Friday, April 28, 2006
But They Don't Fall Down
Grannies dance, but they don’t fall down…no matter how wobbly they may be.
(If you don’t get that allusion, you don’t know your history of International Socialism, comrade.)
Greyhawk at Mudville Gazette offers insightful commentary on a recent court appearance of aging revolutionaries. Apparently, some anti-war Grannies managed to get themselves arrested, and thereby gain an inordinate amount of press coverage from the likes of the NY Times.
This is the paragraph that caught Greyhawk’s attention, and prompted my reference above to a bit of international communist nostalgia:
The trial was extraordinary, if only because it gave 18 impassioned women — some of whom dated their political activism to the execution of Ethel and Julius Rosenberg — a chance to testify at length about their antiwar sentiments and their commitment to free speech and dissent, in a courtroom that attracted reporters from France and Germany.
Google Ethel and Julius if you need to, fellow travelers - I'm not giving that part of the history lesson today. But small wonder the supporters of the team that helped hand the A-bomb to the Russians are against
The Grannies and their supporters take the judge’s decision in this case – to dismiss charges rather than seek punishment for their acts of (apparent) civil disobedience – as a victory for the right of free speech. I think they’re mistaken, and so does Greyhawk. He celebrates their victory, and notes the other, more significant demonstration of freedom, and its cost: the acts of those men and women who made their way past the obstructionist octogenarians, and enlisted for military service:
I celebrate their "victory"... as I celebrate the right to non-violent free speech anywhere in the few countries that allow it today. But I cheer loudly for those recruits who used that space they left available to enter the recruiting office and join to actually defend free speech too. In a way I truly pity those who wasted a life lived in freedom leading cheers for those who would end both life and freedom were they ever to be successful in their cause.
Funny how contemporary practitioners of civil disobedience can so enthusiastically celebrate being relieved of suffering any consequence of their acts? That was certainly not Gandhi’s example, nor Martin Luther King’s. They embraced the judicial consequences of their disobedience.
I suppose that’s reflective of the times, the Me Generation impulse towards taking the easy route on anything. Darn End of History protesters. Can’t even do a little stint in Birmingham Jail, for cripes sake. Had to go hire a flashy First Amendment lawyer to get them all off with a compassionate dismissal.
I’ll leave the last word to Greyhawk, as he does so well:
Expect more from these intrepid grannies, they aren't likely to be content to go back to making brownies. These age of Aquarian septuagenarians have achieved a first - the first generation to protest their parents and their kids.
Back in the "good old days" they popularized a slogan: "never trust anybody over 30". They were wrong then, and they're wrong today.
United 93 opened today, and I would urge all of us to see it, maybe more than once, and strongly urge our fellow citizens to see it, too. Trailers and other links available here.
Debbie Schlussel nominates United 93 for Movie of the Year, and declares that the film, due for release Friday, April 28th, should be “required movie viewing for all Americans who love freedom.” I would add, “as well as for all of those who would sell cheap what some hold dear.”
Schlussel makes the same point, and highly commends United 93 for the following people who don’t seem to get it:
Assorted ACLU-style lawyers and activists
Federal "law enforcement" bureaucrats
She concludes her peace, obviously to those of us who “get it:”
While the United 93 passengers had barely a warning--perhaps less than an hour, we have had plenty of warning in
Yes, we have had the warnings. Plenty of them. And unlike in
The question is: Will we take heed of them like the passengers on United 93 and go down fighting? Or will we "see no evil" and silently, willingly submit to the will of the Islamists who repeatedly tell us of their mission . . . until the West is dead?
Schlussel is worried about the signs of how this question is being answered, even as this movie opens. Couldn’t have come soon enough – the telling of this story -- one might conclude. Others disagree.
Many of my fellow conservative bloggers maintain that only liberals think that it’s too soon to start showing movies about 9/11. That’s perhaps debatable, although the sampling done by the Wall Street Journal Online seems to underscore conservative belief.
Sure, I know the job of a reviewer and critic is to very specifically address the artistic content of artistic works, and surely delving into structural elements of plot and dramatic exposition is well within the Drama Critic’s Area of Operations.
Still, based on the Journal’s selection, which I have no reason to doubt is representative, note those reactions critical of the movie. “Why it was made in the first place?” they whine. “Why was this movie made?” “We need something more from our film artists than another thrill ride.” They ask, “What, exactly, this re-creation illuminates?”
Or the most representative of this line of reasoning, from Manohla Dargis of the The New York Times:
"United 93" inspires pity and terror, no doubt. But catharsis? I'm still waiting for that.
Which kind of crystallized for me what I think of objections to the film.
Manohla, the rest of us aren’t waiting for a catharsis anymore. We experienced ours when we watched the planes hit the towers, the collapse of these massive structures, the instant transformation of nearly 3,000 people into dust and vapor and ash.
Perhaps that is the genius of this film, perhaps will be the genius of any accurate and honest film that will ever be made about the events of 9/11. Like some ancient Greek tragedy and the finest of Shakespeare’s work, there is something so universal, so elementally, brutally, human in the events of that day. The clear distinction, so starkly evident, between good and evil, that to tell the story is to make that instant connection to something timeless and essential.
The fact that the American people have been lulled into a predisposition for going back to sleep, to think this was after all some fantasy of revenge dreamed up by George Bush and the Neocons, that we can somehow talk and schmooze our way out of the Nuclear nightmares we face in Iran and North Korea, is reason enough to tell this story.
We needed to scream this story from rooftops on September 12, 2001, and every day thereafter. We need to honor our dead and fallen, each anniversary and day set aside for remembrances of heroes and sacrifice. We need to tell these stories to our Children’s children, and their children, for generations yet unborn.
