December 30, 2004
Saddam’s main defense against a US attack was not a conventional military response. It wasn’t a WMD response either, although that was what he had threatened and US forces had expected, much to their discomfort. Saddam’s ultimate strategy was to lie low until the American military had swept through Iraq and then respond using terrorist tactics perfected by Islamic and other terrorist movements over the last half century. That strategy found willing allies in Al Qaeda and the various terrorist organizations linked to it.
America had demonstrated its strategic weakness in Vietnam and across the Muslim world from the 1970s through 9/11, i.e., inflict enough American casualties and American public opinion, shaped by MSM outlets reporting all the bad news and nothing but the bad news, will demand a withdrawal.
But, while Saddam’s guerilla war has had MSM pundits and its Democrat allies screaming “quagmire” and “Vietnam again”, the reality is that Saddam’s forces and allies have already been ground down to a point of no return.
Had Kerry, the ultimate exemplar of a “withdraw no matter what” strategy, won in 2004, then the US would have withdrawn from Iraq as shamefully as it withdrew from South Vietnam. But that would not have helped the Baathists and their Al Qaeda allies. They would then have faced the wrath of the Kurds, the Shiites and the Sunni tribes that suffered under Saddam. The rules of engagement that the US scrupulously observes would have been ignored. Merely belonging to the wrong Sunni tribe would bring retribution.
The result: a short but bloody war that the bad guys and any Sunnis remotely associated with them would not live through.
But Bush is determined to create a civil society in Iraq. Defeating the bad guys, and just the bad guys, while pouring billions of dollars into Iraqi infrastructure will lead to a better outcome for all Iraqis. The average Sunni should be thankful that Bush is in charge.
Unlike South Vietnam, there is no North Vietnam army, backed by the Soviet Union and Communist China, poised to takeover when America bails out. That is the fundamental flaw in Saddam’s strategy.
December 29, 2004
This Guardian report hints at the catastrophe near the epicenter:
Aceh, on the northern tip of Sumatra, was the area most devastated by the tsunami, which struck coastal communities from Somalia to Thailand on Sunday, killing an estimated 70,000 people. Indonesian soldiers and rescue crews have found at least 3,400 bodies in Meulaboh, which is 90 miles from the epicentre of the 9.0 magnitude earthquake.
“Today, so far, 3,400 bodies have been found in Meulaboh. Eighty percent of the buildings are wrecked,” the chief security minister, Widodo Adi Sutjipto, told reporters.
Three quarters of the western coastline of Sumatra island has been destroyed, with some towns being totally wiped out in Sunday’s disaster, a military official said. “The damage is truly devastating,” said Major General Endang Suwarya, the military commander of Aceh province, who toured the coast by helicopter today.
Link from Instapundit in case you missed it.
December 28, 2004
According to Radical Islam’s propaganda outlet, Aljazeera:
Usama bin Ladin has called for a boycott of next month’s elections in Iraq and endorsed Abu Musab al-Zarqawi as his deputy in the country, according to an audiotape broadcast by Aljazeera.
Airing parts of bin Ladin’s speech on Monday, the message condemned the 30 January elections to elect a national assembly that will draft a new constitution.
“In the balance of Islam, this constitution is infidel and therefore everyone who participates in this election will be considered an infidel,” he said.
“Beware of henchmen who speak in the name of Islamic parties and groups who urge people to participate” in the election.
He also described al-Zarqawi as the “amir” of al-Qaida in Iraq and called upon Muslims there “to listen to him”.
Bin Ladin added his al-Zarqawi announcement was “a great step on the path of unifying all the mujahidin in establishing the state of righteousness and ending the state of injustice”.
Bin Ladin knows that transforming Iraq into a working democracy will be a major defeat for the forces of Radical Islam. His strategy is to create enough mayhem there that the US public will demand a withdrawal. The MSM’s war against Bush and its consistent reporting of all the bad news and nothing but the bad news from Iraq is making Bin Ladin’s much easier.
