Nat'l Security Archive

Nine Years

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There are remembrances of that awful day nine years ago all over the blogosphere today, as well there should be. Michelle Malkin has a 9/11 collection that deserves to be seen, but if you read only one recollection of that day, you might want to make it Allapundit's Twitter posts from last year, collected by TV's Andy Levy.

There are memorial events going on all day today. If nothing else, turn on your TV.

Me... I'll be starting work in a couple of hours. By the middle of the afternoon I expect I'll be hip-deep in a routing protocol problem, or perhaps diagnosing a router crash, or helping redesign someone's network traffic flow. Or, just possibly, I'll be involved in someone's disaster recovery testing.

And maybe that's a small glimmer of a reflection of a good side of this time and place in history. The country took a severe body blow, and yet we carry on as we have to, as Americans always have.

About that Wikileaks business

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Being known to my relatives and friends as a person with actual experience (albeit many years ago) in the field of military intelligence, I often get asked for my opinion when intel-related matters pop up in the news. Not that my opinion is any more valid than anyone else's, usually, but I do get asked.

First, I'd say that it's hard to imagine an alternate reality in which I could do better than Tunku Varadarajan in describing Wikileaks proprietor Julian Assange.* He concludes:

Unless there is evidence that Assange conspired with employees of the military to procure these leaked materials, there is no scope in the law to take action against him. But let us put the law to one side. Our aversion to Assange and his ways — to his posturing, gaudy psuedo-insurgency — need not be expressed in ways prosecutorial. Let us, instead, shower him with our most basic contempt, and dismiss him as the fraud that he is. WikiLeaks is a brothel of self-promotion, Assange its puffed-up pimp.

I don't think Varadarajan goes far enough. If Wikileaks is acting as a de facto intelligence gathering and dissemination service for al Qaeda and our other enemies — and I think it is — then rather than showering Assange with mere contempt, we ought to consider having a Predator drone shower him with a Hellfire missile.

Assange seems to think he's playing some sort of game. Not so. Real lives are at stake, and he's put many of those lives at risk. He ought to be prepared to pay with his own.

(John Hawkins has similar thoughts.)

The same applies to the "leaker" of the information in question, PFC Bradley Manning. If proven to be the source, then he is no mere "leaker" — he's a traitor.

Article 3, Section 3 of the Constitution sets a properly high bar for Treason:

Treason against the United States, shall consist only in levying War against them, or in adhering to their Enemies, giving them Aid and Comfort. No Person shall be convicted of Treason unless on the Testimony of two Witnesses to the same overt Act, or on Confession in open Court.

The "two witnesses" requirement might be hard to meet; I don't know what would count in this instance. If the charge can be sustained, however, it ought to be pursued.

(See also Mike's views on this at the aptly named Cold Fury.)

Not that I have any confidence in the current administration to do so. The Bush administration was, in my opinion, far too lax in hunting and prosecuting leakers, and I don't see the Obama administration being any better; there are too many "fellow travelers" therein, people who, during the previous administration, would have cheered Manning and Assange, and loudly criticized their prosecution.

There's one caveat to that, of course: Obama has to occasionally appear to be tough to appease his critics, and there's no one he won't discard for the sake of political gain** — the fate of some PFC matters not a whit to him.

Even if it's purely for personal political gain, the Obama administration would be doing the right thing by taking the infowar fight to the enemy.


* One might be forgiven for thinking that "-ange" is, in this case, pronounced "-hole."

** See how I didn't say "throw under the bus" there?

Two-fers

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Terrorist supporter? Check.

Lawyer? Check.

It's like a mélange of evils. And it's going to prison.


Another two-fer, of a different nature, this one via Doug Powers:

[T]oday we have two Vietnams, side by side, North and South, exchanging and working. We may not agree with all that North Vietnam is doing, but they are living in peace.

There is, of course, only one Vietnam now. North Vietnam invaded, conquered and annexed South Vietnam and sent much of its population — those who couldn't flee via boat — to reeducation camps.

To celebrate Sheila Jackson-Lee's ignorance, Vietnam has announced the city of Hue will be renamed "Huh?"

Queried late last night by one of my oldest friends, I banged out a quick response.

Q: Do you agree with this administration's response - or what you consider the response to be?

A: Well, I haven't noticed what the response has actually been. There may have been a response, I just haven't noticed it... or the response was deliberately intended not to be noticed by anyone other than the Norks. And even if there was a public response, I wouldn't be at all certain there wasn't a hidden response at the same time. Layers....

Of course, you may have sussed out that I am no fan of Obama. I think he's completely out of his depth. I just hope the adults are in charge on matters such as this.

If I were POTUS, I would have done something like surge the Pacific sub force to cordon (at a distance - international waters) the North's naval bases - not to actually sink anything (yet) but to let them know we *could* put every single one of their hulls on the sea bed in a matter of minutes, and roast much of their land and air forces (via SLCM) at the same time.

I don't think anyone seriously doubts we have that capability; the question is one of willpower.

Of course, Kim is a lunatic, always has been. The kind you have to handle with kid gloves. Most despots are intensely interested in their own self-preservation; Kim, though... I seriously wonder if he really believes he's impervious, and might act without regard to his own long-term prospects. I have no doubt, though, that like virtually all despots, he'd cheerfully let his country burn if he thought the ends were justified.

To be honest, I've always kind of wondered, after his father died, why the generals didn't immediately off the SOB and take power for themselves. On the other hand, the North is as heavily propagandized and indoctrinated into the cult of personality as anyplace you could imagine - the generals might not survive a *successful* coup. I've seen what the regime feeds its own people on the one state-run TV station. It's utterly appalling.

Memorial Day 2010

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I've not lost any close friends or family in the service of our country, so on this Memorial Day I remember the sacrifices of two men I never met.

• First Lieutenant Jonathan Shine, USA (KIA October, 1970)

• Lieutenant Colonel Anthony Shine, USAF (MIA 1972-1996)

I only know of these two men because, before I enlisted, I was enrolled for two years as an ROTC cadet under the command and tutelage of their brother, Colonel Alexander Shine, USA (Ret.)

Apart from losing both of his brothers, he himself was seriously wounded in Vietnam, and awarded the Silver Star for actions there. Though I have had only a couple of extremely intermittent contacts with the Colonel over the years, he remains one of the finest men it's ever been my privilege to know.

I was dismayed to learn that COL Shine's younger sister, LTC Sarah Cameron Shine, USA, fell to a heart attack last year.

Few families have served so devotedly and sacrificed so much for our country.


COL Shine now leads trips to Europe, touring important WW2 locations. If I were physically able to travel, I'd be saving my pennies to go on one of his tours.



Other Memorial Day posts:

Michelle Malkin » Memorial Day Weekend 2010: Giving thanks for those who made the ultimate sacrifice
Memorial Day Post: The Warriors Among Us - Right Wing News
The Jawa Report: 2010 Memorial Day Remembrance
Cold Fury » Memorial Day, 2010
Flopping Aces Memorial Day Weekend Post
Riehl World View: Memorial Day Weekend
Memorial Day 2010 « Sister Toldjah
The Anchoress | A First Things Blog
BLACKFIVE: Last Missions
BLACKFIVE: Memorial Day - They Sacrificed their tomorrows for us
Mudville Gazette - just read everything there.
Sense of Events: Prayer for Memorial Day
Cassy Fiano » Someone to remember this Memorial Day
Mostly Cajun, All American and Opinionated » Memorials. and Days
Hot Air » Memorial Day: Make them known to your children, and your children's children
Ace of Spades - Memorial day vignettes
Hot Air » The price of freedom
Gateway Pundit
Jammie Wearing Fool

Fail to Nail

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Jon Stewart accidentally commits acts of journalism; the Left howls; Stewart apologizes.

Michelle Malkin has the video and details.

What struck me in Stewart's "clown nose: off" interview of so-called "torture memo" author John Yoo was his apparent inability to understand that there is a broad range of possible legitimate interrogation methods that fall between Miranda on one end of the spectrum and Mengele on the other.

(And for the record, I have no problem with waterboarding as an interrogation method.)


Update: I don't know how I missed it*, but there were more videos comprising the entirety of the interview; all three can be seen at Newsbusters. Yoo really does well as an interviewee.

*Yes, I do. I had an errand to run, so I rushed.

Milblogs Go Silent

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From John at Castle Argghhh!:

On Wednesday 16 December 2009, many milblogs -- including This Ain't Hell, From My Position, Blackfive, Miss Ladybug, Boston Maggie, Grim's Hall, Bouhammer, and those participating in the Wednesday Hero program -- are going silent for the day. Some are choosing to go silent for a longer period of time.

The reason for this is two-fold. First, milblogs are facing an increasingly hostile environment from within the military. While senior leadership has embraced blogging and social media, many field grade officers and senior NCOs do not embrace the concept. From general apathy in not wanting to deal with the issue to outright hostility to it, many commands are not only failing to support such activities, but are aggressively acting against active duty milbloggers, milspouses, and others. The number of such incidents appears to be growing, with milbloggers receiving reprimands, verbal and written, not only for their activities but those of spouses and supporters.

The catalyst has been the treatment of milblogger C.J. Grisham of A Soldier's Perspective (http://www.soldiersperspective.us/). C.J. has earned accolades and respect, from the White House on down for his honest, and sometimes blunt, discussion of issues -- particularly PTSD. In the last few months, C.J. has seen an issue with a local school taken to his command who failed to back him, and has even seen his effort to deal with PTSD, and lead his men in same by example, used against him as a part of this. Ultimately, C.J. has had to sell his blog to help raise funds for his defense in this matter.

An excellent story on the situation with C.J. can be found at Military Times by clicking here.

While there have been new developments, the core problem remains, and C.J. is having to raise funds to cover legal expenses to protect both his good name and his career.

One need only look at the number of blogs by active duty military in combat zones and compare it to just a few years ago to see the chilling effect that is taking place.

Milblogs have been a vital link in getting accurate news and information about the military, and military operations, to the public. They have provided vital context and analysis on issues critical to operations and to the informed electorate critical to the Republic.

On Wednesday 16 December, readers will have the chance to imagine a world without milblogs, and to do something about it. Those participating are urging their readers to contact their elected representatives in Congress, and to let their opinions be known to them and to other leaders in Washington.

Some milblogs will remain silent for several days; some just for the day. All have agreed to keep the post about the silence and C.J. at the top of their blogs until Friday 18 December.

The issues go beyond C.J., and deserve careful consideration and discussion. We hope that you will cover this event, and explore the issues that lie at the heart of the matter. Contact the milbloggers in your area or that you know, and hear the story that lies within.

A Partial List of Participating Blogs:

This Ain't Hell 
Boston Maggie
Blackfive 
Miss Ladybug
Drunken Wisdom
Grim's Hall
Frommyposition
CDR Salamander
Bouhammer

You can donate to CJ's Legal Fund by logging into PayPal, go to the send money page, and put in his email: dj_chcknhawk (AT) yahoo (DOT) com; or, you can send donations directly to:

Grisham Legal Fund
c/o Redstone Federal Credit Union
220 Wynn Drive
Huntsville, AL 35893

Please write "Grisham Legal Fund" in the memo line if you use this option.

Milblogs have been a vital link in getting accurate news and information about the military, and military operations, to you. Today, many milblogs are gone and others are under attack from within and without. Today, you have the chance to imagine a world without milblogs, and to do something about it. Make your voice heard by writing your congressional representatives and others, and by making donations as you see fit.

The battle for freedom of speech and the marketplace of ideas is fought on many fronts and in many ways. Without your help, the battle may well be lost.

Dig deep.

Today...

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... would be a great day to donate to Project Valour-IT.

Veterans Day

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Though it's been almost 20 years since the end of my time in uniform, I still think those were the best years of my life so far.

There have been a lot of changes in the intervening years, but as the report below shows, not everything has changed since I became a civilian.

To all who wear the uniform and serve to keep us free: my most hearfelt thanks.

Never Forget

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Never, never, never.

Interesting post at Volokh Conspiracy about the legality of assassinating terrorists, in light of the recently revealed (but never implemented) CIA operation to do so.

As the author notes,

First, I'm delighted, of course, that the CIA post 9-11 was formulating plans to try and kill Al Qaeda leaders wherever they might be; if they weren't, I would certainly have a big question about what exactly the CIA value-added to national security is.

It seems to me, though, that if there is a legal problem with efforts to kill terrorists, the fundamental problem is in the law, not in the killing.

(Link found via Instapundit.)

Hocus pocus

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I certainly enjoyed former VP Dick Cheney's speech yesterday. I didn't bother listening to Obama's.

It continues to irk me that Obama would release details about interrogation methods used against captured terrorists, but won't, per Cheney's request, release any information about what results were yielded, what specific terrorist plots were thwarted. Heaven forfend that anyone begin to suspect that our intelligence methods might be effective.

This turns the entire notion of "classification" on its head. One of the very first things they teach everyone in the intelligence business is that things are classified based on sources and methods, not on the results achieved.

The way he's operating, I suspect that if Obama had been president in 1942, he'd have released the details about Magic, but not told the American people about the US victory at Midway.

I'm not entirely convinced that Obama has our best interests in mind.

Shock and boo yah!

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Poor career choice: IED Emplacement Team.

Through an ally's eyes

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Very interesting item about US troops, as seen by one of the French troops serving alongside them in Afghanistan: A Nos Freres d’Armes Americains.

OK, OK, you might not actually read French. My apologies.*

An English translation is here: American troops in Afghanistan through the eyes of a French OMLT infantryman.

Here we discover America as it is often depicted: their values are taken to their paroxysm, often amplified by lack of privacy and the loneliness of this outpost in the middle of that Afghan valley. Honor, motherland — everything here reminds of that: the American flag floating in the wind above the outpost, just like the one on the post parcels. Even if recruits often originate from the hearth of American cities and gang territory, no one here has any goal other than to hold high and proud the star spangled banner.

Quite a nice tribute to our lads over there. Do read the whole thing.


* To be honest, my French is somewhat rusty, it having been close to 30 years since my four years of Mr. Piacentini's classes in high school... one of those intervening years spent at the Defense Language Institute Korean Basic Course, by the conclusion of which I had trouble writing English, much less remembering anything about French, other than that I had once been moderately fluent.

Victory in Iraq

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By every measure, The United States and coalition forces have conclusively defeated all enemies in Iraq, pacified the country, deposed the previous regime, successfully helped to establish a new functioning democratic government, and suppressed any lingering insurgencies. The war has come to an end. And we won.

What more indication do you need? An announcement from the outgoing Bush administration? It's not gonna happen. An announcement from the incoming Obama administration? That's really not gonna happen. A declaration of victory by the media? Please. Don't make me laugh. A concession of surrender by what few remaining insurgents remain in hiding? Forget about it.

The moment has come to acknowledge the obvious. To overtly declare a fact that has already been true for quite some time now. Let me repeat:

WE WON THE WAR IN IRAQ.

The Iraq War is over. We won.


Of boom sticks and banjos

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I've owned and/or fired one version or another of every rifle that has been standard issue for the US Army since the 1870s. Of all this wide variety of rifles, without a doubt my favorite has been the M1A, the civilian version of the Army's venerable M14 which, as you may already know, was replaced in service by the M16.

In nearly every measure of performance, the M14 was the superior weapon; for accuracy and terminal ballistics, the raisons d'être of a combat rifle, the M14 far outstripped the M16. The only disadvantages commonly cited were that it was heavier and required a heavier ammunition load, chambered as it was in NATO-standard 7.62mm.

The M16, on the other hand, was lighter and allowed the soldier to carry more ammunition — a cynic might say that the higher number of rounds almost made up for their lack of effectiveness — and was favored by the "top-down" weapon procurement policies of the 1960s Department of Defense under McNamera.

"The M16 is to a rifle as the banjo is to a guitar" - Jeff Cooper

The M16 was adopted over the objections of US servicemen and our allies alike; when the Pentagon told our NATO allies that our forces would standardize on the M16's 5.56mm round rather than the 7.62mm, they were decidedly unhappy, having already invested a tidy sum in standardization.

The M16 with its 5.56mm round was sadly lacking in performance (earning it nicknames like "Mattel rifle" and "poodle shooter") and though it had sent a variety of our enemies to Hell over the years, it wasn't really until the introduction of the M16A2 (and a more powerful round, the M855) in the 1980s that the M16 became a reliably effective weapon under most circumstances.

The grand old M14, though, lives on. Though it's not new news, I'm nonetheless pleased to see this article (which prompted me to write today) at Military.com, New Lease on Life for the Beloved M-14.

There's a time and place to say "out with the old and in with the new," but I'm glad to see that our newest generation of warriors has a fondness for the classics.


It's Ammo Day today, by the way.

Veterans Day

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Semper Fi

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Happy 233rd birthday to the United States Marine Corps.

Remembrance

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Comparisons

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It only just occured to me: with my two years as a squad leader in the Army, I have more executive experience than Obama does.

Sarah Palin's years as a decisive mayor and governor — and as a reformer — far outweigh Obama's history of "present" votes (or absenteeism) during his career as part of the — undeniably corrupt — Chicago political machine.

Tactics

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Taliban suicide troops attack US forces in Afghanistan, with predictable results.

Perhaps they should have watched a training video or two:

Boom

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You can keep your 12-gauge shotguns. (I'm certainly keeping mine.)

They don't rate with the Tank Cartridge, 120mm, Canister, XM1028.

Above and beyond

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In the past I had, from time to time, harbored the hope that I might someday return to the Army, despite the back problem that ended my career. Now, of course, I'm too old and thoroughly broken to get back in.

Here's an amazing story of a soldier who refuses to quit, despite horrific injury: Blind Special Forces soldier: determined to serve.

"I am going to push the limits," the 40-year-old said. "I don't want to go to Fort Bragg and show up and sit in an office. I want to work every day and have a mission."
Which raises once again the question: where do we get such men?

I don't know, but I thank God that we do get them.

Any time in the future that I'm tempted to think, because of my disability, how hard it is to do whatever I'm doing, I hope I'll remember Captain Ivan Castro.

(via Hot Air headlines.)

. . . Mike at Cold Fury has used it well enough that I don't have to: "risible."

(Language alert is in effect.)

Death in the "family"

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Korean linguists in the US Army are an extremely rare breed. It's hard just to qualify for the training; even harder to make it through. There were and are very few of us in the service at any given time, and when I was in, we all knew (or knew of) each other.

One of the things I've most regretted since I left the Army all those years ago is that I didn't keep in touch with the others in our small, select fraternity. Recently, however, thanks to the Internet, I've gotten back in contact with a number of my former colleagues.

It's been good, rebuilding those links, and catching up with the news of who is doing what these days, as well as hearing from those who came before and those who followed my time in the service.

Unfortunately, bad news comes along from time to time, too.

I recently learned that one of my fellow squad leaders from Fort Ord days, while serving another tour in Korea, had collapsed and died after a morning PT run. He was a month younger than me. He was a heck of a soldier, and highly regarded by all who served with him.

And this past weekend, one of my former platoon sergeants died suddenly of a heart attack. He'd just gotten married, and was getting ready to go on his honeymoon trip this week. He was only a few years older than I am. I remember him as a smart and steady leader, and a nice guy, as well. I've been thinking about him a lot this week.

Both these men dedicated their lives to our country, and though neither faced combat, both were dedicated and skilled, and served willingly and with good cheer. Both are missed.

A friend recently noted that though we in the Korean linguist community never had our careers "highlighted" by a shooting war, we stood there at the very threshold of war for all the time we spent in "The Land of the Morning Calm." Very few others can truly appreciate the full time "pucker factor" induced by incidents such as Kim Il Sung's death, the Tree Chopping Incident or the many other tension-raising events that shaped our service.

When the Taliban tried attacking a US base, they received the warm reception chronicled in the video below. It's soldiers... so there's some language....

Via Ace o' Spades HQ. From the comments:

"The length some guys will go to to work off their bitterness about economic insecurity and government neglect!"

Heh.

Naming conventions

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My brother's wife's brother's son is a Marine, newly stationed only an hour or so away from where I am. I'll be seeing him tomorrow as he comes up to relieve me of the burden of having one vehicle too many. He's getting the Blazer.

What does one call one's brother's wife's brother's son?

I'm opting for "nephew in law, once removed."

Either that, or "Lance Corporal."

I Am A Veteran, So...

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You might want to keep your distance. Just in case, I mean.

Photos

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While digging through 25 years worth of personal effects, looking to get rid of a lot of pointless junk that has accumulated over the course of my life (and without which I could really do), I found stacks of photos — hundreds of them — that I took while I was in the Army in Korea from 1988 to 1990.

Sorting them and identifying the people in the pictures will be an overwhelming task... but I think I might scan a few and post them here from time to time.

For now, a picture from October 1988, somewhere near the DMZ in South Korea, a much younger me takes a break to listen to a cassette and write home.

Wow. I used to have hair.

Six Years

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911_for_blog.jpg

(Graphic via the now-defunct A Small Victory)

September 10, 2001

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The world has always been a dangerous place; the conflict between civilization and barbarism never ends, though from time to time it can seem otherwise to those of us who have the luxury of living in a society noteable for its wealth and ease.

It certainly seemed so six years ago.

Like everyone I know, I remember exactly where I was and what I was doing on 9/11/2001, but I have absolutely no recollection of the day before, none at all, because nothing extraordinary happened.

