11. October 2023 · Comments Off on The New Pogrom · Categories: Fun With Islam, Iran, War

I think the reason that last Saturday’s massacre in Israel hits so close to the nerve of Americans like my daughter and I, is because we can look at the pictures and video of the victims and the aftermath and see ourselves. My daughter and I look at pictures of the blood-spattered crib and the baby carrier and see Wee Jamie. Hear him crying in pain and bewilderment. We see pictures of the pleasant little houses, the tree-planted neighborhoods targeted by the Hamas savages, and see our own neighborhood, as a bullet-riddled, blood-spattered smoking ruin. I look at pictures of the audience at the all-night music rave, and see my daughter among them, dancing with her friends and having fun, the next minute dragged away dead, or for treatment that used to be described as worse than death. My daughter can look at me or consider her memories of her bed-ridden invalid grandmother, and readily imagine either or both of us cut down mercilessly … and the murderers recording the whole bloody cruelty for posting to social media for the approval and cheers of their friends.

This is an organized and sponsored pogrom the cruelty and viciousness of which hasn’t been seen since medieval times, although the Nazis and Imperial Japanese certainly did their best in Europe and China within the living memory of elderly people still alive today.

Eventually whoever was responsible in the Israeli intelligence and defense organizations for last weekend’s failure will be identified and chastened. The Gaza strip will be a sea of bouncing, smoking rubble, regardless. Whichever state actor – looking at you, Iran – aided and abetted will likewise have some kind of retaliation meted out to them. I am also pretty certain that those Hamas operatives who were braggart and foolish enough to be videotaped or photographed on social media with recognizable faces will also be identified, as has various Antifa dirtbags here in the US were identified by the weaponized autistics of 4-Chan. I am certain that in coming days we will be treated to a succession of adorable dirty-faced moppets rescued from bombed buildings, and poor abaya-clad women of certain age wailing about their ruined home. I am also certain that members of the Greatest Generation vaguely regretted the necessities of war which meant scenes of adorable dirty-faced Japanese moppets rescued from the ruins of their homes, or the good German frauen lamenting the ruins of their cottage or apartment in Berlin or Hamburg. But we couldn’t then allow Nazi Germany or Imperial Japan to continue as they were. Neither can Israel continue living with the proven threat posed by Hamas in Gaza. (Or anywhere else.)

The Gaza strip will be a sea of bouncing rubble. Any country, not just Israel can’t endure the cruelty of what happened last Saturday morning. A long time ago, I would have felt sorry for the residents of Gaza. They wasted every chance, every opportunity to be a combination of Singapore, the Maldives, and the Marbella of that corner of the Mediterranean. Yes, they lost a war in 1947, a war they didn’t expect to lose, but hey … ask Japan, Germany, Argentina, the southern US or Mexico how it feels to lose a war that they all thought was in the bag. A lovely stretch of coast, with marvelous beaches, which could have drawn free-spending tourists and vacationers all across Europe, even day-trippers from Israel and Egypt itself. Such wasted potential, potential sabotaged by poisonous rage and resentment. Bernard Lewis wrote years ago, an explanation for Muslim rage and envy. Everything that Allah promised good observant Muslims seemed to have been withheld from them – and lavished upon the unbelievers. Riches, power, happy successful societies, military might, beautiful women dancing the night away at an outdoor concert … all of that. Muslims must look around, and see that almost without exception, strictly Muslim-ruled countries were pits of dysfunctional, wretched despair and poverty. And so, they raged and went rabid-mad.
Since last weekend, there have been a number of organizations and individuals pledging their true allyship and support of Hamas and the Palestinians – looking at you, BLM. I can only assume that these people and groups are perfectly OK with mass murder of defenseless audiences at an outdoor concert, slaughtering families wholesale, decapitating babies and gang-raping women until they hemorrhage. Good of you to let us all know where you stand, and what you stand for. Noted.
(Although a number of individuals have walked back from such statements of support for Hamas. I’d like to think that they realized how awful it made them look, personally, but suspect such regrets may have more to do with employers declining current or future employment.)
Discuss as you wish, and have the heart.

05. January 2021 · Comments Off on The Twilight Zone · Categories: Ain't That America?, Fun With Islam, History, Iran, Media Matters Not, Politics, Rant

Well, it appears that the mullahcracy in Iran is still steamed over the death of their military mastermind Quassam Soleimani, the chief of so-called Quds Force – sort of the Iranian SS, I have always thought. On the one-year anniversary of that momentous drone-zap (a consummation quite overdue in my opinion) the president of Iran directly threatened the life of President Trump. Talk is cheap, and Iranian threats of dire revenge are the equivalent of those teeny and nearly worthless Spanish 1-peseta coins, which were struck from aluminum in the early 1990s, about the size of a child’s fingernail and looked like nothing so much as doll money. But still … the militant Muslims of Iran are certainly dedicated and determined sufficiently to have racked up any number of lesser-known and less-protected hits, so I wouldn’t be surprised at all if this was something more than just tough talk for the benefit of their domestic audience and fans of Islamic mayhem in other countries.

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10. January 2020 · Comments Off on When Doom Comes a’ Calling · Categories: Ain't That America?, Fun With Islam, History, Iran, Iraq, Media Matters Not, Military

(I started this post last weekend – but real life and a new book project intervened. Consider this a footnote to Trent T.’s post, here.)

Well, it certainly came a’calling for Iran’s General Qasem Soleimani last week, Middle Eastern time. Nothing left but bits of scrap metal and meat, and a bruised hand with a large ring on it. Kind of fitting for the guy who perfected the fine art of IEDs, and brought so much business to the developers of artificial limbs for those survivors of that deadly art. As the satirist Tom Leher noted, so many decades ago, and in a slightly different context,

“Some have harsh words for this man of renown, But some think our attitude Should be one of gratitude, Like the widows and cripples in old London town Who owe their large pensions to Werner von Braun.”

So it seems that the late General Soleimani will not be missed … not missed much by an assortment of parties in Iran, the Middle East, Israel, and US State Department employees across the world, some of whom posted their congratulations in the first blog reports that I saw first thing. The Daughter Unit reports that most of the veteran social media participants were absolutely fizzing with glee, as were apparently Iranian anti-mullacracy exile communities across the world. Considering that the late General S. had a hand in nearly four decades of Islamic violence (violence which racked up casualties in the thousands, and which did include American troops), across the Middle East and was about to take a hand in fomenting some more in Iraq last week, he will definitely not be missed.

The remote pilot of the drone which dropped our final farewell gift upon him didn’t miss, either, although to read the Twitter caterwauling laments of Hollywood idiots like Rose McWhatserface is nearly enough to make one upchuck. The trauma of being sexually molested by a creep like Harvey Weinstein obviously blotted from what remains of her tiny mind the reality of things like … umm, Iran’s forty-year jihad against the US, beginning with overrunning our embassy in Teheran and keeping staff, employees and casual American visitors to said embassy captive for more than a year? In the old days, an attack on a foreign embassy counted as declaring war. It fries me no end that the Teheran embassy thing happened so long ago that I was in my first Air Force enlistment, and my daughter was born a couple of months later. That’s how long we’ve been waiting for anything like an appropriate response.

And Jimmy Carter was such a clueless, limp-dcked, Saudi-loving, anti-Semitic wimp that he couldn’t even countenance the appropriate response, which should rightfully have been along the lines of – “Release our people and vacate our embassy (and clean up the mess as you go) or various essential real estate of yours will become slightly radioactive glass. Counting down… three … two…” THAT response would have spared us all – especially in the Middle East – decades of trouble, but morons like failed novelist Ben Rhodes certainly wouldn’t grasp that point, being twenty something, or perhaps older now, and still dealing with equally educated idiots. And as for ostensibly American news media painting, certain celebs and politicians painting the late General in romantic shades of “able soldier, handsome charismatic leader, an inspiration to his troops, austere poet, snappy dresser and all-around-good-fellow…” People, do you have any comprehension of how that makes you appear to the rest of us? It’s as of you are lamenting and condemning the death of Reinhold Heydrich, who was also cultured, handsome, a charismatic leader, et cetera, et cetera – and every but as much a murderous a*hole as Qasem Soleimani. Is this truly what you wish to embrace, and to appear to the rest of us as a sympathizer of? Discuss as you wish, and add any insights.

