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December 2006 Archives

December 31, 2006

The moral case for Saddam's execution

By Donald Sensing at 00:11
My colleague, the Rev. John Krenson (RCC), has posted an essay at my own site on making the moral case for executing Saddam Hussein.
The Church has traditionally left the question of capital punishment as a moral decision - that is, there is not an absolutist position as there is with, for example, abortion. Even as the contemporary Church has been "tightening the noose" on the moral justification of the death penalty (pardon the analogy) it has still not declared an authoritative absolutist position (I realize this matters not to many non-Catholics, but it is important to Catholics and it does carry a certain amount of weight politically in the world). Cardinal Renato Martino, a former Vatican envoy to the UN and top prelate for justice issues, has condemned the execution of Saddam; that's his opinion and perhaps he accurately reflects the opinion of others in the Vatican, perhaps the Pope himself. Martino has also been known to make past ridiculous and irresponsible positions particularly with regard to Iraq. But a case for the morality of Saddam's execution can be made.
Read the rest!
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  • Independent Observer: A somewhat related question which merits discussion: Do Europeans still read more
  • Mark Eichenlaub: This tyrant's time was well overdue and he's been lucky read more
  • Tom Cohoe: Either he was hung for what he did, or it read more

December 30, 2006


By 'Cicero' at 15:47

On the way to his execution, Saddam Hussein said, "Iraq without me is nothing."

I am glad the Saddam era is over. But I wouldn't say I am relieved. I wonder if his last words are prescient. The nation called Iraq is slipping into civil war. Indeed, is Iraq a nation? Is its national continuity impossible without the bindings of a brutal autocrat? Much relies on the answer to this question.

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  • Kristjan Wager: The Heritage Foundation also reports that "Wages are set through read more
  • J Aguilar: Alon Levy (#26) Countries of all sizes use aggression and read more
  • Daniel Markham: Luther wanted a more stricter application of the creed, sure, read more

Saddam is Dead

By 'Molon Labe' at 03:09

Arabiyah reports that the execution of Saddam has occurred, after the first call to prayer and a little while before the sun rises in Baghdad.

No official confirmation by the Iraqi government yet and no word on the 2 co-defendents also sentenced to death.

UPDATE: The Iraqi state-run TV service Iraqiya confirms Saddam's execution. Al Arabiya reports that the co-defendents, Saddam's half-brother Barzan al-Tikriti (who headed the secret police) and Awad Hamed Al-Bander (chief judge under Saddam) have also now been executed. Al Arabiya also reports that the executions were held at a location outside the Green Zone.

UPDATE: WOC commenter Beard asks "Why not keep him alive in prison?" and "Is the mission over now?" My response is summarized in the comment thread here.

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  • viccol: Buy RuneScape Money, RuneScape Gold on 1.We are read more
  • Independent Observer: Andrew, why can't the left admit that: 1. It is read more
  • corvan: Beard, You would have done well to read Andrew J. read more

December 29, 2006

Tyrants, Lacrosse Players and Prosecutorial Abuse

By 'Molon Labe' at 22:01

UPDATE: Fox is reporting that the DC appeals court has formally refused to intervene in the handover of Saddam for execution. More updates at the top of this post as events unfold.

So Saddam will likely hang sometime before Saturday evening. UPDATE: Perhaps by 10 pm EST tonight, although there seem to be a lot of conflicting claims being made by various officials.

Whenever it happens, it will be a quick end and long overdue. Most importantly, a difficult and important step in the creation of a stable representative government based on law, no small achievement in the mess that has been the Middle East for many centuries.

Justice well served, in my opinion and in the opinion of many Iraqis. But not in the opinion of Ramsey Clark, Saddam's legal team who have filed suit in the US judicial system to stop the execution , or of Clark's fellow travellers in Europe. Clark, of course, is a leftist willing to defend a sadistic thug so long as he opposed the US. Like the European critics who demand procedural perfection while ignoring substance, Clark suffers from a fatal loss of perspective. What was once a principled stand has degenerated into a Pascalian diversion, a way to avoid making difficult judgement calls in an imperfect world.

When I am asked why I no longer support the Democratic party or its positions, I have only to point to several decades of this masterbatory focus on process to the exclusion of substance. It is smothering our own democracy and has been rightly rejected by the Iraqis making the very hard calls on behalf of their own people and fledgling government.

And I can't help but wonder where the ACLU has been during the last 9 months of a truly egregious example of prosecutorial abuse in Durham NC. Even the Bar Association in that notoriously good-old-boy-connected state has rebuked Michael Nifong's outrageous and irresponsible misuse of his public office. Three young men have had their sports careers, their schooling, their post-graduate plans and their lives irreparably damaged with nary a notice or complaint on the part of our self-appointed keepers of Process. While the Iraqis struggle to establish credibility and accountability in their legal system in a case which is arguably without precedent, here in our own country a Democrat got himself re-elected by eroding and manipulating the credibility of his office at the expense of what are clearly innocent parties who have the misfortune of attending an elite university in a city with long and old racial and class divisions. And the left's self-appointed defenders of freedom and due process couldn't give a damn.

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  • Independent Observer: To Jim Rockford #17: Jim said, "Andrew -- nearly all read more
  • Independent Observer: Molon said, "When I am asked why I no longer read more
  • Rob Lyman: Tom, I think you nailed it: we should try to read more

Hezbollah's Christian Allies

By Michael Totten at 20:42


This is the second installment in a series. You can read Part One here if you missed it.

BEIRUT - While Hezbollah staged a mass protest and sit-in downtown Beirut with the hopes of ousting the elected anti-Syrian March 14 government, I watched from the patio of a cafe across the street. Sitting at the next table were two men in orange, one with an orange hat and one with a scarf, which identified them as members of Michel Aoun's (predominantly Christian) Free Patriotic Movement, the only non-Shia political party of any significance in Lebanon that dared form an alliance with Hezbollah.

The two Aounists smoked cigars and calmly watched the crowd. A man at the next table scowled. Everyone else ate their lunch as though nothing was happening just 30 feet away. The dread of civil war hung over Lebanon like a pall. But if these people weren't nervous, how could I be? It is a cliche that fear is contagious. What's less widely understood is that calm is also contagious. Then again, we were a self-selecting lunch crowd. Thousands of Beirutis were hiding in their homes, hugging their flags, and wishing they lived in a normal country.

I asked the two Aounists if I could join them at their table, if they would be willing to explain to a primarily Western audience why they formed a political alliance with an Islamist militia.

"Of course," they both warmly said and gestured for me to sit.

read the rest at

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  • David Blue: Re: #3 from Bruno: try again now. Michael Totten had read more
  • Michael J. Totten: Sorry, no, that's wrong. What am I thinking? michaeltotten001 at read more
  • Michael J. Totten: michaeltotten at gmail dot com read more

December 26, 2006

Hezbollah's Putsch - Day One

By Michael Totten at 23:11


BEIRUT - I returned to Beirut after eight months and a hot summer war and found that the city had little changed on the surface. My old neighborhood in West Beirut was intact. Civil war reconstruction continued downtown. More restaurants and pubs had opened close-in on the east side of the city. Solidere sported a brand-new Starbucks. Beirut did not appear to be reeling from war. Post-Syrian gentrification had proceeded as scheduled.

On second glance, though, all was not well. I was the only guest in my eight-story hotel, and I genuinely shocked the staff when I stepped into the lobby first thing in the morning. "Why are you still here?" one bartender asked me. Almost all my friends and even acquaintances left the country during the July War and hadn't returned. Milk was still hard to come by in grocery stores and even some restaurants because the Israeli Air Force destroyed Lebanon's milk factory. Party and sectarian flags were flown on the streets in abundance, a tell-tale sign that the post-Syrian patriotism and unity were coming apart.

