Category Archives: War

The Coming Mexican Civil War

A few months ago when Secretary Gates and the Department of Defense listed Mexico as one of the countries in the future that face destabilization. At the time the Mexican Government and many in America scoffed at the idea. But now the reasoning for DoD’s warning is becoming apparent and probably sooner than anyone expected.

Historically, Mexico’s internal problems have been with Zaptista and other rebels in in its southern provinces. While these rebels have certainly been formidable and been the occasional thorn in the Government’s side, they have been something that the Government has been able to deal with. These groups have mostly just been a cause for Rights Activists in the U.S. and elsewhere, but no big deal.

The new threat in Mexico is scary, well-funded, and a real threat to Mexico and even the SW United States. This threat is the battles between various drug cartels and their battles with the Mexican police force and government.

Over the past half-year battles have raged in northern Mexico between these cartels. People have been murdered, villages pillaged, and women raped. It has gotten so bad that Ciudad Juarez has been determined the most dangerous city in Mexico and Mexican government had to send its military into the city. What makes this scarier is that Ciudad Juarez is literally on the U.S. border and shares the Rio Grande with El Paso, TX and there are indications that these drug wars are seeping into U.S. territory with an increase in drug-related murders and other criminal activity in places along the border from Houston to San Diego.

With this recent development of the Mexican army entering Ciudad Juarez it greatly increases the likelihood of a Mexican Civil War, however hopefully this is a minor threat and will not spill over throughout Mexico. As long as the cartels can say divided against each other there is a good chance a civil war can be avoided.

The Mexican army’s best course of action may not be to stop all the violence but only to maintain law and order in its towns and cities and protect the innocents not involved in the drug trade. It may be in their best interest to allow the drug cartels to battle it out and attenuate their numbers and, hopefully, influence.

But a long-term solution to this problem with the drug trade is more complicated. Most importantly is that the government needs to ensure that it is providing opportunities for economic growth, aka in needs provide job growth. There also needs to be good local governance and infrastructure improvements. The government needs to ensure that it or peaceful entities are providing the services and security people need rather than the cartels. They must not allow the cartels to do their jobs.

For the United States the threat is certainly not as dire, but it needs to watched closely; fortunately the Obama administration is doing so. It was reported today that the administration is looking at the possibility of deploying the National Guard to the border (but isn’t that more of a Governor’s decision?). Certainly there are political considerations to be made here, we don’t want to be “occupying” our own territory with the military. Nor do we want to get directly involved militarily with an internal Mexican struggle aside from perhaps providing equipment and logisitical support to Mexico’s army.

Nevertheless this situation needs to be watched closely and our media and people need to take this more seriously. How can there be such a major crisis right on our border, but no one seems to know or care? This threat in Mexico is both among the most serious facing U.S. Foreign Policy and also one of the best opportunities for us and Mexico to counter the drug trade and to help Mexico along in its next step towards modernization. Remember it wasn’t until the 1990’s that Mexico became a democracy, they still have a long way to go.

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Filed under Barack Obama, War

Obama, Biden, and America’s Victory in Anbar

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Yet again the American (and international) media are completely ignoring a major, major story about Iraq to talk about something far less relevant, in this case, the pregnancy of Bristol Palin’s baby. What story are the missing and failing to report on? The turn over of Anbar province from American forces to Iraqi control.

This is the best and greatest news to come out of Iraq since the announcement that Saddam Hussein was caught. But you won’t find anyone talking about. We all know why they aren’t reporting it, so I spare you the rant, but what should be highlighted over and over again as this election season goes on was how utterly and completely wrong Barack Obama and Joe Biden were on the surge in Iraq.

Both of them (and their whole party) predicted that sending an additional 20,000 troops to Iraq would do nothing but make things worse and keep America in Iraq for eternity. How wrong they were. Because of the surge and General Petraeus’ strategy, plans are in place for American withdrawal, casualties (for both Americans and Iraqis) are the lowest they have been since the beginning of the war, Prime Minister Maliki has established a relatively stable and functioning government, and the Iraqi people are able focus on living their life and building their economic stability. If we had followed the recommendations of Obama and Biden, America would have failed miserably and lost the war completely; Iraq would be another Somalia. Just watch these to hear what Obama and Biden said about the surge:

Barack Obama

Joe Biden

Look, I don’t fault people for being wrong, I am wrong all the time. But at least admit it. At least live up to being wrong. The most frustrating thing about these comments, is that it demonstrates a supreme lack of judgment and objectivity. Joe Biden has been wrong on almost every major foreign policy decision since he began his stint in the Senate, yet Barack Obama chose him as a running mate because of Joe’s foreign policy experience.

