This article appeared in 2004 in "Middle East Policy." I have been asked by a number of people to post it on the blog.
"MILES O'BRIEN: You know, General, I've got to say, I'm having a hard time seeing the signs of success. We don't have much evidence that the Iraqis are stepping up to the plate. The U.S. is having to provide whatever security there is. We're approaching now 2,000 fatalities, lost U.S. men and women, and I see what I see are an increase spate of violence and I see a country on the cusp of civil war. How is that success?
MYERS: Well I think there's nobody that thinks they're on the cusp of civil war.
MILES O'BRIEN: Really?
MYERS: The Shia community no, of course not, Miles. The Shia community is not at war. The violent Sunni extremists. There are four provinces in Iraq and the city of Baghdad, a very important place, obviously, where the violence occurs. It does not occur in the rest of the country. There has been we've had elections. That is progress. We're going to have a we have a draft constitution. That is progress. We have a constitutional referendum coming up. Even the Sunnis I mean, we're talking about 80 or 90 percent of the Iraqi population, according to polls, say they're going to vote in the constitutional referendum and then they'll vote in the national elections that follow in a couple of months. That is progress." Miles O'Brien and General R. Myers
"Just like our troops did in 1776. I hope you've read the book." Myers
I guess he hasn't heard of Basra"
What book? Does this mean he has read just ONE book about the American Revolution?
Rumsfeld said the other day that this man was probably the greatest chairman of the Joint Chiefs in history. Assuming that he would include service chiefs before 1947 in his list of candidates, does that mean he thinks this towering intellect in blue is a greater man than George C. Marshall? Marshall was Chief of Staff of the US Army in WWII. It numbered 12,000,000 in the Ground, Air and Service Forces after he built it to that size. He was Secretary of State. He was Secretary of Defense. He was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. Myers is greater than him?
If you read through the transcript cited, you perceive a man who never really understood what the situation is in the Middle East, a man who always said YES to the boss, a man who has made his way by being pleasant.
George Marshall was not especially pleasant. Winston Churchill once pressed him for months over the idea of opening a front in the Balkans. Marshall resisted. FDR backed him, as he always did. At a meeting in London of the Combined Chiefs of Staff (where Churchill was FDR's equal), Churchill harangued him for hours over this with the expectation that he would eventually wear Marshall down. Marshall listened and listened, and listened. Finally, Churchill said, "So, you agree?"
Marshall said, "No. You can do what you please, but not one American soldier is going to die on that god damned beach." That was the end of that.
There are many books which describe George Marshall's life. Myers should have read a few of those.
According to George Casey, General, US Army, commander of US Forces in Iraq, Iraqi forces are declining (at the moment) in terms of combat ready battalions of infantry:
In June, the Pentagon told lawmakers that three Iraqi battalions were fully trained, equipped and capable of operating independently. On Thursday, Casey said only one battalion is ready.
"It doesn't feel like progress," said Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine.
Despite the drop, Casey hailed significant progress in training Iraqi security forces and noted that U.S. troops are embedded with more Iraqi units in mentoring roles than before. "Have we lost ground? Absolutely not," Casey said.
Casey said the Pentagon's standard for what constitutes a fully capable Iraqi battalion is high and that it's been difficult to ensure logistical support for Iraqi units. "I understand how it could be perceived as disappointing," he told Collins. Associate Press
It doesn't feel like progress, Senator, because it is not progress. The Army loves to do matrix type measurement of various things with lots of little boxes on spread sheets, and numerical values assigned to things that often are not measurable with numbers. Rumsfeld loves this. (metrics)
A proclivity to do this is bred deep into the officer corps and probably has something to do with the engineering school nature of West Point. When I taught there, I once watched them pick a civilian professor for a tenured job using this method. Interestingly, all the little numbers in the boxes indicated that this was the best person. They picked him. We all knew at the time that this man would be a terrible teacher, and he was, but the numbers came out that way and so they picked him.
Therefore, I am not altogether sure that Casey's NUMBER means a lot. It may just be a NUMBERS drill, perhaps by one of my former eleves. But, neveretheless, it is not good news.
This requires no comment by me.
"By Sidney Blumenthal
Sept. 29, 2005 | President Bush has no advisor more loyal and less self-serving than Karen Hughes. As governor of Texas he implicitly trusted the former Dallas television reporter turned press secretary with the tending of his image and words. She was mother hen of his persona. In the White House, Hughes devoted heart and soul to Bush as his communications director, until, suddenly, she returned home to Texas in 2002, citing her son's homesickness. There were reports that Karl Rove, jealous of power, had been sniping at her.
From her exile, Hughes produced a memoir, "Ten Minutes From Normal," which is deeply uninteresting and unrevealing. Amid long stretches of uninformative banality lie unselfconscious expressions of religiosity, accounts of how she inserted Psalms 23 and 27 into Bush's speeches after Sept. 11, 2001, and an entire page of small type reproducing a sermon she delivered on Palm Sunday aboard Air Force One. She quotes then National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice: "I think Karen missed her calling. She can preach."
After two undersecretaries of state for public diplomacy resigned in frustration in the face of the precipitous loss of U.S. prestige around the globe, Bush found a new slot for Hughes this year. She may be the most parochial person ever to hold a senior State Department appointment, but the president has confidence she can rebrand the United States.
This week, Hughes embarked on her first trip as undersecretary. Her initial statement resembled an elementary school presentation: "You might want to know why the countries. Egypt is of course the most populous Arab country ... Saudi Arabia is our second stop. It's obviously an important place in Islam and the keeper of its two holiest sites ... Turkey is also a country that encompasses people of many different backgrounds and beliefs, yet has the -- is proud of the saying that 'all are Turks.'"
Hughes appeared to be one of the pilgrims satirized by Mark Twain in his 1869 book, "Innocents Abroad," about his trip on "The Grand Holy Land Pleasure Excursion." "None of us had ever been anywhere before; we all hailed from the interior; travel was a wild novelty to us ... We always took care to make it understood that we were Americans -- Americans!"
Hughes' simple, sincere and unadorned language is pellucid in revealing the administration's inner mind. Her ideas on terrorism and its solution are straightforward. "Terrorists," she said in Egypt at the start of her trip, "their policies force young people, other people's daughters and sons, to strap on bombs and blow themselves up." Somehow, magically, these evildoers coerce the young to commit suicide. If only they would understand us, the tensions would dissolve. "Many people around the world do not understand the important role that faith plays in Americans' lives," she said. When an Egyptian opposition leader inquired why President Bush mentions God in his speeches, she asked him "whether he was aware that previous American presidents have also cited God, and that our Constitution cites 'one nation under God.' He said, 'Well, never mind.'"
With these well-meaning arguments, Hughes has provided the exact proof for what Osama bin Laden has claimed about American motives. "It is stunning ... the extent [to which] Hughes is helping bin Laden," Robert Pape told me. Pape, a University of Chicago political scientist who has conducted the most extensive research into the backgrounds and motives of suicide terrorists, is the author of "Dying to Win: The Strategic Logic of Suicide Terrorism," and recently briefed the Pentagon and the National Counterterrorism Center. "If you set out to help bin Laden," he said, "you could not have done it better than Hughes."
Pape's research debunks the view that suicide terrorism is the natural byproduct of Islamic fundamentalism or some "Islamo-fascist" ideological strain independent of certain highly specific circumstances. "Of the key conditions that lead to suicide terrorism in particular, there must be, first, the presence of foreign combat forces on the territory that the terrorists prize. The second condition is a religious difference between the combat forces and the local community. The religious difference matters in that it enables terrorist leaders to paint foreign forces as being driven by religious goals. If you read Osama's speeches, they begin with descriptions of the U.S. occupation of the Arabian Peninsula, driven by our religious goals, and that it is our religious purpose that must confronted. That argument is incredibly powerful not only to religious Muslims but secular Muslims. Everything Hughes says makes their case."
The undersecretary's blundering grand tour of the Middle East may be the latest incarnation of "Innocents Abroad." "The people stared at us everywhere, and we stared at them," Twain wrote. "We generally made them feel rather small, too, before we got done with them, because we bore down on them with America's greatness until we crushed them."
The stakes, however, are rather different than they were on "The Grand Holy Land Pleasure Excursion." Hughes' trip "would be a folly," Pape says, "were it not so dangerous."
BAGHDAD -- The top U.S. military intelligence officer in Iraq said Abu Musab Zarqawi and his foreign and Iraqi associates have essentially commandeered the insurgency, becoming the dominant opposition force and the greatest immediate threat to U.S. objectives in the country.
No! No! Zarqawi did not make himself the "face" of the insurgent war in Iraq. WE did! By we, I mean all the journalists, spinmasters, sycophantic generals, tourist politicians and deluded Jacobin ideologues who keep insisting that he personifies the Global War on Terror (GWOT) in its Iraq manifestation.
