Saturday, April 05, 2003

Joe Katzman on Winds of Change documents the effect of the "Where do they get young men like this?" phenomenon. I had the same impulse as a lot of others, to answer the question. It's true that these young men come from everywhere. Many aren't even citizens yet. They earn it with their service. (If that doesn't make you feel like a piker, I don't know what would.)
But it's also true that our military makes them, which prompts me to wonder why our public schools can't turn out more like them.

My religion teaches that we existed as spirits with God the Father before we came to this earth to receive bodies and to be tested, or maybe forged is a better word, by experiences we couldn't have in that realm. We believe that we are living in the last days leading up to the second coming of Christ and that he has restored the church to the earth as he established during his mortality. We also believe that the Father has sent certain spirits into mortality strategically as leaders and prophets, and that because of the growth of evil in the earth in this time, he has reserved some of his best to be born in order to have people here who can stand against evil and defeat it. Some have called them Saturday's Warriors, but I've always viewed their role as being intelligent and strong-willed enough to stand up to the pressures of the world and its temptations. Now I'm thinking that some of them are literal warriors as well.

I've known for a long time that my sons are superior to me. What I didn't know is that a transformation has been taking place below the radar, so to speak, in our armed forces. First, we changed to an all volunteer military. What we didn't realize, however, largely because our media haven't want to cover it, was the quality of people who volunteered and the technology and training being given to them.

This war was greeted with the same old disgust and jeering that we saw during Vietnam, but this time the protestors weren't our youth, but a bunch of aging jerks who seemed even more obnoxious and arrogant than ever before. They seemed driven to alienate the rest of the nation, and when questioned individually, pretty clueless.

Then we saw direct transmissions of what our troops were doing over there, amazingly different from the kind of "coverage" we were used to, from reporters living in hotels and accompanied by Iraqi minders. Surprise, these young men and women were bright and tough and disciplined. We were impressed, and "journalists" who would submit to minders and then tell us they were giving us the truth, were shown up by the "embeds" who were with the troops, and real reporters like Michael Kelly.

The sea change is evident when we compare Peter Arnett and the whiners at Centcom, Pentagon and White House press conferences to reporters like Greg Kelly and Rick Leventhal on Fox News.

The troops are now turning up sickening evidence of the truth about Saddam's regime that the opponents of war had refused to accept. As I type this, I''m viewing reports on a warehouse with 200 corpses of victims in Basrah executed with shots throught their temples, and a room with meathooks. Something tells me that the anti-war ship is sinking. Wake up the world for the conflict of justice.

So, where do they get young people like this? I guess my answer would be that God has been sending them to us, before we knew we needed them.

Victor Davis Hanson writes:
Wars disrupt the political landscape for generations. Changes sweep nations when their youth die in a manner impossible during peace. An isolationist United States became a world power after the defeat of Japan and Germany, buoyed by the confidence of millions of returning victorious veterans. Even today the pathologies of American society cannot be understood apart from the defeat in Vietnam, as an entire generation still views the world through the warped lenses of the 1960s. In some sense, postmodern quirky France today is explicable by the humiliation of 1940 and its colonial defeats to follow.

So, too, one of the most remarkable military campaigns in American military history will shake apart the world as few other events in the last 30 years.
As evidence, consider this quote from a veteran of the antiwar movement during the Vietnam era:
"We used to like to offend people," Martha Saxton, a professor of women's studies at Amherst, said as she discussed the faculty protest with students this week. "We loved being bad, in the sense that we were making a statement. Why is there no joy now?
I came of age back then, but I never felt anything but disgust for that kind of childishness.

Both of these quotes encapsulate my main impressions of things during this war. I've written how this war has been a rebirth of the patriotism I learned when I was a boy, and the images of our troops destroying an evil regime even as they help civilians, deliver food and water, deliver babies and fight for the helpless--those images give the lie to all of the liberal doctrines that seem to have dominated our nation for the past 30 years.

I know that the "war is never justified" line will continue to be repeated. It's an article of faith for the anti-American Chomskyites, after all. If the war ends in disaster or ends well, it will have been a confirmation to me that America has a purpose in this world and that we still have brave heroes like the "greatest" generation. I don't know how long this struggle with terrorism will continue, but I hope Hanson is right, that a tide has turned, at least for a while.

