“Soft despotism is a term coined by Alexis de Tocqueville describing the state into which a country overrun by "a network of small complicated rules" might degrade. Soft despotism is different from despotism (also called 'hard despotism') in the sense that it is not obvious to the people."

Sunday, December 31, 2006

New Years Eve 2006

I was in a bad mood this morning. Maybe the "coffee buzz" combined with the turn of events made me edgy and on the eve of 2007, I had a "crappy" outlook on life. I thought, "This world won't ever get any better. Man is the same as he ever was and that's not good."

I'm feeling better now, thanks. Living may get tedious but, as they say, it beats the alternative.

This morning, a friend called asking for help. She wants me to talk to her son about the war in Iraq. She is about 25 years older than me and I think her son is a few years younger. She is distressed because her son is opposed to the war. She is a conservative Christian and is disturbed by his "liberal opposition" to the war. I want to tell her that it's irrational to try to reason with people deep into BDS. I want to tell her that our side is at a low point in the "long war" and are even beginning to argue amongst ourselves. Do I tell her that the other side may have been right about the futility of the endeavor? Do I tell her that Iraq has been mishandled and now there doesn't appear to be an upside? Do I tell her that for us (the US) it's over in Iraq. Even if Bush elects to surge US troop strength, the Democrats won't go along with the plan. Should I tell her that the best thing we can do is leave the inevitable bloodshed to the Iraqis while those of us who see the danger of militant Islam regroup and rethink our long term strategies in the face of world opposition. Should I tell her that the other side only wants to see us eat crow, so it's best to say little or nothing while they enjoy their turn at hubris and schadenfreude?

Should I remind her that when we place our faith and trust in mankind including our fellow conservatives, we will always be disappointed? Or do I tell her that the sun will come out tomorrow and that we should all just stay on the sunny side of life?

Can the US lose its army in Iraq? Say it ain't so.

George Armstrong Custer (left center in light clothing) leads a military expedition into the Black Hills of Dakota Territory in 1874. Custer's incursion violated the Fort Laramie Treaty of 1868 and laid the groundwork for war between the Lakota and the United States when he announced that gold had been discovered in this most sacred of the Lakota's lands. Photograph by William H. Illingworth.

(National Archives 777-HQ-264-854)

This article from The American Conservative outlines the worst case scenario for the US in Iraq. Is there any chance this could play out? Is this possible or is it BDS at the max?

How to Lose an Army
Plow deep into Iraq and dare Iran to strike.
December 18, 2006 Issue
Copyright © 2006 The American Conservative

by William S. Lind
Lose a war, lose an election. What else did the Republicans expect? That is especially true for a “war of choice,” which is to say a war we should not have fought. It is difficult to imagine that, had Spain defeated the U.S. in 1898, the Republicans would have won the election in 1900.

What does the Democrats’ victory mean for the war in Iraq? Regrettably, not what it should, namely an immediate American withdrawal from a hopelessly lost enterprise. Neither the Democrats nor the Republicans, both of whom now want to get out, desire to go into the 2008 election as the party that “lost Iraq,” which is how taking the lead for withdrawal could be painted. Instead, both parties in Congress and the White House are likely to agree only on a series of half-measures, none of which will work. We will stay bogged down in the Iraqi quagmire for another two years, as the troops caught in Operation Provide Targets continue to die.

A more critical if less obvious question is what do the results of the election mean for a prospective attack on Iran? On the surface, the Democrats’ seizure of both houses of Congress would seem to be good news. Having won their majorities because the American people want out of a war, they ought to be reluctant to jump into a second one.

Regrettably, that logic may be too simple. Because an attack on Iran will be launched with no warning, the Bush administration will not have to consult Congress beforehand. Congress could take the initiative and forbid such an attack preemptively (“no funds may be expended…”). But in an imperial capital where court politics count far more than the nation’s interests, Democrats may prefer to risk a second war, and a second debacle, rather than open themselves up to a charge of being weak on terrorism. The Democrats’ approach to national-security issues through the fall campaign was to hide under the bed and ignore them as much as possible. That worked politically, so they are likely to stick with it.

The Bush administration, for its part, will be tempted to do what small men have done throughout history when in trouble: try to escalate their way out of it. The White House has already half-convinced itself that the majority of its troubles in Iraq stem from Iran and Syria, a line the neocons push assiduously.

The departure of Donald Rumsfeld, which was greeted in the Pentagon with joyful choruses of “Ding-dong, the witch is dead,” may help to avert an invasion. His successor, Robert Gates, has no background in defense and is therefore likely to defer to the generals, for good or for ill. In this case for good, as the generals emphatically do not want a war with Iran. But for Gates to block White House demands for an attack on Iran, he would have to threaten to resign. Is he the sort of man to do that? That’s not how bureaucrats build their careers, an observation that holds for the generals as well.

The elephant in the parlor is, of course, the fact that Israel wants an attack on Iran, and for Republicans and Democrats alike, Israel is She Who Must Be Obeyed. Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert ran to Washington as soon as the election was over, and the subject of his discussions with President Bush is easy to imagine. Who will do the dirty deed and when? Iran has already announced that it will consider an attack by Israel an attack by the U.S. as well and respond accordingly, so the difference may not much matter.

That response should concern us, to put it mildly, for that is where a war with Iran and the war in Iraq intersect. The Iranians have said that this time they have 140,000 American hostages, in the form of U.S. troops in Iraq. If either Israel or the U.S. attacks Iran, we could lose an army.

How could such a thing happen? The danger springs from the fact that almost all the supplies our forces in Iraq use, including vital fuel for their vehicles, comes over one supply line, which runs toward the south and the port in Kuwait. If that line were cut, our forces might not have enough fuel to get out of Iraq. American armies are enormously fuel-thirsty.

One might think that fuel would be abundant in Iraq, which is (or was) a major oil exporter. In fact, because of the ongoing chaos, Iraq is short of refined oil products. Our forces, if cut off from their own logistics, could not simply fuel up at local gas stations as German Gen. Heinz Guderian’s Panzer Corps did on its way to the English Channel in the 1940 campaign against France.

There are two ways, not mutually exclusive, that Iran could attempt to cut our supply line in Iraq in response to an attack on Iranian nuclear facilities. The first would be by encouraging Shi’ite militias to which it is allied, including the Mahdi Army and the Badr Brigades, to rise up against us throughout southern Iraq, which is Shi’ite country. The militias would be supported by widespread infiltration of Iranian Revolutionary Guards, who have shown themselves to be good at this kind of thing. They are the people who trained and equipped Hezbollah for its successful defense of southern Lebanon against the vaunted Israeli army this past summer.

The Shi’ite militias already lie across our single supply line, and we should expect them to cut it in response to Iranian requests. We are already at war with the Mahdi Army, against which our forces in Iraq have been launching a series of recent raids and air strikes. A British journalist I know, one with long experience in Iraq, told me he asked the head of SCIRI, which controls the Badr Brigades, how he would respond if the U.S. attacked Iran. “Then,” he replied, “we would do our duty.”

Iran has a second, bolder option it could combine with a Shi’ite insurrection at our rear. It could cross the Iran-Iraq border with several armored and mechanized divisions of the regular Iranian Army, sever our supply lines, then move to roll us up from the south with the aim of encircling us, perhaps in and around Baghdad. This would be a classic operational maneuver, the sort of thing for which armored forces are designed.

At present, U.S. forces in Iraq could be vulnerable to such an action by the Iranian army. We have no field army in Iraq; necessarily, our forces are penny-packeted all over the place, dealing with insurgents. They would be hard-pressed to assemble quickly to meet a regular force, especially if fuel was running short.

The U.S. military’s answer, as is too often the case, will be air power. It is true that American air power could destroy any Iranian armored formations it caught in the open. But there is a tried-and-true defense against air power, one the Iranians could employ: bad weather. Like the Germans in the Battle of the Bulge, they could wait to launch their offensive until the weather promised a few days of protection. After that, they would be so close to our own forces that air power could not attack them without danger of hitting friendlies. (This is sometimes know as “hugging tactics.”) Reportedly, the Turkish General Staff thinks the Iranians can and will employ this second option, no doubt in combination with the first.

Perhaps the greatest danger lies in the fact that, just as the French high command refused to consider the possibility of a German attack through the Ardennes in 1940, Washington will not consider the possibility that an attack on Iran could cost us our army in Iraq. We have made one of the most common military mistakes—believing our own propaganda. Over and over, the U.S. military tells the world and itself, “No one can defeat us. No one can even fight us. We are the greatest military the world has ever seen!”

