28 September 2006

Dear Mr. Hajji,

The Ruchnoy Protivotankoviy Granatomet 7 is a fine weapon when used correctly. It is a marvelously simple mechanism designed to project 2.6 kilograms of high explosive formed into a shaped charge capable of penetrating 330mm of Rolled Homogeneous Armor.

It was designed and issued to the Red Army in 1961 to be used a self-defense weapon for infantry squads against armored vehicles at point blank range. The launcher is a simple steel tube with bare-bones flip-up sights.

It is NOT, repeat NOT designed to be cocked up at a 45 degree angle and launched in the general direction of some vehicles that are probably 500 - 750 meters away. Even with the patented "Will of Allah" guidance system, the Mujahideen in Afghanistan who you deludedly believe you emulate preferred to fire at a maximum range of 80 meters. The book says you can hit point targets out to 300 meters away, but that's just advertising copy, surely you don't believe the advertising copy of Godless Communists, do you?

Personally, I believe you were fortunate to drop it as close as you did, but the general effect was more 'look at the pretty fireworks' rather than the 'I fear the mighty Mujahideen of Ramadi!' that you were going for.

Have a nice day, please try again soon.

25 September 2006


1st Brigade, 1st Armored Division has been extended for 46 days.

All this info is releasable, and supposedly has been given to the media as well.

4th Brigade, 1st Cavalry Division was supposed to relieve us in December. However, the situation in Baghdad is such that 4/1CD was instead sent to relieve the 172nd Brigade (the Alaska unit that got extended by 4 months) . As a result, the unit designated to relieve us was selected on Friday night by the Department of the Army, and surprise, surprise , they have not had a year in the United States since their last deployment.

In order to ensure that this unit has 12 full months to prepare for their deployment and get some time with their families, the RIP/TOA has been moved to mid-Feb and our BOG date (Be On Ground) in Germany is now 28 February.

23 September 2006


Seems like I'm constantly busy the past couple days doing. . .

Not much.

Supervising details, mostly. Booooring.

Also getting NVGs fixed. AN/PVS-7Bs have one hugely annoying quirk. The clip to attach them to the elbow that hooks to the helmet mounting plate is molded plastic, in one piece with the body. So every time some idiot smacks his NVGs on something (if you're 5'10", with a helmet, and your NVGs swung up so they rest OVER your helmet, then please DUCK when you enter a door intended for Iraqis who are 5' 6" on the average), it snaps the clip which means the middle third of the NVGs (the 'wire body') have to be entirely replaced.

And there's this platoon that isn't technically my job to support, but they are having a rough time getting proper support from the company they ARE attached to, and the PSG asked me nicely, and his guys are really cool about it, so I cover down on them. Yeah, they have waaaay more than their share of busted up NVGs because of this problem.

Thankfully, the ELM (not sure what the L is for, but the E is Electronics and M is Maint) section at 501st FSB (Forward Support Battalion) has good bench stock and did 3 pair in an hour, while I waited. Very cool.

20 September 2006

Comments on the Pope's Comments.

Jerry Pournelle

"In a more serous vein: the Pope delivers a rather important lecture on reason and faith, and how religion that does not recognize the primary importance of reason -- In the Beginning was the Word -- is contrary to the very nature of God. In the course of that he quotes a Byzantine emperor who was near the end of his rope, who saw in Islam nothing of value and no adherence to the importance of reason. The issue is whether today's Islam puts revelation (the Koran) above all reason and observation.

"I have heard no one in the Muslim community denounce the resulting reactions, in which Muslims demonstrate their commitment to reason and civilization by: calling for the assassination of the Pope; gunning down a nun on the steps of the free clinic she and her order operated; burning down churches.

"I think Benedict may have made his point, and the Muslims are eagerly affirming it.
Religion without reason is theological nonsense, at least in the Christian tradition. When science and revelation are flatly contradictory, one or the other is mistaken. This is the essence of Aquinas, and is taught in Catholic religion classes the world over, or certainly was when I was in high school. When right reason and science appear to contradict revelation, we have mistaken what was revealed. Benedict has repeated a lesson long taught; as Samuel Johnson observed, men seldom need educating but they often need reminding.

Lord Carey of Clifton, former Archbishop of Canterbury

Lord Carey said that Muslims must address "with great urgency" their religion’s association with violence. He made it clear that he believed the “clash of civilisations” endangering the world was not between Islamist extremists and the West, but with Islam as a whole.

“We are living in dangerous and potentially cataclysmic times,” he said. “There will be no significant material and economic progress [in Muslim communities] until the Muslim mind is allowed to challenge the status quo of Muslim conventions and even their most cherished shibboleths.”

“Islam’s borders are bloody and so are its innards. The fundamental problem for the West is not Islamic fundamentalism. It is Islam, a different civilisation whose people are convinced of the superiority of their culture and are obsessed with the inferiority of their power.”

“The actual essay is an extraordinarily effective and lucid thesis exploring the weakness of secularism and the way that faith and reason go hand in hand,” he said.

Cardinal George Pell of Australia

"The violent reaction in many parts of the Islamic world justified one of Pope Benedict's main fears," Pell, the Archbishop of Sydney, said in a statement on Web sites of the Catholic Church of Australia.

"They showed the link for many Islamists between religion and violence, their refusal to respond to criticism with rational arguments, but only with demonstrations, threats and actual violence," he said.

And Lawdog

Way to make his point, you sodding morons. "We're a religion of peace, and we'll by GOD kill, burn, bomb, beat, behead, imprison and tax anyone who says differently, so there!"

In response, the Pontiff said -- and I'm paraphrasing here -- "I am sorry that you got your panties in a wad."

I'm going to give the Moslems out there a bit of advice, free of charge:Y'all need to get your radical nutbars under control, and you need to do it sooner, rather than later.

If your Militant Squirrel Brigades manage to hit the Vatican, stuff is going to go south in a big, bloody hurry.

And God forbid if one of your frothing idiots manages to twep the Pope. That Crusade y'all've been wetting your knickers over? Yeah.

I suggest that it would be in your best interests to take anyone who's seriously considering a hit on the Pontiff out behind the camel barn and smack him firmly about the head and shoulders with an axe.

19 September 2006


To the dual snide references to the battle of Milvian Bridge, that put the Holy Constantine Augustus Isoapostolis of blessed memory on the throne of the Roman Empire. Constantine I's policy on religion has nothing to do with forced conversions, indeed is entirely moderate and liberal, and to demonstrate that point the relevant so-called "Edict of Milan" is reproduced in its entirety.

When I, Constantine Augustus, as well as I, Licinius Augustus, fortunately met near Mediolanurn, and were considering everything that pertained to the public welfare and security, we thought, among other things which we saw would be for the good of many, those regulations pertaining to the reverence of the Divinity ought certainly to be made first, so that we might grant to the Christians and others full authority to observe that religion which each preferred; whence any Divinity whatsoever in the seat of the heavens may be propitious and kindly disposed to us and all who are placed under our rule. And thus by this wholesome counsel and most upright provision we thought to arrange that no one whatsoever should be denied the opportunity to give his heart to the observance of the Christian religion, of that religion which he should think best for himself, so that the Supreme Deity, to whose worship we freely yield our hearts) may show in all things His usual favor and benevolence. Therefore, your Worship should know that it has pleased us to remove all conditions whatsoever, which were in the rescripts formerly given to you officially, concerning the Christians and now any one of these who wishes to observe Christian religion may do so freely and openly, without molestation. We thought it fit to commend these things most fully to your care that you may know that we have given to those Christians free and unrestricted opportunity of religious worship. When you see that this has been granted to them by us, your Worship will know that we have also conceded to other religions the right of open and free observance of their worship for the sake of the peace of our times, that each one may have the free opportunity to worship as he pleases; this regulation is made we that we may not seem to detract from any dignity or any religion.

