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Location: Montgomery Area, Alabama, United States

Former BUFF driver; self-styled military historian; paid (a lot) to write about beating plowshares into swords; NOT Foamy the Squirrel, contrary to all appearances. Wesleyan Jihadi Name: Sibling Railgun of Reasoned Discourse

Saturday, April 25, 2009

The Somali Pirate Story - A More Complete Picture


I got this from a source whom I implicitly trust, who knew the author through the Naval Academy. I believe it's authentic because a) I trust the source and b) its author displays internally consistent knowledge of naval military detail that bespeaks someone in a position to know (e.g., the capitalization of ship names; something a naval man commonly does, but others don't do) - it "rings true." So far as I know, this has only been distributed in military channels. I saw it for the first time yesterday (that is, it's not yet "viral"). I have not modified it in any way, except to clean up the raw text formatting and spell out a few acronyms (oh, and add a couple of pix).

The most interesting aspect of the whole affair, other than the heroism and great exertion of the Navy and the Seals, was the President's involvement. Why was his intervention even remotely necessary? This was a matter that Joint Task Force Horn of Africa (who requested Seal Team 6) and the Capt of the Bainbridge could - and did, ultimately - handle. And note the Presidentially-directed interference of the Feeb (FBI) team - Obama's "guys." It's clear that O the Great and Powerful doesn't trust the military; is he also beginning to use domestic national-level law enforcement as his Gestapo? You decide...


This post splendidly fills in the details not then available when
"BAINBRIDGE - Pirate Story What Really Happened" was distributed on 20
April 2009.

Real story of Obama and the hostage

Your "Real" story is not exactly the way I heard it, and probably has a few political twists thrown in to stir the pot. Rather than me trying to correct it, I'll just tell you what I found out from my contacts at NSWC [Naval Surface Warfare Center] Norfolk and at SOCOM [US Special Operations Command] Tampa.

First though, let me orient you to familiarize you with the "terrain." In Africa from Djibouti at the southern end of the Red Sea eastward through the Gulf of Aden to round Cape Guardafui at the easternmost tip of Africa (also known as "The Horn of Africa") is about a 600 nm transit before you stand out into the Indian Ocean . That transit is comparable in distance to that from the mouth of the Mississippi at New Orleans to the tip of Florida at Key West -- except that 600 nm over there is infested with Somalia pirates.

Ships turning southward at the Horn of Africa transit the SLOC [sea line of communication or sea lane of commerce] along the east coast of Somalia because of the prevailing southerly currents there. It's about 1,500 nm on to Mombassa, which is just south of the equator in Kenya. Comparably, that's about the transit distance from Portland Maine down the east coast of the US to Miami Florida. In other words, the ocean area being patrolled by our naval forces off the coast of Somalia is comparable to that in the Gulf of Mexico from the Mississippi River east to Miami then up the eastern seaboard to Maine.

Second, let me globally orient you from our Naval Operating Base in Norfolk, VA, east across the Atlantic to North Africa, thence across the Med to Suez in Egypt, thence southward down the Red Sea to Djibouti at the Gulf of Aden, thence eastward to round Cape Guardafui at the easternmost tip of Africa, and thence southerly some 300 miles down the east cost of Somali out into the high seas of the Indian Ocean to the position of MV ALABAMA is a little more than 7,000 nm, and plus-nine time-zones ahead of EST.

Hold that thought, in that, a C-17 transport averaging a little better than 400 kts (SOG) takes the best part of 18 hours to make that trip. In the evening darkness late Thursday night, a team of Navy SEALs from NSWC Norfolk parachuted from such a C-17 into the black waters (no refraction of light) of the Indian Ocean-- close-aboard to our 40,000 ton amphibious assault ship, USS BOXER (LHD 4), the flagship of our ESG [Expeditionary Strike Group] in the AOR [Area Of Responsibility], the Gulf of Aden). They not only parachuted in with all of their "equipment," they had their own inflatable boats, RHIB's [rigid-hull inflatable boats] with them for over-water transport. They went into BOXER's landing dock, debarked, and staged for the rescue -- Thursday night.

And, let me comment on time-late: In that the SEAL's quick response-- departing ready-alert in less than 4 hours from Norfolk -- supposedly surprised POTUS's staff, whereas President Obama was miffed not to get his "cops" there before the Navy. He reportedly questioned his staff, "Will 'my' FBI people get there before the
Navy does?" It took the FBI almost 12 hours to put together a team and get them packed-up-- for an "at sea" rescue. The FBI was trying to tell him that they are not practiced to do this-- Navy SEALs are. But, BHO wanted the FBI there "to help," that is, carry out the Attorney General's (his) orders to negotiate the release of
Captain Phillips peacefully-- because apparently he doesn't trust GW's military to carry out his "political guidance."

The flight of the FBI's passenger jet took a little less than 14 hours at 500-some knots to get to Djibouti. BOXER'S helos picked them up and transported them out to the ship. The Navy SEALs were already there, staged, and ready to act by the time POTUS's FBI arrived on board latter that evening. Notably, the first request by the OSC [on-scene commander] that early Friday morning to take them out and save Captain Phillips was denied, to wit: "No, wait until 'my' FBI people get there."

Third, please consider a candid assessment of ability that finds that the FBI snipers had never practiced shooting from a rolling, pitching, yawing, surging, swaying, heaving platform -- and, target -- such as a ship and a lifeboat on the high seas. Navies have been doing since Admiral Nelson who had trained "Marines" to shoot muskets from the ship's rigging -- ironically, he was killed at sea in HMS VICTORY at the Battle of Trafalgar by a French Marine rifleman that shot him from the rigging of the French ship that they were grappling alongside.

Notably, when I was first training at USNA in 1955, the Navy was doing it with a SATU, Small Arms Training Unit, based at our Little Creek amphib base. Now, Navy SEAL's, in particular SEAL Team SIX (The "DevGru") based at NSWC at Little Creek do that training now, and hone their skills professionally -- daily. Shooting small arms from a ship is more of an accomplished "Art Form" than it is a practiced kill. When you are "in the bubble" and "in tune" with the harmonic motion you find, through practice, that you are "able to put three .308 slugs inside the head of a quarter at 100 meters, in day or night-- or, behind a camouflaged net or a thin enclosure, such as a superstructure bulkhead. Yes, we have the monocular scopes that can "see" heat -- and, draw a bead on it. SEALs are absolutely expert at it-- with the movie clips to prove it.

Okay, now try to imagine patrolling among the boats fishing everyday out on the Grand Banks off our New England coast, and then responding to a distress call from down around the waters between Florida and the Bahamas . Three points for you to consider here:
(1) Time-Distance-Speed relationships for ships on the high seas, for instance, at a 25-knot SOA (Speed Of Advance) it takes 24 hours to make good 600 nm -- BAINBRIDGE did.
(2) Fishermen work on the high seas, and (3) The best place to hide as a "fisherman" pirate is among other fishermen.

Early Wednesday morning, 4/8/2009, MV ALABAMA is at sea in the IO about 300 miles off the (east) coast of Somalia en route to Mombassa Kenya . Pirates in small boat start harassing her, and threatening her with weapons. MV ALABAMA 's captain sent out the distress call by radio, and ordered his Engineer to shut down the engines as well as the ship-service electrical generators-- in our lingo, "Go dark and cold." He informed his crew by radio what was happening, and ordered them to go to an out-of-the-way compartment and lock themselves in it-- from the inside. He would stay in the pilot house to "negotiate" with the pirates.

The pirates boarded, captured the Captain, and ordered him to start the engines. He said he would order his Engineer to do so, and he called down to Engine Control on the internal communication system, but got no answer. The lead pirate ordered two of his four men to go down and find him and get the engines started.

Inside a ship without any lights is like the definition of dark. The advantage goes to the people who work and live there. They jumped the two pirates in a dark passageway. Both pirates lost their weapons, but one managed to scramble and get away. The other they tied up, put tape over his mouth and a knife at his throat.

Other members of the crew opened the drain cocks on the pirates boat and cast it adrift. It foundered and sunk. The scrambling pirate made it back to the pilot house and told of his demise. The pirates took the Captain at gun point, and told him to launch one of his rescue boats (not a life boat, per se). As he was lowering the boat for them, the crew appeared with the other pirate to negotiate a trade. The crew let their hostage go to soon, and the pirates kept the captain. But, he purposefully had lowered the boat so it would jam.

With the rescue boat jammed, the pirates jumped over to a lifeboat and released it as the captain jumped in the water. They fired at him, made him stop, and grabbed him out of the water. Now, as night falls in the vastness of the Indian Ocean , we have the classic "Mexican" standoff, to wit: A life-boat that is just that, a life-
boat adrift without any means of propulsion except oars and paddles; and, a huge (by comparison) Motor Vessel Container Ship adrift with a crew that is not going to leave their captain behind. The pirates are enclosed under its shelter-covering, holding the captain as their hostage. The crew is hunkered down in their ship waiting for the "posse" to arrive.

