December 30, 2008

Israel must be brave it is now or never – Crush Hamas

… Within minutes of the first Israeli air strike, the Arabs were screaming "massacre" and the media had all but forgotten the serial assaults that provoked it … Michael B. Oren

For quite some time Palestinian TERROR GROUP Hamas has been shelling Israeli cities, more recently, in the week preceding Israel's present military operation, hundreds of rockets have pounded the Southern part of the country, terrorizing its population. Operation Cast Lead, which has been in the planning for months was finally activated last Saturday destroying dozens of military and police targets, camps and crude weapons facilities. Now as the worlds media rallies to the Hamas cause we have arrived at a critical juncture for Israeli political resolve. To finally rid us of the scourge that is, Hamas. With this in mind, the American-Israeli scholar, historian and author Michael B. Oren reflects my feelings in terms of the initial media coverage, but more so, the question of whether Israel will finally end, “its painful chronicle of indecision on Gaza”:

Crush Hamas and brave the Backlash - CNN International's coverage of the weekend's fighting in Gaza concluded with a rush of images: mangled civilians writhing in the rubble, primitive hospitals overflowing with the wounded, fireballs mushrooming between apartment complexes, the funeral of a Palestinian child. Missing from the montage, however, was even a fleeting glimpse of the tens of thousands of Israelis who spent last night and much of last week in bomb shelters; of the house in Netivot, where a man was killed by a Grad missile; or indeed any of the hundreds of rockets, mortar shells, and other projectiles fired by Hamas since the breakdown of the so-called ceasefire. This was CNN at its unprincipled worst, grossly skewering its coverage of a complex event and deceiving its viewers … Nobody seems to know how long Israel's operation will last or the criteria for deeming it successful. No Israeli leader, whether from Kadima, Labor or Likud, has articulated a clear vision for Israel's relationship with the obstreperous Strip.
Either way, Israel will never win the any popularity contest in the West, it may as well “brave the backlash” and go all the way with the current operation, noting too, that in loose terms, Israel is presently fighting our war on terror. We shall wait and see if the more hawkish types within the political apparatus have the final say - step up, Tizipi Livini and Ehud Barak.

Update:

Netanyahu is correct, only regime change will bring an end to to threat ...
Our goal should be twofold - stopping the attacks on our cities and eliminating the threat of rocket attacks from the Gaza Strip…Stopping the attacks can be done within a short period of time, while eliminating the threat of rocket attacks from Gaza will entail toppling the Hamas rule over the Strip and uprooting the Iranian base there. >> more

December 28, 2008

Obama’s Christmas visit to the Marine Corps is a positive...

Obama got this right but ...


Obama went to Marine Corps Base Hawaii Kaneohe Bay on Oahu where he mingled with Marines and sailors. Obama and the troops had a traditional dinner including turkey, roast beef, ham and trimmings. The future Commander in Chief spent an hour at the base, going from table to table shaking as many hands as he could.

Obama settles into military role wrote Reuters; quite frankly I’m not willing to go that far however, it’s my gut feeling that the visit was sincere.

As Hugh Hewitt said here:

a fine gesture of appreciation for the military he will soon be leading ...

Stephan Tawney made an interesting comment about the visit:

Respectful as is expected, but absent the usual clapping and cheering one comes to expect. Sometimes silence can be louder than words.

Obama got this right, he is the next President and Commander in Chief, and this in itself denotes so much. It is our hope that in the context of this undertaking he too understands, just how much …

Related: I'm with Hugh on this one

December 25, 2008

Simply Merry Christmas

Sometimes we get so absorbed by our daily challenges and routines that we fail to understand, let alone appreciate our creators plan for us. This is most true at Christmas. In a rush to get it all done and dusted, meals planned prepared and cooked, presents sourced purchased and wrapped, in addition to the many trappings of modern day life (including those forces that compel us to link our identity to such trappings), it is all too easy to get distracted from the message that Christmas brings.

We are, in spite of everything celebrating the birth of Jesus, son of God. The birth of Jesus was a fulfillment of the prophecies of ages, and foretold, “The true light that gives light to every man was coming into the world.” (John 1:9).

Jesus was the one who saw it to establish a faith so powerful and mysterious, a faith based on the magic elixir of love. You see, Christmas is also a season of love, especially that love that we share with family, coming together to eat with those that mean the most, sharing a meal – a very human experience, remembering also, that the Eucharist is at the heart of our faith as Christians – the sacred meal.

Finally, let us not forget those servicemen and women who are defending our values in very dangerous places around the world.

Wishing all my readers and anyone else passing by, a very MERRY CHRISTMAS.

I intend visiting your blogs to wish same later in the day.

To American Interests readers of other faiths, it is hoped that this post merely serves to deepen your understanding of ours.

December 23, 2008

America’s wars and the next administration

By Jason Corley

Will Obama soon be forced to take ownership of America’s foreign wars just as Nixon did during Vietnam? Will the proposed troop surges in Afghanistan and the strategy to leave a sizable residual force in Iraq be seen as escalation and prolongation of the two wars by an Obama administration?

The long awaited decision on Iraqi troop withdrawal has all but ended. The Bush administration began hammering out SOFA agreements in the past months and the soon-to-be-arriving Obama administration added urgency to the process. The troop reduction will begin sometime in 2009 and is scheduled to be complete by 2010 or 2011. Of course, the unknown variables remain a huge part of the equation for the formula on success. If the security situation remains stable the withdrawal may go smoothly and according the plans hashed out by the U.S. and Iraq governments.

However, if the departure signals to the insurgency, believed to be somewhere between scattered and dormant, that they are back in business then obviously all bets are off and America will find itself in the fight for another round.

To those who expect a full withdrawal will be sorely disappointed. Roughly, a little more than a third of the troops are set to depart. Those are the troops serving in combat, frontline, roles in providing security for Iraq.

There will be an estimated 70,000 to 90,000 troops still remaining in Iraq. Withdrawal used in the language of the SOFA agreement is purposely misleading and leaves a large amount of leeway for both governments to remain flexible.

We may consider this phase two or the Iraqi project. The forces left in place will help provide for training, logistics, and security and to ensure that democracy has the opportunity to take root and blossom. Furthermore, Iraqi has always been a bold longterm project. Their government has ambitions in becoming a prosperous, powerful and free nation. Nuclear ambitions are not out of the question, though, it is doubtful if it would mean anything other than peaceful purposes. These goals take time and it takes security for the infant democracy to grow. Americans can expect a longterm presence in Iraq with tens-of-thousands of troops scattered in various bases around the country.

This will undoubtedly come as a disappointment to some Americans who expected and rather naively believed that U.S. troop presence would vanish 16-months into the new Obama administration. It also may cause a backlash to Obama in Iraq itself. Since violence has been reduced, but likely to continue on some scale, a lot of Iraqis are expecting the presence of the U.S. to be gone soon.

It will be interesting to see what agreements and decisions will be made on Iraq after January 20, 2009.

In the meantime, we can judge for ourselves what the new Obama administration plans to do in Afghanistan. Admiral Mike Mullen announced that the Pentagon could double the existing forces there by 20,000 – 30,000 troops bringing the total up to 60,000. This comes on the heels of the report that showed this year was the deadliest for U.S. troops in Afghanistan since the invasion in 2001. Admiral Mullen also stated, the 31,000 troops already in place were plenty combat efficient but more troops were needed to control and pacify the territory that had been cleared of Taliban.

President-elect Obama stated several times throughout this campaign that more focuse was needed in Afghanistan and called for additional troops in the country. It appears that the Pentagon has announced an important piece of Obama’s early foreign policy initiatives and gives a good indication on what America, and the world, can expect from America’s military and goals in the Mid East.

The biggest questions are these: will the additional troops simply come from the ones pulled out of Iraq? Will Obama trade one war for another? And by doing so, does he inherent both wars especially by escalating forces in Afghanistan and leaving a sizable force in Iraq? Does he risk spreading the military too thin by committing to Afghanistan while Iraq is still susceptible to homegrown terror?

President-elect Obama may find himself in the same shoes that Nixon was forced to try on. He inherited an unpopular war on January 20, 1969, that America stumbled into under Kennedy and was woefully mismanaged by Johnson. Nixon withdrew forces, but because of reality it was not quick enough, and the death count was still too high for America to stomach in war that most did not understand. President Nixon called for devastating bombing campaigns along with renewed ground campaigns that sent the enemy finally reeling but was accused of escalation by doing so. Eventually his bold actions led America out of Vietnam but not before he was forced to assume ownership of the same war he campaigned against and was elected to halt.

