Friday, September 16, 2005

McMaster Tells It Like It Is

CENTCOM just posted a friendly message from Terrorist-du-jour Abu-Mus'ab al-Zarqawi. Check it out, and see how the other side thinks. Here's a peek:

Since yesterday, the battles for revenge started all over the land of the two rivers. The raid for avenging the Sunni people in Tall far has started.

Celebrate and sing the praise of God, O nation of Islam. The battalions of monotheism have set out, pledging to die in support of the faith and its people. They were spearheaded by the best of the battalions, the Al-Bara Bin-Malik Battalion.

Approach us, O paradise. O brigade of martyrdom-seeker: Celebrate and sing the praise of God, for tomorrow you will meet the beloved ones, Muhammad and his companions. You have never accepted injustice, O lions of monotheism. This is your day. Go after the heads of the infidels, the Jews, the Crusaders, and the descendants of Ibn al-Alqami [derogatory term for Shia named after Ibn-al-Alqami, a Shia minister who was accused of betraying the last Abbasid caliph Al-Musta'ism during Hulugu's attack on Baghdad in 1258]. Do not show any mercy toward them.

Sounds like he's throwing down the gauntlet, huh? I think I know what's got him so ruffled. It seems that my old history professor, COL H.R. McMaster, decided to put some roadblocks on Syria's terrorist expressway. Here's a clip from the COL's recent press briefing (thanks to Mike for sending):

Q: You've painted an extremely rosy picture of your campaign so far. Have you taken and secured Tall Afar, and are you going to be able to hold it and keep it?

COL. MCMASTER: Yeah. Those are great questions. Nothing's rosy in Iraq, okay? So I don't want to give you an unrealistic perspective here. What I tried to describe with you was a continuous interaction with the enemy that we've had since our arrival, but an interaction that has been in our favor. We've maintained the initiative over this enemy.

So is Tall Afar secure? No, it's not secure. Is the enemy on the run in Tall Afar? Yes, the enemy's on the run. And we're going to conduct some follow-on operations in the next week or so to relentlessly pursue the enemy across the city.

The standard for success for us here is to ensure that the enemy can no longer wage an effective campaign of intimidation over the population of Tall Afar. And to get to your question, in terms of can we permanently secure it, the answer is, yes, and we're taking all measures to do that. In fact, it's the most complicated part of the mission, is how we provide permanent security. We're introducing Iraqi security forces into the center of the city. Iraqi army will have access to the population. They'll be in patrol bases in the interior of the city.

I think my old prof sounds more intelligent than Zarqawi, but maybe I'm biased. Bottom line- Zarqawi is upset. Which brings me to my next point. During my last few posts, I invited some thoughtful debate about why our government decided to remove Saddam from power. I saw some good points from all sides, and I appreciate all the emails and comments. My thoughts on the subject are simple- the terrorists want us to fail in Iraq. They have decided that their very survival depends on turning Iraq into another Mogidishu. If this were to happen, it would be the unthinkable. This is why our troops are there. This is why failure is not an option. It doesn't matter what Saddam had or didn't have. It doesn't matter what he was planning to do in the future. That's all been settled. The fight is with a different enemy now- an enemy that has very little to do with Saddam (they didn't like him either), and everything to do with the ongoing fight against terrorists.

More on this later, but for now I'd just encourage everyone to read COL McMaster's entire press briefing- it's good reading and it really puts the current situation in perspective. And please- read the news releases on the CENTCOM page. This conflict has entered a new phase, and the MSM has no clue what's going on.

More bad news for Zarqawi and the gang- the 101st Airborne Division is heading back to Iraq. Stay tuned...

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Armed Forces Retirement Home

I found the following post at Rick Lippincott's site. It caught my attention because I'm quite familiar with AFRH's in DC and Gulfport. There are many worthy causes to contribute to in the wake of the Katrina disaster, and I'm just throwing this one out there because I think it's a good one...

The Armed Forces Retirement Home facility in Gulfport, MS has suffered severe damage from Hurricane Katrina.

The AFRH is the facility that cares for veterans (both men and women) in their declining years. The Gulfport facility was built in the early 1980s, originally as the US Naval Home before the military retirement home systems consolidated a few years back.

As a result of the damage to the Gulfport facility, the AFRH has to relocate over 400 aged veterans to the other AFRH facility in Washington DC. As I write this, they're on buses heading north.

According to this story (originally from the Washington Post), quote:

Timothy C. Cox, chief operating officer in charge of both homes, said 10 feet of water surged into the ground floor of the Gulfport home, ruining the kitchen, dining room, bowling alley and long-term care facility and submerging the emergency generator. The hurricane also blew down the home's water tower...

Scores of people volunteered to help prepare for the newcomers, Cox said. Sheila Abarr, a spokeswoman for the home, said others interested in volunteering can call 202-730-3410. Donations of such toiletries as soap and shampoo also will be accepted, she said. Donations can be made by calling 800-422-9988.

He said the homes, which are operated jointly, did not have money in the budget to pay for housing the Gulfport residents in Washington but did have money in a trust fund. The homes are operated with funds from a $119 million trust fund and together have a $58 million annual budget.

The AFRH will accept donations to the trust fund, or the donations of the toiletries and such.

Donations may be sent to:

13053700 N. Capitol St. NW
Washington, DC 20011-8400

You can call for further information at: (800) 332-3527.

There are many organizations working to help the victims of Hurricane Katrina, and donations to any one of them will do good. But a donation of relatively small, simple items will go directly into the hands of an elderly vet.

My grandfather spent the last dozen or so years of his life in Gulfport, and it literally was his home. The residents there all view the quarters as their home, and they've been taken from it just as traumatically as the thousands of civilians who have also lost their homes. These old vets have nowhere else to go. Some of them don't have families, either.

