Friday, December 31, 2004

What Went Wrong?

Heres a good question I get from time to time- "What went wrong with the plan for Iraq?"

It's a fair question, but I do think that people today lack a true understanding of the nature of war. There seems to be very little historical perspective these days. Everybody wants a "quick and dirty" smackdown followed by immediate withdrawal. "War is fine as long as nobody gets hurt." It just doesn't work like that- in fact, it's never worked like that. As a people, I think we Americans have become a little bit spoiled in that sense. Having said that, I do think there were some "miscalculations" made in this war- here's my take on it...

When I was home between tours, I saw a Bill O' Reilly segment where he boasted that he had the "real scoop" on what went wrong with the pre-war planning. His premise- "Chalabi said the Iraqis would welcome us as liberators and immediately take charge of their country and yadda yadda." But the Iraqis didn't do this- and disaster followed. Well, Bill was close- but he way oversimplified it, and he made no effort to talk about what we were doing to fix it- which was a little disappointing coming from Bill. And I'm not sure why he continues to call the current situation a "disaster" (compared to what, Bill?), but I digress...

It is true that we were mislead by the "uberintellectual" Iraqis (Chalabi is the most often cited), but my experience tells me that these people (even Chalabi) were not lying. They actually believed that the Iraqi people would rise up, thank us, take charge, and live happily ever after. This was an elitist view. Most of these "elites" were exiles who could speak freely and give us their honest assessment- some were Iraqi citizens who were using the Internet and communicating their thoughts at great risk to their own lives. In any case, they were all well-educated, but they proved to be pretty out of touch with the less-educated masses.

Saddam never took many polls during his reign, and I'd be pretty skeptical about any that he did take since he won every "election" by a 100% margin (uncontested of course- they were all "Saddam- yes or no"). He certainly never took a poll that asked "OK, Mr. Joe Iraqi- the US invades and chases me out of power. What will you do?" The fact is nobody really knew what they would do, and so the only thing we (or anybody else) had to go on was the assessment given to us by the Iraqi elites.

As I mentioned, the elites were convinced that Iraqis would stand up for "love of country" and unite against evil. They were wrong. Sure, there were some brave souls who did exactly what was expected- but for the most part, "Joe Iraqi" wanted food for his family and he'd prefer not to be killed. That was pretty much it. He'd grown used to the idea that if he keeps his mouth shut and does nothing, then he's got a better chance of living. The insurgents reinforce this idea several times every day (just watch the news).

In retrospect, I'd say it's pretty silly to think that the overwhelming majority of Iraqis would have had this great "love of country," since the overwhelming majority were brutally oppressed by this country's government for the better part of 30 years. Nobody's going to love such a country. We would have done well to understand that these Iraqis needed a whole new country to love- and it takes a great deal of time to build a whole new country. But I won't fault those who didn't realize this initially- I sure didn't see it. I read books and all that- and I believed Chalabi and the gang. Hindsight is indeed 20/20.

Many Iraqi "intellectuals" were still in denial, even after the invasion. I remember in the first months of the occupation- whenever a car bomb went off or insurgents slaughtered civilians in a school yard, the Iraqi professors that I worked with would say, "They're not Iraqis. Iraqi people simply wouldn't do that"- they just couldn't fathom that Iraqi people would do such things. Well, now we know better.

Sure, there are terrorists from foreign lands in the mix. But there are many Iraqis who are fighting in this insurgency as well- and most of these insurgents (re: terrorists) are serving former regime officials and terrorist thugs like Zarqawi for the very reasons that Dr. Harari spelled out for us- "they promise them the delights, mostly sexual, of the next world, and pay their families handsomely after the supreme act is performed and enough innocent people are dead." But there is also another element here- intimidation. Many Iraqis are forced to make a choice for which they are ill-informed to make- side with the Coalition/IIG, and the insurgents might kill me- side with the insurgency, and the Americans might kill me. Unfortunately, many Iraqis believe that their odds are better if they side with the insurgency. Watch Al Jazeera or (even worse) read any news article from the Associated Press, and you'll understand why they believe this. It's not just the propaganda coming from radical clerics and former Saddamites- it's propaganda (under the pretense of "news") that comes to them from our very own United States of America. Furthermore, Americans won't threaten a man's family if he doesn't join the Iraqi National Guard or agree to "sell out" a terrorist financier. Insurgent leaders, however, will execute a man's entire family just for making a financial transaction with Americans. This is pure intimidation, and it works better than we'd like to think.

Iraq's long term success will be defined by improvement in education, the economy, infrastructure, etc. These are super-long term projects, and they won't have any real impact on whether or not we can get out of Iraq in the next 5-10 years. The only thing that's going to get us out of Iraq sooner than later is improved security. What the Iraqis need right now are courageous leaders to step up and lead these people out of this "beaten-down in the dark ages" mentality. These leaders exist in Iraq- they step up every day at great peril to their own lives. Assassinations are rampant. It's bloody and it's ugly. Sort of like a revolution. This is what's happening. Good people like Ali and the guys at Iraq the Model are shining examples of why there is indeed hope.

I will tell you that our greatest hope for improved security in Iraq is a little-known operation based in Baghdad- LTG Petraeus and his Multinational Security Transition Command- Iraq (MSTC-I). Petraeus isn't just churning out thousands of Iraqi troops- his focus is on creating Iraqi versions of George Washington, Dwight Eisenhower, and George S. Patton. He's producing leaders- people that Iraqi soldiers (and Iraqi people) can look up to, admire, respect, and believe in. This hasn't even come into play yet, but it will- sooner than you think. It's the most important project that we have going on there- Colin Powell said it yesterday on Fox News- did anyone catch it? Didn't think so. It's like a big secret that everyone's telling, but nobody's hearing. Stay tooned, because I think this is about to change. I used to work for LTG Petraeus, and I believe he will succeed in this mission- he has never failed at anything. Just watch...

Your Support is Killing Us!

Thanks to Sparkle for directing my attention to one Jeff McMahon of Rutgers:

Vehicles in New Jersey are covered with decals representing little ribbons inscribed with the legend: "Support Our Troops." I have done a lot of driving recently and have noticed geographical disparities in the distribution of these symbols. There are fewer in the Midwest and very few at all in the LA area. They are also disproportionately displayed on SUVs and vans, which isn't surprising given that the owners are disproportionately reliant on the oil supplies that our soldiers are in Iraq to protect (among their other purposes).

What is it exactly that these decals exhort us to do? How can I, or anyone, support the troops themselves? What can we possibly do for them? It seems that the message is really an exhortation to support the war. Why then don't we ever see bumper stickers urging us more straightforwardly to support the war? It seems dishonest, manipulative, and coercive to assert an equivalence between support for a war and support for the participants in the war. The aim of such an effort is to make it seem that to criticize the war is to criticize our young soldiers and perhaps to increase their peril by weakening the war effort.

I'll say nothing. Please feel free to visit him and sound off with your comments. Many people already have...

Update: Jeff shut off the comments on that post. Couldn't take the heat? Hey, you can still email Rutgers!

Let's Hear It For the Youngsters!

In 2008, these young kids will be old enough to vote. Be afraid, Hillary. Be very afraid!


Thursday, December 30, 2004

Tsunami Help

This is looking to be the worst disaster of our time. I just found this site. I'm sure lots of people want to help.

Liberal Voice in Iraq

It's not what you think, I promise! This guy is a "real" liberal- much different than the "fake" liberals that you'd find in Hollywood (end controversial potshot). He believes in helping people and making the world a better place. Check it:

I was watching al Arabiya yesterday and they showed a report about the American families that came with supplies they gathered to help civilians of Fallujah. It was very refreshing and heart warming even for guys like me who have firm belief in the American people's good will. To see families who had their son's, daughters and beloved ones killed in 9/11 and even in Iraq cross all this distance and take all this risk to help Iraqis left me speechless.

There's a lot of distrust and fear among Iraqis and Americans in Iraq (this holds true only in the centre of Iraq, as the situation in the north and south is much better than here) and what these families have done come in a very critical stage and bares a great significance and I just wish it gets more exposure than what it's getting now. I wish you could see the look on my friend's face as he was telling me about how surprised and impressed with the efforts of these great people. These guys have built a strong bridge of compassion and love even though they are the ones who paid the most through this struggle, and I hope there will be more bridges from both sides to help restore the trust and love that means so much for the future of the whole world. God bless you and God bless your beloved ones' souls.

Go to his site, and welcome this great Iraqi to the blogosphere. His name is Ali, but he's not the same Ali that just left ITM. Thanks to Michael Totten for the tip.

News Doctoring 101

Michael Totten also did a nice job deconstructing a recent AFP article. You have to go see it to believe it.

I Think I Might Watch This

Decision 2005- Iraqi style!

Insurgents Come Up Short in Mosul

Check out the latest from Slobodan Lekic- he writes about a recent battle in Mosul that didn't go so well for the bad guys. Looks like he's backed off a bit from the terrorist-propaganda stance that he took with this article that caused me to write this rebuttal. Maybe he knows we're watching him now, because I didn't find anything all that appalling in his most recent piece. Let me know if I'm wrong...

