Monday, December 27, 2004

Rumsfeld in Iraq

The following is an e-mail from an American military doctor serving in Iraq (Capt. Dan Mattson) from Instapundit:

"It made my day, and I'm pretty certain it made theirs too. It's Christmas Eve, though it didn't feel like it. There are some good decorations in the hospital, but we had no Christmas music in the OR today, and no snow on the ground. No nativity scenes or festive cheer in this part of the world. Then, after a routine for here but hardly routine day in the OR, my day was made. I'm referring to the interaction I witnessed and helped facilitate between a young injured soldier and a high ranking official. Here is how it happened:

"I was reading at around noon when I told the anesthesiologist that 'the Donald' was in town on a surprise visit. No, not Donald Trump, but Donald Rumsfeld. He laughed cynically and said no way would he come here. Well, at around 1600 I was in the OR and I was told that Rumsfeld was downstairs, and we could go down there if we wanted to. I was not in a position to leave, obviously.

"Well, the timing worked out well, because I was taking my patient to the recovery room when we wheeled the stretcher through a mob of dignitaries, to include 3 and 4 star generals. I knew the Secretary was nearby, and it turns out he was in the ICU. The patient drew enough attention because of his bruised, banged up face that the 4 star came over to get his story from the surgeon. I was doing some charting by the bedside when Mr. Rumsfeld came over and heard the kid's story from the 4-star. Rumsfeld looked concerned and kind of kept his distance from the gruesome site. He said something like 'bless his heart', as if talking around him.

"That is when I, without any thought, piped in with 'Sir, you can talk to him, he's awake.' He told the soldier, named Rob, how proud he was of his service. The soldier was in a bit of disbelief, because he couldn't see with one eye patched and the other swollen shut. He said he wanted to talk to Rumsfeld. That's when I said 'He's standing right to your left, Rob, that's his voice you hear. You can talk to him.' The kid was nervous at that point, but sputtered out how honored he was to talk to him. Mr. Rumsfeld replied, 'No, it's an honor for me to talk to you.'

"Then remarkably, the young soldier, who had just lost his left hand and right eye from an explosion, came to the defense of the Secretary of Defense, stating 'Mr. Rumsfeld, I want you to know, that you are doing a fantastic job. I know that you are taking a lot of heat for the problems with getting armor for vehicles. I want you to know that things are vastly improved. Our vehicles are great, and I have never searched through junk piles for scrap metal.'

"At this point, Rumsfeld looked choked up, and I had a lump in my throat and and watery eyes. It was moving. What makes a man who has been so close to death, and maimed for life, come to the defense of the Army's highest ranking official? Loyalty, I dare say. Did Rob think Mr. Rumsfeld was having a self-esteem problem? In his greatest hour of need, his thoughts went to the emotional needs of another. I found it quite amazing, and moving. The Secretary took out a coin and gave it to a bystander for him, as if he didn't know he could touch him. Finally, the soldier said, 'Man, Donald Rumsfeld, I wish I could shake his hand.'

"Even at that, I felt Mr. Rumsfeld needed some prompting, so I picked up the kid's arm and looked at the Secretary, and he reached out and took the kid's hand. After the entourage left, I took the coin and placed it in the soldiers hand, for him to feel and hold. I said, 'that's not one you'll get every day.' He was happy. I told the person caring for him to make certain that coin went with him to his room. I was assured that he would. I told Rob it was an honor to care for him, and then went on to do my next case. I'd like to see him tomorrow, but I heard he is flying out tonight.

"I am grateful that I was placed in a position to help what could have been a mediocre interaction, fantastic. Judging by people's facial expressions, it was truly unique. Someone took a picture as this was happening, so once I get a hold of it, I'll send it along. "

Thursday, December 23, 2004

Questionable Question

A few weeks ago, Army Specialist Thomas Wilson asked Donald Rumsfeld pointedly why his unit did not have properly armored vehicles to take “up north” to Iraq with them. Since that point I have noticed a couple of things worth mentioning:

First, Chattanooga Times Free Press reporter Les Pitts bragged in an e-mail about his ‘journalistic’ cleverness on that day. He had heard that Rumsfeld would take questions only from military men, so he had a little conversation with Spc. Wilson and one other soldier, and asked him to think of “intelligent questions.” Les Pitts apparently had a conversation with the microphone-handler as well, to make sure the that the mic found the right troops for questioning.

