Monday, November 27, 2006

Some Thoughts on Total War

How often have you heard someone say (or write on a blog), "Nuke [fill in the blank]!" Nuke Iraq. Nuke Iran. Nuke 'em all and let God (or the deity of your choice) sort them out.

Is the mass destruction of civilian populations ever justified? I wish I could say that it is not. But, I am afraid that if the world allows militant Islam to continue to expand and experience perceived successes, we may find outselves in a seemingly never ending struggle with a decentralized, violent, uncompromising enemy. The non-militants Muslims will either be frightened into silence, or maybe quietly and waiting on the sidelines hoping for their more violent brethren to succeed. We must defeat them...totally. We must make them suffer. Not out of revenge or a desire to make them suffer. We must hurt them so that they learn that they were mistaken. If they can keep attacking us and suffer minimal casualties, they will never have incentive to change.

The First World War was not fought to total victory. When the winter of 1918 arrived, the German military was in headlong retreat. The German government realized that if the war continued in the spring, their armies would be driven back and destroyed. Then Germany would be occupied and at the mercy of the Allies. To prevent this, they negotiated an end to the war. The Allies imposed punitive terms on the Germans, but they were spared to horror of total defeat. The result? The German population came to believe that they had really not lost the war...that they had been betrayed by the politicians. They felt wronged and they wanted revenge. Adolph Hitler was able to build on these feelings of betrayal and outrage and lead his country to war two decades later.

During the Second World War, the Allies did not stop until their enemies were totally defeated. Civilian targets were legitimate because the destruction of the civilian infrastructure was seen as a means of destroying the enemy's ability to resupply their war machine and continue fighting. However, it also served the purpose of making the populations of the defeated powers (which had been deluded by the NAZI fascists and the Japanese military government) realize that their visions of glory were wrong. The German and Japanese civilian populations of the 1940s probably would not have reassessed their values and become the progressive, representative and (essentially peaceful) countries that they are today without the devastating losses they suffered in the 1940s.

So, what are we to make of the Middle East and the global hot spots? We no longer allow wars to be fought to the bitter end. When one side starts to lose badly, the UN (or some other entity) steps in and negotiates an end to hostilities. The result? The losing government (and the subject people) don't bear the full weight of their defeat...they can rationalize away their loss (just as the Germans did after their loss in the First World War).

There is an old episode of classic STAR TREK named "A Taste of Armaggedon." In that episode, Kirk and the Enterprise find two planets at war. The battles are fought by computer, but the casualties are real (if the computer indicates that you are a fatality, you have to report to a termination center). Kirk destroys this system and explains that it was immoral. If you sanitize war....if you make it less painful and less dreadful, then you make it more likely that you will HAVE war.

Thus, our modern age of limited war allows aggressive regimes like Iraq, Iran, and the others (think of all those warlike states in Africa) to consider war as a viable option. If it goes bad...well...the UN will step in before they are totally conquered. Hence, we get more war and more suffering.

Thus, it may be necessary for the US and the western world to end this era of limited war. If someone wants to make war on us, we will fight with every weapon at our disposal and we will not stop fighting until the enemy is totally destroyed. The opposition population must suffer horribly as a lesson so that other countries won't want to repeat that mistake.

War must be horrible. War must be the ultimate nightmare. Countries must realize that they cannot be hostile and aggressive without facing their own destruction. The militant Islamists must not be permited to feel that they can attack us with impunity.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Democrat Wishful Thinking [link]

The Washington Post writes:
Within hours of trouncing Sen. Mike DeWine (R) to become the first Democrat to win a Senate seat in Ohio since 1992, Rep. Sherrod Brown heard from a trio of Democratic well-wishers: Hillary Rodham Clinton, John Edwards and Barack Obama, presidential aspirants all.

The calls were hardly surprising.

"This is an important state," Brown said. "People know that."

Political strategists girding for 2008 are already studying Ohio, which this week produced a Democratic sweep of the most important statewide offices after backing President Bush and the Republicans in 2004. No Republican has ever reached the White House without winning here.

The political climate for the GOP this year was the worst in three decades, largely because of the Iraq war and corruption scandals. But Brown and his advisers believe his populist appeal to the middle class on economic issues was central to his decisive defeat of DeWine, a two-term incumbent who lost by nearly 500,000 votes.
Does Sharrod Brown really believe this? Do other Dems believe this? If so, then they may misread public attitudes.
Although the Iraq war provided a crucial opening, Brown hammered DeWine not just for backing Bush on matters of national security but also for being part of a Republican majority that worked closely with drug and energy companies on legislation that affects average Ohioans. Early and often, he accused DeWine of betraying the middle class.
This may just be an attempt by the Washington Post to stoke up support for the Dems by pointing to the one state where they made the most gains.

