Friday, July 30, 2004

Discerning the Kerry Doctrine

I've gone through John Kerry's acceptance speech, sifting out anything related to defense and the war against terror. In analyzing his own words, I'm hoping to gather an idea of how Kerry hopes to lead our military and our country as president and commander-in-chief.
I will be a commander in chief who will never mislead us into war.
I will have a secretary of Defense who will listen to the best advice of our military leaders.
My fellow Americans, this is the most important election of our lifetime. The stakes are high. We are a nation at war, a global war on terror against an enemy unlike any we have ever known before.
And in this journey, I am accompanied by an extraordinary band of brothers led by that American hero, a patriot named Max Cleland. Our band of brothers doesn't march together because of who we are as veterans, but because of what we learned as soldiers. We fought for this nation because we loved it and we came back with the deep belief that every day is extra. We may be a little older now, we may be a little grayer, but we still know how to fight for our country.
Nothing yet except window dressing, but I included the above portion because it is related. Also, note the backhanded slams on the Bush administration, especially the opening salvo implying that Bush lied about Iraq, which could only serve to undermine our efforts there. Also, regarding the SecDef listening to military leaders, I would suspect that Rumsfeld has listened; he just hasn't always agreed. The Army wanted the Crusader artillery program kept intact, but Rummy decided it was not needed in the foreseeable future and would provide no advantage in any conflicts currently on the horizon.

Now we get to the heart of Kerry's defense statements.
Remember the hours after Sept. 11, when we came together as one to answer the attack against our homeland. We drew strength when our firefighters ran up the stairs and risked their lives, so that others might live. When rescuers rushed into smoke and fire at the Pentagon (news - web sites). When the men and women of Flight 93 sacrificed themselves to save our nation's Capitol. When flags were hanging from front porches all across America, and strangers became friends. It was the worst day we have ever seen, but it brought out the best in all of us.

I am proud that after Sept. 11 all our people rallied to President Bush's call for unity to meet the danger. There were no Democrats. There were no Republicans. There were only Americans. How we wish it had stayed that way.
Bush laid out his plans for combating terrorism before Congress. The Dems and Reps were generally in agreement then. His strategy and focus has not changed, and he has held true to one course. If we are divided now, it is because others have sought to venture in another direction.
Now I know there are those who criticize me for seeing complexities and I do because some issues just aren't all that simple. Saying there are weapons of mass destruction in Iraq doesn't make it so.
Saying there are not weapons of mass destruction, unfortunately, does not make it so, either. How many more must be found?
Saying we can fight a war on the cheap doesn't make it so. And proclaiming mission accomplished certainly doesn't make it so.
How about not proclaiming the mission accomplished but instead saying it continues? Enough of the politics, can we get to ideas? As you said, we are a nation at war.
As President, I will ask hard questions and demand hard evidence. I will immediately reform the intelligence system so policy is guided by facts, and facts are never distorted by politics.
Generally agree here. Much needs to be done to repair our intelligence services. However, Kerry helped weaken them and now, with the implication without evidence that the facts were politically manipulated, he politicized the intelligence community needlessly.
And as President, I will bring back this nation's time-honored tradition: the United States of America never goes to war because we want to, we only go to war because we have to.
How "time-honored" is this tradition? It seems we were itching for 1812, raced into the Spanish-American, could've dodged our duty in Korea and Viet Nam, left Grenada alone, and skipped the Balkans.
I know what kids go through when they are carrying an M-16 in a dangerous place and they can't tell friend from foe. I know what they go through when they're out on patrol at night and they don't know what's coming around the next bend. I know what it's like to write letters home telling your family that everything's all right when you're not sure that's true.

As President, I will wage this war with the lessons I learned in war. Before you go to battle, you have to be able to look a parent in the eye and truthfully say: "I tried everything possible to avoid sending your son or daughter into harm's way. But we had no choice. We had to protect the American people, fundamental American values from a threat that was real and imminent."

So lesson one, this is the only justification for going to war.
A strategy of waiting for danger to become imminent, of letting trouble fester? Wasn't that what we did in the 1990s, allowing things such a the USS Cole and 9/11 to develop? Isn't this in conflict with the conclusions of the 9/11 commission?
And on my first day in office, I will send a message to every man and woman in our armed forces: You will never be asked to fight a war without a plan to win the peace.
And it has to be a fool-proof plan, because the party out of power reserves the right to savage the administration over any setbacks or struggles, right?
I know what we have to do in Iraq. We need a president who has the credibility to bring our allies to our side and share the burden, reduce the cost to American taxpayers, and reduce the risk to American soldiers. That's the right way to get the job done and bring our troops home.

Here is the reality: that won't happen until we have a president who restores America's respect and leadership - so we don't have to go it alone in the world.

And we need to rebuild our alliances, so we can get the terrorists before they get us.
I agree that alliances are useful, and we currently have built a coalition that is in the field in both the Afghan and Iraqi theaters of the war on terror. So it comes down to quibbling about who the members of the coalition are. Maybe a strategy should be in reconsidering the value of some of our old "allies" and examining their motivations.
I defended this country as a young man and I will defend it as President. Let there be no mistake: I will never hesitate to use force when it is required. Any attack will be met with a swift and certain response.
But what about not waiting for an attack? The war has started, it is decidedly to our advantage to choose the battlefield as we see fit.
I will never give any nation or international institution a veto over our national security. And I will build a stronger American military.

We will add 40,000 active duty troops, not in Iraq, but to strengthen American forces that are now overstretched, overextended, and under pressure. We will double our special forces to conduct anti-terrorist operations. We will provide our troops with the newest weapons and technology to save their lives and win the battle. And we will end the backdoor draft of National Guard and reservists.

To all who serve in our armed forces today, I say, help is on the way.
I agree with more troops. As a former Guardsman, I disagree that using the reserve components is a "backdoor draft" (a term, by the way, actually meant to refer to the application of stop-loss on personnel whose military commitment has expired). For the Guard or Reserve called up, it is certainly a hardship and a danger, but it is also a duty and a possibility to be known about from day one of joining the service.
As President, I will fight a smarter, more effective war on terror. We will deploy every tool in our arsenal: our economic as well as our military might; our principles as well as our firepower.
Words. What would Kerry do differently, unless by every tool he is wanting to utilize nukes? We are already operating through military missions, covert ops, economic pressures and inducements.
In these dangerous days there is a right way and a wrong way to be strong. Strength is more than tough words. After decades of experience in national security, I know the reach of our power and I know the power of our ideals.

We need to make America once again a beacon in the world. We need to be looked up to and not just feared.

We need to lead a global effort against nuclear proliferation to keep the most dangerous weapons in the world out of the most dangerous hands in the world.

We need a strong military and we need to lead strong alliances. And then, with confidence and determination, we will be able to tell the terrorists: You will lose and we will win. The future doesn't belong to fear; it belongs to freedom.

And the front lines of this battle are not just far away they're right here on our shores, at our airports, and potentially in any town or city. Today, our national security begins with homeland security. The 9/11 Commission has given us a path to follow, endorsed by Democrats, Republicans, and the 9/11 families. As president, I will not evade or equivocate; I will immediately implement the recommendations of that commission. We shouldn't be letting 95 percent of container ships come into our ports without ever being physically inspected. We shouldn't be leaving our nuclear and chemical plants without enough protection. And we shouldn't be opening firehouses in Baghdad and closing them down in the United States of America.
Obviously we need to work on our security, especially if we are going to cease to take the battle to the terrorists.
You don't value families if you force them to take up a collection to buy body armor for a son or daughter in the service
Political weapon that is apparently unsupported (thanks to Michelle Malkin).
And our energy plan for a stronger America will invest in new technologies and alternative fuels and the cars of the future - so that no young American in uniform will ever be held hostage to our dependence on oil from the Middle East.
I agree that we can look to alternative sources of energy; we can also look to alternative sources of oil, especially when we know there are untapped reserves here in the U.S.

Okay, that's it, every bit of Kerry's acceptance speech related to defense, Iraq and his plans for the future of the war against terror. So, what have we learned about the Kerry Doctrine?
  • The president must go to war honestly, based only on confirmed facts, and only after all means of avoidance have been exhausted.

  • The military should be expanded, both in men and advanced equipment, and the intelligence services should be revamped.

  • Old alliances should be restored. How this is to be done when it seems apparent that France and Germany are trying to position themselves as the guiding strengths of the EU and trying to position the EU as a rival to the U.S. is unsaid. Also unstated is the problem of the growing Muslim populations and their militancy in Old Europe, which would hinder the Europeans' willingness to be full partners with America in the struggle against Islamic fascism. Heck, also unsaid: any reference to the radical Islamist movement.

  • Definitely fight if attacked, and have the infrastructure ready to put out the fires and police the wreckage.

  • Get our troops out by getting others in the struggle. See above for the complications of guaranteeing the assistance of other nations.

