Saturday, January 31, 2009

Hmm. There Seems to be a Glitch Somewhere...

Yesterday's 4.5 magnitude earthquake did more than just shake terra firma.

Apparently it exposed a glitch in the University of Washington's (UW's) Seismology Lab's warning system. Their automated paging system, which is triggered by seismic warnings, failed to wake up the geologists at 0525 hours when the earthquake occurred.

Fortunately, those of us at Washington Emergency Management (WA EMD) are linked to seismic warning devices. So our night shift folks transmitted the necessary warnings to all concerned.

However, this didn't let the UW folks off the hook. Seattle Times reporters wanted answers and they eventually got them:

My coworker, Dan & I spent a large part of our day talking to our Public Information Officers (PIOs). We discussed how the event unfolded and the actions taken by our night shift folks. Fortunately they did everything by the book. So much so, in fact that several people in our organization were miffed they didn't get a page. Normally during off-duty hours we page only our managers. As a result of this there was the usual clamor to be "added to the list."

This often happens after a significant event. Everyone wants to be "in the know."

When someone asks me to be added to the contact list I tell them: Be careful what you wish for...

Friday, January 30, 2009

The British are Re-Thinking their Ops

Our British comrades-in-arms are finally waking up and smelling the tea.

For years they've been tut-tutting us Yanks about our ham-fisted operations in Iraq and Afghanistan. Instead the British Tommies conducted low-key operations similar to what they did in Northern Ireland.

But because the middle east is not anywhere near the Emrald Isle, things spun out of control and violence escalated, especially in Basra.

It appears the British are realizing the nature of the middle east. They should know because they've fought here before.

Pictured above is: The Last Stand at Gandamak, posted on sent to me via Comrade Karla.

Today's News is from the London Times:

January 30, 2009

British Were Complacent In Afghanistan, Says Sir Jock Stirrup

By Michael EvansDefence Editor

Britain’s top military commander has admitted for the first time that America was right to criticise the way in which British troops carried out counter-insurgency operations against the Taleban in southern Afghanistan when they first deployed to Helmand province in 2006.

Air Chief Marshal Sir Jock Stirrup, the Chief of the Defence Staff and a former head of the RAF, blamed commanders for being “smug and complacent” about the challenges they faced in Helmand.

His words echoed accusations made by Robert Gates, the US Defence Secretary, and several senior American military officers who claimed that their British counterparts spent too much time boasting about their experiences in Northern Ireland.

John Reid, who was Defence Secretary when the 3,500-strong 16 Air Assault Brigade, commanded by Brigadier Ed Butler, was deployed to Helmand in 2006, said at the time: "We would be perfectly happy to leave in three years time without firing one shot because our mission is the reconstruction.

"For six months, the paratroopers faced daily attacks by the Taleban and suffered substantial casualties. The Ministry of Defence was forced to double the number of troops and today there are more than 8,000 servicemen and women in southern Afghanistan, still facing attacks and still suffering a high rate of casualties.

In an interview with The Economist Sir Jock acknowledged that there had been criticisms from some Americans over the performance of the British. He warned that such differences must not be allowed to “fracture and disintegrate” the cohesion of the alliance fighting the Taleban.“I think that we were a bit too complacent about our experiences in Northern Ireland and, certainly, on occasion, we were a bit too smug about those experiences,” he said.

“You are only as good as your next success, not your last one. You can never rest on your laurels and I think we may have done that.

“If you go around and ask enough Americans you will find some who are critical to a degree. . . of the way that the British do things and the approach that the British take.”

He added, however: “We have to understand that our military structures are different, our social structures within our countries are different, and therefore there are inevitable differences in the way we approach some of our tasks.”

He revealed that as a result of the campaigns in Iraq and Afghanistan, a “fundamental reappraisal” of Britain’s counter-insurgency training and structures would be completed shortly.One of the earliest critics of the British approach in Basra was General Jack Keane, a retired American military chief with close links to the administration of President Bush and one of the architects of the US surge of 30,000 troops to Iraq. He made public his concerns about the high level of violence in Basra and predicted an increase in extremist activity if the British went ahead with withdrawing from the city. General Keane subsequently revised his view of British achievements in Iraq.

President Obama is expected to ask Britain to contribute more troops for Afghanistan but Sir Jock said: “Even without the contribution in Iraq, what we are doing in Afghanistan is already quite close to the maximum sustainable effort over the long term.”

Comments from Comrade Karla:

Jock Stirrup--I LOVE that name. Funny, the British have an unfortunate habit of being "smug and complacent" where Afghanistan is concerned. In fairness, I would say that given how the N.I. experience permeated all ranks of the British Army, from Special Forces on down to the regular infantry and paras, it's easy to see how they wanted to use that template--after all we wanted to use the Gulf War I template and ignore the CI side of things--but I think we adapted a lot faster and better than they (apparently) did.

I Didn't Feel a Thing...

...But other folks sure did.

At 0525 hours (5:25 AM PST) a 4.5 magnitude earthquake shook up the residents of Kingston, 16 miles northwest of Seattle.

Fortunately there's been no reports of any damage--just rattled nerves.The story is being broadcasted over the local news networks. But there's hardly any detail on their websites.

KOMO 4 News:

The Seattle Times is a tad out of date. The USGS (US Geological Survey) confirmed the magnitude was actually 4.5:

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Is This Job Worth It?

For the short time he's been in office, President Obama has earned the reputation of trying to seek out some of the best & brightest to fill his cabinet positions, despite party affiliations.
You'd figure during the campaign someone would have had enough sense to give Obama this warning: Be careful what you wish for.
This picture is courtesy of Mad Magazine, sent to me by Comrade Karla.
What we don't see is the bottle of Jack Daniels hidden in one of the desk drawers.

US Airways Airbus Retrofit...

My brother-in-law sent me this with the following comment:

"I'm glad we can laugh about this."Me too.

Working here in WA Emergency management, it was amazing to see an incident unfold like this and everyone is SMILING! (Or maybe it was because their teeth were chattering due to hypothermia).

Seriously, Captain Sullenberger and the crew of US Airways Flight 1549 deserve every ounce of praise awarded them for their actions.

This incident has now passed into Wiki-lore:

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Disarmament by Default

President Obama and Secretary of Defense Gates are at a "Nuclear Standoff." Gates is pushing for the Reliable Replacement Warhead (RRW) Program, while our new president wants to shelve or even scrap the idea.
The problem is, the plutonium used in our nuclear warheads has a limited shelf-life due to radioactive half-life. In other words, the aging warheads--built in the '70's and '80's--run the risk of becoming inert.
President Obama and most of his political base feel we have too many nukes. That if we don't do anything to ruffle the feathers of the other nuclear nations, they'll follow our lead and start beating their warheads into radioactive plowshares.
The reality is: Russia and China continue to update their warheads. Meanwhile rogue nations like Iran and North Korea continue their nuclear programs. Not to mention terrorst organizations and their quest to harness the power of the atom.
Time Magazine on line's article discusses the Gates vs Obama impasse:
Our new president has an unrealistic expectation of a nuclear armed world, while Time Magazine's tone on this subject is: Why bother updating the warheads?We're moving towards a unilateral disarmament by default.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Remember Rwanda?

The Hutus are still causing problems for both Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo. While there's nowhere near the level of carnage as seen in the late 90s, Rwandan & Congolese troops are now jointly pursuing Hutu rebels.Most of the international community and media are ofthen too busy tallying-up Israel's supposed war crimes. The brushfires raging in other parts of the world get under-reported and far less hype.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Where in the World is Prisoner #372?

