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Sunday, October 31, 2004

The Rest of the Tape

The New York Post has an article on what was left off the Osama bin Laden tape as shown, including this excerpt (hat tip to Roger L. Simon):
Officials said that in the 18-minute long tape - of which only six minutes were aired on the al-Jazeera Arab television network in the Middle East on Friday - bin Laden bemoans the recent democratic elections in Afghanistan and the lack of violence involved with it.

On the tape, bin Laden also says his terror organization has been hurt by the U.S. military's unrelenting manhunt for him and his cohorts on the Afghan-Pakistani border.

In my view this "missing" information explains a great deal about why OBL decided to attempt his gambit to see if he could affect the U.S. election - President Bush and the Global War on Terrorism is having a terrific effect on OBL and his bands of jihadists.

Beldar takes on Pennsylvania Governor Ed Rendell's idiotic "we're making new terrorists" comments, which I noted to him in a comment on one of his earlier posts. In view of the Post article, my view is that bin Laden is pushing hard for John Kerry because of the trouble he is having getting anything organized and because we are killing any new recruits almost as fast as they are sent out. Further, holding successful elections in Afghanistan means that OBl's plea for a super Islamic state is substantially lessened because people freed from the Taliban Sharia state have proven they do not want to repeat that horror. In short, Rendell's pitiful argument is totally negated by OBL's own words.

Let's keep it that way!

Update: Power Line has an interesting report on a translation of the OBL tape that includes threatening individual U.S. states that don't vote the "right" (anti-Bush) way. Hmmm.

More Reasons to Re-Elect the President

American Digest offers up 50 great reasons to re-elect the President. Hat tip: Power Line

Saturday, October 30, 2004

Tarheels 31-Miami 28


The Disloyal Oppostion

The Diplomad site makes some excellent points about what has happened to the Democrats and the exactly wrong message that is being sent abroad.

Update: Exactly on point is this Kerry Spot piece by Jim Geraghty:
Last night, I heard secondhand that a left-of-center friend said, during a discussion about the tape, “Well, now I actually agree with bin Laden, I mean, the stuff he said about Bush.”

It was probably meant as a joke, or as a statement of irony. I wasn’t there, so I don’t want to draw conclusions about the statement’s meaning, and apparently the topic of conversation shifted so that no one could really analyze what that speaker meant.

But I have little doubt that in some other corners of our country, a statement like that was probably said and wasn’t a joke, or wasn’t ironic.

There was an old saying about politics stopping at the water’s edge. There was a reason for this, and for the concept of the “loyal opposition.” Suppose the U.S. and another country were in a trade dispute. The other country would want different policies, and thus would want the incumbent party out of power. So they would seize on any criticism from the challenging party, and use it for rhetorical purposes to strengthen their case both with their own population and in other countries. “Even the American challenging party says the incumbent leader’s policies are unfair and a failure.” No party wants to be seen as putting foreign interests ahead of their own citizens’ interests, so they have to be on guard that their arguments aren’t providing fodder for foreign powers with different interests than America.

Over the last three years or so, we have seen that concept obliterated. We’ve seen a truly unparalleled deluge of criticism of the president that well beyond policy differences. He is tarred as a war criminal, a fool, an idiot, a warmonger, a man who trades blood for oil, a mass murderer of innocent civilians, a stooge of sinister corporate interests, a puppet of Cheney, a terrorist himself, the anti-Christ, the second coming of Hitler, a slave to Ariel Sharon, an anti-Muslim hatemonger… and I’m sure I’ve left out plenty.

This rhetoric has been picked up by the British left, the European left, the Arab press, and anti-American interests around the globe. And — to my knowledge — not one Democrat, not one voice on the left has said, “Hey, we know you hate Bush, but stay out of it. He’s our president, leave the criticism of him to us.”

Osama's Back

Note to all of you who have tried to claim that the attacks on the September 11, 2001 were some sort of plot by the President or some vast right wing conspiracy - this ought to put your fevered imaginations to rest: Bin Laden Claims Responsibility for 9/11.

In the video, bin Laden accused Bush of misleading Americans by saying the attack was carried out because Al Qaeda "hates freedom." The terrorist leader said his followers have left alone countries that do not threaten Muslims.

Let's see, countries that threaten Muslims include: the U.S., the U.K., Russia, China. Pakistan, Australia, the Philippines, Spain, France, Italy, Turkey, Tunisia, Belgium, Germany, Indonesia, Jordan, Egypt, Morocco, Nigeria, Kenya, Saudi Arabia and, of course, Israel. I may have missed a couple. Apparently Sweden is safe.

"We fought you because we are free ... and want to regain freedom for our nation. As you undermine our security we undermine yours," bin Laden said.
"Our nation?"
The principal stated aims of al-Qaeda are to drive Americans and American influence out of all Muslim nations, especially Saudi Arabia; destroy Israel; and topple pro-Western dictatorships around the Middle East. Bin Laden has also said that he wishes to unite all Muslims and establish, by force if necessary, an Islamic nation adhering to the rule of the first Caliphs.

According to bin Laden's 1998 fatwa (religious decree), it is the duty of Muslims around the world to wage holy war on the U.S., American citizens, and Jews. Muslims who do not heed this call are declared apostates (people who have forsaken their faith).

Al-Qaeda's ideology, often referred to as "jihadism," is marked by a willingness to kill "apostate" -and Shiite-Muslims and an emphasis on jihad. Although "jihadism" is at odds with nearly all Islamic religious thought, it has its roots in the work of two modern Sunni Islamic thinkers: Mohammad ibn Abd al-Wahhab and Sayyid Qutb.

Al-Wahhab was an 18th-century reformer who claimed that Islam had been corrupted a generation or so after the death of Mohammed. He denounced any theology or customs developed after that as non-Islamic, including more than 1,000 years of religious scholarship. He and his supporters took over what is now Saudi Arabia, where Wahhabism remains the dominant school of religious thought.

Sayyid Qutb, a radical Egyptian scholar of the mid-20th century, declared Western civilization the enemy of Islam, denounced leaders of Muslim nations for not following Islam closely enough, and taught that jihad should be undertaken not just to defend Islam, but to purify it.
So, his "freedom" for his nation means a holy war, the creation of a Islamic super nation (but only for Muslims who believe exactly as he does- the rest can be killed or converted). His "freedom" means the freedom to believe exactly as he does and follow the rules of Sharia as he would have them interpreted.
[C]alling the Sharia 'law' can be misleading, as Sharia extends beyond law. Sharia is the totality of religious, political, social, domestic and private life. Sharia is primarily meant for all Muslims, but applies to a certain extent also for people living inside a Muslim society...

Bin Laden suggested Bush was slow to react to the Sept. 11 attacks, giving the hijackers more time than they expected. At the time of the attacks, the president was listening to schoolchildren in Florida reading a book.
"It never occurred to us that the commander in chief of the American armed forces would leave 50,000 of his citizens in the two towers to face these horrors alone," he said, referring to the number of people who worked at the World Trade Center.
"It appeared to him [Bush] that a little girl's talk about her goat and its butting was more important than the planes and their butting of the skyscrapers. That gave us three times the required time to carry out the operations, thank God," he said.
This last stuff is just pure baloney and a blatant play to the Michael Moore "makeitupumentary" fan base who believe that 5 or 7 minutes might have made some difference in what happened on 9/11. Actually, at the time of the book reading the second tower had already been hit. Apparently, OBL is of the school of thought that the President should have jumped up and perfotmed the classic "When in danger, when in doubt, run in circles, scream and shout" routine intead of calmly letting his subordinates get a handle on what was happening before deciding on a response (if I'd been in the Natonal Command Center, I would have appreciated that- it's hard enough trying to sort through first reports - which are almost always wrong- without any "prompting' by the higher levels of the food chain).

Osama has obviously been following the election process and is trying to get President Bush out of the way. He apparently (and to my mind correctly) reads Kerry as a "negotiator and not a fighter" whose election might provide time for the OBL movement to recover from the damage being wrought on it by the US and our allies. Now is not the time to give him what he wants.

Update: Beldar has a good piece on OBL's gambit.
Update: A good analysis at Captain's Quarters
Update: While I like his analysis, I disagree slightly with Wretchard at Belmont Club about the significance of what OBL did not directly say in the tape.
It is important to notice what he has stopped saying in this speech. He has stopped talking about the restoration of the Global Caliphate. There is no more mention of the return of Andalusia. There is no more anticipation that Islam will sweep the world. He is no longer boasting that Americans run at the slightest wounds; that they are more cowardly than the Russians. He is not talking about future operations to swathe the world in fire but dwelling on past glories. He is basically saying if you leave us alone we will leave you alone. Though it is couched in his customary orbicular phraseology he is basically asking for time out.
Instead, I think he certainly implies in his use of the phrase "our nation" that he is still tracking towards the unification of Muslims into a single Islamic nation. I think that the Captain has it right in his analysis that OBL has toned down his language to attempt to appear "reasonable":
Far from signaling a surrender, I believe that OBL wants to influence the American elections as another demonstration of his power. He wants to depose George Bush, but he's smart enough to understand that a fire-breathing performance only helps Bush by scaring/insulting the voters. His moderate performance was designed to appeal to the reasonable leftists and centrists who tend to believe that America brought Islamist terror onto itself. His "offer" amounts to a lever with which to promote anti-Israel sentiment to undercut support for Bush, as well as give people the impression that the war is Bush's fault, despite the years of Al Qaeda attacks on American assets.

