Monday, July 21, 2003

Ok - so I'm back. New googleplex. Woohoo. I'll get back into soon. Clausewitz wrote on guerilla warfare - although back then they called it "the people's war"... some of it sounds like its straight from Saddam's playbook...

"According to our idea of a people's war, it should, like a kind of nebulous vapoury essence, never condense into a solid body; otherwise the enemy sends an adequate force against this core, crushes it, and makes a great many prisoners; their courage sinks; every one thinks the main question is decided, any further effort useless, and the arms fall from the hands of the people. Still, however, on the other hand, it is necessary that this mist should collect at some points into denser masses, and form threatening clouds from which now and again a formidable flash of lightning may burst forth. These points are chiefly on the flanks of the enemy's theatre of war, as already observed." (Chapter 26, "On War", the J.J. Graham translation).

We'll take a hard look at Vietnam and the lessons we should have learned then. How come in all the talk about transformation, it's only about how to fight overwhelming force wars and not peacekeeping and guerilla war? I'll leave that with you.

Sunday, April 27, 2003

The Washington Post published a number of last letters from military killed in OIF including this one which should be read aloud at the next counter-protest:

Marine Capt. Ryan A. Beaupre

Mom & Dad,

Well if you are reading this, then things didn't go well for me over in Iraq. I'm sorry for the pain that I have caused you because of this. Please do not be upset with the Marine Corps, the military, the government, or the President. It was my choice to go into the military. The President and my higher commanders were just doing what they thought was best.

Realize that I died doing something that I truly love, and for a purpose greater than myself. There is a paragraph that I read from time to time when I lose focus. "War is an ugly thing, but not the ugliest of things. The decayed and degraded state of moral and patriotic feeling which thinks that nothing is worth war is much worse. The person who has nothing for which he is willing to fight, nothing which is more important than his own personal safety, is a miserable creature and has no chance of being free unless made and kept so by the exertions of better men than himself." John Stewart Mill Now there is a little Marine Corps bravado in there, but I do believe in the basic premise. I want you to know that I could not have asked for better parents, or a better family. ..... I'll never forget that one of my friends in elementary school said that if he could trade places with one person, he'd trade places with me because of my parents and home life. I truly feel that I've had a blessed life thanks to you two.

Please give my love to Alyse & Ryan, Kari & Matt & the girls, Chris & Brandy, and everyone else in the family.

A first attempt by Bill Swanson (whom we have linked to previously) to see if John Boyd's ideas were applied successfully in Operation Iraqi Freedom:

All that talk about "we should have sent in the 4th Infantry (armored) Division" was just the Old School failing to understand how the OODA Loop works, as they always have. The whole point of rapid mobility and maneuverability is to be able to go to Iraq, observe the situation, make a decision and act, not to sit in Arlington and draw up a plan even the critics agree "won't survive first contact with the enemy."

The Washington Post article about the effect of the "Shock and Awe" campaign suggests that it did work.

In the aftermath of defeat by a U.S. invasion force that took three weeks to capture the capital, it is evident that even senior Iraqi military leaders failed to grasp the technological prowess that they were up against.

U.S. air power, combined with the lack of any Iraqi air defense capability, proved devastating not only to military equipment, but to the will to fight of soldiers and officers alike.

In addition, the strategy employed by the U.S. Army's 3rd Infantry Division of sending a tank column barreling through Baghdad on what commanders called a "thunder run" -- a demonstration of U.S. might on the eve of the thrust into the heart of the capital -- achieved its intended result, shocking Iraqi leaders and weakening their resolve.


The curfew tolls the knell of parting day,
The lowing herd winds slowly o'er the lea,
The ploughman homeward plods his weary way,
And leaves the world to darkness and to me.

Now fades the glimmering landscape on the sight,
And all the air a solemn stillness holds,
Save where the beetle wheels his droning flight,
And drowsy tinklings lull the distant folds:

Save that from yonder ivy-mantled tower
The moping owl does to the moon complain
Of such as, wandering near her secret bower,
Molest her ancient solitary reign.

Beneath those rugged elms, that yew-tree's shade,
Where heaves the turf in many a mouldering heap,
Each in his narrow cell for ever laid,
The rude Forefathers of the hamlet sleep.

The breezy call of incense-breathing morn,
The swallow twittering from the straw-built shed,
The cock's shrill clarion, or the echoing horn,
No more shall rouse them from their lowly bed.

For them no more the blazing hearth shall burn,
Or busy housewife ply her evening care:
No children run to lisp their sire's return,
Or climb his knees the envied kiss to share,

Oft did the harvest to their sickle yield,
Their furrow oft the stubborn glebe has broke;
How jocund did they drive their team afield!
How bow'd the woods beneath their sturdy stroke!

Let not Ambition mock their useful toil,
Their homely joys, and destiny obscure;
Nor Grandeur hear with a disdainful smile
The short and simple annals of the Poor.

The boast of heraldry, the pomp of power,
And all that beauty, all that wealth e'er gave,
Awaits alike th' inevitable hour:-
The paths of glory lead but to the grave.

Nor you, ye Proud, impute to these the fault
If Memory o'er their tomb no trophies raise,
Where through the long-drawn aisle and fretted vault
The pealing anthem swells the note of praise.

Can storied urn or animated bust
Back to its mansion call the fleeting breath?
Can Honour's voice provoke the silent dust,
Or Flattery soothe the dull cold ear of Death?

Perhaps in this neglected spot is laid
Some heart once pregnant with celestial fire;
Hands, that the rod of empire might have sway'd,
Or waked to ecstasy the living lyre:

But Knowledge to their eyes her ample page,
Rich with the spoils of time, did ne'er unroll;
Chill Penury repress'd their noble rage,
And froze the genial current of the soul.

Full many a gem of purest ray serene
The dark unfathom'd caves of ocean bear:
Full many a flower is born to blush unseen,
And waste its sweetness on the desert air.

Some village-Hampden, that with dauntless breast
The little tyrant of his fields withstood,
Some mute inglorious Milton here may rest,
Some Cromwell, guiltless of his country's blood.