Unfortunately, like most propaganda, it’s bunk. The U.S. Armed Forces are technically well-trained, lavishly resourced Second-Generation militaries. They are today being fought and beaten by Fourth-Generation opponents in Iraq and Afghanistan. They can also be defeated by Third-Generation opponents who can react faster than America’s process-ridden, PowerPoint-enslaved military headquarters. They can be defeated by superior strategy, by trick, by surprise, and by preemption. Unbeatable militaries are like unsinkable ships: they are unsinkable until something sinks them.

If the U.S. were to lose the army it has in Iraq to Iraqi militias, Iranian regular forces, or a combination of both, cutting our one line of supply and then encircling us, the world would change. It would be our Adrianople, our Rocroi, our Stalingrad. American power and prestige would never recover. Nothing, not even Israel’s demands, should lead us to run this risk, which is inherent in any attack on Iran.

There is one action, a possibility opened by the Democrats’ electoral victory, that would stop the Bush administration from launching such an attack or allowing Israel to do so. If our senior military leaders, especially the Joint Chiefs of Staff, would go public with their opposition to such an adventure, the new Democratic majority in Congress would have to react. The public that put it in office on an antiwar platform would compel it to answer or lose all credibility. While the Joint Chiefs would infuriate the White House, they would receive the necessary political cover from the new Democratic Congress. The potential is there, for the generals and the Democrats alike.

For it to be realized, and the disaster of war with Iran to be averted, all the generals must do is show some courage. If the Joint Chiefs keep silent now and allow the folly of an attack on Iran to go forward, they will share in full the moral responsibility for the results, which may include the loss of an army. Perhaps we should call it “Operation Cornwallis.”
William S. Lind is director of the Center for Cultural Conservatism at the Free Congress Foundation in Washington, D.C.
December 18, 2006 Issue

Saturday, December 30, 2006

Saddam taunted by Shiites, tell them to "go to hell" and dies.

Watch this first. Video of Sadaam hanging while being taunted by Shiites. hat tip : Habu

Saddam being hanged and taunted

ABC is reporting this:

"Several hours after Saddam Hussein was hanged this morning in Baghdad, the state-run television channel, Iraqia, began to run edited video, without sound, of the run-up to the hanging. The video shows Saddam being guided up the steps to the top of the gallows, a scarf being put around his neck and then the noose placed over his head and tightened on his neck. Then it stops. This footage, about a minute long, was played and replayed over and over during the day, and quickly found its way onto all major television stations around the world.

Later this evening, another video of the hanging popped up, this time being shown on Al-Jazeera and Arabiya, two Arabic TV channels based in the Gulf. The new video was of poor quality, was very jerky, and had clearly been shot on a cell phone or some similar device from below by one of the two dozen witnesses to the event. It also had sound. The picture it gave of Saddam’s last moments was very different from the edited, silent version that the Iraqi government had released earlier.

There are five men in black face masks who are visible on the gallows platform around Saddam, acting as guards. As they guide him towards the trap door and put the noose over his head, they start chanting religious slogans with the names of Moqtada al Sadr (the head of the Mahdi army, accused of organizing death squads against Sunnis) and Baqr al Sadr (the father-in-law of Moqtada). Saddam, a Sunni, is outraged at this last-minute provocation, and tells them to “go to hell.” This is generally where the two TV stations cut the video, but on at least one occasion that we saw, Arabiya allowed the video to keep rolling: The cell phone camera is jerked down to the ground, as if the person holding it had to conceal the camera, then it is slowly raised up to Saddam again, and suddenly his body shoots down through the trapdoor. At this, the Arabiya anchor came on and made a scissors symbol with two fingers with a mischievous grin on his face, as if to say that they really shouldn’t have shown that, but so be it. A cynical voyeuristic ploy, nudge nudge wink wink…

However, the impact of this video could be quite significant. First, it will reinforce Sunni suspicions that the execution of Saddam was merely an act of Shiite revenge for decades of repression under Saddam. The building where the execution took place was expressly chosen because it was once used as a detention center by a division of Saddam’s secret police that was focused on the Shiite Dawa party. Some of the witnesses whom the government invited to the execution had themselves once been tortured in that same building. Indeed, Prime Minister Maliki, who signed the execution order the day before the hanging, is a long-term member of the Dawa party and had himself been sentenced to death by Saddam back in 1980 before fleeing the country.

Worse, it will also reinforce the fears of Sunnis that Maliki’s government is beholden to the Mahdi army, Moqtada’s militia. Executions are generally expected to be solemn affairs –- certainly not opportunities for thugs to score some final sectarian points before the “enemy” is disposed of. The video itself seems quite distasteful –- but it is informative to the extent that it reveals the political baggage that the current government carries on its shoulders. It does not add up to a pretty picture."

Shout out your 2007 predictions.

Read my lips. These are not my predictions.

Some I agree with and some I do not. They represent various points of view. Now we all know that the Elephant crowd is a group with small egos and are relatively un-opinionated. Most of you are reticent to say what is on your mind, but let's hear it.

What are your predictions for 2007?

US Presidential Election- Human Events...
"Although my guess is as good as yours at this point in the game, I do have some ideas about who will make it to the primaries, and who will become the standard bearers of their parties. For the Democrats, the top three candidates are Hillary Rodham Clinton, Vice President, Al Gore and Barack Obama. All three have solid name recognition, plenty of money (with the exception of Obama), and enough political experience. Although, they each have their problems (Clinton is a left-leaning woman who stirs up vats of animosity. Obama is a bit too young and inexperienced. Gore is steadily reinventing himself.), these three will be the key democratic candidates in 2008, and in the end, will be a photo finish horse race between Clinton and Gore for the nomination. The Democratic winner: Al Gore.

The top three Republican candidates are John McCain, Mitt Romney and Rudy Giuliani. These three guys bring some serious star power to the game, and despite some minor flaws (McCain consistently upsets his conservative base. Romney’s faith and immigration problems have stirred up a lot of fervor. Giuliani’s three marriages and other relationship problems have been well chronicled.), each could become our next president. The Republican winner: John McCain.

So, the way I see it, in November 2008, you will have a choice of John McCain or Al Gore as the next U.S. president."

Home Prices- Blogging Stocks
Prediction for 2007: "Home prices will stabilize in most parts of the country and even perk up a bit overall. At the same time, foreclosure rates will continue to rise as homeowners who used risky low-interest adjustable rate mortgages have trouble making payments as their rates adjust upwards."

Iraq Prediction- Sit News ..
."Bush, now a desperate Undecider, will compel a military fig-leaf acquiescence and order more troops for a few-months surge. Sadly, it will only prove his Joint Chiefs of Staff were right. Only by starting to withdraw troops can the United States jolt Iraq's government so its Shia-installed leaders will demand the disbanding of Shia militia - and that is the only way Iraq can have even a chance of controlling its own destiny."

Iran Prediction -The Conservative Voice ...
"In this context, Muqtada al-Sadr, now the most powerful political leader in Iraq, will continue to lead Iraq’s opposition to Iran. Sadr, unlike Hakim, is opposed to Basra’s independence. Sadr’s power base is in Baghdad, not southern Iraq and Basra. Iraq’s loss of Basra would leave Baghdad’s Shi’ites and Sadr isolated and vulnerable. The result would be a coup for Iran and Hakim and a disaster for Sadr and his allies.

While Sadr will be leading Iraq’s domestic resistance to Iran, Russia will lead the international resistance to Iran. Russia is already blocking Russia’s access to Central Asia via the Shanghai Cooperation Organization. Russia is also blocking Iran’s influence in Turkmenistan, where a political transition s underway and Iran is attempting to make inroads. Moreover, Russia is also concerned about rising Iranian influence in the Middle East via Hezbollah and Hamas. Russia is now cooperating with Syria to moderate Hezbollah, and appears to be having success with Hezbollah’s call this week for a negotiated settlement to Lebanon’s problems. Hamas, however, is unlikely to moderate its extremist policy. Iran has just announced it will for the first time be providing military training to Hamas within Iran.

Turkey will be Russia’s top partner in a Contain Iran policy. This is because Turkey regards the breakup of Iraq into two or more states including Kurdistan as presenting an unacceptable threat to Turkey. Prime Minister Erdogan will mobilize Turkey’s own forces against Iran and Kurdistan. Turkey will also mobilize the Arab states including Jordan and Syria.

Next to the US, Al-Qaeda will be Iran’s most important ally. This is because Al Qaeda, like Iran, wants Iraq to break up into two or more states. From Al Qaeda‘s perspective, an independent Kurdistan and (Shia) Basra will be followed by an independent Sunnistan in Al Anbar province, bordering Saudi Arabia. Al Qaeda intends to dominate this new Sunni state, which would replace Afghanistan as a staging area for terrorism. Moreover, with control of Al Abar province Al Qaeda would be well positioned to influence Saudi Arabia and influence developments in the Middle East as a whole, to Iran’s benefit."