01. January 2018 · Comments Off on On the Protests Sweeping Iran… · Categories: Fun With Islam, Iran, Media Matters Not

Which, naturally, we are hearing little about from our Dear National News Media. This article explains why.

23. June 2009 · Comments Off on Hot Time, Summer in the City · Categories: General, Iran, Media Matters Not, Politics

Hot town, summer in the city
Back of my neck getting burnt and gritty
Been down, isn’t it a pity
Doesn’t seem to be a shadow in the city

All around, people looking half dead
Walking on the sidewalk, hotter than a match head

The irony, my god the irony, so dense and thick it practically drops through the earths’ crust and heads straight for the core; that injured anti-administration protesters in the streets of Tehran are being encouraged to take shelter in various foreign embassies. And I daresay that ours would have been one of them, that is, if we still had a functioning embassy in the Iranian capital. And always assuming that our State Department would have grown a pair and decided to do the decent thing – always a bit of a stretch as far as Foggy Bottom is concerned, admittedly.

One gathers that it’s not that any of those who were running for office in the contested Iranian election were expected to be much of an improvement – just the best of a bad lot, and maybe someone just a little bit less worst. And one way and another the same-old-same-old ritual shouts of ‘death to America, death to the Jews’ and sadly, the funding of Islamic militants like Hezbollah would continue without much diminution, regardless of who among the mullahs was really in charge.

That being said, it’s hard to watch some of the video, and read some of the tweets, emails and blog-posts filtering out of Iran and not feel some sort of instinctive sympathy for the outrage of citizens, upon seeing an election being casually, openly stolen, and having their very understandable outrage and objections over this unfortunate turn of events being dismissed by a grubby little thug, essentially saying: “I won.” (The corollary being, “You’d better sit down and shut up about it, you unpatriotic and ignorant little gits – we know what is best for you!) And then, adding injury to insult, to be set upon – once again – by foreign bullies with clubs … well, as I said, the irony of it all. And not just that particular irony, but that word and image of this is filtering out through cellphones and twitter, through email and all the rest of the electronic volunteer citizen’s media … not with press releases and statements from the usual suspects, and press conferences where the usual anointed spokesperson stand up in front of the anointed and properly gilded media representatives (oops, I nearly said gelded… well, that’s what living in Texas will do to you, straight to the biological, domesticated-animal comparisons). The spontaneous, real-time, real-life video is heartbreaking; the evidence of what happens when citizens reach their limit and are pushed beyond it … yes, the bad little lizard part of my brain is wondering what would happen if the penalties for loudly protesting in the streets (or on the sidewalks of the city) involved out-of-town thugs with clubs and permission to beat the heck out of whomever they feel like beating up.

And what if it began to happen here?

30. May 2008 · Comments Off on SNIRK! · Categories: Fun With Islam, General Nonsense, Iran, Politics

Robert Ferrigno on Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.  Usually I hope that Robert is just kidding.  In this case, I hope he’s not.

25. June 2007 · Comments Off on Winds of War · Categories: A Href, General, Iran

Interesting article in this morning’s OpinionJournal.com. It’s not all that different from points that our very own Sgt Mom has made, on occasion.

The article, written by Joshual Muravchik, a resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute, is titled: Winds of War: Iran is making a mistake that may lead the Middle East into a broader conflict. It looks at recent actions by Iran and compares them to actions that have occurred at other points in history – actions that led to two world wars and other, “lesser” conflicts.

Several conflicts of various intensities are raging in the Middle East. But a bigger war, involving more states–Israel, Lebanon, Syria, Iran, the Palestinian Authority and perhaps the United States and others–is growing more likely every day, beckoned by the sense that America and Israel are in retreat and that radical Islam is ascending.
Consider the pell-mell events of recent weeks.

Two important inferences can be distilled from this list. One is that the Tehran regime takes its slogan, “death to America,” quite seriously, even if we do not. It is arming the Taliban, with which it was at sword’s point when the Taliban were in power. It seems to be supplying explosives not only to Shiite, but also Sunni terrorists in Iraq. It reportedly is sheltering high-level al Qaeda figures despite the Sunni-Shiite divide. All of these surprising actions are for the sake of bleeding the U.S. However hateful this behavior may be to us, it has a certain strategic logic: “The enemy of my enemy is my friend.”


A large portion of modern wars erupted because aggressive tyrannies believed that their democratic opponents were soft and weak. Often democracies have fed such beliefs by their own flaccid behavior.


Israel could handle Hamas, Hezbollah and Syria, albeit with painful losses all around, but if Iran intervened rather than see its regional assets eliminated, could the U.S. stay out?

With the Bush administration’s policies having failed to pacify Iraq, it is natural that the public has lost patience and that the opposition party is hurling brickbats. But the demands of congressional Democrats that we throw in the towel in Iraq, their attempts to constrain the president’s freedom to destroy Iran’s nuclear weapons program, the proposal of the Baker-Hamilton commission that we appeal to Iran to help extricate us from Iraq–all of these may be read by the radicals as signs of our imminent collapse. In the name of peace, they are hastening the advent of the next war.

Read the whole thing, and tell us what you think. Does Muravchik make sense, or is he all wet? In either case, where do we go from here?

29. March 2007 · Comments Off on Resist By All Means Available · Categories: Fun With Islam, General, GWOT, Iran, Pajama Game, War

From our POW Code of Conduct

“….I will never surrender of my own free will. If in command, I will never surrender the members of my command while they still have the means to resist. If I am captured, I will continue to resist by all means available. I will make every effort to escape and aid others to escape. I will accept neither parole nor special favors from the enemy. If I become a prisoner of war, I will keep faith with my fellow prisoners. I will give no information or take part in any action which might be harmful to my comrades. If I am senior, I will take command. If not, I will obey the lawful orders of those appointed over me and will back them up in every way. When questioned, should I become a prisoner of war, I am required to give name, rank, service number, and date of birth. I will evade answering further questions to the utmost of my ability. I will make no oral or written statements disloyal to my country and its allies or harmful to their cause.”

This code of conduct was created and adapted for all the American services in the wake of the Korean War, when American (and other nationalities) POWs were both brutally mistreated and exploited for propaganda purposes by their captors. While some service personnel may be a trifle foggy on the exact requirements of the Geneva Convention until the need for familiarity with those conventions floats up to the top of their personal “to-do” duty requirements, the POW code of conduct is branded on our consciousness. Well, that and the bitter knowledge that the last military opponent of ours who paid anything like strict attention to Geneva Convention requirements when applying them to captured American service personnel were the Germans in WWII.

So, we have quietly gotten our heads around a couple of facts, one of the most important being the brutal reality that Americans best not surrender. The odds of surviving long enough for the International Red Cross to make that all-important visit to verify your well-being are practically non-existent. Snuff videos made available through various pro-fundamentalist Islamic media throughout Middle East make it pretty damn clear that no surrender in the first place may be the most viable career option.

Even if a prisoner is lucky, and the market for death-porn is flooded, the odds of being used as a hostage, and paraded like a puppet in front of the video cameras are pretty much a given. Exactly how far one can or ought to go in resisting this kind of exploitation is a judgment call. Admiral James Stockdale, as the senior American POW in North Vietnam chose to mutilate himself rather than be paraded in public for propaganda purposes, and threatened suicide if the North Vietnamese continued to continue torturing other POWs.

Pvt. Patrick Miller, of the 507th Maintenance Company was taken prisoner during the dash into Iraq in 2003, (at the same time as Pvt. Jessica Lynch) and was one of the five surviving members of his unit paraded on Iraqi television. I remember seeing the clip of the five on the news, and thought that he was the only one of them who seemed to be defiant. He answered back with his name and rank, and looked like he was about to spit into the camera, even if he and the others were entirely at the mercy of Saddam Hussein’s goons. In the long run, ones’ response to the extreme of captivity and threatened (or actual torture) depends on training, and maturity. But sometimes it depends on strength of character, and maybe a large lashing of stubborn bloody-mindedness, which are harder to predict in advance and inculcate with training. But I digress. I have a point, and I am getting to it.

