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Archive for the ‘War’ Category

A great question

From the L.A. Times

In response to the “recommendation” from General Petraeus that the U.S. should keep 130,000+ troops in Iraq until at least July and spend another $100 billion. 

What else could the United States do with a guesstimated $100 billion to reduce the strength and the appeal of Islamist terrorist groups worldwide?

If you think about it, deploying troops to Iraq is a rather ass-backwards way of addressing the threat of Islamist terrorist groups around the world.  Some, like myself, would argue that it doesn’t address that problem at all and actually aggravates it.  But all that aside, $100 billion could buy an awful lot of things.  And maybe some of those things actually works better than what we’re doing. 

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(Via TPM)

Bush on Maliki: 

“[Maliki’s] learning to be a leader. And one of my jobs as the president and his ally is to help him be that leader without being patronizing. At some point in time, if I come to the conclusion that he can’t be the leader—he’s unwilling to lead or he’s deceptive—then we’ll change course. But I haven’t come to that conclusion. As a matter of fact, his recent actions have inspired me.”

“Without being patronizing?”  Mr. President, I do not think that word means what you think it means. 

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Greg Sargent has an excellent breakdown of the public relations campaign to make it look like the surge is working and how the media has enabled it.  This sort of thing really is a life or death issue.  The longer this type of crap goes on, the more we’re dying over there. 

This is not a game. 

The conduct of this war should not be evaluated in terms of a political campaign.  Policy principles on the war are infinitely more important than a political career.  Stop playing the game!  Right now, while the cocktail circuit orders another one on the company tab and tells the latest clever anecdote about who said what to who, young men and women are risking their lives conducting dangerous missions which are not designed to get us any further along toward our objectives. 

It’s a disgusting excercise in “looking busy.”  Meanwhile, our media establishment continues to pretend that the dog and pony show is the real thing. 

I wrote this just over a week ago

2. This “Surge is working” meme being pushed by the Bush administration and certain supporters of the war is the function of knee-jerk analysis.  Of course having more troops to conduct more military operations will have an effect on tactical issues.  But tactical military issues aren’t the source of the overall problem.  This war is not primarily about fighting enemy troops in the field of battle.  Killing a bunch of people won’t actually make things better. 

We are trying to prop up/create/maintain/establish a unified Iraqi government which provides security and government services to the people so that markets can function, schools can operate, and people can begin to invest again in their communities.  None of the so-called signs of progress being thrown around loosely by war supporters speak to these issues and therefore evaluating the efficacy of the surge is premature, at best. 

The fact that many war supporters are relying so heavily on skewed data to push their version of the war in the media is an indication to me that they still don’t get it.  They believe the war can be fought and won in the media.  Good public relations is a part of any effective war campaign in this day and age but it’s not an alternative to the facts on the ground. 

But then again it’s convenient to define the war’s progress with the way the media has portrayed it.  It makes pundits who support the war “soldiers” and makes those in the media who don’t play along “the enemy.” 

Somebody please wake up. 

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Newsweek has an excellent article on the ongoing hunt for Osama Bin Laden.  If you have no desire to read some of the excellent books on our war in Afghanistan (like Not a Good Day to Die by Sean Naylor or Jawbreaker by Gary Berntsen and Ralph Pezzulo) then this article is a more than decent overview of what’s been happening over there. 

As Attaturk mentions it basically vindicates much of what Senator Kerry was saying back in the 2004 elections before he got swiftboated.  Perhaps as a sort of Pavlovian political training regimen, we should learn to pay more attention to the administration critics who get tarred and feathered by the Republican crazies. 

There’s so much in the article I recommend it to anyone who cares (or professes to care) about the war on terrorism. 

But I can’t resist highlighting this passage which brought back so many memories of ridiculous military bureaucracy (italics added). 

Rice was not optimistic about getting timely permission. Whenever he and his men moved within five kilometers of the safe house, he says, they had to file a request form known as a 5-W, spelling out the who, what, when, where and why of the mission. Permission from headquarters took hours, and if shooting might be involved, it was often denied. To go beyond five kilometers required a CONOP (for “concept of operations”) that was much more elaborate and required approval from two layers in the field, and finally the Joint Special Operations Task Force at Baghram air base near Kabul. To get into a fire fight, the permission of a three-star general was necessary. “That process could take days,” Rice recalled to NEWSWEEK. He often typed forms while sitting on a 55-gallon drum his men had cut in half to make a toilet seat. “We’d be typing in 130-degree heat while we’re crapping away with bacillary dysentery and sometimes the brass at Kandahar or Baghram would kick back and tell you the spelling was incorrect, that you weren’t using the tab to delimit the form correctly.”

But Rice made his request anyway. Days passed with no word. The window closed; the target—whether Mullah Omar or not—moved on. Rice blames risk aversion in career officers, whose promotions require spotless (“zero defect”) records—no mistakes, no bad luck, no “flaps.” The cautious mind-set changed for a time after 9/11, but quickly settled back in. High-tech communication serves to clog, rather than speed the process. With worldwide satellite communications, high-level commanders back at the base or in Washington can second-guess even minor decisions.

