WHAT ARE THE CHOICES?
Re: Jed Babbin's Dress Rehearsal:
A lot of people waste a lot of ink (or space) on totally inane commentary. Wasted time reading the blather too.
But Jed Babbin's column of the 24th was probably the most concise, no nonsense, valid and reasoned appraisal of the Middle East situation yet -- should be required reading for Dubya and Condi and the others who suffer from indecision, cowardice, or terminal drooling.
Exceptional work, Jed -- continued success!
-- Geoff Brandt
Jed Babbin is off the mark.
First, he does not mention Iran's near term objective with the Hizbullah attack on Israel, which is very likely to provide cover for a surge of forces into Iraq to attack the Sunnis and cause a breakdown of the current effort to build a civil society. That would deal us a blow, perhaps a decisive one in Iraq. The timing makes sense both for the situation in Iraq and for the coming elections in November. The Administration's strongest card is that we are making sufficient progress "standing up" the Iraqis that we can start withdrawing troops. A collapse of the Iraqi security apparatus would be the equivalent of Dien Bien Phu or Tet.
Jed Babbin does not provide the military analysis of Hizbullah which I would very much have liked to hear. Absent that, it is not clear to an observer why Israel is not in a position to pick the bones of Hizbullah clean. Yes, I would expect that would take time, which I assume is why so many observers are anxious to tie Israel to some timetable measured in days or weeks, which is absurd. Why any timetable at all? Perhaps it will take months or even a year or more. So what? It is a question of survival for Israel. It has now been attacked in its homeland on an entirely unprovoked basis -- there were no Jews in Lebanon. So the issue is clear. Let's hope the Israeli's have the fiber to do what is necessary. I expect they will.
I think the Bush Administration has signaled that it is simply going through the motions with Condi's visit -- international kabuki. I think that is further signaled by having a conference in Rome, hardly the heart of darkness if Middle East issues are to be discussed; and perhaps subtle symbolism if any of the Muslim countries are going to participate, since Rome represents the pre-Islamic secular power in the Middle East and is, of course, the home of the most elaborate of the Christian churches.
I think the Bush Administration is being steadfast. We simply have to expect that we are in a long slog. Yes, Ahmadinejad very likely has his plans. So did Hitler. That does not mean he is going to be able to carry them out. If Israel does its duty and wipes out Hizbullah and if we can hold the line in Iraq, we will weather this storm. The solution to Ahmadihejad is not invasion of Iran, bur rather what might be called the Ceaucescu option -- internal revolt against a hated regime that hangs its citizens -- particularly its young ones -- from cranes in the public squares.
It is a mistake, under the guise of analysis, to identify and embrace the defeatist position. I know that is not the intent of Jed Babbin's column, but one of the things we must do is to remain firm behind the Administration and the troops, even if events go against us temporarily. Our sending bunker buster bombs to Israel is, I think, a demonstration of the mistake of the opposition in taking both of us on at the same time.
In the words of Winston Churchill, what we have to do now is to "move forward into the storm, and through the storm."
-- Greg Richards
Excellent article. It's not over until the fat lady sings, and, boys, she is getting ready to take the stage...
We need to warm up the B2's, and start them on the flight to change the world as we know it. It's better to fight now, when we can probably avoid the loss of an American city or two, than to wait until we have already lost the city.
Of course, our ****** politicians and the usual pathetic state department guys think that everything can, somehow, be solved by talk and a cease fire. My long departed father told me years ago, that if you are in the middle of a dogfight, you'd better use a club, and be non-partisan about it, or you're going to get bit.
Bush is worried about his legacy. He should be. 2009 is a long way off, and I don't think Iran can be ignored that long...
-- R. Goodson
Vero Beach, Florida
I believe we do have some choices beyond taking it on the chin or turning Iran into a glass parking lot:
1) Make trouble for the Syrians. Northern Syria is heavily populated by Kurds. Tell the Turks to stand down and let the Kurds make as much trouble as they can.
2) The Iranians are on less stable ground than the Iraqis. The Iraqis have a duly elected popular government which the Iranians do not. There is still time to foment civil war there. But just barely enough. We dally too long and the opportunity will close.
3) As a long shot, arrange a provocation at sea between us and the Iranians sufficient to provide us cover for a response. In such a limited engagement it would give us the basis for eliminating the sea-lane threat at a time and opportunity of our choosing.
-- John McGinnis
I believe that Mr. Babbin has it pretty darn close to 100% right.
In the time between Mr. Bush's extremely ill-advised "Mission Accomplished" speech on the aircraft carrier and today, he has played a very squishy, politically correct, game of war fighting in Iraq. This has cost us more in dead, maimed, and treasure than it should have, and has totally failed in convincing our foe that we are a serious threat.
