Thursday, May 25, 2006

The Winter Soldier Returns

Many will already have read of Jessie McBeth, the young imposter who attempted to pass himself off as a former Army Ranger. McBeth had a number of stories of atrocities that supposedly occurred in Iraq.

This caused a number of people to think of the Winter Soldier investigation of 1971, in which John Kerry was a participant.

The remarkable thing about the accounts of that event is that you can pick from one of two completely different accounts depending on your political affiliations. Either the WSI was a gathering of over 100 veterans who were carefully selected and screened for authenticity by the organizers or it was a pack of lies told by people many of whom were imposters, not even veterans.

And looking back now, 30 years later, it's hard to be certain of which account is the most accurate. Clearly, some of the participants were fake including the fellow who wrote the book that inspired the whole thing and the principle organizer of it, a veteran who exaggerated his status and participation in events in Vietnam. But it's still possible that many or most of the rest were legitimate.

By one account, the Naval Investigation Service (NIS) attempted to track down and interview soldiers who testified at the WSI, and this resulted in refusals to grant interviews. In some cases it was discovered that the veteran who supposedly was there at the WSI was not there at all.

Others reject that account on the basis that no record of this Naval investigation that took place after the WSI can be found. The man who recounts the story, however, is a respected historian and Professor Emeritus, now probably up in his 70's, who says that he no longer has the documents he based his account on, now almost 30 years after he wrote the book. (Indeed, if I were asked to produce the the notes and source material for stuff I published just 15 years ago I couldn't do it.)

Moreover, it's a little difficult to believe that there was no investigation of the WSI allegations by the military. The claim being made frequently during the 2004 campaign was that there were such investigations and they could find no evidence to substantiate the WSI allegations. The anti war types claim that about 30 of the veterans testified to the NIS about atrocities. (So there must have been an NIS report, right? If so, it's apparently still classified.)

In any case, you've got the right-wingers with one account of the WSI with annotations and references and left wingers with a completely opposite account, also documented, and both sides discount the others' account as "propaganda." And it's been over 30 years now.

What is most likely the most balanced analysis that I've read was from a veteran who was there for 3 years and saw no evidence of atrocities, but he admits with so many men, so many guns, so much conflict, so much pressure that some of that is going to occur. He said that people in different units in different parts of Vietnam probably had completely different experiences. The WSI probably accurately recounts some incidents or experiences but it does not reflect the experience of most veterans who were there. Just as in this conflict there is a tendency on the part of anti-war people to try to generalize these events to the whole military and make exaggerated or false claims in an effort to bring the war to an end.

Saturday, May 20, 2006

John Conyers Lies Through His Teeth

And this guy, basically a gangster and a thug who abuses and intimidates his own Congressional staff, would be the Chairman of the Judiciary Committee if the Donks take over the House.

Last year he held a mock impeachment hearing against President Bush where he served as the Chairman and paraded a series of kookburgers in as witnesses who testified to the effect that the President had broken the law and deserved impeachment. Oh, what a grand old time was had by all, including the mainstream media people who gleefully reported on it, and the upshod of it was that Conyers decided and declared then and there that he intended to see to it that Bush was impeached.

And now he says, in effect, that none of this happened, that he didn't say any of this, that Republicans are being paranoid to say that he is intent on impeaching the President.

Well, John, you can't unring a bell, and your idiotic, thuggish words will be used against you and your party again and again.

The other day I got a letter from the RNC asking for funds. The letter went over the whole history of Conyers and his intent to impeach Bush, and, I swear to God, my pen jumped out of my pocket and into my hand and proceeded to write a check out for a substantial contribution that I sent in to the RNC forthwith. No doubt my pen will be doing the same in the future whenever it hears the word "impeachment" or someone evokes a mental image of Conyers holding committee hearings.

Feminists Lie About Saddam

Women and children died and feminists lied about it.

Some radical feminists and anti-war liberals have very short memories. It's just three years after Saddam Hussein's ouster and some would have us believe the tyrant was in fact a protector of women's rights in Iraq. That Iraq under Saddam actually had progressive, pro-women policies that are now being "rolled back" thanks to the Bush administration.

This is an execrable lie fostered by blind hatred of the President.

The truth is that after the first Gulf war Saddam reverted to tribal Islamic traditions concerning women. Women lost their jobs, were not allowed to drive, and were not allowed to leave their homes without a male relative escort. The practice of honor killings was reinstituted and men were excused for killing female relatives in such matters. An estimated 4000 women died in honor killings in the following years. Women were not allowed to attend school, and literacy among women fell to 23% by 2000.

In 2000, Saddam's Islamofascist brigades killed 200 women's rights activists, calling them prostitutes, and dumped their heads on their relative's doorsteps for public display.

And then there are the hundreds of thousands of people killed and dumped in mass graves including infants with their mothers. And there was the common practice of raping and torturing women in order to extract information from male relatives, which occurred tens of thousands of times, thousands of cases where women were raped and tortured to death.

A brutal dictator who tortures his own people cannot be a champion of women's rights. To pretend otherwise is to dishonor the memory of the thousands of innocent Iraqi women who died in a senseless brutal reign of terror. It also does a grave disservice to the men and women of this country who died or were injured to liberate Iraq.

Friday, May 19, 2006

Remember the End of Apartheid?

With regard to this story in the New York Times...

Remember the end of Apartheid in South Africa?

Did the New York Times run stories almost every day describing the plight of whites there, how they were being killed and oppressed, how they were trying to leave the country? Were some white portrayed oh so sympathetically, about how they were hiding now in their upscale neighborhoods afraid to go out, amusing themselves with their piano and flute lessons as they made plans to leave the country? How they were applying for passports and pulling their children out of schools in record numbers? Did they seize on this as evidence of how violent South Africa after apartheid had become, about how things were so bad for "South Africans"? Did they write about how whites were being thrown out of their farms and killed while the authorities did nothing? Did they seize upon this as a failure of international policy toward South Africa?

