White Christmas

Merry Christmas to all.


US Intelligence Services, or Lack of

by Claude Moniquet (a former field operative for the French foreign intelligence service and current head of the European Strategic Intelligence and Security Center.) in today's WSJ
The citizens of the free world have nothing to worry any more -- America's spy masters have recovered their missing crystal ball. No fewer than 16 U.S. intelligence agencies have just told us that the Iranian nuclear program really is not so dangerous. According to the National Intelligence Estimate, Tehran has, for reasons yet to be explained, supposedly stopped the military plank of its atomic research.

Before rolling out the peace banners, though, it's worth looking at the agencies' track record in getting these sorts of "estimates" right. As a matter of fact, U.S. intelligence services have so far failed to predict the nuclearization of a single foreign nation. They failed to do so with regard to the Soviet Union in 1949, China in 1964, India and Pakistan in 1998, and North Korea in 2002. They also got Saddam's weapons program wrong -- twice. First by underestimating it in the 1980s and then by overplaying its progress before the 2003 invasion. But on the possible nuclearization of a regime that sounds fanatic enough to use this doomsday weapon, the NIE, contradicting everything we have heard so far about the issue, including from a previous NIE report, is suddenly to be trusted?


Lets Say Thanks

From my girlfriend Jenni:

"Something cool that Xerox is doing

If you go to this web site, Lets Say Thanks you can pick out a thank you card and Xerox will print it and it will be sent to a soldier that is currently serving in Iraq. You can't pick who gets it, but it will go to some member of the armed services.

How AMAZING it would be if we could get everyone we know to send one!!! This is a great site. Please send a card. It is FREE and it only takes a second.

Whether you are for or against the war, our guys and gals over there need to know we are behind them..."


Trans-Atlantic Relations

From today's WSJ editorial page
In France "Sarkozy l'Américain" went from a derisive nickname to a compliment in the six months since his election. Speaking openly of his admiration for the U.S., the new President works closely with Washington on Iran, Kosovo and other issues. He vacationed in New Hampshire this summer. His moving address to a joint session of Congress last week sealed the rapprochement. Then this weekend, Chancellor Angela Merkel paid the first visit by a German Chancellor to the Bush ranch in Crawford to talk about Iran's nuclear program.

So Monday night, in his first major speech on foreign policy since moving into 10 Downing Street, Mr. Brown sought to out-Sarkozy the Frenchman. "It is no secret that I am a lifelong admirer of America," he said in London. "I have no truck with anti-Americanism in Britain or elsewhere in Europe. I believe that our ties with America -- founded on values we share -- constitute our most important bilateral relationship." In noting the recent pro-U.S. tilt across the Channel, Mr. Brown said, "It is good for Britain, for Europe and for the wider world that today France and Germany and the European Union are building strong relationships with America."


A Death in the Family

On a drive to Fort Knox, Kentucky, and again shortly before shipping out from Fort Bliss, Texas, Mark had told his father that he had three wishes in the event of his death. He wanted bagpipes played at the service, and an Irish wake to follow it. And he wanted to be cremated, with the ashes strewn on the beach at Neskowin, Oregon, the setting for his happiest memories of boyhood vacations. The first two of these conditions had already been fulfilled. The Dailys rather overwhelmed me by asking if I would join them for the third one. So it was that in August I found myself on the dunes by an especially lovely and remote stretch of the Oregon coastline. The extended family was there, including both sets of grandparents, plus some college friends of Mark's and his best comrade from the army, an impressive South Dakotan named Matt Gross. As the sun began to sink on a day that had been devoted to reminiscence and moderate drinking, we took up the tattered Stars and Stripes that had flown outside the family home since Mark's deployment and walked to his favorite spot to plant it. Everyone was supposed to say something, but when John Daily took the first scoop from the urn and spread the ashes on the breeze, there was something so unutterably final in the gesture that tears seemed as natural as breathing and I wasn't at all sure that I could go through with it. My idea had been to quote from the last scene of Macbeth, which is the only passage I know that can hope to rise to such an occasion. The tyrant and usurper has been killed, but Ross has to tell old Siward that his boy has perished in the struggle:
Your son, my lord, has paid a soldier's debt;
He only lived but till he was a man;
The which no sooner had his prowess confirm'd
In the unshrinking station where he fought,
But like a man he died.

This being Shakespeare, the truly emotional and understated moment follows a beat or two later, when Ross adds:
Your cause of sorrow
Must not be measured by his worth, for then
It hath no end.

