Sunday, October 29, 2006



29 October 2006

The North Korean Stand-off

It would appear that like the media driven blow-up over who did less to prevent 9/11 many of our politicians are now running around blaming both the current administration of President GW Bush and the past administration of President WJ Clinton over who is responsible for North Korea attempting to test a nuclear weapon. So who is more responsible for allowing North Korea to attain the status of having medium range missiles and for at least attempting to test a nuclear device? Let’s look at the facts and the history behind this whole event and see what answers we can come up with as it relates to the question.

First we need to understand how North Korea came to exist, up until 1945 there was only one Korea which during WW II was occupied by Japan. As an interim measure the country was to be governed by Russia above the 38th parallel and America below the parallel until they reached an agreement on who would oversee the country. The negotiations were unsuccessful and like Europe quickly falling into two camps the Soviet Block and the Western Block. Remember just like Eastern Europe the people weren’t consulted in any way nor were they given any opportunity to decide who would rule them. In 1948 with negotiations over and no agreement reached Russia began to create the North Korea government in its own image and the American’s quickly followed suit creating an autocratic South Korea with the goal of democracy. Tensions were immediate with people on both sides wanting to move back and forth and not understanding these new borders. As tensions mounted border incidents became more frequent and violent. The Russians were poring surplus tanks, artillery and new jet aircraft into the North while the US did the same in the South. In only two short years the North felt it was ready. With mainly Russians flying their aircraft and Russian advisors down to the Battalion level the North Korea army crossed the 38th parallel on 25 June 1950 and began the Koran War.

The North’s initial successes were dramatic and overwhelming for the South who had not received as much Armor and who had no modern aircraft to speak of. This was the first chance for the UN to intervene in a modern war and it did so almost immediately but turned over command of the war effort to the Americans. The UN Security Council resolution only gave the US the ability to stabilize the situation and return to the recognized pre-invasion borders. The US commander General D MacArthur did not take the resolution literally and after a brilliant amphibious landing at Inchon marched to within spitting distance of the Yalu river on the Chinese border. Ignoring his political masters to not fly aircraft within the border area or to move troops too close he pressed on which led the Chinese Volunteers to enter the war in a huge way.

This changed the course of the war and after refusing to authorize tactical nuclear strikes on the Chinese the UN forces were pushed back to the Pusan perimeter in the South and once again the South Korean capitol was in Northern hands. General MacArthur was recalled and then relieved. UN Forces led by the American Army pushed back hard and by 27 July 1953 had regained the 38th parallel and a cease fire was signed by the UN Command, The Korean Peoples Army and the Chinese Volunteers. This agreement was formally known as the Korean War Armistice Agreement and it created the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) which continues to separate the two countries. Although negotiations have periodically occurred the Armistice has never resulted in a peace agreement ending the conflict.

North Korea has only been ruled by two leaders since 1948, Kim Il-sung from 1948 until his death in Oct 1994 when his son Kim Jong-Il took over. In the 1960’s and 70’s the North’s economy was considered better than it’s southern neighbor but in the 80 and more drastically in the 90’s the North’s economy collapsed (note the timing which mirrors the decline and collapse of the Soviet Union). During that same timeframe the South came into its own and its economy began to rival Japans. To distract from the poor economy in the mid 80’s Kim Il-sung began a massive buildup of military might and in the late 80’s began to threaten the South more openly. The response of the West and South was negotiation and offers of aid, which seemed to the West to be an opening to appeal to the North to open its borders, instead the North used the aid to feed the Army and the financial aid to begin the development of a missile program and a nuclear research program. North Korea officially became a member of the UN in 1991.

In 1993 in response to missile tests and the military build up the US began to attempt to negotiate with the North Korean regime offering to build light water nuclear reactors for energy, food aid, international recognition and financial aid. The US showed its level of commitment to the idea of bringing the North into fold by sending ex President Jimmy Carter to negotiate the deal. South Korea also offered to allow movement between the borders and offered food and aid to help the starving population of the North. Kim Il-sung agreed to stop his Nuclear weapons program and stand down his military, he also offered to send envoys to the DMZ to continue the negotiations towards a permanent end to the War.

This noble attempt to solve a potential crisis by President Clinton continued through the 1990’s with limited success, although the West was meeting its side of the agreement the North Koreans were secretly negotiating with the Chinese for better missile technology and with the Pakistani’s for nuclear weapons technology using the financial aid provided by the west. In 1994 Kim Il-sung passed away and his son Kim Jong-Il came to power officially in 1997 after 3 yrs of morning. He suggested with the passing of his more hard line father that he would be open to even bigger reforms at a faster pace. Again responding nobly the Clinton Administration sent the Secretary of State Madeline Albright to meet with Kim Jong-Il in 2000. She brought with her a large number of incentives to help Kim Jong-Il take the next step but at the end of the day she was not able to achieve anything and the administration was left with nothing other than a photo op of the Secretary of State sharing a champagne toast with a dictator whose people were starving.

