Monday, February 28, 2005
For background, see
and all Glenn's links therefrom ...
More Change in Lebanon
Perhaps he's had "Enough!"
Sunday, February 27, 2005
Some things could have gone better, but all in all, we were very well equipped, trained, and prepared. Our first contact with the enemy, and none the worse for wear.
First of all, the Big Army supplied Up Armor Humvee completely protected the occupants. The blast caused a small ding on one side, a couple of cracks in the windshield, a whole lot of smoke and dirt, but somehow, that was it. The equipment worked the way it was supposed to.
The training our soldiers received had well prepared them for what happened. They were alert, ready for the blast, and had a procedure that they went with immediately. Had there been follow-on forces, or perhaps if they had hesitated in their response rather than let their training take over, perhaps it would have been different. The training worked the way it was supposed to.
The response to the blast had been planned in advance. There was a book of Standard Operating Procedures. It’s already been changed with lessons learned, but it was 90% there at the time of the blast. There was a complete manifest, all the details of what to do and how to do it had been defined and rehearsed. The planning worked the way it was supposed to.
When the blast occurred, the soldiers in the convoy were attentive, and when the blast went off they were alert. As the blast struck, the gunner immediately dropped down in the hatch in case the vehicle tipped or there was a follow-on blast. Everyone reacted to the blast the way they were supposed to.
So they survived the blast, combat ready, unhurt, and ready for anything that happened next. So far, everything worked just the way it was supposed to.
That’s when the finest single piece of U.S. combat effectiveness did its most amazing job, and not exactly the way it was supposed to.
When the blast shook the lead vehicle and smoke and dirt went everywhere, the driver and truck commander had to alter their planned response. There was too much smoke to see, this wasn’t part of any brief they remembered. They changed course, regrouped, regained battle awareness.
The driver and second truck commander knew that following the battle drill with very limited visibility might risk injury or bottle them up in a possible kill zone. They altered their planned response, setting the stage for a rapid redirection of the rest of the convoy.
An NCO back in the convoy knew that any hesitation could mean lots more trouble, and took charge when the convoy commander was unable to issue orders. He took charge, gave orders, and kept the convoy intact and moving.
The Truck Commander of the lead vehicle also happened to be the NCOIC of the group that does most of our convoys. He knew there were important changes to make to our SOP, but more importantly, he knew there was new information, new lessons learned that all of us needed to know. Not two days passed, and he had a revision ready for advanced distribution and review. We are now seriously considering new tactics and procedures based on their experiences. These changes will allow us to be that much better prepared, if there is a next time.
Our equipment, the finest the Army has to offer, did what it was supposed to. Our training, state-of-the-art, well prepared us for what happened. Our planning allowed us to respond immediately.
But by far, the single most valuable component of the U.S. Army went above and beyond what some may expect, but we’ve learned to count on.
The American Soldier, the single best component of U.S. combat power.
Saturday, February 26, 2005
Bradley spoke of how 6 boys, 3 of whom died on the Island -- one 24 the rest 17-19 years old -- were revered as heroes, but may not have felt that way with so many more heroes left dead on the Island (real heroes in Bradley's Dad's eyes).
California Yankee concludes:
Suddenly, the monument wasn't just a big old piece of metal with a flag sticking out of the top. It came to life before our eyes with the heartfelt words of a son who did indeed have a father who was a hero. Maybe not a hero for the reasons most people would believe, but a hero nonetheless.I can't add a word, except, Thank you, God.
We need to remember that God created this vast and glorious world for us to live in, freely, but also at great sacrifice. Let us never forget from the Revolutionary War to the Gulf War and all the wars in-between that sacrifice was made for our freedom.
Remember to pray praises for this great country of ours and also pray for those still in murderous unrest around the world. STOP and THANK GOD for being alive and being free at someone else's sacrifice.
Thursday, February 24, 2005
Thanks to all My Friends
All my friends and family said when I left for Iraq, "if there's anything [and then they usually add, 'I mean anything'] that I can do for you or your wife or your kids while you're over there, just ask." I would always think, oh that's nice but I don't think we'll need anything. Sometimes, for closer friends, I would just ask them to keep an eye on how my wife or son were doing, keep their spirits up, maybe give them a few laughs or something.
This week I finally had something that I thought they all could do. I forgot to send my wife a birthday card. Not like right until her birthday, but far enough along that even if sent, the Military Postal System would have needed another 2 weeks to get the job done. Now I'm one of those husbands that really needed to be trained, I was no good at remembering family stuff, the social niceties, certainly not for relatives, and even sometimes for closer loved ones. But I've gotten better.
But I am a romantic, and I write, and I write pretty decent poetry when I'm inspired(sometimes it's even understandable, says Mrs. Dadmanly). My wife inspires me, and she often receives my work on special days. So when I told her that I forgot to send her a card in time, we're not talking a nickles worth of difference, but to her, a whole lot of difference. She didn't wnat me to fix it or do anything NOW, but she was pretty mad and upset.
Well that just didn't seem right, she deserved better. I called our local coffee shop, and told them when her birthday was. (I found out today they called her and told her they have a lunch prepared in her honor when she next stops in. I think they were too busy to see her come in this morning.)
I emailed her coworkers, they stopped for her favorite bagel from Panera's. A woman from her church group happened to email a nice response to one of my emails she'd been forwarded, and I asked and she and some others had a big party at the Wednesday night meeting.
Otherwise, I emailed everyone else in my email list (you know, news from Iraq for friends and family), and asked if they could send her an email birthday greeting. (I think I got her in trouble with the network people at her employer.) She got so many emails it took her 2 hours to go through them all.
Friends have been calling her all week, when can she have lunch or dinner or let them stop by to drop something off. She's had Krispy Kreme donuts, cakes, pies, bagels, more cakes, and my son, whose birthday was yesterday, is cleaning up too. There's been gifts to the house, offers for help in all kinds of ways. And they're not done yet, there's more coming through the weekend.
I am touched beyond measure, and it isn't love of me, although a lot of it is love of her, she is a terrific and caring friend. It's something more. There's a hunger in America, a fervent desire to be a part of something greater. No matter where they all fall on whether I should be where I am or doing what I'm doing, they know that we are making a sacrifice. I also think people realize that Mrs. Dadmanly and Little Manly are making the biggest sacrifice of all -- being without their Husband and Dad on all these special days.
Happy Birthday, Mrs. Dadmanly! Happy Birthday, Little Manly!
(Thanks to Baster's Blog, via Instapundit)
Powerline links to Steven Hayward's 2001 review of a book written by Winston Churchill in 1900, The River War: An Account of the Reconquest of the Sudan, Carroll & Graff, 380 pp., $14 (to be republished soon). Steven Hayward has been one of the best writers on the Global War on Terror and the war in Iraq. But here, dusting off words written over 100 years ago, he rises to the brilliance of his material. To preface, from Hayward:
"The River War" tells the story of the British reconquest of the Sudan in the 1890s. Amidst the squalor and misery of the native peoples of the Sudan, which was then a part of British-administered Egypt, a leader named Mohammed Ahmed arose, proclaiming himself the second great prophet of Islam--the Mahdi--who would lead a crusade to conquer Egypt and drive out the European infidels. The Mahdi attracted a wide and fanatical following, whose warriors became known as the Dervishes (from which we got the image of the "whirling Dervish," the warrior swirling his sword over his head), and began to make good on his boasts.Hayward then recounts how Churchill responded to those who couldn't comprehend those who discounted the "fanaticism" of the Dervishes.
