20 April 2008

So much for THAT concern. . .

So, this is NOT your father's BNCOC. This is what a friend of mine refers to as a "gentleman's course" because he isn't enough of an alcoholic to call it Beer-NCOC. We have weekends off, and a DSL cable.

So, you get blogging. I'm snarking the course itself over REDACTED.

I could snark Barak Obama, but other people are doing it better. You know what has people pissed about his comments that the Democratic Party is incapable of comprehending in this day and age? Not that he said times were hard or folks were bitter. It was dismissal of border security/illegal immigration, the 2nd Amendment to the United States Constitution, and belief in God as the concerns of stupid, bitter, ignorant people who don't know any better. This highlights quite well where Barak Hussein Obama stands on these ideas.

The Wall Street Journal is snarking his tax plans. Maybe when Barak Hussein Obama thinks "Capital Gains Tax" he thinks multi-millionaire major-league investors like his friends, campaign contributors, and folks who own mansions in San Francisco and hold $10,000 a plate fundraiser diners. I think my in-laws and my grandparents on my mother's side, both of whom have stock portfolios as a supplement to their pensions and other retirement plans. I assure Barak Hussein Obama they make less than a quarter-mil a year.

But moving beyond the trivial, let us address some stories that deserve more thought.

The AP published a piece on one of the last living fighters of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising. For those who are unaware, this magnificent action by the Żydowski Związek Wojskowy and the Żydowska Organizacja Bojowa began on the 18th of January 1943 in response to the beginning of a second wave of deportations to the extermination camp Treblinka. The ZOB took the lead, under the command of 23-year old Mordecai Anielewicz, but the ZZW was better armed and better prepared. Within a few days, the Ghetto was essentially under their control. However, "The Ghetto" was not a poetic term, but literally an area of Warsaw physically sealed off with a wall holding the Jews in and keeping the Poles out. The SS maintained control of the access points, notwithstanding a handful of attempts by the Polish Home Army to attempt to break into the Ghetto. The Jews prepared for the inevitable assault by the SS by building fighting positions, executing collaborators, and smuggling a handful of weapons in through weak points in the wall, including two tunnels dug in 1942 by the ZZW. On Passover, 19 APR 43, the
SS assaulted with a force of 5 battalions of Waffen-SS troops, 1 battalion of SS cavalry, about 360 Polish police used only to secure the perimeter, several battalions of SS Police, SS SD security troops, the Warsaw Gestapo, two Whermacht railway engineer battalions, an anti-aircraft battery, a battalion of Ukrainian concentration camp guards, and some Latvian auxiliary policemen.

The initial assault stalled as the Jews used improvised 'petrol bombs' to knock out several armored vehicles. The Germans responded by relieving the incompetent Ferdinand von Sammern-Frankenegg, courtmartialling him, and sending him to Croatia where he was later killed by partisans in an ambush. Jürgen Stroop, then Brigadeführer (Brigadier General), fresh from operations against partisans in the Ukraine, took command and organized a proper attack with artillery support and in keeping with military doctrine--Ferdinand treated it as a police operation.

The ZZW's defense centered around their headquarters in Muranowski Square, where two small boys had put up a pair of flags--the flag of the ZZW and the flag of the Republic of Poland. Fighting centered around this display of heroic, doomed pride. Stroop was infuriated, and recalls later Himmler screaming into a phone at him, "Stroop, you must at all costs bring down those two flags." He issued a scornful demand to surrender, which was ignored by the ZZW. His new offensive centered on burning down the buildings the ZZW was using for cover. On April 29th, having lost all of their leadership and most of their fighters, the remnants of the ZZW escaped the ghetto through the Muranowski tunnel. Their role has been minimized in many sources due to the death of all their senior leadership, and the fact that as a rightist organization affiliated with the Home Army, it was not in the Communist's interests to glorify them. They preferred to point to the Socialist ZOB, which had the advantage of having living defenders.

On the 8th of May, the Germans discovered the ZOB's fortified command post. Some of the ZOB's leaders committed suicide with cyanide, others were shot while fighting. Michael Edelman was one of the few senior leaders who fled the ghetto and linked up with the Home Army to continue to fight for Poland. The remaining Jews in the Ghetto were flushed out with dogs and gas, while the burning of the buildings culminated in the demolition of the Great Synagogue of Warsaw on 16 MAY 43.

Speaking of historic battles, this one is less well-known, but. . .

It's nearly half an hour of footage, but. . . Note the date. 1971.

