Why Are We Listening To James Baker Again?

So we now have Henry Kissinger, the man who sold out the Vietnamese, and James Bake, who sold out the Iraqis in 1991advising us on Iraq policy. Christopher Hitchens is not kind to them.

James Baker is the last guy we should listen to about Iraq. – By Christopher Hitchens – Slate Magazine

In 1991, for those who keep insisting on the importance of sending enough troops, there were half a million already-triumphant Allied soldiers on the scene. Iraq was stuffed with weapons of mass destruction, just waiting to be discovered by the inspectors of UNSCOM. The mass graves were fresh. The strength of sectarian militias was slight. The influence of Iran, still recovering from the devastating aggression of Saddam Hussein, was limited. Syria was—let’s give Baker his due—”on side.” The Iraqi Baathists were demoralized by the sheer speed and ignominy of their eviction from Kuwait and completely isolated even from their usual protectors in Moscow, Paris, and Beijing. There would never have been a better opportunity to “address the root cause” and to remove a dictator who was a permanent menace to his subjects, his neighbors, and the world beyond. Instead, he was shamefully confirmed in power and a miserable 12-year period of sanctions helped him to enrich himself and to create the immiserated, uneducated, unemployed underclass that is now one of the “root causes” of a new social breakdown in Iraq. It seems a bit much that the man principally responsible for all this should be so pleased with himself and that he should be hailed on all sides as the very model of the statesmanship we now need.

Listening To The Generals

It has become a Democratic talking point that President Bush and Secretary Rumsfeld haven’t “listened to the Generals”. But given a chance to actually talk to one of the Generals, they don’t seem to be able to hear what he said.

Counterterrorism Blog: On Iraq: Listen carefully to General Abizaid

General Abizaid was asked by a panel of well informed Senators last week, how to “measure” the need to send in additional U.S. forces or to begin withdrawal from Iraq.

In short military sentences, the CENTCOM boss told them it will all depend on the ability of U.S. forces to train, support and direct Iraqi units in their confrontation with the terrorists. The Senators didn’t seem the get Abizaid’s very accurate point. Both Republican and Democrat legislators wanted a quantitative answer:

“How many additional troops do you need so that we can pull out lots of troops after,” they repetitively asked with hints at past and future electoral promises to end the conflict.

Sticking with his analysis, Abizaid (who speaks the language of the region and has studied its ideologies) said the question is not to bring in more troops to Iraq, but to have Iraqi forces begin to win their war. This was the first key in the whole hearing. The man was trying to tell the Senators that more important than bringing in additional 20,000 Marines and soldiers, was to train an additional 50,000 Iraqi troops.

Indeed, the ultimate objective in this war (at least the counter-terrorist part of it) is to help the Iraqis help themselves. Surely with half a million boots on the ground you can saturate the whole country, but from what? There is no standing army the U.S. is fighting against.

The problem they’re having is that they aren’t looking for answers. They’ve long ago made up their minds. They’re looking for validation.

Rebuild? Why Bother?

The Army We Need – New York Times

One welcome dividend of Donald Rumsfeld’s departure from the Pentagon is that the United States will now have a chance to rebuild the Army he spent most of his tenure running down.

The New York Times evidently slept through the 1990’s. Under President Clinton the military was slashed, op tempo increased, and the military was given “meals of wheels” mission without the necessary funding. This resulted in a much smaller military with worn out equipment.

But now, the NYT while calling for us to admit to defeat in Iraq, pretends to want a larger military?

A force totaling 575,000 would permit the creation of two new divisions for peacekeeping and stabilization missions, a doubling of special operations forces and the addition of 10,000 to the military police to train and supplement local police forces. The Marine Corps, currently 175,000, needs to be expanded to at least 180,000 and shifted from long-term occupation duties toward its real vocation as a tactical assault force ready for rapid deployment.

