Thursday, January 31, 2008

Terrorism and Jihad

Jihad means ‘holy war’. This description of Jihad is about as informative as ‘lightning war’ describing Blitzkrieg. I can’t think of a single war in the thousands that I have studied where people did NOT want the war to end quickly. Everyone ALWAYS wants a ‘lightening war’. But what was Blitzkrieg?

Germany used a new formation, the panzer division. They took about 400 tanks, placed them into a 2 square mile area. They would use this formation to punch a hole in an enemy line. They would do this in 4 places, 30 miles apart from each other. They would link all of them together 100 miles behind the enemy line. This would create a hole 90 miles wide and 100 miles deep. No army in the world could hold that front. In many cases, the war would be over. THAT was Blitzkrieg.

What does Jihad really mean?

Traditional Islam views the world as being in one of two houses. You are either in the house of Islam, or in the house of war. You are either Muslim, or you are an infidel. Islam has 4 enemies:
1) Infidels
2) Apostates (People who have left Islam)
3) Rebels
4) Bandits

Fighting Infidels and Apostates qualify as Jihad. In Jihad, you qualify for booty in this world, paradise in the next. The penalty for leaving Islam is death. (Apostate) The implication is that you can kill Infidels and Apostates and seize property. Want to start a war? Here is one of the most effective ways that I have ever seen. (I have seen quite a few)

A major problem here is this is NOT the view of a few, fanatical people. As Bernard Lewis points out "For most of the fourteen hundred years of Muslim history, Jihad has been MOST COMMONLY interpreted as being ARMED struggle for the advancement and defense of Muslim power".

Think a political solution is available for this? It makes sense why a political solution has been so difficult to accomplish in the Arab-Israeli confrontation. Ex-President Bill Clinton is probably one of the best political strategists that this country has produced in the post World War II era. His Oslo agreement ended in open warfare between the two signatories. (No fault of his)

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Koran and oath of office

With presidential elections coming up, it may be of value to discuss the Oath of office. Last year, an elected representative for the U.S. government (I believe Minnesota) took the oath of office while holding his hand over the Koran. (Thomas Jefferson’s copy) Even though this gesture was only symbolic, for me this is a problem. I am concerned about a conflict of interest in taking a verbal oath with a document that is so much in conflict with our own laws. After all, a verbal contract is not binding compared to a written one.

Islamic law goes back more than 1,000 years. Many arguments exist about what laws are stronger than others are, and which are ‘authentic’. In any case, many of the ‘authentic’ laws spelled out in the Koran are in direct conflict to our own laws. I am certain that some rules or laws in the Bible and other religious publications are in conflict with our own. However, they are not numerous. The Koran is filled with laws that must be ignored by our legal system to be compatible. A major part of the war in Iraq is how Islamic law and culture can be merged into a democratic system of government. This issue is far from being resolved.

I am certain that the American official who took that oath of office over the Koran is a good man. I am certain that he values the America that you and I do, and that he ignores much of what the Koran says. I am concerned about the concept. I am not an expert, but I do know enough to understand that the potential for conflict of interest is REAL. A considerable problem in much of the world today is that this conflict is being resolved violently.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Can a Cold War strategy defeat militant Islam?

In ‘Foreign Affairs’ magazine, an article appeared that endorsed a Cold War strategy to defeat militant Islam. The argument was made that the war of ideology can be won without direct confrontation. After all, the Soviet Union was ideologically opposed to that of the United States, and we were able to prevail without waging active warfare directly against them. This is a great idea! We do not have to wage warfare and lose our brave young soldiers. Not to mention the wasteful expense inherent in all active warfare.
The other side of this argument is that ALL wars have differences. Many times, these differences are significant. Just two of the differences between the Soviet Union and militant Islam:

1) Militant Islam is not going for the 3rd party solution. The Soviet Union and the United States fought wars on the side. Korea, Vietnam and Afghanistan are the most obvious examples. Neither side was interested in a direct confrontation. Islam has no difficulty with the direct assault.