Anyway, there's another good article on the mess that is the issue of anthropocentric climate change, or indeed any climate change at all. Speaking of a mess, can we officially declare Jimmy Carter senile? Or for a third unrelated mess, how about the Episcopalians?

Some good news is out there. Commander Ismail, the non de guerra of one Mullah Ahmad Shah of the Bara bin Malek Front, has moved onto to the afterlife. The Pakistani apparently don't like folks running their roadblocks any more than we do. Some stinky arhabi met with a Bad Time in Iraq, and the DoD is releasing, with helpful labels and translations, the letters they found on his corpse. I link to Blackfive, who links to DefenseLink.

Villainous Company, the blog of a Marine Corps officer's wife, posted a flaming rant. Now, this is hardly new, a rant on the internet, but this rant bears reading. The subject is contempt. Five years ago, I said that those who attack the mission cannot help but attack the men carrying out the mission. Five years ago, I was sneered at by the American Left who called me brainlessly brainwashed by the Bush Regime. Five years ago, I predicted this. The contempt for the President, for the war, and for this country inevitably spills over into contempt for those of us who live and die by a single paragraph including the line, "obey the lawful orders of the President of the United States". Again, I anticipate that I will be sneered at and lectured on how this behavior is not indicative of way people really think. But I am hardly the only one who sees this. . .

Anyway, I leave you with these thoughts. It is enough for one night. Perhaps more later.

18 April 2008

Marine Corps Public Affairs??


Community Relations.

Yur doing it wrong.

16 April 2008


In roughly 90 minutes I'll be closing up shop for two days (approx) as I'm going to BNCOC at Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri. I have been told there is internet access in the billets, but I don't have my hands on a class schedule and will not at this time make any guess as to whether or not I will have time to blog.

But some food for thought,

Blackfive has released the story on yet another story of how we are committing war crimes galore. Horrible, horrible. There should be a 24/7 media circus until the perpetrators are brought to justice.


Mike Yon writes on the surge, and Blackfive writes on Mike Yon's opinion. The Blemont Club's article is on the Blackfive article, and thus the Blogosphere Turns.

Badger 6 takes aim at the media and the unqualified idiots they permit to dribble on their editorial page.

Finally, at least on Iraq, the AP reports Iraq is negotiating a Status of Forces Agreement and other arrangments to normalize our relationship with the Iraqi Government as a sovereign state, rather than as an army of occupation of a defeated enemy. This is putting the diplomatic window-dressing on the reality of the situation, which is that Iraq is our greatest ally in the fight against AQI, JAM, and the other groups which seek to overthrow the Iraqi Government. So it's time we started treating them formally as allies.

In politics, Obama stepped on his training aid. This is a Howard Dean "Aaargh" moment. He showed his true colors here--Harvard-educated elitist bastard who thinks all white middle-class folks who have religious faith or carry firearms are some sort of. . .

Well, let me use his words.

"And it's not surprising then they get bitter, they cling to guns or religion or antipathy to people who aren't like them or anti-immigrant sentiment or anti-trade sentiment as a way to explain their frustrations."

Yeah. Nice one, Barak Hussein Obama. Way to make voters like you. You remember those, right? Voters? The folks who pull levers in booths to pick you to be President or not? But like many politicos nowdays, Barak Hussein Obama has forgotten that we exist, preferring to pander to his big-money donors and party bigwigs (wait a minute, wasn't he the post-political-party change-hope-future-believe candidate?) and he believes what they believe, not what normal middle class voters believe.

The Wall Street Journal says this is normative among Ivy League liberals who believe that by virtue of their wealth, alleged education, and "enlightened" liberal views, they are superior to those huddled masses who cling to 'God and guns" as an opiate provided by Karl Rove.

Just One Minute has a healthy collection of links to the fallout from this story and the scrambling in the Barak Hussein Obama camp to attempt to redefine it.

Was Barak Hussein Obama quoted out of context? I don't know, let's ask him to elaborate on the theme.

Doesn't look out of context to me. Looks like he's hitting that theme over and over. h/t hot air. This is NOT going to be a winner, if you ask me. "America sucks, and I'm bitter and I know you're bitter! Bitterness all around!"

Rachel Lucas has more commentary.

10 April 2008

General Petreus, PO2 Michael Monsoor, SSG Bellavia, and LT G. And the Punic Wars

Mostly in their own words.

