June 30, 2005

Taking Academic Freedom Too Far?

The Academic Left's poster boy, Ward Churchill, advocates fragging "for peace." Well, we know there's no shame. But this can't help CU's fundraising or student recruitment very much. Are there any boundaries at all? I don't know, perhaps we don't want to stand in the way of people making complete fools of themselves and their ogranizations? But at some point won't well-meaning people start to think that if we don't draw the line somewhere, then maybe there's some flaw in the notion of patriotism, or the fight against totalitarianism? Won't they be justified in thinking we're not really serious? Is this a case of boiled frogs?

The irony is that I'll bet if someone advocated just beating the snot out of the guy he wouldn't hesitate to sue. (Hat tip: Instapundit)

(Cross-posted by Demosophist to Anticipatory Retaliation and The Jawa Report)

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June 28, 2005

Liveblogging the Fort Bragg Speech

Good opening. Thanking the right people (our military services). GWOT reached our shores on 9/11. "Murder in the name of a totalitarian ideology... they have continued to kill." Yup.

"They believe we're corrupt. They are mistaken." (Well, not totally.)

"ONLY ONE COURSE OF ACTION: To defeat them abroad before they attack us at home!"

Yeah, baby!

"We are removing a source of violence and instability and establishing a foundation for peace... is the sacrifice worth it."

Well, what will you ask of us?

The bad guys in Iraq are making common cause with similar ne'er-do-wells in Libya, etc. They see the abyss.

"Among the terrorists there is no debate that Iraq is central to the War. The outcome will leave them either emboldened or defeated."

Clearer one could not be.

"They failed to stop the transfer of sovereignty."

They failed to stop the formation of OUR VANGUARD. They cannot stop the advance of freedom. "This will not happen on my watch."

"Defeat an enemy and give strength to a friend."


Iraqi responsibility. We have made siginificant progress. THE ELECTION. They rebuild. Progress is uneven, but real.

30 nations have troops in Iraq. The UN is there. 40 countries have pledged $34 Billion for reconstruction. The Donar Countries.

Iraq is critical. Iraq is critical. Iraq is critical.

Numeber and quality of Iraqi security forces has improved. Operation Lightning. Iraqis want to be defended by their own countryment.

OUR VANGUARD. (Who are we?)

"Our strategy has both a military and a political track... As [they] stand up, we will stand down!"

Good enough. Not complicated. Nancy Pelosi take note.

"NATO is establishing a military academy near Baghdad." Yikes! THE VANGUARD!

Three new steps:

Partnering with Iraqi units.

Embedding coalition teams in Iraqi units.

Working with Iraqi ministries to manage their forces.

(See Mont Ventoux)

Deadlines serious mistake. Wrong signal to allies, our troops, and to the enemy. We need to complete the mission. More troops? If needed.

[But it's not more troops that we need.]

Emerging from tyranny into a democracy. Our VANGUARD. ("We" includes the Arab Middle East.)

Transitional National Assembly must draft a robust and fair constitution, to be ratified by the people, and will then "bind their multi-ethnic society into a democracy."

Wouldn't that be a hoot?

Libya knuckles under. Our strategy to defend ourselves and expand freedom IS WORKING. There will be tough moments that test our resolve. They don't respect sanctuary. They create chaos. They will fail to shark our will. (Probably, most of us.) We're in a confliect that demands much of us. Demands the perseverence of our citizens.

"The rise of democracy will be the ultimate ... victory. We will stay in the fight until... the fight is won."


Our troops can know our people are behind them. At every outpost across the world. FLY THE FLAG.

[OK, he's finially asking something of us. Propagate it. Ring the bell. Let's get it done.]

Loss. "The best way to honor the lives that have been given in the struggle is to complete the mission." Service.

"They" are no match for the United States of America.

Well, keep banging the drum. Good start. Finally asked us for something! Don't look to PBS for relevant commentary. Ask people you know whether they think it's important enough that they're willing to give up a carefree day... or two.

(Cross-posted by Demosophist to Anticipatory Retaliation and The Jawa Report)

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June 26, 2005

Nature v. Nurture v. Stupid

In Lileks' Screedblog, he recently takes on Ken Schram's recent bit of nonsense regarding the notion that people vote the way they do simply as a result of their genetic heritage.  Without rehashing the entire deal, let me simply quote Lileks' summarization of the article (or at least the prevailing viewpoint implied in the article): "I mean, there’s no other rational reason why people might have opinions that conflict with my own. They’re either stupid or evil."

