Monday, March 31, 2003

Red and Blue

Instapundit (yeah, like he needs my links) has snapshots of some of the "support the troops" signs put up by businesses around Knoxville.

He observes that

it seems to me that the flags mostly haven't come down, and I"ll bet there are just as many in a lot of "blue" states.

One Hand Clapping concurs:

As I mentioned, my family and I spent all last week on spring break vacation. We visited southeast Pennsylvania, ranging from Gettysburg eastward to Philadelphia. We saw a lot of American flags and signs similar to the ones Glenn posted. I even saw one small business with a "US out of UN!" sign, a sentiment more commonly attributed to the South or West than the North. In any event, Pennsylvanians seem rock-ribbed American patriots to me, at least the ones where we visited, and my guess is that the rest of the state is the same way.

i would make three points:

First, the Red/Blue divide takes place within states more than between them. Rural PA where i live now is more conservative than Charlotte NC where i used to live. Thanks to Philly, though PA was a Gore state, while North Carolina as a whole voted for Bush in 2000.

Second, i agree that there are patriots in both red and blue regions.

Third, a critical distinction between the two areas comes from something else Instapundit touched on:

There's lots of god-talk in these signs, with "God Bless Our Troops" and similar variations being quite common.

According to pollsters, religious observance is a powerful predictor of voting behavior.

One of the things that struck me after moving here from Madison WI, was the public expressions of faith. The signs after 9-11 were one example. Another was in Somerset when the Quecreek miners were trapped. As i drove up route 30 that Saturday morning, nearly every business sign carried a message of "Pray for our miners" or something similar.

I'm not saying that there are no religious people in blue regions. But red areas do tend to see more public and casual mentions of Christian faith.

One track minds: Not every crisis is a Munich, sometimes it is the destruction of the Stresa Front

Bill Whittle has a brilliant essay on History

It truly is moving. Read it here.

I especially liked his discussions of alternative futures and this:

I see history as an unimaginably huge and complicated railroad switching yard, where by moving a pair of steel rails a few inches one way or another, the great train of history can be diverted from Chicago to Atlanta. These switches may seem ridiculously small at the time, but the consequences are often immeasurable.

Very true, but it is also important to add that the working of those switches is often mysterious to us as we make decisions. For example:

In 1934, shortly after Hitler came to power, the Nazis attempted a coup in Austria. They assassinated the prime minister but were thwarted by the intervention of a powerful neighbor: Italy.

Mussolini stopped Hitler from acquiring Austria in 1934. Historically, Italy viewed Austria and Germany as dangerous. The German Hapsburgs had governed much of Italy for centuries. Italy fought with the Western allies in WWI.

Mussolini was willing to be part of an anti-Hitler coalition. In return, he expected support for some colonial adventures, especially in Abyssinia.

He did not get that support. When his troops invaded Abyssinia, the good Wilsonians of the world used the League of Nations to place sanctions on Italy. They did not stop the invasion, but they did break up the anti-Hitler Stresa Front that had been taking shape.

The debates at the League also had another effect. While the word's attention was focused on the Abyssinian crisis and the great debate at the League of Nations, Hitler marched into the Rhineland.

It wasn't just cowardice that caused France and Britain to respond weakly to Hitler's gamble, it was distraction. There was a bigger problem to be solved than a little piece of German territory being reoccupied by German soldiers. There was the fate of the League which was being ignored by Italy.

The Wilsonians picked the wrong fight and Hitler was off and running. Sometimes you can act with the best intentions and make the situation worse.

It can happen to the greatest of statesmen.

At the end of World War Two Churchill observed to one of his associates that Cromwell was a great statesman, but he was so focused on Holland and Spain, that he missed the rise of the French monarchy and the threat it posed to England. Many believe that Churchill was rebuking (or defending) himself for the same mistake: defeating Hitler while allowing Stalin too free a hand.

Sunday, March 30, 2003

This surpised me

Via a google search i ended up on a site called Sullywatch and found this:

We see from Sitemeter that none other than Joe Conason has linked to us from Salon, generating over a thousand hits. Wow

A big hitter like Conason at a high profile outlet like Salon generated over a thousand hits.

Heck, when USS Clueless tacked an update onto an existing essay and included a link here i got 850 hits from it.

If you like the Stalingrad post from Saturday, you might want to read this one, this one and this one as well.

Thank you Mr. Rummel for the compliment and link.
What's This?

My yard is now covered in a blanket of white. I have 1.5" of snow on my deck. Yesterday the temp of OVER 70!

In his obit of Sen. Moynihan, David Frum wrote:

He gave the Left his votes; he gave the Right his words. We shall see which legacy lasts longer

Moynihan's words could not change Sen. Moynihan's votes. Can we really expect that they will change someone else's vote ten years from now?

Saturday, March 29, 2003


If you are not reading Intel Dump, you are missing out on some of the best analysis available.
This won't be Stalingrad

Or Hue, or Mogadishu.......

Reporters and commentators like to grab at analogies. The problems is that too often they do not have an in-depth understanding of the situation in front of them or the historical analogue they cite. So they end up trading in cliches rather than offering a comparative case-study.

Stalingrad was the end of the German advance in WWII and one of the key turning points to the war. But here are a few of the critical factors in the German defeat. Note that none of them apply to the Allies in Baghdad.

The Russian winter.

The Germans were surrounded and cut-off from resupply.

The Russians had superior numbers and superior technology (the T-34 tank, for example, could outslug almost anything the Germans had in 1942).

Time was on the Russian's side They were out-producing the German's in war munitions and their supply lines were shorter. They also had more manpower. Each day the noose got tighter around the German's surrounded in Stalingrad.

Similarly, Hue, happened after three years of optimistic reports on the war's progress. The psychological shock on the home front grew out of the surprise, not battle itself. The Marines were never close to defeat.

Shock was also a factor in Mogadishu--Americans saw horrible pictures from a place they associated with a simple humanitarian mission.

Tactically, Mogadishu was a failed attempt to pull a fast raid which then required an improvised response. We took unexpected casualties. But it was not a debacle. The Ranger and Delta teams fought their way out and inflicted disproportionate losses on the Somali militias. Washington chose to pull our forces out of Mogadishu for political reasons, we were not driven out.

