Friday, November 24, 2006


No Time To Lose

Dadmanly will need to be mostly offline for a while.

We have entered a season of loss, of saying goodbye, and closing one door before being quite sure what window or door God in His wisdom will see fit to open. (But we're confident based on experience that He will, He will.

During this time of stress and grief, I'm afraid I've been letting an unhealthy over-endulgence on blogging and focus on matters political consume what little time I've left to myself, and it has begun to affect my work, which I can't really afford to let it do.

All to say that Dadmanly for the most part will fall silent for this season, as I focus on my family, preparing us for things to come. We rededicate our lives in the only way that really matters, with eyes on Him above, and take on each day with whatever the day brings, knowing that we know that, with His provision, we will stand strong, persevere, and even rise on wings like eagles.

Friends, thanks for all the support and encouragement, dialog and online fellowship. I'll try to keep everybody posted, here and at MILBLOGS, when Dadmanly re-emerges, in whatever form that takes...

Wednesday, November 22, 2006


Hook's Leadership Profiles

My long time readers know all about Dadmanly Profiles, but I want to alert readers to the start of another fine, and related series, under development by one fine Command Sergeant Major (CSM).

As SGT Hook explains in his original post, he recently undertook what has been the most challenging mission of his career, standing up a new Battalion from scratch as the senior noncommissioned officer (NCO) for the unit, the CSM. I’m flattered that, in the course of his reflections on leadership, SGT Hook had found inspiration in my Profiles:
Then, while reading the ever eloquent Dadmanly today, I found his collection of Profiles of key leaders, and was quite impressed. Add my recent reflections on past duty assignments, and I was suddenly inspired to put my own thoughts to paper (read blog) on defining just who/what a squad leader, platoon sergeant, etc. is in the Army.
Hook’s a lot kinder than my own CSM. Eloquent would not have been the word he used, rather a less polite synonym for “verbose.” Who, when he (often) reached a point where I had said too much, used to say I made his brain hurt. I think it was more often exposure – to the elements for sure, preferring the Mohatma Ghandi hairstyle, but possibly also to unpleasant news… Listen, if you want more on him, read it here.

CSMs, I suppose come in all shapes and sizes, but almost all with a max decibel voice and what seems like a 10 foot standard issue frame (at least when he’s in your face). For those who don’t quite understand how the Army is organized, if the NCO Corps is the backbone of the Army, then CSMs are the spinal cord within the backbone of the Army.

I’m pleased to announce that SGT Hook has indeed commenced his profiles, with the first two installments. In the first, The Army Organized, Hook helpfully offer a primer on Army organization. I want to excerpt it in its entirety, if only because I am finding myself explaining these structures to the uninitiated – or listening to Little Manly do so, I think he’s got it down pat now!

Anyway, here’s Hook’s Army Organization 101:
The smallest unit in the Army is the squad, usually consisting of 8 to 12 Soldiers, but could be as small as 4 or 5. The squad is led by a squad leader, ordinarily a sergeant (E5), sometimes a staff sergeant (E6), and often a corporal (E4). For the purpose of our discussion, I will focus my views on the sergeant, aka: buck sergeant, as a squad leader.

Next up from squad is the platoon (note: there is something called a section, but for ease of explanation we’ll just go from squad to platoon). A platoon is normally made up of several squads and depending upon the type of unit, a platoon could consist of anywhere from 40 to 80 Soldiers. The platoon is ordinarily led by a platoon leader and a platoon sergeant. The platoon leader is most often a Lieutenant (O1 or O2), but I’ve seen at times Captains (O3) leading some of the larger platoons. The platoon leader is not alone however, as there is a platoon sergeant assigned, usually at the rank of Sergeant First Class (E7), though sometimes a Staff Sergeant (E6) has the reigns.

A company is made up of several platoons; anywhere from 4 to 7 platoons. The company commander is usually a Captain (O3), though there are some companies who require Majors (O4) to be in command, and some companies that just don’t have a Captain available, so they stick a Lieutenant in command. Each company also has a First Sergeant (E8) assigned as the senior enlisted Soldier of the unit. The First Sergeant is one of the most important positions in the Army. Companies are formed by capability and most companies have unique missions.

The battalion consists of several companies, usually 5, but sometimes is made up of 4 to 7 companies (my battalion has just 4 companies). Leading the battalion is a Lieutenant Colonel (O5), aka: “light colonel,” and a Command Sergeant Major (E9), aka: “pain in the ass.” The battalion has a large staff of officers and senior noncommissioned officers who do a lot of mission analysis, planning, and resourcing in support of the companies within the battalion.

A brigade is comprised of several battalions. Since the Army’s transformation, the brigade has become the focal point of how we do business. Most brigades are led by a “full-bird” Colonel (O6) and a Command Sergeant Major (E9) and are comprised of several battalions. Today’s brigade is 99% self sufficient and capable of conducting operations anywhere in the world.

Last, but not least, is the division. The Army has 11 10 active divisions, made up of multiple brigades each. The commanding general of an Army division is usually a two-star, Major General, and he has a Command Sergeant Major assigned. The division plans for and assigns missions to its subordinate brigades.
Outstanding, Sergeant Major!

Hook also posted the first of his duty position profiles, a Part One for the Squad Leader. Here’s his introduction to what, in many ways, is the most important leadership position in the entire Army:
As mentioned previously, the smallest unit in the Army is the squad, usually consisting of 8 to 12 Soldiers, but could be as small as 4 or 5. The squad is led by; you guessed it, a squad leader, ordinarily in the rank of sergeant (E5), sometimes a staff sergeant (E6), and often a corporal (E4). For the purpose of this discussion, I will focus my views primarily on the sergeant, aka: buck sergeant, as the squad leader.

The squad leader is the only position that is in both a Soldier’s chain of command, and NCO support channel. He is the first line leader and supervisor of our young Soldiers. There is nothing that happens at the squad level that he is not directly involved in, or aware of; nothing. A good squad leader knows each member of his team inside and out. He knows his Soldiers, what their strengths are, what their weaknesses are, and what makes them tick. He reads the signs that indicate when a Soldier is on the verge of his breaking point, and when he can go further.

The squad leader works right along side her Soldiers, demonstrating what right looks like, then evaluating to ensure her squad members know what right looks like. She’s the first one in to work at oh dark thirty, and the last one to leave in the evening. She stops by the barracks more nights than not, just to check on her Soldiers, knowing she’ll be late for dinner with her family, yet again.

The squad leader has a huge amount of responsibilities, though it may not seem so compared to leaders of larger units. He is responsible for making sure that each member of his squad is trained to proficiency, both tactically and technically. The squad leader is also accountable for all equipment assigned to the squad, and for ensuring his Soldiers have in their possession, maintained in a serviceable condition, all uniforms and equipment issued to them. His greatest responsibility, however, is in knowing where each member of the squad is at all times, always ready to respond when asked, “Where’s Jo?”
And in many ways, good leadership at every level of Command harkens back to these core responsibilities, the best example of which is first established by the Squad Leader.

Hook, we look forward to more.


Dilemma in Lebanon

Events in Lebanon look grim. For some excellent analysis, see Faysal at The Thinking Lebanese. Michael Totten, better versed than most on matters Lebanese, weighs in as well.

Wide-ranging summary of reporting up at Pajamas Media, while the Right Wing Nuthouse focuses on the potential for conflict, stemming from calls for “competing protests,” from March 14th Forces and Hizbullah.

