November 29, 2005

Another Useful Resource

Filed under: — Chap @ 10:03 am

Via Insta, a Strategy page tutorial on how to propagandize. Infowarriors in defensive ops take note…

Update: Enrevanche makes an excellent point. The article itself is flawed, as its examples are pretty hamhanded and could more successfully been replaced by real examples or ones that didn’t try so hard to make political points. To compensate Enrevanche adds some excellent links.

Oldie But Goodie

Filed under: — Chap @ 12:06 am

This Bruce Bawer essay came up again in a blog post–for the wrong reason, but at least the commenter did remind me of the essay. Title: “Hating America”. It’s a bit like a chapter of Jean-François Revel’s book Anti-Americanism in essay form. Worth a look.

November 28, 2005

Canadian Government Falls…

Filed under: — Chap @ 10:53 pm

Film at 11.

I thought getting Trent Lott in trouble was big, but this? At least Captain Ed, who broke a Canadian AdScam gag order to reveal massive corruption, didn’t get to the Tim Horton’s donuts. Wonder if Ed had anything to do with Cunningham’s resignation and guilty plea, too?

On The Head Of A Pin

Filed under: — Chap @ 9:37 pm

Google Image search for

“Withdrawal Resolution Wording”

Yeah, yet another Murtha post, this one because Bad Bob said I should.

I saw two counterarguments during the debate of last week’s resolution.

  1. This Resolution Isn’t What Murtha Proposed
  2. We Don’t Have Time To Debate

The second one is silly on its face. No time to debate? In how many years?

The first one, though, seems to have captured the attention of Alfred Glenstein (a new blogger, from the looks of it). He’s got a long comment here, I think a hit-and-run rebuttal, followed by a few hundred words on my part. Glenstein is unhappy that I think “immediate withdrawal” and “withdrawal at the earliest practicable date” have the same political-military effects. One point of mine:

Immediate withdrawal was not only Murtha’s words during his PR blitz but also the crux of the House argument. The difference between “earliest practicable” and “immediate” is not large enough to change the actions of our enemy if we cut and ran, unless the definition of the “practicable” is stretched to the Bosnian “out by Christmas” level of untruth. The true difference in phrasing is negligible; any small scale difference in withdrawal time would be actually worse for the country in the “practicable” wording because any delay just allows our guys on the ground to watch the bloodletting start without the ability to help. It is imperative in the decision calculus of the enemy to understand we won’t go away just because the job is hard–see Osama bin Laden’s discussion of Somalia in his declaration of war for why. The resolution voted upon was a ‘call’ move; a ‘put up or shut up’. The two feeble counters to the resolution (”different from Murtha’s” and “not enough time to debate”) didn’t wash.

Oh, and by the way, the guys on the ground in Iraq do have a pretty good idea of which Iraqis are ready and which ones are next and where they’re being stood up and trained. You can read about this, but it doesn’t seem to appear in many newspapers. I guess you just have to check the milblogs.

I have talked about this Murtha guy entirely too much lately. Time for something else, I think.

November 27, 2005

An Archival Opportunity

Filed under: — Chap @ 9:36 pm

When the US declassified the Verona archive we learned things like how we really knew the Rosenbergs were spies. We learned much more right after the Wall fell down and Western archivists gathered what knowledge they could before the Russians reasserted a more draconian control over their documents.

Looks like the Poles are opening up some archives, too. And there’s a can of worms opened too in terms of relations with the Russians.

This should be interesting. Speak any Russian? Or Polish? You may want to do a little traveling–might want to talk to the historians who have learned from the fall of the USSR first, though, just to know what to look for…

Cliff May’s Two Cents

Filed under: — Chap @ 9:28 pm

He’s much more polite and much more charitable than I have been about Murtha. I do not want to say that having a debate such as last week’s was a good thing because of my own certainty and bullheadedness, but perhaps it was.

A Bit Of Optimism

Filed under: — Chap @ 8:36 pm

Y’know, even when things look kind of rough, bright spots appear.

Like when the amateurish cable channel comedy thing with bad pacing doesn’t always snark in my direction. Usually it’s like Sunday’s Ann Telnaes cartoons as described by Roger:

Arrogance, Ignorance, Smarminess, Haughtiness, Condescension, Entitlement, and Puffery.

