forces to sit down and work out operating procedures for troops in these circumstances in order to prevent further civilian deaths.

I call this a "faux attempt" for a particular reason: Look who Mr. Sifton calls on -- presumably those he holds (a) responsible for all these civilian deaths, or (b) to be the adults on the scene: the Americans, the Europeans, and the democratic Afghan government. He doesn't even pretend that the Taliban and al-Qaeda may be at least a small part of the problem.

That's like saying in 1985 that the United States and West Germany should sit down and work out what to do about all those Pershing II missiles in Europe, in order to avoid the threat of nuclear war. The cowboys are on the warpath again!

I utter the words, "and in conclusion" -- and the crowd leaps to its feet in sustained applause

Even if the elite media never wearys of being on the wrong side of the United States, you'd think they would at least get tired of being on the wrong side of history. Evidently they're indefatigable.

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, March 5, 2007, at the time of 5:51 PM | Comments (7) | TrackBack

February 12, 2007

The Surge Has Failed - the Taliban "Surge" in Afghanistan, That Is

Afghan Astonishments
Hatched by Sachi

(Scared you, didn't I?)

The Fayetteville Observor published a mesmerizing article back in December about a very significant and bloody battle in Afghanistan. It was a battle which the elite media "may little note nor long remember;" but it was tremendously significant... and sends us a signal of how things are really going in the war against the "Taliban surge."

The fighting was fierce, lasting for weeks. Two forces fought for the hill named Sperwan Ghar; NATO forces -- including American Special Forces from Fort Bragg -- attacked enemy combatants, who had held the hill for almost a year (why they had been allowed to do so is another story entirely):

Just before dawn the second day, a convoy of GMVs -- a modified Humvee used by Special Forces soldiers -- and pick-ups raced cross-country over the packed sand and rocks toward the hill.

Air Force A-10 fighters pounded the hill as the Afghan and Special Forces soldiers approached. A few hundred yards from the base of the hill, the Taliban started to fire rocket-propelled grenades and machine guns at the soldiers.

Despite the fire, the Special Forces soldiers made steady progress up the hill until a bomb exploded underneath a GMV.

The blast blew the driver -- a Special Forces soldier -- to the top of the hill and set the truck on fire, trapping the gunner, soldiers said. Ammunition started to cook off, spraying the advancing soldiers with mortar and machine gun rounds.

An instant after the explosion, a Special Forces communications sergeant dashed into the flames and pulled the gunner to safety. The company commander said the communications sergeant’s heroic actions saved the gunner’s life and kept the attack from stalling.

Both soldiers in the truck were evacuated with an Afghan soldier who stepped on a mine and another soldier who was shot. The communications sergeant suffered burns, but remained in the fight.

The battle for Sperwan Ghar raged for another hour, ending when the U.S.-led force occupied the hill.

The enemy futilely tried to take back the hill; the battle raged for few more weeks. In the end, it was the bloodiest month of the year in Afghanistan -- for the Taliban, that is, more than 900 of whom were killed in September 2006.

Operation Medusa was a battle worthy of an epic poem, one that should be sung by bards to entertain kings and queens. But this is 2006; this is Afghanistan. Not only is there no song, we hardly heard a word about this gallant battle at all.

I read this New York Times story a few days ago, and something struck me as odd: we were told that 4,000 people died... but the Times was amazingly uninformative about who they were:

President Hamid Karzai offered peace talks with a resurgent Taliban after the bloodiest year since they were driven from power in 2001. More than 4,000 people, including about 170 foreign soldiers, died in fighting in 2006. Suicide bombings also rose sharply.

The phrase “4000 people” caught my eye. Did “people” include bad guys as well as innocent civilians? If so, how many?

What if a majority of those deaths were of Taliban terrorists? If so, then far from signalling a Taliban resurgence threatening Afghanistan's security (thus our own), it would mean their "surge" was as complete a failure as the Tet Offensive during the Vietnam War.

Somebody had to find out; and if the Times was going to drop the ball, I decided it was up to the blogosphere.

Trying to find out how many Taliban were killed during last year, I read all the articles I could find about Taliban deaths at CounterTerrorism blog and ThreatsWatch and "counted the bodies" they listed. (April through December figures are mostly from CounterTerrorism; earlier figures are from ThreatsWatch.)