2) The Soviet Union was not interested in suicide. In the missile crisis in 1962, it was the Soviet Union who turned their ships around, thereby avoiding a direct confrontation (Potential nuclear war) with the United States. Repeated suicide attack is being seen for only the 2nd time of all of recorded history. It is originating from areas where Islam is prevalent. Japan resorted to suicide attack when its military situation became desperate. The ideological war has reached critical areas of Muslim control. The ‘core’ area of Islam is in the Arab lands of the Pershing Gulf. Saudi Arabia is at the epicenter.

This view sees these differences as making a ‘hot’ war not only inevitable, but also necessary. A Cold War strategy in this situation would be as effective as the non-violent containment strategy was against Tojo and Hitler. To put it crudely: It can be difficult to be non-violent when someone is shooting a machine gun at you. Nor is it wise, particularly if you have the means to shoot back.

Sunday, January 27, 2008


After Hamas took over Gaza last summer (2007) Israel and Egypt had closed off the borders. Within the past few days, two breaches have been made in the wall separating Gaza from Egypt. The people of Gaza immediately began flowing out to make purchases of materials they cannot get within Gaza. Egyptian efforts to contain this have failed so far. This is demonstrating the humanitarian crisis that has been taking place within Gaza. This is also an indicator of the civil war that is taking place within the Muslim world. Israel can be expected to not cooperate in working with Hamas. Egypt is indicating that they are not very sympathetic either. Egypt does not want Hamas to be running things. Hamas is a group that follows many ‘authentic’ Islamic laws and beliefs. Egypt is afraid of people who support Hamas getting loose within the Egyptian population. Although this is an oversimplification, it does demonstrate the idea that ideology like Hamas is triggering much of the violence within the Muslim world. The popularity of such groups throughout the Muslim world indicates that this problem is widespread.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Suicide attack

Repeated suicide attack was seen for only the first time in of all recorded history in the 1940’s. Japan resorted to this tactic after it was obvious that they were losing badly. Many suicide attacks had been seen prior to that point. However, the intention was that they were not to be repeated. After the defeat of the carrier air groups in the ‘Marianas Turkey shoot’, Japan began to organize suicide groups. The air force is most commonly remembered. However, it took many other forms as well. Among other things, suicide ships and torpedoes were built. Aircraft and other weapons were built to be expendable and cheap to make. "Human bombs" were organized to strap explosives to themselves. The intent was to jump under a tank or into another U.S. position to blow it up. They were given minimal training. For example, the experienced pilots escorted the Kamikaze pilots to the target. This way, the attackers would have protection and reports would be available with the results of the attack. Many missed the target. Japan would run out of attackers from time to time. The supply of aircraft, pilots and men would be used up until they could be replenished.

From the point of view of the U.S., we were faced with a problem: How do you defeat them? Defensively, it was obvious that you must physically blow them apart before they reach you. Preemption took the form of attacks with the objective to destroy the ability to launch new attacks. For example, attacking the air bases that the Kamikazes used to take off from. We did not know the exact bases, so we attacked them all. We attempted to destroy ALL aircraft in the area. This worked fairly well. We also placed more expendable assets in the way. We would place escort ships along the route to our fleet. These ships would be able to defend themselves. Inexperienced pilots would attack them instead of more important targets. This is an important factor as to why we lost so many escort ships in the Okinawa campaign.

The scary part about this is that it took nuclear weapons to put a decisive end to it.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Afghan journalist sentenced to death for distributing paper 'against Islam'.

The Associated Press Published: January 22, 2008
An Afghan court on Tuesday sentenced a 23-year-old journalism student to death for distributing a paper he printed off the Internet that three judges said violated the tenets of Islam, an official said.

Rhimullah Samandar, the head of the Kabul-based National Journalists Union of Afghanistan, said Kambaksh had been sentenced to death under Article 130 of the Afghan constitution. That article says that if no law exists regarding an issue, a court's decision should be in accord with Hanafi jurisprudence. Hanafi is an orthodox school of Sunni Muslim jurisprudence followed in southern and central Asia.

