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"Desert Scorpion" (Posted June 30, 2003)

We are sweeping Sunni areas in Iraq for Baathists:

American forces carried out an aggressive series of predawn raids across central Iraq today, aiming to root out groups that have been attacking American and British soldiers and to project an intimidating display of power.

Carried out by the Army's Fourth Infantry Division and Task Force Ironhorse, the raids involved thousands of soldiers and hundreds of tanks and armored vehicles. Army officials arrested more than 60 people, and seized several caches of weapons and documents.

Notice how the offensive sweeps are targeted and police-like (albeit with tanks in support). This is no blundering about using firepower. Those peddling quagmire already (again) can breathe easier for now—no search and destroy mission here. This can help win the post-war phase by tracking the killers without trashing and killing the countryside. It's a tough job as it is. Why pretend its harder?

"Liberia" (Posted June 30, 2003)

So Kofi Annan wants America to intervene in Liberia:

U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan kept up pressure on the United States to lead intervention in Liberia Monday as troops strengthened defenses around battle-worn Monrovia in fear of another bloody rebel attack.

West African countries pledged troops for a peacekeeping force Sunday, but they want help from the United States to prevent a bloodbath in the capital and end nearly 14 years of violence that have infected the impoverished region.

"There are lots of expectations that the United States will be able to lead the force," Annan told reporters in Geneva. "But that is a sovereign decision for them to take."

So how imminent is the Liberian threat? And is Liberia really a threat to its neighbors? Lord knows they have no nukes so there is no other reason to intervene. I mean, if we intervene here shouldn't we intervene everywhere? Besides, I thought we had to solve the Congo problem first. And why don't we let the Liberians solve this problem themselves rather than impose a Western solution? Otherwise the African street might rise up against us.

So let's all remember what should be the beginning of every conversation about Liberia, borrowed from the anti-war side in the Iraq debate: "Sure, Liberia is a horrible place, but…[insert anti-intervention reason here]."

I'm at least glad Annan admits that intervening is a "sovereign decision" for the United States to make.

Honestly, don't we have enough problems without a peacekeeping mission in some backwater?

"Reconstituted Lies About Reconstituting WMD" (Posted June 30, 2003)

A nice defense of the "Cheney Lied" charge (based on a statement made in a Meet the Press interview) by the anti-war types:

If people actually looked at the entire transcript — or even searched for the word "nuclear" — they'd see that throughout the interview, Cheney was acknowledging that Saddam didn't yet have nuclear weapons ("Done absolutely everything he could to try to acquire that capability," "trying once again to produce nuclear weapons," "his pursuit of nuclear weapons," and especially "only a matter of time until he acquires nuclear weapons.")

What's more, the quote about "pursuit of nuclear weapons" comes immediately before the question in reply to which Cheney mentioned "reconstituted nuclear weapons." The one quote that people seize on must surely be Cheney misspeaking, not trying "to mislead the American public" or "reckless[ly] exaggerat[ing]."

Cheney is no fool; he wouldn't acknowledge several times in one interview that Saddam didn't yet have nuclear weapons, and then try to contradict himself right there. Rather, he must have made a slip of the sort that people often make when they're in an extemporaneous conversation. And this explains, I suspect, why Rumsfeld didn't think that Cheney said Saddam had nuclear weapons: Rumsfeld must know that Cheney doesn't believe such a thing, and that Cheney wouldn't intentionally say it.

I really am shocked that this is a staple of those still fighting the Iraq War debate. Those repeatedly making the Cheney-lied charge are themselves at worst lying through their teeth to suggest that this was anything but a slip of the tongue. For those convinced of the massive scale of the administration's deceit in tricking us into war, relying on such a false "smoking gun" is outrageous. And I bet very few will stop using the quote when they (if they) read the context. That would be twisting the record to further a partisan point, wouldn't it? Speaking of WMD…

A former inspector, Rolf Ekeus, weighs in on the WMD question. He answers a question I had on the lifespan of Iraqi chemical weapons. I suspected this was true but did not know for sure. According to him, it made no sense for the Iraqis to store chemical weapons:

During its war against Iran, Iraq found that chemical warfare agents, especially nerve agents such as sarin, soman, tabun and later VX, deteriorated after just a couple of weeks' storage in drums or in filled chemical warfare munitions. The reason was that the Iraqi chemists, lacking access to high-quality laboratory and production equipment, were unable to make the agents pure enough. (UNSCOM found in 1991 that the large quantities of nerve agents discovered in storage in Iraq had lost most of their lethal property and were not suitable for warfare.)

Thus the Iraqi policy after the Gulf War was to halt all production of warfare agents and to focus on design and engineering, with the purpose of activating production and shipping of warfare agents and munitions directly to the battlefield in the event of war. Many hundreds of chemical engineers and production and process engineers worked to develop nerve agents, especially VX, with the primary task being to stabilize the warfare agents in order to optimize a lasting lethal property. Such work could be blended into ordinary civilian production facilities and activities, e.g., for agricultural purposes, where batches of nerve agents could be produced during short interruptions of the production of ordinary chemicals.

This combination of researchers, engineers, know-how, precursors, batch production techniques and testing is what constituted Iraq's chemical threat -- its chemical weapon. The rather bizarre political focus on the search for rusting drums and pieces of munitions containing low-quality chemicals has tended to distort the important question of WMD in Iraq and exposed the American and British administrations to unjustified criticism.

He has other interesting suggestions—such as that Saddam wanted WMD for regional domination and not for use against us. This confirms his threat to the region if one still needs convincing. (This has the bonus of making the defeat of Saddam a good reason for Iran to abandon nuclear ambitions should non-nutcases take over the government) But I don't know why wanting WMD to browbeat neighbors and deterring US action are incompatible goals. Everybody says Third World nutballs want nukes to deter us, after all.

We will find the programs. Regime change—not fruitless inspections—was the only way to stop Saddam from getting and using—again—these weapons.

"No Evidence They Are Aware Of" (Posted June 27, 2003)

This is what the article headline says:

U.N. Terror Committee Finds No Evidence Linking Iraq to Al Qaeda

I know what you are thinking: "Aha! the best minds at the UN have spent these past months poring over captured Iraqi documents and have declared the link to be a lie!" What the article actually says is that nobody brought the UN committee any evidence to show it:

"Nothing has come to our notice that would indicate links between Iraq and Al Qaeda," said Michael Chandler, the committee's chief investigator.

The committee first heard of alleged ties during Secretary of State Colin Powell's February presentation to the Security Council ahead of the Iraq war.

"It had never come to our knowledge before Powell's speech and we never received any information from the United States for us to even follow-up on," said Abaza Hassan, a committee investigator.

They "never received any information"! Even worse, despite the headline, is this committee admission:

But the committee saw no need to investigate Zarqawi's movements and deliberately stayed away from investigating Iraq. "There are other committees in the United Nations that deal with Iraq," Chandler said. "We have concentrated our efforts where clearly Al Qaeda was active."

This far different from what the headline implies, now isn't it? The committee didn't investigate and didn't even consider Iraq to be an area of their concern, yet they assert no link anyway. Why didn't they opine on global warming? Or the price of natural gas? Or EU agricultural subsidies? Or any number of other subject about which they know nothing and have not investigated?

Well, I have received no information to back the assertion that the UN is composed of sentient humans. And since this really isn't my line of work, I'm not going to look into it. Nonetheless, I can safely assert that, "The UN is staffed by blithering idiots who'd eat kittens if paid a Euro." Send me information to the contrary if you get a chance.

As the US said:

U.S. diplomats said Powell had laid out all the evidence to the council.

"We know that Iraq provided some training to Al Qaeda in chemical weapons development and we also know there were clear contacts between them that can be documented," said Richard Grenell, spokesman for the U.S. mission here.

I'd say that's evidence of a link. Sadly, this headline, without admitting the actual content of the story, will be used by opponents of the war to slam the war effort. All from a sloppy headline. Oh, and a willingness—nay, eagerness—to believe we lied to go to war.

"Post-War Iraq" (Posted June 27, 2003)

A good article by Keegan on order in Iraq. (Keegan is good, but I will never understand why he insisted in one article I read that the Iraqis should have put their Republican Guards on the front line with the regulars in reserve to assist the Guards. That is so backwards that I cannot comprehend why he stated that before. When the best troops break and run, the lesser troops will not ride to their rescue. When crud breaks—and hopefully attrites and tires the attackers at least a bit—better troops will still fight.) Anyway, he summarizes by advocating Iraqi security forces to take over vulnerable security functions:

A better solution is that of recreating an Iraqi national army, as the British did in the 1920s. There is plenty of raw material -- the 200,000 unemployed soldiers at present not under orders and only erratically paid. Their discontent is fuelling the disorder.

It must be a matter of priority to enlist as many as possible, give them Western training and use them to replace the American and British soldiers patrolling the cities and countryside. That program will take several years until it is completed. Casualties among the Western occupation forces will, meanwhile, continue. has a good take on the situation, too:

The battle against Baath will go on until Baath runs out of activists and money. This could take a while, for Baath had over a hundreds thousand core members. Most of these were opportunists, willing to serve Baath for a price. But at its core, Baath was run by some ruthless men who killed on a large scale to sustain their power. They are still willing to kill, and terrorize Iraqis into supporting them, and are expert at playing the media. The opposition is staffed by former members of Saddam's secret police, Republican Guard and Baath party leadership. These are the men who committed uncounted atrocities against the Iraqi people for two generations. Iraq won't be at peace until these butchers are out of business.

