I thought Hillary said it would be a Spring offensive?

Taliban leader now says it’ll be a summer offensive[*1] :

“The Taliban will intensify their guerrilla and suicidestrikes this summer,” Mulla Hayat Khan told Reuters from asecret location. “This will be a bloodiest year for foreigntroops.”

He said 2,000 suicide bombers were ready — about 40percent of the total suicide force — adding numbers were sohigh it was sometimes hard to find enough explosives andtargets.

Unless the good guys kill you first, of course.

Good causes don’t excuse tastelessness

A brief story in the Kansas City Star[*1] :

The University of Missouri-Kansas City has banned the sale of aT-shirt students designed to promote a benefit performance of “TheVagina Monologues.”

The T-shirt, which depicted abstract images of vaginas, was tobenefit V-Day 2007, a national movement to stop violence against women.Students called the ban censorship.

The shirt was to be sold at the university’s Women’s Center. Thecenter’s director stopped the sale, saying the shirt did not reflectthe image of the center and did not conform to V-Day guidelines, whichspecify that T-shirts include the V-Day logo and tagline.

We’re opposed to violence, generally, against women or men. But we’re also generally opposed to t-shirts depicting genitalia. It just goes to show how dreadfully out of touch with common sense some people are.

The Germans call US “surrender monkeys”

Oh, the shame!

Captain Ed at Captain’s Quarters has the sorry tale:

Der Spiegel excerpts passages from Henryk Broder’s new book on the Western response to radical Islamism[*1] , pungently titled, Hurray, We’re Capitulating!The book has not yet been published in English, but DS gives us atranslation on their English-language site. It cogently and somewhatangrily notes the low points in Western dhimmitude:

Objectively speaking, the cartoon controversy was a tempestin a teacup. But subjectively it was a show of strength and, in thecontext of the “clash of civilizations,” a dress rehearsal for the realthing. The Muslims demonstrated how quickly and effectively they canmobilize the masses, and the free West showed that it has nothing tocounter the offensive — nothing but fear, cowardice and an overridingconcern about the balance of trade. Now the Islamists know that theyare dealing with a paper tiger whose roar is nothing but a taperecording.

As different as the West’s reactions to the Muslim protests were,what they had in common were origins in feelings of powerlessness andhelplessness. Critical souls who only yesterday agreed with Marx thatreligion is the opium of the masses suddenly insisted that religioussensibilities must be taken into account, especially when accompaniedby violence. The representatives of open societies reacted like theinhabitants of an island about to be hit by a hurricane. Powerlessagainst the forces of nature, they stocked up on supplies, nailed doorsand windows shut and hoped that the storm would soon pass. Of course,whereas such a reaction may be an appropriate response to naturaldisasters, such a lack of resistance merely encourages fundamentalists.It completely justifies their view of the West as weak, decadent andcompletely unwilling to defend itself.

Those who react to kidnappings and beheadings, to massacres ofpeople of other faiths, and to eruptions of collective hysteria with acall for “cultural dialogue” don’t deserve any better.

I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to be a Cheese-Eating Surrender Monkey.  Do you?  Even if you’re a Democrat?

Liberty is falling apart

In what may be an appropriate metaphor for our time, Kansas City’s Liberty Memorial is falling apart[*1] :

Another section of concrete at the Liberty Memorial collapsedThursday, leading officials to close the observation deck and toweruntil a thorough investigation can be done.

The action does not affect public access to the new World War IMuseum below the deck or to the two buildings above, although they canonly be reached for now by using elevators from below. The tower has nostructural problems but access to it is closed until further notice.

Executive Director Steve Berkheiser said a concrete paver in frontof the tower elevator door was discovered Thursday afternoon to havecollapsed of its own weight. It was the third such collapse recently.There have been no injuries.

Certainly support for liberty is crumbling here in the U.S., as the “last best hope of earth[*2] ” ponders withdrawing from the perpetual and timeless battle for liberty.

Perhaps if George W. Bush had the rhetorical skill of Abraham Lincoln, things might be different:

I do not forget the gravity which should characterize a paper addressed to the Congress of the nation by the Chief Magistrate of the nation. Nor do I forget that some of you are my seniors, nor that many of you have more experience than I, in the conduct of public affairs. Yet I trust that in view of the great responsibility resting upon me, you will perceive no want of respect yourselves, in any undue earnestness I may seem to display.

Is it doubted, then, that the plan I propose, if adopted, would shorten the war, and thus lessen its expenditure of money and of blood? Is it doubted that it would restore the national authority and national prosperity, and perpetuate both indefinitely? Is it doubted that we here–Congress and Executive–can secure its adoption? Will not the good people respond to a united, and earnest appeal from us? Can we, can they, by any other means, so certainly, or so speedily, assure these vital objects? We can succeed only by concert. It is not “can any of us imagine better?” but, “can we all do better?” The dogmas of the quiet past, are inadequate to the stormy present. The occasion is piled high with difficulty, and we must rise — with the occasion. As our case is new, so we must think anew, and act anew. We must disenthrall ourselves, and then we shall save our country.

Fellow-citizens, we cannot escape history. We of this Congress and this administration, will be remembered in spite of ourselves. No personal significance, or insignificance, can spare one or another of us. The fiery trial through which we pass, will light us down, in honor or dishonor, to the latest generation. We say we are for the Union. The world will not forget that we say this. We know how to save the Union. The world knows we do know how to save it. We — even we here — hold the power, and bear the responsibility. In giving freedom to the slave, we assure freedom to the free — honorable alike in what we give, and what we preserve. We shall nobly save, or meanly lose, the last best hope of earth. Other means may succeed; this could not fail. The way is plain, peaceful, generous, just — a way which, if followed, the world will forever applaud, and God must forever bless.

