Another honest liberal!

In a new comment on an old posting, Blubonnet wrote:

    You are wrong to assume that supporting our troops has to mean supporting the war!!!

The old article was An honest liberal, referring to Joel Stein’s article in The Los Angeles Times:

Warriors and wusses

I DON’T SUPPORT our troops. This is a particularly difficult opinion to have, especially if you are the kind of person who likes to put bumper stickers on his car. Supporting the troops is a position that even Calvin is unwilling to urinate on.

But I’m not for the war. And being against the war and saying you support the troops is one of the wussiest positions the pacifists have ever taken — and they’re wussy by definition. It’s as if the one lesson they took away from Vietnam wasn’t to avoid foreign conflicts with no pressing national interest but to remember to throw a parade afterward.

Well, now comes another one. Jeremy Hammond wrote An Open Letter to Senator Carl Levin:

Dear Senator Levin,

You wrote, in your recent correspondence, that you told the servicemen and women in Iraq “that Congress and the American people are proud of them and back them one hundred percent…” Since you presume to be speak for not only your constituents, such as myself, but for the American people in general, I think it is incumbent upon you to explain what it means to be “proud” of the troops in Iraq, and what it means to “back them one hundred percent.”

Is not to say that one is “proud” of the soldiers also to say that one is proud of what they have accomplished? In this case, what has been accomplished is a war of aggression, defined as “the supreme international crime” at Nuremberg. Are Americans proud of this? Should they be proud of this? Are we to “back” this “one hundred percent”? Should we? Why should Americans be “proud” of soldiers who participate voluntarily and willingly in a war of aggression? Why should we “back” such a crime “one hundred percent”? What is there to be “proud” of in that? What is there to be “proud” of about a heinous international crime containing within itself numerous lesser war crimes? Shall we be “proud” of the estimated 600,000 Iraqis that have been killed as a result of this crime? Shall we “back” this violence “one hundred percent”? Shall we be “proud” of the chaos Iraq has been thrown into as a result of this crime? Should we “back” it “one hundred percent”? Or perhaps we should be “proud” of these soldiers because they obey orders?

Mr Hammond goes on to claim that he supported the troops right up until the invasion, by attempting to sway public opinion in a manner to stop the invasion in the first place.

Another principle enshrined at Nuremberg is that “individuals have international duties which transcend the national obligations of obedience imposed by the individual state…. The true test…is not the existence of the order, but whether moral choice was in fact possible.”

I, for one, am proud of those members of our armed services who have courageously stood up and refused, saying, “I will not fight an unjust war predicated upon lies and deceptions.” Among those who have gone to Iraq, I am proud of those who have spoken out against crimes and abuses they have seen there. I am proud of those who used their position to prevent or mitigate further atrocities and further violence, rather than willfully escalating them or doing nothing; men like Joseph M. Darby, who acted with the modicum of decency and morality necessary to report the abuses he witnessed at Abu Ghraib to his superiors in order to try to put an end to it.

Mr Hammond apparently believes that our soldiers are all guilty of war crimes, by the very act of participating in the war. He seems to be unaware that the Nuremburg trials did not indict or convict common Wehrmacht soldiers for fighting in the war; Nuremburg was reserved for the captured leaders of the Third Reich.

But one wonders what he would have our soldiers do? The invasion was ordered, properly in my view, by the elected civilian leadership of the United States. That Mr Hammond disagreed with that decision is his right, but one wonders what he can want now, save a military coup d’etat against the civilian leadership with which he disagrees.

George Bush will be president of the United States until noon on January 20, 2009, at which time his term will have ended and he will lawfully and peacefully surrender power to his duly elected successor. I’m sorry* that Mr Hammond does not like that timetable, but that’s life; get over it.

But Messrs Stein and Hammond have come to grips with one important point: to support the troops is to wish to see them successful, because it is only by success that they secure their safety. To wish that their mission fails is to wish greater death among them, more wounds and debilitating injuries.

Let’s put it bluntly: success in combat is achieved by killing the enemy; failure in combat means that your own troops have been killed. Supporting the troops means that you must support their mission; these things are inseparable.

