Helprin excoriates Bush, proposes new strategy

Mark Helprin has a blistering column at Opinion Journal excoriating both the Bush administration for its weakening of the military and its feckless policy in Iraq, and the Democrats for their lack of any policy except surrender. He urges that we abandon nation-building, set up a strong man, withdraw from Iraq as soon as possible, and retire to permanent military bases in Saudia Arabia (with or without the Saudis’ permission) from which we could police the Mideast. Our purpose would not be the political reconstruction of Moslem countries (which he says we are incapable of doing), but the maintenance of a continued presence and threat of force that would encourage the existing regimes to behave themselves and suppress any elements dangerous to ourselves. As Helprin points out, it’s far easier and more effective to threaten an existing Arab regime with destruction if it steps out of line, than to try to control an entire Arab country ourselves.

With the exception of the permanent U.S. bases in Saudi Arabia, Helprin’s proposal is in its essentials the same as the Andrew Bacevich approach I approvingly discussed here in February 2003. However, the notion of handing Iraq over to a Western-leaning strong man has received some thoughtful criticism from the Washington Post. The Post argues in an editorial that any strongman, who would be probably seen as representing only one of Iraq’s ethnic communities, would not be able to hold the country together, and it would dissolve in civil war in which neighboring countries might gobble the country up as Syria did Lebanon. The only way to have any chance of an Iraqi government that will be acceptable to all the Iraqi people is through elections. Thus, the Post argues, the “utopian” option of democracy is also the most realistic option as well.

Posted by Lawrence Auster at May 18, 2004 05:35 PM | Send


Elections would probably just mean a Shiite strong man. I doubt that elections would make a leader acceptable to whichever Iraqis lost the election.
Partition is probably the only realistic option.
Also, if we have to have bases in the Middle East, I would think that Qatar or Kuwait (or both) would be better than Saudi Arabia. Or perhaps in an independent Kurdistan.

Posted by: Michael Jose on May 18, 2004 5:54 PM

Well, under that transitional plan leading to a constitution, the idea is that there would be an elected National Assembly representing all the people and communities of Iraq, and that this Assembly would then elect an executive. It sounds nice, or it would sound nice if there were the elements of an existing national community in Iraq with the a workable common loyalty and political identity. But is there? The country was a province of the Turks, then under the British, then under a king, then under various thugs and despots culminating in Hussein. Has it ever demonstrated a principle of unity within itself?

Since I post so many items about Iraq, it may seem that I’m really interested in it. The fact is, I emphasize it because it’s important and we have to solve this mess that we’re in. But I hate every minute of it, I hate everything about it. I hate the fact that we’re involved in an Arab country, I hate the fact that our forces are there month after month getting killed and maimed. I hate the fact that it is distracting us from our own urgent problems. I hate the fact that it has unleashed so much political bigotry and irrationality in this country and so much hatred of America abroad. I said before the war that I hated everything about it, that I wished it wasn’t happening, but that it was necessary, and so there was no choice in the matter. And that’s still the situation now.

Posted by: Lawrence Auster on May 18, 2004 6:12 PM

It’s like we’ve got a tiger by the tail and can’t let it go. And it distracts attention from the downward slide of our nation right within our border. The establishment of a new Sodom in a state founded by Pilgrims and Puritans. The growing influence of a foreign government over our immigration policy. An out of control federal judiciary with little respect for our legal tradition. And, to top it off, two members of the Skull and Bones club running for president. And yet, we can’t avert our eyes from Iraq, that’s for sure.

Posted by: Allan Wall on May 18, 2004 8:50 PM

I too have been advocating we maintain a base in the Middle East permanently whether or not the Arab county consents. Of course we would pay “rent.” I have been advocating we remain in the highly defensible portions of Iraq since we are already there. Saudi Arabia might indeed be a better idea considering it has a huge coastline from which we can resupply without flying over other Arab countries. Also, there is nothing like a kill zone stretching hundreds of miles across empty desert. We would have no threat from guerillas or suicide bombers. I am unqualified to pick the country and the terrain, but we absolutely must maintain a forward defense.

President Bush is 100% correct in taking the fight to the enemy in their countries instead of our country. Hopefully, if Kerry keeps talking sense about being bold, he just might trounce Bush in the election.

