Thursday, March 30, 2006


Sudden Spokespersons of Patriotism

Wednesday’s issue of the Online Journal’s Best of the Web had an item linking to an interesting article by Columbia University journalism and sociology professor Todd Gitlin in The Yale Daily News.

The Journal quotes Gitlin in describing the problem the left has with Patriotism:

"The left sees itself as standing outside a country that does bad," Gitlin said. "However, it is strategically disastrous to take this position as outsiders, since it is a concession to people who are not entitled to be the spokespersons of patriotism. It is a move against public life, public domain, public virtue and public-mindedness."

The editors at the Journal summarize and comment on Gitlin’s premise:

As a man of the left, he frames the argument in strategic terms because he knows liberals want power, and he correctly ascertains that the path to power would be much easier if they were correctly perceived as patriotic. The question is whether such an instrumental approach can produce a sincere patriotism. We don't know the answer, but we're skeptical.

Gitlin advocates that the Left discard their reluctance to express and even embrace their underlying “patriotism,” and allow the public to develop a more accurate sense that they are patriotic, and the stances they take are reflective of how patriotic they really are, in taking offense against the wrongs done by the default “spokespersons of patriotism.”

There’s a tragic flaw, a fundamental obstacle to Gitlin’s aim: the actual, in their heart of hearts perception of what America stands for, whether we are in fact a source for good and not for evil in the world.

Today’s “progressives” would be hard pressed to find policies that suited them, even if they were ever given the chance to lead. For everything in their ideology, everything in their self-created reality, is based on the first premise that everything the US does, it does for greed, power, racism, or other evil intents.

They have traveled together so far down this road that even a truly progressive foreign policy, one that reasserts the primacy of human rights and democratic ideals, leaves them in a sulk.

"The left sees itself as standing outside a country that does bad," Gitlin alleges, and in this he is right. The left sees itself as the sole protector of all the good that the bad of the US comes against, and therefore the left rallies to the support of those who would hate and destroy us, because the enemy of the bad must be the good.

Voltaire said, “the perfect [sometimes translated, “best”] is the enemy of the good.” For the left, that never fails to leave them in a state of permanent opposition to public policy, no matter how well intended. One need look no further than the foolishness of constituencies who place modern “progressives” in places of authority and governance. Look at their hopeless and misguided efforts at legislating human nature? At righting wrongs with excessive authority? At intrusions into fundamentally liberties?

Their own lofty principles and “if only” dreams make them the enemies of practical good today.

The US overwhelmingly provides the greatest amount of funding, security, material support, and commitment of blood and treasure for all manner of well intended, progressive inspired beneficence all over the world. We give billions to both the Israelis and the Egyptians, as thanks for the Camp David accords and the resulting uninterrupted period of non-violence against each other (aside from the rhetorical). We gave nearly a billion a year to that scoundrel and murderer Arafat and his Palestinian Authority (for who knows what we thought we were getting). We give billions for HIV and AIDS research, we feed North Koreans, Asians, we support all manner of security umbrellas for everyone we ever fought against and the entirety of Europe and democratic Asia.

How anyone can construe us as bad, rather than perhaps sometimes misguided or clumsy, depending on your politics, is incredible.

To see the US as bad goes beyond being a patriot who loves the US but hates what we do; to see the US as bad is to have so warped a perspective or world view, that you are logically in favor of a diminishment of US power and influence, a rejection of US ideals, a repudiation of US aims and objectives in the world, the defeat of US national interests, and so on.

That’s not a problem of others perception of the Left. That’s a crisis in the perceptions of the Left, themselves.

Links: Mudville Gazette


Really Real Security, Part I

Okay, I can post with more of a straight face. I've recovered from my first reaction, posted here. But only barely.

Wednesday’s issue of the Online Journal’s Best of the Web had an item that made reference to Really Real SecurityTM, and commenting on Democratic Representatives Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid roll-out of the new party talking points to accompany their “tough” and “smart” approach:

What's telling about the Reid and Pelosi statements, though, is their sheer vanity. They boast about being "tough," "smart" and "strong." When someone tells you how tough, smart and strong he is, do you think, (1) Wow, he's really tough, smart and strong! or (2) If he's so tough, smart and strong, why does he have to keep telling me? Generally speaking, people who brag about their fine qualities come across as somewhat pathetic.

The Journal’s editors correctly conclude:

By bragging about how smart and strong they are, Reid and Pelosi only underscore that their actions show them to be insipid and weak.

Really. We’re going to be really tough, and really smart. When we have all the pieces of our plan in place, after we change the tone of debate in Congress (i.e., win control of the House), we will share with the American people how we can provide really Really Real SecurityTM, and “restore our country’s position of international leadership.”

This is too much fun. How can any of us find the party of Really Real SecurityTM at all unserious? Why, let’s read the Plan and grow in confidence of their “tough” and “smart” plans.

The title page:

Democrats’ Plan for Real Security will protect Americans and restore our country’s position of international leadership.

Hmmm. It seems to me that the US has led internationally for the better parts of 60 years, with few better examples of how aggressively we lead the world fighting radical Islamic Terrorism and Al Qaeda specifically around the world.

It would seem as if it is precisely our determination and willingness to exert effort on behalf of US National Interests – potentially at the expense of other nations’ and non-state actor interests – that creates the kind of resentment and animosity that so bothers Democrats. If not exactly a zero sum game, the world of preserving and advancing national interests internationally is pretty darn close.

“By all means, Lead,” they seem to be saying, “but can you do so in a way that makes everybody like us?” As any leader can tell you straight off, that’s impossible. In leading, you must brush past those weaker or more timid souls who dare not act. That’s not a recipe for appreciation.

And look at it from the outside in. If you are the other players and interests in the world, state and non-state, you have three choices. You can choose to fight against us, you can opt out, and remain impotent on the sidelines, or you can follow us. We shame the world with our impertinence, and our rejection in a diplomatically enshrined status quo. A status quo, by the way, which produces and preserves the most antidemocratic nations, and allows genocide and ethnic cleansing free rein.

