Category Archives: Iraq / Military

Petraus and Congress

Yesterday, General Petraus presented his long awaited report on progress of the surge in Iraq. All in all his report was positive regarding how things have gone. As I watched (some) of the coverage I was greatly impressed by the General and the his understanding of the realities of the War and the way in which he handled the congressmen. I am very impressed by the General, but more on that in a minute.

I have a really big problem watching our public officials or candidates on T.V. I am not a fan of most speeches by the President, I can only watch debates for at a maximum of 30 second intervals without gouging my eyes out, trying to watch congress or senate on CSPAN is as enjoyable as a root canal, and even political shows on CNN, Fox News, MSNBC, etc. drive me crazy. About the only political organization that I actually enjoy watching is British parliament, great fun. (Wouldn’t it be great to see the President (Bush or otherwise) have to constantly defend his positions against progress in the manner that the British PM does, fantastic). Anyway, the point is, is that as I was watching the coverage of the report yesterday, I was sucked in by General Petraus and completely repelled by the congressmen. Politicians drive me nuts. Every one of the congressmen questioning Petraus loves the sound of their voice. They wouldn’t shut up. It would be their turn, so they would go off on some partisan diatribe about whatever they thought about the war or Bush or whatever, they would talk for a good 10 -15 minutes then some of them would just defer their time to someone else and not ask a question. And if they did ask a question it usually had to do with political policy rather than military tactics and strategy. If I were in Petraus’s shoes I would have blown up. I would have said that they are all complete idiots, they have no idea about anything going on in Iraq, told them they were playing politics with peoples lives, and that he is the commander of American forces in Iraq, not the President.

We need to realize that most congressmen are no different than you or I, most of them are not children of privilege and many had regular jobs before getting into politics. They certainly don’t have any greater understanding of history, international affairs, or public policy than most of you who browse and read political blogs regularly. That fact is never more apparant to me than when I am watching our congressmen at work, some of them are dumb, dumb, dumb.

Anyway, let me go back to Petraus. I am convinced he is our Eisenhower, he is absolutely the right man to be in charge. In fact, I could see him running for President in 2012. I don’t know if he is GOP or a Democrat. I assume GOP because I like him and hope that’s what he is, so I would expect that if Hillary wins the presidency that the good General may well be in the thick of it in 5 years. If he is a Democrat and a GOPer (other than Romney or Huckabee) is in office, I would likely vote for Petraus and give my vote to a Democrat for the first time. He is impressive.

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The Gettysburg of the Iraq War

Every war has one battle, one location, one incident that is a turning point one way or another. Arguably , the most famous of these for our country was the Battle of Gettysburg, and the subsequent Gettysburg Address by President Lincoln in the Civil War. In today’s environment, we have been waiting for such an event in Iraq, something that will hopefully lead to victory. That event may have occured this weekend in Anbar when President Bush and nearly his entire war cabinet met with members of the Iraqi government, all of this following Iraq’s success in pacifying Anbar last year. Frederick Kagan wrote about this on National Review, it is a MUST read. I’d love to hear your comments about it.

The Gettysburg of this War

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In Praise of France

Last week France (finally) announced that it is ready to help stablize Iraq. The childish attitude of the French over the past couple years about Iraq — the “they got themselves into this mess, let them get it out” attitude at the expense of a people who desparately need all the help they can get — is finally coming to an end. It has long been my belief that Iraq needs the likes of France and the U.N to help in stablization efforts. We don’t need the French to support us (the U.S.), we don’t need the help, what we need is the French to support the Iraqi people and government. We don’t need the French to send troops or armour or bombs, feel free to leave the military efforts to us (of course we won’t complain if they want to commit troops, that would be great). But what we and Iraq needs is French moral support. Iraq needs infrastructure, investment, government consulting, and the development of their oil industry. We need the U.S. and France to stand together and say, “we differed on the need to go to war, we differed on the way to reign in Saddam and the WMD program. But what is done is done and it is time to put aside our differences and work together for the good of the Iraqi people, security of the greater Middle-east and for the World.”

So far, the adminstration of Sarkozy in France is starting out better than we Americans could have hoped. It does not look like Sarkozy will be a puppet of the U.S. but it also does not appear that he will fight us on every little thing. The best defense that the Western world will have against extremism and the rise of the East (China, Russia, and Iran) is a united front lead by the U.S., UK, and France.

All in all, things are looking up in Iraq and undoubtedly this played a large part in France’s decision. The French decision will only help to improve the economic and political situation in Iraq. The U.S. and Iraq need to welcome the French with open arms.