It saddens me that such a world exists, and that the evil, so unimaginable to those who seek peace at any cost, exists. But I know it does. Those who died on United 93, at the
Some will never need to be reminded of that fact. For others, there will be films like United 93.
Please read, too, David Beamer’s piece in the Journal. Mr. Beamer is the father of Todd Beamer, a passenger on United Airlines Flight 93. He urges us to see United 93, and offers the following admonition, and prayer:
Be reminded of our very real enemy. Be inspired by a true story of heroic actions taken by ordinary people with victorious consequences. Be thankful for each precious day of life with a loved one and make the most of it. Resolve to take the right action in the situations of life, whatever they may be. Resolve to give thanks and support to those men, women, leaders and commanders who to this day (1,687 days since Sept. 11, 2001) continue the counterattacks on our enemy and in so doing keep us safe and our freedoms intact.
May the taste of freedom for people of the
Other commentary on United 93 well worth your while:
UPDATE: For a different perspective on the significance of United 93, you may want to read Ron Rosenbalm's thoughtful essay in Slate.
But the closest we've come to getting inside the head of a 9/11 hijacker has come in the recent testimony of Zacarias Moussaoui gloating over the pain he brought to the survivors of the 9/11 victims in an ugly, unapologetic, out-of-control way: "No remorse, no regret." Pure delight in inflicting suffering and the prospect of more. Nothing very divided and existential about that. A figure out of Dawn of the Dead. One feels that this is closer to the real Mohammed Atta.I may disagree with some of his assessments, but at least this man sees evil for what it is. Go read the whole thing.
I did not come away from watching United 93 feeling optimistic about the triumph of the human spirit and the superior resilience of enlightenment values. Quite the opposite. I came away with a feeling that history has been hijacked by a cult of the undead, or the wannabe dead, suicidal mass murderers driven by theocratic savagery. That, if you want a metaphoric fable, we're all on Flight 93, we're all doomed to crash and burn; whatever we do, the best we can hope for is that the existential rewards of local acts of courage will help us hold on a little longer before the end of enlightenment civilization and the dawn of the dead.
UPDATE #2: Chris Bowers, manager of the Liberal Blog Advertising Network, objects to the manner in which United 93 was (at least initially) marketed.
In a communiqué, the head of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) notes conditions at
Wow. Regrettable, do you find it? Any remorse in being part of the full court press and media campaigns that helped whip up the hysteria?
Now if Jakob Kellenberger could only chat up the leaders of Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International, we could do something more than just regret the insane focus on minor
I read stories like this, and wonder. Could it be that FOH* and FODP** are laying the groundwork to doing 180’s on various aspects of the Global War on Terror, come the day when they won’t have to do the knee-jerk “that SOB Bush is in the White House” routine, and sensible NGOs can go back to being, well, full of sense?
* Friends of Hillary
** Friends of the Democratic Party
(Via Winds of Change)
Fisk Fisks Fisk
Follow this link (hat tip Tim Blair) to read how Robert Fisk digs a deeper and deeper hole for himself over whether or not Zarquawi exists, is a threat, should be covered by the media, and much else.
I know Robert Fisk as the namesake of the blogging practice of critiquing columns or opinion pieces, by presenting those pieces interspersed with running commentary. Fisk earned that dubious honor by the great prevalence of his critics’ use of the technique. Apparently Fisk’s writing reveals a preference for gross inaccuracy and flights of illogic.
You couldn’t find any better example of these tendencies than his interview in this Australian Broadcasting Corporation television appearance.
Critics might be tempted to fisk Fisk, but Fisk so thoroughly fisks Fisk, no further fisking is required.
Read the whole thing, it’s very humorous.
Here’s my logical reduction of his interview:
- The recent tapes purported to be from Zarqawi appear to really be from Zarqawi.
- Contrary to Fisk’s assertion that Zarqawi is a “creature created, in a sense, by American propaganda,” Zarqawi clearly exists.
- Contrary to what Fisk has also maintained, Zarqawi is alive.
- We “bestialize” Zarqawi and Bin Laden. These individuals don’t matter anymore, their creation, Al Qaeda, does.
- Fisk questions whether Zarqawi “is seriously an enemy of the ‘West’,” or just some lunatic. He likens our distortion of Zarqawi and his role to the way in which the West “bestialized” (demonized) Khomeini, Gaddafi, Nasser.
- Fisk maintains that, if Zarqawi was in fact the individual who appeared in the Nick Berg snuff video, he’s “obviously the monstrous figure we make him out to be.”
- Fisk suggests that we create creatures (like Zarqawi) as evil caricatures, as figures for us to hate.
- Contrary to what Fisk has just said, according to Fisk, Bin Laden is a real “problem for all of us.”
- Contrary to what Fisk has just said, Bin Laden and Zarqawi quite intentionally act and fashion themselves as kindred, malignant creatures. Only we help them do that, claims Fisk, by acknowledging their acts, and recognizing their evil character.
- Fisk maintains that, “absolutely,” we must not ignore the existence of these monsters.
- Contrary to prior statements, Fisk acknowledges that “There's no doubt about it. They are bad guys.” But they’re popular in the Muslim world.
Man, my head hurts. Anyway, that’s the Cliff’s Notes version of Robert Fisk.
Links: Tim Blair picked up this piece. Check him out for many more links and background on Robert Fisk. He's been tracking his silliness far longer than I.
Thursday, April 27, 2006
A short reflection on why busting pork in terms of earmarks -- member items, pork barrel spending, supplemental appropriations, etc. – is only one battle in a bigger war. (The occasion of this reflection is the Senate Proposal to reorganize the FEMA Portion of Homeland Security.)
When you only have a hammer, every problem looks like a nail.
Better yet, when you’re a hammer aching to look like you’re really important, anything looks like it needs you pounding away at it.
