March 13, 2012

History should be treated with truth-loving respect...

I was looking through old posts, and thought this one worth re-posting. Just for my own satisfaction; no one else is likely to care. From November 26, 2001...

British attack in  the film Barry LyndonThe Captain [i.e. Steven den Beste, much missed in the Blogosphere] has written a great bit debunking the persistent myth that the American colonists fought the British by shooting from behind trees and rocks, while the redcoats foolishly paraded in lines.

This is a tall tale that never dies, but in fact the linear tactics were used by both sides for good reasons.

The smoothbore muskets used then were very inaccurate. An individual sniper would be unlikely to do much damage. (Even at Lexington and Concord, the majority of the British survived that long cruel day.) Only with masses of men firing in volleys was firepower effective. AND, muskets were slow to reload. While you were reloading, your only defense was the bayonet. Again, the individual was vulnerable, but a line of men could present a bristling front of bayonets.

Some colonists had rifles, which were very accurate. BUT, rifles then were VERY slow to load, and didn't have bayonets. They were a grief to the British, but never decisive in battle.

Just as important, no one back then had figured out how to control a battle when men were crawling about taking cover. It was a then-insuperable problem. (It was really only solved in 1918, when the Ludendorf Offensives almost defeated the Allies)

I have read that Baron von Steuben, who taught infantry tactics to Washington's army, was flagrantly homosexual. I don't know the details, but gays might want to keep him in mind.

Also good to remember is that the British at Lexington were peace-time soldiers who had never practiced their craft seriously; and didn't expect to find themselves at war (their position was similar to modern "peacekeeping missions".) If the same battle were fought a year later, they would have burned Lexington and Concord to the ground, and massacred any Minutemen who couldn't run very very fast.

I would add that the British at the time of Lexington had the tactics to deal with the colonial rabble. But they hadn't practiced, and were simply not ready. Every battalion (maybe 800 men in 10 companies) had a "light company." These were supposed to be agile and intelligent chaps who could move ahead of the line, dealing with enemy skirmishers and irregulars. They should have given the colonists some real difficulties, but didn't.

The famous British Rifle Regiments emerged from the Revolutionary War. They were fast-moving units clothed in dark green, with black details. They carried no flags, because they did not form a line. Bugles were used for rapid signaling. They marched twice as fast as the ponderous redcoats, and prided themselves on self-discipline and initiative. In a Rifle Regiment—they still exist—"red" is an insult! But it has nothing to do with Communism.

The French await British attack in  the film Barry Lyndon


The pictures are from Kubrick's film Barry Lyndon, set in the Seven Years War. It is very good as a historical picture—give it a try. Some of the scenes were filmed by candle-light, which was astonishing at the time, 1975. I will never forget my frustration when I went to see it, and as the British attacked in line (the picture at the top) some guy loudly said, "I never understood this!" I could have explained it to him, but alas it was not possible. The lower picture is of the French unit bracing for that oncoming British attack. White was the pre-Revolutionary French color.

Just as a crazy extra for you, the Seven Years War was actually started in America. It was started, in fact, by a colonial officer. A certain young Colonel George Washington, whose rash and bloodthirsty attack on Frenchmen who were not at war with the British, ignited a conflagration that might well be called "the first world war." Fun facts for you. Only available at RJ.

Posted by John Weidner at 7:51 PM | Comments (11)

January 13, 2012

Good point. But...

From Andrea, A message from me to the members of my country’s armed forces:

Could you please stop photographing and filming yourselves doing stuff? Please. Turn off the iPhone, put the Nikon Coolpix back in your pack. No, the folks back home don’t need to see all the fun you get up to. They really don’t. And you know who else doesn’t need to see it? The whole goddamn internet. Because they will. So quit it.

This has nothing to do with how "offensive" whatever you’re up to is. I’m not offended by you — I’m offended by the ever-rising crescendo of whining that we’re now going to have to endure from the pearl-clutchers over here who will now be sputtering and moaning about how "we’re worse than the enemy!" Whine whine whine. It’s like living inside a dentist’s office and the drill is never turned off....

"Pearl-clutchers." Perfect. Write more, Miss Harris!

However, having been recently amongst our warriors, I should point out that... they are a bunch of kids. Lots of them are right out of high school. They are puppies. They don't "act like grownups" because they really aren't. My son is in AIT (Advanced Individual Training) right now, and is repeatedly exasperated because his platoon or company will be collectively punished because one idiot pulls some juvenile prank.

Posted by John Weidner at 9:33 AM | Comments (1)

September 16, 2011

Well, Valhalla is a fit home for warriors...

Charlene was thinking that one of these Hand Carved Viking Style Drinking Horns might perhaps be a Christmas present for one of our sons, who's interested in Nordic stuff. There is, however, a very curious delay mentioned on the web site....

...ATTENTION: Custom orders will be closed through October 15th, 2011 due to a large order for the Navy SEALs.

Please email me at CustomDrinkingHorns@gmail.com to be notified when custom orders re-open or placed on the waiting list for an order....
Posted by John Weidner at 7:58 PM

March 19, 2011

Wrongness...

I have a Facebook account, but have almost entirely stopped using it. Because the things I really want to say don't fit the format.

A good example was the other day, when a "pacifist" posted that our military's humanitarian assistance to Japan was all fine and well, but that we should remember that an army is intended to kill people and destroy things.

Now that is a very stupid thing to write. But a rebuttal would bore and perplex most of those who are my "friends" on Facebook. (and of course would be wasted on the person in question.) Blogs are much better for such replies.

The problem with the statement is that an army is a tool of the state. And in a state like ours, a representative democracy, an army is a tool of the people. Of us! If our army smashes things, the real actors are the people of this country. If America bombs Bormenia, WE did it. You and I.

There is a certain type of person, very common these days, who want to fudge that point! Why? Because their pacifism, or anti-war activism, or whatever, is a sham! A pacifist is a person who has renounced violence as a tool to attain his ends. But these fake-pacifists are in fact people who have lost all higher meaning in their lives, and no longer believe in anything. They are people for whom nothing is worth fighting for. So their pretense that they are acting out of conscience or morality is a lie.

They try to create the impression that our military is some kind of autonomous death cloud, some miasma of evil. Then they can oppose the military, and pretend that that is somehow "pacifism." And feel moral and superior, even while enjoying all the good things our superb military provides us, such as peace and safety.

Actually, I suspect that if there are any "real" pacifists among the fakes, they are pretty much fakes, too. They all make sure to live in safe places. Which are kept safe by cops and soldiers. When I hear of pacifists getting killed because they won't call the cops when hoodlums are breaking down their door at night... then maybe I might guess they are for real.

But of course they do call the cops. And the police are also our tools, who do what we the citizens ask. If I call the police because someone's breaking in, I'm starting an action which may lead to people having large holes shot in them by my hired gunmen. Now I'm fine with that. I think about these things a lot. And I accept the moral responsibility. Including the possibility that things may go all random, and the wrong people are killed. That comes with the package.

And I think that's part of our duty as citizens. To make life-and-death choices. To think things through, and sometimes to decide that deadly force is necessary. Just as I thoughtfully decided (and still feel) that our invasion of Iraq was correct and morally justified. So I bear some of the responsibility, and some of the credit if things turn out well in the long run.

And actually almost any political decision has life-and-death consequences. If you vote for more money for X, that means less money for Y, even if you can't see Y. You have a duty to see it, to imagine it, to foresee the consequences and take responsibility. Choosing or voting for "good things" does not get you off the hook, morality-wise. People may suffer or die because you have starved them of the resources that went to your pet project. Even "pacifists" slaughter people in the voting booth.

And deciding to do nothing usually has life-and-death consequences too. Obviously so, though people wish to slither past this truth. Doing nothing doesn't get you off the hook. Doing nothing is often an evil choice.

US Cruiser fires missile
Posted by John Weidner at 9:17 PM

March 14, 2011

Been too busy to blog much...

...But I had to post this. Ted Gundy, an 85 year-old WWII sniper, is honored at Ft. Benning, And gets accurate hits at 300 yards with a replica of his old rifle. And at 1,000 yards with modern equipment.

Posted by John Weidner at 9:48 AM

December 18, 2010

What though you tread the roads of Hell, Your Captain these same ways has trod...

CHAPLAIN TO THE FORCES

Ambassador of Christ you go
Up to the very gates of Hell ,
Through fog of powder, storm of shell,
To speak your Master's message: "Lo,
The Prince of Peace is with you still,
His peace be with you, His good-will."

It is not small, your priesthood's price.
To be a man and yet stand by,
To hold your life while others die,
To bless, not share the sacrifice,
To watch the strife and take no part—
You with the fire at your heart.

But yours, for our great Captain Christ,
To know the sweat of agony,
The darkness of Gethsemane,
In anguish for these souls unpriced.
Vicegerent of God's pity you,
A sword must pierce your own soul through.

In the pale gleam of new-born day,
Apart in some tree-shadowed place,
Your altar but a packing-case,
Rude as the shed where Mary lay,
Your sanctuary the rain-drenched sod,
You bring the kneeling soldier God.

As sentinel you guard the gate
'Twixt life and death, and unto death
Speed the brave soul whose failing breath
Shudders not at the grip of Fate,
But answers, gallant to the end,
"Christ is the Word—and I his friend."

Then God go with you, priest of God,
For all is well and shall be well.
What though you tread the roads of Hell,
Your Captain these same ways has trod.
Above the anguish and the loss
Still floats the ensign of His Cross.

      -- Winifred Mary Letts
Posted by John Weidner at 6:11 PM

November 10, 2010

More Sikhs!

I was looking for something for vets Day, and stumbled on this. Army gets 1st Sikh enlisted in 30 years - Army Times:

By Susanne M. Schafer - The Associated Press

FORT JACKSON, S.C. — The first Sikh to become an enlisted U.S. soldier in nearly three decades said Wednesday he's eager to move on to training as a combat medic and defend his new homeland on the battlefield.

"When the bullets begin flying, it doesn't concern anyone what religion you are. I bleed the same color," Spc. Simran Lamba, 26, said after his graduation ceremony from basic combat training.

Sikhism, a 500-year-old religion founded in India, requires its male followers to wear a turban and beard and keep their hair uncut. Army policies since 1984 had effectively prevented Sikhs from enlisting by barring those items. But Lamba was granted a rare exception because he has skills the Army wants — the Indian languages Hindi and Punjabi.

Before him, two Sikhs joined the Army as medical officers earlier this year. But Lamba is the first enlisted man since the policy barring religious articles of clothing.

Lamba said his black turban, full beard, unshorn hair and religious beliefs posed no problems during his 10 weeks of training.

"I am proud to be a Sikh, I'm proud to be a U.S. citizen, and proud to be a U.S. Army soldier," he said.

During training, he wore a camouflage turban under his Kevlar helmet. He used petroleum jelly to get a tight grip between his beard and gas mask, and was able to keep his hair clean under all conditions, meeting all the military's concerns about training and appearance.

And besides, the Sikhs were founded as a warrior group who were meant to fight against injustice and inequality Lamba said, so adopting Army values were an easy fit for him.

"The Sikhs are warriors in Indian culture. Once our soldiers heard that, they were all for him," said Lamba's battalion commander, Lt. Col. Bryan Hernandez....
Posted by John Weidner at 6:51 PM

April 4, 2010

Winner: Most awesome Easter Vigil experience!

Loyal reader SGT Ethan e-mailed me about his attending Easter Vigil Mass at St. Elijah Monastery, near Mosul, Iraq. The church is in semi-ruinous condition, and US forces have been trying to preserve it. you can read more about it here and here.

St. Elijah Monastery, Mosul, Iraq

He writes...

Very cool site, and a wonderful mass. Mass was first offered on this site somewhere between 1400 and 1700 years ago, depending on whom you ask. This structure is Byzantine construction from the 1600's, built on top of the old site. The mass was humble, very much unadorned, open air, occasional sound of automatic gunfire from the test fire pit not far away...two soldiers and one contractor were baptized, confirmed and received their first communion, and we had folks from everywhere - lots of Assyrians who work as linguists, then a lot of Indians and some Ugandans who work here, and a good number of soldiers.

It was awfully cool - if for no other reason than how often do you go to mass with an assault rifle on your back and a knife on your hip? The open air, the monastery – yeah, it was a stunning night. Honestly, now I don't want to go on the tour they offer – I want to keep that place in my mind exactly as it was...
Posted by John Weidner at 2:57 PM

December 24, 2009

On Freedom's Wall...

Our thanks and prayers this Christmas go to all those Americans and Anglosphere cousins who serve on the distant ramparts of the world so others in many many lands may sleep safely. God bless you!

Chinook lands on roof, Afghanistan

I first blogged this picture here. Details of the operation by Company B, 2nd Battalion, 22nd Infantry Regiment, in Nuristan Province, Afghanistan, here.

Posted by John Weidner at 4:29 PM

November 11, 2009

In a small, dimly-lit airport...

Something for Veteran's day. A re-post of an old post from August 05, 2004...

This is a splendid story. I've been in dingy airports at 3AM, and the thought of one of those spooky dumps becoming a place of Grace is weird and beautiful...

3 A.M. With the VFW
By Sgt. Michael Thomas

...Thirty-six hours after our scheduled arrival, we landed in Bangor, Maine. It was 3 a.m. We were tired, hungry, and as desperate as we were to get to Colorado, our excitement was tainted with bitterness. While we were originally told our National Guard deployment would be mere months, here we were – 369 days later – frustrated and angry.

As I walked off the plane, I was taken aback: in the small, dimly-lit airport, a group of elderly veterans lined up to shake our hands. Some were standing, some confined to wheelchairs, all wore their uniform hats. Their now-feeble right hands arms stiffened in salutes, their left hands holding coffee, snacks and cell phones for us.

As I made my way through the line, each man thanking me for my service, I choked back tears. Here we were, returning from one year in Iraq where we had portable DVD players, three square meals and phones, being honored by men who had crawled through mud for years with little more than the occasional letter from home.

These soldiers – many of whom who had lost limbs and comrades – shook our hands proudly, as if our service could somehow rival their own....

