Wednesday, January 31, 2007
Monday, January 29, 2007
Friday, January 26, 2007
Thursday, January 25, 2007
Wednesday, January 24, 2007
Sunday, January 21, 2007
Saturday, January 20, 2007
Friday, January 19, 2007
The AP and the Daily Telegraph both quote National Security Council spokesman Gordon Johndroe as saying that China’s “development and testing of such weapons is inconsistent with the spirit of cooperation that both countries aspire to in the civil space area” and that the US and other countries have expressed “concern” to the Chinese.
You bet the US is concerned: the US military depends on satellites for communications and reconnaissance. Development of reliable anti-satellite weapons means that the US will have to expend resources to protect or replace its space assets if needed. Anti-satellite weapons are cheap compared to the required countermeasures. No surprise that China is building them.
The unbelievable part is the nature of the US rhetorical response. “[I]nconsistent with the spirit of cooperation…in the civil space area.” Humph. I guess the NSC could have said something to look stupider, if their eggheads had really worked on it. I bet the Chinese military had some spirits and a few laughs over the “spirit of cooperation.”
Is Mr. Johndroe serious ? No, I’m not saying we should be going to war with them, or doing anything whatever rash – testing things that go boom is what great powers do from time to time. But why say anything at all, beyond simple acknowledgement that the test took place ? The most appropriate response would be naval maneuvers in the Taiwan straits, or a few tests of various gadgets of our own (such as the missile defense systems we are working on), not some stupid statement gassing about “cooperation in the civil space area.” Mr. Johndroe’s comments sound like something a child says when he’s whining about the schoolyard bully.
Jefferson Davis, Farewell Address to the U.S. Senate, 21 January 1861. (From The Papers of Jefferson Davis, Vol. 7: 1861, LSU Press, 1992).. . . I feel no hostility to you, Senators from the North. I am sure there is not one of you, whatever sharp discussion there may have been between us, to whom I cannot now say, in the presence of my God, I wish you well: and such, I am sure, is the feeling of the people whom I represent towards those whom you represent. I therefore feel that I but express their desire when I say I hope, and they hope, for peaceful relations with you, though we must part. . .The reverse may bring disaster on every portion of the country; and if you will have it thus, we will invoke the God of our fathers, who delivered them from the power of the lion, to protect us from the ravages of the bear; and thus, putting our trust in God and in our own firm hearts and strong arms, we will vindicate the right as best we may.
With all my devotion to the Union, and the feeling of loyalty and duty of an American citizen, I have not been able to make up my mind to raise my hand against my relatives, my children, my home. I have, therefore, resigned my commission in the Army, and save in defense of my native State. . .I hope I may never be called upon to draw my sword.I know you will blame me, but you must think as kindly as you can, and believe that I have endeavored to do what I thought right. . .May God guard and protect your and yours and shower upon you everlasting blessings. . .
Thursday, January 18, 2007
Kaiser Wilhelm’s elevation took place in the middle of the Franco-Prussian War, while the Prussian and other German armies were besieging Paris. The birth of the German Empire was both figuratively and literally over the dead body of Napoléon III’s French Empire (related post here), as the proclamation of Wilhelm as Kaiser, in the Hall of Mirrors at Versailles, (subject of Anton Alexander von Werner’s 1877 painting Die Proklamation des Deutschen Kaiserreiches, reproduced above), rather tactlessly underscored.
Kaiser Wilhelm, quiet, courteous and retiring, and so much unlike his better-known, bumptious grandson, Wilhelm II – never at all wanted to be Emperor, being content to remain King of Prussia. However, the man in the center of the above picture, (the mustached fellow in the white cavalry uniform), his chancellor, Otto von Bismarck – insisted. Bismarck, the brilliant but unstable “Iron Chancellor," engineered three wars: (the Franco-Prussian War, the Austro-Prussian War, and the Danish-Prussian War); created the German Empire; and finally, stayed in power too long -- doing much too much to ruin his own creation.