Points on Baghdad

Baghdad has "totalitarian boulevards"-- broad streets unsuitable for a guerrilla warfare. These will allow Allied forces to isolate a few sections of the city at a time and neutralize them.

Normally, city fighting is hard because the attacker must move in a 3-D battle field. Multi-floor buildings and sewers mean defenders can be above or below as well as in front, behind or beside the advancing units. The defender's key challenge is maintaining unit cohesion since the walls prevent men from seeing that neighboring units are still covering their flanks.

In Baghdad, the defense still has that problem of cohesion. They have the additional problem of moving reserves to meet the attacker: our air superiority and surveillance capabilities allow us to identify and attack those reserves. Our mobility also stretches his defensive perimeter.

A key question: Does our air dominance-- from UAVs to B-52s-- stretch the 3-D battlefield to the serious disadvantage of the Iraqi units.

Another key question: how will the population react when the goons are deployed in thin pockets and it becomes clear that they cannot get back-up to them when they are in trouble?

When we get close, we will be able to better monitor and disrupt Saddam's command and control. There are things that can be done on the ground that can't be done from the air.

Given the high skill and courage of our special forces, I wonder if the tunnel system Saddam built under the city will turn out to be a problem rather than an advantage for him.

Sherman's march through Georgia and the Carolinas weakened Lee in Virginia-- soldiers from the Deep South deserted when they realized that their families were threatened by the advancing Union armies.

Supposedly, Saddam's closest protectors and most fanatical defenders come from Tikrit, his home city. At some point in the next few days or weeks, that city will fall to the Allies. I wonder what the reaction will be inside of Baghdad when that happens.

Will it demoralize the Saddamites? Will they lose faith in Saddam? Or will it enrage them?

Thursday, March 27, 2003



Clayton Cramer shows how even intelligent bloggers can suffer from cultural blindspots.

Kim du Toit and Res Ipsa Loquitur find a self-defense shooting that will also make you smile.

has further evidence that Michael Moore has journeyed far along into self-obsession.

The God of the Machine offers a short history of cryptography.

The Brothers Judd offers a nuanced take on Sen. Moynihan's career.

MJC has another (possible) example of French perfidity... in Turkey this time.

Protests and ANSWER

USS Clueless explains how the anti-war protests serve purposes beyond stopping the war.

Wednesday, March 26, 2003

Why Turkish Recalcitrance Didn't Rattle the Generals

Earlier, I noted the US military's capacity for self-criticism and ability to learn from mistakes.

I just ran across an example of the how they anticipate possible futures in training officers.

In Fort Leavenworth and the Eclipse of Nationhood, Robert D. Kaplan describes one of the scenarios placed before students at Leavenworth's School of Advanced Military Studies in 1996

"a messy and long-term peacekeeping operation in the Caucasus, in which U.S. forces cooperate with the Russian army, and the Turks refuse to let U.S. ships through the Bosphorus Straits"

So seven years ago they were preparing students to carry out operations where our oldest allies proved uncooperative.

Tuesday, March 25, 2003

Just Heard Keith Richburg on MSNBC

He is in the Gulf. So I thought I would plug one of the best books on Africa (including Somalia) that I've read.

A Matter of Perspective-- 1944

In the first seven weeks after the D-Day landings, the Allies moved their frontlines roughly 60 miles. They were bogged down and seemingly contained in the Normandy peninsula and most of France remained under Nazi occupation. Then in a matter of eight weeks or so, the German lines broke, the Allied armies broke out, and most of France was liberated.

Even as the German army was retreating back across the Rhine, some key cities held out. The Brest did not surrender until 9/19/44. Lorient and St. Nazaire held out until MAY of 1945.

The breakthrough/breakout came at the wrong place. Expectations were that the British under Montgomery would achieve it around Caen. Instead, it was actually the Americans farther west who first broke through and swept around the German lines.

Bottom line: slow progress today does not mean that the campaign is bogged down. The fact that some Iraqi units are holed up in parts of cities does not mean that we can't get to Baghdad as planned. Battles might be won where analysts aren't looking while progress is slow in the obvious places
A Good Cause

Aaron's Rantblog gives us Buy a Gun Day (to Spite Michael Moore).

Monday, March 24, 2003

A Good Question about War Coverage

From Rand Simberg:

Is It Just Me?

Or is the press coverage this weekend reminiscent of the coverage of Tet? It was a US victory that was reported as a disaster, because the assumption was that the Viet Cong weren't capable of mounting an offensive.

Which made me wonder: do most journalists think that the reporters got Tet wrong in '68? Is it something that gets discusssed and analyzed in J-school?

Hollywood: AWOL in the War on Terror

After Pearl Harbor, Hollywood went to war. Some stars, like Jimmy Stewart, served in combat. Many others were in uniform in other capacities. After 9-11, our betters in Hollywood did a couple of benefits.

The movie industry,itself, churned out movie after movie where heroes fought the Axis. Every serial worked plots about the evil Axis into their cliffhangers. Even Sherlock Holmes and Tarzan took on the Nazis.

After 9-11, Hollywood actually changed plots in order not to feature Islamic terrorists (See Sum of All Fears).

Even before we entered the war, comedies had begun to mock Hitler and his gangsters. The Three Stooges and Chaplin led the way.

Saddam and Usama have gotten off lightly. I can only think of a song by Adam Sandler about UBL and the South Park episodes about Saddam and Satan.

I can understand that writers and directors do not want to whip up anti-Islamic feeling. But surely these brilliant and subtle intellects could come up with plots that distinguished between UBL and the average Muslim.

And, i must note, that the entertainment industry has no problem working the tired old government conspiracy angle. Why the tender consideration for Islamic feelings and a positive eagerness to paint the police, the CIA, and the uniformed military as thugs, coup-plotters, and fascists?
A brilliant Comparison

Just read this.

There's nothing here as good as this.

But then come back, okay?

My luck. Flip through the channels just in time to see Michael Moore do his act. Yes, there were a lot of boos, but there was plenty of clapping as well.

Hollywood isn't America. They see themselves as something apart....something superior. And why not, they get paid huge sums of money and receive pampering no Louis could imagine. Why shouldn't they think they are better and smarter than the rest of us.