In truth, Ohio was a disaster for the Republicans because of horrible mismanagement by the Republican leadership in this state. George Voinovich was sworn in as Governor in 1991 and people expected that the Republicans would take a conservative line in governing the state. Instead, we got increased spending and higher taxes...and the spending was not well done. Looking back, it seems that the Republicans were afraid that if they cut government programs that they would scare away the political center. They were afraid that the Dems would paint them as heartless spending cutters.

So, in order to deny the Dems that argument, the Reps increased spending in certain areas: social services and education. But these programs were not really important to them...or maybe they did not really believe in them...because these programs were poorly managed. The result, Ohio has become a high tax/low service state.

Kimberley A. Strassel described the situation very well in an Opinion Journal column:

Sadly, the national Reps seem to be following some of the same playbook. Witness the President's "No Child Left Behind" program and the drug benefit program for senior citizens. Republicans accepted these programs (and many conservatives opposed them) because they felt that it was window dressing necessary to make the political center feel safe with Republicans. "Gee, Eileen, thems Republicans really ain't so heartless."

Republicans did poorly nationwide for the same reason they did poorly in Ohio. In part it was because of an unpopular and expensive war. But in part, it was also because there was a feeling that Republicans just were not properly managing government business. When you have leaders promoting expensive new programs that they really don't believe in, it should come as no surprise that these programs are not well managed and the money well spent.

Brown, Strickland, and other Dem leaders believe that Ohio (and American as a whole) are coming back to the Democrat idea that big government programs are good and necessary. The Dems have the advantage of really believing in the programs they are promoting. But they have the disadvantage of not realizing that, no matter how well they are managed, these programs will never work terribly well.

Americans are not pining for more government programs. They just want a well managed government. If Dems read last Tuesday's results as a cry for new spending, they will find themselves in for a horrible Wednesday morning someday in the not so distant future.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Battlestar GOP-actica: Beyond the Red [States] Line

The Democrats have won for now. But let's remember a few good quotes from William Adama:

"Mourn the dead later. Right now, best thing we can do is get this ship into the fight."

"You can run if you like. This ship will stand and it will fight."

The Democrats are victorious for now. But we will take a jump beyond the red line (err...the red STATES line), reorganize, and rejoin the battle.

Friday, November 03, 2006

It's Still The Same Old Story [link]

In Nevada, the political scene has been shaken by charges that the Republican candidate for Governor, Jim Gibbons, assaulted a woman in a parking garage. Why does this story seem familiar?

Because it is right out of the Democrat playbook. Take a look at the 1990 Minnesota race for governor. Republican Jon Grunseth was ahead in the polls. Then shocking charges were made against Grunseth...that several years earlier he had been swimming naked with a teenaged girl at a political fundraiser. The scandal destroyed Grunseth and he was forced to drop out of the race.

Only...a few days AFTER election day, it was discovered that charges were absolutely false. The mother and daughter team who made the claim were discovered to be life-long Democrats. It was unlikely that they would have been at a Republican fundraiser. Better yet...the pair had made identical claims against another Republican candidate a few years earlier.

Oddly enough, you can't find much information about that old story online. There are a few DEM sites that reference it...all of which embellish the lude elements (some say there were 2 naked teenaged girls in the pool, some say there were 4). NONE of them make note of the fact that the charges were proven to be totally false.

I sent an email to the Powerline boys. They are the authorities on all things political in Minnesota and they might be in a better position to make comparisons.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Earth to John Kerry...there is no draft [link]

It occurred to me earlier today that John Kerry's remark was a throw back to the a line from old movies.

"You know, education, if you make the most of it, you study hard, you do your homework, you make an effort to be smart, you can do well. If you don't, you get stuck in Iraq."

Yes, in old movies, some poor kid would get in trouble with the law and the judge would give the kid a choice...join the army or go to jail. Later, during the Viet Nam era, boys enrolled in college were (at least for a time) exempt from the draft. Stay in school and you stayed out of the war. Of course, the college deferrment was later repealed.

But this is the 21st Century. We have not had a draft since the 70s. The military has enough potential recruits that it keeps high standards about who will be accepted into the service.

