Sunday, October 30, 2005

KABUL, Afghanistan —
Remnants of other countries lay in ruin covering the Afghanistan landscape. Many countries have passed through this land in their efforts of domination, each leaving something behind. Many of the items are being used, while most litter the sides of the road and decorate various junkyards.

There is one particular item of interest for the United States. It is a French Renault FT/17 tank circa WWI. Before tanks were a part of the Army, this tank helped the U.S. in many campaigns in Europe during the war. On loanStaff Sgt. Christina Bhatti 11th Public Affairs Detachment

from the French government, Gen. George Patton, then a captain serving under Gen. John Pershing, was one of the first to learn how to operate this type of tank.

The rusted remnants of two FT/17s lay tattered and disassembled in a junkyard in Kabul and forgotten until armor officer Maj. Robert Redding came across them. “Being an armor officer, I knew that these tanks were special,” said Redding. After finding them, he did what he thought he should do – he took photos and e-mailed them to the Patton Museum of Cavalry and Armor, Fort Knox, Ky. — that was Friday. By Monday he had seven responses.

“They were excited and very interested to bring the tanks back to the states,” he said. The museum previously owned a FT/ 17 tank, but at the request of the French government, sent it back to France, Redding said.

“It’s a very rare tank,” said French Maj. Thierry Delbarre, project manager. “France is interested in getting and keeping whatever intact equipment that we can.”

But this tank will go back to the U.S. The French have agreed to let the U.S. have this tank. They already have a body of a FT/17, and are more interested in finding an engine, Delbarre said.

Only about 5,000 of these tanks were made and the design and capabilities proved invaluable to many different countries in Europe. Their design boasted the first tank with a full traverse 360-degree rotating turret. It is a light vehicle, which weighs approximately 7,000 pounds. A two-man crew – a driver and a gunner, operate the vehicle. The modern configuration of the tank is still used in tanks today; the driver sits in the front and the engine is in the rear. There are only four or five of these tanks left in existence, said Redding.

Now that the tanks were found, they have to get to the states. The first step was getting permission from Afghanistan. Redding went to Afghanistan’s Deputy Minister of Defense General Abdul Rashid Dostum. Dostum is also the commander of northern Afghanistan.

“He was more than willing,” said Redding. “He considers this as a gift for what we have done for this country.”

Dostum allowed one of the two tanks to be taken out of Afghanistan. With the help of Delbarre and historians from the 326th Military History Detachment, a reserve unit from Columbus, Ohio, the best tank was chosen. Plans are still being discussed how the tank will be removed from the junkyard and transported to the States, but for Redding the odessy is almost over.
“I have been working on this for five months,” he said. “It has truly been an odyssey for me and now I am ready to get this tank to (Fort) Knox so others can learn about our history of tanks.”

Bill: If you want to learn more about the FT17, go to http://mailer.fsu.edu/~akirk/tanks/

Thursday, October 27, 2005

From castle argghhh!

The vote is in!


Released. ACOE photographer Norris Jones of U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE). A Missouri community is organizing a drive to collect school supplies for youngsters in and around Fallujah (as those shown above). Major Roger Alsup is a Missouri National Guardsman and principal of T.S. Hill Middle School in Dexter, Missouri, where faculty and students are supporting the drive. Major Alsup was activated for a year with the 35th Engineer Brigade out of Cape Girardeau, Missouri. He is one of the project engineers at the Fallujah office of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Gulf Region Central District and among his duties is helping refurbish schools in that area. (ACOE photo by Norris Jones)
The MSM has decided. The Iraqi Constitution and the unprecedented (regardless of the flaws in the document and it's making) opportunity it represents for the Arabs... is completely overshadowed by the 2000-and-counting dead.

Never mind that we may well have accomplished a lot more in Iraq than we did in Vietnam for where we paid 25 times the current price - and *with* a volunteer Army...

Never mind the Iraqis have been given a choice to build a new government from what for them pretty much represents First Principles. And that someone besides a colonial power (don't even start) didn't sit down and dictate the terms and composition of the government. Nor did some elite with a smoking gun.

It's the elite with the smoking gun car that's trying to seize power back.

We lost 4, 435 soldiers gaining the right to make our Constitution and an unknown number died of "other causes". We killed another 184,594 in combat 70-odd years later settling some questions that came up about the implementation and interpretation of that Constitution (hint: Amendments 13, 14, and 15). (That number doesn't include the 373,458 who died from "other causes" during the Civil War (source), though the 2000th death the MSM ballyhoos includes *all* deaths in theater, whether the heat stroke victim, the guy who had the heart attack, or the troop who rolled the HMMWV because he wasn't paying attention).

As for the document being flawed... hmm, aside from including the 10 Compromises (The first 10 Amendments commonly called the Bill of Rights) we've formally adjusted our document how many times?* C'mon, there's a quiz... Though our document is remarkably stable when you look at the Euro approach to those things (/gratuitous swipe).

I guess it's just a half-empty thing, eh? Half-full doesn't sell, leave aside the unacknowledged attitude issues...

Yep. And while we've been doing that, we found the time to do this, too.


U.S. Army Sgt. Kornelia Rachwal comforts a young Pakistani girl being flown from Muzaffarabad to Islamabad, Pakistan aboard a U.S. Army CH-47 "Chinook", 19 Oct, 2005. The United States government is participating in a multinational humanitarian assistance and support effort lead by the Pakistani Government to bring aid to victims of the devastating earthquake that struck the region Oct. 8 2005. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Mike Buytas) (Released)
Not to mention this.


051016-N-5526M-048 16 Oct 2005 Specialist Ryan Becker from Easton, Pennsylvania unloads food, water, and medicine from a Army Blackhawk helicopter during relief efforts for victims of hurricane Stan. Personnel from U.S. Southern Command Joint Task Force Bravo continue to provide assistance to the government and the people of Guatemala as part of an ongoing disaster relief effort.
U.S. Navy Photo by Photograhers Mate 1st class Robert McRill (RELEASED)
Just sayin'.

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Koran Competition Venue for Celebrating Israeli Withdrawal

14:50 Oct 26, '05 / 23 Tishrei 5766

(IsraelNN.com) A competition in memorizing the Koran, Islam's foundational text, is underway this week in Gaza. Competitors from around the world are in the Palestinian Authority controlled strip to take part.

According to Yusuf Salama, in charge of religious affairs for the PA, the competition - called Al-Aqsa International Competition for the Holy Koran - is part of the PA celebrations over the Israeli withdrawal from Gaza. The opening event on Sunday was attended by leaders of the Islamic Jihad and Hamas terrorist groups, as well as official PA representatives.

"We pray to God that next year, God willing, the competition will take place in the Al-Aqsa Mosque in holy Jerusalem," Salama said.

Terrorist Bombing Strikes Hadera Market

17:33 Oct 26, '05 / 23 Tishrei 5766
By Nissan Ratzlav-Katz & Hillel Fendel

A terrorist bombing in a Hadera open-air market killed five people and wounded more than 30 Wednesday afternoon.

Shortly before 4:00pm, an Arab suicide bomber made his way into the market in the northern city and detonated explosives he carried on his person. The initial police investigation points to a white vehicle that may have transported the terrorist to the Hadera market. Reports that the terrorist was a woman were later denied.

Four people were pronounced dead at the site of the attack, while the fifth victim died on the operating table at Hillel Yaffe Hospital in Hadera. The many wounded, five of whom are listed in very serious condition, were evacuated to local hospitals.

Hillel Yaffe Hospital, located a few blocks from the market, has established an emergency phone number for information at 1255166.

The Islamic Jihad has claimed responsibility for the murderous attack. Though the organization has said it would avenge last week's killing of top terrorist Luis Saadi, it is doubtful whether such an attack could have been arranged on such short notice. It is therefore assumed that this attack against Israel was in planning long before Saadi's death.

This was at least the 4th murderous terror attack in Hadera since the Palestinian Authority instigated the Oslo War five years ago. Previous attacks in the city:

* In Nov. 2000, two people were killed by a car-bomb in the city.

* In Oct. 2001, four women were killed by PA policemen from Jenin who opened random fire on a crowded street from inside a car.

* In Jan. 2002, a terrorist entered a Bat Mitzvah celebration and opened random fire, killing six.

Several bombs were detonated in the city during this period, but without murderous results. In May 2001, for instance, a car bomb exploded on a crowded Hadera street, but the only person killed was the driver of the car bomb himself.

In other terrorism incidents over the holiday, two 20-kilogram (44-lb.) explosives were found and neutralized near the fence surrounding northern Gaza... An IDF position was fired at from southern Gaza... For the third time in several weeks, terrorists fired at an IDF position near N'vei Tzuf, in the Binyamin region; an Arab was hurt by the army's return fire... Two firebombs were hurled at an Israeli car near the Tapuach junction; no one was hurt... In a clash with terrorists in Jenin, an IDF vehicle was damaged.

Top Terrorist Dead; Jihad Threatens Revenge

By Hillel Fendel

The number-one most wanted terrorist in Judea and Samaria was killed Sunday night in a clash with IDF forces in Tul Karem, east of Netanya. Islamic Jihad promises sharp revenge.
Three terrorists were killed in the battle, including Luis Saadi, who was responsible for killing 12 Israelis and wounding 150 others. Specifically, he directed the murderous attacks at the Stage Club in Tel Aviv in February of this year and outside the HaSharon Mall in Netanya three months ago.

A terrorist cell under the command of Saadi was preparing to carry out another attack during the next few days, IDF Ephraim Region Commander Col. Aharon Haliwa said Monday. "The killing of Saadi prevented a sad holiday week for Israel," Haliwa said.

Saadi was also responsible for smuggling terrorists to Jerusalem, as well as other attacks. He was originally arrested in 1999, but was freed from prison in January, 2004 when Israel exchanged 400 terrorists for the release of Elchanan Tenenbaum and three soldiers' bodies.

The battle began when an IDF force encountered a car carrying armed Arabs and ordered the driver to stop. The terrorists fled to a nearby building, shooting at the soldiers along the way. As exchanges of fire raged, an IDF engineering unit arrived and destroyed the building atop the terrorists.

An explosives vest, Kalachnikov rifle and a pistol were later found on Saadi's body. IDF Col. Haliwa said that they did not know with certainty that Saadi was in the car at first, "though we knew that top Islamic Jihad leaders were meeting in the area, and we took action."

The IDF imposed a closure on Tul Karem in the hours following the battle, but later left the area. Some 30 terrorists were arrested throughout Judea and Samaria during the night.

The Islamic Jihad terror organization appeared particularly angered by Saadi's killing, and its threats of revenge caused the IDF to increase its level of alert in the Gaza region. Additional forces have not been deployed, but it is feared that Sderot and environs will be targeted with mortar shells and Kassam rockets. Some Jihad spokesmen even promised a "series of attacks."

Col. Haliwa said that the IDF has been operating against the terrorist infrastructures in Tul Karem for several months: "This is the most complex terror group in all of Shomron, with more Israeli blood on its hands than any other."

Saturday, October 22, 2005

President Discusses War on Terror at National Endowment for Democracy

President Discusses War on Terror at National Endowment for Democracy
Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center
Washington, D.C.

THE PRESIDENT: Thank you all. (Applause.) Thank you all. Please be seated. (Applause.) Thank you for the warm welcome. I'm honored once again to be with the supporters of the National Endowment for Democracy. Since the day President Ronald Reagan set out the vision for this Endowment, the world has seen the swiftest advance of democratic institutions in history. And Americans are proud to have played our role in this great story.

Our nation stood guard on tense borders; we spoke for the rights of dissidents and the hopes of exile; we aided the rise of new democracies on the ruins of tyranny. And all the cost and sacrifice of that struggle has been worth it, because, from Latin America to Europe to Asia, we've gained the peace that freedom brings.

In this new century, freedom is once again assaulted by enemies determined to roll back generations of democratic progress. Once again, we're responding to a global campaign of fear with a global campaign of freedom. And once again, we will see freedom's victory. (Applause.)

Vin, I want to thank you for inviting me back. And thank you for the short introduction. (Laughter.) I appreciate Carl Gershman. I want to welcome former Congressman Dick Gephardt, who is a board member of the National Endowment for Democracy. It's good to see you, Dick. And I appreciate Chris Cox, who is the Chairman of the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, and a board member for the National Endowment of Democracy, for being here, as well. I want to thank all the other board members.

I appreciate the Secretary of State, Condi Rice, who has joined us -- alongside her, Secretary of Defense Don Rumsfeld. Thank you all for being here. I'm proud, as well, that the newly sworn-in Chairman of the Joint Chiefs, the first Marine ever to hold that position, is with us today -- General Peter Pace. (Applause.) I thank the members of the Diplomatic Corps who are here, as well.

Recently our country observed the fourth anniversary of a great evil, and looked back on a great turning point in our history. We still remember a proud city covered in smoke and ashes, a fire across the Potomac, and passengers who spent their final moments on Earth fighting the enemy. We still remember the men who rejoiced in every death, and Americans in uniform rising to duty. And we remember the calling that came to us on that day, and continues to this hour: We will confront this mortal danger to all humanity. We will not tire, or rest, until the war on terror is won. (Applause.)

The images and experience of September the 11th are unique for Americans. Yet the evil of that morning has reappeared on other days, in other places -- in Mombasa, and Casablanca, and Riyadh, and Jakarta, and Istanbul, and Madrid, and Beslan, and Taba, and Netanya, and Baghdad, and elsewhere. In the past few months, we've seen a new terror offensive with attacks on London, and Sharm el-Sheikh, and a deadly bombing in Bali once again. All these separate images of destruction and suffering that we see on the news can seem like random and isolated acts of madness; innocent men and women and children have died simply because they boarded the wrong train, or worked in the wrong building, or checked into the wrong hotel. Yet while the killers choose their victims indiscriminately, their attacks serve a clear and focused ideology, a set of beliefs and goals that are evil, but not insane.

Some call this evil Islamic radicalism; others, militant Jihadism; still others, Islamo-fascism. Whatever it's called, this ideology is very different from the religion of Islam. This form of radicalism exploits Islam to serve a violent, political vision: the establishment, by terrorism and subversion and insurgency, of a totalitarian empire that denies all political and religious freedom. These extremists distort the idea of jihad into a call for terrorist murder against Christians and Jews and Hindus -- and also against Muslims from other traditions, who they regard as heretics.

Many militants are part of global, borderless terrorist organizations like al Qaeda, which spreads propaganda, and provides financing and technical assistance to local extremists, and conducts dramatic and brutal operations like September the 11th. Other militants are found in regional groups, often associated with al Qaeda -- paramilitary insurgencies and separatist movements in places like Somalia, and the Philippines, and Pakistan, and Chechnya, and Kashmir, and Algeria. Still others spring up in local cells, inspired by Islamic radicalism, but not centrally directed. Islamic radicalism is more like a loose network with many branches than an army under a single command. Yet these operatives, fighting on scattered battlefields, share a similar ideology and vision for our world.

