The Paradox and Absurdities of Carbon-Fretting and Rewilding

Herschel Smith · 28 Jan 2024 · 4 Comments

The Bureau of Land Management is planning a truly boneheaded move, angering some conservationists over the affects to herd populations and migration routes.  From Field & Stream. The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) recently released a draft plan outlining potential solar energy development in the West. The proposal is an update of the BLM’s 2012 Western Solar Plan. It adds five new states—Idaho, Montana, Oregon, Washington, and Wyoming—to a list of 11 western states already earmarked…… [read more]

Pakistan Government Suspends Operations in NWFP

BY Herschel Smith
15 years, 10 months ago

In Pakistan, Kandahar and Taliban Operations, The Captain’s Journal made the following observation concerning Pakistan Army operations in the NWFP.

Without security, the population will not side with NATO or the Karzai government. The same can be said of the situation in Waziristan and to the South in and around Quetta. The population might hate the Taliban, but will learn to live with them if they are seen to be the probable victors. It happened once before. Taliban, NATO and Pakistani operations are in full swing, and it is imperative that force projection be applied to gain and hold as much terrain as possible – including human terrain – before winter sets in.

Time was of the essence in these operations, and if Pakistan had been prepared to complete the operations before winter set in, they should have been started months ago. It now appears that the Pakistan government has suspended operations in the North West Frontier Province against the Taliban.

Lahore, Aug 30 (PTI) The Pakistan government today announced that it would suspend military operations against the Taliban in the country’s northwestern tribal areas in view of the holy Islamic month of Ramzan but warned that any action by the militants would meet with a firm response.

Rehman Malik, who functions as the Interior Minister, said operations against militants by the army and law enforcement agencies would be suspended between August 31 and the second day of the Islamic festival of Eid-ul-Fitr, which marks the culmination of Ramzan.

“This move should not be considered as a sign of weakness on the part of the governmentIf there is any action (by the militants) against the security forces, a firm response will be made,” he told reporters.

The holy month of Ramzan is expected to begin in Pakistan on September two or three after the sighting of the moon.

The Pakistan Army and paramilitary forces are currently engaged in operations against Taliban fighters in the tribal Bajaur Agency and the scenic Swat valley in the North West Frontier Province. A total of 562 militants had been killed in the operations so far, Malik said.

He made it clear that there would be no ceasefire and that the security forces would only suspend their operations against the militants.

The suspension was being done only for the month of Ramzan, he said.

The government “reserves the right to reinitiate law enforcement actions and military operations” if the militants begin regrouping or carry out any attacks on the security forces, he said.

But the Taliban feel no such need to halt operations, and in fact have vowed exactly the opposite of the government’s promise. They have rejected the government action and said that their tactics will continue through Ramadan (despite a tip of the hat to the government offer by Taliban spokesman Maulvi Omar by releasing several hostages).

This action means that the operations in the North West Frontier Province were never intended to be conclusive or decisive. It was questionable whether the Pakistan Army had good enough weather in the remainder of the summer and fall to finish the Tehrik-i-Taliban. Now that they have given up for [at least] a month, the conclusion of these operations can be succinctly stated as “the Taliban won.” Destroyed homes and Taliban-controlled terrain will greet the noncombatants as they return to their cities and towns, and they will always remember that it was the Pakistan Army that failed to finish the job. Next time it will be even harder for the Pakistan forces.

Interview with Taliban Spokesman Maulvi Omar

BY Herschel Smith
15 years, 10 months ago

The NEFA Foundation has recently released another video, this one an important interview of chief Taliban spokesman Maulvi Omar.

The entire interview is slightly over nine minutes, and is worth the time.  Some excerpts are given below, with commentary by The Captain’s Journal.

Q: What is the difference between al Qaeda and the Taliban?  Have they any relation?

A: There is no difference.  The formation of the Taliban and al Qaeda was based on an ideology.  Today, Taliban and al Qaeda have become an ideology.  Whoever works in these organizations, they fight against kafir (infidel) cruelty.  Both are fighting for the supremacy of Allah and his Kalma.  However, those fighting in foreign countries are called al Qaeda, while those fighting in Afghanistan and Pakistan are called Taliban.  In fact, both are the name of one ideology.  The aim and objectives of both the organizations are the same.

The Captain’s Journal has discussed before what Nicholas Schmidle calls the Next-Gen Taliban.  They have adopted suicide tactics, are more brutal in their dealings with the population, and have taken on a global perspective in lieu of the nationalistic ideological approach of ten or twenty years ago.  In Khyber, they shout to passersby “We are Taliban! We are mujahedin! “We are al-Qaida!”  There is no distinction.

Also as we have discussed before, the plot hatched within the Pakistan ISI to undercut Baitullah Mehsud failed within a week of being implemented.  The Taliban are under the operational control of Mehsud, and his authority is unchallenged.  Note the following words from Omar.

Thank God, among the tribal mujahideen there is unity for which they have rendered great sacrifices.  Among them, there are important personalities like Maulana Fazlullah, Faqir Mohammad and Baitullah Mehsud.  Currently, the entire mujahideen are united under the leadership of Baitullah Mehsud.  This is a blessing of God.  Though Baitullah is a young person, it is because of his sincerity, simplicity and piousness that all the tribals are under his command.

The interview continues with a very important question and a much more important answer.

Q: What is your view regarding jihad on the international level?

