D t Amicalola

Down the Amicalola:

You may not know it, but in Georgia, the right to hunt and fish is constitutionally protected. As a consequence, the state is obligated to protect wilderness lands of sufficient size to support a population of prey animals. The Dawson Forest WMA (Wildlife Management Area) is one of those tracts, devoted to the City of Atlanta. It is, however, quite distant from the city -- a city which includes disproportionately few citizens, for Georgians, who wish to hunt or fish.

As a result, the Dawson Forest is a true wilderness. There are some marked trails, but no rangers I've ever encountered. For that matter, I've never met another man in the area. You can go hiking. No one guarantees your safety. There are laws. I don't know who enforces them, but occasional signs testify to their applicability. There are other signs, too, interpretive ones that speak to conditions no longer evident in the wild. I wonder how old they are.

And it's beautiful.

Today's hike was down that way. Three miles down the trail, we turned aside and hiked to the river over broken ground. From there, it was a four hour struggle to return to the highway north of us. At times we fought over the bramble, or under it; walked over rocks in the river; and once, we had to cross through caves where a granite outcropping thrust into the river and left no other path. Only where the water had split it, where a man could cross in a squeeze, was traversable.

What a day. I hope yours was as memorable, and as fine.

Ashamed of American II

Ashamed of America, II:

Again, this time thanks to Pajamas Media, we have an American ashamed of her country. This time it is Jeralyn Merrit, who also blogs at TalkLeft.

We recently had a long discussion on the subject of whether it was ever proper to be ashamed of America. (If you missed it the first time, be sure to read through the comments, as the discussion with the readership is always more interesting than my simple assertions).

This has been an occasional topic here since at least 2004. In October of that year, I was talking not about American patriotism, but Japanese and German.

A renewed strength in Japan is troubling to the Chinese, but they hate more any renewed Japanese patriotism -- that is, not just strength but the belief in your country's rightness that encourages strength's use.

Yet it is not healthy to be ashamed of your heritage. It is necessary to be able to recognize where your parents -- or countrymen -- have gone wrong, and where they have fallen from the ideals you would want upheld. At the same time, you have to be able to recognize and honor the good that they did. To do otherwise is to believe that you come from poisoned earth. It darkens your understanding, and it weakens your ability to defend the right in the future.
In April of this year, we looked at local patriotism -- at how this natural love-of-home can play out at levels below love-of-country. We also looked at how Howard Zinn's anti-patriotism was poisonous for those same reasons.
The first principle [Zinn advocates in the cited piece] is that we ought to understand that politicians, as a rule, are liars and scoundrels who do not have our best interests at heart. That far, he is entirely correct.

The second principle is that we ought not, therefore, to love our nation or believe that she enjoys a special mission in the world. That is wrong.

In a sense, everyone ought to love his nation regardless of where he is born. This is because it is as natural to love your country as it is natural to love your mother. It arises in the soul reliably and properly. That is another way of saying that the failure to love your country is an unnatural corruption....

The patriot, like Zinn, can also say that Congress is filled with worthless scum -- but once Davy Crockett was there. He can say that Washington remains a stinking swamp in spite of more than two centuries' attempts at draining it -- and yet remember that it was named for Washington. He can further remember that Washington was a slave-holder -- and yet look with awe on his politics, his ethics, and his magnificent life.
This has been my constant understanding of patriotism. It is not, "my country, right or wrong," but rather, the principle that a healthy soul must love some things without reservation, and that family and home are two of them. Because they are your source and point of origin in this world, there are deep consequences to being ashamed of them. You must focus on what is good about them, and where they are wrong, improve them. You ought, though, always love them and never be ashamed.

Of course, Ms. Merritt and I further disagree on the particular point of whether the current issue is something bad. Arresting people who are in the country illegally and deporting them seems to me like enforcing the law, which we are free to change -- but if we don't, it's the law. I'll set that aside, though, because the issue that interests me here isn't immigration, but patriotism.

What bothers me, in other words, is not her position on immigration, or whether or not we ought to arrest people who have disobeyed our laws. What bothers me is her uncritical acceptance of this:
I disagree [with the suggestion that we need more law-and-order in immigration reform]. Once residing in this country, our immigrant workers are entitled to recognition and the right to living wages, safe working conditions and other worker protections.