Lileks starts to march down an interesting path at the end of his piece:

"So we can also assume that Mr. Schram is genetically predisposed to support racial preferences that fixate on skin color, has some interior code that makes him whoop and hollah hurray whenever he learns a partial-birth abortion has scrambled the limbs of an eight-month old fetus, and is hardwired to oppose limits on punitive damages for med-mal lawsuits. I have to assume this, because our difference of opinion means he is an evil parody of everyone one centimeter to the right of Me, and everyone is a monkey dancing to the square-dance call of our genes"

Well, this got me to thinking.  Let's assume that Ken Schram isn't a complete fool and has thought through some of the things his argument implies and is sufficiently comfortable with the full implications to go ahead and give voice to his notions.

There are certain genetic traits which are linked.  To take a very simple example, in females, the presence of well-developed lactating breasts in adult primate females is often associated with the presence of female genitalia.

Or to take something a bit more subtle, African-Americans are more likely to be born with Sickle-Cell Anemia.

So, let's take the analysis cited by Mr. Schram at face value - genetics determine behavior.

What, pray tell, would this suggest about, let's say, the propensity for convicted felons to vote Democratic?  Or, perhaps, the astonishing number of young African-American males to end up in prison?

Clearly specious nonsense.

So why, exactly, does Mr. Schram feel that specious nonsense is acceptable, just so long as it conforms to his ideological worldview.  This, in and of itself, is no surprise.

The thing that I do find more than a bit troublesome, however, is the fact that we no longer live in a world in which one idiot newsman will only affect things in his little neck of the woods.  In an increasing global world words count now more than ever.  No longer do we have the luxury of being able to confine idiocy to dorm room bull sessions at 3 in the morning.  We are now in a world where idiots today are fodder for Al Jazeera and other unreconstructed fools.  This sort of rampant nonsense, while nothing new, is a hell of a lot more significant now than it was when we were running around doing things like passing laws about sedition.

I fear that this will push us much closer to a Le May style ending - something no sane creature (regardless of genetics) will want to see.

(Cross posted to Anticipatory Retaliation)

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Dhimmicracy Rejoices in Iranian Elections

I was willing to give this guy the benefit of the doubt, but is there anything more damning to be said about an intelligence analyst like Larry Johnson than that he's eager to take "elections" in a totalitarian society at face value just to "prove" the neocons wrong?

Because, you know... if Persians really are longing to be free, as some fairly reliable polls have suggested, then won't he feel silly? And could one's self esteem really abide feeling silly about selling freedom short?

Are "liberals" going nuts, or something? (ed. They aren't really liberal, you know, in the classic sense. Yeah, I know. Slushy reactionaries is more like it.)

(Cross-posted by Demosophist to Anticipatory Retaliation and The Jawa Report)

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June 20, 2005

Into the West

I'm slowly becoming enraged as I watch Stephen Spielberg's latest epic Into the West, which purports to recount the history of a family in Virginia as they migrate westward and merge with the native Americans they encounter. It's hard for me to put my finger on what it is that bothers me about Spielberg's tale, but the essence of the problem is that it's inauthentic. And it's not one single thing that gives me that impression, but more like the fact that I grew up in a family in which the pioneering generation was only once removed from my own. Therefore, the stories really weren't that old when I heard them recounted by people who actually knew the principals. I actually knew my great grandmother, who had become the matriarch of the family by the time I was old enough to toddle around. I actually touched the bridge to that past so inauthentically recounted by Spielberg.

My great great grandfather was born in 1831 in Hemstead County Arkansas, into a family of eleven children. He lived with his parents on the farm until 1854 when he got a job as a "bull-whacker" driving an ox team to California. In the sanitized version of the story he simply returned to Arkansas in 1860, without explanation. According to my grandfather, however, he had fallen in with another Arkansan who was making his living as a "horse thief," and when the predation business got too tough this fellow convinced my ancestor to return to Arkansas with him, on the promise that if he did so he could have his pick of a litter of the fellow's sisters. In reality they weren't his sisters, but wards of his parents. The girls had lost their parents during a migration from Tennessee to Arkansas, and had been informally adopted by this fellow's family. So in his mind they were, sort of, his property and he could dispense them as assets.

At any rate my forbear ultimately made his choice, a stern young woman named Rebecca, whom he married in 1861. Shortly after that he and three brothers were conscripted by force into the Confederate Army: the 35th Arkansas Regiment. They served grudgingly, to say the least, until during the middle of January in 1863 one of the brothers was killed. It's not clear whether he died during a battle, but at any rate the three surviving brothers decided they'd had enough fighting for the Confederacy, and lit out with the army in hot pursuit. And I do mean hot. Apparently one of the three, John, was wounded during the chase and died a short time later at his home, at the age of 18. Two of their sisters, ages 16 and 17, were apparently killed during the same violent encounter with the Confederate establishment, but he and Rebecca escaped and headed to Washington State, where they became homesteaders. My grandfather said that the old fellow was "the most hard working man I have ever known." My guess is that he wasn't exaggerating, and that my great great grandfather was really running from that disaster he had barely escaped, for the rest of his life. No doubt he considered hard work a small price to pay.