This picture has nothing to do with the above story, I just put it in for my own satisfaction. (It's from an old post about the death of the last combat-wounded veteran of WWI. Link. My 77th division post is here.)

doughboys_argonne.jpg
Doughboys of the 77th divsion wait on the edge of the Argonne Forest, before the attack on September 26, 1918.

Posted by John Weidner at 5:29 PM

November 6, 2009

Political Correctness kills...

Armed Israeli Defense Force girls

The above picture is one I took on our last year's pilgrimage to the Holy Land. You see young people like this everywhere in Israel. Maybe, just maybe, Israelis know something about dealing with Muslim terrorists. Hmm?

Political Correctness and the Ft. Hood Shooting - Stephanie Gutmann:

...Soldiers in other countries are allowed to carry arms on base and even when they are off-duty. In Israel, for instance, soldiers are issued a rifle and then . . . it's theirs. One sees slender 18-year-old girls, traveling from base, home to the suburbs for Shabbat dinner, still slung with a massive M-16 rifle almost as big as they are. The prevalence of arms doesn't mean the country experiences the kind of random mass murders seen in the United States. It means that the few times someone has gone crazy with a gun in a city street, he was taken down fast by bystanders.

But not American soldiers....

Pacifism, or rather nihilism disguised as fake-pacifism, is one of the sicknesses of our time. No matter how many times it's proved wrong, a large portion of the populace will continue to believe that looking and being weak will make them safer and will prevent violence and war. But pacifism causes war.

Whoever gave the orders that American soldiers should not carry their sidearms or other weapons on our military bases murdered those soldiers who died at Ft Hood. Charlene was an Army brat, and she says that personnel carried their weapons on the base when she was young. Somebody (the phrase "death panel" springs to mind) disarmed the very men and women who are sworn to protect us using violent force when necessary. INSANE! SICK!

And I remember when Reagan became President, one of his first acts was to rescind an order that forbade officers from wearing their uniforms much of the time when working in Washington DC. It's the same sickness.

Bookworm writes, in a good post:

...I've also heard from back channels that people like Hasan have been an ongoing concern within the military. The fear inspired by political correctness, however, has meant that internal enforcement agencies (FBI, military police, etc.) have been afraid to act on their suspicions for fear of being tarred as racists or ideologues. This climate of PC fear must have increased dramatically since Obama's justice department made it plain that it considered those who acted in defense of the U.S. as potential war criminals. In the topsy turvy world of Obama politics, it's a worse sin to be politically incorrect than to be a terrorist. Our national security forces have read the tea leaves and, no matter how patriotic I'm sure they are, they've concluded that the sure risk to their career for being un-PC is greater than the potential risk of a terrorist attack from some psychiatrist or foot soldier somewhere in the South or the Midwest, or wherever else the next Muslim loony-toonz starts making noise on American soil...

Any sane society would have interned Major Hassan. Slapped him into a nice comfy summer-camp as soon as he started talking his Islamist trash-talk. Or at least discharged him! But that would require believing that our country is worth doing tough, even brutal, things for. It is belief that the nihilist fears. Belief in anything that is bigger than the self, anything that demands putting the self second.

What is the common thread among the things that our fake-liberals hate and want to destroy? Christianity and Judaism, America, Israel, family, Western Civ., traditional morality, traditional art and architecture, our military, global responsibility. TRUTH. ALL of them are, on a symbolic level, things that are bigger than the individual, bigger than the supposedly "autonomous" self. Things that demand servanthood, and sacrifice, and devotion.

Posted by John Weidner at 9:47 AM

June 14, 2009

Happy Birthday, Army!

Ethan Hahn—soldier and RJ reader— e-mailed to remind me...

Here's a picture I blogged last year:

1215 service members re-enlist in Baghdad

1,215 Servicemembers from all over Iraq gather in the Al Faw Palace rotunda on Camp Victory, to re-enlist and celebrate America’s Independence Day, July 4, 2008. Photo by MNF-I Public Affairs.

Posted by John Weidner at 9:03 PM

May 26, 2009

Another thought for Memorial Day...

Alan Sullivan:

At 3 PM, President Obama was playing golf very privately at Fort Belvoir, outside of Washington. So much for his ballyhooed "moment of national unity." That is for the God and guns crowd.

I want to dedicate this Memorial Day not only to those who have died in past conflicts, but to those who are going to die because the nation elected this supremely fatuous man to its highest office.

Well, it is probably true.

Think of how many have died because of the fatuousness and weakness of Jimmy Carter. Imagine if he had not ignored a year of warnings about the possibility of a Soviet invasion of Afghanistan? Imagine if he had taken a strong stand in the Iranian hostage crisis? (We now know that the hostage-takers only planned to hold our people for a few days. It was purely Carter's criminal weakness that ended up pinning a "kick me" sign on the USA.) Carter deserves to be called one of history's great mass-murderers.

What I loath most of all is Carter's claiming to be a "Christian," (personally I think he's no Christian at all) with "Christian" meaning being weak in the face of evil, and letting monsters kill and enslave millions of people. Not real people, you understand, just niggers in countries nobody's ever heard of, like Afgnanistan. What could go wrong? (To our "liberals" and "pacifists" the world is similar to that famous New Yorker cover, with a huge Manhattan, and everything else small and obscure.)

I say that's bullshit. I've quoted before the views of St Thomas, in an essay by Darrell Cole, Good Wars. This time I'll give you some John Calvin...
...Calvin, too, looks at the soldier as an agent of God's love. As he argues: "Paul meant to refer the precept of respecting power of magistrates to the law of love." The soldier is thus as much an agent of God's love as he is of God's wrath, for the two characteristics are harmonious in God. Calvin argues in this way because he holds that to soldier justly—to restrain evil out of love for neighbor—is a God-like act. It is God-like because God restrains evil out of love for His creatures. None of this is to say that we fully imitate God or Christ when we use force justly, for the just soldier's acts can never be redemptive acts—acts that have a saving quality for those who are targets of the acts of force (except, of course, in the sense that the just soldier "saves" the unjust neighbor from more unjust acts). Yet the just soldier who cultivates the military virtues in such a way as to harness and direct them toward his final end—beatitude with God—may nevertheless be said to be one who, as the Reformers liked to say, follows Christ at a distance.

How can we follow Christ—even at a distance—while fighting and killing? Calvin gives us an indication by pointing out that Christ's pacific nature (his willingness to suffer violence at the hands of Jewish and Roman authorities) is grounded in the priestly office of reconciliation and intercession that is reserved for him alone. Christ's pacific nature is thus inextricably tied to his role as redeemer and cannot be intended as a model for Christian behavior. No Christian can or should try to act as a redeemer, but all can and should follow Christ in obeying the commands of the Father. And the Father commands the just use of force...

I notice that Cole has a book on this subject. I plan to read it soon...


I notice Glenn Reynolds writes:

"Is Obama Another Jimmy Carter?" Actually, I'm beginning to think that's a best-case situation.


* Update: The SF Public Library is part of a system called LinkPlus, that gives us access to the books of scores of libraries in this region. It is really rare that I can't find a book I want in one of them. But none of them have a copy of Cole's book: When God Says War Is Right. Gee, I wonder why that might be?

I just ordered a copy from amazon.com for $9. I thought immediately of how Milton Friedman wrote about how most of the segregation and racism of the old South was instituted by government, and how the marketplace tended to color-blind!

* Update: Keep in mind that it's the publisher who gets to chose a title for the book. I'd guess that the in-your-face title was not Mr Cole's idea.


Posted by John Weidner at 8:48 AM

May 25, 2009

If Dems didn't have Bush they'd have to invent him...

I think it's really low-class and creepy the way Obama continues to take every opportunity to slam the Bush Administration. It is contrary to American tradition, and un-Presidential. George W Bush, being a gentleman and a decent American, has not answered back. Obama is trying to cover up the emptiness of his Leftist soul, and his lack of any positive vision.

Chris Stirewalt notes Obama's ugly use of Memorial Day for politicking, instead of making this a day for all Americans to share appreciation of our honored dead: Obama takes swipe at Bush in Memorial Day message | Washington Examiner:

And he includes this little gem...

...It gets little notice, but even to this day Bush makes calls on wounded veterans at military hospitals, corresponds with families of fallen servicemembers and gives his own money to veterans charities. In office, Bush hugely increased funding for veterans programs and worked relentlessly to improve the lot of ordinary troops....

Try to imagine liberals, especially Mr Obama, doing that! I'd bet Obam never has and never will give one penny of his own money to veterans charities...

Some links about Bush and soldiers and vets...Link, link, link President Bush with soldiers
Posted by John Weidner at 12:22 PM

November 27, 2008

Thank you!

We are thankful for the men and women who stand on Freedom's Wall!

Submarine USS Jacksonville

The crew of the Los Angeles-class attack submarine Jacksonville tends the mooring lines Nov. 24 upon returning to Norfolk, Va., after a six-month deployment. The deployment was Jacksonville's first in five years after the recent refueling and modernization of the ship. MASS COMMUNICATION SPC. 2ND CLASS XANDER GAMBLE / NAVY [link]

Posted by John Weidner at 5:51 PM

November 1, 2008

"Who feels threatened?"

This piece, by Caroline Glick of the The Jerusalem Post, The Threat of a Jewish Army, is intensely interesting to me, because I'm obsessed with the broad movements of Western Civilization. Thanks to Richard Fernandez, who writes that Israel is the "canary in the coalmine."�

Glick writes: "The Left's vision of Israel as an atheistic, multicultural, morally relativist society holds little attraction for most Israelis." I sure hope so, since that's the Left's vision of America too. My guess is that the chomskys are going to be very disappointed in the results if their current "Manchurian Candidate" is elected He will have about as much success in advancing socialism as Clinton did. His judicial appointees will do a lot by legislating from the bench, since the vile measures of the Left rarely find favor with American voters they despise. That will be an evil thing, but he won't do any better with his version of HillaryCare than Bill did.

....Under the title "Without a Lord of (Military) Hosts," the paper demanded that IDF Chief of General Staff Lt. Gen. Gabi Ashkenazi "put the military rabbinate in its place" and force it to limit its activities to ensuring that IDF grub is kosher and that religious soldiers have what they need to observe religious laws. Haaretz further insisted that the position of chief rabbi be cancelled and that the position of "chief religious services officer" be created in its place. As the editorial put it, "The injection of a religious dimension into the Israel Defense Forces' goals constitutes a serious internal threat."

The real question is, who feels threatened? The Haaretz editorial claimed that Israel "has a secular majority, which would be outraged if anyone tried to change its way of life through religious coercion." But this is untrue and Haaretz's editors know it.

They know it because last November Haaretz published the results of a survey conducted by the Israeli Democracy Institute regarding how Israeli Jews self-identify on the secular-religious spectrum. The results of that survey showed that only twenty percent of Israelis classify themselves as secular. Eighty percent of Israelis view themselves as either religious or traditional.

Rabbi Ronski himself is the most beloved and charismatic IDF chief rabbi since Rabbi Shmuel Goren, who served as chief rabbi during the Six-Day War. Rabbi Ronski, 56, regularly risks his life by accompanying combat units on missions. He doesn't simply show up. The soldiers ask him to join them.

The popularity of leaders like Rabbi Ronski is an unbearable affront to the Israeli Left. The enthusiasm with which young Israelis embrace their Jewish heritage is a direct assault on the Left's demand for cultural supremacy. But what the Left refuses to acknowledge is the simple fact that Israeli society has never accepted their views of what Israel is supposed to be.

Until the mid-1970s, most of today's leftists were Labor Zionists. They believed Israeli society followed them both for their Zionism and for their socialism. But Israeli society never bought into the Left's utopian social theories. Labor Zionists were the cultural avant-garde because they were Zionists.

When, in the late 1970s, the Labor Zionist movement began disavowing Zionism, it became increasingly estranged from the general public. Religious Zionists like Rabbi Ronski are followed while the leftist cultural elites are ignored because religious Zionists today are the most outspoken advocates of values shared by the vast majority of Israelis.

The Left's vision of Israel as an atheistic, multicultural, morally relativist society holds little attraction for most Israelis. So to reassert their cultural superiority, leftists have increasingly taken to bullying and intimidating the rest of the country to toe their line. The seasonal assaults on religious soldiers are simply one aspect of their larger culture war against Israeli society as a whole.

"When, in the late 1970s, the Labor Zionist movement began disavowing Zionism, it became increasingly estranged from the general public..." Substitute "Democrat Party" for Labor-Zionist, and "Christianity/Judaism" for Zionism, and you describe current American politics. I bet we will be seeing more attacks on the US military for having too many Christians...

Posted by John Weidner at 8:39 AM

September 12, 2008

He's never done ANYTHING.....

Jim Geraghty of NRO:

I applaud Barack Obama saying he thinks that universities should not turn away the Reserve Officers' Training Corps because of disagreement over military policy.

Of course, it would have helped if the senior lecturer/professor had ever said or done something about it while he was teaching at the University of Chicago, which kicked ROTC off campus during the Vietnam War.

Right now, University of Chicago students can participate in the Army ROTC by treking to the University of Illinois-Chicago and students who wish to be a part of Air Force ROTC must commute to the Illinois Institute of Chicago...

I think there is something profoundly sick about Mr Obama. What you ARE is basically what you DO. It is meaningless for you or me to to express lofty sentiments if we don't actually DO anything when we have a chance.

Obama is a person of rare gifts who has held positions of real power. A state legislator or US Senator, even if they can't pass important legislation, has a lot of influence. They can call attention to things; give publicity to good causes. Their favorite charity is sure to flourish. They can get the attention of bureaucrats in a way ordinary citizens can't. They can hold hearings and help correct abuses.

What has Obama DONE with the power he has had? That's the question we should be asking.

People sneer at the position of Mayor of Wasilla, but that's utterly stupid. What Palin did as a mayor reveals what she will do as V-P, or President. For that matter, what she did on the PTA showed what she would do as mayor. People don't really change that much. The way you tackle the little job is basically the way you will handle the big one. Bush as an owner of the Texas Rangers baseball franchise was the same guy as Bush the President. If you had know him then, you could have guessed what sort of President he would be.

So, the question is, WHAT from Obama's past tells us what kind of President he would be? Hmmm? Any Dems out there care to comment?

