Saturday, December 31, 2005

Mad Jad Has a New Toy ?

Doctor Zin over at Regime Change Iran, in his Saturday post, states that CIA Director Porter Goss told the Turkish government that Iran has a nuclear weapon. Doctor Zin's source is Turkish
Very the whole post here.
UPDATE: The Jerusalem Post and the Regime Change Iran blog (both citing the German press), report that the US and NATO are engaging in consultations regarding military action against Iran. The nature of these discussions is unspecified. The Jerusalem Post mentions CIA Director "Gus's" [Goss's] visit with the Turkish Prime Minister, saying he was there to request bases for such an assault. If this is anything like true, this probably means the US wants permission to use its big base near Adana, Incirlik Air Base.
The Post says that countries "... such as Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Oman, and Pakistan were also updated regarding the supposed plan..." and that plans are being "coordinated" with NATO.
Oh reaaalllly ? With this list of countries being "updated" and all those pro-American NATO countries being "coordinated" with, why aren't we just FedEx-ing our attack plans, together wtih a box of dates, some good tea, and a nice note telling the mullahs we're coming, straight to the offices of the Vezarat-e Ettela'at va Amniat-e Keshvar (VEVAK -- Iranian intelligence).
The source is interesting...the Jerusalem Post. Naturally, the Israelis are very concerned about an Iranian bomb, given that Mad Jad keeps threatening to wipe them out. I'd be inclined to suspect some Israeli maneuvering of some kind, but most of this information seems to be coming from the German and Turkish press. (Worth thinking on too, that the Germans and Turks are buddies from way back).
Outside of Israel, among the western powers, only the United States, and to a lesser degree, Great Britain, have real military ability to strike Iran. Were a resort to arms actually in contemplation, some discussions with other powers would probably be politically necessary. Still, given European political attitudes and the nature of the targets to be struck in Iran, all this "consultation" is as good as telling the Iranians that we're coming. Perhaps we're indeed coming, or maybe all this is just some sand in the mullahs' eyes: part of the ongoing "negotiations" between the Europeans, the Americans and the Iranians over the fate of the Iranian nuclear program.
UPDATE NUMERO TWO-O: Okay, this business now has my attention. The Times (London) says Pope Benedict XVI used his New Year's address for a "veiled attack on Iran’s hardline leadership" chiding "authorities" who "incite their citizens to hostility to other countries." Uh, Mr. President Mahmoud “Mad Jad” Ahmadinejad ? I think the Pope's paging you. He's not declaring a Crusade yet, but is your insurance all paid-up ?
The Pontifex Maximus also said "in another apparent swipe at Iran" that in "nuclear war there will be no victors, only victims" and he called for nuclear disarmament.

New Years Eve

Okay, tis New Years Eve, and your host, the Jefe, naturally has thoughts on where the year's going, where it's been, and other thoughts that he's sure his readers, millions actually, are dying to hear.
But he doesn't want to do it today.
El Jefe is tired, has Monday off of work, and doesn't EVEN want to work hard enough to write something today. I want to talk about last year's predictions....some right, some wrong, some wildly well as trot out a batch of same for next year...but not just today.
Meanwhile, hope everyone has a nice New Year's Eve, gets to drink plenty of champagne; eat lots of yummy things; talk to interesting people; go to lots of cool parties; and find some leftover mistletoe someplace. Happy New Year !

Friday, December 30, 2005


El Jefe, da Boss, and da Secretary have been to lunch for Christmas/New Years. Gone at 12:30 , it's now 2:30, and we're just staggering back.
We visited McCormick & Schmick's seafood restaurant in Houston, and El Jefe enjoyed the Black Drum (Gulf fish, caught around Palacios) and most of a bottle of St Clemont, 03 (Chardonnay).
It's going to be a looonnnnng afternoon.

Thursday, December 29, 2005

Germans and Kurds

Long breakfast, pouring over the New York Times. Several things of interest.

First, the Justice Minister of Niedersachsen (Lower Saxony), Herr Uwe Schünemann, told the German newspaper Die Welt that “known Islamic militants” should be “electronically tagged so their movements could be tracked.” Niedersachsen is one of the sixteen German States.

I think the good Herr Schünemann has an excellent idea, and in consequence I acquit him in advance of any malicious intentions. Keeping tabs on “known Islamic militants” and other people who want to blow us up seems pretty sensible to me. Too bad the Germans didn’t have such a program in place when Mohammad Atta called Hamburg home.

Still, am I the only one that sees a touch of, well, irony, in such a proposal coming from a German Justice Minister ? Mind you, it’s not a bad idea, and El Jefe in general likes Germans and Germany, but these are, after all, the people who invented the yellow stars-of-David from not so long ago. Stars of many other colors too.

Even more interesting is that such a proposal is in the back pages of the New York Times, and escapes entirely without comment from this journalistic beacon of civil liberties. Today’s editorial on foreign affairs is on Mubarak’s Egypt. You can bet your bottom dollar the editorial pages would be positively bleeding ink if the Governor of Texas or a pro-US foreign government such as Egypt or, God forbid, Israel, aired such a trial balloon. Of course, the Germans, as opponents of US Iraq policy, are in the Times’s good books…

A good story on page A-12 of the Times about the city of Kirkuk. That city, in northern Iraq, sits on lots of oil, and consequently, everybody wants it. The Kurds and Turkmens have a historic claim, but Saddam moved in Arab settlers because they were supporters of his government, and displaced lots of Kurds. Bottom rail on top now, and the Kurds are bussing in settlers as fast as they can: both former residents and new folks, trying to position themselves for a referendum on provincial status in 2007. The Kurds want the city included in their autonomous portion of Iraq.

The developing situation is interesting. The Kurds want independence, but neither the rest of Iraq nor the Turkish or Iranian neighbors want them to have it. Their only friends, for the moment, are the Americans. The Kurds have been the most reliable local US allies in the place.

The Kurds have, in practical terms, two choices. The first, and most rational, would be to grab all the autonomy they can get out of the central Iraqi government, and bend over backwards to get permanent US bases on their soil. Unlike the Shiites and Sunnis, the Kurds would probably like a long-term US presence, which guarantees their autonomy status and would keep the Turks and Iranians out. Control of the Kirkuk oil-fields would sweeten the pot. Neither the other Iraqis nor the neighbors would like this, but in the short term at least, there is little they could do about it. The joker in the desk is the willingness of the US to hang around long term. I would hope this would work: the US could do worse than having the Kurds securely in their corner.

The other choice is go full-bore for independence. Truly, the inclusion of Kurdistan in the Iraqi state, to begin with, was one of the greatest injustices of the post-World War I peace settlement, but outright secession at this point would be opposed by all non-Kurdish parties. Absent the total breakup of Iraq, I do not think this could be accomplished without US support, which, at the moment, is not forthcoming.

But the whole thrust of Kurdish policy seems to be autonomy now, and independence later, and this means Kirkuk will continue to be a flashpoint. An independent Kurdistan is not viable without the city, and the surrounding oilfields. The Sunnis and Turkmen are very, very upset about Kirkuk, which is possibly even more dangerous at the moment than Baghdad.

Watch Kirkuk. This city is the bird in the mineshaft. If Kirkuk can be pacified, the new Iraq, in whatever form it finally takes, will work. If not… it’s only a question of where the partition lines will be drawn, and how long the civil war will be.

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Lets Pay Attention, Folks

The blog Officers' Club begins its 2006 predictions with the following chilling, but probably prescient prediction:

–I think that there will be a half-cocked attempt at a domestic terror attack… It will happen in the south, near a major artery of transportation (with operational support from personnel illegally entered into the US via the Mexican border)

Read the whole thing here. I completely agree with Officers' Club, with the proviso that we cannot count on an attempt being "half-cocked." Further, I will go the O-Club folks one better and tell my Houston friends that we really need to be on the qui vive, because in my humble opinion, our dear city is Number 1 in the terrorist bulls-eye, for a variety of reasons:

Proximity to the Mexican Border. Good for smuggling weapons and personnel in, and moving people out later.

Population. Our diverse, large and cosmopolitan population, and the traditional welcoming attitude of Houstonians towards newcomers and outsiders is made to order for concealing impending operations by a terrorist cell. Strangers with malign intent can move among us, reconnoiter their targets and plan attacks without attracting much suspicion.

Ties with the Arab World. Houston is nothing if not an oil town, and as such modern Houston has always had strong ties with the oil states of the Middle East, including, most pertinently, Saudi Arabia. Remember, 15 of the 19 September 11 hijackers were Saudis. Lots of Saudis, and others from the Muslim world, have lived and studied in Houston, and have contacts here. The recruitment pool of persons with basic familiarity with the target is larger than for other US cities, and this is a boon for terrorist planners tasked with getting their operatives in position to hurt us.

The Bushes. Houston is associated internationally with both the current President Bush and his father. From a propagandist’s point of view, Houston is an almost irresistible target for this reason alone.

Target-Rich Environment. Houston is a a Port of Entry to the United States by both air and sea; the Port of Houston is the second-largest US port in terms of tonnage handled. Oil, natural gas and the chemical industry virtually define our city’s economy. This part of Texas boasts the largest concentration of US refining capacity. 25 percent of US gasoline is refined in the Houston area. Recall that US refining capacity is strained right now because of damage to the Louisiana refineries caused by Hurricane Katrina. Finally, the Houston freeways, particularly the interchanges, are a vital node in our interstate transporation system -- much of our economy depends on the movement of cargo by truck.

Houston is in general a well-run city. Here’s hoping our Police, Fire and emergency services personnel are on the case, and that Mayor White and Judge Eckels are getting enough help and support in terms of intelligence and security liaison, support, assistance and advice from the Federal Government. As we can see from the liberals, and their recent vaporings over our, unfortunately, rudimentary counterintelligence efforts: there is a great temptation, four years on, to return to a “September 10” mentality. Unfortunately, there are people out there who want to drink our blood. Shame on us if we make it easy.

