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RAPID RESPONSE (Archives)...Daily Commentary on News of the Day
This is a new section.  It will offer fresh, quick reactions by myself to news and events of the day, day by day, in this rapid-fire world of ours.  Of course, as in military campaigns, a rapid response in one direction may occasionally have to be followed by a "strategic withdrawal" in another direction.  Charge that to "the fog of war", and to the necessary flexibility any mental or military campaign must maintain to be effective.  But the mission will always be the same: common sense, based upon facts and "real politick", supported by a visceral sense of Justice and a commitment to be pro-active.  That's all I promise.

Click here to return to the current Rapid Response list

FRIDAY, June 30, 2006


MONDAY through THURSDAY, June 26 through 29, 2006


SUNDAY, June 25, 2006

Vacations are great!  Not the ones where you just take a few days off in your usual surroundings...but the ones where you get out of town.  We did just that last week: riding the waves of the Atlantic, playing a little golf, soaking up sun....I came back with nothing to grouse at.  But that was then.  This is now.  "I'm baaack".

Afganistan and all the other ...stans.  To hear the liberal news media tell it, nothing good ever happens: just more bloodshed of ours and our friends.  Well, that's not the way it is.  See David Brooks' article published in The Day a few days ago.  In addition, we should be considering the following:


FRIDAY through SATURDAY, June 23 through 24, 2006

Here's an interesting take on our history in Iraq."


ACFR NewsGroup No. 707, Monday, May 8, 2006

ITEM 3: David Frum: Who Lost Iraq?  It’s Not Who You Think

Who Lost Iraq? It's Not Who You Think
By David Frum
National Post  (Canada)
Publication Date: May 2, 2006

Who messed up Iraq? Donald Rumsfeld is the usual nominee. For conservative hawks, attacks on the U.S. Defence Secretary provide a way to attack the war without attacking the larger administration. And for liberal opponents of the war, attacks on Rumsfeld provide a way to attack the war without attacking the military that planned and executed that war.

Now comes an important new book, Cobra II: The Inside Story of the Invasion and Occupation of Iraq, by New York Times correspondent Michael Gordon and retired Marine Corps Lieutenant General Bernard Trainor. Their story bears hard on Rumsfeld. But it daringly points a finger at a normally blame-proof figure: the general who actually planned and led the Iraq campaign: General Tommy Franks, head of U.S. Central Command during both the Afghan and Iraq wars.

It was General Franks who adamantly refused to engage in post-war planning for Iraq. Long before George W. Bush was elected president, CentCom (then led by Gen. Anthony Zinni--a future opponent of Bush's decision to overthrow Saddam) had drawn up a contingency plan for war with Iraq. This plan was a huge and heavy Colin-Powell-style plan, which contemplated the use of at least 380,000 troops. It deviated in almost every way from the plan actually adopted in 2003--with one exception. To quote Gordon and Trainor: "There was a gaping hole in the occupation annex of the plan. CENTCOM would have the responsibility of general security. But there was no plan for the political administration, restoration of basic services, training of police, or reconstruction of Iraq." The principal author of the Zinni plan: his deputy, Tommy Franks.

As the war plan moved from the realm of the contingency to the realm of the real, Franks continued to refuse to think about what would happen after the shooting ceased. Gordon and Trainor again: "Franks told his commanders that his assumption was that Colin Powell's State Department would have the lead for the rebuilding of Iraq's political institutions and infrastructure."

In October, 2002, however, Franks' assumption was invalidated: At Rumsfeld's insistence, the President agreed that the Department of Defence would assume overall responsibility for the postwar occupation.

Rumsfeld's civilian deputies, Paul Wolfowitz and Doug Feith, welcomed this responsibility as an opportunity to put Iraqis in charge of their country's reconstruction. But there was only one organized group of Iraqis able to serve as a transitional, provisional government: Ahmed Chalabi's Iraqi National Congress (INC). And General Franks fully shared the fierce, almost unreasoning, hatred for the INC that pervaded the State Department and CIA.

The INC, for example, proposed to recruit a brigade of Free Iraqi forces to enter Iraq with the coalition. "Franks remained unenthusiastic, to say the least. After a briefing from [Feith's aide Bill] Luti on his pet project, Franks turned to Feith in a Pentagon corridor, letting him know where he stood: 'I don't have time for this f--king bullshit,' Franks exclaimed."

Franks wanted to race to Baghdad as rapidly as possible. To achieve his plan, he bypassed thousands of Iraqi Fedayeen fighters. These black-garbed guerillas ambushed and killed American soldiers--and then faded into the landscape. The Americans could not chase or identify them because Franks' determination to travel light had sent U.S. forces into battle with few or no interpreters.

