October 10, 2003

MICROSOFT AND THE LAW


Microsoft is facing a proposed class action lawsuit for their handling of security and viruses.

My reaction: It's about time Gates feels some pressure on his wallet. Where were these lawyers when Windows Me was released? That "new" OS was just a money making scam from the start, and it was so defective it should have been recalled or subject to a class action lawsuit.

Meanwhile, it looks like Microsoft has decided to abandon further development of their Internet Explorer browser monopoly. I use Mozilla/Firebird half the time now and it's a better product. Tabbed browsing is becoming a must-use feature for me.

Posted by Chris Regan at 04:44 PM | Comments (9) | TrackBack

FORCE STRUCTURE AND STRATEGY FOR WORLD WAR 4

One of the biggest mistakes of the post 9-11 Bush presidency was failing to use the resulting patriotic fervor to immediately build up our volunteer military force to fight the World War we were about to fight. It's too late now. The moment is now lost, the momemtum has died and the political capital has vaporized. No longer are people demanding to know what they can do to help fight the war.

We now have our hands tied by a limited number of overstretched forces and not even a draft can make up for the failure to plan. The very best analysis I've seen on the current dilemma and the faulty reasoning that got us here was done recently by Stratfor. Here it is reposted online for non-subscribers. Read the whole thing.

If you've been concerned over the last two years by the lack of serious discussion and criticism on this issue, Stratfor covered it brilliantly. Too bad for the Dems that everyone knows they don't care about building up the military or fighting this war, or they would have a slam dunk issue to hammer Bush with.

Here's another interesting article from last month on the secretive scope of the Fourth World War. This type of low-intensity stuff we do have the troops for. What we lack is the strength to fight simultaneous major conflicts, and to simutaneously control and rebuild the defeated enemy territory as we move on to quickly fight the next major battle.

This problem relates to another big mistake Bush made more recently that stopped the Iraq momentum dead. Bush showed a soft political underbelly immediately after declaring victory in Iraq. He not only refused to react to Syrian provocation in Iraq, but instead signaled that we were tired of fighting and desperately wanted peace with the Palestinians and their terrorist supporters. It was almost like we were the weakened losers. Very bizarre. It seemed transparently offered to appease terrorist-loving war critics. Bush simply handed the intangible power that comes with a victory right back to his enemies. Nice guy -- too nice.

He might have otherwise made a powerful offer to cease and desist with an appropriate "cowboy warmonger" attitude. That that may have worked, but his language instead screamed 98-lb weakling. Syria and the Palestinians took what Bush gave them and essentially just kicked Middle Eastern sand in his face. The Palestinians did their usual sham dance, while Syria saw an golden opportunity to use Bush's time out to infiltrate more terrorists into Iraq and further weaken us. Bush's response then was to say, "bring 'em on." Unfortunately the cowboy persona returned too late and in a purely defensive posture. The proper response would be to strike targets deep in Syria and possibly inside the Iranian border in an "Operation Stand Back." Right now it looks like the only F-16's the Syrians have to worry about are Israeli.

UPDATE: I haven't lost hope that Bush can pull a rabbit out of his hat. He always seems to do that somehow. Nobody is perfect, and I recognize that we could be much worse off without his leadership. Constructive criticism is important though, and it's too bad that the Democrats have little more than pure hatred to offer.

Posted by Chris Regan at 04:02 AM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

REP. PETER KING ON L'AFFAIRE PLAME

I'm hopeful that this CIA leak investigation may lead to bigger questions being asked...questions like: "Is the CIA a rogue agency?"

Against this backdrop, isn't the position of Wilson's spouse at the CIA a matter of legitimate concern or debate? Isn't it more significant that we have a rogue spy machine operating at cross purposes with our national interest than who said what to Robert Novak?

And how much credibility should we give to Wilson, who shows off pictures of his wife, comparing her to an actress in a TV spy drama?

America is at war with international terrorism. For us to win that war, the CIA must be focusing its attack on Islamic fundamentalists - not spreading disinformation against the elected leaders of our nation.

The CIA must be made to realize that we don't have the luxury of being at war with ourselves. For the CIA to get that message, perhaps the time has come for some heads to roll.


That's the real juicy story behind all the Joe Wilson propaganda. The mainstream media is simply following their new darling and making him an honorary executive editor, reporting whatever he tells them to report.

