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Saturday, January 11, 2003

Victor Davis Hanson -- "Korea Is Not Quite Iraq"

The latest from Dr. Hanson. A sample:
Hypocrisy is not always a bad thing when it is a matter of dealing with nuts with nuclear weapons. Although it is not surprising that both principled critics and cynics should call for sterner action right now against nuclear North Korea than they do against a non-nuclear Iraq, it is hard, after a sorry decade of appeasement, to move precipitously against a rogue nation that could ruin Tokyo or Seoul in a few minutes. The sad truth is that once an outlaw regime possesses nuclear weapons, it wins special consideration as the range of our own countermeasures diminishes ? hence the mad scramble of utterly failed regimes in the post-Cold War era to acquire such expensive weapons in the first place, and in turn the importance not to appease them. Imagine the idea of a Kosovo war had Milosevic had one or two nukes.
Read it.

Friday, January 10, 2003

Short, sweet, and to the point

Well said, Andrea.



Where has the anger gone?

Do you remember...

...when seeing a video rerun of the planes crashing into the WTC stopped making you angry?

...when images from that tangled, hellish pile in Lower Manhattan no longer caused you to grit your teeth and mutter epithets under your breath?

...when a glimpse of that tattered flag, rescued from the debris and lashed to a salvaged flagpole, no longer brought hot tears to your eyes, hot blood to your cheeks, and cold rage to your heart?

...when you saw yet another person tacking a picture of a missing loved one to a wall or a pole or a wooden fence, or holding that picture under their chin with a microphone in their face and thought "Not again! Enough already!"

...when the sight of a crushed fire truck or police car made you think of the wreck you saw on your way to work that day?

What will it take for us to feel that anger again?

And should we?


Equal time for the pro-draft folks

I was fortunate to find this link to an article co-authored by Professor Charles Moskos of Northwestern University. Professor Moskos is prominently mentioned in the Mark Shields article which I discussed here.

What do I think of the Moskos article? From the limited online research I've been able to do, reinstitution of the draft has been a long term project for Professor Moskos, and this article appears to be rehashing of his ideas on the subject, updated to a post-9-11-2001 context. Keeping this in mind, I found the article interesting and well worth the reading time.

I was also to find a couple of online "point-counterpoint" articles where Professor Moskos gives the pro-draft side of the argument. These articles can be found here and here.

Finally, this Stanley Kurtz article is also worth a read, lest anyone think that only anti-war liberals are the only ones theorizing about the need for reinstituting the military draft.

Wednesday, January 08, 2003

Shields buddies up to Rangel

Mark Shields, syndicated columnist and moderator(?) of CNN's The Capital Gang has produced this masterpiece of opinion, supporting Rep. Charles Rangel's proposed legislation to reinstate the military draft. Donald Sensing has already gone through the piece in substantial detail, but I'd like to point out a few things that struck me while and after reading the column.

Says Mr. Shields:
In spite of glowing pronouncements from defense officials, the all-volunteer military (which today has 2.1 million fewer uniformed members than during the Vietnam War) was undermanned even before September 11

...To meet just its current missions, not even considering the "non-crisis" with North Korea, the United States military almost surely needs at least a half million more men under arms. The status quo is unacceptable.
Since I found this admission from someone of Mr. Shields' political persuasion quite astounding, I decided to comb the 'Net for some hard numbers and found this marvelous document (warning: requires Adobe Acrobat Reader) entitled "DoD Active Duty Military Personnel Strength Levels -- Fiscal Years 1950-2002" on this website. To save my readers the trouble of clicking over there, I've extracted the appropriate information for each branch of the armed services for fiscal years 1993 and 2002:

Branch 1993 2002
Army 572,423 486,542
Navy 509,950 385,051
Marines 178,379 173,733
Air force 444,351 368,251
Total 1,705,103 1,413,577

After a little cipherin' on the FogeyAbacus, I was able to determine that there has been a 17.1 percent (nearly 300,000 people) decrease in total active duty manpower from FY 1993 to FY 2002. Those of you who actually clicked over to the DoD website will notice that there was actually an increase in each of the services' manpower levels between 2001 and 2002, but FY 2002's numbers will do well for my purposes.

