Leftover Turkey Day and How Do We Solve a Problem Like Syria

English: Iraq Defense Minister Abdul Qadir pre...

English: Iraq Defense Minister Abdul Qadir presents a gift to U.S. Army General David Petraeus during a farewell ceremony in Baghdad on September 15, 2008. Petraeus turned over command of Multi-National Forces – Iraq to Army General Raymond Odierno on September 16. Petraeus has served in three command positions in Iraq since 2003. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

A little bit of leftover business from Jess’ new post yesterday, she also had a message for us as Americans:

As some of you know, I spent a year in America when I was younger, and that intensified a love of America that came from a crush on John Wayne and a love of American films. It’s so easy, looking and admiring that great nation, to forget how precarious were its origins, and now, with so much political correctness, almost to have to apologise for them. But those brave Pilgrims might easily have suffered the fate of those Vikings who had tried to establish settlement much earlier, and in fact almost did suffer that fate. But their faith in God which led them to cross a vast ocean in vulnerable wooden ships, kept them firm and saw them through. May that be said of us all – and let us always give thanks to Him who alone is truly worthy of all thanks and praise.

I don’t think truer words were ever spoken written.

 But that isn’t to say that all of our problems are due to political correctness, although it has much to do with why we can’t seem to solve them. As Jess and I both know, in order to solve a problem first you have to define it, and then define a plan for dealing with it. And that is much of the problem with IS (which someone this week defined as Islamic Scumbags, which I like). A retired British officer wrote about this in The Spectator this week. You need to read the whole article, but I’m going to give you a few highlights.

Like most British soldiers of my generation, I fought in Iraq and Afghanistan. Few would now justify the reasons for invading Iraq; most of us who fought there at first recognised the amateurish nature of the strategy and its lack of realistic political objectives. But in 2007, under General Petraeus, the coalition adopted a new strategy that was underpinned by coherent policy. This stemmed from the recognition that unless common cause was found with moderate Sunnis, a workable Iraqi polity could never be established.

The rapid improvements that flowed from this change were impressive but disgracefully shortlived. The US departure from Iraq in 2010 allowed the Shi’ite Nuri Al Maliki a free rein to threaten Sunni interests and explains the Iraqi half of today’s tragedy in the Middle East.

In the other half, the West has shown similar strategic illiteracy in Syria. Efforts to excite opposition to Assad were unsupported by even the remotest understanding of what might follow. Just as with Saddam and Gaddafi, no credible alternative to Assad waits in the wings.

Part of this stems from the crisis of confidence experienced by both the US and UK as a result of Iraq and Afghanistan. The prevailing judgment is that all interventions are ill-advised, especially those involving boots on the ground. The best the West can do is to bomb from a safe distance and make half-hearted efforts to raise local militias. Bombing and drone strikes have their place if properly targeted, but no aircraft has ever held ground. Without western forces, local militias will continue to be highly unreliable.

[…] Until there is a change of policy, Obama is unlikely to provide the lead that he should. And Cameron has shown no appetite to have the sort of relationship that Churchill had with his military chiefs, preferring instead the advice of his intelligence agencies. Agency heads can give you the intelligence, but they are unqualified to determine the solutions.

(Emphasis mine) I think that is a good nutshell description of the problems we face in the UK and US.

The House of Commons should therefore ask itself the following questions:

— What is the political objective and is it realistic?

— Can a grand coalition of the willing be created under US leadership which can coalesce around the same political objective?

— If a grand coalition cannot be created (without for instance Russia and Iran), how would this affect the strategy?

— What military resources will be needed to achieve the objective?

— If, for political reasons, the right military means are judged unacceptable (notably ground forces), then would doing nothing be better than doing something?

— After the political objective has been achieved, are we willing to show strategic patience and stay the course?

If the government can produce sensible answers to these questions, then its strategy should be supported. But if not, the House of Commons would be wise to wait.

So emphatically should Congress, because we know the executive hasn’t the knowledge or the will to, and it should resume its rightful place as one of the keys of the American system, which seems nearly as doubtful, as is anybody doing the work of defining this problem and then its solution.

As I said above, you should read the whole article. It is: How to defeat Isis, by a retired British commander.