After receiving MV ALABAMA 'S distress call, USS BAINBRIDGE (DDG 96) was dispatched by the ESG commander to respond to ALABAMA 's distress call. At best sustainable speed, she arrived on scene the day after-- that is, in the dark of that early Thursday morning. As BAINBRIDGE quietly and slowly, at darkened-ship without any lights to give her away, arrived on scene, please consider a recorded interview with the Chief Engineer of MV ALABAMA describing BAINBRIDGE's arrival. He said it was something else "... to see the Navy slide in there like a greyhound!" He then said as she slipped in closer he could see the "Stars and Stripes" flying from her masthead. He got choked up saying it was the "...proudest moment of my life."

Phew! Let that sink in.

Earlier in the day, one of the U.S.. Navy's Maritime Patrol Aircraft, a fixed wing P3C, flew over to recon the scene. They dropped a buoy with a radio to the pirates so that the Navy's interpreter could talk with the pirates. When BAINBRIDGE arrived, the pirates thought the radio to be a beaconing device, and threw it overboard. They wanted a satellite telephone so that they could call home for help.

Remember now, they are fishermen, not "Rocket Scientists," in that, they don't know that we can intercept the phone transmission also. MV ALABAMA provided them with a satellite phone. They called home back to "somebody" in Eyl Somalia (so that we now know where you live) to come out and get them. The "somebody" in Eyl said they would be out right away with other hostages, like 54 of them from other countries, and that they would be coming out in two of their pirated ships. Right-- and, the tooth fairy will let you have sex with her. Yea, in paradise. The "somebody" in Eyl just chalked up four more expendables as overhead for "the cost of operation." Next page.

Anyway, ESG will continue to "watch" Eyl for any ships standing out. The Navy SEAL team, SEAL TEAM SIX, from NSWC briefed the OSC (Commander Castellano, CO [commanding officer] BAINBRIDGE) on how they could rescue the captain from the life boat with swimmers -- "Combat Swimmers," per se. That plan was denied by POTUS because it put the captain in danger -- and, involved killing the pirates.

The FBI negotiators arrived on scene, and talked the pirates into sending their wounded man over for treatment Saturday morning. Later that afternoon, the SEAL's sent over their RHIB with food and water to recon the life boat but the pirates shot at it. They could have taken them out then (from being fired upon) but were denied
again being told that the captain was not in "imminent danger." The FBI negotiators calmed the situation by informing the pirates of threatening weather as they could see storm clouds closing from the horizon, and offered to tow the life boat. The pirates agreed, and BAINBRIDGE took them under tow in their wake at 30 meters-- exactly 30 meters, which is exactly the distance the SEALs practice their shooting skills.

With the lifeboat under tow, riding comfortably bow-down on BAINBRIDGE's wake-wave ("rooster tail"), had a 17-second period of harmonic motion, and at the end of every half-period (8.5 seconds) was steady on. The light-enhanced (infra-red heat) monocular scopes on the SEAL's .308 caliber Mark 11 Mod 0 H&K suppressor-fitted sniper rifles easily imaged their target very clearly. Pirates in a life boat at 30-meters could be compared to fish in a barrel. All that was necessary was to take out the plexiglass window so that it would not deflect the trajectory of the high velocity .308 round. So, a sniper (one of four) with a wad-cutter round (a flaxen sabot) would take out the window a split second before the kill-shot -- no change in sight-picture, just the window blowing out, clean.

Now, here's the part BHO's "whiz kids" knew as well as the Navy hierarchy, including CO BAINBRIDGE and CO SEAL TEAM SIX. It's the law in Article 19 of Appendix L in the "Convention of the High Seas" that the Commanding Officer of a US Ship on the high seas is obligated to respond to distress signals from any flagged ship (US or otherwise), and protect the life and property thereof when deemed to be in IMMINENT DANGER. So, in the final analysis, it would be Captain Castellano call as to "Imminent Danger," and that he alone was obligated (duty bound) to act accordingly.

Got the picture?

After medically attending to the wounded pirated, and feeding him, come first light (from the east) on Easter Sunday morning and the pirates saw they were being towed further out to sea (instead of westward toward land), the wounded pirate demanded to be returned to the lifeboat. There would BE NO more negotiations-- and, the four Navy SEAL snipers "in the bubble" went "Unlock." The pirate holding Captain Philips raised the gun to his head, and IMMINENT DANGER was so observed and noted in the Log as CO BAINBRIDGE gave the classic order: WEAPONS RELEASED! I can hear the echo in my earpiece now, "On my count (from 8.5 seconds), 3, 2, 1, !" POP, BANG! Out went the window, followed by three simultaneous shots. The scoreboard flashed: "GAME OVER, GAME OVER-- NAVY 3, PIRATES 0!"

I hope you found the above informative as best I know it-- and, please excuse me in that after more than 50 years the Navy is still in me. I submit that AMERICA is going to make a comeback, and more than likely it'll be on the back of our cherished youth serving with honor in Our military. So, let's Look Up, Get Up-- and, Never Give Up!

God Bless Our Troops, and GOD SAVE AMERICA!

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Wednesday, December 31, 2008


It's only fitting that we note a very sad anniversary before this year slips away. 2008 marks 75 years since Stalin deliberately starved Ukraine's "kulaks" in order to force rural collectivization and destroy Ukrainian nationalism.

The world gets tied up in wads about “The Holocaust” – and it should. The Holocaust is the archetypal genocide and one of the most hideous acts of deliberate evil in history, but we should pause occasionally to remember how horrific much of the 20th century was and that Europe’s Jews were not the only victims of genocide. (Just ask the Armenians, Ukrainians, Cambodians, Tutsi, and so many millions of Russians and Chinese…)

Perhaps six million died in the Holocaust. The Holodomor killed about seven million Ukrainians and over 14 million died all across Russia during forced collectivization. Learn more here and here. (Other links in updates as I find them.)

This begs the question, of course, of why events like the Holodomor are not remembered when the Holocaust is. Perhaps – just perhaps – it has something to do with the fact that socialism is coming back into vogue (if it ever went out) among the left that controls the West’s media. Perhaps it is inconvenient to show the real human cost of trying to implement socialism in the real world (as communism – yeah, I know, I know: “not the same thing!” Bullshit. Same religion, just different denominations). Deprecating Hitler costs the left nothing (nor should it); pointing out that former heroes of the left like Stalin and Mao were savage, ravening, mass-murdering monsters creates more problems.

So… few around will honor those who died in the Holodomor. Count me among those few.


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Saturday, December 27, 2008

Matt, Zachary, and Lyle

I deeply regret that I missed this comment when it was posted [it refers to this post]:

"I have just read the account of Zach's passing. I knew Lyle in High School. He and I shared my great times together. He was like my brother. After he got out of the Air Force we lost track of each other. It is with incredible sadness that I read this about his son. This should never have to happen to a parent and especially to someone as great as Lyle and Lois. I know it has been almost two years but now my heart breaks anew for both of them. I hope that they find peace in their lives. Lyle - Know that I pray for you and Lois and Zach.
Sincerely, Matt"

Matt posted this on 23 Sep 08. I am an idiot - I let Vita ab Alto languish for over a year, not posting or even checking comments, so I missed this when it came in. Matt, if you ever see this, I apologize.

Lyle was best man at my wedding to Karen Annie Sweetheart. We spent many years together in the Air Force, helping define the term "nerd" in ways that are approached only in places like Step Brothers (in fact, we wore NVGs together, but it was purely professional, I assure you) or Napoleon Dynamite (I seem to remember something like a Liger in one of Lyle's D&D games...) We had some pretty unique experiences, too: On one of the several TDYs I concocted to the Sacramento area as an excuse to visit KANH before we got married, Lyle volunteered as my copilot. His family was in Yuba City, so it was a win-win. However, we were both so familiar with the drive from Reno NV to Sacramento that, when we passed Reno VORTAC, we convinced ourselves that we had a good two hours before landing. Of course, it takes about a tenth of the time to fly the distance in a B-52 as it does to drive it... I think I got the flaps to 100% about midway down McClellan's runway and I think Lyle was still apologizing to Sac Approach on rollout. We (and the rest of the crew) walked away safely, nonetheless.

I, too, began to lose contact after Lyle and I left active duty. I'd heard nothing for almost a year before Zach's death. Of course, that was the time that the Sisson's were dealing with the final staqes of his disease.

I remember Lyle telling me about Matt many times, and once, when on one of those Sac TDYs, Lyle tried to link us up, but we weren't able to make it work. Nonetheless, I feel like I've met Matt and I regret that he, too, has lost contact with the Sissons.

I hope that both Matt and Lyle will see this some day. I, too, hope that Lyle and Lois have found peace in their lives and I pray for them frequently. I hope that Lyle and Lois will reappear someday and initiate contact with us and with Matt...

