Archive for December 2006

Last Post of 2006

1 hour left.
I’m leaving this year with my tiny family intact.
I had a good job that I liked.
I wrote some good stuff.
I went to Africa.
I said goodbye to an old dog and hello to a new one.

I’m still sober.
I’m still angry.
I’m still trying to make a difference in this world.

It’s the end of Saddam as we know it…

It’s the end of Saddam as we know it…
It’s the end of Saddam as we know it…
It’s the end of Saddam as we know it…
And I feel fine…

I heard the Kid singing that today. It pretty much expresses exactly how I feel right now about Saddam’s hanging.

2007 Predictions

Here are some predictions for the coming year.

1. Fidel Castro – 2007 will be his “lucky year” or rather Cuba’s. Expect a big state funeral attended by St. Jimmy Carter and Al Gore. St. Jimmy will shed real honest to goodness tears and remain living proof that only the good die young.

2. Ariel Sharon – Life support will be withdrawn and Arik will finally be allowed to move on. I will regret all the bad things I said about him in 2000.

3. The head of Al Qaeda in Iraq will lose his, most likely to a Hellfire missile fired by an American drone piloted by a Nintendo graduate in California. One of his lieutenants will disappear and reappear in Michigan as the wealthy owner of a chain of gas stations.

4. Bin Laden will continue to elude capture in the same way that Elvis continues to avoid being photographed. However, I expect either Mullah Omar or “the Z Man” al-Zawahiri’s remains to be identified using DNA after a similar airstrike by a Nintendo graduate.

5. The US Air Force will award the Nintendo Corporation of America a special “Lifetime Achievement” award. Well, maybe they won’t but after a few more kills they should.

6. Saddam Hussein will not see the end of next year – if he’s not dead now or by the end of this weekend.
Copyright 2006 Cox and Forkum

7. Most of the following celebrities will not make it completely through 2007 alive: Dick Van Dyke, Mickey Rooney, Liz Taylor, Dick Clark, Ed McMahon, Tony Curtis, Charlton Heston, Kirk Douglas.

8. Youthful Surprise: One of the following young stars will die “tragically” – if you consider choking on your own vomit after mixing alcohol and drugs a tragic death: Lindsay Lohan, Nicole Ritchie, Brittney Spears, Hillary Duff. I fully expect Paris Hilton to live forever and be cracking sex jokes at the age of 90.

9. Nelson Mandela – He should have died 10 years ago to preserve his legacy, but perhaps History will ignore his increasingly erratic behavior.

10. St. Jimmy Carter will publish another book blaming Jews and the American foreign policy they control for boll weevil infestations in the Southern states – or something. Liberals will sigh in ecstasy and true liberals like me will keep checking the flag posts at our local post offices in expectation.

RIP Mr. President

My thoughts on the passing of President Gerald Ford, posted this morning at Dean’s World:

Did he do the right thing for the country by pardoning Nixon?

How you answer that question will pretty much show your feelings about President Ford.

I disagree with his decision to pardon Nixon and believe that President Ford would have been re-elected in 1976 had he done so. That would have spared us the Carter presidency, and the consequent rise of Islamic fascism that it encouraged.

In short, a two-term Ford presidency would have changed American history in ways that are scarcely imaginable today.

The choice to pardon Nixon was one of History’s great tipping points, and while I believe that President Ford made the wrong decision, I can’t help but think that he did so fully knowing that he was sacrificing his own future for his country.

I respect that – and him – even though I continue to believe he made the wrong decision.

A beautiful sight tonight…

High above a jet plane soared in the crystal clear sky. To the west the moon shone. Gradually the plane’s contrail caught the moonlight, and for a short while it glowed like a comet’s tail streaking across the sky.

Wow…

Tanzania Trip Video

This is a rough draft of various videos shot on a 2 megapixel camera. I’ve added a soundtrack by one of my favorite soukous stars, Koffi Olomide to make it palatable. I haven’t edited it, so it’s not pro. However if you’ve never been to Tanzania, it should give you a feel for the nation that I can’t help but love.