I will tell you want Isis don’t want. Overwhelming western military force

Britain's Prime Minister David Cameron, left, and France's President Francois Hollande arrive at the Elysee Palace in Paris, Monday, Nov. 23, 2015. French President Francois Hollande and British Prime Minister David Cameron have paid a visit to the Bataclan concert venue in central Paris, which saw the worst carnage of the Paris attacks that killed over 120 people. (AP Photo/Michel Euler)

Britain’s Prime Minister David Cameron, left, and France’s President Francois Hollande arrive at the Elysee Palace in Paris, Monday, Nov. 23, 2015. French President Francois Hollande and British Prime Minister David Cameron have paid a visit to the Bataclan concert venue in central Paris, which saw the worst carnage of the Paris attacks that killed over 120 people. (AP Photo/Michel Euler)

This! Where, in God’s name, is the fire from our governments? We have been attacked (still again) and while David Cameron and François Hollande are making some of the right noises, and doing some of the right things, it seems to me to be rather half-hearted. We are not going to defeat IS from 29,999 feet, the only way is at the muzzle of a rifle. This is from Laura Perrins, and is directed to the British people and government. She’s right, and it applies with major emphasis to the American people and government as well.

Isis don’t do trigger warning; they just do triggers. It is time to get angry.

If you do not feel angry, very angry, about the Paris atrocity then there is something wrong with you. However, as Brendan O’Neill pointed out, at every second turn we are told to calm down because to show any other emotion other than sentiment is ‘what the so-called Islamic State (Isis) want!’

True to form, in The Times on Saturday Janice Turner told us, ‘Keep our words cool.’

No I don’t think I will, thanks. What is there to be cool about? The same paper rightly made space to remember all 130 people who were gunned down by these Islamist Scumbags, so accurately described by Andrew Neil. […]

Herein lies my exasperation; that this at times sentimental show is aired in place of genuine anger towards these barbaric killers and in particular the liberal governing elite and intelligence services who let it happen. Long ago countries used to build defences to keep the enemy out – our elite invited them in with their useless mad, no border policy.

Notably the Left have a new slapdown, one cannot ask any hard questions because to do so is ‘doing Isis’s job for them.’ […]

What is wrong with these people? What part of ‘I hate you and your entire way of life that I want to blow you to bits’ don’t they understand?

It is not our foreign policy, our non-existent refugee policy (refugees welcome!) multiculturalism or indeed a more demanding form of integration they hate. It is our existence – a liberal society, freedom of speech and religion, and the Christian heritage – that they hate. They wish to destroy this and return to “a seventh–century legal environment, and ultimately to bring(ing) about the Apocalypse.”

Apocalypse – not hug a refugee – Apocalypse. Go negotiate with that.

Source: Laura Perrins: I will tell you want Isis don’t want. Overwhelming western military force

Not to say that a good many Brits don’t get it. I was quite amazed to see this on the BBC. I wanted to stand up and cheer.

The only reason that won’t happen is if Pogo is right:

We have met the enemy and he is us.

Moe Lane over at RedState had some parallel thoughts:

Are you afraid of terrorism? Or just simply angry about it?

We call this ‘projection,’ where I come from.

After the attacks in Paris, the world is again challenged by fear.

I suppose that I should be used to this, after a decade and a half of listening to well-meaning fools uttering it, but; I’m not. Or at least I’m not willing to let it remain unanswered, out of sheer weariness if nothing else. If I’m weary of anything, it’s being told that I’m scared, just because some editorial writer on the NYT is scared and so he* thinks everybody is scared, too. […]

So if the alternative to fear is not hate – if hate is merely a subset of fear – then what is the true alternative?  Why, it’s anger. I didn’t get scaredabout the enemy after 9/11; I got mad at them.  How dare those people come halfway across the world to strike at a city that I loved and murder my fellow citizens and try to kill people just like me. How dare they insert their literally medieval fantasy ideology into my daily life. The terrorists had no justification, and they had no right.  And they made a hideous mistake back then, because while an angry man might make mistakes, those mistakes pale in comparison with the mistakes that a fearful man will make

Source: Are you afraid of terrorism? Or just simply angry about it?

That’s my take. I may die in this mess, although I doubt it, but you know something, I’m going to die anyway. What’s to be afraid of? It’s far better to die on your feet than to live on your knees, hoping for some scraps from your master’s table, especially when he’s a seventh-century thug. As always the Bible has guidance for us. From Ecclesiastes.

To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven:

A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted;

A time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up;

A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance;

A time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;

A time to get, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away;

A time to rend, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;

A time to love, and a time to hate; a time of war, and a time of peace.

And, once again, it has become a time for war.

Cerberus: Potemkin Village Europe postures in face of the Islamic threat

6007542-3x2-940x627I’ll eventually have some thoughts on Paris that go beyond “God be with you, and we are praying for you”. But not yet. I suspect though they will closely parallel the two articles from The Conservative Woman that I’m featuring this morning.