A military ready to fight Nazi Germany, Imperial Japan, or maybe Soviet Russia. The problem with that, of course, is that none of these exist anymore. What they really mean is that they want the reinstitution of the Defense Pork that was cut by updating the military to something which could fight the irregular, dispersed threat that exists today. But even that looks like it would be a waste of time.

Why?

We have shown that, however proficient our military, our politicians and people will not support them. It’s like an agoraphobic having a Ferrari in the driveway. It might be an impressive car but everyone knows that he can’t do anything with it. A larger military won’t restore our credibility after another defeat.The world will know that we’re just puffed up loudmouths that will run if we take a relative few casualties. We will have proved that we can’t take a punch.

The critics like to say they they’re not against war, just against this war. I think that we would discover that the critics will always find a “reason” to oppose a war. Unless, of course, as in Kosovo, the President belongs to the correct political party.

Good Thing All Those Other Traffic Priorities Are Funded

Benton tries again for bike path grant

For the second time, Benton County is asking the Oregon Department of Transportation for a grant to design a bicycle pathway between North Albany and Corvallis.
[…]
The county and Corvallis are asking for a $460,000 Transportation Enhancement grant to acquire access for the path, and to start designing it. The total cost would be $550,000, with the rest coming from the county and Corvallis in matching funds. There is no cost estimate for actual construction.

I guess this would be a better use for the money than something that actually helped the traffic flow. Something like…say…widening I5 or doing something about the traffic bottleneck on the Pacific Bv overpass in Albany. North Albany is pretty affluent, I guess they can’t afford to pay for their own damn bike path.

Kosovo’s Muslim Anxious To Complete Ethnic Cleansing

You know, I sometimes wonder what color the sky is on the planet the editorial board of the New York Times lives on.

They have been advocating a strategy of defeat in Iraq and, I guess, one of preemptive surrender everywhere else. Their latest foray into the world of international policy is to advocate for the UN to legitimize the independence of Kosovo. Kosovo, for those who have forgotten (It was more than a week ago), was the province of Serbia that was rebelling against the Serbs with an eye to reestablishing the “Greater Albania” that they enjoyed during the Nazi occupation. Kind of like the “Aztlan” that the Hispanic “reconquista’s” talk about in California.

After Bill Clinton and NATO entered the war on the side of the “insurgents”, the Serbs ceded Kosovo to the UN after the bombing of civilian targets in Belgrade and Kosovo. The stories of “ethnic cleansing” against the Muslims turned out to be false. No “rape camps”, no flooded mines full of bodies, no mass graves. The primary victims of the bombing were civilians, not Serbian military. A former commander of mine was present when the Serbs removed their military from Kosovo and was part of the NATO force that entered the province afterward. He remarked that if the Serbian military had suffered more than minor damage they must have had the best cleaning women, “Putzfrau’s” as he termed them, in the entire world. They found no burnt out tanks, no bombed bunkers, in fact he said that if they had decided to fight, we would have taken massive casualties because of the extensive system of fortifications that they had built in to the hillsides.

It was another of those situations where neither side deserved to win. But in this case, though the Serbs did not deserve to win, the victory of the KLA might well come back to haunt us in the long run. The KLA has close ties to other Islamic terror groups as was noted in this Senate report in 1998.

A 1998 Senate report examining the goals, costs and motives stated following:

If the KLA, either with or without NATO intervention against Serbia, is successful in securing Kosovo’s independence, that success might itself be likely to ignite insurrections in neighboring Montenegro and, particularly, in Macedonia. The KLA has made it clear that its goal is to liberate not only Kosovo but ethnic Albanian-populated areas in Montenegro and in Macedonia – where the KLA already has a military presence, and where several recent bombings are attributed to the KLA. It is for this reason that the Macedonian and Greek foreign ministers in June put aside the squabbles between their countries and issued a joint statement opposing NATO intervention in Kosovo: “Once the bitterest of neighbors, Greece and Macedonia have united in the fear that a successful campaign by the separatist Kosovo Liberation Army could spell disaster for the Balkans. NATO strikes could bolster the KLA’s campaign. ‘Kosovo is a province of Serbia. Any change of borders will mean all-out war’ in the Balkans,’ [said Macedonian foreign minister Blagoj] Handzinski. ‘We condemn both the activities of the so-called KLA and Serb forces in Kosovo.’ [Greek foreign minister Theodoros] Pangalos added: ‘It is not by chance that the countries of the region represent the voice of logic. We have the most to win if there is a peaceful solution and the most to lose if there is a war'” [Associated Press, 6/23/98].

