Monday, March 13, 2006

The recent past, revisited

With the war in Iraq now being referred to as a "civil war" instead of an insurgency, it's interesting to note this story from the New York Times. Entitled Even as U.S. Invaded, Hussein Saw Iraqi Unrest as Top Threat, the NYT article begins:

As American warplanes streaked overhead two weeks after the invasion began, Lt. Gen. Raad Majid al-Hamdani drove to Baghdad for a crucial meeting with Iraqi leaders. He pleaded for reinforcements to stiffen the capital's defenses and permission to blow up the Euphrates River bridge south of the city to block the American advance. But Saddam Hussein and his small circle of aides had their own ideas of how to fight the war. Convinced that the main danger to his government came from within, Mr. Hussein had sought to keep Iraq's bridges intact so he could rush troops south if the Shiites got out of line.

The rest of it goes on to describe how Saddam's military apparatus was primarily designed as an instrument to keep internal order, and that insofar as it looked outward, it gazed fearfully at its giant neighbor to the East -- Iran.

Mr. Hussein was also worried about his neighbor to the east. Like the Bush administration, Mr. Hussein suspected Iran of developing nuclear and other weapons of mass destruction. Each year the Iraqi military conducted an exercise code-named Golden Falcon that focused on defense of the Iraq-Iran border.

The United States was seen as a lesser threat, mostly because Mr. Hussein believed that Washington could not accept significant casualties. In the 1991 war, the United States had no intention of taking Baghdad. President George H. W. Bush justified the restraint as prudent to avoid the pitfalls of occupying Iraq, but Mr. Hussein concluded that the United States was fearful of the military cost.

Mr. Hussein's main concern about a possible American military strike was that it might prompt the Shiites to take up arms against the government. "Saddam was concerned about internal unrest amongst the tribes before, during or after an attack by the U.S. on Baghdad," Mr. Aziz told his interrogators. Other members of Mr. Hussein's inner circle thought that if the Americans attacked, they would do no more than conduct an intense bombing campaign and seize the southern oil fields.

Commentary

One of the reasons both the US and the EU hesitated to intervene in Slobodan Milosevic's genocide in the Balkans was because it was characterized as a "civil war"; a conflict of immemorial hatreds in which it would be useless to intervene. Even at his speech marking the Dayton accords, President Clinton portrayed events in the Balkans, not as the result of an organized conspiracy revolving around Slobodan Milosevic, but from an underlying geopolitical fault. "When I took office, some where urging immediate intervention in the conflict. I decided that American ground troops should not fight a war in Bosnia because the United States could not force peace on Bosnia's warring ethnic groups, the Serbs, Croats and Muslims."

Not unsurprisingly, the same civil war theme has been used to describe the lack of options in Darfur. In US to Sudan: We can't clean it up, ABC News reports:

"It's a tribal war," Zoellick said. "And frankly I don't think foreign forces want to get in the middle of a tribal war of Sudanese." "I don't think we can clean it up because it's not just a question of ending violence, it's a question of creating the context for peace," Zoellick said.

The power of the "civil war" theme is that it provides an automatic rationale for withdrawing from the fray, especially if intervention is supposed to have 'caused it' in the first place. Rebranding Iraq as a civil war puts it in the same category of hopelessness as the former Yugoslavia and the Sudan. The NYT story is important to bear in mind when reading recent articles such as these, authored in March 2006 by former President candidate Gary Hart, who argues that the US Army is about to be annihilated in the Iraqi civil war.

Recently one of Islamic Shi'ites' most revered sites, the golden mosque in Baghdad, was destroyed by sectarian enemies. By this act and the reprisals that followed, Iraq moved a substantial step closer to civil war. Though a remote, but real, possibility, an Iraqi civil war could cost the United States its army.

Hopefully, leaders are planning for this possibility. If sectarian violence escalates further, US troops must be withdrawn from patrol and confined to their barracks and garrisons. Mass transport must be mustered for rapid withdrawal of those troops from volatile cities in the explosive central region of Iraq. Intensive diplomatic efforts must be focused on preventing an Iraqi civil war from spreading to Iran, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, and Syria. Such a potential could make the greater Middle East a tinder box for years, if not decades, to come.

But the first concern must be the safety of US forces. It is strange to contemplate the possibility that the greatest army in world history could be slaughtered in a Middle East conflagration. But prudent commanders have no choice but to plan for this danger.

In greatest danger are the units in the Sunni central region cities. They are in real jeopardy if tens of thousands of angry Sunni and Shi'ite citizens, supported by their sectarian militias, surround and then overrun those units before they can be withdrawn.

(Former Senator Hart unsuccessfully sought the Presidency in 1984. Walter Mondale received the Democratic nomination that year, but was defeated by Ronald Reagan)

123 Comments:

Blogger rws said...

Mr. Hart has drunk deeply of the moonbat juice, he has...

3/13/2006 03:13:00 PM  
Blogger opotho said...

... imbibed on the good ship "Monkey Business".

3/13/2006 03:21:00 PM  
Blogger whit said...

Such insight only reminds us what have could have been had Mr. Hart or Mondale or Dukakis or Gore or Kerry been elected.

Alas.

3/13/2006 03:26:00 PM  
Blogger Aristides said...

I posted this two threads ago, but it is very relevant to this topic (and unavailable online unless you have a subscription). It is Rich Lowry's cover article for the upcoming edition of National Review, The 'to Hell with Them' Hawks.

Excerpts:

Sotto voce, conservatives have often said among themselves of Islam, after some horrific terror attack, “This is a religion of peace?” And a small group of vocal right-wing experts have knocked Bush for his “Islam is peace” rhetoric from the beginning. The “cartoon riots” seemed to tip more conservatives into, or close to, this camp. ...

It is Iraq, of course, that is discrediting the project of nation-building. It has reminded us of the enduring importance of culture. Iraq suffers from a lack of a democratic culture, and its longstanding ethnic and tribal divisions have worked against us. Iraq has also been a lesson in the delicacy of institutions and the extreme difficulty of creating them anew. ...

In light of these developments, the “to hell with them” hawks want to write off reforming Islam, since they consider it inherently unreformable. They are in favor of varying levels of frankness about this evaluation, wanting either to pass over it in silence or to be open about what they see as a clash of civilizations, with Islam itself the enemy. They don’t see any relation between spreading democracy and fighting terrorism, so want to give democracy-promotion a much lower prominence in U.S. foreign policy. They see the Iraq War as essentially lost, and want to pull up stakes either immediately or as soon as is plausible without creating further disaster. They agree on the imperative of never launching such a project again.


And so on. It is a great article.

As an aside, Rich seems, in certain places, to be channelling Wretchard, as in:

Whether we say “never again” is important for another reason. A key question in the political debate post-9/11 is, What kind of conflict are we in? Is it primarily a law-enforcement action, or is it a war? “To hell with them” hawks think it is a war. But there is another important question: What kind of war?

The answer is that it is most like a counterinsurgency. This doesn’t mean that the War on Terror has to be the Iraq War over and over again. It is, after all, a feature of counterinsurgencies that they aren’t exclusively military in nature. They require persuading people through a range of inducements — military, but also political, economic, and ideological — to put down their arms, or not to take them up in the first place. On a global scale, that is our task in the War on Terror.


Or here:

This means we need the two qualities that we either haven’t had or are rapidly losing in Iraq: an intimate knowledge of the culture we are dealing with, and patience.

Maybe he's a fan.

3/13/2006 03:29:00 PM  
Blogger bobalharb said...

Dukakis was ma man--he looked TOUGH in that tank!

3/13/2006 03:30:00 PM  
Blogger desert rat said...

Somolia times 10,000.

Just beyond the Horizon!
The sky, the sky, the sky is falling

But that the "Civil War" storyline is used as a reason for inaction, time and time again, is an accurate assessment of reality.

