Saturday, August 27, 2005

Charter Concerns, not Despair

Friday’s dramatic finish to the Iraqi constitutional/charter negotiations is already generating a slew of articles that are alarmist in tone and content. That’s too bad. While there are reasons to be concerned, this is not a dead end to democracy in Iraq.

In a trilateral process between Kurds, Sunnis and Shiites, the interim government had stalled on crafting a new constitution. Three issues, federalism and Islamism, and de-Baathification held up the process, with Arab Sunnis objecting to the preferences of the Shiites. Yesterday with the Sunnis on the sidelines Shia and Kurd essentially sealed the deal.

Critics here have loudly pointed out how this poses horrendous problems for the future of Iraq. While it certainly poses some challenges, things are not as bad as the wailing of the banshees might indicate.
The problems all revolve around the questions of the distribution of power and wealth in a future Iraq. Federalism could theoretically lead to two substantially autonomous regions with control of most Iraq’s oil; one Kurdish in the north, another Shiite in the south. Sunnis fear that they will be excluded from oil wealth and left in control of a few meager provinces. In addition the possibility of an Iranian influenced Shiite southland is daunting to Sunni and westerner alike.

Islamism presents a further obstacle. The Shiites without Kurdish objection have pushed for a more Islamic basis for the law then the Sunnis (or we Americans) are truly comfortable with. Iraqi Sunnis, after 25 years of empowerment under Saddam’s secular rule, have mostly fallen away from rigid Koranic adherence.

The charter now accepted by Shiite and Kurd allows for using Islam as a main for the law. It allows consideration of Sharia, for all family law decisions, which include marriage and divorce issues. And it provides for the inclusion of Muslim clerics on the independent supreme court. This is problematic for the secular Sunnis, and again raises the specter of Iranian style theocracy gaining too strong a foothold in Iraq; especially since the Shiites look to their Iranian educated clerics for leadership.

But there are reasons to believe all is not lost. There are countervailing forces to all of these trends. Not the least of which is that a charter was negotiated at all. And for now, the Sunnis have not been shrilly rejecting it.

On the question of federalism, while there is certainly a worst case scenario to consider, involving the breakup of Iraq, with a Shiite south becoming an Iranian annex, it’s most unlikely. Autonomy, in Iraq has its limits. The Shiites while religiously akin to the Iranians are still ethnically Arabs. Historically they have rejected Persian cultural hegemony in the region. While there are political divisions between the two sects in Iraq, there are cultural, linguistic, economic and even tribal ties. The last is not to be underestimated. Tribes still form an important social and economic institution especially outside the cities, and some tribes have members of both sects. Tribal identification is still a primary social marker, and the culturally Persian Iranians have no access.

The Kurds too require for their survival a brake on autonomy. While they enjoy considerable success at managing their own affairs, running the safest richest provinces today, they need the rest of Iraq. The reason for this is Turkey.

While 5 million Iraqi Kurds enjoy self government, 14 million more in Turkey do not. An additional 6 million Kurds live in Iran and Syria. While Iraqi Kurds would ideally seek a single nation encompassing the entire homeland range of the Kurds, these three regional powers are all firmly opposed to ceding territory to a new nation of potentially 25 million.

Turkey with the largest territory and largest population is particularly vehement about heading off Kurdish independence, in any form. Turkey also has the best military in the region. The Iraqi Kurds know this, and will count on remaining part of a unified Iraqi nation out of self preservation.

On the Islamist front, it is again the Kurds who give hope. While Sunnis object to the inclusion of Muslim provisions in the constitution, the Kurds have not. This is not because the Kurds are any more religious then the Sunnis. The Kurds are predominantly Sunni themselves. And as a society they are about as secular as their Arab co-religionists.

While their already established limited autonomy may make them less afraid of encroaching fundamentalism, there is another factor. The fight over Religious legal precepts is more about simple Sunni versus Shiite power wrangling. As such the Kurds stood aside and let the Shiites have this fight.
That will not necessarily always be the case. Sunnis and Kurds have common ground as fellow members of the Sunni sect, and as a combined minority, of just over a third of the population. The Kurds and the Shiites share a history of oppression at Sunni Arab hands, and a commitment to preventing that from recurring. The Shiites and Sunnis share a language a culture and an Arab identity as well as tribal ties.

This sets up an interdependence of interests. In this round the Kurd’s goals coincided with the Shiites on enough issues, especially federalism. In the future they are likely to align with the Sunnis on others. While the Shiites have a near two thirds majority, they only control half of Iraq’s eighteen provinces. This sets the Sunnis and Kurds up as natural allies on some issues.

While the Sunnis only control three provinces, these include major cities which if the rebellion can be curbed, will again be important economically and politically. And the central location of these provinces links the Shia south with the Kurdish North, neither of which truly wants to stand alone against the larger powers on its border.