Update: Donald Sensing has an excellent post about the effect of the "Chicago Way" on OBL's motivation for the newest tape.
Update: Greyhawk at Mudville Gazette offers up some good stuff including this pithy bit on Osama's reappearance: " Just in time for Halloween he's come out swinging, one would assume with his best stuff, and lo and behold it's Michael Moore quotes"
Update: Roger L. Simon says only 6 minutes of the OBL tape was shown and some of parts left out talk about the damage the U.S. has done to the OBL network.

Thursday, October 28, 2004

Pirates! Terrorists! Oh, My!

For those of you who never, ever go to sea, you might find it surprising that pirates still cause problems for the world shipping. While piracy problems exist in many parts of the world, the Straits of Malaaca are particularly dangerous especially along the Indonesian coast. Large oil tankers, carrying oil to the world from the Middle East pass regularly through these straits...The International Chamber of Commerce provides a weekly piracy report that is always interesting to read (if you are a old sea dog like me)

The Asia Times has an interesting series of articles here, here and here on piracy and maritime terrorism. The author, Eric Koo, reaches this conclusion:
Piracy and maritime terrorism are forms of asymmetrical warfare that non-state actors use as instruments in disrupting the peace and security of states. It is therefore necessary for navies to revamp and find new definitions for their role in the modern security context.

The U.S. Navy is paying attention, as noted in this article from
“The seas are unpoliced and unregulated and, therefore, attractive to those who want to exploit or abuse them,” said U.S. Navy Secretary Gordon R. England. Speaking in July at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars in Washington, D.C., England said, “On average, more than one ship each day is attacked, robbed, hijacked or sunk.”

The situation grows worse each year, according to the London-based International Maritime Bureau (IMB), part of the Commercial Crime Services division of the International Chamber of Commerce. Recorded pirate attacks increased by 20 percent in 2003 alone, rising to a total of 445 incidents compared with 370 in 2002, according to IMB statistics. In these incidents, 21 seafarers are known to have been killed -- compared with 10 the previous year -- and 71 crew and passengers were listed as missing, IMB reported.

For as long as mankind has used the sea to transport valuable, there have been people willing to attempt to hijack the goods. Armed merchants, convoys and Navy escorts were used to help stem the problem in years past. Looks like we might have to return to those techniques again.

Piracy and maritime terrorism are linked. Here's an interesting warning article that starts out, "Singapore is trying to blow the whistle on the global threat posed by jihadists taking their terror tactics to the sea.

In his new book Shadow War, Richard Miniter devotes an entire chapter to "Terror at Sea" including a chilling portion about the odd assault on chemical tanker Dewi Madrim in March 2003 by a group of armed men. Instead of partaking of the usual cargo jacking or kidnapping, the attackers made only token effort at robbery, but devoted their time to disabling the ship's radios, switching on their own radios and "...practiced steering the vessel."
Noel Choong, who runs the International Maritime Bureau's Piracy Reporting Center in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, was concerned about "three things - the automatic weapons, the fact that chemical tankers were targeted, and finally, the fact that they know how to operate the tankers..."
Pirates in the South Pacific rarely use automatic weapons. They usually target oil and diesel tanker - which have cargos that are easily sold in black markets - not chemical tankers..."

Miniter also notes that Osama bin Laden once had a fleet of 15 ships...

A recent workshop on Maritime Security, Maritime Terrorism and Piracy in Asia had some interesting topics, e.g "  Piracy, Armed Robbery and Terrorism at Sea in Southeast Asia:A Global and Regional Outlook." Wish I could have gone.

Keep an eye on the sea.


Wednesday, October 27, 2004

North Korea Justs Keeps Hanging On

Nicholas Eberstadt has an interesting piece in Policy Review looking at how North Korea continues to exist as a state. Some good tidbits:
But how was this reported trade deficit financed? After all, North Korea is a state with a commercial creditworthiness rating of approximately zero, having maintained for a generation its posture of defiant de facto default on the Western loans it contracted in the 1970s.
Historically, the dprk relied upon aid from its communist allies — principally, the Soviet Union and China — to augment its imports. After the collapse of the ussr, China perforce emerged as North Korea’s principal foreign patron, and Beijing’s largesse extended beyond its officially announced subventions for Pyongyang. The dprk’s seemingly permanent merchandise trade deficit with China constitutes a broader and perhaps more accurate measure of Beijing’s true aid levels for Pyongyang (insofar as neither party seems to think the sums accumulated in that imbalance will ever be corrected or repaid).
Implicit Chinese aid, however, cannot account for North Korea’s import upsurge of 1998-2003. To the contrary: China’s implicit aid to North Korea — i.e., its reported balance of trade deficit — fell during these years, dropping from about $340 million to about $270 million. (The total was back up to $340 million in 2003 — meaning that China’s implicit aid to Pyongyang was no higher than it had been five years earlier.) North Korea’s non-Chinese balance of trade deficit, by contrast, apparently soared upward (see Figure 4). Whereas in 1997 the dprk reportedly only managed to obtain a net of $50 million more merchandise from abroad than its commercial exports would have paid for — after factoring out China — by 2002 the corresponding total was well over $900 million.
Indeed, if we remove China from the picture, the line describing North Korea’s net imports of supplies from abroad rises steadily upward between 1997 and 2003. It is this graphic that captures the economic essence of North Korea’s shift from its “Arduous March” period to its Kangsong Taeguk epoch.
And how was this jump in non-Chinese net imports financed? Unfortunately, we cannot be precise about this, since many of the sources of funds involve illicit transactions. North Korea’s international counterfeiting, drug trafficking, weapons, and weapon technology sales all figure here, although the sums raised from those activities are a matter of some dispute.
Nor do we yet know exactly how much of the South Korean taxpayers’ money was furtively channeled from Seoul to Pyongyang during this period. One set of prosecutorial investigations has convicted former President Kim Dae Jung’s national security adviser and several other aides of illegally transferring up to $500 million to Kim Jong Il’s “Bureau 39” (a unit of the ruling party specially charged with funding Kim’s royal court) on the eve of the historic June 2000 Pyongyang summit. The possibility of other unreported official Seoul-to-Pyongyang payoffs during the 1998-2003 period cannot be ruled out — nor, of course, can the potential volume of any such attendant funds be determined.

How about this:
It may be perplexing and counterintuitive to see the United States — the dprk’s longtime principal opponent and antagonist in the international arena — described as a major backer of the North Korean state. Yet this is now in fact the case. Figures compiled by Mark Manyin of the Congressional Research Service provide the details (see Table 1). In the 1996-2002 period, Washington awarded Pyongyang just over $1 billion in food aid, concessional fuel oil, and medical supplies. (Interestingly enough, nearly $350 million of these resources was transferred in the years 2001 and 2002 — under the purportedly hostile aegis of the George W. Bush administration.)

Hmmm...drugs, weapons, under the table payments from South Korea and US aid - what a way to keep your country afloat. But it gets better. North Korea believes in a "self-sustaining national defense industry!"
This is a fascinating and revealing formulation. In most of the world today, a country’s defense outlays are regarded as a weight that must be shouldered by the value-adding sectors of the national economy (hence the phrase “military burden”). North Korea’s leadership, however, evidently entertains the concept of a “self-sustaining” defense sector — implying that Pyongyang views its military activities as generating resources rather than absorbing them. In the enunciated view of Pyongyang’s leadership, the dprk’s military sector is the key to financing the recovery of the national economy.
It does not require a great deal of imagination to spell out the operational details of this approach. While forswearing any appreciable export revenues from legitimate commerce with advanced market economies, North Korean policy today seems to be banking on the possibility of financing state survival by exporting strategic insecurity to the rest of the world. In part, such dividends are derived from exports of merchandise (e.g., missile sales, international transfer of wmd technology). But these revenues also depend heavily on what might be described as an export of services: in this case, military extortion services (or, perhaps better yet, “revenue-sensitive threat reduction services”) based upon Pyongyang’s nuclear development and ballistic missile programs.

Simply amazing. Read the whole thing. Great work Professor Eberstadt!

Hat tip: NRO's the corner

Cheney Gets It Right

The Kerry Spot on National Review Online
This is more like it. From the AP:
"If our troops had not gone into Iraq as John Kerry apparently thinks they should not have, that is 400,000 tons of weapons and explosives that would be in the hands of Saddam Hussein, who would still be sitting in his palace instead of jail," the vice president told supporters in his first comment on the controversy that erupted Monday.

Cheney, the most senior administration official to comment on the latest development in Iraq, complained that Kerry does not mention the "400,000 tons of weapons and explosives that our troops have captured."