Stock Markets- What Investment ...
"Tim Cockerill, head of research at Rowan & Co, reports: “We are overweight Japan. It has been disappointing since the market correction in May/June this year and small companies in particular have been hard hit; there is concern about the robustness of the consumer but the GDP numbers have surprised on the upside and exports have been strong. The labour market is under pressure and wages are expected to increase along with bonuses, the banking sector is a robust entity again and protection from cross-share holdings has all but gone, making companies much more shareholder friendly.

“All around the globe large-cap stocks offer good value compared with mid and small-cap stocks. Whilst this has been the case for at least 12 months there remains a strong possibility that they will outperform mid and small caps in 2007. If markets are weak, they may make only modest gains but that could be against a background in which mid and small caps lose value.

“Europe is often the laggard in the global economic cycle, with GDP growth less than that in the UK and US, but that view misses an important point. Europe offers stock-pickers huge opportunities from large-cap international companies to small cap stocks, it is under researched compared with both the UK and US; geographically it is diverse and with Eastern Europe on the door step Europe is well placed to surprise investors.”

World Reaction to Saddam's Hanging

It's always interesting and often disgusting to see the world reaction to international news and current events. Of course, the left leaning BBC Have Your Say Website draws a majority of leftist, secular and humanistic commenters. Today's comments reveal the fuzzy headed, moral relativism of world opinion which according to the Democrats, Bush and Co. have needlessly alienated. Judging by the comments, that alienation may be a "good thing."

Here's a sampling of the comments most recommended (as of Saturday morning) by other commenters and readers:
Number of Comments: 1,143
Added: Saturday, 30 December, 2006, 06:34 GMT 06:34 UK

This was absolutely at the direction of Bush. The timetable of the trial and the major milestones were too coincidental with the US political timetable. And of course getting Saddam out of the way removes the possibility of any awkward questions being asked (and embarrassing answers being given) in trials for his other crimes - such as what involvement western governments had in his regime over the years.

How stupid do they think we are?? Steve Butler, Basingstoke, United Kingdom
Recommended by 266 people Added: Saturday, 30 December, 2006, 06:41 GMT 06:41 UK

Saddam, is executate not for his crime, but to hide usa's part in the crime saddam had commited. Mohammed Munir Hossain, Lodon, Recommended by 211 people
Added: Saturday, 30 December, 2006, 09:19 GMT 09:19 UK

So one evil dictator has been executed for his crimes against humanity. Now all that remains is for the same justice to be dealt to Bush. Maybe then Iraq can start to recover. An illegal war is an illegal war. Those who start it should be held responsible. john, newport Recommended by 179 people
Added: Saturday, 30 December, 2006, 10:17 GMT 10:17 UK

Now the fiasco of the Saddam trial is over, I am looking forward to the much more interesting spectacle of the George Bush / Tony Blair trial for illegally invading a sovereign country against UN wishes and the murder of hundreds of thousands of civilian Iraqis, in the immortal words of george Bush 'bring it on'. Chris, Shropshire UK Recommended by 171 people

Added: Saturday, 30 December, 2006, 07:37 GMT 07:37 UK

Am I alone in getting sick and tired of listening to the whining Liberal chattering classes?

They come up with any excuse to show that Dear Mr. Hussein was merely misunderstood or some other nonsense.

The man deserved what he got.

The one photograph of the gassed Kurds, including the children, was enough for me.

You are willing to pontificate and spout your Holier-than-thou clap-trap, while people such as Hussain commit genocide, you make me sick.

Bye-bye Mr. Hussein... John Ford, Cambridge, England
Recommended by 165 people
Added: Saturday, 30 December, 2006, 10:25 GMT 10:25 UK

Absolute savagery and barbaric inhumanity drenched in false justice - that is what this execution was. This is what the puppet Iraqi regime was instructed to do by the UK/US governments. These are the "human rights" Bush/Blair preach to the rest of the world.
I wonder why they weren't brave enough to be in the pictures, smiling next to the hangman. M. M. Zaman, UK/Canada, Recommended by 156 people
Added: Saturday, 30 December, 2006, 06:57 GMT 06:57 UK

The world is a brutal place made more brutal by the senseless killing of one deadly dictator politician by another. What does Saddam's hanging do to free Iraq and make the world a better place? Nothing; I don't feel safer. How can a US president have the right to sentence a former Iraqi president to death for crimes committed in Iraq, not the US? Will the Iraqi's be granted the same right to hang George W Bush for his war crimes? Anna, Perth Australia, Recommended by 154 people
Added: Saturday, 30 December, 2006, 08:26 GMT 08:26 UK

How fortunate for the US that, Sadam being dead, nobody will ever be able to interview him regarding his amicable dealings with Rumsfeld at the time of the Reagan administration. Hillary, Italy, Recommended by 153 people
Added: Saturday, 30 December, 2006, 12:53 GMT 12:53 UK

totally and utterly disgusted, I ashamed to be part of the same race as those who gloat and take pleasure in a public execution. How ironic that an evil man like Sadam has shown more dignity in his final minutes than those who are now in charge of Iraq of the US and UK Governments. And shame to those in the media who went along with this circus. Not in my name and not with my license fee. Gerry, Glasgow
Recommended by 142 people
Added: Saturday, 30 December, 2006, 09:12 GMT 09:12 UK

Shame on you Mr George Bush. Shame on you Mr Tony Blair. Shame on all the corrupt, oppertunist, profiteering, companies and individuals who took advantage of this illegal war for their own gain. No more said. Brian McCarthy, Ireland
Recommended by 135 people
Added: Saturday, 30 December, 2006, 10:24 GMT 10:24 UK

How about trying BUSH, BLAIR for war crimes? Holy
Recommended by 130 people
Added: Saturday, 30 December, 2006, 06:45 GMT 06:45 UK

Once again, the puppet masters have got away clean. Tony Croft
Recommended by 128 people
Added: Saturday, 30 December, 2006, 06:40 GMT 06:40 UK

Not only in Iraq the entire world is going to see escalation of violence. The wedge created between Sunni and Shia is now complete. Bush has sent a strong message to all Arab leaders to tow his line or else. The suspicion of the world Muslims about Bush's holy crusade is now confirmed. The world may pay the price for the actions of another despot, Bush. A.M.Rahamath Ali, India, Recommended by 120 people

Added: Saturday, 30 December, 2006, 09:09 GMT 09:09 UK

when is Bush going to face justice for all the people who have been killed in the war in iraq jim, wigan, Recommended by 116 people
Added: Saturday, 30 December, 2006, 12:24 GMT 12:24 UK

im absolutely disgusted by events today. hypocrisy is alive and well it seems. he may have caused terrible suffering to some of his own people, but then again, have the coalition caused less suffering? was there the same lawlessness and lack of security in iraq in saddams time compared to now? will coalition leaders be executed for crimes against humanity? NO
this is an example of victors justice. its an insult to my intelligence to be told the west is "civilised". dermy, coalisland, co. tyrone, ireland, Recommended by 109 people

BBC Have Your Say

Friday, December 29, 2006

Dead Man .

UPDATE: Saddam Hussein is dead. He was executed for crimes against humanity. The former dictator of Iraq was hooded, led to the gallows in Baghdad's fortified Green Zone, which houses his former presidential palace, before being executed without ceremony in front of Iraqi and American officials.

Years ago, Will Rogers said, "He never met a man he did not like." One of the Alsop brothers, I can't remember which, said he disagreed. He was dying of cancer at the time and said, "He never met a man he could not feel sorry for."

Saddam Hussein was a tyrant that showed no mercy to his enemies. He also had followers and friends. He had opportunities and made some huge miscalcultaions and caused the deaths of hundreds of thousands of human beings. He deserved no better than he gave.

Maybe none of us deserve mercy or maybe all of us do. I do not know which. I feel a sorrow for the inhumanity inflicted on those that suffered as a result of Saddam's rule. Some of his enemies probably needed killing, most did not, but all of them and his own were the result of his doing.

Ethiopian Prime Minister Zenawi announces successes in rout of Islamists in Ethiopia.

Comment and Opinion:

This Zenawi is no fool and no angel. He has been rough on journalists and the press and may have some very strong motivations to rehabilitate his personal and political image.

He may be joining the anti-terrorism bandwagon for his own domestic political reasons. In the past he has been accused of some pretty nasty business himself.

Ethiopia has a population of more than 70 million. It is one of Africa’s most populous nations. The United States regards Zenawi as an important partner in its fight against terrorism, and British Prime Minister Tony Blair gave Zenawi a seat on his advisory Commission for Africa.

