The sound heard by two ZoNoters after LA beat Colorado 1-0 in overtime of the best-of-7 NHL first round "AHHHHRRRRRRRGHHHHHHH."
From the Halls of Fort Myer...
Last night I had the opportunity to attend a Marine Corps ground dinner at the O-Club at Ft. Myer. I was almost late for the dinner because my car was searched from fender to bumper and all points in between. BGen Mattis, the commander of Task Force 58 that established Camp Rhino, spoke to assembled Marine Corps and Navy brass and media to explain the successes of the Marine operation into Afghanistan.
Three things stick out prominently in my opinion:
A) -- Logistics is king. There is one thing American forces do that makes them so much more capable than their contemporaries or adversaries -- they can span any distance using existing resources. There are precious few countries on earth, in history, that have or had this kind of global reach. Ours, at the moment, exceeds all others. Operating at the edge of its envelope, the Marine contingent moved 400 miles inland and were successful in resupply. This ship-to-objective manuver was so ambitious that the operation ranks up there with Inchon and Guadalcanal in its importance. The real workhorses of the Afghan phase were CH-53E transport helos, C-130 cargo planes, and, oddly enough, P-3 antisubmarine warfare aircraft, who used their extensive suite of sensors to identify Taliban locations.
B) Interoperability. This was the most comprehensive joint/combined operation in the history of American warfare. All Services contributed to the overall victory, from Special Operations Forces troops, to coalition nation specialists, to Navy pilots, Marine infantry, to sailors, you name it, we had it.
C) Ingenuity. The TF58 staff was very small as these ops go. Those of you who study military decisionmaking are most likely familiar with the orient-observe-decide-act (OODA) loop that allows for large organizations to make cogent orders. Mattis told us at the dinner that there "was no" OODA loop, which was a good thing because all involved worked very hard to achieve the end result.
Overall, it was a very enlightening experience. The dinner's highlights also included an awards ceremony for the Marines of the Year for the 4 Marine divisions. T'was a pleasure seeing Marines get honored like that, even though it was weird setting up shop at an Army base. The good thing was that I live close to Ft. Myer, so I didn't have to worry about falling asleep in my car at the end of the night.
The Saudi Risk
The Saudi diplomatic manuevering of the past month or so was a buildup to the current summit at the TX White House in Crawford. Prince Abdullah manufactured a "peace plan" for the Israeli-PLO war to fulfill numerous objectives -- deflect attention from Saudi financing of radical Islamic theology and present a "moderate" package to an increasingly suspicious Washington. The Saudis are showing alot of chutzpah coming to their #1 military and commercial patron to demand things from the U.S. The entire SW Asian diplomatic framework is entrenched in a 1973 framework. Ohhh, we can't make the Arabs mad, or they'll take away our oil! Do you see any farms in the desert? Oil is a double-edged sword for the Saudis, as it is for the entire OPEC cartel. Beyond oil, these economies have nothing, may I stress, nothing to offer to the rest of the world. The Russians' willingness to up production could keep prices lower than they would be otherwise -- but an Arab move to cut off oil could backfire. As for basing rights, it's no coincidence that American command and control elements are moving to Qatar. Jack Kemp, courtesy of Sean Mullaney (B'00) gives us his thoughts on the crisis.
And When they came for us...
...they did nothing. The Vatican, judging by the tame nonresponse to the priestly excesses and abuses, has decided that it will avoid taking decisive action. So, the old men of the Church single the American clergy out for what is documented to be a global problem, slaps the wrists of the Cardinals, and then sends them home with nothing in the way of concrete action. All the while, the Pope John Paul II, the same Pope who faced down communism, will not move in a swift manner. The explosive revelations of Fr. Shanley's activity are nearly unmentionable -- but is precisely because it is nearly unmentionable that the Boston Globe is running frontpage stories nearly everyday.
The Baseball War
Here's an interesting one. Earlier this week Latin American partner Uruguay broke off diplomatic relations with Fidel Castro's regime in Cuba. That comes on the heels of the finger-pointing between Mexico and Cuba after Castro was "encouraged" to leave the UN's Monterrey development summit. When Fidel released audio tapes of conversations with Mexican President Vicente Fox, Fox's Foreign Minister George Castañeda forcefully replied. This is odd, especially because Castañeda is an unreconstructed leftist. This is the equivalent of Colin Powell calling Canadian PM Chretien a feckless thug.
"Dictators' power can flow from consent."