The Corner on National Review Online

The Side of Light:

Two items on the Iraq war. First, a USCENTCOM press release:

An Army unit assigned to I Marine Expeditionary Force, discovered and defused an explosive-laden youth center in Ramadi Nov. 4, which was rigged by insurgents to detonate and potentially kill dozens of Iraqi children. They also discovered more than two tons of explosives hidden in a mosque.
Hat tip: The Corner.

Second item: BlackFive has an interview with a member of the Army Guard's medical team. "I came to this country hating the Iraqi people," he begins:

In the arms of the soldier was a crying baby wrapped in pieces of cloth. Neither man spoke English more than a few words, "Baby, no good. Please."

I unwrapped the baby to expose a terribly distended belly, feet and legs that looked like filled water balloons ready to explode. His cry was pitiful. I told a medic to call for a physician and the surgical team. I escorted the two men and two children to our exam room. It was evident that there was a serious problem with this tiny baby.

After assuring the men we would try our best to help, I was able to ascertain that the baby was 3 months old and that the civilian hospital in Baghdad had sent the soldier away, telling him they could not help.

I saw a man who very much loved his son begging us to save his baby. He frantically tried to soothe his cry, gently kissing his cheek. My heart went out to him. I took the baby's vital signs as the physician assistant examined him. He determined that we needed to get the baby to Baghdad to our larger military hospital as soon as possible.

We had the father get out of his uniform and put on a scrub top so he would be a little less conspicuous — Iraqi soldiers are often targeted in Baghdad. The baby and his father were on their way to hope....

Many times I wonder if it is worth it. Then I think of the 3-year-old boy dressed in a suit watching his daddy graduate as a new Iraqi soldier. As he runs toward me, I am in battle uniform and ballistic armor, with weapon at high ready. He smiles big, waves and says, "I love you, American!" Yeah, it's worth it.
It's worth it.

Yahoo! News - Black Watch mourns first combat deaths of new Iraq mission

Hail the Black Watch:

I offer a salute to the Black Watch. They were raised as the 43rd Royal Highland Regiment; after the British army had an entire regiment reduced, they became the 42nd. It grew large enough that it was divided into two regiments, the 42nd and 73rd; during the African conflicts the two were reunited as 1st and 2nd Battalions, Black Watch. They first came by this title due to their uniform tartan, a dark blue and green pattern that looked black at any distance. It contrasted them with the Red Coats, who were the British regulars; irony being a common mode, they later adopted the uniform red coat themselves.

They have suffered their first combat losses since redeploying to support Iraqi National Guard and US Marine efforts around Fallujah.

"For a close knit family such as the Black Watch this is indeed a painful blow," said Lieutenant Colonel James Cowan, the head of the battle group.

"We will miss them as brothers in arms and we extend our sympathy and love to their families," he said in a statement Friday.

"The whole of the Black Watch is saddened by this loss. But while we feel this blow most keenly we will not be deterred from seeing our task through to a successful conclusion," said Cowan.
The Black Watch's service today continues a tradition that has passed from history into near myth. They remain the most famous of the Scottish Regiments, though they are not the oldest of them -- the Royal Scots have that honor. They have seen service in the Napoleonic wars, the Crimean War, both World Wars, and were the last British unit in Hong Kong. At every point they have served with gallantry and courage. They have been at the forefront of all the right causes since Napoleon, from the elimination of the slave trade to the crushing of the Nazis. I remember the awe I felt, looking on the order of battle back in 2003, to realize that they had been deployed in our support.

But this story has an odd beginning. The Black Watch was raised in the Highlands, for duty suppressing the Clans who were disloyal to the crown. They came from a world in which tribal loyalty was the ancient and accepted standard, and in which the British regulars could not operate without raising the ire of the populace.

They were, in other words, exactly like the Iraqi National Guard.

In two hundred years, some journalist may be writing an account of some conflict, some brushfire war in some corner of his world, and find that his breath catches in his throat to see that the Iraqi Guard has deployed. "Do you know who they are?" he will whisper, voice filled with reverent awe.