IN ANOTHER PASSAGE astonishing for its prescience, Churchill describes a oment near the end of the Battle of Omdurman, when two thousand lightly armed Dervishes on horseback made a futile last charge into the British lines. They were all wiped out. Churchill observed: "The valour of their deed has been discounted by those who have told their tale. 'Mad fanaticism' is the depreciating comment of their conquerers. I hold this to be a cruel injustice. Nor can he be a very brave man who will not credit them with a nobler motive. . . . Why should we regard as madness in the savage what would be sublime in civilized men?"And then, Hayward focuses on what could be the testimony of so many of our soldiers on the front lines in the current War on Terror, written by Churchill over 100 years ago:
What follows is the most remarkable passage of the entire book: "For I hope that if evil days should come upon our own country, and the last army which a collapsing Empire could interpose between London and the invader were dissolving in rout and ruin, that there would be some--even in these modern days--who would not care to accustom themselves to a new order of things and tamely survive the disaster."
What began for Churchill as a young man in Sudan as simple recognition of the Dervishes devotion to their cause, years later would embolden the "Last Lion" with enough fierce determination to advise his countrymen to fight to the last person, and "take one with you when you go."
I have a soldier here with us who joined the Army at age 34. He watched the towers falling on September 11, 2001, in horror. He felt welling up inside of him something of what Churchill felt. He put his life and career on hold, determined to join in whatever fight the country felt it needed to fight to defeat this new enemy. Many of our soldiers feel the same.
Hayward goes on to quote Churchill:
"No terms but fight or death were offered. No reparation or apology could be made. . . . The red light of retribution played on the bayonets and the lances, and civilization--elsewhere sympathetic, merciful, tolerant, ready to discuss or to argue, eager to avoid violence, to submit to law, to effect a compromise--here advanced with an expression of inexorable sternness, and rejecting all other courses, offered only the arbitration of the sword." Churchill understood that Western culture and civilization embody an idea of justice based on reason and inclined toward moderation, while barbarism lacks any reasoned principle of justice or progress or moderation.
This can not be expressed any simpler. There is brutality and evil that knows no pity or restraint. The enemy has been at the gates for a very long time now, and though beaten back, still wields the power to use our own humanity against our better (but rarer) judgement. As Michael Ledeen says, "Faster, Please."
Wednesday, February 23, 2005
David Ignatius in the Washington Post notes that Lebanese (and Egyptians and Iranians and perhaps even Iranians and Saudis) have seen the Middle East's Berlin Wall falling, and they won't miss their chance. (Tip from Powerline.)
Ignatius quotes Walid Jumblatt, patriarch of Lebanon's Druze Muslim community:
"It's strange for me to say it, but this process of change has started because of the American invasion of Iraq," explains Jumblatt. "I was cynical about Iraq. But when I saw the Iraqi people voting three weeks ago, 8 million of them, it was the start of a new Arab world." Jumblatt says this spark of democratic revolt is spreading. "The Syrian people, the Egyptian people, all say that something is changing. The Berlin Wall has fallen. We can see it."
It continues to astound the experts, journalists and opinion-shapers can't keep up with the amazing changes all over the world. Could it be this reckless cowboy of a President has a handle on how to vanquish this new century's greatest challenge?
When a bunch of Gdansk laborers in Poland stood up to their communist government in "Solidarity" against oppression, no one guessed that the cracks created that day would topple the Soviet empire. But they did, and Eastern Europe went free.
And as some anguish over the cost in human lives and government expenditure of this so-called "misadventure" in Iraq, why is it that so many cannot see the cracks expanding through the Middle East? Surely the wall is coming down: the Lebanese people say, "Enough!"
And he ends with:
"international relations are like ex-girlfriends: if you're still deluding yourself you can get her back, every encounter will perforce be fraught and turbulent; once you realise that's never gonna happen, you can meet for a quick decaf latte every six – make that 10 – months and do the whole hey-isn't-it-terrific-the-way-we're-able-to-be-such-great-friends routine because you couldn't care less."
So what would you do in Bush's shoes? Slap 'em around a bit? What for? Where would it get you? Or would you do exactly what he's doing? Climb into the old soup-and-fish, make small talk with Mme Chirac and raise a glass of champagne to the enduring friendship of our peoples: what else is left? This week we're toasting the end of an idea: the death of "the West".However great the writing, there are other points of view. Austin Bay responds (http://austinbay.net/blog/wp-trackback.php/85):
The Iraqi election smacked Monsiuer Chirac and Herr Schroeder. The Chirac-Schroeder axis smells defeat and their “western front against America” is folding. The Iraqi people’s Jan 30 electoral show of force sealed Chirac’s defeat. Even in the benighted Bastilles of Paris and Berlin, those ink-stained indicators of democracy in the line of fire – purple fingers – point the way to the future.Besides, Chirac and Schroeder’s “Greater Europe” is simply too divided, as I point out in my column this week. (Thanks to StrategyPage.)I think perhaps what we're seeing is a view from the other side of a table that has turned. It may well be that Bush expects nothing from the French or Germans. But it may equally be true that the French and Germans desparately wish something more than a chat over latte.
Steyn’s “bleakest last sentence” (to quote Roger Simon) is way too fin d’siecle. Steyn writes: “This week we’re toasting the end of an idea: the death of “the West".” Try and tell that to Ukraine and Poland– and for that matter, Denmark. Post- Theo van Gogh Holland may also object.
Tuesday, February 22, 2005
Blogging for Business
My civilian employer came across an opportunity to comment on the value of blogs and blogging as a potential tool within one of our business service areas, Project Management. Since they had one of their own, Dadmanly, who writes a blog, they invited me to weigh in. This was my response.
Here goes, bottom line up front: I really don't think blogs have any value to Project Management per se, at least not in the execution of actual Project Management lifecycle processes, with a few exceptions or areas of possible interest to PMs. Anything a Blog can do for a Project or a Project Manager, a Bulletin Board or Intranet or Extranet can do better, with greater control and security.
Blogs: What they are and How they Work
Blogs build informal information and communication networks very fast. Their genius is the genius of the Internet, writ small. The initial designs of the "Internet" were voluntary linkages of computers to allow many small devices to have access to information far greater than what one device could store or manipulate on its own. Obviously, the Internet as we know it today has grown in all ways imaginable, and is now populated with an immense variety of structural components that go way beyond just some university personal computers at MIT or Princeton.
But with these evolutions, all kinds of end user services are made available across the Internet at no charge. And for the topic in question, Blogger services became available recently, which allow users to create virtual web pages on host servers, with user friendly web software that allows non-programmers to manipulate HTML sufficiently to create an online repository for their "posts."