And if not today, when was that period of history, the prevailing conditions of which would be our leadership internationally, as recognized by the world? (I suppose that is who would have to acknowledge our leadership, to satisfy Democratic criteria for such assessments.)

Is this not revisionist history at its worst? Were we loved and admired during the Clinton Years? Please, whether at the UN, or in dealings with supposed allies in NATO or recipients of vast US foreign aid, were there any potential snubs we did not receive? During Reagan? Perhaps more hated than now. Carter? That was the start of Al Qaeda’s certainty that we were weak, a paper tiger. Bush 41? Only within the confines of a laudable Coalition to evict Iraq from Kuwait, but look how the limits of that goodwill largely forced us to leave the job undone?

Links: Basil's Blog, Don Surber, Jo's Cafe, Sister Toldjah, Gateway Pundit


Really Real Security

Oh my, it’s worse than you think. Or better, depending on how calculating you want to be.

Dafydd at Big Lizards launches a two-part take-down of the Democrat’s just-released Real Security Plan.

Hey, I want to go on record that this plan is greatly superior to that last stellar achievement of Democratic Party deep-thinking, the John Kerry “Fix Everything Wrong with Iraq” Plan. This time the plan’s in writing, and has specific verbiage to document its existence. This is a plan you can grab with your hands and wave in the air for dramatic effect! Pity we couldn’t use those office automated franking (letter-to-constituents) programs to add about 200 more pages.

Then, we could also toss it on to the floor or chamber desks to make a loud “thud” sound, highlighting how substantial is The Plan. Real Security. For the Real World Generation. Then again, the target audience doesn’t read more than 5 pages of current events, history, political mumbo-jumbo anyway, so 5 pages in English and 5 more in Spanish is probably good. (The cheesy stars are a nice “so there!” to all those hyper-patriot Republican goons.)

More later, I’m laughing too hard.

(Via the folks at Powerline)

Wednesday, March 29, 2006


Playing for the End Game

Okay, it sounds like we’re there. That’s not declaring victory by any means, but saying it’s time to focus on the end game. It’s time to have the showdown in the street with our real enemies in Iraq. High Noon time.

Wretchard at quotes both Alaa the Mesopotamian and Baghdad Burning, reporting on some disturbing developments in Baghdad. He also links to a news report in the The Guardian:

Unidentified gunmen opened fire in a trading company in an upscale Baghdad neighborhood Wednesday, killing eight employees and wounding six, police said. The men, some in police uniform, arrived at the al-Ibtikar Trade Contracting Co. in five black BMWs about 8:15 a.m., police Lt. Maitham Abdul-Razzaq said. Those killed included five men and three women, he said.

The motive of the attack in west Baghdad's Mansour district was not immediately clear. The assailants burned part of the building and didn't appear to have taken any money, Abdul-Razzaq said. Those who survived told police that the gunmen identified themselves as Iraqi Interior Ministry intelligence agents. They first asked for the manager, who was not in, then apparently gathered the victims together and shot each of them before fleeing, police and survivors said.

Too contrived, no other evident motive, the target too soft; this is clearly an internecine attempt to discredit the Iraqi Interior Ministry. Somebody’s decided it’s time to gore the ox. Wretchard draws a compelling conclusion from this turn of events:

The fundamental problem is that while the logic of security demands keeping indigenous forces under American control, the political logic demands the opposite: taking them away and inexorably pushing them under the wing of a new unity government. Handing over to potential enemies the very thing they require to complete their plans. The Iraqi government has so far failed the test of representing all its constituencies. It is entirely possible that certain Sunni and Shi'ite political parties who hate each other are determined to sabotage the American effort; and to force the US to withdraw so they can fight it out even if it means devastating their own communities. The raids on Moqtada al-Sadr's men and the overt US opposition to Ibrahim al-Jaafari suggests the US is determined to excise what it considers to be hostile political factions by force if necessary, to clear the way for a possible unity government to emerge. Time will soon tell whether it will work or whether Iraq as a unitary nation is hopelessly compromised.

Perhaps chastened by the initial responses to this post – or some second guessing upon a calmer post-post read, Wretchard posts an additional update that clarifies that he sees more political implications than military ones:

Some readers characterized this is a "gloomy" post, so perhaps there's a couple of things I should clarify. Unlike April 2004 when the insurgency broke out, I think the current problems are largely political rather than military in character. In April 2004, there were no trained security forces to control and hold a battlespace. Today those forces increasingly exist -- physically. But the political process hasn't kept pace with the creation of those security forces. The political process determines who controls those forces. History has shown Iraq can be controlled by a dictatorship, whether a colonial administration or under Saddam. The unresolved question is whether a democratic state can ever be a successor regime to a country with this kind of history. It's a problem, but it's a different problem, though maybe a worse problem than a purely military one. But my guess is that it's gone from battle-time (operating against insurgent forces) to purge-time (cleaning out hostile factions) and the emphasis has gone from facing the weaker enemy (the Sunni insurgency) to the stronger one: Iran.

Going from battle time to purge time. I think this is right, and Wretchard concludes with who I assess as the real enemy in what we face presently in Iraq: Iran.

Iran has concluded, much as Bin Laden did leading up to 9/11, as Saddam did leading up to 2003, that we lose heart. We don’t have the stomach to fight back, and fight back with the necessary sacrifice in blood and treasure (to use a phrase greatly abused and nearly absconded by the war’s opponents).

They let up, briefly, after our initial responses to 9/11, and waited to see how long our new found resolve and backbone would hold firm. Months passed, many of our responses in the Middle East and the world fell back on pre-9/11 thinking. American support for the war fell, opposition grew emboldened, but more importantly, we maintained the classic pretense of the efficacy of diplomacy with those we must know to be our enemies. They must know, think the Mullahs, so why do they hold their fire? Because they are weak, they have no stomach for the fight, they are tired, they fear.