Joe Wilson says it and it becomes the complete story word for word -- or should I say lie for lie? Wilson did a thorough investigation in Niger. Lie. Karl Rove ordered his wife outed. Lie. Six reporters shopped before Novak. Lie. Nobody knew his wife was CIA. Lie. Valerie Plame now the top target for assassination. Lie.

But then there's...Valerie "Security Risk" Plame bragging to Joe "Security Risk" Wilson on their first date that she was a CIA agent working undercover posing as an energy analyst. That's a rare gem of truth the media forgot to widely report, let alone investigate further. The only two people we know so far that have recklessly revealed what they knew to be sensitive CIA business are Joe and Valerie.

Some speculation that the FBI and CIA should be doing: It's not beyond the realm of possibility that Joe Wilson sabotaged the initial investigation for reasons other than his liberalism. Did he do it on behalf of a very wealthy client or nation? If his wife had a hand in the assignment of the sensitive task, did she know of any plan to sabotage the investigation? They should both take lie detector tests before anyone else is given one.

Who hired Joe Wilson and why? It should be more important to the current White House and CIA than the question of who hired Craig Livingstone was to the Clinton White House and FBI.

Posted by Chris Regan at 01:43 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

October 09, 2003

AN ARMY OF ONE

"An Army of One" is the new motto the U.S. Army uses to recruit the MTV2 generation. It's pathetic, and 180 degrees out of whack, considering that instilling team unity at the expense of individuality is the most important goal of basic training. But the motto strangely fits for recruiting individuals, with no allegiance to the United States, who may want to infiltrate the US Army for whatever reason. A translator/spy or terrorist "army of one" can do a lot of damage. You'd think that after hand grenades have twice been thrown into tents full of troops while on the Iraqi border before the last two wars that the U.S. Army would get a clue. Akbar and Muhammad may just be the tip of an iceberg.

Michelle Malkin warns of the magnetic attraction of our current policy:

If Osama bin Laden snuck into our country illegally, bought fake immigration papers and changed his name to Osmundo Ben Ladeno, could he join the U.S. military?

You betcha!

Last week, the Army announced that Pvt. Juan Escalante, a 19-year-old illegal alien from Mexico who had used a $50 bogus green card to enlist, would be allowed to remain in the armed forces. Wait, there's even more good news for ID fakers looking to infiltrate the military: Thanks to President Bush's executive order allowing non-citizen soldiers to obtain expedited naturalization benefits, Escalante – an admitted, two-time lawbreaker – will be rewarded with American citizenship. Army officials at Fort Stewart, Ga., have promised to actively assist Escalante in securing legal status.

...If homeland defense experts understand that employing illegal aliens who used false IDs to get contracting jobs at military installations is an obvious national security concern, then why can't the Pentagon see that allowing them to join the ranks is even more threatening to our laws, order and sovereignty?


Good question.

Posted by Chris Regan at 01:25 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

THE MEDIA'S ROLE IN THE WAR ON TERROR

"Either you're with us, or you're with the terrorists." -- applied to the media by the author of Beyond Baghdad: Postmodern War and Peace


The media must face up to their responsibility for strategic outcomes. This will be tough, since they've had a free ride for so long. Indeed, the media's all-purpose motto seems to be "Not our fault."

Yet negative outcomes increasingly are the media's fault. Terrorists use the media with great skill - it's no accident that the great age of terror coincides precisely with the expansion and globalization of the broadcast media.

To an extent few journalists will admit, terror as we know it depends on the media as its accomplice, amplifying the terrorist's deeds and shaping successes out of terrorist failures - the opposite of the media's approach to American efforts.

From the terrorists' perspective, 9/11 was, above all, a media event - a global demonstration of their power.

This is not an argument for propaganda, or for turning our press into mindless red-white-and-blue cheerleaders. But the media must face up to the responsibility that goes with their influence.

Some degree of inaccuracy is inherent in any human system, including the media. But don't tell me you're reporting honestly, when you're only reporting the negative one-tenth of one per cent of what's happening, while playing up each terrorist attack.

The media form as decisive a strategic factor as our military. Their professed neutrality is a sham. Distorted reporting is at least as deadly as any bomb in our arsenal.


This is why those "outdated" laws prohibiting actions and speech that support the enemy in a war should still be taken seriously today. I'm tired of hearing the left talk about wartime free speech rights -- and hearing their assertions that the "real patriot" is essentially the person who shouts "firebomb!" in a crowded theater (of war), fans the flames of terror by blowing smoke, and then criticizes the productive firefighters and their chief in the middle of the firefight.