I am very afraid that the Islamic/Arab world still sees us as eminently beatable by a force that is single minded, dedicated, and in it for the long haul. Our general citizenry gives me pause to doubt our long-term commitment and wonder if maybe the Islamists are not at least partially right. I believe that our general population MAY have a confirmed case of Attention Deficit Disorder.
I just hope that the POTUS taking office in January of 2009 will inherit a situation that is correctable and that he/she will have the spinal steeliness to do what is right and necessary for the good of the country, politics be damned.
-- Ken Shreve
Mr. Babbin's writing is insightful, as always. He has an interesting and well thought out scenario in place to explain the current situation in the Middle East. It may very well be entirely accurate.
But, in my opinion, the situation is a little more complex. Think of a chess match. Now increase the players from two, to, say, twelve. Give each player multiple boards so that they are playing against every other player simultaneously. Now increase the number of boards again so that each player is playing against every other player on at least three boards (diplomatic, economic, military and add any others that strike your fancy). Now to make it really interesting, shield some of the boards from each player's view so that he is unable to gauge the relationships between the other players. Now allow cheating. And finally, make the rules unclear at best. Welcome to the world in the 21st century.
Confused? I am. The point to all of this is that future courses are extremely unclear. It is possible to be distracted by one, or more, boards or opponents. It is also possible to misjudge exactly who is your most dangerous adversary. In the short term, Iran and North Korea are our main adversaries. In the long term, China and Russia loom. And do not forget things closer to home. Venezuela and Mexico have their own agendas that could have a serious negative impact upon our nation. The current Israeli problems hold the attention, but do not neglect the other boards around you. There are multiple games in play.
In the case of Israel v. Hezbollah, Hamas, et al; it would benefit not only Israel but the U.S., the EU and the Arab states to have Hezbollah and Hamas completely wiped out. To achieve that goal, without precipitating very negative consequences for us, is going to require the greatest chess master the world has ever known. We'll just have to see if one exists.
-- Michael Tobias
Ft. Lauderdale, Florida
Mr. Babbin is absolutely correct. Iran is the real culprit here. Israel had been assured by its Arab neighbors that if it gave up land, they would have peace. Iran vetoed that agreement. Iran wants no peace in the mid-east if the plan includes Israel. They are the one un-stabilizing force in the entire area. Take on Iran, and things quiet down all over the Mideast including Iraq. Iran has clearly demonstrated that they have surrendered any right to nuclear technology of any kind. It is up to the U.S. to destroy their nuclear, military and communication facilities. There is nothing like wave after wave of B-52's to bring about regime change or at least serious negotiations.
-- Charles Chase
Supposing that Jed Babbin is one 100 percent correct about Iranian intentions, they mean to build and head a new Caliphate. Or at least Ahmadinejad and his crew want to.
But they are Shias. Shias, however fanatical, represent about 20-25% of the billion or so Muslims alive today. The office of Caliph confers the claim to head all Islam- that is, 80% Sunnis. Now even the Sunnis who don't want to shoot the Shias on sight still think the Shias are heretics, or at best wrongly guided.
The traditional Muslim view is that the right to rule is derived from correct conformance with the will of God. The modern democratic view is the majority vote.
Either way, how could the Iranians pull this off?
-- Martin Owens
Mr. Babbin's analysis is interesting. I would suggest just one change in policy: have Egypt instead of Saudi Arabia send troops to Lebanon. After all, we've paid two billion dollars per year since 1978 to build up the Egyptian military. Isn't it about time we got something for our money?
-- Roger D. McKinney
Broken Arrow, Oklahoma
Ben Stein's column of July 21, 2006 is pinpoint-accurate. The only things left to add to Mr. Stein's erudite analysis are 1) the New York Times and other media report that Hezbollah herd Lebanese civilians into underground "shelters" (really, just parking lots), where Hezbollah serves as the sole source of food, water, and information from the outside; 2) a bit from an interview I heard years ago with a woman who survived the bombing of Dresden as a child. She blamed the Allies, even at the time of the interview (sometime in the 1990's to mark the 50th anniversary). Not the Nazis, not Hitler.
-- Beverly E. Barton
West Orange, New Jersey
The letter from Svlad Jelly defies all logic and reason. To imply that Hezbollah is more ethical and righteous because they have actually killed more soldiers than the Israeli army is preposterous. Let's look at the undisputable facts:
* The uniformed Israeli military are based in separate areas from the general civilian population, while the Hezbollah "fighters" fight from within the civilian population and dress as civilians.
* The Israeli military targets Hezbollah the best they can and attack them, while Hezbollah deliberately aims missiles into the civilian populations of Israel.
