Archive for January 2007

Top 10 Myths of the Iraq War

Lifted verbatim from StrategyPage:

Top 10 Myths of the Iraq War. In no particular order. There are more, but ten is a manageable number.

1-No Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD). Several hundred chemical weapons were found, and Saddam had all his WMD scientists and technicians ready. Just end the sanctions and add money, and the weapons would be back in production within a year. At the time of the invasion, all intelligence agencies, world-wide, believed Saddam still had a functioning WMD program. Saddam had shut them down because of the cost, but created the illusion that the program was still operating in order to fool the Iranians. The Iranians wanted revenge on Saddam because of the Iraq invasion of Iran in 1980, and the eight year war that followed.

2-The 2003 Invasion was Illegal. Only according to some in the UN. By that standard, the invasion of Kosovo and bombing of Serbia in 1999 was also illegal. Saddam was already at war with the U.S. and Britain, because Iraq had not carried out the terms of the 1991 ceasefire, and was trying to shoot down coalition aircraft patrolling the no-fly zone.

3-Sanctions were working. The sanctions worked for Saddam, not for Iraq. Saddam used the sanctions as an excuse to punish the Shia majority for their 1991 uprising, and help prevent a new one. The “Oil For Food” program was corrupted with the help of bribed UN officials, and mass media outlets that believed Iraqi propaganda. Saddam was waiting out the sanctions, and bribing France, Russia and China, with promises of oil contracts and debt repayments, to convince the UN to lift the sanctions.

4-Overthrowing Saddam Only Helped Iran.
Of course, and this was supposed to make Iran more approachable and open to negotiations. With the Iraqi “threat” gone, it was believed that Iran might lose its radical ways and behave. Iran got worse as a supporter of terrorism and developer of WMD. Irans clerical dictatorship did not want a democracy next door. The ancient struggle between the Iranians and Arabs was brought to the surface, and the UN became more active in dealing with problems caused by pro-terrorist government of Iran. As a result of this, the Iranian police state has faced more internal dissent. From inside Iran, Iraq does not look like an Iranian victory.

5-The Invasion Was a Failure. Saddam’s police state was overthrown and a democracy established, which was the objective of the operation. Peace did not ensue because Saddam’s supporters, the Sunni Arab minority, were not willing to deal with majority rule, and war crimes trials. A terror campaign followed. Few expected the Sunni Arabs to be so stupid. There’s a lesson to be learned there.

6-The Invasion Helped Al Qaeda. Compared to what? Al Qaeda was a growing movement before 2003, and before 2001. But after the Iraq invasion, and especially the Sunni Arab terrorism, al Qaeda fell in popularity throughout the Moslem world. Arab countries cracked down on al Qaeda operations more than ever before. Without the Iraq invasion, al Qaeda would still have safe havens all over the Arab world.

7-Iraq Is In A State of Civil War. Then so was Britain when the IRA was active, and so is Spain today because ETA is still active. Both IRA and ETA are terrorist organizations based on ethnic identity. India also has tribal separatist rebels who are quite active. That’s not considered a civil war. This is all about partisans playing with labels for political ends, not accurately describing a terror campaign.

8-Iraqis Were Better Off Under Saddam.
Most Iraqis disagree. Check election results and opinion polls. Reporters tend to ask Iraqi Sunni Arabs this question, but they were the only ones who benefited from Saddams rule.

9-The Iraq War Caused Islamic Terrorism to Increase in Europe. The Moslem unrest in Europe was there before 2001, and 2003. Interviews of Islamic radicals in Europe reveals that the hatred is not motivated by Iraq, but by daily encounters with hostile natives. Blaming Islamic terrorism on Iraq is another attempt to avoid dealing with a homegrown problem.

10- The War in Iraq is Lost. By what measure? Saddam and his Baath party are out of power. There is a democratically elected government. Part of the Sunni Arab minority continues to support terror attacks, in an attempt to restore the Sunni Arab dictatorship. In response, extremist Shia Arabs formed vigilante death squads to expel all Sunni Arabs. Given the history of democracy in the Middle East, Iraq is working through its problems. Otherwise, one is to believe that the Arabs are incapable of democracy and only a tyrant like Saddam can make Iraqi “work.” If democracy were easy, the Arab states would all have it. There are problems, and solutions have to be found and implemented. That takes time, but Americans have, since the 18th century, grown weary of wars after three years. If the war goes on longer, the politicians have to scramble to survive the bad press and opinion polls. Opposition politicians take advantage of the situation, but this has nothing to do with Iraq, and everything to do with local politics in the United States.