We have been here before, too many times: 9/11, the Madrid train bombings, the Bali bomb, 7/7, the Mumbai killings, the Charlie Hebdo massacre, the slaughter of British tourists on a beach in Tunisia, and countless assaults on civilians in the benighted cities of the Middle East. Each time, in the West, the response is much the same. Expressions of shock and horror by the survivors and their fellow citizens; condemnation by political leaders engaged in a quest for yet more superlatives to express their revulsion; tightened security; a hunt for the perpetrators of the atrocity and their accomplices; revelations of police blunders that enabled the attackers to strike; and vague talk of military action against the terrorist masterminds.

All this we are witnessing in the aftermath of the inhuman cruelty of the Paris shootings. President Hollande has accused Islamic State (IS) of an “act of war” against France and vowed a “merciless” response. Security has been stepped up in cities across Europe. Special forces are on the streets on London. EU leaders have issued a joint statement pledging to crush IS by all means possible.

Tearful young Parisiens attempt to console one another by hugging in the streets. But no amount of candles, flowers and teddy bears or cries of defiance will change anything. “We are young, educated and liberal. This is what they hate”, declaimed the headline in The Sunday Times. But that fails to get to the heart of the matter. They hate us because we exist. And they have done these terrible things because we are weak.

France and by extension other Western nations have been badly served by their political masters. Nearly 15 years ago, in response to the 9/11 al-Qaeda assault on the Twin Towers, which claimed nearly 3,000 lives, the West, led by America, embarked on the war on terror. But as the war turned sour, failing to produce the instant victory demanded by the video games generation, public support ebbed and the resolve of presidents and prime ministers faltered. The boys were brought home, creating the power vacuum in the Middle East that led to the rise of IS and the mayhem on the streets of Paris this weekend.

Had America maintained the near 200,000 troops it had in Iraq during the 2007 surge would we now be witnessing the implosion of Syria and Iraq and the migrant exodus that threatens to overwhelm Europe and bring in its train a fifth column of young jihadists ready, willing and able to emulate the brutality on show at the Bataclan concert hall?

After Charlie Hebdo in January,  political leaders such as Hollande, Merkel and David Cameron led a march of millions of people through Paris to parade their defiance of the jihadi killers, their love of freedom and their solidaity. Je suis Charlie, was the cry, just as today we hear, in more troubled and muted tones, Je suis Paris.

But is a mass emote all they can do? Isn’t this all about them and not the poor young men and women mercilessly gunned down on Friday night? More pertinently, do our leaders think that all they have to do is parade their virtue – their sorrow, their sympathy, their compassion, their humanity – and all will be well? Can you imagine a Churchill or a Thatcher responding to an atrocity like Charlie Hebdo or this latest horror with empty gestures of defiance?

Source: Cerberus: Potemkin Village Europe postures in face of the Islamic threat

Not to mention:

Yesterday morning I awoke to the news that there had been some terrible event. At first, I wasn’t sure what it was and that bafflement lasted  through my breakfast.  Apparently, according to Radio 4, something terrible had happened to some Muslims in Paris. The Today programme said  there had been a terrorist attack, many people were dead, and an earnest voice said that, ‘Muslims of Europe are now in danger.’

I heard other voices saying the right wing in France was about to go on the rampage and wondered if there had been an Anders Breivik style massacre. Others said that multiculturalism was now under serious threat. A Muslim commentator, Egyptian German, Dr Asiem El Difraoui, discussed the impact the attacks on Paris may have on French politics:

‘We are a couple of weeks away from regional elections. We know that the extreme Right is emerging as a very strong party,’ he said, highlighting the concerns he shares with the BBC and the Liberal/Left.

‘I really hope that France is not going to react hysterically,’ he went on, explaining: ‘Paris is in shock. It’s much too early to draw conclusions.’

Which conclusions was he waiting for, one wondered. By about 8.30am the fog of liberal obfuscation had faded and I was clear, like everyone else, that this was the terrorist attack by Isil in the heart of Europe, long promised by them. One hundred and twenty seven young people had been shot dead,  one hundred more were critically injured. They were not Muslims at all, but Christian and secular, out and about at a rock concert, a football match and drinking in popular bars.

It was clear that the co-ordinated attacks had been committed by well trained young men who took time coolly reloading their assault rifles and Skorpion sub-machine guns. Nothing, certainly not the French security services employed by President Holland’s Socialist government, had stood up to their determination to kill and maim the ‘infidel.’

Source: Mass migration and multiculturalism drive us further apart.