Posted by: P Murgos on May 18, 2004 10:04 PM

I respectfully disagree with Mr. Murgos about having a base in Saudi Arabia. I am assuming the “kill zone” he is describing is somewhere in Iraq, not in Saudi Arabia. I have been involved recently with considering doing some business in Saudi Arabia. I have found, beyong the serious warnings from our Embassy there and our State Dept. that not only are Americans is peril there outside their “compounds” (from Al Qaida), but we are also in peril WITHIN those compounds. There is mostly lawlessness in large portions of that country. The Saudi Royal Family lives in Switzerland, for gosh sakes! They can’t even protect themselves and their own troops have been hijacked (Saudi security forces gave Al Qaida important inside info on the Riyhad compound prior to the terror bombings). I decided it was too risky doing business there. And, I would not want our troops in Saudi Arabia, Yemen or any other unfriendly Arab country. Jordan? Qatar? Perhaps.

Posted by: David Levin on May 19, 2004 12:11 AM

I gather Helprin’s Saudi base (thought it’s hard to tell, since Helprin is not a precise writer) would not be in a populated area, but off by itself, with its back to the sea, so that it would be independent of Saudi society and would not be interfering with it.

Posted by: Lawrence Auster on May 19, 2004 12:21 AM

Sounds familiar. Guantanamo II, anyone?

Posted by: Reg Cæsar on May 19, 2004 12:25 AM

Well, considering the various unattractive or utopian or very difficult options I’ve thought about for eliminating or managing the threat that radical Islam poses to us (i.e., democratize the Moslem world, crush the Moslem world, isolate the Moslem world), having Guantanamo-type bases there to maintain indirect control (without actually being involved in their affairs) sounds like a reasonable option and something worth thinking about, either by itself, or, preferably, in conjunction with excluding them from the West.

Posted by: Lawrence Auster on May 19, 2004 12:32 AM

Before Mr Auster and Mr. Cæsar start drawing plans for a Guantanamo 2, they should consider how much original Guantanamo constrained Cubans in 1960 - 1990 period. Like not at all.

Posted by: Mik on May 19, 2004 1:24 AM

Well, what _is_ the strategic purpose of the Guantanamo base?

Whatever it was, it was not to stop Moslem regimes from exporting terrorism. Was it to stop Castro from exporting Communism? Did it have any success?

Posted by: Lawrence Auster on May 19, 2004 1:26 AM

Auster writes:

“the Post argues, the “utopian” option of democracy is also the most realistic option as well.”

Apparently most Iraqis understand democracy as a right of most numerous group (Shia) to do as they please with minorities. Iraq is a classic situation of one man, one vote, once.

But I don’t share pessimism of Mr. Jose. Partition would the best solution in an ideal world and I would guess that in 50 years Kurds will manage to split off. However in the real world Turks will not allow de jure independent Kurdistan, otherwise Turkish Kurds will agitate for the split also.

Federational structure, somewhat more sophisticated version of Afganistan warlords federation, should be more acceptable. Appoint a strong man for the Sunnies, let Shia “vote” (means clerics will decide) for their leader and Kurds already have their own legitimate leaders. Three leaders will be co-presidents of Iraq, with no powers outside their own domains.

Posted by: Mik on May 19, 2004 1:44 AM

Whatever purpose of Guantanomo was, it did not prevent Castro from running all over Africa and making troubles here and there in Latin America. If Castro felt any constrains, very little of it was due to Guantanomo.

Posted by: Mik on May 19, 2004 1:48 AM

Ok, then Guantanamo is obviously not the model for what we’re talking about here. This is part of a forward directed, pre-emptive strategy. If bad actors start to get too powerful in one regime or another, we have credible threat of force at our disposal that will make any leader hesitate to cross us. But we’re not located in a place in contact with a local society, we’re not getting involved in anyone’s internal politics. We have this base as a way of maintaining our freedom of action in the region. At least that would be better than the N. Podhoretz strategy of taking over and transforming every country in the Mideast. And it’s better than cutting and running until the next crisis draws us back in again.

Posted by: Lawrence Auster on May 19, 2004 1:58 AM

Mark Helprin is drawing plans for Gtmo II, not me. The base serves not the Truman Doctrine, but the Monroe. It’s a relic of the Spanish-American War and a 1903 treaty. According to the World Book installed in my iMac, this “can be canceled only by mutual agreement or by voluntary U.S. withdrawal.”

