Sunday, August 29, 2004

Should we declare war?

It sounds like a simple question but since the US has not declared war on fundamentalist Islam or international terror organizations, the question remains should we declare war now?

It has many advantages-- first, as Harry Summers noted- it clarifies the mind. Declaring war focuses you and the nation on the task at hand.

Second it would be easier to mobilize the nation, the economy and the populace to the task of defeating our enemy. If we have made a more serious mistake than not declaring war on the enemy during this time of great crisis, I don't know what it is. It was possible to do in the days after 9/11. We didn't do it.

Third, every enlistment contract in the US military reads (though few actually read it) that during time of war or national emergency the enlistment is extended to the duration PLUS six months. That would stop the silly discussion about stop-loss as a backdoor draft. That would not make a draft more likely for the forces required still need to be trained to the same level they are at currently.

Fourth, we could take legal measures permissable during wartime to silence actions aiding the enemy or hindering a nation at war. Sean Penn doing a real movie from jail might not be such a bad thing. Treason is a harsh word and it should remain so. War has visited us all and the nation should be able to punish those who think their rights of free expression infringe upon the sanctity of the nation.

The question remains should we declare war now? After all that has happened in both OEF and OIF and in the world...can the US effectively mobilize the will power to declare war against the enemy? This is my major criticism of the Bush Administration-- that when we declared the war on terror we did not actually declare war.

Now I can't see Kerry doing any better, but I think we should correct the mistake and start doing it right from here on out.

My perspective and my perspective only though I welcome debate on it. I realize that in this polarized nation we live in this will probably not happen in the near future-- short of another large scale domestice terror attack (which is sure to come, sooner or later).

Any thoughts?

Wednesday, August 25, 2004

This one has to hurt

Amid all the other flotsam and jetsam of the election year. I just couldn't pass this one up. Michelle Malkin posted it from the Washington Times. Amid the dDrudge Report story and from Fox News----
take it for what it's worth

Ask the warriors

August 2004

Ask The Warriors About Iraq

By Lieutenant Colonel (select) Stanton S. Coerr, U.S. Marine Corps Reserve

President George W. Bush gathered U.S. support for invading Iraq by using two arguments: Iraq had weapons of mass destruction and Saddam Hussein supported al Qaeda terrorism. Now, vicious words and gratuitous finger pointing keep coming from people who insist they were misled. Politicians and TV experts sharply critique the Bush administration. Yet, I have not heard a word from anyone who actually carried a rifle or flew an aircraft in Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF) and its ugly aftermath. What about consulting the guys who had—and still have—the most to lose?

As a Marine Corps reserve major, I was the senior U.S. officer attached to the 1 Royal Irish Battlegroup (a reinforced British rifle battalion). I commanded five Marine air-naval gunfire liaison teams and was the liaison officer between the U.S. Marines and the battlegroup. Seventeen days after activation on 14 January 2003, my Marines and I were in Kuwait, ready to go to war.

Having studied political science at Duke University and government at Harvard University, I understand realpolitik, geopolitical jujitsu, economics, and the realities of the Arab world. I am not a blind follower. But the war made sense then—and our presence there makes sense now.

At dawn on 22 March, we crossed the border in trace of the 5th Marine Regiment’s sweep through the Ramaylah oil fields. We were the guys you saw on TV every night: filthy, hot, exhausted. Although the National Rifle Association’s right-to-bear-arms mantra is a joke to me, I carried a loaded rifle, a loaded pistol, and a knife at all times. I pointed a loaded weapon at another human for the first time in my life. We killed numerous Iraqi soldiers. I directed air and artillery strikes in concert with my British artillery officer counterpart. Close up, we saw dead bodies, helmets with bullet holes in them, handcuffed prisoners, and oil well fires with flames leaping 100 feet in the air. In short, I did what I had spent 14 years training to do.

Apart from the violence, a number of things lifted our hearts. Thousands of Iraqis ran into the streets at the sight of us, screaming, waving, and cheering. They ran from their homes when our vehicles roared in from the south, bringing us bread, tea, cigarettes, and photos of their children. Much was lost in language differences, although my clear impression was: “Thank God, someone has arrived with bigger men and bigger guns to be on our side at last.” We saw in the eyes of the people how a generation of fear reflects in the human soul.

