Thursday, August 23, 2007
In Taji, it turned out - we had no reliable internet access. Then once my roomate and I found and paid a guy named Sadik to hook us up - my lap-top crashed completely. I got it fixed (memoryt lost) about two months later with the help of some very busy commo guys attached to our unit, but by then we were in transient housing - two weeks out from our bird back to Kuwait.
Since I've been home, I either couldn't remember my login or password, but with the help of some Google folks - somehow I'm back in. I hope I'm able to re-access it after tonight.
What have I been doing? Being a bum. A professional bum, plus some travelling - and of course - gardening. I've got oh . . . 5 months of photographs with comments to catch you up on - and I fully intend to get started on that herculanean task this week. (I'm off to the UK next week, (for pleasure, not business)).
I hope you all are well. I've still got my ten fingers and ten toes. My company back at the PRT all made it out safely, our battalion (about 330 persons) - scattered throughout Baghdad and environs suffered 9 killed and some 20-odd purple-hearts. Many of the injured returned to duty of their own accord. And of course some of them could not, (the more grievously wounded). My piece of the "surge" (myself and one other were sent to support a surge brigade in Taji) also went as well as could be expected. Our Taji-replacements are now leaving Iraq (they were on a 6-month tour), with no casualties. Although I've since learned our surge Brigade has taken some serious casualties.
My thoughts haven't changed. And I'll be able to more fully expound in later postings. Even with the surge working, it remains to be seen what Iraqis are willing to give/have/do towards a functioning multi-party democracy. It is certainly "not in the water" over there. I have never suggested pulling US troops out, except in jest - as a precursor to atomizing the entire country, but I still can't tell you what the end game is. CORRECTION: I can tell you what the notional end-game is, I just can't yet see how to get there. Pulling out is the worst of all answers. I guess the implication of what I'm saying is our presence might be required for the next 50 years or more, and if that is required - so be it.
That is not what any of us would have wished, but it is not the worst of outcomes. (I would also entertain any proposed partition).
I hope you all are well. And thanks for writing!
Thursday, February 01, 2007
I was informed on Monday that I will be moving, along with one other soldier from my unit. Somehwere else here in Baghdad province, but out into the "suburbs". HA! As if there were any we'd recognize. I won't be too far from home, but I will be serving the remainder of my time here outside the IZ, and my comfortable abode.
With ten months served, and two to go, that went over like a turd in my coffee. But it is what it is. And who knows? We could always get extended!!!! Yaaayyyyy! Dump some ice cold water on me while I'm sleep-walking through my last 1/6 of tour. (Just as the NYT and the WSJ are to embed with the PRT. seriously. Beginning next week).
So be it. But I'm short on information for you. Where I'll be exactly. What I'll be doing. What will my living arrangements be like? All unknown at this point. But tomorrow we leave, and I'll get back on this blog just as soon as I can. In the unlikely event that where I'm going doesn't have any connectivity, this will be adieu . . . till I can get on somewhere.
Stay tuned . . .
And as for the previous post - What I forgot to "distill" - and thanks for reminding me "Thomas" - is the following. This war is awful, now. But try and contrast that with how bad things could get. How awful things might be along those funny contours and imaginary boundaries between Islam and the rest of the world. At the very least, we are drawing them here like flypaper. Good, old, reliable Arab pride being used strategically. (Ahhhhhhhhhhh). Now see what you can come up with: (taking fullest strategic advantage of cultural distinctions.)
Tuesday, January 30, 2007
I'm also chuffed (British English I picked up in Britain - meaning happy and excited) to learn you guys are still on board, despite your misgivings. (That's OK. that's how we figure things out - and why we lead the world - freedom of inquiry married to dedicated delibertion.
War sucks. That's an understatement. Americans are dying here, and not in pleasant ways. That is the nature of war, it is an unpalatable choice. And if I must flog a dead horse I will: The world didn't have the stomach for war when Hitler annexed the Sudentenland. Many of our closest allies didn't have the stomach for much of a confrontation with the Soviet Union. And a whole heaping load of good it did, and lives it spared. Pleasant thoughts did not stop the Blitzkrieg, an unreconstructed neanderthal named George S Patton did. Wishful thinking did not stop the gulags. They churned unabated for eight decades, destroying souls who have effectively been erased from history. Liberty requires vigilance - a lesson lost, I think, after the howling-mad blood-bath of WWI. A war that's not talked about enough, because its overshadowed by the Second.
And as for this romanticized notion of the "Good war", lets not forget the mutual extra-judicial killings on the Western front in 1944, or the busy trade we had with Germany in 1915, or you want civil protest? Try the draft riots in New York in 1864. War is messy. War is failure. War is evil. War is whatever epithet you'd like to pin to it - but say it with me now: "War . . . is . . . sometimes . . . necessary." The best we can hope for is a quick victory. War swallows whole the good with the bad, the well-intentioned, the orphans, and the honorable with everyone else. We made it as "surgical" as technologically possible following the "stupid" bombs of Vietnam - and apparently even convinced ourselves that wars could be won without infantry (Bosnia-Serbia), or worse still - that great powers could choose to lose little insignificant wars like Somalia with no blow-back. (Does anyone need a history-lesson of Al Qaeda in Somalia? Did we all get that class? Ok, then.) This is war. It requires boots on the ground, and soldiers in those boots. Those soldiers, much more often than we'd like get maimed, shot through the head, cut in half, burned alive, captured and decapitated, or suffer brain damage, and horrific injuries that will plague them the rest of their natural days. Beautiful, young American boys and girls with their whole realised potential ahead of them. It is awful. Full-stop. It is horrid beyond measure. And we thought it was consigned to history, but our polling data was flawed.
