Knowing In Part
of differing political viewpoints
that revolve around the
geographic and political
center of America.
Thursday, April 08, 2004
Hiding in Mosques
The report of combatants hiding in mosques during fighting and using the mosques as safe havens is, well, to be expected. The morality and honor of these thugs has always been predictable. Just a quick reminder, the rules of war as outlined in international law (aka the Geneva Convention) do not apply to terrorists.
I am reminded of a moment that does not haunt me, but remains vivid in my memory. During the clean-up phase of Operation Just Cause (Invasion of Panama), my unit was sent to a small, remote village. According to the residents, the priest at the small Catholic church had been missing and some men unknown to the villagers were seen coming and going from the church. The operational plan of the fleeing members of Noriega's regime had been to find a place that was secluded and either hold the family hostage or kill them outright. The thugs would use the house for the night or as long as necessary, then flee. Because there was a travel curfew, moving at night was dangerous. Our orders were cleared from the battalion commander. Check out the church. Apprehend or kill anyone found inside as necessary.
We had the fortune to find the church curator who had a key to one of the outside doors. Inside, we searched every space. Our translators were calling out for anyone to surrender. The last space, the priest's quarters, was locked-bolted from the inside. As I was the point person on this line of the search, I had to kick in the door. A lieutenant and I burst through the door. Luckily, no one was in the room. We never found the priest.
My point. Churches are off limits for a reason that does not work in war. War is hell. War is about killing people and breaking things. The men with me had a similar background. We had been raised in church. We had great reluctance about entering a church with violence. But, it had to be done. Bad guys do not play by rules.
The mosques in Iraq are not unique. Remember the bombing of the historic abbey in the campaign in Italy. The Germans were using the abbey for an observation post and the results were lethal for the Allied forces. If people want to make political hay out of the matter, let them. If not for this issue, they would surely find something else to make the token cause of the moment. Churches are buildings. Sacred buildings, but still just buildings. The church is the body, not the building. As a Christian, I believe that God wants me to do justice (Micah 6:8), not argue over legality. As a United Methodist, I am humbled by the history that John Wesley's greatest ministry was outdoors. He rode a horse for his mission field and preached in meadows or pastures. Should meadows and pastures have been placed off limits in International Law? Although churches stand as symbols, they are not immortal. Can a church be sold? Can a church be converted into a building for different uses? Can a church be bought, razed, and replaced with a strip mall? If all this is possible, then why can't a church be rebuilt after unfortunate yet necessary warfare?
Should we enter the mosques in Iraq? Yes, after all options have been exhausted and using due diligence. Should we help rebuild the mosques later? Yes. Should we worry about the decision? No.
September 11th Commission, Clarke, & Rice
I am disheartened to see the current level of muck-raking over the September 11th Commission.
Actually, that we have a Sept 11th review at this time is absurd. No, we should have a review, but how about focusing on the whole issue. Did the indignant members of Congress demand a commission be formed for the Mogadishu battle and Somalia? What about the first attack on WTC? What about the bombing of Khobar Towers in Saudi Arabia? What about the attack on the USS Cole? What about the US Navy E-3 plane and its crew held hostage in China? Hostages in Iran? Bombing of the US Marine barracks in Beirut?
Someone may be able to find some congressional hearing notes on most of these incidents. But did the hearings 1) point fingers of blame 2) mandate operational changes to avert future incidents or 3) pull in unprecedented levels of testimony? No. Why?
I think that is a bigger question. Why did the entities that forced the creation of the Sept 11th commission not take similar action in the previous events? Answer that Mr/Mrs Indignant Elected Representative.
Richard Clarke. Hmmm. He was the key person asleep at the switch for a few decades and now wants to blame the new administration. I am supposed to believe him because?????
Condoleeza Rice should testify. I hope she gets her dander up and dog-cusses everyone single person on the commission.
Monday, April 05, 2004
Being undecided is tough
As an undecided voter in the upcoming election I have tried to pay attention to the arguments for and against both sides. I try to evaluate each position fairly and decide who has the best policy. I do my best to filter through the partisanship and find what makes each argument applicable.
Here are the list of things I would like to see the next president address. The soaring budget and deficit, executing the war on terror, implementing policies that will not stiffle economic growth, meaningful Medicare and Social Security reform, and repairing relationships with our nominal allies around the world.
For right now I'm going to talk about this last point, repairing relationships. I'll get around to discussion the others as we go through the next few weeks.
There seems to be a strongly held belief in the Democratic side of this debate that says we squandered the international good will we enjoyed after 9/11 by our actions since. Lets review what actions those are. We started a global man hunt for Osama Bin Laden, we overthrew the Taliban in Afganistan, and we overthrew Saddam Hussien in Iraq. Add into that our continued support for Israel, dropping the Kyoto agreement, and some general arrogance in the international arena and you get a decent picture of what the post 9/11 world has seen us do. Lileks has a good take on this. About halfway down the page is where the good stuff starts.
The general arrogance is really just an extension of what the US has been doing since the fall of the USSR. We have been deemed the hyper-power of the world by the international community. Something akin to the proverbial 500 pound gorilla. We were like that before 9/11 and have continued after, but one very important thing changed. Our people and our government got angry.
Imagine that you are a member of the police force in your town or neighborhood. You get along with your fellow officers for the most part but you don't really discuss important differences. Each of you knows that in your town there is a large gang of thugs who have been a problem in the past and continue to be a problem, but you think you've got it all under control and are slowly shutting the thugs down. Then your house gets bombed with part of your family inside. You find out that it was a few guys from the gang who did it, without the express direction of the gang leaders, but the leaders sure didn't mind. You get angry, your fellow officers get angry, and you go get the guys who did it. You don't get the man who actually planted the bomb, but you're still looking for him. You did get some of his buddies though.
And now you turn your attention on the rest of the gang. They may not have been directly involved, but they knew about the guy and even helped him when they could. Only this time a lot of your buddies say they can't help. They don't want to go after the gang because they might be the next target. You try to convince them that it is the right thing to do, that we've seen what the gang is capable of but only a few of your close friends are willing to help you. And when you say you're going anyway the people who aren't going tell you that you shouldn't go without them, but they still aren't going.
If you can put yourself in that situation do you think you'd be able to be completly civil and diplomatic in everything you did? I doubt it. The parallels should be pretty clear but lets look at what happened afterward. We found out that there is a very real possibility that Russia, France, and the UN have been getting paid by Saddam to help him cheat the rules laid out by the UN. That's like finding out the part of the police force was getting bribed by the gang to let them sell drugs or guns. Not the actions of your real friends.
So to me essentially Europe at large is upset becuase we didn't listen to them and do what they wanted. They are further upset because we didn't pretend that they might be able to stop us. Of course may be we should be upset at Europe's arrogance toward us. They didn't listen to us and do what we wanted. It's the same situation. So as far as the arrogance goes, we should attempt to be more diplomatic in the future, but Europe at large has already shown that they will do what is best for themselves before us, we need to be sure we do the same. When they will help us great, but if not that shouldn't even come close to stopping us.
So if foreign policy is going to play an important role in the next election, the person I vote for will have to make it clear that they want to work with other governments around the globe but that they will not sacrifice the needs of our country to satisfy the niceties of international relations.
Roger L. Simon
Michael J. Totten
Winds of Change
Outside the Beltway
Daniel W. Drezner
The Ornery American
Iraq the Model
The New Republic Online
National Review Online
The Crayon Years
Number 2 Pencil
The Weekly Standard
New York Times