Pharsalia

If Kronicaly Bad Speling and excessive use of italiks bothers you, prepare to be bothered.

Thursday, June 30, 2005

So What Now?

Bush's speech was mearly OK. It did what it needed to do, but an opportunity was missed. Bush made the mistake of answering a question the country wasnt asking. Poll numbers arent going down because people have forgotten how and why Iraq is now central to the war on terrorism. Poll numbers are dropping because the people haven't been sufficiently and honestly told where we stand, what our goals are, and how we plan to get to them.

Now Bush touched on this to some degree, but it should have been the focus of his entire speech. The few Democrats that arent still arguing over why we shouldn't have gone to Iraq in the first place (a moot, unserious, pointless debate that has devoured the left) bring up 'facts' and issues that the White House doesnt address very well.

To their credit, Joe Biden and John Kerry are looking at Iraq as a problem to be solved instead of a political loadstone that must be firmly fitted to the President. To their shame, their talking points range from the immaterial to the flatly false. But Bush has broken one of his own political rules by not immediately addressing these arguments with overwhelming force. When Joe Biden says:
"the answer is that there are very few of those Iraqis who are trained to the only standard that counts, that is, the ability to take over for an American troop."

It's a reasonable point. But where is the correct reply, that at this moment we dont need Iraqi forces up to American standards, with perfect logistics and command and control. Who is noting that although only three IA battalions are what is considered 'combat ready' by our standards, we dont need them to have the heavy weapons and tanks required for such a certification just yet? Who is countering Biden by noting that over 40,000 Iraqi troops at this moment have taken over controlling Baghdad in Operation Thunder and Operation Lightning, have in fact freed up enough US forces so we could carry out Operation New Market and Operation Spear hence bringing the fight to the enemy at a far greater tempo then we have yet seen?

These are the kind of strategic issues the average voter doesnt know about, much less understand. Bush needs to explain the we dont yet need Iraqi forces totally prepared to send American boys home. That is at least 18 months off, by the most optimistic estimates. Bush needs to tell us that there are already tens of thousands of Iraqi troops in the field despite what Biden says. Tell us where they are, how many attacks they have stopped, how many terrorists detained. Bush should explain the ramifications of thousands of newly freed up American troops policing the borders and launching strikes, and how every unit untied from garrison duty is just as good as a fresh unit brought in theater. In fact better.

In short, Bush needs to explain why, although the insurgency may be no weaker, we grow stronger. The insurgents are becoming relatively, if not absolutely, weaker. The American public needs to be told that every day we get closer to victory, because every day Iraqis get closer to security and justice. If 1000 Iraqi rifles can replace only 100 American, thats still 100 more American GIs and marines who can go out hunting terror instead of garrisoning checkpoints. Think about what that will mean in 6 weeks, in 6 months, in 2 years.

The White House hasnt made this simple yet critical point. Insugents win by slowly becoming stronger until they match and overwhelm their target. An insurgency that gets weaker over time is doomed. Tell the people what the plan is, and how it works. We know why we are there, now tell us what we are doing to get our boys and girls home victorious.

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Remind me not to get in a snark fight with Jonah Goldberg

Ouch. Jonah Goldberg absolutely fillets this young Muslim Harvard student who somehow managed to pomposs her way into this NYT op-ed. And Al Gore gets caught in the collateral backblast. Wrong place wrong time Al, no good deed goes unpunished after all.

Jonah is priceless, but even being blistered by wit cannot atone for the utter gall of the NYT in publishing this tripe.

Because I work out with my scarf on, people stare - just as they do on the streets of Cambridge


Well, duh. When I work out in my snowsuit and mittens people stare too. Sorry but most folks just arent that exposed to Muslims, particularly those devout enough to work out in front of men, but wear the hijab for modesty. Sorry, am I judging? Ever wonder if Jews get stared at on occasion for wearing their yamakas? Or Hindus for their bindi? Personally im guessing my Mexican Wrestling mask draws some stares when im blasting my tri's at the Bally's, but im too busy checking out my guns to notice.