A worthy read in totality.
As well as this article, which complements the above nicely.
The brilliance of U.S. army and marines officers has not been fully appreciated. I met scores with PhDs and MAs, from Majors to Colonels, who are literally all at once trying to defeat al Qaeda gangs and Shiite militias, rebuild government facilities, arbitrate tribal feuds, repair utilities and train Iraqi army and police....As a military historian I know that an army that can’t take casualties can’t win, but I confess after spending 16-hour days with our soldiers in impossible conditions one wonders whether the entire country of Iraq is worth the loss of just [one] of these unusual Americans. I understand both the lack of logic and perhaps amorality in such a sweeping statement, but feel it nonetheless out here


Free Speech

Certainly the right to political free speech should be protected and respected. Columbia University uses this plank to stand on in its invitation of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and Hitler can only exemplify the foolishness of those who believe ideas and dialogues can mollify those bent on violence and persecution.

While i will respect the right of the Devil to talk, i would be damn stupid to invite him to talk.


Global cooling?

Arctic sea ice might have started rebuilding after reaching a record low, according to the National Snow and Ice Data Center. Arctic ice now covers 1.61 million square miles, the agency said yesterday, up from 1.59 million Sept. 16, which appears to be the minimum. Some variability could still occur, however, the agency cautioned. The Northwest Passage between the Atlantic and Pacific oceans along the coasts of Canada and Alaska remains open but is starting to refreeze, the center said.


Cancer survival without universal health coverage in the US

As i have always believed, patients in the US have access to some of the best care in the world, regardless of their insurance status.
Last month, the largest ever international survey of cancer survival rates showed that in the U.S., women have a 63% chance of living at least five years after diagnosis, and men have a 66% chance -- the highest survival rates in the world. These figures reflect the care available to all Americans, not just those with private health coverage. In Great Britain, which has had a government-run universal health-care system for half a century, the figures were 53% for women and 45% for men, near the bottom of the 23 countries surveyed.

A 2006 study in the journal Respiratory Medicine showed that lung cancer patients in the U.S. have the best chance of surviving five years -- about 16%. Patients in Austria and France fare almost as well, and patients in the United Kingdom do much worse with only 5% living five years. A report released in May from the Commonwealth Fund showed that women in the U.S. are more likely to get a PAP test every two years than women in Australia, Canada, New Zealand and the U.K., where health insurance is guaranteed by the government. In the U.S. 85% of women ages 25-64 have regular PAP smears, compared with 58% in the U.K.

The same is true for mammograms. In the U.S., 84% of women ages 50-64 get them regularly, a higher percentage than in Australia, Canada or New Zealand, and far higher than the 63% of women in the U.K. The high rate of screening in the U.S. reflects access as well as educational efforts by the American Cancer Society and others.


Senator John Warner of Virginia

Senator John Warner recently announced that the US should start withdrawing troops from Iraq in order to stimulate the government of Iraq to undergo political reconciliation. This is just plain ignorant. Firstly, he spoke out of turn, as President Bush had already declared no decision would be made until General Petraeus gives his report. What could possibly possessed Warner to think that whatever he has to pontificate on will trump Petraeus' report? Secondly, the current Iraqi government is not in touch with the current situation on the ground. The current Iraqi government is Shia dominated resulting from the Sunni's foolish decision to boycott their national election 3 years ago. The biggest contributions to the stability of Iraq, in order are: the US forces, the various Sunni Salvation councils (having turned against Al Qaeda in Iraq) and our steady allies the Kurds. The greatest internal threats to Iraq’s stability in order are: al Qaeda in Iraq closely followed by the various Shia militias, many of whom have representatives in the current Iraqi government. It goes without saying that the greatest external threat to stability in Iraq is Iran. Thirdly, there are significant portion of the current Iraqi government interested in ethnic cleansing of the Sunni. The proposed statement by Warner with a troop withdrawal is a go ahead for the ethnic cleansing to start.

Thus it pleases me greatly that Warner has decided not to run for re-election. Good riddance!

Regarding stability in Iraq, we need to continue our effort to firstly provide for security and equally work to turn more Sunni and Shia toward national reconciliation from the ground up rather than rely on the current government. We should keep up the effort at least until the next national election in Iraq.



All who wants to give up on the Surge only after it just begun are political opportunists and cowards. Those who argue you cannot impose democracy but are not willing to walk away from an elected government at a time when their own citizens are turning away from terrorism are hypocrits. From the Times Online:
“Al-Qaeda’s days are numbered and right now he is scrambling,” said Lieutenant-Colonel Stephen Michael, who commands a battalion of 700 troops in Doura.

