Sunday, March 30, 2008

Rurik's 2nd (and sadly final!) Winter Soldier AAR...

...is up at Veteran American Voices:

What I Saw at the Circus - Part 2 - Carnival of the Moonbats.

Rurik also believes he may have identified this WSI's prreminent John Kerry wannabe in Captain Luis Montalvan. I still believe Geoff Millard thinks he's got a shot, though.

Meanwhile Robin at Chickenhawk Express says she was late (but not nearly as late as I am!) with the very gratifying news that LCpl. Stephen Tatum has had all charges against him in the Haditha incident dismissed. Robin has been tracking the story of the Haditha Marines for a long time, and along with Dave Allender's Defend Our Marines offers one of the best repository's of Haditha related fact vs fantasy.

Bruce Kesler of Democracy Project also weighs in with Only Haditha Massacre by Media and Murtha.

In No one is more professional than they are! NO ONE! Thus Spake Ortner at The Sniper provides a follow-up to the soldiers recovering from wounds at Walter Reed who took and completed the BNCOC training course and the graduation ceremony held last Friday:
It was quite clear that these weren’t wounded soldiers in this course, but warriors, who just also happened to have been wounded. One soldier had to be rushed to the Emergency Room twice during training because of heart problems. Another tore out stitches during the training. And yet they carried on, there is no quit in these people. “Cut and Run” is not only a mantra to Congress, it’s these soldiers mantra too, but in the sense that even if they are cut, bleeding or wounded in any manner, they’ll still be running to the front. Warriors, every one of them.

The Members of the Graduating Class:
SSG Billy Brashears, Commandant’s List
SSG Renee Deville
SSG Warren Finch
SSG Dorthea Hooper
SSG Shad Lorenz
SSG Eric Sundell

14 comments:

barb michelen said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Dissenting Patriot said...

Denis,

While you were busy working on your campaign, here are a few things that made the news:

http://www.statesman.com/news/content/news/stories/world/04/03/0403gaswar.html

http://www.cbsnews.com/sections/i_video/main500251.shtml?id=3985922n

My first thought was wow, that's a lot of debt. But then I thought to myself, wow, that really puts things in perspective and makes me feel better about the occupation. I mean, what's another $10 billion or, what the hell, even $20 billion a month when we're already that far in the hole? I mean it's really just pocket change in comparison with the total national debt, so what's all the fuss about?

Denis Keohane said...

Well thanks, DP! Hope you send those around.

Of course you noted, as a whole lot of IVAW members and supporters haven't, is that the US military, part of the US government and pays the same market prices for fuel and is just as subject to those prices as everyone else!

That would make all those folks, like IVAW members and Kos Kids, DUmmies and such who've claimed we went into Iraq to steal their oil - pretty stupid looking, eh?

As to national debt, oh yeah, a problem. However, if both wars ended tomorrow - still a problem. But if you want to really get into national debt and what it means, compare that national debt as a percentage of GDP, and then compare it to history, say, beginning about 1940. It does provide some perspective when you do that.

As an aside, both wars have been costing the US less money every year than Americans spend on recreation, like hiking, fishing, camping, bowling, etc.

Also compare the costs of the wars to the overall US Federal Budget. Both wars, in total, cost about one fifth of what just one federal department, HHS, spends every year.

Dissenting Patriot said...

Of course we wouldn't try to steal anyone's oil- we're Americans! We're just trying to instill a little free market discipline and bring the gift of economic salvation to every heathen nation.

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/programmes/newsnight/4354269.stm

I won't dispute your points about U.S. debt. American consumerism, the inadequately regulated housing market, etc. make up a lot more of it than Iraq and Afghanistan, as you said. But I have to say, spending $10 billion a month in Iraq to herd cats is not the most ideal way to spend money we don't have.

On a more serious note, here are a couple of good books on the British experience in Iraq if you haven't already read them. The first author was apparently an advisor to Tony Blair. The second author also offers a great deal of insight into the problems the U.S. is facing in Iraq today, stemming in part from an inept hand at mediating between the tribes.

http://www.amazon.com/Churchills-Folly-Winston-Churchill-Created/dp/078671557X/ref=pd_sim_b_title_5
http://www.amazon.com/Inventing-Iraq-Failure-Building-History/dp/0231131674/ref=pd_sim_b_title_1

Neil Sheehan's "A Bright Shining" lie I think also provides some important insights and parallels.

Can you think of any articles/books I can pick up to confuse myself even more?

Denis Keohane said...

"Of course we wouldn't try to steal anyone's oil- we're Americans! We're just trying to instill a little free market discipline and bring the gift of economic salvation to every heathen nation."

DP, when people who seem to think they are smart sound like the grown-up equivalent of an eight year old in a schoolyard argument, they give it away that they are other than smart.

Do you want to say we are stealing Iraq's oil! No, because you'd be effectively called out on it. So you merely want to be sarcastic about us no doing such!

During the Gulf War, we had far more troops and firepower straddling the bulk of Middle East oil. We had troops in Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Iraq and a couple of carrier battle groups in the Gulf - unrivaled military supremacy.

We withdrew the overwhelming bulk of those forces, and those countries maintained control over their own resource! We have been heavily in the area again for five years, and we still do not have anyone's oil! We don't control it or own it.

Can't you folks just get over it?

And your whining "bring the gift of economic salvation to every heathen nation." Getting rid of Saddam Hussein was not based on economics, just as we are far from pushing US style free market economics on Iraq and its oil. Take a look!

DP, were the Japanese heathens? The Germans who followed Hitler? We did fight those countries, and hard. Our troops still "occupy" both. Yet the Germans and Japanese can rightly be counted among the most free and economically prosperous people on the planet. Ditto the South Koreans, and our troops are still there also. Want to maybe explain what we stole from them, DP, or is childish left insinuation crap all you can muster?

If you want to educate yourself, and break out of the echo chamber, start with Ludwig Von Mises' "Human Action". That's a start on serious economics.

DP, a question. Assume we had not invaded Iraq and removed Hussein in 2003. By that time, we had been militarily engaged in the No Fly Zones over Iraq for over a decade. Here's your question. Should we still be flying those missions? Should we have stopped them at some point? Should we never have begun them?

Oh, and for that decade and more we flew those missions, we had no aircraft that could suck Iraqi oil up to those planes. There must have been some other reason for it.

Second question, DP: what do you know of takfirism?

Denis Keohane said...

DP,

Try this, on takfirism:

http://keohane.blogspot.com/2007/10/takfir-war-sept-11-2001.html

Kalar said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
streetsweeper95B said...

Ehhhh...Denis? Think you pinned him/her to the ground by them thare horns, bro! Excellent job!

Denis Keohane said...

DP,

Continuing your introduction to takfirism, read "Confronting the Takfiri Culture" from a Jordanian.

http://www.black-iris.com/2005/11/29/confronting-the-takfiri-culture/

Dissenting Patriot said...

Denis,

I apologize for my late reply (sorry to get your hopes up Streetsweeper). I read the second article on takfirism but couldn't access the first. I am familiar with that ideology and, assuming your point was to alert me to the threats we face as Americans and generally civilized people, as I have said before, I believe these people should be hunted down without mercy. I am not oblivious to this threat, nor am I so fixated on the sins of America, if you will, that I cannot focus my attention on the takfiri's knife at my throat. I find those sorts of people just as exasperating as you do, first because I think they are naive and second because I think they discredit the anti-imperialist movement.

Returning to our debate on the motives behind the occupation of Iraq, you wrote "...we are far from pushing US style free market economics on Iraq...."

If you re-read the BBC Newsnight article I sent you and follow the link to the one directly below you will see that this is incorrect:

http://www.thebushagenda.net/article.php?id=300

Here are a few highlights from the article:

"After firing Iraq’s senior bureaucrats, Bremer’s next law in Iraq allowed for, among other things, the privatization of Iraq's state-owned enterprises—excluding oil—and for American companies to receive preferential treatment over Iraqis in the awarding of reconstruction contracts. These laws were part of a series of economic policies implemented by Bremer, virtually all of which remain in place today, to "transition [Iraq] from a … centrally planned economy to a market economy" virtually overnight and by U.S. fiat. The laws reduced taxes on all corporations by 25 percent, opened every sector of the Iraqi economy (except oil) to private foreign investment, allowed foreign firms to own 100 percent of Iraqi businesses (as opposed to partnering with Iraqi firms), and to send their profits home without having to invest a cent in the struggling Iraqi economy. Thus, Iraqi laws governing banking, foreign investment, patents, copyrights, business ownership, taxes, the media, and trade were all changed according to U.S. goals, with little participation from the Iraqi people."

