The Dems learned their lesson well. Not from the election, but from their idol, Lil' Billy, who taught them that the campaign never stopped. Never mind that Vichy John surrendered on November 3. The wild-eyed lefties who drove the Demo clown car off a cliff this year are still campaigning against Dubya, Dick, and Don. They and their media minions are running on as if it were July, campaigning against what we're doing in Iraq and aghast at any attempt to hold the U.N. accountable for its enormous failures. Some in the media are carrying on in the finest traditions of CBS News' “fake but accurate” reporting.
The whacko antiwar lefties of MoveOn.org proclaimed last week (to those they called “the professional election losers” of the Dem Party) that the party now belonged to the MoveOn'ers: “We bought it, we own it, and we're going to take it back,” they said. Let us pray they're right, and that Howlin' Howie Dean will achieve his ambition of becoming DNC chieftain. The signs are most encouraging. The Dems are still lobbing the same charges at Dubya and his team. I know, no one voted for Don Rumsfeld or Condoleezza Rice. But we did vote — about 59 million of us — for the guy who keeps them on the job.
THREE STORIES DOMINATED the news this past week. First was created when a Tennessee National Guard soldier headed to Iraq asked a very pointed question of Big Dog Don Rumsfeld. The man asked, reasonably, why soldiers were having to scrounge armor plate from junkyards and armor their Humvees like do-it-yourselfers. When Mr. Rumsfeld answered that Iraq was a “come as you are” party for the army, the press and Teddy's old drinking buddy, Chris Dodd, went after Big Dog for incompetence and carelessness with soldiers' lives. It got so bad that I found myself on Fox News Saturday afternoon, arguing with a swaybacked old Clinton warhorse who chose to use the armor issue to reargue the whole Kerry “we got it all wrong in Iraq” theme. When I said that the armor issue wasn't a political one, and that the generals should have long ago gotten off their butts and solved it, he came unglued. He argued with me all the way down the elevator and out to the cars that it was all the fault of the civilian leaders. I told him that wasn't true, and that he had lost and he needed to get over it. But he, and the rest of the loser left, just can't.
The whole Rumsfeld incident stank from media manipulation. The solider read a question written for him by Chattanooga Times reporter Edward Lee Pitts, who e-mailed his pals back in Tennessee that “I was told yesterday that only soldiers could ask questions so I brought two of them along with me as my escorts. Before hand we worked on questions to ask Rumsfeld about the appalling lack of armor their vehicles going into combat have. While waiting for the VIP, I went and found the Sgt. in charge of the microphone for the question and answer session and made sure he knew to get my guys out of the crowd.” The soldier — who did have a legitimate beef — shilled for Pitts. It's one thing for a reporter to help another pick topics or even write up questions. It's another for the reporter to use soldiers as flacks to embarrass senior government officials in carefully stage-managed settings. Predictably, while Pitts was revealing himself as a Dan Rather wannabe, the New York Times campaigned to defend him. (Note to Mr. Pitts: Jayson Blair's chair at the Times is open. You should send your resume in, pronto, and better send one to 60 Minutes while you're at it.)
The media want to use Mr. Rumsfeld as a piñata because many Humvees and trucks lack the “up armor” kits to give them and those who ride in them some protection from small arms fire. (The “up armor” system won't stop anything heavy, such as an RPG or larger improvised explosive device.) Instead, they should be asking why that problem hasn't been solved. When I was a deputy undersecretary of defense in Gulf War 1, the generals took responsibility for problems such as these and made sure they got solved. In the first two days of that air war, sandstorms resulted in some of our fly-guys killing American troops in Bradley fighting vehicles because they couldn't see who was who. Gen. Schwartzkopf sent a rather pointed note back to then SecDef Dick Cheney, who immediately passed it on to the RSG's at DARPA, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency.
The DARPA guys — in about 24 hours — built a prototype of a powerful infrared emitter. The DARPA chief at the time, Dr. Vic Reiss, brought it in to show me on his way to Cheney's office. It was a coffee can-sized device with Velcro fasteners on the bottom. You tear off the Velcro, stick it on the fender of the Bradley or other vehicle, and flip on the switch. Immediately, all the fly guys see a big bright “good guy” signal, and go find someone else to shoot at. An order for thousands of these was being filled by priority order, and it was only because the war ended about a week later that the devices weren't shipped. That's the way it's supposed to work. American industry can do just about any damned thing you ask, and just as quickly as you need it to. But you gotta ask, and the Army hasn't.
