Saturday, December 30, 2006

A Small War of Peace

It looks like the US backed Somali government and the Ethiopian military are making a final push against the Union of Islamic Courts. I just hope that the US sends in some military advisers, USAID, various aid agencies and some much needed cash to the Somalia government in order to prevent Somalia from falling into chaos or into the hands of Al Qaeda's allies much like it did in from the mid 90's to today. Folks might scoff at us getting mixed up with the "crazies" in Somalia yet again after what happened in 1993 but in the long run some it sure beats having a haven for Al Qaeda terrorists. I you remember Cold War history, then you know that the fight against Islamic terrorism will be mostly fought in Third World countries in the far reaches of the World. Now call me silly but I truly believe the adage of "fighting them there rather than here" is spot on with regards to our fight against Islamic terrorism. See here, here, and here for more on the current fighting in Somalia.

*For more on how the US can fight these small wars on Islamic terrorism, check out Robert Kaplan's book Imperial Grunts: The American Military on the Ground.

I found an interesting post over at the Claremont Institute's blog The Remedy that gives some great praise to the Ethiopian military routing the Union of Islamic Courts out of their strongholds in Somalia. Take a look:

Since about June of this year, the West has been wringing its hands over what to do about the bin Ladenist take-over of Somalia. Ethiopia knew what to do and had its own six-day war. Here's how the Washington Post puts it today:

Islamic fighters who for six months had enforced a rigid moral code in Mogadishu disappeared, some simply shaving their long beards and vanishing into neighborhoods, witnesses said. "We have been defeated. I have removed my uniform. Most of my comrades have also changed into civilian clothes," one former Islamic fighter told the Reuters news agency. "Most of our leaders have fled."

One more 'graph from the Post: It was clear Thursday night that the complex political dynamics in Mogadishu, and Somalia in general, had been completely reordered by the swift, potent military action by Ethiopia. Its tanks, jets and attack helicopters routed loosely organized Islamic militia units that were armed with little more than rifles and pickup trucks with mounted machine guns.

Of those Islamist leaders now fleeing, Ethiopian leaders say, according to the New York Times report: "the government plans to hunt them down."

Michael Ledeen said on Bill Bennett's radio show this a.m. that this proves yet again, when you fight hard against Islamists, they will crumble--you've just got to allow the fight. Our side is often prepared (we know our military is, obviously the Ethiopians were), Ledeen says, they just trust in Allah and don't think they need to prepare. A version of Semper Fi versus Semper Allah.

There are a lot of lessons to be learned here. But in the meantime, bring in the Prime Minister of Ethiopia (Meles Zenawi), give him a medal of freedom. Then send the Ethiopians to Iraq and Afghanistan. Send 'em to Thailand and Iran. And then anywhere else Osama bin Laden calls his fighters to take over.

Now while the Ethiopian army and the Somali government are a long way in completely wiping the Islamists in Somalia but it looks a heck of all lot better than what the UN or other nations in the region have offered up in dealing with Somalia. So I applaud the Ethiopians for a good weeks work and hope Somalia's government does something positive with this helping hand. Expect some movement on behalf of the US.

Holding Back the Barbarians

Here's a great piece by Toronto Sun columnist Salim Mansur which aptly describes the enemy we face in our current global War on Islamic Terror and how this is truly a fight for Western Civilization. I think he hits the nail dead on the head when wrote the following passage:

The current enemy is the outcrop of a broken civilization of the past, spewing forth from its rotting bowels an endless horde of militants and fellow-travellers, carrying with them the most atavistic ideas about faith and politics that modern civilization, which Bush represents, hesitates to name for what it is.

We have to go back to the declining years of the Roman Empire to find a parallel with our times. Rome had spread civilization far and wide around the Mediterranean basin, but over time it became besieged by barbarians from outside its frontiers and then from within.

Civilization is more supple, hence fragile, than the iron and steel from which it is built. It might be likened to a garden, delicately laid out and carefully maintained.

When ignored or unattended, weeds destroy what human artifice builds with much labour.

Over time, people take their civilization for granted, become careless and unwilling to bear the burden of protecting it. Then its defences are breached, as Rome was, and the city is overrun by those who envy or loathe civilization, bringing ruin in their wake.

Radical Islamism and Islamist terrorism have already made a wasteland of the greater Middle East. Where once a great Islamic civilization prevailed, now, in its place, there so often thrives a culture of bigotry and tribal violence, with their effects spreading outwards across land and sea.

Rome did not know how to defeat the barbarians before they overran her. Those who endlessly fault Bush for the shape of the world visible since 9/11, will one day cry a river if he and his successors fail to save civilization from its present-day enemies.

Michael Novak, a Catholic theologian and philosopher, named Bush "the bravest president" for staying firm in confronting the contemporary barbarians, despite the venom of his peers.

In the dark winter nights, some of us will have prayers for Bush, knowing the difference between what he represents and those who would prey upon civilization.

I think if a lot more of our politicians, pundits, and academics would present or war on Islamic terrorism as straight forward as Mansur has written rather than political speak that we hear on TV and read in the newspaper, then we wouldn't have so many people scratching their heads over what we're up against.

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Economic Populism on the Campaign Trail

As of late, I've noted that a lot of the folks vying for the Democrat's nomination for President(The same for the GOP's Duncan Hunter) seem to be falling into a populist mindset by pushing things like national healthcare, attacking free trade, large corporations(Wal-Mart), oil companies. What's even worse is the fact that the incoming Congress is talking pretty big on taking on and punishing various Fortune 500 CEOs who make whopping salaries. Now while I couldn't imagine what to do with $10 million or more a year salary, I have to say that it is really wrong for Congress to poke its nose in the tent of public enterprise just because these CEOs had a banner year by doing what they do good in which is making money. When politicians like Edwards and others start talking this populist talk and are able to make these policies law thus punishing folks for being good at their job or corporations making great profits(Remember the "little man" benefits from corporate profits in the form of their 401(k)s, bonuses, opportunity to make overtime and job security) we are in effect setting us up for political suicide. Thankfully, James K. Glassman, senior fellow at AEI and editor-in-chief of The American, has penned a good piece over at USA Today that pretty much sums up why the pay of the CEOs is something to bar or restrict but is on par with what they do and achieve for their employer. Populism might be appealing to the "little man" but in the long run it's disastrous to the American enterprise system and the economy as a whole.

RIP President Gerald Ford

While I was no great fan of the "pastel colors" of moderation and the continued policy of detente with the Soviet Union, I still have to give it up to President Ford's service to this country during such a trying time. Though Ford was not a movement conservative like Ronald Reagan, I can applaud the 38th President for his steadfast determination to cut run-away spending via the veto pen and his devotion to continue funding the South Vietnamese government and providing air support to the military even when the doves in Congress were hell-bent on pulling the plug. Aside from that, I would have to say that the congenial personality of Gerald R. Ford's made him a far greater man and father than what he could have ever achieve as the President of the United States.

*Here's a piece by Gleaves Whitney from National Review Online that is a bit more complimentary to the former Michigan Center/Linebacker.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

A Winning Strategy

While the MSM and the talking heads in D.C. are fawning all over the ISG report and whether or not Hillary supports sending more troops to Iraq, there are individuals within the military and various think tanks formulating sound policies that will provide us a lasting victory in the "land of two rivers." One individual who has hacked through the beltway buzz is Jack Kelly, a foreign policy columnist for the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, who notes in his most recent column about the most promising solution to Iraq is a policy laid out by General Jack Keane and Frederick Kagan which calls for the US to send a larger contingent of soldiers into Iraq in an effort to take control of the security situation(while being supplemented with economic and political tools) thus creating an environment more conducive towards order. In fact, out of all the plans being tossed around the salons and amongst the people in power in D.C., the Kean/Kagan proposal seems to be one that will create a more viable solution to achieving victory in Iraq than what the blue-ribbon ISG has submitted. Here's hoping the White House leans more in the direction of Keane and Kagan rather than the ISG. After reading several pieces about how the President is seriously thinking about sending more troops to Iraq, I think Keane and Kagan's policy recommendations seem to be gaining some wind in its sails.

Friday, December 15, 2006

The Straight Skinny on the ISG

Here's a good by Daniel Pipes in the Jerusalem Post that aptly sums up why the Iraqi Survey Group's recommendations isn't a solution that will make Iraq better or take the burden off President Bush. I think Pipes put it best when he noted the following:
OF COURSE, small minds assert that problems in Iraq are "inextricably linked" to the Arab-Israeli conflict - thereby repeating the precise mistake that lead co-chairman James A. Baker, III, made in 1991. He then led the effort to abandon the Persian Gulf and turn to the Palestinians, leaving Saddam Hussein in power for another dozen years and contributing directly to the present mess. In the new report, Baker and his colleagues call for a Palestinian state (#12) and even demand that a final settlement address the Palestinian "right of return" (#17) - code for dismantling the Jewish state. They peremptorily declare that "the Israelis should return the Golan Heights," in return for a US security guarantee (#16).