I'd say his past tells us he's a phony. Either he's just a lot of hot air, or he's hiding what he really is.

Posted by John Weidner at 8:11 AM

August 11, 2008

The world changes, people lag behind....

Good news for the future of our army...

....Most of today's Army generals rose through the ranks during the Cold War as armor, infantry, or artillery officers who were trained to fight large-scale, head-to-head battles against enemies of comparable strength—for instance, the Soviet army as its tanks plowed across the East-West German border.
The problem, as many junior officers have been writing over the last few years, is that this sort of training has little relevance for the wars of today and, likely, tomorrow—the "asymmetric wars" and counterinsurgency campaigns that the U.S. military has actually been fighting for the last 20 years in Bosnia, Panama, Haiti, and Somalia, as well as in Iraq and Afghanistan.

In 2006 and again in 2007, the Army's promotion board passed over Col. H.R. McMaster, widely regarded as one of the most creative strategists of this "new" (though actually quite ancient) style of warfare. In Iraq, he was commander of the unit that brought order to Tal Afar, using the classic counterinsurgency methods—"clear, hold, and build"—that Petraeus later adopted as policy. When I was reporting a story last summer about growing tensions between the Army's junior and senior officer corps, more than a dozen lieutenants and captains complained bitterly (with no prompting from me) about McMaster's rejection, seeing it as a sign that the top brass had no interest in rewarding excellent performance. The more creative captains took it as a cue to contemplate leaving the Army.

This was why many Army officers were excited when Petraeus was appointed to chair this year's promotion board. Rarely, if ever, had a combat commander been called back from an ongoing war to assume that role. It almost certainly meant that McMaster would get his due. (Some referred to the panel as "the McMaster promotion board.")

McMaster did get his star—but so did many others of his ilk. That's what makes this list an eyebrow-raiser.....
Posted by John Weidner at 8:08 AM

July 4, 2008

Keep THIS to throw in their faces...

There's a common line of sly leftist insinuation, that paints our troops as "victims." You know, rubes, under-educated dupes "sent off to die for oil," and similar dirty lies. (If only we were stealing oil; It's a killer to fill up my truck these days!)

The next time you hear that stuff from America-hating Obama-loving types, you might fling this story from Bob Krumm back at them....

BAGHDAD – How are you spending your 4th of July holiday? While most Americans probably slept, 1,215 Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, and Marines raised their right hands and committed to a combined 5,500 years of additional service during the largest reenlistment ceremony in the history of the American military. Beneath a large American flag which dwarfed even the enormous chandelier that Saddam Hussein had built for the Al Faw Palace, members of all services, representing all 50 states took the oath administered by Gen. David Petraeus, Commander of Multi-National Forces Iraq.

Petraeus, reiterating earlier remarks made by Command Sergeant Major Hill, said that the unprecedented ceremony sends a “message to friend and foe alike.” He told those assembled that it is “impossible to calculate the value of what you are giving to our country . . . For no bonus, no matter the size, can adequately compensate you for the contribution each of you makes as a custodian of our nation’s defenses.”

Last year Gen. Petraeus, along with Senator John McCain, presided over a similar Independence Day ceremony. Then only 588 servicemen reenlisted. This year’s event, more than twice as large, saw the equivalent of two battalions extend their service in America’s military....

Also, remember, to the "liberal," the "soldiers as victims" meme is just a proxy for the bigger story--that we are all victims! No one should stand tall. Except for government bureaucracies, of course.

* Update: Ethan Hahn sends a link to a picture of the event, from this article, on the official MNF-Iraq web site.

1215 service members re-enlist in Baghdad

1,215 Servicemembers from all over Iraq gather in the Al Faw Palace rotunda on Camp Victory, to re-enlist and celebrate America’s Independence Day, July 4, 2008. Photo by MNF-I Public Affairs.

Posted by John Weidner at 4:51 AM

June 24, 2008

An RJ reader does us proud!

Regulars will have noticed that yesterday our friend Ethan Hahn commented for the first time since about last March. You may possibly have wondered where he was.

Well, I knew, but I couldn't tell. Until now. Here's Robert Ethan Hahn, of the United States Army Reserves...

Robert Hahn

Is that totally cool, or what! He tells me that Random Jottings helped inspire him for this adventure....I think he's being too kind; anyway it's he who inspires me right now.

Here's another picture. (He's preparing to fire a "Rumsfeld," one of our new anti-satellite bazookas...)

Robert Hahn, basic training

Posted by John Weidner at 6:16 PM

May 26, 2008

Remember too the men of 1917...

Last surviving doughboy honored...

KANSAS CITY, Mo. - Frank Woodruff Buckles, the last known living American-born veteran of World War I, was honored Sunday at the Liberty Memorial during Memorial Day weekend celebrations.

"I had a feeling of longevity and that I might be among those who survived, but I didn't know I'd be the No. 1," the 107-year-old veteran said at a ceremony to unveil his portrait...

....Born in Missouri in 1901 and raised in Oklahoma, Buckles visited a string of military recruiters after the United States entered the "war to end all wars" in April 1917.

He was rejected by the Marines and the Navy, but eventually persuaded an Army captain he was 18 and enlisted, convincing him Missouri didn't keep public records of birth.

Buckles sailed for England in 1917 on the Carpathia, which is known for its rescue of Titanic survivors, and spent his tour of duty working mainly as a driver and a warehouse clerk in Germany and France. He rose to the rank of corporal and after Armistice Day he helped return prisoners of war to Germany.

Buckles later traveled the world working for the shipping company White Star Line and was in the Philippines in 1940 when the Japanese invaded. He became a prisoner of war for nearly three years...
Frank Woodruff Buckles, last WWI vet.
Buckles gained notoriety when he attended a Veteran's Day ceremony at the Arlington grave of Gen. John "Black Jack" Pershing, who led U.S. forces in World War I, said his daughter, Susannah Flanagan.

He ended up on the podium and became a featured guest at the event, and the VIP invites and media interview requests came rolling in shortly afterward.

"This has been such a great surprise," Flanagan said. "You wouldn't think there would be this much interest in World War I. But the timing in history has been such and it's been unreal."

Buckles spent much of his museum tour Sunday looking at mementos of Pershing, whom he admired. He posed for pictures in front of a flag that used to be in Pershing's office and retold stories about meeting the famous general.

While Pershing claims most of the fame, Buckles now has a featured place at the museum.

"This is such an extraordinary occasion that we here at the museum decided that the photo of Mr. Buckles should be permanently installed in the main hallway here" said Brian Alexander, the museum's president and chief executive.
Posted by John Weidner at 5:15 PM

May 24, 2008

New terrain...

Good post by Victor Davis Hanson: Any more Grants and Shermans?...

Who becomes a general — and why — tells us a lot about whether our military is on the right or wrong track.

The annual spring list of Army colonels promoted to brigadier generals will be shortly released. Already, rumors suggest this year, unlike in the recent past, a number of maverick officers who have distinguished themselves fighting — and usually defeating — insurgents in Afghanistan and Iraq will be chosen...

Let's hope so! All of America's significant wars have been new terrain for those who fought them—each a new type of war. All of them started with costly mistakes until the new way of warfare was learned. [The leftist claim that the Iraq Campaign is somehow illegitimate because mistakes have been made is stupid and dishonest.] And always many officers, steeped in the thinking of the last war, had to be removed or sidelined to make room for those who could adapt.

Hanson writes about the Civil War, and the many generals Lincoln went through before getting Grant and Sherman. And also how WWII was won by generals that George Marshall promoted from relative obscurity.

WWI was a similar case.

I wrote a small piece here about General Pershing's immense task in finding officers for our huge "instant army," when so many colonels and generals were sunk in mental lethargy from decades of garrison duty broken only by occasional indian wars. (Hunter Liggett, who was mentally ready, was given a Division in January, 1918, and by October was commanding an Army!)

And Pershing himself had been bumped in rank over many senior officers. Teddy Roosevelt thought highly of him, and wanted to make him a colonel. But the Army would not agree. There was, however, another possibility... From Wikipedia:

...In June 1903, Pershing was ordered to return to the United States. He was forty-three years old and still a captain in the U.S. Army. President Theodore Roosevelt petitioned the Army General Staff to promote Pershing to colonel. At the time, Army officer promotions were based primarily on seniority, rather than merit, and although there was widespread acknowledgment that Pershing should serve as a colonel, the Army General Staff declined to change their seniority based promotion tradition just to accommodate Pershing. They would not consider a promotion to lieutenant colonel or even major. This angered Roosevelt, but since the President could only promote army officers in the General ranks, his hands were tied...

...After serving as an observer in the Russo-Japanese War, Pershing returned to the United States in the fall of 1905. In a move that shocked the army establishment, President Roosevelt convinced Congress to authorize the appointment of Pershing as a brigadier general, skipping three ranks and more than 835 officers senior to him....


General Pershing and colonel Marshall, during WWI

Posted by John Weidner at 10:37 AM

April 2, 2008

It's about time...

Jeez, it's about time. The Pentagon may finally getting tough with the lefty scoff-laws of the "academy." How I despise fakes, especially fake pacifists. There they sit, fat 'n useless, enjoying prosperity and freedom secured by military violence, and then they spit on our troops, and pretend they are dwelling on some superior moral plane.. And it's not like they actually believe any of their anti-war bullshit. If al Qaeda moved into Berkeley or Ann Arbor, they'd all of them be howling for the Marines.

Army Times: The Defense Department has announced a new get-tough policy with colleges and universities that interfere with the work of military recruiters and Reserve Officer Training Corps programs.

Under rules that will take effect April 28, defense officials said they want the exact same access to student directories that is provided to all other prospective employers.

Students can opt out of having their information turned over to the military only if they opt out of having their information provided to all other recruiters, but schools cannot have policies that exclude only the military, defense officials said in a March 28 notice of the new policy in the Federal Register.

The Defense Department “will honor only those student ‘opt-outs’ from the disclosure of directory information that are even-handedly applied to all prospective employers seeking information for recruiting purposes,” the notice says....

....The new policy also no longer lets schools ban military recruiters from working on campuses solely because a school determines that no students have expressed interest in joining the military. If other employers are invited, the military has to have the same access.

Federal funding can be cut off if colleges and universities do not give recruiters and ROTC programs campus access. While student financial assistance is not at risk, other federal aid, especially research funding, can disappear if a school does not cooperate.

The Pentagon can declare colleges or universities anti-ROTC if they prohibit or prevent a Senior ROTC program from being established, maintained or efficiently operated.

The new policy is, in part, the result of a 2006 U.S. Supreme Court decision that upheld the federal government’s ability to use funding as a means of forcing equal access for military recruiters and ROTC units on campuses....
Posted by John Weidner at 6:05 PM

March 21, 2008

Just routine air-transport....

This is interesting to me. The V-22 was mired in controversy and problems for so long, that I kind of assumed it would never be operational. And yet here it is, working away, hardly even being mentioned. Cool.

I wonder how well it is actually working out? The concept is awesome, and I've always tended to think that even if cost a mint, and failed to meet expectations, we should be pushing ahead with it in order to learn enough to build better models later. And of course it fits well with "small wars," which is all we have now.

V22 transports Iraqi troops
Iraqi army soldiers from the 27th Iraqi Infantry Brigade, 7th Iraqi Infantry Division, prepare to go on a patrol March 18 in the Hawron Wadi, which is just east of Baghdad, after exiting a MV-22 Osprey. The Iraqi army has been training with Marines and Navy SEALS to conduct helo-borne operations such as patrols and cache sweeps. While on patrol, the soldiers looked for any signs of insurgent activity and talked to locals to see if they had seen anything unusual. GUNNERY SGT. JASON J. BORTZ / MARINE CORPS. From Frontline Photos, 3-19-08

Posted by John Weidner at 10:15 AM

March 6, 2008

Below the �irreducible minimum�

Stuff well worth reading:

Monday, 03 March 2008
By Jim Garamone, American Forces Press Service

BAGHDAD — The top military commander in Iraq gave some insight yesterday into what he will consider as he prepares to report to the president and Congress in April on the way ahead.

Army Gen. David H. Petraeus, commander of Multi-National Force - Iraq, spoke with reporters accompanying Navy Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, who is visiting the country.

The security trend lines all are favorable, the general said. “Attacks have continued to go down. We’ve had a five-month period consistently of a level of attacks we’ve not seen since spring of 2005,” he said. “This past week was the fourth-lowest since October 2004.”

Petraeus and U.S. Ambassador to Iraq Ryan C. Crocker will explain why they believe attacks have come down when they report to President Bush and Congress.

The general said he is encouraged by the statistics and what he sees around the country. “In fact, the level of attacks has come down in recent weeks below a level we thought might be the ‘irreducible minimum,’” he said....

I wonder if Hillary will come out with her stuff about "a willing suspension of disbelief" again. What an evil America-hating creature she is, like all leftists. Fortunately, her side is losing in Iraq.

Give it a read...

Posted by John Weidner at 6:41 AM

February 26, 2008

Making bricks without straw...

This is very interesting. By Major John Tammes, in Iraq...

Last night we had a bit of a surprise. We were paid a visit by Sergeant Major of the (Iraqi) Army Adel. He has possibly the hardest job I can imagine; build the NCO corps of the new Iraqi Army. The old Iraqi Army paid no heed to it's NCOs, it was a very Officer-centric/Soviet model force. So SGMA Adel has to fight not only to get his NCO corp built from almost scratch, he has to overcome an old and entrenched cultural problem. Training, doctrine, logistics and organization are all problems that he is facing. Oh, and all this during a war. I don't envy him his job one little bit.

SGMA Adel is probably the best of the old Iraqi Army's NCOs, and he joined the new Iraqi security forces as soon as possible in 2003. It is clear that he wants to serve his country and her army....

Arab military culture with an admixture of Soviet military culture. What a witches brew! Most people haven't a clue what makes armies work, and so they have no idea what an astonishing and audacious project the United States (and the Iraqi government) has undertaken, nurturing what we hope will be the first functional arab army in modern times. What's that old Seabees saying, "The difficult we do right away, the impossible takes a little longer?"