I spent a few weeks there in the late 1970s, while working for, of all people, Neil Goldschmidt, who’s back in the news these days. It’s the perfect place to go to write a book. Pleasant enough, but other than hurricane preparation and some of the world’s best snorkeling, there isn’t a blessed thing there to distract you. Unless Jamaican barbers playing cricket is your thing.

Posted by: Reg Cæsar on May 19, 2004 2:01 AM

I have mixed feelings about Helprin article. Some points are convincing, others less so. One point I really have problems with:

“Were the U.S. to devote the same percentage of its GNP to defense as it did during the peacetime years of the last half-century, and the military budget return to this unremarkable level, we would be spending (apart from the purely operational costs of the war) almost twice what we are spending now.”

To simplify a little, USA spends more money on defense than the rest of the world combined. And yet, neocons and Helprin (is he a neocon?) think it is not enough. A question I have is why we have to spend more than all our allies and all our adversaries combined? What value the American taxpayer gets from all that tremendous spending? I can see value Canada gets (no defense budget for all practical reasons), Europe (most defense budget goes to pensions) and Far East get.

Far East and Europe don’t pay too much in risk premiums for oil deliveries because generous Uncle Sam has its Navy patrolling sea lines.

IBM and Oracle feel secure in laying-off thousands of Americans and hiring tens of thousands of Indians and Chinese and investing Billions there because US Navy and Air Force make it unlikely that Indians will just nationalize American properties. But why I, as a taxpayer, should pay for the risk reduction in IBM business?

Macao is a Chinese Las Vegas, except that untill very recently only one tycoon could have casinos there. China opened up Macao for others. Some say it is the best biz opportunity in the world today. Sands and Wynn Resorts are investing Billions there, possibility of losing it all to nationalization is very small, thanks to US Marines.

Most companies mentioned have international stock ownership. They stockholders are benefiting curtesy of US taxpayer. US benefits also of course, together with all other free riders.

Why neocons (and may be others) think it is perfectly fair that US taxpayer pays for the defense of the free world and the free trade, pays 80-90% of all medical research, etc.?

Conservatives supposed to be against any type of welfare,including corporate and, presumably, international welfare. Does it really make sense to subsidize countries that are richer (GDP per capita), sometimes significantly, than we are?

Do they think most people are not able to figure that out?

Posted by: Mik on May 19, 2004 2:24 AM

Mr. Auster writes:

“that would be better than the N. Podhoretz strategy of taking over and transforming every country in the Mideast. And it’s better than cutting and running until the next crisis draws us back in again. “

I can think of a more appropriate term than strategy to describe Podhoretz wild dreams.
But reality has a way to intrude, doesn’t it? I will bet Iraq will be the last nation building project before, oh, I don’t know, 2020?

Posted by: Mik on May 19, 2004 2:35 AM

Slightly, Ok not so slightly, OT. Pipes has an interesting article on immigration and security after 9/11. Quite a strong immigration limits position for a neocon (I presume Pipes is neocon?). It is essentially a summary of a 150 page white paper by a researcher at Nixon center:

Posted by: Mik on May 19, 2004 3:11 AM

About a year and a half ago, I posted on this Forum what the main result of occupying Iraq would be. Namely, that as much as the Iraqi population as possible would be coming to the United States. This will happen if Helprin’s strategy is implemented, unless we refuse to admit them. Anybody think that will happen? When we leave, the Iraqis who supported us will be on their way here.

Posted by: David on May 19, 2004 11:35 AM

Finally a voice of reality. David is absolutely on the money. Who heard of Somali’s in the US until we intervened there? The Vietnamese had no history of migration anywhere, until the frogs and US got involved.

Look at the number of Filipino’s in the US versus number of Indonesians. Indonesia is about 4 times larger, but there are very few Indonesians in the US compared to number of Filipinos. Why? Because we messed with their country. Let’s just leave all these people alone, for God’s sake. Maybe then they’ll leave us alone — or at least they would be minus one excuse for migrating.

Posted by: Mitchell Young on May 19, 2004 8:28 PM

I don’t see how this would happen as a result of Helprin’s strategy in particular since that means setting up a strong man to stabilize Iraq and then reducing our involvement as soon as possible. What could lead to an influx of refugees would be if our efforts there collapse disastrously, so that all the people that worked with the Coalition had to flee for their lives, as happened in South Vietnam. Which would seem to be a further incentive for us to get control of the situation in Iraq, rather than to abandon Iraq.