Nearly 400 tons of explosives have disappeared from a former Iraqi military installation. The International Atomic Energy Agency had warned the U.S.-led coalition that invaded Iraq to secure the explosives, fearing they could fall into the wrong hands. The materials are key components of plastic explosives like those insurgents have used in car bomb attacks.
Speaking to a crowd in an area of Florida with several military bases, Cheney also said, "It is not at all clear that those explosives" that were lost "were even at the weapons facility when our troops arrived in the area of Baghdad." ...

Cheney also invoked the name of retired Gen. Tommy Franks, who led the U.S. invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq, to rebut another of Kerry's criticisms - that the Bush administration wasted a chance to catch terrorist leader Osama bin Laden when the United States had al-Qaida fighters surrounded in Tora Bora in Afghanistan.

Franks "stated repeatedly it was not at all certain that bin Laden was in Tora Bora," said Cheney. "He might have been there or in Pakistan or even Kashmir."

"Now John Kerry sitting 6,000 miles away, he is trying to cast doubt on these amazing performances" by U.S. forces in Afghanistan and Iraq, Cheney said.

Kerry frequently asserts that the administration "outsourced" the job of hunting down bin Laden to Afghan warlords.
"U.S. Special Forces were on the ground, and in charge of the operation around Tora Bora," Cheney said. "They relied on Afghan fighters to help them kill and capture Taliban and al-Qaida fighters in Tora Bora. They knew the landscape."

(my apologies for lifting the entire quote from the KerrySpot, but it was darn well worth it...)

Go get 'em Mr. Vice-president!

Tuesday, October 26, 2004

Absolutely Brilliant

If you haven't read Wretchard's War Plan Orange then you have missed a great piece of analysis.

UN Official Attempts to Influence US Election

Did Mohammed El Baradei leak documents regarding the "missing" explosives? If he did, then here's the question posed byRoger L. Simon: Is this beyond Oil-for-Food?

Consider this: That means a high official of the United Nations... and not just an ordinary high official but one empowered with preventing nuclear weapons proliferation... is trying to influence a US election. And we thought we had seen everything with the Oil-for-Food scandal!

My, oh, my! I feel myself getting seriously vexed...

Update: Might as well poach my comment to Mr. Simon's question:

Is this the new UN theme song? (To the tune of "Bad to the Bone")
I cheated a hundred times, that's nothing new
I'll cheat a thousand more baby, before I am through
I wanna change your president, yours and yours alone
I'm here to tell ya honey, that I'm corrupt to the bone
Corrupt to the bone
Corrupt to the bone"

(with apologies to George Thorogood)

Mohammed El Barade must go. It seems he's...corrupt to the bone!

Update: Was the IAEA asked to destroy the bad stuff? A former inspector says so...
here Hat tip to Instapundit!

"I want my son to serve..."

Steve Dunleavy in the New York Post says "I want my GI son to serve under Bush". His son, an Army reserve captain is on his way to Iraq.

I know just how he feels. My older son, a Navy helicopter pilot, just deployed to the Sand Box environs, too. As Mr. Dunleavy says, there is nothing different about my son than any of the thousands of men and women who are out there doing their jobs, or any of the thousands who are just back or who are gearing up to go. They all deserve to serve under the best leader we can give them. It's not John Kerry.

In 1971, when Mr. Kerry gave his infamous Senate testimony attacking his fellow veterans of Vietnam, I was finishing my senior year in college. After four years of ROTC, I was getting ready to be commissioned. Within a year I was deployed off Vietnam when the North Vietnamese rolled across the DMZ in the Easter Offensive of 1972.

His comments on that war had an impact then, and his comments on the current war are having an impact now. In both cases I believe those comments provided aid and comfort to enemies who where engaged in combat with soldiers, Marines and sailors of the United States. Aid to an enemy engaged in trying to kill Americans.

Having trouble with the idea that we had people in action in 1972? I suggest you read the Bridge at Don Ha by John Grider Miller or go to the USS Mullinnix site to see the shell splash photo or visit the USS Sterrett site to learn about the battle off Dong Hoi where the USS Higbee took a bomb in her after gun mount and the Sterett fought off a Styx missile attack. The North Vietnamese had plenty of fight left, helped in no small part by the words and actions of the anti-war crowd, including John Kerry.

Now he is at it again. As Matt Heidt at Froggyruminations says so well:
Kerry, true to form, has denigrated the actions of the US Military even though he knows the Tora Bora operation successfully killed Usama bin Laden. Kerry’s persistent disparagement of the US Military in a futile effort to achieve his life’s ambition is further evidence for his unfitness to serve as CINC...

Now he putting at risk more troops. Now he is putting at risk Steve Dunleavy's son and my son and the daughter of ...

Do not elect this dangerous, lying man.

Update: The Kerry Spot has the proper response to Kerry and his willing accomplices
Come on, guys. The New York Times, international bureaucrats like Mohamed ElBaradei and the Kerry campaign are coordinating October-surprise hit pieces on President Bush. This is screaming for a tougher response. Something like an attack ad stating, “Kerry is playing Monday Morning Quarterback with the 101st Airborne’s performance in Iraq. In 1971, John Kerry smeared our troops as rapists and butchers then... He’s smearing them as incompetent now. This Nov. 2, show John Kerry what you think of his attacks on our troops."

Monday, October 25, 2004

Kosovo vote reveals failure of UN rule

The Telegraph of London has another sad report on Kosovo: Kosovo vote reveals failure of UN rule(Hat tip: Instapundit)

Barely more than half of Kosovo's 1.4 million voters went to the ballot box. While the province's majority ethnic Albanians were struck by apathy, its 130,000-strong Serb minority was seized by anger and completely boycotted the poll.
Only a handful of Serbs voted, following calls from Vojislav Kostunica, the Serbian Prime Minister, and the Serbian Orthodox Church to stay away. Mr Kostunica described the election as a "failure".
The level of absenteeism prompted Soren Jessen-Petersen, the UN governor in Kosovo, to protest that some Serbs had been intimidated into observing the boycott and had "had their democratic right to vote hijacked".
In one success however, the 20,000 Nato soldiers who maintain the peace in Kosovo were not called into action on election day, as the province remained calm.

Plus ca change, plus c’est la meme chose.

20,000 NATO troops to maintain "peace." It's just a ticking time bomb. The Kosovar Albanians do not want to be part of Serbia...the status quo cannot be maintained except at great expense.

See my earlier blog on Kosovo to get a flavor of how failed this state is..

Saturday, October 23, 2004

My Simple Guide to international Law

Over the years of my law practice and service in the reserves (as a non-lawyer), I have reached a conclusion about "international law." That conclusion is that such a thing barely exists. I am not alone in this view. See this:
International law is stuck in a morass of contested doctrinal description. Its content, effect, and very existence are grist for incessant academic debate and political wrangling.(Warning note by Eagle1: The cited article is written in what I assume to be some sort of "intellectual" languange that smacks of the sociology "we are really a science" stuff I read as an undergraduate. The concept of a simple declarative sentence using simple but appropriate words seems to have been lost somewhere in the groves of academe.)

Not surprising, really, nation states, like the human beings that comprise them, tend to cooperate when it's in their interest to cooperate and not otherwise. Thus, some international things are easy - passports, visas, certain aspects of maritime merchantile and shipping law, trade agreements, etc. Some things are hard- weapons control, international criminal courts, etc. Easy or hard seems to my jaundiced eye to depend on how much control (freedom to act) of its national interests any nation is being asked to cede to some alleged "higher" authority.
So, it is relatively easy for a nation like "Grand Fenwick" to agree to eliminate nuclear weapons, as they never had them and never will. However, to demand that the U.S. eliminate nuclear weapons during the height of the Cold War was to ask the U.S. to abandon a major part of its defense strategy. It wasn't going to happen.

Which gets me to my main point: no "law" - international or not - is effective unless it can be enforced.

There are plenty of articles, books and internet sites devoted to pointing out laws that forbid or require some activity that to our modern minds seem silly but that are still on the books but either are not enforced or cannot be enforced.

In the Admiralty law context, there are many forms of generally accepted terms for inclusion into a contract to engage the use of a ship (a "charter party"). These terms include the duration of the charter and penalties for its breach. They also include, usually, a specification of where a suit can be brought to enforce the agreement. Why be specific? It is hard won wisdom that the legal system of the Duchy of Grand Fenwick may not be as fair and just in handling cases brought for or against its own subjects as might some neutral court or arbitrators. Commerce abhors such inconsistency and the resultant uncertainty. It avoids it by sticking with known forums.

In matters of war and peace, enforcement of treaties, sanctions and other results of diplomacy depend on two factors:
(1)The consent of the party in violation to concede any violation and the willingness of that party to take corrective action as required, or
(2) In the absence of such consent the willingness and ability of the other parties to the treaties, etc, to take necessary actions to force the violator to consent or to remove the violator's government and replace it with a government willing to cease the violation(s).