Best of all, when you’re head’s made of iron, pounding away at nails is probably all you’re good for. Except, it’s long past “hammer time.”
Okay, enough with the hammer metaphor, but that was fun.
It’s humorous, after all, to think of most of our Senators as a kind of select group of Tim Allens, playing at TV handymen and women on some kind of Governmental Tool Time program. It’s also sad and pathetic that this is indeed what our elected officials amount, to at a time of grave threats and fiscal dangers. And their solutions? More bureaucracy, bigger bureaucracy, new bureaucracy.
Anything to make it look like “They Are Doing Something About It.”
My Dad retired as a Civil Service employee after many years as an Actuary for two Insurance companies. He spent his last 15 years or so as the senior non-appointed employee for a State Insurance regulatory organization.
Dad used to self-effacingly call government service “the last refuge of the mediocre.” Witnessing the many years that he toiled to keep the insurance companies operating in
I have spent the better part of my Civilian career consulting within government agencies, and have seen both sides of the issue, and all kinds of civil servants. They are no more, and no less, than any other type of employee.
Like military men and women, Civil Servants do not make the decisions that create their missions, direct, or otherwise regulate their efforts. Politicians do that.
It may be a truism, that there is no area or endeavor that Government involvement cannot make more confused, ineffective, or inefficient. Many of us grow infuriated with Government bloat and ineffectiveness. But.
My Dad used to be a Conservative, many years ago now. I won’t discuss that further, it’s painful and distressing, but nevertheless, he once was as Conservative as I, and I remember the things he often said. He is perhaps my
One thing he also said, reflects on the rapacious tendency of Government to want to consume every issue and “crises,” at least those events so characterized that they will inevitably rise to a certain threshold level of awareness. In responding to these crises, the Politician finds a ready made soapbox, a venue for issue- (and thus self-) promotion, and media attention. (Which is, after all, the ready grease of political opportunity.)
Dad firmly believed that, if private industry or business or other appropriate institutions or organizations would fail to police or regulate themselves, no doubt government eventually would, but less effectively. He often expressed it something like this: there is no better way to guarantee unwanted (and otherwise unnecessary) government intervention, than failing to deal with a problem at the appropriate level.
He invoked this observation, axiom-like, whenever current events provided ample demonstration of the truth of his observation. This happened often, as it happens. The Stock Market. Environmental Protection. Baseball.
I don’t know that I have previously noted how commonly this occurs within Government. Citizens in local communities first, but then small and mid-size “g” Government at local and state levels fail in their responsibilities. Who steps in? Uncle Sam, of course.
Visit for a moment today’s press report:
"The first obligation of government is to protect our people," said Sen. Susan Collins (news, bio, voting record), R-Maine, chair of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs investigation. "In Katrina, we failed at all levels of government to meet that fundamental obligation."
She added: "We must learn from the lessons of Katrina so that next time disaster strikes, whether it's a storm that was imminent and predicted for a long time, or a terror attack that takes us by surprise, government responds far more effectively."
Presumably, since today’s report of Senate fulminations makes no mention of any change that affects preparedness for terror attacks, we might conclude that Sen. Collins thinks that half of her verbal construct is being dealt with sufficiently by the Bush Administration and its myriad Executive Branch apparatchiks. (Better guess, that’s coming somewhere down the Campaign Trail.)
So how does the Senate ensure that Government best meets this “first obligation?”
Why, rename and reshuffle Agencies, of course:
This will make everything better!
Sen. Frank Lautenberg (news, bio, voting record), D-N.J., said FEMA needs to be stripped out of the larger department and restored to an independent Cabinet-level agency. "That's how it was done in the past and it worked as we hoped," said Lautenberg, a member of the Senate panel.
This is an odd rewriting of history, even for a crass partisan opportunist. By all accounts, the FEMA response to Katrina was arguably better, faster, more resourced, than any emergency response in FEMA’s history. Even before that rather non-sensical, Democratic Party-prompted subordination of FEMA within the cumbersome Department of Homeland Security (DHS).
A DHS spokesman responded to the Senate announcement with a tart rejoinder:
"It's time to stop playing around with the organizational charts and to start focusing on government, at all levels, that are preparing for this storm season," Homeland Security spokesman Russ Knocke said.
Oddly enough, that was just as true on September 12, 2001, before politics created DHS as a way of letting Politicians then (mostly Democrats, but joined obviously by Republicans) of using Bureaucratic turf building to show how much Good They Could Do.
Have at the After Action Reports. Identify areas for improvement. Increase funding, reset priorities, all well and good.
But how many different ways do we need to rearrange the deckchairs before we get at what the real problems are?
Back in the Active Duty Army, I remember the ways in which each new Commander needed to “Reorganize” unit operations at our Intelligence site, each reorganization forming the basis for the End of Tour Legion of Merit. Usually the Big Man in charge found the easy way to accomplish this, alternating between Centralization and Decentralization, with each new Commander finding the Last Commander’s Design as the Source for all our Problems. Hence, the imperative to reorganize.
Do they teach this technique at one of the War Colleges? Did GE teach this technique at Croton-on-Hudson? I don’t think anyone puts this in writing. My guess is this is learned through Informal Mentoring, by those who observe, like my Dad, that there’s a predictable pattern to the Ways of the Organization, which are after all, all Political at their core.
And so the Senate ruminates, fulminates, gesticulates, regurgitates.
We can only hope that someone, at some point, decides to make better use of obligation to do the People’s Work.
Links: Basil's Blog, A Blog for All, Right Wing Nation, Jo's Cafe, The QandO Blog, Mudville Gazette
Wednesday, April 26, 2006
(Great alliteration via the Wall Street Journal Online)
Check out http://www.floppingaces.net/?p=1551 for the best compilation of updates and links on the firing of CIA Analyst, former Clinton Official, and Democratic Party Activist Mary McCarthy.