Besides the astonishing conceit of these Olympian declarations, one wonders how exactly the Iraqi civil war would be ended by pleasing Palestinians. Or why the unresolved Arab-Israeli conflict is any more relevant to Iraq than the unresolved Azerbaijani-Armenian conflict, which is closer to Iraq.

To make matters worse, Baker had the nerve to admonish the Bush administration not to treat the report's 79 recommendations "like a fruit salad," choosing one idea while rejecting another, but to accept it as a whole. Even in Washington, a town famous for arrogance, this statement made heads turn. That Baker and his co-chairman sat for a picture spread with famed photographer Annie Liebovitz for Men's Vogue, a fashion magazine, only confirms the vacuity of their effort, as does their hiring the giant public relations firm, Edelman.

In all, the Iraq Study Group Report offers a unique combination of bureaucratic caution, false bi-partisanship, trite analysis, and conventional bromides.
From what I've seen in the President's remarks since the release of the ISG's recommendations and the fact that other study groups are being conducted in the Pentagon, State and the National Security Council, I'm betting wiser heads will prevail and that the more than silly recommendations(Israeli/Palestinian negotiations, talking to Iran and Syria, putting Iran's nuke questing solely in the hands of the UN Security Council) will fall to the wayside for a solution that is more Iraqi centered rather than a "go nice with the neighbors" solution offered by the ISG.

*Check out Jay Ambrose's thoughts on the ISG in his most recent commentary in the Washington Examiner.

Currency Manipulation Not The Solution

For a good while now, I've been hearing and reading reams of reports from pundits, politicians and journalist about how the Chinese undervalue their currency thus keeping our currency weak and thus running up our trade deficit. To add insult to injury these individuals keep on jumping up and down about how the Chinese have got to "re-evaluate" their currency to make our dollar stronger and possibly reduce our trade deficit(People tend to forget that Americans have so much disposable income that they're able to buy so many goods from China and elsewhere.). N0w while these individuals might be lauded as "dollar patriots" by domestic manufactures, labor unions they are just pushing for the imposition of trade barriers of tariffs that might look good in the short-term but in reality will create greater problems for our economy in the long-run. Someone who seems to understand the cost of pushing through currency tariffs is Thomas Bray of the Detroit News. In his most recent column, Bray points out that while we can find folks to blame for the US economic woes (Japan, China or others) we cannot fall into the trap of economic protectionism to reduce our deficits or improve the value of the dollar but should focus more on growing the economy through the free market and other means that shy away from the "dollar populism" of Pat Buchanan, Chuck Schumer, Lindsey Graham, John Edwards and Lou Dobbs. I think Bray summed this up best when he noted the following:
It's déjà vu all over again. But as the Caldwell example shows, it's never enough. The Japanese yen has more than doubled in value against the dollar, yet Detroit's competitive problems remain severe, perhaps fatal. Bankruptcy has scythed through the automotive industry even as Toyota, Honda and others, to hedge against protectionism, have established strong beachheads inside the American market, mostly in right-to-work states.

And when governments start tinkering with currencies, or are even suspected of doing so, the market is quick to react. Think of the stock market crash of 1987, which followed a public spat between the U.S. Treasury and the German Bundesbank over currency issues. (At that point, the yen was about 150 to the dollar.) Only strong intervention by the new Fed chairman, Alan Greenspan, may have saved us from a new Depression. How good were the 1930s for manufacturing?

The current Fed chairman, Ben Bernanke, has been getting strong reviews of late. But he may yet be tested in the marketplace, particular if his decision to travel to China at the same time as Treasury Secretary Paulson is perceived as an attempt to strong-arm Beijing into a major currency realignment. The dollar has been declining for weeks, perhaps in expectation of a devaluation of some sort, Paulson's claim that he favors a strong dollar notwithstanding.

With Democrats in charge of Congress, the forces favoring dollar protectionism may be gaining ground. Michigan Democratic Congressman John Dingell, who will chair the powerful House Energy and Commerce Committee, says he plans to make currency issues a top priority. Translation: there might still be little appetite for old-fashioned trade barriers, such as tariffs, but the premise that the nation's trade deficit - now running at a rate of $229 billion with China alone -- poses a threat to American prosperity will provide plenty of cover for the more subtle poison of dollar protectionism.
I just wished the folks in Congress and within the Treasury Department would pay more attention to the economic wisdom of Bray and stop trying to play a unwise game of economic populism that will hurt us all.

Monday, December 11, 2006

A New Engineering Wonder

Here's an interesting piece in the Christian Science Monitor on how American Superconductor Corp. has developed a new semi-conducter that can generate some 150 times what our current wires can transmit. Its seems to be a welcomed innovation and will be wonders for utility companies, military vehicles(ships, tanks, weapon systems) and future homebuilders.

Reform Radio Farda for Freedom's Sake

Fire of Liberty

With Iran being a big blip on the World's radar with its support of terrorism, manufacturing of ballistic missiles, advancement of its nuclear weapons program and seemingly gaining of a media foothold in the media, I believe that this is the right time to initiate the beginning of the end of the regime via internal change. Aside from providing economic, political and moral support for dissidents, students, worker unions and everyday citizens who are fed up and want an end of, the US can also use the power of the air waves by revamping Radio Farda back to a more news and information station that provides debates and ideas of democracy, culture, religion and other social issues that are forbidden in Iran. One only has to look back at how the dissidents and prisoners within he USSR and in the Soviet sphere gained their freedom due to the fact that they had Radio Free Europe/Radio which motivated and provided them with a forum that allowed them to cast aside the seventy-four year old Soviet monster. Thankfully, S. Enders Wimbush, former director of Radio Liberty(1987-1992) and current senior fellow at the Hudson Institute, has penned a wonderful piece in the Weekly Standard that provides a point by point plan that the US can follow to dissolve the pop radio format of Radio Farda and turn it into a shining voice of freedom much like we did during the Cold War. If a radio station's signal can take down a mighty empire like the Soviets just think what a boost to Radio Farda could do for the folks in Iran. Here's hoping someone at State and the White House have read this fine piece.

Saturday, December 09, 2006

More Outside-the-Box Thinkers Needed On Iraq

Fire of Liberty

I was browsing through the New York Sun and came across this Op/Ed by Nibras Kazimi that lays out some interesting ideas in how the Iraqis can effectively tamper down the insurgency. Here's a sample:
Here are a couple more ideas where improvements can be made:

(1) Punish the insurgents more severely. Presently, there are few punitive measures taken against insurgents and their families. The authorities could impose financial penalties to offset the damage that insurgents inflict on other Iraqis. Once an insurgent is killed or arrested and then charged, authorities could, for example, freeze his assets and sell them at auction. The proceeds could go to a terror victims' fund or to the state treasury to compensate for the losses sustained by public property and services. Furthermore, family members, including women, should be treated as accomplices if they fail to report blatant criminal activity such as the use of homes as bomb-making factories or as detention cells holding abductees. Such arrests of women could be undertaken by the Iraqi police to avoid the stigma that "foreigners are touching up our women." Iraqi law already stipulates that accomplices should be held responsible. The financial and familial price for choosing to be an insurgent must get steeper. The existing consequences are too mild even by Western standards.

(2) Install GPS devices on police and government vehicles. Death squads almost invariably use police cars or government vehicles in carrying out false arrests and abductions. There is a unit selling in America for $600 that pinpoints stolen cars. Why can't we put this device inside every single police and government car? The next time Sunni residents report that policemen have abducted their young men, data can be pulled up to show what police cars were operating in that neighborhood and at that time. If these devices are tampered with or disabled, then this would also become apparent when the data goes off the network. Cars may also have fake police markings, but these can be distinguished from real police cars at checkpoints: If a police car doesn't have a GPS device, then it's a fraud.

There are tens of good ideas out there for winning this war that have not been implemented and have not been debated beyond wonky military journals. It's not the number of American or Iraqi boots on the ground that matters in winning this war but rather the number of microchips used to map out and combat the insurgency. Running patrols and shooting straight is only part of what is necessary in such a modern war. Americans and Iraqis must adapt their strategies to fit the battle before they can win the battle. This hasn't been done in earnest yet, and we need to ask "why?" rather than scream "flee, flee, the sky is falling" in panic.
Now while I doubt that the Iraqi government will fully implement these suggestions but they sure as heck beat the "group think" compromises that some members of Congress, select academics and the ISG have offered up. Maybe the Pentagon should recruit more "outside of the box" thinkers like Nibras Kazimi.