This post was written by Jason Corley a student of history and politics, believer in American exceptionalism and one with a keen interest in human events and world affairs.

I believe in American exceptionalism not because Americans are inherently exceptional from any other group of peoples, but it is because of the institutions and values that govern our nation that truly are. The only way to confront the inevitable challenges that await us are to draw on our very best and overcome any obstacle or any foe for the betterment of mankind as the countless generations before us have. It is up to the West not to forget the things that have made them the trend setters and leaders of the world. If that should happen, then that is the final step towards declination.
Jason recently launched a new blog, The Western Experience - A Journal on Human Events, Western Culture and American Power. We wish him well ...

December 21, 2008

American Might is not going anywhere ...

... U.S Declinism theories are nothing new. In 1970, Andrew Hacker a political scientist published a book entitled, The end of the American Era where he confidently predicted American decline citing poor fiscal policies, excessive individualism, and imperial overstretch. Sound familiar?

One of our favorite writers on matters geopolitics makes the point that the U.S. is far from a bygone nation in military terms. Robert Kaplan addresses the ongoing debate about America’s hypothetical international decline with a first-rate analysis.

Declinism is in the air. The latest conventional wisdom is that the combination of the disastrous Iraq war, the military and economic rise of Asia, and the steep recession in the West has chastened America, ending its period of dominance in world affairs. It is time for us to be humble.

There is a lot of truth to this, but it goes too far. For decline itself -- as a concept -- is overrated. Britain's Royal Navy went into relative decline beginning in the 1890s, even as Great Britain remained powerful enough to help save the West in two world wars over the next half-century.

The proper analogy may be the Indian Mutiny in 1857 and 1858, after the orientalists and other pragmatists in the British power structure, who wanted to leave traditional India as it was, lost sway to Evangelical and Utilitarian reformers who wanted to more forcefully Christianize India -- to make it in a values sense more like England. The reformers were good people: They helped abolish the slave trade and tried to do the same with the hideous practice of widow-burning. But their attempts to bring the fruits of Western civilization, virtuous as they were, to a far-off corner of the world played a role in a violent revolt against imperial authority.

Yet the debacle did not signal the end of the British Empire, which expanded for nearly another century. Rather, it signaled a transition away from an ad hoc imperium fired occasionally by an ill-disciplined lust to impose its values abroad -- and to a calmer, more pragmatic and soldiering empire built on trade, education and technology.

That is akin to where we are now, post-Iraq: calmer, more pragmatic and with a military -- especially a Navy -- that, while in relative decline, is still far superior to any other on Earth. Near the end of the Cold War, the U.S. Navy had almost 600 ships; it is down to 280. But in aggregate tonnage that is still more than the next 17 navies combined. Our military secures the global commons to the benefit of all nations. Without the U.S. Navy, the seas would be unsafe for merchant shipping, which, in an era of globalization, accounts for 90 percent of world trade. We may not be able to control events on land in the Middle East, but our Navy and Air Force control all entry and exit points to the region. The multinational anti-piracy patrols that have taken shape in the Strait of Malacca and the Gulf of Aden have done so under the aegis of the U.S. Navy. Sure the economic crisis will affect shipbuilding, meaning the decline in the number of our ships will continue, and there will come a point where quantity affects quality. But this will be an exceedingly gradual transition, which we will assuage by leveraging naval allies such as India and Japan …

In sum, we may no longer be at Charles Krauthammer's "Unipolar Moment," but neither have we become Sweden.

Kaplan concludes

Yet American hegemony post-Iraq will be as changed as Britain's was after the Indian Mutiny. It will be a more benign and temperate version of what transpired in recent years. Henceforth, we will shape coalitions rather than act on our own. For that, after all, is theessence of a long and elegant decline: to pass responsibility on to like-minded others as their own capacities rise.

Robert D. Kaplan is a national correspondent for the Atlantic and a senior fellow at the Center for a New American Security.

Read the whole piece here

As I have said many times over, American hegemony may be in a period of recalibration but it is far from over. This is especially so in a military gist. Moreover, even if something truly extraordinary came long to challenge it, like times past, America will rise to the challenge and for this, we should be pleased. No, U.S Declinism theories are nothing new. In 1970, Andrew Hacker a political scientist published a book entitled, “The end of the American Era where he confidently predicted American decline citing poor fiscal policies, excessive individualism, and imperial overstretch. Sound familiar?

See also

U.S Declinism Theories – nothing new

America will remain Strong

December 18, 2008

Nuclear Iran: Robert Bolton gets candid

... We are going to have to deal with a nuclear Iran … We have lost this race ...

Robert Bolton is not one to mix his words. The former U.S. representative to the U.N. link and intermittent think tank appointee - including JINSA, AEI, and PNAC - was brutally honest at a AEI event held a couple of Tuesdays ago on the question of Iran going nuclear saying, “We are going to have to deal with a nuclear Iran … We have lost this race”.

In so saying, Bolton -- among the hawkiest of hawks from the now neoconservative-movement-in-exile -- broke ranks with many of his neocon colleagues. Most of them haven't given up on stopping Iran, as evidenced by a raft of new reports from neocon-linked think-tank’s. In addition, they're busily calling for stepped-up sanctions, making bellicose threats, and warning of military action by the United States and Israel. But Bolton is folding his cards.

Too late for sanctions

According to Bolton, the idea that Iran can be deterred from going forward by applying economic sanctions won't work. Had it been tried earlier, he said, it might had an impact. "Sanctions could have dissuaded Iran," he said. "But that time is past." Europe doesn't have the will to impose tough sanctions, he said. He lamented his encounters with the German ambassador to the United Nations, during Bolton's tenure as US ambassador there, and he said that the Germans and other European countries won't take action to cut off their lucrative trade with Tehran.

No chance of military force

Bolton also said that neither the United States nor Israel will attack Iran to stop its nuclear program. "Neither one is willing to use military force," he said. Bolton said that until recently he believed that there was a small chance that Israel, on its own, might attack Iran before January 20, when Barack Obama becomes president. But Israel is mired in political confusion in advance of its coming elections, and there is no political will in Israel to go to war against Iran, he said. Bolton also said that the likelihood of a US attack on Iran under Obama is nil. "Under an Obama administration, that possibility is essentially zero," he said. "After January 20, the chances are zero.

We are therefore left with an unappealing question; can we live with a nuclear Iran? Michael Rubin thinks not:

It may be comforting to Abizaid, Mullen, and the electorate to believe that the United States can deter or contain Tehran's worst ambitions, but absent any preparation to do so, Washington is instead signaling that the Islamic Republic has a green light to claim regional dominance and, at worst, carry out its threats to annihilate Israel. At the same time, absent any effort to lay the groundwork either for containment or deterrence, Washington is signaling to its allies in the region that they are on their own and that the U.S. commitment to protect them is empty. Arab states and Iran's other neighbors may calculate that they have no choice but to make greater accommodation to Tehran's interests. Should Israeli officials believe that the West will stand aside as Iran achieves nuclear capability and that a nuclear Islamic Republic poses an existential threat to the Jewish state, they may conclude that they have no choice but to launch a preemptive military strike--an event that could quickly lead to a regional conflagration from which the United States would have difficulty remaining aloof.

I cannot think of any peaceful instrument that is likely to dissuade Iran from pursuing its nuclear ambitions aside perhaps from providing only improvements of a secondary or marginal nature. A multipolar nuclear Middle East is hardly in the West’s and above all, in America’s interests. Looking ahead, any efforts to contain a nuclear Iran would pose significant challenges in light of both the Islamic Republics inherent nature, its continuing support for terrorism and present regional political order. Aside from the military question, the U.S. will be severely tested as it attempts to manage the instability and insecurity fashioned by a nuclear Iran. By fashioned we mean actual security threats such as terror and subversion, limited military operations under the protection of an Iranian nuclear umbrella and lord forbid, the actual use of nuclear weapons. As hideous as this sounds, and notwithstanding major developments beforehand, Iran may soon become part of the international engine room for the design of a new regional architecture in the Persian Gulf and Southern Asia. Unquestionably, any hopes that Operation Iraqi Freedom would result in the U.S. building on its military success by establishing new regional security architecture actually capable of generating stability have long passed.

