Archive for April, 2007


Are we winning in Iraq?

April 30, 2007

One of the hardest things I find in trying to answer that question is squaring what I see and read in the all-is-lost-can’t-you-see-it MSM with missives like this one:

‘I’m Tired’

Two weeks ago, as I was starting my sixth month of duty in Iraq, I was forced to return to the USA for surgery for an injury I sustained prior to my deployment. With luck, I’ll return to Iraq to finish my tour.

I left Baghdad and a war that has every indication that we are winning, t o return to a demoralized country much like the one I returned to in 1971 after my tour in Vietnam. Maybe it’s because I’ll turn 60 years old in just four months, but I’m tired:

I’m tired of spineless politicians, both Democrat and Republican who lack the courage, fortitude, and character to see these difficult tasks through.

I’m tired of the hypocrisy of politicians who want to rewrite history when the going gets tough.

I’m tired of the disingenuous clamor from those that claim they ‘Support the Troops’ by wanting them to ‘Cut and Run’ before victory is achieved.

I’m tired of a mainstream media that can only focus on car bombs and casualty reports because they are too afraid to leave the safety of their hotels to report on the courage and success our brave men and women are having on the battlefield.

I’m tired that so many Americans think you can rebuild a dictatorship into a democracy over night.

I’m tired that so many ignore the bravery of the Iraqi people to go to the voting booth and freely elect a Const itution and soon a permanent Parliament.

I’m tired of the so called ‘Elite Left’ that prolongs this war by giving aid and comfort to our enemy, just as they did during the Vietnam War.

I’m tired of antiwar protesters showing up at the funerals of our fallen soldiers. A family who’s loved ones gave their life in a just and noble cause, only to be cruelly tormented on the funeral day by cowardly protesters is beyond shameful.

I’m tired that my generation, the Baby Boom — Vietnam generation, who have such a weak backbone that they can’t stomach seeing the difficult tasks through to victory.

I’m tired that some are more concerned about the treatment of captives than they are the slaughter and beheading of our citizens and allies.

I’m tired that when we find mass graves it is seldom reported by the press, but mistreat a prisoner and it is front page news.

Mostly, I’m tired that the people of this great nation didn’t learn from history that there is no substitute for Victory.

Joe Repya,
Lieutenant Colonel, U. S. Army
101st Airborne Division

(Via Maverick News Media.)

Which is closer to the truth?

One thing is for sure, I think. If the abandonment of Vietnam was bad, defeat in Iraq will be much worse. So I tip towards LTCOL Repya’s perspective on things: stay on for the long haul, weather the storm, and build for the best possible chance for a reasonable future for Iraq.

But there are no good stories in that. And it’s the stories that count in the courts of public and Congressional opinion.

At this stage I really fear the worst. I think Congress will force termination of the engagement in Iraq, the US will withdraw with its allies, Iraq will implode, and immeasurable loss of life will follow. But no-one, apart from the Iraqis, will care, because once the US is out, the newsworthiness of what happens in Iraq will reduce to all-but-zero — except for an initial spasm of horror-reporting blaming (naturally) the US for the carnage. The TV crews will pull out, the journalists we care about will all go home, and the inevitable slaughter will be, oh well, just another Darfur. Vaguely terrible and all, but nothing we can do about it.

I’d be happy for events to prove me wrong, of course.


New header

April 29, 2007

I’ve changed the header image because the Slovenian streetscape reflected in the waters of the canal below was making me dizzy. So no more hanging upside down in Ljubljana.

The new header is a picture I took in the Museum of the 1944 Uprising in Warsaw.

The dead looking out at the living. Or possibly the other way around.


The Sandmonkey exits

April 29, 2007

One of the best bloggers anywhere is hanging up his boots.

Farewell, Sandmonkey, and keep safe.

Such is the fate of a free spirit in Egypt in these turbulent times.

One of the chief reasons is the fact that there has been too much heat around me lately. I no longer believe that my anonymity is kept, especially with State Secuirty agents lurking around my street and asking questions about me since that day. I ignore that, the same way I ignored all the clicking noises that my phones started to exhibit all of a sudden, or the law suit filed by Judge Mourad on my friends, and instead grew bolder and more reckless at a time where everybody else started being more cautious. It took me a while to take note of the fear that has been gripping our little blogsphere and comprehend what it really means. The prospects for improvment, to put it slightly, look pretty grim. I was the model of caution, and believing in my invincipility by managing not to get arrested for the past 2 and a half years, I’ve grown reckless. Stupid Monkey. Stupid!