General Petreus, as the entire world knows (I'm rarely the last to know, but often the last to blog about it), testified in front of Congress. In the ideal world, every American citizen would read transcripts of the testimony. Because in the ideal world, while the war would be fought be professionals like the gentlemen listed in the heading on this article (and your humble correspondent), the entire country would consider itself at war and would consider the war relatively important, and hence something that an informed voter should educate himself or herself on.

Of course, I didn't read the whole transcript linked about. Most of the opening remarks appears to asinine grandstanding by fatuous assholes elected to office not for their foreign policy expertise, knowledge of world affairs, or competence to remark upon the military situation in Iraq, but for their ability to bring home the pork and placate those of their constituents who are in the demographics that the pollsters and pundits indicate can be swayed to the politico's side.

Excerpts from the General's remarks:

"Less recognized is that Iraq has also conducted a surge, adding well over 100,000 additional soldiers and police to the ranks of its security forces in 2007 and slowly increasing its capability to deploy and employ these forces.

"A second factor has been the employment of coalition and Iraqi forces in the conduct of counterinsurgency operations across the country, deployed together to safeguard the Iraqi people, to pursue Al Qaida-Iraq, and to combat criminal elements and militia extremists, to foster local reconciliation, and to enable political and economic progress.

"Another important factor has been the attitudinal shift among certain elements of the Iraqi population. "

"Though a Sadr stand-down resolved the situation to a degree, the flare-up also highlighted the destructive role Iran has played in funding, training, arming and directing the so-called special groups, and generated renewed concern about Iran in the minds of many Iraqi leaders."

"It clearly is in our national interests to help Iraq prevent the resurgence of Al Qaida in the heart of the Arab world, to help Iraq resist Iranian encroachment on its sovereignty, to avoid renewed ethno-sectarian violence that could spill over Iraq's borders and make the existing refugee crisis even worse, and to enable Iraq to expand its role in the regional and global economies."

That's the good, the bad is in there too. Ambassador Crocker talks the politics and economics of reconstructing Iraq and helping them establish good government, and there's a lot of obstacles yet to overcome. Still, as I keep pointing out, the speed record for counterinsurgency is a decade, and we aren't there yet.

I'll give Ambassador Crocker the last words I'll quote directly, and then you can check out some other links for more opinions.

"I remain convinced that a major departure from our current engagement would bring failure, and we have to be clear with ourselves about what failure would mean.

"Al Qaida is in retreat in Iraq, but it is not yet defeated. Al Qaida's leaders are looking for every opportunity they can to hang on. Osama bin Laden has called Iraq the perfect base and it reminds us that a fundamental aim of Al Qaida is to establish itself in the Arab world. It almost succeeded in Iraq. We cannot allow it a second chance.

"And it is not only Al Qaida that would benefit. Iran has said publicly it will fill any vacuum in Iraq and extremist Shia militias would reassert themselves. We saw them try in Basra and Baghdad two weeks ago.

"And in all of this, the Iraqi people would suffer on a scale far beyond what we have already seen. Spiraling conflict could draw in neighbors with devastating consequences for the region and the world.

"Mr. Chairman, as monumental as the events of the last five years have been in Iraq, Iraqis, Americans and the world ultimately will judge us far more on the basis of what will happen than what has happened. In the end, how we leave and what we leave behind will be more important than how we came.

"Our current course is hard, but it is working. Progress is real, although still fragile. We need to stay with it."

PO2 Michael Monsoor
h/t Blackfive

The President of the United States, in the name of the Congress, takes pride in presenting the Medal of Honor, posthumously, to Master At Arms Second Class, Sea, Air and Land, Michael A. Monsoor, United States Navy. For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty while serving as Automatic Weapons Gunner for Naval Special Warfare Task Group Arabian Peninsula, in support of Operation IRAQI FREEDOM on 29 September 2006.

As a member of a combined SEAL and Iraqi Army sniper overwatch element, tasked with providing early warning and stand-off protection from a rooftop in an insurgent-held sector of Ar Ramadi, Iraq, Petty Officer Monsoor distinguished himself by his exceptional bravery in the face of grave danger. In the early morning, insurgents prepared to execute a coordinated attack by reconnoitering the area around the element's position. Element snipers thwarted the enemy's initial attempt by eliminating two insurgents. The enemy continued to assault the element, engaging them with a rocket-propelled grenade and small arms fire. As enemy activity increased, Petty Officer Monsoor took position with his machine gun between two teammates on an outcropping of the roof. While the SEALs vigilantly watched for enemy activity, an insurgent threw a hand grenade from an unseen location, which bounced off Petty Officer Monsoor's chest and landed in front of him. Although only he could have escaped the blast, Petty Officer Monsoor chose instead to protect his teammates. Instantly and without regard for his own safety, he threw himself onto the grenade to absorb the force of the explosion with his body, saving the lives of his two teammates. By his undaunted courage, fighting spirit, and unwavering devotion to duty in the face of certain death, Petty Officer Monsoor gallantly gave his life for his country, thereby reflecting great credit upon himself and upholding the highest traditions of the United States Naval Service.