Holy Rotorheads, Batman!

I had no idea so many of you were so well-versed on the superior mode of flight. I was incredibly impressed, and I'll willingly admit that many of you know a good deal more about this stuff than I do. Especially Quilly and Mike- the guys who noticed the 4 blades instead of 5. When I saw Mike's comment, I thought- "Yeah, I remember them having 5 blades, too!" So I opened up my photo file, and I saw some more pictures with only 4 blades. Guess what? They just hadn't hung the 5th blade yet. I finally came upon a shot that we took yesterday morning that shows all 5 blades hanging proudly:

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Nice catch!

Wednesday, December 29, 2004

Tsunami Videos and Charity Links

Our friend Jordan at Cheese and Crackers is providing some unbelievable amateur video footage along with some great links that can help you to help the victims. His great work was even recognized by Drudge. Nice job, Jordan.

For the Last Time- Leave the Guy Alone

Bryan G. Whitman sticks up for his boss:

Re the Dec. 21 story Rumsfeld is faulted for Iraq abuse: Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld never has approved interrogation methods for Iraq. As they have testified before Congress, military commanders approved the procedures in use in Iraq, and it is within their authority to do so.

The FBI document mentioned in the article attributed Iraq interrogation guidelines to a presidential executive order. But the document made no mention of Rumsfeld. The headline conveying that the order came from the secretary was based not on the FBI document itself, but on two anonymous sources who claimed that the FBI official was really referring to the defense secretary.

BRYAN G. WHITMAN, deputy assistant secretary of defense for public affairs, Washington, D.C.

Mark Shields Gets the Smackdown from Lawrence Di Rita

Mark Shields stepped on it- and got caught:

Mark Shields' Dec. 18 op-ed column ["Our 'Best Equipped' Army? Baloney!"] distorted or ignored statistics and history to make baseless assertions about how our troops in Iraq are equipped and protected.

Because he cited figures only for armor installed on Humvees in factories, Mr. Shields would lead readers to believe that less than a third of the Humvees in Iraq are protected. In fact, when counting vehicles that have had armor added in the theater, that figure rises to about 75 percent. Military commanders have noted that not every vehicle requires armor at all times, such as those confined to operating within military bases.

Mr. Shields' praise of the manufacturing prowess of the "greatest generation" -- which built America's military might and industry essentially from scratch -- is well founded. His attempt to belittle the performance of today's effort by comparison, however, is invalid.

Consider what the Defense Department, working with industry, has done since the Iraq insurgency -- and with it, roadside ambushes and bombings -- started last year. The production of armored Humvees has increased from about 35 per month to about 450 per month. In addition, since March 2003, the department has spurred production of body armor from 1,200 sets a month to more than 25,000.

Officials in this department at all levels, military and civilian, are doing their best to ensure that our troops in combat have the best protection available. The president has budgeted more than $1 billion in additional funds to ensure that we have sufficient armor, and defense spending overall is up nearly 40 percent since 2001. As our adversary adapts his tactics, military commanders are revising their own procedures and rethinking their equipment requirements. Mr. Shields' op-ed did a disservice to those responsible for providing for the national security.


Pentagon Spokesman


Yeah, what he said.

Oops- I Married a Terrorist!

Like many people, I found this unbelievable story at LGF. She claims that she "tried to tell everybody, but nobody would listen"- that just rings a little hollow with me. Her son supposedly went to "terrorist meetings" with the guy. How about bringing a tape recorder or wearing a wire? There are a million different things they could have done, but the truth (as I see it) is that this woman was sad and desperate and she allowed herself to be a victim.

She's now coming clean in an effort to clear herself of any complicity. Again- my $0.02.

Beautiful Atrocities has my all-time favorite take on this one. You must go there and check out the pictures and read the comments.

Mission Accomplished

Thanks to all who inquired- my mission went well. It will be my last mission during this deployment, as I am set to leave in just a few days. I am happy about that. Best thing about this last mission- I got to sit in this cockpit:

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Anyone know what this is?

Moore Joke for the Day

I love this.

Tuesday, December 28, 2004

Out for the Day

Won't really be able to post today. I just picked up a late mission that will keep me busy all night. Thanks for the feedback about the RSS stuff. Sounds like things are pretty much fixed. Anyone who still has problems can probably blame it on their computer- seems to be working for everyone else.

Looks like Omar at ITM has entered the war against the AP.

Here's another winner from VDH.

My dear mother sent me the following rant by our friend Charlie Daniels. Thanks, Ma! Many of you have probably seen it before, but it's worth another look (my emphasis added):

The Straight Scoop from Charlie Daniels

I've just returned from Guantanamo Bay, Cuba Naval Air Station base where we did three shows for the troops and toured several locations around the post visiting with some of the finest military personnel on planet earth. The kids seemed to really enjoy the shows and especially liked "This Ain't No Rag, It's A Flag" and "In America". We had a great time with them.

We saw Camp X-Ray, where the Taliban detainees are being held only from a distance, but I picked up a lot of what's going on there from talking with a lot of different people.

The truth of the matter is that this operation is under a microscope. The Red Cross has an on site presence there and watches everything that goes on very closely. The media is not telling you the whole truth about what's going on over there.

The truth is that these scum bags are not only being treated humanely, but they are probably better off health wise and medically than they've ever been in their lives. They are fed well, able to take showers and receive state of the art medical care. And have their own Moslem chaplain. I saw several of them in a field hospital ward where they were being treated in a state of the art medical facility.

Now let's talk about the way they treat our people. First of all, they have to be watched constantly. These people are committed and wanton murderers who are willing to die just to kill someone else. One of the doctors told me that when they had Taliban in the hospital the staff had to really be careful with needles, pens and anything else which could possibly be used as a weapon. They also throw their excrement and urine on the troops who are guarding them. And our guys and gals have shown great restraint in not retaliating. We are spending over a million dollars a day maintaining and guarding these nasty killers and anyone who wants to see them brought to the U.S.A. for trial is either out of their heads or a lawyer looking for money and notoriety. Or both.

I wish that the media and the Red Cross and all the rest of the people who are so worried about these criminals would realize that this is not a troop of errant Boy Scouts. These are killers of the worst kind. They don't need protection from us, we need protection from them. If you don't get anything else out of this soapbox, please try to realize that when you see news coverage much of the time you're not getting the whole story, but an account filtered through a liberal mind set with an agenda.

We have two fights on our hands, the war against terror and the one against the loudmouthed lawyers and left wing media who would sap the strength from the American public by making us believe that we're losing the war or doing something wrong in fighting it. Remember these are the same people who told us that Saddam Hussein's Republican guard was going to be an all but invincible enemy and that our smart bombs and other weapons were not really as good as the military said that they were.

They also took up for Bill Clinton while he was cavorting around the Oval office with Monica Lewinsky while the terrorists were gaining strength and bombing our Embassies and dragging the bodies of dead American heroes around the dusty streets of Somalia. It's a shame that we can't have an unbiased media who would just report the truth and let us make up our own minds.

Here I must commend Fox News for presenting both sides much better than the other networks. They are leaving the other cable networks in the dust. People like being told the truth.

Our military not only needs but deserves our support. Let's give it to them.
The next time you read a media account about the bad treatment of the Taliban in Cuba, remember what I told you. Been there done that.

Footnote: I got an e-mail from a rather irate first cousin of mine the other day who has a daughter who's a lawyer and she seemed to think that I was painting all lawyers with the same brush. Please understand that I'm not doing that at all. That would be like saying that all musicians were drug addicts. There are a lot of good and honest attorneys out there. I happen to have one of them. But it seems that they never get any airtime. It's always the radicals who get their opinions heard, who fight the idea of the military tribunals and cite The Constitution and the integrity of America as their source of justifying their opinions. Well, first of all The Constitution says "We the people of the United States", it doesn't mention any other country.

And secondly as far as integrity is concerned, I don't think some of these folks would know integrity if it bit them in the posterior.

What do you think?

God Bless America.

Charlie Daniels

Good words, Charlie. We appreciate it.

Monday, December 27, 2004


Obviously the earthquake/tsunami disaster is the big story right now, and I simply can't fathom the amount of sheer horror that's been going on in those countries that were hit. So many dead- it really puts things in perspective. I'm not an expert on this sort of thing, so I won't comment except to say that my heart goes out to those who have been affected by this disaster. Drudge has a comprehensive round up.

The Professional

Papa Ray pointed me to a site called In Iraq for 365. What a great site. This guy is a Public Affairs soldier and he's currently stationed in Mosul. His writing is excellent, which isn't surprising since it's what he does for a living. It's an absolute must read if you want to know what's really going on in Mosul. And thanks again to Papa Ray for pointing out the story about the two Iraqi soldiers.