This may be a sign of some new US realpolitik in dealing with the Islamists. If true, this is the way the war against Islamists should have been fought from day one. This is not badminton sports fans.

A hattip to Allen, the Islamists seem to have been very motivated to get out of Dodge with some degree of urgency . It seems that Zenawi is not planning to open a Guantanamo East. The Islamists are not happy. Check out their reaction at the bottom of this post.

Ethiopian army accomplished 75% of mission in Somalia - Zenawi
Sudan Tribune
Friday 29 December 2006 00:10.

Dec 28, 2006 (ADDIS ABABA) — Prime Minister Meles Zenawi has said that the Ethiopian National Defence Forces have accomplished 75 per cent of their mission in Somalia. He vowed not to give up the fight until extremists and foreign fighters had been crushed.

In a press briefing broadcasted by the TV, he gave to local and international journalists on the situation in Somalia today, Prime Minister Meles said the leadership of the Union of Islamic Courts (UIC) has been disbanded and its existence has now come to an end. He further added that Etiopian army have accomplished 75 per cent of their mission in Somalia.

But there are many things that remain to be done, Prime Minister Meles said. He also said that the terrorist leadership of the UIC has been disbanded and that its existence has come to an end.

The prime minister said that the Islamists have last night and this morning left Mogadishu and fled to the Somali border towns of Kismaayo and Marka.

The prime minister, who said that the joint Ethiopian-Transitional Federal Government (TFG) forces are around Mogadishu town, went on to say that The National Defence Forces of Ethiopia has not gone into Mogadishu yet and are consulting with clan elders inside Mogadishu and leaders of the TFG leaders on the way forward.

Ethiopian troops, who had pledged not to enter the city, were stoned by local crowds on the northern edge of the city, witnesses said. "How could we welcome an invading enemy," said one protester, Faiza Ali Nur.

Ethiopia and Somalia fought a bloody war in 1977.

Prime Minister Meles said some 2,000 to 3,000 fighters of the terrorist group and their backers have been killed while some 4,000 to 5,000 others have been wounded. The extremist leadership shall be responsible for all the damage that has occurred, he said.

Prime Minister Meles said that militias of the extremist group are handing over the arms in their possession to clan leaders and have rejoined their clan bases, adding that we have no problems with those militia members as they are peaceful Somali citizens.

He said that the work of pursuing the extremist group named Shabab, which is a collection of international terrorists and remnants of Sha’biyyah — reference made to Eritrean government — forces who fled to Kismayo, Marka and other border towns shall continue before they regroup and disturb the peace in Somalia.

"We need to pursue them to make sure that they do not establish themselves again and destabilize Somalia and the region," he said, predicting it would take a few weeks longer.

Islamic fighters have gone door to door in Kismayo, recruiting children as young as 12 to make a last stand on behalf of the Islamic courts, according to a confidential U.N. situation report, citing the families of boys taken to the front line town of Jilib, 110 kilometers (65 miles) north of Kismayo.

The prime minister said there is a strong solidarity between Ethiopia and the USA in the democratization and economic sectors, adding that in the counter attack that was carried out in Somalia Ethiopia has not received any military or weaponry support from the USA.

“The United States has not contributed a single bullet, a single soldier, or a single military equipment in this operation.”

The Ethiopian army will come out of Somalia in the coming few weeks after accomplishing its mission, the prime minister said.

The Islamic movement took Mogadishu six months ago and then advanced across most of southern Somalia, often without fighting. Then Ethiopian troops and fighter aircraft went on the attack in support of the government last week.

“Jihad Against the Hateful Christian Ethiopia” by Sheikh Hamed al-Ali
By SITE Institute
December 27, 2006

A statement composed by Sheikh Hamed al-Ali, distributed on his website and circulated among jihadist forums on Monday, December 25, 2006, titled: “Jihad Against the Hateful Christian Ethiopia,” seeks to incite Muslims for the purpose of the subject. Al-Ali, a contemporary jihadi Salafist scholar and ideologue who was designated as a terrorist by the U.S. Department of Treasury, provides a brief skewed history of Somalia and its position against Ethiopia and the West, and dispute over Ogaden province. Today, he finds history to repeat itself, and Ethiopia moves with the instigation and support of the West to “bury” Islam, which is supported by the Somali people, and create an unstable Somalia for its own purposes.

The sheikh states that Ethiopia’s war against Somalia is “unjust” and a clear case of aggression by an infidel country against a land of Islam. He charges that Ethiopia has no aim by “sabotage and destruction” and returning Somalia to chaos and misery. In addition to the Somalia Muslims who are stated by Hamed al-Ali to be obligated to join the jihad, Muslims in Yemen, Sudan, Africa in general, Saudi Arabia, and Egypt are called upon to participate.

Thursday, December 28, 2006

How Ford saw Bush.

Now I am sad. I made a mistake in my youth and I regret it.

When Gerry Ford ran against Jimmy Carter, I joined the ranks of many foolish Americans and exercised my right not to vote, or has I have come to realize, I was stupid.

I was half right but all wrong.

Over the years Jimmy Carter showed himself to be the classless little petulant sanctimonious twit that he is. My decision not to vote for him was correct.

Not voting for Gerry Ford was regrettable.

Bob Woodward at the Washington Post has published parts of an interview that the former president gave in July 2004.

Ford would not allow the interview to be published while he lived. In it he discussed the Bush decision to take the US into war with Iraq. Ford said, “"I don't think I would have gone to war," The Post article reports:

… "very strongly" disagreed with the current president's justifications for invading Iraq and said he would have pushed alternatives, such as sanctions, much more vigorously.

In the tape-recorded interview, Ford was critical not only of Bush but also of Vice President Cheney -- Ford's White House chief of staff -- and then-Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld, who served as Ford's chief of staff and then his Pentagon chief.

"Rumsfeld and Cheney and the president made a big mistake in justifying going into the war in Iraq. They put the emphasis on weapons of mass destruction," Ford said. "And now, I've never publicly said I thought they made a mistake, but I felt very strongly it was an error in how they should justify what they were going to do."

… Ford took issue with the notion of the United States entering a conflict in service of the idea of spreading democracy. "Well, I can understand the theory of wanting to free people," Ford said, referring to Bush's assertion that the United States has a "duty to free people." But the former president said he was skeptical "whether you can detach that from the obligation number one, of what's in our national interest." He added: "And I just don't think we should go hellfire damnation around the globe freeing people, unless it is directly related to our own national security."…

… Describing his own preferred policy toward Saddam Hussein's Iraq, Ford said he would not have gone to war, based on the publicly available information at the time, and would have worked harder to find an alternative. "I don't think, if I had been president, on the basis of the facts as I saw them publicly," he said, "I don't think I would have ordered the Iraq war. I would have maximized our effort through sanctions, through restrictions, whatever, to find another answer."…

It is a fascinating article. President Ford deserved more recognition for the man he was. He had common sense and was cautious and understood the nature of the office in which he was privileged to serve. He did not avoid making tough decisions and firing people that did not serve him well. I need not add comment about my increasing revulsion at some of the Presidents who have served after him. Read the Washington Post .

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Iran 's ambitions are beyond her reach. Let's keep it that way.

These are interesting times for the US relationship with Iran. Present events suggest that the US should use diplomacy and pressure. Three stories converge. The first is the story that Iran's external oil revenues are falling at the rate of 6% per year. That is without a sensible policy to reduce US imported oil consumption. In five years Iran will be working in an area of a critical reduction in cash. The National Academy of Sciences says restrictions on foreign investment, and mismanagement could eliminate Iran's oil exports by 2015. That is $50 billion a year.

The report concludes that Iran's hard-line politics have driven away many potential investors and that the welfare state has siphoned off oil profits that should have been reinvested in production. That study seems to be confirmed by a report by Reuters:

Iran finds difficulties in arranging financing for its new oil projects

Foreign banks and financiers reluctant

December 27, 2006
TEHRAN–Iran, the second-largest producer in the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries, is having difficulties financing oil projects because foreign lenders are reluctant, the oil ministry says.

"We are facing problems in financing oil-industry projects," the ministry's news website, Shana, reported last week, quoting Oil Minister Kazem Vaziri-Hamaneh. "The co-operation of foreign banks and financiers has declined therefore, we are seeking solutions inside Iran."

Iranian officials have said the country needs to invest tens of billions of dollars in coming years to develop new oil fields and squeeze production from aging fields to meet a planned increase in production capacity to 5 million barrels per day by 2010. Iran says current capacity is 4.2 million barrels per day.

Iran also needs to invest heavily in boosting refining capacity to reduce a growing dependence on gasoline imports.

