Sunday, January 31, 2010

Review: The Strongest Tribe: War, Politics, and the Endgame in Iraq by Bing West.

The Strongest Tribe is a book I bought around this time last year got about a quarter read and then stopped. Within the last week I picked it up again and finished the rest.

The book is essentially about the progression of the Iraq War from the end of major combat operations in 2003 through the success at the end of "The Surge" in the Summer of 2008. I suspect the book went to publisher in Sept. of 2008 and so it does not have details or analysis of the Status of Force Agreement that was put into place between Iraq and the United States later that Fall into Winter.

The books strong suit is Bing West's connection with the US military and his ability to tell their side of the story about what was going on both good and bad. The book is weaker in it's reporting and analysis of the political realms of both the US and Iraq. Mr. West does not seem to be particularly fond of politicians and bureaucrats and makes little to no attempt to explain or give their side of the story.

I think the book is certainly worth reading to find out how the military fought the Iraq war and prevailed when so many had written the war off as a "fiasco,"disaster, terrible mistake, etc.

One of the books biggest surprises comes at the end in the 25th Chapter "The Stongest Tribe" as Mr. West gives his analysis about certain aspects of the war. The surprise comes in a paragraph entitled: Myth About the Lack of U.S. Troops. West argues that had there been more troops at the beginning doing the same things that the troops in country were doing than that would have made matters worse not better. West doesn't say but obviously hints that had the troops that were there been used in a smarter more efficient way than the numbers of US troops in Iraq would have been sufficient.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Guantanamo and Jihadist Propaganda- The Biggest Problem.

Yesterday my law student older brother posted a article headlined: Local lawyers representing detainees at Guantanamo see big changes. Apparently something about the legal machinations inherent in the legal issues brought out is of interest to my brother. He indicated he would like to work on these issues in the future, but I am not sure what that means because there are several avenues of possibility.

Anyway, this article got me thinking about the proficiency and competence of our legal system and the conduct of the lawyers up to this point. From where I am sitting the legal system and lawyers in it get a very low grade because they have made what I regard to be inexcusable mistakes.

What are the inexcusable mistakes?

We have released a multitude of detainees that ended up right back on the battlefield, sometimes in leadership positions.

Note: I see from my Google research that a do gooder over at Huffington Post disputes the numbers given; mostly on the basis that some of these guys being counted have only engaged in anti-US agitation propaganda and have not gone back to the blood and guts battlefield per se. OK suppose I grant that anti-US agitation propaganda in a time of war is fine and dandy and so these guys shouldn't be counted and just to be ultra conservative lets say only 5 of the people believed to have taken up arms, really have.

Even if the number is only 5 that is a disaster of epic proportions and here's why?

These 5 will exist as a propaganda and recruiting bonanza orders of magnitude worse than the humane (or inhumane for that matter) detention of a few hundred possibly innocent Muslims. With those that are detained and suspected of being no threat we can always take steps to make the situation more palatable and pleasant to those detained; These efforts can be showcased to counter the jihadist propaganda that we are Christian ogres that eat Muslims for breakfast. In contrast the 5 that go back to fighting get to tell tall tails about how we are Christian ogres that eat Muslims for breakfast and their accusations are sure to be spread as far and wide as jihadist propagandists can distribute them. With them free we totally lose control of the message.

Worse than this the jihadists get to tell their "true story's" about how Allah delivered the faithful mujaheddin from the hand of the infidel. Make no mistake the narrative that invokes the guidance, protection, and intervention of Allah is the most potent arrow in the jihadist propaganda quiver. It is a morale booster for those putting their lives on the line and it is "sign and wonder" that points directly in the direction of the righteousness of the jihadist cause. As far as it is possible to us we cannot and must not give jihadists grounds for claiming miracles that can plausibly be believed as such.

From a distance we can let the hardcore lie all they want, but when that hardcore jihadist lies in the flesh and blood, we have a big problem.

So what to do with those that might be innocent?

This is war, collateral damage is an unfortunate consequence that should be managed with wisdom and a bigger picture in mind. Unfortunately, I don't think very many of our legal minds and absolutely not a single one of the "progressive" ACLU types understands the bigger picture.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Some Wisdom from Michael Yon

"Some places like Afghanistan tend to blame history for their problems. And history certainly is part of the problem. But Poland could make the same excuse and does not. Poland is doing great. Germany and Japan were nearly destroyed during current memory of many living people, yet today those are great countries. Sometimes history is not the problem, but the society."

I think this is a brilliant observation that applies to a great many many countries. Haiti comes to mind.

Tuesday, January 05, 2010

The Hype of An Illegitimate Grievance- Guantanamo Bay

I was struck by President Obama's remark today about how supposidly the terrorists prison at Guantanamo Bay is a national security liability and recruiting boon for the jihadists. I think it quite pathetic that some people in the West have gotten it stuck in their craw that the prison at Guantanamo represents some kind of special human rights scandal and grand injustice. I maintain that this hype about Guantanmo is simply nothing more than misguided self-righteousness run amok.

It's misguided because as long as Muslims, whether they are terrorist jihadists or not, are held in any Western nation prisons those Muslims will serve as a Raison d'ĂȘtre and major recruiting talking point for jihadists. The fact that some self-righteous baffoons here in the West have raised a stink served only to amplify something that is going to be a terrorist complaint no matter what we did.

I throughly believe Obama and the rest of you Guantanamo hype haters have been nothing but extremely useful idiots. Good Job Fools!