Wednesday, September 27, 2006

War on Terror: Do We Need To Mobilize?

By John E. Carey
September 28, 2006

The United States never mobilized to fight the war against terror. That means our full industrial might, our full economic might, and the focus of many of our government departments is not thoroughly embracing the war effort.

Additionally, some other issues like human rights and democracy in Southeast Asia may be suffering.

Since September 11, 2001, many great changes have helped transform America to fight the war on terror, as we have noted, as recently as on the anniversary of 9/11 in The Washington Times: “Since September 11, the damaged section of the Pentagon has been rebuilt, a plan is in place in New York….By carrying the battle to the enemy in Iraq and Afghanistan, with our professional military forces and not our women and children and other innocents, we, as a nation, have already achieved a significant advantage over the enemy…..We reformed our government and created the Department of Homeland Security. We energized and reformed our intelligence services and created the director of national intelligence (John Negroponte) above the Central Intelligence Agency director. We monitored the terrorists' communications, computer networks, financing and banking. We commenced a war like no other war ever on Earth. We, the United States, redefined war.”

But we never mobilized.

Do we need to?

On September 25, 2006, more than five years after the September 11, 2001 attacks, Retired U.S. Army Maj. Gen. John Batiste told Senators during his appearance before the Senate Democratic Policy Committee, "We must mobilize our country for a protracted challenge."

General Batiste was joined by two others in agreement: retired U.S. Army Maj. Gen. Paul Eaton, and retired U.S. Marine Corps Colonel Paul X. Hammes.

O.K. that is only three gentlemen. But three experienced warriors who served in Iraq and who say their conclusions are supported by many others on active duty. The testimony was the most riveting I have heard since I first came to the halls of Congress in 1974. My impression of this hearing was that these three military men are tired of seeing men die and suffer tremendous wounds in a conflict they feel is poorly managed and under funded. I thought, "These guys feel honor bound to be here."

There is also the voice of James K. Kallstrom. The former FBI Assistant Director and the man who was in charge of the criminal investigation in the crash of TWA Flight 800, Mr. Kallstrom is now Advisor to the Governor of New York for Counter –Terrorism. On the Fox News Channel on September 27, Mr. Kallstrom said, “We haven’t yet done a lot of common sense things here at home” to fight the war on terror. He added, “We are in a massive war and I am afraid most Americans have no idea….”

We know for a fact that Mr. Kallstrom believes, as we do, that the United States has totally failed in its “war of hearts and minds” against the terrorists. When asked about the "hearts and minds" effort in the war on terror on September 11, 2006, he said, "Quite frankly I don't think we are doing that great a job."

Then there is the other side.

The other side says: no need to mobilize because we’ll just pull out. As David Ignatius noted in the Washington Post on Wednesday, September 27, 2006, “There is not a single government in the Middle East, with the possible exceptions of Iran and Syria, that favors a rapid U.S. pullout from Iraq. Why? The consensus in the region is that a retreat now would have disastrous consequences for America and its allies. Yet withdrawal is the Iraq strategy you hear from most congressional Democrats, whether they call it ‘strategic redeployment’ or something else.”

This is a pretty wide gap; in fact an abyss. Do we need to just get out of Iraq now or mobilize the nation? Or perhaps a third path: stay the course.

General Batiste would probably liken “stay the course” to a cat hanging by its claws on a sheer curtain.

So, shouldn’t we get to the bottom of this? Are we expected to vote in November with no additional information, no clue as to who holds the position closest to the truth?

Are American men and women expected to fight and die while many know there is more we, as a nation, can do to make and keep them safer?

There are some other indicators that mobilization may be in order because maybe our government is not totally and completely able to handle all its responsibilities during the added weight of the war on terror. Am I crazy or did a democratically elected government in Asia fall during a coup a week or so ago?

The new man in Thailand is a Muslim general in charge of the army. He says he’ll name a civilian leadership corps, get the King’s approval, and hold elections again….in a year or so.

The last time this happened Pervez Musharraf became the General/President in Pakistan. He is also still the Army Chief of Staff. He promised elections too. That was just after a bloodless coup d'état on 12 October 1999. That’s seven years ago.

Granted that Thailand is not much of a threat to anybody and this was the 18th coup in Thailand since it became a constitutional democracy in 1932. One still has to wonder if there might be strategic implications from this coup d'état later on.

Even though President Bush has said over and over that spreading democracy is part of his doctrine, and that “democracies don’t attack other democracies,” he seemed to give the Thai military a “pass” on this. Just as he has given Musharraf a pass on his democracy, apparently.

Tony Snow, the White House Press Spokesman, at first said, “we’re disappointed at the coup [in Thailand].” A few days later, Snow said, the United States is “committed to democracy and in no way do we countenance military coups.”