Iran no longer fears our response, they make the devil’s calculation that the spoils will be theirs after the catastrophe of our failure. No matter how many Iraqis are killed in the process, faithful and faithless alike.

As Wretchard adds in comments:

The Iranians by all accounts, were playing for the End Game. The End Game has now arrived. And it will be different in character from what went before.


Tuesday, March 28, 2006


Cap Weinberger, RIP

Greyhawk at Mudville Gazette notes the passing of former Secretary of Defense Casper Weinberger. In noting Weinberger’s legacy, Greyhawk recalls:

I'm one of the people that joined in those days, and the folks that had been around a few years longer would tell you in no uncertain terms the day and night difference between that time and just a few years prior. The post-Vietnam military shook the post-traumatic stress disorder that had virtually crippled it for almost decade.

But more importantly there was another change wrought in those days. It was under his leadership that a corner was turned in what until then had been a very negative slide in public opinion/perception of the institution. Those who lived through the times know what I mean. Truth, there were successes and failures, victories and defeats in those years, and controversy to spare. And with all eyes on the Evil Empire another threat was developing rapidly - that very threat that confronts us today. But regardless of your opinions on the man, his boss, or the times, it was an undeniable turning point in history, in my mind a turn for the better.

Greyhawk is absolutely right.

I first joined in 1983, sat three years in Germany during Reagan's many toes-to-toes with the Soviets about missiles, star wars, etc. I was no fan of the US Military or DoD when I joined, but my eyes were sure opened as an Intel Analyst looking over the border into Eastern Europe. Weinberger and Reagan were the right men for the challenges they faced (much like their beleaguered counterparts today).

He was a big part of the revival of the US Military. It was a night and day improvement, as Greyhawk says, and many of us were pleasantly surprised enough to stick around for the ride.


Krauthammer on Iran

Charles Krauthammer, writing in Time Magazine characterizes the threat poses by nuclear jihad in terms identical to those so alarming Cicero at Winds of Change:

We're now at the dawn of an era in which an extreme and fanatical religious ideology, undeterred by the usual calculations of prudence and self-preservation, is wielding state power and will soon be wielding nuclear power.

Krauthammer covers the same ground as Cicero, and comes to much the same conclusion:

That will present the world with two futures. The first is [Manhattan Project Physicist Richard] Feynman’s vision of human destruction on a scale never seen. The second, perhaps after one or two cities are lost with millions killed in a single day, is a radical abolition of liberal democracy as the species tries to maintain itself by reverting to strict authoritarianism--a self-imposed expulsion from the Eden of post-Enlightenment freedom.

Just as grim in his assessment, Krauthammer at least holds out hope for a “third future,’ which involves holding proliferation at bay. This begins most urgently in the case of the Iranian Regime and its mad mullahs, but it won’t stop there if we let them achieve their Caliphatic dreams:

If we fail to prevent an Iranian regime run by apocalyptic fanatics from going nuclear, we will have reached a point of no return. It is not just that Iran might be the source of a great conflagration but that we will have demonstrated to the world that for those similarly inclined there is no serious impediment.

If we try to isolate the threat to the perceived and detected acts of nation states, we revert to a way of thinking about potential threats that blinded us to the possibility of 9/11. We can’t afford misconceptions of who are real enemies are, and all the myriad ways in which they or their proxies can wage war against us.

We are at war, as much against an ideology, a philosophy of hate, as we are against those who hold power at the reins of the rogue nation states. For the ruler may fail, the nation may crumble, but the ideology may continue to inflame, and there will always be those villains, who by nature or by calculation, will fan those flames for gain.

(Via Real Clear Politics)


Iran and Consequences

Cicero, writing at Winds of Change, presents a chilling picture of what we should expect the world to be, following the next critical steps in this dance with Radical Islam.

Cicero introduces his analysis with a warning about globalism:

In spite of the view that the globalized world will deliver long-term freedom and prosperity, I have begun to wonder if openness will be an option as we cross history's harsh thresholds, hidden in the tall grass. History always reaps the unexpected; its scythe is strident.

That leads Cicero to think through the implications of nuclear-minded (and equipped) fundamentalists, in contrast to the first 60 years of nuclear history, where only rational nation states possessed such powers of destruction. Cicero describes a state of affairs that is already critical, due to get worse, and unprecedented:

It is clear that the crisis is upon us and all roads lead to a very different world. We may not realize it, but we are not really talking about a country that is seeking nuclear arms. We are talking about a fundamentalist, ancient Islamic cult seeking nuclear arms as its ultimate sacrament. While it is necessary for a 'country' called 'Iran' to exercise its sovereignty in order to achieve the making of nuclear weapons, once achieved those weapons will respect no borders. They are being constructed to defy and nullify sovereign borders as we know them. Shi'a's nukes will proliferate like smoke in the wind; their very being is meant to unravel our world, which we have slowly conceived over centuries, at the expense of the Mullahs' world.

Here Cicero conducts a thought experiment, replacing “Hezbollah” with “Iran” in recent headlines. Try it yourself. It heightens the “pucker factor,” but that only serves to emphasize the true nature of the threat. It’s a must read, all the way to the end. The real threat is greater and worse than most imagine:

A religious suicide cult funded by billions of our petrodollars obtaining weapons of mass destruction has no historical precedent. None. The rules of engagement will be completely upended. Familiar metaphors of superpower warring will be unworkable and irrelevant. Watching sovereign entities flail and dither like paper dolls before their ultimate post-sovereign challenger indicates that the threshold is beneath our feet, if we care to look down.

Cicero convincingly lays out some frightening implications of Shi'a's radical mullahs’ obsession with acquiring nuclear weapons. Most critically, Cicero suggests the commencement of any nuclearized Jihad will have enormous and unavoidable impact on a globalized world economy.