Proclaiming the Empire at the Château de Versailles, home of Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette, was singularly inauspicious, as any astrologer could have explained. As Sir Alistair Horne pointed out, this circumstance of the German Empire’s beginning– born in a palace dedicated à toutes les gloires de la France -- cursed the new German state’s whole existence, and was an mortal insult to France that would ultimately be avenged in oceans of blood.
But that was for another time. The assembled kings, princes and generals, plus all the politicians and hangers-on, loudly cheered their new Kaiser, and no doubt adjourned to enjoy some good champagne, assure their Kaiser of their loyalty, and congratulate the great Chancellor; before dispersing to their commandeered apartments in the vast palace, or their less-comfortable billets around besieged Paris. In the Hall of Mirrors, with the party over, the palace servants and attendants remained to clean up. In that same room, 48 years later, the bill would be presented.
Wednesday, January 17, 2007
Tuesday, January 16, 2007
Thursday, January 11, 2007
The version I saw was dated 17 December 2006, and has since been updated somewhat. With that proviso in mind, the AEI scheme I read involves increasing the number of US brigades operating in Baghdad from five to ten, and the President’s announced plan tracks this. The President also said that a total of 18 Iraqi Army and police brigades would be put in Baghdad. Presently, the Iraqis have four Army brigades (from 6th Division), in the city.
The AEI proposal, though, was essentially a discussion of where troops might be found; and the importance of finding them – and not a detailed operational plan governing their employment. The Belmont Club’s discussion of the AEI proposal is worth reading after a look at the President’s speech.
The AEI plan was pretty skimpy on what, exactly, is supposed to happen at the sharp end: that is, how the platoons and companies involved will clear the Bad Guys from Baghdad. Will the US troops have free use of their artillery, helicopter gunships and their air support ? Do the police have arrest lists, or any idea where the rebels may be hiding ? What's being done to get this information ? Will we be aggressively going hunting for these people and their arms stashes, or are we just providing passively patrolling targets for the rebels to bomb and snipe at ?
How about the command arrangements ? The President says the Iraqis are going to appoint a military commander for Baghdad, “and two deputy commanders.” Maybe one for each side of the river…or maybe an Iraqi and an American deputy ? It will be interesting to see if American troops wind up under an Iraqi commander, even in theory. I’d be more impressed if an American commander was running the show in Baghdad – that would tell me the Iraqis meant for a serious housecleaning to take place – and that they were putting foreigners in charge of it so they could blame them for excesses later. The Iraqi politicos, after all, have to live in Iraq.
Will the commander have plenary military and civil power ? Will an American General be there to jog his elbow ? Will the Iraqis arrange for the TV media to be kept away from things they do not need to see ? Are the Iraqis going to quit their silly “catch and release” programs for rebels – putting the villains our troops catch right back on the streets ? Will the troops at last deal with the Sadr City militias ? Hopefully and surely, whatever the White House and Pentagon have cooked-up involves a detailed operational plan. More on that later.
But for me, the most interesting part of the speech, by far, was this passage:
Succeeding in Iraq also requires defending its territorial integrity - and stabilizing the region in the face of the extremist challenge. This begins with addressing Iran and Syria. These two regimes are allowing terrorists and insurgents to use their territory to move in and out of Iraq. Iran is providing material support for attacks on American troops. We will disrupt the attacks on our forces. We will interrupt the flow of support from Iran and Syria. And we will seek out and destroy the networks providing advanced weaponry and training to our enemies in Iraq.
Meanwhile, "neutral" neighbors and war supplies. This all sounds real familiar: maybe a nostalgia trip down the “Ho Chi Minh Trail.”
