Thursday, November 30, 2006
Wednesday, November 29, 2006
Tuesday, November 28, 2006
Seriously, the Jefe is still trying to catch up on a backlog of work, so posting is apt to be light today and possibly tomorrow. In the meantime, go over to Real Clear Politics and have a look at Tom Bevan’s post on his blog “The Stakes in Iraq.” Mr. Bevan discussed a recent lecture by Dr. Robert O'Neill, the former Director of the International Institute for Strategic Studies in London.
Professor O’Neill is the former Chichele Professor of the History of War at Oxford. In any case, the Professor’s lecture on “Prospects and Perspectives on International Security,” delivered at the Lowy Institute in Australia, had lots to say on Iraq. The lecture is nine pages, and worth printing out and reading in full (you can find a link on Mr. Bevan’s page and here), but here’s the money quote on Iraq:
Given the result of the recent US elections, we need to think hard about the consequences of possible defeat in Iraq. To elaborate on what I said earlier, that conflict can be won only by a much more effective coalition effort, requiring a major increase in US and allied troop numbers in Iraq, substantial improvements in training and operational methods, and a much stronger civil reconstruction effort. This is not likely to happen. The probable outcomes are either a sudden descent into chaos as coalition forces are withdrawn, or a protracted civil war, overlain with an insurgency against remaining coalition forces.
In the event of chaos, effective government in Iraq will cease for at least some years, during which terrorist groups will be able to concentrate, rebuild, flourish and reach out to other targets outside Iraq. Enemy forces will be heartened; recruiting will rise; funds and weapons will pour in; pressure will be exerted on regional governments friendly to the West; more young men and women who are willing to commit suicide to harm Western and Israeli interests will become available; and the oil price will rise to new heights.
Defeat in Iraq will be a serious blow to the public standing of the US and will invite other challenges to its authority. US citizens will have to be more careful of their own security both outside and inside their own country. US business abroad will feel more under threat of terrorist action.
I am amazed to the degree which Americans both want to, and think that it is possible to return the national focus to primarily domestic concerns, such as the minimum wage, pollution, income inequality, fighting over judges and gay marriage. The recent congressional election results appears to me to have not only been a vote against the war (which has at the least been poorly managed), but expressive of a tremendous public desire to return to the 90’s and tell the outside world to go hang itself. Unfortunately, the real world is going to come knocking.
Monday, November 27, 2006
In any case, I'm more "optimistic" than that, at least on the subject of stopping terrorism. I don't know if we're going to win in Iraq, but I have no doubt over our ability to prevail over violence and threats to public order here and abroad, and over all our enemies once we've decided we want to.
Look up Col. Ralph Peters article from the Sunday New York Post "The Eurabia Myth." (available on Real Clear Politics). The money quote:
As the Real Clear Politics headline put it, in the European context – before matters are done, Europe's Muslims will be lucky just to be deported. Col. Peters does not seem to think such a reaction is as likely here in the United States (although his article speaks more to current demographic trends in Europe). I’m not so sure. People both here and in Europe will demand physical security, and if they don't get it, they will find leaders who will give it to them, by whatever means are necessary.
Don't let Europe's current round of playing pacifist dress-up fool you: This is the continent that perfected genocide and ethnic cleansing, the happy-go-lucky slice of humanity that brought us such recent hits as the Holocaust and Srebrenica.
The historical patterns are clear: When Europeans feel sufficiently threatened - even when the threat's concocted nonsense - they don't just react, they over-react with stunning ferocity. One of their more-humane (and frequently employed) techniques has been ethnic cleansing.
And Europeans won't even need to re-write "The Protocols of the Elders of Zion" with an Islamist theme - real Muslims zealots provide Europe's bigots with all the propaganda they need. Al Qaeda and its wannabe fans are the worst thing that could have happened to Europe's Muslims. Europe hasn't broken free of its historical addictions - we're going to see Europe's history reprised on meth.