With the new administration taking over in early 2001 all went quiet on the North Korean front although the new Secretary of State Colin Powell asked for permission to re-open talks the Bush Administration as a whole after reviewing the file and realizing that the North had been cheating on the Jimmy Carter sponsored deal almost before the ink was dry decided to take a harder line and ended the talks immediately until the North agreed to end it’s nuclear weapons program and cease its attempted to develop an inter-continental ballistic missile. The administration also cut off much of its aid except food aid, ceased construction on the light water reactors and imposed some financial sanctions on the regime as it had discovered that the North was counter fitting US currency to pay for many of its programs. Kim Jong-Il responded angrily and worked hard to drive a wedge between the US and it’s European and South Korean allies and turned more to the Chinese to help force the West to return to the good ole days in the 90’s.

Instead the US managed to convince those concerned to create the 6 party talks (consisting of North Korea, South Korea, China, Russia, Japan and the United States) designed to end the nuclear ambitions of the North in exchange for restoration of the aid package offered under the Clinton Administration plus more. Most of this negotiating was done quietly and by the Chinese and Japanese with absolutely no success. In fact in 2001 Kim Jong-Il threatened to increase production of both weapons and missiles and began to support and minimally finance terrorist organizations throughout the Far East to help further destabilize Pro-western based governments. After 9-11 and during his State of the Nation speech to Congress in 2002 President Bush went public with his administrations feeling about North Korea when he labeled them as a member of the Axis of Evil, this took many American’s by surprise as all eyes were on the middle east and nobody was paying any attention to this growing menace.

The 6 party talks had ups and down over the next 4 yrs announcing agreements followed by further announcements that in fact no agreement had actually been reached. China a member of the group often asked the other members to water down language and continually went to bat for the North Koreans. They masterfully and continually managed to create wedges between the US and the South Koreans who were afraid of being to tough with Kim Jong-Il who they believed was unbalanced and since they would be the direct target and recipient of his wraith they wanted peace almost by any means.

In June 2006 after 4 yrs of back and forth talks the North Koreans took the next step towards being able to threaten the west by testing a 3 stage rocket that would be capable of delivering a nuclear payload to the continental United States. Although the test was a failure it was a clear sign that the North was working towards that goal and would if allowed achieve that capability. In response there were threats of UN sanctions and back and forth shuttle diplomacy between 6 party members with the Chinese again taking the lead asking the US to give them one more chance to solve this without the UN security council being involved. While the 6 party members continued to debate their own strategy the North Korea’s decided to test a 4 Megaton device in October 2006. While the test was what is known as a fizzle, a nuclear trigger fires but the device didn’t fully work as the chain reaction required failed to occur, (only a 500 kiloton blast occurred) it again signaled the world that the North Koreans were making an attempt to move their program along in a dramatic fashion.

The difference this time was all members of the 6 party talks including the Chinese had asked the North not to conduct the test so this time a UN Security Council resolution was prepared and after some watering down passed. The North dismissed it but unlike previous occasions the Chinese agreed and began to implement some very limited inspections of North Korea goods coming into their country and going to the North. These limited sanctions will achieve nothing to turn back the clock and do little to entice the North to stop its weapons and missile program or open up. There has been no credible attempt to over throw the North Korean government from within although a minor rebellion by an Army unit in 1995 was quickly put down so how do we get rid of this mad man who’s running North Korea?

Can we talk to him? That was tried with no success by the Clinton administration on numerous occasions using a very direct and unilateral approach. The Bush administration has tried a very multilateral approach which has been extremely slow and really had the same results, a defiant North Korea moving in the direction they want to go.

So to answer the question of who is at fault, neither President Clinton nor President Bush directly as they both tried using different approaches. During the Clinton administration the regional allies complained about not being included in the talks while during the Bush administration his detractors complain that his refusal to have direct unilateral talks is the reason we are where we are.

I believe that both administrations have refused to acknowledge that you cannot talk with a madman and expect him to respect the rule of law, or any agreement he signs. You also can’t be wishy-washy with a despot. You must lay out the deal you are offering and the consequences of not accepting the deal. You must set a deadline and then you must follow through as promised. Obviously this is easier to write about than to implement but one has to wonder if the Clinton administration had not been distracted in the late 90’s and if the Bush administration had not been almost immediately distracted by 9/11 would either one of the administrations had the nerve to bomb the North Korea missile and nuclear research facilities. Would either administration been willing to bomb the North Korea artillery and missile positions that are in range of Seoul? It really would have meant upsetting China and South Korea but certainly would have prevented a potentially nuclear armed North Korea sitting in the same location with the worlds fifth largest Army and feeling like it can do whatever it wants.

