Thursday, March 22, 2007

How Not to Run a War...

As if the ideological underpinnings and strategic assumptions of the Iraq invasion weren't wrong enough, there's always the actual management of the operation to surpass all other levels of incompetence:

WASHINGTON, (AP) --Explosives looted from Iraq munitions sites will likely continue to support terrorist attacks throughout the region, a congressional report said Thursday, finding that some sites were still not secured more than three and a half years after the war started.

Failure to guard the sites "has been costly," the Government Accountability Office report said, noting looted munitions are being used to make roadside bombs, the No. 1 killer of U.S. soldiers in Iraq.

Quoting from previous Defense Department reports, the GAO study says widespread looting occurred after the fall of Baghdad in early 2003 because war planners didn't put enough troops into the country to secure weapons depots and because officials incorrectly assumed, among other things, that Iraqi soldiers would surrender and help with security.

The report recommended that the Pentagon do an Iraq-wide survey of unsecured sites and factor already identified lessons learned into future war planning.

Defense officials said Thursday they would have no comment beyond what the department said in the report. That is that commanders are aware of the problem, have done similar surveys over the past three years and don't have the manpower for a new one without harming the war effort.

This is inexcusable. For three and a half years, the President and the Joint Chiefs repeatedly, confidently assured the American people that enough troops had been dispatched to Iraq to handle the occupation. Anyone who dared to warn otherwise was branded a traitor or a fool. Yet, from this report it is entirely clear that for all during that time US commanders have known about this problem and just didn't have the troops to do anything about it. This is a perfect example of the shocking incompetence of the administration and its blithe disregard for reality as well as American lives, money, and America's credibility abroad.

Will anyone in the administration or the Pentagon face any real consequences for this monumental disaster? Probably not.

It's a Religion of Peace, Damn it!

Once again Muslims in Nigeria go out of their way to demonstrate the peaceful ways of Islam:

MUSLIM pupils at a secondary school in northeastern Nigeria beat a teacher to death today after accusing her of desecrating the Koran.

Oluwatoyin Olusase, a Christian, was adjudicating an Islamic Religious Knowledge exam at the school in Gombe state when the incident occurred.

The students attacked her outside the school compound after the exam and killed her, witnesses said.

It was not clear exactly what Olusase had done that angered the students.

Police confirmed the killing and said their intervention had prevented the incident from turning into a riot.

"We have received information that a female teacher has been lynched by her students. We are investigating the report," Gombe state police commissioner Joseph Ibi said.

At least five people were killed and several churches burned down in February 2006 in the neighbouring state of Bauchi by Muslims infuriated that a Christian teacher in a secondary school had tried to confiscate a Koran from a student who was reading it during class.

Word got out into the streets that the teacher had desecrated the Koran, infuriating Muslims who went on the rampage.

This should surprise absolutely no one. After all, it was Nigerian Muslims who went on a 2002 rampage after a newspaper columnist wrote that the Miss World pageant, then being held in Nigeria, might please Mohammed himself. For that horrible transgression, several hundred people who were in no way connected with the paper, the writer or the Miss World pageant were brutally murdered by rampaging Muslims. This is a typical pattern, Muslims, worldwide, seem to enjoy responding to any slight, real or imagined, with brutality and murder. It doesn't just happen in Nigeria; it happens anywhere Muslims live in large numbers. Last year's Danish cartoon episode being yet another example of Muslim intolerance.

The predictable pattern of Muslim violence against non-Muslims everywhere for any reason has led Rod Dreher to reconsider Samuel Huntington's prophetic 1993 bestseller, The Clash of Civilizations. Huntington examines the 1400 year history of Islamic violence against non-Muslims, and the high levels of Muslim-on-Muslim violence, and concludes that Muslims cannot be peaceably assimilated in large numbers into non-Muslim cultures. Dreher takes Huntington's admonitions to heart and concludes:

Observing the 14 centuries of hostility between Islam and the West, and the facts showing a disproportionate amount of violent conflict between contemporary Muslims and members of other civilizations, what is the rational conclusion to draw about the wisdom of Islamic immigration into the West at the current historical moment?