This is what it looks like when people of little means decide they don't like what you're offering. It doesn't make them right, or rational, or intelligent because they're poor and brown-skinned. Nor does it automatically make your cause illegit. because your soldiers wear $200 Ray-bans, and are augmented by any number of private contractors doing everything from spying to life-saving surgery. We brought what we got. They brought what they got. It is abominable and abhorrent and unspeakably ugly in our eyes - and thus we are confused. We thought this had passed into history. Our adversaries think it is normal, and glorious and a triumph of their collective will - the ugliness, and are proud that it scares us. They seek to exempt themselves from history, by covering us both in blood. . . . And we've over-stepped the question. War is a contest of wills. And if we believe in the universality of the message in our founding documents - our collective will is stronger. Do you believe in the right of every man and woman to marry, worship, write about whom they choose? OK then. Step 2: If someone with alot of armed men decides he should arbitrate what you or your neighbors can or can't do or belong to - who lives or dies according to his dogma - are you willing to do anything about it? Because if you're not, or if you answered "that's a matter for the security council to arbitrate", then for all PRACTICAL purposes - you're for the armed man and his thugs. Or at least - not against him. It is that simple, (not easy). I see it everyday in Baghdad. Everyone LOATHES the terrorists, and are quite positive (these days) about the AMERICANS doing something about it. I mean, we're here - and most don't have the stones to inform on the bomb-builder down the street. What about when we're gone? (full disclosure: I'm not sure those "self-evident truths" are so universal anymore, upon my aquaintance with the middle-east).
In the aftermath of WWI, the West was sick of God and country (although it wouldn't attain critical mass till two generations later) - as it was under these banners so many rushed head-long into the machine guns. (such is the delayed-response of history - we are living in response to the 70's and 80's today in many important ways). So we birthed Communism, which mid-wifed fascism. God replaced by ideology. A more "scientific" means of ordering society. If you throw Mau's revolution in with WWI and WWII, collectivization, other communist revolutions, and fascist revivals- the death toll runs well over 100 million souls. Thats the history of the 20th century - and I'll put that up against any number of iterations of the "black death", or bubonic plague in the days of pre-modern western medicine.
Imagine that. Humans willfully murdering, raping, gassing, bombing, starving more human beings than the unchecked bugs could do in the pre-modern pig-slop of medieval europe. All for what? To improve their lot? The species? It's madness. But madness alone is random, unorganized, happenstance brutality. I call it evil, and I don't see it as random. In fact, I believe it has an author and a purpose. To devour humanity.
And it never goes away. Like some science fiction B-movie, the smoldering clod in the corner of the room which the camera pans to before the credits - it portends its own return. Its return is already well underway. Call it the "human condition" if you like. As authhors from Orwell to Solzenitzen have noted, it dwells in the human heart. We all have a piece of it - which is why it's never extinguished. And as a general rule, (if the 20th century is prologue), it takes the form of our ally-in-the-previous-conflagration. Yes, I realise that sounds like Orwell's 1984, and perpetual war - but take a gander at the history books. Japan was of great aid in the Pacific in WWI - they took (and held) many formerly German-held islands and bases. "Uncle Joe" Stalin was suddenly our indispensable friend after the Ribbentropp pact was broken by Hitler. And the glorious mujahadeen, whose exploits were celebrated in several Hollywood movies - broke the back of the expansionist evil empire (with our money and weapons). That's the point at which the script ends and the present begins. Unwritten yet.
Chesterton penned the unimprovable axiom, "There is one thought that stops ALL thought. That is the ONLY thought that ought to be stopped."
Evil in our generation has chosen its form. It alerted us that it was annoyed we were ignoring it on September 11. (It had tried before, but we just hit the snooze button). The smoldering clod was growing, and yearned for more blood after Afghanistan, while we partied away the 90's, celebrating the end of history. Is it our fault? Its always our fault. And who cares? Its our fault because we're engaged, and because nobody else can do more than pretend to care. UN peace-keepers? I'll have US marines, please.
And its our fault, because "their" children want to be American. That's why its our fault. I would have apologised for Madonna, Michael Jackson, Michael Jordan, Netscape, the New York Yankees, Jenna Jameson, Seinfeld, Pamela Anderson (British Columbian extraction), and Ipods - but now I'm not gonna. (Na-naaa!) What is there to apologise for? A youth culture that is happily and greedily imported around the world? You have to do a little research, but European proto-fascism actually has its roots in anti-Americanism. In the late nineteenth century, the one-way street that was transatlantic cultural exchange became a bit more of a "dual carriageway", with Europeans importing American technology, "crass" American music, "2nd rate" literature and New York haute couture. Some "avatars" of European tradition resented this change, and reacted. It got worse as time wore on. American culture, which everyone around the world characteristically presumes is imposed upon them, un-moors "their" youth. We'd feel the same way, (I guess), if we presumed our culture superior, insisted our youth received the same breeding we did, blocked outside influences, and generally not borrowed all that intrigues from the outside. That is key to understanding why we're hated. Why we've always been hated, and preumably why we always will. As the preminent nation that embraces modernity, we represent modernity to all these other Luddites I call "the rest of the world". All who hate "modernity" (define it how you will - its "what's changing now"), project that hatred onto us. How else could European Bon-vivants despise us for being too religious, while the mullahs hate us for being too decadent and a-religious? We are all things to all people. What do you hate? Pockey-mon? Auto-racing? Liberal jewish authors? Conservative neo-con Jewish authors? materialism? Nihilism? religiosity? multiculturalism? tolerance? in-tolerance? Because whatever it is, it has found it's pre-eminent manifestation in freedom-addicted America . . . Hate them.
