Kim du Toit - View Original Post & Comments

Freedom, Police & the Military:

Kim du Toit has begun an excellent discussion on the topic of whether modern police agencies too much resemble the "standing armies" that worried the Founders. It's a long piece with many thoughtful replies (plus a reply from me, which I hope others will consider thoughtful). I won't try to reprise the discussion here -- I just refer you to it, for consideration.

For those of you not familiar with Kim's site, the original post is at the bottom.

The Scotsman - Top Stories - Al-Qaeda suspects on run

Get 'em, Boys:

Following the leads uncovered by US and Pakistani military intelligence, Scotland Yard goes after five Qaeda suspects. They apparently escaped raids earlier in the week, and a nationwide manhunt continues.


Movie Review:

I haven't seen King Arthur, though I had wanted to and may yet if I can still find anywhere showing it. This review by the redoubtable Mark Steyn, however, is worth reading even if you never see the flick.

there's a complicating factor. A huge Saxon army has just hit the beach and they're also interested in the bigshot Romans, as potentially lucrative hostages. If you think there's too much Saxon violence in the movies these days, wait'll you see these guys. Their general, Sir Dick or, as I discovered in the closing credits, Cerdic, is a mountain of blond hair extensions. Perhaps some insensitive locals tittered at him as he waded ashore, but, for whatever reason, the Saxons slaughter everyone they come across in a frenzy of Woad rage. As Cerdic, Stellan Skarsgard hams up his dialogue with a throaty rumble that sounds like he came first in this year's Stockholm round of the Nick Nolte karaoke competition. When he hears about the Roman estate nearby, he dispatches a rape'n'pillage squad led by his son Cynric, because it takes his child to raze a village.



Our lad (and new father! Congrats, and welcome Grace!) BlackFive has a video of a truck full of fellow contractors getting ambushed in Iraq, while part of an Army convoy. Short version: They punch the gas, and keep their position with the US Army Hummers they're convoying with.

It's worth watching to hear the voices. Once again, I feel justified in my pride at being a Southerner. The leader, and coolest head, has an accent I would place at the Northern Alabama/North Georgia border. Just the kind of fellow I'd want riding beside me, in a pinch.

Ambassador's CV


For reasons much too complicated to rehearse, I spent Tuesday night at the Embassy of Singapore in Washington, D.C. The occasion was the National Day of Singapore, which is their version of Independence Day. I got to meet Tom Ridge, who came to give a short speech praising Singapore's economic growth and stout alliance to the U.S. war on terror.

I also met Ambassador Chan Heng Chee. Singapore has three main ethnic groups: Chinese, Malay, and Indian. The Chinese, like Ambassador Chan, are the majority. In her nine years in D.C., she's learned Western manners completely, and manages to be sufficiently forthright to be charming. Forthrightness in women is not highly encouraged in Chinese culture, which prefers politeness and the maintenance of social harmony to truth-telling. She does all right, though.

It was a pretty hefty crowd who came out to celebrate Singapore's National Day. There were quite a few Defense contractors -- not DOD-exclusive contractors like me, but people who represented firms that hoped to do business with Singapore itself. There were also some State people, but what really caught my eye were the naval officers. Men in uniform were everywhere, but almost none of them were from branches of the service other than the navy. Almost every navy in the world was represented: I saw an Egyptian naval officer conversing with an Israeli, met an Aussie captain, and saw officers from every Scandinavian navy afloat.

After the speechmaking and dinner, I ended up hanging around with a US navy captain in the submarine service. I've written before about the quality of the sailors in the submarine service, which I've always found to be excellent. I spent a good portion of the evening comparing notes on hurricanes with the gentleman -- his favorite was one he rode out in the Atlantic, four-hundred feet down, which still caused the boat to roll. I'm not sure if mine was Floyd -- which was the size of Texas when she made landfall -- or Opal, which rode all the way up into the North Georgia mountains and rocked the Appalachians near Camp Frank D. Merrill. You can get out to Amicalola Falls State Park, if any of you are deployed at Camp Frank, and see where there are still a lot of trees down from Opal. I rode out Isabel last year, but she wasn't much. I have a couple of good stories about her, but really there was never any danger.

I relate all this to convey a bit of the "diplomatic" work behind the GWOT. I don't often have anything to do with it myself, but these kinds of things go on every night, all around the world. Just like the intelligence work mentioned below -- which famously belongs to the CIA, but which the military does tirelessly and often better -- diplomacy isn't just the State Department. The men in uniform do a hero's share of that work too. If "diplomacy" isn't a dirty word, I expect it's their doing that keeps it clean. Honesty, integrity, and the pride of the service go a long way to enhancing the strength of a man's word.

Pity the fellow with that duty, though. It was a pleasant enough evening, but if I had to do it every night, I think I'd go nuts pretty quickly. It's no better duty than kitchen patrol -- a necessary, tiresome duty that someone has to perform.

Taliban flush with cash for attacks - War on Terror -

The Afghan Front:

There's a story out of the Age of Australia called "Taliban flush with cash for attacks." Bad news sells more papers, as they say, and the editors have chosen the bad news from the story for the headline and lead paragraphs. But there's some very good news inside:

General Khan's forces captured Mujahid, a former deputy defence minister, on July 6. They seized a satellite phone, a notebook of expenses and a diary of phone numbers, including that of a mobile phone used by the fugitive Taliban leader, Mullah Mohammed Omar, a close ally of bin Laden. Mujahid is now being interrogated by the Americans at Bagram air base, near Kabul.