A key factor is that local people and members of al-Qaeda itself have become sickened by the violence and are starting to rebel, Lieutenant-Colonel Michael said. “The people have got to deny them sanctuary and that is exactly what is happening.”

Al-Qaeda informants comprise largely members of the Doura network who found themselves either working with the group after the US-led invasion in March 2003, or signed up to earn extra cash because there were no other jobs going. Disgusted at the attacks and intimidation techniques used on friends, neighbours and even relatives, they are now increasingly looking for a way out, US officers say.

“It is only after al-Qaeda has become truly barbaric and done things like, to teach lessons to people, cut their face off with piano wire in front of their family and then murdered everybody except one child who told the tale afterwards . . . that people realise how much of a mess they are in,” Lieutenant James Danly, 31, who works on military intelligence in Doura, said.

It is impossible to corroborate the claims, but he said that scores of junior al-Qaeda in Iraq members there had become informants since May, including one low-level cell leader who gave vital information after his arrest.

“He gave us dates, places and names and who did what,” Lieutenant Danly said. When asked why he was being so forthcoming, the man said: “Because I am sick of it and I hate them, and I am done.”

Working with insurgents – even those who claim to have switched sides – is a leap of faith for both sides. Every informant who visits Forward Operating Base Falcon, a vast military camp on the southern outskirts of Baghdad, is blindfolded when brought in and out to avoid gleaning any information about his surroundings.

The risk sometimes pays off. A recent tip-off led to the fatal shooting of Abu Kaldoun, one of three senior al-Qaeda leaders in Doura, during a US raid last week. “He was turned in by one of his own,” Colonel Michael said.

Progress with making contacts and gathering actionable information is slow because al-Qaeda has persuasive methods of keeping people quiet. This month it beheaded two men in the street and pinned a note on to their corpses giving warning that anyone who cooperated with US troops would meet the same fate.

The increased presence of US forces in Doura, however, is encouraging insiders to overcome their fear and divulge what they know. Convoys of US soldiers are working the rubble-strewn streets day and night, knocking on doors, speaking to locals and following up leads on possible insurgent hideouts.

“People in al-Qaeda come to us and give us information,” said Lieutenant Scott Flanigan, as he drove past a line of fruit and vegetable stalls near a shabby shopping street in Doura, where people were buying bread and other groceries.


Tribe America

The lastest dispatch from Miachel Yon:
The big news on the streets today is that the people of Baqubah are generally ecstatic, although many hold in reserve a serious concern that we will abandon them again. For many Iraqis, we have morphed from being invaders to occupiers to members of a tribe. I call it the “al Ameriki tribe,” or “tribe America.”

I’ve seen this kind of progression in Mosul, out in Anbar and other places, and when I ask our military leaders if they have sensed any shift, many have said, yes, they too sense that Iraqis view us differently. In the context of sectarian and tribal strife, we are the tribe that people can—more or less and with giant caveats—rely on.

Most Iraqis I talk with acknowledge that if it was ever about the oil, it’s not now. Not mostly anyway. It clearly would have been cheaper just to buy the oil or invade somewhere easier that has more. Similarly, most Iraqis seem now to realize that we really don’t want to stay here, and that many of us can’t wait to get back home. They realize that we are not resolved to stay, but are impatient to drive down to Kuwait and sail away. And when they consider the Americans who actually deal with Iraqis every day, the Iraqis can no longer deny that we really do want them to succeed. But we want them to succeed without us. We want to see their streets are clean and safe, their grass is green, and their birds are singing. We want to see that on television. Not in person. We don’t want to be here. We tell them that every day. It finally has settled in that we are telling the truth.

Now that all those realizations and more have settled in, the dynamics here are changing in palpable ways.

Warning: the whole post is worth reading but there is a horrific recounting within his post about what al Qaeda might have done there.


Loose Lips: BBC

From the Telegraph in England.
Politicians reacted in disbelief to the revelation that for over two hours yesterday, the BBC News website carried a request for people in Iraq to report on troop movements.

At least this reveal the stupidity of the BBC. At most, it reveals their willingness to aid and abet the enemy.

Be Not Afraid

Be Not Afraid

You shall cross the barren desert, but you shall not die of thirst.
You shall wander far in safety though you do not know the way.
You shall speak your words in foreign lands and all will understand.
You shall see the face of God and live.

