22 February 2008

What a Week

Well, I turn 30 today.

I slipped in a three-day pass for the occasion and was planning to go down to Benavides and get beaten with sticks. However, instead I will be driving to Louisiana tomorrow for a funeral. Jen's Grandmother fell asleep.

But that's not all for this week.

Kosovo declared independence, and GWB apparently recognized them. That's infuriating. There's an excellent article on GetReligion.org on the subject. I've been to Kosovo, and I've seen some of this sort of thing. I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that if NATO withdraws and Kosovo is not reintegrated into Serbia--complete with Serbian police and army protection for the Serbs living there, that there will be a humanitarian disaster, genocide, refugees, and the final destruction of hundreds more churches, monasteries, and holy sites. I cannot help but be moved by the appeal of the Serbian hierarchy to common sense and common decency, but I am afraid that the West, manipulated by a media with transnational and postnational ideologies and sold on the stereotypical depiction of Serbs as slavering madmen and Albanians as innocent victims, will not act in the right way. The genocide will go unnoticed and unremarked, for it is never in the interest of the media to stir up sympathy for Christians.

Musharraf, in Pakistan, lost an election. Or that is to say, his party got hammered. Of course everyone is celebrating since the Meme of the Week is that Musharraf is a brutal military dictator who doesn't respect "human rights". Of course, the fact that one of the main sources of discontent with his government is that he has been an American ally and supporter of the fight against al-Qaeda, is sometimes somewhat overlooked. I choose to reserve judgment until I know what the result is really going to look like. I mean, I'm in favor of civilian rule and democracy, but not at the cost of imposition of Sharia law and Pakistan turning into a haven for drug smugglers and terrorists. Not that it's the model ally, but it could get a hell of a lot worse.

In US News, Barak Obama is acting like a politician. To wit, he's whoring himself out and making contradictory promises to different people in order to garner endorsements. This is not a surprise to most people, since he is (wait for it). . .

A career politician!

Some of his supporters seem to think he's the Messiah or something. Nope, he's just another politician. If you really want to vote for "change," move to Canada or something. You've got three politicians running for Prez. Unsurprising, since the US political system pretty much requires you to be a career politician before becoming Prez. It sucks, but it beats systems that require you to be a general or head of the secret police before becoming Prez.

In other news, Obama is pretty much making shit up as he goes along during debates. A captain in charge of a rifle platoon? Platoons deploying piecemeal to different theaters? What the fuck is he smoking? That rings false, and it is false. Gateway Pundit speaks to the weirdness as well. You catch that drivel about using Taliban weapons? Seems Mr. Obama can't tell the difference between American troops and British troops. Kat of Castle Aaarrgh deconstructs that particular piece of fiction pretty well. Barak Obama is a liar. He's a liar either deliberately, or because he wants to sound informed without actually being informed. I hate with a passion people who lie to me and do so knowingly. Politicians spin constantly--they take facts and put an interpretation on them that is favorable to themselves or their causes. This is normal. This is human nature--sinful, fallen, reprehensible, and generally not ideal. But it is pretty much unavoidable. But to simply manufacture falsehood and slanders? Piffle.

I'm stuck with which ever idiot the American Peeple (bless their stinky feet and pointy heads) elect as CinC. But the more I hear Obama opening his mouth, the more I find myself hating him with a visceral passion.

Let's Talk Iraq and GWOT for a little while. I haven't done that much lately.

Mookie decided he wasn't going to declare war on the US and Iraqi government again. Isn't that nice of him? I'm thrilled. No, really. I'm thrilled this says one of two things. Either

a) Mookie has decided that going to war with the US and Iraq was a bad choice, career-wise that might end up with his corpse shown on the evening news, OR

b) Mookie has decided that he stands to win more by playing ball with Iraq and the US than he does by opposing us.

Either of these is good. Granted, he was going to flex and posture for a little while before making this official. Especially with the cute little rumor about the assassination attempt. But the prevailing opinion in Iraq seems to be that the Iraqis are tired of pointless conflict. This could be only temporary--there are other options open to him. But then again, Bill Roggio wonders how many folks would continue to follow him into a losing war.

