NO MORE MR. NICE GUY
Re: Jed Babbin’s Numbers:
Secretary Babbin made some excellent points regarding the need to use sufficient forces to crush the insurgencies in Iraq. The sad part is that he needed to articulate the points at all. It is so obvious that our unwillingness to aggressively punish the insurgents is emboldening them. This attitude by the Coalition authorities is simply unacceptable.
As to the need for more troops, a more robust use of air forces may very well negate the need for additional ground personnel. Like Mr. Babbin I would give the same ultimatum to Fallujah. But instead of attacking the town from the ground and risking the lives of our soldiers and Marines I would simply level it with a few BLU-82 high explosive concussion bombs from C-130s. Another alternative would be B-52’s with 2,000 pound iron bombs. I wouldn’t waste time trying to be “surgical” with smart weapons launched by fighters. We did that during the fight against Saddam Hussein’s forces last year, and it did not earn us very much good will. It’s time for the big stuff. Let’s take of the kid gloves and get serious. If necessary we can deal with hurt feelings later.
Is the course of action I describe harsh? Of course, but it is imperative that we force the general population of Iraq and its leaders, including the religious figures, to acknowledge that they are a defeated country. And we also need to send a strong message to the troublemakers in Damascus and Tehran.
Oderint dum metuant.
— Paul M. DeSisto, USAF (Ret.)
Cedar Grove, New Jersey
Last night, I was startled to read that, at the end of WWII, the U.S. Army had burned all the Shinto Shrines built by the Japanese in Korea. Now, that was clarity.
If America is to accomplish anything in Iraq, I believe that we must stop pretending that we respect Iraq’s primitive culture. We must stop treating mullahs with deference. Mosques should enjoy no special status in combat operations.
We need to let the Iraqis know exactly what we think of their backward culture. Razing the mosques and destroying anyone who objects is a place to start.
It turns my stomach to see the Marines negotiating with the butchers of Americans in Fallujah. In addition to a lack of clarity, President Bush lacks the stomach for the measures required to win this war.
Though I will have to vote for Mr. Bush next November, it will be a very unenthusiastic vote. He is weak.
— Joe Wood
P.S. No, Bush should have no draft. He has not spent the lives of his volunteers wisely.
I am surprised that as informed a person as Mr. Babbin is he continues to get his numbers and his advice wrong. Currently assigned to Europe are two incomplete Army divisions (each missing 1/3 of their ground combat units). Of that force one division is already in Iraq with the other to follow. It should also be remembered that Mr. Babbin (and many others) disparaged Gen. Eric K. Shinseki and others in the Army for suggesting that the war in Iraq would not be as easy as they predicted and that an occupying force of, “Something on the order of several hundred thousand soldiers are probably, you know, a figure that would be required,” General Shinseki told members of the Senate Armed Services Committee. “We’re talking about post-hostilities control over a piece of geography that’s fairly significant, with the kinds of ethnic tensions that could lead to other problems.” General Shinseki continued, “It takes a significant ground force presence to maintain a safe and secure environment, to ensure that people are fed, that water is disturbed, all the normal responsibilities that go along with administering a situation like this.” So now with our forces overextended, our political will stressed, Mr. Babbin advocates what? Invade who, with what forces, and this will reduce the fighting where?
We do not need “a much more aggressive approach against the Iraqi insurgents” nor do we need to invade Iran or Syria. We do need to continue the irresistible course of disciplined action that we have been following. Our opponents would love to see us appear to use overwhelming force irresponsibly but we must not stumble into that trap. The Marines and Soldiers bearing the brunt of the current fighting are up to the task. They will be reinforced and they will succeed in restoring order.
We also need a realistic assessment of our long term force requirements. Our commitment in Iraq will last at least 10 years. During that time other challenges will arise and we will need the force to deal with them. The military in general and the US Army particularly, need to be enlarged to meet this obvious future. How much, what organization (light vs. heavy, war fighters vs. peace keepers) are all issues that should be discussed, but right now we need to start building. I remind all concerned that it takes longer to create a combat ready division than it does to build an aircraft carrier. Some may have thought prior to this that there was a no risk, low cost, magic way of waging war. They were wrong. War means overwhelming force and sometimes (most times) that means a soldier with a bayonet going door to door. Right now the real fix to the problem Mr. Babbin describes is to grow the force. It will not be quick and it will not be easy but it is the correct solution.