As if it wasn’t clear enough that Mad Jad Ahmadinejad and the Persians are in the crosshairs, there’s the next paragraph:
We are also taking other steps to bolster the security of Iraq and protect American interests in the Middle East. I recently ordered the deployment of an additional carrier strike group to the region. We will expand intelligence sharing - and deploy Patriot air defense systems to reassure our friends and allies. We will work with the governments of Turkey and Iraq to help them resolve problems along their border. And we will work with others to prevent Iran from gaining nuclear weapons and dominating the region.
Finally, the reference to Turkey is interesting. The President might be talking there about Iraq and Turkey’s common border in Kurdistan. But Turkey also has a border with Iran – and with Syria. President Bush dropped the Turkey reference in right after mention of the Patriot. Is Turkey being offered some Patriot batteries ?
What a speech. You’d never know the President was isolated, hamstrung by a defeatist Congress and press that are absolutely salivating at the prospect of an American defeat. Here’s hoping the plan works, because barring a miracle, it’s the last shot.
Wednesday, January 10, 2007
Of the 6 billion people on this Earth, not one killed more people than Saddam Hussein. And not just killed but tortured and mutilated -- doing so often with his own hands and for pleasure. It is quite a distinction to be the preeminent monster on the planet. If the death penalty was ever deserved, no one was more richly deserving than Saddam Hussein.
The last topic that day [at Yalta] was the treatment of war criminals. At Teheran, Stalin had proposed taking 50,000 Germans and shooting them without trial. Churchill, who had been so offended by this at the time that he had walked out of the room in protest, now said that a list of war criminals would be drawn up and those on the list brought to trial, though personally he was inclined to feel that ‘they should be shot as soon as they were caught and their identity established.’ Stalin, hitherto an advocate of summary executions, now claimed to favour the judicial process. Roosevelt commented that it should not be ‘too judicial’; journalists and photographers should be kept out ‘until the criminals were dead’.
Sir Martin Gilbert, Churchill: A Life, p. 821 (Henry Holt,1992).
proscription, the publication of a notice, especially. . .(2) a list of Roman citizens who were declared outlaws and whose goods were confiscated. . .The proscribed were hunted down and executed in Rome and throughout Italy by squads of soldiers, and the co-operation of the victims' familes and slaves and of the general public was sought by means of rewards and punishments. . .The sons and grandsons of the proscribed were debarred from public life. . .The impression left was profound. . .
Hornblower and Spawforth, eds., The Oxford Classical Dictionary, p. 1260 (Oxford Univ. Press, 2003, p. 1260).
It was a proscription notice, bearing the Royal seals and signatures, describing the individuals’ crimes, and ending with an identical proclamation: to be cast out from all protection of law; declared to be among the enemies-general of humankind, to be dealt with as wolves are.
Jerry Pournelle, S.M. Stirling, Prince of Sparta: A Novel of Falkenberg’s Legion (Baen Books, 1993, p. 281) (Roman type originally in Italics).
There have been complaints by lots of people who should know better that the processes surrounding Saddam’s trial and execution were less than Harvard Law School perfect. Charles Krauthammer, (for whom I have the greatest respect), joins them in the column quoted above, calling the execution a “. . .a rushed, botched, unholy mess that exposed the hopelessly sectarian nature of the Maliki government.” Perhaps. Mr. Krauthammer calls the proceedings “beyond travesty.” Viewed as a legal and judicial proceeding, of course it was; but it was bound to be, because it mistakenly commingled law and politics.
I normally agree with Mr. Krauthammer, but I have no sympathy with Mr. Krauthammer’s views on Saddam's death. I would agree that the tape of the hanging shows that the police and security organs of the new Iraqi government are definitely in need of a purge, and that many so-called Iraqi policemen ought to find themselves in the dungeons formerly occupied by Saddam and his henchmen – and their victims – or else in hastily dug ditches next to Mr. Saddam’s corpse. But this is in order to create reliable and obedient coercive instruments in the hands of the new government, and has nothing whatever to do with Saddam.