Related: Iran: The penultimate step is now within sight

December 13, 2008

Special Forces deal a blow on Taliban in Afghanistan

We will find you. We will hunt you down. Your time is limited.
Australian Special Operations Commander, Major-General Tim McOwan in a rare briefing, summarising 524 days of combat since the special forces returned to Oruzgan province.

Running contrary to the usual news coming out of Afghanistan; that of for example, a resurgent Taliban, and strikes on military convoys, it was pleasing to finally read some good news in our fight against the common enemy.

AUSTRALIAN Special Forces operating deep inside Taliban heartland in southern Afghanistan have inflicted critical damage to the insurgents senior leadership severely restricting their ability to launch offensive action, the army's head of special operations said today … adding, “Australian forces operating deep inside Afghanistan have inflicted critical damage to the Taliban's leadership”.


In a rare briefing to the media summarising 524 days of combat action since the special forces returned to fight in Oruzgan, Major-General Tim McOwan, pledged no let-up in the brutal counter-insurgency despite the onset of a harsh Afghan winter.

And he had this Christmas Message for the Taliban: “We will find you. We will hunt you down. Your time is limited.”

Elite Special Air Service operatives and Commandos operating in some of the most gruelling conditions ever encountered had killed four senior Taliban leaders, captured seven others including one, Ahmad Shah, in his bed.

Another 180 lower ranking insurgents had been captured and handed over to Afghan authorities, Maj-Gen McOwan said.

“These are all key middle- to high-level Taliban leaders or IED (bomb makers) facilitators operating in or around Oruzgan province.

“These are individuals who are or have been involved in killing innocents and actively trying to kill coalition troops.

“These are successes not just for the SOTG (Special Operations Task Group) but for the hard-working poor civilians of Afghanistan and for the fledgling democracy itself,” he said.

For the first time, Maj-Gen McOwan revealed that in early October special forces killed a high-level Taliban commander, Mullah Korullah Shakir, implicated in bomb manufacturing and attacks on Afghan civilian and coalition troops.

“We know that the loss of these individuals has had a dramatic impact on the resilience of these Taliban networks,” he said.

Major-General Tim McOwan also described the efforts of one very brave soldier.

AN Australian soldier dashed 80 metres across ground raked by Taliban machine-gun fire to rescue a severely wounded Afghan interpreter. In the same clash in Afghanistan's dangerous Oruzgan province, another soldier used his own body to shield a wounded comrade from enemy fire. >> more

Regrettably, NATO backed forces in Afghanistan remain “woefully under-strength” and, as the U.S., who presently has some 31,000 troops in the county, acts to bolster numbers, it becomes only “just” that NATO recommits to the cause. In the interim, and given that US military planners estimate 500,000 troops, including newly trained Afghan National Army soldiers, are needed to secure the country, I expect Australia will soon be asked to put even more boots on the ground in Afghanistan.

Related: Australian Special Air Service Regiment (SAS): Strengthening the Alliance

December 7, 2008

American Interests remembers Pearl Harbor

To be prepared for war is one of the most effectual means of preserving peace.
George Washington


In two short minutes over 2,000 men lost their lives and many more died later as the Japanese attacked Midway, Thailand, Singapore, and Hong Kong. By day’s end, the damage done; 2,335 dead service members, 1,178 wounded, 640 unaccounted for, 48 civilians killed. 188 planes had been destroyed and 18 ships of different sizes had been sunk or damaged, including 8 damaged or destroyed battleships. Said President Roosevelt, "a date which will live in infamy...", Pearl Harbor thrust the United states of America into a contest of epic proportion, galvanizing as it were, American resolve - that celebrated spirit that could only end in victory.

With global expectations mounting for a fresh start in US foreign policy, it is imperative to both remember, and comprehend the attack on Pearl Harbor.


DECEMBER 7th, 1941 - TIMELINE PEARL HARBOR

0342 - The minesweeper CONDOR sights a periscope off Honolulu Harbor and notifies the patrol destroyer WARD to investigate.

0458 - The minesweeper CROSSBILL and CONDOR enter Pearl Harbor. The defective submarine net remains open.

0600 - 200 miles south of Oahu the carrier ENTERPRISE launches 18 aircraft to scout ahead, then to land at Ford Island, Pearl Harbor. Estimated Time Arrival (ETA) 0800.

0610 - 220 miles north of Oahu, Admiral Nagumo orders the launching of the first wave of 183 aircraft off six carriers. Two are lost during takeoff.

0630 - The destroyer WARD is again notified of a submarine sighting, this time by the supply ship ANTARES off the entrance to Pearl Harbor. A PBY (a Navy patrol plane) is dispatched to the scene.

0645 - WARD opens fire on the submarine, hitting the conning tower and dropping depth charges as she closes in. An air attack by the PBY follows.

0653 - WARD'S commander Captain Outerbridge sends a message to the Commandant of the 14th Naval District: "We have attacked, fired upon and dropped depth charges upon submarine operating in defensive sea area."

0700 - Flying towards Oahu, Commander Fuchida directs his pilots to home in on local radio station.

0702 - Privates Lockhard and Elliott of Opana Radar Station pick up what appears to be a flight of unidentified aircraft bearing in 132 miles north of Oahu. Discussion follows.

0710 - Elliott phones the information in to Fort Shafter. The only person present at the Information Center is Lt. Tyler, having begun his on-the-job training Dec. 3. The conversation lasts ten minutes.

0715 - Capt. Outerbridge's attack message, delayed in decoding, is delivered to the duty officer, 14th Naval District, and to Admiral Kimmel's duty officer. The Japanese launch the second wave of 168 assault aircraft.

0720 - Lt. Tyler feels certain that the unidentified planes are B-17s scheduled to arrive from the mainland and instructs Opana station to shut down. Privates Elliott and Lockhard, however, continue to plot the incoming flight.

0733 - An important message from Washington from Gen Marshall to Short is received via RCA in Honolulu but the cablegram has no indication of priority. Messenger Tadao Fuchikami proceeds on normal route.

0735 - A reconnaissance plane from the cruiser CHIKUMA reports that the main fleet is in Pearl Harbor.

0739 - Opana Station loses the aircraft on radar 20 miles off the coast of Oahu due to the "dead zone" caused by the surrounding hills.

0740 - The first wave sights the North Shore of Oahu and deployment for the attack begins.

0749 - Commander Fuchida orders the attack: all pilots are to begin the assault on military bases on Oahu.

0753 - Fuchida radios the code to the entire Japanese Navy "TORA! TORA! TORA!" (Tiger! Tiger! Tiger!) Indicating success: maximum strategic surprise... Pearl Harbor caught unaware. The first Japanese assault wave commences.

ATTACK ERUPTS AT PEARL HARBOR

0755 - 51 Val dive-bombers, 40 Kate torpedo bombers, 50 high level bombers and 43 Zero fighters begin the island-wide attack. Japanese dive-bombers strike airfields Kaneohe, Ford Island, Hickam, Bellows, Wheeler, and Ewa. Aerial torpedo planes begin their run on ships in Pearl Harbor. Along Battleship Row, Battlewagons feel the sting of the newly perfected torpedoes specifically designed for the shallow waters of Pearl Harbor. At 1010 dock violent explosions rock the light cruiser HELENA on her starboard side crippling both her and minelayer OGLALA moored beside her.

On the other side of Battleship Row, Ford Island, the target ship UTAH also feels the sting of the torpedoes, and, like the battleship OKLAHOMA, begins to capsize. The light cruiser RALEIGH, moored ahead of the UTAH, takes measures to prevent capsizing. Commander Logan Ramsey of Ford Island Command Center sends out a message for all radiomen on duty to send out in plain English: "AIR RAID PEARL HARBOR THIS IS NO DRILL!" A second dispatch orders all patrol planes to seek out the enemy. Simultaneously, the call for General Quarters echoes throughout Pearl Harbor. Each ship and their personnel in turn swing into action against the attacking Japanese, one quarter of all guns responding to the enemy.

0800 - B-17's from the mainland reach Oahu after a 14-hour flight, and aircraft from the carrier ENTERPRISE reach Ford Island. Both are caught between enemy and friendly fire.

0802 - Machine guns on the battleship NEVADA open fire on torpedo planes approaching her port beam. Two planes are hit. However, one missile tears a huge hole in the ship's port bow.

0805 - The repair ship VESTAL, moored outboard of battleship ARIZONA, opens fire. Admiral Kimmel arrives at CINCPAC headquarters. The battleship CALIFORNIA receives a second torpedo "portside at frame 110"; prompt action directed by Ensign Edgar M. Fain prevents the ship from capsizing. High-level bombers begin their run on Battleship Row.