Thursday, December 22, 2005

Grab Bag

Still getting ready for Christmas, trying to clear out a bunch of work before the end of the year, and feeling under the weather today (and yesterday), so posting is apt to be light through the weekend. Meanwhile, the Merry Christmas/Happy Holidays controversy rages on. I wish my Jewish friends Happy Hanukkah, but I dislike the generic "Happy Holidays." Much too PC for me -- hence the above pictorial comment. (Graphic from Gates of Vienna).
Hmmm...just glancing at the papers, Saddam Hussein says the Americans have tortured him and that denials of same are lies. Mr. Saddam's had more people murdered than I have had hot dinners, so my heart is not exactly bleeding for the man.
The print edition of the New York Times today has an article about improvements the Israelis are making to their barrier fence between Israel and the occupied territories. The changes are intended to make traffic between Israel and the West Bank move faster, which should benefit Palestinians who need to move back and forth. But the Palestinians are unhappy, because the Israelis are essentially treating the fence like an unnegotiated international border. This amounts to a land-grab, the Palestinians say. Maybe, but what of it ? I would find it easier to muster some sympathy for the Palestinians if they had shown any interest at all in stopping murder-suicide bombers from blowing themselves and hundreds of civilians up in Israeli shopping centers and on city streets.
The Senate has given the USA Patriot Act a six-month extension. Thank God for small miracles. Meanwhile, the Democrats are all a-twitter about the National Security Agency intercepting international telephone calls without a warrant. Inasmuch as governments have been doing that like, forever, I find it hard to get worked up about that. More on that another time. Wonder how many of us the Left thinks its okay to kill just so terrorists get their civil rights ? What world do they live in ?

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Invasion !

Casa El Jefe is under occupation by an army of the Heir's friends, from school and other places. SWMBO fed them dinner and organized a movie, whilst El Jefe dropped by his friend T's for a chat, and now El Jefe is entertaining/trying to get them settled in...possibly into the wee small hours ? How late can 10 year olds go ???

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Advent of the Raptor

Splendid and timely news from the US Air Force (hat tip, Vodkapundit). As of tomorrow: the F-22 Raptor is operational. The 1st Fighter Wing’s 27th Fighter Squadron is apparently the first Air Force unit to deploy the Raptor. According to General Ronald E. Keys, commander of the USAF’s Air Combat Command: “If we go to war tomorrow, the Raptor will go with us. I declare Initial Operational Capability for the F-22A as of 15 Dec o5.”
The F-22A is truly an awesome machine, and unquestionably the finest fighter aircraft on the planet. Bravo for the Air Force.

Singe the Mullahs' Beards

We did not carry out the Islamist revolution in order to introduce democracy. . .Our revolution seeks to achieve worldwide power…I am a pure fundamentalist.”

Mahmud “Mad Jad” Ahmadinejad, President of Iran

"And now… set Europe ablaze!"

Winston S. Churchill, Prime Minister of Great Britain, to Hugh Dalton, Minister for Economic Warfare, upon Churchill’s creation of the “Special Operations Executive” to organize sabotage, guerrilla warfare and other covert warfare type operations in German-occupied Europe.

Iran is all over the news this morning. Elections in Iraq are tomorrow and according to the New York Times, the Iraqi Interior Ministry reports that this evening, (Iraq time) Iraqi Border Police intercepted a tanker truck stuffed full of forged ballots which had just crossed the border from Iran. Under interrogation, the driver evidently told the police that several other trucks had crossed from Iran at different points.

It is not news that the Iranian government would like to influence the Iraqi elections. But the Mad Mullahs – and Iraq and the US, would do well to remember that border smuggling can work both ways.

Speaking of Mad Mullahs, AP reports today that Iran’s President Mahmoud “Mad Jad” Ahmadinejad says that the Holocaust was a “myth” started by Europeans to create a Jewish state in the Muslim world. The ever-quotable Mad Jad tells us: “Today, they have created a myth in the name of Holocaust and consider it to be above God, religion and the prophets.”

Mad Jad’s latest pronouncement amplifies his declaration last week while in Saudi Arabia that the proper place for Israel would be in Europe – specifically in Germany or Austria. Today, Mad Jad said: “This is our proposal: if you committed the crime, then give a part of your own land in Europe, the United States, Canada or Alaska to them so that the Jews can establish their country.”

No word yet that the Israelis are packing for Bavaria or Alaska: instead, Prime Minister Sharon has ordered his armed forces to dust-off their plans to strike Iran’s nuclear facilities, and to be ready to go by March. Quite aside from the huge military difficulties Israel would encounter if it chose to exercise its military options against Iran, Israeli preparations seem quite reasonable, given that Mad Jad said in October that Israel needed to be wiped off the map.

I have been threatening for weeks to inflict my plan for dealing with Iran on my readers, but procrastinating about putting letters to electrons. No further excuse for delay because today, Herbert Meyer, a former Special Assistant to the Director of Central Intelligence (DCI), and once a Vice-Chairman of the CIA’s National Intelligence Council – writes with the same idea.

As Mr. Meyer so rightly says we should aim higher than Iran’s nukes. Our real objective should be the whole enchilada: an end to the Mullah regime. This is achievable. As Mr. Meyer, and others, including Michael Ledeen correctly point out:

…Iran today is in a classic pre-revolutionary state…Today, by every credible measure, the Iranian population hates its government. And within the population, nowhere is this hatred of the government greater than among the young people – and fully 70 percent of Iran’s population is under the age of 30. These young people have been risking their lives by demonstrating against the regime – week, after week – for at least two years. Moreover, the kids never miss an opportunity to make clear their desire for friendly relations with – of all countries, the United States.

No, neither El Jefe, nor Mr. Meyer, nor Mr. Ledeen, nor others who point out what the mainstream media ignores except on the back pages – that the Mullahs are in trouble – are on crack. At least 200,000 Iranians are emigrating a year. Despite all the oil wealth, Iran suffers from at least 20 percent unemployment – and that’s on official figures, widely known to be fudged. Inflation is at almost 20 percent. . While the population has grown by a third since the end of the Shah, the economy, in real terms, has lost a seventh of its 1979 value.

The regime is disunited at the top. The Iranian Majlis, the Parliament, stuffed with supposed adherents of the clerical regime, late last month rejected Mad Jad’s third nominee to head the Petroleum Ministry, only approving a fourth nominee on 11 December. The Majlis has rejected nominees for other cabinet posts. Mad Jad’s rival, former President Hashemi Rafsanjani had powerful and influential supporters who have made lots of money off the present bandit regime, and who have reason to fear Mad Jad’s puritanical streak.

Even Mad Jad’s erstwhile supporters seem to think that he is something of a rube: according to the AP story on Mad Jad’s holocaust denial “[i]nside Iran, …[Mad Jad’s] remarks have been criticized by some of his conservative allies, who fear he is hurting the country’s image.” Still, in Mullah terms, Mad Jad is not wacky – the real ruler of Iran, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei (affectionately known to some of us as “Ali Shah,” cause Shah’s what he acts like) - still approves of him.

But this is just the top leadership, and its cronies – really a very small group of people. Iran is a huge, potentially quite rich, country. The country is misruled, but may not always be so. The time to topple the regime is NOW, before it has a nuclear weapon, and before the increased confidence in its prospects can buy the regime allies, and find it foreign funds (from China, chiefly).

If the mullah regime gets nukes, it will be immunized overnight from retaliation for every kind of outrageous conduct, short of use of nukes, because a nuclear state is impossible to retaliate against without unacceptable risk. Despite their economic problems: caused by misrule and corruption, the price of oil means Mad Jad and his cronies always have options. Hiding behind a nuclear shield, the Mullahs and their intelligence organizations could go hog-wild with covert action and support of terrorism all over the Middle East, and nobody could do squat.

However, it appears to me to be too late to prevent Iran from getting a nuclear weapon. They are too far along in the process, the production facilities are dispersed, and the Iranians have built up the requisite technical base and have the educated people to make weapons. More importantly, the Iranian leadership and professional classes, whatever they think of the Mullahs and their regime, WANT the weapons. Recall the last Shah and his talk about building a “great civilization.” Nukes are prestige, as well as power. The Iranians, one way or another, are going to make a nuclear weapon.

It follows that if there must be an Iranian nuke: (and there must, because it’s too late to stop it), than this nuke must be in the hands of a normal government. This can be done. The Iranian government and senior religious establishment is barbarian and corrupt, the Iranian people are not. The one place in the Middle East right now, outside of Israel, where people actually like Americans is Iran (don't be deceived by the rent-a-mobs on TV). The one Muslim country where the whole concept of an Islamic state has been almost completely discredited is Iran.

It can be done.

The Iranians want to smuggle ballots into Iraq do they ? Hey Mad Jad – we can smuggle the other way too. The Iranian regime with all its big talk about wiping out Israel, and the “great Satan” and “worldwide power” ought to get what it's pushing back in spades. What I would like to see is a full scale effort, by all means short of war, to wreck this regime: money for dissidents, small arms, propaganda. Plenty of Iranians hate the mullahs, and we ought to be arming and paying all of them.

The Iranian economy is hurting a little. Inflation there is pretty high: how much higher would it be if millions of counterfeit Iranian rials started showing up from across the Iraqi border ? Come to think of it, an F-16 is about $15 million a copy. How bout smuggling the cost price of ten or so in dollars into Iran for free distribution to ordinary Iranians and enemies of the regime ? A great investment: get inflation growing like crazy, which would give the mullahs fits, but all the free simoleons would probably give a bunch of regular folks a hell of a good time first.

