Friday, July 27, 2007
Iraq versus Vietnam: Inferences From History
Lessons from Military History
What can History contribute to our issues and conflicts of today? This question has bothered me since I have observed many of my favorite bloggers struggling to make comparisons between a current situation and one from the past—sometimes from the very far past.
Almost from the start of any discussion today, the argument turns from the situation at hand and what to do about it, to an argument about whether some past situation is a proper analogy from which to draw lessons. A cogent example is the attempts to compare our situation in
Meanwhile, we are at war, and need to make many hard decisions about where we are going, what we are willing to do, and how to go about it. I get the feeling that some people had much rather win the argument about the analogy than to win the real war going on under their noses, especially if their main conclusion quite obviously fits their preconceived notions of the answer.
Misuse of historical analogies is a game anyone can play if they have the evil motives and unprincipled mindset of charlatans. Ignoring inconvenient facts is often used, for instance, to make a shady point. Again, the example of
Still, there must be value in perusing history for its relevance to today. Why should we repeat the mistakes of the past if by realizing that the past situation is sufficiently analogous that we must heed that lesson from history? The answer lies in accounting for the constants and variables in each situation, together with the strength of the general inferences and conclusions that can be drawn from the current and past situations.
Constants include: human nature; geography; topology; terrain and vegetation; population centers; road and rail system; general or average (expected?) weather conditions; types of warfare, including classic opposition of forces, and asymmetrical warfare;
Variables include: Existing political situations; actual weather conditions; current dispositions of forces; morale; will to win of the troops and of the civilian populations; relative strength of forces; quality of leadership; weapon and equipment advantages and disadvantages; logistics; strategy and tactics; mobility and speed; training and experience; command and control; communications; computers; intelligence; attack versus defense; the fog of war; adherence to the rules of war; and just plain luck.
Inferences and conclusions: In this maze of constants and variables, it is easy to abstract the wrong inference or conclusion from a situation.
The inference I draw from all of this is that one must beware of loose inferences from history that are without substantial factual backup. Then too, is the effort to properly substantiate the analogy really worth the effort, as opposed to simply applying intelligence, common sense, and experience to the situation?
Thursday, July 19, 2007
Greed is the bellwether
I am angry, frustrated, disgusted, depressed, furious, disappointed, upset, emotionally drained, and ready to do something drastic. What drastic thing, I do not know, but the polarization of our national leaders and legislators into two totally disparate but almost evenly-divided camps is wrecking our country. Political gain, money, partisan loyalties and ensuring reelection appears to take complete precedence over our national interest. Every issue is fought to a standstill, and our enemies abroad are looking on with high glee as our democracy is failing to persevere against them.
The principal schisms are easy to identify:
Democrats (Liberal Leftists, actually)
End of the
End of the War on Terror
Reduction of our Military Forces
More Tax Revenue for Liberal Causes, Progressive Taxes
Constitutional Changes for Same Sex Marriage
Total Separation of Church and State
Tolerance for Porn and Prostitution
Inclusive Foreign Policy, Deferring to Others
Refusal to Recognize the Evils We are Confronted With
Support for a
Federal Control of Education
National Health Program Paid by Taxpayers
Support of the United Nations and World Government
Tax and Spend
Republicans (Conservatives particularly)
Victory in the
Victory in the War on Terror
Augmentation of our Military Forces
Lesser Taxes and a Flat Tax
Prevention of Same Sex Marriages
Non-Interference of Church and State, but State Choice
Restriction of Porn and Prostitution
American Interests First in Foreign Policy
Clear Recognition of the Evils in the World
Support for Individual Responsibility and Initiative
Controlled Borders and Stricter Immigration Laws
Local Control of Education
Reform of the Medical System, but Free Enterprise
Delimiting the Role of the UN, Preservation of Sovereignty
Balanced Budget, Buy-Down of Debts
However, our legislators do come together on a few issues:
Raising Congressional Salaries
Avoiding Election Campaign Reforms
Preserving Privileges and Perks of Congressmen
Silencing Reformers in their Midst
Protecting their own from Prosecution where they can
Protecting their own from Ethics Violation Charges
The one good thing about this stalemate is that the opposition cannot pass their agenda even though they have a slight majority!
The same was true when we Republicans had a majority. At least the most harmful items of legislation are stopped, for now.
Tuesday, July 17, 2007
Opinion: Why We Will Stay in Iraq
(Update from post on June 27, 07)
We have an overweening moral obligation to stay the course now and give the Iraqi a further chance.