In late March, Franks' deputy commander, John Abizaid, discreetly asked the INC for help. Chalabi offered 1,000 men. Gordon and Trainor point out that while Franks had previously disdained Luti's proposal to train a carefully screened Iraqi force, his command now proposed a variant of the plan "conceived in haste to deal with unexpected difficulties."

But by the time the INC men landed in southern Iraq, the emergency had passed, and Franks had reverted to his previous attitude. "The fighters arrived with virtually no provisions and no welcome. They were ushered into a busted-up hangar. . . . For weeks, [the local commander] scrambled to find a way to arm and equip them. . . . They never played a significant military role."

Franks flew into Baghdad on April 16 to meet with senior U.S. commanders. He told them they should prepare to pull out within 60 days. "Franks laid down the rule that was to guide the next phase of the operation: The generals should be prepared to take as much risk departing as they had in their push to Baghdad." Franks intended to hand over responsibility to a new Iraqi government. But he himself had guaranteed that no such government was waiting to go.

Franks lived by his own "quick out" principle. He retired from the army in July, 2003, selling his memoirs for a reported $5-million, booked a busy speaking schedule, and joined the board of the Bank of America.

SUNDAY through THURSDAY, June 18 through 22, 2006

"HAPPY FATHER'S DAY.  Here is some advice that any father can be proud to give to his child or grandchild."


>Bill Gates recently gave a speech at a
>High School about 11 things students did not and will
>not learn in school.  He talks about how feel-good,
>politically correct teachings created a generation
>of kids with no concept of reality and how this
>concept set them up for failure in the real world.
>Rule 1:  Life is not fair - get used to it!
>Rule 2:  The world won't care about your
>self-esteem. The world will expect you to
>accomplish something BEFORE you feel good about
>Rule 3:  You will NOT make $60,000 a
>year right out of high school.  You won't be a
>vice-president with a car phone until you earn both.
>Rule 4:  If you think your teacher is
>tough, wait till you get a boss.
>Rule 5:  Flipping burgers is not beneath
>your dignity.  Your Grandparents had a different word for
>burger flipping: they called it opportunity.
>Rule 6:  If you mess up, it's not your
>parents' fault, so don't whine  about your mistakes,
>learn from them.
>Rule 7: Before you were born, your
>parents weren't as boring as they are now.  They got
>that way from paying your bills, cleaning your
>clothes and listening to you talk about how cool you
>thought you were.  So before you save the rain
>forest from the parasites of your parent's
>generation, try delousing the closet in your own
>Rule 8:  Your school may have done away
>with winners and losers, but life HAS NOT.  In some
>schools, they have abolished failing grades and
>they'll give you as MANY TIMES as you want to get
>the right answer.  This doesn't bear the slightest
>resemblance to ANYTHING in real life.
>Rule 9:  Life is not divided into
>semesters. You don't get summers off and very few
>employers are interested in helping you FIND
>YOURSELF.   Do that on your own time.
>Rule 10:  Television is NOT real life.
>In real life, people actually
>have to leave the coffee shop and go to
>Rule 11: Be nice to nerds.  Chances are
>you'll end up working for one.
THURSDAY through SATURDAY, June 15 through 17, 2006

The Democrats and the Republicans each have a tiger by the tail; and whoever lets go without being eaten will win in November.  The Democrats' tiger is the war in Iraq.  Their position is totally unreasonable given the current facts on the ground there and throughout a dangerous world.  The Republicans' tiger is Immigration Reform.  There the conservative position is totally unreasonable given the relevant facts.  These facts have been addressed on several occasions in this section.  Now comes the article in the WSJ on Wednesday by Holman W. Jenkins entitled "Spitting Into The Wind On Immigration" (Opinion, pA15).  It is relatively short and very lucid on the  topic.  If the Republicans don't get this right, they will lose in November despite the Democrats' efforts to help them.  And they will have earned the loss.


MONDAY through WEDNESDAY, June 12 through 14, 2006


SUNDAY, June 11, 2006


FRIDAY and SATURDAY, June 9 and 10, 2006

More on America's options in the Middle East and vis a vis the Muslim world.  A very good recent book on the subject, informed by extensive personal experience and abundant research, is entitled "Storm From The East: The Struggle Between The Arab World And The Christian West" by Milton Viorst (Modern Library - Random House, New York, 2006).  Proceeding from a sobering history of Islam and Christianity going back to the Seventh Century, the author then puts in context his views regarding everything that this administration has done wrong since 9/11.  His proposed solution, however, seems to seek merely a return to the status quo ante, mediated by the Arab League.