The mission in Iraq was to remove the Ba’ath Party regime, disarm the Iraqi military, and establish freedom and a stable democracy there. The first two missions have been accomplished; the third is proving more difficult than we had hoped. When Mr Hammond says that he opposed the war, when Mr Stein said that he opposed the mission, they said, in effect, that they wanted to see Saddam Hussein and his murderous regime stay in power, that they wanted to see the Iraqi military retain its weaponry, and that they do not want to see freedom and democracy come to Iraq.

That last part is the most important. Regardless of what anyone thinks of it, the invasion happened, and cannot be undone. Saddam Hussein is in jail, and the other Ba’ath Party leaders are for the very most part either in jail or in Hell. The Iraqi military has been disarmed and is no threat to any of its neighbors. First two parts are Mission Accomplished. These are good things, even if Messrs Hammond and Stein do not approve of how they were accomplished.

Which brings us to what is left to be accomplished: bringing real freedom and democracy to Iraq. We’ve made some progress and we’ve seen some setbacks there, but to be opposed to our mission in Iraq is, at this point, to oppose freedom and democracy for the people of Iraq. Do Messrs Hammond and Stein prefer the alternatives, of slavery and dictatorship? If one opposes freedom and democracy, what else is there?

It is one thing for people to oppose President Bush and the methods he attempts to use to achieve our country’s goals. One can easily say that he supports the idea of freedom for everyone but that he does not think an invasion of Iraq will either produce such, or can produce such at an acceptable cost. But once the mission has been undertaken, that option closes: the war is joined, whether successfully or not, and to oppose the war and the mission of the troops at this point is to support their defeat in the field and the success of tyranny.
*- No, that’s a lie; I’m not at all sorry that Mr Hammond doesn’t like it. :)

Cross posted (and promoted to the front page) on Red State.

Thugocrats on the Bench

Who and what is John G. Koeltl ?

He is a Federal judge who gave a slap on the wrist to Leftist mouthpiece Lynn Stewart. She was going far beyond her duty as a defense attorney in serving as a conduit for information for an incarcerated terrorist. Stewart is a full-time radical termagant whose actions make Ramsey Clark appear moderate.

Yet why would the judge think so kindly of her? Consider his background. He is a Clinton appointee. Whenever a thug or terrorist is cut a break by a Judge, there is a 20:1 chance that the thug hugger in black robes in a Clinton or Carter appointee. There are a few Republican mistakes on the bench, but they are that, mistakes. Thugocrats do protect and promote their own. They do so consistently and they will accept no change to this dismal status quo.

Why be surprised?

If you have a soft spot in your heart for killers and terrorists, vote Democrat and be sure. Otherwise, vote Republican and hope for some incremental change for the better.

Note how Democrats in the Senate did their worst to block any judicial appointee who might have been to the right of Earl Warren.

Dealing with a madman

What options are there for dealing with Kim Junior? He is a threat to regional stability and has impoverished a potentially prosperous nation with his inept governance.

The treatment afforded the late Allende would seem ideal and could be done without loss of human life. Yet in such a closed society, that option is unlikely. Military action in for form of surgical strikes might work, but is their sufficient human intelligence to allow the proper targets to be hit? Unilateral or even bilateral military action seems unlikely, given the shortage of domestic political capital.

Bismarck faced a similar dilemma in his effort to unite Germany (with the King of Prussia as the new Emperor). There was broad popular appeal for such unification, but a constitutional union with a monarch restricted by a powerful legislature was out of the question. Warfare (albeit of limited scope) was the answer. A mini-war against Denmark to prevent some provinces with substantially ethnic German populations from being formally incorporated into Denmark was the first step. Austria supported Prussia, but was the enemy in the next war. It was not a grand conflict but Prussia defeated a nation far stronger on maps and in numbers. These wars seemed to have drained the Chancellor of popular support for another war or wars. But Bismarck got his war, a war with the Empire of Napoleon III. The nephew of the real Napoleon sought a heroic contest and seemed to believe that the fragmented German kingdoms, cities, bishoprics, and principality would split along religious lines and allow little Prussia to be defeated. Napoleon allowed himself to be maneuvered into starting the war and all Germany stood against him. Boney III went into exile in England (with his son and heir dying heroically and foolishly in the Zulu Wars) and Germany became an Empire. Regrettably, the victors stole back Alsace and Lorraine and ensured that France would remain an enemy.

