Jefferson on the Decalogue:

A friend I hold in much esteem pointed out to me today that Jefferson himself had spoken to the issue currently making news in Alabama. Here find Jefferson's letter entitled SAXONS, CONSTITUTIONS, AND A CASE OF PIOUS FRAUD:
[F]or such the judges have usurped in their repeated decisions, that Christianity is a part of the common law. The proof of the contrary, which you have adduced, is incontrovertible; to wit, that the common law existed while the Anglo-Saxons were yet Pagans, at a time when they had never yet heard the name of Christ pronounced, or knew that such a character had ever existed.
This is perfectly correct, as we would expect of Jefferson. The Anglo-Saxon constitution--as Jefferson calls it--included many of the rights that were lost after the Norman conquest, and rewon on English soil only after the protracted battles of centuries. Nor were the Anglo-Saxons alone in this: the Scots, and the Continential Germanic-language speakers alike, both knew elective kingship and a profound respect for liberty that fought at length with organized Christianity. As the Saxons' kings were slain by Charlemagne, bringing the "Holy Roman Empire," as the Anglo-Saxon king was destroyed by a usurper who came bearing a banner of war blessed by the Pope, so the "bonders," or independent farmers, of Norway united to repel the overbearing and murderous "Saint" Olav.

We may honestly say that there is nothing in Christianity that is especially democratic, and that in fact it has come rather late to the party, if in fact it has come at all. Christians may be devoted to liberty, but Christianity is not: Christianity is devoted to God. It is a strength of the faith that it can survive in both tyranny and liberty, bringing strength to the hearts of slaves even as it does to free men. Yet it does not require any greater liberty than that free will which some Christians feel God endowed with Men. Christianity has been a powerful help to many in the service of liberty, but it was left to others to secure liberty in this world.

So it was that the sons of Scotland wrote, in Arbroath in 1320:

A quibus Malis innumeris, ipso Juuante qui post uulnera medetur et sanat, liberati sumus per strenuissimum Principem, Regem et Dominum nostrum, Dominum Robertum, qui pro populo et hereditate suis de manibus Inimicorum liberandis quasi alter Machabeus aut Josue labores et tedia, inedias et pericula, leto sustinuit animo. Quem eciam diuina disposicio et iuxta leges et Consuetudines nostra, quas vsque ad mortem sustinere volumus, Juris successio et debitus nostrorum omnium Consensus et Assensus nostrum fecerunt Principem atque Regem, cui tanquam illi per quem salus in populo nostro facta est pro nostra libertate tuenda tam Jure quam meritis tenemur et volumus in omnibus adherere.

Quem si ab inceptis desisteret, regi Anglorum aut Anglicis nos aut Regnum nostrum volens subicere, tanquam inimicum nostrum et sui nostrique Juris subuersorem statim expellere niteremur et alium Regem nostrum qui ad defensionem nostram sufficeret faceremus. Quia quamdiu Centum ex nobis viui remanserint, nuncquam Anglorum dominio aliquatenus volumus subiugari. Non enim propter gloriam, diuicias aut honores pugnamus set propter libertatem solummodo quam Nemo bonus nisi simul cum vita amittit.
That is, roughly: 'King Robert has borne up like a hero of the Biblical age, and divine providence has made him king. But if he turns aside from the cause of liberty we shall kill him and choose another, and fight on so long as even a hundred of us are left: not for glory, nor wealth, nor honor, but freedom alone, which no good man yields except unto death."

That is the root of our Constitution, our rights, and our duty. It is that old Celtic-Germanic sensation, that freedom is better than everything, and death better than submission.

For my NASCAR-fan readers:

Dave Shifflet on Jesse Jackson's attempts to shakedown NASCAR. Now, I think this business is unfair to NASCAR, in that it fails to appreciate the sport's real diversity. NASCAR fans may be the sort of people who go to Iraq and win our wars there--but the sport is so popular these days, that there are plenty of NASCAR fans who were deeply opposed to the Iraq war too (some of them read this page on occasion and write me letters).
I was wrong:

It's always nice when a blogger admits a mistake, right? Well, I wrote a piece on boneheads in Congress a few days ago that was wrong. However, I'm pleased to say that I wasn't the only one who misread it, and I'm even more pleased to have been mistaken.