This is how we got to where we are now but what of the future? The future very much depends on North Korea’s next move. If they feel emboldened by the half hearted security council resolution and China’s half hearted attempt to enforce the sanctions while Europe goes back to talking and wishing and America goes back to worrying about mid term elections and Iraq and South Korea remains only half committed to sanctions out of fear of retaliation then I suggest they will conduct a second test before December to prove that they can make a nuclear weapon work properly. They may also be ready by spring 2007 to take another crack at a 3 stage missile. That only leaves the difficult next step of matching up these two technologies together which most non partisan experts believe is another year away at best.

At some point soon (2008-2009) we will have to make a decision do we attack North Korea or do we accept them as the newest member of the Nuclear weapons club with the means to deliver that weapon to North America. Do you think the next presidential election might get into the way of any decision being made or am I just a cynic?

Saturday, October 28, 2006


28 October 2006


Although this blog is dedicated to primarily American military or political issues I thought I’d take some time and write today about my native country of Canada. Today’s anti war protests remind me of other protests here and abroad. In Europe in the early and mid 80’s huge protests were held to rally against the deployment of nuclear capable missiles by the US, in Canada rally’s were held to protest the governments decision to allow the testing of the cruise missile in Northern Canada and prior to the Iraq war world wide protests asking the American administration to give peace a chance. You’ve really got to ask what they are trying to achieve today and if their goals were achieved how would Afghanistan be better off?

It’s funny how some things turn out. The missiles that went into Germany and Britain helped end the Cold War as the Russians had no defense against them and would no longer have sufficient time to launch a retaliatory strike before being destroyed. The cruise missile has saved many a pilots life as they strike air defense systems prior to air raids and the rallies against the Iraq war stopped nothing although they may have given Saddam a sense that the world wouldn’t let the Americans attack and thus he continued his bluster about having secret weapons which continued to fuel the faulty intelligence reports of WMD.

Now we are protesting the combat mission in Afghanistan because it doesn’t focus enough on rebuilding, reconstruction and peacekeeping. Bring our soldier’s home the signs say, Jake Layton the leader of the New Democratic Party (should be called the Socialist Party but who’d vote for them with that name) says he’s protesting not to demoralize the troops but to better support them. American’s came up to join in saying Iraq is a bad war and Canada needs to stop supporting American Imperialism while they managed to dredge up a former reservist to say he’d been fined and dismissed from the reserve for refusing to train for the Afghan mission that was turned into a combat mission by Steven Harpers warmongering Conservative government.

Wow with all that rhetoric I was almost ready to head out the door and join but before I start panting my sign and begin practicing cool chats I thought I’d do some fact checking about the mission and the protesters claims.

First the NDP has never supported the military or anything beyond turning it into a force designed to only allow the Federal government to provide search and rescue, and natural disaster recovery support within Canada so the idea that Mr. Layton wants to change the mandate to providing a peaceful environment for reconstruction work is laughable. He’s simply afraid of the backlash that goes along with stating his real position which he floated a few months ago when he suggested negotiations with the terrorists were the way to go.

Having anti Iraq war supporters from the US joining in is a cool way to increase your numbers but one thing has nothing to do with the other. Two separate missions two separate objectives and two separate governments responding in a united way to an attack that also killed Canadian citizens on 9/11.

Now to the issue that really got me to write this so quickly and disregard my normal rules that say I don’t write about something in the moment but allow for a cooling off period to avoid emotional responses. The reservist’s comments: this fellow is obviously lying or exaggerating to gain a platform. Since I can’t get inside his head I don’t know which of these two choices is correct.

In the Canadian Forces reserve units and personnel are NOT required to deploy without volunteering unless War is declared under the War measures act (Yes I know it has a new name now). The War in Afghanistan does not fall into that category and no reservists are being deployed without their consent, in fact the percentage of reservists being used is much lower than the number of volunteers who are trying to serve. I would suspect that this gentleman decided that he wouldn’t participate in normal combat training in Canada based on his perception that it would lead to some form of a deployment that didn’t suit his political view and for that he was dismissed.

Now what is this so-called war training, well he must report for up to 4 hrs of training 1 night per week and 1 weekend (about 36 hrs worth) of training per month. It has nothing to do with Afghanistan nor any other deployment the CF is involved with so it’s a crock that he’s now claiming he was dismissed for taking stand against an unjust war which leads to the final piece of nonsense which is that Steven Harper the George Bush wannabe warmonger changed the mission.

I’m sorry to have to report this (glossed over by the Liberal leaning media) fact but the mission was changed by the Paul Martin Liberal government prior to the last election and the move to Khandahar began in December 05 and was completed in Feb 06 just after the Conservatives came to power. The current mission was a Liberal idea that was supported by the Conservative opposition but was not debated in the House until the Conservatives came to power and weakly bowed to the media driven pressure to have a debate when soldiers sadly began to do what soldiers do in a war, die.

A famous general once said “Even victorious armies suffer casualties” and as sad as each death is, and you can trust me here as many of these dead soldiers were former comrades of mine, we all volunteer to join and gladly serve knowing that it is our job. We expect the government will equip us, provide the time and funds for training and that Canadians will support us. Today the Army is in harms way and is the best trained and equipped it has ever been and it’s truly sad to see Canadians sapping their will to fight for us.