All the decadence of the west can be turned loose on the Mullahs for the good cause of making Mad Jad sweat. How about tanker trucks stuffed with People Magazine, or copies of Penthouse and Us or even the ever-vapid National Enquirer ? Ramp-up smuggling of liquor, drugs, porn, you name it, lets ship it. This is the era of digital film: How bout circulating a few billion smuggled videos of all the top mullahs playing patty-cake with cows, dogs and goats ? All kinds of possibilities and dirty tricks are out there. Won’t the religious police go nuts ? These are people who go ape when men and women share elevators. How wacked-out will they get about millions of pictures of Britney Spears's belly-button ? The more repressive the police, the more ordinary folks hate the regime.

If the Iranians want to interfere with their neighbors, that can go both ways. We can even do well by doing good: got to be plenty of Sunni Arabs in Iraq who haven’t forgotten about the Iran/Iraq war, who might be overjoyed to assist with such a program.

Meanwhile, let the Israelis get their military ready. Lets get our own air and naval forces ready. As Mr. Meyer says: “[g]iven the alternative of a massive attack by Israel, with or without help form the U.S. Air Force, a coup or a revolution may not strike at least a few of Iran’s political and military leaders as such a bad thing.” Perhaps the other steps I suggest might jog their elbows a bit, also.

The Mullahs want to play. We have an available countermove. Take a leaf from Churchill – set Iran ablaze.
ADDENDUM: Mr. Meyer's piece at Real Clear Politics is called "Leave the Nukes, Take out the Mullahs." Amen, but I keep thinking of that great line from The Godfather, when Clemenza said to Rocco, after wacking Don Vito's (supposedly) traitorous driver: "Leave the gun. Take the cannoli."

Thursday, December 8, 2005

Casus Belli

In the world according to Saddam, the unraveling of communism in Eastern Europe and Mikhail Gorbachev’s desperate plight in Moscow meant that the world was suddenly left with a single superpower. Saddam…surprised his fellow Arab leaders. The United States, Saddam said, “with its known capitalist approach and its imperialist policy…will continue to depart from the restrictions that govern the rest of the world.” With the retreat of their Soviet protector, Arabs would be in greater jeopardy than ever…“…the country that will have the greatest influence in the region through the Arabian [Persian] Gulf and its oil will maintain its superiority as a superpower without an equal to compete with it. This means that if the Gulf people, along with all Arabs, are not careful, the Arabian Gulf will be governed by the US will. If the Arabs are not alerted and the weakness persists the situation could develop to the extent desired by the United States, that is, it would fix the amount of oil and gas produced in each country and sold to this or that country in the world.”

Saddam Hussein, February 1990, at a meeting of the Gulf Cooperation Council in Amman, Jordan, prior to Gulf War I, quoted in Triumph Without Victory: The Unreported History of the Persian Gulf War, (US News and World Report Books, 1992, p. 16).

Hopper: “It's not about food; it's about keeping those ants in line.

A Bug’s Life (1998).

Yesterday, Tom Bevan over at Real Clear Politics teed-off on Chris Matthews’s Hardball dissection of Vice-President Cheney’s speech at Fort Drum, New Jersey. Mr. Bevin quotes Mr. Matthews as saying “I watched the vice president…and…I heard something different than we are just building a democracy over there. I heard we are fighting for American influence. It was a much more traditional position about geopolitics…He says we have a right to be there in force; we’re going to stay there. I thought he was staking a claim to the oil fields of Arabia…we belong there like we belong there in Texas or Wyoming.” (emphasis subtracted).

Mr. Bevan dismisses this as “wackiness.” I’d agree with him about the rantings re Texas and Wyoming, but as for “fighting for American influence” -- I’d have to say DUH. This was always the main reason to invade Iraq.

Speaking as an outside observer, an elector evaluating the claims of my country’s politicians, and, then, as now, a supporter of the invasion of Iraq. I never, ever believed that Saddam’s nuclear, chemical or biological weapons were an imminent threat, to the US at least – in 2003, so I never bought the WMD argument as a casus belli. Moreover, I don’t think anybody in the administration really believed this either. I certainly thought, along with virtually everybody else who had looked into the matter – that the Iraq invasion would uncover, at least chemical weapons, and evidence of a nuclear and biological weapons program.

My own opinion was that Saddam was lying low in the late 1990’s, (probably at least since President Clinton’s Operation Desert Fox) and in 2001-03, and waiting for UN sanctions to be lifted before resuming WMD efforts. But, again in common with everybody else who had any claim to knowledge on this issue, I always thought the invasion would uncover weapons – and am still not totally convinced that Saddam did not have a WMD program in 2003.

But this was never, for me, ample reason for war. The WMD business was simply the lowest common denominator that would produce UN and European support for war. Similarly, extending democracy and crushing a tyrant are both good things, but I never would have accepted them as legitimate causes for war with Iraq, either, at least the sole causes. Certainly these would be ample reasons for covert efforts to damage the regime, insofar as such was possible, but not reasons for an invasion.

Fighting for and extending US influence, for me, were the only reasons justifying war with Iraq in 2003. Liberals point to US support for Saddam’s Iraq in its war with Iran in the 1980’s as evidence of US hypocrisy on Iraq, but the liberals, unknowingly, are making my point. Had the Saddam regime continued what amounted to a pro-US policy in the early 1990’s: i.e. hostility towards the anti-US clerical regime in Iran; confining itself to mostly rhetorical support for the Palestinians; opposition to radical religious movements in the Sunni Arab world; and more-or-less good relations with the pro-US conservative monarchies of the Gulf, no doubt the US would have continued to hold its nose and deal with Saddam. And the US would have been right to do so: we have no Holy mission to democratize the planet: we are the friend of liberty everywhere, but the guardians only of our own.

But Saddam, after his stalemated war with Iran, chose to turn away from a somewhat pro-US foreign policy, and go into business on his own. Lets give the devil his due: Saddam did this for the best of good reasons – a bid for his own empire. Deeply in debt to Kuwait, with no Soviet Union to queer his pitch, Saddam decided to eliminate his money problem by robbing the bank. On 2 August 1990, Saddam Hussein invaded Kuwait.

Saddam occupied, plundered and brutalized a US client state. Had Saddam’s invasion of Kuwait been allowed to stand, no pro-US government in the region could have deemed itself secure, and all would have hastened to align themselves with Saddam. Read the quotation above – Saddam understood precisely what he was doing: with the demise of the Soviet Union, the choices for the Persian Gulf were an American empire, or his own. Had his gambit worked, Saddam, overnight, would have controlled directly or by proxy, almost all Middle Eastern oil outside Iran, and graduated to the class of major world mover and shaker, a real Nebuchadnezzar, not a minor-league dictator.

Such a result would have been even more certain had Saddam, following a brief pause for re-supply of his Republican Guard formations – proceeded beyond Kuwait and taken physical possession of the Saudi oil fields and ports. It is difficult to see how the first President Bush could have mounted Desert Storm then, even had he wanted to. Saddam must spend nights in his prison cell regretting his hesitation.

But Saddam didn’t, Bush Senior did, and Saddam and Iraq were defeated. Rather than making the best of things and accepting his defeat, Mr. Saddam obeyed the cease fire terms only insofar as he was forced, and elected to play patty-cake with Osama, shelter scum like Abu Nidal and Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, pay stipends to the families of Palestinian suicide bombers, and allow his intelligence organization to operate terrorist training camps.

But on 11 September 2001, the rules changed. The United States learned that it could no longer afford to suffer the existence of unfriendly regimes that wanted nuclear weapons, and, at the least, turned a blind-eye to anti-US terrorists; in a part of the world containing the most vital of strategic minerals. On 20 September 2001, the Baath regime in Iraq was warned by President Bush:

Our response involves far more than instant retaliation and isolated strikes. Americans should not expect one battle, but a lengthy campaign, unlike any other
we have ever seen. It may include dramatic strikes, visible on TV, and covert operations, secret even in success. We will starve terrorists of funding, turn them one against another, drive them from place to place, until there is no refuge or no rest. And we will pursue nations that provide aid or safe haven to terrorism. Every nation, in every region, now has a decision to make. Either you are with us, or you are with the terrorists. From this day forward, any nation that continues to harbor or support terrorism will be regarded by the United States as a hostile regime. . .

. . . This is not, however, just America's fight. And what is at stake is not just America's freedom. This is the world's fight. This is civilization's fight. This is the fight of all who believe in progress and pluralism, tolerance and freedom.

We ask every nation to join us. We will ask, and we will need, the help of police forces, intelligence services, and banking systems around the world.

(emphasis in bold supplied)

Saddam and his secret police’s flirtings with our enemies were known. The Saddam regime had a proven track-record of continuous anti-US hostility, both rhetorical and otherwise, after Gulf War I; not to mention aggression against its neighbors, including pro US states. In the post-9/11 world, the burden was thus on the Saddam regime to prove to America that it was safe to allow it to survive.

If Saddam Hussein wanted to keep his seat, his course was clear: prove to the US government’s satisfaction there was no possibility that Iraq wanted to obtain WMD’s; arrest or kill terrorists and anti-US persons within his borders; cease the rhetorical war against the US and its allies; accept and comply completely with all cease fire terms of Gulf War I; and order his intelligence and secret police authorities to assist the Americans against Al Qaeda. Absent these or similar steps, no amount of games in the UN were going to save him.

Had Saddam done these things he would no doubt be sitting in his palace in Baghdad, a happy tyrant. But Saddam elected instead to serve as a central-casting example of a Bad Guy, an obnoxious, open, proud and publicly defiant anti-American dictator. His deposition and hanging are the reasons for this war: when he hangs dead from a noose: he will be the perfect object lesson as to the consequences of playing games with Uncle Sam. Of course the war was about “extending our influence,” about “educating” Middle Eastern regimes on proper behavior and getting them to do our terrorist hunting for us. DUH.

