03 August 2007

They Have Names, Barak Obama Loses His Mind, And Hillary

They Have Names is an interesting website. It is dedicated to putting names, faces, and biographies to the folks listed blandly in the AP reports which form the core of most reporting on the subject of Iraq.

For example, see the stories on SPC Graves, and SGT Holtom. SGT Holtom was one of the Soldiers killed on 08 FEB 07, just about the same time I left Ramadi.

Jen and I have both written about the depersonalization of Soldiers by both the Left and the Right in this country, and I think that this website is a good step towards addressing that issue.

For the next story, h/t to Dadmanly, who dissected the speech in more detail than I care to.
Meanwhile, Obama made a speech in which he announced that his security strategy would be:

"When I am President, we will wage the war that has to be won, with a comprehensive strategy with five elements: getting out of Iraq and on to the right battlefield in Afghanistan and Pakistan; developing the capabilities and partnerships we need to take out the terrorists and the world's most deadly weapons; engaging the world to dry up support for terror and extremism; restoring our values; and securing a more resilient homeland."

I might be confused, but I'm sure he just suggested invading Pakistan.

"I understand that President Musharraf has his own challenges. But let me make this clear. There are terrorists holed up in those mountains who murdered 3,000 Americans. They are plotting to strike again. It was a terrible mistake to fail to act when we had a chance to take out an al Qaeda leadership meeting in 2005. If we have actionable intelligence about high-value terrorist targets and President Musharraf won't act, we will."

Oh, yeah. That's a call to invade Pakistan.

Iraq:
Population - 27,499,638
Few Mountains.
Inhabited mostly by Arabs and (friendly) Kurds.

Pakistan:
Population - 124,741,924
Many Mountains.
Inhabited by Punjabis, Pakhtuns, Sindhis, Seraikis, etc.
HAS NUCLEAR BOMBS

OK, if you are running for President of the United States and you cannot keep in your head a list of the declared nuclear powers on this planet, you are too ignorant for the position you wish to fill.

If you are running for President of the United States and you make invading a declared nuclear power a cornerstone of your flippin' security strategy, you are too stupid for the position you wish to fill.

He wishes to give up fighting a counter-insurgency that we are winning in favor of invading a nation with four times the population, worse terrain, and considerably more martial inhabitants?

I understand he's on the campaign trail, and therefore he is going to talk out both sides of his mouth, but could he keep from making contradictory statements in the same paragraph?

Pakistan's value as an ally and commitment to the War on Terror (a phrase Obama studiously avoids using) is questionable. I have questioned it many times in the past, especially in relation to the Waziristan problem. My favored solution is to tie military aid and other aid to demonstrated progress towards fighting al-Qaeda. You know, using that whole "engaging the world" thing that Obama claims to favor?

So let me see if I understand his position correctly:
Obama would let al-Qaeda have Iraq.
Obama would "engage" with Syria, Iran, and other sponsors of state terror.
Obama would invade a declared nuclear power which is a wavering ally of the United States.
Obama would use meaningless phrases strung together to make Americans feel good while offering no actual concrete actions other than those listed above.

Yeah. I can so TOTALLY get behind that platform.

I love how the Left, including Obama, loves reminding us that "Most Muslims" are nice people who would never blow themselves up in a shopping center. This may be true--although you really have a hard time proving it based on the actual behavior of any Muslim government or group. EDIT: By the term "group" I mean specifically politically-oriented organizations, especially those intended to influence the West. In other words, every time I see a CAIR spokesman on the TV, I know that some Muslim has killed some non-Muslim, not that a Muslim has done something beneficial to society. /Edit

It is, as a short blurb on Gathering of Eagles reminds us, utterly irrelevant.

“Very few people were true Nazis,” he said, “but many enjoyed the return of German pride, and many more were too busy to care. I was one of those who just thought the Nazis were a bunch of fools. So, the majority just sat back and let it all happen. Then, before we knew it, they owned us, and we had lost control, and the end of the world had come. My family lost everything. I ended up in a concentration camp and the Allies destroyed my factories.”

"Communist Russia comprised Russians who just wanted to live in peace, yet the Russian Communists were responsible for the murder of about 20 million people. The peaceful majorities were irrelevant. China’s huge population, was peaceful as well, but Chinese Communists managed to kill a staggering 70 million people."