All that and, you know, the private army of an enemy state was threatening to topple the government.

read the rest over at >>

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  • J Aguilar: It resembles a lot to the Basque country. The same read more
  • Steve: I'm also having trouble accessing Totten's blog. read more
  • lurker: Totten's site is working great for me. Maybe you should read more

December 25, 2006

How Is A Priori Synthetic Journalism Possible? - Ask IraqSlogger!

By Armed Liberal at 16:41

It's Christmas morning and the house is empty - the boys are all gone for the holiday this year, and TG is still asleep, so I'm surfing a bit.

I really want to start finding things I agree with and can support out there, and will make a stronger effort to do that - that's my Christmas wish right now.

But even on this morning, there's a backlog of idiocy that I feel compelled to comment on.

I was hopeful when Eason Jordan started Iraqslogger - I really do think we need a better pipeline into news from and about Iraq, and I believed that this venture had a lot of potential. Maybe it still does.

Maybe not so much.

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  • Suzanne Roberts: Need a new cause? There's allegedly an unknown case of read more
  • ajacksonian: One of the things I have always wondered about were read more
  • J Aguilar: I am afraid CNN international edition is so taylored and read more

Chesterton: The Ballad of the White Horse

By Joe Katzman at 06:32

What follows is a mirror of the excellent work of Martin Ward and Paul Bonner in making this classic epic poem available online. It currently resides on a server at De Montfort University in Leicster, but those acquainted with such things will be aware that this is no guarantee of permanence.

I'm rather of Grim's mind when it comes to good epic poetry, and so this is something of a Christmas gift in the spirit of preserving and honouring the good and the beautiful things in our civilization. As an epic, is it typically long; it flows well, however, and can be read in a single sitting. As an alternative, just step in and immerse yourself (for indeed, immersion is the whole point of the exercise), then stop if the weight of it all ever begins to tell. Your subconscious will adapt to it while you go away, and when you return it it will be easier, for the poem will likely seem lighter and and clearer in its essentials. Essentials in the spirit of friendship, and darkening times. In the spirit, too, of calling to courage and heroism - and of keeping the faith.

Merry Christmas.

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  • Ben: The book: Paperback, and hardbound. read more
  • RiverCocytus: Read the whole thing. Words do not suffice! read more
  • Grim: Now that is a gift. read more

December 24, 2006

Why Are You At The Computer??

By Armed Liberal at 15:13

It's Christmas Eve!! Go be with your family and friends. Go do something nice for someone whose worse off than you are. Go walk your neighborhood and admire all the decorations...

Have a merry, happy, sweet holiday. Please don't kill anyone or blow anything up.

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  • Thebastidge: Why am I at the computer? Not much else to read more
  • Purple Avenger: Just another day. I ignore holidays. read more
  • Steve Smith: Have a merry, happy, sweet holiday. Please don't kill anyone read more

December 23, 2006

This Was Funny Even Before I Read That He Was A Congressional Aide

By Armed Liberal at 01:51
From NetworkWorld:
Congressional aide admits trying to hire hackers -- to boost his college GPA By Paul McNamara on Thu, 12/21/2006 - 6:59pm

The communications director for Montana's lone congressman solicited the services of two men he falsely believed to be criminally minded hackers-for-hire -- with the expressed goal of jacking up his college GPA -- during an exchange that spanned 22 e-mails over two weeks this past summer.

Todd Shriber, 28-year-old press aide to U.S. Rep. Denny Rehberg, R-Mont., e-mailed the security Web site on Aug. 9, writing: "I need to urgently make contact with a hacker that would be interested in doing a one-time job for me. The pay would be good. I'm not sure what exactly the job would entail with respect to computer jargon, but I can go into rough detail upon making contact with a candidate."

(Update: Shriber fired.)

You HAVE TO click through and read the email correspondence.

The future leaders of America, you betcha.

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  • Blog4Brains: Is it not surprising that corruption breeds corruption. If there read more
  • Nortius Maximus: Can't tell who you're commenting on, 007, but all our read more
  • 007: that would be pwn3d not p0wned. p=0, noob. read more

December 22, 2006

'I'm An Adult Now'

By Armed Liberal at 23:39
Well, I don't hate my parents
I don't get drunk just to spite them
I've got my own reasons to drink now
Think I'll call my dad up and invite him
I can sleep in 'til noon anytime I want
Though there's not many days that I do
Gotta get up and take on that world
When you're an adult it's no cliche, it's the truth

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  • Armed Liberal: Hey, Nortius - Infomration just wants to be free, I read more
  • Nortius Maximus: Glen: Point taken. Didn't someone once call the Popeye--Olive Oyl read more
  • Joe Katzman: Ah yes, "The Pursuit of Happiness," a fine Canadian band read more

December 21, 2006

Justice & Animals

By Grim at 02:37

I have composed a reply to a piece by Paola Cavalieri, entitled "Animals and the Limits of Justice," published in Logos. Cavalieri is famous for having co-edited The Great Ape Project, a work on animal rights that sought to extend human-level protections to primates. This latest argument pushes the frontier still further.

It's an admirable article in several respects, though I disgree with its conclusions. Those who enjoy philosophy -- it's one of the categories here at WoC -- may wish to consider the argument, and perhaps engage it.

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  • Daniel Markham: You know, it seems awful specist of us just to read more
  • PD Shaw: In the 1970s, Christopher Stone wrote an article/book called "Should read more
  • David Blue: We'll get back to this later, Grim. As you say, read more

Merry Christmas, Infidels!!

By Armed Liberal at 01:00

I'm kinda ashamed of laughing at this, but I do believe that one source of power in the West comes from our willingness to mock any and everything. It keeps us from freezing views and opinions - it's hard to lock in beliefs when people are free to laugh at them.

And besides, it just made me laugh. From Scrappleface, Ayman al-Zawahiri's Christmas Video:

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  • Armed Liberal: Do a search in the site search window, and you'll read more
  • h0mi: When was Lukasiak banned and why? Just curious is all. read more
  • Jon: Al-Qaeda offers US safe passage from IraqFrom correspondents in Dubai read more

December 20, 2006

Should we pin success on co-opting the sheiks?

By Donald Sensing at 23:00
Iraq is an Arab country, which means that tribalism is one of the most important organizing factors of its society, probably second only to Islam. Hence, the office and role of tribal sheiks, for which there is no very close Western analog, is crucial. The Council on Foreign Relations explains the office of sheik within an Iraqi context,

What is a sheik?

In Arabic, sheik means leader, or simply a venerable male elder, and each level of tribal organization--tribe, clan, and house--generally has a sheik at its head, says Iraqi tribal expert Amatzia Baram, a senior fellow at the U.S. Institute of Peace in Washington and a professor of Middle Eastern history at the University of Haifa in Israel. Because there are so many sheiks, finding one with a significant degree of authority can be a challenge for U.S. occupiers. Another problem: Saddam subverted the traditional tribal hierarchy and elevated many sheiks in return for their cooperation.

What is a sheik's traditional role?

Sheiks are traditionally responsible for protecting their people from harm and guaranteeing them a basic level of economic well-being. They also act as mediators and judges, settle disputes, resolve property claims, and suggest marriages, among other roles. In exchange, they have their people's allegiance, Baram says. For centuries, sheiks were appointed by a council of elders within a tribe, and a sheik's authority was not unlimited. The British— who ruled Iraq between 1920 and 1932— eliminated some of these checks and balances to exercise stricter control over Iraq's tribesmen. In essence, this turned tribal sheiks into the sole source of law and authority in wide stretches of Iraq's countryside.

Many unconventional warfare specialists, mostly Army Green Berets and some US Marines, have been urging American tactics in Iraq to focus on cultivating tribal sheiks, bringing them into alliance by hook or by crook, including outright buying their loyalty (not considered improper there).
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  • Blog4Brains: Interesting that the Iraqis are more about 'getting justice' than read more
  • SG: luka: Of course the question is does this plan advance read more
  • Dave Schuler: University president is a hereditary post? read more

Can You Lift And Separate In A Braless World?