This week, it’s the fifteen British sailors and Marines, taken by Iranian goons, and paraded in front of cameras, while Tony Blair and the British media agonize over how to react, what should have been done, and what can be done to get them back without loosing any national self-respect, and their families try and maintain a stiff upper lip under the hot searchlight of media interest.

It pretty much looks like it was deliberate and well-planned, done expressly for the purposes of getting hostages to toy with, probably with an eye for a prisoner exchange, and building up their image internally. They announced their intentions to kidnap coalition personnel some weeks ago, but at this point in the war, American personnel are probably just too damn hard to catch unawares. So, go for the easily gathered harvest, and drag it out as long as possible. I am afraid that if it drags on for a long time, as long as the Teheran embassy hostage crisis that it will become as much of a political hot potato. I can see the Blair government in a cleft stick; having neither the means or the will to respond with gunboats, or the 21st century equivalent. Being that the war in Iraq is resoundingly unpopular (as near as I can judge from a distance) I wonder if there is any stomach for that kind of response anyway. And while the diplomatic alternative grinds slowly away, over weeks and months, and the hostages families fret and worry, and the national media pounds away, involvement in the coalition may become even less popular. Getting the hostages freed may come to seem to be such an overwhelmingly good thing that no one will care very much about the price paid for such an end.

I hope that there is a Stockdale, or a Miller among the captured British sailors and Marines. I hope that they are not being tormented, as Admiral Stockdale was, at the hands of the North Vietnamese… and I hope that they are resisting as best they can, for the sake of their own self-respect as members of a proud military with a long tradition of defiance and resistance to captivity. I hope they will return knowing in their hearts that they held to the code, and to their comrades, and never in their hearts surrendered.

(Also posted at Blogger News Network)

23. March 2007 · Comments Off on Iran Hostage Crisis Redoux · Categories: Fun With Islam, General, Iran, Rant, War

Not a good feeling about all this. Will the British let themselves be played for 444 days, like we were, after the Teheran embassy was overrun? Are we prepared for another long series of staged demonstrations and photo ops, fruitless diplomatic wrangling, a ceaseless media circus, yellow ribbons around the old oak tree, and an assortment of clueless do-gooders making their way to Teheran on their knees, and making sure their good side is to the camera? Five will get you ten, George Galloway already has his bag packed.

So, is this a calculated move from the highest levels in response to the alleged defection/kidnapping of a top Iranian military man a couple of a weeks ago, or just some ambitious and impulsive underling taking a chance and seeing how far he can go?

How far will the Iranians go? How far will the British go? Will Ahmedinajad still be admitted to the US on his way to address the UN? How many of the UN members will break out the old knee-pads and kneel down before him, metaphorically speaking.

Ladies and gentlemen, place your bets, please. I have a feeling it is going to get kinda interesting.

(Also posted at Blogger News Network… and corrected)

25. January 2007 · Comments Off on The Sum of Our Fears · Categories: Fun With Islam, General, Iran, Israel & Palestine, World

This essay linked last week via Instapundit, and PJ Media, and no doubt others.
I anticipate the usual anti-nuclear war concerns to be out there in the streets protesting away, with paper-mache puppet heads and signs and all.


08. October 2006 · Comments Off on From Ignorance Into the Light · Categories: History, Iran

I have been unable to stop thinking of Sgt. Mom’s recent post suggesting that the outrageous behavior we have seen from the many who are so aggrieved at any insult to the Muslim faith is based on some inner realization that they are losing power and relevance. I was particularly impressed with the link that addressed the issue of whether the Koran, in its present form, accurately depicts the original visions said to have been revealed to Muhammed. This is significant because the followers of Islam insist upon a very literal interpretation of their holy book – an interpretation that would seem to defy the premise that it is a religion of peace and tolerance (a premise that is well supported both in recent and in distant history). The author suggests that the book in its present form is perhaps as accurate a reflection as one would see if the message was passed via 150 – 200 years of playing the game “telephone”. He points out that this does not render the religion irrelevant, rather, that it should be subject to a scholarly review of the type that changed our perception of Christian teachings after the dark ages. It seems to me that this is the key to preventing the final gasp of mankind due to the clash of civilizations currently being incited by Mahmoud Ahmednejad and his ilk. Such scholarly reviews seem to be moving forward, albeit in very quite way.

While in Washington D.C. on business last week, the hotel where I stayed (Capital Hilton – sucky Internet service but nice location) hosted a conference attended by editors of a number of major newspapers (L.A. Times, Chicago Tribune, etc.). While unwinding at the bar Thursday evening, I met a number of these editors and we engaged in some lively discussion related to the print media vs. web logs. I deliberately steered the conversation toward the above point, asking them why this sort of perspective can only be found on-line. I pointed out that, given the importance of the issues surrounding this, it would be more helpful to bring it into the light than the continual hand wringing about the “Arab Street” response to the most recent slight or perceived slight. Although they were polite and at least made some effort to consider my point, the general response was unsurprising – “How could you, a blogger for God’s sake, deign to tell us how to do our business?”. I did collect some business cards, and plan to follow up (and be a nuisance if need be). Don’t be overly optimistic that the quality of coverage of these issues is likely to change though. I heard that the L.A. Times publisher was fired the very next day for his refusal to make staff cuts. Given the staffing choices that his successor must make, I would bet that they’ll choose editors inclined to publish the lame progressive liberal crap that we have come to know and love over storoes that would offer insightful commentary that illuminates the issues of our time.

20. July 2006 · Comments Off on More Stolen Kisses at the Skylark · Categories: Air Force, General, History, Iran, Pajama Game, Veteran's Affairs

Our TI, Sgt. Petre’s pre-liberty lecture as regards the possibly alien mores and amorous intentions of various foreign military members that we might encounter was all of a piece with other informative lectures, mostly tinged with a certain air of dark warning. The famous Dempsy-Dumpster story was featured prominently, presumably as a cautionary tale for those of use whose lusts were so uncontrollable and whose aesthetic senses were so un-fastidious as to pick exactly that venue for a tête-à-tête. The choice of venues for engaging in sexual congress were pretty slim, on Lackland AFB’s training side, where total privacy was by practice and edict impossible. For that substantial portion of the world who has not gone through USAF basic training during the last four decades, the Dempsy-Dumpster story involved a male and female trainee who chose one of those enormous metal industrial trash containers for their particular brief encounter, only to be brutally interrupted in coitus by one of those enormous trash trucks, mechanically picking up the dumpster, and dumping all contents into the back of the truck. Hilarity ensued, along with least one broken limb, a considerable amount of embarrassment and a folk-tale for the ages. It might even have really happened, sometime in the early 1970ies, but I myself would have to see the contemporary incident report to believe it.

Anyway, we were forewarned, and presumably forearmed about the dangers posed to our virtue… although I thought it was very amusing that we had the birth control lecture a couple of days before we had town liberty, by an NCO who frizbee’d a diaphragm the entire length of the classroom, by way of catching our attention. Which she certainly did for some of us; that was the first time in my life I had actually seen any such thing. It was probably lost on others, though; one of our number included the wife of an E-6 who had four children. Others women were married, or had been married, or hoped to become married, and had practiced a bit… but we didn’t have much in the way of illusion about some of the foreign troops, after what happened to four of us, one drear December day.

It was at the point in our training when we were allowed in pairs and fours to go to various places on base by ourselves, on formally sanction errands… after overcoming a certain amount of disorientation. Like: how the hell can you find your way back to a place when all you have ever seen of the way there, is the back of the neck of the girl in formation ahead of you? And what the hell do you do, when the four of you are marching along, two and two— as you have to, because your TI said so— when you are about to intersect with a full flight of fifty or so other trainees, with their TI and guidon and all the pomp and majesty of a flight of trainees marching on their way to somewhere or other? Why, of course, just has you have been told— stand at full attention, until they have marched by, and then you can go about your own business.