Moore and Streisand called to mind one of my favorite Tom Wolfe quotes.

"From the outset the eminence of this new creature, the intellectual, who was to play such a tremendous role in the history of the twentieth century, was inseperable from his necessary indignation. It was his indignation thatelevated him to a plateau of moral superiority. Once up there, he was in a position to look down on the rest of humanity. And it did not cost him any effort, intellectual or otherwise. As Marshall McLuhan would put it years later: 'Moral indignation is a technique used to endow the idiot with dignity.'"
Saddam's End Game: Just Questions, No Answers

Does he expect to repeat Stalingrad?

1. The Germans were the ones who were encircled. In Iraq, that role will be played by the Republican Guard. Critical difference.

2. Can the RG maintain discipline in an urban environment? Desertion is much easier in a city of 5 million than in the desert. Plus there is the temptation of looting.

3. It seems that the RG divisions are still outside of Baghdad. Can they move men, machines, and munitions into the city without being chopped up by our airpower. They will be very easy to see on the move and extremely vulnerable.

Does he expect to repeat the Miracle of the Marne? That is, to let our lines of communications get extended, then launch a counter-attack that results in a serious defeat for us and changes the whole complexion of the war.

1. Our command and control are light-years ahead of the Germans in 1914. A decisive counter-stroke is hard to imagine.

2. Airpower will hammer any forces that mass to attack. Our superior mobility should enable us to respond and annihilate any such attack.

Does he expect to repeat Tet '68 with Baghdad as Hue? A military defeat which translates into a political victory due to the high casualties and slow progress.

1. It is hard to imagine how Saddam can hold on long enough for the Allies to give up.

2. Does he expect diplomatic pressure on his behalf that will permit him to stay in power?

Is this Berlin '45-- no realistic chance of victory, just a desire for a fiery Gotterdammerung?

Sunday, March 23, 2003

Attack on the 101st

The official word is that it was motivated by 'resentmernt' (but nothing about the cause of the resentment).

If i am suspicious, it is because i keep remembering how long it took the government to admit that the LAX/July 4th shooting was terrorism.

UPDATE: I concur with Sgt. Stryker that it is an odd case of resentment.

Saturday, March 22, 2003

Attack on 101st

Sgt. Stryker offers some observations on security within the camp.

Based on what Foxnews is saying now (7.37pm) Stryker was right about who/how.

In addition to the USS Clueless, check out the war commentary at One Hand Clapping. He is posting multiple must reads every day.

Friday, March 21, 2003

Iraq military doctrine and Saddam's incapacitation

As usual, USS Clueless does a better job getting to the critical issues than 80% of the talking heads on TV. It really is a must read.

I will only add that the problem of centralized decision-making was the single biggest cause of the Fall of France in 1940. All too often, it is portrayed as a failure of material preparedness-- Germany having more and better tanks. But that is not so... the quantitative edge went to the Allies, and the qualitative differences are open to debate given that France and Britain were on the defensive.

But German doctrine placed a premuim on rapid decision making and that allowed them to set a rapid pace once the invasion was launched.

From John A. English and Bruce I. Gudmundsson, On Infanty:

"This behavior, which in other armies might result in a court martial, required leaders with an unusual degree of intelligence and peculiar character trait that the Germans called Verantwortungsfreudgkeit- a certain willingness to accept, or more particularly, enjoy responsibility."

"What was clear was that, to a degree unheard of in othr armies, the German soldier was expected to do whatever the situation required. Failure to act when the situation demanded action was considered worse than a wrong choice of method."

From Cohen and Gooch, Military Misfortunes,

The German pace "disorented French Commanders (at all levels), who had expected to receive-- and to offer-- continual written guidance during the conduct of battle."

From Len Deighton, Blitzkreig,

"The defeat of the Allies on the Continent in 1940 was a failure of communications and command. Time was the most vital factor, but it was squanderd, not by sluggish production of aircraft or by slow tanks, but by slow decisions and a paralysis of command."

From Col. Robert Allan Doughty, The Breaking Point: Sedan and the Fall of France, 1940

"French and German doctrine thus differed sharply on several key points. While one emphasized methodical battles, firepower, centralization, and obedience, the other emphasized continuous battles, mobility, decentralization, and initiative. During the fighting around Sedan, the doctrine of the Germans provided them a distinct advantage over the French".

"Germany won the campaign because her military forces were better led, had a sounder strategy, and had developed more viable tactical and operational doctrines. France lost because her leaders tried to manage rather than lead, her strategy was ill-conceived and based on fallacious assumptions, and her tactical and operational-level doctrines were inadequate for the mobile war German thrust upon her."

Wednesday, March 19, 2003

Lt. Gen. David R. McKiernan

One Hand Clapping offers some personal observations about our ground commander in the Persian Gulf.
Country Stars are not always obtuse

From Ralph Emery's "50 Years Down A Country Raod"

Junior Samples Figures It Out

For a while in 1966 [sic] the Arab-Israeli War dominated the news. Junior Samples visited my show early one morning-- at 1.00 am, to be exact. A recap of the conflict had just been on the radio. I asked Junior if he understood what all was going on in that part of the world. 'Well, it looks simple to me,' Junior said. 'All these big countries jumped on this little bity country, and this little bitty country beat the hell out of 'em'.
Dixie Chicks Feel the Heat

The song "Travelin' Soldier" drops from number one to number three on Billboard. Radio play is down 15%.

Junk Yard Blog has a great post
on the Dixie Chicks before they hit it big....they weren't so nice even then.
Repeat replay

There was a "teach-in" on the war at the Lone Dissenter's high school. It sounds as bad as one would expect.

Funny thing, conservatives are the one's who are supposed to hold on to the past. Yet much of the left seems to always go back to the playbook from 1965.

Tuesday, March 18, 2003

Another facet of the possible Iraq-al Qaeda connection

From today's Opinion Journal
Encouraging Dispatch on Homeland Security

The latest paper version of the Atlantic has a short item in the "Agenda" section on a letter in the December 4 Journal of the American Medical Association. It seems that a patient who was treated with radioactive iodine for a thyroid disorder has twice been stopped in Manhattan subway stations and stripped searched. He is apparently tripping radiation detection devices.