The key question is the insurgency. Having won this round, it would be wise for the Shiites to throw Sunni leaders some sort of political bone before October’s ratifications. With three provinces of Sunni majority, the Sunnis are in a position to deflect the constitution. Ratification can be blocked by a two thirds negative vote in exactly three provinces. While it remains in question whether those provinces would all vote 2/3 negative, it is too possible for the Sunnis to manipulate the vote with threats and violence.

We will have to see. As long as the Shiites reach out, or the Kurds, or both, things may be better than the pundits are calling them. Ratification and then new elections lie ahead. Democracy seems to be struggling down the birth canal. As a soldier liable to return, I’m keeping my fingers crossed.

See also Right Wing Nuthouse on this.

See also Right Wing News.

See also Betsy's Page.

Friday, August 26, 2005

Cindy's19th Nervous Breakdown!

I swore I wouldn’t give her another drop of ink. I promised I would avoid contributing again to the sound and fury associated with her name. Yet here I am, speaking once again to Cindy Sheehan. But, someone please get this woman some help. Her grief has obviously caused some sort of deep psychosis and we in the media should do what we can to call attention to this.

Wednesday night she spoke at length to reporters. For about fifteen minutes. Her story is old, and she didn’t reveal anything new, so it didn’t make a big splash. But it did reveal how truly out of touch the combination of grief, fame and the isolation of hearing everything through sycophants, has left her.

Her entire speech was composed of the deluded ravings of a broken mind. This is not the beat Cindy up hour. I’m seriously concerned that she needs psychiatric attention. Grief can do real damage. It’s almost necessary to repeat her entire speech but I’ll try to focus on the most revealing portions.

Jon Stewart said, “Well apparently they are trying to stop Vietnam.” You know and that kind of offended me because maybe if we had really stopped Vietnam, Iraq wouldn’t have happened. You know we, I think it was such a long struggle that after Vietnam, I’m not going to take any credit or blame for this because I was really young, it was just like well we got our troops out now we don’t have to make sure they never do this to our kids again. And I am going to make sure that after our troops are brought home from Iraq, and they will be brought back, that we’re going to keep the Camp Casey movement going and we’re gonna make sure that our kids are never sent to fight a war for power and greed.

Cindy Sheehan really believes that if her cohort and their babysitters had just been a bit shriller thirty five years ago we wouldn’t have needed to fight in Iraq. There was nothing wrong with Saddam Hussein, or the Baath party. It’s just that the hippie freaks who allowed Vietnam to fall under a communist dictatorship didn’t follow through. See you guys should have showed up on Election Day in 1980. But you were all probably too busy admiring the Iranian Revolutionary Guard. Those kids put you hippies to shame.

I’m thinking probably, probably the country is kind of going to take me at my word from now on. They are going to know that I’m not going to give up and today was really hard when I came in and saw Casey bigger than life over there. I miss him so much and I miss him more every day, but like that song “Joe Hill,” Casey’s not dead. I see him in all of your eyes and Casey will never die.

That’s exactly right Cindy, we’ve all been sitting around for the last 5 years waiting for a new national leader to step up to the plate and say:

“I see dead people”

Now that you’ve done it we’re all listening. What should we do? You must have all the answers, you have absolute authority. What should we do?

You know, I’m here because of Casey, we’re all here because of Casey and you know lit erally there is, there is over 2000 of our brave young people and tens of thousands of innocent Iraqis and I know they are behind us, and I see them, all their faces on your faces.

More dead people!

Casey was such a gentle kind loving person. He never even got in one fist fight his whole life.

He joined the Army Mom! During a war! Unless you raised a total idiot he must have had some idea violence might be involved! Did you raise an idiot? Or did you miss the signals that like other young men he longed to test his mettle?

Nobody even hated him enough to punch him let alone kill him, and that’s what George Bush did. He put our kids in another person’s country and Casey was killed by insurgents. He wasn’t killed by terrorists. He was killed by Shiite militia who wanted him out of the country, when Casey was told he was going to be welcomed with chocolate and flowers as a liberator. Well, the people of Iraq saw it differently. They saw him as an occupier.

George Bush didn’t hate your son, George Bush didn’t kill him. Terrorists did. The Shiite militias were terrorists too. The Shiites were already in a strong position, but one young hothead among them named Muqtada Sadr, didn’t like the size of his piece of pie. Knowing that he had no moral authority to challenge Sistani and the other real Shiite leaders he declared war on coalition forces, Casey was killed because an evil man in Iraq saw him as a bargaining chip.

Casey wasn’t told anything about chocolate and flowers. I deployed to Iraq in 2004 too. I can assure you maam, the briefings were all about how dangerous it would be.
He always wanted to serve. He thought he was giving something back to his country and community, also having been lied to by his recruiter. So, then for my boy to be killed in a war -- I don’t know if you moms did the same thing, but when I would nurse him I would promise him I would never let him go to war, you know, and I broke that promise to him.