Any idea that we were morally wrong to invade
The very simplest solution is to stay where we are, consolidate our strategic and tactical gains, and do something constructive with our capabilities and assets.
We are not going to leave any time soon. There is far too much going on in the region to bring our forces home, only to find that we must reinsert them a few months later.
We are not going to admit defeat.
We are not going to give the Islamic terrorist insurgents a victory.
We are not going to let the current government down because of our commitments to them. We must help them to reach an effective government, which is, in the end, up to them.
We gave back sovereignty to the Iraqi, and claimed that we would withdraw if asked to do so by the government. Will such a request signal to the world that our mission is over and successful, and that we can peacefully wind down the effort? Can we promote that thought?
We are not going to let the 27 million Iraqi people down by leaving them entirely to their own devices, after promising them to stay the course. On the other hand, we should not misplace our confidence in Iraqi sects, tribes, and foreigners in the country to remain friendly to us. Thus, we must watch our backs at all times.
We are not going to let
We are not going to let Iraqi oil be used against us, although this was one of the great mistakes of the war up to now to let the Iraqi decide how to manage their oil. We regret this decision now, so it may change. Perhaps we can play “honest broker” to ensure fair distribution of oil revenue directly to the tribes and to the government. There must be a portion of the revenue allocated for us to defray some of our costs.
We are not going to let the Kurds be massacred by
We are not going to stand by and watch the Sunnis and Shiites massacre each other.
We are not going to turn our backs on our soldiers who sacrificed to help give Iraq a chance, over 3,500 of whom did not return alive, and over 20 thousand have been wounded, and many maimed for life.
We must disengage insofar as possible, while executing the surge in Baghdad, guarding the borders with Syria, Iran and Saudi Arabia, keeping an eye on Turkey, guarding the oil infrastructure, and ensuring our supply lines.
We are not going to turn our backs on an investment of hundreds of billions of dollars to help
We have a national interest in keeping a substantial force in this highly strategic area of the Middle East, next to
We will have a substantial force in
This force will be useful in many ways in the near future. It will be augmented again soon now. Another 30 thousand troops may be on their way shortly, along with substantial air and naval forces, including the increase of carriers to four off the coast.
We must be ready for any eventualities resulting from the Iranian conflict, and possible Palestinian and Lebanese flare ups.
We are not going to substantially change the situation if the Democrats win in 2008, unless it is along these lines or something similar. There may be a draw down of forces, but it will be more symbolic than substantial, and more like down to
Saturday, July 14, 2007
Immigration and Fireants
It was a terrifying story of a fire ant invasion, where the many million strong column of ants defied every attempt to deflect them or halt them in their hundred-yard-wide swath of death and destruction. Every leaf on every tree was eaten, every blade of grass, every plant, anything edible, was gone. Unfortunate workers on the plantation that somehow fell down were swarmed and bitten to death, then systematically eaten as well. I had dreams about these ants and their raw power of numbers that could conquer a large plantation that just happened to be in their way. Is this what we in the US face from the massive invasion of Hispanics from Mexico?
Friday, July 13, 2007
Iraq: Simplistic Reduction
Starting Over is the Way!
Since the current government of
We should force the current government to give us control of oil and revenue sharing as the impartial force in the land. This would remove oil matters from the table for the present, and perhaps allow other issues to be decided by the Iraqi government.
We should ensure that all Iraqi forces and police enforce the law impartially, or else.
We should redeploy our troops to seal the borders, protect the oil infrastructure, protect our forces from attack, and be prepared to engage Iranian or Syrian forces.
We should continue the clear and hold actions in
We should ensure our lines of supply.
We should support the semi-autonomy approach to the Sunni, Shiite, and
We should not continue to reconstruct the Iraqi infrastructure using US funds, but rather, the Iraqi should use Iraqi oil revenue. We have no obligation to fix what we didn’t break.
We should exact an ample fee for our efforts from the oil revenue, to help alleviate our costs.
We should continue to train and weed out the Iraqi forces and police from partisanship and allegiances to tribal leaders.
We should destroy the local militias.
A military assessment of these objectives would undoubtedly conclude that we need more troops in
Our armed forces in general are too low in troop power and their supporting bomb-resistant vehicles, armor, and massed-fire weapons. This should be fixed, preferably by increased authorizations and funding from congress, and recruitment of volunteers. However, a draft should be considered as well. Five or six new divisions should be authorized, funded, and built up. Increases in the air force, navy and marines should also be authorized.
