Wednesday, December 29, 2004

Millenium War

My dad handed me this article, which appeared in the Weekly Standard. It's by an Army reserve officer named Austin Bay, and raises some very good points, I think.

Bay discusses the term "End State," juxtaposing it with the newspeak term "exit strategy." The end state is the set of conditions that need to be true in order to declare victory. He says that talk of "exit strategy" is philosophically irresponsible, and that there are four acceptable end states in the "Millenium War" (he, like myself, despises the phrase "War on Terror," and not only because Bush pronounces "Terror" funny):

What are the acceptable End States in Iraq? In an essay he wrote for the Wall Street Journal in August, Iraq's interim prime minister Iyad Allawi identified three keys to success in Iraq: (1) security and the rule of law, (2) a prosperous economy, and (3) an "inclusive, collaborative" political system. To achieve it will take years of low-level warfare and continuing security assistance from the United States even after the New Iraq begins to manage its own domestic security. No administration of whatever political stripe should think otherwise.

Another acceptable End State would be what a friend called "a too strong, bulldog Iraq." Don't dismiss the notion out of hand. Here are the attributes: "New Iraq" decides to rearm for offensive capability--and the French or Russians sell it weapons. Angry at perceived Syrian, Iranian, or Saudi interference, a brave new Iraqi government turns to regional assertiveness as a way of solidifying domestic support. The United States could live with this End State, but it would seriously frustrate attempts to spur political evolution in Saudi Arabia and Iran.

A far less acceptable End State would be a "gentle" dictatorship in Iraq, an authoritarian regime that did not threaten the region but held Iraq together by force and smashed civil opposition in the name of domestic security. This would be an ideological defeat for the United States, the defeat salved if this New Iraq were an effective counterterror partner in the region. Early Coalition withdrawal, whatever the reason, would make this End State more likely.

The last acceptable End State, but one that further frustrates long-term American goals, is the oft-debated tripartite Iraq, with Kurdistan in the north, Shia-stan in the south, and Baath-istan in the Sunni Triangle and Al Anbar Province. This would be a dangerous mosaic, but for the sake of oil revenues the Baathists would have to police al Qaeda. Kurds and Shia areas would also destroy al Qaedaites.

If for no other reason, read the article for its remarkably good prose and vivid imagery. Personally, I think Bay has hit the proverbial nail on its proverbial head.


Sunday, December 26, 2004

VDH defends Rumsfeld... successfully

A little while back, on my tBlog site, I went on a drunken rant inspired by Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld’s comments during a Q&A with deployed troops in Iraq – you know, the ones about going to war with the army you have, not the army you wish for.

Well, I did think that the specialist who asked the question about scavenging armor from Iraqi junkyards deserved a better answer, but in retrospect, Rumsfeld’s response was actually pretty accurate.

Victor Davis Hanson provides some historical context for our supposed unpreparedness in this article.

VDH also points out what should be painfully obvious: the fact that the United States’ campaigns in both Afghanistan and Iraq have been successful, that despite charges to the contrary, our troops are wearing armor for the first time in U.S. history, and that fully 95 percent of our wounded now survive – many of whom find themselves in the Medical Holding Company on Fort Knox.

I found this paragraph rather insightful, since many of the war’s – and the administration’s – critics often refuse to supply context for their allegations:

Out of the ashes of September 11, a workable war exegesis emerged because of students of war like Don Rumsfeld: Terrorists do not operate alone, but only through the aid of rogue states; Islamicists hate us for who we are, not the alleged grievances outlined in successive and always-metamorphosing loony fatwas; the temper of bin Laden's infomercials hinges only on how bad he is doing; and multilateralism is not necessarily moral, but often an amoral excuse either to do nothing or to do bad — ask the U.N. that watched Rwanda and the Balkans die or the dozens of profiteering nations who in concert robbed Iraq and enriched Saddam.

At any rate, I’ll apologize again for the dearth of posts. I’m at home, enjoying the holidays with the family for the first time in two years, so that’s been the priority. If anyone’s still stopping by to read this, thanks for sticking with me.


Wednesday, December 22, 2004

Victims of Mosul attack arrive in Germany

Just about every channel has been providing live feeds from Rammstein Air Base in Germany, showing wounded soldiers being carried on stretchers out of a C-141 transport and loaded onto buses in driving snow.

Glenn Reynolds of Instapundit has linked to this article by The Belmont Club: The Lidless Eye. It's a pretty fantastic article by Wretchard, and it discusses the insurgency's ability to attack "off-limits" targets with what Wretchard calls "public relations impunity."