I'm originally from small-town North Carolina. We've got nothing to do with whats known around the world as "American culture", which is basically an amalgam of New York/LA trends in showbiz, combined with Big Food (big Fast Food), except that we import it whole-heartedly. And yes - if we were a separate country - I could imagine us banning Madonna videos, Carl's Jr. burger joints and the like - in futility - as our young ones gobbled it up with all the more rebellious zeal. Kids in small town NC dress like LA gangsters, (and used to dress up like Sunset Strip Glamrockers). Whats that got to do with North Carolina?
We are an un-grounded, moor-less, wind-blown, amnesiac, young country. History has its advantages - as our European cousins never fail to remind us, but History can also be an encumbrance. --- Just ask the Irish, or the Indians, or Alabamans - for that matter. (excuse me - North Carolinians - for that matter).
That went a little long. I was working my way around to "the land that time forgot" - the middle east. Youth culture here is no different, save the Egyptian and Lebanese music videos (that ape their American parents). Yes, including Arabic-language "gangsta" rap. "50-cent" meet "Ali-Fresh". "Ali-Fresh", "50 cent". But selectively, and scrupulously - still Middle eastern. Music that apes the American is never "American" but a hybrid of host and hosted. Just ask the Beatles, or the Pizzicato Five. So what's all the fuss about? After all - we're not charging them royalties. (Note to self - write congressman and demand royalties).
The fuss is about the hand that rocks the cradle. And in this host - the Mad-East - it is about Sayyid Qutub. Qutub was not the first Moslem fundamentalist, but he was undoubtedly the 20th century's most influential. HOMEWORK ASSIGNMENT: Go out and learn all you can about Sayyid Qutub. I don't have the space or the knowledge (yet) to hold forth on Qutub, but if you're looking for the origins of the Islamist idea loosed in our world now, all roads lead through him. Including one neat and narrow one back from UBL through Ayman Zawahiri - who as a schoolboy - joined the Muslim Brotherhood after hearing Qutub.
Which brings me back to bad ideas, and Chesterton. (Getting closer now). Qutub never killed anyone, (at least as far as I'm aware). He might have, but he spent his idealogue-years in Egyptian prisons. But hang on. Neither did Marx, nor Engels, nor Heideggar, nor Nietzche's sister. (who if memory serves, set off to Paraguay to found an Aryan super-colony - that collapsed - predictably - due to inbreeding and not trading, learning from the mongrel-race natives). I don't know why the founders don't do the killing (with the exception of mohammet) - I just know that the conceivers of the omelette, are rarely the same guy as the egg-cracker that invariably follows. Perhaps the progenitor is too stuck in his abstract mind-world, and the zealot that picks up his lance, has less scruples (and less marbles).
The point being - with Islamism, we are somewhere between 1933 and 1939. Or the winter of 1916, if you prefer the marxist template. We've had an Islamic theocracy for almost thirty years now, but only now is it going nuclear. Only now is it matching its bellicosity with the actions of proxies. Only now has it chosen Ahmedinejad. Thats where our template/comparison ends. Because, as I've said before, it doesn't end here - and Iran is no more its full measure and manifestation that Franc-ist Spain and Guernica was the full measure of the fascist threat. We have chosen to act (and it really didn't matter where - but Saddam was begging us) BECAUSE of this history, and because of the dearth of alternatives. If there was an Islamic "British Isles" we could bolster, defend and help - we'd have done that - as we did in Britain (albeit late - in 1942). They're too proud (Arab-pride - not to be easily overlooked), to learn from the "sons of monkeys and pigs" in Israel. So we had to create an Arab muslim Britain out of the (select-at-random) husk-state thugocracy. There are too many to choose from, but Saddam nominated Iraq early in the polling, way back in 1991, should this need ever come to pass. Moreover, because of the Baathists, not in spite of them, Iraq was thought to be relatively secular, and notionally pro-western. Hell, its what the Iraqis themselves thought. Just ask anyone of the educated, secular, notionally pro-western Iraqis.
What I'm seeing here in Baghdad today is the same elite/unspohisticate, urban/rural disconnect that bedevils us in the West. Baghdad today is full (well, not full - about 3/5 of them have already beat feet back to London, Toronto or Amman) of wonderful intellectuals and academics. They're liberal (in every sense of the word), pro-freedom of you-name-it, and sophisticated, worldly english speakers. They're forever holding conferences with other academics where they discuss the problems of Iraq, the potential solutions, and then they agree to hold more conferences with each other. The problem is they haven't been teaching or reaching your average Iraqi in, well - all of recorded history. And frankly I don't see how they can, unless they were given total control of the K-12 curricula, which won't happen in the forseeable future. I salute them for still having the guts to stay here. Academics ARE being targeted here. In ruthless fashion. (Our enemy knows who his enemy is, why do we still persist in denying ours?)