Of course, Americans don't like the idea of Empire. We drive foreign cars, drink German beer, wear clothes made in China, and guzzle Saudi oil like Coca-Cola, but God forbid we call a spade a spade and admit that the USA is a world empire. Of course it is, as much as Britain or Rome ever were. But we have to disguise it. This, of course, explains the difficulty President Bush has encountered explaining the reasons for the Iraq War: it's simply not politic to say that the reason for the war was to hang Saddam so that we could frighten other sovereign states into doing what we tell them. But it is, none the less, quite true.

Friday, December 2, 2005

The Sun of Austerlitz

Soldiers !

The Russian army is presenting itself before you in order to avenge the Austrian army...

...I shall direct your battalions myself. I will hold myself far from the firing if, with your accustomed bravery, you carry disorder and confusion into the ranks of the enemy. But, if victory should for a moment be uncertain, you will see your Emperor expose himself to the first blows; for victory shall know no hesitation during this day, when the honour of the French infantry is at stake, which means so much to the honour of the whole nation...


Proclamation of Emperor Napoleon I to his army, morning, 2 December 1805 (From Claude Manceron, Austerlitz, [W.W. Norton and Co., New York, 1966, pp. 174-75]).
Exactly one year after his coronation in Paris as Emperor, 200 years ago today, Napoleon I won his greatest victory, at Austerlitz, in what is now the eastern Czech Republic, over the combined armies of Austria and Russia. Sometimes known as the "Battle of Three Emperors" because the Emperors of France, Russia and Austria were all present, or at least nearby; Austerlitz, along with the Battles of Jena (1806), and Friedland (1807), gave Napoleon effective control of Europe.
36 years old on the day of his greatest victory, Waterloo was not even a shadow on Napoleon's horizon. French hegemony in Europe seemed assured for at least a century. Despite having the smaller army, the Emperor knew its quality -- having such confidence in his troops that he actually promised to stay back from the fighting; and the troops having such belief in him both as leader and talisman that they begged him to do so.
The Russians and Austrians adopted the precise plan Napoleon predicted: and, as the day wore on, and a brilliant sun chased away the early morning fog, the Allies paid heavily. The French suffered 8-9,000 casualties, but the Austro-Russians lost some 30,000 killed, wounded or captured. Napoleon's column on the Place Vendome in Paris is cast from the 180 or so Russian and Austrian cannon captured at Austerlitz. On hearing of the battle, William Pitt, Prime-Minister of Great Britain, organizer of the alliance against the French, said "roll up that map of Europe, it will not be wanted again in our time." Pitt died just over a month after Austerlitz.

I am well pleased...!
You have, on this day of Austerlitz, justified everything that I expected of your intrepidity; you have covered your Eagles with an everlasting glory. A 100,000 man army, under command of the Emperors of Russia and Austria, was, within less than four hours, cut to pieces or dispersed. What escaped your blades drowned in the lakes. Forty flags, the banners of the Russian imperial guard, 120 pieces of artillery, twenty generals,more than 30,000 prisoners, are the result of this day now famous forever. . .
It will be enough for you to say "I was at the Battle of Austerlitz" for one to reply: "There is a brave man."
Proclamation of Napoleon I to his army, following Austerlitz. (from Manceron [see above] and Wikipedia, with corrections and modifications to Wikipedia translation by El Jefe.

Thursday, December 1, 2005

One of Those Who Am I Things

I am not usually given to self-revelation, but occasional bouts of truthfulness are enjoyable. My friend T, earlier, put up her answers to these questions. I found the exercise entertaining, so here goes:
Personal Stats: Born in Alabama, moved to Texas when I was eleven, away for eight years, and in Houston the rest of the time. Married for eleven years to SWMBO (She Who MUST Be Obeyed), with one child (Heir, age ten), and three cats, MILO, FLINKY and SUNSHINE, who are really children too.

Fantasy Dinner: Okay, this is a fantasy…so most of my guests would need a Oujia board; that or I’ll have to wait for an afternoon in the Elysian Fields. Hmmmmm, to dinner: Me, SWMBO of course, Julius Caesar, Napoleon, Cleopatra, Charles de Gaulle, Winston Churchill, Alexander Hamilton, Carl von Clausewitz, Marilyn Monroe, Henry Kissinger, Niccolo Machiavelli, Hortense de Beauharnais, George Patton, Tom Clancy, George W. Bush, Vladimir Putin, Margaret Thatcher, Elton John, John Glenn, Clint Eastwood, John Wayne, Charlton Heston, Georgi Zhukov, Chester Nimitz, Hu Jintao, Lee Kuan Yew, Otto von Bismarck, Augustus Caesar, Wretchard from over at Belmont Club Blog, the Baron and Lady D from Gates of Vienna, Sam Adams, the Duke of Marlborough, and George Washington.
Oh yeah, Michael Moore, because every crowd needs a butt for comic relief; Anna-Nicole Smith, for her deep thoughtfulness and intellectualism; Jennifer Aniston, Mariah Carey and Elisabeth Shue (just because); and my sixth grade English teacher (wherever she is – she was so nice and just so God-awful gorgeous).

I have this somewhat guilty wish to talk to Lenin and Stalin too, (stare at the abyss and it stares right back), but not over dinner.

Couldn’t live without: Family, computer, an occasional glass of scotch, fast cars, red wine, steak, seafood, German beer, chocolate, the sound of the ocean occasionally, intervals of peace and quiet.

People are surprised that: I’m shy until suddenly I’m not.

Greatest Indulgence(s): Gruyere cheese, time to read.

Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Full Decks

El Jefe has not been posting this week, restricting himself to occasional comments elsewhere, because he is rather buried at work. Blogging is not forgotten, however: El Jefe has a full list of targets that will be serviced as soon as time allows.

Friday, November 25, 2005

The Dear Leader Visits the Troops

ITAR-TASS, the Russian news agency, reported yesterday that North Korean dictator Kim Jong-Il visited his troops for the sixth time in a month, on this latest occasion inspecting the 2nd Guards Infantry Division. (Hat tip: Tinpot Kim praised his soldiers' combat readiness, saying that one of his can lick hundreds of "his enemies" thanks to "intensive training." Okay Mr. Kim. Down here in the South, we used to say one Confederate could lick ten Yankees.
The Dear Leader apparently spent quite a lot of time on his insepcting, visiting a barracks, the canteen, warehouses, and personally interviewing soldiers on their living conditions, and posing for photographs. All laudable, but pretty useless unless it was a surprise visit.
Why is Dear Leader Kim visiting the troops so much ? ITAR-TASS says that "foreign experts" in Pyongyang believe Kim is doing it to provide moral support and to ensure his soldiers keep backing the leader. The personal touch to these visits: Kim's interviews with the troops, asking about their food, etc., etc. -- makes this plausible. Actually talking to the Dear Leader, son of the deified Great Leader, probably really is like speaking with God for North Korean peasant soldiers. But why ? Why does Kim need to make sure the troops are backing the leader ? Why do the troops need moral support ? Is something stirring in the Hermit Kingdom ?

Thursday, November 24, 2005

Space Capsules, Pictures and Field Marshals

El Jefe is back from a trip with SWMBO and the Heir to Washington, D.C. SWMBO played tourist for awhile, but she needed to attend an accounting seminar part of the time, so Heir and El Jefe were left to their own devices for some of the time. Was so cool to go play tourist ! So as not to disappoint the locals, and undercut their feelings of superiority on their own turf, I made sure to go the whole turista monty: wearing loud clothing, including a hat with a Texas flag on it, spending lots of money on knick-knacks and gew-gaws I really don’t need, as well as burying my nose in my handy Frommer’s guidebook as necessary.

I have some experience in Washington, and thought that the city was both cleaner than I remembered it in the late 1980’s, and a whole lot more locked-down, no doubt due to 9/11. If you want to do the White House tour, or meet your Congressman, call and get reservations way in advance. No more FBI or Pentagon tours, at least for the present. Probably, on balance, a good thing, I have always thought it a trifle odd that the general public could go tramping through the FBI and Pentagon: places where serious people actually do real work, as distinguished from most of the politicos inhabiting that city.

The Heir and I did walk past the White House (very large, very white, lots of guards). Pennsylvania Avenue is still closed off right in front of the Executive Mansion, with semi-permanent barricades at each end. Big metal round things – which, as Heir and I discovered, are retractable if a vehicle needs to pass through. Pretty slick ! Several fruitcakes in the area, protesting one thing or another, but they looked pretty harmless.

The Heir was much impressed with the Smithsonian’s Air and Space Museum, a place guaranteed to be of interest to boys of all ages, including El Jefe. Three real Apollo spacecraft in the place (Apollo 11, Skylab 4, and an un-flown capsule used as a test article), a real Lunar Module, Gemini and Mercury capsules, a Russian Soyuz, plus an SS-20 IRBM posed next to its counterpart, the US Pershing II. There were lots of planes: a DC-7 airliner, Lindbergh's Spirit of St. Louis, a Dauntless dive-bomber, a F4F Wildcat Navy fighter -- miles and miles of fabulous stuff. The place was full of tourists, including brigades of earnest-looking Chinese with military haircuts and notebooks, who all seemed very interested in the space artifacts.

Spent some time in the National Gallery of Art (on the Mall, between 4th and 7th Streets, by the National Archives). It would be quite possible to spend days in any of these museums, so one needs to decide what to see. Fortunately, we visited the National Gallery the first day, when SWMBO could accompany us: and SWMBO and I have different tastes in art. SWMBO and Heir went elsewhere and left me alone with the objects of my interest: 18th and early 19th Century French and Spanish paintings. I spent most of my limited time in those galleries. The National Museum has a beautiful collection of paintings by the Spanish artist Francisco de Goya.

I spent a lot of time in front of Don Antonio Noriega (1801). Goya’s subject, King Charles IV’s Lord Treasurer, is a central-casting image of a wealthy, proud, arrogant Spanish Don of the 18th-19th Centuries: splendidly elaborate uniform, paunchy, expression somewhere between dignified, humourless and petulant, with a dash of irritation thrown in. Rouged cheeks, court wig just so, chestful of medals and orders of one type or another. Don Antonio looks terribly pleased with himself, and utterly unconvinced of anybody’s importance save his own.

