Reader Mail

Shock Talk

Shock and awe was a strategy, not the strategy to win the war on terror. Also: Disciple discipline. Bud light. Artful interpretations. And more.

1.12.06

RECTORY MONOLOGUES
Re: R. Emmett Tyrrell, Jr.'s Litigious American Bishops:

Thanks for letting us know about this. It seems to me the bishops just HATE IT when lay Catholics show them up for not doing their jobs. Take Patrick Reilly of the Cardinal Newman Society. He has single handedly organized a group to force Catholic colleges to be more orthodox. This year so far there are only 23 Catholic colleges (a lot of them Jesuit) putting on that awful play The Vagina Monologues. When Patrick started there were 43 and growing every year. There are as you know some bishops that are heroes but so few, so few. Most seem to be worse than corrupt politicians.
-- Annette Cwik

Well, none of this is and should be surprising, since these "bishops" have long ago thrown away their faith to follow the Pied Piper of the Second Vatican Council. In fact, it is usurpation on their part to use the name "Catholic"; they should really be called "Novus Ordo" bishops, after the name of their so-called Mass. There remain in the United States only two genuine Roman Catholic bishops, consecrated according to the genuine Rite of the Roman Catholic Church and not the bogus Novus Ordo "rite." Needless to say, these two fine clerics have been literally put through Hell by their so-called fellow clergy because they dared to follow the teaching of Jesus Christ and His Church, rather than follow after the vanities and nonsense of the world, such as this ridiculous lawsuit. Thank you so much for showing these worldly fools for what they really are.
-- Bob Schwartz
Buffalo, New York

The ridiculous lawsuit by Catholic bishops against the conservative Media Research Center is yet another example of power-flexing at the expense of truth. (Litigious American Bishops, Jan. 12) Like their secular media counterparts, liberal Catholic clergy hate the idea of a marketplace of ideas. Notre Dame professor and syndicated columnist Father Richard McBrien published a recent column in the Los Angeles archdiocese newspaper, the Tidings, whining about conservative protests against liberal Catholics honoring Boston Mayor Thomas Menino, a supporter of gay marriage and abortion rights. Father McBrien's hatred and intolerance of viewpoints he does not share is typified by his arrogant approach, of which I quote from his published column: "With the broad accessibility of the Internet has come a new capacity of individuals, who could never be published by reputable newspapers and magazines, to gain an audience via personal blogs and to attract the attention even of the mainstream media." The idea that disagreement with far left views makes one disreputable echoes the narrow-minded bigotry typical of liberals.
-- Caroline Miranda
North Hollywood, California

SHOCK THERAPY
Re: Ralph R. Reiland's Shock and Flawed:

Although Professor Reiland makes some good points in his article "Shock and Flawed," I am forced to disagree with his premise; he argues that the military stratagem of Shock and Awe was designed to break the will of all of our enemies. In fact, Shock and Awe was intended for a much more limited purpose; namely, the defeat of Saddam's military. In that, it worked exceedingly well (one can argue too well.)

I would also like to point out that America never brought the full force of arms to bear, and Shock and Awe was more Surprise and Shucks. In fact, the whole thing was a bit of a ruse to trick the Iraqis into hunkering down, waiting for the Shock and Awe bombardment while U.S. military forces strolled towards Baghdad.

The craziness of the insurgencies which Professor Reiland bemoans is a result of politics inside of the United States. OF COURSE terrorists continue to fight; they are taking their cues from the Mainstream Media and our "loyal opposition" -- the Democratic Party! They keep fighting because they believe that, as in Vietnam, Lebanon, Somalia, etc., we will eventually cut and run, and they will win by default. Treasonous behavior on the part of opponents of President Bush, coupled with a politically sensitive war stratagem in which we have allowed the enemy sanctuary in Iran and Syria, are the real culprits here. They can read our newspapers and hear our broadcasts. They know how bitterly divided this country is over the whole premise of the War. They know that the Democrats, and their allies in the Media, will do almost anything to regain power. Why wouldn't they keep fighting?

We needed to deal with Syria and Iran, but we tried to stabilize Iraq first. Big mistake! Had we dealt with our enemies to the east and west we wouldn't find ourselves in this situation. Now, with Iran closing in on a nuclear weapon, we need to act more than ever. We should have done this in the beginning. In this, Dr. Reiland is correct; we have, indeed, dropped the ball.