That useless dork Obama is prating about change (having never actually, like, done anything in his life that changed anything) and meanwhile the Bush administration is actually changing the world in numerous ways, and getting no credit from our fake press and fake liberals.

And the things that Bush is doing are liberal projects. At least as "liberal" was defined when I was young. They are Trumanesque. It continues to astonish me that (my one contribution to human knowledge as a blogger) "liberals" are not liberals anymore---they have become nihilists....

Posted by John Weidner at 7:10 AM

February 23, 2008

iPods in the Battle Zone...

This is pretty neat. iPods carried by our troops to use as phrase-books, and repositories of all the information they need for a mission....

...The creator of the VCommunicator software -- Orlando-based Vcom3D -- originally designed it to teach soldiers basic Iraqi Arabic phrases. However, now troops are finding new tactical applications for the device, said Ernie Bright, product manager at Vcom3D.

Troops also are uploading maps and other images and content onto the video iPods to assist them at vehide checkpoints and door-to-door searches, said Bright.

If soldiers are looking for a particular individual, they can load a photo of their target and correlate it to Arabic script that asks, "Do you recognize this person?"

Troops also can store sound clips and other pertinent information that they need to conduct mission briefs for small units, said Bright.

The most recent version of the Vcommunicator comes on the new iPod nano, which troops are strapping to their wrists or wearing on lanyards around their necks.

The nano units are much faster, much smaller and more user-friendly, said Youmans. "That's one of the benefits of using commercial off-the-shelf -- the technology advances really quickly," he told National Defense in a phone interview.

The nano variants were completed in time for the 4th Brigade's deployment last fall, he said.

The devices also come in languages that are suitable for operations in Afghanistan. In October, during a training exercise at Fort Polk, La., soldiers from the 101st Airborne Division tested iPod nanos programmed with the Dari and Pashto languages. Youmans said he expects the unit will request the devices for future deployments....

That off-the-shelf technology thing is very true. Can you imagine the Army ordering the creation of a Mil Spec equivalent? Spending a billion dollars developing something the size of a brick, and available by 2014? They could call it the Aquila-Pod!

That's one of the good things about an actual shooting war; it concentrates the mind. People solve problems—they just ruthlessly go ahead and solve them, without bureaucratic politeness. Which is another reason why the people who claimed that actually fighting a Global War on Terror would fray and frazzle and just wear out and spoil our shiny perfect military all have brown eyes—because they are full of shit up to their eyebrows.

Posted by John Weidner at 7:47 AM

January 18, 2008

"Hate-speech disguised as a public service"

Ralph Peters is excellently scathing today: The New Lepers: The Times' Trouble With Vets

...The purpose of Sunday's instantly notorious feature "alerting" the American people that our Iraq and Afghanistan vets are all potential murderers when they move in next door was to mark those defenders of freedom as "unclean" - as the new lepers who can't be trusted amid uninfected Americans.

In the more than six years since 9/11, the Times has never run a feature story half as long on any of the hundreds of heroes who've served our country - those who've won medals of honor, distinguished service crosses, Navy crosses, silver stars or bronze stars with a V device (for valor)...

...Pretending to pity tormented veterans (vets don't want our pity - they want our respect), the Times' feature was an artful example of hate-speech disguised as a public service.The image we all were supposed to take away from that story was of hopelessly damaged, victimized, infected human beings who've become outcasts from civilized society. The Times cast our vets as freaks from a slasher flick.The hard left's hatred of our military has deteriorated from a political stance into a pathology: The only good soldier is a dead soldier who can be wielded as a statistic (out of context again). Or a deserter who complains bitterly that he didn't join the Army to fight...

...So let me suggest the best-possible revenge on the veteran-trashing jerks at The New York Times: Instead of fleeing in terror the next time you see a veteran you know, just thank him or her for their service.

And let's save the leper's bells for dishonest journalists.

Smelly hippie lights cig on burning American flag

Posted by John Weidner at 7:38 AM

January 15, 2008

Something solid from the other side...

The biggest disappointment of my six years of blogging is that I've NEVER ONCE had a left-leaning opponent engage in principled debate with me. (Lot's of snark and sneers, but not the kind of debate where you rebut each of your opponent's arguments with facts and logic.)

Since I believe in debate (my faith is shaken, but not yet extinct) I like to take note when, rarely, someone on the Leftish or anti-war side actually makes a real argument backed by facts and ideas. And that goes double for for Barak Obama, who I've never once, until this morning, heard a rational argument in favor of. Just stupid mush about how he's dripping with charisma and "hope." And triple, since the argument was made by Phil Carter, who I consider right on many details and very wrong-headed on the big picture. (Note, I don't read him regularly, and so may be being unfair.)

Carter's points about Obama and vets:

....As a veteran, I support Barack Obama because of his deeds, not his words. Up front, I'll agree that he's been absent from Washington and on the campaign trail for a significant part of the last few months. That's no surprise. However, it'd be wrong to leap from that observation to concldue that Sen. Obama has not fought hard for America's veterans. During his time in Washington, and before in the Illinois state legislature, Obama has led the way on a number of important initiatives for veterans, earning my support and the support of many other veterans I know. Here are just a few of his deeds:
Homeless Veterans: As a United States Senator, Obama has authored legislation to extend and expand critically important programs to stop homelessness among American veterans. He's worked with other Senators on the Veterans Affairs committee, ranging from Daniel Akaka (D-HI) to Larry Craig (R-ID), to pass legislation providing comprehensive services and affordable housing options to veterans through the Department of Veterans Affairs, Department of Housing and Urban Development and community organizations.

Fighting for IL Veterans: After learning of reports that Illinois veterans were receiving less in disability than those from other states, Sen. Obama worked with Sen. Dick Durbin to engage with the VA and correct these gross disparities. As a result of his efforts, the VA opened an investigation into the issue and took steps to fix it including the hiring of more claims specialists for the Chicago VA office and the reexamination of vets' claims upon request.

Traumatic Brain Injury: Crossing the aisle once again to help vets, Sen. Obama also worked with Senator Bill Frist (R-TN) to pass an amendment ensuring that all service members returning from Iraq are properly screened for Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI). And Sen. Obama fought to include a requirement in this year's National Defense Authorization Act that the VA must provide combat veterans with a mental health care screening within 30 days of an appointment request. This provision originated in another Obama bill, the Lane Evans Veterans Health and Benefits Improvement Act, which he introduced in both the 109th and 110th Congress.

And the list goes on — deeds not words. In addition to these accomplishments, Sen. Obama's agenda includes significant proposals totake care of America's sons and daughters whom we send into harm's way. These include, but aren't limited to, proposals to improve post-discharge transition; requiring interoperability between DoD and VA medical records systems; fully funding VA medical care; eliminating the means test which keeps middle class veterans out of the VA medical system; improving mental health care, particularly for Iraq and Afghanistan veterans; continued research and innovation for TBI; fixing the VA benefits bureaucracy and eliminating the VA claims backlog; and continuing the VA medical system's tradition of excellence that's made it one of the nation's leading health care systems. He's also pledged to crack down on discrimination against veterans and to commit significant resources to the enforcement of the SCRA and USERRA statutes to protect active and reserve military personnel and their families.

These are the reasons why I support Sen. Obama, and why I am encouraging my fellow veterans to support him too. Notice that I haven't attacked the Clinton campaign at all; I think quite highly of Sen. Clinton and her work on the Armed Services Committee. However, I support Barack Obama because he inspires me, and because I believe he has the character, judgment and vision to lead this country. Attacking his rivals won't help veterans, nor will it help America. Electing Barack Obama will.
Posted by John Weidner at 8:52 AM

Stating the obvious...

This should be so obvious that it would never need to be mentioned. Anyone even slightly aware of our history (or that of almost any other country) knows that, unless they are suffering horrific losses, military forces improve rapidly under the stress of war. All the talk about how Iraq is destroying our military has just been rubbish.

But, since it seems to be necessary to state the obvious, here's The Lessons of Iraq, by Eric Swabb...

....It is true that repeated deployments have caused considerable strain on service members, equipment and our ability to respond to other contingencies. These problems, however, only tell half the story. The Iraq war is also dramatically improving the military's understanding, training and capabilities in irregular warfare. Since this is the preferred method of Islamic extremists, the experience in Iraq is transforming the military into the force required to help win the Long War....


....My old unit returned from Iraq last spring after serving in a city in Anbar Province. As a mechanized reconnaissance company, its traditional mission focused on scouting for Soviet-style armored forces. The unit's performance in Iraq more closely resembled that of the Green Berets.

Soon after occupying its forward outpost, the company met heavy insurgent attacks. But it did not over-react with mass detentions and other alienating tactics. Instead, the Marines took a patient approach to win the support of the population and eject the extremists hiding among them. They partnered with Iraqi police, established a pervasive security presence throughout the city, and worked with local leaders to improve basic services, governance and the economy. Such tactics used to be rare, but are now increasingly the norm, thanks to Gen. David Petraeus's dogged emphasis on seeing counterinsurgency conducted by all units...

And not all of the Iraq-is-killing-our-military talk has been leftist hate-America BS. Some has come from people who support our forces, but think they should be preserved in pristine condition, in original packaging, to be READY for large-scale armored conflict on the plains of.....well, somewhere. Sometime. You never know. It could happen.

Well, no, it can't happen. There is no threat like that on earth anymore. Actually, there aren't any wars any more. Not wars as the world has always defined them. Today's "wars" are all messy internal wars within failed states. Sorry, that's all we get. And our military has to fight those, or have no purpose at all.

Posted by John Weidner at 7:16 AM

December 3, 2007

Biter bit...

Reading this, I have to smile, thinking about how Leftists and Democrats worked SO HARD to help their Communist allies, and to turn the people of South Vietnam over to slavery and torture and death, and what happens? NOW, when they are working hard to turn the people of Iraq and Afghanistan over to a similar cruel fate, here is a Vietnamese person (not the only one, by the way) who is filled with gratitude towards the Great Satan, and is helping others in their hour of need...

On the nights when no mortar shells fell, Anh Duong listened to the Saigon crickets. More often, though, the girl lay by her open window, her hair damp against her cheeks, and wondered, as the lights from flares flickered on the leaves of a plum tree, if the next Viet Cong rocket would smash into her house.

"Why would you want to randomly blow up civilians?" Duong remembers thinking.

Now, at age 47 and living in Maryland, Duong is still grappling with the question, trying to apply bedtime lessons from Vietnam to the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. Duong is known as "the bomb lady" around the Pentagon and as the engineer behind America's first thermobaric, bunker-busting explosive. A 5-foot-1-inch suburban mother of four, Duong has become, according to Thomas A. Betro, director of the Naval Criminal Investigative Service, "one of the most important weapons-developers of the modern era."

For Duong, who was honored recently as one of the federal government's top civil servants, producing tools for U.S. troops is a way of life. After years of pioneering explosives for the Navy, she now creates systems to help identify terrorists.
"I don't want My Lai in Iraq," Duong said at the Pentagon, where she works on anti-terrorism issues as a science adviser. "The biggest difficulty in the global war on terror -- just like in Vietnam -- is to know who the bad guys are. How do we make sure we don't kill innocents?"

Duong's most recent innovation, the Joint Expeditionary Forensics Facilities (JEFF) project or "lab in a box," analyzes biometrics. It will be delivered to Iraq at the beginning of 2008, the Navy said, to help distinguish insurgents from civilians.
"The best missile is worthless if you don't know who to shoot," Duong said.....
Posted by John Weidner at 11:43 AM

October 19, 2007

"It's called putting one's money where one's mouth is"

I think this is SO funny. You probably remember the utterly phony story about Rush Limbaugh "smearing" our troops (which was debunked within hours when Rush posted the video of that radio show on the web.) Democrat leaders paused in their work of undermining our war efforts to—from their position of high moral authority—write a letter of reproof!

Now the tables are turned...This is from Captain Ed:

Government Produces Something Worthwhile
Would you happen to have a couple of million dollars in loose change around the house? If you do, you could own the letter that Harry Reid sent to Rush Limbaugh, accusing the radio host of smearing American troops. Rush has the letter up for auction at e-Bay, and with less than six hours to go, the bid is now topping $2.1 million. Not only that, Rush has pledged the proceeds to the Marine Corps - Law Enforcement Foundation -- and has pledged to match the final bid himself.

Once again, Reid's machinations backfired. He and the 40 Senate Democrats who signed the letter set themselves up as defenders of the military, including Dick Durbin, who once compared the troops to Nazis and Soviets. Now Rush has challenged the 41 to do as he will and match the figure to a foundation that offers scholarships to the children of Marines and police killed in the line of duty. It's called putting one's money where one's mouth is, and I suspect that Rush will be the only one who actually does it.

On the other hand, Rush has singlehandedly helped Reid produce the most valuable item in his life. In fact, it's the most valuable article entirely produced by government of its own accord in memory,

Wow. I tuned in briefly yesterday, and was impressed that bidding was up to 1.3k! Hey Democrat senators, step up to the plate. You can certainly afford to match the bid too!

And I like this, from the eBay page...

As winning bidder, you get:
- The original and infamous "Harry Reid Smear" letter, signed by 41 Democat senators
- The Halliburton briefcase in which this letter is secured 24 hours a day
- A personal letter of thanks from the Man Who Runs America, Rush Limbaugh
- A photograph of Rush displaying the letter on stage in Philadelphia on October 11th

I want a Halliburton briefcase!

Posted by John Weidner at 6:59 AM

October 12, 2007

This guy was worth a thousand pacifists...

Lt Murphy, awarded Medal of Honor
LA Times: CORONADO — A Navy SEAL killed in Afghanistan will be awarded the Medal of Honor, the first such award for troops serving in Afghanistan and the first for a SEAL since the Vietnam War, the White House announced Thursday.

Lt. Michael P. Murphy, 29, who had SEAL training here and was assigned to a SEAL team in Hawaii, was killed in June 2005 during a mission in the Hindu Kush mountains to find a key Taliban leader.

Ambushed by insurgents, Murphy's four-man SEAL team engaged in a fierce firefight and was in danger of being overrun.

Although he was wounded, Murphy risked his life to save fellow SEALs and then maneuvered into an open position to send out an emergency call and to continue firing at the enemy. While making the call, he was hit again.