(Via Tom Maguire at Just One Minute)
United 93 Release
Universal Pictures is releasing UNITED 93 on Friday, April 28th. I don’t have time to comment much – I am trying to wade through the backlog of work while I was away vacationing and attending the First Annual MILBLOGGER Conference on April 22nd.
The only comment I absolutely need to make is that it is way past time to start reminding Americans of 9/11. Too many have forgotten, what not enough realized would be the gravest threat for this or any generation. We did not ask for this fight, but the fight was pressed upon us on 9/11 with as much force as that which brought down the
From the Press Release:
UNITED 93 director Paul Greengrass (Bloody Sunday, The Bourne Supremacy) creates a gripping, provocative drama that tells the story of the passengers, crew and the flight controllers who watched in dawning horror as United Airlines Flight 93 became the fourth hijacked plane on the day of the worst terrorist attacks on American soil: September 11, 2001.
Windows Media Formats
Windows Media Formats
Looking for Footage
Jake Klim, from an outfit called Normandy Films, passes along a request for footage or other assistance in locating personal videos from troops in
Per his email:
I am an Associate Producer who just finished working on a documentary series for the (Discovery) Military Channel called BATTLEFIELD DIARIES. Three of the 10 hours have highlighted various aspects of the Iraq War – a Kiowa crash rescue in September 2004, the USMC drive towards
My boss and I are currently developing an exciting new television project for another major cable network that will utilize images personally shot by the troops and some text from various MilBlogs. So I am looking for personal videos and stills of our servicemen & women in
He can also be reached at Jklim007@yahoo.com.
Saturday, April 22, 2006
What a Blast!
I want to quickly take note of The War Tapes, to premier at the Tribeca International Film Festival in NYC on April 29th, a limited distribution (I think) starts June 2nd. It got rave reviews and big talk at the Conference. I had a chance to speak to Deborah, the director, and as a fellow director I need to confess my admiration for what she did, along with her soldier friends. She asked to virtually embed, and have soldiers film their deployment with her help. The War Tapes are the result. A Must See I must say. Z at The War Tapes also did some great play by play of Panel Three, although she admits we talked too fast to really keep up.
COL Hunt was a tough and pugnatious interrogator (I guess I mean moderator), but I think it helped us get riled up. Overall, some great conversdations about very serious implications of MILBLOGGING.
It was great to meet in person Buzz Patterson -- thanks for the very gracious and totally gratuitous plug, Buzz. Also Matt of Blackfive, of course, and Smash, the Grand-Daddies of Blogging. CJ asked if that meant we could hit them up for College Money... Austin Bay made some references to The Army of Davids and otherwise gave a rousing opening and closing.
Mrs. Dadmanly wants to pass along her thanks for letting her and Little Manly be a part of this great event (they joined for lunch and then strolled over (okay, limped in heels she admits) for Panel Three.
Andi, you did a great job. Thanks for inviting me, I was honored to be in such awesome company.
Greyhawk and Mrs. G of Mudville Gazette did an awesome job moderating the online portion of the conference. Mrs. Dadmanly tells me they both said a lot of nice things while I was "on air." I am sorry I couldn't meet them in person, but I was honored to be a part of the effort with the Greyhawks.
Mudville Gazette is VERY big reason this conference was even possible.
Links: Mudville Gazette, La Shawn Barber, Soldier's Angel Holly Aho, Euphoric Reality, Captain's Quarters
Friday, April 21, 2006
Check it out on Saturday, April 22nd, if you want to see and hear the MILBLOGGERS during our first-ever Conference!
Thursday, April 20, 2006
We spent a few fun days in Baltimore, now we're in DC, enjoying the immensity of our Nation's Capital. Had a few tearful moments in the Medal of Honor display in the Museum of American History, we were so very blessed that all of our men and women made it back home in one piece. Also enjoyed very much the World War II memorial. How immense too, and grand and somehow befitting the Greatest Generation and their sacrifices. Interesting to note the contrast with the District of Columbia monument to those who served and sacrificed during the Great War, The World War, so enscribed in 1931 without an ability to contemplate another terrible World War.
May I also note that Walter Cronkite and Mike Wallace had the key positions in the Vietnam War Television War display. Wallace, with the "The North Vietnamese proved wrong the notion that the US with superior military forces could not be defeated," or something to that effect during the Tet Offensive. A statement that the Tet Offensive had "overrun" US and South Vietnamese defenses.
Cronkite with the "how can we call it anything but a quagmire bnroadcast.
Otherwise, a very respectful treatment overall, and I was going to say, a balanced one, until that. But, that defined what most Americans heard about Vietnam, didn't it? The media has been a constant, in some respects, sicne 1968 at least.
Looking ahead to the MilBlog Conference!
My family and I hit the road shortly, in advance of the MilBlog Conference. I doubtful I’ll be blogging much during the “vacation” we are squeezing in, in advance of the Conference, and I wanted to let folks know the topics I will be pushing as a Panelist on the “Blogging from Theater” panel on Saturday, April 22nd.
My pet issues are OPSEC and sensitivity for families back home, striking an acceptable balance between getting real "ground truth" news out (particularly good news), and not giving our enemies any Information Operations (IO) advantages.
I also have a crazy idea that the military should offer to "sponsor" interested bloggers, offer training, credentials, maybe an additional skill identifier (like Master Fitness or a language or Trainer qualification), in exchange for better or "press pass" type access. This kind of falls within the whole whether/how military should regulate, register or otherwise attempt to control MILBLOGS.