"The average Japanese individual prior to World War 2 was not a warmongering sadist. Yet, Japan murdered and slaughtered its way across South East Asia in an orgy of killing that included the systematic murder of 12 million Chinese civilians; most killed by sword, shovel and bayonet."

Meanwhile, Mike Yon's still writing about the war that the Media is ignoring. Yeah, for all the coverage that you might be seeing on network news, there are few journalists out there in real combat zones. Generally, you get some Arab stringer who goes out and shoots some "B-roll" which gets sent back to the journalists in a hotel in Baghdad, where they do a voice-over by reading the latest AP reports or paraphrasing a military press release, followed by some snarky commentary as if any reporter over there has the expertise to provide commentary. Of course most journalists are Democrats, and actually reporting positive news (regardless of the truth) is ideologically incorrect as long as Bush is in office.

Meanwhile, we got a better look at Hillary's mind than I wanted. Ewwww.

And finally, I leave you with a cartoon. . .

19 Comments:

Anonymous auxdarastrix said...

My perspective has always been: "I'm not the one that needs to be convinced that Muslims are peaceful people. My opinion doesn't count. It is the Muslims trying to kill me and mine that you need to convince."

8:50 PM  
Anonymous Bill McD said...

Well, I know that my friend Serdar's parents (he is a kind of Zen Athiest, himself) have never tried to blow me up. As a legally associated pair, if they did it would be all over the news as a 'conspiracy', so there's a 'group' right there. Neither have any of the muslims I've worked with. So, a representative sampling would indicate that most muslims haven't tried to blow me up.

By your logic, I could just as easily point out that every last one of those damn dirty terrorists is a homo sapiens. So maybe we'd better get to wiping them damn homo sapiens out! Then there'd be no terrorists!

Yes, it's obviously ridiculous to generalize it that much. But it's not much more ridiculous to generalize the enemy out to 'muslims'. The ordinary citizens of the nations your quote is citing had little to no influence over their governments, which had far more power over them than the terrorists have over 'most muslims'. Most homo sapiens aren't directly involving themselves in military opposition to violent extremists. Nor has the majority of ANY sub-group... except, of course, for military organizations, and you have to admit, the very nature of military organizations skews THAT result. So maybe it's time to stop lumping in with our enemies everyone who, in a normal, natural human response, just wants to live their lives and ignore the problem. You might take the viewpoint that anyone ignoring terrorists is helping the terrorist, but my stance is that since the terrorist's *goal* is to get attention for their agenda, they're probably happier about being attacked than ignored.

As far as Obama goes... I'm not sure that he's calling for an invasion so much as a willingness to perform strikes into the area. I'm not saying that's a terribly brilliant idea, either, but at the base of it, something needs to be done about the situation in Pakistan, I'm just not sure what. The 'tie monetary aid to cooperation' idea has potential, but it also has the potential of convincing the local populace that their government has sold out and is just a puppet dancing for American dollars, and so inspire them to change their government, too.

9:18 PM  
Anonymous YuriPup said...

Obama's position is the exact, I repeat exact, same one that the current administration holds. If there is actionable intelligence that leads to Pakistan, in we go.

Here's what Obama said: "If we have actionable intelligence about high-value terrorist targets and President Musharraf won't act, we will."

That is rather different than "invade" that MSM reported and the right has turned into a talking point.

"We certainly do not rule out options, and we retain the option especially of striking actionable targets," said White House spokesman Tony Snow. "But it is clearly of the utmost importance to go in there and deal with the problem in the tribal areas."

And "Ewwww" is neither useful or insightful. Have any specifics on the topic of what may or may not be Hilary's thesis?

10:25 PM  
Blogger Just A Decurion said...

"Well, I know that my friend Serdar's parents (he is a kind of Zen Athiest, himself) have never tried to blow me up. . . Neither have any of the muslims I've worked with. So, a representative sampling would indicate that most muslims haven't tried to blow me up."

Most of the ones I've met (a far larger sample, and likely a more representative sample of Islam throughout the world) haven't tried to blow me up.

Then again, most Germans were more or less innocent bystanders in WWII. I believe that's the point of my statement.