Before closing, (finally), I don't want to leave the impression I'm playing down what I've previously played up. I have a horrible opinion (thats best kept to myself - when me-possible) of Islam, its origins, and its apocalypse-hoped-for future. I don't believe it can reform itself. I believe that would already have happened, if it could. But there are other possibilities, and needless to say - I could be wrong. What our generation confronts is a conflict that could never be resolved in the span of time it took to destroy Naziism. I'm hopeful a cold-war length span is possible. (I'd like to see it off personally). What many brave journalists and brilliant writers are beginning to point out to us - is that for the contours and boundaries of this conflict - there is no template. NOTHING to glean from history. Soviet spies were generally readily identifiable by their chosen professions and activist history, (westerners who were recruited by the KGB - Alger Hiss, Kim Philby, Rosenburgs, the lot). Moreover, KGB plants always ran the risk of going native once they arrived in Sunny Florida and realised that in America they didn't have to wait two years for a new car - they could drive it off the lot. It was a terrible problem for the KGB. This is much different. What is a sleeper cell? Does it matter if they attended an AlQaeda camp or not? Does it matter if they attended a camp? Or visited relatives in Peshawar, or Yemen? Mohammed Atta not only attained a graduate degree from a Western liberla university - his degree was in city planning, and skyscraper-building. (hold the irony, please). And if he sleeps with an infidel stripper, or drives a brand new SUV off the lot - is he placated, or brought closer to madness by his insatiable envy, and esteem-righting doctrine of supremacy over that which he can't control, or clad in a burqa?
Islamic laborers have been imported to prop-up aging, post-christian, socialist, post-nationalist, nullity-nations. What is there to assimilate to - if they chose to? We're diddling about climate change, and the volume of this excahnge goes up (not coincidentally) as the Muslim threat broadens and deepens before our very eyes. Muslim immigrants are having more babies, by at least a factor of two - than the natives. And as recent history has shown - who needs jihad - when the democratic means to sharia are already in place; barriers removed, and populations inoculated to judgement and discernment by the siren-song of "multi-culturalism". (Which in my mind is short-hand for Western self-loathing.) The academics in Baghdad will continue to preach to their dwindling number of already-converted, until they find something as appealing to Arab pride, Muslim piety - as Qutub. Who, incidentally, was given the chance to renounce his views publicly, but chose death instead. And we will continue spinning on our heads until we can get the message through that freedom isn't Jenna Jameson and Kentucky whiskey - but Selma, Gettysburg, and Berlin - circa 1989. There's nothing quite like the transcendent martyr - for whatever creedo - including the American one. And the strange thing isn't the dearth of martyrs to free speech in the muslim world (ask any non-Koranic dissident - excuse me - "Scholar") - but that they aren't the martyrs who're celebrated.
Post-note: If I'm right about Islam - not even an academic breakthrough will be enough.
Wednesday, January 24, 2007
The ruthlessly-mocked-by-MSM, "guys in pajamas sitting in front of their computers in Minnesota," the antidote to the MSM and their dependable bias. These are the Blog-world media. The collective mind of the population of America that's paying attention. We are now in the information age - and this is the penultimate manifestation: Guys in their pajamas that have exposed MSM lies and distortions.
- Broke the Monica Lewinsky story, (if you include Drudge as a fore-father Pajamahadeen), after Newsweek had spiked the story for "lack of material" - a dress with Presidential semen on it.
- Broke the "Rather-gate" story, after CBS ran with the story, on "material" purporting to date from the early seventies that was forged with a Microsoft font .
- Exposed plagiarism at the New York Times.
- Broke open the "Trent Lott Affair".
- Exposes Media bias and "news manufacturing" on a daily basis;
- as when NBC's "DATELINE" bussed about a hundred muslims to a Nascar event intent on getting them killed. They were treated with incomparable decency and civility - exposing the TRUTH about America, (moral and decent to its marrow), and the LIE that the MSM embraces: (a nation of bloated, rascist, war-mongering, Capitalist pigs).
The Religion of Peace.
Islam: Making a Difference Every Day.
This is the single, best compendium anywhere in the Information Age of the words and pictures, and reports of how the Religion of Peace makes a difference in our world. All across our world. Updated Daily/weekly. This site is without peer. Go there. It is Incomparable. No ideology for you to ingest, or swallow whole. Just words and pictures , (with a sprinkling of sarcasm), culled from Newspapers around the world into one source, for your to absorb. Visit this site at least once a week. That is a commandment.
A few items from this week, at random:
- Prominent Armenian Turk Journalist who has been writing about the 20th century's first Genocide (1.2 million Armenians killed by Turkey in Turkey in the inter-war years) gunned down in Turkey to cries of "Allahu Akbar."
- Two Saudi Septogenarian business partners wed their teenage daughters to one another.
- Sheik Halili (Australia's "uncovered women are uncovered meat" imam) says on Egyptian TV that Muslims have more of a right to Australia, than Australians - as Aussies were brought there as criminals.
- New CNN/Amanpour documentary dependably misses the point - but nonetheless airs hidden camera footage from inside a "moderate" Mosque in Britain of an imam and his breathless sheeple delirious over their future plans to introduce sharia in the UK, by eclipsinig the native population demographically.
- Imam in Dublin banned from Mosque for speaking against terrorism.
- Pakistan Honor-killing tally already up to 578.
- Special, segregated swimming times demanded for Muslims at public pools in New Zealand.
- Three more Thai Buddhists found decapitated, shot with predictable notes attached in Southern Thailand.