But United States pressure over Iran's nuclear program has forced many international banks to stop dealing with the Islamic Republic in recent months. Iran denies U.S. accusations that it is seeking to build nuclear weapons.

Vaziri-Hamaneh said Iran would turn to its Oil Stabilization Fund, a rainy-day account that absorbs oil income in excess of budgeted amounts.

Despite the financing problems, Iran has a number of major projects in the pipeline.

"In the last 15 months, $28.4 billion (U.S.) worth of new contracts have been signed and some new contracts worth $62 billion are being negotiated," Vaziri-Hamaneh said.
REUTERS news agency

At the same time Iran is acting expansionist by her support for Hezbollah, the Iraqi Shiites and now in Afghanistan.

Iran making inroads into Afghanistan

Press Trust of India Hindustan Times

New York, December 27, 2006|12:36 IST

Iran, which has increased its influence in Lebanon by supporting Hezbollah and in Iraq after toppling of Saddam Hussein, has also been making inroads into Afghanistan, a media report said on Wednesday.

Since the United States and its allies ousted the Taliban in 2001, Iran has taken advantage of the central government's weakness to pursue a more nuanced strategy: part reconstruction, part education and part propaganda, the New York Times reported.

Iran has distributed more than 200 million dollars in the country. It has set up border posts against the heroin trade, and next year will begin work on new road and construction projects and a rail line linking the countries.

In Kabul, its projects include a new medical center and a water testing laboratory.

Two years ago, the Times said, foreign engineers built a new highway through the desert of western Afghanistan, past this ancient trading post and on to the outside world.

Nearby, they strung a high-voltage power line and laid a fiber-optic cable, marked with red posts, that provides telephone and Internet access to the region.

Iranian radio stations are broadcasting anti-American propaganda into Afghanistan.

Moderate Shiite leaders in Afghanistan say Tehran is funneling money to conservative Shiite religious schools and former warlords with longstanding ties to Iranian intelligence agencies.

And as the dispute over Iran's nuclear program has escalated, Iranian intelligence activity has increased across Afghanistan, the paper says quoting American and Afghan officials.

This has included not just surveillance and information collection but the recruitment of a network of pro-Iranian operatives who could attack American targets in Afghanistan.

The paper quotes Western diplomats as saying that Iran's goals in Afghanistan are to hasten the withdrawal of American troops, prevent the Taliban from regaining power and keep the Afghan west firmly under Tehran's sway.

"Keep this area stable, but make it friendly for them," said a senior European diplomat in western Afghanistan.

American officials told the Times that they are watching closely, and no evidence has emerged of recent arms shipments to Iranian proxies, as there have been in Iraq, or of other efforts to destabilize the country.
Comment and Conclusion: Iran is a major concern of US foreign policy. It is a country that in many ways poses a major regional threat to the Middle East. It is also a country with big problems internally and economically. It is also no match for the United States. We should not waste our advantages with an ill conceived policy. There is no economically successful Islamic country that is not an oil producing state. Iran is no exception. Iran is Persian and not Arab so it has no natural allies in most of the ME. Iran has a restless middle class that is aspiring to a normal secular life and many are fed up with the mullahs. The US would be very wise to be patient and help Iran accelerate the downward economic spiral. This is a real opportunity for the US to get back to a sane steady policy of diplomacy and economic pressure. Part of that policy should be a serious attempt to enact a real energy policy that has some bite and crunch. It also will give us an opportunity to regroup and rethink our military needs and policies. This is a good thing.

COIN U. at Fort Leavenworth

With the fall of the Berlin Wall and the Soviet Union, America found itself without an arch nemesis for the first time in 90 years and in 1991, the "lone superpower" led a coalition of 540,000 soldiers in driving Saddam Hussein from Kuwait but unfortunately for the world, the dictator was left in power. George H.W. Bush enjoyed a brief few months of popularity and less than two years later, was turned out of office by an unknown governor from Arkansas. The inevitable job of deposing Saddam was left to future leaders as Americans debated the size of its military and intelligence gathering requirements.

Bill Clinton and the Democrats wished to cash in the “peace dividend” by downsizing US military and intelligence programs. To many, the military came to be seen as a peace-keeping force to be used for humanitarian purposes. Kosovo, Haiti, and Somalia were seen by Republicans and Conservatives as unnecessary to the vital interests of the United States while Democrats were inclined to intervene in world humanitarian crises. The Republicans along with the military itself resisted the "police role" but the pendulum swung toward a smaller military designed to react to global hotspots and shorter engagements rather than the previously perceived threat of a world war. George Bush came to office in 2001 as being opposed to “nation building” but it wasn’t long before fate sprung an ambush on a nation unprepared and ill-suited for empire building.
Not much changed in this basic approach until the fall of former Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein and the ensuing debacle in Iraq. The military's top brass and the Pentagon continued to view everything in black and white. For them, there was a clear distinction between combat missions and the tools and mechanics of war, on the one hand, and the peacekeeping missions, on the other. The latter were multinational and had a decidedly civilian flavor, and consisted of things like providing policing for nation-building in Kosovo -- not exactly something that was particularly appealing to the US military.

The notion that the world's most modern and powerful military machine could end up struggling to gain the upper hand over scattered insurgents was inconceivable and hit the US military like an earthquake. Until a few years ago, no one in the US military would have believed that instead of dropping bombs and engaging in fierce combat, it would one day be drilling wells, directing traffic, building schools and organizing local elections -- and that it would be doing all of these things not after but in the middle of a war. Finally, no one would have imagined that these civilian tools would end up being described as the most-effective weapons on the road to victory.

"In Bosnia, we had a feeling for the first time that perhaps we are poorly prepared after all," says Dennis Tighe, a slim, jovial man who wears wide suspenders over his shirt. Tighe, a young-looking 60, is in charge of maneuvers and troop exercises for officers at Fort Leavenworth -- Combined Arms Center Training, or CAC-T in short.

In the former Yugoslavia, says Tighe, the US military was unprepared for the confusion of scattered small battles. It had trouble dealing with a conflict that was so culturally charged, a war without fronts and battle lines in tiny countries whose problems the Americans found deeply puzzling. The military also failed to realize that rebuilding stadiums could sometimes be more important than winning minor military skirmishes. It also had trouble understanding something that organizations like the United Nations had long known, and that is that providing seeds for crops can ultimately be more critical to achieving success than ammunition. It took time, especially for a military that had been exposed to doctrines set in stone for so many decades, until new ideas were allowed to penetrate into its ranks.

The courage to question
It took commanders who could implement changes and who had the courage to question the Pentagon's old-school way of thinking and its approach to the war in Iraq. The process began in Leavenworth, in 2004, with William Wallace, the general who had commanded the US Army's "Thunder Run" to Baghdad in the initial stage of the war. But once it became increasingly evident that Iraq was in turmoil, Wallace began to doubt his own hard-hitting strategy and reinterpret the operation's successes and failures. As it turned out, Wallace was the first to question all the military doctrines that had been in place until then. His direct successor is currently in the process of eliminating them altogether.

David Petraeus, a three-star general who completed his own officer-training program at Fort Leavenworth and graduated at the top of his class of 1,000, has been in charge at the facility since the autumn of 2005. When he was in command of the 101st Airborne Division as they advanced northward through Iraq up to Mosul, Petraeus already held a doctorate in political science. Today, at Leavenworth, he serves as a professor in combat gear.

Bad News for Dinosaurs
Lacking the proper support from the rest of government, the Military set about building their own version of the State Department, the FBI and the Peace Corps.
Petraeus is the man at the helm of the Army's top-down revolution. Together with a general from the US Marines, James Mattis, he has written a new doctrine on counterinsurgency, a doctrine that turns almost every previous rule of warfare on its head.

The 241-page document contains an outline of the history of all rebellions and a guide to the wars of the future. For the first time, it draws no distinction between civilian and classic military operations. In fact, it almost equates the importance of the two. Petraeus believes that the military can no longer win wars with military might alone. On the contrary, according to the new theory, it must do its utmost to avoid large-scale destruction and, by as early as the initial attack, not only protect the civilian population but also support it with all available means in order to secure its cooperation for regime change. As uncomplicated as it may seem, Petraeus's new doctrine represents a sea change when it comes to the US military's training and combat procedures. Some might also interpret it as a way of settling scores with the failed strategy in Iraq.

Fate has played a cruelly, ironic trick on America in Iraq and the resulting 180-degree polar shift in politics and attitudes could affect the world for decades and generations. It seems very likely that the Pentagon's attitude adjustment has come too late and the effort of Petraeus and associates could soon be relegated to forgotten, dusty library shelves.