0808 - KGMB radio interrupts music calling for: "All Army, Navy, and Marine personnel to report to duty." High-level bombers unleash armor-piercing, delayed-action bombs from an altitude of 10,000 feet, scoring hits on battleships.

0810 - A 1,760 pound air bomb penetrates into the forward magazine of the USS ARIZONA resulting in a tremendous explosion and huge fireball, sinking the battleship within nine minutes. The concussion of the explosion blows men off the repair ship VESTAL... 1,104 men aboard the USS ARIZONA battleship are killed.

0812 - General Short advises the entire Pacific Fleet and Washington, "Hostilities with Japan commenced with air raid on Pearl Harbor."

0815 - KGMB interrupts music with the second call ordering all military personnel to report for duty.

0817 - USS HELM, the first of several destroyers to clear Pearl Harbor, spots a midget submarine struggling to enter the harbor but shots fired miss the target. The sub frees itself from the reef and submerges.

0825 - Using a Browning Automatic Rifle, Lt. Stephen Saltzman and Sgt. Lowell Klatt shoot down an enemy plane making a strafing run on Schofield Barracks.

0826 - The Honolulu Fire Department responds to a call for assistance from Hickam Field. Three firemen are killed and six are wounded.

0830 - The third call goes out for the military via local radio stations.

0835 - The tanker NEOSHO, half-loaded with high-octane aviation fuel, moves clear of Battleship Row and oil tanks on Ford Island. Damage is reported in the city. Police warn civilians to leave the streets and return to their homes.

0839 - The seaplane tender CURTISS sights a midget sub in the harbor and commences fire while the destroyer MONAGHAN heads for the intruder at ramming speed.

0840 - The submarine surfaces after sustaining damage. MONAGHAN hits the sub and drops depth charges as she passes. First explanation over local radio stations: "A sporadic air attack... rising sun sighted on wing tips..."

0850 - Lt. Commander Shimazaki orders the deployment of the second wave over military bases on Oahu.

0854 - Attack run begins: 54 high-level bombers hit Naval air stations, 78 dive bombers hit ships in Pearl, 36 fighters circle over harbor to maintain air control.

0900 - The crew of the Dutch liner JAGERSFONTEIN opens up with her guns, the first Allies to join the fight. Radios throughout the island crack out urgent messages: "Get off roads and stay off, Don't block traffic...Stay at home...This is the real McCoy!"

0930 - Tremendous explosions rock the destroyer SHAW sending debris everywhere. A bomb falls near Hawaii Governor Poindexter's home... The Americans are taken completely by surprise. The first attack wave targets airfields and battleships. The second wave targets other ships and shipyard facilities. The air raid lasts until 9:45 a.m. Eight battleships are damaged, and five are sunk. Three light cruisers, three destroyers and three smaller vessels are lost along with 188 aircraft. The Japanese lose 27 planes and five midget submarines which attempted to penetrate the inner harbor and launch torpedoes. Escaping damage from the attack are the prime targets, the three U.S. Pacific Fleet aircraft carriers, LEXINGTON, ENTERPRISE and SARATOGA which were not in port. Also escaping damage are the base fuel tanks.

1000 - The first wave arrives back on carriers, 190 miles north of Oahu.

1005 - Governor Poindexter calls local papers announcing a state of emergency for the entire Territory of Hawaii.

1030 - The Mayor's Major Disaster Council meets at city hall. Reports from local hospitals pour in listing civilian casualties.

1100 - Commander Fuchida circles over Pearl Harbor, assesses damage then returns to carrier task force. News of the "sneak attack" is broadcast to the American public via radio bulletins, with many popular Sunday afternoon entertainment programs being interrupted. All schools on Oahu are ordered to close.

1115 - A State of Emergency is announced over the radio by the Governor 1142 - Local stations go off the air as per orders by the Army. General Short confers with the Governor regarding martial law.

1146 - The first report of many false sightings of enemy troops landing on Oahu is received. In Washington, the last part of the Japanese message, stating that diplomatic relations with the U.S. are to be severed, is decoded at approximately 9 a.m. About an hour later another Japanese message is intercepted. It instructs the Japanese embassy to deliver the main message to the Americans at 1 p.m. The Americans realize this time corresponds with early morning in Pearl Harbor, which is several hours behind. The U.S. War Department then sends out an alert but uses commercial telegraph because radio contact with Hawaii is broken. Delay results in the alert arriving at headquarters in Oahu around noon time (Hawaii time) four hours after the attack has already begun.

1210 - U.S. planes fly north in a search for the enemy with negative results.

1230 - Honolulu police raid the Japanese embassy and find them burning documents. A blackout to begin at night is ordered by the Army.

1240 - Governor confers with President Roosevelt regarding martial law; both agree it necessary that the military take over the civilian government.

1300 - Commander Fuchida lands on board the carrier AKAGI. Discussion follows with Admiral Nagumo and staff concerning the feasibility of launching a third wave.

1330 - Signal flags on the carrier AKAGI orders the Japanese task force to withdraw. The territorial director of civil defense orders a blackout every night until further notice.

1458 - Tadao Fuchikami delivers a message from Washington regarding the ultimatum from Japan to be given at 1300 Washington time, which is decoded and given to General Short. "Just what significance the hour set may have we do not know, but be on the alert accordingly."

1625 - Governor Poindexter signs a Proclamation declaring martial law to be put into effect.
The news of the attack on Pearl Harbor with it's catastrophic losses of men and materiel sends a shockwave across the nation and results in a tremendous influx of young volunteers into the U.S. armed forces. The attack also unites the nation behind the president and effectively ends isolationist sentiments in the country.

December 8 - The United States and Britain declare war on Japan with President Roosevelt calling December 7, "a date which will live in infamy..."

December 11 - Germany and Italy declare war on the United States.

December 16 - Both senior commanders at Pearl Harbor; Navy Admiral, Husband E. Kimmel and Army Lt. General, Walter C. Short, are relieved of their commands and reverted to their permanent, two-star ranks. Subsequent investigations will charge the men with dereliction of duty for failing to adopt adequate defense measures prior to the attack.

December 17 - Chester W. Nimitz succeeds Kimmel in command of the Pacific Fleet and General Delos Emmons replaces Short as the new military governor of Hawaii.

See also: Peace Comes Through Strength

Pentagon Cyber Attack

"... By my reckoning, if this reflects what the Chinese can do, one can only wonder at what the U.S. could achieve ..."

Several weeks later, more details and implications are emerging about the worm. What worm you ask? Curious is it not, what makes news and what does not, an interesting observation first made here. While MSM views it as a non- starter, last week the issue was serious enough to warrant a briefing for President Bush and Secretary Gates from Mike Mullen, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

Admittedly, Fox News touched on the attack late last month when it reported on the Defense departments ban on the use of external hardware devices throughout a vast network of military computers allegedly, after a U.S. Navy staff member lost classified information from a computer after inserting a flash drive infected with the global virus. Later, an unspecified Navy admiral described the virus as a worm that was spreading rapidly within military computer networks. Toward end of month, the LA Times cottoned on, reporting that the cyber attack, which was thought to be of Russian or Chinese origin, was hitting combat zone computers and the U.S. Central Command overseeing Iraq and Afghanistan. By now, officials were finally acknowledging that the attack was both widespread and severe.

The culprit is the Worm:W32/Agent.BTZ virus, a particularly nasty form of malware which has prompted Pentagon officials to confiscate all flash drives and DVD’s to contain its spread. Being a worm it replicates itself, thus if its present in a memory card of a portable device it will infect any computer to which you upload data. Of concern now, is that American soldiers often rely on memory sticks to cart essential data between computers.

Defense Department officials acknowledged that the worldwide ban on external drives was a drastic move. Such drives are used constantly in Iraq and Afghanistan, and many officers keep flash drives loaded with critical information on lanyards around their necks … Officials would not describe the exact threat from agent.btz, or say whether it can shut down computers or steal information. Some computer experts have reported that agent.btz can allow an attacker to take control of a computer remotely and to take files and other information from it. >>more
Notwithstanding the seriousness of the attack, we should not get carried away with notions of Russian or Chinese cyber operations capabilities which some say are so sophisticated that the U.S. is powerless to counter or detect, hence ...