Well I’ll admit that recruiters can lie, but it sounds like Casey did what he wanted to. He served. With honor. He gave back, I’m proud to have served with him, though I never knew him. And how could you promise that, and why? Were you that obsessed with war at his birth? No wonder he wanted to be a Soldier.

We’re here because we want to make it so our kids, their deaths stand for peace and love, and this is what is at Camp Casey. And you know some people are saying, “Oh what are guys trying to do, recreate the sixties?” Oh yeah, peace and love is a really bad thing. You know it’s been something that’s been missing in our country for decades and I’m not ashamed, you know, I’m not ashamed to say that this is a place where you can come and feel loved. You know this is the place where the end of the occupation of Iraq started.

Your son’s death already stands for peace. The peace of the weak protected from the strong. Because unfortunately the world is not, never was, and never will be the ideal of the sixties. Real peace needs to be defended by brave strong men. The Iraqi’s have brave strong men, and when enough of them are ready, then the occupation will end.

And this is it, this is where it’s going to begin and we’re not going stop today, we’re not going to stop on the 31st. We’re not going stop ever, ever. We will make sure that this keeps on going. We won’t have a war, another war, in 30 or 40 years, where we’ll be saying, “Oh this is another Iraq.” You know, no, it’s not going to ever happen again. It’s not going to just be me. It’s going to be me with the millions of people who are behind us, making sure that that will happen.

Please? The sixties really are over. There’ll be another war somewhere next year. And somewhere else after that. Not because I say so. Not because I don’t want peace. I do. I ‘m a soldier and I have a mother too, and I never want her to go through what you have. But men like Saddam Hussein and Kim Il Jong and others only respect strength, and they will always test us. Your little picnic on the president’s lawn won’t change the world, it won’t even make you feel better.

Go home Mrs Sheehan. Get some rest. And call someone. A priest, a grief counselor, a psychiatrist, but please get some help.

Thursday, August 25, 2005

How Low will they Go?

One sign of weakness in an opponent is the vicious desperate attack of equally weak targets in a fight. However, attacks in this vein are often pointless, ineffective and they tend to backfire. Just ask al-Qaeda how well it’s organization is doing since September 11, 2001. How far along are they in their goals. Apparently the left wing loonies in this country faced with the same level of desperation are adapting their own deplorable tactics.
How else can one explain the presence of Code Pink Women for Peace at Walter Reed Hospital? Walter Reed now scheduled to close its doors and merge with Bethesda Naval Hospital, is the premier US Army medical facility. It is the hospital where hundreds of soldiers wounded in Iraq and Afghanistan come for treatment and rehabilitation, including many with severe injuries such as loss of limb..
What’s particularly horrible about this is that the Code Pink organization has openly expressed its hostility not only to the Bush administration, but to soldiers themselves. At least that’s the way this old soldier would interpret the support that Code Pink Leader Jodie Evan’s statements supporting the insurgents in Iraq. In a post on her blog she said the following.
“We must begin by really standing with the Iraqi people and their right to resist. I can remain myself against all forms of violence, and yet I cannot judge what someone has to do when pushed to the wall to protect all they love. What does the Iraqi resistance have to lose? They are fighting for their country, to protect their families and to preserve all they love. They are fighting for their lives, and we are fighting for lies. It is so amazingly obvious; we must get out of Iraq now. They will rebuild their country, it will take time, a long time, but they cannot start until we are gone.”
I think I’m safe in saying, that most of the soldiers inside that hospital felt like they were fighting In Iraq for their families and certain fighting for their lives when they were wounded. The plain fact is that most of those soldiers were injured by attacks initiated by the insurgents. Most of these attacks are roadside bombs, car bombs, or mortar attacks on US bases. It’s hard to see these attacks as any sort of self defense.
These insurgents are primarily Saddam’s loyal Sunni Baathists and terrorist from foreign Arab states. The things that they love are despotism, cronyism, torture, murder rape and the subjugation of women. The things they hate are Americans, democracy, economic empowerment, and freedom. The kind of freedoms that allow Code Pink to parade flag draped coffins and anti-soldier picket signs outside an Army hospital full of wounded soldiers. Those soldiers likely considered themselves to be working to further the interests all Iraqis. The only thing that’s amazingly obvious is much faster Iraq could be rebuilt with US assistance if the insurgents would quit the field. Such pro insurgent sentiments while poisonous are short enough of treason to be protected speech in a democracy. Barely!
Code Pink stands outside the Crawford ranch as well as Walter Reed. They say they stand there with the families of the fallen. But their only real compassion is for their own bankrupt cause. At Walter Reed the protesters favor visiting hours for their activity. Families, already in pain must run the gauntlet of protesters. Families who support their soldiers. Soldiers who believe in the choices they’ve made.
These protest tactics show the lack of real compassion for real people. Code Pink is in the forefront of the coalition that claims to speak for grieving families. Now they are trying to exploit the situation of wounded soldiers. I know they don’ speak for this soldier.
Obviously Code Pink has the right to this protest. But having a right doesn’t make you right. Code Pink is wrong, wrong at Crawford and wrong to be at Walter Reed. Like the terrorists they seem to feel a rapport with they are ineffectively striking out. This to is bound to backfire.