UPDATE: I myself offer some criticism of Bush in a new post above. The difference with the Dems and the mainstream media, I think, is the blatant dishonesty and distortion of facts that go along with destructive criticism not designed to help us win.

MORE: Our attempt to reach out to Al-Jazeera is officially over.


Sunni insurgents and al-Qaida combatants in Iraq are also using Al-Jazeera to send messages and broadcast propaganda.

But for Washington, the situation has become unacceptable. The administration has sent a sharp message to Qatar that it must restrain Al-Jazeera. Officials warned that Congress is so fed up with Qatar that leading committee chairmen are ready to demand sanctions on Doha. On Saturday, President Bush telephoned King Hamad to discuss the issue.

Qatar has not ignored the U.S. threats. The king ordered Al-Jazeera to clean up its anti-U.S. incitement. So far, Al-Jazeera removed two anti-U.S. cartoons from its website. The move has prompted a confrontation between the anti-U.S. English-language staff against the more benign Arabic employees at the station.


CNN and CBS are next.

Posted by Chris Regan at 12:22 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

October 07, 2003

GOVERNATOR STORMS SACRAMENTO

Republicans, there is good news and bad news coming from the west coast tonight. The good news, California is ours. The bad news, California is ours (hat tip to Dave Letterman).

The last numbers I saw had Yes on the recall by 58 to 42, which should put it well beyond any court challenges based on hanging chads. It's likely that Ahnuld will get more votes on his own than Davis got in opposition to the recall, also robbing the Democrats of their planned two-pronged assault on Schwartzenegger's legitimacy. So the two post-recall hopes for the Dems--legal challenges and polemical canards, seem to have been crushed tonight. That's good for everyone in the long run.

For Republicans, it's another pick-up in a blue state, this time by extraordinary means and with an amazing mandate to govern. Roughly 60% of Californians voted for either Ahnuld or Tom McClintock, far more than the leading Democrat could muster. So the Dems also cannot say that the people still wanted a Democrat in office, but got snafued by the recall question. Californians clearly understood what was at stake, and wanted something new, repudiating the current crop of Democrats available.

If they have a soul left, the Democrats should take some vital lessons away from this vote. First, the slime machine clearly backfired on them. Of voters who decided within the last week whether to vote for recall and with whom to replace Davis, a solid plurality of around 38% went with recall and with Ahnuld--the grope-a-dope campaign of the LA Times actually may have hurt both Davis and Bustamante, as it should have. The Democrats could also learn that selling their party and the government to special interests, especially to interests that would harm our security, is a terrible idea and one for which they will pay a steep price. The Democrats may also learn that voters watch government spending, and generally want it kept within sane limits.

President Bush would do well to learn that lesson too.

For the Republicans, it may be tempting to conclude from tonight's tally that the country wants the GOP to moderate on social issues. That would be a false impression, in my opinion. California isn't Texas, or Pennsylvania, or anywhere else. It's California, a left-leaning state that is quite liberal on social issues. An Ahnuld could win there easily, but would likely have more difficulty winning elsewhere. The GOP will moderate social issues at its peril if it does so nationwide. Its base is one part fiscal conservatives, one part social conservatives. The latter are more passionate voters, and are currently more strongly aligned with the GOP than their counterparts. The party should keep this in mind when planning for future campaigns, and not turn the Ahnuld win into some kind of mandate for party-wide change.

All tolled, what a fascinating moment in history we are watching. For only the second time in American history, a governor has been tossed from office in the midst of his term by the will of an angry and dissatisfied public. An immigrant actor who arrived in this country a few decades ago with little more than a burning desire to succeed is to become the governor of the nation's most populous state. He'll inherit an almost unbelievably difficult fiscal situation and face off against what will probably prove to be a very hostile legislature. And most of the budget he will deal with is subject to mandates passed by the people of the state, limiting his discretion on spending. The Terminator has the fight of his life ahead of him.

I wish him well, as I do Gray Davis, who is indeed a slimy and awful politician, but nonetheless human.

MORE: Evidence is that the Democrats will learn nothing from this. The very name of their party blog alienates anyone who believes in traditional values or the value of decorous public discourse. It demeans the idea of noble public service. And it's kind of dumb. After all, they're the donkey party, right? Should they really call their own blog "Kicking A$$?" Isn't that the GOP has been doing to them for the past few years?