In the case of September, I found the official NATO figures and used those instead. And in the end, I got a pretty decent count of Taliban deaths in 2006 by month... though I may still have an undercount (see below).

I list the numbers of Taliban killed per month in the table below:

Taliban Deaths During 2006
Month Taliban Deaths
January 16
February (No data)
March 43
April 45
May 412
June 515
July 708
August 122
September 900
October 105
November 20
December 165
2006 Total 3051

In other words, what I discovered was that over three fourths of the 4,000 “people” killed in Afghanistan in 2006 were Taliban (war-related deaths).

Note that this is not an official count, and there aren't even any figures for February. In fact, I suspect these numbers are rather low: for September, I only counted 319 deaths in all incidents discussed on the two blogs; but NATO’s official count is 900. (In fact they say over 2000 were killed over a four months period.) Thus, for the 11 months where I could not find a NATO report, the numbers I have likely undercount Taliban deaths. (For some reason, the drive-by media is less interested in ferreting out Taliban deaths in Afghanistan than civilian deaths in Iraq.)

Let's give credit where it's due: Many of the battles were fought by our allies -- Canada, France, and the U.K. The Canadians especially are responsible for many Taliban deaths, and they deserve a round of applause (the Canadians, I mean, not the Taliban).

It's true that the Taliban is not destroyed; they're always looking for an opportunity to strike, and they will not be utterly defeated until Afghan forces are strong enough to crush the Taliban without Western help whenever they pop up again.

However, even today, when the Taliban actually stand and fight (which they do often), they are humiliatingly routed; this happens time and again.

I heard the Taliban are now considering an al-Qaeda type of "insurgency" against the NATO forces. I'm sure they'll try anything; but if 2006 is any indication, they will fail.

According to a historian Donald Stocker, for all the glamour and mythology surrounding insurgency, guerilla warriors rarely win such campaigns:

Vietnam taught many Americans the wrong lesson: that determined guerrilla fighters are invincible. But history shows that insurgents rarely win, and Iraq should be no different...

Myths about invincible guerrillas and insurgents are a direct result of America’s collective misunderstanding of its defeat in South Vietnam.... The Vietnamese may have been tough and persistent, but they were not brilliant. Rather, they were lucky -- they faced an opponent with leaders unwilling to learn from their failures: the United States.

The Vietcong insurgency contributed greatly to the erosion of the American public’s will to fight, but so did the way that President Lyndon Johnson and the American military waged the war. It was North Vietnam’s will and American failure, not skillful use of an insurgency, that were the keys to Hanoi’s victory.

Similar misunderstandings persist over the Soviet Union’s defeat in Afghanistan, the other supposed example of guerrilla invincibility. But it was not the mujahidin’s strength that forced the Soviets to leave; it was the Soviet Union’s own economic and political weakness at home. In fact, the regime the Soviets established in Afghanistan was so formidable that it managed to survive for three years after the Red Army left.

Stocker concedes that some insurgents were successful, but only when they could secure a training and staging ground (not subject to aerial bombardment) and could secure their supply lines. The Mujahadin's victory was only possible because we ensured their supply lines and because we gave them a save haven where they could train and stage.

Thus, if we can stop the Iraqi terrorists from securing both safe haven and supply lines, we can defeat them. That means cutting Iran off at the knees, of course.

For that, Stoker thinks our surge in Iraq may just work.

But the strategy of “surging” troops could offer a rare chance for success -- if the Pentagon and the White House learn from their past mistakes. Previously, the U.S. military cleared areas such as Baghdad’s notorious Haifa Street, but then failed to follow up with security. So the insurgents simply returned to create havoc. As for the White House, it has so far failed to convince the Iraqi government to remove elements that undermine its authority, such as the Mahdi Army. Bush’s recent speech on Iraq included admissions of these failures, providing some hope that they might not be repeated.

There is plenty of will to fight and will to win among American and NATO troops; even the new Iraqi troops are stepping up to the plate. The only question is, can the American people stomach the continuous bloody combat necessary for victory in Iraq?

Let's just assume the MSM will continue to report one "disaster" after another: We're going to hear a lot about how many "people" have been killed... so brace yourselves for that kind of media assault.

We all know, deep down, what it will take. I'm ready -- but is America?

