THE VIEW FROM CHAOS MANOR
View 311 May 24 - 30, 2004
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May 24, 2004
As usual there was some weekend activity. More later as I catch up.
And this on Iraq and WMD:
"When Smidovich noted that the U.N. teams
had not found "any traces of destruction," Kamel responded, "Yes, <it was
done before you came in.>"
That may have been the silliest and most expensive bluff in history.
Well, that will certainly promote democracy in Iraq.
Let me limp up and say it again: Armies break things and kill people. If you do not want things broken and people killed, keep the army in barracks. If you put the Army into an unfriendly country, things will be broken and people killed.
It is no good trying to change the nature of the Army so that it doesn't break things and kill people because if you do you won't have an Army any longer.
Now you would think anyone with any historical sense could understand this, just as you would think that anyone with any sense at all could have predicted this sort of thing would happen once we sent the Army into Iraq, and that it will happen again if we keep it there. And all the sensitivity training in the world won't change that: the incidents will continue to happen, only now we will have a Sensitive New Age Army that won't be as good at breaking things and killing people when things really need breaking and people really need killing.
Sorry for shouting, but apparently it needs shouting.
Now it's not a bright idea to go about firing weapons when there's an occupation Army around, an Army that has already lost men and is damned if it will lose any more without retaliation. Being occupied is inconvenient. Being occupied by the US is probably preferable to being occupied by anyone else (including Captain Carelli and his mandolin and the Italian Army), and a long way preferable to being occupied by an occupation Army that has been losing troops for decades (like the IDF) but it's still occupation, and it is inconvenient, and irritating as hell, and get used to it. Don't have wedding parties where the guests fire guns. Get used to it.
But if your goal is to win hearts and minds and you're the occupation force, you have a problem too. Your troops are nervous and some of them are scared and all of them are devoted to each other (if it's a proper Army or Corps, which ours bloody well are), and if it's a question of blowing up a wedding party or letting a bunch of scumbags fan out to kill their buddies, your troops are, very properly, going to blow hell out of the wedding party. Not deliberately and if they had been sure it was just a wedding party they'd have sent gifts, not a Spectre, but these things happen. And will happen again.
All of which was predictable and predicted, and the only question left is, is it all worth it, and what do we do now?
It will happen again. Get used to it.
I saw the presentation of this during the Space Access Society meeting in Phoenix last month. Weird but impressive. It may work.
May 26, 2004
Sent to me by a serving officer.
Secretary Powell on Memorial Day
Every Memorial Day, my sister, Marilyn, and I would put on our Sunday best and accompany our parents to Woodlawn Cemetery in the Bronx to visit the graves of family members. Like all kids, my sister and I were happy to have the day off from school, and I can't say we were in a solemn frame of mind. But taking part in that annual rite of remembrance gave me my first sense of the importance of honoring those who have gone before.
I grew up and chose a soldier's life. I lost close friends in war. Later, I commanded young men and women who went willingly into harm's way for our country, some never to return. A day doesn't pass that I don't think of them. Paying homage to the fallen holds a deeply personal meaning for me and for anyone who ever wore a uniform.
In 1990, when I was chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, I took my Soviet counterpart, Gen. Mikhail Moiseyev, around the United States. I wanted to give him a better understanding of what America is all about. We started in Washington, D.C. I especially wanted to take him to the Vietnam Veterans Memorial.
But I didn't take him there directly. First, I took him to the Jefferson Memorial. I pointed out a passage from the Declaration of Independence carved into its curved wall. All who have served in our armed forces share its sentiment. "And for the support of this Declaration," Jefferson wrote, "... we mutually pledge our lives, our fortunes, and our sacred honour." Then I asked the general to look up. Above the statue of Jefferson, in 2-foot-high letters on the base of the monument's dome, is this inscription: "I have sworn upon the altar of God eternal hostility against every form of tyranny over the mind of man."
Here, I said, you see the foundation of America, a nation where "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights." I told the general that like Washington, Jefferson and all our Founding Fathers,
Americans of every generation are ready to fight and die for those unalienable rights. Then, to show Gen. Moiseyev the kind of sacrifices Americans are willing to make, I took him to the Lincoln Memorial, where Lincoln's words at Gettysburg are engraved. There, Lincoln said we had fought the bloodiest war in our history so our nation "shall have a new birth of freedom" and so "government of the people, by the people, for the people shall not perish from the earth." I wanted Gen. Moiseyev to see how sacred those words are to Americans.