Since China’s current cyber operations capability is so advanced, it can engage in forms of cyberwarfare so sophisticated that the United States may be unable to counteract or even detect the efforts,” the commission said.

It said Chinese hacker groups may be operating with government support.

"By some estimates, there are 250 hacker groups in China that are tolerated and may even be encouraged by the government to enter and disrupt computer networks,” the commission said.

It quoted Col. Gary McAlum, chief of staff for the U.S. Strategic Command’s Joint Task Force for Global Network Operations, as saying China has recognized the importance of cyber operations as a tool of warfare and “has the intent and capability to conduct cyber operations anywhere in the world at any time.”

"China is aggressively pursuing cyberwarfare capabilities that may provide it with an asymmetric advantage against the United States,” the commission said. “In a conflict situation, this advantage would reduce current U.S. conventional military dominance.”
I'm not convinced that Chinese cyber attacks may reduce, "current U.S. conventional military dominance” during periods of conflict. By my reckoning, if this reflects what the Chinese can do, one can only wonder at what the U.S. could achieve if it engaged an enemy, any enemy, with cyber warfare. If the Chinese were smart, they may want to add carrier pigeons to their communications back up plans.

December 3, 2008

China under Obama: An Interview with Otto Marasco

Transcript
27 November 2008
07:45PM

E & OE

Subject: China and Obama

LISA MOLINARO: Joining me today is Otto Marasco who is the owner and author of the blog, American Interests and in the short time, we have left, we are asking about China in relation to America under Obama’s Presidency. Otto, on the question of China during the recent Presidential campaigning, we felt that the subject was a non-starter; does it mean that China will figure less in the new administration?

OTTO: Well, I had expected China to be a bigger issue that it was during the campaign especially given the concerns many Americans have over the impact of Globalization, and its impact on their economy, and perhaps this could have evolved into more debate about trade and investment issues in relation to both nations, not to mention China’s arms buildup. As I saw it, there was little of that, certainly hardly as much as I would have thought, however I do believe the odds are overwhelming that there will be essentially continuity in American policy toward China. On that very question, I would recommend that in fact, it does stay the course in terms of overall strategy toward China, but I think it important that Obama also engage with Chinese leaders early in the new administration, having said that I am not suggesting that Obama should personally visit; I don’t see that as a necessity. Now with APEC having just concluded in Peru, I think and would hope, that plans are made by senior U.S. officials to visit China early in Obama’s first term, alternatively the upcoming G20, in 2009 may provide an opportunity.

LISA: Your thoughts on how Asia will receive Obama generally….

OTTO: Well I so think he will be embraced, which underlines the goodwill already in place for Obama but it also means that there are going to be very high expectations because like it or not, there are some big issues to be inherited. For example, Obama is not going to be able to get out of Iraq immediately, unless it’s achieved in an irresponsible manner and I cannot see that happen. Then we have Guantanamo, is he really going to close it, and if so, what is to be done with those that were detained there? Finally, and by way of example, the financial crises is being blamed on America, these are just some of the problems which won’t go away overnight, so given that expectations are high, Obama may be a casualty of such.

LISA: On other nations, turning away from America as their protector in favor of China and should that concern the Americans?

I am assuming you are talking about traditional American allies like us here in Australia, somehow gravitating toward China at America’s expense. Let me say this, nations like Australia will not in fact turn away from America and its protection or security shield anytime soon, if anything because of issues of compatibility in terms of values and way of life, so I don’t see it happening. America is sure to remain engaged in the region and while I also understand what was suggested in discussions prior to interview about somehow the Democrats being the party most interested in Atlantic issues whereas Republicans are conceived as being equally interested in the Pacific, still though, I feel certain that America will remain sufficiently engaged in the region under the Presidency of Obama. On the question of whether it would concern Washington, I feel it’s only logical that it would, but having said that, there is no evidence to suggest that it’s likely to occur.

LISA: We need to leave it there. Otto, thanks for your time today, maybe we can continue this another time.

OTTO: Feel free to ask, always available.

ENDS

Related Links:

APEC – Asia Pacific economic Cooperation
APEC Peru 2008
G20 Major Economies
China and the US Presidential Election
Hopes and fears about Obama in Asia
Asian American Reaction to the Presidential Election
Obama's South Asia challenges
Obama's Asia focus faces early scrutiny

November 30, 2008

Mumbai Terror: Scotland Yard lends assistance, plan was to kill 5000

As Scotland Yard detectives arrive in Mumbai, the latest news suggests terrorists had extensive training and were planning for months.


Devastation: Wrecked by explosions and fire, below is a picture of the Harbour Bar at the Taj Mahal Palace on Saturday. A few days ago it was one of India's finest venues, above. Now all that remains is a charred shell


The only terrorist captured alive after the Mumbai massacre has given police the first full account of the extraordinary events that led to it – revealing he was ordered to ‘kill until the last breath’. Azam Amir Kasab, 21, from Pakistan, said the attacks were meticulously planned six months ago and were intended to kill 5,000 people.

He revealed that the ten terrorists, who were highly trained in marine assault and crept into the city by boat, had planned to blow up the Taj Mahal Palace hotel after first executing British and American tourists and then taking hostages. Mercifully, the group, armed with plastic explosives, underestimated the strength of the105-year-old building’s solid foundations.

As it is, their deadly attacks have left close to 200 confirmed dead, with the toll expected to rise to nearly 300 once the hotel has been fully searched by security forces.

The news comes as it is also revealed that the terrorists were funded by British Mosques'

Read more here

Scroll down for further postings on Mumbai terror attacks

Mumbai Terror Analysis: Praiseworthy Linkage

Presented are links to three influential weblogs’ and a fine columnist, highlighting some of the more pertinent questions arising from the Mumbai attacks.

Via American Power: Mumbai and the Ideological Challenge to the West

Via Chesler Chronicles: The Thanksgiving Day Massacre in Mumbai

Via The Interpreter: Mumbai: Messages from the ruins

From Mark Steyn: Mumbai could happen just about anywhere

For the world’s decision makers, foreign policy experts, and military and strategic analysts Mumbai should serve as a wake up call that the traditional approach to terrorism needs reviewing. Though the attacks were localized, the terrorists successfully took hold of a major city and drew the world media attention to their message of hate. For terror cells aspiring to wreak more havoc for their own selfish reasons or, as aspirants of the al-Qa'ida cause, Mumbai may serve as a prototypical model for future terror strikes; precisely why local, regional, and international intelligence establishment cannot overlook ANY terror armies, whether resident, regional and/or internationally based.

November 29, 2008

Mumbai Terrorism Crises: Possible Sources, Implications and Questions raised ...

Greg Sheridan continues his analysis of the Mumbai attacks and the implications for the wider war on terror:

… The terrorist massacres in Mumbai this week are India's 9/11...

… They represent, too … a definitive merger of internal Indian conflicts with the global war on terror … they also represent a formal notice of combat to the American president-elect, Barack Obama ...

… The Indian military has let it be known that it believes the Pakistan-based Lashkar-e-Toiba … US intelligence, on the other hand, believes the attacks bear the unmistakable signs of al-Qa'ida.

… Pramit Chaudhuri, senior editor of the Hindustan Times and one of India's most brilliant and influential strategic analysts, outlines a different theory … telling local newspapers’ that the attack could have been a combined effort by LeT and al-Qa'ida ...

… Even if the Pakistani Government is not involved, its growing status as a failed state is evident in the home that regional terrorists have found in its lawless provinces … Al-Qa'ida now has more Pakistani and Afghan recruits than Arabs...

On a positive note, the Indian Government and “senior think tank figures and others have had a lot of communication from the Obama team in the past few days. This is a heartening sign because one of the strategic objectives of the terrorists was surely to harm India-US relations ...

There remain many unanswered questions. Why the focus on foreigners? Does it mean that the attacks were as much against the West and if so, what aspect of this? Our presence in Afghanistan, Iraq or both? Alternatively, was it in protest to India’s continuing alignment with Western allies? And in terms of likely sources, the tactics used are interesting for they are certainly different those used on urban India in the past. For example, we cannot help but think that the attackers set out to fight until the very end or at least, until captured otherwise why show their faces to media groups. Questioning of those seized will be highly revealing and generate much media hype which may be precisely what the architects of the attacks are hoping for.

We must be patient, in good time, we shall learn more...

November 28, 2008

Mumbai Terrorism Crises: Listen up President Obama

Despite everything you Americans have done, the terrorists are saying, we can still hit you. We can hit your friends in their economic heartlands, and we can ...

