am going on blog Hiatus for a few days. Please feel free to visit any people on the blogrolls on the side or read any of the thousands of posts I've done before. I may have guest posters so be sure to visit everyday.
Be back to full swing at the beginning of next week where I will continue to discuss "The Fog of War" and any developments on the war front.
In the meantime, my favorites are:
John at the Castle
Iraq the Model
Enjoy any links at the side bar or on the other sites. Maybe when I'm back I'll have something brilliant to add on the information war.
Hasta la vista!
Tuesday, June 27, 2006
am going on blog Hiatus for a few days. Please feel free to visit any people on the blogrolls on the side or read any of the thousands of posts I've done before. I may have guest posters so be sure to visit everyday.
Spirit of America is one of the great organizations that I don't talk enough about. They are a big part of the "Mud huts and Chai Tea" projects that build rapport and understanding between the United States and the people of Iraq and Afghanistan.
This project is just a small part of it:
Col. Bivens wrote the following:
Mark and I completed our last visit to a school today so it was a bittersweet moment for both of us although we know the work will continue with the next group. We both worked very hard this year soliciting donations, unpacking, organizing, making reconnaissance for field trips, repacking for the field trips and then, of course making the trips. Although it takes a lot of work to deliver a single item in a foreign country (especially one at war), we know that it takes a great team effort. Only through donations made by Spirit of America were these trips made possible. We would have had some items, but your organization was a huge part of the effort and we were glad to be a part of your team for this year
Pictures included.Spirit of America
Try a list of other projects and think about how we can help with both ends:
Project Valour IT (Help a soldier when he's been injured get back on his feet and back in the world)
Spirit of America (Provides equipment, books, supplies and many other important items and money for the Mud Huts and Chai Tea part of this war. Every dollar spent helps promote relations between soldiers and the people they are trying to help. Every step in that direction means one less soldier will be attacked, one less IED, one less kidnapping, etc)
Make it happen people and tell others all about it.
BALTIMORE (AP) -- A 22-year-old soldier from St. Joseph died in Afghanistan fighting insurgents there.
Private First Class Brian J. Bradbury died June 21st when he encountered enemy forces during combat operations in Naray, Afghanistan.
He was assigned to the 71st Cavalry Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division at Fort Drum, N.Y.
KCTV5 News, Weather, Traffic and Sports for the Kansas City Area | Missouri Soldier Killed in Afghanistan
Maryland Soldier Dies Helping Wounded Comrade
A soldier from Maryland died this week in Afghanistan while helping evacuate another soldier who also died, the Pentagon said Friday.
Staff Sergeant Heathe N. Craig, 28, of Severn died June 21 when his UH-60 helicopter hoist malfunctioned while attempting to evacuate Private First Class Brian J. Bradbury during combat operations in Naray, Afghanistan, the Department of Defense said.
Bradbury, 22, of Saint Joseph, Missouri, was fatally injured when he encountered enemy forces using small arms fire and rocket-propelled grenades during combat operations.
Craig was assigned to the 159th Air Ambulance Medical Company, Wiesbaden, Germany.
This is what I'm talking about in turn around time and smooth productions:
An al-Qa'eda propagandist has revealed the inner workings of the terrorist network's media machine, describing how he was summoned to a hideout in Afghanistan to shoot a video of Osama bin Laden's deputy.
Qari Mohammed Yusuf, a cameraman, described in an interview with the Associated Press news agency how a courier brought a summons to him. It read: "The emir wants to send a message."
The emir, meaning prince or commander, was Ayman al-Zawahiri, who wanted to broadcast a message of defiance proclaiming that he had survived an American air strike.[snip]
Yusuf, an Afghan, said he is one of a half-dozen cameramen used by Zawahiri. Most are Arabs, and not all are known to each other, he said. He claimed that he had been a loyal and trusted servant of the Egyptian terrorist leader for several years, and in the interview gave no detail that could identify where Zawahiri's hideout might be found.
But he described how a van converted into a computer-equipped "mobile studio" was sometimes used for editing by al-Qa'eda technicians and would visit Pakistani cities such as Peshawar or Lahore, where videos were then produced for the bazaars or for transfer to Arab television.
The speed with which the Taliban and al-Qa'eda manage to respond to events in Afghanistan and churn out propaganda has frustrated commanders. "The Taliban are winning the propaganda war," said one senior British officer in Afghanistan.
Telegraph | News | Cameraman reveals secrets of al-Qa'eda propaganda war
This is the type of production that they are able to put together and have out within 48 hours: Mujihadeen World Cup
Over the weekend, I went to visit Centcom and catch up on the press releases that, during the week you can often get before they roll up on the AP wires cut and pasted with some details missing. However, I noticed, once again, over the weekend, all of the tech guys must have been gone because the last press release date on Sunday night was from Friday.
The terrorists don't rest and neither do their information machines. To act like this on going and continuous, daily war can be fought Monday through Friday 8 to 5, as if it was not a significant part of the over all war, is just inconceivable to me.
Further, I was watching video of a repelled assault. In the video, the soldiers get up high and fire out. They are talking about things they see and what's going on, but you can't see what's going on beyond the soldiers firing out. You can't see the people, you can't see their targets. You can hear the men talking about what is going on, then you see one of them let off a grenade from his grenade launcher and an explosion where it lands, but you can't see what he hits, who he hits or anything else.
For all anybody knows, he could have been grenading a falafel stand. NOt that I think that was happening since I could see incoming rounds smacking off the concrete walls around them, but it does not rival the big explosions and destroyed humvees on this propaganda piece by the insurgents.
We're not in this game. We're not even close to playing this game. We're still acting like the media should send embeds (which they won't) in the manner of free nations where free press cover the important aspects of the day or make "compelling stories". The only thing compelling they can come up with are pictures of alleged abuse and "massacres", much of which ends up being BS propaganda in the first place; things they can't and won't verify, but often referred to as the "objective" truth.
What's funny is that the press often does say that reports are "unverified", but usually at the end of the article or televised spiel. By then, most readers or viewers have already determined in their mind that, if it is being reported, some information or other verification occured that legitimizes the report as the truth. Largely because most people don't really know how the media works. People imagine that "unverified" means they've gotten the info from a fairly reliable source, but haven't been able catch that second or third person to give it the complete thumbs up.
"Fairly reliable" equates to "you heard it here first." Regular Joe coming home from ten hour work day and flipping on the news channel believes exactly that. Then, when parts of the story start falling apart, the media will make some lame disclaimer on page A9, three sentences at the bottom of the page near some small advertisements of the same size. Advertisements that people typically skip over so they skip those corrections, too.
The media will say that they do that because, by time they learn new info, the story is often already dead or the correction info is mentioned in some other area or story (though not referred to as a "correction"). That may be half the story, but no one who has worked in business management where their reputation is a large part of getting and keeping customers (all businesses), should be fooled into thinking that there is a second and very real reason that newspapers put the corrections in the back pages or online corrections are put on the original article in archives without listing them up front as a new part of a story (and then linking to the archive) or that the televised media says two sentence corrections before telling you "the other news of the day".
It is simply not good business to admit that you have a problem or have had an incident, even if they are simple errors that don't result in any harm to the customer or contractors. A few admitted errors equals bad business rep. When your rep is based on the truth and accuracy, admitting in public in 12 point type that you told something that was not the exact truth (even if it was not exactly your fault), is a rep killer. No one is going to do that unless their arm is twisted off (like Rather - who still didn't; or Mapes; or Isikoff and the Koran desecration, etc, etc, etc).
I did not mean to get off on a rant about the media. I do believe I am not overstating the case for how and why media does business. But, the military nor the government has recognized how this process works or, if they have, they haven't figured out how to produce information, verifiable and viewable, that the media will pick up or doesn't cover.
Those slick Iraqi Freedom Journal videos are okay, but the stories are not often compelling except to someone who really watches the military or is enlisted in it. Frankly, to compete with the jihadists, they are going to have to do more than show Lt This or Colonel That talking about generic recent operations, standing around in their digital cammies, helmets and goggles inside the FOB (no, we don't necessarily need graphic dead bodies all the time, but I would definitely go for more than is currently being shown).
I've said before, the info war needs to be Steve Austin: smarter, better and faster than ever before.
Open optimism, whether or not it is warranted, is a necessary trait in senior officers and officials. Skeptics can be excused for discounting glowing reports on Iraq from the upper echelons of power. But it is not a simple thing to ignore genuine optimism from mid-grade, junior and noncommissioned officers who have spent much of the past three years in Iraq.
We know the streets, the people and the insurgents far better than any armchair academic or talking head. As military professionals, we are trained to gauge the chances of success and failure, to calculate risk and reward. We have little to gain from our optimism and quite a bit to lose as we leave our families over and over again to face danger and deprivation for an increasingly unpopular cause. We know that there are no guarantees in war, and that we may well fail in the long run. We also know that if we follow our current plan we can, over time, leave behind a stable and unified country that might help to anchor a better future for the Middle East.
The Truth On the Ground
And another great read:
A marine sees what defeatists don't
RAMADI, Iraq — This is my third deployment with the 1st Marine Division to the Middle East.
This is the third time I've heard the quavering cries of the talking heads predicting failure and calling for withdrawal.
This is the third time I find myself shaking my head in disbelief.
Setbacks and tragedy are part and parcel of war and must be accepted on the battlefield. We can and will achieve our goals in Iraq.
I need to hat tip somebody, but can't find where I found these two pieces (closed the window too soon).
As the print media ponder the possibilities presented by blogs, some journalists are raising money to turn their own independent blogs into businesses.