I showed the general the final lines of Lincoln's second inaugural address: "With malice toward none; with charity for all; with firmness in the right, as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in; to bind up the nation's wounds; to care for him who shall have borne the battle, and for his widow, and his orphan..."
I then walked the general part of the way down the Lincoln Memorial's steps to the place from which Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. delivered his "I Have a Dream" speech. I explained that the unfinished work of which Lincoln spoke was still unfinished a century later, so from the very spot on which we stood, King challenged his fellow Americans to make the promise of our Founding Fathers come true for all Americans.
Only now was I ready to take Gen. Moiseyev to the Vietnam memorial. We walked the short distance from the Lincoln Memorial to the Wall. I showed the general how to find someone's name on it. I looked up Maj. Tony Mavroudis. Tony and I had grown up together on the streets of New York. We went to college together. We became infantrymen together. And in 1967, on his second tour of duty in Vietnam, Tony was killed. The memorial book directed us to Panel 28 East, and there we found ANTONIO M MAVROUDIS carved into the black granite. It was an emotional moment for me, and not just for me. Gen. Moiseyev reached out gently and touched the Wall. The infantryman in him understood.
Thankfully, our forces no longer face the prospect of war with the Soviet Union. Today, we are cooperating with Russia's evolving democracy and with other former foes against 21st-century dangers common to us all.
Today's deadly threats come from rogue powers and stateless networks of extremists who have nothing but contempt for the sanctity of human life and for the principles civilized nations hold dear.
I do not know or care what terrorists and tyrants make of our monuments to democracy and the memorials we dedicate to our dead. What's important is what the monuments and memorials say to us. They can teach us much about the ideas that unite us in our diversity, the values that sustain us in times of trial, and the dream that inspires generation after generation of ordinary Americans to perform extraordinary acts of service. In short, our monuments and memorials tell us a great deal about America's commitment to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness for all.
The haunting symbolism of the 168 empty chairs at the Oklahoma City National Memorial, the heartbreaking piles of shoes in the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum, the carefully tended headstones bearing crosses, crescents and Stars of David standing row-on-row in Arlington and our other national cemeteries - all speak to the value we place on human life.
The Vietnam Women's Memorial of the three servicewomen and the wounded GI; the Korean War Veterans Memorial's haggard, windblown patrol trudging up the rugged terrain; and the memorial of the flag-raising on Iwo Jima do not glorify war - they testify to the glory of the human spirit.
The Civil War battlefields and the monument in Boston to Robert Gould Shaw and his 54th Massachusetts Regiment of Negro soldiers who rode together into the jaws of death for the cause of justice tell us of the price past generations have paid so we might live in a more perfect union. They remind us also of the work our generation must do.
This Memorial Day weekend, we will join in celebrating the opening of the National World War II Memorial honoring the great generation of Americans who saved the world from fascist aggression and secured the blessings of liberty for hundreds of millions of people around the world.
Today, their descendants are fighting the global war against terrorism, serving and sacrificing in Afghanistan and Iraq and at other outposts on the front lines of freedom. The life of each and every one of them is precious to their loved ones and to our nation. And each life given in the name of liberty is a life that has not been lost in vain.
In time, lasting memorials will stand where the Twin Towers once etched New York City's skyline, near the west side of the Pentagon, and in the Pennsylvania field where doomed heroes died on Sept. 11, 2001, using their last moments to save the lives of others and most probably the Capitol or the White House - symbols of our living democracy.
All of us lead busy lives. We have little time to pause and reflect. But I ask of you: Do not hasten through Memorial Day. Take the time to remember the good souls whose memories are a blessing to you and your family. Take your children to our memorial parks and monuments. Teach them the values that lend meaning to our lives and to the life of our nation. Above all, take the time to honor our fellow Americans who have given their last full measure of devotion to our country and for the freedoms we cherish.
Colin Powell, General USA Ret'd; Secretary of State
Boldface not in original.
The Weekly Standard arrived today, and there is an article by Frederick Kagan called "The Incredible Shrinking Army." It's the new neo-con line: the problem is that the Army isn't big enough to do the job.
What job? That isn't discussed: apparently the question isn't relevant. We have to occupy Iraq, and probably invade some more places, and the Army isn't big enough. We need a larger Army.
The good news is that we probably won't need to revive conscription in order to get the bigger Army. Volunteer recruiting should be sufficient. But this Administration is deficient: it promised to rescue the Army from the Clinton depletion, and it didn't do it, and it's all the Administration's fault, and Iraq is at the edge of catastrophe and that's all the Administration's fault.