In response to one of his reader’s objections, Cicero amplifies in comments why his choice of Hezbollah for extrapolation is not an idle one. Again, in the form of a thought experiment, Cicero challenges us to place Hezbollah in a slightly different context, and poses some crucial questions about whether Iran is already at war:

It may appear that Iran is not on the threshold of invading anyone, but proxies like Hezbollah are an invasive force in my book. If Iran were funding radical Mexican Islamists in California like they fund Hezbollah in Lebanon, I would most certainly consider myself invaded here where I live. If it was possible at any time that those Mexican Islamists could unleash weapons of mass destruction in my state, or even the threat of blackmail of their use, I would consider myself invaded.

If we want to wait for uniformed Iranian armies with tanks to cross over borders, then we are in the twentieth century, waiting for a war that will never happen. Are radical Shi'a in and around Persia intent on expanding their empire? Does their expansion require Saddam-style Kuwaiti invasions? Has that been their way of making war for the past 27 years?

The true nightmare scenario, as Cicero explains, predicts that the powers of the West will impose the only viable counter-terrorism strategy in a post terror nuke age: militarized isolationism. Closed borders. Immediate and complete cessation of international trade.

The bright spot of Cicero’s assessment is that the US will likely fare better when the walls of isolation are constructed to prevent nuclear terrorism in the post-nuclear phase of Jihad, relative to countries more dependent on global trade:

I am not suggesting isolation as some kind of regressive policy option that we can choose; I am suggesting that it might be the only option left, whoever pulls the nuclear trigger. It will be incredibly painful to endure, but perhaps out of the transition we will reclaim our sense of self-worth. Our history of independence is still longer than our history of dependence. Out of all the uncertainty of this time, relying on our indomitable free spirit is the one possible future I can still imagine.

Cicero’s analysis has sparked an insightful debate at Winds of Change, with regular contributors Joe Katzman, Mark Buehner, and Armed Liberal contributing to the dialog in comments.

Joe Katzman expands Cicero’s argument into what I think is the compelling crisis of opur age:

The most important - and true - aspect of Cicero's essay are the parts that say this goes beyond Iran. It does. All indicators are that the non-proliferation regime is pretty much broken, and here on Winds we've talked about the time-window re: technology diffusion and biological attacks.

If you believe the WMD lethality curve is becoming accessible at lower and lower resource levels over time, then Cicero's essay speaks strongly to the underlying structure of our future world.

Mark Buehner sees some viability of Cold War philosophies and strategies, but not without greater complexities:

We are on the horns of a dilemma, rogue enemy states are the most dangerous because they can produce weapons, but failed states are the second most dangerous because they will use weapons, and both of them rely on flat out enemy states that I think Russia and Saudi Arabia are revealing themselves to be.

In my opinion we are going back to a Cold War philosophy- and i think that is going to look a lot different from what either the late to the party neo-Realists of the left think, or the uber-hawks of the right hope.

And Armed Liberal neatly summarizes in answer to Cicero:

You're talking about the specifics of what I discussed earlier as

But it is a model to consider as we talk about the notion that a sea-change in “the Western Street” could take place which involves a fundamental belief that we can’t deal with the Arab world, and that what we need to do is to disengage fast and hard.

In essence, it’d be a position that said “we’re washing our hands of you”, bulked up border and internal security, and made it a point never to drive through ‘those neighborhoods’ without locking the doors, and never, under any circumstances, to stop there. It solves that whole messy “war” thing, and makes sure that no one says bad things about us in our hearing. We'd be clean-handed liberals, and feel secure.

Great dialog, in a critical discussion. Read the whole thing.


Thanks to Charles Krauthammer

I was just finishing a post that included a reference to a Time Magazine piece by Charles Krauthammer, and I saw the link at Instapundit to his Tuesday take down of Francis Fukuyama.

That prompted me to send him a personal note of encouragement, which got me all inspired, which I thought others might appreciate. So here’s what I sent along to Mr. Krauthammer.


Mr. Krauthammer,

I wanted to congratulate you on your fine work and offer you some encouragement.

The moment – your reaction to Fukuyama’s distortion of both your speech and your views – precipitated my sending you a note, but the fact is I have admired your work for quite some time.

I appreciate your seriousness, your attention to fact and detail, and as well (what I consider) your complete unwillingness to stoop to insults or empty demagoguery to press your arguments.

I am a military web logger (MILBLOGGER), active for more than a year and recently returned from a 10 month tour in Iraq with the NY Army National Guard. Sure, I’m a partisan, but only because opposition parties and figures are completely unserious and offer no real policy alternatives to the grave threats we face. It has been of enormous value to me personally to be so encouraged by writers and thinkers such as you.

Some might dismiss your willingness to have the US military take such an active part in confronting terrorism, and point to your inability to serve. I would strongly refute that as outrageous and disrespectful, and more the result of finding rationales for excluding reason from discourse, altogether.

I need you to know, that your words, your passion, your commitment to the causes of both little d democracy and the American ideal, are like a Battalion of refreshed soldiers in the field. You are part of a tremendous support system that has not yet given up on those of us who have been on the front lines of this critical struggle. We are proud to serve, and honored to serve among such valiant men as you.

You inspire and encourage. You offer hope, not passive criticism. You are as much “in the arena” of this war as any who take up arms.

If we succeed in this effort, you will be a part of that victory, and we applaud your efforts on all of our behalves.

With appreciation,


Friday, March 24, 2006


Albright's Foggy View

How could this woman have been Secretary of State? Madeleine Albright is no student of current events, however well-schooled she is in Realpolitik.

Albright opens her particularly myopic editorial in the LA Times with this gem on misdirection:

Three years after the invasion of Iraq and the invention of the phrase "axis of evil," the administration now highlights the threat posed by Iran — whose radical government has been vastly strengthened by the invasion of Iraq.

Look, I know she’s not alone. She’s got the brightest lights in the Democratic firmament twinkling in the same heavenly choir. If it weren’t for that Puritan George W. Bush, and his even more sinister Puppet Meister Dick Cheney, why those realists down at Foggy Bottom would have straightened out Iran long ago.

Their bottoms aren’t the only part of their anatomy that’s foggy.