The Opinion Journal editorializes that those who make the argument that we must talk with more than just our friends, might take serious note of who that means we engage, and what they’re all about:
Curiously, Gemayel was killed just as the U.N. agreed on the composition of an international tribunal to try the case. It is no secret that Syrian President Bashar Assad has been pulling out all the stops to quash the trial. Six pro-Syrian politicians in the Lebanese cabinet recently resigned en masse in an attempt to cripple the government, and Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah has been threatening huge demonstrations to bring down the anti-Syrian Prime Minister Fuad Siniora, who is also backed by the U.S. and France. Killing Gemayel removes another obstacle to Syrian dominance in Lebanon.

Which brings us back to Mr. Baker and the rest of the U.S. foreign-policy establishment now urging a new entente with Damascus. It's true that every Administration must deal with the world as it is. But when it comes to Syria, do the sages of the Iraq Study Group really want the Bush Administration to seek the benediction of a country that stirs such mayhem in Beirut?
For those who think the internecine battles of the Red and the Blue in the US brutal and unprincipled, should consider the contrast with Lebanese politics, as practiced by Hezbollah, as well as other Syrian and Iranian interlopers, with assassination as the primary means of forcing a change in government. As Faysal observes:
Following the summer conflict with Israel, radical Shiite Islamist group Hezbollah has seized the opportunity to fortify its political position in Lebanon by forcing an expansion of the Lebanese Cabinet that would give Shiite parliament members veto power to counter the anti-Syrian March 14 coalition. To achieve this, Hezbollah has escalated sectarian tensions in the country and organized massive demonstrations in Beirut in an effort to prove it can control the decisions of the Lebanese government with or without majority political representation. Now that Gemayel has been eliminated from the Cabinet, only one more Cabinet position needs to fall in order for the government to lose its constitutionality. Gemayel's assassination is part of a strategy to bring down the Lebanese government and force new elections that could favor Hezbollah and its Shiite allies.
Observers argue over the Shia and Sunni dimensions (and differences) entwined in the dilemma of Lebanon, over Hezbollah or Syrian intents, and potential conflicts of interests, beyond what is obviously the most conflicted interest of all: that of a weary and terrorized Lebanese people, who may well fear that a new and more horrific history of violence will now be written. (It seems like they’re already past the Introductory chapters…)

Tuesday, November 21, 2006


Events in Lebanon

Unidentified gunmen assassinate yet another Lebanese Official, and speculation abounds as to the likely Syrian role in the killing.

Incredibly, the best background on Syrian motives and strategic planning in Lebanon can be found readily at hand, in two articles written prior to the killing of anti-Syrian Christian politician Pierre Gemayel showed up as background.

Eyal Zisser, writing in Middle East Quarterly (via Michael Rubin at National Review Online), describes the increasing and calculated boldness of Syria’s Bashar al-Assad, emboldened by a perceived weakening of the Bush Administration, and recent talk of inviting Iran and Syria to “assist in finding peaceful solutions for Iraq.”

Zisser introduces his essay with a warning about Assad:
Even as Syria faces domestic crisis and appears to be on a collision course with the United States, France, and many Arab states, Bashar has retrenched rather than adjusted his chosen course. He is neither committing political suicide nor acting illogically. Rather, he assesses threats to his regime to be less severe and his position to be more secure than many outside Syria believe. He calculates that persistent resistance to U.S. pressure wins the domestic and wider Arab support needed to ensure regime survival and gambles that, even if White House threats have substance, he can outlast the Bush administration and emerge victorious from his diplomatic clash. Rather than mitigate his international defiance, he will maintain it.
Next, Michael Young, editorializing in the Opinion Journal (via Memeorandum), warns that Syria must be held accountable for the murder of Rafik Hariri, and no doubt, other Lebanese Government officials.

Young also warns of potential dangers in letting up the pressure on Syria’s Assad, and giving him any cover or concession prior to further findings of the Hariri investigation:
Wherever one stands in the spectrum of U.S. foreign-policy thinking, the Hariri tribunal is a mechanism that should satisfy all. Democracy defenders see in it an institutional means of buttressing Lebanon's independence from Syria--presuming that U.N. investigators demonstrate Syrian involvement in Hariri's elimination. Realists will gain a splendid stick with which to force Syrian compliance with American priorities elsewhere in the Middle East, including Iraq. The court's mandate does not oblige presidents to put in an appearance (though there is no immunity from crime, meaning they can be sentenced in absentia), so Mr. Assad can be destabilized if his involvement is proven, but not necessarily forced from office. It would make him conveniently vulnerable to outside coercion.

That's why events in Lebanon are so important. Syria's Lebanese allies are trying to undermine the Hariri investigation from within, and are expected to escalate their efforts very soon, maybe even this week. It makes no sense for the U.S. to hand them more ammunition by prematurely transacting with Mr. Assad before the U.N. completes its task and assigns responsibility for the assassination.
The Bush Administration needs to block any effort, extra-governmental, clandestine, or internal, that offers Syria or their Iranian masters terms what will no doubt be perceived by our enemies as the initial terms of our surrender. There remains much still at stake, in Lebanon, Iraq, or the broader Middle East, and far too many American opinion-makers, Realist or otherwise, prepared to make a deal with the devil to return us to a “see no evil” foreign policy. Not least at stake, any hope for the preservation of these fledging experiments in Democracy in the region.


Dishonor and Vietnam

James Q Wilson reports on The Press at War over at the City Journal.

Here’s how Wilson opens his Media War coverage:
We are told by careful pollsters that half of the American people believe that American troops should be brought home from Iraq immediately. This news discourages supporters of our efforts there. Not me, though: I am relieved. Given press coverage of our efforts in Iraq, I am surprised that 90 percent of the public do not want us out right now.
I have to agree with him, based on predominant mainstream media (MSM) reporting, I’m surprised we don’t have millions in the street. They must be watching less (non-cable) TV news and (surely) reading fewer newspapers than even dwindling rating indicate.

Wilson does a credible job of running through what is now a fairly well-known-to-media-critics portfolio of ideologically biased and agenda driven journalistic malfeasance: Cronkite’s “we can’t win,” yearlong My Lai daily tie-ins, and gross extrapolations to the rest of the armed services, false reporting on the 1968 Tet Offensive, intentionally uncorrected, and so on.

Wilson also conducts a simple thought experiment, recreating coverage of World War Two events through the eyes of an imagined press that followed today’s reporting template. The results are startling, and highlight how far from a patriotic press our MSM has grown.

Wilson attacks what he identifies as three myths of Vietnam reporting, beginning with The Living Room War Myth:
Media technology had changed. Vietnam was the first war in which television was available to a mass audience, and, as both critics and admirers of TV unite in saying, television brings the war home in often unsettling graphic images.
Wilson rightly observes that millions of American movie-goers watched Pathé and Movietone newsreels throughout WWII without turning against the war, and studies have shown that, until 1968, American press reporting on Vietnam was generally positive.

The second myth Wilson takes on is reporting from Vietnam was “uncensored,” and therefore, Americans were able to learn the “truth” about the war. Wilson acknowledges that censorship in prior conflicts was all about protecting operational security, whereas the real damage done by reporting in Vietnam, and enemy propaganda pieces picked up by US celebrities and activists, were conveying an attitude and perspective that we were wrong, and our enemies right.

