MartiniPundit

Random thoughts and insights – always shaken, never stirred

Archive for June 2005

US – India Defense Pact

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India and the United States have signed a ten-year defense pact, which is very big news (although I somehow doubt it will get the play it deserves). India is often overlooked except when someone wishes to score cheap political points by decrying outsourcing, but the subcontinent has been making great strides in recent years and by some counts will outstrip China as the world’s most populous nation in the future. Both countries have an incentive to strengthen ties, and this is a very positive step.

Winds of Change has some excellent analysis.

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Written by martinipundit

June 30, 2005 at 2:52 pm

Posted in General, Politics

Sad Moments in Pettiness

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Both regular readers know I believe George Soros to be on the Grand Moonbat Council, but really:

Major League Baseball hasn’t narrowed the list of the eight bidders seeking to buy the Washington Nationals and some Republicans on Capitol Hill already are hinting at revoking the league’s antitrust exemption if billionaire financier George Soros , an ardent critic of President Bush and supporter of liberal causes, buys the team.

“It’s not necessarily smart business sense to have anybody who is so polarizing in the political world,” Rep. John E. Sweeney (R-N.Y.) said. “That goes for anybody, but especially as it relates to Major League Baseball because it’s one of the few businesses that get incredibly special treatment from Congress and the federal government.”

How completely absurd and petty. Get real Congressman and get back to work.

Written by martinipundit

June 30, 2005 at 8:46 am

President Bush’s Iraq Speech

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I was unable to listen to the full speech last night, although I did catch the back half. Delivery seemed to me to be standard Bush – not his most rousing but yeomanlike nonetheless. So it wasn’t until the morning that I read the rest – I prefer it that way in any event as one can work with the material better. The full text is here.

In short, the President said what needed to be said. He and the Administration have been far too quiet of late, and have failed to counter the drumbeat of negativity from the Democrats and the MSM. Things are going well in Iraq and in the larger GWOT, but the American people have only heard the bad, the sort of thing that goes on in any war, but not the good which is specific to this one.

In starting by thanking the troops, Bush sends a message that he, as Commander in Chief, has not forgotten them, and that he appreciates what they’re doing. This is good given certain recent statements.

The terrorists who attacked us — and the terrorists we face — murder in the name of a totalitarian ideology that hates freedom, rejects tolerance, and despises all dissent. Their aim is to remake the Middle East in their own grim image of tyranny and oppression — by toppling governments, by driving us out of the region, and by exporting terror.

To achieve these aims, they have continued to kill — in Madrid, Istanbul, Jakarta, Casablanca, Riyadh, Bali, and elsewhere. The terrorists believe that free societies are essentially corrupt and decadent, and with a few hard blows they can force us to retreat. They are mistaken.

It is also important to remind people just what we face. This isn’t partisan rancor — that’s bad, but we’re not going to start blowing each other up — this is a war against people who will blow you up for disagreeing with them, and more. They will blow us up because we allow women to drive wearing shorts and a halter top. They will blow us up because we allow freedom of religious expression (or none at all). They will blow us up because we are free, prosperous, successful, and optimistic. They will blow us up because they think we’re weak and decadent.

Our mission in Iraq is clear. We’re hunting down the terrorists. We’re helping Iraqis build a free nation that is an ally in the war on terror. We’re advancing freedom in the broader Middle East. We are removing a source of violence and instability, and laying the foundation of peace for our children and our grandchildren.

This has always been the mission. Far from lying or misleading us into war, the President has talked about these themes from the very beginning.

Some of the violence you see in Iraq is being carried out by ruthless killers who are converging on Iraq to fight the advance of peace and freedom. Our military reports that we have killed or captured hundreds of foreign fighters in Iraq who have come from Saudi Arabia and Syria, Iran, Egypt, Sudan, Yemen, Libya and others. They are making common cause with criminal elements, Iraqi insurgents, and remnants of Saddam Hussein’s regime who want to restore the old order. They fight because they know that the survival of their hateful ideology is at stake. They know that as freedom takes root in Iraq, it will inspire millions across the Middle East to claim their liberty, as well. And when the Middle East grows in democracy and prosperity and hope, the terrorists will lose their sponsors, lose their recruits, and lose their hopes for turning that region into a base for attacks on America and our allies around the world.

