Patterico's Pontifications


How to Win in Anbar: An Idea with Proven Results

Filed under: General,Real Life,Terrorism,War — Patterico @ 9:18 pm

You want an idea about how we can win the war?

There’s one here. It’s a Power Point presentation . . . with stick figures. And it’s very powerful. (Via Allah.)

The creator of the presentation was Captain Travis Patriquin, who died with Maj. McClung. (I linked Michael Fumento earlier but will link the same post again here. He has more on Captain Patriquin in his post, and you should read it.)

I’ll let you in on a big part of the secret: cooperate with local sheiks who want to work with us.

Here’s the thing: it’s not just a good idea. It actually works.

For proof, I’m going to turn over the mike to Teflon Don of Acute Politics, who tells us that this approach is actually being used — and it’s working:

A local sheik came to the Army unit in charge of the sector he lived in, announced his desire to fight the insurgents, and asked for help in doing so. He was received with some healthy skepticism- many people in this part of the world will say whatever they think you want to hear in order to profit from you. To demonstrate his commitment, he organized his militia and began to attempt to quell some of the violence in the sector. Within days, indirect fire attacks against US bases from his area dropped to nearly zero over the next three weeks, from a former rate of multiple attacks per day. IED attacks and other insurgent activity was also down. By all appearances, this sheik was a legitimately good guy, stepping forward and doing his best to bring peace to Ramadi. Those appearances were confirmed three days ago when the local insurgents mounted an all out campaign to kill or humiliate the sheik, his family, and as many of his fighters as they could find.

The sheik got the help he had asked for before he began his pro-government activities. Coalition operations are still ongoing, so I’ll leave it to the news to reveal the details (if they deign to do so). Suffice it to say that we grabbed some very bad men, found some bombs and some arms caches, and generally repaid the favor he did us. The military has failed both allies of chance and longstanding friends in conflicts past. This time, I was proud to see we did the right thing.

As Teflon Don has said elsewhere:

If “Stay the course” isn’t the answer, neither is “Set your course across the Atlantic”.

Amen, brother. Captain Travis Patriquin had an idea that just might work. In fact, Teflon Don’s post shows that it can work.

I hope Captain Patriquin’s idea doesn’t die with him.

Maj. McClung’s Death Is Announced

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 6:30 pm

The Department of Defense has issued this press release:

The Department of Defense announced today the death of a Marine who was supporting Operation Iraqi Freedom.

Maj. Megan M. McClung, 34, of Coupeville, Wash., died Dec. 6 while supporting combat operations in Al Anbar province, Iraq. McClung was assigned to I Marine Expeditionary Force Headquarters Group, I MEF, Camp Pendleton, Calif.

For further information in regard to this release the media can contact the Camp Pendleton public affairs office at (760) 725-5044.

Michael Fumento has pictures and a tribute.

Steve Lopez: Prison for Drug Dealers, Not Violent Offenders

Filed under: Crime,Dog Trainer,General — Patterico @ 6:54 am

It appears that, if L.A. Times columnist Steve Lopez had his way, the State of California would spring from prison a man repeatedly convicted of assaults and death threats, in order to make room for a drug dealer.

Lopez had a column yesterday bemoaning the fact that a man with a history of assaultive and threatening conduct will be headed to prison for 25 years to life for once again assaulting and threatening the life of a victim.

Lopez’s desire for lenient treatment of this victim is interesting, given his previous clarion call for prison time for a man convicted of possessing eight ounces of cocaine.

Let’s look at the subject of yesterday’s column: Stephan Lilly.

In 1997, he was convicted of assaulting his wife with a pipe. In 2005, a criminal threat against his wife went down on the books as strike two.

Lopez does not tell us the details of those crimes. How badly was Lilly’s wife hurt in the attack with the pipe? What threats did he make against his wife in 2005? Was there any violence associated with that incident? Was there an ongoing pattern of domestic violence? We don’t learn this.

But Lopez does tell us that the Deputy District Attorney who prosecuted Lilly wrote a sentencing memo that

noted that Lilly’s criminal record stretched back to 1981 and included a conviction for aiding and abetting in an assault, driving while impaired, possession of a controlled substance and misdemeanor battery.

In Lilly’s latest case, he was convicted of — guess what? — assaulting and threatening someone. Who woulda thunk it?