JK Rawlings’ Wastebasket

Top 10 titles and ideas binned by JK Rawlings before she began writing the last of her Harry Potter books, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows:

10. Harry Potter and the Dead Hooker in the Trunk – Didn’t get very far on this one.
9. Harry Potter and Holy Crap I’m Killing My Cash Cow – Lost some sleep contemplating this plot.
8. Harry Potter and the Homo-erotic Relationship with Professor Snape- Shot down by closeted Scholastic editor.
7. Harry Potter and the Cricket Bat that He Beats the Tar out of Malfoy With Once and For All – Too brutal – albeit a personal fave.
6. Harry Potter and The Screaming Harpies at the View - Harry Potter must triumph over Lord Voldemort while at the same time defending each of his act ions to the womyn of the View. – Said Scholastic editor loves Rosie too much.
5. Harry Potter and the One Way Ticket to Cancun - Harry says f*** all to fighting evil, takes the last of his gold out of Gringott’s and buys a cabana in Mexico. Paris Hilton and Lindsay Lohan drop by with case of Chivas and a video camera.
4. Harry Potter and the Magical Uzi – Harry Potter wields an automatic rifle with unlimited ammo and firing capacity, leaving Hogwarts in a Columbine style blaze of Glory.
3. Harry Potter and the Disciples of Evil - Harry starts a death-metal band and tours the world before overdosing on smack in a Tokyo hotel room. Too cliche.
2. Harry Potter and the Immense Writer’s Block - Just how much can one woman write in 10 years?
1. Harry Potter and the Same Crap You’ve Read In the Last 7 Books Repackaged - Selected and retitled as “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows”.

Democrats Fan Isolationist Flames

Democratic critics of the war in Iraq have called for the redeployment of troops out of Iraq. Congressman John Murtha has suggested moving American forces back to Okinawa – without consulting the Okinawans who have regularly protested against the presence of American troops on their island. By raising the question of redeployment, Congressman Murtha has unwittingly joined many Conservatives who question America’’s deployments around the world. If American forces are in fact a destabilizing presence in Iraq, as Senator Russell Feingold believes, why are they still in Europe and South Korea?

Senator Carl Levin has stated that American forces are being used by the Iraqis to prevent them from making the hard choices and compromises necessary to make their democracy work. Couldn’‘t a similar argument be used by all of Europe – which spends next to nothing on its own defense while gradually succumbing to Leftist anti-Americanism, Islamic extremism and anti-Semitism?

If Senator Feingold is correct about our presence in Iraq having a destabilizing effect, would he agree that the presence of our forces is behind the rise of anti-Americanism throughout Europe? Vandals have targeted American cemeteries in France, desecrating graves and spray-painting ‘’Take your garbage out of our soil.’’ European politicians regularly downplay their ties to the United States. UK Prime Minister Tony Blair is being forced out of his position prematurely in part for being ‘’too close’’ to President Bush. His likely successor, current Chancellor of the Exchequer Gordon Brown, is attempting to distance himself from Blair’’s pro-American stances in his Parliamentary speeches.

Americans have occupied Germany for over sixty years. The initial occupation was meant to keep Germany from attacking its neighbors – something that it had done every generation on average from 1870 – 1939. However that occupation quickly morphed into a bulwark to protect Western Europe from the Communism that had spread after World War 2 and the fall of Nazi Germany.

According to Dr. Tim Kane at The Heritage Foundation, Germany is second only to Iraq in the number of American military personnel stationed on foreign soil. In 2005 65,000 American soldiers, sailors and airmen were stationed in Germany – with an equal amount shared between Korea and Japan. Given Germany’’s integration into the European Union and the collapse of Communism in Eastern Europe, what is the justification for our continued presence in Germany?

As of 2005 386,000 American troops were deployed abroad, twenty-eight percent less than the yearly Cold War era average of 536,000. However fourteen nations around the world still hosted more than a thousand US military personnel in 2005 according to Dr. Kane’’s figures. If we are going to bring our troops home from Iraq, shouldn’‘t we also bring them home from Kosovo, Iceland, Spain and South Korea? To the loved ones of those deployed it doesn’‘t matter if they are in Austria or Australia, Zimbabwe or Zambia. Their lives are disrupted – their loved ones far away.

Charlie Rangel (D-NY) has called for the resumption of the Draft. While Congressman Rangel’’s intention is to make it more difficult for a president to go to war, he has justified the draft on foreign policy grounds. Appearing on CBS’’s Face the Nation, Rangel said, ‘’If we’‘re going to challenge Iran and challenge North Korea and then, as some people have asked, to send more troops to Iraq, we can’‘t do that without a draft.’’