20,000 real troops, with air support would end the Crisis in Darfur, they could have 2 years ago.
Instead, tens of thousands have died, hundreds of thousands were forced to flee their homes and untold numbers of women have been raped and abused.

Peace through superior firepower.

3/13/2006 03:36:00 PM  
Blogger whit said...

Peace through superior firepower.

...and a willingness to use it.

3/13/2006 03:42:00 PM  
Blogger desert rat said...

If you can't use it, whit, you don't have it.

3/13/2006 03:43:00 PM  
Blogger opotho said...

aristides - thanks for that Lowry excerpt. It does sound "Wretchardesque".

You know that I've had a difficult time here making the argument for "an intimate knowledge of the culture we are dealing with". I keep wondering what that says about Belmont's other readership?

3/13/2006 03:44:00 PM  
Blogger whit said...

Well, Hart wants to have it and not use it. Many like him want an army to be used only for humanitarian purposes such as peace keeping Haiti.

3/13/2006 03:46:00 PM  
Blogger Henning von Tresckow said...

"Though a remote, but real, possibility, an Iraqi civil war could cost the United States its army."

This person was once taken seriously? He's clearly not being intentionally tendentious. He actually believes what he states. That means that he is a fool, an unbelievably ignorant fool.

3/13/2006 03:49:00 PM  
Blogger whit said...

opotho:
I don't believe that you have had a difficult time making such a point. You have made it numerous times. Others just don't always respond. Some understand what you're saying, others don't care. Some possibly think it's too late.

No one has all the answers.

3/13/2006 03:50:00 PM  
Blogger Bob W. said...

Wretchard, great post as always. Like most of the people commenting, I believe that the U.S. needs to fear a civil war because it would constitute mission failure; Sen Hart's fears of the United States military being annihilated in place (?!) seem ill informed at best. At worst, he sounds like a total fool.

The two part New York Times article that you referenced in your post was very illuminating, in my opinion. I posted some of my own comments over at www.wilsonizer.blogspot.com concerning other issues brought up by the articles, if you are interested.

Stay in the Fight!

3/13/2006 03:54:00 PM  
Blogger desert rat said...

So if Mr Hart were in charge, we really wouldn't have a viable threat.
We'd refuse to utilize our capability.

That was the point I was making

3/13/2006 03:54:00 PM  
Blogger Ed onWestSlope said...

If I recall, The name of the boat associated with Mr. Hart's political downfall was 'Monkey Business'.

It is hard to believe how serious he was taken, so many years ago.

Our concern with the Army in Iraq is to be watchful for our own version of General Crassus. I am afraid there have been a few near misses in the last several years.

3/13/2006 03:56:00 PM  
Blogger whit said...

This is what Victor Davis Hanson said Friday at NRO:

War
There has been a naiveté about the nature of war in the last three years, perhaps explicable by our past abnormal experiences in Grenada, Libya, Panama, Gulf War I, the Balkans, and Afghanistan. Apparently GPS-guided munitions, helicopter gunships, and fast-moving armor had convinced some that the carnage of past conflicts was now thankfully past.

But that optimism was only true if certain premises were to be enshrined as the new American way of war:

One, that war is always to be waged against small countries without many assets such as Panama or Grenada;

Or two, that war is to be conducted largely by air, whether defined by bomber attacks against Khadafy and Milosevic, or cruise missiles sent into Afghanistan and Iraq in the 1990s.

Or three, that war is to be solely punitive. We are to go in, defeat the enemy, and leave the ensuing mess to others, on the premise that we either cannot or should not worry about whether the populace deserved the odious regime we were obliged to end.

In other words, we should renounce the type of more holistic and ideological wars of the past, such as those waged against Italians, Germans, Japanese, Koreans, and Vietnamese, where we not only sought to defeat entire belief systems, but to stay on and craft a stable government in the hopes of stamping out fascism, Nazism, militarism, or Communism.

There is an easy logic to the first three methods of warcraft, but we cannot rule out the occasional need for the tougher fourth option — one that will always involve greater costs and casualties.

For all the tragedy of our fallen in Iraq, if a constitutional government stabilizes in Baghdad, and liberalization follows in the surrounding region, then our losses will not be measured against the far lighter casualties suffered in Panama, Gulf War I, or Grenada, but against the far worse losses of Korea and World War II.

3/13/2006 03:56:00 PM  
Blogger Buddy Larsen said...

Boy, I'll say--"Tailhook" media-storm darkened the skies with PatSchroeder Bombers.

3/13/2006 04:01:00 PM  
Blogger Pierre Legrand said...

Whether Islam is coachable or not is the question. The problem seems to be that in the United States a debate about whether Islam is coachable or not is forbidden. Anyone who dares mention the possibility that Islam is not a set of beliefs that can ever play nice with the other children is shouted down as a bigot. I started this war with the belief that Islam is everything many of the ill informed say it is. After many nights of shocked reading of its course through history I am left speechless at its destructiveness and the viciousness that it lends to the effort.

Many ascribe this reluctance to debate Islam to multicultural nonsense but I believe that it our respect for the sanctity of religion that causes us to avert our eyes. We truly believe that in the US we cannot make State judgements against religion. This is the crack in our armor through which we could be defeated. For if we cannot make State judgements against a religion that is posed steadfastly in opposition to our very culture then it will overwhelm us.

3/13/2006 04:06:00 PM  
Blogger RWE said...

Let us not forget that the Vietnam War was described as being a Civil War that we had no business being involved in, when it was not tossed off as being simply U.S. Imperialism.

As for Kosovo, I can still recall one Democratic Party Flack on TV saying "But this is ETHNIC! We have to intervene!"

So ETHNIC civil war is something we HAVE to get involved in, but plain old Civil War is something that we must not.

I am surprised that no one has pointed out that Saddam's Reign was Iraq's Civil War, in which the Tikriti Tribe made continuous war on all of the groups. What we are seeing is the end of the Iraqi Civil War, not the start.

3/13/2006 04:08:00 PM  
Blogger opotho said...

7:15 EST, On CNN's"Situation Room" with Wolf Blitzer (gag) an interview within minutes with Wada Sultan.

3/13/2006 04:15:00 PM  
Blogger Buddy Larsen said...

Well put RWE--the killing year is almost always the final year. The redoubt taken, the hard-core broken. Maybe not here, but almost always.

3/13/2006 04:16:00 PM  
Blogger Buddy Larsen said...

Nah, I can't take it--I went to CNN, and they're grave-toning the case of Claude Allen--the churchgoing familyman, Bush-employee shoplifter.

Maybe you'll synopsize Wafa, Opotho--

3/13/2006 04:21:00 PM  
Blogger opotho said...

I'll do my best. I only went there because of a commercial break elsewhere. Blitzer is just so awful.

3/13/2006 04:25:00 PM  
Blogger Buddy Larsen said...

You know, as far as ethnic conflicts go, Darfur is largely Muslim on Muslim, Arabs on Africans. Sorta boots the theology in favor of plain old grab from the 'other'.

3/13/2006 04:26:00 PM  
Blogger Buddy Larsen said...

The whole network reeks with stupidity and arrogance.

3/13/2006 04:28:00 PM  
Blogger opotho said...

Now Blitzer's giving an excrutiating and unannounced interview with Murtha. A sneak attack ... intolerable louts.

3/13/2006 04:33:00 PM  
Blogger desert rat said...

It is a Tribal Society, in Sudan.
The striped pants are right about that.
The Arabs and the Blacks, they're not from the same Tribe.

3/13/2006 04:34:00 PM  
Blogger Tony said...

It's the thought that counts.

Clinton and Blair finally intervened unilaterally in the non-genocide in Kosovo, five years after the actual genocide in exploding Yugoslavia. The UN management of the early 90's conflict resulted in concentration camps, so in all fairness, better late than never in correcting that UN oversight.

Genocide in Iraq isn't worth unilateral intervention. So what's the subtle difference here:
A. Iraq - strategic global economy battleground
B. Kosovo - ummm, what was the question?