Moreover, in the case of the Christians especially we esteemed it best to order that if it happens anyone heretofore has bought from our treasury from anyone whatsoever, those places where they were previously accustomed to assemble, concerning which a certain decree had been made and a letter sent to you officially, the same shall be restored to the Christians without payment or any claim of recompense and without any kind of fraud or deception, Those, moreover, who have obtained the same by gift, are likewise to return them at once to the Christians. Besides, both those who have purchased and those who have secured them by gift, are to appeal to the vicar if they seek any recompense from our bounty, that they may be cared for through our clemency. All this property ought to be delivered at once to the community of the Christians through your intercession, and without delay. And since these Christians are known to have possessed not only those places in which they were accustomed to assemble, but also other property, namely the churches, belonging to them as a corporation and not as individuals, all these things which we have included under the above law, you will order to be restored, without any hesitation or controversy at all, to these Christians, that is to say to the corporations and their conventicles: providing, of course, that the above arrangements be followed so that those who return the same without payment, as we have said, may hope for an indemnity from our bounty. In all these circumstances you ought to tender your most efficacious intervention to the community of the Christians, that our command may be carried into effect as quickly as possible, whereby, moreover, through our clemency, public order may be secured. Let this be done so that, as we have said above, Divine favor towards us, which, under the most important circumstances we have already experienced, may, for all time, preserve and prosper our successes together with the good of the state. Moreover, in order that the statement of this decree of our good will may come to the notice of all, this rescript, published by your decree, shall be announced everywhere and brought to the knowledge of all, so that the decree of this, our benevolence, cannot be concealed.

From Lactantius, De Mort. Pers., ch. 48. opera, ed. 0. F. Fritzsche, II, p 288 sq. (Bibl Patr. Ecc. Lat. XI).
Translated in University of Pennsylvania. Dept. of History: Translations and Reprints from the Original Sources of European history, (Philadelphia, University of Pennsylvania Press [1897?-1907?]), Vol 4:, 1, pp. 28-30. This text is in the public domain.

Point, Game, Set, Match.

Care to try again?

In the interests of fairness

For all the crap I shovel on Islam, it is only right that I say something when I see a Muslim doing the right thing. In the Dallas Morning News, an Imam writes:

Stand for what is right

Re: "Cleared man cites prejudice – He says being Muslim was reason he was arrested in cell case," Sept. 8 Metro.

I've been a Muslim for 30 years, and I have never been followed, harassed or stopped by the FBI or CIA or at the airport just because I'm a Muslim.

Our scriptures say, "Be fair and just in our dealing," and "Stand up for what is right regardless of whom it is against."

For someone on the Council on American-Islamic Relations to say, "Every Muslim has been the victim of suspicion," is ignorance. Neither CAIR nor any other group speaks for all Muslims.

Some Muslims have to stop thinking that Americans are unintelligent. As an imam, I will never say that I represent all Muslims because I know we have some bad ones and some who need to be checked out.

I'm all for that. I will not stand up for bad people.

Imam Muhammad Shakoor, Irving

Historical Mythology

From my wife's LJ:

"Christianity did not take 1100 years to discover violence by any measure. Read Dark Ages history and see how many tribes were converted because their leaders were defeated in battle, and the conversion was part of the settlement. I cannot say that I see Christianity as a religion of peace until 1100, nor can I excuse what it during the Crusades based on not having access to a given piece of property that had historically had belonged to the Jews."

Now, being the snarky and well-read sort of amateur historian that I am, I wondered what sort of history this person had been reading. Perhaps Wiccan history, about 'peaceful Earth religions' in pre-Roman Gaul and the "Burning Times".

Now, I recall that Chucky of the Magnificent Ego (King of the Franks, no matter what title the Bishop of Rome handed him) tried to mandate that the defeated Saxons convert to Christianity, and I know that the Teutonic Order in the 13th century fought pagan Baltic tribes, but I'm trying to think of other examples and failing.

I'm also baffled as to what crack the person is smoking regarding the Roman province of Palestina, which was part of the (Christian) Roman Empire for centuries before the Muslims conquered it. Even then, it wasn't until the Seljuks started murdering pilgrims and invading Anatolia that the Crusades kicked off.

I note that the person has not responded to my request to cite source or retract.

18 September 2006

Elaboration, with sarcasm

Michelle Malkin has photos and more information on the latest martyr to Islamic Islam-ness. Sister Leonella Sgorbati, eternal memory.

Meanwhile in London, candidates for deportation back to the Middle East Hellhole of their Choice conveniently identify themselves.

Oh, wait, the British aren't going to defend their nation. That might OFFEND the little savages.

The Aussies, however, have a bit more stones.

"We live in a world of terrorism where evil acts are being regularly perpetrated in the name of your faith," Mr Robb said at the Sydney conference.
"And because it is your faith that is being invoked as justification for these evil acts, it is your problem.
"You can't wish it away, or ignore it, just because it has been caused by others.
"Instead, speak up and condemn terrorism, defend your role in the way of life that we all share here in Australia."

Mr Robb said unless Muslims took responsibility for their destiny and tackled the causes of terrorism, Australia would become divided. Mr Robb, the parliamentary secretary for immigration and multicultural affairs, said it was important for migrants to learn English.

"I see as critical the need for imams to have effective English language skills -- it is a self-evident truth that a shared language is one of the foundations of national cohesion," he said.

On the eve of Mr Robb's release today of a discussion paper on a new citizenship test, the chairman of the Government's Muslim Reference Group, Dr Ameer Ali, said Opposition Leader Kim Beazley's idea of a values test was silly, as was the need for a universal English test. He called for an orientation program for new migrants akin to a university student's orientation week.

What a shocking, "silly" idea! That immigrants to an English-speaking country be expected to understand the values of that country and the language used to express those values! Good, heavens, what next? Next those crazy Aussies might want Muslims to stop beating their women and engaging in the slave trade.

Latest new in the War on Terrorism, Pakistan has pretty much officially changed sides. Among those released:

Ghulam Mustafa: "He was once close to Osama bin Laden, has intimate knowledge of al-Qaeda's logistics and financing and its nexus with the military in Pakistan."

Maulana Sufi Mohammad: "Maulana Sufi Mohammad was Faqir Mohammed's first jihadi mentor who introduced him to militancy in Afghanistan in 1993. Sufi Mohammad was one of the active leaders of Jamat-e-Islami (JI) in the 1980s. He was the principal of the JI madrassa in Tamaergra, a town in the northwestern part of NWFP. He was an instinctive hardliner and in due course developed differences with JI and left them in 1992 to form Tehrik-e-Nifaz-e-Shariat-e-Mohammed [TNSM]." Sufi Mohammad organized Pakistanis to fight jihad in Afghanistan and along with the TNSM fought in Kunduz November of 2001.

Mohammad Khaled: A brigade leader who led the Taliban in against U.S. forces in Afghanistan. ""It is a difficult time for Islam and Muslims. We are in a test. Everybody should be ready to pass the test - and to sacrifice our lives," said Mohammad Khaled.

Fazl-e-Raziq: A senior aide to Osama bin Laden, and "an ethnic Pakhtoon resident of Swabi district of the North West Frontier Province."

Khairullah Kherkhawa: The former Taliban governor of Herat.

Khalid Khawaja: "Khalid Khawaja is a retired squadron leader of the Pakistan Air Force who was an official in Pakistan’s intelligence agency, the ISI, in the mid 1980s. After he wrote a critical letter to General Zia ul-Haq, who ruled Pakistan from 1977 till 1988, in which he labeled Zia as hypocrite, he was removed from the ISI and forced to retire from the airforce. He then went straight to Afghanistan in 1987 and fought against the Soviets along side with Osama Bin Laden, developing a relationship of firm friendship and trust. Khalid Khawaja’s name resurfaced when US reporter Daniel Pearl was abducted and subsequently killed. Pearl had come to Pakistan and met Khalid Khawaja in order to investigate the jihadi network of revered sufi, Syed Mubarak Ali Gailani."

