Temple of the Frog
Wednesday, June 18, 2003
  Music in the Cafes at Night and Revolution in the Air

I was checking out Silent Running and found this link to a Michael Totten piece about the silence of the left on the nascent Iranian revolution. Totten muses that only conservative magazines and websites are providing news and opinion about the stunning events in Iran. He is spot on when he says that real tyranny rarely gets any mention by lefties nowadays. The American left seems to be too busy worrying about the fact that Coalition troops are pulling patrols in Iraq or spending the better part of a whole week talking about Paul Wolfowitz. There are real people agitating for freedom from an undeniably oppressive police state, and from the left...nothing. If Iran has even entered the crosshairs of these folks at all, it is because of the recent "Iran might have nukes" story.
Totten also takes to task the hordes of young protesters (and, in my town, there are plenty that aren't so young) that like to imagine that the United States is some sort of fascist military nightmare kingdom. I have no patience for these people. Castro is jailing journalists again and North Korean peasants are eating each other because of the foolish incompetence of Kim's government, but the professional malcontents out there think, for all purposes, that America is the real-world equivalent of Mordor. Right.
Not much observational ability is needed to detect which parts of the world are afflicted with actual oppression, tyranny, and evil (yes, I just used that word), though much of the left just doesn't seem to want to talk about it. Reasonable left-leaning pundits (like Oliver Willis and Josh Marshall, linked above) might not be interested in the new Iranian revolution, but they should be: Totten and Andrew Sullivan apparently are. Rather than protest actual "crushing of dissent" in Iran or other countries, the loony left, such as ANSWER's main "man" Ramsey Clark or ossified MIT jackass and genocide supporter Noam Chomsky like to imagine that they live in a police state, even as they cash their fat checks from book sale royalties or public speaking-fees.
When the theocracy in Iran is gone (with or without our help, it is only a matter of time), the newly free Iranian people will remember who was cheering them on; hopefully they also will remember those who just couldn't be bothered.


Updates

Take a look at this National Post piece. I hope Mr. Warren's optimism is not misplaced.

This TCS article is worth a look also (found via Andrew Sullivan).

Thanks to Damian Penny for his link to this Cox and Forkum cartoon. 
  Captain Clark welcomes you aboard...
(with apologies to William S. Burroughs)

Check out this bit on Bill Quick’s site concerning the apparently statist GEN(Ret) Wesley Clark, Rhodes Scholar and Clinton protégée. Also, for more fun, scroll down into the comments section to see me lay the law down on longtime DailyPundit infestation Tony Foresta.  
  Apologies

Sorry if things seem a bit clunky in here...I'm slowly learning the ropes. 
Tuesday, June 17, 2003
  The Continuing Congolese Civil War

