This Assyrian Christian minister and pacifist has changed his mind about the war in Iraq, after travelling there. He recounts this strange odyssey. A Good read. (Via InstaPundit)
It being a light newsday, I mention--with regret--that Tacoma, the bottle-nosed dolphin, went AWOL on his first operation to snoop out mines.
There is a report today that two Special Operations soldiers were killed in an ambush near Gereshk, Afghanistan. Gereshk is about 70 miles west of Kandahar, the birthplace of the Taliban.
I think this article from the New York Times is the best reporting I have read on the war. It probably makes the best case for the essential justice of our cause.
This is the talk French Foreign Minister de Villepin gave on March 27th in London. (You can access it in print or on audio.) I only heard part of the speech on a radio newscast and I was impressed with the apparent seriousness of it. It seemed to me that he lays out a strategic design that France should follow in this unipolar (post 9-11)world, and implicitly, what the U.S. should be doing. I mean to study it and reflect on it in the coming weeks (but I dont have time now). But I did want to get it out to you. By the way, I believe it was after this speech, in response to a question, where de Villepin wouldnt answer the question who he prefers should win this war, the coalition or Iraq. That response is not in the written transcript, although it may be on the audio.
Here is the audio of Victor Davis Hansons talk at the Ashbrook Center at lunch today. He spoke for about forty minutes and then questions for another twenty. Very good.
This is a report of a "sit-in" at Columbia University, and here is what one of them said:
"The only true heroes are those who find ways that help defeat the U.S. military," Nicholas De Genova, assistant professor of anthropology at Columbia University told the audience at Low Library Wednesday night. "I personally would like to see a million Mogadishus." I have no comment.
This blogger seems to have a good detailed map of the war in Iraq, which he seems to update regularly. Of course, I cant vouch for its accuracy, but it seems pretty good to me. He uses standard NATO symbology for all units. He also blogs on more general questions of the war, and asks some interesting questions, e.g., why we have not yet seen a confirmed report of an Iraqi T-72 tank being destroyed.
A long and interesting article by James Kitfield on the logistics of the Iraq War and (in the middle, “Modern Day Blitzkrieg”) on how the plan was put together. He reports that the civilians changed it in important ways.
Michael O’Hanlon has an articlein the New York Times that is a just appreciation of the current situation. It is superior to the one by Hanson that Peter cited below for several reasons. First, it points out that doom and gloom now is in large part the responsibility of people in the administration or associated with it who argued in the past that the war would be a cakewalk. Second, while attacking pundits for inaccuracy and hysteria, Hanson throws around historical analogies that are themselves misleading. Third, O’Hanlon actually knows something about how modern militaries, as opposed to the Athenians, actually fight. In this connection, he has some interesting things to say about how we will fight the battle of Baghdad.
Here is Jack Shaefer in Slate ridiculing Johnny Apple’s NY Times column of today: praising Saddam, we are in for another "quagmire", (although the word isn’t used), we have bitten off more than we can chew, etc. (You can follow the links to Apple.) He says: "Ridiculing Apple is easy—he’s a large, slow target that bleeds profusely when hit. But many others in the press are guilty of Appleism, writing whatever story is required to fit the arc of the wartime news cycle."
John Keegan considers the following question in this op-ed: "How much more difficult are the allies making this war for themselves by their determination to spare the Iraqi civilian population as much suffering as is humanly possible?"
The Agonist has posted this picture of an M1 tank hit by friendly fire; none were hurt, and it is still functional. Impressive.
I know golf isnt really a sport or anything like that and that it is played by a bunch of pencilnecks, but I have always liked Tiger Woods for his virtue. Here is another example of it--a statement supporting the war--from his web site. Thank you Mr. Woods!
Victor Davis Hanson considers how "our vulture pundits" are misreading the progress of the war. They regurgitate rumor and buzz "which are usually refuted by the next minute’s events." He makes many good points, including the massive point that these people don’t know their history. He goes through what is going on and how we are doing. In short we are doing very well. Must read.
Heres some cheering news:
Hackers Put U.S. Flag on Al-Jazeera Site
WASHINGTON (AP) - Hackers wreaked electronic havoc Thursday on Internet sites operated by the Arab television network Al-Jazeera, diverting Web surfers to pornography and to a page with a U.S. flag and the message ``Let Freedom Ring. Hackers impersonating an Al-Jazeera employee tricked one of the Internets most popular Web addressing companies, Network Solutions Inc., into making technical changes that effectively turned over temporary control of the networks Arabic and English Web sites.