-----

Off-topic: The Clinton Administration indicted Al Qaeda, counts included collaboration w/ Iraq on wmd, air wars conducted to destroy Iraq wmd, but when Bush continues the policies of the previous Administration, Bush lies?

-------------

Pwd: window? yiinjdow

3/13/2006 04:36:00 PM  
Blogger Tony said...

Opotho asks about Belmont's readership, for some of us, I'd refer him to:
Born Fighting

3/13/2006 04:46:00 PM  
Blogger opotho said...

A few choice lines:

Wafa Sultan: When you teach your child to kill whatever non-Muslim, the problem is with the teaching..."

Hussam Ayloush, council of bla, bla, Muslim something says: "reform is alive and well in Islam but it will only happen from within Islam and not from [outside]" (meaning Sultan, who is an apostate.)

Sultan's response (and the money line): I cannot hate Islam to the point that Islam hates me ... to defend my self as a woman and as a human being ...."

Further: I am not afraid. My message ... might kill me, but there is no way they can kill my message.

Blitzer: "you are a very brave woman..."

Braver than Blitzer, I daresay.

3/13/2006 04:54:00 PM  
Blogger 2164th said...

I dissent. The possibility and probability of a democratic victory dims with each day. There is no sense of urgency amongst the elected Iraqis to form a strong government of reconciliation. They are keeping their powder dry. The US has spent an untold fortune restoring the US military since Viet Nam. I can recall being on a US Army missile base in Kassel Germany in 1969 where black enlisted men would not salute white officers and did so without rebuke.

We accomplished our primary mission. The mission keeps changing to protect the exposed backsides of a discredited political administration. We cannot afford a broken army. It is time to decamp and regroup. I want a powerful US army to be ready for what will certainly be some difficult times ahead.

3/13/2006 04:55:00 PM  
Blogger opotho said...

tony - I'm a fan of Webb's and of his whole Scots-Irish thing, despite the fact that it's not my heritage. No, I think it's great, though it also brought us the Hatfields and McCoys.

3/13/2006 04:58:00 PM  
Blogger 2164th said...

This has just been reported in The Independent of London and appears on Drudge. "Middle Eastern anger over the decision by the US to block a Dubai company from buying five of its ports hit the dollar yesterday as a number of central banks said they were considering switching reserves into euros.

The United Arab Emirates, which includes Dubai, said it was looking to move one-tenth of its dollar reserves into euros, while the governor of the Saudi Arabian central bank condemned the US move as "discrimination".

This has been quietly happening for the last year. Combine this with a serious rout of hopelessly outnumbered US forces, an assertive Iran and we will be in a very difficult situation.

3/13/2006 05:02:00 PM  
Blogger wretchard said...

Austin Bay has got an updated take on Iraq. The extended analysis is in Strategy Page, with which he is affiliated.

The subjects reviewed include the declining number of US casualties, the increasing role of the Iraqi forces and the likelihood (or lack thereof, depending on your view) of a civil war.

3/13/2006 05:08:00 PM  
Blogger sam said...

Captured Iraqi intel confirms pre-war links between Saddam's regime and terrorists:

Commander Mark Divine, a U.S. Navy SEAL officer who served in Iraq and who now operates the NavySEALs.com website, explains: "There is tremendous evidence to suggest there were terrorist training camps in Iraq before 9/11. . . . Those who have decided that the Iraq-al-Qaida connection claims (along with WMD) were ginned up by Bush to bolster the rationale for going into Iraq, are so firmly invested in those beliefs that they wouldn't believe any corroborating evidence anyhow."

In other words, the "anti-war" zealots don't want to be confused by facts, so wedded are they to their claims that "Bush lied" and that there were no links between Saddam and the jihadists. They would now have to admit that Bush was on target all along. Don't hold your breath waiting for their apology.

Captured Iraqi Intel

3/13/2006 05:14:00 PM  
Blogger Buddy Larsen said...

The Dollar will suffer--the stock market hit a wall about midday, inexplicable but for what 2164 reports via Drudge. This economic isolationist impulse used to be called "Beggar Thy Neighbor". Even as thy neighbor beggars thee. Like pregnant, free markets aren't a maybe thing. If people can't count on the goalposts staying put, why the hell will they be interested in the game?

3/13/2006 05:25:00 PM  
Blogger Buddy Larsen said...

Sam, O'Reilly's lead tonite on Fox was Saddam's elaborate operation to convince his own generals that he had WMD. O'Reilly aped you, "If his own generals believed he had them, how could Bush have lied? I'll be waiting to hear of a very long string of apologies from (he names a list of you-know-whos)."

3/13/2006 05:29:00 PM  
Blogger sam said...

Buddy,

I don't think he was just trying to convince his generals, I think he did have them. I've been reading more and more recent reports where the evidence is there that he shuffled them off to Syria in the days leading up to the war. Also, I've been reading that he had to keep the mind game going with the UN to make it look like to Iran that he had them. He was stuck, basically.

3/13/2006 05:44:00 PM  
Blogger 2164th said...

The real trouble is in Iran. Iran is convinced the US will attack and all US troops in Iraq are withyin range of Iranian missiles. This was reported in Janes a few days ago. It is very sobering:

"Jane’s Missiles and Rockets reports that Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps, which controls Iran’s ballistic missile forces, has been moving its mobile Shahab-3 batteries every 24 hours as a precautionary measure. According to Western intelligence sources, the batteries have apparently remained within a 35 km radius, presumably to stay within range of their command-and-control centers."

Most of our troops encamped in Iraq are in fairly tight concentrations.

3/13/2006 05:48:00 PM  
Blogger rufus said...

Deep Thinker, my Ass. Gary Hart is, and always has been, a fool.

"Monkey Business" was SO DAMNED APPROPRIATE!

3/13/2006 05:54:00 PM  
Blogger 2164th said...

by coincidence I spent several hours talking to Gary Hart on a flight to Moscow. He is no fool. Like a lot of men, he has done some foolish things. A little tail has done in many a man, great and small.

3/13/2006 05:59:00 PM  
Blogger Buddy Larsen said...

...and over and over.

3/13/2006 06:13:00 PM  
Blogger rufus said...

Okay, he's a freakin genius. Monkey business was a really smart move, and we're getting ready to "Lose our Army" in Iraq.

You were truly in the presence of Greatness.

3/13/2006 06:38:00 PM  
Blogger wretchard said...

Although public attention remains fixed on Iraq, the focus may shift to the tribal areas of Pakistan and the border areas of Iran in the coming months. Even the political ground in the West has shifted, though I'm not sure in what direction. But the political hot buttons are still lagged. I wish we had a meme computing lead sight.

3/13/2006 06:41:00 PM  
Blogger desert rat said...

Since you brought it up,
by Bill Roggio is a newly updated piece.

3/13/2006 06:45:00 PM  
Blogger rufus said...

This is why we like to elect leaders that are middle-aged, motivated, and have Good Nerves. A touch of Religion doesn't hurt.

It's gonna scary, tiresome, and frustrating for the next couple of years; but when it's over Iraq WILL have a democracy, Iran WON'T have Nukes, and the Taliban will be crushed between the Hammer (Pakistan's Army) and the Anvil (U.S. Forces on the border.)

3/13/2006 06:50:00 PM  
Blogger Papa Ray said...

Here is someone that wants civil war in Iraq.

Sadr condemns Rumsfeld, turn against his Sunni allies and threaten to kill Shiite women in the UIA.

Can someone explain why he is not dead yet?

Papa Ray
West Texas
USA

3/13/2006 06:52:00 PM  
Blogger wretchard said...

desert rat,

Yes. Bill Roggio has been doing some really good work. My guess is that in both cases, running indigs across the border will one be mode of operation. Maybe with UAV support. But what the end game in both Iran and Pakistan will look like is a mystery to me, unless it is simply to force developments to their inevitable conclusion. In the end both Pakistan and Iran will have to deal with their internal contradictions instead of exporting them. There's one theory that argues that terrorism is really a civil war within Islam that leaks out into the world; that 9/11 was all about "leadership" within the world the of the jihad.