Or, did they pretty much ignore the plight of the erstwhile oppressors in South Africa. Did they celebrate the rise in power of the new mostly black government and write about how well ordered it was and how things were going very well considering. Did they write about how whites were being treated well by the black government while white corpses piled up in the morgues?

I think it was the latter scenario much more than the former. I think that expressing concern for South African whites at all in those days was a good way to evoke a derisive laugh. And yet now, in Iraq, the New York Times and the rest of the mainstream media are on the side of the oppressors. The Sunni occupied the same position under Saddam that the whites did in South Africa under apartheid -- they were privileged, wealthy, able to get an education, get jobs, and do many things that Kurds and Shia were not allowed to do. The Sunni kept the majority in their place by violent means and with laws worse even than those used in South Africa. But it's only the Sunni that the Times now has any sympathy for.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Democratic Party Criticism of the President

Members of the Democratic party have called him the worst President we've ever seen and said that history will judge him harshly for the way in which he has abused power. They have called him a despot, and, in effect, a fascist. They have railed against him for starting a bloody and unnecessary war, which they have called a "failure." They have been critical of what they thought were mistakes in the way the war was conducted. They have accused the President of starting the war over commercial interests rather than over national security. They have criticized the President for illegally overextending the powers of the Presidency, spending money without authorization, telling his generals how to fight the war, unlawfully imprisoning people and mistreating prisoners. They complain that people who criticize the administration are accused of being treasonous or of undermining the war effort. They have been aghast at his use of military tribunals to deal with Americans who he suspected were working for the enemy. When a military veteran ran against him in the contest for his second term in office he was accused of being a chickenhawk who committed people to fight a war when he had never done so himself (even though he served in the state militia he never saw combat.)

This was, of course, President Abraham Lincoln.

Lincoln went a little further than that, though:

Lincoln's policy was to have treasonous federal lawmakers arrested and tried before military tribunals, and exiled or hanged if convicted. Treason, in Lincoln's view, included criticizing his administration on the conduct of the war.

Lincoln had tens of thousands of political opponents in the North arrested, including dozens of opposition newspaper editors.

In one case he had a congressman from Ohio, Clement L. Vallandigham, arrested, tried in a military tribunal, and deported. The congressman's treason was to criticize Lincoln from the floor of Congress for abuse of power.

Lincoln also considered arresting a member of the Supreme Court. So, Lincoln basically intimidated critics in Congress and in the Court into silence for the duration of the Civil War.

It appears that the northern Democrats critical of Lincoln had some legitimate beefs. It's hard to find that out by reading most history books today, though, which should give Democrats today, who are confident that history will see Bush the way they do, some pause.

Al Qaeda Runnin Scared in Iraq

From the Pittsberg Post Gazette:

Zarqawi is running scared. He can no longer hide in urban areas, his people are being turned in when they try that. He can no longer recruit enough suicide bombers. In apparent desperation he is attempting to return to more conventional military tactics with bases in the countryside and organizaed military strikes, but every attempt at this has been an utter disaster for him since it plays to coalition strengths. In the last such exchange 100 Al Qaeda were killed vs 2 Iraq Army and no Americans.

Sunni tribes once supportive of the insurgency have formed the "Anbar Revenge Brigades" to hunt down al-Qaida operatives in the province.

The Anbar Revenge Brigades were formed in response to the assassination of tribal leaders by al-Qaida in a futile effort to keep Sunnis from cooperating with the government.

That this heavy-handed intimidation of erstwhile allies has backfired is indicated by the al-Qaida announcement April 2 that "the Iraqi resistance's high command asked Mr. Zarqawi to give up his political role ... because of several mistakes he made."

Retired Gen. Barry McCaffrey, who served as President Clinton's drug czar and has been sharply critical of the Bush administration's conduct of the war, recently returned from a trip to Iraq.

He concluded: "The foreign jihadist fighters have been defeated as a strategic and operational threat to creation of an Iraqi government."

This opera ain't over, but the fat lady is warming up.

With Al Qaeda mostly gone the insurgents remaining are ex-Baathists who are mainly trying to win consessions from the new government. Many of them or some of them have already entered negotiations with the Iraqi government and the coalition.

New York Times Makes Excuses for Zarqawi

The US military in Iraq recently released a grimly amusing blooper reel of Zarqawi as he fumbles with an automatic weapon, seemingly unable to get it to work.

But the New York Times is quick to jump to Zarqawi's defense. The Times interviewed "former and current" military officers who offer explanations for Zarqawi's difficulty with the weapon -- it's a complicated weapon, Zarqawi's probably not used to it, etc.

The bottom line is that the Times want us to think that Zarqawi really is the ferocious master fighter that he protrays himself to be despite his lack of knowledge of a basic weapon. We really shouldn't be making fun of him, says the Times.

Would that the Times were as charitable in their assessment of our own military leaders and as quick to jump to defend their competence.

Do we imagine that if it were Rumsfeld shown fumbling with the weapon that the Times would be taking pains to explain to us how difficult the weapon is to operate and how we shouldn't be making fun of Rumsfeld just for that?

The truth is that Zarqawi has proven to be just as inept as the video seems to show. Al Qaeda has essentially been defeated in Iraq, unable to do much of anything, having alienated the entire Iraqi population, and Zarqawi's blunders are not the least of the reasons for that.

The cracks in the New York Times' picture of the situation in Iraq are becoming more and more obvious, and the Times, rather than reassess their position, is scambling to paint over the flaws.