I feel sorry for him. But this also suggests that we do have the technology to help us deal with the terrorist threat.

Atta, Iraq and the Prague Connection

Edward Jay Epstein addresses the current state of the evidence.

The West Wing (TV)

Asymmetrical Information
has an interesting post on how Sorkin is building up Bartlett by merging Bush foreign policy with Clinton attitude. Be sure to read the comments-- John Leo of U. S. News weighs in.

No one, however, addresses the issues raised here.
Was Clinton a Wonk? Was he really cool?

Cut on the Bias has transcribed part of an interview with Lawrence O'Donnell from Fresh Air.

What caught my attention was this exchange:

Host: Did you identify with the policy wonks of the Clinton administration?

O'Donnell: That's a hugely exaggerated notion, that President Clinton was a policy wonk or anybody working in the West Wing was a policy wonk other than Gene Spurling. That's just the rap, that's just the image they wanted for themselves, the positive rap they wanted for that president, he was no more a policy wonk than any other president.

From my experience in the Oval Office with Bill Clinton, he knew about an index card worth of material. Let's put it this way, I was never in a meeting with Bill Clinton and the senators where Bill Clinton was not the single most ignorant person in the room.

Later O'Donnell added

But the image that Clinton easily achieved was that he knew more than most presidents. That's because up against the White House press corps that's a really easy thing to achieve because no one's allowed three follow up questions in a row...

These observations mirror P. J. O'Rourke's assessment based on an interview with Clinton in 1992:

He explained. He gave examples. And he knew what he was talking about—until he talked about something I knew.

I'd just been to Bangladesh, where I had toured the Grameen Bank, founded by the Third World development guru Muhammad Yunus. Clinton proposed using the Grameen's programs of microcredit and cooperative lending to fight poverty in American inner cities. The Grameen Bank lends $30 or $40 to groups of Bangladeshi village women so that they can buy pedal-operated sewing machines to make napkins, place mats, and decorative pillow cases to sell to tourists, in case Bangladesh ever gets any. I had a hard time picturing this in Compton or the South Bronx. Also, the crack fad was raging just then. Enormous drug deals were being transacted in the nation's slums. Was scarcity of capital really at the core of America's poverty problems? When Clinton finished talking about microcredit, I said, "I've just been to Bangladesh, where I toured the Grameen ..."

There was a sudden great changing of subject.

P. J. came away from the interview with doubts about Clinton's coolness as well:

Was the whole saxophone thing just an affectation? And the Ray-Ban Wayfarers and the bluesman's snap-brim fez too? Would Clinton really go out on the Truman Balcony and blow some bebop if things got rough during his White House sojourn? Or ... was Clinton a band geek? Maybe he got the saxophone because the tuba was already taken. Even in the sixties there were such people—sycophantic mama's boys who tended toward pudge and hung around the career counselor's office asking "You got any of those Rhodes scholarship application things?" These fellows tended to marry the girls who helped them with their law-school homework, move back to town, and turn out to be real operators.

The whole thing is classic O'Rourke-- smart, funny, and perceptive.

Monday, March 17, 2003

Our Friends, the Brits.

When the French surrendered on June 20th, 1940, Britain should have been filled with anquish and fear. They now stood alone against Hitler and Italy, with Russia serving as the handmaiden and supply depot of the Axis.

When the news of the surrender appeared in the papers, a London newsstand chalked the following on their sign


As Alister Horne wrote in TO LOSE A BATTLE:

Meanwhile, in England, once it was apparent that Hitler was not going to follow up Dunkirk with an immediate invasion, the shock of defeat turned into a kind of relief that, somehow, strangely enough, life had at least become simpler. King George VI spoke for many when he wrote to his mother: 'Personally, I feel happier now that we have no allies to be polite to and pamper.'
The humane French.

From a revierw by David Pryce-Jones of the book THE BATTLEFIELD: ALGERIA by Hugh Roberts. The book looks at the civil war in Algeria that has claimed at least 100,000 lives.

The FLN rulers and army generals have had to decide whether to make concessions to the FIS or eliminate them by whatever means are available. Rulers of almost all Arab countries have faced this choice in dealing with their assorted challengers; and in the manner of Hafiz Assad in Syria or Saddam Hussein in Iraq they have had no trouble resorting to mass murder. Left to themselves, the FLN have shown a preference to opt for conciliation, Algerian tribal-style. But whenever this course is tried, France weighs in to obstruct it and ensure more blood-letting. Roberts is most instructive on the subject. The collapse of the Soviet Union, he points out, drained meaning out of socialism, and further allowed France to reclaim Algeria as a client state. Two motives are impelling the French, a fear of Islamism and the long-term programme of enlisting Arabs and Africans in their struggle against the United States. The European Union, Roberts shows in a pioneering chapter, is the arena in which the French exploit and extend the Algerian crisis for their own imperial purposes.
No Good deed goes unpunished

Fred Barnes swings a sharp elbow....

France will veto it, using the gift given the beleaguered French at the U.N.'s founding to make them feel like an important nation.
Even Finland?

This quote in Mark Steyn's column stopped me cold:

Finnish Prime Minister Paavo Lipponen, who said in London last year that ‘the EU must not develop into a military superpower but must become a great power that will not take up arms at any occasion in order to defend its own interests.’

What happened to the spirit that let Finland fight the Red Army to a standstill for months during the Winter War of 1939-40? Their ski troops ambushed Russian tanks for goodness sake. And now they promise to never take up arms?

Sunday, March 16, 2003

I'm number one!

I just googled 'redneck' and 'likudnik' and the post below came up first.

Of course, only two items showed up in total.......

Friday, March 14, 2003

A Little Shot of Chesterton in the Morning

From Heretics

"In the modern world solemnity is the direct enemy of sincerity."

The Best Strategic Planning Advice Ever

"Avoid Trivia"

That was the only advice George Marshall offered George Kennan in 28 April 1947 when he gave him two weeks to create the State Department's Policy Planning Staff and formulate an American response to the European economic crisis.

Kennan had the staff in place by 5 May. He presented Marshall with the recommendations on 23 May. They were accepted and became the basis for the Marshal Plan.

Not a bad month's work.

Can a redneck be a Likudnik?