  • Try to wean the whole world off the petroleum bottle.
Well, there you have the Kerry Doctrine. Fight when needed, add troops and first responders, improve intelligence, and try to get others to take our place in the war.

Funny, I'm not getting warm fuzzies about our security future.

Thursday, July 29, 2004

Initial Thoughts on Kerry's Acceptance Speech

I didn't catch any particular moments that will have any lasting positive resonance, and several that could come back and haunt him. It had several implications of things that are untrue, which could leave openings later on in the campaign. I don't think he reached very effectively for the independent voter. He tried to look strong on defense while still playing to his base; he failed on the former, succeeded at the latter.

More later after I go through the speech, but here's the initial reviews of others:

From the Associated Press
Kerry Still Needs to Connect With Voters

From Reuters
Kerry Slams Bush on Iraq, Offers Little New

Iraq Calls for Muslim Force; Terrorists Quake

Iraqi Prime Minister Ayad Allawi is urging other Arab nations to send troops to combat the terrorists disrupting the progress in the beleaguered nation.
Allawi made the appeal a day after Saudi officials disclosed that they had initiated an effort to encourage the creation of a Muslim security force to help bring stability to Iraq.

"The leaders of this region must unify and must stand as one group against those gangs, against those terrorists and those criminals who are threatening and causing a great deal of harm to the Arab World and the Islamic world," Allawi said.
The terrorists responded quickly by playing the Jew card and posting internet threats against such a force
"Our swords will be drawn in the face of anyone who cooperates with the Jews and the Christians," the group said in its statement. "We will strike with an iron fist all the traitors from the Arab governments who cooperate with the Zionists secretly or openly."

The statement was issued in the name of the Jamaat al-Tawhid al-Islamiya — Omar el-Mukhtar Brigade, a little known group whose main title means the Group of Islamic Monotheism. Omar el-Mukhtar is the name of a Libyan nationalist who fought against the Italian occupation who was hanged by the colonial authorities in 1931....

The Internet statement was addressed to the Saudi and Pakistani governments. It said the two states "intend to send Islamic troops to Iraq."

"We will not keep silent in case any Islamic or Arabic country, especially Saudi Arabia, Pakistan and Egypt, send troops to Iraq. We also call on Muslim soldiers, in case they are sent to Iraq, not to respond, not to throw themselves in the path of death."
These tough guys are getting to be quite the good at the criminal side of the business via their kidnapping. They can prolong the suffering of their fellow Arabs, standing against the tide of progress and the hands of time.

However, practically asking Muslim troops to please not make the trip shows their weakness: they can't fight. They can't make a stand against the well-trained soldiers of the coalition without getting shredded, and they can't make a stand against Muslim forces without threatening any support they have in the populaces of Arab nations.

They can only manage atrocities against civilians and assaults on the infrastructure. Oh yeah, they can post threats on the internet.

Wednesday, July 28, 2004

Y'all al-Queda?

We'll have to see what comes from this story of a possible terrorist infiltration caught here in Texas.
Federal authorities are investigating whether a South African woman they say tried to board a flight near the U.S.-Mexico border with a mutilated passport has ties to al-Qaida or other terrorist groups.

Farida Goolam Mohamed Ahmed, 48, was arrested July 19 at the McAllen airport and charged four days later with illegal entry into the United States, falsifying information and falsifying a passport. She was denied bond on Tuesday by a federal magistrate.

A senior federal law enforcement official, speaking on condition of anonymity, told The Associated Press on Tuesday that investigators were trying to determine whether the woman had ties to terrorist groups. So far nothing has been substantiated, the source said.
Simply put, our borders are not secure, and the Rio Grande is amazingly porous. Even if this is not a terrorist connection, I put big Gunner money that it shows weaknesses in our security that can be, and probably have been, exploited. The days are numbered -- are we counting down to another 9/11 or a campaign of small-scale suffer-the-children-of-Israel-type campaign? The Iraqi and Afghani efforts must continue and be supported. Even somewhat stable-democracies in those countries will be enough of a threat to the Islamist movement to drive the bastards towards desperation.

When desperate, what will the Islamist terrorists do? Attack here and falter at home? Attack at home and continue the current course? Turn to the Tet strategy of gambling it all by hitting hard everywhere and counting on the American mainstream media to assist in the cause?

The Cronkite types better not help them in this one. I want to have children and grandchildren, and I want all of them to enjoy the freedoms I enjoy.

Kerry's Stance(s) on Iraq

Tipping the CVC to Every Thing I Know Is Wrong for finding the RNC's new video on the timeline of Kerry's positions on the Iraq campaign.
This new video from the RNC is a must view. It completely destroys any possibility that anyone, even the least politically engaged, who sees it can believe John Kerry did not flip-flop over the war on terror, the war in Iraq, and the question of weapons of mass destruction. It shows without a doubt, using a chronological display of videos of John Kerry himself, that he is utterly disingenuous and untrustworthy on these vital issues.

Windows Media | Real Player

The video is too long (about 12 minutes) to get much play on sound-byte TV, but as many people as possible should see it. If you are a blogger please link to it, if you are not send it to a friend. We can’t allow a man who is this casual about these issues to become President.
"They call him Flipper, Flipper....

Tuesday, July 27, 2004

A Few Brief Points About Teresa's Speech

Per the text of the potential First Lady's convention speech,
My name is Teresa Heinz Kerry.
Is it? Is it, really? Apparently, it's still Teresa Heinz, but she'll pretend and claim otherwise for political expediency.
To me, one of the best faces America has ever projected is the face of a Peace Corps volunteer. That face symbolizes this country: young, curious, brimming with idealism and hope, and a real, honest compassion. Those young people convey an idea of America that is all about heart and creativity, generosity and confidence, a practical, can-do sense and a big, big smile.

For many generations of people around the globe, that is what America has represented. A symbol of hope, a beacon brightly lit by the optimism of its people -- people coming from all over the world.
I would counter that, for many generations in Europe, northern Africa, southeast Asia and a great many islands in the Pacific, a better face of America would be a soldier, bravely struggling to bring freedom while generously handing out a chocolate bar.
John believes in a bright future. He believes we can, and we will, invent the technologies, new materials, and conservation methods of the future. He believes that alternative fuels will guarantee that not only will no American boy or girl go to war because of our dependence on foreign oil, but also that our economy will forever become independent of this need.
Translation: no blood for oil.

Also, it seems rather naive to say that reducing America's need for foreign oil will automatically reduce oil's importance on the geopolitical stage to the extent that our military can be guaranteed it will never be embroiled in the conflicts of oil-producing states.
John is a fighter. He earned his medals the old-fashioned way, by putting his life on the line for his country.
Did you know Kerry was in Viet Nam?
But he also knows the importance of getting it right. For him, the names of too many friends inscribed in the cold stone of the Vietnam Memorial testify to the awful toll exacted by leaders who mistake stubbornness for strength.
Did you know Kerry was in Viet Nam?
No one will defend this nation more vigorously than he will -- and he will always be first in the line of fire.
For four months.

Kerry Wants to Extend the 9/11 Commission

Back in the early 90's, I lived in Washington, D.C. for a little over a year, including interning for a fall on Capitol Hill. One thing I learned while there was that there is nothing so permanent as a temporary government agency. This was brought back to mind when I read this:
Kerry said the (9/11) commission should issue progress reports every six months, beginning in December. Among the questions they should address, Kerry said, are whether we are doing enough to strengthen homeland security, reorganize intelligence agencies, build global alliances and make America as safe as it can be.

In Boston, Kerry foreign policy adviser Jamie Ruben told reporters that keeping the commission intact would be an effective way to "bird-dog the bureaucracy" on implementing the panel's recommendations.
So, Kerry wants to bureaucratize the 9/11 Commission and have its bureaucrats oversee the rest of the government's bureaucrats. Does Kerry anticipate changes in the panel or any checks on the commission, or is he wanting a Supreme Court of Security whose edicts must be enforced?

Ah, but who will guard the guards?

Monday, July 26, 2004

Army National Guard Recruiting Falling Short

Despite the active Army meeting or closing in on recruiting and retention goals, it seems the call-ups and rotations are beginning to take their toll on National Guard recruiting.
The U.S. Army is lagging about 12 percent behind its recruiting goal for the Army National Guard amid the Pentagon's heavy reliance on such troops in Iraq and Afghanistan, officials said on Monday.

Amid predictions by critics that the difficult duty in Iraq and Afghanistan may harm the all-volunteer U.S. military's ability to attract and keep troops, Gen. Peter Shoomaker, Army chief of staff, told a Pentagon briefing he was watching the situation closely.

National Guard recruiting was at only 88 percent of its goal, Shoomaker said. "However, we remain cautiously optimistic that we will make our goal," he added.