My sense is that:
-- some will want to stay independent -- and seek to run covert ops if necessary
-- some will be willing partners or participants in any program the military offers
-- some will decide based on how ham-fisted the approach
-- others will want to come "in and out of the shadows" based on circumstances, events and items to be reported.
And I think discussing across these viewpoints will be lively and informative for any decision-makers.
I also have serious beef with mainstream media, and believe alternate and new media (such as MILBLOGGERS) have a vital role to play to counteract what is often adversarial media, to get information out and come against negative spin. As President Bush said of the Global War on Terrorl, so too for the MILBLOGGER versus MSM struggle: “We didn’t ask for this fight, this fight was brought to us.” I didn’t expect top be a soldier in a broader I/O war, but there it is.
When asked for some posts that reflect some of these concerns, I compiled the following:
OPSEC and (Heart)-SEC: OPSEC, and “at home” security from too much information
Blogging and OPSEC: The Blogging Memo and OPSEC
OPSEC and Pandora's Box: The Blogging Memo and OPSEC (more)
At War with the Media
Grief and Anger: Personal experience of my family to some really dumb local media behavior.
Patterns of Analysis: The kind of work reporters do (intelligence or media) inevitably leads them to paint the picture with the negative data points, since that's what they see most, and most urgently.
Chilling Intolerance: An anti-war blogger is clearly very frightened of the influence of MILBLOGS and other right leaning bloggers are exerting over public, political discussion.
Check out Reverend Ed's (Perfect) Love Boat!
Monday, April 17, 2006
An excerpt, to pique your interest:
Perhaps the biggest purveyor of these fact flakes that make up the rickety structure of conspiracy is Murray Waas, writing for the National Journal among other publications. Jay Rosen, a godfather of New Media journalism, calls Waas “our Bob Woodward” as if one more self-important, insufferably arrogant practitioner of “gotchya” journalism were necessary in Washington. Waas has become a hero to left for his uncanny ability to leap to the most outrageous conclusions when uncovering the tiniest of “facts” regarding everything from the Fitzgerald investigation to the latest illegal leak from the intelligence community. Waas has built a house of cards about White House conspiracies based on the careful accumulation of “evidence” which may or may not indicate a pattern of deceit depending just how much one wishes to see when looking into the shadows and fog surrounding most of his information.One has to wonder whether we weren't fighting a home front insurgency these lats few years...
But in concentrating on the mote in the other fellow’s eye, Waas has missed the knife sticking out of the back of the Bush Administration; a knife planted by a group of leakers – organized or not – at the CIA who, unelected though they were, took it upon themselves to first try and prevent the execution of United States policy they were sworn to carry out, and failing that, trying to destroy in the most blatantly partisan manner an Administration with which they had a policy disagreement.
Sunday, April 16, 2006
New Beginnings (Again)
For in the year since I wrote it, I completed my deployment for Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF) III, returned to my beloved, my wife, son, daughters, friends and family. Safely. Whole. Richly blessed.
And since then? Reconnecting in fellowship with our friends at Open Arms, made new friends, received new inspiration. I am leaving shortly to participate in the first MILBLOG Conference... God is good to us, and does what He promises in great abundance.
So today is Easter. He is Risen. He is Risen Indeed.
Today is Easter. Resurrection Day. The day Christians all over the world celebrate when Jesus Christ their Messiah rose from the dead.
I have the fortune and misfortune to celebrate Easter this year very far from home, far even from my friends and fellow soldiers alongside whom I have spent the past 10 months first preparing for and then participating in Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF III). This is my misfortune for obvious reasons, but as with many movements of God in our lives, this occasion of loss and absence brings unexpected blessings, that is our great good fortune. I'll explain why.
Easter is a very special time in our family. I was born, and later reborn as we like to say, on Easter Sunday. That ensures I always associate Easter with birth, and rebirth. It has always represented a time for new beginnings, of change, renewal, rededication.
Christmas is the holiday on the Christian calendar associated with birth in a different way, but that's the humble birth, the seed planted that in the fullness of time would emerge as the salvation of the world. That birth was humble, it slumbered, it speaks of love invested. Easter speaks of love demostrated:
"For God so loved the World, that He gave His only begotten son, that whosoever shall believe in Him, shall have everlasting life." (John 3:16)
In the great way of paradox that is God's own comeuppance to the wise, that death on Easter sets the stage for eternal rebirth. By adhering to the cross, for dying to self and aligning ourselves to Messiah, we are made new creations in Christ:
17Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have
passed away; behold, all things have become new. (2 Corinthians 5:17)
There's a much older promise too, that Christ's resurrection reconnects us to, as fortold in Isaiah 65:17:
17"For behold, I create new heavens and a new earth; And the former shall not be remembered or come to mind.
This is the promise that has been latent and present since the beginning of the world, until God chose the time and the place for revelation. God never promises that the things of this world will remain, unchanging. In fact, He warns us that "this too shall pass away," that all things of this earth will pass away. He wants change, He wants us prepared for change, He wants us to change.
Mrs. Dadmanly's family on her Mom's side is Polish. They have this great big wonderful, tight as a southern hug family. A real family, with more known relatives than most families have on their extended Christmas card lists. They are a vibrant people, maybe somewhat dimmed and discouraged from the loss of Babci some years back at 101 years of age, but still carrying the traditions and vivid memories of family holidays. I was very fortunate to have shared the last few years when Babci was still there, urging us all to eat, toiling in the kitchen. Listening to her children scolding her about shoveling her own snow at 98, or standing on the table cleaning the ceiling, or her chiding of her daughters in Polish, correcting them on some family event or matter of tradition or even how they wore their hair.
Easter brings fond remembrance of Easter visits with Babci, big family gatherings, great food, lots of laughter. We long to "resurrect" those days, and hope that this year all the scattered strands of family may yet gather at some celebration rather than the inevitable funeral or wake.