There's a lot to this story, and I suspect it's not atypical. It's paralleled by many others of the time, but there really isn't much grist for a "politically correct" yarn. When you look at pictures of Joseph and Rebecca it's clear that they were rather stern folk to say the least. Their religion is listed in a number of documents as "evangelical," so I don't imagine that would pass Hollywood's ancestral heroes standard either. And though "decent," the life they led was hardly idyllic. Homesteaders of that era tended to just work themselves to death... which is what one had to do just to keep from going under. One could lose everything with a single bad crop. There aren't many people around now with much appreciation for what that was like, but I know a few hippies who tried homesteading in the '60s and they starved and froze for over a decade before they achieved any sort of stability in their lives. And homesteading in the 1860s must have been considerably more difficult than homesteading in the 1960s, one would imagine.

Into the West is supposedly about a kind of multigenerational, multi-ethnic family epic that must have been a rare exception, if it ever happened at all. Not that there weren't examples of intermarriage between native Americans and white settlers, but the conditions of such merges must have been incredibly difficult and they hardly coursed through the vital guts of either culture. They were fringe histories, and to learn the lessons that such stories have to tell us it's important to represent them accurately. To look at Spielberg's depiction of the Lakota and Cheyenne one would think that the two cultures would have met on equal footing had it not been for the intervention of a few evil men. But the unfortunate truth is that both cultures were naturally brutal, and of the two the native American culture had no moral advantage. It just wasn't as lethal, in the end. When, for instance, the Lakota managed a victory over Custer they savagely mutilated "survivors" leaving them to die in agony, with their scalps, genitals, arms and legs removed.

This is not the stuff of which great PC myths are made. Nor did my great great grandfather desert the Confederacy out of any sense of affiliation for the noble Union cause, although it was no accident that the South filled its ranks with abductees. That was, after all, the nature of the virus. (It's what the "insurgents" are currently doing in Iraq.) Of late the fashion has been to paint the Confederacy in mellower tones, if only to avoid the implication that there's such a thing as a "just war." How convenient. If we understood the Civil War on this level it would become difficult to avoid comparing the anti-war Democrats of that day, the Copperheads, with our present antiwar movement. And it would be impossible to avoid the insight that both seem to suffer from the same lack of moral clarity about the great evil of their own era. There is simply no way to give this story the PC slant it needs, without perpetrating a deep lie.

(Cross-posted by Demosophist to Anticipatory Retaliation and The Jawa Report)

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June 19, 2005

OK, So I Was Born Yesterday

Honestly, I'm so naive. I figured the story about the Downing Street Memos that fueled the make-believe Conyers hearings was just another in the long list of controversies over interpretation that plague the ideological divide, like the fracas over "imminent threat." It really never entered my head that the memos are actually no more real than the Rathergate fakes. What's a creative new word for "surprised," now that Sullivan has violated the term "gobsmacked?" Yeah I'm that, and then some.


Captain Ed has more.

David Kopel has some sobering and valid thoughts about the Durban fiasco, comparing Gitmo to the UK detention of IRA prisoners which was deemed "inhuman and degrading" (but not "torture") by the European Court of Human Rights:

The European convention obviously does not apply to the American interrogation of Arab or Afghan terrorist suspects at a military base in Cuba, but there are still plausible objections that can be raised against coercive interrogations, even when the persons being interrogated are terrorists. Serious discussion about Guanatamo would be enhanced by looking to appropriate historical analogies (such as the U.K.'s self-defense in the 1970s against the I.R.A.), rather than to absurd analogies, such as those drawn by Senator Durbin, which trivialize the Holocaust, the Soviet genocide, and the Pol Pot genocide.

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June 17, 2005

The Naive Fox

The Glittering Eye made the following comment about my distributed post comparing Wretchard's contention that we're approaching a "Hansell-Lemay moment," with Larry Johnson's contention that we're approaching a "looming debacle:"

I think the most important implied point in AR's post [I cross-post to AR as well as the Jawa Report] is the need for the political leadership here to shore up morale and public opinion. This is an area in which the Bush Administration has been consistently weak.