The third myth Wilson addresses is that mis-reporting on Vietnam was due to a lack of military expertise and knowledge within the media, whereas Wilson finds another explanation:
One veteran reporter, S. L. A. Marshall, put the real difference this way: once upon a time, “the American correspondent . . . was an American first, a correspondent second.” But in Vietnam, that attitude shifted. An older journalist in Vietnam, who had covered the Second World War, lamented the bitter divisions among the reporters in Saigon, where there were “two camps”: “those who wanted to win the war and those who wanted to lose it.” The new reporters filed exciting, irreverent copy, which made it to the front pages; the veteran reporters’ copy ended up buried way in back.
Probably the most telling point Wilson makes in his piece, is that in the case of Vietnam, each successive President, whatever else their motivations, decidedly did not seek to win the war in Vietnam:
First, Presidents Kennedy and Johnson both wanted to avoid losing Vietnam without waging a major war in Asia. Kennedy tried to deny that Americans were fighting. A cable that his administration sent in 1962 instructed diplomats and soldiers never to imply to reporters any “all-out U.S. involvement.” Other messages stressed that “this is not a U.S. war.” When David Halberstam of the New York Times wrote stories criticizing the South Vietnamese government, Kennedy tried to have him fired because he was calling attention to a war that we did not want to admit we were fighting.

Johnson was willing to say that we were fighting, but without any cost and with rosy prospects for an early victory. He sought to avoid losing by contradictory efforts to appease doves (by bombing halts and peace feelers), satisfy hawks (with more troops and more bombing), and control the tactical details of the war from the Oval Office. After the Cam Ne report from Morley Safer, Johnson called the head of CBS and berated him in language I will not repeat here.

When Richard Nixon became president, he wanted to end the war by pulling out American troops, and he did so. None of the three presidents wanted to win, but all wanted to report “progress.” All three administrations instructed military commanders always to report gains and rely on suspect body counts as a way of measuring progress. The press quickly understood that they could not trust politicians and high-level military officers.
Anti-war critics are quick to describe Vietnam (and Iraq for that matter) as transgressions, as points of dishonor, neither earning nor warranting the recognition of any honorable intention or noble goal, if only as salve for defeat.

There was dishonor in Vietnam. Dishonor on the part of those who sent soldiers to war with no intention of winning the fight, and dishonor in the profession of journalism that placed agenda and ideology above reporting of fact.

No President paid a price for this dishonor, although LBJ gave up whatever hope he had for re-election. Far from suffering, reporters gained valuable credit and standing within their profession, given fair credit for “ending” an unpopular war, made more unpopular by their efforts.

In the end, the dishonor of Vietnam, and the media-enshrined legacy of shame, has been borne most unfairly by the soldiers who served.

Read the whole thing.

Linked at Mudville Gazette.


A Piece of the Elephant

Michael Fumento writes of his return to Ramadi, posted at his site, and also appearing in the latest Weekly Standard.

Not to take away anything from Fumento’s must read account, but here’s his take-away on the significance of Ramadi:

People always ask how the Iraqis feel about Americans and the war in general. I respond that they just tell you what they think will prove advantageous to them, a combination of complaints and praise for Ameriki (America). Non-embedded American reporters run into the same thing. I asked one of the north Ramadi farmers through the translator if he thinks Ramadi is getting safer. He starts out with a few complaints, such as lack of water from the Euphrates for his fields because of rationing, and then tells me: "But safety is 100 percent better now that the Americans have come along." Baloney. Things got a lot more dangerous when we first came along. They may or may not be safer now than a year ago, but this guy isn't going to tell me. None of them will tell me.

Soldiers also give different accounts of the extent of progress in Ramadi. A Cougar driver told me nothing had changed since his last deployment, yet the very fact that he was driving into Ramadi in a convoy of just four trucks indicated otherwise. Another told me Ramadi is now "a thousand times better." Ultimately each was simply another blind man feeling his part of the elephant. With my three embeds in Anbar, I'd like to believe I've felt quite a few parts of the elephant.

Ramadi is not Baghdad, with its roiling sectarian violence and militias. As we've come to learn, Iraq probably cannot find peace until those militias are disbanded and suppressed. But neither will it find peace if the insurgents and terrorists of the Sunni strongholds like Ramadi continue to ply their trade; and despite the media focus on sectarian killings in October, Sunni insurgents still accounted for more than 80 percent of American military deaths in Iraq that month.

Put it all together--the Forward Observation Bases, new Combat Operation Posts, new Observation Posts, tribal cooperation, ever more Iraqi army and police, better intelligence, and public works projects. There's no "stay the course" strategy here; the course changes as necessary and it's continually changed for the better. I believe we are winning the Battle of Ramadi. And if the enemy can be beaten here, he can be beaten anywhere.

Fumento’s impression bears stark contrast to the prevailing “conventional wisdom” reported by mainstream media (MSM): that Iraq is a “mess,” that we can’t possibly win, that we are making no progress, that things are getting worse all the time, or that our only recourse is to salvage symbolic accomplishment and organize our withdrawal.

The real story, the entirety of the elephant to which Fumento alludes, is far more complicated, and perhaps more hope-inspiring.

Iraqis may not like the presence or predominance of American forces, they may not like or trust their government, they may fall under the sway of factions or militias, but they darn well despise the bitter-enders and their foreign terrorist interlopers.

We need more reports like these, and more on-the-ground and in-the-action reporters like Fumento. Else, we stand little chance of ever seeing more than a few square inches of elephant hide, and may think it something else.

(Cross-posted at MILBLOGS)

Monday, November 20, 2006


Time for Spiritual Warfare

Steve Schippert at MILBLOGS and Blackfive both posted a call for spiritual warriors to intercede on behalf of Lieutenant Andrew Kinard, struggling for life at Bethesda Naval Hospital.

Here are the particulars on Andrew Kenton Kinard, of the 2nd Marine Division’s 2nd Light Armored Reconnaissance Battalion:

Three weeks ago, Marine Lieutenant Andrew Kinard was on patrol in Iraq and was hit by an IED (three other Marines were hit, too). Apparently, before shock set in, Kinard established security and asked about his men, then passed out. The damage to his body was extremely severe. I don't know who the hospital corpsman was who assisted Lt. Kinard, but I know that Kinard went into cardiac arrest twice and lost most of his blood - whoever that corpsman is, he is a miracle worker. Andrew was flown to Al Asad (by that time had used 67 units of blood), then Germany and now Bethesda. He has lost his right leg above the knee, the left leg at his pelvis, and he has lots of internal damage to his intestines, kidneys, etc. He's on a ventilator. He is fighting infections. He's been awake only a few times since his injury.

Once he recovers, he'll be moved to Walter Reed for rehabilitation.

So, if ever there was a case for your faith, prayers are needed for Lieutenant Kinard, especially that he may have strength in his kidneys and pulmonary system to survive long enough to have surgery to fix critical functions and survive a kidney transplant.

I pray that the God that created everything in heaven and on earth might extend his care and provision upon LT Kinard. May the good LT confound those who know of his injuries, and that his body might strengthen and repair itself in the care of his doctors.

Thursday, November 16, 2006


Mommy State Logic

Time for yet more Mommy State logic from Democrats.

I want to elaborate on an earlier post in which I mention illegal immigration, and tie the issue more closely to the minimum wage.