If you’ve taken the time to read my entry of 27 October you’ll see that I believe we more often than not lose wars at home and I truly hope the incredible job being done in Afghanistan by the Canadian Forces won’t be undermined by the politics of the uninformed. What will these protesters achieve if they’re goals are achieved, well the Taliban will return, the Afghan people will go back in to religious bondage and the worlds terrorists will again have a home to train. If that’s what the Canadian people truly want then and only then will I agree that our soldiers have died in vain.


27 October 2006


I must say that this essay is being written today because I believe we are on the brink of losing the war in Iraq and potentially reversing all the early gains made on the war on Terror since 9/11. Why do I believe this you ask? Well I believe this because I see the country wavering and losing support for the war effort. As the countries morale goes so goes the soldier’s efforts to fight the war for us.

What supports my theory, well I’m only going to look at the 20th and 21st Centuries but it is my firm belief that America’s wars are won and lost at home not in the field. Let’s look back to the 20th century. We fought 4 large scale conflicts and several minor conflicts under Republican and Democratic administrations so lets leave politics out of this as both sides have wins and loses during their respective watch’s.

The 1st and 2nd World Wars were both reluctant wars for America. During the 1st World War the Europeans and all the commonwealth countries fought without America from 1914 until late in 1917. America once committed fought hard and was largely responsible for bringing the war to a close some 2 years a head of European expectations. Why did we win, first we didn’t start the war, 2nd we really didn’t want to get involved and 3rd once we did get involved we put our all into the effort and using overwhelming force (both militarily and industrially) we won quickly.

Once again we look at WW II as a definite win and you can look at the WW I model, we remained out of the fight for the first 2 yrs and only joined in the Allied effort after being directly attacked at Pearl Harbor by Japan. We then mobilized the nation like never before and within 3 yrs defeated both German and its axis partners but also Japan. If you look closely you’ll discover that once again the country didn’t just pore military manpower into Europe and the Far East but industry joined in the effort creating huge amounts of ships, planes, tanks, truck, weapons, ammunition and general war stocks. People personally sacrificed buying war bonds, donating scrap metal and rubber. Women went to work in the factories while men volunteered to fight. Once again we prevailed quickly and overwhelmingly and without America the Europeans less Britain would have remained occupied by Germany and Russia probably would have been either conquered or greatly reduced in both size and power. In the Far East Japan may have succeeded in taking over Australia and China. They would probably have then been able to turn on Russia further squeezing and weakening them. Today’s world would look very different if America had not been successful.

The next major war to come along was the Korean War. This was our first loss of the 20th century. Some historians will perhaps be generous and call it a tie but I would suggest that once America agreed to fight the North Korean invaders who had invaded South Korea, a democratic Allie and the best we could accomplish was to end up back where we started after 3 yrs of fighting and 50,000 dead Americans then I would suggest that’s called failure. Why didn’t we win, I mean our militaries leaders (both officers and Senior Non Commissioned Officers) were all veterans of WWII. They understood sacrifice and difficult terrain and tough enemies. I believe that we lost because we didn’t fully commit to the war here at home and for the first time we were under orders based on a UN resolution (which gave us the authority to fight) to only restore the borders of South Korea vice the previous two wars when our military were directed to destroy the enemy and capture and hold their territory. So, on the field of battle while America soldiers were winning numerous battles the country didn’t mobilize, industry didn’t mobilize and the civilian population perhaps tired of sacrifice from WW II refused to provide the support the troops had just 5 yrs earlier. Governments are adept at reading the voters and the government of the day worked hard to minimize the hardship on the civilian population recognizing that another all out effort would cost them dearly at the polls. The lack of effort at home resulted in a seasoned hard fighting and well led army to only be able to achieve a stalemate. Without a win there were no parades and as soon as possible everybody went back to enjoying this new American life where everybody had a car, a telephone and this new gadget called a TV.

Our next major conflict began only 1 yr after Korea and was a direct fallout from the stalemate there. We began to send advisors to Vietnam in 1954 to help the democratic South prevent the Communist North from overthrowing their government. If this sounds familiar you must at least agree to think like our leaders were in the 50’s when they were terribly afraid of communism and it’s movement throughout the Far East. In Vietnam we had mission creep and mission change instead of deciding we should jump in as we did in WW I and II. We began by trying to train and advise the South Vietnamese while upping the number of American military advisors in Vietnam each year until President Johnson decided to change the mission and deploy combat troops to conduct offensive operations. Once that mission change occurred you would expect an all out effort (learning from the Korean war mistakes) but we didn’t get that. Once again the government was focused on a domestic agenda and didn’t want to detract from that effort either financially or by giving their political opponents the fodder of another war. So instead of overwhelming force we had a slow and painful build up of troops over a 3 yr period. We also saw that no mobilization of industry and of the civilian population occurred. There were no sacrifices to be made at home, no war bonds, no Hollywood propaganda machine to turn out patriotic films (except the Green Berets with John Wayne) and no overwhelming sense of doing the right thing by standing up to a threat in a far off land and making sure like minded democracies weren’t being overrun by fascists (ala WW II) or in this case communists. In fact we saw the media turn against the war with beloved anchor Walter Cronkite declaring the war un-winnable after the Tet office of 68 ( a huge military loss for North Vietnam). That was followed by a popular uprising throughout major US cities which resulted in a sitting President refusing to run for a second term. I’m not a great political historian but I do believe this was the first case of a healthy President refusing to run for a second term. Again I believe we lost this war through lack of commitment at home not on the field of battle.