Just to be clear, I'm not sure that all we need is a better sales job by the Bush administration, because part of the ineffectiveness of the current effort is that the administration is afraid to ask very much of the US public, which misleads them into believing that the threat is far less grave than it is. This, in turn, leaves the public open to a certain "degradation of moral clarity" such that we start worrying more about the way we handle the Qu'ran than whether we're defeating a pack of fanatical cutthroats bent on our destruction. If we could manage to get the job done by just using our pinky finger then that'd be fine, but one ought to recognize that the outcome is less certain and the cost may be much higher (in terms of American lives) than we thought. On the other hand, if we act decisively now and keep up the pressure there's every chance that we'll utterly destroy the enemy. That's the real implication of the good news we've been hearing.

There's an old Chinese story about a foolish immature fox who ran across a frozen lake in mid-winter and then, just as he was about to reach shore, relaxed and allowed his tail to get wet. The tail froze fast in the lake and he starved to death, unable to move. It seems to me that this story applies, or could apply, to Israel's recent indulgence of the Palentinian leadership, as Bill Roggio points out in his excellent piece: Abandoning Success. For seduced yet again by the lust for peace they seem to have stopped short of utterly annihilating Hamas and IJ, as though they could trust the newly elected Palestinian leadership to finish the job seemingly only a short hop away.

But the parable could also apply to the US effort, which seems to be a little complacent as it registers some encouraging trends toward democratic reform as outright victories. Meanwhile the enemy successfully appeals to the more foolish of our citizens, convincing them to legitimate the enemy's own propaganda. And make no mistake, they're mainly concerned with the impact that this retenchment of purpose on our part has on their own "strategic rear." In a word, the faithful repetition of the "Qu'ran flushing" and "Gitmo gulag" themes not only undermines our sense of purpose, but more importantly it freezes public will in the Middle East regarding democratization, and gives anti-democratic and totalitarian forces there an opportunity to regroup, recruit, and redeploy.

At some point Americans in general, and not just the military, are going to have to make a few sacrifices in order put totalitarianism under our feet for good, and the sooner we realize what that will take the better. Otherwise, even with all our success, we could end up like that foolish fox, wasting away in sight of shore.

(Cross-posted by Demosophist to Anticipatory Retaliation and The Jawa Report)

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June 15, 2005

The Hansell-Lemay Turning Point

It's compelling to compare the analyses of two popular bloggers who are frequently at odds, and both of whom think the current effort in Iraq may be falling short of expectations: Wretchard, at The Belmont Club and Larry Johnson, at the Counterterrorism Blog. These represent, at least superficially, somewhat differing perspectives on strategic policy. On the one hand Johnson depicts US policy in the Middle East as a "looming debacle." These are words that we tolerate only if their justification is obvious and irrefutable, for good reason: because they can become a self-fulfilling prophesy. We might be better disposed to such language if the ideas they expressed contained clear alternatives that led to some conclusion other than "debacle," but we still tend to distrust them because they belie what appears to be a short-sighted insensitivity to the public good, whether that perception is actually true or not.

Larry starts and finishes his critique of US policy in his post by observing that Lebanon is set to break our hearts, and then suggests supplemental material that recounts the history of failed British and French attempts to bring self-government to Arab populations. This may not seem like a critique of US policy in Iraq, but it is... and not just because Larry has described Iraq as a civil war elsewhere. The reason is that both Wretchard and Larry are concerned about the "strategic rear," of the enemy.

Wretchard's assessment of the situation in Iraq, somewhat different than Larry's, is directly informed by an analogy with a famous turning point in WWII. He feels that we're approaching a "Haywood Hansell-Curtis Lemay moment." His assessment may be more palatable because he doesn't tout the altenative as a "debacle," but just as a rather costly and drawn-out campaign of attrition that sells short our service men and women. And he begins by observing that the level of combat intensity in Iraq is increasing overall, rather than diminishing. That is, the level of intensity confronted by US forces is about the same as it was a year ago, but the intensity faced by Iraqi forces is much greater. This is less significant in itself than in its implications about the success of our overarching strategy: democratization of the Middle East. From Wretchard:

But the constant rate of casualties in Iraq is an objective reminder that however successful US attempts have been within the theater [and we've had some significant successes that he recounts], the enemy strategic rear -- especially in Syria, Iran and Saudi Arabia -- has been merely damaged -- not destroyed.

What he doesn't say, and what might be equally relevant, is that the intensity level in Iraq might very well be part of the enemy's efforts to impact our strategic rear, a design with which it has recently had some success in the holy-book-flushing and "American gulag" departments. Keep your engines running.