Mansour Hasnain: A member of the group that kidnapped and murdered Danny Pearl. He also was "a militant of the Harkat-al-Mujahedin group, is one of those who hijacked an Indian Airlines jet in December 1999 and forced New Delhi to release three militants -- including Omar and Azhar."

Mohammad Hashim Qadeer: "Suspected of being one of [Daniel] Pearl’s actual killers, was arrested in August 2005 and has notable al-Qaida links" and "ties with the banned extremist groups Harkat-ul-Mujahedeen and Jaish-e-Muhammad."

Mohammad Bashir: Another Pakistani complicit in the murder of Daniel Pearl.

Aamni Ahmad, Hala Ahmad and Nooran Abdu: Facilitators/couriers, and wives of al-Qaeda members. "Pakistani authorities arrested 23 Arabs, including two children, suspected of links to Osama bin Laden, officials said Wednesday. All of them sneaked into the country from Afghanistan in recent weeks. The suspects include three women, identified as Aamni Ahmad, Hala Ahmad and Nooran Abdu, who are believed to be relatives of bin Laden. An interior ministry official who spoke on condition of anonymity said the arrests were made in Pakistan's southwestern Baluchistan province, which borders Afghanistan."

Gul Ahmed Shami & Hamid Noor: Al-Qaeda foot soldiers who fought in Afghanistan. "I want to be the next Osama bin Laden," said Shami in 2001. "Allah is with us. The Americans have technology but they don't have the courage to face death, which we do. I will be there until my death if need be. I know I probably won't come back," said Hamid.

Yeah, gotta love those Pakistanis. The Taliban kicked their happy asses in Waziristan, mostly because they don't want to hammer the Taliban flat. They aren't committed to this war, but they are convinced that they fence sit and play both sides against they middle, just like the Saudis do. Time to drop a giant hammer on them. Like I have said before, the only justification for supporting a tinhorn two-bit dictator is if he supports your interests and and fights your enemies. Remember Joe Stalin? Genocidal manic who used to run the Soviet Union? But we gave him lots of trucks, tanks, airplanes, etc. during WWII because he was fighting the Nazis. Well, as long as he's fighting the Taliban, I'm in favor of supporting Pervez Musharraf. The second that justification is no longer there, I vote to kick him to the curb.

While I'm at it, let me publicize a little-known speech, where we are keeping up with the Catholics in telling it like it is.

Some speech, however is not merely stupid, but actually illegal. Thanks to soon-to-be-Mr. Watada for giving us a demonstration of what illegal speech looks like. I bet that if one his Soldiers call him a piece of shit, he'd want that Soldier punished. Well, as long as he still holds him commision I can't violate any articles of the UCMJ by calling him a piece of shit who deserves to go in front of a firing squad.

Civillians may do so.

On a lighter note, Xavier brings us Things NOT to do with an AK-47 if you want to catch your 72 virgins. I don't think they hand out virgins for arriving with a story about how you were going to go fight the infidel, but your buddy had an idea for a picture, and you didn't know the AK was loaded. . .

LTC Cooper (ret) is more than a little bit under the weather right now, keep him in mind.

OK, let me clarify a previous post.

According to this article,

"Bush's proposal allows evidence to be held from a defendant if it is classified and allows coerced testimony if deemed reliable. The Senate bill requires a judge to dismiss charges if evidence cannot be shared. It also excludes any testimony obtained by cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment. "

We aren't saying 'what gives us actionable intelligence'. We are talking what is legally admissable in court. You want to be cruel or degrading to some towel-head in order to find out where his buddies are, that's OK by me.

I just don't want it in my court system. That's insane. That's ripe for abuse. That's a violation of any standards of legal procedure I can imagine. That's all.

I don't care if the CIA snatches up foreign nationals, and I don't believe they should have to meet legal standards of proof before doing so. Did we have evidence that met the legal standard of proof of criminal wrongdoing for every German and Japanese soldier we killed in WWII? Hell, no. But if you are going to take them alive, hold them, and then wish to charge them with a crime and imprison them, better have some decent proof. That's all I'm saying.

We aren't discussing whether or not it should be legal to wire a mass-murderer up with jumper cables and run voltage through his butt until he spills the beans about the menu at the last al-Qaeda prayer breakfast. That's a different and more nuanced question, and personally I feel the US Army Field Manual on the subject covers it well. The latest version is unclassified, but I leave it as an exercise for the reader.

17 September 2006

It doesn't happen every day, but. . .

On this issue, George Bush is wrong as two fat boys in a phone booth.

If this is a religion of "peace", I'm a poached egg.

Palestinian Churches Burn

In Tulkarm, a stone church built 170 years ago was torched before dawn and its entire inside was destroyed, local Christian officials said. In the village of Tubas, a small church was attacked with firebombs and partially burned, Christians said. Neither church is Catholic, the officials said.
On Saturday, Muslims hurled firebombs and opened fire at five churches in the West Bank and Gaza Strip to protest the Pope's comments, sparking concerns of a rift between Palestinian Muslims and Christians.

In Tulkarm, church official Daoud Firoba said Palestinian security had guarded the Greek Orthodox church until midnight, but then left. The entire inside of the sanctuary was burned, including furniture and an ornate wooden door, Firoba said. Books that are 500 years old survived, he said.

"This hurts my heart, this is against my God and my religion," Firoba said. "But I think that those who burned it don't understand that we are Palestinians and we are not related."
The church is used by three Christian families left in Tulkarm, Firoba said.

In the small village of Tubas, Christian resident Michel Sayer said that he smelled smoke at three in the morning.

"I came and saw the church was on fire and immediately we put it out," Sayer said. "We found two firebombs outside that were not thrown in and three inside that had been thrown."
About 100 Christians live in Tubas, Sayer said.

MOGADISHU, Sept 17 (Reuters) - The killing of an Italian Catholic nun in Mogadishu on Sunday may well be linked to anger among Muslims about Pope Benedict's recent remarks on Islam, a senior source among Somalia's Islamists said.

"There is a very high possibility the people who killed her were angered by the Catholic Pope's recent comments against Islam," the source told Reuters.

The source, however, offered no specific evidence to support that motive.

Gunmen shot and killed the nun, who worked at a children's hospital in north Mogadishu, and her bodyguard.

"After serious injuries, she died in the hospital treatment room. ... She was shot three times in the back," Dr Ali Mohamed Hassan, a physician at the hospital, told Reuters.

Notice that this comes AFTER the Pope apologized.

Here's some background from the BBC:

Father Thomas Reese, a Jesuit scholar and an authority on the workings of the Vatican, told the BBC news website of his concerns: "The Pope's worst decision so far has been the exiling of Archbishop Fitzgerald," he said in an interview in April this year.
"He was the smartest guy in the Vatican on relations with Muslims. You don't exile someone like that, you listen to them.
"If the Vatican says something dumb about Muslims, people will die in parts of Africa and churches will be burned in Indonesia, let alone what happens in the Middle East."

Notice what is said.

Notice what isn't said.

Muslims have such an inferiority complex that they cannot tolerate any criticism, be it implied or explicity. Again, their inability to control their violent impulses is the key. Whether you believe they are stupid, or subhuman, or what ever explanation you prefer, it seems to be a given that of course the Muslims are burning buildings and killing nuns. It's practically normal and expected. Now, if a Christian did this, it would arouse condemnation from every Christian leader and a lot of folks who aren't. But for Muslims, they get demonstrations in their support and parlimentary resolutions approving their church-burning.