As much as I might like the world to be as it was six years ago today, I recognize that it is, in fact, not, and never again will be.

An unfortunately large number of people, willingly or not, remain blind to the dangers civilization continues to face in a post-Cold War world. They seem to have slept through 9/11 and today still long for the "vacation from history" of the 1990s. Worse, many people — unfortunately including not a few of the movers and shakers in popular society; celebrities and whatnot — still behave as though 9/11 had never happened.

Even worse, there are those within our civilization who would act to the benefit of the barbarians — throwing open the castle gates, as it were — for the sake of mere political advantage.

Why they do it matters little in the long run. That they do it bodes not well for our future.

A Road Trip I Wish I Could Make

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My working nights and weekends means I'm not able to do a few things that most people might be able to do. My social life has, shall we say, been negatively impacted.

My social life was never that great to begin with. What I regret not being able to do, though, is something like this:

What: Gathering of Eagles

When: March 17th, 2007 0700-1600 (7 AM to 4 PM)

Where: The Vietnam Veteran's Memorial Wall, Washington D.C.

Why: To stand silent guard over our nation's memorials, in honor of our fallen, and in solidarity with our armed forces in harm's way today. Read our mission statement.

I wish I could go.

Quote of the Day

There’s a big difference between volunteers and mercenaries. Our fighters are where they are because, by and large, they believe in something bigger than themselves, they have learned that you can live in a community where virtue does not equal narcissism, and they know that they are far more than a nuisance. They’re in it for all of us, and if they lose it’s going to be bad for all of us.

Michael Ledeen, in Those Who Serve.

Respect

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Powerline examines Washington Post reporter William Arkin's anti-troop sentiments, laid out bare for all to see.

Apropos of which, Instapundit has some linkage, and reader comments, including this steaming pile from one of Arkin's blog commenters:

"U.S. soldiers are by no means "volunteers," any more than I am a volunteer plumber. When a person accepts compensation in the form of respect, glory, and not least of all monetary benefits (not to mention a host of other privileges for serving one's country after service is completed) a transaction is made in which both sides receive some benefit. Fisherman in Alaska take on relatively larger risks in exchage [sic] for relatively larger reward. Why is the U.S. military of the 21st century so different in this regard?"

The problem with this sentiment is that soldiers voluntarily take on much, much larger risks for much smaller rewards. If one were to do a risk/reward calculation for various professions, from CEO to registered nurse to cop to garbageman to soldier, soldiering would come out pretty much at the bottom of the scale.

No one who can do math joins the Army for money; anyone joining for "glory" is in for a big disappointment.

And yet, the commenter is tangentially correct in one regard. If I were young enough (and could walk without falling over) I'd drop my career in a heartbeat and go back into the service, because I never respected myself as much as when I was a soldier.

Self respect doesn't exactly max out the 401K, does it?

There's much more here, courtesy of the indispensible Michelle Malkin.

Last Full Measure

On this Veterans Day, we have recent news that the nation's highest award for valor, the Medal of Honor, will be awarded posthumously to Corporal Jason Dunham, USMC. There is an entire category dedicated to CPL Dunham at America's North Shore Journal. Read it, and remember.

On April 14, 2004, Corporal Dunham heroically saved the lives of two of his fellow Marines by jumping on a grenade during an ambush in the town of Karabilah. When a nearby Marine convoy was ambushed, Corporal Dunham led his squad to the site of the attack, where he and his men stopped a convoy of cars trying to make an escape. As he moved to search one of the vehicles, an insurgent jumped out and grabbed the corporal by the throat. The corporal engaged the enemy in hand-to-hand combat. At one point, he shouted to his fellow Marines, "No. No. No. Watch his hand." Moments later, an enemy grenade rolled out and Corporal Dunham jumped on the grenade to protect his fellow Marines, using his helmet and body to absorb the blast. Corporal Dunham succumbed to his wounds on April 22, 2004.

I have in the past had to do a few things that might require one to "suck it up" and carry on, but I cannot fathom the kind of courage exhibited by CPL Dunham. We as a nation are blessed to have such fine people serving.

Verdict

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Saddam guilty, sentenced to swing. More at Hot Air.

As I predicted. Almost three years ago. Sort of.

Countdown to moonbats questioning the timing — in three... two... one....

I Can Dig It

Via Blackfive, a music video from Australian country singer Beccy Cole.

The song, Poster Girl (Wrong Side of The World), is her answer to those fair-weather fans who didn't like the fact that she supports the Diggers.

Outstanding.

Can we adopt her or something? And send the Dixie Twits to, I dunno, France?

Druthers

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Everything I am in my present career, everything I do, I am being and doing only because I can no longer be a soldier.

I like my career, but I love the Army. I'd give anything to be young enough to start my Army career over... and to be prescient enough to avoid the back injury that put an end to that career.

Hoo-rah.

(Video found courtesy of Major John at Miserable Donuts.)

Five Years

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[This is a re-post, modified, from 9/11/2004]

One morning while working from home I turned on the TV in time to see one of the World Trade Towers burning. As I watched, an airliner slammed into the second tower; in that second, the world changed.

No, that's not right. The world didn't change — we all woke up.

As events unfolded, I could only think of the people trapped by the fire, and I wondered how the authorities would evacuate so many people. Helicopters on the roof, I figured.

Then the towers fell. A plane had crashed into the Pentagon, and everyone expected there would be more attacks.

Our "vacation from history" was over, and we were at war. Against whom didn't quite matter at that moment.

Remember the preliminary casualty estimates? Numbers upwards of 30,000 were cited that morning. The shock I felt could only have been the merest shade of the horror and despair felt by the families of the victims watching on TV, wondering if their loved ones had escaped... or wondering if the body falling from the tower was their family member.

Five years later, we count ourselves fortunate that "only" 3,000 died on 9/11.

From that day and in the years since, we have learned of acts of incredible courage and steadfastness, starting with Todd Beemer and his fellow passengers on Flight 93, continued by the people who stopped Richard Reid's potentially deadly shoe-bomb plot, carried on by men leaping into the darkness over Afghanistan, with leaders like GEN Tommy Franks, and continuing today with all our armed forces.

We are also fortunate that the man in the White House is a man of moral courage and intestinal fortitude, who knows that doing the right thing should not be subject to an opinion poll.

Since 9/11, the war on terrorists and terrorist states has gone very well overall, with few mistakes and a blessedly low casualty rate for our soldiers. We have also been lucky enough — and good enough — not to have suffered another attack approaching the magnitude of 9/11.

The lesson I take from all this is that we can never again allow ourselves to nap through history; it has a way of catching up with us, and when it does, it will take all our skill, intelligence and courage to face it down. The bad guys, present and future, may get lucky again some day, but real Americans are made of stern stuff. No matter the setbacks we may face in the future, we will ultimately win.

I Thought It Was "Ululululu"

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Benedick presents an eight-point plan for ending the Islamofascist threat.

I could probably do without #8. What the heck is "qahwah," anyway? Sounds like it might be "fermented camel phlegm" or something equally noxious.

But I'm all kinds of keen on #4.

It's Worth a Try

I find myself liking Steve's idea for speeding up airport screening.

13:1

Captain Ed explores the "knife/gunfight" paradigm.

Marcus Cole might put it differently:

It's like I've always said: You can get more with a kind word and a two-by-four than you can with just a kind word.

There's a time for diplomacy, yes, but sometimes you have to kick the other guy in the teeth to get his attention.

Traitors

Hang them. Hang them all.

The Letter

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Today, I got the letter.

Dear Veteran:

The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) has recently learned that an employee took home electronic data from the VA, which he was not authorized to do and was in violation of established policies.

. . . .

As a result, information identifiable with you was potentially exposed to others.

Swell. Just &@#%^! superb.

al-Qaeda/Iraq - What's Next

With the head having been cut off of al Qaeda in Iraq, how long will that chicken continue to run around before it dies? Or will it instead sprout a new head?

Many lower life forms are capable of regrowing damaged organs... and there aren't too many life forms lower than the jihadists.

Zarqawi Killed

Michelle Malkin has all the links.

Memory - 2006

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It seems that nearly everyone in my blogrolls has something to say for Memorial Day.

Me, I'll just repeat part of what I said last year:

There is something fundamentally sacred that attaches to those who have given their lives for this great nation, and consequently I tend to think that Memorial Day is as close to a religious holiday as any secular holiday can possibly be. The appellation "holy day" rarely seems as appropriate. But mere gratitude doesn't seem to me to be enough - to honor those who have fallen, we must truly memorialize them, committing their sacrifices to memory and never ever forgetting them.

Beth at My Vast Right Wing Conspiracy posts a note from a Marine OIF veteran and her own message.
Chuck Simmons tells of two soldiers.
At Cold Fury, Al says thanks.
Confederate Yankee has not one, but two must-reads.
Acidman has a link you shouldn't miss.
A video tribute at Hot Air.
Major John tells of a Vietnam hero.
Vinnie has a special flag at the Jawa Report.
Nehring reviews ten top war films.
SGT Hook remembers an old friend.
For Love of Country, from Jim at Smoke on the Water.
Ian links to a Ben Stein piece.
Val at Babalu reminds us that Freedom Isn't Free.
Cox & Forkum need no words.
Smash. Go and read.
Greyhawk revisits some sacred words. In fact, you ought to just read his whole site today.
John Donovan... well, you can read this and this, but you'd be better off reading his whole site, too.
Emperor Misha I, on remembering the fallen.
James Joyner has the President's Proclamation.
Scott of Scrappleface gets serious.
Kelly has suggestions for observing the day, at The Patriette.

Link roundups:
Michelle Malkin.
Stop the ACLU.
Wizbang!
Blackfive.

Others posting:
Ith at Absinthe and Cookies.
Laurence Asks the Cats about Memorial Day.
The Gettysburg Address, courtesy of the Llamabutchers.
Brian at gives a repeat performance. Nicely done.
Tanker at Mostly Cajun pulls no punches.
A few thoughts from Mr. Minority.
Banagor tells us what he really thinks.
Gettysburg remembered, at Power Line.
Remembering why, at Spatula City.
Scott says thanks at Speed of Thought.
Jeff at A Little More To The Right.
Captain Ed at Captain's Quarters.
Doggerel Pundit (and be sure to follow his link to Elements of Chance.)
Lori at Downtown Chick Chat.
Donnah, at Florida Cracker.
IMAO gets serious... twice.
Jim at Parkway Rest Stop.
John Hawkins, Right Wing News.
William Teach at Pirate's Cove.

Poseur, Fake, Fraud

If you're going to have a group called "Iraq Veterans Against the War" you might consider having actual veterans going public.

Everyone is entitled to an opinion; no one is entitled to lie.

Not Soon Enough

I'm planning to go see United 93 as soon as I can. I have no doubt that I'll be a wreck afterwards — I already find my heart leaping into my throat when, in the TV ads, I see the passengers rushing into the aisle to begin their charge.

Some people say they're "over it." Others say it's too soon for a film about the attacks of 9/11.

Well, I'm not "over it," I'll never be "over it." The majority of America isn't "over it." And a film of this sort is long overdue.

I am reminded of the 1942 film Wake Island, released less than a year after the valiant but doomed struggle of a Marine battalion, abandoned to their fate because of the inability of the Navy to reinforce or withdraw them. (The cold calculus of war dictated that a battalion of Marines was not worth the risk of losing two aircraft carriers in the weeks following Pearl Harbor; strategically, it was the right choice, but I'm glad it wasn't me that had to make that awful decision.)

In 1942, no one had the complete story of what had happened at the end, only radio reports. The garrison and the island were lost. The film was made anyway — indeed, work on it began before the battle was over — and can rightfully be called a masterpiece of wartime filmmaking.

60+ years later, the story of Flight 93 is much the same as that of Wake Island. We have the cell phone calls, we have the cockpit voice recordings, and from them we can make a good guess what happened on the flight. But we know the result: free Americans stood and fought, and though they lost their lives, they prevented a much greater tragedy. Their efforts and sacrifice must not be forgotten.

In a different time, a film memorializing them would have been in progress before the end of the year. In that different time, Hollywood was on our side.

Varifrank has a terrific piece about his plans to go to see United 93, about survivor's guilt, and about supporting the making of the film.

(via Tanker at Mostly Cajun.)

(Reviews and more from Hot Air.)

With Enemies Like These...

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Dang. Looks like Aaron the Liberal Slayer got hacked by followers of the Religion of Peace, Enlightenment and Understanding. Again.

Maybe the Feds will have been watching and waiting for it, and will consequently be able to come up with some JDAM targeting information.

Update: On further reflection: forget the JDAM — precision isn't needed. A bigger footprint kills more roaches.

Update 2: He's back. It's hard to keep a good man down.

Bonus: Scott has a screenshot. (I got one, but it's on my work computer... I knew I forgot to do something before I left the office.)

Update 3, 4/28: And now, of course, the obligatory DDOS attack on warbloggers, Aaron included. It must be in the Koran or something....

The New McCarthyism

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"McCarthyism" has a new definition today:

McCarthyism: efforts by members of a political opposition to subvert the policies of an elected government through the selective illegal release of classified or sensitive government information with the intent of affecting policy, swaying public opinion, damaging an administration, or creating scandal where none exists.*

New definition created in "honor" of Mary O. McCarthy, Democrat appointee at the CIA, fired for leaking classified information to the media.

Rope. Tree. Traitor. Some assembly required.

Coverage at:
Michelle Malkin
Protein Wisdom
Ace of Spades (with more here, here, and here)
Captain's Quarters
Powerline
Flopping Aces
And of course Emperor Misha I

* Yes, there's some redundancy in there. It's late, I'm tired, and the definition might undergo modification when I've had some sleep.

Quoteable Me

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Yes, that's me Glenn is quoting.

Gitmo Document Analysis

As part of Cap'n Ed's Gitmo document study, I volunteered to examine one set of hearing transcripts.

ARB (Administrative Review Board) Transcripts #1, the document set assigned to me, was 202 pages of documents which were unclassified and had the "For Official Use Only" markings stricken. The documents give details of 33 hearings of the military panel which decides whether each particular Guantanamo detainee ought to be released, or should continue being detained.

What the documents I reviewed do not contain is the actual evidence, either classified or unclassified, against the detainee. The hearings reviewed were held, in part, so that the detainee might have an opportunity to make the case that he ought to be released.

In each hearing, the detainee had a representative to assist him in making his case, and a translator was present.

The documents I reviewed thus contained only

  • procedural notes (example: "the Presiding Officer read the hearing instructions to the Detainee and confirmed that the Detainee understood the process.")
  • references to other documents (ex.: "the Designated Military Officer presented Exhibit DMO-1, the Unclassified Summary of Evidence to the Administrative Review Board.")
  • the detainees' statements, written, verbal or both
  • questioning by the "prosecutor" (the "Designated Military Officer") or by the panel of officers making up the Administrative Review Board.

For the purposes of this exercise, I operated under some assumptions:
  • that the translations were accurate,
  • that the detainee would naturally try to put the best possible spin on any statement he made,
  • that the detainee's defense counsel (the "Assisting Military Officer") was acting as a good faith representative of the detainee, and
  • that the evidence against the detainee (classified and unclassified, referred to but not actually contained in these documents), if unrefuted, would warrant continued detention.

This last point is most important, and means that in the absense of any other evidence my default judgement would be to continue detention.

In matters of national security, I am disposed to believe the prosecution. Sorry, that's just the way it is. I was a soldier, and I had a pretty high level security clearance. If that colors my judgement, so be it.

To the results, then. In short: release nine, detain the remaining twenty-four.

Of the 33 hearings detailed in the document set, in sixteen instances the detainee refused to attend his own hearing or to provide a written statement on his own behalf. Because they refused to defend themselves, I went with the default decision to retain them.

Eight additional detainees who chose to argue their cases I deemed worth keeping at Guantanamo. "Yes, I assaulted the guards here, repeatedly" is not the kind of testimony that is going to put you on the fast track to release. Additionally, a number of the statements of these eight were "internally self-contradictory." Bluntly, their stories were changing from one minute to the next. They were lying.

In nine instances, if there was any credibility whatsoever to the detainee's testimony, release might be warranted. Some say they never fought against US forces, other say they did but were regular soldiers, not Al Qaeda. I gave them every benefit of the doubt, but again it must be emphasized: I have not seen the evidence against them.

The very first transcript I read, for instance, was the hearing of a detainee who was 16 years old when captured. Taken at face value, I thought that would be reason to release him. Reading his statement made me think of the 15- and 16-year-old schoolboys who in 1945 were conscripted into the Volkssturm. But bear in mind: there were also fanatical Hitler Youth members in the Volkssturm.

What I'm really trying to get at here is that without the evidence on both sides, including the classified evidence, it is utterly impossible to make a sound judgement of what the detainee's status ought to be. How the people who conducted the original survey arrived — with any confidence — at the results they achieved by examining these same documents simply beggars imagination.

Disgust and Anger

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Disgusting:

Hecklers harass families of US soldiers killed in Iraq

Five women sang and danced as they held up signs saying "thank God for dead soldiers" at the funeral of an army sergeant who was killed by an Iraqi bomb.

For them, it was the perfect way to spread God's word: America was being punished for tolerating homosexuality.

In my ever-so-humble opinion, the best dancing those women could do would be at the end of a rope.

For the hundreds of flag waving bikers who came to this small town in Michigan Saturday to shield the soldier's family, it was disgusting.

"That could be me in that church," said Jackie Sandler whose son Keith is currently serving his second tour of duty in Iraq.

. . .

But it was the callousness and cruelty of harassing the grieving families of soldiers at dozens of funerals across the country that has sparked a grassroots movement of bikers determined to drown out the jeers and taunts.

In Flushing, Michigan they turned their leather-clad backs to the five women and held flags and tarps up so that mourners walking past wouldn't see the signs saying "God hates fags," "fag vets" and "America is doomed."

It's enough to make me want to buy a Harley.

While Westboro's congregation remains stable at around 100 people - most of whom are the extended family of founder Fred Phelps . . .

"Stable" is the last adjective I'd use to describe those dirtbags.

. . . the ranks of the Patriot Guard Riders has swelled to more than 16,000 in just a few months.

The Patriot Guard Riders are to be commended for their actions — as well as for their restraint. I'm not sure I could keep myself from punching Fred Phelps or any of his followers in the face. Or beating them with a tire iron. Some people just need to be horsewhipped. Tar and feathers might be useful, as well.

This country needs an occasional display of righteous anger... and at the moment, I can't imagine a more worthwhile reason.

More analysis at Ace of Spades. **Naughty language warning is in effect.**

Gitmo Study

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I've completed and submitted my assigned portion of the Gitmo study, as detailed by Cap'n Ed.

I'll post a summary of my results later, if time permits. (I am at work, after all.)

Update: Time hasn't permitted.

Update, 12Mar06: Nope, still no time. Maybe tomorrow, on my day off.

Digging

Over at Captain's Quarters, Captain Ed is looking for assistance in compiling/analyzing data from the Department of Defense's reports on Guantanamo detainees.

Many hands make light work, as they say. Head over to Ed's, read the background, and if you can lend a hand, let him know.

Stand, Men of the West - II

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Michelle Malkin notices certain people who won't stand — stand up for free speech, stand up against intimidation.

Of course, they aren't really Men in any meaningful sense, nor are they really of the West.

Retirement

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When I was a somewhat younger man — pretty much still a kid, really — I decided on a military career.

There was no single reason for that decision; rather, it was the product of the cumulative influences on my life up to that point.

That my grandfather had been a soldier played no small part in my decision, but other factors encouraged the idea.

I enrolled in JROTC in high school — a move guaranteed to make me unpopular in the years following Vietnam. I went off to college to continue with ROTC, but dropped out due to my extreme dislike of going to school.

After a couple of years of working hum-drum jobs and trying (unsuccessfully) to get re-enthused about the idea of college, I finally did what I ought to have done in the first place: I enlisted in the Army. I did so with the full intent to make a career of it, to stay in uniform as long as Uncle Sam would have me.

Naturally, after basic training I was sent off to school. This, however, was language school, for which I seem to have had some real talent. After a year of Basic Korean (graduating with honors, thankyouverymuch) and nine more months of Military Intelligence training, I finally ended up at my first permanent duty station, the 102nd MI Battalion, 2nd Infantry Division, at Camp Hovey in Korea.

Duty in the 2nd ID was considered a hardship tour; unlike duty in Germany, soldiers couldn't bring their families, or cars, or indeed much of anything. Consequently, assignments were for only one year. I found that I enjoyed the duty there, though, and extended my tour by a year, and then by an additional six months. While in Korea, I reenlisted for an additional six years. I knew my decision to be a "lifer" was the right one. I could imagine no other life. I earned my Sergeant's stripes in Korea, as well.

Eventually, though, I wanted to come back stateside for a bit of a "civilization break" — not that Korea was uncivilized, but it just wasn't America. As I was making my plans to return, Iraq invaded Kuwait. Transfers were frozen... but my timing was good — the freeze began two weeks after I left the 102nd.