By Armed Liberal at 06:49

Eric Martin has a post up at American Footprints that's definitely worth reading - especially for hawks like me who are looking for a path through the issue of Islamist terror that doesn't involve a choice between surrender and the mass killing of Muslims.

The post is titled - amusingly - 'Lift And Separate' and it expands on an article by George Packer in the New Yorker.

Now Eric's post - and it appears the Packer article (I've just scanned it tonight - still working!) are interesting, thoughtful suggestions about separating the committed terrorists from the populations they operate within, and about exploiting the fissures between groups of terrorists.

It's a good read, and food for thought - but I think I disagree. But it's a damn useful article because it helped me clarify my disagreement, and I want to quickly sketch it out (with the usual promise to try and develop it better soon - I'm still kinda chasing people and mosques in Baghdad).

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  • alchemist: This has gotten long, and I've already lost track of read more
  • Mark Buehner: "_They were hostile to each other prior to the evolution read more
  • Eric Martin: Yes, Iraq provided the impetus for a marriage of convenience read more

December 19, 2006

Jamail Hussein and Karen Toshima

By Armed Liberal at 02:29
In the thread to my first Jamail Hussein post below, commenter Andrew Lazarus says:
A.L., you seem to be seizing on this fire incident as an indication that the MSM coverage of Iraq is way off. But at the same time, neither you nor anyone else is suggesting that the counts of maimed corpses, or dead soldiers, or explosions is in any way exaggerated. The impression of Iraq as some sort of hell on earth really doesn't depend on this one gruesome story...any more than our perception of the Holocaust depends on the discredited story of Jews turned into soap.
I happen to think that this particular story - and the other stories - coming out of Iraq matter a lot because our policies on the war will be driven by our perceptions which are in turn driven by - the stories we read. My reply to Andrew started this way (with some amendations):
The problem, Andrew, is [we don't know] whether [Iraq is] hell on earth or heck (or Beaumont, Texas); that's the point I keep trying to raise and that keeps getting slapped aside.
I spoke with Greg Sergeant today about all this, and we had a friendly chat in which I tried to explain why it is that one reported tragedy like this matters so much (and why the aggregation of small tragedies matters so much) and I asked if he'd ever heard of Karen Toshima.

He hadn't so let me explain here.

I did a fast experiment - someone with Lexis-Nexis could do better - and searched the LA Times website archive (which has stories searchable since 1/1/1985) and looked for some word combinations...

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  • stop divorce: I was, also, stunned to see how the Iraq war read more
  • Les Nessman: So, everyone ready to admit that the infamous 'Jamail Hussein' read more
  • Mark Buehner: The AP story indeed hasnt been proven false, and it read more

December 18, 2006

These Are Not The Droids You Are Looking For...

By Armed Liberal at 19:20

[Update: Malkin is retracting her post..murkier and murkier]

OK, folks, this is what open source is about - you put things out there and the rest of the world improves on them - so here it goes. I think we discovered something, but it turns out probably not to have been useful. Sorry about that, but as they say, there are no failed experiments.

After talking about this on Friday, I used some old contacts to call friends in Baghdad on Saturday. We (friends and I) have contacts there through major local Iraqi news orgs there - specifically Al Sabah. They have the ability/credentials to move around, ask questions where others don't.

So, after some calls, IMs, and e-mail we get a call back by Sat night (California time)/Sunday morning (Baghdad time); there is no Capt. Jamil Hussein at Yarmouk, but there is a Sergeant by that name, with a somewhat dubious reputation (worked directly under Uday, Baathist remnant, etc.). So, we checked further, because, after all, I want to be certain before I start throwing too many things around, and it takes a different type and level of checking to have anything like confidence there than it does here to have something close to certainty - and be sure that we'll be talking about that a bit later.

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  • corvan: Geez, I checked the link and googled this castanga guy. read more
  • corvan: No. read more
  • Chris: Hi Corvan, Funny you should mention Keith Olberman. You weren't read more

Iraq:Troop Levels and Victory

By Joe Katzman at 06:34

Read Donald Sensing's bit on "going big" and the plan by Gen. Keane et. al. Also been thinking about the ISG Report, and a piece Fareed Zakaria recently did. Bluntly, I'm not sure "going big" with more troops is an effective answer, and my problems with it stem from some of the same reasons I have issues with the ISG report - a lack of realism regarding the players on the front lines, their motivations, and how the current situation has come to pass.

Questions worth pondering as we consider all of these ideas include:

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  • Tom Perry: #26 There is no GWoT. That there is conflict outside read more
  • Tom Perry: Going Big? C'mon, another 20k troops still leaves us with read more
  • celebrim: Believe me when I say to you that I'm not read more

Money Talks, Investigations Walk, Weapons Fly: British Abandon Saudi Bribery Investigations

By Joe Katzman at 06:00
RAF Eurofighter
(click to view full)

Back in 2005, DID reported that talks were underway for a Saudi purchase of Eurofighter Typhoon aircraft from Britain's BAE Systems - with an important (albeit denied) set of conditions on the Saudi side. December 2005 saw confirmation that Saudi Arabia has ordered Eurofighter Typhoon fighters, ostensibly to replace many of the Tornado aircraft BAE has provided to Saudi Arabia since 1985. For those less familiar with modern combat aircraft, the Eurofighter Typhoon's overall air-air performance may rank it behind only America's F-22A Raptor stealth fighter. It's also receiving a slow set of upgrades, pod additions, et. al. that will make it a serviceable strike aircraft.

The Financial Times reported from its sources that the Saudi agreement is understood to be for 48 Eurofighter Typhoon jets, with an option for a further 24 (total: 72). This would have been Phase 3 of the arms-for-oil Al-Yamamah ("dove") arrangement between the Saudis and BAE, and arrangement whose value to date was once pegged at 43 billion pounds (about $80 billion) by BAE executive Mike Turner.

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  • Strabp: "He who pays the piper calls the tune" Really, is read more
  • Brother Bark: Inter arma enim silent leges. "In the face of read more

Iraq Report, 18 Dec/06

By Andrew Olmsted at 03:16

Welcome! Our goal at Winds of Change.NET is to give you one power-packed briefing of insights, news and trends from Iraq that leaves you stimulated, informed, and occasionally amused every Monday. This briefing is brought to you by Joel Gaines of No Pundit Intended and Andrew Olmsted of Andrew Olmsted dot com.


  • Bill Roggio, who is on his third(?) trip to theater, is embedded again, this time with a unit from the Iraqi Army. He reports on a patrol in Fallujah and the hunt for 'Ali Baba'.
  • Iraqpundit takes a look at the man who may be Iraq's next prime minister, and intimates that the current prime minister may have been behind an assassination attempt last Friday.

Other Topics Today Include: insurgents broadcasting from Syria; Sunnis urged to war on Shiites; Kirkuk makes deals with Iranian companies; Carnival of the Liberated; Reid and Biden disagree on troop increases; Blair vows support for Iraq; Jordan and Iran talk security; Iraq reopens Syrian embassy; Germany looks to train Iraqi troops; Turkey displeased with Kirkuk situation.

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  • DemocracyRules: WHATS ALL THIS BALONEY ABOUT LOSING? To succeed in Iraq, read more

December 17, 2006

"Going Big" in Iraq is last chance

By Donald Sensing at 20:24

If the president decides to "go big" in Iraq early next year, then the campaign will be as violent as the initial invasion, though limited in scope. The report of the mostly-dilettante Iraq Study Group, released Dec. 6, has all deservedly but dropped out of sight. Like a bowling ball thrown into a swimming pool, it made a big splash, sank like a brick and left few ripples. Not even the Democrati-majority Congress is screeching for it to be implemented by the executive. (Gerard Baker, writing in the UK's Times, said the ISG's report was met with "a drenching chorus of raspberries.")