Well, yes: certainly if the mission of the US is to establish colonial regimes all over the world (of course they are temporary, just being trained to become independent liberal democratic allies, but that does take time) then we don't have a large enough Army, nor will we ever.
Look: if the mission is to go conquer people and run their countries we need an Imperial style army: one capable of defeating the client states who do the actual dirty work of occupying other people. Ideally we have Sunni clients occupy Shiite states, and Shiite clients occupy Sunni, and Kurds occupy Turkmen and perhaps Chechens, and Chechens can be used as a strike force for Africa, and, well, all right, I am not serious.
But until we see what the mission is, we can't possibly know how large the Army must be, or how much it should cost.
My friend John McCarthy, one of the saner people I know, is fond of pointing out that the US defense budget is pretty small compared to what it was during the high stages of the Cold War, and tiny compared to what it was in real wars. And the Army is pretty small compared to those times. Clearly we can afford a larger military. The question is, do we need one?
And that, surely, is a function of what we intend to do with it.
If what we want to do is remain a republic, friends of liberty everywhere and guardians of our own, I suggest that the Army is just about large enough now. The Fleet isn't: we need more ships and men. And within the Army we can use some new units. More Rangers and special forces. More language skills and intelligence troops with proper training.
Expanding the Navy will be expensive, but I suggest it is more useful than building an Army whose mission is to occupy other countries.
As to defending the US, have we tried? Our border controls are a joke; yet surely it is easier to defend our borders than to ferret out our enemies overseas? Surely it is more likely that we can detect bad guys coming here than we can find them in Iraq, particularly when the consequences of trying to find them in Iraq are often to generate more people who want to kill us -- and to give them opportunities right there in their home neighborhoods rather than put them to the trouble of learning how to get to the US, smuggle in weapons and explosives, and the rest of it?
If you are in Iraq and want to blow yourself up with an American or two, it's a lot easier if there is an American soldier on your block, than to have to go find one in New York.
Now, yes, of course, if your goal is to be politically correct then it's a lot harder to defend the country at the borders than to go occupy all your potential enemies. Whether or not you have missed the point of political correctness is another story.
Well, enough of this ramble: but it does seem to me that if we are faced with the need for a larger Army, it may be time to rethink our goals and strategies.
It may be true that they hate us and they are coming for us, and the only way to stop them is to go get them first, and occupy their lands, and reform them; but it is not overwhelmingly obvious, at least to me, that there are all that many nations who hate us enough to risk regime changes instituted by special forces whose only mission is to take out the existing government, or that the best way to make governments overseas cooperate in our safety is to invade and occupy them.
We are the friends of liberty everywhere. We are the guardians only of our own; but guarding our own can include operations such as we undertook in Afghanistan, and operations like Desert One done properly with enough force to matter. It can include some actual money spent on securing our borders and screening those who come into the country; it can include some internal security people who actually enforce immigration laws and actually keep track of those given asylum. Or perhaps not, but at least isn't it worth thinking about?
And while we are at it, $40 billion would build 40 1,000 Megawatt nuclear power plants (given any rational licensing system), and that in itself would help reduce fuel prices, clean the air, and reduce our dependence on Middle East Oil.
Another $40 billion spent on X programs would give us reasonable cost access to space, with space travel costs at a multiple of fuel costs, not the astronomical costs we pay now.
Or $80 billion can buy another year of occupation of Iraq. Maybe. Apparently not: we are going to have to expand the Army, says Kagan, and that can't be all that cheap.
Isn't it worth debating which would be worth more in the long run, a larger Army and longer occupation, or new energy sources and access to space?
In case you missed this elsewhere, here is one approach to energy independence:
and my dear friend Sallie Baliunas waxes sarcastic about The Day After Tomorrow in http://www.techcentralstation.com/052604E.html
I am told that Luntz, the Republican pollster, is worried, as well he should be. The President's best issue is foreign policy and military affairs, and he's flunking that: having let the Neo-Cons con him into the idea that we could have an Iraqi conquest on the cheap, they being conned into the notion that Chalabi could actually cut a deal between Iraq and Israel that didn't involve the Palastinians (a moment's thought would have produced the question, but what about Jordan; but a m0ment is a long time and thought is painful) -- have been conned by neo-cons who were themselves conned -- the President finds his key issue evaporating.
We now have two choices.
