Tuesday, September 28, 2004

Know Thine Enemy

Michael Ledeen on the true reason behind the marketing and distribution of the beheading films: they are recruitment tools.
"A movement that draws its foot soldiers from people who dream of beheading one of us is clearly a barbarous phenomenon, one that puts the lie to the notion that our enemies in this terror war are human beings driven to desperation by misery and injustice. Not at all: The recruiting films are aimed at subhuman homicidal maniacs who revel in bloody brutality".Michael Ledeen on the War on Terror on National Review Online

Monday, September 27, 2004

Belmont Club

summarizes the real task before America in the coming years. It is not to find "an exit strategy from Iraq", as if there were somewhere on the planet it could hide from terrorism; nor is it simply to find Osama Bin Laden as some, ever anxious to reduce the current conflict to a law enforcement problem, would claim as a goal. It's task is to hold back the dark until a new global civilization can find its footing.

The American military now has the most thankless task of any military in the history of warfare: to provide the security armature for an emerging global civilization that, the more it matures -- with its own mass media and governing structures -- the less credit and sympathy it will grant to the very troops who have risked and, indeed, given their lives for it.

And the dark is everywhere; in the vast, decayed structure of the Third World where the shambolic post-colonial architecture has rotted away, leaving areas of chaos the size of continents.

Indian Country has been expanding in recent years because of the security vacuum created by the collapse of traditional dictatorships and the emergence of new democracies -- whose short-term institutional weaknesses provide whole new oxygen systems for terrorists. Iraq is but a microcosm of the earth in this regard. To wit, the upsurge of terrorism in the vast archipelago of Indonesia, the southern Philippines and parts of Malaysia is a direct result of the anarchy unleashed by the passing of military regimes. Likewise, though many do not realize it, a more liberalized Middle East will initially see greater rather than lesser opportunities for terrorists. As the British diplomatist Harold Nicolson understood, public opinion is not necessarily enlightened merely because it has been suppressed.

Kaplan, who is writing a series of books on the US military experience in different parts of the world, realized that Iraq was only a part, and not even the best part, of the global war on terror. In Mauretania, Mali, Niger, Chad, Ethiopia, Mongolia, Columbia, Afghanistan and the Philippines, Kaplan found small bands of men who were remolding blank spaces on the map in ways unknown since the 18th century. What they valued most of all were not "more boots on the ground" but freedom of action. The freedom above all, to do the commonsense thing. "Who needs meetings in Washington," one Army major told me. "Guys in the field will figure out what to do." Who needed meetings in Washington it turned out, were the vast retinue of camp followers, reporters and sutlers, who followed a great army to battle. Kaplan writes:

In months of travels with the American military, I have learned that the smaller the American footprint and the less notice it draws from the international media, the more effective is the operation. One good soldier-diplomat in a place like Mongolia can accomplish miracles. A few hundred Green Berets in Colombia and the Philippines can be adequate force multipliers. Ten thousand troops, as in Afghanistan, can tread water. And 130,000, as in Iraq, constitutes a mess that nobody wants to repeat -- regardless of one's position on the war.

What of that extreme pole on the cursed end of Kaplan's Law: Iraq? Writing in the Weekly Standard, Lt. Col. Powl Smith, the former chief of counterterrorism plans at U.S. European Command and currently in Baghdad sees that campaign not as a screen before the advancing vanguard of global civilization but as a battlefield where the main force of the enemy has been brought to battle. Powl compares Iraq to Guadalcanal, which depending on one's point of view is either exceedingly ominous or optimistic.

In one of our first counteroffensives against the Japanese, U.S. troops landed on the island of Guadalcanal in order to capture a key airfield. We surprised the Japanese with our speed and audacity, and with very little fighting seized the airfield. But the Japanese recovered from our initial success, and began a long, brutal campaign to force us off Guadalcanal and recapture it. The Japanese were very clever and absolutely committed to sacrificing everything for their beliefs. (Only three Japanese surrendered after six months of combat--a statistic that should put today's Islamic radicals to shame.) The United States suffered 6,000 casualties during the six-month Guadalcanal campaign; Japan, 24,000. It was a very expensive airfield.

While Midway is enshrined in popular glory, it was really Guadalcanal that represented the graveyard of Japanese forces, the Island of Death upon which Japanese naval and military reinforcements were dashed heedless and seriatim, until there were no more left to send. But no one knew it at the time; and when US forces embarked on a final sweep of the island they discovered to their surprise that the remainder had been totally evacuated by Japanese forces. The most popular account at the time, Richard Tregaskis' nearly-forgotten Guadalcanal Diary is useless as a work of history, written too close to the events and burdened by the misconceptions of the time, though it faithfully preserves the atmosphere of the early 1940s. Officers rarely use historical comparisons without intending some point and Powl leaves us in no doubt that he means Iraq to be the graveyard of the global Jihad.

It is possible that both Kaplan and Powl are right, as were the Blind Men of India in their differing descriptions of the elephant. We are truly in the midst of a world war as far flung and various as any in history: one so large as to defy description even by so talented a writer as Robert Kaplan . No one suspected what lay beyond the door constituted by September 11. Not even the enemy.

And we are here as on a darkling plain
Swept with confused alarms of struggle and flight,
Where ignorant armies clash by night.
-- Matthew Arnold, Dover Beach
Belmont Club

Texas Talk to Dan Rather

We know Modem aint what we used to do to weeds when they got hip high" and other goodies for Danny Boy in this funny as heck article in Texas Speak for Rather.
Well, Danny, you still ain’t lost all your redneck habits; you boys took one pickup load to the dump an’ come back with two. Dadgummit, Dan, where you gittin’ all this stuff? You been callin’ some kinda mystery numbers that ol’ boy, whatsisname, Kenneth, is bringin’ you offa bathroom walls at truck stops? Somethin’ you oughta be worryin’ about, Danny Boy: you know how the boys say when you go on a hunt always make sure to save a round for your huntin’ guide? Like if he don’t find nuthin’ else for you to shoot? "You suppose any a them rich, fancy-shmancy, New York dudes you work for ever been on a hunt and heard that, Dan, hmmm?"
Read the rest if you can stop laughing.
Road Less Graveled - A Down Home Message for Dan" by Russ�Vaughn

Friday, September 17, 2004

Sunday, September 12, 2004

Who Loves You: First LAR

Citizens of Poway, California showed their appreciation for members of the First Light Armored Reconnaissance Battalion with a parade and all the trimmings. Read on.North County Times - North San Diego and Southwest Riverside County News

Monday, September 06, 2004

Alpha 2nd LAR Departs for Iraq Tour

Friends and Family of A Company Two LAR said goodby to their own yesterday
as they left for 8 months duty in Iraq. The recent moves have given rise to rumors that other companies will soon follow. But stand easy. They are just rumors.
The Daily News, Jacksonville NC

Saturday, September 04, 2004

2nd LAR 1st Lt Ben Davis Meets with 6th Graders

First Lt. Davis took time out from a busy homecoming to meet with his mom's class of sixth graders to discuss Iraq and our progress towards peace. Davis was awarded the Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal for valor and the Combat Action Ribbon for his role at the battle of Al Jahar on March 24, 2003, where he served as the artillery liaison officer for the 2nd Light Armored Reconnaissance Battalion. Read More...

.: Corvallis Gazette-Times :. News