Democrats remain bereft of any real ideas for Iraq -- their "ideas" and plans day by day diverge between two simple positions, redeploy (run) or do pretty much what the US military has been doing. Likewise, corruption and pork barrel spending wasn't invented by Republicans, however good some of them are at both, and Democrats will surely rue the day they made that one of their centerpieces: Murtha and Jefferson and Reid will just be the start.

That's why we're seeing so much about the minimum wage, Democrats everywhere are falling all over themselves to show "government in action." Unfortunately, it's Mommy State government. By inaction and inattention on illegal immigration, the Mommy Staters circumvent healthy free market forces.

Why won't employers pay more for semi-skilled or unskilled workers? They don't have to, because of the huge underground economy created by the availability and employability of millions of illegal immigrants. Eliminate the underground economy, by enforcement, border control, punishment of employers, deportations -- perhaps with some limited amnesty for longtime residents -- and employers who regular hire illegals will be forced to pay more to attract those who otherwise would not take those jobs for the low wage previously paid.

Like welfare reform, get government out of the way, leave people without a government fix, artificially creating adverse incentives, and market forces will correct the problem, probably even more quickly then welfare reform in the 90's.

Mommy State solutions work against initiative, free markets, healthy economic development, personal and civic responsibility. They don't mean to, but that's what they do, by unintended consequences.


Between Science and Faith

Robin Burk links to a report in the Washington Post on a recently formed anti-religious think tank, and thereby touches off a great discussion over at Winds of Change.

The Post reports on the new think tank, formed by “a group of prominent scientists and advocates of strict church-state separation,” who attribute a growing lack of scientific awareness and rationality to American religious fundamentalism:
Concerned that the voice of science and secularism is growing ever fainter in the White House, on Capitol Hill and in culture, a group of prominent scientists and advocates of strict church-state separation yesterday announced formation of a Washington think tank designed to promote "rationalism" as the basis of public policy.

The brainchild of Paul Kurtz, founder of the Center for Inquiry-Transnational, the small public policy office will lobby and sometimes litigate on behalf of science-based decision making and against religion in government affairs.

The announcement was accompanied by release of a "Declaration in Defense of Science and Secularism," which bemoans what signers say is a growing lack of understanding of the nature of scientific inquiry and the value of a rational approach to life.

"This disdain for science is aggravated by the excessive influence of religious doctrine on our public policies," the declaration says. "We cannot hope to convince those in other countries of the dangers of religious fundamentalism when religious fundamentalists influence our policies at home."
I’m certainly not surprised that think tank speakers “were highly critical of Bush administration policies regarding stem cell research, global warming, abstinence-only sex education and the teaching of ‘intelligent design’.” They want me to believe they’re “non-partisan,” since “many Democrats were hostile to keeping religion out of public policy.” I’m sure they’re non-partisan, no less so than the ALCU or Planned Parenthood.

In comments to the WoC post, Joe Katzman thinks these scientists and secularists are declaring war on a potential ally:
As it is... they're going to do tremendous harm to their cause, and mine, by working to separate faith and reason at the very moment when both pillars of the Compact of Ages need to be seen as part of one great and overarching framework in the pursuit of different but important aspects of the real goal - truth.

Declaring jihad on religion as your approach to promoting science and rationalism is the act of a moron who has not looked at related experiments and considered the evidence. In other words, a non-rational actor.
In another comment, David Blue amplifies on Katzman, and points out the folly of forcing people to choose between science and faith:
People are all for science, till you till them to choose between science and heaven. Then they reject science.

It's foolish and harmful to make that the choice. It's bad to sour people on science. So this is a foolish and harmful project.

This is just more people trying to get everyone that doesn't think inhibited in participating in public life. It's intimidation by litigation, motivated by bigotry.

Meanwhile I don't see Christians engaged in any similar project to drive out everyone who doesn't think like them. Not at all.
I agree completely with Katzman and Blue. To blame declining math and science fluency in the US on religion, faith, or religionists is bizarre, counterproductive, and just plain wrong.

Liberal ideologies -- socialism, secularism, multiculturalism -- are more responsible for a greatly decreased emphasis on those studies or subject matters that lead naturally to the hard sciences and math.

Those who learn in America have been less and less likely to pursue Math and Science, because they've been spoon-fed, spoiled, and discouraged from hard learning. Rote memorization had a use, as did detailed and specific history.

Reading of great literature, including the classical canon in virtually all areas, exposed students to the great ideas and the legacy of Western Civilization. Latin and Greek fostered an understanding of grammer and linguistics.

As we've become more secular, and politicized the very methods of learning, surprise, we aren't learning anything of permanence, but rather boatloads of platitudes, emotions and attitudes that tell us nothing of importance.

Hence, every liberally educated boob thinks they know what the Constitution says or doesn't say by what "feels right," rather than the logical constructs of the document itself. Ignorant scolds act to remove books like Huck Finn from the library because it includes the word n****r without any awareness that Twain's book speaks eloquently about the condition and humanity of a primary African American character. They likewise want study of Washington or Jefferson diminished and distorted based on valuations that prevail today, but ignore serious discussion of arguments and debates then.

You see all around us what might have once been a shared "common floor" of education obliterated in favor of shared feelings. Almost worthless, and a smokescreen to hide the fact that most children do not learn how to learn, nor learn how to think. Rationality expires, killed with tears and an embrace.

Science needs to reinsert itself into public life, especially as reflected in public (and private) education. Likewise, congregations of faith should be encouraged to do likewise, as there are few aspects more meaningful to the human condition for the eternal questions, that all revolve around: Why? What's our purpose?

Science and Religion are more parallel means to an end, one can inform the other, but each must tend to its own first fruits, rather than waste time throwing brickbats at each other's perceived shortcomings. Funny how essential that perspective proves, no more for the individual, than to the society, or those societal institutions that connect us all.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006


Iran, Al Qaeda, and Etcetera

The Telegraph reports on Iranian influence on Al Qaeda, based on leaked intelligence:

Iran is seeking to take control of Osama bin Laden's al-Qa'eda terror network by encouraging it to promote officials known to be friendly to Teheran, The Daily Telegraph can reveal.

According to recent reports received by Western intelligence agencies, the Iranians are training senior al-Qa'eda operatives in Teheran to take over the organisation when bin Laden is no longer leader.

Somehow I think this is more merger than hostile takeover. Bottom line – literally at the bottom of the article – up front:

Any increase in Iran's influence over al-Qa'eda could have potentially devastating consequences for international security. Al-Qa'eda has made no secret of its desire to acquire weapons of mass destruction — including "dirty" nuclear bombs.

Intelligence experts believe that Iran will soon have the capacity to develop its own nuclear weapons and Teheran is also known to have developed a highly effective chemical weapons programme.

"We are looking at a Doomsday scenario here where al-Qa'eda finally fulfills its ultimate goal of acquiring weapons of mass destruction," said a senior Western intelligence official. "And unlike other terror groups, al-Qa'eda is perfectly willing to use them."

You’d almost think there’s an Axis of Evil or something, that we’re in some kind of Global War on Terror. Must be a Rovian plot, damn those Republicans for making us so fearful!