Maybe this Christmas season will see a change...


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Wednesday, December 24, 2008

A New Form of Embarrassment

Thinking to add a touch of culture to our lives, we bought season tickets to "Broadway Across America" in Birmingham. The season culminates in Wicked, which we all realy want to see. The initial offerings are not quite as well known, however. The first, which we attended last weekend, was Avenue Q. It's...umm...a puppet show. I knew it won a Tony and was popular some time ago. The ads said, "not for the very young." "That's okay," I thought. We have two teenaged daughters. "A little risque humor, an off-color joke or two - maybe a 'Will and Grace' sort of vibe - won't hurt them. Nice of the theater to warn people not to bring small children, though, thinking this is Sesame Street."


It IS Sesame Street.

...If Sesame Street were written by Will Farrell and John C. Reilly - "Step Brothers" meets Snuffleupagus. Better yet, think of the stoned high school "theater types" of Walter Kerr's God on the Gymnasium Floor saying, "hey, dude, let's make, like, a DIRTY Sesame Street!"

More F-bombs than GBU-12s on an Afghan wedding party; Bert is a gay Republican who secretly loves Ernie; Tellie Monster ("Trekkie Monster") is a porn-loving misanthrope; full-frontal puppet nudity... Like, totally EDGY, man! Oooh, they really stick it to educational television!

Still, Ave Q succeeds... Ultimately, a lot of it is cute and sweet; it has a nice ending; and you can't help but laugh, even at the Nasty Bits. Still, there's no form of embarrassment that quite equals sitting with two teenaged girls watching puppets have sex on stage...

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Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Congratulations, Hans!

Okay, I'm blogging again...after almost a two-year hiatus. Why? I've been inspired by publication of a book by friend and estwhile Vita ab Alto correspondent, Hans. Hans' real name is Rob Tate and I am now disgustingly jealous of him. He's just had a beautiful coffee table book published: "Hans-Joachim Marseille, an Illustrsated Tribute to the Luftwaffe's 'Star of Africa'."

I've called Rob "Hans" for years because he's had a serious man-crush on Marseille his entire adult life. (He gets me back: He calls me "Dieter.") Now Rob's put his encylopedic knowledge of his hero to good use and realized a long-time dream. Many friends of mine have been published, but never in such lavish fashion. His subject is interesting, too. Marseille was one of the Luftwaffe's uber-fighter pilots, of course, but he was also a complicated man and never a Nazi hack (despite the use the Reich's press made of him). If he'd been born in America, he would probably have been a Swing Kid.

I believe I will blog awhile longer now; I've become bored with my own professional writing and could use a more creative outlet. Besides, there's certainly no lack of things to comment on these days.

In any event, congratulations, Rob. Now is the time on Sprockets when we dance in praise of manly Germans!

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Friday, May 11, 2007

Blogging Again?

This seems like a pointless gesture, since no one reads this blog, but I can't bring myself to abandon the medium entirely. The last month has seen much activity -- a cruise, work-related trips, child care concerns -- that interfered with active blogging. Nonetheless, I will maintain this site as a means of recording some thoughts, even if the potential for generating threads of conversation is diminsihing. That's what I set this site up for, so if former frequent correspondents lioke ChefJeff still view the site, respond to this post and I will try to revive frequent blogging.


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Monday, April 02, 2007

God Has a Sense of Humor, Part 20,070,402

God has proven to me that he has a sense of humor more times than I can count.

One of the most notable examples for me was when The KANH and I vowed we'd NEVER return to Alabama (and weren't we glad to be out of that place). We not only returned, I retired in Alabama, work in Alabama, and have chosen to cast what's left of my fate there (although at least one of my kids wants to go to school in Tennessee -- her maternal grandfather would be proud).

The latest example of God's sense of humor regards the lefty but perceptive military analyst Bill Arkin. I have been one of the select few chosen to review and comment on drafts of a book Arkin is working on for the Air Force. It details Israel's recent campaign in Lebanon -- one that has plenty of "lessons learned" (read: mistakes) for airpower practioners to learn from. I hope Arkin doesn't read my blog. (Highly unlikely.....era-ending asteroid hitting the earth in the next five minutes unlikely, fortunately.)

Even more to the point regarding God's Sense of Humor: the book so far is perceptive and very well written. It's critical of airpower -- and my inputs will only make it more so -- but I am compelled to like it. More on the specifics later, when I can comment.

Still, I have to just shake my head and smile.


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Thursday, March 29, 2007

God on God's Side

Apologies for having abandoned the Blog for over three weeks. I know I have disappointed my readers (both of you), but I am a chapter away from completing a book and, unlike James Lileks, I cannot blog and write books (and chew gum) at the same time.

My apologies also to new commenter, Paul of Suffolk (no relation to Paul of Tarsus), who left the following comment on my last post:

Not sure guns and pressurised cabins really mix well !

Anyway I'd be genuinely interested in your comments on [his blog]:

I won't go into the details concerning types of ammo that mix well enough with cabins while not mixing well with the human body, except to say that some pilots and all air marshalls have carried guns for years. There are ways, as they say, to do these things.

Paul's blog is interesting; he seems a rather typical sort of skeptic -- I don't expect believers in Europe or Britain. (And yes, I distinguish the two. The UK is part of the Anglosphere; The Continent is not. Despite both bodies sharing a gernally post-Christian secularist culture, they're not the same beast.)

Paul says that is Jesus did exist, he was a socialist. Strictly speaking, I disagree. since "socialist" carries inappropriate political baggage; but I do believe he preached a form of socialism (yes, he was a long-haired, radical, socialist Jew...) Unfortunately, it will only work in a benevolent absolute dictatorship among an infinitely benevolent citizenry. Since we won't see such a thing until Christ returns, "socialism" in any other form eventually equals, at best tyrrany; at worst, mass starvation and/or genocide. Ask Robert Mugabe's subjects.

Paul categorizes believers as, one, those who wish to lord it over others using the Almighty as an excuse and, two, the irredeemably thick who want a certainty about life that doesn't exist.

Remarkably, it seems he's never encountered an intelligent person of serious belief. I suppose the last such people in his nation passed with C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien. (Although Polkinghorne is still around, unless he's moved to Missouri or something). I know many who fit in one or both of Paul's categories, but I am surrounded by serious people who lead examined lives and yet believe in a literal and personal God.

As to God being on "our side" (as his title puts it), He is, but on everyone's equally; He is beyond our petty squabbles. An infinite being loves infinitely and equitably.

Maybe Paul is our archetypal modern citizen; the model denizen of the Age of Hooper. I don't know. I do know, however, that he used to blog under the title of "Ale Fan," and that means a) we have something in common, and b) he can't be all bad.


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Monday, March 05, 2007

Another Dry Run

Here's one you won't hear about in the MSM, via LGF:

“This is not meant to scare, but it probably will. Consider yourself informed and warned that the threat is real. This crew reported that they were not prepared that something of this nature could be happening to them.

Flt 62, Paris to MIA [Miami], a few weeks ago. 2 maybe 4 mid-eastern types causing minor disturbance from the get-go. Nothing that the FAs [flight attendants] couldn’t deal with, but, in hindsight, they seemed to be pushing the envelope. Cross-cabin activity, hanging out in the forward galley, complaining about everything, etc. Mid-Atlantic, the FO [First Officer, or Co-Pilot] called to return to the cockpit after his crew-rest break. One of the perps [perpetrators] was in the forward galley, was instructed by a FA to go aft, but didn’t. As the cockpit door opened, another perp suddenly appeared from around the galley, dropped his shoulder into FO while the first one got in the way of the FO’s attempt to block the other…here I’m not certain…so….wait for the movie.

FO (one of our first FFDO’s [Federal Flight Deck Officers*]) was about to pull his flashlight to use as a weapon in a counter attack, but thought better of it not knowing how many more perps he might have to fight, called “lockdown” to the FB [secondary “B” First Officer], inside the cockpit, who slammed the door. As soon as the perps heard the word lockdown, they retreated to their seats.

I’m not doing justice to the story, but, if not an attempt on the cockpit, this was a serious probe.

Crew considered divert, but since the threat diminished and seemed to be contained, they pressed on towards MIA. Flight was met in MIA by FBI, FAMS [Federal Air Marshal Service] (none aboard, by the way), AA [American Airlines] Security suits, etc. During the de-brief, which lasted several hours, the FAMs told the pilots that they would have “dropped” both of the perps with the first shove near the cockpit door. Perps claimed to not understand English, were detained for 4 days and deported, back to Paris, when they are free to attend Sunday school, tell their buddies of their Adventure and plan their next move.

Enjoying the story so far? It’s good we can’t carry guns on Int’l [International] trips, eh?

Upsetting is that we all have to learn of this, by happenstance. Why didn’t you and your last crew know of this? We took a delay yesterday while this FB detailed the entire event to my crew. Believe me, there were no disbelievers that the terrorist threat is real in my crew by the time we boarded.

