Saturday, April 30, 2005
Rise Above Our Nature reflects on how our God of Action and Purpose wants us to rise above our human natures in taking action in the face of threats or danger.
The Source of Praise reminds us that when we don't look for praise, how much more we are gratified when we receive it.
Friday, April 29, 2005
Chalk up another, final, victory for the Cedar Revolution.
The Lebanese government formally announced the election will be held on time - on May 29th 2005.
The million-person demonstration, the two-month sleep-in at the tent-city, the countdown campaign, the village campaign, the media pressure, the international pressure - it all came together. It's a new era in Lebanon now. The time of post-war occupation and oppression is over. The Cedar Revolution is now over, too.
But the fruit of it will live on, in the Lebanese People, and the people they've inspired throughout the Middle East and around the globe. Hope springs eternal, but the Lebanese have certainly tapped its source!
What is Al Gore Talking About?
"What makes it so dangerous for our country is [Republicans'] willingness to do serious damage to our American democracy in order to satisfy their lust for one-party domination of all three branches of government. They seek nothing less than absolute power. ... This aggressive new strain of right-wing religious zealotry is actually a throwback to the intolerance that led to the creation of America in the first place."
What on earth is he talking about? Last I knew the Republicans have been winning elections, not conducting a Kristalnacht putsch. (The Democrats might try that strategy, it has over 220 years of history and tradition behind it!)
Really, though, what is he trying to say? Intolerance led to the creation of America? Whose intolerance? (Note to Dems: The Republican Party didn't exist yet, so it wasn't them.) The countries the first immigrants came from? Puritans? And is the creation of America a bad thing? (I assume Intolerance is a bad thing, does that mean a bad thing led to a good thing? Or are they both bad, Intolerance and America?
Can it be that 50+ million Americans really thought this man would make a good President?
And that's not even getting into the apparent content of whatever idea he's mangling on the way from his brain to his mouth.
From the Editorial first:
The millions of brave Iraqis who risked their lives to vote in January didn't expect that nearly three months later, their squabbling politicians would still be struggling to form a government. As a result, precious momentum has been lost, and a briefly improving security situation has again started deteriorating. The Sunni-based insurgency seems to have drawn fresh encouragement from the inability of the victorious Shiite and Kurdish parties to put the future of their country ahead of their narrow political agendas.
As Greyhawk suggests, notice all of the highly subjective mind-reading going on here, and the characterizations and attitude that underlies the entire perspective of this piece. You couldn't possibly guess the NY Times Editorial Board had been vehemently against the War, and despondent over highly successful elections, could you?
As if the Times considered momentum in Iraq "precious," they claim "precious momentum has been lost?" What kind of timetable are they expecting? If the NY Times had been around in any of the years between 1775 and 1789, they'd have issued an invitation for the British to return to occupation! But wait, didn't the NY Times think elections were rushed, and scheduled too hastily? Weren't they claiming the "poor security situation" would yield an illegitimate result?
Phew. And now the International News Item. All the news that's fit to print, just the facts Ma'am, right?
Iraq's new prime minister announced Wednesday that he had submitted a full list of cabinet members, opening the way for a multiethnic government to assume power and end a three-month political stalemate that has appeared to be fueling violence.
Last I checked, the anti-Iraqi Forces faced by the Coalition include the same "Insurgents" and Foreign Jihadists after the election as comprised it before. What, a delay in forming a government somehow got them madder? They felt somehow like they were winning, because of all the political horse-trading and deal-making? Aren't these the same guys who are trying to put an edn to democratic processes such as those? They continue despite violence, and reach a resolution, and this fuels violence, how exactly?
You can imagine the quandry of the NY Times Editorial Board. Which to put on the Opinion Page, which on the news pages? Answer: It doesn’t really matter, does it? NY Times stopped making that distinction years ago.
(Editor's Note: As a student of Czech, former Cold Warrior, and a sometime student of Czech history, I admire this man greatly. There have been few figures of greater stature in the ongoing struggle for Dedmocracy and Freedom in the Modern Era. That he responds as he does here to the aspirations of Lebanon further underscores his stature within the assemblage of Democratic Nations.)
His first two paragraphs capture the import of the moment, and its significance to both the Czech and Lebanese People:
Let me convey my greetings, solidarity and support to all of you who are pursuing, by peaceful and democratic means, goals similar to the ones that we in Central Europe set ourselves more than fifteen years ago: the path of freedom and independence, complete withdrawal of the occupying troops and renewal of the democratic system. What we consider important is that all this was achieved by peaceful demonstrations; by open, quiet but firm civic resistance.
Today, the Czech Republic is a member of the European Union, gradually establishing itself as an open, democratic and prosperous European country. As such, it simply cannot ignore the state of democracy anywhere in the world. We have followed with great sympathy how the Lebanese, scarred by fifteen years of bloody civil war and post-war troubles, have set out to peacefully work for their country’s freedom and independence. What makes this especially important is that an open democratic Lebanese society might become a major source of inspiration for the whole sorely tried region.
It has often been remarked that the peoples of Eastern Europe value freedom so dearly, perhaps because their loss of it has only recently been restored.
Vaclav Havel should be the next Secretary General of the U.N., once the current occupant can be shown the door. (Faster, please!)
President Talabani captures perfectly the state of the world that existed for Iraq, within which those against the war to remove Saddam Hussein were determined to condemn Iraqis to remain:
Saddam’s war against the Iraqi people was on-going; we have evidence which demonstrates that the regime was executing its challengers until the last days of its rule.
It was that war, lasting almost forty years, which was the true war of Iraq.
President Talabani thanks the Prime Minister for his courage and resolve, and for the commitment of the Britsh people in securing freedom for all Iraqis. And it is this commitment, Talabani declares, in the face of so much resistance, that makes this one of Britain's finest hours:
Of course the liberation of Iraq has been controversial, as all wars should be.
Sadly in this case, war was not the “best” option, it was the only option.
Under Saddam, war was never controversial, never discussed, simply ordered and executed by him and his thugs.
Iraqis sometimes wonder in amazement what the debate abroad is about. Why do people continue to ask why no WMD was found?
The truth is that Saddam had, in the past, used chemical and biological weapons against his own people, and we believed he would do so again.
Of course Saddam himself was, in the view of those who opposed him, Iraq’s most dangerous WMD.
Instead of continually focusing on the negative, the British, who will soon commemorate the 60th anniversary of VE day, should know that in the eyes of the majority of Iraqis, it was you who brought us our own victory day.
Britain should be proud that the liberation of Iraq has in our eyes been one of your finest hours.
And so it has been.
Thursday, April 28, 2005
Gladmanly manages to slip in a great quote from John Stuart Mills that says it all, as well as a link to Mudville Gazette, all at the same time!
Close readers of this blog may recall my earlier post, linking to Mudville Gazette's Abu Ghraib Quiz.
In that post, I stated:
The story the Army tells of a handful of sick individuals acting independently, with immediate supervisors reporting them the moment they became aware of their behavior, is the best factual description of what happened.
Those who wish to believe otherwise do so because they want to believe the worst about this administration, and our efforts in Iraq, without regard to evidence or facts.
Or they know what's true, but that doesn't stop them from wanting to hurt the United States or tarnish the reputation of the U.S. Military. And thanks to irresponsible and inaccurate reporting, Abu Ghraib became their disparagement of choice.
In the Journal, ostensibly the Editors say the same thing, adding that many fine members of the military had their reputations unfairly tarnished, and deserve and apology. (How the entire media can effect an apology, is beyond me, but what they are doing now, suggesting a "white-wash," surely ain't it.)
From the journal:
Sometimes we wonder if proponents of this torture-cum-whitewash accusation have ever stopped to consider the improbable nature of the coverup they are now suggesting. Mr. Schlesinger and other investigators would all have to be lying. And where are the whistleblowers? There would have been a widespread outcry in the military if senior brass and civilians really were trying to shift blame for abuse onto the lower ranks.
Yet the only military people claiming that they are taking some kind of fall are the convicted Graner and the former Abu Ghraib Commander, Brigadier General Janis Karpinski, who was blamed for weak leadership in the original Taguba report--which, by the way, remains a thorough and insightful account of what went wrong at Abu Ghraib.
The salient and remarkable truth here is that America has punished its own for the Abu Ghraib abuses; and it has done so even before Saddam and his henchmen have faced justice for the horrors they propagated in that same prison. More than a few good soldiers have had their careers tarnished by the media and Democratic innuendo that they somehow condoned human rights abuses. They deserve an apology. After all the evidence to the contrary, continuing to allege systematic prisoner abuse--and a coverup--by the U.S. military is itself shameful.
Yes, Abu Ghraib exposed some shameful treatment: of military leaders, at the hands of the western media.
Wednesday, April 27, 2005
Our other blog, Gladmanly, has a post featured at the Carnival.