When President Bush went to the UN regarding Iraq, he first sought the UN's help in getting Iraq to comply with existing agreements and sanctions. He asserted that failure to act would put into question the rationale for the continued existence of the UN. When the UN proved unable or unwilling to act to enforce it own resolutions, he and a group of other nations undertook the enforcement themselves, not in derogation of the UN, it seems to me, but in its defense.

Senator Kerry wants to reverse that process and adopt the idea that even a completely toothless UN is better than one that has member states willing to enforce its resolutions.

Sometimes in looking at the U.S. role with the UN, I am reminded of the movie High Noon. It becomes well-known in a community that a collection of "bad guys" is getting ready to roll into town and cause trouble. The sheriff learns of the plot and seeks the assistance of the town people. Despite their occasional muted indications of support eventually they all fail the sheriff - they all feel they "have too much to lose" or perhaps it's "the wrong fight at the wrong time." The sheriff is conflicted but chooses his "duty" over other considerations. When he has vanquished the evil-doers and the town people belatedly offer their congratulations, he throws his badge in the dirt and rides off. His honor is intact.

Update: Fixed some typos...

Friday, October 22, 2004

N.Korea: Let's Talk-- Powell Let's Not

N.Korea Sets 3 Conditions for 6-Way Talks to Resume

A North Korean Foreign Ministry spokesman told the official KCNA news agency that the United States must drop its hostile policy and be prepared to join a compensation package in return for the North freezing its nuclear programs.

Good things come to those who wait...

Update:On the other hand, Powell:
Secretary of State Colin Powell rejected on Saturday a North Korean demand that the United States meet certain conditions before the communist country would agree to take part in a new round of six-country discussions on its nuclear weapons program. "My view is that all of the issues that they laid out as conditions are subject to discussions at the six-party talks," Powell said.

"This is a six-party discussion, not a U.S.-North Korea discussion or an exchange of U.S. and North Korean talking points," Powell told reporters while traveling to Japan for talks with Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi and other officials. Powell also plans stops in China and South Korea.

Summary: NK tries another "we're just peace-loving harmless simple folk" shot and the SecState blocks it.

Note to NK: Do you own a map? Have you noticed your geographical location? Here's some help: you've got water on two sides and states you don't want to irritate on your north and a strong country to your south that has all sorts of alliances to help come to its defense. You produce exactly nothing that the civilized world would miss (no oil, no gas, no gold, no food). Do you think making friends with Iran will help you? They've got their own problems...You may need to re-think your strategy soon...

Thursday, October 21, 2004

Carter's Goofy Numbers

Former President Carter made some goofy comment the other day while speaking to Chris Matthews:
MATTHEWS: [A]s an historian now and studying the Revolutionary War as it was fought out in the South in those last years of the War, insurgency against a powerful British force. Do you see any parallels between the fighting that we did on our side and the fighting that is going on in Iraq today?
CARTER: Well, one parallel is that the Revolutionary War more than any other war until recently has been the most bloody war we’ve fought.
I think another parallel is that in some ways the Revolutionary War could have been avoided. It was an unnecessary war. Had the British Parliament been a little more sensitive to the colonial’s really legitimate complaints and requests the war could have been avoided completely and of course now we would have been a free country now as is Canada and India and Australia, having gotten our independence in a non-violent way...

Many people have already pointed out that in raw numbers, it just isn't true that the Revolutionary War was "the most bloody."

But were there more deaths per total US population? Here are the numbers:

Revolutionary War: Battle deaths as percentage of population= .18%
Civil War: Battle deaths as percentage of population: .68%
WWI: Battle deaths as percentage of population: .054%
WWII: Battle deaths as percentage of population: .21%

By this measure, the US Civil War was the "most bloody," followed by WWII and then the Revolutionary War.

US Census Press Releases Back in July 1776, there were about 2.5 million people living in the colonies. In the Revolutionary War there were 4435 battle deaths. Battle deaths per capita %=.18% (.001774) (4435/2,500,000)

Civil War 1860 population 31,443,321 (27,489,561 free, 3,953,760 slave). Total battle deaths Union and Confederate: 214,938. Battle deaths per capita %=.68% (.0068357) (214,938/31,443,321)

WWI population
Population: 99,111,000 Battle deaths: 53,402. Battle deaths per capita %=.054% (.00053881) (53,402/99,111,000)

WWII population
Population: 133,402,470 Battle deaths: 291,557 Battle deaths per capita %=.21% (.0021855) (291,557/133,402,470)

Battle Deaths US in America's Wars: U.S. Casualties and Veterans>

American Revolution (1775–1783)
Total servicemembers
Battle deaths

Civil War (1861–1865) 
Total servicemembers (Union)
Battle deaths (Union)
Total servicemembers (Conf.)
Battle deaths (Conf.)

World War I (1917–1918)
Total servicemembers
Battle deaths

World War II (1940–1945)
Total servicemembers
Battle deaths

Korean War (1950–1953)
Total servicemembers
Battle deaths

Vietnam War (1964–1975)
Total servicemembers
Serving in-theater
Battle deaths
Other deaths in service (theater)
Other deaths in service (nontheater)
Nonmortal woundings
Living veterans

Gulf War (1990–1991)
Total servicemembers
Serving in-theater
Battle deaths

America's Wars Total
Military service during war
Battle deaths

Update: Cleaned it up a little.

Force Protection

The trouble with base camps is that they provide tempting targets for enemy forces. To protect the base camp requires tying up a substantial number of troops to keep an eye on the perimeter. Now the Army is exploring the use of technology to move the detection range farther away from the fence line. This article describes some of the tools that might be used.

The capability of the raised sensors to view terrain a good distance away from fixed Army locations for long periods of time has been proven successful as a force protection measure both in Afghanistan and Iraq recently, said Col. Kurt Heine, JLENS program manager. Due to security concerns, Heine said he could not give specific examples of the RAID system in combat, but reported that commanders really liked its capabilities.

“Imagine, if you will, that you can see people (and) cars from afar in the dark when you couldn’t before,” Heine said in reference to RAID combat successes.

The RAID system has been in use in several locations in Afghanistan since spring 2003 and in Iraq for about nine months. Two systems have also been used to support Navy force protection in the Central Command area under “Operation Code Blue.”

The key component of the system is the sensor -- basically a television camera with zoom lens, infrared for viewing at night and a laser range finder, Heine said.

The area the system can cover is dependent on terrain and height -- the higher, the better, Heine said.

Most of the systems currently being used are on towers. The Army has 19 RAID towers. They are a mix of 84-foot quick-erect and 30-foot and 60-foot telescope mast towers.

The Army is also using three15-meter aerostats -- large blimp-shaped, helium-filled balloons -- which are tethered to its truck transports to get the RAID sensor above the battlefield. Some of the aerostats have taken enemy fire without any major mishap, Heine said. “We just patched it up, topped it off with helium and sent it back up,” he said.

However raised, the sensor is networked to a Base Defense Operations Cell. The cell has monitors that show what the camera sensor is looking at and a digitized map with overlays with an icon depicting the map location of what the sensor is focused on.

Using aerostats to raise the sensors increases the area that can be effectively surveilled. Use of all weather sensors increases the possiblity of detection of hostile forces before they can get into position to do harm to our troops.

The approach sounds pretty similar to the Navy's Mobile Inshore Undersea Warfare Radar Sonar Surveillance Center (RSSC) AN/TSQ-108(V4) vans, used for port security and other operations. Heres' the Navy set up:

It adds up to a great new force protection tool.

Update: Corrected posting date

Mullah Mischief?

Captain Ed at Captain's Quarters has a piece on the sudden surge of al-Qaeda interest in going after US GWOT partner Pakistan:
In a sign that the Pakistanis have done significant damage to its network, al-Qaeda operations now primarily target the Pervez Musharraf regime, seen as a cornerstone to the American-led war on terror. The kidnapping of two Chinese industrial experts aims to drive a wedge between Musharraf and his oldest ally...

I am not surprised, but have a nagging suspicion that the Mullahs in Iran are lurking in the background in this. Fomenting trouble for US allies and working to destablilize US interests in the region make sense if you are one of the identified members of the "axis of evil" and are worried about your future. Afghanistan, Pakistan and Iraq have only one country in common on their borders - Iran. It isn't rocket science to think that the Iranian "leaders" may be feeling a little surrounded and are working to slip the noose.

In fact, speaking of rocket science, I see the recent announcements about the range improvements on their missile system to be in line with their effort to scare both close neighbors and the US (missile range would include Turkey and Israel) into backing off. This map shows approximate missile range.

I note that Turkey is a member of NATO and that any attack on Turkey should invoke NATO involvement in their defense.

This is dangerous mischief, indeed.

Update: Replaced missile map. Added explanation.

Update: While visiting the American Digest blog found this very interesting analysis of the importance of Iraq in the future direction of the Middle East.

The Logical End of Campaign Ads

Frank J at IMAO has taken up a new job and carried it to its -uh-logical extreme.

Wednesday, October 20, 2004

Kids Pick Kerry to Be the Next President?

Yahoo! News reports that the Nickelodeon network on-line polls says Kids Pick Kerry to Be the Next President.