But this flight was a flight of Saudi tech school trainees, and I had the dubious honor of standing at rigid attention on the sidewalk, while an entire flight of them marched by, making every sort of vulgar comment, sotto voice out of the ranks; bird-whistles, crude suggestions, rude noises, low whistles… the entire armory of disgusting guy behavior, all in one fell blast, on four female Air Force trainees, who were under orders to stand there at attention, without responding, in obedience to military protocol, as we were verbally treated like whores in a particularly disreputable neighborhood. Sgt Petre looked particularly black, when we reported this to her, afterwards. We were distraught, and particularly outraged that this would happen to us, on a military base, and when we were constrained from showing any kind of reaction. It was a thoroughly nasty experience, and during twenty subsequent years in the military, nothing quite equaled it for the feeling that it gave me of slugs crawling over my bare flesh. We all agreed that if we were ever out and about again, and spotted a Saudi flight, we would turn around and go a couple of blocks out of the way. No one wanted to repeat the experience, although Airman Duncan— tall, gawky, plain and outspoken— was haunted for the rest of her base liberties by a short, squat and silent Saudi student who magically appeared in any place were Duncan was, and spent the time watching her yearningly from across the room. We couldn’t figure out how he always knew where she was. Efficient information pipeline among the male students, I suppose. I had developed my own admirer, but at least he could bring himself to make pleasant conversation.

On Christmas Day, we had liberty base liberty for all of that afternoon, but no better place to spend it than the bowling alley. The snack bar was open, and a half dozen or so of us were making the most of a couple of hours of freedom; free to drink soft drinks, to laugh with the usual constellation of male trainees. After a certain point, I noticed that one of the Iranian trainees had been drawn into the happy little group. We knew he was Iranian because his uniform was hung with a lot of ornament, and in two clashing shades of blue. Oddly enough, he reminded me of Kiet, my Vietnamese foster-brother; the same air of gentle diffidence, even shyness. He lingered on the edge of the group, not speaking very much at first, but eventually he began talking to me. His name turned out to be Nassir. He had a picture of the Shah in his wallet, and one of the Empress Farah, too. We pointed out Dunc’s admirer, watching her as per usual from across the room, and Nassir laughed and told us how the Iranian students looked down on the Saudis as uncouth and ignorant country bumpkins— hicks from the sticks, with no culture.

We met a couple of more times, after that, and spent some pleasant hours in the darker corners of the Skylark, holding hands and kissing shyly, while he paid me elaborately flowery compliments… which amused me no end. I had never met a man in real life who could unreel yards and yards of it, like Elizabethan love poetry. I never took this gallent compliments seriously, being fairly level-headed about my own attractions; knowing that my own citizenship probably featured rather highly among them. No, I took his attentions not the least bit seriously, but I liked him and wished him well. He wrote to me a couple of times, after I departed for tech school and that real world outside from those stolen hours of base liberty. I fell in love with someone else, and went on to Japan, and about four years later the whirlwind of Khomeini’s Islamic revolution swept away the Shah’s government. I’ve always hoped that Nassir was able to avoid being caught up in that, or the war with Iraq that followed; it would have been such a bad place for a gentle, courtly poet, who was so proud of being a Persian, and had a picture of the Shah in his wallet, and stole kisses from the girl I used to be, in the shadowy corners of the Skylark.

25. May 2006 · Comments Off on Nineteen, Thirty-Eight · Categories: General, History, Iran, Mordor, Pajama Game, War

“The world is changed. I feel it in the water. I feel it in the earth. I smell it in the air…”

From “The Fellowship of the Ring”

There is a change in our world, and in the world of the blogosphere, that most sensitive of organisms, like a jellyfish that flinches at the slightest change in the water, the temperature or the flow of it, curling in upon itself, tensing in readiness against something harsh and horrible. I thought it was just me, for the last six months or so, feeling a jangling unease, thinking it was just me that found it hard to write, finding it all sad and wearying and depressing, finding it all too horrible, words and ideas not flowing easily, thoughts all incoherent, un-climbable mountains of trollage and spam piling up, of editorial issues and looking for a new job, of temp wage slavery at the Enormous Corporate Behemoth… all of that, and thinking it was just me and my personal issues, not finding blogging to be fun any more, just another grim job to be dealt with, until I read this, and thought with no little relief; “Oh, it just isn’t me, after all.”

I have really enjoyed blogging over the last four years— it is a lifeline and outlet, a useful purpose and a voice, my connection to others of like mind… and if not of like, at least of interesting and stimulating minds. And sometimes I am touched by fire, and write something interesting and cogent and relevant, and someone on the other side of the world or in the next city reads it, and is touched by the fire also, and lets me know about how I have made it possible to understand something, or feel something, or be able to see an event with someone elses’ eyes. Blogging here is an opportunity to educate about the many-splendored weirdness of the military world and I would hate to think I was at the point of giving it up, after the fun of the coaster-ride over the last four years… and since it only this last week the NY Times, the magisterial paper of record, had to publish a correction about muddling a Purple Heart and a Gold Star in a story about the funeral of a serving military member, it would seem that there is still a heck of a lot of educating to do. (Sheesh! Three years of war, and they’re as bone ignorant today as they were then, another reason to be slightly depressed… ok, breath deeply, and repeat the mantra…. It is not my job to reform the NY Times, it is not my job to reform the NY Times, it is not my job to reform the NY Times… better be someone’s job soon, otherwise they will just be a local fish-wrap with an amusingly elevated sense of its’ own importance, and about thirty readers, who all live in expensive condos in a very small part of town. See the LA Times, which used to be a fine and respected newspaper.)

I can suppose this is only cosmic payback for a lifetime spent entranced in history, of the times before… of the times before things changed, of the times just out of reach of my own memory, the times of my grandparents’ and my parents’ formative years, of the worlds that they remembered, but which irretrievably slipped away. Grandpa Jim, Grandpa Al, Grannie Jessie and Grannie Dodie all were born into a world of horse-drawn conveyances, of gaslights and steamships, where the monarchies of Russia and Austria and Germany were seemingly set-in-stone eternal, and the sun never set on the British Empire… and then, hey presto by the time they were all teenagers or in their early twenties, three of those verities were gone and the fourth moved into twilight. But my grandparents moved on, did their jobs and made their homes, raised their families into that new world, and then there was that other seismic shift, the next war that shattered and reformed their established world, the one that I most particularly studied, almost to the extent of sometimes thinking I was re-living it.

In a curious way, I think that it is 1938 again, the very last year that it was possible for the well-meaning and well-intentioned to believe with a whole heart that total war was not inevitable, the year of the annexation of Austria, of Neville Chamberlain’s attempt to buy peace—followed promptly by the German annexation of the Sudetenland, and the Night of Broken Glass— the year that it became obvious to more than just the extremely far-sighted that no peaceful and well-meant actions on the part of the British and French administrations could swerve Hitler from his appointed path, that there was nothing to be expected from the League of Nations, that however much they wished otherwise, bad stuff would be happening. It might be soon, it might be later, but it would be happening, however much one wished and prayed for, otherwise… war would come. And there was nothing to be done that would stop it happening

Events and portents appear, flashing like lightning in one of our summer Texas thunderstorms, finally occurring so frequently that the sky is continuously lit with an eerie blue-white light…riots in Paris and in Australia, murders of Thai teachers, the Affair of the Danish Cartoons. The abject truckling in to threats and violence by western main-stream media, and now threats by Iran’s president to destroy Israel, twinned with Iran’s nuclear ambitions… and such threats reported not in fringy little foreign-affairs journals and blogs, but over and over again, on the front pages and in the headlines. Are they credible threats? Whose lives do we bet that they are not?

I wonder now, if some of the contemporary venom, and malice directed towards FDR, and to a lesser extent, Churchill— both of whom quite clear-eyed about the menace that Hitler posed from a fairly early date— might be a sort of displacement of their fears. There are terrible, lurking dangers, awful people that you can, in the long run, essentially do nothing about— more comfortable to be able to displace your fear and anger, aim it all towards someone that you can do something about, not some fanatic in a cave, or in Berlin, far, far away. Best to focus all your fears and apprehensions, and aim that at the closer and more comprehensible target, and comfort yourself that you have done what you could, that you are blameless and above reproach, sincere in not wanting any of that nasty war and violence. If it falls on someone else, then it must be all their fault then, it was something they did, or didn’t do, that caused war to be interested in them and their children, their houses and cities, and tall shining buildings on a lovely September morning.