Everyone gets angry when criticized and they believe the criticism is unfair or untrue. I have not, however, seen a Christian riot which burns down a university student newspaper which has the bad taste to publish a sophmoric attack on Christianity. Nor can I recall the last time I heard of a Muslim religious leader exposed to such vehemence when he expressed the idea that Christians are deluded (which is an opinion he HAS to have, or he'd be one of us, not a Muslim).

Individual Muslims may be perfectly decent people. But the events of the past few years have hammered it home over and over again: Islam as a whole is incompatible with any respect for human rights or human beings who are not Muslim.

15 September 2006

OK, so we still aren't seeing eye to eye on that Filioque thang,

But I'm rather impressed by the Bishop of Old Rome's latest speech.

According to the BBC, he said:

"I was reminded of all this recently, when I read... of part of the dialogue carried on - perhaps in 1391 in the winter barracks near Ankara - by the erudite Byzantine Emperor Manuel II Paleologus and an educated Persian on the subject of Christianity and Islam, and the truth of both.
"In the seventh conversation...the emperor touches on the theme of the holy war. Without descending to details, such as the difference in treatment accorded to those who have the 'Book' and the 'infidels', he addresses his interlocutor with a startling brusqueness on the central question about the relationship between religion and violence in general, saying: 'Show me just what Muhammad brought that was new, and there you will find things only evil and inhuman, such as his command to spread by the sword the faith he preached.'
"The emperor, after having expressed himself so forcefully, goes on to explain in detail the reasons why spreading the faith through violence is something unreasonable. Violence is incompatible with the nature of God and the nature of the soul. 'God,' he says, 'is not pleased by blood - and not acting reasonably is contrary to God's nature. Faith is born of the soul, not the body. Whoever would lead someone to faith needs the ability to speak well and to reason properly, without violence and threats.'"

"The decisive statement in this argument against violent conversion is this: not to act in accordance with reason is contrary to God's nature. The editor, Theodore Khoury, observes: For the emperor, as a Byzantine shaped by Greek philosophy, this statement is self-evident. But for Muslim teaching, God is absolutely transcendent. His will is not bound up with any of our categories, even that of rationality.
"At this point, as far as understanding of God and thus the concrete practice of religion is concerned, we are faced with an unavoidable dilemma. Is the conviction that acting unreasonably contradicts God's nature merely a Greek idea, or is it always and intrinsically true?"

"The liberal theology of the 19th and 20th Centuries ushered in a second stage in the process of dehellenisation, with Adolf von Harnack as its outstanding representative.
"Jesus was said to have put an end to worship in favour of morality. In the end he was presented as the father of a humanitarian moral message. Fundamentally, Harnack's goal was to bring Christianity back into harmony with modern reason.
"[But]...any attempt to maintain theology's claim to be "scientific" would end up reducing Christianity to a mere fragment of its former self... This is a dangerous state of affairs for humanity, as we see from the disturbing pathologies of religion and reason which necessarily erupt when reason is so reduced that... religion or ethics no longer concern it. "

"The intention here is not one of retrenchment or negative criticism, but of broadening our concept of reason and its application... Only thus do we become capable of that genuine dialogue of cultures and religions so urgently needed today.
"In the Western world it is widely held that only positivistic reason and the forms of philosophy based on it are universally valid. Yet the world's profoundly religious cultures see this exclusion of the divine from the universality of reason as an attack on their most profound convictions. A reason which is deaf to the divine and which relegates religion into the realm of subcultures is incapable of entering into the dialogue of cultures."

Download entire speech

Pakistan's parliament passed a resolution demanding that the Pope retract his remarks "in the interest of harmony between religions".

When did Pakistan have anything to say on the subject of harmony between religions?

The Pope's spokesman now says the Pope didn't mean to hurt the feeling of Muslims around the world, but the facts speak for themselves. Manuel wasn't faced with rampaging hordes of Lutherans, Buddhists, Taoists, pagan animists, Scientologists, or even Catholics (although his predecessors had serious problems with those damned French and their Venetian paymasters). Further, in context I think the phrases are less inflammatory than they have been portrayed in the media.

Well, I'm off to go have coffee with the Prods. Catch y'all later.

13 September 2006

Shotguns and the Media

So, yesterday LCPL B------ from the Marine small boat unit shows up with an M1014 Shotgun, which is a sweet little Benelli semi-auto weapon. Absolutely gorgeous. However, the bolt is frozen halfway between the open and closed position. Now, I don’t know squat about these Benellis, but he wants someone else’s opinion because he just is out of ideas. We pull the weapon apart, and get everything off of it but the bolt. Nothing doing, we cannot either move the bolt or see what the problem is. Now, we know that there is a broken piece in the trigger assembly and that there the tip of a small rod is missing. I’m guessing that it is wedged in there, holding the bolt in place.

So I did something I hate to do to a perfectly good weapon. I put it in a vice, and put a crescent wrench over the charging handle, and smacked the other end with a freakin’ big hammer.

Do not try this at home, folks. It’s also definitely NOT recommended procedure for anyone who isn’t an armorer. Even if you’re an armorer, get a second opinion like the good LCPL did before whaling away with a hammer on a weapon.

I eventually knocked the bolt all the way forward, at which point it fell out of the weapon and the missing tip of the rod goes flying. It had indeed been wedged between the bolt and the receiver.

This is what passes for excitement here.

I understand there is a big kerfluffle caused by a Marine officer’s report on al-Anbar Province basically saying that this place is a mess. As I understand the gist of the report as reported by the media (hahahahaha), there aren’t enough troops in al-Anbar province to put a boot up the foot of the insurgency in a serious manner. As a result, they basically have kicked the Iraqi Government out of the province.

Well, in the first place let me remind folks that the report has NOT been released to the press, and that we have third- and fourth-hand discussion of what the report contains. That’s what the legal profession calls “hearsay”. And the media has their own ‘special’ spin on the war and how they report things. I haven’t seen many reporters out here in al-Anbar checking things over for themselves, that’s for damn sure. Probably because they can’t find a secure hotel with a well-stocked wet bar in Ramadi.

But let’s assume that the contents of the report are being reported accurately. Let’s assume that this colonel, who has been in al-Anbar for nearly a full USMC tour (7 months) if I understand the media correctly, is not just burnt out because he has seen little progress during his tour.

The major reported issue is troop strength, specifically that there is not sufficient troop strength to operate effectively in downtown Ramadi and other urban areas. I’m pretty sure that the brass hats in Baghdad, Qatar, and Washington are aware of this, given that they shifted 1st BCT 1AD (your humble correspondent) and the majority of 2nd BCT 1AD down here this summer. As to dispersing them into smaller FOBs and COPs downtown, that is pushing into OPSEC information so I’ll just tell you that basic counterinsurgency theory is not entirely unknown among the senior folks in this province.

In other words, one bad report does not a lost war make, and there are measures implied in the report which will allow the United States, our Coalition allies, and the Iraqi Government to make headway here. Remember that as COPs, FOBs, and entire sectors pass into Iraqi control, more troops are freed up to concentrate on the remaining 4 provinces where the security situation is out of control.

Also working the news is the issue of how to count murders in Baghdad. The statistics out there are so badly massaged, first by the Army chain of command, then further by the PAO officers, then again by the media. What resemblance they have to the actual ground truth, only God truly knows.

There is some validity to trying to determine what murders are happening why. People killed in suicide bombings by jihadist terrorists from outside of Iraq are a totally different issue from people killed by Shi’a death squads or Sunni Former Regime Elements. The latter are pushing Iraq to a civil war, the former can be thought of as a foreign invading force killing Iraqis to destabilize their government. Means and methods to reduce those differing types of violence do differ somewhat.

There is no excuse for presenting misleading statistics without some sort of clear definition of what those statistics measure. If you are measuring only murders carried out by internal faction fighting, and excluding terrorist attacks, then you need to make it perfectly clear. On the other hand, it wouldn’t be the first time some poor PAO type tried to make a complex point clear, while the media munched on donuts and exercised selective hearing in a deliberate effort to make the military look bad.

I mean, when you have a question as to who got their story garbled, the only thing you have to go on is your reputation for integrity, and the majority of the MSM hasn't got anything left. I am far more likely to give the PAO types the benefit of the doubt rather than assume that the PAO is lying and the MSM is telling the honest-to-God truth.

12 September 2006

The Battle of Vienna

Sobieski planned to attack on the 13th of September, but he had noticed that the Turkish deployments were poorly arranged and ordered full attack on September 12. Kara Mustafa Pasha had entrusted the defense of his rear to the Khan of Crimea and the 30,000 Tartars under his command. The combined relief force numbered some 70,000 troops, 30,000 of them cavalry and 140 guns.

In the early morning hours of 12 September, before the battle, a mass is held for King Sobieski.

The allied forces took up the positions to the north of the city, at the Vienna Forrest. The Polish forces took the positions of the right flank, reaching from Rosskopf to Dreimarkstein. The forces were arranged in such a way that both hetmans with the cavalry and infantry units took up the flank positions, and in the middle there were the royal hussars and infantry--the full-time professionals of the standing army. The central positions situated in the vicinity of Vogelsang were occupied by the troops of the Bavarian elector - Prince Waldeck. The left flank on Kahlenberg consisted of the forces of the Sass elector and Prince Karol Lotaryński. The left flank was to initiate the attack.

Despite the fact that the whole Vienna was surrounded, the Turkish concentrated their main forces to the north of the city, as they were afraid of the attack from that side. The Turkish positions ranged from Schönbrunn to Döbling. The Tatars took up the positions beyond the Wiedenka.

At 6 o'clock in the morning of September 12 the left flank of the allied forces launched the attack. The infantry moved from Kahlenberg towards the Turkish positions on Nussberg. It was followed by the artillery, which halted to engage enemy with cannon fire. Sobieski ordered the batteries of the Kahlenberg slopes to support the attack with fire. At 8 o'clock Nussberg was conquered. The left flank forces kept on attacking. At noon Heiligenstad--defended fiercely by the Turk--was secured. At about noon the units of that flank approached Vienna. To prevent their entering the city, the majority of the Turkish forces gathered there, preparing for counter-attack.

Sobieski decided to attack the Turkish left flank from Severing and Dornbach. He led the Polish infantry units reinforced by artillery out of the woods. The units were commanded by General Kątski. They were followed by the hussars. The infantry attacked through a range of lower hills separating the Polish formation from the Vienna Plain. The Turkish commander - Kara Mustafa, envisaging imminent threat, directed the best infantry regiments supported by the Turkish artillery fire against them. The fierce, arduous fight for every hill, vineyard and grove began. The right flank of the allied forces from Vogelsang and the forces deployed in the centre attacked simultaneously. The Turks managed to suppress the attack of the German infantry in the centre but Sobieski supported the Germans with his own infantry and broke the enemy's resistance. The allied forces were moving forward.

At about 5 o'clock in the afternoon the Turkish forces were concentrated on the plain. To determine whether a full-scale cavalry attack was feasible, Sobieski directed a hussar troop to attack the enemy. This troop caused confusion in the Turkish lines and then fell back to the initial position. Sobieski determined at 6 o'clock that a cavalry attack could decide the battle and ordered the hussars and other armored troops to form for attack. In the meantime, Kara Mustafa gathered the majority of his forces against the Poles and supported the main Turkish camp on Schmelz with the right flank units. The Turkish cavalry arranged in three lines took the positions to the north-west of the camp. The Turks assembled a great number of cannons there.

Sobieski led 20,000 cavalry to the attack. They gathered momentum attacking down the sloping terrain. The cavalry of the left flank and the allied forces centre followed them. During the attack the Turkish artillery opened fire and the Turkish heavy cavalry moved forward to encounter the galloping hussars. The Turkish cavalry fell in a row during the head-on clash; then the hussars attacked the next array. The Turks were seized with fear and panic. A great number of Kara Mustafa’s cavalry were slaughtered, the rest fled to save their lives. They were followed by the infantry. Kara Mustafa himself panicked and fled, temporarily saving his neck. The great Turkish army was completely defeated. The infantry left in the suburbs of the city tried to defend themselves but the forces of Karol Lotaryński dislodged them. Sobieski took over the Turkish camp – Vienna was free. "It was a great battle, lasting from the noon till the sunset, it reminded the Last Judgment" wrote the Turkish chronicler. "Finally, shortly before the dusk, the Muslim army had lacked the strength to fight, thus it was defeated and escaped."

The Pope and other foreign dignitaries hailed Sobieski as the "Savior of Vienna and Western European civilization." In a letter to his wife he wrote, "All the common people kissed my hands, my feet, my clothes; others only touched me, saying: 'Ah, let us kiss so valiant a hand!'"

The Turks lost about 15,000 men in the fighting, compared to approximately 4,000 for the Habsburg-Polish forces.

On the 25th of December, 1683, Kara Mustafa Pasha was executed in Belgrade by the commander of the Jannisaries. He was strangled, then decapitated in the manner traditional for the execution of high officials in the Ottoman Empire.

The Battle of Vienna shaped the outcome of the entire war as well. The Ottomans fought on for another 16 years against a Holy League consisting of Austria, Poland, and Russia, losing control of Hungary and Transylvania in the process. The end of this conflict was marked by the Treaty of Karlowitz. but fighting against the Ottoman Empire for the liberation of the Balkans would continue for almost another 200 years.

11 September 2006

11th of September

The Hungarians and Protestant dissidents under the leadership of Imre Thököly initiated conflict along the Austrian Militargrenz (Military Border District) in the early 1680s. They really couldn’t get anywhere substantial, and applied to the Turkish patrons for assistance. Grand Vizir Merzifonlu Kara Mustafa Pasha managed to convince Sultan Mehmet IV to permit him to raise an army and operate against the Austrian forces. A declaration of war was dispatched to Vienna in 1682, but the inefficiencies of the Ottoman administration delayed the assembly of troops. The offensive began with the first units leaving Edirne in Thrace on 1 April 1683.

Now, Kara Mustafa had previously fought a successful war against Poland in which he had initially defeated Poland and added the province of Podolia. The Poles under the leadership of Grand Hetman Jan Sobieski won another battle which allowed them to modify the peace treaty and avoid paying any tribute, but did not recover the province. So when the Army began marching, there was a question as to where it was headed. Poland, now under the leadership of King Jan III Sobieski (also Grand Duke of Lithuania, Ruthenia, Ducal Prussia, Masovia, Samogotia, etc, etc, etc) initiated conscription.

Now, Jan is an interesting fellow in his own right. His father, Jakub Sobieski was a Ruthenian voivod, and his mother was Zofia Teofilia nee Danilowicz, granddaughter of the Hetman Stanislaw Zalkiewski. He was a graduate of the Nowodwory College in Krakow, and the philisophical school of the Jagiellonian Academy. He also travelled in Western Europe and learned French, German, Italian, and Latin. In 1648, he raised a banner of cavalry and fought in the Chmielnicki Uprising, ending with the rank of pulkownik (colonel, more or less). He served as an envoy to the Ottomans at the behest of King Jan II Casimir and there learned Turkish. During "The Deluge" (invasion of Poland by Sweden) his unit was among the units that were forced to capitulate at Ujscie and swore allegiance to Carl X Gustav of Sweden, but less than a year later he returned to the Polish side. In 1656, he commanded a regiment of Tartars during the Battle of Warsaw and was awarded the title of Standard-Bearer of the Crown. He remained loyal during the Lubomirski Rebellion. He married Marie Casiire Louise de la Grange d'Arquien, who although French had arrived in Poland at the age of 5 as a lady in waiting to Luwika Maria Gonzaga, who was Queen of Poland from 1645-1672 (Originally as wife of Wladyslaw IV, but his death wasn't going to slow her down, as she married his brother who succeeded him). This was her second marriage, but she managed to produce 13 children, of whom 4 survived to adulthood.