Th' applause of list'ning senates to command,
The threats of pain and ruin to despise,
To scatter plenty o'er a smiling land,
And read their history in a nation's eyes,

Their lot forbad: nor circumscribed alone
Their growing virtues, but their crimes confined;
Forbad to wade through slaughter to a throne,
And shut the gates of mercy on mankind,

The struggling pangs of conscious truth to hide,
To quench the blushes of ingenuous shame,
Or heap the shrine of Luxury and Pride
With incense kindled at the Muse's flame.

Far from the madding crowd's ignoble strife,
Their sober wishes never learn'd to stray;
Along the cool sequester'd vale of life
They kept the noiseless tenour of their way.

Yet e'en these bones from insult to protect
Some frail memorial still erected nigh,
With uncouth rhymes and shapeless sculpture deck'd,
Implores the passing tribute of a sigh.

Their name, their years, spelt by th' unletter'd Muse,
The place of fame and elegy supply:
And many a holy text around she strews,
That teach the rustic moralist to die.

For who, to dumb forgetfulness a prey,
This pleasing anxious being e'er resign'd,
Left the warm precincts of the cheerful day,
Nor cast one longing lingering look behind?

On some fond breast the parting soul relies,
Some pious drops the closing eye requires;
E'en from the tomb the voice of Nature cries,
E'en in our ashes live their wonted fires.

For thee, who, mindful of th' unhonour'd dead,
Dost in these lines their artless tale relate;
If chance, by lonely contemplation led,
Some kindred spirit shall inquire thy fate, --

Haply some hoary-headed swain may say,
Oft have we seen him at the peep of dawn
Brushing with hasty steps the dews away,
To meet the sun upon the upland lawn;

'There at the foot of yonder nodding beech
That wreathes its old fantastic roots so high.
His listless length at noontide would he stretch,
And pore upon the brook that babbles by.

'Hard by yon wood, now smiling as in scorn,
Muttering his wayward fancies he would rove;
Now drooping, woeful wan, like one forlorn,
Or crazed with care, or cross'd in hopeless love.

'One morn I miss'd him on the custom'd hill,
Along the heath, and near his favourite tree;
Another came; nor yet beside the rill,
Nor up the lawn, nor at the wood was he;

'The next with dirges due in sad array
Slow through the church-way path we saw him borne,-
Approach and read (for thou canst read) the lay
Graved on the stone beneath yon aged thorn.'

The Epitaph
Here rests his head upon the lap of Earth
A youth to Fortune and to Fame unknown.
Fair Science frowned not on his humble birth,
And Melacholy marked him for her own.

Large was his bounty, and his soul sincere,
Heaven did a recompense as largely send:
He gave to Misery all he had, a tear,
He gained from Heaven ('twas all he wish'd) a friend.

No farther seek his merits to disclose,
Or draw his frailties from their dread abode
(There they alike in trembling hope repose),
The bosom of his Father and his God.

By Thomas Gray (1716-71).


Victor Rostow, son of Walter Rostow, the late National Security Advisor during the Kennedy-Johnson era, is serving in Iraq:

Victor Rostow, a Pentagon policy official who is serving as a liaison to the Iraqi team, said its task would be to help Garner “turn over functioning ministries to the new Iraqi interim authority after a period of time.” link

Here we go again... More on the defense vs. diplomacy act and what many consider the next war front. Walter Strobel reports that Rumsfeld is calling for the U.S. to pull out of the talks with North Korea and China.

Hawks, including Vice President Cheney and Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld, argue that the results of the Beijing talks "show this whole approach is futile," said a senior U.S. official involved in the discussions. He spoke on condition of anonymity.

Secretary of State Colin L. Powell has argued for trying to engage the prickly North Korean government.

Rumsfeld has been at the war with the Army since the very beginning. Thomas White didn't play along and instead sided with the "old guard" and now he is gone. Note also that Rumsfeld has appointed only one Army four star to a unified command post since he has been in power (most notably, he assigned a Marine Corps General to European Command, traditionally an Army post and replaced an Army General with a Navy Admiral at Joint Forces Command, home of transformation - and let's not forget whom General Myers replaced at the JCS slot!).

Gen. Shinseki, the last Clinton appointee in a staff position, is retiring and word is, now, that General Keane (the Vice Chief) is also retiring early.

Interesting how this article notes White's relationship with Powell, whom some would also associate with "Old Army"...

Rumsfeld on Friday fired White, the Army's top civilian official since May 2001. White was a White House pick and had a sometimes difficult relationship with Rumsfeld. He was close to Secretary of State Colin Powell, who has had policy disputes with Rumsfeld.

Love 'im or hate 'im but Newt's broadside against the State Department warrents serious consideration. I disagree with him on the early efforts of diplomacy. We couldn't have attacked even if we had all the forces we needed poised up until several weeks before the war. Colin Powell and George W. Bush's biggest blunder, I believe, was going back to the U.N. for a second time. Tony Blair asked for this, apparently, and we felt we had to accomodate him - however several weeks into the war, Blair's numbers rose. Nothing helps like a little success.

Unfortunately, the debate that should have been started has been drowned out by the Santorum nonsense. Regardless, I would not be suprised to hear that Colin Powell resigns within a year.

And now for some nostalgia courtesy of Newsweek, its a reprint of their article revealing radar technology shortly after World War II.

Stinky and Mickey: The sea-search equipment, with only slight modification, was used for the strategic bombing of German cities and industry. The device, known as BTO (for bombing through overcast) was the answer to the problem of bombing Germany in those months when weather made visual observation difficult and, at times, impossible.
BTO threw the Germans off balance and denied them the precious time to develop V-weapons in quantity and finish research on the atomic bomb. The British pilots called their set “Stinky.” Our nickname was “Mickey.”
Stinky and Mickey were first used in the successful raid against the German naval base of Wilhelmshaven on Nov. 3, 1943. After that, they were responsible for more than half of all the heavy bombing and virtually all the navigation to and from targets in Germany and Japan.

This is a long read from Sierra Times by Caleb Carr on his lessons learned... I haven't really digested it yet but may update after I have read it through.