We could do it without a draft if we placed our troops where they were most needed. We could double our force in Iraq overnight simply by taking them from Korea, Japan and Germany. To combat the Taliban in Afghanistan, we could nearly triple our force to 50,000 from the current 19,500 by redeploying those currently assigned to Turkey, Kosovo, Spain, Italy, Belgium, the UK and Iceland. Several of these nations field governments that are cool to the US presence in their countries to begin with. What strategic interest does our presence serve in these nations while our enemies regroup in Afghanistan?

America only recently became a global power. Prior to 1945 the United States existed in isolation, concerned with expanding and developing its resources between the Atlantic and Pacific oceans. Only the specter of Communism and the experience of fighting two world wars in the span of a single generation prevented America’’s natural isolationist streak to reassert itself.

The current anti-war stance of the Democrats risks tapping into the latent isolationism of Americans. When it comes to Iraq there is little separating the attitudes of many of the party’’s elite, like former president Jimmy Carter, from Harry Browne, former presidential candidate from the Libertarian Party. Although supposedly ideological opposite to the Democrats, the Libertarians have consistently maintained isolationist policies that are often promoted by the Republican Party to rally its conservative base. In its quest for power, the Democrats have instead taken up the Isolationist mantle, creating a unique political realignment of the American electorate.

By using the Iraq War as an issue to attain political power, the Democratic Party risks fanning isolationist flames it has unwittingly stoked over the past three years. Should the party succeed in ‘’redeploying’’ American forces in Iraq, it may find itself fighting a conflagration of Isolationism that questions American troop deployments worldwide – from Kosovo to Kuwait, Thailand to Turkey.

There’s snow on Kilimanjaro

I know because I see it outside from the street.

In Moshi Tanzania – writing from an Internet cafe I had to log in to Google a trek up the mountain.

Kili is an odd mountain. From the ground up it doesn’t look all that high, and the climb isn’t all that technical. However it does kill a fair share of tourists – non-mountaineer types who read the adventures of Reinhold Meissner and think that they too can “feel alive” the way he does. Instead they wind up dead on the mountain.

The air is thick with mosquitoes and the thin rank smell of burning garbage punctuated by soft spills of floral scents.

It’s Tanzania – and I’m back.

Iraq Study Group Report – Cliff’s Notes Version

Link here.

Analysis:
Overall I am not surprised. Most of the recommendations are policy-wonk stuff, with the hot-spots being the attempt to get Syria’s buy-in through the carrot of the Golan Heights (with US military guarantees to Israel) and calling Iran’s bluff on negotiations:

Our limited contacts with Iran’s government lead us to believe that its leaders are likely to say they will not participate in diplomatic efforts to support stability in Iraq… An Iranian refusal to do so would demonstrate to Iraq and the rest of the world Iran’s rejectionist attitude and approach, which could lead to its isolation. Further, Iran’s refusal to cooperate on this matter would diminish its prospects of engaging with the United States in the broader dialogue it seeks. Pg 52

It’s a document that appears to give both sides of the aisle in Washington political cover, while at the same time giving a few well-needed kick in the pants to the Iraqis. As for Syria, I’ve argued that it would be worth bringing them onboard before, so I don’t seem the harm in trying – as long as the price isn’t Lebanon.

Key quotes:
Iraqis have not been convinced that they must take responsibility for their own future. pg 32

Because of the importance of Iraq, the potential for catastrophe, and the role and commitments of the United States in initiating events that have led to the current situation, we believe it would be wrong for the United States to abandon the country through a precipitate withdrawal of troops and support. A premature American departure from Iraq would almost certainly produce greater sectarian violence and further deterioration of conditions... pg 37

Sustained increases in U.S. troop levels would not solve the fundamental cause of violence in Iraq, which is the absence of national reconciliation. pg 38

How’s about breaking Iraq up like Sen. Joe Biden recommends?