So now the left is focusing on George Bush’s vacation. Apparently none of their other approaches to criticism have resonated. So now it’s: “The president shouldn’t be on vacation during a war.” Or: “this is the longest presidential vacation in History.” These attacks, like so much of the left wing’s agenda are not only pointless distractions, they are completely dishonest.
When they say the US president is on Vacation at his Ranch in Crawford, it doesn’t mean what a vacation means to mere mortals. It’s not like he’s truly able to get away from his responsibilities. He is obviously in daily contact with the rest of the government. In the 21st century technology allows a virtual White House to follow the president anywhere. Meanwhile the congress and Supreme Court are recessed
In fact the president conducting plenty of business not only at Crawford, but he’s obviously been traveling, Utah, Idaho. What kind of vacation involves a speaking tour? From what I understand those can be kind of grueling.
So what is the president vacationing from? Obviously not the war. The president is completely in touch with the war. He is obviously able to administer the war from Crawford. He is vacationing from some of the daily minutiae of government. In the summer with congress recessed much of that is political. Meetings with PTAs, Boy Scouts and such. And hosting or attending diplomatic functions. Much of this and all that is important can be conducted in Crawford.
He certainly doesn’t get away from media scrutiny. Nor has he escaped criticism. In fact a troop of left wing loonies has camped out down the road, drawing media and criticism. The president has made countless media appearances in the last few weeks.
He’s been accused for the length of his time away. This is also silly. Teddy Roosevelt similarly turned His Sag Hill LI residence into a summer White House. And like Bush Teddy was fighting a nasty guerrilla war in a distant land, the Phillipines. The vacation from the war is really a total canard. It is the one priority he deals with most on his vacation.
As a soldier fighting in Iraq I got a vacation too. Most soldiers deployed to Iraq get a fifteen day R&R break. With the travel involved, it generally means a three week break from the war, since the fifteen day block starts and ends on US soil. My fifteen days, unlike the presidents, are work free. While I thought about the war, and talked about a bit, I was truly on vacation. The presiden still addresses national business daily. What kind of vacation is that?

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

The Last Word.

This is the trasnscript of the debate on Hardball with Chris Matthews. Again I have respect for Paul, just not his views. Paul is very much against this war.

MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL.

A day after President Bush talked openly for the first time about the large number of Americans killed in Iraq, he was forced to answer a question today about why he won‘t meet with Cindy Sheehan again at his Crawford ranch.

Here‘s what the president said.


BUSH: Well, I did meet with Cindy Sheehan. I strongly support her right to protest. There‘s a lot of people protesting. And there‘s a lot of points of view about the Iraq war.

As you know, in Crawford last weekend, there was people from both sides of the issue or from all sides of the issue there to express their opinions.

I sent Deputy Chief of Staff Hagen and National Security Adviser Hadley to meet with Ms. Sheehan early on.

She expressed her opinion. I disagree with it. I think immediate withdrawal from Iraq would be a mistake. I think those who advocate immediate withdrawal from not only Iraq but the Middle East are advocating a policy that would weaken the United States.

So I appreciate her right to protest. I understand her anguish. I‘ve met with a lot of families. She doesn‘t represent the view of a lot of families I have met with. And I‘ll continue to meet with families.


MATTHEWS: “She doesn‘t represent the views of a lot of families I have met with,” those are the operative words.

Sergeant John Byrnes served in Iraq last year and wrote an op-ed in today‘s “New York Post,” disagreeing with Senator Chuck Hagel‘s comparison of the war in Iraq to the war in Vietnam. And Paul Rieckhoff served a tour of duty in Iraq from April 2003 to February of just last year. He is executive director of Operation Truth.

Gentlemen, I respect both of your services. It seems to me, what‘s happening now is not just this back-and-forth about, will the president meet with Cindy Sheehan, the mother—Gold Star mother, or not? But both sides now seem to be saying, because there are casualties in this war, 2,000 dead now, and, what, 5,000 or 10,000 casualties, wounded, if you count a different way, seriously wounded, as opposed to just wounded for a day or two, that if you have casualties, that‘s proof we should not fight anymore, we should pull out. And the other side says, well, we have had casualties—that‘s the president speaking—so, we should stay in, because we owe it to them.

Does either side have a point, Sergeant Byrnes?

SGT. JOHN BYRNES, IRAQ WAR VETERAN: Well, I think both sides have a point, but I certainly agree with the president‘s point of view strongly on that.

I think that the worst thing that you could do to dishonor those who have fallen, whether finally or have simply fallen to get up and fight again another day, the worst thing you could do to their memory is to restore Iraq to the kind of dictatorship that it had three years ago or to let it erode into a totally chaotic situation, where there‘s absolutely no control of the borders and the people have absolutely no hope for economic or political benefit.