Posted by: Lawrence Auster on May 19, 2004 8:37 PM

It may surprise Mr. Auster that “refugees” from Vietnam are coming strong still. Immigration is almost independent from actual conditions at home, as long as those conditions are way below those in USA. Immigration depends on favors our alien loving elite gives out and immigration chains.

Immigration from Rwanda is virtually nill despite horrible massacre. Immigration from booming China and India is very strong. Jewish “refugees” are still coming from Russia where Jews are safer than in France and Belgium. They come because they can and economics of the move work for them.

Unless US gov makes an effort to contain Iraqi immigration, we are guaranteed to have a flood no matter what will happen there.

Posted by: Mik on May 19, 2004 11:30 PM

The history of American interventionism since 1898 completely bears out what David, Mr. Young and Mik say above. While there are many strains of current influx into America that are not directly linked to U.S. intervention (Chinese, Indian, Mexican (today, at any rate), Middle Easterners (not yet, but…), Russian Jewish) and previous strains that owed nothing to intervention (German, Irish, Italian, Jewish), a brief look at ethnic pockets (now full suits, I suppose) reveals the truth that a major consequence of U.S. interventions and geo-politics is a flood of natives of wherever we intervene that we are too stupid and soft-headed to prevent: Puerto Ricans, Filipinos, Koreans, Vietnamese/Hmong/Laotians/Cambodians, Cubans, Somalis…, with all the multicultural meltdown that results. There is every reason to expect that millions of Iraqis and Afghans will relocate to the United States in the next decade - as they already are to Great Britain. The terrorists among them will embed themselves freely in the Arab cities we have so foolishly allowed to grow here. That is true no matter how successful our occupations prove to be. Another minor immigration strain comes from the foreign wives (spouses, one must say now) of GIs stationed in our overseas outposts - another consequence of over-reach and entangling alliances. That source alone has brought many Koreans, Filipinos, Japanese, Germans, Englishwomen and who knows whom else to the United States.

The United States is not alone in suffering the invade ‘em/invite ‘em syndrome. Why is Great Britain overrun by West and East Indians? Why so many Maghreb Arabs and Berbers and now West Africans in France? Why Indonesians and Moluccans in The Netherlands? Why Libyans, Somalis and Abyssinians in Italy? Why can’t Westerners ever learn? Does anyone seriously believe that an administration as lax about nationhood and citizenship as this one has proved to be vis-à-vis Mexicans - to say nothing of anyone else - will act to prevent hordes of Middle Easterners following our troops home? HRS

Posted by: Howard Sutherland on May 20, 2004 10:01 AM

Mr. Sutherland’s analysis is correct as far as it goes. It further points to the necessity that, when we do have to get involved in a foreign war, we must approach the war with limited and defined, rather than universal and ideological, aims. I gather Mr. Sutherland supported the war on Afghanistan, despite his concern that it might result in Afghan immigrants coming to the U.S. Similarly, if we had had proof that Hussein was involved in 9/11, Mr. Sutherland, instead of opposing the war on Iraq, would have supported it, despite his concern that it might result in Iraqi immigrants coming to the U.S. So sometimes wars are necessary. The question is, how do we wage such a war, and occupy a defeated country, in such a way that we do not turn America into the metropole toward which the people of that country start to gravitate? This is a question that has be be addressed by political men. Simply saying, “we should never make war because it results in immigration” is not a serious or sustainable argument, because, as I said, there are wars that Mr. Sutherland himself would support.

Posted by: Lawrence Auster on May 20, 2004 10:14 AM

Mr. Auster wrote: “What could lead to an influx of refugees would be if our efforts there collapse disastrously, so that all the people that worked with the Coalition had to flee for their lives, as happened in South Vietnam.”

Given the rate at which people who work with the Coalition are being picked off right now, this is something that needs to be thought through before any possible withdrawal. The Washington Post surveyed the Iraqi press and counted 12 attacks on mid- to high-level appointed officials in the last 3 weeks, most of them successful.

Add to that the Iraq Center’s poll that claims 90% of Iraqis think the Coalition are “occupiers”. We know the word for local people who work with a foreign occupier and we know what typically happens to those people afterwards.