It is my view that the the American world did change with the events of 9/11; that we were right to invade both Afganistan and Iraq, for different reasons; that the responsibility falls to us, as the only remaining superpower, to safeguard access to Middle Eastern oil as the life-blood of the modern world for decades to come; that we must make that strategic decision very clear to all, starting with the American people; that we must be much more the even-handed intermediary than we have been regarding the conflict between Israel and Palestine; and that we should continue to offer moderate Muslims everywhere a choice of self-government other than secular or religious despotism and the continued subjugation of 50% of the Muslim world: their women...a choice that they must implement with their own sweat and blood.  This approach is not only pre-emptive self-defense, and not only an effort to do the right thing by hundreds of millions of people in the world of Islam currently held down by their own "leaders".  It also gives a prospect of breaking the centuries - old chains of Christian - Islamic hostility that otherwise may well lead to a new and nuclear world war.  Much better than the status quo ante.   Fortunately, Congressional Republicans have just thwarted another Democratic siren song effort to hobble our options that would have prevented the U.S. from using war funds to plan for possible permanent bases in Iraq.  They never learn.  Meanwhile, let this debate continue.


THURSDAY, June 8, 2006

Abu Musab al-Zarqawi is dead.  This is a good time to assess our goals and methods with respect to the Middle East and to the entire world of Islam.  Reading the recently published book by Fawaz A. Gerges entitled "Journey of the Jihadist: Inside Muslim Militancy" (Harcourt Inc., 2006), it is clear that we are not dealing with a lunatic fringe, but with two generations of Muslims who have become, and have been made by their ultra-right Wahhabi teachers, staunch believers that the only way out of Islam's poverty, stagnation and humiliation is through the imposition of their brutal brand of religion on the world - and especially on "The Great Satan".

So, we have one non-negotiable position,  and two choices.  The non-negotiable, for decades to come and until we come to our senses regarding energy independence, is access to Middle Eastern oil.  For that, we will go to war with anyone, anytime.  Beyond that, we can take two paths.  One is to retreat within Fortress America, keeping out the foreigners who have for centuries been the yeast for our growth.  Call this "the decline and fall of the American empire".  The other is to re-assert our role in the world as that beacon on the hill representing freedom, hope and possiblities,as we have always been.  This will require decades-long committment of the American people, their treasure and their children, to continuing to promote secular democracy in the sea of Islam that is the Muslim world...a new world fought for by moderate Muslims themselves.  In either case, we Americans will remain open to direct attacks on our homeland; and each of us is a soldier.  There is no other choice.  Now should begin the most important debate among Americans since the founding of our country.  Fortunately, there are some influential people in our public life who see our future in these terms.  (See "America's Oil Well", by Thomas Friedman, in today's The Day, Commentary, pA11).  Will enough Americans have the maturity to engage in this debate and in the necessary decision?  I don't know.


TUESDAY through WEDNESDAY, June 6 through 7, 2006


MONDAY, June 5, 2006

It looks like there really is nothing new under the sun.  "Past is Prologue".


About the time   our original 13 states adopted their new constitution, in 1787, Alexander   Tyler, a Scottish history professor at the University of Edinburgh, had this to say about the fall of the Athenian Republic some 2,000 years prior:

"A democracy is always temporary in nature; it simply cannot   exist as a permanent form of government. A democracy will continue to exist up until the time that voters discover that they can vote themselves   generous
gifts from the public treasury. From that moment on, the majority   always votes for the candidates who promise the most benefits from the   public
treasury, with the result that every democracy will finally collapse   due to loose fiscal policy, which is always followed by a dictatorship."

"The average age of the worlds greatest civilizations   from the beginning of history, has been about 200 years. During those 200   years, these nations always progressed through the following sequence:

1. From bondage to spiritual faith;
2. From spiritual   faith to great courage;
3. From courage to liberty;
4. From liberty to abundance;
5. From abundance to complacency;
6. From complacency to apathy;
7. From apathy to dependence;
8. From dependence back into bondage ."

Professor Joseph Olson of Hamline University School of Law, St. Paul, Minnesota, points out some interesting facts concerning the 2000 Presidential election:

Population of counties won by:
Gore: 127 million; Bush: 143 million

Square miles of land won by:
Gore: 580,000; Bush: 2,427,000

States won by:
Gore: 19; Bush: 29

Murder rate per 100,000 residents in counties won by:
Gore: 13.2; Bush: 2.1

Professor Olson adds: "In   aggregate, the map of the territory Bush won
was mostly the land owned by   the tax-paying citizens of this great country.  Gore's territory mostly   encompassed those citizens living in government-owned tenements and living   off government welfare..."

Olson believes the United States is now   somewhere between the "complacency<BR>and apathy" phase of Professor Tyler's   definition of democracy, with some 40 percent of the nation's population already having reached the "governmental dependency" phase.

Author Unknown

SATURDAY and SUNDAY, June 3 and 4, 2006


THURSDAY and FRIDAY, June 1 and 2, 2006

This is another one of those "pot pourri" sessions.


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