PBS had a special on Haditha, the events and the subsequent witch hunt, egged on by that rarest of birds, an ex-Marine named John Murtha. Marines will understand why I can confidently refer to him as an ex-Marine. I don't watch TV, but according to all I've read, it was a balanced and reasonable presentation of the facts. If you wish to have an opinion on the subject, it behooves you to read this detailed analysis of the agreed-upon facts of the incident, and at least one lawyer's take on it.

Meanwhile, the Iraqi government is quietly working towards national reconciliation, which was a hot topic in the press when it wasn't happening, but is getting ignored now that it is.

Meanwhile in Afghanistan, yet another media guy gets caught up for dealing with the Taliban. Look, it's my surprised face.

In Syria, bin Laden's Good Buddy and Father of Modern Terrorism died. It's so tragic. The Israelis are walking around whistling and almost seriously declaring their innocence, and the US isn't exactly sending Dick Cheney for a ceremonial appearance at the funeral. Couldn't have happened to a nicer mass murderer.

I have not yet addressed the John McCain Non-Story, but that's a post of its own. Preview: The story isn't so much the allegations themselves, but the way the NYT decided to handle and time the assasination attempt--and make no mistake, that is precisely what this is.


Blogger Chris said...

I don't often disagree with you, but here I must. The foundation of a liberal democracy (and here I use the term liberal in its classical sense rather than the perversion of the term by modern Democrats) are two complimentary concepts: human rights and the rule of law.

We will concur that the foundation of those two concepts are Judaeo/Christian in origin, and most assuredly not Muslim/Hindu/Bhuddist/whatever.

But in reality, where those two concepts underlie a society, it really matters not what or how the minority and majority groups get along. As long as human rights and the rule of law underpin the society, then society works. It is telling that these two concepts are almost completely missing in the modern Islamic world. But we are seeing in Iraq (for example) that these two concepts do engender a passion in the human heart. It may be ugly, it may be inefficient and slow. But it works.

The easy solution is to keep Serbia strong and undivided from Kosovo. Put another tyrant in power, and maybe genocide will cease because of terror, death squads and the secret police. But that is the devil's bargain.

If BOTH Serbians and Kosovars accept the concepts of the rule of law and human rights, then the tensions and genocides of the past will pass from memory within a generation or two. Then Kosovars will have little to fear from Serbs, and Serbs will have little to fear from Kosovars. Christians (of any form/fashion) will then not be afraid that Muslims will oppress them because Muslims will not be able to oppress them. Ditto for the Christians attitude towards the Muslims.

I agree that it seems unlikely that BOTH countries/cultures will quickly embrace these concepts. But rewind the video tape of world history a moment and look back at feudal Japan circa 1945. An honest assessment of Japanese history would say that the chances of those same two concepts taking root in that beknighted country were ZERO. Yet Harry Truman stood on the correct side of history in 'imposing democracy' on feudal Japan. The same is true of Germany. No honest assessment of German history would give any indication that democracy would work there either.

Yet it does.

Or look at it this way: in 1900, the number of liberal democracies in this world could be counted with out running out of fingers/toes. After INCREDIBLE wars, Democracy is becoming predominant in a Darwinian fashion. It works in ways that no other form of government does. It is a TERRIBLE form of government. But all the others are worse.

Our current President, like Truman, is on the correct side of history in promoting or imposing democracy everywhere in the world. It is not an easy, quick or beautiful thing. Its as ugly as anything else sometimes. But I'm willing to bet that, if the Rule of Law and Human Rights both underpin both countries, then Serbia AND Kosovo will follow the course that Japan and Germany have both exhibited within human memory. Maybe it won't be next week/month/year that democracy will flourish there. Maybe it will take a decade or two or five. But history shows us that Democracy really is "the last best hope of mankind".

Now, let us return to a much more agreeable topic: Obama Obashing.