Another interesting Goya is Victor Guye (1810), a six or seven year old page to King Joseph I, the Bonaparte king of Spain during the Napoleonic Wars. Victor Guye was the nephew of one of King Joseph, and Napoleon’s, generals, Baron Nicolas Phillipe Guye – evidently there is a companion portrait of Baron Guye someplace -- both pictures were commissioned from Goya by Baron Guye for his brother, Victor’s father. Apparently Goya got on well with everybody, because a few spots down from Victor Guye is a painting of the Duke of Wellington, great British adversary of the House of Bonaparte. The most arresting feature of Goya’s view of the Iron Duke was his portrayal of the Duke's eyes: Wellington has the thousand-yard stare. Unfortunately, the image I have linked to doesn’t do Goya's portrayal of the coldness of his eyes justice. Not a man I’d want to cross. A hard, hard man. A great general.

Just adjacent to the Goyas are my favorite works, French neo-classical/romantic paintings of the late 18th/early 19th centuries. Naturally, I spent a long, long time in front of Jacques-Louis David’s picture The Emperor Napoleon in His Study at the Tuileries. Attentive readers and persons who know El Jefe have probably figured out by now that I am just a bit of a Bonapartist, and this particular painting is one of the holy of holies in the Napoleonic art firmament. Virtually no illustrated biography of the Emperor is without this picture.
The artist described the portrait thus: "He [Napoleon] is in his study. . . . The candles flickering and the clock striking four remind him that the day is about to break. . . . He rises. . . to pass his troops in review." Napoleon is attired in his favorite uniform of a colonel of the Foot Grenadiers of the Imperial Guard (his own regiment), next to him is a chair with the symbol of his dynasty: the bees that replaced the fleur-de-lys of the Bourbon kings. A copy of Plutarch conveys the Emperor’s resemblance, both as soldier and lawgiver, to Julius Caesar, Augustus Caesar and the other great figures of Roman history; scrolls of his great legal and legislative achievement, the Code Napoleon are in the chair.

The Emperor is not, however, a snappy dresser: note the unbuttoned cuff (pointed out to El Jefe by the Smithsonian's guard); as well as the somewhat mussed hair.

Could spend all day on these paintings (and in a letter I’m preparing for a friend, and in my personal journal, I probably will dwell on all of them at length), but I will comment here on only two others. In the same room with Napoleon is another work, identified as being painted by somebody “in the circle of Jacques-Louis David” called “Portrait of a Young Woman in White” (1798). Quelle-belle demoiselle ! A gorgeous woman, in a rather low-cut, almost sheer white dress, probably a somewhat risqué subject for a painting in 1798 (but the period between the fall of the kings, in 1792, and the rise of Napoleon in 1799 was pretty risqué). The facial expression is interesting, a beautiful mouth, and expressive eyes, (if an overlarge nose) but an exceedingly bored expression.

Look at Portrait of a Young Woman and then walk right across the room and have a look at David’s portrait of Madame David (his wife) (1813). Fifteen years and a social revolution separate these two paintings. If Young Woman was a bit avant-garde for its day, Madame David illustrates a representative of well-off, proper, establishment French society. The Napoleonic regime looked down on the loosening of public morals produced by the revolution, and to some degree successfully imposed or re-imposed bourgeois social values. One big secret of the French Revolution was that the revolutionaries, and beneficiaries of the revolution like Napoleon didn’t want to overthrow the kings and royalty so much as replace them. The liberals became conservatives once they had power.

I was dragged out of the National Gallery of Art after a time, and we moved on to the Museum of American History. A beautiful collection there, but I have never liked the Museum of American History’s building much. I like the 19th and early 20th Century Gilded Age government buildings in Washington, all columns and domes and granite. The Museum of American History, like most new government buildings in Washington, like our Federal Courthouse here in Houston, is post World War II and thus boring.

If the American History museum is housed in a boring looking building, the same cannot be said of its contents. Again, you have to choose what you want to see, and the Heir and I focused on the sections devoted to the American presidents and to American wars. Highlights of the American History museum included a piece of armour plate off the C.S.S. Virginia, and the Field-Marshal’s baton of the German World War II era Generalfeldmarshall Werner von Blomberg (1878-1946), who was Hitler’s Minister of War from 1933-38. Field-Marshal von Blomberg had, in retrospect, the great good fortune to be forced out of his official positions in a juicy little scandal prior to the war. Generalfeldmarshall vonBlomberg's baton is a garish thing, grey leather, with brass ends; with lots of Iron Crosses, Eagles and Swastikas all over it. von Blomberg's name, and the date the baton was conferred, are on a white band at the bottom (von Blomberg was the first of Hitler's Field-Marshals).

I have more to say, saw lots more cool stuff, but El Jefe is running out of gas. The sandman is calling…hopefully with a bottle of brandy, a cigar and one of El Jefe’s Marilyn Monroe look-a-like mistresses from the Dream Palace. Perhaps more tomorrow.

Happy Thanksgiving

El Jefe has returned, in a better frame of mind. More about his trip after Thanksgiving.
Today, sitting round the tables with our families, it is an appropriate time for us all to reflect on God's blessings and favors to ourselves and our families, and to ask for his continued protection and favor to us, our families and our country.
All sorts of serious news to comment on, but that awaits a later time also. Gravest of all, of course, is the news that Jessica Simpson and her Boy Toy have split. (Hat tips: T, plus Drudge/Us Magazine). Shocker ! A Hollywood split ! Who'd a thunk it ?

Friday, November 18, 2005

That Dark Star Again

All sorts of things worthy of attention, including a pusillanimous resolution on Iraq in the Senate. However, I am still in somewhat of a funk, and not really in the mood to blog. It's about all I can do for the moment just to work. From tomorrow, I am away for a few days, so hopefully El Jefe's morale improves.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Is that all ?

AP says that the US government has detained 83,000 "foreigners" in the past four years of the War on Terror ? So few ? By all means, let innocent persons caught up in the net go, if we can figure out who they are, but we can keep the Al Qaeda, Taliban and the hard-core Baathists in Iraq till they rot as far as I'm concerned.
Here's to the next 83,000.

Your Name Here

The Texas town of Clark, near Fort Worth, has renamed itself “DISH” to get ten years of free satellite television service from The Dish Network. The town’s hundred or so residents get free basic service and a free digital video recorder/satellite receiver.
One hopes that the Dish Network throws in couches for all the new potatoes. Dish, Texas joins the proud ranks of places and institutions that prostitute their names and pasts for a mess of pottage. Formerly this pernicious practice was mostly restricted to stadiums and games: “Vitalis Sun Bowl,” the “SBC Cotton Bowl,” the “Nokia Sugar Bowl,” “Minute Maid Park.”

Yes, yes, I'd like free satellite TV too. But where does it stop ? Why don’t we just do this with whole states ? The country even ? I think they're already doing it with planets and stars -- seems like I've read about outfits which purport to be able to sell buyers rights to name particular stars. Will “Microsoft Texas” get us all free Windows upgrades ? Then again, maybe I could quit my day job if I renamed this blog the "Kingdom of Hooters."
It would be priceless if the Dish Network turned right round and sold the naming rights. How about "Home Shopping Channel, Texas ?" "Al Jazzera, Texas ?" Or maybe "Penthouse, Texas ?"

No escape from popular culture. Surrounded by plebeians. Enough to drive you wacko.

Under a Dark Star

El Jefe is usually certain that he is Felix – fortunate, one of Fortune’s Favorite’s in fact. Okay, not real prepossessing looking, not a rocket scientist, or mega millionaire, or a rock star, but life has generally made up for this in other ways. El Jefe has a good life and is usually certain that the Big Guy Upstairs, or whatever underling he has deputized to watch over the operations of Gang Bosses like El Jefe -- takes care of things.

No doubt, in the Big Picture view of things, he does, but recent events, some frightening, some inconvenient, some depressing, (fortunately, none serious in the earthshaking, life or death REALLY UNLUCKY sense), combined with a serious case of Writer's Block have made even El Jefe wonder whether he is under a Dark Star, yea, whether Fortune, as it did to Great Caesar on that very Bad Day in Pompey’s Curia, has deserted him. Dark Star, Big Cloud, Bad Mojo, whatever.
No doubt Gaius Julius Caesar Dictator, could El Jefe but ask him, would know the appropriate sacrifice to propriate the Gods: that which would make Fortuna Primigenia turn her beneficent gaze once more on the world of El Jefe and his friends, family and enterprises. But alas, Gaius Julius is long gone, except to an old friend's Ouija board, and in any case, we live in a more “civilized” time. In any case, events over the past couple of days make El Jefe even more certain that he won’t be sorry to see the back of 2005.

Monday, November 14, 2005

On the Public Service

Patriae Inserviendo Consumor (“I am consumed in the service of my Fatherland”)
Motto of Prince Otto von Bismarck
The BBC reports today that California Governor Ahh…nold Schwarzenegger has received a rapturous welcome from hundreds of adoring Chinese fans, and that the police had to rescue the Governor from friendly crowds in Beijing

Governor Schwarzenegger is in China on several errands: promotional events for the Special Olympics, and conversations with Chinese political and business leaders on, inter alia, trade between China and California, and intellectual property theft, a subject near and dear to the hearts of movers and shakers in California.

I am glad to see people giving the Governor such a warm welcome. No doubt he needed it after his State’s voters decisively rejected his reform proposals last week.

I make jokes about everything – but my tasteless quips about Ahh…nold aside, I quite admire the man. Were it legal, I wouldn’t mind Governor Schwarzenegger being President Schwarzenegger, and that’s a hell of a concession for me to make to a person of foreign birth. I don’t agree with the Terminator about a lot of things, but everything he has gotten in this life, he has most assuredly earned.

