helm's alee

The Helmsman announces that the tiller has been moved to the leeward side, the vessel's bow will now cross the wind and move on to the oppasite tack. The sails must be shifted to the other side of the vessel and trimmed for best performance on the new course. Tacking is the result of a desire to reach a destination that is upwind of one's current position. Tacking is life.

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Location: The shores of Lake Erie, the buckle of the rust belt, United States

An actual American guy.

Sunday, March 04, 2007

Friday, November 17, 2006

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Iraq and the midterm election results

OK, so what does this mean relative to Iraq?
I have avoided reading other blogs so that I could assess this myself. If I sound like others you have read, it's a function of like minds.
first, what will Bush do? I believe he will offer the Democrats congratulations and make public statements that sound like "We have to work with these people".
Will he change direction? No, I honestly doubt he will. He will continue to pound away at the same prinicples:
(1) the Radical Muslims are a threat that we must take seriously.(2) we will use diplomacy when it is the best choice.(3) we will fight if we must.(4) The ultimate solution to the problem is freedom and democracy in the Muslim dominated regions.
I don't expect much deviation from that at all.
What will the democrats do? The Democrats will step on their dicks. One quick read of Bayam's comment and this becomes obvious. They have rushed in like fools at every "outrage" and been hammered each time. If they launch "investigations" it will cost them politically. Why?(1) Ned Lamont Lost, and big. That shows that the fringe left is NOT who put the Democrats over the top. The Democrat party operatives understand this. They have a tenuous grip on the votes of the disaffected middle. Making a hard left turn now will damage that.(2) The Republicans will fight back hard. By casting the Democrats raving mania as an obstacle to progress on the people's business they will place the Democrats in a tough situation. If they pursue this now, it will used as a tool against them in 08.(3) The President has nothing to hide and investigations will prove that. Again, this is all just the return of the son of the Downing Street Minutes. Just look at Bayam's own words: they are going to investigate the relationship between the Admin and the generals. Huh? One possible Republican response: "Once again the Democrat party is demonstrating that it is not serious. by damaging the morale of our fighting forces they are making the US vulnerable."(4) John Conyers, the likely point man, will face a withering political barrage. Chalk it up to "sauce for the goose". I have questions concerning the nature of Conyers congressional district myself. How difficult will it be to raise allegations concerning his true loyalties?(5) The underlying theme for the Democrats is the White House in 08. That is the lens through which every decision made by the Democrats will be viewed.
And of course, what will the terrorists do? These guys have, as we've heard a million times, never missed an opportunity to miss an opportunity. Hamas is already declaring and end to the "truce" a truce they violated daily btw. hezbullah is rearming and attempting to bring down the elected government in Lebannon. the violence in B-dad is perhaps systemic and will consume everyone who tries to control it until the bad guys do the jacobin thing and cart their own leaders to the guillotine.
When this happens, the Democrats will face a huge political crisis. If Lebannon goes back to war, UNIFIL will be a notable failure. This failure will be attached quite clearly to the Democrats preffered policy option: international co operation.
When war between Israel and hamas is rekindled the Democrats, who are now in something of a leadership position will HAVE to take a position. Again, their preferred option of international co operation will be viewed as unworkable.
The Iranians are the wild card here. But this situation is a muslim free for all. If enough of these splinter groups create enough of an onslaught against our civilization, the Democrats are in trouble unless they go to war again. As it is, the quotes of the various muslim thug leaders urging Americans to vote Democrat will figure prominently in Republican advertising.
Oh, one other thing. Let's assume for a moment that the MSM is in fact agenda driven. Is it possible that they have achieved their short term goal? If so, would they not back off the negative coverage of the Iraq war to gain some breathing space for their fledgling majority in the house? It's possible and I wouldn't be surprised at all.
since my opinion is that most of the Iraq is in crisis crap is about us and not the Iraqis, the effort in Iraq loses some of its attraction as a political tool for the MSM.

Saturday, September 23, 2006

The cost of war

Much has been made of the "cost" of our war against terror. Using the cold calculus of the anti victory crowd the point at which the number of deaths in Iraq equals the number of deaths on 9/11 will be a "seminal" event. But why?