This is in fact illegal under international law. It is illegal for an occupying power to change a nation's laws.

On to the oil question.

http://www.thebushagenda.net/article.php?id=357

You compared what our government is doing in Iraq with what it did in Germany and Japan (I am less familiar with South Korea so I will avoid discussing it). The Marshall Plan was intended to revitalize Europe's devastated economy in order to establish it as a bulwark against the Eastern Bloc. German and Japanese businesses were permitted virtually unrestricted access to U.S. markets for this purpose.

Iraq, as far as I can see, is a very different case. U.S. multinational corporations were given virtually unrestricted access to Iraqi assets, including critical infrastructure, banks, etc. This is no Marshall Plan. This is a plan to transform Iraq into a client state, just as surely as the British did in Iraq and the Soviets did in Afghanistan in the 20th century. And our government's efforts are being met with the same resistance.

Regarding your question about maintaining the no-fly zones, I think there were a number of different options that could have been pursued, each with their strong points and weak points. I am not suggesting the situation was ideal by any means before 2003, but at least it wasn't the way it is now. If you'd like me to expound I'll give it my best shot. I think what is more important is what's happening at present.

What are your thoughts?

Denis Keohane said...

Hi DP,

“I am familiar with [takfirism] and, assuming your point was to alert me to the threats we face as Americans and generally civilized people, as I have said before, I believe these people should be hunted down without mercy. I am not oblivious to this threat...”

But would that hunting them down etc mean not doing so in Iraq? They are there, in force. There is another problem with the "hunting down” approach: how many countries where the takfiri are would allow us to do so? Taleban Afghanistan wouldn’t let us do so, remember? A point overlooked by many when it comes to Iraq s simpy this: if one understands takfirist theology, and particularly its view of the sanctity of the Ummah – when we went into Iraq, regardless of how many or few, like Ansar al-Islam were there already – they had to meet us there. They were drawn in. They had to come, and Bin Laden and Al Zawahiri have made that plain.

“I find those sorts of people just as exasperating as you do, first because I think they are naive and second because I think they discredit the anti-imperialist movement.”

Words like exasperating and naive don’t cut it, DP, as in the ridiculous statement about them discrediting anti-imperialism! DP, they are slaughterers of anyone who does not follow their narrowly defined religious notions. The victims of the takfirs in Afghanistan and Iraq have been overwhelmingly Moselms and civilians. They are monsters.

Remember the beheading videos in 2004-2205? Of course they were meant to "terrorize" our side. But there was an overlooked (on our side) aspect of those: they were recruiting tools! Let that sink in! AQ and AQI were precisely seeking to recruit exactly the type of people who would be excited by the prospect of slowly beheading a bound and screaming captive! The Nazis recruited in a somewhat similar fashion for the SS. They wanted the beasts among men, and offered them free rein. Ask the Sunnis of al Anbar!

DP, from here I guess we go to the BBC, which has never demonstrated the slightest knowledge of free market economics!

“Here are a few highlights from the article:

"After firing Iraq’s senior bureaucrats, Bremer’s next law in Iraq allowed for, among other things, the privatization of Iraq's state-owned enterprises—excluding oil—and for American companies to receive preferential treatment over Iraqis in the awarding of reconstruction contracts.”

Those ‘senior bureacrats were the incredibly corrupt and brutal Ba’athists, conveniently overlooked by the BBC. What a surprise!

In the early nineties a tanker sank in the Tigress-Euphrates just north of Basra. Right in the middle of the channel, it blocked all large freighter and tanker traffic from navigating those rivers, that run almost the entire length of the country. Hussein was in power. Iraq never bothered to remove that sunken ship, even though that would have made the transport of food and goods far cheaper and easier for the overwhelming majority of the Iraqi people. Goods that could have been shipped up and down that river had to be trucked. Picture the US leaving the Mississippi blocked just noth of New Orleans for a decade.