Thankfully, Jed Babbin has the real deal over at NRO. Mind you, this doesn't mean Congress doesn't have some boneheads in it.


From Lebanon's Daily Star, a list by a member of the US Naval War College that outlines guerrilla groups in Iraq with analysis on their origins and allegiances.
Afghanistan Update:

Winds of Change has the most encouraging story I've seen from Afghanistan in a while. It shows that CENTCOM is employing some creative thinking in the Afghan rebuild:
US military officials have developed hybrid groups, comprising soldiers and humanitarian aid workers, to hasten the reconstruction of Afghanistan�s unruly provinces. The groups, known as Provincial Reconstruction Teams (PRTs), are designed to help extend the influence of Afghanistan�s government beyond Kabul. So far, however, PRTs have found that the influence of warlords in the provinces will not be easily reduced.

Three US PRTs are operating in Afghan provinces � in Kunduz, Gardez and Bamiyan. In addition, a 72-member British PRT started working in late July in the northern city of Mazar-i-Sharif. "PRTs are an innovative means to extend central government authority to the regions, enmesh local government with the central government and help with reconstruction" said General F.L. "Buster" Hagenback, the acting commander of US forces in Afghanistan. "Over time, as security improves, these military-led PRTs will mutate into [a] civilian organization[.]"
Now that's outstanding on several counts. The first is that the military is not clinging to traditional models, but looking around to see what is needed in this particular situation.

The second is that they're already engaged with models that are meant to "mutate" into civilian authorities over time. This has, in my opinion, been one of the weak points of our nationbuilding strategies in the past. Nationbuilding requires enforcing authority so that, with your authority, you can also enforce order. However, in the process of knocking down challenges to your authority, it can be easy to knock down all the developing institutions that could take over power from you when you leave. Such institutions work best if they are organic, growing naturally from within the community you'd like to hand power to on your way out. Sometimes you need to plant some seeds, though, and these PRTs might be that.

(An aside: General "Buster" Hagenback had a memorable quote earlier in the Afghan war that ought to be remembered. After guerrillas had killed the first US soldiers in battle, he said:

�This is not the last battle of this war, but so long as [al Qaeda & the Taliban] want to send [guerrillas] here, we will kill them here. If they want to go somewhere else, we will kill them there.�
I think I can see why Rumsfeld picked him for the job. That reads much like what you'd expect to come out of the mouth of the SECDEF.)

In Iraq, there are a number of people calling for Shi'ite militias to guard holy sites from US plundering and unfortunate accidents. For now, calls are for an unarmed militia. I think the CPA will probably view this as an unacceptable challenge to their authority, but I think it would be wiser to embrace and work with it. With some negotiation, we could probably reach an agreement that would allow these unarmed militias to do just what they want to do, which would remove a source of friction between US forces and the Shi'ites. More importantly, these unarmed militias represent an organic movement that could begin providing stability and security to parts of Iraq. If we reach out to them and provide a space for them straightaway, they become a useful tool for our goal of founding a stable, independent Iraq that we can eventually leave.

If we suppress them, on the other hand, two things could happen. At best, we could lose that potential pillar of support for a stable and independent Iraq. At worst, they become like the Black Panthers: originally a scrupulously law-abiding militia movement designed to protect citizens against abuse by the authorities, when suppressed it became an underground guerrilla movement.

Without Comment:

This is from the Coalition Provisional Authority/Iraq's website, containing advice on contacting the CPA:
If you would like to send us your constructive criticism, encouragement or thoughtful suggestion, please pick the ministry that you feel would best profit from your words.

If you have a threatening message or wish to express hatred and hostility, please look inside your own heart and count to 100 before writing. No one needs more negativity in their life.
Frontier Justice:

If we could just do this in Afghanistan, preferably with mixed US/Afghan companies:
Throughout Iraq, as the nation cracks through the totalitarian shell Saddam Hussein spent decades building, a reliable, trustworthy system of law and order is essentially being built from scratch.

It's closer to frontier justice than it is to the legal training. [US Marine Capt. Sean] Dunn, 35, received at Louisiana State University or the kind he practices as an associate at Duncan & Courington in New Orleans. Indeed, he's known around Al Kut as simply "The Judge," albeit one who wields a pump-action shotgun rather than a gavel.

At times, the weaponry comes in handy. One of the problems coalition forces confront in Iraq is the mobility of evil: A bad guy exposed in one area sometimes melts away only to crop up in power somewhere else. That happened in Al Kut with Mayeed Sahleh, a judge so profoundly corrupt that even Saddam once fired him. After being chased out of Najaf, he drifted to Al Kut, where he landed a post as a magistrate judge.

Locals who wanted to hang Sahleh from the nearest date palm told Dunn almost immediately about the newcomer's dark past, but Dunn told them he couldn't act without hard evidence of corruption. Eventually, Sahleh made a mistake -- showing up at the police station one night to spring a handful of Islamic fundamentalists on a signature bond -- and Dunn told Mahood to fire him. Two days later, however, Dunn spotted Sahleh operating out of a new office tucked under a courthouse stairway.

"The guy tried to say he had a few things to take care of, and I said the only thing he had to take care of was getting out of the building immediately. 'You're fired,' I said. 'Get out of here now,' " Dunn recalled, shaking his head at the man's brazenness.

At that point, the deposed judge took his hands off the desk and pushed back.

"He's got a gun!" one of the Marines on Dunn's detail cried, rushing forward with his M-16 leveled at the judge's chest. Dunn, shotgun ready, sprang behind the desk and relieved the judge of a handgun he was reaching for, concealed in a shoulder holster.
Now that's what it's all about.
My Answer:

I asked in the piece on Afghanistan today what other plans were out there. Well, here is the answer: shift intelligence and special operations forces out of Afghanistan in order to fight in Iraq. I don't think that's likely to improve the situation.
It just doesn't work:

The Washington Post points to rapidly increasing violent crime in D.C. as a reason to prevent efforts to reduce gun control.
So on one night last week, violence struck with a vengeance: Five women and three men were shot outside a Northeast Washington nightclub, two women were shot on Oates Street NE, a man was shot on Atlantic Street SE, two men were shot on Kenilworth Avenue NE, and a man was found shot to death on 13th Street NE. In all, the five unrelated shootings in three hours produced 13 injuries and one death.

Those statistics demonstrate the absurdity of Utah Republican Sen. Orrin G. Hatch's proposal to legalize gun possession in the District of Columbia. The city needs fewer, not more, lethal weapons in homes and on its streets. It could, however, use more officers, especially tactical and undercover officers working crime-ridden neighborhoods, as well as a uniformed presence in targeted communities to work with public-spirited citizens. Most of all, nothing short of the apprehension, prosecution and conviction of violent offenders will bring District residents the sense of security and safety that they deserve.
Now, maybe I'm reading something into this, but it sounds like all these people were shot in the streets, not in their homes. Five unrelated shootings--there must have been a lot of lead flying around the nightclub to drop eight people (mostly women!).

What this means is that the D.C. police have lost control of the streets--a fact I find easy to believe, as I almost never see a police officer in D.C. except when they are escorting some dignitary somewhere, or if I go to the Mall. The Post's answer is more cops and tight gun control, in the town with already the strictest anti-gun legislation in the country. Well, let's analyze that.

The cost of hiring lots of new police is very high: officers must be found, trained extensively, supplied with lots of expensive equipment, monitored by a bureaucracy, and provided with a pension and health benefits in addition to, of course, salary. The cost of reducing gun control is very low: an officer to run background checks, another to handle the applications. And what do you get for your money?

With the police officers, you get a few extra police on the streets, whose presence may delay crimes for a few minutes until the police pass on. With liberalized gun policies, you get thousands of armed citizens everywhere in the district, inclined to obey the law and unwilling to endure barbarity. Which gets results, to say nothing of results per dollar? You bet.

Besides, what is this nonsense about nothing making us feel safer except more prosecutions and arrests? Reading about people being arrested for murder does nothing to make me feel safe--it makes me remember that I live in a violent city. What makes me feel safe is a loaded .44 Remington Magnum revolver, and a wife watching my back with her 10mm Automatic. Jeffersonian Democracy at work--let the brutal beware.

Let them beware of us, citizens.

US Marines V. Pirates of Niger Delta

Yet another African deployment looms for the US Marines. This time it is all about oil, some 300,000 barrels of which are lost daily:
THE Federal Government is under pressure to deploy United States Marines to the troubled Niger Delta region to protect American oil companies' installations. Gov. Diepreye Alamieyesegha of Bayelsa State, who dropped the hint in Yenagoa at a meeting with stakeholders on sea piracy and oil pipeline vandalisation, said the Federal Government had lost patience with the spate of crises in the region and was getting frustrated with measures introduced to curtail the scourge.
The Marines were founded in part to battle pirates on the high seas, of course. And there is some good news: at least these aren't Space Pirates:
[Gov. James Ibori] "The perpetrators of these heinous crimes against the society are not people from outer space."
That's good to know.
A Second Raid:

Just hours after the raid mentioned in the last item, a second attack involving hundreds of Taliban hit another police station in Afghanistan. The raiders took hostages before withdrawing in apparently good order.

Unlike the guerrillas in Iraq, the Afghan fighters have all the cards that have historically made guerrilla fighting successful. They waited to start their resistance until the US was distracted elsewhere, and most US forces withdrawn. Whereas we have nearly a hundred seventy thousand fighting men in Iraq, in Afghanistan the number is closer to ten thousand. The Afghan fighters can withdraw into secure areas--the lawless tribal areas of north and south Waziristan, Kurram, Kyber, Mohmand, and Bajaur, which serve as buffer states with Pakistan. We can send people after them, but there they have a secure base with devout popular support. And, if the frequent rumors of ISI support are true, they even have the backing of a regional power--or at least some rogue elements in it.

Iraq will sort itself out--we've got the men and the commitment to make it work. Afghanistan is in danger of being lost. We need to get serious about counterinsurgency, and fast. My plan is below: who has another?

Today in Afghanistan:

The Guardian has an AP report on a major attack in Afghanistan:
Insurgents attacked a police headquarters in southeastern Afghanistan, sparking a battle Sunday that killed at least 15 fighters and seven Afghan police, a police chief said. It was part of a disturbing new surge of violence in the country.

The siege began shortly before midnight Saturday when about 400 guerrillas attacked the police headquarters in the town of Barmal in Paktika province, about 125 miles southeast of Kabul, said provincial governor Mohammed Ali Jalali.

The fighters, firing rockets, grenades and heavy machine guns, took over the office and held it until 5 a.m. Sunday before destroying the building and retreating amid a gunbattle with police, said police chief Daulat Khan.
This is large-scale guerrilla action. It argues for a new counterinsurgency campaign in Afghanistan, at the same time that we're fighting one in Iraq. This is one reason I argue for a Texas Rangers model--see below--in which mixed companies of US Army Rangers and Afghan soldiers are given martial-law authority and tasked to patrol the countryside.

Recruiting for the army is expanding in Afghanistan, though, even in the troubled areas:

One of the keys to Afghanistan restoring stability is believed to be the strengthening of its national army, which now numbers just 5,000 soldiers. The government wants it to have 70,000 troops over the next several years.

U.N. spokesman David Singh said Sunday that the army opened its first recruiting center in the east of the country. Other recruiting centers are due to open in at least five other regions, Singh said.
It's not just numbers, it's training. Those 70,000 men need to be trained in mountain-fighting and counterinsurgency, in how to stage an organized ambush and how to fight out of one. They also need to be trained as lawmen, and given the authority to execute the law on a moment's notice, as they will be the only arm of Kabul likely to reach the border areas for many years to come. That is to say, they need to be Rangers, not soldiers.