Part of the reason is simple denial. Here's the "logic" of denial: There is no threat. Since there is no threat no action need be taken relative to threat therefore anything done in the name of ending this non existent threat is a waste.

But I suspect that there is another dynamic here. Many of the people who use the cost/benefit analysis criticism (and there are millions of them) simply don't understand war.

A man who truly understood war was Dwight Eisenhower. As luck would have it I own three books written by Ike. In one, Crusade in Europe, Ike describes an exchange between a staff officer and a General. This was early in war immediately after the invasion of Northern Africa.

Brigadier General Lunsford E Oliver (nobody names their sons Lunsford anymore, such a pity) was attempting to comply with Ike's orders to support the British fighting Oran by bringing his command, Combat Command B (from the 1st Armored Division) to the front. He had decided that the local railroad could not handle the load and was attempting to secure "half-tracks" as transports.

Half tracks were a hermaphrodite vehicle with wheels in front and treads in the rear. Hence the name. This general's request was refused by a staff officer because this single troop movement would consume half the useful life on the vehicles!

In the book Ike explains that the staff officer was using a peace-time mentality, when stretching the useful life of assets was important because funding was iffy and stuff had to last. Ike described it this way " He had not yet accepted the esssential harshness of war; he did not realize that the word is synonymous with waste, nor did he understand that every positive action requires expenditure." (Crusade in Europe, 1948, doubleday, page 119)

Ike was a COMMANDER. It was his job to determine when the expenditure of assets would achieve the greatest results and "when this has been determined, then asstes must be spent with a lavish hand..." He gave Oliver his orders within five minutes.

it would seem to me that the strength of the committment to the war on terror can be measured by the amount of our resource we are willing to expend to win. This stands another favored anti victory meme on its head. Often we hear about "it's not really a war because not everbody is called to make sacrifice". This of course is liberal newspeak for "tax cuts for the rich" Yet we are contending with this threat at the same time that we are spending lavishly on domestic entittlement programs and building a space station. Can we honestly afford all this?

Which brings us to the next little bit of newspeak "We are spending our children's money on a foolish venture in Iraq". This particular meme combines the cost/benefit meme with the "children are the future" meme. Of course those who hurl this particular guilt grenade rarely consider what future our children would face should we fail to confront the evil of our time. The inheritance might just be liberty and prosperity, but it could also be an islam inspired nuclear winter.

Friday, September 22, 2006

Dawnfire, thanks for your response to anonymous.
Once again Tom, let me repeat: you're complaining about the actions in Iraq simply demonstrate your ignorance of the way wars are fought.
Let's stay with the Hitler analogy because you seem to dislike it so. Imagine yourself as you are now but living in november 1942. You would be complaining bitterly about our first major operation in the European theatre: Torch.
You would be saying: why are we invading North Africa when hitler is in Germany? How will spending our children's money (a particularly egregious lie btw) on a madcap adventure in Casablanca when Hitler is still running around in Bavaria?
I doubt you'd say these things too loudly since they'd likely get your butt kicked, but that's essentially your position.
There were at least three good reasons for torch and those reasons apply quite nicely to Iraq:
(1) there was an enemy in north Africa. I'm sure you've seen the movies about tobruk and all so I wont belabor that. Invading north africa, just like invading Iraq, ended a potential threat and reduced the enemy's options. You can argue about Saddam's role in all of this but the simple fact is he was an evil man who is now on trial. His public hanging will be a great event for the Iraqis he brutalized and starved. It will be a sad day for the forces of evil who relied on his tacit approval or outright support.
(2) The allies needed a strategic base for the invasion of europe. All they possessed at the time was gibraltar. The easter Med was in Axis hands. Gaining a foot hold in north Africa dramatically changed the landscape. So too in Iraq. We now possess an uncontestable base for military operations against any foe the choses to assault us. Niether Iran nor Syria could directly aid Hezbullah because they could not overcome our position in Iraq. As a direct result, lebanon has another chance at democracy and the Palestinians are suing for peace.
(3) The allies needed the practice. Our army was comprised of stone cold rookies. We had an officer corp that consisted of some old line warriors and many 90 day wonders. Getting this group into action improved over all performance and allowed the Allies to pick future commanders based on past performance in COMBAT. so too in Iraq. At this point the two national militaries with the most experience fighting arabs in their region are the IDF and the US. We have learned a massive amount about fighting in this region and terrain. We have learned and adapted both in our combat doctrines and our political policies. Such experience is invaluable in what will be a long long struggle.
This comment attempts a factual response to your emotional outburst. Dawnfire and I (and others) have provided cogent, thoughtful analysis while you have engaged in thoughtless school yard "name calling". My strong suspicion is that you simply have no other means of understanding and that's sad for you.
Fortunately for my country there are many many educated, thoughtful, serious men and women who are managing the effort in Iraq quite brilliantly. I am glad they rely on their knowledge and not on your emotion.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