Which is exactly what happens on a daily basis. A buddy of mine at Fort Knox, who's spent the better part of the last four years in the Middle East (including multiple deployments to Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, and Iraq as part of 3rd COSCOM) told me that mortar attacks are frequent enough that soldiers who've been in the area for a while can immediately distinguish between the sound of an outgoing and an incoming round.

Last Christmas, he was at a field hospital with a bad fever, he said, and while he was lying in his cot, he could hear mortars hitting inside the perimeter, some not far from the walls of the tent he was in.

So when I hear insurgents described as Iraq's "minutemen" by certain people, I've got to agree with Wretchard:

The enemy chose the weakest point he could find to attack; exploited the known limitations of the American response; and understood that he was to all intents and purposes exempted from the condemnation attendant to attacking the wounded and medical personnel. The chaplain and the medical personnel knew this and did not mill around expecting the Geneva Convention to protect them from those who have never heard of it, except as it applies to their own convenience. They knew the true face of the enemy; a face which bore no resemblance to the heroic countenance often presented by the media to the world.

It'll be interesting to see which side history remembers the "war crimes" taking place on.


Sunday, December 19, 2004

TIME magazine names George W. Bush "Person of the Year"

Not a huge surprise.

"[E]ven those who may not have voted for him will acknowledge that this is one of the more influential presidents of the last 50 years," said managing editor Jim Kelly.

TIME also gave PowerLine the nod as the magazine's first-ever "Blog of the Year." Congrats to Hindrocket, The Big Trunk, and Deacon.


Michael Jackson determined to inspire more Michael Jackson jokes

People have been cracking jokes about Michael Jackson since I was in third grade. And now, since he’s set to go on trial early next year, facing child molestation charges, what does the former "King of Pop" do?

He throws a Christmas party for 200 kids at his "Neverland Ranch," that’s what.

What in God’s name could this guy be thinking? "Hmm, I really think people have been making fewer Michael Jackson jokes lately, so I need to throw some fuel on the fire"?

Maybe, "Since I’m being charged with child molestation, I should try to make a case for being completely and utterly insane?"

I’m lost on this one.


Monday, December 13, 2004

News today - who comes up with this?

I apologize for the distinct lack of activity here. The Army has really been getting me down lately, and I’ve been short on motivation for doing anything other than having a couple beers and going to sleep once I get home from work.

However, all is not lost, and I plan on getting back on the horse in short order. The trouble is, it’s tough to know where to start. It’s tough to know what issue to attack first when’s headlines for the day include a bombing in the Baghdad Green Zone (Eight are dead), an attack of the "Beckham Nativity" scene, and the latest on the Golden Globes.

What really baffles me is the order of precedence. I mean, following the lead story of Michael Leavitt taking the Secretary of Health and Human Services position (following his stint as EPA director), we’ve got eight stories slugged under the "More News" header. Of the eight, five are entertainment-related (including the two mentioned above) and one is about hybrids planned by GM/Daimler-Chrysler.

The two remaining are the suicide bombing in Baghdad and a piece on an Israeli helicopter attack on two suspected weapons plants in Gaza.

It really blows my mind to think that the question of "who’s going to get the Golden Globe" ranks nearly as high as "what’s going on in Iraq" in the minds of the newsmakers.

Tuesday, December 07, 2004


I've been tooling around with a commentary for this week's Turret on the BALCO/Giambi/Bonds/steroids issue, and the word that Sen. John McCain has become involved has complicated matters significantly.

First off, it's clear that Major League Baseball needs to clean up its collective act. I'm trying to find where the resistance to stricter steroids-testing procedures by the Leagues are coming from, and apart from the rather obvious corner of players who use them, I can't understand why League big-shots are making things difficult.

It was an easy call to make that the Yankees would sack Jason Giambi after his BALCO testimony leaked to the San Francisco Chronicle, but now what of Barry Bonds? Even if he can maintain the few years he has left in his career, his record-breakings will now be meaningless, even if he does eventually hit more home runs than anyone before.

But he'll never be Babe Ruth or Henry Aaron, because he cheated -- that much seems clear.

I don't think that it's McCain who needs to come sweeping in to the rescue though. Baseball shouldn't be federalized - it's a thing to itself, and we should be able to trust the Leagues, owners, and unions to keep it independent of government.

It's the same way with film. Government doesn't step in on the film industry because of the institution of the Motion Pictures Association of America, the film industry's self-governing agency. They make sure decency is protected (well, at least labelled), and the Fed stays out of the game.