Be not afraid.
I go before you always;
Come follow me, and I will give you rest.

[From a prayer card I found on a base in Anbar Province, Iraq.]

a must read from Michael Yon

Thoughts flow on the eve of a great battle. By the time these words are released, we will be in combat. Few ears have heard even rumors of this battle, and fewer still are the eyes that will see its full scope. Even now—the battle has already begun for some—practically no news about it is flowing home. I’ve known of the secret plans for about a month, but have remained silent.


Iraq and Syria

More and more i wonder how successful our endeavors in Iraq will be if we continue to wage a 4 front war. The first front is for political stability in Iraq. Stability, not control. The second front is the destabilizing interference from Iran. While a lot of attentions of late have suggested a military action is imminent against Iran, I believe this is unlikely. The third is the home front, and here I believe the Bush administration has done fairly poorly convincing the American public of the need to take the fight to the enemy and of winning in Iraq. The fourth front is Syria. Like its patron Iran Syria is actively trying to destabilize Iraq. In addition, Syria, also funded by Iran, is also trying to destabilize Lebanon and Israel.

Given that Iraq is surrounded on two fronts with hostile forces, Iran and Syria, success in Iraq cannot be had until either Syria or Iran is confronted. I believe Syria to be a better target than Iran. Firstly, Syria is surrounded by friendly forces: Iraq, Turkey, Lebanon, Israel, and Jordan. Secondly allied military forces are available to assault Syria in terms of Israel. Syria should thus be tempted to tip its hands militarily either against Lebanon or Israel. Israel should be allowed and encouraged to counter militarily. It is also conceivable that French forces could be sent to secure Lebanon. Thirdly, the size and terrain of Syria is more amenable to military action. Fourthly the military lessons learned from the Iraq invasion and occupation could be better applied to Syria than Iran. Iran also has oil, unlike Syria, and more negative publicity will result in "another" war for oil.

The Assad regime needs to go. Only once Syria is removed as a hostile force can and should Iran be confronted. Only once Iraq is more stable can Iran be confronted, and this won't happen as long as both Syria and Iran are hostile. Syria is an easier and better target. Iran is also a more difficult target in its own right. Iran is a much larger territory and has more difficult terrain. Iran's population is larger. And its military forces more fanatical. In addition, Pakistan is currently too unstable for there to be instability and turmoil in Iran as well.

Once Syria is removed, stability and democracy can encompass the entire Mediterranean part of the Middle East.


Subversion: Demoralization

HT: Belmont Club:
Former KGB agent and Soviet defector Yuri Bezmenov explains how the KGB worked from within American universities to demoralize our society in a generation. (Pajamas Media)

I do believe that continued influx of immigrants and refugees from former communist country slows down the demoralization subversion of America. It is interesting to me how, as one such immigrant, i view the foolish ideologies of some Americans as an selfish and ignorant result of too much freedom. Yet this suggests that this outcome was by designed by America's enemies.


Thought for the Weekend

Since the start of the war in Iraq, 170,000 people have died in car accidents in America. Remember to buckle up.

Source: WSJ

G8: Bush & Global Warming

Previously I have reported on Bush's green home. I find this article from WSJ fairly amusing in how credit is rarely given where it is due when it comes to Bush.
There's been a capitulation on global warming, but it hasn't happened in the Oval Office. The Kyoto cheerleaders at the United Nations and the European Union are realizing their government-run experiment in climate control is a mess, one that's incidentally failed to reduce carbon emissions. They've also understood that if they want the biggest players on board--the U.S., China, India--they need an approach that balances economic growth with feel-good environmentalism. Yesterday's G-8 agreement acknowledged those realities and tolled Kyoto's death knell. Mr. Bush, 1; sanctimonious greens, 0.

Not that the president's handling of the climate issue has been stellar. The science of global warming is still unsettled, yet Mr. Bush in 2002 caved and laid out a voluntary emissions-reduction program. Instead of getting credit, he's spent the ensuing years getting shellacked for not doing more. This has laid the groundwork for today's calls for mandatory curbs that would harm the economy. It's also given Washington an excuse to re-micromanage the energy sector. Think ethanol.

But compared with Kyoto, Mr. Bush's vision has been sublime. The basic Kyoto philosophy is this: Set ever lower mandatory targets, ratcheting down energy use, and by extension economic growth. The program was viewed by environmentalists and politicians as a convenient excuse for getting rid of unpopular fossil fuels, such as coal. In Kyoto-world, governments exist to create draconian rules, even if those dictates are disguised by "market" mechanisms such as cap-and-trade.

