Saturday, November 13, 2004

Hitting the Bullseye

No Left Turns posts an excerpt of an article appearing in the next issue of The New Republic. The article is written by Brad Carson, the losing Democratic Senate candidate in Oklahoma, who reflects upon his defeat and the contemporary culture war. Carson writes:

"The culture war is real, and it is a conflict not merely about some particular policy or legislative item, but about modernity itself. Banning gay marriage or abortion would not be sufficient to heal the cultural gulf that exists in this nation. The culture war is about matters more fundamental still: whether nationality is, in a globalized world, a random fact of no more significance than what hospital one was born in or whether it is the source of identity and even political legitimacy; whether one's self is a matter of choice or whether it is predetermined, before birth, by the cultural membership of one's family; whether an individual is just that--a free-floating atom--or whether the individual is part of a long chain that both predates and continues long after any particular person; whether concepts like honor and shame, which seem so quaint, are still relevant in a world that values only "tolerance." These are questions not for politicians but for philosophers, and, in the end, it is the failure of liberal philosophy that we saw on November 2.

"For the vast majority of Oklahomans--and, I would suspect, voters in other red states--these transcendent cultural concerns are more important than universal health care or raising the minimum wage or preserving farm subsidies. Pace Thomas Frank, the voters aren't deluded or uneducated. They simply reject the notion that material concerns are more real than spiritual or cultural ones. The political left has always had a hard time understanding this, preferring to believe that the masses are enthralled by a "false consciousness" or Fox News or whatever today's excuse might be. But the truth is quite simple: Most voters in a state like Oklahoma--and I venture to say most other Southern and Midwestern states--reject the general direction of American culture and celebrate the political party that promises to reform or revise it."

As long as the Democrats continue in their state of denial about the meaning of November 2nd they will be in special need of men with Carson's understanding. Unfortunately, to the extent that they pay people like him no heed and remain fixated on stolen votes, secession, and stereotypes of red state (or more accurately, red county) voters they'll continue their slide into political irrelevance.

Battlefield Tech, Etc.

Readers interested in how American technology is put to use on the battlefield will find these two reports here and here from Bing West at Slate very interesting.

Thanks to Chester for the tip.

Bill Roggio at The Fourth Rail also has some good commentary on the last couple of days in Fallujah as does The Strategy Page.

Three items especially worth noting are these. First from The Strategy Page:

Very few civilians have been encountered in Fallujah. Those that claim to be civilians are given a "residue test" to see if their hands have fired a gun or handled explosives recently. Very few young men in Fallujah come away clean.

We wondered how our troops were able to distinguish civilians from fighters in the exodus from the city.

And these two from The Fourth Rail:

Violence has flared up in Mosul, and a Stryker battalion is being diverted from Fallujah to the northern city. Four battalions of the Iraqi National Guard, which were patrolling the Syrian and Iranian borders, have also been dispatched to Mosul to restore order. The commander of the local police has been relieved from duty and the chief of the anti-crime unit was assassinated.

The move of the Stryker battalion from Fallujah to Mosul indicates the Coalition is confident in the situation in Fallujah. Fallujah is a high priority and a significant amount of time, planning and resources has been devoted to success. The move, along with the redeployment of the four Iraqi National Guard battalions from the borders, also underscores a lack of resources in Iraq. There does not appear to be a strategic reserve of troops available to conduct an operation the size of Fallujah without pinching units from other areas. This problem will subside as additional Iraq Army and National Guard units come on line, but the current operations being conducted in the Sunni Triangle will expose this weakness.

Perhaps the biggest mistake of the post-war was not having more troops available, and we have been paying for the apparent misjudgment for over a year. We are not military experts and we fear asking a foolish question, but how many combat troops do we still have stationed in Europe, South Korea, and Okinawa, and what purpose are they serving there?

Secondly, another well-known Iraqi militant group, Ansar al-Sunnah Army, claimed in a statement on its Web site Friday to have joined forces with al-Zarqawi's group and the Islamic Army in Iraq.

While the cooperation between the groups will expand their resources and make them more formidable, this will expose the groups to infiltration. Terrorist groups maintain operational security by operating in small groups, or cells, with limited knowledge and contact between cells. The larger a terror network becomes, the greater chance a high-ranking member with detailed knowledge of the organization is captured or flipped. The merger may also be occurring for practical reasons. Large numbers of terrorists are being chewed up in Fallujah, and there may be manpower problems for al Qaeda in Iraq.

Time is not on the terrorists' side in Iraq. As the Iraqi military gets stronger, elections get closer, and terrorist forces continue to be depleted their prospects for success continue to dim. Barring a catastrophic strike against the United States' homeland, the only hope Islamists have in Iraq is for their allies in the American left to wear away at the patience and will of the American people. Doubtless they'll continue to do their best.