Said Ali al-Shihri, known as Prisoner #372 in Gitmo just got a promotion. Transferred back to Saudi Arabia in Nov 2007, he made his way to Yemen, where he's now the #2 Guy of "Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula.

"The cartoon, courtesy of Eric Allie, offers a good visual analogy of what we face as a nation.

If Gitmo gets shut down, where will the remaining inmates be placed?

Treating terrorism as a law enforcement issue has been and continues to be, the most serious flaw in our strategy in this war.

Full story from FOX News:,2933,481849,00.html

Post Inaugural Hangover

Well Friday was the close of the first work-week of our new president's administration. This is still what the media calls "the honeymoon period."

However, unlike presidents of the past, "Obamania," that rock-star, messianic adoration of President Obama is still running high.
Pictured here is President Obama action figure. (Unfortunately the link is broken so you won't be able to view all the other macho poses).
"Hope & Change?" Or more "Same-o Same-o?"

Not everyone's happy with his decisions so far. My like-minded friends and I are delighted that his hard-left supporters are upset over some of his cabinet choices.

However, our glee at the left's discomfort is far outwieghed by President Obama's actions this past week--starting on Inauguration Day.

First, he didn't attend the Salute to Heroes Inaugural Ball. This one's dedicated to Medal of Honor winners (the US military's highest decoration for valor):

On his first day in office he signed the the executive order calling for the closing of Guantanamo Bay, where captured combatants are being held. (See my post on 21 Jan 09).
Some in our main stream media (MSM) are waking up with a hangover and are now asking questions they should have asked prior to election day (Nov 08):

And it's not just the American MSM that's concerned. Some of our stalwart allies in the UK press are worried. They're still reeling from Prime Minister Tony Blair's policies. (To me, Tony Blair seemed a nice enough chap, but then again, I'm not a British subject).
Here's what Gerald Warner of The Telegraph (UK) had to say:
Personal thoughts and recollections:

I was off-duty on Inauguration Day and spent the day doing chores at home. Since this was an historic event, I turned on all the televisions in the house in order to see, or at least hear the day's events (on FOX News). I decided in my own way to take part in the celebration of our country's peaceful transition of power. (See my Inauguration Day post).

For the past 8 years I've been disgusted by the rabid disrespect liberals have shown to the following: President Bush and his staff, Governor Palin, our service members in harm's way (being called mercenaries by some journalists) and even private citizens like "Joe the Plumber" who merely asked Obama an unscripted question; not to mention the press, specifically the New York Times publicizing secret information leaked to them by disgruntled governement employees.

So on Inauguration Day I didn't want to exhibit symptoms similar to "Bush Derangement Syndrome" as coined by Charles Krauthammer and/or Michelle Malkin. (Which by the way has mutated into "Palin Derangement Syndrome"). I told my wife I have 3 years and 364 days (hopefully) to criticize President Obama. In that respect, he's off to a running start.

When in Rome...

...or Brussels, or Marseilles, or...

My like minded friends and I are concerned that Europe is in a "flat spin." (This is an aviation term where an aircraft gets into an often unrecoverable stall and plummets to earth).

There are 751 Zones Urbaines Sensibles, or Sensitive Urban Zones (ZUS) in France alone. We often call them the more politically incorrect "No Go Areas," otherwise not much is lost in translation.

These ZUSs are pockets of crime and violence, where non-Muslims are robbed and attacked on a regular basis. Police don't even venture inside a ZUS without reinforcements.
Can this be what the future holds for the US? It's too early to tell, but our own Open Border advocates do not give us much hope.

We're hoping the EU snuffs out the fuse somehow before the flame reaches the powder keg. It will be worth taking note on how the EU handles this growing crisis to see what works--and what doesn't.

The No Go Area Updates in France ('08) from Daniel Pipes' Site:

Importing the Middle East War, from the Middle East Times:
The No Go problem in Belgium from The Gates of Vienna Blog:

Friday, January 23, 2009

He's Baaaaack!

In matters of foreign policy doctrine that is. President Obama and his administration's attitude about foreign affairs is strangely reminiscent of our 39th president.
1980 was the first presidential election I participated in. I was so glad to help vote Carter out of office!
Arthur Herman's excellent article discusses the repercussions of such "touchy-feely" diplomacy:

A Return to Carterism?

Arthur Herman
Among the first duties of the Obama presidency, all agree, is the restoration of America's standing in the world. Poll after poll has shown how unpopular America is overseas, from London to Damascus to Beijing. Nor is there much disagreement as to the reason. As Fareed Zakaria puts it in The Post-American World, the reason is the "arrogance" displayed by the Bush administration-an arrogance that has blinded Americans to the fact that they can no longer push other nations around at will, and that their country now inhabits a multi-polar world.The bill of particulars is by now drearily familiar. In the Middle East, Bush's war in Iraq not only overstretched our military but radically alienated the UN and our European allies and undermined our position as an honest broker elsewhere, particularly on the issue of Palestinian statehood. Further damage to the American image was wrought by Bush's refusal to abide by the Kyoto protocols on global warming, by the scandals over Abu Ghraib and the detainees at Guantanamo Bay, by the recklessness of our handling of Iran and its pursuit of nuclear weapons, by our needless provocations of Russia over missile defense in Eastern Europe and our encouragement of Georgian adventurism. All in all, to listen to Bush's myriad critics, Russian President Dmitry Medvedev had it just about right in assailing "the arrogant course of [an] administration which hates criticism and prefers unilateral decisions."Hence the air of expectancy hovering around the Obama presidency, the sense of a new era dawning and a more hopeful direction taking shape.

Obama's own formulation of that hopeful new direction appeared last summer in an essay in Foreign Affairs. "The American moment is not over," wrote the then-candidate, "but [it] needs a new burst of visionary leadership." Promising a definitive end to the Bush doctrine, whose serial abuses had made the world lose "trust in our purposes and principles," Obama foresaw an era of "sustained, direct, and aggressive diplomacy" that would rebuild America's alliances and deal successfully with global threats ranging from terrorism to climate change.America's other important foreign-policy goal, Obama wrote, was reducing global poverty: the root cause, in his view, of terrorism and political extremism around the world. By "sharing more of our riches to help those most in need," by building up the social and economic "pillars of a just society" both at home and abroad, America could bring security and stability to the entire world-if, he added, the task were undertaken "not in the spirit of a patron but in the spirit of a partner-a partner mindful of his own imperfections."In short, instead of being the world's swaggering policeman, America would become the world's self-effacing social worker. The sentiment is hardly unique to Obama; it was a point of virtually unanimous agreement among those competing with him for the Democratic nomination. Specifically, it was the view of Hillary Clinton, his arch-rival and now his nominee as Secretary of State. In her own Foreign Affairs article (November-December 2007), she, too, blasted the Bush administration for its "unprecedented course of unilateralism," which had "squandered the respect, trust, and confidence of even our closest allies and friends." And she, too, promised a new start, focusing on international cooperation and multilateralism, exhausting every avenue of diplomacy before resorting to military action, "avoiding false choices driven by ideology," and devoting our resources to problems like global warming and third-world poverty. If pursued sincerely and consistently, such a course, she was confident, would keep us safe, restore America's image, and win the respect of the planet.