Spc. Wilson now claims that he came up with this question all by himself, but this brings up another point: At the time that Wilson was asking his question, 800 of the 830 vehicles in Wilson’s regiment (the 278th Cavalry) had already been armored. A further 20 were in the process of being armored at that very moment and were completed within 24 hours. (So he could have asked the question like this: “Why are only 96.4% of our vehicles currently armored, and why will only 98.8% be armored by tomorrow?”)

Either he got the question from someone else, or just happened to think it up wrong. It’s too bad that the media isn’t jumping to help Rumsfeld out of the ditch they dug for him.

Wednesday, December 15, 2004

The All-Male Military

Today I will tackle the issue of women and the military (and why the two shouldn’t mix).

People who are in favor of women in combat contend that it is discrimination not to allow women to fight. They do not understand that the military does not, and has never, functioned in a “fair” manner. For some men military service is their privilege, for others it is their duty, for no one is it his right. The military is not a social experiment -- it exists solely for the purpose of killing people and blowing things up. Women compromise this mission.

First of all there is the question of strength (liberal readers: please do not be so obtuse as to suggest that strength is not necessary in the modern war -- ask a soldier). Fortunately we have some statistics provided by various militaries who have evaluated woman’s combat effectiveness.

The English ran a series of physical capability tests and discovered the following: First, in a test requiring soldiers to carry 90 pounds of shells over a measured distance, the male failure rate was 20%, the female failure rate was 70%. Next, in a 12.5 mile march with 60 pounds of equipment followed by target practice, the male failure rate was 17% in comparison with a female failure rate of 48%. In addition, as the Center for Military Readiness reports, “females were generally slower in simulated combat experiences involving lengthy ‘fire and move’ situations [and] in close-quarter battle tests, including hand-to-hand combat, women suffered much higher injury rates [these findings] are even more significant in view of the fact that test exercises had been so diluted…that they amounted to little more than ‘aggressive camping’…another source [reported] that women were not capable of a number of tasks under battlefield conditions, such as digging themselves into hard ground under fire.” In an unsuccessful attempt to skew the results in favor of women, the trials were made easier by, for example, removing heavy weapons from the trials.

Canada put one hundred volunteer women through regular army basic training. The failure rate was 99%. In America women were found to be incapable of throwing grenades far enough to avoid killing themselves.

The need for strength is not limited to combat assignments. Stephanie Gutmann reported in The Kinder, Gentler Military that women mechanics are often not physically capable of lifting their own toolboxes -- they have to get a man to carry it for them.

There is also the question of woman’s emotional ability to fight. As Stephanie Gutmann writes, women in the Army’s new training system often begin to cry when they have to descend from a rappelling tower, and some women are so panic-stricken that they cannot rappel at all. One can safely conclude that if women were as aggressive as men that today’s most aggressive professions, such as driving a racecar or playing ice-hockey, would contain nearly the same number of men and women.

One of the most obvious arguments is that if women were good at fighting, they would have been in the army from time’s beginning (unless you posit that women are just as strong as men, and yet men were somehow in a position to prevent women from serving).
I have heard many people say, “Well Israel has a great military -- and they let women fight.” In reality, while it is true that Israel has perhaps the best military in the world, women are not allowed to occupy combat positions. The Israeli Pal Mach tried letting women fight during the Independence War, and it was such a disaster that Israel has banned women from combat ever since. As one Israeli general explained, they cannot afford to experiment with women because they are a serious military.

So, you say, even though most women are too weak to fight, there are a few who can do the job and we should let them do it. The reason that this does not work is that you cannot have men and women living and fighting together. One of the most obvious problems is demonstrated by the modern Navy, in which an average of 10% of the female crew aboard a ship becomes pregnant and must be flown by helicopter back to dry land.

No one has argued that allowing women to fight would make the military more effective; it is fairly clear that it would do the opposite. Notwithstanding the practical case against women in combat, there is also the moral argument. Is chivalry so dead that men are willing to send women to go and fight for them?

