Eyes of the Fleet

Eyes of the Fleet

Tuesday, November 30, 2004

Boom! A Nuclear Sea of Fire

The North Korean are always threatening their neighbors (and pretty much anybody else) with a "nuclear sea of fire".

It reminded me of an old picture I had seen of the USS Agerholm (DD-826) (fondly known as the "Saggy Aggy") when she shot a nuclear depth charge using an ASROC (anti-submarine rocket). Thanks to the miracle of the internet, I was able to track down that photo:

Man, that makes a big hole in the ocean!

More photos at this site. Scroll down to find them.

UAV Doing Scouting for the Marines

The splendid UAV Blog reports that in Iraq the Marines Aided by Robotic Airplane in Iraq. The UAV has the excellent name of "ScanEagle". ABC story cited by UAV Blog is linked here.
"It travels above insurgent positions and sends real-time video images to Marines on the ground. The unmanned device can relay facial expressions on enemy soldiers, and can transmit in such detail that it shows steam rising from their coffee."

Check out the Boeing ScanEagle site. And some info from UAV World here.
Here's one being launched in Iraq.

Oh, Boy, a New Piracy Report!

The latest Weekly Piracy Report is on the International Chamber of Commerce site.

Let's see: Nigeria (2), Malacca Straits(2), Jamaica, Guyana, India(2), Brazil, Indonesia.

More reports of automatic weapons being used. Hmmm.

Those Intelligence Reforms

Patterico has a short post on the lousy PR performance of the GOP in which the conservative side always seems to be blamed for anything bad - the example he uses involves the press assigning responsibility to the Republicans for the government shutdown some years ago. His main point is focused on the Intelligence Bill that the 9/11 Commission is trying to drive through Congress and how, once again, the "blame" for its failure to gain quick passage is being laid on a couple of GOP congressmen.

I agree with him that the Republicans do a lousy job of being proactive in what should easily portrayed (because it's true) as a principled stand against rushing into law "reforms" that may, in fact, make matters worse.

Patterico cites to Cori Dauber's posting which correctly states:
The way the stall on the intelligence reform bill is being reported is really quite striking. Essentially it's all being put on two Republicans, Rep. Hunter, and Rep. Sensenbrenner, and by far Hunter is getting off with the lighter treatment of the two here, since he's being portrayed as wrong-headed (perhaps even as a tool of the Pentagon in its defense of turf), but since his motivation is generally explained as rooted in the fact that his son has served in Iraq, and therefore he wants to protect the troops (what, no one else does?) he's just a tool. Sensenbrenner's argument is never explained, nor is his motivation.
... And now, of course, the 9/11 Commissioners have gotten back in the game. These guys play for keeps when it comes to political rhetoric, and they just aren't going to let some congressman get in the way of a bill based on their recommendations. As before, the commissioners seem interested primarily in structuring their rhetoric in such a way as to preclude debate: if you are interested in debate you are interested in unconscionable delay in a self-evidently good bill: standing in the way not just of progress but of defending the American people.
One of the comments to this piece quotes from Judge Richard Posner's review of the 9/11 Commission report from the New York Times
Much more troublesome are the inclusion in the report of recommendations (rather than just investigative findings) and the commissioners' misplaced, though successful, quest for unanimity. Combining an investigation of the attacks with proposals for preventing future attacks is the same mistake as combining intelligence with policy. The way a problem is described is bound to influence the choice of how to solve it. The commission's contention that our intelligence structure is unsound predisposed it to blame the structure for the failure to prevent the 9/11 attacks, whether it did or not...

At least the commission was consistent. It believes in centralizing intelligence, and people who prefer centralized, pyramidal governance structures to diversity and competition deprecate dissent. But insistence on unanimity, like central planning, deprives decision makers of a full range of alternatives...

The tale of how we were surprised by the 9/11 attacks is a product of hindsight; it could not be otherwise. And with the aid of hindsight it is easy to identify missed opportunities (though fewer than had been suspected) to have prevented the attacks, and tempting to leap from that observation to the conclusion that the failure to prevent them was the result not of bad luck, the enemy's skill and ingenuity or the difficulty of defending against suicide attacks or protecting an almost infinite array of potential targets, but of systemic failures in the nation's intelligence and security apparatus that can be corrected by changing the apparatus.

That is the leap the commission makes, and it is not sustained by the report's narrative. The narrative points to something different, banal and deeply disturbing: that it is almost impossible to take effective action to prevent something that hasn't occurred previously. Once the 9/11 attacks did occur, measures were taken that have reduced the likelihood of a recurrence. But before the attacks, it was psychologically and politically impossible to take those measures...

After Pearl Harbor, in typical American fashion, the search was made to, as we used to say in the Navy, "identify the guilty and punish the innocent." The two innocents punished, Admiral Kimmel and General Short, were at the end of the information chain farthest from the intelligence czars of their day. I saw recently that 60+ years later, Congress has finally
undertaken to exonerate these men. See here for a short history of the Kimmel and Short story (and another argument as to why we shouldn't rush to implement changes post-9/11).

Conservatism is defined by me as a reluctance to make changes unless and until the need has been clearly identified. Someone has to be in charge of worrying about consequences of passing such a bill, whether those consequences be intended or unintended. Now, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff has raised some concerns about the consequences of taking away his intelligence assets and assigning them to some "czar." This has been portrayed by some as "money and power" issue, but I know the end users of intel would like to have what they want when they want it and not have to submit a request in triplicate that another agency gets to prioritize.

That there may be a tremendous amount of seeming redundancy in the current structure bothers me not at all. The intelligence gathered by the Defense Intelligence Agency, the CIA, and Navy, Army and Air Force intelligence all have different focuses. I have seen no evidence that the existence of these perhaps parallel systems played any role in 9/11.

Instead, everything I have read and seen points to a problem of coordination between information gathered by the FBI and the CIA. In fact, our intelligence was pretty good - it just never got connected. Some of this problem was caused by an artificial "wall" between them as far as the sharing of domestic and foreign intelligence. The "cure" of the 9/11 Commission may address that issue but it may also cause more harm. It's time to ignore the 9/11 commissioners and take a hard look at what this bill might really do.

I note that the Wall Street Journal has a piece on its editorial page (11/30/04) by John Lehman and Bob Kerrey, "Safety in Intelligence." (available on the web to subscribers only). These gentlemen attempt to make the case that military commanders ought to be happy with the new bill for 3 reasons:
(1) they'll get even better tactical intelligence because the current "balkanized and stovepiped structure" will be streamlined when "a single authority able to focus the unified efforts of our entire intelligence community upon the most urgent needs of combatant commanders and civilian decision makers;"
(2) the bill "ensures that the person responsible for national intelligence will have the authority to do the job," and
(3) with better intelligence available to the civilian authority, it will be "less likely that our armed forces will need to be sent into armed conflict. Good intelligence can prevent wars in the first place. And the best war is the one that a strong military, capable diplomats and timely intelligence have made unnecessary."

I'm not a senior military commander but I am not impressed with this. A "single authority" can also decide that you don't need what you ask for, or as in the case of Kimmel and Short, decide to keep information from you and still not be held accountable when your mission goe awry because of it. No. More study is needed.

Monday, November 29, 2004

Go to the link and read "A Small and Often Tragic World"

Read this.

North Korea Long Range Missile Update

North Korea Zone quotes a CIA document (relax, it's unclassified) that says Taepo Dong-2 Ready for Testing.
The multiple-stage Taepo Dong-2- potentially capable of reaching parts of the United States with a nuclear-weapon-sized payload-may be ready for flight-testing.

How's that drill go again? Duck and...

Update: Need specification on the TD-2? Try this.
The Taep’o-dong 2’s major use is as a weapon of international blackmail. Easily equipped with a nuclear weapon, it is the first direct threat to the United States from North Korea. It will likely be used as a threat of nuclear escalation in response to any American intervention during a second Korean war. Just as the People’s Republic of China (PRC) Lt. Gen. Xiong Guang Kai stated that Americans “care more about Los Angeles than they do Tai Pei,” North Korea will likely rely on American unwillingness to lose cities rather than withdraw from Korea. In addition, it will likely be used to blackmail wealthier countries for energy and food, similar to how the North Korean nuclear program has been used. It is also a major income generator as an item for export.

In an earlier post I offered up a link to Nicholas Eberstadt's excellent Policy Review piece on the North Korean economy. Here's the part most relevant to the TD-2 in light of the above:
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.

One man's nuclear blackmail is another man's national economic strategy.

Sunday, November 28, 2004

North Korean Rumors

It Makes a Difference to the Sheep: LATEST RUMORS on November 22 cites to a NY Times article reporting:
After weeks of reports from North Korea of defecting generals, antigovernment posters and the disappearance of portraits of the country's ruler, the leader of Japan's governing party warned Sunday of the prospects of "regime change" in North Korea.