Only one of the SEALs on the team survived. Eight other SEALs and eight soldiers aboard a MH-47 Chinook helicopter sent to rescue Murphy's team also were killed when the craft was brought down by a rocket-propelled grenade.

The incident was the worst single-day loss of life for Navy Special Warfare personnel since World War II...

Don't, uh, hold your breath waiting for Democrats and our "news" media to heap honor and respect on Lt Murphy. Or for our "schools" to hold him up as an example and inspiration to young Americans.....

(But congrats to the LAT for covering the story.)

Posted by John Weidner at 11:21 AM

August 11, 2007

"a final storm before breaking the enemy"

Victor Davis Hansen, from An NRO Symposium on Iraq :

...In a wider sense, the war is as most wars: an evolution from blunders to wisdom, the side that makes the fewest and learns from them the most eventually winning. Al Qaeda and the insurgents in 2004-6 developed the means, both tactical and strategic, to thwart the reconstruction, but we, not they, have since learned the more and evolved.

As in the Civil War, WWI, and WWII, the present American military — which has committed far less mistakes than past American forces — has shifted tactics, redefined strategy, and found the right field commanders. We forget that the U.S. Army and Marines, far from being broken, now have the most experienced and wizened officers in the world. Like Summer 1864, Summer 1918, and in the Pacific 1944-5, the key is the support of a weary public for an ever improving military that must nevertheless endure a final storm before breaking the enemy.

The irony is that should President Bush endure the hysteria and furor and prove able to give the gifted Gen. Petraeus the necessary time — and I think he will — his presidency could still turn out to be Trumanesque, once we digest the changes in Europe, the progress on North Korea, the end of both the Taliban and Saddam, and the prevention of another 9/11 attack. How odd that all the insider advice to triangulate — big spending, new programs, uninspired appointments, liberal immigration reform — have nearly wrecked the administration, and what were once considered its liabilities — foreign policy, the war on terror and Iraq — may still save it....

I actually have a much more positive view of the Administration's domestic accomplishments, but I think Bush will indeed be considered "Trumanesqe" by history because he got the big one right on the field of battle. The Korean War was a bloody shambles, with 40,000 dead merely to preserve the status quo ante bellum. It seemed pointless to many. Lots of people at the time thought Truman was a failure. But history says otherwise, because the simple fact is, he saw that we had to fight the Cold War, and he fought it (in both its hot and cold aspects). The mistakes made were beyond counting, but it was ever thus...

Posted by John Weidner at 4:36 PM

August 9, 2007

Same lies over and over...

Michelle Malkin has a great round-up of "the toxic American disease known as Winter Soldier Syndrome."

The tale of Army Private Scott Thomas Beauchamp, the discredited “Baghdad Diarist” for the discredited New Republic magazine, is an old tale:

Self-aggrandizing soldier recounts war atrocities. Media outlets disseminate soldier’s tales uncritically. Military folks smell a rat and poke holes in tales too good (or rather, bad) to be true. Soldier’s ideological sponsors blame the messengers for exposing anti-war fraud.

Beauchamp belongs in the same ward as John F. Kerry, the original infectious agent of the toxic American disease known as Winter Soldier Syndrome. The ward is filling up....

Michelle has various others, with YouTube videos. There have been a lot of them. It's revealing to see them all listed together...

...Think Jimmy Massey, the unhinged Marine who falsely accused his unit of engaging in mass genocide against Iraqis...

...Think Jesse MacBeth and Micah Wright, anti-war Army Rangers who weren’t Army Rangers....

...Think Josh Lansdale, the anti-war Army medic who attacked former GOP Sen. Jim Talent by spinning a bogus health care tale swallowed whole by Dem Sen. Claire McCaskill, Gen. Wesley Clark and the far Left VoteVets.org crew....

..Think Amorita Randall, the NYTimes-championed former naval construction worker who told the Times magazine that she served in Iraq, was in a Humvee that blew up, and was raped twice while serving in the Navy–but, in fact, had never served in Iraq....
Posted by John Weidner at 7:40 AM

July 26, 2007

The 'Baghdad Diarist'?

Dean Barnett writes about how The New Republic's "Scott Thomas" has now revealed himself. Fascinating stuff. For one thing, he publishes a letter about himself in TNR, without a single answer to the specific criticisms that have been made!

That is like all the pro vs anti-war arguments of the last 6 years in a nutshell.

Also, the guy had a blog! Fool.

Also, Hugh notes that apparently TNR has a blog (who knew? Who cared?) and none of the "journalists" who post there are even mentioning the controversy! Ha ha ha.

There's lots more at Michell Malkin.

* Update: When I started blogging, way back in 2001, I imagined that I was participating (in a very minor way) in a great debate. A debate between Left and Right, between pro and anti-war, between conservative and liberal. But it never happened! Debating leftists is like punching Jello. I thought there were two competing philosophies, but the big discovery I made is that there's nothing inside leftists. No core beliefs or ideas. Like Joyce Little put it, they are clothes with no emperor inside.

I predict that this "Scott Thomas" matter will never be cleanly resolved, that it will just fizzle out in vagueness and frustration, exactly like John Kerry's despicable Vietnam accusations. Defenders of our country and our military will continue to make factual and philosophical arguments, but it will be like trying to beat up a blob of Jello.

Posted by John Weidner at 7:36 AM

July 25, 2007

"gutless weasels possuming a ride"

I liked this bit of unalloyed scorn for some people who deserve it. Uncle Jimbo on the New Republic and their ilk...

...While the left makes noises that they think mean they support the troops, they don't really, and they do believe the dregs of society theory of military recruiting. Jon Carry didn't misspeak when he said those non-hackers who do not pack the gear to serve in his beloved cultural elite, will end up stuk in Irak. He was simply stating the common wisdom on the left, our troops are killers, sometimes under orders, sometimes just to satisfy their blood lust.

Well there is also a bit of assumed wisdom on our side as well. That is that most journalists are gutless weasels possuming a ride on the backs of better men and women than themselves. They are parasites whose sole function seems to be advancing a narrative of evil America, cause of all that is ill with this world. There is no problem they are unwilling to lay at the feet of greedy rapacious America, busy killing brown people all over the planet, and now even slaughtering Gaia herself. Damn us!

Well I for one am sick of it. I've had a bird's eye view of how our military operates and for an instrument of war it does one hell of a lot of good. Obviously it is a killing machine, but it is the most finely calibrated one ever deployed, and one that takes enormous steps to ensure that civilians are not harmed by it's actions. That alone distinguishes us from the rest of the world's armies. Look at the excremental record of UN "Peacekeepers" in comparison. The one thing the UN guarantees is a huge increase in child rape. Our forces on the other hand will likely be found giving vaccinations, digging wells or building schools. So Bite me Franklin Foer, not only are you a crap editor by even the low standards of journalism, but you are an ill-informed punk who allowed yourself and your rag to be used to smear a group of people who collectively and individually dwarf your moral and ethical stature. And as for Scott Thomas, I won't bother to do more than call you a liar and a remind you that eventually you will brag about this to someone and you will be unmasked. Just keep that in mind as you look over your shoulder for the rest of your miserable life. I sense some old school wall to wall counseling in your future troop.

Me, I'm predicting that "Scott Thomas" will never be unmasked, because he's a fiction, like a lot of "anonymous sources." Lefty journalists just make stuff up, and then they write, "Many are saying..." or "sources in the administration indicate...." Frauds.

We are at war. SOMEBODY is acting badly, and should be punished. Either we have some bad soldiers, or some traitor journalists. Mr Foer should be hauled in front of a Congressional committee and forced to up-chuck under penalty of perjury. It will never happen, alas.

Posted by John Weidner at 6:52 AM

June 27, 2007

"We played the enemy’s game for too long..."

Not everyone realizes that "the Surge" is not primarily a matter of increased troop levels, but is mainly a change in tactics. This discussion by Dave Kilcullen in the Small Wars Journal blog (Thanks to InstaPundit) is very good.

....The "terrain" we are clearing is human terrain, not physical terrain. It is about marginalizing al Qa’ida, Shi’a extremist militias, and the other terrorist groups from the population they prey on. This is why claims that “80% of AQ leadership have fled” don’t overly disturb us: the aim is not to kill every last AQ leader, but rather to drive them off the population and keep them off, so that we can work with the community to prevent their return.

This is not some sort of kind-hearted, soft approach, as some fire-breathing polemicists have claimed (funnily enough, those who urge us to “just kill more bad guys” usually do so from a safe distance). It is not about being “nice” to the population and hoping they will somehow see us as the “good guys” and stop supporting insurgents. On the contrary, it is based on a hard-headed recognition of certain basic facts, to wit:

(a) The enemy needs the people to act in certain ways (sympathy, acquiescence, silence, reaction to provocation) in order to survive and further his strategy. Unless the population acts in these ways, both insurgents and terrorists will wither, and the cycle of provocation and backlash that drives the sectarian conflict in Iraq will fail.

(b) The enemy is fluid, but the population is fixed. (The enemy is fluid because he has no permanent installations he needs to defend, and can always run away to fight another day. But the population is fixed, because people are tied to their homes, businesses, farms, tribal areas, relatives etc). Therefore—and this is the major change in our strategy this year—protecting and controlling the population is do-able, but destroying the enemy is not. We can drive him off from the population, then introduce local security forces, population control, and economic and political development, and thereby "hard-wire" the enemy out of the environment, preventing his return. But chasing enemy cells around the countryside is not only a waste of time, it is precisely the sort of action he wants to provoke us into. That’s why AQ cells leaving an area are not the main game—they are a distraction. We played the enemy’s game for too long: not any more. Now it is time for him to play our game....

Things are getting very interesting. And this is actually a fascinating confirmation of the wisdom of the men who wrote our Constitution. The Democrat/News-Media/al Qaeda Alliance has to provide the illusion of defeat and hopelessness not just right now, but over several election cycles. In a parliamentary system we might already be sunk. But our Constitution delays and attenuates the effects of popular hysteria. The founders wanted a republic, but were rightly distrustful of democracy. So the House changes on a two-year cycle, the presidency every four years, the Senate every six...

Posted by John Weidner at 6:43 AM

April 27, 2007

If a future missile attack on the US is thwarted...

...thank a Republican.

The U.S. military destroyed a cruise missile and a short-range ballistic missile during a test Thursday over the Pacific, the first time two test targets were intercepted simultaneously, the Missile Defense Agency said.

The military fired the short-range missile from the Pacific Missile Range Facility on Kauai. A Navy plane fired the cruise missile target used in the test. Sailors aboard the USS Lake Erie fired back.

"The test demonstrated the USS Lake Erie's ability to engage a ballistic missile threat and defend itself from attack at the same time," the agency said in a statement...
[Link. Thanks to Penraker.]

It's pretty strange when you stop to think about it, but a constant theme for most of my adult life has been Democrats desperately trying to prevent us developing any defense against incoming missiles of any sort. Really, their visceral hatred of the idea is WIERD! It seems to go way beyond their usual antipathy to national defense.

Dems are less likely than Republicans to vote to spend money on a carrier, or a new tank. But they do vote for such things, they do accept the necessity of them. But they always seem to oppose missile defense.

One wonders if their anti-Americanism runs deeper than we realize, and perhaps they think we should suffer lightning bolts from above?

Posted by John Weidner at 5:28 PM

December 27, 2006

This sure stimulates my ire...

Here's a piece in the Washington Post by David Ignatius, about how our troops are spending Christmas. I thank him for giving America's heroes a little attention, but really, the mere idea of thanking a journalist for paying attention to our soldiers in wartime is INSANE. Have you ever looked at old magazines or newspapers from during WWII? Old copies of LIFE? They were stuffed with stories and pictures of our men and women in uniform. Or read a collection of Ernie Pyle's work? That's what Americans do.

And this particular bit from Ignatius' article is just SICK...


....This holiday season, America is struggling through a searing national debate about Iraq. The horror of the war feels immediate, even to people who've never been near Baghdad, but less so the humanity of the thousands of American soldiers who are serving there. That's part of the Iraq disconnect: The war dominates our political life, but the men and women in the midst of it often are nearly invisible. We see them in thumbnail photos in group obituaries but not as real, living people.

If you read soldiers' blogs, and I've looked at several dozen over the past few days, you see a recurring anger that the media aren't telling their story. So I'll let a few of the military bloggers speak for themselves....
[Thanks to Penraker]

Let's take that quote again, with a bit of venting....

....This holiday season, America is struggling through a searing national debate about Iraq. [Cliché—debate is no more intense now than six months ago. And mainly that's how the press wants to FRAME the story. THEY want to undermine America, and they project this onto the country and claim there's a "searing debate."] The horror of the war feels immediate, [Because that's all that gets reported] even to people who've never been near Baghdad, but less so the humanity of the thousands of American soldiers who are serving there. [And you are going to tell us WHY this is? Or is this something that "just happens," like the weather?] That's part of the Iraq disconnect: The war dominates our political life, but the men and women in the midst of it often are nearly invisible. [They are invisible because you foul TRAITORS in the "news" media have deliberately made it them invisible.] We see them in thumbnail photos in group obituaries but not as real, living people. [Oooooh. Speak for yourself, toad. If I ran the circus, you'd see them as real people, all right. Because the whole slimy lot of you fake-journalists would be rounded up at gunpoint and EMBEDDED. And if you did a good job cleaning latrines, you might, after six months or a year be allowed to go out with the troops and do some reporting. You don't know what reporting is, but our average soldier or Marine is more intelligent and clear-thinking than you, and I'm sure they could teach you.]

If you read soldiers' blogs, and I've looked at several dozen over the past few days, you see a recurring anger that the media aren't telling their story. [You noticed this only 3 or 4 years after I did. I'm SO impressed, chomsky.] So I'll let a few of the military bloggers speak for themselves. [They've been speaking for themselves, and bloggers have been listening, for YEARS now. You are late to the party, you condescending jackass. You should get down on your knees and thank these people. They go out daily with guns looking for fights with crazed killers�monsters who would love to kill YOU. Before you start throwing your elite-media crumbs to the peasants, you might think a bit about a guy named Danny Pearl.]

Posted by John Weidner at 7:02 PM

December 24, 2006

Merry Christmas to all who serve on Freedom's Wall...

