Thursday, August 26, 2004

Target Centermass Has Moved

Well, it took longer than hoped, but it's time to unveil my project. This blog is moving to its own domain, (EDIT: updated from .com to .net on 19 DEC 04 because of hosting issues) I'll try to contact those who have been so kind as to link to me.

I also want to recommend as an excellent place for new bloggers. Try it and see if blogging is right for you.

Tuesday, August 17, 2004


I promise I haven't stopped blogging. Please be patient -- there are big changes coming.

Friday, August 13, 2004

Are the Media Finally Hearing the Swiftvets?

Working on a project tonight so there may be no original posting.

Check back later but, for now, a tip of the CVC to Captain's Quarters for finding a hard-hitting editorial about Kerry and the Swiftvets. It looks like the walls around Fortress Kerry may be showing some cracks.
With his campaign being pounded by the very "band of brothers" that John Kerry invoked time and again on the stump, his advisors have been working overtime on two tracks: discredit the veterans he once presumed would wholeheartedly support him and keep the story out of the mainstream press.

Thursday, August 12, 2004

Feel-Good Story: Iraqi Olympians

Target Centermass is now, with this post, hitting its century mark, 100 posts and I'm sticking with it. I've decided to devote this post to the Iraqi soccer team's surprising 4-2 win over Portugal.
"This victory will be received with happiness by my people, who have suffered through much," said Iraqi coach Adnan Hamad, whose countrymen were already taking to the streets of Baghdad, lighting up the night sky with streaks of celebratory gunfire.

The stunning victory over a team that made it to final of the recent Euro 2004 tournament brought a rare moment of joy for Iraqis plagued by violence, chaos and constant power outages.

Across their homeland, they watched the game on television at home and at cafes. Even people at a Baghdad barbershop took time out of their late-night haircuts to celebrate the goals.

Reciprocity II

I don't know how he found me, but this guy linked to Target Centermass. After checking out his site, I recommend anybody who wants to really understand Texans check out this guy. For what it's worth, I plan on hitting this guy's camping business up some.

The Fat Guy

I'd love to sip a brew with this guy at a Rider's game. Comments section is wide open, Scott.

The News from Iraq and Thoughts on Najaf

The obvious story of the day in Iraq is the developments in Najaf, with the U.S. increasing the pressure on the thorn-in-the-side-of-the-day of the new Iraqi government, the fuzzy-faced Muqtada al-Sadr.
Thousands of U.S. troops sealed off Najaf's vast cemetery, its old city and a revered Shiite shrine Thursday and unleashed a tank, infantry and helicopter assault against militants loyal to Muqtada al-Sadr. They also stormed the radical cleric's home, but he was not there.

As billows of black smoke drifted across Najaf amid the clatter of military helicopters, gunmen in a house near the shrine shot at U.S. forces patrolling the 5-square-mile cemetery. Militants hiding in the cemetery took fire from the Apaches and from American soldiers crawling on the roofs of single-story buildings. When the gunships turned away, the insurgents in the graveyard shot back.

As the day began, the military trumpeted the operation as the beginning of a major assault on al-Sadr's fighters.

"Major operations to destroy the militia have begun," said Maj. David Holahan, executive officer of the 1st Battalion, 4th Marine Regiment.

Later Thursday, a spokesman for the top Marine command in Iraq (news - web sites), Lt. Col. T.V. Johnson, said that although there was some fighting and some Najaf residents have fled the city, the combat has been "sporadic and there have been no major engagements" with the militiamen.
The story goes on to ominously mention the dangers inherent in fighting near the holy Shiite mosque and the protests and violence elsewhere in the country resulting from the Iraqi/American push. The interim government and the U.S. have tried to counter this with a modicum of restraint.
In Baghdad, Iraqi officials were at pains to assure the public that U.S. troops were not in the shrine compound and only Iraqi forces would enter the shrine if it became necessary.

Damage to the building or a U.S. military presence there would set off an outcry across the country and much of the Muslim world.

The government blamed the al-Sadr's followers for the violence.

"This is a conspiracy against the Iraqi people, targeting all of Iraq," Interior Minister Falah Hassan al-Naqib said during a briefing Thursday. "Who will benefit from this? Who will benefit from targeting these holy places?"
I wasn't a blogger at the time, but I posted a few months back on an internet discussion forum that the primary difference between the Iraqi occupation and the post-WWII occupations of Japan and Germany was that the people of the former Axis countries absolutely knew that they had been defeated. So much of the Iraq takeover had been intended to diminish the hardship on the populace and wrap things up in a speedy manner that I don't think this feeling of defeat was ever sent to the Iraqi people and the Arab world. We shredded a military and the world barely knew it.

Looking back, the threatened Shock-and-Awe campaign, which was never actually unleashed, possibly should've been. The Arab world and Joe Iraqi needed to know the might and ruthlessness of the U.S. in the war against terror. We allowed the possible importance of an al-Sadr by not showing the willingness to destroy. Now, that card is off the table. We have established an interim government that we cannot undermine. To do so, unless absolutely needed, would be reckless beyond comprehension.