Regardless of their alleged track record, such polls should be taken with a grain of salt. Apparently LInda Ellerbee, the host of this exercise, does not remember the famous Collier's (correction: Literary Digest) poll that wrongly predicted Dewey (correction: Landon) would beat Truman (correction: Roosevelt (he would have, if Collier (Literary Digest) readers were the only voters, but they weren't). In any event, all the on-line instant polls have shown that they are exceptionally easy to manipulate, especially since there is no effective way to screen out multiple votes and to determine who it is who is doing the voting.

More bothersome to me is the quote from Ellerbee (who I used to admire) concerning the the last presidential election:
Kids aren't dumb, they're just younger and shorter," she said. "In fact, last election, a boy came up to me and said, `We picked George Bush to win, and he didn't really win. Al Gore won the popular vote, so we were kinda wrong.' Quite an observation.

Looks like she missed her chance to explain the workings of the Electoral College to this misguided youth. What a shame to miss such a "teachable moment."

Update: Well, my memory was off. It was a Literary Digest poll in the 1936 election. See this. Ooops.

Update: Scholastic which also claims a pretty good track record in predicting presidential elections says that Bush will win 52% to 47% for Kerry:
Since 1940, Scholastic Classroom Magazines have given students the opportunity to cast their vote for president in the Scholastic Election Poll (online voting was added in 2000). In every election, but two, the outcome of the Scholastic Election Poll mirrored the outcome of the general election. The exceptions were in 1948 when students chose Thomas E. Dewey over Harry S. Truman and in 1960 when more students voted for Richard M. Nixon than John F. Kennedy. In 2000, student voters chose George W. Bush, mirroring the Electoral College result but not the result of the popular vote.
Hat tip: Best of the Web

Tuesday, October 19, 2004

Read LancelotFinn's "Robert Kaplan's World"

One of the great benefits of Hugh Hewitt's Symposia is reading blogger you'd never otherwise know of. This piece, Robert Kaplan's World, is one site I never would have found on my own, but I am very pleased it was posted in response to Hewitt's 4th. Here's a nice bit relating to a discussion of Kerry and the Vietnam War:

Pilate, confronted with a condemned but innocent man whom he dared not take the political risk of freeing, said first, "What is truth?"--moral relativism--and then "I wash my hands of this case"--abdication of responsibility. Kerry took the same two steps, moral relativism and abdication of responsibility, and they define him as a man and as a statesman to this day.

John Kerry told the Senate that "We found most people didn't even know the difference between communism and democracy."  He called Ho Chi Minh "the George Washington of Vietnam."  Yet George Washington was fighting to establish a free republic, Ho Chi Minh to establish a communist dictatorship.  Maybe John Kerry, who also opined in 1971 that Ho Chi Minh understood the principles of the US Constitution and was trying "to install the same provisions into the government of Vietnam," was deceived about Ho's ideology.  If so, though, it is odd that Kerry did not recant, reverse himself or apologize when the nature of the Vietcong regime became clear, or rather, clearer, since its oppressive and bloody character was evident enough by 1971.  This suggests that the "most people" who didn't know the difference between communism and democracy included John Kerry--or rather, he knew, but he didn't care...

I've read it and commend it to you. I'll be reading it again. It's that good.

Fun During Elections: Seeking the Gullible Vote

Yahoo! News - Bush, Kerry Use Draft to Target Youth Vote

This so just so much fun! The Dems have a couple of idiot Congressmen submit draft legislation. Then they float a rumor that the President may have a draft in mind; a rumor spread mostly on college campuses and other places young people loiter. The President denies he will implement a draft. The goofball legislation gets hammered down with even one of its sponsors voting against it. But:

The day the poll was released, Bush said in his second debate with Kerry, "We're not going to have a draft, period."

Kerry wouldn't let it go. A week later, the Democrat told The Des Moines Register "With George Bush, the plan for Iraq is more of the same and the great potential of a draft."

So, in the political world you can make up "scary" rumors that might possibly affect any segment of the voter population and, no matter what reality is, go after that segment by playing on the fear you just created. You know, like telling people living on Social Security that if your opponent is elected and if the moon aligns with Scorpio while Aries is ascending then if they live past 85 they will lose 10% of their benefits per year until they die. (Hint to the clueless -It's not true! I just made it up. And, no, I don't know anything about astrology, which is to say I know as much about it as I want to)

Hooboy! What a way to get votes! Can you think of other groups (other than gullible young people) we can play this game with--how about gullible sports fans? We can start a rumor that says that if Kerry is elected then, because of the threat of terrorism, mass gatherings of Americans will not be allowed, so all football, baseball and basketball games will be played in empty stadiums or arenas and fans will only be able to watch them on TV. If Kerry denies this, simply say that it "could happen" because of his "soft on terror" stance while looking serious, like you have gravitas or something.

On further reflection, this isn't a new game. It the same old politics of fright that has been going on too long. Politicians have certain topics they know with certainty will get some group of voters on their side. Threatening social security, the draft, medical care, jobs, security, the environment, gun ownership, racial groups ("if X is elected, he'll hurt all people of some color or another"), is an old political game. Maybe the oldest. Why the media reports these stories as if they were "news" is beyond me. It's just politics as usual.

All the more reason, if you've decided who you are going to vote for, to go do "early voting." Then you won't have to pay attention to this last minute nonsense anymore.

Update: Fixed a silly but embarrassing typo.
Update: Froggy paints a more vivid picture of the sad "scare" game.
Update: Instapundit cites a NYT column by William Safire and a NYT Op-Ed piece by David Brooks that deal with "scare tactics."

Monday, October 18, 2004

EagleSpeak Endorses President Bush

Hugh Hewitt has started a new symposium on the question "Why vote for Bush and what's wrong with Kerry?"

Simply put, President Bush has earned my support because he has proven since he has been in office that he is the right man, at the right time, in the right place. Under almost unimaginably difficult circumstances, he has sailed the ship of state on a true course. In the process he has avenged the deaths of innocent Americans, lead the fight to free millions from tyrants, sent a clear message to the world that the United States will not sit idle while evil men plot evil deeds against us.

That my assessment is validated by people that I respect and admire, such as John McCain, Tommy Franks, Rudy Guiliani and many others gives me comfort, but that validation is an independent reason, not the moving force.

I do not agree with every single action taken by the President during his tenure in office. In retrospect, however, I find I don't agree with every action I've taken in the last four years, either. Sometimes the best you can do is the best you can do.

There is much wrong with Mr. Kerry and it has been well covered by the SwiftVets and many others. Perhaps the most damning thing you can say about him is that the vast majority of the people who say they will vote for him do not, apparently, care about his policies or history but support him because he is "not Bush."

I'm certain that these same people would not buy a particular car because it is not a "Ford" - they choose a car because of the features it has and which they like. But here they are willing to waste their most precious and important choice on a man who they only know is "not Bush." How sad.

"I saw today what freedom looks like."

As we near our own elections, if there was ever a column that you should read, it is this one by Arthur Chrenkoff. (Hat tip: Instapundit).

We tend to take for granted freedom's blessings but every now and then something reminds us of how precious they are. Mr. Chrenkoff caught one of those moments for an embassy staffer. The quote is from Jeff Raleigh in Kabul:

Three years and two days ago, American troops came to Afghanistan to free a people who had been subjugated by a cruel and vicious oppressor. Today, I witnessed what their sacrifices and efforts, and those of other coalition troops, the international community and my colleagues at the U.S. Embassy had helped to win.


I visited three polling places in Kabul today and saw Afghan men and women lining up to exercise, for the first time in this nation's tortured history, the freedom to select their leader.

I watched as men and women, who been warned by the violent remnants of a defeated oppressor that exercising their freedom to vote would result in death, defiantly come to polling places to cast their votes.

I saw women, who had been not allowed out of their own homes under the old regime, walk freely into the voting booths and cast their ballot for their choice for President.

I saw today what freedom looks like.

I'm a cynical old guy, but it brought tears to my eyes.

Sunday, October 17, 2004

Kerry's Words Cause Problems for Peacekeepers

Captain's Quarters has a great piece on Senator Kerry's irresponsible yapping causing problems for those who are in the front lines. In this instance he is providing aid and comfort to supporters of ousted Aristide in Haiti. Here's a quote from the BBC report CQ cites: "The commander of the UN peacekeepers in Haiti has linked a recent upsurge in violence there to comments made by the US presidential candidate, John Kerry."

I do not think this is the first instance in which Kerry's words have caused problems for forces in the field.

I am certain if you visit SwiftVets you will learn of other people whose lives were affected by comments he made in the early 1970's.

Update: Corrected Swiftvet link



You've got to love Mudville Gazette for offering up photos of these clueless innocents who have voluntarily put themselves in satire's way by succumbing to the Fellowship of Reconciliation "we feel guilty for being Americans" campaign.

Greyhawk invites you to join the fun!

Update: The Fellowhip of Reconciliation has these history highlights:

1916-1917: Helps organize the National Civil Liberties Bureau, now the ACLU. Supports World War I conscientious objectors and contributes to legal recognition of CO rights...