Or would it? For a little historical perspective, it might be useful to look at the last President who embraced exactly the same analysis of America's foreign-policy problems and enacted exactly the same strategy for resolving them."The result of the 1976 election," Michael Barone writes, "was Democratic government as far as the eye could see." After the debacle of Vietnam, Jimmy Carter entered office determined to clean up America's image abroad. Abetting him in his endeavor was the fact that Democrats controlled both houses of Congress by a substantial majority, while Republicans were broken and dispirited. Much as with Obama and his team today, the basic operating assumption of the Carter team was that U.S. assertiveness abroad, or what Senator William Fulbright called America's "arrogance of power," had become the primary source of international tension. It was time for a humbler, gentler posture: the post-World War II Pax Americana was over, discredited by Vietnam, and so were the cold-war assumptions on which it was based.From Carter's point of view, the United States could win the world's trust again by helping to shape a more equitable international order. The polarities dictated by the U.S.-Soviet conflict had grown stale; the cold war itself had become increasingly irrelevant to the future of the planet, to what the Thomas Friedmans of that day were beginning to call "the global village." Instead, the emerging division was between rich and poor, between the developed and the developing worlds.In words eerily foreshadowing those of Barack Obama decades later, Zbigniew Brzezinski, who would become Carter's national security adviser, wrote in Between Two Ages that the future tasks of foreign policy lay not with the "political" issues of war and peace but with the "human issues" of poverty and development. Washington's "preoccupation" with "national supremacy," Brzezinski declared, would have to yield to a global perspective-a perspective that, in another parallel with today's arguments, many then thought peculiarly well suited to America's lowered status in a world featuring such exciting phenomena as the rise of the "non-aligned movement" and the Third World. Above all, in Brzezinski's view, Americans had to understand that using military force to shape the course of events, as we were disastrously trying to do in Vietnam, was not the cure but rather the cause of international crises; an America that hoped to be on the right side of history would have to learn to be less assertive.As for the Soviet Union (concerning which Brzezinski happened to be a hawk), Carter himself intended to dispel what he would famously describe as our "inordinate fear of Communism." Toward that end, he would proffer a hand of trust to a Moscow understandably suspicious of American imperial designs. This would eventuate in his proposing and signing a far more comprehensive arms-control agreement than Richard Nixon's SALT I. It would also entail decreasing America's military footprint around the globe, as in South Korea, where Carter felt that the presence of American troops hindered a peaceful unification of the peninsula. He even contemplated giving direct aid to the victorious Communist government in Vietnam.

How did all this work out in practice? It would be a gross understatement to say that reality proved a more complex and obdurate substance than was dreamed of in Carter's philosophy. A few examples may suffice, starting with Latin and Central America-an area high on Carter's list for healing the supposed split between the developed and developing world.One priority for Carter was giving up control of the Panama Canal-a symbol of the bad old days of homegrown Yanqui interventionism. In April 1978, he scored his first (and only) foreign-policy success when the Senate ratified the Panama Canal treaty. The agreement, it was said, would inaugurate a bright new future for the tiny Central American country and, by extension, for Latin American relations in general. Unfortunately, with the Americans gone, Panama descended into a twilight world of corruption and violence and became a hub of the international drug trade. Successive dictators skimmed the proceeds of Canal traffic to entrench their power and oppress the Panamanian people. Eventually, under George Bush, Sr., American soldiers would have to be sent to topple Panama's last and worst dictator, Manuel Noriega, thus providing a bitterly ironic ending to the era of non-interventionism.But Panama was in some ways a side show, if a symptomatic one. Underlying Carter's entire approach to Latin America was his new stress on human rights as a touchstone of American foreign policy. "We can no longer separate the traditional issues of war and peace," he declared at Notre Dame University in 1978, "from the new global questions of peace, justice, and human rights." This was a bold statement, and on the face of it there was everything to recommend it-assuming, that is, that the yardstick of human rights was to be applied universally. But it turned out that Carter meant to apply it with extreme selectivity, and less as a yardstick than as a stick with which to beat our friends.The argument went like this. In thrall to our cold-war mentality, we had been in the habit of reflexively backing right-wing dictators whose only virtue was that they were anti-Communist and pro-U.S. In so doing, we had betrayed our own democratic principles, in full view of a shocked and disgusted world. The time had come to reverse gears. Henceforth, Carter proclaimed, governments that violated their own citizens' human rights would no longer receive American support but would instead incur our opposition. A foreign policy so constructed would, theoretically, encourage the growth of democracy in third-world countries and reduce the appeal of more radical or revolutionary ideologies.

In the event, the opposite happened. As Jeane Kirkpatrick pointed out at the time, instead of paving the way to democracy, the withdrawal of support from petty dictators in Latin America paved the way for a surrender of American interests-at the expense of our hopes for democratization.1 The only countries on which the U.S. could bring significant pressure to bear were those ruled by authoritarians who restricted certain freedoms while leaving others intact; by contrast, we enjoyed little or no leverage at all with totalitarian regimes that systematically destroyed all freedoms and treated us as their ideological enemy.Thus the fallacy turned out to be not the old cold-war mentality but the new Carter human-rights policy. When we ceased supporting our bad allies, they were replaced by far worse antagonists. It had happened before in Cuba, where Batista was overthrown by Castro, and it was happening again in Nicaragua, where in the spring of 1977 the Carter administration, displeased with the corrupt, small-minded, and frequently brutal Somoza regime, cut off all aid to the Nicaraguan military in its war against the Sandinista insurgency.In Carter's view, allowing Anastasio Somoza to fall would demonstrate what Stephen Rosenfeld of the Washington Post called America's "post-Vietnam intent," and that intent would be further confirmed by our accepting the legitimacy of "progressive" movements like the Sandinistas. In July, when the latter triumphantly seized power, American representatives met with their leadership; in December, Deputy Secretary of State Warren Christopher stated that the "driving consensus among Nicaraguans" was "to build a new Nicaragua through popular participation."Christopher was mistaken. Somoza's fall resulted in a bloody and drawn-out civil war that would cost the lives of some 50,000 Nicaraguans. The Sandinistas exploited the fact of an indigenous resistance movement, led by the contras, as reason to solidify their Castroite regime-precisely what Carter had assured Americans would not happen. In time, Nicaragua would become a key conduit for exporting Cuban influence and support to Communist insurgencies in El Salvador and Guatemala.Thus did the supposedly outdated "domino theory," an artifact of the cold war, emerge as a highly accurate predictor of what would happen in Latin America after the fall of Nicaragua. And not only in Latin America: by focusing obsessively on the presumptive split between developed and developing nations, Carter had turned the United States into a passive spectator while a global shift of power was taking place to the advantage of the Soviet Union and its proxies. Cam Rahn Bay in Vietnam became the Soviet Union's most important forward Pacific base. Pro-Soviet regimes consolidated their power in Africa, instituting Marxist economic policies that, in Ethiopia alone, brought about a massive famine and the death of hundreds of thousands. Over Christmas 1979, Soviet tanks and troops rolled into Afghanistan-just six months after Carter had embraced and kissed Soviet president Leonid Brezhnev and publicly praised his cooperativeness in the conduct of world affairs.