Which is exactly what needs to happen with baseball. Critics will decry McCain, saying that it's unconstitutional for the government to demand urine or blood samples from private citizens without a court order, which is true. I'm no lawyer, but I can't think of a constitutional way to write a law that applies only to baseball players.

But the league owners and unions, if they want their sport to survive this fiasco, are perfectly capable of purging the system of steroids. Commissioner Bud Selig wants the majors to adopt the minor leagues' screening system, which would mean suspensions for first-time offenders. Players would be tested year-round, instead of just during the regular season.

Seems like that's the least they could do. Anything to prevent Federal intervention in baseball sounds like a good idea to me.


Monday, December 06, 2004

On second thought...

A couple stunned reactions to my last post led me to reread, rethink, and erase it. I realized that I didn't make the point I initially set out to make, and that really I was feeding off the anger I felt at the article by Jensen.

The point, which was lost in the shuffle, was that the fact that the U.S. has a financial interest in the Middle East generally and Iraq specifically does not invalidate the other reasons for the war. I've seen people from both the supporting and opposing sides of the war issue either brush the issue aside as "conspiracy theorist" or trump it up into an enormous "moral outrage," and it was those sentiments I was reacting to.

I don't have a lot of time at the moment, but I'll try to get into what I see as the "real issues" in an upcoming post. Thanks for reading, hope you weren't too awfully freaked out.


Friday, December 03, 2004

A compelling indictment of Annan

Wretchard has posted a good analysis of the predictable defense of Kofi Annan over at The Belmont Club.

Seems that the L.A. Times' James Traub thinks that criticism of Annan from conservatives is hypocritical given their defense of Donald Rumsfeld after the Abu Graib prison scandal.

But Wretchard notes that Annan's involvement in the oil-for-food scandal is a little different than the prison scandal going on during Rumsfeld's watch as SecDef:

[T]he Secretary General's failure "to sound the alarm over Iraqi swindling and for a slow and grudging reaction when the allegations first surfaced earlier this year" is not primarily about thievery and corruption, although it is about that: it was mainly about flouting international law; it was about subverting the will of the Security Council. It was about Kofi Annan becoming a law unto himself.

It's a good article, check it out.


Tuesday, November 30, 2004

This week's Sports Commentary

I've been reading Hunter S. Thompson's "The Proud Highway," and it's reinspired my love of the job, even at this menial Army stage of the game.

Anyway, yesterday I wrote this column, which is set to appear in Thursday's edition of The Turret.

Scandals! Brawls! Partial nudity!

I hate to add more ink to the tremendous puddle that’s already been spilled over all these controversies rocking the sports world, but seriously, when material comes this good, it’s a hard temptation to resist.

Speaking of which, apparently networks have had a hard time resisting the urge to replay the footage from the Pacers/Pistons brawl a couple weekends ago. You couldn’t turn on a television set last week without getting at least a segment of the Ron Artest et al ruckus in Detroit.

Who’s at fault in this one? Artest may very well be certifiably insane, but as my colleague – Spc. Christopher Fincham – has pointed out, the sparks really started to fly thanks to a miraculously-thrown cup of beer launched by a "fan" in the stands, which hit Artest as he was lying on the scorer’s table.

Fincham also noted the fact that the missile – as well as the large amount of beer dumped on players as they left the court – was given the gift of flight in the fourth quarter of the game. The venue is supposed to stop serving alcohol during the third.

The man who threw the beer was identified as John Green, who apparently has a criminal record that includes a 1989 conviction for "assault with intent to do great bodily harm less than murder" of a Michigan woman.

So, Artest isn’t the only one with a spotted history. Green, strangely enough, reportedly lives next door to the county prosecutor.

So far Artest has been suspended without pay for the rest of the season, and other players involved have received lesser penalties. But what about the Detroit fans who were at the Palace? Aren’t they to blame, too? Some have suggested disallowing the venue from selling beer, but the vendors would scream bloody murder if they couldn’t make thousands of dollars off beverage sales.

As if this whole fiasco wasn’t strange enough, the cup that struck Artest appeared briefly on eBay last Monday, but according to ESPN, it was taken off Tuesday when the bidding went up to $99,999,999.

And that’s not all. The Turret has learned that CI Host, an Internet hosting company, is offering $10,000 to the first player or fan who threw a punch captured on camera during the brawl who comes forward and tattoos the company logo on his or her fist. That’ll surely teach them not to start fights at sports events.