However, the Marmot Hole revives the "Psych warfare" theory first raised by the DPRK as noted in my earlier post. The Marmot points out a number of inconsistencies with this theory, including
What does make it unusual however - and the Chosun Ilbo points this out - is that on Nov. 20, the Choson Sinbo - the mouthpiece of the pro-Pyongyang General Association of Korean Residents in Japan- ran a dispatch from Pyongyang claiming that the portraits were in fact taken down in international venues, complete with quotes from an official from the People's Palace of Culture explaining how the removals were carried out on orders from Kim Jong-il himself and a touching tale of the younger Kim's undying fidelity to his late dad.

Marmot goes off on a theory of a disinformation campaign by the US...but when he ran this theory by one of his guest bloggers
he pointed out that the removal of the portrait from the People's Palace of Culture was an incontrovertible fact-there are pictures to prove it. Fair enough. But that still leaves us with a large pile of other stories - mostly of dubious credibility - all getting leaked at once. You also have the North Koreans issuing contradictory explanations in less than a week, which might be simply Orwellian "We at war with Eurasia and have always been at war with Eurasia," or it could mean ... that they are genuinely confused by all that's being reported about their little gangster kingdom.

A "disinformation conspiracy" against the DPRK sounds like fun, but it violates the guidelines of Occam's Razor.

I think that, at best, there seems to be whole lot of confusion going on in North Korea, but I doubt that the source is primarily external.
Update: Actually, Nomad has the post that got me started on rumors - he linked to a bit that reported that "China hedges on talk of Dear Leader's Death":
Chinese officials hedged a bit yesterday when questioned about a rumor that the North Korean leader, Kim Jong-il, had died.
Speculation swept Seoul's stock market yesterday afternoon that Mr. Kim had been shot and killed.
At its daily press briefing yesterday in Beijing, the Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman, Zhang Qiyue, said she had not been informed about such a report and did not know if the rumor was true.
Ms. Zhang said no abnormal signs had been seen in the North, citing a remark by Wu Dawei, the vice foreign minister in charge of Asian affairs.
"Kim" reports that the rumors of his death are exaggerated.

So many rumors, so little time.

If you were missing Kim Jong-Il...here he is!

Lose your Kim Jong-Il? This site says they've got him! Hat tip: NK Zone

Here's to One of the Good Guys!

Power Line introduces us to one of the quiet heroes.

I like Mike, but Command Sgt. Maj. Jordan, I salute.

Getting Not So Far Away from it All

Every now and then I feel the urge to get away from it all and go sailing in a small boat.

Apparently, the people who buy toys like this feel the need to carry the kitchen sink and more when they get underway. The one pictured is 100 feet long.

U.S. Navy Osprey (MHC-51) class coastal minesweepers are 188 feet long.

But they don't have Master Bedroom suites and hot tubs.

Update: Make that a "Master Stateroom" suite. Oops.

Saturday, November 27, 2004

Yacht Piracy Info Center

Arrgh! Here's Yacht Piracy - Info-Center for Blue Water Sailors.

Just in case you were wondering if it was safe to go to sea in small boats.

North Korea Accuses U.S.of Psych Job

Here's an interesting story from the Daily Times of Pakistan: "North Korea accuses America of waging psychological warfare."

Seems to be working so far.

A Timely Golden Oldie: The Problem with the UN

Long before the current UN discussions at the Diplomad and the Belmont Club, Truth Laid Bear was exposing the fundamental problem with the UN:
So what’s wrong with it? The layers of useless bureaucracy? The seeming inability to do anything constructive without U.S. assistance? The latent (and not-so-latent) anti-Americanism and anti-Semitism?

These are all symptoms, but they’re not the problem. No, the problem with the United Nations is that second word: nations.

Supporters of the U.N. worship the ideal of “international consensus” and “international law”, speaking of these concepts in hushed and reverent tones. The core belief is a simple one: the actions of any single nation are by definition less proper and less moral than actions that arise from a consensus among nations.

This seems reasonable on its face to most enlightened types who’ve come to think democracy is a good idea over the centuries. One man, one vote; one country, one vote, right? The ideals of democracy are the heart and soul of free societies the world over; by applying them to the international stage, we create a framework for ensuring that tyranny between nations does not occur, just as democracy defends against tyranny between men. Therefore: international consensus is by definition a good and moral thing, to be sought after wherever possible.



There’s a crucial piece missing in this formulation, and in the reality of the United Nations: that the nations in question must all be free, democratic societies. Otherwise, all moral bets are off.

U.N.-philes use the idea of international consensus as a synonym for morality; for justice. But in our present world, it just isn’t so. Ask any “peace” protester opposing our coming action against Saddam whether having a Security Council member state vote in favor of a course of action makes it a moral thing: betcha they say “yes”.

Well, what if the member state is Syria? What then? Do you truly sleep better at night knowing that particularly tyranny blesses your actions?

The U.N. is a grand shell game. It looks like democracy; it acts like democracy. It has all the trappings of democracy; votes and debate and all those wonderful, wonderful procedures. But at its very heart, the votes come from member governments, and many of those aren’t democracies at all. And there, the system breaks down.

Older thoughts, but still valid.


Most interesting post on how things go bad in the international scheme of things Rwanda Ten Years after the Genocide

Hat tip: Belmont Club

Containing Saudi Arabia or Iran?

Professor Bainbridge offers up a quote from a review of George Freidman's (Stratfor) book America's Secret War that asserts that one of the goals of the Iraq invasion was to complete the encirclement of ...Saudi Arabia. I think this may have been a consequence of the war, but not the main goal. In short, although I haven't read Mr. Friedman's book, I disagree with the conclusion as set forth by the good Professor.

As I have argued before, the invasion of Iraq, coupled with the invasion of Afghanistan and the turning of Pakistan completes what is essentially an encirclement of Iran. Further, as a look at a topographic map will tell you, Iraq provides far easier access to Iran's interior than other alternatives.

Saudi Arabia may contain sources of funding and even human assets for terrorism, but Saudi Arabia itself is not, in my view, a hard target to attack if American protection is removed. There is not much need to encircle it. Iran, however, is a much tougher nut to crack, from every direction except the west.

Further, the fact that some Saudis have provided financing of terrorism and for Islamic fundamentalist schools does not mean that they are enthralled with Iran becoming the biggest dog in the neighborhood. Underneath it all, they are realists. At some point the Saudi royals will have to rein in the more extreme of their brethern (literally). The removal of U.S. forces from the Kingdom should help quell anti-American resentment among the more moderate elites. Saudi Arabia has enough internal problems to keep it busy for the foreseeable future.

Update: Here's a link to a relief map of Iran.
Update2: Lots of good comments at Professor Bainbridge's site, but here's good quote from The Owners Manual
Most of the 9/11 perps were Saudis, providing legitimacy to reacting against Saudi Arabia.  But we didn't because... they have too much oil.  Instead, we attacked Iraq... who only has a whole lot of oil. 
Remaining steadfast in the task of cramming democracy down on people who increasingly resist it at the cost of a thousand of our finest countrymen is difficult enough without asserting that it is all about containing an erstwhile ally.  That sounds like war by State Department. 

Friday, November 26, 2004

Whatever happened to Pierre Bunel?

Remember Major Pierre Bunel? He was assigned to NATO headquarters in Brussels and was accused of leaking bombiong plans to the Serbian government during the Kosovo hostilities. He was arrested and tried by a French military court. The result of the trial as reported by the World Socialist Web Site France: Former intelligence officer Bunel jailed , Bunel got perhaps a few weeks of detention. As those wacky socialists tell it:
The verdict itself and the trial’s proceedings can only deepen suspicions of a high-level cover-up, for fear of exposing the fact that Bunel was not acting alone but on behalf of a section of France’s state apparatus.

You think?

Reading North Korea teas leaves? Wishful thinking or reality?

Express India poses the fifty cent question about the various rumors floating around the DPRK: Change in North Korea, or does news expand in vacuum?

Thursday, November 25, 2004

The Lowest Possible Low Life

This news story about a women stealing toys from Toys for Tots shows how low a person can slide on the "low life" scale.

Hundreds of kids who could have benefited from the Marine Toys for Tots Foundation charity may have to do without because this piece of human debris stole their toys. Toys which will probably now be sold on Ebay or at a flea market. I hope some video gets her license plate number because she deserves jail time.

If you like to help make up for the losses, here's a listing of North Carolina Toys for Tots coordinators. Ms. Connie Lashmet, the Toys for Tots coordinator for Wayne, Duplin and Sampson counties (the affected areas) is on the list. Please help.

Here's a photo of the slimeball.

Update: I note that a Wal-Mart spokesman says they'll help replace the stolen toys. Thanks, Wal-Mart! Despite this kindness, there is still a huge need for toys to meet the need and I encourage you to contirbute.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Thanks to Russ Vaughn for his poetic work and to Mrs. Greyhawk at Mudville Gazette for her fine collage. And thanks again to our soldiers, Marines, airmen and sailors! God bless you all!

Kim Jong-il's Brother-in-law purged?