But the National Guard was slightly exceeding its target for retention -- soldiers opting to remain in the service -- while the active-duty Army and part-time Army Reserve both were generally meeting retention and recruitment goals, Shoomaker said.
Maybe the days are drawing near when the answer to my personal debate about re-enlisting will be forced upon me by my often-hyperactive sense of duty. Maybe it's about time the guy on the left in the picture below (me, from Ft. Hood in May 1993) goes back in the Guard. Adding to the pressure: I recently found out the guy on the far right, a close buddy of mine, has gone back in the Guard.
On an M1 at Hood in May 93
Besides, if I go back in, I'll finally get the black beret that the tankers should've always had.

Note: Yeah, we slipped off post to Wal-Mart and bought some sidewalk chalk. If you can't read it in the pic, for those three weeks of transition training from the M60-A3 to the M1, we dubbed ourselves the Bonedickers, slang for goof-offs, of a military sort.

Banned In Boston!

Apparently, the USA Today just doesn't get Ann Coulter.

Pentagon Report Examines China's Military

Is there another arms race around the corner?
The Pentagon has taken a new look at China's military modernization program. A recent Pentagon report concluded that after decades of relying on Eastern bloc technology, Beijing is striving to achieve a quality of weapons equal to those in the developed world within the next decade.
The Pentagon says it has much to learn about the strategic ambitions and decision-making behind Beijing's military modernization. One thing is known though. A decade of sustained economic growth in China has helped the Peoples' Liberation Army to close the weapons technology gap with the United States.
While China is closing the gap, assessment of the report is that the technology gap will not disappear.
The report concludes the Chinese military has directly benefited from what has been a five-fold increase in the country's economic growth, enabling Beijing to upgrade missiles, aircraft, and submarines, while looking to achieve the same level of technology as the industrialized world within the next five to 10 years.

But the Pentagon's latest assessment of China's military capabilities concludes Beijing is likely to fall short of fully meeting that goal. Richard Bitzinger is a researcher at the Defense Department's Asia Pacific Center for Security Studies in Hawaii.

"The concern is obviously that the Chinese are going to be moving from a military that was largely a 1950s and 1960s technology base to one that is certainly 20-25 years further on down the line," said Richard Bitzinger.
This is important as, on the ground, China has the obvious numerical advantage. Their problem would be in projecting this power. The areas they are focusing upon (missiles, aircraft, subs) are crucial in their ability to threaten Taiwan and blunt our ability to support the Taiwanese defenses.

Does this leave open the chance for another arms race? Seemingly yes, though there is no guarantee. If it does occur, it could possibly happen while the U.S. is facing strong economic competition from the EU and China and still engaged in the fight against Islamic terror.

Not a pretty picture.

Star Wars ROTS

I'm not too sure Lucas gave much thought to the acronym before he announced the title of the next Star Wars movie.
Next year's third and final installment of the "Star Wars" prequels will be called "Star Wars: Episode III -- Revenge of the Sith," the film's producers said Saturday.

Sunday, July 25, 2004

On the Way: Apparently, the Blogging World Waits

All weekend, my blogroll has been relatively quiet, leaving little to advocate or cause comment.

Unfortunately, monitoring Google, Yahoo!, CNN, etc., I find little of worth to blog about on these. Does the world wait on the DNC convention? Goodness, I hope not. I wonder what the next few days of the blogging world will be like if we must rely on a heavily-orchestrated event like the DNC National Convention for news.

But, wait ... this means possibly two things.

First, the rest of the world is seemingly relatively quiet, waiting, not wanting to interfere. This could be something or nothing, as it would have to be compared relative to the upcoming RNC gathering. Who makes noise? Who voices their vested stake?

Second, the Dems are toning down their ABB (Anybody But Bush) message because the 9/11 Commission has shown that terrorism is an ongoing threat. This week, Kerry has to show that he can get better international support for our efforts than Bush has managed -- more support from the French, et al, than they provided to Saddam. Kerry has to show that he can improve the intelligence community, despite his voting history of cutting funding to it. Kerry has to show that he can assist the military in their efforts, despite his stances to deprive them of funding, especially the Iraq-related funding. Kerry has to support the troops, after trashing the military, and himself, for war crimes.

It's sad that a major contender for president has allowed his message to shift so much without conceding he was wrong.

Kerry about jobs: well, it's pretty quiet now.

Kerry about pre-emption: Never against it, but quiet now.

Kerry about WMD: They're there. They are not there. Quiet now. 'Cause they're there (found) and elsewhere (unfound, but mark Gunner at his word).

Kerry about the UN: We should act in our own best interests. No, we should act in accordance with every country acting in their own best interest but phrase it as if they are worldly and we are selfish. That is how to lead decisively.

Instead, I expect a low-key, patriotic Dem convention over the next few days. "We could do better." Lots of patriotic music, little policy.

Here's hoping Teresa Heinz says something cool, but Gunner money is against it. Dean and his ilk would've been fun, at least.

The Joy of Six

Unprecedented. Dominating. Exhilarating. Lance!
Lance Armstrong rode into history Sunday by winning the Tour de France for a record sixth time, an achievement that confirmed him as one of the greatest sportsmen of all time.

His sixth crown in six dominant years elevated Armstrong above four champions who won five times. And never in its 101-year-old history has the Tour had a winner like Armstrong -- a Texan who just eight years ago was given less than a 50 percent chance of overcoming testicular cancer that spread to his lungs and brain.

Armstrong's unbeaten streak since 1999 has helped reinvigorate the greatest race in cycling, steering it into the 21st century. And the Tour, as much a part of French summers as languid meals over chilled rose, molded Armstrong into a sporting superstar.

No. 6. The record. The achievement was almost too much even for Armstrong to comprehend.

"It might take years. I don't know. It hasn't sunk in yet. But six, standing on the top step on the podium on the Champs-Elysees is really special," he said.

New Allegation of Detainee Abuse

Just wanted to make sure this story got some play. Don't count on it reaching the front page of the New York Times or Washington Post, though, as it concerns an American citizen detained in Egypt.
A California man who was detained in Egypt for nearly a week says he was beaten and questioned before authorities released him without explanation.

Abdul Ghafoor Mahboob, a naturalized U.S. citizen who lives in the Los Angeles suburb of Culver City, said he was repeatedly beaten with a stick on his thighs and punched in the stomach and head.

"Without my prayers, I would have gone crazy," Mahboob told the Los Angeles Times in a phone interview from London on Friday.
Won't get much play without photos of Abdul on a leash, I'm betting.

Terrorists Threatening Coalition Countries Left and Right

Islamic terrorists have released threats against Australia and Italy, as well as Poland and Bulgaria. These follow earlier threats against Japan.
A top security official at NATO says the decision by the Philippines to withdraw its small contingent to gain the release last week of a Philippine truck driver kidnapped by militants probably sparked the most recent threats.
Terrorists, give 'em and inch and they'll carbomb a mile. Oh, and I just wanted to send another thanks to President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, Philippine president and Manila folder.

Friday, July 23, 2004

French Consulate Demands Respect

Apparently, manners are now a must when visiting French consulates.
In a sign that relations between Washington and Paris remain a bit testy, a notice on the front door of the French Consulate in New York warns Americans applying for a visa to check their attitude before entering.
"Visas for France are not a right. Persons applying for visas are requested to show due respect for Consular personnel. Failure to do so will result in the denial of the application and denied entry into any of the EU countries," says the sign posted in English at the French Consulate at 10 East 74th St., referring to the European Union.
Someone must've gotten a tad snippy. Nevertheless, I somehow doubt the entire EU has surrendered control of their borders to French veto. Oh, but I forget, Bush is the one with the arrogance problem.

Thursday, July 22, 2004

The Committee on the Present Danger Being Reformed

A Cold War relic is being reincarnated for the War on Terror.
Citing what they call the need for a more aggressive war of information against, and education about, Islamic extremism, two U.S. lawmakers appeared Tuesday at a news conference formally announcing the latest reincarnation of a group that had its beginnings during the Cold War.

In 1950, in the earliest years of the "Cold War" with the former Soviet Union, the Committee on the Present Danger was formed to serve as a way of building support among Americans for a strong national defense and opposition to Moscow's expansionist aims.

Described in history texts as a conservative, although bi-partisan group, the committee counted among its members numerous people who went on to work in several presidential administrations. It also included, at one point in 1979, a politically ambitious Ronald Reagan who would go on to win the presidency.

In the 1960s, the group became less visible with the growth of public opposition to the war in Vietnam, only to re-emerge in the mid-1970's amid a debate about the direction of U.S. security policies regarding the Soviet Union, and the efficiency of the intelligence community.