So. I never knew the truth about 1861. Via enrevanche, here’s the video.

Thank goodness someone‘s speaking Truth To Power. Even if the power’s been dead for a while.

November 26, 2005

Note To Any Forward Thinking Chinese Military Types Out There

Filed under: — Chap @ 2:17 am


Every time I get to talking with one of the Chinese governmental types (which isn’t often, and not military types) I mention to them the Bill Gertz versus Tom Barnett theories of Chinese military buildup.

I mention that GDP spending is unknown for Chinese military but a guess from anywhere around greater than, say, six percent feels about right. (Thumbrule: 3-5%GDP : sustaining size; 5%+ : building up; 3%- : drawing down; spending ~1% : becoming militarily irrelevant. Hard to calculate in a closed society with weird GDP calculations.) Naval deployments are being made further out. Arms sales are being made in more places. More aggressive statements are being made by officials. New types of ships are coming out, more capabilities, and it’s cheaper and easier to copy someone’s tech to catch up than it is to develop that tech in the first place. Lots of complementary moves globally in sync with the military ops. (One link here, but I cannot tell whether it is accurate or not.)

Back to my discussion. I mention some folks on the US side are worried. We see the global trends and the resource trends and some of us remember that China wasn’t always the same size it is now. That’s not even considering the current regime’s recent acquisitions, like Tibet. Some Americans I have met have very little trust in the Chinese government, although some have made their living working there.

The question then becomes: Why should we believe your words, China government person, when your government’s actions don’t appear to match, and when your own people can’t reasonably believe you?

See, we don’t quite freak out like this on other countries on the ascendant. Japan’s 1980 boom resulted in lots of alarmist books and such but things worked out okay–and we were military allies, so no big deal. France, with whom we have often squabbled, has nuclear weapons on ballistic missile submarines and we don’t freak out about those on a constant basis. Other countries have growing capabilties and we’re not as forceful about being worried as we do with China. One reason we are calmer is something I mentioned before–after some time having those weapons and learning about diplomatic effects of nuclear-capable statements, a country’s language and action get a little different. The other reason is that we know that within a range of believeability, that we can pretty much trust France to do what it says it will do.

You heard me. I said France. We argue and there is a wide difference in positions and attitudes but we’ve managed to figure some of this compatibility thing out. We know where not to trust them; they know where not to trust us, pretty much.

Unfortunately, this trust is hard to build from where we are today. Our American national attitudes toward the Chinese administration is more informed by what the Chinese administration is doing to its own people, the people they supposedly are serving. It’s happening in public health where SARS managed to kill a whole lot more people because of dictatorial suppression of information and denial that bad things might happen. It’s happening today, when a vast environmental disaster is badly covered up–you kill your own people and lose your own assets and don’t learn from it. Look at the Japanese and Minamata–they learned and got better at their environmental practices nationally. Do they have a Clean Air Act? I don’t think so. Are they better off than China environmentally, and not just because their society is aging? I would say clearly yes. This failure to rapidly seize upon failure, publicize it, and correct it will hurt you. One way it hurts you is that when we see these botched coverups (which are easier to see outside of China than in China), we lose our trust in what you’re saying to us.

I’m not merely asking this question out of some uppity moral position. There are three ways this should bother you, the Chinese government person.

  1. So far, open and free societies beat the other ones in efficiency and production, even when the unfree country can quickly catch up to the free society by stealing or leveraging the cost of being the first one to pay for the R&D. This happens partially because even a person growing away from centrally managed economies in the terms of “to grow rich is glorious” cannot perform as well overall with those restrictions on freedom. Japan and Singapore and Korea have had to move away from their more restrictive societies, not because those wily Americans were mean and made them do so, but because it works better. Hayek works. Your dissidents come here and do pretty well–you’re losing some useful people to your society that way.
  2. It takes much more effort to suppress dissent than it does to co-opt it. Our weirdoes are noisy, and they sometimes become millionaires–but the market works on them as well and bad ideas don’t tend to win. The extra effort to crush people you don’t like saps your own progress.
  3. We, the big loud arrogant Americans, have a chaotic foreign policy. You can win being more slow than us–for instance, how Taiwan got tossed out of the UN, a slow effort that achieved a Chinese goal–but your effort has to be done sensitively. If you come up against the Jacksonian tradition you invite some serious damage that you’d rather avoid. The military moves China has been making could be slipped under the American attention radar, but weren’t–and China has not been as subtle a player in this arena as it could have been. Bottom line: Scare us and we get itchy. You’ve just recently begun to realize the problems inherent in stoking nationalism to keep the fervor going–stoking ours isn’t too helpful either in times of crisis.