A: Jihad, as you know, is an important responsibility.  Our Holy Prophet (PBUH) stated 1400 years ago that jihad would continue until doomsday.  Jihad, which the Muslims of the subcontinent and Pashtuns have launched against the injustices and cruelty of anti-Islamic forces.  If they had not committed cruelties, if they had not destroyed Iraq, there would be no fedayeen (suicide attackers).  If they had not occupied Afghanistan, there would be no fedayeen.  Similarly, if they had not attacked the tribal areas, particularly, Bajaur and Waziristan, there would have been no mujahideen and Taliban in such large numbers.  This is also God’s will, who keeps jihad alive in different times.

The ongoing jihad against America and its allies is on one side.  This has benefited Muslims as it has inculcated the importance of jihad in every Muslim heart.  The anti-Muslim forces are on one side.  They are under the name of allies.  The Muslims are on the other side, under the name of jihadis.  This decision has been taken by the Quran 1400 years ago (verses from the Holy Quran), which quoted God as saying when the anti-Muslim forces fight you collectively, you should also fight against them jointly.

In this war, Bush and Musharraf are standing in one row along with there allies, and in the other row Mullah Omar, the Mujahideen and their companions are standing.  This will be the last war between Islam and Kafirs (infidels).  This is a tough war because they (Mujahideen) do not have the support of any Muslim country in the world, nor any other Mujahideen.  This ongoing jihad is harder than any other jihads, but there is still good news, as this will be and is the last war.  And once the Muslims win this war, they can establish an Islamic government throughout the world.

In case one has any doubts about the evolution of the Taliban into a globally focused organization bent on the takeover of not only Pakistan and Afghanistan, but the balance of the world, Omar tells us once again what their ultimate aim is: the establishment of an Islamic government throughout the world.

These are sobering words, underscoring the need to avoid “negotiations” with them, and the corollary need to remove the threat, absolutely and completely.

The 26th MEU, the USS San Antonio, and Military Equipment

BY Herschel Smith
15 years, 10 months ago

The Captain’s Journal will take great interest in the 26th MEU for the remainder of its current deployment. The 26th MEU consists of the USS Iwo Jima and USS San Antonio, are they are joined by amphibious dock landing ship USS Carter Hall, the guided missile cruiser USS Vella Gulf, the guided missile destroyer USS Ramage, the guided missile destroyer USS Roosevelt and the fast attack submarine USS Hartford.

The USS Iwo Jima, which carries the 2nd Battalion, 6th Regiment (2nd Marine Division), left the Norfolk Naval Station on Tuesday. On the other hand, the USS San Antonio has had equipment malfunctions that kept her in port.

Hydraulic problems have delayed the maiden deployment the amphibious transport dock San Antonio (LPD-17), which was supposed to leave Aug. 26 with the Iwo Jima Expeditionary Strike Group.

The ship, which has endured lengthy delays and cost overruns, had to stay back in Norfolk due to a broken stern gate that will take days to repair, said U.S. Navy Lt. Cmdr. Herb Josey, spokesman for Naval Surface Force Atlantic.

The amphibious assault ship Iwo Jima left the pier at 11 a.m. without San Antonio and is headed to North Carolina to onload the rest of the Camp Lejeune-based 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit.

Capt. Brian Smith, Amphibious Squadron 4 commander, said the problem with San Antonio was discovered Aug. 24 and he expects the new amphib – the lead ship of the LPD 17 class – to be repaired and outbound by the end of this week.

“There is nothing that will keep San Antonio from getting underway,” he said. The problem is a mechanical failure in a ram cylinder piston that controls the stern gate, he said, crucial for conducting well-deck operations, an amphib’s very reason for existence.

San Antonio’s fleet debut has been a rocky one. It underwent two scathing inspection reports and had to miss its first shot at deployment in February with the Nassau ESG.

Smith defended both San Antonio and the San Diego-based amphib New Orleans, the second ship in the class, which was deemed “degraded in her ability to sustain combat operations” by a recent Navy inspection.

“Any new ship is going to be scrutinized and discrepancies will be generated,” he said.

But intense scrutiny isn’t really the problem. The problems run far deeper, into management of the design and construction process.

… the San Antonio had a troubled fleet debut. After arriving late and over-budget in 2005, an initial inspection report revealed major problems.

Board of Inspection and Survey officers found the ship “incomplete” and unsafe for crew members to board in a July 5, 2005, report. Inspectors found “poor construction and craftsmanship … throughout the ship.”

Wiring was also problematic.

“Poor initial cable-pulling practice led to what is now a snarled, over-packed, poorly-assembled and virtually uncorrectable electrical/electronic cable plant,” the report states.

The San Antonio made headlines again in April 2007, after the ship was deemed “unsuccessful” because of several equipment failures and “unreliable” steering during March sea trials. However, the report commends the crew for presenting the ship “professionally.”

Still, the catalog of problems prompted Navy Secretary Donald Winter to write a June 22, 2007, letter to shipbuilder Northrop Grumman complaining that two years after commissioning, the fleet “still does not have a mission-capable ship.”

Over its early life, San Antonio’s price also rose from a 1996 estimate of $876 million to $1.85 billion, once all of its discrepancies were corrected.

Unless the cable raceways and trays are done per specification, the wiring and cabling are all marked and labeled, the terminal cabinets are all labeled, the terminations are all numbered, the sliding links are all clearly marked, the relays are all labeled, and electrical engineering, logic diagrams and wiring tabulations are all certified and quality assured, the contractor has left the Navy with an unmaintainable situation.