— Hil Evers
LTC US Army
Re: Doug Bandow’s Friends Like These:
Many other pundits argue that we transformed the cultures of Germany and Japan after WWII so why can’t we transform Iraq? Perhaps we can, but if one looks at the contrast with how we transformed Japan (the more “alien” of the two post-war enemy cultures) and what we’re doing now in Iraq, it appears we are about to fail.
Few seem to remember that MacArthur ruled Japan as de facto emperor from 1945-1950. When the Japanese balked at forming a “republic,” MacArthur copied his favorite portions of the American constitution and British Parliamentary rules onto an 8×14 yellow legal pad and told the Japanese parliament “this is your constitution, follow it.” That constitution is still in effect today.
In Iraq, there’s no MacArthur. U.S. policy is jumbled up between the combined State Department and Military command authority. In Japan, MacArthur ruled with an iron hand, de-divinitized Hirohito and ended the class/caste aristocracy that had existed for hundreds of years. In Iraq today, there is no similar move to change the dysfunctional Islamic culture and indeed to even talk about it is so politically incorrect, our leadership can’t even begin to discuss the problem.
Of course, the mainstream press is no help in clarifying matters, either. So I’m afraid that as long as serious discussions of these issues are limited to obscure (although great) publications like yours and letters to the editor like mine, we can look forward to a mess in the Middle East for some time to come.
— Paul Doolittle
Doug Bandow has made several good points about the current situation in Iraq. He urges us to withdraw. But then what?
The Bush administration has expressed a vision that protects the United States by acting to remove enemy governments that create and support terrorist organizations (assuming we didn’t go into Iraq merely to avenge Bush’s father.) If creating democracies to replace these regimes is not the answer, what is? If the Bush administration is not up to the task, what then? Certainly, withdrawing into Fortress America and relying on Homeland Security is not the answer.
It is easy to say pull-out. But that does not answer the question before us.
— Mike Rizzo
Most Iraqis, it seems, and ALL in leadership are worse than the usual run of the mill cowards. They are braggadocio cowards, good for only one thing; killing, and maiming from ambush then running to hide behind mommy’s burka.
That is the reason for the strong horse, weak horse strategy that Osama talks of. They are cowards, but will do what they are told when a strong horse only tells them because they are afraid of him also.
We have two options in Iraq. The first is to become the strong by forcing our will over all others and killing outright any pocket of resistance with withering overkill. If one armed person is seen entering or leaving a mosque, within minutes it should be unmercifully leveled to nothing, without warning and this level of commitment to winning should continue till they yell uncle. Criminals and terrorists should be rounded up and jailed pending trial.…
Just some thoughts,
— Gene Hauber
P.S. We should be able to tell our enemies and those that harbor them that they have 6 days for any demand, to deliver whatever we ask, even the head of an enemy to Washington or we will put your country in a box and seal it forever.
Re: George Neumayr’s Commiserating With Colin Powell:
It was quite interesting to contrast the way Mary K. Blige’s new found faith in God, which she credited to saving her life, to the way GW’s faith was mockingly lampooned in the Woodward interview.
I think the sooner the Republicans realize they are dealing with a bunch of dolts in the press the better.
— Glenn Diehl
It appears that Powell is a reluctant warrior and, furthermore, indifferent to foreigners in jeopardy. As I understand it, he was reluctant to go to war in 1991 and stopped the war just as the Shi’ite rebellion was starting. That he was opposed to intervention in Rwanda and in the Balkans, and now Iraq. What a guy!
— John Schuh
At the presidential news conference last week, President Bush, when pressed to name some mistakes made during his administration, seemed to be stumped for a minute or so.
I wanted so badly to tell him that I know of at least one:
He failed to fire George Tenet!