As a military man I look at capabilities and weapons systems. I have a harder time looking at economic links and personal ties and which Taiwanese moguls live in Shanghai because that takes a different skill set from the standard issue military skill set. If one looks at apparent spending on building new capabilities that match expanded reach, at moves using that military consistent with not just assertive statement of interests but also placing markers that appear consistent with expansionist moves, and discussions and actions from officials that match not just a China ascendant but a China aggressive militarily, then one can conclude that there is something that one must counter. Which means that we’ll spend more with you in mind and place more time thinking about China as moving away from co-existence to threatening our existence, never mind moving from co-existence to co-operation to trustworthy allies.

I’ve played the Prisoner’s Dilemma game, and right now I see China forcing both of us into the “uncooperative” decisions.

There are other ways to succeed.

Without benzene in your water.

This feeling of being on the horns of a dilemma is, I think, the reason that Secretary Rumsfeld went to China last month and gave a speech at the Academy of Military Sciences in Beijing. This speech is worth study because of its focus: Rumsfeld here is talking directly to the young guys. He’s doing a single point version of what Barnett crows about doing continuously: getting his point across to the people young enough to more easily consider a new concept. And perhaps not coincidentally Rumsfeld’s putting across the same message I’ve been putting across.

The United States welcomes the emergence of a peaceful and prosperous China that is a responsible partner in the international system. We value our countries’ relationship, recognize the challenges, and believe that success in our relationship will require both cooperation and candor.

One area where more information would be helpful would be on China’s military. For example, China appears to be expanding its missile forces, enabling them to reach many areas of the world, beyond the Pacific region.

Such improvements in China’s strategic strike capability give cause for concern, particularly when we have an incomplete understanding of such developments.

Many countries with interests in the region are asking questions about China’s intentions.

Clearly, it is for the Chinese government to decide on its plans and programs and to also decide the extent to which it wishes to provide clarity about its intentions. But it is also true that clarity would generate greater certainty in the region.

To the extent that defense expenditures are considerably higher than what is published, neighbors understandably wonder what the reason might be for the disparity between reality and public statements.

The second half of this speech talks about how modernization is of course good, and how America’s doing this too, but the transparency is the thing.

(It is perhaps instructive to compare Rumsfeld’s speech against that of his predecessor Cohen. Cohen’s 1998 speech sounds a bit like a guy in a tie going all Keanu: “Whoa.” By 2005 we’ve learned enough in the building to be able to clarify what we need to say.)

I Think This Guy Gets It

Filed under: — Chap @ 2:15 am

Never heard of this guy before. He’s the Congressman the other side put up against Murtha in the debate before the “cut’n’run” vote.

Guess I should have.

“I spent 29 years in the Air Force – served in Korea and Vietnam… and spent seven years as a POW in Vietnam – more than half of that time in solitary confinement.

“I know what it’s like to be far from home – serving your country – risking your life – and hearing that America doesn’t care about you… Your Congress doesn’t care about you. Your Congress just cut all funding for your war. They’re packing up and going home – and leaving you here.

“When I was a POW, I was scared to death when our Congress talked about pulling the plug that I would be left there forever.

“I know what it does to morale – I know what it does to the mission – and so help me God, I will never, ever let our nation make those mistakes again. Never.

“Our men and women in uniform need our full support. They need to know that when they’re in Iraq driving from Camp Blue Diamond to Camp Victory that the Congress is behind them –

to give them the best armored trucks they can drive, the best weapons they can fire, and the best ammunition they can use.

“They need to have full faith that a few nay-sayers in Washington won’t cut and run – and leave them high and dry. They need to know these things because that’s mandatory for mission success and troop morale.