The fact is President Bush was right about the surge. Regardless of what you think about the overall war or why we went in there in the first place (which is really completely irrelevant to the current situation) you have to admit that Bush and Petraeus have done a stellar job with the surge. Undoubtedly that one unpopular and politically risky decision saved Iraq and America’s efforts there. The implementation of this strategy and Bush’s “must win” attitude reminds of what my Drill Sergeant’s would tell us in basic training, “The fastest way out of here is to graduate.” Why was it the fastest, because if you screwed up, got hurt, became ill, you would be stuck there until you straightened up or got better. The same applied in Iraq, the fastest way out of Iraq is to win; and that is exactly what is occurring.

And for all of you who always asked the asinine question, “what defines victory in Iraq?” This defines victory in Iraq, or at least this is the teenage version of victory in Iraq. Victory in Iraq is a country that is relatively free, democratic, and can stand on it’s own two feet. That is what is being sewn now. Victory.

I also posted this at swint.instablogs.com

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Filed under Barack Obama, Conservative, Democrats, Election 2008, George Bush, Iraq, John McCain, War

4,000 Deaths

In the last day U.S. deaths in Iraq has reached a milestone mark of 4,000.   While any death of a U.S. person, soldier or otherwise, is sad and unfortunate, this number should be a sign of the incredible ability of our military.  When taken in context of previous wars and years in country, 4,000 is an extremely low number and is laudable. 

We invaded Iraq five years ago this month.  We are averaging about 800 deaths per year.   That is nothing in the scheme of things when one analyzes War on a macro and historical scale.  Now I need to interject here and recognize that this is not “nothing” to those whom have lost a son, daughter, friend, sibling, etc.   The death of one of their own is very personal and painful and my heart goes out to them.

Nevertheless, this number is not a sign of abject failure and destitution.  On the contrary, it is a sign of success and is demonstrative of the incredible quality and ability of our military and their medical staff.  War is an awful and terrible thing.  There is nothing to like about it, yet it is sometimes a necessary thing.  We can go back and forth arguing over the merits of this particular war and why we are there, but ultimately, what it now comes down to for the troops on the ground is protecting themselves and the soldier at their side and ensuring a measure of hope and freedom for the Iraqi people.  They are doing a great, great job and, if we stand by them, will ultimately stablize Iraq enough to leave without Iraq turning into another Somalia.

Undoubtedly, today and this week, all the news will be about the 4,000 deaths.  The President will be attacked, McCain will be attacked, the war will be criticized, Obama and Hillary will promise to bring the troops home immediately.   We Americans love to get riled up and react to every talking point in the most negative way possible without ever thinking things through and trying to understand what the issue actually is telling us.  So let’s give some context to 4,000 deaths:

  • 1968 was the deadliest year of the Vietnam war, they had 16,592 deaths.  Four times more than we have in this war in five years
  • In the 3 years of the Korean War, the United states lost 36,516
  • In June 1944 in the Battle of Normandy, WWII, the United States lost 1465 people.  About 1/3 the number we have lost in 5 years of Iraq.
  • In the Battle of Gettysburg there were about 8,000 dead in three days of fighting.

The only war we have had with less casualties was the the Gulf War in 1991.  That spoiled us and set our expectations way too high as a people and caused us to have unrealistic expectations for the military and caused us to forget the realities of war. 

I recognize that the way we fight war today is different from the past, nevertheless, the numbers are telling.  It tells us that the money we spend developing new and smart weaponry, protecting our soldiers, and investing in continued R&D is paying off.  It tells us that our soldiers are more sophisticated and skilled with better leadership than at anytime in our history. 

All in all, things are not great in Iraq, but they are not dire either.  And regardless of what we all may think of why we went to war or the justness of it, it would be evil and disgusting if we pulled our troops out now only to allow Iraq to fall into utter chaos, ruled by vicious gangs and tribes – basically allowing Al Qaeda in Iraq to run rampant.  Instead of complaining and attacking our government and military for 4,000 deaths in five years, we should be remorsely impressed that there has ONLY been 4,000 deaths in this war, a war that consisted of invading a foreign country and occupying hostile territory for five years.  That is an impressive feat.  I applaud our Military, of which I am part, for their bravery, patriotism, and dedication to duty.

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Filed under Election 2008, International Affairs, Iraq, John McCain, Military, Politics, Republicans, War

Memo to Pres. Bush: Be Wise with Iran

President Bush,

Currently you are riding somewhere between 30% and 39% in approval ratings among the American public, some fairly recent polling has had you as low as 24%. This is nothing to write home about. The cause of this demise stems from alleged mishandling of Iraq and New Orleans, GOP corruption, Harriet Miers (what was that?), and various other small missteps along the way. Throughout the last 4 years of challenging times for you, I am proud to announce that I was one of those 24% and am still one of the 39%. I can’t say that I was not without my doubts in your administration, certainly there were tough times of trying faith, however I have stood by you and apparently so have many more people and some have even started to jump on your bandwagon. The new Iraq strategy provided by Petraeus is providing you more political capital, the complete ineptitude of the democratic congress has largely overshadowed any issues you have had, and the race for the 2008 election is starting to take the front page stories… in short, things are looking up for you and your legacy.