Enjoy the sixty entries from the Christian blogosphere.
Norm Geras notes hateful rhetoric on his side of the Atlantic and despairs:
What is it that has led to this intellectual and political debacle of so much of the left of (roughly) my own generation? The pathology of anti-Americanism? The failure to call certain political phenomena by their proper names? A loss of nerve and/or moral perspective in face of a capitalism seemingly everywhere triumphant? Perhaps (three times). But a debacle is what it is - the loss to progressive opinion of half a generation or more of those who might otherwise have been expected to pass on a mature wisdom to younger others. Instead, this shameful legacy.
We've noted here previously that the Democrats in this country need to do something about their dominant moonbats, or no fruit cup!
Tuesday, April 26, 2005
A Couple of New Posts on Gladmanly
That Which is Not considers the desire for material wealth in light of Proverbs 23.
God's Object Lessons uses Proverbs 24 to explore the ways God uses our experiences and the experiences of others to teach us important truths.
Debate with Liberal Avenger – Part Three
1. I took the liberty to post our first discussions at Liberal Avenger Responds.
2. In the comments to that original post, Liberal Avenger posted a very serious and important question at Comment #1.
3. I responded in comments to my original post at Comment #3.
4. Since then, we have exchanged email, the question and answer portions of which are detailed below.
LA: Are ex-Iraqi military people available for the new security forces or have they been intentionally excluded from the process? One hears that the insurgency is composed mostly of ex-military forces... I am skeptical about this.
Dad: The Iraqi domestic insurgency (apart from Al Qaeda, Zarqawi) is definitely run by ex-military and ex-Baathist officials. This I see directly from apprehensions. Rank and file is probably a mix. I don't have first hand info nor have I heard directly, but the economic component definitely plays in.
Unemployment, the relatively lucrative amounts offered for bombers, Coalition deaths or woundings, threats of physical violence -- all serve to motivate young Iraqis to participate. Any Iraqi fired from Coalition employ, or known to work for the Coalition, is very vulnerable to intimidation, threats of physical violence against family.
These "recruits" don't stick very well though. Often, they are lied to, where they think they are "just transporting" vehicles or bombs, only to be blown up by their handlers. These can trigger tribal vendetta against the insurgents, and in the end be a net drain on recruitment efforts and increase civilian resistance.
LA: Clarification sought here... Which assessment do you find few knowledgeable military people sharing in your previous discussion? [Excerpted below]
(Dadmanly had said) So no, I don’t at all see any evidence to suggest that either munitions or minions are inexhaustible. Yes, we are witnessing a recent uptick in frequency and apparent urgency of attacks, but surely this is entirely consistent with the proposition that the last vestiges of the insurgency are desperate to achieve a kind of Tet Offensive Victory in the media campaign, rather than a growing and strengthening insurgency. (Which by the way, I find very few knowledgeable military people who share that assessment.) We all shall see soon enough which assessment is correct.
Dad: Few knowledgeable military would hold that the insurgency was growing or strengthening, rather that these are the desperate death throes of a failed effort.
LA: I am glad to hear that your impression of Fallujah isn't so terrible. I have been very concerned about the psychological effects of a campaign like Fallujah on those fighting... Working from the assumption that we "laid waste" to the city (which I understand is not a given), the psychological impact would have to be high. Destruction of infrastructure and property runs counter to everything that good citizenship is based upon. (Bear with me if my liberalness is trying... I'm don't mean to imply that soldiers are bad citizens... I do mean to say that under normal circumstances destruction is bad citizenship...) An example would be this: if you burned your neighbor's house down, you would likely feel terribly about it. If you burned your neighbor's house down accidentally you would likely feel terrible about it. If you burned your neighbor's house down in the course of doing your job, you would likely still feel terrible. The fact that you were doing your job exonerates you legally and even morally to a great extent, but I can't imagine that it could dampen the pain felt in one's heart entirely.
Dad: I would agree with you. I would share the same view.
LA: Multiply your neighbor's house by X thousand in Fallujah and you have a lot of heartache on the part of the men who were doing their job. (And previous comments.)
Dad: And I also think that would be true, if that's the kind of battle we waged. Even 10 years ago, in a place like Mogaqdishu, such an assault would have by necessity had the kind of effect that you suppose for Fallujah. But from everything I've seen and read, our forces waged an incredibly surgical operation. (And I need to tell you, its not juts our finest "elite warriors" who are trained this way, we are Combat Service Support, desk or Motorpool jockies and we have extensive Urban, Convoy, and Defensive Operations training. We wouldn;t be as good as the Marines, but we'd be better than anything seen in any prior era.
So my point remains, if the battle was as many might suppose, with lots of destruction, collateral damage, civilian death, there would be more evidence in military, ex-military, in theater and redeploying soldiers. And its just not there. Believe me, if it is, it will come out, and I think it would have already. I think our combat operations have been as much of an astonishment to Iraqis -- whose memories of war are the brutal 8 year Iran Iraq War and the Gulf War -- that we could remove Saddam anbd restore some semblance of normality with almost no collateral damage or civilian casualties. This is an almost antiseptic appllication of deadly force.
LA: The next level of concern there is if these people are psychically wounded, what happens when they get sent home?
Dad: Again, per my last point, there may be damaged or hurting souls coming home, but more from separations, family or financial troubles (but less of that last then ever in history, they reward us very well overall). Some get stressed out from long shifts, or cultural deprivations, some from seeing death or experiencing loss of their buddies, but a fairly typical mix I would think.
LA: I was once in the hospital, near death, for something very serious. It was the biggest event of my life - my universe revolved around it. Once I got out and returned home, I realized that everybody elses' lives did not revolve around mine. After a day or two I was just another person - the fact that I had cheated death had no bearing on my role in society and interactions with other people. After a day or two I had to get back to work - life moves on.
So what happens when we drop hundreds or thousands of psychologically war damaged kids back into the heartland and say, "See ya!" After a week or two sitting around the house they've got to get back to work. Nobody understands what they have been through. In some communities the only thing available to them is a Wal-Mart-type job. Here he is, the erstwhile warrior back in Hometown, USA working at Wal-Mart restocking the shelves in the mens' shoes department. I can imagine that the disconnect could be excruciating. I feel for these kids and I worry about them.
Do you think that I am way off base?
Dad: Not at all! This is a real concern, but more from the opposite of what you suppose. When you've spent a year being a hero to family and friends ands even strangers in airports, its going to be hard to go back to work at Walmart, or the local garage, or Department of Public Works, or some GE factory, or even unemployment.
But that can be a moment of tremendous opportunity and potential for them as well. They have been told, by their leaders and by their country, that they have served with courage and distinction and sacrifice (if only their time and time away from their families). Many of them have done things they never thought they could do, they may have survived or even thrived through experiences of which they almost certainly were afraid or at least anxious about before hand. These kids -- and today many not kids at all any more, I'm 46, our average age is 38 and I have Vietnam Vets in their 50s -- have had a once in a lifetime opportunity to do things and be things that their parents may never have been able to, and in ways their peers missed.
Yes, there will be those who suffer, and are never able to pick up the pieces of their lives. This is sad, and the accounting for these very real losses in human potential are part of the cost of war. But (hopefully) many more will shine, will grow in wonderful ways, will be courageous and heroic in their communities, in the public arena, in their families. And while such outcomes are never a reason for war (against what I think is evil), they are a very important way I believe God brings good from tragedy. That is ever the huiman potential, isn't it?
And perhaps, why this experiment in Republican Democracy (notice how the names of our two major political parties are represented in that!) may very well be God's second best gift to humankind.
[Following Dadmanly’s objection to a contrasts overall losses against the smaller subset of the “elite warrior pool.”]
LA: I understand that, however we still need to keep those slots filled with people and the point, I think, is that even a combat support or combat service support body "costs" more to replenish on our end than the insurgents' costs to replace one of theirs.
How much training do you think the insurgents get? I would imagine that it is little or none. What sort of resources go into taking a young American and placing them on the ground in Iraq as a service support soldiers?
Dad: Your points are completely correct. Viewed on a strictly utilitarian basis, any loss of a U.S. soldier will incur much greater organizational costs versus an insurgent. (And much of their "costs" are often stolen, in the sense of recruits lied to, coerced, or forced into cooperation.)
LA: About the materiel... I saw this comment on your blog:
Were do they get the ammo for IEDs? I can tell you from flying all over Iraq in an AH-64, that there are rounds lying around all over the place, as a matter of fact there were hundreds of them lying in a field not 10 miles from our FOB. In short there's that kind of stuff everywhere over there.
This, to me, is a semi-confirmation of the idea of a bottomless stockpile of exploding things from which they can make bombs. What do you make of it?