We know the vision of the radicals because they've openly stated it -- in videos, and audiotapes, and letters, and declarations, and websites. First, these extremists want to end American and Western influence in the broader Middle East, because we stand for democracy and peace, and stand in the way of their ambitions. Al Qaeda's leader, Osama bin Laden, has called on Muslims to dedicate, quote, their "resources, sons and money to driving the infidels out of their lands." Their tactic to meet this goal has been consistent for a quarter-century: They hit us, and expect us to run. They want us to repeat the sad history of Beirut in 1983, and Mogadishu in 1993 -- only this time on a larger scale, with greater consequences.

Second, the militant network wants to use the vacuum created by an American retreat to gain control of a country, a base from which to launch attacks and conduct their war against non-radical Muslim governments. Over the past few decades, radicals have specifically targeted Egypt, and Saudi Arabia, and Pakistan, and Jordan for potential takeover. They achieved their goal, for a time, in Afghanistan. Now they've set their sights on Iraq. Bin Laden has stated: "The whole world is watching this war and the two adversaries. It's either victory and glory, or misery and humiliation." The terrorists regard Iraq as the central front in their war against humanity. And we must recognize Iraq as the central front in our war on terror.

Third, the militants believe that controlling one country will rally the Muslim masses, enabling them to overthrow all moderate governments in the region, and establish a radical Islamic empire that spans from Spain to Indonesia. With greater economic and military and political power, the terrorists would be able to advance their stated agenda: to develop weapons of mass destruction, to destroy Israel, to intimidate Europe, to assault the American people, and to blackmail our government into isolation.

Some might be tempted to dismiss these goals as fanatical or extreme. Well, they are fanatical and extreme -- and they should not be dismissed. Our enemy is utterly committed. As Zarqawi has vowed, "We will either achieve victory over the human race or we will pass to the eternal life." And the civilized world knows very well that other fanatics in history, from Hitler to Stalin to Pol Pot, consumed whole nations in war and genocide before leaving the stage of history. Evil men, obsessed with ambition and unburdened by conscience, must be taken very seriously -- and we must stop them before their crimes can multiply.

Defeating the militant network is difficult, because it thrives, like a parasite, on the suffering and frustration of others. The radicals exploit local conflicts to build a culture of victimization, in which someone else is always to blame and violence is always the solution. They exploit resentful and disillusioned young men and women, recruiting them through radical mosques as the pawns of terror. And they exploit modern technology to multiply their destructive power. Instead of attending faraway training camps, recruits can now access online training libraries to learn how to build a roadside bomb, or fire a rocket-propelled grenade -- and this further spreads the threat of violence, even within peaceful democratic societies.

The influence of Islamic radicalism is also magnified by helpers and enablers. They have been sheltered by authoritarian regimes, allies of convenience like Syria and Iran, that share the goal of hurting America and moderate Muslim governments, and use terrorist propaganda to blame their own failures on the West and America, and on the Jews. These radicals depend on front operations, such as corrupted charities, which direct money to terrorist activity. They're strengthened by those who aggressively fund the spread of radical, intolerant versions of Islam in unstable parts of the world. The militants are aided, as well, by elements of the Arab news media that incite hatred and anti-Semitism, that feed conspiracy theories and speak of a so-called American "war on Islam" -- with seldom a word about American action to protect Muslims in Afghanistan, and Bosnia, Somalia, Kosovo, Kuwait, and Iraq.

Some have also argued that extremism has been strengthened by the actions of our coalition in Iraq, claiming that our presence in that country has somehow caused or triggered the rage of radicals. I would remind them that we were not in Iraq on September the 11th, 2001 -- and al Qaeda attacked us anyway. The hatred of the radicals existed before Iraq was an issue, and it will exist after Iraq is no longer an excuse. The government of Russia did not support Operation Iraqi Freedom, and yet the militants killed more than 180 Russian schoolchildren in Beslan.

Over the years these extremists have used a litany of excuses for violence -- the Israeli presence on the West Bank, or the U.S. military presence in Saudi Arabia, or the defeat of the Taliban, or the Crusades of a thousand years ago. In fact, we're not facing a set of grievances that can be soothed and addressed. We're facing a radical ideology with inalterable objectives: to enslave whole nations and intimidate the world. No act of ours invited the rage of the killers -- and no concession, bribe, or act of appeasement would change or limit their plans for murder.

On the contrary: They target nations whose behavior they believe they can change through violence. Against such an enemy, there is only one effective response: We will never back down, never give in, and never accept anything less than complete victory. (Applause.)

The murderous ideology of the Islamic radicals is the great challenge of our new century. Yet, in many ways, this fight resembles the struggle against communism in the last century. Like the ideology of communism, Islamic radicalism is elitist, led by a self-appointed vanguard that presumes to speak for the Muslim masses. Bin Laden says his own role is to tell Muslims, quote, "what is good for them and what is not." And what this man who grew up in wealth and privilege considers good for poor Muslims is that they become killers and suicide bombers. He assures them that his -- that this is the road to paradise -- though he never offers to go along for the ride.

Like the ideology of communism, our new enemy teaches that innocent individuals can be sacrificed to serve a political vision. And this explains their cold-blooded contempt for human life. We've seen it in the murders of Daniel Pearl, Nicholas Berg, and Margaret Hassan, and many others. In a courtroom in the Netherlands, the killer of Theo Van Gogh turned to the victim's grieving mother and said, "I do not feel your pain -- because I believe you are an infidel." And in spite of this veneer of religious rhetoric, most of the victims claimed by the militants are fellow Muslims.

When 25 Iraqi children are killed in a bombing, or Iraqi teachers are executed at their school, or hospital workers are killed caring for the wounded, this is murder, pure and simple -- the total rejection of justice and honor and morality and religion. These militants are not just the enemies of America, or the enemies of Iraq, they are the enemies of Islam and the enemies of humanity. (Applause.) We have seen this kind of shameless cruelty before, in the heartless zealotry that led to the gulags, and the Cultural Revolution, and the killing fields.

Like the ideology of communism, our new enemy pursues totalitarian aims. Its leaders pretend to be an aggrieved party, representing the powerless against imperial enemies. In truth they have endless ambitions of imperial domination, and they wish to make everyone powerless except themselves. Under their rule, they have banned books, and desecrated historical monuments, and brutalized women. They seek to end dissent in every form, and to control every aspect of life, and to rule the soul, itself. While promising a future of justice and holiness, the terrorists are preparing for a future of oppression and misery.

Like the ideology of communism, our new enemy is dismissive of free peoples, claiming that men and women who live in liberty are weak and decadent. Zarqawi has said that Americans are, quote, "the most cowardly of God's creatures." But let's be clear: It is cowardice that seeks to kill children and the elderly with car bombs, and cuts the throat of a bound captive, and targets worshipers leaving a mosque. It is courage that liberated more than 50 million people. It is courage that keeps an untiring vigil against the enemies of a rising democracy. And it is courage in the cause of freedom that once again will destroy the enemies of freedom. (Applause.)

And Islamic radicalism, like the ideology of communism, contains inherent contradictions that doom it to failure. By fearing freedom -- by distrusting human creativity, and punishing change, and limiting the contributions of half the population -- this ideology undermines the very qualities that make human progress possible, and human societies successful. The only thing modern about the militants' vision is the weapons they want to use against us. The rest of their grim vision is defined by a warped image of the past -- a declaration of war on the idea of progress, itself. And whatever lies ahead in the war against this ideology, the outcome is not in doubt: Those who despise freedom and progress have condemned themselves to isolation, decline, and collapse. Because free peoples believe in the future, free peoples will own the future. (Applause.)

We didn't ask for this global struggle, but we're answering history's call with confidence, and a comprehensive strategy. Defeating a broad and adaptive network requires patience, constant pressure, and strong partners in Europe, the Middle East, North Africa, Asia and beyond. Working with these partners, we're disrupting militant conspiracies, destroying their ability to make war, and working to give millions in a troubled region of the world a hopeful alternative to resentment and violence.

First, we're determined to prevent the attacks of terrorist networks before they occur. We're reorganizing our government to give this nation a broad and coordinated homeland defense. We're reforming our intelligence agencies for the incredibly difficult task of tracking enemy activity, based on information that often comes in small fragments from widely scattered sources, here and abroad. We're acting, along with the governments from many countries, to destroy the terrorist networks and incapacitate their leaders. Together, we've killed or captured nearly all of those directly responsible for the September the 11th attacks; as well as some of bin Laden's most senior deputies; al Qaeda managers and operatives in more than 24 countries; the mastermind of the USS Cole bombing, who was chief of al Qaeda operations in the Persian Gulf; the mastermind of the Jakarta and the first Bali bombings; a senior Zarqawi terrorist planner, who was planning attacks in Turkey; and many of al Qaeda's senior leaders in Saudi Arabia.

Overall, the United States and our partners have disrupted at least ten serious al Qaeda terrorist plots since September the 11th, including three al Qaeda plots to attack inside the United States. We've stopped at least five more al Qaeda efforts to case targets in the United States, or infiltrate operatives into our country. Because of this steady progress, the enemy is wounded -- but the enemy is still capable of global operations. Our commitment is clear: We will not relent until the organized international terror networks are exposed and broken, and their leaders held to account for their acts of murder.

Second, we're determined to deny weapons of mass destruction to outlaw regimes, and to their terrorist allies who would use them without hesitation. The United States, working with Great Britain, Pakistan, and other nations, has exposed and disrupted a major black-market operation in nuclear technology led by A.Q. Khan. Libya has abandoned its chemical and nuclear weapons programs, as well as long-range ballistic missiles. And in the last year, America and our partners in the Proliferation Security Initiative have stopped more than a dozen shipments of suspected weapons technology, including equipment for Iran's ballistic missile program.

This progress has reduced the danger to free nations, but has not removed it. Evil men who want to use horrendous weapons against us are working in deadly earnest to gain them. And we're working urgently to keep weapons of mass destruction out of their hands.

Third, we're determined to deny radical groups the support and sanctuary of outlaw regimes. State sponsors like Syria and Iran have a long history of collaboration with terrorists, and they deserve no patience from the victims of terror. The United States makes no distinction between those who commit acts of terror and those who support and harbor them, because they're equally as guilty of murder. (Applause.) Any government that chooses to be an ally of terror has also chosen to be an enemy of civilization. And the civilized world must hold those regimes to account.

Fourth, we're determined to deny the militants control of any nation, which they would use as a home base and a launching pad for terror. For this reason, we're fighting beside our Afghan partners against remnants of the Taliban and their al Qaeda allies. For this reason, we're working with President Musharraf to oppose and isolate the militants in Pakistan. And for this reason, we're fighting the regime remnants and terrorists in Iraq. The terrorist goal is to overthrow a rising democracy, claim a strategic country as a haven for terror, destabilize the Middle East, and strike America and other free nations with ever-increasing violence. Our goal is to defeat the terrorists and their allies at the heart of their power -- and so we will defeat the enemy in Iraq.

Our coalition, along with our Iraqi allies, is moving forward with a comprehensive, specific military plan. Area by area, city by city, we're conducting offensive operations to clear out enemy forces, and leaving behind Iraqi units to prevent the enemy from returning. Within these areas, we're working for tangible improvements in the lives of Iraqi citizens. And we're aiding the rise of an elected government that unites the Iraqi people against extremism and violence. This work involves great risk for Iraqis, and for Americans and coalition forces. Wars are not won without sacrifice -- and this war will require more sacrifice, more time, and more resolve.

The terrorists are as brutal an enemy as we've ever faced. They're unconstrained by any notion of our common humanity, or by the rules of warfare. No one should underestimate the difficulties ahead, nor should they overlook the advantages we bring to this fight.

Some observers look at the job ahead and adopt a self-defeating pessimism. It is not justified. With every random bombing and with every funeral of a child, it becomes more clear that the extremists are not patriots, or resistance fighters -- they are murderers at war with the Iraqi people, themselves.

In contrast, the elected leaders of Iraq are proving to be strong and steadfast. By any standard or precedent of history, Iraq has made incredible political progress -- from tyranny, to liberation, to national elections, to the writing of a constitution, in the space of two-and-a-half years. With our help, the Iraqi military is gaining new capabilities and new confidence with every passing month. At the time of our Fallujah operations 11 months ago, there were only a few Iraqi army battalions in combat. Today there are more than 80 Iraqi army battalions fighting the insurgency alongside our forces. Progress isn't easy, but it is steady. And no fair-minded person should ignore, deny, or dismiss the achievements of the Iraqi people.

Some observers question the durability of democracy in Iraq. They underestimate the power and appeal of freedom. We've heard it suggested that Iraq's democracy must be on shaky ground because Iraqis are arguing with each other. But that's the essence of democracy: making your case, debating with those who you disagree -- who disagree, building consensus by persuasion, and answering to the will of the people. We've heard it said that the Shia, Sunnis and Kurds of Iraq are too divided to form a lasting democracy. In fact, democratic federalism is the best hope for unifying a diverse population, because a federal constitutional system respects the rights and religious traditions of all citizens, while giving all minorities, including the Sunnis, a stake and a voice in the future of their country. It is true that the seeds of freedom have only recently been planted in Iraq -- but democracy, when it grows, is not a fragile flower; it is a healthy, sturdy tree. (Applause.)

As Americans, we believe that people everywhere -- everywhere -- prefer freedom to slavery, and that liberty, once chosen, improves the lives of all. And so we're confident, as our coalition and the Iraqi people each do their part, Iraqi democracy will succeed.

Some observers also claim that America would be better off by cutting our losses and leaving Iraq now. This is a dangerous illusion, refuted with a simple question: Would the United States and other free nations be more safe, or less safe, with Zarqawi and bin Laden in control of Iraq, its people, and its resources? Having removed a dictator who hated free peoples, we will not stand by as a new set of killers, dedicated to the destruction of our own country, seizes control of Iraq by violence.

There's always a temptation, in the middle of a long struggle, to seek the quiet life, to escape the duties and problems of the world, and to hope the enemy grows weary of fanaticism and tired of murder. This would be a pleasant world, but it's not the world we live in. The enemy is never tired, never sated, never content with yesterday's brutality. This enemy considers every retreat of the civilized world as an invitation to greater violence. In Iraq, there is no peace without victory. We will keep our nerve and we will win that victory. (Applause.)

The fifth element of our strategy in the war on terror is to deny the militants future recruits by replacing hatred and resentment with democracy and hope across the broader Middle East. This is a difficult and long-term project, yet there's no alternative to it. Our future and the future of that region are linked. If the broader Middle East is left to grow in bitterness, if countries remain in misery, while radicals stir the resentments of millions, then that part of the world will be a source of endless conflict and mounting danger, and for our generation and the next. If the peoples of that region are permitted to choose their own destiny, and advance by their own energy and by their participation as free men and women, then the extremists will be marginalized, and the flow of violent radicalism to the rest of the world will slow, and eventually end. By standing for the hope and freedom of others, we make our own freedom more secure.

America is making this stand in practical ways. We're encouraging our friends in the Middle East, including Egypt and Saudi Arabia, to take the path of reform, to strengthen their own societies in the fight against terror by respecting the rights and choices of their own people. We're standing with dissidents and exiles against oppressive regimes, because we know that the dissidents of today will be the democratic leaders of tomorrow. We're making our case through public diplomacy, stating clearly and confidently our belief in self-determination, and the rule of law, and religious freedom, and equal rights for women, beliefs that are right and true in every land, and in every culture. (Applause.)