The beaurocracy, the corrupt Ba'athists, didn't care! They had theirs! Saddam took care of them, and they of him! The people could simply go to hell!

Continue....

“These laws were part of a series of economic policies implemented by Bremer, virtually all of which remain in place today, to "transition [Iraq] from a … centrally planned economy to a market economy" virtually overnight and by U.S. fiat. The laws reduced taxes on all corporations by 25 percent, opened every sector of the Iraqi economy (except oil) to private foreign investment, allowed foreign firms to own 100 percent of Iraqi businesses (as opposed to partnering with Iraqi firms), and to send their profits home without having to invest a cent in the struggling Iraqi economy. Thus, Iraqi laws governing banking, foreign investment, patents, copyrights, business ownership, taxes, the media, and trade were all changed according to U.S. goals, with little participation from the Iraqi people."

That is an incredibly inept series of nonsense, with a few hints of accuracy. There was indeed movement by Bremer and the coalition to move Iraq from a centralized economy to a free one. That is actually called – freedom! In case you have missed the histroy of the last century – the centrally planned economies are always, I repeat, always, unfree societies invariably dominated by the few.

“This is in fact illegal under international law. It is illegal for an occupying power to change a nation's laws.”

Cite the law, please? I’m serious. Iraq has had its opwn elected government for years now, with the ability to write and pass its own laws. Before that, and with the removal of the Hussein dictatorship – there was no government!

“You compared what our government is doing in Iraq with what it did in Germany and Japan (I am less familiar with South Korea so I will avoid discussing it). The Marshall Plan was intended to revitalize Europe's devastated economy in order to establish it as a bulwark against the Eastern Bloc. German and Japanese businesses were permitted virtually unrestricted access to U.S. markets for this purpose.

Iraq, as far as I can see, is a very different case. U.S. multinational corporations were given virtually unrestricted access to Iraqi assets, including critical infrastructure, banks, etc. This is no Marshall Plan. This is a plan to transform Iraq into a client state, just as surely as the British did in Iraq and the Soviets did in Afghanistan in the 20th century. And our government's efforts are being met with the same resistance.”

Do you folks ever rationalize in your own minds the dichotomy: the complaint that we are pouring billions of American dollars into Iraq, yet at the same time we are supposedly robbing Iraq blind? Which is it?

Please explain how any nations prospers or even survives economically if its banks and industries are not open to investment and ownership by people from other countires? See North Korea. In case you’ve missed it – a whole lot of U.S. businesses, including banks and infrastructure, are owned in part or whole by people from other nations. Likewise, American companies own in part of whole businesses in other coutries. That is called freedom.

“Regarding your question about maintaining the no-fly zones, I think there were a number of different options that could have been pursued, each with their strong points and weak points. I am not suggesting the situation was ideal by any means before 2003, but at least it wasn't the way it is now. If you'd like me to expound I'll give it my best shot. I think what is more important is what's happening at present.”

That’s a dodge. For over a decade, the only thing that kept Saddam Hussein from slaughtering his own Shia and Kurdish people was American and allied military operations! Of course there were other options, such as, let him do so for one! The Gulf War was fought when Hussein Iraq invaded Kuwait and threatened to follow through into Saudi Arabia. When Hussein’s Iraq was beaten, there were conditions that ended hostilities, as there always are. Among them was the requirement that Iraq cooperate with the UN on WMDs and no longer threaten its neighbors. How many times did Hussein violate those agreements? The Clinton administration launched how many attacks on Iraq over those issues? How many troops did we redeploy to the area when Hussein ammassed troops on the Kuwait border – again? While Clinton was President the Senate voted unanimously that regime change in Iraq was national policy.