1940s: Encourages nonviolent resistance to World War II. ...Organizes extensive campaign to prevent the Pentagon from extending wartime conscription into universal military training.

"Encourages nonviolent resistance to World War II?" Well, they should be happy someone was/is willing to step up and defend them when violence prevails.

It's all about oil? I'm shocked

Glenn Reynolds at Instapundit cites a story on the Chinese trying to stop the UN from imposing sanctions on Sudan to keep oil flowing out of the Sudan to China.

So, once again, It's all about oil? Just like it was in Iraq for the French, Russians, Chinese and other countries who are alleged to have been targets of the Saddamite "Axis of the Bribed?"

This Foxnews piece has information on allegations about the son of the UN secretary general as well as links to the Duelfer Report (downloadable in pdf format). This is from the "key findings" section:

One aspect of Saddam’s strategy of unhinging the UN’s sanctions against Iraq, centered on Saddam’s efforts
to influence certain UN SC permanent members, such as Russia, France, and China and some nonpermanent
(Syria, Ukraine) members to end UN sanctions. Under Saddam’s orders, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs
(MFA) formulated and implemented a strategy aimed at these UNSC members and international public
opinion with the purpose of ending UN sanctions and undermining its subsequent OFF program by diplomatic
and economic means. At a minimum, Saddam wanted to divide the fi ve permanent members and foment
international public support of Iraq at the UN and throughout the world by a savvy public relations campaign
and an extensive diplomatic effort.

As Gomer Pyle used to say, "Su-prise! Su-prise!"

The world-wide demand for oil is on the rise. And, while I'm cetainly no economist, I do grasp the concept that increasing demand should cause an increase in prices until either supply is increased or demand lowered.

For years, the end-user of crude oil (the public) has been getting bargin prices for gasoline in that the price of gasoline (and crude oil) has not been rising at a rate to keep pace with inflation (yes, even in Europe, where much of the price at the pump is tax related and not cost of crude connected). This April 2004 article from the SF Chronicle points out that gasoline pump prices in the U.S. adjusted for inflation, are not at historic highs. See also the nice chart posted at The Big Picture.

What that also means is that there has been little incentive to exlore for and exploit "hard to get" oil reservoirs. I remember working at a major oil company in the early 1980's, just before the big oil "bust" that dropped crude prices down to the low teens. There were exploration and deveolpment projects on the table that could have been justified if oil prices had gone up - but which were quicly abandoned when prices dropped. Why add to an apparent glut and lose money doing it? If "real" prices rise, then these projects can be economically justified, perhaps including the massively expensive "oil shale" projects...

I guess in fairness I should also point out that when gas prices are relatively low, consumers are willing to buy larger (possible safer) vehicles. If gasoline prices go up high enough, we may see a glut of the big Ford "Ex" SUVs at the used car lots (along with their GM and Chrysler counterparts) and an increase in econo-boxes on the streets.

I should also point out that one of the drawbacks in developing alternative fueled vehicles (AFVs) has been the high cost. If gasoline prices rise to some level where AFVs are price competitive then there should be an significant increase in them.

More globally, we see nations like China and France doing what nations do - they are trying to protect their own economies. All the fine "we are one world" language aside, national interests are the trump card, especially for countries which lack their own natural resources. China, in this case, seems to have locked up a substantial amount of Sudan's oil exports and I would really and truly be shocked to learn they were willing to abandon that supply for some "humanitarian" concern. Especially given their own track record in that area.

Update: Fixed links.

Saturday, October 16, 2004

Hewitt's Third Symposium Question 10-15-04

Here are the questions posed in Hugh Hewitt's Weekend Symposium #3, referring to the Democrat's Mary Cheney controversy: How deep a hole have John Kerry, Mary Beth Cahill and the Edwards dug for themselves? How lasting the damage?

If, as so many have said the “outing” of Mary Cheney is part of a plan hatched by this undistinguished group and their enablers “to transparently attempt to divide Bush's evangelical vote,” then they have failed to grasp the fundamental differences between that group of voters and themselves. It is misunderstanding that, if the “evangelicals” think about it points out an essential difference between the candidates and difference that should mobilize them to vote to support the Bush-Cheney ticket in full force and not, as the democratic strategists hope, stay home.

Mr. Bush believes that there is an objective standard against which actions and words can be judged. It is a coherent belief system, honored by many religions and by many philosophers. As C. S. Lewis put it in The Abolition of Man, “It is the doctrine of objective value, the belief that certain attitudes are really true, and others really false, to the kind of thing the universe is and the kind of things we are.”

Mr. Bush believes in an objective standard of “right” and “wrong.” Because of this belief system, he can call the leadership of countries that mean to do harm to others members of an “axis of evil.” To call someone evil is to hold that person up to an objective standard and find them wanting. At the second debate he took on Mr. Kerry’s nuanced stance on abortion by measuring it against an objective standard:

Well, it's pretty simple when they say: Are you for a ban on partial birth abortion? Yes or no?

And he was given a chance to vote, and he voted no. And that's just the way it is. That's a vote. It came right up. It's clear for everybody to see. And as I said: You can run but you can't hide the reality.

Mr. Bush’s core beliefs allow him to remain steadfast in his positions and his duties because he has an objective standard to guide him.

It is this Bush trait that the evangelicals should both recognize and embrace with their votes.

On the other hand, Mr. Kerry belongs to a different school of belief. C.S. Lewis wrote about “men without chests” –men who believe that all judgments about values are subjective. That is to say they believe that there are no absolute right things and no absolute wrong things. It is moral relativism. It is why Mr. Kerry can claim in the third debate that his approach toward abortion is not guided by his religion, but that his approach toward the environment is.

“I believe that choice is a woman's choice. It's between a woman, God and her doctor. And that's why I support that.

Now, I will not allow somebody to come in and change Roe v. Wade…

And I think that everything you do in public life has to be guided by your faith, affected by your faith, but without transferring it in any official way to other people.

That's why I fight against poverty. That's why I fight to clean up the environment and protect this earth.”

This lack of belief in objective value allows Mr. Kerry to “windsurf” his way through issues, changing direction with each shift in the political breeze and not to worry about the inconsistencies that might be objectively observed. He is always saying that whatever course he is currently on is the right course at the moment. “I actually voted for the $87 billion before I voted against it” means “and I was right both times.” It allows him to attempt to be both Vietnam War hero and hero Vietnam War protestor (as opposed to Muhammad Ali who measured his belief against the Vietnam against an objective standard and went to jail rather than compromise his belief).

It is this view that makes a candidate’s child “fair game” for use as political fodder. It is this view that would twist a parental expression of outrage at this callous ploy into somehow being evidence of the parent being “ashamed” of that child. By objective standards, including the norms of political discourse observed and, indeed, monitored by the press, it is a step into the dark side. It reveals a soulless obsession with winning at any cost and a thorough lack of decency.

If the press calls the Kerry campaign on this it could be a huge issue. If they don’t, then it may still matter if the “evangelicals” can see the cynical manipulation being attempted and get to the polls in massive numbers to support Mr. Bush as the candidate who best reflects their worldview.

Update: Fixed some typos.
Update: It's an honor to have Russ Vaughn add his poetic wit as comment #1
Update: And thanks to Pierre at ThePink Flamingo Bar & Grill for the kind words. Check out his site by using the link on my "Links" list.

Friday, October 15, 2004


Froggyruminations has this take on an article about an Army reserve motor transport platoon's alleged refusal to undertake a resupply mission. He expresses his (absolutely correct) concern that the refusal of troops to undertake a mission simply because they view the mission as "too dangerous" is something that cannot be tolerated in wartime. While I agree completely, I am not sure we have enough facts to judge this platoon's actions- yet. See my comments to his posting (and his response).

Also troubling to Froggy is the possible use that might be made of this situation by Mr. Kerry and his accomplices:

I predict that this will be spun by Kerry on the stump as the President not
sending enough Humvees to Iraq to protect our troops or some other tripe. This
is tailormade for democratic victim-mongering, and Kerry is the candidate who
was born to do this work. He is very familiar with the concept of backstabbing
your comrades in war, and he will take to this issue readily and with vigor. But
do not be deceived, war is an uncertain business, and force protection while
being a worthy goal, is secondary to victory.

I share his concern. If you read through this blogsite, you will become very aware that I am not a Kerry fan, nor do I place much faith in the "big media" to report the story without "spin."

The only effective counter to that spin is to be "firstest with the mostest" in terms of getting actual facts
out. If this platoon's mission was so vital to an operation that the risks involved to these particular troops was outweighed by the importance of the mission, say so. Loudly and clearly. Then, regardless of all other factors, there is no excuse for these soldiers failing to move out smartly irrespective of escorts or equipment condition.

However, the more difficult response comes if these troops were not on such "mission vital" tasking but were, say, supposed to go on a routine resupply run, albeit one one without normal escorts because those assets were being used
somewhere else for a job deemed more important than convoy escort.