I’m more than upset that this is still a secret! The FB is a man I’ve flown with often, trust completely and attended FFDO (Federal Flight Deck Officer) training with a year ago January. I hope I’ve presented his story accurately, but am certain that the basic details are very close.

More reason to give every airline pilot a sidearm.


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Monday, February 26, 2007

A Message from Iraq

Here's a message from the pointy end of the spear to the American-Idol-besotted lemmings back home.

I can hear this Marine easily saying these words:

"I have neither the time nor the inclination to explain myself to one who rises and sleeps under the very of freedom I provide and then questions the manner in which I provide it. I would rather you just said, "thank you," and went on your way. Otherwise I suggest you pick up a weapon and stand to post...

...Either way, I do not give a DAMN who won American Idol or the Oscars."

Damn the traitors and backstabbers. Damn all of them.



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Friday, February 23, 2007

Nothing Like a Good Cuppa Joe and a Quagmire on a Friday Morning

Yes, folks, yet another quagmire:

An American Congress has got itself into a war it can’t win. It is stuck. Can’t move forward, can’t move back. And Congress is starting to take casualties. It doesn’t know which way to turn. It’s a quagmire.

The situation is dire, and congressmen everywhere are increasingly beleaguered. They have been unable to come up with any strategy for success, but more seriously, they haven’t been able to agree on a strategy for failure. One of their leading lights, Rep. John Murtha, has already been reduced to an object of derision and the danger is he will drag more of them down with him.

Congress spent four days … four days! … yammering earnestly, and then cast a strong, uncompromising, forceful non-binding resolution with a self-negating caveat. The president of the United States, in reaction to this devastating congressional shock-and-awe campaign, said, “Thank you, that was interesting.”

Since then, the Senate minority, wielding flimsy, antiquated procedural weapons, has tied down the Democratic juggernaut in the Senate.

The situation is increasingly desperate. Americans, who had seen in the Democratic Congress a chance to extricate themselves from an unpopular conflict, appear to be coming to the conclusion that Bush’s war is a more attractive choice than the Democratic peace. Here are some of the ugly facts on the ground:

Public Opinion Strategies found that 67 percent of voters think the country is going in the wrong direction and 60 percent think Iraq has no future as a stable democracy. But 57% believe “The Iraq War is a key part of the global war on terrorism” and that we have to keep our troops there and finish the job.

Hillary Clinton, trying out out-Obama Obama, is playing to the hard left in classic pre-primary strategy. That would be the 17% who favor immediate withdrawal.

A majority, 56 percent of likely voters, say “Even if they have concerns about his war policies, Americans should stand behind the President in Iraq because we are at war.” And 53 percent say, “The Democrats are going too far, too fast in pressing the President to withdraw the troops from Iraq.”

Other recent polls have found support for Bush’s troop surge surging, and while opposition to the war is high, so is opposition to (a) surrender, (b) losing, (c) defeat and (d) compelling the troops do do any of them same.

This poses a frightful dilemma for Dem Cong strategists. How to surrender without giving up? How to compel defeat without being seen to cause us to lose?

How indeed?

The "Dem Cong." Hadn't heard that one. I like it. Note by: Napalm sticks to Democrats.



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Monday, February 19, 2007

"Surge" Iraq? Bomb Iran?

Mudville Gazette, an excellent military site, has a good take on late the troop "surge." He says, with greater authority than I have in such matters, that the "surge" represents more a change in tactics than troop numbers:

Prime Minister Maliki has instructed his security forces that there will no longer be any political interference in military operations. Iraqi commanders have also been assured no neighborhood and no target is off limits.

That's a change for the good. Our troops have been operating under too-restrictive rules of engagement and rules for the use of force for most of the last several years. This declaration, coming from the Iraqi senior leadership, represents progress.

General Petraeus is adamant that to win this conflict we have to protect the population. Consequently, Iraqi army, Iraqi police, and coalition forces will actually live together in joint security stations throughout Baghdad in order to be closer to the Iraqi people that they are protecting. The additional forces will also enable us to create more transition teams to assist, teach, mentor and coach the Iraqi security forces. There will be both an increase in the number and size of the teams, and they will reach down to the lower-level units within the Iraqi army and police units.

Another change for the good, straight out of the Army and Marines' excellent (if airpower-ignorant) new manual on counterinsurgency, FM 3-24. .pdf available here. (Thanks, Rant Street.) We are finally doing something other than trying to chase insurgents out of their sanctuaries and then returning to our cantonments. That, and convoying between cantonments, is what most of our troops have spent the last two years doing. Al qaeda, Iran's Revolutionary Guard, and other "interested parties" have chosen Iraq as their place to make a stand and have staked much of their future on hurting us there. This is their fundamental strategic error (just as ours was to assume things would automatically go well once we toppled Saddam). So far, we've let our enemies win by not taking and holding their sanctuaries. Now..."straight out of the book"...we will deny those sanctuaries, stabilize them enough to hand them over to Iraqi security entirely, and then be able to use US forces to seal the borders with Syria and Iran. This represents what has changed much better than the MSM's stories of a "surge" in troops designed to "quell the insurrection" with "brute force."

How goes it? Powerlinehas a good take:

The sense is that the Sunni insurgents (or at least elements thereof) are choosing to stay and fight, while the Shia militias are mostly biding their time. This was proabably to be expected. The Sunni killers are the more desperate of our two adversaries. Moreover, to the extent that the Shia militias melt away, the role of the Sunni insurgents becomes increasingly problematic even within the Sunni community because they no longer can claim to be providing protecting against said militias. If the insurgents leave, it's unclear that they can return. If they stay but don't fight, they probably will be hunted down with increasing efficiency as their support erodes. Thus, their best option is probably to stay, blow things up, and hope that the Democrats can find a way promptly to abort our effort.

The Domocrats aborting our efforts? Say not so! A token example: John "Marine" Murtha is looking to hamstring our troops in Iraq, in order to ensure we can't win. This accords well with the aims of the left. If this isn't (or doesn't beome) Vietnam, how can the left congratulate itself for its romantic heroism, standing astride The Man's evil plot, yelling, "stop"? Allowing our troops fewer, not more, restrictions might actually create conditions that permit victory -- and US-Iraqi victory is the last thing the Democrats and the left want.

Back to Mudville: our friends there did make one intriguing comment that warrants touching on--

I suspect the media - in spite of vigorous denials by the administration - is trying to portray the US as on the brink of war with Iran. This allows Democrats - and Hillary Clinton in particular - to vociferously oppose this non-existent war. (To be fair, this also gets some conservatives very excited over the prospect of "taking out" Iran - their hopes will be dashed.) [emphasis added]

Astute, in the main...but I must address the issue of conservatives' "hopes being dashed." This comment may result from a perfectly understandable ground-pounder's misunderstanding of how we would go to war with Iran, should that become necessary. As I've pointed out elsewhere, we are able to take effective military action against both Iran's ruling regime (to isolate, not "decapitate") and its atomic infrastructure. However, the other way to read that comment is, I think, the correct way: their (our) hopes will be dashed because there is no reason to attack Iran right now. In fact, military effectiveness right now might be politically counterproductive -- and thus counterproductive in terms of producing the desired end state -- because Ahmandinechimp is not particularly popular in his own country right now. He came out of the political woodwork promising housing and riches for his country's poor population. Mismanagement and socialism-lite in the country have led to extremely high inflation and unemployment. This report does a good job of showing the situation Iran's leaders are facing -- and things have only gotten worse since it was published. It's so bad, you'd think Jimmy Carter was in charge of the country. Iran's large middle class is very discontented and may yet make things untenable for Iran's "elected" government and the Mullahs that really rule. Ahmandinejad is already routinely heckled at public appearances where he is actually in front of the public, rather than before a field of Revolutionary Guards goosestepping past ballistic missiles, or in front of a crowd of adoring savages at the UN. Much of Iran's atomic bluster is designed to rally the country around what the regime wants the public to believe is a foreign threat. This is also why Iran is playing its hand so openly in Iraq. It's always the way with failing dictatorships: rally the country around the flag to take their minds off of crappy conditions at home.

No...right now we should let events take their course in Iran. We can always bomb later if the regime does not bog down in its own "quagmire." Still, despite Mudville's opinion on the matter, we can do what we need to with bombing, should the time come.

links to a good summary of the situation in Iraq and Iran from Steve Natschke:

I recently de-mobilized after spending a total of three years at CENTCOM HQ beginning in Feb 2003. I didn't work on the OIF plan but I do know something about it. Phase IV was the least planned (by CENTCOM) part of OIF since nobody knew what would happen after the end of major combat activities and the Organization for Reconstruction and Humanitarian Assistance (ORHA) was supposed to do the planning and carry out many of the activities. In the end, there was little humanitarian assistance to be carried out and little reconstruction due to combat. Declaration of Phase IV has many legal implications in regard to the Geneva Conventions, the Law of Land Warfare, etc... I also believe that it is the demarcation of when the Department of State takes the lead. In any case, the slides, if they show anything, show that the enemy has a vote in how things turn out.