So what does this mean in Najaf today? We are within a mile or two of the shrine, apparently on all sides. Surprisingly, my vote is for restraint. Me, the fan of carpet bombing. Yes, restraint but, more accurately, siege. Cordon off the small area. No one enters. No one leaves alive or not in custody or not in a body bag. Snipe them all, if needed. No food, water or media allowed in until al-Sadr surrenders or dies. There is no glory to an Islamic militia that slowly slips into captivity.

We set this up by playing with kid's gloves, and now it's better we follow it through that way. A desperate, hungry (seriously, he could use the under-siege diet) al-Sadr looking patheticly meek would be the best result of this.

In other equally important Iraq news, the Iraqi government will convene Sunday to determine the interim national assembly.
The conference, considered a crucial step in the country's move toward democracy, was to have been held in late July, but was delayed to allow more time for preparations — a postponement encouraged by the United Nations.

Some areas of the country complained last month that they hadn't been given enough time to agree on delegates, and officials expressed worries the gathering would be a target for terror attacks. The postponement was announced the day after a car bombing killed 70 people in Baqouba, underscoring the continuing wave of violence across the country.

In addition, key political groups had threatened to boycott the conference. U.N. officials wanted more time in hopes of persuading those factions to attend, but it wasn't immediately clear Thursday if they had changed any minds.

"We invite everyone to take part in the political process," Dawoud told reporters.

The conference, made up of 1,000 delegates from Iraq's 18 provinces as well as tribal, religious and political leaders, is intended to help choose a 100-member national assembly that will counterbalance the interim government.

The assembly will have the power to approve the national budget, veto executive orders with a two-thirds majority and appoint replacements to the Cabinet in the event a minister dies or resigns.
This is key in bringing the new government one step closer to the Iraqi people. The closer the interim government is to the populace, the more they are intertwined in determining a democratic future for the nation. While not getting the attention that al-Sadr's latest cat-and-should-be-already-dead-mouse game is drawing, this could have a greater effect in the long term hopes of bringing democratic stability to the region.

Wednesday, August 11, 2004

The Captain Nails Kerry Again

Read this. Then make your friends read it.
This major flip-flop has handed George Bush a belated endorsement of his Iraq policy, even while John Kerry has said he'd do everything else differently -- but has yet to actually say what that would be. Even his secret plan wound up being a rehash of what Bush has already done, except for the transfer of sovereignty, which his European friends insisted on and which Bush himself recognized as a must. (Kerry wanted a UN "high commissioner" to run Iraq indefinitely.)
Captain Ed is very quickly pushing his way up my list of favorite bloggers.

Olympics ... Yawn

Never in my life have I felt so underwhelmed about the Olympics, and I can't put my finger on why that is. Is it the loss of USA vs USSR? The influx of our professional athletes, as opposed to the days of old when it was our amateurs against the Soviet and East German so-called amateurs? Is it the drug scandals? Is it the fear of possible terror? Is it the move to have the Winter games offset so we now have an Olympiad every other year? I just don't know. Maybe I'll get into whatever remains of the Olympic spirit after the games start.

Kerry Chooses Raising Taxes Over Funding War

In his latest spinning of his vote against the $87 billion in funding for the troops and the Iraqi campaign, John Kerry said today that his nay vote was really against Bush's tax cuts.
President Bush says you can not negotiate with terrorists; they must be brought to justice. The president again criticized Senator Kerry for opposing an $87 billion supplemental appropriation for the U.S. military last year, saying American troops sent into battle must have the best equipment.

Senator Kerry says he voted against that money because he wanted it to come from the president's record tax cuts instead of adding to the federal deficit.
This is stupid on so many levels. Does this mean that he actually voted for the tax cuts before he voted against them? A presidential candidate should never say he played politics while trying to withhold support from the troops and the war effort. This statement just begs to be publicized to the voters and those in uniform.

Tuesday, August 10, 2004

U.S. Demands Najaf Militants End Fighting

While it is a somewhat interesting twist in an ongoing story, I felt driven to post this just because I love the quote I've put in bold.
U.S. forces adopted a new tactic Tuesday in their sixth day of battles in this city south of the capital, sending patrols armed with loudspeakers into the streets to demand that militants loyal to a radical cleric drop their arms and leave Najaf immediately or face death.

The call, broadcast in Arabic from American vehicles, added a psychological component to the U.S. offensive. It came as U.S. helicopter gunships pummeled a multistoried building 400 yards from the gold-domed Imam Ali Shrine with rockets, missiles and 30 mm cannons — one of the closest strikes yet to what is one of the holiest sites in Shia Islam.

Plumes of thick, black smoke rose from the building, which serves as a hotel for visitors to the shrine. Witnesses said insurgents were firing from inside it and that U.S. forces returned fire.

"We've pretty much just been patrolling and flying helicopters all over the place, and when we see something bad, we blow it up," said U.S. Marine Maj. David Holahan, executive officer of the 1st Battalion, 4th Marines Regiment.

