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Friday, May 28, 2004

The Pope Says We're Winning!!
Updated 6/4/04

I announce with great pride that now even that despicable, mystical, loony man that many people call the Pope has acknowledged that American culture is attaining perfection. He says that we are "turning against spirituality in favor of materialistic desires, giving way to a 'soulless vision of life.'" I couldn't be happier!

Oh wait. For some reason he calls this a bad thing. This is only more proof that the "Holy See" is a home of depravity and evil.
Here we are in the United States, the most prosperous nation ever to exist in the history of the world. Our people are happier, safer, richer, healthier, with more potential than those living in any other place in the world now or ever in history. The citizens of our nation are routinely among the smartest, the best athletes, the best of everything ever to be found in this world. Not only that, but we export freedom to other parts of the world and we give money, food, and medicine to needy countries. Our medical, scientific, and engineering discoveries save countless lives everywhere in the world.

How can anyone who wishes good for mankind say that our nation is the center of anything bad?

The truth is that organized, dictatorial religions like those under the boot of the Roman See are being displaced by something much better. Man is learning freedom is more powerful in promoting long, happy lives than are death centered religions. The Roman church and most of Christianity are obsessed with dying. To them, nothing we do here matters except how it affects our status after we're dead. While Americans are celebrating life every day, Saint Peter's successor is only thinking of us being dead.

The Roman Catholic church still has a very strong influence of its hey days during the Black Death when one third of its parishoners were killed. It still teaches that women are sexual animals to be shunned by pious men. The Pope leads a religion that only very recently advocated killing the democratically elected government of Spain and its supporters. The current Pope leads a religion that encourages poverty and subservience to despotic Central American regimes. Nice guy.

The man called the Pope is also the looney toon that believes fervently in his own magical powers to drive out demons from people who are "possessed." Most of us laugh at televangelists, but they're no different than this guy in the pointy hat. In fact long before he completely lost his mind from senility, he updated the rite of exorcism. You know, there are a lot of ghosts and goblins out there that need to be chased that are much more important than speaking out against tyrannical regimes. Oooh, look out! There's a ghost behind you! Better find the Pope!

This lump of deathly depravity has repeatedly denounced the United States for bringing freedom to those living under the horror in Iraq. He has joined hands with Muslims and "prayed" with those who would kill Americans because he agrees with them that happiness, prosperity and freedom from oppressive religious control are things to be feared.

The Roman Catholic church destroyed the prosperity of the Roman Empire and brought the dark ages to Europe, a time of mindlessness and absolute social and political control of an entire continent, not unlike what the Taliban wanted in Afghanistan. The dark age ended only after the monopolistic control of Christianity in Europe was broken by the Protestants.

Now there are more Americans who profess a belief in god and worship regularly than in any other nation on earth. It seems that freedom promotes that too. Oh, but wait. These pious Americans don't worship the same way the tyrant in Rome dictates, therefore we must be bad. Maybe if he and his lieutenants weren't playing with the private parts of little boys, they might notice more of their own irrelevence.

If this despicable man thinks that Americans have too much individuality, too much freedom, too much money, and too much happiness, then I say, it's a damn good thing he's over there and we're not under his boot. Let's celebrate our good fortune.

Update 6/4/04: Today the Pope took the occasion of President Bush's visit to him to insult him for the prison abuses that took place in Iraq. I'm among those who are most offended by what happened, but President Bush never condoned what happened there, and indeed has promised that punishment will be meted out.

But the Pope, who thinks that pedophiles, so long as they swear obedience to him, should be protected from the reach of the law and rewarded with cushy jobs, insults a man who comes across the world to pay his respects. I hope that the Pope is never again welcomed at the White House. What nerve!

Tuesday, May 25, 2004

Barn Swallows
They're probably a young pair. Lots of others are in the neighborhood, probably their parents are among them. For the past few years I've been watching these barn swallows swoop up and down the street, putting on a show that would put any dog fighter or air show aerobaticist to shame. Now for the first time a new pair has taken up residence on the eaves over my garage door.