Dad: Bottomless, inexhaustible, a lot may seem like a lot until you consider the orders of magnitude involved. Yes, there are a lot of stockpiles and potential stockpiles. But we can already see evidence that the stocks are dwindling. The ex-military know what they're looking for. More and more of the discovered ordnance is older and less reliable, oddball things like training variants, the oldest Soviet era stuff from Iran-Iraq stocks. This suggests they can't get the good stuff, no more French made rockets or anti-tank or mines.
If we can continue to be successful and both financial and supply interdiction (think Italian ransom payments and Syria and Iranian border security), we can continue to throttle the insurgency down.
Monday, April 25, 2005
Bedrocktruth is gravely concerned with the health of the Democratic Party, and rescuing it from the clutches of the Moonbats. After spending a short while with his site, I think I share his concern, if for somewhat different reasons.
Republicans can't do it alone. We are a divided country politically, so Democrats need to grow up, get over it, and act like responsible adults about the real threats from Islamic Fundamentalism and Terrorism worldwide -- join the struggle for democratic freedoms around the world -- set aside their deep resentment over 2000, 2004, and GW Bush.
This should be just as important to conservatives. There is something noble about a truely noble about a loyal opposition, and it wasn't that long ago that it was made up of people like us. Think of the impact a combined consciousness of national security minded Democrats and likeminded Republicans could have in advancing the War on Terror, and the promotion of democratic principles abroad?
My own current and recent experience with thoughtful critics like The Liberal Avenger should underscore that dialog is possible, and that many of us will find common ground. I know we will all learn something.
I am herewith announcing my intent to create cross-border dialog with those thoughtful and concerned liberals who are as alarmed with the current state of political discourse and discussion as I am. Please contact me with any ideas, I thought perhaps a group blog, or interest in creating such a debate space in the Blogosphere.
Ah, the fruitcup line, from Bedrocktruth:
You might remember the scene from "High Anxiety" when Harvey Corman rushes to the breakfast table, swashes his napkin like a matador's cape, hoists his spoon for the culinary assault, then discovers to his horror that there's NO FRUIT CUP! in it's familiar place on the plate. Cloris Leachman's nurse Diesel acidly explains-"those who are TaaaRRRRdy don't get fruit cup!!" LGF has used the comment several times.
It's heartening, sometimes comical-but sad really; this rapidly accelerating meltdown of the Democratic Party (the toes are in their final convulsive rollup and slowly disappearing beneath the house).
I say heartening because I'm convinced that the current leadership, its acolytes and icons will need to be thoroughly exorcised if the party is ever going to return to its roots as even a minimally acceptable representative of heartland thought, values and policy in the country.
In short, my liberal friends-dump the Moonbats now if you ever hope to get fruit cup again!
Do something about the moonbats, or no fruit cup for you!
At Risk with Mom
From Mrs. Dadmanly:
For those of you who do not know, I CANNOT STAND to play the game RISK. Little Manly and Dadmanly, well more Little Manly I think, LOVE the game, YUCK YUCK YUCK.
One of Little Manly's first questions was, "Will you be playing Risk with me Mom?" So, when Dadmanly left for Iraq, I told my son I would "maybe" play once a month. Needless to say, we played MUCH more than that, because I haven't quite learned yet how to say "NO" and let it stick. Plus, I feel bad for Little Manly because NO ONE but his Dad likes to play this game, go figure, lol.
I have lost EVERY GAME since I started playing in MAY 2004.
(If you can, imagine there is music to the next sentence and I am dancing a VICTORY dance...) I'm a winner, I'm a winner, I'm a winner!!!
I CANNOT EVEN BELIEVE IT! I won my first game of RISK!!!!! I whooped *s*! Little Manly was NOT happy.... We played the game for TWO days!!!! (in between doing life). I decided I wanted to dominate the world this time. I was jumping and yelling and screaming when I won, and Little Manly was so upset. I told him to give me a "high five" and he refused so I chased him around the house, tackled him and MADE him give me a high five, his fist was clenched, hee hee hee. (Is that considered abuse?)
Little Manly then RETREATED to the upstairs while I continued to sing and dance and yell in the livingroom. (Hey, its been 11 months of losing, I think I was justified in my behavior, right?)
After a while he came downstairs and apologized, of course after I reminded him that just today we were at Opening Day Ceremonies for Baseball and our Assemblyman spoke to all the ball players about "FAIR PLAY" whether they win or lose. GUESS WHAT HE SAID TO THAT?
"Well Mom, I am sorry, BUT for a Mom that barely (get this barely) knows anything about HISTORY, a Mom that is not much for WARS, and NOT GOOD WITH STRATEGY, you can see why I'm amazed that YOU BEAT ME! ("No, I did not just BEAT you, Little Manly," I said in my mind, "I WHOOPED YOU," hee hee hee!!!!!) IT FELT SO GOOD :)
I think I need a vacation, do you? How sad is this. I could not WAIT to get to work today to share this with the WORLD. You would think I just got a new car or something. Hope you all enjoyed this, probably not as much as I did.
Little Manly told me we HAVE TO HAVE A rematch! I really feel like I deserve MOM OF THE YEAR. Anyone else think so, hee hee hee?????
Follow the link and check him out.
Sunday, April 24, 2005
The Liberal Avenger
I'm glad to hear that you think things aren't as grim as they sound.
There are some problems with your response, however:
You also point out that, in Vietnam, soldiers could move about the cities, bars and restaurants, flophouses and the like. That's no doubt true, but your argument is disingenuous. We don't want to have that kind of presence here, Iraqis wouldn't like it.
This is disingenuous of you. What Gilliard points out is is no less true simply because you say that we don't want that kind of presence in Iraq. We may not want that kind of presence, but we most certainly do not want the extant security situation that would prevent us from having that sort of presence had we wanted it.
A: "Downtown Metropolis is a lawless place where heroin addicts and anarchists ply their trade."
B: "That's OK. We don't want to go there anyway."
...they have very little by way of success to point to and mostly can only fall back on killing civilians or lightly defended Iraqi security forces.
The guerrillas are absolutely no match for US forces. The invasion and toppling phase of the war demonstrated the awesome strength and power of our fighting men and women and technology.
The guerrillas haven't "fallen back" om Iraqi civilians and "lightly defended Iraqi security forces..." This is their strategy. You speak of the daily vicious assaults on the Iraqi civilians as if it is a desirable state of affairs. (I realize that you are not saying that it is good that Iraqi civilians are being killed.) From your perspective, of course, it is good that you and your fellow soldiers aren't being engaged on a regular basis - but that's beside the point.
The guerrillas appear to be sitting on a virtually inexhaustible supply of weapons and munitions and their game is about waging an asymmetrical game of terror against vulnerable targets.
If their strategy is to explode IEDs on a daily basis hitting US convoys, Iraqi security forces and Iraqi civilians indefinitely, are they not essentially in a position to do so for the time being?
My final point is that since the guerrillas needn't be skilled at the level of US forces in order to be effective at setting off bombs, the cost for "the insurgency" to replace a fallen guerrilla is incidental when compared with the cost of replacing a fallen coalition member or Iraqi security force member. Indeed, even if we kill or wound a dozen guerrillas for every coalition member killed or wounded, putting a new asset in the field to hide and explode IEDs requires little training beyond showing up while spend hundreds of thousands of dollars and months of training to bring every one of our fighting assets into play from the other side of the earth.
Check out this articlefor some thoughts on troop replenishment for both sides.
My question to you:
In November, we engaged in an assault of Fallujah that promised to "break the back of the insurgency." This was an "expensive" exercise in lives on both sides, civilian casualties and infrastructure damage (by some accounts, we "laid waste" to the city of Fallujah). This was by far the biggest post-invasion military operation to date.
Did Fallujah "break the back of the insurgency?" Why not?
If we can engage in a military exercise on the scale of Fallujah without making inroads against the overall guerrilla war (as evidenced by the frequency of bombings and other attacks that have taken place since November), what lies ahead if we wish to stop the bombings?
I am of the opinion that the guerrillas can sit on their weapons stockpiles and engage us (cowardly) with IEDs for as long as they want to.
Here is my short piece on the topic. I am not a military analyst nor am I in Iraq. My take is decidedly negative on the situation. If you do not wish to read a very liberal, admittedly anti-war opinion on the subject, don't click through, it will only make you angry.
I hope you and everyone around you stay safe and I am looking forward to the day where everyone can come home.
Posted by The Liberal Avenger to Dadmanly at 4/24/2005 04:43:07 PM
I'll admit, I don't read much anti-war pieces -- I get angry enough about the day-to-day without adding fuel to that particular fire -- but I did read yours. I found it rational, sensible, and well argued. If I accepted the premises of your argument, I could very well agree with the flow of your logic. At the least, I appreciate the opportunity for a civil discussion, there's far too little opportunity for that on both sides.