No Surprises Here

I direct you to this new Military Times poll:

-63% of respondents approve of the way President Bush is handling the war.

That's pretty much what it was right before the election.

-60% remain convinced it is a war worth fighting.


-67% of combat vets say the war is worth fighting.

Makes sense- it's easier to understand it if you've seen it.

-nearly half say they expect to be there more than five years.

I include myself with that half- although I don't think we'll be at the current strength of presence in 5 years. I doubt we'll be in Afghanistan in 5 years, but I could be wrong...

-87% say they're satisfied with their jobs.

Sounds about right.

-25% say they'd leave the service if given the choice today.

Hopefuly, they'll be able to get out soon.

Compared with last year, the percentages for support for the war and job satisfaction remain essentially unchanged.

If nothing else, we're consistent.

-A year ago, 77% said they thought the military was stretched too thin to be effective. This year, that number shrank to 66%.

Wow. Imagine that- we believe in ourselves more and more each day.

-75% oppose a military draft.

It's bad enough that we have those 25% who don't want to be there (some of these soldiers do a fine job anyway, but many of them are what we call "leadership challenges")- a draft would boost that number to well over 40%. That would be awful. Nobody wants that. I'm willing to bet that the same 25% who want the draft are the same ones who said they'd leave if given the choice today.

-60% blame Congress for the shortage of body armor in the combat zone.

Especially the ones that vote for the appropriations bill, before voting against it. Here's the best one of all:

-12% say civilian Pentagon policymakers should be held accountable for abuse at Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq.

I wonder how the NY Times staff of writers would compare to this. My guess is that it would be a mirror image of this number. 88% of them would say that Bush and Rumsfeld are to blame- citing the fact that no soldier would ever sink so low as to play "naked twister" with a prisoner unless he or she was "specifically ordered" to do so by a mean ol' bastard from D.C.

We know better. We know that our fellow soldiers are just as human as anyone else. We're just as human as a former President who likes to play cigar games with interns. We're just as human as the stoopid criminals who do stoopid things in every one of our 50 great states each and every day.

We soldiers are smart enough to know that the Army does not have a "special screening process" that keeps out the morons- we take who we can get and hope for the best.

We are smart enough to know that Boot Camp is effective- not magical. Our ratio of criminal morons vs. good people is better than what it is in the general public- but we'd be foolish to believe that the military is "completely free of idiots."

We are smart enough to look at those pictures and see that those idiots (especially Lyndie England) were getting some sick "kicks" out of what they were doing. Most of us hope those clowns get the book thrown at them.

We are smart enough to know that the Army catches it's criminals, prosecutes them, and punishes them when they're found guilty- just like in the real world!

If only somebody would educate the good folks at the New York Times- they just don't seem to get it.


Thanks to epador for pointing out the follow up to the "Rob story" at the Banty Rooster.

War Against the AP

You've probably noticed some commenters talking about other blog sites that have taken a stance against the AP. It certainly is looking more and more like the AP has taken sides with the terrorists in order to fatten up that bottom line (I'm giving them the benefit of the doubt here- they might just be a bunch of terrorists themselves). I was going to point you to some of the places that these commentators were referring to, but I found that Kate at Small Dead Animals has already done it. Make sure you read the last few posts at the Belmont Club- I really think Wretchard nailed these clowns. Thanks, Kate.

Admin Note

I've gotten a bunch of complaints about my RSS feeds. I'm not very smart about these things. I do know that my template crashed a few days ago, so I had to replace some things. Maybe you have to reset your feeds? I don't know. All I know is that I have my feed on MyYahoo! and it's been working fine. Any ideas? If anyone is having trouble with their feeds, please email me with the RSS service you're using, your browser, and anything else that might help me solve this problem. Thanks!

Sunday, December 26, 2004

Must Read Email

Hello All-

Hope everyone is enjoying their holiday weekend with friends and loved ones. Thanks so much for all the kind words- please know that you are all greatly appreciated over here.

I'm going to enjoy my day off today, but I wanted to make sure everybody sees the must read email at The Banty Rooster. Here's a snippet:

...The soldier was in a bit of disbelief, because he couldn't see with one eye patched and the other swollen shut. He said he wanted to talk to Rumsfeld. That's when I said "He's standing right to your left, Rob, that's his voice you hear. You can talk to him." The kid was nervous at that point, but sputtered out how honored he was to talk to him. Mr. Rumsfeld replied, "No, it's an honor for me to talk to you."

Then remarkably, the young soldier, who had just lost his left hand and right eye from an explosion, came to the defense of the Secretary of Defense, stating "Mr. Rumsfeld, I want you to know, that you are doing a fantastic job. I know that you are taking a lot of heat for the problems with getting armor for vehicles. I want you to know that things are vastly improved. Our vehicles are great, and I have never searched through junk piles for scrap metal."

At this point, Rumsfeld looked choked up, and I had a lump in my throat and watery eyes. It was moving. What makes a man who has been so close to death, and maimed for life, come to the defense of the Army's highest ranking official? Loyalty, I dare say. Did Rob think Mr. Rumsfeld was having a self-esteem problem? In his greatest hour of need, his thoughts went to the emotional needs of another. I found it quite amazing, and moving. The Secretary took out a coin and gave it to a bystander for him, as if he didn't know he could touch him. Finally, the soldier said, "Man, Donald Rumsfeld, I wish I could shake his hand..."

Read the whole thing. It will make you proud to be an American.

Saturday, December 25, 2004

Holidays Abroad

Well, folks- it looks like I'm spending the holidays away from home. I've spent 5 of the last 7 years in some strange land during the holidays, and (believe it or not) I'm totally fine. You all may think that such craziness would be unbearable, but I think you'd be surprised. This post is not a play for sympathy- it is, in fact, an attempt to help you all understand something about this sort of thing.

Being at war during the holidays is tough, but it's probably not as tough as you think- and that has everything to do with the good people who constitute the majority of our great nation. The way you provide us with warm wishes and heartfelt support- it really makes us feel closer to home. If you want an idea of what I'm talking about, just look in yesterday's comments (thanks all). And the emails- you wouldn't believe how many emails. I shared them with everyone here at the office, and we all appreciate it greatly- thanks so much for that.

I've been watching Fox for the past few hours (slow day at the office), and it seems like everyone and anyone is thanking the troops for "leaving their families and fighting for freedom during this holiday season." Well, that's really swell- and I'd just like to say "you're welcome!" and "thanks for the support!"

And now I'd like to thank a few people (if I may):

-Thanks to all those WWE wrestler folks who came out here a few weeks back.

-Thanks to the Dallas Cowboy Cheerleaders for coming to visit me during the holidays for 3 consecutive years ('98-'01) while I was in Korea. Apologies to the girl who "hurled" in the back of my Black Hawk in '99 (I should have gone a little easier on that turn). Many of you may not know this, but the NFL sends football stars and cheerleaders overseas every year to support the troops during the holidays. John Elway was in Iraq recently. The Redskins Cheerleaders were right here in Kuwait a couple weeks ago. So really, I'd like to thank the NFL for everything they do for us.

-Thanks to the following entertainers who came out to entertain us over the years: Chely Wright, Blues Traveler, Taylor Dayne (remember her?), Charlie Daniels (he played an impromptu concert in my office!), Rob Schneider, Wayne Newton, Kid Rock (didn't really see him, but my old boss took pictures for me at the Baghdad concert), Robin Williams, Leeanne Tweedon, David Letterman, Paul Schaefer, Quiet Riot, Al Franken (didn't meet him either, but my current boss had him sign a picture of Bill O'Reilly for me), Ben Affleck, Ted Nugent, Alyssa Milano, Arnold Schwartze...the Governor of California, and all the other American stars who are carrying on the proud tradition of Bob Hope, Ann Margaret, and many other legends who have given so much to our deployed soldiers. Please feel free to credit any others in my comments. I really could go on forever.

-Thanks to Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld for visiting me in Mosul last year, and for going back to Mosul (and many other places in Iraq) yesterday.

-Thanks to President Bush for coming to visit the troops in Baghdad last Thanksgiving.

-Especially thanks to all of you, the good people of America, for supporting us the way you do- day in and day out- not just during the holidays. It makes more of a difference than many of you might realize.

Yes, it certainly hurts to be away from loved ones during the holidays, but as you can see, there are plenty of things going on here that help to keep our spirits up.

And speaking of friends and loved ones:

-I'd like to thank all the great soldiers (especially those who are wounded or no longer with us) who I had the honor of serving with during these crazy times so far away from home. We may not have our families out here, but we have each other- and that makes a huge difference.

-I'd like to thank my friends and family for putting up with my never-ending deployments and always letting me know that I am sorely missed.

-And of course most of all- I'd like to thank the most beautiful and amazing woman in all the world- the future "Mrs. 2Slick"- for putting up with way more than one person should have to put up with these past two years. Thanks for believing I'm worth it. I Love you, Sweetie!

Merry Christmas and Happy (belated) Hannukah!!!