This picture is misleading. It was taken at night but the flash makes it appear to be daytime.
I saw them again the other night. I was leaving home around 2 in the morning and there they were. Two barn swallows snuggled up together fast asleep. They have made a sort of home of the flood lights over the garage door. It's a precarious existence. They have no nest, only a perch.

Around sunrise, when they're awakening, if you open the garage door or walk near them, they will swoop and dart at you, and make little peeping noises, which probably is meant to express their annoyance at you for disturbing them. Maybe this is intimidating to other barn swallows or other small animals, but to someone as large as a person, it's just cute.

I admire these two little birds facing the world alone. They don't know what they're doing or how dangerous their new home could be, but they're facing it together. I expect they will be building a nest soon.

"We defy augury. There is a special providence in the fall of a sparrow. If it be now, 'tis not to come; if it be not to come, it will be now; if it be not now, yet it will come – the readiness is all. Since no man, of aught he leaves, knows what is't to leave betimes, let be." – Shakespeare's Hamlet

Like Hamlet's sparrow, these swallows know not what their lives, and my garage door will bring them. Like these swallows, we don't know what our lives will bring us. Hamlet makes a biblical reference to the sparrow not falling without god willing it, implying that only god knows while man cannot understand why and when.

We can try to divine, or augur what is best in our lives. We can make all the "right" decisions, but still we can be victims of any fate. The athlete is injured, the Iraqi is imprisoned, the engineer is laid off. We can plan our life, but we can't control all the external forces. Hamlet's fatalistic conclusion "let be" is good advice. One should always try to attain "readiness" by planning and striving for good results, but in the end we must accept our fate as it comes to us. We can only play the odds and hope that our plans are adequate.

The barn swallows have chosen their new home without being able to comprehend why a garage door opens and closes. They don't know why their new home may be a poor choice. A swallow with better insight might conclude that they should move. They don't know what this new home will bring them, but they know that they are together, facing the world.

Wednesday, May 19, 2004

I've been very clear in the past and always that I have nothing but deep sympathy for the people who were murdered in New York City, Pennsylvania, and Virginia nearly three years ago by Muslims. I have great sympathy for their families as well, though I never supported the obscene amounts of money they were given by me and the other tax payers. So not only was our nation robbed of these lives, these buildings, and all those records and treasures, but we were additionally punished by having to give these families millions of dollars each. This pandering is unprecedented in the history of our nation.

But I resent the ingrates that are now using the funds that we paid them off with, to commit political smear campaigns against various politicians, most specifically today in the 9/11 commission hearings where they were disruptive and rude to the people responsible for saving thousands of lives that day.

They have a lot of nerve. They do not represent the victims in that attack so much as they are purely partisan hacks.

So let's look at their complaints.
Their rude interruptions were aimed at those who claim that radios weren't working properly and other procedures were not in place that they claim may have saved more lives.

From what I can tell, there may have been some confusion in fighting the fires and dealing with the chaos, but I think that any rational person would expect that. They complain that helicopters didn't rescue people from the roof tops, but it's reasonable to conjecture that landing on a burning building might be just a wee bit hazardous to the aircraft and crew.

Let's face it folks. The ranting ingrates, who were all given so much money that they will never have to work again in their lifetimes, represent nothing except that everything in our nation is now politicized to an extreme not seen in a long time, if ever.

I think we are starting to witness the failure of democratic institutions. I'll do another rant about this in the future in more detail, and I'll just say for now that we are in dire need of a leader who can unite us and distract us from the petty bureaucratic political infighting that has characterized US politics since the late 1980's. If we don't find a leader like that, we are doomed to degenerate into pointless squabbles that will end in our destruction.

We are in a war for the survival of our culture against murderous Islam, a renewal of the ancient war between the two halves of the Roman Empire. We can't afford to lose.