UPDATE: Jonah Goldberg is brilliant today.

By the way, I'll be out of range for a few days. Blog rehab, long overdue. Chris Regan will take the helm in my absence.

Posted by B. Preston at 11:00 PM | Comments (5) | TrackBack

OBLIGATORY RECALL POST

How honest would you like me to be on this thing? Totally? M'kay.

Gray should go. It would've been better had he gone down to Bill Simon, but he didn't thanks to the way he, a Democrat, rigged the GOP primary. So Dem symps can choke on that one--they keep harping about Republican power grabs all the while gerrymandering themselves seats they don't deserve in Texas and spoiling the primary of the other party in California. The Dems are, as a party, beneath contempt. They have a long history of figuring out who is currently America's number one enemy and siding with them, tacitly if not overtly. Sandanistas? Dems sided with them. Socialists in Europe who shilled for the USSR? Dems sided with them. Read Mona Charen's Useful Idiots if you don't believe me.

Who should replace Gray? Honestly, I can't say that I care much. I'd like McClintock for his ideas, but I don't like the way he piled on Ahnuld when the LA Times became the PR arm of the Democrats over the past week. If I were in CA, I'd either go for McClintock or Ahnuld--the latter, mostly just to spite the Dems and the LA Times. Newspapers should not get away with engineering October Surprises all the while covering up for the guy they like. They're no longer a legitimate part of the press when they do that, and might as well just print the Dems' talking points and call it "news."

That said, I'm not at all enthusiastic about an Ahnuld win. Not for the groping. Caddish behavior to be sure, but the Times slimed him with it and let it drip drip just to keep the story alive. So he gets more of my sympathy than my anger with all that. I just like him as a pol very much. He's barely a Republican--in fact, other than security issues it's hard to see how he is a Republican at all. Pro-abort, pro gun control, etc etc. Andrew Sullivan will undoubtedly blame it all on prudes if Ahnuld loses, but as usual Sulli is just being a blowhard smear artist too full of his own self-righteousness to see that people may have real, concrete reasons for opposing someone that he likes.

But I didn't come here to bash Sulli, fun as that might be.

I'd never vote for Bustamante. He's part of the problem. He's a life-long pol, once a member of a very questionable organization that from which he refuses to distance himself, and he just doesn't seem like he has any command of the facts or the situation. He couldn't manage to balkanize the Latino vote in sufficient numbers to get a life, which speaks poorly of him and well of the voters he failed to persuade. The day we lock in racial voting blocs is the day we start devolving into little statelets. Some liberals think that's a good idea. I don't. So Bustamante is a bust for me.

But all said, whoever wins gets a tar baby for their efforts. A lousy deficit situation and a Democrat legislature that will not countenance the real reforms that will be necessary. That legislature has been passing the awful bills--drivers licenses for illegal aliens at a time when we're fighting terrorists who will obviously use that benefit to kill people--that Davis has been signing lately. That legislature is a pathetic lefty gashouse. If you can't recall or at least tame it, you can't fix California. And they'll be neither tamed nor recalled as I see it.

So if Ahnuld wins, or McClintock, or Bustamante, what of it? It says little about the big political picture for 2004, unless the problems get solved by then--which they won't.

So...Recall Davis! Go Ahnuld! Or Go Tom! Whatever.

Posted by B. Preston at 04:32 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

TERRORIST SYMP RUNS FOR CITY COUNCIL

Her name is Aimee Smith. She refers to all Israelis as "Zionists" and conservatives as "fascists" and lends her feet in marches supporting Palestinian terrorists. And she's running for city council in Cambridge, MA.

She should be stopped.

The 12th Man has more.

Posted by B. Preston at 03:57 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

October 06, 2003

ARREST VALERIE PLAME!

Jack Shafer is the voice of reason on L'affaire Plame, citing the applicable law to argue that it's very unlikely that the alleged leaker actually broke any laws:

1) That the individual has or had "authorized access to classified information that identifies a covert agent." If Novak's administration sources had only unauthorized access to the information about covert officer Plame, learning about her identity and her mission, say, in a hallway conversation from a visiting CIA officer, the law wouldn't apply here. Perhaps they might go after the hypothetical CIA officer, but they'd run in to a slew of other legal problems sketched out below.