- Libya to build a statue honoring Saddam.
- Australia reports five stolen rocket launchers were intended to be used in attack on nuclear reactor.
- Saudi terrorist-financier-money used in constructing Boston Mosque.
- Judge shouted down by Islamists in Britain.
- Spanish Muslims look to "timeshare" cathedral
- 710,000 animals to be sacrificed at Hajj this year.
- and my personal favorite - The Iranian Burqa fashion show. This is not satire.
They also keep a running tally of Muslim terrorist outrages since 9/11. Go there and find out who and how many died for the crime of being an infidel on your birthday in 2004! 2005! Pick any year you want!
NEW SECTION: "Reciprocal Links" Please send me a note if you've linked to my blog. I'd like to return the favor - but lost track some time ago of the many kind folks that added me to their blogroll. The blame is all mine. Please help me catch up.
It is on Like Donkey kong.
Things are KINETIC in Baghdad today.
Like nothing I've heard or seen in my nine months here, heretofore. Its a War again. Mortars, Counter-battery fire, Bradleys, 50-cals., Large plumes of beautiful black smoke. Ratatat tat of machine guns large and small, and unending stream of LARGE percussions, (I think I even heard a tank or two making its presence felt), There are no fewer than 2 pairs of Apaches doing what looks to be attack runs on the other side of the River. Its enough to bring a tear to this young, fascist warmonger's eye. God Bless the President, and God Bless the Troops. Methinks Sadr's balls are getting broken open and filleted. . . . Finally . . .
There really is nothing quite so dispiriting as a supremely lethal, deliberately surgical US Army, locked and cocked, with the combined firepower to erase a targeted people from history - boxed up and bent - like a coiled spring, and told to stand down while gangsters and death squads run amok around them. Today, I think I can confidently opine - that spring has sprung.
A word for Dirk and others - There are no Iranian "diplomats" in Iraq. There are, however, many Iranian intelligence agents here training lethal hit and run and ambush squads - and more ominously - starting, funding and training EFP-cells. I've seen this all on Yahoo now, so I feel I can safely discuss it on my blog.
An exceptionally well-trained team wearing US uniforms and driving PSD-typical SUVs attacked, abducted and killed 5 US soldiers over the weekend, in a brilliantly executed hit-and-run attack on a carefully-cased security planning meeting in Karbala over the weekend. They spoke flawless English to all they encountered. I'll wager next months paycheck that Iran was not un-involved, to put it at the most minimalist. Go here: http://www.pajamasmedia.com/2007/01/post_186.php
EFPs keep us all awake at night. Using the expertise Hezbollah has gained from decades of assymetric warfare against the IDF, Iranian agents are coordinating a Shiite Iraq-wide EFP operation. You need to know what EFPs are. (google this: Explosively Formed Projectiles). The ultimate assymetric IED. EFPs can penetrate anything, including M1A Abrams tanks. When one goes off, more often than not - it kills or maims (but mostly kills) everything in the contact vehicle. The survivability rate for your garden-variety IED (an idiot makes a bomb out a propane tank or mortar round) is better than 50%. Your survivability in an EFP attack - less than 10%. A team in my battalion was hit early in our deployment. One of the now-deceased was observed crawling around on his hands for a few minutes before he expired. He was cut in half, inside one of your new "where's the armor for our troops, Mr. Rumsfeld!?" up-armored humvees. (armor ain't the problem, people. Not in this case.) In another EFP case, the soldiers went looking for one or more missing soldiers down alleyways and streets - as there was so little left of them inside the vehicle, after the strike - the thinking was - they'd fled the scene.)
Here's one definitive link: http://www.afrlhorizons.com/Briefs/Dec04/MN0407.html
A single "array" of an EFP looks like a copper cookie jar, with a copper lid. Its full of explosives, and that copper lid forms a "super-bullet" in a few nano-seconds, travelling at an incomprehensible speed, and at an unbelieveably hot temperature. Its comparable to a naval five-inch gun going off at point-blank range. There is no armor than can defeat it. These "cookie jars" are usually found stacked in two rows of between 2 and 10 "arrays", and encased in concrete, or a concrete-like substance. They look like rubble, indistinguishable from anything in this rubble-strewn shithole. They are cleverly disguised and peerlessly lethal, but that's not what makes them fiendish. What makes them fiendish is the Passsive Infrared Sensor or "PIR" that triggers them. Its the exact same component, from the exact same manufacturers that turn your motion-sensor lights on above your garage. They are hard, if not impossible to defeat or detect. The UK-based "Mirror" newspaper has been reporting for a few weeks now that President Bush signed a clandestine order to target these teams and their Iranian sponsors. God bless him, but if that's true I wanna know why he didn't do it earlier! Iranian "diplomats" deserve death by Pig, a la that last movie installment of "Silence of the Lambs" - (I forget the name) - the one with Julianne Moore as Agent Starling.
I will toast the death and capture (but preferrably - the unbearably excruciating DEATH) of every Iranian found in Iraq - and you should too. It made the news about a week ago with the announcement of two separate captures of Iranian "diplomats" including some who were released, (an abomination). My angst and anxiety is "what have you done for me lately?" Every day that goes by without the death/dismemberment/ excoriation by burning gasses/death by flesh-eating pig - of an Iranian "diplomat" is a very sad day for me. We need to kill Iranians much, much faster. And our SF boys are up to the task. My fear is that their hands are being tied. And where are the flesh-eating pigs in next year's defense budget? We are fighting this war by University Dress-code committee. Flesh-eating pigs. I want them now!