As I see it, things are turning out better than we expected from a GWOT point of view. Al Qaeda's decision to make a stand in Iraq has provided us with an opportunity to deal them a significant blow. They have invested many resources - there aren't that many suicide bombers out there - and much of their reputation counts on defeating us in Iraq. All we have to do is stay and we win. Iran is over-playing its hand and will see just as much trouble on their side of the border as they instigate in Iraq. All we have to do is stay and we win.

On the down side, of course, is our inability to play in the information war. I think this is part of the reason that the terrorists and the Democrats are natural allies - they are willing to say the most outrageous things and no one holds them to account. The truth may be on our side but it is not enough - it needs to be marketed. Unfortunately that is easier said than done and we, as a government, are not set up to do it. In fact, we are not set up to win wars efficiently. The very structure of our government prevents us from prosecuting wars efficiently and I doubt a change would be politically feasible. Aside from DoD, no one prepares for their part of the war fight and they don't train for or fund any activities that contribute to war time success. For now we will have to settle for less efficient war fighting

he's right about losing the "strategic communication" campaign (the doctrinally correct name for what he's talking about), but his central paragraph is the most important: things are better because our enemies have decided to make a stand in Iraq, Iran is overplaying its hand (because it has to for domestic consumption), and "all we have to do is stay and we win."

True. Unfortunately, we live in 2007, not 1957. There is no broad, bipartisan consensus about how to deal with the enemies of the West. And that is our greatest strategic weakness, one our enemies within islam and on the left are counting on.



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Wednesday, February 14, 2007

On Iran: A Disease and its Cure

Andrew Sttaford at National Review Online quotes some "straight talking from Anne Applebaum" concerning the possiblilty of military action against Iran. It reperesents a fairly good summary of the "we can't hit Iran and do any good" school of thought, so it deserves some serious attention.Here's most of the article, along with my comments:

Fact Number One:Iran is a large country containing 75 million people, in possession of a large and competent army.

The idea that Iran possesses a comptent army, born of communist/fascist-like images of troops goose-stepping before the Mullahs and Monkey Man in Tehran does not equal a competent miitary. Four well-placed, well-guided Mark-84s, followed up by a few CBUs to catch the stragglers, would take care of the complete parade. The ability to look good on parade does not equal military competence, at least against the US and UK. Besides, taking out large, competent armies is an American specialty.

We don't have the men, we don't have the machines and we don't have the money to stage an invasion.

Who, I might ask, has expressed any inclination to invade Iran on the ground? Where does this (prevalent) idea come from? Certainly not from competent military sources, who know what has to be done and how to do it. The mere question proves ignorance of how the military works and of the capabilities of air and space power.

If we were even to contemplate such a thing, we would have to reduce force levels
elsewhere, but where? In Iraq, the policy is to send more troops, the war in Afghanistan isn't going away anytime soon,

Of course we would have to move troops from somewhere else; one of the reasons we will not seriously contemplate putting "boots on the ground" in country. American ground forces in Iraq present a much more credible threat as a coercive presence -- implying that we can invade if the need arises. Implied pain is often a much more powerful convincer than actual pain. Military action against Iran will come from the air (and from sea-based air, of course).

...and, just as diplomacy there is starting to produce results, this isn't a great time to start monkeying about with the military balance on the Korean peninsula either...

No...a different situation presents itself there, because the DPRK possesses the ability to reduce Seoul to rubble -- causing millions of casualties -- even if we do succesfully take down their atomic infrastucture and national leaderhship from the air. The tens of thousands of gun tubes sitting in caves, pointed south, already have their orders. We can't act from the air there without incurring horrendous friendly civilian death and chaos. Iran presents no such difficulties -- its atomic capabilities are more dipersed, but still accessable, and its leadership/command-control infrastructure is just as contralized. AND...a vital difference...Iran does not present a credible conventional threat to us, in Iraq or elsewhere, and they know it.

This is one of the most unpopular presidents in recent memory, and he is already fighting an unpopular war.

Who better to launch further miltary action? His popularity has already tubed. What are the Demos and the people going to do -- vote him out of office? The Senate cannot vote to impeach, because it only takes 41 senators to fillibuster and, last I looked, the Repubs had 49 (and possibly Lieberman). It wouldn't be popular, but it would be effective and his actions might go down in history as equivalent to Truman's policy of containment, roundly criticized from both sides of the aisle back then. It may also contribute to a postive legacy and make his successor's job, Demo or Repub, easier.

More to the point, his credibility on intelligence matters was damaged - perhaps the better word is "eviscerated" - by the Iraq intelligence debacle, so no one is likely to believe his claims about Iranian nuclear prowess or Iranian anything, whatever the evidence. shows the danger of believing what the opinion of the beaurocratically mired, consensus-oreinted, and politically hostile intelligence "community" thinks about threats. Much of the information on Iran's atomic and missile threats come from what the Russians used to call "national technical means" -- factual inteligence that is subject to very little analytical interference. Much more credible stuff.

More to the point, Iran is not Saddam Hussein's Iraq, which had been under UN surveillance for a decade. It is a sovereign state which has relatively normal relations with America's allies, not to mention China and Russia.

America, with respect to this war and future military action anyway, has no real allies save within the Anglosphere, and even if it did, China and Russia would certaily not be among them (even though Russia is fighting much the same fight we are.

If we were even to contemplate such a thing, we would have to reduce force levels elsewhere, but where? In Iraq, the policy is to send more troops, the war in Afghanistan isn't going away anytime soon, and, just as diplomacy there is starting to produce results, this isn't a great time to start monkeying about with the military balance on the Korean peninsula either.

Again, no one in his or her right mind is considering a ground campaign in Iran. It's a huge country with naturally defensable approaches to its interior cities. Its population would probably be less hospitable to our invasion than Iraq's was. It might wind up a lot like Spain did to Napoleon, even through his troops were vastly superior in quality for most of that campaign. Our commanders know this.

Fact Number Two: even if we were to contemplate a more limited military strike - the bombing of Iranian nuclear facilities, for example - there are some pretty serious obstacles to overcome. The most serious is the fact that we don't know where all Iran's nuclear facilities are located, which is not a minor problem if we are contemplating their destruction. Even if we could hit a few of them, which we probably could, that would merely delay Iran's nuclear programme by a few years.

You underestimate the airpower of the dark side. Were not talking about a few cruise missiles thrown casually at empty training camps, as the Clinton Administration did. We're talking a full-blown campaign to destroy fixed infrastructure, command/control mechanisms and missile facilities (along with, most likely, attempted regime decaptation and suppression of Iran's air defense system). President Bush is making the case for regime take-down by connecting the al-Quds brigade's cadres in Iraq directly to its national government -- Achdumminimonkey and Mullah al-Shaitan are valid and legal miltary targets only if they are directly tied to command of military operations. Further, it won't matter if we don't get everything in Iran's atomic program. Setting them back ten years is a still a laudible goal. Ask the Israelis about bombing the Osirak atomic complex in 1981 about the validity of such a "limited" objetive.

What's more, we will have demonstrated that we have the capability to do this, which will create significant coercive power -- over Iran and other nations -- and our capability will only be better in ten years. An atomic bomb program is a big industrial enterprise and is much harder to hide and harden than chemical and, especially, biological capabilities are. This will not change with time. Even if Iran locates its atomic infrastructure below ground, we have a) weapons capable of reaching them, and b) can seal them underground for a long time (we're pretty good at finding air vents, for example).

Such a limited result hardly justifies either the political fallout or the (literal) environmental fallout which would follow. Even the Israelis, who do indeed believe that Iran's nuclear programme is designed to create the bomb that could destroy their country, appear unconvinced, at least for the moment, that selective bombing can succeed.

Bullshit. Much of the immediate political fallout will sound negative, but the real impact will be for governments around the world -- even our "friends" -- to rock back on their heels and say, "holy f&*K. The US can do this and they're serious." This will yield considerable coercive power and that is ultimately more important than popular opinion, despite what the chattering class thinks of the matter. Also, a campaign conducted from the air would take down much more than just the atomic program's indutrial infrastructure: air defense systems, Revoltionary Guards command/contol (C2) systems, central government C2 systems, making Tehran dark without killing anybody (an old Star Trek tactic) just to show that we can, and, if the right opportunity presents itself, perhaps taking down the regime's leaders as well.

Fact Number Three: neither at home, nor internationally, does the Bush Administration have a shred of support for military action of any kind.

And this is relevant because......?