Another diversion: Not only was this marriage extremely beneficial to Jan's career (corresponding to his appointment as Great Marshal of the Crown that same year) but was apparently a true love match, as shown by the publication after both of their deaths of their love letters, composed while he was out of the country fighting. He often wrote to her discussing decisions that faced him as King and she was a big part of the decision making process. To this day, in Poland she is often known as Marysieńka, which was the King's fond diminuitive for her.

On May 19th, 1674 Jan was elected as the new monarch of Poland after the death of Michal Korybut Wisniowiecki, who died on the 10th of November 1673, the day before Sobieski's victory at Chocim referred to above. He danced the dance of all Polish kings, dealing with rebellious Tartars and obstinate magnates, as well as Brandenburg, Sweden, and Austria who all wanted to aggrandize themselves at the cost of the Commonwealth. He also managed to reform the military, dropping pikes in favor of infantry who used large battleaxes as musket-rests and close combat weapons as well. He also reorganized the regiments and standardized them, and introduced dragoons into Polish cavalry. He standardized and reformed the famous winged hussars as well. For those whose military education focuses on more recent events, the term 'hussar' brings to mind extravagantly dressed light cavalrymen armed with saber. The Polish pancerny huzara wore armor, often 3/4 plate (plate armor down to the knees, with thick leather knee-high boots), and armed with lance, sword, saber, a variety of ranged weapons (composite bow, carbine, pistols in great profusion), and possibly a warhammer or mace. Their most distinctive visual signature was the pair of large frames covered in feathers which were secured to their backs.

Emperor Leopold I Hapsburg soon discovered that the Ottomans were marching on Vienna. He fought some desultory skirmishes, and then fled Vienna. He dispatched envoys, reinforced with a papal nuncio, to beg King Jan III Sobieski to send a relief force. The Turks invested Vienna on the 14th of July. Graf Ernst Rudiger von Starhemberg commanded about 11,000 troops and 5,000 civilian volunteers who refused evacuation refused to capitulate. I wonder if any European city today could find 5,000 citizens willing to defend their homes, and with the weaponry to do so. Several target shooting clubs did excellent work as snipers, for instance. They had demolished houses outside the walls to clear fields of fire. The Ottomans had some 300 cannon, but the Viennese fortifications were too modern to be greatly bothered by the obsolete pieces. The Pasha ordered his men to begin digging saps. The Ottomans had the troops to overwhelm the walls in an assault, but the caution of their commander prevented this eminently logical course. By early September, the Turks had managed to dig to the city walls and blew up portions of the walls, the Burg bastion, the Lobel bastion and the Burg ravelin. The Burg ravelin and the Nieder wall were occupied on 8 September. The defenders prepared for the end, and began planning to fight the Turks street-by-street.

Leopold was not disappointed. On July 16th, 1683, his envoys arrived, and on the same day the orders were issued for an assembly of the Polish Army at Krakow. By August 2nd, the entire force of 27,000 soldiers was assembled, plus perhaps twice as many non-combatant support personnel and they set out for Austria. Reinforcements from Germany were also being brought up to link up with the Polish forces. On September 3rd,the King held a council attended by hetmans Stanisław Jabłonowski and Mikołaj Sieniawski, the artillery general Marcin Kątski, Elector Jan Jerzy III, the Bavarian elector, and the emperor's generals participated in that session. King Jan III Sobieski assumed command of the allied forces. The plan of the relief submitted by the Polish king was accepted then. Sobieski's plan assumed crossing the Danube to the right bank. Having crossed the river, the allied forces were to make a careful reconnaissance of the enemy and then to march along the Danube through the mountain area of the so-called Vienna Forest. The most important role during the march was allocated to the infantry whose task was to prevent the army from being surprised by the enemy. The allied forces were to attack the enemy just after passing through the Vienna Forest and having crushed the enemy – pass on to the pursuit.

The night of 4/5 September saw the Polish and Austria forces cross the Danube on pontoon bridges. The allies formed three columns and marched until the 11th of September, when they took position across from the Turkish Army. Due to the failure to concentrate on the main effort, the Turks had dispersed much of their army and were left with 85,000 troops in the main army and 25,000 in the suburbs.


American Airlines Flight 11, a Boeing 767-223 wide-body aircraft, crashed into the north side of the North Tower of the World Trade Center (WTC) at 8:46:30 a.m.

United Airlines Flight 175, a Boeing 767-222, crashed into the South Tower at 9:02:59 a.m., an event covered live by television broadcasters from around the world who had their cameras trained on the buildings after the earlier crash.

American Airlines Flight 77, a Boeing 757-223, crashed into the Pentagon at 9:37:46 a.m.

United Airlines Flight 93, a Boeing 757-222, crashed in a field in southwest Pennsylvania just outside of Shanksville, about 150 miles (240 km) northwest of Washington, D.C., at 10:03:11 a.m., with parts and debris found up to eight miles away. The crash in Pennsylvania is believed to have resulted from the hijackers either deliberately crashing the aircraft or losing control of it as they fought with the passengers.

No one onboard any of the hijacked aircraft survived.

There were 2,996 people killed, including 246 on the four planes and 125 at the Pentagon. The rest were in the towers or on the ground in New York. Among the fatalities were 343 New York City Fire Department firefighters, 23 New York City Police Department officers, and 37 Port Authority police officers.

1366 people were at or above the floors of impact in the North Tower (1 WTC): according to the Commission Report hundreds were killed instantly by the impact the rest were trapped and died later.

As many as 600 people were killed instantly or trapped at and above the floors of impact in the South Tower (2 WTC). Only about 18 managed to escape in time from above the impact zone and out of the South Tower before it collapsed. The captain of Flight 11, John Ogonowski, is said to have been killed by hijackers before the impact.

The fatalities included 8 children, 5 of ages 3, 8, 11, 11, and 11 on American 77, 3 of ages 2, 3, and 4 on United 175. Almost all the fatalities were civilians, except some of the 125 victims in the Pentagon.

In addition to the 110-floor Twin Towers of the World Trade Center itself, five other buildings at the World Trade Center site, including 7 World Trade Center and the Marriott Hotel, four New York City Subway stations, and St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church were destroyed or badly damaged. In total, in Manhattan, 25 buildings were damaged and all seven buildings of the World Trade Center Complex had to be razed. Later, an eighth building, the Deutsche Bank Building across Liberty Street from the World Trade Center complex had to be demolished as well, due to the uninhabitable, toxic conditions inside the office tower. Communications equipment such as broadcast radio, television and two-way radio antenna towers were damaged beyond repair. In Arlington County, a portion of the Pentagon was severely damaged by fire and one section of the building collapsed.

Some passengers and crew members were able to make phone calls from the hijacked flights. They reported that multiple hijackers were aboard each plane. A total of 19 were later identified by the FBI, four on United 93 and five each on the other three flights.

The hijackers reportedly took control of the aircraft by using box-cutter knives to kill flight attendants and at least one pilot or passenger. Some form of noxious chemical spray, such as tear gas or pepper spray, was reported to have been used on American 11 and United 175 to keep passengers out of the first-class cabin. Bomb threats were made on three of the aircraft, but not on American 77.