Perhaps, as of this marvellous day - with the plan in place and the State of the Union delivered, there will be a lot less hand-tying. The death of Iranians, that is what restores optimism for me.
(Flesh-eating pigs would restore my sense of fun and excitement, not to mention righteous indignation - at a Mohammedan Horde intent on immolating themselves and the whole world with them. Imagine the treatises the Imams would have to pen guaranteeing entrance to their bordello-valhalla in order to get young "mujahadeen" to take on an American army armed with flesh-eating pigs.)
Sunday, January 21, 2007
So I am perplexed, and I am blocked. (from all but my workplace computer where I shouldn't be blogging from anyway).
Hopefully this will be resolved soon. If not - I'll have to start staying late at work and downloading my photos and words there.
I've got lots of new picks. "Groove Alliance's" Baghdad Tour was a SMASHING success, I've got lots of "silver linings" to point out in all the recent humdrum. (Gee, you think our media's against this war? Prominent Democrats were calling for more troops six months ago.)
And its planting season again! Well, not quite yet. But the days do appear to be warming. We're getting monsoons of rain and storms, which means mud. (It does rain in the desert). How else would you get mud? Mud is essential to the Middle-east, both as repulsing image and metaphor. "Rain" calls to mind cleansing and rebirth - so it is clearly not essential here.
Monday, January 15, 2007
A few other things need addressing also, and I think I can cover them all in one post.
One, "Whither the freedom fighter?" This sort of deeply confused nihilism was first brought into the public square most noticeably by no less a balanced thinker and bien-pensant than Michael Moore. The question he begged, as dipomatically as I can put it is, "What is a freedom fighter?"
If you're a 19th century Slav fighting Ottoman or Austro-Hungarian Imperialism - I could understand your confusion. If, on the other hand, sharia's your bag and you like having four wives and preventing them from learning to read - I can understand borrowing the language of the free peoples of the West in order to co-opt the weakest minds among them. If, however, one is a 21st century bon-vivant of Europe - your confusion is inexcusable. Why one would expound on that confusion on a US soldier's blog likewise escapes me - if only for taste's sake.
Fortunately, the answers are at your fingertips. Several websites exist to explicate the differences between conventional armed forces of free nations and jihadist scum and one of them is Ogrish.com. The intent of websites such as this is expressly apolitical, but just as Ozzie Ozbourne is a walking anti-drug advertisement in spite of himself - Ogrish.com is one of many sites to which the truly ogrish exploits of these beastial men can proudly post their barbarity. Go there and stomach what you can.
Some men build hospitals and clinics and staff them with doctors and medical supplies. Other men come along and blow them up and assassinate the doctors and nurses. And it doesn't make anyone sound more worldly or sophisticated to anguish over the yawing chasm between the two as though it were nuance and "shades of gray." In light of the times we're living through, not only is it maddeningly silly - it is dangerous. In most parts of Europe nowadays - Islam is not remote and beyond the sense of sight and smell - unless you're avoiding it all together. I supppose they don't call it "Stockholm syndrome" for nothing. Malmo, I'm told, is 40% muslim already, and "honor-killings" in Sweden are now not unheard of. We're in Iraq fighting for the freedom of Muslims to erect a modern society, and its proceeding apace despite their best efforts. I fear the worst joke in history is on us. What we are likely to leave behind in any outcome is an elected government representing the public face of what we've been fighting and will continue to fight. A bit like a 1956 invasion of Hungary, and the citizens of Hungary elect the communists in our wake. This would not have been a futile gesture, whatever the outcome - as it will have expressed the genuine good will, and transcedant hope and brotherly love that befits our civilization. And in any case - it had to be tried before the next escalation (which will be occassioned by the next muslim-terrorist calamity that we all know is coming) - in the judgement and long-view of history.
One of the most intriguing and perpetually enthralling acts of displacement for me, is the semi-annual displeasure and protest lodged against Tony Blair and George Bush from the salons of Europe over their public pronouncements of faith, whilst from the sermons of some of Europe's grandest mosques - the imams bay for blood. "Europe's grandest mosques" - I can't believe I just said that. And I can't believe its real. What I won't do is pretend reality conforms to my desire to live a life of peaceful coexistence with everyone. That's called "denial", and it ain't just a river in Africa.
Which brings me to point number 2: YOU. Many thanks for all the kind words, well-wishes, and words of support. I accept greatfully on behalf of all who labor in uniform. But this epiphany occured to me just the other day. This war isn't about us. Its about YOU - the polity of free peoples of the free west - and how long you can stomach our maiming and deaths. I said before the soldiery is unflinching, and it is. But this war isn't about how many schools we can build and Iran-funded arms factories we raid and destroy. It is MUCH larger. Iraq is but a theater. There are several FRONTS that span the globe. This is about you discovering Western purpose again. I'm talking about the ultimate cure for your boredom.
The West is not an accident, and the way we live in America is not the natural product of things nor the natural evolution of the state. If we don't collectively decide that is worth defending - then we are all jihadist-fodder. Win or lose - this doesn't end in Iraq. And these are not Iraqi Vietcong - in a particular time and circumstance. These are desert warriors from the 7th century, liscensed to perpetuate any barbarity in the name of advancing their geopolitical project of 7th century Arab supremacy. (some call it Islam). They have surged and stalled for 14 centuries, and they are again surging - globe-wide - for the first time. Because they smell blood, and weakness. And there is weakness to go around. Because we decided history was over, history decided to stop by for tea.