Being a Korean linguist in a unit (107th MI Bn, 7th ID) tasked for rapid deployment to Korea meant there was no chance I'd be sent to the Gulf. Indeed, when there was a call for volunteers with security clearances, we "Koreans" were expressly ordered not to volunteer. It's an odd thing, wanting to go to a war, but I think the motivation was the desire to put years of training to use in a real live mission. As it happened, though, only non-linguists (analysts and the like) were allowed to volunteer for Gulf War duty, and perhaps half a dozen of my friends went and returned.

Shortly after the ceasefire in Iraq, in the Spring of '91, our unit had what we referred to as a "Mandatory Fun" day — no motor pool duty, no training, just a day for troops to bring their families onto the post, to have a cookout, and to play a little softball.

I was pitching. I don't remember for sure, but I couldn't have been doing too well in the position. One batter got a big piece of one of my pitches, sending a line drive low and to my right. As I twisted and lunged to try to spear the ball with my gloved left hand, there was a small *-pop-*... and my Army career was over.

I had torn some ligaments and herniated a disk in my lower back, an injury which still plagues me with an occasional week in bed and with more frequent sciatic pain. It took a year and a half to figure it out, but from that day on I was no longer capable of fully functioning as a soldier. In a profession that demands physical fitness, I could no longer keep up. In September of '92, I was a civilian again.

Maybe if something had gone differently, maybe if I'd been held over in Korea for a few more months, maybe if I hadn't volunteered to pitch that day, maybe if I'd been a better pitcher, I'd have remained in the Army for the full 20 years.

Today would have been my retirement day.

I miss being in the Army; I think about it every day. I often wonder where I would be and what I'd be doing if I was still in the service. Some of the finest people I've ever been privileged to know were those with whom I served, and if I have one regret it's that I've kept in touch with so few of them.

Stand, Men of the West

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[Updates below.]

I see in your eyes the same fear that would take the heart of me.

A day may come when the courage of men fails, when we forsake our friends and break all bonds of fellowship, but it is not this day. An hour of wolves and shattered shields, when the age of men comes crashing down, but it is not this day. This day we fight!

By all that you hold dear on this good Earth, I bid you Stand, men of the West!

It is not a small matter to make oneself a potential target of the rage of a death-worshipping ideology bent on conquest. Any rational person might feel fear at the thought of being targeted by such a concentration of evil. We already know how the followers of evil react when their behavior is exposed.

Some people, perhaps many, will surrender to fear and threats. They do not realize we are all already targets.

But many more will not let their courage fail them. They know we are all already targets.

We are in the midst of an ongoing struggle, culture against culture, and there is no guarantee of victory. But fight we must, in big ways and small. Some of us can don a uniform; many of us have done so in the past. Most do other things, making their own individual stands right where they are, not surrendering to the ideologies of fear or tolerance of evil, but by living the lives of free men and women and exercising dearly held freedoms.

Including the freedom of speech.

In this, I don't care how you vote, nor does it matter what church you attend, or not. I don't care whether you're red state or blue, pink or green. If you value your freedom to make choices, to live your life as you see fit, respecting the rights of others, even though you disagree on some or many things... if you will not surrender your fundamental liberties merely to save your own skin, and will not submit to dhimmitude, then stand.

And to those of you who would tolerate the intolerable, who fear to give offense rather than speak the truth, who would strike a bargain with evil to save your miserable skins: begone. We have no use for you.


Updates, 4Jan06

1. Don't miss Jeff Goldstein's post, Identity Politics, Free Speech, and the Future of worldwide Liberalism, 2: a follow-up.

[If, as Lileks once said, Bill Whittle is the Kirk and Steven Den Beste the Spock of the blogosphere, then surely Jeff is the Scotty. His ability to dig into the nuts and bolts of issues, to get to the fundamentals, and then to deliver superbly-written analysis is top notch.]

2. The quote of the day is from Tim Blair, on the Danes vs. Muslims "clash of civilizations":

No; that would require two civilisations.

Update, 5Jan06

Wind Rider points out what is not meant by "stand."

If it Quacks Like a Duck...

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Prof. Rusty Shackleford calls a spade a spade:

You have betrayed America with your perverse love in the exact way that an abusive husband betrays a wife. You are a traitor.

[And yes, I am the master of mixed metaphors.]

Maybe Clothes Do Make the Man

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Congressman John Murtha (D-PA) made rather a big splash this past week by very publicly "changing" his mind about the course of the war in Iraq — changing it to the same position he's held since last year, if not earlier. We already know this, of course, from a number of reports.

Murtha served honorably in the Marines, initially on active duty, and retiring from the Reserves in 1990, and is often described as a hawkish Democrat.

From the congressman's biography, I note that he has been in the House since 1974. Hmmm.

Murtha had a total of 37 years in the Marines, active and reserve. He had some number of years on active duty — his bio doesn't make it clear, but let's call it 12 years. I have no doubt that his years in uniform were spent completely honorably, and we know he was awarded the Bronze Star for valor during his tour in Vietnam. His service to the country cannot and should not be denigrated.

On the other hand, he has been a full-time Democrat congressman for more than 30 years.

Murtha has spent perhaps twice as much time in a suit as in a uniform. Which wardrobe, do you then suppose, has had more influence on his public pronouncements about the war?

Veterans Day

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I never met my grandfather.

He served as an artilleryman in France in the First World War. He brought mementos home with him — some french coins, his rifle sharpshooter badge, a set of Captain's bars, his gas mask, his helmet, and others. Most of these items hang on the wall in my home, reminders of a man I never knew.

He served, came home, married, had three kids, died young, and was buried among fellow soldiers on the Presidio of San Francisco.

He never knew that decades later there would be another SGT Russell Emerson.

Thanks, granddad. I wish I could have known you.

At the office where I work, there are large TVs situated around the open bays and tuned to CNN (but muted, fortunately) so that most us us can see what's going on in the world. This is actually useful, professionally, since when a natural disaster occurs anywhere in the world, our customer networks are likely to be affected. Having hundreds of network nodes disappear over the course of a weekend is more easily explainable if you realize that there is, say, a hurricane coming onshore in Louisiana.

So the other night, we noted the news story of pirates thwarted off the coast of Somalia, and were talking about that part of the world. The subject of Black Hawk Down came up, and the conversation ultimately migrated to other books and films before we got on the topic of Hal Moore's and Joe Galloway's We were Soldiers Once...And Young. I and the Marine veteran in the office educated our coworkers a bit, and then the conversation moved along, but not before we touched on the story of Rick Rescorla on 9/11.

Almost serendipitously, then, Greyhawk of the Mudville Gazette today tells us that the 40th anniversary of the Battle of Ia Drang is coming up next week, with veterans of the battle gathering to remember their brothers in arms and the events that have earned them a place in the history books.

Boston Herald writer and editor Jules Crittenden wrote a remarkable article about a couple of the men who came through the battle, particularly about SGT John Eade. The entirety of said piece not fitting the space constraints of a newspaper, Mr. Crittenden has graciously allowed Greyhawk to publish the whole thing: I Am Going To Die Well.

Our troops then and now are not nameless automatons whose deaths and injuries are to be tallied as on a scoreboard. Each has a name, and each has a story. Thanks, Mr. Crittenden, for telling us more of those stories, lest we forget.

Saddam's Trial (reposted)

Back in December of 2003, within a week of Saddam Hussein's capture, I wrote a little post about his eventual trial.

The trial has begun, so I thought it might be appropriate to repost the bulk of my thoughts on the matter.


The European chattering classes, and UN Secretary General Kofi Annan, want Saddam put on trial in some nice neutral place, where the worst that will happen is that he be locked away for life in the latest equivalent of Spandau. I'm sure *spit* Jacques Chirac *spit* would no doubt like to see Saddam held in comfortable house arrest somewhere on the French Riviera, where perhaps they might sometime get together to reminisce about their arms deals and their hatred of Israel. Our Friends The Saudis, who had no qualms about setting up housekeeping for Idi Amin, might even be persuaded to take him in as a retired refugee.

Anything to spare the former dictator from that tres gauche oh-so-American punishment, the death penalty.

Wrong.

Deliberately or otherwise, the EU-UN-weenies miss the point.

Understand this: the purpose of Saddam's trial is not to prove innocence or guilt. Saddam is manifestly guilty. Rather, the purpose will be to lay out the extent of his crimes for all the world to see, to count and put names to the victims, and to show despots the world over what can (and, G-d willing, will) happen to them, too.

Only then will he be hanged, or shot, or beheaded, or stoned, or be thrown off a roof, or whatever other manner of execution might be gleaned from the records kept of his tyranny.

Seriously, does anyone think there is the slightest chance he'd get off on a technicality?

Saddam's guilt is not in question, and frankly, a trial is a courtesy we offer only because we are in fact better than he is. But the result cannot be in doubt, because it is no trial. It is merely the sentencing hearing, with the only thing in question being whether Saddam spends a lifetime in Spandau, or his own personal eternity dangling at the end of a rope.

[Or perhaps *spit* Chirac *spit* would rather he'd had a "Ceaucescu" done on him? That would at least have had the benefit, from the French perspective, of shutting Saddam's mouth.]

The Hague will never have to deign to endure the touch of Saddam's shoes, nor will the ground of Geneva be soiled thereby. The free people of Iraq deserve the privilege of dealing with the monster that ruled over them so bloodily for so long. And they will.


And now, almost two years later, they are.

Ace has more.

Art and Artists

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Ace opines on the proposed Flight 93 Memorial "Crescent of Embrace" as a work of alleged "art."

But can the heroism of a group of strangers -- of Americans -- coming together to save the lives of their fellow human beings dare be expressed in something less symbolic, and perhaps more vigorous, than red trees and lilting windchimes?

And on that-- why is always our assumptions which need to be provoked?

Can we have a monument to the brave dead of Flight 93 which shows them in cool reflection as they decide to make their attack? Huddled together as they collectively decide to give their lives to spare others? And just before they mount the first battle in the war on terrorism?

And yes, engraved at the base of the statue, the rallying cry: "Let's roll."

Ahhhh... but such a tribute would "provoke" and "challenge" the wrong people-- the tastemaking elites who presume to rule us. Their beliefs and assumptions are never to be provoked or challenged, always to be reassured and reinforced by their preferred sorts of meaningless symbolic nothingnesses. It is we who need to be shaped and scolded like schoolchildren; it is they who wield the rulers.

So that I don't forget or lose it, I reproduce here the comment I posted:

A statue could have been good.

A handful of men and women huddled banded together, in the midst of plotting their counterattack; one looking over his shoulder, keeping an eye on the unseen jihadists; another with cellphone in hand; and perhaps another pair actually praying (!) before their desperate attack.

Something simple. Something inspiring. Something that actually memorializes those who fell that day in the first defeat of those who would kill or enslave every single one of us who remain.

Something everyone can look at and say "Thank God it wasn't me up there... but if it had been me, would that I had the courage of those men and women to face the evil that showed itself that day."

That's my idea of a memorial.

It is my idea of a memorial. Something people can look at and know precisely what it stands for.

No one has to wonder about the meaning of the Marine Corps Memorial. The six men raising the flag on Mount Suribachi is an enduring image, with meaning that no abstract geometrical construct could ever by any stretch of the imagination hope to convey.

If a work of Art isn't meant to convey meaning, then in exactly what aesthetical way does it differ from, say, interior decorating?

Direct Action

In the aftermath of Katrina, one man decided to do something to help. He didn't just write a check. He loaded up a deuce-and-a-half truck and drove to Louisiana.

Read his incredible story.

(via Kim du Toit)

Four Years

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911_for_blog.jpg

(Graphic via A Small Victory)

Texan's Road Trip

Beth of Yeah, Right, Whatever took a little road trip Monday...

... to Crawford, TX.

Someone recently asked me why more pro-WoT Gold Star Families don't speak up (against the group at Camp Casey, and against the anti-war protesters in general). I've been thinking about it, and (though R hasn't confirmed it) I think I have an idea. Most Gold Star Families, the ones who believe in what their children/spouses were doing with their lives, just want to be left in peace to mourn. They have faith in our country, and in the mission their family member was on. They don't want to be part of a movement.

Read about her trip here.

Enough Already

The Base Realignment and Closure Commission has come out with their final list of recommended closures. North Carolina stands to gain quite a bit by the proposed realignment.

I don't care. Enough already. Stop closing bases we may need in the future. Keeping them open is worth the cost.

Peggy Noonan, as usual, says it best.

Sometimes, it's not all about the money, or shouldn't be.

View From The Hill

From my brother's home in Santa Barbara, a rare sight could be seen as the USS Ronald Reagan stopped to pay a visit over the weekend.


[click for larger]

In an e-mail, my sister-in-law notes:

I wanted you to note that the ship is right in the ocean view of our house and it is FANTASTIC!

Real estate in Santa Barbara being what it is, that's probably a million-dollar view on any given day. Throw in a nuclear aircraft carrier, and pretty soon you're talking about real money.

The sailors are [superb] and it is great to see them in the downtown of SB. Many of the sailors took a special tour of the Reagan library in Simi Valley - a wonderful library, by the way! There is a lot of activity and excitement at the wharf as people are swarming for a view of the ship. We are glad it harbored here! It is a mile out and still looks huge!

(Apologies to Justin Hayward for using the title of his terrific solo album for the title of this post.)

Gold Stars

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There's one particular thing that strikes me about the entire Cindy Sheehan to-do: the invasion of Iraq began over two years ago, and it's taken this long for the hardcore moonbat Left to find a Gold Star mother who would front for them in a very public way.

There are approximately 1,800 mothers who have lost a son or daughter* in Iraq, and Michael Moore's Marching Moonbat Mob has been able to find one mother willing to seek such notoriety.†

I'll be generous and allow that the Left might have 100 or more such parents to trot out on demand. The numbers nevertheless speak for themselves.

More (and more ably done) commentary here, here, here, here, and here. Particularly noteworthy is the post at Iraq the Model.


* They are sons and daughters, but most assuredly not children. The loaded question "would you send your child to die?" is disingenuous on every level. They are neither children nor chattel, and they are not sent in order to die. Every person serving in the military is a volunteer, and though we know some will inevitably die in service to their country — in combat, in accidents — "we purpose not their deaths when we purpose their services."

If I had a son of military age, I would be proud beyond my ability to describe, if he were to choose to serve his country in the military.

† At last count there were approximately 60 families involved with Gold Star Families for Peace, but none who have allowed themselves to be used by the anti-American Left to quite the extent Cindy Sheehan has.

Stewart. James Stewart.

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I don't go in much for Hollywood "fan-dom." Entertainers are (or should be) just that: people hired to entertain us, not people over whom to swoon. [I'd consider making an exception for Emily Procter.]

There have, however, been a few entertainers – actors, athletes, and so on – I've admired for one reason or another. For as long as I can remember, Jimmy Stewart was one of those.

Was it because I enjoyed every single film of his I ever saw? Maybe that played into it... but I've enjoyed every Errol Flynn movie I've seen, and I am not an Erroll Flynn fan, as such. More likely, it was because I learned early on that Stewart had set aside his Hollywood career during World War 2 to be a B-17 pilot – a decidedly hazardous occupation. Other things I learned about his off-screen life only reinforced my conception of the man.

[By purest coincidence, Stewart and my father died on the same day: July 2, 1997. Because of that, I feel what would be considered an irrational connection to the man. I have this mental picture of Dad and Jimmy meeting up at the Pearly Gates....]

Now, new revelations that Stewart was doing a bit of work for the FBI – in an era when there really were communists trying to take over Hollywood – only adds to the high regard in which I hold him (despite the article's obvious negative slant.)

Stewart, FBI badge

There really were communists in Hollywood. They really were trying to take over. They really were enemies of America.

Too many people have forgetten that.

Now we have Oliver Stone, Michael Moore and Sean Penn.

What we could really use is another Jimmy Stewart.

(via Ace.)

(More at PoliPundit.)

Words Mean Things

Ya... what he said.

Not Again...

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Bombings in London... and my cable box/DVR is busy rebooting on me, so I can't see jack.

Update: Still not getting squat. @#$%&! Time Warner Cable.... I'm getting my news online, starting with Wizbang.

Terminology

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Eugene Volokh and Jim Lindgren of the Volokh Conspiracy offer critiques of the term "homicide bomber."

This has irritated me for quite a long while, too.

• "Bomber" by itself implies "homicide," which makes "homicide bomber" redundant. Are there bombings which aren't meant to kill people and/or destroy things?

• The distinguishing characteristic of the attacks Fox News (et al.) call "homicide bombings" is the death of the bomber in the act of carrying out the bombing, making the use of the adjective "suicide" both descriptive and accurate when applied to the noun "bomber."

• Making reporters and news anchors say "homicide bombing" just makes them look stupid.

And now that I think on it, I've posted about this before.

Proportionality

In some societies, peoples' response to bombing and murder is a bit of vandalism.

In other societies, peoples' response to a bit of vandalism is rioting and murder.

Mote ≠ beam.*

If, however, there is to be a war of nerves let us make sure our nerves are strong and are fortified by the deepest convictions of our hearts.
Never give in — never, never, never, never, in nothing great or small, large or petty, never give in except to convictions of honour and good sense. Never yield to force; never yield to the apparently overwhelming might of the enemy.
Arm yourselves, and be ye men of valor, and be in readiness for the conflict; for it is better for us to perish in battle than to look upon the outrage of our nation and our altar.
You ask, what is our aim? I can answer in one word. It is victory. Victory at all costs. Victory in spite of all terrors. Victory, however long and hard the road may be, for without victory there is no survival.

News roundups by Instapundit, Smash, Wizbang.

Credentials

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[This post was originally published 21Jun05. Due to the topicality today, I thought I'd bump it up.]
[There are updates - see below.]

Neat-o. An actual lefty koolaid drinker, right here on my very own site.

Now, I wouldn't be surprised if someone from the anti-American anti-war camp had found this site accidentally — it happens all the time, and some occasionally drop a turd or two in the comments — but this fellow actually came here from my mini-bio page at BlogsForBush. He came here looking for a fight to pick.

As is so often the case with the anti-American anti-war crowd, he rolled out what he thought would be a rhetorical nuke: the tired and discredited "chickenhawk" argument — questioning my "credentials," my qualification to offer opinions about the war. I guess the obvious military theme here escaped his notice, and I called him on it.

Not content to leave well enough alone, however, he decided to leave another steaming pile in the comments. I figured it deserved an up-front response. I know it will fail utterly to convince him, as he apparently arrived at his current opinions shortly before turning off his brain, but a response is nonetheless warranted.

Read on and, as always, feel free to comment.

Duty

If you've never read Scott Ott's Scrappleface for the funny stuff, you don't know what you're missing.

But if you've never read it when he's making a serious point, shame on you.

Quote of the Day, plus a transcript

I think it's an affront to their memory that we have a tax on the books in this country today that says if you work and earn some money and you pay your income tax on it, and you try to give it to your kids or your family — the natural object of your bounty — you're going to get taxed again.

— Lieutenant Lynn "Buck" Compton, one of the Band of Brothers


In honor of the 61st anniversary of D-Day and the beginning of the end of the Third Reich, Lieutenant Compton made an appearance on Fox and Friends this morning. As well as telling some of his own story, he has an issue he stands for. He laid his life on the line for this country. He deserves the courtesy of a respectful hearing.

I've tried, thanks to the DVR, to make a decent transcript of the entirety of LT Compton's appearance on the program. A generation is passing away; things like this should not disappear down the memory hole.

Ageism

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Via Sir George at Emperor Misha's place:

Lawmaker Wants Lower Soldier Drinking Age

One Wisconsin lawmaker figures if the U.S. military trusts 19-year-olds with a $10 million tank, then the state should trust them with a beer.

State Rep. Mark Pettis, a Republican who served in the Navy, is pushing a bill that would drop the drinking age to 19 for Wisconsin soldiers — but only if the federal government agrees it will not yank an estimated $50 million a year in highway aid.

A federal law ties federal highway dollars to compliance by the states with the required drinking age of 21.

"We're treating these young men and women as adults when they're at war. But we treat them like teenagers when they're here in the states," he said.

Now, I'm not exactly a proponent of the idea that teens, in general, are just as smart or wise as those of us who have been around the block so many times we know the only parking spot that's free.* Indeed, I've always had an extremely poor opinion of teenagers, even when I was one myself.

But I think it is not altogether unreasonable to extend all the privileges of full majority to anyone who has [honorably] completed a certain amount of time or reached a level of training in the military services. By volunteering to serve, and then by completing basic training (or maybe six months or a year of service), one has demonstrated a level of maturity that will not be attained by many people who are several years older.

Go on — just try to tell me that a college junior or senior is necessarily more mature than a Marine on his first duty assignment, merely because of a date on a birth certificate. That Marine, or airman, sailor, coastie or soldier has accepted the adult responsibilities attendant with service to his country, and deserves to be treated like an adult. He has earned it.

And by "privileges of full majority," I don't mean just the drinking age. I also refer to the rights protected by the 2nd Amendment. Why should a soldier — trained in the use and safe handling of very deadly weapons — be denied the right to purchase a handgun before his 21st birthday?

To deny those rights due merely to age is a dangerous precedent. Why the arbitrary cut-off at 21? Why not 25 or 30? Or, heck, why allow anyone to buy a handgun at all? When an arbitrary standard such as age (beyond the attainment of legal majority) is used as a determining factor in the exercise of an explicitly protected Constitutional right, who is to say what other arbitrary restrictions may be placed on the exercise of that right?