1000 years of Islamic jurisprudence is at stake here. History has shown time and again that this type of issue has no political solution. People will pick up arms. An example: Last year, riots erupted when a Nigerian court would not stone to death a married woman who had been convicted of adultery. Islamic law is VERY clear about the penalty in this case. Another example: Riots ensued when a Danish paper published cartoons that ‘insulted’ Mohammed.

Just being against Islam is cause for a sentence of death. This is just one example of how Islam is not very tolerant of other viewpoints. This is part of the reason why it is so easy to ‘insult’ Islam and/or Mohammed. This also fits with the two legal enemies of Islam:

1) Infidels (Non-Muslim)

2) Apostates (Those who have left Islam)

Fighting either of these two enemies qualify for Jihad. In Jihad, you qualify for booty in this world, paradise in the next. The Islamic Civil War must resolve these types of issues before Islam can become at peace with the rest of the world.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Iraq - Why would someone be for the war in Iraq?

1) Strategic initiative: Bin Lauden must attack the U.S. Army in Iraq. He knows that if the U.S. is successful, the ‘cancer’ of freedom will spread. He must react to our move. Forcing your enemy to react to your moves is desirable in warfare of any type.

2) Better to have enemies who are willing to risk their lives and kill others to attack our army. It is much more difficult to kill someone who is holding a machine gun and has artillery support than a family walking through a shopping mall.

3) The war in Iraq is drawing extremists into Iraq. This stretches the ‘terrorist’ army more than ours. After all, they do not have the numbers we do. Not to mention the match-up. Seems like a good way to get killed, attacking our army. The ‘terrorist’ army does not have the resources that we do. It is expensive to wage war. They can’t match our resources: Weapons, munitions, financial resources. Conventional forces engaged in irregular combat want to force more combat. This allows the conventional side to gain more advantage regarding weapons and firepower, greater numbers, and greater resources. This is the theory behind the ‘surge’. Other wars that Islamic ‘extremists’ would support can’t be supported nearly as well. Sudan and Lebanon come to mind. This viewpoint would expect terrorist activity to fall in other places besides Iraq and Afghanistan. The Palestinian attempt at democracy can proceed with far less outside interference. The Arabs themselves will tell us that the Palestinian-Israeli problem is a key part of the war against terrorism. If the Palestinians can build a true democracy, the Arabs will ultimately win the war against terrorism.

4) The war in Iraq makes ‘terrorists’ and supporters stand out. Many people believe that the war is creating new ‘terrorists’. The other side of the coin is that the war is making them take a public stand. Just because we can see so many more now does not necessarily mean that all of them are new ones. Is this not one of the major problems with fighting terrorism? Knowing who they are and who supports them? In addition: The vast majority of Germans and Japanese during World War II were good people. This did not change the fact that they were the enemy and were actively attempting to kill us. They were defending their way of life. ALL wars create new enemies. This is one major factor in why this is so.

5) Places the war on terror into Arab hands with our support. An example: The worst enemies of the French resistance during the occupation (1940-1944) were not the Germans. The worst enemies were French who were helping the Germans. In Vietnam, the Vietnamese who fought on our side knew the enemy better than we did. In the war in Iraq, the Arabs know who the ‘terrorists’ and their supporters are better than we do. The war is enabling friendly Arabs to identify them more readily and is giving them the ability to deal with them in a more forceful fashion.