More write-ups on "lessons learned" (generally this phrase is an oxymoron in the Department of Defense, but hope springs eternal):

Still, some achievements will withstand years of scrutiny. In Iraq, speed didn't kill, it saved. Bypassing key southern cities saved coalition and Iraqi lives, preserved mosques and hospitals, schools and homes. The lightning move to Baghdad left Iraq's ground forces dazed and demoralized. (by Major Garrett, Fox News)

Well, back from parts unknown just in time for Spring!

And... just in time for the perennial air power debate that seems to follow every conflict we get in...

Basically, Houlahan, a former ground-poundin' paratrooper believes that Iraqi Freedom proves that air power is not the answer:

Operation Iraqi Freedom provided good news and bad news for advocates of strategic bombing. The good news is that our bombing was more accurate than it has ever been before. The bad news is that, dramatically increased bombing accuracy notwithstanding, strategic bombing once again failed to bring Saddam Hussein's regime to its knees. As was the case 12 years ago, victory required significant fighting on the ground.

I'm sure the Air Force will weigh in eventually, if they haven't already...

Saturday, March 08, 2003

Tim Russert is interviewing Tom "Kinky" Friedman and Friedman is talking about how the notion of the Bush Administration that they will rebuild Iraq into a Democracy is very Clintonian, that is naive and idealistic, I suppose. And "they don't have a Clintonian bone in their body."

He's got a point - this is the same administration that turned its nose up at "nation-building" and said that the military should only be used for fightin' wars. This is the same President who during his primary reacted so viscerally against being compared to Clinton by John McCain.

However, it gets me onto an interesting idea. What if Bush, in a masterstroke, hired ex-President Clinton to be the new proconsul of Iraq. Think about it. Clinton would be effectively out of the Republicans hair for the forseeable future (all the less time to spend on his wife's Presidential ambitions), partisan snipers will be neutralized and if things go wrong... well, there's plenty of room to spread the blame. And the thing is, Clinton was born for this shit.

This article was linked earlier this week by Instapundit and he says in response to it "looks good to me." The article deserves a closer look.

American might is sailing away from Europe
By William Richard Smyser
Published: March 2 2003 20:07 | Last Updated: March 2 2003 20:07

The shrillness of the debate about French and German opposition to war on
Iraq has concealed the change in fundamental American strategic thinking
that lies at its heart. The Pentagon is returning the US to its traditional
role as a maritime power. In that strategy, western Europe, indeed Europe as
a whole, will matter less than it has done.

This is the basic thesis of the author and while there is some evidence to suggest this, it is more complicated than that. First of all, he ignores the role of space. After all, Rumsfeld has appointed almost all his science advisors from the space community and was the co-chair of a commission that recognized the strategic importance of space for the future of the US.

Gerhard Schröder and Jacques Chirac are serving as a convenient excuse for
President George W. Bush and Donald Rumsfeld, the defence secretary, to
slash the American presence in Europe. The US has always been primarily a
sea power, from the days of the privateers to Theodore Roosevelt's "Great
White Fleet" and Ronald Reagan's 600-ship navy. Now that it no longer needs
a massive land presence in western Europe it wants to return to that

This should not be construed as not needing a land power at all, however. Its just that it will be lighter and more supported from the sea and from the air. The pre-World War II American way of war was to mobilize. The new model cannot rely on mobilization because of the other new rule sets of war - that is low body counts on both sides, minimal collatoral damage, etc. leading to the need for technicans as well as troops capable of peacekeeping operations. Therefore, the citizen-soldier model will no longer fit.

Sea powers behave in predictable ways. Strategically, they try to dominate
the oceans (and now the skies). They abhor large and fixed land deployments,
preferring to use local auxiliaries. They like to control or at least to
neutralise the opposite shores of contiguous seas and oceans.

But its not just the "shores" - it's also all the land in-between - if not to neutralize than to at least be able to project power.

Diplomatically, they have no fixed alliances but only fixed interests. They
can make commitments, but they want to feel free to leave. And they always
like to have long strings of bases around the world. Britain sought all
these things in its heyday and America wants to return to them now. That is
the true meaning of the phrase "coalition of the willing".

And this is where the post-World War II rule sets will cause not a great deal of division among Americans. Since World War II, we have seen ourselves as being the leader of a group of "core" countries that accept the rule of law. Playing realpolitik with traditional allies will no doubt cause much contention and grief in this country.l

The US can cut its troop presence in Europe now that the Soviet threat is
gone. Others can protect that particular shore of the Atlantic. Washington
does, however, still want bases along all vital sea routes, such as the
Mediterranean. Thus Spain, Italy, Turkey and Israel become much more
important than Germany. Iraq becomes much more of a threat - to Israel, to
the Middle Eastern balance and to US security on the Mediterranean and Gulf
routes. That is why Pentagon civilian planners have persuaded Mr Bush to
support and fund Israel's costly occupation of Palestine and to reinforce
Israel with an even more costly occupation of Iraq. Nato is no longer as
The appointment of General James Jones, a US marine, as commander of
American forces in Europe is a harbinger of things to come. Unlike the army,
the Marines are not permanent defensive forces. They are temporary
expeditionary forces. Gen Jones will operate on that basis.

What the author missed though is not just the loss of European Command by the Army but the overall low number of Army Joint 4-Star billets. Think about it - the Army only has three 4-stars in joint billets - the Army Chief of Staff (who is on the Joint Chiefs of Staff), the Commander of SOUTHCOM and the Commander of CENTCOM. The USAF controls alot more: Joint Chief of Staff, USAF Chief of Staff, NORTHCOM, SOCOM, TRANSCOM and I'm probably missing one or two. The Navy and Marine Corps combined control quite a few slots: Vice Joint Chief of Staff, EUCOM, PACOM, JFCOM but by and large it is the Air Force that this administration likes the most.

This does not mean that all US forces will leave Germany and western Europe.
Some will be needed in support and maintenance roles. Washington could not
have conducted the Afghan operation without them and the number of US forces
in Germany duly rose during the Afghan war. Nor could Washington dream of
fighting a war in Iraq without those bases. But Germany is no longer a
prize. It is a launching platform.