If you read the post below on the "Sunni Insurgency in Iraq" you will see that it is extremely unlikely that Zarqawi's "Al-Qa'ida in Iraq" has more than a few thousand people in action. His group is responsible for most of the suicide bombings in the country but the insurgents are mostly other kinds of people, people who have very different goals than Zarqawi.
Zahner's comment is unfortunate proof that we have not yet overcome our own fantasies in Iraq. Until we do so we have little hope of dealing with the reality that is the war in Iraq.
"Hughes said her remarks were part of a U.S. policy of "slowly advancing ideas" with the Saudis. "My job is to raise issues in, I hope, a respectful way, to help other countries understand concerns Americans have," she said.
Interesting. I assumed that Hughes saw her "job" as a PR effort to explain the US and its policies to the the Arab and Islamic Worlds. That would a normal diplomatic function. But, from what she has said in Egypt and Saudi Arabia it appears that she believes she has been sent forth to change the behavior and culture of these countries by "jaw-boning" them into seeing the error of their ancient ways. A belief in the possibility of success in that endeavor could only be described as breathtaking in its arrogance and ignorance.
Islamic culture has existed in a state of internal tension between tradition and modernism ever since its emergence in the Seventh Century of the Common Era. In every age there have been "reformers" who sought to adapt Islamic practise to what they saw as the need to re-interpret doctrine to fit changing circumstance. A long list of those variously condemned as heretics, apostates or outright unbelievers because they pursued such goals would be easy to produce. It would be a long list extending in time over many, many centuries.
The religion, especially in its Sunni (majority) form is remarkably resistant to change. In Arabic the word for innovation and the word for heresy are the same word (bida'). Perhaps that should tell us something.
Upon reflection, it is easy to see that the assignment of this Texas politician to the task of "converting" Islam and the culture of the Arabs into something that will "fit in" in Houston or Fort Worth is part and parcel of the administration's understanding of the world.
After all, these are the same people (with Jacobin reinforcements) who believed that Iraqis were eagerly awaiting the arrival of Western troops in order to throw off old, outmoded ways, embrace such ideas as "one man, one vote" and essentially become US.
Incredible. I wonder how long it will be until Hughes follows Beers and Tutwiler into oblivion.
The spin moguls in the administration and their faithless lackeys in corporate offices evidently got busy after Aaron Broussard's on the air denuncuation of the slowness of federal relief efforts in Louisiana.
That was on "Meet the Press" 3 weeks ago. Today Tim Russert told the world that the MSNBC website and "Blogsters" had "investigated" Mr. Broussard's activities and statements and had decided that he had "gilded the lily" a bit in what he said about "the cavalry" not showing up in time to keep people from dying.
Russert ungraciously played the tape of Broussard weeping over what he sees as the "abandonment" of his people and the unnecessary death of a friend's mother. He then challenged Broussard to defend himself against these accusations of lying and exageration.
I don't want to think the worst of Russert. Let us assume that he was giving Broussard the chance to defend himself. Let us hope that this is true.
The spinsters should give up on Broussard. He will beat them every time.
"and the main worry of all the neighbors" was that the potential disintegration of Iraq into Sunni, Shiite and Kurdish states would "bring other countries in the region into the conflict." Reuter and the NY Times.
Saud al-Faisal is one of the most careful, thoughtful men in the Middle East. He came to Washington and New York to politely deliver the message that the disruptive, revolutionary policy of the United States is de-stabilizing the region and that a de-facto partitiion of Iraq will lead to war across the Middle East on ethno-religious lines.
Yesterday, I sat with a member of the Saudi royal family to discuss this problem. This American educated prince told me that the Saudi government is now very concerned about Iranian ambitions, not just in Iraq, but eventually throughout the area and especially with regard to the oil reserves in the Kingdom and the Islamic Holy places in the Hijaz. He told me that American behavior is incomprehensible to the Saudis.
I have been told by American observers at the recent OPEC Vienna meeting and other recent meetings in the Gulf that the Iranian delegations at these meetings behaved with great arrrogance toward the Saudis, saying in private that they (Iran) will have Iraq and that the Saudis, and others, should adjust their positions accordingly.
We are going to reap the whirlwind. There are those among us who probably think that will be good. I do not.
Just heard Monica Crowley of MSNBC tell Don Imus (the semi-crazed seer of morning media) that Zarqawi is the leader of the terrorist insurgency in Iraq.
TALKING POINT!! "The insurgencies are altogether made up of Jihadis. Zarqawi is their leader."
THIS WILL BE ON THE QUIZ!! (In fact Zarqawi "owns" only a small percentage of the insurgents)
She then went on to say that what had "gone wrong" was that the United States had invaded only one country in the Middle East. She maintained stoutly that what is needed is to "take down" all the tyrants at once.
TALKING POINT!!! "More countries need regime change before a tranforming revolution will occur in the region."
WATCH OUT _______!!! (Fill in appropriate name)
Imus then asked her if she has an "IV drip" to receive her Jacobin neocon Koolaid every day or does she just "guzzle it" by the gallon.
NOMINATION: Monica Crowley for Jacobinette of the year.!!
"Okay, men, it's time to buck up and show our mettle," said a U.S. Special Forces soldier, acting as platoon commander, who allowed reporters to accompany the patrol on the condition that he not be named. "We can't let this stop us. We need payback!" Washpost
"Because the ranks of the Iraqi police force and army are filled mostly with Shiite Arabs and ethnic Kurds, they are perceived in many of the country's Sunni sections not as national forces but as factional hit squads bent on persecution. The ethnic tensions were evident in Tall Afar, a city of just over 200,000 predominated by Sunni Turkmens." Washpost
"What we're working toward is a national army, a national security force, not a Shiite or a Kurdish force, and anyone who thinks otherwise doesn't know the situation," said Maj. Chris Kennedy, the 3rd Armored Cavalry's executive officer. "We just had a recruiting drive for the army and got 400 recruits to sign up. Almost all of them are Sunnis. They will start basic training soon."
The view from Alexandria:
-We are doing much better in training Iraqi combat units. In some cases this is facilitated by integrating existing factional militia units into the new Iraqi forces. These people already have quite a lot of combat experience (against other Iraqis). Their senior leaders are particularly seasoned as is the commander of the 3rd Iraqi Division at Tel Afar. (He was formerly a senior leader of the Kurdish Pesh Merga)
-US Special Forces (Green Berets) are providing effective low level leadership and counseling for these new Iraqi units. I have been an advocate of this kind of "advising" since I have done it myself and know that it works. The experience of this kind of leadership will inspire the emergence of native junior leaders. It always does so. Unfortunately, the need for this "coaching" shows that the process of creating new, cohesive units is going to take a while. The Iraqi platoon mentioned in the article would have just sat down if the American SF sergeant had not gotten them up and moving.
-The US Command is focused on the need to get Sunnis (both Arab and Turkmen) into the forces. This is a sound policy. The difficulty in doing so is that for many of the potential recruits the choice of doing so involves cutting themselves off from much of their own communities, but it is worth trying.
Bottom Line: We are doing much better, but, the clock is running.
"Iraq's national security adviser, Mowaffaq al-Rubaie, told Reuters the investigation into the raid would focus on whether the two British men were in fact handed over to the militia group and whether they were found in an annex to the jail or a private house. Iraqi authorities admitted that insurgents had infiltrated the police and other security forces in Basra and elsewhere. "Our Iraqi security forces in general, and these in particular and in many parts of Iraq, I have to admit that they have been penetrated by some of the insurgents," Rubaie told the BBC. He said he did not know the extent of the infiltration, but said new procedures were in place to get rid of bad apples. Officials in Basra said at least 60 percent of the police force there is made up of Shiite militiamen from one of three groups: the Mehdi Army; the Badr Brigade, the armed wing of the Supreme Council of the Islamic Revolution in Iraq; and Hizbullah in Iraq, a small group based in the southern marshlands." Beirut Daily Star
Well, maybe the British SHOULD apologize. They were given the quietest area in Iraq. It was quiet because the Shia are waiting to see if the political struggle inspired by America's neocon strategy will give them control of the rump state of Iraq. With Basra "in hand" the Brits set out to demonstrate the superiority of their knowledge of counter-insurgency tactics, and "how to handle Arabs." For 2 1/2 years they have laughed at the ineptitude of the "Yanks" in trying to deal with the Sunni Arab insurgencies in the north.
What is the result? They have largely lost control of Basra to various Shia militias and to the police who are heavily infiltrated by Shia militia. Today, they are resucing their presence in the city because the governor of the province warned them off. Is this a problem? You can bet your life it is.
Any competent military planner prepares to deal with the worst eventuality. The worst case here is that at some future time we will need unimpeded access to the roads that run south through Basra. Will the British regain control of this Line of Communications that runs south from Baghdad to Kut to Basra to Kuwait. Don't bet on it. Britain has been a lukewarm political supporter of this enterprise from the beginning. Are they going to fight to regain control of Basra? Don't bet on it.