1. Stay the course. Build a liberal democratic confederation of at least three major states and possibly as many as 18 (the number of Provinces under the Turks), and stay for as long as that takes, and pour in the resources that takes; or
2. Declare victory and leave, possibly handing the mess over to the UN. That will be hard cheese on the Iraqi who will get arrogant bureaucratic rule coupled with anarcho-tyranny and low grade civil war, but it won't be on us.
The President truly believes that Course 1 above is the right way to go.
If so, he must, and quickly, recruit a constabulary occupation force and get it over there, while bringing the combat army home to refit and retrain; and bring them home in triumph, with all the accoutrements of a great victory, including the ticker tape parades and the rest of it. They deserve that, you know.
Recruiting a constabulary army of occupation will not be cheap, and it won't be done well: it will have to be done quickly which means sending some bad eggs over, and keeping watch on the newcomers with part of the combat army in barracks in Iraq made as comfortable as that can be.
But it can be done. But it we are to do that, it must begin NOW.
There are people who can do this. The combination of politician -- this is politics after all -- and soldier and technician and policeman isn't all that rare. Setting up a Central Auditing Commission and Inspectorate General to keep the inevitable -- note I say that, inevitable -- corruption to bearable levels needs to be done quickly as well. Qui Costodiet and all that.
It can be done. But it must be done quickly.
Spammer gets Seven Years in the slammer! Hurrah...
May 26, 2004
Opera, Il Trovotore, last night. We didn't go to the party. It was just too late and we were tired. Good production, excellent in fact.
We've discussed hormesis before. There are three theories about radiation. The first, and standard among "environmentalists" who pay little attention to evidence, is the Linear No Threshold (LNT) theory, which has been refuted many times, but still seems to attract most "environmentalists" for reasons not clear to me.
There's more on hormesis including a pretty dramatic confirmation of that theory over in mail.
For the latest in Democratic Party humor and good taste, see
May 29, 2004
The whole thing gets murky. It was a wedding party. It wasn't. There was a lot of contraband present at this border site (no contradictions to that one). These were smugglers. There were women and children present. Guns were fired. Lots of stuff useful to terrorists was found on the site after it was all over. There were dead women and children. There were few women and only one child, and the weapons were inappropriate for celebrations. They were Bedouins. They weren't, they were city dwellers. Etc.
And the mystery is compounded because the site is remote and the press corps can't get to it, so everyone is stuck with the official story, and if there is an account by someone credible not in the chain of command we have yet to see it. I have seen plenty of "unclassified sections" of "a classified report" but information on the author and the provenance of the report, let alone its actual title, is hard to come by. In a word: we don't know who to believe.
So far have we come.
There was a time when few would question the credibility of an official story in war time, and those who did wouldn't admit it. Somewhere along the line we have got to the point where few believe an official story unless it is backed up by people outside the chain of command; it is now routinely assumed that the news can be, and often is, manipulated, concealed, spun, diced, sliced, and otherwise mangled before we are allowed to see it. Note the way I put that: can be, and often is. Can be is certain. "Often is" isn't as clear, but note I said that this is routinely assumed, not that the truth is often mangled.
The problem is, we don't know. Certainly I don't know.
In the last Hornblower novel, C. S. Forrester has Admiral Hornblower tell a lie on his word of honor: he tells a shipload of Old Guards that the Emperor is dead, and there is no point in their attempt to restore him to his throne. When he tells them this, Hornblower is aware that his career is finished: having deliberately lied on his word of honor, he will no longer be acceptable in polite society even in England, and his usefulness to the Admiralty will be over. He is a cooked goose: this in spite of the good that his lie accomplishes.
As it happens, Napoleon was dead at the time Hornblower told this story, so it came out all right for him in the end: his lie turned out to be truth, and he didn't have to suffer the inevitable consequences of his willing sacrifice of his honor for England. Novelists have that privilege, sometimes.
But the point is that when Forrester wrote that, not all that many years ago, the world was no longer a place where one's word of honor was inviolate or even all that important; but it was a place where the readers could conceive of such a situation. Now, I doubt that anyone under 60 years old can read that story without laughing out loud at such a quaint notion.
Some years ago at an American Association for the Advancement of Science symposium there was a discussion of the impact of the Internet. This was in the early years of the Internet and World Wide Web, and most of what was said was blather, but Esther Dyson proclaimed the Internet to be the end of "the official story": we would henceforth have the truth, one way or another, because everyone had access to means of publication. The truth will out.
This doesn't seem so certain now.