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Robert Greenwald and Brave New Films produced a video which illustrates a point I was making in the comments of an earlier post

Here’s what the reader Martin Sims wrote in part: 

Here we are once again considering the terrorist nation of Iran. A nation that controls Palestine through Hamas, Lebanon and Syria though Hezbollah, and Iraq through the Mahdi army, untold numbers of insurgency and militant organizations and even Al Qaeda. Iran is closing in quickly on the ability to mass produce nuclear weapons while our politicians are arguing over whether or not they are even a threat to the region, and our own nation. Israel, as I have said before, does not have the luxury of debating this issue until the day it is confirmed that the Iranian nuclear program has in fact produced it’s first reliable weapon. Israel has nuclear weapons but will they use them? It is a strongly held belief that only the United States can deliver a conventional strike devastating enough to impact the Iranian nuclear program, however, if the United States does not do that and soon, Israel will be forced to consider the nuclear option as it’s only reliable means of ensuring it’s continued existence.

If the United States is unable or unwilling to confront Iran militarily within the next 12 months, world war three is almost a certainty. Because if Iran is able to get all their pieces in place before they are directly attacked, this chess game is over and no country in the world will be safe from the terrorist army they have been building up arming and training for over 30 years. China, Russia, Venezuela and many other countries have already chosen their allies in this struggle by supporting, supplying and defending Iran in it’s quest for nuclear weapons and undying support of terrorism in all it’s horrific forms and manifestations.

Here’s my response which, I feel, is buoyed by the excellent video embedded above. 

It is truly mind boggling how little you actually know about the way the Middle East works, the actual relationship between Iran and paramilitary elements in the Middle East, the foreign policy objectives of Iran, and the U.S. airstrike (and Israeli for that matter) capability.

Some people may “strongly” hold beliefs that the U.S. is the only nation capable of decimating the Iranian ability to build nuclear weapons but that doesn’t make it true. In fact, there is quite a bit of disagreement in the intel community over the efficacy of airstrikes at all. This isn’t the early 1980’s. Iran is conducting its programs mostly underground and there’s simply no good information on what would happen if we hit them even with our best weapons at those locations, or even if we know where all of the underground facilities are located.

And again, the talk about the airstrikes neatly sidesteps these issues by saying that the point of these attacks would be to put Iran in its place and make them pay for supposedly mucking up Iraq. Not to mention the fact that the intel over that assertion is in question. Much of the sourcing from that intel has come from a particular subversive Iranian group operating in Iraq and hoping to get the U.S. to weaken the Iranian government. Now where have we fallen for that sort of thing before?

But the claims of influence over the Mahdi Army has been wildly exaggerated. Sure, people in Iran are responsible for sending money and weapons. But we’re not talking about government officials giving aid and instructions to the Mahdi Army. The Shiites in Iraq are notoriously independent and leery of Iran. If anything, we have been driving some Shiite militias into the arms of Iran because of our inability to provide basic security and social services.

None of this stuff is difficult to understand or find in many, many open source materials. One should learn to read and evaluate the source of what one reads before swallowing it completely. In respect to Iran, it’s important to be more than a little skeptical of sources provided by and steming from the Bush Administration. It was only four to five years ago, after all, when we heard similar imminent danger arguments about Iraq.  And we all know how that turned out.

Or do we?

Found video via Rick Perlstein

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Pretty much the short version of this post is “what he says.” 

 But let me add a couple thoughts which I have been chewing on for awhile.

1. This “Blame Maliki” movement is completely self-serving.  I have absolutely no doubt the guy isn’t what we hoped he would be.  But I think that says more about our hopes and the tactics we’ve used in Iraq that have undercut his authority.  The movement is a smokescreen to “give it more time” when the next guy comes in to take his place.

2. This “Surge is working” meme being pushed by the Bush administration and certain supporters of the war is the function of knee-jerk analysis.  Of course having more troops to conduct more military operations will have an effect on tactical issues.  But tactical military issues aren’t the source of the overall problem.  This war is not primarily about fighting enemy troops in the field of battle.  Killing a bunch of people won’t actually make things better. 

We are trying to prop up/create/maintain/establish a unified Iraqi government which provides security and government services to the people so that markets can function, schools can operate, and people can begin to invest again in their communities.  None of the so-called signs of progress being thrown around loosely by war supporters speak to these issues and therefore evaluating the efficacy of the surge is premature, at best. 

The fact that many war supporters are relying so heavily on skewed data to push their version of the war in the media is an indication to me that they still don’t get it.  They believe the war can be fought and won in the media.  Good public relations is a part of any effective war campaign in this day and age but it’s not an alternative to the facts on the ground. 

But then again it’s convenient to define the war’s progress with the way the media has portrayed it.  It makes pundits who support the war “soldiers” and makes those in the media who don’t play along “the enemy.” 

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Attacking Iran

A growing buzz.  It’s been bandied about for awhile now.  Remember “the list?”  And more recently the Seymour Hersh articles in the New Yorker

Now former CIA agent Bob Baer says that the Bush Administration will order attacks on Iran within the next 6 months.  And John Bolton, the former U.N. Ambassador and all-around asshole (my opinion), says he sure hopes so

We’ve been saber-rattling Iran for so long it’s hard to believe they would not have prepared some sort of coordinated response.  The feeling seems to be that we can just order a few airstrikes to make a point and then force them to “cooperate.” 

This is the sort of colossally stupid approach to foreign policy, warfare, and negotiation that leads to humiliating losses. 

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