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  • Kevin: "The easiest way to prevent this[terrorist migration] from happening, of read more
  • Murodc: 2a) If the US leaves, Iraq will become a terrorist read more
  • TallDave: Is that like 'we had to destroy the villiage in read more

Slowly Collapsing The Cloud Of Uncertainty

By Armed Liberal at 00:48


With the help of some friends who have been doing a smidgen of looking, and it appears - appears, but is not certain - that there is in fact a Jamail Hussein in the Yarmouk police station in Baghdad. We'll know more tomorrow.

Not sure yet what this means in terms of the AP story - but will know more about that tomorrow or Monday as well.

Watch the skies...

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  • Armed Liberal: Andrew, that's genuinely unhinged. You need to go back after read more
  • corvan: Andrew J. Lazarus...opposing the truth wherever he finds it. Sorry read more
  • Daniel Markham: Les, I've been thinking about AP's imaginary source, Jimmy Hussein. read more

December 15, 2006

War And Fog

By Armed Liberal at 16:07

Down in the comments to neo's post on Gen. Sherman, commenter takhallus and I had a small disagreement over the origins of the term 'fog of war'.

I pulled out the original Clausewitz quote (which I think supported my position), and it seems like such a good thing to remind ourselves of that I thought I'd pull it up into a post. From 'On War':


Lastly, the great uncertainty of all data in War is a peculiar difficulty, because all action must, to a certain extent, be planned in a mere twilight, which in addition not unfrequently--like the effect of a fog or moonshine--gives to things exaggerated dimensions and an unnatural appearance.
What this feeble light leaves indistinct to the sight talent must discover, or must be left to chance. It is therefore again talent, or the favour of fortune, on which reliance must be placed, for want of objective knowledge.

That want of objective knowledge is something we all have to deal with in this matter - the military, the media, the policymakers, and us in the public.

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  • celebrim: Andy X: "The problem, Celebrim, is that you're confusing an read more
  • M. Simon: We are in a situation not unlike we had in read more
  • Andy X: The problem, Celebrim, is that you're confusing an attempt to read more

Folks You Ought to Know: Cpl. Bryan Budd, VC

By Joe Katzman at 04:03
Cpl Bryan Budd

Britain has just awarded its second Victoria Cross since the Falklands War. For all you Yanks out there, this is the British Commonwealth's highest award for military valour. Note that the "VC" has been won by many non-British soldiers from the Commonwealth for their service in common campaigns.

Corporal Bryan Budd, of the 3rd Battalion The Parachute Regiment (3 PARA, a subset of the 16th Air Assault Brigade), has been posthumously awarded this medal. His citation references not one but two incidents, and reads:

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  • Robbo 216: A great friend and a very professional SOldier. Missed by read more
  • Kevin: Thank you for highlighting his incredible determination and sacrifice. read more
  • David Blue: Bravo!! read more

December 14, 2006

Sherman and total war

By neo at 21:49

I've been reading a book by Robert Kagan entitled Dangerous Nation, about the history of America's international relations. Kagan's thesis is that, from the start, the US was more involved and interventionist, and less isolationist, than conventional wisdom would indicate.

But that's not the portion of the book I'm writing about today. I've been reading the part about the Civil War. In the earliest days of that conflict, people thought it would be possible to wage the war in a relatively "civilized" and circumscribed manner. Instead, it was transformed into one of the bloodiest and most "total" of modern wars fought up till that time.

McClellan, Lincoln's first Union commander, preferred to wage a "gentleman's war." Ulysses S. Grant later described McClellan as one who "did not believe in this war...[letting his] ambivalent attitude toward the conflict influence [his] military performance." Thus do perceptions of a war's justness and necessity color the decisions made in the course of it, even by commanders.

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  • Grim: My pleasure, Daniel. I agree with you almost entirely on read more
  • Daniel Markham: Reading Grim and PD has been great. Sometimes we consultants read more
  • mo: Iraq is the test market.If it works there will still read more

OK, This Is Cool

By Armed Liberal at 19:36

I've missed the fact that Eason Jordan - of Davos and Easongate fame - has started an Iraq blog/news service - 'Iraqslogger'. I even like the name, since it makes it clear that Iraq is and is going to continue to be a slog, not a prance. I've added him to my feeds, and will watch this with some interest.

What's cooler is that he's offered to pay Michelle Malkin's and Curt from Flopping Aces way to Baghdad to look for Jamail Hussein. I should have been more vocal on the issue...

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  • Marshal Nortius "Big Tuna" Maximus: L'Affaire 'Hypocracie' OK, a little diligence turns up the following. read more
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  • sbw: Eason Jordan on iraq? The first thing that came to read more

The Affirmation Generation

By Armed Liberal at 17:56

Tim Blair leads Harry's Place to a Swiss interview with the Editor-In-Chief of Al-Jazeera, Ahmed Sheikh.

It's been commented on before, but note in particular this exchange:

Who is responsible for the situation?

The Israeli-Palestinian conflict is one of the most important reasons why these crises and problems continue to simmer. The day when Israel was founded created the basis for our problems. The West should finally come to understand this. Everything would be much calmer if the Palestinians were given their rights.

Do you mean to say that if Israel did not exist, there would suddenly be democracy in Egypt, that the schools in Morocco would be better, that the public clinics in Jordan would function better?

I think so.

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  • Dan Kauffman: bq It's impossible - or very damn close to it read more
  • Rob Lyman: luka, there's a third possibility: Arafat wasn't an idiot, expected read more

A Christmas Quiz

By Donald Sensing at 15:11

As you may imagine, December is a pretty busy time for ministers, so my posting will be light for the next three weeks or so. In the spirit of the season, I've posted a Christmas quiz at my own site. I'll post answers tomorrow. There are no trick questions. Have fun, and don't go googling the answers until after you've tried to answer them all!

Take the quiz!

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People You Should Know: PFC Ross A. McGinnis

By Joe Katzman at 04:01

There are many kinds of strength. Pfc. Ross A. McGinnis packed only 136 pounds into his 6-foot frame, and the 19 year-old was the youngest Soldier in Company C, 1st Battalion, 26th Infantry Regiment. On December 4, McGinnis was manning the gunner's hatch when an insurgent tossed a grenade from above. It flew past McGinnis and down the hatch before lodging near the radio. Cut to his platoon sergeant, Sgt. 1st Class Cedric Thomas:

The 19-year-old mechanic from Knox, PA likely saved the lives of four Soldiers riding with him on a mission in the Adhamiyah section of Baghdad. "Pfc. McGinnis yelled 'Grenade... It's in the truck,' I looked out of the corner of my eye as I was crouching down and I saw him pin it down. He had time to jump out of the truck. He chose not to."

HE. CHOSE. NOT. TO. The Silver Star Medal was approved for McGinnis's action and will be awarded posthumously. Full story.

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December 13, 2006

A Million Points Of Data

By Armed Liberal at 16:03

Over at the Huffington Post (yes, I do read a broad assortment of stuff, why do you ask?) journalist/writer Mona Gable - who LA Observed describes as "Gable has written for Health, Child, Salon and the Los Angeles Times, where her husband Joel Sappell is the assistant managing editor for interactive." - has kittens when the military has the temerity to send marketing materials to her teenage son.

A few days after 11 American soldiers were killed in Iraq, I opened the mailbox to find along with the Pottery Barn holiday catalogue and other seasonal items a letter from the National Guard. Addressed to my 16-year-old son. I have no idea how they got his name and address. That's not true. I know perfectly well how they got it. They got it the same way Bush is getting personal information about the rest of us in the guise of fighting "the terrorists." They tapped into some secret database and up popped my son's name. It was right there under the category: Potential Cannon Fodder for Iraq.

I felt like I'd been sent a letter bomb in the mail.

This administration has no respect for families. It never has. Why else did Bush with the eager support of the Senate ban news photos of flag-draped coffins of soldiers coming home? Many of them as young as 18. Did they think we wouldn't notice the rising death toll? That families who lost sons and daughters would simply view it as the regrettable cost of war? Pretend it had all been a bad dream and then carry on? Not talk about it?