* With apologies to the Barenaked Ladies.

Memory - 2005

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Some people would say that there is a certain nobility associated with serving in the armed forces, regardless of the service performed. Perhaps this is so. I served, but my contribution in the intel field was mostly technical (though I do have a few good stories.)

But unlike so many of our soldiers today, I never had to charge across the length of a country in chemical protective gear expecting the cry of "gas gas gas" at any moment, nor have I had to patrol the streets of a hostile city, wondering when the crack of a hostile sniper rifle might sound. While there is always a degree of risk associated with military service, I never had to face the possibility of suicide bombings or IEDs.

The troops who have served and are serving in Iraq, in Afghanistan, and in unseen and unknown places around the world are doing a far greater service than I ever did. And many of them have paid for our security with their lives.

There is something fundamentally sacred that attaches to those who have given their lives for this great nation, and consequently I tend to think that Memorial Day is as close to a religious holiday as any secular holiday can possibly be. The appellation "holy day" rarely seems as appropriate. But mere gratitude doesn't seem to me to be enough — to honor those who have fallen, we must truly memorialize them, committing their sacrifices to memory and never ever forgetting them.


[As with last year's holiday, this year I'll be collecting links to all the Memorial Day posts I can find, as well as any Op/Ed pieces I happen to see. And it wouldn't hurt to go look at those links from last year.]


John of Castle Argghhh! gives us Memorial Day 2005, and a collection of links.

Blackfive: Opening the Gates of Heaven.

Mudville Gazette: Memorial Day. In fact, just go to the top, scroll down and read all the Memorial Day posts.

GeorgeMoneo at Babalu reminds us: "It is the soldier."

Mark Steyn reruns last year's column - Memorial Day (but it's as good now as last year.)

Michelle Malkin points us toward Legacy.com. Her post has also been updated with some excellent links.

At Powerline, John has a Memorial Day photo, and Scott tells us about Michael Carlson and His Credo.

Florida Cracker has photos, too, here and here.

Jennifer at A Collection of Thoughts posts Memorial Day, a Day of Thanksgiving! by Col Bob Pappas, USMC (ret).

Lee at Right Thinking from the Left Coast has comments, a photo, and an interesting link.

Jim at Smoke on the Water reposts For Love of Country.

Via Indigo Insights, a link to Passing of a Generation.

Brian B at Memento Moron honors his father and grandfather in his Memorial Day post.

At Mostly Cajun, a bit of Kipling.

Stryker Brigade News has a collection of links about Memorial Day.

Austin Bay has the transcript of a speech he gave for Tejanos in Action.

At the Anti-Idiotarian Rottweiler, Sir George says Remember the Fallen.

Mr. Minority has comments.

At Spatula City, there's a link you should follow.

Citizen Smash, the Indepundit, pays a visit to a national cemetery. This is a must-read.

At the Command Post, a poem and comments.

Three veterans' stories, at Crusader War College.

Kim du Toit reposts one of his classics.

Bill at INDC Journal has a few photos, and must-follow links.

Tim Blair posts a note from reporter Jules Crittenden.

Roger Simon has photos.

At Cold Fury, Mike says a lot in just a few words.

Just one word is all it takes, at Parkway Rest Stop.

Charles Austin has a picture. I am reminded, in part, of that 1963 photo of the young John-John Kennedy saluting as his father's caisson rolled by.

Denita writes about beautiful freedoms at Who Tends the Fires.

Ith of Absinthe & Cookies has a prayer, and a link to photos of the military cemetary at the Presidio of San Francisco where, coincidentally, SGT Russell Lloyd Emerson — my grandfather — is buried.

Cox & Forkum. No words necessary.

DoggerelPundit reposts an excerpt from Elements of Chance. I think you should follow his link and read the whole thing.

Mickey Chandler has a Medal of Honor citation. I really need to learn more about the Vera Cruz campaign....

Cry Freedom posts The Final Inspection. (Link via Billy Budd at American Dinosaur.)

Joel, No Pundit Intended: Memorials.

James at Outside the Beltway has the President's Memorial Day radio address, and a collection of links.

Keeping faith with the fallen of Flanders Field, courtesy of Pirate's Cove.

Denny the Grouchy Old Cripple comments.

A small incident with a lot of meaning, recounted at Redsugar Muse.

Columnist Jeff Jacoby tells the story of Sergeant Rafael Peralta, USMC.

Jim Lacey talks about those who command our troops.

BummerDietz at Scylla & Charybdis recounts the Battle of Midway, with special attention to the sacrifice of the torpedo bomber aviators.

Over at Barking Moonbat, a series of posts: So That Others Might Be Free. Start with Part One... heck, just go to the main page and read them all.

Riverdog posts. Check the comments, too.

Guy S. at Snugg Harbor was once a bugler... I can't imagine how hard it would be to play "Taps."

J. R. at Top of My Head has a Memorial Day Tribute.

Shamalama at Common Folk using Common Sense: Memorial Day 2005.

The Raleigh News & Observer editorial page: In Honored Glory.

Doc Russia at Bloodletting has a few words.


If there's a post you know about (yours, or anyone else's) that I haven't linked, please tell me about it in the comments.

Memorial Day Movie Classics

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The two major cable channels that show "classics", American Movie Classics (AMC) and Turner Classic Movies (TCM) are showing military-themed movies this weekend. Apart from that general topic, the film selections couldn't be more different.

I don't have a list of all the films the two channels have already shown this weekend, but the guide on the digital cable can tell me what's coming up for the rest of today and tomorrow.

Looking at the list of movies below, I get a distinct impression about the attitudes of the two stations as to what constitutes an appropriate film for a Memorial Day marathon.

Journalistic Overkill

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Michelle Malkin has been on top of the case of USMC 2nd Lt. Ilario G. Pantano from the beginning.

The Raleigh News & Observer, as part of the mainstream media that has thus far failed to convict the LT on charges of murder, now suggests that as a fallback position he be disciplined by the Marine Corps for committing "overkill."

Given the media's inclination to commit journalistic overkill in stories that make the military look bad, I'm disinclined to take their suggestion seriously.

Today's edition of the N&O editorializes on the case:

COSTS OF OVERKILL
A Camp Lejeune Marine officer who fired repeatedly into the bodies of two Iraqis should be disciplined for poor judgment

I'd love to know which article of the Uniform Code of Military Justice covers "poor judgement."

It would be understandable if the U.S. Marine Corps dismissed murder charges against 2nd Lt. Ilario G. Pantano, based at Camp Lejeune, in the deaths of two Iraqi men last year. It would be a travesty, though, if the matter ended right there.

Only because the press won't otherwise get their pound of flesh out of the case.

Those who fight America's battles around the world must hew to the highest standards of professional military conduct. Right now in Iraq, that's crucial if our armed forces hope to win citizens' hearts and minds away from the insurgents who continue their violent resistance to the American presence and to Iraq's new government. To be of help to that government as it attempts to get organized and establish security, U.S. troops must be seen as the good guys.

I suspect one way to be seen as good guys would be to kill bad guys.

What happened in the Iraqi city of Mahmudiyah on April 15, 2004, hurt America's cause, just as the notorious instances in which U.S. personnel have abused Iraqi prisoners have hurt it.

Frankly, I don't see how. Killing bad guys is rather the whole point, isn't it?

As three dozen Marines moved toward a suspected hideout for insurgents, two men tried to drive away. With rifles, the soldiers disabled the car and ordered the two men out. Pantano feared booby traps so he had the prisoners pull apart the car's seats.

As they went about it, speaking in Arabic, the men are said to have moved in Pantano's direction, which the Marine interpreted as an attack. Pantano opened fire, emptying 80 percent of his ammunition into the bodies.

Eighty percent? If we're talking about an M-16 with a 30-round magazine, that means 24 rounds. Frankly, considering the relative ineffectiveness of the 5.56mm round, if I wanted to kill someone until I was absolutely certain they were dead-dead-dead I'd have considered reloading and shooting some more.

[The same goes if the LT was using the 9mm Beretta sidearm.]

He then posted a sign over them with a Marine slogan: "No Better Friend, No Worse Enemy."

I fail to see a problem. Certainly the terrorists in question didn't care.

After hearing the evidence for and against Pantano, Maj. Mark E. Winn recommended last week that the premeditated murder charges, carrying the death penalty, be dropped against him.

Perhaps that's in part because the charges were prompted by the complaints of a disgruntled subordinate who is probably making the rounds of the Upper West Side "we're-not-against-the-war-we're-on-the-other-side" cocktail circuit.

It was combat, after all, and Pantano followed the rules of engagement -- up to a point.

I'm sure the News&Observer's editorial staff would be happier if 2LT Pantano had called in an airstrike to convert the terrorists into a pink mist... that wouldn't have been "overkill," would it?

Look: dead is dead, regardless of how you get there.

Yet Pantano's own account of his actions, as quoted by The Wilmington Star-News, was damning:

Damning? Only if one is predisposed to damn the Lieutenant, as no doubt the editorialist is. Instead, I say three cheers for 2LT Pantano.

"I had made a decision that when I was firing I was going to send a message to these Iraqis and others that when we say, 'No better friend, no worse enemy,' we mean it."

An auxiliary message might be "when you've been captured by Marines and they tell you to do something, listen and obey."

[I suspect, however, that what the LT was really thinking was more along the lines of "Die, terrorist a**holes!" The quote above sounds like an after-the-fact embellishment.]

Rambo-type behavior

You could tell that was coming, couldn't you?

is unbecoming any American in uniform, particularly one in a leadership position. Emptying a rifle into the bodies of dead men evokes the tactics of the tyrants and terrorists that U.S. forces went to Iraq to oppose.

No, the tactics of the tyrants and terrorists are more along the lines of


  • emptying machineguns into the living bodies of women and children and bulldozing them into mass graves,
  • using chemical weapons against villages,
  • kidnapping and beheading civilians, and
  • driving explosive-laden vehicles into crowds.

To suggest that there is some sort of moral equivalence is both absurd and morally repugnant. The N&O ought to be ashamed of itself.

Marine commanders must send a message to the troops that such behavior won't be tolerated.

It's one thing to, for instance, make necklaces of the ears of dead enemies, but another thing altogether to make those enemies dead in the first place. The former is not to be tolerated. The latter, however it is achieved, is the point of combat, isn't it?

[Bear in mind, also, that illegal combatants have only the "rights" we choose to let them have. That they are not summarily tried and executed is a mercy we grant them, but which we would be technically within our rights to withhold.]

The hearing officer's sensible recommendation is for Pantano to be disciplined for the way he dealt with suspected enemies, rather than be court-martialed for murder. It is Maj. Gen. Richard Huck who must make a call recognizing both the difficult demands on soldiers and the national values they represent.

As an aside, I'd like to note that soldiers are held to higher standards of conduct than members of the press are. Make of that what you will.

A decision of uncommon wisdom is needed.

Which is why the Marine Corps will make the decision, not the staff of the News&Observer.


[Non sequiter: by all means, make Outside the Beltway a regular read.]

Heavy Metal

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An observant reader may have gathered from a couple of past entries here that I'm something of a battleship aficionado. The reader would be correct.

Nothing says "are you ready to surrender yet?" like an American battleship showing up on your coastline, ready to begin lobbing 2000-pound shells. Saddam's army learned that lesson in 1991, with whole units surrendering at the sight of the unmanned aerial vehicles used by the battleships for target spotting and fire correction/adjustment. They knew what kind of hell would otherwise have been unleashed on them.

Fandom aside, though, I had thought the day of the battleships' utility in war was over. I assumed that other weapon systems were adequate to the tasks for which the battleship was well-suited. As a stodgy old traditionalist, I hoped the battlewagons could still be useful, but I was not convinced that it could be so.

Oliver North says otherwise:

Sometimes, as I tell my grandchildren, older is better. In the case of the two battlewagons, older is not only superior, it's also a lot less expensive.
I believe him.

Below the fold, another photo from my recent visit to the USS North Carolina.

Valor

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Sergeant First Class Paul Smith later today will be the first soldier to be awarded the Medal of Honor for courage above and beyond the call of duty in Iraq. Like too many recipients of the Medal of Honor, he paid for his bravery with his life, but in so doing saved the lives of dozens of his fellow soldiers.

SFC Smith is the first serviceman to receive the Medal of Honor since Army snipers Shughart and Gordon were so honored for their actions in the 1993 Somalia mission (later immortalized in the book and film Black Hawk Down.)

SFC Smith's award will be accepted by his 11-year-old son.

Be sure to visit the online presentation, published earlier this year, which covers the whole story of SFC Smith: The Last Full Measure of Devotion.

The text of the citation for Smith's award will be available after the presentation ceremony.

Update — the citation:

The President of the United States of America, authorized by an act of Congress, March 3rd 1863, has awarded in the name of Congress the Medal of Honor to Sergeant First Class Paul R. Smith, United States Army.

Sergeant First Class Paul R. Smith distinguished himself by acts of gallantry and intrepidity above and beyond the call of duty in action [against] an armed enemy in action near Baghdad International Airport, Baghdad, Iraq, on 4 April 2003.

On that day, Sergeant First Class Smith was engaged in the construction of a prisoner of war holding area when his task force was violently attacked by a company-sized enemy force. Realizing the vulnerability of over a hundred fellow soldiers, Sergeant First Class Smith quickly organized a hasty defense, consisting of two platoons of soldiers, one Bradley Fighting Vehicle, and three armored personnel carriers.

As the fight developed, Sergeant First Class Smith braved hostile enemy fire to personally engage the enemy with hand grenades and anti-tank weapons, and organized the evacuation of three wounded soldiers from an armored personnel carrier struck by a rocket propelled grenade and a sixty millimeter mortar round.

Fearing the enemy would overrun their defenses, Sergeant First Class Smith moved under withering enemy fire to man a fifty-caliber machine gun mounted on a damaged armored personnel carrier. In total disregard for his own life, he maintained his exposed position in order to engage the attacking enemy force. During this action, he was mortally wounded.

His courageous actions helped defeat the enemy attack and resulted in as many as fifty enemy soldiers killed while allowing the safe withdrawal of numerous wounded soldiers.

Sergeant First Class Smith's extraordinary heroism and uncommon valor are in keeping with the highest traditions of the military service, and reflect great credit upon himself, the Third Infantry Division (Rock of the Marne), and the United States Army.

[Transcribed from CSPAN's coverage of the ceremony.]

Update 2: Matt has a transcript of the President's remarks.

Encounter

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I was nearing the end of the self-guided tour of the USS North Carolina yesterday, and would have been off the ship and on the road in maybe half an hour, when my cellphone rang. I answered, and the ensuing conversation took half an hour. The delay turned out to be rather fortuitous.

I ultimately rang off and resumed my walking tour, wrapping up with the ship's bridge area. As I stepped out of the pilot house (where they steer from) and out to the signal bridge (where the signal flags are kept) I was alone, but for a tall dignified-looking elderly fellow who was standing there.

"Can you imagine being Captain of a ship like this," he said to me, out of the blue. "The responsibility...."

"Indeed," I replied, "being responsible for a ship like this, and so many men, it must have been... well, I can't imagine it." I really can't. I had a squad of seven troops and maybe a couple of million dollars of hardware — that's nothing compared to 2,600+ men and maybe 100 million dollars (in the 1940s) of ship and gear.

"And the authority," he continued, "the Captain had responsibility, but he also had authority."

"The two go hand in hand," I said, "you can't have one without the other." Garrr... just call me Mr. Cliché.

He continued, "The Captain was like a father to us." Holy smokes... the man was no mere tourist — he was revisiting his old ship. "He held the crews' lives in his hands... he was like a father and we were like a big family."

I saw what he was driving at. He meant not only responsibility for the crew, but to the crew as well. They trusted the Captain to know how to fight the ship, and he in turn trusted them to know their individual duties and to do them well.

And "well" is how they did. USS North Carolina earned 12 battle stars in the Second World War for participation in every major campaign of the Pacific war.

We strolled the deck and talked a while longer, about the differences 60 years can make, but also about many things about the service that never change. And the whole time, I was thinking this is a man who saw it happen.

My cellphone rang again, and I really did not want to answer, but I was sort of expecting it, so I excused myself... it wasn't the call I thought it might be. As I pocketed the phone, I turned to talk to the fellow, but he had gone. I looked for him, to resume our conversation, but he was nowhere to be found.

If I hadn't earlier received that 30-minute phone call, I'd never have met the man. Call it serendipity. I had actually met and spoken with a man who had stood on the decks of that very ship while under fire from the Japanese. The weightiness of the encounter didn't fully hit me for a few minutes. I had met a hero. No, I don't know his name, but as far as I am concerned, all those men were heroes.

Being the age I am, born at the tail end of the baby boom, I've known WW2 veterans since I was a kid. Many of my Dad's friends had served — Dad was a bit too young, having been born in '36, but he worked with a lot of guys many years older than he was. To a kid like me, raised on John Wayne movies, Combat! and The Rat Patrol, those men were like giants. I've even met a bona fide legend, USMC ace and recipient of the Medal of Honor Joe Foss, and one of my most prized possessions is a signed photo of some of the Doolittle raiders on the deck of the USS Hornet on their way to Japan. These things mean a lot to me.

Most of those men are gone now, of course. One who is still with us was one of my Dad's best friends in the years before my Dad's death. He's in his 80s now; during the war he flew B-29 bombers over Japan. When he bought a new car several years ago — a Mitsubishi — he joked with me that 50 years earlier he had been dropping bombs on the factory where his car was made. That is the only thing I have ever heard him say about his wartime experience.

Though they are fewer every day, some of those men are still among us. We now, however, have a new generation of men — and some women too — who I hope will be looked at by future generations of kids the way I regard the men of WW2 — as heroes.

Tribute

I know there have been plenty of very nice Flash slideshows of photos from Iraq.

Here's one I hadn't previously seen.

Make sure your speakers are on; nice soundtrack.

LT's Hell

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A 2nd Lieutenant met an untimely end and found himself standing before St. Peter at the Pearly Gates.

Said St. Peter, "Welcome, Lieutenant. You have served faithfully, and may enter Heaven."

"Well," said the shavetail, "I'd sure like to come in, but if there are any Sergeants Major in Heaven, I don't want to go in. If there's one thing I can't stand, it's being treated like a child by a cigar-chewing, know-it-all, been-everywhere, seen-everything Sergeant Major."

"No," said Peter, "there's not a single Sergeant Major who ever made it here to Heaven. Not a one. Now, report up to the Heaven HQ for your assignment. It's that gold building at the top of that hill."

"I figured as much," thought the LT to himself as he marched through the Pearly Gates.

Moving towards the golden building, the Lieutenant realized how orderly the setting around him was, and knew he would be very happy in Heaven. Every street had been policed, all the grass freshly mown, and every rock painted. Getting closer to HQ, though, he began to hear what sounded like yelling coming from one of the open windows. He crept up to investigate.

Looking in the window, he saw what he feared most — a Sergeant Major, leaning back in a swivel chair, feet up on his desk, shouting into a telephone and waving a cigar around. Around the desk, half a dozen junior officers were doing pushups non-stop.

Horrified, the Lieutenant hastened back towards the Gates. "I want out of here ASAP!" he told St. Peter.

"Lieutenant!" cried Pete, "what's wrong? I thought you were going to be happy here!"

"Happy?" wailed the young shavetail. "How can I be happy here? I spent my too-short career being condescended to by every Sergeant Major I ever saw! I hate them! And when I asked if there were any here, you said no!" He described what he had seen.

"Oh!" said the saint, "No, no, no. That wasn't a Sergeant Major at all.... You see, that was God — He just thinks he's a Sergeant Major!"

[Old joke, brought to mind by this post at Castle Argghhh!]

Belligerence

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China rattles the saber:

China has threatened to crush Taiwan at any cost if the island declares independence. The belligerent rhetoric is at the center of a new national defense policy.

Taiwan needs to declare independence? Let's see...

  • They have their own constitution.
  • They have their own elections.
  • They have their own military.
  • They make their own treaties.

Seems to me they are already de facto independent. Awfully presumptuous of the Chicoms to tell them otherwise.

The new 85-page defense policy was released Monday and it reinforced Beijing's hard-line stance against Taiwan's independence movement.

The lengthy white paper highlights a series of regional security concerns, including the nuclear arms standoff on the Korean peninsula and a more aggressive Japanese defense policy. But the focus is on silencing Taiwanese calls for independence.

Because only a fool would think that little peaceful Taiwan is more of a threat to China that a North Korean lunatic with nukes.

Hmm....

Actually, the idea that some Chinese would refuse to be crushed under the tank treads of the People's "Liberation" Army would be more threatening to Mao's heirs. They seem to have no qualms about their people dying by the millions, whereas the prospect of a few million Chinese people refusing to kowtow to Beijing — and giving their mainland cousins dangerous ideas — must really frighten them.

The paper describes cross-strait relations as grim and says the Chinese army has a sacred responsibility to crush Taiwan if it declares independence.

Remember the Tiananmen Square massacre?

The paper also blasts U.S. policy toward Taiwan, especially its weapons sales to Taipei.

Professor Arthur Ding follows cross-strait relations for the National Chengchi University in Taiwan. He says Beijing's tough rhetoric is in part a reaction to a small group of Chinese hard-liners pushing for a confrontation with Taipei.

