Bill Quick noted recently that this is the 21st anniversary of the destruction by Israel of the nuclear reactor that Saddam Hussein planned to use to make Plutonium. Prime Minister Menachem Begin made the decision to act. Time was running out -- if the reactor went on-line, the risk of heavy radiation leakage would be too great.
The strike was made by 8 F-16's. (One ironic benefit of the Iranian Revolution was that F-16's ordered by the Shah of Iran were available for purchase by Israel in time for this strike.) It was the longest and trickiest combat mission of the IAF. The planes were several tons over maximum weight, and were topped off with fuel moments before take-off. They skirted south of Jordan, flew east across Arabia, then north to Baghdad. 16 2,000lb bombs pierced the reactor dome and exploded inside. Surprise was complete, and, despite massive anti-aircraft defenses, all pilots survived. This is a quote from a speech to the pilots by General Raphael Eitan just before the mission:
A hush fell over the briefing room. Everyone was aware they had lost a fellow pilot and he [ Eitan ] had lost a son just days ago. He began to speak."This is an important mission," he emphasized, "and a dangerous mission. I worry for your safety. If something happens, I want you to know that we'll do all we can to rescue you.
"Don't try to be some special kind of hero in the face of torture," said General Eitan. "Tell what you have to. We want you back with sane minds. We understand what you'll be going through.
"Your government and the people of this country are appreciative of your efforts and sacrifice. Your willingness to risk your lives, so we might live, will never be forgotten by Israel. "This is no ordinary mission," he continued. "Never before has the Israeli Air Force flown an attack to such a distant point—and for such an urgent need.
"Our history as a nation and as a people is at stake.
"You've all read the Bible. You know the history of our people. You know how God brought Moses and the Jewish people out of Egypt. You know the battles Joshua fought to gain entry to the promised land. You know about the just rule of King David and the wisdom of Solomon. You know about the dispersion to Babylon.
"We've kept our identity as a people. And now, nearly 2,000 years later, we are reunited as a nation.
"Our people have overcome the agony of the Holocaust. We've gone through a modern-day Exodus. We've survived wars in 1948, 1956, 1967, the War of Attrition in 1970 and the 1973 Yom Kippur War. And now we are faced with the greatest threat in the long history of Israel—annihilation and destruction of our country with atomic bombs by a madman terrorist who cares nothing for human life. We must not allow him to achieve the ability to build the bomb that could destroy us.
"That's what this mission this afternoon is all about. Protecting our country. The future of Israel rests on your skill and ability to destroy that nuclear reactor. You must be successful—or we as a people are doomed.
"This is a pivotal point in the history of Israel!" If we are to live by the sword, let us see that it's kept strong in hand rather than at our throat." The pilots were spellbound by General Eitan's brief but eloquent five-minute speech.
The general, realizing the impact his remarks had had on the young pilots, tried to break the tension by reaching into his pocket and pulling out a branch of dates—the most prevalent fruit of Iraq."Here, have some of these, you'll have to get used to them where you're going, if you get shot down."
Almost certainly every country not ruled by a psychopath was glad that the reactor was destroyed. However, every nation, including the United States, took the opportunity to suck-up to Arab dictators by denouncing Israel's action. Even the anti-nuke crowd had nothing good to say.
No matter what slippery politicians may say or do, there are a lot of us who are deeply grateful. Thank you, Israel! Because one dragon at least was killed, the war against terrorism is much less dangerous for all of us.
At the end of March, just before announcing she would never again speak in public, Margaret Thatcher capped off her remarkable career with the Times serialization of her new book Statecraft, sounding a note of vision and patriotism worthy of Washington's Farewell Address.
The European Union is "fundamentally unreformable," the former Prime Minister thundered from the page. Enoch Powell was right: Britain is quickly being subsumed into a socialist superstate, and soon the heritage of a millennium will irretrievably disappear into the continental quagmire.
Or, as this author has written on occasion, Europe, in trying to reinvent the USA, is actually recreating the USSR; and Britain better get out now...
...What Thatcher wants, and what many Britons thought the then-EEC would be when they joined it, is a European NAFTA: free trade without political institutions. But she knows it's too late for this. And so she proposes a truly revolutionary solution, that which Conrad Black (as well as this author) suggested almost four years ago.
She proposes that Britain join NAFTA itself.