By September 26, the U.S. Secretary of State was on the record with a well thought out response to the Thailand coup.

In an interview with The Wall Street Journal, she said, "It's not a good thing and we are terribly displeased to have had a military coup.”

"They need to get a civilian government and they need to get to elections and get back on a democratic path very, very quickly,” said Secretary Rice.

OK: did we lose a little focus?


In July 2006 the U.S. Secretary of State was scheduled to go to Vietnam. We care about Vietnam for many reasons; not the least of which is that the Communist government has been holding an American citizen, Mrs. Thuong N. "Cuc" Foshee, without charges, medical care or legal council for over a year. The president is supposed to go to Vietnam in November and Vietnam is awaiting word on entry into the World Trade Organization and receipt of Permanent Normal Trade Relations with the U.S.

All that is important and we know there are issues of still grater importance. But Secretary of State Rice cancelled her mission to Vietnam last July because of the pressing business of the war between Israel and Hezbollah – even though she made it all the way to Malaysia at just about the same time she was supposed to be in Vietnam.

This is a U.S. State Department press release dated July 14, 2006 which was still on the official State Department web site on September 27, 2006:

“Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice will travel to Asia July 24-29, visiting Japan (July 24-25), China (July 25-26), the Republic of Korea (July 26-27), Malaysia (July 27-28) and Vietnam (July 28-29) for discussions with senior government officials on bilateral, regional, and global issues of concern including North Korea, Iraq and Iran; and to participate in ASEAN-related meetings in Kuala Lumpur on July 27-28. These are the Secretary's first visits to Malaysia and Vietnam, and her first meeting with the new Vietnamese leadership.”

All this diplomacy never happened, save the Malaysia piece.

Again, according to the State Department’s official web site: “Secretary Rice traveled to Malaysia to meet with the ASEAN Foreign Ministers on July 27 and sign the Framework Agreement for the Plan of Action to implement the ASEAN-U.S. Enhanced Partnership. She participated in the 13th ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF) meeting July 28.”

And finally this from the State Department’s official web site: “At the Gala Dinner held each year at ASEAN's Ministerial Meeting, each country's Foreign Minister traditionally performs a skit. Secretary Rice, a classically trained and accomplished pianist, played a selection from Brahms. She was accompanied by famed Malaysian violinist Mustafa Fuzer Nawi, conductor of the National Symphony Orchestra, for her interpretation.”

The Secretary of State, unfortunately, could not make it to Vietnam, Japan, China, or South Korea due to the war in Lebanon. But she did make it all the way to Malaysia to play the piano (Brahms' Sonata in D Minor, 2nd Movement).

So, because our nation did not have a special envoy to the Middle East, and the Secretary of State tried (and failed) to meet all her diplomatic responsibilities, Mrs. Foshee remains in jail in Vietnam. And who knows what else the United States left on or under the table unattended to.

On May 21, 2001, at the outset of this president’s administration, with the “Israelis and Palestinians, locked in a dangerous new spiral of violence,” Ambassador Dennis Ross was asked on CNN, “Has it been a mistake for the new Bush administration to be as disengaged as it has been in the Middle East?”

He answered, “I think that what we have seen is, at this point, a low visibility American approach is not sufficient to prevent a slide into much worse violence.”

Ambassador Dennis Ross, a former U.S. Special Envoy to the Middle East wrote later that , “And, with the U.S. preoccupied with Iraq, there is no ongoing diplomacy.”

Ambassador Ross wrote those words in the Wall Street Journal on November 5, 2003.

In August 2005, after Secretary Powell was already gone and Secretary of State Rice was in his chair, Ambassador Ross was asked about a “Special Envoy” again. He said, the Secretary of State has “got a lot of things going on around the world, and to do what is necessary for what I'm talking about….I think you need to have one person in charge. Do they have to be called an envoy? No. But they have to be in charge…. So, you're going to have to have somebody who's in charge, someone who's on the scene, someone who's energetic, who understands the intensity of the effort that's required…..empower him. Give him the mandate.”

China has a Special Envoy to the Middle East. The United States does not.

Before the President of the United States goes to Vietnam in November, we would hope that the U.S. government takes all necessary action to secure the release of Mrs. Thuong N. "Cuc" Foshee, a citizen of the United States, who is now held without charges in Vietnam.

And the larger question is this: are we losing “focus” in our government of all our international responsibilities due to the war against terror? Because if we are then General Batiste and his group, and others, including, we believe, Mr. James Kallstrom, are correct: we need to mobilize our government more completely.

Or otherwise make some changes.