The one area where Carter seemed fitfully to grasp the nature of reality was in relation to Iran. Having inherited the Nixon-Ford commitment to the authoritarian Shah Mohammed Reza as a key American "proxy" in the Middle East, the administration found itself squeezed between its need for an ally in a strategically sensitive region and its selectively defined human-rights agenda. In 1977, tilting in one direction, Carter received the shah in the White House. The following January, the President paid a visit to Tehran and at a banquet toasted the shah's regime as "an island of stability in a turbulent corner of the world."Having made it appear that Washington approved of the regime's brutal practices, which included jailing and torturing thousands of Iranians, and having compounded the error by making the shah appear to be America's puppet, Carter then tilted all the way in the other direction by backing America out of Iran even as the shah's grip on power tottered and collapsed in the face both of genuine popular protest and of the Islamist campaign waged against him by the exiled Ayatollah Khomeini. By December 1978, Carter announced that the United States "would not get directly involved" in keeping the shah in power. "That," he said, "is a decision for the Iranian people to make." What few knew at the time was that Carter and his principal advisers, including Brzezinski, were urging the shah to crack down, something he refused to do unless he could announce to the world that the United States had ordered him to kill Iranian protesters.In the end, the shah chose to run rather than fight, abdicating his throne and fleeing the country on January 16, 1979.

The ironies were cruel. One was that a President publicly committed to supporting human rights and ending support for dictators had wound up urging a dictator to shoot his own citizens in the streets. Another was that the United States had lost its "island of stability" in the Middle East-and lost it, moreover, to Khomeini, who would soon present to the world an exceptionally vicious demonstration of the distinction between authoritarianism and outright totalitarianism. The fall of the shah, the possibility that a Khomeini-dominated Iran might end up in the Soviet orbit, and, finally, the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan finally forced Carter to deal with the geopolitical realities of the cold war, the very conflict that he and his advisers had insisted was irrelevant to the world's future. After three years of watching his utopian hopes for the world dissolve, Carter had belatedly discovered the virtues of a robust and assertive American foreign policy. It was in this new mood that he declared an increase in American defense spending, the first since the end of the Vietnam war. It was in the same mood that in April 1980 he finally authorized an attempt by the U.S. military to rescue 52 Americans held hostage since the seizure of the American embassy five and a half months earlier. But the effort was doomed almost from the start. Badly conceived, insufficiently manned or supported, and obsessively micromanaged from the White House, the rescue attempt ended in death and disaster, the administration's final foreign-policy fiasco and a low point for American prestige.Through it all, Carter still refused to consider any decisive use of military force. He refused to send aid to anti-Communist rebels in Afghanistan; he refused to use the U.S. military to prevent the Nicaraguan Sandinistas from supporting Marxist guerrillas in neighboring countries; he refused to consider any stronger action against the Iranian hostage-takers; and he expressed disgust when Ronald Reagan, his opponent in the November 1980 election, called them "barbarians" and "criminals."

In sum, Carter's attempt to soften America's profile in the world had left the United States in the most perilous position it had known since the Korean war. Soaring oil prices, especially after the fall of the shah, had made a shambles of the global economic order. New Soviet proxies held power in nearly a dozen states in East Asia, Africa, the Middle East (including Afghanistan and South Yemen), and Latin America. More than 85,000 Soviet troops occupied Afghanistan; 35,000 Cuban troops were in Africa. Russian and Cuban military advisers operated in countries like Ethiopia, South Yemen, Mozambique, and Angola with impunity. Soviet SS-20 missiles had been installed specifically to threaten Western Europe and intimidate the NATO alliance.Even worse, the Soviet Union had become a major military power in the Western hemisphere. At Cienfuegos in Cuba, Soviet warships, submarines, and Backfire bombers enjoyed access to air strips and naval facilities, much as they did at Cam Rahn Bay in Vietnam. A Soviet combat brigade was training Cuban soldiers in the art of anti-tank warfare-admittedly, not very helpful for fighting in the jungles of Central America, but very useful for future operations in places like Ethiopia, the Horn of Africa, or the Arabian peninsula. Russian reconnaissance flights off the east coast of North America were becoming frequent, and so was electronic surveillance of American telephone and cable traffic. Meanwhile, the Cubans and Sandinistas were continuing to supply insurgencies in Guatemala and El Salvador. In 1979, the tiny island country of Grenada had become a full-fledged Cuban ally and a staging ground for expanding Communist influence in the Caribbean.The one place where Carter and his defenders could point to success was with the Camp David accord between Egypt and Israel in September 1978. But the exception was only apparent, and in any case proved the rule. For a bilateral Israel-Egypt agreement was not something Carter had sought or welcomed. Quite the contrary: his Middle East policy rested on achieving a "comprehensive" settlement with all parties to the Arab-Israel conflict, and with the active participation of the same Soviet Union whose forces had only recently been kicked out of Egypt by President Anwar Sadat. The visit of Sadat to Israel in November 1977 thus came as an unpleasant surprise.For nearly a year, the White House fought against a separate peace deal between the two countries, and it was only out of a kind of desperation that Carter finally decided to call the Camp David meeting. By then, both Sadat and Begin were more than ready for a final agreement; for both men, the chief virtue of an American commitment lay in the hope that it would prevent the USSR and its Arab allies, including the PLO, from derailing the peace they had struck between themselves.2 So much for multilateralism.

In January 1981, Ronald Reagan and his foreign-policy team came into office determined to reverse the post-Vietnam trend of declining American power and the Carterite assumptions that rationalized and justified it. For them, the world's dividing line ran not between the rich and the poor but between the enslaved and the free.Reagan believed that by promoting American interests and defending America's friends, we would benefit both ourselves and millions of others all around the world. Some, like our NATO allies in Europe, would benefit directly, under the umbrella of collective security. Others, like the emerging nations of Latin America, Africa, and Asia, would benefit indirectly, as a resurgence of American confidence revved the engines of global economic growth and protected peoples from subjugation by others.Far from seeing American military supremacy as a provocation, Reagan proudly defended America's record as "the greatest force for peace in the world" precisely because America was free as well as strong. His policy would consist of an unashamed, unapologetic assertion of American exceptionalism and an application of, in his words, "the timeless truths and values Americans have always cherished to the realities of today's world." In the process, Reagan would establish a new paradigm for American foreign policy, or, rather, he would reestablish, under a conservative Republican banner, the liberal foundations of the post-World War II Pax Americana stretching back through Presidents Johnson and Kennedy to Truman.This is hardly to say that Reagan's conduct of foreign policy was without flaws, or that his successor, George Bush, Sr., who presided over the collapse of the Soviet Union and the breaking-up of its empire, did not commit his own blunders, both major and minor. But Reagan and Bush's re-assertion of the Pax Americana, instead of wrecking our international image or alienating our allies, not only helped build a series of highly successful international coalitions and united fronts but also freed up the forces of globalization, making possible an unprecedented future growth of international trade and thereby undergirding the prosperity of the Clinton years.We need not linger over those years or over Bill Clinton's own foreign policy, which vacillated wildly from Carter-style multilateralism, accompanied by deep cuts in the U.S. defense budget, to a post-Rwanda, post-Bosnia activism applied in an often incoherent and ad-hoc fashion. Nor need we rehearse the story of George W. Bush's tenure in office-an eight-year period marked at the beginning by a deep wariness toward international commitments and "nation-building" and then, after, 9/11, by a dramatic return to the basics of American exceptionalism and a resounding commitment to the expansion of freedom and democracy. The point is that between the two of them, Clinton hesitantly and Bush wholeheartedly, post-World War II American foreign policy turned away from the humbler, gentler multilateralist model of the Carter years and, in so doing, reverted to form.