Bad timing, all this, for wayward Tony Blair, who picks this auspicious moment to suggest diplomacy with diplomacy with Syria and Iran:

The  first cracks in the united front over Iraq between Tony Blair and President Bush appeared last night as the Prime Minister offered Iran and Syria the prospect of dialogue over the future of Iraq and the Middle East.

Mr Blair said there could be a new “partnership” with Iran if it stopped supporting terrorism in Iraq and gave up its nuclear ambitions. Syria and Iran could choose partnership or isolation, he said.

The Prime Minister tried to exploit moves in Washington to rethink strategy on Iraq by holding out the prospect of engagement with two countries once dubbed by President Bush as part of the “axis of evil”. For the first time he also explicitly ruled out military action against Iran.

And, in words clearly directed at Mr Bush as he prepares for his final two years in power, Mr Blair called for the United States to lead a new drive towards peace in the Middle East, including peace in Palestine and the Lebanon, arguing that ultimately it was the only way to defeat al-Qaeda.

The only way to defeat them is to ignore their duplicity and do what they want us to do. Ah, the ever so nuanced “make them think we’re surrendering” ploy.

In direct contrast to Tony Blair’s speech The Guardian runs a report about how British Intelligence believes Al Qaeda is planning a nuclear attack on Britain.

Why would anybody need to worry about a nuclear Iran, who happens to control Al Qaeda? As I said, bad timing for the wayward Blair.

Speaking of wayward in another sense, Gregory Djerejian at Belgravia Dispatch hopefully views the Baker-Hamilton Commission as the last best hope for an acceptable outcome in Iraq.

That Djerejian can even make this argument, I would think, represents a “brightening” of his opinion on Iraq. Unfortunately, Djerejian tends to mistake the primary sources for his optimism, as he has likewise mistook the sources for his prior and lingering pessimism.

Here’s his optimistic assessment:

All the above aside, however, I will stress again in these cyber-pages that a dramatic move to regionalize our approach to the Iraq issue is desperately needed. Not only will this signal to the American public that ‘stay the course’ is over and done with, it will also convince skeptical European capitals and chanceries that we are truly moving in a new direction, not merely providing a fig-leaf for a sequenced withdrawal that does not constitute a convincing new plan (offering Europeans and others non-discriminatory access to reconstruction bids is also advisable on this score). In my view, and as I’ve previously stated, we should convene a major Iraq Contact Group consisting of the Americans, British, Germans, French, Russians and Chinese—with full participation by each of Iraq’s neighbors (Saudi Arabia, Iran, Syria, Jordan, Turkey, Kuwait), as well as other critical Arab and/or Islamic countries as observers to the Contact Group (Egypt and Morocco, for instance). To represent the U.S. at the Six-Plus-Six Contact Group we should appoint some of the very best envoys the country has at its disposal.

One critical priority must be addressing directly the wider regional tensions Iraq has exacerbated so that the conflict does not spill over to other countries. There might well be surprising areas of common interest among many of the regional Contact Group members on this score. A variety of goals will need to be tackled, and the diplomatic might of the entire key “Big Six” of the Contact Group must be marshaled to 1) build on Syria’s (still not convincing enough) efforts to make the Iraqi-Syrian border less porous, 2) continue to assist Riyadh in minimizing insurgent flow from Saudi Arabia into Iraq, 3) bolstering via diplomatic and other efforts countries facing growing religious radicalism from within like Jordan and, less noticed, Syria, 4) engage Iran full-bore on the Iraq agenda (to include as necessary other issues of mutual concern on a discrete case by case basis) to assure that the most radical elements in Teheran are dissuaded from providing arms and materiel to the worst of the Shi’a militias (lately groups splintering away from Moktada-al-Sadr), 5) dialogue more closely with Turkey to assure that her vital interests are not being imperiled by Kurdish resurgence, and 6) get Arab countries more involved generally with the situation in Iraq (greater Arab influence, in terms of bolstering the Sunni position, might well help serve to contain some of Iran’s growing influence, while also perhaps reducing the appeal of the ‘alliance of convenience’ between Syria and Iran, the former 70% Sunni, the latter a predominately Shi’a country). This is an impartial list, but the point is clear: a massive, full-scale international effort comprising all the great powers and the key regional actors must be convened to, around the clock, tackle the Iraq crisis.

Djerejian anticipates and confronts some of the more immediate objections I’d have with his premise that Syria and Iran might be “good faith” partners, in helping us finding solutions for Iraq and the region (emphasis mine):

Many readers ask: what will we gain from direct discussions with Syria and Iran? I can think of several actions, without limitation, that the Syrians could take if we extended various carrots to them (such as facilitating a return to negotations with the Israelis over the Golan Heights issue), including: 1) making the Syrian-Iraqi border less porous, 2) reducing Iraqi Baath money floating about Syrian banks and thus ultimately getting to insurgents, 3) cutting down on former deviationist-type Iraqi Baath who fled to Syria during Saddam's regime trying to cut a non-Saddamite, neo-Baath resurgence in Iraq, and 4) inducing Damascus to be more cooperative with Maliki's government so as to help stabilize the national government in Baghdad. As for the Iranians, it's no secret they are hedging their bets and, not only supporting Shi'a militias, but also Sunni insurgents. Similar inducements (mixed with the specter of punitive actions) could get the Iranians to reduce support to some of the groups causing us the worst problems, whether Sunni or Shi'a. Neither Damascus nor Teheran want a total meltdown in Iraq--which would also involve large refugee flows to both their countries--countries with their own somewhat disgruntled minorities (Azeris in Iran) or indeed majorities (Sunnis in Syria). In diplomacy, as in life, you talk to your opponents on occasion to get results. Hope and 'they know what to do' isn't a plan.

No, it’s not. And if one has to measure a plan by any sense of feasibility, neither is what Djerejian proposes here, though I give him high marks for the effort. Ultimately, he was probably better off in gloom, as what’s here is an Ivory Tower of dizzying heights.

Who are our enemies? If Iran is actively building up proxy forces against us, plotting terrorism and other escalations against the US, UK, and our allies, if non-democratic governments are supporting and fueling the anti-US sentiments, how do we possibly gain by doing the diplomatic dance to their music?

There’s a kind of naiveté, or if not naiveté exactly, a pronounced inability to recognize that the Diplomatic game being proposed is markedly different than that played in previous geopolitical times and places.

In the Cold War, we often negotiated with our enemies, with the USSR, China, or even some of their proxies, because there were measurable, achievable gains both sides could make be dealing. As Djerejian observes, “In diplomacy, as in life, you talk to your opponents on occasion to get results.”

This is no doubt true, but whether you choose to talk to your opponents should be based on your best estimate of what you’re likely to achieve, what they want, and what you’re willing to give away.

When the opponent seeks some gain over you, and you over him, and the realm is politics, no harm no foul, perhaps compromise is the better part of virtue.

When a predator seeks to fool his prey into compliance, in exchange for freedom or some concession, he may in reality be seeking a more compliant victim. Go along to get along may work with neighborhood bullies, or political opponents, with the murderer who seeks to kill you or the rapist set on ravage, anything short of fighting back could be fatal.

Jury’s out on several of Djerejian’s first six of the six plus six party of talks, namely the Russians and the Chinese. They don’t actively seek confrontation or terror against us, but they have in the past and their interests are not ours.

Move to the second tier of six plus six, and we see several who are more enemy than friend: Iran and Syria surely, but some would add Saudi Arabia as well.