Out of such humble beginnings often grow proud traditions. Sometimes, they grow into legends.

Nov 2

Victory & What It Means:

We won. Take a moment to survey the landscape.

Yesterday, almost 55 million Americans got up, formed part of record lines, and voted to replace the President of the United States. Many of them felt passionately about doing so. Many had donated money to political campaigns for the first time. Many people heretofore uninterested in politics joined grassroots organizations aimed at removing George Bush from office, and to try to pry any part of the Federal government back to their political party.

This morning, the results must look to them like the carnage of a battlefield. Despite everything they did, George Bush was reelected. The Republicans, far from losing the House or the Senate, secured and increased their majorities. The highest ranking Democrat in the government, Senate Minority Leader Daschle, was turned out by voters. For social liberals, the sweeping victory of amendments forbidding gay marriage -- every one offered passed handily -- must be depressing. There is nothing for them to feel good about in the results, except the election of Mr. Obama and the well-deserved defeat of Mr. Keyes in IL.

They were defeated only because more than 58 million Americans stood up to vote for the opposite things.

In medieval battles, often forces coming into contact with each other were nearly evenly matched. The forces fight -- Vikings and Saxons clashing at each other behind their shield walls -- until that small difference in strength breaks one of the lines. Then, pouring through the breach, the victors tear apart the shield wall and rout the enemy. Few of the losers escaped from such battles, when any did. Though the foe may have been of nearly equal size and strength, at the last that small difference led to a complete victory for one side, and complete destruction for the other.

Democracy works in a similar way. We have had a giant clash of peaceful armies, and in spite of the completeness of the rout, we must remember that their force was nearly as powerful as our own.

For those of you readers who were part of the defeated army, I salute you. You have every reason to be proud of how hard you fought, and of the dedication and steadfastness with which you struck for your cause. You can hold your heads high, knowing that you did absolutely everything that could be done.

In the next years, we must remember the 55 million. It may be that some of them can be won over, through argument or through example, or even -- on matters not of principle -- through compromise. Even when not, we must remember that they showed that America is their country too: no one can ever again claim to be backed by the "silent majority." That majority has now spoken, but it spoke on both sides.

We should remember that they felt all the passion and concern that we did ourselves, and found that doing everything they could only led to the defeat of their cause. That kind of defeat can weaken the Republic, which many of us are sworn to uphold. It weakens it by undermining faith and confidence in the institutions. We must take care to be sure they find fair hearing of their concerns in the institutions that conservatives now control. The government must serve them as well. We should take care to observe the tenets of Federalism, and not use the power of the Federal government to try and influence liberal states according to a general will. We should erect new walls in that regard, so that our disappointed neighbors can still live the lives they want to live in what is also their country.

Those same walls will protect us, should we ever someday lose.

Congratulations to the victor.



Grim's Hall enjoyed 100% turnout in our private "Get Out The Vote" efforts, with 100% of us voting for Bush. The election comes down to really just two things, which are tightly related: the war, and character. Bush has proven he'll fight the war emphatically; Kerry says he would, when he isn't saying he'll have the troops "home where they belong." Troops brought home can't win the war.

As to character: in spite of the constant assaults on Bush's character, I've developed some mild admiration for the man. He's far from perfect, but I believe he is decent and brave. I remember how he flew into Baghdad by night, to visit his troops on Thanksgiving. I remember how he took time out of his day to climb up on a plane of soldiers deploying to Iraq. I thought "Ashley's story" was very revealing, because it was her family that went to the trouble of getting it out, making sure we knew about it. I remember Bush going to run with Sergeant McNaughton, who lost his leg.

We know, by now, what I think of Kerry's character, so I won't belabor it. To put it short: I've seen nothing from him to indicate that he is a decent man.

Mistakes are made in war, and to be honest, there have been no mistakes in Iraq to rival some of the ones made in the planning for the war in France, following Operation Overlord. Victor Hanson, a man whose writing I don't normally enjoy, wrote an excellent account of the brutality that followed D-Day, most of it due to poor Allied planning, which cost 2,500 Allied lives every day. Iraq has seen its share of blunders and mistakes, imperfect planning and sometimes even absent planning. But all wars do; most of them, worse.