MATTHEWS: Paul Rieckhoff, your view. Do you think it‘s fair to use the dead, basically, the people who have served their country to the ultimate price, paying the ultimate price, as to make a case for a policy?

PAUL RIECKHOFF, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, OPERATION TRUTH: I honestly don‘t think so. And neither does Senator Hagel.

What he‘s saying is, by other metrics, we don‘t have any success. He talks about oil production. He talks about electricity production. He talks about the never-ending security problems. And I think this all stems from the president‘s failure to articulate what success looks like. He has never communicated to the American public, to the Iraqi people and to the troops on the ground what right looks like. How do we know when we‘re done? And give us a ballpark. How long is it going to take?

To demand an exit strategy is not the same as advocating for an immediate pullout. I think it is a strategic military plan and it makes sense to know how long we are going to be there and what kind of resources we need to extend and also how to prepare the American people for it.

MATTHEWS: Let me ask you this, Sergeant, or John, if—you‘re still on ready reserve, right? So I got to...


BYRNES: You can call me Sergeant or not.


BYRNES: ... John...


MATTHEWS: Well, I will call you both.


MATTHEWS: So, let me ask you this about the—the serious question about policy and how long we should stay.

Shouldn‘t the question be, can we get something done over there between now and the next couple of years? We are not going to stay there forever. So, it‘s, should we stay another year or two or another four or five years? That‘s probably the range we‘re arguing about here, isn‘t it?

BYRNES: Well, I...

MATTHEWS: It‘s whether—it‘s a matter of a couple of years difference between the pullout experts or the pullout advocates. Nobody is really going to say—because it‘s not going to happen—we are pulling out tomorrow. So, we begin to pull out next year. We begin to pull out in three or four years, is probably the argument. What can we get done in that three or four years we can‘t get done in a year?

BYRNES: Well, I think that we could stabilize the government. We can provide security for longer.

It will give us more time to train up and to equip the Iraqi forces. But I think what is happening here is, we‘re conflating several different arguments. The people who are saying pull out now, I think that‘s a ridiculous argument. And I think even Senator Hagel recognizes that as a ridiculous argument.

The problem that I had with Senator Hagel‘s comments on Thursday and particularly on Sunday morning were that he was waving the banner of Vietnam. He was saying that we‘re not achieving anything. And he was contradicting himself. He said that pulling out would leave a power vacuum that would destabilize the region, but that staying there would destabilize the region.

And having gotten the press attention that he got on Thursday, I didn‘t understand why he couldn‘t on Sunday make some constructive remarks, rather than to wave that Vietnam flag again and to bring up all these issues of: We should leave now. We are destabilizing the region.

Senator Hagel, if you have a plan that will help, if you have some ideas that will do something, go ahead and share them with us. But don‘t just—just beat on the Vietnam drum and tell us how bad we‘re doing.

MATTHEWS: Paul, do you think there‘s a parallel between Vietnam and Iraq?

RIECKHOFF: I think there are some parallels. I think there are similarities.

And Chuck Hagel would know. He served honorably in Vietnam and was—was awarded two Purple Hearts. Even Henry Kissinger is starting to talk about parallels between Vietnam. The issue is not just, should we stay or should we pull out, but should we change course? And you‘re hearing that from all sides at this point. You‘re hearing it from—especially from the veterans, like John McCain, like Senator Hagel.

You‘re hearing it from people on the inside during Vietnam, like Henry Kissinger. The question before the president is, right now, why does your view of Iraq look so much different from these people? And why haven‘t you changed course? You don‘t need to necessarily pull out, but doing exactly what we‘re doing over and over again is not working. And that‘s clear now to everyone in America.

MATTHEWS: Let‘s assume there‘s costs and benefits to staying another three or four years in Iraq. The costs are people getting killed, our guys, us killing them, making more enemies.

The problem that always comes, a kind of human tissue rejection. Sooner or later, country nationals want the foreigners to leave. It just happens, good guys or bad guys. You can be handing out candy bars and building schools. They still say, enough already. How do you figure the costs and benefits here of how long we stay?

BYRNES: Well, it is obviously a very, very complicated calculus.

I personally think that we need to plan to leave. I‘m not disagreeing with anybody who says that. I certainly don‘t want to...


MATTHEWS: In five years? Three or four years.

BYRNES: Four or five years.

But I think focusing on a number is the wrong thing. One of the things that Senator Hagel might have had right is focusing on things that we need to achieve, electricity, sewage, security. But, again, had he come up with some suggestions, had he made any positive remarks in that direction, they would have been welcome.

But what he did was, he beat the Vietnam drum and he turned on the president from within his own party, and he basically did so in a way that was designed to generate publicity for himself.

MATTHEWS: Do you think he is running for office?

BYRNES: I absolutely think he is running for office.

MATTHEWS: For what?