Two of the things the 911 Commission correctly pointed out was one, a lack of imagination about he threats we faced (see the Gore Commission Report on Aviation Safety for an example) and second, a failure to connect the dots. There were a whole lots of dots connecting Hussein Iraq and Al Qaeda, including contacts, discussions about safe haven for AQ in Hussein Iraq, Bin Laden fatwas stating that the jihad would cooperate with such as Hussein if that advanced the jihad, and the mutual desire of both to see all American and western influence and even contact in the Middle East removed.

If you can’t answer about those No Fly Zones, a decade long military operation that was not even in our security interest but was purely humanistarian to protect civilians from a brutal regime, I can understand that you might not have any idea of what we should have done! If the Huseein regime had not been removed, what would be the situation now? By this time, Uday or Qusay might have been running the show. By the time of the 911 attacks, the 911 CR stated that up to 20,000 fighters had gone through the AQ training camps. While all of them would not become full fledged terrorists, that is still 1,000 times the number of people who killed three thousand people on out shores while armed with box cutters.

Have you ever wondered why after six and more years in Afghanistan, we have lost a tiny fraction of what he Soviets did in the same time period? If we add all the KIA in Afghanistan and Iraq they come nowhere close to the 15,000 dead the Soviets experienced in Afghanistan alone.

Why?

The breeding ground and ideological and monetary support for takfirism was and is centered in the Arab Middle East. If we were fighting only in Afghanistan, the Arab Middle East, far away from there, would have supported those fighting us with money and forces. But, once America was on the ground in Iraq, behavior changed. Peope in Saudi Arabia who would gladly send millions to the Taleban and AQ in Afghanistan suddenly had American power right next door – and it got their attention. Some went to fight us in Iraq, but not many went to Afghanistan. Had we not been in Iraq, Afghanistan would have been a bloodbath. If we withdraw from Iraq before stabilizing that country, it still will be.

We are in a hard and long lasting fight, and it is ideological even if more often then not expressed in combat.

Japan attacked us in 1941. We went to war with Germany, that had not attacked us. We committed the bulk of our resources for years to defeating Germany, while leaving the country that had attacked us as secondary. We attacked Germany by invading a neutral country, France, and incidentally killed thousands of French civilians during the six weeks of Operation Overlord that began on D-Day.

The takfirs have to be defeated both militarilly and as an idea, as it was with the Nazis. The antithesis of takfirism, what they hate and fear the most is democracy – the right of the people to choose their destiny. That is why we have pushed it, as being the best form of selecting government yet devised by man, with the greatest chance for freedom, prosperity and peace and as an answer to the endemic problems of the Middle East breeding ground. The Arabs of the Middle East have been ruled for centuries by oligarchs and kleptocrats. If it were not for the oil money, the standard of living in the whole of the Arab Middle East would be lower than that of sub Sahara Africa. That area is home to the most abused and downtrodden people on the planet. That is why it breeds takfirs.

Democracy has produced its share of bad leaders and bad government, but it has also provided countless millions with hope of things that are better even if temporarily saddled with bad leaders. We survived Carter! With democracy there is some control over one’s own destiny.

We brought genuine democracy to Germany, Japan and South Korea. You are right that part of the impetus for the Marshall Plan was to enable Western Europe to become part of a bulwark against Stalinism Yet those countries were and are free, were and are not American vassals, and they engaged in trade freely with us and us with them, and the lot of all improved! I remember a time when parents in South Korea would give up their children as “orphans”, lest they starve! Today we buy South Korean made TVs, computers and cars. Do you know that the entire Arab Middle East does not manufacture one single item that is world quality, meaning, it’s quality is universally accepted. A Middle East where he concept of individual rights and self rule grows, and well as a free economy ratified by themselves is the means to beat takfirism as an ideology – and Al Qaeda knows it!

Have you ever read Bin Laden’s fatwas and Al Zarqawi’s communiques on that subject? It is not about making then to be like us. It’s about giving them the choice to be as free people choose to be.

Dissenting Patriot said...

Denis,

As I've said before, using large-scale conventional forces to engage a terrorist organization such as existed in Iraq prior to 2003 is like using a butcher knife to do the work of a scalpel. Might there be exceptions? Perhaps. I think in general, however, it is best to use special operations forces in partnership with indigenous fighters and perhaps with conventional military support to perform counter-terrorism work. I would prefer not to get bogged down in a debate on that subject however.