Iraqis, particularly Sunni Arabs, told us that such a division would confirm wider fears across the Arab world that the United States invaded Iraq to weaken a strong Arab state. pg 39

The United States must build a new international consensus for stability in Iraq and the region. In order to foster such consensus, the United States should embark on a robust diplomatic effort to establish an international support structure intended to stabilize Iraq and ease tensions in other countries in the region. pg 43

Iraq cannot be addressed effectively in isolation from other major regional issues, interests, and unresolved conflicts. To put it simply, all key issues in the Middle East—the Arab-Israeli conflict, Iraq, Iran, the need for political and economic reforms, and extremism and terrorism—are inextricably linked. pg 44

List of Recommendations (some verbatim, other condensed to limit wonkiness):

RECOMMENDATION 1: The United States, working with the Iraqi government, should launch the comprehensive New Diplomatic Offensive to deal with the problems of Iraq and of the region. This new diplomatic offensive should be launched before December 31, 2006.

RECOMMENDATION 2: The goals of the diplomatic offensive as it relates to regional players should be to:
i. Support the unity and territorial integrity of Iraq.
ii. Stop destabilizing interventions and actions by Iraq’s neighbors.
iii. Secure Iraq’s borders, including the use of joint patrols with neighboring countries.
iv. Prevent the expansion of the instability and conflict beyond Iraq’s borders.
v. Promote economic assistance, commerce, trade, political support, and, if possible, military assistance for the Iraqi government from non-neighboring Muslim nations.
vi. Energize countries to support national political reconciliation in Iraq.
vii. Validate Iraq’s legitimacy by resuming diplomatic relations, where appropriate, and reestablishing embassies in Baghdad.
viii. Assist Iraq in establishing active working embassies in key capitals in the region (for example, in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia).
ix. Help Iraq reach a mutually acceptable agreement on Kirkuk.
x. Assist the Iraqi government in achieving certain security, political, and economic milestones, including better performance on issues such as national reconciliation, equitable distribution of oil revenues, and the dismantling of militias.

RECOMMENDATION 3: As a complement to the diplomatic offensive, and in addition to the Support Group discussed below, the United States and the Iraqi government should support the holding of a conference or meeting in Baghdad of the Organization of the Islamic Conference or the Arab League both to assist the Iraqi government in promoting national reconciliation in Iraq and to reestablish their diplomatic presence in Iraq.

RECOMMENDATION 4: As an instrument of the New Diplomatic Offensive, an Iraq International Support Group should be organized immediately following the launch of the New Diplomatic Offensive.

RECOMMENDATION 5: The Support Group should consist of Iraq and all the states bordering Iraq, including Iran and Syria; the key regional states, including Egypt and the Gulf States; the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council; the European Union; and, of course, Iraq itself.

RECOMMENDATION 6: The New Diplomatic Offensive and the work of the Support Group should be carried out with urgency, and should be conducted by and organized at the level of foreign minister or above. The Secretary of State, if not the President, should lead the U.S. effort. That effort should be both bilateral and multilateral, as circumstances require.

RECOMMENDATION 7: The Support Group should call on the participation of the office of the United Nations Secretary- General in its work. The United Nations Secretary-General should designate a Special Envoy as his representative.

RECOMMENDATION 8: The Support Group, as part of the New Diplomatic Offensive, should develop specific approaches to neighboring countries that take into account the interests, perspectives, and potential contributions as suggested above.

RECOMMENDATION 9: Under the aegis of the New Diplomatic Offensive and the Support Group, the United States should engage directly with Iran and Syria in order to try to obtain their commitment to constructive policies toward Iraq and other regional issues. In engaging Syria and Iran, the United States should consider incentives, as well as disincentives, in seeking constructive results.

RECOMMENDATION 10: Keep Iran’s nuke problem in the UN. Pg 53.

RECOMMENDATION 11: Convince Iran to play nice with Iraq. Pg. 53.

RECOMMENDATION 12: Convince Syria to play nice with Iraq. Pg. 54

RECOMMENDATION 13: Renewed diplomatic effort on Arab-Israeli conflict along Madrid Conference lines. Pg 55 . RECOMMENDATION 15: Bring Syria in from the cold.pg 57

RECOMMENDATION 16:In exchange of Syrian cooperation, give Israel security guarantee over Golan while pushing them to give the Golan Heights back to Syria. Pg 57

RECOMMENDATION 17 – Support a national unity gov’t in Palestinian Territories. pg 57

RECOMMENDATION 18 – Boost support to Afghanistan (inc. redeployment of troops out of Iraq) pg 58

Internal to Iraq recommendations;

RECOMMENDATION 19: Direct communication between US President, Iraqi PM: Update to American public. Objective: Milestone achievement. Pg 61

RECOMMENDATION 20: If Iraqis meet milestones, US will continue support (military, financial).

RECOMMENDATION 21: If Iraqis fail to meet milestones, US will decrease support

RECOMMENDATION 22: US President should state no permanent military bases in Iraq (Iraq can request temporary ones). Pg. 62

RECOMMENDATION 23: US President should state the US not interested in Iraqi oil Pg. 62.
Milestones listed pg 62-64

RECOMMENDATION 24: Completion dates of some milestones may be pushed back toQ1 2007.

RECOMMENDATION 25: Work with Iraqis to set other milestones.

RECOMMENDATION 26: UN should conduct a review of Constitution

RECOMMENDATION 27: Reintegration of Baathists sans high-level leaders.

RECOMMENDATION 28: Oil revenue sharing. Oil revenues should accrue to the central government and be shared on the basis of population. No formula that gives control over revenues from future fields to the regions or gives control of oil fields to the regions is compatible with national reconciliation. Pg65

RECOMMENDATION 29: Hold Provincial Elections

RECOMMENDATION 30: International arbitration on status of city of Kirkuk.

RECOMMENDATION 31: Amnesty. Amnesty proposals must be far-reaching. Pg 66

RECOMMENDATION 32: Minorities. The rights of women and the rights of all minority communities in Iraq, including Turkmen, Chaldeans, Assyrians, Yazidis, Sabeans, and Armenians, must be protected.

RECOMMENDATION 33: Civil society. The Iraqi government should stop using the process of registering nongovernmental organizations as a tool for politicizing or stopping their activities.

RECOMMENDATION 34: The question of the future U.S. force presence must be on the table for discussion as the national reconciliation dialogue takes place.

RECOMMENDATION 35: The United States must make active efforts to engage all parties in Iraq, with the exception of al Qaeda.

RECOMMENDATION 36: The United States should encourage dialogue between sectarian communities, as outlined in the New Diplomatic Offensive above. It should press religious leaders inside and outside Iraq to speak out on behalf of peace and reconciliation.

RECOMMENDATION 37: Iraqi amnesty proposals must not be undercut in Washington by either the executive or the legislative branch. Pg. 68

RECOMMENDATION 38: The United States should support the presence of neutral international experts as advisors to the Iraqi government on the processes of disarmament, demobilization, and reintegration.

RECOMMENDATION 39: The United States should provide financial and technical support and establish a single office in Iraq to coordinate assistance to the Iraqi government and its expert advisors to aid a program to disarm, demobilize, and reintegrate militia members.

RECOMMENDATION 40: The United States should not make an open-ended commitment to keep large numbers of American troops deployed in Iraq.

RECOMMENDATION 41: The United States must make it clear to the Iraqi government that the United States could carry out its plans, including planned redeployments, even if Iraq does not implement its planned changes. America’s other security needs and the future of our military cannot be made hostage to the actions or inactions of the Iraqi government.

RECOMMENDATION 42: We should seek to complete the training and equipping mission by the first quarter of 2008, as stated by General George Casey on October 24, 2006.

RECOMMENDATION 43: Military priorities in Iraq must change, with the highest priority given to the training, equipping, advising, and support mission and to counterterrorism operations.

RECOMMENDATION 44: The most highly qualified U.S. officers and military personnel should be assigned to the imbedded teams, and American teams should be present with Iraqi units down to the company level. The U.S. military should establish suitable career-enhancing incentives for these officers and personnel.

RECOMMENDATION 45: The United States should support more and better equipment for the Iraqi Army by encouraging the Iraqi government to accelerate its Foreign Military Sales requests and, as American combat brigades move out of Iraq, by leaving behind some American equipment for Iraqi forces.

RECOMMENDATION 46: The new Secretary of Defense should make every effort to build healthy civil-military relations, by creating an environment in which the senior military feel free to offer independent advice not only to the civilian leadership in the Pentagon but also to the President and the National Security Council, as envisioned in the Goldwater- Nichols legislation.

RECOMMENDATION 47: As redeployment proceeds, the Pentagon leadership should emphasize training and education programs for the forces that have returned to the continental United States in order to “reset” the force and restore the U.S. military to a high level of readiness for global contingencies.

RECOMMENDATION 48: As equipment returns to the United States, Congress should appropriate sufficient funds to restore the equipment to full functionality over the next five years.