BYRNES: I think he is running for president and I think he‘s running for president now to get funding, so that he can run for president in 2008.

MATTHEWS: Do you agree there‘s a political coloration to what he‘s been saying, Paul?

RIECKHOFF: I think there probably is some political coloration.

But let‘s make a distinction here. This is not Michael Moore and Dennis Kucinich talking about advocating for a change of policy here. This is Chuck Hagel. This is John McCain. It‘s people who have been on the ground in Vietnam. And they‘ve also been there in Iraq. And they‘ve seen that the president is off the mark here. He‘s doing it wrong.

And we have got to evolve our strategy here and try to learn from our mistakes. To continue to run headlong into a wall is just stupid. And it is not working. And, in the end, it will end up making more enemies for us than we can kill. That‘s what it is all about. You‘re right, Chris. It‘s about a net gain or a net loss. Are we making more enemies than we are killing?

And, right now, if you stick with President Bush‘s continuing foreign policy, we‘re not. We are not going to gain ground.

MATTHEWS: Would you agree—we only have a second or two. You agree, though, Paul, that pulling out now, yanking the plug, sending the troops home in the next couple weeks and months, would be bad news?

RIECKHOFF: I do. I think it is unrealistic and I also think it‘s morally irresponsible. I think, at this point, we do have an obligation to the Iraqi people.

The reality is that this thing, this thing at this point is so screwed up, that, if we stay, it is going to be bad and, if we leave, it is going to be bad. There‘s no silver-bullet argument. We have to admit that first. Then we can start to develop a plan including all parties.

MATTHEWS: OK. This is a good argument.

By the way, I respect the service of both of you gentlemen. I‘m mean that. And I especially respect the fact, in addition to that, that this is a smart argument.

Anyway, thank you, Sergeant John Byrnes.

And, thank you, Paul Rieckhoff.

Due to timing Paul got off the last shot. But I hate not getting the last word in. Paul agreed that "yankin the plug" would be "unrealistic and I also think it‘s morally irresponsible". Here's the deal plain and simple. It's why without meaning to Chuck Hagel and Paul Reikoff come off sounding like Micael Moore et al. It's why the president is sticking to his guns. The siganl for when it's time to leave is when the job is done. We can estimate that, but we can't dictate it. When Iraq is ready to stand on its own, secure its borders and run a peaceful civil society, everyone can come home.
These calls for an exit strategy have not been helpful. Particularly from Republicans because they bolster the left's bring em home now mantra. Why did the President step on the Pentagon's own plan to reduce the troop numbers next year. Probably because it was announced at a time where it looked like a cut and run strategy.
My guess is if the Iraqis can get their S--t together with this constitution, the December elections and their security forces, the Pentagon's plan will come off. More quietly, and maybe a little later than Spring. But if the Iraqis still haven't got a clue by early next Summer, with midterm elections looming, then an administration policy shift is seriously possible. As long as there are sign's of prgress like successful election's, constitutional compromise, and courageous Iraqis signing up to defend the state, we'll be staying the course.

Tuesday, August 23, 2005


If you tuned in to MSNBC tonight at 7 PM Eastern Time, you saw me debate Lt. Paul Reikoff on Hardball. Paul stood in for Sen. Hagel calling to abandon Iraq. Fact is, I know Paul well and serve with him in the same unit of The National Guard. We just disagree politically, and his position is far more rational then Sen Hagel's most recent statements. On the other hand like Sen Hagel he was more interested in pointing out what he thinks is wrong then making positive suggestions.
On another note the NY Post version of my views on Hagel has drawn some interesting rebuttals This is from my favorite. We have met the enemy and he is us!

anytime somebody say the true, it become a manner of
critic in this country. The U N, France, Germany,
China, Rusia was against the war in Iraq and them
become a critic of the USA.

today The iraqui people was better with Saddam in
power that with the USA in Iraq, Today Iraq became a
killing field. The USA has Kill more Iraqui in the two
years, That Saddam kill in the 35 years in power.

The USA trying to fool the world with the lie about
foreign fighter pouring into iraq to face off our
the Iraqui people dont
want the America in their Country, what america should
start doing is sending to Iraq all does SENATOR KID'S
that vote in favor for the war between the age of 18 -
30 a least one to the war including the President
Daughter as real support for our Forces, it's not fair
that our country is at war at the President Daughter
is going around doing durty dancing in the Bar and the
son of much off this senator playing GOLF went the
poor american children are fighting in iraq for no
There was no reason to go to war in Iraq the was
W.O.M.D in Iraq is was a BIG LIE to Invade Iraq.

my regards

How eloquent!!!
I pray this is satire!!!!!