This is hardly an isolated event. We had the Steelers and the Browns knocking the sense out of each other a couple weekends ago, and the bench-clearing, state trooper charging, two-team stampede at the Clemson/South Carolina game.

Add to this the Eagles' Terrell Owens’ now-infamous Monday Night Football skit with "desperate housewife" Nicollete Sheridan, and you’ve got the makings for an Oliver Stone-directed feature-length episode of The Jerry Springer Show. We just need Dale Earnhardt Jr. on hand to supply the necessary colorful language.

It will be interesting to see what form the eventual fallout from all these violent altercations takes. I suppose fans could be strapped into seats with padded harnesses like the ones on rollercoasters. Or, games could take place inside huge plexiglass bubbles like the ones that cover those arcade hockey machines.

Whatever happens, it won’t be good either for sports or the people who love them.


Monday, November 29, 2004

Liars and thieves

"No one is completely useless...
you can always be a horrible example."
– Maj. Brian Maka
U.S. Army
Former 2ID Public Affairs Officer

William Safire has written this column about Kofi Annan’s son Kojo’s involvement with the U.N. oil-for-food scandal. Apparently, Kofi denied charges that his son had been receiving payments from Cotecna Inspection for years after he resigned from the company, which would have led to a de facto conflict of interest when Cotecna received the "open-ended no-compete contract." Highlights:

The story put out by the U.N. Secretariat at the time was that the son, Kojo, had resigned from Cotecna just weeks before the U.N. switched its fast-growing inspection business to the Swiss firm. Though such a timely termination looked fishy on its face, the absence of post-contract payments to Kofi's son was the basis for the U.N.'s claim that there had been no conflict of interest or nepotism.
Last week the truth was outed. The U.S. attorney's office in New York is in competition with the U.N.'s "independent" investigation, whose Paul Volcker - while stonewalling angry Congressional investigators - has grand jury help from the Manhattan district attorney's office...

The lawyer confirmed that Kojo received payments of $2,500 per month for four years after he supposedly severed his relationship with Cotecna - up to February of this year, when Iraqis blew the lid off the U.N.-Saddam-French-Russian conspiracy.

Ha! So these are the bastards who we needed to head up the "international effort" into Iraq, eh? Naturally, there’s nothing left of Annan’s credibility, if he ever had a shred. But I’d be surprised if he has the spine to step down. Safire seems to think that’s his only option:

This marks the end of the beginning of the scandal. Its end will not begin until Kofi Annan, even if personally innocent, resigns - having, through initial ineptitude and final obstructionism, brought dishonor on the Secretariat of the United Nations.

And you know, Kofi himself may be clean... but I strongly suspect he isn’t. In fact, as Safire points out, the $125,000 pocketed by Kojo is "chump change" when the issue at hand is a $20 billion embezzlement.

It does seem that we need some kind of international oversight committee to keep the nations and powers of the world in line... but the United Nations is a doomed shell of the founders’ original intent, and is instead a model of inefficacy and flaccid bureaucracy.

And this band of thieves is the group who’s supposed to be making the moral pronouncements for the just treatment of the "international community." They’re just another bunch of money-grubbers looking for their next scam.


Update: CNN reports that Kofi Annan is "disappointed" at his son's continued involvement in Cotecna. Annan is quoted in the article as saying that his son works in a "different field," and that the two don't meddle in each other's affairs.

Great story, Mr. Secretariat. When you are the United Nations Secretary General, and your son is involved in a company on contract with the U.N., you've officially meddled in each others' affairs.

Saturday, November 27, 2004

Another shot at Dan

ScrappleFace has this on CBS' credibility... Ukraine Journalists Drop Bias, CBS to Study Idea.

Pundits on both sides of the fence consistenly cry foul over either the "liberal big-media agenda" or the "right-wing media takeover." Let's set the record straight on this one, huh?

I think we can all basically agree that the worst way to describe broadcast journalism is as "fair and balanced." And why is this? It's not because the media is trying to shape and mold public opinion, it's because they want the public to watch commercials. That's all it boils down to. Networks schedule their programming in such a way as to get the biggest market share, which means they can charge their advertisers more.

Why do you suppose all the major networks have those insanely flashy three-dimensional segue graphics between every segment, or every cut to or from commercial? It's to grab your attention. I'd go so far as to say that these graphics are more important than whatever the anchors are jabbering about at a given time.