And I'm supposed to believe this sort of seething intolerance at a healthclub in Cambridge? Short of Berkeley I cant think of a much more welcoming place. Heck, being dragged into the street by her brothers and lit on fire as an honor killing would probably draw scattered applause from the humanities department. 'Way to uphold your ancient culture fellas! Hey, whats with those rocks?'

Mr. Gore had gotten off his machine behind me, picked up my keys, handed them to me and then resumed his workout. It was nothing more than a kind gesture, but at that moment Mr. Gore's act represented all that I yearned for - acceptance and acknowledgment.
Thank god he was there. And surely this whole story of angst and persecution wasnt concocted later as a meaningful preamble to Al Gore picking her up keys. Surely not.

Its hard to imagine what kind of a person feels empowered by the inventor of the internet handing over a set of keys, but doesnt seem particularly enfranchised being enrolled in the most reknowned institution of higher learning in the nation (take that Yalee!). This is how America treats its lowest caste, we send them to Havard and give them ink to waste in the New York Times. Fine, I wear it with pride.

Monday, June 27, 2005

The Timeline

President Bush may have painted himself into an unfortunate corner. Last week, the presidented rejected the call from Congressional Democrats to disclose a timeline for the withdrawal of troops from Iraq. He was right to do so, the type of timeline the political opposition has in mind would be an invitation for the jihadis to wait us out. Such inflexability is one of the hallmarks of military defeat, we need to be able to react to evolving circumstances without a rigid deadline that could spell doom for all we have done to date.

But (you knew there was a but coming), the concept of a timeline in general is a good idea, and perhaps a critical idea. Military historians point to the British experience in Malaya as the textbook for how to defeat an insurgency. The Malayan Emergency dealt with many of the same hurdles we see in Iraq, an indigenous enemy with aid from idiologically sypathetic neighbors, ancient ethnic strife, and a nontraditional victory condition, ie, winning not so the troops can stay, but winning so they can leave (lets not forget how odd that is historically). One of the generally recognized keys to the British victory was... setting a timeline for ultimate British withdrawal.

In this case (as it should be in ours) the timeline was not set in months or years, but rather corresponded to certain conditions being met on the ground. The Brits promised to leave once the insurgency was defeated and a stable, multiethnic government could maintain itself. This agreement was kept and the British relations with the Malaysians remains strong to this day.

In Iraq, reports are coming in that major parts of the Sunni insurgency may be ready to cut a deal. It is extremely interesting that the major demand they have made (indeed the centerpeice of their demands) is a schedule of US withdrawal.

The newspaper said the insurgents "had agreed beforehand to focus their main demand" on a guaranteed timetable of U.S. withdrawal. "We told them it did not matter whether we are talking about one year or a five-year plan but that we insisted on having a timetable nonetheless," one of the Iraqi sources was quoted as saying.


This is no small matter. The insurgents could have asked for freeing of detainees, withdrawl from Sunni towns, or any number of demands which would have strengthened their hand. Instead they asked for something for which they have something of a legitimate greviance. The US has never said when it would leave Iraq, indeed President Bush has never gone so far as to say directly that we intended to leave. That is a big mistake.

Many of the Sunni insurgents are truly fighting to get foriegners off of their land, just as untold numbers of men have risen up in the past, regardless of the larger picture. Foriegners are here when they should be there has been a reason de guerre since the dawn of time. If we can get a wedge into that sentiment, assure the suspicious Iraqis we are going to leave, we can break off the Sunnis and possibly even turn them against the foriegners. That is what their negotitations hint at. Understanding our enemy is vital, and it is entirely too facile to continue to parrot the idea that the Sunnis want the country back for themselves and that is why they fight. We may be disasterously wrong in believing that to be the prime motivation.