Holiday Photoblogging

As promised, I'll leave you with some pictures that I brought back from Mosul last year. According to a recent article from the AP, these Iraqis no longer exist:

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Kids mobbed us every single time we stopped somewhere. I now know what it feels like to be a member of a boy band.

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This is me sitting down at at one of the schools we helped to rebuild. The children all belonged to a couple that worked at the school (dad was the janitor). Mom was just about ready to deliver number 6, and she looked all of 22 years old. They're all in my video. Cute kids, huh? Some people think I look like Mel Gibson, but I don't see it.

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Soldier having a discussion with the local grocer while his troops go inside to buy some Cokes. Grocer's 6-year-old son just comes out of nowhere, sits down next to the soldier, and puts his arm around him. How cool is that? We barely knew them when this picture was taken. Before we left, we were all very close friends. We'd have lunch together and everything. Good people.

I'll post more some other time...Seasons Greetings!

Friday, December 24, 2004

Can't Miss Interview

Last night, I stayed up late and called a guy named Marshall Masters (of YOWUSA) for a radio interview- his show is called Cut to the Chase:

An American officer who fought his way into Iraq in 2003, during his first tour of duty is now serving his second tour of duty in Kuwait. Known to netizens as Captain 2Slick, he spends his days fighting the war and his nights fighting the injustices of the American media on his war blog <>. In this interview, he unravels the agenda-driven spin of the American media, many of who seem to view their blatant mismanagement of the war news as means to an end. The collateral damage that their efforts are causing is deadly to our war fighters and to our chances of achieving victory. Yet, what is truly history making about this interview is that it is unfiltered and direct.

His site can only be described as "outside the box"- and our discussion was excellent. I enjoyed it (if I seem a little tired, it's because I was up way past my bedtime), and I thank Mr. Masters for helping to get the truth out. Please listen to it and let me know what you think.


Thanks for all the amazing feedback! I'm glad you all got something out of it. I've already scheduled another interview which we'll do about a week prior to the Iraqi elections. I plan to discuss the growing relevance of Iraqi blogs among other things. Really- thanks for listening, and thanks for all your incredible support...

Rumsfeld's Surprise Visit

Fox just showed a meeting that Rumsfeld just had with some troops in Tikrit- the meeting followed his recent "failure to support the troops" while visiting them in Mosul on X-mas Eve. Smiles all around. Soldiers thanked him and said they appreciated his leadership. Therefore, this has no chance of getting any circulation in the press. Prove me wrong press people. Please prove me wrong.

Whenever someone suggests that Rumsfeld doesn't care about the troops, please ask that person how many times they've visited wounded troops at military hospitals. Then ask them if they should be saying these things about a man who practically lives in those hospitals. Tell them to go visit a military hospital just once. It's not an easy thing to do. It would be tougher if you were one of the people who sent them into combat. But the SECDEF does it- all the time.

Back to his meeting with the troops- SECDEF lashed out at the press- specifically Al-Jihada, but he expressed confidence in the American people and their ability to filter out the garbage and find the truth for themselves. I agree with him. Let's see how much coverage this gets.

VDH Watch

Victor Davis Hanson agrees with me- about Rumsfeld and the rogue MSM. Good!

This is Cool

Dave Letterman will be taping his show in the building next to mine in about 2 hours. I will be there. Maybe he'll have "Stupid Milblogger Tricks?"


Just returned from the show- Dave, Paul, and Biff were hilarious! Very good of them to come out and see us. The troops LOVED it! That place was jam packed and everyone was going nuts the whole time. It wasn't a real "show" (it wasn't taped or anything) it was just sort of a "talent show" hosted by Dave and Paul. Very funny and entertaining. I took some pics and I'll try to post them tomorrow.

Some of you may have seen a comment by "gun toting liberal" yesterday- he did have a point. It'll be a while before any of you see my video (which is separate from the footage that I'm including in Desert Sky), but I do have some good pics from Mosul that I can post. I'll post them tomorrow. I apologize if I came across as obnoxious in my response, Mr. Liberal- wasn't my intent. I was just having fun. Thanks all- and HAPPY HOLIDAYS!!!!

About the CW5 in the Franken Picture

I promised "the bronze" that I would write about our new CW5 today. He showed up to our unit about 10 days ago. I went and picked him up at the bus stop. First thing I noticed about him (besides the fact that he could have been my long lost grandpa) was his 101st combat patch. I said, "Hey man! I've got a 101st combat patch," which I turned and showed him, "and our Section Chief, LTC %#%, has one, too! Mine is from OIF last year, and the Chief's is from Desert Storm. Which one is yours from?"

He just looked at me funny. I knew that look. It was a friendly enough look- but it was a look that carried an unspoken message- "I was flying choppers through bullet-storms before your candy a$$ ever saw the light of day."


He nodded. Right then it hit me. I was going to be working with a guy who's been putting himself on the line for his country since well before I was born. What an unbelievable honor. We just don't find many Vietnam Vets around here anymore. He's got some amazing stories, as I'm sure you can imagine. I got to know him pretty well during a recent drive to Camp Doha- he's a really great guy, and I'm glad he's on board.

Thursday, December 23, 2004

AP: Mosul Celebrates Suicide Bombing

So it turns out that it was a suicide murder. This doesn't change anything in my eyes, but it certainly answered some questions I had. I couldn't comprehend how they could have scored a direct hit on the DFAC without any other rounds dropping anywhere else (at least initially). It just didn't add up. And we knew all along that ball-bearings were used, and that's not normal for a rocket or mortar blast.

Every DFAC that I've ever been to has a "no bags allowed" policy. Somehow this terrorist got through with a backpack. As we all know, a determined suicide murderer is going to find a way to blow up a bunch of people. We can take all the precautions in the world to prevent it, but as long as the will exists, it will happen. It will continue to happen as long as we allow this murderous and psychopathic pseudo-culture to fester in the Arab world.

Never before, in all my years of reading the news, have I seen such obvious terrorist propaganda passed off as legitimate "news." This article was the first one on Yahoo's list of "Top News Stories." I opened it this morning, and I could not believe my own eyes. I don't want to beat around the bush, so here goes:

There was little apparent sympathy for the dead Americans on Mosul's deserted streets, where hundreds of U.S. troops, backed up by armored vehicles and helicopters, blocked bridges and cordoned off Sunni Muslim areas of Iraq's third-largest city.

The hard-hitting reporter then goes on to prove this by providing three quotes from the locals:

1) "I wish that 2,000 U.S. soldiers were killed," declared Jamal Mahmoud, a trade union official.

2) Sadiq Mohammed, a grocer, expressed concern that the U.S. military would use the attack as a pretext for a major crackdown in the city. "Yesterday's attack on the American base will for sure lead to an escalation in U.S. military activities in Mosul," he said.

3) Izdihar Kamel, a civil servant, praised those who had carried out Tuesday's attack. "It was a heroic operation," Kamel said. "This is jihad and he who carried out this attack is a hero."

This is what the AP wants you to know about how the locals feel about this suicide murder-which also claimed the lives of 3 Iraqis. One guy wishes thousands had died, one guy is an armchair General, and one guy thinks the terrorist was a "hero." Not a single quote from anyone else in Mosul. Not one. Must be that everyone in Mosul was either happy about it, disappointed that it didn't kill more people, or just simply didn't care. Un. Be. Lievable.

I am here to tell you that if I were to go into downtown Mosul, the University, or just about anywhere else in the city- the overwhelming majority of Iraqis would be expressing their heartfelt condolences. I know this for a fact, because it's exactly what happened during the days following our incident with the 2 Black Hawks. The people felt absolutely terrible about what happened, and many of them were tearful when expressing their sorrow. I am going to make an accusation here, and I need you to know that this accusation is not based on an assumption- this is something I know for a fact:

This AP reporter deliberately sought out pro-terrorist/anti-American Iraqis to quote for this article.

If you were to travel through Mosul, and ask 3 random people how they felt about this event, at least 1 of them (more likely 2 or all 3) would express shock and outrage. If, by some miracle, you find 3 random Iraqis and all 3 of them happen to condone or dismiss the act, then you would be absolutely irresponsible to include them all in your story without making any effort to find even one Iraqi with opposing views.

Imagine how outraged we would be if they published a story that suggested that Americans didn't really care about the attack- proving it by publishing 3 disdainful/apathetic quotes from renegade "Americans" like Tim Mcveigh or Terry Nichols- and neglecting to present one quote from the obviously overwhelming majority of Americans who are shocked and outraged. Well, this is exactly what happened- they just did it in Iraq.

I've had my problems with AP in the past. Many others have as well. But this is the first time I have ever seen anything like this. They should be humiliated and ashamed for allowing this piece to be published. That's all I have to say about that.


You'll notice that the story that I linked to has completely changed. The whole article is different, and I can't find the original story (from which I pulled the quotes) anywhere. I wonder if the AP bigwigs are reading my site? Could they have possibly realized the error of their ways? I wonder...