As news filters through that a BBC tycoon is listed amongst the victims The Australian's Greg Sheridan argues that the attacks send a strong message to Obama.

This is a devastating assault on India, its democracy, its way of life and its brilliant economy, all of which excite envy and hatred from Islamic extremists.

But it is also a message from Terror Central to US president-elect Barack Obama.

Despite everything you Americans have done, the terrorists are saying, we can still hit you. We can hit your friends in their economic heartlands, and we can hunt down your citizens in the commercial capitals of your friends.

Only last week, al-Qa'ida ideological boss Ayman al-Zawahiri issued a statement exhorting jihadists everywhere to continue hunting Americans and British.

These attacks, in which US and British passport-holders were singled out for individual murder - as well, apparently, as Jews - have the al-Qa'ida imprint.

They demonstrate once more the savage, sectarian nihilism of the terror movements. It will nonetheless take some time for the identity and the origins of the perpetrators of this terrorist atrocity to become clear. >> more
Via: The Australian

At the heart of the matter it's simply another case of Islamic radicals once again targeting Westerners. This is no ordinary part of India; Mumbai not merely chic but India’s financial center. Islamic fundamentalists have now targeted Western civilians in Bali, Tanzania, Kenya, Cairo, London, Madrid, New York City, and Washington D.C. Those foolishly hoping for abatement in the war on terror following Obama’s victory may be in for a surprise. Is it time we take the fight to the enemy? India is a major U.S. ally, a democracy that is well armed, will Europe and America act or stand on the sidelines and if it does, how will it act?

See also:

Bolt's view

This is the struggle Obama inherits, and it will not end until Islamists horrify enough fellow Muslims by their pointless slaughter - and until Bush's dream is fulfilled, and Muslim nations share our love for the freedom now under such savage attack in Mumbai.

Westerners feel the heat in Mumbai

But was this brazen killing also a deliberate attack on Westerners? The terrorists appeared to target foreigners. Horrified witnesses say the gunmen demanded British and American passports and then dragged off hostages. Israeli citizens have reportedly been singled out too. The gunmen struck popular tourist sites — five-star hotels, a cinema and a favourite restaurant for overseas visitors.

November 25, 2008

How wrong the war now that Iraq is better off…

Here is an uncommon argument in favor of the Iraq war presented in the most cannot be ignored, matter of fact terms. Avoided are any ideological and ethical nuances, as University of Chicago professor Eric Posner shows us that life has improved for many ordinary Iraqi’s since Saddams regime was toppled. According to Posner, many more would have died if Hussein had stayed in power.

... conditions have greatly improved in Iraq. Security and other services are returning; whether or not democracy lasts, dictatorial rule seems unlikely to recur. Oil revenues pour in. The economy, thanks in part to the high price of oil, is growing (or perhaps was, now that the price of oil is down). The majority of the country—Shiites and Kurds who suffered grievously under Saddam’s reign—have significant political power. It is likely that if the poll were conducted today, a majority would agree that an invasion—of their own country by a distrusted and now hated foreign power—was “right.

About one hundred thousand Iraqis have died as a result of the war; probably many more. Many others have been maimed, still others abused in various ways. Even with greatly increased political and (what has not been measured but is probably more significant) religious freedom, could these human costs be justified?

To answer this question, one needs to look at the counterfactual: how would Iraqis be doing if the war had not occurred. The status quo ante was one in which Saddam Hussein was in power but his power was constrained by a sanctions regime that had immiserated Iraq and indeed had killed many thousands of Iraqi children.

The sanctions regime, which began in 1990, destroyed Iraq’s economy (reducing GDP by as much as three quarters) and impoverished millions of Iraqis. Particular attention was given at the time to its effect on children. The contemporary critics of the sanctions pointed out that before the sanctions began, the child mortality rate was about 50 per 1000; during the sanctions, on one accounting the rate soared to about 128 per 1000 (click on "basic indicators" here). More conservative estimates
were in the range of a doubling of child mortality. Using the more conservative estimate, at one million births per year, this works out to an annual difference of 50,000 children surviving to the age of 5 (for various qualifications, see here). Today, the child mortality rate is below the pre-sanctions figure, and so every year in excess of 50,000 more Iraqi children survive than during the sanctions. The data are hotly contested but the trends are unmistakable and will continue to strengthen if security improves. Meanwhile, violent deaths of civilians, while still far too high, are declining; a very cautious estimate of 500-800 per month, based on the most recent reports on the Iraq Body Count website, is much lower than the avoided deaths of children compared to the sanctions regime. A conservative estimate is that more than 40,000 Iraqis survive per year today than during the sanctions regime, and probably most of them children. The tight correlation between GDP and child mortality across countries bolsters this conclusion.

Let’s suppose that the sanctions regime had continued for 10 years, from 2003 to 2013, and further that security flattens out—it doesn’t get worse, but it doesn’t get better. Under these assumptions, 400,000 Iraqi children would have died if the war had not occurred and the sanctions regime continued. Now, almost 100,000 Iraqis died during the war, and so one of the war’s benefits is that it saves the lives of 300,000 Iraqis (over 10 years).

The sanctions regime did not just kill children; it also killed adults, though no one knows how many. It also severely damaged Iraq’s economy, which had already been badly harmed by the Iran-Iraq war. The 2003 war damaged it even more, but now the economy is recovering. GDP per capita (PPP) in 2002 was about $2400; today it is about $3600. Everyone hears about how bad electricity is in Iraq, but that is news from Baghdad. For the country as a whole, there is more electricity generation today than there was prewar (see the Brookings report). If Iraq continues to recover, Iraqis will be a lot better off, financially, than they ever were, even taking into account the financial and physical hardships of the war years. And the recovery will benefit (and has benefited) the Kurds and Shiites in particular, who were badly treated during the Saddam regime, though the Kurds (not the Shiites) benefited from the (expensive) U.S. security umbrella and managed to enjoy some autonomy in the north.

Finally, the sanctions regime contained Saddam and protected the Kurds, but Saddam was still a dictator, and he tortured, murdered, and oppressed his own people. Shiites now have a chance to influence policy, for the first time in memory. Whether Iraq is really a democracy or not, its political system is clearly a lot healthier than it was under Saddam. Corruption is bad, but it was also bad under Saddam, and the middle east is filled with corrupt countries. >> more
Granted that Posner ethic would not be everyone’s” cup of tea” hence, is it right to kill one to save many, recall the words of the fictitious Spock, "The needs of the many, outweigh the needs of the few,...or the one".

In the interests of the greater good I believe such reasonong is valid.

For those interested in the Brookings Institution’s Iraq index on which Posner bases his case click here.

Update: Professor Eric Posner has made a correction to the original post. The poll referred to was not in the Brookings Report but in a CSIS report, see slides 113-14.

November 22, 2008

The Anti Americanism mindset

Confucius was right, “Ignorance is the night of the mind, but a night without moon and star”.

As I see it, a night clothed in a mistaken premise from which erroneous and foolhardy assertions are drawn. Consider a case in point, the London based alliance America in the World recently commissioned a study into anti Americanism in Britain, the results of which were perplexing in the least.

Presented are some of the findings:

50% of those Britons polled believe polygamy is legal in the U.S. Take that in for a minute. Think about that. 50% of those Briton’s polled actually think American men can have more than one wife.

1/3 of Britons believe Americans who have unpaid medical bills cannot receive emergency medical care. Fact: By law all U.S. hospitals must treat all emergency patients regardless of citizenship or ability to pay.

70% of Britons believe the European Union has done a better job at reducing carbon emissions than the U.S. when in fact, between 2000--2004, the U.S. slowed the growth of its carbon emissions by almost 10% while the great proponent of all things
environment, the E.U. increased its emissions for the same period.

80% of Britons wrongly believe that “from 1973 to 1990, the United States sold Saddam Hussein more than a quarter of his weapons.” Fact: The U.S. sold Saddam only 0.46 of his arsenal. The Russians 57%. The Chinese 13%. And our good friends the French provided 12%. So who really was the one who armed Saddam?

Most Britons believe that since WWII the U.S. has more often than not sided with non-Muslims over Muslims. Brutal fact: in 11 out of 12 major conflicts between Muslims and non-Muslims, Muslims and secular forces, Arabs and non-Arabs, the United States has sided with Muslims and/or Arabs.”

No doubt, it is ignorance as in, lack of knowledge combined with unawareness - deliberate of otherwise.