6) War in Iraq is a Civil War that is taking place throughout Islam. Many of the people who are fighting us in Iraq and elsewhere believe in the ‘authentic’ laws in the Koran that are so hostile to the rest of the world. Many of the ‘Laws’ of Islam have to change. This is our fight because of the issues involved. The concept of Jihad has to go. No way will Islam ignore this without violence. The world cannot allow a large population like Islam to kill others and seize their property because they are not Muslim. The world cannot allow the belief that you can kill ‘occupiers’ just because they conquered a country that has the same ‘religion’ as you. The law that states the penalty for leaving Islam is death must change. The payment of Tribute because someone is not a Muslim must end. Stoning ANYONE to death must end. These are some of the issues that are worth risking your life for or against. The United States government agrees. We have already fought wars over many of these types of issues in the past.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Features common to all warfare

1) ALL wars are unique. Like fingerprints. The most common mistake (Generals are just as guilty of this as everyone else) is to fight the prior war again. A classic example: The French building the Maginot line in the 1930’s.

2) Violence goes up as a war progresses. You get better at it. Weapons and tactics get better as well. New allies join the fray. People become more desperate. The loser in wars either cannot or will not match the new level of violence.

3) The three levels of viewing war:
a) Strategic
b) Operational
c) Tactical

4) Two basic type of warfare:
War of conquest – take care of population you occupy.
Punitive warfare – Wipe everyone and everything out. (Nuclear warfare would be a modern example)

5) Political considerations are generally counterproductive in warfare. Many examples of entire armies being wiped out because of political considerations.

6) Occupation: The occupiers are not the worst enemy of the occupied. The worst enemy is the population of the occupied who are working with the occupier.

7) Wars ALWAYS create new enemies.

8) Atrocities occur in ALL wars. The vast majority goes unreported, for obvious reasons. One of the cleanest wars in modern history was the German – Western Allies (England and United States) war 1940-1945. Many atrocities occurred even then. A direct relationship exists between atrocities and the training a unit has undergone. The more training a unit obtains before combat, the less atrocities committed by that unit. This applies to armies as well.

9) Cultural wars are the worst. What happened to the Native Americans is a classic example. Not only is language a difference, but the very habits a population have. In war, it is necessary to de-humanize the enemy. For example, if you shoot down an enemy airplane, or sink an enemy ship, you tell yourself that it was a machine. You attempt to deny that it contained people. This is a natural self-defense mechanism. After all, you are killing people. Cultural differences make this much easier. "A good Jap is a dead Jap". For a number of reasons, when you found a wounded Japanese, you put a bullet in his head. Just to be sure. One potential side-effect from allowing suspected terrorists the same legal rights that United States citizens enjoy could be an increase in soldiers killing of potential prisoners. Many of the same motivations for ‘A good Jap is a dead Jap’ exist today in the war in Iraq. Vietnam had many examples of these motivations as well.

10) The longer a siege lasts, the more brutal the outcome. In general, this applies to wars as well.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Wartime news reporting:

Wartime news reporting is accurate when recording friendly losses. (In a democratic society) In many cases, the accuracy is such that well after the war, the figures stated are not modified by much. Wartime news reporting is inconsistent when reporting enemy losses. In low intensity wars, reporting tends to be more accurate on this issue. In larger affairs, it is off the mark far more frequently. Wartime reporting fails miserably when doing any type of analysis. A classic example is the Washington Post, dated October 15th, 1943. After reading this, the reader would be lead to believe that we (The enemies of Germany and Japan) were basically stalled. That we were not winning the war! In fact, the Allies were so domineering at that point in the war that it is hard to understand how the reporting could have been so far off. This is a pattern that I have seen present in publications during the American Civil War, World War I, Korea, and Vietnam. I see this pattern in many publications today as well. It seems worse currently, but maybe this is partly because I am more involved and have a great deal more to work with.