What we need is a timetable, not one composed of dates certain, but a timeline composed of events. The President needs to make clear that we have no intention of keeping a single GI in Iraq once the government is stable and the insurgency defeated. From there, further breakdowns are possible. We should negotiate with the Sunni insurgents by making it clear to them that our drawdown will be based largely on their actions. For instance, once the Sunnis participate in the next elections and an all Iraqi government sits under the new constitution early next year, we will withdraw a small force as a token of trust. Further drawdowns will be related to similar events, or even nonevents. When attacks fall below certain levels, or when Al Qaeda cells are handed over to us or 'dealt with', troops will be drawn down as a reward. We have little to lose here. The Iraqi Army is stronger every day and able to take up much of the slack already. Better yet we can move our troops to nearby Kuwait where they can quickly respond to a crisis.

The bottom line is that the Sunni's have a point. We have addressed many issues in Iraq relating to justice and law, but we have yet to specifically address our own responsibilities to leave the Iraqis in peace. Words count for little with the Sunnis, but they are better than nothing. We can forge a relationship and build up trust a little at a time, all the while gaining strength. Then when the time comes we can leave Iraq permanantly and with honor. There are other places to build military bases. It's important that the President not miss this opportunity just because the opposition brought it up (if in a flawed form and dubious motivation). After all, even a stopped clock is right twice a day.

Friday, June 24, 2005

Off for the Weekend

I do sound for a cover band here in Chicago as a sideline (really a hobby at this point), so weekends tend to be pretty busy, especially keeping up the band drinking quota. There wont be much if any blogging this weekend, although I have considered inventing Sound Board Blogging, which would probably consist of making fun of botched lyrics and dropped beats. And of course who the pretty girls are ogling the Mix Master Mark (ok that rarely [never]happens).


Get some sun man! Posted by Hello

The Schmozz Comes to Washington

The term 'schmozz' (or screwjob) comes to us from the world of professional wrestling. A schmozz is usually considered a cheap out, where at the logical finale of a match some form of artificial (moreso than usual) confusion is introduced to prevent a clean ending. This often (but not always) takes the form of a number of wrestlers not involved in that particular match storming the ring and spurring a double disqualification. The schmozz is usually considered poor booking by smart wrestling fans, because:

1. It is uncreative. The schmozz has been done to death.
2. It promises a resolution and then denies it to us. Nobody likes a tease.
3. It is almost always done to protect the reputations of the wrestlers ('heat'), as opposed to giving the fans what they paid for.


But the main reason people hate the schmozz is because it is a clear indication that the writers didn't know what else to do.

Well, i've always said that wrastling is just a form of politics with cooler outfits. The schmozz wasnt invented by wrestlers, they just coined the term. Its the oldest trick in the book in politics as well. To wit:

"The war to remove the Taliban government from power was over in 2001 and the president has said the mission was a success," said Jennifer Crider, Mrs. Pelosi's press secretary.


Actually, the famous 'mission accomplished' banner referred to Iraq, and in fact even that wasnt an accurate attack, as the banner belonged to the ship, which was returning to port. A schmozz inside a schmozz.

That, of course, is just one small example of what the opposition has been reduced to. We see it constantly in the torture allegations, when discussing conditions at Guantanamo, allegations relating to Abu Ghraib or Iraq always sneak into the discussion as though they were the same place. Someone invariably brings up the dozens of deaths in detention, when to our best knowledge no prisoner has ever died at Guantanamo Bay. Democrats and their media allies happily mix and match Iraq, Afghanistan, and the GWOT as it suits them, while often reminding us that Iraq is not the same as Afghanistan. Brazen hypocracy. Pelosi, Durbin, and the rest of the 'anti-war but wont admit it crowd' have taken the intellectual gloves off and are throwing everything against the wall hoping something will stick. It is a schmozz in every sense of the word. Call them on it. Demand a point by point explanation of their arguments, and object when the ad hominem begins (almost instantly you can bet). The Schmozz works in wrestling because its a story being told, not a dialog. We need to make sure the dialog continues and the idiotarian propaganda is challenged at every turn.