The dinosaurs died 65 million years ago, but the communist hard-liners live on.

"The Chinese government is doing something proactively to diffuse growing pressure in Beijing," he said.

Mass resignations and suicides of the ruling elite would be a simpler solution.

I've long and often said that the United States would be in a shooting war with China sometime in the rapidly approaching future. This story would seem to indicate an accelleration in the approach of that future.

The People's Republic of China is an enemy of everything this country, at its heart, stands for. It's high time those in positions of power in this country recognize that fact.

[Read the rest of the story, courtesy of Voice of America.]

Sorrow

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Yesterday was a somber day around the VRWC as one of our own, Spence, lost his brother LCpl Kyle Renehan to wounds sustained in Iraq. For those of us who did not know Kyle, it was an occasion of great sadness on behalf of Spence and his family.

[Our friend Beth has kept us all apprised of the situation from the beginning. Thank you, Beth — you are an angel.]

A young man's life — the unfulfilled potential which no one now can ever know, the children he will never raise, the things he will never do, the good times he'd celebrate and bad times he'd overcome — these are all gone, and for that we grieve for the fallen.

As we mourn, though, it is not so much for Kyle as it is on behalf of those left behind. They have lost the son, the brother, the cousin, the nephew and the friend they all knew, and all that he might have become is gone. They will have their memories, his medals, the token artifacts of his life to remind them of him, but he's gone and nothing of this Earth will completely fill the hole in all their lives that he leaves behind.

Knowing they are in pain, we who did not know Kyle can empathize, we can mourn with and for them, we can try to comfort them, but their grief is theirs — it is up to them and to God to fill the gap Kyle leaves behind... and though it will take time, fill it they will.




Kyle's war is over. Rest in peace, Marine.

For the Renehan family, a much harder struggle lays ahead. May God grant them the strength to bear it.




Spence, I'm not good at offering advice, all I can do is recount my personal experience from the loss of my father. Time will never heal your loss completely, and you probably won't want it to do so. But you will someday be strong enough to live with the hurt, and you will be able to look back, remember, and smile about the good times. And your friends will be here to help, whenever you need it.

Mourning

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Kyle Renehan, Lance Corporal, United States Marine Corps.

Requiescat in pace.

Today is Pearl Harbor Day.

This is the battleship U.S.S. Arizona in the 1930s:

ussarizona.gif

And this is the U.S.S. Arizona and 1177 of her crew today:

ArizMemorial.gif

It would behoove our enemies — actual and potential — to realize that when the United States went to war after an unprovoked attack in 1941, it ended in fire.

America has a long memory.

More from:
Silent Running,
Instapunk,
Michelle Malkin,
Florida Cracker,
Mamamontezz,
Rooftop Report,
Poliblog,
Backcountry Conservative,
Flynn Files,
Shot in the Dark,
Power Line,
Castle Argghhh!,
Outside the Beltway,
The Commisar (and here),
Val Prieto.

[This post is a slightly-edited repeat of last year's Pearl Harbor post.]

LCpl Kyle Renehan Update

Beth has all the details.

Update: see this.

Support a Marine's Family

A fellow Loyal Citizen, Spence, has two brothers serving in Iraq, one of whom was seriously wounded by mortar fire yesterday.

After the initial emergency surgery, he is being evacuated to Germany; his parents will be flying there shortly.

Please keep Lance Corporal Kyle Renehan, USMC, and his family in your prayers.

Veterans Day 2004

vetday04.jpg

They Don't Look A Day Over 220

Although I'm an Army veteran — and proud of it! — sometimes I wish I'd been a Marine.

"Happy Birthday, Marines. Semper Fidelis, and Keep Attacking!"

Sleepy Weasel

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I always thought the naming of military operations was something of a minor art form. Once upon a time, names were made up on the spot by a commander or one of his staff officers.

  • "Overlord" — the D-Day invasion of France. The all-time classic name.
  • "Torch" — the invasion of North Africa in 1943 (during which many Vichy French soldiers surrendered or assumed room temperature) which ultimately helped defeat Rommel's vaunted Afrika Korps.
  • "Market-Garden" — the airborne invasion of Holland depicted in the film A Bridge Too Far.
  • "Urgent Fury" — the invasion of Grenada.
  • "Tidal Wave" — the bombing of oil refineries in and around Ploesti, Romania in August of 1943.

["Tidal Wave" is my all-time favorite-to-study combat mission in all of history. 178 B-24 "Liberator" heavy bombers flew at tree-top level, right into the muzzles of the flak cannons, in an attempt to destroy a portion of Germany's oil-refining capability. Such courage is hard to fathom. 30% of the aircraft were lost, and the aircrews suffered 55% casualties. Five Medals of Honor were awarded for the mission, three posthumously. And I'll bet a dollar that you never even heard of it before now.]

Later, names were made by pulling two random words from a sort of operation name generator book. Now I suppose they're generated by a computer.

The point of an operation name wasn't to have something catchy for the press release. OPSEC — Operations Security — was not something to be taken lightly. The name of an operation was thus supposed to be a reference term that would not give away the objective of the operation. A hypothetical German agent in 1944 London overhearing the phrase "Operation Overlord" would have had no idea to what it referred.

Then came the era of Pentagon press awareness. Suddenly, the name of an operation was not a trivia item to be memorized by bored high school history students 30 years later, it became the chapter name for textbooks yet to be written.

  • "Just Cause" — Panama.
  • "Desert Shield / Desert Storm" — duh.
  • "Iraqi Freedom" — biggest duh of them all.

The Pentagon really needs to fire the staffer who came up with "Operation Iraqi Freedom." "Operation Sleepy Weasel" would have been a more OPSEC-conscious name.

And today begins "Phantom Fury," the taking of Fallujah. Sanity appears to have returned to the Operations staff, as far as naming operations goes. It sure beats "Operation Urban Brawl" or "Operation Take Fallujah." And three or four months ago, when planning for Phantom Fury began, the name would have given no indication of intent to any possible eavesdroppers.

As a side note: a number of years ago the Pentagon decided that frivolous or non-serious names were inappropriate. Indeed. Good men were and are killed on these operations. No one wants to hear that their son has died in action, and it would be an outrage to tell parents that their son had died in "Operation Fluffy Bunny."


Late, late update – 12Aug2005: John at Castle Argghhh! goes into much greater detail on the topic. Definitely recommended reading.

No sir, Yassir

Murderous scumbag über-terrorist Yasser Arafat is a bit farther under the weather today than he was just a couple days ago:

Arafat's condition deteriorated sharply on Wednesday and he was rushed into intensive care at the French military hospital where he has been undergoing treatment for a week.

Under the weather... I'll be happier when he's under the dirt... six feet under, in fact.

Whatever is physically wrong with him, I hope it hurts. I hope he feels the pain of every life he has stolen, of every life he has ruined.

E-9

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Hoo-AH!!!

Sgt. Hook is soon to be Sergeant Major Hook. Good things do happen to good men.

Beating the AP

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On various blogs, such as INDC Journal, I've recently seen AP photos of a theatre marquee in the "Little Kabul" section of Fremont, CA.

The Associated Press must be a bit slow these days. I blogged a picture (taken by a correspondent of mine) of the same theatre, with a slightly different message on the marquee, back in June.

Why do we need the AP at all, when there are thousands of "reporters" out there with digital cameras and IP addresses? For an air of respectability? Heck, I lost my respect for the MSM long ago.

Maybe we need them as a "distribution channel" — an index, of sorts — for the news. Well, heck, I read Instapundit (for example) every day.

Alan at the Command Post had a few thoughts on the matter, delivered in person to the AP managing editors, but worth a read by anyone interested in news.

Fighting Terrorism

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Folks, THIS is what it's all about — an Afghan woman votes for the first time:

afghan woman votes for the first time

(Picture shamelessly stolen from Bill @ INDC Journal, who also comments on the tremendous victory of a key ally in the War on Terrorism.)

Required Reading

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Bill Whittle has a new essay. It's pure Whittle, and it's a winner.

It would be nice to live in a world full of liberals. I say that as a staunch conservative. It would be nice to live in a world that behaved like a Hollywood party or a university campus, filled with kind, educated people with lots to lose, who cherish reason and responsibility and are incapable of brutal, violent acts. If all the world were filled with decent, compassionate, rational people, life would be a bouquet.

But it’s not. There are bad people who do bad things, and there are bad countries run by bad people who do bad things who eat the kind and gentle people for breakfast. There is no denying this. Therefore, liberals are insane.

It’s a damn shame, it really is.

You are required to read The whole thing: DETERRENCE, Part 1 and Part 2. (Or just go here and start reading from the top down.)

Quote of the Day

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Command Sergeant Major Phillip Shriver:

Drop and give me 20.

(as reported by the Army News Service.)

Honorary CSM Shriver is 7 years old.

Link via Blackfive. Read the whole thing, and marvel at the love a kid can have for soldiers — and vice-versa.

The Friend of My Enemy...

... is my enemy.

[Italian diplomats] say that France's intelligence services used an Italian-born middle-man to circulate a mixture of genuine and bogus documents to "trap" the two leading proponents of war with Saddam into making unsupportable claims.

Golly... I wonder why?

According to an account given to The Sunday Telegraph, France was driven by "a cold desire to protect their privileged, dominant trading relationship with Saddam, which in the case of war would have been at risk".

I'll bet the folks in the prosecutor's office of the International Criminal Court would like to have a chat with Jacques Chirac and Dominique DeVillepan (who is a man).

Oh. No, I guess they wouldn't.

Via Mr. Minority.

Beslan

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At Command Post, a timeline of the terrorist atrocity in Russia.

They killed over a hundred kids. Blew them up. Shot them in the back as they fled.

As for the terrorists and their supporters... I'm not in the "kill them all — let God sort them out" camp, but I'm more inclined than ever to keep directions to the campground handy.

Understanding Freedom Fighters

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I've already thown up enough in the last 24 hours. If I hadn't, I'd be likely to take David Kaspar's advice.

(Via Glenn, who has a roundup on the Russian situation.)

Current Affairs

Western nations have been assaulted by the forces of a radical ideology, bent on conquest.

They have struck at the leading nation of the West, and have voiced their desire to conquer, enslave and convert the world. They mean it. They have thousands of willing servants, while the nations of the West are divided and bickering.

France [*spit*] has allied itself with the enemies of the West.

One man, though, has seen the danger and has acted to stop it. He built a coalition. Coalition troops have gone off to the field of battle and have been victorious.

Thus we have a brief summary of the world today.

Right? Yes, indeed it is.

But...

The More Things Change...

I'm re-reading one of my favorite books, Men of War, the second volume of the There Will Be War series edited (and in large part written) by Jerry Pournelle. Dr. Pournelle is more than a "mere" science fiction author — he's also a respected academic with a large body of work to his credit, including a key role in the formulation of the Strategic Defense Initiative.

Now out of print, but still available through used-book outlets, the book consists of non-fiction essays and short fiction stories, and was published at a time when the Soviet danger was at or near its maximum. Twenty years later, it is fascinating to read what some very smart people had to say about the nature of threats against us. Take, for example, the following passages, written by Dr. Stefan Possony in 1968 about "Technological War":

The United States is at war.... Except for financial sacrifices, many citizens of the West and subjects of Communism may be unaware of the conflict until the decisive moment, if it ever comes, is upon them. For all that, the Technological War is most real, and we must understand its nature, for it is decisive. Our survival depends on our not losing this battle.

The nature of both technology and the enemy dictate this state of warfare. The U.S.S.R. is a power-oriented dictatorship, whose official doctrine is Communism: that is, a chiliastic movement which seeks to liberate — we would say enslave — the entire earth.

Written in '68, but sounds familiar, no? For "communism" substitute "Islamofascism," and for "U.S.S.R." substitute "Muslim part of the world" or "caliphate" or the synonym of your choice.

We can be thankful, at least, that major new technologies are not being developed by our current enemies, though they are perfectly happy to use our technology when they can get it. What we do have to worry about, however, is new methodologies used to employ old technology.

They can't build airliners — they can only crash them into targets, but that's bad enough.

Further along, we read:

Moreover, aggressive actions may occur because of internal pressures, especially in a period when faith in Communism as an ideological system is declining, and it is possible, though unlikely, that aggressive initiatives will be taken by non-Communist states. Despite all those implications the U.S.S.R. is the single most important and strongest opponent of the United States. Consequently, American strategists must primarily be concerned with Soviet strategy and the threat posed by the U.S.S.R.

In my humble estimation, I think this paragraph would apply equally to Islamofascism and to the Peoples' Republic of China. China is a threat — and they are investing heavily in technology. Thus far they've mainly stolen it (for example, see the recently settled Cisco Systems lawsuit against Huawei) but in short order, they will be developing new technologies to compete with and ultimately defeat the West.

[I've often said that I think we'll be in a shooting war with China in the not too distant future — I started, ten or fifteen years ago, by suggesting 2025 as a "due date," but I'm now less optimistic about the number of years we have remaining. Thanks a lot, Clinton & Schwartz. Bastards.]

It must be emphasized that to the committed Communist, there are no ideological reasons for not exploiting advantages over the capitalists. The only possible objections are operational. No communist can admit that a capitalist government is legitimate; thus there can be no "mercy" to a vulnerable capitalist regime.

Again, this applies rather accurately to the current state of Islamic radicalism. Our governments, institutions and religions are, to their way of thinking, illegitimate. The only options they leave for us to choose from are death, dhimmitude, or victory.

The entire essay (more precisely, a chapter from the book The Strategy of Technology) is well worth reading, but may be difficult to acquire. Fortunately, an updated edition of the complete book is available online at Dr. Pournelle's site. This is not light reading, folks. But valuable, very valuable.

Calling All Military Linguists

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Apropos of my previous post....

In the year(+) since I began this blog over, I've encountered more former (and current) military linguists than I had in the decade(+) since I left the service in 1992. There are even several that I know of in my blogrolls. (Here, here, here and here.) (And here.)

Nathan over at Brain Fertilizer has a great idea for an alliance of military linguists.

How very cunning of him.

If you are a member of that elite club, go and drop him a comment. I'm going to try my mad photoshopping skills and see if I can come up with a logo and/or button graphic.

Stephen, the VodkaPundit, points out one of the major problems likely to be problematic for our collection of electronic and communication intelligence: the sheer rate and volume of potential "target" traffic in an age of e-mail, cell- and sat-phones, and cheap encryption.

He then asks:

Would any readers with actual signals intelligence experience like to weigh in on this, in a strictly unclassified manner?
Your humble host has a bit of experience in this realm.

This is somewhat tangential to the issue raised, and I may ramble a bit - there's a lot of ground to cover and I'm writing "off the cuff," so to speak. And I'm long-winded. And I'm not going to be able to address, even in an unclassified manner, all the possible things pertaining to Electronic Warfare and Signal Intelligence — there's just too much ground to cover.

As I think I've mentioned once or twice here, I was an Electronic Warfare/Signal Intelligence (EW/SIGINT) Voice Intercept Operator (Korean), Army MOS 98G, from '86 to '92, rising to the lofty and exalted rank of Sergeant before being sidelined by a back injury. [sigh.]

Stephen, as noted above, points out what must be a serious problem for the SIGINT community — the volume of traffic and the methods of transmission now available would appear to combine in such a way that "sorting the wheat from the chaff" is at the very least an order of magnitude harder than it was even a decade ago.

My experience is over a decade ago, but I think I can surmise that there are almost certainly plenty of methods that our guys can and do use to "sniff" the new transmission media, but once you have what you think is a kernel of wheat, you probably still have to decrypt it.

I worked in the radio jamming and intercept arena at the battlefield tactical level. [Note the name of this blog, eh?] I expect that things at the "tactical" level haven't changed quite as much as at the "strategic" level, except that radio signal encryption technology has probably become more widespread. [When I was in the Army, we had a near-monopoly on battlefield radio encryption - now it's much cheaper and easier.] Add frequency-hopping to the mix, and you have real problems if you're the intercepter.

To counter this, one of the missions of the EW side of the business is to screw with the bad guys' commo to the point where they have to transmit "in the clear," perhaps sending a message more than once, in order to get the message through.

Jamming, as a method of screwing with the bad guys, had three main tactics in my day, two of which were common, and one pretty difficult and rare. I imagine things haven't changed altogether too much in the intervening years.

The first (and the one that springs to most peoples' minds when you say "jamming") is to simply deny the use of a method of communication to the enemy. For instance, if you know that an enemy infantry division is using a certain set of radio frequencies for their command and control, you could simply blanket that particular radio frequency band with so much noise that no one can communicate at all. In the realm of internet communication, I suppose that would be analogous to flooding T1 lines (etc.) with random bits.

The effect of this is to force the enemy to use other (and, theoretically, less secure and effective) methods of communication, which would hamper their operations and make them more likely to be intercepted.

The second method, more devious, would be to try to screw with the enemy just enough that they have to either transmit the same information over and over, or so that they drop whatever encryption protocol that might be in place - making it more likely to be successfully intercepted. This is also effective it your colleagues on the intercept side of the business are trying to get a Direction Finding "fix" on the transmitter location for potential targeting: more transmissions means a better "fix" on the enemy location.

I suppose an internet analogy would be to "flip" a few bits in an encrypted e-mail so that the receiver knows he has received an e-mail, but that it's been garbled. He will either have to have it re-sent, or perhaps will drop the encryption altogether, if it's believed that the encryption is the problem. Or he may just pick up the phone. In any case, interception could be more likely.

A third, most devious method, is what is called "Imitative Communication Deception" - pretending to be one of the enemy. This is the most difficult thing I can think of at the moment, and it probably would not work if the two communicating parties know each other... but it can work well on the battlefield, where the people talking to each other on the radio often do NOT know each other well enough to recognize an imposter. But you need superior language skills to pull this one off. I was never that good a linguist.

I haven't even really touched much on the "Intercept" side of the SIGINT world yet, but that's all I have the time to write at the moment (Real Life intrudes yet again). Feel free to comment — I will try to answer any questions.

Qualification

It seems like every day on the news, someone from the House or Senate is being asked their opinion on matters of national security and intelligence, e.g., the 9/11 commission.

It is remarkably rare that I ever think any of our elected representatives knows as much or more than I do about how intel works, and in almost all cases, their public pronouncements are designed for political effect rather than to convey the truth.

I am certain that virtually no one in the media understands how intel works. Of those who do, most simply don't care, or (worse) they play on the ignorance of politicians and the public when publishing their "news" in order to push a particular agenda. Case in point: the media, in lockstep, completely and uniformly mischaracterized the preliminary report from the 9/11 commission.

I expect the Senate Select Intelligence Committee report on pre-Iraq-War intelligence being released today will be more of the same — a kernel of truth, surrounded by a cocoon of spin, particularly by those who don't like the report's conclusions.

Yes, I know a thing or three about intelligence.

I was once a small cog in the military intelligence machine. I had to be smart enough and had to pass tests to to qualify for the training, had to go through a couple years of extremely specialized schooling, and had to undergo a long bout of rectal microscopy to get a security clearance.

I don't think even 5% of our national-level politicians could successfully get even that far. And all that was what had to be done before I could serve my country in the real world. The hard work came after the training.

Politicians, on the other hand, only have to win their periodic popularity contests.

But I'm reasonably confident I couldn't do that.

Update: did you see Senator Rockefeller at the news conference? That's what I mean by spin: taking basic facts and overlaying your own veneer of opinion to try to score political points.

Support those left behind

Having myself been a ROTC cadet for a couple years in college, and having been in the service for a number of years, I know that some day I might hear of the loss of one of my old friends.

Bill of INDC Journal has posted about an old friend of his who was recently killed in Afghanistan.

Captain Dan Eggers left behind a wife and two young children. They could use your support.

Citizen? Oh, really?

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One of the Supreme Court decisions handed down today was for the case of Hamdi v Rumsfeld.

The question in the Hamdi case was "how do we treat American citizens in wartime?"

The question should have been "why do we treat Hamdi as a citizen in the first place?"

Clearly, it is past time to rethink the way in which the 14th Amendment is applied. Being born within the borders of the US should not, by itself, be the sole criterion for citizenship.

Some people know - and care

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One of the folks I receive e-mail from, on one of the many mailing lists to which I am subscribed, sent this:

Attached is a photo I took a couple of weeks ago of a movie theater in Fremont [California]. You may know that Fremont has the largest single population of Afghani people outside of Afghanistan.
Actually, I didn't know.

Afgan-Thanks-thumb.gif
(Click to view larger image)

He concludes:

You won't see this one on the news.
Indeed not. But we – and the Afghan people, over here and over there – know the story.

Not getting the message

To: Islamofascist goat-rapers, camel-lovers and paederasts
Re: the murder of Paul Johnson

Apparently you either did not receive or you failed to read my previous memo. I suspect the latter, as your education — such as it is — has obviously left much to be desired.

Either way, you just don't get it.

We as a nation can sustain many individual murders. Each is a tragedy for the family involved. And yet we continue to hold ourselves back from unleashing our full fury. We can still afford to.

But, as I have noted before, our forbearance will not last forever.

Understand me, here: we American people will not long restrain our wrath. It will not take many more such incidents before we will demand that our forces, either military or covert, begin to exact a toll against you that you will not be able to pay but once and for all time.

The manner and method of our response will be of our choosing. You have no say whatsoever in the matter. Continue on the path you are on, and it will not be long before all the things you accuse us of will actually begin to happen.