Tuesday, May 18, 2004

Let's not Forget our Successes
There's been a lot of attention paid to the remnants of the Ba'athists in Iraq lately, as there should be, but I thought it's a good time to take a breather and point out some of our success in Afghanistan. I'm not going to comment, except to say that I hope that we keep going and transform this barren land into a beacon of freedom. There's not much that Afghanistan has going for it, but with education and freedom, they will prosper.

And I think this picture is wonderful.

Photo by Melanie Stetson Freeman

Monday, May 17, 2004

The Latest Olympic Joke
The International Olympic Committee has shamed itself again by deciding that freaks that pretend that they are women when they are really men can compete in their tranvestite role.

I don't understand this recent trend to pretend that these people aren't disturbed. I'm sure I'll get hate mail for saying this, but the psychiatric and psychology communities are irresponsible in propping up these confused people and encouraging them to spend so much money on the pretense that they can change what they are. That they have degrees doesn't mean that they make sense. Take a walk through an insane asylum where they do electroshock therapy or observe how many children are being drugged and you too should learn to disregard most of what these "professionals" say.

You are what you are. You can't choose what you are. If some people are having whiny problems with getting along with others, the solution is to understand why they are losers, not to perpetuate their confusion by making them pretend to be what they can never be.

Okay, so some freaks like to dress up as women, and they find the money to dress up as women in a very expensive and surgical way. It's a free country. I'm sorry that they are freaks, and being free includes having the freedom to be a freak. But it doesn't include the freedom to inflict their confusion on the rest of us who have no doubt as to what they are.

I remember growing up and hearing the stories that the Russians and their satellite nations were fielding female athletes that were taking hormones to make them perform better. In the politics of the cold war, this was the butt of many jokes about the nature of their women, but it seemed natural then and now to limit the intake of hormones and performance enhancing drugs.

So what is the difference between a man who chops off his pecker to compete as a woman, and a woman who takes hormones to enhance her performance.

The IOC is clearly dominated by politically correct weenies who are more interested in placating the sensibilities of freaks and their freakish supporters than in nurturing a truly amateur athletic competition.

Saturday, May 15, 2004

Briseis was a Lesbian
Rage – Goddess, sing the rage of Peleus' son Achilles,
Murderous, doomed, that cost the Achaeans countless losses,
hurling down to the House of Death so many sturdy souls,
great fighters' souls, but made their bodies carrion,
feasts for the dogs and birds,
and the will of Zeus was moving toward its end.
Begin, Muse, when the two first broke and clashed,
Agamemnon lord of men and brilliant Achilles.

I watched the movie "Troy" yesterday with great hopes for seeing The Poet's immortal work come to life. With the excellent cast and after seeing what a fine job the movie industry did with The Lord of the Rings trilogy, I was hoping for an intelligent treatment of one of my favorite works of literature. And yet, despite its many good points, I left the cinema convinced that Hollywood is incapable of understanding great literature. Every Hollywood attempt to make a Tolkein movie was a disaster and it took a colossal effort in New Zealand for Peter Jackson to come close to recreating Middle Earth.

Like Peter Jackson's The Lord of the Rings, Troy has parts that are good and parts that are bad. Unfortunately, there are just too many bad parts in Troy. For starters, Briseis is made to be a Trojan and a member of Priam's extended family. Yet in the original story she was captured in Lyrnessus but originally comes from Lesbos. The movie made her some sort of temple priestess or devotee, but this is all bunk and not supported. I'm all in favor of simplifying a story to make it fit the cinematic format, but they ruined the entire relationship with Achilles and Briseis. Since she is the whole purpose for Achilles' sitting out the war, and thus the cause of Patroclus' death, it pretty much sets the stage for ruining the story line.
Where do I begin my complaints of this movie?