Thank you, from the Weidners...

(These pictures are from Army Times Frontline Photos, Christmas 2004)

Capt. Clace Perzel rides a military motorcycle side-car dressed as Santa Claus, Ghazni province, Afghanistan
Capt. Clace Perzel, left, rides a military motorcycle side-car dressed as Santa Claus after distributing Christmas gifts at his base in Ghazni province, west of Kabul, Afghanistan, on Saturday. Christmas 2004. Musadeq Sadeq / AP Photo

Chief Warrant Officer Mike Marcotte greets his daughter as he returns from Iraq
Chief Warrant Officer Mike Marcotte, of South Kingstown, R.I., greets his daughter Abigale, 3, and his wife Marybeth, in North Kingstown, R.I., as he returns from Iraq with the 1st Battalion, 126th Aviation Regiment, on Saturday. Christmas 2004. Joe Giblin / AP Photo

Game of dominos, Bagdhad, Christmas 2004
Army Sgt. 1st Class Clifford Gailliard, left, of Charlestown, S.C., leans over Staff Sgt. Donnie James, of Fayetteville, N.C., during a game of dominoes with Pfc. Vorasane Phothisane, of New Iberia, La., in Baghdad, on Sunday. Christmas 2004. Jacob Silberberg / AP Photo

Posted by John Weidner at 11:33 AM

December 20, 2006

A great American says goodbye...

Washington Post, Dec. 15 — Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld bade farewell to the Pentagon on Friday with a combative valedictory speech in which he warned against hoping for “graceful exits” from Iraq and said it would be wrong to regard the lack of new attacks on American soil as a sign that the nation is safe from terrorism.

“Today, it should be clear that not only is weakness provocative,” Mr. Rumsfeld said, standing at a lectern with President Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney at his side, “but the perception of weakness on our part can be provocative as well.”

It was a clear parting shot at those considering a withdrawal from war that would define his legacy and perhaps that of the president.

“A conclusion by our enemies that the United States lacks the will or the resolve to carry out missions that demand sacrifice and demand patience is every bit as dangerous as an imbalance of conventional military power,” Mr. Rumsfeld said in a buoyant but sometimes emotional speech....

Obvious stuff, but in this decadent age it must be said again and again. Weakness, or the perception of it, is provocative--of bloody wars and terrorism. The war criminals of our time are the appeasers and fake-pacifists. And the world-weary moderns whose civilizational-self-loathing and nihilism prevents us from defending our civilization promptly when trouble arises, thus causing small problems to exponentiate, and rivers of blood to be shed.

Donald Rumsfeld is one of the great men of our age, and we are very lucky to have had him—both as the youngest-ever Secretary of Defense, and the Oldest ever. Both times with a very young and lively mind.

And he's right to warn against "graceful exits," which is squeamish-talk for cut-and-run. We are the good guys in the War on Terror, we are the cops of this planet. We are fighting evil, we are fighting crime, and the only moral position is to pursue victory relentlessly. To do less is to betray billions of people for whom we are a beacon of hope, and who will be the main victims of the terrorist animals...

We are in the position of Christian knights of old, whose duty was to protect the weak from barbarians.

SecDef Donald Rumsfeld serves Christmas Dinner to troops, 12-2004

Posted by John Weidner at 9:18 PM

November 22, 2006

living in the wreckage...

Jeff Jacoby has a fine column on the SF School Board's decision to end our JROTC program...

...So what is the problem with JROTC? There isn't one. The problem is with the anti military bigotry of the school board majority and the "peace" activists who lobbied against the program on the grounds that San Francisco 's schools should not be sullied by an association with the US armed forces.

"We don't want the military ruining our civilian institutions," said Sandra Schwartz of the American Friends Service Committee, a far-left pacifist organization that routinely condemns American foreign policy and opposes JROTC nationwide . "In a healthy democracy . . . you contain the military." Board member Dan Kelly, who voted with the majority, called JROTC "basically a branding program or a recruiting program for the military." In fact, it is nothing of the kind: The great majority of cadets do not end up serving in the military.

But then, facts tend not to matter to smug ideologues like Schwartz and Kelly, who are free to parade their contempt for the military because they live in a nation that affords such freedom even to idiots and ingrates. It never seems to occur to them that the liberties and security they take for granted would vanish in a heartbeat if it weren't for the young men and women who do choose to wear the uniform, willingly risking life and limb in service to their country...

I just wrote a couple of snarling paragraphs, and then deleted them. You've already heard that stuff—fake pacifists are a peeve of mine. What occurs to me, beyond the stupid local issue, is that we are seeing is wreckage, similar, though less extreme, to the wreckage left by the former communist regimes. We in America and the West are living amidst the results of embracing socialism. Less here than other places—there is a gradation of destruction we can see in the world today, with the worst damage in Russia, and grievous damage in the rest of Europe, and less in the US. Wreckage? What do I mean? Well, I'll betcha dollars to donuts that that "Sandra Schwartz" is a member of my generation, and helped send a few million South Vietnamese off to death or the "re-education" gulag. And that she doesn't feel the least bit sorry.

And the wreckage seems to be something we are stuck with. One of the salient facts of our time, is that there isn't the bounce-back, the recovery that one expected, that we assumed to be normal. We don't learn from our mistakes, not nearly enough. For instance, I grew up thinking that Germany and Italy had recovered from their years of nationalistic socialism. That they were rejuvenated, made young again, and that their past was becoming like a bad dream. Turns out, not so. Have you read anything in recent decades about how Germany is youthful, innovative, exciting? A fun place? Happy? Nuh uh. It's always stories about how the mood is sour, about maternity hospitals that are eerily empty, about economic stagnation, demographic implosion and extreme over-regulation. About the decline of Christianity and burgeoning populations of unassimilated Muslims.

One of the strange, and, I think, portentous facts about our world, is that there was never a rejection of Communism the way there was of Naziism. It's something to think about. Stalin and Mao killed and imprisoned lots more people than Hitler did. Yet people still wear hammer and sickle T-shirts—I saw one just this week. The horrors of the Gulag are well known, yet no statesmen or religious leaders make pilgrimages to Soviet camps like they do to Auschwitz. Why? And remember how leftists drooled over the fact that Cardinal Ratzinger had (briefly and against his will) been a member of the Hitler Youth? Remember how that was a big deal? So, would it have also been a big deal if he'd been a member of Komsomol? Or any sort of supporter of Stalin? No. People would have called that "youthful idealism!" Just as they do now for those Americans who helped Ho Chi Minh wage aggressive war and mass-murder.

And the same people are now helping Islamo-fascist terrorists and thugs in every way they can. And calling it "peace activism." And getting away with it! For instance, the recent fighting in Lebanon and Gaza was started, deliberately and cold-bloodedly, by Hamas and Hezbollah. (And started after Israel had withdrawn form those places.) Yet no "peace-activists" condemned them for this, no "Quakers" held candle-light vigils, there were no giant puppets to protest this war. Insane. Yet, somehow, our society did not reject these people as the obvious frauds they had shown themselves to be! (Well, there's some rejection. The gray hairs and dated hippie style typical of "anti-war" protesters is a good sign. But if our society was healthy Jane Fonda or John Kerry would not dare to even show their faces in public. Their hands are dripping with human blood.)

That's what I mean by saying that we are living in the wreckage. The moral wreckage of socialism, which is itself a small part of what de Lubac called "atheistic humanism." And I think we don't learn much from our mistakes because we are still inside the big mistake, and when forced to, we just shed a layer of skin, like a reptile, and cast it aside and pretend that it's old history. That's what happened when the world "learned" from its mistake called Naziism or Fascism—the learning was mostly a matter of socialists turning upon one flavor of socialism, and pretending that it was the ultimate evil, and that they were some sort of counter-force to it. While the real evil remained, and the long march to nowhere continued.

Same with "learning" from the mistake of Communism. Most leftists, if pressed, will shed the Stalinist skin, and pretend that they are rejecting the real evil. Or shed the whole Soviet skin (or even, rarely, the Mao skin) but still give us ludicrous bullshit about how happy people are in Cuba! (And, by the way, they are now starting to claim that Saddam was a father-figure, who provided stability and made the trains run on time!)

Oh, and back to San Francisco. I've seen the kids in their JROTC uniforms. They always look sharp and clean-cut and confident. I bet our hippie-leftists would hate the program just for that reason alone. The very body-language of it is a rejection of nihilism.

Posted by John Weidner at 9:18 AM

November 20, 2006

This makes me feel much better...

Fred Barnes, in the Weekly Standard

RARELY HAS THE PRESS gotten a story so wrong. Robert Gates, President Bush's choice to replace Defense Secretary Don Rumsfeld, is not the point man for a boarding party of former national security officials from the elder President Bush's administration taking over defense and foreign policy in his son's administration. The media buzz about the realists of Bush 41, so cautious and practical, supplanting the idealists of Bush 43, whose grandiose, neoconservative thinking got us stuck in Iraq, is wrong.

President Bush--the current one--decided to hire Gates two days before the November 7 election. He didn't consult his father. He didn't talk to James Baker, his father's secretary of state and now co-head of the Iraq Study Group, whose official advice on Iraq is expected in December. Nor did he tell Rumsfeld that he was lining up someone to take his job.

Before hiring him, Bush had to make sure Gates didn't think America's intervention in Iraq was a mistake and wasn't deeply skeptical of Bush's decision to make democracy promotion a fundamental theme of American foreign policy. With Gates, it came down to this: "The fundamental question was, was he Brent Scowcroft or not?" a Bush aide says....

...Gates had at least one supporter inside Bush's circle, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice. She, too, had worked for Scowcroft in the senior Bush's administration. She told the president that whenever she had sought to wean Scowcroft from a narrow realist position--such as his dismissal of Russian democratic leader Boris Yeltsin as a rube and his unyielding support for Mikhail Gorbachev--she turned to Gates for help....

Too cool. The press got it wrong (if Barnes is right) and the dextrosphere too. I can't count the number of opinions I've read about how it's all over but for the helicopters landing on the embassy roof. And how the author knew all along that Bush wasn't a conservative, and would sell us all out and cut deals with new pal Nancy.

And the part about Secretary of State Rice is interesting too. How little those on the outside know of what's really going on! How eager I am to read the memoirs that will be coming out over the next decade or two...

Posted by John Weidner at 5:50 PM

November 16, 2006

The real Christians...

I haven't written about the SF School Board's decision to end the Junior ROTC Program in our high schools. It's just another example of our local left-wing bigotry, too depressing to want to think about. But this caught my eye, from the Chron:

...The board's decision was loudly applauded by opponents of the program.

Their position was summed up by a former teacher, Nancy Mancias, who said, "We need to teach a curriculum of peace.''...

No, it's NOT a "curriculum of peace." It's a curriculum of leftist anti-Americanism. A curriculum of appeasement.

When leftists use the word "peace," you can be 99% sure that a lie is coming. They don't care about peace at all, except as a useful club to bash America and her allies. Kim Jong Il can kill millions in death camps and by starvation without disturbing their oily equanimity. But if America even suggested it was going to liberate those poor wretches from Stalinism we would suddenly hear about how terrible war is, and how it never solves anything!

Related point: Another lie that infuriates me, is that any such military action would be referred to as "bombing." As in "Why are we bombing Iraq?" American forces routinely put our men at risk precisely to avoid the sort of thing that is meant when leftists say "bombing." Think of our guys fighting house to house in Falluja. We could have exterminated all life in that town without a single American casualty, if we had bombed it flat. We didn't even consider it. Same is true of the Israelis in Jenin. (And the bombing we do do is now astonishingly precise, and our bombs and shells grow ever smaller and less destructive. Some don't even contain explosives. Leftists never give us credit for that. They are living a lie.)

And our troops accept this, accept it as their duty. I've read many accounts of Americans at war in Iraq and Afghanistan, and never have I heard of our own people suggesting that we should use mass bombing to save American lives. And, a considerable percentage of our soldiers are Christians, and accept these sacrifices as a Christian duty. They accept the possibility that they themselves may be killed or wounded to save the lives of strangers. I would call them the true Christians of our time. And the term for those who stand on the sidelines and sneer, and preen themselves on their ritual purity (from the defilements of violence, non-organic food, war, American-made cars, eating meat, and actually getting their hands dirty fighting evil)?...the term for them is Pharisees.

Posted by John Weidner at 9:16 AM

November 11, 2006

One more thing for Veteran's Day...

Thanks to Jay Tea, for bringing this to our attention...

IT IS THE SOLDIER

It is the Soldier, not the minister
Who has given us freedom of religion.

It is the Soldier, not the reporter
Who has given us freedom of the press.

It is the Soldier, not the poet
Who has given us freedom of speech.

It is the Soldier, not the campus organizer
Who has given us freedom to protest.

It is the Soldier, not the lawyer
Who has given us the right to a fair trial.

It is the Soldier, not the politician
Who has given us the right to vote.

It is the Soldier who salutes the flag,
Who serves beneath the flag,
And whose coffin is draped by the flag,
Who allows the protester to burn the flag.

Poem by Charles Michael Province, U.S. Army
Copyright Charles M. Province, 1970, 2005
All rights reserved.

Posted by John Weidner at 10:50 PM

Thank you...

...to all who have served on Freedom's Wall!

I saved this picture from a few years ago...I hope this guy came home OK....

David Castro holds his youngest daughter, Electra, 1, before leaving for Iraq
Eagle-Gazette / AP photo
David Castro holds his youngest daughter, Electra, 1, before leaving for Iraq with the 216th Engineer Battalion on Sunday. Castro has five children.

Posted by John Weidner at 11:54 AM

May 21, 2006

It was indeed a true tale...

Last February I blogged the letter from the Mayor of Tal Afar, Iraq, thanking the people of the 3d Armored Cavalry Regiment for saving his city from terrorists.

But I wondered at the time whether I could trust its authenticity. Perhaps it was just an Internet fake? I've been burned before. I concluded, rightly, that it was too widespread, and so, if it were a fake, someone would have called it, and that news would also be spreading across the blogosphere (though not so fast as a good lie does.)

Here's a better confirmation. The mayor is visiting Fort Carson, to thank 3d ACR in person!