Friday, April 04, 2003

Mark Shields gave a really poor performance tonight on The Newshour starting by repeating a rumor that the administration is already drawing up plans for the invasion of Syria. Not that I would mind it if it were true, but it's pretty sleazy journalism. Then, when the subject of the criticisms of Rumsfeld came up, he became a lion, full of indignation over the scurrilous criticisms by conservatives of Bill Clinton's defense policies. Huh?

David Brooks, who generally is kind of sheepish, stood his ground, as he asserted that the officers in the Pentagon were using the media's desire to pull defeat from the jaws of victory by leaking all kinds of criticism of the war plan, motivated more by resentment over Rumsfelds transformation of the whole defense department, which emphasizes mobility and precision bombs and missiles over the kind of heavy ground armies which had been the core of our war doctrine for contronting the Soviets. It's all inside inside baseball to civilians like me, who think that 150,000 troops looks like a pretty big army. Especially when the Turks had forced a major part of them to be delayed getting to the theater of war. It set off the press like New York pigeons on bread crumbs, but everybody else wondered what they were talking about. When we figured it out, it just looked like petty insubordination and sour grapes from old Army colonels.Shields got his righteous indignation up and running after a minute or two, but he looked pretty pathetic and a little incoherent, saying something about General Myers lashing out at such criticism being shameful.To me, it's the officers who comment on conditions of anonymity who are shameful. Apparently the big knock on Rumsfeld is that he is seen as arrogant and unwilling to consider the opinions of the officers, but I am not impressed by that excuse, having been raised on images of John Wayne as Sergeant Stryker, you know the gruff leader hated by his men, until they learn how deeply he cares in the end. Who wants sensitive, handholding leaders in of our military? Or leaders who can't salute and go to work because they weren't treated with enough respect by civilian authorities? Isn't that what cost McArthur his job?

All in all, it's been a tough week for the anti-war folks. It won't necessarily continue that way, though. It all depends on whether the Saddamites are really as flimsy as they seem, or if they're setting us up for a huge WMD counterstrike.

This article (thanks BOTW) is astonishing in its inhumanity. If this is what passes for journailistic ethics, it's no wonder they're held in such low esteem. I've always been impressed by the pretensions of journalists who seem to claim Constitutional protection for themselves against criticism, as arrogate to themselves the sole role of personifying "the people's right to know," but interpreting that phrase to mean the people's right to know what we think they should know.

When one considers the life and example of Michael Kelly, this article takes on the feel of blasphemy, but then it's from the Boston Globe which also publishes the columns of James Carroll.

When I think of Boston, I think of John Adams and the birth of the American rebellion. What has happened to that heritage? Men without chests, indeed.

The Europeans call for U.N. Role. Oh, I hope they don't get it. The last thing Iraq needs is to replace Saddam with a bunch of IMF and UN bureaucrats. The Iraqis should carefully consider what the U.N. has done for the Palestinians, what the IMF has done for Turkey, and what paternalism has done for the American Indians, and send them packing.

I wouldn't have anything to do with the U.N. again until it is reformed, but I have no faith that it can be reformed in any way that wouldn't give the French too much influence in it. In many ways, it's really a model of French politics, weak, scheming and venal. We're already learning why France was so anxious to continue the U.N. inspections--they were cover for a shameful arms trade with a man who would turn on them and destroy them without a second thought. Chirac has, no doubt, enriched himself in all of this as well.

To hell with the U.N. It was a nice dream, but it failed to take human nature into account. It's had its last chance. It should never again be spoken of in the present tense. If the EU wants to adopt it, let them, but we shouldn't give it another penny.

There will be a world government someday, after the Second Coming, but remember that it will coincide with the cleansing of the earth by fire.

We've lost one of the good ones. The voices of reason are too few. I wonder what will become of the Atlantic. My subscription is up for renewal, but I don't think I could stand to read it if it became another Harper's. Nomination for new editor, David Brooks.

Thursday, April 03, 2003

InstaPundit links to this story, calling it "a clever and thoughful anti-war protest." I guess if you're determined to have an anti-war protest, this is better than the way they've been doing it in San Francisco, but I have a problem with the whole concept of protests like this. It's not that I begrudge anybody their right to march or speak out, it's just that they they simplify important issues into slogans. This protest was conducted by a " small anti-war group calling itself 'Think Different Anti-Censorship Collective''' This "affinity group," (is that anything like a "group") which is affliliated to a network called "Direct Action to Stop the War."

What I don't get is how this is thinking different. It's the same old thinking that my generation was doing when we were in our twenties, but it makes less sense now than it did then. At least in the 1970's it was possible to make a credible argument that we were wasting our time and blood in Vietnam, but that was then and this is now. All the old arguments have been made and found wanting.