Another excellent Egyptian blogger, The Big Pharaoh, has been seen less and less in recent weeks.

These are important, independent voices from the Middle East and they will be sorely and sadly missed.

Both The Sandmonkey and The Big Pharaoh were contributors to the wonderful Good Neighbours blog, a site dedicated to fostering dialogue and understanding across national boundaries in the Middle East.

Update: Pamela at Atlas Shrugs has an interview with The Sandmonkey here.


Vale Mstislav Rostropovich

April 28, 2007

The great Russian master of the cello has died, aged 80.

Here is a moving tribute by Stephen Pollard.

Let ‘Slava’s’ sublime talent speak for itself in one of Bach’s great pieces for solo cello. This was music that Rostropovich single-handedly rescued from obscurity and restored to its rightful position at the top of the cellist’s repertoire.


Israel to embrace SOSE?

April 28, 2007

This article by the excellent Caroline Glick in the Jerusalem Post on the treachery of Arab-Israeli Member of the Knesset Azmi Bishara is significant for many reasons, and deserves a close read. Glick, IMHO, is one of the best journalists writing anywhere in the world today.

But this section in particular caught my eye:

Under the thrall of Oslo and the control of anti-Zionist professors, the Education Ministry quickly began toeing the line. Now led by Yuli Tamir, one of the founders of Peace Now, the ministry last month announced that in accordance with her educational vision, school children will learn fewer facts, since there is no real historic truth.

As Prof. Anat Zohar, the head of the ministry’s pedagogical secretariat put it, “Until now, classrooms didn’t deal with developing thought, only with the transfer of knowledge. Today, with the expected change, the learner will become active. The knowledge will be built in terms of context.”

So since everything is now contextual, there can be no value distinction between the a-historical, false Palestinian narrative and Jewish history.

Oh, no, not Israel too? Australia has been through all this, to its great cost. Only the other day the State governments finally decided to ditch the contextual, fact-deprived course Studies of Society and the Environment (SOSE) from the secondary education curriculum, and re-instate the fact-based disciplines of history, geography and economics in its place.

“Studies of Society and Environment has been criticised by a number of commentators, partly because its focus is not clear from the label,” the report says. “It has become increasingly clear that what should be studied under this label, are the disciplines of history, geography and economics.”

This kind of “education” represents the ultimate trahison des clercs.

Somebody should tell Israel, because it has more to lose from de-legitimising its historical narrative than we do.


Defeatism in Washington

April 28, 2007

Omar at Iraq The Model comments on “the war is lost” rhetoric recently emanating from the Democrat leadership on Capitol Hill:

General Petraeus said yesterday that things will get tougher before they get easier in Iraq. This is the sort of of fact-based, realistic assessment of the situation which politicians should listen to when they discuss the war thousands of miles away.

We must give this effort the chance it deserves. We should provide all the support necessary. We should heed constructive critique, not the empty rhetoric that the ‘war is lost.’

It is not lost. Quitting is not an option we can afford—not in America and definitely not in Iraq.

Read the whole thing.

Further: Democrat defeatism is playing well in the Middle East, as well it might. More here.


Who needs R. Murdoch’s mythical raccoons?

April 27, 2007

…. when you’ve got the Sydney Morning Heralds to do it for you?

An excellent article by Peter Hartcher, the Herald’s political editor, in the SMH this morning:

But perhaps the most celebrated of Blair’s reforms of British Labour was his controversial proposal to overturn Clause IV of the party’s constitution. This was the commitment to the central tenet of socialism, the “common ownership of the means of production, distribution, and exchange”. This clause, drafted in 1917 during World War I by one of the great figures in the Fabian Society, Sidney Webb, was a relic of another world, another era, part of a Utopian vision.

By the time Blair came to abolish it in 1994, it was a discredited leftover from a failed experiment in international socialism and communism. The Cold War was over and the marketplace had proved itself decisively as the only workable allocator of resources in an economy.

And where does this failed idea sit in today’s Australian Labor Party? It sits proudly as the first objective in the party’s national constitution – “the democratic socialisation of industry, production, distribution and exchange”. It is there today and it will still be there when the conference breaks up on Sunday – there is no proposal to remove it.

So much for The Australian having a monopoly on the neo-con trope common sense.