Morning News


Tony Blair’s plane slipped off the runway in Miami. He has been slipping for some time so there is no news there.

Castro is still alive. Ford is not.

Castro has seen Presidents: Kennedy, Eisenhower, Truman, Nixon, Johnson, Reagan, and Ford die. Say what you like about Communism, but…

Gerry Ford died at 93. That is what you are supposed to do at 93. Not much real news there.

Saddam is to hang. Bush says it is dreadful, the EU says it’s wonderful. Now, that would be news.

Ethiopian, Somali troops regain Jowhar. Most everyone never noticed it was missing.

Israel to build a new settlement and Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert has ordered a resumption of military strikes against Palestinian militants firing rockets from Gaza into Israel. What can you say?


Ford Chief Seeks Ideas From Toyota. Huh?

Microsoft unveiling its newest security flawed operating system. They call it Vista. They could have honored veterans and called it the “Frozen Chosen.”


The Belmont Club does a story on Church choirs and restarts a religious war. C-4 is strangely silent.

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Have we Run Out of Time in Iraq?

According to a recent ABC News poll only 17% of the American public support sending more troops to Iraq. 28% think we should leave Iraq immediately but 70% think our troop strength should be decreased but not immediately. Over 70% of the surveyed Democrats think we ought to leave immediately.

The Generals have said that surging troops into Iraq will be counterproductive. Unless we can find 30,000 troops trained in the Military’s new “police work” counter insurgency operations, there’s no point in sending them as they will likely undo the “good” that has been done. Others say that unless more troops are sent to disarm the militias there will be no security in Baghdad and without security, our efforts in Iraq will inevitably come to failure.

The problem is “time.” Despite the Coalition's efforts to date, the average Iraqi soldier seems to view military service as merely a paycheck. Early on, AWOL and desertion rates were so high that a very lenient policy had to be adopted in order “build numbers.” Among those troops that have seen action, significant numbers have “disappeared” when called upon to put their training into practice. Iraqi Police Forces are seen as being more corrupt, less disciplined and more partisan than the Army. The British operation in Najaf against the "Serious Crimes Division" highlights the problem within the Iraqi police forces. Colonel David Hunt said last weekend that the “entire Iraqi police force” is worthless.

Al-Maliki, like Faoud Sinoura in Lebanon, is a weak leader who must walk a fine line. His military and police forces owe no allegiance to the nascent Iraqi state and it’s very questionable whether the US has the will to remain long enough to do the nation building necessary to ensure Iraq’s future. Without American protection, Al-Maliki is in an untenable position and is more susceptible to assassination than Pakistan’s President Musharraf. Without a strong commitment from the United States, he has no incentive to crack down on the Sadr militia which has been allowed to swell to 25,000 strong. To do so would be signing his own death warrant which will be carried out as soon as the Americans are no longer around to provide for his security. Iraqi politicians have no confidence in their military and no will to use them against the Iraqi people. Better to let the US or British be seen as the “bad guys.”

With the Democrat control of Congress and waning US public opinion, the Iraqis can tell which way the wind is blowing. Both al-Maliki and Sistani have indicated that Sadr is not a problem. They say the problem is with the Sunni and Baathist insurgents, Al-Qaeda, Foreign Jihadists, and the criminal element which evidently includes the Police. The only crackdown we are likely to see is on al-Qaeda and other foreigners, actual criminals or operations against death squads that can be publicly described as criminal enterprises.

It’s doubtful that 30,000 additional troops sent for a year or 18 months will buy the time required to make something out of the disparate collection of tribes and clans that behave like a herd of cats.

Iraq, A sober assessment from McCaffrey.

To save Iraq, the U.S. must commit money, resources - and remove some troops
By Barry R. McCaffrey* Star News on line

A collapse of the Iraqi state would be catastrophic - for the people of Iraq, for the Middle East and for America's strategic interests. We need a new political and military approach to head off this impending disaster - one crafted with bipartisan congressional support. But Baker-Hamilton isn't it.
Our objective should be a large-scale U.S. military withdrawal within the next 36 months, leaving in place an Iraqi government in a stable and mostly peaceful country that does not threaten its six neighboring states and does not intend to possess weapons of mass destruction.

The courage and skill of the U.S. armed forces have been awe-inspiring.

Our soldiers, Marines and Special Operations forces have suffered 25,000 wounded and killed, with many thousands permanently maimed, while fighting this $400 billion war.

But the situation in Iraq is perilous and growing worse. Thousands of Iraqis are killed each month; hundreds of thousands are refugees. The government of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki is largely dysfunctional. Our allies, including the brave and competent British, are nearly gone. Baghdad has become the central battlefield in this struggle, which involves not just politically inspired civil war but also rampant criminality and violence carried out by foreign jihadists. Shiite and Sunni Arabs overwhelmingly anticipate and endorse a U.S. strategic withdrawal and defeat.

We could immediately and totally withdraw. In less than six months, our 150,000 troops could fight their way along strategic withdrawal corridors back to the sea and the safety provided by the Navy. Several million terrified refugees would follow, the route of our columns marked by the burning pyres of abandoned military supplies demolished by our rear guard. The resulting civil warfare would probably turn Iraq into a humanitarian disaster and might well draw in the Iranians and Syrians. It would also deeply threaten the safety and stability of our allies in neighboring countries.

There is a better option.

First, we must commit publicly to provide $10 billion a year in economic support to the Iraqis over the next five years. In the military arena, it would be feasible to equip and increase the Iraqi armed forces on a crash basis over the next 24 months (but not the police or the Facilities Protection Service). The goal would be 250,000 troops, provided with the material and training necessary to maintain internal order.

Within the first 12 months we should draw down the U.S. military presence from 15 Brigade Combat Teams (BCTs), of 5,000 troops each, to 10. Within the next 12 months, Centcom forces should further draw down to seven BCTs and withdraw from urban areas to isolated U.S. operating bases - where we could continue to provide oversight and intervention when required to rescue our embedded U.S. training teams, protect the population from violence or save the legal government.

Finally, we have to design and empower a regional diplomatic peace dialogue in which the Iraqis can take the lead, engaging their regional neighbors as well as their own alienated and fractured internal population.

We are in a very difficult position created by a micromanaged Rumsfeld war team that has been incompetent, arrogant and in denial. The departing defense secretary, in a recent farewell Pentagon town hall meeting, criticized the alleged distortions of the U.S. media, saying that they chose to report a few bombs going off in Baghdad rather than the peaceful scene he witnessed from his helicopter flying over the city. This was a perfect, and incredible, continuation of Donald Rumsfeld's willful blindness in his approach to the war. From the safety of his helicopter, he apparently could not hear the nearly constant rattle of small-arms fire, did not know of the hundreds of Marines and soldiers being killed or wounded each month, or see the chaos, murder and desperation of daily life for Iraqi families.

Let me add a note of caution regarding a deceptive and unwise option that springs from the work of the Iraq Study Group. We must not entertain the shallow, partisan notion of rapidly withdrawing most organized Marine and Army fighting units by early 2008 and substituting for them a much larger number of U.S. advisers - a 400 percent increase - as a way to avoid a difficult debate for both parties in the New Hampshire primaries.

This would leave some 40,000 U.S. logistics and adviser troops spread out and vulnerable, all over Iraq. It would decrease our leverage with Iraq's neighbors. It would not get at the problem of a continuing civil war. In fact, significantly increasing the number of U.S. advisers in each company and battalion of the Iraqi army and police - to act as role models - is itself a bad idea. We are foreigners. They want us gone.

Lack of combat experience is not the central issue Iraqis face. Their problems are corrupt and incompetent ministries, poor equipment, an untrained and unreliable sectarian officer corps (a result of Rumsfeld's disbanding the Iraqi army), and a lack of political will caused by the failure of a legitimate Iraqi government to emerge.

We need fewer advisers, not more - selected from elite, active military units and with at least 90 days of immersion training in Arabic. Iraqi troops will not fight because of iron discipline enforced by U.S. sergeants and officers. That is a self-serving domestic political concept that would put us at risk of a national military humiliation.

All of this may not work. We have very few options left. In my judgment, taking down the Saddam Hussein regime was a huge gift to the Iraqi people.

Done right, it might have left the region and the United States safer for years to come. But the American people have withdrawn their support for the war, although they remain intensely committed to and protective of our armed forces.

We have run out of time.

Our troops and their families will remain bitter for a generation if we abandon the Iraqis, just as another generation did after we abandoned the South Vietnamese for whom Americans had fought and died. We owe them and our own national interest this one last effort.

If we cannot generate the political will to take this action, it is time to pull out and search for those we will hold responsible in Congress and the administration.