Yes, we are battling ruthless thugs who play for keeps, but I think Keegan is at the pessimistic end. (And note that the key to winning is getting our troops off the front lines. What are some experts saying we should do in Afghanistan? Why yes, they say put our troops out there on the firing line!) It will take years to create the force as he says, but I think if we do this right (targeted—not blanket security measures that antagonize the people), our casualties will diminish to police-level rates. It all depends on the amount of activists and money (and guns). Getting Saddam is still important.

"Obsolete Mission" (Posted June 27, 2003)

If you want confirmation of the usefulness of our "tripwire" presence on the DMZ in Korea, here it is:

North Korea's Rodong Sinmun, the official mouthpiece of the ruling party, said the long-term redeployment plan was "a very dangerous military move which should not be overlooked".

"The U.S. imperialists are applying a war method based on high-tech with main emphasis put on missile strikes and air raids rather than land attack in carrying out their war of overseas aggression," it said.

They have a point, of course. It does free us up a bit. But not a free hand by any means since Seoul is still held hostage. And that doesn't mean we should accept the status quo where 2nd ID is essentially held hostage by the North Koreans.

Pull our ground troops south. If the North Koreans are going to believe we are always on the verge of attacking (and they say this even now with our troops on the border), we might as well have the capability to match their paranoia. Otherwise we get the worst of both worlds: their paranoia and our vulnerability.

With any luck, somebody in the North is going to notice that nuclear weapons are bringing vulnerability and not security to the regime.

"Victory Questioned" (Posted June 27, 2003)

Some experts are questioning our military victory over Saddam's regime:

The wave of more sophisticated attacks on U.S. troops and civilian occupation forces in Iraq is raising new worries among military experts that the 21-day war that ended in April was an incomplete victory that defeated Saddam Hussein's military but not his Baath political party

Excuse me, but this is just silly.

Yes, attacks on US forces must be stopped. But when we were prepared to take hundreds of casualties if urban fighting had been tough or Saddam had used chemicals, losing 2 or 3 to hostile fire a week is hardly a crisis. The need to de-Baathify Iraq has always been obvious to me. These attacks drive this point home. But what "experts" thought the party people would be destroyed in the war? The victory was not incomplete because the Baathists weren't all killed in combat. This is because they weren't the fighters. Getting rid of the Baathists is a post-war task. Lordy, the Soviet Union spent a good decade stamping out Ukrainian armed resistance after they expelled the Nazis!

Honest to God, some people will shriek and jump on a chair over anything. This isn't a game where we capture the flag in Baghdad and the other team says, "Good game, lads! Let's go home!" When the experts can question whether our recent victory was actually a victory, they need to get a grip on reality. There will be a gap between the time the statues of Saddam came down and the first Old Navy store opens in a Basra strip mall.

Although some predict escalating violence and resistance on a scale that could drive us out of Iraq, I think this is way too pessimistic:

Wolfowitz said the Iraqi opposition is doomed because it is operating without two essential forms of support. "They lack the sympathy of the population, and they lack any serious external support," he said. "Basically, they're on their own."

Remember, most rebellions fail. And though money and arms are plentiful in Iraq right now, they won't get much more. They are on their own. All they have to sustain them is the knowledge that their days of brutalizing Iraqi society for fun and profit are over, and they miss it tremendously. And the death or capture of Saddam will deflate the Sunni loyalists and inspire his former victims. This is a society beaten down by more than twenty years of war, hardship, and oppression. Most Iraqis, probably 80-90%, want the attackers to fail, for us to succeed, and then to get on with their lives in a normal country. Even the old Baathists will eventually decide making a new life beats the fighting.

We have work to do. It is certainly appropriate to question our policies and adjust our policies based on our experience. But the credibility of the rampant defeatism among many who criticize the very low level fighting going on is undermined by the doom these same critics predicted before the Iraq War. And before Afghanistan. Give us time to train Iraqi security people and in time they will carry the brunt of the fighting with our help. Then an Iraqi government will have the incentive to suppress the old Baathists to preserve their authority and life.

Put away the white flags, people. They'll get their strip malls eventually.

"A-10 Lives On" (Posted June 26, 2003)

I had earlier written about my worries that the A-10 Warthog (officially Thunderbolt II) would be mothballed. Apparently not according to Defense News cited on

The Air Force plans to keep the A-10 Thunderbolt II flying until 2028, said the general who was alleged recently to have ordered a subordinate to research how the service could justify mothballing the fleet of 363 ground-attack aircraft

Although it is not going to happen and the Air Force denies plans to explore ditching the plane, the larger truth is that the Air Force institutionally prefers to fly its own war and not support the ground forces. Not that they didn't do a tremendous job in Afghanistan and Iraq, but their hearts tug them to independent air campaigns and air superiority. They need continual reminders about how wars are won. Air power has such an important role in this that I don't understand why they want to have the only role.

But the important thing is that the A-10 lives! Hooah!

"The Right to Complain" (Posted June 26, 2003)

We are a democracy and exercise our God-given right to complain all the time. God knows I do.

But how can I take the "Bush lied" people seriously? Such opponents of fighting the war on terror have already displayed inconsistencies when they demand to know why the administration failed to "connect the dots" with pre-9-11 intelligence and simultaneously demand to know why we were wrong about Saddam having chemical weapons in firing condition—that we connected the dots that everybody agreed on before the war.

Now, these keen thinkers are upset that American troops aren't patrolling Afghanistan in large numbers to crush warlords opposed to the central government. They are also equally upset that we have troops in large numbers patrolling in Iraq where they are subject to ambushes. From Iraq, they say we should withdraw immediately. Wow. The mental agility required to hold such positions must be taught at Renaissance weekends or something. No doubt, if we poured troops into Afghanistan and started suffering casualties regularly, they'd be out with their hand puppets demanding we get out.

But to be fair, MoveOn-niks probably just want us to withdraw from Iraq immediately so we won't discover more of Saddam's WMD programs. A scientist led us to buried equipment and blueprints for Saddam's nuclear goal. Gosh! Who'd of thunk it? They hid stuff! And we've found more interesting material:

One of the documents, from 2001, was titled “Document burial and U.N. activities in Iraq,” the sources said. It gave detailed instructions on how to hide materials and deceive U.N. weapons inspectors, the sources said.

Gosh, the Iraqis would hide stuff? They'd deceive the UN? I must have missed that part of their complete declaration to Blix.

Iraq was a threat to us and the region, a monster, and devoted to getting (and using again) WMD:

U.S. officials said the discoveries did not constitute final proof that Saddam had rebuilt his banned weapons program, as administration officials alleged in justifying the invasion of Iraq. But they said the materials were the best evidence so far that the Iraqi government could have done so and was actively trying to deceive U.N. inspectors before the war.

.The war was right. We stopped a threat to the region. We ended his torture. And we did prevent Saddam from getting nukes, bugs, and all the gas he wanted. Or are the opponents of war going to argue on what the meaning of the word "is" is? Will they really say that having plans, raw materials, scientists, and technicians ready to go as soon as the international community was dragged away by the French doesn't count as a program?

And we haven't even been searching for very long. Far less than the years the opponents of war were willing to give to easily fooled UN inspectors. Clearly, more people with knowledge need to lose their fear that Saddam (get Saddam!) will return and that we will run, leaving the Iraqis to the tender mercies of the Baathists.

I eagerly await more news. When this is nailed down, the opponents will continue to debate the war and complain. I'm almost giddy trying to anticipate the next "failure" of US anti-terrorism policy they will bray about. No doubt, another terror attack on our shores will cause them to say Ashcroft hasn't done enough. And in the next breath complain about "rampant" violations of our civil liberties, of course.

Wage the war. Kill our enemies.

"Another Unseen Front" (Posted June 25, 2003)

Our defense industrial base has deteriorated during the 1990s procurement "holiday" in which few weapons were built. We got by because our armed forces shrank in size, allowing us to use the excess weapons meant for a larger military. The problem:

The defense cuts of the 1990s, a dismal era which HASC chairman Duncan Hunter (R., Calif.) calls "the procurement holiday" devastated many of the industries that supply the U.S. military. Many firms dropped out the business of building parts for weapons systems due to lack of work. Many were bought up by foreign interests who wanted U.S. technology and know-how to add to their own industrial capabilities in competition with the surviving American firms. Though the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS) is supposed to police the loss of American defense-related firms to overseas takeovers, it rarely intervenes. Though charged with protecting national security, CFIUS is chaired by the treasury — and the treasury's top concern is attracting back to American shores the dollars lost due to the nation's massive trade deficit. If foreigners won't buy American products, they will be offered American companies to purchase.

Congress must approve a House Armed Services Committee proposal to rebuild our industrial infrastructure to keep key industries in American hands. We know that even our allies are not always reliable partners. Another unseen part of the war on terror.

"Bin Laden" (Posted June 25, 2003)

Bin Laden is probably somewhere in Pakistan. We want bin Laden. The Pakistanis need our aid. Some aid is forthcoming:

But in a lengthy meeting today with Pakistan's president, Gen. Pervez Musharraf, here at the presidential retreat in the Maryland mountains, Mr. Bush said he would not provide the F-16 fighters that Pakistan has sought for 14 years. A senior administration official said that Mr. Bush had made clear that the new package of aid was dependent on continued cooperation in battling terrorism and a permanent end to assisting the North Korean nuclear program.

I imagine bin Laden's head on a stick is the price for getting the F-16s rolling to Pakistan. But we can't stiff Musharraf. Pakistan is too delicate:

"It's the country that worries us the most," one official said in an interview last week, "because it's the only nuclear power in danger of falling into the wrong hands."

Of course, this ignores North Korea, China, and even France—which has volunteered for Islamist vassal status, apparently.

But back on point, somebody in Pakistan knows where bin Laden is. More unseen activity, as the war on terror demands.