Indeed, it’s called flypaper, and it’s working. We’re fighting the terrorists there, not here. We’re fighting the terrorists in a place with tens of thousands of the best and toughest hombres in the world. The American military is taking these guys down and training Iraqi security forces to help. Yes, we’ve had some two thousand fatalities, but this is a war. And by historical standards, one that is not very bloody for our troops. We regret the loss of each and every one of them, we regret all those who are wounded and perhaps maimed. But we have been fighting for nearly four years now, and the military losses do not equal those of 9/11. Perspective should be maintained. With every passing month, the better trained and more experienced terrorists are facing terrible attrition.

With every leader caught or killed, someone lesser takes his place. They cannot sustain operations at this level without degrading their ability to virtually nothing.

The terrorists — both foreign and Iraqi — failed to stop the transfer of sovereignty. They failed to break our Coalition and force a mass withdrawal by our allies. They failed to incite an Iraqi civil war. They failed to prevent free elections. They failed to stop the formation of a democratic Iraqi government that represents all of Iraq’s diverse population. And they failed to stop Iraqis from signing up in large number with the police forces and the army to defend their new democracy.

They certainly can use car bombs and IEDs to blow things up, but they cannot make headway in the things that really matter. One, because many of them are not Iraqis, and two, because those that are are merely remnants of Saddam’s regime. These guys didn’t go to Brazil, they stayed. And they’re losing.

In the past year, we have made significant progress. One year ago today, we restored sovereignty to the Iraqi people. In January 2005, more than 8 million Iraqi men and women voted in elections that were free and fair, and took time on — and took place on time. We continued our efforts to help them rebuild their country. Rebuilding a country after three decades of tyranny is hard, and rebuilding while at war is even harder. Our progress has been uneven, but progress is being made.

We’re improving roads and schools and health clinics. We’re working to improve basic services like sanitation, electricity, and water. And together with our allies, we’ll help the new Iraqi government deliver a better life for its citizens.

This the second half of the strategy. In addition to flypaper, there is the beacon. Most of the people of the Middle East live under brutal oppression. They know only what their governments tell them. But the word spreads nevertheless — in Iraq, they had free elections and almost everybody came. (This is unlike the sham election in Iran where almost everybody stayed home.) In Lebanon, in Egypt, in Kuwait, even in Saudi Arabia, that election is reverberating through aftershocks as other nations in the region adjust to the new reality. (It doesn’t hurt that Dr. Rice continues to push the theme hard over there – how it must gall the Islamofascists that she’s a she.)

A free, democratic Iraq is the grenade thrown into the tent of Middle East dictatorship.

Finally, we have continued our efforts to equip and train Iraqi security forces. We made gains in both the number and quality of those forces. Today Iraq has more than 160,000 security forces trained and equipped for a variety of missions. Iraqi forces have fought bravely, helping to capture terrorists and insurgents in Najaf and Samarra, Fallujah and Mosul. And in the past month, Iraqi forces have led a major anti-terrorist campaign in Baghdad called Operation Lightning, which has led to the capture of hundreds of suspected insurgents. Like free people everywhere, Iraqis want to be defended by their own countrymen, and we are helping Iraqis assume those duties.

This is a necessity, both to relieve the burden on our own troops, but also to prove Iraqi sovereignty is real and lasting. Nothing says that like an army.

I recognize that Americans want our troops to come home as quickly as possible. So do I. Some contend that we should set a deadline for withdrawing U.S. forces. Let me explain why that would be a serious mistake. Setting an artificial timetable would send the wrong message to the Iraqis, who need to know that America will not leave before the job is done. It would send the wrong message to our troops, who need to know that we are serious about completing the mission they are risking their lives to achieve. And it would send the wrong message to the enemy, who would know that all they have to do is to wait us out. We will stay in Iraq as long as we are needed, and not a day longer.