The Think Different group says it is trying to "bring greater public awareness to the suffering of Iraqis due to the Persian Gulf War and subsequent international sanctions." Do we really need more awareness than we've had from the past two weeks that the Iraqis are suffering? The problem is not awareness, but the explanation they offer. All of the problems of the Iraqis aren't due to our kicking Saddam out of Kuwait. They just aren't. It could be argued that we're to blame for the sufferings caused by Saddam because we had the chance to destroy his power 12 years ago and we didn't or because we encouraged the Kurds and Shi'ites to rise up against him, and when they did, we didn't abandoned them to the tender mercies of his regime, but to blame the sanctions just shows a deliberate denseness or extreme lack of serious thought. We allowed Iraq to sell oil through the U.N. to raise money for food and medicine for this people, but where did the money go? Saddam stole it and build up his military power and monuments to his own greatness. The suffering of the Iraqi people is due to the fact that they've been ruled by a fascist, totalitarian regime for the past 30 years. We tried other means, but after 12 years, we have recognized that the only way to help the Iraqis is to rid them of Saddam Hussein and his Ba'ath Party. And, sadly, it's not going to happen through diplomacy or new elections. He is every bit as insane as Adolf Hitler, and he sees brutality as the key to his power and survival, although the present tense might not be appropriate for him any longer. degrading his army, but we underestimated his depravity. We've tried working throught the U.N. for the past twelve years, but he had bought off two of our most important (we thought) allies. We've been attacked repeatedly by apostate Muslims during those 12 years, and we tried ignoring them and, ahem, protesting. All it did was embolden them, and what we got was 9/11.

I'm sure that you can pull out your copy of Noam Chomsky's screeds and tell us how we deserve all this for our sins, but that just doesn't resonate with most Americans, because it denies every other source of evil in the world. To make his claims work, you have to believe that our system is evil and exploits everybody else. That is just not something people who can see the benefits of freedom and democracy in their own living rooms and driveways are going to take seriously.

Then there's the argument that war never solved anything. I would counter that it solved the Nazis and the Japanese empire in Asia. Did it deliver a world free of agression, pain and suffering? No. But, considering how the countries we have conquered are doing today, you could make a pretty good argument that conquering more countries would be better for them in the long run. Just ask the Kurds and the Shi'ites in Iraq, whether war has accomplished anything for them. Ask them again in a week or two.

I'm taking a lot of space to say that reality is not as simple as your placards and slogans, but it isn't something that one can put on a sign or a tee shirt. The point is that demonstrating doesn't really demonstrate anything, except that you oppose current policy. But in arguments of this kind, that isn't enough. You need debates, not marches. Protesting isn't enough. You have to make a persuasive case. That's because people can vote, and your basic arguments are being disproved graphically on all of our media right now.

If you were what I think of as clever and thoughtful, you wouldn't be wasting your time

"I must go to Iraq. This is my good dream."

There are so many touching and inspriring stories coming out of this war. This is one of the best. It's about some Iraqi expatriates who are comprise the Free Iraqi Forces chosen and trained to go in with coalition troops. They were trained at an air base in Taszar, Hungary, presumably to serve as liaisons to Iraqi civilians and as ambassadors of democracy. Following their training they were interviewed by U. S. government public affairs people. The answers are a great rebuttal to those who think that Arabs can't handle democracy, and a welcome reassurance of what America is about, especially when we think of the spoiled arrogant anti-war protesters and privileged snots like Susan Sarandon and Tim Robbins.
Here are some clips:
In fact my mission started 26 years ago, I never lay down, I never sleep. But the training within the last four weeks has just bringed that dream back to reality. And the closer I come to the mission, the more I get fired up and the more I get emotional.
. . .
"I must go to Iraq," said al Saedy. "This is my good dream."
. . .
Interviewer: So tell me about the training. Was it a surprise to you or was it what you expected?

Hamdy: It's a little above my expectation. I mean, I felt that civilized nations cared about their people and their countries and their nations only. But I see an American army and all these units and working for U.S. to go for the civil military operation and all of our training is for the duty of taking care of civilians in Iraq. And that was a little above my expectation. But there is nations that care about other nations' civilians more than their own government, like Saddam's government who kill a lot, like their own civilians, use chemical weapons and mass destruction weapon against our people, in 1988 and 1991, after the uprising as well.