Our enemies, whether Al Qaeda, their Iranian masters, Syrian, or other Islamic sponsors and supporters, view our willingness to negotiate as complete fulfillment of these phase of their master plans. Their goal is to fool us into complacency and compromise, so as to better position themselves for wreaking greater harm upon us in future.

We’re being played for fools. I’m prepared to accept that Democrats and their mainstream media allies in the Media War aren’t traitors in playing along with our enemies’ PR Campaigns, but I’m not prepared to excuse them for their obliviousness. It will get many more people killed, and many more enslaved, before events overtake even the Diplomats, and we begin another type of conversation. Would that it were otherwise, but a true Realism starts with whose holding the knife behind their back.

(Links via Memeorandum)

Others commenting:

Omar at Iraq the Model

Counterterrorism Blog

Pajamas Media

James Joyner at Outside the Beltway

Right Wing News

Bill Roggio

Dave Schuler at Outside the Beltway

Blue Crab Boulevard


Marxist Self-Outing

(Or, a tangled Webb)

Read a startling self-outing of Jim Webb, Marxist ideologue, and then this rebuttal from Dan Riehl.

First, a sample of Webb’s confession:

If it remains unchecked, this bifurcation of opportunities and advantages along class lines has the potential to bring a period of political unrest. Up to now, most American workers have simply been worried about their job prospects. Once they understand that there are (and were) clear alternatives to the policies that have dislocated careers and altered futures, they will demand more accountability from the leaders who have failed to protect their interests. The "Wal-Marting" of cheap consumer products brought in from places like China, and the easy money from low-interest home mortgage refinancing, have softened the blows in recent years. But the balance point is tipping in both cases, away from the consumer and away from our national interest.

Then contrast from Riehl:

Webb dismisses the possibility that perhaps our education system is failing - the reason so much tech-savvy talent ends up coming to America from abroad these days. And he mentions illegal immigrants at least three times without the slightest nod to facing that problem, seeing it perhaps as just a symptom of upper class oppression against his mythical back woods Scottish ancestors. Yes, this fellow seems more than just a bit myopic.

It should be the first order of business for the new Congress to begin addressing these divisions, and to work to bring true fairness back to economic life. Workers already understand this, as they see stagnant wages and disappearing jobs.

Fairness? What a wonderful characterization for re-distribution of wealth. The problem is, where does one begin and end once you begin slipping away from a market philosophy for labor. Will the government decide who should be paid what so we all end up in some G 1-12 system like the one Webb first experienced in the military?

Man, did the voters of Virginia know they were sending a Marxist to the Senate?

I struggled for a long time about my views on illegal immigration, resident worker programs, amnesty, and so on. I don’t know what the policy solutions are, but I know one thing.

Income disparity is driven by exorbitant valuations on the upper end, not tied to financial (or other work related) performance, and downward pressures on the lower end due to illegal immigration.

The solution for the first is publicity and a call for stockholders and other stakeholders to punish those who pay in excess of value.

The solution for the second is to enforce lawful immigration completely and eliminate opportunities to hire or be hired illegally. Consider some kind of guest worker or amnesty based on some reasonable criteria, but only if the first part – enforcement – is implemented with Rudy Giuliani like determination and efficiency. (As in NYC, no broken windows, or doors.)

As to “jobs no American wants,” of course not, not at the prevailing minimum or sub-minimum wages paid. As workers grow scarce, employers – sometimes the ones making those obscene incomes, you know – have to raise wages.

The Job Market is a market, after all.

That our newest Senator from Virginia thinks this is an opportunity for government intervention would be cause for optimism, if he knew where government could wisely intervene. It isn’t in legislating wages, or punishing Walmart, but it could be in enforcing immigration law and eliminating the underground economy that drives the income disparities Webb so laments.


Offensive Operation


The local Fox affiliate, WXXA Channel 23, this morning graciously invited me on for a live on air interview for an Iraqi Veterans perspective on the recent midterm elections and current events in Iraq.

The interview is posted online at the Daybreak website.

I didn’t manage to squeeze in my speculation that yesterday’s kidnapping might represent a new and creative development in the ongoing Media War waged by Al Qaeda, their sponsors and supporters, in and out of Iraq. Daily car bombs become routine, and generate less and less media attention. (Especially now that near term political objectives have been achieved, look for more attention in advance of the 2008 Presidential elections.)

Unless insurgents can keep up a high enough level of violence directed at US forces to reach some “highest level since XXX,” US body counts fade into the background for public relations (PR) purposes.

But I did frame my response in terms of the Media War, which Al Qaeda and their sponsors think has gone rather well for them, in terms of manipulating western mainstream media (MSM). I view these kinds of appearances as offensive operations in the Media War; I’ll leave viewers to decide how effective they prove.

UPDATE: Carl, a commenter here, suggests Iraqi Interior Ministry and criminal origins that, frankly, sounds more plausible than my speculations.

(Crossposted at MILBLOGS)

UPDATE: Linked over at Mudville Gazette, where Greyhawk commends my public speaking but alleges that he's prettier. Someday, the Old Grey One will reveal himself, and we shall see what we shall see.


A New Blog & Recollection

There’s a new blog in town, Forward Movement, authored by Jules Crittenden.

Jules regularly “columnizes” (I like that) Sundays at The Boston Herald; I’ve linked to several of his columns. He writes aggressively, and knowledgeably on military matters and Iraq, having first hand experience via a tour as an embed in Iraq.

I recently posted on Jules review of the Alessandro Barbero’s The Battle, “A New History” of the Battle of Waterloo, review courtesy of Norm Geras. A great introduction to Crittenden’s writing, although his kickoff post Swimming with Anvils reads well too (aided by a highly effective metaphor).

The object of Jules post is Tony Blair’s recent foray into the “new direction for Iraq” debate. Yesterday I observed that “wayward Tony Blair” showed poor timing – or perhaps was intentionally sandbagged by several leaks, on Iranian influence on Al Qaeda, and AQ plans for a nuclear attack on the UK.

Jules’ objections with Blair’s plan run along the same lines as mine, and summarily dismisses Blair’s two key points: negotiating with Iran and Syria when these countries are primary sponsors of Iraqi violence; and tying the Israel-Palestinian problem to Iraq:

Peace between Israel and the Palestinians has nothing to do with Iraq. Its pursuit is a goodwill gesture that theoretically gets everyone else in the region on your side and puts pressure on the recalcitrants, but in fact is unlikely to bring over anyone who wasn't there, or headed there anyway. That conflict has long been a convenient cause of grumbling in the Arab world, a bloody shirt to wave, but peace in Israel tomorrow would have no effect whatsoever on the ambitions of Iran, Syria, or their proxies in Iraq. The Israeli-Palestinian war existed for decades before our present difficulties in Iraq, and the trouble there will no doubt continue long after. Pinning hopes for peace in Iraq with peace in Israel makes as much sense as using an anvil as a swimming aid. At a minimum it complicates matters, and it is more likely to drag you down than help you get to shore. On the other hand, Lebanon and Israel might be aided by peace in Iraq, if that peace is achieved by neutering Syria and Iran as regional meddlers. That will not be achieved by talks unless those talks occur in concert with forceful action in Iraq and a credible threat of action against the regimes themselves.

You’d almost think the guy’s a MILBLOGGER, no? Hey, it’s like he’s embedding as a MILBLOGGER! We’ll have to see how the rest of the MILBLOGGERS take to that.

