Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Why oh why am I always right?


'Heavy fighting has been raging in Basra as thousands of Iraqi troops battle Shia militias in the southern city.
At least 12 people have died in the operation, which is being overseen in Basra by Iraqi PM Nouri Maliki, a day after he vowed to "re-impose law".'

It gets really tedious in the end, being right all the time. I said long long ago that sometime someday the shia militias (Mehdi Army, Badr Brigades, plus various other Iranian supported nutters) would need to be taken down. Just like the Republican Guard in Iran, Hezbollah and Hamas, these militias are either current or potential states-within-states ('...In Baghdad's Sadr City, Mehdi Army fighters reportedly ordered Iraqi police and soldiers out of the district') which both challenge the nation state and provide a microcosmic version of the state in one organisation. They are extremely destabilising (see Iran, Gaza and Lebanon for details) and quite hard to eliminate. My guess is, there is no 'soft power' way to dislodge them.

The British started the job, got into a bit of a pickle because they were seriously out-manned and often out-gunned, sheepishly gave up and spent the rest of the their time in Basra tiptoeing round the militias. Absolutely disastrous. This not only emboldened the latter, it demonstrated that militia creation was a going concern, and a bunch of amateurs showed up (many from Fallujah) and started new ones. There are now many many militias in Basra- every young gun has a choice of gangs to sign up to. The judgement made by the British government was that the carving up of Basra and its environs by militias, the butchering of civil society, just wasn't our business and even if it was, we just weren't going to engage in that mission.

If anti-war twats knew what they were talking about, they'd be all over that like an STD. As many commentators have pointed out, intervening in a country means the Pottery Barn rule comes into effect - you break it, its yours. We broke the government of Iraq, it was our job to fix it. You don't go in and then give up on the job because its too expensive or you have to kill too many militiamen. Thats the stuff to think about BEFORE you go in. The British government comes out of this very very badly. We skimped on the reconstruction money, we skimped on the boots-on-the-ground, and most importantly we skimped on the political will to do the hard job we were duty-bound to do. That shames me.

Contrast the comments of Iraqis in the South, and Iraqis everywhere else in Iraq. Only in the south is there pessimism about the future, and bitterness on a massive scale against the 'occupation'. Why? Because AGAIN we promised people to free them from the murderous bullies and then left them to the tender mercies of said bullies. If I were them, I'd never trust us again. Just at the moment the US ramped up its troops and moved them into every neighborhood in Central Iraq, the British were taking their forces down from a feeble 7,500 to a vanishingly small 2,500. Just as the last Sunni tribes decided discretion was the better part, the Shia militias Christmases all came at once. Enormous quantities of oil money are now pouring into their coffers, money that Hezbollah and Hamas can only dream of. What do you think they'll do with it? Build schools, hospitals and factories? We both know the answer to that.

So the poor old beleaguered Iraqi state is having to take on the battle-hardened, over-funded shia militias instead. What a disgrace. Where British troops, with their exceptional training and experience could have taken down the militias over a couple of years with moderate casualties and a very high kill rate, the Iraqi police and army will take decades and terrible casualties. Do the unmentionables in Whitehall and Downing street care? No. Not a bit. We should. Those Iraqi soldiers and policemen are dying mainly because we didn't do the task we entered into.

'...Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari told the BBC: "Militias have taken over almost the city and law and order has collapsed, although it is not a hopeless case because the government is taking measures to reverse the situation. Remember, Basra is the lifeline of Iraq. Most of Iraq's oil exports go through Basra." The people of southern Iraq will not forget how we failed them. Will we remember?

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Adding nothing to the sum of human knowledge


Why Did We Get It Wrong? Five years on, "liberal hawks" consider their support for the Iraq war.

Eh? I have a few problems with this project. Read down the list- 'How did I get Iraq wrong?' Well, unless you took the decision to intervene in Iraq, you didn't do anything. And the answer to the question, was President Bush and the Security Council wise to intervene in Iraq, that judgement is almost impossible to make in 2008. For one thing, the shooting hasn't stopped yet, the Iraqi central government has had virtually no opportunities to countervail some centripetal forces against the centrifugal ones currently dragging the country apart. Money from oil will be a big one of those, latent and present nationalism is another one. In twenty years, we might start to get the overall picture of how the Iraq intervention impacted on America, Iraq and the rest of the world. Right now thats impossible. We might come to see Iraq as a minor conflict in comparison with other events of the early 21st century- we just don't know yet.