Interviewer: How did you tell your family--what did you tell your family?

David: Well, actually before I volunteered I set me and my wife, and we discussed it and she knows it's a noble job. And when my country called me, I'm also your citizen, and when my chief and commander want me to serve I am happy to do it and willing to do it as long as it takes.

Interviewer: Have you had any prior military experience?

David: No I don't have no military experience.

Interviewer: Tell me about the training--was it what you expected?

David: Well, I am overwhelmed, I am overwhelmed by these beautiful young men and womens who left their loved ones in the United States and they came here to train me, I feel so small (hand gesture for smallness) compared to what they're doing.
(Italics are mine)

This afternoon I heard a call to Hugh Hewitt from Joseph Williams whose son, a Marine, was killed in Iraq. It still brings tears to remember it. But then I read these stories on Best of the Web:

Daughters of Freedom

The Associated Press reports on one of the first babies born in free Iraq:
Wednesday, U.S. forces spotted a 20-year-old Iraqi woman in labor in a pickup truck. The woman's family had been displaced from another city and was living in tents in Nasiriyah.

"I got the ambulance and sent her to the battalion aid station and delivered a healthy baby girl and named her America. It was a pretty cool way to start the day," said Navy Hospitalman First Class Kyle Morris, 39, of San Clemente, Calif.
Another girl was born at a Marine camp near Nasiriyah, Reuters reports:
The [mother], Jamila Katham, approached a U.S. military ambulance in a patrol in the Nassiriya area of southern Iraq early on Wednesday to seek help, U.S. Marine surgeons said. . . .

Surgeons Lieutenant Sean Stroup and Lieutenant Michael Humble delivered her of a healthy six-pound girl only 20 minutes after the ambulance had brought her to a U.S. Marine camp.

The baby, Katham's first child, has been named Rogenia. "I think they wanted an American-sounding name," Stroup said.
I think it might give some comfort to grieving parents to know that two little girls might never have to know about Saddam, except as a scary fairytale, due in part to the sacrifice of some young people from a country far away from them.

But don't mind me, I'm just a sentimental fool. I've been getting kind of angry lately about all the cheap shots in the media lately toward Donald Rumsfeld, General Franks, and the President. One of the first things the Savior taught when he appeared to his other sheep in this hemisphere after his resurrection, was "he that hath the spirit of contention is not of me, but is of the devil, who is the father of contention, . . ." So much for all of my rants. The thought of lost sons and new babies kind of makes the rest of it unimportant.

Thank the Lord our president know better than to waste his time on fruitless arguments with his critics. I hope I can remember America and Rogenia along with the names of our fallen.

John Fund questions the desirability of "diversity" on campus.
As argued by the President of the University of Michigan, diversity sounds like something that is necessary for a good education, like a good library. I wondered if he wasn't suggesting that the reason we need diversity is more for the benefit of the wel-qualified students than for the "diverse" ones.

A day or two ago, I heard one of Michigan's lawyers argue to the Supreme Court that for diversity, you have to have a critical mass of minorities so that they won't feel isolated or lonely. What kind of diversity is that? It seems that this theory would intensify the feeling among minorities that they're only there for the benefit of those who didn't need affirmative action to get in. If these students feel lonely and isolated, and need others of their own race to overcome that, don't these Affirmative Action students hang together and basically become a clique? The theory is that they will mix in with the rest of the student body and diverse cultures will enrich each other. But the way the arguments are presented, they sound more like quotas. Can one really say that one's education was better because there were black or hispanic students who never only marginally mixed with other racial groups? I don't know.

These days, I'm not all that convinced that an educationf from a lot the elite schools isn't as valuable as the contacts and network one builds and the mystique of their names on one's resume. The real action is in high school. That's where you really learn how to learn, develop study habits, etc. I would rather see us put our money and effort into improving the effectiveness of these rather than granting favors to those we've already failed in public schools.

Wednesday, April 02, 2003

Here's a letter published in the Deseret News in Salt Lake City this morning:
Wednesday, April 2, 2003

Rumsfeld is failing us

It was sadly ironic that the Dan Thomasson opinion column carried the headline "Don't flinch when warfare produces casualties" on the same day the combat death of Marine Staff Sgt. James Cawley [a Utahn] was announced. I fear that this is but one of many deaths made inevitable by the egotistical decision of Donald Rumsfeld to conduct this war on the cheap. As a consequence, he's at least two divisions short of what it will take to carry the battle to Baghdad and to secure the supply lines upon which an assault on the Iraqi army will depend.