Bob Anderson (thanks, Bob) confirms that the story was pulled. He found this story, which looks like a watered-down replacement- trying to make their efforts a little "less obvious," no doubt.


Flight Pundit found the original article at Salon. AP can run, but they can't hide their Islamofascist propaganda. Somebody should seriously have to answer for this...


Charles from LGF weighed in here- and he managed to find the original article on Yahoo! (he's good at that). Thanks, Charles.

Bashing Moore

Most of you know Michelle Malkin. She's on Fox News a lot, and she's one of the best bloggers in the business. Obviously, I'm a sucker for a good Moore-bashing, and Michelle- well, let's just say Michelle has the "skinny" on Mike's latest crockumentary.

And of course there's this and this from LGF.

Wednesday, December 22, 2004

Chaplain's Take

Thanks to Jeffrey at Iraqi Bloggers Central for pointing us to Chaplain Lewis' first-hand account of the attack. As I said yesterday, we hate days like these.

I can't speak for those who experienced this attack yesterday, but I can offer some thoughts from my own experience with what is now the 2nd deadliest incident of the war thus far- when two of our Black Hawks collided over Mosul in November of 2003. I was in the Brigade TOC that night. I can tell you what we felt and what we did not feel. We felt anger, we felt a sense of loss, and of course we felt the obvious gut-wrenching pain that comes with finding out that we just lost a lot of fellow soldiers. It's worse when you find out that some of them were close friends.

When the dust settled and the memorial ceremonies were over, we wound up with feelings of resolve and determination to complete the mission. We did not feel sorry for ourselves, but we felt sympathy for the all the people who were so terribly affected by the loss of their loved ones. We did not blame rogue politicians or anti-war protestors back home, but we examined every aspect of what happened and took every possible measure to prevent another similar occurence. This is what I would expect is happening up in the Stryker AO right now.

It's easy to lose faith during times like these, but I would ask that you pay your respects to the victims of this attack, and continue to help the survivors by supporting the mission that these brave heroes gave their lives for.

Thoughts on Najma

Thanks for all your thoughts on the "Najma Situation." I understand that many of you disagree with my handling of the whole thing. I fully expected this, and I respect your opinions. I don't think it should surprise anyone that I'd pull a link to a site that suggests American soldiers should shoot themselves. To those who argued that she is confused and scared and all that- I hear you. I just think she's had more than enough information to go on (including plenty from soldiers who have risked everything in order to help her), and I believe that she is taking the all-too-familiar Islamofascist route- "it can't be Muslims like me- so it must be the American's fault." I won't support that line of thinking, and I won't waste my time debating it. In my opinion, her brainwashing is all but complete. Yes, she called the terrorists "stupid"- but only as an afterthought that followed her nonsensical diatribe about exploding bullets and "irresponsible soldiers." She is a young Islamofascist- and soon she'll be a grown-up one.

We can't be afraid to call Islamofascism what it is. I'm sick of the PC BS, and I'm just not into the "lets just be sensitive and try to understand them" kind of thing. We've been doing that for decades, and that's why we find ourselves in the mess we're in. Having said that, I'll be quick to point out that this doesn't mean that I support the "kill 'em all, sort 'em out later" BS either. We simply need to work with the "good" Iraqis (and there are lots of them) in order to establish a new social fabric that encourages freedom, toleration, education, and understanding- while discouraging the "old culture" that has prevailed for so many years- Americans/westerners are demonic infidels, anyone who disagrees with us shoud be shot, etc. Some people will grow old and die with these arcane beliefs- nothing can prevent that. We just need to make sure they are the minority when they die. This same sort of social revolution happened in Germany and Japan, and soon it will start happening in Iraq and beyond.

I know what Islamofascism is, and I'm going to call it when I see it. As I've said- I really hope she comes around someday. That's all I have to say about that.

Operation Al Franken

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Here's a shot of Al and my boss (posted with permission). My boss was kind enough to execute the mission for me, since I was away during Al's visit. Remind me to tell you about the "older" gentleman in the background (wearing a flight suit)- it's a great story.

And now the moment you've all been waiting for...

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Here's "big Al" signing my picture of Bill O'Reilly. Now I ask you- how many people have a picture of Bill O'Reilly signed by Al Franken? Sorry, but I just think that's way cool...

Tuesday, December 21, 2004

Attack in Mosul

I'm sure you've all heard about the recent attack in Mosul- the situation is still developing, and I won't comment on any of the specifics that I know at this time. We are now in that "pre-notification" period during which time thousands of family members agonize with grief and worry about their loved ones who are stationed there. We all hate days like these.

I can tell you that rocket and mortar attacks are not new. They occured almost every other night (sometimes during the day) when I was there last year, and I'm sure it's no different today. Some poor Iraqi guy pops off some rounds and collects $220 from a local terrorist financier. Usually the rounds impact harmlessly somewhere in the AO. The general consensus was that the worse case scenario would be a direct hit on the dining facility during meal hours. It would take a carefully coordinated attack to pull that off, and it seems that this might be what happened. We'll see how the facts pan out. It's just a sad situation, and I'm sure you'll all join me in expressing condelences to all the victims (casualties and their loved ones) involved in this attack.

Iraq the Model Saga and Roger Simon

Looks like Omar and Mohammed are unhappy with Ali's decision. Still no explanation as to why he suddenly departed. In his most recent post, Omar talks about meeting Roger L. Simon (he's one of those really well-known "superbloggers")- I followed the link to Roger's site, and you won't believe what I found:

Two People Have Sent Me This Link Today from April 2004
... my wife Sheryl and frequent commenter on here Charlie (Colorado)...So maybe that's a sign. In any case, this speech by theoretical physicist and Weizmann Institute President Haim Harari entitled "A View from the Eye of the Storm" is certainly worth a look to those (like me) who have missed it. People of this intellectual depth rarely opine about politics. (There's a thought - Haim Harari on Crossfire.)

Is the blogosphere amazing or what? Maybe "it's a a sign"- or maybe 2Slick brought it back to life! One of his "commentators" (I just invented that word) mentioned that "Den Beste blogged it -- at length, of course -- back in the day."

I figured somebody must have circulated this thing before- of course, I didn't even know what the blogosphere was back in April of 2004. Anyway- good info. I just thought that was really cool when I saw that.

Iraqi Elections

Der Commissar strikes again! Here's your one-stop shop for any and every update about the Iraqi elections.

Another Iraqi Blog Controversy

Some of you may have noticed that I removed Najma's "A Star from Mosul" site from my blogroll. I don't want to make a big an issue of it, but our friend Hoot wrote a great post about it- I'd recommend checking it out.

It's certainly not a "black and white" situation. Najma is a young girl, and she's still very impressionable. I discovered her blog a few months ago, and when I found an entry where she talked about her desire to attend Mosul University- I obviously felt an immediate connection. I sent her a heartfelt email, and encouraged her to study hard and become a great leader in her new country (she really is bright for her age). As you can imagine, I was saddened to find her saying that US Soldiers are "irresponsible" baby killers and that we should "shoot ourselves." I don't really blame her for this- I blame the Islamosfascist culture that surrounds her, the former regime for "dumbing down" the general population with information deprivation, and especially the Al Jazeera propaganda machine that is still very much in effect even today.

I respect her right to call us baby killers, and as I mentioned in the comments in her post- US soldiers will continue to fight and die for her right to accuse us of such things- but it should surprise nobody when soldiers like me choose not to support her in such endeavors. As far as I'm concerned, she is a young Islamofascist and I hope she changes her ways. I've already done enough to encourage her to make the right choices in life- many other soldiers supported and encouraged her as well. One of those soldiers who supported her (and felt equally betrayed) is a Stryker guy who is currently stationed in Mosul- calls himself "monkeyman." I really hope he's OK.

Today was not a good day in Mosul- there was also a demonstration at the University today. That's not good. Don't worry, though- the US and Iraqi troops will prevail up there- the good guys always win. Everyone knows that...

Monday, December 20, 2004

Nothing To Do With Israel

I'm glad Dr. Harari's speech made such an impact- I didn't realize that so many people had never seen it. It really should be required reading. I thought it was a little eerie when I learned that Iraq saw one of it's bloodiest days soon after I posted it. Just as Dr. Harari said- these attacks had nothing to do with Israel. It was simply Muslims killing other Muslims for the sole purpose of attaining wealth and power. In this case, it appears to be the work of operatives from neighboring countries- something we expected to see during the run-up to the elections. I do have to point out one part of this AP article (if I may):

The deadly strikes highlighted the apparent ability of the insurgents to launch attacks almost at will, despite confident assessments by U.S. military commanders that they had regained the initiative after last month's campaign against militants in Fallujah.

Right- except that the number of attacks per day have decreased by more than 50% since the Fallujah operation. I guess the AP person who wrote this article forgot to tell us that- you see, that information would contradict the assertion that the insurgies can "attack at will." When spewing pro-terrorist propaganda, one must be very careful to eliminate certain key facts from their reporting. Every effort must be made to achieve the terrorist's desired effects- scare the hell out of the Iraqis! Nice job, AP- you've once again proven yourselves worthy competition for Al Jazeera.