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Perceptions of Iraq Improving at Home

Prior to starting this blog, I like most Americans, was wavering in my support for the Iraq War. In 2002 and 2003 I was all for military action in Iraq. I, like nearly everyone in the world, believed Iraq had WMD’s, I criticized the UN for their “if you do it one more time!” routine without ever backing it up, and I believed that Saddam had to go (although I did not believe he was a direct threat to America). As the war continued and dragged on and as the media only reported the negatives in Iraq, my commitment weakened and by May of this year I was leaning towards withdrawing the troops. That all changed once I started the blog and actually started researching what was really going on. Within two weeks of doing this research I was (and still am) 100% convinced of how essential it is that we stay in Iraq and I was also convinced that the surge was starting to work and the tide was slowly changing there.

Previous columns highlighted my reasoning for such beliefs, but I was ever more frustrated. The word was not getting out to the American people. However, that looks like it is starting to change. Last week a couple of analysts from the Brookings Institution, Michael O’Hanlon and Ken Pollack (who were staunchly against the War from the beginning) said, “we were surprised by the gains we saw and the potential to produce not necessarily ‘victory,’ but a sustainable stability that both we and the Iraqis could live with.” They continued, “there is enough good happening on the battlefields of Iraq today that Congress should plan on sustaining the effort at least into 2008.” While these quotes are far from throwing support behind the war, they emphasize a current trend among the media and other observers that Iraq is not as bad as some thought. The one question I have for the above individuals is what constitutes ‘victory’? I would think that a ‘sustainable stability’ is exactly what we are looking for in order to be victorious in Iraq; a stable government that can provide basic services and freedoms and can also provide relative security from insurgents and terrorists. I think we should be looking for stability more along the lines of Morocco or Indonesia rather than Canada or Sweden (at least for the relative short term). But I digress.

Even the AP is getting in on the act. Robert Burns wrote in a column that, “the new U.S. strategy in Iraq… is working.” He further adds:

Despite political setbacks, American commanders are clinging to a hope that stability might be built from the bottom up—with local groups joining or aiding U.S. efforts to root out extremists—rather than from the top down, where national leaders have failed to act.

Commanders are encouraged by signs that more Iraqis are growing fed up with violence. They are also counting on improvements in the Iraqi army and police, which are burdened by religious rivalries and are not ready to take over national defense duties from U.S. troops this year.

Cincinnati Enquirer columnist Peter Bronson writes, “We’re winning in Iraq. Ok, I said it. It’s crazy. Stupid. Naïve. Hopelessly optimistic. And true. Something has changed, and the cut-and-run crowd in Congress did not get the memo. They insist the war is lost and we should get out yesterday. But the war has taken a turn for the better, like a patient making a sudden recovery after years on life support.”

These are just a few examples from among many articles that show that the perceptions of the current situation in Iraq is starting to change. It is very refreshing to finally be hearing good news out of Iraq.

However, the most significant sign that things are changing here at home does not come from the media but by what the people think. In a Gallup Poll released today says that, “the additional troops are ‘making the situation better’ rose to 31% from 22% a month ago. Those who said it was ‘not making much difference’ dropped to 41% from 51%. ” While the 31% and 41% numbers respectively are nothing to write home about, it does show a recent trend of increasing support for our mission in Iraq.

This current situation makes me wonder if Iraq will follow the trend of most of America’s previous wars – e.g. the Revolutionary War, Civil War, and WWII. In each of these wars we lost major battles and were struggling during the initial and early stages in the War. In fact in the Civil War, the Union was losing for the first 3 years and only Lincoln’s resolve kept us afloat. It looks like this same pattern could be what is happening for us in Iraq: early loses, strong negative public sentiment, and then, finally, victory.

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Is Obama OK with Genocide in Iraq?

Barack Obama up until now has been a strange enigma in my mind.  On the one hand, he is among the most left-wing senators in our country and I completely disagree with him on most of his policies.  On the other hand, he seems to be a genuine and honest person.  He does not seem to be overly tainted by Washington politics…yet.  And he is generally likeable and charming.   I have wondered if the race for President came down to Giuliani v. Obama, would I really consider voting for Obama?   Me, a right-wing conservative?   Well, up to last week, the answer was yes, I would consider it (though not likely).    

Anyone who reads this site fairly regularly is aware that I believe that success in Iraq is essential to U.S. national security, U.S. long-term interests, and to the preservation and rebirth of America’s image world-wide.   I have also argued that if the sole reason we stay in Iraq is for humanitarian reasons alone it would be worthwhile and justified.    So, when I read the comments of Mr. Obama on Iraq last week, you could imagine my extreme disappointment.  He essentially said that maintaining troops in Iraq for humantiarian problems and preventing Genocide in Iraq is not enough of a reason to keep our troops there

Now before I get into his justifications for this remark and my interpretation of what he is saying, allow me to interject something about what the Left (of whom he is a significant part) is suppossed to be about.   The left continually supports human rights and life, they are suppossed to be the U.S. humanitarians, they support Amnesty International, condemn U.S. actions across the world that are remotely deemed as insensitive and hurtful, and they are currently staging a large advertising campaign to raise awareness for the genocide in Darfur.  Aside from Obama’s obvious lack of understanding about the realities of the War, this is what is most disappointing in him.  He and candidates of his party should hold the line that they don’t agree with the war, they believe that political success is highly unlikely, but if only to save lives we should maintain a presence in Iraq.  Very disappointing and really causes the left to lose even more credibility.