"Interesting" (Posted June 25, 2003)

We may not have gotten any of Saddam's family in that strike from last week at Muger Addib near the Syrian border, but something is going on:

At dusk today, a convoy of more than 20 military transports arrived with earth-moving equipment and pulled into the circle of Bradley fighting vehicles that guard every approach to this sandy knoll littered with broken masonry and bomb-damaged homes.

A lot is going on unseen as reporters focus on the attacks on American forces. This unseen work will be what wins this post-war phase. It will be what convinces those who still fear Saddam's return that this will not happen and that it is not only safe to cooperate with us but wise for their future. This is already happening but it is not locked down yet.

"Our Friends the French—Again" (Posted June 25, 2003

It seems the French are letting Hamas raise funds in France and are blocking the EU from taking any steps to do so:

State Department and White House sources tell TIME the U.S. has lodged complaints that Paris is turning a blind eye to fund raising in France by front organizations for Hamas, the terrorist group that has claimed responsibility for most of the recent wave of suicide attacks. The U.S. also claims France is blocking European Union efforts to restrict these front groups elsewhere.

The French have been in bed with the Islamist terrorists for a long time now. Since the Iraq debate at the UN, however, it has become too obvious to ignore. Why France is still in NATO is beyond me. Freeze the duplicitous SOBs out of NATO. Cut them off completely. If they want to join some Islamic League where they feel their true friends are, so be it. I imagine there will be no more American military cemeteries in France. Let the Belgians rescue Paris when the French government-supported Islamists are torching the Louvre.

"Anti-Americanism" (Posted June 24, 2003)

A genealogy of Anti-Americanism by James Ceaser is interesting. It helps to dispel the ridiculous notion that if only we had a nice, ineffective president, who said kind things about the UN and France, then all would be well in trans-Atlantic—or world relations.

Although anti-Americanism is a construct of European thought, it would be an error to suppose that it has remained confined to its birthplace. On the contrary, over the last century anti-Americanism has spread out over much of the globe, helping, for example, to shape opinion in pre-World War II Japan, where many in the elite had studied German philosophy, and to influence thinking in Latin American and African countries today, where French philosophy carries so much weight. Its influence has been considerable within the Arab world as well. Recent accounts of the intellectual origins of contemporary radical Islamic movements have demonstrated that their views of the West and America by no means derive exclusively from indigenous sources, but have been largely drawn from various currents of Western philosophy. Western thought is at least in part responsible for the innumerable fatwahs and the countless jihads that have been pronounced against the West. What has been attributed to a "clash of civilizations" has sometimes been no more than a facet of internecine intellectual warfare, conducted with the assistance of mercenary forces recruited from other cultures. It is vitally important that we understand the complex intellectual lineage behind anti-Americanism. Our aim should be to undo the damage it has wrought, while not using it as an excuse to shield this country from all criticism.

This reflex in the world was not based on the 2000 elections, or our response to 9-11, but to an enduring bias against what we stand for. The thoughts and quotes discussed in the article from decades and even centuries ago still sound like they come from foreigners and their fifth column of supporters over here.

Do we deserve criticism on occasion? Should we try to undo anti-Americanism? Sure. But we should not succumb to the siren song that says all will be well if we just halt our policies that enrage the world. If we wore berets, prayed to Mecca, disarmed, and took everything but PBS and NPR off the air waves, the attitude would persist. We are powerful and we are Americans. Those two facts—especially fused—will inspire resentment and hatred regardless of what we do.

The childishness of this anti-American attitude reminds me of the poll on foreign attitudes of America. Amusingly enough they want our economic opportunities and technological/scientific innovations but not our economic system! How do they think we acquired prosperity and technology? They want the fruits of hard work yet still think they have a God-given right (if they still believed in God, of course) to 6 weeks at the beach at public expense. They act, in short, like moody teenagers who want all the latest stuff but are horrified that mom and dad suggest they get a job. And mom and dad, who pay for their stuff, are just "stupid" and don't understand the perfect little safe cocoon they have built in the EU-land.

"Back Iranian Democracy" (Posted June 23, 2003)

Ledeen, as he has, advocates supporting the protesters in Iran. The protests and crackdown are continuing against the mullahs. Of most interest is his taking on of those who say our support would undermine the rebels—that they must succeed without any outside aid (or perhaps just without our uniquely tainted support):

Support for democratic revolution comes naturally to Americans, and we all thrill at the spectacle of brave people challenging corrupt tyrants in the name of freedom. Yet a surprising number of commentators and policymakers are fighting against the prospect of open American support for the Iranian revolutionaries. Their most recent argument is that open approval and, worse still, modest material support from the United States would somehow tarnish the purity of the Iranian uprising and even prove counterproductive.

This sort of argument is not new; we have heard it whenever we have had a president brave enough to speak the truth to tyranny. We were told that it would be counterproductive to denounce the gulag system and support the Soviet dissidents, that the Jackson-Vanik law (linking trade with the Soviet Union to freedom to emigrate for Soviet Jews) would be counterproductive, and that we must at all costs refrain from calling for greater human rights in the People's Republic of China. Yet every time another tyrant falls, his surviving victims invariably tell us that our words of support gave hope and strength to the freedom fighters and weakened the resolve of their oppressors. Bukovsky, Sharansky, Ginsburg, Walesa and Havel know the power of American support, as do Gorbachev, Jaruzelski, Milosevic and Marcos.

Crafty silence is simply another way to appease tyranny, and a tactical retreat in our life-and-death war against the terror masters. Those who are fighting against support for the Iranian revolutionaries have it exactly backward. The silence they advocate would be a demoralizing blow to the Iranian people, and to our democratic soul. President Bush has advanced our interests and our honor by condemning the wicked regime in Tehran and hailing the courage and sacrifice of the Iranian freedom fighters. His critics in and outside the government should be ashamed of their cowardice and betrayal of our best instincts and traditions.

Moral support is the easy part. We should also assist with communications and other support to bolster the democratic elements seeking to bring down the mullahs. And with revolution in the air, any thought of short-term threats to use the former Saddam-backed Iranian rebels in Iraq should be ended. There was use in threatening the mullahs to get them to back off from Iraq but when the issue is the fate of Iran, we cannot be seen standing with the MeK. We must seek ways to convince the security forces from standing down or siding with the people. The imported Islamist bully boys will kill for the mullahs, but the regular military and even the Pasdaran (Revolutionary Guards) may balk at killing Iranians.

But what do we do when the serious revolt occurs and the mullahs shoot to kill? A successful campaign of repression will solidify the mullahs for a generation, perhaps. Without a doubt the mullahs will have their nuclear bomb. Would we stand aside as in 1991? We could not. Air power and special forces could be enough to stomp forces that side with the mullahs and tip the balance. We could keep Iranian air power off the rebels. We may also be able to smash the nuclear program facilities at least, in the chaos, providing some benefit even if the mullahs win the showdown. The mullahs hate us already, so why not?

The big question is do we intervene with ground forces if the mullahs seem to be winning. In this case, I say no. The Iranians have rallied to repel invaders despite internal differences before. Besides, we'd have a division of Marines and maybe a brigade of Army armor that we could quickly wheel around from Iraq and send into Iran. That's not very much. We might end up reinforcing failure, since by the time we decide we need to intervene with ground forces, it may all be over. This could move very quickly and only the Iranians themselves, our air power, and special forces/intel people will be able to fight the critical battles to topple the regime.

I do not think we will look away when the people rise up.

"This Law Does What?!" (Posted June 20, 2003)

The foreign minister of Belgium is being charged under that country's law that allows anybody anywhere in the world to be tried for war crimes:

A small opposition party said it had filed a suit against Foreign Minister Louis Michel for authorizing a Belgian company to sell arms to Nepal. The New Flemish Alliance, a nationalist party from Belgium's Dutch-speaking north, alleged the sale made Michel an accomplice in human rights abuses by the Nepalese armed forces

Michel is outraged. Said the article about the minister's reaction:

Michel, an outspoken critic of the U.S.-led war in Iraq, was furious about the allegations against him.

"This is extremely irresponsible. It's completely crazy and irrational," Michel told reporters at a European summit in Greece.

"It will ridicule Belgium on the world stage ... I'm accusing them of blackening our name."

These are sad days indeed when being against the American-led war against Saddam doesn't shield you from the wrath of the self-proclaimed pure of heart.

Couldn't have happened to a nicer minister.

"Progress" (Posted June 20, 2003)

Hanson of course has an excellent piece on why we should be optimistic rather than pessimistic about our war on terror:

[F]or all the doom and gloom we are making amazing progress. If on the evening of September 11th, an outside observer had predicted that the following would transpire in two years, he would have been considered unhinged: Saddam Hussein gone with the wind; democratic birth pangs in Iraq; the Taliban finished and Mr. Karzai attempting to create constitutional government; Yasser Arafat ostracized by the American government and lord of a dilapidated compound; bin Laden either dead or leading a troglodyte existence; all troops slated to leave Saudi Arabia — and by our own volition, not theirs; Iran and Syria apprehensive rather than boastful about their own promotion of terror; and the Middle East worried that the United States is both unpredictable in its righteous anger and masterful in its use of arms, rather than customarily irresolute and reactive.

The press may only notice the problems when the trends are positive, but that doesn't make them right. Indeed, read Steyn for a complaint by Care International alleging that the situation in Iraq is getting worse and that the UN must be given a chance to solve the mess America has made. The specific complaint was about raw sewage discharged into the waters and electrical power. Unfortunately for their credibility, the same organization used the same stats back in January when they complained that the UN sanctions—as opposed to Saddam's willful diverting of plentiful funds—as causing the disaster.