Incidently that French air strike, good as it was, was about two-thirds the size of The Doolittle Raid. That needs to happen several times an hour. My guess is the French don’t have the ordnance to do much more, and nobody but the US/UK have the logistics to get there, unless of course the fired up the trucks and told Turkey to lead, follow, or get the hell out of the way.

But given the West’s leadership, I doubt it matters, they haven’t the guts to even name the enemy.

Veteran’s day movie

This (more or less) is how the Bloody Bucket ( Keystone Division, Iron Division, 28th Infantry Division) got its name.

Yes, like so many of the really good designators of American units, Bloody Bucket came from the Germans.

The Alarming Signposts that this Could Be a Crazy Year

This is interesting, and amongst all the theories floating around describing events, it makes as much sense as anything else. Does that make it true? Nope, neither does it make it false. Like global warming, global cooling, climate change, it’s a theory, although this one doesn’t have several trillion dollars of rent seeking money attached. It’s a hypothesis, neither proved nor disproved. We shall see.

I was fifteen, it was 1968, and seeking refuge from adolescence and the turmoil of the times, I often curled up with science fiction. When your world spins apart, you can find some respite in alternate worlds. And so I did – until one story wrenched me back to the chaotic present.

It was “The Year of the Jackpot,” in which Robert A. Heinlein stunningly foresaw it all.

The story had been published in 1952, but it conjured up the annus mirabilis/horribilis that I could see flashing before me every day: nudity in public, nudity in the churches, transvestites, draft-dodgers, cigar-smoking feminists, bishops promoting sex education, ludicrous lawsuits, a “startling rise in dissident evangelical cults,” and the Alabama state legislature proposing to abolish physics (not the teaching of physics, no, they wanted to repeal the laws of nuclear physics). Heinlein even predicted that weird antiwar protesters would be arrested in Chicago and disrupt their subsequent trial. In the story, a bespectacled statistician (they always wear glasses) discovers that all varieties of human behavior move in waves, and now (as he plots on graphs) all the waves are cresting at once. “It’s as clear as a bank statement,” he warns. “This year the human race is letting down its hair, flipping its lip with a finger, and saying, ‘Wubba, wubba, wubba.”‘

Source: History News Network | The Alarming Signposts that this Could Be a Crazy Year

Or as some of us might have said back in 1968, ‘Beaucoup dinky dau, redux’. I bet some of my readers recognize that!

P.J O’Rourke has a new book out, it’s called Thrown Under the Omnibus, and it’s an anthology of his earlier works, a greatest hits album, as it were. So if you have his books, it may be a bit repetitive, but it’s a great introduction to the author who has been compared to S.J. Perlman on acid as well as H.L. Mencken, that’s some heady company. Here’s a few quotes:

On the fall of the Berlin Wall:

They may have had the soldiers and the warheads and the fine-sounding ideology that suckered the college students and nitwit Third Worlders, but we had all the fun . . . in the end we beat them with Levi’s 501 jeans. Seventy years of communist indoctrination and propaganda was drowned out by a three-ounce Sony Walkman. A huge totalitarian system with all its tanks and guns, gulag camps, and secret police has been brought to its knees because nobody wants to wear Bulgarian shoes.

On the differences between the parties:

Democrats are in favor of higher taxes to pay for greater spending, while Republicans are in favor of greater spending, for which the taxpayers will pay.

Why conservatives being called Nazis never bothered him:

I don’t let it bother me for one simple reason. No one has ever had a fantasy about being tied to a bed and sexually ravished by someone dressed as a liberal.

Not to mention this:

It is true that Republicans are squares, but it’s the squares who know how to fly the bombers, launch the missiles, and fire the M-16s. Democrats would still be fumbling with the federally mandated trigger locks.

I’ve been reading, and laughing with, O’Rourke since he was a liberal, and I just bought this book, I like greatest hits albums, often they are the concentrated essence of what we loved.

Veteran’s Day

For the first time as we observe Veteran’s Day, there is no one to take our salute. Florence Green, a member of the Women’s Royal Air Force, died on 4 February 2012 two weeks short of her 111th birthday, at King’s Lynne. She was the very last veteran of World War I.

And now they’re all gone, the doughboys, Tommies, the Diggers, the Canucks, and the Kiwis. And the men of the Second World War are following swiftly.

These are the men that have kept us free. For this holiday is about brave men, yesterday we talked about how the Unknown British Warrior was awarded the American Medal of Honor. Today I’ll note that five Americans, ranging from Ordinary Seaman to Lieutenant Colonel have won the Victoria Cross, plus the Unknown Soldier buried at Arlington, by order of the King.

The Great War, of course, is when the United States made its debut as the great world power. From our entry in 1917 until today is fairly termed “The American Century” for as the Pax Britannica ended in 1914 and chaos ensued between the wars as we hid in our continent and from 1945 the Pax Americana has been in place.