As the National Network for Immigrant and Refugee Rights organization says, they should have “the same rights as any other member of the U.S.: the right to travel, work, live, study and worship freely and safely, and to reunite their families without discrimination and violence.”
"Member" of the United States? It is one thing to say that we shall issue the same protection to all lawful residents as we do to citizens, that they might enjoy equality under the law. It is quite another to empty the categories of "citizen" or "lawful resident," and merge them into "members of the United States." It is another step further to then blend "unlawful resident" into that mix.

Citizenship means something. A citizen is special because he can be presumed to have some of that patriotism -- some of that natural love of home that resides in a healthy and vital soul. A citizen is special because he shares a bond with his nation, one of mutual defense. We have duties to each other, we and America, we are bound to each other.

One of America's traditions is to welcome immigrants who are seeking a better life, and are willing to dedicate themselves to those same bonds of love and defense. Another of our traditions is to have 'no king but the law,' as the Icelandic Vikings put it.

Those traditions blend, and suggest that the proper attitude toward immigrants is that they are welcome, welcome -- if they come according to the law. If they wish to, they may remain and become citizens also. They may bind themselves to us and to America, and when they do, enjoy the name as well as the rights of a citizen.

"Members of the United States." Hmph. I welcome those who will abide by our laws, and love and defend our country. Those who will not, but who instead show contempt for her laws and traditions, are not immigrants but invaders. They may have a good cause for their invasion, but we are under no duty to be hospitable.

GW Ohio!

Good Work, Ohio!

Via Gwa45, Ohio overrides a veto and passes "the most significant roll back of gun control that has ever been enacted by a state."

Outstanding stuff. It's good to see a swing state come up with a supermajority for a proposal of this type. Hopefully, it shows that gun rights are increasingly an accepted bipartisan reality. Like them or hate them (like Social Security), "shall issue" is the way it's going to be almost everywhere.

Combat ops

Combat Operations:

Spirit of America is, you may recall, a charity that procures requested items for the US military to distribute as gifts in areas of operation. These are "combat operations" of the type Francis Marion was discussing below. Previously, for example, they set up sewing centers so that Iraqi women could begin earning independent income.

SoA projects have been targeted by insurgents in the past, precisely because they wish to prevent any stability or improvement in the local situation. Today, we have a story from Fallujah and elsewhere in al Anbar province about the ongoing efforts.

Being sharp, SoA asked Bill to drop by while he was in the neighborhood, and there's a message from him as well.

Rogg 3

More from Bill Roggio:

Today Bill watches "Muj-TV" with the Iraqi Army. Also, the Christian Science Monitor has taken notice of him, and proceeds to direct fire on his position.

The problem, one all too common in the blogosphere, is that Roggio has become less a reporter than a validator of the pro-war viewpoint to many. He has become a phenomenon among war supporters, most of whom, judging from reader comments, read him largely because they agree with his views.

And that's too bad for the war's supporters and its detractors as well. Bloggers such as Roggio can create a fuller picture of the conflict in Iraq. But if only one side of the political spectrum reads him - or one side reads him and only him - both sides will be missing some important perspective.
This is what the MSM has decided about bloggers: that they're detached from reality, humming to themselves with their fingers in their ears. People who want to know what the REAL world is like read the MSM.

The Christian Science Monitor is a very good newspaper. I know that because, naturally, I read it on occasion -- and a lot of others too. Of course we're aware of the other side of the story, because it's trumpeted from the heights. Trying to get out Bill's version is important because it's a side that the MSM isn't interested in putting forth.

John Noonan at MilBlogs has a piece considering the MSM's side of the argument at greater length. To some degree it confirms that reporters in Iraq are largely hiding out in protected zones these days, rather than doing what it takes -- like Bill -- to get out to where they can see the action for themselves. They also provide anecdotes of how the media sees itself, and sees the military.

One of the anecdotes is also from the CSM, and deals with the early days of the conflict. It shows, writ small, what the problem really is. The reporter encounters military police, and reacts in a way that will be instantly recognizable to anyone who has ever spent a day in court listening to testimony:
I had gone and watched a movie with a buddy in Mansur one night, fall or early winter of 2004, and we wanted to go over the bridge. The bridge that you go over to go toward the airport, and there was an American vehicle checkpoint set up basically blocking the way you wanted to go on the bridge. It would have meant a twenty-minute detour for us. There were three or four cars that would pull up and they would turn around; it was late at night.