For instance, on a certain network, back when the war in Iraq was just getting going, every cut to or from commercial had this ridiculous CGI sequence where a fighter jet swooped around the screen, transforming into a screeching bald eagle as it swept out of the frame. I don't care what you think of Fox News, that was stupid. It went right along with all the American flags they have integrated into the on-screen infographics. "Hey, we're patriotic! Watch us! Oh, and by the way, we are Fair and Balanced."

Look, I think it's my job as the viewer to decide whether someone's fair and/or balanced. Having that as your slogan is like when they write on the side of the orange juice carton that it "tastes great!" Oh, yeah? I'll figure that out for myself, thanks.

Even though that's tangential, it highlights the point I'm trying to make, which is only that networks like CBS and Fox don't have honesty and credibility high on their corporate goals list, even if it's on there somewhere. Priority number one is the bottom line.


Wednesday, November 24, 2004

What's the frequency now, Kenneth?

I know I'm late in posting about Dan Rather's step-down as CBS' anchor, but, well, Dan Rather has stepped down as CBS' anchor.

Anyone else not sorry to see the guy leave?

Of course, he's just one example of how broadcast journalists are more apt to be, in the words of Jon Stewart, "partisan hacks" than searchers-of-the-truth.

In other news, I got a press release on the FAX yesterday from C I Host, the guys who brought us the "human billboard" - a dude who agreed to tattoo the company's logo on his shaved head - a year or so ago.

Now, the company is putting a call out to anyone - player or fan - who threw a punch captured on camera during the Pistons / Pacers brawl last weekend. They're going to pay the first person who comes forward $10,000 to tattoo the company logo on their fist.

My editor handed me the FAX and said, "Look at this. They're putting a bounty on stupidity now."

Tuesday, November 23, 2004

Still trying to make the election make sense?

I was reading an article in the New York Times Magazine today that discussed some of the disparities between the red and blue states. Statistics included: the five wealthiest states are blue, while the five poorest went red. Blue states tend to give more to the federal government than they receive, while red states, as a group, receive more than they pay.

Interesting that this is the lament of a NYTM writer, who under normal circumstances would be a loud proponent of the redistribution of wealth idea that's so popular with fans of democratic socialism.

I guess it's really just about getting your way.

Monday, November 22, 2004

Defeatism masks a remarkable victory

I'm not particularly excited about the war in Iraq, being that within the next three to six years, I may very well find myself there. But I don't care what side of the "right war/wrong war" argument you're coming from - defeatism is despicable.

What's going on in Fallujah? Well, the coalition forces, suffering a total loss (thus far) of 56 soldiers, have wiped out the last real "stronghold" in Iraq (see below for CNN links).

But what's the real story? Apparently, it's about American "war crimes," insurgency in other areas of Iraq (the capture of Iraqi police stations), and the awful casualties suffered by Americans.

Well, to borrow a term from the English, bollocks. This is from the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette: a commentary by Jack Kelly, asking whether Fallujah is the Iwo Jima of Iraq.

Here are some highlights:

The swift capture of Fallujah is taxing the imagination of Arab journalists and -- sadly -- our own. How does one portray a remarkable American victory as if it were of little consequence, or even a defeat? For CNN's Walter Rodgers, camped out in front the main U.S. military hospital in Germany, you do this by emphasizing American casualties.

Other publications across the world have taken different approaches, Kelly says, including playing up insurgency "victories" elsewhere in Iraq or screaming about the Marine who shot the Iraqi playing dead.

Journalists quick to judge the Marine are more forgiving when it comes to the terrorists. "They're not bad guys, especially, just people who disagree with us," said MSNBC's Chris Matthews.

As my friend and fellow soldier sometimes asks aloud when things like this come up, "Ok, how many heads have we cut off on TV? Just making sure I had the score right."


Sunday, November 21, 2004

Finishing up in Fallujah? And more racial slurs.

Looks like things are winding down in Fallujah, according to CNN.

I thought it was interesting that at the same time the Monday Night Football nonsense was going on, Condoleeza Rice was being maligned as an "Aunt Jemima" by a small-market radio host. I'll have to go see if I can find the story. Cartoonists including Doonesbury's Gary Trudeau have also jumped on the opportunity to make fun of Rice, reverting to unacceptable racial stereotypes.

Is this suddenly okay? Being a white male, I don't usually think about racial issues very often. But this latest stuff is just blowing my mind.


Friday, November 19, 2004

Out on a limb

I decided once I got back to the office that I'd write my weekly commentary about this Terrell Owens issue. It was decided after I saw comments from both Rush Limbaugh and Indianapolis Colts coach Tony Dungy saying that the skit involving Owens and Nicollette Sheridan (of ABC's "Desparate Housewives") was "racially offensive."