But don’t screw it up! You are starting to scare me with much of the Iran rhetoric of late, statements from within the Administration (as well as my favorite GOP Presidential candidate) are sounding very much like the rhetoric leading up to the Iraq war in 2002-03. Resorting to force in Iran too soon is the worst thing you could do and would completely ruin your legacy. I understand you want to be doer for good in the world, but this is not the way to go about it. I agree with you that Iran cannot have nuclear weapons, there is no arguing that here. I also agree that Iran is actively pursuing such weapons (as demonstrated by the appointment of hardliner Jalali as the new nuclear negotiator for Iran). However, there is still plenty of time to try diplomatic or, perhaps, other subversive means to quell their quest.

It is obvious that the Ayatollah and Jalali will play the diplomatic game for as long as possible.  They will string us, the UN, and the IAEA along as we try to talk through the issue, all the while developing weapons under our noses. Most conservative pundits and Israel would argue that this is enough to justify a strike. It is not, at least not yet. You have not tried everything, or you have not put enough time into some strategies.

First, continue with severe diplomatic pressure and sanctions. The latter of these will have minimal impact as Russia and China will completely ignore them, but it is the point that matters. Press the UN for more action and insist that the IAEA get unfettered access to all Iranian sites. Basically, do everything you have done up to now.

Second, and most importantly, use what you already have in place to your advantage. A couple of years ago in your state of the union address, you spoke to the Iranian people and gave them your support. Your policy has been to support opposition groups inside and outside of Iran. This is what you are not doing enough of. You need to realize how unique the Iranian people are. About 75% of the Iranian public is under the age of 30, meaning they do not remember the revolution of 1979. It is not personal to them; they don’t have the revolutionary spirit. A majority of these young people despise their government and want a new democratic on in its place. A good percentage even like the U.S. and support you. Do you realize how much power this gives us in Iran? But don’t be foolish into thinking that you cannot lose that support. The Iranian people are also very proud and nationalistic. They still relish in the Persian Empire that was around in 500 BC, they despise being called Arab and Middle-Eastern. An attack on their country from an outsider, regardless of one’s intention will ruin all good will. They will turn to their government and uphold them. Why waste such an opportunity with a premature attack.

You have massive amounts of troops in countries on both of Iran’s eastern and western fronts, you have a large Navy contingent in the Persian Gulf and the Indian ocean. All of this gives you a significant show of force. Additionally, you have the Kurds and Iranian internal opposition groups; your greatest weapons. The Kurdish areas in norther Iraq are, for all intents and purposes, autonomous and doing well economically. This allows them some freedom of movement and shows that they are capable enough for strategic involvement. Northwestern Iran has a province called Kurdistan and is full of Kurds, who would like nothing more than to overthrow the Islamic Republic. Further south in Ahwaz you have Arabic opposition groups, while these groups are likely not pre-disposed to like us, they will likely take our support against the mullahs. Use them. There are Baluchi opposition groups in SE Iran and other Persian groups throughout the country that you can use to our advantage. And, finally, there are moderates in the government that will quitely support you. Perhaps people like former President Khatami.

You have so much opportunity for positive peaceful, or not-so-peaceful but at least without American intervention, change. Do not even consider going to war until these options have been exhausted. Even if there is a violent revolution in Iran like in 1979, at least the Iranian people were the ones to do it. They will be personally invested in it and will hopefully take care to uphold a new democratic government. That is one of the struggles in Iraq, the people don’t own it; it was not their revolution. Do you think the American revolution would have been as strong had France fought our battles for us? Of course not, revolutions are always more successful when brought on by the people themselves. Even if it is with foreign support. Remember the Iranian people are smart, educated, and sophisticated compared to most of the rest of that region. They are not Iraq. It is a whole new ballgame.

In closing, President Bush, I implore you to be wise here. Do not ruin another possibility for change in the Middle-East. I will not support you in a war with Iran without a dire, dire need, and there is not anywhere near enough evidence yet. As of now I predict that in the long term your Presidency will be remembered as one of the best and most influential. It will be Trumanesque – despised in office, yet revered 50 years later. A pre-mature attack against Iran will ruin that.

