McCain Plays Games

November 14, 2005

John McCain showed great courage during his captivity by the North Vietnamese communists. But his criticism of coalition strategy in Iraq amounts to telling our forces to do something they’re already doing. Playing political games in time of war demeans him.

Here’s his suggestion:

Instead of trying to shift forces around the country to secure all of Iraq from insurgents, he said U.S. troops should concentrate on securing and holding insurgent strongholds. “Our forces would begin by clearing areas, with heavy force if necessary, to establish a zone as free of insurgents as possible. The security forces can then cordon off the zone, establish constant patrols, by American and Iraqi military and police, to protect the population from insurgents and common crime, and arrest remaining insurgents as they are found,” he said.

Senator McCain said in this newly secure environment, reconstruction could proceed without fear of attack and sabotage, and political meetings and campaigning could take place in the open. In short, he argued, civil society could emerge.

The Senator said such a strategy would require more troops, and would result in more casualties. But he said it was necessary to stabilize the country.

But what he proposes is exactly what the coalition is doing, except rather than pour in more US troops, they’re training up the Iraqi army – the only long term solution. Here’s what’s happening on the Syrian border (my emphasis):

Iraqi Army soldiers and Marines, Soldiers and Sailors with Regimental Combat Team –2 began a new phase of Operation Al Hajip Elfulathi (Steel Curtain) today by entering the town of Ubaydi.

Ubaydi, located on the banks of the Euphrates River, is only 20 km from the Syrian border, and was the site of Operation Matador last May.

The towns of Husaybah and Karabilah were cleared earlier in the operation and permanent Iraqi-U.S. presence has been established.

Operation Steel Curtain differs from Matador in the respect that a permanent presence of Iraqi and U.S. forces will be established in the city.

The goals of Operation Steel Curtain are to restore Iraqi sovereign control along the Iraq-Syria border and destroy the al Qaeda in Iraq terrorists operating throughout the Al Qa’im region.
This offensive is part of the larger Operation Sayaid (Hunter), designed to prevent al Qaeda in Iraq from operating in the Euphrates River Valley and throughout Al Anbar and to establish a permanent Iraqi Army presence in the Al Qa’im region.

Getting the Iraqi army trained has been incredibly hard, and good men have died in the process. The current progress makes the effort and sacrifices worthwhile.


Nuclear Reactors Are Tough, Terrorists Are Dumb

November 14, 2005

The reported plot by Islamic terrorists against an Australian nuclear reactor tells us that the terrorists were stupid, not that nuclear plants are vulnerable.

The story (my emphasis):

Eight Sydney men arrested on terrorism charges may have been planning a bomb attack against the city’s nuclear reactor, police said on Monday.

Their Islamic spiritual leader, also charged with terrorism offences, told the men if they wanted to die for jihad they should inflict “maximum damage,” according to a 21-page police court document.

The document outlines how the men, arrested last week in the nation’s biggest security swoop, bought chemicals used in the London July 7 bombs, had bomb-making instructions in Arabic and videos entitled “Sheikh Osama’s Training Course” and “Are you ready to die?”

Under the heading “Targets,” police said three of the men were stopped near Sydney’s Lucas Heights nuclear reactor in December 2004. A security gate lock had recently been cut.

To do any damage to a nuclear reactor, you need much more than a cut padlock and some backpack bombs. Reactors containers are designed to contain the worst credible failure, meltdown, which would leave them full of molten uranium at over 2,000 degrees (my ellipsis and emphasis):

(Nuclear reactors are) protected by at least three feet of reinforced concrete.

A ground attack is…unlikely to succeed. Even if terrorists could penetrate the normal security barriers, they would find that the control personnel had shut down the reactor. Turning it off can be done quickly (you hit a Big Red Button). And even if a meltdown could be produced, the thick concrete containment structure prevents the escape of radioactivity into the environment. Chernobyl had no such containment.

In the extremely unlikely event of a total reactor accident, the consequences are less severe than generally pictured.

We have already seen the worst scenario that one can imagine: Even so, Chernobyl killed only some 30 people — those who were directly involved in putting out the fire. According to the International Atomic Energy Agency, the subsequent health effects have been minor: no increases in leukemia or birth defects; only cases of thyroid cancer that could have been avoided by taking protective potassium-iodide pills. Certainly, more people died from the panicky reaction to Chernobyl, including thousands of abortions by women in Western Europe who feared the consequences from the release of radiation.

Since terrorists are just criminals with “Islamic spiritual leaders”, this daft plot demonstrates the strong inverse correlation between criminality and IQ (mean criminal IQ is 10 points below normal).

Al Queda Is Finished In Iraq

November 14, 2005

The Jordan bombing shows that al Queda in Iraq is now incompetent and without allies in the Sunni community. Incompetence and self destruction are features of defeated armies, so the war is won and it just remains to nail Zarqawi.

Mao observed that guerrillas must swim in a civilian sea – once exposed, they’re easily defeated. In Iraq, parts of the Sunni population provided that sea for al Queda, but by killing Sunnis in Jordan it’s stranded itself.

For brevity, I’ve pulled the essential facts from here and here.

1. Jordan is 95% Sunni Muslim.

2. Four killers entered Jordan from Iraq on November 5th and rented an apartment in Amman.

3. Each brought with them an explosive/shrapnel suicide bomb designed to maximize death and mutilation.

4. The killers spent 4 days reconnoitering the 3 hotels they’d targeted then on the evening of November 9th they attacked – one man took one hotel each and the husband and wife team the third.

5. One of the killers (Days Inn) tried to detonate in a restaurant and failed. He was chased out of the hotel by security, finally detonating outside.

6. The husband and wife team targeted a wedding of a couple from Jordan and Palestine, dressing smartly to ensure they could join the party. The husband successfully detonated, killing many of the party including the fathers of bride and groom.

7. The woman’s detonator failed, and she fled back to the apartment.

8. al Queda in Iraq then boasted of the killings without knowing if all bombers had detonated, and said that two of the bombers were husband and wife.

9. The Jordanian police were very efficient. They knew that there had not been a woman bomber (bomber’s heads are blown off in a characteristic way) and they tracked down the woman in the apartment.

10. Now she’s singing.

This tells us the following about al Queda in Iraq:

It has has turned on the Sunnis.
Its weapons are shoddy, so they don’t have competent armorers left.
It’s killers are amateur and easily panicked.
It doesn’t have people to observe its bombing attempts (even the IRA managed that).
It has no backup in Jordan.

This is an organization on it last legs, thanks to the bravery and skill of the coalition and Iraqi armies and Iraqi police. Now we need to drive a stake through its heart, killing or catching Zarqawi.