3/13/2006 06:57:00 PM  
Blogger desert rat said...

papa

While the fellow dislikes Mr al-Sadr and his influence, he asks these questions about US.
What he describes is a classic gurerilla goal, a Police State.

" ... The terrorist were a serious threat in the beginning but not now. In my opinion it's become a myth used by the Iraqi government at times to control the lives and freedom of Iraqis and and to serve mere partisan and individual interests. Terrorism is a danger and it's a reality but the cure has proved to be a 100 times worse than the disease. Terrorists can kill people and destroy properties often in Iraq and occasionally in Europe and the US but the support they're getting is becoming less and less everyday, and killing innocents and destroying properties cannot destroy a civilization or threatens democracy and that's evident in Iraq more than elsewhere. Iraq was moving forward with the democratic process until Ja'faris government came and abused the authority it was given to increase the strength and control of major She'at parties. What do terrorists want? They don't want to win. They only want to destroy the western world and any country that adapts its form of living and then they want to go to their alleged paradise. By turning our countries into police states we're achieving most of their goals for them. ... "

What if he's right, on all counts?

3/13/2006 07:03:00 PM  
Blogger Oengus Moonbones said...

I saw the Prez on TV giving a speech saying Iran was providing IDEs which are being used right now against our troops in Iraq.

My response to him would be, "So, what are you going to do about it?"

Do I see any Stealth Bombers dropping their munitions on targets in Iran, making life really, really miserable for the Iranian Loony Mullahs?

No. I don't.

This alone proves to me that the Prez no longer has what it takes to lead.

I think it's looking like time to redeploy our military out of Iraq.

3/13/2006 07:09:00 PM  
Blogger 2164th said...

Roger that Rat......

3/13/2006 07:09:00 PM  
Blogger 2164th said...

moonbones, I got sick to my stomach when after 911, Bush celebrated Ramadan in the White House and pronounced Islam was a religion of peace. I knew then he was not an honest man. Yet I voted for him because of my long antipathy towards Kerry. I hoped he could pull this thing off. He can't. He cannot articulate an intelligent defense of the poIicy. It is embarrassing and painful to watch another Lyndon Johnson. agree with your conclusion.

3/13/2006 07:17:00 PM  
Blogger enscout said...

The reaction by congress on the ports deal makes us more isolationist.

It may not seem like much here, but it sends a strong clear message to those who would otherwise invest in our system.

Given our trade defecit, with foreign investment in the US being its counterwaight, we could see some real devaluation of the dollar. Particularly if China were to play her hand by floating the Yuan. They did so last fall but it was "controlled". Next time could be the real thing.

3/13/2006 07:22:00 PM  
Blogger Marcus Aurelius said...

2164,

I supported the DPW deal and am saddened to see it go down. However, for those nations over their to P&M about discrimination is ludicrous.

Its just their ox got gored. A buddy of mine complained bitterly one day about being mistaken for a Sudani and getting treated like rubbish. He was about to the point where he was going to wear his US passport around his neck.

Anyway

3/13/2006 07:32:00 PM  
Blogger desert rat said...

2164,
re 5:48
Yeah concentrated in bases describe as
" ... I discovered that troops (and their visitors) can enjoy considerable comforts while on base.

All but the smallest installations have their own Post Exchanges, the biggest of which rival a Wal-Mart in size and selection. Also common at the bigger bases are fast food restaurants (Subway, Burger King, Cinnabon), movie theaters, swimming pools, and vast chow halls where free, copious, and varied food is dished out by cheerful South Asian contract workers. Among the more surrealistic moments of my trip was sitting down at a base near Baqubah--a far-from-pacified city with a majority Sunni population--to enjoy a fresh-brewed iced latte at a Green Beans coffee shop.

The U.S. military's logistical feats make the Romans look like amateurs by comparison. The entire greater Middle East, from Qatar to Afghanistan, is studded with vast installations, few of which existed just four years ago. Here, relatively safe behind rows of barbed wire and giant concrete barricades, tens of thousands of Americans can enjoy a simulacrum of their lives back home, albeit without their families ..."

"... So vast are the logistical requirements of the armed forces that for every soldier or Marine performing harrowing combat patrols down bomb-infested streets, there are several support workers (many from private contractors such as KBR, formerly known as Kellogg Brown & Root) who rarely leave base. LSA (Logistics Support Area) Anaconda, the main U.S. supply hub in Iraq, which is located near the northern town of Balad, has a population of some 30,000, one-third of them civilians. ... "

This from the Weekly Standard

Titled: "Hurry Up & Wait"

3/13/2006 07:44:00 PM  
Blogger 2164th said...

Marcus,
I agree with you. I saw no harm in the ownership. I also see no harm in a policy that prevents foreign government corporations from owning strategic US assets. I do not understand how this administration cannot forsee the Harriet Myers moment in this deal, cannot sell it to the American public and needlessly offends an important ally in our war on terrorism.

3/13/2006 07:45:00 PM  
Blogger 2164th said...

Rat,
Those bases make a nice fat target for Iranian sock and awe. "Iran is hiding more than 300 long-range ballistic missiles in two towns, reports an Iranian exile group. As quoted in the Associated Press, the National Council of Resistance of Iran added that North Korean experts in guidance systems, warhead production, missile fuel systems, and explosion and blast systems are working with Iranian officials at the Hemmat Missile Industries Complex, northeast of Tehran, to develop a new missile with a range of 3,000 km

3/13/2006 08:00:00 PM  
Blogger rufus said...

The last thing on God's green earth the Chinese want to see is a weakened dollar. They have almost as many unemployed as we have people. Their whole plan for the next 20 years is to export as much to us as they possibly can.

UAE is talking about selling 2.5 Billion dollars. That's just about the amount of foreign investment in our country in a day. Saudi will keep their mouth shut, I imagine, in that they manage several terminals in the U.S. That, plus the fact that they're selling about 12 Million Barrels of oil a day at a price of about 60 - $65.00/barre.

3/13/2006 08:07:00 PM  
Blogger desert rat said...

Yeah, it's not that hard to obtain targeting data on a base of 30,000 people. Quite a Campus.

It reminds me of standing in the predug tank fighting positions in Korea.
We were inspecting the positions and finding glossy printed "post cards", NorK Propaganda cards.

The realization that NorK agents had been there, would have the positions preplotted, did not add to my feelings of military superiority.

As the cards were meant to do.

The very fact I had one of the cards really scared the KATUSA I asked to translate it.

3/13/2006 08:15:00 PM  
Blogger rufus said...

When our troops were pushing to Baghdad many of them were doing it on no sleep, a couple of bottles of water, in gigantic dust storms, wearing MOPS suits, and eating one MRE a day.

Then we settled in for the long war. Yes, we're damned good at it. We know how to do "Logistics." That's why we scare the bejeebers out of every nation on earth. That plus B-2's, F-22's, instant counter-battery fire from Paladins that can put a round in your hip pocket in the middle of a sandstorm, M1-A2 Abrams that can destroy any tank on the battlefield going full out at 40mph before the other tank can get within range (also in the middle of a sand storm.)

Did I mention the U.S.M.C., the 101st Airborne, Special Operations, or the 3rd ID?

3/13/2006 08:18:00 PM  
Blogger 2164th said...

Good point Rufus.... In the late 80's legislation by the Great Bill Bradley crushed the US commercial real estate market. There was a great political cartoon of nine guys in suits, brief cases on their chests, eyes wide open all in the same bed. An alarm clock of the night stand said 2:00 AM. There was a tenth man in bed sleeping like a baby. The caption read "Trump in bed with his bankers"..Shortlty thereafter, Trump filed for bankruptcy and proved the power of debtor's leverage. When you hold a trillion dollars...well.....