really good questions

Wow, Dom gets it right. I am in awe of his insight.
Let's try a thought experiment: Iraq is to Islam as Poland is to Europe.
Poland, from whence sprang my mother's parents, is a self sustaining agricultural society caught between the agressive central europeans and the aggressive russians. Although they are routinely invaded, they retain their strong sense of themselves.
I believe that this is what MO and Dom are saying. Iraq is the breadbasket, the region within the region that can sustain itself.
In a region that has seen wars of biblical proportions Iraq still stands. Is that something we should help these people remember?
The pope's words are very thought provoking. We're fooling around in a part of the world that is very, very significant.
I didn't miss the President's words today. he called it "the holy land". NOT to claim it as a christian, but to remind everybody that they are treading on sacred soil.
This is all so interesting. The faithful Vs the unfaithful.
On the one hand we have the radical muslims who proclaim that EVERYBODY who doesn't agree with them is unfaithful. Muslim, Jew, Christian or Bahai, either you are with the radicals or you are unfaithful.
On the other side is a western culture that has cast off it's belief in God. These unbelievers are secular Europeans, Angry leftist Americans and old line communists that seek to replace an old faith with their new faith.
I really wonder if a poll that compares the strength in the belief in God with a strength in a belief in the war against terror would show a statistical correlation.
What's the pope saying? Could it be that "they believe in their god, do you believe in yours?"
These are things about which we should think deeply. We are being asked some very important questions.
I don't church up often, but I went to Mass on Sunday to thank God for my son's return.
Thank you lord.
During the course of the ceremony the city of Tyre (Sour) was mentioned. I thought about the recent battles between Hezbullah and Israel and I thought "Holy shit, we're at it again"
I believe that our president was talking directly to devout muslims. I believe that he was saying that he understands the situation both currently and in its biblical sense.
Think about it. He called it the holy land. Show some respect Hamas, we have deep roots there too.
The messages of the last few days have been very intense. The muslims routinely use ancient terms when describing the modern world. Both the pope and Mr Bush used terms that are both historically accurate and heavily laden.
A message was sent, that much is clear.
VDH called the current situation a pause in the war. Many wars have had such a pause. The question for us AS A SPECIES is can we sustain this pause and achieve true peace?
Must we resume warfare? I firmly believe that the next move belongs to the Arab/muslims. Do you want peace or do you want war? We are prepared for either. We fervently wish for peace but we will fight to acheive it if we must.
But, back to the Pope's words. Is islam driving us back to our faith? Is is about ideologies? Or is it about that gray area between ideology and religion?
Can we protect our culture and discard the belief in God that spawned it?
We've got some homework. We need to think about this.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Yet another persian carpet

Ah yes, the arab's favorite word: dialog. I believe the muslims love this word because it can be used in so many different ways.
Among the most common usages is "I prefer dialog." Whenever an arab uses this what you are really hearing is "I need a break from getting my ass kicked"

I first encountered this sentence in bing West's book No True Glory. The Marines had just watched the Fallujah brigade fail completely. The city had become the epicenter of terror in Iraq and was the lair of Zarqawhi. during a meeting between the USMC commanders and the "city elders" a sunni spokesman uttered the now infamous sentence. Of course he also denied that there were any foreign fighters in the city and went on to demand that America send money to Fallujah but stay out of the city.

the Marines replied: "We'll see you in the city." The Sunni negotiator was lying. He knew he was lying, he also knew that the Marines were aware that what he said was false. The fact that he could say these things with a straight face is indicative of the people we are confronting in the war against Islamic Terror.