President Bush's approach is opposite: Allow economies to grow, along the way inspiring new technologies and new forms of energy that lower C02 emissions. Implicit is that C02-control technologies should focus on energy sources we use today, including fossil fuels. In Bush-world, the government is there to incentivize industry, coordinate with it, and set broad goals.

Take your pick. Under the vaunted Kyoto, from 2000 to 2004, Europe managed to increase its emissions by 2.3 percentage points over 1995 to 2000. Only two countries are on track to meet targets. There's rampant cheating, and endless stories of how select players are self-enriching off the government "market" in C02 credits. Meanwhile, in the U.S., under the president's oh-so-unserious plan, U.S. emissions from 2000 to 2004 were eight percentage points lower than in the prior period.

Europeans may be slow, but they aren't silly, and they've quietly come around to some of Mr. Bush's views. Tony Blair has been a leader here, and give him credit for caring enough about his signature issue to evolve. He began picking up Mr. Bush's pro-tech themes years ago, as it became clear just how much damage a Kyoto would do to his country's competitiveness. By the end of 2005, he admitted at a conference in New York that Kyoto was a problem. "I would say probably I'm changing my thinking about this in the past two or three years," he said. "The truth is, no country is going to cut its growth or consumption substantially in the light of a long-term environmental problem." He doubted there would be successor to Kyoto, which expires in 2012, and said an alternative might be "incentives" for businesses. Mr. Bush couldn't have said it better.

Or consider nuclear plants. President Bush has pushed hard for more nuclear, with its bountiful energy at zero C02 cost. This was long anathema to British and German politicians, whose populations are virulently anti-nuke and who balked at any official recognition of nuclear benefits. As Kyoto has ratcheted down other energy sources, nuclear has looked better. By 2005, the G-8 document out of Gleneagles contained an explicit acknowledgment that nuclear energy mattered. The EU's energy pact, signed earlier this year, also contained a nod to nuclear. Europe has also gone from trying to banish coal, to using tech to make it cleaner.

Then there's Mr. Bush's insistence that any "global" program must include big emitters such as China and India (Kyoto doesn't). Though it received little press, the U.S. in 2005 started the Asia-Pacific Partnership, a voluntary climate pact between it and Australia, Japan, South Korea, China and India. Unlike Kyoto--in which a government sets a national target for emissions, and then forces a few unlucky industries to make cuts--the Partnership gets industry execs from every sector across the table from relevant government ministers, and devises practical approaches to reductions. This parallel diplomatic approach has proved far more acceptable to countries like China, and played a role in that country's own recently released climate plan.


Lebanon 6: Lebanon

Last summer the Lebanese government had the opportunity to reassert its territorial integrity when Israel invaded. Back then I suggested that the Lebanese crush Hezbollah by providing an anvil to the Israeli hammer. Afterward, arrangement could have been made with Israel to make it appear that it was the Lebanese army that was driving south that led the Israeli army to withdraw. The Lebanese government either chose not to act, or was unable to act (more likely). All the more pity in that unfinished business will always reassert it self as new business. The "insurrection" by the Palestinian refugee and terrorist are clear example of this. At least the Lebanese government is now acting. I hope not too late.

Previous posts:
Lebanon 2
Lebanon 3
Lebanon 4
Lebanon 5


Memorial Day

It has been over three weeks, almost four, since i have posted. Personal life has been hectic. But not so much as to forgo a post to honor those who have served, served and die and serving still, to safeguard this nation.


Global Warming: Mars

Someone should tell the Martians:
Scientists from Nasa say that Mars has warmed by about 0.5C since the 1970s. This is similar to the warming experienced on Earth over approximately the same period.

Since there is no known life on Mars it suggests rapid changes in planetary climates could be natural phenomena..


Personal Defense 2

I went with the PX4 this weekend but has yet to fire it. But i did take it apart and put it back together, which i believe important to do prior to shooting a gun. One of the reason i went with the PX4 was the fact that it was easier to take down and field strip than the S&W MP, as well as for its aesthetics. However, it is a full size pistol so i intend to keep it for home defense. Thus for personal defense i am contemplating this FNP-9M:



So far the popular focus has been on the obvious tragedy of so much senseless slaughter of innocents and on the insanity of the perpetrator. When we move on from here it will be about whether it could have been prevented and how a repeat can be prevented.
That there will continue to be those who are and or pursue insane acts is a given.
That these offenders will access items to magnify their actions is also a given, whether it be using a car on a crowded sidewalk, a gun in a lecture hall, a blaze in a cafeteria, or a bomb in a crowded market.
Neither of these can be prevented regardless of rules, laws, and regulation. This does not even touch upon the impact of these rules, laws, and regulation will more likely impact and restrict sane and law abiding citizens than the criminal and insane.