You are right, I am more hopeful and cautiously optimistic that we have turned the corner in our efforts here, in terms of: building democratic institutions, rebuilding and indigenous military and police, and breaking the organizations of both the native and foreign components of those who fight against us. My personal vantage point is more limited perhaps than you might think, but I do regularly access information from broader sources here, so I am fairly well informed. I would like to explain the particulars, but of course I can't in a non-secure setting.
Today I ran into one of our soldiers who works quite closely with Iraqi Security Forces, just after a rather brazen attack of multiple VBIEDs. Many Iraqi Security Force members were killed or wounded. The training of some new recruits may be delayed for a time while these forces recover and regroup. This is not the first time this has happened, nor will it be the last.
I mention this for three reasons, or rather from the reactions I see on three sides of these type of events.
The American soldiers and non-Iraqi training contractors I run across never seem to lose hope or express frustration with their Iraqi charges. They admire the way, when 100 soldiers or police are killed in an attack, 500 show up to take their places the next day. These are men of incredible courage and determination. They are green in many cases, they are learning, but they have a great desire to succeed, and they seem more than willing to risk their lives in the process.
On the flip side, the citizenry even in areas hostile to our presence are turning against the insurgency, and more and more tips are leading to weapons and munitions caches and IED materials. The point I made with Gilliard was that the insurgency is increasingly driven to use lower quality and less reliable armaments. What I didn’t say, was that for every IED that actually explodes, there are 10 that are discovered before detonation. For every 10 IED that go off, only one leads to any injuries. If those numbers are even remotely accurate, that roughly translates into a 1% effectiveness. And those 99 ineffective attempts in many cases lead to apprehension or death of IED makers or attack participants.
So no, I don’t at all see any evidence to suggest that either munitions or minions are inexhaustible. Yes, we are witnessing a recent uptick in frequency and apparent urgency of attacks, but surely this is entirely consistent with the proposition that the last vestiges of the insurgency are desperate to achieve a kind of Tet Offensive Victory in the media campaign, rather than a growing and strengthening insurgency. (Which by the way, I find very few knowledgeable military people who share that assessment.) We all shall see soon enough which assessment is correct.
As far as Fallujah goes, I don’t have any first hand knowledge. What I read from participants of the fighting there was that it was an astounding success. Many of the military bloggers who have reported are fully capable of skepticism and finding fault when due, and the strong consensus is that this type of response was long overdue. I think if civilian casualties and destruction were as bad as you allude, I really think there would be distraught, soldiers with tortured consciences, and I have to tell you I have neither heard nor seen anything of the kind. Just one soldier’s opinion.
The article you link by Stirling Newberry to makes at least one very large bait and switch with his numbers. When speaking of the rate attrition, he contrasts overall losses against the smaller subset of the “elite warrior pool.” This may sound reasonable, but given the concentration of attacks on the MSRs, this means that these combat casualties are far more often combat support and combat service support soldiers than “crack warriors.”
As to the loss ratios between Iraqi Security Forces and the Insurgents, I think as Newberry states, “These numbers are still difficult to get hard data for. More over, then, as now, Iraqi security forces killed or wounded and not returned to duty were not counted, or reported. Neither the Iraqi Interior Ministry, nor the Iraqi Defense Ministry provided this information, and what information there was was not compiled.” I think the numbers could go either way, there is no way to tell at present.
Again, from anecdotal reports, Iraqi Army forces participate in leading roles more and more often, and have had some very significant successes. If trends are any indication, civilian populations are turning more and more against the insurgents, local authorities and Security Forces are growing stronger, and insurgents are losing funding, manpower, and materiel.
I very much appreciated the opportunity you’ve taken in opening a dialog; as I said, I appreciate the opportunity for a civil discussion.
Thanks for the good wishes, good luck to you sir.
As before, I will keep you posted on any response.
AP tracks large scale movements of Syrian military from the Bekaa Valley towards the Syrian Border, and reports Syria is announcing a complete pullout on Sunday, including Syrian Intelligence commands.
Skepticism is warranted, given Syria's track record. The question is, will Lebanon Breathe Free Tomorrow?
Saturday, April 23, 2005
A Special Group of Soldiers
When I say train, I really mean train. Back in the days when the rest of us thought of Annual Training (AT) as a two week stay at a Hilton (biggest concern: did they have a bar or a pool?), these guys were trying to get survival training at whatever extreme location they could. Now, part of that is their job: these guys are ground surveillance radar operators (GSR), military occupational specialty (MOS) 96R. They call themselves, the "Romeos."
I say part of their attitude is tied to their MOS. As Romeos, their job is to go wherever they have to go, do whatever they have to do, to get highly technical sensors onto the battlefied and directed against potential threats. Usually that means way out in front, on their own, stealthy, they need to get in without being detected, and get back out. So clearly, their training would need to be very tactical. Basic soldier training, infantry skills, ranger type stuff.
The other part is all Romeo. They thrive on the tough slog, the hard climb, the fast pace, and the harsh conditions. They've trained their entire military careers to be ready for a fight, to "get 'er done."
All through our mobilization training, it looked less and less likely that they would get a chance to do their jobs, to have a real Romeo mission. There are plans even to do away with the MOS altogether. From the first our Romeos helped train the rest of us, and when we were sometimes resistant to their guidance, they led by example hoping others would follow their lead.
One day early in training, several soldiers got in trouble, basically for not taking the training seriously enough. I was pretty mad, and having difficulty working with my non-commissioned officers (NCOs), most of whom had never had any kind of experience with deployments, combat, or the kind of intensive training we were going through.
That's when the Romeos did something I would never have expected, and taught me something about loyalty, and service, and leadership.
I came out of my office, and there was their Senior NCO, who had the whole squad down on the gravel in front of my office, doing pushups, and something more. All lined up, in the front leaning rest position, they were one at a time getting up, picking up a stone, carrying it back to the grass, then returning to the pushup position at the end of the line and so on.
As they did this, the stones began to spell something out on the grass in front of my office. I was pretty upset, I thought my Staff Sergeant (SSG) had gone too far. This verged on abuse. I came up alongside him, and asked him what he was doing, what he was having them do. He said, "teaching a lesson."
I said, "Your guys weren't the problem, heck, you guys make everyone else look like pikers."
"It needs to be done," I think he said. I told him to let them finish it up, and come talk to me about it when they were done. I watched the rest of this little demonstration from my office window upstairs, as they finished spelling out, "We're Sorry."
A few minutes later, the SSG reported to my office. "Top," he started, "that was a little demonstration. It wasn't for my guys, it was for everyone else in the platoon to see. The ones NOT taking this seriously enough, that we're going to war. My guys volunteered."
I stood there not sure what to say. What he said sank in. But he continued. "And Top, if you need us to do anything else, and I mean anything, to help you get your job done, you just say the word." And he meant what he said.
Those Romeos have done everything we've asked them to do, and very little of it has been what they've trained on, what they're best at, what they enjoy most about the Army. And they've excelled with all.
With pride but some trepidation, I can report that our Romeos were finally given that long hoped for Romeo mission. While it's not perfect, and they pull a lot of extra guard duty, they are out there on the edge, at a little outpost, in harm's way but through their efforts putting a real dent in their enemy's ability to harass the post or mount any significant attack. And by doing that job that well, they keep their entire base that much safer.
But, you know what? That's what Romeos do. They "get 'er done."
Friday, April 22, 2005
Timothy Noah makes a compelling argument (as a liberal democrat) for ending the filibuster. He states:
I have a problem with the "nuclear option," Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist's threatened alteration of Senate rules to prevent filibusters against judicial candidates. I believe it doesn't go far enough.Noah takes a couple of logical twists to get to his position, but the reality is, he's confident that someday soon, Democrats will be in the majority in the Senate, and will be only too happy to have seen the last of (what would be Republican) filibusters.
At the height of his argument, Noah lets the cat out of the bag:
It's a clever argument—the antidemocratic nature of Senate representation creates a phony Republican majority that Democrats are justified in thwarting. But the perfect is the enemy of the good. The Senate ought to be eliminated, but it's a pretty good bet that it isn't going to be. That being the case, why not reach for the low-hanging fruit? I feel confident that if the Democrats had a Senate majority, Hertzberg would agree with me that it's time to democratize the Senate as best we know how.(Note the readiness to radically rewrite the constitution to eliminate a bicameral legislature.)
I would argue that we should invoke the old Chinese curse on Noah and any like-minded democrats: may you have what you wish for (the elimination of the filibuster for judicial appointments, not the Senate majority).
David Brooks makes an argument in a NY Times Opinion piece, "Roe's Birth, and Death," that
He bases his argument on the premise that the Supreme Court invented a right to abortion, and short-circuited an essential public debate and working out of a citizen-backed solution state-by-state:
Unless Roe v. Wade is overturned, politics will never get better.