Friday, December 08, 2006

Leaving Iraq by 2008 should be a No-Go

Fire of Liberty

Even if some members of the ISG and various members of Congress are calling for an exit from Iraq by 2008, I think this piece from The Times pretty much sums up why the US can't take up such an action. From what I've read it seems like they're are a lot of folks in Iraq are willing to fight side by side with their American brothers but are scared by the media and the actions in Washington and fear we're heading to the doors and leaving them behind to face a fate far worse than what hit South Vietnam. I just hope the President stands firm and keeps our 140,000 troops in Iraq along with a compliment of the 20,000 trainers and adds an massive inflow of equipment, weapons, and ammo to the fledgling Iraqi army. If we show a true commitment towards helping Iraq defeat the enemy we could pull out an overwhelming victory and have a island of freedom in the midst of a sea of chaos. Here's hoping that the administration achieves these goals for the sake of our fallen soldiers and the people of Iraq.

One Tough Lady At Turtle Bay

Fire of Liberty
Jeane Kirkpatrick

When I think of the UN I tend to think of a body that is corrupt, inept, diplomatic double speak, unable to prevent genocide, fearful of confronting dictators, and generally disdainful of the US and Israel. Now while I tend to be a little stand-offish on anything with a UN stamp on it, I generally can stand its existence if the US has a strong willed ambassador who is willing to promote our ideals and defend us fully by bringing some sense into what Daniel Patrick Moynihan called a "dangerous place." One individual who possessed such a great talent and shined as a defender of this great nation was Jeane Kirkpatrick, who passed away last night. Ambassador Kirkpatrick would prove to be a great compliment to President Reagan as he and the country went toe to toe with the "evil empire". Amongst the many things that I found admirable about this feisty cold-warrior is that she called things as she saw it and could go a few rounds with the individuals at Turtle Bay who looked the other way towards dictatorships and the harshness of the Soviets in various corners of the world. Just think how interesting it would be to have an UN Ambassador who was willing to say the following:
"The U.S. has been getting kicked around a lot lately at the UN, and I just want you to know President Reagan and I think that's wrong. And as long as I'm here, we're not going to be kicked around anymore!"
It's very rare to find a voice of sanity in a madhouse known as Turtle Bay and I doubt we'll ever find another strong willed individuals like Jeane Kirkpatrick to fill such post, especially after watching the shameful way that members of the Senate treated John Bolton. So long live Jeane Kirkpatrick and the ideas she espoused.

*If you like to read more on the great career and works of Jeane Kirkpatrick see here, here, here, here, here, here, here and here.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Shine On Lady Liberty

Fire of Liberty

For a good while now I've been reading and hearing a lot of folks on both political spectrums, amongst the talking heads and the foreign policy mandarins about how we should cleft to the shores of "realism" and return to the ways of olde and be more willing to "listen" to our friends and be more "engaged" with the our enemies. Thankfully Robert Kagan(Author of Dangerous Nation) has a wonderful op/ed in the Financial Times that tends to pour some cold water on the "realist" foreign policy and demonstrates how the proactive nature of the US military is a force of good. One can only imagine what the world would had been like if the US had failed to be the champions of liberty during WWII and the Cold War. Maybe a lot more people will take a double take on this current embrace of foreign policy realism and realize that we have a long history of extending what Thomas Jefferson called the "empire of liberty" throughout the world.

*Also check out Max Boot's The Savage Wars of Peace, H.W. Crocker III's Don't Tread On Me, Mark Steyn America Alone, and Bill Bennett's America: The Last Best Hope.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Victory Should Be Our First Option For Iraq

Fire of Liberty

While folks in the MSM, Democrats and a smattering of folks from the "realist" camp keep on mouthing that Iraq has gone to "hell in a hand-basket". What's even worse is the fact that their publicly talking about how it would be in our best interest to enact various policies like threatening Iraq to shape-up or we'll leave, redeploying our forces to Kuwait or someplace other than Iraq, holding a regional conference that brings folks like Iran and Syria(State-sponsors of terrorism, who prefer the US to go down in flames) into the mix with regards to bringing peace to Iraq, or the chopping up of the nation into three distinctive regions.

Now while all things might sound good to these talking heads in the various salons and watering holes of D.C. on look good in various Op/Eds, they're more than likely going to create even greater problems for our troops, Iraq(Government and citizens), future Administrations and the US in general. Instead of finding ways to reallocate us from this situation by initiating an "honorable victory" thus leaving our allies on the lurch much like Max Boot points out in a recent Op/Ed in the LA Times,, we should be focusing all our time and energy in finding a way to win this war or inflict so much pain on the enemy that they end their aggression against us in Iraq and move elsewhere. Thankfully there are folks in the field of foreign policy like Victor Davis Hanson, Michael Ledeen, Michael Fumento, Ralph Peters, Max Boot, Robert Kagan, William Kristol, Frederick W. Kagan and Josh Manchester who are advocating policies that bring about a win rather than an "honorable victory" that others are advocating. Amongst the many pieces by such learned scholars, I have to say that Josh Manchester's "Go Native" piece over at TCS Daily offers a pretty reasonable plan based on classic counterinsurgency/small wars policies that will bring about a lasting victory. Here's a look at Manchester's "Go Native" plan:
1. Dramatically expand the training and advisory efforts. Expand their numbers, funding, and facilities. This doesn't differ much from "Go long," but wait there's more...

2. Create a crash program to develop a massive Arabic linguistic capability within the US military. This is the United States. We put men on the moon. Why don't we train 20,000 or more American military personnel proficient in Arabic in the next 12 months? Sure, it's a difficult language. But nobody has to be able to translate the Koran in order to lead an attack, plan a patrol, or otherwise advise an Iraqi force. Have the president sign an executive order temporarily federalizing the Arabic departments of every US university that has them. The professors will keep the same pay, but it'll be on Uncle Sam's tab and all of their students for the next two years will be military personnel. If our captains, lieutenants, sergeants and corporals have 30 days of Arabic for 12 hours a day with native speaking instructors before deploying, it will get us where we need to be.

3. Give Maliki 60 days to remove the Shi'ite militias from positions of influence in the government. If he asks for help of some kind in doing so, provide it. Give him one last chance to prove that stopping the sectarian killing is more important than satisfying those who hunger for it.

4. If he can't do it, then declare Iraq's security forces to be in receivership. What does this mean? It means that the security forces of Iraq no longer answer to the Iraqi government, they answer to the US military. The government will still exist. It will still be a democracy. But it will temporarily lose control of its military. After doing this, purge the Iraqi forces of those loyal to Shi'ite militias.

5. Create combined US-Iraqi forces. Here's where the go native part really kicks in. Forget about standing our forces down as the Iraqi forces stand up. It seems to actually be working in Anbar province, but the American public and political class don't believe it. Instead, create a situation such that the American forces and the Iraqi forces are one and the same. American forces in small numbers live, eat, sleep, fight and die with their Iraqi counterparts. It will keep the Iraqis honest about not killing each other in wanton bloodshed. And it will earn incredible benefits for the Americans in terms of intelligence gained and cultural lessons learned. This doesn't just apply to the military. It applies to the police, the border patrol, heck, even the Iraqi boy scouts if there's a local chapter.

6. Redeploy as many FOBBITS as possible. What's a Fobbit? A FOB is a forward operating base, and a fobbit is the derogatory term used by combat arms troops to refer to the support personnel who inhabit such gargantuan bases. This is not to look down upon the accomplishments of support personnel. But as much as possible, integrate the logistics of the forces that have gone native with the Iraqis with the Iraqi logistics. This should allow at least a portion of the massive numbers of support troops to come home, reducing our overall presence in the country, and showing a metric of progress to the American people.
I'm not sure what the foreign policy elites, talking heads, politicians, and the instant gratifying society of ours is thinking with regards to Iraq but in the "heartland" we want our soldiers to achieve a victory rather than yet more Marine helicopters evacuating our embassy and leaving our allies in yet another maelstrom. Failure and retreat is not an option with Iraq.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Happy Thanksgiving

Fire of Liberty

I want to wish our soldiers serving our nation here and abroad and everybody out there a safe and very Happy Thanksgiving. Being that Fire of Liberty is political in nature, I thought it would be good to share with you an editorial from the New York Sun which gives a sampling of some of the Thanksgiving proclamations from our former presidents:
John Adams issued a Thanksgiving proclamation in March 1798 that explained itself by saying, "As the safety and prosperity of nations ultimately and essentially depend on the protection and the blessing of Almighty God, and the national acknowledgment of this truth is not only an indispensable duty which the people owe to Him, but a duty whose natural influence is favorable to the promotion of that morality and piety without which social happiness can not exist nor the blessings of a free government be enjoyed."