Terrorism (operationally defined here as, non-state actor, or covert-state actor violence directed at civilians), is going to be stopped, one way or another. . .
Whether liberal institutions (I mean "liberal" in the political science sense), are going to survive in the short run, I beg leave to doubt. I don't think we can have a planet that's half liberal First World and Half Bomberstan/Upper Volta with nukes or oil money, along with world wide mobility thrown in -- that can function without unpleasant controls in place. How do you keep em down on the farm once they've seen Paris, or, as some would call it, Babylon ?
If we aren't going to subjugate the Bomberstans, and we can't convert them (as we've tried to do in Iraq), we're left with domestic controls over everything in the name of self protection; sealing these places off from the civilized world (and somehow still getting oil); or the glass pavement option. (BTW, as others have argued -- Wretchard at Belmont Club has a good post on it called the "Three Conjectures") -- WMD's are going to hurt the jihadists much worse than us.
Either way, whatever the silly liberals, progressives, or whatever they call themselves this week think, it's going to be a hard few decades for the spiritual heirs of Thomas Jefferson. However, stock in the ideas of Thomas Hobbes and Machiavelli is a buy.
Wednesday, November 22, 2006
Monday, November 20, 2006
When the Boss of All Bosses, the Great and Dear Leader, the Big Cahuna, the Capo di Tutti Capi, the Duce, ain’t happy, nobody’s happy. (“Write that down, aide !” El Jefe bellows.)
SWMBO and the Heir, along with High Patronesses (cats MILO, FLINKY and SHINY) are off for the country today, but El Jefe has to stay in town for a couple of days, to work. For company the Great One is limited to only his loyal Goomba guards, the millions of fanatically loyal workers and peasants, his gorgeous mistresses, the mullahs and archbishops, the arch and minor bureaucrats, an insignificant Senator or hundred, sundry defense contractors, a bottle of Jameson’s, and its friend the Stoli bottle, and all the usual hangers-on. Not even the usual games in the Ciudad El Jefe colosseum (modestly named the El Jefe Arena) are of interest – El Jefe watching distractedly, laurel crown and toga askew, gulping down an occasional Cosmo while voting thumbs down to throw the gladiators to the lions.
Seriously, hope everybody is having or is going to have a good week. Posting will be somewhat anemic.
Sunday, November 19, 2006
Saturday, November 18, 2006
Friday, November 17, 2006
Okay, lets do some calculating. On the plus side, this is a triumph for rationality: Representative Hoyer is much more centrist than John Murtha was likely to be. Consequently, passing up Murtha for Hoyer will get the “surrender now” crowd hopping mad – which is never a bad thing. Also, Pelosi has been dented a little: she made a very public bid to secure the Majority Whip slot for Murtha and it cratered.
On the other hand, it indicates the Democratic majority in the House is going to at least try to stay center-left for awhile, which is a definite mixed bag. Somewhat better in the short run for the country, certainly, but more problematic all round in the long term. Clinton’s last six years show the bleak possibilities for Republicans and conservatives if the New Democrats and the Blue Dog Democrats are careful, stay together, keep the far left "progressive" loonies in line, and thus refrain from ruining themselves.
Fortunately, President Bush can do well with this political problem by doing good for the country. Can you guess how ? More on that another time.
Thursday, November 16, 2006
We face a stark choice now. We can either maintain bases and large forces in Iraq, or we can withdraw. If we withdraw, the Iraqi Army will collapse, and we will not be able to help it except by re-entering the country in large numbers and in a much worse situation. Attempts to mask this situation with military nonsensical solutions are dangerous. They will lead to higher US casualties or to defeat - and quite possibly to both.
And I see that Nancy Pelosi is backing a nice slate of "Blue Dogs" in the House for leadership. Looks like Alcee "Impeach This" Hastings is going to lead the House "Intelligence" Committee. Henry "Canyons for Nostrils" Waxman claims he doesn't know where to start first in investigating various government abuses. And John "ABSCAM" Murtha (who says his opponents are "Swift Boating" him, aka effectively telling the truth about his past) is going to fight that wascally ol' Wepublican culture of corruption as the new Majority Leader.If these professional crooks are the answer, what is the question?