Today looks like to be an editorial free day for me. (Online anyway.) Hope there's no one worth arguing with in the news until tonight. This afternoon I have a meeting/interview with a documentary team. They do "History Channel" type productions. They are looking for something on New York's National Guard. Maybe a ground zero to the Sunni Triangle theme, but I don't know. Maybe an opportunity to pitch some ideas. I'll have to see.
I'll also be on the NY Post's op-ed page. It's basically a re-write of the Chuck Hagel piece down this page but it's a little different. For those with a morbid curiosity about the editorial process in the print world you can check out the changes.
In the meantime with some help from John In Carolina I hope to begin a national campaign to advocate for veteran and reserve students. I'm going to start with Campus group on Hunter and try to spread it immediately to the rest of the CUNY university system. For those who live beyond the Hudson, CUNY is a huge school with a dozen plus colleges. Its campuses are all administered seperately. I have some hopes for a Columbia chapter as well.
So here's what I'm thinking. Any one who has or does form a campus group for veterans and reseve advocacy lets get it together. I'm willing to build an umbrella organizationt. I'm thinking a very loose organization of affiliated local groups. I'm working out the details.
This way we can pool knowledge and our voices. But still remain locally oriented. Any suggestions or help is appreciated. I am going to work out the whole not for profit corporate thing, but fundraising will be needed. Right now I'm looking for suggestions not cash.
I know this isn't my normal speed, but I had to write something today. Betsy Newmark and the rest of Michelle Malkin's guest bloggers will have to provide your editorial fix today. But hey, if you live in NYC, spend a quarter or two on the Post will you? They owe me some money, so let's keep them in funds. Have a great day.

Monday, August 22, 2005

I Know: Let's Handcuff the Army!

Salesmen sell. It’s what they do. When you go in to a car dealer to buy a new Cadillac Escalade, the pitchman there will hit you with image, style, comfort, luxury, maybe even sex appeal. He is not likely to mention, in an era of $3.00 per gallon pump prices that you’ll be lucky to get sixteen miles to the gallon. It’s not in his interest, and if you were all that concerned about fuel economy you’d be in the Honda dealership across the street. Everybody knows SUVs are gas guzzlers; he doesn’t need to point it out.

NY Times editorial columnist Bob Herbert (view it if you must) would have you believe that Military recruiters should act differently. Apparently he doesn’t think that America’s adolescents understand that joining the Army can be dangerous. This is in spite of the constant reminders in the media that the combined death toll since 2001 is now over 2000.

According to Mr. Herbert America’s youth are so “especially impressionable and vulnerable” that a sales pitch concentrating on some of the great benefits of the military is enough to make them forget that people are fighting and dying in a war. Apparently when recruiters talk about things like money for college, travel, health benefits, career opportunities and more, America’s youth become so entranced by these sugarplum visions that they become putty in the hands of recruiters.

The reality of recruiting couldn’t be further from that image.

Army recruiters often have work weeks that run to eighty hours. A typical day can involve a 3 AM wake up call to chauffer a prospect to a Military Entrance Processing Station for initial entry evaluation. When finished at MEPS in the afternoon, there are cold calls and follow ups to be made. Evenings are often spent pitching to prospects at High School ball games, job fairs or the mall.

Family life suffers. Recruiters need to meet quotas or fail. Failure in the military is not a pleasant sensation. Sanctions range from reassignment to loss of certain benefits. And recruiters like all soldiers have pride.

Recruiters need to sort through hundreds of prospects just to get the usual quota of two a month “shipped”, that is sent on to basic training. It’s a grueling way of life. These days the war has made it tougher. Parents have become a greater hurdle. While many prospects are over eighteen, parents can still have a major influence, and many are resisting their children’s enlistment.

Recruiters facing these hurdles, naturally play up the positives. Even in peacetime, recruiters are far from the most popular characters within the military community. Derogatory comments and exaggerated horror stories abound. While outright lying is rare, recruiters are masters of the positive spin. Thus it has ever been.

Parental resistance and consistent shortfalls in recruiting goals indicate that America’s young men and women are not nearly as gullible as Mr. Herbert would have you believe. The hesitancy to enlist is an obvious side effect of the war. It is the goals of recruiters to show why military life can still be an attractive option despite the risks. And certainly young people risk their lives often enough in causes less worthy then national security.

Mr. Herbert reveals his real agenda near the end of his article:

“Stop unnecessary wars or restore the draft.”

Why not just write a piece about why he thinks that our current fights are unnecessary? The draft is a non-starter and he knows it. This military is based on the quality of soldiering that results voluntary enlistments. Mr. Herbert would assuredly be among the forefront of protesters against the draft.

Leftist are constantly waving that red flag. Why? Because they know a draft would enhance their image and stature. Even recent rumors of a new draft, engineered from the left, fueled fears and increased the amount of irrational discourse on the war.

As to the non-“necessity” of the war? With Afghanistan, as they say, that dog won’t hunt. Iraq? Maybe back in 2002 there was a rational position against the war in Iraq. But that argument was lost by the left. We went to war in Iraq. And now we are faced with the consequences. That means defeating the insurgency plain and simple.

