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Preview: NonParty Politics

NonParty Politics

War is evil, but it is often the lesser evil. ~ George Orwell

Updated: 2015-09-17T00:32:16.423-07:00




"Hooper had no illusions about the army – or rather no special illusions distinguishable from the general, enveloping fog from which he observed the universe. He had come to it reluctantly, under compulsion, after he had made every feeble effort in his power to obtain deferment. He accepted it, he said, “like the measles.” Hooper was no romantic. He had not as a child ridden with Rupert’s horse or sat among the camp fires at Xanthus-side; at the age when my eyes were dry to all save poetry- that stoic, red-skin interlude which our schools introduce between the fast flowing tears of the child and the man-Hooper had wept often, but never for Henry’s speech on St. Crispin’s Day, nor for the epitaph at Thermopylae. The history they taught him had had few battles in it but, instead, a profusion of detail about humane legislation and recent industrial change. Gallipoli, Balaclava, Quebec, Lepanto, Bannockburn, Roncevales, and Marathon-these, and the Battle in the West where Arthur fell, and a hundred such names whose trumpet-notes, even now in my sere and lawless state, called to me irresistibly across the intervening years with all the clarity and strength of boyhood, sounded in vain to Hooper."

~Evelyn Waugh, Brideshead Revisited



Never Forget.

The Reckoning

Beyond 911

The Taliban are not moderates


Bob Kerrey in the WSJ:

"Afghanistan is also not Iraq. No serious leader in Kabul is asking us to leave. Instead we are being asked to withdraw by American leaders who begin their analysis with the presumption that victory is not possible. They seem to want to ensure defeat by leaving at the very moment when our military leader on the ground has laid out a coherent and compelling strategy for victory.

"When it comes to foreign policy, almost nothing matters more than your friends and your enemies knowing you will keep your word and follow through on your commitments. This is the real test of presidential leadership. I hope that President Obama—soon to be a Nobel laureate—passes with flying colors."

Ed Morrissey writes in Hot Air:

" The Taliban are not moderates, and they share the same ideological, political, and tactical goals as Osama bin Laden and Ayman al-Zawahiri. Anyone saying anything differently is simply selling a false argument for a dishonorable retreat in the face of our enemies.

Strategic Mistake


Secretary of Defense Robert Gates:

"In a stern warning to critics of a continued troop presence in Afghanistan, Gates said the Islamic extremist Taliban and al-Qaida would perceive an early pullout as a victory over the United States as similar to the Soviet Union's humiliating withdrawal in 1989 after a 10-year war.

''The notion of timelines and exit strategies and so on, frankly, I think would all be a strategic mistake. The reality is, failure in Afghanistan would be a huge setback for the United States,'' Gates said in an interview broadcast Sunday on CNN's ''State of the Union.''

''Taliban and al-Qaida, as far as they're concerned, defeated one superpower. For them to be seen to defeat a second, I think, would have catastrophic consequences in terms of energizing the extremist movement, al-Qaida recruitment, operations, fundraising, and so on. I think it would be a huge setback for the United States.''

8 Years



HBO: The Pacific


HBO has the first preview/trailer of The Pacific. I'm anxious already...

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Terrorists Killing Themselves in Gaza


Christmas has come early:RAFAH, Gaza Strip (Reuters) – Palestinian Islamists Hamas struck back at an al-Qaeda challenge to their hold on the Gaza Strip by storming a mosque in battles that left the leader of the "Warriors of God" splinter group among up to 28 dead.When fighting ended in the town of Rafah early on Saturday, Hamassaid the preacher-physician who led the group and who had proclaimed an al Qaeda-style Islamic "emirate" from a mosque on Friday was dead -- blown up by his own hand along with a Syrian ally and killing a mediator trying to negotiate a truce.Long War Journal has more:Heavy fighting broke out between Hamas and an al Qaeda linked group that called for the creation of an Islamic state in Gaza. Thirteen people, including the leader of both groups' military wings, were reported killed and 85 more were wounded after Hamas attacked following sermon at a mosque in Rafah.Abdel Latif Moussa, the leader of the Jund Ansar Allah, triggered the violent clashes after he said Hamas is insufficiently Islamic and created an Islamic emirate, or state, in Rafah which would eventually spread throughout the Palestinian territories.Moussa, who goes by the name Abu al Nour al Maqdissi, swore allegiance to Osama bin Laden during his controversial Friday sermon, which was attended by several hundred followers. Moussa surrounded himself with five masked gunmen armed with assault rifles; one wore what appeared to be a suicide belt.[...]