As I said originally when I believed it was a wedding party although there were doubts, the truth of the situation isn't all that important. There was certainly evidence enough for the Army to take action (suspicious gathering of known smugglers on a major border, weapons fired, etc.) so this wasn't a case of military sadism even if it all turned out to be an innocent wedding party and no more than that. (If I had to guess at this moment I'd think it was probably a wedding party of smugglers who had lots of contraband and should have known better than to call attention to themselves, but perhaps they thought that by holding a big wedding party they would avoid undue attention from the occupation forces.) The point is that if you use a combat army in occupation duties, incidents are inevitable, and we can be thankful that this one wasn't worse.
But of course that is a small question. There are larger ones. (And see mail.)
Was Iraq Deterred?
Or, less succinctly, was the invasion of Iraq needed to keep the peace?
Note that I don't ask if the invasion was justifiable. It's clear to me that there was enough evidence and data for rational decision makers to conclude that the invasion was justified, needed, necessary for future peace and order.
That the invasion was sold to the public through stories about Weapons of Mass Destruction seems to me unfortunate, because the WMD, particularly war gasses, were never that important to the President's case. As I have said many times, Saddam had once had them, certainly was willing to use them, and certainly had the means to make plenty more of them on reasonably short notice so long as he could siphon off money from the Oil for Food program and kept control of a country the size of California with plenty of educated chemists and engineers.
Moreover, Saddam was bluffing that he had them, and didn't work very hard at trying to convince people he didn't have them. He wasn't even up front about convincing the US he didn't have a nuclear program in the works.
The invasion wasn't about Weapons of Mass Destruction to begin with. It would have been nice for the President if they had found tons of chemical weapons. It would have been very good for the Administration if some US units had been attacked by war gasses, and even better if some of our troopers had been killed by them, and no, please, I am not saying that anyone in the Administration wished for, hoped for, or wanted such a result. Just that if a couple of artillery rounds with VX or Serin had landed and killed a dozen soldiers, no one would be debating the necessity of the invasion. No one would dare. But the real facts wouldn't be much different.
The real question was, had Iraq been deterred before we went in? And it seems pretty certain that it was. Saddam wasn't trying to expand his power. He was just clinging on to what he could. Saddam wasn't a threat to anyone outside his borders.
Inside is something else, of course. He remained a nasty man with nastier sons, a tyrant who indulged his whims, a man on the model of the despot who had the ears of the palace eunuch cut off because the wind blew over the harem tent and commoners got a look at a couple of the royal wives. One has no problem making the case that the world is better off now that the crazy old man is locked up in a military hospital.
But he was deterred: he was no threat. Preemptive war wasn't needed to keep him from making mischief. (But see mail.)
Enemies and Friends and Salutary Lessons
That leaves the question, are we better off now having invaded Iraq? And it's late, and I don't think I can answer that tonight. Another time.
On the positive side, dictators the world over tremble: the United States has shown that not one of them is safe, and even the suspicion of harboring our enemies and giving them aid and comfort can be a damned dangerous thing to to.
And on that score alone can the invasion be justified.
Two questions remain: wasn't Afghanistan enough? And, far more important, given the doubts about the invasion, given the political rancor at home, has the invasion of Iraq made the US look more, or less, resolute than we were after Afghanistan and before Iraq?
That one, I think, isn't decided yet. That one almost certainly will be decided by the end of the year, possibly by the Wednesday next following the Tuesday next following the first Monday in November.
And on that score I think I will go to bed.
May 30, 2004
I am about to go up the hill with Sable. I will think on last night's subject while I walk.
The real question is, is the doctrine of pre-emptive war more or less credible now? By coincidence, that is a question raised in this morning's newspaper; I hadn't seen it when I wrote last night's discource.
A good case can be made that deterrence is weaker now; that it is less credible that the United States will go wring the neck of a dictator who threatens us or harbors our enemies. We need to look into that.
Hanson has an essay in this month's Commentary on whether we have enough troops in Iraq. That, too, is worth discussion. He and I are agreed on one thing: we have far too many, and they are far too powerful, to have allowed the Fallujah outcome. When that rebellion was raised, the Marines ought to have been given the mission of pacifying the city. Instead, we showed that enough resistance to us and we will cave; kill a few Americans and we'll make a deal.
That is horrible for the morale of a combat army, and a terrible message to send to Iraqi troublemakers, for it's not really true at all: try our patience enough and you will get Tokyo, Hiroshima, Dresden.
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