Now, let me think. 2006, September. . . Yeah, I had a couple friends out at Corregidor, and I heard about PO2 Monsoor's death, although I don't think that I heard the detail of him hurling himself on a grenade. Either way, this recognition is deserved.

Former SSG Bellavia, you might recall from the video I embedded in Tuesday's post. He makes the specific point that society treats athletes better than combat veterans and heros, and holds them up as role models rather than those who you know, actually contribute something to society. I didn't realize it at the time, but under the Keith Olbermann's definition, this makes him a racist. Bellavia is running for Congress, and at an event he introduces John McCain as a better role model than Tiger Woods. Olbermann is shocked. It's part of the ongoing liberal meme about how all Republicans are racist, when in fact the Democratic Party is far more race-obsessed than any gathering of actual conservatives is. That's why the results for Hillary and Obama are split along racial lines. News Flash for Olbermann: unlike you, your guests, and your fellow-thinkers on the Left, when Mr. Bellavia looks at John McCain and Tiger Woods, he doesn't see a white man and an "African-American multi-racial person" he sees a former naval officer, combat veteran, former POW, and US senator on one side, and a professional golfer on the other. That is the difference, not merely their skin color.

LT G's blog goes on the blogroll, and if you can't figure out why in his first five entries, you are doing it wrong..

Finally, the Punic Wars in three minutes.

More Grab-bag posting

OK, I finally watched Fitna. (List of other servers here) It's a little disturbing for graphic images of violence and mutilated bodies. It is, essentially, quotes from the Quran interspersed first with images of Islam in action, then with words from revered Muslim leaders, then with facts about the increasing penetration of the Netherlands by Muslims and the way their government caters to the Muslim minority. It is only 16 minutes long.

There is nothing new here. Beheadings, honor killings, murder of critics, extreme hate speech that would make a Klansman blush, this is the reality of Islam and has been for centuries. I've written about it extensively enough that everyone who reads me knows how I feel. A devout Muslim is a threat to the human race. Fortunately, devout Muslims are not the majority of people who identify as Muslims, any more than a majority of people who identify as notionally Christian actually do anything differently from their neighbor who identifies as an atheist.

Iran's foreign ministry labeled the film "heinous, blasphemous, and anti-Islamic." The Indonesian government declared it "an insult to Islam." In Jordan, 53 members of parliament demanded the expulsion of the Dutch ambassador. The Organization of the Islamic Conference denounced "Fitna" as "a deliberate act of discrimination against Muslims" meant to "provoke unrest and intolerance." Other reactions here.

Compared to Islamist television, it is nothing. It is a series of photographs and films of events that happened, interspersed with quotes from the Quran. It is interesting how quoting the Quran drives Muslims into a frenzy. I am reminded of a discussion I had with a Muslim on Livejournal who attempted to tell me I was "misreading" or that the passages were badly translated. I asked for a translation into English that rendered the particular passages in a way other than the way I was reading them. I do not recall reading another comment from that particular person on my journal. I have had numerous people tell me that I need "learn to understand". After I quote the Quran, the discussion invariably ends, because non-Muslims who defend Islam do so only out of ignorance.

So this film is nothing new to me, nor to my readers. More interesting is this brief history of the West Bank.

Greyhawk found a fun article in the LA Times about how rough it is to be a former Soldier. Whatever. I like my job, and I haven't seen an abnormally high number of prior service folks coming back in, so there must be some jobs out there to keep body and soul together. There are always folks who discover that the civilian world isn't all it cracked up to be and come back in because, well the pay ain't bad, the benefits are stellar (seriously, how many jobs offer full medical, dental, 2.5 days of leave a month, an average of 2 holidays a month on top of that, tax-free housing allowance and food allowance, snazzy dress uniforms, etc, etc, etc), and all the
other reasons to Soldier. But I haven't seen more of them than I did in, say, 2001.

Speaking of Soldiering, here's an interesting essay. I could be intellectual and say it is about the disconnect between the folks fighting the war and folks for whom it is fought, but that wouldn't be true. It's just the most true thing I've seen about what it is like to be over there.