Steven Swint, Editor-in-Chief

Dry Fly Politics & Mitt Report

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Filed under Afghanistan, Air Force, Anti-War, Army, Conservative, Democracy, Election 2008, Hillary Clinton, Iran, Iraq, Liberal, Liberalism, Military, Mitt Romney, Navy, Politics, Progress, Progressive, Republicans, terrorism, War

Myanmar Exemplifies Catch-22 for World Powers

 

The recent history and current situation in Myanmar is among the most tragic in the last century.  It ranks right up there with Sudan, Lebanon, Iran, Iraq, Zimbabwe, and North Korea among others.  But Myanmar’s, like Lebanon and Zimbabwe in some ways, is not tragic because of Genocide, for we are far from that, but it is tragic because of the fall of a culture and productive country.  Prior to the rise of the military Junta in 1990, Myanmar was fairly democratic and was a “shining star” in SE Asia.  They had a strong economy and a great and historical culture.  It is among the most beautiful countries in the world and has incredible architecture, and now it is all thrown away.  The military Junta, like all military controlled governments, will eventually turn the country into a garbage pile. 

The events of the last two weeks have been fascinating and frustrating to watch.  What a great sight it was to see thousands of Buddhist monks and their supporters stage massive protests against a repressive regime.  At the height of the protests I wondered how the Junta would handle it.  They could ill afford a Tiannanmen Square incident.  The military leaders had to know that mass killings of monks would cause massive outcry in the world community, an outcry that may force the world to act with stronger muscle than usual.  Monks are the human embodiment of peace and oneness, regardless of if you believe in buddhism or not.  They come across as pure, pious, and innocent, the world would not stand for well-publicized mass killings of such a people.

 Sadly, the Junta was aware of this and played their hand extremely well.  They allowed the protests, allowed the people to get most of it out of their systems and then instituted curfews and prohibited gatherings of people; pretty standard for authoritarian states.  Once the media and world attention lessened a bit the violence started, first just in short bursts – nothing more than a few beatings and occasional killing of an out of hand protester.  But the Junta had a larger plan.  They new that the real problem were the monks, the people were loyal to the monks and would follow them.  So what how do you keep power if you don’t have loyalty?  You make people fear you.  And that is just what they did.  Over the last few days the Military cleared the monasteries and temples of monks that were the harbingers of the protests and killed many of them in brutal fashion.  Reports are that thousands have been massacred

Why is there no outcry? no outrage?  Because the American public no longer cares.  It was exciting and fun to watch for a day or two, but we lose interest in world events pretty quick.  Why concern ourselves with different looking people in a land that exists somewhere in the world called Myanmar when we need to find out if Britany is losing her children.  And because there is no public outrage there is no government action.

But then again what are Western governments supposed to do?  This is the same catch-22 that we have in dealing with Sudan, Rwanda in the ’90’s, Congo, etc.  We have no vested interest in these countries.  We have limited resources.  Because of international accords, we are expected to respect the territorial rights of a country, etc. etc.   Myanmar is no threat to the U.S., no threat to Britain or Germany or France; militarily or economically.  Not only that, but China is a close ally of the Junta.  If we press to hard on Myanmar, we may have to deal with China.  What if China decides, because of our actions against their ally, that they are going to fully reclaim Taiwan militarily.  Then we have world war.  Certainly this scenario is unlikely, but not out of the realm possibility.   On the other hand, don’t countries like us and France and Britain who have freedom and democracy at least supposed to stand for human rights and protect those who can’t protect themselves?  We have an obligation almost.  How can we stand by and allow a mini (or perhaps soon to be major) genocide occur, regardless of the circumstance behind it.   This is the catch-22 for our country.   Usually, in these situations we deal with it through sanctions or other economic penalties. But all this does is hurts the people who are already being oppressed.  Sanctions can only work if all major countries are on board, but with China supporting the junta, they are a waste of time and will only draw Myanmar closer to China.  The currently policy against Myanmar is not working and will not work unless we get China on board, which won’t happen.  Unfortunately, I don’t know what the solution is (although I have a few ideas).  But that is the job of the policy makers and they will probably screw it up.  

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Filed under Britain, Burma, Democracy, Democrats, Election 2008, International Affairs, Justice, Law, Military, Murder, Myanmar, People, Politics, Republicans, Terror, terrorism, War

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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Filed under Afghanistan, Air Force, American History, Anti-War, Army, Congress, Conservative, Democracy, Democrats, Election 2008, Iraq, Iraq / Military, Liberal, Liberalism, Marines, Mike Huckabee, Mitt Romney, Republicans, Romney, Terror, terrorism, War

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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Filed under 9/11, Afghanistan, Anti-War, Congress, History, International Affairs, Iraq, Iraq / Military, Media, Military, Navy, Politics, Terror, terrorism, War