To highlight the point, let us expand on the term by considering some of its synonyms, denseness, dumbness, illiteracy, naiveté, shallowness, and unscholarliness. Therefore, it goes that many a Briton (some 2000 were surveyed) is dense, dumb, illiterate, naïve shallow and lack education. I would venture to suggest that this in not really the case, more exactly it is media nourished stupidity and that my friends is bad, perhaps worse in fact, because it connotate’s a form of stupidity and, as another lesser-known individual once said, “Stupid is forever, ignorance can be fixed.” To put it more benignly, I am suggesting that many are simply foolish on the question of America in the world due mostly to external stimuli; print and electronic media. You see, as another blogger concluded, many are happy to have opinions fed to them rather than working to instill it “with reasonable and impartial examination of the facts’.

When all is said and done is it prejudice? As one commenter says, “does it mean a bent mindset defining prejudice? Well it is bent, its ugly, and... It’s wrong.” I could not agree more! For the most part, Soeren Kern, in writing for pajamas hit the nail on the head:

For one thing, Europe’s unaccountable left-wing media spoon-feeds the European masses with a daily diet of sensationalist anti-American propaganda, so much so that ordinary Europeans have developed a thoroughly skewed perception of American reality.

More recently, the present financial crises is fueling even more anti – Americanism, and once again Soeren Kern makes a worthy point:

Being relatively nimble, the United States is likely to come out of this current crisis on a financial footing that is far stronger than that of Europe. This implies that European resentment of America will increase, and even more so if millions of ordinary Europeans end up losing their life savings in insolvent European banks … As a result, Americans should expect European anti-Americanism to grow worse in the years ahead, regardless of who becomes the next American president. Whether or not Americans should care, that is another issue.”

Regards the United States of America, human nature retains an inordinate and profound faculty for self-deception and for that, we can thank the numerous leftist thinkers populating both academia and media.

What do you think?

Home

November 15, 2008

America will remain Strong

... America’s capacity to regenerate and re-invent is driven by a broad range of structural advantages that most other nations can only dream of...

America’s critics can be naively ostentatious. The Obama victory, a ballooning deficit, and the financial crises are leading many a foreign policy and economic pundits to assume that America is finished. For those like myself, proponents for, and advocates of a strong and decisive America such events though concerning, beckon for a little perspective. After all, American declinism theories are nothing new and will be the subject of continuing debate.

Interesting term declinism, first coined by Samuel P. Huntington in a winter of ’88 response to Paul Kennedy’s ideas, in which the author deduced that:

“… although US predominance in world affairs is not so secure as it was, "the ultimate test of a great power is in its ability to renew its power..."
Remembering that this was written 20 years ago. It is in this very regard that America shall remain powerful, the capacity to turn the corner and regenerate itself in spite of politics and economics of the day remains her greatest strength. Needless to add, the likes of Fareed Zakaria will for example persist with their version of The Post-American World. But all things considered, and especially that of an impending Obama presidency, America is far from the ‘enfeebled superpower’ that Zakaria purports to. The endless stream of negative waffle coming from many a public intellectual, think tank theorists, and media elite is both unconstructive and damaging. No my friends, we are not Waving Goodbye to Hegemony just yet, nor are we ready to proclaim The End of the American Era. Obama is far removed from the declinist specialists; his view of America though not to the liking of us conservatives remains positive, to this end Kagan it seems, is right.

Obama, it should be said, has done little to deserve the praise of these declinists. His view of America's future, at least as expressed in this campaign, has been appropriately optimistic … declinism. It seems to come along every 10 years or so. In the late 1970s, the foreign policy establishment was seized with what Cyrus Vance called "the limits of our power". In the late '80s, scholar Paul Kennedy predicted the imminent collapse of American power due to "imperial overstretch". In the late '80s, Samuel P. Huntington warned of American isolation as the "lonely superpower". Now we have the "post-American world".

Yet the evidence of American decline is weak. Yes, as Zakaria notes, the world's largest Ferris wheel is in Singapore and the largest casino in Macau. But by more serious measures of power the US is not in decline, not even relative to other powers. Its share of the global economy last year was about 21 per cent, compared with about 23 per cent in 1990, 22 per cent in 1980 and 24 per cent in 1960. Although the US is suffering through a financial crisis, so is every other important economy. If the past is any guide, the adaptable US economy will be the first to come out of recession and may find its position in the global economy enhanced.

Meanwhile, US military power is unmatched … America's image is certainly damaged, as measured by global polls, but the practical effects of this are far from clear. Is the US's image today worse than it was in the '60s and early '70s, with the Vietnam War; the Watts riots; the My Lai massacre; the assassinations of John F. Kennedy, Martin Luther King and Bobby Kennedy; and Watergate? Does anyone recall that millions of anti-American protesters took to the streets in Europe in those years?

Sober analysts such as Richard Haass acknowledge that the US remains the single most powerful entity in the world. But he warns: "The United States cannot dominate, much less dictate, and expect that others will follow." That is true. But when was it not? Was there ever a time when the US could dominate, dictate and always have its way? Many declinists imagine a mythical past when the world danced to the US's tune.

Nostalgia swells for the wondrous American-dominated era after World War II, but between 1945 and 1965 the US suffered one calamity after another. The loss of China to communism; the North Korean invasion of South Korea; the Soviet testing of a hydrogen bomb; the stirrings of post-colonial nationalism in Indochina: each proved a strategic setback of the first order. And each was beyond America's power to control or even to manage successfully. >> more

To paraphrase what we wrote in the first paragraph, America’s capacity to regenerate and re-invent is driven by a broad range of structural advantages that most other nations can only dream of. Economic cycles come and go, some worse than others, deficits hover, foreign and domestic crises and the ongoing process of globalization will provide challenges, yet neither of these will counteract the advantages - its sheer present and potential dynamism, one borne of longstanding political and economic liberalism, its size, wealth, competitiveness and human capacity. For this, we ought to be grateful for only America remains the principle provider of public good and keeper of the peace. For the 21st century to have any chance of being peaceful, it must continue having a rule based international order which cannot exist, in the absence of U.S. global strategic power.

As a final point, and for those with the Newsweek or Zakaria mindset, I submit the wise words of Robert J. Lieber:

Over the years, America’s staying power has been regularly and chronically underestimated—by condescending French and British statesmen in the nineteenth century, by German, Japanese, and Soviet militarists in the twentieth, and by homegrown prophets of doom today. The critiques come and go. The object of their contempt never does.

Recommended reading: Falling Upwards: Declinism, The Box Set Robert J. Lieber

November 6, 2008

On Obama's victory

If your are tired of watching endless exit polls, your candidates every move and now suffering from election withdrawal symptoms you are probably not alone, it’s been an emotional and tumultuous ride.

Many questions prevail, with yet, only half-baked answers. What exactly lost it for McCain? Will an Obama Presidency End Racism in America? To what extent was media bias to blame?

On another note, local conservative journalist, Andrew Bolt had this to say:

John McCain is beaten, and this is what I haven’t yet seen or heard. Screams that the vote was rigged, lawyers taking the result to court, the loser blaming anyone but himself, angry celebrities vowing to move overseas, stickers claiming the winner stole the election, furious reporters denouncing ads by the losers’ critics, furious reporters blaming the winner’s evil genius, the bitter losers warning the country “is more divided than ever” … Graceful losers in a democracy need to be acknowledged just as much as graceful winners, if not more. At the very least, it may help to ensure the example catches on.
And another noteworthy point:

… a another gentle lesson to the Left … So now we know for sure. The Noam Chomsky … view of America is wrong. In George W. Bush’s America, a land allegedly rife with militarism and racism, the white military hero lost and the black memoirist won a slashing election victory ...
In terms of simple numbers, America remains politically divided if these figures are correct:

Final vote tally: OBAMA: 63,685,576 to MCCAIN: 56,280,668 representing a 7.4 million difference or just over 6%, McCain was beaten not thrashed.

Survey Issue Autopsy ’08

The American Issues Project has been active throughout the 2008 election cycle. The group first came to the fore with an ad exposing Barack Obama's connection with domestic terrorist, William Ayers. A follow-up ad spotlighted the role congressional liberals played in blocking sensible oversight and reform of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.

Still, it is time to look at what happened to the Republican Party and find the road to recovery for the GOP. Here the project conducted a survey of 4 swing states BEFORE the votes were cast and the result are telling:

American Issues Project Releases Issue Autopsy ’08; Survey says Voters Punished Republicans for Abandoning Conservative Principles ...