The Chosun Ilbo reports rumors intel reports to that effect.
In a report to the (South Korean)National Assembly's Intelligence Committee on Thursday, the NIS (South Korean National Intelligence Servcie) said, "We understand that Chang Sung-taek was purged for sectarian behavior such as creating his own clique within the military ... We know that seven or eight generals who were part of Chang's faction were removed from command".

EU, Iran Clash Over Terms of Nuclear Freeze

Yahoo! News - EU, Iran Clash Over Terms of Nuclear Freeze

So soon?

Wednesday, November 24, 2004


My daughter-in-law has arrived for Thanksgiving. Her husband, my older son, is deployed as a Navy helicopter pilot to the Middle East. I hope he is enjoying the day with friends.

We are enjoying his wife.

One of the things I'm thankful for is the vastly improved ability of our deployed troops and sailors to communicate with their loved ones while away from home. My son and his wife chat by instant messages and using some sort of VOIP (voice over internet protocol).

When I deployed we wrote letters and sent them in batches, carefully numbering them so that the sequence was understood. When my first child was born, I got news of it through a Red Cross message routed through Radio Central on the destroyer I was serving in. When we got to Subic I spent a small fortune trying to call my wife's family to learn important details. I spoke to my mother-in-law's maid several times (because my wife's family were all at the hospital), but it took a couple of days to talk to anyone else. I got the first photos several weeks later. Now, I guess digital pictures zip through the ether at near light speed and proud new dads get to see their new responsibility pretty quickly.

I'm thankful for anything that makes life better for our warriors and the huge support team behind them.

And I'm thankful for this great country that produces such men and women and supports them.

Fear of Impending Famine in North Korea

North Korea Zone posts on Impending Famine in NK? This despite the fact that "North Korea enjoyed a bumper crop this year, the best harvest in 10 years."

I'm not impressed by the "best harvest" info. If you have in the past only produced 60% of what you need to feed your people, a 25% increase only gets you to being able to feed 75% of your people. World over-producers of food will soon be called on to provide low cost/free food aid to prevent famine while North Korea continues to act in ways contrary to the best interests of those over-producers, such as developing nuclear weapons and, apparently, chemical weapons.

Something has got to give.

Tuesday, November 23, 2004

Maybe more than you wanted to know about string theory

Now that the U.S. election is over, it may be time to broaden your cocktail party conversation (or perhaps your beer and bar nuts conversation) by learning something new to impress your audience with. The Official String Theory Web Site provides just what you need to start using terms like "Planck length" and "excitation modes" or "fermionic repulsion pressure" in ways certain to interest the object of your desire...hey, you might engage in some "strong" or "weak" coupling if you explain your "M theory" just right. Good luck!

North Korea Tested Chemical Weapons?

GW North Korea is a George Washington University student site that cites here to a New Zealand site reporting the
North Korea conducted lethal chemical experiments on humans until 2002 as part of a programme to develop weapons of mass destruction, a human rights group said yesterday, quoting former scientists from the communist state.
Rabbi Abraham Cooper of the Simon Wiesenthal Centre said the scientists gave first-person testimony describing gassing of political prisoners in the North from the 1970s until 2002.

The GW students are properly skeptical of the source, but also properly concerned about the ramifications if true.

Dan Rather to Step Down as CBS Anchor

Dan Rather to Step Down as CBS Anchor says the headline. He's going to leave the position he abandoned earlier this year.

Monday, November 22, 2004

Clemson, South Carolina Official Negate Bowls after Fight

In a move in keeping with what used to be the traditions of college athletics, officials at Clemson Univerity and the University of South Carolina won't let their teams accept bowl bids as described here.

Good for them!

Kosovo Albanians Protest War Crimes Trial

Reuters reports a protest in Pristina over the war crimes trial of three Kosovar Albanians.
Kosovo's 90-percent Albanian majority sees the 1998-99 guerrilla war as one of liberation from Serb forces.

Anger at the U.N.-sponsored trial has coincided with rising bitterness against Kosovo's U.N. administration, which remains in control five years after a war which Albanians believed would lead swiftly to independence.

"If this continues we will find other ways to prevent the dignity and blood of the martyrs from being trampled on," Sherif Krasniqi, a member of the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) veterans group which organised the protest, told the crowd

The Incident in Fallujah Updates

There has been more posting and other events impacting this event. Click here to see updates to my original post.

Chrenkoff reports the good Iraqi news

Quick! Read Chrenkoff.

It's the other side of the coin.

Saturday, November 20, 2004

North Korea May Sell Plutonium to Terrorists

In light of some interesting blog discussion going on over at Froggyruminations and at Citizen Smash on the possibility of some sort of nuke terrorist attack on the U. S., this report might raise some eyebrows.
Impoverished North Korea might resort to selling weapons-grade plutonium to terrorists for much-needed cash, and that would be "disastrous for the world," the top U.S. military commander in South Korea said Friday.
Gen. Leon J. LaPorte said the communist state may have harvested plutonium from 8,000 spent nuclear rods, which experts say could yield enough material for several atomic bombs.
(Hat tip: North Korea Zone)

It raised mine.

In Case We Forget Who Has the Most at Stake

Sometimes we get caught up in events and lose a little perspective. Strange Women Lying in Ponds has this post to help us regain the right focus.

"Look at the future of the city without terrorists." Yes!

A Gathering of Eagles

Blackfive asks "What Do You Think Of When You Hear The Words "Marine Rifle Platoon"? and offers up a good thought, indeed.

Update: Okay, I confess. I'm a Navy guy and my original thought was more along these lines

Friday, November 19, 2004

Kim Portrait Removal? It's a U. S. Plot, of course

Make room for this in the I can't believe what I'm reading pile. The movable portraits of Kim the Disaster were all part of a U.S. plot to overthrow the DPRK.
Reports that portraits of North Korean leader Kim Jong-il had been removed were a US plot to overthrow the government and a “groundless fabrication”, Xinhua news agency quoted a North Korean official on Friday as saying.

Some diplomats in the North Korean capital and experts in the South said this week that portraits of Kim had been removed from some public places, starting as far back as August, in what may be a bid to soften the personality cult surrounding him.

“It didn’t happen before, and will never happen,” the North Korean Foreign Ministry official, Ri Gyong-son, was quoted as saying.

“The words are an intrigue that the United States and its attaching countries want to overthrow the DPRK,” he added, referring to the North’s official name, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.

Unbelievable. I mean really. If I read next that the newest fashion trend in North Korea is aluminum foil lined hats, I won't be too surprised.

Kosovo is Still a Mess

Strategy Page update on the mess that is Kosovo here.
There are 21,000 military and police trying to protect 150,000 Kosovar Serbs. Might as well just get a bodyguard for each of them...

Background: Ivory Coast and the French Scuffle

BBC backgrounder on the France-Ivory Coast to do here.

U.N. Staff: 'No Confidence' in Top Leaders

Fox News says that a UN union voted and the result was U.N. Staff: 'No Confidence' in Top Leaders.

Why should they be any different than the rest of us?

Update: I'm confused. Drudge has a link to a site that says the vote hasn't happened yet...hmmmm.

Update2: Doesn't matter - There is still no reason why they should be any different than the rest of us...

Thursday, November 18, 2004

The Incident in Fallujah

The Diplomad have a posting on the Fallujah Shooting Video (as does nearly every other blog on the internets). Up to now, other than providing some citation to the Law of War/Law of Armed Conflict, I have stayed on the sidelines. But more and more I have seen calls that the "messenger" - the MSM - be barred from reporting what happened or that the reporter should have been more "patriotic" or something akin to it and have self-censored. The good people at The Diplomad blame the military censors:
Why did US military censors allow NBC to run the tape? It should have been seized as "evidence" in any legal proceeding or investigation that will follow the shooting incident, or simply as posing a danger to lives and future operations.
Some military PR flack should lose his job over this...
And they ask to be told if they are wrong...I commented on their site that I think they are wrong, but space limitations prevented a fuller response, which is what follows:

When the decision was made to embed reporters with the troops, the decision was also made that the "truth" of combat might be revealed and that risk was deemed acceptable. War is hell and that hell includes having to make split second decisions based on insufficient information that result in permanent change of life condition for someone involved.

If the military had attempted to censor the video or suppress it, the outrage would have been even greater. My view is that the military should have engaged in a full court PR press explaining that the Marine had the absolute right to act in self defense against an enemy who has continuously violated all law of war and humanity and detailing such abuses. It was good to announce the removal of the Marine from combat and commence an investigation, but a clear and concise explanation of how "playing dead" constitutes a violation of the Laws of Armed Combat by some sharp young JAG would have been great. This stuff needs to be treated like a a corporate PR disaster (think the poisoned Tylenol case) and not as a purely legal matter. But it should not have been (and probably couldn't have been) stifled. If you have nothing to hide, I say hide nothing. But explain it well...

I do find fault with the PR shops that did not anticipate that such an event might be captured on film and have to be explained. There should have been a planned response that could have immediately been launched, complete with videos, charts, photographs and anything else that would have established the context for the world media that may have made the Marine act as he did. I believe the Commander of the Marines involved could and should have stood up immediately and announced something along the lines of :
"PFC X has served in Fallujah for the past 72 hours and has been under fire almost that entire time. He suffered a slight wound but asked to be returned to combat.