But rather than accept futility and victimization there remain possible actions for consideration. Given the opportunity to defend ourselves when faced with imminent threat of death, certainly we all would take steps to defend ourselves. We just need the means to equalize the force threatening us. I am not suggesting that everyone be armed. But I do believe that those with the knowledge and familiarity of firearms, and having been deem safe from sound mind and lawful enough to have a license to carry firearm, be allowed to do so in public places deemed reasonable by each state legislature.

I wish someone at VT had been armed and willing to stop the masacre. That there were those who willingly risked their lives so others could escape demonstrate the "willing to stop the masacre" was not the limiting step. It was the absence of arms except in the hands of a madman.


Personal Defense

If anyone has personal comparisons between these two, let me know. The first is a Beretta PX4, the second is a Smith & Wesson MP.

The smaller version of the Smith & Wesson MP is below (Obviously pics are not to scale)



The first is just too amusing not to pass on:
Nancy Pelosi Wins British Sailors their Freedom AND Peace in the Middle East

"Your emminence," Nancy purred with a slight genuflect. "I bring word from Prime Minister Olmert that Israel is ready to --"

"Die?" exclaimed Assad, his long, llama-like neck undulating with excitement. "Committ mass suicide and burn in hell like the Jewish pig dogs they are? Nancy, you red hot monkey woman, you!! I KNEW you could do it!"

"Actually," the saucy Speaker continued, "I was going to say that they are ready to talk peace."

"Oh," he sighed. "That's good, too...I guess. So will this "peace" you speak of result in more dead Jews?"

"Doesn't it always?" Nancy replied with a wink.

"Right-o!" The President chirped. "And you actually got Olmert to sign on to this peace thing?"

"It was his idea," Nancy answered. "But he'd like something in return. Perhaps a gesture to the West that the road to Damascus truly is paved with - "

"Dead jews?" Assad interrupted, his tiny, tick-like head suddenly poking through the dark clouds of gloom.

Nancy smiled diminutively. "I was going to say 'peace' again, Señor Presidente."

"Say no more, snookums!" Assad sprang out of bed and grabbed his special hotline to Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. "Moo Moo, Baby! It's me, Bashar! I got Nancy over here and - yes, she still likes to hog all the blankets! Anyway, about those guests of yours..."

Hours later, the 15 British guests of the Iranian People bid a fond adieu to their gracious hosts - no worse for the wear, but perhaps a little fatter, a tad bit tanner, and greatly indebted to the diplomacy skills of our very own Nancy Pelosi.

The second is just to ponder:
How do you tell a Communist? Well, it's someone who reads Marx and Lenin. And how do you tell an anti-Communist? It's someone who understands Marx and Lenin.

- Ronald Reagan


Captured Alive

From Bill Roggio:
Al Qaeda in Iraq and their network of suicide and car bomb cells have been the greatest threat to security in Baghdad, particularly since the implementation of the Baghdad Security Plan. Suicide attacks are aimed at Shia neighborhoods and markets in an attempt to reignite the sectarian murders, as well as at security forces in an attempt to break the will of the Iraqi police and soldiers. Over the past five days, Iraqi and U.S. forces have put a big dent in the leadership of a suicide and car bomb cell in Adhamiyah, as well as an al Qaeda leader in Abu Ghraib.

It always fascinates me that the leaders of the "insurgents" would allow themselves to be captured alive rather than going out with a "bang" like the suicide/martyr attacks they've ordered of others.


Journey from the Fall

I saw this trailer this morning. From the movie's web page:
"The Americans have broken their promise. They have left us."
(Long Nguyen, South Vietnamese resistance fighter)

Inspired by the true stories of Vietnamese refugees who fled their land after the fall of Saigon—and those who were forced to stay behind, Journey From The Fall follows one family’s struggle for freedom.

April 30, 1975 marked the end of Vietnam's two-decade-old civil war and the start of the exodus of hundreds of thousands of refugees. Despite his allegiance to the toppled South Vietnamese government, Long Nguyen (as Long Nguyen) decides to remain in Vietnam. Imprisoned in a Communist re-education camp, he urges his family to make the escape by boat without him. His wife Mai (Diem Lien), son Lai (Nguyen Thai Nguyen) and mother Ba Noi (Kieu Chinh) then embark on the arduous ocean voyage in the hope of reaching the U.S. and freedom.