The "rational conclusion" is that Islam is incompatible with Western Civilization (or any other civilization) and that to prevent continued violence and death, the two must be separated. Immigration of Muslims into the West should be halted, and Muslims already living in the West should be encouraged to return to their homelands. Saudi money, which supports much of the radicalization of Muslims abroad, through the funding of extremist foundations and mosques, should be directly stopped by Western governments, no matter how hurt the feelings in Riyadh.

But even after the events of the last six years, Western leaders are still unable to take reasonable measures to defend their people and the cultures. Multiculturalism is the new civic religion and like the Catholic clerics who refused to look through Galileo's telescope and let reality challenge their faith, the Western intellectual elite refuses to acknowledge the bloody reality all around them. Thus, despite the carnage they chant: All peoples are equal. All people want freedom (i.e. the Western version). All cultures are the basically same. All religions are equally good and want the same things. Diversity is strength. War is peace. "God has planted in every human heart the desire to live in freedom." Ad nauseam. A laundry list worthless platitudes echoing the same intellectual bankruptcy and denial of reality. Unfortunately, this is also the dominant ideology of the West.

Nigeria's violence holds one last lesson for the hapless George W. Bush. A crucial bit of evidence with which to further evaluate his idea that bringing democracy to the Middle East is the panacea for Islamic violence:

At least 15,000 people have died in religious, communal and political violence in Africa's most populous country since 1999, when Nigeria returned to democracy after 30 years of almost unbroken military rule.

Add Nigeria to the list of nations - Iraq, Lebannon, Palestine, Egypt, Pakistan, Venezuela - in which democracy has worked such great wonders and brought America so many new friends.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Compassionate Spite

Like most politicians, President Bush is awfully talented when it comes to spending other people's money. Last week, he gave out all sorts of goodies on his trip to Latin America, where he kowtowed before Latin American leaders, apologized for America's prosperity and begged Latin Americans to like the US, pretty please. Back in Washington, he's going once more for the American taxpayer's wallet, this time with spite...

In response to concerns that some babies may be missing out on essential health care, the Bush administration will issue a rule making it easier for the infants of non-citizens to gain access to services covered through Medicaid.

Typically, newborns of Medicaid beneficiaries are deemed automatically eligible for the health care program during their first year as long as the mother remains eligible.

Last year, federal officials said this automatic status would not extend to infants whose delivery was covered through emergency Medicaid. Such emergency care covers the labor and delivery expenses for many uninsured families, including illegal immigrants.

On Tuesday, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services changed course. The agency said any newborn whose mother is eligible for the emergency care will be deemed automatically eligible for Medicaid during the baby's first year of life.

The nation's treasury is already empty. The President added trillions in future debt by promising senior citizens prescription drugs at the taxpayers' expense, now he is making it easier for illegal immigrants to hoist the expense of caring for their offspring on the very same Americans who don't want them in the U.S. in the first place. In short, the President very quietly just gave the American people the finger. Again. And without any outcry from the Republican Party - the alleged home of conservatism.

Afghanistan, the Lesser Mess

As the administration focuses its attention and resources on the mess it has created in Iraq, the situation in Afghanistan continues to worsen.

Sixty percent of Afghanistan's 30 million people are under 20 -- without the foggiest notion of what democracy stands for. Thirty-seven countries are involved in normalization and reconstruction -- with different agendas; some 2,000 nongovernmental organizations or NGOs (out of an estimated 25,000 worldwide) are now represented in Afghanistan. A former Afghan minister, speaking privately, said, "They spend over half their time coordinating among themselves.... The Afghan tango is now known as one step forward -- and three steps backward."

The Shia suburbs of Kabul are now under the control of Iranian or pro-Iranian agents. The capital city has mushroomed from 400,000 at the time of the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on America to 2 million today. Some 500,000 acres of public land was seized and sold for the benefit of the entrenched bureaucracy. To control this vast country of 30 million would require several hundred thousand troops. The U.S.- and allied-trained Afghan army numbers 20,000 instead of the 35,000 projected by now.