The current civilian leadership at the Department of Defense has been hostile beyond comprehension to the uniformed services, particularly the Army and its chief of staff. Rumsfeld's recent canard that the current war plan is "Tommy Franks' plan" is shameful, because it's the plan Rumsfeld shaped and insisted upon. Unfortunately, it's too thin to provide adequate protection.

David Irvine


I don't know if this guy is retired military or just a Democrat, but heres my response rant:
It's two weeks into this war. Our troops have Baghdad encircled, and our air power is reducing Saddam's Republican Guard to rubble. Our casualties have come as much from accidents and mistakes as from enemy fire, and are incredibly low, yet "Rumsfeld has failed us!" "The War plan is a failure!"

Only if you believe Iraqi State TV.

It seems to me that warfare has changed fundamentally between the first Gulf War and today, but a lot of the Army officers, retired and in the Pentagon, haven't figured it out. They're still resentful that we aren't trying to use the methods developed to fight the USSR in Eastern Europe. They're badmouthing the Secretary of Defense on the condition that their names not be used, unless of course they're getting retirement pay and have launched new careers in journalism as military experts, paid to reassure the left that warfare is still a surefire quagmire. Just like the Soviets in Afghanistan. Now we're moving through Iraq like Patton through France, and we're hearing more criticism of the civilian leadership of the Department of Defense, than we did in 8 years of Bill Clinton's brilliant leadership. You remember him, the brilliant civilian leader who brought us "Blackhawk Down"? But then he didn't kill the Crusader artillery system, the Army's pet multi-billion project that would have really made the difference, if we needed to drive the Warsaw Pact out of Germany.

Everybody's entitled to his own opinion, but this doesn't look like any failure I've ever seen. It couldn't be that the people running this war have learned something and aren't still trying to fight the last one, could it?

I respect everybody who has served this country, but it tarnishes that service when they criticize and snipe at those who are doing it now. I recently heard Colonel David Hackworth call Secretary Rumsfeld an idiot on a radio program. Ralph Peters a noted military analyst, has been criticizing this war plan for having enough troops, as well, although the last time I heard him, he acknowledged that the troops were doing a superb job, and "pulling Donald Rumsfeld's bacon out of the fire." So much for military discipline. It's a good thing for him he's retired and can't be relieved of his command.

Donald Rumsfeld and Tommy Franks are doing a great job. They know their troops, and they know what their plan is, and none of the "analysts" has seen it. So maybe they should hold their fire until they see the whole thing, and quit giving out quotes for French and Arab TV.

As General McArthur said, "Old soldiers never die, they just fade away." Maybe it's a good thing.

I know it's too long and rambling to get published, but this kind of sadsacking is really getting on my nerves, as it is, apparently, on General Myers'. If we'd moved in and the Rebublican Guard had put Saddam before a firing squad and surrendered en masse and delivered all their WMD the first day, these jerks would be complaining that the plan was overkill, or that the strategy wasn't "sound military doctrine"--anything to keep from giving credit to Rumsfeld, or - shudder! - George W. Bush. We've still got columnists, academics and members of Congress wishing publicly that we'll lose this thing. It's also too soon to say that we won't lose a lot of young people to some ambush with gas or nukes. While the other three fourths of us are holding our breath and praying that this will hold up and we can deliver these poor people from the horror of the past thirty years. I hope that when this thing is over, we won't have to hear from any of these slimeballs again.

Spam headlines of the day:
1. "GULF WAR II: the Art market in turmoil" - I notice it has a small "En Francais" link, too. This must be what's really bugging all those people in Hollywood and New York.

2. "I want to meet you for a night of sin" - I wonder if Homer Simpson got one of these.

This link was on Best of the Web. "Where do they get young men like this?" We grown them, and train them.

I was thinking the other day that our public schools could learn a lot about education from the Pentagon and the LDS Missionary Training Centers. It's a good reason to reinstate mandatory service for citizenship.

More of Ralph Peters' criticism of Rumsfeld:
"No military professional looking at this objectively could argue that we had an adequate number of troops on the ground," said retired Army Lt. Col. Ralph Peters, a military analyst and author. "If Tommy Franks had had a free hand, this is not the plan he would have come up with. There wasn't a debate -- there was an argument. And the civilians [in Rumsfeld's office] had the upper hand."