3/13/2006 08:19:00 PM  
Blogger rufus said...

I had acquaintance with a couple of guys in Nam that left a few cards, also. That wasn't all they left. They left a little work for the VC burial detail.

Those goofy old Katusha's the Iranians are moving around? I doubt if even one of them would ever hurt an American Soldier, or Marine. 90% go down before they know the battle's started, the other 10% meet up with a PAC-3, Deed Done.

3/13/2006 08:25:00 PM  
Blogger desert rat said...

rufus, the Iranians should be scared, if they were rational they would be scared, but they are not.

They have had ample opportunity to make incremental gains in the pursuit of Weapon. They demur.
They have passed on every chance to compromise, even in deceit.

It looks like they are chomping at the bit, to try to prove Mr Hart right. While I doubt the US Army, Iraq, will be "wiped out", the Iranians have the capacity to bloody 'em up.

As you say, who is sittig in Saddam's Palaces, US.
Who is immobile?, US, as well as Iran.
Iranian scuds are area weapons, 30,000 individuals create an area.

3/13/2006 08:33:00 PM  
Blogger desert rat said...

If their weapons are worthless, why are we worried?

3/13/2006 08:34:00 PM  
Blogger desert rat said...

We'll just assume all the Mohammedan nukes will not work, either.

We'll assume that Iranian IED's don't work, either.
That's why Mr Bush said his solution was to spend $3.3 Billion this year on IED research.

Forget Iran, spend money on a new research program.

That's the ticket.

3/13/2006 08:42:00 PM  
Blogger 2164th said...

Rat,

The weapons they have are more than adequate to do major damage. They also have redundancy for second and third strike capability. They have exocet missiles which can do major damage to our ships. They are irrational and took one million casualties against Iraq. Their hatred against the US is manifest. I would put nothing past them. They have never forgotten the SS Vincennes attack on their airline and seek their moment in history.

3/13/2006 08:47:00 PM  
Blogger 2164th said...

“I was always uneasy about the doctrine of mutual assured destruction. The first responsibility of government is to provide for the security of the people. To the extent the U.S. has the ability to provide for the defense of the country, it would be a dereliction of duty not to do so.”

- Henry A. Kissinger, May 26, 1999

3/13/2006 08:52:00 PM  
Blogger desert rat said...

The Iranians Scud capacity
Approximately 150 Scud-C with 500km range and 700kg payload.
Up to 200 Scud-B with 300km range and 985kg payload

Even with conventional explosives an average payload of 850 kg creates quite a bang.

But do not worry, rufus is sure they'll all misfire, well most of 'em anyway.

3/13/2006 08:57:00 PM  
Blogger sam said...

Don't forget about the silkworms.

3/13/2006 08:57:00 PM  
Blogger 2164th said...

For those interested in comparing Iranian missile strength in relation to other military powers. http://www.missilethreat.com/missiles/index.html

3/13/2006 08:58:00 PM  
Blogger Pierre Legrand said...

Does anyone here have any opinions about Yousef Bodansky?

In defense of the Presidents view of Islam. We don't know what his view on Islam is...we know what he does for the camera but we also know he has put our armies directly into the center of ME. I suspect they don't view this kindly.

Pierre

3/13/2006 09:03:00 PM  
Blogger sam said...

Thanks 2164,

I like the US list.

3/13/2006 09:06:00 PM  
Blogger 2164th said...

Pierre since you asked.......If bin laden had suit case nukes, I expect he would have used them. I am perplexed that we never saw them use any stingers.

3/13/2006 09:09:00 PM  
Blogger desert rat said...

That's why so many people think of it as a War.
There are a lot of people that we are threatening to in the Region.
Some of them have been at War with US since 1979. While we are encouraging a Unity Government in Iraq, we are actively discouraging a Unity Government in Palestine.

Not all Islamic Democracy is treated equally. If Hezbollah makes major gains in Lenanon?

Mr Hart thinks our Bases are ripe targets, from Iraqi Militias, I think not.
But from a missle exchange with Iran?

3/13/2006 09:11:00 PM  
Blogger 2164th said...

By the way Pierre , I re-read your 4:06 posting and it is sobering.

3/13/2006 09:13:00 PM  
Blogger desert rat said...

pierre'
Is that baby ever goin' grow?

3/13/2006 09:15:00 PM  
Blogger Pierre Legrand said...

In regards to the theory that Saddam was being fooled by his armies/scientists about WMD's. Someone please explain why they would do such a thing considering how absolutely paranoid Saddam was about plots and what the result would be for anyone doing such a thing. I know this has been tossed out there by various bloggers since we ended up losing the WMD's by our slothfulness in going to Iraq but its irrational. Never made any sense to me and would appreciate someone explaining the rationale.

Pierre since you asked.......If bin laden had suit case nukes, I expect he would have used them
So you don't think he has any credibility then?

Pierre

3/13/2006 09:17:00 PM  
Blogger 2164th said...

Pierre,
I do not know. That is such a huge un-proven (thank God) allegation. What does he do for an encore?

3/13/2006 09:21:00 PM  
Blogger 2164th said...

Hells Bells It's Time for me to log out. Good nite Belmonteers.

3/13/2006 09:25:00 PM  
Blogger sam said...

Here's something I dug up from Frontpage:

As the sun dawned on the Arabian peninsula, it was setting off New York harbor. At 8:31 p.m., more than 270 eyewitnesses saw streaks of light shooting toward TWA Flight 800. After a ghastly series of explosions, 230 innocent Americans careened into the Atlantic in a death plunge.

The next day, as terror expert Yousef Bodansky related, the Islamic Change Movement bragged in Beirut that it had “carried out [its] promise with the plane attack of yesterday.” In Qatar, KSM was delighted.

Saddam and TWA

3/13/2006 09:25:00 PM  
Blogger hamint said...

What Hart said is particluarly troublesome when it is understood that many former Democratic leaders like Hart, Clinton and Carter make these and similar statements primarily for partisan political purposes and cloak their remarks in the delphic solemnity of the elder statesmen. Or they all pontificate, like Clinton and Hart, before anti-US audiences in the Arab Gulf for $300,000 a session. Indeed, this week Hart is saying that an international task force should take over control of the Gulf itself (although it is unclear whether that is before or after the US Military is forced to retreat from Iraq).

3/13/2006 09:27:00 PM  
Blogger Dymphna said...

Although public attention remains fixed on Iraq, the focus may shift to the tribal areas of Pakistan and the border areas of Iran in the coming months. Even the political ground in the West has shifted, though I'm not sure in what direction. But the political hot buttons are still lagged. I wish we had a meme computing lead sight.

If you get one, I call dibs on looking at it first after you!

What really p.o's me is that since the DNC-MSM couldn't make the Vietnam deja vu meme work, they turned the kaleidoscope and have come up with civil war.

What will it be next?

Why do we allow them to demand instant solutions...it took us many more years than this to settle down.

3/13/2006 10:01:00 PM  
Blogger opotho said...

"Why do we allow them?", indeed!

3/13/2006 10:15:00 PM  
Blogger the mad fiddler said...

ding dang it can't log on.

3/13/2006 10:24:00 PM  
Blogger the mad fiddler said...

The NYTimes giving space for mentally enfeebled Hart is just redundant proof of the pathetic state of MSM journalism. I don't dismiss him for his age; he was an idiot in his prime. If you ever volunteered to work on a high-school dance you know everything you need to know about the Leftward types — they're happy to talk big, but you can't depend on them to actually deliver on anything.

Except for the backstabbing and sniping, the reluctant ones almost make it easier for the ones who see tasks and go ahead and DO what must be done. History will either ignore or rebuke them.

3/13/2006 10:37:00 PM  
Blogger sam said...

Myths of Iraq:

Claims of civil war. In the wake of the bombing of the Golden Mosque in Samarra, a flurry of sectarian attacks inspired wild media claims of a collapse into civil war.