Anyway, here's the column, in draft.

Terrell Owens is in trouble again.

And now, everyone from T.O to the Philadelphia Eagles to ABC is apologizing on national media for his "steamy" introductory skit to last week’s episode of "Monday Night Football."

Everyone else is weighing in on the skit, which featured Owens talking with "Desperate Housewives" costar Nicollette Sheridan, who wore only a towel, which she eventually dropped before jumping into T.O.’s arms.

Was it the partial nudity (viewers saw her from the back) that raised so many hackles across the nation? Was it the fact that the segment aired at 9 p.m. on the east coast, but 6 p.m. on the west? Was it the "suggestive" nature of the segment?

That’s not what Indianapolis Colts coach Tony Dungy thinks. He’s gone on the record saying he found the segment "racially offensive."

So the problem is the fact that Owens is black and Sheridan is white, then?

Well, Dungy seemed to think that the skit was "stereotypical" toward black athletes.

I’d be interested to know what Dungy thought about last season’s Super Bowl halftime show performance by Justin Timberlake and Janet Jackson.

Conservative radio motormouth Rush Limbaugh also had to say his piece on the steamy skit. According to a transcript of his show, it’s "too close to this whole Kobe Bryant situation for comfort," echoing sentiments already expressed by Dungy.

I’m sorry, what? I fail to see the correlation between the Bryant case and this latest stunt of Terrell Owens’.

Bryant was accused of a felony – statutory rape. Terrell Owens was in a racy skit on network television. I don’t see what the two instances have in common.

Except, of course, that they both involve a black man and a white woman.

Seems to me that this is what’s causing the most uproar, whether the agitators will admit it or not. It isn’t the partial nudity – why, Sheridan’s ABC show has that kind of stuff on all the time, I’m led to believe, and they’re getting big ratings, not angry phone calls from the Federal Communications Commission.

We broke the nudity barrier on cable TV ten years ago, with "NYPD Blue."

I suppose I had naively been under the impression that we were past this kind of nonsense. Are we still closed-minded enough to be drawing lines in the sand over which members of other races "shall not cross"? The answer, apparently, is yes.

Dungy is one of five black coaches in the National Football League, another being the Chicago Bears' Lovie Smith.

According to ESPN, Smith took exception with the skit’s risque content, but that was it.

"I saw a naked lady with an athlete, period," he said. "Black, white, that doesn’t really matter an awful lot to me."

It’s fine to be outraged over the content of national television. There’s plenty to be outraged over. But let’s make sure we’re all clear on why we’re outraged.

If the bile starts rising at the implication of an interracial relationship, it might be time to reevaluate your sense of moral propriety.


Desperate House-wide receivers

You know, I was afraid that since starting this new blog, I'd lost my sense of humor. I was taking everything so seriously. But I was jumping to conclusions. Nothing to worry about, not when stuff like this "outrage" over Terrell Owens' Monday Night Football/Desperate Housewives skit is still taking up so much newsspace.

Don't get me wrong. I think Owens is a jerk. But this... this is ridiculous.

According to Sports Illustrated online's 10 Spot, the Federal Communications Commission's Michael Powell asked ABC reps if "Walt Disney would be proud" of the skit. Where did this guy find Quaaludes in this day and age? The 10-spot:

In fact, ABC insiders say Walt would prefer family fare like The Bachelor, where he would relish seeing how many women the "star" can make out with each week.

Yeah, that pretty much sums it up. I'm sure old Walt would be thrilled with the quality programming his own studio has been producing, too. Princess Jasmine could have appeared in the Arabian Nights version of Maxim.

What else do we have to work with today? People are still upset the world over about the young Marine who shot an unarmed Iraqi in Fallujah, the video of which was immediately sent out (naturally, without any real context) to the international community, such as it is. Send your thank-you notes to NBC's Kevin Sites.

There's a lot of Geneva Conventions-thumping going on, but just like Bible-thumpers, these guys are conveniently forgetting some of the more important clauses of the agreement; namely, they apply to uniformed members of recognized military.

I'm not saying that anyone doesn't have rights. But when you refuse to identify yourself as a combatant, you cease to be a soldier and begin to be a - uh oh, I'm going to say it - terrorist.

It's a bit like the hand-wringing going on over the fact that we might have damaged some mosques and hospitals. We can't damage mosques and hospitals!

That's true. But when snipers use minarets as vantage points, or hospital basements are used to store munitions, they cease to be mosques and hospitals. At that point, the mosque or hospital is, practically speaking, a military asset, and as such, a valid target.