...."Thank you."

It was a telling gesture from Tal Afar Mayor Najim Al Jibouri, who spoke for about 20 minutes in his native tongue praising the 3rd Armored Cavalry for saving his city from certain ruin.

It was his first trip to the United States, arriving via Washington, D.C., then coming to Colorado Springs with his wife and son.

The mayor was invited as a part of a welcoming ceremony at Fort Carson for those who had just finished another tour in Iraq.

Al Jibouri, dressed in a black suit with a lavender tie, said he was glad to be back among them.

"Are you truly my friends?" he asked through a translator. "Yes. I walk a happier man because you are my friends. You are the world to me. I smell the sweet perfume that emanates from your flower of your strength, honor and greatness in every corner of Tal Afar. The nightmares of terror fled when the lion of your bravery entered our city."...
(From Rocky Mountain News. Thanks to Orrin Judd)

Rocky Mountain News, OK. I bet the story doesn't spread to the big papers. Now if the mayor criticized the USA, that would be "news." If not, not.

Posted by John Weidner at 8:51 AM

April 21, 2006

The more I learn, the more of a Rumsfeldian I become..

Penraker has an interesting historical summary of the campaign to "get Rumsfeld." It started long before Iraq, and well before 9/11...

Here's one item I didn't know:

...About Five days after the war began, there was a flurry of media reports claiming that we did not have enough troops, that because of that, we had gotten bogged down, and now were in danger of losing. Only Five days in!

The media howled for a while, and got slammed for doing so. Then, they revealed their sources: "retired generals" were feeding them this stuff. "We have all these retired generals coming to us and telling us that the whole operation is in jeopardy. What are we supposed to do, not report it?"

The retired generals strike again. It even seems this time that they did not care what effect this had on the men in the field, they were out to use every blip in the news cycle to complain about things. Very, very disturbing....

I remember slamming the media for those utterly disgusting accusations that we were "bogged down," and "in danger" five days into the campaign! Now I discover it was the "retired generals" sabotaging our forces. For them to do it is ten times worse than for the media. They know better.

Posted by John Weidner at 1:11 PM

April 16, 2006

Change is going to happen...

Sanger M put some criticisms into comments on my recent post on Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld, and they've inspired me to just a bit more blogging...

"...this is NOT what soldiers are for. Soldiers are for fighting, or at least being able to fight, and so are therefore a deterrant..."

Sanger, nobody is going to play the game with us anymore. No army is going to attack us. If one did it would be destroyed in days. Our ability to deter is so great that it has simply changed the rules the world operates by.

On the other hand, we keep getting dragged into fights. And they are ALL in what TPM Barnett calls "The Gap;" the disfunctional and impoverished Third World globe-girdling slum belt. We can't ignore the Gap anymore, the world is too small, our economies are too inter-twined, and the destructive power of terrorists is too great. Therefore the only Grand Strategy available to us is to engage with the problem spots and try to bring those countries into the functioning world.

...a lot of soldiers are just plain aggravated at the civil affairs side of the job. An army is for fighting, not peacekeeping, which is nothing more than a glorified guard's job...

Tough That's the job we have now, and our military is of necessity going to be doing it, partly because the State Dept. and USAID and our european allies aren't willing to do their part, but mostly because the lines between "civil affairs" and war have almost disappeared. The guy helping with the sewers is almost as likely to get into a fight as the one patrolling on the "front line." Mostly there is no "front line" anymore. And a lot of the new tasks, far from being "glorified guarding," are leadership tasks requiring the highest levels of human skill and political wisdom.

We had a foretaste of this new world in the second half of 20th Century, when the huge armies of NATO and the Warsaw pact never fought, though millions of men spent their whole working lives preparing to do so. But all the while messy little countries no one had heard of before kept turning into battlefields or tension-spots, usually ones where much of our fire-power was useless.

The situation is much worse now (from your traditional soldier viewpoint). We are fighting terror groups so amorphous and protean that we sometimes are not sure they exist at all. They blur confusingly into criminal gangs and tribes and religious groups.

That's just the way the world is now. Soldiers who can't adjust to it should get out. They are working for "the people," and their job is whatever the people of America ask of them. Our military is going to change, because it has to. And, like any bureaucracy, it is resisting change stubbornly. In many cases such resistance is successful, but in the case of the US military the new needs are so compelling and deadly that change is going to happen, though it means steamrollering those who resist.

I'm not in the military and can't judge the specific reforms Rumsfeld is pushing, though they sound logical. But it is obvious that big changes are needed, and that a strong hand is going to have to force them.

And sneering at Rumsfeld as a "civilian" is just stupid. It is extremely rare to find anyone with such a breadth of leadership skills as he has. Congressman, ambassador, White House Chief of Staff, both the youngest and the oldest SecDef ever, and a businessman who has taken large floundering corporations and turned them around to high profitability. No general can match him in skills, and probably few in sheer smarts.

And we need all those skills. War is just not a "separate realm" anymore. It's intermingled with everything else.

Also, here is a Lt Colonel with a different view:

...I would beg to differ with that assessment by Mr. Ignatius. I am a combat arms officer, a combat veteran of the Global War on Terror, currently serving on the faculty of one of the Staff Colleges.

My assessment from extensive and continuous contact with young field grade officers, most of which are combat arms branch, combat veterans, is that Secretary Rumsfeld is considered the finest Secretary of Defense of the last forty years. This is in addition to my "peer group", of which many of us maintain contact with each each other regardless if we are in CONUS or SW Asia.

Maybe Mr. Ignatius has limited his conversations to Officers assigned in the Beltway. Yes, "beltway types" unfortunatly also exist in the military.

However, I can tell you that beyond the Beltway in dusty and dirty places like Ft. Benning, Ft. Stewart, Ft. Hood, Ft. Campbell and Ft. Bragg, where officers wear BDUs instead of Class Bs that there are tens of thousands of Officers, Commissioned/Warrant/Non-Commissioned, that would go to hell and back for this Secretary.

He pushes us to what we "think" is our limit, then shows us we have another ten percent to give. Secretary Rumsfelds nickname among many is the "110% Secretary." Former Secretary Cohen, a good man whom I respected, would have been considered the "90% Secretary" as he never was able to get us to give "all."
Posted by John Weidner at 6:44 PM

April 14, 2006

A new age....

Dafydd writes interestingly about the retired generals who have been recently castigating Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld...

...Even before the Iraq War, Secretary Rumsfeld embarked upon a revolutionary reformation, not only of how we fight wars but also the entire organization of our military forces. He is pushing towards smaller units, more unit independence (moving command decisions down the ranks), much greater reliance on Special Forces, and a reorganization of units to be self-sufficient rather than specialized.

It's hardly surprising that some men who have invested so much of their lives in one particular way of running a war would be
angry, rebellious, and confused by a completely different way of running a war... or that some of them would lash out at the symbol of that change. They are no different from vice presidents at General Motors or IBM who furiously denounce splitting those companies into self-reliant business units instead of the normal corporate divisions they've had for twenty years...

It's not just the generals, of course, it's all sorts of stasists. And all those people who adored the lardaceous Powell Doctrine because it made it almost impossible use our military for anything. The sort of people who quote General Shinseki as some sort of prophet who foresaw that we would (in their opinion, not mine) need more troops for the occupation of Iraq, conveniently ignoring the fact that Shinseki (and the culture of 90's generals he belonged to) always thought we needed more troops, whatever the mission, and believed that the forces that captured Iraq in a mere 3 weeks were also "insufficient."

Dafydd's comparison to General Motors is apt, because it is exactly the change from the Industrial Age to the Information Age that is the underlying problem in both cases. It is interesting to compare the ways that terrorists are now operating, with modern business conditions where old style companies can suddenly be confronted by competition from "virtual corporations" who aggregate the services of many independent contractors, possibly without any "bricks and mortar" presence at all... And Rumsfeld is that rare and charming sort of person whose ideas and worldview didn't "lock in" after his first big crisis-of-life was overcome. How I admire him.

Rumsfeld is especially appealing to me, embedded as I am among people who are desperate to to believe that nothing has changed since 1973. People especially of my generation, and here's this guy from my father's generation happily upsetting old fogies and outraging stuffed shirts...
Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld serves Christmas dinner in Mosul
Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld
serves plastic turkeys to soldiers in Mosul, Iraq,
December 24, 2005

(thanks to Gateway Pundit)

Posted by John Weidner at 8:26 AM

March 28, 2006

Medical amazements...

Fascinating article on the new medial skills of our military doctors and nurses. I was struck by the way the Air Force has turned C-17's into flying hospitals...

...On a recent C-17 medical evacuation flight from Balad to Landstuhl, 32 patients rested comfortably, many of them in litters stacked three high on aluminum racks. Among them: burn patients; an amputee; soldiers with broken bones, a shoulder sprain and back injuries; one with a blood disorder; two psychiatric cases; and a servicemember stricken with lung cancer. Two in critical condition were hooked to ventilators.

Like flight attendants, the nurses, medical technicians and doctors circulated throughout the plane, offering water, oxygen and medication to relieve the pain. They also kept a close eye on monitors.

"The civilians are always amazed at how we do this," said Air Force Reserve Maj. Ken Winslow, 49, a flight nurse from Issaquah, Wash.

About 65 hours after he was shot — and after a stop in Germany — Mundo arrived at Andrews Air Force Base near Washington. From there, he headed to Walter Reed....

Other things:

....Made with an extract from shrimp cells, the HemCon bandage creates a tight bond that stopped the bleeding almost instantly. Seconds later, Mundo, 24 — a widower from Colorado Springs and the father of two young girls — was airlifted to the Air Force Theater Hospital in Balad, 10 miles away. He got there in five minutes....

....A portable heart-lung machine developed in Germany and not yet approved for use by U.S. doctors is helping wounded soldiers breathe.It is small — not much larger than a laptop computer — and connects to blood vessels in the groin to filter out poisonous carbon dioxide while filtering in oxygen. Military doctors in Balad also are using an expensive clotting drug, licensed for use on hemophiliacs, to help stem massive hemorrhaging in troops torn apart by roadside bombs....
Posted by John Weidner at 6:55 AM

March 23, 2006

I just think this is cool...

It wasn't that long ago that the US military was totally unable to produce UAV's. Billions were spent on super-high-tech jet-propelled monsters that never went into operation. While little Israel modified hobby planes and used them with great effectiveness...

Guess somebody finally got a clue.

Soldier launches a Raven UAV in Iraq

Spc. Charles Farram, 26 of Fort Myers, Fla., assigned to D Company, 1st Battalion, 67th Armor, launches a “Raven” unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) to provide route reconnaissance of the town of Mussayib, Iraq, on Sunday. James J. Lee / Army Times [link to photo]

Posted by John Weidner at 9:01 PM

March 6, 2006

Thank you, supremes...

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A unanimous U.S. Supreme Court ruled on Monday that universities that get federal funds must allow military recruiters on campus, even if their law schools oppose the Pentagon's policy prohibiting openly [sic] gays and lesbians from serving.

The high court upheld as constitutional a federal law dating back to 1994 that allows the government to withhold money from universities that deny military recruiters the same access to campuses given to other employers.

It's about time. The arguments against obeying the law were always ridiculous. No one's right to Free Speech is harmed by having military on campus. And various people may dislike the US policy on gays in the military, but that's no excuse to break the law. And worse than that, to treat us to their phony moral posturing, and still pocket Uncle Sam's cash!

And of course the "gay" argument was always gross hypocrisy. A lie. The opposition to military recruiters was the exactly the same before the policy, and before anyone was even talking about the subject. And those same colleges are happy to accept generous donations from Saudis, or welcome a former Taliban spokesman as a student. Moslem gay-killers are OK. It's just Americans they hate.

And maybe the most repulsive thing about these guys is that they are freeloaders. They know darn well that America's military is going to protect them no matter what they do. They get to enjoy the peace and freedom bought with the blood of heroes, and then turn around and piss on them, and all the while pretend to be morally superior beings . God how I hate those worms.

It's too much to hope for, but I wish the Feds would cut off all funds to those socialist sinkholes, until they start acting like Americans.

Posted by John Weidner at 7:56 PM

January 31, 2006

They're still at it in Bangor...

I chanced upon this picture, and had to post it, because I blogged about these guys (and gals), the Maine Troop Greeters, back in August of 2004.

Maine Troop Greeters at Bangor Airport

Marine veteran Jerry Mundy, a member of the Maine Troop Greeters, helps Army Spc. Talos Arend with a free cell phone call as his unit passes through the Bangor International Airport, Maine, on Monday. The group, which includes veterans from World War II, Korea and Vietnam, has offered greetings, cookies and free cell-phone use to military personnel on flights to and from the Middle East region since May 2003.
Joe Raedle / Getty Images. Found at Army Times Frontline Photos 1-31-06. [link to photo]

Here's a bit from that story I blogged, 3 A.m. With the VFW, by SGT Michael Thomas:

...As I walked off the plane, I was taken aback: in the small, dimly-lit airport, a group of elderly veterans lined up to shake our hands. Some were standing, some confined to wheelchairs, all wore their uniform hats. Their now-feeble right hands arms stiffened in salutes, their left hands holding coffee, snacks and cell phones for us.

As I made my way through the line, each man thanking me for my service, I choked back tears. Here we were, returning from one year in Iraq where we had portable DVD players, three square meals and phones, being honored by men who had crawled through mud for years with little more than the occasional letter from home.

These soldiers – many of whom who had lost limbs and comrades – shook our hands proudly, as if our service could somehow rival their own.

We soon learned that this VFW group had not only waited for more than a day in the airport for our arrival, but that they were doing so for all the returning soldiers.

When the time came to fly home to Colorado, we were asked by our commander if we would like to join the VFW. Every hand in the unit went up eagerly – including my own.

Looking back on my year in Iraq, I can honestly say that my perception of the experience was changed; not so much by the soldiers with whom I served – though I consider them my saving grace – but by the soldiers who welcomed us home. For it is those men who reminded me what serving my country is really about...
Posted by John Weidner at 5:33 PM

December 29, 2005

Protest at White House--not news

This protest is apparently not getting any notice, except this Dec. 22 piece in FoxNews...