But this is true of many people. What is most admirable to me about Governor Schwarzenegger is that he does not have to be Governor – does not need it, but just does the job anyway. Ahh..nold is famous almost beyond imagining, has instant entrée in the most important social and political circles in this country and Europe, has a gorgeous wife, four children, more money than he could ever spend – and he still puts up with being Governor. Certainly, there is an element of vanity in it: perhaps even the predominant element, but this is present in all politicians and leaders. However, ambition is often laudable: this man could have an easier life, but he is, to a degree, sacrificing his ease to the public service.

Governor Schwarzenegger could tell the people of California to take their job and shove it, and, after last week, most people of sense could understand him doing so, and would sympathize. Yet there he is this week, in China, doing California’s business. Yes, yes, to some degree it’s a junket, and he gets the adulation of the crowd, gets to meet big-shots, eat at their banquets and engage in interesting repartee. He also gets to spend his evenings with briefing books, staffers who know too much, and the telephone; all so he can receive gratuitous advice from lobbyists, experts and fixers who need him to do something in China, and whom are all certain they know more than some pretty-boy actor. Oh yes, also letters from lunatics, insults from cranks and wrangling with legislators. All this as head of the minority party in his state, which is chock-full of ingrates and rivals and believers in a free lunch.

Nobody will thank Ahh….nold, but he shows up for work anyway. Good on you, sir. Patriae Inserviendo Consumor.

Have You Ever ?

I do love questionnaires and surveys. Somebody e-mailed me this one...

Have you ever...

smoked a cigarette ? yes
smoked a cigar ? yes
crashed a friend's car ? yes
crashed your car ? yes
stolen a car ? no
been in love ? yes
been dumped ? yes
been in a fist-fight ? yes
had feelings for someone who didn't have them back ? yes
been arrested ? no
been hunting ? yes
gone on a blind date ? no
stolen a kiss ? no
had a crush on a teacher ? yes
written a love letter ? yes
skipped school ? yes
gotten a raise ? yes
played hooky from work ? yes
been on a plane ? yes
been on a boat ? yes
been on a ship ? yes
thrown up in a bar ? no
been a crime victim ? yes
taken painkillers ? yes
laid on your back and watched clouds go by ? yes
made a snow angel ? no
played dress up ? no (cept for parties and Halloween)
cheated while playing a game ? yes (only cheat codes in video games)
fallen asleep at work/school ? yes
kept a diary ? yes
felt an earthquake ? no
seen a volcano ? no
been in a hurricane ? no
touched a snake ? yes
owned a gun ? yes
run a red light ? yes
been suspended from school ? no
had detention ? no
been in a car accident ? yes
hated the way you look ? always
witnessed a crime ? no
square danced ? yes
pole danced ? no
questioned your heart ? yes
been lost ? yes
been to the opposite side of the country ? yes
cried yourself to sleep ? no
played cops and robbers ? yes
sung karaoke ? yes
done something you told yourself you wouldn't ? yes
done something you told yourself you shouldn’t ? yes
done something you told yourself you couldn’t ? yes
laughed till some kind of beverage came out of your nose ? yes
caught a snowflake on your tongue ? yes
sung in the shower ? yes
been married ? yes
been separated ? no
been divorced ? no
had a dream that you married someone ? yes
glued your hand to something ? no
worn the opposite sex's clothes ? no
been a cheerleader ? no
sat on a roof top ? yes
didn't take a shower for a week ? no
played chicken ? no
driven while intoxicated ? yes
been pushed into a pool with all your clothes on ? yes
been told you're hot by a complete stranger ? no
broken a bone ? yes
been easily amused ? yes
shown poor judgment about people ? often
laughed so hard you cried ? no
cried so hard you laughed ? no
mooned/flashed someone ? no
forgotten someone's name ? yes
slept naked ? yes
gone skinny dipping in a pool ? yes
gone skinny dipping in a pond/lake ? yes
been kicked out of your house ? no
blacked-out from drinking ? no
played a prank on someone ? yes
gone to a late night movie ? yes

Friday, November 11, 2005


(An annual post)

Have you forgotten yet ?
Look down, and swear by the slain of the War that you’ll never forget.

Do you remember the dark months you held the sector at Mametz – The nights you watched and wired and dug...?

Do you ever stop and ask, ‘Is it all going to happen again ?’ . . .

Have you forgotten yet ?...

Look up, and swear by the green of the spring that you’ll never forget.

Siegfried Sassoon “Aftermath, March 1919.”

Today is Veterans Day in America. Because the calendar is crowded with holidays, Veterans Day replaced an older holiday, known as Armistice Day, which commemorated the end of the First World War, surely the most needless, tragic, but consequential war of modern times. Canada, Australia and the other British Commonwealth nations, very appropriately, call today “Remembrance Day” which is how I prefer to think of it. World War I is ancient history to most of us, yet it is with us, always. Pause, friend, for a moment, wherever you are, and remember.

When historians look back upon our times, they will probably agree that the 21st Century really began on 11 September 2001. Similarly, Gavrilo Princip, a 19-year old Serbian revolutionary bandit, member of a terrorist organization called the Black Hand, the al Qaeda of its time, effectively began the 20th Century about 11:15 a.m. on 28 June 1914 when he murdered Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria-Hungary, and his wife, Archduchess Sophie, by a bridge in Sarajevo, in what is now Bosnia-Herzegovina.

Ninety years later, Sarajevo was the scene of more violence, this time between Serbs, Croats, and Muslims, quarreling over the make-up of the post-Cold War Balkans. The 20th Century thus ended where and as it begin, in Sarajevo, in blood, with another war that nobody would win.

The 1990’s violence in the former Yugoslavia, like almost everything else in modern times, stemmed from the war that Princip helped begin. Over 10 million dead bodies later, the war he and a baker’s dozen of incompetents started ended today, in 1918.

Officially ended, anyway. How can an atrocity like the First World War ever truly end ? Fought over nothing, ending in no victory for anyone, except political cranks, demagogic ideologues and other fanatics. The First World War, besides murdering millions, destroyed ancient Christian kingdoms, and killed the faith of the peoples in their civilization, in their leaders, in progress, parliamentary institutions, science and religion, and left us instead the poison fruits of Communism, Nazism, and Socialism and all the other “isms” you can possibly ever think of. The road to Auschwitz, Hitler and Stalin runs straight from the murder scene in Sarajevo. The Second World War killed more, in raw numbers, than the First – but the later war was only a continuation made possible by the poisons unleashed in the first war.

Satan had a good day in Sarajevo in June 1914. If not for the murderer Princip, and the clumsy diplomats and generals who blundered Europe and the world into a war everyone lost, whoever would have heard of Lenin, Stalin, Hitler or Mussolini ? Lenin would have rotted away in exile with his books and scribblings; Hitler no doubt would have died in deserved obscurity in some Vienna doss-house. Stalin would have met the inevitable fate of a bank robber; and Mussolini perhaps never left journalism. No collapse of the British Empire forcing America onto the world stage to redress the balance. No Great Depression, no Nazis, no World War II or Holocaust, no Cold War. Maybe no collapse of the Ottoman Empire giving us, ultimately, Bin-Laden, Zarqawi, Arafat and suicide bombers.

But Gavrilo Princip fired his fatal bullets, and the whole edifice of civilization crumpled before them. The shots of Sarajevo echo still. Gentle reader, think today of his crime, and of all whom, unknowing, ultimately paid. Because of the shots in Sarajevo, men who had no reason to hate each other fought and murdered each other all over the world in job lots -- in the fields of Champagne, on the roads of Poland and in the snows of Russia, in Iraq and in China. Children died in the cold Atlantic and starved by the million in Russia, the mountains of Armenia and the Balkans. Sleepy eastern Europe, so long a quiet agricultural backwater, twice in fifty years was turned into an abattoir. Americans died in the Argonne and, thirty years later, in the Pacific and in the deserts of Africa; later in the jungles of Vietnam; and today US Marines are dying in Fallujah, Baghdad and in the hills of Afghanistan, all in some way because of, or related to the acres of warehouses of cans of worms opened by Princip.

Besides killing, maiming and wounding millions, the war had other, more insidious effects, as we have seen just this week. Most fatally, Europe lost confidence in its leaders, in science, in the Christian religion – in itself -- at some level even in its right to exist as a culture. Today we see France, mulcted by its sacrifice of so much blood and treasure in the first half of the 20th Century, hesitant to even criticize, much less repress, barbarian rioters in its midst, and even willing to pay them to be quiet. Germany and Russia, gravely wounded in both body and soul, led the turn away from God, progress, law and civilization, and burned books and millions of their own citizens. Britain, mother of Parliaments and the law, crippled and bankrupted by that war and its continuation, abandoned its Empire, is ashamed of its past, and its political class today quivers in fear of criticism by modernity's ascendant barbarians.

Today in 1918 -- on the eleventh hour, of the eleventh month, of the eleventh day – the first war ended, and the killing took a little break. Think of all war dead today, dear reader. But, almost 100 years on, spare a thought for a moment or two for all the dead of the Great War, so pointless, so long ago, but so horribly, tragically important.

Thursday, November 10, 2005


Early this morning, I had an interesting conversation of sorts with an old, old friend. We have not spoken in over a year. I’ve known L since junior high school, or middle school as they call it now. My family played the moving game several times during school years, so L is, or was, about the oldest friend I had.

Unfortunately, alongside friendship and growing up and families and all the rest of existence, there’s politics. L and I certainly never had politics in common, but up until rather recently, that never seemed to matter too much. However, the last presidential election evidently was too much, and L dropped me; an event, which, quite frankly, cut me pretty deeply, and still does. It never even entered my mind that this might happen one day, particularly over something as silly as politics.