“America – and the Congress – must stand behind our men and women in uniform because they stand up for us every minute of every day!

“Any talk – even so much as a murmur – of leaving now– just emboldens the enemy and weakens the resolve of our of troops in the field. That’s dangerous! If you don’t believe me – check out Al Jazeera. This story is on the front page. We can’t do that to our fellow Americans over there.

Congress and Somalia In 1993

Filed under: — Chap @ 2:10 am

Some of last week’s Iraq “immediate withdrawal” discussions sounded a little familiar.

I was doing a little research, checking on a rumor. First, Captain Ed confirms the rumor with references. A followup post summarizes:

Had Murray looked into Murtha’s record, she would have found that the Pennsylvania Democrat has a record of only supporting military operations until the first casualties get reported. In fact, the only time prior to 9/11 that America’s military faced off against terrorists and warlords in battle, Murtha demanded that Bill Clinton withdraw them immediately from Somalia — and got what he wanted.

Murtha’s stance has remained consistent: he supports the military as a defense unit, but not in any forward engagement that results in casualties.

Murtha’s position was much more popular in 1993. (As far as I can tell, Murtha also opposed going into Somalia in the first place, so he was also more consistent in his 1993 position.) After the casualties were sustained on TV, several House bills to withdraw from Somalia were presented in rather rapid succession. Rep. Curt Weldon was pretty emotional about it, and lots of folks were Outraged. Weldon said, proving that argument by Bad Thing That Happened doesn’t work:

SOMALIA (House of Representatives – October 20, 1993)

[Page: H8208]Mr. WELDON. …Yesterday I filed a discharge petition No. 9 to force out House Resolution 227 , offered by my Democrat colleague, the gentleman from Ohio [Mr. Brown].

Ben Pilla, from Vineland, NJ, said it best, and I quote: `I ask this Congress to put as much effort into investigating this foreign policy disaster as they put into investigating Watergate and Iran-Contra. Neither Watergate nor Iran-Contra cost the lives of American soldiers.’

Ben’s son, Dominick, was killed in Somalia on October 3, 1993, and buried on October 11. To Ben, his father, to his son, to Dominick, we owe the American people a debate and a vote on the presence of our troops in Somalia.

This is exactly the flawed logic that fails these advocates for withdrawal. Even a businessman knows not to obsess over sunk cost. Put in grunt terms, why would someone who died to do something want that something unfinished? Put in other terms, why does merely showing something bad like that make a logical argument?

If you look at Murtha’s speaking at last week’s debate and vote, this kind of speaking was most of the logic he used: These guys got killed. I go to Walter Reed all the time to see these poor fellows. I get letters saying how bad this is and some of them who got hurt don’t like what we’re doing. Compelling stuff–but wartime requires a hard heart to dispassionately evaluate decisions.

But I’m one to talk–I’ve got 20/20 hindsight. Problem was, the Somalia action advocated by folks like Weldon and Murtha came up against the Law Of Unintended Consequences.

Via Newsbusters, a PBS Frontline page with an interview with Bin Laden that matches his declaration of war speech but with more explanation and less bluster:

Question: Describe the situation when your men took down the American forces in Somalia.

Bin Laden: After our victory in Afghanistan and the defeat of the oppressors who had killed millions of Muslims, the legend about the invincibility of the superpowers vanished. Our boys no longer viewed America as a superpower. So, when they left Afghanistan, they went to Somalia and prepared themselves carefully for a long war. They had thought that the Americans were like the Russians, so they trained and prepared. They were stunned when they discovered how low was the morale of the American soldier. America had entered with 30,000 soldiers in addition to thousands of soldiers from different countries in the world. … As I said, our boys were shocked by the low morale of the American soldier and they realized that the American soldier was just a paper tiger. He was unable to endure the strikes that were dealt to his army, so he fled, and America had to stop all its bragging and all that noise it was making in the press after the Gulf War in which it destroyed the infrastructure and the milk and dairy industry that was vital for the infants and the children and the civilians and blew up dams which were necessary for the crops people grew to feed their families. Proud of this destruction, America assumed the titles of world leader and master of the new world order. After a few blows, it forgot all about those titles and rushed out of Somalia in shame and disgrace, dragging the bodies of its soldiers. America stopped calling itself world leader and master of the new world order, and its politicians realized that those titles were too big for them and that they were unworthy of them. I was in Sudan when this happened. I was very happy to learn of that great defeat that America suffered, so was every Muslim. …

Unfortunately, guys like bin Laden figured this out too and decided that taking a few Tomahawks every once in a while was no big deal and they could continue killing us at every convenient opportunity.