It's typical of the denizens of Hollywood to not understand the importance of male-female relationships. Briseis, which is Greek for "daughter of Briseus" and we don't know that she had her own name, Briseis is described as having a deep love for Achilles and he for her, yet this is all dismissed as a one night stand. I sometimes wonder if people in Hollywood even understand long term relationships and real love because they only seem capable of explaining love in terms of short term carnality. The idea that Achilles might have a mature capability for love is completely dismissed and Briseis is likewise dismissed as a woman that is only won over by a hop in the sack.

Many have commented on the lack of gods taking part in the story. I think this is regrettable, but I can understand leaving out the gods to keep the story simpler. I agree with simplification, I despise altering the story and the characters.

For instance, the movie has Hector kill Menelaus. How can that be? Menelaus survives the war and is an important part of the Odyssey. (By the way, where did they get these name pronunciations? It's "men-e-LAY-us", and it doesn't rhyme with mouse. It's Pr-eye-am, not Pree-am. Sheesh. Oh well, the spelling and pronunciation of Greek words and names is an on going debate.)

One of the popular things to do is to say that Achilles and Patroclus were homosexual lovers. This is also bunk, even if it is very, very old bunk. This nonsense started about three hundred years after the story was written, but there is no basis for this claim in the Homeric version of the story and no reason for it. I'm so glad that this Brad Pitt version of Achilles wasn't made into a bisexual. I suspect this has less to do with a desire for keeping to the story, and more to do with the image that Brad Pitt wishes to project as an actor.

There were also numerous other pointless errors, like one time they referred to the "port of Sparta." Since Sparta was located in the middle of the mountains of the Peloponnesian peninsula, that's a rather strange term to use. Why did they do that? What was the point?

Here's the gist of my complaint with the movie. This Iliad is a long, complex story with many themes, but just as the Odyssey can be distilled down to a story about the obligation of hosts to guests and guests to hosts, so the Iliad can be distilled down to a story about the honor and rage of Achilles.

Many of the details that were changed in this movie so distort this theme that I wonder if anyone literate even lives in Hollywood. Just like when the writers of The Lord of the Rings movies were weakest when they deigned to add to the story with their pathetically weak understanding of Tolkein's themes, so the writers of Troy failed when they deigned to dither with the greatest story told in 2800 years.

The story goes like this: Achilles was one of several kings of the Greeks recruited by Agamemnon to fight in the war against Priam, king of Troy, who was not Greek. During the first nine years of the war, Achilles' army of the Myrmidons (which was the largest contingent among the Greeks, not a platoon of fifty as shown in the movie) sacked Lyrnessus and captured Briseis and gave her as a reward to Achilles. Back then it was considered a good thing to sack cities.

Briseis, although a prisoner initially, became Achilles' consort and loved him deeply. This was no frivolous one night stand under duress as portrayed in the movie. When Agamemnon took her, Achilles response was to refuse to allow his army to fight with the Greeks anymore. While they were preparing to leave Troy, the Greeks were attacked and pushed back to their ships by the Trojans.

Missing from the movie is the extraordinary offer made by Agamemnon through the embassy of Ajax and Odysseus. Here is the amazing offer made (feel free to skip to the last few lines):

