Military morale

August 31, 2007

If the war is Iraq is lost and our military is broken (according to Senator Reid and Representative Murtha, respectively), why are troops in Iraq re-enlisting in record numbers?

Multinational Corps-Iraq retention goals for fiscal 2007 were met Aug. 15, more than six weeks ahead of schedule.

“We’ve actually exceeded the goals,” said Master Sgt. Connie Davis, MNC-I command career counselor. “It was met today and we exceeded it already in our traditional categories.”

The traditional categories for reenlistment are initial (first reenlistment), mid-careerist and careerist Soldiers.

The theater-wide goal was 16,510, but MNC-I career counselor reenlisted 18,721 Soldiers.

So, MNC-I beat it’s goal by more than 13%. This is significant. Our services are all-volunteer, so these men and women don’t have to re-up if they don’t want to (with the caveat, Max Boot points out, of a “stop-loss” order). With Congress set to receive General Petraeus’ report on progress in Iraq in a few days, this is a strong indication that the people with the most experience in Iraq think the mission is worth continuing.

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Do we question their patriotism, their sense, or both?

August 31, 2007

Rocco DiPippo recently spent six months in Iraq managing the renovation and reconstruction of police stations near Baghdad. In that time, he got to know Iraqis well and came to realize the importance of mutual trust to the success of our efforts there, and how the efforts of the Copperheads Democrats and the anti-war Left in the US are seriously undermining that trust, and thus endangering the mission: Looking Iraqis in the Eye.

So it is with the effort to stabilize Iraq – without trust and respect between coalition and Iraqi security forces and ordinary Iraqis, no amount of weaponry or diplomacy will succeed in bringing peace there. And nothing can accelerate that process more than a firm commitment from the US that it will stand side-by-side with the Iraqi security forces, and with ordinary Iraqis, until peace and stability is at hand – no matter how long that takes to achieve.

Unfortunately, since the invasion of Iraq in 2003, the Democratic Party, the leftist media and the nation’s cultural elite as a whole have done little to help build trust between America and Iraq. Indeed, they have done exactly the opposite, filling the airwaves and the front pages of US newspapers with endless negative messages: the experiment to bring democracy to Iraq is a total failure; US soldiers are psychopaths and murderers; President Bush is a greater threat to the world than those who torture and murder innocent Iraqis; the US presence in Iraq is the problem, not part of the solution, to ending the 30 years of brutality that Iraqis endured under the boot of Saddam; the game is over – al-Qaeda and other terrorist groups have won and the Iraqis and Americans have lost.

Who can say that the morale of ordinary Iraqis and American soldiers was not damaged when one of the most powerful men in America, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, stood in front of the world and declared, “I believe… that this war is lost.” Who can expect them to ignore the defeatist postures of men and women like John Kerry, Richard Durbin, Edward Kennedy, John Murtha, Jack Reed, John Conyers and Nancy Pelosi? Who can forget the media deification of people like Cindy Sheehan and groups like International A.N.S.W.E.R and Code Pink, who are far more concerned with pushing a radical social and political agenda than they are with bringing peace and stability to Iraq?

Whenever defeatists like Senators Reid or Kerry or "activists" like Sean Penn are criticized for harming the war effort, they hide behind a shield of wounded honor and cry "how dare you question my patriotism? I love my country!" Yet, as DiPippo so eloquently shows, their constant carping about the war, their repeated demands to set a timetable to pull out have an effect on Iraqi morale and their willingness to stick their necks out to help us. I’ve seen this reported time and again over the last couple of years in reports from independent journalists such as Michael Totten and Michael Yon — many Iraqis are reluctant to help because they aren’t sure they can trust us.

As much as it pains me to write this, they have good reasons for their doubt and caution. Not just because of the god-awful brutality they experienced under Saddam’s rule, but from American history, too. In 1975, we abandoned South Vietnam; millions in Southeast Asia died as a result. In 1991, we encouraged the Shia and the Kurds to rise against Saddam and, when they did, we did nothing to help. Tens of thousands died while we stood by and watched. Less than a score of Americans were killed in the 1993 "Black Hawk down" incident in Mogadishu, yet we ran.

And now with Harry Reid saying the war is lost just weeks after voting to fund the (so far successful) surge and John Murtha telling every Sunday talk-show that will have him that "our military is broken," is it any wonder that Iraqis who might want to help us instead hang back, fearful that we’ll leave them swinging in the wind — again?