The ‘Tet’ offensive in 1968 is another example. North Vietnam launched an offensive to demonstrate how far they had come. They committed most of the VC cadres that had been built up over 10 years. The NVA also committed 5 divisions in an attempt at a conventional battle. It was a disaster. The 5 divisions were wiped out, as were many of the VC cadres. Yet newspapers reported this as a stunning defeat. The losses to the enemy were understated. The losses on our side were fairly accurate. Politically, we lost. A more current example:

Remember the 30 day war that Hezbollah and Israel fought a year and a half ago? (August 2006) The news that I was watching and reading reported that Israel lost and Hezbollah won BIG-TIME. (Exception: The Wall Street Journal was careful to point out that these views were political in nature.) Yes, politically this was the case. Looking at it from a different view leads me to question this. The IDF (Israel Defense Force) numbers about 150,000. All the estimates of Hezbollah that I have seen at the time placed them at about 7000 combatants. Loss of life was reported at 158 for Israel and around 2000 for Hezbollah. (This is not counting civilian losses.) In other words, Israel lost about .1% of its combat strength, and Hezbollah lost about 20%. Many well-trained combat units have broken and fled the field in disorder after losing far less than 20%. Hezbollah is not a well-trained combat unit. Hezbollah got hurt, BAD. At best, morale took a major hit. Even if figures were off somewhat, it will take at least a year or two to recover. Please note how seldom we have been hearing about them for the past 18 months.

I read in the Chicago Tribune in an issue in 1971 that the United States could not win in Vietnam because the V.C. and NVA controlled the countryside and we could only control the cities. In Iraq today, is the situation not reversed? Yet we still cannot win? Good reasons exist why the situation evolved the way they did in both Vietnam and Iraq. I can see that newspaper reporting in general has very little to absolutely no understanding of the warfare that is being covered.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Guerrilla warfare:

Features common in Guerrilla wars:

1) Conventional forces tend to outnumber irregular troops.

2) Conventional forces have better weapons.

3) Conventional forces have better training. (A large reason why atrocities tend to occur on the irregular troop side.)

4) Conventional forces have better firepower.

5) It is in the interest of conventional force to have greater amounts of combat. The more combat, the better. The difficulty is in bringing the irregular troops to battle.

6) Typical strategy of ‘insurgent’ side is to outlast the enemy. Get them to quit. Because they can’t stand up in a straight fight, ‘insurgents’ tend to attempt to gain local advantages and bite off small bits of the conventional army. (Small battles)

Friday, January 18, 2008

Terrorist’s son wants truce

One of Osama Bin Lauden’s sons is saying that he may be able to help bridge the gap between Islam and the ‘West’. He may be able to help negotiate some type of truce. Sounds like another ‘peace’ initiative between Israel and the Palestinians. We all know how well these are working out.

Islam is very specific about honoring truces. Many of the basic issues that are the root cause of the Civil War taking place within Islam are being ignored in all of this discussion. Truces do not resolve these problems. This war on terror is a classic guerrilla war. It is in the interest of the conventional side to initiate combat. They can withstand the losses easier; they have the firepower to make it unprofitable to engage in additional combat. It is in the guerrilla’s interests to keep the war slow, and let them pick the fights. Truces help those who resources are stretched more than those who are not pressed so hard.

I keep hearing about how our military is ‘stretched’ to the breaking point. I find this difficult to believe, even with an all volunteer army. This war is small in relation to so many others that we have fought. The enemy we face in Afghanistan, Iraq and other Islam related conflicts is not as well equipped as our army. The match-up does not favor them. Allowing for truces while we are successfully engaging them in combat is a major mistake.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Fight terrorism, use the first rule of warfare:

During World War II, the leader of the German U-boat fleet was Karl Doenitz. At one point during the war, he forecast heavier losses. Winston Churchill took this as an indicator that he was going to re-deploy his U-boats from the Mid-Atlantic into the North Atlantic. Churchill ordered his navy to beef up escorts for convoys crossing to and from North America. This move ended up being correct, and although the U-boats scored some successes, they paid for all the success by losing more boats than they otherwise would have.