So, did our Marine rifleman commit a "war crime"? I don't think so.



Sorry for the lack of posts. I'm back from funeral detail; and it was quite an experience, really. I'm heading out for PT, but there will be more to follow.


Tuesday, November 16, 2004

Funeral Detail

From time to time, we Garrison soldiers get tasked out to render military honors at the funerals of those who, at one time or another, served their country in the Army. That's what I'll be doing for the next couple days, so if there are no new posts, that's why. Thanks for stopping by!

Monday, November 15, 2004

Rice to replace Powell as Secretary of State

ABC News seems certain that National Security Adviser Condoleeza Rice will replace Colin Powell as Secretary of State, the senior position in the president's cabinet.

Rice is not well-liked by folks who find themselves on the left side of the fence. She'll be both the second African-American defense secretary and the second female defense secretary... certainly the first to be both.



Ok, here's a last one before I head back to work. Validating bloggers and "guerrilla journalists" everywhere, here's a article by Michael Barone: A Bad Election for Old Media.


SecState Colin Powell, three others leave cabinet

This made my ears prick up this morning at work: Powell and Three Others to Leave Cabinet (Associated Press). I understand this is a normal, expected part of the transition into a new term, but I'm sure conspiracy theories have already begun to crop up.

Powell's had a rough go through this war since its onset, at least according to Bob Woodward's Plan of Attack:

At times, with his closest friends, Powell was semidespondent. His president and his country were headed for a war that he thought might just be avoided, though he himself would not walk away... Powell wouldn't leave the president at the crossroads. He would do so only if he thought all the arguments for war were 100 percent wrong. And they weren't. He wanted the bastard [Saddam Hussein] gone as much as anyone....

He had not underestimated the extent to which the president had decided that letting the bastard remain was no longer an option. But he probably had underestimated his own usefulness to a president and vice president determined on war. (P. 272-273)

The others leaving the Bush cabinet are Agriculture Secretary Ann Veneman, Education Secretary Rod Paige and Energy Secretary Spencer Abraham, says AP.

It should be noted that Powell had intimated early on that he hadn't planned on serving for more than one term, and his resignation isn't really a huge surprise, although I would be a bit confused if he were to vacate before the scheduled Iraqi elections.

I'm not particularly happy to see the man go, to say the least. He's been the Superego to Rumsfeld's Id.


More from Iran... reports more good news from Iran. They've cut a deal with the European Big Three (England, France, and Germany) to suspend their uranium enrichment program in return for a "promise not to refer the matter the the United Nations Security Council for possible sanctions."

That's a relief, particularly considering it's 6 a.m. Monday morning.

Now, I'm off to PT.


Did the 700 Club make Kerry lose?

The OpinionJournal's James Q. Wilson has a rather sharp editorial up on John Kerry's loss of the 2004 Presidential Election, and he's as confused as I am over the incredible fear gripping the Democratic party of "fundamentalist nutjobs" hijacking the vote.

I am just as mystified by Mr. Friedman's lament that "Christian Fundamentalists" are ruining his America by fostering "divisions and intolerance." It would make as much sense to say that liberals are fostering division and intolerance by favoring abortion and gay marriages. In fact, abortion was not an issue in the election and Messrs. Bush and Kerry both opposed gay marriage. A ban on gay marriage was approved in Oregon, a state won by Sen. Kerry.

See, all these projections about voter demographics are being taken from the deceptively scanty data taken from exit polls. A few too many eggs in one pollster's basket, maybe? I particularly liked his conclusion:

Suppose the Democrats had done this better than the GOP. The result might well have been a Bush loss in Florida and Ohio, and thus the loss of the election. Our press would now be running columns about the liberal shift in public opinion, the defeat of fundamentalists, and the importance of antiwar sentiments. But in fact the Democrats did not do a better job than the Republicans. Perhaps the columnists should now just say that Karl Rove out-organized his opponents.

Well, they definitely need to run columns about something. I guess the threat of Pat Robertson disciples taking the country by storm is as good as anything else.


Sunday, November 14, 2004

Wesley Clark's vision for Fallujah

Retired General and former Democratic presidential nominee Wesley Clark has written an analysis of the battle for Fallujah, and its implications for the rest of Iraq and the surrounding region. Clark makes some good points, but stumbles in other places.