And, as Johnson points out it's not just the effect of our policies in Syria, Iran and S.A., but also in Lebanon, that are disappointing. Both writers are concerned about the "strategic rear" of the enemy, though Wretchard is a bit more clear about expressing that in detail. The consequence would be a "debacle" only if we've read the trend correctly and either do nothing or do the wrong thing about it. But even Johnson sees some change:

Wishful thinking is no substitute for empirical analysis and a policy grounded in reality. The Bush Administration is coming slowly and uncertainly to this realization, particularly in Lebanon. Now that the premature euphoria about the birth of democracy has collapsed under the weight of the political realities of that godforsaken country we will now see whether the Administration can keep its counter terrorism policy intact.

In a war that has no strategic front it's not surprising that the policies dealing with the strategic rear take on special importance. So, I want to be clear about something. Unless we have a policy that promotes democratic and "liberal" reforms (the rule of law, free press, markets, etc.) in Iraq and the rest of the Middle East we have no effective policy to engage the strategic rear of the enemy. We're stuck in some version of attrition, with a strategy directly analogous to the high altitude bombing employed by Curtis Lemay's predecessor, General Haywood Hansell, during WWII. Moreover, it appears that the "realism" promoted by some in the "foreign policy establishment" is more directly analogous to a "hands off" policy that accepts the inevitability of authoritarian rule. In terms of the analogy with the WWII bombing campaign, we'd be increasing the altitude of the bombing runs, and attacking with less discrimination and effectiveness, rather than more. Can there be any doubt that if we pursued such a "realistic" course we'd be mired even deeper in attrition? By reestablishing the old status quo that gave birth to the modern totalitarian movement during the post-colonial period one could hardly say that we'd be placing much stress on the enemy's strategic rear. Effectively, we'd be admitting that such a strategy is impossible.

I'm not saying that this is what Larry thinks appropriate. Indeed, he gives some evidence of understanding that we need "boots on the ground" whose sole purpose is to secure the civil society necessary to nurture a turn toward self government. If I have a difference with him it involves that knee jerk distrust of the Ellsberg-like use of the term "debacle," because I think we could probably reap a costly and less certain success by simply pursuing our present course. This is no longer the Arab world of T.E. Lawrence or of the Algerian revolution, nor are we the British or the French empire. But it seems to me that both Johnson and Wretchard are right in their observation that there's another course of action that involves more than the superficial mobilization of the US power and ingenuity we've seen so far. That course of action, to "get down an all fours" with the detailed and sometimes messy business of nation-building, creating both military and civilian career archs, and cadres of professionals with expertise in such a project, seems the better approach if we really want to ensure that this alternative to "total war" succeeds.

My uncle served under the command of Curtis Lemay during WWII, and on his General Staff at Scott AFB during the Cold War. He passed away a month after we invaded Iraq in 2003. I know what the Lemay strategy would really entail, and it's not Wilsonian. For if our Sharansky-inspired benevolent advance on the enemy's strategic rear fails then I'm afraid we'd be left only with the Lemay paradigm as a last resort: no longer a mere analogy, but the strategic reality of a carefully constructed, targeted and implemented annihilation. That's the reality that lies behind the talk of realism and freedom. That's the real cost of failure, the real "debacle." And my imagination falls far short of doing it justice.

(Cross-posted by Demosophist to Anticipatory Retaliation and The Jawa Report)

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June 14, 2005

Friendless Unite

I am utterly despondent. I just can't believe I have so little value for so many, including myself. I don't suppose I will ever really know why. The irony is that I think I'd have enormous value some day, but too late in the game to matter.

Then comes the realization. At a certain point after being valued at or below zero for so long by so many one either just commits suicide or one begins to live for... revenge. If one could replace the deficit of love with fear one could conceivably recover one day, while remaining simply acquiescent one is doomed to sink beneath the waves. The number of people for whom this sovereign traveller has been a marginally positive influence in life is literally uncountable, but not a single valuation sufficiently in the black to justify survival. And yet nearly all of those tardy hands and hearts, if motivated by a little fear and self preservation, would extend themselves beyond reason and endurance to enable one simply to avoid even the modest discomfort of stubbing a toe. Ah, the human condition. Thus, is born, a Saddam or an Osama, or a Robert Mugabe. A simple calculation at the bottom of the pit. Welcome, brother!

Yet I can't believe it. I can't believe that this, even if true in some naked empirical sense, is much more than monumental compounded foolishness... and that in all that crowd of inconsiderate, selfish indifference there isn't one person worth the effort to survive, let alone excel, without drawing on the accumulated store of malice. And indeed there is. One person. One person with insufficient faith in evil to trust one's fate to it. And if one, then perhaps several. And if several, then perhaps many. And if many, then perhaps... a world.

But one is enough.

The scale of life is such that it's not commensurate with malice. The latter escapes through holes in the former as though it were a tuna net cast to haul in a catch of minnows.