The record of these critics in being wrong should comfort us all as we press forward to victory. After all, in their "sophisticated" criticism of a morally equivalent America containing and fighting the Soviet empire, they wanted to co-exist right up until the Soviets collapsed. Good thing we didn't listen to the critics of standing up to the gulag-masters of Moscow. Man, and Blair and Bush are being accused of twisting facts to suit their policy goals? That's nerve. I won't start listening to them now.

Iran is now in our cross hairs. Even the Europeans and UN agree that Iran's nuke program is unacceptable. One of the things I appreciate about this administration is that it knows we are at war and refuses to stop after one or two victories to bask in the glow of a false peace. In reality, we would only be giving our enemies a chance to regroup and strike us again. Sure, the President could probably get through the next election cycle by doing no more and escape the appeasers' charges of war mongering and militarism, but he will not abdicate his responsibility for the accolades of the professional surrendering class. And we will ultimately be safer for it.

We must help the Iranian protesters as much we can. I don't think we have the horses to use the military option like in Iraq or Afghanistan. Although air power and special forces could bolster military units that oppose the regime, I think our Army is stretched enough from the Balkans to Iraq to Afghanistan and watching the nutso regime in Pyongyang, too. But we have genuine Iranian anger at the mullahs in Iran and genuine admiration for America there to leverage. I simply do not understand why the people who protested war against Saddam are now getting all panicky that we might support the protesters. Didn't the opponents start all of their statements with "Yes, Saddam is evil, but…" and then conclude by saying the Iraqi people themselves should solve the Iraqi problem without our interference? Well, a few words of support for their right to freely protest and warnings that nukes are not acceptable are hardly imperialism. Shoot, I think the permanent anti-war coalition already has plenty of "NO NUKES!" and "FREE SPEECH NOW!" placards stockpiled. Throw in some bongos and hand puppets and the revolution is on.

And if the Iranian students fail? At some point we will have to take out the mullahs' nuclear installations. We may not be able to nail bio and chemical facilities, but the nuclear facilities are a lot harder to hide. We simply cannot have Iran's mullahs with nuclear weapons. Cannot.

We are winning this war, people. Try not to be too depressed about it.

"Diplomacy" (Posted June 19, 2003)

Hoagland puts well what I had posted earlier about speaking softly and carrying a big stick.

Armed force, however, is not a self-fulfilling policy. It must be accompanied, guided and eventually tempered by effective diplomacy. American strength alone cannot impose a durable international imbalance-of-power system.

This is no appeal for multilateralism or the more aggressive French variant, multipolarity. These have become code words for systematically restraining American power, a goal that will not bring global stability or spread freedom and prosperity. Such options are no more meaningful than are dreams of empire at the other end of the political spectrum.

Ultimately, massive military power must be coupled to a set of values, precepts and understandings to which other democratic nations can plausibly subscribe -- even if they do not uphold every one of those values every day or join every campaign.

A great power may legitimately refuse to be bound by the ambitions or needs of its friends. But it will almost always be wise for that power to make it possible for those friends and for others to claim plausibly that they too count, even as they lose the argument. That is the essence of diplomacy.

We are the most powerful nation on the planet for now. We are not more powerful than the rest of the planet. That is a difference that is all too often forgotten. And even if we were the latter, would we really want to pay the price in lives and treasure to go it alone? And if we did, how long would we be the most powerful nation on the planet?

Be ruthless with our enemies, without a doubt; but court our friends and neutrals, too. Politeness counts. Even with the French.

"Allied Help in Iraq" (Posted June 19, 2003)

Allied help is on the way for stabilizing Iraq. Two multinational divisions (Britain and Poland commanding) will arrive by the end of the summer. A third is probable it seems since Spain has expressed interest in commanding a division. The British will withdraw their division and the US Marines are drawing down their forces in Iraq.

In time, allies, American MPs, and Iraqi troops and police properly trained will take over garrison duties freeing American troops to deal with Saddam holdouts.

"Recipe for Failure" (Posted June 19, 2003)

This report says the Council on Foreign Affairs and the Asia Society want the U.S. more heavily involved in security operations throughout Afghanistan.

Don't even go there.

Afghanistan is not a suburban community yet and I do know that success is precarious there, but count our successes:

Yes, there is some resistance as the defeated Taliban and al Qaeda thugs recover from their crushing defeat. But do we really want to unite the people against us by deploying foreigners throughout the country? Resistance is thus far small scale and our few troops are effectively fighting them without creating lots of targets and inspiring resistance by their mere presence. And the warlords must be brought inside the tent—not crushed. Afghanistan cannot be a unitary state. Local autonomy must be recognized and regularized under peaceful rules and weaned from the gun—not suppressed. We would guarantee resistance just like the Soviets faced as we become perceived as occupiers instead of liberators.

We have much to do in rebuilding the state and creating an effective national army. We must stop the support for the Islamists that comes out of Pakistan. They still find refuge in Pakistan's 'wild west.' We could lose this still, I concede. Yet the CFR/AS proposal seems like a recipe for making Afghanistan worse, very quickly. A little patience please.

"This Just Sickens Me" (Posted June 19, 2003)

The Saddam regime staged dead baby parades and was the real culprits behind dying babies.

And this part should finally show Saddam as a liar for his pretensions to defending Islam:

Doctors say hospitals were forced to keep the bodies of babies who had died prematurely or of natural causes for up to two months until Saddam had enough to stage a parade of the little corpses, with women bussed in to act as "mourners", screaming insults at the US in front of television cameras.

"All 10 hospitals in Baghdad were involved in this and the quota for the parade was between 25 and 30 babies a month, which they would say had died in one day," Dr Hussein al-Douri, deputy director of the Ibn al-Baladi hospital, told the Telegraph.

Muslims traditionally bury their dead immediately, so keeping the bodies of the babies added to the grief of their parents.

"The mothers would be hysterical and sometimes threaten to kill us," said al-Douri, "but we knew that the real threat was from the government. They would have killed our families."

Such a basic Islamic tradition of burying a dead person immediately was violated for propaganda. The next time you read about some former Baathist Sunnis complaining that our troops enter homes without removing their freaking boots, remember Saddam's compliance. I dare say our "cultural sensitivity" exceeds Saddam's.

The doctors quoted also confessed that they know that Saddam—and not the sanctions—killed those children who did die. They knew the money existed. They knew the regime favorites had all the medicine they needed.

It just depresses me that so many—even here—are so ready to believe the worst about America. So ready, in fact, that even the accusations of a murdering fiend like Saddam are credible to them. How much of this lie did the bought and paid for western news outlets in Iraq know? We know they refused to report much to maintain their precious "access."

I can't even work up outrage right now.

"The Human Shields Went Home Too Early" (Posted June 18, 2003)

In an article about Sunni/foreign jihadist resistance in central Iraq, the article notes:

Additionally, some of the violence has been directed at power plants, water systems and other important services. It bore hallmarks of strategic sabotage rather than common crime, officials said. In one case cited by Collins, attackers entered an electrical plant filled with machinery and knew enough to locate and take away a critical generator.

I know the human shields were so concerned about the welfare of the Iraqi people that they feared we would strike power plants and electrical plants. I mean, it wasn't hatred of America or anything that motivated them, right? So where are they when they are really needed to protect such targets from people actually willing to harm the Iraqi people?

Oh right, they are packing their bags for Iran. Or maybe North Korea.

"Attention Human Shields!" (Posted June 17, 2003)

In response to American efforts to peacefully resolve North Koreas nuclear programs and end their aggressive policies, the North Koreans threaten war on Japan, South Korea, and America:

"There is no guarantee that this blockade will not lead to such a serious condition as a full-scale war," said Rodong [the main state-run newspaper]. "If war breaks out between the North and the United States, it will not be limited to the Korean Peninsula but all the areas where aggressors are lurking will become our targets."

If war is not the answer, would the human shields please show up at South Korean and Japanese power plants and other civilian buildings that the North might strike? Coming after their stunning success in protecting Iraqi orphanages, bunny farms, and hospitals from American bombing, a new glorious mission awaits! A state that insists on threatening war before it has exhausted all—or even any—peaceful methods is on the loose! I don't know how the shields have been able to restrain themselves thus far given the obvious rage they must be feeling.

Gosh, it's not like I'm asking anybody to defend Americans, so this shouldn't violate the Human Shield Code's first rule. Any takers?

[sound of crickets]

"Deadly Cargo" (Posted June 17, 2003)

Another reminder of why we cannot let up in the war on terror. Destroying regimes that can make them more effective is not the only front. Taking out the governments of Afghanistan and Iraq were certainly necessary to combat terrorism, but the terrorists are the ones who do the actual killing.

A Georgia (ex-Soviet republic) taxi driver was nailed for having a deadly cargo:

Cesium and strontium, which have medical and industrial applications, also are considered likely ingredients for a so-called "dirty bomb," in which conventional explosives are combined with radioactive material.

Police also found a dark brown liquid later determined to be nerve gas concentrate.

Even without the resources of a terroristic state, terrorists can gain the means to kill in large numbers and sow fear. And Americans and Belgians and Saudis are all vulnerable. These are the reasons our allies cooperate against terrorists even though they opposed the Afghanistan and/or Iraq campaigns. The scary thing is that the thugs need to succeed only occasionally to sow fear. The task is daunting. Our allies know this.

So to keep governments cooperating in the war on terror, we must heed wise advice to speak softly and carry a big stick. Do what we must quietly while saying the nice words that soothe our allies. After all, the survey of world opinion showed people more torqued at us over style rather than substance. That may not be very sophisticated behavior for such worldly people as they claim to be, but we can sure exploit it.