The basic premise behind "Blogging" as is popularly discussed today is the linking of disparate sources, allowing Blog readers to immediately jump from post to site to post to comment to source, etc., riding the network linkages that these independent bloggers have created out of "thin air" as it were.
Some Blogs or groups of Blogs are like syndicates, they invite sites to participate, they share a common theme or set of interests (especially true of political blogs), or they self-define a common identity (such as MILBLOGS to which I belong). These networks are just the most visible set of linkages. Less visibly but more broadly, each will be linked to by other blogs, and they themselves will link to other blogs (or other information sources).
Other sites referred to as Blogs are not really Blogs, they are more online news sources, like news publications online, or news features (MSNBC, Slate, Drudge Report, Wall Street Journal online, New York Times online, etc.).
Still others serve as clearinghouses for blogs, these are quite popular as they skim large quantities of online sources (news and blogs) and point their audiences to these other links. (Instapundit, Powerline, etc.)
Anyone can start a blog, build an audience, create a network of like-minded (or at least interested) parties, and share information. There are no checks on accuracy (other than the occasionally sharp attention of other bloggers), there are no rules (yet), and new linkages and relationships are made quite literally overnight. Linkages are self created, and relationships are self-nominated. Sometimes, linkages can be parasitic, unpleasant, or even unhealthy (both to traffic and to blogger).
Blogs will never be as practical for sharing information for PM purposes as email, Intranet, special interest groups or SIGs, Repositories, Project Status Reports, various project deliverables, etc. I don't think blogs even add anything not already well serviced by existing tools.
BUT I PROMISED SOME CAVEATS
BUT, blogs may be of limited interest to Project Managers and other stakeholders in the following ways.
1. Blogs can generate buzz. They can spread information, but only to the extent that people spontaneously choose to follow a link and commit to receiving whatever message is being communicated. This is not really much different than advertising or public relations, and the overall push to use the Internet and online sources to help brand a corporate identify. And honestly, if you want to do that, you spend your time and money on Foxnews or MSNBC or at least an online site that gets LOTS of traffic, in the 1 million plus range, and you wouldn't waste your time with chump change sites (which the vast majority are).
On the other hand, like any news source, blogs can be manipulated to some effect -- provided that the information being passed is of interest, the network you are trying to influence is well established (and big), and there is self-interest that comes into play. Just like their Mainstream Media (or, per Bill Keller of the NY Times, "Elite Media") counterparts, bloggers crave audience, and anything that looks like it will gain them audience will be trafficked (and linked). So blogs could be an easy way for someone to spread favorable or unfavorable information. These would probably tend to be Corporate or Sponsor concerns, not specifically about a project per se. (We may see projects, however, that are damaged from a public relations standpoint by the equivalent of media campaigns waged through receptive blog sites.)
2. A Blog could be a useful tool for user feedback. But again, this role could just as easily be filled by a company or project related website. If the Blog had the appearance or in fact was independent from the company or project, then there might be greater traction with a sceptical public. This would be similar to the role of User Groups or user communities.
I would think that part of an advertising campaign, or a campaign to sow "success" into user perceptions could rely on blogs as at least part of their communications strategy. This would probably only be practicable when public citizens are a major project or system stakeholder. And, as with the "buzz" commentary above, one could theoretically setup blogs that gave the appearance of being independent, and help set the tone or reaction to a product, service, or project. (IBM has done this with user groups and trade publications. I personally think it was way too transparent, but who knows, their marketing guys get paid a lot more than me and possibly for good reason.)
3. Blogs could be a bellweather of the health of a project or a company. I would guess that there are blogs that are run by ex-employees with axes to grind or otherwise legitimate beef against former employers. Again, more of a public relations concern.
As with #2, a campaign to sow "success" into user perceptions could rely on blogs as part of their communications strategy when public citizens are a major project or system stakeholder. And one could theoretically setup blogs that gave the appearance of being independent, and help improve public reaction to a product, service, or project. But I think you'd get a much better result wiht a lot less effort (with more money perhaps) on actual advertising and the standard press release and story planting type approach.
Blogs are the buzz right now. If you're in Politics, you need to learn what they are and how they work. If you're into neural networks or social science, you might be intellectually curious about their evolution. If you're a business executive, it wouldn't hurt to get familiar with the major networks themselves, who links to whom, who the major players are, etc., just as you meet (at least the business beat) reporters and editors of the influential media outlets. If you're a Project Manager, Blogs are like TV. You may watch, but you don't ever expect to see anything remotely relating to your job. (You might find office conversation for the next day, however.)
Not our site, not our man, not our fish, but remarkably similar in all respects to recreational pursuits available to us from the "water palace" and the boathouse. (Sounds great, but lousy plumbing.)
Monday, February 21, 2005
Sunday, February 20, 2005
Tonight I went to an observance of Black History Month. One of the officers gave an inspirational talk about "Defining Success." My Captain read Langston Hughes, "Will V-Day be Me-Day Too?" Echoed several times was the sentiment that the history of America is not perfect and for minorities a story of many struggles, but that the U.S. Military offered the best hope in each generation that people of color could define their own success.
Had we adhered to the founding tenets of democracy, so much of that history of struggle might have been avoided. But Iraqis, in grappling with the challenge of representative democracy in a multiethnic and religious diversity, has a chance to grow stronger from celebrating that diversity. And perhaps learn some painful lessons by observation, not experience.
A concluding plea from Hughes:
As a soldier, and a friend.
When this war comes to an end,
Will you herd me in a Jim Crow car
Or will you stand up like a man
At home and take your stand
That's all I ask of you.
When we lay the guns away
Our Victory Day
WILL V-DAY BE ME-DAY, TOO?
That's what I want to know.
From The Collected Poems of Langston Hughes published by Alfred A. Knopf/Vintage. Copyright © 1994 by The Estate of Langston Hughes. Reprinted by permission of Harold Ober Associates Incorporated. All rights reserved.
Follow the link, I'll read along with you ...
Saturday, February 19, 2005
As a rule of thumb in matters of the Middle East, be very skeptical of anything that Europe (fearful of terrorists, eager for profits, tired of Jews, scared of their own growing Islamic minorities) and the Arab League (a synonym for the autocratic rule of Sunni Muslim grandees and secular despots) cook up together. If a EU president, a Saudi royal, and a Middle East specialist in the State Department or a professor in an endowed Middle Eastern Studies chair agree that the United States is "woefully naïve," "unnecessarily provocative" or "acting unilaterally," then assume that we are pretty much on the right side of history and promoting democratic reform. "Sobriety" and "working with Arab moderates" is diplo-speak for supporting or abetting an illiberal hierarchy.
Read the whole thing, as always it's worth it.
Friday, February 18, 2005
But you know, it isn’t just the younger soldiers, and the phenomenon goes beyond just hand and eye coordination or the degree of stress relief.
Today’s soldier is in many ways more versatile and incredibly better supported than soldiers of previous eras. (Some of the old timers would say spoiled rotten, but I don’t want to digress on that point.)