Barry McCaffrey is a retired Army general and adjutant professor of international affairs at West Point. He served four combat tours and was wounded in action three times.


2d Airborne Task Force, Airborne Division Advisory Detachment (Airborne),

APO 96307

Awarded: Distinguished Service Cross

Date action: 6 October 1966

Theater: Republic of Vietnam

Reason: For extraordinary heroism in connection with military operations involving conflict with an armed hostile force in the Republic of Vietnam: Captain (then First Lieutenant) McCaffrey distinguished himself by exceptionally valorous actions on 6 October 1966 while advising a Vietnamese Airborne Battalion on a search and clear operation near Dong Ha. At 0315 hours the camp received intense mortar fire which severely wounded Captain McCaffrey in the shoulder. With complete disregard for his safety, he unhesitatingly ran through the intense automatic weapons and mortar fire to estimate the severity of the attack. He soon discovered that the senior American advisor had been killed, and all but one of the company commanders were seriously wounded. After rendering aid to the casualties, Captain McCaffrey took command and dauntlessly proceeded around the perimeter to direct the defense against the insurgent human wave assaults. Again he was wounded by mortar fragments, but ignored his own condition and quickly organized a counterattack which successfully repelled another Viet Cong attack. During the remainder of the 12-hour battle, Captain McCaffrey repeatedly exposed himself to the hostile fire and directed artillery and air strikes against the insurgent forces. Through his unremitting courage and personal example, he inspired the besieged Vietnamese unit to defeat four determined Viet Cong attacks and inflict heavy casualties on a numerically superior hostile force. Only after assuring that all the wounded had been extracted, and that a replacement advisor was with the battalion, did he permit himself to be evacuated. Captain McCaffrey's extraordinary heroism and devotion to duty were in keeping with the highest traditions of the military service and reflect great credit upon himself, his unit, and the United States Army.

Should Women be in Combat?

Comment and Opinion:

I do not see any reason for woman to be exposed to combat. My reasoning is basic. There is no argument that persuades me to believe that woman are better or as equally prepared for combat as men. The US military in particular is the NFL of war. When I see a woman lineman in the NFL, I may be persuaded things could be different for the military.

Woman do not belong on war ships and should not be flying combat missions. They cannot replace men in combat and when placed in mixed units, they provide a distraction. There are ample opportunities for them to serve in support units, technical and communications fields but not in near or active combat. The military should not be a social experiment.

The Washington Times takes a sober look at the consequences of woman placed in combat.

Death toll of female troops 'troubling'
By Rowan Scarborough
December 26, 2006
The number of military service women killed in Iraq and Afghanistan has reached 70, more than the total from the Korean, Vietnam and Desert Storm wars. 
 "Some have argued that the women who have died are no different than the men," according to a report noting the 70 casualties from the Center for Military Readiness, which opposes women in combat. "But deliberate exposure of women to combat violence in war is tantamount to acceptance of violence against women in general." 

The reasons for the historical high casualty rate are multiple. Women now make up more than 14 percent of the volunteer force, performing a long list of military occupational specialties they did not do 50 years ago. Women in earlier wars were mostly confined to medical teams. Today, they fly combat aircraft, drive trucks to resupply fighting units, go on patrol as military police (MPs) and repair equipment. 
 What's more, the Afghan and Iraq conflicts are lasting longer than the relatively brief Desert Storm, which featured the first large contribution of American women in a war zone. 

But the real difference in Afghanistan and Iraq is the battlefield. It is virtually every road, neighborhood and rural village. Insurgents do not just attack front-line combat troops. Suicide bombers and improvised explosive devices (IEDs) strike at any time, meaning that women in support units can be just as vulnerable as men in ground combat. 
 "What it means is, it's just unprecedented," said Elaine Donnelly, who heads the Center for Military Readiness. "It is something that people are not aware of, for the most part. Some of these stories are incredibly sad." 
 Her report lists names, ranks and cause of death of eight women killed in Afghanistan and 62 killed in Iraq. The vast majority are enlisted women killed by IEDs or other ambush. 
 This month, two female officers died in Iraq, including Maj. Megan McClung, 34, a Marine Corps public-affairs specialist. Illustrating there are no firm battle lines, the death happened when Maj. McClung was escorting journalists near Ramadi. Her truck was hit by an IED. 
 Paul Boyce, an Army spokesman at the Pentagon, said the service has gone to great lengths to field armored Humvees that can blunt the force of an IED, as well as individual body armor. 

"Women soldiers are making vital contributions to our efforts to fight and win the war on terrorism," he said. "Recent operations in the war on terrorism consistently show that any soldier, whether performing combat or support missions, could be exposed to combat hazards." 
 More than half the 70 women killed were victims of hostile fire, as opposed to death by accident, which is added to the war's total casualty count. The 70 represents about 2 percent of the total death count of 3,253 in Iraq and Afghanistan. 
 Mrs. Donnelly said those killed include seven mothers with children 18 or younger. 
 "I think it's something that is very troubling, because it says that we as a nation are willing to tolerate violence against women as long as it occurs at the hands of the enemy," she said. 

Women are barred from land combat under federal law and regulation. But they do serve in units such as military police and combat suppliers that puts them in the bull's-eye for terrorists. 
 Part of the problem, Mrs. Donnelly says, lies in the Clinton administration's 1994 decision to rescind the so-called "risk rule." It kept females out of support units that would likely expose them to hostile fire or capture. If this rule were still in effect, female casualties would probably be lower, Mrs. Donnelly said. Women remained banned from land combat. 
 Women have been able to serve as military police for some time. But in Iraq, military police are almost as likely to see combat as an infantryman. Mrs. Donnelly said the MP mission needs to be divided into all-male units, which are the most likely to see combat.
Female Soldiers

Monday, December 25, 2006

Little Peter and The Wolf.

The story of Little Peter and the Pooty Wolf takes place in Texas in a meadow behind Little Peter's pretend ranch. Little Peter was staying at his daddy’s house, and in his room he had a view of the wide dry fields that overlooked a decrepit forest. Early one morning as the first rays of light crept in the window of Little Peter's room, Little Peter woke up and got dressed as fast as he could. Little Peter was very energetic and couldn't wait to go outside and play. In his Daddy's backyard was a gigantic tree that Little Peter loved to climb and a tall stone wall with a strong metal gate that kept Little Peter out of the dangers that lurked in the forest beyond the meadow.

As soon as Little Peter was dressed he ran outside into the backyard to climb his favorite tree. The tree hung over the large meadow which Little Peter found tempting. In the middle of the meadow was a big pond, a pond beyond which Little Peter never much ventured. Little Peter thought that it would be lots of fun to run around and sing and play in the meadow. He was aware, however, of the numerous warnings from his Daddy not to go into the meadow. Little Peter wasn't afraid of the dangerous animals in the forest so he went anyway.

Little Peter opened the gate and ran into the meadow while singing a melody. After a while Little Peter heard someone else singing a song. It was a bird, chirping along while flying graciously through the sky. "Hello bird," Little Peter said. "Isn't it a lovely day outside?". The little bird sang Little Peter a seductive song and Little Peter was very happy to have someone to sing with. Little Peter and the bird sang together while approaching the cool pond in the middle of the meadow. At the pond they met a chubby, yellow duck. The duck and the bird immediately began to quarrel as they decided which one was a better bird. "What kind of bird are you if you can't fly?" chirped the bird, "what kind of bird are you if you can't swim?" quacked the duck. They continued to fight not paying attention to anything that was going on around them. Little Peter's Daddy was paying attention however and he heard his cat creeping out into the meadow, ever so quietly. The cat spotted the bird and couldn't wait to have lunch. The cat crept closer and closer to the bird, it was ready to pounce when, "look out!" cried Little Peter's Daddy to the bird, the bird quickly flew out of the reach of the cat and onto a limb of the tree in Little Peter's backyard.

"What are you doing out here in the meadow?" asked Little Peter's Daddy. "I have told you time and time again that it is no place for you to play. There are dangerous animals in the forest just beyond the meadow. Do you want them to eat you?" Little Peter wasn't afraid of any animals. He knew in his heart and soul they would not hurt anything, but his Daddy dragged him back behind the safety of the wall and locked the gate. He thought he hid the key, but Little Peter knew best.

Just as Little Peter got onto the other side of the gate a Pooty Wolf came lurking out of the forest. The cat was asleep on the ground for he knew it wasn't worth the trouble of climbing the tree to catch the bird because the bird would fly away before he could get there. The Pooty Wolf crept closer and closer. The bird quickly noticed the Pooty Wolf and chirped alarmingly at the cat and duck. The cat quickly awoke and climbed up into the safety of the tree. The duck however quacked so franticly with fear that she jumped out of the pond and started to run for Little Peter's backyard. The duck waddled as fast as she could but the Pooty Wolf was much faster. The Pooty Wolf came closer and closer and finally "gulp." The Pooty Wolf swallowed the duck whole.

