October 10, 2006

Oct. 10, 2006: Bud Talkinghorn

The struggle for democracy in Iraq is over--please exit stage left

The bloodshed in Iraq is now mainly a sectarian event. I heard on CNN that the Iraqi deaths reached a staggering 11,000 for September. That 24 Marines died in the last week shows that the insurgency is broadbased. There are Rumsfeld's "dead-enders", a.k.a. the old Baathist army waging sophisticated warfare. You don't simply dismiss an army that fought four recent wars, two of which were a draw. They are going to be more than resentful. Then (and here Pres. Bush is right) you have the foreign jihadis who really want to kill freely anyone they think will give them the virgins. If they could scam American immigration and afford the ticket to the U.S., they would wreck havoc on U.S. streets. Unfortunately for them, they have to take a cross-desert trip to Baghdad to kill a bunch of Shi'ites. Killing fellow Muslims, does that cut down on the virgin quota? Lots to think about during that 16 hour bus trip from Syria. What if you get only one? You could have had that at home and still be alive.

It is not merely the presence of foreign troops on Iraqi soil that infuriates the locals. It is that these heathens dare bring in female warriors to fight them. To the fundamentalists--male and female--this is a stick in the eye to the patriarchy they have all supported for centuries. Plus there are the Marines' laser eyes that follow any woman who shows even a hint of sexual interest. These fellows are, on average, 24 years old. And this is not Vietnam, with a red light district in every town. The Iraqi menfolk in particular are mightily offended. Of course, blowing up Iraqi women in the marketplace, that they consider to be honourable.

As far as the internecine warfare between the two main branches of Islam, that is a long story. The hatreds there pre-date any conflict with the Christian crusaders. It is conceivable that the sole reason that small Muslim sects survive is that dictators run their homelands. It may be the final irony that it would have been better if Saddam had been left to run the country. Maybe only a ruthless totalitarian state could keep Iraq intact. A sad conclusion, but one that is becoming more obvious by the day. Besides, when you see the Shi'ite Hezbollah in action in Lebanon, or the Shi'ite death squads in Iraq (government-backed) your sympathy for them withers somewhat. Two groups of fanatics fighting each other; it doesn't get any better than that. So long as it doesn't spiral into a regional war between the Sunnis and Shi'ites it is a Martha Stewart "good thing".

America--there are more winnable wars to fight. Concentrate on Afghanistan, where much of the population despises the Taliban. That will weaken al-Qaeda also. Keep a presence in Iraq for the purpose of killing the al-Qaeda elements there. Expect some help from the Shi'ites, who have been their primary victims. Let the civil war slaughter go full bore. The majority of the Sunni and Shi'ite combatants will have neutralized themselves within a few years. Then move in and pick up the peices. It sounds cynical, but the road to victory is usually paved with cynical stones. You have only to read the military history of WW11 to understand that fact. Let the strategic retreat begin. Let the Sunni and Shi'ite militias duke it out. I assure you that having a foreign Arabic accent will not be a plus point when the Shi'ites begin their ethnic cleansing.

The Malaya insurrection in the 50's was won primarily by isolating the Chinese Communists. It took years for the SAS to track down the foot soldiers and their leaders in the jungle, but they did it. The trouble with modern Western populations is that they expect instant war gratification. They are confusing war with a 60 minute serial on TV. There are no tidy moments to this drama. It is a bitter war of attrition.

© Bud Talkinghorn

The cheese-eating, surrender monkeys are at it again

I was listening to our Defense Minister, Gordon O'Connor, on CBC. He was bemoaning the fact that only Canada and a few other countries are shouldering the heavy combat the southern zone of Afghanistan. Meanwhile France, Germany and Italy are ensconsed in safer northern and western areas of Afghanistan. What's more, they plan on staying safe and sound. These countries have stipulated that they will send troops only if they don't have to fight the Taliban. (They have attached caveats to their deployment, that they won't fight at night and won't be moved in to help in an emergency or when needed where Canadian and other troops are fighting.) These are major European players in NATO, so should be sharing in the struggle to defeat a barbarous enemy. While France is not the only offender here, I can't help seeing their hand behind these caveats.

Along with America, France was one of the architects of the UN Lebanon military agreement. Then, when it came time to send peacekeeping soldiers, France sent an inadequate 400. Only after international outrage did they up the number to 4000. Their record for cowardice dates back to WW11 (at least), when they capitulated to the Nazis and collaborated wildly. As one wag said, "Every French whore who gave a German soldier the clap, and every baker who over-charged him for a loaf of bread, now thinks they were part of the Maquis underground." The French not only turned in Jews to the Nazis, falsely, they turned in their non-Jewish neighbours as resistance fighters, so they could take their land. The false accusations grew so numerous that the Nazis had to warn the offenders that they, not the falsely accused, would end up in Bergen-Belsen. Charles de Gaulle, the Free French leader during the time, betrayed the Maquis in the southern mountains. They had agreed to attack a strong German force, if de Gaulle promised to airlift them suppies. He agreed and then reneged on his promise. The Maquis in that war zone were wiped out. De Gualle's allies in London considered him an arrogant incompetent general and kept him out of the loop as much as possible. The only time de Gaulle got tough was in his struggle to hold on to Vietnam and Algeria--two colonies. The military record of de Gaulle was carried on by French presidents. A while back, I watched a documentary on the "peacekeepers" in Kosovo. The journalist showed the French NATO force standing idly by while a Serb village was being pillaged by Muslim Kosovars. The reverse genocide had spread all over the north but the French troops refused to raise a hand. Disgraceful.

If France cannot stand to lose any troops in Afghanistan, then France should leave NATO. The founding principle of NATO is that an attack against one is an attack against all members. Perhaps they should be made to relieve the Americans, who are furiously fighting al-Qaeda and the Taliban along the eastern border area. That would bring a smile to many faces.

As another wit remarked, "Nobody talks as much about honour, while having so little." It's enough to make me start ordering "freedom fries".

© Bud Talkinghorn


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