The Jihadis haven't the knowledge, nor the desire for the knowledge, of the tehnological superiority that undergirds our civilization - except in furtherance of the goal of wiping us away - and with us - all the history that's transpired between the 7th and 21st centuries. They want jets and nukes, but not the society that produces them. Cavalry charges and scimitars would do, but one company of the 1st Armored Division would have the lot of them. So to hell with the superior western armies - they'll take the cities that support them - and that IS our achilles heel. (or so they think).
A conventional war between any muslim polity or amalgamated society and that of a western one is a foregone conclusion (see Israel). So this is war by other means. And in "other means" we've said alot. There are means we won't use. For Islam, the advance of Islam transcends all morality. (do some reading.)
And the biggest, yet curiously least talked about, FRONT is a demographic one. In Mark Steyn's peerless new book, "America Alone", he writes that history begins with a joke: "Knock-Knock." ("Who's there?") And apart from all debate, apart from the musings of anyone about the future, a fundamental demographic questions precludes all political ones. (Who's there?)Several European countries large and small are on trend to be majority muslim by mid-century, which I fear will cast all our "fiddling" about tolerance and multi-culti pablum in its starkest relief, in retrospect. European women are having something on the order of 1.4 kids per lifetime, whilst muslim immigrants to Europe are having around 3.5. Its not a foregone conclusion that all those muslim kids will turn out to be Khalid Sheik Mohammeds or Mohammed Attas - but what's our bet-hedge? Anyone care to bet 3/5 of them won't be named Mohammed and abhor pork?
There's enough in this paragraph requiring several posts to explicate - but I bring up this one because it struck me just the other day. I know Jews that eat pork. I'm not suggesting bacon-eating be a requirement for citizenship (not yet, anyway), just that I've observed that of all the "assimilated" muslims - from local Iraqi national-hires that notionally support the coalition to the most observably assimilated British, Canadian and American muslims - none will touch pork. Situations have arisen where I or someone else runs out to the dining facility (for American troops and contractors) to illicitly abscond with food for one of our translators or support staff (either wittingly or unwittingly including a roast or somesuch, or a dish that includes material from a pig) and the meal is impolitely refused by a "starving" complainant.
These things make an impression on you. I don't like escargo and bean sprouts, but if it was the only thing on offer . . .
And forget the multi-culti pablum. Pork sustains and has sustained innumerable human populations throughout the ages, much as rice has. It nourishes and it tastes good. The arguments for pork are legion - the arguments against - a religious edict.
The middle-east is expressly non-vegetarian, and I won't entertain arguments of cleanliness either - not from a people who eat lamb meat from an open, dry-air stall in 140 degree heat, with flies in abundance and rivers of freshly-slaughtered lambs blood running beneath their feet mixing with raw human sewage.
No, this is not on the surface significant. Its what the question begs that enthralls. What else have they not internalized? What else do they expressly reject, and why? Islamic civilization can never, has never, and will never produce an America or a Netherlands. So the question that plagues me is: "What do they reject in Islamic civilization?" That's not a ridiculous extrapolation either. Just an easily observable and undeniable phenomenon. Much easier to observe and judge than say their commitment to "freedom of conscience" . "Lip service" is cheap and easy, but not when it comes to pork.
Three: The new plan. It will pay dividends in the near-term. It has already. The Mahdi army has gone back indoors, according to reports. But we haven't fixed the polity that produces and supports them. Or the Sunni terrorists. The unspoken truth is, we'd settle for any strongman who could restore public order now. That's what its going to take. How long does anyone suppose a prime minister will sit atop the ship of state, without the US guarding the helm? My sincere hope is that the President's most optimistic projections bear out. But I wouldn't put any of my money on it.
I am heartened that Gen Petraeus is taking the helm - this is another correct step. Gen Petraeus is an out-of-the-box thinker, and a deeply conscientious man possessed of an analytical mind, by all accounts. That bodes well for "progress" in the next tour - but what then? We're not restoring French citizens to their pre-vichy rights and responsibilities - we are committing heresy in the eyes of Islam. There will be no progress here until there is progress in Islam. And I don't know how that can be accomplished or even if its hypothetically possible. This Iraq War's larger goal is to goad Islam down that path, I believe. But I find it increasingly difficult to accept the premise that change can happen WITHIN Islam.
More later . . .
Thursday, January 04, 2007
Nothing I said in "Halfway" was untrue, just that my aquaintance with the SCOPE of the problems in Iraq comes and goes. There are heroes, there are brave and good and decent people, there are morally upright muslims - but they are unto toilet paper floating on the surface in the flushing commode that is Iraq. We pour in more blood, sweat, and treasure - as it swirls down the toilet.
We did not cause this. We removed Saddam Hussein and his odious gangsters. What you see now is the Middle East returning to its natural state - without a benign/malignant Ataturk/Hussein. The concept of freedom is shallow here - owing to their moral dicta providing none. Islam requires absolute submission, everything else is liscense. Freedom of Speech is no more precious or worthy than freedom to drink licquor.