Which is why Murtha was a little more lonely when he called for us to cut and run this time around. Some of us learned from Somalia.

(Some of my research is under the “more”, unorganized because I’m tired of looking at it.)


November 23, 2005

Give Thanks…

Filed under: — Chap @ 1:10 pm

…that you didn’t have need to land at Red One.

En Revanche points to a TINS story, related by a served Marine visiting his elders. Perhaps this story will remind us to talk to the 80 year olds; we might learn something. Grownups only, please.

“Well, let me tell you, we were really enjoying the show those flyboys were putting on but then we hear over the One MC (the ship’s public address system) that announcement that sends chills down the spine of every Marine grunt and is guaranteed to increase your pucker factor by at least a thousand per cent. You know the one I’m talking about, Scott.”

“Attention all hands….LAND THE LANDING FORCE.”

True story? No idea but I’m regarding it as such–story told at a VA clinic, and it’s not one of those stories that fit the narrative of a liar. As Scott relates it the tale becomes a little hard to research because he changes some of the names (for a reason that will soon become obvious and the comments thread for this might prove entertaining).

But it matches some of these.

And if the man telling the story survived what he survived he can say anything he wants. Even the lion heart of Dorie Miller didn’t survive the invasion.

It was later estimated that about 1,000 marines started that momentous assault – but it was only a small group of probably 100 to 300 men who waded through the graveyard of fire to the beach and seized control of a narrow strip.

This surviving group of men held the island, alone and under frightful conditions, for most of the first afternoon. Behind them, in the sea, floated the bodies of hundreds of their buddies.

For some things it’s worth giving thanks.

Ace Is Slicing Like A Hammer

Filed under: — Chap @ 8:29 am

From Ace’s post railing against, you know, real unauthorized disclosures of classified information:

Valerie Plame, Double-Oh Soccer Mom, was more important than this?

As Duncan Black would put it: “Lovely”.

November 21, 2005

“I Just Don’t Get It”

Filed under: — Chap @ 5:14 pm

That’s part of an essay-length comment from occasional blogger John de Ville, who doesn’t like this post at all.

Well. As for that particular statement, I agree. Here are three concepts that are key to why.

  1. Cut And Run Is Disastrous And Shameful

    And Murtha’s suggestion was, indeed, immediate withdrawal without condition. That means cut and run.

    Neptunus Lex is masterful at explaining why, with regard to global strategy and overall violence.

    So is Ralph Peters.

    We did it to the Kurds in ’91 when we pulled back and let Saddam kill away.

    We did it to the Somalis when we backed out after getting bad TV in a battle we tactically won.

    We did it to the Vietnamese when we stopped the purely financial support and wound up with uncountable dead.

    We even did it to the Russians in our weak and limp support of the White Russians before the Bolshevik Revolution, failing to nip communism in the bud.

    We’ve done it before, we’ve done it often.

    It’s wrong.

  2. Separate The CV From The Position Taken

    One of the more hilarious root mistakes of those who try to use the “chickenhawk” canard is that somehow someone who agrees with you is right solely because of his experience, and someone who disagrees with you is wrong because of his different experience. A fool with thirty years of military experience is no lesser a fool. Experience gets you an initial listen and a seat at the table until proven unworthy. It’s been tried before and for us military types it pretty much doesn’t work.

    This canard is one reason why the supporters of Murtha spend so much time talking up his record and ignoring the record of the man who argued with him on the House floor (POW, Silver Star). It’s why people with no military experience and a need to get support from the military types get so excited because they have a Candidate Who Served despite deal-killing flaws in that service that a military guy can see from ten thousand yards or other weaknesses in the candidate. It’s why when one side gets all exercised doing a publicity ploy using a decorated disabled vet, the vets tend to look at it and look at the issues not the Sacred Veteran Status. It’s a canard and us military types see right through it.