Nor is this the end of Nato, despite its diminution. Nato has survived other
crises and will survive this one. Being a political alliance, Nato can be
flexible. But Shape, the Supreme Headquarters of Allied Powers in Europe
which is the military arm of Nato, will undergo fundamental and still
unforeseeable changes.

In fact it is - the November NATO summit announced that SHAPE will "transform" into Allied Command Operations and SACLANT (Supreme Allied Commander Atlantic) will become the Allied Command Transformation, whatever that means.

Washington may not announce this new strategy for some time, if ever,
because that might reinforce Europe's wish for its own security and foreign
policy. Like all traditional naval powers, Washington prefers to keep a
balance of power between various states on other continents. That is one
reason Mr Rumsfeld called upon "new Europe" to balance "old Europe". But the
maritime strategy will become clear over time.

I'm not sure why being allies with the Czhech Republic will help a maritime strategy. Nor do I think "balance of power" politics are very much in the American way of doing things (but then again, they said the same thing about containment). This is grasping at straws, me thinks.

This could create some problems for Tony Blair. The US wants to cut its role
in Europe but does not like an independent-minded European foreign and
defence policy. Mr Blair will have to resolve that contradiction and may be
asked again to choose sides.

"No permanent allies or permanent enemies" - the Brits will adapt.

Some Europeans believe that Mr Rumsfeld is as guilty of "irrational
exuberance" today as the New York stock exchange was in the bubble years at
the end of the last decade. He has certainly done all he can to annoy the
Europeans. But he is preparing for a new and different strategic environment
and western Europeans should understand their diminished role.

Reasonable people may even ask whether current US policies will serve the
new American strategic objectives. Such questions are, of course, legitimate
but only if they are posed in terms of the new strategy. They should not be
posed - as many now are - on the basis of what the new breed of Pentagon
planners would regard as terminally obsolete sentimentalism about
superannuated cold-war relations.

Ouch. The problem, of course, with a maritime-aerospace power strategy is that it can easily be converted into neo-isolationism if it has some setbacks. Hence, 10, 20 years from now a new great and possibly sinister power could arise in Europe or other places we would naturally begin to neglect.

The writer is a professor of political economy at Georgetown University

The actor who portrayed the North Vietnamese Colonel in last year's excellent "We Were Soldiers" is not just being blacklisted by his own country but his passport is being revoked and he will not be able to act for five years. Saith the communist government:

"By being a propagandist and a lackey of hostile forces, smearing the image of the People's Army soldiers and smearing the Vietnamese people, Don Duong has sold his conscience at a cheap price and has become a traitor."

Wonder if the Screen Actor's Guild has anything to say?

UPDATE: Just checked their website and here is what you get when you search for Don Duong:

Sorry, no matches were found containing "Don Duong".

Too bad he wasn't protesting the non-existent war in Iraq. I'm sure they would have stuck up for him then!

Danny watches the feed.... and doesn't like what he sees. But to quote Norman Mailer's views of the whole thing, a guy who hasn't written a coherent word in 30 years, is a bit over the top.

Und jetz, Herr Colonel von Clausewitz fur der Fuhrer Hussein:

This use of fortresses has been too little regarded in modern times, and yet it is one of the most natural, and one which has a most powerful effect, and is the least liable to mistakes. If there was a country in which not only all great and rich cities, but all populous places as well were fortified, and defended by the inhabitants and the people belonging to the adjacent districts, then by that means the expedition of military operation would be so much reduced, and the people attacked would press with so great a part of their whole weight in the scales, that the talent as well as the force of will of the enemy's general would sink to nothing.

Anyone else find it interesting that the Iraqis withdrew their Republican Guard units only days before Turkey turned down the United States?

An now for your moment of Tzu:

Generally in warfare:

If ten times the enemy's strength, surround them;

if five times, attack them;

if double, divide them;

if equal, be able to fight them;

if fewer, be able to evade them;

if weaker, be able to avoid them

An interview with Harlan Ullman...

My sense is that as soon as the war starts, or just before the war starts, and the Iraqis understand how badly outgunned they are, far worse than '91; I think it's very likely there are going to be huge, huge defections. So I think there is a certain chance that this war could be over in a matter of days.

Now having said that, the Japanese were very confident on Dec. 6, 1941, the Americans were going to fold. The Clinton administration was very confident that when the first bomb dropped on Belgrade in 1999, Milosevic was going to fold. That didn't happen. So who knows? If Saddam has got weapons of mass destruction, if he falls back to Baghdad and makes it into a Stalingrad, if he blows all the bridges, if he has a scorched- earth policy – if, if, if, if, if. Or if we screw up, we don't get it right. There is a possibility that that's going to happen. But I think it's more likely it's going to be the former than the latter.

Sunday, March 02, 2003

Just for kicks, I put up some photos from my travels and a sample of some of my "artwork".

NewLeftPolitics - A prowar blog coming from the left here. Check it out. Too bad he doesn't update it more. I imagine he is getting as frustrated as me...

Punditwatch is up.

Winner of the hyperbole award, however, is Rep. Porter Goss, R-FL, on This Week [on the arrest of Khaled Sheikh Mohammed - ed.]: “This is a very huge event, the equivalent of the liberation of Paris in the Second World War.”

He doesn't cover Chris Matthew's show, which is sort of a hipper variant of the McLaughlin Group, with even less yelling if you can believe that. Katrina van Heuvel, punditdom's Woman in Black and Tucker "Little Lord Tucker" Carlson got into a good debate... or should I say funny debate when Tucker noted that the anti-war movement, at least in the United States, had yet to produce a credible spokesperson or a credible alteranative plan. Katrina claimed that Howard Dean or Dennis Kucinich were those people to which Tucker loudly and correctly laughed in her face. Chris Matthews who leans towards antiwar agreed with Tucker on this point.