When Blackmun wrote the Roe decision, it took the abortion issue out of the legislatures and put it into the courts. If it had remained in the legislatures, we would have seen a series of state-by-state compromises reflecting the views of the centrist majority that's always existed on this issue. These legislative compromises wouldn't have pleased everyone, but would have been regarded as legitimate.Hmmm. In the NY Times. Could Brooks be staking out some kind of center position for a certain female senator with Presidential ambition, or would that be too cynical?
Instead, Blackmun and his concurring colleagues invented a right to abortion, and imposed a solution more extreme than the policies of just about any other comparable nation.
April 22, 2005 -- SUICIDE bombings, assassinations and roadside blasts continue to plague Iraq. Recently, coordinated assaults threatened American compounds. Yesterday, a contractor's helicopter was downed by a missile. It would be easy to become discouraged — if you were a terrorist.
Terrorist and insurgent activity is down by half, free elections succeeded and a multi-ethnic government has been formed in Baghdad. The enemies of the new Iraq have failed to achieve a single one of their goals. They must be shocked and embittered.
Pursuant to the current anti-Iraqi "Tet Offensive" media campaign, media have been trumpeting the recent high visibility attacks. Peters notes:
The media hailed the recent assaults on the Abu Ghraib compound and a Marine base on the Syrian border as proof of the terrorists' growing sophistication. In fact, the attacks were relatively crude attempts, impressive only in comparison to previous ineptitude. And they failed disastrously, costing our enemies dearly yet again.
Such attacks are a forlorn hope. They grasp at the only strategy left to those who oppose a free Iraq: a renewed effort to kill enough Americans to make Washington throw in the towel. Islamist terrorists, especially, dream of one dramatic, catastrophic strike. They don't know what else to do.
I don't think it is unfair or inaccurate to suggest there a very large number of liberal, anti-war types that have similar dreams. They don't dare say so, but any new "bad news" (for the U.S. that is) seems to cause the DU and their kissin' Kos-sins to perk right up.
Peters has the most optimistic outlook for the future I've heard yet:
Iraq may prove to be the defeat that destroyed the allure of terrorism for hundreds of millions of discontented Muslims. Terrorists won't disappear, but the spotlight of Iraq has revealed them as savage, indiscriminate, blasphemous and, worst of all, incapable.
My letter to Mr. Gilliard.
I read your "newsblog" story, Looking at Iraq.
I don't know the source of your information depicting life in Iraq for we who are deployed here, but it strikes me that you use what little information you do have to paint a picture grossly different than what is actually the case. You compound this fancy by drawing conclusions that are not supported even by the data you do misrepresent.
I am stationed in the heart of Sunni controlled Iraq -- for operational security I will not identify where -- and I regularly travel by convoy to other forward operating bases (FOB) within this area. We routinely conduct convoys, but we also try to take advantage of air transportation wherever possible, as this is more efficient and relatively safer.
There are regular improvised explosive device (IED) attacks on the major supply routes (MSRs), that is a fact of life for us. With thousands and thousands of vehicles on the road daily, it is impossible to completely prevent attacks, with perhaps several thousand dedicated insurgents with perhaps a couple thousand foreign jihadists with left over and imported weapons and ordnance. Overwhelmingly, these IED attacks rely on old military munitions, artillery shells, mines, etc., and the vast majority are implemented to no effect. Likewise, complex attacks with secondary IED or RPG or small arms fire are similarly ineffective. Any massed attack on U.S. positions results in a lot of dead insurgents and little or no injuries or damage to U.S. forces. Iraqi forces suffer more, of course, as they are not as well equipped or trained, and of course they live among sometimes hostile or at least ambivalent populaces. (And yet, despite this, their recruting efforts continue to outpace available positions.)
Dozens of convoys will travel the same road day after day, and perhaps a couple of times a week an IED goes off, usually to no effect whatever. Based on any reasonable calculation of threat, this might work out to a .5% chance of being hit while in convoy here.
I can assure you by a continuing problem we're facing, soldiers gaining weight, and the proliferation of consumer goods available through the PX, that we have no problem with supply or resupply. We do make decisions based on relative risk, so yes, we'll avoid being on the roads if we can achieve the same purpose by other means.
You use the number and frequency of IED attacks -- without regard to their continuing lack of effectiveness -- to then conclude that "guerillas" control the road network.
"Vulnerable to attack" in no way translates into "they control the roads." That's both simplistic, and idiotic. By the same lack of proportion, you should conclude that drunk drivers control the roads in the U.S. Sure, its a problem, but the overwhelming majority of us will never be in an accident with one.
Likewise, that the anti-Iraqi forces can stage fly-by or isolated attacks (however spectacular) throughout the country in no way translates into widespread support or control of the countryside. Al Qaeda can attack anywhere in the U.S. or Europe that they decide they want to plan and execute an operation. Does that mean they effectively control the U.S. or Europe?
You also point out that, in Vietnam, soldiers could move about the cities, bars and restaurants, flophouses and the like. That's no doubt true, but your argument is disingenuous. We don't want to have that kind of presence here, Iraqis wouldn't like it. The whole point of the exercise is to make Iraqis responsible for their own defense, their own government, their own society. Absolutely, we toppled the dictator Hussein. Certainly, our forces are a critical part of preserving this emergent democracy. But you make it sound like anything less than complete occupation and domination is somehow defeat. Aren't you arguing against yourself here? If we were behaving that way, as occupiers in that sense, I'm quite sure you'd have much to criticize with that approach.
This "insurgency" is losing, few soldiers deploying and redeploying agree with your assessment. The forces against us are doing everything in their power to jump start a public relations and media spurred "Tet Offensive" strategy, but they have very little by way of success to point to and mostly can only fall back on killing civilians or lightly defended Iraqi security forces. You make a valiant effort to help them along, but I seriously doubt any but unrepentant anti-war types are buying.
You can wait a very long time for your "truth to come out," my guess is you'll still be waiting when the majority of the U.S. forces come home and the Iraqis celebrate their 3rd or 4th succession of democratically elected governments.
Respectfully, but credulously,
I will keep readers posted on any reply.
Steve and I exchanged emails. All he came up with was, "yeah, and where did all those IED munitions come from?" Which should earn some kind of prize for a non-answer answer. Maybe they get them from the pile right next to those WMDs.
I will not argue the point since I am obviously not in Iraq.
But I will ask you one question: why do they have access to old artillery shells in the first place? They aren't easy to move or hide. And they are dangerous to handle. But other than that, I hope you come home safely.
MY RESPONSE TO STEVE
Steve, Thank you for responding, and thanks for your good wishes.
You do raise a good question, and a fair one I think, where do these leftover munitions come from? I'm here and I can't say for sure, but from what I've seen and heard from a not-too-detached vantage point, a lot of it is old, decrepid, unreliable, and most of it probably from Saddam's old arsenals.
It's a good point, how should we have handled the disbanded, abandoned, or evaporated Iraqi Army. But under any scenario I can imagine, unless the entire military structure organized a formal surrender and transfer of authority -- not at all likely -- I can't see how we could have contained or controlled the stockpiles he had. But clearly one of the weaker points of post-invasion planning.
I'll ask you one more question in return. If this is the best they can find to use against us, and as you say, these armaments "aren't easy to move or hide. And they are dangerous to handle," doesn't that speak of desparation and dwindling resources? Doesn't sound like a confident or well-supported guerilla force, does it? We've seen more determined and effective ones in South America or Southwest Asia, wouldn't you say?
Good luck to you, sir. You do produce a professional looking product. Again, thanks for the response and good wishes.
Thursday, April 21, 2005
A Manly Manly Man
When Mrs. Dadmanly drove the van off a steep hill into a gully, leaving the van up in the air akimbo like some Matchbox in the sandbox, Little Manly calmly tells Mom, "It will be alright, Mom."
He's been doing great with the start of baseball season, a southpaw starting off one of the scrimmages with 4 strike outs, 2 walks, no runs, and playing his first league game hitting a 2-run double and a single and playing 1st base the whole game. They won 6-5.
The other night, Mrs. Dadmanly did something that must have really impressed the boy. "Mom," he said, "You astonish me!" He astonishes his mom and me all the time.
He's a really big fan of history, and has hundreds of little, to scale, highly detailed army men from various time periods and nations, and is fond of turning our living room or bedroom into a full scale battleground of various wars. One day it might be Gettysburg in the Civil War. Another time, it's the War in the Pacific Islands or the Battle of the Bulge in World War Two. One night he had the Revolutionary War setup in our bedroom, I had to get up in the middle of the night. Well, the British suffered extraordinary and supernatural destruction of their lines, and Dadmanly cut his feet open on some plastic (but surprisingly sharp) bayonets.
Mrs. Dadmanly reads him some of the posts I write. He must be enjoying them, because the other day he told her, "I'm a Manly Manly Man." And so he is.
Convoy, a Poem
At the start it’s paper
Everything in the army
Lives somewhere as paper.
So all the heavy moving parts
Start with a packet and a plan.