Thankfully, Bush is standing firm. Nothing demonstrates that more than his support for Rumsfeld.
QandO has more thoughts on Bin Ladin’s speech. Desperation comes to mind.
December 26, 2004
The first reports on the attack suggested that it was a rocket and/or mortar attack. This report was typical:
Days before the hardened dining hall was scheduled to be completed, a 122 mm rocket slammed into the tent at Forward Operating Base Marez near Mosul where hundreds of troops were sitting down to lunch.
Twenty-two Americans were killed, including 20 Americans, said Army Capt. Brian Lucas, a spokesman for U.S. military headquarters in Baghdad. The toll included 15 military service members and five civilians, as well as two Iraqi security force members. More than 60 were wounded, including U.S. troops, civilian workers and Iraqi soldiers.
It turns out that the attack was carried out by a suicide bomber. Horrific as the attack was, it would have been worse had it happened in a reinforced bunker. The ceilings and walls of the bunker would have reflected the force of the blast and the shrapnel would have ricocheted, causing further casualties.
The American people can thank the Palestinians for the design of attacker’s suicide vest. The technology had been tested on Israeli civilians and has spread to other Muslim terrorist groups. How long before such attacks are launched on American soil?
December 23, 2004
Charles Krauthammer is Jewish, but he appreciates Christmas.
I personally like Christmas because, since it is a day that for me is otherwise ordinary, I get to do nice things, such as covering for as many gentile colleagues as I could when I was a doctor at Massachusetts General Hospital. I will admit that my generosity had its rewards: I collected enough chits on Christmas Day to get reciprocal coverage not just for Yom Kippur but for both days of Rosh Hashana and my other major holiday, Opening Day at Fenway.
His prayers were answered this year and, likely, Hell froze over.
I love Christmas and I’m not religious. For me, it is a time for appreciating the gift of family and friends, and a time to reflect on Christ’s message of brotherly love. It celebrates the birth of Christ and the great religion that bears his name. I don’t have to believe in his divinity to appreciate that his message has been a force for good in this world.
It so happens that other religions have holy days in the general vicinity of Christmas. But there are no holy days for non-believers. Some of them feel left out and sue if they see any reference to Christianity in a public setting. Maybe they’d all calm down if they had their own holy day. Let’s give them Boxing Day. It’s a British thing which translates into another day off after Christmas. It’s close to Christmas so they can share in the holiday season along with everybody else.
But don’t say “Happy Holidays” to them, or they’ll sue. Holiday is a contraction of Holy Day and that’s obviously religious and should never be used in public. Oops to all those PC types who’d rather we said “Happy Holidays” than “Merry Christmas”.
So here’s my proposition. We give all the non-believers Boxing Day as their (un)holi-day off. The quid pro quo is they lay off of Christmas and everyone else’s holy days.
December 22, 2004
Chateau Cardboard has been around for decades since those cunning Aussies figured out how to put reasonable plonk in plastic bags. But better wine still comes in bottles. Unfortunately, natural corks have a nasty habit of spoiling the wine. Irradiation would kill the moulds that cause the spoilage but consumers have been scared off that technology by greenie scaremongering. That leaves the wine industry with a major problem: up to 10% of bottles are off.
So we are seeing new techniques being used to solve the problem. Screw caps work well, but they still have a down-market image. Think Thunderbird. Plastic corks are another approach. Sometimes they are harder to get out than natural corks. On the other hand, they never break or crumble. There’s nothing worse than straining a good wine through a coffee filter because the cork disintegrated.
The latest Aussie innovation is the Zork. It’s a reusable plastic stopper held on by an easily removed plastic seal. The stopper is made of a flexible plastic. Pushing it in causes it to flex and seal the bottle. It comes out again with a nice little pop. We found it used on a nice little Aussie Cabernet made by Red Knot.