    If you really wanted to argue by Sacred Veteran Status you could, say put Murtha’s record versus that of, oh, I dunno, some other people in the House with more of a record and higher awards and more of a Sacred Veteran Status. That’s not the substance of the argument. And Sacred Veteran Status should not matter. If one speaks sense, then it’s sense; if it’s foolish blather, then it’s not sense. Most of time, that Sacred Veteran Status is for a guy who spent his time honorably working on something, with no learning about grand strategy or other issues that might be important in pol-mil type discussions. In my first decade in the service I could tell you all about neutrons and Rules of the Road but couldn’t tell the difference between a battalion and a brigade–didn’t need to know. Neither could I understand the depth of the statement “war is an extension of Politik” without extra study.

  3. This Is Also A Family Fight

    …and you get to watch but don’t necessarily get to play. What Murtha said had what might be characterized as a “dog whistle” — he said something that meant something very strong to a certain community. Problem is, what he meant to military people expending effort in the fight is that our efforts are worthless and wasted. From a guy advertising his relationship to the military so loudly this results in a profound sense of betrayal of the military man, in cheap identification with us to throw away that for which we work.

    Military guys can sometimes get overwrought about their position in life and approach their own self-anointed Sacred Veteran Status, usually when a couple of beers in and thinking about lost friends. This squabble is not based on that mawkishness.

    What I feel when I hear guys like Murtha wrapping himself in the (Marine Corps) flag and self-righteously tell us all is lost, all is wasted, bug out now, cut and run, is that thing which a fighter wants least around him. The argument itself can be separately dealt with, as I did from my comfy chair, as Major K in Iraq and Jim from Blackfive did. Others read more dishonorable motives for Murtha.

    Murtha is helping my enemy through ill-thought-out ideas, using his association with my profession to gain credit with his fellows. He is enough of a man to be able to withstand the slings and arrows of an outraged colonel without being reduced to a puddle. Murtha should be able to get passionate debate without his colleagues all falling over themselves to be shocked–shocked!–by the impetuousness of dissent from The Word Of Murtha. Having updated my will before spending a year attached to a seagoing vessel in preparation for Marines in Iraq, I have a little bit of emotional investment in the debate as well. The Veep can roll back the White House spokesman’s initial reaction as he desires–but Murtha’s words won’t be forgotten.

November 20, 2005

A Cautionary Note Or Two

Filed under: — Chap @ 6:42 pm

First reports are always wrong (and always believed).

McDonald’s didn’t go away when Ray Kroc died; terror franchises will survive if the head is removed.

Oh by the way: Murtha? “ABSCAM” Murtha? Heh.

November 19, 2005

Aftershock From Rep. Schmidt

Filed under: — Chap @ 2:15 pm

The colonel in Iraq (Update: Bubblehead the Large Mammal sets me straight on the provenance) got it right. Rep. Schmidt communicated it and got a beatdown.

Jason correctly characterizes it from the military man’s standpoint.

Napoleon said that the “moral is to the physical as three is to one.” By “moral,” Napoleon meant courage – the will to keep up the fight. No one in Britain was screaming “quagmire” in 1940. Because Britain in 1940 was led by a lion, not a sheep.

Turns out even the “most well respected Democrats on military matters” turn out to be sheep, too, when the going gets tough.

I cannot express how dismayed I was to hear Representative Murtha’s defeatist talk just now, with American and Iraqi forces actually ON THE OFFENSIVE!!! Can you imagine? That’s like a Congressman calling for a cessation of hostilities just as Omar Bradley was closing the Fulda Gap! That’s like the Russians retreating before Army Group B in the last days of Stalingrad. That’s like Lincoln losing his nerve and pulling Grant out as he laid seige to Petersburg in 1865.

American and Iraqi forces have the strategic and tactical offensive now. And as this flash presentation by Bill Roggio shows, it’s an operation which holds a great deal of promise. It’s the mujies who are holed up in bunkers and crawling among sheep to escape the offensive. It’s the mujies who are losing maneuver space to a rapidly developing Iraqi army, which grows stronger and smarter every day. It’s the mujies who are having their ability to disrupt elections rolled up and reduced to a few scattered acts of sabatoge. It’s the mujies who are losing support in Iraq and throughout the broader Arab world. It’s the mujies who are reduced to battling one another in the streets of Ramadi. It’s the mujies who are seeing their own elements approach U.S. forces seeking a separate piece.