Oh yes, I was talking about a conversation. Anyway, L called me. I can’t really tell you what the talk was about, or even exactly what was said, except that we talked for a long time about families and places and old times, and people we both know. I turned around to grab something…and found myself looking at my cat (who was lying right there on the bed with me, looking at my face, apparently deeply concerned), and the bright red numbers on the alarm clock.

The whole episode had been a dream. I had evidently gotten up, turned off the alarm, and fallen back asleep. An extremely real dream: I mean, that conversation seemed REAL to me. I do not generally have dreams like that, quite so vivid or about persons of importance to me so I suppose on some level I must have needed that “contact” even if it was only with chemical and electrical processes in my own head. I immediately thanked God for the opportunity to talk once more to my, I suppose, ex-friend, even if only to an image in my head.

Happy Birthday Marines

Today is the 230th anniversary of the founding of the US Marine Corps, an institution just over six months older than the country it protects. I was going to write my own more elaborate happy birthday, but Mackubin Thomas Owens's over at National Review Online really cannot be bettered, and I commend it to your attention.
I'll just say Happy Birthday USMC, and thank you.

Wednesday, November 9, 2005


Now that the elections are over, expect the Left (both the Democrat politicians and Big Media) to drop the mask of objectivity and friendliness towards Judge Alito. The gloves will really come off, from today forward.

Schemes Postponed

"Annapolis, Annapolis! Oh, yes, Annapolis must be defended; to be sure, Annapolis should be defended - where is Annapolis?"
Thomas, Duke of Newcastle (1693-1768).
Still have, inter alia, the Iranians on my mind. I haven't forgotten about my promised plan to singe the Mullahs' beards. The plan is in my head, and will appear soon. But I want to do a better job than the Duke of Newcastle. Between El Jefe's day job, engagements these past several evenings, and some other matters, I have not had a chance to give it the attention it deserves, in the form of some additional research on a couple of points, and writing it down. But it's coming.
"A man, a plan, a canal..." No wait, that was another guy, another story.

Stay tuned.

Tuesday, November 8, 2005

Good Morning...

All is well in the world of El Jefe. I snooze in the comfy chair on the lawn of my Autumn Palace, in the Misty Mountains above Ciudad El Jefe, empty Cosmo glass on the table next to me, along with the ashtray bearing my dead cigar, and the plate with little bits of Gruyere cheese. The grounds are patrolled by a full regiment of El Jefe’s elite goombas, his personal guard, vigilantly watching over the sleeping Maximum Leader, all wearing their authentic 1920’s ice-cream suits, and carrying their genuine M 1928 Thompsons.

El Jefe’s loyal major domo/butler/fixer, Fritz, complete with monocle, has El Jefe’s next Cosmo ready when he wants it, along with all the Yankee papers and his breakfast, and will handle the phone if that insipid fool King Jacques calls for more advice.

Meanwhile, the protection money (er, taxes), flows into El Jefe’s treasury, the peasants are happily at work in their fields; the five different departments of Secret Police are all busy routing out the (fortunately few) depraved enemies of the Beloved Boss of Bosses. The factories are humming, the shops are full, the streets bustling, corporate profits obscene. Sunny skies, good pollution. At the Gas Station (corner of Avenue El and Jefe Street), super-unleaded (“Sky Jefe”) at the full-service pump is $.50 per gallon.

Someone is shaking my shoulder….is it El Jefe’s Principal Mistress, Marilyn Monroe, the Love Blonde…no, no NO….

Alas, the alarm clock, jerking El Jefe back to the all too mundane reality of working for a living. I’m working on an ERISA brief at work…deadly boring stuff. King Jacques needs to clap his rioters in a dungeon, make them read ERISA and the Internal Revenue Code to each other aloud…guaranteed to kill with sheer boredom almost instantly.

Speaking of the French, their cabinet seems to have at last gotten off the dime and declared a “state of emergency” under an old law dating from the Algerian War in the 1950’s. The rioters seem to be tiring: hopefully this is the case, because the police must be near utter exhaustion. On the subject of the French riots, be sure to read Theodore Dalrymple’s excellent article from City Journal in Autumn 2002 -- “The Barbarians at the Gates of Paris” (only recently brought to my attention) – which may be found via Real Clear Politics (link in the sidebar) or here.

Also worth reading: Carlos Alberto Montaner’s excellent little piece in Real Clear Politics on the silly Summit of the Americas. “Anti-Americanism Has Become Ideology.” The money quotes: “The Left today is nothing but circus and street violence” and “Latin America is the continent of the future and always will be.” You can find that one here.
Finally, go to Rush Limbaugh's site and check out the idea Rush has for President Saddam's legal defense team. Saddam's lawyers need to put Rush on the payroll, pronto. Rush has a whole speech written, built around the theme: "Bush lied and I want my country back !"

Elections today all over the US. To El Jefe the most interesting contest today involves the fate of four proposals by California Governor Ahhh…nold Schwarzenegger, in particular a campaign finance provision that would prevent labor unions from automatically using member dues for political activities unless they have the member’s consent; and another proposal limiting State spending.
Governor Schwarznegger’s proposals seem wise to me, and I assume the merit of them would be readily apparent to anybody who is not a raving lunatic. Evidently, not to the voters of nearly broke California – the Governor’s whole package seems headed for defeat. If I were the Governor, I’d resign if this happened. You can’t help drowning people who won’t swim.

Monday, November 7, 2005

Asprins for Cancer, Paying Danegeld

Despite riots in cities all over France, the best the government can come up with is curfews twelve days after they started, and the belated mobilization of 1,500 police reservists, to reinforce 8,000 or so police, Gendarmes, and CRS (the Compagnies Républicaines de Sécurité -- riot police). No, wait, the cabinet is going to consider the curfew measure Tuesday. Meanwhile, while the clerks arrange the fountain pens in the cabinet room and order the refreshments, 1,400 vehicles were torched Monday night. Asked whether the Army should reinforce the hard-pressed police, Prime Minister deVillespin says that "we are not at that point."

King Jacques Chirac XVI, from his throne-room in the Elysee Palace, says the chaos is all society's fault, that the poor Muslims are running riot because France "has not done everything possible for these youths, supported them so they feel understood, heard and respected." Evidently the "youths" (can't say Muslim, now can we ?) are all too audible at present to the Government of the French Republic. Prime Minister deVillepin is promising that a $35 billion re-development plan for the inner cities will be sped up, along with jobs and training programs, plus merit scholarships.

What planet are these people on ? We're going into the twelfth night of riots in 275 or so towns and cities all over France. The cops are being fired on. They -- and their comrades in the sapeurs-pompiers (the fire department) -- have to be completely exhausted. The government should have used the Army to back up the police and give them some rest a week ago. Meanwhile, you've got the President saying the rioters have legitimate grievances, and the Prime Minister offering to pay them $35 billion and give the scumbags jobs and scholarships. Gee, what will the rioters get if they burn down all Paris ? Keys to Versailles, free cars, a year's free wine and all-expenses-paid vacations ?

What will King Jacques and his idiot Prime Minister do when the police stop showing up for work, and in this and other ways begin demonstrating a lack of interest in risking maiming and death on behalf of politicians willing to pay off the people shooting and stoning them ? The forces of order have been working at riot control for coming up on two weeks, without thanks, relief or much success, and the breaking point has to be approaching pretty quick. When the police crack, there will be nothing left but to hand the whole job to the Army -- and however good the soldiers might be at backing up the police, I beg leave to wonder how good they'll be replacing them entirely. It's going to be a bloody mess, but King Jacques better hope the troops are willing to shoot.

Every night this goes on, the credibility of the mainstream politicians in France is diminished. This applies to Gaullists as well as Socialists. The French elite is committing suicide. Jacques Chirac and Dominique de Villepin are handing France over to LePen and to the National Front.

Sunday, November 6, 2005

The French Riots

Be sure to read the always prescient and often funny Mark Steyn's very un-funny piece in the Chicago Sun Times today about the opening of the "Eurabian" civil war in France. Among other things, Mr. Steyn points out what a joke it is that the mainstream press keeps calling the rioting scum "French youths." Yeah, right. As Mr. Steyn tells us, the rioters may be technically citizens of the French Republic, but the cars aren't being torched by "Pierre and Jacques and Marcel and Alphonse" out for a night's burning and looting before heading to church.
The French identity has always been one size fits all, something about the French political worldview that I have always deeply admired. The French have absolutely refused to promote "multiculturalism" in the American sense. Instead, the French have always believed in "republican integration" -- when Abdul or Mohammad or whoever go to school in France, they do not receive the happy talk or education in "diversity" that passes for historical education in the United States today. They learn about the Gauls, Joan of Arc, Napoleon and deGaulle. In the eyes of the law, there are no distinctions between Abdul and Pierre.

But the French have let themselves down. Another component of the French approach to the world, since the suppression of the Commune in 1871, has always been "republican legality," which, among other things, includes a complete refusal to counternance violent troublemakers of any kind, for any reason. However, this has been slipping of late. As Mr. Steyn points out: "For half a decade, French Arabs have been carrying on a low-level intifada against synagogues, kosher butchers, Jewish schools, etc. The concern of the political class has been to prevent the spread of these attacks to targets of more, ah, general interest. They seem to have lost that battle." Boy and how ! Mr. Steyn describes these rioters firing on the Gendarmerie, burning down buildings and disrupting commuter trains. We've seen the photographs of torched cars all over our newspapers. Meanwhile, President Chirac, presumably from a padded cell, calls for a "spirit of dialogue and respect."
What could be more illuminating ? Scumbag rioters are shooting at your police and you're calling for "dialogue and respect ?" The reason police are being fired at and buildings burned is because the French have refused to respond to Mr. Steyn's "low level intifada." No wonder the rioters have complete contempt for the government. If I were Chirac, the only calling I'd be doing would be to the police and army barracks to order the issuance of live ammunition. We could talk about "dialogue and respect" when the rioters were dead or jailed.
"Weakness and forbearance" when confronted with violence, yet again. (See last post). The French might as well just skip "multiculturalism" and go straight to state subsidized mosques, the shariah and compulsory veils for women. "Republican integration" will not work without "republican legality" -- without strict law and order. The French are now in a battle, and not in a situation calling for "dialogue and respect." Are they going to fight, or not ?
ADDENDUM: (Sunday p.m.). The present state of affairs in France, in general, makes me want to weep. I've been a Francophile all my life. This is la grande nation ? DeGaulle, Napoleon I, Napoleon III, Louis XIV, Gambetta, Clemenceau, St. Joan, Joffre, Foch, Petain (the WWI version) -- all spinning in their graves. To think the response to the present crisis is by the Gaullist party -- what passes for a right wing in mainstream French politics. Are they not still the men of Austerlitz ? The French were the people who survived Verdun and won the First World War ?