A tip-off from the CO to the
the maintenance man, like
pageant judge, checks in mind’s eye
the faces of men and women, are they
as ready as the trucks he knows so well.
This one steady at the wheel,
That one an aggressive gun, another
Best as backseat, ready to recover
Or render buddy aid as CLS
If we end up in the s***.
Vehicle stats, known quantities
The Level 1, 2, 3 up armor
Gun mounts, troop carry load
Maintenance history, will this baby
Throw a belt or pop a hose.
Packet all complete, it’s good
The plan is done, all red tape now
That tape’s in place, let’s go
One more wakeup and the brief
Then dust on dust we blow.
Apprehension sits atop
The gunmount, convoy moves
Breathing towards the red line
Go juice flowing in your veins
We lock and load and out.
On the labeled route
Racing past adobe villages
More roadside stands than homes
Like some Southwest U.S.
Reservation, alien, askance.
Sometime children on the road
Don’t stop to talk to natives, boy
And watch for road kill ‘cause
Road kill, like trash and junk
May be the last thing you see.
Smiles and saggy uniforms
Of the Friendlies on the way
Don’t stop don’t wave in
Crazy zig zag fly by Iraqi
Army checkpoints bye.
Last miles now, last lap
To FOB, keep eyes in motion
Left, right, up and under, anywhere
Comes the RPG or small arms fire
Anything an IED.
Stretch but do not break
The rubber band of interval
Hurry up catch up now slow down
No bunch ups, double ups, slow goes
Keep a safe blast distance.
Gate again and home
Home or not, inside the berm
Breathe deep the clearing barrels, boys
Gauntlet run, today’s mission done
Climb down, dismount, unload.
Do the drill, keep breathing
Gun in barrel, drop the magazine
Lock the bolt, observe, let ride forward
Pull the trigger to hollow click man
Charge again and place on safe.
Autopilot to the motor yard
Jumbled thoughts of what is home
Here, there, anywhere you get to rest
Day is done, all stories for the joes
And janes, wind down, we’re done.
What was it they told us
During hours and hours of training
For the big event, it’s assymetrical
Pop goes bang, all threat and power out
Then lull, and quiet like death.
Lileks wrote posted an excellent response to all the cultural carpers sniping on the edges of the recent elevation of the latest Roman Catholic Pope, Pope Benedict XVI. He makes the seemingly obvious point that Catholicism is after all, for Catholics, and one should not be surprised if The College of Cardinals elevates a gentlemen that wants the Roman Catholic Church to remain, well, the Roman Catholic Church, rather than some wishy washy, mealy mouthed, Vatican version of the Unitarian Universalists. (Nothing against UU, but if that's what people are searching for, its out there for them to find.)
Catholicism is for Catholics, duh!
So is the Pope. We of other persuasions, however, can applaud having a leading religious figure (even if from a denomination we don’t belong to or representing some dogmas to which we don’t subscribe) joining the fray in our cultural wars.
Hence I am always amazed by people who want the church to accommodate their thoughts, their new beliefs, their precarious and ingenious rationales, instead of ripping themselves from the bosom and seeking a congregation that doesn't make them feel like a heretic banging their head on Filarete's doors. To those who want profound change, consider an outsider’s perspective: the Catholic Church is the National Review of religion. You may live long enough to see it become the Weekly Standard. In your dreams it might become the New Republic. But it’s never going to be the Nation. And if ever it does, it will have roughly the same subscriber base....and...
Habeum pap. Note: every era is the modern era to the people who inhabit it; a “modern” pope in 1937 would have announced that godless collectivism was the wave of the future, and ridden the trains to Auschwitz standing on top, holding gilded reins, whooping like Slim Pickens. The defining quality of 20th century modernity is impatience, I think – the nervous, irritated, aggravated impulse to get on with the new now, and be done with those old tiresome constraints. We’re still in that 20th century dynamic, I think, and we will be held to it until something shocks us to our core. Say what you will about Benedict v.16, but he wants there to be a core to which we can be shocked. And I prefer that to a tepid slurry of happy-clappy relativism that leads to animists consecrating geodes beneath the dome of St. Peter's. That will probably happen eventually, but if we can push it off for a century or two, good.Read the whole thing. (If you have time, see if he has any of his "Good Cheer" or related memorabilia back online yet.)
Wednesday, April 20, 2005
A Praise Report from Mrs. Dadmanly
Good Morning Everyone!!!!!! This is looonnngg.....
I felt like taking one turn in-between Dadmanly's daily inspiration. I read my husbands emails filled with inspiration, hope, wisdom, love, courage, and it is AMAZING to me what the Lord has done/is doing in Dadmanly's life, separate and apart from his family, friends, etc. WOW! I get blown away almost daily by what continues to transpire in his life, I cannot wait to see the next chapter unfold. Although I, like many others, do not always have time to read through everything at once, or grasp the depth of the work that is being done in his life, I have grown just because he is sharing.
I wanted to share my heart today that is filled to the brim and overflowing. If anyone would have told me that I could experience the degree of joy, peace, direction, guidance, wisdom, care, love, GROWTH, and sadness, that has occurred in me and my life since Dadmanly left, I would have truly told them they were crazy. When Dadmanly first left I went through a deep rooted pain that I cannot even express in words, and this was the most horrible, horrible thing God could have ever done. I had no idea this experience would grow into and become one of the most life changing pieces of my life, exactly where I need to be at this point in my life.
I was reflecting this morning on the numerous ways in which God has been taking care of me during this deployment. The revelation truly hit me today. I have experienced first hand what I have been reading and praying and learning about, and waiting for and longing for, and even doubting could be for me. God's Grace, Mercy, Love, Care throughout this "journey" that I had no control over (hum, even a message there, mycontrol???). This was not a journey I would have ever chosen to go on.
I wanted to share three things that happened just in the past four days. This will give you only a tiny bit of understanding into what the past 11 months have been like. I could name "tons" of things, but then I would be writing a book, and I am leaving that up to Dadmanly (who by the way is the most awesome husband, friend, support, have I mentioned any of this before?). Sunday I went to a close friend's babies (yes babies, twins) dedication at her church. As I was leaving the church in our van, I was "being me" and turned totally around to wave to someone behind me and continued to drive -- what I thought was forward, but I was turning the wheel as I turned my head -- and went into a very deep gully.
It was obvious from the position Little Manly and I were in, in the van, that if we moved, we might tip over, I did not know at the time, but the back of our van on the left side was in the air, wheels and all. What occurs to me now is how once again God took care of us! He sent the exact person to calm me, my friend's brother came to the door to help Little Manly and I out. The people that comforted us, the timing of the towtruck, the tow truck driver, my pastor calling my cell phone to ask me a question during this exact time, and prayed with me at that moment on the phone.
Everything was orchestrated by God and taken care of, I remembered I prayed that morning for protection. Not that it is magic, but God tells us to COME TO HIM, "Have a relationship with Me." He is a gentleman, He waits for us, let me tell you there is not a human on this earth who will ever convince me that God did not take care of us during that "adventure." We had not a scratch on us, and the van only had a couple of scratches. Then about a half hour later, Dadmanly called to say "Hi." AWESOME, to hear my husband's voice at that time!
The next event was Little Manly's first baseball game last night. God was there again, I'm not kidding. : ) He gave my son confidence to do something that Little Manly does with his Dad, and without his Dad here, Little Manly still did it knowing that his Dad would be so very proud of him. Perseverance, encouragement, strength, not only for himself but for my son to share with others. What a gift that young boy is to me and so many others, another reminder of the Grace, Mercy, Love, Care of God. They won the game, even without his Dad here, my son stepped up to bat. Again, God sent people to be there for my son, my nephew and his wife came, and my sister. Little Manly sensed the love and support, and even too young to understand. I know God knew who needed to be there last night, my nephew to my son is like having "a Dad" there, God knew this too, I believe that with all my heart.
When we got home my sister left my son a message on the phone, that not only touched my son's heart, but he knew before he heard it that it was her, that again is God's love, care, support and comfort. Again, Dadmanly called last night, and Little Manly shared all the news of the day and he beamed to "share it all with Dad!"
The last thing I need to share, this one I can hardly write without crying. I have to say that I do believe in God's timing. His timing is perfect, and when I surrender my day to Him and not try to do it alone. it is wonderful to see what transpires. Even in the midst of a trial, an uncomfortable situation, circumstances that occur that I would like to go home and hide under my pillow for the day, or just tears that flow without end on somedays, because pain or sadness feels too great to have to face.
God is working out every detail of my life. My cousin (and friend) died seven months ago. It is still very painful to think about. I still go to call her with something funny or silly that we would share together. She has a daughter that I have loved since she was a little girl, just something about her that has stayed within my heart for this child. When my cousin died, I talked with my niece. She asked if I could make her "cavatelli and broccoli," something I had made years ago that she loved and wanted the recipe for. Time has gone on and I have prayed and thought about my niece, but did not do anything to make contact. Today, again, God's timing not mine, I got an email from my Aunt, and on that email was my niece's address.
