Friday, December 31, 2004

A US Navy Surgeon's Christmas Message

One day a while back I was standing around after church catching up with my friend Dr. J, a US Navy surgeon. The Fallujah attack was in progress and I asked him about his patients. I don't remember everything he said, but it was sad and inspirational, and left a lump in my throat. I've been looking for a way to share it but never found one until I read Dr. J's Christmas letter.

Quoting with permission:
I have had the honor of taking care of many wounded Marines and sailors over the past several months at the Naval Medical Center. Stories of bravery and loss, sacrifice and giving, they are young and some of them have devastating injuries. It is heart wrenching at times, but I never cease to be amazed at the faith, strength, and will of my patients. If you could meet them, I am sure it would inspire and give you hope, as it does me. It would give you the kind of hope only the true meaning of this season can bring, which is Emmanuel -- God is with us. Pray for peace.
As President Reagan was fond of quoting, "Where do we find such men?"

Strategy? What strategy?

Captain's Quarters has this post about the capture of 49 suspected terrorists near Tikrit, wondering if the earlier capture of Zarqawi affiliate Abu Marwan has anything to do with the operation.

The two events may not be connected, but the coincidence certainly appears provocative.
One thing about quality blogs that is almost completely missing from mainstream media is their ability to bring together sequences of events into coherent stories. To the legacy media, a war is no more than a series of "attacks," "clashes," and "violence." We rarely hear what either side hopes to accomplish with their operations and whether it is working. It is a terrible missed opportunity for the media to inform the public.

I can think of two likely reasons why this is so. First, the media is dominated by "moderates and liberals." In today's political environment, these people are much more likely to see the Iraq war as a series of senseless and pointless events, with no logical progression and no logical ending. To todays Left, America is no more legitimate than Saddam or al Qaeda. Armed conflict is just bullies bullying each other with no benefit or purpose. So there is no such thing as strategy, no such thing as a campaign, and there is no objective to be gained.

Another reason for the media's failure to cover strategic issues is perhaps they simply don't have the mental capacity to see those issues. Let's remember that our best and brightest rarely aspire to Journalism school. What mother dreams about, "My son, the reporter?" Many press reports are simply regurgitations of talking points and press releases anyway. There is very little original reporting or analysis. So it doesn't take a great deal of intelligence to be a successful reporter.

Fortunately, we now have the means to route around this lack of vision. The CQ post is just one example. Belmont Club frequently connects the dots, as do many others. As my profile says, "Life is good."

UPDATE: As if on cue, 2slick provides another fine example of what I'm talking about:

Heres a good question I get from time to time- "What went wrong with the plan for Iraq?"

It's a fair question, but I do think that people today lack a true understanding of the nature of war. There seems to be very little historical perspective these days. Everybody wants a "quick and dirty" smackdown followed by immediate withdrawal. "War is fine as long as nobody gets hurt." It just doesn't work like that- in fact, it's never worked like that.

In this case it's not so much connecting the dots of piecemeal media reports, but giving some clear historical perspective which flies in the face of conventional wisdom. Ten years ago, or even two years ago, we had no access to this kind of material. Excellent.

Thursday, December 30, 2004

The UN and the Tsunami

The Diplomad gives a first hand account of UN "effort" on tsunami relief:
I can tell you, dear readers, that I am temporarily working in one of the countries that got slammed hard by the tsunami and while the UN effort might be in high gear, it must have its parking brake on. No sign of that effort here! Lots of bureaucrats flying in and out, but that's about it.
The great thing about the Diplomad (and the Daily Demarche for that matter) is the how they effortlessly pierce the veil of diplomatic self aggrandizement. Clarity, facts, honest analysis. I don't know how these guys keep their sanity amongst all the BS, but I'm glad they do.

UPDATE: More here:
I provided this to some USAID colleagues working in Indonesia and their heads nearly exploded. The first paragraph is quite simply a lie. The UN is taking credit for things that hard-working, street savvy USAID folks have done. It was USAID working with their amazing network of local contacts who scrounged up trucks, drivers, and fuel; organized the convoy and sent it off to deliver critical supplies. A UN “air-freight handling centre” in Aceh? Bull! It's the Aussies and the Yanks who are running the air ops into Aceh. We have people working and sleeping on the tarmac in Aceh, surrounded by bugs, mud, stench and death, who every day bring in the US and Aussie C-130s and the US choppers; unload, load, send them off.


Arthur C. Clarke's status in Sri Lanka

Michelle Malkin reprints an email from Arthur C. Clarke in tsunami-ravaged Sri Lanka.

The impact on Clarke individually seems to have been some loss of property and shaken employees, but no physical harm. Interestingly, he lists what he considers to be worthwhile tsunami relief charities: Oxfam, CARE, and a local development charity called Sarvodaya. The Sarvodaya needed items page is here.

She also links to a lengthy profile published in 1999. Strange duck.

BTW, Little Green Footballs links to Digital Globe's QuickBird Images of Tsunami Sites.

