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