So, John Kerry was talking about a situation that no longer exists. I am not the only person to notice this. Here is a quote from Clarence Page (the entire article is linked to above):
As a fellow Vietnam veteran, I received Kerry's remarks as a political version of Vietnam-era flashback syndrome. Back in the 1960s, it was common to say, "Study hard or you might go to Vietnam." That's because we had something then that young people now don't have to contend with--a military draft.

Today's military is all-volunteer and a much broader mix by age, education and background than the Vietnam-era military. In fact, America's military has never been better educated. Recent enlistment shortfalls because of the Iraq war have pressured the Pentagon to relax some of its standards. But discussion of that problem, among others, is muffled by the uproar over Kerry's callousness.
Foot in mouth disease....I think John Kerry may have the first FATAL form of this illness!

Political Danger for the GOP in Ohio [link]

According to a report this morning in the Columbus Dispatch, Dems in Ohio are making a major push to match Rep GOTV. And Rep volunteers are finding an electorate that is surly, fatigued, and unhappy.
This year, the Republicans have the same machinery in place that has delivered victory after victory in Ohio. But, privately, GOP officials worry that some of their most loyal voters might stay home.

A Franklin County Republican who has campaigned door-to-door observed, "There is a fatigue among Republicans. It’s going be a real test of our (turnout) ability, let’s put it that way."
This could spell danger for Republican office holders in Columbus and in DC.
Two years ago, a skilled Democratic get-out-the-vote operation enabled Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry to defeat Bush by a staggering 226,000 votes in Cuyahoga County — usually enough to win the state.

But Bush won the state — and the presidency — because Republicans’ "72-hour plan" turned out huge percentages of voters in numerous smaller, more-Republican counties. In some precincts, turnout topped an unheardof 90 percent, and Bush reaped a large majority of those votes.

"We recognize that the Republican machine is very good at this," said Lee Fisher, the Democratic nominee for lieutenant governor. But he said his party’s operation is "better than what we did two years ago, although we did very well two years ago. The difference is that we’re not only going to be turning out in urban areas, we’re turning out in every county in the state."

Carlos Todd, a former Butler County GOP chairman who is close to the party’s conservative religious base, acknowledged that many conservatives have been "somewhat complacent and maybe a little disgusted with some of the things that have happened with the (Republican) party." But he predicted religious conservatives will turn out.

"They can’t live with the consequences if they don’t," Todd said.

Libby Cupp of Allen County, whose husband, Robert, is running for the Ohio Supreme Court, also has sensed a change. When she telephoned likely Republican voters in early October from a phone bank in Lima, people either hung up or tersely said, "Well, if it’s short, I’ll answer a question."

During the past two weeks, though, Cupp said she has received a warmer reception and senses a change in GOP attitudes.

Still, Democrats and their allies are almost giddy.
Of course, as always, the Dems have THEIR source of "volunteer" labor (if you can call paid employees of a tax exempt organization "volunteers").
As Pryce walked through Upper Arlington on Sunday, an organized-labor phone bank just a couple of miles away hummed with activity. Tucked in the basement of the Service Employees International Union local on Dublin Road, it can accommodate 48 callers. Volunteers from unions and Democratic campaigns such as that of Pryce’s opponent, Mary Jo Kilroy, can make thousands of calls daily.

Todd Hornyak, a letter carrier and union member from Hilliard who has spent hours in that basement, said about 80 percent of the union members he has telephoned pledged to support union-endorsed candidates — Kilroy, Democratic gubernatorial nominee Ted Strickland, Democratic Senate hopeful Sherrod Brown.

"It’s the economy and the war," he said.

During the final four days of the campaign, the AFL-CIO will focus on 500,000 Ohio union members who voted in the 2004 election but not in 2002. The labor organization says it will make 1 million telephone calls and knock on 280,000 doors. The Ohio Democratic Party says it will have its own 20,000 volunteers contacting 1.9 million households.
Where would the Dems be without organized labor to give them money and a source of people to knock on doors and man the phone banks. Paid for by union dues (including MINE...curse curse).

Ohio is a political disaster right now. A few nights ago I got a call from a former office holder asking if I could work door-to-door. I had to say "no" because I am a classified civil servant. We had a long talk anyways. It's nice to know that I still rank high enough to get a call from a former state rep instead of just some ordinary phone bank volunteer.

But it was not a happy call. I was glad to hear from Bill, but he did not have much happy news to give me. He said that there would be little joy for Republicans running statewide in Ohio.

I guess we will find out in less than a week.