12:00 AM  
Blogger Sophia said...

Well, Happy 30th Birthday!

5:13 AM  
Blogger Tim Covington said...

On Kosovo:
Jerry Pournelle has an interesting point on his blog. Apparently there were no ethnic Albanians in Kosovo before WWII. He equated it with illegals declaring San Antonio another country.

3:31 PM  
Anonymous Bill McD said...

Re: Obama's statements:

It looks like ABC News has spoken to the same Cpt. as the Obama campaign, and gotten him to confirm the story here. And once again, the devil's in the details. Regarding your specific complaints:

a)He wasn't a Captain at the time in question
b)the platoon didn't deploy to multiple theatres, 15 men were transferred to a different unit
c)he again confirms that they did, on occassion, use AKs captured from the Taliban and mounted a DShK 12.7mm HMG on their humvee.

It doesn't appear that Obama got the details right, but ABC goes on to say that he got the story through his staff, and we all know how fast a game of telephone operator screws up the details.

8:37 PM  
Blogger Chris said...

It doesn't appear that Obama got the details right, but ABC goes on to say that he got the story through his staff, and we all know how fast a game of telephone operator screws up the details.

Then Obama is taking the Al Gore route of hiring morons for his staff. A presidential candidate cannot afford the luxury of hiring the incompetent. Either that or he himself got the details wrong. This does not speak well of his administrative skills at all.

A true presidential-quality candidate, upon hearing this kind of 'war story' (literally) should have had the WTF reaction and had the information confirmed and re-confirmed. Further, Obama is a Senator with full power to bring this matter before the Senate Armed Services Committee for investigation. A one-page memo would have sufficed. So Senator Barack Hussein Obama is not merely incompetent in hiring his own staffers, but also malfeasant in his duty to the citizens of this country. In fact he used this incident to score a minor political point instead of fulfilling his duty. This makes him a perfect Democrat and indicates to the wise of this country why such people should not be allowed into the Oval Office.

The ABC commentator wrote: "I might suggest those on the blogosphere upset about this story would be better suited directing their ire at those responsible for this problem, which is certainly not new. That is, if they actually care about the men and women bravely serving our country at home and abroad."

This demonstrates his own incompetence in basic journalism, and ability to revise history to fit with his personal political agenda.

The Soviet 12.7mm heavy weapon is a fine piece of hardware, and ammo is readily available. If one is available from battlefield scrounging (as opposed to flying one around the world) then a commander would be a fool not to mount it on his vehicle. In doing so, he saved us taxpayers thousands of dollars in the acquisition and transportation costs of an American -built weapon. Any decent motor-pool Spec II with a welding torch could bodge a mount for it. Americans have a long and glorious history of this kind of thing. The Hummer in question will eventually be turned over to the Afghan government and the Soviet weapon is a better choice for them.

The AK-47 is also a crude but efficient weapon and is VERY available on the battlefields of the world. All infantry training courses include familiarization with this weapon. Again, if the troops had NOT picked up these things and used them, it would be highly unusual. If for no other reason, such weapons should be picked up off of a battlefield and returned to the amorer for proper disposal and NOT left where it can be found and used against us another day by someone else.

Up-armored hummers were in short supply in 2005..the time period when this incident took place. Iraq was where the crying need for these were. These may have been on the TO&E for units deployed to Afghanistan, but they rightly should have been sent to Iraq instead. In 2005, the IED problem in Afghanistan was not nearly as profound as in Iraq.

And the fact that he had only 2 instead of 4 Hummers is also no surprise. By his own admission, his company strength was half what it should be, and it should be no surprise that his allocation of Hummers was equally half. He does not say that his men had to walk. He would have had to fill out additional paperwork and used the transportation assets of another unit to carry out his missions.

If a platoon deploys understrength to a battle field--if it is not up to its TO&E standards--it is the job of the CO (the LT in question) to bring the matter up through proper channels. If he did, and was ordered to deploy anyway, the man is guilty of a UCMJ violation for complaining about it to a political campaign. If he cannot give cheerful/willing compliance to his orders, he should have been subject to some form of military discipline which could have gone all the way to a court martial.