— Skip McRae
Re: Jackie Mason & Raoul Felder’s Freud, Windbags, and Politicians:
“… any reasonably intelligent person could call himself an anti-terrorism expert.” — Mason & Felder
I was an engineer for the US Navy for ten years, 1988 to 1998, and I actually own a handbook on anti-terrorism techniques. It is pretty cool stuff actually. I, along with some other politically clueless civil service engineers, took a class on anti-terrorism and they gave us this nifty handbook on how to deal with terrorism scenarios. We were instructed to never take the same route to work two days in a row-we liked that since we were getting paid per diem for all our travel expenses. I really did learn a few things about “situational awareness.”
Most of the material in the course was common sense. It was full of advice like what my Mom and Dad told me when I was a kid-don’t talk to strangers, travel in large groups, get home before dark, don’t take any wooden nickels. One piece of advice I remember very well was to be very afraid of the police in foreign countries. “Remember!” the instructor would say again and again, “you are not in America, you don’t have any rights. In this country, it is assumed that if the police took the trouble to arrest you, you probably are guilty.”
Maybe taking that course qualifies me as an expert on terrorism-sure beats slogging through design reviews twelve hours a day.
— Charles D. Sampson
Don’t know how much of this was Jackie and how much was Raoul, but, please, may we have more? Apparently Mason, the consummate comedian and social critic, has a flair for communication in any medium. Write on Jackie!…and Raoul, too.
— Chuck Livingston
Fort Worth, Texas
SURPRISE IS NO EXCUSE
Re: Geoffrey Norman’s Surprised Again:
Geoffrey Norman is incorrect to imply that Kimmel and Short should have been fired after Pearl Harbor. There is massive evidence that the FDR administration had ample warning to know the Japanese were ready to go to war. No one high in the administration had the savvy to actually tell Kimmel and Short that a war was imminent; the best they received was a general war warning. Worse yet, the next morning, when the Philippines were struck, all the U.S. planes were neatly lined up in rows waiting to be destroyed. Still worse, in the following months, the gallant Marines on Wake Island were abandoned, an approaching task force was recalled, and death, torture and imprisonment became their unnecessary fate.
— Bud Hiller
I knew that you had historically informed writers, and Geoffrey Norman is one of them. One corollary of Norman’s “gentlemen” syndrome is that armed American military guards have frequently been under restrictions that prevent them from shooting at enemies in a timely manner, i.e. as soon as the threat presents itself. Americans are slow to realize that the Pollyanna Syndrome can be fatal.
— David Shoup
IT’S NOT ISRAEL EITHER
Re: Reid Collins’ It’s Not the Stupid Economy:
Reid Collins’ writing about the recent Bush endorsement of the Sharon plan was clueless. He starts with the Jews got Clinton elected and President Bush has learned his lesson. This is the kind of drivel that comes from those that think that the Palestinian conflict is at the heart of Islamic terrorism. Islam is at the heart of Islamic terror! A more careful look at the world would demonstrate that mass murder exists at the borders of Islam everywhere. A more careful look at the Koran and what real Muslims say about it will show why this is the case. Israel is not a satisfactory explanation for mass murder in the Sudan, India, Malaysia, Philippines, etc. Implied also in this lazy explanation is the assumption that there has ever been a peace process. Israel believed there was a peace process but it is clear that the Palestinians have never wanted anything but the destruction of Israel. It is a delusion for the foolish and nothing illustrates this better than world leaders agonizing over the deaths of fanatic bigots like Yassin and Rantisi or playing court to the corrupt Arafat. As long as murderers like these have large followings there is no hope for peace. They want war, they give war and they need to get war. Peace will only happen when they are completely destroyed.
Israel is simply trying to make their country more defensible. They are eliminating settlements that are ridiculous to defend while recognizing large suburban areas that are integral to Israel. They are continuing to put up their fence because it works. It is an obvious thing that a government should try to keep its citizens safe. Sentiments like Collins’ seems to express remind me of the World War II joke about the British being willing to fight to the last Frenchman. After 9/11 it is offensive for Americans to lecture Israel on dealing with organizations that are every bit as evil as Osama and his cronies.