Saturday, March 01, 2003

Shakespeare on war. Here's my favorite:

We go to gain a little patch of ground
That hath in it no profit but the name.
(Hamlet 4.4.18-19)

Here's a well-reasoned essay on why we don't need NATO anymore and how maybe its time to for a new team to deal with post-Cold War tyranny. It's all about self-interest and no permanent friends or allies. Here's the new club he proposes:

An awake Russia would be a fine ally in the new war, since once a Russian’s heart is engaged, so is he come what may. They understand, having been on both sides, that there is Good and Evil. America, Britain, Australia, New Zealand and the Eastern countries believe that too. Spain and Italy seem to get it. The Turks get it. Israel knows it.

So what do we do with all the NATO infrastructure, divvy it up with the EU "army" and the new Coalition of the Willing?

Found via foolsblog.

Strategy Page has a picture of the Massive Ordnance Air Burst weapon (or at least the 10-ton version - there's also rumored to be a 15-ton version):

In dry, dusty conditions, the Daisy Cutter produces a mushroom cloud similar to that created by a nuclear explosion (and for the same reason, the sheer size of the explosion creates an upward pull that sends up a "mushroom" of smoke and dust on a column of smoke). In addition to a more reliable and powerful explosion, MOAB doesn’t need a parachute, like the Daisy Cutter, but uses a GPS (like JDAM) and an aerodynamic body to detonate the bomb at a precise area. Thus the MOAB can be dropped from a higher altitude (like outside the range of machine-guns and rifles).

Okay, now that Bush has revealed, somewhat, his grand strategy in Iraq and the Middle East, shouldn't he be preparing people for the horrors of war that will inevitably be broadcast by the "imbedded media"? What he needs to do in his subsequent speeches is to expand on this part of his Feburary 26th speech:

Protecting those boundaries carries a cost. If war is forced upon us by Iraq's refusal to disarm, we'll meet an enemy who hides his military forces behind civilians, who has terrible weapons, who is capable of any crime. The dangers are real, as our soldiers and sailors, airmen and Marines fully understand. Yet no military has ever been better prepared to meet these challenges.

Members of our armed forces also understand why they may be called to fight. They know that retreat before a dictator guarantees even greater sacrifices in the future. They know that America's cause is right and just: The liberty for an oppressed people and security for the American people.

I would suggest that this be done at West Point, Ft. Hood (home of 4th ID) or Ft. Benning (home of 3rd ID) and then carry these same themes into his inevitable speech before the nation prior to the commencement of this war.

Meanwhile, over on the other side of the tri-axis of evil, Iran holds elections today . Many hold high hopes. Others don't:

…so, now I think that the result of election makes no difference in the situation & that will be just another list of names of the ones who come to steal & save more money for themselves… (from, 1 March)

ADDENDUM: In other election news, a conservative has been elected to the presidency of the Czech Republic. Bad news for France.

This is for Soviet history buffs. Today is the anniversary of the death of Stalin. Glenn Frazier links to a BBC story speculating on his death and has a cool picture of Uncle Joe's toppled statue.

Radio Tikrit tied to the Iraqi National Accord?

I first read about this in the 26 February edition of the Wall Street Journal article by Andrew Higgins noting that a Swedish Radio buff had discovered a mystery radio station broadcasting in Arabic. Radio buffs began following it and noted that while at first the station, named Radio Tikrit, supported Saddam's regime, in recent months it has grown more negative. The website Clandestine Radio has been following this and ties the broadcasts to the Iraqi National Accord, a Iraqi liberation group reportedly tied to the CIA (I have reported on this previously).

Radio Tikrit and Twin Rivers Radio (Wadi al-Rafidayn), CRW and Radio Netherlands Media Network can exclusively report, are "sister" stations of the London-based exile group Iraqi National Accord's own program, al-Mustaqbal (The Future).

A representative of the Accord, which encourages regime change through a coup d'etat, responded to an inquiry about the three radio stations with an invitation for listeners to send e-mail for all three programs to the main Accord e-mail address.

The Accord and its station, al-Mustaqbal, have long been known to receive funding and assistance from the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency. Multiple sources within the Iraqi opposition have independently confirmed that al-Mustaqbal broadcasts from a 50kW Harris transmitter located in Kuwait from a facility also used by the Voice of America. The transmitter broadcast Radio Hurriah (Freedom) programs on behalf of the Iraqi National Congress between 1992 and 1997.

National Imagery and Mapping Agency (Formerly Defense Mapping Agency and Central Imagery Office) have just put up some high resolution maps of Baghdad, Iraq and Middle East. These are VERY large - 150 MB uncompressed and require a special viewer. You can also order print versions of the graphics by calling up the U.S. Geological Survey at 1-888-ASK-USGS. The link to NIMA gives you the map numbers. Read more about it here.

Hack compares the (potential) clash between the US and Saddam as similar to the Battle of Arbela, the decisive victory of Alexander the Great over the Persian Darius and draws some lessons that should be learned:

There are many lessons of history to learn from Arbela, but here are a few obvious lessons. Saddam is no different that tin-horn military dictators who have ruled Middle-Eastern countries for thousands of years. Most of Saddam's army are little more than the farmers with pitchforks who made up the army of Darius. They may show up on a battlefield, but if confronted with a force like a Macedonian phalanx, or an American armored infantry battalion, they have no intention of doing anything but surrendering or running for their lives. It is said that Alexander took about 300,000 prisoners at Arbela, and similar numbers of prisoners could be expected in an invasion of Iraq today. But the key lesson is that Saddam himself is the only real opposition in Iraq today. The best way to deal with him, is to open up a hole in his lines, and head straight for him, just like Alexander did at the battle of Arbela. I'm just a country boy, but where I come from we always said that every bully is also a damn coward, and my guess is that as soon as an American armored infantry battalion or air mobile assault force arrives at a compound where Saddam is holed up, that he will flee from Iraq as fast as he can (if he can flee, and if he is not murdered by his own bodyguard first). And once that happens, the rest of the Iraqi army will collapse as quickly as the army of Darius did at Arbela.

But perhaps the most important lesson from Arbela is this. One of the worst mistakes that American military planners could make would be to try to inflict heavy Iraqi military casualties as a way of defeating Saddam, because most of the Iraqi military who would be killed by unnecessary "shock and awe" tactics, probably don't like Saddam any more than Americans do. And by far the worst mistake that American military planners could make, would be to inflict heavy Iraqi civilian casualties as collateral damage while trying to inflict heavy Iraqi military casualties. Some American military planners are trying to build a case that Iraqi officers would be charged with war crimes if they use civilians as human shields, and heavy civilian casualties result.