Hatched by Sachi on this day, February 12, 2007, at the time of 5:24 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

December 12, 2006

More Fine Distinctions From the Drive-By Media

Afghan Astonishments
Hatched by Dafydd

Take a look at this Reuters headline and see if the same thing catches your eye as caught mine:

U.S.-led raid, suicide bomber kill at least 12 Afghans

My first thought was, whose brilliant idea was it to allow suicide bombers to embed with American military forces? But somehow, that didn't seem to be very plausible. Scratching my brain, I read the lede graf (note the cool journalistic buzz words I incorrectly lumped together):

U.S.-led troops killed at least four people, including a teenage girl, in a raid in southeastern Afghanistan on Tuesday and a suicide bomber killed eight more in the south, residents, officials and coalition forces said.

And at last -- I'm kind of slow, as by now you must have observed -- I realized that what was going on here was that Reuters had casually conflated deaths from an American attack on Taliban militants with deaths caused by a suicide bomber five provinces away. (Evidently, I'm not the only one incorrectly lumping things together.)

Suppose the cops in St. Louis had shot a suspect on September 11th, 2001. I suppose Reuters would then have written, "Metro Police, hijackers kill nearly 3000."

Reading deeper, it appears that once again, we have a conflict of witnesses:

Hours before the blast [approximately 60 kilometers away and completely unrelated to the American action], U.S.-led forces killed at least four people in the southeastern province of Khost where the Taliban and their Islamic allies are highly active.

But there were conflicting accounts about who was killed in the pre-dawn raid in Dornami village.

Residents say the U.S.-led force, backed by Afghan militias, broke into a house, drawing fire from the occupants who thought they were thieves. Four people were killed and some seven wounded -- all of them civilians, they said.

The U.S.-led coalition said in a statement the raid killed five people -- four suspected terrorists and a young girl. The troops requested the surrender of those in the compound.

"The suspected terrorists refused to comply with verbal warnings and began firing," the statement said.

Once again, the claims of completely anonymous, unknown "witnesses," who could be anybody (including conspirators with the targets of the raid), are thoughtlessly placed on the same level of trust as the official statement from a known military spokesman, who is easily contacted for follow-up information or evidence. "Hey, it's he-said, she-said, folks. We can't pick a side -- we're journalists!"

This happens all the time, and it's a major reason why the American people are under the false impression that nothing good is happening in Iraq and Afghanistan: the elite media will take the word of anybody, even known prevaricators like Green Helmet Guy -- even entirely ficticious police lieutenants -- so long as said "anybody" is willing to accuse American forces of indiscriminate, reckless slaughter, war crimes, or crimes against humanity.

If Fang the Wonder Dog barked out an accusation, Reuters would run with it.

President Bush has got to become more active in countering the propaganda from the elite liberal press, something creative and unexpected -- not just having Dick Cheney pooh-pooh the story on Beat the Press:

  • White House teams should fan out across the country with presentations to Kiwanis and Elks clubs, showing undeniable examples of media lies and distortions in service of the Democrats;
  • Eye-grabbing, "Vent"-sized YouTube videos should be launched, a new one every week or so (hire Michelle Malkin to produce them, and the best should also run throughout the year as commercials);
  • Fun, little interactive web pages should be put up under a memorable URL (like, which is available) allowing viewers to compare reality, as told by soldiers who were there, with the AP, Reuters, and NYT/WaPo/LAT/BG biased, funhouse-mirror version.

This vicious, anti-American propaganda (during wartime!) has long since passed the phase of merely giving aid and comfort to the enemy and entered the mad realm of existential societal immolation. It's as if the media want us to lose the GWOT, so that they can be violently dismantled by the jihadis the way the Taliban destroyed the Bamiyan Buddhas.

It's time for all the madmen to be sent back to their cells, and the sane to recapture the free press.

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, December 12, 2006, at the time of 3:46 AM | Comments (9) | TrackBack

September 22, 2006

VegasBlogging 1: "Milestones," Or Media Millstones?