What could our grandparents and great-grandparents do, in 1938, but wait for the inevitable to fall, knowing that all their safe and peaceful world would not be eternal and everlasting, but would be finite, and of short duration; that there would soon be an end to all the lovely, predictable joys of a settled existence. What better encouragement to enjoy them with bitter-sweet gusto, knowing that the ship was definitively and slowly sinking, that the ordinary pleasures of life would be at an end?

I am going to finish the touch-ups to the house this weekend, painstakingly climbing up and down a tall ladder borrowed from a neighbor, who most definitely will be wanting it back soon, since I have had it since early this month, carrying a small brush and a paint-can, my pockets filled with nails and tools. I have a notion to pave the center part of the back yard with concrete pavers of my own creation, set with black river pebbles set on end, to make flowers and geometric patterns, like the stairs and terraces I saw in Spain and have never seen again…. I want to set a small fountain in the middle of it, to hear the sound of running water in the afternoons of these brutally hot summer days, which is work that will take months to accomplish and about the same to pay for. And all the time I am doing it, I will have the radio on. And all these days to come, I’ll know that someday, some time, I’ll hear a news bulletin about a mushroom cloud someplace in the Middle East, or Europe, or maybe over an American city… and that these days of peace will be ended for once and all.

Frodo: “I wish none of this had happened. ”
Gandalf: “So do all who live to see such times. But that is not for them to decide. All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given to us.”
From “The Fellowship of the Ring”

12. May 2006 · Comments Off on Memo: Your Recent Kind Letter · Categories: General, GWOT, History, Iran, sarcasm, War, World

To: His Whateverness Ahmedinajad, President of Iran
From: Sgt Mom
Re: Your recent kind letter*

1. How nice to know that we are all on haranguing terms, just now. And this makes a change from the last quarter-century…. how?

2. We are given to understand from the better sort of middle-eastern newspaper that your co-religionists have been importuning the Presidente-for-Life Fidel Castro of Cuba to convert to Islam. We personally are skeptical, wondering how on earth anyone in the same room with the Dear Leader (Western Hemisphere Version) could get in a word edgeways with a wedge and hammer. But frankly, some of these middle eastern media sources are about on par with the sort of tabloids who run stories about mutant alien babies, and reappearances of the Titanic and Elvis. Oh, dear, a fair number of our very own dear media sources have achieved that same degree of credibility. My bad, and on to my next point. (Although this may validate Blair’s Law, which states that all sorts of extremism eventually go around the bend from different directions…and finally merge in one huge pulsating ball of idiocy.)

3. Your “very scholarly” * and “fascinating”* correspondence concluded with a rather disquieting salutation… disquieting, to those with an inclination to history. According to this source, it translates as “Peace only unto those who follow the true path.”… which however way you slice it, sounds… well, a bit threatening. Rather like the comment of a certain sort of local “insurance”* agent, who says “Nice little place you have here, be a shame if something bad happened to it.”

4. Your “diplomatic”* attempt at direct communication are noted, however, and I would have but one… well, several prerequisites before a “diplomatic”* reply can be tendered, the first of which is to return the American Embassy in Teheran to American custody, scrubbed of various abusive graffiti, cleaned and comprehensively refurbished, and every scrap of US government property taken from those premises, either returned, or a like replacement. I would also demand an official delegation from your government to go around to each of the American citizens and employees taken hostage in 1979, and apologize personally to each of them, (those still living, or their next of kin) and to offer a suitable recompense of their choosing.

5. Until then, my Dear President Ahmedinajad, I have only three words in reply to your missive.

6. Rat-hole.
7. Sand
8. Pound.

Sgt. Mom

* Do I have to add this— those are “viciously skeptical “quote-marks… and a small but vital correction added at 3:05 after a comment

01. April 2006 · Comments Off on Iran Tests Stealth Missile · Categories: Iran

This from AP:

TEHRAN, Iran — Iran successfully test-fired a missile that can avoid radar and hit several targets simultaneously using multiple warheads, the military said Friday.

Gen. Hossein Salami, the air force chief of the elite Revolutionary Guards, did not specify the missile’s range, saying it depends on the weight of its warheads.

As I said before, the time to strike is now.

Update: (4:03PM PDT) This just in from Monsters and Critics:

Tehran – Iran’s paramilitary Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) said Sunday that an underwater missile was successfully tested during a naval manoeuvre in the Persian Gulf, state news agency IRNA reported.

Deputy commander of the navy forces of the IRGC, General Ali Fadavi, said the missile could hit a target with a maximum speed of 100 metres per second.

No further details were disclosed.

The Russians already have this. I’ve been following this technology for a while. I’ll post more about it, and our countermeasures development, later.

Update 2: (9:10AM PDT 04/04/06) The Russian torpedo (which the Iranians most likely bought, rather than develop their own), is called the Shkval-E. They’ve been hocking these things since 2000. They have been in development since the late ’60s.

There are no (unclassified) countermeasures for this weapon. But I would think that, could we get a fix on one, a Phalanx gun might have some limited effectiveness against it, as it is made to also engage surface-skimming airborne missiles.

However, the Shkval has a rather short 7.5km range, and it would be difficult for an aggressor host vessel to get inside a CVBG’s defense perimeter. While considered very quiet, the Iranian’s five1 Russian-built Kilo class diesel/electric subs are considered easy prey for the US’s Los Angeles or Seawolf classes – to say nothing of the Virginia.

Even so, during the Falklands War, the Argentine San Luis, a German Type 209/1200 submarine, managed to elude 15 British frigates, as well as the antisubmarine forces of two small carriers. The San Luis maneuvered into torpedo range of the British fleet, and launched three torpedoes, although all three shots were unsuccessful. And, if Saddam Hussein had bought six modern diesel/electric subs, prior to invading Kuwait, “and positioned three of them on either side of the Strait of Hormuz, that would have complicated matters,” according to U.S. Vice Admiral James Williams. “One diesel sub can make a great difference to how you drive your ships.” But note that, even if only running it’s motors for station-keeping, a diesel/electric sub can’t remain below snorkel depth for very long.

Incidentally, our own counterpart to the Shkval, being developed through the Office of Naval Research, is called the High-Speed (Supercavitating) Undersea Weapon.

You all know about cavitation; it is the same process by which bubbles develop along the inner skin of a pot, just before it’s about to boil, and the froth which emerges in a ship’s propeller trail, despite the fact it’s totally underwater.

1) The most Iranian subs I can confirm currently are three Kilo class, Project 877EKM, purchased between 1992-97. This can be verified from The Illustrated Directory of Submarines of the World (2002) by David E. Miller (ISBN 1-84065-375-2). However, I have later, unconfirmed reports of one or two more subs (likely Kilo class, and perhaps of the quieter “Project 636“). The authoritative civilian reference here would, of course, be Jane’s. But it’s a subscription thing, and my local library can reference only as recently as 2003. Any help out there?

30. March 2006 · Comments Off on More Shadow Boxing At The UN · Categories: GWOT, Iran

Well, Iran got a good finger-wagging from the UNSC yesterday:

NEW YORK — The UN Security Council unanimously approved a resolution yesterday giving Iran 30 days to suspend its uranium-enrichment program, but gave no hint of punishment if Tehran fails to comply.

After succeeding in having Iran’s nuclear program put before the Security Council, the United States and its European allies spent three weeks negotiating a watered-down resolution to meet the demands of Russia and China that it contain no justification for sanctions or use of force.

While yesterday’s resolution is toothless, all 15 members of the Security Council clearly rejected Iran’s assertion that it has the right to enrich uranium without interference from the International Atomic Energy Agency.

U.S. Ambassador John Bolton said it is now up to the Iranian government to demonstrate that it will abide by the requirements of the IAEA, which must report back to the Security Council in 30 days.

This is absurd! Does anyone think that playing these games improves the US’ stature in the world? Would Andrew Jackson or Teddy Roosevelt put up with this shit?

We did the same gawd-damn thing with Iraq. France and Russia objected then, just as Russia and China are objecting now: for purely short-sighted commercial reasons. (And they say America is only interested in the next quarter’s P&L statement.) This sort of mind-set amongst the permanent members makes the UNSC patently dysfunctional.