We’ve discussed this before in Can the Navy Afford the New Destroyers, where we cataloged the demise the ship building industry in the U.S., concluding that:

Anything as complex as the engineering behind shipbuilding cannot be long sustained if a country is not actively engaged in the process. Certainly, contractors who bid the jobs believed that procedures for doing dye penetrant and radiography on welds were the same as before, and protocols for QA had not changed since the last time ships were constructed. Engineers are, after all, plug-and-play, white jumpsuit experts at everything under the sun, and also certainly the technology can be rapidly learned and applied by new, young engineers straight out of school, or who had been the understudy of engineers who had done this work before.

Only, none of this is exactly true … To be sure, accountability is the order of the day, and strict management of costs will be necessary for the Navy to be allowed to move forward with its Destroyer program. But shipbuilding is a lost science in the U.S., and recapturing it as an institution will be difficult and fraught with hidden problems for the DoD to deal with. This is not so much an issue with the Navy, or what they call the ‘Destroyers’, or how much they control the contractors, as it is with the fact that the U.S. has lost the ability to do large scale steel projects and shipbuilding.

The USS San Antonio is not a destroyer, but the basic principle remains the same. Day laborers are no substitute for professionals, hope is not a substitute for a QA program, poor design and construction practices lead to problems with maintenance, and rework always increases the cost and decreases the quality.

While at least somewhat unrelated, this brings up the issue of the refueling tanker. We have previously weighed in on this issue, but a good technical discussion is contained in a Human Events article by General John Handy, USAF (Ret.). A brief quote gives his perspective on the tanker controversy.

Somewhere in the acquisition process, it is obvious to me that someone lost sight of the requirement. Based on what the GAO decided, it’s up to people such as myself to remind everyone of the warfighter requirement for a modern air refueling tanker aircraft.

Recall that we started this acquisition process in order to replace the Eisenhower era KC-135 aircraft with a modern version capable of accomplishing everything the current fleet does plus additional needs for the future. Thus the required aircraft is of small to medium size much like the KC-135. Not a very large aircraft like the current KC-10, which may be replaced later with a comparably large aircraft.

Why a smaller to medium size aircraft? Because, first of all, you want tankers to deploy in sufficient numbers in order to accomplish all assigned tasks. You need to bed them down on the maximum number of airfields around the world along with or close to the customer — airborne fighters, bombers and other mobility assets in need of fuel close to or right over the fight or crisis. This allows the supported combatant commander the ability to conduct effective operations around the clock. The impact of more tankers is more refueling booms in the sky, more refueling orbits covered, wider geographic coverage, more aircraft refueled, and more fuel provided. A “KC-135 like” aircraft takes up far less ramp space, is far more maneuverable on the ground and does not have the risk of jet blast reorganizing your entire ramp when engine power is applied.

Just so. And TCJ wondered why, if from the beginning the specifications targeted a medium refueling tanker, extra credit would be awarded to larger air frames. It makes absolutely no sense. But regardless of this technical point, there is a more salient point that TCJ made several months ago concerning who holds a major share of EADS.

Even more worrisome is the power grab by Vladimir Putin, who is buying up the depressed shares of EADS like a corporate raider. The prospect of the authoritarian Russian leader, whose political opponents are harassed and jailed while prying journalists turn up missing or murdered, having a heavy hand in EADS affairs is deeply troubling. Russia opposed the invasion of Iraq and has sought to undermine U.S. plans to deploy a missile defense system in Poland and the Czech Republic.

The most troubling aspect of the tanker contract is the danger it poses to U.S. national security. According to a report by the Center for Security Policy, EADS has been a leading proliferator of weapons and technology to some of the most hostile regimes in the world, including Iran and Venezuela. When the U.S. formally objected to EADS selling cargo and patrol planes to Venezuelan despot Hugo Chavez, EADS tried to circumvent U.S. law by stripping American-built components from the aircraft. Chavez is now building an oil refinery in Cuba to keep Castro’s failed Communist state afloat, funding terrorists seeking the violent overthrow of Colombia’s government, and recently meddled in the presidential election in Argentina with secretly smuggled cash contributions. If EADS had its way, Chavez would now be advancing his anti-American designs in the Western hemisphere with U.S. technology and components.

EADS entanglements with Venezuela make the Pentagon’s decision to waive the Berry Amendment, which prohibits the export of technology that might be developed during the building of the tanker to third parties, indefensible. Given the sophisticated radar and anti-missile capabilities of military tankers, this is no small matter. Such technology falling into the hands of state sponsor of terrorism would devastate our war fighters.

EADS entanglements with Venezuela make the Pentagon’s decision to waive the Berry Amendment, which prohibits the export of technology that might be developed during the building of the tanker to third parties, indefensible. Given the sophisticated radar and anti-missile capabilities of military tankers, this is no small matter. Such technology falling into the hands of state sponsor of terrorism would devastate our war fighters.

And such a scenario is hardly unreasonable. EADS executives recently attended an air show in Iran and were caught red-handed trying to sell helicopters with military applications. When confronted, an EADS executive said the company was not bound by the U.S. arms embargo against Iran. EADS also sold nuclear components vital to exploding a nuclear device to an Asian company that in turn sold them to an Iranian front operation.

As TCJ coverage of the unwarranted Russian aggression against Georgia has made clear, we consider Vladimir Putin to be a gangster and international criminal. Any involvement with Putin – any involvement, including the Airbus – should be rejected without further consideration.

Technology is hard to regain once it has been lost. This is true of ship building, engineering QA, and air frame design. It is not only good for the U.S. economy and technological capabilities to have this done in the States, but it enables holding contractors accountable, something that we can never do with gangsters and criminals. It is yet to be seen how this will play out. But only the U.S. could be so stupid as to award a contract for our military refueling tankers to Vladimir Putin.