Also: Here is an oft-linked page on to contribute to the Red Cross. They have over 100,000 contributions totalling over $7 million so far. Amazing.


One of the blogs I linked to earlier (the doctor's story from the Mosul suicide bombing) is being shutdown:

67TH COMBAT SUPPORT HOSPITAL DOCS: "I have some very unfortunate news. Levels above me have ordered, yes ORDERED, me to shut down this website. They cite that the information contained in these pages violates several Army Regulations. I certainly disagree with this. However, I have made a decision to turn off the site pending further investigation as to whether or not I have violated these Army Regulations."


The permalinks still seem to be up (for the moment).


Armor Geddon's Fallujah attack story

Neil Prakash is a John's Hopkins neuroscience grad, and a First Lieutenant in the Army. He is an Abrams tank commander serving in Iraq.

His blog, Armor Geddon, has an absolutely gripping series of posts about his role in the Fallujah attack. Here is a roundup of the posts so far. Get a nice cup of coffee, settle in, and read.
I'll add links as he posts more.

Firsthand accounts of the Mosul attack

This is the last of the previous emails.

Here are two firsthand reports from Mosul on the day of the suicide bombing. The first is from a chaplain, the second from a doctor. It is powerful stuff.

Both men report a mortar attack on the base hospital as the mass casualty operation is in progress, including a direct (though harmless) hit on the hospital building. I have not seen that fact reported in any media.

UPDATE: The first link is now broken. It's really too bad, because it was a very moving post. I have been able to find no contact information for Chaplain Lewis, the blogger, to ask him about it. Bummer.

Beretta = sissy, Colt 1911 = cool

Here's one I sent to my Dad and brother.

I think you guys will enjoy this post:

This is a blog by a conservative foreign service officer. It's very interesting. There's a lot to like in this post, but here is a sample:

Anyhow, late into the party, the Colonel, who had been knocking back scotch pretty heavily all evening, came up to a friend and me, fixed us with that patented stare and blurted out, "The American Army . . . it has become homosexual!" ... The Colonel literally threw down his drink, reached into his jacket, pulled out a Government Model .45 and waved it at us... "Look at how beautiful she is! This is a real gun, a gun for a man! A Colt 45! Not that sissy Beretta 9mm your Army is buying!"


If/when I figure out how to add a blogroll to my template, Diplomad will definitely be on it.

Iraq reading list

I'm going to go back to some emails I have previously sent out to various people.

Here is a link I sent to my friend Major D. He is in the Marine Corps reserves and headed to Iraq this spring.

Here's an article with bookrecommendations for you:

I'm sure you will be seeing some of these in the next couple of months!

Unfortunately, I don't remember where I saw the link originally, so I can't give due credit.

Sample Entry

Here's a sample entry.

I've decided to go ahead and post interesting links on a blog rather than send them out in emails. At this point, I think mostly my Dad and brothers might be interested, along with a couple of friends.

We'll see.


Carpe Bonum sells out!

Well not so much.

I've added an InTrade quoteboard advertisement to the Carpe Bonum template. I find the content of the quoteboard quite interesting in its own right. And if it results in some pennies to Carpe Bonum, then maybe Carpe Bonawife will let me get that hosting account I've always wanted.

At this moment (wee hours, Feb 26, 2005) it looks really crappy on Firefox, but on IE it's good. I'll try to fix it on Firefox, but later.

For those of you keeping track, I've updated the policy post to reflect the change.

Carpe Bonum policies

I created a little brewup over on BlogCritics by posting an anonymous interview with a young Bush Administration poliitcal appointee, whom I identified only as Mr. P. As a result, I decided I need to post a few policies for Carpe Bonum. In order not to clutter the main page, I have post-dated this entry to make it the first post of the blog. The actual date of the last edit is at the bottom.

And now, the policies:


For the time being, Carpe Bonum is published anonymously. As I posted once, I do identify myself in email. I don't on the blog because I'm not quite ready to be so easily found in Google or wherever. Some day probably, but not yet.


I am not being paid by anyone for any content I put on any blog, nor for any political consulting, nor for any advocacy. Everything I do related to blogging is personal and for free. Any proceeds from blogads on the site, will be to pay for hosting or other blog-related expenses, not for profit.


I may reprint the contents of blog-related email, but in general, I won't publicly identify the emailer except by first name. If the emailer is a blogger, I may identify the writer in the form of a link to his/her blog. If the emailer specifically requests to be identified, I may comply.

Note, this means that abusive emailers are immune to being publicly identified, but not immune to having their abuse reprinted and ridiculed.

Note also that this is the policy right now. Check back often if you dearly want to take advantage of this immunity, because I might change the policy later, if events warrant it.


Any blogger who demonstrates through manual action having actually noticed Carpe Bonum gets put on my blogroll. I dream of the day this becomes impossible to manage due to sheer volume.

Updated February 25, 2005, modified blogads language.