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June 10, 2005

So, Will Andrew Sullivan Change His Mind Now?

As I've observed before, Andrew Sullivan's argument in support of gay marriage has been inconsistent. On one hand he argues that it's a matter of fundamental right, on par with opposition to the anti-misogenation Jim Crow laws. But on the other hand he argues that it's a matter of federalism, and that adoption of gay marriage in Massachusettes or California imposes no institutional onus on other states to honor such marriages. Objections to this soft-pedaled federalism ran along the lines that gay marriage could not be extended via the Commerce Clause, because the clause was about regulation of commerce, not regulation of everything that effects commerce. It seems to me that the implications of marriages in one state have a far more significant and certain effect on interstate commerce than six home-grown marajuana plants, so if the intervention of the federal government has already been justified on those grounds the precedent has been set. Once gay marriage is officially recognized and sanctioned in one state it automatically becomes a federal issue.

No, Andrew won't change his mind. He may have been logically inconsistent, but he always knew what he wanted.

(Cross-posted by Demosophist to Anticipatory Retaliation and The Jawa Report)

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maudlin chick

The epitome of being cute and ghastly at the same time. Thank God the long national nightmare of the Jackson trial is almost over, and we can get back to more conventional sappistry.

Update--the "why" of this post:

For the "huh?" people: There's a "bread and circuses" feel to the Nancy Grace/Greta VanSustern phenomenon (except that the power offering the distraction is the ancien regime of the mainstream media). How do people like this maintain celebrity status? I watch these maudlin women spew their slushy pseudo-professional claptrap and it makes me even more acutely aware of the fact that the media aren't covering some of the most critical news about the project to rescue civilization, and what they do cover they nearly always do so badly.

I also, for the life of me, can't figure out how any of the stuff these queens of ghoul cover is even interesting. How the deuce does anyone watch the Jacko coverage and stay off life support? I nod off so quickly I'm afraid of a neck injury. And just for the sake of gender-correctness I feel exactly the same about Larry King. I think he even puts himself to sleep.

By way of what ought to be a shameful comparison for the folks above, consider Linda Vester's Dayside. The woman even has a decent blog!

(Cross-posted by Demosophist to Anticipatory Retaliation and The Jawa Report)

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June 07, 2005

Shane, Grey and Williams: Are They Human?

In a storming article for Tech Central Station Frederick Turner, who would be the leading candidate for Philosopher Laureate of the United States, were there such an office, rains on the authors of the NYT story that revealed details of the private charters used by our intelligence services in Iraq and Afghanistan. Turner asks: "Why would they do it?" And concludes that they might not be quite human:

If the authors were just publishing their article to get a chance at a Pulitzer, I really have no moral quarrel with them at all, any more than I would have with a crocodile that eats a child or a raccoon that raids my larder. However, if they do have a moral identity as human beings, they should know that, if a certain civilian plane comes down over an unnamed Middle Eastern country, and all the US personnel aboard are killed, there is one compatriot who will regard them as murderers. May they think of this as they look in the mirror.

(Cross-posted by Demosophist to Anticipatory Retaliation and The Jawa Report)

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June 04, 2005

The Dhimmitude Press Standard

What I'd really like to know is how we can expect the Ummah to exercise reasoned judgment when our own press refuses to do so? In the words of the late Desi Arnaz: "Can somebody please 'splain that to me?"

(Cross-posted by Demosophist to Anticipatory Retaliation and The Jawa Report)

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The Aussie Street: A Lesson for the Ummah

In a recent post on Qu'rangate I speculated that there might be a silver lining:

But sometimes I wonder if Muslims, the deeply religious and the fanatical alike, shouldn't be a little more worried that we might just fly off the handle once in awhile. I worry that our apologists have been too successful at convincing them we're nice, even-tempered barbarians.

Well, I'm not kidding. And a recent post by The Belmont Club demonstrates why it's important.

Wretchard updates a series of classic posts that began with Three Conjectures, and a Postscript. The subject of his first two posts concerned the calculus of retaliation by the leaders of the US and/or other western nations to a possible WMD attack by Arab terrorists. Essentially the advantage of decentralized control and asymmetrical war becomes a disadvantage if Arabs want to limit the escalation of retaliatory consequences. The conviction that we would limit or measure our retaliation to the scale of the original attack is an assumption as naively misguided as the conviction within our own peace movement that Al Qaeda would be satisfied if we met a few simple demands.

The The Fourth Conjecture takes this logic a step further, in response to the fact that the first WMD retaliation by an anti-jihadist has already taken place. Anthrax spores were apparently mailed to an Indonesian embassy in Australia in retaliation for a jihadist who was sentenced to a mere 30 months in prison for the murder of 100 Aussies, while an Aussie received a 20 year sentence for drug abuse in the same court system.