Pakistan, Kandahar and Taliban Operations

BY Herschel Smith
15 years, 10 months ago

Pakistan declared the Tehrik-i-Taliban illegal several days ago.

Pakistan on Monday banned the main Taliban militant group behind a wave of suicide attacks in the country that has killed hundreds of people since last year, the interior ministry said.

The Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) — an umbrella group for the Taliban Islamist militants who have threatened more suicide attacks — will have its bank accounts and assets frozen.

“We have banned Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan because of their involvement in a series of suicide attacks,” interior ministry chief Rehman Malik told AFP.

“They themselves have claimed responsibility of several suicide attacks and the government cannot engage in a dialogue with such people,” he said.

The TTP is headed by Taliban warlord Baitullah Mehsud, based in the lawless South Waziristan tribal district bordering Afghanistan.

The outfit has been blamed for most of the attacks in which nearly 1,200 people have been killed since July last year.

The Pakistani Army is currently engaged in heavy operations against the TTP in the Bajaur region, and on Wednesday killed 49 insurgents. The Captain’s Journal has been slow to discuss the current operations because we have seen this for several years, with a stand down in operations accompanied by “deals” and “negotiations” with the TTP. Time will tell if the current pace of operations is sustainable, especially with the approaching winter.

Approximately 50 Taliban were recently killed in air strikes in Khost, Afghanistan, by NATO air strikes, but Hamid Karzai, who is steering a course of probable negotiations with the Taliban like Musharraf, has demanded an end to the air strikes because of collateral damage.

The Afghan Taliban are still intent on isolating Kabul as a one prong of their strategy.

The Taliban were very clear about their strategy this year, declaring it for all to see on their Web site in March; more suicide bombs, isolating Kabul and hitting troop supply lines. So far they have not disappointed.

Given the firepower behind 70,000 foreign troops and 130,000 Afghan forces, long-haired bands of Taliban militants cannot be expected on the streets of the capital anytime soon. But the Taliban do not have to win, only wait for their enemies to lose.

“For besieging the Afghan and foreign forces in Kabul, we have begun the initial work on the main roads leading to Kabul from four directions,” senior Taliban leader Mullah Brother said in an interview posted on the militant Web site.

Three of the four main roads out of Kabul are no longer safe for government employees, aid workers and foreigners to travel.

The Taliban even declared they would launch large attacks in the area where 10 French troops were killed last week after one French general admitted “we were guilty of overconfidence”.

The Taliban may not be able to control territory in the face of better armed and trained NATO troops, but neither does NATO’s International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) have enough soldiers to hold all the ground and deny it to the insurgents.

Meanwhile in Kandahar, the affects of the jail break – freeing some 350 – 400 Taliban fighters – are seen in the degrading security.

The Taliban bomber calmly parked a white fuel tanker near the prison gates of this city one evening in June, then jumped down from the cab and let out a laugh. Prison guards fired on the bomber as he ran off, but they missed, instead killing the son of a local shopkeeper, Muhammad Daoud, who watched the scene unfold from across the street.

Seconds later, the Taliban fired a rocket-propelled grenade into the tanker, setting off an explosion that killed the prison guards, destroyed nearby buildings, and opened a breach in the prison walls as wide as a highway. Nearly 900 prisoners escaped, 350 of them members of the Taliban, in one of the worst security lapses in Afghanistan in the six years since the United States intervention here.

The prison break, on June 13, was a spectacular propaganda coup for the Taliban not only in freeing their comrades and flaunting their strength, but also in exposing the catastrophic weakness of the Afghan government, its army and the police, as well as the international forces trying to secure Kandahar.

In the weeks since the prison break, security has further deteriorated in this southern Afghan city, once the de facto capital of the Taliban, that has become a renewed front line in the battle against the radical Islamist movement. The failure of the American-backed Afghan government to protect Kandahar has rippled across the rest of the country and complicated the task of NATO forces, which have suffered more deaths here this year than at any time since the 2001 invasion.

“We don’t have a system here, the government does not have a solution,” said Abdul Aleem, who fought the Taliban and helped to put some of its members in the prison. They are on the loose again, and he now faces death threats and sits in his garden with a Kalashnikov rifle on the chair beside him.

He said that without the presence of international forces in the city, the situation would be even worse. “If we did not have foreigners here, I don’t think the Afghan National Army or police would come out of their bases,” he said.

A rising chorus of complaints equally scathing about the failings of the government can be heard around the country. The collapsing confidence in the government of President Hamid Karzai is so serious that if the Taliban had wanted to, they could have seized control of the city of Kandahar on the night of the prison break, one Western diplomat in Kabul said.

The only reason they did not was they did not expect the government and the NATO reaction to be so weak, he said.

Without security, the population will not side with NATO or the Karzai government. The same can be said of the situation in Waziristan and to the South in and around Quetta. The population might hate the Taliban, but will learn to live with them if they are seen to be the probable victors. It happened once before.

Taliban, NATO and Pakistani operations are in full swing, and it is imperative that force projection be applied to gain and hold as much terrain as possible – including human terrain – before winter sets in.

Concerning the Soviets, Georgia, Ukraine and NATO

BY Herschel Smith
15 years, 10 months ago

Just hours before Russia escalated the crisis by recognizing the independence of two separatist Georgian provinces, Mr Saakashvili said Russian forces had advanced to the strategic Akhalgori heights 10 miles from Tbilisi.