(Since starting this intro on Jules, he’s since alerted me to a somewhat less serious introductory post.)

Best of luck to Jules, he’s as pro-Victory as the best of us, and a serious critic of the critics. Can’t have enough of those, as we have all too many first order critics, and too few second order ones.

I’m surprised to discover that Jules is the City Editor at The Herald. Few people know that I did a three day try-out at the Herald when I returned to the States, coming off Active Duty in 1987. Turns out, the entire direction my whole life since then changed because of a well-intentioned secretary, a hard nosed City Editor, and my own youthful ignorance.

When I first enlisted Active Army, I did so with six years of Russian language studies in Junior High and High School. Finishing college, needing a job, having some added responsibilities for others, I saw the Army as being an employer who might value Russian language studies. They certainly saw me as a valuable recruit, and pointed me at Defense Language Institute (DLI) and Military Intelligence.

After a year and a half of training, and in the middle of a 3 year assignment in Augsburg, Germany, I enjoyed my job, living in Bavaria, analysis and report writing well enough, but knew I’d never make a career of the Army. (Kids, whatta they know.)

I sent out over 50 resumes, went to Army-hosted job fairs, I only got one lead before my ETS: a letter from the Managing Editor of the Boston Herald. I wish I remembered his name. He wrote that, when I was stateside and ready to go to work, to call his office and set up a standard three day try-out.

I did, which was a big surprise when I turned up, as only the Managing Editor and his secretary were aware of the offer, and he was out of town the week of my try-out. I was handed off to an obviously perturbed City Editor, who grumbled a bit and remarked that it sure was convenient of the Managing Editor to saddle him with me while the City Editor was busy covering both their jobs.

It didn’t go too well, although I think I made some headway by day three. Day one was watching everybody else in the press room working, checking out the edition goijng to press. Day two was a jump in the car and run across town with a photographer to check out the annual Clam Chowderfest and interview the chef responsible for that year’s winner. No byline on the one paragraph accompanying the photo.

Day three was more exciting. This day’s beat covered an ongoing eviction of a disabled tenant for failure to maintain a minimum in hygiene or apartment upkeep.

The stench was opaque, the apartment an absolute shambles, the wife of primary occupant, a nurse, completely disinterested from engaging police, landlady or reporters, let alone helping her partner, and the tenant himself grossly obese, showing signs of mental illness.

I interviewed the tenant, the police, tried to interview the quickly departing spouse, and the landlady, who gave me a very difficult tour of the apartment, pointing out an appalling amount of health and resident building code violations in great detail. Insects and vermin everywhere in evidence, the sofa bearing a distinct, outlined impression of its former occupant, who went for days without getting up from it.

True to what has become my pattern in such things, I wrote a “gotcha” story with a lead something like this:

A poor, disabled tenant, struggling to make ends meet, tossed to the street by a greedy and uncaring landlord, who couldn’t care less who difficult life is for this poor unfortunate. A sad and familiar story, right?

Not quite.

What followed was a recounting of the incredibly long and frustrating effort by the landlady to work with her tenant, and eventually, have him evicted.

I figured it was the perfect dog bites man story, and perhaps it was. I think I saw a change in the City Editor’s demeanor and attitude, as he told me, “good, but we can’t use it.”

When I first arrived, the Managing Editor’s secretary mistook my invitation from him as more of a VIP invite, and put me up at a hotel the paper used for more distinguished visitors. It was in Copley Place I think, very nice.

Later, when I was trying to find out what was customary for expenses, the secretary asked me where I was staying, and when she heard, said, “Live it up! Get room service. Everything’s covered.” You’d think I’d have had more sense, but I had 6 years of college followed by 4 ½ years in the Army, so I was unaccustomed to the business world. She also told me that getting the try out was the hard part, 9 out of 10 of try outs get hired.

I did exactly what she suggested.

Months later, I still hadn’t received the 3 days of pay, and was still working out from under debts, though finally employed. I contacted the paper, and got put through to that same City Editor.

“I was figuring you’d call if I didn’t pay you.” He then proceeded to curse me out for charging meals and a movie to the paper. Chagrined, I apologized and tried to explain. He would hear none of it. I quickly calculated that, even minus the charges he refused to pay, he still owed me over half of the pay, and it was enough to mean something to me. He grudgingly agreed to approve it.

In the course of this conversation, he made very clear that my actions had meant there was no way I was going to be offered the job, which I think back then paid about $25,000 a year in Boston, which would have been tough, job too, but I was desperate and thought that I’d be a journalist.

The job I ended up with took me on a path I’ve never regretted, I am starting my 20th year with my employer. If I found work in the Albany area, I never would have met Mrs. Manly, and I’d have missed all the blessings our marriage has borne.

If I’d been offered the job, I would have been in Boston, possibly found a career in journalism (!), who knows.

But it occurs to me, as I think back. Thanks, Mr. City Editor. I owe my life to you.

(Cross-posted at MILBLOGS.)

UPDATE: Greyhawk takes note of Jules new blog over at Mudville Gazette. Greyhawk notes that, being an Editor at the Boston Herald, Crittenden does us Bloggers one better, in that he can "self edit" as a professional!

That may make the Great Grey One dizzy, but makes sense to me. I've often remarked that I NEED a good editor, as I write and speak WAY too much for any one person. Unless it's personal, about emotions, with Mrs. Manly. For her, it's sometimes like pulling teeth. So she says.

Monday, November 13, 2006


Abandoning Principle

Michael Rubin, writing in the Journal Online, challenges those opposed to the Bush Administration’s efforts in Iraq, who would contrarily applaud the arrival of the Realists.

The subtext of Rubin’s piece could be stated as “be careful what you wish for,” or “beware the temptation to view your enemy’s enemy as your friend.” As much as some may call on neoconservatives to apologize, history is replete with the consequences of Realism.

The unexpected carnage of 9/11, being perhaps the most sensational. Rubin mentions another, in passing: “Saddam's career is a model of realist blowback.”

Rubin concludes with this rhetorical gem:

Both realism and progressivism have become misnomers. Realists deny reality, and embrace an ideology where talk is productive and governments are sincere. While 9/11 showed the consequences of chardonnay diplomacy, deal-cutting with dictators and a band-aid approach to national security, realists continue to discount the importance of adversaries' ideologies and the need for long-term strategies. And by embracing such realism, progressives sacrifice their core liberalism. Both may celebrate Mr. Rumsfeld's departure and the Baker-Hamilton recommendations, but at some point, it is fair to ask what are the lessons of history and what is the cost of abandoning principle.

That’s the world we now live in. Black is white, white is black, honor is dishonor and dishonor is honorable.

Abandoning principle may mean never having to say you’re sorry, but abandoning principles always involves a human cost, and not just for the souls of those who abandon.

Some dismiss such concerns as Vanity of vanities. If only politics, or politicians, suffered from the aftermath of such illogic. Tragically, the people of a Great and Noble nation, along with the hapless victims of prior Realisms, will pay the greater price in years ahead.

(Via Real Clear Politics)


Permanent Defeat

Josh Manchester (who blogs at Adventures of Chester), writing today at Tech Central Station, reacts to the James Carroll piece from last week in the Boston Globe. This was the Editorial, readers may remember, in which Carroll suggested that Americans might best look upon failure and defeat in Iraq as a necessary prescription for what ails. We lost our honor in going into Iraq, and it’s too late to worry about losing any more by turning tail, Carroll concluded.