2) That in addition to having had authorized access to the information about the covert agent, the individual must have "intentionally" disclosed it to an individual not authorized to receive classified information. This clause protects the government employee or member of Congress who might accidentally blurt out the name and identity of a covert agent. (In 1991, Sen. David Boren, D-Okla., mentioned the name of a CIA station chief as he emerged from a closed-door session.) So, in addition to the other tests, a prosecutor would also have to prove the leaker's intent to blow the agent's cover. This poses a huge problem in the Novak case because the vague language of his column doesn't identify Plame as covert, but as a "CIA operative on weapons of mass destruction." It's plausible that Novak's source didn't know—as we now know—that Plame was "undercover."

3) That the individual knew he was disclosing information that identifies a "covert agent and that the United States is taking affirmative measures to conceal such covert agent's intelligence relationship to the United States."

Based on the above criteria, which boil down to the leaker having had access to classified information, intentional disclosure of an agent or agents undercover, and that the individual was aware that the disclosing info identified a covert agent that the country is actively concealing, it's clear that if Plame was using non-official cover status, at least one individual broke all three rules.

Her name is Valerie Plame.

According to Maureen Dowd's column last week, Plame leaked to her beau very early in their courtship:

Valerie Plame and Joseph Wilson both happened to alight in Washington, their jet-set schedules intersecting, and spotted each other across a cocktail party filled with foreigners. "I saw this striking blonde," he recalled, still sounding smitten six years later. At first she said she was an energy analyst, but confided sometime around the first kiss that she was in the C.I.A. "I had a security clearance," grinned Mr. Wilson, then a political adviser to the commander of U.S. forces in Europe.

Presuming that she had proper credentials, and how could she not if she was undercover, Plame had access to classified material. If she was undercover, she knew it when she told Wilson that she was CIA. And she disclosed information that identified an agent that the US was actively concealing at the time--herself.

So arrest her already. She was a lawbreaking security risk.

Yes, I'm being facetious. A little.

On a more serious note, it's nearly always the case that undercover CIA ops are not allowed to tell those closest to them that they are working undercover. Over the years I have made acquaintance with a couple of NSA types, neither of which had ever told their spouses even the slightest detail about their jobs and wouldn't tell me a thing even after I'd known them for a while, and they were at least able to disclose that they worked for No Such Agency. If Plame was really working undercover as some kind of energy specialist, and she told her suitor(s) about it, she was in fact a security risk. Which is why when this story shakes out, I suspect we'll find out that her CIA career was less clandestine than we've been led to believe thus far.

Either way, it's pretty much over. If there was a leaker, and six reporters know the truth on this but are hiding behind some kind of journalist's privilege to put the country through hell when they could stop it with a word, that leaker has outed her. And she was apparently all too willing to out herself.

On the other hand, no one has published a picture of her to date. At least not that I've seen. And it's a fair bet that if she was working undercover, she probably wasn't using her real name. So it's entirely possible that some semblance of her cover might be intact.

UPDATE: Well, was she really an undercover op or not? Joe Wilson--and the CIA for that matter--won't answer. But while Ms. Plame "would rather cut of her right arm" than talk to the press Gumshoe Joe keeps insisting that a crime was committed, heads should roll, Karl Rove is Beelezbub, etc.

I get more skeptical of this story every day. It may turn out that there was no leak, that Wilson himself is the one who tried to get his wife's status into stories to bolster his own credibility, and the White House made things worse by calling the "leaker" a lawbreaker.

Posted by B. Preston at 10:42 PM | Comments (11) | TrackBack

THE FBI GAVE MONEY TO HAMAS

During the Clinton years, to figure out how its cash flow worked and to see if Hamas would use it for terrorist purposes.

What did they think--Hamas would use it to wire up schools with internet access? Well, as it turns out it may have gone to similar projects. The sting was a bust.

It's a very weird story--read it all--it involves American converts to Islam, FBI agents who later warned us that Arabs were training in pilot schools around the country, and a Chinese woman spy.

That last--Chinese female spies connected to FBI operations--is starting to become a pattern.

Posted by B. Preston at 09:22 PM | Comments (5) | TrackBack

INS DEPORTED AL QAEDA-LINKED TERROR SUSPECT WITHIN DAYS OF OKC BOMBING

J.M. Berger has doggedly followed the terrorist trail for more than a year, especially as relates to alleged "dirty bomber" Jose Padilla and his possible role in the Oklahoma City bombing. Berger's newest story is a mind-blower:

Seven days after the Oklahoma City bombing, the INS agreed to deport a brother-in-law of Osama bin Laden who had been implicated as a possible accessory to the attack by a jailhouse confession and documents relating to bomb construction.