Back in Vietnam, Long suffers years of solitary confinement and hard labor, and finally despairs that his family has perished. But news of their successful resettlement in America inspires him to make one last desperate attempt to join them.

As the comparison between Vietnam and Iraq are so common now a day, and that history seems to be repeating itself with the Democrats trying to force a withdrawal of US Troops by both legislative means and funding cuts, this seems particularly pertinent as no one has really talked much about what happens once the US leaves.


Cut and Run

. . . as the Khmer Rouge closed in on the capital city of Phnom Penh in early April 1975, the United States offered a number of Cambodian officials a chance to escape. The reply addressed to the U.S. ambassador by Sirik Matak, a former Cambodian prime minister, and reprinted by Kissinger in full, is one of the more important documents of the entire Vietnam-war era.
Dear Excellency and Friend:
I thank you very sincerely for your letter and for your offer to transport me towards freedom. I cannot, alas, leave in such a cowardly fashion. As for you, and in particular for your great country, I never believed for a moment that you would have this sentiment of abandoning a people which has chosen liberty. You have refused us your protection, and we can do nothing about it.

You leave, and my wish is that you and your country will find happiness under this sky. But, mark it well, that if I shall die here on the spot and in my country that I love, it is no matter, because we are all born and must die. I have only committed this mistake of believing in you [the Americans].

Please accept, Excellency and dear friend, my faithful and friendly sentiments.

Immediately after the Khmer Rouge took Phnom Penh, writes Kissinger, Sirik Matak was shot in the stomach and left to die over the course of three days from his untreated wounds.

From Powerline


Anti-War is not Pro-Defeat

In a related follow-up to my previous post regarding the American public attitude comes this article from the WSJ's Opinion Journal:
In mid-January an Associated Press-Ipsos poll found that public support for President Bush's troop surge increased to 35%, up from 26% a few weeks earlier. The same poll found that a slim majority of Americans were against the war in Iraq, but 68% said they opposed shutting off funds to fight it, and 60% said they would oppose Congress's withholding funds necessary to send additional troops.

The American public is aware that sacrifices are occasionally necessary to achieve costly goals. I do not believe the American public is shying from the War in Iraq because of the human toll it is exacting. I believe the American public is shying from the War in Iraq because of the lack of apparent progress. In 2004 G W Bush was re-elected because there was visible sign of progress as demonstrated by the then recent elections. What the American public wants is Victory.
To confuse the current American public anti-Iraq sentiment as a go ahead for withdrawal is a mistake and for politicians not to appreciate the American desire for victory can be politically costly:
Arguably, waffling on the war is what is costly for Republicans. In June Rep. Gil Gutknecht, a Minnesota Republican, cautioned other Republicans not to go wobbly. A month later he went wobbly himself. After returning from Iraq, he declared that the U.S. lacked "strategic control" of the country and called for a limited troop withdrawal to "send a message" to Iraq's government. In November the six-term congressman watched independent voters abandon him as he lost by more than 5% to Democrat Tim Waltz. Meanwhile, in a neighboring congressional district, Rep. John Kline, another Republican facing a stiff challenge for his seat, didn't waver. He ended winning enough support from independents to defeat FBI "whistleblower" Colleen Rowley by 16%.

Over in the Senate, Joe Lieberman recently warned that a showdown on the war between the executive and legislative branches risked creating a "constitutional crisis." But perhaps his most powerful political statement is still being in the Senate after losing a Democratic primary last year to antiwar activist Ned Lamont. The antiwar left is powerful enough to prevail in a Democratic primary, but even in deeply blue Connecticut, it wasn't capable of winning a statewide general election.


Counter Counter Insurgency

A fascinating article from the Belmont Club suggesting that the current Iraqi Surge is more than just troops on the ground.
If so then the US has truly achieved a subtlety and lethality beyond anything available in the days when firing hundreds of cruise missiles at a target was the only available response; back when it had a walnut-sized brain full of options. But then the recent destruction of a Qods bus in Iran by representatives of al-Qaeda may be another example of the changed "rules of engagement" made possible by new capabilities. Although this is speculative, various commentators like Bill Roggio have expressed the opinion that just maybe the US was behind the carbomb attack on the Iranian special forces. All of this raises the tantalizing possibility that a qualitative change in US warfighting has arrived in theater -- much like the arrival of Hellcats, VT fuzes, computing sights and radar -- silently transformed the Pacific in 1944. To a casual observer the ships looked the same as they did in 1942 but they were radically different. Who knows?