It is one thing to be opposed to the invasion and liberation of Iraq: good, intelligent, honorable people can believe this, yet still also believe it is not in the United States’ interests to lose, once committed. Men like Congressman Brian Baird, who voted against the original authorization to use force and still thinks it was a bad idea, but who now is convinced we have to see the fight through.

It is another thing altogether, however, for American elected officials and American media leaders to do everything in their power to bring about their nation’s defeat by smearing its military; making wild, unfounded accusations against the president; revealing vital national security operations in wartime; and providing a steady diet of slanted, anti-war coverage almost since before the Iraq operation began. In short, by doing everything they can to break the nation’s will to continue all for their own short-term electoral interests. For that, I do indeed question the patriotism of the Democratic Party leadership, their allies in the mainstream media, and our so-called cultural elites.

The only real question, frankly, is whether this lack of patriotism is due to maliciousness, stupidity, or both.

 


Fred, finally

August 30, 2007

Fred Thompson’s national political director has announced that the former Tennessee senator will officially become a candidate for President on September 6th.

While I lean toward Giuliani, I welcome Thompson’s entry into the race. He’s a thoughtful commentator on the issues America faces, and I think the race for the nomination will become more serious with him in it.

At least, I hope so. The "debates" so far have been little more than jokes — boring ones at that. Cut them down to the top 4-5 candidates and let them question each other: then things will get interesting.

As for what effect this will have on the races, I’m not sure. Fred’s been treated as a declared candidate by pundits for months now, and the polls show him in a steady second behind Giuliani. Unless Rudy stumbles or Fred really shines after declaring, I don’t expect this to change much.

And if they stay 1-2 through the convention, that would give a Giuliani-Thompson ticket a lot of appeal.

Current Public Secrets preferences:

  1. Rudy Giuliani
  2. Thompson
  3. Romney (but only very slightly behind Thompson)
  4. McCain

As for the Democrats, well, let’s just say they finish third in a two-person race.

LINKS: Ed at Captain’s Quarters thinks Fred’s forthcoming announcement will liberate him from campaign finance law restraints on what he can say before becoming an official candidate.


Wishful thinking

August 30, 2007

Historian Andrew Roberts on the 110th Congress:

“Certainly as a Briton, I only wish your 1776 Congress had contained as many Murthas, Obamas and Pelosis as your present one does: George Washington would not have stood a chance in his long, drawn-out, and desperate struggle against my countrymen.”

(hat tip: Britain and America)


Sadr comes to his senses?

August 29, 2007

It looks like Iranian stooge radical Iraqi cleric Moqtada al-Sadr has blinked in his confrontation with US and Iraqi forces: Militia in “freeze”

Anti-American cleric Muqtada al-Sadr took his Mahdi Army out of action for up to six months Wednesday to overhaul the feared Shiite militia – a stunning move that underscores the growing struggles against breakaway factions with suspected ties to Iran.

A spokesman for al-Sadr said the order also means the Mahdi Army would suspend attacks against U.S. and other coalition forces.

If true, this is yet another  major step toward calming Iraq, along with the damage done to al-Qaeda in Mesopotamia by the surge and the turning of Baathist holdout Izzat Ibrahim al-Douri. While the fight with AQIM has received most of the press’s attention in recent months, the Coalition has been fighting Sadr’s militia off and on since 2004, when Sadr launched his rebellion at Karbala and Najaf. For a long time, Sadr’s been riding high with Iranian support — his party even became a part of the government, until it recently withdrew in a power-play.

But now he has good reason to seek a truce: his tail-tucked-between-legs run for Iran last January when the US announced the surge did not impress Iraqis, to whom machismo and personal honor are important. He looked like he was afraid of the Americans. (Probably because he was. -ed. It was just a strategic redeployment.) His stay in Iran loosened his control over the growing factions in his army, making many wonder if he was still in total control. As Bill Roggio reports, the Iranians had even taken over direct supervision of some Mahdi Army special units, cutting out the pudgy middleman. And, for the last year, the Americans have been working to separate the more moderate (less nuts?) factions of the Mahdi Army from al-Sadr, hoping to turn them into functional allies as several Sunni militias have become, or to get them to at least stay neutral. Either event would weaken Sadr’s power.