Thomas Jefferson — an architect of the idea of the separation of church and state — did not issue a Thanksgiving proclamation. But the practice resumed when the author of the Constitution, James Madison, entered the White House and set aside January 12, 1815, as "a day on which all may have an opportunity of voluntarily offering at the same time in their respective religious assemblies their humble adoration to the Great Sovereign of the Universe, of confessing their sins and transgressions, and of strengthening their vows of repentance."

Lincoln issued four Thanksgiving proclamations. In 1862 and 1863, the wartime president made reference to a divine role in Union military victories. "It has pleased Almighty God to vouchsafe signal victories to the land and naval forces engaged in suppressing an internal rebellion," the 1862 proclamation began. In 1863, Lincoln wrote that the bounties of America were so extraordinary "that they can not fail to penetrate and soften even the heart which is habitually insensible to the ever-watchful providence of Almighty God." In 1864, he set apart the last Thursday in November "as a day which I desire to be observed by all my fellow-citizens, wherever they may then be, as a day of thanksgiving and praise to Almighty God, the beneficent Creator and Ruler of the Universe."

In 1869, President Grant issued a proclamation recommending that Thursday, November 18, "be observed as a day of thanksgiving and of praise and of prayer to almighty God, the creator and ruler of the universe; and I do further recommend to all the people of the United States to assemble on that day in their accustomed places of public worship and to unite in the homage and praise due to the bountiful Father of All Mercies and in fervent prayer for the continuance of the manifold blessings he has vouchsafed to us as a people."
So enjoy the turkey, stuffing, sweet potatoes, and the five days of football.

*Also, check out this interesting Thanksgiving piece in the New York Sun by Roger Miller.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Free Trade Deals Being Sunk by Dems

Fire of Liberty

At one time not to long ago I can remember when the Democrats had a popular president and folks within its party were enthusiastic supporters of free trade no matter how much the labor unions protested. Well according to this piece in the Financial Times, it seems that the Democrats are reverting from the days of free trade that were advocated by political giants like FDR and Truman back to the economic populism of William Jennings Bryan. What bugs me the most is the fact that while the Democrats continue to harp on President Bush about not reaching out to the nations of the world but when he does reach out to them by negotiating a trade deal that opens up the markets of Peru and Colombia to our goods and vice versa, they complain he's going it alone even though Congress gave him Trade Promotion Authority.

It's a sad day when the Democrats preach a game of helping the poor out in this country and within others but refuses to pass through policies like Free Trade that are a sure-fired way of relieving poverty in these less than fortunate areas because they're not up to the labor standards of the US. While I'm all for workers having protections from dangers and unfair work conditions, I have to scratch my head on how the Dems honestly believe that because a nation doesn't have the same labor standards as us then a Free Trade deal is a no go. It's generally a given that richer nations have the luxury to impose labor regulations on an industry because they've reached a point where they can afford it. As for poorer nations it's not in their economic best interest or for the benefit of an employee if a start-up industry in places like Colombia or Peru are forced to obey expensive labor laws and standards set for industries like GE or GM in the US. In time these industries will have to attain certain labor standards but we can't expect them to be a fast runner while they're still learning to walk.

I just hope that there's still some Democrats(And a lot of Republicans) still remember the economic, political, and geo-strategic benefits that Free Trade deals have on this country and the countries who sign such deals with us. I'm betting this debate will become much more heated in the next few years.

*Here's a piece by Pete Du Pont over at the WSJ's Opinion Journal that aptly sums up the Dems take on Free Trade.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Milton The Great

Fire of Liberty

Arnold Kling has a great piece over at TCS Daily that amply demonstrates why I'm(and a lot more people) such a big fan of Milton Friedman and his works.

Realist are Dancing with Danger with Syria

Fire of Liberty

After reading this piece on the assassination of Lebanon's Industry Minister Pierre Gemayel(a vocal critic of Syria and their action in Lebanon) I have to say it baffles me why their is a number of folks in the Senate, the foreign policy elite, and the MSM who believe Syria and Iran are folks we can work or trust in the Middle East. Foreign policy realists preach stability as a must but whose soul and what principles are going to be shoved aside to achieve the goal.

Cooper Union Gameplan

Fire of Liberty

There's an interesting piece in Fortune that points out that Newt Gingrich could be eyeing a bid for Prez come 2008. People may scoff at this but Newt is an individual who has hold ideas that excites the conservative base and could draw the Reagan conservatives and the libertarian right back into the GOP come 2008. He might be a dark-horse but I wouldn't bet against him after reading the following:
In casting himself as the reluctant but critical-for-these-times candidate, the former history professor is looking back to 1860, and the wildfire support for Lincoln's candidacy touched off by a series of speeches. Gingrich read Harold Holzer's book Lincoln at Cooper Union in 2004, at a time when he was disgusted both by the tenor of that year's presidential campaign and a California court decision striking "under God" from the Pledge of Allegiance. "I was fascinated by Holzer's portrait of Lincoln spending three months at the Springfield state library, putting together the definitive argument about the Constitution, the Founding Fathers and slavery," Gingrich says.

"He turns it into a 7,300-word speech - gives it once in New York, once in Rhode Island, once in Massachusetts, once in New Hampshire. Then he goes home. I was struck by the sheer courage of the self-definitional moment that said, 'We are in real trouble, we need real leadership, and if that's who you think we need, here's my speech'," Gingrich says, suggesting he intends to do the same thing.

Gingrich is trying to shape an image as the reluctant, but necessary, candidate for trying times. "I would not have thought that I would be necessary," he says. But even some Gingrich allies are skeptical he can pull it off. "I don't think he's going to be nominated unless he runs a full-blown campaign," says former House majority leader Dick Armey.

But Armey adds: "He's never been a parochial member of Congress. He has big ideas, and has had them for a long time. He's not going to appear to have just discovered them for the purposes of an election. And that's a good place to be for an '08 candidate."
So keep an eye open for Newt in 08.

Core Principles

Fire of Liberty

In a previous post I noted that if the Republicans are ever going to retake the reigns of Congress and retain the White House then they've got to return to core conservative values of smaller government, economic freedom, return a governor on run-away spending, greater ethics as well a strong national defense. While the Republicans seem to hold the barricades when it comes to national defense and cutting taxes(I prefer more in both cases.) they tend to be running away from smaller government and economic freedom like someone with their hair on fire even though the voters(who are generally center-right on these issues) are demanding a return to sanity or an end to such madness by selecting a divided government.

Even though I find it interesting that the President might be willing to brush off the dust and cobwebs that encase his veto pen box to kill some excessive bill on behalf of the Democrats, I prefer that the GOP return to power but in strong and bold ideas that propelled Reagan and the Gingrich Revolution to power in the first place. Amongst these two political heavy-hitters was one common feature which was the idea that individuals could and will achieve great things in America as long as they are unencumbered by the government's heavy hand in their lives and the economy. In fact this treasure trove of successful ideas is still readily available to the GOP via the late and great Milton Friedman and his books Capitalism and Freedom and Free to Choose. As a devotee to the works of this free-market champion I can proudly say that had it not been for the principled ideas of Friedman and the stand up and unwavering support of politicians like Margaret Thatcher and Ronald Reagan, I think that state-controlled economies, Keynesian economics, and Soviet totalitarianism would be all the rage today.

Today the GOP is at a crossroads with regards to whether or not they will rise again like a Phoenix or will they wonder the wilderness for a decade or more because they lost their way. They can attain the high ground by returning to the conservative/libertarian roots that were espoused by Calvin Coolidge, Barry Goldwater,Ronald Reagan and Milton Friedman but they are the only ones who are going to have to bust their humps to achieve their goal. I think President Reagan summed up the situation that faces the wounded GOP when he noted "If not us, who? If not now, when?" This is the pressing question before the house.

Turning Back The Tide

Fire of Liberty
America Alone

If you want to pick up an informative and startling book on the rise and spread of Islamism throughout Europe and the threats that such a rise has on Western Civilization and how the US is the only force that is willing and can hold back this tide, then I highly recommend you find your way to Amazon or you local book store and get a copy of Mark Steyn's new book America Alone. Now while I've got this book in my "to buy" list, I figured others would need a better summation of this great book so I couldn't suggest a better review than this one by Johnathan Last in the Philadelphia Inquirer. So enjoy the review, learn a little, and go get the book.

Friday, November 17, 2006

Not A Man of the People All of the Time

Fire of Liberty

This past week I came across John Edwards(Not the psychic) on cable news directing his "Two-America's" ire at none other than Wal-Mart. While Edwards might be beefing up his populist credentials by taking on a non-union corporation and saying they're taking the American people for a ride. In fact the Wal-Mart that Edwards bemoans is in reality a benefit to the less than wealthy because it provides gainful employment (Generally folks start off making $8 to $10 an hour, 90% of its workforce is insured.), offers goods at lower prices that most retailers, offers a greater degree of competition and dampens high prices amongst the various grocery store chains. Now the possible presidential candidate of the Democrats can keep on harping about the "Two America's" and blasting the retail giant for existing but is he willing to tell the hard working folks of America that he says he supports that they're wrong for shopping at Wal-Mart for quality goods(This is one place where Edwards' "poor parents" can clothe and feed their kids at a far cheaper price than what their local Mom and Pop stores could ever offer.)because the close to 1 million employees at Wal-Mart don't bother in forming and paying dues to unions and their PACs. Unfortunately, Edwards seems to preach a good "Two Americas" sermon(Trial Lawyers from the South are good at talking) but when it comes to his kids wanting the new Playstation 3 it seems like the former Senator and his staff are more than willing to use Wal-Mart to their advantage but then as with most economic populists like Edwards, they tend to make sure through their celebrity to enjoy the fruits of the things they bemoan while trying to keep others from doing the same.(Look at Louisiana's Huey P. Long) I think Jeff Taylor over at Reason Magazine rightly sums up the absurdity of the presidential hopefuls' populist assaults on Wal-Mart in his piece "The Two John Edwards." As you can tell, I'm not much of a fan of John Edwards and his populists brethren.

Monday, November 13, 2006

A Tenacious Wrestler

Fire of Liberty

Here's a great piece by Josh Manchester over at TCS Daily which gives a good testament of why Donald Rumsfeld has been a major asset for this country and how Defense Secretaries like him are a rare but needed breed. I also recommend you read the DoD's chief speech that he gave at the Kansas State University Landon Lecture to see what kind of individual will be losing to pure a simple politics. So once again let's hear it for Don Rumsfeld.

Just Win Baby

Fire of Liberty

As a football fan I'm always reminded of Al Davis's famous motto of "Just Win Baby." Well such a motto should also be applied to our current fight in Iraq. For a good time now I've been advocating such a policy and have tried my best to provide you with a bevy of thoughts from some of the best observers and thinkers on our fight in Iraq. Thankfully, I've found a great a good piece by David Warren in the Ottawa Citizen which lays out a good argument on why President Bush and our military have got to press forward and achieve a victory over our enemies in Iraq. I'd be nice to wash our hands of the deadly insurgency and let the pieces fall where they fall(That's my fear from hearing the rhetoric of the Dems and the re-emergence of foreign policy realists like Robert Gates, James Baker, and Brent Scrowcroft)like we did in Vietnam but unfortunately the enemy that we face today won't be satisfied with us leaving their territory but will only be emboldened to strike us harder on our own turf. Therefore, we have to continue to take the fight to the enemy or be prepared to experience a way of life that seems to be the norm in the Middle East. I'm not prepared for this and don't think that throwing in the towel is the right way to honor the 3,000 soldiers who have sacrificed their lives in Afghanistan and Iraq. So here's hoping that the White House shys away from the "realist" approach that is being bandied about in the MSM and pushes a policy that results in victory.

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Return To the Roots of Reagan

Fire of Liberty

A lot of people in the MSM and the blogs are carrying on about how Iraq led to the defeat of the GOP but in reality it was due to the fact that they turned their backs to the core principles of smaller government, less taxes, and reduced spending that was championed by Reagan and Gingrich. For me, I believe that if you're not going to hewn to the conservatives principles that got you where you are then don't expect those same voters to come out to the polls and vote you back in to keep on doing what you keep on doing wrong. I have to say that Pat Toomey, president of the Club for Growth, pretty much knocks this point out of the park with his most recent piece over at National Review Online. If the GOP doesn't re-organizes its house around these small government roots real soon they could find themselves in the wilderness for an extremely long time. The same goes for the GOP's 2008 nominee(McCain seems to be taking notes).

Friday, November 10, 2006

Afghanistan Is Far From A Return to Chaos

Fire of Liberty
Of late, I've been hearing a lot from the MSM and the Democrats about how Afghanistan returning to a period of violence and chaos because we're directing our focus and assets to Iraq. Now while its easy for politicians and talking heads to sit thousands of miles away and wax how things are a disaster in Afghanistan in an effort to sell news or promotes an agenda, Its refreshing to get find some information on how the folks in Afghanistan feel about their current situation due to the fact that they're living it first hand and unfiltered. Thankfully, the good folks over at the WSJ Asia editorial page have presented a recent poll conducted by the Asia Foundation that reveals some very a far different perspective from the folks on the ground in this far reach of the world. Here's what I've found most interesting about the poll:
The survey, conducted by the Asia Foundation and released on Thursday, finds that a majority of Afghans hold a mostly optimistic view of their country's future. Economic insecurity, not violence or physical safety, is their top worry.

This may come as news to outside observers used to hearing only about the resurgence of the Taliban. Yet a majority of the Afghans surveyed say the security situation is "excellent" or "good"; three-fifths say they "rarely" or "never" worry about their safety. Security, it seems, is not a significant factor in most Afghans' day-to-day lives.

The violence in the southern and eastern provinces is serious, and bears watching. But it helps that well over 80% of respondents trust the Afghan National Army and the Afghan National Police. Sixty-three percent said they would report a crime to the police.

Many of the survey results are remarkable for their sheer ordinariness. Thirty-four percent of respondents consider unemployment their biggest problem. After that, electricity (25%), water (18%), poverty (18%), the poor economy (17%) and corruption (8%) were cited as significant challenges.

These responses help explain why it's been so difficult for Afghan farmers to kick their poppy-growing habit. In principle, Afghans are eager to stop growing the crop. According to the survey, 80% of respondents believe poppy cultivation is "wrong." But given the country's poor infrastructure and the few alternative vocations in rural areas, many Afghans feel they have little choice but to continue to cultivate the lucrative cash crop.
Now it's true that Afghanistan is far from being Switzerland but its still far removed from the death and chaos we keep on hearing about Afghanistan.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

No Matter How You Cut It, Rumsfeld Hewed to Counter-insurgency Doctrine

Fire of Liberty

I know he's out the door but folks should think twice about dumping all the blame of our rough patch in Iraq on Donald Rumsfeld's stubbornness and refusal to listen to a generals on increasing troop strength in Iraq when in reality he was following military doctrine with regards to fighting a classic counter-insurgency as well as trying to avoid the problems that plagued us with regards to Vietnam. If you want to really understand what's behind Secretary Rumsfeld's thinking with regards to troop strength and our current fight in Iraq, I recommend you take a look at this post in The Corner by historian Victor Davis Hanson:
So we are down to his supposed responsibility for the later effort to stop the 3-year plus insurgency, whose denouement is not yet known. Rumsfeld's supposed error that drew such ire was troop levels, i.e., that he did not wish to repeat a huge presence in the manner of Vietnam, but sought to skip the 1964-1971 era morass, and go directly to the 1972-5 Vietnamization strategy of training troops, providing aid, and using air power.

I think he was right, and that most troops in Iraq today would agree. I was just talking to a Marine Lt. back from Haditha and Hit; his chief worry was not too few Americans, but rather Iraqi Security Forces insidiously expecting Americans to do their own security patrolling. Since sending in tens of thousands to do a Grozny-like smash-up is both politically impossible and antithetical to American policy, I don't see the advantage of more troops at all, especially when we will soon near 400,000 Iraqis in arms, which, together with coalition forces of ca. 150,000, would in theory provide 555,000—or more than the "peacetime" army of Saddam's. As a rule in history, it is not just the size, but the nature, rules of engagement, and mission, of armies that matter.

For the future, neither precipitous withdrawal nor a big build-up are the right solutions, the former will leave chaos, the latter will only ensure perpetual Iraqi dependency. As it is, there are too many support troops over in Iraq in compounds, who are not out with Iraqis themselves; more troops will only ensure an even bigger footprint and more USA-like enclaves. Abezaid, Casey, Petraeus, McMaster, etc. understand counter-insurgency and the need for a long-term commitment that marries political autonomy for the Iraqis with American aid, commandos, and air support. Rumsfeld supported them all.
One can assume from VDH's post that instead of Rumsfeld being a ideologue who was doing things his way and the hell with others(Like Robert McNamara) the Defense chief was indeed an individual who studied his history and was well versed in what it takes and how right he was in referring to our war against Islamic fundamentalism as a "long hard slog."

If you want to further your understanding on the thinking behind our counter-insurgency fight in Iraq and elsewhere, then I recommend you take a look at the Marine's Small Wars Manual, Max Boot's The Savage Wars of Peace, C.E. Callwell's Small Wars: Their Principles and Practice, John A. Nagl's Learning to Eat Soup with a Knife: Counterinsurgency Lessons from Malaya and Vietnam, or Lewis Sorley's A Better War.