Then their apparent "refusal" requires much more investigation. If I were conducting the investigation I would need details that are now unknown, including whether or not the troops involved reported, in advance of this mission assignment, that their equipment was in such poor condition that they could not use it to perform any
mission (not to bore you with details, but there are required reports up the chain of command that address this issue).
If the troops were reporting their concerns and their reports were being ignored by higher levels, then we praise the
troops and seek to see if more senior personnel failed to act on the reports to correct the problems identified.

However, if the troops didn't make such reports up the chain of command then they have no basis to complain when a mission comes up because it is their fault in failing to report their inability to perform their duties. By way of analogy, imagine a explosive ordnance disposal technician who breaks his hand while skiing and then, when being called on to defuse a bomb, for the first time announces he can't perform the task because of his hand. If the command, not knowing of his condition, was relying on him to be able to do his job, it will require a great deal of scrambling trying to get someone else in place to cover for him.

Readiness reports exist for a reason...

Update: Fixed links
Update: FoxNews Coverage provides some more info
Update: BlackFive weighs in with proper questions about where "middle managment" was in all this.BlackFive
Update: Unit Commander Reassigned at her own request, the unit's commander has asked to be reassigned...

Thursday, October 14, 2004

Chinese information Warfare and Taiwan

Chinese information warfare threatens Taiwan - The Washington Times: Nation/Politics - October 13, 2004

"Chinese information warfare threatens Taiwan

By Bill Gertz

Taiwan is facing a growing threat from Chinese computer attacks and other information-based strikes designed to cripple its infrastructures, a senior Pentagon official says.
    "China is actively developing options to create chaos on the island, to compromise components of Taiwan's critical infrastructure — telecommunications, utilities, broadcast media, cellular, Internet and computer networks," said Richard Lawless, deputy undersecretary of defense for East Asia and Pacific affairs."

Very interesting.

Info warfare is a growth industry...

Wednesday, October 13, 2004

Do Dinosaurs Fly in Papua New Guinea?


Do dinosaurs roam the earth? Other than at CBS?


PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (The National, Oct. 12) - Could the Siassi Islands in Papua New Guinea’s Morobe Province shed new light on prehistoric times?

Some, including American film maker Johathan Whitcome, would like to know the answer to this question.

Whitcomb, a "forensic videographer" recently arrived on Siassi hoping to see the "Ropen" – a huge flying creature reported to have features of a giant flying fox, with a mouth like that of a crocodile and wings that span up to 7 meters.

Whitcomb, who believes the creature is a dinosaur called "pterosaur," has been on Umboi Island, the main island of the Siassi Islands, trying to capture the creature on film...

Locals have told of how the luminous creature comes out in the night, flies toward the coast for feeding and how it liked feeding on the dead..."

Cool. Not that I believe it, but cool. Perhaps the Yeti, Ropen and Sasquatch can get together at Jackalope's place for a few beers and some chips.

Tuesday, October 12, 2004

Gen. Franks Criticizes Kerry And a Know-Nothing for Kerry Responds

Yahoo! News - Retired Gen. Franks Criticizes Kerry
Here's an interesting tale of truth and fiction:

By MARTIN GRIFFITH, Associated Press Writer

RENO, Nev. - Retired Gen. Tommy Franks launched a four-state campaign swing for President Bush by criticizing Sen. John Kerry's anti-Vietnam War activities and voting record on the military.

Franks, former commander of forces in Iraq and Afghanistan, faulted Kerry's votes on major weapons systems and intelligence issues, and against the 1991 Gulf War.

"If his voting record ruled the day, Saddam Hussein would not only be running Iraq but Kuwait," Franks told about 200 people Sunday at a Reno rally...Franks praised the Democratic challenger's military service during the Vietnam War, but said Kerry's later anti-war activities upset him. "The men I served with in Vietnam weren't war criminals and I'm proud I served with them," Franks said.

Franks, a registered independent in Florida who has voted for both Republican and Democratic presidential candidates, said he decided to endorse Bush because of his handling of the war against terrorism...

"I know a commander in chief when I see one and there's only one on the ballot," Franks said. "After September 11th, we were blessed to have a commander in chief who said enough is enough. "There are two options: to fight them (terrorists) over there or to fight them over here. I'm an over-there-kind-of-guy," he said..."
General Franks is really one of the good guys. Speaks his mind and speaks it clearly and without nuance. Not much doubt about where he stands.

In response to his comments, the Kerry campaign offered up a total Know-Nothing:

Kerry spokesman Sean Smith accused Franks of distorting Kerry's Senate voting record...

Kerry never branded any U.S. troops in Vietnam as war criminals, Smith added.

"The men who served with him in Vietnam are with him in his campaign and have been with him for 35 years," he said. "I think that says it all."

Sean Smith must wander through life without learning much.

Here's part of Kerry's opening statement during his 1971 testimony before the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations:

"I would like to talk, representing all those veterans, and say that several months ago in Detroit, we had an investigation at which over 150 honorably discharged and many very highly decorated veterans testified to war crimes committed in Southeast Asia, not isolated incidents but crimes committed on a day-to-day basis with the full awareness of officers at all levels of command."

and this:
"We who have come here to Washington have come here because we feel we have to be winter soldiers now. We could come back to this country; we could be quiet; we could hold our silence; we could not tell what went on in Vietnam, but we feel because of what threatens this country, the fact that the crimes threaten it, no reds, and not redcoats but the crimes which we are committing that threaten it, that we have to speak out."

and this:

"We are here in Washington also to say that the problem of this war is not just a question of war and diplomacy. It is part and parcel of everything that we are trying as human beings to communicate to people in this country, the question of racism, which is rampant in the military, and so many other questions also, the use of weapons, the hypocrisy in our taking umbrage in the Geneva Conventions and using that as justification for a continuation of this war, when we are more guilty than any other body of violations of those Geneva Conventions, in the use of free fire zones, harassment interdiction fire, search and destroy missions, the bombings, the torture of prisoners, the killing of prisoners, accepted policy by many units in South Vietnam. That is what we are trying to say. It is party and parcel of everything."

and this:

April 18, 1971 -- John Kerry and Al Hubbard appear on NBC's "Meet the Press" to allege widespread atrocities by U.S. soldiers in Vietnam. Hubbard is introduced
as a former Air Force captain who had spent two years in Vietnam and was wounded in action. Kerry seems to admit to committing war crimes, saying, "There are all
kinds of atrocities, and I would have to say that, yes, yes, I committed the same kind of atrocities as thousands of other soldiers have committed in that I took part in shootings in free fire zones. I conducted harassment and interdiction fire. I used 50 calibre machine guns, which we were granted and ordered to use, which were our only weapon against people. I took part in search and destroy missions, in the burning of villages."

Well, Mr.Smith? Are you going to try again to say that John Kerry "Kerry never branded any U.S. troops in Vietnam as war criminals?" Is it really your position that if someone repeats a slander that means he didn't say it himself?

As for your contention that the "The men who served with him in Vietnam are with him in his campaign..." - I suggest you visit and learn about those men who served with him who are not with him.

Update: Corrected posting date

Update: Beldar like General Franks line about "I know a commander in chief when I see one and there's only one on the ballot"

Kerry's "Terrorism as Nuisance"

My initial reaction to the New York Times magazine interview with John Kerry was less negative than I thought it would be. In fact, thanks to some reasonable reporting, I sort of have feel for Senator Kerry’s thought processes. That doesn’t give me much comfort.

I’m beginning to get the idea that Mr. Kerry is sort of a “one trick pony” when it comes to the world of ideas. Everything he says seems to be based on an analogy to one of his prior experiences. But he doesn’t seem to be able to move quickly to embrace new ideas, but he does have a certain consistency. An odd, out-of-phase consistency.

Thus, we see his clumsy analogy between terrorism and organized crime and prostitution. He has some experience prosecuting the latter, so he chooses to apply that knowledge to the battle against the former. His view of the military is shaped by his own experience in Vietnam. Every war becomes the Vietnam War. His view of the supremacy of diplomacy was probably shaped by the experience of growing up in a diplomat’s family. His long held opposition to nuclear weapons has not been modified over the years, so we see his strong reaction to the possibility of the U.S. developing nuclear bunker busters. It may explain why he has remained so classically leftist while many in his party moved to a more centrist positions.

So, when he discusses his view of terrorism, it is a view shaped by his experiences in working with drug lords and money launderers, the “non-state” forces that he went after before. Once again he turns to what he has done before.
In the the New York Times Magazine article (The New York Times > Magazine > Kerry's Undeclared War )
Bai, the reporter, attempts to distinguish President Bush’s position from Mr. Kerry’s by asserting that Bush is focusing on nations rather than these stateless supranational groups. I believe this understates the effort being made by the administration to use law enforcement techniques to clamp down on terrorist money while also providing examples of how the big stick will be used to thump nations who support terrorists. While they are not yet completely to be trusted, certainly Pakistan and Libya seem to have received loud and clear the message Mr. Bush sent out about being “with us or against us” in the fight against global terrorism.