This is one of the most unpopular presidents in recent memory, and he is already fighting an unpopular war. More to the point, his credibility on intelligence matters was damaged - perhaps the better word is "eviscerated" - by the Iraq intelligence debacle, so no one is likely to believe his claims about Iranian nuclear prowess or Iranian anything, whatever the evidence. More to the point, Iran is not Saddam Hussein's Iraq, which had been under UN surveillance for a decade. It is a sovereign state which has relatively normal relations with America's allies, not to mention China and Russia.

To quote one the great generals of the 20th century, Vo Nugyen Giap, "that fact, while true, is also irrelevant." The fact that Bush is in negative popularity numbers and is still digging gives him an advantage a first-term Repub or any Demo won't have: leeway -- the weather guage. Who cares? He's a fascist, jack-booted imperialist, evil, evil, evil cow-monkey (did I mention evil) to the netroots crowd already. Military action now may give moderates the same opinion, but who cares if action now makes the next president's job much easier?

Further, the UN's opinion? No longer relevant or credible. Thanks, Kofi!

Fact Number Four: contrary to some other British press reports, America is "talking" to Iran, or at any rate using diplomacy to deal with what is a nasty regime. In fact, the US Secretary of State, Condoleezza Rice, has pretty much staked her reputation on her belief that diplomacy, in co-operation with Germany, France and Britain, will produce results in Iran, just as it now appears to have done in North Korea. So far, it is true, these results - a weak UN Security Council resolution and some huffing and puffing - are thin.

I hope Condi Rice understands that negotiation and treaties can at best delay the use of force when that becomes inevitable. In the worst cases, it becomes a vehicle that a weaker power can use to strengthen itself while hamstringing a superior power. The Washington Treaties between World War I and II come to mind, as does SALT I. Diplomacy never works unless it involves a power with demonstrated unlimited power over a defeated adversary using it to hold knife to the defeated enemy' throat while going to concentrate on something else. (Most of Napoleon's diplomacy comes to mind.)

Nevertheless, President Bush on Monday night repeated his preference for diplomacy, calling the Iranians a "good, honest, decent people" with a "government that is belligerent, loud, noisy, threatening". America's, objective, he went on to explain, "is to keep the pressure so rational folks will show up and say it's not worth the isolation". For those who need a translation from Texan dialect, that means: "We really do hope they'll remove Ahmedinijad as rapidly as possible."

Standard presidential boiler plate. Maybe ahmedinisimian will be overthrown by his people. Maybe pigs will learn to fly while it begins raining beer. He has to throw around this kind of bullshit.

Of course it is true that American rhetoric about Iran has lately taken on a harsher tone, and that America is using some of what one Middle East expert, Tamara Wittes, calls "coercive diplomacy".

The administration has started to apply selective sanctions - restricting Iran's access to hard currency, for example - and has pointed out, rather late in the game, the fact of Iranian support for Iraqi militias and terrorists. They've sent a few ships in Iran's direction, and have also tried to get other Arab states to push back against Iranian intervention in Iraq as well as Lebanon.

There is some evidence that this sort of thing is working. It does indeed seem as if the good, honest, decent people of Iran are getting sick of their loud and noisy leaders, at least if election results can be believed.

Last weekend, Iran's nuclear negotiator also sounded more conciliatory when he offered to re-open the stalled Iranian-European negotiations. Iran's president has also gone out of his way to say that his country poses "no threat to Israel", despite earlier promises to "wipe Israel off the map".

Whatever. An aggressive will always tell a weak-willed adversary what it wants to hear.

But it is also true that at least one of Iran's tactics is also working. For some time now, the Iranians have been trying to play America off against Europe, so as to relieve the pressure on themselves. After all, if there aren't joint American-European sanctions, then the Iranians will find it that much easier to ignore them. Thus do the "war in Iran" headlines - guaranteed to stir up fear and loathing of the American government - feed right into Iranian interests.

Which matters: for we are at an unusual juncture in history. If Britain, France and Germany go along with America's "coercive diplomacy", that diplomacy might stand a slim chance of success. If they do not, then yes, the distant, but not completely unthinkable military option might begin to loom larger in the minds of politicians in both Washington and Tel Aviv.

Having started an unpopular war already, having no prospect of being re-elected to anything, President Bush might decide that, in the absence of allies, there is no other way. For the first time in a long time, it really is up to Europeans to influence what comes next.

Like I said before, Bush has the weather guage becuase he has nothing to lose. That's why his rhetoric is becoming more "coercive" (how can rhetoric "coerce" without force or its implied use? Go back and read your Schelling) as the planning goes on...



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Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Outrage, a Bit Late

I've met Bill Arkin. He did some fine reporting back the '90s concerning Iraqi WMD and UNSCOM's failures to adequately monitor Iraqi programs. When he held a colloquium with some of us back when I taught at Air University, he did not seem anti-military, especially for a self-proclaimed liberal.

So it came as something of a surprise when, week before last, he delivered one of the most egregious anti-military screeds yet heard from the left. It has taken me a week to calm down enough to respond in a relatively reasoned manner. Thursday before last he wrote:

I'm all for everyone expressing their opinion, even those who wear the uniform of the United States Army. But I also hope that military commanders took the soldiers aside after the story and explained to them why it wasn't for them to disapprove of the American people...
...[NBC reporter] Engel relayed how "troops here say they are increasingly frustrated by American criticism of the war. Many take it personally, believing it is also criticism of what they've been fighting for."

...These soldiers should be grateful that the American public, which by all polls overwhelmingly disapproves of the Iraq war and the President's handling of it, do still offer their support to them, and their respect...

...Through every Abu Ghraib and Haditha, through every rape and murder, the American public has indulged those in uniform, accepting that the incidents were the product of bad apples or even of some administration or command order...

...So, we pay the soldiers a decent wage, take care of their families, provide them with housing and medical care and vast social support systems and ship obscene amenities into the war zone for them, we support them in every possible way, and their attitude is that we should in addition roll over and play dead, defer to the military and the generals and let them fight their war, and give up our rights and responsibilities to speak up because they are above society?

...But it is the United States, and the recent NBC report is just an ugly reminder of the price we pay for a mercenary - oops sorry, volunteer - force that thinks it is doing the dirty work...

...I'll accept that the soldiers, in order to soldier on, have to believe that they are manning the parapet, and that's where their frustrations come in. I'll accept as well that they are young and naïve and are frustrated with their own lack of progress and the never changing situation in Iraq. Cut off from society and constantly told that everyone supports them, no wonder the debate back home confuses them.

America needs to ponder what it is we really owe those in uniform. I don't believe America needs a draft though I imagine we'd be having a different discussion if we had one.

Outrageous. I have never seen a more insulting swipe at the military and their families.

Last week, I wrote a fisking of his column, using language that was very insulting to the public, to those elements of the public who don't support the war, to Mister Arkin, and to members of his lineage. I will not repeat it here. However, decent wage? That's why half of the enlisted in my previous squadron were on food stamps. We are not robots, we are not idiots, we are not baby killers...and, Mister Arkin...the public owes us, we do not owe the public.

Preventing the kind of stab in the back we recieved from the mainstream media and the anti-war crowd in Vietnam is one of the main reasons I joined the military...voluntarily Mister Arkin, not as a mercenary...and I vowed then that I would never see my country go through this again -- taking whatever means are necesary to prevent it..."all enemies, foreign and domestic" the oath we swear. Those are words Mister Arkin would do well to remember. He would do well to remember these words as well:

Son, we live in a world that has walls and those walls need to be guarded by men with guns. Who's gonna do it? You? ...I have a greater responsibility than you can possibly fathom. You weep for [the public] and curse the [military]; you have that luxury. You have the luxury of not knowing what I know: that [a trooper's] death, while tragic, probably saved lives and that my existence, while grotesque and incomprehensible to you, saves lives.

You don't want the truth because deep down in places you don't talk about at parties you want me on that wall, you need me on that wall. We use words like honor, code, loyalty. We use them as the backbone of a life trying to defend something. You use them as a punchline. I have neither the time nor the inclination to explain myself to a man who rises and sleeps under the blanket of the very freedom I provide and then questions the manner in which I provide it. I would rather you just said "thank you," and went on your way. Otherwise, I suggest that you pick up a weapon and stand to post. Either way, I don't give a damn what you think...

...Mister Arkin. 'Nuf said.


Update 23 Feb 07: Further Bill Arkin sophistic treason:

The troops need a little re-education...

As Stalin did in his "re-education" camps, presuably.

...I'm also critical of these troops' commanders, who indoctrinate these troops and teach these troops about the nature of American government, about the war, about the struggle they're involved in...

Mindless automatons and blank slates, which the evil officers inclucate war-kill-war, like the clone armies in Star Wars.

...Ultimately, those young men are our servants, we are not thier survants...

Yeeze. True as far as it goes, but I do not serve those who represent domestic enemies, per the sacred oath I swore so many years ago. There is a superiority to our domnestic enemies, Mister Arkin, and thus there is a Rubicon to be crossed when more of the public opposes the troops than support it. We may be pretty f&ckin close to that line now, you son of a bitch. Closer than you realize.