We should ask why we are bending over backwards to rotate our troops so often. In other wars, we were not so concerned about the idea of frequent rotations. Men were in for the duration, period, and were given R&R after time in combat, usually in the theater, not all the way home, and it was up to their commanders as to the policy, not congress. Emergency leaves were used to cover home events of a serious nature. The “guns and butter” approach can work only if the basic resources are there to provide the continuous combat strength needed.
We need, most of all, the will to win.
Monday, July 09, 2007
What do we do about Iran?
What do we do about Iran?
This adds to the complexity of the situation mightily. The one possible change, therefore, could be allowing the sale of oil to
As to the shutdown of the Gulf by
The threat we see from the Iranian nuclear weapons developments is quite clear. Beyond acting as a defensive shield for
The mindset of Mullahs is not something I would bet on to be rational, either. We made the mistake of ignoring the threats of OBL, and got death and destruction for our lack of attention. Likewise, the collective mindset of the Iranian population is not exactly what I would want to rely upon to help the peace process in the ME.
We have practiced a multilateral approach to
As I said in my earlier post, perhaps obscurely, significant augmentation of the forces is not politically possible as things stand. It will require far more provocation than we have seen so far to open the closed minds we have here and elsewhere. We will have to wait, perhaps, for the loss of one or two of our cities, and a million of our citizens, before we will respond adequately.
Unless, of course, Bush and Cheney live up to their threats, which places us back to the beginning of this discussion.
One sees many, many ostriches these days.
Friday, July 06, 2007
And I Mean Islamic Terrorism
Let us first label what we are seeing to be Islamic terrorism. Thus our enemy is Islam, including all individuals who profess to be dedicated followers of the teachings of Muhammad. That is, we must consider as enemies those who believe that jihad against the infidel is a sacred duty, which encompasses most Muslims should they be commanded to participate by their leaders.
All Muslims give fealty to Islam.
Islam demands that Muslims perform jihad against infidels.
Therefore, all Muslims support jihad.
It is obvious that Muslims in
Whether we withdraw from the confrontation with Islam or not, we will be attacked. Whether we fight on their lands or not, we will be attacked. These attacks will be of ever increasing ferocity and deadliness as the Muslims acquire the means for mass destruction and delivery. The attacks will evolve into ever more sophisticated forms, including financial, and inflaming of populations worldwide to disperse our military resources. Oil is a weapon of increasing importance also.
Terror therefore is now the norm. Increased terror will be perceived as the norm as the years go by, until we find the right set of solutions to the problem. This set of solutions must be a total response to the Jihadists, including: military, social, economic, political, geographic, and psychological warfare, and involving our full resources.
It will take a major attack with loss of life far in excess of 9/11 to bring the sleeping public, and the passive, or jihad-dead minds we are beset with, properly into the fray.
Tuesday, July 03, 2007
Separation of Church and State
From the Times Dispatch of 7/3/07
From the Times Dispatch of 7/3/07
A letter to the editor by Amil Kohli on 7/3/07 sparked this reply. Entitled “Democracy Requires Separating Religion, State,” Mr. Kohli creates a false view of our Constitution, first by the very title of the letter, and second by the false premise that separation of church and state is written into the Constitution.
Democracy requires citizens that conform to the laws of the land that establish democratic principles of governance.
There is no “separation of church and state” clause in our Constitution. The “Establishment Clause” in the 1st Amendment was intended by the founders to prevent the federal government from setting up a national church with the President as a divine presence, or from restricting any sect from worshiping as it saw fit. To the extent that the Supreme Court has interpreted this clause to mean secularization, the Court has liberalized our laws somewhat, and thus has moved them further from the original intent of the framers of the Constitution. (The ACLU, of course, has striven mightily to create the separation of church and state in fact, with some success in the courts.)
The framers, however, fully intended that religious morals be used by our individual representatives as guidelines for legislation. Thus they remained silent on the issue of the use of religion by the federal government and its legislative branch. This, in turn, left the issue of religious practice to the States or to the people. Indeed, many States have reflected that same fact in their Constitutions, most appropriately here in Virginia (Virginia Constitution, Article I, Section 16).
Therefore, the final authority for use of religious morals in daily behavior, and in governance, lies with the individual citizens and officers of the state, and not with some presumed pillar of law. The pillar that does exist resides in the free will, conscience, religious devotion and common sense of the people themselves, and their acceptance of the laws of the land.
Labels: Church versus State