Lieutenants and Captains are routinely court-martialed for writing a single bad check to the dry-cleaners right outside the gate of any military base. This is a far more serious issue.

So here we have a trifecta of incompetence: a Junior Officer who violates orders, an incompetent campaign staffer, and the malfeasant guy at the top who is the only one we citizens can do anything about and keep him out of the job of CinC.

10:55 PM  
Anonymous Bill McD said...

This demonstrates his own incompetence in basic journalism, and ability to revise history to fit with his personal political agenda.

Or perhaps his ignorance, and over-reliance on his source. I can't imagine the officer involved is painting this as a good situation, and the reporter doubtless is trusting the 'expert' opinion being given to him.

For myself, I'd say that the platoon displayed good judgement, especially if there were supply-chain difficulties, in shifting over to weapons that use, shall we saying 'ambient' ammunition. Can't imagine there's not a fuckton of ammo for the AK in Afghanistan, especially after 30 or so years of fighting with predominantly, well, AKs.

As for Obama himself... again, it depends on how the information was presented to him/his campaign by the officer in question. Obviously, he's not just "making shit up as he goes along", he's repeating information he was given that originates with what his campaign undoubtably thought was a reliable source. As far as bringing the matter up before the Senate Armed Services Committee goes... maybe he has, and hasn't made a big public spectacle of it... presumably so he could unpack it during a debate at some point. Or, maybe he hasn't. I don't know.

Unfortunately, politics and malfeasance are pretty much synonymous, and the first reliable signal that someone is unfit to be Chief Executive, be it President, Prime Minister, Premier, or King, remains the oldest one: he wants the job.

8:48 AM  
Anonymous Laserlight said...

Congratulations on 30. Regardless of what anyone tells you, you don't really start getting old until 35 or so (which I passed about 10 years ago, so I know wherof I speak)...knees and shoulders may go a little early, though.

5:46 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I don't think McCain is perfect, and a honest to goodness scandal with him wouldn't really suprise me anymore than an honest to goodness scandal with any other politician (that is to say, not at all) but the funny thing about the NYT story is how it seems to have blown up in their face without doing any real harm to McCain, except perhaps with people that aren't going to vote for him anyway.

Obama scares me, but I'm also convinced he is a sure win in the general election. McCain tells people what he thinks they need to hear. Obama is telling people what they want to hear.

My only hope is that Hillary pulls something truely Machiviallian ands gets the nomination, but my impression is that even her own party is loosing patience with her.

7:54 PM  
Blogger Chris said...

Obama scares me, but I'm also convinced he is a sure win in the general election.

I'm not convinced that he is a 'sure win'. I'd like to think that the American people have more sense than to elect such a moron. But then again, they put WJC in office in '92 and '96 even with all his pecadillos widely known. Clinton showed that he could fool enough of the people enough of the time that he could be Prez for 8 years. The real fools are the ones that put him in office.

Nothing tells me that anything has changed in the electorate. Nevertheless I hope that America can see through Obama's razor-thin competencies and look to the world the way it is. McCain will be a better President by several orders of magnitude than any prominent Democrat.

8:31 PM  
Blogger Charles said...

One comment on the Ak-47 thing... I recall, back in '01 or early '02, one of the higher-end arms manufacturers building an small-lot M-4 design that fired 7.62x39, and accepted AK magazines. Why? Because (a) they were having problems with ammo resupply whilst doing cave clearance, and being able to pick up and use the enemy's ammo was highly useful, and (b) by keeping the M-4 form factor, the SF guys could keep their weapons/sights/etc. and be comfortable with the weapon without having to switch out to someone else's rifle.

One wonders if this whole story is based on something similar to that.

2:23 AM  
Anonymous streetsweeper95B said...

Well sir? I'm new here coming over from Denis Keohnaes blog. Happy 3O th Birthday! May you have many more.

2:49 AM  

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