Okay, I'm getting emotional again. Hard not to when the issue of "the public" vs.the "miltary" comes up.

Arkin also offered a non-apology in a CSpan press conference the day following the blogstorm of reaction to his orinal screed. Apology most certainly not accepteed Mr Arkin.

Mr Arkin also responded with a condescending Wapo column a few days after the controversy over his remark started to boil (albeit the MSM didn't pick it up for about a week after the original comunm):

The Arrogant and Intolerant Speak Out

These are opinions about the war in Iraq and the "war" against terrorism. They aren't facts. I understand people need to believe that the United States is engaged in a grand and noble mission to continue to support the deaths and sacrifices being made by American forces. Nonetheless, there is also an equally valid opinion that not only is the United States NOT involved in some fight for our lives in Iraq but that our military actions merely increases and complicates our insecurities tomorrow.

An army Major with the 1st Cavalry in Baghdad writes: "there is no way to accurately opine about the war unless you've been on the ground."

KJ (and many others) adds that I am just "sitting in the lap of luxury that is the United States."

Again, I understand the frustration of those in uniform and the supporters of the war. But these are not the only people who have a valid opinion, and there is great danger for the nation - as Bush-Cheney and company have already demonstrated - when people arrogate to themselves the sole determinant to make a judgment about national security.

The Army Major goes on to say that "soldiers -- unlike journalists -- have values inculcated from the very beginning of basic training."

D speaks of "last week's leftist freak show in D.C." to describe anti-war protest.

"Sitting in the lap of luxury" hits the nail on the head. There are many in the US who perform vital and noble roles -- firemen, doctors, ministers, etc. -- and perform them well. This group most certainly does not include journalists -- the chattering class -- nor does it include those Americans who care more about the next episode of "American Idol" and when their next shit is coming -- and who disregard thier right to vote -- than it does about those with the vocation of defending our way of life. And it is a vocation, Mister Arkin. Make no mistatke about it. Most every member believes he is defending that "wall."

Further...if understand you correctly, Mister Arkin, those with pro-war sentiments -- especially those in the mindwashed military -- don't have the right to defend the war, because they are members of the poplation living under the delusions created by our Evil Masters, while you and your noble Resistance are the only ones with the moral right to speak out against the war, precisely beause you don't support it. Am I getting this right? And those who believe we are engaged in a larger war than Afghanistan and Iraq entail are equally mindwashed and have similarly pathetic beliefs.

For you and those like you, Mister Arkin: there are only two types of opinion, valid and invalid. Generally, those closest to the source on which the opinion is based have the advantage of being bolstered by facts.


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Thursday, February 01, 2007

Global Balding

Via Pajams Media, England's daily mail has an interesting story about how (human caused! -- Al Gore) "global warning" (junk science! -- reputable scientific community) has caused hedgehogs to "go bald" -- losing their prickles:

A nice, soft fluffy coat is of little use to a hedgehog.

But poor old Glen is having to make do without any prickles - apparently thanks to global warming.

Vets believe his freak appearance was caused by the stress of missing out on his winter hibernation.

Alison Pearson, who runs the nearby Border Beasties hedgehog sanctuary, said: "A lot of creatures miss out on hibernation. They don't recognise it is autumn because the weather is too warm or they hibernate and wake up after a few days of mild weather.

"We believe this little fellow missed out on his hibernation altogether and the stress of still being awake and trying to fend for himself has caused him to shed his prickles."

What could be the cause of this except the SUVs and cow farts that Al Gore -- now up for an Oscar and the Nobel Peace Prize -- has identified as the source of the, 3... no, 350-degree heating that the surface of the Earth is melting under. If the bourgeoisie only stopped driving its gas guzzlers and quit exloiting cowdom, all would be put right (or left).

Never mind that this is junk science. There has been a one to two degree rise in surface temperatures over the last few decades, but there is no direct evidence that this is solely, or even partly, due to human activity.

Meawhile, the sheeple have been stirred into a froth of global warming worry due toAl's and the MSM's / leftist establishment's uncritical effort to undermine any form of Capitalism that does not directly benefit them (like the small private jet and mansion (say...28,000 square feet) industries).

It was amazing to me back in the early '90s how quickly the left turned from support for communism and the Soviet Union to support for the anti-Capitalist green movement. They didn't miss a beat. The fringes of the environmental movement want nothing short of an enviromentally / Veganish new Dark Age to "bring us back to year zero." They would, of course, running the dictatorship of the envronmentally-aware bourgeoisie. Only now, however, are they wielding significant influence through the global warning scare.

To do my part, I drive a large SUV (and before that drove a high-top van that got 10-11 MPG), a fast sedan, and next year am contemplating buying a large diesel truck to better pull my dual-gas-engine 24-foot boat. As a conspicous consumer and polluter, it's all I can afford for now, sadly. But I drive a gas-powered ridding lawn mower. Might buy some cows too and feed them burritos laced with jalapenos.

Ahh, the sweet smell of bovine flatulence... Next to afterburned jet fuel, it's the best smell of freedom I know!


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Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Is Europe Lost?

Is Europe already lost to islam? Bernard Lewis, the world's foremist islamic scholar, thinks so:

Islam could soon be the dominant force in a Europe which, in the name of political correctness, has abdicated the battle for cultural and religious control, Prof. Bernard Lewis, the world-renowned Middle Eastern and Islamic scholar, said on Sunday.

The Muslims “seem to be about to take over Europe,” Lewis said at a special briefing with the editorial staff of The Jerusalem Post. Asked what this meant for the continent’s Jews, he responded, “The outlook for the Jewish communities of Europe is dim.” Soon, he warned, the only pertinent question regarding Europe’s future would be, “Will it be an Islamized Europe or Europeanized Islam?” The growing sway of Islam in Europe was of particular concern given the rising support within the Islamic world for extremist and terrorist movements, said Lewis.

Lewis, whose numerous books include the recent What Went Wrong?: The Clash Between Islam and Modernity in the Middle East, and The Crisis of Islam: Holy War and Unholy Terror, would set no timetable for this drastic shift in Europe, instead focusing on the process, which he said would be assisted by “immigration and democracy.” Instead of fighting the threat, he elaborated, Europeans had given up.

“Europeans are losing their own loyalties and their own self-confidence,” he said. “They have no respect for their own culture.” Europeans had “surrendered” on every issue with regard to Islam in a mood of “self-abasement,” “political correctness” and “multi-culturalism,” said Lewis, who was born in London to middle-class Jewish parents but has long lived in the United States.

The threat of extremist Islam goes far beyond Europe, Lewis stressed, turning to the potential impact of Iran going nuclear under its current regime

You surprised? Shouldn't be.


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Monday, January 29, 2007

Death of a Mahdi

In Arabic, "Mahdi" means "Messiah." The words are directly cognate and the second is a Greek attempt at transliteration of the first. People of the region encompassing the Arabian Peninsula and the Fertile Crescent have been looking for one for at least three thousand years.

Of course, there can be only one -- an idea that's lost on muslims.

The real one died on a cross about two thousand years ago.

But that is not the topic of this post. Since Shi'a and Sunni separated following the death of Mohammed, the Shi'a have had (at least) dozens of Mahdi. One died of typhus a few years before Lord Kitchener's army tore his troops apart with machine guns at Omdurman in 1898 (where Winston Churchill won his first fame).

Another died on January 28th, apparently at the hands of Iraqi infantry, supported by US helicopters, tanks, and (most effectively, of course) aircraft.

The fact that the Iraqi Army can dispose of extraneous Mahdi is tesimony to the improvement in their capabilities, but you won't hear that in the mainstream media. There, you'll only hear that an American helicopter was shot down and two Americans were killed -- just as you would have heard from them as they were stabbing the US military in the back during Vietnam.

This also shows that the US and Iraqi governments are making some progress in counterinsurgency, although I was hoping they'd go after Sunni insurgents first, especially with the Shi'ite holiday of Ashura coming up so soon. It sounds as if Iraqi and US forces encountered both, but the Mahdi's army lost most of its fighting strength -- around 600. Good job, boys -- both Iraqi and American


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Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Izmud: Squishy Conservatism

Correspondent Izmud left a comment after a long hiatus. I'm glad to see him back. Welcome! He comments:

Izmud scored 22 -- very interesting. I didn't like some of the choices.

He refers to this post. I have to admit that I didn't like some of the choices either, although I scored a 35 (the higher the score, the more conservative the participant.) I suspect Izmud is much further up the scale, naturally inclined toward a 45 (40 is the max), which puts him only five points behind Hitler.

Nonetheless, his published score puts him in line between Colin Powell and Bush XLI: a squishy-soft, fence-sitting "moderate." You know the type: right between "don't kill too many of the enemy when we go to war" and "let's raise taxes more than any Democrat in history" after promising "no new taxes."