To do that we need quality troops, so recruiters, must go on recruiting. They will continue to pitch the best parts of their product, like all salesmen. Young Americans hear enough negatives about the military from the mainstream media, from the left, from academia and seemingly from their parents these days. It seems fair that the Army’s only representative in their life gets to focus on the positive

Just so you know Mr. Herbert: In today’s Army all recruits are tested for minimum intelligence standards and screened for drugs. That should serve to keep out those who do not understand that the nation is at war.


Sunday, August 21, 2005

Another Soldier's Thoughts!

Another Soldier wrote this piece. Her essay is worth reading, try it at:

Who's Justice are we talking?

I’m loath to name names, for fear of giving further attention to the unworthy. Besides you’ll know who I mean. THEY have spent the last few weeks asserting that this is an unjust war, as if by saying the phrase, the proposition thus becomes true. But one wonders on what grounds they are claiming this. Legally unjust? Morally unjust? To whom? Saddam Hussein? Baath party members?

If by unjust they mean Illegal, they have some explaining to do. The war was certainly legal under US law, Congress authorized the use of force. While Kofi Annan chooses to classify the war as illegal under international law, this is a not only a dubious and untested proposition, it is simply wrong.

Under a series of UN Security Council resolutions dating back to number 661 in 1990, through 1441 in 2002 force was “legally” authorized by the UN to enforce Iraqi compliance. In 2003 Sophists on the Security Council sought to appease the sensibilities of the French party. Though not including specific language on use of force in 1441, the document offered a last chance for Iraqi compliance. When Iraq failed to meet that window of compliance by early 2003, use of force became legal under terms implicit in resolution 1441, and explicit in many of the earlier documents.

Additionally, under conventions of international law, armed forceful intervention is not only legal, but required when it can prevent various crimes against humanity such as genocide. These certainly occurred in Iraq. I personally patrolled the streets of Ad Dujail, site of the 1982 revenge murders of 150 men, which stand as the initial indictment against Saddam Hussein in his coming trial.

I’ve met many surviving victims of this local holocaust, which was hardly limited to those 150 easily documented homicides. Retributions against this Shiite city lasted for years. They included economic warfare; farms were razed and property re-assigned to loyal Sunni Baathists and the crossroads city was removed from official maps. Revenge rapes, murders and mutilations continued well into the 1990s.

This single instance in the pattern of regime crimes crushes the argument that this war is unjust on moral grounds, unless one can somehow stretches ones mind around the idea that Saddam’s crimes were justified. His crimes include the Ad Dujail murders, the gassing of the Kurds, the Iraqi parliament murders of 1979, the suppression of the Southern Shiites in 1991, and the dispossession of the Marsh Arabs to name just a few. How was it unjust to dismantle this regime and bring its leaders to trial for these acts? The injustice was the long, perhaps at times necessary, toleration of this regime.

Some of those who call this an unjust war have taken to expressing support for our enemies, the insurgents. Having had personal experiences in which some of these insurgents tried to kill me I am stunned by this. It is amazing that our homegrown radicals can stand by a grieving mother, blaming our president for that son’s death while expressing support for the very men who murdered him.

Like their Vietnam era antecedents, their heroes, these desperately mis-guided Americans see our enemies as some kind of freedom fighters. Look at all the freedom Ho Chi Minh and General Giap brought to Vietnam. But believe me, there are real Iraqi freedom fighters. They are just on our side.

Lt Quays Wadi Hussein was accidentally killed in a friendly fire incident, February of this year. Lt Quays was a young professional officer in the commandos under Saddam, but he saw the opportunity for liberty in the new Iraq. He volunteered for the Iraqi Civil Defense Corp as a jundi or private. By the time of the Transfer of Sovereignty he was a company leader in the renamed Iraqi National Guard. He died in the service of his nation, while trying to defeat the reactionary forces of oppression.

Haji Ali al Kazrahji was the retired commandant of Saddam Hussein’s police academy and an important tribal leader in the Sunni Trinagle when the war began. Despite his rank under Saddam he was an eloquent and committed advocate of democracy. He served as the first post-war police chief of Ad Dujail and then as the city’s representative in the provincial government. While on his way to Tikrit in January, he was assassinated by insurgents, for his continued support of coalition efforts in building a working Iraqi democracy.

The left seems to be basing its assertion of unjust on the mere existence of insurgency. All insurgencies are not legitimate expressions of popular national will however. This one consists of less then a single percentage point of Iraq's populace, a far cry from the 33% who voted in Januaries elections. And the mere existence of resistance does not negate the rightness of a democratic cause.

Were we initially welcomed in post war Germany or Japan? Were Union soldiers seen as liberators by southerners? Sometimes a political culture is so corrupt, or to use the president’s word, evil, that a change is required, and only the most absurd application of relativism can make it seem otherwise.

The problem with our left wing critics, is that they can’t see anything worth fighting or dying for, therefore they have no rational way to pick sides in a fight between good and evil.