Hack's other recent column, "Hurry Up and Wait", can be found here.

Friday, February 28, 2003

One last cup of coffee before I go... to the valley below...

Buster Glosson was quoted in this piece several days ago. It appears to confirm that the USAF has some problems with the so-called "Shock and Awe" plan which I had mistakenly labeled (weeks ago) an "air power" plan. Seems Buster, who the article claims was the "architect" of Gulf War I (try Col Warden, instead) is mad that they aren't bombing the hell out of the infrastructure before sending in the "roman legions" -- which says more about how some in the USAF see the Army and USMC than anything I can try to get into words.

Ages of thoughts on war cascades here. Read them quickly and in order.

This blogger writes that "As Clausewitz wrote, it is important to get public backing for a war - but a few extremist protestors led by the Marxist group ANSWER does not represent a significent portion of the American body politic."

Wellllll... no, Clausewitz never wrote that. In fact, in some cases you don't want public backing for a war. By that I mean, passions of the people, or "hatreds and animosities" may overrule the logic of war being used for political purposes - see for instance The Peloponnesian War, the Sicilian Expedition. Instead, Clausewitz argues for a balance among his trinity of war - the other corners of this triangle being creativity and rationality (cost/benefit analysis). Notice he says that the "hatreds and animosities" concerns "more the people." Here's what he wrote (as translated on the site):

War is, therefore, not only a true chameleon, because it changes its nature in some degree in each particular case, but it is also, as a whole, in relation to the predominant tendencies which are in it, a wonderful trinity, composed of the original violence of its elements, hatred and animosity, which may be looked upon as blind instinct; of the play of probabilities and chance, which make it a free activity of the soul; and of the subordniate nature of a political instrument, by which it belongs purely to the reason.

The first of these three phases concerns more the people; the second more the general and his army; the third more the Government. The passions which break forth in war must already have a latent existence in the peoples. The range which the display of courage and talents shall get in the realm of probabilities and of chance depends on the particular characteristics of the general and his army; but the political objects belong to the Government alone.

These three tendencies, which appear like so many different lawgivers, are deeply rooted in the nature of the subject, and at the same time variable in degree. A theory which would leave any one of them out of account, or set up any arbitrary relation between them, would immediately become involved in such a contradiction with the reality, that it might be regarded as destroyed at once by that alone.

The problem is, therefore, that theory shall keep itself poised in a manner between these three tendencies, as between three points of attraction.

UPDATE: On second thought, I don't want to give the impression that the sentiments of the blogger is wrong, it's just that Clausewitz never exactly said you need the support of the people. In the American way of war, I think that when you commit the Army to a major operation, you do need the support of the American people. The Chief of Staff for the US Army General Gred C. Weyand said in July 1976:

"The American Army really is a people's Army in the sense that it belogns to the American people who take a jealous and proprietary interest in its involvement. When the Army is committed the American people are committed, when the American people lose their committment it is futile to try to keep the Army committed. In the final analysis, the American Army is not so much an arm on the Executive Branch as it is an arm of the American people. The Army, therefore, cannot be committed lightly."

Some say we should get a declaration of war from Congress if we are to go to war with Iraq, that the pre-election resolution is not enough and it was done under extreme political pressure by the administration.

An interesting article reassessing what is meant by a Center of Gravity (found via the Navy's Open Source Weblog):

However, its application must be judicious. The center of gravity needs to be redefined as a “focal point,” not as a strength (or a weakness) or a source of strength. A CoG is more than a critical capability; it is the point where a certain centripetal force seems to exist, something that holds everything else together. For example, al-Qa‘ida cells might operate globally, but they are united by their hatred of apostasy.39 This hatred, not Osama bin Laden, is their CoG. They apparently perceive the United States and its Western values as the enemy CoG (though they do not use the term) in their war against “apostate” Muslim leaders. Decisively defeating al-Qa‘ida will involve neutralizing its CoG, but this will require the use of diplomatic and informational initiatives more than military action.

Commanders and their staffs need to identify where the connections—and the gaps—exist in the enemy’s system as a whole before deciding whether a center of gravity exists. The CoG concept does not apply if enemy elements are not connected sufficiently. In other words, successful antiterrorist operations in Afghanistan may not cause al-Qa‘ida cells in Europe or Singapore to collapse. Indeed, given the proliferation of chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear, and high-explosive weapons that is expected to occur over the next decade or so, it is dangerous to assume that all the segments of the enemy can be defeated by a single knockout blow. Indeed, the continued proliferation of such weapons could very well make the CoG concept academic.

Monkey Business wants to get Saddam on American Idol.

Too late! Already been done.

But many people are hesitant to put Saddam in Pandemonium’s echelon - why? Possibly because he has the characteristic of a comic figure, a cliché, a ridiculous man whose most visible crimes seem to be sins against our notions of good taste. He builds gilded gaudy palaces; he wears silly hats; he fires rifles in the air; he does the obligatory dictator-swimming-in-cold-river bit to prove his virility. He looks almost goofy when he smiles. His rhetoric is larded with mythic grandiosity that amuses the jaded Western ear. Simon from "American Idol" would cut him to shreds: "first, lose the moustache; we're not shooting a porno movie and it's not 1979. Second, I don't believe your gestures. I believe you believe them, but that hardly counts. I don't hear passion. I don't hear hate. I sense hate, but I don't feel hate."

Und hier für Ihr Vergnügen ist Oberst von Clausewitz:

Every one knows the moral effect of a surprise, of an attack in flank or rear. Every one thinks less of the enemy's courage as soon as he turns his back, and ventures much more in pursuit than when pursued. Every one judges of the enemy's general by his reputed talents, by his age and experience, and shapes his course accordingly. Every one casts a scrutinising glance at the spirit and feeling of his own and the enemy's troops. All these and similar effects in the province of the moral nature of man have established themselves by experience, are perpetually recurring, and, therefore, warrant our reckoning them as real quantities of their kind. And what could we do with any theory which should leave them out of consideration? (On War, II:15:3)

Tell me, between Iraq and the US, whose currently got the greater spirit and feeling and whose general is known by his reputed talents?