Now, back to Obama’s specific statement.  Is he saying that the deaths of hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of people is not as important as the loss of another 1-2 thousand American lives?   That is what it sounds like to me.  Many of you may think that 1-2 thousand more American lives are not worth it, but personally I think that is sad.  In a situation like this in Iraq that we essentially created, I personally would be willing to make such a sacrifice, and when I signed my name on the dotted line to join the Military, that is exactly what I said I was willing to do. 

To emphasize his point Obama said the following:

 “Well, look, if that’s the criteria by which we are making decisions on the deployment of U.S. forces, then by that argument you would have 300,000 troops in the Congo right now—where millions have been slaughtered as a consequence of ethnic strife—which we haven’t done,” Obama said in an interview with The Associated Press.

“We would be deploying unilaterally and occupying the Sudan, which we haven’t done. Those of us who care about Darfur don’t think it would be a good idea,” he said.

What a completely stupid and asinine argument.  It infuriates me that he could be this short-sighted and moronic.  The problem with his argument is that we had nothing to do with the problems in the Congo and Sudan.   We did not cause them.  In Iraq, we are the reason the Iraqi’s are in the situation they are, for good or bad.  Al Qaeda in Iraq is there because we ousted Saddam and they see an opportunity to take advantage of the situation in attempt to earn themselves another country from which to field their operations.  We have an obligation to the Iraqi people to help them and protect them from people who commit atrocities like those AQI has committed.  We have no such obligation for Sudan or Congo.  

Further, regarding the deployment of US forces his argument is off on the wrong foot immediately.  Our troops are already deployed there for a military engagement mission.  The humanitarian crisis in Iraq is in no way the basis for our deployment there, but it should be part of the mission now that we are there.   He is right that we should not engage in war or deploy troops solely for such reasons, but that is hardly applicable to the situation in Iraq.  Thus, he has a complete lack of understanding of what is happening there and what our mission is.  Obama then added the following:

It is my assessment that those risks (of genocide) are even greater if we continue to occupy Iraq and serve as a magnet for not only terrorist activity but also irresponsible behavior by Iraqi factions,” he said.

Wow, what can I say here?  I am almost speechless. He is wrong, wrong, wrong.  If we left too early AQI, Iran, and other groups would push into Iran harsher and faster to establish a new Taliban like state, to build a new Islamic Republic, or just to gain political power at the expense of anyone who stands in their way.  These groups are not just there to attack Americans, they are smarter than that.  When they see our weakness and wavering they push harder and are more ruthless, but the one thing remotely holding them back is the presence of American troops.  For evidence of this read Michael Yon’s blog.

I am extremely disappointed in Barack.  I recognize that he is a politician and is trying to earn votes, but this is unacceptable.  Primarily because it is a poor and not-thought-out argument.  It makes him look ill-suited to serve as commander-in-chief and leader of the free world.

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Is Ron Paul just Michael Moore in GOP clothing?

“Why not Ron Paul?”  That is a question that is asked all over the web by his army of supporters.  They argue that he is the only candidate that follows the constitution and is the most honest candidate in the race.  Well, the answer to “why not Ron Paul?”  is simple: He is a scrawny, less loud-mouthed, and GOP version of Michael Moore.   On the Alex Jones radio show Paul said that America is in “great danger” of our government staging a terrorist attack to essentially provide a public diversion from Iraq.   

This completely removes any legitimacy he may have had as a GOP candidate for President.  I recognize that President Bush is not perfect and things are not well in Iraq, but there is no way the President would ever allow something like that to happen, and for a GOP candidate and congressman to enter the realm of conspiracy theorists with the likes of Moore and Cindy Sheehan makes Paul even more irrelevant than he was before.