Other reading:

Our Comments on 9/11/06:

On the retired military officers that recommended mobilization:

On Thailand's Coup:

On Mrs. Foshee and Vietnam:

Cambodia gets tough on child sex trade

By Adam Piore
Contributor to The Christian Science Monitor
September 27, 2006

PHNOM PENH, CAMBODIA – Cambodian police this year have arrested at least 12 foreigners on charges of sexually abusing children - more than twice the amount snagged all of last year.

In addition to three Americans, they've caught four Germans, an elderly Swiss man, a Belgium national, and at least three Vietnamese nationals who helped the foreigners procure children.

For those who have long fought pedophilia here, the spike is actually cause for celebration. Most agree the increase from just five arrests last year probably has little to do with the prevalence of the crimes. Rather it's a function of increased political will, effort, and skill - encouraged by foreign governments like the US - on the part of Cambodia's police, who have for years been accused of allowing foreign pedophiles to operate with impunity.

"They are more reactive, more willing to work on this," says Beatrice Magnier, director of Action Pour Les Enfants, (APLE), a French nongovernmental organization that works to combat the child sex trade.

Khieu Sopheak, spokesman for the Ministry of Interior, says, "The authorities have increased their knowledge and skills after cooperation with NGOs. The implementation of the law gets better from one day to the next."

It's a trend that's been in the offing since at least 2000, when Cambodia first launched a major initiative funded by foreign donors aimed at targeting the exploitation of women and children and set up a hotline to receive tips. In 2002, Cambodia established a department in the Ministry of Interior specifically devoted to combating human trafficking and protecting at-risk juveniles.

But obstacles of apathy, corruption, and poverty prove to be constant challenges, NGO workers say. After all, many of the former leaders of the genocidal Khmer Rouge regime continue to live freely in Cambodia's northwestern provinces, unrepentant for crimes that killed 2 million Cambodians between the years 1975-1979. In Phnom Penh, angry mobs routinely beat thieves to death on the streets, because few trust the police to prosecute them. And corruption can often buy freedom for even the most heinous crimes.

But in recent years, foreign governments have gotten more serious about cracking down on the problem, and made it more difficult for Cambodian authorities to ignore.

In 2003, the US Congress passed the Child Protect Act, which allows the US to prosecute American citizens in the US for crimes against children committed overseas. Penalties can reach 30 years in prison. Canada, among others, recently enacted a similar law.

Since 2003, Cambodia has arrested and deported at least six Americans to face charges there, under the new law. One was Michael John Koklich, a California native who fled Cambodian police on his motorbike in February, before crashing into a barricade, and taking down Phnom Penh's deputy municipal antitrafficking police chief in the process.

"Cambodia has become a valuable ally in arresting the worst of all sexual predators, pedophiles," US Ambassador Joseph Mussomeli says. "We are very pleased with the excellent cooperation we have received."

And there are other encouraging signs. For years, pedophiles flocked to Svay Pak, the brothel village on the outskirts of Phnom Penh, bragging about exploits at coffeehouses and bars. NGOs and foreign governments tried in vain to convince Cambodia to do something about the child prostitution, which operated with impunity there. The government shut it down in 2004.

Nowadays in the countryside, even in remote areas, signs abound bearing the hotline number and the slogan: "Turn a sex tourist into an ex-tourist." The signs show a white hand holding the hand of a child in one picture, and the white hand in hand cuffs next.

Still, most agree there is a lot of work to be done. Even as Cambodia has taken steps forward, some point to recent missteps. Police arrested Terry Darrell Smith on July 31 and, according to the International Justice Mission (IJM), found evidence he was involved with two Vietnamese girls in their early teens.

But earlier this month, a Cambodian court released him and, says IJM, a US group working to end the underage sex trade, he disappeared for weeks. Police rearrested him last Wednesday following public outcry and diplomatic pressure, according to local newspaper reports.

Authorities now plan to deport him to his home state of Oregon where he will face criminal charges. "The policies are improving, but the court is still very weak," says APLE's Mr. Magnier.

Recently, Cambodia apparently granted citizenship to Thomas Frank White, a millionaire from San Francisco currently in a Mexican jail on child sex charges. He's also wanted in the US for violating the Protect Act and has been accused by Thai officials of abusing children there.

Suspected pedophiles often come to Cambodia hoping to find anonymity. Fifteen years ago in Oregon, Mr. Smith had been "convicted of multiple charges that he used children in displays of sexual acts," The Oregonian reported last week. Belgian national Bessape Philippe, also arrested recently, had spent three years in a Belgian prison for abusing three Belgian boys aged 14 to 16.

APLE's Magnier says it's difficult to stop pedophiles operating in remote provinces. Perpetrators are often residents or long-term tourists who insinuate themselves into the lives of families, and develop the role of financial benefactors. They will prey on the child and use their financial leverage to prevent the family from taking action, he says.