And now for today's Moment of Tzu:

In war, the general first receives his command from his sovereign.

Then he collects and concentrates his troops and blends and harmonises the different elements before pitching camp.

After that comes directing manoeuvres, of which nothing is more difficult. The difficulty lies in turning the devious into the direct, and misfortune into gain.

Thus, though taking an indirect route after diverting the enemy, and marching forth after he has gone, arriving before him shows knowledge of the strategy of the direct and indirect.

Manoeuvres can offer advantages; but with the undisciplined they also pose dangers. Sun Tzu 7:1-5

Well, we have an Iraqi blogger live from Bhagdad, why not a US military reservist live from the sandbox? It's like a soap opera right now as the world anxiously awaits how things will go with the Dragon Lady.

Speaking of Victor Davis Hanson, Little Green Footballs links to his latest National Review column. Thanks, Chuck.

Robert Kagan's new book was reviewed last week by the Washington Post. The reviewer seems to be unable to make up her mind about it but does find something to sniffle about - you guessed it, Kyoto and ICC, like any terrorist-wannabe gives a flying fig:

Kagan's treatise is remarkably intelligent. It feels right. But his unabashed embrace of double standards is not completely persuasive. Perhaps Kyoto is an imperfect accord. Perhaps France abjures enforcing the Security Council articles against Iraq out of petulance, not principle. But when it comes to the international criminal court, it seems improvident for the United States to advertise justice for all but not for itself. This is an era when only 19 men can kill 3,000 Americans in less than two hours. Terrorists grow from the toxic soil of ignorance, mental illness, fanaticism -- and American double standards. When America announces with impunity that there is one rule for it and another for everyone else, it jeopardizes its security in the raw new world of asymmetrical warfare.

Max Boot weighs in on the protesters and says that modern peace movements had been responsible for prolonging conflicts by giving false hopes to the enemy (and hamstringing politicians at home). Vietnam demonstrators are the target for his contempt:

Anti-Vietnam War demonstrations, by contrast, still evoke pride among many veterans of the barricades. Indeed, the graying hair and sagging bellies of many of today's protesters suggest that quite a few are 1960s stalwarts bent, like the Rolling Stones, on recapturing the lost glory of youth.

The Vietnam rallies are usually judged to have been successful because they stopped the killing of Americans in Southeast Asia. The killing of local people is another matter. The U.S. pullout led directly to the communist conquest of Saigon and Phnom Penh in 1975. The results were a human rights disaster. Tens of thousands of South Vietnamese were executed, hundreds of thousands wound up in brutal "reeducation camps" and more than a million sought to escape in leaky boats. It was even worse in Cambodia, where the Khmer Rouge slaughtered more than a million "class enemies."

Rush Limbaugh adds to this:

Former Wall Street Journal editorial writer Max Boot wrote a piece in Thursday's Los Angeles Times titled, "Protesters with Bloody Hands." Boot makes a point that I've been making: these protesters are actually helping Saddam Hussein along. Janeanne Garafalo screamed that Saddam never thanked them when Brian Kilmeade of Fox News made this point, and I was inundated with e-mails making the same erroneous claim. But Saddam say "thanks" clearly in his newspaper, which is run by his son Uday.

Imperial Overreach? (Part II)

The Economist raises the unanswered question that Bush's new policies bespeak: Can the global policeman really do it all? Or more succinctly, (here comes the obligatory Clausewitz reference) are we soon reaching the "culiminating point of victory" (or a reasonable facsimile thereof)? ((This article is available to premium users only))

All the same, if defeating Saddam Hussein and Kim Jong Il were the only big things America had to worry about, its ten army divisions, its three marine divisions and its overwhelming air power would be sufficient. The numerical superiority of the Iraqi and North Korean armies would be no compensation for America's vastly superior weapons. The Iraqi army is much weaker, in conventional terms, than it was before the Gulf war of 1991, when it was routed. South Korea's army, sniffed at by the Pentagon's war-planners, could probably hold off an invasion from the North—or better—until the American cavalry arrived.

There would be difficulties. Just getting the troops to two conflicts that began simultaneously would be tricky: the assembly of one invasion force in the Gulf has been a ponderous business. Intelligence-gathering equipment, such as spy satellites and reconnaissance aircraft, would be spread thin. The strain would be taken by America's reserves and its National Guard, 168,000 of whose members have already been mobilised. They do much of the unglamorous donkey-work, and the burden laid on their shoulders has grown as the full-time force has shrunk.

America would not necessarily win the two wars as swiftly and bloodlessly as the doctrinal requirements of America's top brass suggest, and as ordinary Americans have come to expect. Even apart from its nuclear threat, North Korea's missiles and artillery could do much damage in the South. Yet the Americans would still win; so the basic answer to the two-fronts question is, yes, America can successfully fight Iraq and North Korea at the same time.

The “but” has to do with the fact that merely ousting Mr Hussein and neutralising Mr Kim would not be all America's generals had to worry about. For one thing, there would be the reconstruction of Iraq. On February 25th, General Eric Shinseki, the army's chief of staff, predicted that lots of soldiers—maybe several hundred thousand—might be needed to feed the hungry and prevent internecine blood-letting. If other countries fail to share the burden, sustaining that sort of commitment would be enormously difficult for America even if the rest of the world were quiet. If American troops had to be diverted to the Korean peninsula, it would probably be impossible. reports that perhaps the bureacratic war between the SecDef and the Joint Staff may be over. The Pentagon has dropped two proposals that would consolidate staff resources for the Joint Staff and the Office of the Secretary of Defense and eliminate legislative requirements that the White House appoint certain assistant secretaries of defense for homeland defense, legislative affairs, reserve affairs and special ops/low intensity conflict. Bottom line: Continued bloated bureacracies.

This is a blow to Rumsfeld's vow to fix problems in the post-9/11 security environment. The iron majors of the Joint Staff, who equate the number of people filling desk space with power, win again.