Wednesday, November 15, 2006
Tuesday, November 14, 2006
Rick Blaine: How can you close me up? On what grounds?
Captain Renault: I'm shocked, shocked to find that gambling is going on in here!
Casablanca (1942) (Humphrey Bogart as “Rick Blaine” Claude Rains as “Captain Renault.”)
Iranian Stop-and-Go clerk/President Mahmoud “Mad Jad” Ahmadinejad says Iran is soon going to “celebrate” completion of its nuclear fuel program, and the international community is “ready to accept” Iran as a nuclear state. Personally, I’d be a whole lot readier to accept Mad Jad in handcuffs in Evin Prison, awaiting the Islamic justice his government deals out to so many others No doubt Mad’s celebration party will have glow in the dark party bling for the guests. Will he invite Nancy Pelosi ?
The Hamdan decision, tried, among other things, to extend the provisions of Common Article 3 of the Geneva Conventions to al Qaeda and Taliban detainees –overturning generally understood interpretations of international law that have always held that that the Geneva conventions do not cover terrorists, who are not signatories to the conventions, or otherwise lawful combatants. The 5-4 majority on the Supreme Court essentially bought into the NGO/international lawyer lobby line of argument that sought to privilege non-state actors such as terrorists and “liberation movements” – and put them on the same level as nation states.
Mr. Fein blandly tells us that the “Constitution celebrates freedom and due process as the norm” and that Congress, in adopting the Military Commissions Act, did not engage in “any demonstration that applying customary legal rules to suspected international terrorists to safeguard against executive error or injustices. . .would threaten national security or the safety of America.”
Beg pardon sir, but the Congress is not required to engage in such a “demonstration” because the “customary” legal rules you are talking about do not apply to unlawful combatants. The Left is essentially denying that there is any such category -- that persons captured in arms against the United States or other countries are ipso facto prisoners of war. Well, there might be exceptions – I suppose the Left would have a fit if we captured right-wing terrorists and gave them the due process the Lefties are demanding for their precious Islamic nutjob terrorists.
Mr. Fein’s shopping list is not complete. In addition to the Military Commissions Act – he wants Mrs. Pelosi and her Leftist friends to start “. . .using the power of the purse to terminate the National Security Agency’s warrantless spying program.” But this is not all:
Mrs. Pelosi should also urge revision of the state secrets privilege. It denies justice to victims of constitutional violations if proof of their claims would require disclosure of classified information, for example a conspiracy to torture hatched between United States and foreign intelligence officials.
Fortunately, there is not a prayer of any of this happening, and if the Donkeys are this stupid (oh, we can only hope) to make their stand on the basis of civil rights for scumbag spies and foreign terrorists…both the filibuster and the veto pen are waiting.
Why don’t we just let Osama and Hamas sue in American courts ? Just go ahead and prostitute the Constitution, and American citizenship and make our rights apply to everybody, everywhere. The Left thinks there is no difference whatever between American citizens and the meanest peasant in Pakistan. As for secrets, clearly, to all Right Thinking people, especially at big universities or Leftie kaffee klatches, Rule of Law trumps trivalities such as national defense or foreign intelligence.
Sunday, November 12, 2006
Saturday, November 11, 2006
Siegfried Sassoon “Aftermath, March 1919.”
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.
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.
(an annual post)
When you go home,
Tell them of us and say,
For your tomorrow,
We gave our today.
Inscription, British War Memorial, Kohima, India.(attributed to John Maxwell Edmonds, Times Literary Supplement[London], 4 July 1918)
Friday, November 10, 2006
The Bush Administration prepared to fight a Beltway war for Pentagon modernization, not a global, multi-dimensional war. Rumsfeld loaded up with sophisticated Beltway Clerks like Paul Wolfowitz, etc — excellent choices for fighting Congress. 9/11 blindsided these best laid plans. Rumsfeld needed to clean house of the clerks and bring in warfighters.