In the fourth aircraft, black box recordings revealed that—after discovering on their phones that planes had been deliberately crashed into buildings—crew and passengers attempted to seize control of the plane from the hijackers, who then rocked the plane in a failed attempt to subdue the passengers. According to 9-1-1 tapes, one of the passengers, Todd Beamer, had asked for the operator to pray with him before the passengers attempted to retake the aircraft. After praying, he simply said, "Let's roll." (The 9/11 Commission stated that Beamer later said "Roll it," most likely referring to a drink cart being used as a battering ram. This was, however, a separate incident, which took place after he had hung up on the operator. It is evidenced by cockpit recorders) Soon afterward, the aircraft crashed into a field near Shanksville in Stonycreek Township, Somerset County, Pennsylvania, at 10:03:11 a.m. local time. There is a dispute about the exact timing of the crash as the seismic record indicates that the impact occurred at 10:06 a.m. The 9/11 Panel reports that captured al-Qaeda leader Khalid Shaikh Mohammed said that Flight 93's target was the United States Capitol, which was given the code name "the Faculty of Law."

At the World Trade Center, faced with a desperate situation of smoke and burning heat from the jet fuel and ignited building contents, an estimated 200 people jumped to their deaths from the burning towers, landing on the streets and rooftops of adjacent buildings hundreds of feet below. In addition, some of the occupants of each tower above its point of impact made their way upward toward the roof in hope of helicopter rescue. No rescue plan existed for such an eventuality. Fleeing occupants instead encountered locked access doors upon reaching the roof. In any case, thick smoke and intense heat prevented rescue helicopters from landing.

Further information can be located at http://www.911digitalarchive.org/

Lebanon again?

Lebanon is having some internal political strife, and this time the evil Israelis aren't to blame. Wonder how long before it turns into a no-kidding shooting war? For all the laurels that were heaped on Hizbollah for their not-as-bad-as-expected defeat (which turns into a "victory" in the twisted mentality of the Arab world), they are still seen as the pawns of a foreign power which is illegally occupying Lebanese soil.

Also note the little bits at the bottom where Bashar Assad thinks he can get froggy over the Golan Heights. Interesting.

10 September 2006

English 101, and reflections on humanity.

Liberals have forgotten, or are pretending to have forgotten what certain words mean.

Orson Scott Card provides definitions so that the Leftists in the country can stop embarassing themselves by misusing certain every-day words that any grade school child can define, under ordinary circumstances.

Not much happening in my neck of the woods.

OK, that's a bad metaphor for Iraq.

Not much happening in my neck of the barren, desolate wasteland.

You've been in Iraq too many times when the 'incoming' warning (hooked up to a counter-fire radar) provokes the response, "So what, Hajji can't shoot" and people who immediately go for a smoke break in the open. It's been almost 5 months since Hajji hit the Camp anyway.

Leader's Recon for our replacements is in progress. *happy dance* As much as I love Iraq, with it's picturesque (desolate) scenery, unique (trashy and poorly constructed) architecture , and wonderful (bugnuts insane) inhabitants, it is getting to be time to return to the United States so that I can make leftist liberals uncomfortable by my very existence. Wearing a uniform in public does that.

Personally, I find that whether people support or oppose us, we aren't really real to most folks in the United States. We are. . . I don't know, some sort of genericized metaphor-made-flesh. If you're agin' us, we are all cardboard cutouts of American Imperialism, baby-killers, rapists, and into wierd games with pyramids of naked dudes (personally, not so much so, and if I were, it wouldn't be smelly Arabic detainees, thankyouverymuch). Or perhaps we are all ignorant dupes who were brainwashed by George Bush (he being the source of all evil in the world), or are too stupid to make a go at civilian life.

To those who support us, we all are supporting cast in a John Wayne movie.

I'm not quite that perky, most days.

Somehow, our individuality and humanity get lost in the process. Ironically, the Federal Government pays me (using your tax dollars!) to dehumanize myself and those around me to the point where I can find emotional fulfillment in killing Mr. Hajj. Then sticks me in a job where I don't even get the chance to do THAT very often.

Once I retire, I'm going to send some therapist's kid to college.

One other point:

cMad, your cute little snarky comments equating Christianity and Islam are, I am sure, quite amusing to you as you publish them. I'm sure they make you feel nice and superior to all us ignorant believers.

I don't want to deal with moderating comments. I will, however. This is your polite request not to mess on the carpet. If you wish to set up your own blog and publish little snippets sneering down your nose at anyone with any sort of faith, you are free to do so. Stop doing so in my venue.

09 September 2006

What is up in Waziristan?



DNA India


OK, I'm going to assume you read all four of these articles.

Let's look long and hard at Pakistan. Pakistan is run by a ruthless military dictator, and religious extremists have long had a great deal of influence. They have nuclear bombs, and they are suspected of passing nuclear technology to Iran and to Muslim terrorists.

Pakistan was the one of the few countries to have diplomatic relations with the Taliban in Afghanistan, which means (de facto) with al-Qaeda as well. Pakistan has thousands of madrassas wherein hatred, bigotry, and violence are taught to entire generations of Pakistani youngsters. Pakistanis are a large and active element in al-Qaeda and formed the backbone of several of their plots.

Musharrif got a phone call from George Bush a little less than 5 years ago, and it was obvious. All of a sudden, he was our bosom buddy, a 'critical ally in the War on Terror'. Pakistan's government let us use their airspace and ports and blahblahblah.

Now Pakistan is opting out of supporting the War on Terror in Afghanistan, providing the Taliban with a de facto 'safe zone'. Any one with any iota of historical understanding of the practice of guerilla warfare knows how vital a safe zone is for an insurgency.

I'm not a terribly big fan of the United States supporting crappy little dictators. I believed that supporting Pakistan's crappy little dictator got us an ally of convenience in the War on Terror. Since that has changed, I believe a new approach to Pakistan is necessary.

To wit, someone needs to call up General Musharrif and explain that unless he wants to be the question for the Jeopardy answer, "Until last week, the prime minister of Pakistan", he needs to get back on the ball. Not a penny of foreign aid for his Taliban-supporting military, and all the support his democratic domestic opposition has the stones to ask for.

Doubt he's got democratic opposition?

If they have a women's rights movement, I'm sure someone in that outfit is also pro-democracy.

06 September 2006

Thirty Seconds (with profanity, mild)

1) Whether it is was one of my parents, or my brother who tossed in my latest care package a copy of the latest edition of Robert Asprin's Myth series, it rocks. This is the large volume with multiple (3? 4?) novels, plus illustrations by Phil Foglio. Outstanding.

2)I have a new favorite Computer Game: Rome: Total War. I've gone and conquered Gaul and Spain in the last two days, and am having it out with Carthage. I find it amusing that many if not most GIs spend our off-time with violence-based games. Being a historical nut, I'm chosing a violence-based game which involves throwing javelins at elephants. So I'm wierd, deal with it.

3) QOTD: "I wish I had my truck in Germany, 'cuz them Nazi bitches dig big trucks" -- The Company Redneck.

4)QOTD: "Ehhh, I needed new porn." Response to 'what brings you back here, sir' from an officer assigned to a Higher Headquarters as a liason officer.

5)QOTD: "You can't buy a war elephant, but I will let you buy a war hampster." My wife, responding to my latest enthusiasm.

05 September 2006

Point of Clarification

When I say that someone needs to nuke Iran, preferably Israel, I'm not going insane over here.

I'm manifesting the common character trait of Soldiers who are aware they may find themselves in another war.

In a war, the casualties inflicted are in direct proportion to the amount of time people are shooting at each other. This is not speculation, but fact. If a war is shorter, fewer people die.

I prefer to win wars rather than lose them. History shows that it sucks rocks to lose wars. Winning isn't necessarily a walk in a park, but I think we can take as a given that it beats losing. Ask the Germans.

So from these two characteristics, we can conclude that ideally, you open a war with an incredible, overwhelming horrific demonstration of violent intent and capability that will make the enemy go, "Hot damn, let's negotiate NOW!"

For instance: If we hadn't nuked Japan, they would have had to be invaded. 1 Million US troops estimated to be killed, and the Japanese casualties would be literally incalculable, likely to the point that Japanese culture would be exterminated utterly.