Saying that, World War II is still brimful of contentious issues. How important was it to Britain and America to defeat Communist partisans while at the same time winning the war against German fascists, for instance? Is it possible that Britains SOE actually shopped some communists to the Gestapo? Not only possible but likely, in my view. Will it be possible in sixty years to write a history of Iraq that will be completely uncontroversial? Probably not. But right now, today, George W. Bush, the man who ordered the intervention is still President of the United States. There is no possibility of writing history, even its first draft, while the major players are STILL major players. Its not possible, and probably harmful.

Pretending to write history when you are actually writing political polemic is a really unhelpful thing to do. Especially when you lard into that professional ego and 'liberal' groupthink. What are you going to end up with? Something that adds to the overall understanding of Iraq in its last five years? I don't think so.

Worthless pap


I just gave a training course, and one of the course participants came in to the course room while I had a satirical American website open on my laptop. He launched into a rancid attack on it, because it was American. Now this website, The Onion (of fame) is a highly regarded website that lampoons many aspects of American life, including the general lack of geographical and historical knowledge of its denizens. Didn't matter to this guy. No no. It was American and therefore everything about it was stupid, substandard and fascistic.

That's also John Simpsons take on America. I have tracked his output over the last five years, as he is the Chief Correspondent for the BBC in Iraq. As he grandly tells us, he has spent almost a year of the last five there. Doesn't matter though- he made up his mind about this war when he started hating America sometime in the early sixties (my guess). As far as Mr Simpson is concerned, Americans just getting up in the morning constitutes a war crime. Should they decide to take their army and change history for people in another nation then there are no superlatives sufficient to damn them. He has thrown every kind of calumny at the Americans during this war- they are liars, sociopaths, drunk with greed, murderers, racists, thugs, boors, sexual predators and destroyers of 'native peoples'.

'I have witnessed a disturbing amount of death and injury, and several of my friends have lost their lives. Others have become refugees and asylum-seekers.

It has lasted almost as long as World War II and cost almost as much.

Only one of its original aims, the overthrow of Saddam Hussein, has been achieved.'

You can smell the grumpy portentousness. As a summary of the Iraq intervention, only the BBC would accept something this self-involved and arbitrary. With foolish optimism I read through this piece hoping there might be some actual information about the (real) state of Iraq, the latters (real) relationships with it neighbors, and the (many) knock-ons that intervening in Iraq has had on both the middle east, and further afield. Sadly, no.

'On Monday, Vice-President Dick Cheney came to Baghdad and talked about "the phenomenal improvement in security". That day more than 60 Iraqis were killed in bomb attacks.

He had to travel with unprecedented numbers of bodyguards, even though he never left the heavily defended Green Zone. Two mortar rounds hit the Zone while he was there.

None of this feels like a phenomenal improvement in security.'

Ok, kids, what do we call this logical fallacy? Taking two events, and making them illegitimately represent what is going on in a whole country is the fallacy of Hasty Generalisation. Saying that, most of what Simpson writes is one or other logical fallacy, most commonly that of Arguing from false premises. The premise in virtually all cases is that no matter what America does it is evil.

John Simpsons bile is so strong he can't hand over to us any new facts or information at all. The few 'facts' he presents us with are either commonalities which only the least observant will have failed to note previously, or cherry-picked evilnesses like Abu Ghraib. Why would anybody interested in the Iraq intervention read this pap? Only if, like my student, they were just interested in shouting obscenities at the Americans.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

My message to Al Qaeda


'Security minister Lord West has said it would be "silly" to have no communication link whatsoever with terrorist groups such as al-Qaeda.' Is he crazy? Oh, wait...

'However, Lord West said that any communication should be done on a "very careful, secret level" but he rejected the idea of formal talks.'

Whew! For a second there I thought he might give away the tip-top secret that we are having careful, secret-level meetings with Al Qaeda. Of course that would be insane, because then they'd be scrutinized by every tom dick and harry and a powerful searchlight of public interest.

Is it just me, or was the world run vastly more competently 100 years ago? I have a 'communication' for Al Qaeda. We've been kicking your ass for the last seven years, and we're going to kick your ass for the next seven, and the seven after that etc. until you're all dead. That is all.

Thursday, March 06, 2008

Useful idiot burblings

'Gaza's humanitarian situation is at its worst since Israel occupied the territory in 1967, say UK-based human rights and development groups.
They include Amnesty International, Save the Children, Cafod, Care International and Christian Aid.'
'They criticise Israel's blockade on Gaza as illegal collective punishment which fails to deliver security.'

What? 'fails to deliver security'? to whom? Israelis? Palestinians?

All the above named groups endanger themselves by choosing sides in this conflict. There's nothing morally wrong with choosing sides. But choosing sides comes with consequences. And if you choose sides and then a few months later try to pretend you are a disinterested third party, people will just laugh. You have joined a combatant camp, and will be treated as hostile.