RECOMMENDATION 49: The administration, in full consultation with the relevant committees of Congress, should assess the full future budgetary impact of the war in Iraq and its potential impact on the future readiness of the force, the ability to recruit and retain high-quality personnel, needed investments in procurement and in research and development, and the budgets of other U.S. government agencies involved in the stability and reconstruction effort.

RECOMMENDATION 50: The entire Iraqi National Police should be transferred to the Ministry of Defense, where the police commando units will become part of the new Iraqi Army. Pg 78

RECOMMENDATION 51: The entire Iraqi Border Police should be transferred to the Ministry of Defense, which would have total responsibility for border control and external security.

RECOMMENDATION 52: The Iraqi Police Service should be given greater responsibility to conduct criminal investigations and should expand its cooperation with other elements in the Iraqi judicial system in order to better control crime and protect Iraqi civilians.

RECOMMENDATION 53: The Iraqi Ministry of the Interior should undergo a process of organizational transformation, including efforts to expand the capability and reach of the current major crime unit (or Criminal Investigation Division) and to exert more authority over local police forces. The sole authority to pay police salaries and disburse financial support to local police should be transferred to the Ministry of the Interior.

RECOMMENDATION 54: The Iraqi Ministry of the Interior should proceed with current efforts to identify, register, and control the Facilities Protection Service.

RECOMMENDATION 55: The U.S. Department of Defense should continue its mission to train the Iraqi National Police and the Iraqi Border Police, which should be placed within the Iraqi Ministry of Defense.

RECOMMENDATION 56: The U.S. Department of Justice should direct the training mission of the police forces remaining under the Ministry of the Interior.

RECOMMENDATION 57: Expand embedding of US police trainers in police

RECOMMENDATION 58: The FBI should expand its investigative and forensic training and facilities within Iraq, to include coverage of terrorism as well as criminal activity.

RECOMMENDATION 59: The Iraqi government should provide funds to expand and upgrade communications equipment and motor vehicles for the Iraqi Police Service.

RECOMMENDATION 60: The U.S. Department of Justice should lead the work of organizational transformation in the Ministry of the Interior.

RECOMMENDATION 61: Programs led by the U.S. Department of Justice to establish courts; to train judges, prosecutors, and investigators; and to create institutions and practices to fight corruption must be strongly supported and funded.

RECOMMENDATION 62 – 63: Reform of oil sector pgs 84-5

RECOMMENDATION 64: U.S. economic assistance should be increased to a level of $5 billion per year rather than being permitted to decline.

RECOMMENDATION 65: An essential part of reconstruction efforts in Iraq should be greater involvement by and with international partners, who should do more than just contribute money. They should also actively participate in the design and construction of projects.

RECOMMENDATION 66: The United States should take the lead in funding assistance requests from the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, and other humanitarian agencies.

RECOMMENDATION 67: The President should create a Senior Advisor for Economic Reconstruction in Iraq.

RECOMMENDATION 68: The Chief of Mission in Iraq should have the authority to spend significant funds through a program structured along the lines of the Commander’s Emergency Response Program, and should have the authority to rescind funding from programs and projects in which the government of Iraq is not demonstrating effective partnership.

RECOMMENDATION 69: The authority of the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction should be renewed for the duration of assistance programs in Iraq.

RECOMMENDATION 70: A more flexible security assistance program for Iraq, breaking down the barriers to effective interagency cooperation, should be authorized and implemented.

RECOMMENDATION 71: Authority to merge U.S. funds with those from international donors and Iraqi participants on behalf of assistance projects should be provided.

RECOMMENDATION 72: Costs for the war in Iraq should be included in the President’s annual budget request, starting in FY 2008: the war is in its fourth year, and the normal budget process should not be circumvented. Funding requests for the war in Iraq should be presented clearly to Congress and the American people.

RECOMMENDATION 73: The Secretary of State, the Secretary of Defense, and the Director of National Intelligence should accord the highest possible priority to professional language proficiency and cultural training, in general and specifically for U.S. officers and personnel about to be assigned to Iraq.

RECOMMENDATION 74: In the short term, if not enough civilians volunteer to fill key positions in Iraq, civilian agencies must fill those positions with directed assignments.