What's important about these numbers? Knowledgeable readers will remember that the Federal government's fiscal year begins on October 1 and runs through the following September 30, as stated here. FY 1993 started on October 1, 1992, which was approximately one month before the 1992 presidential election and ran until September 30, 1993. FY 2002 began on October 1, 2001 (that's right -- 20 days after the September 11, 2001 attacks) and ran until September 30, 2002. These numbers very neatly bracket the Clinton years, along with the first Bush II year.

If Mr. Shields wants to know why our military is half a million men short of current requirements, the numbers tell the tale. Eight years of the "Man from Hope" left the cupboard a little depleted, didn't it? Instead of cutting forces by 17 percent over that period, we would have needed to increase manpower by 12 percent over the same period to meet today's requirements. Of course, nobody could have predicted what happened on September 11, 2001 though -- could they?

Says Mr. Shields:
"War," writes the conservative scholar Michael Barone, "demands equality of sacrifice." The military today defending our nation is increasingly integrated by race and increasingly segregated by class.

What made the draft work so well and for so long (really until Vietnam), according to Charlie Moskos, is that "America was drafting from the top of the social ladder. For the draft to work in the future, the elite youth will have to serve, too."

FDR's four sons all answered the call during Word War II. Let it be noted that four Harvard graduates with political interests named Kennedy -- Joe, Jack, Bob and Ted -- all served as well.
Mr. Shields is correct about the Roosevelt sons, but he implies that the Kennedy sons served in World War II as well. Well, it's true of three of the Kennedy boys. Joe died on an bombing mission in Europe in 1944. Jack, of course, served bravely in the Navy in the Pacific (remember PT 109?), and Robert is listed as having served in the U.S. Navy Reserve from 1944-1946. But what about Teddy?

According to this biography, Senator Kennedy served in the U.S. Army from 1951-1953. This was, of course, during the time of the Korean War, not World War II. He also served in France and Germany, not Korea. I'm sure things were quite tense in Europe at this time -- with the Cold War and all -- but it was a long way from where the major shooting was going on.

Says Mr. Shields:
Yes, there is an element of mischief in Rangel's advocacy of a new draft. He knows, as do his critics, that a major debate over who ought to fight America's war in Iraq will re-open debate over the war itself.

Charlie Rangel knows that the draft, in addition to restoring a sense of collective duty and common sacrifice, would guarantee that the nation's national interests will be more openly seriously, and vigorously, debated.

No more think tank commandos and Capitol Hill "heroes" free to urge a policy of military escalation with no personal, or familial, participation. It might even spare us some of the swaggering tough-guy talk about "cake walks" in Iraq from those who, themselves, used every quasi-legal loophole and doctor's excuse imaginable to avoid putting their own necks in harm's way.

Charlie Rangel is doing his best to make the rest of us, including President George W. Bush, realize that war is not and cannot be a spectator sport, where the nation's advantaged elites and their children, at a safe remove, look on, while fellow citizens they do not know -- and will never meet -- do the fighting ad the dying.
Here is the crux of the entire Rangel argument. Since the children of the "elite" do not serve voluntarily in the military, their decision-making parents are free to throw other people's kids into the combat meat-grinder, knowing that their "elite" families will not be affected.

This argument, in a word, is vile. Mr. Rangel and Mr. Shields are impugning the character of hundreds, if not thousands, of civilian government officials and military commanders, along with millions of voters who vote for elected officials who support the current volunteer military.

What they are hoping to do is to frighten the American people by threatening to hold their teenage sons hostage to the whims of madmen like Saddam Hussein, Osama bin Laden, and Kim Jong Il. They hope that by compelling a generation of American boys to face military service, they will pressure the parents of those boys to vote against politicians who think we should take military action against those madmen, and those that come after them.

They are looking to split this nation at a time of crisis, just as it was split in 1861, over differing philosophies on how our government should conduct its affairs.

To them, it's a win-win situation for their side. If they reinstate the draft, the American body politic will split and there will be no war. If they can't reinstate the draft and our military affairs overseas bog down, they can say "See, we told you that we need more men." No matter the result, they will be right, in their own eyes.

It's a chance for the left to get back into the national-security debate. The ultimate "wedge issue"....

But they forget...

On September 11, 2001, the war came home to America. And our world changed...

It's time to unite, not divide. It's time to move forward into the future and not be haunted by the ghosts of the past.

It's time to act, not cower.

And it's time to pray for and seek true wisdom, rather than yield to our fears.