But yet, we play the damn game. And, just as Saddam got all his WMD staged for a quick exodus to Syria when he knew the UN negotiations were in their terminal phase, Iran will enrich all the uranium they can, until they know the Rubicon has been crossed, and then they will pack everything for shipment to Syria, Africa, or one of the ex-Soviet ‘stans – and perhaps provide any product they have to al-Qaeda.

We may not have the capability to stage another invasion. (I think we do, but it would first require pulling out of places we have little or no business being in any more – like Okinawa, South Korea, Germany and England.) But we still have a quite formidable military option. We should strike now, and strike hard. As Ann Coulter recommends, not just at their nuclear installations, but their entire industrial capacity. And at the same time, we should be prepared to funnel massive assistance to any nascent contra organizations.

And forget “nation building”. That was kind of essential with Iraq, as leaving a power vacuum would have been irresistible to Syria or Iran. But we won’t have that problem with Iran; who’s going to invade: Russia? Pakistan? Georgia?

The 800 lb. gorilla is, of course, the disruption in the world’s oil supply. But, if that proves to be truly prohibitive, the oil fields are distributed over only a small portion of the nation – mostly along the Persian Gulf, and to a lesser extent, the Caspian Basin – we can easily effect a limited occupation over these regions.

Of course, the moonbats will go on the march. “No blood for oil,” they will cry out. It’s about time we stop shadow dancing with them as well. When not enough oil on the world market means hospitals in the third world go dark, and innocent children die, HELL YES, that oil is worth a little blood.

20. March 2006 · Comments Off on John Murtha: Traitor Or Madman? · Categories: GWOT, Iran, Politics

(Those returning to this post might note that I changed the title, to better reflect the theme of the post.)

Representative John Murtha (D – PA), an honored ex-Marine, and “Cold War Hawk“, made headlines a few months ago, with his call for an “immediate” “redeployment” of our troops in Iraq. With all due respect for the service he has done for this country, it seems he’s doing a slow-burn Cindy Sheehan – with his mutterings growing steadily more outrageous each time he is in front of the camera.

Today, on NBC’s Meet the Press, I lost track of all his self-contradictions when discussing Iraq. But this really stuck out in my mind: “[The] President has no military option in Iran.” E-phucking-gad!!! The Executive Branch has exclusive purview over foreign policy. But, whatever military action we are capable to, or might wish to, take against Iran, Murtha takes it upon himself to remove it as a negotiating tool.

By the paradigm of the GWOT, we are “at war” with Iran; our mutual adversary status has been proclaimed by the leaders of both nations. Today, John Murtha has “given aid and comfort” to the enemy. He should be prosecuted, or at least committed.

Update: Mark Kleiman’s reaction (via email) reflects that of some of my commenters:

Have you lost your mind? Taking a foreign policy position you disagree with ought to be prosecuted as treason?

I assure you all, I am in full possession of my faculties, and merely reflecting the rather conventional wisdom that, “American politics ends at the water’s edge.” None the less, had Murtha stated something like, “I don’t feel President Bush should take military action against Iran,” that would be another matter. However, stating as matter-of-fact that we don’t have the capability for military action might further embolden the Iranians to thumb their noses at us.

Perhaps it might be useful if you went to Meet the Press’s website, and watched the whole Murtha interview in context. He really does seem to be going over the edge.

10. March 2006 · Comments Off on What a Lovely, Helpful Notion… · Categories: European Disunion, General, GWOT, Iran, sarcasm

… and would it ever happen? Good thing I am not holding my breath.

(link courtesy Belmont Club, via Austin Bay)

26. February 2006 · Comments Off on Iran To Enrich Uranium In Russia · Categories: General, GWOT, Iran, Technology, World

This from Reuters:

Busher, Iran – Iran has reached a “basic” agreement with Russia on a joint venture to enrich uranium and will continue talks in coming days, Iran’s nuclear chief Gholamreza Aghazadeh said on Sunday.

My other sources believe the enrichment will be performed, at least partially, by Iranian personnel, but in Russian facilities. My only opinion, at this point, is: trust, but verify.

11. January 2006 · Comments Off on Diplomacy By Other Means · Categories: Iran, Israel & Palestine

Scott Wickstein at Samizdata blogs on European ineptitude in dealing with Iran:

Of course, the real negotiating tool is the United States Army, Navy, and Air Force. With American troops still in Iraq, Iran knows that it has to tread warily, but the cunning men in Tehran may well be counting that the US will not feel able to take decisive action before the 2008 Presidential elections change the political landscape in a possibly decisive way.

I personally am very pessimistic about these developments.

Of course, there’s always Israel to consider; they won’t feel restrained by the realities of American politics.

Update: Europe is giving up on diplomacy:

BERLIN (AP) – The British, French and German foreign ministers said Thursday that negotiations with Iran over its nuclear program had reached a “dead end” and the Islamic republic should be referred to the U.N. Security Council.

The ministers did not specify what action should be taken by the Security Council, which could impose sanctions. They called for a special session of the International Atomic Energy Agency to decide the referral.

10. January 2006 · Comments Off on No Nation Is An Island · Categories: Iran

I have just watched a program on one of my local PBS stations, KLCS, called World Business (sorry I can’t offer any more info).

But they are saying the international capital markets are evacuating Iran, like rats from a sinking ship, due to their nuclear ambitions, and belligerent rhetoric. It would seem, to the layman, as though an oil-rich nation could fund their expansion strictly on retained earnings. But it ain’t that simple – particularly when 17% of your population is on the payroll of the secret police.

12. December 2005 · Comments Off on It’s In The Cards: Israel To Bomb Iran · Categories: Iran, Israel & Palestine

According to this Sunday Times article, it’s all go for March:

ISRAEL’S armed forces have been ordered by Ariel Sharon, the prime minister, to be ready by the end of March for possible strikes on secret uranium enrichment sites in Iran, military sources have revealed.

The order came after Israeli intelligence warned the government that Iran was operating enrichment facilities, believed to be small and concealed in civilian locations.

Iran’s stand-off with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) over nuclear inspections and aggressive rhetoric from Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the Iranian president, who said last week that Israel should be moved to Europe, are causing mounting concern.

The crisis is set to come to a head in early March, when Mohamed El-Baradei, the head of the IAEA, will present his next report on Iran. El-Baradei, who received the Nobel peace prize yesterday, warned that the world was “losing patience” with Iran.

I wonder if Israel has the weapons systems to accomplish this without considerable collateral damage?

20. July 2005 · Comments Off on Of Chablis Socialism, Tailgunner Joe and a Hunger Strike · Categories: General, History, Iran, Media Matters Not

The poor moth-eaten ghost of Joe McCarthy has gotten as much mileage in the op-eds of the wise in the last couple of years as zombie movies have in the multiplex these days. When in doubt, drag it out, shake it around and yell “Oooogah-booogah! Red-baiting! Black-list! It’s a new McCarthyism! Save the women and children! Oooooga-boogah!” It has always struck me as amusing, how the significance of McCarthy’s anti-communist campaign, the HUAC hearings and the whole Hollywood blacklist thing loomed over the chic intellectual set. In retrospect, it’s almost as if a child’s balloon magically expanded over time to the size of the Hindenburg. Popular memoirists and movies describe the whole period, as if Joe McCarthy was blotting out the sun, casting dark shadows over the land of the free, while everyone cowered behind the doors of their houses, afraid to speak above a whisper for fear of the dark, jackbooted minions of the (cue scary music here!) HUAC would break down the door and drag them away to an unspecified but horrible fate in some barbed-wire gulag.

Oddly enough, my parents who were in college at the time don’t remember anything of that kind. In fact, they remember Joe McCarthy being pungently described as a headline grabbing blow-hard politician and all-around scumbag who never managed to come within a country mile of a Russian spy, or keeping his stories straight. They remember him being denounced in no uncertain terms— everyone they knew had McCarthy’s number down to the third decimal place, recognized him for just another self-serving, glory-hunting pol, attaching himself like a remora to the issue of the moment. And, as we now know through the Venona transcripts, there was something, underneath all the popular hysteria; there had indeed been an assortment of Communists, fellow travelers and paid Stalinist stooges wandering at will over the home of the free and the land of the brave for decades.