* Israel citizens are required by law to build bomb shelters, and that has saved many of their own civilian's lives. Hezbollah actually wants many Lebanese civilian deaths, to be used as propaganda against Israel (much as Mr. Jelly is using it now). They have even been seen preventing Lebanese citizens from fleeing to the north.
Israel's attack on some of Lebanon's infrastructure (not civilians) is aimed to force the Lebanese people and their army to take a stand -- either they support Hezbollah's actions by doing nothing as they attack and hide among the Lebanese, or to actually take back control of their country. Since they have done nothing, except threaten to fight on the side of Hezbollah, it is clear where most of the Lebanese stand. While Hezbollah is killing as many Jews (and fellow Muslim Israeli citizens) as they possibly can with all the weaponry at their disposal, Israel is doing just the opposite. They could kill 10,000 Lebanese civilians per day with their conventional weaponry if they chose the same tactics as Hezbollah, but they will not do that. So which side is showing restraint here?
The Fourth Geneva Convention applies to soldiers, not terrorist cowards that hide in the general population. According to Mr. Jelly's logic, the only moral response by Israel would be to just sit there on their hands while the terrorists fire missiles into their country. In fact, he says that "No Hezbollah action can justify such a response." He does not seem to complain that Hezbollah are deliberately attacking citizens. People like Mr. Jelly are blinded by their hate, and cannot see their own hypocrisy. This hatred is a plague that inflicts the Middle East, and I am afraid the damage it will inflict on itself and the rest of the world has only just begun.
Re: Letters about "Our of Disproportion": It seems misguided to me to criticize Israel's incursions into Lebanon without appreciating the historical comparisons to Allied campaigning in France during WWII.
The French were considered our Allies during that war, and many Frenchmen wanted peace and did not support the Nazi regime running the country. Unfortunately for the good French people desiring to live in peace, the Nazis in their country were very much inclined to war.
From French soil the Nazi's launched missiles and staged attacks against the Allies in Great Britain. The Allies bombed, shelled and invaded France thoroughly while responding to Nazi aggression. French civilians were killed by Allied munitions. French roads, railways, bridges, buildings and production facilities were also destroyed, even targeted, by the Allies. The suffering of the French people was real, but does anyone now believe that this was unnecessary?
So it is in Lebanon now.
Yes, Israel has bombed Lebanese infrastructure. Yes, Lebanese civilians have unfortunately been killed by Israeli attacks. Neither of these things is desirable or fair or necessarily the fault of any individual Lebanese- but it is the way of war, and it is a lie to call what is happening there anything but war.
The Second World War was against violent Jew-haters who believed themselves superior by race. This Third (soon to be) World War is against violent Jew-haters who believe themselves superior by faith. I pray that rational minds will ignore the Chamberlainesque cries for "proportionality". Once again "peace in our time" will not be reached through appeasement and negotiation, but through decided and determined action.
My prayers are with the Israeli people and for their success.
-- Jamie R. Birdsell
When Hamas kidnaps one Israeli soldier and asks for a thousand jailed Palestinians to be released they are in fact telling us what is proportional. So Israel need only add up the number of dead and wounded multiply by 1,000 to determine what a proportional response, as defined by Hamas, should be.
-- David Beruh
ON THE TRACKS
Re: Jeffrey Lord's The New Conductor of the Clattering Train:
Mr. Lord's article about the clattering Democratic train of appeasing politics reveals much, as we watch the war unfold in the Middle East. Despite John Kerry's weekend claim that if he had been elected President this war wouldn't be happening, there are others who believe he would have already given away Israel to Hamas/Hezebollah or anyone else he thought he could appease. As a military family perhaps we understand more than average folks, as it is our kin who fight for the freedoms of those in Long Island, drinking and enjoying summer's pleasures, as well as those simple minded demonstrators yelling their anti-war slogans...Still, it wouldn't take much for anyone to predict what will happen next, but the Holy Scriptures say folks can predict the weather better than understanding the signs of the times. And so it is.
Today's unfolding was written about some 2,000+ years ago. Both the Book of Daniel and Revelations tell of the Armies of the World gathering for war. And the final war will play out with some armies trying to annihilate Israel. They will fail. But until it all unfolds there will be folks playing at Martha's Vineyard, Long Island Sound, and a million other places, just as they did prior to WWII. No one believed then, either about the Gathering Storm. It is only the discerning and they are scorned by a majority of folks.
Military families we know, both retired and presently serving, all have grave looks on their faces. It doesn't take much to fathom why this is. Yet, this day I will take comfort in my son's R&R home and pray even more faithfully when he returns to war. Wake up America. We have continued to ask God to bless us, while ignoring blessing Him.