I question the degree to which this could have been different, because I think that as a people our leadership is psychologically unready to do what it takes to win. As Ralph Peters (quoted in part by Colonel Bay) said:
In the bizarre political confusion of our times, with old party characterizations nearly meaningless, one crucial factor that shaped the Iraq effort went unnoticed: Neither party understands warfare, and neither party wants to.
Political correctness shaped the Bush administration's approach to military operations as decisively as it did the Clinton administration's pop-gun antics. The Bush bunch just did things on a larger scale - they wanted a war, but didn't want to hurt anybody.
No matter how many troops we send, we're bound to fail if the troops aren't allowed to fight. . .
(emphasis in underline in original as italics)
Wednesday, November 8, 2006
First, and most importantly, the US must carry on with the war. We cannot abandon the Iraqis as we did the South Vietnamese in 1974-1975. Following our withdrawal in 1972, the Democrats in Congress shamefully cut off aid and support for the Republic of Vietnam, and abandoned that country to its Soviet and Chinese backed enemies. We MUST not let that happen again.
Tuesday, November 7, 2006
Monday, November 6, 2006
His Former Excellency begged the guards not to bend his arms as he rose to hear sentence pronounced.
National Review Online pretty much covers the waterfront on What it All Means, and you can read that if you’re so inclined. As I have argued elsewhere, once Saddam dances on air, the US has accomplished one of its principal war aims. Take note Messrs Kim, Mad Jad and others.
Maybe not, polling over the last twenty-four hours has gotten a little more optimistic from the point of view of sanity – that is, from that of people who don’t want “Speaker Pelosi” or who don’t think that Teddy Kennedy having serious input on Iraq policy is such a good idea. But the Left is busy lining up the drink order, and warming up the band, because their pundits are thinking that we’re bought and sold.
Here's a link to a column that appears in today's online edition of the Boston Globe, by Mr. James Carroll. This column needs to be read by as many people as possible, as it shows, with complete honesty, what the Left in this country thinks about the present war; what it will do with political power when it gets it; and, that the Left really thinks that the only kind of slip Senator Kerry made awhile back was of a Freudian nature.
As Mr. Carroll rightly says, the “…war in Iraq has emerged as a key issue in tomorrow’s election.” Do tell, Mr. Carroll ? The hour may have struck at last for enemies of "American imperialism" (my quotes, not Mr. Carroll's) as it did in 1972. But in 1972, we Americans just didn't face up to the horror of our moral position, and accept defeat:
The goal of "peace with honor" assumes that the nation's honor has not already been squandered. During Vietnam, for all the widespread opposition to the war, the American public was never ready to face the full truth of what had been done in its name, and so the martial band played on. . .The war ended not with a bang, but with a whimper, with the United States whining that somehow it had been the victim. . .
. . .If the Democrats take power with the elections tomorrow, congressional hearings will have a lot of such questions to consider. But what about the moral question ? For all of the anguish felt over the loss of American lives, can we acknowledge that there is something proper in the way that hubristic American power has been thwarted ? Can we admit that the loss of honor will not come with how the war ends, because we lost our honor when we began it ? This time, can we accept defeat ?
Mr. Carroll, to his credit, is not obfuscating here: he’s saying that the defeat of our war effort in Iraq will be a GOOD thing. Gotta get rid of that “hubristic American power.”
Read the whole thing. I hope you'll consider this when you vote tomorrow. Pass the link on...as many people as possible need to know what Mr. Carroll thinks.
Saturday, November 4, 2006
Friday, November 3, 2006
Yet about the war, America remains divided and conflicted. For the roaring Republican reception to Bush's calls for "victory" testifies to another truth. While most Americans wish we had never gone in and want out, America does not want to lose the war as we lost Vietnam.Neither party knows a way to accomplish what America wants: to leave Iraq without losing the war. And the reason neither party knows how to do it is because it cannot be done. Like a patient suffering from cancer, we want an end to the "chemo" -- the awful news daily coming out of Iraq -- but we do not want the consequences.
