Thursday, June 30, 2005

Our Newest Ally

Today was a very good day.

Why? Because somebody in Washington is looking ahead, that's why. I don't really care who. I'm interested in results.

Here's the deal: terrorists are a short-term nuisance, not a long-term strategic threat. They can only become a long-term strategic threat if we ignore them or fail to deal with them. As long as we keep our nerve, they cannot win.

There does exist a long-term strategic threat, though. One that hasn't gotten much airplay recently.

Who would that be, you ask?


Don't let the growing "market" economy fool you. It's still a repressive dictatorship. Chinese people do not enjoy basic freedoms that we take for granted. We know from Tiananmen Square what measures the government is willing to take to keep up the repression. What we don't know, and don't really want to find out, is what measures they're willing to take against their neighbors to prop up the regime at home.

But we now have a powerful new friend that we can count on to keep China in check. Who might that be?

Why, India.

India? When we think of India, we think of the teeming slums of New Delhi, or Calcutta. But that's changing. India's economy is also growing. They have a fairly well-educated work force. They have a strong warrior tradition, and therefore, a pretty good Army. They took good notes while the British were in charge, and kept the best of their practices. And, their technical schools are first-rate. The Indian Institutes of Technology are in the same tier as MIT as far as engineering schools go.

So, although they're not a Great Power yet, they're certainly an up-and-comer. Which is why this treaty is so very important for our future.

It's always good for a superpower to have an understudy. Britain did, while they were on top of the heap. It worked out well for them. Even though WWI and WWII between them cost Britain her empire, she was able to retain her prestige, thanks to her close relationship with her one-time protege, the United States.

Up to now, we really didn't have an ally with which we could have that sort of relationship. A nation that shared many of our traditions and values, but was on the upswing of their power curve.

Mind you, this is just a start. It's not a mutual defense treaty yet, though it will probably become one. And India gets a lot of goodies out of this, too. Access to technology, for a start. It would not astonish me to see India added to the list of nations being offered the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, once that goes into production. Nor would I be amazed if they managed to get in on the AL-1 project at some point. And, of course, there are the ever-popular joint training exercises. It gives us a chance to joust against former Warsaw Pact merchandise of the sort that China still fields.

Yes, this is a very good development. You can never have too many good, strong friends.

Saturday, June 25, 2005

Damn You, Dick Durbin!

The furor over Dick Durbin's remarks on the Senate floor have largely come and gone, but they won't soon be forgotten.

One telling post over at VodkaPundit has produced some interesting comments, the most telling being this bit:

"Guys like Durbin are why I just can't take the Dems seriously when it comes to matters of national security." -- RandMan

Do note that people like RandMan may be in line with the Democrats' position on many social issues. But when one party is perceived to lack the desire, or even the WILL, to defend the Republic, social issues take a back seat to survival.

Here, gentlemen, is the payoff for spurning military affairs for the past three decades. While we have spent three decades running like scalded dogs from anything in a uniform, the Republican Party has made the military its own private playground. Ask virutally any young man in uniform which sort of politician has his best interests at heart, and he's far more likely to answer "Republican" or "None" before he responds "Democrat".

That oughtta tell you something. It oughtta tell you that we desperately need to change our thinking.

Durbin has proven himself to be a prime example of the bad, old thinking.

Mind you, we do need to do some serious, adult-level thinking about what to do about Guantanamo in the long run. It's obvious that keeping detainees in some indeterminate, in-between status cannot be done indefinitely. Eventually, as soon as practical in fact, they need to be either tried and sentenced, or released. But that's an issue I would like to save for another day.

The question is, how can Democrats approach this issue, and not appear to be raving lunatics?

Here's the problem: we may oppose the war all we like, but the ugly fact remains THAT WE ARE BLOODY WELL THERE!

That particular can of whoop-ass cannot be unpoured, once the pop-top has been popped and the contents emptied out all over someone else's real estate.

We must start with the ground-level reality that we are, in fact, engaged in combat operations and trying to rebuild a society that's been broken.

Point Numero Uno: The very worst thing we can do at this point is walk away right now. That virtually guarantees that people we don't like will win. Not that staying will guarantee that people we like WILL win, but staying increases those odds. Now that we're there, against what we might consider to be all sorts of good advice, we must see the thing through. Why? Why throw good money after bad? Because, part of Al-Qaeda's philosophy is based on the "fact" that Americans will always cut and run when the body bags start coming in. They learned that from our behavior in Vietnam, and in Somalia. We haven't the guts for street-level fighting. Eventually, we'll get sick of it, and go home.

We simply MUST break this image. We will have no peace until our enemies come to the realization that we WILL seek them out wherever they are, and stay as long as it takes to destroy their ability to do us harm. Reagan was half right. We must make them believe that they can neither run nor hide.

Point Numero Two-O: The second worst thing we can do is announce any kind of time-table for withdrawal. That's just the previous case, postponed. The enemy will know exactly how long they must lay low and conserve their strength, before their victory is assured.

What makes Durbin's comments so poisonous is that they can have only one purpose: they sicken the American public's will to see this matter through to its end.

Why, Senator? Why do you want to see us beaten? Not merely the American soldiers fighting in Iraq, but your own party here at home? Do you WANT the Republicans to own the White House for another generation? With every such comment, Senator, you give them more ammunition to use against us.

There are a couple of things that I think Democrats ought to be doing, if they ever expect to be taken seriously on national security again.

First: excise the words "Quagmire" and "Vietnam" from your vocabulary. A flat desert has damn little in common with a hilly jungle. And in the end, the NVA only won because we refused to support ARVN like we had promised to do. We have to stay in this for the duration. Our future as a major power depends on it.

Second: It does us no damn good at all to heap scorn on the President's policies unless we have something positive to put in their place. What, precisely, would we do in his place? Specifics, gentlemen. Do we really have any better ideas on what to do? If not, we'd bloody well better get some.

There's been some work in this direction. Take a look at the Truman National Security Project, and at the Arsenal of Democracy, if you haven't already.

We've got to get to where we're taken seriously in military and foreign affairs again, or we're lost as a national party. And that's got to happen soon.

Sunday, June 19, 2005

Father's Day

In a bit of a reversal on the usual custom for the day, I'd like to offer a post in honor of my daughter.

IF (with apologies to Rudyard Kipling)

IF you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you,
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
But make allowance for their doubting too;
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or being lied about, don't deal in lies,
Or being hated, don't give way to hating,
And yet don't look too good, nor talk too wise:

If you can dream - and not make dreams your master;
If you can think - and not make thoughts your aim;
If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
And treat those two impostors just the same;
If you can bear to hear the truth you've spoken
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,
And stoop and build 'em up with worn-out tools:

If you can make one heap of all your winnings
And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings
And never breathe a word about your loss;
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
Except the Will which says to them: 'Hold on!'

If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
Or walk with Kings - nor lose the common touch,
If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you,
If all men count with you, but none too much;
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds' worth of trials surpassed,
Yours is the Earth and everything that's in it,
And - which is more - you'll be a Woman, my lass!