Now, the group has appeared again, this time with the objective of educating Americans and the world about what its members call the threat from radical Islamist, as opposed to Islamic, terrorism.
Chaired by former CIA director James Woolsey and fronted by Sens. Joe Lieberman and John Kyl, the Committee on the Present Danger, quite simply, gets it:
The 9/11 attack had a similarly stimulating effect on the terrorist network that perpetrated it, and on legions of Muslim youths across the globe from among whom that network draws its recruits. Nothing succeeds like success, it is said, and Al Qaeda's "success" in hitting America on 9/11 was a far greater rallying event than all of Bin Laden's screeds and Al Jazeera's agitprop, combined. As it moved from suicide bombers in Tel Aviv to weaponized commercial aircraft in New York and Washington, there was no escaping the reality that the Islamist jihad took a quantum leap on 9/11. And with it leapt the danger confronting the free world from the "insane courage" (a term Bin Laden favors) of radicalized, Islamo-fascist killers.
I'll most certainly be keeping an eye on the efforts of this group, and it's comforting to know that the tradition and memory of the Cold Warriors continues. The more I read from Useful Idiots by Mona Charen, the more parallels I find between the struggle against communism and the fight against Islamofascist terrorism. This is especially true when I watch those against the struggle and listen to the recycling of talking points from decades ago.

Movies Really Can Put You in the Mood, Study Finds

As I've long suspected, chickflicks suck the testosterone out of a man.
Sentimental films such as "The Bridges of Madison County" caused levels of the hormone progesterone to rise by more than 10 percent in both men and women, the team at the University of Michigan found.

Women's testosterone levels were unchanged during and after the Clint Eastwood movie about a love affair, while men's testosterone levels fell.

"The Godfather Part II" aroused a different sort of passion. While watching the crime and action film, men with the highest levels of testosterone had them soar by as much as 30 percent more.

Wednesday, July 21, 2004

Ideal Challenger...Disastrous Champion

A tip of the CVC to FauxPolitik for this look at Garry Kasparov analyzing Bobby Fischer, a man who has always fascinated me, both the good and the bad. Check that, both the brilliant and the horrid.
As we've heard, Fischer has gone of the deep end (well okay, that was long ago - it's just that he's finally reaching the bottom of the pool), and is currently in custody in Japan; one step removed from being in custody in the U.S. But Kasparov is more interested in what might have been with young Robert....

Iraq's Neighbors Agree to Improve Security

Or, probably more likely, at least pay lip service to security.
Iraq (news - web sites)'s neighbors agreed Wednesday to hold a high-level security meeting and share intelligence about cross-border infiltration, answering the war-ravaged nation's plea for assistance.

Facing almost daily car bombings and firefights, Iraq accuses foreign Muslim infiltrators of being behind some of the deadliest attacks and says neighboring countries are either facilitating or turning a blind eye to infiltration across borders.

After a day of long-winded deliberations and minor disagreements, Arab foreign ministers welcomed the proposal of Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari to convene interior ministers and security officials to discuss how to "eliminate all terrorist and other armed groups present and emanating from Iraqi territory which constitute a danger to Iraq and neighboring states," the final statement of the meeting said.

The date of the meeting, to be hosted by Iran, has not yet been decided. But delegates at the sixth regional meeting of Iraq's neighbors said the meeting will mean intelligence sharing, and possibly reinforcement of border patrols.
Note the hint that Egypt is possibly realizing their own danger that is being fostered by the terror:
"Just as neighboring countries affect the situation in Iraq, they are affected by it," Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Aboul Gheit said.

Israel to Sideline EU after UN Vote on Security Fence

Fed up with the partisan U.N. vote against its security barrier, Israel has said the European Union is possibly kaput as a player in the Israeli-Palestinian peace process.
Israel made clear to senior European officials at United Nations headquarters yesterday that "it will be very difficult in the future to include the EU as a party in efforts to advance the peace process," after the European Union joined the sweeping majority that passed an extreme resolution on the separation fence.

In a round of talks with EU representatives, Israeli diplomats stated that "the atmosphere created at the UN following passage of a one-sided resolution makes it doubtful that the EU, UN, and Quartet will be able to play the role of honest broker."

Israel said that by backing the resolution, "EU countries ignored even Israel's right to defend itself. How can Israel place its future in your hands?"
Right now, why would anyone place their security in the hands of Europe. Even the likes of Britain, Poland and the Czech Republic refused to side with Israel or, at the very least, abstain (kudos to Australia for their nay vote, and a mild golf clap Canada for their abstention).

Playing their usual role, the Europeans immediately took their traditional two steps backwards.
Several European ambassadors tried to assuage Israel's anger. "We succeeded in balancing the wording of the resolution," a senior European diplomat told an Israeli colleague.

Senior EU officials also pledged that "we won't support additional measures that [Nasser] al-Kidwa is planning," referring to the PLO observer to the UN.
I've studied a lot of history, but I have yet to come across the moment in time when so many Europeans became invertebrates.

Tuesday, July 20, 2004

Al-Zarqawi Group Warns Japan to Withdraw

Having tasted success from the Philippines' submissiveness, the terrorists have now set their sights on Japan.
"To the government of Japan: do what the Philippines has done. By God, nobody will protect you and we are not going to tolerate anybody," said an online statement signed by the Khalid bin al-Waleed Brigade, the military wing of the Tawhid and Jihad group.

"Lines of cars laden with explosives are awaiting you; we will not stop, God willing," said the statement, carried by an Islamic forum, known as a clearinghouse for statements by extremist groups.

"You didn't come to support the people of Iraq but to protect the Americans. Your destiny will be the same of Americans," the statement said.

Japan has dispatched about 500 troops to southern Iraq for non-combat duty to rebuild local schools, provide medical supplies and supply clean water.
Thanks, Philippines, for joining Spain in the Coalition of the Wilting. You've helped to make the world a more dangerous place.

Back in Yellow

Go, Lance!
Lance Armstrong retook the overall lead in the Tour de France today, outsprinting his top two challengers to win the first stage in the Alps and close in on a record sixth straight title.

Monday, July 19, 2004

The $6 Million Cutthroat Payoff

Move over, Steve Austin. We apparently have a new six-million-dollar man.

A tip of the CVC to Michelle Malkin for her post on a possible additional clause to accompany the Philippine withdrawal from Iraq for the sake of hostage Angelo de la Cruz.
A ransom of $6 million was offered and paid out to the Iraqi rebels holding Filipino truck driver Angelo de la Cruz hostage, to ensure his release before President Arroyo's scheduled State of the Nation Address on July 26, a high level Philippine intelligence officer told the Tribune yesterday. This offer was alleged to have been approved by the President herself, who then tapped Malaysian emissaries for the job, the intelligence officer, who asked for anonymity, said.

Of the $6-million payoff, $5 million was shouldered by Malaysia and $1 million by the Landbank of the Philippines, the officer added.

An Asian diplomat, also on condition on anonymity, held the view that this was a very “dangerous” move made by the Philippine government since Mrs. Arroyo has, by negotiating with terrorists on a financial recompense level, opened up the possibility of more kidnap groups in Iraq as well as in Saudi Arabia and other parts of the Middle East seeing the overseas Filipino worker as “easy prey” for them.

De la Cruz's whereabouts are unknown, with no words about his condition emanatin [sic] from the Arab TV al-Jazeera, although it is believed that he remains under the custody of the Iraqi rebels.
Fine, you've cowered before the threats of terrorists, surrendered to their demands and slipped them some green for their trouble. You think your people are safe now? Do we even know that de la Cruz is safe? What about the next time these scumbags need a little cash? Nice precedent.

EDIT: Mr. De la Cruz has been freed. One lucky man traded for who knows what kind of weaponry and logistics $6 million can finance.

Kerry aide: Bush 'flat-out lied' on Iraq

Ummm, okay.

According to "badly wounded Vietnam war veteran" and ousted Senator Max Cleland, President Bush led the U.S. into the Iraq war on a "pack of lies."
Cleland said that Bush went to war "because he concluded that his daddy was a failed president and one of the ways he failed was that he did not take out Saddam Hussein (news - web sites)" in the 1991 Gulf war. "So he (Bush junior) is Mr. Macho Man."

He added that Kerry, from Massachusetts, agreed with the assessment of Bush's credibility. "About a year ago John Kerry said,'The president lied, he lied to me personally,'" said Cleland, a badly wounded Vietnam war veteran.
The response from the Bush team was simple:
The Bush campaign issued a statement denouncing Cleland's "rage-filled rant" and accusing Kerry of playing politics with national security, while White House spokesman Scott McClellan shrugged off the Democrats' attacks.

"I would remind you that the president's opponent looked at that same intelligence and made the same decision to support the use the force to remove that regime from power," McClellan said. "I know he's all over the map since that time."
So much bitterness on the left side of the aisle these days. Check that, Cleland no longer sits left of the aisle.

By the way, I have yet to find any specifics from Cleland as to what the president's "lies" were.