Do you think I exaggerate? How’s this for a whopper from Ms. Albright:

When Al Qaeda struck the U.S. on 9/11, Iran condemned the attacks and later participated constructively in talks on Afghanistan.

Oh yeah, Iran was ready to play a lead role in the fight against terrorism, except Bush picked Pakistan for the team first. Right. According to Hans Blix and the other buffoons on the UN Weapons Inspections Team, Saddam Hussein “participated constructively” in ongoing WMD and weapons program verification. Regardless of how the “they smuggled WMD to Syria” question gets answered (was Saddam and/or his minions lying even about that), translated documents and interviews of ex-Government officials convincingly confirm Saddam was playing “rope a dope” with UN Inspectors.

Come to think on it, UN and EU apologists are making the same claims about a duplicitous Iran. (I guess we made them be that way.)

And News Flash to Ms. Albright: Palestinian leaders condemned the 9/11 attacks, while every last Palestinian (with the leaders looking out the window in triumph, no doubt) hit the streets for a week long block party to celebrate.

Why do only “Diplomats” still put any stock in these staged public expressions of condemnation? Have they learned nothing from 9/11, and the duplicitous actions of state sponsors of terror? (Sorry, I know that’s way too rhetorical, but I just couldn’t help it.)

One more odd conclusion from Albright, one that can only be sustained in the rarified atmosphere of the “never right” left:

…the Bush administration should disavow any plan for regime change in Iran — not because the regime should not be changed but because U.S. endorsement of that goal only makes it less likely. In today's warped political environment, nothing strengthens a radical government more than Washington's overt antagonism. It also is common sense to presume that Iran will be less willing to cooperate in Iraq and to compromise on nuclear issues if it is being threatened with destruction.

The regime in Iran is beleaguered on all sides. It is stepping up the proxy battle in Iraq and against US interests more broadly, due to the failure of the “insurgents.” A Democratic government in Iraq on the borders on Iran poses the gravest threat to Iran. The US, in confronting Al Qaeda and taking a stand against Iran’s nuclear belligerence has largely tilted the EU and the UN against Iran (at least with a show of those same “public expressions”).

Iran’s government is already on thin ice in many respects, I certainly can’t see how they can be described as stronger, greatly strengthened, or likely to strengthen in the areas that are their greatest vulnerability: they are detested by their own people, held responsible for much of the violence in Iraq by Iraqis themselves, and they have maintained a proxy war of terrorism against the US for decades, which now intensifies.

Getting the one man in the world most willing to use force against terrorism more angry at you would seem to be more dangerous than these mad mullahs might suppose. Are they perhaps making the same strategic miscalculation as Saddam back in early 2003?

(Via Real Clear Politics)


Cynical Habits of Thought and Speech

Hugh Hewitt interviews Victor Davis Hanson over at RadioBlogger.

Long time readers will know how much I admire Hanson and value his analysis. In this interview, Hewitt asks Hanson his impressions of Hewitt’s debate on CNN with Michael Ware, Baghdad bureau chief for Time Magazine.

In that interview, Ware made some factually inaccurate statements, topped for good measure by some obvious subjective opinions, such as:

Well, the main winners so far are al Qaeda, which is stronger than it was before the invasion. Abu Musab al Zarqawi was a nobody. Now he's the superstar of international jihad. And Iran...Iran essentially has a proxy government in place, a very, very friendly government.

Hanson responds incredulously that a journalist of what should be such elevated standing – a Time Magazine Bureau Chief – can report (much less believe) what is clearly untrue. Intercepts from Al Qaeda itself clearly indicate that they themselves feel their efforts are failing, their efforts in Iraq have backfired, and their resources would better be spent elsewhere.

Hanson’s take:

That's just a mockery of what we would call sober and judicious reporting. And everything he said was factually incorrect. We dismantled two thirds of the al Qaeda heirarchy, and Mr. Zarqawi was well enough to get an invitation to come before we went into Iraq to seek medical care under Saddam. Everything he said was untrue, and when we went into Iraq, nobody knew much about the Iranian nuclear program. The entire world is galvanizing against it now. The Iranians are petrified that this democratic experiment will work right on their border, and one of the most subversive things they can imagine right next to them. And the United States knows so much more about the danger of Iran than it did two years ago. The world was asleep to their nuclear antics. And 67% of the people have confidence in Iraq, according to the polls, that things are getting better.

In fact, it wasn’t until the latest MSM drive mania about “civil war” that Al Qaeda had much optimism in the information operations (IO) war in the press.

In his response, Hanson also describes the disease currently afflicted the majority of intellectual elites at our universities, the media, and other bastions of predominantly Blue State America:

I think it came to be frank between the journalism schools, the academic training of a lot of the people, and this affluent, elite culture, to be frank, that comes out of the universities on the left and right coasts, that's divorced from the tragic view, because these people are not...they don't open hardware stores. They don't service cars. They've never worked physically with their hands. They have an idea in this international culture of the West that somehow, all of their affluence, all of their travel, all of their freedom came out of a head of Zeus, and it's not dependent on the U.S. military, the United States role in the world. They have no appreciation for the very system that birthed and maintained them. And they've had this sort of sick cynicism, nihilism, skepticism, and the height of their affluence and leisure, that they don't have any gratitude at all, which is really one of the most important human attributes.

There is nothing I could say that would top this assessment. I would only underscore by way of postscript.

It has long been clear to those of us reporting from within the military that a very small percentage of our critics have any familiarity with the military, because people in those segments of society rarely if ever serve. Or more accurately, those who trend left within these elites view the military with scorn, they disparage if not outright scorn the very military forces that are essential to their own liberties.

Need we revisit eddy Roosevelt? Probably not my audience, but for any passers-by:

A cynical habit of thought and speech, a readiness to criticize work which the critic himself never tries to perform, an intellectual aloofness which will not accept contact with life's realities - all these are marks, not as the possessor would fain to think, of superiority but of weakness. They mark the men unfit to bear their part painfully in the stern strife of living, who seek, in the affection of contempt for the achievements of others, to hide from others and from themselves in their own weakness. The role is easy; there is none easier, save only the role of the man who sneers alike at both criticism and performance.