In today's political climate, that's pretty much only possible by nuking the holy living hell out of someone.

Fighting the Iranians would be pretty simple. The Revolutionary Guards and Iranian Army would fall apart in 30 days or less. The Iranian Navy gets sunk in the first 24 hours, and that's only because the USN can only reload their missle launchers so fast.

Holding Iran would be a stone-cold nightmare. Imagine Iraq, times three in both population and land area. Simply impossible. The only way to have a Happy Ending would be to:

A) Nuke it into submission, so that we really no longer care what happens in the Land of Stone Age Primitives


B) Do an Afghanistan-style backing of a faction with significant military power and provide forward air controllers to allow them to blitzkreig to Tehran and install a new government.

Will the Real Iranian Resistance please stand up? Please stand up?

For extra points, you really need a significant part of the Iranian Army to back this faction (or at least sit out the civil war), or it will be nothing more than a protracted, messy civil war which will at least prevent the Iranian government from having the spare effort to dink with Iraq or Lebanon, but which will not look terribly good on the Evening News (this being the driving factor in American foreign policy).

03 September 2006

So far, so good.

Today has been decent, so far. Went to the Catholic service, but unfortunately this is that Chaplain's last day in theater. It's going to be hard finding anyone else to argue papal monarchy and filioque over dinner with.

Between Jen's blog and some suggestions in my email box, I've got the bones of a post.

To wit, Israel should nuke Iran.

Further, as a corollary, if the United States does not exercise effective hegemony, Americans should get used to things like that happening.

As I've been saying for years, and this Article with dorky title repeats, the reason there is an Arab Question is that the Israelis are fundamentally decent folks. They don't want to eradicate another culture out of anger or frustration. They are, by their nature, incapable of working seriously to make the Arabs or Iranians or anyone else go away as long as they are capable of defending themselves by other means.

An alleged quote from an unidentified IDF officer is,

"Ahmadinejad, conducts foreign policy like Iranians drive cars" the general continued. "The only way you can get him or them to back down is for them to be convinced the other driver confronting them won't back down.
"That's why our intention to turn Bushehr and Iran's other nuclear facilities into radioactive glass has to be absolutely credible. We have to be willing to do this for real, with no doubts or hesitation."

Israel is now in a position where the stakes are the survival of Israel and its entire population.

One Jewish blogger isn't willing to go that far this week, but his Sampson Option is for Israel to be ready to do so at the drop of a Katyushka. He's pissed about the IDF's performance. He does raise the very valid point that the great days of the IDF predated significant American aid. In the wars before 1970, the IDF kicked Arab ass with second-hand French and British tanks, and US material from WWII which was bought third-hand and refurbished by the Israelis, frequently with French components. The backbone of the IAF was the Mirage series of French fighters, etc. etc. So he wants to scrap US aid and most of the IDF, and rely primarily on a explicit threat of nuclear retaliation. Personally, I don't think the Muslims would get that threat unless it was demonstrated in a way that no one could mistake. But that's coming back to the idea of nuking Iran now.

Here's another excellent point tying this to what I said about America having to get used to this sort of thing. The Liberal Left accuses the United States of acting as a hegemon like that's a perjorative term. A World Without Power explores the consequences of the United States NOT acting like a hegemon. A lot of smaller states in precarious situations would have to fend for themselves, and Israel resorting to nukes would be only one of many consequences.

02 September 2006

LInks, with commentary.

The Swedes have abolished themselves.

I really don't know what to say about that. It makes my brain hurt.

If it bleeds, it leads.

Except, of course, when the folks doing the bleeding are black Christians and the folks causing the bleeding are Arab Muslims. Then we pretend it isn't happening. Because if we were to admit that Muslims were engaging in genocide and slave raiding, then we might have to admit that maybe all is not peachy-keen in the Dar al-Islam.

And of course, we can't rely on the Muslims to clean their own house, because everything that happens in Darfur is sanctioned by the Quran.

Another Story you won't see on the evening news.

After all, this isn't NEARLY as important as some more speculation about who 'really' killed Jonbenet Ramsey.

And finally, if you are a believer in the Democratic Party, and think national elections should be able to go either way, get down on your bony liberal knees and hope something like this really happens, because otherwise the Democrats will be lucky to get the White House in your children's lifetime. And if they do, it will be the end of the United States as a Great Power, possibly as a free country.

Act II: The Interfaith Utopia in al-Anadalus

"The dhimmi, as these covenanted peoples were called, were granted religious freedom, not forced to convert to Islam. They could continue to be Jews and Christians, and, as it turned out, they could share in much of Muslim social and economic life. In return for this freedom of religious conscience the Peoples of the Book (pagans had no such privilege) were required to pay a special tax — no Muslims paid taxes — and to observe a number of restrictive regulations: Christians and Jews were prohibited from attempting to proselytize Muslims, from building new places of worship, from displaying crosses or ringing bells. In sum, they were forbidden most public displays of their religious rituals. "
--Maria Rosa Menocal, in her extended whitewash of Muslim Spain called The Ornament of the World

"...the Arabs have persecuted us severely, and passed baneful and discriminatory legislation against us...Never did a nation molest, degrade, debase, and hate us as much as they..."

"Bring them [the Jews] down to their place and Return them to the most abject station. Thjey used to roam around us in tatters Covered with contempt, humiliation, and scorn. They used to rummage amongst the dungheaps for a bit of a filthy rag To serve as a shroud for a man to be buried in...Do not consider that killing them is treachery. Nay, it would be treachery to leave them scoffing."
--Muslim Jurist, inciting the massacre in 1066 of the Jews in Grenada

"No...Jew or Christian may be allowed to wear the dress of an aristorcrat, nor of a jurist, nor of a wealthy individual; on the contrary they must be detested and avoided. It is forbidden to accost them with the greeting, 'Peace be upon you'.. In effect, 'Satan has gained possession of them, and caused them to forget God's warning. They are the confederates of Satan's path; Satan's confederates will surely be the losers! (Quran 58:19). A distinct sign must be imposed upon them in order that they may be recongnized aand this will be for them a form of disgrace."
--Ibn Abdun of Seville

“Aside from such cultic restrictions most of the laws were simply designed to underscore the position of the dimmîs as second-class citizens."
--Kenneth Baxter Wolf


01 September 2006

Things that make me giggle.

My Wife does math.

For the purposes of demonstrating precisely how ridiculous a piece of historical hyperbole is, Jen figures out how many people you have to kill to soak Jerusalem in blood.

Couple points her commenters forgot.

1)If you assume that the Crusaders killed EVERYONE in town, the majority of the people would have been killed in their homes. Most civilians would be hiding out behind locked doors, praying that the sack would not last too long. So you can't assume that everyone was in the streets and arbitrarily reduce the square footage covered in blood.

2)Not only does blood clot, but it dries. If left in thin layers (such as blood spattering usually creates) then it will not form into a pool, but a stain.

3)Few people bleed out completely unless hung in such a way that their injuries are at the bottom.

4) De Gesta Francorum et aliorum Hierosolimitanorum, from which the quote was taken, was written a few years after the fact as a piece of war propaganda sponsored by Bohemund I of Antioch. It's anonymous author was criticized by people writing at the same time. Guibert of Nogent wrote his Dei gesta per Francos (1108) based on it, saying the original "frequently left the reader stunned with its insipid vacuity." The bit about riding through streets up to the knees in blood is a bit of lurid imagery intended to motivate follow-on Crusaders, not a literal description. There is not a serious historian who believes anything of the sort happened.

On a totally different note:

The TSA's Permitted and Prohibited Items List. The astute reader will note that 4 oz. of Personal Lubricant is permitted. So it's OK, folks. If you want to join the Mile High Club, the TSA will not stand in your way.