before you all, I'll name in full the splendid gifts I offer.
Seven tripods never touched by fire, ten bars of gold,
twenty burnished cauldrons, a dozen massive stallions,
racers who earned me trophies with their speed.
He is no poor man who owns what they have won,
not strapped for goods with all that lovely gold –
what trophies those high-strung horses carried off for me!
Seven women I'll give him, flawless, skilled in crafts,
women of Lesbos – the ones I chose, my privilege,
that day he captured the Lesbos citadel himself:
they outclassed the tribes of women in their beauty.
These I will give, and along with them will go
the one I took away at first, Briseus' daughter [Briseis is the daughter of Briseus]
and I will swear a solemn, binding oath in the bargain:
I never mounted her bed, never once made love with her –
the natural thing for mankind, men and women joined.
Now all these gifts will be handed him at once.
But if, later, the gods allow us to plunder
the great city of Priam, let him enter in
when we share the spoils, load the holds of his ship
with gold and bronze – as much as his heart desires –
and choose for his pleasure twenty Trojan women
second only to Argive Helen in their glory.
And then, if we can journey home to Achaean Argos,
pride of the breasting earth, he'll be my son-by-marriage!
I will even honor him on a par with my Orestes,
full-grown by now, reared in the lap of luxury.
Three daughters are mine in my well-built halls —
Chrysothemis and Laodice and Iphianassa —
and he may lead away whichever one he likes,
with no bride-price asked, home to Peleus' house.
And I will add a dowry, yes a magnificent treasure
the likes of which no man has ever offered with his daughter!
Seven citadels I will give him, filled with people,
Cardamyle, Enope, and the grassy slopes of Hire,
Pherae the sacrosanct, Anthea deep in meadows,
rolling Aepea and Pedasus green with vineyards.
All face the sea at the far edge of sandy Pylos
and the men who live within them, rich in sheep-flocks,
rich in shambling cattle, will honor him like a god
with hoards of gifts and beneath his scepter's sway
live out his laws in sleek and shining peace.

All this
I would extend to him if he will end his anger.
Let him submit to me!

That's quite an offer and I quoted it entirely to show how rich it was. But the last line is the kicker. Achilles was no brooding brat as portrayed in the movie. He was a good man, and honorable man. No man has ever lived with such a fine sense of honor. Wisely, Odysseus left out the last line when he repeated the offer to Achilles, but Achilles wasn't fooled. He knew that accepting this gift, this bribe, from Agamemnon would mean forsaking his honor and he refused to do it.

And that is the crux of the whole story. Instead this is missing from the movie and all we see is Odysseus coming by to chat with Achilles and ask nicely for him to fight. They really make Achilles look bad, like a deserter.

I'm also offended by the fact that Patroclus' body was not stripped of its armor in the movie. In Homer's tale Achilles had to wait until morning to avenge his death while his mother had another set of armor made for him. This is a very dramatic point in the story that was completely left out.

Then after the death of Patroclus, and the donning of new armor, Achilles explodes in a killing spree that is climaxed by the fight with Hector. I fail to understand how you can make a movie about the Iliad and leave out the most dramatic parts where Achilles kills and kills and kills without remorse, without pity, and without relenting.

But then, I guess the mindset of Hollywood is to make war and killing seem evil despite that it was considered a great compliment to be called a sacker of cities by Homer. Hollywood seems to refuse to consider that others have different outlooks on the world. Even their portrayal of Hector is slightly twisted. Hector as a family man is presented quite well, after all this is what Hollywood excels in, but they've even robbed Hector of his warring spirit by translating his "nicknames" peacefully. Usually, Hector is called "Breaker of Horses" because Troy was famous for its horses, but the movie calls him "Tamer of Horses." It kind of lacks the same punch, don't you think?

Also, Hector is repeatedly described as having a "flashing helmet" but they give him a dull iron helmet. Iron was invented between the waging of the war and the writing of the Iliad, so there are many confused references to iron in Homer's work, and he frequently misunderstands the use of chariots and other weapons are presented anachronistically, but I think with the epithet of "flashing helmet" they could have given him a shiny bronze age helmet, or even a shiny iron helmet with a magnificent horse hair plume on it.

I guess what it all comes down to is that the story is too complex for a two and a half hour telling. Just as Peter Jackson insisted on ten hours to tell Tolkein's tale, a truly worthwhile cinematic telling of the Iliad needs more than the short time it was given.

I'm disappointed. Not only because the movie bordered on being bad, not only because of distortions to the story that should never have been added by the mental pygmies in Hollywood, but mostly that another opportunity was lost. The greatest story ever told has lived for 2800 years because it's brilliant. I don't see any reason to tamper with a success. Now, modern sentiments and cliches are added to a watered down and distorted version. This movie won't be remembered for very long. Or let's hope not anyway. Briseis was a Lesbian, not a Trojan, and they've ruined the story of her love and her plight.