WSJ.com - Bloggers Find Financial Backers For Their Independent News Sites
Monday, June 26, 2006
Normally, I wouldn't write about this stuff because I don't go for conspiracy theories, however, I do have to question how this came about:
WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. - Rush Limbaugh was detained for more than three hours Monday at Palm Beach International Airport after authorities said they found a bottle of Viagra in his possession without a prescription.
Limbaugh detained at Palm Beach airport - Yahoo! News
First, I really have to ask, was he coming in to the country after being out of the country and this was a typical customs search that found these pills?
Because I was a frequent traveller, I am well aware of how well (or not) bags are searched. Particularly, carry on bags. I know I had prescription pain killers, antibiotics and over the counter meds in various bottles that never really raised any eyebrows when it was going through the detectors. I had an abcessed tooth and prescriptions in my name of course, but point or question is why would anyone single out Rush Limbough?
Well, we know "why" actually, but he had one pill bottle with Viagra. While being a prescrtiption drug with the possibility of heart attack or defib if you over dose (not to mention other painful reactions), it is not something you get high off of and the dangers or street falue is no where near that of vicodin, percoset or oxycotin (to name a few).
Yet, here is a public man with an admitted drug addiction (Viagra is not typically something you get addicted to), flies into Palm Beach International and is singled out for a search that may or may not result in misdemeanor charges (probably not).
That is either: a) one of the worst publicity stunts ever pulled by Limbaugh; b) the security knew of his addiction and decided they would search him to see if they could catch him (why? Why not search Charlie Sheen or someone of that ilk who is into the hard drugs?); or, c) someone thought they were on to something and called security ahead of time to try to get him caught.
I don't really care about Limbaugh per se, but I saw this and it just struck me as wrong.
Breaking news!: Details sketchy. KCTV5 said that Tucson, AZ reporting body of recently killed soldier is missing from the mortuary. Casket discovered empty and seals broken in a field.
No links yet to story. Stay tuned for updates or hoax breaker.
Authorities now know where the body is after an empty casket was found in the desert on the southwest side over the weekend.
A nationwide alert was issued to try to find out whose body was in the casket, which had military- type markings.
Now investigators say the body had been disinterred in May, at the request of the family. The family had it cremated. Sheriff's Deputies say the empty casket was taken to Los Reales landfill, where someone stole it.
My guess is they looked up the serial numbers on the casket and back tracked.
Casket Case Solved
Casket found in field by paintballers.
TUCSON, Ariz. -- An empty casket with a military seal was discovered in a desert area south of Tucson, and sheriff's deputies were looking for the body.
"Obviously it had the smell, and there was other evidence that it had been inhabited recently," Deputy Dawn Barkman said Sunday.
Forensic investigators took DNA samples, and a nationwide alert was issued in hopes of finding out who was the recently-used casket, Barkman said.
Deputies were called to a desert area near Interstate 10 around 5:30 p.m. Saturday after two people playing paintball found the casket, Barkman said. The casket was metallic silver with a U.S. Army insignia on it, she said
Casket was sealed?
"A military-type casket, with stars and stripes and a U.S. Seal on it," said Lt. Bob Kimmins, the Pima County Sheriff's Office forensics commander.
What was once someone's final resting place, deputies found vacant.
"Without being terribly graphic, the contents of the casket itself suggested to law enforcement officers that clearly a body had been in there," Kimmins said.
Discovering the identity of the body was the just the beginning for investigators. "We do not have a whole lot of information obviously. The mystery to us is where is the body, and there's too many possibilities to me to speculate what could have happened here," Kimmins said.
Even nearby residents can't begin to answer that question.
"It seems to me to fairly quiet [here]. We don't get bothered by neighbors or people coming up to doors too much," Martello said.
The casket was sealed and in its original condition when deputies found it. It is unknown whether it was dug up or how long the body had been inside.
There is a nationwide broadcast to anyone missing a casket containing a body. If you have any information, please call 911 or 88-CRIME.
Chai tea, mud huts...
6/21/2006 - BAGRAM AIR BASE, Afghanistan (AFPN) -- When Maj. Wayne Vaughn looked down at the injured 12-year-old girl clinging to life on a litter loaded in his C-130 Hercules, he thought, "How can they do this? How can they try and kill a little girl?"
Taliban extremists had bombed a girls school in Herat in eastern Afghanistan on June 18, killing four and injuring 11.
The girl had a broken back and collarbone, head injuries and was in critical condition.
C-130 aircrew evacuates girl on Father's Day
If you don't understand already, this little girl meant nothing to the men who bombed her school. She had no more value than an old pair of shoes. Maybe less. This was not an accidental bombing of a school by a stray shell or the result of a battle against enemy forces or an attempt to get a high ranking or multiple actors of the enemy with children becoming accidental collateral damage. We are talking about deliberate acts.
The taliban believe that educated women are dangerous. The truth is, they are dangerous to the Taliban because women raise the children and if the women stop believing that the Taliban can control them, then Islamist ideology begins to slowly crash and burn.
In the end, it is not how much you are willing to brutalize people to make them accept your ideas, but how much you may reason with them.
Cutting off their heads and bombing schools probably doesn't have as great a return as the Islamists think. Even Genghis Khan eventually met his fate.
I didn't see this on many of the regular "watch" blogs I've read, but apparently, the Iranian government is trying to beat us at our own game.
SaudiSphere: Iran welcomes its first patch of religious bloggers
I believe this may call for some discussion and ideas on how to take advantage of these blogs. there are ways and there are ways. ;)
And other interesting articles:
Separate cells would recruit, plan, and operate on their own, receiving only instructions, guidance, and technical information from overseas.
This kind of structure is known as a “distributed network” among fourth-generation warfare (4GW) enthusiasts. (4GW is a strategic school of thought holding that the type of warfare practiced by the Jihadis is a totally new form developed to combat the 3GW – fast air-armor maneuver warfare – perfected by the West. In truth, 4GW appears to be little more than terrorism and guerilla warfare fitted out with an elaborate new vocabulary.)
What’s really new – and a minor justification for 4GW rhetoric – is the use of the Internet as a contact tool. The contact system is always an Achille’s Heel of any underground organization. By identifying one member, following him until he meets up with another, then following the second member, you can soon break open an entire network. This is exactly how Zarqawi himself was at last tracked down, with his spiritual advisor Sheik Abdel Rahman unwittingly leading a Coalition drone straight to his door. Such things as dead drops and the cell system were introduced to overcome this weakness.
Read where the fatal flaw comes in.
The Jihadi Network's Fatal Flaw
A look at the insurgency - A Many Headed Insurgency
Taliban Continuing Losses
The only problem I have with estimations of attrition is that you should never count on body counts where not all of the bodies are retrieved. If I sound like a lefty, I certainly mean nothing more than estimates are often widely and wildly inaccurate. Body counts and estimations of numbers attacking are difficult to assimilate in an insurgency. Further, body counts do not make for a win in an insurgency.
Yet, I also don't forget that the some of the main supply for "taliban" comes from Pakistan and, as this report indicates, that front is getting hotter. The race for the next front of the war (whether a proxy war or direct) is between two areas. Not withstanding N. Korea's most recent saber rattling, it's Pakistan (already underway, but wondering how much we are assisting Pakistan or can) or the Palestinian territories where Islamic Jihad (Al Zawahiri's group and part of the AQ compact for Global Jihad) continues to wage war against Israel even against the wishes of Hamas.
Islamic Jihad and the rest of the "Global Front", as I mention in two other posts, have two problems with Hamas. First, they consider them apostates for having joined the Democratic process. The Democratic process being "man's law" supplanting Allah's law (Shariah). Second, they vie for money from Saudis and other Muslims (in Europe and the United States) that AQ and it's fellow travellers would like to have in their pockets.
To top it off, Hamas gets some financial and moral support from Iran, Shi'ite Islamist government. Shi'ite being either accepted or rejected depending on what branch of AQ (the afghani or the Iraqi) holds sway over the rhetoric of the moment. In Palestine and Iraq (ie, the Western front), the AQ affiliates have very much bought into the idea that Shia in general are not only apostates, but traitors. Hamas and Hezbollah playing into it by participating in voting and democratic government.
It's very probable that all of these splits in ideology and strategy will, in fact, be the actual "fatal flaw" that kills the AQ Islamist organization as any sort of gathering threat. Unfortunately, it may leave the Shia version as the "next".
Or, an alternate title would be, "US Begins Taking Apart Terrorist Halawa System":
HARRISONBURG, Va. - Rasheed Qambari escaped threats from Saddam Hussein's regime a decade ago and was granted asylum in the United States. [snip]
Qambari was convicted in January of operating an unlicensed money transferring business and is scheduled to be sentenced Monday along with two co-defendants. All three could be deported.
Amir Rashid and Ahmed Abdullah pleaded guilty to the same felony charge, which carries a term of up to five years. A fourth man, Fadhil Noroly, is set to go on trial July 11.
Authorities say the men, who all were granted asylum in the United States, transferred hundreds of thousands of dollars to Kurdish provinces in northern Iraq without a business license. Prosecutors would not comment until after the sentencings, said a spokeswoman for the U.S. attorney's office.
Kurdish immigrants facing prison time - Yahoo! News
While this report makes the men seem very sympathetic and above board, which they may actually be, the Halawa system of unofficial, untrackable money transfers is a mainstay of terrorist financiing and various other illegal transactions such as drug running from the Middle East and Gun Running; all of which contributes to terrorist activities around the world.
As I pointed out in this post on the Hezbollah v. al Qaeda vie for Muslim "charity" money to finance their operations, this money is being transferred through on of three ways:
1) Collected and hand carried in small amounts. Generally amounts that would not cause alarm at border crossings or custom's searches in air ports. This may be part of the Halawa system, but may be the most direct approach if unreliable in terms of trustworthy couriers or couriers that can make it through all of the searches and security.