And speaking of sophisticated thinking, when such horrible weaponry components can be ferried about in a taxi, will those who bemoan our failure to devote more attention to the non-state actor side of the war on terrorism (so they say, anyway) at least consider how that admonition conflicts with their equally heartfelt complaints that we are trampling civil liberties in pursuit of the terrorists? There is a line somewhere in the security/liberty debate that should be our goal. I don't claim to know where it is, and wherever it is it changes over time and by location, but at least admit the conflict.

"Resistance" (Posted June 17, 2003)

Resistance by the privileged oppressors in the Sunni heartland continues at a low level. United States Army forces are working to root them out. It is clear from the casualty reports that the pro-Saddam people are fighting us still. War opponents cite this as evidence that the people oppose us. What rot. We always knew that some Iraqis—namely Sunnis at some percentage—supported Saddam. We are seeing the result of this support linger on. Note that casualties are almost always reported from the central region. Rarely from the northern Kurdish areas or the southern Shia regions where the Marines and British patrol. Even in Shia areas closer to Baghdad, Army casualties are rare.

So have a little patience before you haul out the white flag and surrender to the Baathists. It will take some time before we can organize de-Baathified Iraqi military forces to take on the burden.

"507th's Ordeal" (Posted June 17, 2003)

The Washington Post has a good story on the destruction of the 507th Maintenance Company's column in Nasiriyah. This is the unit PFC Lynch was part of. In many ways it is an ordinary war story, made famous because of the rescue of a small ("waiflike") blonde female American soldier who was captured in the fight. No, she did not blaze away, pulling grenade pins with her teeth and cursing the Iraqis as she lost consciousness. And no, the rescue mission was neither staged nor a Rambo bloodletting. What it was was a minor setback for V Corps as it blitzed north. The fog of war even in the information age led the unit to be unaware of the alternate route they were supposed to take. A unit got lost in a city. It was attacked by Iraqi thugs who violated the laws of war. The American, all rear echelon types, attempted to escape and fought, sometimes bravely, to repel the attackers and save their comrades. In the end, the strung out column of soft vehicles defended largely by small arms, was overrun. Such determination is normal even for our technicians. Equally normal was the Iraqi shooting of prisoners and posing with our dead soldiers smiling proudly for the cameras. Just as normal was the professionalism of the special forces who rescued Lynch without leveling the hospital or harming any of the staff in the process. Sadly, the political attacks, accusing the administration of "lying" over the incident when all it was was inaccurate initial information is also normal.

I suspect the correction of history will not gain much traction since those most likely to complain also liked having the story of a warrior female soldier to support their efforts to open combat slots to women.

"Prisoner" (Posted June 17, 2003)

One man in Iraq hid for 22 years in a space he built between two walls in a home to hide from Saddam's brutality. A self-imposed near-solitary imprisonment to avoid what he feared Saddam would do to him. A tiny story of the fear and depravity of Saddam's rule that is dwarfed by the evil of prisons and mass graves reserved for children. Yet doesn't it tell us volumes about the regime? About our war? It sure should.

Remember, he hid in fear for 22 years. He came out after American soldiers arrived.

"Iran Protests Continue" (Posted June 15, 2003)

The protesters keep coming out and the regime accuses America of orchestrating the attacks.

Wild clashes between students seeking an end to Islamic rule and hard-line vigilantes subsided in Tehran Sunday, but sporadic violence was reported elsewhere in the country with one person being reported killed in a southern city.

Sure, we want them to succeed, but orchestrate? This highlights-as if the recent Iraq War shouldn't have-that in the absence of reality, lies will do for dictatorial regimes (but no, administration critics save their charges of "lies" for our government). Even if we did absolutely nothing, the regime would accuse us of being behind any setbacks.

I find it interesting that the police are protecting the protesting students from pro-regime vigilantes who have been attacking the students. Is this significant? Are the police under orders from the regime to do this for some reason-to keep the violence under control? Or are the police sympathetic to the protesters or at least unwilling to attack the protesters? The Shah fell when his police and military refused to suppress demonstrations. Will the Iranians follow the same path?

If so, we may need to stand ready to send military units in to destroy or secure nuclear materials and labs. Or it may be that a quiet CIA/special ops mission can do the securing. Or maybe the new regime will disarm to reject the mullahs' policies.

July 9th could be a major step toward the downfall of the Iranian dictatorship. And the crippling of Islamofascist terror directed against the United States.

And if Iran goes down, will Pyongyang be scared enough to disarm or attack?

"North Korea Squeezed" (Posted June 12, 2003)

North Korea's rickety economy is being squeezed as our allies shut down troublesome North Korean exports and embark on what could be called "light containment."

The Americans halt shipments of fuel oil to North Korea. The Japanese detain the communist state's cargo ships for inspections. The Australians impound a North Korean ship carrying narcotics.

Fortunately, we don't need to do too much to put North Korea's economy into a tailspin. Unfortunately, we don't know if the NoKos will go irrational and scrap their supposed highest goal of regime survival in favor of going down in a burst of "glory" by attacking South Korea and our forces there.

Formal sanctions could be the Red Line that would prompt an invasion. Quietly done operations like this that do the same thing may not cross that line.

Doing the same old extortion game sure won't do.

"Iranians Gearing Up for July 9th" (Posted June 12, 2003)

Protests in Iran are taking place with the protesters emboldened to harsher words against even the so-called reformers in office:

Two nights of protests by a few thousand people in Tehran hardly constitute a major threat to Iran's clerical rulers but the timing and nature of the demonstrations suggest a bigger storm may be brewing.

Unlike most previous unrest in recent years against Iran's Islamic rulers, this week's protests at Tehran University appear to have been largely spontaneous, with no obvious organisation.

"In the past the demonstrations were more disciplined and had specific demands. This time is more dangerous because it seems to be a reflection of pent-up anger," said a local analyst who declined to be named.

The protests also come amid heightened pressure on Iran from Washington over its alleged secret nuclear weapons programme and support for "terrorist" groups.

Some U.S. officials have openly called on Iranians to rise up against their leaders -- raising questions on a possible U.S. influence on the demonstrations especially after calls for protests came from U.S.-based Iranian exile satellite stations.

Iran is sandwiched between Afghanistan and Iraq and some protesters seemed to be appealing directly to Washington for help to bring an end to clerical rule in Iran.

"I came here to send a message to (U.S. Secretary of State) Colin Powell that we want change," said 46-year-old Parvin near the university campus in the early hours of Wednesday.

But analysts downplayed the U.S. influence on protesters, saying too much pressure from Washington could backfire.

Although recent US pressure, both overt and the mere fact of our military presence on their borders to the east and west, has been called counter-productive even before this development, these protests appear to be spontaneous. Our pressure did not snuff out the protests. Yes, overt intervention prior to a crisis point could be counter-productive. But just as true, we should not be afraid to support the enemies of the mullahs. July 9th could be crucial. Will we really stand by and let the mullahs crush the demonstrations and snuff out regime change for years to come?

"Accountability" (Posted June 12, 2003)

Krugman insists that the President lied to the nation to trick us into war. Truly, Krugman is not remotely qualified to write on the topic. Krugman would write on the subject just as I vowed no more on this subject for a while. Luckily, most points about Krugman's distortions for a political purpose that I wanted to address are in this article. But since I started, I'll press on a bit.

First of all, it is funny to note the outrage that Colin Powell, once the anti-war left's only reasonable official in the Bush administration, is now one of the enemy for declaring that accusations he lied to get us into war are outrageous. If you're with them, you can do an intern and be called heroic for lying. Oppose them, and you're just a house slave as the esteemed Mr. Bellefonte slurred.

Let's start with Krugman's first complaint: that President Bush "rhetorically linked" Saddam to September 11." He then goes on to say there is no evidence linking al Qaeda to Iraq, citing al Qaeda statements! Certainly, the President did not assert Saddam was behind 9-11. What he said was that in light of 9-11 can we risk one such as Saddam loose in the world? The answer is clearly "no." Where is the lie? Krugman clearly disagrees with Bush but even Krugman must concede that disagreement does not equal a lie.

Krugman also gives us the tired "imminent" charge—that is, that the administration said Saddam was an imminent threat for using WMD against us.

This is from the President's speech to the UN in September 2002:

We know that Saddam Hussein pursued weapons of mass murder even when inspectors were in his country. Are we to assume that he stopped when they left? The history, the logic, and the facts lead to one conclusion: Saddam Hussein's regime is a grave and gathering danger. To suggest otherwise is to hope against the evidence. To assume this regime's good faith is to bet the lives of millions and the peace of the world in a reckless gamble. And this is a risk we must not take.

A "grave and gathering danger" is clearly not imminent, as in days or weeks. But the threat was sure, regardless of the timeline. Given the clear uncertainty of intelligence assets and interpretation, why would opponents of the war still insist on the imminent standard when we know the threat—eventually—is real?

Krugman also cites the British paper The Independent, which in a March 2002 article asserted that the British Joint Intelligence Committee "found no evidence that Saddam posed a significantly greater threat than in 1991." So, after 11 years of inspections and sanctions, Saddam's threat to us was not reduced. Not even held to the same level. Indeed, the source only says that the threat was not "significantly" greater. I don't know how one defines that qualifier but it concedes he was a greater threat in 2002 than in 1991.

He also quotes Cheney out of context as claiming Saddam had nuclear weapons (as do lots of anti-war types who use this quote, I discovered). The linked article goes into this but it is so good I have to comment. I found one anti-war site that quoted the exchange:

On NBC's Meet the Press last Sunday, March 16, 2003, Vice President Cheney audaciously reiterated an ominous note.

NBC: "And even though the International Atomic Energy Agency said he does not have a nuclear program, we disagree?"