First off, we are the best equipped soldiers in the history of the world, and pound for pound we tow hundreds of pounds of baggage and equipment. Equipment alone, we’re stocked for 4 seasons from one climate extreme to the other. (Ask Mrs. Dadmanly how much that means stored away in the basement because I’m in the Middle East and thus don’t need my Pacific Northwest stuff.)
The $87 billion appropriation that got this all started (I know there’s been more since then) paid for something called Rapid Fielding Initiative (RFI). This translates into all the cool and pretty necessary equipment GI Joes and Janes had been buying on their own, now given to troops as they head in country. It includes the Individual Body Armor (IBA), new Kevlar helmets, Wiley X sunglasses, lots of gortex and polypro and fancy sleep systems and the finest in athletic and sports wear that could be converted to military purposes. And the Joes and Janes pretty much love the stuff.
Then you can add in the modern office – and everybody except the strictly combat arms infantryman or tanker (and even some of them) works out of some kind of office, which means computers and printers and scanners and even network routers and switches and wireless routers, etc.
And that’s strictly speaking just the equipment.
When you work in all the personal gear and possessions the soldier brings along, we are talking some real poundage. As a National Guard unit, our average age started out at about 38 (its lower now because of all the Active Duty fills we took in to reach full manning). You’d think we were all kids, with all the DVD players, iPods, Xboxes and Playstations, laptops and wireless devices.
Clearly, we went a little overboard, loading 28 connexes to come over here. Loading bags, we started telling some of the guys, “she isn’t going to be able to breathe in the baggage hold!” Some of the oversize duffels we loaded were the size of small house trailers. But that’s the way the new army is, in any Combat Service Support unit.
Some theorists talk about the modern battlefield somehow filling all three dimensions and then some. It’s like all the old ways of thinking about conflict and war and combat have to be rethought.
Day after day we do our Army jobs without any outbreak of violence, or any need to engage an enemy. But, randomly, in very isolated occurrences, sudden hostilities may thrust any of us in any segment of the Army (combat units or combat service support) into violent response. We need to prepare, to be ready to respond with deadly force, achieve fire superiority, stabilize situations and neutralize threats. But most of the time, and most of us in Iraq, won’t experience that directly, although we may be nearby, or hear about it.
And you’d think that need for rapid response would mean we’d be lighter, less tied down, always in a combat mode. But that’s the funny part: with every evolution of equipment or tool or technique, the soldier is actually better prepared and able to be more alert, while at the same time able to go about his or her day to day job without anywhere near the level of anxiety or risk of injury or death, precisely because of technological advances.
And I think that’s where this odd phenomenon originates, that today’s soldier is allowed and in some ways encouraged to make him or herself at home wherever they are. The soldier already owns the technology that can instantly reconnect him or her to their family and friends, they can bring (almost all) their hobbies with them.
There are still some guys who will play cards (sometimes Spades but usually Texas Hold ‘Em, thanks World Series of Poker). And some will still go to the gym. But everyone has their DVDs, CDs, iPods, online music libraries in the thousands and thousands, laptops, and wireless.
Really, it’s no different than the GI who in WWII dragged around a phonograph or Victrola so he could listen to his favorite band or hear his wife’s voice. Or the fellas that spent more time looking for good furniture or hidden hooch (beer or wine) or other pursuits any time they had 5 minutes off.
These guys just have more available at the push of a button. If there’s one thing as true today as it was any time in the past, if there’s a simpler or easier or faster or smoother way to go, Joe and Jane will find it.
Wednesday, February 16, 2005
Posting a couple of stories about the Iraqi election, as well as the experiences of some of our soldiers got me thinking it was time to try to join the MILBLOG and see if I could get listed on as one of the official MILBLOGs.
Within minutes of my email to Greyhawk, he responds, and tells me all the steps I need to do to edit my HTML and link to the other blogs on the network (and they could link to me).
While I was exchanging emails with Greyhawk -- I had some trouble figuring out the programming, which is made as easy as such things can be made but it can still be very confusing -- every time I went back to my page to check out my changes, I noticed my Site Meter (this is an add on I installed from a free service that counts the number of times someone checks out my page online) started increasing.
It went from 30, to then 40, then over 50 and even up to about 80 just as we were exchanging emails. I was wondering what happened, but Greyhawk said in one of his emails, "I just linked to your site." Little did I know what he meant. I didn't get it all fixed that night -- and I stayed up WAY too late -- so I figured I'd finish in the morning.
The next day (maybe 6 or 7 hours later), my site meter was around 380. I went to Mudville Gazette, and at first couldn't find the link to my site (I hadn't fixed the programming). But when I scrolled down the site, all of a sudden found out Greyhawk had linked to my blog.
...And in my email, I have 7 or 8 emails from people who posted nice encouraging comments on my site! Later that day I fixed my HTML code, and I am now an official MILBLOG blogger, and listed on Mudville and other MILBLOG sites. Just two days in, my Site Counter is over 800. (Exciting to me as I don't think I had an audience previously!)
So here is the moral of the story.
I am trying very hard to let God use me and my writings to help friends and family stay connected and encouraged while I am away, as well as give me a positive outlet for my feelings and experiences. Secondarily, it's a hobby, and blogging gives me a chance for literary expression. But I always want it to be honest and not about me, but about how God can work through us when we let Him. (If I can develop an enthusiastic audience at the same time, then I am blessed by the work He does through me.)
But here's the greatest part of all of this. By reaching an audience out via the Internet, who knows how many people are exposed to what I write? Maybe it's family and friends of people who say, "Guess what I read today?" Or maybe it is someone struggling with an issue or in despair, and maybe found something hopeful or inspirational in one of my posts?
Many Christians and Evangelicals are discovering blogs, and allowing this great new medium allow them access to the entire Internet world (larger every day). My reader could be a dissident in China, or a Pastor in Africa (John Okinda, if you are out there, drop me a line!), or at the South Pole (Dave, thanks for the great Patriots photo at the pole!).
My friends share in this exciting venture in a very special way. In addition to their prayers, well wishes and encouragement, they are often the target for my inspiration as God leads me. I work best when I stop and think about "what would Jackie want to hear about?" "What would Ronnie think of this?" "Sharon will want to share this with the kids at AWANA," or "Peg and Justin will think this is cool."
Its just that now I get to meet a whole lot more people, and they get to meet me. And that's WAY cool.
This glorious victory is due in large part to the truly heroic performance of our armed forces, most recently in that great turning point, the battle of Fallujah. Our victory in Fallujah has had enormous consequences, first of all because the information we gathered there has made it possible to capture or kill considerable numbers of terrorists and their leaders. It also sent a chill through the spinal column of the terror network, because it exposed the lie at the heart of their global recruitment campaign. As captured terrorists have told the region on Iraqi television and radio, they signed up for jihad because they had been told that the anti-American crusade in Iraq was a great success, and they wanted to participate in the slaughter of the Jews, crusaders, and infidels. But when they got to Iraq — and discovered that the terrorist leaders immediately confiscated their travel documents so that they could not escape their terrible destiny — they saw that the opposite was true. The slaughter — of which Fallujah was the inescapable proof — was that of the jihadists at the hands of the joint coalition and Iraqi forces.