In the interview he also added that there is “an orchestrated effort to blame the Iranians for everything that has gone wrong in Iraq.”   The first mistake Paul made here is using the word “everything,” I will give him the benefit of the doubt and assume that he only used that word because of circumstances, in the same way that many of us use it in debate forums while not actually meaning everything, but most.  If he does believe our government blames everything bad in Iraq on Iran, he simply is ignorant and unfit to lead.  The Government has said nothing more than that the Iranians are continuing to support many of the insurgents and to have an active presence in Iraqi politics.  Now, if there is one thing that I consider myself an expert on, it is Iran.   Iran has had the intention since 1979 to spread the Islamic Revolution across the world and now recognizes an exceptional opportunity to expand their influence and revolution in Iraq (and Afghanistan).  There is zero objective argument that can be made that Iran is NOT having a huge negative impact on Iraqi security and stability.   It seems to me that Ron Paul, because of his personal vitriol for Bush, has allowed emotion and irrationality to cloud his mind and as a result, will simply give Iran a pass because the Bush administration accused them of such actions. Here is betting that if the claims about Iran were first made by, say, a Jim Webb or even a Pelosi and then Bush denied it, Paul would be attacking Bush for NOT confronting the real threat, Iran.   This is what happens when people fail to look at a situation as it is and are so wrapped up in frustration and anger at Bush that they begin to believe that such a leader can do nothing right, is in an inherent liar, and thus, everthing he says is wrong no matter how right he may be.  This is where Moore, Sheehan, and Pelosi have been for at least the last 4 years and it is now where Ron Paul has gone also.

(Note: I have been planning to write a general column on Ron Paul and why I don’t support him for a while now, I will try to have that out in the next week, depending on other circumstances in the news.  Mary, I expect you to read it!)

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Wisdoms of Winston Churchill

Winston Churchill is one of the mose revered men of the 20th Century.  While not everyone thinks highly of him, most people do.  He was a steady leader for his country in a time of immense crisis in the heat of World War II.  He was a close ally with FDR and the two of them together lead the West to victory in the “Great War.”

I am by no means a Churchill historian (although we do have a common ancestor not too far back), but I respect what he was able to accomplish.  A few weeks ago I was looking for a specific quote that was attributed to him and, as a result, read many of his other quotes, a few of which are quite applicable today. So I thought I would share some of those; a nice light read heading into the weekend.

Applicable to our current political situation

“An appeaser is one who feeds a crocodile, hoping it will eat him last” — Amen to that

“I have always felt that a politician is to be judged by the animosities he excites among his opponents”  — If this is true, Bush could be the best President ever!

“It has been said that Democracy is the worst form of government except all others that have been tried.”

“It’s not enough that we do our best, sometimes we have to do what’s required.” –Terrorists seem to follow this (at least according to the rationality of their own mind)

“Men occasionally stumble over the truth, but most of them pick themselves up and hurry up as if nothing ever happened.” — Congress?

“Never, never, never believe any war will be smooth and easy, or that anyone who embarks on the strange voyage can measure the tides and hurricanes he will encounter.  The statesman who yields to war fever must realize that once the signal is given, he is no longer the master of policy but the slave of unforseeable and uncontrollable events.”  — Bush and Rummy could have used this in ’03, Dems and Libs from then on (at least the first sentence).

“One ought never to turn one’s back on a threatened danger and try to run away from it.  If you do that, you will double the danger.  But if you meet it promptly and without flinching, you will reduce the danger by half.”  — Reagan and Bush understood this.  The rest of America (or at least 71%) doesn’t.  By the way, Terrorists get it too; see Mogadishu and now AQI in Iraq.

“To build may have to be the slow and laborious task of years.  To destroy can be the thoughtless act of a single day.”  — Hence why Iraq is so difficult and why we Americans need to be more patient.

“So they [the Government] go on in strange paradox, decided only to be undecided, resolved to be irresolute, adamant for drift, solid for fluidity, all-powerful to be impotent.” — We eptomize this.

“We shall not fail or falter; we shall not weaken or tire.  Neither the sudden shock of battle nor the long-drawn trials of vigilance and exertion will wear us down.  Give us the tools and we will finish the job.”

“Never give in — never, never, never, never, in nothing great or small, large or petty, never give in except to convictions of honour and good sense.  Never yield to force; never yield to the apparently overwhelming might of the enemy.”  — Fantastic!

Some fun and perhaps inspiring ones:

“For myself I am an optimist – it does not seem to be much use being anything else.”

“I am prepared to meet my maker. Whether my maker is prepared for the great ordeal of meeting me is another matter.”

“The British nation is unique in this respect: They are the only people who like to be told how bad things are, who like to be told the worst.”  — This could be the truest thing he said!

“Don’t talk to me about naval tradition. It’s nothing but rum, sodomy, and the lash.”

“We make a living by what we get, we make a life by what we give.”

“Success is the ability to go from one failure to another with no loss of enthusiasm.”

“I like pigs. Dogs look up to us. Cats look down us. Pigs treat us as equals.”

“He has all the virtues I dislike and none of the vices I admire.”

“All great things are simple, and many can be expressed in single words: freedom, justice, honor, duty, mercy, hope.”

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