As the 20th century came to a close we once again got involved in a pretty large fight and once again it was with reluctance and only after we saw our allies occupied and threatened. What was different about the 1st Gulf War you ask? Well for some reason we as a country decided it was the right thing to do. Congress was split on the issue and President HW Bush barely got congressional permission to go to war, once he got that permission he used it well by committing overwhelming military might and then not launching that might until it was all in place and was ready to go. When he finally agreed to unleash the largest build up of American military might since WW II they moved quickly did what they’d be allowed to do (once again a UN resolution only allowed the restoration of Kuwait’s border) and with such force of violence that it occurred with minimal casualties and then came home as quickly as possible. Again for reasons unknown the public mobilized and supported the troops beyond anything seen since WW II and the soldiers were not only surprised but were stunned with that support. The short duration of the war doesn’t allow for any real assessment of the civilian populations willingness to mobilize and sacrifice for the cause but their support was undoubtedly a morale boast and a powerful incentive for the troops to succeed.

Afghanistan was not really a big war but it was again a popular war as America was once again and for the first time responding to a direct attack against the homeland. With minimal casualties and a small commitment we overthrew a horrific regime and began to move quickly down the path of stability and democracy. This limited use of military might in the form of boots on the ground was a huge departure from the 1st Gulf War but it worked so really nobody questioned it or even noticed. Some 5 yrs after we invaded we’re seeing the result of that policy in a resurgent Taliban in Southern Afghanistan and more frequent IED attacks in the capitol of Kabul. In the case of Afghanistan the administration was smart and quick to turn over the toughest locations in the South to NATO thus ensuring it wasn’t an American problem that their political enemies could point to. Afghanistan is more stable than its been in almost 40 yrs and after a spring, summer and fall of clashes between Canadian and British troops and the Taliban we find the Taliban reduced in both manpower and capability but moving towards individual suicide attacks and IED’s which keep the appearance of instability alive in the media. This one is a heavily leaning towards a victory but unlike WW I and II it won’t be an obvious VA day.

So here we are today looking at Iraq and wondering if we are winning or losing. I believe we are winning on the battlefield and losing at home, which I’m sure sounds very familiar to my readers. If it doesn’t ring any bells yet please refer to the paragraph on Vietnam.

So how did we get here now? Remember when I mentioned that in Afghanistan the American military used a new tactic which only put the minimum required troops on the ground? Well after the success in Afghanistan the same strategy was used in Iraq. The build up time was shorter than in Gulf I allowing the invasion to begin earlier thus ensuring the hard combat operations would be wrapped up before the summer temperatures hit ridiculous numbers and that reductions in troop levels could occur in the Thanksgiving to Christmas timeframe. I know you’re saying it cynical to think people think politically during the planning of military operations but unfortunately it’s true. The administration spoke a great deal with Iraqi expatriates who told them over and over again not to use to much force and not to destroy the infrastructure unless absolutely necessary so as to ensure the Iraqi people would see them as liberators. The administration bought into this idea maybe because it sounded familiar. Please keep in mind they were coming off a big win in Afghanistan using the exact same strategies and tactics. Using the most modern weapons ever invented they were able to pinpoint bomb like never before truly limiting the damage in the cities to a minimum and they swept aside the Iraqi military easily with no real fights along the way. American casualties were light, movement was rapid and the imbedded media were sending back one success story after another. The difference between Iraq and Afghanistan became apparent almost immediately after the fall of Baghdad when Iraqi’s began looting government building, ammunition depots and military barracks. They took everything from weapons and ammunition to toilets and sinks. The Americans were stunned and stood by doing nothing to stop the looting for almost two weeks until pressure at home worked its way back to Iraq. This was the first crack in the strategy and when the Administration turned to its Iraqi advisors they were missing in action as it turned out they were leading the looting and working to set themselves up as power brokers in the new Iraq. Dismayed and confused the American military under political pressure to get the rioting and looting under control and to get power and water restored cracked down and almost immediately lost the Iraqi people’s support and a liberator.

After so many years of being told what to do and when to do it Iraqi’s celebrated their freedom by saying I want what the rich had and I could only imagine and did so by looting and making unreasonable demands on the Americans to immediately restore utilities that weren’t working well before the invasion. The crack down shocked Iraqi’s who thought they would be able to express their new freedom any way they wanted and quickly had them complaining to a now bored 24 hr news media that American was simply the new Saddam.