Yesterday, in a similar situation, one of his friends discovered the hard way that the enemy has booby trapped corpses and others have discovered that the enemy sometimes feigns jnjury to create an ambush. Both of these are in violation of the laws of armed conflict.

This type of action by the enemy plants a doubt, in any reasonable person's mind, that the enemy can be trusted in such situations. As a result, the proper and prudent behavior of any soldier concerned with self defense, which is an absolute right under the laws of armed conflict, would be to place the burden of showing absolute surrender or capitulation on the enemy.
In other words, if there is doubt as to the status of a wounded or allegedly surrendering enemy, the wise course is to shoot first and sort the facts out later.

If an enemy soldier intends to surrender or is wounded and wishes to be treated humanely, he had better make damn sure his intentions are unmistakeably clear.If it means stripping naked to show you are unarmed, so be it.

Based on my personal review of the video in question, there is no doubt in my mind that PFC X acted well within the law of war and there will be no further investigation.

We will not make any changes to our policy of allowing reporters to be embedded with our troops. One of the fundamental beliefs of the American people is having a free press. The press has shown the bravery and honor of our Marines and soldiers and if it also occasionally catches a glimpse of how hard war is, then so much the better.

Captain T, our JAG officer will now discuss in depth the violations of the law of war which have created the atmosphere under which PFC X was acting."

The truth shall set you free. I, as an old Navy guy from the Vietnam days, remember all too well the effort to shade the truth and which created a massive amount of mistrust between the military and the press. Let's not revisit that experience.

Update: Alec Rawls at Error Theory weighs in on The Diplomad question with some excellent thinking and some terrific links to Jawa, Ace, Cold Fury and to an excellent essay by Dale Franks. Read Alec first, then work through the links. It's worth the trip.

Update 2: I hadn't seen this before, but here Donald Sensing captures the difference between those who have served in the military ( or even those who have given war some thought) and those who have never troubled to move out of their comfort zones.
Not understanding the intentional lethality of battle is a very common misperception among people of the comfortable classes such as Mrs. Joel - for example, the graduate students I had dinner with one night just after the air campaign began against the Afghan Taliban. They apparently thought that our bombing was a form of posturing, a symbolic display, intended to yield psychological, not lethal, effects on the enemy.

One guest said that the bombing "wouldn't intimidate" the Taliban.

"We're not trying to intimidate them," I said.

"Then why are we bombing them?" came the question.

"To kill them," I answered. There was a long silence at the table. The concept seemed not to have occurred to them.

War is about killing people and breaking things until one side can't go on any more, either physically or psychologically. If more of our citizens understood this, as they might if we don't shield them from reality (including the reality of what the enemy is doing to the Iraqis, other innocents they find along the way and to our troops), then the less ill-informed criticism of our men doing their professional best we will hear. And I am not suggesting that our troops have not ever done wrong. Abu Ghraib, though a relatively minor situation, was flat-out bone headed. But it wasn't government sponsored genocide like we have found was practiced in Iraq under Saddam. And it wasn't setting up IEDs with complete indifference to who the victims will be. And it wasn't executing CARE workers or disemboweling women or beheading truck drivers, either.

Update 11/22/04: The Diplomad has issued part 2 of their Fallujah shooting post. I still think they are wrong for the reasons set forth above. Wretchard at Belmont Club weighs in with two posts on the topic: first and second. In the first, Wretchard asserts, "...we need the truth, however ugly. There is due process to protect the innocent from arbitrary punishment." I think that agrees with my position. In the second, he notes an AP article that appears to slant remarks posted by Kevin Sites about the incident into an assertion that the Marine "acted without provocation" and worries, "Sites may now even regret that his explanatory web posting is being used by the Associated Press in ways that he did not originally intend. His story might indeed "further inflame the volatile region"; now his well-meant comments might bear on a political atmosphere that may send a man to jail. We can accept his sincerity, but who will accept the consequences?" We know the answer is not the AP. Frankly, I think passions are most inflamed among people who already hate the U.S., including those who support the insurgents no matter how much evil they do and many of our own "Bush-hating" left who are blinded by their rage. As one of the comments below demonstrates, our openess about this sort of issue works to our benefit. Trying to suppress the story would have made it much worse.

I stand by my original premise - this is a primarily a public relations problem (yes, a legal problem is part of that). In a situation where context is everything, there needs to be a major PR effort to set the stage of what the young Marine was facing and why it was perfectly reasonable for him to have powerful, self-presevation concerns about what any given "insurgent" was up to, regardless of whether that "insurgent" was wounded or not. And there should be a warning given, loud and clear that it may happen again, for the very same reasons. As may have already happened, see here (hat tip; Drudge.

Update: Greyhawk at Mudville Gazette makes some outstanding points in his post that draws on Sites' own post.
For those accusing Sites of various anti-American crimes I offer the same admonition I'd give to those who accuse the young Marine of atrocities: "You weren't there."

The gist of which was drawn from an misunderstood, sometimes misquoted, and often ignored post I offered up a more in-depth defense, noting the fact that in Fallujah only one side was fighting for freedom of the press - among other noble causes - and that those who would call for the end of embedded reporters were dishonoring the sacrifices of a lot of GIs.

Now I'll dispense with subtleties and add this: I've seen a number of people claim that Sites "wasn't fit to accompany those Marines" yadda yadda yadda blah blah blah but the one inescapable fact is this: He was accompanying those Marines, he did go through that door, and I'm not sure the loudest whiners in this entire episode would have the guts to do so.
"...only one side was fighting for freedom of the press..." Yep.

Dems not only one's in need of therapy after George W. Bush Wins Re-election

In a piece titled Fear and Loathing in Pyongyang North Korea Zone ( a really good blog, by the way) relays a Times of London report:
Hardliners have tightened their political grip on North Korea while Kim Jong-il, the Stalinist state’s dictator, has retreated into virtual seclusion after the death of his favourite consort from cancer. . . . Chinese and western sources say the regime has prepared for a state of siege as it confronts a re-elected US administration determined to break its will and disarm it of nuclear weapons. . . . “The loss of this woman was a blow,” said a foreign diplomat. “But John Kerry’s loss in the US election was a harder one. These are now very worried men." [Kim’s] prestige suffered a blow after he gambled and lost on a Kerry victory. The North Koreans played a waiting game through three rounds of nuclear talks in the belief that Kim could cut a better deal with a Democratic administration.

Another good reason to celebrate the victory. Now we should announce additional funding for bunker busting nukes...Kim the Obscene may instantly turn to Jello.

Korean American to Become NSC Asia Director?

The Chosun Ilbo reports Victor Cha, a Korean American professor at the Georgetown Univerity School of Foreign service, will be appointed Asia Director of the National Security Council.

Prof. Cha, a Korea and security expert, drew attention in 2002 when he introduced the concept of "hawk engagement" calling on the U.S. administration to intervene and resolve the North Korean nuclear issue. He has supported Bush's policy of not compensating North Korea, which has breached its promises in the international community. Along the context of the Bush administration's Asia policy, he asserted that the U.S. should maintain friendly relations with China and Japan in Asia, resolve Pyongyang's nuclear issue through the six-party talks, and utilize multilateral forums like APEC and ASEAN as a debate arena on security matters.

Prof. Cha has maintained a friendship with Secretary of State-designate Condoleezza Rice, then academic affairs dean of Stanford University, when he was a researcher at the university's Center for International Security and Cooperation (CISAC). Associating with foreign policy and security officials of the Bush administration like Green and outgoing Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage, Cha has provided advice to the administration from the outside.

North Korea Undergoing Change?

Roger L. Simon asks if there are signs of a A North Korean Freedom Movement?

North Korea Zone asks "Just How Dear is He? here noting the absence of "Dear Leader" from his usual litany of titles...Also see here.

The NY Times notes monitors noting the decrease in "reverence" for Kim here.Excerpt:
As reports filter out of North Korea that portraits of the country's leader, Kim Jong Il, have been removed from their honored spots, official news outlets are dropping the honorific "Dear Leader" from reports on Mr. Kim, according to Radiopress, a Japanese news agency that monitors North Korea's radio.
Regional analysts are debating whether Mr. Kim is losing his grip on power, or, more likely, quietly orchestrating the downsizing of his own personality cult.

Wednesday, November 17, 2004


The Commissar offers up a stunningly good assessment of the situation in Iraq at The Politburo Diktat: Hearts and Minds or Whack-a-Mole?.
The insurgents, beheaders, terrorist, and their broader Sunni supporters have to wage a PR guerilla war. Unable to defeat America militarily; they must drive us out in other ways. They have to make it too expensive for us, too dear in blood and treasure. But now they have a problem. George W. Bush is an irrational, "non reality-based," war-mongering, Crusader who ignores public opinion and thinks he has a direct line to God. That's a problem for them.
This is not to ignore, nor understate the problems of the government/occupation. Allawi and the Americans have to uphold their authority everywhere in Iraq. By definition, no city can be surrendered to the rebels, at least not permanently. Thus Fallujah. Thus Mosul. In every one of these cases, we must kill, capture, or dishearten as many insurgents as possible, fully aware that most survivors will slip away and fight again.