Per the New York Times, Bhagdad Iraqis "prepare" for war.

President Saddam Hussein warned the population Wednesday night to start excavating trenches in their yards as bomb shelters. There was no sign today that anybody was responding with alacrity. Over all the drumbeat of war — quieter in a country without ready access to satellite television — elicits little more than a collective shrug.

Looks like Saddam is doing a little big of operational analysis and giving up on the North.

Iraq has begun shifting some of its best-trained, best-equipped troops from a base around the northern city of Mosul to positions farther south in an apparent effort to bolster defenses around either Baghdad or President Saddam Hussein's hometown of Tikrit, defense officials said yesterday.

The movement of the Republican Guard's Adnan division marks the first major repositioning of Iraqi forces in recent weeks, the officials said. While the purpose of the move was not immediately clear, it fit with U.S. predictions that the Iraqi military would attempt to defend against an American invasion by falling back to main population centers and drawing U.S. troops into prolonged and bloody urban battles.

The danger here for Saddam is that this gives the US basically an unopposed area to operate in the North - I suppose the remaining Republican Guard division positioned near Kirkuk and the Army divisions will be there to destroy oil fields, air fields and infrastructure conducive to operations.

UPDATE: Washington Times reports that those same northern Army divisions are spending their time talking about surrendering. Who knows, we may get a whole Army division or two. Oh, that genius Saddam!

Morale is low in the Iraqi army and many soldiers are preparing white flags of surrender, we are told by someone in northern Iraq who recently interviewed two defectors from Saddam Hussein's army.
One was a captain who defected from the 5th Mechanized Division of the 1st Corps, based near the northern city of Kirkuk. The captain told our informant that the heavy division was only 35 percent combat-effective. The captain said morale was so low that younger soldiers are speaking openly about surrendering — before the first shot has been fired.
A second soldier, a senior noncommissioned officer, defected from the same division's 34th Brigade, based south of the northern city of Mosul.

Speaking of Annapolis, the current Superintendent is under investigation for a run-in with a Marine guard. I'm suspecting there was probably not a little alcohol and arrogance involved here. Not exactly troubling, per se, but the reaassignment of the Marine after the incident seems uncalled for as it will always be called into question when his performance is reviewed and he is considered for promotion. Sounds like he did the right thing and the Admiral needs to get out of his office more so his employees can recognize him in his civvies.

A nice, Washington Posty style article on life at Annapolis during war.

They're ready to get to work, and questions about U.S. justification for deposing Iraqi President Saddam Hussein are, for the most part, not on their screen.

"I don't think that's our focus, whether or not it's a just war," said Mathison Hall, commander of the Brigade of Midshipmen and the highest-ranking student at the academy. He could well be on the front lines in Iraq as a Marine second lieutenant after his graduation this spring.

"My focus right now is: We may be going to fight a madman. How am I going to lead my troops into battle?" he said. "Thirty years from now, when we're generals, admirals and senators, we'll be focused on the reasons for going to war.

"We don't want to breed robots, but at the same time we follow our orders."

Peloponnesian war fans and National Review readers alert: Victor Davis Hanson also makes an appearance in this article.

Yale Kramer has an alternative plan to nation-building in Iraq. It is sort of imperialism by a coalition of the willing.

Monday, February 24, 2003

A critique sent to me of the Barnett article a few posts down:

This was obviously written last year, before the schism with France and Germany became apparent. Call me an unabashed Huntingtonian (Samuel Huntington, and hey, I even live in Huntington Beach!) but this analysis sounds like Rudyard Kipling's "White Man's Burden". And that ultimately led to a situation of imperial overstretch for the British, who in the last century were the preeminent world power. They found themselves unable to handle the rivalries that developed with Germany in 1914 and again in 1939 without bankrupting themselves and utimately losing their empire. And then as now, the Belle Epoche is drawing to a close.

I agree with George Modalski and Tobjorn Knudsen (and yes, William Strauss and Neil Howe) that many of history's driving forces are cyclical. And one of the most important historical truths of the 4 century historical cycles from the 1500s to the 1900s has been that a set of international systemwide wars create enough devastation and trauma to enable the winner to define the social trance or as it were, the "regime of truth" In other words, become a hegemon with full legtimacy. Without that trauma, there is nothing to motivate nations to accept another's social trance and social truth. Their people ask the question: "Who the hell set them over us? Why should we obey them?" And we ask that question just as loudly when it comes to the UN and accepting the authority of an international consensus over our behavior as the Europeans and the Arabs ask it of doing things the American way. We call the French ungracious for not being our ally on Iraq when we liberated them from Hitler. But actually our parents liberated their parents from Hitler. All our generation did for France was to spy on thier business dealings with Echelon and then pass the information on to American competitors.

Which brings up another reason why we will probably fail as the world's policeman. In a word, as a cop, we're crooked. For most of our history, our foreign policy was based on conflicting domestic constituencies, and that was certainly true of the 1990s. As much as we hate the Council on Foreign Relations (which started out in the 1920s as a council advocating having foreign relations) in its heyday from 1940 to 1980, it provided a forum for consensus building amongst elites that enabled the US to act responsibly, albeit in an environment in which it was the only intact world power, at least at the start. Now we are seeing unilateralism on both sides, between the US and the core of the EU. And France and Germany are now strategic competitors and will remain that way even if we take over Iraq. Because we no longer have the legitimacy, as much as we think we do.
And like the UK, we too can be overstretched. That's what Al Qaeda's strategy is all about. Maybe we can fight a war in Iraq simautaneous with one in Korea (if the Chinese don't intervene on the side of the North Koreans). But we will need to mobilize every National Guardsman and Ready Reservist to do it. And when they get exhausted and need to be rotated back to the rear, we'll need draftees or foreign legionnaires or criminals fighting for clemency, somebody, to replace them with. And that's just manpower. We will still be short of raw materials. We don't have enough of our high tech weapons for two wars let alone more than that. And will Al Qaeda start to attack targets more strategically and tie us down in more places from Colombia to the Phillipines and Indonesia to break our logistics still further?

We may have superiority in the world, but even militarily, we do not have supremacy.