Sunday, July 18, 2004

Militants Burn Building in Protest Aimed at Arafat

Continuing to feel the repercussions of their long dance with the terror devil, the Palestinian Authority continued to scramble amid protests over their latest display of cronyism.
Members of the Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades burned down offices of the Palestinian intelligence services Sunday in southern Gaza, protesting a security shake-up announced by Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat.

The Palestinian Authority president announced a major restructuring of security services Saturday.

The changes included consolidating more than 12 security agencies into three main units and replacing two top security officials. One was replaced with Arafat's cousin, Musa Arafat.

Within hours of Saturday's announcement, leaders of Arafat's Fatah movement in southern Gaza resigned and about 2,000 demonstrators took to the streets, many of them armed, accusing Arafat of replacing "corruption with more corruption."
I don't yet believe the PA is in danger, but two things are obvious. First, the Palestinian Street is finally growing tired of false reforms and the game of musical chairs being played by Arafat's inner circle. Second, when you allow terrorism to grow and blossom because of the convenience that said terrorism is aimed outward, don't be surprised when the day comes when the bastards turn and look over their shoulder at you. We may be seeing it in the Palestinian areas soon. We've seen it in Saudi. We've seen plots stopped in Jordan. The lesson should have been obvious from the start; unfortunately, I'm not sure any of the Arab states have truly learned it.

Sharon Urges Jews in France to Leave as Anti-Semitism Grows

The French may not disagree, but Ariel Sharon is urging Jews to leave France.
The Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon yesterday urged Jews to flee France to escape a rising tide of anti-Semitism. While acknowledging that the French government was fighting racial violence, Mr Sharon warned of "the spread of the wildest anti-Semitism" in France.

Speaking to visiting American Jewish leaders in Jerusalem, Mr Sharon said: "If I have to advocate to our brothers in France, I will tell them one thing - 'Move to Israel, as early as possible'. I say that to Jews all around the world, but there [in France] I think it's a must and they have to move immediately." He added: "In France today, about 10 per cent of the population are Muslims ... that gets a different kind of anti-Semitism, based on anti-Israeli feelings and propaganda."

France is home to Western Europe's biggest Jewish and Muslim communities with 600,000 Jews and five million Muslims. But it has been troubled by attacks on Jewish people and property in recent years, some of it blamed on youths of North African origin angered by the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

The latest French Interior Ministry figures show 510 anti-Jewish acts or threats in the first six months of 2004 - compared to 593 for all of last year.

Yes, it may seem silly to urge Jews out of France to the safety of Israel. However, urging Jews to leave France, ever growing more hostile for them, is not a bad idea and, if current trends continue, may increasingly become a very good idea. At least in Israel, they would have a home that would fight for their protection.

How a Serial Liar Suckered Dems and the Media

Doffing the CVC to little green footballs for finding this column about the lies of Joe Wilson and lgf's possibly intriguing look at his supporters.
The story of ex-ambassador Joe Wilson, who deliberately “sexed down” Iraq’s attempts to purchase yellowcake uranium from Niger, continues to be utterly ignored by mainstream media even as source after source proves that he lied about a very serious threat to US security. Mark Steyn has the goods

Friday, July 16, 2004

Arafat's Panel Declares State of Emergency

Is the Palestinian Authority in a more dire position than I thought?
A security panel headed by Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat (news - web sites) declared a state of emergency in the Gaza Strip (news - web sites) early Saturday after a wave of kidnappings involving a Palestinian police chief, a security official and four French citizens.

Although most of the hostages were later freed, the crisis raised questions about the future of Prime Minister Ahmed Qureia's government, which will meet Saturday in a session that could determine its future, a Palestinian official said on condition of anonymity.

The declaration by the Palestinian security council called for increased protection around government facilities and canceled all leave for security officials.

The deteriorating situation reflected the growing disagreements among militant groups and individuals trying to strengthen their positions before Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon (news - web sites) fulfills his pledge to withdraw Israeli forces and some 7,500 settlers from Gaza late next year.
You can dance with the Devil but, sometimes, he wants to lead.

Thursday, July 15, 2004

Passengers' Good Will Turned Soldiers' Trip Home into a Flight of Fancy

The Dallas Morning News is reporting a surprising display of respect for American soldiers.
It all began with a chance encounter at an airport, a glance, an offer, a quiet chat.

What's your seat number, soldier?

It's 23-B, sir, the soldier told the businessman.

No, son, that's my seat. Yours is in first class.

As more soldiers boarded, similar offers quickly came from the other first-class passengers.

And eight soldiers heading home from Iraq for two weeks of R&R found themselves with their officers in the big seats up front instead of the center seats in coach.

That spontaneous act of good will transformed American Airlines Flight 866, from Atlanta to Chicago, on June 29.

"The soldiers were very, very happy, and the whole aircraft had a different feeling," said Lorrie Gammon, one of the Dallas-based flight attendants working the trip.

"There were 14 seats in first class, and there were 12 soldiers there. The other two first-class passengers wanted to give up their seats, too, but they couldn't find any more soldiers."

Flight attendant Candi Spradlin of Conway, Ark., said she was impressed with how passengers treated the soldiers.

"If nothing else, those soldiers got a great homecoming," she said.

The soldiers were so surprised they barely knew what to do, said Ms. Gammon, who lives in Frisco.

"They were so humble and thankful – they spent the whole flight saying thank you," she said.

"But we should have been saying thank you to them for what they're doing for us."
Almost sounds like an urban legend but, if true, this is very cool.

Wednesday, July 14, 2004

US Mounts New Military Offensive Ahead of Afghan Elections

The U.S. is going back on the attack to help ensure Afghan elections.
Major Jon Siepmann, a U.S. spokesman, says the new countrywide operation, dubbed "Lightning Resolve," aims to protect civilians against militants opposed to the coming elections.

Afghanistan is due to vote for president on October 9 and for a parliament next spring, replacing the transitional government that has ruled since a U.S.-Afghan alliance ousted the former hard-line Taleban regime in 2001.

Remnants of the Taleban have been waging an armed struggle against the current government. They want to block the elections, which they say are meant to ensure U.S. domination over Afghanistan.
Be democratic or die. Not quite "Don't tread on me" but it'll do.

Slim-Fast Trims Whoopi From Ads

Following her recent allegedly bawdy performance at a Kerry fundraiser, Whoopi Goldberg has been dropped as a spokesperson for Slim-Fast.
"I only wish that the Republican re-election committee would spend as much time working on the economy as they seem to be spending trying to harm my pocketbook."
Whoopi, check the economy. It's strong. Oh, and welcome to a world where actions have consequences.

Tuesday, July 13, 2004

Envoy: Palestinian Authority May Collapse

The AP is reporting that the U.N envoy for the Middle East is questioning the stability of the Palestinian Authority.
Roed-Larsen painted a grim picture of lawlessness in the Palestinian Authority, its failure to institute critical reforms, and he blamed Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat (news - web sites).

He lamented that there was "no sign" of the bold leadership needed to tackle Palestinian reform and move toward peace.

"The Palestinian Authority, despite consistent promises by its leadership, has made no progress on its core obligation to take immediate action on the ground to end violence and combat terror, and to reform and reorganize the Palestinian Authority," he said.

Roed-Larsen said the only explanation is "the lack of political will" to advance toward reform, which is critically needed in the security services.

"Despite a well-intended prime minister, the paralysis of the Palestinian Authority has become abundantly clear," he said.

"Clashes and showdowns between branches of Palestinian security forces are now common in the Gaza Strip (news - web sites), where Palestinian Authority legal authority is receding fast in the face of the mounting power of arms, money and intimidation," Roed-Larsen said.

"The perceived Palestinian Authority abdication of responsibility" has led many residents of Rafah in southern Gaza to take matters into their own hands, including establishing a checkpoint to prevent Palestinian officials from entering the city or crossing into Egypt, he said.
The PA lasts as long as Arafat wants it to last. Arafat lasts as long as the Palestinians allow him to last (or the Israelis tolerate him to last).

On the way: Blogging From My First Hometown

With my father in the highly-regarded Barnes Jewish Hospital in St. Louis, I have taken this opportunity of my visit to get a hotel room in St. Charles, just across the Missouri River and about fifteen minutes from the hospital. Why did I do this instead of getting a hotel closer to Dad? Well, in a way, I'’m closer to Dad here.

I lived in St. Charles from the age of six months to seventh grade, when I finally moved to Texas. I played little league baseball and Boys’' Club football here. I learned to ride a bike and make a paper airplane here. I read The Lord of the Rings and watched Star Wars here. I attended elementary school, back when we still played bombardment (dodgeball) in P.E., and suffered through wearing a blazer and tie in the stupid sixth-grade choir here. I watched Reagan get elected President here, moving to Texas the very next day.

And my father, of course, had a role in all of these memories, especially the baseball and learning to ride a bike. Dad took the time to manage my first four baseball teams, and I am just loaded with memories of those years.