I normally love Professor Reiland -- I just think he missed the bull's-eye on this one.
-- Timothy Birdnow
St. Louis, Missouri

Ralph Reiland's article "Shock and Flawed" is about a worthless a diatribe as I have seen from either side of the aisle in recent months. He lists many of the momentous gains from the "Bush Doctrine," but his proof on how its failed is couple of anecdotes of violence still occurring in Afghanistan and Iraq. That's like commenting about new law enforcement techniques that appear successful because crime has dropped dramatically, but claiming they're still just as likely to fail because there was a robbery last night.

And I'd like to know where he comes up with how the "Shock and Awe" concept was a joke because we were stuck fighting insurgents after the ground campaign. S&A was strictly formulated to bring a quicker end to the conventional side of the war (regardless of how successful many think it was or wasn't in that regard), and had nothing to do with the aftermath or if the next day there would be "regular morning traffic, people...driving around to pick up their pita bread..." .

I found absolutely no insight to his waste of AS space for this "Another Perspective," as you titled it. Don't we have enough of this garbage coming from the lefties?
-- Stephen the Duke

Can someone explain why this guy is writing for the Spectator? What a clown. I suggest the Nation would be a better choice.
-- Ron LaCanne

...When we went into Iraq, those of us paying attention after "shock and awe" know that the taxi driver in Baghdad was quietly clapping for our ''invasion'' and that the public buildings, where women and children worked, Saddam's allies had packed with weapons and ammo and explosives before the war -- filled schools and hospitals and homes and warehouses -- so that one stray missile or enemy grenade could have instantly blown a football field-sized hole, killing thousands of civilians in a second, to be blamed, of course, on America. And we knew that Saddam HAD tortured and mass-murdered the Iraqi people, and that he was actively seeking to buy a long range missile, and already had fitted short range missiles with reservoirs to hold chemical weapons, and had a team of scientists on standby, and the factories -- to produce precursor chems -- WMDs -- which we know by his previous record he most certainly would have used on Israel -- or sold to enemies of America.

Our pilots never stopped protecting the no-fly zones where Saddam's military shot at them regularly throughout the '90s and up to 2003. The war never ended. We simply reengaged after 9/11, and it was a necessity.

The one area we couldn't control, and that is now exposed to the world, too -- America's own enemy-occupied institutions, selling out America from our own universities, press, Hollywood -- for a seat at the global grifters table.

No risk of a sword at your throat from President Bush....

The Iraqis are our best hope for change. If they are unable to stand, they are still braver than I am, and better than their comfy elite critics/exploiters for daring to be free.
-- unsigned

Taking nothing away from the heroism of those few who today risk all in defense of their country, the hard truth is that, in Iraq, our action there has begotten the predictably equal and opposite reaction. In removing Saddam Hussein, we have succeeded in one very large accomplishment: That of de-stabilizing one of the most dysfunctional, fragmented and conflicted regions on the planet. It is an area made up of mutually hostile clans, religions and ethnic groups, a place that has never been a nation but an arbitrary geo-political fiction defined by British lines in the sand after WWI, a mob of self-destructive cats historically unherdable onto the flatbed of order save by the utmost brutality, happily supplied by a succession of murderous dictators; and a culture that has progressed very little since the days of Nebuchadnezzar.

To this region, we evidently planned to bring the sweetness and light of democracy, currently being so ably exampled by the Senate's Alito (or "Alioto" if you are a fat murderer from Massachusetts) hearings. What strikes one the most in these circumstances, apart from the determination of our military forces now engaged there, was that much of our pre-war strategy seems based on a real hummer: Mr. Ahmed Chalabi and his Iraqi National Congress, a government-in-exile which not only provided despicably false pre-war intelligence but which somebody in Washington also believed to be a turnkey solution for the void that inevitably would follow the abrupt end of years of Baathist domination. Chalabi, while still clinging to the periphery of whatever attempt at Iraqi government is now being made, has been discredited and the "turnkey solution" is now there for all to see. Greatly troubling is the thought that Mr. Chalabi may well have played too-eager American authorities into assisting him with what may have been personal coup d'etat attempt against the Saddam regime, the outcome of which today is by no means certain.

Follow the timeline: General Tommy Franks, the able wartime commander, whose efforts were criticized as lacking sufficient manpower, retired at a time when hostilities scarcely had ended. He was replaced by General Jay Garner, also an able man, but whose expertise was in administration and infrastructure. Somebody evidently thought that all we had to do was get the lights back on and all would be well. But Garner lasted only days before "political specialist" L. Paul Bremer was rushed into the game, amid the breakdown of order, the freefall of Chalabi and the onset of insurgency. Bremer himself now has said that post-war planning and manpower were woefully inadequate.