Now: Cant we drop one of those e-bombs on Al-Jezeera? Its just a few bloacks away from CentComn in Qatar.
The Washington Post has an article that reports some of Rumsfeld’s thoughts about how we might deal with Baghdad.
This article, by a former DoD official, argues that the Allies will have certain advantages in the battle of Baghdad.
Over the last several years, The RAND corporation has been studying urban combat. As the battle of Baghdad looms, this work may be of interest. It can be found at this web site. The site lists the work of the principal author of RAND’s urban warfare research, so it contains some other things he has written.
It is a singular injustice that the passing of Daniel Patrick Moynihan should occur when the nation is rightly fixed upon a great wartime struggle in Iraq, for Moynihan’s passing marks the end of an era and therefore deserves more attention and reflection.
Pat Moynihan might well be thought of as the Forrest Gump of modern politics. He was seemingly in the middle of every major political controversy for 35 years, but like Forrest Gump, many critics doubted whether he fully understood what was going on around him. Yet few could claim a more prescient vision. He predicted back in 1965 that the increase of single-mother households and illegitimacy would bring social disaster in our cities. He told Richard Nixon in 1969 that women’s rights would be the emerging issue of the 1970s. He was one of only two people—the other was Ronald Reagan—who predicted in the early 1980s that the Soviet Union was headed the way of the Dodo bird. “The defining event of the decade,” he wrote in 1980, “might well be the breakup of the Soviet Union.”
A product of New Deal liberalism, Moynihan remained to his last day a champion of government activism, which is why conservatives didn’t embrace him. Yet his intellectual honesty about liberalism’s failures also led many liberals—such as the supposedly “New Democrats” of the Clinton era—to keep him at arm’s length as well. Moynihan’s thoughtful reflections about the limitations of politics and social policy are evidence that we can indeed learn from mistakes. “In the early 1960s in Washington,” Moynihan reflected, “we thought we could do anything. . . The central psychological proposition of liberalism is that for every problem there is a solution.” Early on Moynihan came to understand the “fatal flaw” of liberalism: “Wishing so many things so,” he wrote 30 years ago, “we all too readily come to think them not only possible, which they very likely are, but also near at hand, which is seldom the case.”
Why “seldom the case”? Because human nature and human society are more complicated and less susceptible to easy government remedies than our optimistic liberalism had led us to believe. But when the news started coming in during the mid-1960s that our problems were not going to be easily solved with another billion dollar program, many liberals reacted badly, often lashing out at the messenger. “Liberalism faltered when it turned out it could not cope with truth,” Moynihan observed.
At the same time liberalism began to experience its harsh limits in the 1960s, the rising generational revolt spawned a new political culture, apocalyptic in tone, “that rewarded the articulation of moral purpose more than the achievement of practical good.” To the morally pure mind of the protest left in the 1960s, if you expressed any doubt about immediately ending poverty, racism, and war, then you were a Bad Person. This was when the “politics of personal destruction” began. Liberalism came, in Moynihan’s words, to have “the ability to immediately dissolve every statement of fact into a question of motive.” Moynihan himself was one of the first victims of this new political culture, even though he has never stopped trying to refine social policy to serve liberal ends.
In practical everyday terms this not only means that you will demonize your opponents in the most personal way (“Hey, hey, LBJ, how many kids did you kill today?”), but it also rules out compromise with the opposition. The Clintons brought this attitude with them to Washington. Clinton could have had comprehensive health care reform in 1994 if he had been willing to compromise with Republicans in Congress. But Clinton wouldn’t even compromise with Moynihan, who was then chairman of the Senate Finance Committee. In Clinton’s very first week in office, a senior White House aide was quoted in Time magazine about Moynihan: “He’s not one of us . . . we’ll roll right over him if we have to.”
