selenite0: (Karl with beard and hat)
I've started a new journal for my political posts at [livejournal.com profile] libertarianhawk. [livejournal.com profile] selenite will continue for my posts on my personal life, technology, and gaming.

Plus the occasional silly meme, of course.
selenite0: (Hawk)
Iraq's gone through another vote. The most remarkable thing seems to be how few terrorist attacks there were on the polls, and how ineffective they were. The constitution isn't that big a deal for me, though. Any set of rules can only be as good as the people implementing them. So the elections for a new government in December will be what decides whether Iraq is headed for a rough democracy or a different tyranny.

I did stumble across a good piece of news on that front. The IRI did a survey in Iraq to predict the turn-out and support for the constitution. They also asked "Thinking about the referendum scheduled for October, who will have the most influence on your choice?" Only a third of the people listed "Religious figures" as their first or second choice. So if secular influences are already that widespread we can breathe a little easier about Iraq coming under sharia law.
selenite0: (Hawk)
Okay, I'm a wargamer as a hobby. I recognize there's a lot of athletic competition metaphors that work well with war. And game theory has lots of applications to war.

But I still find it very strange that the NY Times is putting Iraq war news on the sports page.

BTW, read the article. Good account of US troops working with the new Iraqi forces.
selenite0: (Hawk)
Warblogger Donald Sensing bid farewell to his son, Lance Cpl. Stephen Sensing, as his unit deployed to Iraq.

My son and his fellows are producers of freedom, not mere consumers of it. And those who only consumed freedom will one night lie in their beds and think themselves accursed that they didn’t serve with them.

Good luck, and good hunting, Marine.
selenite0: (Looked so good on paper)
Safer Vehicles for Soldiers: A Tale of Delays and Glitches

The NYT is covering the saga of trying to get better vehicles for the troops in Iraq. The interesting part to me is what they left out--namely, why has the procurement process become so horribly cumbersome? The article considers it a force of nature, or an accidental by-product. Nope.

Every problem in there is a product of a Congressman trying to bring pork barrel dollars to his constituents while keeping them from going to another Congressman's district. All of those things--extra tests, drawn out selections, delays in payments--come from laws passed by Congress. Pentagon bureaucrats can work around some of the obstacles, but they know a Congressional committee will call them in front of the TV cameras for a whipping when something goes wrong. And something will. New system development is always error-prone, wars are even more so.

So how do we fix it? Simple. Give the people in charge of procurement the authority to make decisions, access to the people who know what's needed, and forgiveness for the inevitable percentage of mistakes they'll make. Even if that means a contract goes to the district of a junior Congressman of the minority party, or even ::SHUDDER:: buy it from foreigners. All that's needed is for Congress to pass one law giving up their ability to grab pork from the defense budget.

Or maybe the pork will fly away on its own.
selenite0: (Hawk)
Al Qaeda reports Zarqawi is wounded, requests prayers.

Glad to oblige.

Lady Morrigan, if it's not too much trouble, could you deliver this man to his richly deserved punishment? Thank you.
selenite0: (Hawk)
Leashgirl's court martial has been making headlines, but the Army has been dealing with those actually responsible for what happened at Abu Ghraib. Here's the scoreboard:

Demoted: One general, from BG to colonel.
This is a tremendous punishment in the military--it required personal approval from the president.

Discharged: One captain, one 2nd lieutenant.
Since this is "other-than-honorable" they're not just losing their jobs but also picking up conviction that will seriously restrict future employment. Oh, if they were active duty they may be losing their house as well as their job.

Awaiting Court Martial: Three captains, two 1st lieutenants, two chief warrant officers.
These are guys either unwilling to plea bargain or about to receive punishment worse than they could get in one. Probably the latter.

Article 15: One colonel, two lt. colonels, one major, one captain, one 1st lieutenant.
This is the "plea bargain." You accept punishment rather than go to a court martial.

Letter of reprimand: Two lt. colonels, two majors, five captains, one 1st lieutenant, one 2nd lieutenant.
This is probation, effectively. No direct impact, but it probably trashes their chances of getting promoted again. So for any of them active duty they'll probably be on the street in a few years.

The court martials may be handing out prison time to the worst. The rest seems reasonable for severe negligence. It's certainly going to make it clear to the rest of the officer corps that they will be responsible for what the troops do on their watch.
selenite0: (Default)
I started crying yesterday as I saw the news coming in from Iraq (and scared the heck out of [livejournal.com profile] celticdragonfly until I got "Good news" through my choked throat). It's the pictures of the Iraqis who voted that got to me. These people know that Zarqawi proclaimed that anyone participating in the election was an apostate and marked for death. But they're not just voting, they're letting their pictures be taken so the whole world can see they voted, daring the enemy to come get them. I think these people aren't going to be satisfied with just voting once. My optimism about the future of the experiment feels a lot more justified now.