At the same time, the government agreed to remove allegations of terrorism from Mohammed Jamal Khalifa's INS records and to return evidence seized from his luggage.

That evidence was...interesting:

Evidence in the FBI's possession at the time potentially implicated the Saudi businessman in the 1993 World Trade Center bombing, the airliner bombing plot and the Oklahoma City bombing. Khalifa was formally named as an unindicted co-conspirator in the World Trade Center case.

While in jail, Khalifa fought deportation to Jordan, where he expected a death sentence for terror-related activity. When that sentence was dropped due to a change in the evidence against him, he decided to stop fighting deportation and instead request it. He got his wish. Intervention on his behalf to allow deportation came from top officials:

On April 26, 1995, Khalifa abruptly changed strategy and requested the deportation proceed. His lawyer blamed an "anti-alien climate" generated by the OKC attack for his change of heart.

The U.S. government not only agreed to Khalifa's request for deportation to Jordan, but in exchange for his cooperation it expunged terror-related charges from his INS record, according to contemporaneous newspaper accounts of his INS hearing in the Chronicle and the San Francisco Examiner.

According to author Peter Lance, the Justice Department had wanted to hold Khalifa and investigate his alleged ties to terrorism as early as December. But Secretary of State Warren Christopher wrote a three-page letter to Attorney General Janet Reno in January urging that the deportation proceed.

Read the whole thing--there is much more than what I have quoted here, and it's compelling. The government had one of the few terrorists in the world who could possibly link all three of the most deadly terror attacks in US soil in the past decade, and they let him go. Worse, they gave him all the evidence they had against him, which was quite a bit. Bomb recipes that matched both the 1993 WTC bombing and the OKC bombing, manuals for terrorist tactics, the works--and they gave it all back. Since Khalifa is allegedly one of al Qaeda's money men, having him in hand could have allowed the government to unravel and stop bin Laden's money flow system years ago, possibly preventing 9-11 and the war we're fighting today. And we may never know if there was an Arab terrorist connection to Oklahoma City.

Posted by B. Preston at 08:57 PM | Comments (5) | TrackBack

October 05, 2003

YOU HAVE A CHOICE

We have been at war for two years now. We are two major battle victories in, but much still remains to be accomplished before we can claim that the campaign to defend ourselves, our families, our freedoms and our way of life has been won. As things stand, no single military can stop ours, and it would take a mighty collection of militaries arrayed against ours to even put up a decent fight. On paper, we're the '99 Rams and the rest of the world is the Cincinnati Bengals from, well, pick any year in the last ten or so.

But wars are not fought on paper. To win the war against the Nazis that attack us with terrorists and as terrorists, we have to do something in the real world. In the fall of 2001, having suffered 9-11's horror, we had a choice. At that fork in the road, we could have chosen to suffer the attack without responding, we could have chosen to conduct some type of police action to attempt to apprehend the perpetrators, or we could have chosen to view 9-11 as an act of war, and fight back.

We obviously chose the latter option, invading Afghanistan to topple the Taliban and crush al Qaeda's safe havens there. A majority of the American public--in fact, a majority of the world--supported out actions there. Had we chosen to limit ourselves to a police action, it's very likely that the Taliban would still rule Afghanistan and al Qaeda would still have many or even most of its training camps. They would be training new terrorists and hatching new, probably even more lethal plots, against us to this day. No police force would have been able to get anywhere near Osama bin Laden or any other al Qaeda principal figure; it would have been slaughtered if it even tried apprehending anyone responsible for 9-11. And choosing no response would simply have invited more, and larger, terror attacks. The free world understood this and supported us, and the Taliban is history and al Qaeda is in the midst of a massive diaspora. Well, those that are still alive or haven't been captured and sent to Gitmo, anyway.

Much of the world didn't follow us into Iraq, but many of our major longtime allies did. The UK, Australia, Poland and a number of other countries supplied troops. South Korea and Japan soon will, and Japan has offered its services in other ways to help our efforts in Iraq. But a majority of the American public did support the Iraq liberation, and by a wide margin. Maintaining morale is key to winning wars in a democracy, as we can win every single battle in the field yet lose the war if we lose heart. Such a thing has happened once before. In Vietnam our lost heart had little effect on the average American, though it did result in a Communist takeover of the south and the enslavement of millions. If we lose heart in this war, it is likely to effect us in far more immediate ways: more 9-11's, more often, with more deaths. The stakes are too high for us to call it quits and walk away.