In the next place, the good man should be both a strong and a brave man; that is, he should be able to fight, he should be able to serve his country as a soldier, if the need arises. There are well-meaning philosophers who declaim against the unrighteousness of war. They are right only if they lay all their emphasis upon the unrighteousness. War is a dreadful thing, and unjust war is a crime against humanity. But it is such a crime because it is unjust, not because it is a war. The choice must ever be in favor of righteousness, and this is whether the alternative be peace or whether the alternative be war. The question must not be merely, Is there to be peace or war? The question must be, Is it right to prevail? Are the great laws of righteousness once more to be fulfilled? And the answer from a strong and virile people must be "Yes," whatever the cost. Every honorable effort should always be made to avoid war, just as every honorable effort should always be made by the individual in private life to keep out of a brawl, to keep out of trouble; but no self-respecting individual, no self-respecting nation, can or ought to submit to wrong.

Or be party to wrong, by either active collusion or a passive neglect.

Prior to the Bush Administration and their muscular response to 9/11, in many ways we were parties actively and passively. How can anyone continue to characterize us in the wrong now: in the face of what Saddam was before 2003 and is no longer; what the Taliban was before 2002 and is no longer; what the UN and their corrupted efforts became and remains today, unrepentant; and the 50 million people who, despite the dangers, have an opportunity for freedom and democracy, in whatever form they can craft, and preserve.

Our fledging democracy survived, at much greater risk, with much greater cost, with much less support, and without a bare fraction of the power and might of the US led Coalition to protect it in its infancy.

(Via Instapundit)


Christian Carnival is Up!

I am late in linking, but Christian Canrival is up over at All Kinds of Time. I finally got around to posting the very belated third part of my three part study of the Light under a Bushel imagery from the gospels of Matthew, Mark, and Luke.

Check it out if you haven't. And check out the carnival too, lots of spirit filled blog-goodness over at All Kinds of Time.

Thursday, March 23, 2006


No More Stability


Look no further than Mark Steyn for a cogent analysis why toppling Saddam and liberating Iraq was a good idea three years ago, and still a good idea three years in.

Writing in the Jerusalem Post (since the old-line press in the UK can’t find type space), Steyn takes on the harping critics that linger, nostalgic for the “good old days” when we valued stability and the status quo over change and uncertainty of outcomes.

Former President Clinton recently echoed the calls of armchair heads of state, saying we should have given UN weapons inspectors more time. We had Saddam right where we wanted him: contained and ineffective. “Our former strategy was working,” these pie-dealists (pie eyed idealists) say. Steyn gives a quick refresher on that winning strategy:

"Containment" is not a strategy but the absence of strategy - and thug states understand it as such. In Saddam's case, he'd supposedly been "contained" since the first Gulf War in 1991, when Bush Sr. balked at finishing what he'd started.

And what were the costs of maintaining such a strategy for the years since the Gulf War, besides emboldening Bin Laden, Saddam, Mullahs in Iran, North Korea, and others of their ilk? According to Steyn, a cost of outrageous magnitude, far surpassing the costs we bear now:

“…12 years on, in the spring of 2003 the USAF and RAF were still policing the no-fly zone, ineffectually bombing Iraq every other week. And, in place of congratulations for their brilliant "containment" of Saddam, Washington was blamed for UN sanctions and systematically starving to death a million Iraqi kids - or two million, according to which "humanitarian" agency you believe.

How about this assessment of (relative) outcomes, referenced by Steyn:

A NEW study by the American Enterprise Institute suggests that, aside from the terrific press, continuing this policy [containment vs. regime change] would not have come cheap for America: if you object (as John Kerry did) to the $400-600 billion price tag since the war, another three years of "containment" would have cost around $300 billion - and with no end in sight, and the alleged death toll of Iraqi infants no doubt up around six million. It would also have cost more real lives of real Iraqis: Despite the mosque bombings, there's a net gain of more than 100,000 civilians alive today who would have been shoveled into unmarked graves had Ba'athist rule continued. Meanwhile, the dictator would have continued gaming the international system through the Oil-for-Food program, subverting Jordan, and supporting terrorism as far afield as the Philippines.’

Add to that, the fact that Saddam was a primary sponsor of Palestinian terror against Israel, providing $25,000 to each family of Palestinian homicide bombers (otherwise known as Martyrs for Jihad within the Religion of PeaceTM). Who knows how many more acts of terrorism Saddam might have sponsored – by this means indirectly, or directly through now recognized Iraqi covert operational agencies?

Steyn also takes on those pushing the Iraqi civil war trope. Clearly those who do may have an agenda in finding civil war behind every act of violence, as it allows them a fig leaf for their incessant predictive failures since 2002. The “insurgency” kind of fell apart? Okay, let’s call every thing a sign of civil war. Steyn calls the press on this too:

I see the western press has pretty much given up on calling the Ba'athist dead-enders and foreign terrorists "insurgents" presumably because they were insurging so ineffectually. So now it's a "civil war." Remember what a civil war looks like? Generally, they have certain features: large-scale population movements, mutinous units in the armed forces, rival governments springing up, rebels seizing the radio station. None of these are present in Iraq. The slavering western media keep declaring a civil war every 48 hours but those layabout Iraqis persist in not showing up for it.

Those darned Iraqis. They don’t even know how to have a civil war. Must we do everything for them?

Steyn hits his full stride against those international diplomacy types who constantly fret over “instability” in place of a stability they’ve admired, however illogically. Why illogical? For “stability” was a very unsettled place indeed. From Steyn, his conclusion:

Diplomats use "stability" as a fancy term to dignify inertia and complacency as geopolitical sophistication, but the lesson of 9/11 is that "stability" is profoundly unstable. The unreal realpolitik of the previous 40 years had given the region a stability unique in the non-democratic world, and in return they exported their toxins, both as manpower (on 9/11) and as ideology. Instability was as good a strategic objective as any. As Sam Goldwyn used to tell his screenwriters, I'm sick of the old cliches, bring me some new cliches. When the old cliches are Ba'athism, Islamism and Arafatism, the new ones can hardly be worse, and one or two of them might even buck the region's dismal history. The biggest buck for the bang was obvious: prick the Middle East bubble at its most puffed up point - Saddam's Iraq.