And that brings me full circle to the deeper meaning that Easter has for me, and why Mrs. Dadmanly and I are more blessed by our separation than we ever imagined we could be, even in the midst of tears shed in missing our close companionship.
Resurrection is the promise unhoped for after sorrow. Resurrection is God's blessing in abundance following a famine or drought. Rebirth and renewal in all aspects of our lives offer new opportunities for unlooked for joy.
This separation has been hard. Being apart for things like Easter are tough, and it's hard for us to be joyful. Everything we do is a reminder of how different it would be if we were together. We grieve the absence of each other's best friend.
But there's joy coming through in the morning.
Mrs. D has used this time to offer herself for military families as a helper for our Chaplains. She also helped start a Women's Support Group at our church, ministering to women who need healing from emotional hurts. She relies on God more than ever, as her soulmate is not an arms length away, or even an easy phone call or email away.
I have rediscovered my writing, but allowing it to be used of God more and more. I am working on a sermon with our Chaplain, and though it goes slowly, I am inching towards a more public working out of my faith here in country. I walk through Proverbs with my friend John, and remain in very frequent contact with friends and family. I send a deluge of mail and postings on my web log. I've reached out to people all over the world through the blog, and begun to forge those interconnections that I believe are one of God's new ways of ministry.
So this is Easter, 2005. And like Easter 1991 when I accepted Jesus as my Savior, and Easter 1959 when I came into this world, there is a whole new world in which this new creation can find communion with my God, fellow believers, other travellers who ride this short, vibrant life on earth.
May the God of New Beginnings speak renewal into your hearts, and may you find that sudden and unexpected joy after a season of regret.
Saturday, April 15, 2006
Knives and Knaves
The transformation of the US Military has required and involved as much psychological as structural changes. Rumsfeld, no more and no less, has taken a leading role in implementing tranformation on the orders of the President: a forceful leader taking decisive action for a boss with equal determination and resolve.
Both the Boss and His Man at Defense have paid a high price for taking on difficult national security challenges, not the least of which was confronting and often confounding stultified bureaucracies: at Departments of State, at the CIA, and most of all, the Department of Defense.
And now, as the saying goes, “the knives are out” for Rumsfeld.
The much anticipated bloodletting purports to be about this “highly unusual” gathering of retired military calling for the resignation of Rumsfeld, for all his many failures in executing the war in Iraq, and the wider Global War on Terrror.
Whether we have seen such a “critical mass” -- pardon the pun – of retired Generals weighing in on political affairs will remain arguable. But that all things in Washington have become stridently politicized is hardly news. Regretably, this includes politicizing matters of waging war in a time of war. “Leaving politics at the waters edge,” a saying that used to call Americans to collective solidarity in times of crisis, is so much quaint nostalgia now.
The real occasion for this well orchestrated chorus of critics may be chronological. Note how neatly these public criticisms fall in line with recent revisiting of controversies and blood libels from earlier political battles. Democrats introduce a contrived and sudden seriousness to the threats we face, and contradict earlier, hysterical accusations that the Bush Presidency contrives to exaggerate threats and elevate fear. They were seriously enraged then, methinks more sober now, with mid-term elections and hopeful gains in view.
All of a sudden, the Bush Opposition wants Really Real SecurityTM. They tried a more ersatz Security, in the form of former War Hero Military Men, but these prior attempts floundered when the National Security messages were mortally diluted by the complete failure of their messengers. First, they fielded an ’04 Candidate who threw away his honor after his brief wartime service, without ever realizing a War Hero who claimed we were all War Criminals would defeat their intended purpose.
Then, they pushed out into the limelight a doddering Murtha. Murtha may have had good intentions in his complaints, but likewise insulted and dismissed those currently serving with his starkly false characterization of a “failed military” and discouraging new recruits.
Now low and behold, and a curiously opportune time, with President Bush at the lowest depths of approval and popularity, with a majority of the American people lulled into accepting a false picture of defeat, come these Armchaired Generals. “We mean only to serve, we step forward for our fellow brothers and sisters in arms, with no gain in mind and no ulterior motive.” When the man comes to tell you he’s here to help you (with a camera crew in tow), you know what that means.
How curious the timing, is all I am saying.
Both Tom Bevan at Real Clear Politics and Victor Davis Hanson in National Review
wade into the maelstrom, raging from the sudden confluence of criticism from retired senior officers.
Tom Bevan (or one of his Editors) headlines his piece, “The Knives Are Out For Rummy.” He quotes David Ignatius of The Washington Post, calling Rumsfeld a "spent force," and relates Ignatius’ opinion that something more than 75% of military officers want Rumsfeld out.
Bevan also notes an article by David Cloud and Eric Schmitt at the New York Times. The Times piece profiles the retired generals and their points of criticism, but also includes opinions dissenting from the dissenting opinion:
Some officers who have worked closely with Mr. Rumsfeld reject the idea that he
is primarily to blame for the inability of American forces to defeat the
insurgency in Iraq. One active-duty, four-star Army officer said he had not
heard among his peers widespread criticism of Mr. Rumsfeld, and said he thought
the criticism from his retired colleagues was off base. "They are entitled to
their views, but I believe them to be wrong. And it is unfortunate they have
allowed themselves to become in some respects, politicized."
Yesterday in a press briefing Joint
Chiefs Chairman General Peter Pace offered a vigorous defense of Secretary
Rumsfeld saying, "this country is exceptionally well-served by the man standing
on my left." Pace also defended the process and the decision making of the
prewar planning, saying he was very comfortable with the way it was done and
pointing out that the invasion plan was approved by all members of the Joint
Chiefs of Staff.