I sat at my father'’s bedside today (well, technically yesterday as it’s now past midnight). He'’s been moved from the ICU, and I think he'’ll live through this visit. That'’s the good part; the bad part is that it wasn'’t really my dad there today. Just a drugged, beaten, tired shell of a man. There were flashes of his old self, but not much. I hope there'’s more of that old self before I leave here. If not, I don'’t think he has the fight to hold on '‘til my next visit. His muscles have melted away, he struggled to adjust his pillow an inch, he stumbled on remembering words, he rarely breathed easily.

I treasure these moments with Dad, but I doubt these will be the memories that I’'ll later look back on and smile. Those will be the times much like my little league baseball days. After my visit today, instead of driving straight to the hotel, I wandered over to Blanchette Park. I looked at the hill where Dad used to take me sledding in the winter and the pool where he took me for swimming lessons. Then I watched a couple of innings of kids playing baseball. Moments in games I'’d played on those very same fields flashed from the old movie projector in my mind. Dad was there, at least in my heart.

Field of Dreams said it best: “Hey, Dad, you want to have a catch?”

Sunday, July 11, 2004

On the way: Knowing the Days Were Numbered

What would you ask your father?

As much as I'm trying to get this blog off the ground, I cannot guaranty a lot of posting over the next week, as I'm going to hit the road to St. Louis. My dad is there in ICU with multiple complications. I'll post as I can; maybe a lot as I'll be away from the office, maybe a little or none with questionable access. I'm playing it by ear.

Soon, I'll post more about him, but he was a great baseball coach.

New British Inquiry Is Showing That Saddam Did Seek Uranium in Africa

Jack Kelly, writing for the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, decisively argues against the idea that Bush lied about Iraqi attempts to purchase yellowcake in Africa.
Britain's Financial Times reported Wednesday that an official British government inquiry into the intelligence used to justify the war in Iraq has concluded that Britain's MI-6 was correct to conclude that Saddam Hussein's regime had sought to buy uranium ore from Niger.

If so, this gives the lie to the charge that "Bush lied!" when he said in his 2003 State of the Union address: "The British government has learned that Saddam recently sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa."
I like how Mr. Kelly quickly gets to the key point: the keystone of the "Bush lied" campaign is gone. It didn't vanish -- it never existed.
The "Bush lied!" charge hung on two slender reeds. The first is that the only "evidence" the CIA had at the time of an Iraq-Niger-yellowcake connection was a fairly obvious forgery obtained through Italian sources. The second was the "investigation" conducted in early 2002 by former Ambassador Joseph Wilson on behalf of the CIA.

Wilson spent less than two weeks in Niger. In his July 2003 New York Times op-ed about the investigation, in which he described his methodology as "drinking sweet mint tea and meeting with dozens of people: current government officials, former government officials, people associated with the country's uranium business." The people he talked to told him that Niger hadn't sold uranium to Iraq. Wilson's op-ed accused the Bush administration of manipulating intelligence -- and ignoring his report on Niger -- to justify a war on Iraq.

There were two problems with Wilson's investigation. The first is that the people to whom Wilson was talking might not have been telling him the truth. The second is that to say that Niger did not sell uranium to Iraq is not the same as saying Iraq did not try to buy yellowcake ore from Niger.

In fact, Wilson himself has confirmed that Iraq did indeed try to buy uranium from Niger.
Game, set, match.

Gang Attacks Mother on French Train

In a display of misplaced anti-semitism and cowardice, the AP tells the story of a young mother assaulted on a train, apparently because the attackers mistook her as a Jew.
A gang of young men attacked a woman riding a suburban train with her infant, cutting her hair and drawing swastikas on her stomach. Other passengers watched but did nothing, police reported.

French politicians issued denunciations Sunday as news of the Friday morning attack spread through the nation.

Police said the gang of six set upon the 23-year-old woman on a suburban train north of Paris and grabbed her backpack where they found identity papers that showed an address in the capital's well-to-do 16th district. "There are only Jews in the 16th," one of the group of attackers said.

The young woman, who was not identified, was not Jewish and no longer lived in the district, police said.
Ah, France, the great bastion of freedom and justice. Of course, here is the part that does not surprise me:
According to the police account, none of the passengers on the train came to the woman's rescue.

EDIT: It seems the whole story was fraudulent. This lady may be nuts, but she seems to have a good read on her fellow French, nevertheless.
French President Jacques Chirac had called the alleged attack shameful. But during his annual Bastille Day television interview, following the woman's retraction, he called the whole affair regrettable.

But Mr. Chirac said he does not regret his earlier condemnation of the alleged incident. He said France is currently in a period of racist acts against Jews, Muslims, and others. He said the attacks are unacceptable and violate the country's principles.

Saturday, July 10, 2004

On the way: Terrorism Chatter and the Election

Democratic National Convention, Republican National Convention, November election, polling places, shopping malls, blah, blah, blah.

I hope nobody has forgotten the most obvious, visible and probably easiest target: the upcoming Olympic Games in Athens. Not that the others aren't potential, though personally I would suspect the Dem brewfest will be safe in Boston.

Muslim Cleric's Visit Ignites Complaints in Britain

VOA is reporting that a visiting Islamic cleric is causing a stir across the pond for his previous defense of Palestinian suicide bombings.
One prominent Jewish member of Parliament, Louise Ellman, said there is plenty of evidence against the cleric.

"Dr. Qaradawi is on record supporting mass murder through suicide bombings," she said. "That means killing young children at pizza parlors, it means folk singers on Tel Aviv beach being blown up, it means people at religious festivals being blown up. And he is inciting mass murder."

Mr. al-Qaradawi's defenders in Britain say his views on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict represent mainstream opinion among most Muslims. They also point out that he condemned the terrorist attacks against the United States in 2001, as well as the bombings in Madrid last March.

The Muslim Association of Britain, which is sponsoring his visit, said he was delivering a sermon Friday at London's Central Mosque that emphasizes the responsibility of Muslims to be active and law-abiding participants in Britain's democracy.
I'm torn as to whether this guy should just be expelled or whether he should be grabbed, handed over to the Israelis and forced to spend the rest of his life in pizzarias and discos until he renounces terrorism.

I find it interesting that he denounce the 9/11 and Madrid bombings. I do wonder, though, if these denunciations were voiced in Arabic to his fellow Egyptians.

Friday, July 09, 2004

U.S. Stands with Israel against U.N. Action on Barrier

Per Reuters, the U.S. will oppose action by the U.N. based upon the World Court ruling denouncing the security barrier.
Palestinians face a brick wall of U.S. opposition to possible United Nations (news - web sites) action against Israel after the World Court ruled the Jewish state's West Bank barrier was illegal and should be dismantled.

"We don't think there's a need for (U.N.) General Assembly action at this point," State Department spokesman Richard Boucher said after the World Court, the U.N.'s top legal body, announced its non-binding ruling in The Hague (news - web sites) on Friday.
The General Assembly can, and probably will, denounce Israel and demand a dismantling of the barrier. And? And nothing, any General Assembly resolution will be non-binding, and the U.S. will block any Security Council motion. Why? Because we see that the Israelis have a right to defend themselves against Palestinian terrorism. Who cares about the judgement of a "world court" led by a judge from the justice-and-freedom-loving nation of China.
The Palestinians later intend to take their case to the 15-nation Security Council, where the United States -- Israel's main ally, vetoed a resolution last October that sought to bar the Jewish state from extending the West Bank barrier.

In The Hague, Nasser al-Kidwa, the U.N. Palestinian observer, declined to say whether he would push for sanctions against Israel.

"It remains the obligation of the international community to ensure that compliance takes place. We will take it step by step," he said .... The court said the barrier, which is about a third built, "severely impeded" Palestinian rights to self-rule.
I want to go on record as saying the major impediment to Palestinian self-rule is the terrorist Arafat. The Palestinians have had many opportunities to take the peace route; each time, they have found an excuse to venture down the road less traveled by the peaceable.
Opinion polls show strong support in Israel for the project.

"The choice was between the inconveniences which are caused to the Palestinians -- and we recognize that there are inconveniences -- but the fence doesn't kill," said Israeli Vice Premier Ehud Olmert.

Thursday, July 08, 2004

An Analysis of al-Sadr's Uprising

A tip of the CVC to USS Clueless for this look at al-Sadr's uprising in Iraq and an interesting tie-in to Michael Moore.
The military response to his uprising ultimately has to be considered a victory by the only standard that really counts: achievement of political goals. al-Sadr hoped to inspire a general uprising and to prevent us from transferring power to an Iraqi government. We hoped to avoid a general uprising, and to transfer power to said government on schedule, without the transfer being seen as us cutting and running.

Whose hopes were fulfilled?

You have to keep your eyes on the true goal, and you have to be willing to be patient. Sometimes slow-and-steady wins the race, even though it looks as if you are falling behind at the beginning.