Now Barack Obama comes into office, trailing clouds of Carterite rhetoric and Carteresque ideas about the inutility of military force, the sovereign worth of "aggressive diplomacy" (an incoherent and meaningless phrase), and the need to accommodate ourselves to a world in which we are no longer even an economic superpower, let alone an example to mankind. Of Carter himself, it might be said in mitigation that he assumed the presidency at an exceptionally bad moment, in the wake of a humiliating withdrawal from Vietnam and in an atmosphere of defeatism among many prominent figures in the political establishment and, among others, a feeling of positive revulsion toward both the ends and the means of American power. Carter was wrong to think that the way forward was to adopt, wholesale, the arguments of the anti-Vietnam-war movement-wrong in theory, and dangerously wrong in practice. Still, one can understand why, in the circumstances, someone of his bent might have come to the position he did.But today? When Iraq, the most egregious example of Bush's supposedly reckless zeal to go it alone, is turning out to be a success, reaffirming the rightness of America's cause and the soundness of the postwar vision? Why adopt, today, the arguments and proposals of those who still pretend that Iraq has been nothing but a sordid failure, or who hold that the fact of its success proves nothing whatsoever about who we are and what we stand for?Some of Obama's early choices for high-level foreign-policy positions-particularly General James Jones as National Security Adviser and the incumbent Robert Gates as Secretary of Defense-suggest that the President-elect may be reconsidering his priorities. One can only hope so. In his book Diplomacy, Henry Kissinger writes that the experience of history is a statesman's one sure guide. As the historical experience of the last 30 years has demonstrated over and over again, and as the historical experience of the last eight years underlines once more with blinding clarity, Carterism is not the way.

________________________________________Footnotes1"Dictatorships and Double Standards," COMMENTARY, November 1979.2 See Robert W. Tucker, "Behind Camp David," COMMENTARY, November 1978.

________________________________________About the AuthorArthur Herman is the author most recently of Gandhi and Churchill: The Epic Rivalry that Destroyed an Empire and Forged Our Age (Bantam Books). His articles in COMMENTARY include "Why Iraq Was Inevitable" (July-August 2008) and "Who Owns the Vietnam War? (December 2007).(c) 2009 Commentary Inc.

Former French President Mauled by Dog!

Actually, former president Chirac was bitten by his pet poodle. The pooch apparently is suffering from clinical depression.

Dogs getting treated for depression? Who knew?

From FOX News:,2933,481426,00.html

Thursday, January 22, 2009

The Cost of Withdrawing from Gaza

Ralph Peters rolls-in on Israel's premature withdrawal from Gaza, courtesy of the New York Post:



January 22, 2009 --

THE last Israel Defense Forces soldier has left the Gaza Strip. Israel won - for now. But feckless political leadership may have cost Israel a durable victory.

Israel's cause was just, and a response was necessary. Terror can't be tolerated. Unfortunately, Israel's decision to halt military operations prematurely does amount to tolerating terror.

The core leadership of Hamas was allowed to survive. Amid the ruins, cowardly terrorists emerged from their bunkers to declare victory simply because they're still breathing.

Israel now must answer a moral question about the conflict - although not in the Hamas-hugging form the global left has posed.
The question isn't whether the death and destruction was criminal - it wasn't. Hamas, not Israel, ignited this miniature war.

Rather, the question is whether the amount of damage the IDF did was useful, given that Israel's leaders were unwilling to go all the way. Had the bloodthirsty Hamas bosses been killed, every bit of collateral damage would have been justified.

Will murkier results justify the physical destruction and loss of civilian lives - however exaggerated by terrorist sympathizers? Or did Israel, by stopping short, hand Hamas a propaganda gift of picturesque ruins, dead kids and grinning terrorists?

Had Israel been willing to go all the way, every loss on either side would hav
e been justified. But Israel's government chickened out again.

The IDF performed superbly, redeeming its reputation after the 2006 Lebanon debacle. But Prime Minister Ehud Olmert's government, after an encouraging start, reverted to its past spinelessness - a failure of nerve that served Israelis and Palestinians badly.

After the basic issue of whether a war is just comes the question of whether the war's results justify the costs. Had Israel continued to focus on smashing Hamas and killing its leaders, this would have qualified, readily, as a just war from start to finish.

But now we just don't know if this truncated conflict will produce desirable long-term consequences, or if a convalescent Hamas will continue ruling Gaza with the gun and eventually resume its terror-rocket campaign.

Hamas has suffered a painful setback, physically, politically and psychologically. But it may not have been hurt enough. Hardcore terrorists take a lot of killing.Israel showed what it can do. But strategic exhibitionism goes only so far.

Two possible scenarios lie ahead. First, Hamas may have lost so much credibility that it can't maintain its grip on the population, allowing less-radical Palestinians (if only there were an alternative to the corrupt, discredited Fatah) to play a greater role in Gaza's future. If Gaza's people manage to reject terror, this war will have been worthwhile.

Alternatively, if Hamas retains the power to press ahead with its program to further radicalize Gaza and provide a second Iranian bridgehead on Israel's border, this war will have been an ugly, costly failure.

When will Israel (or the United States) learn that you can't make war halfway? If we have to fight, we must aim for a no-nonsense victory, no matter the cost. And yes, victory remains possible, despite the intelligentsia's nonsense to the contrary.

Whether we look at the Bush administration's willingness to march to Baghdad, only to shy from the costs of mastering Baghdad, or Israel's recent foray into Gaza, the strategic imperatives are obvious: Formulate clear war aims, pile on with everything you've got - and don't quit until you've achieved decisive results.

That's Military Basics 101. But few politicians take that course these days.Israel's government does have plenty of excuses for halting its offensive. It didn't want to be on the blame-line for President Obama's first foreign-policy crisis. A war prosecuted to the finish would have cost much higher casualties. And Israel faces elections in a few weeks.But the bottom line is that, if Israel wasn't ready to go all the way, it shouldn't have gone in at all. For a rule-of-law democracy to embark on a war about which it isn't completely serious is a crime.

Perhaps the end result of all this will be positive. International donors are lining up to offer the Palestinians billions to rebuild, but refusing (for now) to channel the money through Hamas. Perhaps aid will do what Israel left undone.But I wouldn't bet on it.
(Nor would I).

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Now that the Inaugural Party is over...

...our new president signed an executive order to close Guantanamo Bay within a year.

Despite the rhetoric in his speech, that "...we are at war..." President Obama is certainly not acting like he's waging war against a merciless foe.

Never before in the annuls of military history have combatants been given access to their enemy's judicial system.

Just over half the voting population in the US doesn't believe we are at war, or that this was all instigated the reviled Bush Administration. What these folks don't understand is that our enemies fervently believe they are at war with us. Treating terrorists bent on destroying our way of life like a law enforcement matter has, and will continue to hamstring our war effort.

In wartime, enemy soldiers rounded up on the battlefield are held until hostilities cease. The Gitmo Detainees aren't even afforded the title POWs (Prisoners of War).

Why? Because while on the battlefield, these detainees violated nearly every Geneva Convention Protocol.

In order to be considered a lawful combatant (a soldier), one has to:

1. Be answerable to a responsible authority--none of the Gitmo detainees are part of their respective nation's military.

2. Wear identifiable rank and insignia--they deliberately blend in with the civilian population, not to mention using their civilians as human shields. (Hamas & Hezbollah use the same tactic).