I just finished the latest American Conservative and don't understand why they have decided to stake everything on a blame-Israel position. I'm also wondering why they feel the need to echo the weepy left when making their anti-war case.

Taki hits two of the left's themes in his column.

As the sister of a victim of 9/11, Colleen Kelly, poignantly put it, “My brother was not killed by a weapon of mass destruction, nor poison gas nor by a nuke. It was 19 boxcutters that did it, and unless we address the reason these people hate us, we will never be safe.”

This treats 9-11 as though it was just an over-aggressive attention-getter. It presumes that their hatred has a reasonble basis, that we made some error and that as we correct our ways they will leave us alone.

None of our foreign policy errors can justify the atrocities of al Qaeda and the group which carries them out has no right to a hearing.

Plus, it is just not our errors which drives Bin Laden's killers. Often it is the things we do right-- our freedom (evidence of corruption) and our unwillingness to engage in atrocities (evidence of weakness).

And maybe, the problem is one of the killer's own pyschopathology. From David Gelernter:

We now learn that suicide bombers are told to expect a heaven full of comely virgins as their next assignment. To the suicide-murderers, those waiting virgins are real as dirt. The killers call themselves "martyrs," but in their own minds they are the next thing to sex criminals. "Pardon me, sir or madam, do you know why I plan to murder your child? Because the authorities are offering me great sex--and, after all, I don't get many opportunities."
So the killers hate us in the same way Ted Bundy hated women. The hatred is not the fault of the victim.

Then Taki repeats the old canard about violence begatting violence:

Baghdad will fall quickly, Saddam will die amid the rubble, and the Arab world will sink into despair, grow still further in hostility towards the United States, and terrorists the world over will find thousands of young men ready to die as long as they take an American with them.

Yeah, Saddam was going to give us a bloodbath in 1991, and then the natural warriors of Afghanistan were going to stop us in 2001, and if we overthrew the Taliban surely al Qaeda would launch all-out attacks.........

I am all in favor of accurate assessments of the enemy, but at some point this stuff sounds like the ghost-stories we use to scare little kids. There just aren't that many psychos and patsies willing to kill for Saddam. (If there were, they would already have blown themselve up in Israel).

In the same issue, Robert Novak reviews David Frum's book. Novak (big surprise) doesn't like it and accuses Frum of being more pro-Sharon than pro-Bush. As evidence, he offers this:

Insensibly, the book becomes a brief for Sharon’s Israeli policy. Bush may have decided in favor of a Palestinian state, but not Frum. “One of my speechwriting colleagues put it nicely: ‘Let’s see: they kill six thousand Americans [the best estimate of the casualties at that time], and we give the Palestinians a state. If they kill six thousand more Americans, do we give Palestinians twice as big a state?’“ If Frum purported to present Bush warts and all, Sharon was wart-less. Could Bush, Frum asked, “condemn Israel for doing in the West Bank exactly what he was doing in Afghanistan?

Yes, well, Frum has a point doesn't he? Why are we willing to ignore and forget how the Palestinian street celebrated 9-11? Why did we automatically think we needed to address their concerns? Most importantly, how can we say that Arafat is with us, not on the side of terrorists? His whole career is based on terrorism. Frum did not draw that line in the sand, Bush did.

This country still needs a good paleoconservative bi-weekly. I really hope that Am Con can grow up and be that. But I'm beginning to think that is impossible.
A Business Book that Doesn't Suck

Joan Magretta, (with the collaboration of Nan Stone), What Management Is: How It Works and Why It's Everyone's Business, New York: The Free Press, 2002. 244 pp.

It is not easy to classify this work. It does not present a new management theory not is it a study of a single industry or company. Although short, it is not a primer: Magretta takes for granted that the reader is knowledgeable about business leaders such as Jack Welch and theorists like Drucker. The book does not focus on a single element of management (strategy, say, or innovation), but it does not try to be encyclopedic.

Perhaps the best description is this: What Management Is is an able precis of the best current thinking on the critical elements of general management.

The book starts at the very beginning by defending management while defining it. Magretta points out that the we often misallocate the credit for the economic progress we see all around us. "When we take stock of the productivity gains that drive our prosperity, technology gets all the credit. In fact, management is doing a lot of the heavy lifting."

That s a breath-taking assertion, but she makes a strong case. As she points out, modern economies require intense specialization on one hand and then the integration of those specialist's output into a complex whole. This requires management and therefore, "management's real genius is turning complexity and specialization into performance."

That is the real strength of this work. Time-strapped managers will welcome Magretta's clarity and brevity. The book is a good read and a relatively fast read as well. The author produces crisp statements on complicated subjects that possess a gem-like clarity:

"One of the most powerful insights of modern management, however, is that there is really only one test of a job well done- a customer who is willing to pay for it."

"Unlike most other professions-- law or medicine or accounting, for example-- you don't need a license to practice management. In fact, it's the only field we can think of where practice precedes formal training."

The case for war

I'm more paleo- than neo- conservative. I don't want America to be an empire. I don't think it is our job to roam the world looking to right all wrongs and bring democracy everywhere. Still, I do think the case for war against Iraq has been made.

1. Containment works when time is on your side. But Saddam's insistence on developing WMDs means time is against us. Eventually, he will get what he wants and will find a way to use them against us.

1.a. From the moment he took power, Saddam worked to develop WMDs. The Israeli strike against the Osirak reactor disrupted his nuclear program. He used poison gas against Iran, but then those programs were set back by the Gulf War. All indications are that he immediately set to work rebuilding those capabilities. He did so, despite the fact that this meant Iraq would continue to suffer under sanctions. Hussein is not interested in changing his behavior, he wants to revise the correlation of forces.

2. Containment is expensive politically, militarily, and economically.

2. a. It promotes terrorism because it requires US forces to be stationed on the Arabian peninsula, near the holy cities of Mecca and Medina. This infuriates Islamists like UBL. Removing the threat from Iraq will let us move our troops out of Saudi Arabia, thus removing a major bone of contention between the US and Islam.

2.b. Forces containing Iraq are unavailable for other missions. As threats multiply, containment missions promote imperial overreach and reduces our strategic reserves. This limits our ability to respond to new threats. It will also tempt aggressive regimes to ratchet up their threats just as Japan sought to exploit Britain's death struggle with Germany by grabbing her Asian colonies in 1941.