What seems evident now is that this planning was defined at best by extreme naivete; and that "shock and awe" succeeded primarily in inviting the Baathist Party and its military remnants underground into what now appears to be a well-planned "insurgency," with the able support of their Syrian and Iranian neighbors and Osama's terrorists. Fueling this conflict is the ancient feud of the Sunnis and Shias, which makes Northern Ireland seem like the epitome of brotherly love. The Sunnis have brutally repressed the Shias for generations. While Saddam was not religious, he was a Sunni Arab and his minions were the brutal oppressors and war criminals who savaged the Shias and the Kurds. That score is not going to be settled over breakfast in the Congressional Cafeteria.

Meanwhile, Iraq's previously-mentioned neighbors in no way can tolerate a true democracy in the region, even if history could allow it to evolve. It must be noted that, absent the weapons of mass destruction upon whose alleged presence our Iraqi action was ordained, the idea that we are somehow going to bring democratic order out of this chaos is very dubious. Our own country is unique in the world. Until WWII, excepting ourselves, France and Britain, most of the Western world was run by kings or dictators. We see how well democracy works every day here in America, with our own train wreck of conflicting egos and interests. Yet, to reach this point of chaos, we went through no fewer that five major wars (plus a host of "Native American conflicts") which shaped and defined the U.S. (the French and Indian War of 1760 determined that ours was to be a British, not French, culture; The American Revolution; The War of 1812, which affirmed our independence from Britain; The Mexican War; and The Civil War... the aftermath of which has consumed a century and a half with its issues not yet fully resolved). This after a thousand years of democratic/parliamentary evolution since the Magna Carta, during which every horror known to man was perpetrated by enlightened Westerners. But we are focused now on the Middle East... get it?

So what now? As was once said of the British, our infantry is the best in the world. But unfortunately, in our case, there is so little of it. Give us a million men and a century and we might make some positive change in the Middle East. But instead, new dragons seem to be appearing daily. In life, we have what we wish were so. I wish the men and women of our military services every success, as well as those in Iraq who want only peace and quiet and the chance to live their lives. But history reveals that which IS so, whether we like it or not. Thus, despite our good intentions, heroism and sacrifice, the outcome in Iraq cannot and will not be determined by what we do. Ultimately, it will be shaped by what THEY do, there on the ground in their own never-peaceful territory. In the light of history, God help all of us.
-- Gene Wright
Laguna Niguel, California

OVERREADING ART
Re: Mark Goldblatt's Just-Do-It Liberalism:

Has the "conservative" movement become so bereft of ideas that there is nothing left but sophomoric "movie reviews" by Mr. Goldblatt and his ilk? Webster's defines art as " the conscious use of skill and creative imagination especially in the production of aesthetic objects; also: works so produced b (1) : FINE ARTS (2) : one of the fine arts (3) : a graphic art."

Notice that there is nothing in the definition of art to imply that there should be conservative principles applied, a lack of anti-Americanism, or application of morality. Art, movies, TV are nothing more than personal interpretations of human beings. Was Mr. Goldblatt expecting movies or TV to provide substantive public policy discussions? These paranoid ramblings would be funny if they weren't so pathetic. If you don't like it, don't watch it. Go rent a Mel Gibson snuff film instead.
-- Ben Berry
Silver Spring, Maryland

MILLER TIME
Re: Carl F. Horowitz's Anheuser-Busch v. Alito:

I suppose most of the Fortune 500 U.S. corporations have their pet charities or interest groups, many in the name of the latest god of faddism, "diversity." Unless I'm mistaken, in the olden days, the corporate Titans themselves would set up foundations and donate their hard earned dollars to various good, and bad, causes personally, and left the corporate coffers alone to pursue business. Period.

In these times, where corporations don't seem to worry what shareholders think while they contribute to organizations that might wish to put them out of business, they donate the company's money in an effort to keep the shakedown artists at bay, while the executives hide in their gated communities hoping these con artists bother someone else and not them personally. Little do they understand that it only motivates them more.

Regardless, in the case of Anheuser-Busch, there may be more here than meets the eye. Didn't they buy the majority interest in the Modelo Beer Company of Mexico, the largest brewer in Mexico and maker of Corona and other brands imported to the good ol' U.S.A.? Maybe it's just a case of working both sides of the fence (or border), so to speak. Sad, really.
-- David P. Bennett
Chicago, Illinois

If Anheuser Busch wants to support this organization whose sole purpose is to balkanize this great country, it's Miller Time!
-- Frank Gutierrez
Redondo Beach, California

THE DEVIL IN JAMES
Re: Michael Fumento's The James Wolcott Treatment:

I wonder what Wolcott would make of these three Sulawesian schoolgirls beheaded in October '05, the head of one being left on the pathway to a nearby church. (Warning: graphic images of the autopsy of the three schoolgirls, two of them beheaded, aged about 9-12.)