As we do our part to confront radicalism, we know that the most vital work will be done within the Islamic world, itself. And this work has begun. Many Muslim scholars have already publicly condemned terrorism, often citing Chapter 5, Verse 32 of the Koran, which states that killing an innocent human being is like killing all humanity, and saving the life of one person is like saving all of humanity. After the attacks in London on July the 7th, an imam in the United Arab Emirates declared, "Whoever does such a thing is not a Muslim, nor a religious person." The time has come for all responsible Islamic leaders to join in denouncing an ideology that exploits Islam for political ends, and defiles a noble faith.

Many people of the Muslim faith are proving their commitment at great personal risk. Everywhere we have engaged the fight against extremism, Muslim allies have stood up and joined the fight, becoming partners in a vital cause. Afghan troops are in combat against Taliban remnants. Iraqi soldiers are sacrificing to defeat al Qaeda in their own country. These brave citizens know the stakes -- the survival of their own liberty, the future of their own region, the justice and humanity of their own tradition -- and that United States of America is proud to stand beside them. (Applause.)

With the rise of a deadly enemy and the unfolding of a global ideological struggle, our time in history will be remembered for new challenges and unprecedented dangers. And yet the fight we have joined is also the current expression of an ancient struggle, between those who put their faith in dictators, and those who put their faith in the people. Throughout history, tyrants and would-be tyrants have always claimed that murder is justified to serve their grand vision -- and they end up alienating decent people across the globe. Tyrants and would-be tyrants have always claimed that regimented societies are strong and pure -- until those societies collapse in corruption and decay. Tyrants and would-be tyrants have always claimed that free men and women are weak and decadent -- until the day that free men and women defeat them.

We don't know the course of our own struggle -- the course our own struggle will take -- or the sacrifices that might lie ahead. We do know, however, that the defense of freedom is worth our sacrifice. We do know the love of freedom is the mightiest force of history. And we do know the cause of freedom will once again prevail.

May God bless you. (Applause.)

END 10:47 A.M. EDT

George Bush: 'God told me to end the tyranny in Iraq'

President told Palestinians God also talked to him about Middle East peace

Ewen MacAskill
Friday October 7, 2005
The Guardian

George Bush believes he is on a mission from God, according to the politician Nabil Shaath. Photograph: Charles Dharapak/AP

George Bush has claimed he was on a mission from God when he launched the invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq, according to a senior Palestinian politician in an interview to be broadcast by the BBC later this month.
Mr Bush revealed the extent of his religious fervour when he met a Palestinian delegation during the Israeli-Palestinian summit at the Egpytian resort of Sharm el-Sheikh, four months after the US-led invasion of Iraq in 2003.

One of the delegates, Nabil Shaath, who was Palestinian foreign minister at the time, said: "President Bush said to all of us: 'I am driven with a mission from God'. God would tell me, 'George go and fight these terrorists in Afghanistan'. And I did. And then God would tell me 'George, go and end the tyranny in Iraq'. And I did."
Mr Bush went on: "And now, again, I feel God's words coming to me, 'Go get the Palestinians their state and get the Israelis their security, and get peace in the Middle East'. And, by God, I'm gonna do it."

Mr Bush, who became a born-again Christian at 40, is one of the most overtly religious leaders to occupy the White House, a fact which brings him much support in middle America.

Soon after, the Israeli daily newspaper Haaretz carried a Palestinian transcript of the meeting, containing a version of Mr Bush's remarks. But the Palestinian delegation was reluctant publicly to acknowledge its authenticity.

The BBC persuaded Mr Shaath to go on the record for the first time for a three-part series on Israeli-Palestinian diplomacy: Elusive Peace, which begins on Monday.

Religion also surfaced as an issue when Mr Bush and Tony Blair were reported to have prayed together in 2002 at his ranch at Crawford, Texas - the summit at which the invasion of Iraq was agreed in principle. Mr Blair has consistently refused to admit or deny the claim.

Mahmoud Abbas, the Palestinian prime minister, who was also part of the delegation at Sharm el-Sheikh, told the BBC programme that Mr Bush had said: "I have a moral and religious obligation. I must get you a Palestinian state. And I will."

Mr Shaath's comments came as Mr Bush delivered a speech yesterday aimed at bolstering US support for the Iraq war.

He revealed that the US and its partners had disrupted at least 10 serious al-Qaida plots since September 11, including three planned attacks in the US. "Because of this steady progress, the enemy is wounded - but the enemy is still capable of global operations," he said. He added that Islamic radicals had used a series of excuses to justify their attacks, from conflict with the Israelis to the Crusades 1,000 years ago.

"We're facing a radical ideology with unalterable objectives: to enslave whole nations and intimidate the world," he said.

He conceded that al-Qaida, led in Iraq by Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, and other insurgents had gained ground in Iraq but the US would not leave until security had been established. "Some observers also claim that America would be better off by cutting our losses and leaving Iraq now. This is a dangerous illusion, refuted with a simple question: Would the United States and other free nations be more safe, or less safe, with Zarqawi and Bin Laden in control of Iraq, its people, and its resources?" Mr Bush asked.

From a friend of a friend of my mother

I think Americans are spoiled rotten, and some Europeans, too. I
think they have had the luxury of choosing to forget, during these
last fifty years or so, what human nature is and what the human animal
is, and about the power of religion in human history. More wars have
been fought and more people killed (I believe) because of religion
than any other single cause. Americans in particular have had the
luxury, living in peace in an Xtian country which claims to not allow
any discrimination on the basis of religion, to convince themselves
that religion doesn't 'really' matter, and that we could all just
agree to disagree and live happily ever after.

Don't get me wrong, I think it's a wonderful dream.

But it *is* a dream, based on a complete denial of what the world
outside of the united states is like. People blow each other up in
northern Ireland, and murder each other in Bosnia and Hergozovena
(sp?), and blow themselves up taking busloads of school children with
them in Israel and this is really, truly the way humans behave. In
WWII, over 6 million people were horribly persecuted and killed simply
because they were Jewish. Also 3 milion Catholics, and almost all the
Gypsys.

I need to back up and say that maybe it's not 'about' religion, maybe
religion is just the excuse, but regardless, the issue of religion
comes up.

There was the genocide in Biafra, and the civil war in Somalia (Xtians
against Muslims, but we choose to not take notice of that fact).
There are ongoing wars of anihilation against indigenous groups in
Mexico, and Central and South America - few of them are actual 'hot'
wars, but only because the balance of power is SO unbalanced that the
natives have few if any options but to try and dig further into the
jungle, or assimilate and lose their religion that way.

There were the Turks starving the Armenians, and the civil war in
Cyprus ... The Muslims gassing of Kurd cities, and the Sunni muslims
killing and blowing up the shi'a muslims - not to mention the war of
'Secular' Iraq (under Hassam) against 'religious' Iran. And that is
just in this century, and I haven't even touched on Bali, or
India/Pakistan, or the various religions and religious groups in
southeast Asia which have battled and battle each other, communism,
China (and within China), ... And YES, despite Americans (and
Canadians, and Britons, and ....) wish to believe otherwise, there are
still people killed in the U.S., Canada, &tc., for the crime of being
the 'wrong' religion. When I lived in Springfield, MA, people drove
by the kosher bakery and shot it up. They didn't do it because we
could all just get along if we tried.

Let me rephrase that. None of us can safely believe the fiction that
we can all just get along if we try, unless ALL of us believe it, and
are willing to try.

Please note, this last century is not unusual. The only thing unusual
about it in human history is that we have the instantaneous
transmission of the 'news' and images from the various spots of
violence around the world. The violence is not unusual at all. Times
in human history that are relatively *without* violence are so rare
that they get commented on - Genghis Kahn's reign in Asia (when
supposedly a naked virgin carrying a bag of gold could ride from one
end of his empire to the other unmolested - so what the rule of his
law within his empire), and Pax Romana.

What is happening in the world today, is what has been happening in
the world throughout human history. The GOOD thing is that there are
pockets of the world where people have been given enough breathing
space from the endless cycle of human violence that they have learned
and come to believe that it might be possible, eventually, for all
humans to just sit down and *discuss* our differences and find ways to
live together.

It is just a breathing space, though, unless those people, who have
that luxury, don't close their eyes to the fact that they do live in
an anomalie, and don't close their eyes to the fact that the rest of
the world still lives seconds away from brutish, mindless violence.

You *can't* expect people who have not experienced the American
experience to just sit down and talk - it's not part of their
experience or their worldview. And if the next tribe just over the
hill is shooting at them, they are going to shoot back. Mindless
hatred is not something that is new, or different, or happening only
because of George Bush, or Global Warming, or American Imperialism,
and we can't cure what we didn't create. We certainly can't even work
TOWARDS a cure unless we are willing to let go of our comforting lies
to ourselves, and face the fact that the world is a much bigger,
messier, uglier, and more chaotic place than our tiny corner of it has
been for the last couple of centuries.

No, I don't think it is the end of the world, and the violence is not
increasing (although reporting of it, and scandalously inciteful and
biased reporting of it is). I think that, honestly, more people are
living better, safer, healthier lives that last longer than at any
time in human history. I think we have done a hell of a job, so far,
and the trick is to keep on doing what we have been doing for a couple
of hundred years. Not retreat into self-blame and chest-beating and
despair because the world hasn't been completely transformed into some
1960's ideal of peace, love and brotherhood in a few short centuries.

I DO believe that Hashem's heart cries about how we humans behave,
just as it has since the beginning of time. I believe his heart leaps
when people are able to rise above what is sadly the norm of human
behaviour. I believe that it is our job to try and make ourselves and
our world better. I believe that Hashem doesn't care how you pray, or
what religion you claim for yourself, or what you call him/her/it. I
believe that people get all caught up in the end of the world, or
Armaggedon, because if if it's that big and unmanageable, then they
are off the hook for doing the little, hard things that actually make
a difference (never underestimate the power of laziness in human
society).

Judaism says (or an old, respected dead rabbi, which amounts to the
same thing here) that you are not expected to finish the work, but
neither are to allowed to refrain from doing it. And it says that
turning the other cheek to evil is condoning evil, that you must take
up arms against evil, you must fight evil, in whatever way you can.

AA tells me I can't make the Indians and the Pakistanis stop wanting
to kill one another, but I can make an effort to try and see my
neighbor's annoying behaviour in a sympathetic way. I am incapable of
bringing peace to the middle east, but I can work to bring peace into
my own heart and home.

I believe that if everyone, from George Bush and Saddam Hussein, all
down through to Anjolina Jolie's new Ethiopian baby all narrowed their
focus down to trying to be better people in their own lives, and
stopped trying to fix the fella across the street, the whole world
would have taken a giant step forward, and Hashem's heart would be
near to bursting from pride and joy.

All I can do is my part.

And, yes, I am armed, and I will shoot any mo'fo' who tries to shoot
at me or my family or my neighbors families. Violence is not the
opposite of good, evil is.

Friday, October 21, 2005

Syrian Officials Attempted to Hamper Hariri Investigation

05:40 Oct 21, '05 / 18 Tishrei 5766

(IsraelNN.com) UN investigators reported to UN Secretary-General Kofi Anan that senior Syrian officials did not cooperate fully with the investigation as they announced, adding they placed stumbling blocks along the route.

The investigation also led to signs of criminal activities related to money laundering, leading to a recommendation that the Lebanese government continue the investigation.

Syrian Foreign Minister Farouk a-Shara is mentioned as one of the high-ranking officials who attempted to interfere with the investigation.


Is anyone surprised?

Bush to Abbas: Do More to Fight Terror

Bush to Abbas: Do More to Fight Terror
19:56 Oct 20, '05 / 17 Tishrei 5766
By Hana Levi Julian


U.S. President George W. Bush told Palestinian Authority Chairman on Thursday that he must do more to fight terrorism.

At a press conference following the meeting, Bush emphasized the importance of seizing the moment of opportunity presented by the Israeli withdrawal from Gaza.

For the first time, however, Bush noted that a Palestinian state might not be possible until after he has left office, three years away. Bush set a goal last year for the creation of a Palestinian state before the end of his term in 2008.

Bush noted that the Palestinian Authority would have to reject and fight terrorism in order to "earn the confidence of its neighbors," a clear reference to Israel's skepticism about Abbas' ability to control terrorist factions.

"The way forward must begin by confronting the threat that armed gangs pose to a genuinely democratic Palestine," said Bush.

Abbas said he was doing his best to end the violence that left three young Israelis dead and four others wounded in two terrorists attacks in Israel on Sunday. The Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, a terrorist organization affiliated with Abbas' ruling Fatah faction, claimed responsibility for the murders.

The PA chairman said he has taken "active steps" to impose the rule of law and public order," but added that Israel needs to "do more" to foster an atmosphere of peace by returning to the Roadmap peace plan promoted by Bush.

U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice had equally critical words on Wednesday for Israel prior to her meeting with Abbas. Rice warned at a meeting of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee that Israeli construction between East Jerusalem and Ma'aleh Adumim was in direct contradiction to the Bush administration policy in the Middle East.

Abbas was scheduled to meet with Senate and House leaders later in the day, followed by a final meeting with Vice President Dick Cheney before returning to the Middle East.

Thursday, October 20, 2005

I'm all for energy independence.

I got this offmy dad's computer, I have no idea where it comes from.


I'm all for energy independence.

I am totally against any form of state control of the energy sector.

Oh, we should keep the various anti-trust/monopoly rules in place (and enforce them) along with all of the other constraints that we as a people have imposed to reign in the excesses of the free market.

But tell them what to do? Dudes, central planning worked so well for GOSPLAN (look it up if you don't know) that we should inflict that on ourselves?

How about this, take advantage of the 'Creative Destruction' of the market, use Government policy to encourage innovation, use Government (Our!) money to help startup technologies that show promise over the initial hump.


From what I remember of the Democratic Energy plan, it was long, high sounding tripe....more of the same platitudes we've come to expect from a commitee designed to make sure every special interest group got it's issue covered.

I want bold, simple, bullet proof, visionary ideas.

For example:
___________________________
Household Electricity
___________________________

Gov't legeslation to enact a nation wide Utility Intertie standard (look it up if you don't already know).

Bulk Gov't purchases of the equipement for this to outfit every post office in the country with standard (modular) Solar/Intertie package that would provide say, 100% of the day time peak load requirement for non-heating purposes. (Lights, A/C, computers, etc).
Design in the use of a small wind plant as a standard option.

Put these packages out to low cost bulk bids, and then expand to the rest of the federal infrastructure (Court Houses, Offices, ect).

Now, enact a federal low cost, guarenteed loan program to enable home owners to install there own version of the package. Tie it in with Utility Co Rebates if possible.

This has been done on a small scale by PG&E with good results in California.

What have you accomplished?

You have defined a voluntary standard that will work anywhere in the country.

You have deployed tens of thousands of these around the country as test bed/demonstration platforms. Just let the folks coming to pick up their mail see the electric meter running backwards while they wait in line! Let them pick up an application for a gov't loan while waiting, and drop it in a box at the front of the line.

You will have ramped up production of components to the point that the per unit price will drop, and competition will emerge.

Having set up the basic infrastructure, you now enable the mass production, deployment, and utilization of this technology.