It could be fairly said that the wars of the 20th Century were the “Wars of Freedom”, for more people have been freed from tyranny by the United States and our allies than at any other time in history.

The legend of American bravery is known worldwide, from the Marine sergeant, who lead the charge at the battle of Belleau Wood, who led the charge with the command, “Come on you sons-of-bitches, do you want to live forever.”( Noting that it is now “Bois de la Brigade de Marine“, in their honor) to General McAuliffe’s response to the German demand to surrender at Bastogne, “Nuts” to the Admiral Nimitz’s comment on Iwo Jima, “Uncommon valor was a common virtue.” Thus has been remarked the common bravery of American troops in every case in all the wars of these Planetary soldiers.

As probably every one reading this knows, the average American idolizes American soldiers, they have gone from being the unwanted stepchildren of the revolution, because of the mistrust engendered by the occupying British regulars, to by far the most trusted of American institutions, trusted by over  80% of Americans. They have earned it, and earned it the hard way by blood, toil, tears, honor, integrity, and sweat from Lexington Green to Afghanistan they have become legend, at one and the same time, “America’s Army” and the “Army of the Free”. The Armed Forces are the best of America. If you were to ask the common people of anyplace they have been, you will find their fans, maybe not the government, but the people remember.

If you don’t happen to know, those streamers on the service flags are called battle streamers, each of them remembers a battle going back to Lexington Green. It has been a contentious life we have lived, and freedom always has enemies.

But they have done other things, they are often the first humanitarian aid anywhere in the world after a natural disaster, the mapping of the United States was done by the Army, your GPS system is courtesy of the Air Force and the Internet you’re reading this on was started by the US Department of Defense.

But let us not make the mistake many do, it’s not technology that wins wars, it’s men, and now women as well, women like these:

What do you think goes through the minds of women in the parts of the world that don’t offer women equal rights when these women show up in their midst as American officers and warriors? Think maybe some get the idea that women are equal to men.

I’d say things like this have done more to advance women’s rights than all the feminists yelling in the last fifty years. It was the same when the military integrated in 1948, that’s where it was all proved, although we already knew it, really, blacks have served bravely and well ever since Crispus Attucks was killed at the Boston Massacre.

But you know, it’s always had a cost, often a very high cost, and a wise people don’t forget that, no matter the technology, it has to be operated by people and by brave people, from the rifleman to the man who may have to turn the key to unleash Armageddon itself. And in American history, the military has never failed us, even when we and our political leadership has not been worthy of them. Many of us use as a catchphrase a rewording of the last line of our national anthem, instead of  “the Land of the Free and The Home of the Brave“, we are wont to say “The Land of the Free because of the Brave.”

We are also quite content, while not resting in our quest, to be known by the friends we keep.

But sometimes the brave are lost and then we honor our fallen countrymen, as they deserve. Bill Whittle a few years ago had something to say about American Honor, and I’d like you to read it.

On October 7th, 2002, I returned to Los Angeles from Arlington National Cemetery where we’d interred my father, 2nd Lt. William Joseph Whittle, who died from what may have been sheer joy during a fishing trip in Canada.

My dad served in the US Army in Germany, from 1944 through 1946. He was an intelligence officer, and was responsible for recording the time of death of the convicted War Criminals at Nuremburg after the war. He saw them hanged — he stood there with a stopwatch. He was 21 years old.

My father spent two years in the U.S. Military. He spent a lifetime in the corporate world. After twenty years as a world-class hotel manager, turning entire properties from liabilities into assets, he was let go without so much as a thank-you dinner or a handshake. Twenty years of service. He was a four-star general in the corporate world for two decades, and that was his reward.

Monday afternoon, at 1 pm, I stood underneath the McClellan arch at ANC. There were 13 family members there. There were also 40 men in uniform. I was stunned.

They took my dad’s ashes, in what looked like a really nice cigar box (what a little box for such a big man, I thought at that moment), and placed it in what looked like a metallic coffin on the back of a horse-drawn caisson. His ashes were handled by other twenty-one year old men, men as young as he had been, men whose fathers were children when my dad was in uniform. Everything was inspected, checked, and handled with awesome, palpable, radiating reverence and respect.

As we walked behind the caisson, the band played not a dirge, but a march… a tune that left me searching for the right adjective, which I didn’t find until the flight home. It was triumphal. It was the sound of Caesar entering Rome; the sound of a hero coming home. It was the only time during the service that I really began to cry.

Continue reading Honor

This is part of that Honor

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