Cheney: "I disagree, yes. And you'll find the CIA, for example, and other key parts of our intelligence community disagree. Let's talk about the nuclear proposition for a minute. We know that based on intelligence, that [Saddam] has been very, very good at hiding these kinds of efforts. He's had years to get good at it and we know he has been absolutely devoted to trying to acquire nuclear weapons. And we believe he has, in fact, reconstituted nuclear weapons. I think Mr. El Baradei frankly is wrong."

Clearly, Cheney was responding to the question of Nuke programs—not actual weapons. He used the wrong word—period. The administration was always clear that we would attack to prevent Saddam from getting nukes.

This conclusion from the President's UN speech is no less true today than it was then:

If we fail to act in the face of danger, the people of Iraq will continue to live in brutal submission. The regime will have new power to bully and dominate and conquer its neighbors, condemning the Middle East to more years of bloodshed and fear. The regime will remain unstable -- the region will remain unstable, with little hope of freedom, and isolated from the progress of our times. With every step the Iraqi regime takes toward gaining and deploying the most terrible weapons, our own options to confront that regime will narrow. And if an emboldened regime were to supply these weapons to terrorist allies, then the attacks of September the 11th would be a prelude to far greater horrors.

And let this please be my final comment for a while: Critics of the war say that the host of information indicating Saddam had WMDs and programs to build them (not the "scraps" that Krugman alleges—unless he wants to level the same "lying" charge against every leader in both parties for the last 5 years) was a fabrication and that somehow we should have seen some small piece that said Iraq didn't have actual chemical weapons in place in March 2003 and then called the whole war off. At the same time they complain that the administration did not "connect the dots" prior to 9-11 when those dots were in a sea of dots and only apparent after the fact. Both lines of criticism also ignore the record and statements of the prior administration and fail to hold "their" president accountable.

Thanks Krugman, now I have a headache.

This is why I rarely read him. He subtracts value from anything he comments on and ultimately is just a time suck

"Mauritania Safe" (Posted June 10, 2003)

The Islamist coup in Mauritania has been quelled. Let this be a lesson that our enemies will continue to fight despite our power. We must be prepared to thwart these coups and to reverse them when necessary.

"EU" (Posted June 10, 2003)

The concept of the European Union is not in America's interests and it is about time we stopped advocating it. It made sense when we wanted Europe more cohesive to resist Soviet aggression, but now the EUniks only want to resist America. They are even opposing our efforts to protect our troops from the International Criminal Court (we prosecute any of our own accused under our own laws, thank you very much) even as those troops stand between Europe and the terrorists on distant battlefields:

The Bush administration charged the European Union with actively undermining U.S. efforts to shield Americans from prosecution by the International Criminal Court and warned that the impact on transatlantic relations will be "very damaging" if the EU does not stop.

The EU will stifle freedom in a bureaucratic dictatorship and within the next fifty years there will be a civil war as one of the countries of the EU has a change of heart and tries to withdraw. The Brussels-based rulers will declare their own Brezhnev Doctrine and use force to stop withdrawal. The economic decline of Europe relative to America due to population loss and lack of competitiveness with our economy will lead Europeans to blame America and the long holiday from threats to our security from Europe that began in 1991 when the USSR collapsed will end.

We have intervened in Europe since 1917 to prevent a single hostile power from gaining control of Europe and our policy now is essentially encouraging this development. Only Europe's decline relative to the rest of the world will lessen the impact of this mistake.

Say no to the EU and by all means, give European states—especially the British—a reason no to join. A Europe united under a hostile regime is not in our interests.

"Human Shields—Part II" (Posted June 10, 2003)

Actually, given that al Qaeda is still determined to kill as many of us as possible—with WMD if their wet dreams can be made reality—could the human shields who believe violence is never the answer please hang out at our power and chemical plants? Our bridges and tunnels? Our skyscrapers? Said a US report to the UN Security Council:

We judge that there is a high probability that Al Qaeda will attempt an attack using a CBRN weapon within the next two years," it said.

A radiological weapon is a so-called "dirty bomb," which uses traditional explosives to disperse radioactivity. Such bombs could use lower-grade radioactive material which can be more easily produced or obtained than the high-grade uranium and plutonium used for nuclear weapons.

We will know nothing but war against this scum for the rest of this decade. Don't ever forget that the first priority is to kill or imprison them until they lose all hope for victory. The historians of 2050 get the task of "understanding" them. But until then, the terrorists will seek to kill American in large numbers. And if that isn't possible, Britons. Or Belgians. Or Norwegians. Or even French. And Moroccans and Pakistanis and Saudis and Tunisians and anybody else not pure enough in their Moslem faith will do, too. Doesn't matter much to them.

So in the spirit of human shieldom, come on over you Euro guys and gals and bed down at the Statue of Liberty. Remember your slogan: "No Blood for Allah." After all, if war is never the answer, this lofty position must also hold true when the target is what the so-called "peace activists" claim is an "imperialist" America.

"Another Entity Destabilizing Iraq" (Posted June 10, 2003)

Apparently, our own State Department is determined to preserve the Baathists in Iraqi positions of power despite Paul Bremer's efforts to rid Iraq of the Saddam loyalists:

In his first major move, Bremer signed a broad order, designating that anyone from the top-four echelons of Saddam's Baath party — some 15,000 to 30,000 people — would be banned from holding any public office, including schools and hospitals. The move was cheered by many in the Pentagon and the White House, but despised by most Foggy Bottom officials, who favored the "pragmatic" approach of using top Baath-party officials whom they claimed had the exclusive knowledge and experience to help make the transition to a new government as smooth as possible.

It's bad enough that our enemies are working to undermine Iraq, must our own State Department do so, too? We invaded Iraq to get rid of the Baathist thugs, not make them more efficient with our advice and money.

Get rid of the Baathists so they cannot undermine us from within. Maybe we should get rid of the top four echelons of State Department, too, just to be safe.

"Could the Human Shields Please Go to Venezuela? (Posted June 10, 2003)

The local press could use some help in staying free. Amazingly little coverage is being given to the Chavez brutality in Venezuela. But he likes Castro (and liked Saddam) so I guess the Western press will not see fit to be outraged at his regime's tactics. Sadly, Venezuela has oil, so I suppose we can't afford to get involved since somebody might say chant that we intervene for the oil.

"Conspiracy?" (Posted June 9, 2003)

I'm honestly getting tired of posting on the ridiculous conspiracy charge that we invaded Iraq on false pretenses. I want to know what happened to the WMD we know Saddam had and the programs and raw materials we know he had. I want to know if all the dual-use raw materials that could either be for agricultural purposes or poison gasses were really to wean Iraq from the oil for food program. I want to know how western intelligence and the UN failed to notice that at the time of the invasion Iraq had no chemical weapons in firing condition readily available to their troops. Just what were the Iraqis talking about in the wartime intercepts?

The LA Times backs my suspicions written earlier about the "rises from the ashes" nature of the Iraqi WMD program—no smoking gun but maintain the people and knowledge ready to roll when international scrutiny dissipated:

Saddam Hussein's intelligence services set up a network of clandestine cells and small laboratories after 1996 with the goal of someday rebuilding illicit chemical and biological weapons, according to a former senior Iraqi intelligence officer.

The officer, who held the rank of brigadier general, said each closely guarded weapons team had three or four scientists and other experts who were unknown to U.N. inspectors. He said they worked on computers and conducted crude experiments in bunkers and back rooms in safe houses around Baghdad.

He insisted they did not produce any illegal arms and that none now exist in Iraq. But he said the teams met regularly and put plans on paper to quickly develop weapons of mass destruction if U.N. sanctions against Iraq were lifted.

"We could start again anytime," said the officer, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he said he fears for his life. "It's very easy. Especially biological."

"The point was, the Iraqis kept the knowledge," he explained during a lengthy interview Friday in which he offered tantalizing details of secret programs. But U.S. weapons hunters "will never find anything here. Only oil."

But the idea that we were lied to in order to justify invasion is hogwash. Robert Kagan says it well.

Give me strength to post no more on this until we present our evidence of the Iraqi WMD programs.

"We May Have 'Lost' Mauritania" (Posted June 8, 2003)

A coup in Mauritania led by Islamists against the anti-Islamist government may be giving the Islamists a win. A small one, but a win for them nonetheless. This is something I warned we must guard against in my essay of September 2001 on the coming war. The CIA and other Western intel services must help states resist Islamist forces.

Setting up a base in the region, which is growing in importance as it becomes a source of our oil imports, may be necessary to cope with the Islamist threat in the area. The biggest prizes are thus far secure but the loss of a minor player-if it is indeed lost-is a warning. We are at war. Our enemies want to win, too. The extremists will continue to fight even as our successes discourage the "street" from wanting to support the extremists who are willing to kill them, too (as in Morocco and Saudi Arabia), if they can't reach Americans.

We must counter-attack in Mauritania. The Islamist regime must be overthrown by indigenous forces. This is France's backyard. I hope they will work on this with us.

"Victims of the War" (Posted June 7, 2003)

A group of people in Iraq is suffering from a loss of prestige as the result of the overthrow of the Baathist regime. Check this out:

Backed by their patron, Saddam Hussein, Sunni Muslims were Iraq's power brokers for a generation. But in the new pecking order of U.S.-occupied Iraq, they have lost much of their influence. Though there is no indication of organized resistance yet, they're angry.

Ah, the ones who wore the boots that stomped on the throats of those below them are now "power brokers." Their ability to steal the resources of others and kill their enemies at will is now called a "pecking order." One gets the impression that we are to feel sorry for their anger at their loss of "influence."