Afghan Astonishments , Iraq Matters , Media Madness , War Against Radical Islamism
Hatched by Dafydd

This AP story is one of the most maddening, infurating examples of elite-media manipulation I've seen in months. We start with the bizarre, defamatory, and demented headline:

War Price on U.S. Lives Equal to 9/11

Now the death toll is 9/11 times two. U.S. military deaths from Iraq and Afghanistan now match those of the most devastating terrorist attack in America's history, the trigger for what came next. Add casualties from chasing terrorists elsewhere in the world, and the total has passed the Sept. 11 figure.

The latest milestone for a country at war comes without commemoration. It also may well come without the precision of knowing who is the 2,973rd man or woman of arms to die in conflict in Iraq and Afghanistan, or just when it happens [what, no picture for the Wall of Martyrs?]. The terrorist attacks killed 2,973 victims in New York, Washington and Pennsylvania.

In the first place... huh? What's the point of this article? I was about to note that we lost fewer than 2,500 at Pearl Harbor on December 7th, 1941; while a quick glance at the right sidebar to this very blog tells you that during the war for which that attack was the starting gun, 400,000 brave American sailors, Marines, soldiers, and airmen (then still part of the Army) were killed.

There is no relation, cause-effect, or connection between the number of people who died in a precipitating incident and the number killed in the war it precipitates. For heaven's sake, wasn't the War to End All Wars "started" by the death of a single arch-duck?

But then I discovered I didn't even need to make the argument -- because Calvin Woodward, the writer of this very article, made the same blasted argument himself... completely undercutting any point the piece itself might have had:

The body count from World War II was far higher for Allied troops than for the crushed Axis. Americans lost more men in each of a succession of Pacific battles than the 2,390 people who died at Pearl Harbor in the attack that made the U.S. declare war on Japan. The U.S. lost 405,399 in the theaters of World War II.

...But then, immediately he admits he has no point whatsoever, he beetles on, as if he hadn't just shot himself in the mouth:

Despite a death toll that pales next to that of the great wars [another stunning admission against interest!], one casualty milestone after another has been observed and reflected upon this time, especially in Iraq.

[And who's doing the observing and reflecting?]

There was the benchmark of seeing more U.S. troops die in the occupation than in the swift and successful invasion. And the benchmarks of 1,000 dead, 2,000, 2,500.

Now this.

"There's never a good war but if the war's going well and the overall mission remains powerful, these numbers are not what people are focusing on," said Julian Zelizer, a political historian at Boston University. "If this becomes the subject, then something's gone wrong."

You bloody well bet your bippy "something's gone wrong," Professor Zelizer... but it's not a failure of nerve of the American people: it's that, unlike any other war we fought prior to Vietnam, the post-Vietnam media has eschewed both the principle of "a search for the truth" and even the previous war principle of "may she always be right, but our country, right or wrong."

The new media motto is "Amerika, scourge of the world!" I want to make it absolutely clear that I don't question the media moguls' patriotism. I nakedly assert they have none.

I don't know if Woodward (any relation?) wanted to write this revolting article, or if some AP editor assigned it to him. But he clearly embraced his task with enthusiasm, an almost obscene gloating in the deaths of American military personnel. Perhaps I'm overreacting; but read this and tell me there's no trace of cock-crowing:

As of Friday, the U.S. death toll stood at 2,693 in the Iraq war and 278 in and around Afghanistan, for a total of 2,971, two short of the Sept. 11 attacks.

The Pentagon reports 56 military deaths and one civilian Defense Department death in other parts of the world from Operation Enduring Freedom, the anti-terrorism war distinct from Iraq.

Altogether, 3,028 have died abroad since Sept. 11, 2001.

The civilian toll in Iraq hit record highs in the summer, with 6,599 violent deaths reported in July and August alone, the United Nations said this week.

Woodward reels off each number with the gusto of a sports fan reciting stats of his favorite baseball team. I almost get the impression he had them memorized already. (And don't forget, he already admitted that such milestones were meaningless; but not, evidently, to Calvin Woodward.)

The problem is not America. It's not the American people, or the right-wingers, or President Bush, or the neocons.

The problem is AP, Reuters, the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, the Washington Post, and the news division of the Wall Street Journal (which is as liberal as all the rest, in contrast to the editorial pages). The problem is Woodward himself, and all those like him -- arch grotesques who dance a little Snoopy dance when they can announce another "milestone" of death... and the milestones become millstones around our country's neck, trying to drag us from victory towards defeat like one of Tony Soprano's enemies sinking slowly into the Hudson River with a pair of cement overshoes.