Representative Murtha’s call for surrender now is pathetic, and a breath of fresh air, offering hope to our enemies. And defeated commanders like Zarqawi will seek hope from wherever they can get it.

Jefferson Davis and Robert E. Lee made a whole war strategy of simply trying to outlast the Yankee electorate, and make it to the 1864 presidential elections. What the Democrats have done – on the record, and officially now, rather than on the cover of “The Nation,” where it doesn’t count – is give Bin Ladin and Zarqawi a realistic strategic option: Avoid decisive engagement, and continue to bleed the U.S. in Iraq until Democrats in Congress award them an unambiguous victory, and force the American military – victorious on the battlefield – to turn tail and slink away as if we were a bunch of Spaniards or something.

Murtha gave hope and succor to the enemy in a very real sense.

It’s one thing to call for withdrawal if your troops are outnumbered and outgunned, and they simply do not have the combat power to provide even for their own point blank defense. But to call for withdrawal even as your soldiers and Marines are committed – COMMITTED – in offensive operations is shameful.

Marines never cut and run.

Not if I’m driving the bus to get them there.

A man who is prepared to die for something will not enjoy being told that what he’s prepared to do, or already done, is worthless. The reactions will not be completely calm and quietly rational, and this is not wrong.

Mudville’s Getting Its History Degree

Filed under: — Chap @ 11:29 am

here. Title: A Brief History of a Long War (Iraq, 1990-2003)

November 18, 2005

Visceral Reactions

Filed under: — Chap @ 10:21 am

So I ain’t happy with Representative Murtha. Followup comments below. Everything under the “more” tag because I want the nuclear post to stay on top until someone actually reads it.


Nuclear Brinksmanship And Newer Arsenals

Filed under: — Chap @ 12:30 am

I’ve been doing some thinking about the abortive comments of General Zhu. Here’s a guy with a career in the miltary, who’s spent time working with foreigners, and says stuff like this:

“War logic dictates that a weaker power needs to use maximum efforts to defeat a stronger rival,” he was reported as saying by the New York Times.

“If the Americans draw their missiles and position-guided ammunition on to the target zone on China’s territory, I think we will have to respond with nuclear weapons.”

Echoing threats last made in 1995, Mr Zhu, who has a reputation as a hawk in Chinese military circles, said his country was ready to sustain heavy casualties in Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou and other heavily populated areas.

“We Chinese will prepare ourselves for the destruction of all of the cities east of Xian,” he said. “Of course, the Americans will have to be prepared that hundreds of cities will be destroyed by the Chinese.”

Although Mr Zhu said war was unlikely, his proposal that China should adopt a first-strike nuclear option against the US will alarm the Pentagon. (emphasis mine)

Now there are several ways to think about Gen Zhu’s comments. These might include:

  1. It could be merely one guy mouthing off.

    The general said his comments were “my assessment, not the policy of the government,” the Journal said.

  2. It could be a trial balloon, or a rhetorical overreach.

    U.S. State Department spokesman Sean McCormack called the remarks “highly irresponsible” and “unfortunate”, and expressed the hope that they did not reflect the views of the Chinese government.

    Echoing the official Xinhua News Agency, the People’s Republic of China’s Foreign Ministry officials said that Zhu was expressing personal views, and had warned the reporters accordingly, but stated that China would never tolerate “Taiwan independence”. Reportedly, Maj. Gen. Zhu is not directly involved in the formulation of

    As one of my friends puts it, a Chinese general does not publicly say something Not Official. He may well be right.

    On the other hand, one Chinese government acquaintance is insistent that her country’s intentions are pure, and expresses surprise that we should not trust China’s intentions.


  3. It could well be I have no idea why he said what he said. Maybe he really thought that and just didn’t think it was anything special.
  4. The general may be working on a different plane entirely. Paul Bracken of Yale wrote in an excellent book (pre-9/11 but still worth reading) called Fire In The East that

    These situations are often worsened by cheap talk. With atom bombs to back them up, governments have a tendency to say things that aggravate a crisis. The same thing happened early on in the Cold War, for example, when Khruschev threatened “to bury the United States”. But the dangers of such explosive rhetoric soon became apparent. By the end of the Cold War the United States and the Soviet Union were using only the most restrained diplomatic language, even when their military moves were much more aggressive.