Tuesday, May 11, 2004

Am I the Only One Who Understands "Shock and Awe?"
The Iraqi War started in early 2003 with a "shock and awe" campaign. It was never clearly stated what that exactly was, and with all the hype given to the Mother Of All Bombs (MOAB). I thought it was clear to all but the most infantile idiots that there was no substance to the shock and awe promise. Even now that the offensive part of the war is over and the Hussein regime is toppled, people frequently refer to "shock and awe" like it was really something worth talking about.

Even people who should know better use the term "shock and awe" as though it were more than what it was. This month's U.S. Naval Institute's Proceedings magazine has an article by Col Dana, the plans officer for the 3d Marine Division, where he uses the title "Shock and Awe has Failed" in an article about a future conflict with China and bemoaning that our strategy of relying on overwhelming precision guided munitions has failed.

With all due respect to the good colonel, I think he's missed the boat.
I won't dispute Col. Dana's thesis that China is focusing on unrestricted warfare in its war plans. China is clearly the biggest immediate threat to our survival. Islam is a long term threat to our survival and the most evident threat to our immediate safety, but they haven't the means to threaten our survival for a long, long time. That China is planning for unrestricted warfare against us is frankly only prudent of them and not a big cause for alarm in and of itself. I disagree with Col. Dana's characterization of Asian mentality as he presented it. It is stereotyping and mildly racist to say that Asian culture is capable of more nuanced understanding of the world's events than are we. But this is not my point.

My point is that I thought it was obvious how the war against Iraq was waged that the "shock and awe" portion was a feint. How anyone can miss this from the events that unfolded is hard to fathom.

The war was preceded by a lot of big talk. The press releases about the MOAB were suspicious to me. Why would we publicize the creation of such a powerful non-nuclear bomb? When was the last time we did that? I didn't even notice when this poorly guided weapon might have been used in this war. I'm not saying it wasn't used, but its employment certainly didn't stand out, despite the attention paid to this weapon before the war started.

Once the war started, we saw a lot of precision bombs being dropped, but the psychological impact of lots of bombs to shock and awe anyone never materialized. In fact, shock and awe is completely antithetical to the whole principle behind precision guided munitions. Precision is the ability to destroy only what is desired, that is, only legitimate targets with little to no collateral damage. Shock and Awe implies the opposite, the desire to inflict terror on a population by creating spectacular visual and otherwise perceived bombing attacks. No one was shocked and no one was awed unless they were a target, and if they were a target, it's highly unlikely that they survived.

So what was shock and awe, then? I think it was clearly a feint. In the previous war against Iraq, our ground invasion took place only after a long bombing campaign. By promising shock and awe, we were telling Hussein that the same plan was in place. But instead of a long bombing campaign, we invaded immediately with only a quick, and unplanned, strike on a building he was thought to be in, and a highly focused simultaneous bombing campaign against carefully selected command and control facilities.

So the war began with an immediate land invasion and the Saddamitic army was caught with its pants down. Among other absurdities I've heard, I once listened to a self-proclaimed and pompous expert on national public radio right after the war reached Baghdad tell us listeners that we only won the war because Saddam was a tactical idiot. He based this on the fact that Saddam didn't defend key passes very well.

Yet, I think it's more accurate to say that Saddam sought to protect his army from annihilation from a US bombing campaign by hiding them within cities. I'm sure part of his plan was to wait out the bombing campaign of shock and awe and then deploy his army only once the invasion began, if it ever did. But he was completely fooled. Partly because he was fooled into hiding his army within cities, our army was able to enter Iraq and advance more rapidly than any army in history. While we were advancing at a pace of hundreds of miles a day, he was struggling to deploy his key units out of their protective positions and into key terrain defensive positions. It's no wonder that his army balked at meeting ours when they saw how fast we moved against them.