Some of them were politically naïve and hopelessly gullible, the kind of people these days who respond to Nigerian spam, who believed (against every indication to the contrary) that Russia under Lenin and Stalin was the last, best hope for mankind, the shining light of the future, the brave new world. Others were genuinely anti-fascist, who had the misfortune to become politically aware during the hungry Thirties; revolted by the excesses of Italian and German fascism, they took refuge in the arms of what seemed like it’s political polar opposite, only to be brutally disillusioned by the brutal realpolitik of the Nazi-Soviet pact of 1939, and whiplashed once again by Stalin’s volte-face in 1941. Still others were indeed dedicated but conflicted Communists, cheering on the brave new Marxist world from the comfort and security of Brentwood or the Upper East Side, and seeking absolution and permission to lie about it in court.

McCarthy generated a great deal of headline noise, but not much useful light on the subject, aside from afflicting the comfortable Chablis socialist set. My parents’ contention that he was a paper tiger, expanded by bombast and hubris to a towering but fragile edifice is supported with the speed and thoroughness of his deflation and collapse… a collapse initiated by a single pin-prick of a question asked by a soft-spoken and gentlemanly lawyer, in front of a television camera. He was seen for what he really was, and in a remarkably short time, the cruel jest was that it wasn’t “McCarthyism” it should be “McCarthywasim”. But it surely must inflate the egos of those who ran afoul of him and the “red scare”, to paint McCarthy bigger, crueler and more dangerous in hindsight, to burnish their own heroism in opposition. The other thing that strikes me, besides the fragility of the McCarthy red-baiting machine, is the willful cluelessness of so many of the alleged “reds”, so in love with their fantasy of the perfect Marxist new world, they managed to entirely overlook the varied horrors of Stalin’s rule… the famines, the purges, the show trials, the gulags and all. Either that, or what is most reprehensible, they worked overtime to justify and excuse them, so in love with the fantasy were they.

In love with a seductive, rose-tinted glasses fantasy; not the first to do so, and lamentably, not the last to fall for the heroic vision of the brave freedom fighter, even to see oneself as one. But the subtle danger of fantasy is that it turns our eyes from the real, messy, grubby and corrupted as it might be in comparison; the world as it is, not as we might wish it to be. Our heroes and great ones ought to be—as the military cliché goes— ten feet tall and bulletproof, served up to us on the front page of the major media outlets, with a book and movie deal to follow after. And yet, in Iran there is a man, a writer and reporter, who is on a hunger strike— near death, it would seem— in defense of the freedom to think and communicate what he sees as the truth. Here is a person who values freedom of thought, freedom of communication, freedom of the press, so highly, he would give his life for it… and yet all the traditional defenders of the free press seem to look in the other direction.

We heard enough about the alleged targeting of journalists in Iraq by the American military; I have heard nothing about Akbar Ganji on NPR, nothing in my local paper. I wouldn’t know anything at all about Mr. Gangi if it weren’t for e-mail and the internet. A quick google search this Wednesday afternoon goes to three pages before listing a story about him in the major Western media sources. I can only assume that one set of stories favors the fantasy, the other doesn’t. But this is reality, not the lovely fantasy— and this reality matters. I have a computer, a blog, a collection of readers, and a facility with the written word— and the freedom to put my words out there, without fear or favor. Michael Moore, the staff of the Wall Street Journal— a million or two others, great and small also have that freedom, although most of us do not have the income to show for it. Like oxygen, we wouldn’t notice it, until it was not there— as the oxygen of a free press is not there for Akbar Gangi. We have heard a great deal in the last couple of years about freedom of the press. Let’s hear how much it matters for Akbar Gangi and the people of Iran… and everyone else who values freedom of the press and heroes in the real world.

Although, candidly, a hunger strike (and a strict program of excercise) would do Michael Moore no end of good.

(Links courtesy of Ron Wright and Instapundit)

01. July 2005 · Comments Off on Quagmire!!! · Categories: General, GWOT, Iran, Media Matters Not

It looks like all the channels in the basic TV package are on repeats, and of stupid, intelligence-insulting, mind-numbingly boring programs that looked like twenty years of repeats even upon first airing; watching them in repeats one more time would be like root canal work with not much in the way of painkillers. Sooo… this summer, it looks like I am watching stuff on VHS and DVD, things I bought because I liked them, or taped off the broadcast channels— odd-ball things like “Due South”, various impeccably written and filmed stuff from “Masterpiece Theatre”, “Crusade” and “Babylon 5”…. And if my science fiction jones really gets bad, I have all of “Blake’s 7” (taken from the KUED, the Utah Public TV channel, in the early 90ies, when the broadcast that and Dr. Who at midnight on Saturdays. Note: “Blakes’ 7 was the British analogue to the original “Star Trek”, but with better writing, more interesting characters… but special effects that were…ummm… even more cheesy, and trust me, this is possible. And the dramatis personae only added up to 7 on occasion and only if one counted the computers, but against that… Paul Darrow, brooding in black leather and studs. Yum. Trust me on this. Yum.)

Oh, where was I? TV nostalgia. Back on topic. In the interests of 60ies nostalgia, a topic in which a great many of our media and duly elected officials seem lately to be mired down, I revisited my own memories, and some of my televised Vietnam memorabilia, a number of movies like “84 Charlie Mopic”, and the complete runs of “Tour of Duty” and “China Beach”, as they were broadcast on EBS-Zaragoza, complete with EBS TV identifiers, and a selection of cheesy AFRTS spots. Both programs were enormously popular among overseas military audiences at the time, to judge from the feedback that I remember, and from the number of small boys who borrowed BDUs, fatigues and flight-suits from their elders for the yearly Halloween parade at the DODs school. Those with first-hand memories of the Vietnam experience had more complicated reactions, like the husband of one of my friends in Korea. At that time he was the deacon of the Episcopal congregation, but he had served a combat tour as a very young infantry officer. His wife commented once that she always knew when he had watched “China Beach”, or some such, while she was out at choir practice, because he would be so white-lipped and silent for the rest of the evening.

But equating Vietnam to Iraq is a terribly strained analogy, and there are more differences than similarities. Some of them small and seemingly insignificant, some are written off as trivial, but to military veterans those differences posit a gulf of enormous difference… and some are just… well, differences. In no particular order;

1. Vietnam: a long, narrow south-east Asian country, once known as Cochin-China, or French Indo-China, of which practically no one in America had ever heard of, prior to about 1950. After WWII, we let the French take back their colony, although we could just as easily have pressured them into giving the Vietnamese their independence. A bad decision, but exactly how bad would not become apparent for many decades.

Iraq: a large, centrally located Middle-Eastern country, also known as the “Cradle of Civilization” (western division), Mesopotamia or the Land Between Two Rivers, the Fertile Crescent. It encompasses the birthplace of Abraham in the city of Ur of the Chaldees, of ancient cities, and the first recorded set of laws, the Code of Hammurabi, the earliest written epic, the story of Gilgamesh. The tower of Babel was supposed to have been built there, and the wonder of the world, the Hanging Gardens of Babylon. The ancient names of cities, Ninevah, Babylon, Ur… resonate in western history and religion, a fountain-source, and a wonder.

2. Vietnam, to judge from the memories of friends like Xuan-An, and from the cameras of everyone who turned away from war and atrocity, and recorded the countryside itself is— from the mountains to the seaside and in the tended farmlands and the forests between— mainly green, lush and achingly beautiful.

Iraq— to judge from pictures posted by pro and amateur photog— is…. Ummm. OK. With careful lighting and creative shooting, Iraq can look… umm, interesting. Striking, even. Certain bits of it can grow on one, if one has a taste for the austere, and an appreciation for contrasts— which can also be said of much of the American West.

3. There doesn’t seem to be much impenetrable jungle in Iraq. Lots of desert, though; wide-open, no-much-of-a-place-hide desert, with excellent lines of sight.

4. The American troops are not draftees, this time. I will repeat this for the benefit of Prof. Churchill and the other SDS wannabees, milling around in the back and passing around… yo! Ward Baby! No smoking, ‘kay! You want to relive the glory days of 1968, you round up a bunch of your dopey friends and form a re-enactors’ group, just like normally nostalgic people do! THERE IS NO DRAFT! THEY ARE VOLUNTEERS! ‘KAY! Some 18-year olds choose to serve, others elect to sit in your classroom and pay for a couple of years of educational malpractice by flipping burgers at Mickey D’s. Free country, Ward… and that had better be a regular tobacco cigarette.