Among his good points:

To win means not just to occupy the city, but to do so in a way that knocks the local opponent permanently out of the fight, demoralizes broader resistance, and builds legitimacy for U.S. aims, methods and allies. Seen this way, the battle for Fallujah is not just a matter of shooting. It is part of a larger
bargaining process that has included negotiations, threats and staged preparations to pressure insurgent groups into preemptive surrender, to deprive them of popular tolerance and support, and to demonstrate to the Iraqi people and to others that force was used only as a last resort in order to gain increased legitimacy for the interim Iraqi government."

However, when it comes to the battle's implications for the upcoming elections, Clark speaks thusly:

Bringing about change in [Syria and Iran] should be a matter of offering inducements as well as making threats, but not if it adds to the danger for our men and women in uniform. We need to choose: continue to project a grand vision, or focus on success in Iraq. Not only the safety of our troops, but the success of our mission depends on a degree of Syrian and Iranian accommodation for an American-supported, peaceful, stable, democratizing Iraq. And we won't get that support if they think they're next on the hit list."

Unless I'm sorely mistaken, success in Iraq is indeed part of "projecting a grand vision." In a sense, there's a point to wanting to "take on" one problem at a time, but the democratization of Iraq was, I thought, a piece in a "grand vision" for the entirety of the Middle East.

It's not a popular idea, since apparently the cultures of Iran, Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, and the rest - which include denying women the rights to vote, work, and wear clothes that display their faces - are to be left completely inviolate. But, like it or hate it, the "plan," such as it was, was to initiate a modernization of the entire region, one that would allow a more pluralistic mentality into the overarching social structure of the Arab world, right?

Furthermore, "making threats" should be accompanied by the ability to enforce said threats. When that boils down to the level of the boots on the ground, it necessarily implies added danger to our men and women in uniform.

Another misstep:

For most of a year, the effort at political transformation has been submerged beneath the rubric of "reconstruction" and hindered by the attitude that "security must come first." Security and domestic Iraqi politics go hand in hand... Troops are in Fallujah because of a political failure: Large numbers of Sunnis either wouldn't, or couldn't, participate in the political process and the coming elections. Greater security in Fallujah may move citizens (whenever they return) to take part in the voting; it's too early to say. But it's certain that you can't bomb people into the polling booths."

No, you can't bomb them into polling booths, but bombs (in the form of car bombs and IEDs - improvised explosive devices) certainly can keep them out. I think it's pretty safe to say that security is a pretty high concern for anyone interested in seeing these elections occur.

Hey, this guy was a four-star general, and I'm just a lowly enlisted specialist, pretty close to the bottom of the Army barrel. But come on, Sir!


Haloscan commenting and trackback have been added to this blog.

From Brogonzo: Looks like when I set this up, all the comments made so far got erased. Sorry about that, folks.

VDH - It's a topsy-turvy world

National Review Online's Victor Davis Hanson has written a brilliant commentary on the next four years of George W. Bush's presidency. Notably:

Most Americans — in the movies they watch, the TV shows they view, the radio they hear, the abortions they receive, the sexual practices they choose, and the fashion and entertainment they enjoy — do not feel they are straight-jacketed by a Christian fundamentalist society. And yet we are told that the new jihadists are not Islamists, but our own Christians who are implementing a continental-wide red-state Jesusland.

There are a lot of scared people living in the states that showed up blue on the election exit-poll maps. Maybe they want to be scared?

Thanks to Dad for tipping me off to this one.

Iran to freeze enriched uranium program?

REUTERS is reporting that the deal between United Nations and Iran to freeze Iran's enriched uranium program is just about done.

Another quagmire that wasn't

We are just pushing them against the anvil... It's a broad attack against the entire southern front." - Col. Michael Formica, commander of the 1st Cavalry Division's 2nd Brigade.

MSNBC reports that the entire city of Fallujah has been occupied, after six days of fighting, at a cost of 31 American and six Iraqi lives, according to Lt. Gen. John Sattler, commander of the 1st Marine Expeditionary Force.

This, of course, is vaguely reminiscent of the Battle for Baghdad in April 2003, which, despite preemptive cries of "quagmire," was over almost before it started, even with a three-day standstill for a sandstorm.

Do a Google search for "war in iraq," and you'll get over 15 million results. But even though people get very huffy when the phrase "mission accomplished" is tossed around, it seems to me that the actual "war" phase of the War in Iraq is indeed over, and has been for quite some time. Aren't we more in a police action / occupation stage at this point? There's a difference.


It's time for more Alternatives to Work

Right-o, folks. I'm starting a blog here strictly devoted to the political nonsense that goes on in the world, and this is the first-ever entry. It's only here to fill up space.