    In Asian crises this lesson hasn’t yet been learned. In the 1987 crisis between India and Pakistan, an Indian journalist was told by a senior Pakistani official that Pakistan would use an atomic bomb against India if its survival was endangered. The report appeared a month later in an Indian newspaper, and predictably greatly increased tensions.

    It could be that our general hasn’t figured out these things yet and is teaching a lesson to the rest of the leadership by getting in trouble for letting his nationalism run ahead of his common sense.

  5. The general’s words may indicate a point of decision for the Chinese, where they’re trying to figure out whether or not to build massive amounts of nukes. If this is so perhaps we and the Indians and the Russians may have an opportunity to influence that internal decision with skilled diplomacy and awareness of the implications of such an arsenal.

This provides an excellent study for deterrence theory and for diplomacy opportunities. The way to frame the questions might be “So how would you react to such an outburst? How should we have, or should we now, react?”

While I’m typing in Bracken’s words I might as well add this in from his excellent book. Note the book was written well before 9/11 and before the India-Pakistan near-war over Kashmir that fortunately came back from the nuclear brink, so the observations are a little old.

The shaky control of Asian nuclear forces increases the danger of accidental or unintended war. Asian states share all the problems of physical security and reliable communications that plagued the first nuclear states, but unique conditions in Asia heighten the dangers. The United States and the Soviet Union had confidence in their armed forces. their commanders would not have moved reclessly forward without orders or with cavalier indifference to the meaning of those orders. Trust and understanding between civilians and the military is generally much lower in Asia than in the West. The level of mistrust is extreme to the point of pathology in North Korea and Iraq, but it also characterizes civil-military relations in India, Pakistan and Iran. The lack of trust is compounded by deep mutual suspicion, by a history of plotting and coups, by wthnic and religious schisms, and by a military rife with threachery and ambition. These vary from country to country, but it seems fair to say that the world has reason to worry about whose fingers are on the nuclear triggers in countries such as Iran, Iraq, Syria, Pakistan, and North Korea.

Transitions of power could be especially dangerous. At these times there are generally no clear lines of authority. Chains of command that may be ambiguous under the best of conditions become even more obscure during a transition. In India the assassination of two prime ministers set a dangerous precedent, suggesting one possible way to paralyze the command system, possibly blunting any return blow. In nations where the military has demonstrated recklessness, such as Syria and Iran, only the civilian leadership holds them in check. An upheaval in the government could open the way to military adventures with catastrophic consequence.

November 17, 2005

Turn Of Phrase For The Day

Filed under: — Chap @ 11:57 pm

(That word launched eyebrows so high and so fast that the streets around the National Press Building were fairly littered with bifocals.)

Rich Galen, of course.

Buddy Is Only Half A Word

Filed under: — Chap @ 11:16 pm

In the seventies, after the Americans had pulled out of Vietnam, the South was still doing okay. Fragile, but okay.

Then the US Congress pulled all its supporting funding.

Only then did we see the helicopter evacuation of Saigon, the millions in the killing fields, the deaths of the boat people in exodus, the “reeducation” camps, the privation and misery and utter waste of everything the American vet had fought to support.

Whatever side of the war one was on, this much is true: Many, many, many more people died, and died hard, after this capricious removal of support after promising it. (Me, I was on the “where’s my dad and could I have some juice and my toy bunny” side.)

Apparently Murtha forgot this little factoid. Since, you know, he was there at the time and would have been a special kind of dead to not have been frustrated by the waste. Extra Murtha classy points for doing this with the Prez out of country, and arranging for lots of press coverage–nice of you to be so loud about your lack of spine, there, mister.

Greyhawk writes well about it. Point Five at least can laugh about it. Malkin notes that he said the same thing last year, just with less of a Media Opportunity. Lots of links, lots of people commenting.

Me, I’m too annoyed at Murtha. Thanks, buddy.

Semper frickin’ Fi.

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