A US military official declined to say what else had been gleaned from Mujahid, but his arrest, along with the recent capture of several relatives and aides, has given US and Afghan intelligence officials a crucial insight into Taliban operations. The mobile number was traced to Quetta in Pakistan.

"Afghan agents made Mujahid ring Omar's number, but Omar put the phone down after Mujahid mentioned a code word that meant he had been captured," said General Khan. "It was just bad luck." The discovery that Omar is apparently directing operations from inside Pakistan has increased pressure on Islamabad to curb Taliban activities on its soil.
Grim's Hall noted the satellite phonecall to Mullah Omar when it was first reported. It looks like his residence in Quetta was why they didn't hit him with a guided missile. Today's report brings new detail about the level of intel that's being captured in Pakistan and Afghanistan.

Two things worth noting -- the intelligence officers involved on our side are "US military officials." That underlines a point about the nature of the GWoT: the majority of intelligence victories we've seen are coming from military actions, not from the civilian intel agencies. This includes not only the captured files of the Iraqi Intelligence Service, or the surrender of the Libyan nuclear program by a dictator who didn't want to be next. It also includes all of these captured fighters, their documents, and so forth. Pakistan's ISI and our CIA are surely not idle, but the ones we see getting the job done are military men. That should settle the question of whether or not the GWoT is "primarily an intelligence and law enforcement" operation: even if it is that, the military does it better.

The second point to reflect on is how many captures there have been in Pakistan lately. That we know of, we've got Mujahid, a formerly high-placed official; the "High Value Target" Qaeda capture of last week; and the computer junkie who had all the pictures of financial centers. All of these captures were disclosed to us only some time after they were made -- "several weeks" in the case of our computer cowboy, allegedly "days" in the Qaeda case, and so forth.

The war is rolling along, and I see every reason to be cheerful about it. They've got millions; we've got billions. They can move in relative freedom, we hear, though we capture them now and then -- but when did you last hear of a US general officer being captured by the Taliban, or anyone else? It was actually tried in Ramadi, with the result that the US Marine Generals took up rifles and ran the enemy off. Staying the course, bold and brave, is the road to victory.

Marine Corps News> Lejeune battalion calls in air power to clear the road

Fire From Heaven:

What do you do when you've got a tanker truck blocking your road, and local HUMINT tells you that there's an IED placed inside of it? The headline tells the story: "Lejeune battalion calls in air power to clear the road."

JHD writes to draw attention to this part of the story: "Once the elements were on site, a cordon was set to block traffic and clear the area of civilians. Some members of the unit believed there were terrorists hiding in a nearby palm grove so the air controller arranged a surprise for them." Heh, heh.

lgf: coffee break's over. back on your heads.


From LGF, we see what is really amazing news: 90% of Afghans are registered to vote. This is a UN figure, so it's probably a distortion of the truth... but still, even the UN can only distort so much.

The Green Side

A Letter from the Front:

The Green Side presents another letter from Fallujah, by a Major of Marines who signs his name simply as "Dave."

The Sudan:

Well, it finally happened. One of the conspiracy theorists has finally spouted off on the Sudan. It happened over at Del's FreeSpeech:

By the way...Soudan is everyday looking like another Rwanda....where are the good american- peace- reatoring-soldiers...???

Aahhhhh [expletive -- see how the bracket thing works? -Grim] ...I should have known better...THERE IS NO OIL IN SOUDAN !!!!

There actually is quite a bit of oil in the Sudan. In fact, control over the oil and its revenue is the main thing the Sudanese are fighting over.

The oilfields are in the South of Sudan, which is primarily Christian and animist by faith; but the export facilities are all in the north, which is under the control of the Muslim militants.

These last, it should be remembered, are not the legitimate government of Sudan -- they violently overthrew the legitimate government, and established control over the North by force. Now they are trying to do the same to the South, precisely because they can't afford secession by the region which has all the oil.

Both sides are trying to bill this as a contest between religions, and to some degree that's true -- but not to a very large degree. The agitation for the Sha'riah law in the North of Sudan, for example, comes mostly from the populace rather than from the militants who control the area. The populace, which by and large recognizes these militants for the thugs that they are, wants a Sha'riah system because it removes judicial control from the militants, and places it instead in the hands of local imams everyone knows and trusts.

The South is resisting the Sha'riah because they aren't Muslims, and want to be independent. The ethnic cleansing is an attempt to destroy the groups that want independence -- which happens to be the Christians and the animists. But the war in Sudan really is all about oil, or at least, the great majority of it is.

So my question to you: if the US is a Crusader power, that is runs its foreign policy based on oil, why aren't we already in Sudan? We could deal a defeat to a Muslim state, erect a Christian one in the South, and then build ourselves an oil pipeline that would give us sole control of the Sudanese oil fields -- a rather nicer deal for us than that mythical Afghanistan pipeline that we supposedly want, but somehow never get around to building. The UN might even applaud us for our actions in the Sudan.

So why aren't we?