I’m trying desperately to stay away from turning this essay into political comment so I’ll do my best to stick with military issues. As the Iraqi’s increasingly expressed dismay with the occupation a small insurgency began to grow attacking American convoys with IED’s (built with looted artillery shells). As the Iraqi’s were turning away from the Americans, terrorists from around the world were gathering in Syria and Iran preparing to begin the biggest Jihad in modern history. They weren’t able to respond in Afghanistan as the American victory was so quick and the Afghani’s didn’t seem to object but in Iraq there was opportunity. The American military was there in large numbers, the Iraqi people were unsure if they liked this new occupier and the American media was bored and looking for exciting stories to keep their rating high.

The weakness of this new military strategy which up to this point had proven Rumsfeld right and was now replacing the Powell doctrine of overwhelming force was beginning to show as America shuttled troops from one area to another attempting to track down the insurgents and to stop the common crime that was springing up. The disbanding of the police and Iraq military by Paul Bremer was also hindering their effort. More boots on the ground were needed as the Iraqi occupation was not going in the same direction as the Afghan one.

As the Jihad began the American military was drawn back into combat operations over and over again, destroying cities and engaging in deadly fighting in built up areas while suicide bombers were making a huge impact on the media and the local population. The successful killing or capturing of the former regime leaders did nothing to stop the insurrection and in fact after high profile killings or captures the violence would increase. Over and over again the Rumsfeld doctrine was failing to support a traditional occupation which is manpower intensive. The American military was stretched far to thin in Iraq and was more like a single engine fire department that had to fight a forest fire. Just as one area was pacified another area blew up as the insurgents simple moved to a location that the Americans weren’t in and started up their activities there.

The American military is more nimble than ever and its tactics began to change dramatically as they conducted numerous raids and began to better use Iraq human intelligence to get to the insurgent leadership and those with the skills to make the IED’s while ramping up the training of Iraq security forces and using them as the bad guys. While American death rates continued to average 2.2 per day they were bleeding the insurgency at a much higher rate and had managed to pacify 16 out of 18 provinces within 3 yrs. As the military wins on the ground the tide was turning against them at home. The media again was the first to turn against the war and that was followed quickly by Hollywood and then regular Americans who began to judge the war’s success by the American death toll. If the monthly total was down the polls would go up and if the monthly total was high as it is this month the polls would go down. Although I said I wouldn’t go political in this essay you can’t ignore the reality of the General election in 04 and mid term election occurring now and how the public perceives the war based on the politicians who are running their campaigns. Sadly we’re in 68 again, the media perception after Tet was that we have lost the war, then the public turned against the war and an administration was destroyed. Morale in the field faltered as nobody wanted to fight and possible die if they weren’t being supported at home.

Once again the military is winning on the ground while the public is being lead to believe they are losing by a biased and profit driven media who are bored and know that to keep ratings high they need to highlight American deaths and any division between the Iraqi leaders and the American leaders and shameless politicians who are willing to hang the military out to dry to gain power.

American wins wars only when the country is mobilized and motivated to win. Iraq is a war that will not be one unless the public rejoins the effort and is willing to make sacrifices. If they don’t we will loss this war and Iraq will be abandoned and become a failed state that eventually breaks into pieces the number of which is for another article. America began this war with noble goals and must not allow politics, the media or polls drive military tactics. America must recognize that when we tell a group of people that we want them to achieve freedom we must follow through instead of demanding instant results. At this point I would suggest everybody re-read American history books which clearly outline the difficulties of creating a constitution and a democracy after a war of liberation. Why is that we expect the Iraqi’s to attain stability quicker than we could?

If we want to win we only need to look at why we’ve been successful and why we’ve failed. If we don’t mobilize the home front we will be adding the Iraq war to the loss column when it easily could have quickly gone into the win column.

Friday, October 13, 2006

How Did We Get Here Now - WHEN DID WE GET SO WEAK

Written by: T Lee Humphrey

13 October 2006

HOW DID WE GET HERE (Series of articles)


As I watch the political pundits and politicians work themselves into a frenzy over how we got where we are today as it relates to bin Laden and why he’s still alive after recent comments by President Clinton during a Fox News Sunday interview and the Bush Administrations response.

Many people seem to believe our current problems can be blamed on President Clinton while even more put the blame on President Bush. I think they’re all (like to many Americans) short sited and so I would like everyone to look much further back in our history to track the beginning of a weaker America that has led us to where we are now, specifically by focusing on how we are perceived by others.

In my humble opinion we began our slide in 1951 when the US was on the verge of victory in Korea and the Chinese decided they’d enter the war in a massive and open way. Instead of committing to winning the war at any cost ala WW II President Truman decided to pull the bomb off the table and soon there after began an almost two year process of peace talks with the North Koreans and the Chinese. This approach by the only President in history to drop nuclear weapons on an enemy sent the first message to the world that the US was no longer willing to do whatever was necessary to defend our allies. Not only did the US hold back militarily but the country wasn’t mobilized nor was its population galvanized to do whatever it took to win.