You wrote, "Words like exasperating and naive don’t cut it, DP, as in the ridiculous statement about them discrediting anti-imperialism! DP, they are slaughterers of anyone who does not follow their narrowly defined religious notions. The victims of the takfirs in Afghanistan and Iraq have been overwhelmingly Moselms and civilians. They are monsters."

In my use of the words "exasperating" and "naive" I was describing members of what is commonly referred to as the anti-war movement, not the takfiris.

Concerning the article on privatization, I don't think the author was criticizing the removal of senior Ba'athists from power, but rather Bremer's subsequent decisions affecting the Iraqi economy.

You then criticized the author for what you interpreted as an attack on free market economics. I don't see that she was attacking free market economics per se, but rather the decision to allow, in particular, 100% foreign ownership of Iraqi assets without reinvestment into the Iraqi economy, etc. I agree with your position on centrally planned economies, but it does not naturally follow that a completely open market is in a nation's interest. Our legislators would be up in arms on behalf of the interests of domestic businesses if, for example, China were allowed unrestricted access to U.S. markets without reciprocal guarantees.

You asked me to cite the law which makes it illegal for an occupying power to impose legal reforms affecting the occupied country's economic structure. Please reference:

http://www.icrc.org/ihl.nsf/b0d5f4c1f4b8102041256739003e6366/3741eab8e36e9274c12563cd00516894?OpenDocument

This was ratified by the U.S. Congress and is therefore legally binding and in fact incorporated into the U.S. Constitution.

You wrote: "Do you folks ever rationalize in your own minds the dichotomy: the complaint that we are pouring billions of American dollars into Iraq, yet at the same time we are supposedly robbing Iraq blind? Which is it?"

I call that a business investment. A bad one certainly, but an investment nonetheless. The Iraqi insurgency has been effective in preventing a return on that investment.

You wrote: "Please explain how any nations prospers or even survives economically if its banks and industries are not open to investment and ownership by people from other countires? See North Korea. In case you’ve missed it – a whole lot of U.S. businesses, including banks and infrastructure, are owned in part or whole by people from other nations. Likewise, American companies own in part of whole businesses in other coutries. That is called freedom."

I'm not suggesting Iraq should cut itself off from foreign investment by any means, but the terms of investment are critical. The devil is in the details. One would think that if Bremer and his political masters were interested in quickly revitalizing the Iraqi economy and restoring sovereignty to Iraq they would mandate some minimum amount of reinvestment back into the country's banks to generate capital flow rather than allowing full repatriation of profits. That sounds like classic colonialism to me. Contrast that with the Marshall Plan.

In response to your comments on 1991-2003, consider this summary report:

http://www.globalpolicy.org/security/issues/iraq/attack/consequences/2008/0318fiveyears.htm

Concerning alleged AQ-Saddam Hussein links, can you refer me to the intelligence sources? Several of them turned out to be fabricators, yet Bush administration officials continued to cite them as credible despite repeatedly being informed to the contrary. I'd be interested to see who the sources were if possible.

I'll skip down a bit because your writing gets a bit diffuse. The comparisons between Hitler and Saddam Hussein serve more of a political purpose than anything else. Both were diabolical men, but the suggestion that not invading Iraq would have left us with the alternative of appeasement ignores a lot of other options that were available....

You wrote: "You are right that part of the impetus for the Marshall Plan was to enable Western Europe to become part of a bulwark against Stalinism Yet those countries were and are free, were and are not American vassals, and they engaged in trade freely with us and us with them, and the lot of all improved!"

Agreed. Not so in the case of Iraq in my view.

You wrote: "A Middle East where [t]he concept of individual rights and self rule grows, and well as a free economy ratified by themselves is the means to beat takfirism as an ideology – and Al Qaeda knows it!"

Agreed. Self-rule, however, presupposes withdrawal, or at least a timeline for it, which is what the Iraqi parliament has demanded. You also dubiously assume that the Iraqi government has chosen to ratify a "free economy", absent U.S. political coercion. If this were the case I do not think we would be seeing the degree of resistance directed against U.S. occupying forces that we are seeing in Iraq today.

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