Shock and awe was nothing. The bombing campaign in the first Iraqi War was more impressive by a long shot. Creating the name "shock and awe" was nothing more than a psyops tactic to conjure images of the fallacy of Billy Mitchell's and Giullio Douhet's crackpot theory of winning wars solely through aerial bombardment. It's a credit to our general staff that they rejected this kooky theory and exploited its past popularity with such stunning results.

Shock and Awe never existed. It was only in the minds of our enemy, and apparently in the mind of everyone else that wasn't paying attention.

Thursday, May 06, 2004

Responsibility, Authority, and Power
In naval aviation they say there is no such thing as an accident, they prefer to call them mishaps. This is mostly semantics, but the idea is that things don't go wrong by pure happenstance. If a plane has a mishap, it's either because maintenance was improper or was not sufficient for the aircraft's condition (either a fault of the maintenance program or the maintainers failed to follow the program), or the aircrew made a poor decision or action, or the mechanical design of the aircraft was insufficient for the conditions, among many other reasons. Most of the time there are multiple failures required to happen before a mishap can occur. For instance, the plane crash might occur because the aluminum wing was poorly cast, a maintenance tech didn't find some corrosion on the wing root, and the pilot exceeded the maximum recommended number of G forces. If any of the above failures didn't occur, the wings wouldn't have fallen off the airplane in flight, but the most critical in this case was the poor casting that caused the corrosion in the first place.

I think this is a really good analogy for what happened in Abu Ghraib with the abused prisoners. Just like the example I cited above, there were many things that contributed to the break down in discipline. But also just like the example there is one fundamental reason why the break down started. Her name is Brigadier General Karpinski.

I'm a firm believer that you can often tell a book by its cover and you can tell what kind of officer Karpinski is from her public actions after this has come out.

A good general would never have allowed such behavior to occur. That's not because the general should be omnipresent or omniscient. That's impossible. But a good general knows how to inspect her troops, her facilities, and her over all command to ensure that discipline is maintained. A good general knows how to demand that subordinate officers observe the law and proper behavior. A good general does her job.

But we can tell that General Karpinski is not a good general and it is obvious that she failed as a general. This is obvious from the results obtained of prisoners being abused so openly.

As if the results weren't clear enough, General Karpinski has clarified her incompetence with subsequent public statements and appearances on television news channels. With behavior that would make any upstanding person blush, she has blamed everyone for actions committed under her command. Not once have I heard this woman say that she failed. Had she been half as good a general as any of the Marine generals or navy admirals I've known (I'd say army too, but I don't have any experience with the army) then this would never have happened.

It's not a mistake that these troops abused these prisoners. It's a result of General Karpinski's incompetence as a leader. If she exercised the leadership role that her oath required of her then this could not have happened. This wasn't just a single person with a momentary lapse of judgment, this required a breakdown of discipline at all levels. If those troops knew that their behavior would not be overlooked, they would never have done this.

The greatest evidence for her incompetence is her refusal to take responsibility for her own command. I find this repulsive. In all my career as an officer of Marines, I insisted on the blame if anything went wrong in my sections, because if I didn't accept the blame for things going wrong then I could hardly claim even a part of the credit when things go right. And that's how it works. You never get all the credit, but you always shoulder most of the blame. That anyone can become a general officer and not understand this amazes me.

I'm getting sick of people pooh poohing this issue. Now, just like with LtCol West, people who should know better are saying that this is a necessary part of war. What rot. These were people out of control. Those prisoners were not being handled by professionals trying to extract information. These abusers were acting on their own like a bunch of frat boys at South Padre Island or Fort Lauderdale on spring break. Amateurs, juveniles, monsters.

General officers in a war zone have more power than anyone in our nation except for commanding officers of ships at sea. General Karpinski had the absolute power of life and death over her command. She created an atmosphere for these monsters by failing to use the awesome power given to her. She should be thrown in the brig along with the soldiers who committed these crimes.