Can you imagine an article bemoaning the loss of influence of whites in post-apartheid South Africa or Nazis in post-World War II Germany? Of course not. But in a world where America can accomplish no good because we do it, overthrowing a brutal minority dictatorship is somehow a civil rights issue.

"Remember the Outrage? (Posted June 7, 2003)

Remember the outrage of the looted Baghdad museum? Remember how critics of the war seized on this, asserting we should have been more forceful in stopping looting to protect our cultural heritage? I wondered how many Iraqis we were supposed to have killed to stop the looting. The critics never really answered that question, just asserted that somehow we should have stopped the looting. Somehow they expected some magical, non-specific, but surely non-lethal method to effectively protect the museum.

Of course, it turned out to be one big zero of a crisis. It fit perfectly with the mind set of the critics: dumb American soldiers too uncultured to realize that mere people must be sacrificed to protect cultural heritage. If only Baghdad hadn't been liberated, these priceless objects would be there for us to see and study. Saddam provided security, you see. One day soon we may find a special mass grave reserved for those Iraqis who crossed the rope line and got too close to some shard of pottery. Why not, there seems to be at least one for every other identifiable group.

Anyway, here's the latest reckoning of the crisis that should have been suppressed with gunfire:

Of the 170,000 initially thought missing, only 3,000 objects remain unaccounted for. Of those, 47 are main exhibition items but most of the others, including small shards of pottery, are not worthy of museum display.

Good thing we didn't refrain from liberating Iraq on the grounds that our cultural heritage would be lost. Even better that we didn't shoot a dozen people to protect the 47 exhibition items currently unaccounted for. Sad as the fact that 47 are missing may be, I don't think they are the bulk of our cultural heritage.

"Moe, Larry, and Curly" (Posted June 6, 2003)

The desperate fighting to secure the supply line of 3rd ID as it drove into Baghdad to end the war was touch and go. (See "Baghdad: The Crossroads" in the June Army) Outnumbered and in danger of running out of fuel and ammo themselves, the troops defending Objective Curly fought a Roarke's Drift-like battle without the benefit of field fortifications. Their long stand and ultimate victory despite being surrounded and outnumbered by fanatical attackers who tried small arms, RPGs, and even car bombs to win is a rebuke to those who said (once the war was won—before they said we'd face a bloodbath) that of course we would win, defeating Iraq was beneath us.

TF 3-15’s job was to secure the avenue of attack and main line of communication from the south along Highway 8, by holding three key intersections -- Objectives Moe, Larry and Curly. The most southern, Curly, was considered the least defended and dangerous of the three, so it was given to TF 3-15 headquarters elements augmented by one mechanized platoon from Company B, 3-15 Infantry. Company B, 4-64 Armor was given Objective Larry, and Company A, 3-15 Infantry was given Objective Moe. (The remainder of Company B, 3-15 Infantry, had the initial mission to secure the 2nd BCT’s rear that day, but another of its platoons would reinforce Objective Curly when the outcome teetered in the balance.)

Lt. Col. Stephen Twitty, the TF 3-15 commander, in a radio call to all elements as they lined up on the highway said, "They know we’re coming. We’ve been probing, clearing mines, and we just shot MLRS (multiple-launch rocket system) rockets. They definitely know we’re coming." They did. Throughout that day, TF 3-15 would be engaged in some of the most intense close-combat fighting of Operation Iraqi Freedom.

I used this battle as an example of some of the difficulties our Army will face despite transformation (already rejected, I'll send it elsewhere soon) and as I read more I am more and more impressed with the quality of our soldiers. Those loony toons who boast that if only they could fight us on the ground their martial spirit will overwhelm the soft American soldiers should read about this battle. Since Afghanistan didn't tell them we fight. And since Mogadishu didn't tell them we could fight. One more example, eh? They could talk to the surviving attackers who struck Task Force 3-15 but the few who did live are probably several pieces shy of a full person.

Our soldiers fight and win decisively when others would succumb, surrender, and face massacre. Yes, I had no doubt that we would win decisively and that yes, it would be a cakewalk in the grand scheme of things. But I knew hard fighting by skilled soldiers and Marines would be necessary to do that.

When I read about battles like this, I get angry with snide comments about how 3rd ID failed to transition to stability operations once major combat in Iraq ended. Screw those critics and be glad we have warriors who can fight, kill, and win. If we want troops that will surrender to any local thug and accept being slaughtered, we always have UN peacekeepers. Way to go, 3rd ID.

Our soldiers are just freaking awesome. Keep them this way.

"No Protection" (Posted June 6, 2003)

Belgium's vocal opposition to the Iraq War, loyally trudging behind France, earned Belgians no immunity to Islamist anger. The Belgians arrested an Iraqi who claimed to fight for the "International Islamic Society" when he mailed poisoned letter to various Belgian and Western targets in Belgium.

Being Western, no matter how willing you are to surrender to the Islamists, marks you for death in the eyes of the Islamofascists.

So exactly how would changing our foreign policy to one that "understands" their anger protect us from such lunatics?

Hunt them down. Imprison or kill them. They will keep coming at us until we do.

"DMZ" (Posted June 5, 2003)

The US and ROK have agreed to withdraw the 2nd ID from its forward position along the DMZ (wow, that's a lot of abbreviations). Hooah. The North Koreans are upset because they liked the American troops conveniently within range of their artillery. Tough. We are hardly doing this in preparation to attack; yet it is true that North Korean threats will have less meaning now. We will be able to inflict far more pain on the North Koreans than they can inflict on us if it comes to a showdown. Of course, South Korea's troops on the front will prevent Seoul from agreeing to an invasion of the North as Pyongyang claims. Plus the daunting example of West Germany's difficulty in absorbing the far more advanced East Germany. No timetable on the move.

"The Case Against Iraq-1998" (Posted June 5, 2003)

The latest effort to re-debate the Iraq War over purported lies sure has inspired me to post more again. I hope the administration pulls together and releases the details of Saddam's programs before I lose more time that I should be using to write for published articles…

As I said before, the reasons we bombed Iraq in 1998 were no different than the reasons we invaded this year. The difference is that after we bombed in 1998, Saddam had more than four more years to brutalize his people. Saddam is history, now. The quotes in this article from prominent anti-war types are great. This one, from President Clinton, deserves to be shown without having to point and click:

This is not a time free from peril, especially as a result of the reckless acts of outlaw nations and an unholy axis of terrorists, drug traffickers and organized international criminals. We have to defend our future from these predators of the 21st century.

The DOD press conference also addresses the growing firestorm over allegations the Bush administration lied about Iraqi WMD programs:

Now on this issue of intelligence judgments -- now to get to my second topic, the intelligence judgments on Iraqi weapons of mass destruction, Secretary of State Powell talked about our intelligence sources when he gave his presentation on February 5th to the U.N. Security Council. He played tapes of Iraqis who were discussing -- these were intercepts of Iraqi communications in which there were discussions of the concealing of weapons of mass destruction from U.N. inspectors. Secretary Powell cited the reports of witnesses and informants. He discussed the U.S. government's knowledge of Iraq procurement efforts in the weapons of mass destruction field. And he cited the old U.N. inspectors organizations reporting on weapons of mass destruction, for which Iraq had never accounted adequately. And these judgments were based on intelligence that -- intelligence reports and intelligence analysis that not only went back years but predated this administration.
In February 1998 President Clinton said, "Iraq continues to conceal chemical and biological weapons and the missiles that can deliver them, and Iraq has the capacity to quickly restart production of these weapons." Secretary of Defense Cohen, in -- also in 1998, said, "I believe that Iraq is developing them, because they've used them in the past. The acquisition of these types of weapons does make Saddam Hussein a major player in the region. He's concerned about the power, and the opportunity to have nuclear or biological or chemical weapons gives him the status and the ability to project that power to intimidate the neighbors in the region." And there are similar quotations from Vice President Gore and others. The -- it -- from our perspective, it's pretty clear that the intelligence community's judgments concerning Iraqi weapons of mass destruction did not undergo a major change between the Clinton and Bush administrations. And that's – without regard to the issue of whether the officials from the previous administration agree or disagree with the policies of this administration about how to deal with the problem, the basic intelligence reports did not undergo any kind of change from the previous administration to this one.

Suggesting the Bush administration lied about WMD (see this article ripping Krugman's foaming rant—I especially like the part that reminds us that the anti-war side was the one saying the threat had to be imminent. And how would the CIA know this?) requires critics to go after the Clinton administration for lying also. Face it, intelligence is a fuzzy thing. If not, we wouldn't have bombed a Sudanese pharmaceutical plant in 1998. I want to know how the intelligence on Iraqi WMD compares to what we find on the ground. But to raise this into a partisan attack on the basis that Bush lied is outrageous. Max Boot has a good column on the ridiculousness of this charge.

For all the problems I had with the previous administration's approach to foreign policy, I never marched in the streets in protest of the 1998 air attacks. I thought a brief bombing campaign was pointless but never unjust, and certainly not based on forged evidence, lies, or a conspiracy to trick us. If the anti-war left wants to continue the debate over fighting Iraq over WMD, I suggest they go back to 1998, retract all they said that year, and resolve that debate first. Then they can finish the '02-'03 debate if they wish. And then we can compare the results of Clinton's solution to the WMD problem and Bush's. The main difference? After '98, Saddam was free to murder and plot. Today he is dead or hiding and his people can freely express their views.

So why the different attitudes of the anti-war side now and then? Oh, I get it. The President in 1998 was way more sophisticated in his analysis. President Clinton raised the threat of an unholy axis. Clearly, "unholy" is way different from "evil." And "axis" was fine when linking terrorists, drug traffickers, and organized international criminals; but a distortion of history when used about Iran, Iraq, and North Korea.