You will create hundreds or thousands of new jobs in manufacturing, installation, sales, etc.

You will prevent need to construct dozens of large central power stations.

You will decentralize power production, limiting the vulnerability of the entire system.

Rolling blackouts during a sunny heat wave would be a thing of the past.

------------------------------------------------
Transportation
------------------------------------------------
CAFE Standards? Drop 'em along with any other federal mandates as to minimum gas milage, speed limits (for gas consumption purposes), etc.

What!?!?! you screaaaaaam?

How about this, impose a $1 a gallon 'energy independence' tax on gasoline, peg it lower for Petro Diesel (cost of trucking/transport issues...), Let Bio Diesel be sold tax free. Use the money to reimburse the states for leaving alternative fueled/ vehicles free of any motor vehicle excise tax.

Use the money to cover Federal Tax Credits for these vehicles...

Set federal standards for Bio-Diesel (like the Octane ratings, nuh?)

Mandate that all new purchases of federal vehicles dual fuel capable (Petro/BioDiesel) as of 2007. Have the Gov't convert any existing Petro Diesel vehicles to dual fueled as of 2006.

Make it a federal standard that any Diesel Engine passenger vehicle sold be capable of running on dual fuel as of 2010.

Once these are standard options from the major car companies (or standard retro fit kits), the tax incentives will drive customers to the platform.

Set a goal of having a million Bio-Deisel vehicles on the road by 2010, with the fuel readily available at any service station. The infrastructure is there, it's proven, it could soak up a lot of excess farm capacity, and build a refinery infrastructure in the mid west.

We are talking about corn oil, soya, canola, things we already know how to grow in abundance.

Unlike ethanol or hydrogen it's a self sustaining loop, as the very agricultural base of the industry can run on the bio diesel in generates.


Just Juggle the numbers so that by 2010 you have the refining capacity in place, the vehicles on the road, and the cost of bio-diesel at about 3/4 that of gasoline.

If Brazil can do it, and they have, we can too.

Again, more jobs, less pollution, free choice for the people.

If want to drive a gas guzzling, road hog a an SUV, fine. It's my choice and I'll pay the cost of that choice.

If you think an alternate choice is better, the solution is education, support, and encouragement.

------------------------------------------------
Nuclear Power
------------------------------------------------

oh boy, hot button eh?

deal with the nuclear waste issue!

It's long past time.

New generations of Nuclear reactors are safer than ever, standard designs and mass production can prevent the cost over run nightmares of the past.

The old ones are not going away, new ones will be built, let's do it right this time.

Let's pick a federal site that is reasonably safe and secure and get started. If in 50 years we discover someting better, we'll just have to pick up and move the stuff. Yeah, I know it won't be that easy, but lets be honest, that's the American way of getting things done, so why fight it.

Announce to the world that we will accept responsibility for shipping and storing nuclear waste from anyone or anywhere. Set it up by treaty, ad hoc, whatever. The point is we'd rather India and Pakastan stored this stuff under our watch than someone elses....We'll let the EU and Japan hang on to theirs (besides, the'd probably be to embarrased to be found relying on us anyway)

Spend some real federal money on R&D for long term storage (Glassification, Subduction Zone Burial, whatever)

We will clean our own house, make allowance for the future, and do the world a favor at the same time.

The man who wrote this is a Fucking Lier: there is not one true word in this article

Nothing New Going On Here

POW Abuse by the US

By MICKEY Z.

As news of a prisoner hunger strike finally begins to trickle out from Guantanamo, rest assured any wrongdoing will be pinned on a few bad apples. However, even a cursory glance at U.S. treatment of enemies captured during military interventions will demonstrate that the goings-on at Gitmo (or Abu Ghraib for that matter) are standard operating procedure for the home of the brave.

During the Second World War, for example, it required a mouthpiece none other than prominent racist Colonel Charles A. Lindbergh, Jr. to expose American tactics in the Pacific. His sentiments are summed up in the following journal entry:

"It was freely admitted that some of our soldiers tortured Jap prisoners and were as cruel and barbaric at times as the Japs themselves. Our men think nothing of shooting a Japanese prisoner or a soldier attempting to surrender. They treat the Jap with less respect than they would give to an animal, and these acts are condoned by almost everyone. We claim to be fighting for civilization, but the more I see of this war in the Pacific the less right I think we have to claim to be civilized."

"When Lindbergh finally left the Pacific islands and cleared customs in Hawaii," says author John Dower, "he was asked if he had any [Japanese] bones in his baggage. It was, he was told, a routine question."

While the treatment of Japanese POWs was commonly little more than making sure there were no Japanese POWs, those Axis soldiers captured in the European theater often learned firsthand how good the good guys were.

"Before the invasion of Sicily, General Patton told his men to accept no surrender from enemy soldiers who continued to fire within the highly lethal 200-yards range," says historian Michael C.C. Adams. "At Biscari, U.S. troops killed thirty-four unarmed prisoners who had given up at the correct distance, but these GIs had seen buddies killed, and they didn't feel that a few yards made any difference...[Even] Audie Murphy told new men to take no prisoners and to kill Axis wounded."

Many of those who were actually taken prisoner may have soon wished they were killed. "Captured Germans held in France under the command of General Dwight D. Eisenhower were systematically starved," writes David K. Wright while another 676,000 or so German prisoners were shipped to the United States between 1942 and 1946.

Alexander Cockburn adds: "In U.S. camps, POWs were starved to the point of collapse, performed 20 million man-days of work on army posts and 10 million man-days for contract employers. Some were assigned to work for the Chemical Warfare Center at Edgewood Arsenal in Maryland."

Some 372,000 German POWs in the United States were forced-at the behest of Eleanor Roosevelt-to undergo a re-education program, "to return them to 'Christian practices' and to reject 'German thinking,' says Cockburn. "As time wore on, the name of the program was changed to 'intellectual diversion'."

Canadian writer James Bacque, in his book "Other Losses," goes even further, claiming that up to one million German POWs in Europe died from Allied neglect while others were used by the French to fight the Vietnamese. While perusing "Good War" documents called the "Weekly Prisoner of War and Disarmed Enemy Report," Bacque found statistics under the heading "Other Losses" which he interpreted to mean POW deaths. The author consulted with Colonel Philip S. Lauben, who had been chief of the German Affairs Branch of the Supreme Headquarters, Allied Expeditionary Force (SHAEF).

"[Other Losses] means deaths and escapes," Lauben explained.

When asked how many escapes he recalled, Lauben replied, "Very, very minor." Bacque later discovered the number was less than one-tenth of one percent.

"It is beyond doubt," Bacque writes, "that enormous numbers of men of all ages, plus some women and childen, died of exposure, unsanitary conditions, disease and starvation in the American and French camps in Germany and France starting in April 1945." Bacque puts those numbers at "almost certainly over 900,000, and quite likely over a million."

Needless to say, these controversial figures have been vigorously denied by official sources. Adams addressed Bacque's unsettling work in his book: "Bacques' crediblity has been assailed by Stephen Ambrose, a biographer of Dwight D. Eisenhower, the man who would bear ultimate responsibility for these crimes. Ambrose points out that Bacque at times relied on slender or circumstantial evidence and that it would have been hard to keep so great a scandal quiet for so long [New York Times Book Review, February 24, 1991]. On the other hand, American guards have come forward to support Bacque. One wrote: 'I witnessed the atrocities Stephen E. Ambrose tries to deny or gloss over' [New York Times Book Review, April 14, 1991]...The truth is probably somewhere in the middle...As another guard admitted: 'we sometimes slipped over the boundary of civilized behavior and resembled to some extent what we were fighting against.'"

With the high level of censorship existing in the Allied theater of operations, perhaps the key to keeping "so great a scandal quiet for so long" is that, for most people, it never existed. At the time, General George S. Patton wrote in his diary: "Ike made the sensational statement that while hostilities were in progress, the one important thing was order and discipline, but now that hostilities were over, the important thing was to stay in with world public opinion-apparently whether it was right or wrong...Eisenhower talked to us very confidentially on the necessity for solidarity in the event that any of us are called before a Congressional Committee."

No matter who's in office or where the war takes place, it's all the same.

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

British diplomat summoned in Iran

Oct 17, 2005

Iranian Foreign Ministry on Monday summoned British charge d'affaires Mrs Kate Smith in absence of the ambassador to hear complaint about baseless charges British officials have raised against Iran on meddling in Iraq.

Foreign Ministry deputy director general for western European affairs Delfi delivered a note of protest to the British diplomat against illusive allegations against Iran being repeated by UK officials on Iranian meddling in Iraq and sought explanation from British Foreign Office.

After hearing the deep dissatisfaction of Iran's Foreign Ministry, Mrs Smith said that the protest would be conveyed to UK Foreign Office and reply would be delivered soon.

The British diplomat regretted the deadly bomb blasts which took place in Ahvaz on October 15, she condemned the terrorist incident on behalf of the British government.


Any question of the media being biased?

Sunday, October 16, 2005

IDF General Not Deterred by Kotel Stones

10:36 Oct 16, '05 / 13 Tishrei 5766
By Hillel Fendel

IDF Maj.-Gen. Elazar Stern was attacked with stones when he visited the Western Wall on Friday evening - and was jeered when he visited again yesterday.

The yarmulke-wearing Stern heads the IDF Personnel Corps. When he arrived with his family to pray at the Western Wall on Friday evening, a large group of worshipers began calling him names, and some even threw rocks. He later said that his young daughter was afraid and began to cry, but that he himself was not afraid. The police escorted the Sterns away from the area, and detained one suspected attacker.

Gen. Stern has angered the the religious camp several times in the recent past. He caused a storm earlier this year when he announced his intention to dismantle the hesder yeshiva units and spread their soldiers out in larger battalions. Stern later threatened, that if two hesder yeshivot deans who encouraged their students to refuse disengagement-related orders do not resign, the army would call off their hesder arrangement.

The rock attack was widely condemned. Prime Minister Ariel Sharon called Stern on Saturday night to sympathize with him, saying he views "this criminal act with great gravity." Defense Minister Sha'ul Mofaz said, "Every attack against a soldier for activities that he carried out in the framework of his army service is delinquent behavior that we will never accept." IDF Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Dan Halutz similarly condemned the attack on Stern.

MK Zevulun Orlev, head of the National Religious Party, said, "Differences of opinion cannot justify violence. This is not the path of religious-Zionism... especially not at the holiest place for Jews and on the Sabbath eve."

Gen. Stern arrived again at the Western Wall yesterday, where another group of worshipers yelled at him for his part in uprooting Jews. Speaking at length with Ynet afterwards, Stern said, "Whoever thinks he can determine who will arrive at the Kotel and pray is mistaken. Everyone may come there, and it is very sad that there are those who call themselves 'important rabbis' and are part of this wild behavior." He refused to talk with Arutz-7 on the matter, however.

Gen. Stern is not the only public figure to be targeted during a public appearance recently on the backdrop of his support for the disengagement plan. Deputy Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, currently the Acting Finance Minister and a strong promoter of Sharon's expulsion plan, was jeered on Yom Kippur night at Jerusalem's Great Synagogue after he was honored with opening the Holy Ark and publicly greeted. One worshiper called out, "He is a criminal! He destroyed synagogues [in Gush Katif]! He destroyed yeshivas and Talmudei Torah!" Other worshipers silenced the heckler.

Rabbi Elyakim Levanon of Elon Moreh told Arutz-7 that the verbal attack on Olmert was not advisable, "for as we saw, it did not achieve the desired result; the heckler was silenced, while Olmert remained." Rabbi Levanon has said that it "is not forbidden, but it is certainly unpleasant" to pray together with people who took part in the disengagement.

Conclusion: The israeli right is starting to show disturbing similarities to the american left -Bill.

U found this while googling(please don't ask what I was googling for)

Iran blasted for hanging of girl in chastity case
Aug 26, 2004

A leading human rights group on Tuesday denounced Iran's reported public execution of a teen girl in a controversial 'chastity case'.[Quotation marks mine]-Bill

The judge in the case said he was punishing the 16-year-old for her "sharp tongue," according to the Iran Focus Web site.

Ateqeh Rajabi was reportedly hanged on a street in downtown Neka, Iran, on Aug. 15, and her case has stirred outrage.

The human rights group, Amnesty International, said it "is alarmed that this execution was carried out despite reports that Ateqeh Rajabi was not believed to be mentally competent, and that she reportedly did not have access to a lawyer at any stage."

The facts of the case are hazy. But Amnesty, quoting a report on the Peyk-e Iran site, said Rajabi was sentenced to death for "acts incompatible with chastity."

The other defendant in the chastity case, an unnamed man, was reportedly sentenced to 100 lashes.


My comments:
On one level, I'm felling sorry for the girl, but on another level I'm felling only slight disgust for these people who are acting all surprised about it; Iranians have been doing this sort of thing for centuries, only people who are being willfully ignorant(read: Ivory tower liberals) couldbe honestly surprised at this.

Comment #2: It seems to me that a side effect of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq that no one seems to remark upon is that there is a whole lot more media attention focused on the middle east than there was before.

Comment the third: There's a site called omdurman.org with a lot of royalty-free leaflets for distribution; one of them shows a map of the mideast with the major sources of terrorism marked,and it has a caption at the top saying, USA: Let's Roll!, I'll read of something like this and I think of that map, and I think to myself: Why don't we roll? roll right over all these petty tyrants, terrorist regimes and fascist-religious governments and install democratically-elected governments that can maintain peace and justice and all the other things that make western civilization preferable to just about anything else on this earth.

Saturday, October 15, 2005

Clubbing Baby Seals

I found this at http://www.neptunuslex.com/ , it's very good.

Posted by lex under Politics and Culture

I know I shouldn’t do it, but sometimes I just can’t resist. Every other week or so, I drop by a blog dedicated to a political point of view rather other than my own, and drop a dissenting point of view in the comments bin. And then sit back, and watch the fun begin.

The reason why I shouldn’t do this is simple: Most blogs, of whatever political flavor, tend over time to become echo chambers. Everyone agrees with everyone else. And people tend to take either linguistic or logical shortcuts to the destination everyone is going to anyway. Why beat around the bush? So much so, that when someone drops in and strays from the accepted orthodoxy, there’s usually a bit of humorous sputtering and chest beating. But the reason why it’s rather feeble sport is because, in time, the blogger tends to get a bit complacent (I am guilty of this as well): He can see an article in the NYT saying that the political divide in blue states vs red states is interestingly correlated with single parenthood, with a higher incidence overall to be found in the red states. And from that observation, he can, if he is so inclined, draw the self-reinforcing conclusion that conservative ideology is somehow to blame for this failure of societal perfection.

Which is deeply silly, of course, because the data isn’t discriminated by economic stratum, voter patterns or anything else. Even in the red states, the division between those voting for one party vs the other measures perhaps 10% in all. There’s nothing in the study quoted to lead one to believe that Muffy and Biff from the Red State Country Club are conspiring with the rest of their conservative and privileged cohort to have babies out of wedlock against the ostensible values of red state society, or conversely whether this is happening somewhere else in the state, at some other, less privileged social stratum. I made the point (equally silly, but at least analytically defensible) that perhaps it was all due to the fact that blue state folks were more likely to get abortions, rather than have their out of wedlock babies. Without, I might add, putting any moral opprobrium on either choice. Freedom of, and all that.