3. Bear their weapons openly--see #2.

So according to the Geneva convention, these detainees are considered unlawful combatants. That means they are ineligible for protection under the Geneva Convention.

In other words, we could lock these guys up and throw away the key.

As for the supposedly inhuman conditions the detainees live under:

They're served halal meals. That is, food deemed good for Muslims to eat. In fact the food is so good, our soldiers guarding the inmates eat it rather than the usual Army chow. Gitmo is also the first "Gulag" where inmates actually gain weight--about 12 to 14 pounds on average.

As to the supposed abuse, I often called Gitmo the "Monkey House" because the inmates often throw feces and urine at our guards.

So much for the "...we are at war..." Inaugural Rhetoric.

From Yahoo News:

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

As Americans Celebrate a Peaceful Transition of Power...

Hamas is celebrating--a victory?Yep. Hamas survived Israel's onslaught and so they're celebrating their "victory" over the "Zionist Entity."

That is all any terrorist organization has to do: Survive. Stay in the fight.

It doesn't matter that the Israeli government voted on withdrawing from Gaza. All the Israelis wanted was for Hamas to stop its rocket attacks against their citizens.

All Hamas wants to do is destroy Israel. So as long as this terrorist organization still exists it's been given a reprieve in order to pursue it's stated goal.

Inauguration 2009

Here's a picture, courtesy of AP, you don't see in very many countries around the world: The peaceful and systematic transition of power of our great nation's leadership.
No matter what the next four years may bring, today we celebrate the historic inauguration of our nation's 44th president.
I watched the inauguration during breakfast and currently have all the TVs on in the house. Despite my own political leanings, I thought President Obama's speech was even-keeled and laced with enough rhetoric to satisfy folks on both sides of the political aisle.
(Note: If you read through the contents of this blog and check out the links, you'll probably have a good idea about who I voted for).
So will President Obama deliver on his campaign & inaugural promises? We'll see.
Starting tomorrow we'll have 3 years and 364 days to criticize the Obama Administration and his proposed policies.
But not today. Today's a day to celebrate what makes America--"warts and all"--the greatest nation in the history of the world.
Best wishes to President Obama, Former-President Bush and their families.
May God Bless America!
President Obama's Inaugural Speech:

Monday, January 19, 2009

DC Disaster?

Some of us consider the election of President Obama to be an impending disaster for this country. But that's not what I'm talking about here.

Apparently several days before the Inauguration, under the outgoing Bush Administration, Washington DC was declared a disaster area.

Why? In order to free up Federal funds in order to pay for the extravaganza.

In my current position within Washington State's Emergency Management, declaring a disaster is a very big deal. This allows a municipality (city, county, state) break normal budgetary constraints and tap into higher echelon funds in order to cope with the crisis.

The intent of this procedure was to help communities recover from natural disasters or attacks--not for getting "knee-deep in the hoopla."

I'm all for celebrating our nation's peaceful transition of power. Especially since it's becoming rarer occurrence among the other nations of the world. But bending the rules to the level of a Cirque do Soleil contortionist is taking it a bit too far.

Mark Steyn rolled-in on this a couple of days ago:

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Israel Succumbs to Media & International Pressure

It's sad to see a top-notch military force hamstrung by political squeemishness. Earlier yesterday, Israel announced a unilateral ceasefire. The "usual suspects" have stirred up trouble, even here in Seattle, as pictured here from this Seattle Times photo.

Most westerners see the Israeli-Palestinian conflict as two hot-headed cultures having gross misunderstandings which lead to the "cycle of violence.

"What these same folks don't realize that Hamas's charter, and I believe Hezbollah's too, call for the destruction of Israel. That would be like our US Constitution calling for the elimination of the "Anglo Entity," otherwise known as Canada.

Here's the Seattle Time's story on the cease fire:

Disproportionate Media Coverage

Once again the media is drawn to the wailing and ululating from the middle east. Hamas, deliberately initiating attacks on Israel from their own populated areas, continue to paint themselves as victims of Israeli "aggression"--and the mainstream media (MSM) is buying it.

(AP photo of protesters in Beirut)

Meanwhile millions of victims suffering from truly despotic regimes are ignored.

Or as Comrade Karla puts it: "Another one of Hamas' less endearing practices--this actually is done by Fatah and the Hezbos as well, though the media is dead set against reporting on it for some reason."

The National Review Online January 16, 2009, 0:00 a.m.

Camera-Ready Victims Hamas practices human sacrifice; the world shrugs.

By Mona Charen

They are estimating that as many as 1,000 Gazans (unverified) may have been killed and many more wounded by Israel's counterattack against Hamas, whose missiles have rained down on southern Israel's schools, homes, and businesses for several years. Many of those killed by the Israel Defense Forces were Hamas operatives. (Israel turns out to have excellent intelligence about their locations, and in several instances the IDF phoned its target before attacking, giving him an opportunity to save his family by leaving the house.) But many were not terrorists, because Hamas has perfected a kind of camera-ready human sacrifice-placing its launchers in playgrounds, hospitals, and neighborhoods crowded with mothers and children.

Every innocent life lost is a tragedy and a horror. But if you watch the news in Brussels or Boston and certainly in Islamabad or Caracas, you will get the distorted impression that the Palestinian plight is the worst on earth-an impression that is reinforced almost daily by the United Nations. We in the United States pay almost no attention to the resolutions, findings, and advocacy of the U.N., regarding it as a font of gasbaggery, stinking hypocrisy, and cant. But the rest of the world does pay attention. According to Eye on the U.N., in 2008, 68 percent of General Assembly resolutions regarding violations of human rights targeted Israel. Afghanistan was cited in 4 percent of the resolutions, along with Azerbaijan, Georgia, the United States, and a few others. Russia, Sudan, China, and Saudi Arabia, to name just a few, were not cited at all. In 2007, 32 countries were mentioned for human-rights violations, though most just barely. Israel once again topped the list with 121 actions taken against it. Sudan came in second with 61, Myanmar third with 41. The U.S. was No. 4, with 39 actions, tied with the Democratic Republic of the Congo!

Regarding the plight of Gaza, remember this: Between 1948, when Israel was created, and 1967, when Israel captured Gaza in a defensive war, the Gaza Strip was administered by Egypt. During those 19 years, the Egyptians never offered citizenship to the Palestinians living in Gaza, nor did they permit them free transit from the Strip into Egypt proper. They did nothing to encourage the establishment of an independent Palestinian state. In fact, in 1958, Egypt's President Nasser formally annulled the "All Palestine Government"-a remnant of the Palestinian state the Arabs had rejected in 1948. Egypt, like all of the other Arab states and, importantly, the U.N., chose to keep the Palestinians bereft and stateless-a permanent and growing dagger aimed at Israel.

Even more instructive is this: When Israel withdrew from Gaza in 2005, Gaza's residents had a golden opportunity to begin to build the sort of state they had claimed to desire. The Israelis even left behind the infrastructure to give the Palestinians a start: roads, houses, swimming pools, fish farms, nurseries, orchards, and factories. The Palestinians chose to kill one another (see Jonathan Schanzer's new book, Hamas vs. Fatah) and to fire missiles across the border at Israel instead. Apologists like Columbia's Rashid Khalidi protest that Israel continued to control sea lanes, borders, and air space around Gaza and cut off aid after the Palestinians elected Hamas. Well, Hamas didn't seem to have any trouble importing longer- and longer-range Iranian missiles despite Israel's blockade. And in any case, despite the advice of some hardliners in Israel, the Israeli government continued to permit humanitarian supplies to come through.