The wolf will continue to swallow more and more ducks, and little Peter and his friends better start to notice. The Washington Post has. Read it The new threat to Europe here.

Sunday, December 24, 2006

Peace on Earth and goodwill to all.

I have no particular theory about Christmas and its meaning. As a student of history, I recognize the not so un-coincidental congruence of holidays that coincide with the winter solstice. Some of the first US Christians, the Puritans, did not celebrate Christmas at all. They thought the German settlers with their yule logs and fir trees were more concerned with pagan rites than Christian practices.

The customs and practices of Christmas are rooted in many cultures and practices including Roman, Jewish, Germanic-paganism and Zoroastrianism. I prefer the Christmas times of my youth that were much less commercial, simpler and less filled with anxious expectation. I recognize January 2nd as one of the happier days of the year for me because the burdens and obligation, the hysteria and frantic worries of Christmas are over. The days get a little longer. Everything is less crowded and people do not have to pretend to be nice or happy or grateful. They can be themselves again.

Expectations are back to normal and the insanity of excess is put back into hibernation. I never did care about the daily countdown as to how the retailers are doing.

Do not confuse my lack of enthusiasm as Scrooge-like. It is all just not as important to me as it seems to be for most everyone else. There are important parts to Christmas that I treasure, the great Church music of Handel’s Messiah and the honest stated desire of peace on earth are two of my favorites. They both can bring a tear to my eye. I decorate my own ancient house in traditional Christmas pagan boughs of holly and red and gold garlands. I will take comfort in the joys and blessings of my own life and express them as a wish for all of you, whether you deserve them or not. Merry Christmas.


A 2006 Christmas Card
The Night Before Christmas/Larry the Cable Guy

Merry Christmas and Happy Chanuka From The Elephant Bar
Tragic Air Accident over North America

The EB Hopes you got your shopping done
because it looks like Santa will be delayed

Don't tell the children!

Merry Christmas and Happy Chanuka!

On the road to victory in Iraq?

Bush looked into Defense Secretary Robert Gates’ soul and saw a surge strategy. He is going to be rushing more Americans into Iraq, while the smart Iraqis are leaving. We have one hundred and fifty thousand skins in the game and the Iraqis have taken one and a half million people off the table. They continue to leave Iraq at a hastening pace.

The “national unity government” formula is dead on arrival. For fifteen seconds there seemed to be a glimmer of hope for a new start but the Iraqis who are in the know are voting with their fresh new passports. The esteemed, blessed seer of seers, the revered Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani in Najaf must be counting heads and is seeing that there are more Sunnis leaving than his own bicycle chain swinging Shiites. He is holding the course. No political show of unity for his anointed holiness.

An AP source reports that:
“An official close to al-Sistani, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to the media, said the cleric “will not bless nor support any new bloc or front. He only supports the unity of the Shiites.”

Anyone with a brain and fifteen cents worth of street smarts should be able to see where this is going. Iran, the Sunnis and the radical militias will all want to see the US locked into a battle with the Sunnis and the Shiites. They all have an interest in seeing it going from bad to worse for the US. New American troops will be in a war with the Shia militias. To this point it has been a Sunni show. Almost all the IED’s and US casualties have come from the Sunnis. The U.S. has faced a Sunni insurgency. With Bush as weak as he is in the US, it is a strategy that makes sense for all his enemies to play against him.

If Sistani is telling you to leave the militias (Shiites) alone, smile, bow, and walk slowly backwards towards the door.

Saturday, December 23, 2006

A small step in UN sanctions against Iran

After months of debate and giving into a lot of Russian demands, the UN Security Council has voted unanimously to impose sanctions on Iran. Russia eventually agreed to the draft resolution. The Security Council put Iran on notice to stop enriching uranium, which can serve a dual purpose and can be used to produce fuel for nuclear weapons.The demands and sanctions are modest. Iran will ignore them.

The sanctions call on all UN member states to ban the sale of nuclear equipment, materials and technology to Iran. Travel is not affected, but some banking sanctions can be enforced. It is the first time the Security Council has imposed sanctions on Iran. It is a very modest step, but it is a defeat for Iran.

The lost tribe.

The Basics of PaleoConservatism
By William H. Calhoun (12/21/06)

"Are there even any real conservatives left in America?" recently asked the one eager for knowledge. "There are," responded the wise man, "but they are often called paleoconservatives."

What are paleoconservatives? Well, as Russell Kirk once said, they are the only real conservatives left in America. The whole "conservative movement" has moved so far to the Left, or rather has been "neoconned," that many so-called conservatives are "conservative" in name only.

What do paleoconservatives believe?

Like mainstream conservatives, paleos are often religious, or at least reverent of religion. They are opposed to secularism, opposed to "gay marriage," opposed to the abortion industry, opposed to political correctness, opposed to the vulgarity of popular culture, and opposed to big government.

Otherwise, paleoconservatives hold more traditional views not held by many mainstream conservatives and certainly not by neoconservatives (aka "liberals in disguise").

For the remainder of the essay, I shall contrast paleos with neocons, who have gained prominence in America in recent years largely due to alliances with liberals. The liberal mainstream media is quite tolerant of neocons since they are only liberals of a different stripe.

First, unlike neocons / neoliberals, paleoconservatives oppose free trade. Historically and philosophically, conservatives have opposed free trade, and they should. It is destroying our economy, it is undermining our sovereignty, and it is national suicide. Unfortunately, many in the GOP have been "neoconned" into supporting free trade.

Second, unlike neoliberals / neocons, paleoconservatives are critical of mass immigration and oppose the third-world invasion of America. All immigration (whether legal or illegal) from the third world must end. Our country is currently being invaded, and many in the GOP (Bush, McCain, Rice, Brownback, Giuliani, Huckabee, et al.) not only have done nothing to oppose this invasion, they actually support it. They actively attempt to transform the USA into a third-world wasteland.

Third, unlike Leftists (and the neocons who have adopted this idea from them), paleoconservatives oppose the "proposition nation." The proposition nation is the left-wing idealization of a nation whereby one only has to believe in a few propositions to be considered a citizen. Not only is this contrary to history, but it is the recipe for self-destruction. Paleoconservatives support the traditionally conservative concept of a nation: one built upon kith and kin, blood and soil, genophilia (instinctive attachment to family and tribe), ancestral obligations, and ethnic solidarity.

Fourth, neocons at heart are philosophical liberals. They accept most of the liberal baggage of the Enlightenment and actually champion the left-wing notion of "rights." Paleoconservatives, however, reject Enlightenment notions of "rights," and rather believe in a more traditionalist, flawed view of human nature, one based in history, ancestry, community, and custom, and guided by the laws of nature. Obligation trumps right. Whereas most neocons / neoliberals side with the Enlightenment revolutionaries, paleoconservatives side with Aristotle and the Bible. Whereas neocons / neoliberals champion equality and egalitarianism, paleoconservatives cherish ancestral traditions and hierarchy.

Fifth, neocons support a neoliberal foreign policy, which resembles more Jacobin radicalism than conservatism. Neocons seek to transform the world into a liberal global democracy - tossing aside prudence, history, and realism. Paleoconservatives, on the other hand, realize that different types of government are better tailored for different cultures. Furthermore, paleoconservatives are largely non-interventionist, which means that we should not be a military for hire to solve others' problems. If attacked, certainly, we should fight back, but we needn't be the world's policeman.

Regarding terrorism, many paleos support the position that the only way to end terrorism in the West (we can never stop it in the Middle East) is (1) to completely withdraw from the Middle East, and (2) to deport all Muslims from the West. This policy, more than any other, would reduce the chances of terrorist attacks on Western soil.

Neocons, however, support the opposite: endless war in the Middle East, and endless third-world immigration to the West. In fact, they just increased quotas for Muslims in the USA -- not to mention the fact, as reported by Christian Science Monitor recently, that 200,000 Hispanics in the USA have recently converted to Islam.

Neocons, though, have no real historical attachment to America, and could care less about its wellbeing. They send our boys to die in a meaningless war in Iraq while the third world invades our country on an hourly basis. They protect Iraq's borders, and allow ours to be flooded with third-world invaders.

In short, paleoconservatives are the only real conservatives left in America. Philosophically and ideologically, neocons are leftists in disguise, who fifty years ago would have been tried for treason but now portray themselves as patriotic Americans.

William H. Calhoun is a writer, a poet warrior in the classical sense, a paleoconservative, and a farmer on his ancestral estate. Americandaily