2) Halawa system.
The unique feature of the system is that no promissory instruments are exchanged between the hawala brokers; the transaction takes place entirely on the honor system. As the system does not depend on the legal enforceability of claims, it can operate even in the absence of a legal and juridical environment. No records are produced of individual transactions; only a running tally of the amount owed one broker by the other is kept. Settlements of debts between hawala brokers can take a variety of forms, and need not take the form of direct cash transactions.
In addition to commissions, hawala brokers often earn their profits through bypassing official exchange rates. Generally the funds enter the system in the source country's currency and leave the system in the recipient country's currency. As settlements often take place without any foreign exchange transactions, they can be made at (black) market rates rather than official rates.[snip]
Furthermore, the transfers are informal and not effectively regulated by governments, which is a major advantage to customers with tax, currency control, immigration, or other legal concerns. For the same reasons, governments disfavor the system, and accusations have been made in recent years that terrorist funding often changes hands through hawala networks.
3) Through legal banking transactions as discussed in the recent outing of the SWIFT investigations that can be read about here, here and here,
In short, the US is going after every aspect of the financing system for terroris. Even if these men are honest, upright citizens who have no connections or sympathies with terrorist organizations, who they deal with, who uses their systems, without a formal process for backgroud checks or following transactions, means that even their "honest" transactions present a danger to the US and an ability for terrorists to continue to act.
Sunday, June 25, 2006
I don't think I have to give you anything more than the headlines. If you were not rolling with laughter before you finished reading that, then you have no sense of humor.
Or, you were a member of the Ba'athist regime that would like it to come back.
Saddam clings to hope US will enlist his aid: lawyer - Yahoo! News
BEIRUT, Lebanon - To the outside world, the two groups appear to have much in common: Devoutly Muslim, fiercely hostile to Israel and the U.S., and high on Washington's list of terrorist groups.
Yet al-Qaida in Iraq and Lebanon's Hezbollah are waging a worsening verbal dispute that threatens to burst into confrontation.
First came a fiery diatribe from al-Qaida in Iraq leader Abu Musab al-Zarqawi — just a week before he was killed by a U.S. airstrike — accusing Hezbollah of acting as a protective buffer for Israel.
Hezbollah, generally reserved in its comments on internal Islamic issues, began to react: One of its main political figures told The Associated Press it wasn't his group at all but al-Zarqawi that was the "tool" of United States and Israel.
Hezbollah, al-Qaida mirror Islamic split - Yahoo! News
For once, someone actually tells the truth in the middle of all the diatribes aimed at the current administration about allowing the Iraq situation to turn "sectarian":
The two branches of Islam live uneasily side by side in some countries, such as Lebanon, or in Iraq under Saddam Hussein. Other countries have a strong majority of one or the other that dominates, such as strongly Sunni Saudi Arabia whose Shiite minority is mostly politically repressed.
Al-Zarqawi brought all of that to a boil, because of "his personal hatred of Iraq's Shiite population," said Richard Evans, terrorism editor at Jane's Information Group in London.
Of course, we knew his goal, but how do you keep it from happening in the face of three major issues: 1) an existing, centuries old "family feud" that started the day Mohammed died; 2) When the Sunni bedouin tribes had been invading Iraq and settling the western provinces to finally have a Sunni put on the throne of Iraq (Fiesel) by the British; 3) when the Shia saw their Ba'athist oppressors as largely "Sunni" and wanted revenge.
It was probably the simplest plan to implement, contrary to commentary about the genius of Zarqawi, yet, it did take someone from the area who understood that it existed to implement it:
His goal was to create a Sunni Muslim religious-based government in Iraq, and he believed "that could only be achieved with the defeat of any Shiite-led Iraqi government," Evans said. Thus, he tried to kill Shiites in Iraq, which is now ruled by a Shiite-led government.
But this line I thought actually skirted the main issue because no one wants to talk about the "main" issue:
Al-Zarqawi also may have worried that Hezbollah was too popular among Arab Sunnis — that it was his rival for Sunnis' affections across the region — because of its fight against Israel.
It wasn't just the Sunnis' "affection" he was a rival for, but their money as well. It wasn't that long ago that a Saudi telethon raised millions of dollars for the Palestinians; millions of dollars that did not make it to Zarqawi and his ilk. It wasn't that long ago that Zawahiri was begging Zarqawi to forward money to him in Pakistan (100,000). It is recently that the news of Zarqawi's network in Europe came to light. This network was not simply about recruiting jihadists to go to Iraq or to do terrorist acts in Europe, but was largely about collecting monetary donations.
In light of which, I find the question about the SWIFT program being printed interesting. Not just because it brought into the open something many (including the jihadists) had to assume was going on, but because I wonder how effective it was or could be today. Jihadists are not all silly, hopped up fanatics psyching themselves up for a kill. In fact, there are plenty who are well educated and look at the strategic. They learn from each operation just as we do. I think about how many times the MNF-I(raq) would talk about jihadists carrying $3000 or so in cash across the border or raiding a "financier" who had $40,000 in American dollars at his home.
Considering that the Iraq banking system was and is still in dissaray, it is unlikely that it is getting transferred into Iraq. Into Jordan and Syria? Maybe, with people withdrawing it and carrying it. But, the system that I believe is still the most widely used and the least able to be monitored is the Halawa system. Loosely based on the pre-20th century banking system or even the Hospitaler banking system of depositing money in an informal institution, get issued a "letter of credit" and being able to withdraw the same amount on the other end. All without an electronic transfer or trail, without actual funds chaning hands and within an informal network that no one knows all the pieces or actors.
Which tells me that Zarqawi's group was/is in essence hand carrying cash from Europe to Iraq. That tells me that Zarqawi simply did not or could not compete with the kinds of ad hoc cash flow the Palestians were able to get after decades old networks had been established.
Some days I often think that we should let the Sunni and Shia finally duke it out, but I see that war being even longer and bloodier than our own "long war" against Islamist extremists. On top of that, using one to "kill" the other is an old Cold War strategy that, just like the defeat of Russia, might actually end up leaving us with an ugly mess we have to clean up and even uglier enemies.
That's why I'm not sure if I find this news about "infighting" good or bad.
I feel that is the first time I have visited Iraq. Deploying to a place during a time of war and playing a part of that offensive operation, it is impossible to have any point of view besides the constant assessment of threat and responsive force. You can't appreciate landscapes or city streets. You are more preoccupied with observing the fine elements of city life and not the larger picture of community and family. You could deploy me to the Guggenheim and I wouldn't comment on anything other than the job at hand. Infantrymen are vigilant, quick tempered toward the enemy and always focused. Today I feel none of those things and that really is a great feeling. [snip]
Hanging out with journalists you tend to overhear all the belly aching and complaints leveled toward 22 year old privates, who have about as much to do with why planes are late as they do with why your tent's air conditioner broke down last night. Still the unwashed complain and the young soldiers apologize and smile. At one point in my life I was on the other side of that complete disconnect and I was the one smiling and apologizing. Today I appreciate that the Army I left is a better one today. And the Army my son will serve in will be even better tomorrow.
With barely a snap hand shake and first name introduction, those without weapons and uniforms huddle together and sip coffee while the uniformed men and women stay in their group. It is almost humorous to hear some of the expectations of the media or civilian contractors that we travel with on route to our destinations This one photographer who claimed that a Marine stabbed him at some point in the past, I wasn't really listening. To his credit there was a long story attached and I was nodding repeatedly but not listening to one word of this man's "war story". I find more and more the morale is lower with the media and the civilian contractors then with the soldiers.
Read the rest.
Vets For Freedom: A Different Perspective
The best lines?
There are many times when the systems simply shut down from over use or malfunction. From my experience, when you hear the phones are down and the internet is off, you instantly suspect that someone is simultaneously getting horrific news, news no family deserves to hear. How amazing that never even occurred to this fool who wants to check on the Czech Republic Ghana world cup score?
I could've shared that with my belly aching civilian, that someone may have been killed and he needed to slow his roll. Then I thought perhaps his Marine story is true and maybe this guy invokes rage in even the most passive souls.
Now you know why there is such a "disconnect". Some folks come from this world and visit that world expecting New York accomodations while others live in that world, see it daily, look at those who will continue to live in that world when they leave or those who have been injured or killed and know they've got it good.
Saturday, June 24, 2006
CAMP HABBANIYAH, Iraq - Marines of 3rd Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment engaged insurgents in direct firefights twice in three days at Observation Post Bears along a main route through the city.
The battalion recently built new observation posts along the highway connecting Fallujah and Ramadi, an area near the Euphrates River with no distinct city lines or local government[snip]
Most of the Marines in the house were resting when the attack started, preparing for such an occasion. Bullet ricochets and rocket-propelled grenades broke their slumber.
“I was sitting down listening to my music when suddenly I hear rounds impacting and bouncing off the wall,” said Lance Cpl. Nicholas Garlich, an infantryman from Kansas City, Kan. “I put on my gear and ran to the post at the north and an RPG hit the window. I was inside the room by myself. I got a little wound on my arm.”
After a quick bandage was applied to his left shoulder, Garlich ran to the rooftop to join the rest of the Marines already returning fire with their M-16’s and one special surprise – a shoulder-launched multi-purpose assault weapon.
Read the rest: Marines engage enemy in Habbaniyah
Wing commander Nicky Barr, who has died aged 90, was one of Australia's most successful wartime fighter pilots, credited with destroying at least 12 enemy aircraft.