-- Beverly Gunn, Cattle Rancher
With all the fine articles printed daily on this site it is, in my opinion, so very hard for one article to leap out as exceptional among so many exceptional writers. "The New Conductor on the Clattering Train" achieved this task. This article should be read and reread and passed around throughout America until its message sinks in to all citizens. We are in grave danger and we and our leaders are twiddling our thumbs as our enemies prepare to bury us.
Thanks, Jeffrey Lord, for your great article.
-- Andy Grego
Re: Andrew Cline's The Melina Del Valle Tunnel:
Where are the Payment and Performance Bonds issued to assure that the project was completed properly? Are these the same bonds issued by AIG that were released through the efforts of John Kerry?
-- K. Good
Sadly enough there will be no justice for the unfortunate death of Mrs. Del Valle. Oh sure there will be the usual political blustering and the Governor, the local District attorney, and all the pooh ba's that had any affiliation with the, "Big Dig," project will stand upon their podiums of pity and shed crocodile tears for Mrs. Del Valle and her family.
But, is anyone going to do prison time for the death of Mrs. Del Valle, is anyone going to be arrested, prosecuted, and imprisoned for the graft, corruption, shoddy workmanship, and materials that were used on this project? Oh sure, there will probably be a couple of low level lackey's that will be offered up by the government and contractors as sacrificial lambs to take the heat off the kingmakers of this ill conceived road project, and the big fish will lazily swim away with they're ill gotten gains at the expense of Mrs. Del Valle and the American taxpayer.
Americans suffer from massive amounts of short-term memory loss and will forget about Mrs. Melina Del Valle or why she had to die needlessly. If public officials truly want to memorialize Mrs. Del Valle, then close and fill in these tunnels and prosecute those responsible for her death.
-- Melvin L. Leppla
Jacksonville, North Carolina
Re: Christopher Orlet's The Real Suzanne Swift:
Since the name of SPC4Suzanne Swift has been widely published in the media while the Department of the Army continues to protect the identity of her rapist and the Commanding Officer who refused to report the incidents or investigate, WVA has taken on the project of their identity.
What is a well-known fact is perpetrators of such violence, with the audacity exhibited in this case, are not singly oriented. He has done it before and has gotten away with it. Therefore WVA has sent out to women veterans far and near, in an effort to find THIS perpetrator, a request for all women who have suffered similarly, please identify your perpetrator and be prepared to testify. We are certain the name, rank and possibly serial number of Suzanne's rapist is among them.
WVA have been flabbergasted at the huge response. We are certain within this large group of perpetrators there is Suzanne's rapist and Commanding Officer.
We consider 30 days a reasonable time for the Department of the Army to identify and pursue the case against SPC4 Swift's rapist and Commander or exonerate her of all charges and discharge her with an honorable discharge. Then we expect an honest committee be established to study these incidences and finally to include in the UCMJ punishment for those who dare attack, sexually or otherwise, their fellow soldiers. We request not only a thorough investigation be done but the soldiers involved be confined to the post or arrested until the investigation has been completed.
The world of the 21st century requires brains rather than brawn on these new battlefields. Women are the rightful alternates and heirs to the fight. Uncontrolled sexual perverts are not needed and certainly not wanted on the fields of battle in the 21st century. Women who have honorably served know these issues. They know them well. Women Veterans of America will lead the armies of women to their rightful inheritance for defense in the 21st century.
First let us be done with the crucifixion of Suzanne Swift.
-- Colleen Mussolino
Women Veterans of America
MENSA'S SEAL OF APPROVAL
Re: Paul Dorell's letter (under "Reinstated") in Reader Mail's Senses of Proportion:
Paul Dorell is a typical leftist. He expects to attack with no response. This is how it works on all his favorite TV shows. When he is responded to with the same hostility that he first used he cries "poor sport." What a baby! I accept that he is a very intelligent baby but one who is handicapped by some unfortunate premises which cripple him from doing any serious reasoning.
-- Clifton Briner
Paul Dorell being Paul Dorell, I felt it necessary to call Laura Kaufman to verify the accuracy of his latest (pedantic) missive. She confirmed Mr. Dorell's previous
membership and expressed her regret for having misinformed me last week.
I now express my own regret for subsequently misleading your readers, however inadvertently -- and for unfairly demeaning Mr. Dorell's sterling character, based upon flawed information.
-- David Gonzalez
The ultimatum of Paul Dorell, reluctant Mensan:
On that note, I'll just say that if you play nice, I promise to leave your midst forever.
Please, Paul. Don't leave. Now that your intelligence has been certified, some display of wit can't be far behind. In any event, I would not want to miss your Kerryesque pronouncements -- whether they emanate from a 99th or 29th percentile mind. Besides, witnessing a grown person display his insecurities for large group of antagonists to laugh about is a valuable object lesson.
-- Robert Martins
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