Rumsfeld and Myers respond to Rangel draft bill

Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld and General Richard B. Myers, Chairman, Joint Chiefs of Staff responded to questions from reporters concerning Rep. Rangel's legislation to reinstate the military draft.

Secretary Rumsfeld:
We're not going to reimplement a draft. There is no need for it at all. The disadvantages of using compulsion to bring into the armed forces the men and women needed are notable
General Myers:
we feel the all-volunteer force is working extremely well; that it's efficient, it's effective, it's given the United States of America, the citizens of this great country, a military that is second to none. And as the secretary said, it's because people want to serve.
'Nuff said. And amen....


Rangel introduces bill to bring back the draft

Rep. Charles Rangel (D-NY) has introduced legislation to reinstate the military draft, as he had stated he would do. Here is what appears to be the "sound bite" of choice from Rep. Rangel:
"Those who love this country have a patriotic obligation to defend this country," Rangel said. "For those who say the poor fight better, I say give the rich a chance."
In case you hadn't noticed, Congressman, the rich already have a chance to fight. Some of them have already volunteered. What you want, Congressman, is to compel them to fight, not to "give them a chance".

And by the way, Congressman, are you implying that anyone who hasn't already volunteered or who won't volunteer to defend this country is not patriotic -- that they do not love this country?

I'll bet a lot of folks over here will be surprised to hear that they don't love their country. But they'll understand, Congressman. They, like us, know that you are just blowing a lot of hot air to get folks all stirred up.

Next time, Congressman, make sure the hot air comes out of your mouth and not the other end.

Monday, January 06, 2003

Eye on Edwards page

Apparently, my hometown newspaper, the Raleigh News & Observer is planning to devote a special page on its web site to the Presidential candidacy of our soon-to-be-senior U.S. Senator, John Edwards.

It'll be interesting to see if the "News & Disturber", as it's referred to around here, will make this site anything more than a puff site for Edwards.

Any good candidate needs a good nickname, though. I was thinking -- since the blogosphere Democrats are so fond of calling Bill Clinton the "Big Dog", why not continue the tradition for Edwards and call him the "Big Shark". After all, he was a pretty high profile personal-injury attorney before he ran for the Senate.

"Big Shark". I like it...


It's official

According to Fox News Channel, the hospital ship USNS Comfort left Baltimore today to head to the Gulf region. I hope they don't get too much business over there.


Can you spell C-L-U-E-L-E-S-S?

I'm not sure whether this article, from north of the border, is serious or satirical. Here's a sample:
Do the Americans even use soldiers any more? I am not aware that any significant number died in the last war with Iraq. Plus it is hard to worry about people dying when they have applied for a job where a willingness to die is the main qualification. Now that soldiers aren't expected to snuff it, I don't know what defines a good soldier anymore.
I guess she missed all of the news stories concerning the 532,000 U.S. service personnel that served in the Gulf war. Not to mention the nearly 60,000 personnel already in the Gulf for this tussle with the Mad Moustache.
The Americans have drones now, the pilotless planes that target individual enemies. They have missiles so guided that you should never quite trust reports that they hit a certain Chinese embassy by accident. The technology is extraordinary; one has the impression that jittery dopes like Schmidt are just getting in the way. Spy planes can read my dinner menu. Technology speeds past the grunts who are nominally in charge.
Ain't technology wonderful? We see the bad guys, but the bad guys don't see us. Until it's too late...
The disappearance of soldiers in modern warfare is painful to observe. In the new history of Gallipolli by L.A. Carlyon, here are the good soldiers of the First World War, men with a hand shot off throwing grenades with their other hand, boys with half a face left doing their best to sing Tipperary, generals referred to battle as "blooding the pups."
Oh, I get it now. The good soldiers are the bleeding ones. I guess the Iraqi Republican Guard had a lot of good soldiers on the highway to Basra in the last Gulf War. It's a shame they're not around to teach the current troops how to emulate their example.

You gotta read this one for yourself. After you get done wiping the tears of mirth from your eyes, head over to Trevalyan's place to see his takedown of this piece.

(Thanks to Emperor Misha I and Rachel Lucas for the link.)


Fathers and sons

Here are two more articles from military dads that are worth reading:

My heart on the line
Felipe, U.S. Marine

While they put their lives on the line for us, let's make sure that we are worth the price.

They think so.

Don't let them down.

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