Since the start of 2007, 16,000 civilians have been killed in fighting. Not in Gaza, so you may have missed it. It was in Somalia, where an Islamist movement is fighting Ethiopian troops. This is the 18th year of civil strife in that country.

In Sri Lanka, some 70,000 people have perished in a civil war that has flared on and off since 1983. The regime in Burma has killed thousands and forced an estimated 800,000 into involuntary servitude.

In the Democratic Republic of the Congo (formerly Zaire), 45,000 people are dying every month. Nearly 5.5 million have died since 1998 in a conflict that grew out of the violence in Rwanda and spread. Half of those deaths were of children under the age of five, according to the International Rescue Committee. The violence in the Democratic Republic of the Congo has caused more human devastation than any conflict since World War II.

In Darfur, Sudan, more than 200,000 people have been killed and 2.5 million made homeless by violence.To cite these sad data is not to suggest that suffering is tolerable in any particular case-but merely to observe that the world is strangely blinkered in choosing the tragedies to which it responds.

- Mona Charen is a nationally syndicated columnist.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Comments from Comrade Karla #2

Today the good comrade rolls-in on some oft-used criticism of Israel.

1. On Israeli "warcrimes": I'm well aware, as an historian, of past Israeli transgressions prior to independence and after. What's more interesting to me is that Arab transgressions, which are monumental and ongoing, and range from deliberate targeting of civilians to deliberate perpetuation of the Palestinian "refugee" problem for domestic political purposes is completely and continually ignored by those who wish to place the entire onus of fault in the region on Israel. I've concluded, after many years of not only study but attempts to engage on the issue, that those who believe such things simply are not interested in an objective discussion of the issues.

2. On the elusive middle-east peace and Israel's "disproportionate response":

Or, as Golda Meir said, "we will have peace with the Arabs when the love their children more than they hate us." If the Arabs truly wanted peace and were willing to accept Israeli as a sovereign state, this conflict would have been over long ago. Defending your country from ongoing missile attack can hardly be considered a jihadi policy; rather it is the jihadis who have brought this upon their own heads. Actions have consequences. One of these days Hamas and their ilk will learn this lesson.

3. On Jews clinging to Israel in the name of Zionism when they should be emigrating to the west:

That's simply unrealistic, nor it is a very serious argument, say compared with the debate about what should happen to the occupied territories or how to resolve the associated issues of settlements, the border, security arrangements or the role of neighboring states. Nor does it seem based on any serious evaluation of the actual situation--non of the Israelis I know are interested in going somewhere else, and why should they? Israel is a sovereign, legitimate state by any understanding of the accepted definition. Try reading the Hamas or Fatah charters to see how they feel about it--hard to see how you can have a peace treaty with an organization who's baseline is destruction of your country and people.

4. On criticizing Israel does not equal anti-Semitism:

No, it actually is a fact that anti-semitism often lurks behind much anti-Israeli criticism--certainly not all, but much of it--do some youtube searches on the sicko stuff being yelled at demonstrations from London to Dearborn about Israel needing more ovens or Hitler didn't do his job. Surely the sick antics of the UN meetings at Durban cannot have escaped your notice?5. On the "unbiased" press coverage of Gaza:Once again, none of this gainsays the fact that coverage of the conflict tends to be biased in favor of Hamas and the "2 minute drive by media" spend little time trying to put together any sort of comprehensive analysis, which ranges from the careless (CNN, Fox, MSNBC) to the outright dishonest (BBC, Al Jezeera, AP, Reuters, etc).

Illegal Israel?

Since the IDF's operation into Gaza, some of my friends fended off comments about Israel's right to exist and the "maliciousness of Zionism."

Here's one excellent rebuttal:

As usual, the anti-Israeli arguments go something like this:

1. They're Jews, and you know how they love to influence the US Government

2. Haven't we lived with Holocaust guilt long enough (this, of course, is only operative if the Holocaust is even acknowledged as a historical fact)

3. Israel may have held a position of strategic benefit for the United States in the Cold War, but now they don't.

4. America supported Israel at its creation, and Israel only exists because of that support.

5. Israel continues to persecute Palestinians over land that Israel stole from them.

6. Hey, even some Jews don't agree with Israel.

Therefore, that deligitimizes Israel's right to even exist.And as usual, each of the these represents the moral equivalence and intellectual laziness of the left:

1. So what if they're Jews. That makes not a lick of difference. The Congressional Black Caucus is a lobby for African-Americans. The NAACP does this too. They are infinitely larger and more influential in the US than AIPAC. By this logic, we must expunge all financial aid for inner city youth and strike down all the unfairly-influenced civil rights legislation of the last 60 years.

2. Yes, we've all lived with Holocaust guilt long enough. Just like I am no longer obliged to apologize for any of my ancestors who may have held a back man in bondage in the early 19th century. But we had better not forget the lessons of 1933-1945. And in 1948, this was all any nation required to openly support the new State of Israel. They required NO clinical strategical calculus, no cost-benefit analysis of who would be nearer to the oil supply or not, whose allies were whose. Don;t get me wrong, every country did these things, but it was enough that Israel was created as an internationally-recognized haven for the Jewish people.. Whoops...did I say internationally-recognized? I sure did. Despite there being NO international legal requirement for the United Nations to approve of Israel declaring itself a nation, this international body did so with a General Assembly resolution in 1947.

3. It is an absolute truth that Israel does not occupy the same caliber of strategic importance to the US in the Middle East that it did during the Cold War. But neither does Germany, S. Korea, or Canada, for that matter. But where is the call for us to "re-think" our policy vis-a-vis Germany and Canada? Obviously it's not there and for very good reasons. Yes, that's plural. The aforementioned clinical strategic calculation is only one reason. The same moral force that led President Truman to support Israel not only remains today, it is actually more clear than ever. We may take issue with those instances when Israel steps over the line in the conduct of war, but just like in this country, they rountinely tear themselves apart politically debating this very thing. What do the Palestinian and radical Arabs best to eliminate Israel. If this difference is not clear, the degree of blurriness corresponds to the degree of intellectual laziness (read: moral equivalence).

4. Fact: America supported Israel at its creation. Fact: Israel would have had a tough time maintaining existence without this support (but by no means impossible). This too is immaterial to the present discussion. But since it is a favorite anti-Israel argument (see above intellectual laziness), lets us take it to the proper conclusion. Fact: France supported the rebellious American colonies against Britain. Fact: The United States would be nether "united" nor "states" without France. You cannot use this argument without acknowledging and applying it equally. But since the response is likely to be, "well, that was different!!" Lets look at that too. The colonies were legitimate provinces of the English crown in rebellion against their lawful government. By what right dis those colonies claim independence, and by what right did France support them? Israel, by contrast, existed as an independent people under UN mandate that was subsequently approved for independent statehood by that very same body and recognized by the majority of existing sovereign nations. Yes, I'm afraid that Israel has more of a "right" to exist as a country than the United States!!! (please, no hate mail, I'd sign the Declaration too if I beamed into Philly on 02 June 1776).