Let's build a political quiz of our own, with real choices like:

"Which better describes your attitude toward foreign policy:"
A _ Fascist jackbooted Amerikkka deserved 9/11
B - Kill them all; let God sort them out

My answer is "B"


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Monday, January 08, 2007

Iraq's Natural State

Tech Central Station today features an excellent summary of a brilliant pamphlet and expands its discussion to include implications for our venture in Iraq. The book is The Natural State: The Political Economy of Non-Development (available as a .pdf). The article is "Iraq's Natural State," by Arnold Kling.

The Natural State delineates three types of societies:

Primitive orders are small bands of hunter-gatherers.... Limited-access orders are societies that provide meaningful political and economic rights only to narrow elites. Open-access orders are capitalist democracies that give political and economic rights to most citizens. [The pamphlet's authors] argue that limited-access orders are the "natural state:" they are stable, they resist economic progress, and they only rarely make the transition to open-access orders.

The pamphlet goes on to describe the characteristics of the limited access orders that make up the bulk of world governments:

The limited access order is a social equilibrium. The equilibria share common characteristics:

1) Control of violence through elite privileges.

2) Limits on access to trade.

3) Relatively strong property right protection for elites and relatively weak property right protection for non-elites. To the extent a natural state is characterized by the rule of law, it is for elites.

4) Restrictions on entry into and exit from economic, political, religious, educational, and military organizations.

The central feature of the transition is the development of impersonal exchange among elites. Personal exchange involves a personal, on-going relationship between the exchange parties so that repeated dealings can be a central aspect of exchange enforcement. If one party cheats another, they risk losing the relationship and the benefits it implies. The necessity for repeated interaction limits the range of exchanges of any one individual.

In contrast, impersonal exchange involves parties without long-term personal relationships who may make a single exchange. Impersonal exchange requires that the parties to the exchange be confident enough that their rights and obligations will be secure despite the absence of repeated dealings. Impersonal exchange therefore requires some form of third-party enforcement.

The pamphlet argues that there are three conditions necessary for a limited-access order to transition to an open-access society:

1. The rule of law for controlling elites

2. Perpetual life for basic social institutions (i.e., not requiring just personal relations between their leaders to remain functioning)

3. Civilian control of the military

Ultimately, institutions are held together by personal, family, or tribal loyalty. Open-order societies are impossible under such structures. The pamphlet also states that the natural alternative to the limited-access order is chaos (and, as our founding fathers understood, ultimately greater tyrrany).

Implications for Iraq. Kline states:

Iraq under Saddam Hussein was a limited-access order, or "natural state." NWW claim that such states resist the change to open-access orders. They resist our attempts to stimulate economic development, because true economic development requires fair competition, which threatens the privileges that are the stabilizing element in limited-access orders. Although NWW do not discuss "nation-building," it seems reasonable to infer that they would take an equally dim view of that notion.

Iraq was never on the "doorstep" of becoming an open-access order. The major factions are not willing to give up their weapons and concede military power to a central coalition. There are no perpetual-lived organizations that can make long-term contractual commitments. There is not even a willingness among factions to grant one another rights under the rule of law.

Accordingly, I would say that there is no chance that the United States will succeed in its objective of establishing an open-access order in Iraq. The best we can hope to do is restore Iraq to a natural state, meaning a limited-access order where rights and power are exclusive to certain elites, who will be subject neither to economic nor political competition as we know it.

For a limited-access order to emerge, the leaders of each major faction in Iraq must have a stake in peace. For each leader, that means having enough exclusive economic and political rights to feel that he has more to lose than to gain by resorting to violence.

If we want to set up a limited-access order, then we have to determine which factions we want to have in the governing coalition, and we must give each of them something of value in return for maintaining peace. To put it crudely (so to speak), one could imagine giving each major party in a coalition government control over a particular set of oil wells. Factions that we do not want in the coalition (Al Qaeda in Iraq, for example) would have to be hunted down and killed. Factions that receive an allocation of oil wells but continue to engage in violence would have to be declared outlaws and deprived of personal security, with their oil resources confiscated and redistributed to other factions.

Daunting prospects, but accurate I think. Iraq ruled by a strong oligarchy well-disposed toward us better than Iraq's growing chaos,


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Friday, January 05, 2007

A Political Quiz

Via Instapundit, here's a neat little quiz to determine your "political quotient." Zero (approproately enough) equals extreme leftist veiws like Jesse Jackson's. The highest score (40) puts you in company with Ronald Reagan. I scored a 35, despite broad agreement with liberal friends like Chefjef on many issues.

What's your score?


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First Amendment, Smurst Amendment...

An indication of what our incoming congressional majority thinks of the right to free speech, via Pajamas Media:

Rep. John Conyers [Democrat - Michiganistan] sponsors HR 288 which “condemn[s] bigotry and religious intolerance, and recogniz[es] that holy books of every religion should be treated with dignity and respect.” Baron Bodissey calls it “a CAIR-sponsored Trojan horse, ready to be rolled through the gates into the First Amendment.”

Pelosi's agenda: Let's make the whole nation a bit more like the UC Berkeley campus. Let's see if it passes.


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Thursday, January 04, 2007

In Holland, Christianity is Dead...Long Live Christianity!

Via the Weekly Standard, a very encouraging report from the Netherlands -- no longer a nether land for Christian worship:

God is back in Europe's most notoriously liberal country. Or rather: The Dutch are moving back to God. It seems an implausible hypothesis. After all, Europe was supposed to have entered the realm of post-Christianity, to use C.S. Lewis's term--a state of eternal unbelief from which there is no return. And yet, [authors of a recent study] claim, the Dutch are turning back. Take the almost unnoticed reintroduction of crucifixes and other religious artifacts into the classrooms of Catholic schools throughout the country. Years of gradual but seemingly unstoppable secularization have given way to a reaffirmation of old religious identities.

The reason the Christian population of Holland has stopped shrinking and is likely to avoid further decline is a phenomenon that until now has been largely overlooked by commentators on Dutch politics and society: Christian immigration. Analysts usually focus on the one million Muslim immigrants and their offspring who have made the Netherlands their home since the early 1950s. But in the past decade, Muslim immigration has been overtaken by a larger stream of immigrants, namely Christians from Africa, Asia, the Americas, and Europe. An SCP estimate puts the number of Christian immigrants in Holland at around 700,000 -- and rising fast. Recent immigration reports suggest that for every new Muslim moving to Holland, there are at least two new Christian immigrants.

Excellent news all around. Let's hope this phenomenon extends all across the Decadent Old Man. This sort of demographic pressure will change the face of Europe -- for the better -- and perhaps prevent a war with islam for its possession (or at least help us win that war...)


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The First Hundred Hours...

...begins today. We will see what the new Congress holds for us. Will the uni-partisan hundred-hour sequestration produce a responsible and ambitious legislative agenda that will help bridge partisan divides, or will it try to usher in a tribute to Haight-Ashbury hippy culture native to its leader, Nancy Pelosi (which translates as "water pipe" in idiomatic Italian). Some of the initiatives sound reasonable: a reputed moratorium on pork barrel bill riders and severe curtailment of lobbyist perks. Much of the rest remains murky, and probably deliberately so, since it may not play well in Peoria. Or across the aisles.

Again, these first few weeks and months of the 110th Congress will give us a chance to see whether the Democrats will attempt to govern responsibly (which for them means "business as usual in Washington") or will attempt to play to their radicalized base (where Speaker Pelosi claims her roots).

Much of their program is to be revealed today and tomorrow. Those of us disgusted with both parties will watch carefully to see whether Iperial Government continues its perk-filled romp, the pot-head left attempts to usher in Hippy Heaven in the halls of the Capitol, or there will be some genuine effort to change things for the good. I honestly expect some combination of the three.

I do not fear what I know is coming from the left in foreign policy: leftist internationalism, appeasement, and defeat in Iraq. Every sign of weakness we show now only hastens and makes worse the war we will have to fight later. Hastening it is not necessarily a bad thing, however. Nothing the Democrats can do, short of winning the war we are already fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan, can prevent the war that is to come. By hastening it, they may even reduce the severity of the measures necessary to win it. In any case, their inevitable wavering and appeasement will certainly encourage our eneies -- perhaps making them take us for granted, as did Germany and Japan in WW II. Let's take the long view and hope so.


Update 4 Jan
: I t appears they've gotten off to a decent start, by booting Rep WIlliam "Frosty" Jeferson off the House Ways and Means Committee by an ooverwhelming majority, after a debate in which only speaker Pelosi publically defended his removal. Several members of the Democratic Black Caucus objected that Poleosi was acting like an "empress," but she held her ground and defended the move. This bodes well. I'm no fan of Pelosi's, but this is an encouraging sign and represents a much more neutral stance than I expected from the incoming Congress.

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