Best of all, it’s not Spanish or French (got to get the political angle in there).
December 21, 2004
… but the Left’s War against President Bush.
It seems the Left is following Saddam’s strategy – lose the big war (the election) but fight a rearguard war of attrition to wear down the victor, destroy the morale of his supporters and bend him to your will.
The latest battle zone has been Donald Rumsfeld. The strategy is to force Rumsfeld’s resignation and thus undermine the President. When Powell left and Rumsfeld stayed, the Left opened fire on Rumsfeld. Their battle opened with a salvo of columns and editorials deriding Rumsfeld for conducting the wrong war in the wrong way.
The Humvee armor hoax helped sustain the initial attack. Never mind that it was a hoax; the MSM sensed blood and pushed the story as if it was all Rumsfeld’s fault. As that story ran out of steam, the Left tried a variant of their previous line of attack — focus on U.S. casualties and Rumsfeld’s role. First it was wanting to photograph the flag draped coffins. Now it’s the Autopen controversy. Hindrocket at Power Line deals with that issue by quoting a letter from a military father. Here’s a snippet:
Sec Rumsfeld doesn’t need to take time from his day to sign a form letter of condolence and he certainly doesn’t need to take time to figure out what the LCpl was doing when he was killed or what kind of a man he was. His job is to make sure the LCpl didn’t die in vain and that only as few LCpl’s as possible will have to die to end this war in a successful manner.
Don’t get me wrong, we would appreciate the condolence letter from the SecDef, as well as one from the White House and from our Senator and Representative, from the Mayor and Governor. But none would bring back our son. And they are all form letters, signatures be damned. A letter from his 1stSgt, from the men we know in his unit would be a treasure and a comfort.
The other line of attack is to criticise the treatment of captured terrorists. The Left conveniently forgets that the enemy does everything that the Geneva conventions prohibit. 2slick reprints an important speech by Haim Harari, a theoretical physicist. On the evil of the enemy, Harari asks:
Do you raid a mosque, which serves as a terrorist ammunition storage? Do you return fire, if you are attacked from a hospital? Do you storm a church taken over by terrorists who took the priests hostages? Do you search every ambulance after a few suicide murderers use ambulances to reach their targets? Do you strip every woman because one pretended to be pregnant and carried a suicide bomb on her belly? Do you shoot back at someone trying to kill you, standing deliberately behind a group of children? Do you raid terrorist headquarters, hidden in a mental hospital? Do you shoot an arch-murderer who deliberately moves from one location to another, always surrounded by children?
Islamic terrorists are unlawful combatants under the Geneva conventions. In my view, they forfeit their human rights when they fly civilian aircraft filled with civilians into civilian buildings; when they drive suicide car bombs into crowds of Iraqi school children; when they hack the heads off civilian workers; when they fake surrenders; when they booby-trap bodies; when they sabotage every effort to build a better life for ordinary Iraqis. But the Left would prefer we not dwell on the evil of the enemy but rather focus on the mishaps that can be blamed on Bush and his team.
The usual gang of terrorist sympathizers can always be rounded up to paint all US actions as violations of terrorist’s human rights. The lowest of the low are the anonymous leakers feeding the NYT and WPO with every damaging memo that comes their way. If none come their way the more enterprising write their own to leak. Then we have Amnesty International, The International Red Cross, Human Rights Watch, the ACLU and the rest telling the world that the US is a fascist dictatorship because sometimes terrorists are not treated very nicely. Of course, when the US is nice and releases some of them, they go back to their old terrorist ways. It would have been more effective in the calculus of human lives lost to have shot the lot instead.
The Left’s war on Bush is having an impact. People who see none of the good news and all of the bad news every night on every news channel and every front page will understandably come to believe it’s a losing battle. We humble bloggers have our work cut out for us. Thank God for the Wall Street Journal making blogger Chrenkoff’s Good News from Iraq a regular feature.
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