5. As for all that land the Israelis "stole," this falls under the also-recognized international right of self-defense and conquest. Israel gained this land while at war defending itself from attacks in contravention of existing international law. There is, however, something to be said for how Israel treated many of the people it found in these lands, but that is but a small issue compared to the big ones.6. Ans Charles Lindbergh didn't agree with helping the British against the Nazis. But thankfully, he was only one American (and a misguided one at that).

Amazing Landing

You see this on a lot of action-adventure movies: A crippled plane ditches in the ocean or some other body of water and the heroes jump out. Unfortunately, in a real-life water landing, especially for a large passanger jet, usually doesn't end well.

This one did. US Airways Flight 1549 suffered a "double bird strike" and went down in the Hudson River, NY. Everyone was rescued. It's really heartening to see smiles all around a rescue operation.

Remember: Any landing you walk away from is a good one.

Dissention within Hamas & UN Compound Shelled

There appears to be dissention among the ranks within Hamas. The leaders and supporters who are in hiding and/or abroad, are encouraging the rank & file to continue fighting. Meanwhile those living within the gunsights of Israeli firepower have other ideas.

Also a UN compound was shelled "a half a dozen times" within a 2-hour period. The IDF claims its troops came under fire from the direction of the compound. The UN representatives are crying "foul!"

While tragic, the folks at the UN should actually READ the Geneva convention. Any protected site, such as schools, mosques, UN compounds, loose their protected status if used for military purposes--something Hamas, Hezbollah and the rest of their ilk do on a regular basis.Here's the dissention article:

While here's the UN compound one:

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Seattle's "Big Dig?"

Ever since I moved here, Seattle has wrestled with the question about what to do with the Alaska Way Viaduct. (Pictured here). Construction of the viaduct began in the '50s and is definately showing it's age. Of even greater concern is whether or not the viaduct can withstand another moderate, or larger, earthquake.

Yesterday, Seattle voted to construct a tunnel to replace the aging viaduct.

Judging by the initial statements from the 120 comments posted on the Seattle Times website, not everyone's happy with this decision.

Nor were Bostonians happy with their Big Dig--until it was finished and all the unsightly elevated commuter rails were taken down.

Quote of the Day #1

"The society that separates its scholars from its warriors will have its thinking done by cowards and its fighting done by fools."

- Thucydides

Sadly, we've separated our scholars from our warriors about a generation ago.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

There's a New Warden in Town...

...and his name is Senator Murtha.Here's what the Honorable Senator had to say about Gitmo, courtesy of the Washington Post:
Murtha: OK To Send Gitmo Prisoners To Pennsylvania
By Kimberly Hefling, Associated PressWASHINGTON -- A top House Democrat who is a leading critic of the Iraq war says he would have no qualms about transferring Guantanamo detainees to a prison in his Pennsylvania district.
Suspected terrorists at the military's detention center in Cuba are "no more dangerous in my district than in Guantanamo," Rep. John Murtha told Fox News on Wednesday.
President Barack Obama planned to sign an executive order Thursday to close the prison within a year and halt military trials of those held there, The Associated Press has learned.
Murtha, who heads the powerful House subcommittee that funds the military, said he was encouraged by the president's proposal. He said there was "no reason not to put 'em in prisons in the United States and handle them the way they would handle any other prisoners."
At least three military prisons -- in Fort Leavenworth, Kan., Camp Pendleton, Calif., and Charleston, S.C. -- could house some of the Guantanamo detainees, an administration official said. Also under consideration, the official said, is the Supermax prison Florence, Colo., which houses convicted Sept. 11 conspirator Zacarias Moussaoui and Olympic bomber Eric Rudolph.An estimated 245 men are held at the U.S. naval base in Cuba. They are believed to be al-Qaida, Taliban or other foreign fighters who pose a threat to the United States.
I wonder how willing he'll be to host Gitmo's sociopaths when his constituents screech "not in my backyard!"

Friday, January 9, 2009

When the Going Gets Tough...

...the international community creates a new command and/or bureaucracy.
A "new international being formed" to take-on the dreaded Somali pirates. Unfortunately this new command will be operating under the same Rules of Engagement (ROE) that's currently hamstringing the current international force.

(The picture is another of Howard Pyle's work).

The Rain here in Western WA Stopped...

...but large swaths of the state still have to dry out.

I-5 is expected to open today as well as Snoqualmie Pass (I-90). From what I've heard on the radio today there's a long line of trucks waiting to roll through both areas. Once these throughway's are open commercial traffic will take precedence.

Pictured here is a Seattle Times aerial photo of the Snoqualmie River.

UN to the Rescue...

...of the Palestinians.I guess it's okay to fire rockets incessantly at Israeli houses, but not the other way around.

Once again, Israel finds itself an outlaw-nation to the UN for defending itself.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Meanwhile on the Eastern Side of WA...

...they're still dealing with snow.

However, the snow's melting and getting heavier. So roofs are collapsing and all the mountain passes are closed because of avalanches.

Spokane County is one of the hardest hit. Below is an article discussing the on-going cost.

First Snow, Now Rain

Today we got hit with a Pineapple Express. That is, instead of the cool arctic air coming down from the Great White North, we get warm, moist air from the central Pacific.

So not only are we getting rained on, but the Christmas Snow is now melting. This double-whammy is causing the rivers to rise throughout the state.

The Washington State National Guard deployed some of its troops to help out Spokane County, which is still buried under a record amount of snowfall. Last I heard the county had 29 roofs collapse due to the weight of, now wet and melting snow.

More guardsmen were suppose to deploy to Lewis county which is experiencing the most flooding so far. However, they couldn't roll out because numerous road closures.Here's just one story from the Seattle Times:

By the way, 20 miles of I-5 is now closed.

Here's the meteorological definition of a Pineapple Express:

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

A Military Operation by Any Other Name

Yesterday, I received a lot of e-mail traffic regarding Gaza. The Israeli's are calling their offensive "Operation Cast Lead." I guess that means they're trying to find where the bottom of Hamas' infrastructure is--and then smash it.

My like-minded friends and I say "happy hunting" to the IDF. Unfortunately, world opinion (as usual) is against Israel and claims the military response to incessant rocket attacks is "disproportionate."

The political cartoon shown here by Ed Gamble, illustrates the type of enemies Israel--and other western democracies, for that matter--face.

Operation Cast Lead, as reported by Ynetnews:,7340,L-3646673,00.html

Mark Steyn rolled-in on several issues yesterday--Sharia Law in Gaza, Samuel Huntington's passing, Ahmadinejad's "Christmas Address" to the UK, via the BBC (!?) and Israel's "disproportionate" response:

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Samina's Secret?

I found this picture, along with commentary, posted today on Debbie Schlussel's blog. Scroll down until you get to this eye-catching photo with the title "Islamic Modesty."

Back in 2000 I was deployed to Sarajevo, Bosnia for nearly 4 months. Everyone's favorite section was the Turkish Quarter which had all the cool shops. More importantly, for us guys anyway, you'd see women decked-out in stylish, Euro-Muslim fashions--much like the young lady pictured here, although sadly, without the exposed thong.

I certainly don't have a problem with muslim women dressing in some semblance of islamic attire. I find it looks rather elegant--on Muslim women. Like Ms. Schlussel, what I do have a problem with is Muslims demanding we infidels accomodate their dress-code. It's a case of the tail wagging the fashion dog.

If it wasn't for the hysteria generated from the "Religion of Perpetual Outrage," as Michelle Malkin refers to Islam, then this picture would merely be an amusing case of "Things Make You Go Hmmm."