For my pains, I was asked to take my “single diget (sic) IQ” elsewhere.

The blog post author himself (and fair being fair, did so in an earnest and forthright way) told me (in part) that:

(M)ost people who have abortions are nonpolitical, so referring to them as “pro-choice,” while technically correct (since they did get an abortion), it means little in practical terms, since they are not part of a pro-choice movement and are not political or activist.

Which has interesting second order effects, when you think about it, because what he’s saying is (conceding Taranto’s statistically supported points about people of color being both more likely to have abortions, and more likely to vote for the party most closely associated with a pro-choice point of view), that these people are somehow not authentic, nor are their opinions germane to this discussion because they are not pro-choice activists. But they are voters, and an attitude that says that they somehow don’t really matter in this discussion goes a long way towards explaining what has happened to the Democratic Party over the course of the last two elections, at least in my humble point of view.

So anyway, it has always been a guilty pleasure, this class of tweaking, and once I have debrided myself of it, I suspect I’ll miss it least of all.

Update: Well, I guess I’m locked out of the debate, since I can’t post a reply to his last.

Here’s what I would have said, if allowed:

In re: Poverty in all states. Sure, there is poverty in all states, but let’s break that out by percentages against the national average (source). With the national average poverty rate of 12.7%, the blue state (non-weighted) poverty rate is 10.78%, nearly 2 per cent less than the national average. Conversely, the red state poverty rate slightly exceeds the national average at 13%. Significantly, only four blue states (CA, NY, MI and DC) are above the national average, while 15 red states (AL, AZ, GA, KY, LA, MS, MO, MT, NC, SC, SD, TN, TX, WV and NM) are above the national average (15.2%).

Further, of the blue states quoted in the NYT article, only NY (15.0%) has a poverty rate above the national average, while each of the 10 red states cited had poverty rates significantly above the national average, with the solitary exception of WY. In fact, if you group the states listed, the blue examples have a (non-weighted) poverty rate of 10.7% and the red states cited (including WY) have an average of 15%, which is 80% of the difference between single-parent families noted in the article before we factor in the availability of abortion.

So it’s at least as likely that the NYT article actually supports the argument that poverty and single-parenthood are very highly correlated, which probably shouldn’t come as a surprise, although of course cause and effect can be debated at length. But once again, that would mean thumping poor people rather than those whose policies you disagree with.

Oh, and as for your suspicions, you may do with those what you will. I decline to be baited.

Thursday, October 13, 2005

US Gov't Apologizes for GI's Looting in WWII

12:28 Oct 12, '05 / 9 Tishrei 5766

(IsraelNN.com) The US Justice Department issued a statement Tuesday in which it expressed regret for the looting by US soldiers of valuables stolen from Hungarian Jews by the Nazis during World War II.

The incident took place at the end of the war, as US forces took over a Nazi train carrying jewelry, gold, artwork, Oriental rugs, china, cutlery, linens and other items, most of which had been stolen from Jews. The statement issued by the US Justice Department said that the government "regrets the improper conduct of certain of its military personnel" who took items that had been on the train. "The United States has concluded that, although the conduct of its personnel was appropriate in most respects, it was contrary to US policy and the standards expected of its soldiers" in some actions, the statement said.

The apology was part of a settlement of a case initiated against the US government by about 62,000 Hungarian survivors of the Holocaust. In addition to the apology, $25.5 million is to be distributed to needy Jews through social service agencies around the world, with the bulk going to those in Israel, Hungary, the United States and Canada.

I and my sister disagree greatly on this development: I am of the opinion that since the US did absolutely nothing to the Hungarian Jews, and took nothing from them, we owe them nothing; when I read this to my sister, she said: "Well they [americans] owe them for enough other things. . ."

When I questioned my sister on what other things the US owed Hungarian Jewry for, she thought a moment, then got off on a strange tangent about how the british allowed more jews into palestine after the war than the allied countries allowed past their borders before the war. Which is patently untrue: None of the allied countries placed a restriction on jewish immigration before the war: the germans wouldn't let jews out.

Even if it was true, it has nothing to do with GIs looting a Nazi train loaded with stolen goods.

Sorry about that, I just sometimes have to write my frustrations out and you happen to be a convenient target.

The Bin Laden Bomb song

this thing is incredibly funny, extra points if you can figure out which song they're spoofing.
(I can't figure out how to make a link, so here's the URL)
http://pad.olsonnetwork.com/downloads/binladen.html

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

From a fella over at CentCom. . .

October 10, 2005
Release Number: 05-10-32

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

FIRST U.S. HUMANITARIAN AIRLIFT REACHES ISLAMABAD

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan - A United States Air Force C-17 delivered the first
relief supplies here within 48 hours of the devastating earthquake that has
left thousands dead and thousands more injured and displaced.

The aircraft and its crew from the 7th Airlift Squadron, McChord Air Force
Base, Wash., delivered 12 pallets -- weighing almost 90,000 pounds -- of
food, water, medicine and blankets from Bagram Air Field, Afghanistan.

With only a few hours notice, Airmen and soldiers at Bagram, successfully
worked to palletize the humanitarian relief supplies and prepare them for
the flight. Three aerial port specialists were also on the flight to
coordinate and manage the cargo once it arrived at Islamabad.

"This was a total team effort," said Col. Mike Isherwood, 455th Air
Expeditionary Wing Vice Commander. "Our hearts go out to all those affected
by the earthquake and we are thankful we were able to help out."

Pakistan Army Brig. Gen. Imtiaz Sherazi, director of logistics, is
coordinating the relief efforts as supplies arrive and ensuring rapid
distribution of assistance to areas that need it most.

Said General Sherazi, "These items are very valuable to us because there are
lots of people in great distress."

As relief efforts are ongoing worldwide, United States Central Command will
continue to identify and provide additional capabilities for airborne
reconnaissance, heavy lift ground equipment, medical support, shelters,
rations and water to aid and assist the people of Pakistan.

# # #

October 9, 2005
Release Number: 05-10-30

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

STATEMENT FROM THE SECRETARY OF DEFENSE ON THE SOUTH ASIAN EARTHQUAKE

"On behalf of the men and women of the Department of Defense, I express my
condolences to those affected by the earthquake in South Asia.

"The Department of Defense is working closely with the State Department, and
affected governments, to provide assistance to ease the suffering and assist
in search and rescue operations.

"General John Abizaid, the Commander of the United States Central Command,
and others have been in touch with military officials in Pakistan, and is
moving five CH-47 and three UH-60 helicopters into Pakistan immediately.

"Additional capabilities for airborne reconnaissance, heavy lift ground
equipment, and medical support are being identified and dispatched from
within the Central Command region.

"Today, I will designate a dedicated Task Force commander in the region to
work with the affected governments, to help assess their needs, and to draw
on U.S. military capabilities from inside or outside the affected region as
may be available and required.

# # #

October 9, 2005
Release Number: 05-10-29

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

COALITION SENDS HELICOPTER SUPPORT TO ASSIST PAKISTAN EARTHQUAKE RECOVERY

KABUL , Afghanistan - At the request of the Pakistan Government, Combined
Forces Command-Afghanistan will send U.S. Army helicopters and support
personnel to assist with emergency recovery operations due to the earthquake
in Pakistan

Following Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice's statement of support for
relief, recovery and rescue operations, five CH-47 Chinook helicopters and
three UH-60 Blackhawk helicopters with their associated crews should arrive
Monday. They will provide rescue, recovery and logistics assistance.

CFC-A is in contact with the U.S. Embassy in Islamabad to provide planning
assistance and technical guidance as required.

This support will not degrade the Coalition's operations in the Global War
on Terror.

# # #

Monday, October 10, 2005

Rice Favors Diplomatic Isolation Over Attacking Syria

17:25 Oct 10, '05 / 7 Tishrei 5766
By Scott Shiloh

U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice succeeded in thwarting a United States attack on Syria at an October 1st meeting of senior American officials.

According to Newseek magazine, Rice said she favored isolating Syria diplomatically over launching a military strike. She cited a pending UN report that may blame Syria for assassinating former Lebanese prime minister Rafik Hariri.

The United States has accused Syria of harboring Iraqi insurgents who have been escalating the war against American forces in Iraq. U.S. forces have recently been waging an offensive against insurgents infiltrating into Iraq from Syria. The offensive has concentrated on Iraqi towns along the Syrian border.

President Bush turned up the heat on the Syrian government last Thursday when he referred to it as an “outlaw regime,” even going so far as to say that such a regime was an “enemy of civilization.”

Prior to the president’s speech, the U.S. ambassador to Iraq, Zalmay Khalilzad, said last month that “our patience was running out,” with Damascus.

In contrast to the recent harsh rhetoric, Newsweek reported that the United States had been privately praising Syria for handing Saddam Hussein’s half-brother Sabawi Ibrahim al-Hassan, to U.S. forces earlier in the year.

Syrian-U.S. relations, however, soured a few months ago when Syria cut off all security and intelligence cooperation with the United States, in retaliation for the United States’ tough public stance against the regime. The loss of cooperation has been costing the United States vital information important for precluding planned terrorist attacks.

Syria’s ambassador the United States, Imad Moustapha, told Newsweek that Syria was willing to resume cooperation with the United States, provided that the U.S. cease its public criticism of that country.

A U.S. attack on Syria could have serious repercussions for the Jewish State. Syria is known to have stored large quantities of chemical weapons and other weapons of mass destruction. Some security analysts suggest that Iraq may have transferred its weapons of mass destruction to Syria before the American strike on that country in 2003.

Some military analysts claim that Syria would choose to retaliate against Israel, in the event of a U.S. attack, an action that could embroil the Middle East in a major Arab-Israeli war. Such would have serious consequences for the region and the world at large.

Aside from attacking Israel directly, Syria could signal its proxies in Lebanon, particularly Hezbollah, to reignite the border with Israel. Hezbollah reportedly has in its possession thousands of surface to surface missiles that could destroy targets as far south as Haifa.

Sunday, October 09, 2005

Michael Yon: The Battle For Mosul IV

If you've never read Michael Yon before, here he is:

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Soldiers, Spies, and Sheep

They fled. It was all over the news. When the bullets flew, they fled. Leaving stations, abandoning posts, forgetting duties, hundreds of police fled. When the police response to gunfire was to simply run away, the city fell into lawlessness. Pundits rushed to the airwaves, proclaiming the city’s future hopeless. When the news of Hurricane Katrina first reached Mosul, the parallels were uncanny.

When Katrina battered the bayous of New Orleans, she submerged most of the Big Easy, leaving her defenseless. The levees broke and the looters and lowlifes who the Governor had euphemistically called “hoodlums” began ransacking the city. Their gunfire, combined with the prospect of patrolling streets awash in waist-high fetid water, repelled hundreds of police officers from their posts. Many police were unable or unwilling to slog into stations that were under water and out of electricity. Others simply deserted. While many police stood their ground, undoubtedly performing countless acts of heroism that will never be known, the cops who fled got the most attention. Watching the storm and its aftermath from Mosul, especially seeing the wash of relief on the faces of people as the US Army rolled in to restore order, I recalled a time when Mosul, like New Orleans, needed “a few good men.”


Disaster Relief 101

The military uses catchphrases like “kinetic fight.” Kinetic fights have nothing to do with “winning hearts and minds,” building clinics or showing people new ways of living. Kinetic fighting includes jets dropping bombs, helicopters launching missiles, tanks and artillery firing rounds, and lots of bullets: open warfare.

The initial invasion of Iraq was purely kinetic. A very powerful and heavily-armed Iraqi military fought back and was crushed. The standing government was toppled along with its statues. When American leaders said that major combat had ended, many Iraqis seemed ecstatic, but the much-predicted rose parade did not happen.

The combat that ended a corrupt and tyrannical government also removed law and order. With no Iraqi government, cities devolved into lawlessness. Museums were looted and government offices trashed and burned, while nascent animosities cowed by a tyrant, were revived, strengthened from the generations of dormancy. Iraq was a mess and getting messier fast. Infrastructure that worked under Saddam—corrupt and evil as he was—did not work under the Coalition. As we learned with Katrina, people cannot really see the big picture when the lights are out.

Like those days following Katrina, when it seemed the people in charge were doing little more than handwringing, fingerpointing or back-slapping, no one in Iraq seemed to have a good plan for what to do next. The constant back and forth of shifting priorities tilled the ground for an insurgency that in some areas grew to civil war proportions. When this new and deadlier guerrilla war emerged, the Coalition switched from a purely kinetic fight to what military leaders call a “full-spectrum fight.”

“Going full-spectrum” means that schools, medical clinics, community centers and other systems are built in addition to using combat power. Government workers, including security forces, are trained and given the resources and support they need to get up and running. The full-spectrum plan divided Iraq into three areas of responsibility: the United Kingdom administered efforts in the south, Poland administered a central area; while the United States oversaw the most dangerous central and north areas.

Mosul was in the US sector, and when the full-spectrum phase of the war began, Mosul was peaceful. Falluja was also in the US sector, but was extremely dangerous and growing ever more so by the day. Full-spectrum tactics can only take hold on ground that has a potential for stability.


Storm Watch

I woke up on a cool morning in Massachusetts in late March 2004, and turned on the television just in time to see two charred corpses hanging from a bridge in Falluja. One of those corpses belonged to a friend. The very next day, I got the news of another friend who was killed on duty in Iraq. I’d last seen this seasoned, some would say grizzled warrior, just as he was preparing to leave for the war. He had been to Iraq many times. I flew to Florida for one funeral, then straight to Colorado for the other.

The bad news from Iraq was playing in the background at both funerals. It showed a resourceful and resolved enemy. While the enemy was watching and playing to the media, apparently they were not reading or buying our propaganda. Not intimidated by our jets and steel, they quickly realized the Coalition avoids killing civilians, and this translated as weakness to them. A weakness they planned to exploit.

Falluja had long been an incubator of terrorism for Iraq. The city’s significance in the region preceded its resistance to any outside occupation—even Saddam had not been able to conquer Falluja, despite that Falluja is merely a short drive from Baghdad. But after the invasion of Iraq, resistance in Falluja coalesced and grew increasingly aggressive, gained media attention and became inspirational. After the corpses were hung from the bridge, the Coalition isolated and prepared to storm Falluja. Foreign fighters practically sprinted to Iraq.

Falluja was flattened.

The storming of Falluja created a tide of violence that surged across the desert and slammed into cities and towns, leaving a trail of fear and death. Insurgents who survived evacuated to more stable ground, blending into many largely peaceful communities, like Mosul, where the lack of serious resistance had earned its citizens the sobriquet “white chickens. ”

Fortune favors the bold and with the onslaught of insurgent refugees, Mosul’s white chickens were in for an abrupt shift in theirs. The city became a headquarters for kidnappers and beheading squads whose video calling cards became a gruesome striptease on the nightly news. The growing influence of the increasingly brash insurgents and foreign fighters wasn’t lost on the locals, who paid a high price for resistance. More than two hundred Mosulite bodies—many headless—were tossed out in the streets.