It may well be that Kim will be goaded into making a first strike, one of sufficient violence to unite most of the world against him in a terminal struggle that will forever extinguish his line.

The unwanted puppies at the pound

    U.S. faces obstacles to freeing detainees
    Allies block returns from Guantanamo

    By Craig Whitlock

    Updated: 12:39 a.m. ET Oct 17, 2006
    BERLIN – British Foreign Secretary Margaret Beckett last week issued the latest European demand to close down the U.S. military prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. The existence of the prison is “unacceptable” and fuels Islamic radicalism around the world, she said, echoing a recent chorus of complaints from Europe about U.S. counterterrorism policy.

    Behind the scenes, however, the British government has repeatedly blocked efforts to let some prisoners leave Guantanamo and return home.

    According to documents made public this month in London, officials there recently rejected a U.S. offer to transfer 10 former British residents from Guantanamo to the United Kingdom, arguing that it would be too expensive to keep them under surveillance. Britain has also staved off a legal challenge by the relatives of some prisoners who sued to require the British government to seek their release.

The article continues to note that other European governments which have been publicly critical of our detentions at Guantanamo have privately been refusing to accept their own nationals when the US has proposed releasing them. And you’ll just love this next paragraph:

    In addition, virtually every country in Europe refused to grant asylum to several Guantanamo prisoners from China who were not being sent home because of fears they could face political harassment there. The Balkan nation of Albania agreed to take in five of the Chinese in May, but only after more than 100 other nations rebuffed U.S. pleas to accept them on humanitarian grounds, State Department officials said.

So many of our liberal friends want Guantanamo shut down, but, for some odd reason, it seems that a lot of countries which have claimed that we shouldn’t be holding these prisoners would rather not have them back themselves.

Personification of Evil

The last 100 years has had its share of demons who served as heads of state. In World War I, Kaiser Willie was portrayed as such but this was so much wartime hyperbole and he was afforded exile in Holland and died a natural death. He was more foolish than evil.

We soon saw true evil in the form of Lenin and Stalin, men whose almost religious faith in an inherently flawed system justified the use of terror. Stalin was hampered by a paranoia that caused millions of his supporters to be killed quickly or slowly in counterproductive purges. Another slow and incremental mass murder in Ukraine took millions of lives and has been tossed into a virtual memory hole by professors of a revisionist history whose loyalty is to a party line rather than truth.

We are permitted to loathe Hitler as an embodiment of evil. His racial ideas and effort at world domination cost millions of lives and provided a measure of unintended support to Stalinist goals. Yet Hitler avoided imposing domestic deprivation on the German people far too long in a war of his making. The partners in the Atlantic Alliance imposed much more severe rationing and allocation of resources on a free people who did not rebel against imposed shortages. There was a vital war to win.

The postwar period saw a man whose fanatical faith in Marxism impose a genocide in Cambodia that was utterly senseless. A person might be deemed a ‘dangerous intellectual’ on the basis of wearing glasses, a suspicion that often led to execution. This madness resulted in domestic, state-sanctioned murder of unparalleled proportions.

North Korea has produced a dynasty of madmen. The foolish postwar partition of the Korean peninsula was followed by an idiotic withdrawal of men and matériel from south of the 38th parallel. While removal of American forces from the region made domestic political sense, failure to leave the South Koreans heavy weapons was utter folly. It was based on a belief that South Korea might invade northward if the weapons were available. Both Secretary of State Dean Acheson and General Douglas MacArthur made statements that tempted an invasion from the North. A brilliant defense thwarted the invasion but the advance to the Yalu River was a mistake. After long negotiations, an approximation of status quo ante was achieved.

South Korea has prospered but the North is saddled with a huge military regime that has little defensive purpose. It does shore up the Kim regime and demands most of the resources of a starving country. The current dictator has the appearance and behavior of a madman. A recent satellite photograph of the Korean Peninsula after nightfall showed one spot of light from the north and a glittering south.

A policy of appeasement during the Clinton Administration seemed to have restored a measure of international calm in the region but this was misleading. A people starve while a pampered and superfluous military struts about parade grounds. Missile and nuclear device tests seem to have resulted in fumbles but the effort continues.