 

Thursday, June 23, 2005



A Study in Incoherence


Nancy Pelosi is the gift that keeps on giving. Confirming that Galt's Law is firmly at work, the Democrats Minority Leader of the House made some really strange comments recently:


"I assume that the war in Afghanistan is over, or is the contention that you have that it continues?" she said to a reporter. A few moments later, she said: "This isn't about the duration of the war. The war in Afghanistan is over."


Huh? I assume Pelosi knows we have many thousands of US troops in Afghanistan who would beg to differ with her. From Stratedy Page:

AFGHANISTAN: Taliban Camp Wiped Out
June 23, 2005: In several days of fighting, American warplanes, and Afghan troops, chased several dozen Taliban from a town in southern Afghanistan, found their camp and attacked it. Some 76 Taliban were killed, and another 30 were captured, including several leaders.


Is it just me, or might it seem to the average American (not to mention the soldiers in country) that Pelosi is more interested in making hay about Guantanamo than in dealing with very real threats in Afghanistan? Combine this with Dick Durbin and you might just get the idea that a new plank in the DNC platform is Terrorists Rights. Good luck in '06.

But aside from being flip and unserious, Pelosi compounds her inanity with this, via her spokeswoman Jennifer Crider:

"One of the main reasons that our troops continue to be attacked by al Qaeda and Taliban fighters today is because President Bush decided to invade Iraq, diverting critical resources needed to secure Afghanistan. Unfortunately, the demands of the war in Iraq have made the job of our brave troops in Afghanistan much more difficult," the spokeswoman said.


That's part of her defense for why she said the war was over in Afghanistan. Completely incoherent. The war is over, but we are still fighting the enemy, and even though we won we still didnt provide enough troops (due to Iraq) and hence we are still fighting the war. The war that is over. Can anybody make heads or tails of this? My best guess is that the talking points from'03 got mixed up with the current ones, but it's hard to say.
Remember, the Enemy's gate is down


The ever underrated Bill Roggio of Winds of Change is discussing this report on the improving skills of the insugency.

The latest report indicates that terrorists are gaining “a broad range of skills, from car bombings and assassinations to coordinated conventional attacks on police and military targets” and are likely to take their skills with them to their home countries, and even infiltrate Western societies “once the insurgency ends.”


I think I speak for anyone with a knowledge of military history when I say "DUH". The enemy that we are fighting becomes better at what they do as get more experience? And this is news? Once again, we are seeing the results of a press and political class that simply have no knowledge or experience when it comes to things military. Someone should write a primer, and if they do make sure one of the lessons is that 'when you fight you risk killing off your stupid enemies and endowing your smart ones with experience, should they survive'. Sorry, that ones nonnegotiable unless you can find some way to make sure you kill or capture every single opponent. So we are back to the zero defects demand for our military.

So what is missing from this analysis? Well, the fact that there are less terrorists in raw numbers because their experience is dearly bought, for one thing. If we are in fact 'creating' more terrorists as some claim, the newbies certainly dont bring skills and experience to the table that can replace the veterans we kill on a daily basis. Raw numbers count for little.

Secondly, and more importantly, we are getting much better. Yes indeed, its not a bad idea to consider both sides of the equation when you are talking about who's winning. Several hundred thousands US troops have become extremely proficient in fighting insurgents. Our guys survive to fight another day far more often than the terrorists do, and it shows. They get better, and we get better, that is how wars go, but we are getting better faster. The bad news for the insurgents is that we are far better able to pass our knowledge and skill on to the new Iraqi Army compared to whatever dregs of Middle Eastern society the bad guys can trick, bribe, or intimidate into joining their ranks. Its hard to find experienced suicide bombers, at least ones that are any good at their craft.