Shot down three times, on the third occasion he was badly wounded and was taken prisoner by the Italians. He then escaped three times, and remained behind enemy lines for more than a year conducting clandestine operations with the partisans and special forces.[snip]
Initially flying the Tomahawk, Barr achieved his first success on December 12 1941, and this was quickly followed by four more before his encounter with German fighters over El Alamein. His philosophy in combat was simple: "The Tomahawk and Kittyhawk were not considered by us to be top fighter aircraft.
I decided early on that any deficiency either type had could be offset by unbridled aggression. I had done some boxing, and had beaten better opponents by simply going for them, and I decided to use this tactic in the air. It paid off."
Telegraph | News | Wing Commander Nicky Barr
Back when the word "hero" meant something.
Friday, June 23, 2006
And what are the three things they pick to show and talk about?
Three National Guard soldiers from New Hampshire were given their own cameras and asked to record a year Iraq. The more than 800 hours of video they recorded resulted in a film,"The War Tapes," which took the documentary feature award at the recent New York Tribeca Film Festival.
Specialist Mike Moriarty was one of the three soldiers — he signed up after 9/11. "That was like somebody hitting my house," Moriarty said to the camera. "I had to do something about it."
But Sgt. Zack Bazzi — born in Lebanon, fluent in Arabic — is dubious about America's intentions in Iraq.
"[Expletive] the oil man, [expletive] it," he said. "It's not worth it. I'll even drive a Honda Insight."
And Sgt. Steve Pink was a dedicated keeper of eloquently wrenching diaries.
"I looked down at his hand dangling from the exposed bone that used to be his elbow," he said, "like a safety-clipped mitten dangling from his winter coat."
ABC News: A Provocative Look at Soldiers' Lives in Iraq
Spin baby, spin.
"So America supports the Iranian people's rights to develop nuclear energy peacefully, with proper international safeguards." But, said Mr. Bush, the rights of the Iranian people go beyond civilian nuclear power:
"The people of Iran, like people everywhere, also want and deserve an opportunity to determine their own future, an economy that rewards their intelligence and talents, and a society that allows them to pursue their dreams. I believe Iranians would thrive if they were given more opportunities to travel and study abroad, and do business with the rest of the world. Here in the United States, Iranian-Americans have used their freedom to advance in society and make tremendous contributions in areas from business to medicine to academics."
The United States, says Mr. Bush, "will provide more than seventy-five million dollars this year to promote openness and freedom for the Iranian people":
"These funds will allow us to expand and improve radio and television broadcasts to the people of Iran. These funds will support Iranian human rights advocates and civil society organizations. And these funds will promote student and faculty exchanges."
In these ways, said President Bush, "we can build bridges of understanding between our people."
VOA News - Iran's People Deserve Freedom
Dahuk, 22 June (AKI - Source IRIN) - A sharp increase in house rents is hurting people in Iraq's northern Dahuk governorate. according to local officials. Following a large inflow of internally displaced people (IDPs) from other volatile regions of the country, there has been a shortage of housing. This has prompted landlords to cash in - leaving many with no choice but to stay in cramped and poor unhygienic conditions.
"One of the consequences of this large number of IDPs to Dahuk, within a short period of time, has been the dramatic increase in rent and house prices," Gorgees Shlemon, the acting Governor of Dahuk told IRIN.
"This has negatively affected people’s economic conditions,” he added.
IRAQ: INTERNAL 'REFUGEES' TRIGGER RENT HIKES
It's true there are internally displaced people, but I think one of the interesting aspects of this report is the very low number who are living outside of regular housing. the other aspect is that the security and economic boom of Kurdish Iraq (Kurdistan) has also contributed to an influx of people who are not necessarily refugees. Further, whenever salaries rise and businesses begin to flurish, the price of land, houses and rent invariably goes up. It is basic supply and demand economics.
However, I would keep an eye on this situation. If Kurdish Iraq experiences a continually quadrupling inflation rate, it could have negative effect on it's economic future.
Another interesting point is that I read statements from other Kurdish officials that seemed to welcome the refugees and actually invite them in as part of the necessary booming work force that was needed to continue feeding the economic growth. However, this could have been simple politics since I am not aware of the unemployment rate v. job growth in Kurdistan.
I recommend also reading
Kurdistan: Birth of a Nation?
A Tale of Two Cities
In Erbil, Dream Land’s director said, “We are looking to hire more people, especially those with technical skills. There is no unemployment to speak of in Iraqi Kurdistan. Around three quarters of the work force comes from other areas of the country, such as central and southern Iraq. Whereas the average salary of a construction worker in Baghdad is 15 thousand Dinars[1400 dinars = $1.00; this is about $12/day), they can make up to 20 dollars a day in Kurdistan, more than a fourfold increase.”
Kurdish Banks Slowly Win Trust
A new bank in Iraqi Kurdistan is trying to build confidence in the faltering banking system by bringing cash machines and wire transfer systems to the city of Erbil.
Kurdish officials are trying to promote their region to investors as a safer alternative to Baghdad, but a dearth of banks that can be trusted even for money transfers has been a frustration for residents and businesspeople.
A 2004 report by the government-run Kurdistan Corporation said that business executives were "unanimous that the lack of banking facilities is the biggest impediment to economic growth".
Two years on, however, Kurdistan’s banking system is growing, albeit slowly.
Some Shia politicians have already demanded for the south the same broad powers that the Kurds now have in the north, including an independent parliament, ministries and army. This is provoking much heat. The Kurds, after all, are suspected of aiming at secession. Iraq's Sunni Arabs fear that if the Shias ape the Kurdish model by establishing a “Shiastan” in the south, it could leave the oil-poor Sunnis alone with their palm trees and sand.
Kurdistan Open for Business
The wonder of Kurdistan
A glance out of the window of the Director General for Finance of the Kurdish regional government shows how far the future of Kurdistan has already flourished: around the Ministry of Finance, as in many places in the city, buildings are shooting up. Apartment buildings, offices, warehouses, it looks as if everywhere in Erbil is under construction.
Money, that is a key word today in the northern part of Iraq. You are never allowed to call it Northern Iraq because that offends every Kurd. To the Kurds the region is Kurdistan, liberated Kurdistan, as most residents call it today. Liberated from Saddam Hussein and years of oppression. Liberated from the religious constraints of the Islamists and seemingly ready for a new future that goes much further than the older generation can even imagine. [snip]
The demand for home ownership and the wish for improvement in the infrastructure are so great that the cement factory in front of the gates of Suleimaniyah has been put back in operation.
The clearest sign of the new boom in Kurdistan is the increase in salaries. Before the fall of Saddam Hussein a white collar worker earned 22,000 Iraqi dinar per month (around $148)--today 158,000 [math..that is a little over $1000/month], according to the Ministry of Finance. A clear sign of the upswing is the fact that Kurds have meanwhile become too expensive for some jobs. On the side of the road between Erbil and Suleimaniyah you discover tents with Iraqi and Chinese flags in honour of guest workers from China. Thirty-eight men from Beijing who speak neither English nor Kurdish nor Arabic are widening Kurdistan’s highway network. They sleep at night on cots in tents on the edge of the construction site. In Suleimaniyah you find more guest workers from their own country.
Iraqis from Tikrit or Baghdad are moving to the north because there is work here and a better security situation.
War Weary Arabs Go North
Arabs began turning up at the Kurdish tourist resorts after the overthrow of the Saddam, and their numbers have been steadily increasing.
The influx of Arabs has been a boon for the region, but some local Kurds complain their arrival has driven up prices.
Three years ago, one night in a Dukan holiday cabin cost 20-25 US dollars. It’s now more than double that. And the price of a small bottle of spring water can treble to 45 cents in the summer months.
The tourist companies, however, say they've rarely had it so good.
“Arabs are the best source of income for us,” said Kamal Hameed, chief executive of Daban Cabins on lake Dukan. Before the fall of the regime, he had 20 chalets and now has four times as many, increasing his monthly profits from 5000 to 30,000 dollars.
Poultry Industry Picks Up
I am a little late with this, but considering all the discussions about North Korea, this commentary on China and Taiwan is well worth the read:
What got Johnny into such a state was Lind's suggestion that China's claims on Taiwan were legitimate, and that the U.S. should butt out.[snip]
Lind then tries to explain why poor little China will be forced against its will to put the Taiwanese in their place:
Taiwan is vastly important to China, because the great threat to China throughout its history has been internal division. If one province, Taiwan, can secure its independence, why cannot other provinces do the same? It is the spectre of internal break-up that forces China to prevent Taiwanese independence at any cost, including war with America.
Reality check here: Taiwan has NEVER been controlled by the People's Republic of China. Moreover, within the last century, Taiwan was only a part of a "Greater China" for a couple of years following World War II. That means that it's essentially been separate from Greater China for a hundred years now. And in spite of this, Communist China has miraculously managed to maintain its internal cohesiveness during its entire 50 year lifespan without collecting a single NT dollar in taxes, without imprisoning a single Taiwanese democracy advocate, and without murdering a single Falun Gong adherent.
Maybe, just maybe, it's an exaggeration then to say that Taiwanese independence is the single magical element that can bring the whole Chinese house of cards crashing down.
Finally, Lind raises the specter of a nuclear confrontation, which ultimately gets back to the familiar question about whether America is willing to sacrifice Los Angeles for Taipei. A Chinese general asked that a few years back, and Taiwanese (or are they Chinese?) commenters on Taiwan-related blogs ask it as well.[snip]
Is America willing to sacrifice Los Angeles for Taipei? My response is to turn that question, which is asked purely in an effort to demoralize, upon its head. What we really should ask is whether it is the Chinese who are willing to sacrifice Beijing for Banchiao***, or Shanghai for ShiminDing****?
If China is tempted to answer that irrationally enough, it may one day find itself boasting of its five thousand year history...while looking forward to nothing more than a fifteen minute future.