When the United States first developed nuclear weapons, a lot of theoretical research was needed to develop an underlying technology. The difficult task of extracting or creating fissile material demanded a huge industrial base that was created from scratch. Two different weapons designs were created. One was not tested before being used, the other was evaluated (in device form) at the Trinity test at Alamagordo. The device was then compacted into a deliverable weapon and one of each type was dropped on Japan to demonstrate the folly of maintaining a state of war.

The basic plans for building a nuclear weapon are available. The applied research and materials are another matter. It appears that economic considerations forced the Kim regime to build the more complex device and technical surveillance indicates a less than optimum yield. Yet scarce resources can be channeled to improving performance for the next test.

But to what end? North Koreans can look south and see a prosperous and well-fed people. What makes the difference in their lives but a madman who believes in what has been proven by history to be the economic equivalent of alchemy.

The dictator’s last breath should lead to a cool wind of freedom for a troubled people and a threatened region.

Appeasement is not the answer.

The Lancet numbers and reality

My friend Gordo, who very much disagrees with me on the war in Iraq, referenced the following story on his site:

    Dozens Of Iraqis Killed in Reprisals
    River Towns Trade Sectarian Strikes As Militias Move In

    By Ellen Knickmeyer and Muhanned Saif Aldin
    Washington Post Foreign Service
    Monday, October 16, 2006; Page A01

    BAGHDAD, Oct. 15 — Militias allied with Iraq’s Shiite-led government roamed roads north of Baghdad, seeking out and attacking Sunni Arab targets Sunday, police and hospital officials said. The violence raised to at least 80 the number of people killed in retaliatory strikes between a Shiite city and a Sunni town separated only by the Tigris River.

    The wave of killings around the Shiite city of Balad was the bloodiest in a surge of violence that has claimed at least 110 lives in Iraq since Saturday. The victims included 12 people who were killed in coordinated suicide bombings in the strategic northern oil city of Kirkuk.

However, Gordo is also one of those who has written that conservatives don’t want to see the Lancet study (Wingnuts Attempt to Debunk Iraq Deaths Survey, also posted here.), which claims that there have been 655,000 war-related deaths in Iraq, above and beyond the amount of death that would normally be expected from natural causes.

But then Gordo noted the story from The Washington Post which called the killing of about 80 people a “wave of killings,” as though this was something big. It certainly seems as though it’s big — unless you are persuaded that the Lancet numbers are accurate, in which case Iraq should have been averaging slightly more than 500 war-related deaths every single day since the invasion began.

The math is simple:

    655,000 deaths ÷ 1300 days* = 503.8 deaths per day.

The Washington Post told us that:

    a surge of violence that has claimed at least 110 lives in Iraq since Saturday.

Surge means, in this usage, “to increase suddenly.” But if The Washington Post found 110 deaths to be a sudden increase, that would mean they normally see fewer than 110 war-related killings per day. If we are to believe the Lancet study, 110 deaths in a day would be a tremendous decrease in the number of killings.

The obvious answer is that we can’t believe the Lancet study: the numbers produced are simply not realistic. Just last June our liberal friends were touting a claim that there had been 50,000 Iraqis killed as a result of the invasion; if the numbers had really been in line with what Lancet claimed, no one would have made a claim of 50,000, because there’d be bodies piled up everywhere.

The 50,000 number was at least credible: that would have meant roughly 42 war-related deaths per day. That number was higher than the Bush Administration’s estimate, but was within the range of credulity, within a range that could be reasonably supported by reports of deaths from many sources; it was a number that could be justified, perhaps with a bit of a stretch, from what we were seeing on CNN. There was no serious dissent from the 50,000 number precisely because it was at least credible.

Unfortunately, our friends on the left have seen a report that would have us believe that there have been thirteen times the number of deaths that was in a previously credible report — and because that report satisfied their political agenda, too many of them have accepted it uncritically.

Cross posted on Red State.
*- 1,300 is a rough count of the days: I selected a round number so that the math wouldn’t change slightly every subsequent day.

The Lancet study numbers and the wisdom of the decision to invade Iraq

Gordo of Appletree and The Liberal Avenger wrote an article concerning the Lancet study, which claims that some 655,000 Iraqis have been killed as a result of the war. I posted the following comment on Gordo’s site, which I have edited and expanded a bit here. Continue reading ‘The Lancet study numbers and the wisdom of the decision to invade Iraq’ »