Thursday, September 21, 2006

The Civilized World

We would like to thank Islam for the yearly riots and tramplings in Mecca. Nothing does more to confirm our inherent superiority than watching millions of knuckleheads throwing pebbles then crushing each other getting away from a fire set when some goatherder from Wheretheflockistan kicks over a sterno can while trying to bbq some camel sphincters.

Monday, September 18, 2006

JAG Corps Ambitions

Let me tell you about my recent experience with the Marine JAG Corps. The “Marine Corps Lessons Learned” Program noticed that in the counter-IED and counter-insurgency fight, on-scene commanders in some cases have been losing the tactical advantage. According to some of the commanders, if squad leaders and fire-team leaders had the requisite questioning skills to exploit what is known as “capture shock” to elicit good actionable intelligence from the terrorists right at the point of capture, Marines could press the fight at the tactical level more effectively. When the CG Marine Corps Combat Development Command heard of these findings, he directed that we institute a “tactical questioning” course, and push it to the lowest levels.

So far so good. As a crash fix, we cobbled together some training based on questioning techniques used by counter-intelligence and human intelligence Marines, and made it happen, Stateside and in-theater. But, here is where the JAGs come in. As we convened a conference to devise “standards” for tactical questioning that would allow us to institutionalize and standardize tactical questioning training across the Marine Corps, the JAGs insisted on sending representatives to this effort. They were soon working to transform “tactical questioning” for intelligence purposes to “tactical evidence gathering.” They want to (this process is ongoing) include training to Lance Corporals and Corporals for evidence chain of custody, rights-sensitive questioning, and crime scene photography.

In the course of planning this conference, I asked one JAG, “what process is actually due a terrorist who is literally still on the battlefield?” He started to talk about how reciprocal treatment is the cornerstone of the Geneva conventions and how we need to safeguard Marines from claims in US and foreign courts based on ill treatments of detainees. So I asked him, if we are willing to allow terrorists the right-to-remain-silent that will effectively negate the moment of “capture shock” as having any tactical value, why should we not just train Marines to kill terrorists when we find them? There is no obligation under the GC to accept surrender, especially from unlawful combatants and since there is no chance to gain any intelligence from them, they are better off to us dead.

He fell back on the reciprocal treatment argument that is just ludicrous on its face. When in this conflict has any captured personnel be treated according to the GC? We are meticulously trying to adhere to a treaty to which the other party is not actually a signatory and who is clearly outside the protection the treaty is supposed to afford. It looks to me that the JAGs have made some kind of fetish out of “due process” that turns it into a universal human right inherent even in nihilistic, murderous terrorists who, ironically, consider us less than human. And, that this universal human right is something that only the JAG Corps is qualified to safeguard.

I am going to lose this battle. Tactical questioning training that should be a two day course focused on rolling up the bad guys and killing the ones we find, is going to bloat up into a massive 10 day evolution covering evidence collection, testifying in civil and JAG procedures, photography, sketching capture scenes and God knows what all else. I had not thought of the JAGs attempt to turn everything we do on the battlefield into an issue of law as some kind of growth strategy as Gertz’ and Scarborough’s source claims, but that is as good an explanation as any for their behavior.

Friday, September 08, 2006

Peters Slurs Patriots

Just heard Ralph Peters on the Laura Ingraham show. He is selling his newest book and he has written an article warning against right wing extremists who claim that Islam itself is un-reformable and must be defeated. Peter’s entire article is one long “but...” He catalogs a long list of his tough-guy bona fides, repeatedly asserting that he wants to kill bad guys, terrorists, extremists those who have hijacked a great faith. These bad guys are a “minority within a minority” who must be defeated while leaving the larger Islamic faith and those who practice it, intact. Peters says that the US military needs to buy time for the long overdue reformation of Islam. In Peters’ world, there are plenty of bad guys who need killing BUT Islam isn’t the problem. For Peters, the real problem is that some Christians look at the problems that adherents to Islam pose to the world and think the solution is to kill more than Peters thinks is prudent.

I have a pretty low opinion of Peters. I look at his as the columnist equivalent of James Webb. Peters thinks that he is smarter than his readers and worse, that anyone who is not as smart as him is morally deficient. His (and Webb’s) is the hubris of Custer; someone who knows better than others around him and who looks upon those who agree with him in kind but not degree as dangerous lunatics. Peters reminds me of the very worst kind of intelligence officer (which he once was), someone convinced he is right, and everyone else is too stupid or corrupt to see it as he does.

I have two problems with Peter’s thesis in the article. One problem is that Peters think that it is the fault of Christians who look at the atrocities committed by Moslem evildoers screaming “god is great” for thinking Islam is not compatible with civilized behavior. Rational people expect that when atrocities are committed by someone claiming to represent a larger group, actual representatives of that larger group will come out to publicly and repeatedly disclaim all connection with terrorism committed in their name. Where are the Islamic leaders? Where are the Imams, then business executives, the politicians, the sports figures, the entertainers? No where. Their silence condemns their entire faith.

Secondly, Peters makes the point that you can’t kill a billion Muslims so we had better find a way to accommodate them. Can you imagine Truman saying “you can’t kill all the Japanese, so we had better accommodate them?” No, certainly not. Truman, in contrast to Peters, had the benefits of clear thinking and courage. Truman realized that you could kill a large enough number of those who believed in the superiority and inevitability of the Japanese ideology, the remainder would realize the error of their beliefs, and change those beliefs. No, you can’t kill a billion Muslims, but you can kill enough of them, or make their lives miserable enough, that they realize that what they had believed is not working out so well, and it is time to change. Peters should stick to writing novels and computer games, and leave the slurring of Christians and other American patriots to the enemies of America like Islamic terrorists and Democrats.