Your homelands will feel the tread of American boots.

Your families will receive visits by armed men in the middle of the night.

Your homes will be destroyed and your fields sown with salt.

Your governments will be replaced.

You and your comrades, when taken alive, will receive the treatment accorded by the laws of war: interrogation followed by summary execution.

Our mercy and compassion will be reserved only for the children. Our children and, yes, yours. Our future generations. But your children will not be allowed to follow in your ways. You will have no posterity.

And that's if we are successful. If we are unsuccessful, your dreams of a new Caliphate will end in fire.

It's you versus us. We choose us.

Update: an excellent summation at XRLQ.

Update 2: Jeff reports that the perp and a pair of his fellow thugs have been killed. Three down, several hundred thousand (?) to go.

Memory

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There have been many excellent things you should read (or which ought to be re-read) for Memorial Day this year.

John of Castle Argghhh!!! has the tale of a young Lieutenant's final homecoming in Memorial Day 2004.

BlackFive notes Memorial Day - Marine Lance Corporal Andrew Zabierek - Never Forgotten. Also see Taking Chance Home, and indeed, his entire Bonds That Shall Never Be Broken archive.
He has more here and here, too.

The DoggerelPundit surpasses himself with Elements of Chance. Don't miss this one, folks.

Citizen Smash (the Indepundit) asks: "What does Memorial Day mean to you?"

Jen Martinez posts A Time To Remember. Also see In Memoriam.

Rhesa at Creative Slips has a photo you should see.

The Emigre with a Digital Cluebat follows up on a BlackFive post.

Donnah, the Florida Cracker, on Honor and Glory. See also this post.

Jeff Jarvis on what we fight against.

Stephen Den Beste's piece on the price of heroism is a must-read.

Lots of people have been pointing to this video tribute.

Val Prieto on weekend plans.

Command Post readers will be telling their stories.

Over at PowerLine is "Memorial and Remonstrance."

Mostly Cajun has family remembrances and more. (If the link doesn't work, scroll down to "Memorial Day.")

At National Review Online, James Robbins writes "Recognizing Heroes."

Also at NRO, Kate O'Beirne tells us about The Soldiers You Never Hear About.

Townhall.com republishes President Reagan's remarks given at Normandy on the 40th anniversary of D-Day.

Oliver North on Memorial Day, Then and Now.

Jim of Smoke On The Water gives us For Love Of Country.

J.R. has A Memorial Day Tribute.

Beck at Incite posts his Memorial Day Memories.

Emperor Misha I comments on a recent story of selfless and heroic sacrifice. And don't miss this post.

Cox & Forkum: Futures.

Brilliant as always is Mark Steyn.

James Joyner of Outside the Beltway has a wrap-up of WWII Memorial dedication coverage.

Jim of Parkway Rest Stop advises us to take a minute.

Windrider posts photos from the WWII Memorial at Silent Running.

AnalogKid at Random Nuclear Strikes has a photo essay, as well.

Ith at Absinthe & Cookies has a photo and a prayer., and follows with her comments on the National Memorial Day concert.

Ptah at Crusader War College reminds us that the living deserve thanks, too.

So does Susanna at Cut on the Bias, here. She has this post with photos, too.

Jeff of Alphecca has photos from Arlington.

Instapundit Glenn Reynolds has some links you should see.

The Mudville Gazette has another collection of links from milbloggers.

Moe at Occam's Toothbrush gets right to the point.

Aaron of Pardon My English has some thoughts.

Sgt Hook, currently serving in Afghanistan, has a list.

Tom Paine of Silent Running has stories.

Eric at Who Tends The Fires posts "The Holiday That Gets Forgotten." [Not if I have anything to say about it, it won't - Russ]

At Random Numbers, on heroes.

Dean Esmay has a number of posts. Just click and start reading.

Jeff the Backcountry Conservative posts about a Medal of Honor recipient. He, too, has collected a lot of links, which I will not try to duplicate here.

Pudge at Right Wingin' It says "remember to remember."

John of Balloon Juice presents us with a list.

Frank J. of IMAO fame gets uncharacteristically serious.

Kim du Toit remembers one particular man.

SlagleRock offers some personal observations.

Jeff Goldstein of protein wisdom talks back.

Serenity salutes.

Stephen Green, VodkaPundit, recalls a speech.

Matt at Stars n Stripes posts a followup news item about one example of America's best.

Candy at Candy Universe has her thoughts for the day.

Joe at Cold Fury notes his family's record of service.

[I'm done searching for links to add to this post. However, if you see something that ought to be here but isn't, please let me know - Russ]

Team Spirit

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While in the Army, I took hundreds of pictures. Though not a gifted photographer, my camera came with me whenever our unit went to the field. Naturally, I don't appear in many of those pictures.

I hope to be posting some of those in the future, as I get them scanned. In the meantime, here's a photo of my own Band of Brothers (and a couple of Sisters), taken in Korea at the conclusion of Team Spirit 1990.

First Platoon, A Company, 102nd MI Battalion:

ts90-thumb.gif

(Click the picture for a full-size version.)

One Veteran

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Russell L. Emerson, my grandfather, enlisted in the Washington State National Guard, and served in the Field Artillery in France during the First World War. A number of the artifacts of his military service -- his medals, his marksmanship badge, and a set of Captain's bars, among others -- are kept at my Mom's home.

Russell L. Emerson

He came home after the war and lived his life. I'm pretty sure he was a Federal Marshall, but I've never been too clear on that.

He was felled by a heart attack in 1939, and is interred at San Francisco National Cemetery.

One of my most treasured posessions is the presentation flag from his funeral.

I wish I'd known him.

Memorial Day

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John of Castle Argghhh has posted.. well, my words aren't enough.

Read it.

And remember.

Quote of the Day

If you're not already reading every word written by the DoggerelPundit, shame on you.

Then how are we to take the measure say,
When Tillman, Chance, or Dunham—others fall.
Why, see them as they are! they willing weigh
Their measure, simply said, at all for all.

Outside them, never shortage drought or dearth
Of disaffected, boasting pained complaint.
Yea, betters show us duty on this earth,
And some are something very near a saint.

Though Heroes live and die to scattered care,
There’s honor understanding honor’s guard.
Reflect and ponder; who is willing there
And why, it is so quiet in your yard.

Read the whole thing.

Heroism

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Stephen Den Beste writes about the film Battle of Britain. Not a review of the film, as such, nor of the DVD (as I did last August). No, he writes the sort of review I wish I'd written.

It's about why men fight, and about heroes:

Real heroes feel pride, but it is not pride in being an unusual man, better than those around him. Far more often it is pride in having been part of an unusual group. If you press them, you'll find that they will say that their fellows were better than they were. They will brag about the achievements of other men they served with, but will downplay their own.
I'm put in mind of something said at the conclusion of the documentary We Stand Alone Together, the recollections of the real men of Easy Company, 506th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 101st Airborne Division, whose story was told in the mini-series Band of Brothers. Richard D. Winters, who commanded Easy Company from D-Day through Operation Market Garden, recalls part of a letter he received from one of his men many years after the war:
I cherish the memories of a question my grandson asked me the other day, when he said "Grandpa, were you a hero in the war?" Grandpa said "No, but I served with a company of heroes."
I received the DVD set of Band of Brothers for my birthday. I know how I'll be spending my Memorial Day.

Prejudices Reinforced

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From today's Best of the Web comes this series of quotes taken from people in North Korea about Abu Ghraib:

"I was shocked to see the pictures of naked Iraqi prisoners on television and in the newspapers," said Kim Sun-Ok, a 31-year-old employee working at a state telecommunications company.

"Most of my colleagues are saying the abuse is inhumane and cruel," the female Pyongyang resident said. "I think the Americans are like wild wolves that attack people without mercy."

Un Kyong-Hi, a college researcher in her 20s, said the abuses reinforced negative perceptions about the Stalinist state's ideological foe.

"Many people have seen pictures of the abuse, which is the top international news here. People's ideas that the United States is a barbarian country are being reinforced."

Peoples' ideas reinforced, indeed.

Where do you suppose they got those ideas in the first place?

The North Korean state propaganda machine has only three real themes:

  1. Hurray for our leader.
  2. Ju-che ("self-reliance") is good.
  3. Americans are evil.
One tactic the Norks have engaged in over the years is to use photos of the results of communist atrocities as "evidence" that American soldiers are barbaric murderers.

The photos they typically use are pictures taken by GIs at mass grave sites discovered after the retreat of the North Korean People's Army (NKPA). But since the photos, like the two below, show GIs with the bodies of the dead civilians they found, the propaganda trolls simply fabricate a caption (sort of like Micah Wright). It's apparently been effective.

Mrdrciv.gif

Korean-mass-grave.gif

Again, these are photos of civilians murdered by the NKPA, discovered by American and allied forces after the NKPA retreat.

Imagine what they do these days with their pirated copies of Photoshop.

Over the years, our MPs have been chosen for particular attention from the propagandists. There is one photo I've seen (but can't find) that shows an American MP in full regalia guarding an enormous number of bodies found, stacked up, after the liberation of Seoul. Naturally, the Norks claim that MPs killed all those civilians. Even now, when the Norks want to make a point in a children's cartoon or on a poster, their "villain" will often be dressed as an MP.

The behavior of the handful of miscreants at Abu Ghraib surely hasn't helped.

It might also be instructive to remember that, as in the Soviet Union, "man on the street" interviews in North Korea are nothing but a Nork propaganda exercise. There is zero chance that any information that might show US forces in a good light would ever be shown to the people of North Korea, and there is zero chance that person would speak against the wishes of the State -- not if they don't want to end up in a grave like in those pictures.

Forget your weekend plans

Unless you're an exceptionally fast reader (like Yours Truly) you may want to cancel those plans you've made for the rest of the day today.

Bill Whittle of Eject! Eject! Eject! has committed another act (in two parts) of extreme bloggery.

Read Strength (part 1).

Then read Strength (part 2).

I include here the comment I made to Bill:

Occasionally I get the feeling we need more men like Sullivan Ballou... then I stop and think: we have thousands and millions of them. Some are already in uniform. Many more have already served and are now too old or too broken to rejoin the service.

And some are like the impossibly young highschool girl who rang up my grocery purchases the other day, who is in the Delayed Entry Program, who enlisted with no particular MOS in mind, just "the needs of the service," and who knows she'll be going - and wants to be going - overseas when her training is complete.

With such people standing out in front, we owe them nothing less than to keep "the house" ready for their eventual return.

So... when does the book come out?

I'll buy that book, you bet.

What is the Spirit of the Bayonet?

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To KILL!!!

Outnumbered British soldiers killed 35 Iraqi attackers in the Army’s first bayonet charge since the Falklands War 22 years ago.

The fearless Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders stormed rebel positions after being ambushed and pinned down.

Despite being outnumbered five to one, they suffered only three minor wounds in the hand-to-hand fighting near the city of Amara.

(Via Misha.)

Who lied?

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"Oh, you mean those WMD...."

(Via LT Smash, who also has a roundup of blog reactions.)

Memorandum

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To: Subhuman Islamofascist Scumbags
CC: Fifth-columnist fellow-travellers, J. Chirac

You have seen the pictures from Abu Ghraib, and are now using them as an excuse to continue your murderous ways... not that you ever needed an excuse before.

You think the humiliation inflicted on your imprisoned fellow terrorists was the height of American infidel behavior? You think that was a terrible and unforgiveable offense?

You think the murder of an innocent civilian is supposed to be justified by that? You suppose that beheading Nick Berg - or any of us - is an appropriate response?

It may behoove you to take note of one comparatively minor fact: the Abu Ghraib incident was the behavior of a small group of bored, jaded, poorly-trained rogue soldiers acting independently, without the sanction of the United States.

Just imagine what we will do to you if we, as a nation, get really pissed off and then act on it.

The only reason these poor excuses for soldiers are being prosecuted is because we had decided to extend the benefits of Geneva Convention coverage to your terrorist buddies. We didn't have to. Indeed, the laws of war would allow our troops to summarily execute anyone captured while illegally engaging in combat.

We're above that. We can afford to be magnanimous... for now.

Our magnanimity, patience and forbearance will not stretch infinitely. If and when the breaking point is reached, neither you nor your cause will survive. Even the continued existence of your people and culture would be in danger. We destroyed two nations and killed millions of their young men during a single war in the 20th century. What makes you think that we would hesitate to do so again if it became necessary? If it comes down to "us versus you," what makes you think we wouldn't choose "us?"

Some people claim to want nothing more than peace and stability in the Middle East. Think on this:

How stable would the region be if your deserts were converted to radioactive glass? How peaceful, if your cities were made into radioactive rubble?

Thank you for your attention to this matter,
The Management

Update: More info (and more vociferously presented) on the subject from Emperor Misha I, plus the world's longest comment thread. Well, the longest I've personally seen.

Update, 6/17/04: Bill Hobbs has similar thoughts.

Update, 6/18/04: See also my followup post.

Update, 6/15/05: More from Rusty Shackleford at The Jawa Report — "Anything short of summary execution is us simply being nice for its own sake!"

Equivalence

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How many of those Iraqis in Abu Ghraib were treated like this?

Do you suppose there will be an investigation by the perpetrators' chain of command?

Do you suppose the Berg family will get an apology?

I didn't think so.

Guerrillas, then and now

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Several months ago, I wrote about werewolves. Not the hairy kind of creature from legend and lore, but the all-too-real kind of die-hard never-surrender Nazi.

The History Channel program I referred to, "Nazi Guerillas," will repeat tonight (11May) at 6pm and Thursday (13May) at 8pm Eastern (other timezones may vary -- check your local listings.)

Note that the program was originally created and aired before the capture of Saddam Hussein. In an effort to draw parallels between the situation in Iraq and that in postwar Germany, it makes mention of the fact that at that point Hussein had not yet been captured.

Nevertheless, as a history lesson applicable to today's reality, I cannot recommend it highly enough.

Update: Added show time for 13 May.

Bite me, Ted Koppel

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As I'm sure everyone knows by now, Ted "Is it really sweeps?" Koppel plans to read a list of the combat casualties we have suffered in Iraq. A "tribute," he says.

Really. Pull the other one, Ted.

There are a few names I'm sure he'll neglect to mention.

Sacrifice

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Pat Tillman could have stayed home. He could have sat on the pile of money he earned for playing a game.

But no. He recognized that there were bigger things in life than football, money and fame, that there were things more important than himself. He gave up fame and fortune to serve his country, and to serve us.

Even if he had spent his entire hitch stateside in a comparatively safe military specialty, his sacrifice was greater than that of virtually everyone who has ever enlisted. Merely by signing on the dotted line, raising his hand and taking the oath, he gave up more to wear his country's uniform than any of his fellow soldiers did.

For that sacrifice alone, he deserved praise. These days, how many others of the "rich and famous" in this country would go so far as to enlist? Have you heard of any? Are there more Ted Williams, Jimmy Stewarts or Pat Tillmans?

I haven't heard of any. I don't expect to hear its like any time soon. I hope I'm wrong.

Tillman could have signed on for any number of military specialties that would have been comparatively risk-free, but chose to put himself into an inherently risky specialty, as an airborne Ranger. It was his duty, he said, to give something back to the country that had enabled his great success.

He gave up fame and fortune, but he could have had that again -- perhaps to a greater degree -- after his service was complete.

Yesterday, though, he made the exact same sacrifice as thousands of Americans have through our history -- he gave everything in the service of his country. He -- and they -- fight and die over there so you and I don't have to do so over here.

Pat Tillman is undoubtedly the most famous of the soldiers we have lost in this war. Had he lived, he would have returned home after his service to great praise and fame. He would have earned it, too, merely by giving up as much as he did to serve, while no one of similar circumstances has done so.

In death, however, he surpasses the fame of those who have stayed home. People will quickly forget the names of those who are playing football this year, but Pat Tillman will be long remembered.

He has become equal to all the fallen soldiers whose passing is rarely noted by more than a headline in a hometown newspaper. Perhaps his death will serve to shine a light on the courage and sacrifices of all those who put on the uniform in the service of their country, especially those who fall in that service.

We always hope America will never need men of such quality; but we also pray that when we do need them, we will have them in abundance.

Negotiations

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The current holder of the "biggest a-hole in Iraq" title, Moqtada al-Sadr, has decided that maybe, just maybe, it might be time to surrender to negotiate with the Americans.

As we used to say in the Army, "there is no problem that cannot be solved by the suitable application of high explosives."

Post on Monday, follow up on Tuesday

Bret Stephens, writing at OpinionJournal.com, follows through on what I wrote yesterday. OK, OK, he was making a different point than I was, but it's still an excellent read.

Among other points, Mr. Stephens makes the case that deterrence might actually be a more valuable rationale than I noted yesterday.

To date, there has not been a single instance in which a Hamas leader sent one of his own sons or daughters on a suicide mission. I once interviewed a Hamas leader, since deceased, as he bounced his one-year-old girl on his knee. Contrary to myth, this was not a man who was afraid of nothing. Unsparing as he was with the lives of others, he was circumspect when it came to the lives of his own.

Indeed, when one looks closely at just who the suicide bombers are (or were), often they turn out to be society's outcasts. Take Reem Salah al-Rahashi, a mother of two, who in January murdered four Israeli soldiers at the Erez checkpoint on the Gaza-Israel border. In a prerecorded video, Rahashi said becoming a shaheed was her lifelong dream. Later it emerged she'd been caught in an extramarital affair, and that her husband and lover had arranged her "martyrdom operation" as an honorable way to settle the matter. It is with such people, not with themselves, that Palestinian leaders attempt to demonstrate their own fearlessness.

In the early months of the intifada, this macho pretense was sustained by the Israeli government's tacit decision not to target terrorist ringleaders, for fear such attacks would inspire massive retaliation. Yassin and his closest associates considered themselves immune from Israeli reprisals and operated in the open. What followed was the bloodiest terrorist onslaught in Israeli history, climaxing in a massacre at Netanya in March 2002. After that, Israel invaded the West Bank and began to target terrorist leaders more aggressively.

The results, in terms of lives saved, were dramatic. In 2003, the number of Israeli terrorist fatalities declined by more than 50% from the previous year, to 213 from 451. The overall number of attacks also declined, to 3,823 in 2003 from 5,301 in 2002, a drop of 30%. In the spring of 2003, Israel stepped up its campaign of targeted assassinations, including a failed attempt on Yassin's deputy, Abdel Aziz Rantisi. Wise heads said Israel had done nothing except incite the Palestinians to greater violence. Instead, Hamas and other Islamic terrorist groups agreed unilaterally to a cease-fire.

[Emphasis mine.] OK. I'll gladly concede that point. If deterrence actually works, as it appears, so much the better that vermin like Yassin are made to stop breathing.

Just Desserts

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About Israel's removal of the terrorist leader Ahmed Yassin, Andrew Stuttaford in NRO's The Corner asks,

Yassin was, undeniably, a bad man and there's no need to shed many, or any, tears over him, but can anyone explain what, exactly, was achieved by his killing?
I would think the answers would be obvious: deterrence and justice.

The deterrence angle is probably the weaker of the two. People who seek "martyrdom" are not too likely to be afraid of death, unless it comes without the usual innocent civilian victims. On the other hand, we don't often see the leaders of terrorist organizations like Al Qaeda or Hamas strapping the explosives to themselves. They'd rather send gullible fanatics out to do their dirty work. You'd think they were eager to get their 72 raisins, but apparently not. So perhaps those who have "terrorist leader" as their career goal will re-think their aspirations.

Punishment seems to be a more likely reason for Israel to have whacked that evil SOB. Justice doesn't need to be done in a courtroom, after all. But justice must not only be done, it must be seen to be done... and I'd wager there's not a single Israeli who doesn't know that Yassin is now terminated. The elimination of Yassin is, for Israel, as big as or bigger than the US exterminating Usama bin Laden in a spectacularly public fashion (which I hope we do soon... assuming he's not already a puddle of decomposing slime in a cave somewhere.)

Rot in hell, Yassin.

Deploying

SGT Hook is signing off from US-based blogging as he deploys overseas with his unit.

Best of luck to you and your troops, Hook, and stay safe. You honor us all by your service.

One [more] down, ??? to go

Pity it wasn't done by firing squad or at the end of a rope, but still -- good riddance to bad rubbish.

Where's my DD-214?

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Well, well, well.

I figure I'm eligible for the new Korean Defense Service Medal.

KDSM image

I guess 2.5 years on the DMZ does count for something.

The Recruiter's Tale

SGT Hook links to Baldilocks' takedown of those who would try to prevent our Armed Forces recruiters from doing their duty.

Hook then continues to tell his own story of having been a recruiter.

My own recruiting process went pretty smoothly -- I was far from being a "problem child" -- but I saw a little bit of the hassles the recruiters had to go through; I never once envied them their position.

Words Fail Me

Stephen the DoggerelPundit (you may have seen his link over there on the right, under "Direction Finding") isn't a post-every-day blogger.

He's better than that.

Way better than that.

In response to a tribute to President Bush by Alaa the Mesopotamian, Stephen has penned an exceptional memorial. It's far better than I can adequately describe.

I challenge you to read it, "Of Masses," without reaching for a kleenex.

"Direction Finding," indeed.