So why haven't the Army generals taken charge of the armor issue and solved it in the last 18 months? The whole armor question could be solved almost immediately if someone would sort out what's needed and when (like, now for instance?), get the army procurement weenies to get off their butts, and buy what we need. What's the big deal? This isn't something the SecDef should have to worry about. But however many in the army command structure who should have but haven't done this should be fired. That
Rumsfeld — unapologetic and more concerned with killing bad guys than having cozy lunches with NYT columnists — drives the libs to wild-eyed hatred. On Sunday, ol' Mo Dowd was reduced to writing anti-Rumsfeld poetry out of her sheer frustration that someone in Fort Fumble has a brass pair. She, and the others, yearns for the good old testosterone-free days in the Pentagon when Les Aspin and then Bill Cohen were SecDef, when nothing was done to kill the enemy or protect the troops, but all the pressies were treated with the warm-fuzzy embrace they think they deserve. (Remember Blackhawk Down, when 18 of our best died because Clinton put them in an impossible spot, and Aspin denied them both tank support and air cover? Where was MoDo back then?) Forget it, Mo. Big Dog is there because he's damned good at what he does. Which is more than we can say for the blabbermouths of the Senate Intel Committee.
I've had some pretty fancy security clearances, and heard about some pretty fancy stuff. Call me old-fashioned, but it seems to me that when we're about to spend a few billion Yankee dollars on a stealthy reconnaissance satellite, its merits shouldn't be debated on the front page of the Washington ComPost and the New Yawk Times. Maybe there are problems with the program. The press says that the new system only has photographic ability, not IR or radar, so it's blinded by weather. Whether they're right or wrong isn't the issue. This problem has no place in the media. But the U.N. does, as always.
CALLS FOR KOFI ANNAN'S resignation have been ringing off Capitol Hill for more than a week. Sen. Norm Coleman (R-Minn.), chairman of the Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations, has been leading a conservative charge to get Annan out because he presided over the worst financial rip-off in history. He has a point, but his argument was cut off late in the week when Amb. Jack Danforth said that the Bush administration wasn't seeking to remove Annan. Has Danforth lost his mind? Not hardly.
Keeping Annan where his is enables us to focus the real pressure where it belongs: on the U.N. itself. Annan will soon be gone. His term ends in December 2006, and we won't allow him another one. If Annan were to go now in response to U.S. pressure, the libs, the EUnuchs, and all the world's U.N. lovers would have a great excuse to do nothing more to fix the fundamental problems with the U.N. On CNN's “Diplomatic License” program last weekend, the ambassador from the Arab League told so many lies in so short a time, he must have set some new U.N. record. He said the U.N. was making the world safer, that it did great things to fight terrorism, and that its achievements on human rights were wonderful. The sad part is that he probably believes this nonsense.
The guy tried to shout me down when I said that the U.N. had done nothing about terrorism, and that its members should take responsibility for the Oil-for-Food-for-Bribes-for-Weapons scam. I pointed out — more politely than the occasion required — that the governments he represents aren't legitimate representatives of their peoples. They're typical of the dictatorships, despots, rogues and, terrorists who comprise about 75% of the UN's members. Until we get rid of them, and form an alternate to the U.N. comprised only of democracies, the East Forty-Sixth Street Follies will go on and on. (One dedicated reader sent me a history of the U.N. site. Apparently, it was a meat-packing plant back at the turn of the last century. It's only appropriate for the former site of a meat packing plant to now be that of the world's largest baloney factory.)
U.N. apologists are working feverishly, pasting one fib over another in the faint hope of keeping the U.N. glued together. James Dobbins had the audacity to write in the Friday Washington Post that Oil-for-Food “achieved its two objectives: providing food to the Iraqi people and preventing Saddam Hussein from rebuilding his military threat to the region — and in particular from reconstituting his programs for weapons of mass destruction.” Only on few occasions have so many lies been packed into one sentence. Claude Hankes-Drielsma of the Roland Berger firm, which had been hired to investigate the program by the free Iraqis right after Saddam fell, told me that much of the food and medicine imported by Iraq with Oil-for-Food funds was unfit for human use. (So much for the careful inspections by Kojo Annan's company, Cotecna, which was one of the companies paid to inspect the shipments.) Oil for Food looted Iraq, sustained Saddam, and enabled him to buy votes in the Security Council.
The U.N. is going to have a very rough 2005. Senator Coleman isn't going to be satisfied with Kofi's stonewalling, and when Dr. Rice takes over at State, the U.N. should feel pressure from us unlike anything it's felt since Jeane Kirkpatrick guided us out of the UNESCO scam in the 1980s. With Dubya at the helm, Dr. Rice at State, and Big Dog at Fort Fumble, America will be solving the problems we face without U.N. interference. That Amb. Danforth is quitting so soon is a pity on one hand. His political skill, integrity, and good judgment will be missed. But maybe we'll finally pick an ambassador to the U.N. who's appropriate to the seriousness of the institution, and who reflects our view of its usefulness. Maybe Jonathan Winters can be talked into it. If he can't, I hear Charlie Callas is fed up with Vegas.
TAS Contributing Editor Jed Babbin is the author of Inside the Asylum: Why the UN and Old Europe Are Worse Than You Think (Regnery Publishing).