When the storm hit Mosul, the destruction was catastrophic. Katrina’s winds and water may have destroyed the property of New Orleans, but not the idea of New Orleans. By contrast, while the real estate in Mosul remained relatively untouched, the very fabric of the society had been ripped open.

The insurgents and criminals brushed aside the entire Mosul police force with what amounted to a loud bark and a stiff backhand. When they attacked two stations, 4-West and 6-West, killing about half a dozen officers in each, the police on duty frantically radioed that hundreds insurgents were storming the stations.

When the Americans arrived within the hour, they estimated the attacking force consisted of only twenty to thirty enemy fighters at each station. It was not a long or particularly hard battle to recover the stations, but what made the news lead that day was the Mosul police abandoning their stations.

To an enemy in need of assets, a press that is increasingly disengaged is like an empty car with keys in the ignition--begging to be stolen. How the keys came to be left in the car, and how the inevitable theft managed to go unreported are questions for a different dispatch. To really understand the dynamics of the Battle for Mosul, it suffices to say the enemy started with a media advantage that they continue to exploit even now.

Insurgent leaders must have spent hours watching western television, particularly news broadcasts. They planned attacks that would create dramatic footage for the nightly news, and in many cases, they provided the camera crew and made the footage available for streaming and downloads on the internet. In light of their other recent media victories, the enemy felt ready to take on the Americans in Mosul.


Shifting Tactics

Our soldiers faced a complex, rugged and courageous adversary, and one which could be exquisitely brutal, at a time when enemy morale was extremely high. Propaganda wouldn’t be enough. Being tougher, smarter and more adaptable was our only chance of winning the battle for Mosul without simultaneously flattening the city.

Early on, Americans were living in downtown areas, like those emplaced in former police stations. COP (Combat Outpost) Tampa came under attack when a massive “suicide” truck bomb struck, and over forty enemy fighters attacked the outpost, putting the wounded American platoon in a fight for its life. Deuce Four rushed in more troops but they were hit with two car bombs, multiple IEDs, and heavy small-arms fire as an enemy, determined to take the outpost, tried to prevent reinforcements from arriving.

This was full-contact, kinetic fighting that claimed one Deuce Four soldier’s life left twenty others wounded, but denied the enemy their prize. More than twenty-five enemy fighters were killed and Tampa remained in Coalition control.

Deuce Four soldiers earned three Silver Stars and numerous Bronze Stars for valor in what would become the most storied battle in Mosul, setting the pace for the months ahead. The days and nights became a blur of steady combat, sometimes leaving the guns white hot: so hot, the bullets were visible flying though the barrels. Americans began naming roads after battles and events, like Seven-Body Road, where they found seven Iraqi corpses one morning, or Bieger Road, where Major Mark Bieger shot an insurgent who had pulled a pistol on his soldiers.

Month after month, the attacks continued, in combat that consumed tons of enemy ammunition and cost hundreds of enemy casualties. Stryker vehicles limped back to base, engines smoking, dragging tattered metal armor; mechanics worked twenty-four-hour days to keep Deuce Four in the fight. But the casualties extended beyond combatants and their damaged equipment. The local population, which had been friendly before, would no longer talk with the Americans, apparently fearful the enemy might either win or just outlast the Coalition. Both prospects terrified citizens into silence, and the Coalition’s best source of information fell mute. As it was for those storm-shocked people in New Orleans waiting on rooftops to be rescued, patience seemed a lot to ask from anyone in Mosul while bombs were exploding day and night.

This may have looked like typical kinetic battle strategy at work, but even as guns were firing, the Coalition was building a tougher breed of Iraqi police, to work along with a new Iraqi Army. By the time I arrived in Mosul, the Americans had, in just some months, recruited, trained, and started fighting along with the new Iraqi Police and Army, who were proving smarter and tougher than the enemy.

Captain Matt McGrew from the 1-24th Infantry Regiment was one of the Americans assigned to train and lead Iraqi forces. During the months I spent embedded with the Deuce Four, I often heard radio calls about Captain McGrew and his Iraqi counterparts fighting around Mosul.

“Come on out with us,” he’d always say, and I made repeated plans to do just that, but every time I started to, something would happen that pulled me in a different direction. We settled for many long conversations about the process he used, the progress he saw and the Iraqi police officers he grew to respect.

Captain McGrew once admitted to me—in almost confessional tones—that he had grown attached to the Iraqi unit, so much so that he would go to bat for them at times when their needs conflicted with American interests. McGrew had thrown his entire person into the fight, and this level of commitment was paying off. I was seeing signs of progress all around without always recognizing their portend, but hindsight adjusts for the haze.


Captured on Film

One day in May, 2005, Deuce Four soldiers were going downtown, heading straight for the place they’d been seriously attacked the day before. Disregarding any debris from that attack, the local population began approaching the soldiers, a few even inviting us to lunch. There was some sporadic weapons fire in the background while we talked with the small crowd. American snipers were in various perches above and around us.

At some point, I thought the fighting was getting closer to us, and I said so to the soldiers, but they were so busy talking with Iraqi people that LTC Kurilla said something like, “Don’t get paranoid. It’s just some small-arms fire. You worry like an old woman.”

“I just don’t like getting shot, that’s all,” I said, noticing people a few blocks away dashing for cover. That’s always a bad sign. “It’s getting closer,” I said and pointed to empty spaces where only moments earlier some people had been.

When bullets come really close, they go “snap!” Snap snap snap!, we were in a real shootout. I almost wanted to say, “Told you so!” but that’s not good to say to American combat soldiers, especially when bullets are snapping. While the soldiers had declined sitting down to lunch, they readily accepted the invitation for a gunfight.

The Iraqis scattered into their homes and shops. I ran for cover. Every time I found a good place to hide, soldiers started maneuvering toward the enemy. I expected to get blown up any second. But I always expect that in Iraq, especially so when people are shooting. One of our snipers fired a single bullet high over our heads. I hope he got him. We continued doing short wind sprints to the next cover, trying to locate and isolate the enemy. There was plenty of time, if we just ran like hell.

We came into a large group of Iraqi police that had joined the fight. One of them was shot in the leg and his friends put him in a protected area. Needless to say, I also found that protected area. As an American medic started working on the wound, the policeman grimaced and held his leg. Iraqi men and children can be extreme camera hounds, so what happened next might not have surprised me, but even in retrospect it remains one of the strangest moments I experienced in Iraq.

I had not been shooting photos, but when the grimacing policeman noticed the camera hanging off my vest he smiled. A smiling-for-the-camera smile. Shot in the leg, and taking a moment to pose. I was not fast enough with the shutter and I only got him as he lay back. But he did get me to start taking photos again.

“I’m ready for my close-up”

When SFC Bowman met us with his soldiers, he was calmly talking into the radio like he was planning a fishing trip. Deuce Four soldiers didn’t need to be told much. The key was delivering them to the fight. After they get into the fight, they operate on autopilot. But that day, something was very different. I was actually witnessing Iraqi commanders aggressively deploying their own men, isolating the enemy.

…while other police had deployed behind us in a blocking position.

They were in the middle of the street for chrissakes! I doubt there was a more dangerous place. Meanwhile, two other policemen on the left side of the road were pushing forward, trying to flush up some trouble. I snapped a picture just as one policeman looked like he was about to accidentally shoot his buddy. My experience with Iraqi police and guns hadn’t instilled a lot confidence in their aiming ability. I had been personally--albeit accidentally-- shot at by Iraqi police numerous times, although fortunately never hit.

I yelled to an American soldier—might have been Bowman—“Look at those guys in the middle of the street! They’re gonna get shot dead!” But he just smiled, saying “At least they’re fighting!” Indeed they were. The policemen were not using the machine guns as tools to retreat, but were pushing out into blocking positions while their buddies cleared forward, and other Iraqi elements were isolating the shooters. It couldn’t be any clearer: a new sheriff was in town.


You Know You’re Good When…

I wasn’t the only man in Mosul to notice the skill spike among Iraqi police. As the big kinetic fights were drawing down, cooperation between Iraqis and Americans expanded. In just under six months, the main resistance was squashed and the Iraqi Police and Army in Mosul had strengthened to the point where the enemy could no longer mass. This harbinger of eventual success wasn’t lost on the insurgents. With the ISF becoming a formidable force in Mosul, the ever-adaptive enemy shifted from large kinetic attacks against Americans, and came gunning instead for the new sheriff.

The enemy began slaughtering the ISF, and American officers estimate that about 600-700 ISF have been killed in Mosul since November 2004. These numbers are difficult to verify; when I asked ISF officers (police and army), they agreed that this might be an accurate estimate for Mosul, but nobody seems to know and the Iraqis don’t share the American penchant for detailed statistics.

Rowan Scarborough, a reporter for the Washington Times, wrote an article headlined: "Iraqi Troops Suffer Fatalities Nearly Twice U.S. Rate." In it, he writes:
The emerging Iraqi Security Forces have suffered nearly twice the battlefield deaths of American troops, a casualty toll that has convinced U.S. commanders they are building units willing to fight for democracy. ... Defense officials say that despite the rising death toll, Iraqis continue to line up to join the ISF, which includes the army, police, navy, air force and border patrol. As of last week, the ISF numbered 194,000, including 75,000 army soldiers and 84,000 police.

4-West policeman returns to duty after serious fight

There is some controversy about our Iraqi allies' level of vulnerability. They may have more than their share of courage, but they are still made of flesh. The ISF desperately needs radios and armor. Some Americans argue that it is not our responsibility to completely re-outfit the ISF—just as we don’t need to buy jets for an Iraqi Air Force—but there is no doubt that our allies could greatly benefit from armor and radios.

Some analysts claim the increase in ISF casualties is primarily due to the increasing role they play in military and security actions. This sounds reasonable, and begs the question as to whether they are adequately protected for close combat. Smaller IEDs (roadside bombs) that are little more than tire-poppers to our armored vehicles leave our friends lying in pieces on the roads.

Amazingly, these Iraqis continue to load up in those little trucks and go to work, knowing the odds are that they will, sooner or later, get shot or blown up. In a previous dispatch I stated that the only true martyrs I've seen in Iraq are these men, ordinary in most respects, who step forward and put everything on the line, for the idea of Iraq. But they also have a powerful example to follow now: one that gives them the courage to face these odds. In West Mosul every one of their leaders has been wounded in combat, some more than once, but they get right back into the fight—taking up positions in front.

Mosul: Our new allies are being slaughtered. If this little truck hits an IED, there will be six casualties and there will be arms and legs in the road. They need armor and radios. American officers say the ISF have lost perhaps 600 to 700 men just in Mosul since November, 2004.

The concept of leading from the front was foreign to these recruits, but American soldiers modeled the leadership required for the Iraqi Police to succeed. It didn’t take hold overnight, but a skeptical Iraqi police officer never had to look far to see the example of leaders who inspire courage and dedication in the men they command. With the encouragement of Deuce Four officers, Iraqi police commanders stepped up to the task, and the morale among their men skyrocketed. As one American officer put it: “They wore those bandages like badges of honor, inspiring respect and loyalty among Iraqi and Coalition troops.”

Despite losing members of their ranks to violent attacks practically every day, Iraqi police fought back, only getting stronger in the process. Following the lead of the American soldiers who re-captured the police stations, Iraqi cops were again living in their own stations.

Mosul faded from the news. No one seemed eager to rush in and cover progress. So, outside of the media lights, the Coalition began emplacing more police stations, including three just last month. More Iraqi men stepped forward, responding to the call to fight for the city (plus they needed jobs). As they completed training and were deployed, insurgent and terrorist activity kept them busy. Within months the Police could operate largely without Coalition military assistance.

American commanders forged friendships with their Iraqi counterparts. The resulting confidence and camaraderie acted as force multipliers. One Iraqi police commander in particular, Major Ali, continued to request that Captain Scott Cheney, Charlie Company commander, bring his soldiers on joint raids even though, over time, the police needed the Americans less and less. To my knowledge, Captain Cheney never turned down the requests.


Sharing Intelligence

Although the mortar and rocket attacks on base had sharply decreased, we were still getting hit occasionally. I was writing a dispatch one day when a rocket zoomed over my head, flying toward the dining facility. That one exploded harmlessly, which was not always the case. IEDs are the number one killer of Americans in Iraq; but mortars and rockets run a close second.

Our intelligence people keep detailed records of times and locations of attacks and, along with other information, perform “pattern analysis” to predict future attacks. With persistence, these predictions produce results. American officers saw that when they shared intelligence with their Iraqi Army or Police counterparts, it was used to good effect.

The police were also developing their own intelligence and acting on it, even becoming adept at “the cascading raid,” as I began to call it. The Americans do it often, but call it “the domino effect.” Watching these raids unfold, I saw the effect was more like a cascade. Raid cascades happened like this: a bad guy is caught, and tells where other terrorists are, who are then quickly caught, and they in turn rat out a few more. One terrorist might lead soldiers to three more, who might lead them to four more, who might lead them to another one. Sometimes the cascades lasted only a few hours and netted perhaps a half a dozen fighters before petering out. Other cascades lasted days and netted dozens.

An example of a typical cascade happened when the 5-West police captured two terrorists who were handing out Jihad literature. During interrogation, they ratted the location of their cell leader. The police raided the cell leader's house, killed one terrorist and captured seven others. The cell leader quickly broke, giving up the identity of his boss. The police continued the momentum of the cascade, capturing the higher ranking cell leader, who in turn gave interrogators the location of a large cache of weapons, mortars, and ammunition. The weapons cache validated the capture and validity of all the previously captured terrorists in the cascade.

When the Iraqi forces scored serious victories—which was increasingly common—Americans demonstrated their respect. Mindful of local culture, this often entailed a trip downtown on a mission requiring a specialized skill set. Many times, I accompanied American soldiers to the livestock market to haggle for sheep.


Paying Respect: Investing in Iraqi Leaders

A mortar cell had been attacking us, and Deuce Four wanted to kill them. The attacks were coming from the area patrolled by police from the 4-West station. [Police station #4, on the West side of the Tigris River.] The 4-West station became infamous when its former occupants fled from insurgent attacks before the elections

Even today, under the command of the fearsome Colonel Eid, 4-West is attacked regularly, but now the police counter-attack. Terrorists were also trying to kill Colonel Eid outright, even holding one prospective hit man hostage in a basement, and threatening to execute his family if he did not wear a bomb into the station. This plot came to light when one of our brother units happened to rescue the hostage during a raid.

I expected to get blown up during every meeting with Colonel Eid. One day I accompanied Deuce Four soldiers to 4-West and Colonel Eid was wearing new bandages from an attack that had just killed his driver. Eid was back at duty, talking of how Americans shot him during the first Gulf War. Luckily, he had survived. I was sitting in the meeting when American soldiers spoke to Eid about the particular mortar crew they wanted 4-West to eliminate. Eid said he would try to get the mortar crew, and sure enough, his men killed them.

So, we headed to the sheep market.

Colonel Eid certainly didn’t need the sheep—he often fed us tasty meals of chicken or duck—but it was an important gesture of respect from commander to commander. In some ways, the delivery of the gift was more important than the gift itself.

The Iraqis have great pride. If an Iraqi colonel thought someone was patronizing him with trivial gifts, not only would he be insulted, he might also think the American was feeble-minded. But when the Iraqi commander respects the gift-giver, and the sincerity of the gift is not in question, the gesture by which it’s given takes on greater meaning. Kurilla and his officers never just delivered the sheep and said, “Thanks, here’s a sheep.” The delivery was always a spectacle.