Look at the language of Calvin Woodward:

  • He tells us each American death statistic in precise detail; but he says nary a word about enemy casualties, which have been staggingly higher.
  • He fails to mention the ouster of the Taliban and of Saddam Hussein, the democratic votes in those countries, the freedom of the people, successes such as the abandonment of nuclear weapons by Lybia's Qadaffi, or the many, many nations that have changed their spots in the last five years and now fight against the terrorists they once tolerated.
  • He triumphantly announces that civilian deaths in Iraq "hit record highs in the summer," without troubling to mention that after that peak, they receded very significantly.
  • And he uses misleading statistics to suggest comparisons of Iraq to WWII (to Iraq's detriment), when in fact the situations are incomparable.

That last point bears looking at:

A new study on the war dead and where they come from suggests that the notion of "rich man's war, poor man's fight" has become a little truer over time.

Among the Americans killed in the Iraq war, 34 percent have come from communities reporting the lowest levels of family income. Half come from middle income communities and only 17 percent from the highest income level.

That's a change from World War II, when all income groups were represented about equally. In Korea, Vietnam and Iraq, the poor have made up a progressively larger share of casualties, by this analysis.

The accusation is clear from the first paragraph above: "rich men" started the war, but they're sending "poor men" to fight it for them. I'm sure the statistic he cites is accurate; but I'm equally sure it's meaningless. What difference does it make whether a recruit comes from a community "reporting the lowest" or "the highest income level?" If you really want to argue that rich men are sending the poor to their deaths -- you need to look at the income level of the actual soldiers, not the "communities" from which they come.

And who chooses what constitutes a "community" anyway? If you draw the lines tendentiously enough, you can call any community either poor or rich, depending which is needed for the argument.

And of course, one reason that WWII, Korea, and Vietnam had greater participation by rich "communities" like the wealthy, liberal enclaves in New York, Connecticut, and Hollywood, California is that for those other wars, we had the draft. Does Woodward propose we bring it back, as liberal Democratic Rep. Charles Rangel (D-Harlem, 100%) has repeatedly demanded?

The modern, all-volunteer, American military draws disproportionately from the South, not because the South (as a region) is "poor," but because its moral values are more traditional, and because it has a tradition of military service unlike any other region in America. When young men and women in San Francisco, Chicago, Bangor, Philadelphia, and especially Chappaqua are allowed to choose, they tend not to choose to enlist.

Very well; that's freedom for you. But don't, for God's sake, use freedom as a bludgeon against Republicans. There's a limit even to the liberal aphorism "any stick to bash a conservative."

Well... in a decent world, there would be.

It really is time for the antique media to pull up its pants and choose sides (those of them who haven't long ago chosen the side of America's enemies). Until they do, we should not let them get away with standing on the sidelines making snide comments and pulling sarcastic faces. Even New York Times readers deserve better.

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, September 22, 2006, at the time of 7:29 PM | Comments (9) | TrackBack

July 29, 2006

Good News from the Front Lines - News Roundup

Afghan Astonishments , Good News! , Iraq Matters , War Against Radical Islamism
Hatched by Sachi

There is a lot of good news from the two main fronts, Iraq and Afghanistan; but you're not likely to have heard of any of these small victories unless you read a lot of milblogs.

First, Iraqi Army forces took down six death squad suspects. From ThreatsWatch:

Iraqi Army forces conducted a pre-dawn raid in Baghdad on July 25, capturing six targeted insurgents, all of whom are believed to be involved in ‘death squad’ activities.

As coalition force advisers looked on, Iraqi forces raided an objective in southwest Baghdad consisting of four separate buildings and captured the cell leader and five other key members of an insurgent ‘punishment committee.’

Iraqi forces also seized two AK-47 assault rifles, one pistol, and one set of body armor.

The operation occurred without incident; there were no Iraqi or coalition force casualties.

Hm... that's not good: we captured six bad guys but didn't lose any of ours. Does this violate the Fairness Doctrine?

Second, "Capt. B" at Milblogs reports that the U.S. Marines rescued three kidnap victims in Fuhuylat, Iraq:

Marines from 1st Battalion, 25th Marine Regiment rescued three hostages and uncovered a large weapons cache, including a fully-assembled suicide vehicle-borne improvised explosive device, during Operation Spotlight.