These are my primary objections with the current efforts of these retired military leaders. Where were they when the game, for them, was afoot? And why now, to what end, for what purpose, do they want Rumsfeld sacrificed? As punishment? How does that improve something that’s already past? How can we help but conclude the motivation is largely political?
Major General Batiste claims in part that Rumsfeld must pay the price for the poor decisions he made five years ago. Wow, talk about holding a grudge. Listen, we followed Batiste’s 1st ID into the battlespace in Tikrit and environs. I know what the 42nd ID did, in ramping up HUMINT exploitation, and translating targeting from some analytic exercise into operational reality. Battle Plans are necessarily fluid, and evolve with changing conditions and objectives. Follow-on forces adapted to new information, intelligence, on ongoing assessment of objectives and results. It is good that this occurs.
Of all men, MG Batiste should recognize that no amount of planning is ever enough to fully anticipate, or completely accommodate every change in circumstance and eventuality. If the performance of the military was less than optimal – or even poorly led, as some as these now allege – where were these officers, and what were they doing to make their units better perform?
And this even begs the question of whether any “apology” or “correction” is even warranted. I would strenuously object to any claim that the performance of our military in Afghanistan or Iraq has been anything other than highly successful, by any objective standard or historical comparison.
Again, why now, to what end, the call for Rumsfeld’s dismissal?
Bevan underscores what I think is the real political factor:
In the Philadelphia Inquirer, Charles
Stevenson of The School of Advanced International Studies at Johns Hopkins
University agrees that Rumsfeld has "lost some important allies on [Capitol]
Hill and in the senior military" but that he doesn't expect to see Rumsfeld
leaving any time soon:
"I don't see how the President would find it
in his political interest to get rid of Rumsfeld unless he also wants to change
policy and use Rumsfeld as kind of a scapegoat or whipping boy or whatever. But
there doesn't seem to be any evidence that the President wants to blame anybody
or change his mind."
This echoes the theme from my
column two weeks ago, where I argued that Bush wouldn't replace Rumsfeld
because doing so would "would be seen as a tacit admission of failure in Iraq -
something that would give the Democrats a neatly-wrapped gift for the elections
this November and, more importantly, would be interpreted as a sign of weakness
by our enemies overseas and cast further doubt on our commitment and resolve to
hang tough in Iraq."
Victor Davis Hanson takes a critical view of armchaired critics of the war in Iraq, and tells them they “need to move on” and stop participating in Dead End Debates. This is how he characterizes the critics:
Currently, there are many retired generals appearing in frenetic fashion on
television. Sometimes they hype their recent books, or, as during the three-week
war, offer sharp interviews about our supposed strategic and operational
blunders in Iraq — imperial hubris, too few troops, wrong war, wrong place, and
other assorted lapses.
Apart from the ethical questions involved in
promoting a book or showcasing a media appearance during a time of war by
offering an "inside" view unknown to others of the supposedly culpable
administration of the military, what is striking is the empty nature of these
controversies rehashed ad nauseam.
Hanson revisits the prevailing criticisms, and with informed reasoning, demolishes the logical basis for these objections to Administration policy, past and present.
The myth that wasn’t myth, Iraq and Al Qaeda:
First of all, whatever one thinks about Iraq, the old question of whether Iraq
and al Qaeda enjoyed a beneficial relationship is moot — they did. The only area
of post facto disagreement is over to what degree did Iraqi knowledge of, or
support for, the first World Trade Center bombing, al Qaedists in Kurdistan,
sanctuary for the Afghan jihadists, or, as was recently disclosed by postbellum
archives, Saddam's interest in the utility of Islamic terror, enhance operations
against the United States.
The myth that was, “It’s all about oil”:
Second, the old no-blood-for-oil mantra of petroleum conspiracy is over with.
Gas skyrocketed after the invasion — just as jittery oil executives warned
before the war that it would. Billions of petroleum profits have piled up in the
coffers of the Middle East. Secret Baathist oil concessions to Russia and France
were voided. Oil-for-Food was exposed. And the Iraqi oil industry came under
transparent auspices for the first time. The only area of controversy that could
possibly still arise would have to come from the realist right. It would run
something like this: "Why, in our zeal for reform, did we upset fragile oil
commerce with a dictator that proved so lucrative to the West and international
Iran, either Too Hot, or Too Cold, but never just right. Hanson correctly identifies that “there are, and always were, only three bad choices.” UN and EU sponsored negotiations have gone nowhere, and give Iran cover to continue to advance their nuclear ambitions. No one but the naïve or deranged seriously thinks the Mullahs are amenable to a negotiated disarmament (in advance). A nuclear Iran is often referred to as “unacceptable,” most often without much explanation of what one does with that lack of “acceptance.” The third bad choice? According to Hanson:
The third choice, of course, was to tarry until the last possible moment and
then take out the installations before the missiles were armed. The rationale
behind that nightmarish gambit would be that the resulting mess — collateral
damage, missed sites, enhanced terrorism, dirty-bomb suicide bombers, Shiite
fervor in Iraq, and ostracism by the world community — was worth the price to
stop a nuclear theocracy before it blackmailed the West, took de facto control
of the Middle East oil nexus, nuked Israel, or spread global jihadist
fundamentalism through intimidation.
All alternatives are bad. All have been discussed. So far neither the retired
military brass nor the Democratic opposition has offered anything new — much
less which choice they can assure us is best. The result is that Iran is the new
soapbox on which talking heads can blather about the dangers of "preemption,"
but without either responsibility for, or maturity in, advocating a viable
Hanson derides with equal vigor the General’s critique that “more troops” were necessary:
Whatever one's views about needing more troops in 2003-5, few Democratic
senators or pundits are now calling for an infusion of 100,000 more Americans
into Iraq. While everyone blames the present policy, no one ever suggests that
current positive trends — a growing Iraqi security force and decreasing American
deaths in March — might possibly be related to the moderate size of the American
My own view is that more troops would have meant more casualties. One wonders if this line of criticism isn’t more disgruntlement, that casualties didn’t turn out as horrific as war critics predicted. Apropos for a vein of military thinking that prescribes that we do the same as we’ve always done, and hoping for a different result.