Wednesday, June 22, 2005


The Candy War

This war (and make no mistake, Iraq, Afghanistan, and the GWOT will be intractably intertwined in the history books) is being won by the soldiers on the ground. I know, its rote that every war is won by the grunts, and there is truth to that. Some wars are won because the commanders managed not to lose it before their troops could win. Some are won because some genius general turned his army into an extension of his will and imposed himself on the enemy. This war will fall into the former catagory, but uniquely its not the bullets and the bombs that will do the enemy the most damage and our friends the most good.

Jdhooshi produced a sack of candy and began giving it to the flock of children that appeared. The kids mobbed him but he’s an experienced candy man.- Austin Bay in Afghanistan

Just one example of thousands, in Iraq and Afghanistan. Read the soldiers blogs and the candy ritual is everpresent. Bush said long ago that this war would take years, perhaps a generation. He's right. And when this generation grows up they will remember it was the religious zealots who brought death and destruction, and it was the American soldiers who brought candy and hope.
Andrew Sullivan is being intellectually dishonest.

at the same time, the dehumanization of detainees by U.S. interrogators, as cited by Durbin, is indeed something that could have happened under totalitarian regimes and is pragmatically and morally indefensible

In the big picture, he has a point. In Durbin's specific case, he is rushing blindly to defend the indefensible. The bottom line is that for what Durbin specifically said to be true, you have to believe that the acts in the FBI report he read rose, not only to the level of torture, but to the level of torture we would expect out of the worst regimes in history. Its simply absurd.

Sullivan is spinning the argument breathlessly, trying to toss every allegation of US mistreatment in Iraq and elsewhere over the last 5 years. That is not the argument Durbin made, and hence Sullivan is introducing irrelevant and inflamatory charges into the debate. No judge in the country would allow that.

The reason Sullivan feels the need to do this is because he knows how silly it is to try to convince the American people that the acts witnessed in that FBI report are out of bounds when dealing with bloody handed Al Qaeda terrorists captured on battlefields and on their way to kill American children.

When you read the account Durbin was citing you notice an important thing: the detainees were thoroughly dehumanized, robbed of any personal dignity, left in extremes of heat and cold, shackled, covered in their own urine and excrement, with one having apparently torn parts of his hair out, and left without food or water for up to 24 sleepless hours.

We can debate that all we want, of course. But politically, its a lost cause. There is simply no way, Sullivan's apoplexy notwithstanding, that the American people are going to equate this with the pulling of fingernails or electricution of genitals commonly understood to be torture. Its not going to happen. Because it is silly.


If you had been told that prisoners had been found in this state in one of Saddam's or Stalin's jails, would you have believed it? Of course, you would.

Actually no, I would find the techniques particularly mild. Here's the real question, if I told you these acts had been carried out by the British, French, or Israeli intelligence services interrogating captured terrorists in their own battles against terror, would you believe it? Of course, you would.

Andrew, your mate in the foxhole has put down his shovel. You should do the same.
Ohhhh good.

The AC fan went out on my jeep this morning. Sposed to get up to around 90 here in Chicagoland. Sweet.

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Pope to march for poverty?

Well, probably not, but Bob Geldof wants him to:

Geldof says wants Pope to join G8 poverty march

The real question is, will His Holiness be riding in this:




New Pope-mobile? Posted by Hello

I will not rest until I convince the world that Ratzinger is in fact The Emperor.
Reuters strikes again

Troops to stay in Iraq despite 'progress'


By Charles Aldinger 2 hours, 49 minutes ago
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Despite reported successes against the insurgency in Iraq, a top U.S. military commander said on Tuesday the United States was unlikely to begin reducing its 135,000 troops there before elections late this year


Scare quotes, spin, 'reported successes'. Got to love Reuters for a fair and balanced story. Lets see how long it stays in this form up on Yahoo's main page, they have been pretty good about getting these things changed when people start complaining. They have lots of experience trying to carry Reuters and AP headlines, thats certain. The ironic part is, they point to the possible military drawdown as something that anyone was seriously considering before the end of this year. Nothing like spinning good news as bad news. Thanks Reuters, now go round up some more jihadis to string for you.
Andrew Sullivan is out seconding Dick Durbin's torture allegations. -Sigh- Fisking clearly required.