Photograph AP

Michael Totten has written a good article from Georgia, and its introduction is hard hitting and informative.

BILISI, GEORGIA – Virtually everyone believes Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili foolishly provoked a Russian invasion on August 7, 2008, when he sent troops into the breakaway district of South Ossetia. “The warfare began Aug. 7 when Georgia launched a barrage targeting South Ossetia,” the Associated Press reported over the weekend in typical fashion.

Virtually everyone is wrong. Georgia didn’t start it on August 7, nor on any other date. The South Ossetian militia started it on August 6 when its fighters fired on Georgian peacekeepers and Georgian villages with weapons banned by the agreement hammered out between the two sides in 1994. At the same time, the Russian military sent its invasion force bearing down on Georgia from the north side of the Caucasus Mountains on the Russian side of the border through the Roki tunnel and into Georgia. This happened before Saakashvili sent additional troops to South Ossetia and allegedly started the war.

Read Michael’s whole article. Michael is always worth reading no matter what the subject is. Michael said “virtually” everyone believes …,” and that’s good. Readers of TCJ knew better, as we previously said that the war was about Russian hegemony and the reconstruction of the Soviet empire (the title of this article is no accident or slip of the tongue).

The Russians are now dug in, and Kim Zigfeld writing for Pajamas Media has asked the next obvious question.

A few months ago, the issue of Ukraine’s admission to NATO was debated. NATO told Ukraine that it was “only a matter of time” before it would be granted membership.

Let’s be blunt: That time has now run out. NATO must act immediately, and it must do more than simply give Ukraine a promise of defense. It must arm Ukraine to the teeth. It must make it such a hard target that the lunatics who “govern” neo-Soviet Russia will not even consider moving against it, as they recently did in Georgia.

The reasons are so obvious that they hardly need to be stated.

The role played by Russia’s Black Sea Fleet in brutally assaulting Ukraine has not been sufficiently reported, but Ukraine understands it only too well. Last week, Ukraine demanded that Russia give 72 hours notice before activating war ships at its naval base in Crimea, on Ukrainian territory (similar to the U.S. base in Guantanamo, Cuba). Russia said it would simply ignore the demand. The Moscow Times reported: “The chief of Ukraine’s General Staff, Serhiy Kirichenko, promised to fulfill Yushchenko’s decree. ‘The president’s decree on the Black Sea Fleet will, of course, be implemented on the territory of Ukraine. The Defense Ministry and the General Staff are among those state bodies responsible for this task.’”

As Ukraine stands up for its comrade Georgia, demanding that Russia not use ships based in Ukraine to blockade or otherwise torment Georgia without at least giving due notice to their host, Russia uses this as a pretext to ratchet up its confrontation rather than defuse it. It is a clear signal that Russia’s intentions towards Ukraine are at least as malevolent as they are towards Georgia, if not more so.

Or perhaps there are a couple of questions: [1] when will Russian designs for the Ukraine be effected, and [2] how fast can we arm the Ukraine and prepare to defend her?

Do you still doubt Russian intentions? Listen to Dmitry Medvedev concerning Russian recognition of the independence of South Ossetia:

Russia is not afraid of a new Cold War taking hold and is ready for “anything,” Russian President Dmitry Medvedev said on Tuesday in a television interview.

“We’re not afraid of anything (including) the prospect of a Cold War. Of course we don’t need that … Everything depends on the stance of our partners and the world community and our partners in the West,” Medvedev told the Russia Today channel in comments translated into English.

Asked whether Russia was ready for the consequences of recognising Abkhazia and South Ossetia, Medvedev said: “If they want to preserve good relations with Russia, they will understand the reason for taking such a decision and the situation will be calm.”

The world remains a very dangerous and brutal place, and Russia is looking to rebuild the Soviet empire, even at the cost of a new cold war. The faster we can get on top of this series of events, the easier, cheaper, and safer we will be. Lethargy and delays will only make the situation more dangerous, costly and difficult down the road.

If NATO cannot bring itself to arm the Ukraine and come to her defense, then there is no reason for its existence, and it has proven itself to be what we knew it was all along – a paper tiger. This might be the one good thing that comes from the Russian aggression.

Note: See Saakashvili’s statement on Russian actions.

Prior at TCJ:

Russian Thugs

Iraq Veterans Engage Russian Troops

Georgia Pleads for Help Against Russian Brutality and Hegemony

Russia Invades Georgia

Trying Warriors in Civilian Court

BY Herschel Smith
15 years, 10 months ago

Hopefully readers have kept up with the case of Marine Sergeant Jose Luis Nazario Jr., a veteran of al Fajr. Tony Perry with the LA Times is carrying an account of the case thus far against him (extensively cited below).

In what the prosecution calls Marine Corps 101, civilian jurors in a landmark trial in Riverside are being tutored in a “warrior culture” that trains young men not only how to kill the enemy but, just as importantly, when to show restraint.

Barring unforeseen events, jurors in the case of the United States of America vs. Jose Luis Nazario Jr. will be asked this week to do something no civilian jury has done in modern times: determine whether a member of the U.S. military committed criminal acts in combat. Only one of the jurors has military experience, a stint in the Navy a decade ago.

Nazario, 28, a former Marine sergeant and squad leader, is accused of manslaughter and assault in the killing of four Iraqi prisoners on the first day of Operation Phantom Fury, the Marine-led battle in November 2004 to rout armed insurgents from Fallouja.

He left the Marine Corps in 2005 and was no longer subject to military law when the investigation began in 2006.

