Monday, August 15, 2005

Awash in Oil

Here's some good economic news from Iraq:

BAGHDAD (MENAFN) - Iraq's Oil Minister said that his country posted the highest level of crude sales in the country's petroleum history last July, KUNA reported. Returns of the July oil sales were the largest on record, reaching $2.5 billion, adding that the Iraqi oil production, last July, rose to 1.6 million barrels per day, from 1.440 million bpd in June and 1.380 million bpd in May.

Hike of the crude production was in line with a plan, devised by the ministry to enhance the country's exportation capacities, the minister added.

On production of oil derivatives, he said the output of liquefied gas and fuel rose by 7-10 percent, adding that the output of gasoline last May reached 9.6 million liters per day, and climbed in June to 10.25 million liters pd in June before reaching 11 million liters per day in July.

He expressed hope to hike the fuel output to 12 million liters per day in August and 14 million per day in the end of October.

Is it too much to hope that this gushing increase in output might make a teensy difference in the price Americans are paying at the pump, or is it all being sold to the Chinese?

Cindy Sheehan

The anger of any mother who has lost a son or daughter in war should be indulged, and no one wishes to criticize someone who bears that pain. Yet there is reason to believe that Cindy Sheehan, the mother who, much to the delight of the MSM, has been holding a vigil outside President Bush's Crawford ranch, is not just a grief-stricken parent. It turns out that there's more to her than meets the eye. In an article in Front Page on the terrorist advocate and legal defender Lynne Stewart, we find this item about Cindy Sheehan toward the end:

Cindy Sheehan followed this act. Wearing a sweatshirt advertising the website for United for Peace and Justice, Sheehan was interviewed outside just before the meeting by an ABC-TV news reporter. Sheehan said then that military recruiters should not be allowed on college campuses, maintaining they trick na�ve 18-year-olds with offers of money and scholarships. Tragically, Cindy Sheehan lost her son Casey who was in the Army and was killed two weeks after arriving in Iraq. She claimed he was promised a job as a chaplain's assistant although once in the service was placed in a combat role and killed, certainly a moving story - one she exploits to promote venomous anti-Americanism. "George Bush and his neo-conservatives killed my son," she said tearing up a bit. "America has been killing people on this continent since it was started. This country is not worth dying for."

Sheehan said she considered Lynne Stewart her Atticus Finch, the lawyer who defended an innocent Black man accused of rape in the book and film "To Kill A Mockingbird."

"They're not waging a War on Terror but a War of Terror," she said. "The biggest terrorist is George W. Bush." She claimed "it costs $66,000 to recruit one soldier, not including training, and $49,000 a year to house a prisoner, yet only $6,000 per year is spent to educate a child in California. (Recruiting costs are actually $15,000 per soldier, the cost of housing a prisoner in California for one year is $26,000.)

Sheehan continued, "9/11 was Pearl Harbor for the neo-conservatives' agenda" and declared the U.S. government a "morally repugnant system." Then she raged:

We have no Constitution. We're the only country with no checks and balances. We want our country back if we have to impeach George Bush down to the person who picks up the dog sh-t in Washington! Let George Bush send his two little party animals to die in Iraq. It's OK for Israel to have nuclear weapons but we are waging nuclear war in Iraq, we have contaminated the entire country. It's not OK for Syria to be in Lebanon. Hypocrites! But Israel can occupy Palestine? Stop the slaughter!

While one might dismiss some of Sheehan's hyperbole due to grief over her son's death, a little research about Casey Sheehan revealed that contrary to being tricked by military recruiters, Casey Sheehan had re-enlisted in the U.S. Army voluntarily when he was 24-years-old, after serving his first hitch successfully. Casey Sheehan was in fact a hero who received a Bronze Star. He was attached as a mechanic to the artillery division of the 1st U.S. Cavalry in Iraq. When a convoy of soldiers from Casey's unit was attacked in Sadr City by insurgents, Casey volunteered to join a rapid rescue force to get them out. His commanding sergeant told him he did not have to go into combat, because he was a mechanic and not an infantryman. Casey was quoted telling his officer, "I go where my chief goes." He was tragically killed during the rescue attempt. The source for this story? Cindy Sheehan herself.

I also visited an army recruiting office on my way home and asked about Casey being promised a job as a chaplain's assistant only to be thrust into harm's way. The recruiter explained to me that on re-enlistment, the Army's B.E.A.R. program (Bonus Extension and Retaining) guarantees everything in writing. If Casey was a mechanic during his first hitch, that was the only thing he would have been guaranteed per his re-enlistment contract. Further research showed that a chaplain's assistant is a combat infantry position, whereas Casey was deployed in a non-combat job as a mechanic. Casey Sheehan sought combat duty for his country and should be honored for it, not used as a symbol of how evil the United States is.

Ms Sheehan's son was a hero who volunteered to serve, and then to reenlist, and then to go on a rescue mission even though he was a non-combat mechanic. No one forced him to make any of those decisions. Now Ms Sheehan is blaming President Bush for the fact that her son is dead and making pronouncements about Israel's policy vis a vis the Palestinians. She seems, unfortunately, to be trying to exploit her status as a bereaved mother in order to achieve political aims quite unrelated to the war in Iraq. No one would have listened to her if her son had not been killed, but because he has she is being deferred to as someone who has gained valuable insight into world affairs and whose opinions merit public notice.

That her story has changed and that she has gotten her facts so completely wrong is worrisome but not nearly so much as the company she is now keeping.

IEDs and Asymmetrical Warfare

Wretchard at Belmont Club has an interesting discussion of the technology race we find ourselves in against the Islamists in Iraq.

Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs) are more than physical objects, they are symbols of asymmetrical warfare, along with the suicide bomb and the sniper. They are exemplars of 'insoluble' threats against which resistance is supposedly futile and to which surrender is the only viable response. In times past, the submarine and bombing aircraft occupied the same psychological space. In the late 19th century, Alfred Thayer Mahan theorized that sea control, exercised through battlefleets, would be the arbiters of maritime power. But rival theorists believed weaker nations using motor torpedo boats and above all, the submarine, could neutralize battlefleets. The way to checkmate global superpower Britain, so the theory went, was through asymmetrical naval warfare.

In the early days of World War 1, three British armored cruisers HMS Aboukir, HMS Hogue and HMS Cressy were patrolling the North Sea making no attempt to zigzag. The German U-9 fired a single torpedo into the Aboukir which promptly sank. HMS Hogue gallantly raced up to rescue survivors, believing the Aboukir was mined, and came right into the U-9's sights. She was sunk in turn. The HMS Cressy, believing both were mined, sped like a clay pigeon in a shooting gallery into another one of the U-9s torpedoes. In under an hour the asymmetrical weapon had killed 1,459 British sailors and sunk three cruisers.

In the 1930s the bomber airplane took the place of the U-boat as the unstoppable weapon in the public's imagination. Fired by the concepts of Italian airpower theorist Giulio Douhet, many interwar policymakers believed that bomber aircraft alone could bring a nation to its knees. The destructive capacity ascribed to the biplane bombers of the day approached that later attributed to nuclear weapons during the Cold War and so terrified politicians that it fueled the policy of appeasement.

Wretchard goes on to examine how the Improvised Explosive Device is being used by the jihadis in Iraq, how it is evolving, and the ongoing and increasingly successful efforts to render it relatively ineffective. It's worth a read.