Those silly U.S. military commanders- how can they possibly claim to have the initiative when they've only reduced the enemy's output by one half? Absurd!

This is Just Great

As most of you know, I took several hours of video footage during my time in Iraq. One of my favorite scenes has my buddy (let's call him Jimmy- our brigade Intel Officer) picking up a Stars and Stripes newspaper when we were sitting about 10 miles south of Baghdad. Michael Moore was on the top right corner of the front page- he had recently caused a stir with a lame Bush-bashing speech at the Oscars (he was jeered off the stage as you'll recall). Jimmy pulled out his knife, and unceremoniously removed Mr. Moore from the newspaper- his picture fluttered slowly to the dirt. As Jimmy walked away, my camera focused on Moore's ugly mug looking up from it's new sandy surroundings- and (this is my favorite part) Jimmy's voice trailed away with, "I hate that $#%*head..."

I'm so glad I caught that on tape, because it really captured how we feel about this man- and this was way before F9/11. I can't speak for all of us, but if I were to guess the ratio of military folks who are pro-Moore versus hardcore anti-Moore, I'd have to put it at about 1 to 1000. That's not an exageration- that's what my experience tells me. Of course Moore has a book and movie that would paint a much different picture (he's a professioinal fictionologist- propagandist- whatever), but trust me- we can't stand that guy. Michael from A Day in Iraq puts it in more colorful terms (I had to censor- my mom reads this stuff!):

Guess what fat ass, I'm not a pawn either. A pawn is defined as a person used by others for their own purposes. No one is using me, not the government, or the Army. On the contrary, I'm using them. I'm using them for the opportunity to fight. To fight against terrorists. To fight for my brothers-in-arms. To fight for my country. To fight so that stubble faced, fat asses like you can spew your filth. The only pawns are those soldiers that you used in your movie for you purpose of gaining wealth. God forbid if I ever unknowingly show up in one of your films. I'm not your bitch, and if I'm ever on one second of one of your ****** films, you will become my bitch.

Read the whole thing- it's just priceless. (warning- language!)

And As Long as We're on the Subject of Moore-Bashing

Here's another great blog I found recently. Great writer...

Don't look at this if you have a heart condition...

Drama in the Blogosphere

What's up with Iraq the Model? As you all know, brothers Mohammed and Omar made a highly publicized trip to the U.S.- met the Prez and all that. But back in Iraq, Ali (who opted out of the trip) just dropped this bombshell:

This is the last time I write in this blog and I just want to say, goodbye. It's not an easy thing to do for me, but I know I should do it. I haven't told my brothers with my decision, as they are not here yet, but it won't change anything and I just can't keep doing this anymore. My stand regarding America has never changed. I still love America and feel grateful to all those who helped us get our freedom and are still helping us establishing democracy in our country. But it's the act of some Americans that made me feel I'm on the wrong side here. I will expose these people in public very soon and I won't lack the mean to do this, but I won't do it here as this is not my blog. At any rate, it's been a great experience and a pleasure to know all the regular readers of this blog, as I do feel I know you, and I owe you a lot.

Best wishes to all of you, those who supported us and those who criticized us as well.

Yours sincerely,


Wrong side of what? And who will he "expose?" Like sands through the Iraqi desert, these are the blogs of our lives. Stay tooned!

And Last But Certainly Not Least

Thanks to all of you who donated to the Spirit of America Friends of Iraq Blogger Challenge- no matter which team you decided to go with. Special thanks to Jim Hake for spearheading the effort, Quilly (fellow LGFer) for starting up the team, and our wonderful teammates:

Carolina Girl, Modern Crusader, TheCO, and ThooLou's Lair. We raised over $1150 big ones! Overall, the challenge netted a cool 90 G's- way to go everyone! Thanks to all who gave...

Saturday, December 18, 2004

Speech by Haim Harari

I wasn't going to post anything today, but I just read VDH's latest (a true masterpiece) about why today's "liberals" aren't really liberal. It reminded me of a speech that I linked to in my very first post- a speech given by Haim Harari in April of 2004. It really captured the essence of why I believe in what I've been doing for the past few years. I wish every soldier would read it. I decided to post the entire thing today. It's long, but it's so very worthwhile...

A View from the Eye of the Storm

Talk delivered by Haim Harari at a meeting of the International Advisory Board of a large multi-national corporation, April, 2004:

"As you know, I usually provide the scientific and technological "entertainment" in our meetings, but, on this occasion, our Chairman suggested that I present my own personal view on events in the part of the world from which I come. I have never been and I will never be a Government official and I have no privileged information. My perspective is entirely based on what I see, on what I read and on the fact that my family has lived in this region for almost 200 years. You may regard my views as those of the proverbial taxi driver, which you are supposed to question, when you visit a country.

I could have shared with you some fascinating facts and some personal thoughts about the Israeli-Arab conflict. However, I will touch upon it only in passing. I prefer to devote most of my remarks to the broader picture of the region and its place in world events. I refer to the entire area between Pakistan and Morocco, which is predominantly Arab, predominantly Moslem, but includes many non-Arab and also significant non-Moslem minorities.

Why do I put aside Israel and its own immediate neighborhood? Because Israel and any problems related to it, in spite of what you might read or hear in the world media, is not the central issue, and has never been the central issue in the upheaval in the region. Yes, there is a 100 year-old Israeli-Arab conflict, but it is not where the main show is. The millions who died in the Iran-Iraq war had nothing to do with Israel. The mass murder happening right now in Sudan, where the Arab Moslem regime is massacring its black Christian citizens, has nothing to do with Israel. The frequent reports from Algeria about the murders of hundreds of civilian in one village or another by other Algerians have nothing to do with Israel. Saddam Hussein did not invade Kuwait, endangered Saudi Arabia and butchered his own people because of Israel. Egypt did not use poison gas against Yemen in the 60's because of Israel. Assad the Father did not kill tens of thousands of his own citizens in one week in El Hamma in Syria because of Israel. The Taliban control of Afghanistan and the civil war there had nothing to do with Israel. The Libyan blowing up of the Pan-Am flight had nothing to do with Israel, and I could go on and on and on.

The root of the trouble is that this entire Moslem region is totally dysfunctional, by any standard of the word, and would have been so even if Israel would have joined the Arab league and an independent Palestine would have existed for 100 years. The 22 member countries of the Arab league, from Mauritania to the Gulf States, have a total population of 300 millions, larger than the US and almost as large as the EU before its expansion. They have a land area larger than either the US or all of Europe. These 22 countries, with all their oil and natural resources, have a combined GDP smaller than that of Netherlands plus Belgium and equal to half of the GDP of California alone. Within this meager GDP, the gaps between rich and poor are beyond belief and too many of the rich made their money not by succeeding in business, but by being corrupt rulers. The social status of women is far below what it was in the Western World 150 years ago. Human rights are below any reasonable standard, in spite of the grotesque fact that Libya was elected Chair of the UN Human Rights commission. According to a report prepared by a committee of Arab intellectuals and published under the auspices of the U.N., the number of books translated by the entire Arab world is much smaller than what little Greece alone translates. The total number of scientific publications of 300 million Arabs is less than that of 6 million Israelis. Birth rates in the region are very high, increasing the poverty, the social gaps and the cultural decline. And all of this is happening in a region, which only 30 years ago, was believed to be the next wealthy part of the world, and in a Moslem area, which developed, at some point in history, one of the most advanced cultures in the world.

It is fair to say that this creates an unprecedented breeding ground for cruel dictators, terror networks, fanaticism, incitement, suicide murders and general decline. It is also a fact that almost everybody in the region blames this situation on the United States, on Israel, on Western Civilization, on Judaism and Christianity, on anyone and anything, except themselves.

Do I say all of this with the satisfaction of someone discussing the failings of his enemies? On the contrary, I firmly believe that the world would have been a much better place and my own neighborhood would have been much more pleasant and peaceful, if things were different.

I should also say a word about the millions of decent, honest, good people who are either devout Moslems or are not very religious but grew up in Moslem families. They are double victims of an outside world, which now develops Islamophobia and of their own environment, which breaks their heart by being totally dysfunctional. The problem is that the vast silent majority of these Moslems are not part of the terror and of the incitement but they also do not stand up against it. They become accomplices, by omission, and this applies to political leaders, intellectuals, business people and many others. Many of them can certainly tell right from wrong, but are afraid to express their views.

The events of the last few years have amplified four issues, which have always existed, but have never been as rampant as in the present upheaval in the region. These are the four main pillars of the current World Conflict, or perhaps we should already refer to it as "the undeclared World War III". I have no better name for the present situation. A few more years may pass before everybody acknowledges that it is a World War, but we are already well into it.