If you believe that the average Muslims has much, if any, influence over his government, you're working with an interesting definition of influence. From where I sit, other than Turkey, every single Islamic state is a despotism of one breed or another. Heck, what influence does Joe Palestinian have over Hamas and Fatah? Now let me ask, how much influence does Joe Muslim have over al-Qaeda? The only ones I know of are those which are armed and empowered by the United States to kick al-Qaeda ass, over the vociferous objections of the Left.

Yuri:
"getting out of Iraq and on to the right battlefield in Afghanistan and Pakistan"

That doesn't sound like the same thing Bush is doing. Getting out of Iraq and into Pakistan in the same breath doesn't really sound like limited strikes to me--but whatever. Let's assume he means what you say he means.

I realize that years of Clinton-style foreign policy (let's shoot cruise missiles at everyone, especially if the media has mentioned Ms. Lewinsky in the past 24 hours) have confused Americans. But "strikes" are what are called, in the parlance of International Law, Acts of War.

Striking targets inside Pakistan without the permission of the Pakistani government is an act of war. If the Pakistanis object, they are in a position to do something about it, and the only way to enforce our desires would be to trash their country. If the Pakistanis ignore it, Musharraf looks like an American sock puppet. Negative repercussions ensue.

12:00 AM  
Blogger Jason said...

Uh? bill mcd, your first paragraph seems to be responding to a strawman. When did anyone claim that all or even most Muslims are trying to kill people, all our current or potential enemies are Muslims, or recommend killing all Muslims?

12:05 AM  
Blogger Just A Decurion said...

Jason:
It's the usual Leftist strawman. They LOVE tearing up "racists" so they put words in everyone's mouth to make them sound like "racists."

It's much easier than arguing the points I make. I generally ignore it in favor of substantive points, if any are made.

12:14 AM  
Anonymous YuriPup said...

Try: I love how the Left, including Obama, loves reminding us that "Most Muslims" are nice people who would never blow themselves up in a shopping center. This may be true--although you really have a hard time proving it based on the actual behavior of any Muslim government or group.

Wow we are so reading your post differently. "Any Muslim government or group" parse very close to all of them.

Even loosely, if they go go a mosque to pray they are part of a group.

12:31 AM  
Blogger Just A Decurion said...

Edited.

12:36 AM  
Blogger Just A Decurion said...

As a side note, one throw-away side comment gets dissected to death.

The majority of the post gets ignored.

Typical.

12:48 AM  
Anonymous Bill McD said...

No, actually, it's not a strawman, it's a response to this:

I love how the Left, including Obama, loves reminding us that "Most Muslims" are nice people who would never blow themselves up in a shopping center. This may be true--although you really have a hard time proving it based on the actual behavior of any Muslim government or group.

Now, if Decurion was referring to 'political group' or 'large organization', then I might cut him more slack on that, but as Yuri points out, that label can be applied to a mosque congregation in Abilene, Texas, too. It can be applied to my friend's parents and his brother. Heck, his brother's shown a definite tendency to associate with ethnic groups historically linked to terrorism: his wife's an Irish Catholic.

I'm not tearing anyone up as a racist, I'm pointing out the flaws in the language that Decurion's chosen to use. Language is an extremely precise tool, and when we use it imprecisely, we give rise to misapprehensions and miscommunication.

Now you've said:

From where I sit, other than Turkey, every single Islamic state is a despotism of one breed or another.

while your initial claim would seem to indicate that either you're not counting Turkey (as I wouldn't, as it's a predominantly islamic populace, but a secular government) or you don't think their behavior can be used to prove the statement.

Again, it's imprecisions that give rise to misperceptions of what's actually being said.

I fail to see how I ignored any substantive points you made. I expressed an opinion that I believe you've misread Sen. Obama, even if I don't necessarily agree with him. I even went so far as to address your alternate proposal, which I think has merit, but risks as well. No surprise there, any course has risks.

And then you complain about being reminded that 'most muslims' are nice people, and dismiss the idea that we are fighting the extremists, not all muslims, as irrelevant, because apparently the terrorists control the populations. They don't. If they did, they would be governments (as has happened in Palestinian areas). They may be allied with governments, and if so, then it is in our interests to oppose those governments, but I don't see any value in whining about being reminded that the normal Joe Muslim is concerned about the same thing the normal Joe American is concerned about: The everyday shit that happens in his life. If you make Americans coming through and killing his friends everyday shit in his life, it'll affect him just as it would us. So it does not behoove us to make the man on the street our enemy, which is strongly implied with 'any Muslim government or group'.