And still we have people like Reuel Gerecht trying to make optimistic noises about this situation on TV... Well, he should. He is one of the architects of the situation. People like him are still talking about adopting the French "oil spot" counterinsurgency strategy in Iraq. My God!!
You could have done that two and a half years ago if you had been willing to accept the reality of the insurgency. You could have done that if you had accepted General Shinseki's estimate of the troops needed for this campaign.
"Sept. 20 -- President Hamid Karzai on Tuesday questioned the need for further international military operations within Afghanistan, while the top U.S. military commander here predicted more fighting in the weeks ahead as Taliban guerrillas continue to mount attacks and U.S.-led forces respond.
Hamid Karzai is an Afghan, a Pushtun to be precise. He knows that Afghanistan is a wild, high, tribal place that was created in the 19th Century by imperial Britain and imperial Russia as a convenient buffer state between the boundaries of their Asian dominions. Their purpose in doing this was simple. The "Great Game" was being played at that time with increasing ferocity and danger of war in Central Asia. A neutral space was needed to cushion the effects of super-power competition. Domination and occupation of what is now Afghanistan had been attempted by both empires. They had found it to be an unprofitable, in some cases disastrous, enterprise. A brilliant idea emerged in Delhi, London and St. Petersburg. The conversation in these cities must have been something like this - "Let's draw lines around this unoccupied space on the map and recognize it as a sovereign state! What shall we call it? Ah. The strongest group call themselves 'Afghan.' Brilliant!"
The world has "cycled" a number of times since then and in the latest turning of the wheel of history we see the recreation of an independent Afghanistan under the aegis of the West and America in particular.
We Americans see the campaign in Afghanistan as just one theater of war in a global struggle against international Jihadism with the Moriarty-like figure of Usama bin Laden lurking in secret, somewhere. Afghanistan for us is a place to pursue his followers to the death.
Karzai is trying to tell us that Afghanistan is what it always was, a country made up of many ethno-religious communities, ruled at the local level by leaders whom we call "war lords" and who the Afghans know are the same as the tribal and regional figures who have always ruled this region. We are pleased to think of Afghanistan as an emerging, centralized and globalized democratic state, but the Afghans, like Karzai, know the truth. They know that Afghanistan is a poor, loosely knit country in which all the different factions and peoples in the country must be brought together by the "central government" in a consensus that establishes a "status quo" accepted by the local forces that will always hold the balance of power in the country.
Karzai also knows that the interests of all the foreign players must be satisfied if there is to be the modicum of quiet which would constitute "peace" in Afghanistan. Iran, Russia, Pakistan and now the United States must all be brought into consensus before the Afghans can once again weave exquisite textiles and play "Buz Kashi" in peace with their bearded Green Beret friends.
He wants us to stop pusuing OUR dreams in Afghanistan. Our dreams are too destructive, too massively disruptive. They are interfering with his important work for internal and external reconciliation. They are interfering with a return to the real Afghanistan.
"Four Things Greater Than All Things Are; Women And Horses, and Power and War." Rudyard Kipling writing on Afghanistan in the 19th Century.
Interesting stuff on CNN this morning.
Miles O'Brien had a good time beating up the mayor of New Orleans, Ray Nagin. The diatribe featured lots of hostile accusation of "turf defense," poor planning, vacillation, etc. Nagin tried to tell O'Brien that the city must be revived and that people want to go home but that he had directed a halt to the return because of the oncoming storm. Rita. This was to no avail. The attack went on.
O'Brien then brought on James Carville and tried the same thing out on him. He must have been surprised to hear Carville say that the people of new Orleans want to see their elected mayor in charge. He then said something probably unintelligible in the corporate offices of CNN. He reminded O'Brien of MG Ben Butler, the Union military governor of New Orleans in the Civil War. How surprising!!
Carol Costello, who once remarked that she had been interested to learn that Costello was sometimes an Irish name, had an even better time working over the Mayor of Gretna, Louisiana. He tried to tell her that his decision to block the bridge to New Orleans was a public safety decision but she insisted that there was more to it than that, Gotcha!! Costello then interviewed Aaron Broussard, the president of Jefferson Parish as to his reaction to what was going on. Broussard stated his support for Mayor Nagin. Then, later in the interview, he said what he believed to be the necessary requirements for life in the area as it is re-occupied. An hour later CNN replayed his interview and edited out his support for Nagin. Costello then went on to interview one Clancy Dubose (Phonetic)in Baton Rouge. Clancy is a columnist of some kind. She attempted to elicit a denunciation of Mayor Nagin from this man who resisted manfully in spite of her repeated interruptions and attempts to re-direct his comments. At last he finally said that" maybe the feds should take over." With visible relief, Costello said "Well, they are trying to do so but the Mayor inists that it is his city...." Mission Accomplished.
What's going on here? Could it be that CNN is responding to "thematic" guidance at the corporate level? What would the theme be? Would it be that the incompetence and immorality of local government in Louisiana should cause the American people to demand federal control there?
In reaction to my post yesterday on Federalism and "Reconstruction," Bad Tux wrote this thoughtful response. Since he IS a Pelican, I thought to post it here. Pat Lang
"My fear, as a Louisianian, is that this refusal to become Federal vassals is going to be used as an excuse by the Bush Administration to withhold funding to rebuild the majority of New Orleans.
New Orleans, and Louisiana as a whole, are rather unique in that they are important to the entire nation (as the largest-by-volume port in the United States and largest refiner of crude) yet receive very little direct tax revenue from that fact. New Orleans is prohibited from taxing the goods flowing through its port (interstate commerce, y'know), just as Louisiana is prohibited from taxing the oil flowing in the pipelines to those refineries and the gasoline flowing out of the pipelines from those refineries. While they can raise some tax revenue from property taxes on the infrastructure itself (pipelines, refineries, etc.), Louisiana is in the unenviable position of being a key linchpin of the U.S. economy, yet not itself able to gain much advantage from that fact. Mechanization has made this worse. It now only takes a few thousand workers to run the entire Port of New Orleans thus they don't even get much payroll advantage out of it. Similarly, today's refineries are so computerized that you might have a dozen people total running a billion-dollar refinery. (Usually there's more people than that out there -- there's always light bulbs to replace, instruments to calibrate, chemical nozzles to replace to keep the cooling towers Ph-balanced, etc. etc. -- but definitely not a big payroll). And the companies themselves conveniently headquarter themselves in states that have no income tax, so Louisiana cannot even tax their income.
The answer is economic diversification. But Louisiana is a very conservative state, conservative in the old meaning of the word -- they do not embrace change swiftly nor easily, one reason why New Orleans had such an old-world charm (they just never bothered changing). As late as the late 1980's, Louisiana was trying to attract heavy industry (such as, e.g., the GM pickup truck plant in Shreveport) at the same time that the U.S. economy as a whole was discarding industrial jobs in favor of services and intellectual property based jobs. A state which embraces change only reluctantly was in a poor position to, e.g., respond to the computer and semiconductor revolutions of the 1980's and 1990's by attracting semiconductor and computer companies to Louisiana, and indeed did rather poorly at doing so (and what few were attracted ended up at the bottom of Lake George, since they came here for New Orleans).
The end result is that Louisiana simply does not have the resources to rebuild from this natural disaster, and is reliant upon the "charity" of those who are reliant upon its ports and oil and gas industry.
In the end, that is sort of what federalism is all about -- i.e., that in exchange for getting the benefits of Louisiana, the other states agree to help Louisiana when it is in need -- but the Busheviks dismiss any notion of a "social contract." As far as they're concerned, Louisiana is just some place to be looted for their benefit.
My fear is that, if we go to New Orleans ten years from now, what we will find is a typical third world scene with people living in the ruins of their houses due to lack of funds to repair them while the only parts rebuilt are whatever is necessary to keep the port and refineries running. My fear is that Louisiana is, in effect, being abandoned by the United States. In which case it might as well go all the way and simply withdraw from the United States, and charge tariffs on all that oil and gas and cargo going through the state in order to pay for the necessary repairs to its infrastructure. Of course, they already tried that once, and it didn't work out too well...
- Badtux the Louisianian in Exile"
Mayor Nagin has pulled in his horns for the time being and postponed his planned re-opening of parts of the city of New Orleans until it is clear if Rita is going to swamp the place again. smart move.
Nevertheless, there remains the interesting issue of whether or not he, or Vice Admiral Allen USCG is in charge in the Crescent City. The mayor wants people back in his city. He correctly sees that as long as the city is empty it can be treated as a "project" in social experimentation by the same sort of people who gave us the Coalition Provisional Authority in Baghdad. "CPA2" is a term now whispered about in the Gulf region. The Finance Minister of Iraq complains about all the money that is missing from their treasury. What an opportunity this new campaign for freedom can become for "social uplift" and "constructive thinking." You can do a lot of constructive thinking when 200 billion dollars are involved. There are fears of a "disnification" of the city, a loss of its character as poor people are replaced with golf courses and five star hotels. New Orleans is a special place. Culturally it is not really an American city. It is Latin and African and very free of the Calvinism which so marks the Republic. We need New Orleans for many reasons, among them a reminder that life is more than rules and work.
Rove's name is being whispered in Washington as the man likely to rule as Czar of "Reconstruction" (an unfortunate choice of word in the South). The Democrats have spotted the conjunction of the Rove/Cheney/Chertoff axis of operation with the media "woof woofing" about "the corruption of state and local government," and the need for a "planned Reconstruction," (ah, there it is again). In reaction, the Democrats are beginning to mount a counter-offensive which will inevitably rest on the federal nature of the American republic.
Last time I checked Louisiana and Mississippi, having ratified the 13Th, 14Th and 15Th Amendments to the Constitution were re-admitted to the Union (federal occupation troops being withdrawn at the same time). Since then they have functioned as full and sovereign member states of the Union. They participate fully with the federal government and the citizenry in the scheme of shared sovereignty so brilliantly worked out at Philadelphia long ago.
It is difficult to carry off any scheme for centralized planning of reconstruction within member states of the Union without state cooperation. I hope that will not be attempted. The states have an automatic recourse to the Supreme Court on issues of federal expansiveness at their expense. The Supreme Court which Bush is busily constructing will be even more responsive to state arguments than the Rehnquist Court.
If forced to bet on the answer to my question "Who is in Charge?" I would bet that Barbour, Blanco and Nagin will be in charge.
People need to read this article. I have been around the national media enough in the last few years to recognize the essential truth of much of what this man has to say.
I found the quality of reporting in the Katrina crisis to be very good, amazingly good, but I suspected that once the shock of the disaster wore off, television news would be back to "softballing" criticism of the White House and repeating the "talking points" of the day.
With a few exceptions we no longer have a press/media in this country that functions as a "fourth estate." Instead, we have an industry that functions as all industries function. In business the Bottom Line is all, and advantage must be sought where it can be found. If that means that you have to muzzle your reporters, then, from the point of view of corporate "rulers" of the media, so be it!
The news coming from US Headquarters in Baghdad has been interesting but not very inspirational.
There is a major (for Iraq) operation ongoing in the Tel Afar area of far north western Iraq in which the 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment (a 5,000 man armored brigade really) is engaged with most of its deployable troops alongside a 5,000 man Iraqi military force.
They are doing what seemed likely a few weeks ago. They are trying to break up guerrilla redoubt or base areas along the Syrian border. The marines were working at that in the al-Qa'im/Haditha area along the Euphrates River a while back, and it was clear then that this would have to be done all along the border to prevent the enemy from consolidating control in such a way that the coalition could only enter the area in such strength as to be crippling elsewhere from thinning out forces.
So, that's what they are doing. The key thing to watch for here is whether or not the Iraqi forces are mature enough to maintain themselves in a city sympathetic to the insurgents after American forces are, of necessity, moved away. The small size of the American force in Iraq makes it inevitable that much of the 3rd ACR will depart after the operation ends. Then, we will see if the Iraqis can "hack it" in a tough place.
Unfortunately, it appears that the Iraqi troops at Tel Afar are mostly Kurdish. The Sunni and Shia Turkmen inhabitants of Tel Afar do not look upon Kurds with sympahty, and the use of such troops in a Turkmen city will be watched carefully by the Turkish General Staff in Ankara.
In the meantime we have the spectacle of a US Army general officer in Baghdad announcing once again that the insurgencies are on their last legs. 160 dead in one day. Some legs! You have to wonder if the people who make asinine statements like this realize how foolish and servile they make themselves in the eyes of ordinary people. I don't think they are really stupid so I will opine that they are just so conditioned to the "can do" spirit expected of "team players" that they can't help themselves.
I hope this works out for them. They can take the transcripts of their statements in with them the next time they go to be interviewd by Rumsfeld for a job.
Incidentally, the 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment was founded in the 1840s as a force of mounted infantry (not dragoons) needed to patrol the Oregon Trail. They were designed at that time to travel mounted and fight dismounted and they carried long, infantry rifles. In Mexico, General Scott watched them march into Mexico City and cried out "Brave Rifles. You have been baptised in fire and have come out steel." "Brave Rifles" has been the regimental motto ever since. God bless them.
People keep asking me how to "fix" the Iraq mess. Hey! I didn't make it a mess. Those that did should fix it.
Brings to mind the old saw about driving your car off a cliff. "Once you've done it you might as well enjoy the view on the way down."
I opted out of the policy business after Vietnam and refused to take jobs in that field from then on. Policy makers are in the business of trying to create some new reality that they fancy. Intelligence people are in the business of describing reality as it is or as they think it will come to be.
It is very important to keep these two functions separate because if you don't, then the policy guys start making decisions based on what it is they WANT TO SEE in support of their proposed new world.
Now, it is true that some intelligence people get "tapped" as individuals to do things for the government that are more in the nature of covert action, but that is not intelligence. Intelligence is about information.
Since I am interested in information and teaching the teachable. I offer the following two short pieces written by T.E. Lawrence, one on British occupied Mesopotamia and the other on the Revolt in the Desert. There is also a picture of an art deco bronze plaque of him which my wife bought me in Buenos Aires of all places.
BAGHDAD AND CAIRO – In the north and west of Iraq Wednesday, troops were wrapping up operations designed to restore government control to insurgent dominated towns, in an effort to deny foreign and local insurgents the "rat-lines" to move men and equipment into Baghdad and other cities to carry out major attacks.
The contrast betwee what are being described as largely succesful operations against insurgent hotbeds in Tal Afar, Qaim, and Haditha - towns with historic trading links to Syria that the US military says are way-stations for foreign fighters - and ongoing violence across the country, demonstrates the fluidity of Iraq's insurgency against thinly spread US and Iraqi forces.
In particular, the assault on the ethnic-Turkmen town of Tal Afar - where 8,500 US and Iraqi troops, largely drawn from the ethnic Kurdish peshmerga militia, took over the city this week - was aimed at limiting the mobility of Sunni insurgents. "It is a pathway from Syria that pretty historically was a trading route and smuggling route into Iraq," said US military spokesman Lt. Col. Steve Boylan.
An estimated 200 militants were killed and hundreds captured. But as forces moved on the city, the US military said many insurgents simply fled, using a network of tunnels they'd created in advance of the assault. That pattern has become increasingly common since the April assault on Fallujah, where hundreds of insurgents died in the most sustained combat of the war.
Instead of standing up to superior US firepower - particularly air support that drops 500-pound bombs on insurgent positions - insurgents now generally avoid major engagements. Instead of holding their ground, insurgents are counting on US forces to eventually withdraw and on the Iraqi forces left behind not being able to prevent their return.
So far, that approach has worked. This was at least the third major assault on Tal Afar in the past 18 months. As in previous engagements in western Iraqi towns along the Euphrates like Hit, Haditha, and Qaim, the insurgents reasserted themselves when US forces were shifted elsewhere.
Colonel Boylan says that while much of the US effort is focused on shutting off infiltration into Iraq, completely sealing Iraq off isn't likely. "To say it's shutdown is difficult. It's almost impossible to physically shut it down."
That's because of the topography of the desert and expanses of arid plains in along the 270-mile border with Syria, Boylan noted.
"The border is absolutely something you can't seal. I wandered back and forth across those borders in the region for a long, long time where there's supposed to be border guards and desert police, but you just don't see them,'' says Col. Pat Lang (ret.), a former head of Middle East intelligence analysis for the Pentagon's Defense Intelligence Agency.
Colonel Lang says that when the US masses troops, as in Tal Afar, it's always going to win, but that it doesn't have enough troops to deny insurgents sanctuary elsewhere, essentially shifting the problem around.
"The insurgents are increasingly creating redoubt areas, the kinds of places we can't go without stripping people from elsewhere and entering in large numbers,'' says Lang. "Therefore the insurgents own it 95 percent of the time. The object of the drill for the guerrillas is not to fight [US forces] head-to-head, but to wait until they have an advantage."
That's what happened in much of the Western portion of the Sunni-dominated Anbar province this year. In a major operation there last March, US Marines swept through Hit and other cities, and encountered little resistance as insurgents melted away. At the time, Marine commanders fretted about what would happen when they rotated out at the end of the month, and were replaced by other Marine units with about 1,000 fewer troops.
Officers and enlisted men at the time said they worried that their replacements would be in greater danger because of their smaller size. Roads wouldn't be patrolled as often to keep them clear of concealed bombs. At least 40 US troops have been killed in Western Anbar since the start of August.
And in Tal Afar, a city of 200,000 people, there are other concerns. The city's mostly Turkomen population views the Kurds as their ancestral enemies, so ethnic tension could be ratcheted up after using mostly Kurdish militias to attack the city.
Walid Sharika, a Turkman member of the national assembly and on a government committee focusing in Tal Afar, says that while he's glad the assault took place, ethnic divisions there have been widened.
"This should have happened four or five months ago because Tal Afar is one of the most important terrorism bases in all the world. I believe for a lot of problems in Iraq the source is Tal Afar," he says.
Even so, "more than half the city is destroyed and there are a lot of refugees living in a camp and we lost children and elderly," says Sharika.
Meanwhile in Baghdad, at least a dozen explosions thundered across the city, with the deadliest a suicide attack that killed at least 114 laborers waiting for jobs in a Shiite neighborhood. In total, at least 152 were killed - the single largest one-day death toll attributed to insurgent attacks in Baghdad.
Hey folks, here we go. This guy is nobody in Syria but the Neocon, Jacobin crowd are pushing him as a neo-Lincolnesque figure.
To quote the ending from one of my favorite childhood films, "The Thing From Another World," "Watch the Stars. Keep Watching the Stars..."
Or, watch this space.
(Yes. It's true. This is from MEMRI. Have a ball with this.) http://www.memri.org/bin/opener_latest.cgi?ID=SD98605
An Israeli who is opposed to Sharon's existence much less his policy took these pictures near Peta Tikva in the eastern suburbs of Tel Aviv and a few mile northeast of Ben Gurion Airport. You can see this place on Google Earth in an earlier stage of construction.
The Israeli is unhappy. He says this is an "American Base." He thinks that this "base" is connected to Bush/Sharon policy toward Syria. He is unhappy because he sees this as a diminution of Israel's "sovereignty." He clearly does not understand the Bushian view of such matters as "sovereignty."
When I first looked at these pictures my reaction was that this was a "surge" facility for storage of materiel and command and control of forces that might go there in a contingency situation.
The more I think about it the more I think that is true, but that the implications of its existence in that place should be examined.
I received the following from a trusted friend in Israel -
"This is a base for the IDF, built by the US, in accordance with the Wye River Agreement. It should replace the Yamach [Emergency Storage Unit] of 720 Division, which used to be in Anatot."
"Politics cannot solve what ails Iraq now. It can help, and certainly the constitution is an important step in that direction. But at the end of the day, it's only when the so-called dead-enders are either dead or vanquished that one can count on the political process moving decisively forward as most Iraqis desire."
Schmitt, the author of the op/ed referenced below and quoted above is boss of the "Project for the New American Century," a foundation seemingly designed to provide a final refuge for the Jacobin crowd.
This is pretty tough stuff. I always worry when all this bloodthirsty, death and destruction language pops up in the utterances of those who wish to influence policy and who clearly did so.
This guy is one of the head Neocons. I was on a panel yesterday in which a former NSC staffer was asked to what extent the Neocons were responsible for President Bush's decision to go to war. He said, "They made the Kool-aid that others drank." Schmitt's present opinions are clarifying with regard to the quality of the brains in the heads of the men who took us to war. Nothing is more warlike than a civilian with a political obsession and minimal combat experience.
Contrary to popular mythology and the drivel that soldiers tell women on occasion, there are always a fair number of people in armies who are not personally averse to combat. They are the people who keep the outfit functioning under fire. Shh! Don't tell anyone! Nevertheless, it has been my experience that most of those so blessed (or damned) are not willing to advocate an easy resort to arms. In the years that I spent in the Pentagon, it was almost a joke that the Joint Chiefs of Staff would always advise against war when the government gave them the opportunity to advise. "A Council of War Never Votes To Fight" is an old military aphorism and I have known it to be true. Now, in the time of Generalissimo Rumsfeld it may be different.
So what is it that this paragon of the civilian tough guy crowd has as an option for extricating ourselves from the mess that he and his pals convinced the president to create? He says we have to fight until "the so-called dead-enders are either dead or vanquished."
What a brave soul! "Let's You and Him fight" might be the summation of this op/ed piece. Political accommodation of the Sunni Arabs? No. A retreat from the lunacy of "One man, One vote" in an essentially tribal society? No! A Willingness to talk to the non-Jihadi insurgents? No! No!
"Let's You and Him Fight!!!" This begins to make the idea of recruiting the "Young Republicans" as special counterinsurgency troops more and more attractive.
Yesterday Robert Kagan, who, along with Bill Cristol, advocated intervention in Iraq for years wrote a column in the Washington Post in which he essentially whined over the fact that victory has many friends but misfortune is an orphan. Translation: People are nasty to us now and those on the Left who engaged their private obsessions on our behalf are now deserting us. Sob...
People like Kagan schemed for a decade to achieve armed intervention in Iraq. They wrote and caused to be passed by compliant members, the "Iraq Liberation Act" 0f 1998. They did it "to force Clinton's hand" on Iraq. The staffers who did it boasted to me of their achievement at the time. And he wants sympathy? His column ends Thusly:
"It's interesting to watch people rewrite history, even their own. My father recently recalled for me a line from Thucydides, which Pericles delivered to the Athenians in the difficult second year of the three-decade war with Sparta. "I am the same man and do not alter, it is you who change, since in fact you took my advice while unhurt, and waited for misfortune to repent of it."" Schmitt
Ah, the Funeral Oration. My Classics teachers would be glad that it is still remembered, but Pericles was a fighting man as well an orator.
My favorite part of the "Peloponesian War" has always been the "Melian Dialogue" in which Athens attacks and utterly destroys a small, harmless and neutral city state with which the Athenians had no real cause for anger.
it was just "policy" to do so, and the "greater good" of Athenian leadership of the Greek World was served.
Don't whine! Any of you!
"GOVERNOR BLANCO FAILED TO ASK FOR FEDERAL MILITARY ASSISTANCE EARLY ENOUGH AND THAT IS WHY THE DISASTER OCURRED AND POOR BLACK PEOPLE WERE ABANDONED BY THE GOVERNMENT OF LOUISIANA."
THIS POINT IS BEING EXPLAINED AT SOME LENGTH TO MINORITY RELIGIOUS AND POLITICAL LEADERS.
THIS POINT HAS BEEN PICKED UP BY THE CABLE NEWS MEDIA WHO WERE PUSHING IT TODAY. THE ROOSTER'S TAIL MUST HAVE SWUNG AROUND DURING THE NIGHT SO THAT THE BEAK IS ONCE AGAIN POINTING AT THE WHITE HOUSE.
LET'S SEE ---- THE SCENE AT THE WHITE HOUSE (HERE AND CRAWFORD), WYOMING AND THE SITUATION ROOOM IN THE WEST WING MUST HAVE BEEN SOMETHING LIKE THIS:
"GEE WHIZ, GEORGE, ETC., THE TV PICTURES ARE TERRIBLE FROM N.O.. YOU KNOW, ITS TOO BAD BLANCO DIDN'T ASK FOR FEDERAL MILITARY HELP WHEN SHE WROTE US THAT LETTER ON THE 27TH AND THEN CALLED...
"WELL, DICK, SHE KNOWS WHAT SHE WANTS AND ALL SHE ASKED FOR WAS "EVERYTHING WE HAVE," BUT SHE DIDN'T ASK FOR TROOPS, AND WITHOUT THOSE WORDS..."
"MAYBE WE SHOULD CALL HER BACK AND ASK IF THERE WAS SOMETHING ELSE SHE WANTED?"
"NO, DICK, I WOULDN'T WANT TO HURT HER FEEINGS, AND YOU KNOW ABOUT THE "POSSE THINGY."
Sure as hell it is in the newspapers today that a large percentage of the "Iraqi" troops at Tel Afar are Kurdsh Pesh Merga (or were). pat lang
"The offensive in Tal Afar is especially delicate because of the tangle of ethnic sensitivities in the region.
About 90 percent of the city's population — most of which fled to the countryside before the fighting began — is Sunni Turkmen, who have complained about their treatment from the Shiite-dominated government and police force put in place after the U.S. invasion in 2003.
Addressing that complaint, Interior Minister Bayan Jabr announced Saturday that another 1,000 police officers would be hired in Tal Afar after the offensive, and they would be chosen from the Turkmen population.
The Turkmen have a vocal ally in their Turkish brethren to the north, where Turkey's government is a vital U.S. ally and has fought against its own Kurdish insurgency for decades. Tal Afar is next to land controlled by Iraqi Kurds.
Turkey voiced disapproval of U.S. tactics when American forces ran insurgents out of Tal Afar a year ago. The Turkmen residents complained that Iraqi Kurds were fighting alongside the Americans.
U.S. and Kurdish officials denied the allegation, but the Turkish government threatened to stop cooperating with the Americans. The siege was lifted the next day and insurgents began returning when the Americans quickly pulled out, leaving behind only a skeleton force of 500 soldiers.
For those reasons, U.S. forces have stood back during the new sweep through Tal Afar, allowing Iraqi forces to break down doors in the search for insurgents." Yahoo News
All right... Now, how many of the 5000 Iraqi troops in this operation are Turkmen? How many do you suppose are former Kurdish Pesh Merga militia recruited from among the ancestral enemies of the Turkmen? How many are Shia Arabs who used to belong to SCIRI and Dawa Party militias?
We generally don't have a clue in dealing with ethnic issues, mush less regional issues. When I was stationed in Saudi Arabia, as Defense Attache in the embassy, I used to go to the field to observe exercises of the Saudi National Guard. This is an all Beduin force separate from the Saudi Army. Why did I do that? It was my job to keep track of the state of training of all Saudi forces.
On one of these trips, I noticed a Lieutenant in a motorized full time unit (second tier) who looked different. In talking to him it became clear that by his accent he was something different. I asked him what tribe he was from. He said "Beni Sakhr." This was interesting because this is a tribe in Jordan.
"Yes," he said. "I am a Jordanian Army officer seconded to the Saudi Guard."
"Do they know that?" I asked him of the Americans conducting the exercise.
"No," he said with a laugh. "They never asked in the month we have been together. They think they are teaching me something. I am a Sandhurst graduate."
We often don't understand what we are dealing with.
"Here are some simple ways to identify a real democratic election. The ruling party should not be allowed to shape the election arrangements and intimidate voters. The candidates should be able to compete on a reasonably level playing field. Impartial observers should be welcome and given time to deploy themselves at polling places nationwide.
Not one of these defining features was evident in last week's Egyptian presidential voting, whose main purpose was to usher President Hosni Mubarak into his fifth six-year term. On Friday he was officially declared the winner, collecting 88.5 percent of the votes." NY Times
Did anyone really think that there was going to be an honest election in Egypt? If you did, you ought to contemplate the issue of whether or not you really understand the limits of American power.
The assumption inherent in the Bush "Greater Middle East Initiative" is that through a combination of exhortation, military force (or the threat of it), political "jaw-boning," a possibility of sanctions and "public diplomacy" (propaganda), the US can cause a general change in the political and social culture of the Middle East.
This is nonsense, a structure of fantasy based on the idea that there really is only one world culture and that we Americans represent the "bow wave" of that culture. In spite of all out talk about diversity and multi-culturalism the great majority of us think that everyone is basically the same and that local "culture" consists of Kodak Moments.
Iraq, Egypt, Afghanistan, Palestine, Lebanon. Things are not develping in accordance with "the plan" in any of these places:
Iraq - Best outcome will be a Shia dominated government isolated in a hostile Sunni World. Worst outcome will be a divided Iraq. We will be hated for either of these outcomes across the Arab World.
Afghanistan - Karzai is basically the mayor of Kabul protected there by foreign forces.
Egypt - They basically ignored us and if we succeed in breaking up the existing order there we will face the prospect of a fundamentalist government.
Palestine - They still hate the Israelis even after the withdrawal from Gaza. Hamas and armed resistance are credited with causing the withdrawal..
Lebanon - The former security chiefs are jailed in the Hariri investigation. Did they kill Hariri? No idea, but guess what? These fellows were Rafik Hariri's right hand men when he was Prime Minister for two terms. How can that be? The truth is that Rafik Hariri cooperated closely with Syria throughout his time in office. He was the "man" for various people but the rulers of Syria were at the top of the list. His conversion to the cause of "democaracy" began when he left office for the second time and began to prepare for this year's election as a reform candidate acceptablle under the "Greater Middle East Initiative." His "laundering" into the exemplar of a champion of democracy is one of the marvels of image management of our time. What's new in Lebanon? Different people in jail and an increase of Hizbollah power, that's what.
So, what is going wrong in the "Greater Middle East Initiative?"
You tell me. Karen Hughes has a big job.
"In the short term, the election will make little difference. It failed to even address two big questions. The first is that of the succession to Mr Mubarak, who in dynastic style that the ancient pharaohs would have recognised, has been grooming his son Gamal to take over from him. The other is what role there will be for Islamist parties. The Muslim Brotherhood, the country's largest and oldest opposition movement, remains banned and unable to participate in legal politics. Until it can, true multi-party democracy will not exist.
The thing to watch is whether the Mubarak regime will seek to muzzle now emboldened opposition parties or whether they will be able freely to contest parliamentary elections in November. If they are then the Arab world's most populous country may yet see real change. America, Britain and Europe, have every interest in ensuring it does." Guardian
I would not bet any of MY money on Gamal holding the reins of power for very long. There are some tough "players" in the Egyptian government scene. For now, they are dutifully "tugging their forelocks" for the bosses son. Once the old man is gone, all bets will be off, and the sharks will start to circle the young man.
If the Muslim Brothers (Ikhwan Muslimeen) or one of their spin offs win power we will see an interesting "dance" as they maneuver toward a Sharia Law State and the US tries to persuade itself that this is the outcome it always wanted. After all, it would be DEMOCRACY!!
The State Department, US Embassy and US Ambassador statements would be fun to watch.
Jon Stewart-Watch this space.
An interesting article from the "Asia Times."
Someone wrote to me yesterday that he thought Iran was a republic at the time of Mossadegh and that the US and Britain had removed the constitutionally elected head of the Iranian Republic and installed a king (the Shah).
Someone else said that Mossadegh was "Premier" not "Prime Minister," i.e., the chief among the Shah's ministers. In fact, there is no difference between the two terms and he was the Shah's Prime Minister, and a politician descended from the previous royal house. He decided that he would rather run the show than be head of govenrment for a young man from the family that had displaced his own. Mossadegh knew that the Persian masses were highly xenophobic and very tired of the presence which the Soviet Union and Britain had established in Iran before and during WW2. Mossadegh was clever enough to wager that he could use anti-Western, and anti-colonial feelings in the country to mobilize opinion to force the constitutional monarch out. He lost his bet.
Khomeini did much the same thing forty years later. He won his bet.
Let's get the facts straight before discussing a present situation which is based on past history.
"To remain in power Mossadegh knew he would have to continue consolidating his power. Since Iran's monarch was the only person who constitutionally outranked him, he perceived Iran's 33-year-old king to be his biggest threat. In August of 1953 Mossadegh attempted to convince the Shah to leave the country. The Shah refused, and formally dismissed the Prime Minister, in accordance with the foreign intelligence plan. Mossdegh refused to quit, however, and when it became apparent that he was going to fight, the Shah, as a precautionary measure foreseen by the British/American plan, flew to Baghdad and on from there to Rome, Italy.
Commentators assumed it was only a matter of time before Mossadegh declared Iran a republic and made himself president. This would have made him the full head of state and given him supreme authority over the nation, something Mossadegh had promised he would never do.
Once again, massive protests broke out across the nation. Anti- and pro-monarchy protestors violently clashed in the streets, leaving almost 300 dead. Funded with money from the U.S. CIA and the British MI6, the pro-monarchy forces quickly gained the upper hand. The military intervened as the pro-Shah tank regiments stormed the capital and bombarded the prime minister's official residence. Mossadegh surrendered, and was arrested on August 19, 1953." Wikepedia
"FARS News Agency reported on September 6 that the Islamic Republic Guards
Corps [IRGC] spokesman said: "When the White House is [too] miserable to
deal with a natural disaster, how can it enter into military confrontation
with a [powerful] country like the Islamic Republic of Iran that has the
valuable experience of an eight-year sacred defence [Iran-Iraq war]?"
Mas'ud Jazayeri said: "Unlike the impression it gives, America's management
and leadership power is like a balloon that can be deflated very easily." He
said what happened during America's military actions against Afghanistan and
Iraq confirmed his statement. He added: "The incompetence of America's
self-made giant in Iraq shows the inefficiency of the US Defence and State
Departments and security apparatus more than the strength of the opposite
Asked whether America would take military action against Iran, the IRGC
spokesman said: "A small mistake by America will turn each of its states
into a crisis zone. Mismanagement and severe psychological problems that
occurred during Hurricane Katrina openly explain that other countries have
the power to turn different parts of America into war-hit zones at any point
of time. ...
"Insider information reveals a lack of coordination among military, security
and political bodies of America. This information can help others deliver a
blow against the US and cause many damages. Therefore, predictions of the
collapse of America and its turning into a number of smaller states is
completely realistic and possible from practical and logical points of view.
... Never forget one thing about that incident [September 11, 2001], and
that is the fact that the US president and other official fleds and took a
- FARS News Agency, Iran
Let's keep our "eye on the ball, folks." Iran is a resolute enemy of the United States. All the nonsense that the neocons and their flunkies in the media and government spread before the Iranian election about the coming "youth revolution" turned out to wrong!!! Instead, an extreme hardliner connected to the Pasdaran was elected president. This statement by a Pasdaran spokesman should be taken seriously.
Iran is and has been the major state sponsor of Islamic terrorism, sedition, and violence ever since the creation of the Islamic Republic in 1979. The hostage takers who once virtually ruled Lebanon were a small group of Lebanese and Iranians operating directly under Iranian government control.