It is a compelling notion. Sure, Britain must be part of a free-trade zone; but why must it be part of a trade zone which is not free? Why must the price of trade be the subordination of democratic government to the unelected bureaucracy of Brussels? Why must the Queen's profile no longer grace their currency (if not now, soon)? Why must trade involve political integration at all?...
But I am of the opinion that a centralized administration is fit only to enervate the nations in which it exists, by incessantly diminishing their local spirit. Although such an administration can bring together at a given moment, on a given point, all the disposable resources of a people, it injures the renewal of those resources. --Alexis de Tocqueville
KRUGMAN TRUTH SQUAD Introducing a new series, by a secret cabal of avenging economists!
In his column “The White Stuff” Paul Krugman returns to his familiar theme, “crony capitalism”, in which it’s assumed that any Bush Administration official with a business background is inherently conflicted in doing public service. In this case, Thomas White, the beleaguered secretary of the Army (a former general and Enron executive) is the businessman in Krugman’s gun sights.
However, Krugman is becoming quite adept at smearing people with little more than innuendos and third party rumors. He rarely leaves any evidentiary fingerprints–no facts that can be challenged later. In “The White Stuff” he slips up only once with a checkable fact, and, of course, gets it wrong. In his zeal to show the evils of having businessmen in the defense department he makes a ludicrous assertion. “Indeed, defense stocks have soared, partly because Wall Street analysts predict that profit margins on future contracts will be far higher than was considered appropriate in the past.”
Well, no kidding! Indeed they have soared. Let’s see now, analysts can predict defense industry profits will go up when there is greater demand for defense products as in, say, a war! Of course Krugman never mentions the war on terror as a factor in the price increases. The only relevant question to be asked on this issue is when did prices of defense stocks start to rise? Was it as of the dates the “cronies” were first appointed (sometime in the Spring of 2001), or after 9/11, when the war on terror began? The answer is too obvious to bother spelling out, but if anyone is especially curious they can call up a few defense company price charts, say Raytheon or General Dynamics, from an on-line broker and see for themselves.
It is hard to imagine where Krugman is going with this line of attack. The only further mileage would require him to join Congresswoman Cynthia McKinney (D-Ga.) who is calling for an investigation into whether President Bush and other government officials had advance notice of terrorist attacks on Sept. 11 but did nothing to prevent them. As she put it "persons close to this administration are poised to make huge profits off America's new war."
Now that’s crony capitalism–REAL big time. But will Krugman go there? We doubt it. However, he may find it hard to resist at least introducing the topic by way of a typical cowardly lead-in such as “It is said by some…..” or “One theory I have heard….”
Doughboys on a trench raid, with sacks of grenades
The United States in World War One #5
I'm not a war buff. I love history and devour many books, including many on war. But I could never be one of those people who make it a jolly hobby, or play board games. Frankly, I think they are insensitive blockheads. Combat is about the most ghastly thing one could have to endure
SO, I will not be telling you a lot of stories of glorious battles. No sentences like: 77th Division pushed forward with heavy losses. The reality behind those bland words is too intense. When you read something like that you might pause to consider some of the horrific details of those heavy losses, such as that men in combat are often wounded by flying bits of the bones and teeth of their buddies.
Still, I can't write about war and only deal in abstract issues. So, a little of the fight. You will recall that Yankee Division is manning the trench slums around Seicheprey. Germany really doesn't want America to get off to a good start. Shelling is intense. Repeated German raids dissolve into messy brawls at close quarters, sometimes lasting for days. (Trench raids were a wild sub-genre of war -- often fought with pistols, knives and gunny-sacks full of grenades. The object was prisoners, information, and sometimes just the dispelling of boredom.) The New Englanders repeatedly drive the Germans off. "How many Heinies you think came at us this morning, Sergeant?" "Oh, not too many. I'd say about three saloonfuls." The Yanks are new to this; they bury the dead Germans. Soon they will cease to bother.
On April 10, the Germans gave up on the raids and mounted a formal attack, with men moving behind a rolling barrage, and hitting the 104th Regiment. Through the night and the next day the fighting raged among the tangled trench lines, until the Germans retreat leaving 40 prisoners and many dead. But these are Landwehr, ordinary German soldiers.
The frustrated Germans are now bringing up Stosstruppen, Assault Troops or Strorm Troopers. (These Sturmbataillone are another interesting subject -- perhaps I'll write about them soon.) They will attack on April 20.
Trivia question: What was a dog robber? Answer to a previous trivia question: A trench donut is fried bread with sugar. It was hard to get food up to the front lines; almost anything tasted good to hungry men.