So we stopped and rolled down the window and a private walks over and I said, “I’m an American reporter, can you let me through, ’cause this is going to take another twenty minutes and it’s dark and a little dangerous and we’re just going over there.” The guy says, “Shut the fuck up.” I say, “Look man, I don’t want to make trouble for you,” and while I’m talking to him he’s got his flashlight and he’s moving it in frenetic circles over both of my eyes. I said, “Look, really man, I’m just trying to get home. Is there any way we can just get through?” And he says, “Now you’ve done it! I’m pulling you over and I’m making you wait here while we search your whole car.”

So we comply. We got out of the car, stand away from the car as we were told to, open the trunk, etcetera. And this is my friend’s driver, an Iraqi driver who I had just met that evening, so I felt pretty bad that I had gotten him into that situation. And the pimply private comes over and he says to me, “Yeah, how do you like that? You see what you get when you fuck with me?” Like two feet from my face. And not to my perfect credit, I basically called him a word that will famously get you thrown out of any baseball game that has ever been played. You can figure that out for yourself. Not a pleasant word. And that was it. He goes and talks to his commanding officer, who comes over and within two minutes has me zip-tied, handcuffed, roughly searched, and interrogated for fifteen minutes. We go through this and I’m calm, as I usually am, and eventually they’re like, I guess we can’t arrest an American for using language that we don’t like. They untie me, and we drove off and go home.

About a week later, we get an e-mail addressed to The Christian Science Monitor Baghdad bureau chief, and I was chief at the time, and it’s a letter written by the general in Baghdad at the time. The letter goes on to say we’ve had a lot of complaints about the conduct of our troops in the field and we try to hold ourselves to a high standard and correct problems when they are brought to our attention by the press, but we think you have to be equally responsible and aware of the terrible behavior of your people. For instance, this guy Dan Murphy was stopped and was politely asked to step out of his car and he refused and launched into a profanity-laced, anti-American tirade, and he was so agitated and physically wild that we had to restrain him for his safety and our own. And etcetera, etcetera, etcetera. That was completely fantasy. It was lies. And I have no doubt that the general who wrote this letter believed it; he had attached the incident report written by the soldiers who were involved in this little incident.

Basically, I responded and said I happen to be that guy, and I will tell you exactly what happened, and of course [the report] has no truth because these things have no truth. And he apologized and said, “These things get garbled in transmission, sorry.” Now, does this incident matter in the big scheme of things? No. Did the guys on that patrol lie because they thought that maybe arresting Americans for using one naughty word isn’t the thing they should be doing? Maybe. Was what he was told by the soldiers in the field, who of course might have an incentive to lie, believed wholeheartedly by this general? Absolutely. Does it lead me to believe — given the source from the podium in the Green Zone and elsewhere over three years now — that these sorts of reports are far from the whole truth? Absolutely. Have there been military investigations that have proven the same? Absolutely. I think you get the point of the story.
This kind of thing happens all the time. You show up to traffic court, and the cop gets up on the stand, and he tells all sorts of lies about what happened, and claims you were rude and spouted profanity when really you just called him one little name (and were otherwise perfectly polite, it was really his attitude that was the problem)... And of course the judge believes him, because he has the badge, man!

Or maybe you're the cop, and a guy you wrote a ticket to a few months ago shows up in court and claims you were rude and profane, and that you abused your authority, and didn't follow proper procedures anyway, and why is he the one on trial? You have a vague memory, but you wrote up a report at the time, and it says something totally different from what this guy is saying.

Yeah, I get the point of the story: Question Authority.

Well, that's fine, do. I've had a cop show up at a traffic case with me and give false testimony -- not intentionally, I believe, but just because he really didn't remember (and in this case, had no report to rely on). And I've sat in court and watched a lady trash a policeman unfairly, while giving wild explanations of the charges against her ("Speeding? Why, there was a swarm of mosquitos in my car. I was just trying to blast them out before they ate up my baby." "Radar clocked you at ninety miles an hour." "Well, that must be a mistake. I'd only just...").