Which brings me to the "choice" part in the title. Most of the American left supported the Afghan war, if weakly, but a majority of the American left opposed the battle in Iraq, often loudly and bitterly. But the left lost that debate; and we are now committed in Iraq for the long haul. We have blasted a noxious regime into the President's termed dust bin of history, and one thing is for certain: Whatever the terrorists around the world wanted to be doing now, we have drawn them to a state in the middle of their own back yard for a showdown. Whoever wins Iraq, wins the war. It is that simple now.

Whether you supported the war in Iraq or not, it's now a done deal and has been for months. We have 150,000 troops in country whose lives are on the line protecting you and me from further terrorism, and working to break the backs of all the major international terrorist groups in the world. Whether you supported the war or not, these troops need your support, and not the sort of "we support our troops but not the war" variety. Because in reality, supporting the troops means hoping they accomplish their mission and come home safe. Anything less invites defeat. If they don't accomplish their mission--if for whatever reason we abandon Iraq now to its own fate--every one of our troops who have offered the ultimate sacrifice will have died in vain, their mission left forever undone. That should be an unacceptable outcome to all patriotic Americans, whether you supported the war at the outset or not. If you love this country, support the troops fighting and dying to protect it, and hope and pray that they do the task that is set before them as quickly as they can and come home to us.

Even if you're a die-hard pacifist, you can recognize the present reality and support the war effort. I liken it to the service of Quaker and Jehovah's Witness soldiers during World War II. Both sects are pacifist, so their young men who elected to serve found ways to serve in capacities that would help the country win the war but would keep them from having to actually confront and kill enemy soldiers. Most served as medics, one of the most dangerous tasks on the battlefield and one which requires immense courage under fire to accomplish. Others became cooks or chaplains or a hundred other things that offered the opportunity to lend non-lethal support for the war. They helped win the war, and stuck by their moral guns at the same time.

Today, most of us will never have to choose a noncombat job in the military as a way to serve without having to kill. We are not about to reinstate the draft; you will not be forced into uniform. But even if you did not support the war option beforehand, you can recognize that your side lost that argument and therefore elect to help out now. You can pray. You can write in support of our efforts to take down terrorist networks in the many non-violent ways that we are working to do this. You could even serve in the military in a noncombat position like the ones I have listed above. You can push that anti-war lump in your throat down a notch and decide that you will support the will of the American people though you may disagree with it.

The point is, even if you opposed war, your side lost that argument. A patriot recognizes when the majority is not with him, and assesses his options from there. Is it more patriotic at this point to keep screaming that you opposed war and filter all available facts to buttress your defeated position that war was a bad idea, or is it more patriotic to step up and support the effort though you are mindful that it was not the option you wanted? Is it more helpful to your countrymen to keep criticizing them for every step they take to win the war, or step up and help out and possibly hasten the war's end?

The fact is, the nation is in peril. As the Kay report in Iraqi weapons of mass destruction demonstrates, Saddam still had both the capability and intent to reignite his WMD programs right up to the end of his bloody reign, and would likely have done so the second UN sanctions against him had been lifted. Other similar rogues from Pyongyang to Tehran are still very much in power and driving hard to develop weapons than can level an American city and kill millions. Once they obtain those weapons, our freedom--our lives--are in jeopardy until those weapons are somehow taken out of the picture. Those states will hand those weapons to terrorists; North Korea has already pleged to sell its weapons to the highest bidder, and al Qaeda may be on the ropes but it is still a wealthy organization.

Now is the time for all Americans to step up and help win the war. In whatever way or shape you choose to do it, help win the war. Stop blasting your countrymen and help us defeat terrorists who are trying to kill us all. We are two years in now and the fork at which we could have chosen not to fight is long past, and your help even if you are resolutely opposed to war can hasten the war's end with a victory. But if you choose not to help--if you choose to carp and criticize and make it more difficult to win, you are endangering the country you claim to love. If your criticism saps the nation's morale, you make defeat more likely. It really is that simple.

Whether you supported war or not, you have a choice now. Join the rest of us, or take the just condemnation that will inevitably come your way. And learn to live with the way you behaved when your country needed you most.

Posted by B. Preston at 09:27 PM | Comments (21) | TrackBack