The only way to win a battle — and a war — is to see it through. No one ever won a battle by leaving it.

America has done difficult work before. From our desperate fight for independence to the darkest days of a Civil War, to the hard-fought battles against tyranny in the 20th century, there were many chances to lose our heart, our nerve, or our way. But Americans have always held firm, because we have always believed in certain truths. We know that if evil is not confronted, it gains in strength and audacity, and returns to strike us again.

This is the lesson of history, and why we must confront terrorism everywhere it exists. This does not always mean militarily (although I would like to see the us take out Iran and Syria), and it does not always mean diplomacy (the likely route for the Saudis). It requires a flexible approach, and an understanding of the end goal. I believe the President has this.

After September the 11th, 2001, I told the American people that the road ahead would be difficult, and that we would prevail. Well, it has been difficult — and we are prevailing. Our enemies are brutal, but they are no match for the United States of America, and they are no match for the men and women of the United States military.

All in all, it needed to be said.

Also in the address, the President mentioned a new DoD website — AmericaSupportsYou.mil — as a place for people to go and learn ways to tangibly support the troops.

Written by martinipundit

June 29, 2005 at 9:45 am

Posted in GWOT, Iraq, Politics

Trafalgar 200

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Today marks the opening of the celebrations for the 200th anniversary of the Battle of Trafalgar, a victory which assured Great Britain’s command of the sea for the next hundred years, and which ultimately confined Napoleon to the continent. Although Admiral Horatio Nelson fell in his moment of triumph – mortally wounded by a French sharpshooter – he knew that he had won the day. (Nelson was quite battered in his time, having already lost an eye and an arm in other battles.) Warships from 35 nations have gathered at Portsmouth England to partake. Here are (bottom to top) the HMS Invincible, the USS Saipan, and the FS Charles de Gaulle:

Trafalgar200 website here, and a good description of the battle here.

Update There have been some suggestions that the French were trying to upstage the British by sending the de Gaulle – their most impressive naval unit – inasmuch as they actually lost the battle of Trafalgar. I think this is reading too much into things. Look at the picture – if size matters, the de Gaulle compares unfavorably to the HMS Invincible and definitely to the Saipan. It is important to consider that both of the latter carriers are not ‘attack’ carriers, the Invincible being what the British call a “through-deck cruiser” meant primarily for helicopters and VSTOL aircraft like the Harrier. The Invincible, by the way, is by no means a new ship, having fought in the Falklands twenty-three years ago. The Saipan, similarly, is not an aircraft carrier, but is what we in the States call an ‘amphibious assault ship.’ This means she has harriers, and helicopters, and a lot of marines. Her primary role is to project a complete battle force – air, land, and sea – at any given point, but she is not a fleet carrier like a Nimitz class.

The Charles de Gaulle, on the other hand, is the French version of a Nimitz, and she does not compare favorably at all. She carries fewer aircraft (less than half), displaces far fewer tons (look at the picture), and has proven rather cranky in actual operations. This is not surprising given that only the US has had real experience and success building nuclear-powered surface warships. Teething pains are to be expected, as the Russians found out when they tried to build ships of this sort. The de Gaulle is what she is, and that is the finest warship in the French fleet. I think it appropriate to give the French the benefit of the doubt on this one. No doubt some Gallic pride is involved, but I believe they sent the de Gaulle not to snub the British, but to honor their role in this great naval conflict. Personally, I wish we could have sent a super carrier to this review, but there is a war on.

Here is a picture of the de Gaulle in company with the USS Enterprise CVN-65 which give some idea of the relative size: 

The Enterprise was the first nuclear powered aircraft carrier in the world. Of course, she was commissioned in 1961 (de Gaulle in 2000), and displaces some 90,000 tons (more than twice the de Gaulle) and carries nearly 100 aircraft (de Gaulle carrries 40). If someone really wanted to upstage the British, they would have sent a ship like the Enterprise.