The next event that I believe sent a clear message to the world that American wasn’t willing to stand up for freedom was when President Kennedy promised to provide US air support to the Bay of Pigs invasion force but after the invasion began decided that Cuban freedom wasn’t worth tangling with Russia over and left these men to be captured tortured and killed. As this was going on President Kennedy was also telling our friends in South Vietnam that he wanted them to stand up and take the lead in fighting the North Vietnamese and that while he would increase the US militaries commitment it would only be to better train the fledgling South Vietnamese Army so they could stand on their own two feet.

After the assassination of President Kennedy, newly sworn in President Johnson reversed the administrations direction and committed combat troops. Again with great hesitation and an unwillingness to commit the forces necessary this resulted in a gradual escalation of troops and equipment vice a full out mobilization. The world saw us hesitate while the US saw a President not wanting to risk anymore lives than necessary. The decisive battlefield victory which almost eliminated the Viet Cong guerrilla movement and drove the majority of North Vietnamese troops back across their border resulted in the US public being shocked at what they saw on their TV screens and declared the war lost. Had we enjoyed the luxury of TV during WW II it would appear that when the German’s launched the offensive known as the Battle of the Bulge and in the winter of 1945 (when all of the world thought the war was over) driving American and allied forces back perhaps Walter Cronkite would have declared the war un-winnable and the US would have let our allies continue the fight alone.

I know you’re wondering how I’m going to get to today’s America from here but wait the pace picks up with President Nixon being elected on a platform of withdrawal with honor and then following up with his promise by again abandoning a key regional allie and tearing the country apart with its first clear war loss in the 20th Century. The message that went out around the world wasn’t withdrawal with honor, or enough is enough our allies must take up their own fights at some point it was America can be beaten not on the battlefield but in the arena of public opinion and Americans don’t have the stomach for a long term fight. TV and media attitudes towards war changed a great deal between Korea and Vietnam compared to the positive spin in newsreels from WW II and this had a very dramatic effect on public opinion and the political reaction to that opinion.

After Iran took over the US Embassy taking US citizens hostage in 1979 the world was sent another message by President Carter, if you directly attack America it will negotiate and when it attempts to attack its military is weak and can’t even get some helicopters to fly for more than a few hours. Remember this was in stark contrast to the way that Israel was handling terrorism at the time. The message to the terrorists of the Middle East was Israel not only fights back but will hunt you down, America will talk and posture but do nothing.

With the election of President Reagan the world held its collective breath as everybody was convinced that this new and somewhat unconventional President after his initial success with Iran (all negotiations were completed prior to the inauguration) said things are going to be different. America re-engaged and sent Marines to Lebanon on their first (and last) UN sanctioned peacekeeping mission but within months a Hezbollah suicide bomber using a huge truck bomb ended the tough beginning of the Reagan presidency and America's tentative move towards regaining a spine as President Reagan almost immediately ordered the withdrawal of the Marines. America praised President Reagan for his quick action, which would surely prevent more Marines from dying needlessly. The message the world got was if you give the Americans a quick bloody nose they will refuse to continue the fight. Although President Reagan was willing to attack Libya by air and invade Grenada during his second term the die was cast. He talked tough but like his predecessors wasn’t willing or couldn’t politically withstand negative public opinion.

For a brief period of time the world saw a new United States under President H W Bush who without hesitation put his army onto the sands of Saudi Arabia and drew his own line in the sand. America was back and willing to do whatever it took to help our allies. After a lighting quick and overwhelming victory over the worlds third largest army with minimal casualty’s victory was declared and the status quo maintained. Saddam Hussein remained in power, Kuwait was liberated and Saudi Arabia was no longer threatened by Iraq. Somalia was next for President HW Bush, he saw a need to save starving people who were being victimized by Islamic radicals and he took action again using the US military to lead a massive UN sanctioned multinational force to stop an injustice, this was the New World Order at it’s collective best. Once again the fight was over almost before it began and aid agencies moved in to save these desperate people, but under the strain of his own re-election loss he was under pressure by President elect Clinton’s team to not leave the soon to be President a mess in Africa so President Bush began the process of handing over command of the operation to the UN. Within days of being sworn in President Clinton sped up the process and pulled all but roughly 2500 men of the 10th Mountain Division out of Somalia and for the first time in UN history put them under command of a UN appointed non-American general. Shortly thereafter after attacks on UN Pakistani forces President Clinton agreed to the deployment of a company of Rangers and a team from the 1st SOF detachment Delta, more commonly known as Delta Force. After the loss of 18 servicemen and the capture of a helicopter pilot which included video footage repeatedly shown on TV of dead US military personnel being dragged and humiliated President Clinton ordered all US forces out of the country (after successfully negotiating the release of the captured helicopter pilot). Once again America said well done we shouldn’t sacrifice our soldiers for ungrateful people but the world heard you can be overwhelmingly defeated in a combat action (at least 1000 Somali fighters died and the raids objective of capturing high profile targets was achieved) but if you put the brutality of combat on display America will withdrawal, a modern day mini-Tet offence result. Images on TV drew President HW Bush into Somalia and images on TV drove America out of Somalia.