Apparently the Aussie street is "mad as a cut snake." There are limits to the patience of citizens in English settler societies, and attacks may not bear a return address.

It could be the case that the ability of human associations (tribes, cities and nations) to think forward to the ultimate consequence of their actions, and then reason back to a solution, might prove to be the most important human capacity manifested since that ancient Adam learned to put the blame on his girlfriend. MAD kept us on the edge of our seats for generations, but the recognition of the consequences, in part, allowed us to prevent them. However let's not overestimate ourselves, because this is an entirely different situation. Throughout the critical years of the Cold War we had a mainline electronic evesdrop on the Kremlin, so we didn't have to guess about their intentions. The absence of uncertaintly played no small role in allowing the logic of Mutually Assured Destruction to work. We no longer have that luxury. Yes, we know their intentions. What we don't know are their capabilities. They, on the other hand, know our capabilities, but they take our intentions far too much for granted.

Beliefs are more malleable than people think. Sometimes beliefs lead a design, but they more often follow. I am not convinced that Islam is inherently any more unreasonable or dangerous than any other religion. Hamas members once believed that killing noncombatants was a sin, but they adapted that belief to suit the political situation within a matter of weeks, becoming the most effective Palestinian terrorst movement, when their design changed. That's both the bad, and the good news. If the World of Islam can appropriately perceive the threat they really face then they may be able to think forward to the consequences, and reason back, to a fundamental change.

(Cross-posted by Demosophist to Anticipatory Retaliation and The Jawa Report)

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June 03, 2005

Lowly Adjunct Suffers Ignominious End

Well, we know how that goes, don't we? Typically adjuncts are treated with about as much collegial respect as third-string badminton players, but this case takes the impertinence to a new level. After being shot by his wife with a 0.38 cal. Taurus, Bill McGuire, an adjunct professor at New Jersey Institute of Technology, was dismembered with a power saw, packed in three cheap suitcases, and tossed in the Chesapeake. Ouch!

(Cross-posted by Demosophist to Anticipatory Retaliation and The Jawa Report)

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June 02, 2005

Totalitarianism 2.0 and 3.0 Find Common Ground

Well, this piece from the Counter-terrorism Blog might go a ways toward undermining the wholesome image of Al Qaeda so carefully cultivated by the western left:

Yesterday, Israeli president Moshe Katzav warned in a speech that Muslim terrorists may plan on using neo-Nazi groups to carry out attacks in Europe. "Let's not be surprised if terror organizations use neo-Nazis for carrying out terror attacks," he told the German parliament.

While there's little evidence thus far of operational links between Islamist terror groups and neo-Nazis, this is an intriguing possibility -- and some white supremacist groups have already made overtures toward the Islamists. For example, Aryan Nations leader August Kreis said of al-Qaeda earlier this year, "You say they're terrorists, I say they're freedom fighters. And I want to instill the same jihadic feeling in our peoples' heart, in the Aryan race, that they have for their father, who they call Allah." Going a step further, Kreis told CNN that he had a message for bin Laden: "The message is, the cells are out here and they are already in place. They might not be cells of Islamic people, but they are here and they are ready to fight."

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June 01, 2005

The River War (Reprised)

Here's the original version of "The River War" from the Belmont Club. Not sure whether it has been salvaged from his site.

Thursday, November 11, 2004




The River War

The Fallujah battle, which is just winding down, should be seen in the context a wider campaign against the enemy in the Sunni triangle. To properly understand the goals of that campaign, we should first put ourselves in the shoes of the enemy. The Command Post reproduces an extensive extract of a press statement by a former Republican Guard general who now styles himself as a spokesman for the 'resistance'. Although it is probably puffed up for propaganda purposes, it contains a degree of plausibility from which we can infer the outlines of their strategy.


We are very satisfied indeed concerning the reality of the resistance and   its results on the terrain. The Resistance in fact has become an every day   popular state no one can ignore. We can speak about the Resistance in two   terms: First in Iraqi terms: the Resistance has spread its complete control   over a great number of Iraqi towns. What is happening in Fallujah, Samaraa,   Qaem, Baaquba, Hawijah, Tallafar, Heet, Saqlawyia, Ramadi, Anah, Rawa, Haditha,   Balad, Beiji, Bahraz, Baladruz, and other cities and towns of Iraq,   confirm perfectly this reality. The Resistance also controls totally some   areas in Baghdad and its suburbs such as Yusufya, Latifya, Abu Ghraib, and   Mahmudya, which shows the political and the security impasse encountered by   the Occupiers and their agents. Here we have to mention the widespread popular   cover the Resistance enjoys in these areas and elsewhere, rendering all Iraqi   resistance fighters in the confrontation moments with the enemy.