To an extent, Peters said, Rumsfeld is paying a price for the way he has treated the Army, which -- rightly or wrongly -- has come to believe that the defense secretary is an air power advocate who is disdainful of heavy armored forces as relics of the past. And to an extent, Peters and others say, Rumsfeld is paying a price for what many in uniform perceive to be his lack of trust in their judgment.

But more than anything else, Peters said, Rumsfeld has become a lightning rod for criticism because he has not been frank with the public about the flawed assumptions and level of force that was on hand at the start of the war as a result.

"Rumsfeld is obviously brilliant, talented and driven, but his vanity is such that he can never admit when he's wrong," Peters said. "The war is going wonderfully. The performance is just remarkable by any standards. But it's not going according to plan."
It all boils down to "these damned civilians keep meddling in military matters." But so far, Rumsfeld's ideas seem to be working well, in spite of the unexpected refusal of Turkey to allow us to move our troops through its territory into Northern Iraq and a day or two of sandstorm.

I think that Peters and those like him have hitched their wagons to the wrong stars. Rumsfeld has highly popular briefings. Peters' sources have to comment "on condition of anonymity." What kind of military judgment tells Peters and his fellow critics that they can win this fight?

Tuesday, April 01, 2003

Instapundit has a long post, mostly quotes, about the failure of the "peace" movement. It seems pretty simple to me: we've heard it all before, but we can see this war on TV and it isn't Vietnam.

We see our men passing out food and water, rescuing people being shot at by Saddam's death squads and the actual connections between Saddam's regime and terrorism. Then we see the anti-war marchers, and they look like a bunch of jerks. The "news" commentators who ignore the heroics of our troops and whine endlessly about whether the war plan was flawed, whether Rumsfeld is hated by his troops, or whether we have enough men in Iraq. From here though, it looks like we've got plenty of men, and they're doing a great job. I've heard Ralph Peters a couple of times criticizing Rumsfeld, and I have the impression that he's out of touch with the new military, or his contacts in the Pentagon are disgruntled malcontents who can't let go of their own pet programs. Last night, he told Brit Hume that our troops are pulling Rumsfeld bacon out of the fire, but it just could be that Rumsfeld, Myers, Franks and the rest knew our troops and their weapons better than Peters does. Rumsfeld is hardly a novice when it comes to studying warfare, and he and those who have embraced his vision now have two wars pretty well in the bag. Maybe it's time for our enemies and the retired military chattering classes to reassess their situation.

How do you continue to editorialize against the war without sounding like you don't support our troops?

Why, this way, of course. I wonder how the NYTimes viewed General McArthur's criticisms of President Truman.

Where's the news in this? We heard all about the criticism of Rumsfeld within the Pentagon when he cancelled the Crusader artillery system. Is it big news that there are some disgruntled officers in the troops? Is the Times really that much in favor of spending MORE money on this war, or even increasing the defense budget? Or is it just trying to paint the war as some kind of failure in spite of the facts on the ground? They didn't want this war in the first place, but now we don't have enough troops? If they thought this was taking too long, one must wonder how long it would have taken to get a few of the Crusaders on line in the theater, not to mention how the unfortunate name of the cannon would have played on Al Jazeera and other Arab television stations.

So much for the newspaper of record and the rest of the media who follow its lead.

I'm watching Rumsfeld and Myers jousting with the press again about whether the war plan is a failure or not. Last night, Mara Liasson complained that the Pentagon is responding too much to press criticism, but this is a press conference, and when the only questions you get are about whose plan this was, and whether Rumsfeld is distancing himself from it, and whether there is a big split in the Pentagon over Rumsfeld's policies, and yadda, yadda, yadda, what else can they talk about?
What is wrong with the press? They seem to have forgotten that we're in a war over there and focus only on Pentagon gossip. In twelve days, we have taken control of the majority of the country, with very few casualties, yet all they can talk about is the plan? How about covering the news?

Myers got a little irritable and his comment that "reporters have to be fair and balanced," will no doubt soon show up in Fox News Channel promos.

Apparently, Geraldo may yet lose his embedded status for drawing a sketch in the sand which might have been a violation of the rules. MSNBC reported that he had been yanked yesterday just before he filed a new report from the 101st Airborn. "So we had to fire Peter Arnett. FNC has Geraldo Rivera." Sheesh!

Fred Barnes said that if Rivera is getting in the way, they should yank him, and it wouldn't hurt my feelings either, but Geraldo's faux pas is not nearly equivalent to going on Iraqi state TV and opining that the American's war plan has failed and they are in disarray.