My point is straightforward: our patience with "negotiation" should be reaching its end. We should have seen enough.

Many of us watched in horror as the so called "global community" allowed Yassir Arafat to run roughshod over them. Perhaps the pinnacle of his perfidy, and the nadir of the west's credulity was the Nobel Peace Prize. Peace, as we now know, was the last thing Arafat desired. His duplicity was surpassed only by his rapacity. I remain firmly convinced that the only reason he lingered on in that French hospital was that satan needed a few days to coax Hitler out of the front seat in hell.

How about a more geostrategic and contemporary example. Here's the AP report on Germany's reaction to Iran's most recent response to demands that it cease its efforts to aquire nuclear weapons:

BERLIN - Germany said Thursday that Iran's response to a package of incentives for halting its nuclear program appears unsatisfactory because it is missing a reference to whether Tehran will suspend uranium enrichment. "We are still examining it, but from everything that I hear we cannot be satisfied," Chancellor Angela Merkel said in an interview with N24 television.

Iran's track record is also quite clear. They negotiated with the Europeans while simultaneously engaging in forbidden development. They simply lied. For years they lied and the western powers in a spasm of gullible denial continued to offer greater and greater incentives to the people who had sworn to kill them.

In the coming weeks we will hear many demands for "dialog" or "negotiation" with the muslims who are intent upon killing us. We must be prepared to respond to these demands with well reasoned arguments. These arguments must speak to the rational and emotional aspects of this issue.

The arguments against negotiation are clear. Negotiation is only effective when the parties are honest in their words and in their intent. As the three examples here indicate, our enemy demonstrates no such honesty. Is there any reason to believe that the Iranians, who selected Ahmandinejihadi as there public face, will adhere to any committment they make? At this point the only words uttered by any Iranian leader that we should accept at face value is their sworn oath to destroy Israel and America.

Why would anyone in their right mind spend a minute of their precious time negotiating with Nasrallah? This guy is in the Arafat league to be sure and nothing he says, except of course his vow to kill jews, should be given any plausiblity at all.

Yes, the arabs use negotiation as a fundamental tool in their culture. Everything and everybody has a price. The life expectancy of any given committment is based on the time it takes to get a better offer. If I seem unPC, its because I am. We are confronting a dysfunctional culture and the cultural imperatives that the Muslims bring to the bargaining table must be well understood.

At this late date, it is after all almost september 29, 1938, it simply foolish to expect negotiation to bear fruit. A leopard is a leopard, a terror master who has sworn to kill us is a terror master who has sworn to kill us.

so from a rational point of view negotiation with the Iranians, the syrians, the Hezbullah or the palestinians is pointless. They have no ability to act in an honest manner nor will they adhere to the committments they keep. Perhaps keeping committments is just a quaint western custom that has be outmoded by the WIIFM of the modern world, but certainly negotiation is meaningless without it.

The emotional side of this is also important to understand. Few on the western side of this conflict desire a broader, more deadly war. However, many simply refuse to see this threat. Some refuse to view the past record of Arab duplicity as an indicator of future performance. some demand that the species instantly evolve past this need for violence.

This is denial. Pure unadulterated denial. The same dynamic that keeps alcoholics drinking and battered wives at home. Pure simple denial. We have seen this denial in action before. Again, september, 1938. that inability to confront the threat in its early stages cost 40 million lives. The difficult choices forced upon the leaders of the free world once the threat could no longer be denied resulted in the virtual enslavement of much of eastern Europe.

History is clear: the differential between acting now and acting later can be measured in human lives. A bitter confrontation in continental europe in 1937, a more active response to the axis involvement in spain, a more open minded view of the issues raised by the people who defied their government and fought against the axis proxy might well have spared the world enormous sorrow.

the indications were clear, Hitler had no intention of adhering to any agreement he made. The provision of men and material to spain in flagrant violation of international treaty should have alerted the world yet the demands for negotiation continued unabated. So, too, in our time the emotional driver for this very same demand is a thoughtless hope that the comfortable numbness of denial continues if only for a day and even at a terrible cost.

Perhaps its time to meet with a few counselors at my local drug treatment center. I imagine these people know quite a bit about denial. Perhaps a study of this dynamic will help us learn how to overcome it. For denial will get us killed.