And people wonder how it is that some of us worry that the media are culturally incapable of dealing with war, or with the military.

Yeah, yeah, it's only one - more - anecdotal point of data. Sorry for reading too much into it.

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  • Armed Liberal: Glen - I didn't know Apple laptops had Windows...(sorry, couldn't read more

The definition of "success" in war: Part II (colonialism and occupation)

By neo at 06:10

[Part I can be found here.]

Shelby Steele, a supporter of the war in Iraq, discusses the semantic and conceptual problem we face when we have no clear definition of victory:

Without a description of victory, a war has no goal.

Historically victory in foreign war has always meant hegemony: You win, you take over. We not only occupied Germany and Japan militarily after World War II, we also--and without a whit of self doubt--imposed our democratic way of life on them. We took our victory as a moral mandate as well as a military achievement, and felt commanded to morally transform these defeated societies by the terms of our democracy. In this effort we brooked no resistance whatsoever and we achieved great success.

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  • Mark Buehner: Strategic depth might be superfluous when you have the Samson read more

ISG's Iraq: The Big Picture

By Guest Author at 00:57

From guest poster Daniel Markham:

I thought I would put on my process wonk hat and take a look at the Iraq Study Group report.

As you may know, part of my day job is teaching and applying technology strategy. Most anybody who uses a computer knows that computerized systems have a way of becoming very complicated very quickly. A user presses the red button one day and the system does X. He presses the red button the next day and it does Y. When you're using one program, fixing this is known as debugging. But with 40 systems, 200 programmers, 3 divisions, and offices all over the country, it's different. How do you organize and align key business processes in such a complex environment? How do you see the big picture?

What I find the most is that people get lost in the details. They stop seeing the forest for the trees. Part of this is because each person has their own area of interest or specialty: the guys in finance don't understand or care much what goes on in shipping, and the guys in manufacturing don't think of the procurement guys as much more than impediments to getting work done.

It becomes really difficult, then, for large organizations to get a grip on what's going on, how to fix it, and what's important to fix and what isn't. I could write a book on this (and I am), but for now, let's take that experience of reading committee reports and organizing complex systems and put it to work on the ISG report.

A practical and simple set of questions can "cut to the chase" when dealing with complex processes in an organization:

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December 12, 2006

Bellamy's Buzzer

By 'Cicero' at 16:47

Our first winter here in Massachusetts is just beginning. We have house squirrels, I think. I'm told that when the wind chills, they take refuge where they can. I don't like squirrels in my house, between the ceilings and floors, banging and nibbling acorns up there, unseen. If only I could reason with them, and strike a bargain. Ah, the life of a country squire...

There's a lot of buzz about 'next moves' -- what to do in Iraq, with Iran, and North Korea. What will Hezbollah's next move be in Lebanon and Israel? What of our lame duck president, for two years coming? The Democrats have the helm now, more or less. Maybe they'll bumble onto something positive. Obama seems like a breath of fresh air.

I've been trying to draw my own personal conclusion about the war in Iraq. I was for it. At the war's outset, the cause seemed justified, a gamble I thought worth taking. It seemed positive in the face of the alternative, which was to continue fiddling in the corridors of the UN and in the salons of Arabia and Europe while Saddam would break apart the sanctions regime. Maybe it was just me, but in 2003 the option for more circular diplomacy and realpolitik seemed pessimistic and hopelessly spent in the wake of 9/11.

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  • alchemist: to Markham: You're right, alot of this is semantics. Sometimes read more
  • Michael van der Galien: Cicero, to make you feel better, this is the part read more
  • Daniel Markham: Wasn't one of the Colt handguns called a peacemaker? And read more

The definition of "success" in war: Part I

By neo at 04:38

The ISG report has branded our efforts in Iraq "grave," "deteriorating," and "not working."

The American people aren't too happy with the situation, either. Results of recent polls indicate:

Just 9 per cent expect the war to end in clear-cut victory, compared with 87 per cent who expect some sort of compromise settlement...

But what would "clear-cut victory" actually look like in the case of Iraq (or Iran, or Syria, or any number of other places, for that matter)? Do we know? To achieve "victory," is it necessary to have a country completely at peace, with guarantees of civil rights for all and a smoothly functioning democratic process?

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  • David Blue: "But what would "clear-cut victory" actually look like in the read more
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  • luka: "luka, All of those quotes appear to me to be read more

December 11, 2006

The clash of convictions and the remaking of the world of wars

By Nitin Pai at 05:54

The outcome of modern wars is decided in the mind

Armed combat, of course, is not about to disappear, although it may increasingly take the form of 'asymmetric warfare' as seen in Iraq and Afghanistan. It could also take the shape of proxy war, like the one India is fighting in Jammu & Kashmir and the United States and NATO are fighting in Afghanistan. But days in which armed combat alone decided the fate of wars ended a long time ago: with World War II and perhaps, the India-Pakistan war of 1971.

This is old hat. All out war became unimaginable as soon as the major powers acquired nuclear weapons. Those that didn't have their own usually came under the umbrella of one of those that did. The game of nuclear deterrence--in spite of bizarrely escalating to the level where there were thousands of warheads--kept the peace. The stability/instability paradox argued that while nuclear deterrence ensured stability at the highest (nuclear) level of escalation, it nevertheless created instability at lower (non-nuclear) levels. The United States relied on this to drive the Soviets out of Afghanistan. But the Pakistani general staff realised just how low the ceiling was at Kargil in 1999-2000. They were fine so long as they were only arming and injecting jihadis into Jammu & Kashmir. But when they decided to take a step further and actually try to capture and hold territory, they quickly found out exactly where the buck stopped.

But the outcome of most of these asymmetrical, low-intensity wars can go either way.

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  • sanity: Ref no 32, by Fletcher Christian; I live in the read more
  • mrsizer: I've come to agree with Paul (#29): Withdraw. Very loudly read more
  • Fletcher Christian: If we (not just the USA, the entire West) are read more

Iraq Report, 11 Dec/06

By Andrew Olmsted at 03:05

Welcome! Our goal at Winds of Change.NET is to give you one power-packed briefing of insights, news and trends from Iraq that leaves you stimulated, informed, and occasionally amused every Monday. This briefing is brought to you by Joel Gaines of No Pundit Intended and Andrew Olmsted of Andrew Olmsted dot com.


  • Iraq may soon have a new government, as negotiations are reportedly underway in Parliament to replace Nouri al-Maliki's national unity government due to complaints it has failed to protect Iraqis.

Other Topics Today Include: report from Fallujah; U.S. airstrike raises hackles; Black Watch snags terrorist; military has done what it can; refugee problem grows; Japan looks to invest; 268 new companies in Iraq; some marshlands restored; Maliki criticizes Annan; no international conference; Carnival of the Liberated; Iraq asked for Egypt's help; ISG report arrives; Iran & Syria offer 'help'; Bush meets with al-Hakim; Khalilzhad resigns.

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  • Mark Buehner: Talabini can get a pass. The Kurds would be complete read more
  • Wastelandlive: Nice to see where the Baker commissions craven recommendations to read more
  • Davebo: President Jalal Talabani doesn't think much of the ISG report, read more

Life Imitates Team America

By Armed Liberal at 03:01

Over at HuffPo, Alec Baldwin, (of the "Film Actors Guild") speaks out on what's wrong, and what we need to do about it. One of these is real, and one is a line from a puppet movie. Can you tell which is which?

Quote #1: "By following the rules of the Film Actor's Guild, the world can become a better place; that handles dangerous people with talk, and reasoning; that, is the fag way. One day you'll all look at the world us actors created and say, "wow, good going, fag. You really made the world a better place, didntcha, fag?" "

Quote #2: "There is an answer to this problem. There is a way to defeat terrorism while building new and better alliances in the Arab world. It will be an enormously complex and difficult diplomatic puzzle. But the first step might be oddly simple. Get rid of the CIA, which has outlived its usefulness and is an embarrassment to this great country, and rebuild and reform US intelligence capabilities to fight this new type of threat. I think our hopes must begin there."