Iraqi disunity. Factional differences are real, but overblown in the reporting.

Expanding terrorism. On the contrary, foreign terrorists, such as Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, have lost ground.

Myths of Iraq

3/13/2006 11:46:00 PM  
Blogger Topo said...

As a non american, I want US troops to stay in Iraq until Iraqi sunni and shiites transform the to corpses. When will US learn that they will never be able change the world they want to be.

3/14/2006 01:55:00 AM  
Blogger PeterBoston said...

Before you run off and sell your dollar assets you may want to look at a chart of the EU/USD cross over the past year or so. Against the very same conventional wisdom of a year ago the dollar literally crushed the Euro and many dollar traders got very, very rich.

3/14/2006 04:50:00 AM  
Blogger PeterBoston said...

topo

And I want for Indonesia, all of it, to some day actually enter the 21st Century.

3/14/2006 05:29:00 AM  
Blogger PeterBoston said...

"Civil war" is actually an upgrade to the sitzpinkler meme. Civil war moves the Iraqis from empty-headed, powerless victims of the imperialists to people with thoughts and plans about their future and the robustness to try and make it happen. Anything that moves the Conversation closer to the truth can't be bad.

We always hear about Iranian influence in Iraq but never consider that ideas also cross borders. The contrast between Sistani as statesmen and Iran whats-his-name as idiot storyteller cannot be lost on the Iranians. It's certainily not impossible that the Iraq model of self-retraint, self-reliance and actual popular participation in the social outcome will not have a mullah corrosive effect in Iran.

3/14/2006 06:00:00 AM  
Blogger desert rat said...

pb,
I've been making the ideas migrate into Iran argument now, here at Belmont Club, for well over a year.
It is not something "never considered" by "We".
So perhaps you should speak for yourself.
'Cause you are way behind the "We" curve.

3/14/2006 07:37:00 AM  
Blogger PeterBoston said...

Thanks for the heads up rat. I must have missed it with the quick cut to the failure to catch bin laden scene.

3/14/2006 07:50:00 AM  
Blogger desert rat said...

The War is with Osama and his aQ, that's the Law.
Now that we have the General President on the Offensive, at least for a while, the 1st Mohammedan War is back on track, with proxies.

The 2nd Mohammedan War is going very well. So well in fact it's been won. Proof of that was just announced, the Brits will withdraw 10% of their contingent, in May.

US troops will not be far behind.

The UN has requested air support for the 3rd Mohammedan War. A War to save Black, "Religion of Peace" Muslims from Arab Mohammedans.
Who will answer the UN's call for help? Doubt it's the French, Germans or Russians. Nor the Chinese or Indians.
The 3rd Mohammedan War, Darfur is all tee'd up, well before Iran.
They just need a little air to ground support.

Then we can begin to formulate the 4th Mohammedan War. The biggest of the bunch.
While I do not beleve the US will find itself in a Somolia X's 10,000 scenario, I do think that Europe will see Francofada X's 10.
When push comes to shove, with Iran.

3/14/2006 08:05:00 AM  
Blogger PeterBoston said...

Hopefully we won't see the Leviathan in Africa - at least until everybody knows which side we're on.

3/14/2006 08:47:00 AM  
Blogger skipsailing said...

Topo,

My favorite marine has a folder on his laptop titled "Dead F*cks"

I'm looking forward to his inclusion of your picture.

If of course you've got the nerve to travel to Iraq and shoot at a marine that is.

3/14/2006 08:56:00 AM  
Blogger david bennett said...

The opinion of Democrats is of little relevance at this point. Yet you treat the comment of one of them as the big deal, not Mr. Rumsfeld who said last week the US would not intervene in a civil war in Iraq.

This is not Democratic policy, it is currently the stated policy of the ruling Republicans.

3/14/2006 09:14:00 AM  
Blogger desert rat said...

There is only one Federal Government, david, regardless.

US Policy is always scittish of "Civil War". Where ever the Government does not wish to be involved is labeled "cvl war". When ever the "Loyal Opposititon" wish to disengage from a War, it becomes "Civil" in their rhetoric.

It is a US trait, regardless of Party.
But, in all reality, Iraqi President Talabani has always called the entire OIF an US entry into an Iraqi Civil War. From the very beginning,
I figure he should know, best. Better even than Mr Rumsfeld, who gets his knowledge second or third hand, at best. Mr Talabani lives in Iraq, he's the President, there.

3/14/2006 09:34:00 AM  
Blogger desert rat said...

That requirement would have kept US out of Iraq, pb.

I mean, tell me, whose side are we on over there now?, but our own.

If Mr Bolton going to the UN means anything, it means now that Kofi requests military aid, it arrives.

Mr Bolton and Mr Bush have both mentioned NATO. In all reality, we are NATO. The Belgians were in Rwanda, a repeat of that stroyline is not needed in Darfur, is it?

It was all Mr Rumsfeld could do, to get NATO to deploy to Afghanistan, Darfur will be to big a bite, for them, I bet.

A 13,000 man Expeditionary Force to supplement the AU, from the EU & Canada, not likely.
Bring in Nepal and their professional soldiers.
Build a "new" Flying Tigers, with A-10's and Cobras, even old Heuys.
Obsolete, perhaps, but all still effective tools, in the hands of civilian or foreign proxies.

3/14/2006 09:47:00 AM  
Blogger PeterBoston said...

Iraq is not in Africa. A map of the Middle East says everything that ever needs to be said about the strategic value of neutering it if not turning it.

Mogadishu is the African model. If the rules of engagement prevent you from shooting the thugs that commandeer the aid goodies or providing air or armor to your troops already engaged in combat, then the Leviathan must have no part in it. Not today. Not tomorrow.

Special Ops with bags full of money can dig wells, install solar refrigerators, and coincidentally field private air forces to improve the gene pool.

3/14/2006 10:31:00 AM  
Blogger Buddy Larsen said...

In a burst of body-part links, here's some thread-topical Hart and Peters:

3/14/2006 11:20:00 AM  
Blogger Buddy Larsen said...

hey, topo, just read your post--don't you have anyone to thank that you're not working for free in a Tojo salt-mine?
Nah, didn't think so.

3/14/2006 11:48:00 AM  
Blogger Evanston said...

2164th's remarks about the UAE putting its reserves in Euros shows a focus on details, but not the big picture. The sale was meant to send a message, and you bought it. The actual impact is negligible.
Desert Rat joins 2164th in useless speculation about Iranian missiles. You refer to Roggio's article and compare them to your pre-dug tank ditches in Korea. Regarding Roggio's article, I was working logistics at Balad (LSA Anaconda) in 2004. There may be 30,000 people there, but : soldiers are not standing around in formations. It's a big, big base, folks. Anti-shrapnel barriers and sandbags ring every tent, living/office container, and building. Iranian missiles definitely have large payloads, but a single missile would only kill as many as an IED. I would absolutely LOVE IT if the Iranians tried missile strikes. Our air strike capability in theater is quite impressive. Problem is, the Iranians are too smart to pick a direct fight with us. Much better to supply IEDs indirectly. And Rat, don't think we haven't done a lot about the IEDs. I was working the issue in 2004-2005 and will shut up to remain UNCLAS.
The more likely scenario is an air strike by Israel on Iranian nuke enrichment facitilies and a counter-missile strike at Israel. Followed by a small uprising in Iraq (Baghdad and the usual trouble spots).
Recommend you both read the Strategy Page reference provided in Wretchard's comments regarding the declining number of US casualties and the increasing role of the Iraqi forces.
Rat, you in particular know the difference between laymen's trivia and real military knowledge. Look at the big picture. The trends in Iraq all continue well for transition to Iraqi governance. 2164th, I look forward to an update on your dire predictions at the end of this year.
Regarding Opotho's wish that we "had an intimate knowledge of the culture" -- we don't need to. It is enough to know that Iraqis understand it best. With the nation in a 3 way split, the parties are realizing that THEY need to curry OUR favor, not vice versa. 2006 started well and we'll see a visible U.S. drawdown and ever-increasing U.S. power behind the scenes.