I say stability was a lie. Immoral, and in the end, more expensive than the alternative.

Probably always was. Definitely is so now.

(Via Real Clear Politics)

Links: Mudville Gazette

Wednesday, March 22, 2006


More news from the MILBLOG Conference!

More news from the MILBLOG Conference!

Colonel David Hunt, FOXNews Military Analyst, author of They Just Don't Get It: How Washington is Still Compromising Your Safety and What You Can Do About It and blogger will moderate the Blogging From Theater Panel at the Milblog Conference.

That’s the panel on which I have been invited to sit. In addition to COL Hunt as the Moderator, the Panel thus far consists of Capt B from One Marine's View, Bill Roggio from The Fourth Rail, and yours truly.

I’m honored to be a part of the Conference, prouder still to share a panel with these fine gentlemen. And I second the comment by our Conference Organizer, Andi of Andi’s World:

Welcome aboard, Colonel Hunt!


MILBLOG Conference & Hidden Heroes

In order to raise funds to blunt the cost of the Conference space, the VFW has been given a grant of sorts by the Hidden Heroes Foundation.

Recently, singer Barbara Fairchild recorded a song titled The Hidden Heroes, which is meant to pay tribute to those left behind, the families of our troops. It's a very emotional song. Todd Clegg is going to put images (photos) to the song and it will then be released. One of Todd Cleggs pieces can be viewed here (sound): 

HHF is requesting patriotic photos from families of our troops so they can use them for this project, as well as others. The song will be available for download soon for a minimum $1 donation. Any single donation over $1 will be donated to the Milblog Conference, up to a maximum of $5,000. I would like to ask you to push this on your sites so that we can do some fund raising for the conference as well as promote a good product. Ask your readers to contribute photos and make a donation.   

The VFW has posted a link on the conference site and you can view it and listen to the song there.

A Pay Pal account has been set up to allow supporters to make a contribution to the MilBlog Conference.  Proceeds will pay for expenses for holding the conference (venue/hosting).  All contributions will be requitted with gifts as they are made available (downloads etc.).


Follow This Link to Contribute

Tuesday, March 21, 2006


A Change in Talking

Belmont Club takes us inside the mind of opponents to the war in Iraq. Wretchard takes note of a significant change in Talking Points. I can almost hear the inner voice…


“Okay, so it isn’t that the insurgency is winning, exactly, okay they’re thoroughly routed, okay, but that means it’s time for the inevitable civil war to start. Look, there’s violence. See what I mean? It looks like war, kinda sorta for those of us who don’t know what war looks like firsthand, and it involves civilians. So it’s civil war, right?”


“You know, the bottom line to all of it is, Iraq is a complete mess, and the US is losing, that’s the important part.”


“Okay, glad we cleared THAT up. Isn’t there any more bad news about Katrina?”


(Via Instapundit)

Monday, March 20, 2006


Thoughts from Our Town

As I write this, I sit in an auditorium full of elementary, middle, junior high and high school students, practicing The Sound of Music for the local High School.

Little Manly joined choir and select choir this year, decided to try out for the musical at the High School, was cast as one of the Von Trapp children, and here I sit.

Those who have followed the adventures of Little Manly may not be surprised at this turn of events. Those too who have read my accounts of daughters Spud and Jilly Beans no doubt picked up the many family traditions that may have contributed to Little Manly’s interest, and perhaps aptitude.

These kids do a fantastic job. The community in which we’ve made our home is perhaps even more devoted to music and drama, than they are obsessive about sports. And they’re sports fanatics. Little Manly is a big hit in his first production, admired for both his easy nature, excellent singing, and ability to hit the highest notes in the cast. I think he’s caught the bug.

I haven’t thought about my life in the theater for quite a while, not really, but Little Manly’s recent adventures have brought on a flood of reveries. That, and I have a lot more time on my hands (and on my butt) sitting in the theater as “chaperone.”

I started acting the same time I started on the school newspaper, as a 10th grader new to High School and painfully awkward and shy. (Don’t ask me, I can’t really explain the change, either.) I went to my first audition, for The Crucible, because the members of the “Bear Facts,” the newspaper named in honor of the school mascot, decided it would be a hoot to all go audition.

Quite a few of us got cast, including me. I think this was when I first met Bill Gorman, who ever after represented many things for me, foremost among them an unconditional love of theater.

Bill was an English Teacher, the Drama Club advisor on the side, and a fixture in local drama circles. (After he retired, he became a principal player with The Cider Mill, another local institution with which I have many fond connections. More on that shortly.) Bill also joined an artists' cooperative, which features some of Bill’s excellent photographic work.)

I would call this “my early exposure to theater,” except as Little Manly has demonstrated, “early” could be sooner than I supposed. Early or not, my first attempt started an intense interest, so much so that I subsequently pursued not only local civic theater, but took a degree in Theater, with a concentration in Directing, at the State University of New York (SUNY) at Binghamton.

I write this now amid many young people, among whom I am sure will be those who “share this love,” as Captain Von Trapp describes, as he serenades his audience with the Austrian anthem, “Edelweiss.”

(Don’t get me started on that. I cry every time I watch that scene in the movie, where the Captain sings the anthem of his homeland. Overwhelmed by the sadness of the loss of their freedom to the Nazi Anschluss, Captain Von Trapp loses his voice while singing the song to his countrymen. Those who view such “Nationalism” as an outmoded evil should ponder. What things beside love of country can so fortify those who stand against tyranny and oppression?)

Little Manly may or may not grow in attachment to the dramatic arts. One of the delightful ways I can encourage his further interest, is bringing us back to the Cider Mill when opportunities present.