One time, the soldiers arrived at COP Eagle to deliver a sheep to the commander, LTC Ali Gharza, only to find him sleeping. So Kurilla told the Iraqi guards to be quiet, and he snuck the stinking sheep into the commander’s room, shutting the door behind it. When the Iraqi commander jumped from bed in a state of confusion, Kurilla and his men burst in and everyone got a hearty laugh. Another time, Kurilla took a sheep and plopped it right on Colonel Eid’s desk.

Eid’s men had done something sheep-worthy—I’ve forgotten what it was, but it almost certainly involved killing terrorists—and we headed to the market. I always thought we were going to get blown up at the sheep market. After shopping for the best sheep, Kurilla started seriously haggling over the price while Iraqi buyers led sheep away, putting them inside car trunks and driving away. All along I was thinking “let’s get outta this death trap!” After threatening to buy a sheep from the next guy if he didn’t get an honest price, finally the deal was sealed, and we loaded the sheep on the Stryker and headed over to 4-West.

On the wall behind Colonel Eid’s desk hang two rifles that had once belonged to terrorists killed by his men. Entering Eid’s office that day, Kurilla said, “Colonel Eid! I brought you a sheep, but this one is tied up to the tree outside.”

Eid smiled. The professional respect from another commander was worth mountains of future progress in Mosul, and so what happened next took everyone by surprise.

Kurilla smiled and said, “That’s a nice sheep. But it’s only for eating.”

I nearly fell mute. Did he really just say that? The interpreter said to Kurilla, “Excuse me sir?”

“You know what I said. Tell him the sheep is only for eating. It’s not a girlfriend. Translate it.”

That’s it. Kurilla’s lost his mind. I was ready to run for the door.

The interpreter hesitated. Then translated. Colonel Eid burst into laughter.

“I’m serious,” said Kurilla, “only for eating.” Since the two commanders were laughing, everyone who’d stiffened when they first heard the words now laughed. The commanders got down to business plotting how to kill more bad guys. But from then on, every time we delivered a sheep, even the police guards would yell down to us from behind their machine guns, “Only for eating!” and all would burst out laughing.

Humor can strengthen bonds. There were other times, when Kurilla would come in and talk about people we had captured or killed, and tell Eid, “You’re falling behind!” Or he’d bring in pictures of detainees and say, “Please circle your relatives so we can release them.”

Kurilla and Colonel Eid at 4-West: minutes after this meeting, PFC Nils Thompson was killed by a sniper.

Not all the Iraqi commanders got such treatment. American leaders practiced a strict accounting—respect had to be earned. They liked the fighters, and openly despised anyone begging for handouts or abusing their positions. CPT Scott Cheney scolded one police commander for refusing to wear his uniform and not going on missions with his men.


Tides Change for Terrorists in Mosul

Tactics based on faulty assumptions often backfire. The insurgents apparently were expecting that their strategy of targeting the police would make those who survived less committed. But the new cops were cut from stronger cloth, and similar to how those American troops who see a lot of combat in Iraq seem to have the highest morale, the increased targeting of the Iraqi Police fostered greater unity among them and elevated their status. The increasing competence of the police department in Mosul was pinching the insurgents. The better the police became, the more confidence local people had in their ability to maintain control. This confidence resulted in more tips against insurgents, more subsequent raids and arrests, the discovery of munitions caches and bomb factories, and an ever-diminishing capacity for large-scale attacks. Every bit of ground the police gained came at the expense of enemy territory. In order to maintain their tenuous grip on the local population, they resorted to another form of terrorism, but this tactic also seriously backfired.


Suffer the Little Children

Parental love and respect for children is not a given thing. I’ve been to places where kids are viewed as income
generators—either as workers or sold off as surplus. I’ve seen children who were intentionally and horribly mutilated so they would evoke pity as beggars. There are more of these places than most people ever want to know about, but Iraq is not one of them. Iraqis love their kids, and they are some of the best-behaved kids I have seen anywhere in the world, and in most places (there are exceptions), the Iraqi kids love American soldiers.

Iraqi kids and some Soldiers from Alpha Company get along swimmingly—taking a spontaneous dip in an Olympic training pool.

Early during the war, the Iraqi kids were good predictors of attacks. In neighborhoods where insurgents enjoyed protection from residents, the sudden lack of children on the streets greeting the soldiers was a bad indicator. Sadly, in Mosul, the magnetic pull of a convoy on kids was also noted by terrorists.

Kids who had come out to see American soldiers got hit by a car bomb

This made even the children a new target for insurgents, who aim at any scent of weakness. In Mosul, the love Iraqi parents have for their children was exploited as a weakness. The apex of this tactic came early one day in May when a homicidal car bomber trailed an American combat patrol for blocks, and as the children in one neighborhood ran out to wave, the “Jihadist” detonated his bomb.

Little Farah: Her mother would later say that every time Farah heard the sounds of the American Strykers, she would run out to wave. That day, Farah ran outside.

That was a day that I kept shooting pictures, and one of the pictures of Major Beiger cradling the dying little girl in his arms made news around the world-- and it exposed the terrorists in Mosul for who they really are. This was no stray bomb landing in the middle of ongoing combat. Perhaps it was a deliberate effort to kill and maim as many children as possible in order to frighten their parents, or maybe it was just bad luck that the kids were there. Whatever the case, it backfired; Iraqis love their children. When the foreign terrorists targeted kids, the citizens of Mosul grew to hate insurgents. US Army officers told me that after that photo had run on Iraqi television and in newspapers, intelligence flooded in that resulted in killings and captures of more terrorists.

Iraqi mothers bring their children to American soldiers


Tribes and Tribulations

In Mosul, almost 90% of the police are members of a single tribe—the Al-jiburi, which many Coalition officers believe leads to endemic corruption. And the friction between the Iraqi Police and the Iraqi Army in Mosul can be severe. There is even friction between police on the east and west banks of the Tigris River. But this is not a “Mosul thing.” I was with some American soldiers in Baquba when we got into a short firefight one night. When both the Iraqi Police and the Iraqi Army arrived to help out, the first thing the American leaders started talking about was how to keep them from bickering, but without sending one or the other home. The Americans did not want to alienate one commander by asking him to leave, but also did not want the police and army to open another front. Many of these delicate negotiations are being undertaken by soldiers, on battlefields, right now.

Sometimes even American units argue with each other about “battle space.” To understand where some of these arguments arise, it helps to draw upon a sports analogy. A basketball team might play “zone” or “man on man.” If they are playing a zone, a certain player is responsible for whoever comes into his zone. In man-on-man, a player is responsible for a specific other player, and where his man goes, he follows. Our military uses a combination of both. Deuce Four was responsible for a certain area in Mosul, and that was the Deuce Four battle space. The police equivalent would be a precinct. But the most serious enemies, the so-called “Tier One” terrorists like bin Laden and Zarqawi, get a sort of “man-on-man” type play, and the Americans who track those targets are free-ranging special forces types, whose battle space basically is everywhere not forbidden by law or by American political authorities.

A battle space tiff might arise during a raid cascade, when a new prisoner tells soldiers the whereabouts of another bad guy, but that other bad guy might be on the other side of the Tigris River. In Mosul, that battle space belonged to 3-21 Infantry. Deuce Four could not simply call 3-21 Infantry and ask them to go raid the house on 1565 Main Street, East Mosul, Iraq. There are no addresses. The place is confusing. The informant often has to physically point to the door and say, “That’s it,” and then maybe even see the other suspect’s face and say, “That’s him.”

There are several work-a-rounds, but all bring headaches and delays, and this information often has a shelf-life measured in hours or even just minutes.

One morning, I walked into the Deuce Four TOC (Tactical Operations Center: Headquarters) and saw the live feed coming down from one of our unmanned spy planes. The airplane was circling a certain set of buildings, like it often does, when a bunch of Strykers suddenly wheeled into the picture, dropped ramps and soldiers ran out into some buildings. Clearly, it was a raid.

“Who’s that?” I asked someone.

“3-21,” answered one of the soldiers.

“Why do we have a feed coming from 3-21 battle space?” I asked, suddenly curious.

“It’s our battle space,” answered the soldier.

“Why is 3-21 in our battle space?” We seemed to be playing twenty questions.

“They are raiding a suspected chemical weapons factory.”

“What! Why didn’t someone tell me!!?” I knocked on LTC Kurilla’s door and asked if he had a couple minutes, and he explained that this was secret and that I was not to write about it yet. But soon after, it was on CNN.


An ominous find, a horrendous stench

I joked that 3-21 was paying him back for the cascade when Deuce Four drove over the bridge and did a raid in 3-21’s area. But the commander chuckled and said since 3-21 had developed the information; it was their baby, even if it was in his battle space.

Given that a chemical weapons find just might be the single most important event of the war, at least from a media perspective, that was a generous attitude. The truth is the military remains on constant vigil for elusive chemical weapons factories, and one day, we found something that smelled as awful as it looked. Maybe we had stumbled across a warehouse that could retroactively justify the entire war.

Field testing for possible chemical weapons

Despite the eye-watering stench, there were Iraqi men walking around, seemingly fine, and none of the kids playing nearby were keeling over. The owner came running up. Clearly, he knew what we were thinking, and he reached into a vat and pulled out a pickle-like object, and offered it to Kurilla, who said, “Not me, buddy! You eat it.”

The Iraqis and Americans burst out laughing. The Iraqi man ate a piece and laughed very hard, and then offered it again to the commander, who apparently didn’t want to be impolite, but was nonetheless not going to take a bite of something that smelled rank from a block away, so he reached for compromise.

“Lieutenant Flynn! Get over here!” Brian Flynn walked over to the barrels. “Eat that!” Kurilla said, but at this point all the Iraqis and Americans were practically rolling when Flynn politely declined.


Iraqi Government: Retaking Mosul, One Sheep at a Time

Delivering respect to Iraqi Army Colonel Noradeen

We were delivering a sheep to an Iraqi Army commander named Colonel Noradeen. Noradeen’s unit has about 700 men—about the same size as Deuce Four —and those soldiers are mostly Kurdish. Noradeen’s reputation with the Americans is as enviable as Eid’s. Major Mark Beiger was there, and soon there was a sheep sniffing around untethered in Noradeen’s office. Noradeen and everyone chuckled at the “It’s only for eating” joke that had become Kurilla’s trademark with the ISF leadership.

Colonel Noradeen wanted to put his office in the middle of Yarmook Traffic Circle, which might ring familiar to folks who have read my previous dispatches: it might well be the most dangerous traffic circle in the universe. On my first mission in Mosul, we lost two American soldiers and an interpreter just nearby after a man rammed his explosives-filled car into a B Company Stryker.

Colonel Noradeen invites us to lunch and, like normal, his cooks were better than we had on base: LTC Kurilla, COL Noradeen, CPT Scott Cheney, and CPT Jeff VanAntwerp.

Sandbags cover the window of Noradeen’s office. During one meeting, we took sniper fire, but it didn’t make much difference—we were inside. Another day when I was not there, some mortars landed just outside Noradeen’s office and heavily damaged some American Humvees. Those types of attacks are not show-stoppers, but giant truck bombs can flatten a building and kill the entire unit. Noradeen’s current office was safe from giant bombs, but he wanted to move his office to Yarmook traffic circle—where shootouts and car bombs are guaranteed. Designing the outpost to withstand multiple simultaneous car bombs or giant truck bombs would require some thinking. When one of the American officers had asked Colonel Noradeen, “Why do you want an office at Yarmook Traffic Circle?” he answered simply, “If I build it there, they will come to me.”

Full stop.

That hung in the air.

One second.

Two seconds.

Kurilla said under his breath to one of his own officers, “That’s why I love this guy.”

The best American and Iraqi leaders have some common traits: they are smart, courageous, persistent, and chose their battles wisely. They don’t throw away their men, but they are not afraid to risk their men, and they take those risks with their men. When these leaders get hurt, they try to get back with their men quickly.

I remember when an American Captain named Robert Shaw was badly wounded near Yarmook Traffic Circle. His soldiers love him. I remember that when they took him away, I thought he might die. Some days later, when he was back in America in the hospital, I overhead Kurilla talking with him on the phone: “I want you back here. I want you back in the fight. When can you get back?” After some months recuperating, Captain Shaw did come back to the fight. His return to Mosul brought renewed courage to the Deuce Four and his own men.

I visited one freshly wounded Iraqi commander and his driver in an American hospital. Although seriously wounded, LTC Amaar planned to return to the fight. Amaar pulled himself out of his bed, his white bed sheet transparent with sweat. Barely able to stand, somehow the commander limped over to the next bed and put his hand on shoulder of his terribly wounded driver. I could smell his wounds. They had been riding in an unarmored vehicle and had been ambushed from three directions with small arms. If they had been driving in an armored Humvee, small arms would not have touched them. Instead, they were laid up in the same hospital room that Kurilla would soon be lying in.


Spies among us

American commanders routinely plotted joint missions to kill bad guys with Colonel Noradeen. At one point they even had an informant taking a cell phone call from a terrorist right there in Noradeen’s office. When the phone started to ring, the Iraqi commander told everyone to go silent—like a submarine—and the spy answered the phone. There, on the other end, was a terrorist plotting to kill us, enjoying what would later prove to be one of his last phone conversations. Deuce Four and Noradeen’s Iraqi soldiers captured him that night.

By now, the battle for Mosul war was largely down to intelligence. Both sides busied themselves, recruiting well-placed spies and developing networks of part-time informants. The man who can most effectively answer Who, What, When, Where has an extreme advantage. The enemy knows this, too. The enemy also knows that interpreters occupy one of our critical information nodes. At first the enemy tried to kill off the interpreters, but then switched to a new plan—recruiting interpreters as spies. I was to factor into one of these plans.

Jeff

Interpreters are at the center of most critical aspects of this war. I had gone on many missions where “Jeff” was the interpreter. After one shootout, I saw him run up and step on the hand of a man who had been shot several times. Jeff’s boot was holding down the hand, but as soon as the soldiers got control of the shot man, whose guts were hanging out, a soldier told Jeff not to step on him. The soldiers often had to control Jeff, who had a habit of smacking suspects. But his English was impeccable. I had seen him under fire a number of times; he was unquestionably courageous. I had seen him helping kids after a car bomb, and helping with wounded Americans during another attack. After one car-bombing, where a foot and a hand were all that remained identifiable of the driver, Jeff ran up and kicked the hand, which seemed quite odd, but I just thought it might be an "Iraqi-thing."

Impeccable English, battle-tested courage, and zealous commitment to the cause. Apparently the only serious problem with Jeff was that he was a spy.

Jeff with American weapon during some fighting

The terrorists recruited Jeff and tried to persuade him to wear a bomb and blow us up. During one firefight, Jeff somehow got his hands on a loaded American rifle and I snapped a photo. Luckily, they hadn’t succeeded in convincing him to die while killing us, or it might have been the last photo I shot.