Cue the rent-a-mobs

Here come the demonstrations[*1] :

When thousands of Iraq war protesters gather in Washington Saturday, their chants and amplified speeches are likely to be heard inside the secure grounds of the White House where the commander in chief has made his case for sending more troops into combat.
. . .
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is the main political target. War protesters want something tougher than nonbinding resolutions opposing the “surge” in additional US forces. Some want hearings on the controversial basis for the war itself, perhaps leading to the impeachment of President Bush.

It’s not just the nation’s capital, where busloads of people from at least 30 states are headed to make their voices heard.

Oddly enough, organizers are going out of their way to remain anonymous (as stated later in the Christian Science Monitor story linked above).  Why would that be?  Perhaps an agenda being hidden?

Word of the day:  Astroturfing.[*2]
(from Wikipedia):

In politics[*3] and advertising[*4] , the term astroturfing describes formal public relations[*5] (PR) campaigns which seek to create the impression of being a spontaneous, grassroots[*6] behavior. Hence the reference to the “AstroTurf[*7] ” (artificial grass) is a metaphor to indicate “fake grassroots[*6] ” support.

The goal of such campaign is to disguise the agenda of a client as an independent public[*8] reaction to some political entity —a politician, political group,product, service, event. Astroturfers attempt to orchestrate theactions of apparently diverse and geographically distributedindividuals, by both overt (“outreach,” “awareness,” etc.) and covert (disinformation[*9] )means. Astroturfing may be undertaken by anything from an individualpushing their own personal agenda through to highly organisedprofessional groups with financial backing from large corporations.

Do I have evidence that the anti-war demonstrations are astroturfed?  No.  Is it the standard mode of operation of leftist activists?  Yes.

Taking the pledge

I’ve taken the pledge[*1] :

If the United States Senate passes a resolution, non-binding or otherwise, that criticizes the commitment of additional troops to Iraqt hat General Petraeus has asked for and that the president has pledged, and if the Senate does so after the testimony of General Petraeus on January 23 that such a resolution will be an encouragement to the enemy, I will not contribute to any Republican senator who voted for the resolution. Further, if any Republican senator who votes for such are solution is a candidate for re-election in 2008, I will not contribute to the National Republican Senatorial Committee unless theChairman of that Committee, Senator Ensign, commits in writing that none of the funds of the NRSC will go to support the re-election of any senator supporting the non-binding resolution.

Now, I don’t usually donate to political campagns of any kind, but I don’t rule out doing so in the future.  I can guarantee that I will never support a candidate who, by malice or ignorance, wishes to reprise this country’s Vietnam experience by leaving Iraq before it is stable.

We have started inevitable, irreversable changes in the Middle East.  Those changes can either be for the better or for the worse.  If we leave or pull back, the world will be a much more dangerous one than if we persevere.  It is a difficult road we have found ourselves on.  But turning around is not an option.

More Americans will die if we leave than if we stay.

The “surge” is already successful

Several items in the news indicate that our new strategy in Iraq is already working:

Item 1:  Sadr tells his Mahdi Army to stand down[*1] and for his followers to return to the Iraqi political process.

Last Friday, in a bid to fend off an all-out American militaryoffensive, al-Sadr ordered 30 lawmakers and six Cabinet ministers underhis control to end their nearly two-month boycott of the government.They were back at their jobs Sunday.

Al-Sadr had already orderedhis militia fighters not to display their weapons. They have not,however, ceded control of the formerly mixed neighborhoods they havecaptured, killing Sunnis or forcing them to abandon their homes andbusinesses.

Item 2:  In the same article, Iraq Prime Minister al-Maliki tells Sadr his militia is no longer off-limits to American forces.

Iraq’s prime minister has dropped his protection of anti-Americancleric Muqtada al-Sadr’s militia after being convinced by U.S.intelligence that the group was infiltrated by death squads, two Iraqigovernment officials said Sunday.

By the way, did you know that all of the troops who make up the “surge” were scheduled to go to Iraq anyway[*2] ?  The “surge” is simply speeding up the schedule to send new units in, along with delaying the return of some units which are already there.  That’s it.

Meanwhile, the Small Wars Journal reminds:  Don’t confuse the “surge” with the strategy.[*3]

What matters here is not the size of forces (though the strategywill not work without a certain minimum force size), but rather theirtasks. The key element of the plan, as outlined in the President’sspeech, is to concentrate security forces within Baghdad, to secure thelocal people where they live. Troops will operate in small, localgroups closely partnered with Iraqi military and police units, witheach unit permanently assigned to an area and working its “beat”.

This is different from early strategies which were enemy-centric(focusing on killing insurgents), or more recent approaches that reliedon training and supporting Iraqi forces and expected them to secure thepopulation.

The new strategy reflects counterinsurgency best practice asdemonstrated over dozens of campaigns in the last several decades:enemy-centric approaches that focus on the enemy, assuming that killinginsurgents is the key task, rarely succeed. Population-centricapproaches, that center on protecting local people and gaining theirsupport, succeed more often.

Here’s how I look at it.  I can listen to and believe a bunch of politicians crying Withdraw!  Withdraw!, many of whom have never seen the business end of an AK-47, or I can listen to and believe a large group of professonal soldiers, including the guy who wrote the book updating U.S. counterinsurgency doctrine.  Now, I never served in the military–I guess I’m one of those “chickenhawks” that the left delights in attempting to shout down.  But I can either listen to the actual chickens, or I can listen to the actual hawks, to try to determine what the best path forward might be.

No matter which way we go, I think we owe ourselves an honest answer to a seemingly-simple question:  If we do XYZ, what happens next?