RECOMMENDATION 75: For the longer term, the United States government needs to improve how its constituent agencies—Defense, State, Agency for International Development, Treasury, Justice, the intelligence community, and others— respond to a complex stability operation like that represented by this decade’s Iraq and Afghanistan wars and the previous decade’s operations in the Balkans.

RECOMMENDATION 76: The State Department should train personnel to carry out civilian tasks associated with a complex stability operation outside of the traditional embassy setting. It should establish a Foreign Service Reserve Corps with personnel and expertise to provide surge capacity for such an operation.

RECOMMENDATION 77-8: The Director of National Intelligence and the Secretary of Defense should collect and report better data on sources of instability in Iraq.

Rumsfeld’s Lessons

Once again, Strategypage nails it:


The basic strategy in Iraq is, historically, sound. You help the locals get organized so they can take care of themselves. That means elections and help to rebuild local institutions. But there’s never a guarantee that will work. The U.S. Marines were in Haiti for nearly 30 years (from 1914), and the country still reverted to dictatorship and poverty when the marines left. This exposes a truth that many refuse to acknowledge. Fixing countries isn’t easy. The “civil society” that we in the West take for granted, cannot just be conjured up. The harmonious relationships that enable some democracies to work, are not a given. Those relationships often require a lot of bad habits to be left behind. This is not easy. Just check a history book.

Bill Roggio’s In Fallujah

I gave $10 to fund Bill’s trip to Iraq. In return I get near-daily dispatches like this:

Hello,

I’ve moved through Kuwait and Baghdad, and am now at Fallujah. I’ll spend
about a week here with Regimental Combat Team – 5 (Marines). In Fallujah
I’ll embed with a Police Transition Team (PTT) and also meet with the Civil
Affairs Group. The next stop will be in Ramadi with the 1/6 Marine Infantry
and Civil Affairs Group, and hopefully with the 54th Engineers as well.

The trip- from my front door to Fallujah – took 3 ½ days total (accounting
for the 8 hour time shift). That is remarkable considering Iraq is a war
zone. I spent all of 2 hours in the Green Zone getting my ID badge and
waiting for a flight out. My hat goes off to the Public Affairs teams and
the Combined Press Information Center in Baghdad.

I’ve taken on an additional project while here in Iraq. Jim Hake of Spirit
of America requested I follow up on some of their projects while in theater,
and I gladly accepted. This was unplanned, I didn’t receive the email while
in Dubai. You have to be flexible out here.

Spirit of America does wonderful humanitarian work in Iraq, Afghanistan and
the Horn of Africa by providing needed supplies to local communities and
organizations, and promoting democracy. Spirit of America works with the
military. Our troops are on the front lines and know where the aid can make
the greatest impact.

I will meet with the military personnel who are managing these projects, and
providing an update at Spirit of America’s Blog. This work will be done in
addition to my planned coverage. Several of the projects they asked me to
look into are run from Ramadi and Fallujah.

I am very excited about this opportunity, as I greatly respect Spirit of
America, its staff and the work it does in the Middle East.
Spirit of America Website:
http://www.spiritofamerica.net/
Spirit of America Blog:
http://www.spiritofamerica.net/site/blog
Best wishes to you & yours,
Bill

I’m a strong believer in putting your money where your mouth is. Lipservice and words are cheap. So if you believe in Bill’s mission – even if you are one of my Lefty Moonbats who don’t – give him some cash.

6 Years of Sobriety

Here’s to me…

NOVA Drinking in Japan 1993

Chavez Threatens Suicide

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez stunned reporters today at a press conference when he produced a handgun and threatened to commit suicide unless he win’s Sunday’s presidential election unanimously.
Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez Waving Gun

“If one Venezuelan, one votes against me, I promise I will pull the trigger,” the agitated Chavez stated to a stunned press. Later Chavez waved the gun around the room chirping “Pew! Pew!” before answering one reporter’s question regarding Opposition presidential candidate Manuel Rosales’s assertion that Chavez is unstable. “Absolutely not! My madness is seeing poverty in the streets, it’s seeing the powerful treading on the powerless. It’s the aliens in my shoes and the smell of sashimi in my pants which Bush places there with his devilish thoughts.”

President Bush is feverishly calling baseball managers, trying to find a Venezuelan player that is eligible to vote in the Dec 3 election and keep Chavez to his word according to an undisclosed White House source.