I'm still not as optimistic as Robert Wright's latest piece in the NYT. He's convinced me that the forces of history favor freedom, but it's not going to happen if we sit back and wait for history to bring it to us on a platter. It takes lots of hard work to create freedom, lots more than creating a slight-improved dictatorship. History supports that by giving big rewards to free people. But that doesn't make the first step any easier. It takes hard decisions, hard work, and a willingness to take great risks. As those voters did.
selenite0: (anvil)
The folks at Winds of Change pointed out New Orleans has a higher homicide rate than Iraq. Clearly we're going to have to send more troops to Louisiana to get things under control. Probably at least an infantry division. Actually getting things stable enough allow free and fair elections might take more . . .



(hat tip to [livejournal.com profile] snippy)
selenite0: (anvil)
In a post-election post [livejournal.com profile] jfoxdavis said "I firmly believe that there is sufficient evidence to hound him from office for the lies that he told about WMDs and Iraqi connections to Al-Qaeda." I replied "I'll stand by the WMDs and terrorist connections, and cheerfully produce evidence for it." Over IM a few days later we discussed it.

Cut for the blood pressure of the overwhelming majority who've had their fill of this argument already )
selenite0: (Default)
The next round of our debate )
selenite0: (Default)
Log of a debate over IM )
selenite0: (Default)
The great experiment is going full speed ahead. Now there's an Iraqi government holding real power. Not that they can tell the US troops what to do, but that puts them in the same boat as South Korea. That's a hopeful comparison for me. South Korea is another example of a devastated country with no tradition of democracy becoming a free nation.

The Iraqis have been taking a lot more responsibility for running the infrastructure of the country as the CPA wound down. Now they've got the whole thing. Allawi can act more decisively than any American could, knowing he's not an occupier and the Iraqis will give him the benefit of the doubt instead of distrusting his motives or simply rejecting him as an "infidel." He's made it clear he's going to use that ability to crack down on the terrorists and hold elections as early as possible. I wish him luck. There's a lot of people willing to die to make Iraq either a Sunni-ruled dictatorship or a sharia-law theocracy (with some overlap between the two).

I suspect I'm going to see a lot of news stories about major screw-ups by the Iraqis presented as "See! They're incompetent! The whole effort is doomed!" I'll be pretty happy if anything goes right. There's no way for people to learn how to do a job other than actually doing it and that means mistakes. The US government has been at it a lot longer the the Iraqis and the best I hope for in any government project is for the feds to make an even number of mistakes so they might cancel out. Plus a lot of "mistakes" will probably be the results of enemy attacks. That's the problem with war. You can have a perfect plan and the enemy can trash it in a heartbeat by coming up with a new idea. You just have to keep coming up with new ideas or keep slugging it out until the other side folds.

The US was once in the position Iraq is now. Ben Franklin said we had a republic "if we can keep it." The Iraqis have a republic, and a lot of people are trying to take it from them. If they can keep it, if young Iraqis can grow up knowing they can make their own choices, then the Middle East will have a better tomorrow and we'll have averted a catastrophe worse than the world has ever seen before. That means we have to keep helping them as much as we can to make it happen. The costs in lives and cash may be more than we've lost so far but to get this far and give up--running away or leaving them to the criminals and incompetents of the United Nations--would not just dishonor those who died to get us here but guarantee a grimmer future for Iraq, for America, and the for the world as a whole.
selenite0: (Default)
Bush's plan for winning the war.

Okay, I like this one. I'll keep reading Kerry's speeches to see if he can top it.

Argh

May. 5th, 2004 04:04 pm
selenite0: (Default)
I'm seriously pissed at the @#$%s at Abu Gharib who've been abusing Iraqis. They knew better. But I saw the silver lining that this could be a nice illustration of how our system is different--people who do bad things are exposed and punished, instead of protected and rewarded. That's how Bush was explaining it in his public statements. Except he's the commander in chief . . . which means his statements can be interpreted as an order to the jury members of the court martials to deliver a guilty verdict. In military law that's "improper command influence" and gives the accused a potential "get out of jail free" card. Argh. Argh. Argh.
selenite0: (Default)
Saddam is captured without a fight, hiding in a hole, not the least willing to be a martyr. This is a great day for the people of Iraq. Without finding Saddam he would always be their Jack the Ripper--a mysterious figure of fear. Now he's exposed as weak and old. The bogeyman's shrunk in the light. The wreckers he led will have their last spasms and then fade away.

Now more Iraqis can step forward to help build their land into a free country. And when they're done the world will have more good neighbors and fewer terrorists, and we'll be closer to the end of this global war.

A great day for Iraqis. A good day for free people. A bad day for the Islamofascists wanting to restore the Caliphate. And a terrible day for those who want tyrants to be free to practice their atrocities.

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