There is no simple way out. We must the resist the PR battle and win this one on the ground, one dead former Baathist or foreign fighter at a time. The Iraqi government and the US must make the price of insurgency too high for anyone to want to pay.

Kosovo Albanians to stand trial

Kosovo Albanians to stand trial. This is a first.
The war crimes trial of three former members of the Kosovo Liberation Army begins at the UN Yugoslav tribunal today, marking the first time ethnic Albanians face charges stemming from the Kosovo war.
Fatmir Limaj, Haradin Bala and Isak Musliu will be tried for their alleged roles in the murder, torture and imprisonment of Serb civilians and Albanian dissenters during the 1998-1999 conflict.
The arrest of the trio in February set off protests in Kosovo's capital Pristina, where many Albanians view them as heroes in a war for independence. All have pleaded not guilty.

War crimes cut both ways. Finally.

Roh Says NK Will Give Up Nukes If Given Compensation

The Korea Times says
"Roh Says NK Will Give Up Nukes If Given Compensation"
President Roh Moo-hyun on Tuesday stressed North Korea will give up its nuclear weapons program if it is provided with enough compensation.

He rebuffed the claim that the North has deliberately delayed the nuclear talks to buy time for nuclear development.

``We do not agree with the assertion of some hard-liners that the North is showing no intention of resuming the nuclear negotiations, seeking only to protract the dialogue,’’ Roh said during an interview with Portuguese-language newspaper Estado de Sao Paulo.

He urged North Korea to come to the six-party dialogue table. ``Trust among the relevant parties is the most important thing in negotiations. Utilizing dialogue itself as tool for negotiations will not help build trust, a fact which North Korea should bear in mind,’’ he said.

You know, I watched a PBS Frontline show on North Korea's "Nuclear Gamble," and my impression was that the ousted Democrats felt that the U.S.had tossed away the chance to "make a deal" with the DPRK when President Bush took over in 2001. Whereas the incoming administration felt that if we jumped every time Kim Il Goofball acted up, we faced a never-ending blackmail scheme.

Gosh, I wonder who was right? Hmmm.

Portraits of Kim Gone Missing - well, maybe not

MSNBC says "Some portraits of N. Korea’s Kim said removed"
Portraits of Kim Jong-il have been removed from some public meeting halls in North Korea, a Pyongyang-based diplomat said on Tuesday, but others said the leader’s picture remained prominently displayed.

In the weird world on Pyongyang, we sometimes have to rely on such goofy symbols to get a feel for what is happening inside North Korea. Too early to tell if it means anything. Now, if Kim's used body was found in the gutter - that would be a sign of change. Positive change.

Tuesday, November 16, 2004

U.S. plans to sneak tiny radios into North Korea

U.S. plans to sneak tiny radios into North Korea for its information-starved citizens says KnightRidder.

Intent is to get information to the North Koreans.

Good idea, but you probably shouldn't let it be known in advance.

Wonder if this is really a Madonna ploy to boost her career again? May well be, judging by this quote from the article: "North Korea's Kim Jong Il regime says the tiny radios will air 'rotten imperialist reactionary culture' to undermine the country."

"Nuclear sea of fire" threat to follow soon...

Update: Getting small radios to North Korea is not a new idea as seen here. Hat tip to North Korea zone, an interesting site devoted to, uh, North Korea.

Law of Armed Conflict and Feigning Injury or Surrender

Well, of course there are going to be questions. Just as there were when Dennis P. Chapman wrote a fine piece entitled "Treachery and its consequences: civilian casualties during operation Iraqi freedom and the continued utility of the law of land warfare". Some tidbits:
The law of war seeks to limit or restrain the social costs of war in three ways: by protecting "both combatants and noncombatants from unnecessary suffering;" by "safeguard[ing] certain fundamental human rights of persons who fall into the hands of the enemy, particularly prisoners of war, the wounded and sick, and civilians;" and by "facilitat[ing] the restoration of peace." In pursuit of these aims, international law imposes certain standards on all combatants in armed conflicts. These include requirements to wear uniforms or distinctive insignia and to bear arms openly; prohibitions against abuse of flags of truce or equivalent symbols, and against the misuse of symbols such as the red cross or red crescent; and roles concerning the status of cultural and humanitarian sites during wartime.
During the course of Operation Iraqi Freedom, fighters loyal to Saddam Hussein violated all of these. The most common such violation--and the one attended by the most tragic results--attacking U.S. forces while under civilian disguise. Protecting civilians from the evil effects of battle has long been a fundamental goal of the law of armed conflict. To that end, international law has long sought to "maintain the distinction between combatants and noncombatants with as much clarity as possible."
(quote is from page 2 of the article, found here. References to notes have been omitted).

What about feigning injury or surrender? An interesting analysis can be found here. Scott Silliman, of Duke University's Center of LAw, Ethics and National Security, spoke at a Conference on Strategic Deception in Modern Democracies: Ethical, Legal, and Policy Challenges, Chapel Hill, NC, 31 October -1 November 1, 2003, sponsored by the Triangle Institute for Security Studies, The United States Army War College, The United States Naval Academy, and Duke University's Kenan Institute for Ethics. Money quote section:
Now, as far as what the law requires and what it prohibits, let me suggest to you that you can remember one principle. In a nutshell, the law prohibits perfidy. It allows legitimate trickery and strategies. At this point, I could almost sit down and say, “And that is all you need to know.” There is, in fact, no other codification in treaty law and there are no other principles of customary international law that have a bearing on the issue. What we will discuss here over the next two days will have little to do with the law, but has everything to do with the ethics and policy consequences of what we do and why we do it. Now let me give you some examples of acts of perfidy. They are few, but do in fact constitute violations of international law. You find them either in treaty or customar international law.

First, it is illegal for a soldier to pretend to be a civilian while committing hostilities. This may be the most important of all the prohibitions because it gets at what lies at the very heart of what we call international humanitarian law – the distinction between combatants and non-combatants. .. So that is act of perfidy number one. It is, as I said, the first and probably the most important prohibition because, whatever we do by way of deception at whatever level –tactical, strategic, or any other – we must always respect that bright line separating civilians from combatants.

The second prohibition in international law is against wearing the uniform emblems or insignias of the enemy again during combat operations. Now there are notable exceptions to this rule. A downed aircrew in distress may don the uniform of the enemy. But it may do so only for the purpose of escape and evasion. Under the current state of international law, were this downed aircrew to go into an attack mode or even go so far as to gather intelligence, it would be engaging in a prohibited act.

Probably the most easily recognizable proscription against types of deception is the raising of the white flag. I have a cartoon that I use in my classes. It shows a cavalryman with a flag behind his back and the flag has the words “fake” written on it, suggesting that it could be being used as a ruse. Well, if it is used as a ruse, then it is a violation of international law, because the white flag of truce is recognized as the means of surrender, so whoever holds it is no longer seen as a combatant.

Feigning wounds so as to gain an advantage in an attack is also a violation of international law. However, feigning injuries or even death to stop an attack is not. You see the difference. There is a clear thread running through all of these examples. For deception to be considered perfidy, perpetrators must intend to use the advantage gained in order to attack, to kill, or to wound. If they use these tactics in order to survive then it is not illegal in any since of the word. Indeed, not only is it not illegal, it is probably prudent.

Feigning protected status by using signs emblems or uniforms of the United Nations, of neutral countries, or of countries that are not a party to the conflict, is also a violation of international law. Again there are exceptions. I did not know until I started to look at some of the literature that there is an exception in naval warfare. A ship may in fact fly the colors of the enemy up until the time that it commences an attack. Then it must strike its true colors. Now that is not an exception that the Air Force can make use of, simply because it is very difficult to step outside one’s airplane, and change its markings!

Feigning protected status by using internationally recognized signs like the Red Cross, or the Red Crescent is also a violation of international law. You can get into the weeds here. There is a sign in treaty law, by the way, recognizing hospital zones. It is a rather obtuse red band set across a white shield. There are also some recognized symbols: you’ve got “PW” for prisoner of war. You’ve also got a “PG” which is also another version of the same thing. It is a violation of international law to use these signs for the purpose of gaining an advantage in an attack.

Similarly if one were to broadcast an “S.O.S,” which is an internationally recognized distress symbol, or a “Mayday” for the purpose of gaining a tactical advantage in an attack, that would be a violation of international law. And, folks, that is really the entire list.

Aren't you glad you asked?

Update: MSNBC says the investigaton into the mosque shooting is "expanding". It also contains this tidbit:
Another Marine in the man's unit was killed the previous day by the booby-trapped body of an insurgent, a fact that international legal experts said could provide the Marine with a defense if charges are filed against him. A key issue was whether the injured man was a prisoner at the time, they said.