Jewish-American voters have a long history of voting Democrat and I don’t expect it to change this election. I believe Bush knows this and is just doing what he thinks is right (especially in the light of 9/11). This is why Collins needs to invent the “calling” explanation. Protestant religious nuts are apparently even more pro-Israel than Jews and need to enable Israel to do whatever it wants. When I saw large groups of Palestinians dancing in the street after 9/11 I realized what kind of people they are and who they are aligned with. Since that time I have spent time learning more about Islam. Sites like MEMRI provide peeks into the Islamic world. We were in a war long before 9/11 and it will not end until they win or we win. Like it or not, Israel and America will have common interests for quite some time.
— Clif Briner
After reading Reid Collins’ piece on Bush and Israel, I saw again the word “assassination” being used after the killing of Hamas’s Rantisi. It’s all over the print press, TV and radio.
But why? If he is a terrorist that directs the killing of innocent Israelis, is he not a criminal?
Would our press call the killing of Osama bin Laden call it an “assassination”?
I doubt it.
— Greg Barnard
HANKS A LOT
Re: James Bowman’s review of The Ladykillers:
Actually, Tom Hanks’ take on the character put me less in mind of Alec Guinness or Colonel Sanders than Vincent Price…
— Richard McEnroe
Obviously Mr. Bowman has not lived in an old Southern town. Like the one I visited recently whose lone 7-Eleven store’s major window display was 5-gallon pails of hydraulic fluid. The police in The Ladykillers were totally in tune with their occupation. Tom Hanks, possibly overplaying his hand linguistically, otherwise gave a range of performance not seen from him before. The supporting characters were true to form. The use of the late husband’s picture to set tone for the scenes was priceless.
If the movie lacks anything it was pace. The fore piece of the movie was just a setup for the last 10 minutes of the film The last minute being sheer irony. Yes the new version lacks the mood of the older one. But that’s like comparing the House of Commons to a session of the U.S. Congress. Both have charms and each should be enjoyed in their own right. Same with The Ladykillers.
— John McGinnis
STRAUSSIAN OF THE WEEK
Re: Paul J. Cella III’s Locke Box:
It’s always nice to see in public space someone advocating the reading of political philosophy, especially when political science has regressed to become nothing more than the study of the mechanism’s of government and voter behavior. Outside of the cultural, economic, and social context in which government and voters are embedded, political science as practiced today is a trivial discipline at best and a sign of intellectual weakness at worst. Leo Strauss and John Dewey, of course, wouldn’t be surprised by this situation. However, just what, if anything, of an edifying nature did Paul Cella conclude in his Special Report article “Locke Box”? He writes at one point that:
“I have conceived of far more questions than answers, more problems than solutions, more drops-of-the-jaw than satisfied nods; and the most at once astonishing and exhilarating question of all, is the question which I have found myself confronted with repeatedly: ‘What was X philosopher really up to?'”
Huh? Is this supposed to pass as serious ruminating on philosophy? Sounds more like a freshmen in college who has just read Locke, Berkeley, Hume etc., for the first time. Or maybe it was? No?
— Josh Fischel
(Member of the Leo Strauss Society)
A RIDGE TOO FAR
Re: Wylie Merritt’s letter (“Shut Cabinet”) in Reader Mail’s Smile, Be Happy:
Wylie Merritt writes how Janet Reno presided over “Ruby Ridge, Waco, and the Elian Gonzalez repatriation.”
Under no circumstances am I one to defend former Attorney Generalissimo Janet Reno, one of the few Democrats I know of who can actually look credible in a tank commander helmet, but if I remember correctly the murders at Ruby Ridge occurred before she or her boss, Bill Clinton, took office.
When I recollect that and numerous other travesties that occurred during that four-year interregnum between Reagan and Clinton, I am relieved that our current president isn’t governing more like the previous President Bush. Both Bushes are good and decent men, but as president the son has already far surpassed the father. Thank God, though the acorn doesn’t fall far from the tree, sometimes it can roll away.
— Kevin McGehee
Coweta County, Georgia