I wonder what crime Wolcott thinks they must be guilty of since the people he's defending would never do such a thing and if they did we should talk with them and reason with them and "give peace a chance." These little girls didn't have TIME to give peace a chance. They had NO CHANCE!
-- Elizabeth Coote
("foreign devil" on littlegreenfootballs.com)
Toronto, Canada

In an ecomium on bloggerel calculated to elevate Anne Coulter to the relative status of Madame de Stael, Michael (Myth of Heterosexual AIDS) Fumento complains that, writing of Iraqi atrocities, Vanity Fair editor James ("fleshy neck") Wolcott was only "able to scrape up" a single reference "to Iraq and to death by beheading, whereas [Daniel] Pearl was killed first and decapitated later."

It is hard to see how the Karachi Students Of Religion responsible might reorder their nefarious priorities, and I am glad to have departed Pakistan none the wiser, but Fumento continues about "people who compare forcing detainees at Guantanamo Bay to listen to loud rap music to the horrors of the German concentration camps and the Soviets Gulags. (In and of itself a form of Holocaust denial, to equate being gassed or starved to death with having to listen to bad tunes.)"

Make that having to read Fumento's collected works, and the guests at the Guantanamo Hilton will surely spill OBL's whereabouts faster than a fleshy neck can be severed with a little green football. Let's get this man a Gitmo area pass -- he's ready for prime time.
-- Russell Seitz
Cambridge, Massachusetts

WRONG TARGET
Re: "Picking Out Pat" letters in Reader Mail's Blasphemers and Paul Chesser's Big Mouth Pat:

After reading both Paul Chesser's and the Reader Mail about Pat Robertson I find one glaring thing in common.

In this forum we are debating what Pat said and whether or not it's useful or even true as opposed to the left and the Democrats (quickly becoming one group) that spew forth their venom as they connect mysterious dots without any remorse or conflict among the faithful.

Thus they say Bush causes global warming, hurricanes, mine explosions, poverty, tornados, tsunami, Shuttle disasters, etc. all while cleverly stealing elections, personally keeping blacks down, taxing the poor to benefit the rich as Karl Rove and Dick Cheney's puppet.

Focus people. Pat Robertson is just an annoying fly buzzing around your iced tea compared to these rabid dogs in your yard.
-- Greg Barnard
Franklin, Tennessee

ENVIRONMENTALIST HARM LESSON
Re: Del Sharp's letter (under "Ben's Oil") in Reader Mail's Sick and Retired:

Sharp may his last name, but certainly not a description of his economic comprehension. The blame big oil (or big tobacco, or big fast food) crowd consistently points and shouts and stomps without digging deep into their rants to examine the facts.

In Sharp's case, he conveniently forgets that the environmental movement's obstructionism is why there haven't been any refineries built in 30 years. How about "whole areas of the country being closed off to exploration?" No one to blame but those same enviro-nazis. Consolidation resulting in "five or so major oil companies" would not be a monopoly. And if he had a clue about the industry, he'd realize there are dozens of companies in "extraction, refining, distribution and retailing" of oil.

Lastly prices aren't "set" by Wall Street traders; they are determined by supply and demand -- like the price of any good or service. The anti-business left is the first to blame "big business" when there's an imbalance in supply and demand causing price volatility, when it's usually the unintended consequences of their own short-term, play to their ignorant base policies, that are to blame.

Not too sharp, Del.
-- William H. Stewart

So I am to understand that it is the oil companies that have blocked the building of new refineries and the exploration of new fields in places like ANWR and the Gulf of Mexico. It is the oil companies that have added tax after tax onto the back of a gallon of gasoline. It is the oil companies that have mandated specialty gasses with more additives than a hairy buffalo drink at a frat party. I would not absolve the oil companies of all responsibility for the fuel related problems from which we now suffer, but to lay the blame for environmental and governmental profiteering onto that part of the industrial complex is akin to blaming the snowplows for the snow. A look at the last 30 years of life in these United States is usually enough to reveal those responsible for the quality of life that we live today. Let's put the blame where it belongs and move on.
-- Joseph Baum
Garrettsville, Ohio

The reason no refineries have been built in 30 years, very little exploration, 40+ types of gasoline, can all be laid at the feet of liberal environmentalists.
-- Elaine Kyle

DIGITAL GOLD
Re: Ben Stein's Oil, Oil, Oil:

Unleaded gas: $ 2.79 gallon

Bottled mineral water: $10.49 gallon

Ben Stein on-line: priceless
-- John Curtis
Paradise, California

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