Update: Belmont Club has a interesting piece on "perfidy and treachery."

UN seeks probe into Falluja war crimes?

Al Jazeera says UN seeks probe into Falluja war crimes. Oh, goodie!

Top United Nations human rights official Louise Arbour has called for an investigation of alleged abuses in Falluja including disproportionate use of force and the targeting of civilians.
Those responsible for any violations - US-led forces, Iraqi government troops or fighters - should be brought to justice, the former UN war crimes prosecutor said in a statement on Tuesday.
"There have been a number of reports during the current confrontation alleging violations of the rules of war designed to protect civilians and combatants," Arbour said.
She gave no specific examples. But on Monday, Amnesty International accused both sides of breaking rules designed to protect civilians and wounded combatants during conflict.

Let's see, kidnappings, beheadings, using improvised explosive devices on civilians, torture, using civilians as shields, occupying hospitals. Makes a good start against the "fighters." Of course we have to find some live ones...too bad we don't have reporters embedded with them to capture their actions on video.

Of course, we know who they'll really go after.

Thank goodness President Bush didn't fall for the International Criminal Court fraud.

Update: Here is a Heritage Foundation article that alleges some violations by the Iraqis in the early stages of the current war, including:
On March 23, Iraqi soldiers and Fedayeen fighters killed 10 U.S. soldiers and injured 40 in an ambush after feigning surrender by waving a white flag and then opening fire on the U.S. soldiers preparing to accept their surrender.

Numerous reports have detailed how Iraqi soldiers have violated the “principles of distinction” by disguising themselves as Iraqi civilians and concealing their weapons and military status, attempting to draw U.S. soldiers into an ambush.

An embedded reporter traveling with Marines on the road to Nasiriya reported taking fire from Iraqi soldiers dressed as civilians on a bridge outside the city of Nasiriya. By disguising themselves as civilians, Iraqi soldiers blurred the distinction between soldier and civilian in an effort to limit the force of the American military response. As part of this effort, the Iraqi soldiers stockpiled weapons and other heavy military equipment in several houses and moved freely among the houses disguised as civilians.

Iraqi officials have sanctioned the use of terrorist tactics to kill coalition forces. In several instances, Iraqi soldiers have disguised themselves as Iraqi civilians and then detonated concealed explosives. In one case, a pregnant woman pretending to be in distress lured three American soldiers guarding a checkpoint to her, and then the driver of the vehicle detonated an explosive device killing all three soldiers, the pregnant woman, and the driver.

On April 3, a non-commissioned Iraqi Army officer posing as a taxi driver detonated an explosive device in his car at a checkpoint, seriously wounding four American soldiers.

Meanwhile, Back in North Korea

Here's some cheery news from the Scotsman North Korea Threatens to Increase Nuclear Deterrent.
Minju Joson, a state-run newspaper, accused the United States of preparing for war on the Korean Peninsula instead of pursuing a peaceful solution to the dispute over the North’s nuclear weapons program.

“No matter what the others say, our People’s Army and people will further strengthen our nuclear deterrent force for self-defence,” the newspaper was quoted as saying in a commentary carried by the North’s official news agency, KCNA.

North Korea has 8,000 spent nuclear fuel rods which could yield enough plutonium for several bombs, when reprocessed with chemicals. North Korean diplomats have recently claimed the country had “weaponised” the material.

Not quite as good as their "nuclear sea of fire" threat as noted here- but they just keep trying to get someone to take them seriously.

As I've said before: Note to NK: Do you own a map? Have you noticed your geographic 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...very soon.

Cleaning Up Mosul

The AP and Yahoo News report U.S., Iraqi Troops Launch Mosul Offensive.

Keep rolling up the bad guys and don't let them regroup!

Modern Marine Weapons

This site, Weapons and Equipment, has lots of info on what tools the modern Marine recon force is equipped with these days. The site is part of the United States Marine Corps Force Recon Association website. I hope that they don't mind me using one of their photos to call attention to this terrific group of extraordinary Marines.

The article may have even more info than some of you might want, but I like it.

Update: As long as you are reading about Force Recon, here's Part I and here's Part 2 of the article.

Update 2: added proper credits and link to Force Recon Association

Monday, November 15, 2004

Terrorist Nukes in Old Mexico?

Here's some cheerful thinking from the American Digest about terrorist nukesNukes South of the Border Will Do, Thank You.

Hey, Mexico how are your borders? Tijuana, Juarez and even Nuevo Laredo offer up some juicy targets. Where are you on the GWOT?

Long Range Advanced Scout Surveillance System (LRAS3)

Well, you've read about it, but you never met anyone who owned one - until now - the DRS Technologies Inc. - Long Range Advanced Scout Surveillance System (LRAS3) is a nice piece of hardware that is saving lives - American lives. Read all about it!

$21 Billon of Corruption and they still call it "Oil for Food"

Captain's Quarters reports the Senate Committee discovery that Saddam diverted over $21 billion dollars from the misnamed UN Oil for Food program.

$21 Billion! You know, you could buy a lot of "friends" for that kind of money. And he tried.
All right, Kofi, the ball is in your court to explain how this happened. Try to keep a straight face.

Here's some irony:
Senator Joe Lieberman concurred in Coleman's analysis, saying that Saddam corrupted UNSCAM in order to fund his military ambitions...But the committee's ranking Democrat, Sen. Carl Levin of Michigan, said "for the most part the U.N. sanctions achieved their intended objective of preventing Saddam from rearming and developing weapons of mass destruction."
Levin must have missed the news about the 600,000 tons of ordnance and other explosives scattered around Iraq.
I have videos from post-Desert Storm taken by Army Explosive Ordnance Disposal teams blowing up tons of stuff in 1991. My guess is that Saddam did a whole lotta shopping to replenish those stocks. Levin must also be clueless about how easy it is to restart a biological WMD program is you've got the kind of shekels that Saddam had.

Update: More and a link to the testimony at Power Line.
"How was the world so blind to this massive amount of influence-peddling?" asked Republican Sen. Norm Coleman, head of the investigations subcommittee.
Sometimes, Senator, you only see what you choose to see.

"Aid convoy barred from 'starving' Falluja" (those are al Jazeera's scare quotes around starving)

Good old al Jazeera says "Aid convoy barred from 'starving' Falluja". But once again the article itself tells a different story:
The trucks laden with food, water and medical supplies will travel instead to villages around Falluja where tens of thousands of people have set up camp after fleeing the massive week-old offensive spearheaded by US marines, said Firdaus al-Ubadi.
Relief agencies are trying to get food, water and medicine to hundreds of families they say are trapped inside Falluja.
The military said it was announcing over loudspeakers in the city that civilians needing medical or other help should seek out US forces.
Looks to me like all the non-insurgents in Fallujah just have to raise their hands and the U.S. troops will double time some supplies to them. So, who would be unwilling to raise their hands? The guys with the AK-47s and RPGs?

Don't buy this fraud. It doesn't pass the smell test and looks like an effort to resupply the bad guys to me.

Kosovo a model for U.S. in Iraq World?

I understand the intent of this article, but I do not believe that Kosovo should be the model for Iraq.

As I have noted in previous postings, Kosovo is a mess and will continue to be a mess for the future. Find another model.

Sunday, November 14, 2004

One more tool to deal with the North Korean Threat

There's a new tool in the box to deal with the threat of the North Korean half of the Korean peninsula:
U.S. Airborne Laser Advances to 'First Light'


Humanitarian aid barred from Falluja?

Aljazeera asserts "Humanitarian aid barred from Falluja". Which is not what their own article says. The Red Crescent convoy was diverted to the hospital, but
"There is no need to bring [Red Crescent] supplies in because we have supplies of our own for the people," said US marine Colonel Mike Shupp.
"Now that the bridge (into Falluja) is open I will bring out casualties and all aid work can be done here (at Falluja's hospital)," he added.
He said he had not heard of any Iraqi civilians being trapped inside the city and did not think that was the case.
But aid workers say there are still hundreds of families left in the city, which has been pummelled by sustained aerial bombardment and artillery fire in recent days.
"We know of at least 157 families inside Falluja who need our help," said Firdus al-Ubadi of the Iraqi Red Crescent. Seems to me the Marines and the Iraqi forces had plan for this and do not presently need the "help" of the "aid workers."
Probably not the way it'll be reported in the papers, though.

Scott Ritter returns on al Jazeera, no less

Just when you thought he was long gone, Scott Ritter returns with a critique of the Fallujah assault. His piece appears on Aljazeera.Net as "Squeezing jello in Iraq". Ritter does not hold out much hope for the U.S. and Iraq:
It is a war the United States cannot win, and which the government of Iyad Allawi cannot survive.
The article is full of more positive "analysis" of this sort.

Update: Beth at My Vast Right Wing Conspiracy has some strong words regarding Mr. Ritter!

Piracy as Barrier to Asian Maritime Trade

This article "Piracy in Asia: A Growing Barrier to Maritime Trade" dates from 2000, but makes a number of good points.