If the Democrats win the House by a large margin, media commentary will call it a "repudiation" of the administration's policies in Iraq. . . but it's not at all clear this is the message voters want to send.A closer look at the Times Oct. 27-31 poll is revealing on this count: 55% favor sending more troops to Iraq; 51% say the U.S. "will have lost" if it pulls out now; 62% think the U.S. will have to remain in Iraq beyond two years; 59% say neither side is winning; a majority, 52%, think the U.S. is likely to succeed there. . .There is more ambiguity--and common sense--out there than imagined. Enough ambiguity that come the moment of choosing a course Tuesday, voters may give the Democrats less than they expect.. . .I think the Joe Lieberman race remains a bellwether. Sen. Lieberman's politics represented a Democratic bridge to the president's war on terror. Stampeded by their party's Web-based left, the Democratic Party elders went to Connecticut and blew up the Lieberman bridge. My reading of the electorate is that it wants that bridge rebuilt and it wants both the Democrats and George Bush on it. . .
Thursday, November 2, 2006
Wednesday, November 1, 2006
. . .even though the repubs have more senators in the chamber i've always had the impression that reid is the majority leader AND the one who sets the agenda. yes i know, he isn't and does not.
But to a degree, Reid is, and does. Quite aside from the whole issue of "RINOs" -- Republicans in Name Only", part of the reason the Republicans are in such a fix is that although they have paper majorities in Congress, and control the White House, they are by no stretch of the imagination the “governing party” of this country, and are to some degree almost an occupying force in Washington.
The Democrats are a governing party – they represent the interests of the professional bureaucracy; the teachers unions; academia; the plaintiff’s bar; the whole complex of social workers and other helping professions; big media and Hollywood; the unions; plenty of big time money (particularly on the East Coast). All these groups include lots and lots of people who do very well, thank you, but, like David Brooks's BoBo's, vote Democrat as sort of a totem – to satisfy themselves that although they make big money and send their kids to private schools, they still have enough of a social conscience to vote Democrat. The Democrats, in short, own Washington and the big coastal cities.
The Republicans by comparison, are the nerd party of flyover country. Bush is a perfect foil for the Democrats – to them he's a stiff from Texas who is retro, pro-military, mangles his syntax, doesn't read the New York Times, and goes to church. Ever since this guy came in – the Democrats, who KNOW they should run everything, have been completely locked out of power by a crowd the Democrats think of as philistine uneducated poseurs from Nowheresville. The Democrats have a lot of cultural and political assets – but they have control of NO federal elective lever of power – and have to rely on the media and the courts to protect their agenda.
No wonder the Left yells so loud about dictatorship and “Bushitler.” They’ve been excluded and ignored. It’s not dictatorship, of course – what they’ve really been demanding is something like John Calhoun tried to claim for Southerners with his “concurrent majority” theory – since the Lefties represent 40 odd percent of the country, Lefties think they have a right to have their wishes consulted, to some degree -- a species of “bipartisanship.”
But the Republicans have ruled completely without the consent of the Left opinion-makers: over their heads, around them, ignored them. Bush has been able to accomplish this because he had the votes, but also because of the war; by leveraging the power of the Presidency; and, by using his ability to make news. The Democrats ignored Republicans in similar fashion for years – but the Republicans don’t have the chattering classes on-side to the degree that Democrats do.
There is a price to be paid for using majority power without corresponding supporting institutions. “Strategery” and maneuvering works for only so long. How much agenda setting can the “majority” Republicans do with the media, the professional bureaucracy and all the other forces enumerated set against them ?
The conservative movement comes up short because it does not have the supporting forces the Democrats have. Until the Republicans, and conservatives generally, make their own march through the institutions, and acquire more media and chattering class power – majorities will only be of limited use, and vulnerable to being suddenly swept away when things go less than perfectly.