Family Secrets Revealed – I’m not Jewish

One of the perils of genealogy is uncovering family stories that don’t stand up to the facts one uncovers during research. This happened to me last week when I discovered my great great grandfather’s family, the Holtermanns, who emigrated to the United States during the 1840s, were buried in a small Catholic cemetery in the city of St. Louis.

For years I had labored under the belief that my grandmother was Jewish and had forsaken her beliefs in order to marry my Irish-Catholic grandfather. She died in 1938, so I never met her. As the years passed and especially after my father died in the 1970s, there began to be rumors about our Jewish background – no doubt stoked by the “Jewish-sounding” name of Holtermann. Being a fervent Zionist, I latched upon these rumors and believed that my love for Israel and the Judaism was more than just my sympathy for a people who in my view picked the wrong G-d to worship and spent the next 5000 years paying for the mistake. I believed there was more to the revulsion I felt when I studied the Holocaust. Perhaps that “more” was in the blood, that the connection between the Israelites in Babylon passed through exile in the Pale before finding its way to me in America.

Dead men may not tell tales, but their silence does speak volumes. It turns out that the Holtermanns hail from Germany near the Dutch border. It’s a solidly Roman Catholic region of a predominantly Lutheran state.

So the truth is out: I’m not a member of the “tribe” as I once believed. But I still feel the same.

If there is any nation upon this earth that is as almost as dear to me as America, it’s Israel.

Turn Around in Baghdad

Evidently the non-al Qaeda insurgents are getting tired of dying:

The wider Sunni insurgency — the groups beyond Al Qaeda — is being slowly, and surely, defeated. The average insurgent today feels demoralized, disillusioned, and hunted. Those who have not been captured yet are opting for a quieter life outside of Iraq. Al Qaeda continues to grow for the time being as it cannibalizes the other insurgent groups and absorbs their most radical and hardcore fringes into its fold. The Baathists, who had been critical in spurring the initial insurgency, are becoming less and less relevant, and are drifting without a clear purpose following the hanging of their idol, Saddam Hussein. Rounding out this changing landscape is that Al Qaeda itself is getting a serious beating as the Americans improve in intelligence gathering and partner with more reliable Iraqi forces.

Talking Ourselves into Defeat

Last Fall I foresaw the danger of talking ourselves into defeat in Iraq, a danger that no one against the war truly recognizes. Now the sentiment is captured in this editorial by the WSJ:

Our slide to a national nervous breakdown because of Iraq is not going unnoticed. Australia’s foreign minister, Alexander Downer, has been visiting across the U.S. this week. “I’ve been pretty worried about what I’ve heard,” Mr. Downer said in an interview. Walking on Santa Monica beach Sunday before last, Mr. Downer said he encountered a display of crosses in the sand, representing the American dead in Iraq.

“What concerns me about this,” he said, “is that it’s sort of an isolationist sentiment, subconsciously, not consciously, and that would be an enormous problem for the world. I hope the American people understand the importance of not retreating and thinking the world’s problems aren’t theirs.”

Hat tip: Dean Esmay.

Carter’s Saudi Backers…

The scandal just won’t go away – just like Jimmy himself.
From the National Review (hattip: Ron Coleman, writing at Dean Dhimmi of the Year NomineeEsmay)

In recent weeks, a number of articles have noted that Carter’s anti-Israeli views coincide with those of some of the center’s prime financial backers, including the government of Saudi Arabia and the foundation of Saudi prince Alwaleed bin Talal bin Abdul Aziz al-Saud, whose offer of $10 million to New York City just after Sept. 11 was rejected by then-mayor Rudy Giuliani because it came wrapped in the suggestion that America rethink its support of Israel. Other big donors listed in the Carter Center’s annual reports include the Sultanate of Oman and the sultan himself; the government of the United Arab Emirates; and a brother of Osama bin Laden, Bakr BinLadin, “for the Saudi BinLadin Group.” Of lesser heft, but still large, are contributions from assorted development funds of Saudi Arabia and Kuwait, as well as of OPEC, whose membership includes oil-rich Arab states, Nigeria (whose government is also a big donor to the Carter Center), and Venezuela (whose anti-American strongman Hugo Chávez benefited in a 2004 election from the highly controversial monitoring efforts of the Carter Center).

Jimmy Carter

The sooner he sends the flags flying at half-mast, the better.