Pirate Protection

Modern Day Pirates is an somewhat aged article but has some good info.

Great maps here show the number of pirate attacks up to the end of September 2004.

Saturday, November 13, 2004

Larry O'Donnell's "Unproductive" Baloney

Power Line has an interesting analysis of "You're a Liar" Larry O'Donnell's contention that the more "productive" Blue states were somehow cheated of electoral victory by the Red states. Apparently using data like that developed by the Tax Foundation (available here), O'Donnell tries raise the ire of the Blue states. While there are an incredible number of flaws in Mr. O'Donnell's approach, let's just look at his underlying premise - that the "overpayer" states were taken advantage of.

According to the chart, 31 states and the District of Columbia receive more dollars from the federal government than they send to the federal coffers in taxes. Two states are revenue/tax even (Florida and Oregon- 1 Red, 1 Blue). The remaining 17 states pay more to the feds than they get back.

However, not every state that was Blue in this election falls under Mr. O'Donnell's broad "more productive" measure. In fact, of the 21 states and district voting for Kerry, 6 states were in the "less productive" group. These "less productive" entities include Hawaii, Maine, Maryland, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont and the District of Columbia. The District, in fact, receives $60,109 for each man, woman and child living in it.

And, not every "overpayer" state was "Blue" - Colorado, Georgia, Indiana, Nevada and Texas are all "Red" states.

So. assuming that Mr. O'Donnell is suggesting that the "overpayer" Blue states secede, he's talking about twelve states: California, Connecticut, Delaware, Illinois, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Washington and Wisconsin. Here's the percentage of votes President Bush got in each of those states:

California 44.29%
Connecticut 44.99%
Delaware 44.51%
Illinois 44.73%
Massachusetts 36.95%
Michigan 47.94%
Minnesota 47.62%
New Hampshire 48.98%
New Jersey 46.47%
New York 40.49%
Washington 48.72%
Wisconsin 49%
CNN election results

Mr. O'Donnell conveniently ignores these voters in broadly applying his biased brush to paint the election as unfair. There is little reason to believe the majority voters in these 12 states are the most productive residents. As Power Line notes,
Unfortunately for O'Donnell, however, there is no evidence that the most productive elements of our society favored Kerry over Bush. The president captured 51 percent of the vote. Does O'Donnell think Bush did that well among unemployed voters? Among the increasing number of voters who pay no federal income taxes? Among government workers? Among those earning below average incomes? Unless he is prepared to make these highly implausible claims, O'Donnell has no basis for implying that Bush's victory represents the triumph of the less productive elements of society, or that the voters who re-elected Bush, as a group, were voting against their economic interests.

In other words, in order for Mr. O'Donnell to make his case, we would have to examine the income status of both the majority and minority voters in each state to see which group actually pays the most in taxes to determine whether or not the majority of the money voted "Blue" or "Red." Given the Democrat's argument that the Bush tax cut favored the "rich" I think we can assume that the money vote did not go "blue."

More baloney from Mr. O'Donnell.

UAVs as Scouts

Read this Chester report and the links therein to see how a 21st Century force tackles a centuries old problem. Eyes in the sky indeed!

Friday, November 12, 2004

Win Fallujah at all costs

Ralph Peters tells why we must win the battle of Fallujah at all costs and offers these timely words:
The truth is that war is cruel. And difficult. And complex. It's never as smooth as it is in a film or a video game. In real life, heroes get killed, too — sometimes by friendly fire. Mistakes are made, despite rigorous planning. The enemy shoots back. And sometimes the enemy gets lucky. Tragedy is war's inseparable companion.

We cannot foresee all the details of the combat ahead. The fight for Fallujah may prove easier than we feared, or tougher than we hoped. Time will tell. Meanwhile, don't let your view be swayed by the crisis of the hour. Have faith in our troops and their leaders.

In return, I can promise you one thing: If we don't fail our troops, they won't fail us. (written on 11/9/04)

Thursday, November 11, 2004

Veterans Day

Today we honor those who have served in the armed forces of this great country during times of war and peace and those times which were neither war nor peace. We salute equally the combat forces, the logistics movers, planners, administrators and the too often forgotten support forces.

Here's to the men who fought on the beaches in France, Italy and North Africa. And to the men who fought on the beaches of Tarawa, Guam, Palau and Iwo Jima. And to those who flew the heavy bombers over Europe (where the 8th Air Force sustained the highest casualty rate of any unit in WWII). To the Flying Tigers and the Tin Can sailors and the Jeep Carrier crews and to the battleship sailors and the submariners, too. Here's to the Coast Guardsmen who drove the landing craft and kept watch over our shores. Here's to the men who organized the convoys that got the cargo to our troops and our allies. Here's to the armed guards who served on the lumbering merchants. Here's to the Merchant Marine, too.

Here's to the men who held the line in Korea until help could arrive. Here's to that help. Here's to the advisors in Vietnam and to every soldier, Marine, airman, and sailor who served during that long struggle. Here's to the volunteers and the draftees.

Here's to the doctors and nurses. Here's to the corpsmen - often the bravest of the brave.

Here's to the cooks and the bakers and the guy who peeled potato after potato. Here's to the mess cooks who made coffee for the midwatch and brought doughnuts to the early morning dogs.

Here's to the truck drivers and the fuelers and the boiler tenders and the boatswain mates, quartermasters, the gunner's mates and the stewards and the laundrymen and the hundreds of thousands of men and women who served in jobs that do not make for exciting war stories, but which made - and still make - a huge difference.

Here's to the men who flew the B-36, B-47 and B-52 bombers during the Cold War. Here's to the interceptor pilots and crews. Here's to the men who scrambled to their aircraft and took off not knowing if this scramble was for real or not. Here's to the crew chief, mechanics and base engineers who had the planes and runways ready. Here's to the missileers, deep in their silos. To the Fleet Ballistic Missile submariners and to the DEW line crews. Here's to the forgotten men and women who stood on guard somewhere every day of every year.

Here's to the reservists, the National Guard - here's to "one weekend a month and two weeks a year" that has so often turned out to be much, much more.

Here's to the paratroopers, the cavalry, the Special Forces, the SEALS, the UDT, the EOD, the Delta Force, the Air Commandos, the Marine Recon, the Rangers - the "sharp end of the stick." Here's to the clerk-typists who complete the paperwork. Here's to the "boot pushers' - the DI's- who shape the raw material they are given into something useful.

Here's to the guards, the MPs, the Shore Patrol. Here's to every person who ever walked a post and recited the duties of a sentry ("to walk my post in a military manner..."). Here's to every quarterdeck watch who stood the mid and made sure the drunks got safely to bed.

And here's a salute to all these Veterans and to all the rest who served in the armed forces of this great country during times of war and peace and those times which were neither war nor peace.

Thank you. God bless you. Happy Veterans Day!

Update: Captain's Quarters has a nice way of saying thanks to vets. Make sure you listen to the music.

Update: Nice Veterans Day salute at Power Line, too.

Wednesday, November 10, 2004

Happy Birthday, Marines!

229 years and still at the cutting edge...it's an honor to have known so many of the few, the very proud, the Marines!

Happy day! Now go out and defend us some more.

Rumsfeld: What we've been up to

Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld Press Briefing lays out the changes made to the US military in the last 4 years and provides some insight into where it's all headed. (Hat tip: Chester)

Tuesday, November 09, 2004


Visit the Belmont Club and The Adventures of Chester for their excellent coverage of the unfolding events in Fallujah.

Military Operations in Urban Terrain (MOUT) are among the most difficult things undertaken by armed forces and traditional techniques have often resulted in exceptionally messy situations such as Stalingrad. The problems being encountered by the defenders of Fallujah are those of a force ill-equipped to deal with the modern world represented by the Marine and Army forces they are opposing. It seems to me the communications systems being employed by the US military allows movement to contact with less risk of accidental blue on blue engagement than in any other urban battle. By using overwhelming force, there is little chance of the opposing force being able to concentrate sufficient personnel to drive any wedges into the advancing coalition forces.

One of the advantages of exposure to joint commands I got to visit over my Naval Reserve career was an increasing awareness of how well our Army and Marines do their jobs. These guys are really, really good. In addition, they are really, really smart and professional. God bless them all.

Men without chests meet the left wing paranoids

Jonah Goldberg has an interesting piece on the despairing Democrats whose belief in nothing is catching up with them.

When confronted with people who believe in transcendent values, the bleakness of their relativist world is portrayed in all it's emptiness. If everyone doesn't believe as they do, their world has no meaning.

Unable to accept rejection of their falseness, they rely instead on paranoid delusions of "trickery" by evil forces which deny them what they want. See Instapundit for some links to sites challenging Democrat assertions that the election was stolen from them. Unsupported, unsubstantiated, untrue...

Empty, empty,empty.

Monday, November 08, 2004

All We Are Saying Is Give Peace a Chance

Diplomad reports a huge anti-war protest mounted by the Marines and a few of their closest supporters. If you want a war ended, send in the Marines!