The intelligence-driven operation was conducted alongside Iraqi Army soldiers from 2nd and 4th Brigades, 1st Iraqi Army Division recently. The three hostages were personal assistants of Dr. Rafa Hayid Chiad Al-Isawi, an Iraqi government official in Baghdad. They were held by al-Qaeda insurgents for 27 days....

Marines also recovered IEDs and IED-making material, mortar tubes and round, artillery rounds, machine guns, bulk explosives, anti-tank mines, rocket-propelled grenades and launchers, AK-47 assault rifles, small-arms ammunition and video cameras.

I think I can hear Sen. Harry Reid (D-Caesar's Palace, 100%) already, calling our Marines bullies for not giving the Iraqis a chance. At least, given recent Democratic comments about Israel's "disproportionate" response, I assume that's what Reid would say, if he knew about this raid. Fortunately, he gets his news from the elite media, so he hasn't heard anything. At all.

The situation in Iraq is serious, but Iraqi forces are stepping up to the plate. Alongside American forces, they are raiding and arresting bad guys, not caring whether they're Shia death squad or al-Qaeda combatants.

Meanwhile in Afghanistan, coalition forces killed seven terrorists who attacked them. From CENTCOM:

BAGRAM AIRFIELD, Afghanistan – A Coalition patrol killed seven extremists on July 25 after they attacked Coalition forces in the Garmser District of Helmand Province.

There were no Coalition casualties in the fight. The Coalition unit received small arms, rocket-propelled grenade, machine gun and sniper fire from a group of extremists. The Coalition force returned fire, killing five insurgents

Later in the same area, insurgents fired small arms at an Afghan National Army mortar team, with a Coalition embedded tactical training team attached. The combined unit responded with machine gun fire and killed the remaining two insurgents.

“If enemy extremists fire upon Coalition forces, we will respond with deadly accuracy,” said Lt. Col. Paul Fitzpatrick, Combined Joint Task Force -76 spokesman. “If they attack Afghan civilians, we will respond just as forcefully. We remain committed to engaging any threats to the peaceful future of the Afghan people.”

Afghan National Security forces continue to maintain a strong presence in the area of Garmser and provide security that will enable reconstruction and humanitarian aid projects to be delivered that will improve the lives of the Afghan people.

I don't know, it sounds awfully disproportionate to me: we inflicted seven deaths, six captures, and released three hostages from those poor, honest terrorists just doing their jobs (kidnapping and terrorizing, butchering the innocent, the usual stuff), without losing a single one of our guys.

Is that allowed under the New international Proportional-War Theory?

Hatched by Sachi on this day, July 29, 2006, at the time of 6:31 AM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

June 1, 2006

That Bill Roggio... He's a Riot!

Afghan Astonishments
Hatched by Sachi

Bill Roggio, who used to run the Fourth Rail, is now in Afghanistan writing for Counterterrorism Blog. He reports on the aftermath of the Great Kabul Riot:

Kabul, Afghanistan: The city of Kabul has settled down after Monday's violent outbreak that followed a traffic accident involving a runaway U.S. military vehicle and Afghan civilians. The riots were suppressed in eight hours, and the Karzai government instituted an overnight curfew, which has been extended for Wednesday night. While many businesses were closed on Tuesday (I ventured out to pick up a cell phone on Tuesday but the business was closed), there was plenty of traffic and Afghan police and army on the streets. Several long-time residents of Kabul stated today it was business as usual, and the level of security on the streets was not out of the ordinary. Today I saw the streets filled with taxis, civilian cars and bicycles, businesses and markets were open, and the entrepreneurial street vendors selling phone cards, newspapers and other items were everywhere.

According to Roggio, the riot was not instigated by the Taliban, but rather by an ethnic minority called the Hazaris, who fought against the Taliban as part of the Northern Alliance:

The violence was not Taliban-inspired, but composed mainly of Hazaris. The Haziris are an ethnic group that fought the Taliban under the banner of the Northern Alliance and followers of Ahmad Shah Masood , who was killed by al-Qaeda two days prior to 9-11. Masood's image is prevalent in Kabul. The Hazaris have recently been marginalized by the Karzai administration after they lost their last cabinet post. The rioters were largely young, unemployed males, and there was a significant criminal element involved.