Washington, DC - The decisive defeat Republicans suffered in Tuesday's election came because conservative voters decided the party had lost its way, not because the electorate has shifted to the left, according to Issue Autopsy '08, a survey of swing state voters in Colorado, Florida, Ohio and Virginia commissioned by the American Issues Project, the group that accounted for the largest outside expenditures made to advocate conservative issues during this election cycle.

"Tuesday's elections were a shellacking that revealed the Republican brand is diluted to the point where the American people do not really know what the GOP stands for anymore," said Ed Martin, the organization's president. "The clear lesson from the American Issues Project survey is that while the United States remains a center-right country, voters no longer trust the Republican Party to represent those interests in Washington."

The survey found that approximately 72 percent of those voters agreed that: "The Republican Party used to stand for keeping government spending under control, but not anymore." More than 75 percent of likely voters agreed with the statement: "When the Republican Party took control of Congress in 1994, they promised to reform government and clean up corruption in Washington, but they failed to live up to that promise."

Respondents gave Democrats huge edges on fiscal issues, typically a Republican strength ... On the immediate economic issue, the credit crisis and bailout, voters blame Republicans more than Democrats by 11 points (34 percent to 23 percent). By a huge majority (69 percent to 21 percent) the voters also believe the bailout passed by Congress is unfair to taxpayers.

"Going forward, we intend to be very active during the 2009 legislative session, when a liberal-dominated Congress and a far-left administration will set their sights on a massive expansion in the role of the federal government, in everything from health care and labor law to taxes and spending,"

In order to gauge a true reading of voter intent the American Issues Project conducted its election analysis survey pre-election, November 2 and 3, 2008, via telephone interviews. The survey consisted of likely voters and early voters in four swing states: Virginia, Florida, Ohio and Colorado. Three hundred interviews were conducted in each of the four states for a total sample of 1,200 likely and early voters. Interviews were stratified by region within each state to accurately reflect historic voter turnout patterns. The margin of error for this survey is +/- 2.8 percent.

Obama, the 47-year-old freshman Senator now faces a daunting series of national security and economic challenges with nearly half the country still sceptical about his rise to the most powerful position on the planet. The next four years will be just as interesting as the past; we wish him luck.

On a positive note, one consistent with the true subject matter of this blog, and notwithstanding imminent foreign policy challenges, I do not believe that Obama was the candidate of American decline, therefore we will not write the U.S. off just yet, the subject of my next post.

Finally, I came across this here and thought it did demonstrated class:


November 2, 2008

U.S. Election: A Canadian's view

"... Ignore the rest of the issue for a moment because they are obscuring the big issue … the real goal of Obama is Socialism, it doesn’t work and it bankrupts the Government and it morally bankrupts the people, your country has morally stood up the defeated and the dismayed, you have fortified freedom for millions if not billions. You feed, clothe and comfort the destitute of the world and rush in to sort out disasters no matter where they happen. You are good and generous and you are the vanguard of freedom in the world, you are industrious, well trained and disciplined …Please vote and make your mark on history and America swerves with a new encounter with Socialism … "



The economic, strategic, political, and international challenges to be confronted by the 44th president are vast - from the global financial crises to mullahs wanting nuclear power and weaponry, this election the most exciting since ’60, and most important since ’80, is of paramount importance. The issues aside, Todd Reinhardt provides us with a highly intelligible Canadian perspective on the implications of an Obama victory. This and many other warnings are out there, pity too few are listening … either way my hopes and prayers are with the next leader …

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October 30, 2008

Does America require a Domestic Counterterrorism agency

Following the 9/11 attacks, academics and experts have continually questioned whether the U.S. needs a domestic counterterrorism agency. A contention based on the belief that the attacks may have been prevented, if a dedicated body were previously established.

On the surface, it would appear to be a no brainer, which is far from reality. Should for example, the FBI take the reins or is there s a need to restructure U.S. efforts and establish a domestic agency based on Britain’s M15 model? There are compelling arguments either way.

After the attempt to down 10 airlines using liquid explosives was foiled by London authorities in 2006, experts quickly praised the effectiveness of British counterterrorism agencies, in stark contrast to criticism often leveled at the U.S. intelligence community.

The Department of Homeland Security also recently asked the RAND Corporation to conduct an independent study on the feasibility of creating just such and agency. Among the key findings of the report:

>> The motivating question is one of organization, and depending on how the problem with the nation's domestic intelligence approach is defined, changing organizations is one solution. However, other approaches – such as reallocation resources, changing regulations or laws, or enhancing agency collaboration – are options as well.

>>
Fundamentally, what the United States seeks by way of domestic intelligence remains unclear, and existing arrangements have not been assessed in detail, all of which raises questions about the objectives of any reorganization effort.

>>
Break-even analysis provides a systematic means of exploring the question of how much a new domestic intelligence agency would have to reduce terrorism risk – given a presumed level of threat and estimates of agency cost – to justify creating it.
A summary of the RAND Report can be found here

Many interesting questions need be considered. Are U.S. counterterrorism agencies as effective as their British (and European) counterparts are? Or is it simply a case of their efforts going unrecognized because of the secretive nature of their operations? Should counterterrorism be law-enforcement activity, a military one or both?

October 28, 2008

A Better Country: Why America was Right to Confront Iraq

... As the 2008 election approaches, Americans have a civic duty to reassess the war in Iraq ...

The past six years have seen a plethora of book titles devoted to the Iraq war debate. While for the most part they painted a negative picture early on some, but not all recent titles draw the opposite conclusion. I was recently introduced to one such title, A Better Country: Why America was Right to Confront Iraq. Written by a member of The Greatest Generation and a Democrat, Arthur Borden’s book is not merely another polemic but an account as seen through the mind of a career lawyer who enlightens readers within the context of modern U.S. foreign policy in the region.

… Borden a graduate of Yale University and Columbia Law School guides readers through the historical events leading up to the 2003 invasion, focusing on the emotionally charged public debate while also navigating the politics, opposition, and responsibility of the U. S. to address the Iraqi regime. A Better Country reminds us that, stretching back to the presidency of Jimmy Carter and before, there had been a broad consensus over the touchstone issues of Iraq, the Middle East, and the unmentionable reality of oil – until political argument became degraded by charges of betrayal and wholesale deception … It sets the record straight on the threat of Saddam’s regime and on the U.S. decision to invade Iraq. It cuts through the confusions of the war debate, and it will help to overcome the deep and disabling divisions in America’s civic life.

With a razor-sharp legal mind, he presents the testimony of presidents, congressman, senators, and other foreign policy architects on both sides of the political spectrum, who for the last several decades acknowledged that a secure Persian Gulf region is crucial to American survival.
It should not surprise many that my view is in accord with that of the author in any event, a belief based on at least two premises.

1. That many on the left, including the sensitized anti-Bush and anti war horde have a fixed unaccountable interest in American failure in Iraq (and Afghanistan) and that increasingly this horde has come to include many well to do, sensible and overly righteous educated types who see failure as necessary outcome to dent American pride and honor and

2. History being a sound judge proves that the U.S. is not the power hungry bloodthirsty conqueror that takes away liberty as many extremists suggest. I do not recall an America taking away any freedom or hijack resources during WWII; they fought and won on the back of sound principles. After the conflict they worked together with and rebuilt Western Europe while enemies of America took hold of the eastern part of the continent. By the 1990’s Western Europe was modern and thriving while the Eastern states were poor and driven under. It is much the same with North and South Korea. Even in Vietnam where America lost, things are on the up because they have chosen to pursue freedom at the expense of socialist ideology.

America only profited from these nations because it established trade and democratic governance not because it stole. America’s enemies, and in particular the Islamists can argue all they like about America being evil, in Afghanistan they were given a chance to demonstrate their wares, prove to us they can govern in a civilized manner, so what did they do? Recall woman dragged before crowds and shot. Islamists having been given a chance to validate their model ways and failed dismally, hence it is time we supported America in Iraq and Afghanistan.

In terms of historical analysis as a wartime President, Bush like Truman before him, is in line for positive reconsideration.

As both the media release and Arthur Borden outlines, “As the 2008 election approaches, Americans have a civic duty to reassess the war in Iraq.”

A Better Country: Why America was Right to Confront Iraq is necessary reading for all of us seeking not just better understanding, but also a sense of finely honed discernment about how America arrived at where she is today.