Many of the recent cases came to light only because the perpetrators were careless and reported by groups like APLE, or cruel enough to make a scene. In the others, NGO workers used detective work: following tips, tracking suspects, interviewing victims, and turning cases over to the police.
From the U.S. Department of State, "Trafficking in Persons Report, June 2006"


Cambodia is a source, destination, and transit country for men, women, and children trafficked for the purposes of sexual exploitation and forced labor. A significant number of Cambodian women and children are trafficked to Thailand and Malaysia for commercial sexual exploitation and forced labor. Cambodian men are trafficked primarily to Thailand for forced labor in the construction and agricultural sectors – particularly the fishing industry – while Cambodian women and girls are trafficked for factory and domestic work. A significant number of Cambodian children are trafficked to Vietnam and Thailand for the purpose of forced begging. Cambodia is a transit and destination point for women from Vietnam trafficked for sexual exploitation. Trafficking for sexual exploitation also occurs within Cambodia’s borders, from rural areas to the country’s capital, Phnom Penh, and other secondary cities in the country.


Vietnam is a source and destination country for men, women, and children trafficked for the purposes of sexual exploitation and forced labor. Vietnamese women and girls are trafficked to Cambodia, the P.R.C., Hong Kong, Macau, Malaysia, Taiwan, and the Czech Republic for sexual exploitation. State-owned labor export companies recruit and send workers abroad; some of these laborers have been known to suffer conditions of involuntary servitude or bonded or forced labor. Women from Vietnam are trafficked to Taiwan through fraudulent marriages for sexual exploitation and labor. Other Vietnamese women are recruited to travel to Singapore by offers of marriage to Singaporean men; after arrival they face coercion or pressure that makes them vulnerable to trafficking. Vietnam is a destination country for Cambodian children who are trafficked for the purpose of begging. There is also internal trafficking from rural to urban areas.


Thailand is a source, transit, and destination country for men, women, and children trafficked for the purposes of sexual exploitation and forced labor. A significant number of Thai women are trafficked to Japan, Malaysia, Bahrain, Australia, Singapore, South Africa, Taiwan, Europe, and North America for sexual exploitation. Thai laborers working abroad often pay excessive recruitment fees prior to departure, resulting in situations of severe indebtedness which can lead to debt bondage, a form of trafficking in persons. Burmese, Cambodian, and Lao men are primarily trafficked to Thailand for forced labor in the construction and agricultural sectors, particularly the fishing industry, while Burmese, Cambodian, and Lao women and girls are trafficked for factory and domestic work and the sex trade. A significant number of Cambodian children are trafficked to Thailand for the purpose of begging. The majority of trafficking victims from Burma, Laos, Cambodia, and the People’s Republic of China (P.R.C.) are economic migrants who are subjected to conditions of forced or bonded labor and commercial sexual exploitation in Thailand.

Love Thy (Asian) Neighbor

September 26, 2006
The Wall Street Journal

Remember Sir Norman Angell? The late British economist predicted that trade would bridge political animus -- right before World War I broke out. We're not predicting a conflagration like that in Asia anytime soon. But a recent survey gave us pause for thought.

In the Pew Global Attitudes Project poll released last week, only 21% of Chinese polled had a "favorable" view of Japan; 28% of Japanese felt the same about China. That's normal in China, but a huge switch in Japan. Only four years ago, more than half of Japanese liked their mainland peers.

India and Pakistan, too, harbor ill feelings. Half of Indians had an "unfavorable" opinion of their Pakistan peers; 67% of Pakistanis returned the sentiments.

This animosity is springing up at a time when intra-regional trade in Asia is on the rise. While the U.S. remains Asia's largest trading partner, China's importance is growing. The mainland receives about a quarter of the nonindustrialized Asian economies' exports, and 10% of exports from Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines and Thailand. Japanese exports to China are steeply rising, and vice versa. Intraregional equity portfolio flows in Asia nearly tripled from 2001-04.

So how to explain China's ill humor about Japan? Some 81% of Chinese don't think Japan has apologized sufficiently for its World War II-era crimes, despite numerous mea culpas from Tokyo. Japan's changing views could be affected by growing concern about China's militarization, which 93% of Japanese view as "bad." Japanese also showed more skepticism toward South Korea, with 43% taking an "unfavorable" view, compared with only 18% in China.

Perhaps one thing the two can agree on is cultural pride. Eighty-three percent of Japanese agreed with this statement: "Our people are not perfect, but our culture is superior to others." Some 75% of Chinese say the same for their homeland. There's nothing wrong with loving your country. But it helps to love your neighbors, too.