President Clinton refused to enter the wars in Croatia and Bosnia and ignored the genocide in Rwanda until it was over not wanting too see a repeat of the video footage of US soldiers being humiliated by rebels and terrorists. At home and abroad US assets were being attacked by terrorist organizations including the World trade Center in New York (1993) resulting in 6 Americans dead and 1042 wounded, US Embassy’s in Tanzania and Kenya (1996) resulting in 12 US dead, the Khobar Towers in Saudi Arabia (1996) resulting in 19 US servicemen dead and finally the USS Cole (2000) resulting in 17 US servicemen killed and 39 wounded. All of these attacks resulted in 54 US deaths, 1081 US wounded, 246 non US deaths and 4372 non US wounded but the responses were timid at best and in the case of the USS Cole non-existent.

While these attacks continued to escalate and be ignored President Clinton strangely initiated the invasion of Kosovo in 1999 by forming a coalition but without gaining UN sanction after Yugoslavia (more commonly called Serbia) began to publicly do what they’d been doing in this Muslim dominated province for almost a decade. Could it be that President Clinton thought that the way to stop all the attacks on US targets by Muslim extremists would be to invade a Christian Orthodox country that was committing a mini-genocide on its minority Muslim population? What did the extremist world hear when President Clinton chose not to strike back effectively after the various attacks on US personnel and property during the 1990:s I believe they were emboldened by President Clintons perceived inaction and with each attack got closer to the Homeland. His attempt to gain favour with moderate Muslim states, hoping they’d solve his problems with Al Qaeda and other radical Muslim based terrorist organizations was naive at best and ignorant at worst and in either case failed as the attempted Millennium bombing in Seatle and the attack on the USS Cole clearly show.

President G W Bush ran on a platform of withdrawing US forces from the Balkans and not being nation builders. He focused on issues such as heath care reform, education reform and after the nastiness of the President Clinton impeachment process healing the divided nation and political system by bringing better family values to the oval office. The world saw an international light weight as the networks focused on his inability to properly pronounce world leaders names and then the election results were so close resulting in a legal challenge which translated into a the swearing in of a US President who’s legitimacy was questioned by many. What the terrorists heard was America’s divided and it’s time to move forward with our plan to attack them at home. The terrorists believed that much like President Clinton’s hesitancy to strike back due to domestic problems President Bush would be afraid to use too much power and further alienate his standing as a truly elected president. True to his word during his first seven months in office President Bush focused on education and touted the no child left behind bill and trying to keep his word to focus on uniting vice being a divider he proudly shared the spotlight of this bill with his arch rival, Senator Edward Kennedy. It can be argued that his administration wasn’t focused on the growing threat instead focusing on not alienating the country any further by reaching outside its comfort zone.

The terrorists were planning and had in fact been given the green light by bin Laden after the successful USS Cole attack to speed up the timetable to attack the American Homeland directly by hijacking up to 5 commercial airliners (the original plan called for up to 10 planes to be used in waves) and flying them into symbols of America’s power and command and control facilities including the Pentagon, US Capitol Building and White House. Due to some early arrests on non 9-11 related charges in Pakistan and failures in flight training the plan was modified slightly to use only four planes.

Well we all know what happened on 9-11 and afterward and the afterward is for another essay but really the reason I wrote this was to answer the question when did we become perceived as weak and my answer is we clearly began our decline towards weakness during the Korean War. It’s certainly hard to imagine President Franklin D. Roosevelt saying D-Day was a disaster due to the horrendous casualties which occurred on the morning of 06 June 1944 thereby firing General Eisenhower and pulling US troops out of the war or saying after the break out from Normandy the war will be over by a date certain and if it’s not we will draw down our forces because the French must learn to stand on there own. I can’t imagine after the Battle of the Bulge offensive began when the war was supposedly won Congress and the media telling President Roosevelt his policies were failures and that his failures were causing more fascists to take up arms against America.

There is obviously plenty of blame to go around for why and how 9-11 occurred but for once let’s not look at ourselves to try and figure this out by pointing figures at this President or that one but let’s look at how the terrorists perceive us, our media, our government, our Presidents and their actions. While the minutia of our politics and the freedom of our press may allow us to be who we are it also presents are enemies with an opportunity.

Remember they see in-action or perceived division within the country as a chance to plan and prepare, they see withdrawal for any reasonable reason as victory and they see negotiation compassion and compromise as weakness. Until we understand that they don’t think like we do then we will continue to lose and will continue to be attacked both abroad and at home. The proof is in the history if only American’s will take the time to read and understand it from another perspective.