Ground Intelligence


FOX News:

According to a number of senior U.S. officials involved in the counterterrorism fight, the strike that killed Mehsud and other recent Predator drone activity in Pakistan's tribal areas indicate that the relationship with a once shaky ally in the war on terror has turned the corner in recent months.

U.S. officials and commanders had been frustrated until recently that Pakistan was not ready to make the leap and share intelligence on where some local Taliban commanders were located, impeding American efforts to eliminate them.

Communications in Afghanistan


Wired and Michael Yon recently wrote about the status of communications for the troops in Afghanistan, sometimes known as "comfort calls."Wired pointed out that for some of the troops, limited access to phone and email back home had some positive effects:Corporal Max Nellis, an Army military policeman stationed here, said that, speaking for himself, he didn’t mind working at such an austere location.“This is great,” he said. “No internet, no [cell] phones, one call a week to my wife. It’s not sarcasm: It makes it a lot easier for me to focus on my job.”Satellite phones and high bandwidth satellite-based internet are an indispensable asset for providing reach back communications to military families in an austere environment. But it comes at a steep price. Michael Yon goes into more detail:Without such a terminal, large numbers of Soldiers, Marines, Airmen and Sailors will be without regular communications for much or most of their time in Afghanistan. The infrastructure is Spartan to non-existent. Life here is tougher than it was in Iraq, and the fighting will be tougher still. Yes, there are the gigantic bases—as in Iraq—where everything is available, but little of the war is being fought from the larger bases.Extended battlefield journalism from Afghanistan is relatively non-existent. Broadly speaking, folks at home will not know how their loved ones are doing unless they can communicate directly. To learn more about the effort to send satellite communications gear to troops downrange, please see Operation AC.[...]

"Livin' the dream, Sir!"


"The U.S. Marines are a spectacle for the U.S. Army and also the British Army. The Marines will come in and live like pure animals, and build a base around themselves, whereas the British and American Armies will tend to build at least part of the base before coming in. One Marine commander told me that during the early part of this war, his men didn’t even shower for three months. We talked for a couple of hours and he was proud that his Marines didn’t need a shower for three months, and that his Marines killed a lot of Taliban and managed to lose only one good man. That’s the Marines. They’ll show up in force with no warning, and their reputation with U.S. Army and Brits who have fought alongside them is stellar. A NPR photographer who just spent more than three weeks with the Marines could not praise them enough, saying he’d been with them in Iraq, too, and that when Marines take casualties, their reaction is to continue to attack. They try to stay in contact until they finish the enemy, no matter how long it takes. Truly they are animals when it comes to the fight. Other than that, great guys. Tonight at dinner, a young Marine Lance Corporal sat in front of me at the crowded dining facility. “Good evening, Sir,” he said. I asked, “Are you living like animals out there?” “Livin’ the dream, Sir!” They are fantastic."

Hope In Afghanistan


"Refugees don’t return to places they don’t think have a future, and more than four million Afghan refugees have returned home since the fall of the Taliban. (By contrast, about the same number of Iraqi refugees fled their homes after the American-led invasion of their country in 2003, and few have returned.) There are also more than two million Afghan kids in schools, including, of course, many girls. Music, kites, movies, independent newspapers, and TV stations—all of which were banned under the Taliban—are now ubiquitous. One in six Afghans now has a cell phone, in a country that didn’t have a phone system under the Taliban. And, according to the World Bank, the 2007 GDP growth rate for Afghanistan was 14 percent. Under Taliban rule the country was so poor that the World Bank didn’t even bother to measure its economic indicators."

Who Needs Kentucky Windage?


iPhone Apps and other weapon accessories at Wired.

"It's not a theocracy anymore"


“It is not a theocracy anymore,” said Rasool Nafisi, an expert in Iranian affairs and a co-author of an exhaustive study of the corps for the RAND Corporation. “It is a regular military security government with a facade of a Shiite clerical system.”



Jeffrey Goldberg:
"Jews are floating around in the Persian Gulf with nuclear weapons in German subs that are aimed at the new Hitler. If you step away from your personal feelings about it, it’s just fascinating."

Has The War In Iraq Helped Germinate A Rebellion In Iran?


" is very hard to overstate the significance of the statement made last Saturday by the Association of Teachers and Researchers of Qum, a much-respected source of religious rulings, which has in effect come right out with it and said that the recent farcical and prearranged plebiscite in the country was just that: a sham event. (In this, the clerics of Qum are a lot more clear-eyed than many American "experts" on Iranian public opinion, who were busy until recently writing about Mahmoud Ahmadinejad as the rough-hewn man of the people.)