Post your answer in comments; no fair using IMDB. But if you want to see the film again, I'd say go for it. I think we'll watch it again tonight.

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  • Out In The Light: Of course we can. We can stop being the major read more
  • AST: At least he didn't propose a bipartisan commission of pensioners read more
  • BadLiberal: Out in the Light: We can't abolish the UN, but read more

December 10, 2006

Scott Adams, Genius - Mission: Impertinent

By Joe Katzman at 07:17

It's almost impossible to work in or with any large organization, and not conclude that Scott Adams is a freakin' genius. His recent e-voting satire strip had bite, but it wasn't as good as "Mission Impertinent." Back in 1998, Adams posed as a consultant to Logitech's executive team under a fictitious name:

"My goal is to see if a group of executives will allow somebody who has very few credentials, except for good hair, to come into their meeting and get them to write a mission statement which is so impossibly complicated that it has no real content." - Scott Adams

No references were checked, no-one checked the name, and no-one asked about his credentials; so he held the session. As the full account shows, he succeeded in his mission, whereupon the CEO revealed the gag on his executive and had a nice little chat about groupthink. Now that was one smart CEO; no wonder I tend to like their products a lot. Adams, meanwhile, won a well-deserved 1998 Orwell Award for that one.

He deserves every penny of those multi-millions he earns.

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  • thorley winston: Or that was given to Noam Chomsky (twice). BTW: does read more
  • John: Glancing at the most recent winners of the Orwell Award, read more
  • thebookmistress: I always feel the need to qualify -- he may read more

December 9, 2006

Who Needs Empiricism, Anyway?

By Armed Liberal at 01:57

The fundamental basis for the success of Western society is, I believe, the rise of reproducible empiricism - the notion that assertions are provable and must be proven by others. It doesn't matter what the King says, because every assertion must be checkable in some way - no matter what the source.

The Associated Press today announced that no such rules apply to it. From Editor & Publisher Kathleen Carroll of the AP:

Their assertions that the AP has been duped or worse are unfounded and just plain wrong.

No organization has done more to try to shed light on what happened Nov. 24 in the Hurriyah neighborhood of Baghdad than The Associated Press.

We have sent journalists to the neighborhood three different times to talk with people there about what happened. And those residents have repeatedly told us, in some detail, that Shiite militiamen dragged six Sunni worshippers from a mosque, drenched them with kerosene and burned them alive.

No one else has said they have actually gone to the neighborhood. Particularly not the individuals who have criticized our journalism with such barbed certitude.

The AP has been transparent and fair since the first day of our reporting on this issue.

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  • AMac: mark #79, fair enough! read more
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  • mark: To all, I must concede defeat and retire from the read more


By Armed Liberal at 01:19
Mickey Kaus causes my world to crumble.
**--I'm looking for the opposite of shrill and bombastic here. [Update: Reader S.K. suggests "'The Dude' from 'The Big Lebowski.'" Having never seen The Big Lebowski, I don't know if he's on target.]
I thought everyone had seen the Big Lebowski...

Mickey? Lebowskifest next year?

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  • Glen Wishard: F--k it, Dude, let's go bowling. read more
  • Nortius Maximus: Achillea: What exactly was your point? I'm waiting with rapt read more
  • Achillea: Nortius Maximus, When I'm being sarcastic, no, I can't be read more

December 8, 2006

Voting Tech

By Armed Liberal at 22:05

Oh, you thought this was about Diebold?

You can click on the 'Best Weblogs' logo on the upper left and go vote for the weblog of your choice (WindsofChange.NET for best Centrist Blog) in a large group of interesting categories (WindsofChange.NET for best Centrist Blog) that offer you a number of interesting alternatives in each (WindsofChange.NET for best Centrist Blog).

Oh, and if you think about it, vote for us for Best Centrist Blog...

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More talking about talking with Iran

By neo at 20:04

On the topic of James Baker and Lee Hamilton's suggestion that we talk to Iran and Syria about helping us out in Iraq, I'd say a person would have to be either abysmally stupid, mindbogglingly ignorant, or stark raving mad (or perhaps some combination of all three) to think it might be a good idea. And that's the polite version of what I think.

Victor Davis Hanson calls such a suggestion "surreal." I'm with him, as well.

But Senators--ah, Senators!--are much more refined in questioning whether the ISG's suggestion to turn to Iran for help in Iraq is really the wisest possible course.

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  • luka: 1. The Kurds in the north of Iraq are landlocked read more
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Comments Are Were Down - Apologies

By Armed Liberal at 18:57

We appear to have gremlins, and so comments are down. As soon as I can roust the gremlin-chaser, all should be well.

Update: All better now...

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I Love Collecting On Bets

By Armed Liberal at 17:03

Sorry about the quality - it's a Treo video...but you'll get the point. I'd put the coffee mug down before hitting 'Play', though...

Speaking of bets - doesn't someone here (...ahem! monkeyboy)...owe me a receipt for $100 to charity?

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  • Davebo: Well, I owed you $100 to charity on our bet read more
  • Grim: Indeed, to this charity, I believe. read more

December 7, 2006

Forgetting Pearl Harbor: the giant rolls over and goes back to sleep

By neo at 20:17

Sixty-five years ago today Pearl Harbor was attacked.

That's long enough ago that only the elderly remember the day and its aftermath with any clarity. Several generations--including my own tiresome one, the baby boomers--have come up since then, and the world has indeed changed.

Prior to 9/11, the Pearl Harbor attack of December 7, 1941 was the closest thing America had to 9/11. The differences between the two were profound, however: at Pearl Harbor we knew the culprit. It was clearly and unequivocally an act of war by the nation of Japan, which was already at war in the Pacific. But it was, like 9/11, a sneak attack that killed roughly the same number of Americans--in the case of Pearl Harbor mostly (although not exclusively) those in the armed forces. And the Pearl Harbor attack, in the reported (but disputed) words of Japanese Admiral Yamamoto, awakened the "sleeping giant" of the US and filled it with a "terrible resolve." This was also true of 9/11--for a little while.

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  • Andrew J. Lazarus: Actually, Rob, I'm an ex-academic.... washed out of the tenure-track biz. read more
  • Rob Lyman: But I don't think it's the American people who changed. read more

Remembering Pearl Harbor

By neo at 20:14

We've all learned about Pearl Harbor, but here are some details that I found especially interesting in light of 9/11. Despite having a lot of information that a Japanese attack was coming somewhere, some time soon, the military and the government really couldn't pin down the specifics. This made preparedness very difficult. Sound familiar? It seems to be the nature of the beast.

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  • PD Shaw: The interesting think I learned about Pearl Harbor this year read more
  • PD Shaw: D. Blue, its not tacky if its true. I still read more
  • David Blue: It's probably tactless to say it, but I will anyway. read more

The Iraq Study Group's self-contradiction

By Donald Sensing at 19:19

I have not waded through all 90-plus pages of the Iraq Study Group's report yet. I did see a lot of the ISG's press conference yesterday, though not all of it. Fortunately, both the video and the transcript of the press conference are online (text, video) as is the full text of the report itself.

I have to say that my first impression of the ISG, formed while listening to the press conference, was very close to that of Slate's Shmuel Rosner:

More than anything else, these proposals are no more than a reiteration of the old James Baker formula for peace. A formula—just take a look at the region—that was not entirely successful in achieving its goals of peace and stability for Israel and its Arab neighbors. ... ... the formula the committee outlines reads more like an ego trip than a serious, new proposal. "This approach worked effectively in the early 1990s," the committee states. (Remember who was secretary of state in the early 1990s?) It also says, "The purpose of these meetings would be to negotiate peace as was done at the Madrid Conference in 1991." (And who was the chief facilitator of the Madrid summit?)