Nothing Better To Do

Thank the Good Lord that our military has enough free time on its hands to deal with threats like this.

Take care, Chief

On a more serious note, Chief Wiggles has also had a close call.

I've thought for a while that the media exposure of his "real-life identity" might make him a specific target of the die-hard Iraqi terrorists. I hope he's well protected.

(via the Puppy Blender)

Saddam's Trial

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Misha, er, "examines" the commentary at the BBC questioning the handling of Saddam, now that he's been, er, "incarcerated."

[Sorry, the link is broken, and I can't find the original post. There is, however, this at archive.org.]

The European chattering classes, and UN Secretary General Kofi Annan, want Saddam put on trial in some nice neutral place, where the worst that will happen is that he be locked away for life in the latest equivalent of Spandau. I'm sure *spit* Jacques Chirac *spit* would no doubt like to see Saddam held in comfortable house arrest somewhere on the French Riviera, where perhaps they might sometime get together to reminisce about their arms deals and their hatred of Israel. Our Friends The Saudis, who had no qualms about setting up housekeeping for Idi Amin, might even be persuaded to take him in as a retired refugee.

Anything to spare the former dictator from that tres gauche oh-so-American punishment, the death penalty.

Wrong.

Deliberately or otherwise, the EU-UN-weenies miss the point.

Understand this: the purpose of Saddam's trial is not to prove innocence or guilt. Saddam is manifestly guilty. Rather, the purpose will be to lay out the extent of his crimes for all the world to see, to count and put names to the victims, and to show despots the world over what can (and, G-d willing, will) happen to them, too.

Only then will he be hanged, or shot, or beheaded, or stoned, or be thrown off a roof, or whatever other manner of execution might be gleaned from the records kept of his tyranny.

Seriously, does anyone think there is the slightest chance he'd get off on a technicality?

Saddam's guilt is not in question, and frankly, a trial is a courtesy we offer only because we are in fact better than he is. But the result cannot be in doubt, because it is no trial. It is merely the sentencing hearing, with the only thing in question being whether Saddam spends a lifetime in Spandau, or his own personal eternity dangling at the end of a rope.

[Or perhaps *spit* Chirac *spit* would rather he'd had a "Ceaucescu" done on him? That would at least have had the benefit, from the French perspective, of shutting Saddam's mouth.]

The Hague will never have to deign to endure the touch of Saddam's shoes, nor will the ground of Geneva be soiled thereby. The free people of Iraq deserve the privilege of dealing with the monster that ruled over them so bloodily for so long. And they will.

12/30/03 UPDATE: Misha has a few more four-letter words on the subject. [Archived link.]

01/31/2006: Why am I getting so many hits on this post today? Someone linked it, but the referrer logs aren't telling me from where all y'all are coming. Someone drop me a comment, eh?

Great timing

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It just figures. I go on vacation, and the biggest punditry opportunity of the year hits the headlines.

And me with a mere 12K dialup connection. Feh.

Werewolves

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Once upon a time, there really were werewolves... and I don't mean lycanthropes.

Tonight on the History Channel: "Nazi Guerrillas," 9pm EST -- check your local listings.

People act as if the insurgency terrorist problems current in Iraq are a new phenomenon. I'll be interested in seeing what spin, if any, this program puts on the historical record.

Update: Mention of the present situation in Iraq was made only in the last few minutes of the program.

The program was careful to point out a few of the differences between Iraq and Germany:

  • German citizens were exhausted after six years of war; Iraq was defeated in six weeks.
  • Hitler's death was announced by German authorities before the surrender, whereas Saddam is still unaccounted for.

There was only one maybe/possibly objectionable quote I caught from the script:

In Iraq, much like postwar Germany, most citizens resent being occupied by a foreign power.
Well, I think the data is still out on that question.

Nevertheless, the parallels between Germany and Iraq are striking.

All in all, a very even-handed and factual program, and not even slightly political or critical.

Pearl Harbor, and a Lesson

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Today is Pearl Harbor Day.

This is the battleship U.S.S. Arizona in the 1930s:

ussarizona.gif

The U.S.S. Arizona and 1177 of her crew today:

ArizMemorial.gif

America can have a long memory. It would behoove our enemies to realize that the last time we went to war after an unprovoked attack, it ended in fire.

[More from Michelle, SGT Hook, Matt, Jeff, Charles, and Misha.]

[And from Beaker here and here. And Acidman, Mamamontezz, Aaron, Democritus, Charles, and Serenity.]

[And Mike the Marine and Eric.]

Sez the WaPo,

The Department of Defense has discharged a number of Defense Language Institute students for being gay.
Well, no. That's like saying Clinton was impeached for having an affair. He was impeached for breaking the law (perjury). They were discharged for breaking various regulations.

I was real close to fully blogging on this myself, explaining how the regs work, but Rev. Donald Sensing at One Hand Clapping beat me to it, and made the points I was going to address, but in a much more thorough manner. Go read the whole thing.

I can relate to the story to a small extent, insofar as I was a student at DLI back in '86 (before the current "don't ask don't tell" policy was put in place); there was a major scandal involving a Lieutenant and a number of NCO and enlisted trainees in my Company. It was indeed a serious disruption of the good order and discipline of the unit.

Frankly, I still think there is no absolute need to allow gays into the military. If the military services themselves (not legislators, not "blue ribbon commissions" populated with people who have never worn a uniform) determined it would not be a problem, I would accept their judgement.

But then, if the services determined that the best people for military service were crack-addled lesbian one-legged albino dwarves, so be it -- because enlisting is not a right, and because our national security is more important than the potentially hurt feelings of those not allowed to serve, for whatever reason.

Thought Exercise: Iraqi Cash

US troops this weekend killed upwards of 50 Iraqi terrorists while successfully repelling a pair of ambushes.

Why were the Iraqi "militants" (to use a term much-beloved by the media) willing to commit such a large group to an attack against a well-armed convoy? Some news reports suggest that the Iraqis had no idea what they were getting themselves into. That's fine by me -- fair fights are for the boxing ring.

A number of reports have it that the convoy was carrying large amounts of the new Iraqi currency, to be distributed to banks, etc..., for exchange with the old bills that feature Saddam's portrait.

Let us, for the moment, assume these reports to be correct, if for no other reason than to allow me to suggest some possibilities and make some conjectures.

Were these ambushes merely glorified stagecoach holdups?

I think there's more to it than that. I think if the terrorists don't get their hands on a huge pile of the New Iraqi Dinars, their operations will end. They need that cash.

If Saddam and his henchmen are coordinating the enemy forces, numbered Swiss bank accounts simply won't do -- they require large amounts of cold hard cash. Undoubtedly, they have rather large stockpiles of the old currency -- it's not as though Saddam can head to the nearest ATM every time he has to pay a terrorist for an attack, or when he needs to pay off a French camera crew. [tongue only slightly in cheek - Russ]

But as the new currency goes into circulation, there is a deadline for exchanging the old, 15 January 2004, after which the "Saddam currency" will be nothing more than scraps of paper suitable for any number of non-fiscal uses [use your imagination]. In short, it will be as worthless as Confederate dollars were after the surrender at Appomattox Courthouse.

Current supplies of cash are all Saddam and his cronies will have on hand, with no practical way to acquire the sheer volumes of the new cash necessary to conduct operations as they have been conducted up to this point. Anyone attempting to circulate the old currency after the changeover will be suspect, and anyone attempting to exchange huge amounts of the old bills for the new before any notional deadline will be suspect.

Yes, Saddam could use "mules" with smaller amounts of cash to do the job, the same way drug traffickers do here in the States to try to get around the cash transaction laws (you did know we have those laws, right?), but let's say each such mule carries 150,000 dinars (about $1,000) to the exchange point. That means hundreds of mules might be required.

Additionally, I think there are likely to be few Iraqis with substantial amounts of legitimately-acquired cash -- making the mules stand out all the more from the crowd. With luck, these mules will lead our forces back to Saddam or his henchmen.

A more likely benefit will be that, with the cash to pay as bounties to the terrorists drying up, the pool of "volunteers" will begin to shrink, leaving only the diehards [now there's a loaded term] willing to take the risks inherent in attacking US & coalition forces.

Some variables I haven't considered but which require additional thought: U.S. forces recovered vast amounts of U.S. currency stockpiled in Iraq. Could Saddam be paying his fedayeen in U.S. Dollars? What if the payments are being made in Saudi Riyals?

Could be worth thinking about....

Thankfulness

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I bring a message on behalf of America: We thank you for your service, we're proud of you, and America stands solidly behind you. Together, you and I have taken an oath to defend our country.
gentear.jpg
You're honoring that oath. The United States military is doing a fantastic job. You are defeating the terrorists here in Iraq, so that we don't have to face them in our own country. You're defeating Saddam's henchmen, so that the people of Iraq can live in peace and freedom.
wtear2.jpg
Each one of you has answered a great call, participating in an historic moment in world history. You live by a code of honor, of service to your nation, with the safety and the security of your fellow citizens. Our military is full of the finest people on the face of the earth. I'm proud to be your commander in chief. I bring greetings from America. May God bless you all.
I daily thank God that we have a President who is an honorable man, who genuinely cares for our troops (one of which, I might remind you, I used to be) and who has devoted himself to the protection and preservation of our nation, the "last best hope of Earth."

This is a President of whom we can and ought to be proud.

Crappy Holidays

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Oh, look. The junior Senator from New York is going on a little trip. The troops will, of course, obey their orders and attend events as directed, smiles dutifully plastered on their faces.

The last time our soldiers had a Thanksgiving this bad was 1950, when about a zillion frosty and irritable Chinese communist soldiers came pouring across the Yalu into North Korea to attack them.

Given my choice, I think I'd rather have faced the Chinese.

If nothing else, at least they made no pretense of actually caring about the well-being of our soldiers.

My kind of Army

In this morning's episode of "Combat!", a private makes a rather boneheaded mistake, something he knew in advance he shouldn't have done, and as a result another private is wounded in a skirmish with the Germans. Afterwards, the private apologizes:

Littlejohn: "I'm sorry, Sarge."

Sgt. Saunders: "Shut up."

No "Army of One" touchy-feely silliness there. No protests about the soldier's feelings being hurt. No grief counselors, either.

This is how the Army is supposed to be. I wonder how much of the Army's senior leadership, like me, grew up watching "Combat!" in either primetime or syndicated reruns?

I wonder how much of the Army's junior leadership has never even heard of it?

Remembrance

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I'm thinking back to my childhood, in the '60s. Even as young as I was, I knew it wasn't a time when being a soldier was something most people bragged about. Yet in the narthex of our church were displayed portrait photos of the young men of our congregation who had gone off to the military. I remember at least one of those photos with a black border around it -- a young man who would not be returning from Vietnam.

I remember being 8 or 9 years old and going out camping and shooting in the desert with my Dad and a dozen or so of his friends. Dad turned 18 in 1954 -- too young for Korea, too old for Vietnam -- but many of his friends were a few years older than he, and had served in World War Two or in Korea. I remember them as big men, like demigods.

I think of my Dad's friend Dick, who flew a B-29 bomber over Japan, who joked with me one day that in 1945 he had dropped bombs on the Mistubishi factory that made the car he'd just bought in the 1990s.

I remember my friend at the Defense Language Institute, whose friend & squad-mate was killed next to him in Grenada, and who cursed and cried every time he had a few beers too many, but always showed up fit for duty the next morning.

I remember the guy from my high school who graduated a year behind me, who was killed in a helicopter crash during a training mission in Kentucky.

I look at the wall above my fireplace. There hangs a photo of my grandfather, for whom I am named, who served in the artillery in France during the Great War, the "war to end all wars," World War One. I never knew him; he died in 1939 and is buried on the Presidio of San Francisco. I have his old gas mask; I have the flag which draped his coffin. His medals and his helmet are on the wall of my parents' library - some day they will be on my library wall.

I, too, am a veteran. I joined the Army when the outcome of the Cold War was still somewhat in doubt, and by the time I left I had seen the fall of the Berlin Wall, and then of the Soviet Union. Had I not been injured, I would probably still be in uniform today. My service was for the most part unremarkable, certainly not compared to the people I've known. But yes, I'm proud of the small part I played, and would do it all over again.

And nowadays, I see the kids serving in Iraq, in Afghanistan - they are making sacrifices, and making History. I'm proud of them. This nation should be proud of them, and of all who have served and sacrificed.

Tradition

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Long ago, Acidman had a bad experience with gin. Now, he's on speaking terms with it, at least. Good.

In 1988, I had just been posted to Korea, and our "op-tempo" was pretty high. From April until September of that year, our routine was to spend 3 or 4 weeks in the field, up near the DMZ, then three or four days in garrison, refitting, before heading right back up to the DMZ for another mission.

We had a little ritual each time we deployed to the field, involving gin. We'd dress up in some decent civilian attire (which was almost invariably jeans and a button-down shirt) and head to the NCO Club on our post, Camp Hovey. There, we would consume pitchers of Gin & Tonics.

Not having been much of a gin man myself (I prefer a single-malt Scotch now, particularly Glenmorangie and The Glenlivet, and back then I was an unsophisticated Bud man, thankyouverymuch), I was rather put off by the taste, but for the sake of comradeship, a man will do a great many things he might not otherwise do.

Nowadays, every now and again, I pour some gin, add a little tonic water, and drop in a quarter of a lime. And I think of the great men with whom it was my privilege to serve.

Why G&Ts? I don't know. Someone started the ritual long before I got to Korea; I hope that the tradition has continued in 1st Platoon, A Company, 102nd MI Battalion. Confido!

Veterans Day is almost upon us again.

I'd better go buy some limes.

Military Marketeers

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Donald Sensing over at One Hand Clapping posts an unclassified Army memo from the Director of the Army Staff:

From: Lovelace, James J LTG DAS
Sent: Saturday, November 01, 2003 12:37 PM
Subject: Army Theme...message

All - the Army theme is "Our Army at War -- Relevant and Ready".

[et cetera, et cetera....]

"Relevant and Ready"???

Excuse me? Since when did the Army require a theme developed by a load of marketing weenies? How much was paid to the consultants that came up with that? This ex-Sergeant thinks the taxpayers need a refund on that miserable piece of tripe.

And why do I have visions of a Dilbert-in-uniform's Pointy-Haired-Commander running through my head?

I have an idea for a theme. Try this on for size:

"The U.S. Army - Kicking Ass and Taking Names Since 1775."

Works for me.

Death and Partisan Politics

Frank J., in today's Bite-Sized Wisdom, makes a rather serious point.

There are those in this country who proclaim their concern and support for "the troops," but who in fact delight at each casualty report for base, partisan political reasons.

After all, they themselves have never served in uniform. They know no one in the service. And they would certainly never encourage their own children to enlist.

Each death in Iraq is an opportunity for them to publicly proclaim their hatred of the President... but they care not one whit for the soldiers in the field, and would be just as happy to see a hundred casualties if it gives them an opportunity to bash the President.

... this has gone from political discourse to just being plain evil - a very mild but growing evil that show a real disconnect from one's fellow man.

There are our men and women fighting and dying out there. They are fighting for us and they are fighting for a people yearning to live free from tyranny.

I think it's more than a mild-but-growing evil - I think it is profoundly evil - but I think what Frank is saying is that there are only a few such people - so far.

The heart of the matter:

I just can't understand how the phrase "We are losing a soldier a day," can be followed by anything other than, "so let's get those [expletive] bastards."
Bingo.

Peace Creeps

The anti-American peace creeps are at it again.

They call themselves "anti-war." Nothing could be further from the truth.

It cannot be said loudly enough or often enough:

     they are not against the war - they are on the other side.

Go see the commentary from:

Boo. Hoo.

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According to the International Red Cross, the prisoners at Guantanamo aren't happy:

Wrapping up a two-month visit to the Cuban base, the organization — the only independent group with access to the approximately 650 detainees — said it found "a worrying deterioration" in mental health among many prisoners. It blamed their being held indefinitely without charges or legal counsel.

"They have no idea about their fate and they have no means of recourse at their disposal through any legal mechanism," said Florian Westphal, spokesman for the International Committee of the Red Cross.

Well, cry me a river.

Unlawful combatants moaning about being treated to three-hots-and-a-cot. Give me a second while I go borrow Misha's Imperial Nano-Violin.

Considering their alternative - being handed over to the Afghan government - they ought to be thrilled to be where they are.

(Hat tip: LGF)

Fisk of the Day

Serenity delivers a lethal fisking:

Look pal, are you here to write a novel or are you here to report the news? If you are, in fact, a REPORTER, then stick to the facts and keep your attempts at creative writing inside your Strawberry Shortcake diary at home.
You may want to wear some asbestos underwear, just in case.

Not such a surprise

More evidence of French perfidy, courtesy of The Corner.

Can we just declare them an enemy already, and have done with it?

UPDATE: Misha is right - let's allow the 48-hour rule to work on this.

Pushing Up Daisies

Terrorism apologist advocate Edward Said has died.

Pity it wasn't at the end of a rope.

Next: maybe leftist moonbat Noam Chomsky...? Well, we can only hope.

Get a rope

From LGF, via Donald Sensing, and as commented on by the Emperor Misha,

Islamic chaplain is charged as spy
By Rowan Scarborough
THE WASHINGTON TIMES
An Army Islamic chaplain, who counseled al Qaeda prisoners at the Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, naval base, has been charged with espionage, aiding the enemy and spying, The Washington Times has learned.
The article further goes on to state:
The Army has charged Capt. Yee with five offenses: sedition, aiding the enemy, spying, espionage and failure to obey a general order. The Army may also charge him later with the more serious charge of treason, which under the Uniform Code of Military Justice could be punished by a maximum sentence of life.
(Emphasis mine.)

"More serious charge of treason"? Well, yes, systematically betraying one's country is perhaps more treated more seriously than a single act of espionage... though I don't really see the difference. I'm no legal theorist. But I think "treason" is a civil crime, whereas the rest, that Lee has already been charged with, are military crimes.

But the Times reporter fails to note that under Article 106 of the Uniform Code of Military Justice,

Any person who in time of war is found lurking as a spy or acting as a spy ... shall be tried by a general court-martial or by a military commission and on conviction shall be punished by death.
I don't see anything there about "or such other punishment as a court-martial may direct" like is seen in other Articles of the UCMJ.

Good. Hang him.

I am put in mind of the treason scene in Henry V:

Hear your sentence.
You have conspir'd against our royal person,
Join'd with an enemy proclaim'd, and from his coffers
Receiv'd the golden earnest of our death;
Wherein you would have sold your king to slaughter,
His princes and his peers to servitude,
His subjects to oppression and contempt,
And his whole kingdom into desolation.
Touching our person seek we no revenge;
But we our kingdom's safety must so tender,
Whose ruin you have sought, that to her laws
We do deliver you. Get you therefore hence,
Poor miserable wretches, to your death
;
The taste whereof God of his mercy give
You patience to endure, and true repentance
Of all your dear offences.
For a 16th Century guy, Shakespeare was rather clueful.

(Update: edited slightly for clarity.)

Makes me proud

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From a report on the aftermath of Isabel:

At Arlington National Cemetery, soldiers who guard the Tomb of the Unknowns were given — for the first time ever — permission to abandon their posts and seek shelter, Superintendent John Metzler said. But they stood guard anyhow.
Bless 'em all.

UPDATE: more from Donald Sensing

Shame

Two years...

People come into our lives, we briefly get to know a little about them, and then we usually move on without a second thought, forgetting them, as though they never really existed.

Before I moved east, I knew virtually everyone at our company office in San Jose, some better than others. One of my passing acquaintances left the company in the Spring of 2001, a year after I moved away - I've neither seen nor spoken with him since.

I think about him often now.

His wife Suzanne was on American Airlines Flight 77, which struck the Pentagon on September 11, 2001.

This is the closest I came to knowing someone lost that day. Not close at all, really, not at all. I knew nothing of Frank's life outside the office, nothing whatsoever. He was a really nice guy, as decent as they come. Everyone liked him, but I knew nothing about him really, other than his "work face". I knew nothing about his wife.

I'm ashamed of my ignorance.

He has a point

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Bill Whittle, in his usual thoughtful fashion, provides some much needed clarity.

Take a moment, today – take a long moment – and imagine how just how much worse things could have gone.
Quite so.

Going on

Two years....

... and life does go on, seemingly normal, though we know the world has changed. At times it seems almost surreal to me.

The mundane intrudes into the solemnity I expected to be feeling today. A meeting at work, tons of e-mail, a professional certification exam, and I'll have to roll the trash can back up the driveway from the street later today.

That doesn't mean, though, that I won't take time to think or write.

Unintentional Allegory

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I'm not sure what was happening in the news in August, 1992 - I was still in the Army, and in fact we were in the field almost the entire month, so any news that might have happened would have escaped my attention.

But I'll tell you - my thought on seeing this cartoon from 8/21/92 was that it could have been drawn this past week, about about the situation in Israel today.

It's hard to co-exist with things that want to kill you.
Or am I reading too much into it? I expect so - Watterson wasn't an editorial cartoonist, after all.
I wonder if we could set fire to the bed without burning the house down.
Anyway, I've said it before - make Calvin & Hobbes a regular read. It's still the best.

Well Done, LT

LT Smash is home.

Lies! All Lies!

I knew it was too good to be true.