According to Lopez, a security guard testified at Lilly’s trial that, a short time after Lilly was paroled on his latest criminal threats case, “Lilly slammed him against a wall several times, lifted him off his feet and threatened to kill him.”

But, Lopez tells us, Lilly also has psychological problems. He is a paranoid schizophrenic. He hears voices. He’s suicidal. Apparently Lopez seems to think that this all means that it is wrong for Lilly to be going to prison for a long period of time. But all previous efforts to treat Lilly’s mental illness didn’t prevent him from assaulting and threatening someone. And when you tell me that someone is suicidal and is hearing voices, it doesn’t make me think: gee, this person doesn’t sound dangerous. It makes me think of David Berkowitz, and the dog that he believed had advised him to commit several murders.

Lilly has apparently had treatment for his problems in the past. And that treatment didn’t stop him from: committing battery; aiding and abetting an assault; attacking his wife with a pipe; threatening his wife; or threatening and attacking the victim in the present case.

What is Lopez’s point? I’m not really sure. He sympathetically describes the efforts by Lilly’s attorney to have his sentence reduced, or even to have his conviction reduced to a misdemeanor — an act that would put Lilly back on the street in short order, to assault and threaten even more victims. Lopez even suggests that perhaps the law should be changed so that people like Lilly could raise a defense of diminished capacity, saying that:

it seems preposterous that [Lilly] and countless others go on trial with virtually no consideration given to the demons that led to the violence.

What seems even more preposterous is for Lopez to make that claim after describing how Lilly’s defense lawyer put on a witness at his trial who

described how Lilly was “a diagnosed schizophrenic” who had been hearing voices and had been trying unsuccessfully to get medication at the time he attacked Dominguez.

Since the crime of making criminal threats is a specific intent crime, Lilly’s mental illness is something the jury was entitled to consider in determining whether he had formed the requisite criminal intent. From Lopez’s column, it appears “preposterous” to argue that “virtually no consideration” was given to this issue at Lilly’s trial. I’m certain that it was the only real issue at the trial — and guess what? The jury found, unanimously and beyond a reasonable doubt, that Lilly had the required intent.

Lopez continues:

The defense of “diminished capacity” used to address that very reality, and although it was abused, some refined form of it seems appropriate.

Yes, it has been abused, most notably by the fellow who used the “Twinkie defense” against charges of murdering the mayor of San Francisco and a county supervisor. Does Lopez want to see diminished capacity and the Twinkie defense return? How would he draft legislation that would not be abused? He doesn’t tell us.

The only thing that would get Lilly into a mental institution would be a successful plea of not guilty by reason of insanity. But Lilly and his attorney apparently didn’t pursue that option, even though it was available.

What I find especially ironic is that, while Lopez implies that this repeatedly assaultive and threatening person should get a misdemeanor, or even a walk due to his mental illness, Lopez is the same fellow who in September was screaming about the fact that a dope dealer with eight ounces of cocaine wasn’t going to prison.

We get the message, Steve. If someone repeatedly assaults and threatens members of the public, we should give them a pat on the head and a trip to the psychiatrist. But if they deal some dope, throw the book at them.

Is is sad that someone with mental illness is going to prison for a potential life sentence? Sure, on some level. But the system has to protect the public from people like Lilly. It sounds like that happened in this case. If Steve Lopez has a alternate suggestion that would actually protect the public, he should tell us what it is. He sure doesn’t do so in yesterday’s column.

Blog Recommendation: Acute Politics

Filed under: Blogging Matters,General,War — Patterico @ 12:01 am

Yesterday I was told about one of the best blogs I have seen by someone on the ground in Iraq. It is called Acute Politics. Blogger “Badger 6” is the one who told me about it; Badger 6 knows the blogger personally. I have put it in my Bloglines subscriptions and blogrolled it. You should visit it right now.

The most recent post is titled The First Bone. It begins:

Last night I sat alone on the porch and studied the pieces of a puzzle. It had come in a care package from home, and consisted of six small pieces of wood, of equal dimensions, with differing types of slots cut across them. I have no idea what the puzzle is supposed to look like, but I’m still trying to assemble the wooden bones into some coherent whole. As the parts move in my hands, they occasionally form into larger shapes, only to collapse because I’ve failed to incorporate all the parts at my disposal. In some ways, I see the puzzle as an analogy to Iraq. Many pieces must grow and fit together, or the nation that grows on them will eventually tumble and fall. I continue to stare at the bones of the puzzle, and begin to associate them with the forces that strive together attempting to form Iraq. The Military, The Media, Government, Religion. Other pieces lie on the table unnamed, representing forces I remain unaware of.