DURBIN SAID NOTHING WRONG: I've now read and re-read Senator Dick Durbin's comments on interrogation techniques at Guantanamo Bay. They are completely, perfectly respectable

Respectable? Aside from a blazen disregard for Godwin's Law, is obvious hyperbole involving the conduct of our troops ever perfectly respectable?

The rank hysteria being perpetrated by some on the right is what is shameful.

Pot, this is my friend kettle. We're about to see some rank hysteria.

Hugh Hewitt should answer one single question: does he doubt the FBI interrogator who witnessed the appalling treatment of some detainees at Guantanamo?

I will take the liberty of answer for Hugh. No. He does not doubt the FBI agent.

Is Hewitt arguing that the interrogator was lying?

Again, the answer is No.

Does he believe that the kind of tactics used against this prisoner are worthy of the United States?

Ah! Now we're on to something, and I had better step out of Hugh's shoes and speak for myself. Yes. The answer is Yes Andrew. When interrogating terrorists captured on battle fields such as OBL's bodyguards and the 20th hijacker, yes, the methods described by Senator Durbin are entirely worthy of the United States.

If he were told this story and informed that it occurred in, say, Serbia under Milosevic, would he be surprised?

If I were told this story and informed it occured under Milosevic, I would be rather surprised at the lack of, well torture, much less mass murder. Turn and turn about Andrew: if you were told this story and informed it occurred in a Special Forces training excercise, would you be surprised?

Hewitt should then answer the same question about the 5 detainees which the U.S. government itself has acknowledged were tortured to death by U.S. interrogators, and the scores of others who died in detention during or after "interrogation".

There are many things wrong with this sentance. First of all, it is entirely irresponsible to imply the US government ever endorsed, defended, or encouraged murdering detainees. There is zero evidence of said, and in fact there are US soldiers sitting in prison at this moment for abusing and killing prisoners. Secondly the slur about 'scores' of prisoners has been addressed by Hewitt and many others. As anyone not blinded by Torture Tunnel Vision (Sullivan Syndrome?) should know, almost all of those deaths occurred do to either war wounds sustained on the battlefield, or prison breaks. It is simply wrong to toss out accusations like this without context. Finally, and most importantly, Dick Durbin made specific comparisons to a specific document. He was speaking about Guantanamo bay, and the FBI agents report. Tossing Abu Ghraib and every other alleged mistreatment of prisoners against the wall is intellectually dishonest. To my knowledge, no-one has died at Guantanamo, and I am positive the FBI account specifically and intentionally sited by Durbin alleged nothing remotely close to that.

It is this administration that has brought indelible shame on America, and it's people like Dick Durbin who prove that some can actually stand up against this stain on American honor and call it what it is. Good for him. Thank God for him.

Sure. We need more like him. If we're going to lose this war and prove to our enemies just how soft we are. Sorry Andrew, Durbin directly stated that reading an account of Al Qaeda terrorists being handcuffed and shackled (ask the prison guard in New York who lost an eye to a caged terrorist if thats necessary), made to sit in hot rooms, and not being able to eat or drink for less than a day while enduring Christina Aguilerra made him think that Nazis or Stalinists had been at work. That was exactly Durbin's claim. Sullivan isnt just white washing, he's throwing even more crap at the wall hoping to hide Durbin's actual words in a sea of allegations. That is unfair. Look at what the Senator said and what he cited as his evidence. That is how one engages in logical debate. If one is not suffering from Sullivan Syndrome.

Monday, June 20, 2005

CONSPIRACY!
This is some explosive stuff, so I cant guarantee anyones safety after viewing this.
So, brave knights, if you do doubt your courage or your strength, come no further, for death awaits you all with nasty big pointy teeth:



Pope or Palp? Click to enlarge... if you dare. Posted by Hello