Honor, Hubris, A/C

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This article on honor (or honour, as our cousins spell it) both hits and misses a number of points.

Yes, I have a few nits to pick. Not many.

America, it seems, remains culturally divided along the Mason–Dixon line, and the crucial difference now, as at the time of the American Civil War, is honour.
I think the difference isn't the Mason Dixon line, though that plays a related role. I think the difference in modern America (and, for that matter, in other countries) is not division into North and South, but division between big city and small town and the differing values found in each.

It's now time, boys and girls, to take a little trip down the rat-hole of amateur demography...

Now, I may be talking through my hat here; I'm doing this without actual research and without a net; I'm no anthropologist, demographer, or statistician. This is off-the-cuff, nearly extemporaneous.

If the Mason-Dixon line plays any part in the aforementioned big/little city/town calculation, it is because north of the Mason-Dixon line a larger slice of the population lives in large cities; south of the line, there is a greater likelihood of living in a smaller town. The South has historically had a much smaller population than the North, and a lower population density. In 1860, there were about 20 million in the North; there were only 9 million people in what would become the Confederacy, of whom about 3 million cannot be said to have been in the South by choice (yes, I mean slaves).

Right through to today, the South is less densely populated than the North, though it is catching up to a certain extent. Why? My guess: air conditioning.

Seriously.

I don't think the South would have begun its "boom" were it not for the ready availability of inexpensive air conditioning. The stereotypical "slow lazy southern town" portrayed in "To Kill A Mockingbird" or "Mayberry RFD" is closer to being true than not. After all, who really wants to exert themselves when it's 93° out and 98% humidity? Not this ol' boy, that's fer darn sure.

But the big/little dichotomy is not just a North/South phenomenon. Most of the American West is sparsely populated. Even that most populous of states, California, has a lot of wide open territory scattered with small towns. With the majority of the population concentrated in Los Angeles, San Diego, and the San Francisco Bay area, there's a lot of land left over.

And in general, the small-town values in most of the West echo those of the South. Heck, I was born and raised in California - my hometown had about 8,000 residents, and within an hour's drive, the largest city was under 100,000. [Don't you dare call me a yankee.]

But what, exactly, does all this have to do with honor?

It's simple, I think. There is one characteristic available to the residents of large cities that is generally unavailable in smaller towns, and this trait affects personal behavior in countless ways: Anonymity.

When you are in the position of being known in your community (not famous, just known) you are more likely to behave in ways that we might describe as honorable. You'll be more polite when you know (even unconsciously) that your Mother will hear about your rudeness.

If you back away from a challenge...

In the modern era, honour is generally considered obsolete. As Guy Crouchback notes in Evelyn Waugh’s novel Officers and Gentlemen, it is a ‘thing that changes. I mean, 150 years ago we would have had to fight if challenged. Now we’d laugh.’
Or in other words, behave cowardly. Do so in a small town and you know your Father, brother, and buddies will hear about it - and on such behavior are local reputations founded. Growing up in such an environment develops characteristics in a person that will not often change.

Take the discussion to the big city - or, for that matter, to the Internet. The anonymity afforded there allows the individual to get away with behavior that would be frowned upon or simply not tolerated in a smaller community.

If none of your acquaintances knows you are a cad, you can behave in pretty much any despicable way you want. Threatened by a bully, by a mugger? Run away - no one who knows you will ever know about your cowardice. Want to troll or deface a website? No one will ever find out the vandal was you. Probably.

In summary, your personal honor - or lack thereof - both builds on and affects your personal behavior.

Paul Robinson's article makes a number of points that might tend to offend an honorable person's sense of, um, honor. It's not until we are halfway through the article that we read

The kind of honour I am referring to here is not the gentility of men such as Robert E. Lee.
Well, gee, thanks for clearing that up, Paul. I suppose I could write another screed on the differences between gentility and honor. Suffice it to say that honor usually requires a degree of gentility of behavior; gentility on its own does not guarantee honor.

Robinson, a former officer in the UK and Canada, does pack quite a few good points into the article, but that's not to say that I agree fully with everything therein. At one point he says of Jacksonians

They see the pursuit of national honour as the prime purpose of policy.
I think not. Self-preservation (by utterly defeating our mortal foes) is the prime purpose of policy.

Indeed, I think Robinson really goes off the track in his conclusion where, attempting to draw a parallel between the antebellum South and the current state of the country, he says:

As the ancient Greeks knew, the pursuit of honour often leads people to attack others, to drive them down, in order to inflate themselves. The Greeks called such behaviour hubris, and believed that hubris inevitably resulted in disaster. It certainly did for the Confederacy..
Having spent the majority of the article attempting to draw parallels - some accurate - between the Old South and the current United States, Robinson tries to suggest, not altogether subtly, that the US is "attacking others to drive them down, to inflate [our]selves." And will ultimately defeat ourselves thereby.

This is both factually and analytically incorrect. A glance at a dictionary will correct his definition of "hubris." He could begin here or here.

To suggest, however, that what the US is engaged in is "attacking others to drive them down, to inflate ourselves" is a mistake of the greatest magnitude, particularly for a former military officer.

Overwhelming manpower and force of arms applied by the Union defeated the Confederacy, not any supposed sin of national pride.

But perhaps Robinson fails to recall that bright, clear September morning less than two years ago?

On that day, we as a nation were attacked by men whose purpose was to drive us down, to inflate themselves. And so far, they have mostly been destroyed, root and branch.

Hubris, indeed.

(Article found via Betsy)

Fingers Crossed

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Uday? Qusay?

Did our boys get them?

I hope, by the end of the day today, I can say "two down, one to go."

UPDATE: Got 'em! Two Husseins down, one to go.

Korea news is no news

The only thing new about this is that it got noticed by the press.

I served in Korea 1988, '89, '90 up on the DMZ - I've seen it. It never used to make it onto the newswire - but then, the norks were never threatening to build nukes before, either.

The Past or the Future?

There is a meme afoot that must be killed, smothered now, before it is allowed to go any further.

After the looting of the Baghdad museum, a recurring theme in the media (as partially detailed by the Media Research Center) is "the US cares more for preserving Iraq's oil fields than for preserving its culture."

Well, perhaps this need not be killed, so much as converted. Fortunately, this can be done without a lot of argument, discourse, or other hullabaloo.

The correct answer when you hear accusations that "the military cares more about protecting the oil than the museums" is "Damn straight it does."

Given the forces available in Baghdad, could the museum have been protected? Sure. A platoon of Army MPs or Marines could have done the job admirably. But can the critics really be so dim as to think that GEN Franks' staff expected anything like the looting which has occurred? Some civil disturbance, sure, but if examined honestly, even the critics have to admit that no one, not even a very large set of staff officers, can anticipate every eventuality. The result of this episode, from the military's point of view, will be lesson learned, let's move on.

But this ignores the bigger issue: given a finite set of resources, what is more important to protect? Oil or antiquities?

It's actually a little more complicated than that. Perhaps the question could be better phrased; for "oil", substitute "a nation's only natural resource."

Taken to its logical conclusion, the question boils down to "is it more important to preserve the possibility of a prosperous future, or to potentially condemn a nation to years of a poverty brightened only by the opportunity to see reminders of the past?"

If the answer isn't blindingly obvious, your name is probably Peter Jennings. Or maybe Robert Fisk.

America should be less concerned with the museums than the oil: the former is the Past, contributing nothing to the people of Iraq except dreams of past glories, while the latter is the Future, with the potential to make the Iraqi people the most prosperous and free in the Persian Gulf region.

Baghdad

plante.gif

Heh. Heh heh.

*Sniff*

Acidman - usually gruff, crude, sarcastic and funny as heck - turns off the cynicism and manages to get me all sniffly.

I am put in mind of that photo of JFK Jr. saluting as his father's casket passed by... that one always tears me up.

Jamming Iraqi TV

Some of you may have figured out that once upon a time I was an electronic warfare specialist. Indeed so. I thus know a thing or two about shutting down enemy communications. Iraq TV certainly falls into this category, just as much as Radio Berlin did when Dr.Goebbels, Axis Sally, and Lord HawHaw were spewing their filth across the airwaves of Europe.

It is thus with a certain amount of glee that I hear of the takedown of the aforementioned Iraqi television station.

But I have also heard people suggest that we could get by merely by jamming the enemy transmissions. That's not gonna work....

Traditional jamming of a broadcast transmission can only occur effectively at the receiving end of a broadcast. A jammer works by putting out more electromagnetic (EM) signal than the jammed receiver is getting from the station he wants to listen to, thus drowning out the original transmission.

To jam a transmission at the source, you have to have an emitter at the same spot, putting out more radiated EM power than the broadcaster you're trying to jam - I think the Iraqis wouldn't cooperate with this approach, since we'd need to build a TV broadcasting station in downtown Baghdad.

To jam Iraq-TV regionally, you'd have to have jammers everywhere, pumping out megawatts of radiated power. Not gonna happen, especially if cable-TV is involved. It is much better to terminate the source of the broadcast.

In short, it's much easier to overwhelm the listeners "ears" than to drown out the transmitter's "voice" - unless you want to eliminate the transmitter entirely.

Think of it this way: if you want to keep a crowd from hearing a speech,


  1. you can have someone shouting into the ear of everyone in the crowd to keep them from hearing the speech [traditional jamming]

  2. you can take a bullhorn up to the podium and drown out the speaker ["jamming at the source"]

  3. you can cut the speaker's microphone [e-bomb]

  4. you can shoot the speaker [JDAM]


With regard to Iraq-TV, we seem to have chosen option 3. That suits me just fine... though I think I prefer option 4.

With the station out of business, it should then be possible for our forces to begin using that same channel to reach the Iraqi people. Commando Solo has TV and radio capability, though frankly, an airborne transmitter isn't likely to be as powerful as a permanent ground installation would be. The airspace around Baghdad isn't likely to be too friendly yet, either.

[I wrote a slightly briefer version of this in the comments to a post at SGT Stryker. Great site, highly recommended.]

Spare me, please

OK, so I'm insomniac and damn grouchy right now. So I figure I'll watch some news....

And yet another uniformed Iraqi gov't official (do they have any civilians in government over there?) is spewing his lies all over the airwaves. Live. On American TV. Again.

Consider me seriously cheesed off. These are our enemies, dammit. Do the networks expect truth from these a-holes? These are American networks airing this... whose side are they on?

Damn right I'm pissed.

It could be the insomnia talking.

But I doubt it.

Patton, Weather, and Iraq

It was with much interest that I read the Baghdad weather forecast this morning:

Tonight: Considerable cloudiness. Low 61F. Winds SSE at 10 to 15 mph. Tomorrow: Mostly cloudy skies. High around 75F. Winds SE at 10 to 20 mph. Tomorrow night: Scattered thunderstorms in the evening, then variable clouds overnight with more showers at times. Low 53F. Winds SW at 10 to 20 mph. Chance of rain 60%. Wednesday: Cloudy with occasional showers. High 61F. Winds WSW at 10 to 20 mph. Chance of rain 50%. Thursday: Plenty of sun. Highs in the upper 60s and lows in the mid 40s. Friday: Partly cloudy. Highs in the low 70s and lows in the mid 40s.

(Forecast from Yahoo Weather, hat tip to the Command Post)

After much concern for the rapidly-increasing temperatures in the Iraq theater of action and the effect high temperatures would have on our troops, it now looks as though temperatures will be moderate this week.

I am put much in mind of the story, made famous in the film Patton, of the "weather prayer" the General asked his chaplain to compose:

Almighty and most merciful Father, we humbly beseech Thee, of Thy great goodness, to restrain these immoderate rains with which we have had to contend. Grant us fair weather for Battle. Graciously hearken to us as soldiers who call upon Thee that, armed with Thy power, we may advance from victory to victory, and crush the oppression and wickedness of our enemies and establish Thy justice among men and nations.

For "rains", substitute "temperatures" or "sandstorms" and I think you might see the parallel.

Read the story of the prayer, as told by the Army chaplain himself, here: Patton's Prayer.

Iraq: Blah blah blah

Yet again an Iraqi uniformed bozo gives a press conference:


Americans are gangsters... blah blah blah... their armies have been pushed back at every turn... blah blah blah... millions of innocent dead... blah blah blah... we will defeat them and dance on their graves... blah blah blah....

Riiiiiiiight....

And this:

spont.gif

is spontaneous combustion, no doubt.

Thomas Friedman, Idiot

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UPDATE: see this post for a partial retraction. But go ahead and read this one. It is substantially valid.

Thomas Friedman drools all over the pages of the International Herald Tribune today. His article is too long to duplicate here, but let me summarize his main points:


  1. Bush is a cowboy without a posse

  2. Iraq cannot be liberated and turned into a democracy without the UN

  3. Bush's limited diplomatic efforts were a failure

  4. so we go to war alone

  5. The Bush administration needs an "attitude lobotomy" [his words] and should immediately prostrate itself before the world

  6. [Spurious comparison with Israel's Six Day War]

  7. America must repeat the success of the Marshall Plan


Point by point,

Did we get him?

CNBC reporting the possible wounding of Saddam.

Now, I'm not going to pretend to be a news source (and someone PLEASE tell me if I'm coming across that way!) All I can do is insert snide comments along the way.

But not right now... Rumsfeld is on....

Will the real Saddam please stand up

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Was Saddam's speech live or Memorex?

Was it really Saddam?

No one knows with certainty; lots of speculation.

We'll be faced with speculation by the truckload and few real facts for quite a while to come. This is a Good Thing, as far as I'm concerned - the less we know right now, the less the Iraqis are likely to know, too.

Like most adults, I am a master of the concept of Delayed Gratification.

Dead man talkin'?

Speculation on FoxNews as to whether that was really Saddam.

Merest rank speculation, for what whatever it's worth.

Saddam Speaks

CNN and FoxNews are carrying Saddam live now. The audio is terrible, but I guess that's what happens when you're in a bunker 200 feet underground.

His speech in short:


Damn Bush. Damn the Jews. Long live me.

Dead man talkin'.

Speaking of surprise...

... a 1000-man strike by elements of the 82nd Airborne has been launched in Afghanistan southeast of Kandahar in an apparent attempt to catch bin Laden.

This, I think, falls into the realm of operational if not strategic surprise.

Surprise

Hmph. Something else occurred to me.

Going back to my days in the Army.... When our unit was deployed in the field on a mission - whether a training mission or a "live" mission, we followed the old custom of holding "stand to".

The term "stand to" is verbal shorthand for "stand to your posts." Every day, for a half-hour before and after sunrise and sunset (well, BMNT and EENT really - see this glossary), every man takes up his weapon and assumes his defensive position - be it a foxhole, or merely behind some stacked sandbags.

These hours are critical. Tradition says - and history tends to bear out - that attacks come during these hours of low visibility.

Apply this to what happened in Baghdad this morning. Consider that the deadline given to Saddam was 0400 hrs Baghdad time. Almost assuredly, Iraqi forces went on alert somewhat before that, and probably stood down as the sun came up and they realized that no waves of bombers were going to be striking.

Imagine their surprise.

Of course, surprise is the whole point. Obviously, there can be no strategic surprise - anyone who doesn't by now know that the Yanks are coming is either deaf, blind, irretrievably ignorant, or any combination thereof.

There really isn't any "operational" surprise either - or not much, anyway. The objectives the US and allied commanders want to achieve in the field are pretty well known already - there are a limited number of possible objectives, and frankly, the only surprise is likely to be which ones will be sought and on what schedule.

That leaves tactical surprise. All I can say is, so far so good. Give 'em hell, boys.

Surgical

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I have to wonder which (or how many) of the bad guys got smoked in the raid this morning.

Fox News is reporting that the initial strkes near Baghdad were aimed at Iraqi leadership. If successful, killing any one of the five people targeted (Saddam, his evil progeny, and a couple of bootlickers) would be an extraordinary takedown.

It's being reported that F-117s coordinated their bomb strikes with a dozen or more cruise missile strikes - such that all the impacts came in an impressivly short 10-15 second window.

Devastating. Does Saddam really think he can win?

It's begun

The war has begun, and what surprises me most is my sense of relief.

Thank you, God, the waiting is over.

I don't think that speaks particularly ill of me. I have been and remain a strong supporter of President Bush, and an equally strong proponent of the elimination of Saddam and his weapons, and the liberation of the people of Iraq.

Mainly, I know that with American and allied success in this war, the United States will be just that much safer, and that the odds of a chemical, biological or nuclear 9/11 will be that much smaller. And that's good enough for me.

I will sleep with a clear conscience tonight... if I can manage to drag myself away from the news broadcasts.

FDR said it best:


With confidence in our armed forces, with the unbounding determination of our people, we will gain the inevitable triumph - so help us God.

A good start

Pete Stark (D-Baghdad) says:


"I think unleashing 3,000 smart bombs against the city of Baghdad in the first several days of the war . . . to me, if those were unleashed against the San Francisco Bay Area, I would call that an act of extreme terrorism."

I, on the other hand, would call it a good start, given this.

(Links courtesy of Drudge and Dixie Flatline.)

Hey, Saddam!

Time's up!

Gotterdammerung

In today's National Review Online, Mackubin Thomas Owens discusses the chem/bio threat. It is a pretty good article, but I have a minor quibble.


... Iraq will not use biological weapons.... Releasing a biological agent could affect the launching side as adversely as the targeted side. In the case of Iraq, it could have a devastating effect on the unprotected Iraqi population, as a biological strain wreaks havoc on both soldiers and civilians and then mutates, rendering any antidote ineffective. It seems to me that, even if Saddam wants to go out in a Gotterdammerung, the risks of using biological weapons far outweigh the benefits.

It seems to me that if Saddam is playing out a Gotterdammerung scenario, then the only risk of using bio-weapons is the risk of their being ineffective. A "devastating effect on the unprotected Iraqi population" is by definition part of such a self-destructive endgame, is it not?

LT Smash... Connection refused

Well, it looks like our Gulf-based blogger LT Smash is either getting a HUGE traffic load today - unsurprising, really - or his server is down. I expect, in any case, that he'll be too busy to blog for the next few days....

If you get something other than a "Connection refused" message, consider yourself lucky.

If you do get through, read everything there.

Same old slander

According to the byline at the end of the original article, "Magie Dominic is author of The Queen of Peace Room, a personal exploration of violence in the second half of the twentieth century." This may explain why I've never heard of her before today.

But I've heard it all before.

(Link courtesy of WorldNetDaily)

What Century Are We In? by Magie Dominic

If war could bring peace, the definitive battle would have been fought millennia ago, on a wide-open field,

If evil tyrants would stop popping up like some sort of geo-politico-historical Whack-a-Mole, maybe we could stop fighting wars. But the bad guys never seem to learn the right lessons from the past. Instead, every aggressive tyrant comes to believe that he can win by avoiding the mistakes his predecessors have made. God help us if one of them is ever correct.

A Fisking

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I'd appreciate any feedback. This is my first real shot (in public, anyway) at a real fisking. But, well, "see the hill - take the hill."

From http://www.commondreams.org/views03/0314-05.htm

The Forgotten Power of the General Assembly
Perhaps because it is eminently forgettable?
by Robert Fisk
Who else?
For 30 years, America's veto policy in the United Nations has been central to its foreign policy.
Well, no. Enlightened self interest has been central to American foreign policy. The UNSC veto is merely a hammer in our national toolbox.

Heck, even I could do better

One of my many multiple personalities is that of an avid hobbyist. I've spent many many MANY hours in hobby shops, and even worked at one, once upon a time.

Imagine Kim du Toit working in a gun shop and you'll get the idea. I have several radio control airplanes in various stages of flightworthiness stored in the garage, and a queue of six more kits I'll get around to building some day before I die.

So I see this little tidbit and the very first thing that crossed my mind was "Hey, I could do better than that." Really I could.

Naturally, the Iraqis are expecting the world to believe that this piece of crap is the "drone" Blix famously omitted from his verbal report to the UNSC.


"He's making a big mistake," [Iraqi] Brig. Latif said of Mr. Powell. "He knows very well that this aircraft is not used for what he said."

Well, he got that partially right. This put-up job looks like it was slapped together in a matter of just a couple of days. No one with the slightest clue will fail to recognize this piece of excrement for what it is - a hastily thrown-together propaganda showpiece designed to play on the soft, condescending, ever-so-subtle "aye-rabs can't do anything right" racism of the press, the French and the other assorted Idiotarians.

"Mais, monsieur, if they cannot build a drone, they obviously lack the technical sophistication to make bio-weapons, n'est-ce pas?"

Tightening the focus

According to this article in the Washington Post,

Saddam Hussein has opened a training camp for Arab volunteers willing to carry out suicide bombings against U.S. forces in case they invade Iraq, Arab media and Iraqi dissidents said Tuesday.

The dissidents, speaking by telephone from Jordan, said scores of Arab volunteers have gone to a special camp run by the Iraqi intelligence service near the town of al-Khalis, 40 miles northeast of Baghdad.

Now, I know some have suggested that war on Iraq will spawn a new bout of terrorist activity, but isn't it a Good Thing to have the terrys all together at a known location?

I hope they do gather there... it should make the Air Force's target selection just that much easier.

Oh Happy Day

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Ahh....

I love Peggy Noonan. Every chance I get, I like to point out that she is absolutely the best professional writer in the English speaking world... and she proves it again today.

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