The predators of the 21st century did strike us. And we are finally fighting to win now. Iraq was a win.

"China Coming Around" (Posted June 4, 2003)

The Chinese are coming to see that it is not in their interests to have a rogue nuclear-armed North Korea triggering chaos, economic dislocation, and proliferation of nuclear weapons to foes of China and possibly internal separatists. Regime change is not even off the table.

Maybe we shouldn't have caved in to North Korean ranting after all, eh? With China, we have a chance to squeeze and isolate North Korea and deny them the hope that war can save them. If China won't help them, even the North Koreans should conclude that regime survival requires de-nuclearizing their country. Going nuclear was a bad decision on their part. Diplomacy may yet work here. As long as it isn't surrendering to Pyongyang's whims under the guise of diplomacy as it has been practiced in the past.

"So How Does Pressure Work?" (Posted June 4, 2003)

On NPR yesterday, a discussion of a poll of foreign views of the United States noted the decline in positive views and carried the assumption through the discussion that if only we had a different foreign policy, they would like us. This is the logic flow: They don't like us. They tell us they don't like us. It is our fault. We must change.

When dealing with our opinion of foreign states, the logic is somewhat different: We don't like them. We tell them we don't like them. It is our fault. We must change.

This article talks about American pressure to change the thugreocracy in Iran. The experts decry our pressure:

The avalanche of criticism has not only sparked a hawkish response from hard-liners inside Iran, it has undercut reformers, according to analysts and diplomats in Tehran.

"The more pressure the reformists feel -- especially if the pressure is coming from outside -- the greater the negative impact on their capacity to mobilize, especially in domestic politics," said Hadi Semati, a political scientist at Tehran University, in a telephone interview. "It's hard when you're in a national security situation to undermine the constitution and institutions. It's going to be very difficult for [Khatami] to be combative."

If only foreign criticism of American policy led all Americans to close ranks behind our government just a tad more instead of leaping up and saying we must be doing something wrong. Khatami is less than useless in engineering reform.

Who knows, if Iran's opposition acts more like our own under pressure from the outside, the Iranians will be marching in the streets. But unlike protesters who march here and pretend they are an oppressed class of dissidents, Iranian protesters will be taking real risks to their lives as they confront the regime bully boys.

July 9 is getting closer.

"The Threat Was and Remains Imminent" (Posted June 3, 2003)

The issue of an inquiry into intelligence capabilities concerning Iraqi WMD has been whipped into an issue of whether we were lied to since we have not yet discovered Iraqi WMD. Opponents of the war, wrong so often in their pronouncements of doom and failure, have latched on to this as proof Saddam was not an "imminent" threat.

Again, let us remember that before the war we all agreed Iraq was developing and had possessed WMD. We knew Saddam had them. We knew he was working on them. We knew he used them. The question the anti-war side had was whether Saddam's WMD were an imminent threat. They further defined "imminent" to mean the ability, at that moment, to strike the continental United States from Iraq. Should that happen, they conceded war could be justified. Until then, we should give inspections a chance (ignoring the previous decade). Pretending they doubted WMD in the first place is simply a distortion of the debate they still say we did not have.

I never bought their definition of "imminent." In light of the clear intelligence failure, those who argued we could have afforded to wait until Saddam was poised to field weaponized chemical, biological, and nuclear devices have a lot of explaining to do. Remember the surprise over India's and Pakistan's nuclear tests? I had little faith (and have less now in light of developments) we'd be able to determine "imminent" with any certainty—certainly not enough to sway the anti-war side. Saddam was on a path to WMD and he had to be stopped before the cost was too great. That is "imminent" as far as I'm concerned. I always argued the only sure disarmament required regime change. I am perplexed that Iraq's WMD programs went backwards since 1998 when we struck Saddam's facilities in 4 days of air strikes (other than bio weapons, the truck-mounted labs surprised Blix), since the inspectors never claimed to have accounted for all we knew Saddam had. But I'm happy enough he did regress for whatever reason. That lowered the price we paid for ending his WMD ambitions.

I think we will pull together the evidence of the programs. We have the labs. We've found dual use materials. As one analyst noted, did the Iraqis really stockpile enough raw material to make more fertilizer than they use in a decade? Is it only a coincidence that these chemicals can also be used for chemical weapons? But for our invasion, we are to believe, the Iraqis were apparently poised to end the oil for food program and embark on a massive agricultural self-sufficiency policy. Right. We will pull the pieces together.

I still think we will even find the actual WMD. I hope we find them before some of Saddam's still loyal minions can unleash them on our troops in the region or on a civilian target. Revenge, like the assassination attempt on Bush I, is a high priority for the Baathists thugs we turned out of those palaces. We must find the remaining Baathists, too, before they strike with those WMD. That is the last way I want our war to be vindicated in the face of the skepticism that will not die. But our government should not be distracted by the latest cries of outrage from the foes of the war. We have a war on terrorism to win.

We ended Saddam's terrorism. We ended his wars of aggression. We ended his bloody oppression that we under-estimated, if anything. His body count of Moslem victims would make the most bloodthirsty Crusader weep with envy. And we did end his blind and destructive pursuit of WMD.

The foes of the war have been wrong so far and will be wrong on the WMD issue, too.

"The Myth That Will Not Die" (Posted June 3, 2003)

Michael Gordon, in an otherwise fine article on how the Army is stretched in its deployments, makes this statement:

The toppling of Mr. Hussein's government was essentially carried out by two to three divisions' worth of troops backed up by punishing air attacks.

I don't know how he can say this. He speaks of the assault being led by 3rd ID, implying that everything else was supporting. Since this is an article about Army strength, is he talking about the Army? If so, it is accurate enough as far as it goes since two division flags (3rd ID and 101st AB) commanding seven brigades plus two separate airborne brigades (173rd AB and a brigade of 82nd AB) fought in the war. But what of the two or three divisions of troops in First Marine Expeditionary Force? What of the British division? Plus a Ranger regiment and assorted Special Operations Command troops and allied special forces. A total of about seven divisions worth of troops was sent. This is completely consistent with post-Cold War plans that called for five Army divisions and one or two Marine divisions to win a major theater war.

Although Gordon argues that the Army needs to be bigger based on the insufficiency of the troops to occupy Iraq, I think he is premature. Yes, I bet reducing US strength to 2 divisions and 70,000 troops by the end of the summer is too optimistic. But getting down to that number with 2 divisions and a separate regiment as the core combat force (plus support and military police types) is not unreasonable if we have allies, a functioning Iraqi police force, and the beginnings of a working Iraqi army).

Yes, the Army is too small. But please stop referring to the tiny ground force that toppled Saddam. God forbid we should start to believe this myth.

"Not So Much of a Hindrance" (Posted June 2, 2003)

Another of the anti-war side's arguments against overthrowing Saddam has collapsed. Remember when they argued that attacking Iraq when so many of our allies disagreed would somehow lead our friends to halt cooperation in the war on terror? That never made much sense to me in the first place. Why would countries allow thugs willing to kill pretty much anybody to get a high body count run about freely just to say no to America? We now have the definitive answer:

Leaders of the G8 club of rich nations Monday pledged to widen and intensify the fight against international terrorism in a bid to avoid a repeat of the recent attacks in Morocco and Saudi Arabia.

On the second day of their summit in the French resort, heads of state from Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Russia and the United States also agreed a raft of measures aimed at boosting nuclear safety and curbing the spread of nuclear, chemical and biological weapons.

"We recognize that the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and their means of delivery poses a growing danger to us all," the leaders said in a statement. "Together with the spread of international terrorism, it is the pre-eminent threat to international security."

Even France, Russia, and Germany, the countries most adamant in opposing the invasion, recognize that terrorism and weapons of mass destruction must be combated. Oh, and North Korea and Iran came in for particular attention. I guess the Axis of Evil concept isn't so crazy after all.

"Mercs" (Posted June 2, 2003)

An interesting idea that is always controversial. Send in the mercenary companies to pacify Congo and end the death toll. Of course, the author represents mercs, but still, worth a look at least.

In an age when non-state actors who plunge states into chaos on a regular basis, what is the problem with using non-state mercenaries to end the toll? The armies fighting in Congo are there to exploit natural resources for the deploying country's benefit or the commanders' benefit. Is the fact that they are state-controlled somehow make their actions less reprehensible? The idea that we will create non-state actors with the means to wage war if we encourage this trend ignores the fact that we already have non-state actors with the means to wage war.

I'm not terribly comfortable with the idea of mercenary outfits, but Congo is not going to get better the way things are going. African states from Zimbabwe to Angola to Uganda and Rwanda will intervene to benefit themselves. Good troops from Western states will not stay long or go in large enough numbers to make a difference. Third World UN forces are sent only for the money they bring the controlling country. (I believe all peacekeepers get Western wages for their troops but the sponsoring non-Western country keeps the substantial difference between what the UN pays and what the troops are paid)

Actually, the African Union (I had to Google this to confirm that the AU did replace the OAU—it's great to have this service at your fingertips to check memory. NOTE: the first three sites I found were inactive or broken—not a good sign) needs to end the policy of defending all states in their current borders. They simultaneously claim the colonial legacy has kept them poor but refuse to accept any border changes. Congo is not a country. It is too huge to function. Even a successful UN/mercenary partnership that ends the fighting will be just a band aid. When the U.S. "mercenary" firm, MPRI, led the Croatian army to victory over the Serbs, it redrew the battlefield borders and ended the conflict with victory. Just suppressing all factions will only provide a respite to rearm and reorganize for the next round.

Give the mercs a chance. Seriously, just how much worse could they make Congo?