"He’s not one of us." The phrase speaks volumes. The Clintons and their circle represent the kind of post-sixties liberalism that Moynihan battled—mostly unsuccessfully—for 30 years. Recall Hillary’s memorable speech about “the politics of meaning,” in which she casually spoke of how we can “redefine who we are as human beings,” which will require “remaking the American way of politics, government, and indeed life.” Just like that. In a time when we can’t even get the public schools to work, Hillary thinks we can change human nature itself if we simply will it to be changed. And if you cast a jaundiced eye toward Hillary’s exalted moral purpose, get ready to be demonized as “not one of us.” Although Moynihan, being a good party man, publicly supported Hillary to be his successor, privately he despised the Clintons. This makes it all the more galling that it was Hillary who announced Moynihan’s death on the Senate floor.
Old New Deal liberals will surely shed a tear at Moynihan’s passing, for it marks the final passing of a once-great creed.
Fritz Wenzel of The Toledo Blade writes a revealing article on Ohio Demo Party Chairman Dennis White and his attempt to try to organize his party and to find some candidates for future elections in this GOP state.
"’Republicans are good people. They just have bad ideals with terrible consequences.’
Mr. White said those consequences now can be seen ’when you go to the gas station. You will see them in a few weeks when the body bags start coming home. You will see more and more jobs leave the state.’" A hope for body bags is a Heck of a way to run a party!
This Heritage Foundation short Research piece takes advantage of the Bush-Blair meeting to consider the developments in European-American relations. Pretty good.
NPR quotes a battlefield speech by Lt Col Tim Collins of the Royal Irish battle group.
This Sky News report of a large Iraqi column moving out of Basra is worth reading because one, its shows how successful the Brits have been in getting them out of the city (their rules of engagement are a little looser than ours; they act like the commandoes that they are) and, two, how stupid the Iraqis can be. They are sitting ducks.
This AP dispatch speaks for itself. "Vandals in southwest Bordeaux torched a replica of the Statue of Liberty and cracked the pedestal of a plaque honoring victims of the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks." You tread upon my pateince, France.
I wish I knew more than I know about how the war is going. There is too much information coming in to digest, too much detail; and yet it is hardly ever placed in a strategic whole. In part this is due to poor press reports, and in part it is due to poor analysis; there are very few excellent analysts on TV. In short, there isn’t enough good information (oddly!) out there.
Our government says that all is well. I think this is true because, one, I trust our guys more than I do the press (or our enemies) and two, because from what little real information I have I think all is well. The Turks have not invaded. Israel hasn’t been attacked. The oil fields are secured. Weapons of mass destruction haven’t been used. There are signs that Shiites are beginning to revolt and once they are confident that we will win, they will revolt with gusto. We have taken over most of the country in less than a week. Our lossess are minimal (much less than the first six days of the Gulf War, both men and materiel). We have lost twenty men (eight due to accidents), have killed a few thousand Iraqis, and thousands have deserted, many killing their officers trying to stop them.
Our makeshift military hospitals are treating more Iraqi soldiers and civilians than they are allied troops. Supply convoys have continued to move despite the terrfible sand storm.
Furthermore, we seem to be following an intelligent plan, one that continues to surprise our enemies; all those associated with the plan are saying that we have not yet been surprised by anything that our enemy has done. For those that say that we will run into huge problems because the Fedayeen are stronger than we thought--that they will fight us in the cities and we will take huge lossess that we will not be able to sustain--I say that is not so. Besides, we are killing off the regular army and blowing up their equipment; they can’t be replaced. If we end up fighting them in the cities (as the Brits are already doing in Basra), we will be able to take them with (I hope and pray) only minimal losses. And, we can bring in more troops, if necessary. What can I say about our troops and their courage? Churchill: "What a glory shines on the brave and true!" May God Bless them.
It is said that you can tell a lot about a man by listening to his wife, what she thinks about, etc. Well, if thats true than we now know a lot more about Senator Max Baucus (D-Montana) than we did before. Keep in mind that he made a big point of associating himself with Bush in his re-election campaign last year. This is worth reading, its from the Washington Post. You will not like her. By the way, she taught anthropology at Harvard.
This report from The London Times explains how the French are gloating over any misfortune that happens to the "Anglo-Saxons" in the war. This fully reveals their small souls, I must say. And it is something that they are going to regret.
This is a brief eyewitness report on a vicious battle that the 7th Cavalry found itself in; they were ambushed. We may have taken heavy losses and it is estimated that 750 Iraqis died.