The point here is that Winston Churchill was listening to his enemy. He called this a ‘tip from the horses mouth." He was following the first rule of warfare:


The reason that I am discussing Islam so much in my posting is that if you listen to what the terrorists say, you will find many references to Islam. The concept of Jihad is very prominent in much of what they are saying. Understanding the terrorist mentality and motivations will only help all of us understand what needs to be done in order to defeat them.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

terrorism blog

Please note the terrorism blog I have supplied as a link at the top of this blog. This is a good source for additional information. Please note the article dated January 14 about prisons and how converts to Islam can become a very dangerous source of new enemies.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Civil war

A civil war is taking place within Islam. The presence of the United States in Iraq and Afghanistan is acting as a catalyst. It can be argued both ways that our presence is positive or negative. (Probably both, to some degree) The overall point is that the Islamic civil war is HUDGE. The Muslim population is over 1 billion people. By comparison, the population of all the major combatants during World War II was about 1 billion. The issues within the Islamic Civil War (Among many others) that are being fought over:

1) The penalty for leaving Islam is death. (An Apostate) (Fighting qualifies for Jihad.)

2) The worldwide obligation to kill ‘occupiers’ of Muslim land. (Fighting infidels also qualifies for Jihad)

3) The Islamic electoral policy of ‘One man (Men only) one vote, once’.

4) The common interpretation of ‘Jihad’. Bernard Lewis: "For most of the fourteen centuries of Islamic history, Jihad has been most commonly interpreted to mean armed struggle for the advancement or defense of Muslim power." Individuals who fight in the Jihad qualify for booty. This means that property can be seized. Throughout history, this issue has helped trigger countless wars. These issues can also be seen as being contributors to the causes of the constant Arab-Israeli wars.

The cultural changes going on in the Palestinian areas can be seen as being indirectly connected to the war in Iraq. The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are speeding up cultural changes throughout the Islamic world, yet the war is still relatively small. It amazes me how small the amount of fighting is when compared to the number of people impacted. Compared to most of the modern wars that the United States has engaged in, the war in Iraq is a small one. Vietnam and Korea by comparison were much larger affairs. Yet the populations involved were miniscule in comparison to the war today. So far, this is a classic guerrilla war on a global scale. The largest concern is that this war can easily become a much, much larger war if not handled well.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Iraq to Afghanistan

The desert is the 2nd best surface on the planet Earth for the U.S. military to engage in battle on. The desert has been called a quartermaster’s nightmare and a tactician’s dream. This is because in order to support any sizable force in the desert requires heavy mechanization. The desert is hard on equipment. However, no features can block movement or line of sight. Mobile forces are free to maneuver at will. The differences between heat and cold allow thermal imaging and other ‘high tech’ devices an ideal environment to work in. There are very few (If any) places to hide and slip away, avoiding death or capture. A human being can survive for something like 30 days without eating. A human can only last up to 3-4 days without water. If the United States must fight a war, Iraq is one of the best places on Earth for us. This is why the war has moved into the cities. This is the opposite from Vietnam because we controlled the towns and cities where the VC and NVA controlled and contested the countryside.

I have been hearing the idea that the United States should withdraw from Iraq and re-deploy at least some additional troops into Afghanistan. While additional troops may be required in Afghanistan, withdrawal from Iraq into Afghanistan does not make military sense. Mountain terrain is the WORSE surface for the U.S. military to fight on. We would be re-deploying from some of the best terrain in the world to THE worst. Among many things, Afghanistan and Iraq are serving to draw people into action whom are willing to assume risk in order to directly or indirectly help to kill American soldiers. To stop engaging them in the area where we would dominate and seek to fight them where they are at a much more even level is foolhardy. They must attack us in Iraq. They cannot allow us to succeed. We are encouraging them to attack our army. This is a good match-up for us. The logic against this is that by our presence, we are creating new enemies. This overlooks the factor that ALL wars create new enemies. The U.S. had one hell of a lot more enemies on December 10, 1941 than we did on December 6th. (Germany declared war on the U.S. on December 9th) Besides, we really do not know how many terrorists exist now and how many existed before. How can we be certain that all of these ‘new’ enemies are not ones that are being forced or encouraged to go public? Just because we see many enemies today does not necessarily mean that they are ‘new’. One of the largest problems in the fight against terrorism is in knowing who they are and who supports them. Taking action does not necessarily mean going into Iraq and carrying a rifle. By taking action, you run the risk of revealing yourself. Is it not to our advantage to know more accurately who they are and how many we actually face?