Charleton Heston died, and linking to this speech is one of the best ways I can think of to remember him not merely as a movie actor who played great men, but a great citizen in his own right.

Climate Change: A historical retrospective. Because, you know, humans are the greatest impact on climate, evah!

Because I have to mention the Presidential campaign, let's talk Barak Obama's token veteran, who (as it turns out) just can't keep his story straight about his own opinion. Meanwhile, folks desperate to find dirt on John McCain (because, you know, ALL conservatives are secret perverts, while ALL liberals are open perverts) are going back to 1957. O RLY? Also on the subject of the elections, let's hope past performance doesn't indicate future performance. Even if it is, an upsurge in violence will just bring the bad guys out where we can kill them, and not really help the Dems that much, as no one trusts them on National Security issues anyway. At any rate, we are taking the best step we could be to get the Iraqis ready to deal with it own there own. No one is more professional. . . But enough politics, on to fun stuff.

Kori, this story's for you. You want tough guy? This guy redefines it.

On a more cheerful note re: clashing ideologies, remember back in 1974? We had just backed out of a nasty counterinsurgency that, the next year, would see our only client state in SE Asia fall to PAVN tanks. Over the next six years, numerous other countries would go Communist or pro-Communist, and people were writing the epitaphs of the West, Democracy, and Capitalism. A Southern Rock band released a song which is still considered a classic anthem today, having been featured in at least nine movies (including one named after the song), and been covered by practically everyone from kids in their garage to the rap group Boyz After Money Always. If, in 1974, someone had suggested that it would be covered by a Finnish band with the Red Army Chorus singing backup after the Soviet Union imploded due to the contradictions in their own ideology, they would have been bundled off to see the nearest shrink and probably lost their security clearance. But if you click on ONE link today, click on this one.

07 April 2008

Bloggable Folder

When I write a blogger post, I tend to sit down and take my time with it, frequently an hour or more. I'm reading articles, deciding how they fit into what I'm going to write, etc. Unfortunately, I frequently lack either the time or the motivation to do this every day, or even every weekend. But here I am, at the house, with my lovely wife in Maryland covering some damn conference where some unit is getting some award.

So. . . Here goes nothing.

Al-Sadr surrendered to the Iraqi Government before I got a chance to blog about the little shooting match in Southern Iraq. Oh, excuse me. He didn't surrender. That would make him loose face and upset his Iranian handlers. He simply ordered his militia to get the hell off the streets of Basra before the Iraqi Army shot them all. His attempt use this as a media opportunity by increasing activity in Baghdad didn't fly too well either, at least according to this obviously-written-by-an-infantryman account. I am occasionally amused by folks in baby blue who must take off their boots to count past 10 (I can count to 144, but it takes a little thought), but it has the virtue of being first person and unfiltered by mass media censor/editors, or reporters who never leave the hotel, or stringers who turn out to be FRE. Now, he's being told he has to choose between keeping his fighters and participating in the elections. Raise your hand if you read this story in your morning paper in the past week. Yeah, me either.

Because if the media got ahold of it, you've have babble. I mean, the media fabricates "war crime" stories because it accords with the narrative they desperately WANT to sell the American People. But rarely do we get to compare, side by side, the media's account and the first-person account of the people involved.

Speaking of First Hand Accounts, let's talk Winter Soldier. . . I've been meaning to write about this, but I haven't really felt inspired.

Other folks have done the history of Winter Soldier better than I can, and for a shorter version check out this link. I blew off IVAW from the beginning, because if you want credibility with me, don't sell this as the updated version of a pack of liars who have been proven to be liars. Of course, IVAW is updated version of VVAW, which is a pack of liars proven to be liars. But I digress.

I admit that I could not sit through the live feed. Neither the time nor the inclination.

Others managed to go and sit through it all:
Part I
Part II

Part III
Part IV

Another summary.
His view of the first few panels.

Now, there's a lot of stuff there, but you know what I didn't hear?

Clear allegations of actual war crimes. Lots of fuzzy allegations and vague generalities, but no actual war crimes. There were allegations of racism, but it is a long way from the casual use of the term "hajji" for a Middle Eastern person to tossing said Middle Eastern persons into mass graves.

Whatever. I don't know what the media made of it, and I don't care.

I'm far more interested in other demonstrations and rallies.

I leave you with a YouTube video that should make you think a little bit.

I'll give you one military spouse's perspective on this video.