With the exception of the Fallujah Brigade, I wouldn’t give two cents for the chances of anyone who worked for the Coalition after we pull out. Taking care of the people who trusted us has to be part of the exit strategy. How many seats do we have to reserve on the evac helicopters to avoid a mob scene like Saigon 1975? Can we find an Arab country willing to take them in?

Posted by: Ken Hechtman on May 20, 2004 11:22 AM

I favored an alternative approach to the “war against terrorism” from the beginning, although I am certainly nobody significant in public discussion, unlike the prominent paleocons and neocons. In the interests of learning a little from recent mistakes, here is what I would have done as president:

1) Invade Afghanistan with massive force. By not holding back lots of force for Iraq, we would have accomplished more, faster. Perhaps even Osama bin laden would have been caught.

2) Don’t re-arm the regional warlords in Afghanistan. I was shocked when I read that we were not only permitting this, but actively sponsoring it, in order to enlist their help in the Pakistan border area. As it turns out, they let bin Laden slip through their fingers, and they contribute daily to the instability of Afghanistan and the lack of credibility of the Kabul government. This decision was a consequence of holding back massive force for the Iraq invasion.

3) Provide non-military assistance to dissidents in Iran IMMEDIATELY after 9/11/2001. Iran is a much more significant sponsor of terrorism than Iraq was. Provide some money, computers, communication equipment, fax machines, broadcast propaganda, etc., all as recommended by Michael Ledeen. Place State Department saboteurs of these plans before a firing squad. :-)

4) Use the massive force in Afghanistan to visible effect right up to the Iranian border, not just on the Pakistani border. This would help intimidate the mullahs in Iran and precipitate internal revolution.

5) Engage in massive law enforcement activities worldwide, in cooperation with our allies. Go after the terrorists, their bank accounts, etc.

6) Use special forces to train anti-terrorist forces within the military forces of all nations who have concerns about Muslim terrorists, as we are currently doing in the Sahel and the Philippines.

7) Provide assistance, military and otherwise, to the Kurdish pesh merga and join our airborne and special forces with them to wipe out the Ansar al-Islam terrorist camps in the northeast. Being that this was near the Iranian border, and there was support from Iran for these terrorists as well as complicity from Baghdad, this could also have ripple effects into Iran.

8) Take out Saddam and sons and any deck of cards members by targeted bombing, special forces assassinations, etc. Broadcast propaganda and warnings that what happened to the Taliban could well happen to any leader in Iraq who pursues WMD development or sponsorship of terrorism. Assassinate Abu Nidal, Abu Abbas, and any other terrorists whose location can be determined.

9) Embark on massive immigration reform. No more Saudi visa express, lots of background checking and tracking, much lower quotas from numerous countries, and numerous other reforms that we have discussed at length here.

10) Go after Muslim supporters of terrorism in the USA, close down their pseudo-charities, encourage them to leave, announce programs like the one that motivated Pakistanis to leave but do it for one country at a time (Yemen, Somalia, Saudi Arabia, Syria, etc.)

That ought to be good for starters. I think this list compares VERY favorably to what we actually did in respect to: (A) effectiveness (B) cost (C) political fallout.

The paleocons and paleolibertarians might have been totally negative, but there were positive plans that could have been made that did not include an outright invasion of Iraq, although there could have been some covert activity there, as indicated.

Posted by: Clark Coleman on May 20, 2004 11:39 AM

I am not as sure as Clark Coleman that it would have made sense to commit massive ground forces to Afghanistan, given Afghan xenophobia and the logistic problems alone. I DO find it incomprehensible that we have undertaken to support a central civilian regime AND have allowed the regional warlords to rearm at the same time. Afghanistan is so primitive that the rational course in this case, if not in others, was very definitely to pick a “strongman” - the most sensible and, hopefully, decent warlord, back him, and let him unify the country.

Posted by: Alan Levine on May 20, 2004 2:23 PM

I am a little surprised at the fuss Howard Sutherland makes over the bringing back of servicemen’s wives. At worst, this is an extremely minor contribution to immigration and assimilation problems.
By the way, it may be wrong to classify Filipinos and the way they are treated with other nationalities as Mr. Sutherland does. From things I have heard, the INS really does dislike Filipinos. Those who come here speak English, are Christians, and many are middle or solid working class. The INS and the immigration fanatics don’t really like seeing our country cluttered by that sort of trash!