Perhaps I’m less troubled by vaporings on the moral and legal problems surrounding the trial and execution of Saddam because I’ve never thought the creation of “democracy” had anything to do with the war in Iraq. Due process for Saddam ? What foolishness ! Saddam got more due process than he gave thousands of others – much more, in fact than he deserved.
I don’t have much use for trials such as Saddam got, because, to begin with, they are victor’s justice dressed up in the sheep’s clothing of legal proceedings. No, my brothers, I’m not going softy-lefty, give me a second. Saddam unquestionably enjoyed the fairest trial and execution in Iraqi history, but Iraq as it exists is not a law-based state, and is not going to be for some time. Democracy in Iraq remains, and will remain, a chimera.
On some moral cosmic justice plane, Saddam no doubt got what was coming to him: but the whole result was foreordained, because Saddam lost the war - and Saddam of course knew it. Saddam’s death was not about cosmic justice: it was politically useful and necessary for the Iraqis and for the United States, and that’s all there was to it. I’ll say this for the Bad Man: much as he deserved his fate, and deserved the squalid process by which he met it – he died very well.
In general, show trials for Saddam and his ilk are somewhat useful for educating other tyrants as to the fatal and humiliating consequences of crossing Uncle Sam, and for allowing aggrieved Iraqis and others to have some revenge and see Mr. Big Get His, (which stores up other problems for later). But the whole transaction was, fundamentally and necessarily, a demonstration of power, and not properly a judicial proceeding. Does anybody really think the Iraqis were not going to kill Saddam ? The killing of Saddam was politics, not law. It could not be anything else.
Tuesday, January 9, 2007
Monday, January 8, 2007
Saturday, January 6, 2007
Thursday, January 4, 2007
A great disturbance in the Force. Emperor Palpatine is dead. While the furnaces in Hell are taking in fuel, what will Darth “Mad Jad” Ahmadinejad do now ?
Even though he will be No. 2 behind Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, this appears to be a major comedown, as well as a blow to the morale and organizational cohesion of the US intelligence services, which have been in substantial disarray since 9/11.
What is going on here ? Ambassador Negroponte will face a Senate confirmation – and the loons are running the asylum now. The Senate Foreign Relations Committee, now chaired by Joe Biden, is populated by such know-it-alls as Christopher Dodd, Barbara Boxer, John Kerry and Russ Feingold, not to mention Saint Barack of Obama. I’m sure Senator Dodd will give us a long seminar on Ambassador Negroponte’s activities in Central America during the Contra War in Nicaragua.
The whole business is very strange. If Ambassador Negroponte is not working out as DNI, (which I do not for a moment believe), or otherwise in disgrace (also unlikely), then his departure would make sense. But why shuffle him to the State Department ? Ambassador Negroponte would appear to me to have entirely too much experience and clout for any Secretary of State’s comfort, and I cannot believe that Secretary Rice would be entirely comfortable with this. . .unless maybe she’s a short-timer ?
In any case, you don’t oust somebody big and then send him to an important post in one of the most leak-prone, troublesome departments in government. So, it seems that Ambassador Negroponte is not being ousted, or kicked sideways. . .he’s getting a real new job. But what kind of position ? Is this one of those Michael Corleone “stepping down” as Don deals ? Come to think of it, Ambassador Negroponte is more of a Republican Tom Hagen for intelligence world purposes – is he “no longer” the consigliere ? That is, is the spy boss just changing offices ?
I wonder if this has something to do with the apparently forthcoming new policy on Iraq ? Prior to becoming DNI, Ambassador Negroponte was in Baghdad. I wonder if he’s going back, this time with enough juice to boss around generals, diplomats and foreign heads of state ? The problem in Iraq, to my way of thinking, is more on the intelligence/secret police/paramilitary end of things than it is narrowly military, and it seems to fit Ambassador Negroponte's resume. If I were hiring fixers to send to Baghdad, Ambassador Negroponte's name would be top of my list. Either that, or he’s going to take a overdue hatchet to the State Department.