3/14/2006 12:59:00 PM  
Blogger desert rat said...

evanston,

I have no doubt that the installations in Iraq are designed well.
I have little doubt that a Scud, really just a modernized V-2 rocket, with a ton of explosives is not the optimum weapon.
If the US were to instigate a War with Iran, or had Israel act as a proxy in the endeavor, the Iranians will attack US troops, in Iraq, directly. IMO
The ball will be rolling, as the Iranian Minister said last week.

We may disagree on the scale of Iranian response, evanstan, and you may well be right, but if the Iranians react as if it is a real war, those bases could well be targets. Along with a whole host of other kinds of facilities, worldwide.

Well you may relish an Iranian missle assault on US Facilities in Iraq, I doubt General Pace or Mr Rumsfeld do.

To the degree the Iranians would be successful, depends upon their real Goal and the scale of US response.
If we had already started the dance, how much further would we escalate, in retaliation to conventional weapons counter attacks?

3/14/2006 01:44:00 PM  
Blogger desert rat said...

It will be a Propaganda War, a tit for tat battle. The Iranians will not reach for the proxy, the "little satan".

The Iranian know, in their hearts, that we are not driving to Tehran.
They could be wrong, as Saddam was, but that is what they KNOW.

We hit their buildings and installations, they hit ours.
Even up in the Propaganda Wars.
Which story will play on FOX News?

If you are fighting the Great Satan, if you're even percieved as not losing, you're winning.

The Iranians will not fight our Proxies, Hezbollah and Hamas are there for that little fight.

3/14/2006 01:53:00 PM  
Blogger Buddy Larsen said...

Over and over I get the signal that means the most (to many of us old farts in our rocking chairs), that the guys on the front have the most confidence of all.

Since they're who're reporting to CiC, that's maybe why we should listen to CiC.

The lefties know all this, of course--that's why the continual non-stop "he's a liar".

3/14/2006 01:59:00 PM  
Blogger skipsailing said...

As for the propaganda war it seems to me that this fight is well engaged.

Iran makes the news every day. if the iranians themselves or the EU don't generate the news then prominent members of the Bush admin are making statements.

We are seeing the groundwork for this propaganda battle now. To me the cartoon Jihad was a great gift as it help expose the mentality of radical islam.

Ahmenidjad is also a great weapon in the current war of words as his inflamatory speeches reverberate through out the western world. He's the howard dean of the Mullahcracy.

This admin is working hard to show the world the nature of the Iranian regime, the breadth of thier evil and the scope of any potential threat.

There are, I believe, two underlying goals: first to heighten awarness of Iran's threat, thus lessening the abreaction to a military response and next to seperate the Mullahs brand of Islam from vast multitude of muslims.

I read somewhere that amateurs talk about strategy and tactics while the pros focus on logistics. Looking at a map of Iran's neighborhood it certainly looks like the pros got it right.

3/14/2006 02:06:00 PM  
Blogger desert rat said...

Right buddy
Mr Bush, "liar"
Mr Clinton, "rapist" "Perjuror" "woman abuser"
Mr Bush, "no vision" "Read my Lips"
Mr Reagan, "amiable duence"
Mr Carter, "Mr Iranian sitzspinkler"
Mr Ford, "King of the Stumblers"
Mr "Tricky Dick" "Peace w/Honor"" Nixon.
"Hey hey LBJ how many babies you kill today!"
Drove LBJ from office.
"Catholic Jack"

3/14/2006 02:13:00 PM  
Blogger Alexis said...

Wretchard:

I think a good analogy to 1990’s Serbia is present day Iran. Like Serbia then, Iran has an opposition that says “if only we had more time, more support from the West, more this that and the other thing...". And yet, it is that very opposition that keeps the United States from attacking while the vaunted revolution against the regime never comes.

The question is – did Serbia’s revolution come about because of American bombs? Or – did Serbia’s revolution come about because the Clinton Administration figured out that Serb revolutionaries were only going to succeed with outside support? This question is relevant now.

I know, because I was once in a position vis a vis Serbs that Michael Ledeen is now vis a vis Iranians. I wanted to give the Serb opposition support and more time, but in the meantime atrocities continued in Bosnia and Kosovo. Michael Ledeen and Iran's Crown Prince may plead for more time, and Iranian dissidents may say that our confrontation with Ahmadinejad is only turning him into a hero. But the fact remains that the Iranian regime continues to egg on terrorists in Iraq and does all within its power to incite a civil war in Iraq.

Michael Ledeen may be correct that we need to support Iranian dissidents now. But folks in Washington are either so enamored of our air supremacy that they refuse to comprehend that there are other forms of power, or they believe our enemies must be as rational as they are at the bargaining table. Although President Bush rhetorically supports revolution in Iran, anything like supporting a general (economic) strike in Iran seems to be out of the question.

I think one of the major motives of al-Qaeda (and Islamists in general) is ironically anti-Islamic. Just as the Milosevic regime thrived on anti-Serb hatred, Islamists seek to undermine any chance of genuine religious conversion because anti-Islamic hatred feed better into their absurd conspiracy theories. Serb Radicalism serves a similar function within Serbia that Islamism does within Islam – a fascist movement that promotes foreign loathing of its religion/ethnicity.

Air strikes now and revolution later? Or would air strikes only undermine chances that a revolution would favor us? (And remember, the Kosovo War probably has polarized Serbs against the West well after the Revolution of 2000.) This is why historiography is so important.

For the time being, the Bush administration's policy toward Iran mirrors the Clinton administration's policy toward Serbia.

3/14/2006 02:17:00 PM  
Blogger Alexis said...

About Darfur, remember what happened to Sierra Leone after Executive Outcomes cleaned up the place. The fact is, all it would take is an internationally funded mercenary force to liberate Darfur, and the Darfur crisis would get worldwide attention. Sadly, it would get that attention because it would be an illegal mercenary action and not because a genocide had been stopped.

Imagine what would have happened if the League of Nations were controlled by the Axis powers...

3/14/2006 02:21:00 PM  
Blogger desert rat said...

But alexis, what if it was a "legal" mercenary Army?

3/14/2006 02:24:00 PM  
Blogger skipsailing said...

Interesting posts:

DR, your list of anti presidential taunts illustrates one thing quite clearly: anybody in the white house is a target. So a good leader will weigh options and make decisions without giving a lot of concern to the anger of the people on the fringes. they are on the fringe and that's where they belong.

As for mercenaries cleaning up darfur I imagine that this would be a source of outrage for a brief time and then become the stuff of legends a la the seven samurai.

the purveyors of popular morality would have a field day I'm sure, but if the effort bore fruit, the people who were saved would understand how and by whom their salvation was achieved.

3/14/2006 02:56:00 PM  
Blogger desert rat said...

There was a change, little announced or noticed, in the make up of the UN Peacekeepes in the Congo.
A month or so ago, the Peacekeepers led a Congolese Army Bn against the Rebels, to good effect.
The new Peacekeepers were from Nepal, home of the Gurhka. During WWII they supplied over 250,000 troops to the Queens cause.

A 10,000 man sized force, with obsolete aircraft could represent the UN under NATO Command quite well, I'd think.
Just the size contingent the UN thinks they need. Nepal is a member nation of the UN, in good standing. It already is an approved supplier of Peacekeeping troops.

A "Legal" mercenary Peacekeeping Force.

3/14/2006 03:32:00 PM  
Blogger Voltimand said...

Evanston: quite impressive.

>>I would absolutely LOVE IT if the Iranians tried missile strikes. Our air strike capability in theater is quite impressive. Problem is, the Iranians are too smart to pick a direct fight with us.<<

I'm wondering if "picking a fight" with the U.S. would be the necessary move to trigger U.S. involvement. If U. S. airstrike capability is as threatening as you suggest, why wouldn't we (along with the Iranians) expect the U. S. to be hovering just over the horizon the moment our proxy (i.e., Israel) made its first move? And if so, why wouldn't it follow that preparations for an Iranian airstrike at U. S. installations in Iraq are already something to be expected.