Saturday, November 5, 2005

Restless Rabble and Futile Trips

He was amazed by so much weakness and forbearance. And when the King showed himself at one of the windows overlooking the garden wearing the red cap that a commoner had put on him, Buonaparte's indignation knew no bounds "Che coglione ! Why did they ever let that rabble in ? They should have blasted four or five hundred with cannon and the rest would have taken to their heels. . . If I were king things like that would not happen."

L.A.F. deBourrienne, sometime private secretary to and friend of Napoleon I on Napoleon's comments on Louis XVI's reaction to the revolutionary mob that stormed his palace.

President Bush is in Mar del Plata, Argentina, for the “Summit of the Americas.” Precisely why our President has hied himself off to Argentina is anybody's guess. Multilateral summits in Latin America, where the leadership class despises us, are of no utility to us whatever. For some reason, President Bush wishes to breathe the same air as mobs of scummy rioters and the politicians of a continent that never fails to applaud a statist solution to any economic problem.
The leftists, led by Moonbat Chavez, are busy doing their usual lefty thing, skipping baths, burning and pillaging, and swilling themselves senseless. Just like the rabble rioting all over France whom French Interior Minister Nicolas Sarkozy rightly called scum. (An aside: poor Prime Minister deVillepin is clearly cut more from the cloth of Louis XVI, than from Napoleon I, whom he professes to admire: deVillepin rebuked the Interior Minister for his comment). M. deVillepin and the President of Argentina need to call in their generals and put an end to the nonsense.
Meanwhile, I return to my original question. Why is our President in Argentina ? I wish President Bush would go to Baghdad, where he is needed and would be welcomed, and visit the troops. Let him take satchels of medals and promotions and visit the troops all over the country. Spend a week there. Yes, the security poodles would get heart palpitations, but one of the privileges of being President is the power to tell them to shut up. The President is commander in chief and should act like it. A visit to the soldiers in the field would be good for the military's morale, and for his own. No lawyers or idiot lobbyists, yammering lefties, or statesmen who say yes and mean no: just serious young people doing necessary work for which they don't get near enough credit.
Fire up Air Force One, Mr. President, and leave that place. Go do something useful.

Thursday, November 3, 2005

Moonbat Watch: Jimmy Carter and Iraq

Former US President Jimmy Carter added his penny's worth of comment to the chorus of Left wing criticism of the war in Iraq, calling the Second Gulf War "ill-advised and unjust and unnecessary."

"Ill-advised" and "unnecessary" are certainly debatable and defensible positions on the American effort in Iraq. I happen to completely disagree with former President Carter on both counts, but these positions can be respectably argued, preferably after the war's conclusion.

But unjust ?

A little truth in blogging here. El Jefe doesn't bother with all the hair-splitting of "just war" theory. St. Augustine and others have had plenty to say on this subject, all very erudite and well-considered. Whatever. Like the Romans of the Republican era, El Jefe considers a "just war" any war we happen to be in, no matter who starts it, no matter what it's about; and that the only moral conclusion to war is with our complete victory, and the enemy's destruction or submission, however long it takes and whatever it costs.

I'm fully aware others do not subscribe to this view, but how in the world can our liberation of Iraq be "unjust" even to President Carter ? What does he want ? "Bush lied and thousands died !" the liberals bleat. Would President Carter, Senator Kennedy and Ms. Sheehan be happy if we just pulled out the troops and leave anarchy behind ? Reward the suicide bombers and civilian-beheaders ? How many thousands, who have joined the new Iraqi Army, voted in elections, or supported the new government, will die then ?

The liberals clearly pine for the re-enactment of their finest hour, the American abandonment, at their behest, of South Vietnam. The bloodbath that followed that debacle was no concern of theirs. What would St. Augustine, or anybody privileged to be born in normal times before the world media or the existence of the modern internationalized, deracinated chattering classes, make of a craven, dirty crew who long for the defeat of their own country ?

Maybe we should just let Saddam out of his cell and make him dictator again, so he can go back to throwing people beneath wood-chip cutters.

Wednesday, November 2, 2005

Iranian Front

We have a strategy drawn up for the destruction of Anglo-Saxon civilization and for the uprooting of the Americans and the English. The global infidel front is a front against Allah and the Muslims, and we must make use of everything we have at hand to strike at this front by means of our suicide operations or by means of our missiles. There are 29 sensitive sites in the U.S. and in the West. We have already spied on these sites and we know how we are going to attack them.

Hassan Abbassi, Chief of External National Security Planning for the Revolutionary Guards Corps; advisor to Iranian President Mahmud Ahmadinejad, and to Iranian “Supreme Guide” Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, May 2004.

Friends, the mullah regime in Iran not only wants a bomb, it wants to bomb our country flat, wreck our world order and drink our blood. Have a look at the Baron's recent post on this subject over at Gates of Vienna, here; Doctor Zin's post over at Regime Change Iran, here; and, Michael Ledeen at National Review Online here. Read up, also, on so-called President Ahmadinejad's speech at the World Anti-Zionism conference, and check out that body's chilling poster (at Regime Change Iran), and the revolting conference website (I'll leave you to look that one up on your own).

These people are not kidding around, but this shouldn't be a surprise if you've been paying attention. The Iranian regime is squandering its oil revenues arming to the teeth as fast as it can; it is providing aid, comfort and shelter to wanted Al Qaeda terrorists, and it is killing US and Iraqi soldiers in Iraq.

The two things the mullah regime has going for it is the seeming refusal of most of the American public, much less that of Europe, to take its pretentions seriously; and the sometimes overt, mostly covert wish-dream of the elites of much of the rest of the world for a planet without the pesky Americans, their money and their military around to be so constantly bossy.

The problem is not Iranian nuclear weapons. Iran is going to have nuclear weapons, one way or another. It is rich enough to afford them, has or can build the technological base to construct them, and all factions in the country want them for reasons of prestige. The problem is that Iran is presently led by barbarians who are dangerous both to their own people, to their region, and to the whole world. Such a regime cannot be allowed to acquire nuclear weapons. The solution is to bring down the regime.

This is possible, I think, without the use of US troops. The regime has a narrow domestic base, and serious economic problems, not to mention regional enemies. I have some definite ideas on how to give the criminals in Tehran a good push, about which I will have more to say soon.

Tuesday, November 1, 2005

Operational Pause

All sorts of things going on, some of them personal. Not feeling much up to blogging at present -- a focus issue. Will resume again when this changes, hopefully soon.

Thursday, October 27, 2005


I am a wargamer, have been for years. Just at the moment, I am setting up a giant Eastern Front World War I game (Germany and Austria-Hungary against Tsarist Russia). For the past several days in my hideaway office upstairs at home, I have been deploying the Imperial Russian armies, all over the huge map of the eastern Ukraine, Poland, and what is now the Baltic States and Belarus; hard on the borders of East Prussia and Austrian Galicia and the Bukovina. Quite a massive deployment, and impressive to see set out on the maps. All told, about 75 infantry and cavalry divisions, with supports and other troops coming up, (26 or so against Germany, 49 against Austria). Dwarfed by similar deployments in World War II, and later offensives in World War I of course, but no-doubt enormous for the Russian, German and Austrian officers involved, all brought up studying 19th Century wars.

I got interested in this hobby, and military history generally, I think because I enjoy geography and maps. I have always had a particular interest in the Eastern Front of World War I: a largely forgotten conflict.

It was here, in the then sleepy back-country of Eastern Europe, amid swamps, dust and poverty, from Minsk to Berlin; that the modern world was born. From 1914-1918, the great Austrian, German and Russian empires, along with the whole, laboriously built-up European state and colonial system, collectively committed suicide here; and civilization, in a sense, ended. All the crackpots and murderers of the modern age: Communists, Nazis, assorted left and right populists, Third World tinpot nationalists, Islamic religious fanatics -- all acquired their political opening right here. The cauldron brewed here threw up the repulsive nihilism of so much of what passes for culture today. On this same bloody ground, most of the Holocaust happened.

Lots of food for thought, but just at the moment, I find myself wondering what the people who worked with the original maps – in particular the Russian General Staff officers -- thought of it all, while mobilization and deployment went forward in late July-early August 1914. Setting up their own headquarters, watching the symbols appear on the maps, passing on their drives or rides to the various field headquarters the long, dusty columns snaking down the dirt roads and tracks of Poland from the railroad sidings? The clank of tons of equipment; the overpowering smell of horses, unwashed men, their wastes, gun-oil, the smell of the field-kitchens and cook-fires; burning eyes from the clouds of dust; the curses and blows of the sergeants; the wheep of the horsewhips; the inevitable confusion of transition from peacetime garrison to movements in the field; the wondering whether all the bustle was yet another Balkan crisis that would pass, or the real thing.

I am sure it all looked quite impressive on the maps, but given the normal conditions in the Imperial Russian Army, was certainly quite a mess in practice. I wonder if it occurred to any of the generals, or any of the bright whipper-snappers on the staff, watching the symbols go up on the big maps, that they were witnessing the apocalypse made flesh, the murder-suicide of their world ? What an utterly stupid and useless waste.