The first element is the suicide murder. Suicide murders are not a new invention but they have been made popular, if I may use this expression, only lately. Even after September 11, it seems that most of the Western World does not yet understand this weapon. It is a very potent psychological weapon. Its real direct impact is relatively minor. The total number of casualties from hundreds of suicide murders within Israel in the last three years is much smaller than those due to car accidents. September 11 was quantitatively much less lethal than many earthquakes. More people die from AIDS in one day in Africa than all the Russians who died in the hands of Chechnya-based Moslem suicide murderers since that conflict started. Saddam killed every month more people than all those who died from suicide murders since the Coalition occupation of Iraq.

So what is all the fuss about suicide killings? It creates headlines. It is spectacular. It is frightening. It is a very cruel death with bodies dismembered and horrible severe lifelong injuries to many of the wounded. It is always shown on television in great detail. One such murder, with the help of hysterical media coverage, can destroy the tourism industry of a country for quite a while, as it did in Bali and in Turkey.

But the real fear comes from the undisputed fact that no defense and no preventive measures can succeed against a determined suicide murderer. This has not yet penetrated the thinking of the Western World. The U.S. and Europe are constantly improving their defense against the last murder, not the next one. We may arrange for the best airport security in the world. But if you want to murder by suicide, you do not have to board a plane in order to explode yourself and kill many people. Who could stop a suicide murder in the midst of the crowded line waiting to be checked by the airport metal detector? How about the lines to the check-in counters in a busy
travel period? Put a metal detector in front of every train station in Spain and the terrorists will get the buses. Protect the buses and they will explode in movie theaters, concert halls, supermarkets, shopping malls, schools and hospitals. Put guards in front of every concert hall and there will always be a line of people to be checked by the guards and this line will be the target, not to speak of killing the guards themselves. You can somewhat reduce your vulnerability by preventive and defensive measures and by strict border controls but not eliminate it and definitely not win the war in a defensive way. And it is a war!

What is behind the suicide murders? Money, power and cold-blooded murderous incitement, nothing else. It has nothing to do with true fanatic religious beliefs. No Moslem preacher has ever blown himself up. No son of an Arab politician or religious leader has ever blown himself. No relative of anyone influential has done it. Wouldn't you expect some of the religious leaders to do it themselves, or to talk their sons into doing it, if this is truly a supreme act of religious fervor? Aren't they interested in the benefits of going to Heaven? Instead, they send outcast women, naïve children, retarded people and young incited hotheads. They promise them the delights, mostly sexual, of the next world, and pay their families handsomely after the supreme act is performed and enough innocent people are dead.

Suicide murders also have nothing to do with poverty and despair. The poorest region in the world, by far, is Africa. It never happens there. There are numerous desperate people in the world, in different cultures, countries and continents. Desperation does not provide anyone with explosives, reconnaissance and transportation. There was certainly more despair in Saddam's Iraq then in Paul Bremmer's Iraq, and no one exploded himself. A suicide murder is simply a horrible, vicious weapon of cruel, inhuman, cynical, well-funded terrorists, with no regard to human life, including the life of their fellow countrymen, but with very high regard to their own affluent well-being and their hunger for power.

The only way to fight this new "popular" weapon is identical to the only way in which you fight organized crime or pirates on the high seas: the offensive way. Like in the case of organized crime, it is crucial that the forces on the offensive be united and it is crucial to reach the top of the crime pyramid. You cannot eliminate organized crime by arresting the little drug dealer in the street corner. You must go after the head of the "Family".

If part of the public supports it, others tolerate it, many are afraid of it and some try to explain it away by poverty or by a miserable childhood, organized crime will thrive and so will terrorism. The United States understands this now, after September 11. Russia is beginning to understand it. Turkey understands it well. I am very much afraid that most of Europe still does not understand it. Unfortunately, it seems that Europe will understand it only after suicide murders will arrive in Europe in a big way. In my humble opinion, this will definitely happen. The Spanish trains and the Istanbul bombings are only the beginning. The unity of the Civilized World in fighting this horror is absolutely indispensable. Until Europe wakes up, this unity will not be achieved.

The second ingredient is words, more precisely lies. Words can be lethal. They kill people. It is often said that politicians, diplomats and perhaps also lawyers and business people must sometimes lie, as part of their professional life. But the norms of politics and diplomacy are childish, in comparison with the level of incitement and total absolute deliberate fabrications, which have reached new heights in the region we are talking about. An incredible number of people in the Arab world believe that September 11 never happened, or was an American provocation or, even better, a Jewish plot.

You all remember the Iraqi Minister of Information, Mr. Mouhamad Said al-Sahaf and his press conferences when the US forces were already inside Baghdad. Disinformation at time of war is an accepted tactic. But to stand, day after day, and to make such preposterous statements, known to everybody to be lies, without even being ridiculed in your own milieu, can only happen in this region. Mr. Sahaf eventually became a popular icon as a court jester, but this did not stop some allegedly respectable newspapers from giving him equal time. It also does not prevent the Western press from giving credence, every day, even now, to similar liars. After all, if you want to be an anti-Semite, there are subtle ways of doing it. You do not have to claim that the holocaust never happened and that the Jewish temple in Jerusalem never existed. But millions of Moslems are told by their leaders that this is the case. When these same leaders make other statements, the Western media report them as if they could be true.

It is a daily occurrence that the same people, who finance, arm and dispatch suicide murderers, condemn the act in English in front of western TV cameras, talking to a world audience, which even partly believes them. It is a daily routine to hear the same leader making opposite statements in Arabic to his people and in English to the rest of the world. Incitement by Arab TV, accompanied by horror pictures of mutilated bodies, has become a powerful weapon of those who lie, distort and want to destroy everything. Little children are raised on deep hatred and on admiration of so-called martyrs, and the Western World does not notice it because its own TV sets are mostly tuned to soap operas and game shows. I recommend to you, even though most of you do not understand Arabic, to watch Al Jazeera, from time to time. You will not believe your own eyes.

But words also work in other ways, more subtle. A demonstration in Berlin, carrying banners supporting Saddam's regime and featuring three-year old babies dressed as suicide murderers, is defined by the press and by political leaders as a "peace demonstration". You may support or oppose the Iraq war, but to refer to fans of Saddam, Arafat or Bin Laden as peace activists is a bit too much. A woman walks into an Israeli restaurant in mid-day, eats, observes families with old people and children eating their lunch in the adjacent tables and pays the bill. She then blows herself up, killing 20 people, including many children, with heads and arms rolling around in the restaurant. She is called "martyr" by several Arab leaders and "activist" by the European press. Dignitaries condemn the act but visit her bereaved family and the money flows.

There is a new game in town: The actual murderer is called "the military wing", the one who pays him, equips him and sends him is now called "the political wing" and the head of the operation is called the "spiritual leader". There are numerous other examples of such Orwellian nomenclature, used every day not only by terror chiefs but also by Western media. These words are much more dangerous than many people realize. They provide an emotional infrastructure for atrocities. It was Joseph Goebels who said that if you repeat a lie often enough, people will believe it. He is now being outperformed by his successors.

The third aspect is money. Huge amounts of money, which could have solved many social problems in this dysfunctional part of the world, are channeled into three concentric spheres supporting death and murder. In the inner circle are the terrorists themselves. The money funds their travel, explosives, hideouts and permanent search for soft vulnerable targets. They are surrounded by a second wider circle of direct supporters, planners, commanders, preachers, all of whom make a living, usually a very comfortable living, by serving as terror infrastructure. Finally, we find the third circle of so-called religious, educational and welfare organizations, which actually do some good, feed the hungry and provide some schooling, but brainwash a new generation with hatred, lies and ignorance. This circle operates mostly through mosques, madrasas and other religious establishments but also through inciting electronic and printed media. It is this circle that makes sure that women remain inferior, that democracy is unthinkable and that exposure to the outside world is minimal. It is also that circle that leads the way in blaming everybody outside the Moslem world, for the miseries of the region.

Figuratively speaking, this outer circle is the guardian, which makes sure that the people look and listen inwards to the inner circle of terror and incitement, rather than to the world outside. Some parts of this same outer circle actually operate as a result of fear from, or blackmail by, the inner circles. The horrifying added factor is the high birth rate. Half of the population of the Arab world is under the age of 20, the most receptive age to incitement, guaranteeing two more generations of blind hatred.

Of the three circles described above, the inner circles are primarily financed by terrorist states like Iran and Syria, until recently also by Iraq and Libya and earlier also by some of the Communist regimes. These states, as well as the Palestinian Authority, are the safe havens of the wholesale murder vendors. The outer circle is largely financed by Saudi Arabia, but also by donations from certain Moslem communities in the United States and Europe and, to a smaller extent, by donations of European Governments to various NGO's and by certain United Nations organizations, whose goals may be noble, but they are infested and exploited by agents of the outer circle. The Saudi regime, of course, will be the next victim of major terror, when the inner circle will explode into the outer circle. The Saudis are beginning to understand it, but they fight the inner circles, while still financing the infrastructure at the outer circle.?