What matters is boldness and commitment, and the certainty of heart. Bush has that.

Too, I must acknowledge that some of our institutions have broken down. Neither the traditional separation of powers, nor the rule of law, can any longer restrain the most powerful men and women in this country. If the law cannot bind them, oaths must. Character is the only guarantee we have, the last one that can function.

Would Kerry keep his oath? I can't see why, when he broke his oath as a Naval officer. Will he choose to obey the law when the court can't restrain him? I can't see why, when he's continued to collect his Senate pay in open defiance of the US Code.

No, this election is an election of no choice. Bush is the only candidate to support. He is a decent man "with a spine of tempered steel," as Zell Miller put it. His opponent has neither quality, and both are needed.

Sgt Hook - This We'll Defend � Sergeant Major Hook


Congratulations are due to Sergeant Major Hook. One of our own, done good.


Kerry's Discharge Was Not Honorable:

A few weeks ago, I introduced you to an old friend of mine, Tiny Robinson, who in 1971 was a Navy SEAL. AuthentiSEAL, a research organization which investigates false claims to military glory, has been looking into Kerry's discharge status for months.

Today there are new stories about this. You've probably seen the first one, in the New York Sun. It is an interview with Captain Mark Sullivan, USN Ret, one of a pair of Naval attorneys who have separately been researching the question. As a JAG officer, he is intimitely familiar with what the paperwork should look like. What Kerry has posted isn't it, he says.

Kerry spokesman David Wade did not reply when asked if Mr. Kerry was other than honorably discharged before he was honorably discharged.

"Mr. Meehan may well be right and all Mr. Kerry's military records are on his Web site," Mr. Sullivan said. "Unlike en listed members, officers do not receive other than honorable, or dishonorable, certificates of discharge. To the contrary, the rule is that no certificate will be awarded to an officer separated wherever the circumstances prompting separation are not deemed consonant with traditional naval concepts of honor. The absence of an honorable discharge certificate for a separated naval officer is, therefore, a harsh and severe sanction and is, in fact, the treatment given officers who are dismissed after a general court-martial."
The Sun piece is an interview, as I said. The actual testimony of these two Naval JAG officers is posted at Vets For Bush (.PDF warning). PoliPundit, who has also been following this story, has more.

Osama Lied!

What to make of this story?

"The US Department of State wishes to alert US citizens, either resident in or traveling through the Nordic/Baltic region, that it has received threat information and urges all US citizens in the Nordic and Baltic countries to be vigilant as to their surroundings," the embassy in Helsinki said.

It said the warning should be heeded "especially in centers of ground-based mass transit" and called on Americans "to report any unusual or suspicious persons, incidents or circumstances to the nearest police authorities."
But how can this be? Didn't Osama just tell us that Sweden was safe, as we would be too if only we'd lay down arms?

Why, I feel betrayed.

deuddersun says...

"For the Eight"

Deuddersun has a tribute up to our fallen brothers of this week:

Go now, and take your places at the Table of Warriors with the Blessings of The All Father, Odin, One-eye, for you have, by your blood and steel, earned nothing less than Eternal Honor amongst the Heroes of Valhalla.
There's a Christian poem, too. Someday I'll write a long piece on the US Marines and the old heathen religion.

For today, though, I heft my mead horn in salute. May I drink in Valhalla with you, when the day comes.

Anticipatory Retaliation: Iraqi Endorsement Roundup

Bathroom Humor:

Remember all those pubic jokes about Bush and Cheney's names? Well, apparently the humor works in Kurdistan too, only the other way:

Old Man: KIRI is a name ? It is the end of the world.
Who knew? These things happen now and then (see the comments to that post, too).

Reverend Horton Heat

That Other Election:

Best American Band of 2004. Hey, you've gotta pick somebody. These are my boys. "Liquor, Beer and Wine" remains a classic.