Another way to look at it: Have you changed your mind about which side you feel is more ‘right’ concerning the Palestinian – Israeli situation? This issue is also similar to the debate over abortion. Everyone has a view, and very little change of sides occurs. I have not changed my mind regarding either issue since before 1973. Can we really expect anyone else to have changed his or her mind? We pride ourselves in being open-minded. Don’t forget that our culture is much more prone to changing views than most. Particularly regarding the culture prevalent throughout the Middle East.

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Iran challenge of U.S. Navy

Iran’s recent challenge of the U.S. Navy can not be seen as a serious effort, other than possibly to offer the idea that in the event of war, Iran may be able to close the straight of Hormuz for a period of time. While closing the straight is an important consideration, the challenge of Iran to the U.S. Navy is a very small one. Why do I say this? Because the best surface on Earth for the U.S. military to fight on is over water. It requires warships to control the surface. It requires submarines, torpedoes and mines to fight under it and it also requires aircraft and missiles to fight above. All aspects are high tech and heavy on quality of equipment. I am leaving out the land aspect of any war with Iran at this time. The limit placed upon this discussion is a naval battle. This is leaving out any war of conquest or any punitive expeditions.

Closing the straight of Hormuz would be an economic blow to the world. Something like 40% of the world’s oil passes through that straight. However, it would not be decisive. Situations like this have occurred in the past. One example is that in 1942, Japan overran most of the rubber producing areas. We developed alternatives, which reduced our reliance upon rubber. This is not a quality comparison because oil is far more important today than rubber was in 1942. However, the industry of the rest of the world through the global economy would reduce the overall effect of any disruption in the straight of Hormuz by a significant amount. The effect would be delayed and very serious. Hardship would result. However, it would not be catastrophic. Any sunken ships would be eventually removed. Unless nuclear weapons were involved.

One line of thought is that once Iran has the bomb, they will no longer have to resort to these types of confrontations. Another thought is that when they get the bomb, they just may think like some of the suicide attackers and not become very hesitant to deploy.

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Outdated equipment used by armies

We used to hear arguments about how our United States forces are not properly equipped in Iraq. One example is that the Humvees were not armored enough. This is an old issue and a far older problem. It is not uncommon for military forces to be equipped with outdated equipment. At the beginning of direct U.S. involvement in World War II, our forces were equipped with plenty of left over World War I weapons. The Korean War was also fought with left over equipment from World War II. In less well-equipped armies, the situation is far more pronounced. Some other examples:

The horse was obsolete during World War II. Yet the United States and Great Britain were the only 100% mechanized armies in the world. The German army was more than 60% horse driven and they kicked a lot of people around for years. (They even got us and the English a few times) The horse was obsolete at the time. However, it was useful. Part of the reason Sixth Army held out for so long during the winter at Stalingrad was because they ate the horses. This saved the rest of the army that could have been trapped if Stalingrad did not hold out so long. This disaster could have been even greater in scope than the loss already endured.

American aircraft carrier flight decks were built with wood in World War II. This allowed for them to be easily repaired when damaged. Wood is less slick than steel, so working on the deck is less dangerous. Ships with wooden decks could operate far more aircraft. (Which is the ship’s first line of defense) The downside to this is the fact that when hit, the wooden decks offered far less effective resistance to damage and injury to the crew. We lost a lot more men than we would have if the decks had been armored.

These are just some examples of a problem that has been around since the dawn of time. As pointed out in a prior post, balance is part of the issue. Expense is another part. After all, military equipment has always been VERY expensive. And for the most part, useless. Unless a war occurs. Then the modern equipment is priceless. Another part of the problem is foresight. Who could have guessed that the Sherman tank would have been so outgunned by the better-armored Tiger and Panther tanks in 1944? Armchair quarterbacks have been around since the dawn of time when referring to military equipment and battles.