Thirdly, the brilliant maneuvers of the Army and Marine forces in Fallujah produced strategic surprise. The terrorists expected an attack from the south, and when we suddenly smashed into the heart of the city from the north, they panicked and ran, leaving behind a treasure trove of information, subsequently augmented by newly cooperative would-be martyrs. Above all, the intelligence from Fallujah — and I have this from military people recently returned from the city — documented in enormous detail the massive involvement of the governments of Syria and Iran in the terror war in Iraq. And the high proportion of Saudi "recruits" among the
jihadists leaves little doubt that the folks in Riyadh are, at a minimum, not doing much to stop the flow of fanatical Wahhabis from the south.
Thus, the great force of the democratic revolution is now in collision with the firmly rooted tyrannical objects in Tehran, Damascus, and Riyadh. In one of history's fine little ironies, the "Arab street," long considered our mortal enemy, now threatens Muslim tyrants, and yearns for support from us. That is our immediate task.
And then, in his signature sign-off, Ledeen says, "The time is now. Faster, please."
You'll want to read the whole thing.
Sunday, February 13, 2005
Two of Our Soldiers
Two of our female Sergeants (SGTs), one a cook and one a clerk, were posted to assist with searches of female Iraqis who come onto the base daily. While we know such searches are very culturally sensitive – which is why female soldiers must conduct the searches – I don’t think many of us thought about how potentially serious this duty could be. And none of us were too concerned that a cook and a clerk were doing anything that would be "too big a deal."
From the start of their week long duty, we kept getting very positive feedback on them. The unit responsible for manning the gate remarked on their professionalism, seriousness, and thoroughness in searches. They joined in as fully with male searches and other gate guard activities as possible without offending Iraqi male-female cultural norms. It was remarked that they did a better job than the female Military Police (MP) soldiers, who would ordinarily be expected to outperform those soldiers not specially trained.
Of course, that’s partly why our soldiers did so well: we’ve actually been very well trained, especially in the area of detainee operations, male and female searches in accordance with strict guidelines to respect gender privacy (female on female and male on male searches only behind special barriers).
Two incidents made this even more remarkable. On one of the days, gate guard and search personnel were told that there would be a casualty drill, in which an attack would be simulated and personnel would be expected to respond as if this were a real attack.
The attack was announced, and our two soldiers rushed to the location to find six simulated casualties: a killed-in-action (KIA), an arm amputee, a broken leg, a broken hand, a head wound, and a “sucking chest” wound (injury that includes a perforation of the lungs).
Our two SGTs performed “first aid” and triage of the casualties, directed their movement onto litters, and managed an evacuation area. When ambulances arrived, the SGTs advised the medics on wounds and treatment provided.
(The unit in charge of the Gate later reported that at first they were quite upset with our SGTs, as they insisted on tearing open the Combat Life Saver (CLS) bags and tearing open actual sterile bandages. After the drill, when they received very positive feedback at how well this was handled, they realized how important it was to do it “for real,” and that bandages and bags can and would be restocked.)
The last day of their guard/search shift, there was an explosion approximately 200 meters from their location. Small arms fire (SAF) erupted nearby, then suddenly a second explosion. “Take cover!” someone yelled. One of the SGTs led 3 Iraqi males into the search area, as the second yelled for them to come with them to safety. The female SGT bringing up the rear actually held the arm of one of the men, who appeared confused. They were escorted safety to a bunker and told to get down. The two SGTs provided both protection and security, prepared to defend but also ensure that the civilians were neither harmed nor part of some attack. Within 10 minutes, the gate resumed operations. No explanation was given for what happened.
As I picked up our two SGTs that last day, the Sergeant of the Guard couldn’t praise my SGTs highly enough, and wants our two to train all the other female searchers who will be manning that gate for the rest of our stay. My two SGTs also provided me with a very comprehensive description of Female Search duties that we will formalize for our Sergeant of the Guard as well as use for training other Female Searchers.
Our two sergeants did a tremendous job getting a very sensitive and critical detail off to an excellent start. They are highly regarded by both the SGT of the Guard of the Main Gate, as well as by MPs who have become aware of their performance. Their work reflect great credit upon them, our unit, and the Army National Guard!
Saturday, February 12, 2005
"...but when they look through that old Declaration of Independence they find that those old men say that "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal," and then they feel that that moral sentiment taught in that day evidences their relation to those men, that it is the father of all moral principle in them, and that they have a right to claim it as though they were blood of the blood, and flesh of the flesh of the men who wrote that Declaration, [loud and long continued applause] and so they are. That is the electric cord in that Declaration that links the hearts of patriotic and liberty-loving men together, that will link those patriotic hearts as long as the love of freedom exists in the minds of men throughout the world. [Applause.]"
I think I owe you all (or most of you anyway) an apology.
I got to thinking about this the other day, and then (Mrs. Dadmanly) kind of brought it more consciously to my attention (she is a blessing that way, no really!).
It occurred to me that I can be really really bold, even obnoxious, because, let's face it, I'm in Iraq, and no matter how obnoxious my views or oppressive my political rantings, how many if any of you are going to say, "okay now that's enough can you please SHUT UP!"
Okay, now maybe none of you would even want to say something quite that strong, but I bet you wouldn't even say it nicely but mean the same thing. I mean, it occurred to me, I'm in Iraq and that's kind of scary and who really wants to start an argument with one of our soldiers in harms way? Like I have a kind of Guilt Insurance Policy that allows me to be as much of a blowhard as I want to be.
Oh sure, I know you all can be reading through one of my emails, and start saying to yourself, "uh oh, here he goes..." and hit the old delete button. But still, maybe some of you read the whole thing because you feel obligated, or others want to have a civil discussion and raise some contrary points, but after all, this guys in Iraq and do we really want to risk getting him all mad, he might go and yell at his troops or throw stuff around like the army guys in the movies, or even want to go shoot stuff up. (I don't know, it's possible some of you think this stuff!)
So, I want to say I'm sorry to anyone I've offended with these many emails. I have gotten a very good suggestion to use BCC, as I am acquainted or related with all of you from many different areas of my life, and I needed to be more respectful of your privacy. No one has gone so far as to say, "Please, no more emails!" but again, that could come back to the whole "I don't want my soldier friend to feel bad or think I don't support him."
Frankly, when I start getting all hopped up, righteously indignant about some political matter or another, when my hair starts flying around (okay, not so much of that anymore) and my eyes bug out and I start pounding on my keyboard, then I think I've saddled up my obsessive compulsive side and strayed a few miles off the ranch!
When I'm rested, and more clearly focused, and in touch with my faith and Higher Power (who I chose to acknowledge as Jesus), I find it easier to interact with just as much passion and feeling, but with an inner peace. I think that's when you know you're in the presence of the Lord, or at least not fighting against what He can speak to our hearts and into our circumstances.