(By the way, here's an enlightening news article written in December where Karpinski claims to be very active in knowing the conditions of every prison cell. "At least once every three months, Karpinski tries to visit each prison, although she scaled back a bit as attacks against the coalition increased." Frankly for someone in charge of 15 prisons and getting them started from scratch, this is pathetic. If I were responsible for 15 prisons being established in a less than a year, I'd be visiting them a lot more often than that.)

The cavalier treatment of prisoners must stop. The policy of coercive interrogations, the obvious attempts to try and circumvent the Geneva Convention by labeling prisoners of war as other than what they are, and the now commonplace acceptance of maltreatment of prisoners must end. After all, if your son or daughter are captured, you should demand that they are well treated too.

We've lost the moral high ground. It wasn't an accident, it was from a failure to responsibly use power and authority and many seem to think that's okay.

Sunday, May 02, 2004

Another Way to Look at Fallujah
Via Glenn Reynolds at the Instapundit, I've learned of a blog called Belmont Club that has this very detailed analysis of what has happened in Fallujah. I don't usually like to just post links to other sites, but I make occasional exceptions in the case of such brilliantly written pieces that are so different from my own thoughts.

I suspect that this is presented correctly, but I still think the Marines or someone has flubbed up the extremely important public perception of what happened if this account is true. Not only must we win in Iraq, it's important that our enemies know we've won too.

Read Belmont Club's analysis. It's important, and I encourage you to read it fully.
End of Rant

Saturday, May 01, 2004

Cutting and Running
I don't know who these raggedy people are watching the Marine armor leaving Fallujah, but they're watching the worst news out of Iraq we've had yet.

I don't know who made this decision to pull our Marines out of an engaged battle, I don't understand why they made that decision, but it scares me unlike any other event we've seen yet. That's because it tells our enemy that no matter how desperate their situation gets, all they have to do is kill a few Americans and we will cut and run.
Early in the battle for Fallujah, the Marines had the enemy cornered, and were killing them by the score. Victory was near at hand, but someone in charge got squeamish. The Marines were ordered to halt their offensive while "negotiations" with some unnamed entity were conducted. While we pulled back, the enemy regrouped, rearmed, and began probing our positions, picking off Marines piecemeal while we could only conduct punitive raids and defensive actions.

This is like Korea and Viet Nam all over again.

War is about killing people. War isn't pretty. The worst way to wage war is to not wage it totally. Not only have we encouraged the enemy to resist, we have now taught the entire world that the United States, again, doesn't like it when times get tough. All our enemies have to do is kill one or two Americans a day and we will withdraw our troops no matter how much we overpower the enemy.

It's all very simple. Either we are in the right, or we are not. If we are wrong to wage this war then we should pull out. But we are not wrong. This war must be waged for moral reasons and we must win it for our survival. Why are we taking half measures? Why do we care about international reactions from peoples that already have shown that they hate us?

We are on the moral high ground. All others be damned.

This stinks of politics. This stinks of army bureaucracy. This stinks of do-gooder, feel-good decision makers. This stinks of the state department and the Squeamish Colin Powell. The army was responsible for Fallujah for a year and was unwilling to go in and clean it out. The Marines swore to take care of the problem when they took over and were in the process of doing just that. Now they have been stopped by someone.

I want the name of the decision maker. I want him to know that he has just wasted American lives. I want him to realize that putting a Baathist general in charge of pacifying Fallujah is the worst blunder we have made in this war yet. Nothing good will come of this. We have created another militia and we have told the world that we aren't willing to fight. We can never trust this Baathist general to destroy our enemy.

What is most likely to happen is that these Baathist holdouts and foreign mercenaries will not be destroyed, they will merely fall back and wait for their next opportunity.

Who was the idiot that made this decision?

I've said it before, not in this forum but elsewhere, that I am a one issue voter. Whoever can promise to destroy the biggest part of Islamic radical culture will get my vote. I've suddenly become concerned that Bush is not the best answer. I need a third party war hawk candidate. I know this war will last a long time. Decisions like this one early on will mean the difference between 2 generations or 20 generations. Emboldening our enemy like this is disastrous.