Funny spam subject line

Just got this one in the mail:
“voluntarily odorous floorboard”

Update:
Here’s another one, received 2/3/07:
“bengali circuitry” – sounds like a multi-ethnic techno band.

France Wanted to Join United Kingdom

Holy crap!

A Cabinet paper reads: “Monsieur Mollet raised with the Prime Minister the possibility of a union between the UK and France.” A document of September 28 records a talk between Sir Anthony and Cabinet Secretary Sir Norman Brook.

It says: “The PM told him (Brook) we should give immediate consideration to France joining the Commonwealth.

“Monsieur Mollet had not thought there need be difficulty over France accepting the headship of Her Majesty. The French would welcome common citizenship.”

A year later, France signed up to the new Common Market. Britain, blocked by General de Gaulle, was left out in the cold.

Let’s Coin a Euphemism

I’ve decided that I’m not a blogger. I’m a “new media insurgent.”

Hmmm….

I suppose “dork” will suffice for now…

Recycling is Bad for the Environment

Penn & Teller show you how.

And they also tell you why:

There are some people who like telling other people what to do.

Michael Totten In South Lebanon

Michael Totten visits south Lebanon:

“We have been screaming about this conflict for 30 years now,” Henry said as he dealt himself a hand of Solitaire from a deck of cards in his pocket. “But no one ever listened to us. Not until September 11. Now you know how we feel all the time. You have to keep up the pressure. You can never let go, not for one day, one hour, not for one second. The minute you let go, Michael, they will fight back and get stronger. This is the problem with your foreign policy.”

“Since 1975 we have been fighting for the free world,” Said said. “We are on the front lines. Why doesn’t the West understand this? America can withdraw from Iraq, you can go back to Oregon, but we are stuck here. We have to stay and live with what happens.”

Iraq Casualty Figures

Link

Quote:


Troops are much more likely to get sick in Iraq or Afghanistan, than to get injured in combat. This reverses a trend that began about a century ago. Back then, for the first time in history, wars saw more men die from combat than from disease. During World War II, for example, two thirds of the deaths were from combat, the other third were from accidents and disease. But now, combat deaths are lower than they’ve ever been in the history of warfare. About twenty percent of those killed in Iraq and Afghanistan are from non-combat causes (mostly vehicle accidents). This was the same ratio as in Vietnam, but you were three times as likely to get killed or wounded, from any cause, in Vietnam.

News from Zimbabwe

How long will Zimbabwe – one of the few blessed countries in Africa in terms of resources – continue circling the drain?
This news isn’t good…


Because other sources have reported that impoverished Zimbabweans had turned to “panning for gold” as a means of supporting themselves. This crackdown also followed the crack down against people accused of “hoarding” cash when Zimbabwe revalued its currency

People are trying to survive, and the gov’t seems intent on calling them “traitors” and jailing them.

Somebody needs to hand Comrade Bob his retirement plan – of the 9mm variety.

Working in IT – Consulting vs. Salaried

My current boss, an executive at a large insurance company, just asked me what it was like working as a consultant. Amazingly, I came up with an analogy that I believe accurately describes what it’s like:

It’s a lot like walking a tightrope without a net.

Workers in the tech field are all tightrope walkers. Those who are salaried have a safety net, those who contract don’t. The important thing to realize is that you want to avoid falling in either case.

I’ve been contracting for 6 years. During that time I have re-engineered my career to leave a dying technology, avoid offshore competition and make myself more marketable – while at the same time keep the paychecks coming as the sole wage earner in my family and enjoy what I do. It’s been an incredible challenge, and one that I has really brought out the best in me.

God is Speaking to Pat Again…

Pat Robertson is reporting that God leaked news about a massive terrorist attack on the US by the end of 2007.

“I’m not necessarily saying it’s going to be nuclear,” he said during his news-and-talk television show “The 700 Club” on the Christian Broadcasting Network. “The Lord didn’t say nuclear. But I do believe it will be something like that.”

Robertson said God told him during a recent prayer retreat that major cities and possibly millions of people will be affected by the attack, which should take place sometime after September.

God told me not to worry – that He’s only pulling Pat’s leg to make him look like an even bigger idiot last year for predicting massive storms and a tsunami that never materialized. That God; He sure has a sense of humor…

Roundup of Wars and Rebellions 2006

Strategypage has an excellent summary of wars and rebellions fought in 2006. Overall the number is declining – which may or may not be a good thing depending on which side you’re on.