For those who enjoy the odd political rant, I direct your attention again to my web log ("blog") at http://dadmanly.blogspot.com, where I no doubt will still unleash a torrent or two when I just can't keep my mouth shut. But in the interest of inner and outer peace (inner being mine, outer being yours), I will try to keep my emails focused on my walk and my experiences here. Thanks again to Mrs. Dadmanly, for being part of His instrument in the molding of this imperfect vessel.
And thanks to all of you as well, for being part of God's greater purpose in all of our lives, for if you are reading these messages from the front, you are part of His working through me.
Rick Warren writes in the Purpose Driven Life Daybreak for Sunday, February 13th:
"Life on earth is a trust. Our time on earth and our energy, intelligence, opportunities, relationships, and resources are all gifts from God that He has entrusted to our care and management. We are stewards of whatever God gives us. This concept of stewardship begins with the recognition that God is the owner of everything and everyone on earth."
God bless you all mightily this day,
Friday, February 11, 2005
Just for fun. He writes extremely well, but best of all are his collections of unusual Americana, follow the link above for "Patriotica." Follow both links from there, one for Civil Defense publications, the other for some strange accident prevention materials.
For all those who think that the current administration is "over-hyping" the Global War on Terror, a little reminder of how they REALLY knew how to whip up the masses in WW II.
Thursday, February 10, 2005
She's a radical and its all a joke until someone holds her accountable for the undeniable fact that her "activism" could have helped get innocents killed. John Hinderaker quotes Peter Margulies, a law professor at Roger Williams University: "I think lawyers need to be advocates, but they don't need to be accomplices."
In wonder if Patty Hearst thought like Lynn Stewart?
Link to Powerline, link to Scott Johnson's earlier post on "Face to face with Lynne Stewart."
Spotted first at Instapundit, who linked to Newsday:
New Perspectives in Iraq
His focus is Samarra, as well it should be. My reading suggests that Mosul will be the tipping point in the Sunni hot zone, that's within his area too, and he seems to concur (without giving away operational details). The theory goes, that Mosul represents the outermost point of Sunni influence, and if Mosul is pacified like Fallujah then the Sunni holdouts will fall below a decisive level of control sufficient to thwart ratification of a new constitution.
They are actively seeking military men with police experience, and may pull many of our Guardsmen her who would be excellent candidates for this mission. But it is more dangerous. Their good efforts however may have a decisive effect on conventional military and how long we will be there. Our intelligence focus remains a top priority of course, as does the ongoing interrogation and debriefing of Iraqis in custody. But there is clearly an increasing need to focus on civil security, and the face of that effort will be Iraqi.
The conditions are touch and go, but as with other areas of life in Iraq, there are more positives than negatives. My friend Mike stateside (who probably follows things better than I do) suggests the residual (terrorist, insurgent) death rate in Iraq compares favorably to Columbia among other places. In discussions immediately following the elections, first hand accounts relate that the rate and level and seriousness of local violence (in those few areas in Iraq where there is any) is WAY down. Its like they took a break or lost heart (or face) or something got even the violent holdouts to ask themselves, "what might be in this for me?"
Not remarked in any press account is an observation I made on election day. It's like a reversal of the climactic scene in High Noon: this time the townspeople pushed Gary Cooper out of the way and fillled the street until they pushed the bad guys right out of town.
When it was just U.S. Soldiers, terrorist and Baathist holdouts attacked U.S. soldiers. Then there were many more U.S. Soldiers, and the forces against us had to spread themselves a little thinner against a larger force. Then, the CPA and the Iraqi Interim Government and even Non-governmental organizations (NGO) became too much of a problem, so the terrorists had to also consider targeting them.
Then it was the newly estalished Iraqi Army and Iraqi Police forces, and again, the number of possible terrorist targets increased by another huge magnitude. Finally, millions of Iraqis came out and voted despite very real threats of violence (and a few actual incidents), and now the forces against us have millions of targets when once there were thousands. Yet their fighting numbers shrink by the day, from capture, death, giving up, or walking away. When you can target a select number of targets, and get some favorable media coverage, you stand a chance for political success. When there are millions, and they're no longer afraid, and the press starts to yield to irrepressible Truth that is so evident, spin and prejudice won't sell, then Terror has lost any power to compel change -- other than the change in the form of a heightened determination to end it once and for all.
My police trainer acquaintance returns to the states in March, comes back for another year, and thinks they may go next to Palestine (!)
I will save extensive comment on that for another day, but in short let me say that the Middle East has been transformed for decades to come, and what Thomas Friedman today has suggested as an antidote for Iran, applies equally well to the rest of the dysfunctional Middle East. http://www.nytimes.com/2005/02/10/opinion/10friedman.html
Democrats do not favor using military force against Iran's nuclear program or to compel regime change there. That is probably wise. But they don't really have a diplomatic option. I've got one: Iraq. Iraq is our Iran policy.
If we can help produce a representative government in Iraq - based on free and fair elections and with a Shiite leadership that accepts minority rights and limits on clerical involvement in politics - it will exert great pressure on the ayatollah-dictators running Iran. In Iran's sham "Islamic democracy," only the mullahs decide who can run. Over time, Iranian Shiites will demand to know why they can't have the same freedoms as their Iraqi cousins right next door. That will drive change in Iran. Just be patient.
The problem of Ward Churchill in and of himself is almost unimportant (except for his gullible and maleducated students, and to the parents who turn over hard earned money to ineffective administrators who pay this clown's salary). (If you want to know what a reprehensible twit this guy is, follow the link.)
If we take as axiomatic the principle that colleges exist in order to pursue and disseminate the truth, it follows that no accredited mathematics department would employ a teacher who denied, say, that base angles of an isosceles triangle are equal; that no physics department would employ a teacher who denied the force of gravity; that no chemistry department would employ a teacher who denied that protons and neutrons are found in the nuclei of atoms; that no biology department would employ a teacher who denied that green plants convert light energy into chemical energy by photosynthesis. The hard sciences, in other words, are bound in their fidelity to truth not only by traditional logic and empirical evidence but by a demand for coherence within a framework of what is already known. Faculty in hard sciences seek to push the envelope of knowledge, not to "deconstruct" it. (Deconstruct v.t. To affect intellectual depth by teasing out secondary and tertiary senses of a term until it belies its original meaning.) It is exceedingly rare, therefore, to find a professor in a hard science espousing irrational, unsupportable theories.
Not so in the social sciences. To be sure, no history department would, in the current academic climate, employ a teacher who openly argued that the Holocaust never happened. But this is a matter of political expediency, not material certainty. On the contrary, many history departments employ teachers steeped in postmodern thinking, who hold, for example, that the perception of a reality existing independently of thought and language is illusory, that "reality" is in fact a linguistic construct of the phenomena of subjective experience which is continually adjusted in response to a fluid social consensus. But if there's no such thing as an independent reality, then there can be no reality check. There's no test for truth. And that, my friends, is Holocaust denial one step removed. Postmodern thought has taken root across the social sciences, spawning all manner of loopy theoretical posturing in history, psychology, sociology, anthropology, linguistics, political science, and even philosophy itself.