2.c. Containment requires economic sanctions. Those sanctions punish the Iraqi people and are another recruiting point for UBL. Regime change means the sanctions can be lifted and some of the wind taken out of the terrorists's sails.

3. Deterrence is a cruel and problematic strategy to protect the US from a WMD attack.

3.a. Deterrence is cruel because we must be prepared to inflict massive punishment on the aggressor. There is nothing proportionate about it. Cold War deterrence promised the Soviets that we would incinerate Moscow, Leningrad, and dozens of other cities if the Red Army moved into West Germany. Millions would have died.

3.b. Cold War deterrence did not keep the Kremlin from forcibly expanding its empire via unconventional means and outside of Europe. Deterrence worked best when the tripwires and consequences were clearly defined and predictable. It kept the Red Army out of Western Europe. It did not prevent the Soviets from arming and encouraging North Vietnam's aggression against the South or Cuba's adventures in Africa. Is there any reason to think that Saddam would not try to work around the edges as well?

3.c. Deterrence works both ways. If Saddam is left contained but free to rebuild his military (including enhanced WMD capability) he could, at a moment of his choosing, retake Kuwait and then threaten to use his biological weapons if the US tried a desert Storm II

3.d. Deterrence is problematic because Saddam could use WMDs in a way that hides (at least for a time) his involvement or creates a level of doubt about that involvement. He could calculate that the US would not use massive retaliation after an attack if it took three months to achieve 80% certainty about his involvement. Such a calculation increases his willingness to use the weapons via false flags and third parties.

Imagine how difficult it would be for Bush to keep heavy forces in the Gulf if San Diego, Manila, and Brisbane were hit by biological terror attacks committed by groups associated with bin Laden. Saddam can see that as well. Helping terrorists, if he does not get caught, will be a great way to weaken the military cordon containing him.

4. I do believe that Iraq has extensive ties to terrorist groups.

4. a. Laurie Mylroie's The War against America makes a persuasive, if not conclusive case that Iraq was involved in the first bombing of the WTC, the embassy bombings in 1998 and other bin Laden activities.

4. b. According to Mark Riebling in Wedge Saddam joined with Qaddafi and a group of clerics in 1993 to declare "a new holy crusade against Christian nations." Since some of the clerics were from Iran and all were fundamentalists, this should put to rest the notion that Saddam and bin Laden could never work together because of religious and ideological differences. Both sides are flexible enough to co-ordinate against a greater enemy.

No surprise. After all, Churchill partnered with Stalin against Hitler despite his long-standing opposition to Bolshevism.

4.c. Saddam has close ties with Palestinian terrorists and provided support and safe haven to Abu Nidal and Abu Abbas. So he and his intelligence agencies have experience protecting and dealing with (if not controlling) non-state aggressors.

5. The opposition of France and Germany does not mean that we are acting unilaterally. Further, their opposition is not conclusive evidence that the case against Iraq is weak or that the Bush administration is "rushing into war." There are other, less savory reasons for them to oppose the US/UK position.

5. a. France has been forthright in her belief that Europe should serve as a balance to the US "hyperpower". What is important to them is that we be restrained. The accuracy of our Iraq assessment is secondary to the development of the European counter-weight.

Their policy reflects, in part, a strong strain of domestic anti-Americanism. And as Walter Russell Mead notes, this anti-Americanism springs from our "success, American power, and America's ability to thwart the ambitions of other states." So it is not only a matter of how we use our power, but also that we have so much power .

5.b. Both Germany and France have been willing to cut deals with terrorist to protect their own citizens even if that left the terrorists free to attack other innocent parties. It is possible that in opposing the US and UK they are trying to deflect Islamic anger away from them while leaving Americans and others as targets.

5. c. It is quite possible that Paris and Berlin fear that the overthrow of Saddam will reveal to the world that these two countries helped Iraq in its pursuit of WMD. Saddam's Bomb Maker claims that they did just that. And we know for certain that the French built the reactor that was destroyed in 1981.

Steven Den Beste has laid this case out at great length and I find his reasoning pursuasive.

5.d. If the French and Germans truly believed that containment/deterrence was the best policy, why have they not offered larger forces for that long, expensive mission? They propose a policy, but expect the US/UK to pay for it. At the least, this suggests that they are not serious. At worst, this could be a calculated attempt to promote overreach and reduce American global power.

5. e. During the 1998 crisis with Iraq, Chirac asked Kofi Annan to convey his [Chirac's] "personal greetings" and great esteem" to Saddam when the UN leader was trying to convince Iraq to continue inspections. These are not the acts of a nation trying to help the UN compel compliance of a recalcitrant state.

6. This is not a war about cheap oil.

6. a. If all we wanted was cheap oil, we would remove the sanctions and let Saddam flood the world market with crude as he grabbed hard currency to buy new military hardware.

6.b. The 'no war for oil' crowd never asks if France's appeasement policy is related to the billions in oil contracts that nation has gotten from Hussein in the last few years.

6.c. If we really wanted Iraq's oil fields, why didn't we keep them in 1991?

7. Attacking Iraq can be a wise move, despite the fact that al Qaeda carried out the 9-11-01 atrocity and the possibility that North Korea has a more developed nuclear capacity.

7.a. In some ways it is analogous to the Allied strategy in 1943. The US was attacked by Japan, not Germany. The US/UK agreed (even before Pearl Harbor) that our grand strategy would be "Germany First". Yet the US Army went into action against the Vichy French in North Africa and then invaded Italy before aiming for Germany.

It was not that Italy was the biggest threat to the US. Rather, the Mediterranean theater was where we could do the most in 1943. And by defeating the Afrika Korps and knocking Italy out of the war the Allies depleted German forces, stretched their defensive perimeter, gained combat experience, and opened up bases.

7.b. Most of the units required to root out al Qaeda are not required for a conventional war in Iraq. So attacking Iraq will not put the war on terror on hold. Even during the build-up of heavy forces in the Gulf we have captured key terrorist leaders.

7.c. North Korea has strong ties to Russia and China. Its other neighbors, South Korea and Japan, are modern nations with high-tech economies, modern militaries, and large populations. These factors open up avenues for diplomacy, deterrence and containment. Most importantly, containment does not fall solely on the shoulders of the US.