Senator Kerry’s approach fails to recognize that some states operate outside the bounds of international law. Diplomacy has minimal impact on them. Indeed, some of these states are barely states at all, but are rather merely borders that encompass everything from street level dictatorships to tribal wars to warlord enclaves (think Somalia or Rwanda). Other states do not control all of their ostensible territory, but have large chunks that are under the rule of the gun. Since they have little or no trade, sanctions can have little impact on them (North Korea for instance, seems to be willing to allow its own people to starve rather than mend its ways). When dealing with such “nations” attempting to even find a government to negotiate with that has the power to enforce the results of any such diplomatic effort is a challenge. Further, there are other states, such as Iran, who recognize that Western dependence on their oil puts them outside the threat of meaningful sanctions.

Kerry seems unwilling to accept the idea that there are states that are so corrupt or so filled with rage that they will harbor virtually any group willing to pay enough protection money or to do the bidding of the regime on occasion, while maintaining as degree of “plausible deniability” about what they are doing. Iran, in particular, seems to fall into this mode.

Senator Kerry also seems naïve in expecting that he can form airtight alliances that will prove incapable of succumbing to bribery and self-interest. He has not addressed the issue of the Oil for Food scandal on the sanctions program against Iraq, perhaps because he believes that a certain level of corruption is inevitable, based on his past experience in dealing with organized crime.

Kerry’s view must be tested by voters against the real world they live in. Is Kerry simply too idealistic? Rudy Giuliani thinks so and challenges Kerry’s thought that, given the seeming impossibility of ever truly defeating terrorism, maybe the best we can hope for is a world in which terrorism is not a big thing, but put back into place as one of life’s “nuisances”:

I’m wondering exactly when Senator Kerry thought they were just a nuisance.
Maybe when they attacked the USS Cole? Or when they attacked the World Trade
Center in 1993? Or when they slaughtered the Israeli athletes at the Munich
Olympics in 1972? Or killed Leon Klinghoffer by throwing him overboard? Or the
innumerable number of terrorist acts that they committed in the 70s, the 80s and
the 90s, leading up to September 11?

This is so different from the President’s view and my own, which is in those days, when we were fooling
ourselves about the danger of terrorism, we were actually in the greatest
danger. When you don’t confront correctly and view realistically the danger that
you face, that’s when you’re at the greatest risk. When you at least realize the
danger and you begin to confront it, then you begin to become safer. And for him
to say that in the good old days – I’m assuming he means the 90s and the 80s and
the 70s -- they were just a nuisance, this really begins to explain a lot of his
inconsistent positions on how to deal with it because he’s not defining it

I think Mr. Kerry’s definition is shaped by his inability to adapt to the new,
cold and hard reality of the post 9/11world. And it is wrong.

Update: corrected posting date

Sunday, October 10, 2004

Oh, Kosovo!

military news about Balkans

As of August 2004:
There are still 20,000 peacekeepers in Kosovo, and no peace. There is 55 percent unemployment, criminal gangs control much of the economic activity there is and most of the population believes that the province should be independent. But the province is still technically part of Serbia. The Albanian majority wants to expel, by force is necessary, the remaining non-Albanians. The UN police force is 20 percent understrength and unable to deal with the growing crime rate...
There are about 20,000 NATO troops on the ground in Kosovo. This number includes the American forces. In addition to the NATO forces, the United Nation Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK) has about 3,500 international police. The Kosovo Police Force has 6700 men. The Kosovo Protection Corps, consists of approximately 5,000. In other words, there are about 28,000 people whose job it is to maintain order in Kosovo.

Kosovo has, more or less, a population of about 1.9 million, about the same as the Seattle, Washington. Seattle has a police force of 1,800. And King County, in which Seattle is located has about 500 members of its sheriff’s department.

The ratio of Seattle residents to law enforcers is 826 citizen per officer. In Kosovo the ratio is 68 to one. Apparently that is not enough.

Kosovo’s economic outlook is bleak. More than five years after UNMIK and NATO moved in there is almost no industry. According to a study by the Economic Strategy And Project Identification Group(ESPIG) released in August 2004 under the auspices of the European Stability Initiative:

“The private sector that has emerged since 1999 is predominantly small- scale, low-capital intensive ventures in trade and construction. Some local entrepreneurs were able to generate quick wealth as importers. However, apart from building materials, some furniture production and a small food-processing sector, there is hardly any local manufacturing. In Pristina’s “industrial zone”, the largest in Kosovo, 66 plots were rented out in 2002: only 16 were used for production, all with three employees or less,and most were producing doors and window frames.

The post-war boom was also transfer-financed, and therefore unsustainable. The estimated total public expenditure in 2000 in Kosovo was €6.3 billion. In 2003, this had gone down to €3.1 billion (see table). These are very rough estimates, undertaken by the Macroeconomic Policy Unit of the Ministry of Finance and Economy. But the overall implications are clear: GDP growth in Kosovo’s economy was driven by external transfers, rather than from any lasting increase in the productivity of Kosovo’s enterprises. As a result, as budgetary support and reconstruction aid are withdrawn, Kosovo’s economy is almost certain to contract.”

In short, economic things are bad and will get worse.

Ethnic violence remains an issue:
ethnic violence

U. S. troop levels are down to about 2,500 in Kosovo, so the burden here is being carried by the UN and the Europeans. A French general just took over the NATO forces.

The Kosovar Albanians want an independent nation for themselves and are working hard to chase out the Serbs who remain in Kosovo.

In short, after 5 years and billions of dollars, Kosovo is still a mess.

Where are Kerry and Edwards on this issue? Why aren't they asking for investigations into what the exit strategy of the administration that got us into this mess was?

We know the answer. Bill Clinton got us in with Wes Clark's help. And so we stay.

Update: Fixed links including removing a link to a reference that seems to have disappeared, corrected spelling and some other things.

Don't Miss This!

Don't miss Jonah Goldberg's article "Shame, Shame, Shame"

Click on the title to go there.


The Professionals

Here's some background to my comments: I spent most of my life around and in the military. Grew up in a military family (Air Force), married an Army brat. Went through Navy ROTC and served about 9 years active duty and 21 years reserve. My oldest son is a Navy pilot.

My dad was a WWII and Korea Air Force veteran who started out in the Army's segregated (mostly white officers, black troopers) horse cavalry patrolling the Mexican border, flew bombing missions over Germany with the Mighty 8th Air Force, flew B-26 missions in Korea, and ended up serving in the Strategic Air Command during the long, dark Cold War years. My father-in-law won a Bronze Star on the beaches of Normandy and, as a tanker, spent several years in Germany holding the Fulda Gap. They were professionals. Experts.

Before GPS, my dad could navigate a bomber group through the sky from point A to point B using the stars, the sun and some math. And get them there on time, on target. Probably uniquely for an Air Force officer, because of his cavalry background, he could shoot a .45 while on a horse at a gallop and hit his target. My father-in -law served as an advisor in Vietnam almost before anyone knew we were there. They could guide junior officers, put up with the admin and get the mission done. They were the good guys. And they were just part of the larger team.

In my own service I did Vietnam (on a ship), Desert Storm (on the beach in Saudi Arabia) and Kosovo staff duty at the NATO headquarters in Italy. Though much of my time was reserve, the reserves became the "subject matter experts" in a lot of areas the active forces decided were not needed on a daily basis. We got pretty good at some things. I know in the Army that the Civil Affairs people were/are largely reservists. Lawyers, city managers and mayors. People with the skill set to help other countries develop. Professionals.

My exposure to the modern, post-Vietnam active forces caused me to have nothing but respect for the young men and women who decided to serve the United States.

We have an exceptionally professional military, active and reserve. Every American should be proud, and humbled, by the willingness of these young men and women to put it all on the line for us all day, every day, in every part of the globe. From the Coast Guard Port Security Teams to Marine Recon to the submarine crews, they all serve to protect and defend.

As a lawyer in civilian life, I have been exposed to other professionals. Not one of them has been any better than the people I served with on active duty or with the reserves.

So I go a little crazy when some mother or father acts as if the military is a job of last resort for life's losers.

Who worry about their precious child being called to serve via a draft.

Who look at me as if I just grew three heads when I tell them my son is deployed and I'm proud of him out there doing his job. Who are astonished when my younger son says he wants to be a Navy fighter pilot.

Who don't seem to have a handle on the GWOT and how important this mission is.

I worry that their precious child doesn't believe that volunteering to serve is the least he or she could do. For whom the expression "freedom isn't free" has no meaning.

I worry about the minds who so misunderstand the current military that they would propose a draft so that the "rich" might share the dangers along with the "poor."

The people in the services are many things but what they are most is professional. And they resent the hell out of the patronizing attitude of these draft-mongers.

Here an anonymous trooper lays out a few words that might help to explain how the professionals feel about the idea of forcing people to join them:
Enlistment ain't a punishment, our units ain't a cell.
We want no men
women here who'll turn their face from hell.

We understand and
welcome the sacred charge we hold.
We signed on for this country;
peace or war unfold.

We've been called 'bands of brothers'
we're here to
say that's true.
We all train long and hard, and trust all
crave to see it

Who's at our side is vital, likewise who
minds our back.
Our lives are too important for this motivation's lack.

Absolutely correct!