Nearby, Bradley fighting vehicles swept through a huge cemetery, pursuing small pockets of militants hiding in elaborate concrete tombs. Choppers provided support, firing rockets from above, witnesses said.
I'm thinking Maj. David Holahan would've made a good tanker.

Grab a Drink and Read This

Doffing the CVC to the greatness that is Vodkapundit for his look at strategies going forward in the war against radical Islam based on lessons learned from the Cold War.
By now, you probably know where I'm going with this little history lesson: How do we define victory in the Terror War, and what will the peace look like.

Let's get the second part out of the way first.

What will the peace look like? I don't have a damn clue. And neither do you. And if you meet anyone who claims to know, feel free to laugh at them really hard. So hard, you get a little spit on their face. Sometimes, justice can be small and spiteful – ask a meter maid. Anyway.

When peace comes, it could look like whatever Mecca, Tehran, Damascus, Riyadh, Pyongyang, Khartoum, Kabul, Cairo, etc., look like after being hit by big city-busting nuclear warheads. Or it could end with the entire Arab and Muslim world looking like the really well-manicured bits of Connecticut. My best guess is, somewhere in-between. But that's only a guess.

NOTE: It's a sad state of affairs (their affairs, not ours) that the first scenario, no matter how repugnant and unlikely, still seems more likely than the second scenario, no matter how virtuous.

Now that we know that we don't know how we'll win, that leaves the question (and the oxymoron): How do we win?
Go. Read. Learn why Stephen Green is one of my favorite bloggers.

Palestinian Inquiry Blames Arafat for Anarchy

It seems that even the Palestinians have figured out that Arafat is the Palestinian problem personified.
A Palestinian Legislative Council investigation says the Palestinian Authority, and its president Yasser Arafat, are to blame for failure of the Palestinian security forces to restore law and order in the Gaza Strip. The committee also calls for the resignation of the Prime Minister Ahmed Qureia's government and that new general elections be held.

The panel's report follows a month-long inquiry in which dozens of people were interviewed, ranging from Prime Minister Qureia to leading commanders of security forces, and activists from the mainstream Fatah faction from all over Gaza. Their blunt testimony charged that the Palestinian leadership failed to build state institutions and as a result used clan loyalties instead of law to deal with out-of-control armed factions.

The five-member committee was made up of both Arafat loyalists and those advocating reform with the Palestinian Authority.

The report lays the blame for the failure of the security forces to restore law and order to what it calls "the total lack of a clear political decision" and to no definition of roles for security forces "either for the long term or the short."
Unfortunately, the Palestinians haven't figured out the true first step in repairing their problem, which is the abandonment of Arafat the terrorist. Peace and prosperity for the Palestinian people cannot be attained under Yasser, as they would only lead to his eventual loss of relevance in the region and on the world stage. Arafat knows this and will not allow it.

Monday, August 09, 2004

Rock'em, Sock'em Banner

Kudos and a tip of the CVC to A Small Victory and Sekimori Design for the new banner.

Man, I loved Rock'em, Sock'em Robots as a kid. One small issue: in today's political arena, I'd be rooting for the red states' robot.

Iraqi Minister Singles Out Iran for Supporting Insurgents

The Iraqi defense minister has identified an old and expected enemy as being a supporter of insurgents.
The charges leveled by Iraqi Defense Minister Hazim al-Shalaan and the kidnapping of Iran's consul to Kerbala highlighted growing mistrust between the two neighbors which fought each other to a standstill in a bitter 1980-1988 war.

Political analysts said the mounting tensions reflected the desire of Iraqi officials to assert their independence from Shi'ite Muslim Iran which, in turn, is divided over how best to exert influence in its western neighbor.

Shalaan, who has previously branded Iran as Iraq's "first enemy," said Shi'ite Muslim rebels were using arms obtained from Iran to wage a bloody uprising in Najaf where U.S. forces say at least 360 rebels have been killed since Thursday.
Of course the Iranians have a huge hand in the insurgency, as do the Syrians. These are two regimes with a great deal on the line in Iraq. However, I am somewhat surprised by how boldly Shalaan called out Iran. He may feel a little freer to do so after this little tidbit came to light:
Ramazanzadeh said kidnapped diplomat Fereidoun Jahani was a long-serving Foreign Ministry official despite footage provided by his captors showing credentials in his name bearing the logo of Iran's Revolutionary Guards.

Security experts say the Revolutionary Guards -- an ideologically driven branch of the armed forces -- has sent scores of agents into Iraq.
It looks like the Iranians have gotten caught with their hands in the cookie jar. Will this stop their support of the insurgency? The answer to that is no, because the fundamentalist rulers of Iran simply cannot allow a successful democratic state next door when so many of their own citizenry chafe and yearn for democracy.

Can this still have an effect on the insurgency itself? Oh yes, as it is demonstrated how much of the insurgency is foreign-driven and opposed to the success and combined will of the Iraqi populace, any remaining native support should wither. At that point, cooperation with and support for the Iraqi government will greatly increase.