This is a story from the Boston Globe about some Afghans recently released from detention in Guantanamo. Although there are minor criticisms ("they took our Koran away, threw them in a pile, and a guard sat on them") most say they were very well treated. Example:
"The conditions were even better than our homes. We were given three meals a day -- eggs in the morning and meat twice a day; facilities to wash, and if we didnt wash, theyd wash us; and there was even entertainment with video games, said Sirajuddin, 24, a taxi driver from Kandahar, the birthplace of the Taliban."
Tony Blankley writes a nice essay on how the American personality "might be characterized as an easygoing, sentimental, fair-minded ruthlessness." Our easygoing and sentimental way is temporary because it assumes fair-mindedness. When that is not repirocated, we become ruthless. He explains how this has worked itself out in, for example, our recent UN diplomacy, and how this will work itself out in the current war. He is right. Fair-minded ruthlessness is about to start.
InstPundit brought this to my attention and American honor demands that I pass it on. Read it and ask yourself why the press places so much emphasis on the possibility that a missile may not have hit its intended target and there may have been some civilian casualties rather than on the many stories of this sort. These Americans were trying to help children in Afghanistan.
"Look. These are the coffins of six members of the United States Air Force. They did not die as a result of enemy fire. They died while attempting to transport Afghani children to a US medical facility for treatment. That is what the United States does. To all those who say, ’...but what about Afghanistan? We haven’t fixed it yet...’ and other such whining, I say: screw you. Six brave airmen died trying to make life better for children and their families who were brutalized under a tyrannical theocratic regime. Show me any other nation that does this as a matter of routine, 99% of the time without any press or media attention. The United States is, quite simply, good and noble...and these six airmen are proof of same."
Greetings from I-71. Blogging at 70 mph is not for the faint of heart. I am on my way down to Cincinnati, where my Constitutional Law class will be viewing an en banc panel of the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals. Ill attempt to give you updates from the road.
Peter drew our attention to this recent article from the New York Times Magazine about Sayyid Qutb, the philosopher of Islamic terrorism. For those who want to go further into this issue, I suggest Roxanne L. Euben, "Comparative Political Theory: An Islamic Fundamentalist Critique of Rationalism," The Journal of Politics 59(February 1997). (Sorry, I have no electronic link to this article.) This is a serious academic article and therefore unintentionally funny in many ways and loaded with jargon but Euben explains in detail why Qutb is a nihilist, as Peter claimed. Qutb turned against reason because he understood reason to be cut off from or antagonistic to the "transcendent foundations" of existence and thus a threat to Islam and all that was good and decent in human life. What Qutb and Euben (except for one enigmatic footnote; see below) fail to ask about is whether modern reason (which Qutb knew about through his study of modern Western thought) is the same as ancient reason. In a truly academic way, I will end this blog by saying that the crux of the issue (the nature of reason, the fate of Islam and of the world) rests on what we make of Euben’s footnote 49.
Here is what Mac Owens thinks about our war plan. He concludes:
"One of Patton’s favorite quotations was from Frederick the Great: ’L’audace, l’audace, toujours l’audace.’ War rarely goes according to a script. Friction and the fog of uncertainty have a way of waylaying even the best plan, well executed. I can almost guarantee that there will be further setbacks as the coalition closes on Baghdad. But I think that both Patton and Frederick would approve of Central Command’s plan and its execution to this point."
This resolution was introduced in the Kentucky Senate yesterday (to a standing ovation) and should be passing sometime today. In brief, it says this: "Condemn France for their inaction in the conflict against Iraq." I like it.
The Strategy Page has a few thoughts on how the war is going, including observations on we haven’t taken out their TV. And the BBC is reporting that Iraq troops are shelling an insurrection in the city of Basra. The Brits are in the fight, and it is intensifying. And here is an Iraqi dissidents view (via InstaPundit).
David Warren certainly thinks so. Note the emphasis he puts on the fact that we are winning even though we are fighting under "the most exacting moral rules ever devised for warfare."
This piece from CBS is on Saddam’s Fedayeen ("those ready to sacrifice themselves for Saddam"). These are the guys that are "putting up stiff resistance and trying to prevent regular army soldiers from surrendering.
Reports from the front suggest members of the Fedayeen may have organized battlefield ruses, like posing as civilians or faking surrender, to draw U.S. and British forces into traps. Such scenes played out in An Nasiriyah and Umm Qasr, where the advancing troops suffered their first major casualties."