Still further down the epistemological food chain come literature and art, pseudo-disciplines hoist on the ouija-board wonkery of aesthetic judgment. The truth value of a work is gauged neither by correspondence with an independent reality nor even, for the last quarter century, by it coherence within a canonical framework; rather, truth value is a function of whether the work pleases the teacher. Subjectivity, therefore, rules. Literature and art departments often employ faculty members whose theories are not just at variance with one another but are mutually exclusive. It is not unusual, nowadays, for two students at the same college to sign up for the same survey course the same semester with two different professors and discover they're learning nothing in common.
But the epistemological nadir of any university is found in the wacky world of ethnic and gender studies: black studies, Africana studies, Chicano studies, Latino studies, Puerto Rican studies, Middle Eastern studies, Native American studies, women's studies, gay and lesbian studies, et al. The suggestion that "studying" is involved in any of these subjects is laughable; they are quasi-religious advocacy groups whose curricula run the gamut from historical wish fulfillment (the ancient Egyptians were black; the U.S. Constitution was derived from the Iroquois Nation) to political axe grinding (the Israelis are committing genocide against the
Palestinians; the U.S. is committing genocide against the people of Cuba) to
gynocentric self-help (reasoning from verifiable data is a tool of male domination, to which the experiential impressions of women are a necessary antidote) to circumstantial special pleading (Lincoln was gay because, well, he was a nice guy; Hitler, not so nice, therefore not gay). Contesting the status quo is the raison d'etre of these departments. No idea is beyond the pale except, of course, the suggestion that the status quo might somehow be valid.
What should be of vital importance is the intellectual malaise and moral rot that creates and sustains so many Churchills.
"President Bush gave primacy to human dignity: 'These values of freedom are
right and true for every person, in every society — and the duty of
protecting these values against their enemies is the common calling of
freedom-loving people across the globe and across the ages.'"
Reveron also notes that social-science research actually supports the proposition that democracies are inherantly more stable and conducive to mutual security than any viable alternatives:
"Those that insist U.S. policies of political imperialism underlie the
Administration's efforts should only look at how democracy was promoted in
Afghanistan and Iraq. Two very different approaches to democracy were used in
two very different places. A Loya Jirga was convened to launch Afghan
democratization. Or the Iraqi legislature was elected by voting for party lists,
not individual candidates as in the United States. The United States is flexible
enough and experienced enough with democracy to guide democratization in a way
that it will take root according to local conditions."
And as any student of the Old and New Testaments can attest, there are forces at work in the absence of democratic institutions that create the chaos and violence prevalent in non-democratic societies:
"The key to maintaining stability and peace appears to lie in democratic institutions. Democracy promotes open competition of ideas, channels dissent into peaceful discourse, and constrains power-hungry tendencies (Recall Madison: If men were angels government wouldn't be necessary). Democracy provides for the
peaceful resolution of conflict. Without the means to express grievances, violence will likely occur and authoritarian governments will fail.
"Data shouldn't necessarily drive policy choices, but there is clear evidence to support President Bush's efforts to energize democracy promotion. Bad governance in Iraq kept Iraqis impoverished, vulnerable, and afraid. Supporters and detractors of the war agree on that. When we forget that, we should remember the name of the military operation's name: Iraqi Freedom. Though WMDs were the rationale for war, the military campaign has been about freedom since day one. And when the mission is accomplished and Iraqis are free, the world will not only be a better place without the Iraqi dictator, but because there is another democracy in the world."
Read the whole thing.
Wednesday, February 09, 2005
Lincoln and His God
I will dwell on the writings of Lincoln for a time I think. (Thanks, Ethel, its a gift that keeps on giving!)
I have a small book that I think we bought at Williamsburg, or Gettysburg, I can't remember, "The Words Lincoln Lived By, by Gene Griessman. I saw a quote, and realized I had read it recently, so I scrambled to my book of "Readings From Lincoln," Edited by Alfred A. Wright, Hartford Public High School, published by Henry Holt & Co., 1927. (It amazes me that such studies were an essential part of secondary school education as little as 50 years ago, and this is college material now.)
From Lincoln's Annual Message to Congress, December 1, 1862:
"In giving freedom to the slave, we assure freedom to the free -- honorable
alike in what we give and what we preserve. We shall nobly save or meanly lose
the last, best hope of earth. Other means may succeed; this could not fail. The
way is plain, peaceful, generous, just -- a way which, if followed, the world
will forever applaud, and God must forever bless."
Griessman attributes Lincoln's attitudes to Thomas Paine, and quotes from "The Age of Reason,"
"I believe in the equality of man; and I believe that religious duties consist
in doing justice, loving mercy, and endeavoring to make our fellow-creatures
Lincoln speaks to the very foundation of our Republic and the values enshrined in our history. From Lincoln's Second Inaugural:
"With malice toward none; with charity for all; with firmness in the right, as
God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in; to
bind up the nation's wounds; to care for him who shall have borne the battle,
and for his widow, and for his orphan -- to do all which may achieve and cherish
a just, and a lasting peace, among ourselves, and with all nations."
It may be hoped, and fervently prayed, that we as citizens of this great and historic and God blessed Republic may someday soon reflect on the struggles of today, set aside one-time differences, and say that we were able to work against an evil that was real and an ever present danger.
It is very important for us to recognize evil when we see it, and acknowledge its existence in the world. It is one of the gifts that God has given to all people, the ability to discern evil. Why do so many of our most educated people strive so mightily against this recognition? Is it a coincidence that they dismiss Liberty, freedom, honor, and Truth with the same tutt-tutt and wave of the hand?
There was a time of absolutes, but then we thought ourselves so much wiser. We taught our children that everything is relative, and now we are old and despair.
U.S. forces in Iraq stormed a house in Baghdad on Monday and freed two of the four Egyptian telecommunications engineers who were kidnapped Sunday, the head of their Egyptian parent company said. Naguib Sawiris, chairman of Egypt's Orascom Telecom, said U.S. troops raided a villa, possibly in the mainly Sunni Muslim district of Adhamiya, and freed the two. The other two managed to escape on their own from a car they had been locked in, he added.
And the military account from soldiers on the scene (from John Lucas, Knoxville TN):
It began when my son, leading a patrol, saw a suspicious car. They pulled
it over, captured two of the three kidnappers and found two Egyptians bound and
gagged in the trunk. Interrogation of the two prisoners let to intel re the
location of the other two hostages and another US unit raided that location and
freed them.There is much more to this story, but I wanted you to know that they
were not "released" but were rescued as a result of a heads-up effort by U.S.
Here is what went unreported. I asked my son why they had not just shot
the two who ran away (one of whom was chased down and captured). I thought that perhaps the Rules of Engagement prevented them from shooting them, since they had not been shot at first. He told me, however, that the ROE did permit them to shoot, but he never gave them a "fire" command because the street was too
crowded and he was worried that they might hit civilians. So, instead, they
chased them down.