Groups of people all over Britain are choosing sides- virtually all moslems in Britain are on the Arab/Palestinian side. Fine. But don't whinge when you lose, and don't think you can carry on a proxy Palestinian intifada in Britain. Choosing sides is a natural human thing to do. Sadly, as in many areas of modern life, people no longer want to bear the weight of the results of their choices. Amnesty Itnl used to have an averagely good reputation for being even handed, and criticising all abusers without discrimination. That is no longer the case, especially since Irene Zubaida Khan took charge. The name says it all really... dispassionate about Israel? pull the other one. As a result, lots of good, honest, caring folk no longer pay any attention to what they burble, sorry, say.

'they call upon Israel to comply with its obligations, as the occupying power in Gaza, to ensure its inhabitants have access to food, clean water, electricity and medical care, which have been in short supply in the strip.

"Punishing the entire Gazan population by denying them these basic human rights is utterly indefensible," said Amnesty UK Director Kate Allen.

"The current situation is man-made and must be reversed."'

Remember now, Gaza is a self-governing entity with an international border with Egypt, there are no Israeli soldiers in Gaza on most days, and Hamas are the elected government of Gaza. And yet... somehow its Israels responsibility to 'ensure [Gaza's] inhabitants have access to food, clean water, electricity and medical care, which have been in short supply in the strip.' Not Hamas's fault. No no. Not Egypts fault. No no. But the fault/responsibility of a country which most Gazans would happily see disappear under a series of mushroom clouds.

And here's an irony- a lot of Gazans who don't support Hamas have pointed out that they were actually MUCH better off when Israel ran Gaza, as the headline of this BBC story slyly indicates. Be careful what you wish for, people.

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Crazy situation without an obvious remedy


'The government has dismissed calls for a referendum on the Lisbon Treaty, two days ahead of a crunch House of Commons vote on the issue.
Europe Minister Jim Murphy told MPs it was up to Parliament to decide "the right thing to do".'

I avoid the great British EU debate most of the time, as most of the arguments on both sides are disingenuous. But this comment by the not at all estimable Jim Murphy does bring up an interesting point. If Parliament (651 Britons) chooses to give away its sovereign power to other people (the unelected European Commission) because it can because it has been vested with legitimate power by the voting populace... what should be done, and by whom? I see a large mob with torches, storming the Palace of Westminster, like in one of those peasant rebellions of the 14th century...

Is there any group of people, any political party, any individual, who will do something about this or not? And what will they do?

Time to act in Gaza


Being a student of history, I have noted that in the vast majority of cases when the weak take on the strong and say things like "their right to resist, to defend their people, is absolute" what they really mean is, we are happy to continue fighting until we are all dead. And again, in most cases, the strong usually say something along the lines of "fine, have it your way" and kill them all. If an Arab country had defeated its enemies in five major wars, how many of the defeated would still be walking around spouting triumphalist rhetoric?

At some point, the Palestinians are going to need a right good thumping. From an exemplary point of view, it is essential. In every Arab country (and Egypt and Turkey) there are tens of thousands of young men right now with no job, no prospects and no information but government propaganda about the Jewish pigdogs. Now that Hamas and Hezbollah have demonstrated on a number of occasions that they have worked out the strategy and the tactics to make Israel look like a fumbling psychotic butcher, the template is there for other groups to form and take on Israel. Israel will not be stopped by Hamas and Hezbollah, but by the Guardian and the New York Times.

For as long as the perception remains that these groups can act with impunity and any military response by Israel will immediately generate 'holocaust' stories across all of the 'free' world, the new tactics and strategy will be vindicated. But Israel does not really have the luxury of not defeating its enemies. Hanging some dead crows on the fence is an absolute necessity. Hamas, dedicated as they are to the obliteration of Israel, have to be prime candidates for the role. Gaza is a tough environment to fight in- look at the last major Israeli operations there if you need proof- but given that the process of Islamization is still at an early stage there, it must be worth the pain and effort to succeed.

Let it not be forgotten that despite the Hezbollah press releases, Israel was probably 7-14 days from annihilating them as a military force last year (as Hezbollah themselves have admitted). Overestimating your enemy is just as dumb as underestimating him. Although Hamas tactics (learned from the Iranian Revolutionary Guard, like Hezbollah before them) are sound, they die just like everybody else. And total Hamas fighting strength must be in the low thousands. It will not look good on TV, thats for sure, but Israel has no choice of battlefields. Hamas will ensconce themselves wherever the most civvy casualties will be caused, but again, Israel have no control of that. Unless they really smash Hamas into the ground, indubitably the rockets will not stop, and that is compeletely unacceptable.