Here is Ralph Peters explaining why we are winning big. Worth a serious read, especially considering the down in the mouth media reports of yesterday. The essay may be said to revolve around the saying "Fortune favors the bold." And this lists the aircraft losses in the Gulf War. You will note that we lost nineteen aircraft by day six of the Gulf War (all fixed wing) while we have lost five during the first six days of the Iraq War (one to friendly fire, three to accidents, and one to enemy fire); only one was a fixed wing aircraft, the British Tornado we shot down by mistake. (Thanks to Instapundit)
"Gutierrez died in battle about 4 p.m. Friday, struck by enemy fire as he fought alongside his fellow Marines near the southern Iraqi city of Umm al Qasr," says The Los Angeles Times story on this Marine, originally from Guatemala. This smart and quiet young man made his way to the U.S., was helped by people he didn’t know, then joined the Marines because, as one friend said, he "wanted to give the United States what the United States gave to him. He came with nothing. This country gave him everything." Semper Fi, Lance Cpl. Jose Gutierrez, American.
Poland has admitted to a combat role in Iraq (on our side!) after its elite commando unit posed for a Reuters photograph.
I know there have been many terrorists in the last century, but this piece from Sunday’s New York Times Magazine (which I read on one of my flights!) by Paul Berman is very much worth reading. It is about Sayyid Qutb, the Karl Marx of the Islamists. If you ever doubted their nihilism, that doubt should leave you now. Forget the coffee, make it a good Kentucky whisky, maybe Knob Creek. But read it you must.
I have been at a very fine conference on the theme of citizenship and was busy as a beaver for two full days (plus two awful days of travel), hence no blogs from me until now. I’ll start pontificating on the war soon enough, for now I bring to your attention a poetic piece by Victor Davis Hanson over at NRO. Please note the other good articles on the war at NRO, including Mac Owens on the embedded reporters issue.
Shouldnt someone drop a JDAM on Iraqi TV (and perhaps al Jeezera while were at it)?
A couple of comments on the war, made in full acknowledgement that it is very difficult to judge what is going on and any comments may be overtaken by events before they are posted..
The kind of campaign the US is running not unprecedented. It is like the effort to oust Noriega from Panama. In that case too, we attacked from several directions without a lot of preparatory air strikes and tried to paralyze the leadership, which was our target. During the 1990s, some forward thinkers in the military argued that Panama would be the model for future warfare and not Desert Storm. The difference between Panama and Iraq II is that we now have better tools to conduct such a campaign. So far, for example, many fewer civilians have been killed in Iraq than in Panama, although obviously the fight for Baghdad lies ahead. We should hope there is another difference. In Panama, we did not plan sufficiently for what would happen when the fighting stopped. The result was a disaster: lots of looting and disarray, which significantly slowed Panama’s recovery.
More Iraqis are fighting than some people thought would fight and we have not yet encountered the more elite and cohesive units. If it is true, as Rumsfeld said Saturday, that the Iraqi leadership has lost control of the country, this resistance is significant. Two things are different from the first Iraq war. First, most of the surrenders in that case, as far as I know, followed B-52 bombings. Iraqi soldiers in adjacent positions were informed through leaflets that if they did not surrender they would be next. Tens of thousands surrendered. One might call this a shock and awe campaign. We have not done this yet in Iraq II. The other thing that is different is that the surrenders occurred last time in Kuwait. This time Iraqis are fighting in Iraq. Some Iraqis appear to be defending their homeland. Perhaps surrenders will increase as the intensity of the campaign grows. The Republican guard formations in front of Baghdad could be targets for the kind of bombing that occurred in Iraq I.
In response to Eric Claeys: First, I think we should turn Iraq over to the UN as soon as possible. The longer we stay, the more it looks like colonization. The problem is that UN administration is not likely to be effective, at least initially. The bad publicity from this will add to our difficulties in the Middle East and the Muslim world. It is also the case, that the UN might be hesitant to take over a problem they did not authorize us to create. France is reportedly uncooperative about post-war activities, since approving them would, it argues, condone our invasion.
Second, we should do our best to keep the Turks out of Iraq because Kurds and Turks are likely to start fighting each other. The Kurds say they want an autonomous region within a federal Iraq. The Turks don’t want them to have this. Even less do they want the Kurds to have what they Kurds really want, independence. The Turk-Kurd problem is just one case of the tribal/ethnic complexities that may make post-Saddam Iraq a difficult place.