7.d. Iraq is a conventional threat to most of her oil-rich neighbors. They have small populations and limited military strength. As we saw in 1990, they can be over run easily.

Even before the build up in the Persian Gulf, substantial US forces were tasked to keep Saddam in check. Dealing with Saddam will free up forces to meet other threats.

7.e. Again, if France and Germany really believe that containment is the best option, they should back up their position by committing more of their land, sea, and air forces to that open-ended mission.

Wednesday, March 12, 2003

Coercive Joking?

I like David Warsh's Economic Principals website. I started reading him a long time ago when he was still with the Boston Globe. He can make theoretical economics an interesting read and that is close to miraculous.

But this latest column stopped me cold:

THE FRENCH HAVE A WORD FOR IT: hyperpuissance, meaning the American tendency to throw its weight around in the matter of Iraq. The Americans, of course, have a joke. They have a lot of them. This one is usually attributed to Gen. Norman Schwartzkopf, US commander during the First Gulf War.

"Going to war without France," he says, "is like going deer hunting without your accordion."

It is a good joke. It’s an even better illustration, though, of the power of humor to put down, to dismiss, even to suppress discussion. Relentless humor is almost as coercive as the Paix Juste boycott Israel petition, or the fierce demands of the Israeli game theorists that the journal editor be fired.

It is possible to support the general aims of US policy towards Iraq — I do — and still think that the world is better for the reservations that the French have expressed. All those jokes making the rounds, and much more besides, are another example of American hyperpuissance."

I could agree with him except for two things:

1. France's objections are only useful if they are the sincere concerns of a true ally. But as Steven Den Beste has pointed out over and over, they are probably just the posturings of a greedy, cynical power trying to make a buck and raise their international standing.

2. The dismissive/suppression thing should cut both ways. Yes, we joke at their lack of military prowess. But, much of the French argument seems to come down to "your president is dumb and his administration is a bunch of cowboys." That hardly calls for a carefully reasoned argument in response. It certainly doesn't after it has been repeated 30 or 40 times.
Gary Hart

Gary Hart has reemerged as a defense expert. He seems to be a sort of cautious hawk-- not a dove, but not in favor of war with Iraq right now.

Hart's reputation as a defense expert is based, in part, on his leadership of the "Military Reform" movement in the 1980s. The "reformers" dealt with serious issues, but they were often wrong when it came to specifics. They were opposed to the M-1 tank, the Bradley IFV, the F-15 fighter, and the big fleet carriers. They stressed quantity over quality, maneuver over firepower.

So, in retrospect, they were profoundly wrong. Our victories in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Kosovo depended on the qualitative edge that Gary Hart did not want the DoD to pursue. In Somalia, on the other hand, we came closer to the reformers's model and tried to rely on speed and disruption to win.

Has Hart ever discussed this? Has any reporter ever asked him about it?
Poor Poor Janeane

An interesting wrap up of a debate on media bias and Iraq coverage.

The whole thing is worth reading, but what really caught my eye was this:

[Garofalo] "said she had been ridiculed by the media for her antiwar activism and, clearly, it hurt. She blasted conservative talk show hosts for attempting to marginalize the antiwar movement by focusing almost exclusively on celebrities."

Look, Janeane Garofalo made her mark as a comedian who used withering sarcasm to ridicule her targets. So why should she expect to be treated any differently?

Sunday, March 09, 2003

The China Crisis, Continued

Mark Riebling
addresses the deepening problems in US/ China relations

"As evidence continues to mount of China's support for Iranian and North Korean nuclear and missile programs, the White House admits that China's human rights record has actually worsened over the last decade. Nevertheless, our policymakers and intellectuals insist that should China should retain Most Favored Nation trading status. This points up a serious incoherence in U.S. foreign policy."

Thursday, March 06, 2003

Exploiting College athletes

Jane Galt starts another spirited debate.

I've posted a couple comments there and won't repeat them.

One fact which keeps getting lost is that many of the rules from the "exploitive" NCAA don't enrich schools at the expense of the athletes. Rather, they take from some athletes (generally football or basketball) and give to others. For example, a school cannot set out to be a football power by dropping all other sports and devoting all its resources to the gridiron. They have to field teams in many sports if they are going to compete for the good bowls. So a football power still has to fund scholarships in money losing programs.
More information on the UVa hate crime

Today is Alamo Day

Nice article on NRO

On the morning of March 6, at least 189 men stood their ground against a ruthless dictator. Though many among this band of brothers were illiterate, they made a universally articulate statement about courage and self-sacrifice. Texians and Tejanos fought side-by-side with men from distant states and nations — England, Scotland, Ireland, Wales, Germany, and Denmark. Some of these men measured their time in Texas in mere weeks. Once the siege began, they had 12 days to escape. But they didn't. They endured round-the-clock bombardments, sleep deprivation, cold nights, and poor food. They forewent the comfort of a wife, the pleasures of the hearth, and the amenities of civilization.

Wednesday, March 05, 2003

Tuesday, March 04, 2003


From Austrailia....POLICE have been banned from naming their most wanted criminals because of fears they could be sued.

Military Intelligence is not an oxymoron

In Black Hawk Down, the author notes that his book

"is hardly the version of this battle that would have been produced by some arm of military public relations. It tells of miscalculations and embarrassing inter-unit squabbling....It reveals simple blunders like failing to take sufficient water and night-vision devices on the raid...." Given that, he expected that the brass would ignore him and his book.

He was surprised.

"Instead the military has embraced Black Hawk Down. It is now one of the mandatory books on the curriculum of the U.S. Army Command and General Staff College where I have received three separate invitations to speak."

I bring this up for three reasons.

1. Everyone should read this book. It is a classic. If you want to see courage in action, almost every page will show you an example. (The movie was great as well).

2. Those who worry that the US will be stymied by Saddam's forces in city warfare do not give sufficient credit to the military's ability to learn from its mistakes. Mogadishu turned out to be a costly mistake. American officers did not try to sweep it under the rug. They went to work learning how to avoid those mistakes the next time.