Regardless of the verdict, the case has established a precedent that the Military Extraterritorial Jurisdiction Act, passed in 2000 to allow Defense Department civilian employees and contractors to be prosecuted for crimes overseas, also applies to military members who leave the service before their alleged crimes are discovered.

Two fellow Marines who remain on active duty face military charges in the case. When Sgts. Ryan Weemer and Jermaine Nelson go to court-martial, their jurors will be Marines and sailors, most of whom will have had combat experience in Iraq, Afghanistan or both.

No one will have to tell those jurors what a rifle squad is, the difference between an M-16 rifle and a .50-caliber machine gun, that RPG stands for rocket-propelled grenade and IED stands for improvised explosive device, or that a “daisy chain” is a series of IEDs buried by insurgents to kill a large number of Americans …

At one point, a juror complained that she was having trouble keeping up with all the acronyms. The court reporters also have had trouble with the speed and volume of jargon …

A juror looked shocked when Schmitt said Marines are taught that some Iraqi women hide bombs under their clothing by pretending to be cradling babies. Knowing when not to shoot, he said, “is the difficult part of our profession.”

Preposterous. Not knowing how warriors are trained and what stress they endure, not knowing what IED, ROE, RUF, RPG, JDAM or any of the other acronyms stand for, not ever having been a part of a warrior culture, and not knowing what kinetic operations means or what a satellite patrol is, these civilians are expected to deliver a verdict on an incident that has no witnesses, in a place they have never been, under conditions they can only imagine? And one juror is shocked that females would carry bombs under their clothing and use their gender to mask their intent!

TCJ has a reputation for blunt honesty. Let’s be honest and call a charade a charade. If the Military Extraterritorial Jurisdiction Act is responsible for this joke, then it should be undone with haste because the act itself is a joke.

Maliki Undercuts Awakening Movement

BY Herschel Smith
15 years, 10 months ago

The U.S. forces have performed heroically, and many lives have been lost or irrevocably changed with wounds that will never heal. The U.S. has expended a significant part of the country’s treasure to free Iraq and start it on a course of freedom and democracy.  Certain lines of effort in the campaign have been clear and important throughout the history of the campaign for Iraq, one of which is the awakening movement (leading to the concerned citizens).

TCJ has made it clear from our initial coverage of the concerned citizens (later called the “Sons of Iraq”) that given the indigenous nature of much of the Sunni insurgency, settling disputes with the Sunnis was necessary (which was possible because they weren’t fighting for religious reasons like al Qaeda or the Taliban). Befriending those who were once shooting at you is a hard thing to do, but both the Sunnis and U.S. troops managed to do it because it was the right and smart thing to do. Combined with force projection by the U.S. Marines, it helped to win Anbar, and then subsequently Baghdad.

But Maliki may yet lose it all for us with his refusal to reconcile and recognize the legitimacy of the U.S. strategy.

The Shiite-dominated government in Iraq is driving out many leaders of Sunni citizen patrols, the groups of former insurgents who joined the American payroll and have been a major pillar in the decline in violence around the nation.

In restive Diyala Province, United States and Iraqi military officials say there were orders to arrest hundreds of members of what is known as the Awakening movement as part of large security operations by the Iraqi military. At least five senior members have been arrested there in recent weeks, leaders of the groups say.

West of Baghdad, former insurgent leaders contend that the Iraqi military is going after 650 Awakening members, many of whom have fled the once-violent area they had kept safe. While the crackdown appears to be focused on a relatively small number of leaders whom the Iraqi government considers the most dangerous, there are influential voices to dismantle the American backed movement entirely.

“The state cannot accept the Awakening,” said Sheik Jalaladeen al-Sagheer, a leading Shiite member of Parliament. “Their days are numbered.”

The government’s rising hostility toward the Awakening Councils amounts to a bet that its military, feeling increasingly strong, can provide security in former guerrilla strongholds without the support of these former Sunni fighters who once waged devastating attacks on United States and Iraqi targets. It also is occurring as Awakening members are eager to translate their influence and organization on the ground into political power.

But it is causing a rift with the American military, which contends that any significant diminution of the Awakening could result in renewed violence, jeopardizing the substantial security gains in the past year. United States commanders say that the practice, however unconventional, of paying the guerrillas has saved the lives of hundreds of American soldiers.

“If it is not handled properly, we could have a security issue,” said Brig. Gen. David Perkins, the senior military spokesman in Iraq. “You don’t want to give anybody a reason to turn back to Al Qaeda.” Many Sunni insurgents had previously been allied with Al Qaeda in Mesopotamia and other extremist groups.

Even before the new pressure from the government, many Awakening members were growing frustrated — and at an especially delicate time. United States and Iraqi negotiators have just completed a draft security agreement that next year, Iraqi officials say, would substantially pull American forces back from cities and towns to be replaced by Iraqi security forces.

Awakening members complain, with rising bitterness, that the government has been slow to make good on its promises to recruit tens of thousands of its members into those security forces. General Perkins said only 5,200 members had been recruited in a force of about 100,000.

“Some people from the government encouraged us to fight against Al Qaeda, but it seems that now that Al Qaeda is finished they don’t want us anymore,” said Abu Marouf, who, according to American officials, was a powerful guerrilla leader in the 1920s Revolutionary Brigade west of Baghdad. “So how can you say I am not betrayed?”

After he said he discovered his name on lists of 650 names that an Iraqi Army brigade was using to arrest Awakening members west of Baghdad, Abu Marouf fled south of Falluja. His men, he said, “sacrificed and fought against Al Qaeda, and now the government wants to catch them and arrest them.”