Pelosi's True Colors

Fire of Liberty

I have to say that I'm a little disinclined on to take the MSM and others serious in their efforts to convince the American people that Speaker Pelosi and her friends will be more moderate and more tempered on their approach to Iraq and are more willing to shy away from "cutting and running." Such doubts have been reconfirmed after I saw Pelosi on Special Report with Brit Hume and she noted that Iraq is "not a war to be won but a situation to be solved."

Thank You Secretary Rumsfeld

Fire of Liberty

I'd like to offer up a hearty thank you to the good work that Secretary Rumsfeld has provided to the Defense Department and the defense of this nation. Now while he's had a helluva time in pursuing the mission in Iraq, you've got to say he's accomplish quite a bit by transforming the DOD and the US Military for wars of the 21st century, cutting pork and streamlining the DOD, as well as leading the DOD in an excellent takedown of the terrorists in Afghanistan and Saddam in Iraq. Folks might doubt the effectiveness of Secretary Rumsfeld in this post election "night of the longknives" atmosphere but when historians look back on his tenure I'll bet they'll see him as a transformative visionary who nipped future problems in the bud and foresaw the threats well before others. So three cheers to Secretary Rumsfeld.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Negative Ads Really Work

Fire of Liberty

Andrew Ferguson has a good column which points out the fact that every election cycle there always seems to be a report in the media about that complain about all those "negative ads" being hurled by various politicians but in reality when push comes to shove these ads tend to provide greater facts and tends to tip the voter over to their side. So before anyone starts to complain about negative ads, I recommend you read Ferguson's piece

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Multi-Culturalism Run Amuck

Fire of Liberty

According to this piece by Val MacQueen over at TCS Daily it seems like the folks in the UK are finding out that the devotion to the cult of "multi-culturalism" is creating more problems than good. Here's hoping that the public in the UK stands up and say enough is enough and finally find a way to rid themselves of the goobbledygook of "multi-culturalism."

Saturday, October 28, 2006

Why I'm Optimistic About Election Day

Fire of Liberty

I think this piece by National Review Online's Deroy Murdoch pretty much sums up why I'm still hoping the Republican's win the day come November 7th. While I'm a little miffed with spending I've got to give the Republicans props in national security, tax cuts, cutting the deficit in half well before 2009, 4.6% unemployment, low inflation rate, a border fence. Yes, we've got to work on winning the War on Terror, stopping nuclear proliferation, making tax cuts permanent thus expanding growth, and social security reform, appointing judges and Supreme Court Justices in the mold of Thomas, Scalia, Alito, and Roberts. If Pelosi, Murtha, Rangel, Waxman, Conyers, and their friends in the Senate become victorious this November such things will be lost. So if I really know the folks of this country then I forsee them entering the voting booth and voting Republican due to the fact that they like a dynamic economy and a safer America that the Republicans have delivered so far.

Offense Is The Best Option for Southern Afghanistan

Fire of Liberty

For the past month I've been reading various disturbing reports in the British press about how the British forces in various parts of Afghanistan have decided to take a more defensive posture and preferring to conduct humanitarian operations rather than continuing offensive operations against the remnants of the Taliban and Al Qaeda. What's even more troubling is this most recent piece in The Times which notes that the Brit high command has instructed the Royal Marines commandos to stay entrenched in their bases in Lashkar Gah and Gereshk because they've received reports that suicide bombers itching to kill British and Afghan troops lurk outside their gates. Now it's understandable that suicide bombers are something to worry about but the fact that a highly trained and equipped military like the Royal Marines being holed up in there bases can't be that impressive marker of the Brits to the people in Southern Afghanistan. If the Brits want to find a way into the "hearts and minds" of the Afghan people then I suggest they continue to use all their assets at hand towards the fight against the remnants of the Taliban and Al Qaeda who remain on the Southern border regions of Afghanistan thus eliminating the threat and allowing the Brits a greater cushion in their ability to create safe development zones.

I guess they keep on forgetting that the best way to reach the "hearts and minds" of a tribal society that has a great regard to the strong warrior then they've have got to route out the enemy and show them you are committed to their security. Other parts of Afghanistan are doing just fine because the coalition routed the enemy and Southern Afghanistan can see the same if the Brits would stay on the offense. This failure to engage the enemy reminds me of the early half of the Civil War when George B. McClellan sat on the Eastern side of the Potomac River for months on end and continuing to refuse to go on the offensive because the conditions weren't right. Here's hoping the British commanders in Afghanistan get off their defensive posture real soon or they could be in a hell of a mess thus losing the favor or trust of the Afghan people. Failure shouldn't be an option especially for the storied Royal Marines.

Friday, October 27, 2006

Assimilation is the Trick To Preserving Western Civilization

Fire of Liberty

If Europe is going to preserve the Western tradition and prevent the future collapse of their nation-states then they've got to step up to the plate and knock aside the goobly-gook ideas of "multi-culturalism" and start pushing forward the even-headedness policies of assimilation which makes immigrants learning the language, laws and culture of their new country thus making them citizens of their new countries and not mere inhabitants. Well thankfully The Times has a good article that notes how the center-right government of Sweden has come to its senses with regards to the dangers of "multi-culturalism" by appointing Nyamko Sabuni(A moderate Muslim) as the Minister of New Intergration and Equality who upon being appointed has introduced a policy of assimilation upon the people of Sweden thus loosening the grip of Islamic fundamentalism on the new Muslim emigres. As I've noted time and time again, the only way that you're going to preserve your society from the massive onslaught of Islamic fundamentalism then these nations have got to push through no-nonsense assimilation policies as more moderate Muslims like Sabuni and Ayaan Hirsi Ali have got to stand up against these forces and say enough is enough. If these governments don't apply such policies and such individuals don't step up to the plate then the dam of Western Civilization could be destroyed by the forces of radical Islam in the near future.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Lesson's on Tet

Fire of Liberty

As I woke up this morning and tuned into cable news and later this evening on CBS, I heard a lot about President Bush's interview with ABC's George Stephanopoulos and how he referred to the events and environment revolving around Iraq is very similar to the Tet of 1968. Now while folks might think this is the President signaling defeat but in reality the commander-in-chief is noting that we're at a moment in which we are staying in the fight to achieve victory ,the insurgency is playing its part in changing the story.

By initiating deadlier violence the insurgency gives the media a "hell-in-the-handbasket" story to push on the American public which could provoke a change in politics thus in turn could become a moral win for the insurgency and the beginning of the end in our dignified fight in Iraq. Now while I've been on page with lessons of Tet, I figured that most people would like to read this more in debth look at what President Bush was talking about by looking at this great post by blogger Tiger Hawk. I for one hope that such a defeatist spirit doesn't become a reality in this nation because such will only embolden the enemy and make our time and struggle against Islamic fascism a far deadlier struggle.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Fighting The Good Fight

Fire of Liberty

For those of you out their who don't know much about the 1956 Hungarian Revolution in which the students rose up against their Communist dictators, I recommend you read this commentary from the Seattle Times by Bruce Ramsey.

300 Million And Growing

Fire of Liberty

John Tierney, columnist at the NY Times, has a wonderful column which points why the environmental lobby and others should be wary of jumping to quick conclusions and pushing grand schemes on preventing such disaster because sometimes the solution is far more harmful than the perceived threat. Folks can say 300 million is far too many people but if you look at Europe and China(who fell under the spell of Paul Erhlich's "The Population Bomb.") and see that these countries are falling behind the replacement rate of 2.1%(Having to import workers outside of nation and culture or don't have enough mates for the male pop.)you soon discover that the 300 million number is not a figure to fret about but something to celebrate. So twenty years from now when the other countries begin to see their nations die a slow grey death, our older population will be resting happy and enjoying the fruits of their labor in a nation that remains a young and dynamic. I just hope folks take Tierney's words for heart and stop embracing ideas that cause more harm than good.

*Here's Jonah Goldberg's take on reaching 300 million folks.

Monday, October 16, 2006

Putting Kim Jong Il on a Diet

Fire of Liberty
Peter Worthington(A Korean War Vet at that) has a good column over at the Toronto Sun which notes that the sanctions on luxury and military goods going into North Korea might slow things down but would have a far lesser impact on the regime than a ban of humanitarian aid. Here's a look:
Even the U.S., which has banned trade and tourism for decades, is reluctant to embargo food and medical aid because the intention is to help ordinary people.

Humanitarian, not political. This concern shouldn't apply to North Korea, because Kim Jong Il's regime, like his father's before him, cares not a whit for the citizens trapped in the country. Food aid is diverted to sustain the army and the regime. What's left over trickles down to the people.