Saturday, November 06, 2004

The Paranoid Style of the Left in American Politics

Glenn Reynolds at Instapundit has gathered some interesting posts concerning where the left is heading post-election. Some of these sounded a familiar chord with me. Then I remembered that some time ago I read "The Paranoid Style in American Politics" by Richard Hofstadter. In these blogosphere days, it's probably worth dusting off again. Of course, Hofstadter was attempting to describe the "right wing" kooks of 1964, but it interesting to see how his work can be applied to the left-wing today:
I call it the paranoid style simply because no other word adequately evokes the sense of heated exaggeration, suspiciousness, and conspiratorial fantasy that I have in mind. In using the expression “paranoid style” I am not speaking in a clinical sense, but borrowing a clinical term for other purposes. I have neither the competence nor the desire to classify any figures of the past or present as certifiable lunatics., In fact, the idea of the paranoid style as a force in politics would have little contemporary relevance or historical value if it were applied only to men with profoundly disturbed minds. It is the use of paranoid modes of expression by more or less normal people that makes the phenomenon significant.
    Of course this term is pejorative, and it is meant to be; the paranoid style has a greater affinity for bad causes than good. But nothing really prevents a sound program or demand from being advocated in the paranoid style. Style has more to do with the way in which ideas are believed than with the truth or falsity of their content. I am interested here in getting at our political psychology through our political rhetoric. The paranoid style is an old and recurrent phenomenon in our public life which has been frequently linked with movements of suspicious discontent.

Later he discusses the inflated self-esteem of the "paranoids:"
The paranoid spokesman sees the fate of conspiracy in apocalyptic terms—he traffics in the birth and death of whole worlds, whole political orders, whole systems of human values. He is always manning the barricades of civilization. He constantly lives at a turning point. Like religious millenialists he expresses the anxiety of those who are living through the last days and he is sometimes disposed to set a date fort the apocalypse...
    As a member of the avant-garde who is capable of perceiving the conspiracy before it is fully obvious to an as yet unaroused public, the paranoid is a militant leader. He does not see social conflict as something to be mediated and compromised, in the manner of the working politician. Since what is at stake is always a conflict between absolute good and absolute evil, what is necessary is not compromise but the will to fight things out to a finish. Since the enemy is thought of as being totally evil and totally unappeasable, he must be totally eliminated—if not from the world, at least from the theatre of operations to which the paranoid directs his attention. This demand for total triumph leads to the formulation of hopelessly unrealistic goals, and since these goals are not even remotely attainable, failure constantly heightens the paranoid’s sense of frustration. Even partial success leaves him with the same feeling of powerlessness with which he began, and this in turn only strengthens his awareness of the vast and terrifying quality of the enemy he opposes.
    The enemy is clearly delineated: he is a perfect model of malice, a kind of amoral superman—sinister, ubiquitous, powerful, cruel, sensual, luxury-loving. Unlike the rest of us, the enemy is not caught in the toils of the vast mechanism of history, himself a victim of his past, his desires, his limitations. He wills, indeed he manufactures, the mechanism of history, or tries to deflect the normal course of history in an evil way. He makes crises, starts runs on banks, causes depressions, manufactures disasters, and then enjoys and profits from the misery he has produced. The paranoid’s interpretation of history is distinctly personal: decisive events are not taken as part of the stream of history, but as the consequences of someone’s will. Very often the enemy is held to possess some especially effective source of power: he controls the press; he has unlimited funds; he has a new secret for influencing the mind (brainwashing); he has a special technique for seduction ...

And the style spans the ages:
The paranoid style is not confined to our own country and time; it is an international phenomenon. Studying the millennial sects of Europe from the eleventh to the sixteenth century, Norman Cohn believed he found a persistent psychic complex that corresponds broadly with what I have been considering—a style made up of certain preoccupations and fantasies: “the megalomaniac view of oneself as the Elect, wholly good, abominably persecuted, yet assured of ultimate triumph; the attribution of gigantic and demonic powers to the adversary; the refusal to accept the ineluctable limitations and imperfections of human existence, such as transience, dissention, conflict, fallibility whether intellectual or moral; the obsession with inerrable prophecies…systematized misinterpretations, always gross and often grotesque.”
    This glimpse across a long span of time emboldens me to make the conjecture—it is no more than that—that a mentality disposed to see the world in this way may be a persistent psychic phenomenon, more or less constantly affecting a modest minority of the population. But certain religious traditions, certain social structures and national inheritances, certain historical catastrophes or frustrations may be conducive to the release of such psychic energies, and to situations in which they can more readily be built into mass movements or political parties. In American experience ethnic and religious conflict have plainly been a major focus for militant and suspicious minds of this sort, but class conflicts also can mobilize such energies. Perhaps the central situation conducive to the diffusion of the paranoid tendency is a confrontation of opposed interests which are (or are felt to be) totally irreconcilable, and thus by nature not susceptible to the normal political processes of bargain and compromise. The situation becomes worse when the representatives of a particular social interest—perhaps because of the very unrealistic and unrealizable nature of its demands—are shut out of the political process. Having no access to political bargaining or the making of decisions, they find their original conception that the world of power is sinister and malicious fully confirmed. They see only the consequences of power—and this through distorting lenses—and have no chance to observe its actual machinery. A distinguished historian has said that one of the most valuable things about history is that it teaches us how things do not happen. It is precisely this kind of awareness that the paranoid fails to develop. He has a special resistance of his own, of course, to developing such awareness, but circumstances often deprive him of exposure to events that might enlighten him—and in any case he resists enlightenment.
    We are all sufferers from history, but the paranoid is a double sufferer, since he is afflicted not only by the real world, with the rest of us, but by his fantasies as well.

So we see that the strident allegations of electoral fraud, the assertion of the evil genius of Karl Rove, the contempt for the electoral process ("it's was rigged by the conspiracy between Diebold and Bush"), Michael Moore's exceptionally paranoid conspiracy theory work... is just part of the "paranoid style," left wing version.

The worm has turned.

Thursday, November 04, 2004

"Okay, You Won. Now Do What I Want Anyway."

You've got to hand it to the Democrats and their too willing accomplices at the major media. They are "cunning and sly and bear considerable watching" (as an old Navy Officer's guide used to say about enlisted men).

No sooner had they been forced to accept that President Bush had been re-elected (though they came kicking and grasping at every straw along the way), then they were off on the trail of "Bush must compromise and move to the middle for the good of the country." In this odd way of thinking, far from it being necessary for the left and middle to recognize that they lost this election in a BIG WAY and change their own approaches, the winner must immediately abandon his supporters and rush to adopt the loser's world view, which was just defeated. "Okay," they concede, "you won. Now do what I want anyway."

To make their case, they (at least CNN) trot out bunch of liberal talking heads and marginal (dubbed "moderate") Republicans (e.g. Sen. Specter from Pennsylvania). This morning I saw Senator Specter being more than happy to offer free advice about not sending any "really" conservative judges up for confirmation -moderation in all things being the ideal, I guess, from his perspective. I'm not sure Mr. Specter understands yet who won the election.

Look, let's be kind about this. The Republicans won. They won the Presidency, the Senate and the House. They are the majority party and they need to act like it. They were elected with an agenda approved by the majority of the American voters who want that agenda followed. The Republicans can and should exercise the rights of the majority and push their agenda forward. If the Democrats, who lost the election, want to play, they need to accept some reality. As the minority party, they do not get to set the agenda and they had better learn to compromise.

If, in a couple of years, the American public does not like what the majority party is doing, they get the chance to vote some changes. That's what our system is about and how it is supposed to work.

The Diplomad has a nice post on the "Myth of 'Divided America.'"

SwiftVets win trial

Two months ago in my posting The Swift Vet Case, I attempted to take on Newsweek's Eleanor Clift ugly assertion that the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth were just a Karl Rove "Sleeper Cell" making what Ms. Clift referred to as a "scurrilous attack on Kerry’s military service." She asserted that "The charges advanced by the so-called Swift Boat Veterans for Truth would never hold up in a court of law." I disagreed and sent her a letter to that effect - a letter which became my post. I concluded:

Contrary to your view, the “sleeping giant” awakened in this matter is not Mr. Kerry but rather thousands of Vietnam veterans who have spent much of their adult lives defending their honorable service from the unfair “hyperbole” of Mr. Kerry and the too willing assumptions of its truth by people like you.

Will they attempt to justify the war? No, and nor should they. They were not the policy-makers and bear no responsibility for the strategic decisions that placed them there. Neither is the war’s justification relevant to Mr. Kerry’s behavior during or after the war. No, the trial would be about his truthfulness, his wartime and post war behavior, the effects of that behavior and what they say about Mr. Kerry’s fitness to be commander in chief.

In short, it is exactly the case that the SwiftVets are bringing to help the American voters to decide.

Just a little short of two months later, the majority of American voters showed their agreement with the SwiftVets. Case closed.

Thank you, SwiftVets! May you have Fair Winds and Following Seas the rest of your days. Well done!