For those who oppose the war, let there be no mistake: the Ba’ath regime was the Nazi Party of the second half of the 20th century. Saddam Hussein’s brutal dictatorship raped, tortured, murdered, extorted, and terrorized the Iraqis for 35 years. Mass graves bear testimony to countless crimes. One U.S. Marine battalion liberated a prison populated entirely by children, where the jailers had brutalized the weakest of them and killed the strongest.

The Ba’ath Party retained power by placing officials in every city and village to keep the people under its boot. We found munitions and weapons everywhere. In Ramaylah, the local Ba’ath leader’s desk contained brass knuckles and a handgun. These are the people who are in prison—where they belong.

Consider this analogy. For years, you watched the same large man come home at night. You listened to his yelling and the screams of children and the noise of breaking glass. You and everyone on the block knew he was beating his family. On behalf of the neighborhood, you asked him to stop. Then you begged; finally, you threatened him. Nothing worked. So, after 13 years, you muster the meanest guys you can find. You kick his door down, punch him in the face, and drag him away. The house is a mess, the family poor and abused. But now there is hope. You did the right thing.

I can speak with authority on the opinions of British and American infantrymen: at no time did anyone say—or imply—to any of us that we were invading Iraq to rid the country of weapons of mass destruction and avenge the 11 September 2001 terrorist attacks. We were there to oust a tyrant and return Iraq to its people. Marines carry out policy decisions, not make them—and none of us had the slightest doubt about the righteousness of our actions.

Take it from someone who was there and stood to lose everything. We must stay the course in Iraq. We owe it to the Iraqis and to the world.

Lieutenant Colonel (select) Coerr, a Marine reservist activated for Operation Iraqi Freedom, is an attack helicopter pilot and forward air controller. He is in the Home Depot Store Leadership Program in San Diego, California.

Tuesday, August 24, 2004

Appreciate Your Freedoms

Detroit Free Press
August 23, 2004

An American Soldier Has A Unique Perspective On Iraq

By Mort Crim

The story of Iraq is a tale of two countries.

There's the one we see in the news: fighting, killing and conflict. That Iraq is all too real, but so is the other Iraq -- one our soldiers see every day. And we need to know about this other Iraq to fully understand what's happening there.

Rocky Eady of Greenville, Ala., knows about that Iraq. He's just returned from 14 months there, assigned to transportation with the Army. And what did he transport around the country? Not missiles or bombs or guns. Rocky and his unit moved food and water to the people of Iraq. Their job was to ease the hunger and pain brought on by months of war.

But Rocky Eady discovered another kind of hunger among the Iraqis: a deep hunger for freedom.

They may practice different religions and wear different kinds of clothing, but behind those differences, Rocky discovered Iraqis are very much like us. They want what people everywhere want: A chance to raise their children in a safe environment, to have a job, to achieve their dreams. They want to be free and Rocky got the distinct impression that most of them are glad we came and appreciate what we're doing.

Today's thought: Nothing makes us appreciate our freedoms like living among those who've never had them.

Monday, August 23, 2004

Interesting lessons from Varifrank

The whole thing here-- just about the best analogy I have read in a good while-- about WMD, madmen, and the Manhattan Project:

I found it interesting...especially the lessons at the end

What did you learn from your visit to the past?

Even the worlds smartest people can make mistakes. BIG Mistakes.

Doing nothing in the face of an obvious threat only increases the theat.

Maintaining a democracy is hard. Just being a Democracy is no guarantee of success against tyranny.

Treaties with madman are not just a "waste of time", they can actually help get you killed.

Human Beings are capable of enormous evil.

Allies arent all they are cracked up to be.

The only time you can be absolutely sure your enemies have a WMD, is when its used against you.

We could have lost WWII, if the people in America hadn't first been convinced of the necessity to fight it.

Until the Japanese attacked, it wasnt entirely clear that they would be convinced to fight.

The job of President is not a place for men of nuance.