None of this is new, but still bears repeating.

Even though North Korea is a prime member of President George Bush's "Axis of Evil" club, the U.S. has provided more than $1 billion in aid over the last decade alone. Most of it has been food aid with no monitoring system.

Even China and South Korea, which are North Korea's greatest providers of food aid have no monitoring system in place. Defectors from North Korea over the years have testified that food aid goes to the army and the regime -- not the people.

It was only this year that the U.S. shut down its contribution to the Korean Energy Development Organization, which was set up to provide energy aid to the north in exchange for its halting its nuclear program. That was President Bill Clinton's administration being hoodwinked by Kim Jong Il.

There's now pressure to get President George W. Bush to enter into direct negotiations with North Korea, instead of multilateral negotiations that include China, Russia, South Korea and Japan.

Even in the Clinton days, the U.S. wisely resisted direct negotiations.


Face-to-face meetings work only when both parties are rational -- like the Gorbachev-Reagan meetings (which were also disputed, until they succeeded beyond the expectations of many). If North Korea and the U.S. held talks, the North could -- and inevitably would -- walk out and blame the U.S. for the breakdown, putting the U.S. on the defensive and eager to prove it was a good guy.

With six-party negotiations, all North Korea's neighbours share in decisions and experience the obstinacy and aberrant behaviour of the paranoid North.

The encouraging aspect of the UN's decision to punish North Korea, albeit ever so gently, is its unanimity -- a step towards greater harmony in the world body.

If the embargo were extended to prohibiting food aid, the North Korean regime could begin to implode -- something that may still happen if Kim Jong Il's health is as fragile as some claim.
I have to say that Worthington is spot on with this. It might look cruel in folk's eyes but I'd rather have the regime collapse by hungry soldiers turning on Kim Jong Il and his ilk than having to confront a nuclear armed North Korea rule by the Dear Leader. So here's hoping someone sees the light and enact more stingent sanctions(This might have to be unilateral or between states like the US, Japan, Australia, and South Korea.) on the Hermit Kingdom. As for now let's see how things conspire under the current sanction regime.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Cutting Off The Hermit Kingdom's Cash

Fire of Liberty

During the past three days the commentariat has been putting forth various arguments on the very limited options that the US and other regional powers in Asia have in dealing with North Korea and its quest for nukes. While I'm in total agreement that a military solution is a non-starter at this time(I still think such a option should remain on the side of the table for safety's sake), I have to beg to differ with the folks who say sanctions won't work because North Korea and its citizens have little or nothing to sanction that will slow down or stop their activities. Now it's true that the everyday people of North Korea are starving and are forced to eat tree bark and leaves of grass but in all instances these sanctions would be applied to the upper echelon in Pyongyang who are the one's who run the show and have the most to lose from strict sanctions. Thankfully Richard Lloyd Perry provides a good overview in The Times(England) of how the higher ups within the politburo and Kim Jong Il clan use the proceeds from missile proliferation, drug trafficking, counterfeiting, skin trade, and various other black market enterprises to continue their wicked reign over the poor folks of North Korea as well as the quest for the bomb and its delivery system. Though we'll be hard pressed to fully clamp down on a lot of this illegal activity(Missile proliferation can be slowed by the Proliferation Security Initiative) we can still make it pretty darn hard on the regime by turning off their cash flow by shutting down various bank accounts, preventing them from holding or creating new accounts, as well as limiting the DPRK from all other sources of money within Asia. One only has to look at various news reports throughout the Asian/Pacific region(See here, here, here, here, here, and here.) that note how US, China, South Korea, Japan, and Australia and others have already placed a substantial strain on the Hermit Kingdom by freezing their various bank accounts.

Now while the DPRKs puffing up like a Blow Fish and blustering rhetoric have to be taken seriously( especially with their most recent nuclear test) I think we've got to continue to dry up North Korea's financial resources and let the regime fall into financial despair. While sanctions are just a fraction of what will be required to take down the regime(see my earlier post) I think this will provide us more bang for the buck and allow the regime to suffer much like the people have under their boot of totalitarianism. If the powers in Asia and the US keep the heat turned up on the regime we could see the end of this regime in the near future.

Monday, October 09, 2006

A Market Based Solution Towards Alternative Fuels

Fire of Liberty

Now here's a market based solution being pushed by the auto industry that will reduce our dependence of Middle Eastern oil that I'm willing to proudly support. I'm all for such remedies as long as the market, customers and the private sector are driving these solutions and the federal government steers clear with its mandates and restrictive controls being advocated by McCain, Kerry, and others. So I hope Ford, Chevy, and BMW great success in its production of hydrogen fueled autos. I think Hayek would be proud of such an enterprise.

Playing Hardball With the Hermit Kingdom

Fire of Liberty

With the confirmation that North Korea has successfully tested a nuclear weapon folks are wondering what steps we should take. Today this country has got to draw a strong line in the sand with North Korea and reassure them most definite that any thoughts of bilateral talks are a non-starter and that its time for a tightening of the all economic(finances and energy) and diplomatic screws on the regime. Someone who seems to have a firm grasp on what's needed to be done with North Korea is Josh Manchester(Blogs at The Adventures of Chester) who has enumerated in a timely piece over a TCS Daily that pretty much sums up a strategy that should becoming a common mantra within the US for dealing with the Hermit Kingdom. Here's a look at Manchester's game plan:
When the North prepped to test seven ballistic missiles this summer, two former Clinton administration officials issued a breathless warning: "if North Korea persists in its launch preparations, the United States should immediately make clear its intention to strike and destroy the North Korean Taepodong missile before it can be launched." Within their warning was an easy dismissal of the idea that such an act would start a regional war.

Instead, let's take a more calculating, sober view. These should be the steps forward as this crisis plays out:

1. Reinforce success. The Proliferation Security Initiative is working and is gradually causing a collapse of North Korean state power. Let's reinforce success by adding more money and capabilities to this effort to continue to speed the collapse of the North Korean state and force them to abandon their weapons program. Let's acknowledge that our current course is driving the North Koreans bonkers -- and then just ratchet up the pressure all the more, absolutely unfazed by their threats.

2. Add international legitimacy to the PSI. The PSI is basically an ad hoc group of nations that are voluntarily assisting the US in enforcing its own sanctions. UN Resolution 1695, enacted earlier this summer, "bans all UN member states from selling material or technology for missiles or weapons of mass destruction to North Korea and from receiving missiles, banned weapons or technology from Pyongyang." That's a good start. But why not take this up a notch, and offer a new resolution stating that any member nation that does engage in such trade with North Korea will immediately be referred to the Security Council for sanctions?

3. Encourage Japan not to go nuclear - yet. The only way that the six-parties will succeed in getting North Korea to abandon its nuclear program is if they all act in concert. When the North threatens a nuclear test, one of its hopes is that some of the six will overreact. A Japanese announcement to seek nuclear weapons would comprise one such overreaction, especially given the American ability to offer Japan assurance of a nuclear deterrent under its own nuclear umbrella. If Japan announces an intention to pursue nuclear weapons, then the six party talks may dissolve completely. It's very likely that South Korea and China see Japan as more of a threat than North Korea. Indeed, It should come as no surprise that the North made their announcement only days before the new Japanese Prime Minister, Shinzo Abe, is scheduled to visit both South Korea and China. The President might call him before he goes and read a line or two of Kipling: "If you can keep your head when all about you/ Are losing theirs..."

4. Begin a conversation domestically about a new nuclear doctrine. The Bush Doctrine, announced at West Point in 2002, promulgated a policy of preventive war should the US be threatened by terrorists or rogue states developing weapons of mass destruction. This doctrine needs a corollary of some kind, inspired by the principles of both non-proliferation and deterrence, which sets certain triggers for preemptive nuclear strikes against states that knowingly or not pass nuclear weapons material or know-how to terrorist organizations or other states. Elaborating such a position is beyond the scope of this article, but it's clear that no matter how robust policies like the PSI are, they are still largely defensive in nature, and at some point nuclear weapons, materials or knowhow could slip through. It would be best to attempt to curb this behavior from the get-go by offering severe disincentives for engaging in it.

Such a policy might sound drastic: destroy a state for shipping some nuclear materials? But at its formulation, mutually assured destruction was no less drastic and no less frightening. Consider reports that Iranian officials were present at Pyongyang's missile launches this summer. There's no reason to think they won't be eager observers of North Korea's test. It is just such exchanges in the shadows that most threaten the world's civilization and it's time to develop a policy that addresses them.
This latest test is just another example of what you get from North Korea. We've witnessed one to many times the North Koreans promising not to do one thing and then going ahead with it anyway and then we see the Chinese, South Koreans, Japanese, US, Russia going to North Korea hat in hand begging them to come back to the table for more talks and more promises that the break again. So let's push aside rewards for Kim Jong Il's bad behavior and shut the Hermit Kingdom down via sanctions and pushing through ideas like Josh Manchester noted above. Time is a wastin' and the world's not getting safer with North Korea running amuck.