There is no doubt that some of warfare and politics is theatre. And at the moment, Israel looks like a bumbling bear, swatting ineffectually at enemies it can't see. That image must be corrected if Israel wants peace. As President Bush would say, if you are going to be a bear, be a grizzly.

Sunday, March 02, 2008

Not a good plan. Ideas?

17 of 19 9/11 hijackers were Saudi. Osama Bin Laden- Saudi. Wahhabist money goes to every country where Moslems live from - Saudi. Now this

'Saudi nationals make up the largest element of the foreign al Qaeda fighters, according to al Qaeda documents seized by US forces and analyzed by West Point's Combating Terrorism Center. Based on documentation found during the October 2007killing of Muthanna, al Qaeda’s emir along the Iraq-Syrian border who was responsible for facilitating the entry of foreign terrorists, 41 percent of foreign fighters were from Saudi Arabia.' [http://www.longwarjournal.org/archives/2008/03/two_saudi_al_qaeda_o.php]

Between three countries, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia and Algeria most of the really murderous scum round the world emanates. Sometime we really have to start thinking what to do about Saudi Arabia other than dump enormous quantities of dollar bills into their laps.

Give us our BBC back, traitors


'Pilgrims targeted

The two attacks in Baghdad, which took place on 1 February, were the deadliest for months in the capital and were initially blamed on two mentally disabled women.

Iraqi security forces were ordered to detain beggars and mentally disabled people found on Baghdad's streets after fears that al-Qaeda in Iraq were attempting to recruit them.

A US military official later said that the two women who had carried out the bombings had undergone psychiatric treatment for depression and schizophrenia.'

Sometimes, stuff you read is so wrong you just don't know where to start. '...initially blamed on two mentally disabled women'???? Who did that? Who said that? Are you seriously suggesting that the US or Iraqi government accused a couple of mad women of blowing people on their own volition? And does initially blamed mean that now they've been exonerated? Eye-witnesses positively id'd the women, and their names and mental state corroborated from many sources. AQiI definitely conned/coerced/tricked these women into helping them. So what is this shit about 'initially blamed'? Just as now the BBC always put in provisos and disclaimers when they report NATO press releases from Afghanistan, to prove how 'objective' and 'even-handed' they are, while reporting Taliban claims of civilian casualties without any; the BBC also seems determined to find conspiracies and lies in Coalition information from Iraq. So what is all this 'initially blamed' shit?

Presumably, the BBC trusts the words of the people who send out mentally-ill women as human bombs and drive trucks full of terrible chemicals into villages that will no longer support them over the men and women of THEIR OWN ARMED FORCES. Its time to sweep the BBC vipers nest clean. The moonbats and the Britain-haters have taken over. I want my BBC back.

Just don't listen


The amazing world of lefty/media arguments about Israel. Hamas rocket attacks on Israel are not aggression. Israeli response to rocket attacks is aggression. If Israeli responses to Hamas rocket attacks are successful, they are disproportionate. If they are not successful, Israel is weak. If Hamas operatives hide in the civilian population, there is only the sound of crickets chirping and tumbleweed drifting by. If Israel kills Hamas terrorists in the middle of civilians, and some civilians die too, a mob of hysterical French and German and British and American journalists screech their displeasure. But remember, the mob never requires logic or reason or consistency.

The best thing for Israel to do is kill whoever it needs to kill to protect its citizens, and turn off the radio and don't bother reading the paper. There will never be a day when the Jew-haters give up their hobby. Israel will never be legitimate in many eyes, its sovereignty will always be denied, and its actions always held to the most ludicrous 'standards'. Like the Israeli General said, we live in a rough neighborhood, and we have to play rough. Correct.

BBC try to bum us all out with lies

Update to this story.


'February 29, 2008: The Taliban are having a bad Winter. The Pakistani army offensive against the Pakistani Taliban has cut off a source of reinforcements. Battles on the border, as Afghan and NATO troops catch Taliban crossing, have declined over a third. As a result, more foreign fighters are being found among dead and captured Taliban. The manpower shortage has caused the Taliban to abandon areas they had long maintained a presence in, particularly in Helmand province.'

Compare and contrast this information, based on US/NATO military intel with the vacuous ramblings of the BBC. I'm not sure whether/how many BBC correspondents are in Afghanistan, but I suspect they don't get out much. And if the BBC's reputation from Vietnam still holds true (cowardly, drunken, manage to get 'scoops' whilst 1000 miles from events etc) they are probably propping up the bar in Kabul. Harry probably knows more about whats going on than the 'reporters' of the BBC. Ironic really. There are war reporters who have a good reputation amongst serving personnel in the war zone, but none of them work for the BBC. John 'Fat boy' Simpson is no substitute for a real correspondent.