These men and women fought for our freedom. The least we can do is send down a few cans of shaving cream and a couple of bottles of shampoo.

And while you're at it, consider throwing in a short note that says "Thanks for serving."

Friday, September 02, 2005

RM Steps Up

Commenter "RM" stepped up to my challenge, and here's what he said:


With all due respect, an implication or inference is not something you can prove. All President's speeches are highly crafted to send multiple messages to broad constituencies. Different people hear different things and rarely is it unintentional.

Many people simply "heard" Bush make a connection between Iraq and 911. Were they stupid? Poor listeners? Who knows. They are voters however and the President needed them to support the war.

Evidence aside, your gut should tell you that Bush did everything in his power to build the case for war, including implying a connection to 911, and raising the specre of a nuclear attack. What exactly about Bush would make you think he would shy away from bending the facts to make his case?

I don't know why people cant just acknowledge that he manipulated the public, and THEN debate if it was necessary or not, and what the effect of that manipulation might be for American society.

The closest thing to proof of his desire to link 911 to Iraq is the assertion, "fight them over there, so we don't have to fight them here". As the London bombing proved, the statement is patently absurd, and even contradicts his own words that more attacks on the US are inevitable. If this is a global war then how can it have a front line?


Thanks for your input- you lay out your argument in an intelligent and thoughtful manner, and for that I commend you. Now here's where you're wrong-

Yes, Bush did everything in his power to make his case for war- if I were President, I'd have done the same thing. I would not expect any President to say, "Hey, I'm going to invade a country right now- trust me it's the right thing to do, and I'll tell you all about it later."

Of course he's going to lay out his case! And he's going to have thousands of staffers get together and form a PR campaign that essentially says "here's why we're going to war."

As a member of the 101st Airborne Division, I knew that I'd be one of the first to go over there, so I listened CAREFULLY. I'm going to say it again- not once did I hear anyone in his administration even imply that Iraq was involved in planning and/or executing the attacks on 9/11. To do so would have been absolutely absurd. Anyone who knew anything about 9/11 knew that the 19 hijackers were mostly Saudi (none Iraqi) and that it was an act of bin Laden's AQ network- I wouldn't insult anyone's intelligence to suggest otherwise, and I wouldn't expect our governement officials to do so either.

I agree with you- some people may have been "poor listeners" or just "too stupid" to grasp the literal meaning of what was said. That's their problem- if they can't pay attention or if they hear only what they want to hear, that's great- they just need to be prepared to lose any debate that they decide to engage in. If they hear Bush say "9/11" and "Iraq" in the same sentence and then conclude that he must have meant that Iraq was responsible for 9/11, then I can't help them. But when they tell me (a person who actually listened to him) that Bush said "Iraq was responsible for 9/11," I'm going to call them out every single time. I'm going to tell them that they're wrong. I'm going to ask them to show me where he said that or even implied it. And when they say "well, I can't really think of a specific time when he said it, but I know for a fact that he used '9/11' and 'Iraq' in the same sentence!" then I'm going to devaluate their argument- severely. I'm going to tell them that maybe they should listen to the whole sentence- better yet- the whole speach, before attempting to argue about what Bush said or even "really meant to say." If those people had been on the verge of a deployment, they probably would have listened a little more carefully. Last thing- I don't think it's a coincidence that the vast majority of those "poor listeners" are card-carrying Bush-bashers.

Did he bend the facts? No. He did not. I've not seen one shred of evidence to suggest that he "bent any facts"- our intelligence matched up with every intellegence agency in the world. He did, however, present a lot of reasons (some turned out to be better than others) for going to war. Is this manipulation? I suppose you could call it that. I'd call it "doing his job."

Here's where you're right-

I think you were alluding to this debate:

"If Bush did lie/cheat/steal in order sway public opinion in support of this war, why does that automatically have to be a bad thing?"

I agree with you 100%- this is an excellent topic for debate. It brings up a ton of points to consider. Here's just a few...

1) Is political correctness a factor? You know- in the sense that we can't just come out and say "Hey we need to transform the middle east before that place becomes infested with Islamic fundementalists." Iraq would be the logical first step because Saddam is hated and despised by the vast majority of his constituents for obvious reasons (he kills them a lot, etc.), and so we build our case for going in without ticking off the entire Muslim world...

2) Does this mean it's okay for our government to lie to us? If it's in our best interest? For the sake of national security? Certainly it's been done before, right? Are there times when we have to act on a certain geopolitical agenda, even though it would outrage our overly-politically correct culture (especially the "poor listeners" who really just can't seem to get a handle on things)?

Just a few questions that can be debated until the end of time.

I agree with you about the "we fight them over there, so we don't have to fight them over here" stuff, but I think you read a little too much into it. I don't see anything in that statement that suggests Iraq was responsible for 9/11. I think it's pretty obvious that he's making the point that there are terrorists over there who are fighting like hell to keep Iraq from becoming a free society- and it's better that they are engaged in that fight instead of planning and executing attacks on US soil.

I don't like the way he phrases that statement, because it implies that it's "OK" for terrorists to be raising hell in some other country- as long as they're not in our back yard. It's sort of a selfish way of putting it. I can tell you that the Iraqi people (whom we are there to help) would rather we be fighting those terrorists in Iowa instead of Baghdad and Mosul, and I certainly don't blame them. But most of them accept that it's a battle between good and evil that needs to be fought and won by the good guys (the good guys being us and the Iraqi Security Forces).

I believe that we will prevail in Iraq- and when we do, the Iraqis will begin to enjoy life again. The entire middle east will follow them towards the path of freedom, and the world will be a better place. And I'll just be glad to have been a part of it...