When we sit around in bull sessions and try and figure out what might work - our brilliant, out of the box scenarios quickly yield to observable phenomena on the ground, and the unwelcome knowledge that in one form or another - its already been tried, the rest is style. More specifically and importantly - all our benign/benevolent initiatives have been tried. What does that leave us - is the rhetorical I'll leave you to ponder. (I have my answer)
For proof of what I see on a daily basis that informs my cruel sense of irony - you have the Saddam execution video in which several of the hangmen and other sundry participants are heard to be chanting Moqtatda Al Sadr's name. Ini that video, you have everything you need to understand Iraq in 2007. Its significant for several reasons: I'll highlight two.
ONE - the most obvious - Why are these "professional" agents of the new, democratic government chanting the name of a renegade gangster wanted for the murder of the "moderate" Imam Al Khoei, leader of the largest and most deadly militia in Iraq, (with lakes and ponds of American and Iraqi blood on his hands), government obstructionist, (backdoor insider) and radical, Iranian-backed Shiite fundamentalist?
TWO: Failing that, after we all presume whats in their hearts - why would they shatter that and remove all doubt - in the FULL VIEW OF HISTORY???!!! Why in God's name could they not keep their mouths shut for pretense's sake as they led an old man to his certain death (and I DON'T CARE what he may or may not have said to badger them.)
THREE: (I lied) What level of competance do you think a Governement has that can't strip search the 14-odd participants for their cell-phones and cameras, repeatedly - if necessary, as that was their stated purpose (no cameras).
The answer to one: That is what has been elected. Expect more of it.
The answer to two: Easy emotionality of an unserious people. From guards lounging on duty (who are about to get blown up), to the "Insh'allah" attitude of virtually everybody - Iraqis by and large have the maturity and emotional stamina of a 12 yr. old 6th grader.
"Insha'allah" means whatever Allah wills.
meaning #1 Whatever happened was fore-ordained.
meaning #2 Whatever's about to happen cannot be stopped.
meaning #3 if I still feel like honoring our contract tomorrow afternoon when I wake up - I'll be there.
The answer to three: I call this the "Iraqi touch". Unlike King Midas - whatever they touch does not turn to Gold - it turns into unadulterated SHITE. Expect more, not less - even if we train their police and troops for 2 more decades.
There is absolutely no accountability in this culture, yet everyone has a liscense to complain - including, and especially, those that prolong/foster/aid and abet the problem.
Saddam's unliscensed snuff video was not the only catalyst for this bleat. Just the recurring nightmare one regularly re-awakens into called Real World Iraq. Things are not going to be okay just because we mean well and we're honorable actors, and we're spending more US treasure than we'll ever be able to pump out of the ground at OPEC prices. There will be a new, democratically elected government in Iraq 2 years hence, there is one now. That's the problem.
The larger probelm I've barely even touched on, but its hanging out there. We must decide what the Muslim problem is, decide to see it off, and discover the resolution to see it through. In Islam, the West has found the immovable object to our previously-thought irresistable force. Our blindness is neatly encapsulated in Francis Fukuyama's treatise on the "End of History". I've polled many of my closest friends and confidante's and they do not see it. It tends to seague neatly with a person's religiosity - but not always. If a person tends toward the atheist/agnostic they tend to see the inevitable progress of history and ideas, blinded by the intellectual/secular/humanist conceit that all must yield before reason and rationality given time. If they tend toward Faith, (Christian or Muslim - I don't have any animists, Hindus or Hasidim at hand to poll), they tend to see 10th century stagnation as something entirely more ominous - by several orders of magnitude - as I do.
You, the reader, do NOT have my permission to read anything in this post or blog as defeatist, or with passing indifference to the Beloved, Hallowed Fallen. Nor may you rightly ascribe to me any angst about the justness or rightness of our cause. The cause is not lost, the battle is. The battle for hearts and minds was won 13 centuries ago by my reckoning - it was over before it started in Baghdad in 2003. Naivete' is always retrospective, and there's a helluva'n accounting coming to us. FOR MISTAKES NOT YET EVEN MADE - let alone the good-will wasted these last three years. There are no good guys in Iraq. In any case, NOT ENOUGH.
Monday, January 01, 2007
And I'd like to thank all the folks back home that support the troops. Your words of support, and letters, and care packages mean a great deal.
I'd also like to say a special word of thanks for all the families sacrificing back home with loved ones over here. I know its not easy. It is easily the biggest topic of conversation and concern over here amongst soldiers - The wives, kids and husbands making do on their own - and fighting and struggling and winning many battles.
Killing Saddam won't make a bit of difference to the over-all level of violence here, but I have at least one Iraqi friend that I met with today who says that it will. He says the Shia finally have the monkey off their back and will begin to relax. I disagree, because I think the problem's much larger than that. Much larger than even our policy-makers are ready to confront. And it has nothing to do with reconstruction, or tactical errors, or diplomatic stances, or feel-good gestures of good will and empathy. My New Year's Wish is that everyone acquaints themselves better with Islam.
All in due time.
In the meantime, I wish all of you a Happy New Year. May the New Year bring you new babies (Dirk), new cameras, new goodies, new joys, new highs, new strengths, new knowledge, and new resolution.
We just tripped midnight here! Hooah! Now you are in the past, and I am in the future! Hey, 2007! How ya doin'? 2007 looks interesting . . . - and you look so . . . anachronistic.
(These are times of great portent we are living through). 2007 looks to be no different. Farewell Milton Friedman, Orianna Fallaci, Gerald Ford. Good Riddance Saddam, Zarqawi, Castro.
Oops. (not yet? - maybe next post.)