Posted by: Alan Levine on May 20, 2004 2:28 PM

The fixation with picking strongmen in Iraq and now Afghanistan seems off the mark to me. What is needed is a coalition government combined with decentralization of power to a large extent. Both depend upon disarming regional warlords and their Iraqi counterparts.

The greatest failure of our Iraqi democratization efforts seems to escape notice: If you talk about “democracy”, then the Sunni and Kurdish minorities will be fearful of Shiite domination. If you talk about having a strong central government AND then try to not make it proportionately representative, then the Shiites will object that the Sunnis and Kurds can gang up on them in such a system, even though they are the majority.

As a result, all sides will fight us, depending on their perception of what kind of government we are trying to set up.

This assumption of a strong central government seems to be a modern American aberration. Either we set up a Swiss confederation with a small central government, or the country needs to be partitioned. At this point, the latter would be seen as failure, so I guess we need to try to do the former. We are more than a year late in starting such an effort, and we seem determined to do nothing of the kind, so I predict massive failure and violence.

Posted by: Clark Coleman on May 20, 2004 3:03 PM

I do not necessarily disagree with Clark Coleman about Iraq. I don’t even know why we committed ourselves to keeping it one country. I do not think that tactics appropriate in Afghanistan, an altogether more primitive society, are necessarily the ones right in Iraq, or vice versa.

Posted by: Alan Levine on May 20, 2004 3:10 PM

Mr. Levine,

I did not say that foreign GI-wives are necessarily a bad thing, although I suppose I implied it. While I have known wonderful service wives from abroad, I have a jaundiced view - as will be clear below. My point is that the phenomenon is yet another unforeseen consequence of spreading our forces all around the world in peacetime. There is no excuse, however, for not having foreseen it. Any Cold War rationale for huge U.S. establishments in Germany, the United Kingdom and Korea is long-gone. Ideally, most servicemen outside the United States at any given time (when we are not at war, of course) should be aboard ships of the fleet, not living abroad in huge permanent garrisons.

There are plenty of ladies in the United States who have abused our immigration system by first playing on the emotions of young and often very naïve GIs. If the INS is hostile to Filipinos (the agency’s hostility seems to have been entirely without effect, given how many Filipinos there are in the United States - I believe that in numbers of aliens settling here they are second only to Mexicans), it may owe something to the following.

This is how the Get-the-Filipina-to-The-Land-Of-The-Big-PX game worked while the Subic Bay Naval Station was open (I have observed the first part at Subic and the second in San Diego): Young (or not always so young) Filipina works as a “hostess” - a licensed prostitute, although it is a criminal offense to call one that - in a club in Olongapo City, just out the gate. The clubs existed entirely to entertain sailors and Marines passing through; those serving permanent change of station tours at Subic tended to avoid them once they figured them out.

“Hostess” (or a local national employee aboard the base) spots likely young sailor or Marine, typically someone who had a hard time getting dates Stateside, and lavishes more love, attention and sexual favors on him that he could ever have imagined. The mark falls in love. His commanding officer and the petty officers or NCOs who run his life warn him sternly about what is likely to happen, but they cannot order him not to get married. He does, and brings his unblushing bride Stateside.

Once safely in California (USN/USMC; I’m sure the same racket was working with airmen at Clark Field, which would take the phenomenon to USAF bases all over the country), his bride quickly figures out (if she did not know already) that back in the Land of the Big PX her knight is a nobody. In many cases, she determines to be rid of him, so begins divorce proceedings (plenty of San Diego shysters happy to help, and the usual claim is that husband beats her) - but she is in no hurry actually to get divorced. Doing that might jeopardize her green card, but even more important it would cost her her military dependent’s ID card, and with it access to that PX and Commissary and all their subsidized tax-free goodies. Somehow those divorce proceedings drag on for years…

Meanwhile, the estranged wife is looking to move on up. That indispensable dependant’s ID allows her on base, so she frequents the local officers’ clubs trolling for an officer - marrying one is a huge bump up in status, and she keeps that ID. In San Diego the usual officers’ clubs were Miramar Naval Air Station on Wednesday nights and the Marine Corps Recruit Depot on Fridays. The usual crowd at these weekly gatherings was a mix of officers and single women, with a very large contingent of Southeast Asians - mostly Filipinas who weren’t, technically speaking, single. While their success rate with officers in California was not nearly as high as with enlisted men in the Philippines, it was good enough to keep them at it. Bag an officer or not, none ever seemed to go home, and their sisters, mothers, cousins and aunts had a funny way of showing up in San Diego and never going home either.