I immediately sent her a note and asked if I could make her those silly macaronis. After I sent it, I continued down my emails for the day, and she had actually sent me one, asking me for the recipe! No one can tell me that perfect timing does not exist. I wrote her back just sharing my heart, and I can't wait to hear back from her. All these experiences may seem insignificant to you, but they are huge for me. It is the daily assurance, the soft whisper in my ear and spirit that "I am with you" that I can hang onto, I do not have to do it on my own, in my own strength. God wants me to give each day to Him, not depend on anyone but Him, and He will send me EXACTLY what I need EXACTLY when I need it. NOTHING is impossible for Him.
So many people that I cannot even count have touched my life, heart, in so many ways since Dadmanly was separated from me: Family, Church, Coffee Shops, Road Workers, Grocery Clerks, Ice Cream Shop Owner, Landlord's Mother, A women I met ordering flags over the internet last year, Cousins, Nieces, Nephews, Sisters, Sisters-in-Law, Parents, Children, Co-Workers, Old Friends, New Friends, Aunts, Uncles, Counselors, Spiritual Guides, Strangers(in parking lots, lol), Teachers, Baseball Coaches, Neighbors...
I wrote down one day the names of people that I could remember that have come alongside of me just in the past 11 months, and I came up with 350 ... and I know that is not everyone ... I may not be rich in material things, but the God I serve, follow, and trust has given me more then I EVER EVER could have imagined, or thought possible on this journey. I really am looking forward to the next chapter of my life. Jeremiah 29:11 says,
"For I know the plans I have for you declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future, call upon me and come and pray to me and I will listen, you will find me when you seek me with all your heart."
I am a blessed woman. Dadmanly's Wife, Mrs. Dadmanly : )
Tuesday, April 19, 2005
These posts explore the summary exhortation of Proverbs 18, one that has especially strong meaning for believers deployed to Iraq (Proverbs 18:10):
10The name of the LORD is a strong tower;
The righteous run to it and are safe.
The name of the Lord is a strong tower, a fortress, a rock, a shield. Not everyone can accept this. Not everyone recognizes God in this way, and even some who do, find it difficult to trust God enough to take Him up on His offer.
Strong Tower Part One
Strong Tower Part Two
Strong Tower Part Three
Monday, April 18, 2005
"Do you support the pull out of foreign troops?
"At once - 12.56%
"According to a future timetable - 81.80%
"Do not know - 5.64%
"Has the security situation improved since the start of the new government?
"Yes - 55%
"No - 35%
"No change - 10%"
Haider also confirms what I posted, which Powerline reported at the time of the protests, that 200,000 Iraqis were protesting against Saddam, while maybe 10,000 protested against the U.S. presence. (And of course guess which gets reported.)
Chrenkoff's Hariri adds the following additional news, also not reported in western media:
"Most of us read, heard and saw the medias report of the April 9th demonstrations in Baghdad. Most of the U.S. media portrayed it as a massive anti American demonstration in the streets of Iraq. I noticed, however, from Iraqi Arabic newspapers that most the demonstrations were against terrorism & calling for Saddam's trial & hanging (all these signs were in Arabic). I called my father in Baghdad to confirm this and he confirmed it. My father then confirmed that Al Sadr had asked his followers to demonstrate for the withdrawal of foreign troops, he also said that this group was very small and almost insignificant compared to the rest who were calling for Saddam's trial & hanging and those against terrorism. My father said the Iraqi media reported the number like this 'about 200,000 demonstrators of which 8,000-10,000 were Al-Sadr & Sunni supporters' (strange bed fellows). He also said that when he listened to the Iraqi elected officials (on live T.V.) in the assembly, that every one (every one including those Sunnis initially opposed to the elections), every man and woman assembly member, reiterated the importance of foreign and specifically U.S. troops staying in Iraq till Iraq is ready to take over its own security. Most of them expressed their thanks for the troops being there and freeing Iraqis from Saddam. This I did not read, hear or see in any U.S. mainstream media outlet.If you rely on CNN, the New York Times, Washington Post, LA Times (shudder) or CBS as your major source of news, you will never develop an accurate perception about what is going on in Iraq, let alone the Middle East as a whole. Because to them, the poll, the statements of the Iraqi elected officials, the anecdotal accounts above are not news.
"These are the people Iraq elected, asking us to stay and thanking us. The poll shows only 12% want us to leave at once. This makes a complete mockery of the mainstream media coverage of the demonstrations. As my wife told me when she heard the coverage on CNN: 'Haider you are going to get mad when you hear this', and I am still mad. Forgive me for rehashing this point. I feel it really needs pointing out. Iraqis are grateful for what we did and continue to be grateful for us being there."
News is what confirms what we already believe to be true, and anything else is, well, inconvenient. Or the CIA. Or the RNC, or Karl Rove, or nasty conservative bloggers, somebody like that. Certainly nothing that needs to concern us. Or change our minds that this war is a quagmire, ghastly mistake, criminal, democracy shoved down their throats...
(yadda yadda yadda)
Sunday, April 17, 2005
His greatest exhortation is a timeless call to not neglect our rich history:
The laws we live by, the freedoms we enjoy, the institutions that we take for granted – as we should never take for granted – are all the work of other people who went before us. And to be indifferent to that isn’t just to be ignorant, it’s to be rude. And ingratitude is a shabby failing. How can we not want to know about the people who have made it possible for us to live as we live, to have the freedoms we have, to be citizens of this greatest of countries in all time? It’s not just a birthright, it is something that others struggled for, strived for, often suffered for, often were defeated for and died for, for us, for the next generation.
The study of history and history's actors is far too often derided or abandoned because of contemporary criticisms of ancient failings or faults. True, some of the great heroes of our history were far from perfect, our nation's history is full of blemishes, but what time in history and in what place has that ever NOT been true? McCullough:
Now those who wrote the Declaration of Independence in Philadelphia that fateful summer of 1776 were not superhuman by any means. Every single one had his flaws, his failings, his weaknesses. Some of them ardently disliked others of them. Every one of them did things in his life he regretted. But the fact that they could rise to the occasion as they did, these imperfect human beings, and do what they did is also, of course, a testimony to their humanity. We are not just known by our failings, by our weaknesses, by our sins. We are known by being capable of rising to the occasion and exhibiting not just a sense of direction, but strength.
McCullough argues for a more effective (and thorough) teaching of history, not just because those who do not learn from the mistakes of the past are bound to repeat them, but because to learn history is to savor the past:
History isn’t just something that ought to be taught or ought to be read or ought to be encouraged because it’s going to make us a better citizen. It will make us a better citizen; or because it will make us a more thoughtful and understanding human being, which it will; or because it will cause us to behave better, which it will. It should be taught for pleasure: The pleasure of history, like art or music or literature, consists of an expansion of the experience of being alive, which is what education is largely about.
McCullough recalls some deep wisdom that John Adams shared with his wife, and tracks down the source of his inspiration. This can tell us much about education, and underscore the great messages we lose in forgetting our history:
There’s a line in one of the letters written by John Adams where he’s telling his wife Abigail at home, “We can’t guarantee success in this war, but we can do something better. We can deserve it.”
I was reading some correspondence written by George Washington and there was the same line. I thought, wait a minute, what’s going on? And I thought, they’re quoting something. So, as we all often do, I got down good old Bartlett’s Familiar Quotations, and I started going through the entries from the 18th century and bingo, there it was. It’s a line from the play Cato. They were quoting something that was in the language of the time. They were quoting scripture of a kind, a kind of secular creed if you will. And you can’t understand why they behaved as they did if you don’t understand that. You can’t understand why honor was so important to them and why they were truly ready to put their lives, their fortunes, their sacred honor on the line. Those weren’t just words.
McCullough concludes with a letter that Abigail Adams sent to her son John Quincy Adams, upon a family decision to have John Quincy return to Europe despite a wretched prior trip, after which he said he vowed never to return.
Now, keep in mind that this is being written to a little kid and listen to how different it is from how we talk to our children in our time. She’s talking as if to a grownup. She’s talking to someone whom they want to bring along quickly because there’s work to do and survival is essential:
These are the times in which genius would wish to live. It is not in the still calm of life or the repose of a pacific station that great characters are formed. The habits of a vigorous mind are formed in contending with difficulties. Great necessities call out great virtues. When a mind is raised and animated by scenes that engage the heart, then those qualities which would otherwise lay dormant wake into life and form the character of the hero and the statesman.
Twenty years from now we will look back on these times of great necessity and recall what evidences there are of great virtue. And if we are able to rise to the great challenges we face -- not the least, confronting ignorance, fear, self-loathing, and passivity -- we must ensure that these vital lessons of our age are recorded, recalled, and extolled. Whether we win or not, "we can deserve it."