World Court to Rule Against Israel's Barrier

Surprise, surprise. It seems the World Court is set to rule against Israel's security fence and demand it be dismantled.
The paper, quoting documents it had obtained, said the barrier infringed Palestinian rights.

"The construction of such a wall accordingly constitutes breaches by Israel of its various obligations under the applicable international humanitarian law and human rights instruments," Haaretz quoted the documents as saying.

And even less surprising:
Israel has said it will not accept what is expected to be among the most watched rulings in the 58 years of the World Court, based in The Hague.

The Jewish state says the network of fences, ditches and walls has already improved security, but Palestinians call it a land grab.
First, I'm confused as to what "rights" are being infringed upon here, just as I am confused by the constant comparisons of the security barrier to the Berlin Wall. The inability to comprehend to simple difference of the fundamental purposes of the security fence and the Berlin Wall (the former's being protection of citizens and keeping terror at bay, the latter's being the trapping and subjugation of the East German citizenry) astounds me.

AP: Iraq Insurgency Larger Than Thought

U.S. military officials are saying the size of the insurgency in Iraq is possibly much larger than previously thought, reports the Associated Press.
Although U.S. military analysts disagree over the exact size, dozens of regional cells, often led by tribal sheiks and inspired by Sunni Muslim imams, can call upon part-time fighters to boost forces to as high as 20,000 — an estimate reflected in the insurgency's continued strength after U.S. forces killed as many as 4,000 in April alone.
4K KIA (killed in April). I haven't seen that figure anywhere else. Actually, I haven't seen much at all on the numbers of bad guys whacked.

Ridge Warns of Election Terror Plot

The AP is report that al Queda hopes to disrupt the Presidential election with terror.
A steady stream of intelligence, including nuggets from militant-linked Web sites, indicates al-Qaida wants to attack the United States to disrupt the upcoming elections, federal officials said Thursday.
I'd just like to insert a special, heart-felt thanks to the invertebrates of Spain who have encouraged this.
Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge said the Bush administration based a decision to bolster security on credible reports about al-Qaida's plans, coupled with the pre-election terror attack in Spain earlier this year and recent arrests in England, Jordan and Italy.

"This is sobering information about those who wish to do us harm," Ridge said. "But every day we strengthen the security of our nation."

Wednesday, July 07, 2004

Mediators Tell Palestinians to Reform or Lose Aid

Middle East mediators threaten funding and support of the Yasser Arafat and the Palestinian Authority unless true reforms are implemented, according to Reuters.
Sapped by years of corruption and disorder as well as Israeli raids, Arafat's Palestinian Authority needs foreign help to fill a power vacuum when Israel quits the Gaza Strip next year or if it hopes to revive peace talks with the Jewish state.

But envoys from the United States, United Nations and European Union and Russia told Palestinian Prime Minister Ahmed Qurie that the world had run out of patience with Arafat's "empty promises" of reform.

"If security reforms are not done, there will be no (more) international support and no funding from the international community," a senior diplomat close to the talks in the West Bank city of Ramallah told Reuters.
Arafat's removal from the Palestinian Authority would, ideally, be the best reform possible and the best step towards peace. I guess we'll have to wait and see if these are just empty threats, as I see no reform of any consequence occurring under Arafat.

Tuesday, July 06, 2004

Marines Want Companion for Osprey

The Dallas Morning News is reporting that the Marines are interested in an armed tilt-rotor escort for the V-22 Osprey.
The Marine Corps' top aviation officer has asked Bell Helicopter Textron Inc. to study arming its executive jet-sized BA609 tilt-rotor aircraft as an escort for the V-22 Osprey tilt-rotor troop transport.

The request by Lt. Gen. Michael Hough, deputy commandant for aviation, is a striking vote of confidence in the V-22 and in the future of tilt-rotor aircraft. The V-22 program was nearly canceled after two crashes in 2000 killed 23 Marines.

"I would have done this earlier, but I didn't even know if I had a V-22," Gen. Hough said, referring to the Osprey's near-cancellation.
Per the report, this could potentially result in millions of dollars for Bell Helicopter. However, with the checkered story of the Osprey's development, I predict this will be a rather interesting approval process.
The V-22 and the BA609 both use wingtip rotors to take off and land like helicopters. But they tilt their rotors forward to fly like airplanes, giving them far greater speed and range than helicopters. Critics still regard the revolutionary method of flight as highly risky.

Much work would have to be done, and many hurdles cleared, before Bell could produce an armed BA609 derivative.

The gunship would have to be designed, approved by the Pentagon, funded by Congress, prototyped and tested.

There is no guarantee any of that will happen.

But Gen. Hough said the V-22 will need some type of armed escort to carry Marines into combat zones, and only a tilt-rotor will do. Helicopters are too slow for the job, and jets are too fast.

On the way: The Cowards' Approach to War

For over a year now, the media and the leftists have demanded for the Bush administration to voice an exit strategy from Iraq and Afghanistan. Many on the right, sans media, have wondered about the exit strategy from Bosnia for years.

What is our exit strategy from the Korean conflict? Did Truman ever voice one?

What is our exit strategy from our bout with the Axis powers of Germany and Japan? Surely FDR announced an exit strategy to the American public in World War Part Deux.

Well, yes, he did. Speaking almost a year before Pearl Harbor, FDR spoke of "no end save victory" in the defense of liberty and freedom. This is how he led the American and Allied efforts in WWII, demanding the unconditional surrender of the Axis countries of Germany, Italy and Japan. He did not fight for a stalemate. He did not settle for a return to pre-war boundaries. He fought to win.

It is my belief that the very concept of exit strategy is a self-defeating idea. To have any strategy other than victory as the objective is a mistake. A stated and accomplished list of milestones may insure a “peace with honor,” but it in no way guarantees a desired outcome in the long term. War is not the end-all be-all solution to the world’s problems; however, when war must be waged, it must be waged to win. American lives should not be tossed aside for the sake of a tie or, worse yet, an honorable defeat when victory could have been attained had we, as a people, had the stomach for it.

I have been unable to find any military or political usage of the phrase "exit strategy" prior to the Viet Nam War. Certainly, this is the conflict that popularized the term.

Stated bluntly, exit strategy is a planned way of disengaging short of victory. Contingency planning in the event of defeat is needed and understandable; planning a withdrawal, based on milestones and dates decided by political needs and not long-term requirements, without defeat but before victory is achieved is indefensible. And yet, this is just what has been demanded by the media during practically every American military involvement of the last thirty years.

Yes, in the short term, this does have the effect of reducing casualties within a given conflict. Unfortunately, it serves to set the stage for greater loss of life in the next conflict. It is the cowards’ way of waging war, deferring the losses to those fighting later.

Iraqi Group Threatens to Kill Zarqawi is reporting that a video of a group of Iraqis threatening Abu Musab al-Zarqawi has been send to al-Arabiya television.
A group of armed, masked Iraqi men threatened Tuesday to kill Jordanian militant Abu Musab al-Zarqawi (search) if he did not immediately leave the country, accusing him of murdering innocent Iraqis and defiling the Muslim religion.

The threats revealed the deep anger many Iraqis, including insurgent groups, feel toward foreign fighters, whom many consider as illegitimate a presence here as the 160,000 U.S. and other coalition troops.
I would rather see such threats coming from the Iraqi security forces, but vigilante justice is preferable to al-Zarqawi's injustices until the security forces are capable and reliable enough for the task. Also, it is encouraging to see some practitioners of Islam standing up for the tenets of their faith violated by these Islamist terrorists.
In the video, three men, their faces covered with Arab headscarves, were flanked by rocket propelled grenades and an Iraqi flag. The man speaking had a clear Iraqi accent.

"We swear to Allah that we have started preparing ... to capture him and his allies or kill them and present them as gift to our people." the man said. "This is the last warning. If you don't stop, we will do to you what the coalition forces have failed to do."

Al-Zarqawi, said to be connected to Al Qaeda, is believed to be behind a series of coordinated attacks on police and security forces that killed 100 people only days before U.S. forces handed over power to an Iraqi interim government.

His followers have also claimed responsibility for the beheading of American businessman Nicholas Berg (search) and South Korean translator Kim Sun-il (search).
Hopefully, this is a sign that the Iraqis have had enough and are reaching the point that they'll fight for their own future.

Monday, July 05, 2004

France, Iraq to Re-Establish Relations

The AP is reporting that France and Iraq will renew diplomatic ties shortly.
After a 13-year interruption, France and Iraq (news - web sites) intend to re-establish diplomatic relations within the next few days, the French Foreign Ministry confirmed Monday.

Iraqi Prime Minister Iyad Allawi met Monday with Bernard Bajolet, France's highest diplomatic representative in Iraq, and discussed restoration of ties that Saddam Hussein (news - web sites) broke off in 1991 during the Gulf War (news - web sites), a Foreign Ministry spokesman said.