It was a clever racket, and I’m sure it goes on in some form today. Until I went to the Philippines myself, I had a very high opinion of Filipinos. After being there, my opinion of their intelligence went up while my opinion of their national character went down. Call me cynical, but I know what I saw - repeatedly. HRS

Posted by: Howard Sutherland on May 20, 2004 3:25 PM

All I can say is that my own experience with Filipino immigrants in NYC has, luckily, been with hard-working and readily assimilating people — not the miserable parasites of the type Howard Sutherland has described. I myself have never visited the Philippines, and I bow to Mr. Sutherland’s experience. Other people have recounted to me the INS’ apparent delight in harassing assimilable English-speaking immigrants, not just Filipinos.

Posted by: Alan Levine on May 20, 2004 5:10 PM

Not that I am against “helping our friends in need”, but Ken Hechtman’s 11:22 AM post stating that “Taking care of the people who trusted us ahs to be a part of our exit strategy” makes me grimmace, because I hear Vietnam all over again. I can just see us flying back hundreds of thousands of pro-Coalition Iraqis to the U.S. for immediate citizenship!

Posted by: dj on May 20, 2004 11:00 PM

I know it’s unlikely - but if I were king, I’d ever so gently twist the Kuwaiti monarchy’s arm to accept any Iraqis who sided with us priot to our departure. What happend with the Hmong is particularly tragic. They have been ruined by being immersed in our culture. They would have been far better off living in Thailand.

Posted by: Carl on May 21, 2004 12:59 AM

dj writes:

“Ken Hechtman’s 11:22 AM post stating that “Taking care of the people who trusted us ahs to be a part of our exit strategy” makes me grimmace, because I hear Vietnam all over again. I can just see us flying back hundreds of thousands of pro-Coalition Iraqis to the U.S. for immediate citizenship!”

It is virtually quaranteed that some of those Iraqis will have American blood on their hands. Given efficiency and high quality of INS workers, Iraqis will have an easy time to buy a proper paperwork from Iraqi officials under CPA.

One can be sure that tens if not hundreds of future jihadis will move to the USA.

Posted by: Mik on May 21, 2004 8:57 PM

In an article entitled “The Ultimate War Simulation”, author David Wong, by way of giving suggestions for what would make for a more realistic and entertaining Real Time Strategy game, hilariously parodies war-strategy games, modern sensibilites, and the nature of modern war.

The most hilarious of his desires for an ultimate war strategy game are as follows (I have put asterisks in place of some of the crude words in the original):


5. I want that “Public Support” meter to rise and fall according to Troops Lost, Length of Conflict, Innocents Killed and Whether or Not There is Anything Else On TV That Week. I want to lose 200 Public Support points because, in a war where 8,000 units have been lost, one of my Mutalisks happened to be caught on video accidentally eating one clergyman. Then, later, my destruction of an entire enemy city goes unnoticed because the Nude Zero-Gravity Futureball championship went into overtime.

7. I want my Mission Objectives to change every 30 seconds, without anyone letting me know. I want little talking heads to pop up on my screen - commanders, politicians, allies, military intelligence - each giving me different sets of victory parameters, all of them conflicting and many of them written in b***s*** a**-covering doublespeak.
Pacify the insurgency with decisive force
while minimizing casualties to both sides as
not to stregthen the insurgency movement,
ensuring that no non-combatants are killed
and that all combatants posing as non-
combatants are eliminated with extreme
prejudice while winning popular support
among religious factons who believe your
very drawing of breath is a grievous sin
against their god.

Do not offend the sensibilities of the
locals who fear technology and believe women
should remain hooded and submissive to their
men. Assisting you in this mission will be
Tanya, who will be flying in on her jetpack.

17. In my Public Support display let me find out that the news media has run, in the same magazine, one story blasting us for going to war for minerals and another story blasting us for not acting on the continuing mineral shortage back home.

Read the whole article, which also has cool graphics, here:

Thanks to Chris Roach at:

Posted by: Joshua on May 23, 2004 3:28 PM
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