So far, with the UN occupation and the presence of UN peacekeepers, the KLA has not yet achieved the full victory in Kosovo. Even with the UN mission the Muslims have succeeded in driving out most of the non-Muslim minorities. While wanting to stop purported “ethnic cleansing” by the Serbs the UN has instead ended up supporting defacto ethnic cleansing by the Muslims.

Now the New York Times want the UN to grant independence to Kosovo. But, as the commercial goes, not exactly.

No More Delays for Kosovo – New York Times

After the 1999 war there has never been a realistic possibility of rejoining Kosovo and Serbia. Kosovo was supposed to earn independence by proving its willingness to govern responsibly and to protect its ethnic Serb minority. A lot more needs to be done on both those fronts.

But the United Nations has limited patience to keep administering Kosovo, and without the stability of statehood there will be no foreign investment and the beleaguered economy will not improve. Lack of economic prospects is feeding Albanian nationalism, and until Kosovo’s status is settled, anger will remain close to the surface.

Even as it moves Kosovo toward statehood, the U.N. should keep a substantial military and advisory presence there, both to ensure the rights of the Serb minority and to encourage democratic development.

Belgrade will always object to Kosovo’s independence. The best chance of moderating its reaction is the promise of eventual membership in the European Union and a clear warning that Europe will be watching how it treats its new neighbor. The Kosovars should be clear that donors and everyone else will be watching just as closely to see how they treat their own Kosovar Serbs.

They want Kosovo to be independent but still have UN oversight and “peacekeeping” troops. Why?

Because they know that as soon as the UN management and troops are removed the Kosovar Muslims will commence to ethnically cleansing the remaining non-Muslim minorities. Everyone might be watching to see how they treat their minorities, but that’s all they’ll do. Watch. And cluck in disappointment as the remaining Serbs and Gypsies are brutalized and killed. There won’t be any protection from the West for them.

When exactly did we see much concern by Muslim states for the welfare of their non-Muslim citizens? That would be never.

We’ve Done This Before

ARABIAN NIGHTMARES

With Iraqi society decomposing – or, at best, reverting to a medieval state with cell phones – the debate in Washington over whether to try to save the day by deploying more troops or withdrawing some is of secondary relevance.

What really matters is what our forces are ordered – and permitted – to do. With political correctness permeating our government and even the upper echelons of the military, we never tried the one technique that has a solid track record of defeating insurgents if applied consistently: the rigorous imposition of public order.

That means killing the bad guys. Not winning their hearts and minds, placating them or bringing them into the government. Killing them.

People like to point to the chaotic situation in Baghdad and wonder why the occupation there is not going as well as the post WWII occupations of Germany and Japan.

One reason is that we’re not using the techniques that we used during those occupations.

After May 1945 Germany was occupied by the Allies. The Nazis did not lay down their arms and quietly submit, though that seems to be what people think happened.

No, clear up to 1949 there were attacks on Allied troops in occupied Germany. There were bombings and assassinations. The difference there was that when Allied troops caught the people that were doing this, they put them up against the nearest wall and cured them of their aggressive tendencies. The method of treatment was a small amount of metal applied at high velocity to vital organs. This had an efficacious effect on violence.

As Ralph Peters points out, this is not the way we have been doing things in Iraq. This might have had the effect of pissing off some of the locals, but those particular locals are pissed anyhow.