Also, it turns out that the "martyr" who blew himself up and killed four marines, was induced to do so by threats against his family. The seven women who were killed by our troops when they drove into a checkpoint without stopping, were coerced, according to Shi'ite leaders.

Saddam was supposed to give a speech to the nation today, but didn't show. Some underling came on and read an hysterical call to war, "Kill, Kill, Kill!", supposedly from Saddam. I'm guessing that wherever Bin Laden is, Saddam is there too.

Thoughts after reading Bill Whittle's latest essay:
I was moved when I read this. Then I read the comments, and I was moved to anger by some of them, the sneering, superior ones. I started a smoldering retort but never posted it. The pseudointellectual elite love it when they make you mad.

It occurred to me later what offended me so much about these responses. I had been reading it it yesterday in C. S. Lewis' The Abolition of Man in the first chapter, Men Without Chests.
It's about the malpractice of teaching, but it hits on what astounds me about the anti-war position.

"There are two men to whom we offer in vain a false leading article on patriotism and honour: one is a coward, the other is the honourable and patriotic man," writes Lewis. He is talking about the difference between good and bad literature. By trying to show what bad and bathetic writing is, educators have given the impression that all emotions are not to be trusted.

This is the money quote from Samuel Johnson: 'That man is little to be envied, whose patriotism would not gain force upon the plain of Marathon, or whose piety would not grow warmer among the ruins of Iona." One might add "surveying the scene of a Civil War battlefield."

Those who don't understand the feelings of reverence for men like Chamberlain, and can only respond with the hackneyed slogans and distortions of anti-war demonstrators, are men without chests.

They can say they despise Saddam Hussein and feel sympathy for the Iraqi people, but their position on this issue would leave him in power to continue to murder them and steal their patrimony, and reward the perfidy of the Russians and French for violating U.N. sanctions. They don't really feel anything they are claiming, only resentment for those who are proud of our troops and our country for trying to deliver an oppressed people from a 30 years nightmare.

Monday, March 31, 2003

Why does this story choke me up? Maybe it's the fact that these people are refugees, but are willing to share their pittance with Americans soldiers. Maybe we really do represent hope to these people.

I was born just following WWII, in 1948 and all my life I've had this feeling that Americans were like my aunts and uncles who went without and bought warbonds, saved aluminum foil, and all the rest, and one uncle who disappeared in the middle of the Pacific, and another who was captured in the Phillipines, marched in the Bataan Death March, and lived to come home. But all I ever saw in our media as I grew up was the leftist view of our troops, especially during Vietnam.

Now I'm seeing these young GIs riding to the rescue of oppressed people. standing up to an evil force in the world, and I'm thinking "Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me." It's good to feel like an American again.

Back to Stanley Kurtz's article. I don't find any real evidence for his main point, not enough troops. It seems to boil down to a single sentence, "Clearly, our military planners underestimated the likelihood and effectiveness of resistance from Saddam's irregular loyalists." If this is an error, it is hardly of such consequence as to form the basis for Kurtz's following broad argument against Donald Rumsfeld's program of transformation of the military.

The problem seems to be that the war plan calls for a rolling deployment, under which new troops continue to enter the theater in stages and also that the unexpected refusal of Turkey to allow us to stage troops there has resulted in our having to send the Fourth Infantry around through the Suez Canal and up through Kuwait. How this leads to the main criticism of transformation, which emphasizes more high tech armaments and fewer soldiers, remains beyond me. I've been hearing this since the Crusader artillery system was scrapped by Rumsfeld on the grounds that it is too heavy to move rapidly to where it is needed. That decision drew a lot of criticism from within the Pentagon and from retired officers.

I'm no more of a military theorist than Kurtz is, and I don't have his sources, but it seems to me that this is really insider baseball and essentially a matter of opinion. So I have a few questions:

1. Can we man a larger military without a draft, and could we count on a draft to supply personnel of sufficient quality to man the higher tech equipment?

2. How much more difficult would it have been to launch this attack with say 200,000 more troops on the ground?

3. Given that a large percentage of our casualties so far have come from traffic accidents and friendly fire, wouldn't having more troops there create even more such casualties, and wouldn't that be likely to sour support at home? From my limited perspective, it seems that the casualties so far haven't created revulsion here at home, but I have to say that if the accidental casualties were higher, that might not be the case.

4. We're being spread more thinly all the time, and will probably have to keep troops in Afghanistan and other places as the war against terrorism continues, seems to suggest that we may have to cover greater areas with few troops in the future. How quickly can we add and train them?