Here's why that seems right to me.
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  • Daniel Markham: If you have a cartoon to explain yourself, I guess read more
  • Andrew J. Lazarus: Pat Oliphant sums my position up in one cartoon. read more

It's Over

By Armed Liberal at 17:00


Dilbert is mocking electronic voting. Forget the NIST study, or the election of California Secretary of State Debra Bowen.

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  • Joe Katzman: Scott Adams is a freakin' genius. This isn't quite as read more
  • David Blue: #1 from Tim Oren: ... "I still don't get it. read more

December 6, 2006

They Love Us, They (May) Really Love Us...

By Armed Liberal at 15:58

I'm thrilled to hear that Winds has been nominated and is a finalist for 'Best Centrist Blog' over at Wizbang's place.

I'm happy both that the work here is being recognized and secretly really pleased that we're being recognized as centrists and not the bloodthirsty right-wing warmongers that we secretly are behind closed doors.

Go over there Thursday and vote early and often. I'm reviewing the source code for the Diebold machines, and I'll see what I can do to help things out...

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  • right, not center: To Winds Of Change regarding #12 David Blue's comment: David read more
  • hypocrisyrules: Hahaha, Ah man, Robin, King of the Non-Sequitur! I'll call read more

Proxy Wars and Realist Politik

By Joe Katzman at 05:21

Spengler at Asia Times talks about proxy wars in the context of the current Middle East. It's certainly a defining feature, and there is indeed some major mobilization going on in response to the growing cleavage. We've run a bunch of "2006 Saudi Spending Spree" articles at DID lately; they certainly appear to be getting a lot more serious.

Of course, this will tempt the 'realists' who make millions defending them from lawsuits by 9/11 victims (hello, James Baker) to go back to the old policy of ignoring Saudi funding of Islamist hate and terror worldwide via the "Golden Chain," in exchange for limited assistance with other opponents. Michael Moore actually came close to getting that right in true "stopped clock" fashion, but of course managed to stumble right over it and, uh, move on.

Read in conjunction with Belmont Club's coverage of the State Department report that more or less advocates standing back and watching the cleansing of Sunnis from Iraq in "The Seventh Circle," which continues his fine "But Deliver Us From Evil" analysis of where Iraq's Sunnis find themselves in the wake of their fiasco of a strategy. Very interesting debates/ discussions/ links in the comments as well, of course. A while ago, I half-jokingly wondered if the Sunnis had ever heard the story story of General Custer. Given migration trends for Iraq's Sunnis and developing trends with the USA unwilling/unable to check al-Sadr (once again: why wasn't he dead in 2004?), Trent and Tom could well end up having called this one far in advance.

All this is very much in the realist mode of foreign policy - and while there are laughable examples of neo-Chamberlain "realists" acknowledging key realities re: our enemies and then forgetting that in the very same article so it doesn't get in the way of their conclusions, there's also a hard streak of hard measures. You won't understand the realists unless you grasp both their key (and durable, and historically consistent) blindness when dealing with ideological opponents, and also their contributions re: enemy weaknesses and how we might exploit them.

Whether that's something you're happy to have the USA do, of course, is another matter. But it sure is interesting to watch the Left slobbering all over the "realists" while stuff like this goes on.

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  • Dr Lysenko: bq Trent and Tom could well end up having called read more
  • Mark Buehner: We can't ignore our own stupidity in allowing Iraq to read more

Odin and the Frost Giants

By Joe Katzman at 05:13

The most interesting take on Norse mythology I've ever heard.

No, it has nothing to do with the political debates of the day. "There are more things in heav'n and earth...."

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December 5, 2006

Seven Days

By Armed Liberal at 15:16

It's been seven days since my post 'AP "Calls" Flopping Aces' on the controversy about the truthfulness of the AP report that six Iraqis has been burned alive when their mosque was attacked.

The AP story was sourced by Iraqi stringers who cite an Iraqi police captain that no one can find, and AP hasn't produced. Their response has been 'trust us, we're trained professionals...and pull up your pants! (cf Dennis Leary)'.

Personally, I doubt the story - not because it's not possible, but because no other media organization has been able to produce more than vague rumors about it, and it was such a heinous crime that it would have pushed all other talk among Iraqis aside. And it didn't. Hot Air cites a NT Times reporter in Iraq:

Hi Tom, You ask me about what our own reporting shows about this incident. When we first heard of the event on Nov. 24, through the A.P. story and a man named Imad al-Hashemi talking about it on television, we had our Iraqi reporters make calls to people in the Hurriya neighborhood. Because of the curfew that day, everything had to be done by phone. We reached several people who told us about the mosque attacks, but said they had heard nothing of Sunni worshippers being burned alive. Any big news event travels quickly by word of mouth through Baghdad, aided by the enormous proliferation of cell phones here. Such an incident would have been so abominable that a great many of the residents in Hurriya, as well as in other Sunni Arab districts, would have been in an uproar over it. Hard-line Sunni Arab organizations such as the Muslim Scholars Association or the Iraqi Islamic Party would almost certainly have appeared on television that day or the next to denounce this specific incident. Iraqi clerics and politicians are not shy about doing this. Yet, as far as I know, there was no widespread talk of the incident. So I mentioned it only in passing in my report. Best, Ed Wong

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  • Andy Freeman: > To make the case that the MSM is distoring read more
  • Bill Sanford: The AP is the major contributor for yahoo news pages; read more

On Doing Well By Doing Good

By Armed Liberal at 03:14

I've never played golf, but when my brother tries to explain what's so good about it, he always comes back to the feeling he gets when he hits the ball well, and "it's just right".

I got that feeling today when I looked at this graphic attached to this NY Times oped.

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  • Armed Liberal: Sorry, hypocracy, you're being obtuse. When a reporter who covers read more
  • hypocrisyrules: "The MyDD folks did well for themselves, didn't they?" Heh. read more
  • SPQR: It is silly to call Lieberman's election as an Independant read more

December 4, 2006

Outsourcing antterrorism

By Donald Sensing at 17:43

That the level of violence in Iraq is very high cannot be gainsaid. While most of the violence today is Iraqi-on-Iraqi (mainly Shia and Sunni death squads fighting and revenge killings), coalition and Iraqi authorities have known for years that the violence has been instigated and propped up by foreign powers, mainly Iran and Syria. Iran arms and trains Iraqi Shia militias and Syria does the same for Sunni militias. Curiously, Sunni Syria and Shia Iran are partners in fomenting anti-Israel violence by Hamas and Hezbollah and also support the mainly Sunni al Qaeda in Iraq.

Strategy Page reports that (finally) Iraqi officials are "being less diplomatic in accusing neighboring countries of backing the violence inside Iraq."

The Sunni countries (especially Syria) allow terrorists to slip personnel, money and weapons across the border. This supports continued Sunni Arab terrorism by groups that either work for establishing an Sunni Islamic Republic, or protecting Saddam's henchmen from retribution. Iran supports radical Shia militias, in the hope of establishing a Shia Islamic Republic, but also to sustain the violence against Sunni Arabs who worked for Saddam. This revenge against Saddam, and his followers, is a big deal in Iran, even among political moderates. There is hardly a family in Iran that did not lose someone during the 1980s war with Iraq. Saddam and his [Sunni-dominated] Baath Party have long been held personally responsible for the conflict.

And forreign jihadis are pouring into Iraq, mainly Sunnis from "Algeria, Syria, Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Jordan, in that order." Those nations see this as a win-win situation. It enables them to militarily oppose the United States and prevent or inhibit democracy in Iraq without overtly dirtying their hands. Even better,

Algeria, Saudi Arabia and Syria are, in effect, exporting Islamic radicals who were defeated in their own country. The foreigners are considered cannon fodder by the Sunni terrorist groups in Iraq, and few of the foreign volunteers last long enough to return home with useful terrorist skills. Moreover, going back to places like Algeria or Syria to carry out Islamic terrorist activities is suicidal. Both of these countries have populations, and police forces, that are hostile to Islamic terrorism, and able to stamp it out if any more Islamic radicalism shows up.