"Mr. Allawi said he wanted to do it as fast as possible so that France can participate in the reconstruction of Iraq," the spokesman said. "We welcomed that very positively."
France, always there for the Francs. Nevertheless, this is a good move for the fledgling Iraqi government and its efforts to establish legitimacy.

Wash. Post: No Sarin in Rounds Found by Poles

Just back from my Independence Day weekend in Amarillo, Texas, and I find the Washington Post has stated the artillery rounds claimed by the Poles to have cyclosarin (see my entry on July 2) were not , in fact, chemical rounds.
Sixteen rocket warheads found last week in south-central Iraq by Polish troops did not contain deadly chemicals, a coalition spokesman said yesterday, but U.S. and Polish officials agreed that insurgents loyal to former Iraqi president Saddam Hussein and foreign terrorist fighters are trying to buy such old weapons or purchase the services of Iraqi scientists who know how to make them.

The Coalition Press Information Center in Baghdad said in a statement yesterday that the 122-millimeter rocket rounds, which initially showed traces of sarin, "were all empty and tested negative for any type of chemicals." The statement came just hours after two senior Polish defense officials told reporters in Warsaw, based on preliminary reports, that the rocket rounds contained deadly sarin and that actions by the Polish unit in Iraq kept them from being purchased by militants fighting coalition forces.
I find it interesting that FoxNews and BBC, where I originally read the story, have printed no such correction. I also find it interesting that what the Washington Post and the Coalition Press Information Center refer to as "preliminary reports" were described by the Poles as "Laboratory tests .... done by U.S. experts" only hours earlier.

However I may wonder about both sides of the story, I felt I had to post it.

Sunday, July 04, 2004

Happy Independence Day, America

Posted from Amarillo, Texas, at the home of my girlfriend's parents. Back to Dallas tomorrow evening.

Friday, July 02, 2004

Iraq Seeks European Help With Security

Iraq is requesting training assistance from France and Germany for its security forces.
Iraq (news - web sites)'s deputy foreign minister appealed Friday to France and Germany to help build and train the country's security forces, saying the new Iraqi government wants to broaden its relations beyond Washington and London.
This is a very sharp move, if I'm reading this correctly. By going straight to the heart of our erstwhile allies, the new Iraqi government can present an argument that it is not just a U.S. puppet while still getting a valuable commodity. Also, if agreed that the training is in Europe, France and Germany have little ground on which to base a refusal.
"We want balanced relations with all the countries of the world, and we are seeking the help of the international community to build a new Iraq built on democracy and respect for human rights," al-Bayati said.
This paints the Euros into a corner: help the new Iraqi government find stability and thus strengthen the American chance of long-term success or look like schmucks on the world stage.

No One Asked Us

Here is a great article on the Iraq invasion, written by a Marine Corps Reserve major (now Lt. Colonel) who took part in the fighting.
I killed many Iraqi soldiers, as they tried to kill me and my Marines. I did it with a radio, directing air-strikes and artillery, in concert with my British artillery officer counterpart, in combat along the Hamas Canal in southern Iraq. I saw, up close, everything the rest of you see in the newspapers: dead bodies, parts of dead bodies, helmets with bullet holes through them, handcuffed POWs sitting in the sand, oil well fires with flames reaching 100 feet into the air and a roar you could hear from over a mile away.

I stood on the bloody sand where Marine Second Lieutenant Therrel Childers was the first American killed on the ground. I pointed a loaded weapon at another man for the first time in my life. I did what I had spent 14 years training to do, and my Marines -- your Marines -- performed so well it still brings tears to my eyes to think about it. I was proud of what we did then, and I am proud of it now.

Along with the violence, I saw many things that lifted my heart. I saw thousands of Iraqis in cities like Qurnah and Medinah -- men, women, children, grandparents carrying babies -- running into the streets at the sight of the first Westerners to enter their streets. I saw them screaming, crying, waving, cheering. They ran from their homes at the sound of our Humvee tires roaring in from the south, bringing bread and tea and cigarettes and photos of their children. They chattered at us in Arabic, and we spoke to them in English, and neither understood the other. The entire time I was in Iraq, I had one impression from the civilians I met: Thank God, finally someone has arrived with bigger men and bigger guns to be, at last, on our side.

Let there be no mistake, those of you who don't believe in this war: the Ba'ath regime were the Nazis of the second half of the 20th century. I saw what the murderous, brutal regime of Saddam Hussein wrought on that country through his party and their Fedayeen henchmen. They raped, murdered, tortured, extorted, and terrorized those in that country for 35 years. There are mass graves throughout Iraq only now being discovered. 1st Battalion, 5th Marines, out of Camp Pendleton, liberated a prison in Iraq populated entirely by children. The Ba'athists brutalized the weakest among them, and killed the strongest. I saw in the eyes of the people how a generation of fear reflects in the human soul.

Polish Troops Find Sarin Warheads

It seems more WMD has surfaced in Iraq.
"We were mortified by the information that terrorists were looking for these warheads and offered $5,000 apiece," Dukaczewski said. "An attack with such weapons would be hard to imagine. All of our activity was accelerated at appropriating these warheads."

Dukaczewski refused to give any further details about the terrorists or the sellers of the munitions, saying only that his troops thwarted terrorists by purchasing the 17 rockets for a Soviet-era launcher and two mortar rounds containing the nerve agent for an undisclosed sum June 23.
There's a lot of scary aspects to this story. First, these were almost in terrorist hands, so what do they already have? Second, I see no way that we will ever be able to account for all of Iraq's WMD, leaving us to never have a good knowledge of the scope of the danger we face. Third, the left still refuses to acknowledge the existence of WMD.
The warheads all contained cyclosarin, multinational force commander Polish Gen. Mieczyslaw Bieniek said.

"Laboratory tests showed the presence in them of cyclosarin, a very toxic gas, five times stronger than sarin and five times more durable," Bieniek told Poland's TVN24 at the force's Camp Babylon headquarters.

"If these warheads, which were still usable, were used on a military base like Camp Babylon, they would have caused unforeseeable damage."

The tests were done by U.S. experts, who were conducting more.

The munitions were found in a bunker in the Polish sector, but Polish officials refused to be more specific.

Palestinian militants publicly execute suspected informant

Palestinian "militants" gunned down a man accused of collaborating with the Israelis. Machine gunned him. Publicly. In the town square. In the middle of a crowd of Palestinians chanting for his death.
Four gunmen from the al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade carried out the killing in the town square of the West Bank town of Qabatiya.

They machine-gunned the Hamad Rafiq Abdel Razek, 42, as hundreds of onlookers called for him to die.
I find it interesting to compare the Palestinian concept of justice with the concepts we are working to instill in Iraq. Sad that Abdel Razek died in the street without a trial a day after Saddam began making his aquaintances with the Iraqi court system.

Thursday, July 01, 2004

U.S. to Pull Forces From 2 U.N. Missions

Seems to only be a token gesture, but the U.S. military is backing out of two tiny deployments.
The U.S. military will pull tiny contingents out of two U.N. peacekeeping missions because Americans no longer are exempt from international prosecution for war crimes, a Pentagon (news - web sites) spokesman said Thursday.

A seven-person team will be removed from the U.N. mission to keep the peace between the African nations of Ethiopia and Eritrea, and two liaison officers will be taken out of the U.N. mission in Kosovo, spokesman Larry Di Rita told reporters at a new conference.
We should pull, or at the very least threaten to pull, our 2,200 troops from Kosovo, with the explanation of principle and more dire need elsewhere. Specifically, enforcing U.N. resolutions in Iraq.

I do so tire of the League of Nations, Part Deux.

Cohen: F9/11 So Bad It Could Help Bush

In the latest column of liberal Richard Cohen, the film Fahrenheit 9/11 is shredded, both on methodology and relevance.
I go on about Moore and Ellis because the stunning box office success of "Fahrenheit 9/11" is not, as proclaimed, a sure sign that Bush is on his way out, but instead a warning to the Democrats to keep the loony left at a safe distance.
Unfortunately, it may be too late for the Dems to keep the loony left at arm's length. In fact, it seems the loons are the rudder of the good ship Democrat, steering hard a'port.
It is so juvenile in its approach, so awful in its journalism, such an inside joke for people who already hate Bush, that I found myself feeling a bit sorry for a President who is depicted mostly as a befuddled dope.

I fear how it will play to the undecided. For them, I recommend "Spider-Man 2."

A Letter to the American People

The Iraq-America Freedom Alliance took out a full-page ad in the USA Today, extending their hands "in friendship and gratitude to the American people."
When freedom is born where it has never existed, the desire of all people to live in peace and dignity will only grow. With America's support, we know that someday Iraqi children will dare to dream the same dreams as American children.
I believe the children are the future ... damn you, Whitney Houston, get out of my head!