There is much more to read at:
The Foreigner in Formosa: Johnny Rejects Isolationism
I think the same question can be asked of Pyongyang. What are they willing to sacrifice for the headlong rush to Nuclear Proliferation.
A North Korean diplomat reportedly said Wednesday that his country wants talks with Washington over the issue, but John Bolton, U.S. envoy to the United Nations, repeated the U.S. rejection of that idea Thursday.
"You don't initiate talks by threatening to launch an ICBM," or intercontinental ballistic missile, Bolton said.
Instead, Washington wants Pyongyang to resume six-nation nuclear talks, which also include China, Japan, Russia and South Korea. The North has boycotted talks since November, angered by a U.S. crackdown on its alleged illicit financial activity.
Hopefully we asked that same question of Tehran and the Mullahs, who, I suspect, are actually very interested in earthly pursuits as much as heavenly rewards.
(As a side note, I think I am seriously tired of hearing about Iran's "nuclear rights". I know where that language comes from, but in the realm of "rights" that one could have and would be helpful in Iran, "nuclear" does not come to mind. In fact, "nuclear rights" is grotesque in the face of hanging sixteen year olds for alleged "adultery" from a cherry picker in the town square. How about some common rights like free speech, privacy, freedom to practice religion, freedom from arbitrary arrest?)
Islamabad, 22 June (AKI/DAWN) - Pakistan's Supreme Court has directed the police in the Sindh province to take effective action to abolish torture cells allegedly being operated by some police officials. A three-judge bench comprising Chief Justice Iftikhar Mohammad Chaudhry, Justice Abdul Hameed Dogar and Justice Saiyed Saeed Ashhad directed the inspector general of Sindh police to immediately undertake a comprehensive survey of all such cells in the province.
The bench was told that some police officers, on the orders of influential feudalists, operated private cells where innocent citizens were kept in illegal confinement.
PAKISTAN: SUPREME COURT ORDERS ACTION AGAINST TORTURE CELLS
I can't decide if this is Pakistan trying to move to the "rule of law", "protection under the law" and "human rights protections" or if it is simply the state is angry at infringements on its monopoly on incarceration and torture.
Thursday, June 22, 2006
We have people who were on the fence or supported us who in the last two years or three years have in fact decided to strike out against us. And you have to ask: Why is that? And I would argue in many instances we are our own worst enemy," Chiarelli said in an interview.
Chiarelli said he reviews the figures daily. If fewer civilians are killed, "I think that will make our soldiers safer," Chiarelli said.
Chiarelli said U.S. soldiers are killing and injuring fewer Iraqi civilians this year in so-called escalation-of-force incidents at checkpoints and near convoys than they did in July of last year, when officials first started tracking the statistic.
The New York Times reported that coalition soldiers in Iraq killed an average of one civilian every day during 2005 in incidents at checkpoints or roadblocks or alongside convoys, according to statistics compiled by officers in Baghdad. So far this year, with new military guidelines in place, the number of Iraqi civilians killed at checkpoints, roadblocks or along convoys has dropped to an average of one a week, according to the military statistics.
Philadelphia Inquirer | 06/22/2006 | Commander: Fewer civilians dying
Some of the opposition often ask (or demand) that the supporters of the war recognize "failures" of the war. Why? So we can pretend that it's all about Bush Co and Republican mismanagement. What the alternative was (withdrawal, ignominious retreat?), I have yet to completely understand how or why it would have been better.
But, if you want a complaint about the handling of the war from a war supporter, this would be it. Basically, the extremely slow and painful move from the Pentagon and senior military leadership in understanding, preparing for, training for and implementing counter-insurgency warfare.
Believe it or not, I don't completely blame Rumsfeld or Bush for these problems. I know, I'm a partisan hack. Not really. I see it as a big part of our post-Vietnam military culture. We got burned in Vietnam because we didn't know how to fight an insurgency and instead of really trying to figure it out and implementing it across our entire military structure (instead of just within small special forces and CIA groups), recognizing that this was the future of war (small wars, insurgencies, etc), they through up their hands and said, "We are only going to go to war with states with huge armies that we will then employ maximum force against, destroy the army, call it a victory and go home".
That would be Shinseki, Zinni and Powell. What they asked for, the impossible really, was a "clear military objective" they could complete and go home. From my perspective, those demands were code for "only deploy the military if we are guaranteed victory". Sometimes I think they look less like Patton and much more like McClellan.
I also blame it on us: the US citizen. We also got burned in Vietnam and our society, our body politic also rejected the idea of counter-insurgency warfare because it is long, it is sometimes morally ambiguous and it does not result in surrender signing on the USS Missouri; our iconic idea of victory and honorable defeat of the enemy. Insurgencies aren't like that and it scares the dog out of the body politic. It's the unknown. It's violent. It doesn't square with our dream of chivalric warfare (though, I do call it a dream because even "chivalrous knights" were only chivalrous to their own kind).
It's a problem when you are raised on the myths of war instead of the reality. For the most part, our new enemy may reside in their own idealic myth about Holy Warriors, but they have seen a lot of war up close and personal. They have simply incorporated it into their concepts of war and given the actions sanction by insisting it was the way war was back in the day and if it was good enough for Mohammed or Salah al Din, it is good enough for them.
In reality, probably more realistic as to what warfare was, but certainly doesn't square with our continued attempts in the West to progress, or, more succinctly, regress to our ideas of heroic, chivalric war where the old, the infirm, the maidens and the children are protected from the dragon, be it ours or the enemy's.
Funny though, in the end, it is exactly those chivalric tendencies which are best used to fight a counter-insurgency. If you can't use that then you must resort to total war where in the entire society you are at war with is smashed into barely subsistent living, much less capable of retaliation, whether by guerillas or partially intact armies.
So, my complaint is that we (I mean the entire host, whether politicos, military and American Citizens) were far too slow in adopting the right attitude and procedures in fighting an insurgency. What I do know is that some officers, on their own, did read about and try to implement a counter-insurgency strategy within their individual AOs (areas of operations) and were successful.
Funny though, on the other end of the scale, you have the Brits in the South that were wearing their berets and talking about how to fight the war (Chiarelli was inspired by a Brit General writing in the Military Review on the difference between British and American approach) who are now wearing their full kit (ie, body armor). Their failing? Being a little too smug and self satisfied, refusing to recognize the danger of the growing militia control of their area. A militia that was Shia, but anti-occupation. A militia that barely responds to Al Sistani these days.
In short, they didn't recognize that the insurgency had progressed to a different danger level. For most of us, the recognition came when Steven Vincent was murdered. Of course, that's the view from 9000 miles. It was probably a little more difficult to evaluate up close and personal, seeing it every day.
In any case, there is my criticism of the war. If you want a fall guy, I refuse to give it to you. Not a politician, not a general, no one. Fall guys and recriminations are for when the war is over; whether defeat or victory. It is when the history books are written, not the general angst of daily journalists. As long as we can recognize when there is a problem and change it, I will not point a finger at any individual.
Yet, when the history books are written and military strategists or social historians write it, I hope that, for all the caterwauling about Iraq being Vietnam, that they write how the defeat of Vietnam (that's what it was, regardless of speeches of honorable withdrawal) really effected us and changed us so severely we were almost unable to conduct the war.
Here is my read on a lot of Democratic senators: They think they know more than their base and they think they're more--how to put it?--stable in their view of the world than their base. In their hearts, in fact, they don't really like their base. (They like--they love--the old base: old union guys who drink Schlitz and voted for FDR and JFK. But today those old union guys are mostly dead, dying or Republican.)
Democratic leaders in Washington are in a worse position than Republican leaders in Washington. Neither likes their base, really, and both think they are smarter. But the Democrats think, deep down, that their base is barking mad. The Republicans don't. They just think their base is a bore.
Yeah, that is exactly what I thought. Barking Mad. You can't hardly have a conversation without a conspiracy theory or two popping out. Of course, there is the xenophobic over reaction of the Republican base as well demanding crazy immigration enforcement and telling our allies we don't trust them to manage parts of our business platforms and ports when we have Chinese running ports seems, well, nearly as barking mad. But, not quite. I'm afraid every time some lunatic tells me that the President either let 9/11 happen or participated in setting it up in order to commit war, I feel my sanity level teeter dangerously close to manic a$$ kicking.OpinionJournal - Peggy Noonan
Traditional war is always viewed from the perspective of "enemy" and "allies" with two armed forces meeting in pitched battle to obtain or retain land, to force the enemy to accede to the oppositions political objectives, to obtain wealth or resources, etc, etc, etc. That is until fourth generation warfare. Insurgencies, global terrorism, violent idealists fueled by blackmarket arms and drug sells, spurred on by idealogues who spread their message via new technologies from satellite TV to email to websites to cell phones to CDs and books, etc, etc, etc. For the most part, people don't really understand how this kind of war is fought.
Most people have heard the phrase "hearts and minds", but really have no idea what that means or how it applies in a fourth generation warfare setting. If they think about it at all, they imagine it is about images, like in advertising or propaganda posters or shaking hands or handing out candy to kids. The scope of this kind of war is hard to grasp. The outcome is even more difficult. Concepts of "victory" do not have commanders of two armies sitting down at a conference table and hacking out terms of truce or surrender. For the most part, people not only do not know how the war is being fought, but what it looks like or when it is over. The media does not talk about it as part of the war because they don't understand it either. They think of war like most people think of war: explosions, soldiers, bullets, wounded and dead. In this case, in the war you don't know exists, the wounded and dying are idealogues and ideologies. The weapons are wallets, credit cards and cash. The Bullets are western products through which western ideas are infiltrated into states, societies and cultures. The Atomic Bomb is the interglobal communications networks represented by cell phones, internet and satellite dishes.