... After this rapid and summary lecture of the Iraqi resistance reality, I   can say that we are very confident about the future. What we planned before   the Occupation is being achieved on the terrain in a good way. This shows   the correct political and military Iraqi leadership long-term vision, when it   planned the Resistance and started its fire. There is a unified military   leadership, which leads the operations in the terrain in every town of Iraq.   This leadership includes the best officers of the Iraqi Army, the Republican   Guard, Saddam’s Fidayyins, and the Security and Intelligence services. What   is happening in the Provinces of al Anbar, Diyala, Mosul, and Salah el Din,   Babel and elsewhere is a bright sign of what I am telling you.

There are two factual nuggets in this screed. First, it gives us a map of the the towns which the enemy considers its bastions. Second, it hints of a fallback plan conceived before the launch of Operation Iraqi Freedom, a subject earlier discussed in War Plan Orange. By plotting the enemy strongholds on the map it is at once evident that they are coextensive with two pathways. The first goes northward along the Euphrates from western Baghdad, Fallujah, Ramadi, Hadithah, Anah and Qusabayah -- along the river and road from Baghdad to the Syrian border. The omission of Qusabayah from mention is very peculiar, since it has been the scene of battalion sized battles between infiltrators and Marines guarding the Syrian frontier since the earliest post-OIF days, but I include it here on that account. The second set of towns goes northeast along the Tigris towards Tikrit and parts of Kurdistan: Hawijah, Balad and Samarra. A spur runs off toward the Iranian border: Baqubah and Baladruz, on the road to the Iran. It is hard not to think that we are looking at their lines of communication.

The towns along these pathways are probably waystations where men and weapons can be smuggled by stages, a kind of Sunni Ho Chi Minh  Trail. My own guess is they are probably superimposed on traditional smuggling routes from Syria and Iran which have now been converted to serve the enemy cause. I caution the reader that this is guesswork, but I think it is correct. The discovery of carbomb factories in Fallujah suggests that town was the easternmost terminus of a finger that extended straight from the Syrian border, a final launching pad where enemy delivery systems were "bombed up" for their sorties at US targets in the city or as convoys made their way along the highways west of Baghdad.

Taking Fallujah then, was not merely a symbolic political act to reduce a 'symbol of defiance', but a sound operational move. It interdicts the conveyor belt of destruction that flowed from the Syrian border towards Baghdad. The logical next step is to cut the line again near the Syrian border, perhaps at Anah, so that by taking out both ends the middle is left unsupported. Alternatively, the US could roll up the enemy line of communication going north by taking out Ramadi which would force the enemy to sortie from Haditha, a little ville a lot farther from Baghdad. Although this will not totally destroy the insurgency, it will throttle movement along their lines of communication considerably. Guerilla warfare, like all warfare, is logistics. It just takes different forms.

In order to accomplish this task, the US has approximately 18 brigades -- about 50 battalions -- at hand. But many of these are assigned to important security duties and about 10 battalions were directly employed in the Fallujah operation or in support, and it will be some days, even weeks, before these units are available again to mount other operations. But the Prime Minister Allawie's 60 day declaration of martial law strongly suggests that the Sunni campaign will be finished before elections are held in January and that means there will be very little pause in American operational tempo. In fact, although the focus of media coverage has been on the urban battle in Fallujah, pursuit operations up and down the ratline to Syria are probably in progress. Chester was surprised to learn that contrary to his expectations, the British Black Watch regiment was to the west and probably north of Fallujah, not east as he expected. That means it was not between Fallujah and Baghdad, but between Fallujah and Ramadi. This suggests the hammer could fall on Ramadi, with Black Watch in a blocking position. One can only wait and see.

Every campaign has a political dimension. The campaign in the Sunni Triangle is probably aimed at convincing the enemy that resistance is now futile and their best hope lies in participating in the new Iraqi government through elections. Personally (speculation alert!) I doubt it can achieve as much. The campaign will absolutely gut the enemy as a guerilla force, but it will not be enough to prevent them from terrorizing Sunni politicians who may wish to participate in the coming elections. But this will only postpone unconditional Sunni defeat for another year because a terrorist enforced boycott will mean that Kurds and Shi'ites will dominate the new administration and most importantly, its Army. By next year, the regular Iraqi Army will be a far more potent force and the Sunni insurgency a far weaker one. But that's the old sad human story; to miss the chance when it comes and pine for it ever afterward.


posted by wretchard at 11:48 AM        

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