WHITE HOUSE — It's almost Christmas, and U.S. Navy chaplain Gordon James Klingenschmitt is on a hunger strike that includes nightly prayers outside the White House.

Lieutenant Klingenschmitt, an Evangelical Episcopal priest, says he won't eat until President Bush signs an executive order allowing military chaplains to pray according to their beliefs.

Klingenschmitt, who began his fast on Tuesday, says Navy admirals have told him that he can't pray publicly in Jesus' name unless he's wearing civilian clothes. He's continuing to pray as the Bible says Jesus instructed, but not in uniform.

More than 70 members of Congress and 170,000 petitioners also are calling on President Bush to let chaplains pray according to their faith instead of being limited to generic invocations.

This is the sort of stupid shit you get when you let liberals run things. Destroying Christianity is much more important than having an effective military. And I will be willing to bet money that it wasn't believing Jews or Moslems or Buddhists who found the mention of Jesus "offensive." It was leftists. "Tolerant" libs. Multiculturalists. Probably the same crowd who expressed fake shock and outrage when a prisoner at Gitmo claimed his Koran was pissed on...

I also mentioned the insane limitations now put on our military chaplains in this post. I keep being reminded of a Kurt Vonnegut book, where there was a country where Christianity is the official religion, but Protestantism and Catholicism are outlawed...

Posted by John Weidner at 6:13 AM

December 25, 2005

Thank you...

Merry Christmas and a big thanks to all those who stand on Freedom's Wall, keeping us safe at home and guarding the world's peace...
Capt. Elizabeth Kmiecik, nurse. Pakistan earthquake Sgt Richard Wightman III, 80th Division, with children in Taji, Iraq

Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld serves Christmas dinner in Mosul
[Pictures: Sgt Richard Wightman III, from the 80th Division, with children in Tamil, Iraq.
Capt. Elizabeth Kmiecik, a nurse from the 212th Mobile Army Surgical Hospital, with earthquake victim in Pakistan.
Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld serves fake Christmas dinner to soldiers in Mosul, Iraq, December 24 (thanks to Gateway Pundit)

MY soul, there is a country
  Far beyond the stars,
Where stands a wing�d sentry
  All skilful in the wars:

There, above noise and danger,
  Sweet Peace sits crown'd with smiles,
And One born in a manger
  Commands the beauteous files.....
    ---Henry Vaughn
Posted by John Weidner at 3:00 PM

December 20, 2005

Thank you...

Mike McConnell of Kokonut Pundits has a very good post thanking Rob McGovern, a JAG officer who served in Afghanistan, then spent two tireless years on the prosecution of Sgt Hasan Akbar, obtaining a richly appropriate death penalty, and after that went to Iraq to work with Iraqi prosecutors.

(Thanks to Betsy N). This is from a news article on McGovern...

...And like so many American stories, it begins on 9/11.

“I walk up the subway stairs,” he says of that day. “And I see hundreds of people in the street. But I don’t see the towers yet. I just see all of these people, looking over my head. I remember the looks on their faces. I’ll never forget that. And then I look up, and I see the hole in the north tower. I could not believe my eyes.”

On Sept. 11, McGovern was a prosecutor in the Manhattan district attorney’s office. He prosecuted drug crimes. He liked his work. McGovern has always wanted to put away bad guys. Maybe that urge came from football. In any case, when he saw the hole in the north tower, he knew that his life would change. He spent the next five days helping with the rescue mission at Ground Zero. Mostly, he dug through rubble.

“I just wanted to help somebody,” he says. “That was the overpowering feeling we all had. It was like: ‘God, just please let me help somebody. Please let me find someone.’ ”

He did not find anyone alive. He did, though, dig out a body. A medical person shouted out: “Are you OK? Can you do it?” McGovern braced himself and nodded. He could barely hold himself together. But he put the body in a plastic bag.

“We all felt so helpless,” he says. “So immensely helpless. There was nothing we could do to change the events. I thought, in some small way, maybe finding that body would help the family, bring some closure for them. Maybe it wasn’t much. Maybe it doesn’t amount to much. I don’t know.”

McGovern was in the Army Reserve then. He signed up for active duty....

One of the men murdered by Akbar was a cousin McConnell never knew he had.

Posted by John Weidner at 8:40 AM

December 15, 2005

Warrior creed...

I just read a very interesting book, The Faith of the American Soldier, by Stephen Mansfield. Most of us are aware that active Christian faith is common in our military. Mansfield probes the subject, and also the history of faith in the US military. Very interesting stuff.

One odd thing is that, for many of our troops, their faith is improvised, self-taught, and exists in small groups, rather than being part of any denomination or organization. Partly this mirrors developments at home, where new stand-alone churches are drawing people away from older denominations. And also the old main-line denominations, their Christian faith having been mostly replaced by mushy leftism, have no interest (of a positive sort) in our military and no longer contribute many chaplains. (Which is probably good, because many of those frauds are on the other side, and would be as eager to betray the Iraqis and Afghans into tyranny and torture and murder as they were to betray the South Vietnamese into tyranny and torture and murder.)

Partly it is because, as I was shocked to learn, the chaplain corps is severely limited in what they are allowed to do or say. They are not allowed to accompany troops into combat (!) which makes them seem irrelevant to those who come under fire. And, in fact, they are not supposed to do much of anything except personal counseling and conducting ceremonies. Most crucially, they are not allowed to provide a warrior creed for our troops. They can't say that we are fighting a just (or unjust) war! Christianity and American tradition both support just wars, but the secularists have pretty much stopped any official support for these great traditions.

A warrior's creed is what is needed, and it is fascinating to see how our soldiers are cobbling together their own.

Remember how General Boykin was castigated and reproved for saying that the War on Terror was a Christian and moral war, that America is a Christian nation with a Christian President? What you didn't hear is that his words resonated with the troops...

...As one Lieutenant Colonel serving at USCENTCOM at MacDill Air Force Base in Florida said, "I won't say it publicly, and you can't use my name, but I will tell you that I agree with everything Boykin said. Most of us would give anything if the chaplains or our commanders would speak to us in the same terms Boykin did. What he gave us was the spiritual map we needed."

Posted by John Weidner at 9:17 AM

December 14, 2005

Big changes take time...

This is very interesting to me, especially because I've read Thomas PM Barnett's The Pentagon's New Map, and I've been following his adventures via his weblog.

Washington Times: The Pentagon yesterday announced a landmark change in the use of combat troops, elevating "stability missions" -- commonly called nation-building -- to an equal status with major combat operations.
The evolution in war-planning priorities underscores how the September 11, 2001, attacks on the United States by the al Qaeda terror network continue to fundamentally reshape how U.S. military commanders deploy the armed forces.
Not only are U.S. forces becoming more mobile to better counter Islamic terrorists, but the chain of command now will be trained in how to "build" nations by creating indigenous security forces, democratic institutions and free markets...

That's pure Barnett, though he goes farther and advocates two separate forces, which I'm not sure I agree with. (And I keenly hope that his terminology doesn't become standard. He refers to traditional war-winning troops as "Leviathan," and the nation builders as the "SysAdmin forces." I think he has a tin ear.) Oh, and who actually gave the order?

....That is all supposed to change under Directive 3000, which first was ordered to be developed 18 months ago by Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld. Its major objectives include making sure there is a plan to restore security quickly after major combat operations end, and then have funds ready to begin rebuilding.
Military officers say that until that time, such stability operations were almost an afterthought to war planners, who focused on the primary mission of defeating the enemy and taking territory....

SO, do you suppose the "critics" who assign Donald Rumsfeld all responsibility for policies that overemphasized war-winning over dealing with the aftermath of war, will now give him the slightest morsel of credit for ordering new policies to be written? 18 months ago? Criticisms like this:

...I doubt that Donald Rumsfeld will be all that interested in Syrian nation building. In Iraq he was less interested in the messianic urge to implant democracy than he was in the 9/11-given opportunity to prove his theories about a new, lightning-fast, American military. To achieve that end he single-mindedly focused on the race to Baghdad, refusing to even consider that getting to Baghdad might not mean mission accomplished, but only the beginning of a guerilla war...

No, I didn't think so either...

Posted by John Weidner at 11:23 AM

November 10, 2005

Veteran's Day

It's good to stop on Veteran's Day and remember that everything we have, we have because of war, because brave men fought in savage conflicts to protect and enlarge our patrimony. Often, when I'm feeling that my life is just too too difficult, I think about an Iraqi man I read about, who spent 17 years in a little crawl-space between two walls in his family's home, to avoid arrest by Saddam's secret police. War freed him, and war keeps us from suffering a similar fate, or far worse...

Remember, as you enjoy your holiday (or, like Charlene and I, you enjoy the huge privilege of being self-employed, and working hard today because the work is there) that you are not worrying about visits by secret police because a lot of good guys killed a lot of bad guys over the course of many centuries...

American troops pray before action in Iraq.Jpg
David Furst / Agence France-Presse / Getty Images
Soldiers from Bravo Company, 1st Battalion, 87th Infantry Regiment, 1st Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division gather together to pray moments before setting off on a patrol of western Baghdad on Thursday.
Army Times 11/8/05




Funeral for Americans
American soldiers at a funeral near Saint-Mihiel, 1917


Civil War troops at Catholic mass
[link]

You all know how it's often a problem, when children are raised in prosperity, that they sometimes have no appreciation of how hard their parents worked, and how hard life can be.

And our nation has a similar problem. Our ancestors performed miracles of endurance and suffering and courage, so we could enjoy wealth and comfort such as the world has never seen. But this very success has created a sub-culture of Eloi, weak and foolish creatures who burble, "War never solved anything," when it has in fact solved a host of their problems. They are sitting in unthinking comfort and security on the heaped bones of America's enemies.

And while smugly enjoying the spoils of war, some of the Eloi have embraced the twisted idea that war is evil and therefore other people should suffer. They will lick the grease of the Christmas goose off their fingers while doing their moral duty in helping to keep Koreans starving (burp!), and Iraqis shredded, and Sudanese enslaved, and the Afghans under the heel of the Taliban....

The quote I keep on my sidebar fits this day pretty well...

"I disputed the premise, "Blessed are the peacemakers."
On the contrary, it was always those who fought evil
whom history remembered as the greatest in their generations."
      --
Rabbi Shmuley Boteach

Posted by John Weidner at 7:57 PM

August 7, 2005

Bullshit artists....

From the WaPo (thanks to Six Meat Buffet)

In response to a lawsuit, the Pentagon has released a few dozen new and uncensored images of flag-draped coffins of U.S. troops and agreed to process "as expeditiously as possible" future Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests for photo and video images of returning war casualties.

The decision was called a victory for open government by the National Security Archive, a nongovernmental research group here that helped the litigation. "We forced the Pentagon to admit that release of these images was not a mistake but was in fact required by law," said Thomas Blanton, director of the archive, which posted the images on its Web site yesterday. As a result, he said the parties to the suit agreed July 28 to dismiss the case.

University of Delaware professor Ralph Begleiter sued in October 2004, and in April the Pentagon released 721 images of coffins taken by military photographers in Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere. The latest release includes five new images as well as 27 others that had been censored with black rectangles, obscuring the faces of chaplains and service members in honor ceremonies...

Here is a simple fact. There are LOTS of Military funerals reported in the press. Tons of them. Flag-draped coffins galore. How do I know? Because I see them frequently in the Army Times Frontline Photos. I just went there and got this picture in less than a minute, from the 8-3-05 page.

Funeral for fallen Marine

Leandra Opskar, the widow of Marine Sgt. Brian Opskar, from Moorhead, Minn., hugs a Marine during her husband’s burial service on Tuesday at the Cormorant Lutheran Cemetery near Lake Park, Minn. Sgt. Opskar was killed by a roadside bomb in Iraq on July 23.
Dave Wallis, The Forum /Copyright 2004 The Associated Press.

See what it says there? Associated Press. That means any newspaper could use this photo. (Or that "nongovernmental research group" too, if they paid for it). It's not secret. The whole issue is TOTAL BULLSHIT. Any military funeral can be attended by the press if the family agrees. Most of them do. The story usually appears in the local paper, but the national press pays no attention.

Of course not. Sophisticates from the NYT or the WaPo, or "Delaware professors" aren't going to trudge out to the heartlands, where there are mosquitos and churches and flags and Boy Scouts. How tacky. No, they stay in air-conditioned comfort in the big cities and whine about how the government doesn't release enough photos. And they are not about to do anything that honors or respects our heroes. Their job is helping elect Democrats, not reporting news about the little people they despise.

Posted by John Weidner at 9:42 PM

If you do everything right then you obviously lack focus...

A navy chief fires a broadside...

...That's right, America has the wrong Army. I don't know how it happened, but it did....And if you want to get down to brass tacks, we've got the wrong Air Force, the wrong Marine Corps, and the wrong Coast Guard....

...Don't believe me? Pick up a newspaper or turn on your television. In the past week, I've watched or read at least a dozen commentaries on the strength, size, and deployment of our military forces. All of our uniform services get called on the carpet for different reasons, but our critics unanimously agree that we're doing pretty much everything wrong.

I think it's sort of a game. The critics won't tell you what the game is called, so I've taken the liberty of naming it myself. I call it the 'No Right Answer' game. It's easy to play, and it must be a lot of fun because politicos and journalists can't stop playing it.

I'll teach you the rules. Here's Rule #1: No matter how the U.S. military is organized, it's the wrong force....

....If we centralize our military infrastructure, the experts tell us that we are vulnerable to attack. We're inviting another Pearl Harbor. If we decentralize our infrastructure, we're sloppy and overbuilt, and the BRAC experts break out the calculators and start dismantling what they call our 'excess physical capacity.' If we leave our infrastructure unchanged, we are accused of becoming stagnant in a dynamic world environment.

Even the lessons of history are not sacrosanct. When we learn from the mistakes we made in past wars, we are accused of failing to adapt to emerging realities. When we shift our eyes toward the future, the critics quickly tell us that we've forgotten our history and we are therefore doomed to repeat it. If we somehow manage to assimilate both past lessons and emerging threats, we're informed that we lack focus....

(From navyseals.com. Thanks to neowarmonger)

Posted by John Weidner at 5:23 PM