Sunday, October 08, 2006

Getting Under Al Qaida's Shell

Fire of Liberty
Austin Bay(Blogs at Strategy Page) has a good column over at Real Clear Politics which takes a close look at the various communications that have been going on between various members of Al Qaida and how these terrorists are becoming antsy and less confident because of the intensive fight that the US and its allies have thrust upon them. Here's a look at Bay's informative look on the activities of the terrorists:
Though war's doubt and uncertainty affect all sides, dictators and terrorists can control their "message." As a result, there is no balance to media portrayal of American doubt.

The American "narrative of doubt" plays into the business model of sensationalist media, which rely on hyperbolic and emotional display to attract an audience. (CNN's Anderson Cooper, with his "show rage" coverage of Hurricane Katrina, is an example.)

Which is why the rare glimpse, like Atiyah's letter to Zarqawi, is truly big news.

"The path is long and difficult," Atiyah writes, "and the enemy isn't easy, for he is great and numerous, and he can take quite a bit of punishment, as well." Atiyah's assessment seems to be a major change in tune and tone. Previous al-Qaida documents touted the Clinton administration's withdrawal from Somalia as the template for American action.

Atiyah adds that al-Qaida's leaders "wish that they had a way to talk to you (Zarqawi) ... however, they too are occupied with vicious enemies here (presumably in Pakistan). They are also weak, and we ask God that He strengthen them and mend their fractures."

Atiyah tells Zarqawi to contact him via a specific Internet site because of "the disruption that exists and the loss of communications." Releasing the letter thus reveals a potential source of new intelligence. Weigh that against what it says about the highly restricted lives of al-Qaida's leaders. Their jihadist cave life is dangerous, and their ability to command is severely curbed -- these men are besieged.

Al-Qaida's leaders also fear they are losing the war for hearts and minds. Atiyah senses a souring of "the hearts of the people toward us." Al-Qaida has long sanctioned the murder of Muslim opponents it labels "corrupt" and apostate. However, Atiyah indicates Zarqawi's terror in Iraq has backfired. Atiyah says killing the popular "corrupt" is "against all of the fundamentals of politics and leadership." He warns "against all acts that alienate."

But it may well be too late. and similar websites noticed in mid-2005 that al-Qaida and insurgent mass murder in Iraq had begun to turn Arab Muslim opinion against the terrorists.
The best option for us to do is be even more vigilant with our fight in order to force the terrorists to their knees.

Saturday, October 07, 2006

Let's Concentrate On More Pressing Things

Fire of Liberty
I think Charles Krauthammer put the whole "Iraq makes us less safe" so we should "redeploy" nonsense to bed with his most recent column in the Washington Post. Here's a sample:
How important is Iraq in this calculus? The vaunted National Intelligence Estimate -- unspun -- offers a completely commonplace weighing of the relationship between terrorism and Iraq. On the one hand, the American presence does inspire some to join the worldwide jihad. On the other hand, success in the Iraq project would blunt the most fundamental enlistment tool for terrorism -- the political oppression in Arab lands that is deflected by cynical dictators and radical imams into murderous hatred of the West. Which is why the Bush democracy project embodies the greatest hope for a reduction of terrorism and why the NIE itself concludes that were the jihadists to fail in Iraq, their numbers would diminish.

It is an issue of time frame. The bombing of the Japanese home islands may have increased short-term recruiting for the kamikazes. But success in the Pacific War put a definitive end to the whole affair.

Moreover, does anyone imagine that had the jihadists in Iraq remained home they would now be tending petunias rather than plotting terror attacks? Omar Farouq, leader of al-Qaeda in Southeast Asia, escaped from a U.S. prison in Afghanistan a year ago and was apparently drawn to the ``cause celebre'' in Iraq. Last month, he was killed by British troops in a firefight in Basra. In an audiotape released on Sept. 28, the leader of al-Qaeda in Iraq said that 4,000 of its recruits have been killed there since the American invasion. Like Omar Farouq and Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, they went to Iraq to die in Iraq.

It is clear that one of the reasons we have gone an astonishing five years without a second attack on the American homeland is that the most dedicated and virulent jihadists have gone to Iraq to fight us, as was said during World War I, ``over there.''

Does the war in Iraq make us more or less safe today? And what about tomorrow? The fact is that no definitive answer is possible. Except for the following truism: During all wars we are by definition less safe -- and the surest way back to safety is victory.
Ah, It's always so fun to go to the Washington Post op/ed page every Friday to read such sage advice from Mr. Krauthammer.

Friday, October 06, 2006

Onward to Victory

Fire of Liberty

As of late I've been coming across a several articles and column questioning NATO and the US's ability to take on the remnants of the Taliban and Al Qaeda in Afghanistan and whether or not it's time to start making deals with or enemy in order to keep the country from going into chaos. Thankfully I've come across a great leader(editorial) in The Times which points out that we are on the verge of winning in Afghanistan as long as we keep on applying maximum force on the enemy and expanding our presence in the region. If we can show the Afghans that we're committed to winning by applying such force and helping them rebuild, we will cut our problems in half and will see victory in a far quicker pace compared to past counter-insurgency operations. Staying on the offensive and thinking ahead of the terrorists/insurgents is a must in winning the War on Terror and I think NATO would be well advised to take this leader to heart and as the surest way to achieve their goal in Afghanistan.

Rise of the Nanny State

Fire of Liberty

In an earlier post I brought up the fact that New York City's mayor Michael Bloomberg is trying his best to create a nanny state utopia that eliminates personal responsibility from citizens in an effort to make folks more healthy. Well according to this article in the D.C. Examiner it looks like former President Bill Clinton is also using his prestige as a former president to push through a similar effort within our school systems by pushing through an agreement in which snack-food vendors have to eliminate foods they offer to kids if their contents surpass a certain amount of sugar, sodium or various amounts of fat (Which includes that dreaded Trans-fat)in an effort to cut back on child obesity. Now while its all good and well to keep the health of our kids at a high level but the elimination of certain junk foods are not the solution. One solution is for the various to start removing all vending machines (Even if this means a loss of revenue to the school) from these schools thus eliminating all but the food in the lunch room(British PM Boris Johnson sums this up nicely in his most recent column in the Daily Telegraph) as well as reintroducing physical exercise to the curriculum thus making these kids get off their bums and do some sports, exercise and other things the don't seem to require kids to do. Another thing that this nanny state activism on behalf of President Clinton is that he fails to look at the main culprit of this is eating habits and exercise regiment of these kids which is a direct reflection on the parents who are the most important overseers of their children.

Former presidents can use their star-power to convince food companies to stop making certain foods but as long as the parents serve their children fast food and junk while keeping them glued to TVs watching Sponge-Bob Squarepants, Toonami as well as the continued playing of X-Box 360s and Playstations. Instead of letting them get fat and gaining bad habits the parents have got to be more hands on in what(More fruits, vegetables, fresh food, homemade not from a box) and how much they eat and they also need to keep them out of the house by turning them out in the yard to play(At least for country and suburban kids) or take them to a park, playground or a gym where they can run and burn off their fat thus preventing obesity. We can restrict food in the school all we want but the real root of the problem is with the adults who are raising these kids and allowing them to take on such traits and habits. Personal responsibility imbued on children by their parents is the best solution to child obesity rather the an encroaching nanny state with Bill Clinton, Hillary and Mayor Bloomberg.

It could work

Fire of Liberty

This is an interesting thought to ponder as you wait for the 7:45 p.m. kick-off of the TN vs. UGA game.

Three Cheers for PM John Howard

Fire of Liberty

Here's a shining example of why I'm proud to have Australia's Prime Minister John Howard on our side in our current War on Terror.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Green Lobby Doesn't Practice What They Preach

Fire of Liberty

One thing that bothers me the most about environmental elites like and the rest of the Green lobby is the way that they continue to tell America and the rest of the world to drive hybrids, use less electricity, or take less or no plane trips in order to prevent or slow down further global warming while at the same time they fail to practice what they preach. I'm all for individuals practicing their G-d given rights of Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness but when individuals keep on infringing on our rights by promoting stringent regulations and policies in order to create their own global warming utopia but this going way too far for me a most others with a conservative/libertarian bent.

Happy Tenth B-Day FOX News

Fire of Liberty
Catherine Seipp has a good piece over at Politics Central which notes the achievement of Fox News reaching its tenth year and why more folks in America tune to FNS each and every day.