In brief, if American involvement is something Iran can depend on as imminent, then Iran's plans have got to have included a countermove as part of the package of moves already in place.

3/14/2006 03:36:00 PM  
Blogger desert rat said...

Voltimand
exactly, Mr Bush has already stated an attack on Israel is an attack on US. That we'll defend Israel.

So why attack the "little & far" enemy when the "great & near" is easier to hit & that's who the fight is really with, anyway.

The Persians and Allah against US,
the Great Satan.

That must be the show playing in Tehran

3/14/2006 03:46:00 PM  
Blogger Voltimand said...

D-Rat, I'd forgotten that Bush placed the trip wire that far out.

Iranian jawboning--something people seem to have missed--has been long on bragging, boasting, muscle-flexing in the interest of establishing Iranian prestige in the international arena of "powers that mean something." Possession of nuclear arms seems very much motivated by a sense of third-rateness. Now, who would ever have thought Iran was a third-rate power? There was almost a whining tone early on: "Why can't Iran have nuclear weapons when other nations do?" That's the ticket: the withholding step-parent aka U.S.A is depriving Iranians of any sense of self-esteem.

Is there a 12-step regime we can recommend for deprived states starved for nuclear-supplied prestige?

Well, if evanston is right, Iran will get all the attention it can use.

3/14/2006 04:01:00 PM  
Blogger enscout said...

yes, opotho's "understanding our enemy's culture" sounds like something out of the DNC' '92-'04 playbook. When you think about it, why should we give a spit about their culture when it is they who should be doing everything in their ability to honestly understand & relpicate ours.

That, incidently includes our new friend tojo, who owes every modern convenience of the age that he enjoys to our western culture, not his. Unless of course he truly doesn't have a pot to pee in. In which case I say, tough sh**.

3/14/2006 05:47:00 PM  
Blogger Buddy Larsen said...

Yep, all presidents get smeared. Sometimes deservedly--when the smear has some truth in it--and sometimes not. But all times, it alters foreign policy--for better or for worse.

When the smear has more truth in it than not, and the consequent lack of trust restrains a president from doing stupid things, well, in those cases we the people are better off.

So it must follow that, when the smears are more false than not, then all the following hypotheticals will be the opposite, including the conclusion.

Anybody who thinks Ahmadinijad and his cohorts and allies aren't keenly aware of, and emboldened by, the relentless domestic attacks on the current officeholder, and are therefore more likely to err and push this brinksmanship too far, is either not thinking clearly or is a bunch smarter than I.

3/14/2006 07:10:00 PM  
Blogger Cutler said...

"In regards to the theory that Saddam was being fooled by his armies/scientists about WMD's. Someone please explain why they would do such a thing considering how absolutely paranoid Saddam was about plots and what the result would be for anyone doing such a thing. I know this has been tossed out there by various bloggers since we ended up losing the WMD's by our slothfulness in going to Iraq but its irrational. Never made any sense to me and would appreciate someone explaining the rationale."

The theory goes that his advisors had reached the point where they were afraid to tell him the truth. Wouldn't be the time it happened to a despot.

The latest line, however, is that he did not tell his advisors he was bluffing, and they were too afraid to tell him that the US would call his bluff...

3/14/2006 09:16:00 PM  
Blogger Subsunk said...

Who died and made Gary Hart CENTCOM?

3/15/2006 04:58:00 AM  
Blogger desert rat said...

Any more so then the Japanese were or could have been assisted by the Chicago Tribune in it's continued campaign against FDR?

Or the North Vietnamese by CBS and the Public antiwar protests against LBJ. Even by Mr Gene McCarthy's run for the Democratic nomination?

Or the Soviets by Mr Reagan's "Iran Contra" Congressional challenge.

Or aQ, when Mr Clinton was accused of "wagging the dog" with missle strikes in Sudan and Afghanistan.

The disharmony in the US is, at present and in it's near past, a constant.

Anyone engaged in power politics must take the Societial Realities to heart if they wish continued success.

Dick Morris writes on the situation as it applies to Mr Bush, today:
" ... George W. Bush is not lazy; he works hard at the job of president. But not at the job of regaining his popularity - perhaps out of an old-school belief that popularity is for elections. But this mistakes the nature of modern American politics - where popularity is for every day, and those who lose it are destined to twist in the wind. ... "

One can agree or disagree with Mr Morris, but his ability to "read" the Public and politics is at least comparable to Mr Rove's, when operating at his best.

To read Mr Morris, in his entirety Dick Morris in the NY Post.

3/15/2006 08:10:00 AM  
Blogger Buddy Larsen said...

I don't disagree, Rat. I just lament carelessness, that we throw away advantage on emotion and whim.

3/15/2006 08:37:00 AM  
Blogger Evanston said...

DR, thank you for accepting my comments in the spirit intended. Following up on Voltimand's question and your response regarding U.S. counters to an Israeli strike, the following apply:
(1) I never attended any briefings on this, which is a good thing. I'm free to speculate based on my limited background with OPLANs. (2) Israel would tip us off before a strike
(3) We definitely have targeting data on most Iranian missile batteries and storage facilities (4) Yes, policy is an attack on Israel is an attack on the U.S. but we wouldn't counter unless the Israelis specifically requested it (that is, they are getting hit, bad), or the Iranians try to hit us first as you indicated
(5) Generally, we would use missiles (that is, no overflight over Iran) in most cases so we have zero POWs. (a) If the Iranians don't attack our Iraqi bases, we'd start with a naval (carrier/cruiser mix) attack (b) If/when the Iranians attack our bases in Iraq, the USAF would launch some stuff.
Overall, time is on the side of the Iranians. Their goal is to develop nukes and international sanctions (if any) won't stop them. If the Israelis try, then you'll see the tit-for-tat you indicated except it would be an Iranian "tit" followed by at least a month of American "TAT." The Iranians would emerge with damaged facilities all over the place. The U.S. is highly unlikely to initiate anything, we've definitely exhaused our national will (but NOT our warfighting capability) in Iraq. The Israelis, however, are a wild card and I don't see Bush cutting their funding or support, even if they start something he doesn't like.
The most interesting aspect is the reaction of Iraqis. This is more a Persian vs. Iraqi scenario than Shia vs. Sunni, but it would still cause trouble for us. Probably akin to April 2004, a blip that causes the Cocoa Puffs to run low at some chow halls (that was my personal metric regarding how well our theater logistics was working!) and certainly lots of Iraqis would not want to back the Israelis. But the historic enemy of Iraq is Persia and this should not be underestimated. Different languages, different histories, "the other."
Returning to my comment about the Iranians being too smart to pick a direct fight, you must understand that they are surrounded -- nowhere to run. They know this, far better than anyone realizes. This is their underlying motivation for getting nukes.
It's all up to the Israelis...

3/15/2006 11:08:00 AM  
Blogger Alexis said...

desert rat:

Do you really think the UN would sanction the liberation of Darfur, with all of those oil contracts the Sudanese govt. has with its international protectors?

The Gurkhas fight well, but were they to be effective in Sudan, they would need to be active and not receive their orders from diplomats.

Any reasonably competent mercenary army could defeat the janjaweed and their allies. The problem is that the UN will never send troops into combat no matter what their composition.

The problem we've got here is that the only force that can effectively stop genocide in Sudan is one that flouts international law -- practically by definition. I suppose if the Security Council declares the events in Darfur to be genocide but then does nothing, there would be a huge loophole through which a privately funded (wink, wink) mercenary force could find themselves exempt from international outrage.

But I think a UN force cannot liberate Darfur because of the very nature of the United Nations itself.

3/15/2006 01:20:00 PM  

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