Postmodern classic?

Monday, November 28, 2005

'Executive Summary'

Under Senate Pressure, Bush Reveals Iraq Strategy
by Scott Ott

(2005-11-16) — In the wake of yesterday’s 79-19 Senate vote to force President George Bush to lay out his strategy to end the war in Iraq, the White House today issued what it called ‘pre-emptive compliance’.

“Even though this Senate bill isn’t law yet,” said White House spokesman Scott McClellan, “The president didn’t want the Congress, especially our Republican brethren who sponsored this measure, to wallow in ignorance about our strategy in Iraq.”

The Bush administration sent the following message to Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, R-TN, with a request that it be distributed to all members of Congress.

United States Iraq Strategy
1. Kill terrorists.
2. Train Iraqi forces to kill terrorists.
3. Help Iraqis build schools and infrastructure.
4. Leave behind first democracy in Arab world.

The White House spokesman said an ‘executive summary’ of the strategy would be available later today for Senators who don’t have time to read the full document.

Sunday, November 27, 2005

The perils of cosmopolitanism

Cosmopolitanism: my definition is that of an identification with an international interest that transcends the local/national. Historically, this has been part of the appeal of leftist/communist movements, but one can appreciate it when they consider the shortcomings of their own country.

David Ignatius in the WaPo this morning had an echo of this, but luckily there is a reply. Someone to logically refute this defeatist nonsense. I remember hearing that crap at school, or abroad from foreigners or even my own brow-beaten countrymen: the US is the cause of the worlds problems, no one likes us, etc... Let me be clear, my country isn't perfect and I'm willing to discuss that. But nonetheless, and in a respectful manner, that doesn't mean I will unquestioningly bow to someone else's perceived grievance.

Via Glenn Greenwald, blogging from Brazil:

"While such trends may be upsetting to some, they cannot reasonably be used to argue that American foreign policy is misguided. Any nation would be acting foolishly, and self-destructively, if it allowed its foreign policy to be guided by the threat perceptions of people in other countries. When it comes to facing the profound threat posed to American interests by Islamic extremism, it is naturally the case that people in other countries will view the danger posed by that threat as being less serious and important than Americans perceive it to be."

If the Israeli's had listened to the sanctimonious UN or Europe, where would they be now? No, instead we must accept the idea that people can disagree and still work together. The idea of a harmonious world is a relic of utopian communist propaganda. If you're not part of the solution, chances are you are part of the problem.

There are some things that are worth disagreeing over. As is often said, read the whole thing.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Iraq and Vietnam

I've been trying for some time now to write a comparison between Iraq and Vietnam, but with the fast pace of the information era, someone beat me to it. Fortunately, they're far better qualified than myself.

Richard Miniter has a 2-part series (pt. 1, pt. 2) at At The American Thinker, J. Peter Mulhern paints a cynical view that, no matter the current policy, we're in Iraq to stay if only because no one wants to be responsible for 'the next terrorist attack on our country'. Some might disagree with that conclusion, but I happen to think it is quite accurate.

Strategically, tactically- Vietnam and Iraq are different. But their impact on American society is less so. My understanding of the polarization of that time has led me to believe that we are again struggling with the question of will. Domestically here in the US, there is an ambivalence to the exercise of military strength abroad. For right or wrong (count me in for wrong), we thought it would be best to withdraw our aid from South Vietnam in the misguided belief our intervention was only hurting them. Now we are fighting in another foreign country again, can we support that?

We can. We're not willing to give it all up just yet, and enough people know it.

Friday, November 18, 2005

Criticisms of the United States Iraq policy

So my moratorium on politics lasted all of 3-4 hours. Sue me. Back to Iraq.

The best logical framework for understanding the US strategy in Iraq, in my humble opinion, is Steven Den Beste's 20-page treatise. Tigerhawk recently wrote a commentary on this, providing a 2-year update of this tract, factoring in recent developments to the progress of the war. These are excellent articulations for providing a glimpse of what our nations planners and experts are calculating in their execution of ongoing operations in the Middle East. Both, however, are quite long- therefore an interested person with limited time might just go to the Tigerhawk link, but the SDB link is there if you want the original document.

These writings are a far cry from what I've seen anybody on the opposite side produce. There's this Atlantic article by Nir Rosen talking about why the locals are unsatisfied. It's summed up at John Robb's Weblog here, but it's really quite weak. I only offer it as what I could find and maybe I don't know where to look, I don't want to falsefully represent these articles as the best an opposing point of view would offer. That would be a strawman argument. Here's a Larry Johnson on 'Why Murtha is Right', providing an emotional indictment to Murtha's emotional outburst. Although it's not such a surprise that Murtha spoke out, as some have noted already. I characterize his words as emotional, and not the framework for a rational discussion on the future of the US in Iraq. Others with military backgrounds seem to agree. Why not ask someone who's there, since evidently (according to Chickenhawk Theory 101) those who haven't served can't have an opinion on war? For my part, when I hear someone advocating 400,00 troops, I have to really wonder whether that's a realistic possibility. Are they just stupid, or do they really believe the crap that comes out of their mouth? Both conclusions are sad to consider. But no one seems to care about that, it's the cheap shots this rhetoric affords political opponents of the Bush administration. The message then, it seems to me, is that the subjects of our countries goals and means to accomplish them are of secondary interest to cheap political power-plays. This is where I qualify my idealist credentials in rejecting that line of thought as juvenile. But we sadly see that this is the normal state of things, as abstract principles and ideals such as 'civilization' must be fought for at their level as well.