It actually goes further than that, this surreptitious undercutting of the awakening movement. They don’t intend for them to be engaged in the provision of security for the population at all. They want to strip them of their weapons.

The groups, known as Awakening Councils, Sons of Iraq and Popular Committees, have helped rout al-Qaida in some parts of Iraq. But Shiite leaders fear the Sunnis’ switch of allegiance is just a tactic, and that they could one day turn their weapons against the Shiite majority.

The U.S., which put many of the Sunni fighters on its payroll, has urged al-Maliki to incorporate them into his security forces, but the government has been slow to do so.

In a speech to Shiite tribal leaders in Baghdad on Saturday, al-Maliki mixed praise for the Sunni fighters with a warning. He said armed groups, alongside security forces, were tolerated for a limited period because their weapons were “aimed at the chests of the terrorists.”

“So they (the Sunni fighters) deserve our gratitude and the inclusion (into the security forces) because we adhere to a policy that there are no arms but the arms of the government,” he said.

One day turn their weapons against the Shi’ite majority? The best way to ensure that is to attempt disarmament. Does Maliki really believe that the Sunnis will turn in all of their weapons, or that the ISF will be able to find them all? As for al Qaeda, they are probably not a threat. The indigenous Sunnis are more than capable of inflicting immeasurable pain on the country without AQI if they so choose.

Maliki and the Shi’ite majority love to refer to the awakening movement as a “cancer,” or “criminals.” But The Captain’s Journal considers Maliki a criminal for his willingness to meet and politic with Iranian officials, and his tolerance of the SIIC. So regarding criminality, it really is a matter of perspective, and Maliki’s current position amounts to nothing more than “might makes right.”

But is Maliki really that mighty?  Maliki obviously has a large degree of confidence in the ISF and the idea that the Sunnis will willingly roll over. TCJ is not as confident. But regardless of the outcome, Maliki’s actions are immoral and thuggish, and if Iraq is still peaceful once the “Shi’ite majority” has accomplished this disarmament and imprisonment of the awakening, it will be in spite of and not because of Maliki’s actions. Maliki may yet prove himself to be the most stolid dunce and inept stooge on the planet.

Osprey Capabilities

BY Herschel Smith
15 years, 10 months ago

Returning from Camp Lejeune after seeing the 26th MEU (2/6) prepare to deploy.

Picked up a copy of The Globe, which has this article on the V-22.

Marines with Battery S, 5th Battalion, 10th Marine Regiment, made Marine Corps history as the first Marines to demonstrate the tow capabilities of the V-22 Osprey, which vertically lifted and maneuvered a M777 towed howitzer, Aug. 7.

“My team did extremely well,” said Wendel. “They did better than I thought they would especially for the first time.”

The demonstration was part of a field exercise helping to prepare the battery for a scheduled deployment with the 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit.

This training involved planning for raids and implementing the tow capability of the Osprey to reposition the howitzer quickly into position to support ground troops.

The exercise prepared the Marines to be self-sufficient at connecting and detaching the howitzer to and from an Osprey as it hovered overhead.

“It was pretty crazy under there,” said Cpl. Gerald W. Wendel, a section chief. “It was the strongest wind I had ever felt in my life. You can barely see or move. We pretty much had to ride the wind. Sand was flying everywhere, but the Marines did it. They adapted and overcame. It went extremely well.”

The Marines practiced a few dry runs through the scenario before the arrival of the aircraft for the pick up.

The Marines were highly motivated to have the opportunity to be the first gun crew to do this, said Wendel.

Once the howitzer was off the ground the pilots flew to another nearby landing zone where the gun was detached from the aircraft and placed into position for aiming in on imaginary targets.

“It was a pretty good lift with very minor damage,” said Gunnery Sgt. Nicholas Manganiello, the battery gunnery sergeant. “We can still put rounds down range, move and communicate. That’s our mission. As long as we can do that we are good.”

After successfully attaching the howitzer to the aircraft the Marines enjoyed their first flight in an Osprey as they were flown to the designated landing zone to finish the exercise with a dry-fire mission.

The V-22 Osprey just keeps proving itself up to the task as a replacement for the aging Marine transport. Flying further, faster and higher, proving itself capable of equipment transport is an added benefit compared to the troop transport duty it mainly saw in Anbar, Iraq.

Feedback Concerning Afghanistan

BY Herschel Smith
15 years, 10 months ago

Concerning TCJ article Why we are losing Afghanistan, writer and embedded journalist Andrew Lubin, who was in Afghanistan in the summer of this year, wrote to tell us:

The downside of “getting the word out” is that lots of people don’t like to read it. You wrote a good piece (and have always done so); and I hope you will continue. Did you see yesterday’s lead editorial in the NY Times “Afghanistan on Fire”…you need to read it. I spent June over there; it’s worse than you can imagine; it’s like Iraq in 2004-2005.

Michael Fumento (who has been to Afghanistan) also writes to give his concurrence with our views.  Thanks to both of these respected journalists, and the editorial to which Andrew refers is outstanding, especially coming from such a confused publication as the NYT.

Here is the link.  Read it.

General David Petraeus and Religion

BY Herschel Smith
15 years, 10 months ago recently carried this ridiculous account of a dustup over General Petraeus and religion.

Gen. David Petraeus is used to controversy surrounding the war in Iraq, but his publicized thoughts on an Army chaplain’s book for Soldiers put him squarely in the middle of the ongoing conflict over religious proselytizing in the U.S. military.