Global Security has a great section on the vicious fighting happening in the Congo. The US media behemoth is all but ignoring this big story in television coverage, though newspapers have been running small stories every day for a while. The French Army is trying to keep order in some parts of the country, but France hasn’t deployed their forces in a way that would actually put an end to the chaos. The French soldiers there don’t have police powers, according to a spokesman for the force. What, exactly, the French are trying to accomplish besides rescuing a few westerners here and there is unclear.
For another take on the Congolese civil war, check out this piece from Common Dreams, and organization that I’ve found mostly unreliable due to its admitted “progressive” bent. This editorial, which originally appeared in the San Francisco Chronicle, is fairly balanced in explaining the reasons for the sorry state of the Congo, but it is the author’s three suggestions for fixing the situation that I take issue with.
First, Mr. Hochschild calls for beefed-up international (United Nations, of course) intervention. While I agree with the idea that intervention is called for, a UN force “several times the size of the 10,800-soldier contingent now under discussion” is a bit unrealistic. The author doesn’t go into the details of which countries will be called on to provide what would be, in effect, a multinational composite Corps level task force. Also, considering the oppressive rules of engagement that such a force is likely to operate under, the eventual success of the mission would be in doubt from the first day of deployment. What would likely be more effective is a brigade-sized force with robust air support and a strong civil affairs section. Augmented by native Congolese human intel and police support, a smaller force could secure critical areas without tying down massive amounts of troops, that, truth be told, just aren’t available unless someone taps China or Pakistan to provide them.
Hochschild’s second suggestion, the outlawing of “conflict minerals,” is even more of a pie-in-the-sky argument than his first. He even admits that “It remains to be seen how much the agreement will be enforced,” when referring to accords already in place to stem the flow of diamonds from rebel-controlled areas. Making an activity illegal never stops that activity…just ask the DEA. A better suggestion would be to seize control of the production areas for the conflict minerals. The lucrative diamond, gold, and cobalt trades could funnel money into a trust for the rehabilitation of the Congo rather than line the pockets of cannibal-employing gangster warlords.
Finally, the author contends that we (I assume he means the US and Europe; he’s not entirely clear on this point) must stop selling weapons to Africa. Hochschild states “just during the 1990s, the United States alone gave more than $200 million worth of equipment and military training to [seven different] African armies.” I’ll concede that indiscriminant funding of African kleptocracies is a bad idea, but he doesn’t let his readers know how much of that $200 million, over ten years, to seven nations, consisted of training versus equipment. If a story is posted to Common Dreams, it’s got to have a “USA bad” angle, of course, but Hochschild seems to be reaching rather far in his attempt to smear the United States. Perhaps if the US spent that money in arming the right people, i.e., a genuine Congolese army with civilian oversight, answerable to the citizenry, the situation might improve.
There is one statement by Hochschild with which I will wholeheartedly agree: “This is the greatest such bloodshed anywhere on Earth since the end of World War II and there is no end in sight.” However, thirty thousand blue berets and a fistful of feel-good resolutions won’t do anything but waste a lot of money, and much more tragically, human lives.

 
  It's All About Oil...again

If anyone is actually reading this, go over to HobbsOnline and check this out (found via Instapundit). Hobbs is making his prediction about the mass media, of course, but there are some nutjobs out there that think all wars are always about oil, including Vietnam! 
  Ares and Athena

Glenn at Instapundit reposted an article from August; this piece does a spectacular job of explaining the two different philosophies at work in the way various peoples view violence and wage war.
Slaves and miserable conscripts rarely make good soldiers, as the performance of the Iraqi armed forces recently displayed. Hussein did have some motivated troops facing the Coalition, the Fedayeen Saddam and the diverse non-Iraqi jihadis that trickled into the country in March and April. Even these were profoundly ineffective. The Fedayeen, apparently composed of prison-grade rabble, scored a few early hits against the allies by using cowardly Hamas-style tactics. Once the allies got wise to the game the Fedayeen were playing, it didn't take too long before the one advantage possessed by the Fedayeen - surprise - evaporated. I am not labeling the use of ambushes as cowardly - God knows that a good ambush is something that's been in the trick bag of a warrior since the dawn of humanity.
What I object to are these sorts of tactics.
The type of "soldier" that would perpetrate such barbarities is a fine example of an "Ares", to use the parlance of Reynold's article. The Fedayeen, of course, were clearly ineffective in even prolonging the liberation to any significant degree. Their only accomplishment, then, seems to be causing the deaths of several Iraqi civilians and a few coalition soldiers - with no positive outcome. The Fedayeen were just indiscriminate brutes, killing their own people for a cause that had been a lost cause, realistically, since 9/11. Despite the fierce, if truncated, resistance by Saddam loyalists, the incompetent brutality of a coercive dictatorship lost yet again.
It happened in Iraq just as in Afghanistan: the lauded Taliban "fighters" proved adept only at beating cowering women with sticks - their stomach for putting up a real fight against real soldiers was found to be lacking. Ares, even at his most savage, is no match for Athena. And that's just the way I like it.
 
Monday, June 16, 2003
  First Post

Welcome,
It's warm, humid, and misty here, typical of this time of year in Indiana. There are a few fireflies about, but not as many as I've seen earlier this spring. The streets are quiet, but the fetid odor of overfull sewers cannot be ignored. Rain has been falling on and off for a few days. 
Military affairs, sociopolitical commentary, and general misanthropy. (EMAIL : xenophon - at - myway.com)

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