The national Red Crescent societies, for example, would qualify as 'Muslim groups'.

So no, it's not just a talking point, and I am arguing a substantive point. You've lumped large groups of people in with a strong implication of 'they are teh enemy'. Which is really odd, considering how you've been talking about various former insurgent elements and tribes working with the Americans in Iraq.

Doesn't that count as 'the behavior of any Muslim government or group'?

As for 'the majority of the post gets ignored'... again, I addressed Sen. Obama's statements. I told you what I think of it. I've said before that I don't trust any of the current crop of politicos on either side, and we're in for 'the least of 2+ evils' for a while.

What more do you want? Yes, Obama's likely a bullshit artist saying whatever he thinks will get him elected? DUH. He's a politican.

1:04 AM  
Anonymous Bill McD said...

Two small things to add here...

First, that should have been 'Now you've (Decurion) said:' so as to not give the impression I was attributing those statements to Jason...

Second, you (Decurion) said:

The only ones I know of are those which are armed and empowered by the United States to kick al-Qaeda ass, over the vociferous objections of the Left.

I would just like to point out and remind you that while I am indeed on the Left side of the aisle, I have never objected to the US arming anyone to kick al-Qaeda ass, and have gone so far as to defend such actions, even here, as you should remember.

1:17 AM  
Blogger Just A Decurion said...

Turkey is not a despotism. It's a highly objectionable society in many other ways (politically active military, extreme persecution of minority religious and ethnic groups) but it does have multiple competing political parties which disagree on significant issues. Hence, not a despotism.

Egypt is not a religious despotism, but it is a one-party state. As is nearly every other secular Islamic state.

That's the intent of the reference to Turkey.

That statement was a response to:

"The ordinary citizens of the nations your quote is citing had little to no influence over their governments, which had far more power over them than the terrorists have over 'most muslims'."

The ordinary Muslim on the street has little to no influence over the behavior of the Saudi royal family, the Iranian mullahs, Syria's dictator, or other sponsors of terrorism. In Diyala, the terrorists used (unsurprisingly) terror to keep the population in check until the Americans rolled in and killed them, arming the locals as they went.

Ordinary Muslims are either apathetic or without influence. Many others, like CAIR and those mosques which donate to 'victims of zionist opression', adopt the position of supporting terrorism without becoming truly committed terrorists. Rather like the Germans who weren't Nazis, but felt glad that "German pride" was being restored.

Anyway, as near as I can tell, fighting against non-Muslims has historically been a fundamental part of Islamic identity. An alternate viewpoint, an Islam that is politically neutered, is a new concept and one which meets much resistance. In Iraq, it has taken a lot of effort on the part of the US to push past the religious identification of Iraqis and get them to view each other as Iraqis first and a particular sect later.

I am unconvinced that it is going to be stable in the long term, as an apolitical Islam flies in the face of the Koran and Islamic tradition. However, given that the other alternative is essentially to eradicate Islam and its adherents from the face of the Earth, fighting for it is worthwhile.

What I do object to is Obama's unbalanced presentation.

He says, "We are not at war with Islam." He speaks about fighting terrorists, but only those who are actual members of the al-Qaeda organization. I disagree with limiting it that way, because al-Qaeda is not an organization in the conventional sense. It is, as much as anything, an idea. It's a loose network of fellow travelers who share money and information. It has, since the destruction of its central infrastructure in Afghanistan, become even more decentralized. Further, there are many Muslim terrorist groups who are at war with America (just check their websites) without being part of al-Qaeda.

What are we at war with? Obama spends a lot of time talking about who we aren't at war with, yet does not define who we are at war with. For me, the answer is "Political Islam". That's the only term that fits everyone.

1:35 AM  
Anonymous Bill McD said...

Now see, I'll agree that that's a very good question. Who are we at war with? I'm not sure that 'political Islam' is really the way to go, though, as so long as Islam remains one of the political footballs (ie: its status as a political presence is one of the things being pushed by one side or the other), then depoliticizing it is, in a very real sense, a political islamic process.

So who are we are war with? So far as I know, it's not any state at this point... it's not even any one organization... as you've mentioned, aQ is less an organization and more a conceptual construct between organizations.

In a sense, I'd say we're at war with what amounts to a criminal industry. Cartels, if you will, whose only products are fear and death. As war shifts away from the aggression of State against State, it's shifting more and more toward heavy-firepower law-and-order operations.

It's that sort of situation where an effective U.N., with the support of its member nations and the authority to require cooperation, might serve best... pity we've spent the last five decades hamstringing our own creation whenever it's committee process didn't agree with ours.

3:05 AM  
Blogger Just A Decurion said...

Heavy firepower law and order? Not really. COIN is different from LEO to a huge degree. And what exists in the Philippines, Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Chechnya, and other places are insurgencies, not criminal enterprises.

As for a UN, as it is currently constituted, it cannot be effective. It will never be effective in the sense you seem to mean it without requiring member states to give up a certain degree of sovereignty. And while most nations on this planet are crappy little despotisms, giving up our sovereignty to them does not make sense. If you're worried about the Republican Party infringing on your civil liberties, take a look at how most people live in most nations in the General Assembly.

5:08 PM  
Blogger Just A Decurion said...

As to who we are at war with? Good luck getting a definition that does't boil down to, "We are, and have been since 1979, or 73, or 67, or earlier, at war with whatever elements of the Islamic world feel that they are at war with us. Which changes regularly."

May I suggest a good history of the early era of Islam, perhaps focusing on the interactions between the Roman Empire and the emirates in Syria and Mesopotamia, with an exploration of the term 'ghazi'?

5:13 PM  
Blogger dracphelan said...

Even though I will not be voting for any of the Democratic candidates for president (they all fail my personal political tests), I have to speak in some defense of Hillary Clinton. That paper was written 38 years ago. My political views have changed greatly in the 12 years since I graduated college. I'm sure hers have at least changed some.

5:23 PM  
Anonymous Bill McD said...

Well, see, that definition's still lacking though, Decurion.

If it truly is a 'war on terror' or 'war against terrorism', then we have to be willing to say that we're at war with any future Timothy McVeighs. Or Unabombers. That we're at war with anyone who'd blow up an abortion clinic in order to scare people away from them and push their agenda. That we're at war with anyone who uses violence specifically to sow fear in an attempt to control people's actions and reactions.

7:21 PM  
Blogger Just A Decurion said...

I've been dissatisfied with the term 'war on terror' but unable to come up with a usable alternative either.

We are not really at war with 'terror' any more than we were at war with 'naval aviation' on December 8th, 1941.

We don't get to pick who we are at war with, either. It only takes one side to make a war. The other side gets to either fight or surrender.

Islam--at least the militant, politicized form of Islam which has historically been the predominant form of Islam--is, has been, and eternally will be at war with the 'Dar al-Harb'. Whether it was the Roman Empire, the Austrians, the Carolingian Franks, the Spanish kingdoms, Russia, it didn't matter. Non-Muslim, bordering a Muslim state, you were at war perpetually unless strong enough to decisively crush the Muslim state. Even then, you still have sheep stealing on the borders indefinitely.

Today, that model is partially obsolete because most of the 'ghazis' (look up the term) are not able to be controlled by state actors. Those that are controlled by state actors operate through unofficial linkages or linkages difficult to prove and which render their control suspect and hazy. ObL's organization is patronized by members of the Saudi royal family in their private persons, while the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia alternates between ignoring them and cracking down on them, depending on how much pressure we put on them that week. Should the state actors stop supporting the terrorists, the terrorist organizations would continue to exist, although they would be more limited in operations.

The alternative idea of a non-politicized Islam supported by secular, democratic, modernizing states is the only alternative I see to simply making the Middle East go away and drilling for oil through the glass. Unfortunately, that requires toppling states which are founded on politicized Islam (Afghanistan under the Taliban, Saudi Arabia, Iran) or who use politicized Islam to their own ends (Syria, Iraq). Rebuilding a state from, essentially, nothing is not easy.

Where am I going? "War on Terror" is imprecise. However, there ain't a good alternative. It certainly is a war. For reasons of Political Correctness, we aren't saying "Islamic Terror." Everyone goes out of their way to say we aren't at war with Islam itself. I am not sure what alternative answers you can come up with.

9:04 PM  
Blogger Maserati said...

"We are not really at war with 'terror' any more than we were at war with 'naval aviation' on December 8th, 1941."

I'm stealing this line.

11:07 PM  

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