Written by martinipundit

June 28, 2005 at 9:30 am

Posted in History, Ships

Emily Litella Goes to Gitmo

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What’s all this I hear about a bus at Gitmo? Can’t they have buses?

Two Democratic senators just back from reviewing U.S. detention facilities and interrogations at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, said they saw no signs of abuse and said it would actually be worse to close the facility and transfer the detainees elsewhere.

“I strongly prefer the improved practices and conditions at Camp Delta to the outsourcing of interrogation to countries with a far less significant commitment to human rights,” said Sen. Ron Wyden, Oregon Democrat, who toured the U.S. facility along with Sen. Ben Nelson, Nebraska Democrat. …

“Everything we heard about operations there in the past, we’d have to say, was negative. What we saw firsthand was something different,” Mr. Nelson said.

 

Oh. Never mind.

Written by martinipundit

June 28, 2005 at 8:54 am

Posted in GWOT

Far Right Wackos

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Meanwhile, from the protest front, not all the moonbats are on the Left. A so-called ‘church’ group from Kansas protested the funeral of a Green Beret at the Old North Church today in Marblehead. Apparently, God hates America due to our tolerance of homosexuality:

[A] right-wing Protestant Christian church group from Topeka, Kansas is planning to demonstrate at Piper’s funeral services at the Old North Church. They claim U.S. soldiers like Piper are dying because the country is being punished for its tolerance of what they see as immoral behavior, such as homosexuality.

The group, from the Westboro Baptist Church, protested several weeks ago in Dracut and Lexington, Mass., carrying signs depicting homosexual sex, with slogans such as “Pope In Hell” and “God Hates Fags,” and “God Hates The U.S.”

Presumably the Pope is in hell because of that old “love the sinner, hate the sin” policy. Getting that one from both sides …

These people are entitled to protest, but they do themselves no good. The notion that God ‘hates’ is frankly bad enough, but the idea that God is smiting US service men and women because some people are engaging in sexual practices is Old Testament thinking to say the least. To put a finer point on it – they’re nutjobs. At least the moonbats on the Left are genuinely opposed to the war or hate America all by themselves. They feel no need to invoke the authority of the Almighty, who no doubt frowns very much on this presumption to speak in his name.

More to the point, they give ammunition to those on the Left who would refer to Christians derisively as “Christers,” and people like Howard Dean who very much want to portray people like this as the mainstream of the Republican party, and who have Bush in their pocket. To be sure, these people no doubt are convinced of the rectitude and importance of their cause, but just like those on the Left, all they really do is provide a spectacle of marginalized extremists in living color. They – and their counterparts on the Left – would do better to stay home. In the end, protesting seems to serve more often as a convenient filter to identify the lunatic fringe, than the higher purpose the Founding Fathers intended.

Some video here.

Update Well, it’s worse than I thought. I had of course heard of the so-called ‘Westboro Baptist Church,’ but hadn’t paid much attention. Maybe I should have. Here’s a picture of one of their protesters:

Indeed, indistinguishable from his counterpart on the Left, and save for the offensive ‘God’ reference, most welcome at a showing of Fahrenheit 9/11. They also have a website, with an unsurprising URL. Be careful, it’s filled with imbecilic vitriol, bigotry, and an utter and complete lack of Christian charity. There’s also a strange fecal preoccupation, along with lesser modes of excretion. By their fruits ye shall know them indeed. A taste:

Once we found nourishment, exercise and lodging, we made our way to the city of Lexington, where we would preach righteousness and shine a bright light on their evil deeds, ripping forth the razor-thin veneer of their pretension to holiness. As two-dozen God-hating fools clutched sweaty palms at St. Brigid’s whorehouse and turned their backs to us as some ill-conceived show of righteousness, Shirl, Becky, Mara, Jacob Z., Bekah, Zach, Deborah, Noah and I arrived to bear precious seed on ground that was once covered with the blood of those who fought for liberty, but now is trod by the feet of Lexingtonian zombies running to sin. Shirl announced to TV and newspaper reporters that the God that destroyed Sodom is not dead, and that there is a hell and a day of judgment and that it’s not okay to be gay. As those with children in tow approached the steps of this den of iniquity, Becky implored them not to take the children inside and reminded them of what the priests inside wanted to do to their sons. I began to lift up voice, reminding these mindless, spineless men of the flesh that the Catholic church has become, under JPII’s guidance, the largest pedophile organization in the history of man — sanctioned by every nation in the world, and that anyone who puts a penny in their plate pays the salary of pedophile rapists. I also suggested in love that it would have been infinitely less filthy for these phony, crop-headed heifers to have stayed at home and wallowed around in a bathtub full of their own crap than to have stepped over the threshold of such an evil place.

It goes on like this for some time, except that this is tamer than much of what follows. The site is filled with this dross, although it does have some (no doubt) unintentional moments of humor such as when we learn that in addition to hating America, God hates Sweden. My first thought was, “Why bother?” These are sad, pathetic, moonbats for the most part, but with a whiff of evil about them. I trust they will one day be treated to more mercy than they themselves would show.

Update II It’s been pointed out that the head of this ‘church,’ Fred Phelps, has ties to Al Gore and his family and that he calls himself a Democrat, having even run for office as a Democrat in Kansas. The fact that he’s been soundly defeated in the primaries suggests that his party affiliation may be in his head. And the chameleon-like Gore, while no doubt thoroughly rejecting Phelps’ bigotry, is enough of a moonbat himself to be an entire sub-genus of the species. The operative lesson here may very well be madness defies party labels, and that extremism of the Left and extremism of the Right often merge in unpredictable ways, thus becoming hard to distinguish. Still, this sort seems more of the rejected Falwell/Buchanan type than the embraced Moore/Dean type. The real lesson? The Right rejects its moonbats; the Left does not. Let me make this clearer: The Republicans have rejected Phelps, Duke, Buchanan and their ilk. The Democrats fete Soros, give Moore prominence at their convention, and make Dean the leader of the party. Both sides would be better off without the fringe.

Update III Eben Crawford let me know about this picture of a little boy holding a “Thank God for 9/11” sign. Get them while they’re young – no doubt one of Phelps’ many grandchildren. This group gets more disgusting by the second.

Update IV It’s been pointed out to me that not all on the liberal side of the spectrum (which is not synonymous with the Left, BTW) would agree that Moore, Soros, and Dean are moonbats. Fair enough, but in my view peddling hate is peddling hate – your mileage may vary. It is certainly true that Phelps is a much clumsier and more obvious villain than the others I’ve named.

Written by martinipundit

June 27, 2005 at 11:12 am

Michael Barone’s Take on Rove’s Statements

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I generally find Michael Barone a pretty level-headed and insightful guy, and he doesn’t disappoint on the Rove statements:

Reading the initial press accounts of Rove’s speech, I wished that he had been more specific about which liberals he was denouncing — except that, as those press accounts failed to mention, he was. “I’m not joking,” he went on immediately after the words quoted above. “Submitting a petition was precisely what Moveon.org, then known as 9-11peace.org did. You may have seen it in The New York Times or The Washington Post, the San Francisco Examiner or the L.A. Times. (Funny, I didn’t see it in the Amarillo Globe News.) It was a petition that ‘implored the powers that be’ to ‘use moderation and restraint in responding to the terrorist attacks against the United States.'”

One reason that the Democrats are squawking so much about Rove’s attack on “liberals” is that he has put the focus on a fundamental split in the Democratic Party — a split among its politicians and its voters.

On the one hand, there are those who believe that this is a fundamentally good country and want to see success in Iraq. On the other hand, there are those who believe this is a fundamentally bad country and want more than anything else to see George W. Bush fail.

Some of the latter are in denial about that, but it’s plain for the seeing. A must read.

Written by martinipundit

June 27, 2005 at 9:49 am

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