Tuesday, May 11, 2004

Tuesday Worldfarts: "They're dead, Jim."

I killed the comments feature. Thank you to all the cool folks who responded-- Dave, Mark, Wooj, et al. Much appreciated. I decided, though, that Blogger's way of handling comments is just lame. Unless you hit the permalink for a given post, you can't see whether a post has garnered any comments, nor can you see how many comments there have been-- two elementary features found on TypePad-style blogs. So: bye-bye, comments. Nice knowing ya'.

I think we're gonna stick with the old stand-by: E-MAIL. Introvert's Delight. If you've got something to say, you know where to find me.

Obviously, the biggest thing in the news these days is the Abu Ghraib prisoner abuse scandal. I don't think I need to add too much commentary at this point. What those soldiers did was repulsive and deserving of the fullest punishment. At the same time, there needs to be some perspective: this isn't how the majority of our military acts, nor should it ever be how they act (ideas that will be lost on the Arab fundies and, quite possibly, those howling for Bush's head). Rumsfeld did the right thing by claiming full responsibility. If there's anyone I'd like to shoot, it's General Janis Karpinsky, who gets a nasty mention by Smallholder in this very good post on Naked Villainy. Karpinsky doesn't seem to get what it means to be responsible for the troops under your command, and she's doing her damnedest to worm her way out of the situation. There are no words for commanders like her.

While we're talking about Naked Villainy, Iraq, and collective soul-searching, take a gander at these two posts by my buddy the Air Marshal. If the links aren't working, look for posts with these titles: "More Responsibility" and "A Possible Solution in Iraq? Not This One."

Check out Dan's Winds of War briefing on Winds of Change. Scroll down for some other good entries, including this one, which links to two posts by Donald Sensing.

BravoRomeoDelta has the perfect solution for Iraq. Thank God he's joking.

Tacitus, as always, is the place to go for meditations on Iraq. Some chunks of a recent post:

Pay attention to the willingness of senior military personnel to publicly contemplate the possibility of defeat in Iraq -- and to furthermore rightly assert that current policy will produce that defeat. It's a sea change from a cowed senior officer corps that has spent the past several months contemplating the baleful example of one Eric Shinseki. But Shinseki, and his prediction of the necessary occupation numbers, has been proven right. History's judgment is kind, and the like-minded will want to share in it. That's hardly the whole story: you're also seeing an Army leadership in quiet revolt, sick of having its priorities ignored, sick of basic doctrinal issues like MTOEs being flouted, sick of feeling unable to deliver frank advice and counsel to the civilian leadership, sick of seeing almost the entirety of its warfighting capacity squandered on a war with no apparent political denouement, and sick at seeing their soldierly reputations pushed back down to c.1972 levels because of undermanning, poor discipline, and an inattentive leadership coalescing at Abu Ghraib. They are sick of all this, and they are hitting back as best they can: in the press, and by questioning the fundamental competence of the civilian defense leadership. There's a fine line to be walked here, and let's be honest and admit that some of these sources have probably crossed it -- only in extremis do uniformed personnel get to criticize their civilian superiors. Still, the issue at hand is the validity of the criticisms, and what they signify.


I have been wrestling with the question of the President's national security team for some time now. Is it time for them to go? Rightly or not, are they capable of further effective leadership? In the absence of a coherent future for Iraq, to say nothing of a coherent direction in the war on terror, what grounds are there for confidence in their future direction of events? Last week, I expressed to a friend my dismay that it was effectively impossible to dismiss them without dismissing the Administration itself. He argued that this was untrue -- there is, after all, the second-term reshuffle to look forward to -- but this strikes me as a dubious proposition indeed. It is clear to me, though, that the policy in place must change, and the policymakers probably ought to go as well. In any other situation, this consideration would outweigh the survival of the Bush Administration. It doesn't here, and I'll address why in a moment. The officers in WaPo are quite right: what we have now is a long twilight struggle that will give us no victory. As the choice becomes more stark that the only alternatives are more war or defeat, our leadership -- and perhaps even the American people as a whole -- will opt for defeat.

The post actually deals with many more issues than the above, including what John Kerry might bring to the job. Take a gander.

Annika, another diehard Republican, seems to think Rumsfeld must go because too many people are calling for his head. I respectfully disagree with her on this, but I understand where she's coming from. She's got another post addressing "you progressives" that's a must-read: she suggests that if "you progressives" are really honest about your convictions, you'll wake up and see that Nader's the guy who's fighting for what you believe in-- and doing so in a clear, unequivocal manner. I don't know enough about Nader to agree or disagree. Will do some research.

Steven Den Beste doesn't think much of director Wolfgang Petersen's contention that there are parallels between the Trojan War (Petersen's "Troy" is due for American release soon) and the Iraq War. Give Den Beste a read.


No comments: