The Middle East Policy Council (MEP) held a meeting this Summer to discuss the subject, "Iraq, One Country, Many Wars."
I was a member of the panel.
The Middle East Policy Council (MEP) held a meeting this Summer to discuss the subject, "Iraq, One Country, Many Wars."
I was a member of the panel.
"..Pollack, who was a staffer on President Clinton’s National Security Council, said he didn’t give the AIPAC staffers any classified information. Pollack also said the information that Steve Rosen, AIPAC’s former director of foreign policy issues, is accused of passing on to a reporter could not have come from him. “I believe I am USGO-1,” Pollack told JTA on Monday, using a term in the indictment for U.S. Government Official No. 1. A second source, speaking on condition of anonymity, has verified the information. Neither Pollack nor the other unnamed government official — identified by sources as David Satterfield, a former deputy assistant secretary of state — has been charged with a crime. That has raised questions about the government’s case against Rosen, former AIPAC Iran analyst Keith Weissman and Larry Franklin, a former Pentagon analyst accused of passing classified information to the AIPAC staffers." A Federal prosecutor in the Eastern District of Virginia has indicted two former foreign policy analysts (Rosen and Weissman) at AIPAC (THE Lobby for Israel in Washington) and a fairly senior civilian staffer in the office of the Secretary of Defense (Franklin) for playing fast and loose with US government secret information. Among other things they are accused of passing it to a foreign country's diplomats (Israel, of course). Franklin, the staffer is accused of illegally disclosing the information to Rosen and Weissman. Satterfield (USGO-2 in the indictment) is now the Deputy Chief of Mission at the embassy in Baghdad. In other words, he is Khalilzad's deputy. Savor that for a moment. He is cited in the indictment for these three men as having given them US government secrets without authorization. Pollack (USGO-1) is the author before the war of a famous book which strongly made the case for war with Iraq. the arguments cited by him in his book are largely "exploded" now by exposure to "sunlight" in country wide investigations of Iraq. He has forthrightly said on TV that much of his argument was nonsense. He now works for the Saban Center at the Brookings Institute. Saban is funded with money from Middle Eastern sources. The director of Saban is Martin Indyk whose meteoric rise to power and ability to land on his feet after "setbacks" are legend in Washington. His career in Australian, and US Government includes service in the Australian equivalent of the National Security Council, followed by service at the US State Department, NSC, AIPAC, WINEP, as US Ambassador to Israel and now Director of the Saban Center. Quite a career! So, why weren't Satterfield and Pollack indicted as well as the other three? My conclusion, after talking to a number of people, is that they cooperated early and fully with the FBI in "nailing" the others, and were "immunized." Nevertheless..... Who is kidding who here? Pat Lang
"..Pollack, who was a staffer on President Clinton’s National Security Council, said he didn’t give the AIPAC staffers any classified information. Pollack also said the information that Steve Rosen, AIPAC’s former director of foreign policy issues, is accused of passing on to a reporter could not have come from him. “I believe I am USGO-1,” Pollack told JTA on Monday, using a term in the indictment for U.S. Government Official No. 1. A second source, speaking on condition of anonymity, has verified the information. Neither Pollack nor the other unnamed government official — identified by sources as David Satterfield, a former deputy assistant secretary of state — has been charged with a crime. That has raised questions about the government’s case against Rosen, former AIPAC Iran analyst Keith Weissman and Larry Franklin, a former Pentagon analyst accused of passing classified information to the AIPAC staffers."
A Federal prosecutor in the Eastern District of Virginia has indicted two former foreign policy analysts (Rosen and Weissman) at AIPAC (THE Lobby for Israel in Washington) and a fairly senior civilian staffer in the office of the Secretary of Defense (Franklin) for playing fast and loose with US government secret information. Among other things they are accused of passing it to a foreign country's diplomats (Israel, of course). Franklin, the staffer is accused of illegally disclosing the information to Rosen and Weissman.
Satterfield (USGO-2 in the indictment) is now the Deputy Chief of Mission at the embassy in Baghdad. In other words, he is Khalilzad's deputy. Savor that for a moment. He is cited in the indictment for these three men as having given them US government secrets without authorization.
Pollack (USGO-1) is the author before the war of a famous book which strongly made the case for war with Iraq. the arguments cited by him in his book are largely "exploded" now by exposure to "sunlight" in country wide investigations of Iraq. He has forthrightly said on TV that much of his argument was nonsense. He now works for the Saban Center at the Brookings Institute. Saban is funded with money from Middle Eastern sources. The director of Saban is Martin Indyk whose meteoric rise to power and ability to land on his feet after "setbacks" are legend in Washington. His career in Australian, and US Government includes service in the Australian equivalent of the National Security Council, followed by service at the US State Department, NSC, AIPAC, WINEP, as US Ambassador to Israel and now Director of the Saban Center. Quite a career!
So, why weren't Satterfield and Pollack indicted as well as the other three? My conclusion, after talking to a number of people, is that they cooperated early and fully with the FBI in "nailing" the others, and were "immunized."
Who is kidding who here?
"Today the differences reached the peak when Sistani dropped a bomb by rejecting federalism and thus rejecting the constitution of the Kurdish-Sheat alliance putting the current ruling parties in a difficult position."
The Sunni Arab members of the constitution drafting panel have refused to sign the document before it goes to the citizenry for referendum.
Now his eminence, the Ayatollah Sistani has cut the Shia heads of the SCIRI and Dawa parties loose over the issue of federalism. (Presumably he wants to be "grand guide" of the whole country, not a Shia enclave)
Others, more realistically, see that the Sunni Arabs are not going to "play ball" and that their chances of controlling the whole country are minimal even if they had direct Iranian support in the future.
For the sake of argument, believe that the referendum date has passed with much wiggling of purple thumbs in the Kurdish and Shia populations. The US government has declared the result "another stirring and moving example of the courage of the IRAQI PEOPLE." The running dog media have woof, woofed in response. The command in Iraq has declared that Iraqi troops are doing extremely well in working up to a level at which they can replace US troops. (I've lost track of what they call the command in Iraq these days. So little time, so many acronyms)
If the Sunni leaders do not accept the constitution as the "social compact" that Zal talks about, and the nationalist, Baathist, mostly Sunni Arab guerrillas don't accept it then, the war will go on with the goal of gradually weakening the Shia run Iranian backed government to the point that it fall of its own weight. There will be lots of sympathy and assistance from all over the Sunni Muslim World. The Sunni logic will be that we Americans have a poor "track record" for persistence and that eventually the American public will force withdrawal, and then it will be a new ball game.
LTG Petraeus and co. are building a "New Model Army" in Iraq. Who are these soldiers? Who are the new police? What is the percentage of them who are Sunni Arabs? Anyone who thinks that predominately Shia troops and police are going to do anything other than "fan the flames" of the rebellion by trying to operate in Sunni Arab territory is just kidding himself.
And what of the Shia? Moqtada al-Sadr is back, having made his point last year, and he does not want the country "federalized" either. Why Not? Well, he is a young man. Who knows what the future might hold for him?
The constitution? Irrelevant at best, destructive at worst.
What should be done? In the end we will have to take direct control of negotiations among the three contesting parties and give up a failed experiment in "democracy" building. If we do not do that ,then we face the prospect of an Iraq permanently at war with itself This place would be the focus of increased sectarian strife in the region. The additional risk of seeing a "rump Shia Iraq with a common frontier and interest in Saudi Arabia and Kuwait should be worrisome.
The Good People of New Orleans, South Louisiana and the Gulf Coast Deserve Our Help And Prayers. Think Of Them.
In Particular, Our Many Friends in Bay St Louis, Pass Christian, Gulfport and Biloxi Are In Our Hearts.
Pat and Marguerite Lang
For most of its long history the US Army existed without conscription (the draft). What is now the Regular Army was created by Congress in 1775. Colonial militia units began in the mid-17th century. Many of these units are now in the National Guard. In fact, some of the units of the Army National Guard are older than the oldest unit of the British Regular Army (The Coldstream Guards - 1660)
The first time the country drafted men for military service was in the Civil War (WBtheS). Both sides drafted them in that war. The US Army started drafting in 1863 just after Gettysburg. That draft lasted the two years until Appomattox. The draft returned in 1917 for about two more years. Then it returned in 1940 and continued until after WW2 when it was abolished and then re-authorized for Cold War purposes so that an army adequate to the task could be built. The draft then continued for around 25 years until it "went away" in the early 70s. Draftees were always primarily destined for the Army, but not always. Contrary to service mythology the Navy, US Marine Corps and Air Force all took people out of the draftee "stream" when it suited them.
How many years in all was it that the US had an Army made up partly of draftees and partly of Regulars? It looks like around 35 years to me. This means that for 35 years out of about 200, we had draftees in the standing army. For 165 years we did not have a draft, did not have draftees in the Army. What did we have? We had the militia (not drafted) and the Regulars (certainly not drafted).
The Regulars (in John Ford's phrase, "the 50 cent a day professionals in dirty shirt blue"). Who were these guys? The mythology of America has long held that they were ,as Wellington described their British colleagues, "the scum of the earth, enlisted for drink.." Oddly enough, British troops liked Wellington. Perhaps he had as few illusions as they. Scholarship has demonstrated that in the enlisted ranks American Regularas were always much the same, half immigrants (often with European military service) and half native born farmboys and "mechanics" as they were then called. The latter had enlisted because they had got tired of the farm or the factory. Some found the idea of soldiering "adventurous," or perhaps they just wanted to get away from "pa." (See Don Rickey "Forty Miles a Day on Beans and Hay" 1974) In the small Regular forces of the United States such men predominated until the Second World War.
These soldiers fought a lot. A close inspection of the history of the US will demonstrate that until the Second World War the Army (like the Marine Corps) was more or less continually involved in small scale warfare in between the big wars. The US Marine Corps played a prominent role in Haiti and Nicaragua but their very small numbers until World War Two insured that the Army would do most of the fighting. The Mexican War, the everlasting Indian Wars, the Boxer Rebellion, the Phillipine Insurrection, The Moro War, The Vera Cruz Expedition if 1914 and the Mexican Punitive Expedition, were only a few of the many expeditionary campaigns in which regular soldiers and their marine comrades carried the load. In those days there wasn't a lot of difference between the men in the two groups.
These soldiers lived a life apart from the civilian world. The junior enlisted men (the great majority) all lived in barracks. The government fed them, clothed them, housed them, treated their illnesses and wounds, punished them and paid them. When they became too old to soldier, the enlisted soldiers could take up residence at the "Old Soldiers Home" in Washington and live out their days among old friends. While in service they were not allowed to marry until they became sergeants and then only with the agreement of their commanding officer. They drank when they got a chance, whored as opportunity presented itself and smoked (the worst of all sins) when they had the makings. They played cards, often Pinochle, As Kipling said of his own, "Single men in barracks, they ain't no plaster saints." Not boy scouts, not at all, but they sure did fight.
The Second World War changed all that. From the beginning, a new army was built that numbered in the end 12 million and which deliberately was made to reflect the modern, industrial nature of American society. Unit identities were downplayed. Soldiers were treated as though they were inter-changeable replacement parts in a giant attritional machine. This was a machine that was fed live bodies at one end and which produced dead bodies at the other. Leadership became sloppy and lazy because the draft always produced more human material The fine art of leading soldiers became much less important. This model army produced victory in WW2 in a struggle which had massive public support and which could be waged as a quasi industrial project against outnumbered and outproduced enemies.
The system began to falter in Korea in a war to which a lot of Americans were less committed. Without public commitment the fighting spirit of drafted soldiers rapidly erodes. Vietnam finished off this model army. It was clear by 1972 (when I returned to VN for the last time) that line US troops remaining in country were no longer reliable. Elite American units (professionals) were still what they had always been but line brigades of infantry were "finished" and needed to be withdrawn from combat as soon as possible.
In reaction to this institutional disaster, a new force was built on the principle of voluntary service in the ranks and the imposition of progressively higher standards of health, physical condition, intelligence, education and behavior. An important part of this program was the insistance on middle class standards of morality and the retention of people who conformed to those standards in terms of family life and responsibility. This re-build of the force was largely succesful after some early problems. The politically necessary decision to have a large number of women soldiers resulted in the phenomenon of a plethora of single mothers in the ranks, but the system adapted to that by insisting that they conform to all the rest of the system's standards. The Regular Army that we have today, the people whom you see on TV news every night are the products of that system. They are, in many ways, more representative of their fellow Americans (except the rich) than any other Army we have had. Why? Because they were recruited to be that way.
Rumsfeld and company claim to like that Army, but are about to do things that will change its inner content and nature immensely. What are they going to do?
The US Army has an old, old tradition of garrison life in large military communities in which units live together on Army posts which are essentially self contained towns. It is a tradition peculiar to itself and not present in European armies. This tradition is derived from the experience of the frontier in which Army posts were self contained because often there were no towns. It is the normal Army way of life, and within those communities families can be raised and a semblance of normal life maintained. After WW2 the Army took that tradition overseas with it, and has maintained it ever since. It still does. When the 1st Armored Division deployed to Iraq, it deployed from its German garrisons. Its families stayed there in their homes, its children continued to attend the same schools with the same kids and teachers. When the division returned from Iraq, it returned to its homes, wives, children and neighbors in Germany. This is the stability needed to attract and hold the kind of representative Americans who now man the Army. Marines come from a different tradition, derived from life aboard ship in small detachments often gone on long deployments. Marines are somewhat different in their psychology, but I am talking about the Army of today, to some extent of the enduring culture of the Army.
Rumsfeld and company plan to change the basic pattern of Army life to something very different. They intend to withdraw the Army to US bases where the force will be divided into the smallish BCTs discussed here yesterday. Having done that, they intend to create small, bare bones bases in Eastern Europe, Africa and similar isolated places where no families will be allowed, where there will be minimal creature comforts and the troops can "concentrate" on training and soldiering without the "distraction" of dealing with family life. BCTs would rotate from permanent stations in the States to forward bases like these every couple of years for six months at a time. In other words a life of repeated and routine separation from family would be the norm.
The marines pretty much live like this at present and always have. Their long time presence in strength in Okinawa was typical in a life often unaccompanied by family members. Their routine deployments on board ship for six or eight months at a time create a "monastic" spirit which is reflected in many ways in their thinkiing.
US Army troops in Korea have been there without dependents since the end of the Korean War. This experience is so "out of tune" with the tradition of Army life that duty in Korea has been loathed by generations of Army people.
What will be the result of a transformation in social patterns as radical as this? Well, it may take a while, but the middle class, family oriented people who have been carefully and deliberately recruited for the past thirty years will gradually leave. They will stop re-enlisting. They will retire early. Junior officers with young families will resign and find something else to do, something where they can spend time at home.
The soldiers who will people the Army after the family men depart will be people for whom soldiering is more important than family. The resulting force will be more like the Airborne, more like the US Marines, more like Special Forces. They will be more like the "old breed," John Ford's Army. They will be more consciously apart from civilians. They will be closer to the "ideal" of "warrior." Their units, their traditions and their craft will be all important to them. They will be superb fighters.
I wonder if America will be comfortable with them.
There are some really serious things going on in the United States Army.
The Army is a unique institution. It is part federal and part state. It has always been an institution close to the people. It is the oldest of the Armed Forces.
It is now experiencing a transformative period so profound that it will result in a very different Army from the one that was re-built after the end of the searing experience of the Vietnam War and the hostility which the Army as an institution received from much of the American people.
The post VN War Army was re-built as an army of volunteers, of family people, essentially middle class and oriented toward middle American "family values." Standards were made high for enlisted soldiers, and the force that emerged was filled with people who represent "mom and pop" America. The combat arms came to be more filed with Caucasians from small cities and rural areas. Anyone who looks at the pictures of the fallen in the news knows that to be true. Smoking and drinking were strongly discouraged. Drug use was virtually stamped out. Sexual mores reminiscent of the Victorian Age were enforced to the point of absurdity.
That Was Then:
Now, in the age of Rumsfeld, we have a very different thing emerging. I have pieced together my understanding of what is happening and would like to offer my observations. These are informed by my 27 years in the Army and my military education as represented by diplomas from the Command and General Staff College and the Army War College. I welcome informed comment.
Firstly, the Army is being made into a light force in which its primary combat units will be lightly armed Brigade Combat Teams (BCT) of about 3000 infantry soldiers rather than the 15000 to 17000 soldier Divisions which now exist (DIV). These divisions contain a great many more troops divided into a number of functions.
A typical division today contains: three ground maneuver brigades (tanks and infantry) , one artillery brigade, one aviation brigade and a large number of supply, maintenance, signal and othr support units. This is a potent force which can sustain itself in the field logistically for a long time and which has a lot of built-in firepower with which to defeat enemies who have something other than IEDs, car bombs and rifles with which to fight.
In Rumsfeld's Army the force will be made up of many small BCTs in which there will be little in the way of organic (built in) artillery and tanks.
Artillery is the big killer on the battlefield. Artillery (with guns of caliber above 100mm) can fire day and night with great dependability and accuracy at targets so distant they can not be seen from the guns, and unlike aircraft are available all the time. In Rumsfeld's Army there will be much less artillery.
Tanks. Rumsfeld evidently does not like tanks. He thinks they are too heavy, too expensive and an example of the kind of "old thinking" that he is trying to get rid of. He thinks this in spite of the fact that the Abrams tank was an indispensible element in the ligthning advance to Baghdad and the additional fact that our troops in Iraq would be severely endangered in the absence of tanks. In Rumsfeld's "New Model" army the armored vehicle of choice will be the "Stryker" wheeled armored vehicle. This is essentially an "armored car." Any Tanker wil tell you that a "Stryker" is a poor substitute for an Abrams Tank.
Army Aviation. Rumsfeld thinks there is too much of this as well. It is too expensive, too maintenance dependent, and requires too much cubic space in shipment by aircraft to be as deployable as he would want.
Bottom Line: Rumsfeld brought Chief of Staff Peter Schoomaker back from retirement to implement this concept. Schoomaker is a Special Operations Forces officer whose greatest achievement during his career was to command the Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC). This is America's SWAT Team. Light troops, lightly armed with no tanks or artillery. They are used in air deployments overseas in small groups for short periods of time against lightly armed terrorist forces.
Get the connection? The right man in the right job.
At the same time, Rumsfeld is re-making the leadership of the Army in the same way by personally vetting all senior officer promotions and assignments. He interviews them himself. This is unheard of. Well, you can be sure that there will be no more men like General Shinseki to trouble him.
What's the problem with this whole makeover? Is this not the age of superior technology and intelligence in which the civilian academic's theories and dreams of small forces, acting on perfect intelligence, in "surgical" attacks dependent on perfect technology has come at last?
No. We could be defeated in some future struggle.
Enemies embarrassingly do not do what you want them to do and often show up for the party in awkward numbers.
As a rule, technology usually fails at the most difficult moment possible and the more advanced it is, the more likely it is to fail.
Intelligence analysis is never perfect. It is always done perforce on the basis of incomplete information and therefore is always at least a little wrong. This usuually leaves the "grunts" holding the bag for its flawed predictions.
We will be OK so long as we don't fight any enemies who are; numerous, who continue fighting for long periods, or who have tanks or artillery.
Let's think twice before we take on someone like Iran, China or North Korea.
There is another whole side of this story in the effect that Rumsfeld's plans for re-positioning the new force will have on the people of the Army. Tomorrow, maybe.
|Senior Iran cleric hails “Islamic state of Iraq” Fri. 26 Aug 2005|
Tehran, Iran, Aug. 26 – A senior Iranian cleric welcomed on Friday the establishment of an Islamic republic in Iraq and hailed the country’s new constitution as one based on “Islamic precepts”.
There has been contiinuing debate as to whether or not Iran has played a purposeful and cunning role in luring us into our present predicament.
This ought to have some effect on that discussion.
Before the Iranian "election" (in which Jannati and his colleagues chose the candidates), we were assured by the members of the Wolfowitzian school of Neo-Orientalist Jacobin political philosophy that Iran was a country "on the cusp" of a pro-Western revolution against Jannati and his associates. We were assured by various scholars at AEI and analysts at the major media that YOUTH stood ready to cast down the Mullahs so that YOUTH could emerge into the sunny highlands of modernity.
Jannati seems unaware of his recent defeat.
Jannati is pleased with the progress of our de facto program of de-secularization in the ME.
Further thoughts on David Brooks' appearance last evening...
It is amusing that David Brooks and his Jacobin pals have become big fans of the need to adapt Western ideas of Democracy to the conditions of local culture and tradition that prevail in Iraq. (and maybe the Greater Middle East [GME]?) It was not always so. Until it became evident recently that Iraq was in the process of devolution into geographically bounded ethno-religious communities, the Jacobin neocons had little interest in local culture. What they had was a great deal of interest in general principles of political philosophy which they identified with "progress." Regional experts were notably absent from their councils except for "house experts" like Harold Rhode and the ex-ambassador to Morocco who explains the GME on Fox.
Douglas the Feith famously was quoted in the New Yorker magazine a few months ago as saying something to the effect that "it is a shame that experts on the region know so much and understand so little."
I represent that remark.
"Orientalism" was the name of a now out of fashion tendency in Middle East focused scholarship. It dominated the field for a couple of hundred years. In that way of thinking, the general obsession was to study, catalog and more or less "worship" the uniqueness, richness and generally photogenic qualities of alien cultures, the more alien the better. Orientalist writers, artists, curators, professors, etc. regretted deeply any trend toward modernity or attempt to change these cultures. The practical needs of the peoples of the region and the suffering and unrealized potential of individuals held down by local tradition never seemed to bother them much.
The whole premise of the Bush "crusade" in the GME was to break up the cultural matrix of the Islamic World and re-make it into something different that would not feel itself to be apart from the "Globalized World Culture" (read Western Culture). The belief was that if this could be done, then Muslims would stop being vulnerable to recruitment by Jihadi movements. That was what the code word "democratization" was all about. The Muslims understand this to be true and that is why one hears all this raving from some of them about "Infidel Constitutions," "Crusader invasions," etc.
There is and has been a lot of talk about our respect for other peoples' cultures even while we clearly intended to cut the guts out of those cultures and replace them with plastic tubing. What did the Jacobins and Bush people intend to leave of the indigenous cultures? Folk dances and Shish Kebab?
But now we have a change!!
In the aftermath of the collapse of the WMD, Saddam-AQ alliance, and personification of the struggle (Zarqawi, etc.) explanations of the war, the Jacobins have been pushing hard for "Democratization" which we are now assured (by them) was always what they were after.
Unfortunately, the Iraqis are not "playing ball" with our idea of how this was supposed to develop. Instead of "signing up" to the American fantasy that they are "all Iraqis together," and happily staging a re-enactment of Philadelphia in 1788, they are acting on the imperatives of their societies which are such as to make them a "clutch" of ethno-religious "nations." All of those "nations" share one thing. They are resolved not to do things our way.
Brooks and company have now gotten the word on this and so are "backpeddling" into a position in which they essentially say that we should be happy with having done all this with the outcome of having substituted one or more Islamic Oriental Despotisms for a single Secular Oriental Despotism.
After all, they say, it's their culture and their ways. If that was true and Saddam was not a menace to us.....
This evening David Brooks of the New York Times offered the opinion that in Vietnam our Army "At last" got it right at the end of the war and began to concentrate on what the French used to call the "oil spot" technique (tache de huile) in which one secures inhabited villages, towns, etc. and gradually expands the area of control into the spaces between until the oil spots meet and, voila! No more guerrilas. The French fastened on this method through the efforts of some very bright and creative French officers, most notably, Colonel Roger Trinquier as expressed in his masterpiece, "Modern War" (La Guerre Moderne) which was required reading in 1964 at the "US Army Special Warfare School's" "Counterinsurgency Staff Officer" course.
This theory worked quite well for the French in Indochina and Algeria. They essentially defeated the guerrillas in both countries, but lost the wars anyway. In Vietnam they lost to the main field forces of the Viet Minh who were a real army with regiments, divisions, uniforms, artillery, tanks ,etc. The French chose to fight their war on Indochina "on a shoestring" and in the big battles, like Dien Bien Phu, they were often badly outnumbered and outgunned. In Algeria, the French Army eventually pacified most of the country, but after a quiet couple of years, DeGaulle was elected and simply made the wise political decision to leave Algeria. He felt that the time had passed for such things as "Algerie Francaise." He was right.
Why do I know so much about the "oil spot" method? I know it because it worked for us also in Vietnam. I worked in the application of this method. I am not sure what year Brooks thinks was "at the end of the war," but from 1967 on the US was busily trying to apply this method under the major part of the US Mission called "Civil Operations and Revolutionary Development Support" (CORDS). This effort united USAID, military training groups at all levels, Agricultural, Educational, Civil Police, Medical, etc. all into one effort with a national, regional and provincial, and district planning and operations policy. I worked at the District and Provincial levels. This went on until US forces completed their withdrawal process under Nixon's Vietnamization Policy" in early 1973. I was on one of the last planes to leave. By that time most of the heavily inhabited areas of the country were pretty much under government control. How it is that Brooks thinks that we adopted this kind of strategy late in the war is a mystery to me.
Like the French the US faced the main battle forces of the Viet Minh as well as the local force guerrillas, and shadow government that CORDS was occupied with. After gaining control of Tonkin in 1954-55 the Vietnamese communists had renamed themselves as a national army and so we knew them as the North Vietnamese Army (NVA). It was the same army. The divisions and regiments which had fought the French at Na San in 1953 and Dien Bien Phu in 1954 fought us in our war. I remember talking to PWs captured by us who had actually been in the same units at DBP.
We brought our main forces into the country in the mid 60s to meet the very real threat to our early pacification programs posed by the introduction of the NVA regular army into South Vietnam. As a result our regular forces fought the NVA's regular forces all over the country and almost all the time out in the woods where the civilian population was pretty thinly scattered. In 1965-1967 it was "force on force" in the "Iron Triangle," "The Ashau Valley, "The Michelin Rubber Plantation" and similar places. The infamous My Lai case occurred in the course of an American unit's attempt to search a complex of villages which were thought to house the 48th VC Local Force Battalion. No one can deny that what resulted there was a grotesque crime perpetrated by a very poorly led unit.
From 1967 on the job of "heavy" US forces was to fight the NVA in SUPPORT OF the strategy that Brooks thinks was adopted "at the end of the war." People like me who were located in Vietnamese towns and villages out in the country depended for our lives on the shield provided by US Regular units who would come to our rescue if the NVA attacked in strength. That happened a lot since they were not happy with what we were doing.
Unfortunately for the NVA we (and the South Vietnamese) were neither outnumbered or outgunned. Throughout the period under discussion we had something over half a million men in country As a result, they found themselves in a losing situation in which they could rarely win engagements against our side if our main forces were engaged. The only situations in whch they could prevail were fights against isolated units and in particular against small groups of CORDS advisers and their Vietnamese allies in the border regions. How did we losein the end? Just like the French in Algeria. People at home just got tired of the whole thing and pulled the plug. After a couple of years of "peace" under the armistice of 1972, the North Vietnamese government decided to test the system and attacked and captured a provincial capital on the Cambodian border. It fell and the reaction of the US media and Congress was to immediately declare that under no circumstances would ANY assistance be given to the South Vietnamese. Collapse then followed. There were NO American forces or advisers in the country then. There had not been for a long time.
Is this Vietnam example applicable in some way to Iraq? Not really, not at present strengths in Iraq. In Iraq we do not have the forces to go out and provide the protection for isolated coalition "development" teams all over the country. Neither do we have the policy generated structure to provide integrated teams of experts to occupy a large number of towns on a permanent basis. If we want to do that we will have to organize such an effort and put it in in place. It will be a major additional commitment. At the same time we will have to remember that these scattered groups will be very vulnerable and will need the the prospect of reinforcement by US Army or Marine units within a couple of hours. All this implies a very different deployment, a different commitment, and a lot more troops.
Can we pacify the country that way? Yes, we can if we are willing to pay the price in assets and invlovement over four or five years. The answer is also dependent on whether the various Iraqi groups do not start "competing" to see who can ask us to leave first.
In the meantime, David Brooks needs do some more reading
"Matthews" Our hottest story tonight, the great escape. Using tool made from materials their own American guards allowed them, hundreds of Iraqi prisoners at Camp Bucca in Iraq almost pulled off a great escape, movie- style, by tunneling out of the prison. How did they pull it off? Tunnelling the length of a football field -- you`re looking at it now -- under the noses of their American guards. What does this tell us about the resolve, discipline and cohesiveness of these guys we are up against.
Patrick Lang is a former defense intelligence official who specialized in the Middle East and worked in Iraq.
MATTHEWS: Mr. Lang, I don`t know. We`re finally getting some answers tonight. The people we`re fighting in Iraq are overwhelmingly Iraqis. They`re the bad guys. They`re the members of the old regime, the hated murderous old regime of Saddam Hussein. But, as bad guys, they put together what looked like "The Shawshank Redemption" here.
Or maybe should I call it "The Great Escape" with Steve McQueen. How did they get the length of a football feel, 15 feet in the ground, with ventilating system, lighting systems, a sophisticated prison escape system and route?
PATRICK LANG, Former Chief of ME Intelligence, DIA: I think most of these guys who were involved in this are not at all from the jihadi side of things. These are guys who were once members of the Iraqi army, former Baath Party people, government people.
And when I used to travel to Iraq a lot during the Iran-Iraq war for the US Government, I was impressed that they had a lot of internal discipline and some of the officers showed initiative and knew a lot about engineering and things like this. So, I`m not actually all that surprised about this.
It is interesting that in a camp like this, they could still organize themselves into committees and plan the thing. And that there was sufficient discipline that they got all this done, almost to the end, before someone ratted on them. Somebody is always going to rat on you if it goes long enough.
But it`s quite amazing. And it tells you a lot about the fact that a lot of people we are facing are in fact remnants of what was once a pretty disciplined army. The fact that we beat them so easily doesn`t really mean much in the context of the Third World. But this really shows you the fact that they are -- they do have a lot of resolve to do whatever they`re going to do.
MATTHEWS: Well, the scary and the bad part is, we`re looking at what looks to be the innovation -- now, obviously, they didn`t get away with it -- but the enterprise in a negative sense of people who can work together in a cohesive unit and the kinds of things we see in them building this tunnel. We could also imagine them in the dark of night putting bombs together.
LANG: Oh, yes.
You know, if you look at what happened today in western Baghdad, there was an operation in which a group of about 40 of these guys in black uniforms wearing masks used a couple of car bombs to block off a street so that they could attack some police posts with machine guns, RPGs and rifles. And they slugged it out for an hour or so.
As Clausewitz, the German philosopher, said, war is the best teacher of war. And we`ve got these guys who already knew, some, quite a bit, in a hard school now. And we`re teaching them by beating the devil out of them all the time. And they`re steadily improving.
I mean, the jihadis don`t improve. They`re just going to come in and try to blow themselves up to go to heaven. But these guys, I think, who are 85, 90 percent of the insurgents, are learning steadily and will probably continue to get better at this.
MATTHEWS: You know, one of the confounding things, sitting here at this desk back in Washington and trying to get the information from the people in the field, I trust Richard Engel. He`s a young gutsy guy from NBC. I asked him again today. We are going to have a report from him tomorrow night on another subject.
But Engel tells me that the guys our troops are fighting over there, our men and women are standing up to, with the IEDs and everything else over there blowing us apart, when they can get with it sneakily, are all jihadists -- not jihadists. They`re all Baathists. These are guys who worked for Saddam Hussein and want the country back to do with what they want to do with it.
Why does the president keep issuing statements saying they`re terrorists; they`re the guys that came after us on 9/11; they`re from outside; we have got to stop them there or stop them here? Nobody has ever accused Iraqis of coming to America and attacking us. Why doesn`t the president say, we`re going after Iraqi insurgents and fighting them? Why doesn`t he -- why does he keep saying we`re fighting terrorists along the lines of the ones we had attack us 9/11?
LANG: Well, it has become a position of the administration to say over and over again that the insurgents don`t have any popular support. Now, you hear that over and over again.
I heard somebody the other day, just yesterday, say that, in fact, these people represent a minuscule portion of the Iraqi people. But, if you listened to Zal Khalilzad yesterday on television, he said the purpose of bringing the Sunnis into the constitution process is to split the Sunni population off from the guerrillas.
Now, you can`t have it both ways. It`s one or the other. And I think it is clear that the Sunni guerrilla, the Baathists, nationalists, whatever you want to call them, have a good deal of popular support, or they couldn`t exist. They have to have supplies and shelter and communications, intelligence, all that stuff.
So you`re right. There`s a great inconsistency with this. And we ought to get straight about this and admit what the truth is.
MATTHEWS: What did you think when you picked up the paper today, Pat, and you saw that tunnel in "The Washington Post" that the bad guys built over there, these insurgents who are in our prison detention camp, having the wherewithal, the materials, apparently, cinder blocks, milk -- they used the milk they were given, quite generously, you would have to say, by our people, our guards, to harden up the walls.
They used cinder blocks, obviously, also to sustain the walls. They got flashlights strung all the way through that football field length of tunnel. These guys are right out of "Great Escape` with Steve McQueen and the rest of them.
LANG: Yes, I didn`t want to offend any Steve McQueen fans, but that was what I immediately thought of, because the only way you could do something like this, is to have a quasi-military organization created by the prisoners that assigns creates a digging committee and a concealment committee and a this committee and a that committee.
And for all that to work inside the jail, where they could go to the American guards at any time and inform on the whole thing, indicates a military sort of organization with a great deal of internal discipline. And, you know, the only way they ever really found this thing initially was that a satellite photograph showed the color of the dirt in the compound was a different color from that outside, because the disposal committee was littering the grounds with this stuff.
So, I think this is an impressive thing, actually. What it says to me is that this is going to continue to be a tough fight. It is not going to be just a matter of the constitution going down easily. These guys are going to hang in there. They`re going to fight for a long time.
MATTHEWS: You know, Ken Adelman, the arms expert and Shakespeare expert, I must say -- he is a friend of mine -- made it very clear that the initial fight in taking over that country from the Saddam regime and chasing him out of town into a spider hole were basically -- was basically a cake walk.
And I think a lot of people don`t like that term because people got killed, but it was fairly quick and effective. Why were they so bad in defending their country against the onslaught by us and the other coalition forces and yet are showing such resilience in this guerrilla war that is being fought against -- or a civil war, if you will, that is emerging over there?
LANG: When I used to talk to their officers a long time ago, they used to say that the one thing they knew was that they could never fight the United States, that there was no possibility they could ever win against us, and that to try and do so was futile.
So, I really think that they didn`t really very seriously try to fight our main armored forces until they got into the area of Baghdad. And in the big brigade sized Thunder Runs down -- going downtown by the 3rd Armored Division, all of our hundreds of armored vehicles, every single one of them, had hits on them from anti-tank weapons.
But I think the main idea in this war from the Iraqi planning point of view was from the beginning a kind of stay-behind operation. In other words, that they were going to launch a guerrilla resistance once the country was occupied. So, I think there`s some method to all this. I think we were a little bit deceived by the ease of our achievement at the beginning.
MATTHEWS: Why do you think they stood up to us and refused to participate in all the demands made by President Bush and the other allies if they couldn`t beat us and they were that smart?
LANG: I`m not sure they...
MATTHEWS: And they may still be smart, but they weren`t smart enough not to avoid this war.
LANG: Yes. Yes. I know that.
But I`m not so sure that they saw it exactly that way, because, if you look at the records of what the international inspectors were doing on the ground in there, they encountered some delays and things of that kind. But, in general, if they asked to go someplace, they ended up going there.
As we know, in fact, the Iraqis didn`t have anything to hide in the way of WMD things, because we looked all over the country for it and we couldn`t find it. You know, it is really difficult to prove a negative, isn`t it?
LANG: If you`re going to try to prove you don`t have a nuclear weapons program and you don`t have one, it is pretty hard to prove that.
MATTHEWS: Do you think we`re winning this war against the insurgency?
LANG: I think that, if we want to wear these people down, the Iraqi nationalist Baathist insurgents, that we`re looking in fact at a campaign that will last six or seven more years, because it will require a process of grinding them down while the government is developed.
MATTHEWS: Thank you.
LANG: The jihadis are different, you`ll never beat them -- you`ll never beat them in Iraq. They are an international movement and will have to be defeated on a world wide basis.
MATTHEWS: Thank you very much, Patrick Lang."
August 24, 2005 FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE MIDDLE EAST POLICY Presents "The Third Option in Iraq: A Responsible Exit Strategy" The first detailed plan for a negotiated exit from Iraq, to be published in the September issue of Middle East Policy, offers a U.S. strategy for bringing representatives of warring Sunni and Shiite factions together to forge a comprehensive peace settlement. The article-the first to offer a clear alternative to the options of indefinite military presence and unilateral withdrawal-calls for the United States to use its leverage on the Shiite-dominated government of Iraq to press for serious peace talks with leaders of the Sunni insurgency. The negotiations would be aimed at halting the present spiral of sectarian violence, achieving conditions for Sunni reentry into the Iraqi political system, and establishing a timetable for withdrawal of American and other occupation forces. The author, Gareth Porter, is a diplomatic historian who has published analyses of efforts to negotiate conflicts in Vietnam, Cambodia, The Philippines and Korea. His latest book is Perils of Dominance: Imbalance of Power and the Road to War in Vietnam, published in June. Dr. Porter details evidence that some key insurgent leaders are interested in a political settlement. He suggests that peace talks focus on issues that have not been dealt with in the negotiations on an Iraqi constitution, including guarantees for minority rights on the most politically sensitive issues and a mechanism for bringing sectarian paramilitary units under joint Sunni-Shiite control. If Shiite leaders refuse such negotiations, Dr. Porter writes, the United States should seek to negotiate its own arrangements for a military settlement, including a more rapid timetable for U.S. withdrawal, with leaders of the Sunni insurgents. The article can be read on the Middle East Policy Council's website at . Dr. Porter can be contacted for media interviews at 703-532-0124 or 703-600-9057 (cell). Anne Joyce Editor Middle East Policy 202-296-6767
August 24, 2005
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
MIDDLE EAST POLICY Presents
"The Third Option in Iraq: A Responsible Exit Strategy"
The first detailed plan for a negotiated exit from Iraq, to be published in the September issue of Middle East Policy, offers a U.S. strategy for bringing representatives of warring Sunni and Shiite factions together to forge a comprehensive peace settlement.
The article-the first to offer a clear alternative to the options of indefinite military presence and unilateral withdrawal-calls for the United States to use its leverage on the Shiite-dominated government of Iraq to press for serious peace talks with leaders of the Sunni insurgency. The negotiations would be aimed at halting the present spiral of sectarian violence, achieving conditions for Sunni reentry into the Iraqi political system, and establishing a timetable for withdrawal of American and other occupation forces.
The author, Gareth Porter, is a diplomatic historian who has published analyses of efforts to negotiate conflicts in Vietnam, Cambodia, The Philippines and Korea. His latest book is Perils of Dominance: Imbalance of Power and the Road to War in Vietnam, published in June.
Dr. Porter details evidence that some key insurgent leaders are interested in a political settlement. He suggests that peace talks focus on issues that have not been dealt with in the negotiations on an Iraqi constitution, including guarantees for minority rights on the most politically sensitive issues and a mechanism for bringing sectarian paramilitary units under joint
Sunni-Shiite control. If Shiite leaders refuse such negotiations, Dr.
Porter writes, the United States should seek to negotiate its own arrangements for a military settlement, including a more rapid timetable for U.S. withdrawal, with leaders of the Sunni insurgents.
The article can be read on the Middle East Policy Council's website athttp://www.mepc.org/public_asp/journal_vol12/0509_porter.asp
Dr. Porter can be contacted for media interviews at 703-532-0124 or
Middle East Policy
"What they are doing is to go for broader level of support because of political considerations, because of the need to build consensus, because of the need to isolate the insurgency from the Sunni population." Khalilzad
Congratulations, Mr. Ambassador!!
It has been clear from the very beginning of the armed uprising in Iraq that the largely (but not altogether) Sunni Arab revolt could not exist, grow and continue to operate without some level of popular support.
A very simple and basic principle of insurgent warfare is that guerrillas have to have food, shelter, money, weapons, intelligence and a population which accepts their presence and does not report them to the security forces. That support or cooperation can be freely given, coerced, or some combination of the two.
The Bush Administration and the senior leadership of the US Armed forces has maintained throughout the war that the insurgents are:
-Baathist holdouts and "deadenders" who are not more than a handful and who are without popular support.
-Foreign and domestic mercenaries (often criminal) who are also without popular support.
-Iraqi Islamists (a handful) who have no popular support.
-Foreign Islamists smuggled in primarily from Syria (no support).
Right up until yesterday the egregious (but handsome) Dan Bartlett, White House Communications Director, was saying on the tube that those who are fighting the "progress of Democracy" in Iraq are a "tiny, indeed miniscule" percentage of the "Iraqi people."
In this context, the clear headed realism of Ambassador Khalilzad in telling Gwen Ifill of the Newshour that the new constitution must receive a lot of Sunni Arab support in order to "isolate the insurgency from the Sunni population" is highly significant.
What this tells us is that Khalilzad, and therefor probably the Bush Administration, has a much clearer understanding of the structure and numbers of the insurgencies than we had been led to believe.
I am not a big fan of Senator John Kerry. His behavior in the US after his return from duty in VN eliminated any possibility that I would ever support him for anything.
Nevertheless, the process of relentless, remorseless, cruel denigration of his character, military record and general "style" which was carried on by the friends of the president was despicable. They attacked his wife for her "foreignness." They attacked him for being able to speak French and being comfortable with his French relatives. They seem not to have known of Mr. Jefferson's opinion that "every civilized man speaks two languages, his own, and French." The assault on Kerry was reminiscent of the kind of fascist manipulation of the opinion of the masses that George Orwell warned us of in "1984." Now it comes again.
Senator Chuck Hagel of Nebraska is a Republican from a state filled with conservative, (not fascist) responsible citizens. Senator Hagel was once Sergeant (E-5) Hagel of the First Battalion, Forty Seventh Infantry Regiment, Ninth Infantry Division. He was a "grunt," i.e., a Rifleman and a leader of Riflemen in a war in which Riflemen spent an average of 240 days in actual combat out of a year's tour of duty. By contrast to this, Riflemen in the Pacific Theater of WW2, spent, on average, 40 days in combat during the whole war. In most wars, over 90% of all casualties (killed, wounded and missing) are absorbed by the Infantry. This was true in VN. The artillery does most of the killing in war, but it is the Infantry with their rifles and exposure to fire who are the great majority of the killed and maimed. Senator Hagel served with his brother in the same Rifle Platoon (44 men when I led one). I do not think that should have been permitted but there they were, together. The chance of their being killed together was considerable. Senator Hagel was wounded and decorated for his service and came home to continue to devote his life to the service of his countrymen.
Not surprisingly, Senator Hagel is still, and in some sense will always be, in Vietnam. An experience like that does not "go away." It becomes an enduring part of the fabric of life. Senator Hagel still lives, every day, with his comrades of long ago. I saw a C-Span progran recently in which a couple of people from the Library of Congress were interviewing him for his "oral history" of the experience of war. It was evident from watching his carefully controlled responses just how much it still means to him.
Senator Hagel has made it clear that he questions the wisdom of the strategic conception of the Iraq intervention, the decision to intervene and the execution of the war. It would seem to me that he has earned the right to have an opinion in this or any other matter.
What has been the reaction from the Republican Party and its "flacks?" The Kerry character assasination machine has evidently been re-activated. Yesterday I watched as a pretty boy 35ish yuppy political hack from the crowd of sycophants with whom the president has surrounded himself described Hagel (with a sneer) as "someone who has lost his way." He (the yup) went on to say that Hagel has no ideas worth listening to in the matter of the possible resemblance of the Vietnam War to the mess in Iraq. Actually, he said, Hagel no longer knows what the war in Vietnam was about.
Now, consider that. This kid was still crapping in his pants and crying for the pacifier when Hagel and his brother and Hagel's "boys" were fighting to defeat the VC/NVA in the outskirts of Saigon (Ho Chi Minh City) but he, from the depths of his marvelous intellect knows better what VN was "about." You can see where this is going. Are these swine going to spread the rumor that Senator Hagel was an agent and informer for the communist enemy in VN? That's what they did to McCain in South Carolina.
The Yups should be careful. Senator "Grunt" has friends.
"According to Kurdish and Sunni negotiators, the US ambassador, Zalmay Khalilzad, proposed that Islam be named "a primary source" and supported a wording which would give clerics authority in civil matters such as divorce, marriage and inheritance. If approved, critics say that the proposals would erode women's rights and other freedoms enshrined under existing laws" Guardian
How sad is that? The new constitution might lead to an erosion of "women's rights and other freedoms enshrined under existing laws." Under existing laws!! That means the laws of the Saddamist state that we destroyed in the name of human rights.
It should have been clear in advance that the removal of one tyranny in a context like that of Iraq would likely lead to another with the "players" re-shuffled. The new "management" of Iraq just has a different agenda than the old one.
Yesterday, on the parade of "heads" that is Sunday Morning TV, we had the chance to hear Professor Laith Kubba, now adviser to the former "Dawa" leader, Jaafari. Jaafari is now the Iraqi PM. Kubba is an American citizen who teaches at an American university and whose nuclear family lives in London. He was speaking yesterday as an Iraqi government person, "We are re-building our country," etc. Since I don't think he was talking about tornado damage in the Mid-West, I deduce that he meant Iraq. This dual citizenship thing is getting out of hand.
Under questioning, Kubba gravely, and with a straight face, told us all that under the law code that will be based on the new constitution, families will have the option to choose whether questions of family law; divorce, inheritance, propert rights, the independence of women, the age of majority in children, etc. shall be decided before the courts on the basis of a secular European based law code or on the basis of some version of Sharia (Islamic law either Sunni or Shia). I suppose the Sunnis could choose to have their cases decided under Hanafi or Shafa'i law and the Shia would choose otherwise.
I suppose it is possible that a government dominated by Shia Divines might accept that Christians and others could be judged on the basis of an essentialy irreligious law code. That idea hasn't worked well in other places run by Islamic zealots. Sudan and Afghanistan would be examples, but IT COULD HAPPEN.
Such people are small minorities in Iraq. The great majority are Muslims; Sunni (Arabs, Kurds and Turkomans) or Shia (Arabs). Are we really supposed to believe that a government under the influence of people who think that Islam is a "seamless garment" in which all aspects of life are properly subjected to the divine will, would accept to have MUSLIMS, who by definition have submitted to the will of God, decide their family life issues by CIVIL law?
Can it be that Laith Kubba believes that the Ayatollah Sistani would agree to having Muslims decide to have such cases judged on the basis of European law? Sistani has already told Jaafari that he "wishes" that no law should be made which conflicts with Islamic principles. We were also told yesterday by the speaker of the National Assembly that agreement had been reached on the principle that "no law shall be made which conflicts with Islam.." Today all will be made clear.
As for Kubba, one can only hope that he does not suffer the fate of so many liberal enablers of radical revolution. Exile.
"Shi'ite, Sunni and Kurdish negotiators all said there was accord on a bigger role for Islamic law than Iraq had before.
But a secular Kurdish politician said Kurds opposed making Islam "the" -- not "a" -- main source of law and subjecting all legislation to a religious test.
"We understand the Americans have sided with the Shi'ites," he said. "It's shocking. It doesn't fit American values. They have spent so much blood and money here, only to back the creation of an Islamist state. ... I can't believe that's what the Americans really want or what the American people want."
U.S. diplomats, who have insisted the constitution must enshrine ideals of equal rights and democracy, declined comment. " The Washington Times
Are we really going to accept a measure of responsibility for a constitution like that hinted at in the WashTimes story above?
Let us not kid ourselves, in a state which specifies in the constitution that laws must not "contradict" Islam, there will be profound change in the status of women, the status of non-Islamic religious groups, the status of what Americans think of as basic human rights. Iraq would be a profoundly different place under such a legal regime.
Why? It is because Islam is a religion which takes its form with regard to law on the basis of the collective opinion of Islamic jurists, not on any kind of fixed document like our "Bill of Rights." The majoritarian balance of power in the new Iraq will evidently be that of the "Twelver" or "Imami" Shia. This is the form of Shiism shared by both Iraqi Shia and Iranian Shia. "Twelver" Shiism functions on the basis of the opinions of certified wise men called Ayatollahs. There is great collegiality among these men whether they are in Iraq or Iran. The legal opinions of senior clerics either on the bench or standing "behind" it in Iraq will be deeply affected by the legal opinions of their colleagues in Qom and other places in Iran. That consensus now includes severe restrictions on the activities and status of women and minorities.
It is reported that Khalilzad, our ambassador in Baghdad, has been willing to compromise the rights of Iraqis, in his zeal to "close" on a draft constitution by tomorrow (22 August, 2005). If this is true, then we need an ambassadorwho understands what America is about and for what purpose our soldiers have suffered death and mutilation.
I have known Khalilzad for a long time. He was an advocate of the later withdrawn "Defense Policy Guidance" of the early '90s which advocated the pre-emptive use of American power around the world to "do good."
To accept a regressive constitution which legitimizes discrimation before the law would hardly be "doing good."
Democracy? If a constutution is adopted which makes the coming of an Islamic state in Iraq inevitable, then there will be no more "purple thumb" days unless they are approved by the "fatwa" of clerical consensus.
There is some thing strange about the case of Lieutenant Colonel Shaffer (USAR) and "Able Danger."
His story, accepted thus far by the media, is that he was working in some Army or joint job as a reservist on active duty in 2000. While there (wherever there was) he says he was instrumental in causing a small Army intelligence project named "Able Danger" to be placed at the temporary disposal of the joint headquarters for Special Operations (USSOCOM)in Florida for a training exercise. Before 9/11 USSOCOM was a headquarters acting as a center for advocacy for the development of concepts, equipment and forces for the Special Operations (SOF) community. It did not direct combat operations. USSOCOM had been created by Congress as an advocate for the SOF forces.
In LTC Shaffer's story the "Able Danger" project was a capability under development by Army Intelligence and Security Command (INSCOM) for the purpose of using computers, the internet and open data bases to "mine" information using software that had as its purpose a search for "links" or relationships between people and groups in all that data.
According to Shaffer, the project, in the course of searching for related persons connected to Al-Qa'ida, connected the dots among the four 9/11 hijackers and somehow related them to Brooklyn, NY. Why that connection to Brooklyn existed is not clear.
As the story goes on, the AD group, and possibly Shaffer, appealed to USSOCOM to release their results about the four to the FBI a year before the attacks in the US. Shaffer says that the Staff Judge Advocate (General Counsel) at USSOCOM and maybe DoD nixed that on the basis that these four characters were legal residents of the US whose right to privacy had to be respected and that this was the end of it until this year when the Navy asked for a revival of the project and he, Shaffer, looked at it again and felt upset about so little having been done with the results in 2000 and for that reason he, Shaffer, who now works at least part time at the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA), is making the rounds of the media to "expose" the situation.
LTC Shaffer also says that the 9/11 commission was told of the results of AD while holding hearings and did nothing with the material, in effect, burying it. The 9/11 commission denies this.
Shaffer also states that he has been in touch with "DoD leadership" in the last couple of days and implies that they have encouraged him in what he is doing.
He specifically mentions Steven Cambone, the Undersecretary of Defense for Intelligence.
This is all quite strange.
It is possible that a small scale research project of the INSCOM could have been loaned to USSOCOM and could have produced such a result, but people with access to the history of government activity at that time concerning AQ say that they know nothing of this project and have never heard of it.
It is possible that the lawyers at USSOCOM could have taken such a position based on lawyerly caution and exagerated concern for the welfare of their client, CINC USSOCOM. Lawyers seem to generally know the cost of everything and the value of nothing. Nevertheless, it is also true that if the CINC at USSOCOM had wanted to give the data to the FBI, he would simply have done so. What the lawyers would have been talking about would have been their collective opinions rather than a specific and clear statute and he could have simply ignored them. I know this from personal experience.
Lastly, what is a still acive US Army Reserve field grade officer doing running around giving briefings on TV and acting as a source for the "outing" of this or any other government program?
"Is a "puzzlement."" Anyone who can fill in any blanks or supply any dots, please do so.
"The major sticking points -- the role of Islam in determining Iraqi law, issues of self-rule and regional autonomy, and the sharing of oil revenue in a federal context -- put the goal of consensus beyond the reach of the governing coalition of Kurds and Shiites and the Sunni Arab minority. Yet a short delay while working on key disputes is far better than ramrodding through the National Assembly a constitution that would elevate clerical leadership to a political role in a future Iraqi society, and that would disadvantage women, especially in the area of family law" Fred Hiatt of the WashPost
A number of correspondents in Baghdad (where they mostly are) have commented since the delay was announced yesterday on the seriousness of this evidence of discord within the Iraqi "nation." The Washington Post editorial page evidently does not share this view. Too bad!
What the media corps in Baghdad is trying to tell people is that except for issues of government structure (1 president, 1 parliament, etc.) THERE IS NO AGREEMENT among the delegates to the constitutional convention in Baghdad on anything of real substance.
Why is that? Aren't they all IRAQIS?
No, they are not, not in the sense that those who ask that question mean. Just about all of them will tell you that they are "all Iraqis together." Such responses are a natural reaction to the potentially dangerous questions of outsiders, but we are supposed to be smarter than to accept such statements at face value. It is true that there are and have been a fairly large class of people in Iraq who became over the decades since independence in the 20's Iraqi nationalists. For these people community differences are less important than for the majority and for them, personal or community interests "rank" far below national interests, but they are and were always a minority, if a substantial one. Mr. Samara'i, a Sunni Arab, comes to mind. He describes himself as a "Sushi" because he is a Sunni and his wife is a Shia. There are many such. Unfortunately for their present influence on the process of government, most such people belonged either to the Baath Party (a secular Arab nationalist party) or to some similar group. In the presence of Shia religious party majorities in the political process, the effect of such people is minimal.
The majority of Iraqis are still more self-identifying with personal, clan, tribal and ethno-religious group interests than ahything else.
The Kurds are desparate to keep themselves as saparate as they can from Arab Iraq.
The religious Shia are busily trying to consolidate their power over as much of Iraq as they can while they still have American troop "cover" for their actions. If they can't do that then they have shown their intention to establish a separate "autonomous" zone in the south.
The nationalist Sunni Arab guerillas and tribals remain insistent on "national unity," but they and their secular friends in the other communities were always the main defenders of "Iraq" as an idea.
The Zarqawi led international Jihadis are in a separate category. They are fighting their own war for their own goals and have little to do with the Iraq political process.
TEN DAYS? I just heard NBC in Baghdad say that there are 50 major issues unresolved.
WHY? Simple. Iraq was a post-colonial "work in progress" in terms of "nation building" when we invaded it. It was a "jar of worms" in terms of having a sense of nationhood. We unscrewed the lid on the jar and the worms are crawling around according to their own agenda, not ours.
The geo-strategic geniuses like Zalmai Khalilzad should have know that. He has always been a major advocate for the "creative" use of American power for world improvement. As an Afghan Pushtun and supposed Muslim he should have know better, but he and others did not and now he bears the burden of his own dreams.
"and that would disadvantage women, especially in the area of family law." Excuse me! Family and personal status law are just about invariably the areas of life reserved for Sharia or something close to Sharia law in Arab countries even ones that have mixed law codes (Western and Islamic).
The status of women? I have the disadvantage of having been to Iraq a lot in the "old days." I hasten to add that I went on US government business. I clearly remember the European born wife of an American ambassador telling me in response to my question on this issue that. "the problem modernized Iraqi women have now is that they are expected to do too much. They are expected to have professional careers, be perfect wives and mothers, and be ready to "pick up the slack" when their husbands start running around." I remember that the General Manager of the Rashid Hotel (the best in town) was a good looking, smart, skilled Iraqi woman in her late thirties. There were a lot like her.
Now the Shia majority in the government is going to "improve" her status.
Ten Days? We'll see..
"The Iranian penetration of Iraq was a long time in planning. On Sept. 9, 2002, with U.S. bases being readied in Kuwait, Supreme Leader Ayatullah Ali Khamenei summoned his war council in Tehran. According to Iranian sources, the Supreme National Security Council concluded, "It is necessary to adopt an active policy in order to prevent long-term and short-term dangers to Iran." Iran's security services had supported the armed wings of several Iraqi groups they had sheltered in Iran from Saddam. Iranian intelligence sources say that the various groups were organized under the command of Brigadier General Qassim Sullaimani, an adviser to Khamenei on both Afghanistan and Iraq and a top officer in the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps." Ware
"Brigadier General Sullaimani ordained in a meeting of his militia proxies in the spring of last year that "any move that would wear out the U.S. forces in Iraq should be done. Every possible means should be used to keep the U.S. forces engaged in Iraq."" Ware
"Secret British military-intelligence documents show that British forces are tracking several paramilitary outfits in Southern Iraq that are backed by the Revolutionary Guard. Coalition and Iraqi intelligence agencies track Iranian officers' visits to Iraq on inspection tours akin to those of their American counterparts." Ware
Michael Ware is the best of the reporters working now in Iraq. His "reach" into the world of the coalition forces as well as that of the insurgents is impressive.
There has been a kind of coalition of silence in the world of the American media with regard to the obvious and growing influence of Iran in the Iraq of today. Most of the media are holed up in hotels in Baghdad afraid for their lives and happily collecting their hazardous duty bonuses while they wait for their "tour of duty" to end. Their principal sources of information have been coalition forces and embassy PR officals. These officials inevitably project the viewpoint of the US Government at the moment of discussion.
Until recently it has been the "received wisdom" of the US Government that Iraqi Shia are Iraqis first and always, and Shia in the same way that Americans are Presbyterians or Baptists. In other words, the US establishment, taking its clue from the US Government has maintained that Iraqi Shia would never let themselves be dominated by Iran because the Iranians are Persians and the Iraqi Shia are Arabs and never the two shall identify with each other. It has also been maintained that Iraqi Shia (and Sunnis) are so universally secular that they would "never" accept a theocratic state in Iraq, and most especially one aligned with Tehran.
What a crock!! First of all, the idea that you would accept as true the unverified statements of a group about themselves, (any group) is ludicrous. People lie about such matters to outsiders with great dependability. They are especially prone to lying about themselves when they perceive that they are talking to the gullible (us). Secondly, anyone who knows anything about the pre-war Shia population of Iraq knows that they were deeply divided between those who were secular and felt themselves primarily Iraqi (many of these were members of the Baath) and those who were always primarily Shia in loyalty and who resisted the influence of Iraqi nationalism. Many of these people went into exile in Iran and actually fought against Iraq in the Iran-Iraq War.
NOW. They're Back!!!
Why did the US propagate the patent untruth of Iraqi Shia independence of spirit? Ask the Jacobins. It suited their purposes. Now this tissue of delusion and falsehood is collapsing.
Who will pay the price?
I am asked what "Jacobins" might be --
"In the context of the French Revolution, a Jacobin originally meant a member of the Jacobin Club (1789-1794). But even while the Club still existed, the name of Jacobins had been popularly applied to all promulgators of extreme revolutionary opinions; "Jacobin democracy" for example is synonymous with totalitarian democracy. In contemporary France this term refers to a centralistic conception of Republic, with a lot of power vested in the national government, at the expense of local governments." Wikepedia - The Free Encyclopedia
In the present context, I think, (as do others) that this is a more accurate description of the group of people who are variously called; "neocons," "Vulcans," "neo-imperialists," etc.
These people do not want anyone to think of them as a group, much less describe them as a group. They react with hostility to the term, "neocon," often playing the "anti-semite" card as Eliot Cohen did with me once, saying that this was code for "foreign policy Jew."
Nevertheless, I think the Jacobin tag is useful in understanding them because they are not, in fact, conservative as John Adams or Margaret Thatcher would have understood the term. Rather, they are radical revolutionaries descended more or less directly from the thinking of the radicals of the French Revolution through European influence in the 20th century. They strongly believe in the use of force and cunning in forging a dominant role for the US in world affairs. They believe in strong central government at the expense of the states and are not terribly concerned with citizen rights if they think such rights interfere with their "larger" goals. They have a simplistic belief in the universal curative powers of "pure" democracy which the framers of our constitution never entertained. It is for that reason that our constitution is carefully constructed to prevent the attainment of more than indirect power by the "masses."
They are foreign policy oriented. Domestic conservative issues largely bore them unless the political "backblast" from failure to attain the goals of heartland conservatives is thought politically "dangerous."
The best possible reason for not calling them "neocons" is that there is nothing conservative about them. The closest that one could get on that "tack" would be to call them radical right wing revolutionaries. pl
"The Bush administration is significantly lowering expectations of what can be achieved in Iraq, recognizing that the United States will have to settle for far less progress than originally envisioned during the transition due to end in four months, according to U.S. officials in Washington and Baghdad.
Good News: Sunni Arab tribal forces of the Dulaimi tribe chose yesterday to fight the international Jihadis to protect an enclave of Shia residents in the "triangle" city of Ramadi. These were TRIBAL forces and not those of the Shia dominated government. In an interesting development, the Sunni Arabs of Iraq, who were always the most earnest supporters of the idea of a unified Iraqi state, have become the de facto defenders of the continuation of that idea. The Kurds want out, and would go all the way out if they could manage it. The Shia, especially the religious and Iran inclined Shia, would like to rule an Iraq united under Shia Islam, but the more sober Shia types are beginning to see that if the present process continues, then the Sunni dominated north-center and desert west will be within the de jure border of Iraq, but essentially ungovernable. In that light the initiative of the Dulaimi in exerting themselves to make sure that "their rules" prevail in their part of the country probably points to "future history."
Not So Good News: The Wright story in the WashPost represents opinion in the Defense Department and other parts of the government. It does not represent the opinion of the president, vice-president, NSC, nor the Jacobins (in and out of government). There is now a deep split in the government between: 1- those who see disaster looming for the armed forces and American "clout" in the region and world, and 2 - the ideologues (and the ignorant) who insist that all is well and that the constitutional process in Iraq will produce a document so wise and so balanced that it will deprive the insurgencies of the material support now provided by some segment of the Sunni Arab population. It is only lately that the more reasonable members and supporters of the administration's policy have begun to admit what has been obvious from the beginning, which is that the nationalist insurgents (at the least) have a lot of popular support. Charles Krauthammer, an intelligent and usually forthright man, said so today on Fox News Suday, while Bill Cristol, sitting beside him, continued to deny this obvious fact. The incoherence of Cristol's argument may indicate some internal trepidation over the truth.
The US Military wants out. The force will do its duty no matter what and understands its obligations to the US Constitution and civilian control of foreign policy. The troops, when questioned in the field, will always say, "we are in the fight," and they are. God bless Them! Nevertheless, as has been said elsewhere this week, the officer corps is mindful of the fate and future of the military's institutions, and it now believes that those institutions are at risk if the war is continued at the present over all force levels in the Armed Forces and with the delusional ideas of a "Minister of War" like Donald Rumsfeld who is distorting the future shape of the US Army into a light weapons force, deprived of the kind of artillery, armor and aviation support on which it has relied and without the "in depth" logistical abilities needed to fight the extended campaigns implied by Jacobin foreign policy.
"Chief Iranian Nuclear Affairs Negotiator Hosein Musavian: The Negotiations with Europe Bought Us Time to Complete the Esfahan UCF Project and the Work on the Centrifuges in Natanz." MEMRI In this interview the chief Iranian Negotiator in the matter of their nuclear program explains that the protracted process of dealing with the IAEA and the European powers was worthwhile because it enabled Iran to procrastinate in dealing with the West long enough to complete major installation essential to the nuclear program. Musavian makes it clear that the Iranian government's negotiating strategy was motivated entirely by the tactical necessities required by the determination of the Iranian government to drive the program forward as rapidly as possible. This interview should largely answer the uncertainty on the part of some people as to whether or not the Iranians could be lured into giving up their nuclear ambitions. Pat Lang
"Chief Iranian Nuclear Affairs Negotiator Hosein Musavian: The Negotiations with Europe Bought Us Time to Complete the Esfahan UCF Project and the Work on the Centrifuges in Natanz." MEMRI
In this interview the chief Iranian Negotiator in the matter of their nuclear program explains that the protracted process of dealing with the IAEA and the European powers was worthwhile because it enabled Iran to procrastinate in dealing with the West long enough to complete major installation essential to the nuclear program.
Musavian makes it clear that the Iranian government's negotiating strategy was motivated entirely by the tactical necessities required by the determination of the Iranian government to drive the program forward as rapidly as possible.
This interview should largely answer the uncertainty on the part of some people as to whether or not the Iranians could be lured into giving up their nuclear ambitions.
"Al Qaeda 2.0: Transnational Terrorism After 9/11: Session 5
2:00 pm The United States vs. Al-Qaeda: An Assessment"
This Meeting was put on by the "New America" Foundation at the Senate.
This session features the wit and wisdom of Dan Benjamin of CSIS, Reuel Gerecht of AEI, etc.
You can watch the whole thing. Just push the button. pl
I have decided to continue my commentary on the decline of the quality of the editorial page of the Washington Post and its leadership. This is todays leading editorial in the WashPost.
"WITH THAT statement, which appeared on an al Qaeda Web site Thursday, Iraq's al Qaeda network at last made explicit the goals of the Iraqi insurgency: to prevent a freely elected, constitutional government from taking power and to promulgate a totalitarian Islamic republic instead." WashPost
It is the US government's position that the insurgencies in Iraq have several components; sorehead Baathists, criminal mercenaries, disaffected tribals and, in a special category, international Jihadis (AQ Iraq) under the command of Abu Musaab Al-Zarqawi. If you read Mr. Hiatt's editorial as quoted above, you will see that he says that a statement made on an AQ web site speaks for all the components of the insurgencies. What's the evidence for that, or is this yet another example of the WashPost editorial page distributing "talking points?" pl
"Shortly after meeting with Iraq's most important Shiite cleric, Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani, another Shiite Muslim leader, Abdul Aziz Hakim, told a crowd in the holy city of Najaf to support the constitution in order to unify the country. "We should not let this chance of accomplishing this goal to go away," he said."
Who are the "we" in this speech by Hakim? What is the "goal?" Is the goal of this Shia activist to unify Iraq on the basis of inter-communal equality, the rights of minorities (like women), and the civil rights we think were given to mankind by "nature's God" as "inalienable." Is that what he means? Or does he mean that this is the great chance to consolidate Shia power in the pursuit of a Godly morality and unity of effort and purpose?
The Post does not even consider the latter possibility. I should not complain too much about the Post. It has been "subdued" like much of the media.
That's all right. The blogoshere and media forms yet unconceived are coming to put the old media out of their misery. Pat Lang
The invasion and occupation of Iraq was essentially conceived by academics, people with PhDs or JDs and names like Paul Wolfowitz, Michael Rubin, Douglas Feith, Fouad Ajami, Victor Davis Hanson and many others well known to us all. These are people who have spent much of their lives considering, debating, and seeking to create grand strategies - elegant solutions for complicated problems - to solve the world’s most pressing issues, and since the early 1990’s they had strongly advocated a grand strategy for countering the threat of radical Islam in the Middle East.
They assumed (correctly in my view) the growth of radical violent anti-Western Islam was driven by two powerful forces; the status quo of failed governance in the Arab and Islamic world and the festering Israeli-Palestinian issue. They concluded the only means for countering those negative forces was the expansion of democracy in heart of the Middle East, by force if necessary. When surveying the potential options to use US power to create a democratic revolution they quickly realized there was only one feasible choice – Iraq.
Like most grand strategies, it looked good on paper. Led by a brutal dictatorial regime, shunned by the world, oppressive of its people, threatening to its neighbors, likely in possession of weapons of mass destruction, but possessing a large, multi-ethnic, educated populace and located in the very heart of the Arab-Islamic world, Iraq was the perfect test case for imposed democracy. The case was clear – black and white. It would be a “cake walk” - a “slam-dunk.” But there is a problem with grand strategies; their grandeur is often brought into question by troubling, little realities.
Concepts or theories of “national interest require one to perceive the world with undistorted clarity and even anticipate second- and third-order effects of policies.” Michael Roskin
It is clear the designers of the now failed Iraq policy were sure they perceived the World, the Middle East, and Iraq, with undistorted clarity. Unfortunately, their clear perception was based on a macro-level analysis that did not consider the micro-level ethno-cultural-religious realities of the region. They were so enamored by the parsimony of their great idea they refused to listen when confronted by those who really did understand the implications of attempting regime change in Iraq.
In order to anticipate second- and third-order effects one must have a detailed understanding of the subtleties of the region in which the strategy is to be applied. When confronted by those with such understanding the intellectuals refused to allow their “undistorted clarity” to be obscured by details. They scoffed at the warnings of people like Pat Lang, and Tony Zinni who told them Iraq would likely become “ungovernable” after Saddam. They ridiculed Gen Shinseki when he suggested several hundred thousand US military personnel would be required to stabilize a post-Saddam Iraq.
They labeled the experts “obstructionists” because their common sense advice, based on years of on the ground experience, was ruining an otherwise beautiful theory. Unfortunately, they prevailed in the policy debate and we’re stuck in Iraq. I pray history does not forgive them for their arrogance. It is certainly not the first time the world has suffered greatly for the arrogance of dilettantes ensconced in ivory towers. In his classic treatise on the 1st World War E.H. Carr specifically addressed the danger of theory unchecked by reality:
“For the intellectual the general principle was simple and straight-forward; the alleged difficulties of applying it were due to obstruction by the experts.”
If this source is not George Casey I would be surprised. Anyone else who said this would be on his way out of Iraq by now. Pat Lang
“Both Americans and Iraqis need "to start thinking about and talking about what it's really going to be like in Iraq after elections," said the military official, who spoke in an interview on the condition he not be named. "I think the important point is there's not going to be a fundamental change."The official stressed that it was "important to calibrate expectations post-elections. I've been saying to folks: You're still going to have an insurgency, you're still going to have a dilapidated infrastructure, you're still going to have decades of developmental problems both on the economic and the political side."” Washington Post
It is ungracious to say, "I told you so, but I am not feeliing gracious about this. I would not write about this subject in this way but the claim has often been made by those "exposed" by the failure of policy in Iraq that "noone could have known." Rubbish! In fact any number of people of my acquaintance who had knowledge of Iraq, the Arabs, guerrilla warfare and a variety of similar subjects were easily able to forecast that the present situation was likely to result from the flawed logic that dominated planning for Iraq. I cite my own example becasue I know it best.
From the apparent beginning of serious planning for intervention in Iraq, I have said, and written and preached that:
-Occupation of Iraq would be widely resented by a lot of the population who would likely rise against a prolonged foreign military presence.
-An effort to define poliical power in Iraq based on "one man" one vote" rather than community interests would be seen as a direct threat by the Sunni Arabs who would act accordingly.
-Dissolution of the Iraqi civil service and military would leave Iraq in a chaos that would facilitate the insurgency or insurgencies and deprive that state of the means of resistance.
-I believed that the dissolution mentioned previously might prove a fatal mistake.
-Counterinsurgency operations required by the rising that the policy we intended to follow would incite would require a much larger counterguerrilla force than we intended to keep in the country.
-Such a rising would center on the resentment and fears of the Sunni Arab population who would not want to lose the position of dominence which they have enjoyed in Iraq for over a thousand years.
-Iraq would prove to be not a "nation-state," but rather a melange of ethno-religious communities who only very imperfectly saw themselves as related and who would lapse into communial struggle for dominance in the event of our prolonged presence and intervention in their affairs.
-Elections in Iraq which ignored communal interests would be a praiseworthy effort in themselves but would not be seen by disadvataged communities as a solution to their communal problems. In that context no amount of constitution writing or referenda on constitutions would be likely to affect the willingness of dissidents to end support for the revolt.
-The war will go on indefinitely until a political soution is found. The constitution and its ratifying process will change nothing in the combat situation if they do not reflect the perceived interests of the Sunni Arabs.
I see no reason to change my opinion about present and future conditions. It would appear that this "Senior officer" source agrees with me. Pat Lang
The "Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq," (SCIRI) has now deposed the secular leaning mayor or governor of the city of Iraq and pult in place one pf their own. This was done by force in broad daylight.
Is this important? You bet it is. The capital city of any Arab county is by far the most important place in the country in terms of population, centrality of authority and tradition of government. The SCIRI Shia know that , and their friends and mentors in Tehran know it as well. Possession of the city government gives one the police, fire department, police troops, administrative apparatus of control, etc. If one is planning a consolidation of power on the basis of POWER and not constitutions, one would want to hold the City Hall (baladiya).
Ambassador Khalilzad has been telling the new Iraqi power structure what to do about their new constitution. It seems to me that SCIRI is telling him what he can do with that.
If the US accepts that an issue like this can be settled by force a pro-Iranian Shia militia, then I would say that the political "game" is over in Iraq. The militias, the Jaafari government and the Iranians will all draw the appropriate conclusion.
The implication of this will also not be lost on the nationalist component of the Sunni Arab revolt.
by Larry C Johnson and W. Patrick Lang
Republicans and democrats need to put aside partisan differences and take measure of the threat Iran poses to our national security. This threat goes beyond supplying explosives that are trickling into Iraq use against our troops. This threat involves more than a reactivated program to acquire nuclear weapons. Iran, if things continue to go its way, finds itself on the threshhold of controlling vast oil resources that stretch from the Persian Gulf to the Mediterranean. No, I have not imbibed the neo-con Koolaid. And, no, I'm not agitating that we open up a new war front in addition to fighting Iraqi insurgents. But we must come to grip with the following facts and craft a robust foreign and national security policy to counter this emerging threat before we find ourselves literally and figuratively over a barrel (an oil barrel at that). You have to go back to 330 B.C. and the reign of Darius the III to find a time when Iran enjoyed defacto control of such a swath of territory. Unlike the ancient Persians, the current leaders of Iran believe they are fulfilling the call of God in bringing Islamic rule and justice to a world stained by infidels.
FACT 1: Iran is well on its way to achieving de facto control of significant portions of Iraq. Tehran is backing shia cleric, Ali Sistani (a Persian, not an Arab) and Muqtada al Sadr. The Iranians are funneling money and training to supporters inside Iraq. The Iraqi shia control the political process and comprise the majority of the security forces that are deployed and operating with any effect in Iraq. The Iranian leaders and their Iraqi shia counterparts privately must wonder at their good fortune and can only conclude that God (Allah) is really on their side. Where they failed to dislodge Saddam Hussein during a bloody 8 year war that left Iran with more than a million casualties (in fact, Iraq defeated Iran) the Iranian leaders now have their supporters and agents occupying key political positions in Iraq. Best of all, the United States, which had backed Saddam during the first Gulf War, did the dirty work and deposed the Baath party, the Sunni leadership, and Saddam. Iran did not sit by passively watching the change, they jumped into the fray and helped the Shia in Iraq seize the reins of power thru the ballot box.
FACT 2: Iran is in a dominant position in Lebanon. The murder earlier this year of Lebanese Prime Minister Hariri has left Lebanon under the de facto military guard of Hezbollah. Iran remains the main benefactor, supporter, and advisor to Hezbollah. If you control the dominant force in Lebanon you are in a good position to control Lebanon itself. Although suspicion fell heavily on Syria for the assassination of Hariri, there is a strong circumstantial case pointing to Tehran's hand in the affair. Hariri, a Sunni and Wahhabi with close ties to Saudi Arabia, was violently removed. While Syria's position within Lebanon has been weakened, in part by the withdrawal of its Army from Lebanon, Iran's position is stronger.
FACT 3: Iran is in a stronger position to reach out to and support Shia minorities in Kuwait and Saudi Arabia. Iran is an experienced hand in fomenting violence in Saudi Arabia, for example. The 1996 bombing of the US military housing complex in Dharan, Saudi Arabia was carried out in part with the logistical assistance of Iranian intelligence operatives. With the addition of a base of operations in Iraq, Iran can work more easily in cultivating supporters in Kuwait and Saudi Arabia and develop cadre that can threaten those regimes. While the die is not cast and Iran's victory not certain, things are certainly going Tehran's way. Ironically the terrorist leader Zarqawi is a potential ally of ours in gearing up to battle the shia. Remember, it was Zarqawi who described the Shia as worse than infidels. Great! The only people he hates worse than us are the Shia.
There is no easy, painless solution to this threat. Confronting it will require rebuilding frayed relations with Saudi Arabia and Syria. It will also involve building a genuine international coalition, that enlists Russia, China, and Turkey. Despite a show of bravado on our part, the United States lacks the ground military force to intimidate the Iranians into backing down. An air campaign is a possibility but it would require commitment of enormous assets in a major effort and would only set the Iranian nuclear program back a few years. The road ahead will require a clever mix of diplomacy, covert operations, and economic sanctions. While we should prepare for the possibility that we may have to fight to defend the oil resources of Saudi Arabia from Iranian control we should not rely on the false assumption that we can fight our way out of this dilemma.
The Western media has devoted precious little consideration or discussionto the importance of the Shi'a-Sunni split within the context of the current struggle against Islamic extremism. This is further complicated as issues such as Iran’s nuclear program and the disarmament of Hezbollah are regularly framed by the Bush administration and subsequently the media as being integral components of the same radical Islamic threat that seeks the utopian goal of world domination under a re-established Islamic Caliphate. As a young Marine officer in the early 1980s, I was instructed that the Shi'a - especially Iranians and their surrogates - were essentially evil ideologues - irrationally emotional, motivated by religious vice national interests, completely inimical towards Western culture, and entirely devoted to undermining the prestige and influence of the United States.
The Sunna, however, were good, practical people with a moderate outlook and friendly disposition towards the West. Despite our previous “understandings,” we now realize the real existential threat to Western culture comes from the ideological heart of Sunni, not Shi'a Islam? More importantly yet less obvious, we share this existential threat with Shi’a Islam, as the radical pan-Islamic Sunni ideology that drives the followers of Bin Laden and Zarqawi seeks to remove the heresy of Shi'ism from this earth with the same fervour it pursues the destruction of the West.
In this struggle against Al Qaeda, the Shi’a are our natural allies. We need to set aside old arguments and engage the Shi’a in a more proactive and positive way. Iran is a problem but it seeks neither the destruction
If we are searching for a reformist element in Islam it will be more likely found amongst the Shi’a. Unlike the rigidity of Sunni Islam, reformation is a component of Shi’a theology. Within Shi’a Islam the “Bab of Ijtihad” – essentially the “Door of Reason” – remains open, allowing scholars to offer current interpretations of ancient scriptures. The most enlightened Islamic sects emerged from Shi’ism - the Ismaili Sect led by the Agha Khan is a good example. In the 11th Century the Ismailis were the dreaded “assassins” – the Al Qaeda of their time – but today the ideology of Ismaili Islam is a model of tolerance that would shame most Christians.
In the end, Shi’a dominated governments in Iranand Iraq will serve as a better bulwark against the expansion of radical pan-Islamic wackiness in the region than a whole division of Marines.
Dr. Michael Rubin of AEI and various other Jacobin vehicles is not one of my intimate friends. In fact, my lawyer has caused publications in which he has defamed me to withdraw a number of untruths.
Nevertheless, lately he has displayed signs of emerging sobriety with regard to the "adventure" in Iraq and this op/ed is one of them.
I don't know Mr. Hunter but he comes across as a typical heartland American who know BS when he sees it.
It is a favorite "technique" in the diplomatic "community" to conduct difficult negotiations by dealing with all the readily soluble issues early in the process on the principle that negotiating momentum and good will generated by the process will enable the brokering parties to "soft soap" the disputants into accepting compromises to deal with the hard issues as deadlines (often artificially injectedby the brokers) approach. This rarely works for the obvious reason that the really hard "stuff" usually involves issues on which the perceived survival and well being of the disputants are involved.
Nevertheless, the State Department loves this methodology. Whether they "learn" it in international relations or political science classes or at the Foreign Service Institute in Washington, I know not. This method seems to be as popular among political appointess as among career FSOs. Group think? Similar "educational" backgrounds? Who knows? In any case they love this process and seem to almost invariably try it, unimpressed by previous failure.
The Camp David 2 negotiations were a good example of this. There were so many ridiculous things done at CD2 that it is difficult to concentrate on just one, but... Arafat and Barak were brought together there to finalize an overall agreement. In the aftermath of failure, the architects of that failure all claim that nothing so grand was intended. Rubbish! Anyone who can do research in the internet can see through that in half an hour. Unpleasant thing, the internet.
The process that led to CD2 was said to have resolved nearly all the outstanding issues that stood as obstacles to peace between the Israelis and Palestinians. There were only a few things left that would be resolved by the "momentum" of negotiation in an environment in which the parties were isolated in the presence of the president of the United States. The issues? Essentially, they came down to mutual recognition of each other's permanent sovereignty between mutually recognized borders and an agreement on the status of Jerusalem. That's All!!!
Guess What? It did not work for a wide variety of reasons but at the bottom of the sorry tale of failure was the idea that leaving the tough issues to be settled at the end of ANY KIND of governmental or negotiating process was the way to "get by." What followed? Disaster followed. The Second Intifada followed and is still with us. Instead of the era of relative good feelngs that accompanied the Barak government, we saw the misery, death and bloodshed of insurgent warfare.
IRAQ Here we have another dispute, this time over the apportionment of the goods and future of the state called Iraq. Once again we are told that most issues have been settled. Only a few remain:
-The role of Islam in the State.
-Federalism among a people who have little experience with or liking for devolution of power.
-The rights of women and other "minorities."
-The share of power to be had by the Sunni Muslim and Kurdish communities.
A few "minor" points? What will happen if the Shia Iraqis enact a constitution which does not deal with these problems, and does not achieve a "national" consensus?
1-The majority will resolve these qustions by amandment of the constitution according to their own interests or tastes in the years to come.
2-Civil war will continue with large parts of the country remaining essentially outside the daily reach of central government authority.
The adminstration? I would thionk that they are getting lots of help from Foggy Bottom.!
"Once you get the genie out of the bottle, you cannot predict what will happen," says Mohamed Kamal, a political science professor at Cairo University and a member of the influential Policies Secretariat in the ruling National Democratic Party. "When you use a religious discourse, no one can counter your argument or argue against you," he says. "In that case, you'll be arguing against Islam and against the Koran. You'll no longer be a political opponent. Rather, you'll be an infidel."" Shadid
Salman Rushdie recently wrote that the time is ripe for a transforming "Reformation" within Islam. He said that the time had come for Muslims to see their revelation as occurring within history rather than above it. Rushdie is probably more directly interested in the possibility of this kind of Reform than most people since he has been the target of several "fatwas" declaring him to be outside Islam, an "apostate" and therefore not protected from the wrath of the Believers.
One might ask if his opinion in this matter is shared by many of the Believers, especially since the opinion is his. There have been any number of attempts in Islamic history to place Islam on a more "rationalist" and less "pietist" course. In the first centuries of Islam, one of the most powerful competing schools of philosophy, theology and law in the Abbasid Caliphate of Baghdad was that of the "Mu'taziliin" (my own peculiar transliteration). They sought to relate the message of the Revelation to the knowledge they had acquired of classical Hellenistic and Byzantine learning through their conquests. For a time they prospered, and there was at least one Caliph who was a member of their school of thinking. Then, the forces of reaction came to the fore, the "Mu'taziliin" were overthrown with much bloodshed, crucifixions, beheadings etc, and "pietism" became the guiding force of Sunni Islam and has remained such to this day. Oddly enough, the thinking of the "Mu'taziliin" survives only among the Zaidi Shia of Yemen. As I mentioned, there have any number of attempts at reform, some of them claiming large numbers of adherents, and having the protection of princes lucky enough to live beyond the reach of majority opinion. All of them failed in the end. As a result, Sunni Islam remains a faith so closely wedded to scripture, precedent and a consensus of conformity that it has changed little in form or doctrine in a thousand years. It is not surprising that pious Muslims still speak of the Crusades, they are still living in the mindset of that time. Some will largue that we are as well. I think not.
The recent American wars against what is euphemistically called "Islamic Extremism" have placed Islam under great stress. The survival and prosperity of the Islamic Community is always at the front of the minds of Muslims. The level of pressure and violence against Jihadis is seen by a lot of Muslims as something that threatens to spill over into a general hostility to Muslims. This frightens them. As a result, there is now great ferment among the 'Ulema (scholars) of the Sunni world to include such centers of fermentation as al-Azhar and al-Zeituna in Cairo and Tunis respectively. The relevant discussion there seek a new consensus (Ijma') centered around the question of what it means to be a Muslim in the 21st Century CE. What could be a more important question?
Are the "moderate" Islamists of the type described in this article also seekers for a "reasonable" answer to the same question or are they just "shamming" in order to reach power so that they can impose their constipated view of religion and law on the unfortunate inhabitants of Islamic countries? There are a lot of Islamists (both Sunni and Shia) who wear nice, Western clothes. A lot of them are "shamming." The goal of every Islamist I ever met was ultimately to impose Sharia law. Those of you who were trained in anthropology know the difference betwee "Emic," and Etic" knowledge. This distinction is particularly important in this case.
Let us not be so foolish as to believe what they say of themselves. Let us find the truth before we accept their words.
Having thought this over, I have decided to change the name to "Sic Semper Tyrannis 2005." People seem to see significance in the name. So do I, and the Old Dominion's motto is as relevant today as it was when George Mason devised it.
The name change wil take effect on the 15th of August, 2005 pl
"I assured them that the United States believes strongly that the Iraqi constitution should provide equal rights before the law for all Iraqis regardless of gender, race, ethnicity, religion or sect," Khalilzad said. "There can be no compromise." WP
I am with Khalilzad on this one. The idea that the US, which has summoned this Iraqi regime into being, should accept that its constitution would deprive citizens of that state of rights, status and benefits based on categorizations which are unacceptable here is just repulsive.
The late Edward Said wrote many books. Most of them I disagreed with, but "Orientalism," was one with which I wholeheartedly agree. The conceipt that leads scholars and dilettantes alike to believe that the preservation of Eastern cultures is more important than the well being of ordinary poeple in the Islamic World is really indifference to the welfare of real humans who would have to live with the kind of state that has been proposed in early drafts of the Iraq constitution.
It is one thing to study the ancient cultures of the Middle East and the Islamic World in order to better understand them. It would be quite another to sponsor the de-secularization of a country in the region. Anyone who wishes to justify the creation of such a constitution on the basis of "democracy" should consider the probability that the exercise of "democracy" in such a state will be as limited as it is in Iran where the Mullahs "screen" the candidates for election to mke sure that dissidents have no prospects. pl
Do not assume that Iranian policy has to be any more straightforward than that of any other country.
Remember, at the time of the Iran-Iraq War and the Iran-Contra affair, we were playing both sides against the middle with the encouragement of our Israeli allies who were at the same time "running" Pollard against us and who they now want us to release because it wasn't a serious matter that he was pilfering documents on the USSR out of Navy files for them to copy for whatever reason.
Life is not simple. In the Middle East they are more honest than most of the rest of us. They believe that all serious diplomatic and government policy business has to be hidden and takes place "under the table." (tahta tawila) It is usually the case that Middle Eastern countries assume that embassies are for ceremonial and consular purposes. Therefore if they have something serious to say, they send "secret" envoys to discuss the matter in the best tradition of mediation. (wasta) These envoys can be either oficials or, better yet, persons of influence (ayyan) who are thought of at home with great respect for their important role in affairs of state. Everyone in the region wants to be such a "secret envoy," presumably because it is the key to being in the "inner circle," "in the loop," and maybe someday powerful and rich. The plethora of "secret envoys," real and pretended (hopeful), is sometimes quite comic. Ratio of "Real" to "Pretended" is probably something like 1:3.
Against this background the possibility that the Iranian government might at one and the same time be doing all of the following things simultaneously is quite plausible.
1-Everything in their power to make sure that a Shia dominated government emerges in Iraq to expand the circle of their influence and co-sectarians.
2-Providing weapons, money, training and a virtual army of advisors against the day when Shia action and Iranian "volunteers" might be needed to make sure that the authority of that friendly government "sticks."
3-Running weapons and new IED technologies to the Sunni insurgents to make them potent enough to keep us headed for the door eventually.
Hey! Why Not!
If the Sunni insurgents get us out of the country after bleeding all over the place, then the Iranian logic may well be that a combination of Iraqi troops and Iranian "friends" will be in a good position to deal with them while the USG looks on benevolently from a distance at its protege government and a politically varied spectrum of fatheads say, "Well, that's democracy..."
Hizballah? What? Hizballah is a specifically Lebanese creature of the Islamic Republic of Iran as represented by the "boys" of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps assigned to the Ministry of Intelligence. Paraphrasing - "They don't need no stinking Hizballah."
Here on a pre-publication basis are Arnaud de Borchgrave's views on the developing situation in relations among the US, Iraq's new government, and Iran.
They closely resemble my own. pl
As I said the other day, watch the English when they make their minds' up about an enemy. Today's announcements by Blair of severe security measures do not surprise.
The new "rules" will allow for easy deportation of foreign residents in Britain who preach or advocate rebellion and violence.
Existing rules allow the Home Office and the courts to strip naturalized British citizens of their legal status so that they can be deported to country of origin. Blair indicated that those existing "rules" will be modified to make it easier to do so.
Houses of worship are to be closed if there are indications that they are being used as centers of conspiracy against the state.
Wow!! The English have always had a tough streak in them. The "stiff upper lip" covers a lot of internalized hostility. The old joke about the "Wogs Starting at Calais" was never a joke to the French who still remember the atrocities of the Hundred Years War.
It is hard to argue with the British government's logic in this. I expect such measure to spread. Watch Holland. pl
Guns in this context means artillery. Howitzers, heavy mortars, long rifles, etc., weapons gnerally above 100 mm. in tube diameter. Some ordnance man will probably want to argue over that definition.
"Ride to the sound of the guns," is an old exhortation in the military, an appeal to agressive action since the crashing report of the cannons generally shows a leader where the center of the action lies. Murat is often credited with this appeal.
"Horse, foot and guns," has been the formula for creating a balanced fighting force for hundreds of years. "Horse" - the cavalry and now the main battle tanks (Abrams) of the armored force, "Foot" - the "poor bloody infantry" of the Army and Marine Corps, the place where the business of closing personally with the enemy on foot to kill or be killed takes place. "Guns" - artillery, the King of Battles, the big killer on the battlefield. Artillery weapons throw massive amounts of ordnance "down range" at the enemy in all kinds of weather, without regard to darkness or daylight in support of the "Horse," and "Foot."
For the last hundred and fifty years, more or less, the artillery has fired its support missions from ranges that precluded a sight of the targets from the guns. Weapon ranges now are measured in tens of miles. The fires of the guns are directed with stunning accuracy by computer driven trigonometric calculations informed by "Forward Observers" accompanying the "Horse," and "Foot."
In Viet Nam, we were almost never operating in the field beyond the reach of some friendly battery of artillery, often several batteries. When we got in trouble as we often did in that vast, jungled country, the artillery was always there, on the radio, to answer the call and to save us with their supporting fires. Any experienced ground combat veteran is eternally grateful for the help that Army and Air Force air renders on many occasion, but the pervasive and unending support of the artillery can not be equalled by anyone or anything else. I remember occasions in which Army artillery units interrupted talk on the radio network of ground units engaged in fire fights to say, "verify your position, we are ready to fire on your targets. Nobody had asked them, they were just there, waiting.
The other day there were six marine snipers killed on a patrol in the Euphrates River Valley. According to what I know, their radio traffic stopped in the middle of a transmission because they were all gone or captured. As an experienced retired officer said on TV today, "sadly, things like this happen from time to time in combat," but the question is, should it have happened THIS TIME?
What should now exist the Euphrates River Valley is a chain of entrenched artillery fire bases with at least a four or six gun battery in each who are in position to support all infantry and armored forces operating in that valley. Without fire support like that, the infantry is operating "naked" in a space in which the enemy rules the battlefield. Six marine snipers? Men out of the Iliad they may be, but they are not bullet proof. The ambush they experienced should have been immediately followed by an appeal over their radio for a "box barrage" around them. These days, it is not even necessary to be able to read a map in order to tell the artillery where you are, GPS will do it for you. The kind of fire support that veterans of Viet Nam were accustomed to might well have saved at least some of these brave men.
Perhaps I am wrong. Perhaps there is such fire support available in the Euphrates Valley. What I know of actual numbers of artillery tubes present in Iraq makes me doubt that it exists. Why would I doubt that?
Secretary Rumsfeld does not like artillery. He thinks it is outmoded and the ground forces' desire for it evidence of their backwardness. He has repeatedly denied or influenced generals to deny requests from field commanders for the presence of more "tube" artillery in their forces. This has happened in both Iraq and Afghanistan. A number of artillery units are in Iraq without their guns, acting as gate guards, perimeter security and the like. As a result our forces are operating without the fire support needed to make these wars, truly "unfair," and "unfair" is what you want. This is not a football game. The more unfair, the better. What are we trying to do, see how close we can come to losing?
Unfortunately, if you ask a lot of senior generals about this they will absolve Rumsfeld and his "boys." Too bad, but a lot of them are the product and evidence of the process that created them.
OK, America, if you want those dead marines really memorialized, see that their comrades get the fire support that they need. It will be a real fight and a lot of "smoke" will be blown. Be ready.
Larry C. Johnson
The ambush of a seven man Marine sniper team in Western Iraq sends some disturbing signals that our leaders and field commanders are not taking the war in Iraq seriously. The loss of life of these brave Marine reservists is a terrible blow for their families, who deserve our sympathy and prayers. But as details of their deaths emerge there are some hard questions that need to be answered.
A friend of mine who has spoken to members of the unit indicates that the Marines were talking via radio to their base and trying to arrange an exfiltration. While they were talking the sound of gunfire erupted over the radio, then the radio went silent. One possibility is that the insurgents snuck up on the team. In any event, they were wiped out.
The following link provides <a href="http://www.ogrish.com/archives/ansar_al_sunnah_army_claimed_responsibility_for_killing_six_marines_video_attached_Aug_03_2005.html">graphic and horrific photographic </a>evidence of the aftermath. WARNING. The video contains graphic and disturbing images and is not for the faint of heart.
It is important to view the videos to gain an idea of how awry our current strategy on the ground is. Despite happy talk that we are winning the war, we lost this skirmish and the images portray a happy, confident group of insurgents who are operating virtually unmolested.
One particularly disturbing image shows an insurgent inspecting the body of a partially stripped dead Marine. The insurgent bends down and cuts away the dog tag from the soldier's neck. The insurgent appears to conduct himself in a professional manner to the extent that he does not desecrate the Marine's body. What is so shocking is that this Marine has been left abandoned, albeit temporarily, on the battlefield while an insurgent leisurely and methodically strips him of uniform and weapons.
A second video shows two insurgets with a collection of captured U.S. Marine weapons. Again, with an air of non-chalance, the insurgents provide an impressive equipment display. The fact that they have time to lay weapons out on the ground and pose with them is a reminder that they are operating in territory where they feel comfortable and protected.
A third image from the videos shows two insurgents firing a mortar at an unknown target. The mortar, I'm told, appears to be and 82mm mortar. The individuals operating the weapon appear unconcerned about being discovered or being attacked by a counter battery of some sort. While it is not clear whether or not the mortar was being fired during this operation, it is certain that the insurgents intend to deliver the message that they can do what they want, where they want, when they want.
Taken as a whole the implications of this action are disturbing. The US Marine reservists were not backed up by a Quick Reaction Force that could respond quickly and decisively to the attack. The reservists appear to have inadequate artillery and air support to cover their operations. Unfortunately, reservists have been treated as the red headed step child as far as the regular military is concerned. Add to this that reservists normally do not operate at the same level of efficiency as regular military units. This is, as we see from the latest action, a lethal combination.
The more fundamental, long term problem, is that our force levels on the ground in Iraq are not sufficient to ensure control and command of the battlefield. The task of seizing control is not easy and will require difficult fighting. But this much is certain, without sufficient troop strength, artillery, and air support assets we will lose the insurgency because we will not be able to control the territory.
If we are going to send our young men and women into combat then it is incumbent on the civilian leaders and military commanders to ensure they are prepared and properly supported. The men in this Marine sniper team were not well served by either the political or military leaders. But they cannot complain, they will return home with honor in flag draped caskets to be mourned by family and friends.
We have lost a lot of people in the last few days along the Euphrates River in western Anbar Province, Iraq. Haditha, all the little towns along the Euphrates near the Syrian border, the Haditha Dam and the Forward Operating Base (FOB) being built northwest of the dam on the Euphrates have all become a major focus of what offensive American military action there is in Iraq at present.
Why? Guerrillas need water. Drinking and cooking are activities that require a surprising amount of water if men are living in the field for extended periods of time. Bedouins, supermen, highly conditioned soldiers--- they all need water, every day and in substantial quantities.
Trudging across the North Carolina hills long ago, learning to be or fight guerrillas in Special Forces it became blindingly obvious to my training course that if we couldn't occupy a place of human habitation where there would be water available, then we would inevitably be tied on a fairly short leash to whatever source of natural water there might be. Usually that meant a stream.
Western and southern Iraq are huge howling deserts The country from the Saudi border to the river system in interior Iraq is some of the hardest desert in the Middle East. The land from the Jordanian border to the west is just as bad. There is only one infiltration route available across these deserts which has ready access to water and that is the route that follows the Euphrates River Valley. If you want a REAL reason why the Jihadis want to infiltrate Iraq from Syria, this is probably it, the river.
The Euphrates Valley points like an arrow at central Iraq from deep inside Syria. Without the river and its water the Jihadis would have a difficult time trying to traverse the wide deserts in significant numbers. it is for that reason that we find Saudi, African, Egyptian and other international Jihadis traveling to Syria before entering Iraq along the river.
Bottom Line: The Jihadis and their Iraqi Islamist and nationalist allies know well that if this infiltration corridor were closed they would have a much more difficult time trying to enter the country. Turkey is not friendly. Iran is playing its own game with the Iraqi Shia Arabs. The insurgents know that they have to keep this route open. For this they will stand and fight risking decisive engagement whenever they do so. At the same time our side has figured this out and for that reason you see substantial forces devoted to the attemot to control movement in the valley. The construction of a patrol and fire support base near the border on the river, is intended to act like a stopper in a bottle in blocking infiltration along the water corridor.
The fight for this valley will go on indefinitly.
Last night I read with growing dismay a four page story published today above the fold in the Washington Post. The story concerns ongoing Army investigations, courts-martial and discipline concerning events surrounding an enemy prisoner who surrendered (he apparently actually believed he was coming in to parley) to US forces in western Iraq. This man died in US custody and his captors and questioners are either under investigation or have been charged with alleged offenses connected to his death.
I will not comment on that process in which the Army is doing the right thing so far.
There are other things about this that interest me:
1-This story was clearly a major project for the WP. They gave it a lot of attention and broad space right at the top of their front page, but it was not even mentioned on the editorial page. At the Post, as at most newspapers, the editorial page is a separate effort complete with its own editorial staff. It has been clear for some time now that there is a major division of opinion on serious issues at the Post between the newsroom staff and the editorial people. this incident seems to illustrate that difference.
2- As I read the story it is clear to me that the major US force in western Iraq at the time of the incident was an armored cavalry regiment, commanded by a full colonel. The story seems to indicate that the regimental commander and his staff were aware and approved of what was being done in his name and in his Area of Operations (AOR). If that is so, why are nearly all the people mentioned in the article as the targets of Army justice either enlisted people or warrant officers? It will be a travesty if senior people are allowed to skate in this matter or any similar matter while enlisted soldiers and junior officers are held accountable. It has always been an article of faith and basic principle in the Army that a commander is responsible for ALL that his unit does or fails to do. Is this still true? Pat Lang
"La Ghalib illa Allah." (No Victor but God)
That is what is written in plaster cartouches all over the Alhambra. It neatly sums up the spirit of absolute monotheism that lies at the heart of Islam and especially of Sunni Islam, the Wahhabi strain of Sunni Islam and the ascetic Hanbali law code that lies behind it.
There is a lot of drivel in the media today as uncomprehending reporters try to deal with their surprise at the almost dismissive simplicity of the departure of King Fahd of Saudi Arabia for his "reward."
For the Muslims in Saudi Arabia; he was a man like all men, to be buried quickly, mourned in an appropriate but limited way and placed in an un-marked grave so that his resting place should not become a place of "pilgrimage" that might tempt people from the exclusive devotion that they owe to God. Visitors will come from across the world to pay their respects to the family, but that is all. After the required mourning is ended the kingdom will move on, not necessarily in the direction that we in the West might like, but, ON.
Was he a sinner? Was he a wastrel? God will judge him.
That is the Sunni Muslim's way.
The spokesman for Iraqi National Congress (INC), led by Ahmad Chalabi, said here Monday that Iran plays an important role in fostering peace and stability in Iraq. In an exclusive interview with al-Alam internet site Entifadh Qanbar said "we have the longest border with Iran and share many commonalties and together we can establish security, and embark on political and economic cooperation." He further said recent trip by the Iraqi prime minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari to Tehran is a token of independence of the Iraqi decision making apparatus and its independence from the US. "Iranian News Agency
We have now spent hundreds of billions of our money on the project of making Iraq into the foundation stone for the construction of a new "Greater Middle East," a region which will echo the values of 21st Century Europe and America and which will not harbor the animosities and communal hatreds which lead to Jihadi attacks.
We have done our utmost to enable and create a government in Iraq which is being built on the basis of "one man, one vote." There was a vote in January. We were absolutely giddy about success in holding the event in spite of the fact that the people fighting us in the insurgency did not vote and neither did their underground supporters. The insurgency went on in spite of the election and seemed to have accelerated. Now we have a constitution drafting process in place. This process is having trouble resolving such problematic issues as; women's rights, federalism in a multi-national state and whether or not a government brought into being by the United States should have an official religion.
Now, these are tough questions.
!-Should women (half the population) be treated as adults?
2- Should the Kurds be allowed self-government or should they be ruled from Baghdad by a legislature inevitably dominated by Arabs?
3-Should the state be neutral in matters of religion or should some citizens always be just tolerated in their religion? (There probably won't be any court cases over religious displays on government property in this new state)
And now we have the fearless former exiles of the Iraq National Congress (INC) under the stainless banner of that hero of democracy, Ahmed Chalabi, stating in Teheran that there will be CLOSE, CLOSE, cooperation between the Islamic Republic of Iran (world's greatest state sponsor of Islamic terrorism) and the new, Shia dominated government of Iraq. Now, THEY are positively giddy over the prospects for military to military relations between the two countries and are quick to revel in the idea that this demonstrates "independence" from America, in other words from those who freed them from Saddam.
War between the US and Iran grows and grows as a possibility over the Iranian nuclear program. I wonder which side Chalabi and his SCIRI and Dawa' friends will take if it comes to that.
The worldwide network of jihadi terrorists has reached a stage of development in which the “inspiration” provided by the senior leaders and preachers of the “movement” has generated enough armed groups in the European countries to enable them to strike targets in Europe in the course of what is seen by the Jihadis as a long term strategy of emotional and financial attrition intended to de-stabilize the countries of the West in the belief that if chaos exists in these countries then the populations will turn to Islam as the solution to their problems. The Jihadis believe this to be especially true in countries with large immigrant Muslim populations. The Jihadis are utterly deluded in this appreciation of the possibility of their success. What will happen across Europe if these attacks continue is that the European states will abandon their policies of toleration and increasingly resort to discriminatory policing and population control measures aimed at their Muslim residents and citizens. The French Interior Ministry has announced the expulsion of 12 objectionable Imams and other mosque officials for preaching and advocating hostility and violence toward the West and France in particular. In an ominous development, the French government announced that naturalization to French citizenship would not be a problem since the French government would resort to a little used provision of their law to strip deportees of their acquired French citizenship before deporting them. This practice may well spread.
The Dutch are starting to make similar noises in the aftermath of Van Gogh’s murder. The note nailed to his body will be paid for dearly by many people who only want to be left alone. Most people want to be left alone.
I do not believe that OBL or his core organization has much of anything to do with this recent wave of attacks although some of the “Europeans” may have spent some time with AQ trainers in Pakistan.
Someone said to me the other day that the Jihadis were “really waking up” in Britain. This was someone who is an expert on terrorism in the world. I replied that in fact it was the British who were waking up to their danger and the fact that they had allowed extremists to “colonize” their country over an extended period of time in spite of many indications that there had been a growing Jihadi presence in the country for a number of years. That presence grew and grew while England slept and the "movement's" pervasive infiltration of all economic and educational levels of the Muslim community of the UK progressed. It is a particular characteristic of the English that once they are roused to anger from their usual phlegmatic attitude they become very aggressive and willing to violate just about any sort of civil rights in their desire to get at their enemies, especially internal enemies. The Irish learned that lesson long ago.
I think that you can look to see more attacks in different European countries carried out by people who have never really “arrived” in these countries emotionally and who do not identify with the majority culture there. These people are in Western Europe either in pursuit of economic improvement or as refugees from the rapacity of some government in their own part of the world. A lot of them have never been interested in real “immigration” to the West as we usually think of it in the US. They are in Europe for “the goodies.” There are a lot of people like that, and they provide an immense “reservoir” of potential recruits for bombing attacks and other acts of mayhem.
The US is less vulnerable to such attacks, not because of our supposedly benevolent attitude toward immigrants. We give ourselves a lot of credit in that area, but sitting here in my study I am looking at an original sign from 1912. The sign was posted on a construction site in Boston. You know what is written on it. "Help Wanted. No Irish Need Apply," was the welcome in this "Nation of Immigrants." Our real national attitude towards immigrants has been that they could sink or swim. By and large that has worked well for us as a kind of Darwinian test of survival potential and toughness. I don't think our attitude toward immigrants is better than that in Europe. Nevertheless, I also don't think you can attribute these attacks in Europe to receptivity to newcomers or the lack of it on the part of old populations. As an example; think of the record in America. In the US there have been many, many waves of nationally or religiously coherent groups of immigrants. When has this kind of rejection of the "adopted" country happened before? It has not.
Is the US more or less vulnerable than Europe. I think the answer is less, not because of our wonderful attitude but rather because of our much smaller population of Muslims (probably around 3.5 million) and the relatively easier police problem that presents. pl
Dale Davis is an old friend and colleague whose thoughts I am glad to post here. Pat Lang
"Some thoughts on withdrawal as a strategy for success in Iraq.
My academic experience compels me to begin with a definition of success. Two and half years ago the definition of success in Iraq would have been a stable, secular, ethnically and religiously diverse government, at peace with its neighbors, leading a rejuvenated nation, powered by a vibrant economy, driven by one of the most educated people in the region - a strong ally of the US and a powerful example of democracy for the broader region. Today, the best success we can hope for is a gradually diminishing insurgency, limited in its scope and divided in its goals, suppressed (perhaps a bit brutally) by a nominally secular yet Shi'a dominated and Iranian influenced government that is not totally opposed to every US policy goal in the region.
If we begin with this vastly different understanding of the realm of possibility then a carefully executed withdrawal strategy becomes increasingly eloquent. It is so because it directly addresses the centre of gravity of the insurgency.
Critical Assumption: Even if the US withdraws the insurgency cannot win a military victory. It will not displace the Shia dominated government or any of its successors. Many would argue that withdrawal will result in Iraq being taken over by Pan-Islamist Wahhabi forces under the leadership of Bin Laden and Zarqawi. Or perhaps a return of the Baathists to power. Neither of these scenarios is remotely possible. The Shi'a, (65% of the Iraqi population) having tasted both freedom and power, with the latter being the more intoxicating, will never allow the their mortal enemies – the Sunni Jihadists to come to power. Even, if they didn't have the capability to stop the emergence of an Iraqi Taliban (which they do), their friends in Iran would put an end to such a threat in short order. Likewise, any attempt to return the “old guard” to power would be crushed with certainty.
The Insurgency’s Critical Vulnerability
The insurgency is a Sunni tribal revolt, seeking as its primary goal the protection and restoration of Sunni dominance over the Iraqi socio-economic and political system. This tribal revolt has been joined by the forces of global jihad due to a temporary convergence of interests - the desire to remove US and Multi-national forces. In fact, it is the very presence of these forces, especially the US forces that catalyzes both the active and passive support for the insurgency both within Iraq's Sunni community and in the broader Sunni-Islamic world. Removal of this catalyst will quickly expose the fractious nature of the Sunni -Jihadi alliance and greatly diminish popular support for the insurgency, especially for the Jihadi cause. This is due to the distinct divergence in the interests between Jihadists and Sunnis. The Jihadists are idealists who want to purify and unify the Islamic world beginning with Iraq. The motivations of the Sunni are more self-centered, simply seeking to regain their status as the dominant sect and short of that guarantee the best deal possible in any compromise. Herein lies the insurgency’s critical vulnerability. While the Jihadists seek the complete and humiliating defeat of the US, the Sunnis actually require US influence over the current government to protect their interests (although they may not yet realize it). If the US withdraws who will guarantee a role and protection of status for the Sunni minority from a possibly more radical Shi’a dominated government? By threatening withdrawal the US places the forces of insurgency on the horns of a dilemma. Continued violent resistance after a US withdrawal removes the pan-Arab, pan-Islamic fig leaf from the insurgency. It becomes publically what it already is – a religious-ethnic civil war – something the Jihadists seek but the more pragmatic Sunni will realize is not in their interests. Do the Sunni continue their alliance with the Jihadists or do they recognize their lot could become much worse if they continue to reject cooperation? Without the restraining and protective US presence the Shi’a dominated government will likely take quite aggressive action to suppress the insurgency.
How To Do It
Begin with statements like those uttered recently by Rumsfeld, Jaafari and Casey. “We will withdraw soon.” Get the Sunni leadership thinking about the real possibilities of what life might be like after a US withdrawal. If they don’t get the picture at first then give them a taste of it – turn the security of certain critical Sunni areas over to the Shi’a militias. Meanwhile, increase the intensity and quality of training for Iraqi security forces. Move as rapidly as possible to an situation where the US ground combat presence is mainly an advisory role a la El Salvador while continuing to provide combat support (artillery, air support, logistics, etc). (Another reason to withdraw is the Iraqi security forces will always be reluctant to engage if the Americans continue to do the heavy lifting)."