The writer, who calls himself “Teflon Don,” is living proof that Charlie Rangel doesn’t know what he’s talking about when he claims that only uneducated people with no other options join the military. Teflon Don is a better writer than most of the bloggers you see nowadays. He is contemptuous of the idea that we should simply bring the boys back home:

One of my biggest pet peeves is the attitude that says “Support the troops: Bring them home!”. Last time I checked, the troops are all volunteers. Of course, that might change if Rep. Rangel gets his way and reinstates the draft, but for now, we’ve all chosen this life. If you claim to support the troops, listen to me: we do not want to be used as a political weapon. If we pull military forces out of Iraq before the Iraqis are fully capable of managing their own affairs, if we go home and leave Iraq in a downward spiral, if we fail in this task of nation building that we find ourselves at, then we doom the American military to a long period of even greater risks. It’s your choice not to support the war; just don’t pretend to support the troops while using them as a political tool.

He has no magic solution, but believes that more engagement will give us the best chance of success:

Various talking heads stateside have been repeating the view that there is no military solution to the conflict in Iraq. In large part I agree: we can’t simply kill all the insurgents, because in the process we create more insurgents. Even if we managed to kill them all, there are many factions who do not desire the same ends for Iraq. However, without some sort of partial military solution and a stable, violence-free environment, we cannot expect any lasting political solution. Iraqi forces are not ready to assume sole control of the country- the military is getting better, and in some areas operates outside of US control, but the police are plagued by widespread corruption. Something like 70% of police across the country have militia ties, according to the AP- not something you want if you’re trying to enforce justice equally across all factions. Even the professionals in the military have reliability problems: in case you were wondering just how the best soldiers in the Iraqi army feel about the current political climate, The Times is there.

Obviously, “Stay the course” will lead us nowhere. Small wonder. It’s a basic principle of counterinsurgency that no operation will succeed without the troops involved getting out among the local population, giving them a chance to associate and identify with their protectors. The current strategy tends more towards limiting “face time” with the locals because of the danger involved, preferring to spend more time behind berms and barb wire. Units that engage the local populace have enjoyed greater success in fighting the insurgency, as the British in the south have shown. If “Stay the course” isn’t the answer, neither is “Set your course across the Atlantic”. My chief fear now is that the military will not be allowed to pursue a course beneficial to Iraq, and will eventually be brought home with the job undone.

But there is no obvious answer — a fact reflected in the last line of this very thoughtful post:

I never figured out how the puzzle went together.

The blog is an undiscovered gem. In another post, he describes looking at the sky through night-vision goggles — and the language is poetry:

The raid is still going on. A voice came on the radio and informed us that the Marines have grabbed a couple bad guys, and are on the trail of a couple more. I grab a Coke, for the instant burst of caffeine and sugar that tastes like a liquid sleep substitute, and allow myself a view of the stars. The moon has set now, leaving behind a panorama of the heavens in detail I rarely see at home. The greenish haze of my night vision reveals an incredible depth to the void. Stars formerly too small to see twinkle green pinpoints of fire, and as I look, a meteor falls through my vision. I tear myself away and back into the present, feeling as if the seconds I spent were too long.

There are many other posts I could recommend, such as this one, which describes the military’s cooperation with a local sheik who wanted to help fight insurgents, as well as his unit’s discovery of a large IED (he is a Combat Engineer charged with the dangerous job of finding and disabling IEDs). There is the post with a poem he wrote.

But mostly, I recommend that you do what I did: go to the blog’s main page, and browse through the whole blog. If you’re like me, you’ll find yourself going to the archives and reading every post. (There are only 18 so far in total.) Between this blog, Badgers Forward, and Bill Roggio, you’re likely to get a good picture of what is happening on the ground in Anbar province from the military perspective. And (as Michael Fumento notes) the view from the ground tends to be more positive than the one expressed by people who aren’t actually there.

Go visit Acute Politics, now. Click here to access the blog’s main page.

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