Where is there a forum for an honest criticism of the war? I am open to an honest critique. I would love to discuss the 'root causes' of terrorism, or the past history of the US and the Middle East, the ramifications of colonialism.... you might not like the conclusions I draw, but my arguments are mostly coherent. Mostly. And I've been lucky to have friends and family call me out when I sound like I'm smoking crack. However, I've been having a hard time in trying to have an honest discussion about the whole subject. Many who oppose the war don't seem capable of arguing in good faith, so it's difficult to find a common ground. Tigerhawk also had this post on Democratic Dissent, which if you read nothing else I've linked to in this post, you should definitely check this out.

For me, I see something more philosophical amidst the arcane topical arguments of dissent, Middle Eastern politics and the military misunderstandings that consist of the conventional arguments of the day. To me the argument is of will in the Nietzschean sense, the problem being how does one impose oneself on another? Whether it's submitting to the democratic process or fighting a war, one must be prepared for the consequences that any action entails. Our current ideologies and outlooks are not sufficient to explain why and how this should occur. But since not many people are interested in that, I'll restrict myself to complaining about moralizing politicians, and continue my support of Bush (if only because the alternative is so much worse!).

Back in the USA

For a few weeks. Just getting used to things and I come back, takes forever to get out of that place. 4 days, about. Waiting...

There's a lot going on here in domestic politics. Murtha's (D-Pa) denouncement of the war, the new Bob Woodward revelation, bla bla bla. The only thing worth reading is Michael Yon's coverage of the Deuce Four redeploying to Fort Lewis. Besides that, nothing else is worth commenting on. Maybe I'm not cut out to be a political scientist... but if that means shutting up, forget it!

Monday, November 14, 2005

Where have you been?

create your own visited countries map

This cool website lets you display all the countries you've been to- obviously I'm happy to post my new additions in the Middle East. Next year I hope to post some more as well.

I hope this one displays better in Mozilla, the previous one doesn't seem to encode properly but I'll play with it to see if I can fix it. Otherwise, just use Internet Explorer.

Saturday, November 12, 2005

Funny action hero quiz- who are you?

You scored as Indiana Jones. Indiana Jones is an archaeologist/adventurer with an unquenchable love for danger and excitement. He travels the globe in search of historical relics. He loves travel, excitement, and a good archaeological discovery. He hates Nazis and snakes, perhaps to the same degree. He always brings along his trusty whip and fedora. He's tough, cool, and dedicated. He relies on both brains and brawn to get him out of trouble and into it.



Indiana Jones


Captain Jack Sparrow


Batman, the Dark Knight


Neo, the "One"


James Bond, Agent 007


William Wallace


Lara Croft


The Amazing Spider-Man


The Terminator


El Zorro


Which Action Hero Would You Be? v. 2.0
created with

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Morning in Al Anbar province

Wonder if this photo'll ever come through, took it the other morning on my way to breakfast. Due to our limited bandwidth, I've been having problems downloading. Okay, good.

At night there is often a glow in the distance, either of trash burning or sometimes (like last night) a firefight in the distance. It might have been training, but not confirmed yet. There wasn't outgoing fire at the time, so it's possible.

Anyhow, out here is a peculiar mix of desert and agriculture. Went through the local city nearby, it was almost a nice place... that which hadn't been leveled by the Marines. Further west is just vast desert. Still, the sand is everywhere, gets in everything.

Going home in less than a week due to an odd leave arrangement. Didn't have time to arrange other more extensive trips and besides, next year my stateside travel will be limited. We'll see what happens, won't we!

Friday, November 04, 2005

On the move again

The Aussies doing some drills down at the old parade ground of Saddam's. Evidently the first part of their deployment they were stuck in garrison mostly, now they're pretty happy to come out and run around. Often see them out on patrols.

Well, about to leave lovely Baghdad for the scenic 'West', as in the 'Wild, Wild' type. I'm told it's 'Injun country' out there. More accurately, another friend called it the 'heartland of the Sunni insurgency'.

I've been meeting some interesting characters here, from all over. Quite an odd lot, but it takes one to know one. I was able to start doing some work, getting to know the place while I waited to leave, now I'll be in transit for a little while again.