We need to do what we need to do. Look at Somalia. That country has been in anarchy since we pulled out in 1993. Now the Islamists are being supported because they “bring order”. They are bringing order by the simple expedient of executing anyone who doesn’t follow Sharia. They use the same method that the Allies used to bring order in Germany after WWII. They get some grief for it in some newspapers, but by and large they are given a pass.

Maybe we should find the courage to ignore the bleatings of the editorial board of the New York Times and get down to business.

Heresy!!

McClatchy Washington Bureau | 11/14/2006 | Historian says peak oil production is still a quarter-century away

WASHINGTON – Far from being a nearly exhausted resource, the world’s oil reserves are three times bigger than what some popular estimates state, and peak global oil production is still about a quarter-century away, according to a new study by Pulitzer Prize-winning oil historian Daniel Yergin.

“Peak Oil” is an article of faith in the environmental religion. They like to talk about “science” as long as science appears to support their prejudices. But no matter what his qualification, casting doubt on “Peak Oil” is going to earn him some vicious attacks from the true believers.

How Do I Get Into These Things?

Today I spend the day at the Thai Buddhist Temple just outside Salem. This wasn’t my first time there. You may remember that I took the monks to Crater Lake back in September. It looks like either I have adopted them or they have adopted me. It’s not clear which.

My wife is a member of the temple. She goes on Wednesdays to provide the monks with their meal. Each day a different group brings food for the monks who are not allowed to cook. Cooking would violate their vows somehow. I’m not clear on exactly how.

I’m not a Buddhist, though I’m probably closer to being one than I am to being a Christian, Jew or Muslim. I’m not even sure if Buddhism really qualifies as a religion, it’s more like a philosophy. But I like and admire the monks. It takes a lot of heart to do what they do. They are missionaries that mostly tend to the Thai, Lao and Cambodian community. But they are associated with other Buddhist Temples around the country which are Chinese, Indian and Vietnamese. There is even one “round-eye” monk that lives at one of the temples; I’m not sure which one.

I think that Subin, the head monk, has ideas about converting me. He might be right.

A long time ago, when I was young, dumb and in Thailand; I drank a lot and frequently got myself into situations that could easily have turned out badly. I once ended up in a small fishing village somewhere on the coast, drunk and unable to speak much Thai. The people there were equally unable to speak English. There were no busses or taxis in the village and I was stuck. A Thai man who I had never met before or seen since found someone with a car and had them take me back to where I belonged. He didn’t rob me and he didn’t take any money. This was unusual. That was not the first or the last time I was helped by Thai people who had absolutely no reason to. Now I get to return the favor.

I have lived in a lot of different countries and I recall how difficult it can be to do the simplest thing if you don’t know the language and the culture. I’m trying to provide that bridge for them.

Last week my wife asked me to take a look at their fax machine. It had stopped working a couple of weeks before that. They had tried calling the phone company but communication was not happening. They had different parishioners call but they were not getting to the right place and were not able to explain the problem. I was able to check it and call for them. Qwest showed up 30 min later. It’s still not fixed, because the problem is in the telephone cable and Qwest is going to have to do something about that. But it’s on the way to being fixed.

Last weekend I fixed their car. Someone had donated a 1992 Mercedes Benz 300TE station wagon to the temple. The serpentine belt had broken and they tried to fix it. In doing so they broke an idler pulley. They could drive it. But it made an awful squealing. They didn’t know what to do about it. Automotive repair is not something that ordinary people do in their culture. But it is in America. I brought it home with me last weekend and replaced the pulley and the belt. It’s a sweet car, even if it does have 175K on it. Now they can go to English classes without letting the entire student body know they’re coming.

Now I just have to do something about their webpage. Someone built them a webpage over a year ago using WordPress. They guy that did it graduated from college and returned to Thailand. Unfortunately no one has been maintaining it and it looks like no one knows how. That’s my next challenge. I hope I can find out their signon and password.

Sounds like a lot to do, and I don’t know how I got there. But I’m enjoying it and they seem to enjoy having me around.