Hanson has a different, but related assessment:
More troops might have brought a larger footprint that made peacekeeping easierHanson makes mash of other military planning criticisms on judgments regarding people versus weapon systems, the balance of weapon systems, weighting of forces, and so forth. The fact is, only in hindsight do these arguments appear simple, and even at that, the fatal flaws in arguments of this kind are often exposed as a “here’s how we could have fought the last war, and should fight the next,” only to have future expectations confounded when reality then makes today’s logic just as foolish.
— but also raised a provocative Western profile in an Islamic country. More
troops may have facilitated Iraqization — or, in the style of Vietnam, created
perpetual dependency. More troops might have shortened the war and occupation — or made monthly dollar costs even higher, raised casualties, and ensured that
eventual troop draw-downs would be more difficult.
We would be wise to properly assess these criticisms, according to Hanson, and not draw the wrong conclusions:
So we know the nature of these weary debates. Both sides offer reasonable
arguments. Fine. But let us not fool ourselves any longer that each subsequent
"exposé" and leak by some retired general, CIA agent, or State Department
official — inevitably right around publication date — offers anything newer,
smarter, or much more ethical in this dark era that began on September 11. No
need to mention the media's "brave" role in all this, from the flushed-Koran
story to the supposedly "deliberate" American military targeting of
And equally important, set the right priorities for the tasks at hand, those imminent, those a bit further down the road:
What we need, then, are not more self-appointed ethicists, but far more humility
and recognition that in this war nothing is easy. Choices have been made, and
remain to be made, between the not very good and the very, very bad. Most
importantly, so far, none of our mistakes has been unprecedented, fatal to our
cause, or impossible to correct.
So let us have far less self-serving second-guessing, and far more national confidence that we are winning — and that radical Islamists and their fascist supporters in the Middle East are soon going to lament the day that they ever began this war.
As bad as some think things look now for us, things look much, much worse for those who are committed as our enemies.
UPDATE: Gateway Pundit asks that we judge Rumsfeld by his successes and failures, and then does so himself. Outstanding!
UPDATE #2: Jason Von Steenwyk has some excellent counterpoint for the criticisms of MG Batiste, et al. Best of all, a readre of us provided some press excerpts of what these Generals were saying then, versus what they say now...
Links: Wizbang, Basil's Blog, Blogotional
Friday, April 14, 2006
Today's Best on Iran
Go read it as soon as you can. It is as much must read as anything you will read on
Glenn Reynolds describes it as round-up, that’s not really true, unless you view it as a round-up of the best long term analysis on
You still here? What did I say? Go read it!
Thursday, April 13, 2006
Sidney Blumenthal opines in Salon that Bush is completely caught up in his own lies and deceit:
Bush is entangled in his own past. His explanations compound his troubles and point to the original falsehoods. Through his first term, Bush was able to escape by blaming the Democrats, casting aspersions on the motives of his critics and changing the subject. But his methods have become self-defeating. When he utters the word "truth" now most of the public is mistrustful. His accumulated history overshadows what he might say.
The collapse of trust was cemented into his presidency from the start. A compulsion for secrecy undergirds the Bush White House. Power, as Bush and Cheney see it, thrives by excluding diverse points of view. Bush's presidency operates on the notion that the fewer the questions, the better the decision. The State Department has been treated like a foreign country; the closest associates of the elder President Bush, Brent Scowcroft and James Baker, have been excluded; the career professional staff have been bullied and quashed; the Republican-dominated Congress has abdicated oversight; and influential elements of the press have been complicit.
Inside the administration, the breakdown of the national security process has produced a vacuum filled by dogmatic fixations that become more rigid as reality increasingly fails to cooperate. But the conceit that executive fiat can substitute for fact has not sustained the illusion of omnipotence.
The precipitating event of the investigation of the Bush White House --
Aside from the usual suspects, I seriously doubt anyone takes talk of ethics from a
Anyone but a rapid Partisan knows Sidney Blumenthal for who he is, and however else he may be characterized, he has no shame or remorse about elevating partisan gain over public trust, integrity, honesty, or any recognizable code of ethics. He’s a Democrat, first and foremost!
Only a hack like Blumenthal could so baldly characterize the
Bush's presidency operates on the notion that the fewer the questions, the better the decision.
This from the enabler of a constantly dissembling and prevaricating Bill Clinton?
But alas, the evil is so much more: “career professional staff have been bullied and quashed” over at Foggy Bottom. Ah yes, these career Diplomats and analysts who value talk talk talk so highly over war war war. We have seen the many warm embraces between the former Madame Secretary and her North Korean admirers.
But even that’s not all. Blumenthal warms to his topic in highlighting what he sees as the real source of all the many hysterical press reports in the Plame Flame Game:
The precipitating event of the investigation of the Bush White House --
Only, as has been well demonstrated, Joe Wilson was the liar. No evidence has been presented that refutes the long established fact that
Apparently, Saddam did not succeed in
And yet, and yet. The President is beleaguered and his popularity and approval ratings plummet. His enemies and political opponents smell blood, and see advantage and opportunity. Gone are the constraints that, until now, how held back their wrath. Now, it seems they can attack and score and pay little or no price politically.
They still have no plan, save to Really Real SecurityTM. But they sure know who and what the enemy is, and they aren’t wearing turbans in Tehran.
Links: Linked at Mudville Gazette's Open Post, Blue Star Chronicles
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