Because few look for it or understand it, there are no university or military academy classes that can teach you how to conduct this truly "shadow" war. However, in many respects, the war goes on every day, it's barely directed, it's conducted largely by private corporations and individuals and you don't even know it. It's something we became rather good at during the Cold War. It actually contributed greatly to the demise of the Soviet Union without a nuke fired.
How do you know if you're winning the war? In traditional war, it's body counts, land secured, enemy leaders deposed or captured or "taking the flag" off the capital building. Maybe it's knocking down a statue of the leader and finally pulling him from a rat hole.
This is how most people see the war:
But the war really looks like this:
I know, you think you've seen this picture of the late "master mind of terror" Abu Musab al Zarqawi. You might even know it is from the "bloopers" reel that showed him unable to operate an American Made Machine Gun. You may have even heard comments about his terrorist fashion faux pas of wearing white sneakers with his black ninja mujihadeen uniform. But look at the picture through the eyes of the "other war", the ideological, informational and economic war:
Did you see it? Did you see the hidden war? Look again:
These shoes were reported to be American tennis shoes made in Godless China, shipped via Singapore and purchased at an apostate mall in Jordan or hijacked from a delivery truck driven by a third world national into Iraq and sold on the black market for the all mighty American Dollar. It's probably not the "product placement" the company would have liked to have, but it serves its purpose.
Why is this so important?
First, you must understand the ideological war of the Islamist, particularly, the Salafist Sunni. This Islamist, embodied by the likes of Zawahiri, Osama bin Laden, Qardawi and the late Qutb, believes that the demise of the Islamic Ummah is coming at the hands of the West, not by guns and bullets, but by our ideas and products (ideas and products that go hand in hand) that infiltrate the Ummah and corrupt it. What they fear most is the turning away of the youth from the traditional, fundamentalist Islam they adhere to towards anything that is secular and materialistic. Even without guns or bullets or bombs, Islamists believed that the US and West in general were already at war with the Islamic Ummah and trying to destroy it through these very means.
Why do you think the 19 Hijackers of 9/11 flew planes into the World Trade Centers; the economic center of the United States? They recognize our economic power not only fuels our ability to maintain military hegemony, but is part and parcel of our idea of free, capitalistic economy and society. It is the power we have to negotiate deals and maintain our allies' viability. Whatever our economic fortunes, so goes the fortunes of the world. And, wherever our products go, so do our ideas.
So, what does it mean to have had the head Islamist terrorist in Iraq wearing a pair of American sneakers?
Let's go back in history for a moment. What caused the collapse of the USSR? Most people recognize that the collapse did not come from military defeat (contrary to the claims of the Islamist offspring of the Mujihadeen from the Afghan/Russo War). It was an economic collapse that led to the final dissolution. Depending on what aisle of the political sphere you ask, the reasons for this collapse are attributed to high national and political activities. The right will tell you that it was brought on by Reagan increasing military spending which caused the USSR to try to match our spending on weapons which their economy could not support. The left will tell you that the political and economic system was always flawed and the collapse was inevitable.
Those were definitely important over all concepts (even the mujihadeen's claims have some merit). But the collapse came from below, from the streets and from the wallet of common Soviet Citizens. I remember the report clearly, but also remember that I did not completely recognize the significance at the time. I believe it was 1989 or '90, right before the collapse post attempts at "Perastroika" or reformation. The report talked about the rise of the black market in Moscow. The most popular items? Levi Jeans and Music. Michael Jackson was very popular.
How were these items purchased? American Dollars. The black market circumvented the official economic process and took the revenue right out of the pockets of the government, putting it in the hands of small businessmen. It was an ad hoc free market. Capitalism at its most laissez faire. Of course, it included books, toys, televisions and every other sort of product we could produce. With every item purchased, the idea of capitalism and freedom came with it in a subliminal message wrapped up in packaging and transferred through osmosis as it was held in the hand of its new owner. Even if it was a coke that only lasted ten minutes or a song that lasted three, it was all that it took for the dream to be implanted.
The day you knew that war was won? The day the first McDonald's was opened in Moscow. Everything after that was just the formal process of dismantling "the Bear".
Again, why is it important that the number one most wanted Islamist Terrorist in Iraq was wearing American shoes? Because not even he can escape the power. For all the bluster about "infiltration of Western influences" and the destruction of the Ummah at the hands of materialistic, capitalist, freedom, he and those like him, turn out to be hypocrits. In the most subtle manner that even the "watchers" did not catch, he destroyed the very basis of the ideology he professes.
Here it is again:
In Afghanistan or the KFC in Pakistan or the Hyatt in Riyadh or the kid riding his BMX in Bahrain or the teenager walking down the street in Meccah wearing Nikes, listening to his iPod, dreaming about dating Brittney, humming to Metallica, wearing his baggy Tommy Hilfiger jeans like 50 cent and his Adidas sweatshirt, walking to the local mall (courtesy of a US construction company), carrying his LL Bean backpack that holds his underground copy of Hunter S. Thompson, thinking about flagging down a Ford Crown Victoria Taxi while drinking a Pepsi.
Talk about packaging selling the "company". Red, white and blue Pepsi cans say "America" like nothing else can. It's the subliminal message no one else will every pull off and it is courtesy of American corporations and the American worker. It's why, regardless of any issue with "American Foreign Policy", you can ask an Arab on the streets of Riyadh or an Egyptian in Cairo how they feel about America and they will inevitably say how they "like America" and the "American people" even if they hate our "government" or "policies".
It is the subtle war that we win every day. They want what we have and they want to be us they just don't like to recognize consciously that the way to be us is to be free, to allow free enterprise and the free flow of information. But they do and they will.
Somewhere out there someone is decrying this very fact. Whether they see it as part of the American Hegemony or corporatist take over of the world or the destruction of culture, they understand the hidden war better than most Americans, but refuse to recognize its benefits or the reality of global economics.
Somewhere out there, an Islamist jihadist is sitting at his Dell computer (American company with parts from China, sent via Singapore and assembled in India) showing his friends the latest propaganda video. What he doesn't realize is that he has played his part in our propaganda war as his friends admire his American computer and plan to get one, the word "American" has been subliminally burned into their minds at a billion images per second even while they believe they are simply looking at the work of like minded idealogues who routinely tell them about the evils of the West. Whether that computer was purchased on the blackmarket or from a legitimate retailer, it's a sure bet that some of his money went back to the corporation. Just as grievous to his cause as the subtle propaganda message he relayed at viewing his computer, the money that bought the machine is fueling the very system and machinery that will destroy his ideology and maybe the jihadist himself one day.
Zarqawi was killed recently and people believe that this should send a message to the Jihadists about the probability of being found and destoyed. However, the Jihadist Islamist should see the picture of Zarqawi in his American sneakers and be afraid, be very afraid.
You want to defeat a nuclear Iran that is reaping double revenues by making statements which destabilize the oil market? Cold War, but faster. We don't have to send in the B 117. Flood their markets with cheap American goods via blackmarkets that only accept American Dollars. Send them CDs and CD players and microwaves. Smuggle in music and books.
Send them Levis and let the best ideology win.
Cross posted at the Castle
Wednesday, June 21, 2006
Still, Abdallah persists in Baghdad. "Iraqis are so committed to our country - it's something in our hearts," he says. "It's not like the Lebanese who go to Brazil, or the Philippinas who go here and there."
The good news, Abdallah says, is that his students "are even more committed to learning than before." The bad news is that, "in the back of their minds, they all want to go abroad."
And his patients? Even when he goes to a conference outside Iraq for a few days, the message is the same, says Abdallah: "Doctor, please don't leave us."
Why many of Iraq's elite don't flee | csmonitor.com
Tuesday, June 20, 2006
Japan ordered the withdrawal of its ground troops from Iraq on Tuesday, declaring the humanitarian mission a success and ending a groundbreaking dispatch that tested the limits of its pacifist postwar constitution.
Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi said the troops - deployed in early 2004 - had helped rebuild the infrastructure of the area where they were based, and he pledged further aid to Iraqi reconstruction.
"Today we have decided to withdraw Ground Self-Defense Forces from the Samawah region in Iraq," Koizumi said in a nationally televised news conference. "The humanitarian dispatch ... has achieved its mission."
He offered no timetable for the withdrawal, but Defense chief Fukushiro Nukaga told reporters earlier in the day that the pullout would take "several dozen days."
Koizumi has been a vocal supporter of U.S. policy in Iraq, arguing that the dispatch was needed to aid reconstruction, secure oil supplies and bolster ties with Washington. He is to travel to Washington for a summit with President George W. Bush the last week in June, before stepping down in September.
But, it's not quite over.
Japan will now consider expanding Air Self-Defense operations in Iraq to include transport of medical supplies and U.N. personnel, following a request from U.N. General-Secretary Kofi Annan, said Takenori Kanzaki, head of the ruling party's coalition partner, the New Komei Party.
"Even after the withdrawal from Iraq, we must continue the efforts to support Iraq," he told reporters.
Interesting, the withdrawal of Japanese troops leads to Australian Troops Redeploying Inside Iraq for "More Dangerous Missions".
>Defence Minister Brendan Nelson said that 460 soldiers currently guarding Japanese engineers in the southern city of Samawa would move soon to the nearby city of Tallil.
They would provide back-up and training for Iraqi forces who are set to take control of the southern province of Al-Muthanna, and help secure the dangerous Syrian border, Nelson said.
The move is politically sensitive for Howard's government, which backed the US-led offensive in Iraq in the face of widespread public opposition.
Protests have faded and the issue has largely slipped from the headlines in recent months, largely because Australia has suffered only one fatality in Iraq.