But these are just trends. Yesterday an event occurred that was probably the catalyst for Mookie’s sudden embrace of peace: the Shiite Mahdi Army attacked  another Shiite militia protecting a Shiite crowd celebrating a Shiite holy day in a Shiite holy city, leading to the deaths of many Shiites. Not the smartest thing to do when you’re trying to present yourselves as defenders of the Shia:

The announcement by al-Sadr – who formed the militia after the fall of Saddam Hussein in 2003 – appeared aimed at distancing himself from suspected Iranian-backed Mahdi factions he can no longer control. It also sought to deflect criticism for his followers’ perceived role in this week’s fighting in Karbala that aborted a Shiite religious festival and claimed more than 50 lives.

Thousands of pilgrims fled in terror as fighting erupted Tuesday between Mahdi Army members and security forces linked a rival Shiite militia, the Badr Brigade.

So, Mookie orders a “freeze” in order to reassert his control and prevent any other incidents that could place him and his movement in grave danger. (Or, at least, give himself deniability when something does happen.) But, is it genuine? It could just be a temporary truce, a hudna to give his faction time to regain strength, or he could have decided that continuing on the same course was not in his interests, politically or physically. Perhaps he’s decided to rejoin the political system with those portions of the Mahdi Army he still controls and gradually turn them into a political party. The level of violence in Iraq and Sadr’s future relations with Iran will tell us which.

LINKS: More at Captain’s Quarters and Power Line.

 


Dropping all pretense of objectivity

August 28, 2007

Freedom’s Watch is a new organization formed to raise public and congressional support for continuing the war effort in Iraq. With General Petraeus’ crucial report on military progress in Iraq coming up in a matter of days, Freedom’s Watch is buying time on the major cable networks to get their message out. You can see the ads here. To me, these are perfectly reasonable advocacy ads of the type we see every day, no different from ads run by left-of-center organizations on many topics, including the war.

Yet MSNBC and CNBC refuse to run them. John at Power Line reprints Ari Fleischer’s letter to NBC questioning the reason for their refusal:

We understand that MSNBC and CNBC (the “Networks”) are refusing to sell advertising time to Freedom’s Watch (“FW”) to air a series of educational advertisements. It is our understanding that the purported basis for the denial is a Network policy denying access to groups that wish to sponsor advertising on controversial issues of public importance.

(…)

FW has requested time on your networks to air advertisements discussing the War Against Terrorism. Your reporters and commentators discuss this issue on your programs at every hour of the day so you clearly agree this is an issue of great public importance. FW’s advertisements, to be sure, present a view of this debate that rounds out your coverage. These ads feature Iraq War Veterans and their families discussing their sacrifices in personal terms and their belief that we must allow the military time to complete its mission in Iraq and seek victory. This is a side of this issue that should not be silenced by national cable networks. We believe that rather than censor these American heroes, you should let the American public hear their story.

Considering the advocacy ads these networks have run in the past and the evident anti-war bias of their reporting (Keith Olbermann, anyone?), this incident should shred the last remnants of any claim that at least these two representatives of the media elite and their NBC parent are in any way objective or even operating in the public interest.


Gort, save us!

August 28, 2007

Not only does this show the major movie studios’ creative bankruptcy, but Keanu Reeves’ as Klaatu??

Variety reports that actor Keanu Reeves has signed onto Twentieth Century Fox’s remake of the 1951 science fiction classic The Day the Earth Stood Still, to be directed by Scott Derrickson (The Exorcism of Emily Rose) from a script by David Scarpa. Reeves will be playing the part of Klaatu, a humanoid alien who arrives on Earth accompanied by an indestructible, heavily armed robot and a warning to world leaders that their continued aggression will lead to annihilation by species watching from afar. The production is looking at a late fall or early 2008 start as a planned tentpole for the studio.

Michael Rennie was wonderful in the role because of the wise, calm, bemused-by-Earthmen way he played Klaatu. Reeves won’t be calm, wise, or slightly bemused. He’ll just be flat, because he sucks as a actor. Gort the robot had a greater range of expressions.

Anyone one want to guess at the odds that this new version will be turned into a gore-fest, too?

Bah. Why can’t Hollywood leave alone movies that were done right the first time? Is there such a shortage of good, original scripts out there?

Bah.