In addition, there is a general resentment by Afghans toward the aggressive driving habit of some foreign workers, especially those who work for private security companies. Even though the American forces are not particularly aggressive in their driving, when the truck slammed into a row of cars (the brakes failed), that resentment boiled over.

But overall, Roggio thinks the police performance was not too bad.

There have been questions about the performance of the police during the riots. Jawed Ludin, President Hamid Karzai's Chief of Staff, described the police's performance as "shameful" and stated "we have to strengthen our police." There have been reports that some police joined in the violence. But their performance was not a complete failure. Subduing a violent riot within eight hours is no small feat (see the past and current riots in France), particularly for a relatively new police and military. There has been no follow-on violence two days after the accident.

I think the police response was remarkably swift, considering the fact they are only few years old and have limited resources. Here in Los Angeles, for a counter-example, when we had our own riots in 1992, the violence and mob action continued for six days, before our pathetic police finally got a handle on it (the LAPD non-response to the riots ended the career of Police Chief Daryl Gates, who performed shamefully, despite a previously well-regarded and very long career). And nobody in the LA riots was using a Kalashnikov!

[An] American woman who escaped the riots in her neighborhood grudgingly gave credit to the police, which she is critical of for being heavy handed at times.

When her Afghan friend took her out of the home, he put her in the back of a truck and covered her so she would not be seen by the angry crowds. Afghan police nearby noticed this, stopped her friend, questioned them both, and even called over a policeman who spoke English (even though she spoke Farsi) to ensure she was not in danger. The police then provided them an escort out of the danger area. That certainly demonstrates a level of awareness of the situation, organization and an ability to act. Riots by definition are chaotic by nature, and the best of police forces have difficulty containing them.

Aside from the story of the riot, Roggio describes the area as thriving with a lot of business and heavy traffic. Considering what the surrounding rural areas of Afghanistan are like, I can only say that if your problem is that you're having automobile accidents, things may not be so bad.

Hatched by Sachi on this day, June 1, 2006, at the time of 3:33 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

May 23, 2006

80 Taliban Exit World

Afghan Astonishments , Good News!
Hatched by Sachi

In 87 Taliban Killed In Setback For U.S, Dafydd pointed out how AP often portrays our victories as defeats in disguise. Perhaps they've been reading Big Lizards -- here is the headline from today’s article, “Up to 80 Taliban Dead in U.S.- Led Strike.”

Are they sure “80 Taliban,” not "80 people” or “80 innocent civilians including women, children, and girly-man journalists?”

KANDAHAR, Afghanistan (AP) - A U.S.-led nighttime airstrike against Taliban rebels in southern Afghanistan killed up to 80 suspected militants, the coalition said Monday. The local governor said 16 civilians were killed and 16 wounded....

In a statement, the coalition said it had confirmed 20 Taliban killed in the attack on the village in Kandahar province late Sunday and early Monday, while there were "an unconfirmed 60 additional Taliban casualties."

Yep, they are Taliban all right. So aside from the usual confusion between deaths and casualties, that means in the last few days, Afghan soldiers and Coalition forces have killed about 170 bad guys. Not bad.

In an update to the story a little later, Lt. Gen. Karl W. Eikenberry upped the ante:

"The Taliban has suffered extraordinary losses in the last three or four weeks - several hundred Taliban killed in the field," he said. "We're the ones that are moving. They're the ones who are trying to hold."

"Several hundred" killed likely means four times as many wounded, many of whom won't make it (due to poor medical care for terrorists hiding in caves). So we have likely taken at least a thousand terrorists out of action in the last month alone.

Of course this being AP, they're not quite willing to admit these events are successes; from the earlier story:

The airstrikes brought the death toll of militants, Afghan forces, coalition soldiers and civilians to as many as 285 since Wednesday, according to coalition and Afghan figures. The storm of violence that erupted last week in the south was among the deadliest combat in Afghanistan since the ouster of the Taliban regime in 2001.

I really wish they would stop combining the deaths and casualties of the enemy, us, and random civilians; it muddies the reality.

The Taliban, like all terrorists, love to strike from within civilian areas, using locals as human shields and thinking that Americans will be so squeamish that we won't respond for fear of killing an innocent bystander. Very often, the shields themselves willingly help and protect the terrorists.