Colonel Noradeen did not trust the American interpreters, and I remember one occasion when he sent an American interpreter out of the room. The battle for Mosul had largely come down to information, and Colonels Noradeen and Eid both placed great value in developing networks. From the American side, LTC Kurilla had built his own intelligence team into more than three times the normal size, from seven to twenty-four personnel, all of whom were focused on breaking the terrorist networks and generating actionable intelligence. By mid-2005, the terrorists’ networks in Mosul were increasingly infiltrated and weakened. Iraqi authorities and Americans had killed or captured their top leadership.

In a previous dispatch I referenced a possible kidnapping plot revolving around me. I had only left US troops twice while in Iraq. “Journalists” are probably per capita at much greater risk in Iraq than even the soldiers. Journalists are regularly killed there. I had planned to leave the Army for a break and go to the Kurdish region alone, and it so happened that Jeff is Kurdish. I asked Jeff about traveling in the Kurdish region, and he eventually said that he was going on vacation and tried to convince me to come visit his family. But my danger chimes rang softly. Ever so softly.

Over the days and weeks, Jeff repeated the offer a number of times, and always I got the same vague feeling: danger.

So, I knocked on the commander’s door and told him what I was thinking, and told him about Jeff’s offer. I knew Kurilla would not let me walk into death, and if Kurilla knew anything, if his chimes were ringing even slightly, he would wave me off. Over the next week or two, the topic came up about a dozen times, and the conversation always ended with a “Mike, don’t do it.” Whether it was the man’s legendary sixth sense, or the result of his super-sized intelligence hub, I wasn’t going to argue or ignore his advice.

Jeff was spying. In the process, he had tripped someone’s wire. The commander was sitting at his desk, with men from the dark side standing next to CSM Prosser’s desk. Specialist Welch, who might be able to bench-press a cow, was standing just outside the door. Jeff was called into Kurilla’s office.

Jeff is a smart man, and has a sensitive nose. Nervousness fleeted across his eyes when he walked in and saw the strange men standing there. Jeff was confronted, then detained by Welch. The men from the dark side took him away. Among his other acts of espionage, Jeff was plotting my kidnapping. I have no proof of this, other than that I “know” he was.


Running out of Targets

Late in the fight, many terrorists realized that killing children was hurting their own chances of survival. Iraqis were not cowering, they were turning on the killers. And they were learning that it was easy to rid the town of the killers; just call the JCC (Joint Communications Center) or police and tell where the bad guys are. The American or Iraqi forces would launch out and kill or capture the bad guys and, if fortune smiled, they might even get a cascade started.

Many people have asked a smart question, “Why are the Iraqis allowed to have cell phones during war?” The answer is simple: the cell phones hurt the enemy much more than they help, especially so when people start using the cell phones to give tips.

The terrorists tried to stop hurting kids in Mosul, but only to replace one failed tactic with another equally self-defeating one. They began to eye certain factions of their loose assemblage of terrorists as more expendable than others. Suddenly the ugly hydra of tribal, regional and even national identity slithered in the mud.

Strangely, foreigners captured by Americans in Mosul always seemed intent on telling every secret they knew as fast as possible. This seems counter-intuitive. It seems reasonable that the foreigners would have the strongest resolve. But in fact they are alone, without support and very easy prey for local terrorist cell leaders. Terrorists feeding on terrorists. It's no wonder that when they are captured, foreign fighters typically tell everything.


From these "tell-all" interrogations, we've learned how local insurgents recruit foreigners, including how they coerce some of the “jihadists” to carry out homicide attacks. Time and again, the soldiers in Mosul would capture foreigners, and the jihadists would tell everything. The Deuce Four captured a Libyan who then complained loudly to the Americans that the Iraqis wanted him to commit suicide while killing Iraqi police. He wanted to fight Americans mano-a-mano, and the alternate plan was not a worthy substitute to his thinking. Strangely, in sense, the Americans rescued an enemy from his enemies, who were also our enemies.

Just recently, this report from Tarek El-Tablawy of the Associated Press offered additional confirmation:

BAGHDAD — A suicide bomber captured before he could blow himself up in a Shiite mosque late last week claimed he was kidnapped, beaten and drugged by insurgents who forced him to take on the mission. The U.S. military on Sunday said its medical tests indicated he was telling the truth.

The writer further described the 19-year-old Saudi man’s plight:

His story was similar to those recounted by other captured militants who claim they were coerced or fooled by insurgent leaders who promised them a role in the holy war.

A reasonable conclusion is that the terrorists are desperate.


Abu Zayd

While open warfare still rages parts of Iraq, in Mosul the war is becoming more like police work. Most of the top enemy leadership in Mosul has been killed or captured, and the replacements of the replacements of the replacements are the new targets. But these new quarterbacks recruited from the fans in the stadium are progressively less adept at staying alive in an increasingly terrorist-hostile environment. They face an increasingly sophisticated ISF. The rates of incline (the ISF) and decline (the terrorists) sharply intersect to form an “x.” The ISF grows stronger every day, while the insurgents weaken and stumble.

The people of Mosul, too, have demonstrated newfound trust in their new government; an expectation that sometimes extends to patience with the inevitable glitches that have to be worked out of any new system. In a period of months, they have gone from not talking with the Americans to providing a flood of information that increases in scope and value, resulting in the elimination of terrorists, and the discovery and removal of weapons and bomb-making materials, items they don’t want near their children.

The terrorists feel their own grasp slipping off of Mosul. One night, during a raid, our soldiers captured a letter from the latest “top enemy leader” in Mosul. The letter was a plea to the most ruthless terrorist leader in Iraq: Abu al-Zarqawi.

In the name of God the Merciful

We thank God and may our prayers and peace be on the Prophet of God, His family, his followers and on everyone who endorses him.

May Peace and God’s blessings and mercifulness be on you. From the Mujahadeen of Abu Zayd unit to Sheikh Abu Mus’ab al-Zarqawi (may God protect him), and we ask god to guard you and may you remain a thorn in the throat of the atheist and the ones who went off the course.

And then:

This is a clarification of what has become of the situation in Mosul, and it is no secret to you the noticeable decrease in the attacks carried out by the Mujahadeen, from not long ago when Mosul was in the hands of the Mujahadeen, in our opinion, it is all because of the following reasons:

The incompetence of the Emirs:

The battalion Emir’s lack of military experience and strategy, and their lack of training and the training of the Mujahadeen.

The Emir’s hold on to power until their capture or death and refusal to designate a successor, despite their incompetence.

The lack of diversity in the attacks, and the unwillingness to go after the centers and headquarters especially when they are easy targets, and being content with sending suicide bombers after armored vehicles.

Going after quantity in the suicide bombing and not concentrating on quality.

The absence of any legitimate organization in Mosul, in spite of the presence of rightful knowledge seekers in Mosul.

Squandering the Muslims money on petty expenses, cars and phones.

Lack of collaboration between the battalion Emirs.

Absence of obedience.

Numerous security violations when it could have been easily avoided.

Reports to the Sheikh about the situation in Mosul are inaccurate and blurred.

The deplorable situation of the immigrants [TC: Foreign fighters]:

Lodging problems

Marginalization of immigrants and lack of training

Absence of a special battalion for them or a command to refer to.

Absence of any monthly monetary compensation

The solution:

I’ll not abet terrorism by publishing Zayd’s proposed solution. The letter ends signed by Abu Zayd:

Abu Zayd

Emir of Farming Reform Battalion on the west side

Reading this now, where the leader of a failing regime admits to the failure, then blames it on everyone else’s incompetence, it seems a bombastic self-portrait of a drowning man. Or at least of a man who is in over his head. The thesis that leadership is the fulcrum by which we can leverage success in Iraq can been called simplistic (among other descriptors). That may be true, but it doesn't make the central claim false. I wonder how many people, when first seeing the cascade of disasters Katrina initiated in New Orleans, thought, "What that city really needs right now is a Rudy Guiliani." It may be simplistic, but it also happens to be true: in times of trouble, ordinary people seek out leaders and leadership matters.

Interestingly, one of the very problems that Zayd complained about in his letter—incompetence and discontinuity of leadership—were the opposite for American forces. While the Deuce Four was preparing to leave Iraq, it was familiarizing the 1-17th Stryker unit from Alaska with the battle space. Basically, a bunch of new soldiers from, of all places, Alaska , were deploying in a city in the desert, taking over in what amounted to the terrorists’ proverbial backyard. Yet no sooner did the 1-17th take over, than they started killing and capturing bad guys.

The 1-17th is working with seasoned and effective Iraqi Police and Army units. These units are models of leadership development—senior officers lead from the front, seek out and reward excellence, and isolate and eliminate bad performance. The Zayd letter exclaims what captured enemies have been telling us for the past six months: the insurgency uses a very different, and clearly inferior, system for leading their fighters. They recruit foreign fighters—forcing them at times—to do the worst of their fighting. They intoxicate youth with drugs, and force them to drive their car bombs. As one officer succinctly put it: “If they believed their own bullshit, they would strap the bomb to themselves.”

I attended the Warrior Ceremony that marked the departure for the “Deuce Four,” presided over by the much respected Brigade Commander, Colonel Robert Brown. In doing some homework before coming to Mosul, I learned that Colonel Brown had gone to West Point and played basketball. I may never have mentioned Colonel Brown, but he was running the show in Mosul. There were other American units in Mosul who also fought hard in their battle spaces, and these units, including the Deuce Four, were all under the command of Colonel Brown. Mosul was his battle space.

Throughout the year, no less than fourteen US Army Battalions served under Colonel Brown’s command. That’s about 10,000 soldiers, and roughly 530 of the American soldiers under Colonel Brown’s command were wounded or killed in Mosul. Of those, 157 were in the 1-24th, led by LTC Erik Kurilla, who was the last Deuce Four soldier to be wounded in Mosul. He was shot down and continued to fight. That might be the most telling explanation for why the Coalition is winning in Mosul.

It bears repeating that the Coalition IS winning in Mosul. Here’s why: while the enemy commander Abu Zayd was hiding in and around Mosul, and complaining about his fellow terrorists squandering money on phones and cars, American and Iraqi commanders were physically fighting alongside their men, instilling confidence in the mission, sharing the risks.

It's more than just a debate about the semantics of leadership systems. The same week the soldiers of Deuce Four packed up and began heading home, Abu Zayd was lying dead on a mortuary slab, and his replacement was behind bars. The Iraqi Police were aggressive. Acting on intelligence they had gathered through their own sources, they launched a unilateral raid against a suspected car bomb factory the same night we lit the Warrior bonfires at FOB Marez. During a firefight, they killed one terrorist, wounded and captured three others, and they found and rendered safe two car bombs before the terror cell could strap in drivers and aim them at crowds.

In some wars, it’s about the resources. In other wars, it’s about the equipment or manpower. In some, the weather turns out to be the Great Decider. This one is about the expectations, philosophies and individuals who wear the mantle of leadership. As for these individuals, from the young sergeants to the senior officers, the Coalition simply has superior leaders, and they are mentoring the best Iraqi leaders, and the results are transparent.

After the ceremony, I walked through darkness back into the TOC, and there was hot information arriving that we might be closing in on Abu Zayd, the hand-wringing, finger-pointing scribe. I ran to don my gear, but missed the mission. Zayd was not caught that night.

So that was it: I flew away to Qatar, then to the United Arab Emirates, where a message was waiting that Abu Zayd had been tracked down and killed near Mosul. Then, just days later, Zayd’s successor was captured. At this rate, his successor’s successor will probably be killed or captured before he can volunteer for the position. I emailed Kurilla-- who was back home in the states, recovering from his wounds -- and asked for his take on this development.

"Did you ever notice that the news always says 'Top Zarqawi Lt or aide arrested'? You would think that the Army is trying to dupe the press or else that there are thousands of Zarqawi Lieutenants. But the fact is, we capture so many of the top leadership that they replace them and we fail to say that this was the replacement cockroach.

Apparently, Abu Fatima took over Al Qaeda leadership in Mosul when Abu Zayd was killed. He was captured on 5 Sept, 12 days after he took over from Abu Zayd. I have none of the details…but it shows once again how effective we are at taking down the leadership. While they will always replace their leaders, you get a far less effective cockroach when the new guys take over.

The new leader does not have the experience and all the tricks of the trade to stay alive or not be caught. They do not have the connections, the skill set etcetera, and because we have taken out so many of the network it leaves only a few remaining. Instead of spreading all of our targeting assets out over the entire network when there were so many at the beginning, we can now focus all the targeting assets on just the few that are left. Hence, the many successes.”

Now Comes the Hard Part

When I first stepped off the plane in Iraq, the three most dangerous places were Baghdad, Al Anbar province, and Mosul. Somewhere in the span of nine months Mosul fell off that list. The rest of Iraq may yet devolve into a large civil war. Zarqawi clearly intends to incite full-on hostilities between the Sunnis who still follow his insurgency and the Shia majority who have so far resisted his call to Armageddon. I do not know if their forbearance will outlast his insurgency. But I do know it would be a mistake to think of this as a strictly "Sunni thing."

After all, the Kurdish regions to the north are an unqualified success, and the Kurds are mostly Sunni Muslims. And Col Eid, and most of the men who serve under him on the Mosul Police Force are Sunni. Despite their key role in the problems in Iraq, the Sunnis are even more effective parts of the solution. The “full-spectrum” techniques that have shown so much promise in the Battle for Mosul, and before then, with the Kurdish resistance in the North, are also being used in other parts of Iraq.

The decreasing combat operations in Mosul will allow for a more selective distribution of those assets, focusing on the more perilous areas such as Ramadi, Falluja and Baghdad. The lesson of staying in the fight long enough to prevent any embers of discontent from flaring up and rekindling an all-out conflagration cannot be sacrificed to budget-induced amnesia. Short-attention spans notwithstanding, Americans don't like it when friends and allies are wallowing in danger. The question we need to answer is not "do we help?" but rather "how do we best help?"

Like those breeched levees, we can air-drop sand bags every time the flood waters rise, or we can move in the engineering and construction assets to make permanent repairs.

Building a new and strong government takes work. The full spectrum of civil affairs projects, training and equipping the ISF--all while conducting combat operations--requires a heavy investment of resources over time. Some of our most senior and intelligent advisors, such as retired Army General Barry McCaffrey, caution that Americans need to be told the truth that this probably will be a five-year fight. Initially opposed to the war, General McCaffrey asserts that now that we are in it, we must win.

We cannot pull out next year and expect Iraq to stand alone. That would be like pulling out of New Orleans once the water is pumped out and the levees stopped up with sandbags when one small storm would wreck the place again. We could also opt for the easiest path: we could just drop cash on the table and walk away, leaving decisions about rebuilding a city to the very people whose judgment in these matters has already proved questionable. Or we could do something that we know is always hard and time-consuming: the right thing.

It doesn’t matter whether God or Global Warning sends the storms, or whether the plans and predictions in place were up to the task. None of that matters. Not to the people clinging to chimneys. When the high water hits, we can step in, coordinate and manage the logistics of survival and security. We can ensure that the locals have the expertise and resources to stabilize the region. We can stop listening to quivering voices that lack the strength or endurance to find a lasting solution. When the Iraqis can survive the next storms—which of course will come—and also serve as a stable area where people can come to work and live in safety and peace, the “birthplace of civilization,” will be restored to the promise of its motto. Then, we can walk away.