5. Which brings me seamlessly to the fact that the military has been… umm, rather stern for the last thirty years as regards the ingestion of mind-altering substances. They screen for it, at random, regularly and persistently… and they aren’t all that indulgent about alcohol, either, even outside of the Middle East. This isn’t Oliver Stone’s Army, and hasn’t been for years, although he himself is probably too whacked out to notice this.

6. American personnel rotate in-country as a unit, and rotate home again, en masse. They are not coming and going as single replacements… which makes it very difficult (not to say dangerous) for those who would hang around in international airports spitting on solitary members of the military. The old baby-killer accusation still gets traction, however.

7. Jane Fonda has yet to go over to the Sunni Triangle and pose with insurgent weapons. Yet, anyway.

8. The Ho Chi Minh Trail, skirted South Vietnamese territory as much as possible, running through neighboring countries, safe from interdiction, until the very last leg. The insurgency’s supply trail is vulnerable all the way from the Iraqi border.

9. The Viet Cong swam among the Vietnamese population, especially in the countryside like fish in a pond of water. The Iraqi pond seems distinctly unwelcoming to the insurgents. The fact that the most recent suicide bombers are either foreign jihadists, or local citizens either blackmailed into driving a car bomb or handcuffed to the steering wheel suggests that they are a considerable distance from the “winning the hearts and minds” ideal of a popular insurgency. It was supposed to be the Americans committing brutal atrocities on a innocent and defenseless population that would drive ordinary Iraqi citizens into supporting the insurgency; instead, it looks like the insurgents are committing the atrocities, and driving ordinary citizens away.

10. American troops in Iraq are armored-up, to a degree that makes their predecessors in Vietnam look positively undressed. And they seem to be amusing themselves without the local version of the “ville”, those notorious local districts just outside the gates of American bases which in days of yore provided loud music, cheap alcohol, and cheaper floozies to those members of the American military who were young and dumb and full of… erm, whatever. Mind you, any one knowing the location of a suitably Vietnam-style “ville” anywhere in Iraq will earn popularity undying by sharing that intelligence immediately… with members of the international press.

Feel free to add your own then-and-now observations in the comments.

Sgt. Mom

21. June 2005 · Comments Off on Iran’s Real Turnout: About 10% · Categories: Iran

While the MSM continue to parrot Iran’s “official” claims of a high turnout in Friday’s election, Michael Ledeen at NRO reports on reality:

First, the numbers. The regime had made it clear that the size of the turnout would indicate its legitimacy with the public, so they had to come up with big numbers. After hours of hilarious confusion, during which the “official” numbers oscillated wildly and different vote totals were announced by the interior ministry and the Council of Guardians, the regime finally decided to claim that something like 65 percent of eligible Iranians had voted. But most clear-eyed observers with the freedom to move around the country and actually go to polling places, found very few voters. The Mujahedin Khalq, the longtime allies of Saddam Hussein who have long been a source of information on things Iranian, estimated that the real figure was about 10 percent. If you read The Scotsman, for example, you hear things like this:

…at a polling station in…an affluent suburb of northern Tehran, only 150 voters had arrived by mid-afternoon. “We have been given 1,000 ballot papers, so it seems the turn-out has been a lot lower than expected,” said Mohsen Jannati, the school’s headmaster, who supervised the voting.

The lowest participation — maybe as low as 3-5 percent — was in Khuzestan Province, where there had been bombings and protests in recent weeks. But anecdotal evidence from all over the country indicated a very low turnout, as of late afternoon. Despite this, the mullahs trotted out rosy reports of big voter turnouts, and even broadcast “live” TV coverage of voters queued up, waiting patiently to make their voices heard.

The only problem was that the pictures were from past elections. One woman called up a Tehran radio station to say that she was sitting at home watching the tube, and saw herself voting. Very droll indeed.

17. June 2005 · Comments Off on Iran: The Blogger’s Paper Chase Is On · Categories: Iran, Politics, World

This Brian Murphy – AP report will establish the conventional wisdom for the moment. But my sources tell me it’s hardly the truth. More to come later:

TEHRAN, Iran (AP) – Iranian voters streamed to polling stations Friday, snubbing dissidents’ calls for a boycott in the closest presidential race since the 1979 Islamic Revolution. Results will decide who inherits a long list of challenges, including nuclear talks with the West and demands for reform at home.

Turnout appeared stronger than expected and polls stayed open an extra four hours, with voting booths even set up at Tehran’s main cemetery for those paying weekly visits to family graves. But the contest could still end with no clear winner, forcing a runoff next week.

Some credited U.S. denunciations of the election for goading more Iranians to cast ballots after a Western-style campaign that has reshaped Iranian politics. A runoff would almost certainly include front-runner Ayatollah Hashemi Rafsanjani, a political veteran and leader of the Islamic Revolution who now portrays himself as a steady hand for uneasy times.

On the contrary, I’ve heard of massive rejection of this election. Time will tell.

16. June 2005 · Comments Off on Survey: Iranians Feelings Similar To Americans · Categories: Iran

As this press release shows, Iranians feel about the same about America’s presence in the middle east, and their own country’s nuclear aspirations as the people in “red state” America:

Historic Survey Finds Plurality of Iranians Uneasy
if Regime Were to Develop WMD’s

WASHINGTON, June 9 /PRNewswire/ — A recent public opinion survey of Iranians, conducted by The Tarrance Group, surprisingly found that a vast majority (74%) of Iranians feel America’s presence in the Middle East will increase the probability of democracy in their own country. The survey, which was the first of its kind, found two-thirds of Iranians believe that regime change in Iraq has been a positive for both neighboring countries: with 66% believing that it served Iran’s national interests, while 65% believed the Iraqi people will, in the long-run, be better off.

Commissioned by the Iran Institute for Democracy, the survey discovered that a solid majority (65%) of Iranian adults consider fundamental change in Iran’s system of government, especially its Constitution, a must to bring freedom and more opportunities to their homeland.

Validating reports of widespread discontent with the clerical regime, three-fourths of Iranians (73%) support the call for a national referendum through which Iranians are given a chance to choose the form of government of their choice. Significantly, almost all Iranians reject their government’s attempts to keep exiled Iranians out of the political and economic equation of Iran. Fully 84% of all Iranians say Iranians living abroad should have a role in shaping the political and economic future of their homeland.

Presidential Election:
Regarding the forthcoming Presidential elections, in a troubling sign for the regime, nearly four of every five Iranians (79%) say that the upcoming elections should not be held unless they are free, fair and transparent.

While more than 70% of Iranians feel the world is closely monitoring the June 17 election process, in a telling sign, 57% of the population would be inclined to support a boycott of the elections if conditions for a free, fair and transparent election are not met.

Demonstrating disinterest in the pool of candidates, only 39% of adults were able to choose a candidate representing their viewpoint, with Hashemi Rafsanjani only leading (32%) among those who could identify with a candidate. Hence, Mr. Rafsanjani only enjoys 13% support among all Iranians, including those who could not identify an acceptable candidate. That said, when asked to make a prediction, 42% of all surveyed predicted Rafsanjani would be declared the winner of elections, indicating a perception of a predetermined conclusion.

Nuclear Issue:
On the nuclear issue, a solid majority of surveyed respondents inside Iran (60%) feel that the international community’s worry about the prospects of terrorists obtaining weapons of mass destruction is real. Further, a plurality (42%) says the Islamic Republic gaining access to nuclear weapons would add to their anxiety, discomfort and inability to sleep comfortably at night, while only 37% say it would not burden their peace of mind.

Commissioned by the Iran Institute for Democracy, the survey was conducted among N=758 adults age 16+ (voting age) in Iran, from May 26 through June 4, 2005. Sample design, questionnaire design, and data processing were conducted by The Tarrance Group. Random digit dialing (RDD) was used to generate the sample, and interviews were conducted via telephone from a call center in the United States using Farsi-speaking interviewers. The margin of error associated with a sample of this size of +/- 3.6%, at the 95% confidence level. The average interview length was 24.6 minutes.

SOURCE Iran Institute for Democracy