Small wonder that up to twenty "civilians" were also killed... though I'm not sure how you define a civilian in a war where the enemy wears no uniform and has no rank or insignia.

Even with the patented AP whirl, however, it's obvious that the recent attempts by the Taliban at creating a "Tet offensive" in Afghanistan were miserable failures. And that is very good news.

Hatched by Sachi on this day, May 23, 2006, at the time of 4:59 AM | Comments (6) | TrackBack

May 19, 2006

87 Taliban Killed In Setback For U.S.

Afghan Astonishments , Good News! , Media Madness
Hatched by Dafydd

Here's how it starts:

A brazen attack by hundreds of Taliban militants on an isolated town had been building for days, a coalition spokesman said Friday, after a wave of violence in southern Afghanistan left around 100 dead.

A hundred dead innocent villagers! Our policy is in tatters; Afghanistan is spiraling out of control in a cycle of violence... right?

Here is, as Paul Harvey says, the rest of the story:

The attack Wednesday night on Musa Qala in the volatile southern province of Helmand sparked eight hours of fighting and left about 40 Taliban and 13 Afghan police dead.

It was the epicenter of some of the fiercest combat since the Taliban regime's ouster by U.S.-led forces in late 2001 and raised new fears about deteriorating security in the hardline militia's former southern heartland.

In all, more than 100 people were reported killed in a string of attacks and engagements across Afghanistan that started Wednesday and continued through Thursday: up to 87 insurgents, at least 15 Afghan police, an American civilian training Afghan forces, and the first female Canadian soldier to die in combat.

"Deteriorating security?" All right, a show of hands: how many thought, reading the first paragraph, that a terrible catastrophe had just occurred in Afghanistan, and 100 peaceful civilians had just been brutally slain? I sure did; my heart leapt up my throat and almost gagged me.

This gets even better, however: we weren't the ones who killed 87 Taliban... it was the Afghan police and the townsmen of Musa Qala, making this absolutely great news:

[Coalition Spokesman Maj. Quentin] Innis said the Taliban often infiltrates villages and extorts money from tribal elders, but that leaders in Musa Qala had told the militants they weren't welcome. The militants then mounted their attack using machine guns and assault rifles.

Innis said coalition forces flew military aircraft overhead to scare the Taliban militants and as a show of force, but that the Afghan police forces did 100 percent of the fighting in the eight-hour clash.

"We see this as them taking control of the situation and sorting it out for themselves," he said. "We see it as very empowering on their part, and of course that's what we want, because eventually we're going to leave."

Why does the mainstream media do this? Even the best news is cast in a way that the casual reader will mistake it for dreadful news. At some point, surely some news reporter should rebel and say, "we're here to report history, not rewrite it." Don't they at least feel a little uneasy, deliberately misleading the American people?

I often wonder about this. The journalist community is largely left-liberal, but it's certainly not 100%. And even among the left-liberals, there must be some, a handful, who really do feel some small obligation to the truth.

So where are they? I went looking for the "Moslem Methodists" some months ago; should we send out a searching party for the Justice Journalists, the ones who say "darn the party line, I'm going to tell it like it is!"

But here, the rest of the rest of the story once again tries to undercut what's already been reported:

The fighting on Wednesday and Thursday was concentrated in the southern provinces of Helmand and Kandahar, the scene of repeated bombings and suicide attacks this year. But it marked an escalation in a region where the U.S.-led coalition is to cede control of security operations to NATO by July.

Yes... an escalation in the death toll of our enemies, the enemies of freedom, the people who spent days and tons of ordnance desperately trying to "kill" a couple of holy statutes (in between stoning women to death for being too attractive) to prove their god was bigger than the Buddhist "god". How can an attack that kills seventeen good guys and 87 bad guys be anything but a catastrophic defeat for the Taliban?

I tell you true: journalism has found a new floor to fall through; they are even worse today than they were in the epoch when Uncle Walter conjured defeat out of the American victory in the Tet Offensive. I now believe that most journalists are seriously clinically demented. At the very least, they have become so disassociated from reality that they have become a danger to themselves and others.

And we know what that usually entails.

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, May 19, 2006, at the time of 5:52 AM | Comments (5) | TrackBack

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