You didn't like the Shah? Look what you got instead! Governments are faced continuously with decisions that must be made between unpalatable alternatives. The Shah was a tyrant? What do you call the regime that is running Iran now?
Like all Islamic zealot groups the Iranian government sees the world in "apocalyptic" terms. Like AQ, the Islamic Republic seeks a future world in which Islam is a world theocratic state, a universalist "Ummah."
Their negotiations with the Europeans are striclty tactical in nature. They have no intention of giving up their nuclear program. I am sure that they find the evident sincerity of European efforts at peace mongering to be amusing. You can also be sure that they find our more or less unintentional progress in installing a Shia government in Iraq to be evidence of our incomprehension and weakness.
"other countries have the power to turn different parts of America into war-hit zones at any point
of time. ..." FARS
People should not let their dislike and suspicion of the Bush Administration blind them to the danger that is Iran.
[Larry C Johnson]
[Larry C Johnson]
seems like a reasonable question to me.
ARE YOU WILLING TO LEAVE BARNEY BEHIND TO DROWN OR TOSS HIM OVERBOARD
ARE YOU WILLING TO LEAVE BARNEY BEHIND TO DROWN OR TOSS HIM OVERBOARD?
ASK PRESIDENT BUSH :
How to help the animals devastated by Hurricane Katrina. Perhaps you saw the image on television of the Golden Retriever swimming desperately after the Coast Guard boat begging to be rescued. They left him. For animal lovers all over the world, heartbreak has turned to fury – white hot outrage. Call the Congress Capital Switchboard: 202-224.3121. Call the White House Switchboard: 202-456- 1414 OR 1111 (see below) OVERWHELM THEIR PHONE LINES. THIS IS NOT ACCEPTABLE. WE ARE CITIZENS, WE PAY TAXES, WE WILL NOT STAND FOR THIS. CALL THEM AND TELL THEM TO SAVE THE ANIMALS NOW. NOT ANOTHER DAMNED PRESS CONFERENCE UNTIL THEY PUT BOATS IN THE WATER TO SAVE THE ANIMALS.
How to help the animals devastated by Hurricane Katrina.
Perhaps you saw the image on television of the Golden Retriever swimming desperately after the Coast Guard boat begging to be rescued. They left him. For animal lovers all over the world, heartbreak has turned to fury – white hot outrage.
Call the Congress Capital Switchboard: 202-224.3121.
Call the White House Switchboard: 202-456- 1414 OR 1111 (see below)
OVERWHELM THEIR PHONE LINES. THIS IS NOT ACCEPTABLE. WE ARE CITIZENS, WE PAY TAXES, WE WILL NOT STAND FOR THIS.
CALL THEM AND TELL THEM TO SAVE THE ANIMALS NOW.
NOT ANOTHER DAMNED PRESS CONFERENCE UNTIL THEY PUT BOATS IN THE WATER TO SAVE THE ANIMALS.
There used to be somethng called the "Principles of War" which were taught and believed in the US Army. These were earthy bits of wisdom mainly derived from Napoleon's "Maxims." Really broad concepts that needed to be considered in planning anything were among the principles.
-Economy of Force
There were a good many more. All had a basic idea associated with them.
One of the more sacred among these "principles" was that of
"Unity of Command." This carried with it the idea that in any endeavor there should be one authority who could coordinate the efforts of all to ensure that things do not "fall through the cracks," that school buses are not left to drown when they are needed to save the poor for example.
We have been "at this moment" for a week now. Where is "Unity of Command" at this late date?
Can anyone tell me that?
As a troglodytic old soldier I count the following "stovepiped" chains of command:
-Louisiana and Mississippi state government, which at least in the case of Louisiana MAY include its National Guard since it is written that Governor Blanco declined to surrender control of the Louisiana Guard (correctly, I believe). It certainly includes the State Police.
-The "active duty forces." This is LTG Honore's command. (and no more) The 82nd (part), the 1st Cav. (part), some US Marines, some Navy, maybe the out of state parts of the National Guard. (does anyone know if these non-state units were legally brought into federal service?) If not, then their states are paying them and they are not "active duty forces," and therefore not under Honore.
-New Orleans and other municipal authorities with their police and fire departments.
-The FBI and other federal police.
Maybe we need Napoleon, or perhaps Honore to sort this out. Maybe Stonewall Jackson? Heavens! Not that.
Getting a grip on the crisis response operation in Louisiana and Mississippi is analogous to trying to manage three women who are told to share the same kitchen to cook for their respective families. As someone who lived through the experience of trying to keep peace when women from two different families had to share a kitchen in one house believe me, it ain't easy. The key to success is a clear chain of command and precise definitions of who can do what and when they can do it. Those lessons learned on the small scale of managing conflict in the kitchen would serve us well in the massive effort required to recover from Katrina.
Before I get lambasted as a sexist pig or as someone trivializing the horror underway along the Gulf Coast, let me reassure you that I am only trying to put the management challenge of Katrina in terms the average person can understand. When you throw Federal, State, local, and private authorities together to manage the rescue and recovery operation along the Gulf Coast you are putting people with competing interests, who are each trying to do what they think is best, on a path of conflict unless there are clear and precise chains of command. The failure to clarify who is in charge leads to conflict, duplication of effort, and wasted resources.
Take what happened yesterday, for example. The 82nd Airborne is providing security in one sector of New Orleans. They are recently returned from Iraq and are no nonsense when it comes to security. They were stopping Louisiana State Police, who were in uniform and clearly marked vehicles, and prohibiting them from transiting the sector the Army was guarding. Needless to say this did not create warm fuzzy feelings between the Police and the Army. In fact, senior Police and Military officials had to spend time yesterday sorting out this issue rather than dealing with rescue and recovery.
It is both frightening and ironic that the rescue and recovery operation in New Orleans in particular and Louisiana in general has been so ragged. With the exception of New York City, Louisiana had more experience dealing with multiple jurisdiction crisis incidents, particularly chemical spills and industrial fires, than any other region in the country. The plethora of petroleum and chemical facilities in the area, coupled with railroad, port, and highway transportation hubs, routinely confronted State and local authorities with the duty of cooperating to put out a fire, control the leak from an over turned chlorine tank, or evacuate an area threatened by a toxic cloud.
Admittedly the scale and scope of the destruction the Federal, State, and local authorities now confront is without precedent. At least 50 oil platforms in the Gulf of Mexico have disappeared completely. There are over 100 boats sunk in the Mississippi River that are obstructing river traffic. Chemical storage tanks have been breached and there is a growing risk of spontaneous explosions in undamaged pipelines and storage tanks as hindering agents degrade with the passage of time.
Once the process of clean up and restoration is well underway there needs to be a serious "hotwash" aka after action review. Friends of mine on scene are scratching their heads about a variety of issues. For example, one experienced hand called the Operations Center the day after the hurricane and recommended that helicopters capable of dropping water to put out fires be prepositioned. His recommendation was rejected initially. Once the fires broke out, however, the urgent request for helicopters was issued.
Other hotwash issues (in no order of importance):
1. Pet Rescue--Many people still in New Orleans refused to leave their homes because they would not abandon their pets. FEMA prohibited evacuees from bringing out their pets. Once the media is on scene showing images of shivering dogs stranded on car roofs pet lovers around the world demand action. Accordingly, many of the resuce forces are currently going after starving and thirsty animals. Next go round, ensure that there is a system in place to evacuate pets as well. It could be a logistics nightmare but I doubt it could be any worse than having to track down folks hiding in flooded neighborhoods 8 days after the hurricane.
2. The Debacle at the Dome and Convention Center--the failure of Federal, State, and local authorities to provide basic services to those who sought refuge have friends of mine in Louisiana scratching their heads. No one seized the initiative in the immediate aftermath of the hurricane to provide food, water, sanitation, and security. Leaving thousands of Americans to stew in their waste is inexcusable. Two key questions need to be answered: 1) why did the State and Local evacutation plan fail to move these residents to a site where their needs could be met? and 2) why did Federal planners on scene at the Louisiana Crisis Operations Center fail to intervene or call upon expedient resources?
There is a slight silver lining in the black cloud hanging over the Gulf. The people currently involved in the operation are learning things that can't learn through books or exercises. If we capture the lessons learned then we will be better prepared to deal with future tragedies. If not, we will repeat the past and more Americans will die. "
Actually, Larry IS a sexist pig but manages to conceal it most of the time.
In an impressive display of administration-wide discipline and coordination Vice President Cheney was right "on the money" today in Gulfport. He followed the "talking points" without a flaw in his performance and diction.
-Fulsome praise was bestowed on "first providers."
-State officials and state government were given "faint praise." So faint I could not hear it. Perhaps I missed it but Governor Barbour did not seem to be in evidence in Gulfport. (perhaps he offered some private word of critique for FEMA in private, and had "something else to do today.") If that is wrong, let me know.
-A direct appeal to the people as the recipients of federal largesse bypassing credit for local and state government was made with considerable effectiveness.
-The military, both National Guard and "active duty forces," were repeatedly referred to as instruments of federal assistance. The NG was mentioned repeatedly as coming from "across the country" thus minimizing the role of local action and maximizing the image of a benevolent federal government.
Well Done! I would give the planners an A-, and hope that they can do even better!! The meetings in which these things are decided must be marvelous.
"BAGHDAD, Sept. 7 -- Voter registration soared in some Sunni Arab parts of Iraq as Sunnis mobilized to try to vote down a draft constitution they believe will divide the country, according to figures released Wednesday at the close of registration for the Oct. 15 referendum."
The Sunni Arabs of Iraq are going to try to turn out enough voters to defeat the draft constitution. No one knows if they will find enough people to be able to do that.
In a way it does not matter.
Not difficult to see.
Many Sunni Arabs do not want a constitution which relegates them to the status of a "tolerated" minority," deprived of a "fair" share of "national" wealh. They do not see this draft document as a desirable outcome.
Many Sunni Arabs support some part of the insurgencies, either actively or passively.
1-Therefore if the constitution is enacted many Sunni Arabs will continue to support the insurgencies.
2-Therefore, if the constitution is not enacted many Sunni Arabs will continue to support the insurgencies.
i.e., the war will go on either way. What part of this do we not get?
(See my earlier post on the irrelevance of the October election)
1-First providers are noble beings without fault.
2-State and local officials were a "problem."
3-The president tried to take action early but the locals got in the way and were stubborn probably because of the injustice of their "culture."
4-This is not the time for recriminations. We must do the people's work. (Really sounds like Bill)
5-We should study "lessons learned" from this, and not attribute blame. (Important point for FEMA Director Brown, but since he was head of Arabian Horse Association, it has been suggested that he could be a Middle East analyst for cable news.)
6-Congress and the president will investigate this on a bi-cameral, bi-partisan basis reporting next year (when no one remembers anything and just before Mardi Gras).
7-Federal aid is fixing everything in spite of local ineptitude.
I was trained as a propaganda staff officer at one point. This is a hell of a job. Congratulations. Always tell them what they would like to believe and they will "go for it."
Larry C. Johnson
While watching the MSNBC program, CONNECTED, COAST TO COAST with Ron Reagan, a man from the Evergreen Foundation was on air spinning the myth that the President had to "beg" the Governor of Louisiana to take action. Having been on this show several times I called one of the bookers, Susan Durrwatcher, to alert her to the fact that this man was misrepresenting what happened. I offered Susan the following objective, documented facts (see timeline below). Susan thanked me for my "opinion" and said "we just have a different perspective". Stunned, I asked her by what standard of journalism that an objective fact was mere opinion? I asked her to simply look at the documents and correct the record. She declined. I asked her to remove me from the MSNBC list of contacts. I'm sure MSNBC won't miss me and I am certain I will have a happy life without having to subject myself to their unprofessional approach to journalism.
The Bush White House is furiously spinning to lay the blame on the Governor and Mayor of Louisiana. My position is that I think both the Governor and the Mayor can be faulted on a variety of fronts. I do not absolve them of their responsibility to properly and fully implement their own emergency response plans. However, the Governor followed the appropriate protocol and, in accordance with the National Response Plan (NRP), asked the President in accordance with the Stafford Act, to declare a State of Emergency.
Friday, 26 August 2005, Governor of Louisiana declares state of emergency
Saturday morning, 27 August 2005, Governor of Louisiana asks President Bush to declare a state of emergency and requests Federal Assistance "to save lives and property". Note, the letter was published on 27 August 2005 on Lexis Nexis but was dated 28 August 2005. Bush received the letter on Saturday and responded on the same day by declaring a State of Emergency. Note, per the NRP, William Lokey was designated as the Federal Coordinating Officer for Federal recovery operations in Louisiana.
Sunday, 28 August 2005, Mayor of New Orleans orders Mandatory Evacuation.
(Note: In Governor Blanco's request on the 27th, there is a specific request for help with evacuation and a specific request for help to "save lives and protect property". )
Monday, 29 August 2005, FEMA Director Brown requests DHS Secretary Chertoff's help in getting 1000 DHS employees ready to deploy to the disaster within 48 hours.
Under the National Response Plane (see p. 93, Figure 11), once the President declares a State of Emergency the Department of Homeland Security is supposed to implement the Plan. Initially, DHS is supposed to deploy an Emergency Response Team to the State to provide expertise in assessing needs and determining appropriate courses of action. Moreover, on p. 52 of the NRP the President may act proactively under the Stafford Act.
Folks, these are not OPINIONS, these are cold, objective facts. However, MSNBC and other members of the Main Stream Media, are confused about what is a fact and what is opinion."
Well, it didn't take long.
I guess we can hope that there wil be a few Trajans, Hadrians and Antonines down the road somewhere.
"Barbara Bush: Things Working Out 'Very Well' for Poor Evacuees from New Orleans
By E&P Staff
Published: September 05, 2005 7:25 PM ET updated 8:00 PM
H.W.Bush, on a tour of hurricane relief centers in
Houston, Barbara Bush said today, referring to the
poor who had lost everything back home and evacuated,
The former First Lady's remarks were aired this
evening on National Public Radio's "Marketplace"
She was part of a group in Houston today at the
Astrodome that included her husband and former
President Bill Clinton, who were chosen by her son,
the current president, to head fundraising efforts for
the recovery. Sen. Hilary Clinton and Sen. Barack
Obama were also present.
In a segment at the top of the show on the surge of
evacuees to the Texas city, Barbara Bush said: "Almost
everyone I’ve talked to says we're going to move to
Then she added: "What I’m hearing which is sort of
scary is they all want to stay in Texas. Everyone is
so overwhelmed by the hospitality.
"And so many of the people in the arena here, you
know, were underprivileged anyway, so this--this (she
chuckles slightly) is working very well for them.""
I guess "noblesse oblige" wasn't a principle taught at her finishing school. This just takes a few seconds.
Thanks to "J" for this.
Washington is full of men and women who think that a solemn face and dark,expensive clothes mark them as members of the ruling class.
Perhaps they do. If that is the case, it is no wonder we are such a dull, self obsessed lot in this town.
On Sunday Tim Russert spoke on "Meet the Press" with Jefferson Parish President Aaron Broussard who has literally been in the "soup" for the last week, trying to deal with the life and death problems of real Americans, not the phony squabbling over influence and contracts that makes of so much of life in the capital of the United States.
Watch the video to see a "government man" who lives with his people.
In my earlier post "Posse Comitatus and the Use of Troops" I maintained that federal armed forces assistance is available to the governments of the states in an emergancy if application is made for such assistance under the "Stafford Act." This act creates an exception to the "Posse Comitatus" act on the basis of a state's desire to be helped.
Larry Johnson has researched the "paper trail" on what happened and has written on it. There appears to be some disagreement among the White House, FEMA, and Governor Blanco about this.
It looks to me that Blanco made her request before the emergency.
Go take a look.
The "worm has turned" in the national media. Reporters in the field in New Orleans and Mississippi are visibly and audibly enraged at the tragedy and destruction of what is before them. The anger filling all but the most abject media servants of the prevailing incompetence is most impressive.
Nevertheless, the bureaucracy and the ruling politicians are still doing everything they can to "spin" the situation in the way that commanders do in "after action reports" to make themselves look as good as they can manage in the face of evidence of their incompetence, neglect or cowardice.
Their remaining allies in the media are still at it. On a national news show this Sunday morning two participants known for their close government relations, both from the national media, did their best to "blame the victims." From discussions here in Washington it is clear to me that the "talking points" went out last night to the faithful.
What was said? In response to a discussion of government failure, indifference and incompetence as a source of the protracted suffereing of the people of New Orleans, both of these people implied that it was the "backwardness" and "social injustice" of society in these states that formed the background and root cause for what has happened.
Some addtitional "talking points" evident today were:
-No one could have known. (That one isn't selling well)
-We have to MOVE ON. We have the people's work to do!! It wil be time enough later... (Is Bill advising these guys?)
We have seen a lot of cynical, methodical manipulation of public opinion in recent years. Some of this has been the fruit of the emergence of a "doctrine" of deliberate "Information Operations." Falsehood or distortion injected into the "public mind" has become a routine of government. In addition, some of the management of information has been accomplished through the simple mechanism of threatening and intimidating media executives (overtly or implicitly) with denial of access to sources of information.
Not surprisingly, those implicated in the guilt over this present catastrophe are fighting back.
Two reporters from Fox News have publicly raged against what they saw in New Orleans. (See Below) The anchor talking to them did everything but disown them. Everywhere the government is defending itself as best it can by blaming state government, by blaming local government.
Now they are going to blame the people of Louisiana and Mississippi.