Monday, December 06, 2004

A European Getting fed up with: Europe

I have noticed that many of my friends refuse to listen to an American’s perspective on Europe, so I thought it would be handy to have a European’s perspective on Europe. The following article appeared in Die Welt on the 20th of November. It was written by Matthias Döpfner, the Chief Executive of publisher Axel Springer AG and was translated by Hartmut Lau.

Europe – Thy Name is Cowardice
by Mathias Döpfner

A few days ago Henryk M. Broder wrote in Welt am Sonntag, "Europe – your family name is appeasement." It’s a phrase you can’t get out of your head because it’s so terribly true.Appeasement cost millions of Jews and non-Jews their lives as England and France, allies at the time, negotiated and hesitated too long before they noticed that Hitler had to be fought, not bound to agreements. Appeasement stabilized communism in the Soviet Union and East Germany in that part of Europe where inhuman, suppressive governments were glorified as the ideologically correct alternative to all other possibilities. Appeasement crippled Europe when genocide ran rampant in Kosovo and we Europeans debated and debated until the Americans came in and did our work for us. Rather than protecting democracy in the Middle East, European appeasement, camouflaged behind the fuzzy word "equidistance," now countenances suicide bombings in Israel by fundamentalist Palestinians. Appeasement generates a mentality that allows Europe to ignore 300,000 victims of Saddam’s torture and murder machinery and, motivated by the self-righteousness of the peace-movement, to issue bad grades to George Bush. A particularly grotesque form of appeasement is reacting to the escalating violence by Islamic fundamentalists in Holland and elsewhere by suggesting that we should really have a Muslim holiday in Germany.

What else has to happen before the European public and its political leadership get it? There is a sort of crusade underway, an especially perfidious crusade consisting of systematic attacks by fanatic Muslims, focused on civilians and directed against our free, open Western societies.

It is a conflict that will most likely last longer than the great military conflicts of the last century—a conflict conducted by an enemy that cannot be tamed by tolerance and accommodation but only spurred on by such gestures, which will be mistaken for signs of weakness.

Two recent American presidents had the courage needed for anti-appeasement: Reagan and Bush. Reagan ended the Cold War and Bush, supported only by the social democrat Blair acting on moral conviction, recognized the danger in the Islamic fight against democracy. His place in history will have to be evaluated after a number of years have passed.

In the meantime, Europe sits back with charismatic self-confidence in the multicultural corner instead of defending liberal society’s values and being an attractive center of power on the same playing field as the true great powers, America and China. On the contrary—we Europeans present ourselves, in contrast to the intolerant, as world champions in tolerance, which even [Germany's Interior Minister] Otto Schily justifiably criticizes. Why? Because we’re so moral? I fear it’s more because we’re so materialistic.

For his policies, Bush risks the fall of the dollar, huge amounts of additional national debt and a massive and persistent burden on the American economy—because everything is at stake.

While the alleged capitalistic robber barons in American know their priorities, we timidly defend our social welfare systems. Stay out of it! It could get expensive. We’d rather discuss the 35-hour workweek or our dental health plan coverage. Or listen to TV pastors preach about "reaching out to murderers." These days, Europe reminds me of an elderly aunt who hides her last pieces of jewelry with shaking hands when she notices a robber has broken into a neighbor’s house. Europe, thy name is cowardice.

Thursday, December 02, 2004

Getting Rid of God

Steven Williams is a fifth-grade teacher at Stevens Creek School who has been censored by principal Patricia Vidmar because he is a Christian. Vidmar forced Williams to submit all his lesson plans to her in advance for clearance, and any items containing references to God or Christianity were banned. Banned documents included the Declaration of Independence, and writings by George Washington, Samuel Adams, John Adams, and William Penn. Williams has filed suit, citing the obvious violation of his right to free speech. His lawyer Terry Thompson says:

“It's a fact of American history that our founders were religious men, and to hide this fact from young fifth-graders in the name of political correctness is outrageous and shameful.
Williams wants to teach his students the true history of our country. There is nothing in the Establishment Clause (of the U.S. Constitution) that prohibits a teacher from showing students the Declaration of Independence."

Liberals have been trying to get rid of religion for years, and have now reached a point where they can no longer ignore religion’s role in the foundation of this country. They have a choice: either they can keep this county’s founding principles and religion, or they can banish them both. Unfortunately for some libs, they’ve chosen the latter option, which exposes them.
Get a full story here.