But the new mission near the volatile city of Nasiriyah, where roadside bombings by insurgents are commonplace, is likely to be more dangerous.
Thirty-one Italian soldiers stationed in Nasiriyah have been killed and Rome plans to withdraw its contingent, once the fourth largest in Iraq, by the end of the year.
We may not like some statements from the Democrats, but with Opposition like this in Australia, maybe we should feel lucky: Opposition Demands Intelligence Info on New Iraq Deployment of troops. I know, you must be thinking like I was thinking, "Say What?"
Nine Lives (My guess is, no one wanted to sign their name to an op-ed based on a sensitive and secret state department cable). Best line:
Nine lives do not tell the story of an entire country, nor is the cable reason to bring troops home. Other measures paint a brighter picture. Nevertheless, for those who wonder whom to believe in Iraq, the U.S. ambassador reporting privately about the lives of the Iraqis closest to him is a source that can hardly be ignored.
Don't expect reporting on the "other measures" because you might actually get context. Don't ask about the 30 or 50 other employees, either.
Don't get me wrong because I have heard the other indicators about hijabs and such (of course, since the beginning, it's been dangerous to work for the new government; ask the first president).
Democrats and Iraq Plans
This one is crazy: "one to pull out U.S. combat forces by July 2007"
This one is basically a regurgitation of Republican Plans except the Dems aren't afraid to give a date and tell the enemy their plans: "and another to begin withdrawing this year without a deadline for completion."
On one hand, I can understand Levin's point:
"Three and a half years into the conflict, we should tell the Iraqis that the American security blanket is not permanent," said Sen. Carl Levin
On the other, it would be very silly to leave the place full of nut balls that will use the place as a staging ground (not like it's not happening now, but at least we can reach in and get them; they don't get to rest - not like a withdrawal)
But, really, the entire thing is a political manouver. No Democrat that really has a clue about national security, securing the region and it's resources or terrorist threats is going to seriously give a deadline even if they are pretending to stand on principle.
Levin's measure had support from most Senate Democrats, who shied away from setting a deadline for a pullout out of fear of a full-scale Iraqi civil war.
Or worse. These measures are simply the latest to stir up their anti-war base before the mid term elections. Does anyone actually believe they mean it? Except these two and they are just about as stupid as Murtha's "redeploy a QRF to Okinawa" comment:
In a statement, Kerry and Feingold said a deadline "gives Iraqis the best chance for stability and self-government" and "allows us to begin refocusing on the true threats that face our country."
Does Kerry actually know what the true threats are or does he still believe we should negotiate with the Vietcong or whatever group he thinks is fighting in Iraq?
Of course, a few more soldiers are being considered for court martial in regards to the death of three Iraqis. I read the report and the coalition press release actually said they were "charged" though article 32s had not yet been brought against them. So, one could wonder who is confused about the legal process, but we'll leave it at that. I am waiting for more info just as I wait on the Marines. The fact that we are hearing about these charges more often doesn't necessarily mean more or less activity in this regards, but more sensitivity to how the war needs to be fought and to the political implications of cover up. Thus, the military is starting to insure the process that is supposed to be in place for investigating civilian deaths is now followed and enforced. Whether it means more charges, courts martial or convictions remains to be seen, but I do expect more investigations and more press releases.
Update: Two Soldiers Found Slain
Nothing official yet on the hows and why fors. Indications of booby traps around the bodies and that the men were dead before being moved to that location. Besides that, how, when and where is still unannounced.
Two Soldiers Remain Missing
Before anyone gets more het up than they should, the first thing we should understand in a propaganda/information war, after striking Zarqawi and rounding up hundreds of insurgents/terrorists (killing plenty in the process) with real evidence they could be weakened, AQ had to pull off something big to show they are still relevant. It's chess in the press. Are they still as capable as they say or tried to prove? Probably not, but it does indicate that either these troops were too fresh to be on checkpoint (two humvees left a third?) or they got lacadaisical after the big strike and so many troops near by performing missions.
I think the important, buried news is in this paragraph:
Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki said Iraqi forces would take control of the country's southernmost province from a British-led multinational force in July.
Maliki hailed it as a first step toward Iraqi forces taking responsibility for their own security.
But Muthanna province is relatively quiet and is much easier to hand over than the violence-racked oil port city of Basra to the east or Sunni Arab insurgent strongholds further north like Yusufiya, where the two U.S. soldiers went missing.
U.S. troops tried to establish positions in south Ramadi, one of the most troublesome Sunni insurgent strongholds. A Reuters witness saw seven U.S. tanks rumbling along the streets.
Al Muthana is where the Australians are going to redeploy near in order to provide continued training and support for Iraq forces.
Albright Says Iraq Invasion Encouraged Iran and North Korea to go ahead with Nuke plans.
In all honesty, I've always liked Madeleine Albright and I don't consider her to be completely wrong on many subjects, particularly her outspoken ideas on democracy and freedom abroad. Even in her above statement, she's not completely wrong, but she is, as they say, playing politics. The truth is, these two nations have been going after nuclear capabilities long before the Bush even thought about running for President. Anyone who has any clue about nuclear physics knows you just don't pop off a nuclear plant every year and create weapons within a year or two.
What has really happened is that these two countries have felt emboldened to go public with their programs and thumb their noses hoping to get public support instead of condemnation and sanctions. The US, for its part, has decided that Iran does not have the kind of support that NK does from China and we have a few less obligations or economic issues (thought China is certainly concerned with Iranian oil and natural gas). Time to draw the line, particularly against nuclear proliferation in the ME and South East Asia. Pakistan and India are enough.
Nukes don't keep you from getting invaded per se, but certainly political and economic concerns can keep people from being invaded as well.
Here's what the enemy does: Suicide Bomber hits Senior Citizen Home
And here you can read the continuing saga of who is to blame for the failed intelligence that led to the Iraq invasion. Half of which is partisan BS and half may be the truth, but I find one part really egregious in the BS department:
That's what makes their critique of the administration's intelligence handling so sobering. One of then-Secretary of State Colin Powell's aides describes how, as the White House's contentions about Saddam's weapons collapsed one by one, he typed out a resignation letter and kept it in his desk drawer, pulling it out each morning like a home remedy for guilt hangovers. ''It was a blow to me . . . It really affected me,'' the aide says of the realization that much of the administration's intelligence was faulty.
The words I find most egregious? "The Administrations Intelligence". Now, it is a fact that this administration was in office and authorized war against Iraq, but to declare the intelligence solely the perview of this "administration" is really pushing the line. The fact is, anyone who has been a sentient being past the age of 16 in 1991 should know the history of Iraq and that the lead up to war was eleven years, not six months. I'm always interested in the idea that it all started in the post 9/11 world. Maybe it would be better to indicate the catalyst existed in post 9/11 and in this administration, but the lead up and intelligence spanned three administrations, innumerable investigations and attempts at investigations on Iraq WMD over 11 years and several known attempts AND successes at hiding WMD, plants and other resources from the inspections. Not to mention the hundred or so targeting and attacks on UN mandated flights over Iraq and the broken sanctions (courtesy of a number of alleged allies).
I'm not going to write it all. Read John Fund for the rest of the concept. But, if we're looking for the fall guys, look no further than this blog and the other 74% who originally supported the war in Iraq because we are the people that heard, saw and read any number of things on Iraq over the course of 11 years and bet on Iraq needing to be "finished". That includes Democrats, of which I was for over 17 years of my life. I certainly didn't support the invasion as a "Bushite" as I've been called. I really couldn't have cared less who was in the Presidency.
However, I would read this because it is a fairly sober review of the situation leading up to it. However, anyone who supported the war then and now wants to blame anyone else but themselves for starting it is, well, full of BS.
Best line though?
The lack of verifiable information meant that a lot of American assumptions about Saddam were deduced from his behavior rather than based on hard evidence. The best reason to think he had WMDs was that he kept kicking out the UN inspectors who were looking for them. And, with the wounds of Sept. 11 still raw, the Bush administration was leery of taking a chance. As Condoleezza Rice said many times, no one wanted the smoking gun to be giving off a mushroom cloud over New York. That line of reasoning isn't refuted in Frontline, simply ignored.
So, you want to know why I supported and still support the war regardless of the outcomes of searches for WMD? You just read it.
Monday, June 19, 2006
Update: False Alarm. Not going on Hiatus until later this week. Stand by for firm date. I am still looking for guest bloggers (even my friend Scott).
I am going on blog Hiatus for a few days. Please feel free to visit any people on the blogrolls on the side or read any of the thousands of posts I've done before. I may have guest posters so be sure to visit everyday.
Be back to full swing at the beginning of next week where I will continue to discuss "The Fog of War" and any developments on the war front.
I'm praying for the guys who were taken prisoner. Let us hope that they are returned safely and pray for their families.
In the meantime, my favorites are:
John at the Castle
Iraq the Model
Part I: War is Cruelty
Whether reading from the left or the right (politically) you can always find a comparison from one war or the other to the current conflict. In fact, when reading military treatise or even operations planning, failures and successes are used to evaluate and develop the concepts for fighting a war.
The reasons for war change very little. Whether reading Homer's Iliad, reviewing heiroglyphics of Egyptian Pharoahs at war, the Romans v. Carthagenians, Chinese consolidation of Empire or defense against the Mongols, the Moguls of India, the Zulu of Africa, Medieval expansionism, Revolution, Civil War, 20th Century World Wars or proxy wars or modern 21st Century Fourth Generation Warfare; study them all and the causes and effects, the political rivalries between foes or even within the same camps, the movements of armies, the monetary cost, the material cost, the political cost, the strategic, the tactical, etc, etc, etc. Look into any of these wars and one could find something similar in the current effort to compare favorably or negatively.