The book is “Under Orders: A Spiritual Handbook for Military Personnel,” by Army Chaplain (Lt. Col.) William McCoy, and according to Petraeus’ published endorsement of the work, “it should be in every rucksack for those times when soldiers need spiritual energy.”

But the endorsement – which has spurred a demand by a watchdog group for Petraeus’ dismissal and court martial on the grounds of establishing a religious requirement on troops – was a personal view never intended for publication, the book’s author now says.

“In the process of securing … comments for recommending the book I believe there was a basic misunderstanding on my part that the comments were publishable,” McCoy said in an Aug. 19 email to “This was my mistake.”

In addition to Petraeus, Maj. Gen. Mark Hertling also is quoted plugging the book in press releases and advertisements and on the jacket.

McCoy, writing in response to’s Aug. 18 inquiry to Petraeus’ office for comment, said the two generals’ endorsements “were intended for me personally rather than for the general public.”

In response to follow-up questions from, McCoy said he has asked that all distribution of the book be halted until a new “graphic overlay” for the back cover is produced “so there is no further public misunderstanding.”

McCoy did not respond to questions on the timing of the endorsements, and why it took so long before the officials learned their endorsement has been used in print. Petraeus’ endorsement has been on the book since its 2007 publication, while Hertling’s plug first appeared on the 2005 edition. Both also are quoted in newspaper ads for the book and on the book’s Web page.

Patraeus spokesman Col. Steven Boylan said the general has been Iraq since the beginning of February 2007, “and unless someone [like] notes it, we would not be aware of it,” he said in an Aug. 19 email. “We don’t get the stateside papers in Baghdad and I doubt very much that Gen. Petraeus goes to much, if at all.”

Mikey Weinstein, head of the Military Religious Freedom Foundation, believes McCoy is taking the fall for Petraeus and Hertling’s improper endorsements. Weinstein said it “strains credulity” that Petraeus never knew that his private written endorsement of the book was in the public domain since last year.

Weinstein is a former Air Force judge advocate general and White House counsel during the Reagan administration. His group has been fighting in the courts to keep improper proselytizing out of the military. Now, he said, he intends to incorprate the Petraeus and Hertling endorsements into an ongoing lawsuit against the Pentagon for an alleged pervasive and permicious “pattern and practice” of religious liberties violations in the military.

What a idiot – Weinstein, that is. Let’s cover some basics before we offer a terse response to him. The basics has to do with some brief observations by Rousas John Rushdoony concerning religion and the American system.

I first encountered Rushdoony at L’Abri, a Christian community high in the Swiss Alps. The year was 1964. Francis Schaeffer, the founder and director of L’Abri, had recently come across a little book by Rushdoony called This Independent Republic: Studies in the Nature and Meaning of American History, and he made it the basis for a seminar with the students at L’Abri. We gathered in the living room of Chalet les Mélèzes, where most of the community’s meetings were held. It was before Schaeffer became a popular sage for many evangelical Christians, and so we could study such a text informally, though we always did so with care.

The topics covered in the Rushdoony book were wide-ranging. The chapter that Schaeffer chose for the subject of his seminar focused on the difference between the American and the French Revolutions. Drawing on scholars such as Peter Drucker and James C. Malin, Rushdoony challenged the propriety of calling America’s defensive war against Great Britain a true revolution. According to him it was instead a “conservative counterrevolution,” whose purpose was to preserve American liberties from their usurpation by the British Parliament. It owed nothing to the Enlightenment. By contrast, the French Revolution was the direct result of the Enlightenment, along with the organizational strategies fostered by various secret and esoteric societies.

Though at the time I was too much a novice in history to judge the accuracy of his thesis, I was drawn to the clarity and cogency of Rushdoony’s arguments. Those were heady days at L’Abri, which in the sixties was a seedbed for ideas that captivated our imaginations and sought to link every area of our lives to a Christian worldview. A Christian historiography containing such a powerful critique of the point of view most of us received in school was for me a great stimulation. Rushdoony taught us that the American Constitution, with its eloquent absence of references to Christian faith, was a secular document only in appearance. In fact, it was deliberately fashioned as a minimalist document by men of genius whose primary purpose was to ensure the vitality of local government. Here Rushdoony added a distinctive perspective, one which would become a leitmotif throughout his long career, and one which would have a wide impact on other figures in his circle.

In Rushdoony’s view, the Constitution did not need to include a Christian confession because the states were already a Christian establishment or settlement. The First Amendment prohibited laws respecting the establishment of religion because religion was already established at the local level. There were sabbath rules, religious tests for citizenship, laws regarding heterosexual fidelity, blasphemy laws-all of them strongly connected to biblical law. The First Amendment was intended to protect the states from interference by the federal government.

The confusion of church and state would involve, for example, sanctioning a particular denomination such that they got financial breaks (e.g., viz. taxes) that other denominations did not. Public displays of religion, or the notion of a world view as the basis for a system of laws, is not breaking the barrier between the institutions of church and state. Further, barriers between church and government are not the same as barriers between religion and laws. All laws are based on some world view, and America has as the basis for its system of laws Judeo-Christian philosophy.

Now. Given this as backdrop, it makes no sense whatsoever for Mr. Weinstein to be troubling himself and us so with such childish arguments. He should find a way to contribute to the global war on terror, and quit pestering General Petraeus. Weinstein has officially become annoying to TCJ. The good General endorsed a particular book as good for his soul. So what? Doesn’t Weinstein have to go cut his grass or take out the trash, or something else useful?

TCJ hears Weinstein’s wife calling. You have chores, now. Run along.

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