As a result of that decision, civilian lives were spared and
all 4 hostages were rescued. It's a great example of good decision-making, good
fire discipline, and concern for the people. But, not the sort of thing the
media seems to want to report.
Reuters, LA Times, NY Times, CNN, all report strictly from Egyptian Government reports. Soldiers on the scene and then CENTCOM in a press release describe how the hostages were freed. No corrections, no fact checking, (no bias?)
Read it all. BTW, Steyn has his own website at http://www.marksteyn.com/, though he's on hiatus at the moment.
Now I take the point that "democracy" - as in elections - isn't every thing. In the development of successful nations, the universal franchise is usually the last piece of the puzzle, as it was in Britain. Anyone can hold an election: Mugabe did; so did Charles Taylor, the recently retired Psycho-for-Life of Liberia. The world's thugocracies have got rather skilled at being just democratic enough to pass muster with Jimmy Carter and the international observers: they kill a ton of people, put it on hold for six weeks and then, when the UN monitors have moved on, pick up their machetes and resume business as usual.
I prefer to speak of "liberty" or, as Bush says, "freedom", or, as neither of us is quite bold enough to put it, capitalism - free market, property rights, law of contract, etc. That's why Hong Kong is freer than Liberia, if less "democratic". If I had six or seven centuries to work on things, I wouldn't do it this way in Iraq or Afghanistan. But the "war on terror" is more accurately a race against time - to unwreck the Middle East before its toxins wreck South Asia, West Africa, and eventually Europe. The doom-mongers can mock Bush all they want. But they're spending so much time doing so, they've left themselves woefully uninformed on some of the fascinating subtleties of Iraqi and Afghan politics that his Administration turns out to have been rather canny about.
Friday, February 04, 2005
An Inauguration of Sorts
The troops are doing well, as am I, and the first two weeks went by in a blur. I'm writing alot, but the hours have been long getting us set up.
There's a lot going on that I wish I could be a part of directly, but will pray for all the efforts (recovery groups, single activities, growing the church and its ministries, etc.) I've enjoyed reaching out to everyone, and have equally enjoyed everyone's support. I am very excited for Mrs. Dadmanly (and for me when I come back), I think we are approaching a time when God's movement in our lives and the revealing of His purposes becomes clear(er). Mrs. Dadmanly had this vision of her speaking before groups, and both of us involved together in some kind of group ministry ... A time of growth for both of us indeed.
I am not at all fearful or concerned, and I count that as the foremost of God's blessings during this time. I was very apprehensive that I would freeze up or become fearful in my reactions, but God is giving me a confidence and boldness (not reckless) that I believe is helping my soldiers cope too. (They look to see how we leaders react and take their cues from us.)
I know that He is waging a war across many fronts and that we are soldiers in that fight. I am so overjoyed that I believe our President is in this fight with us as well, some might say that's naive but I believe it. I read most of The Case for Democracy by Natan Sharansky, and clearly Paul Wolfowitz, Condi Rice, and the President have absorbed his thesis, that Fear societies are a grave threat to Free societies, and that if people are given the chance to breathe free they will not willingly submit again to oppression. We cannot put the nuclear genie back in the bottle, but perhaps we can work against those evil enough to view such weapons as a desired tool of terror.
I believe it is no accident that a Democracy founded on the premise of God given inalienable rights, a country considered the most Christian (and often mockingly described that way), should lead the world at this time, and offer Light in so many ways to so many, but be so unappreciated by the "wise." Never has the Word been so clear about the wise being made fools and the simple being lifted up.
I am rereading Lincoln; I encourage you to discover if you haven't previously, our most devoutly Christian President, who likewise led our nation at a time of great challenge and adversity ... Our President no doubt has been inspired by the man who said, "I am confident that the Almighty has His plans, and will work them out; and, whether we see it our not, they will be the best for us." (Thanks to friend Ethel for passing that along.)
Lincoln's second inaugural is immortal, about God and the struggle against evil (within and outside ourselves), Bush's second I think we be remembered nearly as long:
"We go forward with complete confidence ... not because we consider ourselves a chosen nation; God moves and chooses as He wills. We have confidence because freedom is the permanent hope of mankind, the hunger in dark places, the longing of the soul."
"History has an ebb and flow of justice, but history also has a visible direction, set by liberty and the Author of Liberty."
"Renewed in our strength -- tested, but not weary -- we are ready for the greatest achievements in the history of freedom."
And to end again with Lincoln, quoted by President Bush:
"Those who deny freedom to others deserve it not for themselves; and, under the rule of a just God, cannot long retain it."
May you fully find your part in a life worth living, and if you seek His will for it, it will be worthy indeed.
"Thus we now expect that the New York Times, Harper's, Le Monde, U.N. functionaries who call us "stingy," French diplomats, American writers and actors will all (1) live a pretty privileged life; (2) in recompense "feel" pretty worried and guilty about it; (3) somehow connect their unease over their comfort with a pathology of the world's hyperpower, the United States; and (4) thus be willing to risk their elite status, power, or wealth by very brave acts such as writing anguished essays, giving pained interviews, issuing apologetic communiqués, braving the rails to Davos, and barking off-the-cuff furious remarks about their angst over themes (1) through (3) above. What a sad contrast they make with far better Iraqis dancing in the street to celebrate their voting.
"There is something else to this shrillness of the global throng besides the obvious fact of hypocrisy — that very few of the world's Westernized cynical echelon ever move to the ghetto to tutor those they champion in the abstract, reside in central Africa to feed the poor, give up tenure to ensure employment for the exploited lecturer, or pass on the Washington or New York A-list party to eat in the lunch hall with the unwashed. Davos after all, is not quite central Bolivia or the Sudan.
"First, there is a tremendous sense of impotence. Somehow sharp looks alone, clever repartee, long lists of books read and articles cited, or global travel do not automatically result in commensurate power. So what exactly is wrong with these stupid people of Nebraska who would elect a dense, Christian-like George Bush when a Gore Vidal, George Soros, Ben Affleck, Bruce Springsteen, or Ted Kennedy warned them not to?"
"Why would the world listen to a stumbling George Bush when it could be mesmerized by a poet, biographer, aristocrat, and metrosexual of the caliber of a Monsieur Dominique de Villepin? Why praise brave Iraqis lining up to vote, while at the same hour the defeated John Kerry somberly intones on Tim Russert's show that he really did go into Cambodia to supply arms to the mass-murdering Khmer Rouge — a statement that either cannot be true or is almost an admission of being a party to crimes against humanity if it is.
"Second, political powerlessness follows from ideological exhaustion. Communism and Marxism are dead. Stalin and Mao killed over 80 million and did not make omelets despite the broken eggs. Castro and North Korea are not classless utopias but thugocracies run by megalomaniac dictators who the world prays will die any minute. The global Left knows that the Cold War is over and was lost by the Left, and that Eastern Europeans and Central Americans probably cherish the memory of a Ronald Reagan far more than that of a Francois Mitterrand or Willy Brandt."
VDH is a must read at all times; and of course a must read of his entire argument.
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