None of the arguments or comparisons are convincing as to the ethics or efficacy of the war alone. For the most part they serve as bench marks by which we can evaluate, but hardly serve as the definitive by which to determine the status of a war.
For instance, one could point to Roman history or evaluate the political and territorial fall out of the Punic Wars or the break up of the Roman Empire into East and West. Or maybe the Trojan War which starts with the alleged kidnapping of a wife and ends as a territorial fight with political power implications within the Greek camp. Thus, whatever romantacism is applied to war, the purpose of war rarely changes. It is either defense against attacks or offense to control territory. The purpose of these acts are always within three spheres: security, land and resources. Wars often include all three because all three are necessary to fight and win a war, much less for reasons to begin a war. In fact, land and resources can be rolled into the singular "security" because without either, you have none.
The difference may simply be summed up into a Clausewitz concept: the political objective. The will to fight and the amount of force, resources and manpower are dependent on how strongly one believes in the political objective. War is the use of force used to force the foe to comply with demands or bend to the political objective. However strong or weak the belief in, need of or support for the political objective, so goes the force and the ability to make the foe submit to your will.
It's a very straight forward concept. It is written in a very logical and simplistic language, breaking down the concepts to be consumed in a cool and reasonable manner. However this concept is presented with cool, level headed logic and reasoning, war is hardly ever committed in such a fashion. It is almost always committed with passion, a passion that is more closely felt by the man on the battle field and all those with and against him. A man rarely commits to battle where he maintains objectivity and cool logic once the battle is met. It is all adrenaline, blood pumping insanity most people would not recognize in themselves on any other given day.
Thus is war ever the same.
But, every war is different. The Political Objective is accepted or rejected, supported or subordinated. The actors have different passions and conceptions; comprehend history and ideas differently, act on the battle field differently. Even if you could sit down with every war in history and know every success and failure in advance, imagining a set formula that demands a set answer (1+1=2), it doesn't exist because there is no guarantee that the foe will act in a specific manner to what seems to be set, straightforward actions. There is no formula that guarantees a win or loss of a battle. There is no formula which can predict with 100% accuaracy how the foe will act or even one's own forces under the stress of battle. Can a commander execute exactly the order and concept of battle conceived by a commander or is he not subject to the actions and will of his opponent as well as his own actions and will?
There are no guarantees in war. That is the only thing that remains the same.
In the Beginning
During the documentary, McNamara discussed how he was tapped for the position of Secretary of Defense. John F. Kennedy won the election and was innaugurated in 1961. McNamara had just been tapped to be President of Ford Motor Company after successfully applying the concepts of statistical analysis he had used during World War II to turn the company around and stop its losses. He was approached for the position of Secretary of the Treasury first, but turned it down. In his own words he said that, while he was good with numbers, finance had never been his strong point. Kennedy then offered him the position of Secretary of Defense even though McNamara had limited experience.
McNamara did not know or did not dane to explain why Kennedy was insistent on having him within his administration but it is clear that he was looking for proficient technocrats that would bolster his administration and balance out the nepotism and political cronyism that is usual within elected administrations. Further, it is also clear that John F. Kennedy was looking for people who would fit into what he considered a "transformative" administration. Transformation may be a modern watchword for the current military make over, but Kennedy was making the same moves in 1961. According to Wikipedia:
Kennedy rejected the concept of first-strike attack and emphasized the need for adequate strategic arms and defense to deter nuclear attack on the United States and its allies. U.S. arms, he maintained, must constantly be under civilian command and control, and the nation's defense posture had to be "designed to reduce the danger of irrational or unpremeditated general war." The primary mission of U.S. overseas forces, in cooperation with allies, was "to prevent the steady erosion of the Free World through limited wars." Kennedy and McNamara rejected massive retaliation for a posture of flexible response. The United States wanted choices in an emergency other than "inglorious retreat or unlimited retaliation," as the president put it. Out of a major review of the military challenges confronting the United States initiated by McNamara in 1961 came a decision to increase the nation's limited warfare capabilities. These moves were significant because McNamara was abandoning Eisenhower's policy of massive retaliation in favor of a flexible response strategy that relied on increased U.S. capacity to conduct limited, non-nuclear warfare.
While the concepts of limited warfare and transforming the military to be able to act in such a way is reflected in today's modern transformation and Department of Defense, the reasons are no longer reflective. In fact, it could be considered a direct opposite. Where Kennedy wanted to "prevent the steady erosion of the Free World through limited wars" (ie, resist Communist Expansionism), today's purpose is to assist in expanding the "Free World" though both of the concepts fall under the main objective of ensuring United States Security. The battle then was to resist being surrounded or cut off in certain regions by the upsurge of Communist nations, particularly in regions that either threatened our borders, thus security, physically or threatened the availability or control of resources that would indirectly threaten US security. Kennedy understood that massive war with the USSR would have no good outcome and, while Eisenhower had looked at war with the USSR through this scope, the USSR had been fighting another war all together which was the slow, barely under the radar expansion into small countries in strategic areas, slowly strangling the United States and its free allies. Proxy wars we call them now, but it was the wars or, better yet, battles the USSR had chosen to fight.
It required less money, less materials and less exposure of the homeland, national forces and resources.
In many people's minds, this represents the first similarity between history and now: once again looking at and transforming for small wars. Once again, the idea is to combat the erosion of freedom (though, more accurately, it is the expansion of freedom but people often feel more passionate about defending something than giving it where it might not be accepted). There is no longer a huge overshadowing foe with a single ideology that must be met and defeated. In many respects, that made the effort that much easier because, while information war (or propaganda) had to be tailored to specific areas, the ideology to be combatted was the same and provided a formula of sorts for action.
Today, every region has its own ideological vagaries. In Venezuela where Chavez is manouvering to cut off the free press, nationalize businesses and position himself as an emergency dicatator for life (now we can see similarities there in the emergence of nationalist dictators who come to power under false pretenses, rigged or limited elections and generally run an autocratic thugocracy where their power is from intimindation). In Indonesia, separatist and nationalist Islamists want and Islamic state based on their own ideologies. Afghans may or may not support the taliban and Iranians may or may not want to continue to live under Islamist rules while China continues its psuedo capitalist/communist government and alleged Democracies such as Russia see all the gains of freedom such as the press and elections, slowly evaporating back into the grasps of ex-Communist Buearocrats whose ideology is neither compellingly simple or completely comprehensive.
In short, there is no key to world freedom nor clear path on which to traverse, only the confusing path between all of the individuals, nations and ideologies who continue to play a part in the over all strategic requirement for national security. If there is one difference that must be pointed to between the here and now, this is it. We might still need to be able to fight "small wars" and these wars might, in the end, be for the over all security of the United States, but the ideas and the foes are not the same. Everyone is different and will require a different response.
At some point, McNamara believes he understands it and many others would believe they have made that leap, but, in the end, most people are stuck in the last war (including civilians, politicians and even generals and general staff officers).
That is another point that remains the same.
In short, people often accuse the military and its leaders of never being ready for the next war or always fighting the last war, but it is also true of the body politic: we are always fighting the last war. That's a mistake that usually leads to very mixed outcomes at the beginning of war and, unless the true transformation of, not only the military, but the body politic occurs, unless some very creative and, dare I say "risk taking", individuals are elected or appointed to leadership positions, it's possible to lose this war.
Tigerhawk posted on this theme: the fourth mutation
A viable system of Jihadi force-generation within the West would have the effect of shifting the battlespace away from South Asia, the Middle East and the Horn of Africa and into mainstreet USA. It will have the further effect of shifting the mode of combat away from military operations to cultural, religious and political warfare. The Washington Post almost accidentally destroyed the Vietnam metaphor singlehandedly by noting that the number of airstrikes in support of military operations in Iraq was so low that it actually amounted to half the air support provided in Afghanistan.[snip]
Iraq is no doubt a war, but it's a different war from what it is imagined to be. One of these days the MSM is going to discover that neither OIF nor the War on Terror bears any but the most passing resemblance to Vietnam. That occurred on a different continent, against another enemy over another ideology with a different type of warfare and in another century. Once an aging generation stops looking for napalm, punji sticks, carpet bombing, air strikes and helicopters in the headlines they may realize that that this war is being fought with propaganda, networks, educational systems, religion and nerve gas anywhere and everywhere. In word, it is being fought on a basis that the Western mind is not prepared to contemplate.
Even though, I might add, we live in a world that is filled with advertisements, subliminal placing of products in movies and packaging that is tested and marketed with the intent of gaining our attention, even subconsciously, we still somehow believe that an information war is not real war or not ethical or is too damaging to our own psyche and concepts of free will that we cannot undertake it or we commit only half assed resources and concepts generally derailing any efficacy.
Someone recently told me that the truth always wins and that all we need is to have a clear, consistent message of the truth to combat the enemy information war. If that isn't the biggest, fattest self-induced delusion, I don't know what is. Really, that flies in the face of all historical facts. If you want to compare Iraq and Vietnam, try this on for size: the enemy lies and the world press (including ours) buys it hook line and sinker. If there is an important lesson to learn from Vietnam, this one is surely it. If you don't believe half what one side tells you and you consistently work to debunk anything they tell you (even if it is part of an over all strategic work to make the enemy believe you and act in a way that you want them to), but, when the enemy gives a press release, video or other statement, you simply print it verbatim and imagine that the people you have just been telling that their government lies to them (as if they were the target of disinformation campaigns) will some how also believe the other side is a liar (someone has to be telling the truth, if it's not your side, then it is the other) without expressing the idea that they lie, what are people going to believe?
There is the similarity once again between now and Vietnam. No one is interested in the truth, just their opinions of it.