Essentially it is about fighting fire with fire, against both the insurgency in Iraq and their supporter Iran. Unfortunately, the US can never publicly claim responsibility for any of these successes, which still leaves an image problem at home. And at home the image of Iraq remains one of quagmire as presented by the Democrats and the MSM. All this despite the shifting desire of the American public for Victory rather than "redeployment." From the Investor Business Daily:


Democracy: Right and Left

I recently had a conversation that helped to clarify the conflict between the Right/conservatives and the Left/liberals. I believe that in a free democracy such as that of the US, the Left will always maintain an edge. This is because they are strong advocates of the individual in terms of freedoms and benefits. What individual would not find more personal freedom, more personal benefits more appealing, especially if someone else pays for it? The gist of the Left's appeal is undeniable and difficult to counter; I do not know if the Right has the right stuff. The Right/conservatives have consistently place their emphasis external to the individual in either principles of morality or the needs of the community (both of which are entwined of course.) How much appeal can these ideals carry unless an individual comes to appreciate sacrifice and selflessness (traits typically only manifesting with parenthood, at best). That as individual we must also act with some consideration of our community.

Where the Left proposes freedom, the Right proposes responsibility. In a free democracy both qualities are essential. Perhaps we are in a natural ebb of responsibility but it sure seems our popular culture appear to be gushing with personal freedom and a bit short on responsibility.


Ex-President Carter Shameful Activities

A must read from Commentary Magazine. Here is sample:
When the scramble for the Democratic nomination began, Carter was widely seen as a long shot. But by the time the primary season was half over, he had left the other, better-known Democratic contenders in the dust. That he was able to compete with them at all—that is, to raise money and enlist volunteers—owed to the national exposure he had received for his inaugural address as governor of Georgia in 1971. At that time, with much of the South still clinging to Jim Crow and resisting the nation’s new civil-rights laws, Carter had boldly declared that “the time for segregation is over.”

Yet the path that led him to that dramatic moment was a tortuous one, known to few outside of Georgia, and it shed light on the man who five years later would be promising voters across the country: “I will never lie to you.”

Carter ran for governor of Georgia against Carl Sanders, who had served in the post previously, earning a reputation as one of the early “Southern moderates.” (Georgia law prohibited serving two terms consecutively.) In the campaign, Carter presented himself as, in his words, “a local Georgia conservative Democrat . . . basically a redneck.” This formulation was calculated to convey a message about his stand on racial issues: a message of resistance to racial integration, if not of out-and-out racism. He reinforced the same message by making a campaign stop at a whites-only private school, and by promising to invite Alabama Governor George Wallace, the champion of segregation, to address the state legislature.

Topping it off was Carter’s reaction when, as a result of the Democratic gubernatorial primary, Lester Maddox emerged as his running mate. Maddox, a restaurateur and Sanders’s successor as governor, had gained notoriety by distributing to the customers of his whites-only establishment ax handles with which to batter any blacks who might seek to be served there. Carter took the pairing in stride, characterizing Maddox as “the essence of the Democratic party.”

But no sooner had he won office than he executed his remarkable shift on race, a move that landed him on the cover of Time as the apotheosis of the “new South” and made him a nationally recognized figure. The cause of this about-face is still a matter of conjecture. Since he was barred from running for re-election, it is possible that he was already weighing a presidential run and thinking in terms of a national audience. Or he may have long harbored liberal views that he had deliberately concealed. In any event, one of his associates later explained that it was Carter’s way to “run conservative and govern liberal.” He was soon to put that formula to use again.


California Health

Newly re-elected California Governor Schwartzenegger is proposing universal health care for all Californians,laudable aim. However, he proposes to fund this by levying a 2% tax of doctors and 4% tax on hospitals. This is ludicrous, akin to demanding shop keepers and owners to give away items to their customers.

Once indigent care was the norm for all practicing physicians. But when third party payers became prevalent in the healthcare economic scene, this flow of free care started drying up. With this new tax it will only hurt those who are already currently provide for indigent care. Physicians who do so already make less income than those who do not. This is an ilconceived and idiotic plan, and will cause more harm than good.

See also Terminatorcare


Insomnia in the New Year

Too much tea i guess.

I'll just take the opportunity to take my blog into 2007 and wish everyone a happy new year!