3. This willingness to look at mistakes and learn from them is common in successful military organizations. It is one of the things that most corporations could learn from them.
Generally, I think the West Wing is pretty funny.

Aaron Sorkin pours so much energy into undoing the heartbreak of the Clinton-years- creating Republican strawmen to knock down and rewriting history so Democrats win every argument. The West Wing is a lot like the play-by-play boys provide as they shoot hoops alone in their driveway: "Robbie Boy takes the ball, he goes to the baseline, shoots over Shaq, it's GOOD! Robbie steals the inbounds pass from Kobe and drives to the hole...."

But on 2-26 Sorkin crossed a line. He did one of his ripped-from-the-headlines-but-not-quite-true numbers and settles some scores from a shameful Clinton episode. Except this time his target wasn't Republican operatives, it was military families.

The scene was set in the White House where Leo, the WH chief of staff, was waiting with the families of three servicemen who had been captured in Africa while on a humanitarian mission. The working class mother of one of the soldiers was dismissive of the Bartlett crowd as unmilitary and asked if Leo had been in the service. Of course he had-- combat duty as a pilot in Vietnam. And later, after a successful rescue mission which saves the hapless soldiers, terrorists blow-up the base where the Delta team trained. Over a dozen men are killed so the cry-baby mother has to deal with the fact that other parents lost their children because her son was rescued

First, note the complete ignorance of military realities that Sorkin demonstrates with the bam-bam timing of the rescue and retaliation. We are supposed to believe that the rag-tag army of a country like Rwanda or Liberia can find the training camp of a Delta team in a foreign country and mount a suicide bombing against it in a matter of hours. That's absurd. The command, control, and intelligence capabilities required are staggering. I doubt that six NATO countries could pull it off. But West Wing makes it sound like no big deal.

But here is the heart of the problem ......

In 1994, Herbert Shughart told Bill Clinton that he "was not fit to be president" and refused to shake his hand. But this outburst did not come as he was waiting for Clinton to rescue his hapless son from terrorists. He said it as he received the Medal of Honor his son Randy earned trying to rescue a Black Hawk crew in Somalia in 1993. Randy Shughart and Gary Gordon were the two Delta snipers who requested permission to drop into cauldron that was Mogadishu on 3 October 1993. [Dorothy Rabinowitz wrote a column recently on the Shugharts .]

Unlike the steely Bartlett and his battle-tested team, Bill Clinton tried to evade responsibility for the decisions that led to 18 American deaths. At times, he even suggested that the Rangers were too aggressive and were thus responsible for the debacle.

This is the event Sorkin echoed. Apparently he intends to get even with everyone who ever said a mean thing about or to Bill, Hill, or Al. And he will twist he story as much as required to make it all come out right in the end.

Sidenote: When NPR-listening residents of the Keystone state joke that Pennsylvania is Philadelphia on one end, Pittsburgh on the other, and Mississippi in the middle, they don't mean it as a complement to us in the middle or to Mississippi. They have in mind places like Newville where Randy Shughart grew up and Perry county where his family now lives.
Three meaty posts on Cut on the Bias today.

A guest poster gets right to the heart of the problem of boring newspapers:

"Journalists frequently take subjects that are immensely fascinating and render them as he-said/she-said accounts that read like a 7th-grade schoolgirl's diary."

He also offers this tidbit:

"A well-known secret in D.C. is that the Washington Post employed one full-time environmental journalist at the start of Clinton's tenure, and when this person moved on the Post did not hire another. When it became clear that George W. Bush was the next U.S. President, they hired four reporters to cover the environment full time. You see, this topic is all about a Power Struggle between Industry and Gaia/The Children. As representatives of the former (another errant frame), Republicans will surely bring more conflict to the environmental arena, and that's all news is, right?"

This is the sort of bias I see most often. It is not that a particular story is willfully distorted (although that can happen). It is the selection of stories that are pursued. Thus, the New York Times goes all out on Martha Burk and Augusta National, but it finds the question of ANSWER's involvement in the peace marches uninteresting.

susanna then turns to this Kristof column and shows that while he recognizes that big media's ignorance of American evangelicals is a problem, his own knowledge of that community is profoundly limited.

One thing struck me while reading the Kristof piece. He notes that 46% of Americans identify themselves as evangelical or born-again. Then he comments "Yet offhand, I can't think of a single evangelical working for a major news organization."
How many other groups can you list that could be so under-represented at the NY Times without triggering a full-blown, code-red outreach/ recruitment effort.

Monday, March 03, 2003


Janeane Garofalo gets smacked by the New Republic

"when it came to talking about foreign policy, she showed that there's an enormous gap between being a smart comedian and a smart analyst." Ouch
Colin Powell shows he has a great sense of humor

and a good memory. John Rosenberg catches it in action. Check out the comments too.
Could Mohamed Atta Be Alive?

Edward Jay Epstein
suggests it is possible.
Hate Crime Double Standards

Discriminations looks at the contortions UVa is going through to look consistent, even when it isn't.

According to Doctor Weevil: "rule by the petty or trivial". He adds that "It even contains a small (perhaps even trivial) pun, since 'phaul-' rhymes with 'foul' (and 'fowl', for that matter)."

Just about perfect for rule by committee or by entertainment celebrities.
Q: How much does Molly Ivins hate George W. Bush?

A. Enough to slander America and FDR.

In this piece
Molly Ivins gets carried away with the idea that the enemy of her enemy is her friend. She launches into a disjointed, fact-challenged defense of French military prowess. In the middle of it she tells us that:

"Relying on the Maginot Line was one of the great military follies of modern history, but it does not reflect on the courage of those who died for France in 1940. For 18 months after that execrable defeat, the United States of America continued to have cordial diplomatic relations with Nazi Germany."

Cordial diplomatic relations. The French were brave and fought while we shared cigars and brandy with Adolph.

Well, except to the fact that we gave some destroyers to Britain and then arranged this thing called Lend-Lease so we could give Britain weapons to fight Germany without requiring payment for them. And then of course we helped Britain hunt German subs and even lent a hand searching for the Bismarck. Oh, yeah, and made common strategy with Britain while we were at peace and designated Germany the main enemy.

Does she ever get embarrassed writing this junk? Does she have any friends who can tell her that she is making an ass out of herself?