Which begs the question...

"...Did the overthrow of the Saddam Hussein regime, and the subsequent holding of competitive elections in which many rival Iraqi Shiite parties took part, have any germinal influence on the astonishing events in Iran? Certainly when I interviewed Sayeed Khomeini in Qum some years ago, where he spoke openly about "the liberation of Iraq," he seemed to hope and believe that the example would spread. One swallow does not make a summer. But consider this: Many Iranians go as religious pilgrims to the holy sites of Najaf and Kerbala in southern Iraq. They have seen the way in which national and local elections have been held, more or less fairly and openly, with different Iraqi Shiite parties having to bid for votes (and with those parties aligned with Iran's regime doing less and less well). They have seen an often turbulent Iraqi Parliament holding genuine debates that are reported with reasonable fairness in the Iraqi media. Meanwhile, an Iranian mullah caste that classifies its own people as children who are mere wards of the state puts on a "let's pretend" election and even then tries to fix the outcome. Iranians by no means like to take their tune from Arabs—perhaps least of all from Iraqis—but watching something like the real thing next door may well have increased the appetite for the genuine article in Iran itself."

"It'd be so great if we took contact"


The Marines In Afghanistan On patrol in the Afghan heat:Sweat pours off faces as Marines shift heavy weapons from one shoulder to the other. Everyone still carries all the ammunition they arrived with in the dark hours of early Thursday, because this unit has not yet exchanged fire.The Marines walk in columns down dusty dirt roads, and every couple dozen steps they bend over at the waist to give aching shoulders a break. During frequent breaks, medics go up and down the line, looking to see if their men are drinking water."It'd be so great if we took contact. We'd lose so much weight," said Lance Corp. Michael Estrada, 20, of Los Angeles.Lance Corp. Bryan Knight, a mortar man, carries one of the heaviest pack. The 21-year-old Cincinnati native weighs a slight 145 pounds (65.8 kilograms) - and his pack almost equals him.He carries a 15-pound (6.8-kilogram) mortar base plate, four mortar rockets that weigh 10 pounds (4.5 kilograms) each, about 15 pounds (6.8 kilograms) of water and another 50 pounds (22.7 kilograms) of combat gear - ammunition, weapon and his flak jacket.Unsurprisingly, he is drenched in sweat. "The only dry parts of my clothes are the pockets," he said.Squatting in a lean-to made out of a camouflage poncho beside Knight was Corp. Aaron Shade, 24, of Greenville, Ohio, who hadn't realized it was Independence Day back home in the U.S.[...]

Bin Laden in America


The New Yorker:
"The question of whether Osama bin Laden has ever visited the United States, a subject on which I have expended an unhealthy amount of energy in the course of various journalistic and biographical research, has now seemingly been settled. Osama was here for two weeks in 1979, it seems, and he visited Indiana and Los Angeles, among other places. He had a favorable encounter with an American medical doctor; he also reportedly met in Los Angeles with his spiritual mentor of the time, the Palestinian radical Abdullah Azzam. All this is according to a forthcoming book by Osama’s first wife, Najwa Bin Laden, and his son Omar Bin Laden, to be published in the autumn by St. Martin’s Press."

Read the rest.

Female Marines


Utilizing female Marines to gather Intelligence:
"The marines have a different attitude towards this. As they put it, "every marine a rifleman." In practice, this means that the majority of marines, who have combat support jobs, continue to get infantry training. So the marines in Iraq called these all-female teams (3-5 women) Lionesses. Again, no shortage of volunteers, as female marines, even more than their sisters in the army, were eager to get into the fight. But that's not what the lioness teams were created for. What the marines had also noticed was that the female marines tended to get useful information out of the women they searched. Iraqi women were surprised, and often awed, when they encountered these female soldiers and marines. The awe often turned into cooperation. Most Iraqi women are much less enthusiastic about fighting the Americans than their men folk (who die in large numbers when they do so.) Being a widow is much harder in the Arab world than it is in the West."

Tyranny Unveiled



The Ayatollahs


"It is a mistake to assume that the ayatollahs, cynical and corrupt as they may be, are acting rationally. They are frequently in the grip of archaic beliefs and fears that would make a stupefied medieval European peasant seem mentally sturdy and resourceful by comparison."

Defiance in Iran



Pictures from Iran


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On Flickr.