The consensus forged in the heady days of liberation in December 2001 is broken. Fear of the B-52 bombers is gone. And today's Afghanistan is totally insecure, so much so it has already been promoted to the ranks of failed states -- except for an all-pervasive opium culture that keeps Afghanistan from sinking into total chaos.

The illicit opium poppy industry is, according to a former minister in President Hamid Karzai's government, "a pyramid structure. If ever there were a management prize for the perfect supply chain," it would go to what generates from one-half to two-thirds of Afghan gross domestic product. He said there are "25 mafia dons at the top of the pyramid who control the key power levers. The Interior Ministry is owned by the drug industry." In Helmand Province (40 percent of the country's opium production), Taliban fighters protect poppy farmers from eradication efforts -- and extract millions of dollars for their services.

Apparently, Afghanistan is now a consensus nation - that is, a country held together by the consensus of foreign governments and Western aid groups. As such it is untenable. The Karzai government that President Bush once took such pride in, barely controls the Kabul buildings it occupies. Nation-building has apparently failed to forge anything approaching a working (or workable) national government. The relative calm of Afghanistan - in comparison to bloody Iraq - has kept the media from asking pointed questions about the status of U.S./Allied efforts there. Talk of the resurgent Taliban, regrouping in Pakistan (the fountainhead of most Muslim terrorism) dominates the discussion, but there is little examination of the long term situation in Afghanistan. The questions that need to be asked include whether it is possible to create a functional national government - since the Afghans seem to have neither the ability nor the inclination to try - and what the U.S. should do in the event that forming such a functional Afghan government is not a realistic likelihood. The U.S. can not afford to spend decades and billions more trying to turn Afghanistan into a dustier, more mountainous version of Minneapolis. Another fool's errand in Central Asia is not in America's long-term interest.

Monday, March 19, 2007

Washington D.C. - Squalor on the Potomac

For decades, Washington D.C. has been notorious as a city devoid of functioning government and awash in poverty and every attendant social ill. But because the city's population, like its government, is majority black, the very white U.S. Congress, which nominally is responsible for the city, has been unwilling to do anything substantive to bail the city out of its festering decline. Indeed, the other American city Washington D.C. most resembles is New Orleans. Another, corrupt city whose demography makes it immune to criticism or reform. Thus, the revelation that the capital's population is hugely illiterate will come as no surprise whatsoever.

WASHINGTON - About one-third of the people living in the national's capital are functionally illiterate, compared with about one-fifth nationally, according to a report on the District of Columbia.

Adults are considered functionally illiterate if they have trouble doing such things as comprehending bus schedules, reading maps and filling out job applications.

The study by the State Education Agency, a quasi-governmental office created by the U.S. Department of Education to distribute federal funds for literacy services, was ordered by Mayor Anthony A. Williams in 2003 as part of his four-year, $4 million adult literacy initiative.

Naturally, the U.S. government, not content to spawn disasters abroad, is working incredibly hard to make things even worse at home. That effort is working especially well in D.C.

The growing number of Hispanic and Ethiopian immigrants who aren't proficient in English contributed to the city's high functional illiteracy level, which translated to 170,000 people, said Connie Spinner, director of the State Education Agency. The report says the district's functional illiteracy rate is 36 percent and the nation's 21 percent.

By all means, let's import hundreds of thousands of aliens who cannot speak our language and do not understand our culture, so that they can congregate in slums in such numbers they will never feel the need to assimilate. Brilliant thinking. Much the same as that of Europe when they began importing thousands of Middle Easterners back in the 60's. Nothing could ever go wrong with that. Did anyone mention that almost half of Ethiopians are Muslim? Or that Ethiopia is rife with highly infectious diseases like meningococcal meningitis, protozoal diarrhea, hepatitis A and E, and typhoid fever? No worries. What could ever go wrong?