Sunday, January 6, 2008

Heavy versus light/fast.

Throughout history the balance between heavy armor and light but fast movement has been instrumental in determining the victors in many battles. Some modern examples:
In the early 20th century, the argument was made that speed is armor when designing warships. The HMS Hood was an example. Battleship sized guns were placed on a ship with cruiser armor. Because a cruiser did not have as much armor, this enabled the ship to have a much higher turn of speed. As you probably know, when the Hood ran into the German battleship Bismarck, the heavier armored ship literally blew the battlecruiser out of the water. Another example was the Soviet T34.

On June 22, 1941 Germany invaded the Soviet Union. The main battle tank for the German army at that time was the Panzer III. What the Germans did not know was that the Soviets had developed the most advanced tank in the world, the T34. The T34 was heavier, carried a much larger weapon, and had better range. The T34 was actually faster in adverse conditions because of its much wider tracks. It did not become stuck as easily. The Germans built the Tiger tank to fight the T34. As you also probably already know, the Tiger was the heaviest tank in the world when it arrived on the battlefield. This did not translate into the same type of success as with the T34. The Tiger had limited range (Its fuel economy was low) it was slow and prone to breaking down. True, it was a tough tank to destroy in battle. This was also offset because it was difficult and expensive to build. In other words, they could not make nearly as many. The German Panther tank was also developed to fight the T34. This tank was lighter than the Tiger and carried a smaller main gun. This was offset by the fact that it was much faster, had much better range, was easier to tow away, was also easier and less expensive to build. Production of the Panther began almost a full year after the Tiger, yet more than 4 times as many were built before the end of the war. Even though the Panther was lighter than the Tiger tank, it was almost as difficult to destroy in battle.

The overall point is that as a general rule, balance is key. (As in so many other aspects in life) This is one area where I personally had disagreement with former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld. Future wars may demand a lighter, more agile force. It is almost a certainty that some type of heavy weapon system(s) will be useful, if not a vital part of those wars.

Thursday, January 3, 2008

Vietnam withdrawal

Many similarities exist between Vietnam and today’s war in Iraq. Even though every war is different in some major way(s), review of the United States withdrawal from Vietnam may provide some insight.

The treaty signed in January 1973 enabled the U.S. to fully withdraw its combat troops. By April 1973 the withdrawal was for the most part, completed. The war continued without the United States. In April 1975, the North Vietnamese Army attacked and took Saigon. We evacuated our embassy staff. Many people were imprisoned and/or killed during the months that followed. The point of view from the United States was, this is where it ended. The government of South Vietnam was gone. Once united, Vietnam left us alone.

A significant percentage of the population of the United States today is in favor of withdrawal from Iraq. Even an accelerated withdrawal would take at least a few months. How long do you believe the Iraqi government would last? If we use Vietnam as a guide (Possibly not an accurate indicator) Baghdad would last around two years. Once again, if we use Vietnam as a guide, many people would be killed over the next few months. After that, the new government of Iraq would leave the United States alone. If you believe this is likely, then it makes sense to agree with the idea that withdrawal from Iraq is a sound move.

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Israeli settlements

The election of Abraham Lincoln triggered the beginning of the U.S. Civil War. A contributing reason was because Lincoln would not allow slavery to expand. The supporters of slavery knew their days were numbered. If slavery were not allowed to expand, the support of slavery would become weaker and weaker as time passed.
Today, a key demand in the Israeli – Palestinian problem is Israeli settlements. No new settlements are demanded by Palestinian politicians. It could be that they want Israel to stop expanding so that their days will then be numbered. Another potential influencing factor: The occupation of Muslim land triggers a worldwide obligation to kill occupiers. The penalty for leaving Islam is death. Not only can you not convert to another religion; Muslim land cannot revert back to being non-Muslim. These factors can be seen as not only basic contributing causes for the constant Arab-Israeli wars, but an important factor in the violent response to Israeli expansion.