Portions of McCullough's speech: Reprinted by permission from IMPRIMIS, the national speech digest of Hillsdale College, www.hillsdale.edu.
Saturday, April 16, 2005
Hanson then reviews the prior foreign policy approaches that not only failed to prevent 9/11/01 or control Militant Islamic Terrorism, but also worsened many of the world’s worst geopolitical swamps: Realism, Punitivism, Bribery, and “Let Them Be.”
Brent Scowcroft ... once assured us that Iraq “could become a Vietnam in a way that the Vietnam war never did.” Did he mean perhaps worse than ten years of war and over 50,000 American dead, with the Cambodian holocaust next door?
Zbigniew Brzezinski feared … that it would take 500,000 troops, $500 billion, and resumption of the military draft to achieve security in Iraq. Did he mean Iraq needed more American troops than did the defense of Europe in the Cold War?
Madeleine Albright, while abroad, summed up the present American foreign policy: “It's difficult to be in France and criticize my government. But I'm doing so because Bush and the people working for him have a foreign policy that is not good for America, not good for the world.” Elections in Afghanistan and Iraq, troops out of Saudi Arabia, democratic demonstrations in Lebanon, West Bank voting, promises of change in Egypt — all that and more is “not good for the world”?
For the last year, such well-meaning former "wise people" have pretty much assured us that the Bush doctrine will not work and that the Arab world is not ready for Western-style democracy, especially when fostered through Western blood and iron.
So how did these prior strategies turn out? Hanson’s answers (all quotes Hanson):
Realism brought us an “autocratic, corrupt, and unpopular” Saudi royal family, “whose petrol-fueled mosques and madrassas were the laboratories of thousands of anti-Western terrorists.” Punitivism “embodied the worst of all strategies — just enough muscle to enrage our enemies but not enough to scare them, just about right to earn their lasting scorn without ever solving the problem. Nothing is as dangerous in war as striking but not defeating an enemy, showing contempt without the real ability to humble and humiliate him.”
Bribery cost us plenty, $57 billion to Egypt alone, “suggesting to the Cairo Street that a weak country was prevented from fulfilling its destiny of destroying Israel only by American and Zionist machinations.” Letting them be resulted in “a pathological Middle East left alone to blame others for its own self-induced mess, kept "in its box" by American money, a few missiles, and soft talk.”
Which brings Hanson to the truly progressive – and thus far astonishingly effective -- foreign policy of the Bush Administration:
Policy #5: The New Americanism
We’ve seen some very strange things since this war started on September 11. But nothing is quite as odd as the past architects of failure weighing in on the dangers of “neoWilsonianism,” “neoconservative ideologues,” and veiled references to Israeli machinations, as the Bush administration finally sets right three decades these people’s flawed policies and tries to promote a new Americanism based on our own universal values and aspirations.
The past ostracism of Arafat and the removal of the Taliban and Saddam Hussein, followed by democratic engagement, will bring eventual stability to the Middle East and enhance the security of the United States. After the failures of all our present critics, this new policy of promoting American values is our last, best hope. And the president will be rewarded long after he leaves office by the verdict of history for nobly sticking to it when few others, friend or foe, would.
As always, Hanson maintains a steady context for a constructive policy perspective. Perhaps if critics of our Global War on Terror, or naysayers of our efforts in Iraq and throughout the world, were to offer some viable alternatives. It's as if they've been asleep for the past three and a half years, and Rip Van Winkle like, they awake with the same perspectives that were so inadequate in the recent past. These walking sleepers remain as inpervious to the solution as it progresses as they were to the problem as it grew from nocturnal worry to waking nightmare.
I say we tell them to have a glass of water and go back to bed.
Friday, April 15, 2005
As everyone in my family knows, that's my favorite song from one of my favorite musicals, "Seven Brides for Seven Brothers," based on Plutarch's ancient tale, The Rape of the Sabine Women. I sing baritone, and I love to belt out the first stanza. (That, and it's a very humorous lyric.)
So tonight I decided to watch Oklahoma. Hands down, that's my all time favorite. All of the great American musicals have some qualities to admire. West Side Story is fully operatic, breath-taking in its score, vitality, and the raw energy it captures of its subject. Sound of Music is grand, certainly among Rodgers and Hammerstein's best work, moving, rich with a fine match of great melody and artful lyric. I enjoy My Fair Lady very much despite Rex Harrison, Audrey Hepburn is brilliant and "On the Street Where You Live" one of the great unrequited love songs of all time. Music Man is great fun with very catchy tunes, but more than that I think perfectly captures in musical form an earlier, more innocent America that I think many of us would love to revisit.
But Oklahoma is a precious work, quite unlike any other creation in the genre, with more beautiful melodies, clever lyrics, and downright lovely love songs than any work of its kind. That it is often regarded as the first of the Great American Musicals, suggests that no one ever was able to quite match it again.
I've seen Oklahoma several times live, and honestly, I can't watch it and not have the same physical reactions every time. When Gordon MacRae starts out with that swelling vocal in his ode to the natural world, rising in intensity as he lyrically sketches the beauty of a fine summer morning, I am there as if next to him. When he and Shirley Jones warn each other that "People May Say We're in Love," they trace the ways a love is grown, and never were two such beautiful voices paired and matched so perfectly matched to their material.
Ado Annie and Will Parker and their daliances add comic relief, and juxtapose what might be considered more earthly love against the idylic pairing of Curly and Laurey. Rod Steiger as Judd Frey stands out as one of the more remarkable of Steiger's performances, if only because he ended his career much more widely known for dramatic parts on television.
And finally, I never fail to get a catch in my throat when the full cast sings the title song. There's this great section in the score when the full chorus starts a train effect with Okla ... homa Okla ... Homa Okla ... Homa, starting low and slow, and building up to a crescendo in which they sing the refrain. If I was from Oklahoma, I'd be crying at that point, I get goosebumps just thinking about it!
So Jilly Beans, thank you for your wonderful gift tonight, I don't know that I would have thought to watch it, but I am very much glad I did.
And for all of you, if you haven't seen it, or haven't seen it in years, rent it and watch it soon. It is the finest of musical experiences, guaranteed to lift your spirit, never how high it is already!
Thursday, April 14, 2005
Hope Deferred (and the Knowledge of the Heart)
I have committed to spending more time with my troops, so I've been "out and about." It's important for me to do that, but it's not always pleasant, because there are always problems. The men and women here tend to keep alot to themselves, they make do, they get by, and grit their teeth. But if a leader stops and takes the time, and listens, and lets them know he or she cares, sometimes you hear things that you almost wish you hadn't.
But in the end, you know you need to hear, so that you can act. You can fix what's broke. You can teach, you can encourage, you can make a difference and let the troops know they're important, and their problems are a shared concern.
There has been a lot of activity in the region lately, which reminds us all that there are still dangers. Lots of sounds, and even explosions quite a distance a way -- far more often outgoing as incoming, or even outside our FOB -- can cause quite a compression of air. Everything rattles.
I am also anxious for a sequence of things here, nothing too difficult, but a series of small aggravations or stresses. I also need to get up early for one of our routine convoys, and it's part of the flow of life here, but I usually don't play a leading role in these. And of course, I want everything prepared in advance, so there's all of that to deal with.
But as always when you seek God and inquire of His word, He knows exactly what you need to hear.
12Hope deferred makes the heart sick,
But when the desire comes, it is a tree of life.
Proverbs 14:10, 13, 26
10The heart knows its own bitterness,
And a stranger does not share its joy.
13Even in laughter the heart may sorrow,
And the end of mirth may be grief.
26In the fear of the LORD there is strong confidence,
And His children will have a place of refuge.
We carry so much around in our hearts. We were designed to be full of hope, we are creations of promise. We each of us are crafted with a full measure of the bounty of His blessings, but so many of us neglect to seek where we might fill ourselves up.
By storing up and dwelling on our sadnesses and slights, hurts and fears, we make ourselves "heartsick" in the meaning here. We have desires, sometimes unheathly, but even in the most jaded, there are desires for peace and happiness, fulfillment and purpose. And sometimes despie ourselves, when we reach those desires or in His grace He gives us some unexpected fulfillment of almost unhoped for joy, our spirits can soar like that "tree of life."
We need to ask God to work on those pieces of bitterness, on those remnants of lostness in our hearts. Sometimes it's doubt or fear. Sometimes it's unforgiveness, or a sense of our unforgiven-ness. Fear of the Lord, as we've discussed before, doesn't reference the frightened reaction to a terrible menace or danger, but rather an awe and deep respect for the name that is above all names, the God of all creation, who would be terrible to truly behold but Who's love and mercy is from everlasting to everlasting.
And until such time as our hearts life and lighten, until such time as joy flows as returning tides, until then, God will keep us His children in refuge. We are not alone and adrift, but kept snug in the promises of the Lord.
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