A weekend ago we did just that. Mrs. Dadmanly keeps an eye on the season programs, and I had earlier remarked on an upcoming production of Our Town. When it came closer, Mrs. Dadmanly suggested a Sunday matinee, coupled with a visit to a favored eatery that served the local treasure, Speidies.

(Invented by local charcoal pit Lupo’s, Speidies are a marinated pork (or chicken and sometimes lamb), skewered and grilled and served in a slice of Italian bread. So far as I know, this delicacy is limited to a close proximity to the “Triple Cities” (Binghamton, Endicott, and Johnson City). We will indeed drive 2 hours one way just to get Speidies, but if we can pair it with a stop at the Cider Mill, that’s heaven.

Even more of a treat, when I realized that Bill Gorman was taking the part of the Stage Manager, the role Paul Newman played in the recent Broadway run.

This is Bill at his finest. He’s one of those gentlemen who can’t escape the character parts to which his face near condemns him. Even 30 years ago, he had that sad, careworn look that carried both worries and excitement in well-etched furrows. He has an enviable energy, too, and can generate a level of passion and excitement in his portrayals that distinguish him, and make him memorable.

I often thought how difficult it must have been for him. Having dreamed for a time of a career in Theater, I myself turned away after 8 years or so when the responsibilities of marriage and parenthood fell upon me. It always seemed to me a sad compromise to remain engaged in local theater. But I was a kid then, and didn’t really know.

Mrs. Dadmanly, Little Manly and I traveled to Binghamton, and thoroughly enjoyed both our Speidies and Our Town. Bill did a fantastic job, of course. This is the Playhouse’s 30th Season, and they had a long history strip of 30 years of Summer, Spring and Fall Seasons, listing all the plays with numerous photographs. I was involved with four or five of the early seasons in one way or another. It was a kick to be able to point the plays out to Little Manly, who immediately wanted to know what several of them were about.

As we were waiting for Bill to come out at the end of the play, we stood next to a woman as she pointed out to her son many plays in many seasons that someone had acted in. I didn’t catch who, but as she went through the seasons, it became clear who she was talking about. I thought, “She must have been a student of Bill’s too.” Quite younger than I, I didn’t recognize her at first. It wasn’t until Bill came out, and hugged this young woman and her son, that I realized this was Bill’s daughter and grandson.

It seems to me he never changes, but of course he must.

A few years ago, my High School had a 25 year reunion, and on a whim I tracked down Bill, found his photos at the cooperative, and invited him to the afternoon picnic that was part of reunion events. I didn’t hear from him, and it was a great surprise when he came walking up the path to the picnic pavilion.

That was one of the many high points of that reunion, along with seeing my good friend Joe, Nancy all the way in from the Northwest, Penny and Cathy and Mark. And all of us were thrilled to see Bill. For those of us with whom he shared his love of theater, Bill will always be the earliest and best example of the warm remembrances that love can bring.

I think Bill’s spent more years in Theater, one way or another, than al the years I’ve lived thus far. And I don’t think he regrets the time he’s spent. I know I had to live quite a few years before I understood.

It isn’t the fame, certainly not the money, it isn’t the celebrity and pomp that draws those who share the true love. Which is fortunate, since, as in other areas of life like sports, those ends are the very rare exception, and anonymity the far more widespread reward.

Standing where I do now, Bill’s just about the luckiest man I know. He does what he loves, and he loves much, and widely, between his family, his theater, his photography, and his appreciation of the richness of this brief life. Can there be greater blessing for any one us, at any age, to be free to do that which brings such happy life to existence?

He teaches important lessons, this teacher and mentor. “Don’t give up your dreams,” and almost more importantly, “don’t limit those dreams to what you expect or want them to be when you start.” Perhaps he wished for himself a different path; perhaps this wasn’t what he expected when he started.

But I know this. He does what he loves. He shares that love with many. He has an adoring and faithful audience. He’s busy, and prolific.

The dramatic conclusion of Our Town, I think, captured the essence of what I’m trying to get a fix on in my own life. At the dramatic conclusion, the young wife and mother, just deceased, comes to this awareness:

"Good-bye Grovers Corners…. Good-bye to clocks ticking… and Mama's sunflower. And food and coffee. And new ironed dresses and hot baths… and sleeping and waking up. Oh, earth, you're too wonderful for anybody to realize you!"

And more, she cries out:

"I didn’t realize…all that was going on and we never noticed?"

And one of the wiser, gone before her, answers her question:

"Yes, now you know. Now you know! That's what it was to be alive. To move about in a cloud of ignorance; to go up and down trampling on the feelings of those . . . of those about you. To spend and waste time as though you had a million years."

Only to discover, usually too late, that the days fly and life grows short.

Not Bill. Not this man. He learned this lesson early I think.

So I sit in this theater as the rehearsal grinds on throughout the afternoon. The kids grow increasingly restless, and even the chaperones lose patience with the “quiet” rules, the “sit still” rules, the “you can’t eat in here” rules.

Okay, so maybe on another day I’m fed up with how wild and disrespectful these kids are, and how I can’t believe their parents can’t seem to care enough to teach them some respect, or manners. But not today. Not thinking about that Stage Manager, ushering his play and its characters around that stage.

It reminds me of the way in which George Bailey spoke of the patrons of the old Savings and Loan. “They’re the ones, by the way, who do most of the living and working and dying around here.”

And so they are. So are we all. The days grow short, and there’s so much more we have to do. I firmly believe that God has given us this world, this life, as a unique opportunity for each one of us to experience a Love that surpasses all other love.

Do we all realize Who is the author and finisher of faith? No, any more than the many of us who fail to understand other important lessons. I think that, if we were to imagine how our Creator feels about his creation, there would be few better examples than that love the artist feels towards his art.

I thank God today for this day, and pray I have another, that I too might better reflect that love that first He loved towards us. There’s no time to waste.


Our Town Quotations thanks to Michael Cummings, from material posted at his Study Guides website.)

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