The problem is that the MSM reporter expects that we'll believe his side, because he's the MSM. He 'expects we'll get the point,' by which he means, the military is full of power-hungry thugs who falsify reports, so nothing they say should be trusted at face value. The point I get is that reports of what happened are often two-sided, as people acting on adrenaline are rarely thinking clearly or focused on the same details.

The soldier doesn't get to tell his story to the public, though. He puts it in a report, which goes through a chain of command (just as the soldier did, when he went to his commander before any action was taken). The reporter just puts it out to the world, and the public gets that information without benefit of a rebuttal. The soldier is presented as a liar, an unfair thug, etc -- exactly like the traffic scoff at court, except the cop isn't there to give his side.

So Bill Roggio went to Iraq, to get the other side. That's why his stuff is valuable, and read widely by those who aren't ready to give up. We'd like to hear the other side. It's a shame that a newspaper as normally excellent as the CSM doesn't want to get that.

John Noonan's friend, a reporter named Sam, had a different reaction: total acceptance of the reporter's side. "Sam was particularly taken with Dan Murphy's testimony," Noonan says. "My response was that, like any organization, the military has a few bad seeds (Abu Gharab anyone?). His reply was: 'Hey man, more "moral waivers" and bottom third asfab scorers than ever before. It's like great society II.'"

Noonan was too kind, because he also accepted the story uncritically. If you're going to Question Authority, well, the reporter is an authority too. He gets to print what he likes in a newspaper read widely across the nation and the world. What's the evidence that he was right and the soldiers were wrong? His word. What's the evidence in favor of the soldiers? Their word, which was reviewed by their commanders on the ground, and then by their chain of command, leading to a letter of protest by a general officer. What's the evidence that the letter was resolved the way the reporter claims? His word.

See a pattern?

Sam's response is beautifully illustrative. The military is really a poverty program for stupid, unethical people, "like Great Society II." The evidence runs all the other way, but whatever: he says it, and he's a reporter, so it must be true.

Yeah, I get the point of the story.

Eat Steak

Eat Steak:

Now this is a problem to which there is a clear and desirable solution.

Antipsych drugs

Antipsychotic Drugs:

You probably read this article, and perhaps the reader comments, at Dr. Helen's place. The article posits that antipsychotic drugs should be regarded as releasing the "real" person from within a person suffering from a psychosis. The authors object stridently to the notion that these drugs are "mind-altering," although the drugs clearly do alter the mind. They want us to reframe our understanding of the drugs as being, in effect, "mind-releasing."

My disdain for psychology knows no bounds, but medical psychaitry is another story. It is almost an actual science, as it demonstrates testable, replicable results, and operates, in its smaller claims, on the null hypothesis. Its larger claims -- the overriding models of the mind -- are not truly falsifiable with empircal tests, which is why I don't consider it to be a true science. However, it is a far, far better case than psychology, which seems finally to be a form of magical healing (somewhat like consuming powdered rhino horn in your tea).

That said, this study raises several questions for me. I suppose today I'm feeling like making lists, as here is another.

1) Some of Dr. Helen's commenters note that courts have required people to take antipsychotic drugs before trials hinging on an insanity defense. If we are to regard the drugs as releasing the "real" person, does that mean that the "real" person is not guilty for crimes they committed while not on such medicines? If not, why not?

The study seems to make an excellent case that -- through impaired attention and "executive function" cognition -- there really is a 'different person' here. Should these drugs then serve as an alternative to punishment -- the destruction of the "person" who committed the crimes, while leaving the new "person" free to go about a new life?

2) If the person is only "real" while on the drugs, can anyone refuse these drugs? In other words, if society objects to your personality, can it require you to take drugs to alter it? If you're not "really you" off the drugs, then presumably you have no right to object to what is done to the "real you." Only the "real you" could refuse the drugs, and he isn't here.

If case (1) is decided in favor of the study's ideas, it seems to me that case (2) becomes pressing. If we have to set people free who commit crimes while not on medications, surely then it becomes a pressing social need to make sure that everyone, everyone at all, is on his proper cocktail. Otherwise, they go free for whatever they did while off the pharm.

3) By the same token, can a person on the drugs opt to go off them at all? Is that a free choice that society would have to accept, or is it a form of banned self destruction -- like suicide? Does it not endanger society, by allowing them to take advantage of the 'get out of jail free' card posited in case (1)?

If we chose to accept the choice, how long would it be valid? After a certain period, when the last of the drugs was out of your system, wouldn't we be back in case (2)?

4) Dr. Helen says out that you probably wouldn't refuse treatment for diabetes, and so asks 'Why would you refuse it for (mental illness X)?' There are two objections to that analogy, however:

a) Diabetes is a case in which the body is not self-sustaining. Many things classified as "mental illnesses" are unpleasant, but will not result in a predictable decline and death. The analogy is not valid, for that reason. What is classified as a "mental illness" is not clearly an "illness" in the same way that diabetes is -- it's just a state that many people find undesirable.

b) Even if the analogy were valid, if one had a desire to refuse treatment for diabetes -- for whatever reason -- one would be free to do so. Precisely because these states are defined as illnesses affecting the judgment, however, it is not clear that the study's suggested understanding would leave room for refusal of treatment. For the reasons noted above, we risk creating another situation in which the judgment of society is placed above individual liberty. Surely we have enough such socialism already!

c) If point (b) is decided in the favor of the state, however, what guarantee do we have that the definition of "illness" won't be expanded? We've seen any number of attempts to define political or sexual leanings as pathologies. Given the unscientific nature of the fundamental models of both psychology and psychiatry, how can we trust them to define what we are "really" like? How can we trust them to say, "There -- this is the combination of drugs that makes you normal"?

Overall, I wonder if the greater good isn't in retaining the clear and traditional understanding. "Mind altering" drugs alter the mind. They make it into something that it wasn't naturally.

We may prefer that something -- many people prefer to alter other natural qualities, as for example their eyesight. This is a personal choice, though, which ought to be respected.

I realize that there are some people who would be happier if they were drugged, but are not capable of realizing it in their natural state. It may be that we, by refusing to adopt this new understanding, doom them to lives of misery when they could have been cheerfully altered.

Surely that is the lesser evil, though, to giving the state the power to define how we "ought to be" -- to say what is normal for you, or for me. With all respect to those people who may live worse lives because we don't adopt this proposed new understanding, I can't see my way clear to it.

I simply lack the trust, both in the government and in the academic disciplines involved, to ceed that kind of control. I'm not willing to accept their right to judge who is, and is not, "normal" -- or, worse, to judge what sort of alterations are necessary and required to make you "normal." Accepting this study and its judgments would require those concessions.

UPDATE: On reflection, I think I should add that the study doesn't advocate a lot of the things I discuss here. It's recommendations seem to be limited to this: adopt the understanding that antipsychotic drugs release the real person, and administer those drugs before a person is tried in court, because it's important that the person's mind be clear if they are to be competent in their defense.

I don't see how you can take that step, without taking the others -- not as a slippery slope "what comes next," but because those other issues seem to flow naturally from the principle being established. However, to be fair to the study, it should be clear they don't consider these questions.

Dawson Co Shootout

Local Color:

Our farrier, who is also a deputy sheriff in Dawson County, was involved in this little hostage situation.

The police did not return fire due to concern for the 8 year old hostage, which is good, given that the police were apparently armed with automatic weapons. However, according to our farrier, the hostage-taker reported at one point (after a shot fired inside the house) that he'd shot the boy. Negotiators on the phone later established that wasn't true.

I gather the drug-abuser in question has been arrested before, and turned loose. This is apparently normal behavior for him.

I wonder the following things:

1) What is the point of issuing automatic weapons to police? If they have to be afraid to use them because of concerns for noncombatants, the benefit of having them is nonexistant. There will nearly always be noncombatants in a policing situation. A scoped rifle would seem to be a better choice, not only for this situation, but for almost any conceivable policing situation.

2) The police were obviously constrained from simply killing the man, in spite of the fact that (a) he had a child as a hostage, and (b) he was a repeat offender in terms of going crazy on drugs and shooting at people. As a potential juror, I can't imagine voting to convict an officer under these circumstances -- but I'm not sure why it should matter anyway. Yet the policy of the deparment was plainly to protect the criminal and hostage-taker, which is madness.

3) E. Charles at Gwa45's place was asking if anyone still supports the war on drugs. I can't say that I do. It's a needless expense with serious dangers to our notion of liberty. Can we agree, however, that if we were to legalize certain drugs, we'd be willing also to take the cuffs off cops who have to deal with people who are driven mad by their abuse of drugs? In other words, are we ready to say that (a) drugs can be used, if regulated like alcohol or tobacco, but also (b) that people who take kids hostage, claim to have shot kids, etc., are taking their lives in their hands?

4) How did we get to the point that a claim to have shot a child -- who might be dying from blood loss at this moment -- is something to be resolved by negotiators, over time, on the phone? If anything justifies a frontal assault, or a sniper putting down the criminal in question, surely that is it.

910 Group

The 910 Group:

An interesting, internet-based movement brought to my attention by reader A.A. is the 910 Group. It declares itself to be a nonpartisan defense of Western core values and civilization, asking only one thing of prospective members: devoted opposition to what it calls "the Great Islamic Jihad in all its forms."

I gather from their specific comments that what they mean by that formula is 'terrorist violence executed by people who believe in a radical version of Islam, plus also the political movements driven by the same goals.' They expand on what they mean by their movement by an assertion of things you can't believe and be one of them:

There’s no room for responses like these:
I’m opposed to radical Islam, BUT…
*You have to understand the root causes of terrorism.

*The problem of Israel and the Palestinians has to be solved first.

*It is a legacy of Western imperialism and colonialism.

*It is important to understand and be accepting of different cultural values.

*Sometimes terrorism can be a legitimate form of resistance against oppression.
Nuh-uh. Nope. No way. Absolutely not. Under no circumstances.

If you subscribe to any of the above dependent clauses (or their numerous cousins), then you don’t belong here. This is no place for equivocation; those who have come here recognize the gravity of the present danger.

Root causes don’t matter. Historical grievances don’t matter.

Violence against civilians for religious or political purposes is always, everywhere, and under all circumstances WRONG.

Asserting otherwise destroys the civic and moral fabric of our common society, and we emphatically reject it.

Resist the jihad. Encourage the overthrow of tyrannical Islamist regimes. Work to stop and reverse the encroachment of Wahhabi fundamentalism throughout the Western world.
I guess it's point number three that troubles me. If all it means is "It doesn't matter what your cultural values are, terrorism is still wrong," OK.

On the other hand, it appears to suggest not being interested in the Islamic understanding of why these acts are lawful. The use of the phrase "Great Jihad" is a good example of that lack of interest, as I'll explain below. That is foolish -- and I say that as a dedicated fighter, and a man who believes the military is the 'last man standing' in terms of being an effective branch of the US government. If you scroll down to 'the Executive' there, you'll see for example how I think the US military is now doing diplomacy better than the State department. It's a military response we need. But ADM Fallon's work wasn't done with disinterest toward the cultures of the region -- I have personal reason to know how interested PACOM and its subordinates have been in the cultures of their region.

Take the phrase, "the Great Islamic Jihad." I have to wonder if they didn't know, or have forgotten, or simply do not care that the phrase "Great Jihad" has a meaning in Islam separate from the 'jihad of the sword.' If you declare yourself against "the Great Jihad," a Muslim will have every reason to ask -- doesn't that mean you're really against Islam itself? Aren't you saying that you oppose anyone converting to Islam, or living an Islamic life? In other words, isn't your interest the elimination of Islam?

This plays into the problem. The Muslim understanding of Mohammed's war's, as explained in the same link, is that they were defensive: that Mohammed put up with more than a decade of abuse without fighting back, and were granted permission by Allah to fight back only when the destruction of themselves or their faith was at risk:
[The Quarish] would either annihilate the Muslims or compel them to return to unbelief. In these circumstances came the earliest permission to fight, in verses 39 and 40 of chapter 22, which read:
"Permission (to fight) is given to those on whom war is made, because they are oppressed. And surely Allah is able to assist them - Those who are driven from their homes without a just cause except that they say: Our Lord is Allah. And if Allah did not repel some people by others, cloisters and churches and synagogues and mosques, in which Allah's name is much remembered, would have been pulled down. And surely Allah will help him who helps His cause".
Indeed, war with such a pure motive as to establish the principle of religious liberty was truly a jihad, a struggle carried on simply with the object that truth may prosper and that freedom of conscience may be maintained.
The average Muslim understands Islam's wars in that way. If you go on declaring yourself to be against "the Great Jihad," he will understand you to be saying that you are like the Quarish -- that you intend to force him to return to unbelief (that is, by banning the practical side of Islam) or destroy him.

Better results could be achieved by saying that you believe that the terrorist groups who claim to be waging jihad by the sword are, in fact, murderers -- and are therefore not 'waging jihad' but slandering Islam. It is important to show how the attacks they claim to be "defensive" are actually aggressive; that the United States, while not exactly a friend to Islam (being a secular state), is not opposed to it either; and to show where we have helped Muslims and their nations, as a counterweight to the examples (given lurid daily play in the press) where we have fought in such places.

This is the Special Forces' mode of waging war -- to isolate the extremists from the 'sea in which they swim,' to paraphrase Mao. In that way, they either die of a lack of oxygen, or they become easier to catch and kill.

This isn't a theory with no practical side I'm putting before you. Read "Francis Marion"'s blog for a window into how it is playing out, every day, in the Philippines. He is a Special Forces operator there, waging our war in a region in which there are numerous Islamic forces under arms. Some of them are friends of al Qaeda and our devoted enemies; some are merely interested in local autonomy, and will take help from whomever will give it; and all of them depend on the support of a local population.

You'll see him engaged in operations against the first set (Jemaah Islamiyah and Abu Sayyaf), being circumspect with the second set (MNLF/MILF); and helping spread cheer among the locals -- for example, in his mission as a Special Forces soldier to aid the Philippine Girl Scouts.
The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) were sponsoring the Philippine Girl Scouts for a two day event at our location and my team assisted by teaching a few classes. Green Berets have a reputation for womanizing and having a team in close contact with a few hundred teenage girls can put a lot of commanders into a nervous sweat.

Events were over before I returned and had a chance to settle in so I did not participate but, from what I have seen and heard, this was one of the most effective combat operations we could have performed. In typical teenage girl fashion, the girls identified a few favored U.S. soldiers. They would wave and giggle as they walked by or swoon when their favorite soldier was announced. It was cute and these guys continue to get teased but the effects have gone far beyond our base camp. These guys have achieved celebrity status here.

Now, when we drive the streets, the girls run out and shout out the names, or nicknames, of the soldiers they recognize. This may have some effect on our egos but, more importantly, it is a tactical victory. Having a few hundred adoring fans will make the terrorists think twice before targeting us and also adds several hundred extra sets of eyes that can warn us of possible danger.

I feel safer.
That's a combat operation, to use his words.

I suspect the 910 group and I agree on more than we disagree. These things are important, however. If you don't get them right, you push us into a very different kind of war -- one I have no wish to fight, though I would fight it if it came.

We are wiser if we avoid it. Francis Marion is right, and it is his mode of war that will be most effective in so many parts of the world. We should think on how we can support him and men like him in their missions. Understanding how to support missions like his requires taking extra care -- but he deserves it.
More from Bill:

No, this isn't Bill Roggio's new blog, but I have always supported his embedding missions. This time, I'm going to quote the whole letter he sent, because I think he does a great job of explaining his purpose in it. Also, there's a request for some help for the Marines.


I spent a few days with a Navy Corpsman here in Fallujah. This kid is incredible. I just can't say enough good things about him, and am ashamed my article did not do his work justice. In all honesty, I am not very good at writing about a Marine or soldier in such a manner. Personal stories such as this are really not my forte. It's not because I don't care, but because I care too much, and fear one day I will see their name where I don't want to see it. I am afraid to get too close. But I could not let the good work of Doc J pass without mention. I watched him treat some Iraqi Police after a mortar attack here on base today, as well as care for the police like they are his own.

(The story is here.)

Also, if anyone is interested in donating a wireless router to the Marines in the Military Transition Team, drop me an email and I'll give you the address. If I don't get any takers, I'll pick it up and send it out when I get home. But I'd love to get it out here before Christmas. Wireless Internet in Fallujah? It's not just a dream, it's a reality here at the Police Transition Team. Let's help the Military side of the house!

All the best to you & yours,

Bill Roggio