Stanley Kurtz argues that we went into battle with too few troops. I'll have to mull this over, but my first reaction is that for people who don't have access to the war plan to make this kind of charge seems premature, especially in light of the results we've been seeing.

Jonah Goldberg asks, "Are th Arabs really this stupid?" regarding the anti-American propaganda in the Middle East which charges that the war in Iraq is genocide.

It's the same question I used to have about the Democrats who defended Bill Clinton in l'affaire Monica. Sadly, I've concluded that, yes, they are.

As for the Arabs, I don't think they're so much stupid as ignorant. They've been taught from childhood that we are infidels and the fact that we support Israel doesn't help. Beyond that, it's hard to say what individuals really think in these countries, because the mere allegation of being a supporter of Israel and now the U.S. is enough to get you lynched.

I guess the better question, given our continued "friendship" with Saudi Arabia and our billions in aid to Egypt is "Are Americans really this stupid?"

What this really tells us about Arabs is how little they understand America, because if we were really trying to carry out systematic genocide anywhere, as many of our anti-war crowd like to claim, the support for the war here would evaporate overnight. The typical Arab probably can't imagine the public anywhere having that kind of influence on government.
Update: Quinn Hillyer agrees.

Students at Muskingum College in New Concord, Ohio were prevented from hanging American flags on school buildings to show support for our troops.
But Vice President of the Administration Ransom Clark feared the flags could cause problems. "I was afraid that a major display of American flags would represent a signal if done by the college to those people who are opposing the war that we're coming down against them," he said.
Shouldn't the anti-war folks be defending freedom of speech? I wonder how much federal and state tax money Muskingum College collects.

The Fox News Channel is reporting prominently on Peter Arnett's woes, but nothing about Geraldo's having been expelled from his embedment (is that a word?) with the troops for reporting classified information.

Greg Kelly and Rick Leventhal are doing a great job at showing us what life is like with the troops. Kelly was slightly injured in a firefight over a bridge in Iraq, reported this morning He looks like he had his bell rung and a slight shrapnel wound on his face from a mortar round.

Geraldo just reported in from a town on the outskirts of Baghdad, still with the 101st Airborn.

Other channels are reporting that he got in trouble for sketching a map in the sand. He says NBC has been spreading lies about him, calling MSNBC a "pathetic network." So unless he's got some doubles running around out there, the rumors of Geraldo's being yanked are untrue.

A local scavenger driving a pickup truck was stopped by a British checkpoint near Basrah, who found an empty ammo carrier among his other finds.
The driver showed the British troops where he found the container, an abandoned army base with the biggest weapons find of the war. The arsenal stored in at least seven buildings on the compound included hundreds of small arms, grenade launchers and machine guns, as well as crates of tank shells and mortars, stacked floor-to-ceiling in several cement buildings.

Howard Kurtz has an interesting piece about the meta-issue of the war coverage sub-text that the war is going badly. As I noted before, the press has jumped on problems with Fedayeen Saddam as evidence that the war is bogging down, then when that looks silly, it wants to blame the administration for raising expectations.

We news consumers are left wondering. I never felt that my expectations were raised or lowered, because it's all suspense anyhow. We mostly worry about our troops and the dangers of WMD amid the fog of war, and the fog of spin isn't really helping much.

I don't know whether we have too few troops in Iraq, but I'm definitely getting the impression that we've got too many correspondents there, especially at Centcom. It would be less annoying if they networks and print media just got press releases instead of jousting with the generals day after day, trying to find a story behind the story.

Sunday, March 30, 2003

Yet another dumb question: How can Saddam present medals to a dead bomber and increase his rank, unless Saddam is dead too?

Another dumb question:

Why do we care about whether Turkey, Syria or Saudi Arabia give us permission to fly through their airspace? Turkey looks like it's really out of our way, and what's Syria going to do, send more dozens of volunteers for martyrdom? The people at the Eastern Bastion of Liberal Hubris have already denounced the fact that Bush intends to go after all states who support terrorism (Syria? Iran?). It's a Mr. Bill moment out there. But it makes sense to me that having a little Shock and Awe in Damascus wouldn't be a bad thing.

Acronym hot off the presses: SMEZ, Small Missile Engagement Zone, the area around Baghdad into which the Republican Guard is being squeezed.

Reminds me of the favorite cuss word on Red Dwarf, "Smeg!"