Some of the leaders of these various circles live very comfortably on their loot. You meet their children in the best private schools in Europe, not in the training camps of suicide murderers. The Jihad "soldiers" join packaged death tours to Iraq and other hotspots, while some of their leaders ski in Switzerland. Mrs. Arafat, who lives in Paris with her daughter, receives tens of thousands Dollars per month from the allegedly bankrupt Palestinian Authority while a typical local ringleader of the Al-Aksa brigade, reporting to Arafat, receives only a cash payment of a couple of hundred dollars, for performing murders at the retail level?

The fourth element of the current world conflict is the total breaking of all laws. The civilized world believes in democracy, the rule of law, including international law, human rights, free speech and free press, among other liberties. There are naïve old-fashioned habits such as respecting religious sites and symbols, not using ambulances and hospitals for acts of war, avoiding the mutilation of dead bodies and not using children as human shields or human bombs. Never in history, not even in the Nazi period, was there such total disregard of all of the above as we observe now. Every student of political science debates how you prevent an anti-democratic force from winning a democratic election and abolishing democracy. Other aspects of a civilized society must also have limitations. Can a policeman open fire on someone trying to kill him? Can a government listen to phone conversations of terrorists and drug dealers? Does free speech protects you when you shout "fire" in a crowded theater? Should there be death penalty, for deliberate multiple murders? These are the old-fashioned dilemmas. But now we have an entire new set.

Do you raid a mosque, which serves as a terrorist ammunition storage? Do you return fire, if you are attacked from a hospital? Do you storm a church taken over by terrorists who took the priests hostages? Do you search every ambulance after a few suicide murderers use ambulances to reach their targets? Do you strip every woman because one pretended to be pregnant and carried a suicide bomb on her belly? Do you shoot back at someone trying to kill you, standing deliberately behind a group of children? Do you raid terrorist headquarters, hidden in a mental hospital? Do you shoot an arch-murderer who deliberately moves from one location to another, always surrounded by children? All of these happen daily in Iraq and in the Palestinian areas. What do you do? Well, you do not want to face the dilemma. But it cannot be avoided.

Suppose, for the sake of discussion, that someone would openly stay in a well-known address in Teheran, hosted by the Iranian Government and financed by it, executing one atrocity after another in Spain or in France, killing hundreds of innocent people, accepting responsibility for the crimes, promising in public TV interviews to do more of the same, while the Government of Iran issues public condemnations of his acts but continues to host him, invite him to official functions and treat him as a great dignitary. I leave it to you as homework to figure out what Spain or France would have done, in such a situation.

The problem is that the civilized world is still having illusions about the rule of law in a totally lawless environment. It is trying to play ice hockey by sending a ballerina ice-skater into the rink or to knock out a heavyweight boxer by a chess player. In the same way that no country has a law against cannibals eating its prime minister, because such an act is unthinkable, international law does not address killers shooting from hospitals, mosques and ambulances, while being protected by their Government or society. International law does not know how to handle someone who sends children to throw stones, stands behind them and shoots with immunity and cannot be arrested because he is sheltered by a Government. International law does not know how to deal with a leader of murderers who is royally and comfortably hosted by a country, which pretends to condemn his acts or just claims to be too weak to arrest him. The amazing thing is that all of these crooks demand protection under international law and define all those who attack them as war criminals, with some Western media repeating the allegations. The good news is that all of this is temporary, because the evolution of international law has always adapted itself to reality. The punishment for suicide murder should be death or arrest before the murder, not during and not after. After every world war, the rules of international law have changed and the same will happen after the present one. But during the twilight zone, a lot of harm can be done.

The picture I described here is not pretty. What can we do about it? In the short run, only fight and win. In the long run ? only educate the next generation and open it to the world. The inner circles can and must be destroyed by force. The outer circle cannot be eliminated by force. Here we need financial starvation of the organizing elite, more power to women, more education, counter propaganda, boycott whenever feasible and access to Western media, internet and the international scene. Above all, we need a total absolute unity and determination of the civilized world against all three circles of evil.

Allow me, for a moment, to depart from my alleged role as a taxi driver and return to science. When you have a malignant tumor, you may remove the tumor itself surgically. You may also starve it by preventing new blood from reaching it from other parts of the body, thereby preventing new "supplies" from expanding the tumor. If you want to be sure, it is best to do both.

But before you fight and win, by force or otherwise, you have to realize that you are in a war, and this may take Europe a few more years. In order to win, it is necessary to first eliminate the terrorist regimes, so that no Government in the world will serve as a safe haven for these people. I do not want to comment here on whether the American-led attack on Iraq was justified from the point of view of weapons of mass destruction or any other pre-war argument, but I can look at the post-war map of Western Asia. Now that Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya are out, two and a half terrorist states remain: Iran, Syria and Lebanon, the latter being a Syrian colony. Perhaps Sudan should be added to the list. As a result of the conquest of Afghanistan and Iraq, both Iran and Syria are now totally surrounded by territories unfriendly to them. Iran is encircled by Afghanistan, by the Gulf States, Iraq and the Moslem republics of the former Soviet Union. Syria is surrounded by Turkey, Iraq, Jordan and Israel. This is a significant strategic change and it applies strong pressure on the terrorist countries. It is not surprising that Iran is so active in trying to incite a Shiite uprising in Iraq. I do not know if the American plan was actually to encircle both Iran and Syria, but that is the resulting situation.

In my humble opinion, the number one danger to the world today is Iran and its regime. It definitely has ambitions to rule vast areas and to expand in all directions. It has an ideology, which claims supremacy over Western culture. It is ruthless. It has proven that it can execute elaborate terrorist acts without leaving too many traces, using Iranian Embassies. It is clearly trying to develop Nuclear Weapons. Its so-called moderates and conservatives play their own virtuoso version of the "good-cop versus bad-cop" game. Iran sponsors Syrian terrorism, it is certainly behind much of the action in Iraq, it is fully funding the Hizbullah and, through it, the Palestinian Hamas and Islamic Jihad, it performed acts of terror at least in Europe and in South America and probably also in Uzbekistan and Saudi Arabia and it truly leads a multi-national terror consortium, which includes, as minor players, Syria, Lebanon and certain Shiite elements in Iraq. Nevertheless, most European countries still trade with Iran, try to appease it and refuse to read the clear signals.

In order to win the war it is also necessary to dry the financial resources of the terror conglomerate. It is pointless to try to understand the subtle differences between the Sunni terror of Al Qaida and Hamas and the Shiite terror of Hizbullah, Sadr and other Iranian inspired enterprises. When it serves their business needs, all of them collaborate beautifully.

It is crucial to stop Saudi and other financial support of the outer circle, which is the fertile breeding ground of terror. It is important to monitor all donations from the Western World to Islamic organizations, to monitor the finances of international relief organizations and to react with forceful economic measures to any small sign of financial aid to any of the three circles of terrorism. It is also important to act decisively against the campaign of lies and fabrications and to monitor those Western media who collaborate with it out of naivety, financial interests or ignorance.

Above all, never surrender to terror. No one will ever know whether the recent elections in Spain would have yielded a different result, if not for the train bombings a few days earlier. But it really does not matter. What matters is that the terrorists believe that they caused the result and that they won by driving Spain out of Iraq. The Spanish story will surely end up being extremely costly to other European countries, including France, who is now expelling inciting preachers and forbidding veils and including others who sent troops to Iraq. In the long run, Spain itself will pay even more.

Is the solution a democratic Arab world? If by democracy we mean free elections but also free press, free speech, a functioning judicial system, civil liberties, equality to women, free international travel, exposure to international media and ideas, laws against racial incitement and against defamation, and avoidance of lawless behavior regarding hospitals, places of worship and children, then yes, democracy is the solution. If democracy is just free elections, it is likely that the most fanatic regime will be elected, the one whose incitement and fabrications are the most inflammatory. We have seen it already in Algeria and, to a certain extent, in Turkey. It will happen again, if the ground is not prepared very carefully. On the other hand, a certain transition democracy, as in Jordan, may be a better temporary solution, paving the way for the real thing, perhaps in the same way that an immediate sudden democracy did not work in Russia and would not have worked in China.

I have no doubt that the civilized world will prevail. But the longer it takes us to understand the new landscape of this war, the more costly and painful the victory will be. Europe, more than any other region, is the key. Its understandable recoil from wars, following the horrors of World War II, may cost thousands of additional innocent lives, before the tide will turn."

HAIM HARARI, a theoretical physicist, is the Chair, Davidson Institute of Science Education, and Former President, from 1988 to 2001, of the Weizmann Institute of Science. During his years as President of the Institute, the Institute entered numerous new scientific fields and projects, built 47 new buildings, raised one Billion Dollars in philanthropic money, hired more than half of its current tenured Professors and became one of the highest royalty-earning academic organizations in the world.

Throughout all his adult life, Harari has made major contributions to three different fields: Particle Physics Research on the international scene, Science Education in the Israeli school system and Science Administration and Policy Making.