In effect, these countries export their Islamist radicals to Iraq and use the United States and the Iraqi Security Forces to carry out antiterrorism on their behalf. At the same time they fight the United States. Yet this seems a very gambling policy from their own perspective. If the insurgencies in Iraq succeed in driving the US out before at least a semi-stable and effective government is emplaced there (not an impossible potentiality, considering America's domestic political scene), then Islamists will take the credit. Remember, Osama bin Laden claimed that the cause of the Soviet Union's ignominious withdrawal of its forces from Afghanistan in 1989 was because of the power of pure Islamic faith in the mujahidin opposing them. Such an outcome in Iraq would only embolden the Islamist parties in other Muslim countries, especially the ones outsourcing their anti-Islamist fighting to the United States by sending jihadis to Iraq. In the short term it may seem sensible, but the long-term repercussions might be very unfortunate for them.

Crossposted at

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  • SPC Michael Sanchez: That, in my opinion, is factually wrong. Even most of read more
  • Mark Buehner: One crazy idea I had was to somehow prevent the read more

Iraq Is F**ked, Part II - the Domestic Wars

By Armed Liberal at 07:06

The main problem with Iraq isn't just the problems in and around Iraq - it is the problems in and around the United States and the Western powers that joined the United States in the war there.

Now many of the antiwar writers - feeling kinda triumphant - have tried to put a stake into this argument. Eric Martin at American Footprints makes the argument that

It appears, however, that I underestimated the desperation of those suffering from Iraq war-related cognitive dissonace. Things have gotten so bad that instead of merely blaming liberals, the accountability-averse are taking to holding a much more inclusive category responsible for the war's tragic descent.

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  • Robin Roberts: Dragoneer, Lots of us. Now go grow up. read more
  • steve hulett: It's simple: You invade a country, you go in with read more
  • Dragooner: How many of you f*** right-wing SOBs have a single read more

History's End, History's Beginning

By Chester at 02:23

In the National Journal, Paul Starobin examines what might come after US hegemony has run its course. He develops four scenarios. The first, perhaps related to this previous post, is chaos, which he describes in three flavors: a new Dark Ages; a regional Dark Ages, where the West stagnates while the rest of the world advances; and a decentralized hegemony of sorts, for which he channels Thomas Friedman:

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  • Fletcher Christian: Of course, one possible end to this is a dark read more
  • Jim Rockford: Good points Chester. Sorry for the confusion. I don't think read more
  • RiverCocytus: First: I think that the first option is a mild read more

Iraq Report, 4 Dec/06

By Andrew Olmsted at 01:00

Welcome! Our goal at Winds of Change.NET is to give you one power-packed briefing of insights, news and trends from Iraq that leaves you stimulated, informed, and occasionally amused every Monday. This briefing is brought to you by Joel Gaines of No Pundit Intended and Andrew Olmsted of Andrew Olmsted dot com.


  • Outgoing Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld wrote a memo recommending a drawdown of the U.S. presence in Iraq in response to a presidential request for an internal review of America's Iraq policy.

Other Topics Today Include: al-Maliki cracking down; F-16 crash; Hezbollah training Iraqis; billions in oil dollars lost; interest rate hike; Baathists want U.S. out; Iraqis self-partition; Carnival of the Liberated; Annan calls fighting civil war; Khamenei blames U.S. for violence; South Korea draws down, but stays; refugees flee Iraq; blogger symposium.

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  • Tom: Nice roundup. Bill Roggio is also currently over there and read more

December 3, 2006

Indian Matinee

By Nitin Pai at 11:14

Pointing and thinking from out of the tank

India pulled off a surprise this week when it successfully tested a prototype anti-ballistic missile system.

States in India's neighbourhood are on the brink --- why so, and why India has become part of the scenery.

Deciphering China is tough (well, not for some). And we need a Chinese Mitrokhin.

Kashmiri separatists --- some who think ethnic cleansing can be explained away by youthful indiscretion, and some whose words are taken a little too seriously. Here's why the jihadis can't stop fighting. Reporting Pakistani duplicity in the war on terror is as dangerous as it was.

On the Sachar Committee's report --- less patronisation and more economic freedom will benefit Muslims (and, for that matter, everyone else)

Is the economy bubbling?

(These are some of the posts that appeared this week over at INI Signal -- a new group blog on the Indian national interest.)

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Carman's Ultimate Baseball Interview Cliche List

By Joe Katzman at 08:07

Don Carman was a left-handed pitcher in the major leagues. He never excelled, but could be relied upon to make a lot of starts and be at least OK from 1987-1993. After enduring years of idiotic questions from sports writers, however, Carman showed that he was brilliant in at least one area: he compiled a list of 37 cliched answers that could fit almost any reporter's query. These included: "Baseball's a funny game"; "I just want to help the club any way I can"; "We need two more players to take us over the top: Babe Ruth & Lou Gehrig"; and a personal favorite, "We have a different hero every day." Carman posted the list above his locker with a note that told writers, "You saw the game... take what you need."

Presenting Carman's immortal list of 37 answers for sportswriters. Plus a very fine Slate Magazine article titled "The Autograph Man," that offers a neat story while also answering the question "where is he now?" The answer actually makes a lot of sense, when you think about it. Sort of like those quotes of his...

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December 1, 2006

Healthy wine and chocolate

By Donald Sensing at 16:13

Branching out to something completely different from my usual blog fare, I explore the heart-healthy benefits of wine and chocolate. For wine, the redder the better and for chocolate, the darker the better.

Researchers say that chemical compounds in both wine and chocolate benefit the cardiovascular system and medical chemists have been working to isolate what those compounds are. The answer? It's not resveratrol, it's compounds belonging to the flavenol antioxidant family, particularly procyanidins.

Read the rest at

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  • J Aguilar: My Godness! Only French and Sardinian wines are suitable, with read more
  • Fletcher Christian: I might also add; there is documented proof that organic read more

German Bundeswehr Thinks Inside the (Battle) Box

By Joe Katzman at 07:42
TransProtec Cutaway
(click to view full)

Airbus parent company EADS, in cooperation with the company Krauss-Maffei Wegmann (KMW) of Munich, has developed a multifunctional container for protected personal transport that can accommodate up to 18 people including equipment. "TransProtec" has undergone a series of blasting tests at Military Technical Centre WTD in Meppen to verify its ability to resist attacks with explosives, sniper fire, shrapnel, and mines. EADS also claims the units provide some resistance to NBC attacks. TransProtec can be transported on different makes of protected trucks, and a hook loading system makes it possible to load and unload the container quickly.

Clever concept... every heavy truck can become a mine-resistant APC. Or an armored ambulance. Or a truck, as required.

I'm noticing something of a slow trend in this area - one in which the Europeans are a lot closer to "right" than the USA. Containers are everywhere, produced in staggering numbers and carried around the world on a wide array of compatible ships, trains, planes, aircraft, et. al. As a potential military resource - and a civilian disaster-response option, too - they strike me as wildly under-utilized. Why not adapt them for use as ready-to-travel hardened military housing, with the ability to train as you fight, pack yourself up and ship immediately, then move them in-country and quickly set them up in configurations reminiscent of Roman forts? Gotta be better than tents in a mortar zone (Iraq, Afghanistan). Or, dare I point out, tents in a Hurricane zone post-Katrina (um, helloooo?!?). Meanwhile, In-Q-Tel funded SkyBuilt is working on containers as renewable energy power stations.

Deployed TransHospital
(click to view expanded)

DID has covered other containerized military systems from EADS (vid. the TransHospital sent to the USA post-Katrina), American counterparts like MMIC, and even renewable energy power stations by SkyBuilt et. al. The best collection I've found re: containerized military systems in worldwide use is a web piece called Think IN the Battle Box.

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