I responded last week with considerable anger, thinking Carroll’s question an easy one “for any fool in Boston to ask, since the lives of many brave men and women In Iraq would be the objects of his answer.”

Carroll went further, admonishing his fellow Americans that, “can we acknowledge that there is something proper in the way that hubristic American power has been thwarted?”

Carroll says we lost our honor in how we got to Iraq, and have no more to lose, now. I’ll say again:

We did not lose our honor by acting on behalf of the United Nations Security Council and their 17 resolutions against Saddam Hussein, and acting to remove a brutal tyrant who actively supported and sponsored terrorism, and sought weapons of mass destruction.
We did not lose our honor in helping the Iraqi people conduct three successful elections with majority participation that greatly exceeded participation rates in any US elections.
We certainly have not lost our honor in the face of dishonest, manipulated, propaganda media campaigns launched by our sworn enemies and willingly, knowingly, and enthusiastically supported by “journalists” such as Carroll.

I quite agree with Manchester’s suggestion that defeat is what many Democrats have in mind:

It is difficult not to conclude that there is a class of well-intentioned individuals in the United States like him who don't merely feel as they do upon witnessing a defeat, but instead think this way all the time. Like it or not, this mentality of permanent defeat plays a large part in the Democratic Party.

At least until the expected golden era when Democrats send us to “winnable war” under the Powell doctrine, when no lives are lost and killing is done without us having to see any of it first hand, and only second hand through the eyes of an adoring media.

(Via Instapundit)

(Cross-posted at MILBLOGS)


War and the Winepress

(BUMPED up from weekend post)

Jules Crittenden of the Boston Herald has quickly gained my admiration, and indeed I view him as among the best of the very rare breed of military-minded journalists.

He alerted me to a review he was invited to write by Norm Geras, to speak of others I admire. Geras invited Crittenden to review Alessandro Barbero’s The Battle, “A New History” of the Battle of Waterloo.

Crittenden introduces his review with fond reminiscence of gatherings of a few close battle buddies, during which they much reflect on war. Crittenden speaks of war like wine, and refers to “bloody vintages.” Crittenden surely acknowledges the harshness and bitter costs of battle, but nevertheless notes that those who have lived through war are often fascinated by their experience, even as, by war, they are forever changed.

Here’s Crittenden:
There is one constant of war through time, and that is the base experience of it. Technical aspects may change, but the gut feelings remain the same, and in varying degrees of intensity are shared by everyone who has done this. They are conflicting feelings of horror, fear, commitment, despair, camaraderie, discipline, honour, fatalism, hilarity, sacrifice, bloodlust and the desire to prevail, elements of which combine to carry us through, carry us away or destroy us. For all those emotions, war remains a cold business of will, endurance and deftness. A balance of what is known, what will be found out, and luck.

Once you have experienced any of this, it never leaves you. You will recognize it in others, and you may find yourself studying it, at the risk of obsession. We honour the accomplishments and losses of those who fought when we look back at what they did, though I don't think that is most often why we do it. We are compelled to keep filling our glasses, and there are some bloody vintages that stand out among all others. One of them, one of the more exquisite fields of death on which history ever turned, endlessly worthy of mulling and picking apart, or just staring at in horrified fascination, has been brought back to the table. Waterloo.
Crittendon thereby introduces a fine review of Barbero’s The Battle. Some explanation, an excerpt of a first person account by a Sergeant of the 40th Foot, just enough to allow the palate of experience to savor…

And then this piece of self-reflection, by way of conclusion:
I think about the captain's radioed order to pour on speed for the assault as we came out of the desert at dawn, an armoured column charging a dug-in enemy of unknown strength at Hindiyah. The RPG ambush south of Baghdad, when we shouted and then begged the 25 mm gunner, strangely silent up in the turret, to 'just light up the fucking woods!' The memory of the life leaving a man's face, as a .50 caliber gunner mowed down Iraqi soldiers in front of the palaces in Baghdad. The strangers and the men I know who didn't make it home. A couple of weeks ago, when I had finished reading about Waterloo, my father, who is an old man now, told me his mother's great uncle had been there. This was a revelation. Name of Matthews, nothing else known. Except maybe the shared gut memory of combat, and a vague sense that all of this is somehow tied together.
Tied together indeed. Crittenden’s review, and his introductory vintner’s imagery, brought to mind a verse of The Battle Hymn of the Republic:

Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord:
He is trampling out the vintage where the grapes of wrath are stored;
He hath loosed the fateful lightning of His terrible swift sword:
His truth is marching on.
Many times since 9/11, Abraham Lincoln’s Second Inaugural Address comes to mind, and what I consider his powerful admonition about complacency, and national sins of omission as well as commission. Lincoln, more so than almost any figure of his time and place, bore the heavy mental and spiritual weight of the recognition that the national sin of slavery had born full fruit, with the carnage of the Civil War, its harvest.

I know that these kinds of moralizations can drive the secular among our former Loyal Opposition nuts, but that’s what strikes me: the sense that larger forces and greater issues ravage the national landscape, much as in the times of Lincoln.

“The Lord is trampling out the vintage where the grapes of wrath are stored.”

The theme comes from scripture, Revelations of the New Testament, wherein all are gathered for final judgment within the “great winepress of the wrath of God”:

14 Then I looked, and behold, a white cloud, and on the cloud sat One like the Son of Man, having on His head a golden crown, and in His hand a sharp sickle. 15 And another angel came out of the temple, crying with a loud voice to Him who sat on the cloud, “Thrust in Your sickle and reap, for the time has come for You[a] to reap, for the harvest of the earth is ripe.” 16 So He who sat on the cloud thrust in His sickle on the earth, and the earth was reaped.

Reaping the Grapes of Wrath

17 Then another angel came out of the temple which is in heaven, he also having a sharp sickle. 18 And another angel came out from the altar, who had power over fire, and he cried with a loud cry to him who had the sharp sickle, saying, “Thrust in your sharp sickle and gather the clusters of the vine of the earth, for her grapes are fully ripe.” 19 So the angel thrust his sickle into the earth and gathered the vine of the earth, and threw it into the great winepress of the wrath of God. 20 And the winepress was trampled outside the city, and blood came out of the winepress, up to the horses’ bridles, for one thousand six hundred furlongs. (Revelations 14:14-20)
War, especially modern War, surely represents the most terrible of the grapes of wrath. I happen to believe that we execute a Just War, in the moral sense, against the forces and supporters of international Islamic terrorism generally, and agents and contributors towards those forces, such as Saddam Hussein, in particular.

I think everything that happens is part of God’s plan, and God will often allow carnage and chaos to follow as the logical and expected consequence to brutality, evil action, oppression, and intentional betrayal of His instruction and the testimony of His saints.

That doesn’t make us Crusaders, we aren’t perfect, as people or as a nation, but I do believe the Nation of the United States, and our Governmental model and instance, was a gift that God allows Americans to share with the rest of a suffering world.

War is a brutal thing. Warriors must often do what no human being should ever have to do. For those who have tasted of the vintage of battle, there is yet an ability to recall, even alongside pain or fear or anger, the camaraderie, shared sacrifice, vivid fix of time and place and emotion. That shared experience ties the many generations of fighting men and women together.

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